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If the way my boys eat now is any indication of how they will eat in the future, I fear for what my grocery bill will be 10 years from now with three very hungry boys. Getting them to actually sit down and eat a meal in its entirety is challenging, but what I find instead is that they graze all day long.

It’s so easy to fall into the packaged snacks trap. I’m definitely guilty of doling out the squeeze applesauce, Goldfish, and graham crackers out of sheer ease and convenience. I don’t plan on stopping that any time soon, but it’s certainly nice to have some easy, healthy, homemade options too.

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Sometime last year I stumbled across a recipe for muffins with very few and very natural ingredients. They seemed perfect for breakfast, or an afternoon snack, and were very portable. I made them once and enjoyed them a lot. I made them again with a few adjustments and was hooked forever.

These muffins are really tasty. They’re moist and versatile, and we almost always have all the ingredients on hand. They’re also gluten-free, if that’s important to you, and VERY kid-friendly. The boys ask for and devour them regularly.

Oatmeal Banana Muffins
Adapted from Green Lite Bites

  • 3 mashed bananas, the riper the better.
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 3 cups old fashion or rolled oats (not quick cooking oats)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar* (optional)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup raisins, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, etc., etc., etc. The possibilities are endless.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Mix all ingredients together except the raisins (or whichever addition you choose), and let sit while you prepare the muffin pans. (*In regards to the brown sugar: the original recipe is sugar-free. I have made them both ways and enjoy each, but I find that unless the bananas are SUPER over-ripe, they lack a little sweetness. Go in whichever direction your prefer.)

Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray.

Stir the raisins into the oatmeal batter.

Divide batter into muffin cups. They should be just about filled. Mine have yielded 12 muffins every time, but yours may vary based on the size of your tin.

Bake 20-30 minutes until the edges just start to brown and the muffins are firm to the touch.

The muffins may stick when hot but are removed easily when cooled for a bit.Mine usually come out clean after cooling for 10 minutes. When fully cool, store in an air-tight container or zip-top bag. They never last more than two days in our house!

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I really like cheese. REEEAAALLLY like cheese. In my early post-college years my body developed a major dairy aversion and I suddenly found myself unable to eat cheese without majorly regretting it soon after. It was a sad, sad time. Oddly, when I became pregnant with Owen the lactose sensitivity disappeared. Yay, hormones! Suddenly I was back in the cheese in a big way and I haven’t looked back since.

I’m usually really good about keeping a weekly meal plan, but occasionally I find myself staring at a white board with last week’s menu and no idea what to make that night. Enter the Skillet Lasagna. Quick, easy, yummy….cheesy.

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This dish couldn’t be quicker or more versatile. Below is the recipe for the basic cheese skillet lasagna, but you can customize it in so many ways.

Skillet Lasagna
Serves 4-5

Ingredients:

– 6-8 no-bake lasagna noodles, broken to fit the skillet
– 1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce (or homemade!)
– 1/2 -3/4 cup ricotta cheese
– 1 – 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
– 1 tbs garlic powder
– 1 tbs dried oregano
– 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
– salt and pepper to taste

*Optional ingredients: cooked ground beef, sausage, chicken, etc. and any vegetables you like. Great way to use up leftovers!

Directions:

– Preheat oven to 350*

– In small bowl, combine ricotta cheese and all the spices. Adjust to your taste.

– Spread a small amount of tomato sauce in a deep skillet. (If your skillet has a plastic or rubber handle, wrap it in foil to avoid heat damage.)

– Place your first layer of noodles, breaking into pieces to cover the bottom as best you can. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

– Add another layer of sauce, followed by ricotta mixture, (then optional ingredients, if any), then mozzarella.

– Repeat layering process until you have reached the top of the skillet, ending with the mozzarella.

– Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes until brown and bubbly.

 

That’s it! Serve with a side salad and you have a tasty dinner that took no time at all and cooked in one dish. Boom. I should note that I tend to go heavy on the spices, so feel free to start with less and adjust to your taste. I wouldn’t say this is a substitute for a true deep-dish lasagna, but it certainly works in a pinch.

Enjoy!

I long for the day I wake up and find myself one of those women whose house is uncluttered and beautifully organized. I suspect that won’t happen until the kids are grown, or at the very least, when their attention span for toys isn’t that of a gnat.

Home organization I don’t quite have down, but dinner? I’ve figured that one out. I look forward to sitting down each week with my white board, pen and paper and figuring out our meal plan for the week. Not only has it eliminated the end-of-the-day what am I supposed to make for dinner??? panic, it’s streamlined both my shopping trips and food budget.

Below you will find all the meals we ate this past month. There were some repeats of our favorites, and occasionally we get a take-out pizza because…well, I love take-out pizza! I also make a lot of salads because it’s an easy way to get veggies in. You can put almost anything in a salad! I’ve gotten into the habit of snapping quick photos of a lot of our meals, but I will work on getting the recipes written out in the next few weeks and link back to them.

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Week 1

– Calzones, salad
– Cheeseburgers, sweet potato fries, broccoli
– Garlic noodles, salad
– Asian sticky rice bowls
– Leftovers
– Roast chicken, sweet potato crisps
– Take-out pizza

Week 2

– Chicken Enchiladas
– Mini meatloaves, acorn squash, broccoli
– Chicken soup, homemade bread
– Chicken ranch calzones, salad
– Dinner out with friends
– Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, salad
– Leftovers

Week 3

– Chicken bites, spinach, roasted carrots
– Taco salad
– Homemade pizza, salad
– Baked potato soup, homemade bread
Sweet potato quinoa chili
– Leftover soup, salad,
– Burritos

Week 4

– Chicken and vegetable stir fry, rice
– Slow cooker shredded beef tacos
– Chicken soup, homemade bread
– Quinoa mac n cheese, broccoli
– Leftovers
– Homemade pizza, salad
– Mini turkey meatloaves, mashed sweet potatoes, peas

And here’s what we’re eating this week:

Week 5

– Philly Cheesesteaks with peppers and onions
– Skillet lasagna, broccoli
– Roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, peas
– Taco salad
– Chicken tamale pie, salad
– Leftovers
– Spaghetti, chicken meatballs, salad

I like to make at least one dessert a week, too. But maybe that’s a post for another time…

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This recipe came about one night when I realized I had nothing planned for dinner and wondered what I could scrounge up from the contents of the fridge. It came out really good and I’ve since made it a few times, most recently for dinner last night and a second batch I’ll be delivering to a friend today who just had her third baby girl.

There’s no fancy food styling going on here. These un-staged pictures are straight from the phone while I was cooking last night, because halfway through I realized, hey, this is a good recipe to share! So, advance apologizes for any bad lighting, appearance of Owen’s bib, a newborn pacifier in the drainboard, etc. Don’t let the photos fool you…this is yummy!

The basis of this pasta salad is a yogurt dressing rather than your standard oil base. Because of that, I wouldn’t recommend bringing it to an outdoor event where it would be in the sun or heat for an extended period, unless you put it on top of an ice bath. There’s no “real” recipe for this. I kind of just eyeball amounts of things, but I’ll do my best to give you an estimate of how much I use for various ingredients.

Start by making your dressing. I chopped up an handful of Italian parsley and mixed it with a container and a half of plain yogurt. Add in 1-2 squirts of dijon mustard, a healthy sprinkling of salt and pepper, garlic powder and red pepper flakes.

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While this is going on, cook up a pound of bowtie pasta and start your bacon. Line a baking sheet really well with foil, place 5-6 strips on bacon on it and place in oven. Turn it to 400 degrees and give it about 10-15 minutes to get good and crispy. You’ll know when you start to smell that delicious bacon smell. Once you do, check on it periodically and take it out when it’s crispy, but not burnt. Drain on paper towels.

I pretty much make bacon exclusively in the oven; it frees up your burners, cooks evenly, doesn’t really stink up the house and as long as you’ve used enough foil, clean up is as easy as throwing it away.

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Dice up some tomatoes and avocados. Add some corn. You can really use whatever veggies you like here, but these taste yummy together. Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper.

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Drain your cooked pasta. If you’re serving this right away you can run it under cold water to cool it down quickly, or if you have time just let it cool on its own. Throw everything in the bowl together and squeeze half a lime over the top. Crumble in your bacon. Mix.

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If you can, let the pasta salad sit for a bit so the flavors can really marinate, but it’s not totally necessary. This makes a fair amount — usually enough for the three of us to eat dinner, then lunch tomorrow.

Below is the best breakdown of ingredients I could do, but really, make it to your taste. Enjoy!

Pasta Salad with Yogurt Dressing

Ingredients:

– 1 pound of bowtie pasta

– about 8-9 oz. plain yogurt (I used 1.5 individual serving cups)

– small handful (about 1/4 cup) Italian parsley, chopped

– 1-2 teaspoons dijon mustard, to taste

– 1 teaspoon salt

– 1 teaspoon pepper

– about a tablespoon of garlic powder

– 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

– 2 tomatoes, diced

– 2 avocados, diced

– 3/4 cup corn

– 1/2 lime

– 5-6 slices of bacon

Directions:

– Cook and drain pasta. Cook bacon on foil-lined baking sheet at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes until crispy. Drain on paper towel.

– Mix yogurt, parsley, mustard and spices in a small bowl. Set aside.

– Chop tomatoes and avocados and place in large bowl. Add corn. Season with salt and pepper. Add pasta, dressing, lime and crumbled bacon. Mix.

I’ve unofficially begun a Biweekly Baking tradition during the week. It’s usually cookies, but Owen and I have a playdate today and I think it’s nice to bring a little snack for the moms and/or the kids if someone is hosting you. Cookies didn’t really seem to fit the bill for that.

I recently got around to reorganizing my Pinterest boards a little to make it easier for myself to find recipes. I had almost 300 (!!) compiled in one big food board, and it was getting chaotic. During this process, I stumbled across a recipe for yogurt cake that I had pinned and forgotten about. Seemed like the perfect solution for my playdate offering.

The focus of this recipe is Greek yogurt – it uses two single-serving cups – and I think that’s what gives the cake it’s unique texture. My loaf did not come out bread-like or fluffy, which I was expecting based on the photo that accompanied the original recipe. Instead, it came out weighing a ton and is dense, moist and almost undercooked-looking (although it isn’t). Don’t let this scare you! It’s really delicious.

The original recipe offers add-ins to make the loaf lemon-poppy or with berries. She also made hers in two mini-loaf pans rather than one big one. I can’t say for sure whether or not that would affect the texture or not. I made one big lemon-blueberry. It was the right decision!

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This time I took my own photo. All artsy-fartsy and what not. Ha.

Would I make this loaf again? You bet. I’m really enjoying it. And the perk of it being so dense is you can slice small, thin slices to make it stretch further, or make yourself feel better about eating five slices in a row. Not that I would know anything about that.

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Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Loaf (my comments in bold)
From Fresh From the Oven

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 containers of 5.3oz organic Greek yogurt
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
1/4 cup of frozen blueberries (more if you are making a big loaf cake) (I used just about 1/2 cup)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. (Don’t skip this step. Mine slid right out no problem when cooked.)

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated.

Add in blueberries and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean. (Mine was still loose in the middle at 50 minutes. I think my total cooking time was about 57 minutes.)

Meanwhile, cook the 1/4 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a foil-lined sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

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Eat, enjoy, share with friends. Although if you’re my playdate friend, you’re only getting a few slices, because I can’t stop eating it. Sorry!