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Family, Food & Recipes

Holiday Snack Mix & Travel with Kids

November 15, 2017

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img_6588This post is sponsored by SC Johnson. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make the content on Espresso and Cream possible. #ZiplockHolidayUAI

Back before I had kids, my visions of weekend baking projects were pretty idyllic and, I now realize, unrealistic. I imagined my child happily cutting out cookie dough and decorating cookies, mess-free. Of course now that I have two kids of my own I know better than to tackle elaborate or time-intensive baking projects. Because Ainsley is bound to lose patience and I’m bound to be picking up a giant mess long after the project has lost it’s novelty. So these days, we keep our holiday baking projects on the simple side and everyone in the family is a lot happier because of it.

We have a few holiday road trips coming up in the next few weeks, including some air travel to visit family in Florida, so I’ve been planning and strategizing on how I’m going to keep not one but TWO kids happy in the car and in the air. My solution: busy bags filled with all sorts of goodies, activities and fun new and inexpensive toys. Because we all know that an entertained child is a happy child.

I headed to our local Walmart last week before music class to pick up a bunch of goodies for our trip, along with the supplies to make this Holiday Snack Mix recipe. Ainsley and I made the snack mix together, then portioned it into Ziploc® Brand Storage Snack bags for our travels. We also tied some of the bags with ribbon for gifting to friends and family.

I filled the Ziploc® Brand Storage Gallon bags with coloring books, crayons, stickers, inexpensive figurines (Ainsley’s favorite!), our homemade snack mix, a few new movies, and more. Hopefully these bags provide hours of entertainment and delight while we are doing our holiday travels!

Partnering with SC Johnson on this post was a total no-brainer for me, because as a mom of littles, I use Ziploc® Brand bags for pretty much everything. I always have at least a few Ziploc® Brand Storage Gallon bags in the car as makeshift trash cans on road trips to keep the car clean and organized and to keep figurines and toys grouped together and keep a bunch in my purse for air travel to contain trash and dirty diapers. Mom hacks all around!

Check out the full (easy!) recipe below. And if you’re a frequent Walmart shopper like me, there are also some great coupons available here.

Holiday Snack Mix
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 10 oz. white almond bark
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 6 cups square-shaped rice cereal
  • 2 cups pretzel sticks
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup red and white candy-coated chocolate pieces
  • Red and green sprinkles
Instructions
  1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, microwave the almond bark, peanut butter and butter on HIGH 30 seconds. Stir; continue to microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring between intervals, until almond bark, peanut butter and butter are melted. Continue to stir until mixture is well combined. Stir in the peppermint extract.
  2. Combine cereal and pretzel sticks in a large mixing bowl. Pour almond bark mixture over cereal and stir until well combined and cereal is evenly coated. Transfer mixture to a Ziploc® Brand Gallon Bag and add in powdered sugar. Seal back and gently shake to coat cereal with the powdered sugar.
  3. Transfer mixture to a flat surface covered with parchment, waxed paper or aluminum foil. Spread in an even layer and add in the candy-coated chocolate pieces. Sprinkle with the red and green sprinkles. Let cool completely.
  4. Divide the mixture into Ziploc® Brand Snack Bags. Tie with ribbon, as desired.

This post is not sponsored or affiliated with Walmart.

Food & Recipes

Greek Chickpea Salad with Pita

October 17, 2017

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We don’t eat many vegetarian meals as a family, but once or twice per week I like to serve up something that is vegetarian both as a cost saving measure and for the health benefits. The only requirements I have for vegetarian meals is that they are filling and contain a good amount of vegetarian protein from beans, lentils, etc.

This recipe is ultra easy to throw together. All you have to do is chop a few tomatoes and cucumbers, then toss everything together and serve! Seriously, I think it took a total of 5 minutes to make this dinner, which is the ultimate win in my book. As an added bonus, this makes great leftovers the next day for lunch.

Greek Chickpea Salad with Pita
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • ½ of a medium English cucumber, chopped
  • 6 oz. crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Juice from ½ of a lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup pitted and halved Kalamata olives
  • 4 whole wheat pita bread rounds (I like Joseph's brand)
  • Mixed greens (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber and feta. Drizzle with the olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkle with the salt, pepper and oregano. Stir gently to evenly combine. Spoon mixture into bowls. Top each bowl with some of the olives. Serve with whole wheat pita bread rounds and mixed greens, if desired.
  2. *This recipe can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

 

Food & Recipes

BLT Chopped Salad + Homemade Bread

October 12, 2017

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Hi everyone! So sorry for the delay in posting my next recipe on the Week of Recipes. I got a little sidetracked by turning 30, but I’m excited to be posting this recipe today and wrapping up the week of recipes tomorrow with the fifth and final recipe!

When time is really crunched but I’m looking for a healthy meal for our family I typically reach for a big salad and toss a bunch of different fun ingredients in for variety. This BLT salad is on pretty heavy rotation at our house in some form or another.

Also: I used to think I wasn’t a bread baker. Until I discovered Pinch of Yum’s Miracle No Knead Bread and it changed everything. It’s so incredibly easy, cheap and fun to make. Yes, fun! I mean, when you bake bread that looks and tastes as good as a bakery, you start to really get excited about the whole thing.

BLT Chopped Salad
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 hearts of Romaine lettuce
  • 12 oz. bacon, crisp cooked and chopped
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes (1 used grape tomatoes because we had some from the garden)
  • 2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • Dressing of choice (Joe and I like to mix Balsamic Vinaigrette and Poppyseed 50/50)
Instructions
  1. Chop Romaine lettuce into bite-size pieces. In a large bow, toss together the lettuce, bacon, tomatoes and feta. Drizzle lightly with salad dressing of choice and toss to coat. Spoon mixture into bowls. Serve with homemade bread.
  2. *Vegetarian Option: Add bacon at the end. Serve the veg option with chickpeas or black beans instead of the bacon.

 

Family, Food & Recipes

Sweet Potato Chili Bake + Kale

October 3, 2017

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Next up in our Week of Recipes on Espresso and Cream is a fun way to remix your chili leftovers. Originally, I was going to take baked potatoes and top them with the chili, plus a few other toppings, but after thinking it through I decided that putting together something in casserole form might be easier for the busy moms out there who want to prep their meals before work or other activities. Then all that is left to do is toss the dish in the oven and let it bake until the potatoes are tender!

Using the sweet potatoes as a stretch food for the remaining chili yielded LOTS of leftovers for lunches, and I could see you easily freezing some of the leftover portions to reheat down the road if you are into that type of thing. 🙂

Sweet Potato Chili Bake + Kale
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, sliced ¼-inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2½ cups leftover Three Bean Chili with Beef
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese or cheddar cheese
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray a 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray or brush with oil.
  2. Toss sweet potatoes with the 1 tablespoon oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Layer potatoes into prepared baking dish. Spread leftover chili evenly over potatoes. Top with the shredded cheese.
  3. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  4. Just before serving, massage chopped kale with olive oil and salt. Transfer to a skillet and sautee 3 to 5 minutes over medium heat until kale is tender and slightly crispy. Serve with sweet potato bake.

 

Family, Food & Recipes

Three Bean Chili with Beef and Kale

October 2, 2017

img_5571Happy Monday, friends! I’m checking in today with the second recipe from the “Week of Recipes” on Espresso and Cream. This is the second recipe as part of a week long meal plan full of easy, tasty, family-friendly weeknight meals. For the full meal plan and recipe, head on over to THIS post and stay tuned throughout the week for the rest of the week’s recipes.

Since it’s starting to cool off in my neck of the woods I’ve been all about making big batches of chili. One of the biggest issues I’ve had with chili in the past is that we end up having SO much leftover because it’s just me at Joe and Ainsley doesn’t eat all that much. And while I do love leftovers, eating chili all week isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of a good time. So this recipe is going to get refashioned into a new recipe tomorrow. Stay tuned for the recipe!

PS: If you have vegetarians in your family see the recipe directions for an easy way to please vegetarians and meat eaters alike!

Three Bean Chili with Beef and Kale
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. lean (at least 80%) ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or grape seed oil
  • 1 medium red, yellow, or orange sweet pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I like the pre minced jarred garlic for weeknight ease)
  • 1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) chili beans in sauce (I like Mrs. Grimes)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained but not rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz.) white beans, drained but not rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • Sour cream, shredded cheese, whole grain scoop-style tortilla chips for serving
Instructions
  1. In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, brown ground beef; drain and set ground beef aside. Add oil to stock pot along with the chopped pepper and cook over medium high heat 4 to 6 minutes or until peppers are tender, adding in the garlic the last minute of cooking.
  2. Add in the tomatoes, chili beans, black beans, white beans, ground beef and remaining spices. Stir until well combined. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes to blend the flavors together.
  3. If desired, this mixture can be kept in the slow cooker instead of the stovetop.
  4. Just before serving, massage the 1 tablespoon oil into the kale and sprinkle lightly with salt. Sautee kale in a medium skillet over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until kale is slightly crispy and tender.
  5. Spoon kale into bowls. Top with the chili, followed by the cheese, sour cream and whole grain tortilla chips.
  6. *If you want to make a vegetarian option for this meal, prepared chili as directed but add the ground beef at the end, portioning out desired vegetarian chili servings before adding in the ground beef.