Spicy Ranch BLT Braid

Well hello there!! I apologize for the lack of posts last week.

Gabriella and I went up to Jacksonville to visit my parents and Craig was actually out of town for the while week for a work conference. I figured while he was gone it would be a perfect time to visit my family & friends in my hometown.

It was such a nice time, and Gabriella did AWESOME! Remember how I was just talking about all of the attachment issues coming back? Well, much to my surprise she did GREAT with my parents and friends. My Mom watched her for me for a bit one day so that I could shower, and she was fine. The second she saw me though she started crying for me. But the whole ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is key for her.

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LOVE this little chick!

It truly is AMAZING how fast she is growing. My Dad kept commenting on how she would be walking in no time. A few times he would look at her and gasp and I was like what is going on??!?! He thought for sure she was about to start walking! Smile 

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She LOVES her walker, which is above. (please notice those chunky thighs. O.M.G. I just can’t get enough of them!) She constantly wants to walk walk walk. No more stationary toys- I actually packed up her jumperoo, exersaucer, and another walker that you actually put her in. She does not like anything that confines her, girlfriend likes her independence. Winking smile

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Seriously, HOW is that my LITTLE girl!?!?! She looks HUGE! Ahhh, slow down Gabriella, SLOW DOWN!!

Anyways, while I was home I got to thinking of some of my favorite meals that my Mom used to make when I was growing up. One of them happened to be this vegetable chicken braid. It was just a mix of vegetables, chicken & spices wrapped up in crescent rolls. It was delicious- just the mixture always tasted so good and I always loved learning that was what we were having for dinner.

I was craving that thee other night, but wanted to kind of mix things up. After looking on Pinterest for a bit, I got an idea and went from there.

With it I created….

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Spicy Ranch BLT Braid

(adapted from this recipe)

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 slices

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped cooked chicken

1 cup shredded 2% cheddar cheese

3/4 cup crumbled cooked turkey bacon

3/4 cup 2% Plain Chobani

1 package Spicy Ranch seasoning (1 oz. package)

1 package reduced fat refrigerated crescent rolls (Pillsbury 8 oz.)

shredded lettuce

diced tomatoes

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Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the chicken, cheese, turkey bacon, Greek yogurt and Ranch seasoning. Set aside.
  2. Open the crescent rolls. Lay out the dough on a non stick baking sheet. Press together all the seams. Cut small strips 1 1/2 inches apart along both sides. Leave about a 3 inch row in the center that is uncut. Spread the chicken mixture down the center evenly.

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    3.  Cross the strips over each other in a braid pattern. Press the end together. Bake at 375* for 20 minutes.

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    4. Top the braid with lettuce and tomato before serving. Cut into 8 pieces.

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Instead of using mayonnaise like the recipe my Mom has, I subbed in Greek yogurt. I used 2% Chobani, but I’m sure you could also use fat free. I just thought the extra milk fat may make it a bit creamer.

The recipe says it makes enough for four…well, I guess that depends on how hungry you are. Craig and I polished off everything but a tiny little slice. We both really enjoyed it, and it was one of those meals that doesn’t leave you feeling stuffed.

Quick, easy meal for the WIN!

Enjoy your Monday! Gabriella and I have some big plans this week, and we are very much looking forward to it! Open-mouthed smile

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Homemade Clif Z Bars

HAPPY JULY!!! How is 2013 already half over?!?!?

After having a child, I now understand why people try to buy a lot of organic foods. I did some research on the pesticides used on fruits and vegetables and it is kind of scary.

I try my best to buy only organic produce, especially for Gabriella. Sometimes it’s pretty pricy, so if I can’t buy everything organic I at least buy the ‘dirty dozen’ organic.

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Have you guys ever tasted the difference between organic apples & regular apples? It is UNREAL! The organic ones are SO much sweeter! I found that the regular apples sometimes taste very bland, and then I switched to organic. So much better! And when they are in season the price really isn’t bad at all.

One thing that Craig & I have enjoyed doing is going to the local farmer’s market on Sundays. I get all of our produce for the week, and we enjoy showing Gabriella all of the sites & sounds. She also usually gets to play at the park and with the ducks when we are finished, so it’s a win win for her. Smile

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Did you know that getting the ‘USDA’ organic recognition is pretty expensive? So most of the produce sold at farmer’s markets is actually organic (or they use organic controls), they just don’t have the money (or don’t want to spend that much) to get the ‘USDA’ organic label. Just ask the people that have the produce while you are there. I did that this past weekend and was told that most of the items were actually organic, and those that weren’t only had VERY minimal pesticides. (Just pesticides to keep the worms away when they first start growing the produce.)

While I was making her food this week (& smoothies- she LOVES smoothies!) I got to thinking that I can’t wait to make her ‘big girl food’ too. I started looking around for different recipes to ‘pin,’ just for different ideas. Since I volunteered for snacks for Bible study last week I got to find one of the recipes that I had pinned. It happened to come from one of my very favorite Mom bloggers- Mama Pea!

When I saw that she had a recipe for ‘copy cat’ Clif Z bars, I knew I HAD to try it!

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Not only does this recipe use all natural & pretty healthy ingredients, I also found it VERY easy to make!

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I figured the kids at Bible study would enjoy them, because what kid doesn’t like chocolate?! Smile And they were something that I would want to feed Gabriella in the future. They are healthy, but the kids don’t have to know it! As long as they taste good, that’s all that matters!

Copy Cat Clif Z Bars

(Adapted from Mama Pea’s recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 cups oat flour (old fashioned oats ground in a food processor)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 & 1/4 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 & 1/4 cups unsweetened Almond milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup chocolate chips, divided
  • 2 tsp coconut oil

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease or spray an 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine oats, oat flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  • In a smaller bowl, combine applesauce, vanilla and milk.
  • Add applesauce mixture to oat mixture and stir until just combined. Add brown sugar. Fold in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.
  • Pour mixture into baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until bar is set and pulling away from edge of pan.
  • Allow to cool completely before cutting into kid-sized bars.
  • For chocolate drizzle, place 1/4 cup of chocolate chips in a resealable plastic bag and microwave in 30 second increments, kneading bag until chocolate has melted.
  • Add coconut oil to melted chocolate and knead again.
  • Snip a tiny corner of the bag with a pair of scissors. Pipe chocolate across cooled bars and stick bars in fridge or freezer to allow chocolate to set, if desired.
  • Store remaining bars in the fridge.

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Easy, peasy!! And you know what?? I thought they tasted EVEN better than the actual Clif Z bars!

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They were a hit with the kids and the adults! I kept taking little bites of the extra bars that I made, I couldn’t keep my hands off of them.

From now on I’ll be making my own Clif Z Bars! They are freezer friendly & perfect for a snack on the go!

If you like Z bars, you MUST make these!!

I hope that most of you have a short week this week, or at least a break in the middle of the week! Smile My boss actually gave us a half day on Wednesday & off both Thursday & Friday! We are planning a trip to Jacksonville for the long weekend- we have LOTS of people to visit & things to do. I can’t wait!!

Any fun plans to look forward to for the 4th of July?

Favorite granola bar??

Sunday Dinner + Whipped Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Pie

Boy do I have a treat for you guys today. I promise it will banish those Monday blues.

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But before I get to that…let me tell you about our dinner last night.

On occasion Craig’s Italian roots really show. For example, he loves pasta. But not just any pasta, Craig LOVES just plain pasta. I think it’s odd, but I make it for him when I’m not hungry for dinner, or when he’s having a rough day. He likes it that much. I other on the other hand need some kind of sauce with it.

Another thing is that he is obsessed and I mean OBSESSED with Italian movies- Goodfellas & The Godfather. I know most guys are, but he is EXTREME. He will quote both movies (well, all of The Godfather movies) LINE BY LINE. He says he can relate things growing up to the movie…not quite sure what that means, considering all of the blood & guts…but hey, whatever floats his boat. 😉

Recently he decided that he wanted to create a new tradition for our little family of three. Big Sunday dinners. But not just any type of dinner, an Italian dinner. Full of pasta, bread, cheeses, you get the picture.

It works out because we usually eat a big breakfast, skip lunch & then have a large dinner. So then we have plenty of room for a feast!

We started it last Sunday, with the Rigatoni Pasta Pie.

This Sunday was another type of pasta- Crunchy Oven Fried Cheese Ravioli.

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I will not be surprised if I immediately get a phone call, email or comment on this post as to WHY on earth I have not made these for her yet. It is one of her FAVORITE foods to order out, and since she was just down her for a girls weekend with me & G, I know she is saying right now WHY didn’t Holly make these for me then?!! Well, Mom it’s because I just found the recipe & I do apologize, I promise to make these for you soon! 🙂

Now the best part of these is that they are NOT at all fried, as the recipe may imply. They are 100% baked! Gotta love a pasta recipe that is somewhat ‘healthified.’

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I followed Jessica’s recipe exactly- no changes were made. No need to mess with a good thing!

I served them, as suggested with a side of marinara for dipping.

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And because it’s necessary to get our greens with every meal, I made a side Caesar salad (with light dressing). Oh, and don’t laugh at my Valentine’s placemats, they are being replaced with St. Patrick’s Day ones tomorrow. 🙂

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Now onto dessert. I mean that’s the part you were really waiting for, right?! Isn’t that WHY we eat dinner, so that we can have dessert?! 😀 I know that’s what I did as a child, my parents said ‘Three more bits & then you can have dessert.’ Oh boy! It was like dangling a carrot in front of a horse. 🙂

This recipe was one that I just came up with on the fly. I saw a big container of Vanilla Chocolate Chunk Chobani in my fridge & decided to run with it.

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And then I got to thinking…which lead to pulling random ingredients out of the pantry and refrigerator. I swear I was just grabbing whatever sounded good.

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Favorite part about this pie? How EASY it is to make. It’s literally dump everything in, mix it up & freeze.

Whipped Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Pie

Ingredients:

For the crust:
-1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
-2 tbsp. vanilla chocolate chunk Chobani (or just plain vanilla Chobani)
-2 tbsp. brown sugar
-1 tbsp. smooth peanut butter, melted
-1 tbsp. butter or margarine, melted

For the pie:
-16oz. (one large container) 2% Vanilla Chocolate Chunk Chobani
-8oz. Cool Whip
-3/4 cup chunky peanut butter (can also use smooth)
-1/4 cup light chocolate Silk Soymilk
-1/4 cup powdered sugar
-1/4 cup mini chocolate chips, optional
-Reese’s peanut butter cup, chopped (optional)

Directions:

1. Make the crust. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9” pie pan. Take all of the ingredients for the pie & mix together well. I used a potato masher to really mix it up well. It will NOT be smooth, be course, but that’s how it is supposed to be. Bake for 5 minutes.

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2. While the crust is baking, take all of the ingredients for the pie EXCEPT the Reese’s peanut butter cup & mini chocolate chips. mix well in a stand mixer. I mixed everything for about 3-4 minutes on medium low. It was a nice smooth texture. I then poured in the mini chocolate chips & mixed it by hand, until combined.

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3. Pour the pie mixture into the baked pie crust. Top with chopped Reese’s’ if desired. Freeze for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

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I drizzled melted peanut butter & chocolate syrup over the top….makes for a prettier picture 🙂

**Notes about the pie: ”
-The is PLENTY of filling, it will almost look like too much, but it should JUST fit in the 9” pie pan. It may look like it is about to overflow, but it end up all fitting in the crust.
-I recommend that you like Greek yogurt if you decide to make this pie. Since it is a main ingredient, it definitely does taste like Greek yogurt. Just a heads up!

Now I do NOT normally make dessert for dinner when it is just Craig & I. But yesterday I just felt like baking, and I thought Craig deserved a treat. I mean he does have to live in a household with two crazy girls. 😉

Poor little Gabriella is teething & she has been pretty fussy for the past couple of days. She is too little to use Oragel, so we are just giving her lots of things to chew on. Her favorite is my finger though, and she LOVES when I rub her little gums. She just smiles at me. Craig has been awesome with her, and I really appreciate it. I had to run a few errands yesterday, and although I normally do them with her, it’s MUCH quicker if I can run them without her. Nothing like a little chocolate &peanut butter to show him my appreciation. …the way to a man’s heart…;)

I hope that you have a great Monday, if you are working! For those that have off for President’s Day, ENJOY every moment!!

Streusel Pear Coffee Cake

Good Morning!

It’s finally back to reality in these parts…well, kind of. I think we will be living on our Superbowl high for a while! 🙂

But it’s back to regular blogging, and as promised I have a DELICIOUS recipe to share with you today.

First I have to share with you the package that arrived at my doorstep Friday morning.

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Oh Chobani, you spoil me!

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I was SO EXCITED to tear into this package, but I never expected to see that cute spoon!

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Adorable, right?! You better believe that I ate my Chobani with my new spoon that very day!

& then I kept digging into the box for the GOOD STUFF….

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YUM!! The new flavors- Pear (0%) & Banana (2%)! You guys, I had been hunting HIGH & LOW for these flavors ever since I saw they were released. I found the pear about a week ago, but I had yet to find the banana.

The pear was love.at.first.bite! Pears are, by far, my favorite fruit. I typically eat at LEAST one a day. I cannot get enough of them. As for the banana, another HUGE HIT by Chobani. I don’t think they have made a flavor a don’t like! But these two flavors are topping the charts on my favorites. Pear has definitely taken over my #1 favorite spot, it was once dominated by black cherry. The 2% Strawberry banana & 2% Banana are TIED as my #2 favorites. Too hard to pick between the two. 🙂

With all of the greek yogurt that was in my fridge, I got a REALLY bad itch to bake. As you know I LOVE substituting not so healthy ingredients in recipes with greek yogurt and I was on a mission to come up with a recipe using Pear Chobani.

I had a few ideas go through my head, the first one being a pear breakfast bread, but I wanted something a little different than just bread. I mean, don’t get me wrong I LOVE all types of breakfast breads (especially banana bread), but I felt the need to branch out a bit.

Then this came to mind….

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Streusel Pear Coffee Cake

(recipe adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour or regular whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tsp Truvia baking blend (or 3 tbsp sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2- 6oz. containers Pear Chobani
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh pears, seeded and finely chopped, & divided
  • A dash of cinnamon, for topping, if desired
  • Powdered sugar, optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8-inch square cake pan with cooking spray.

Whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, the baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar, cinnamon and walnuts. In a large bowl, beat the brown sugar, butter and 1 of the 6 oz. Pear Chobani containers. If necessary, use the back of a spoon to press out any lumps in the brown sugar. Beat in the egg whites, 1 at a time, beating until fully combined. Beat in the vanilla.

Add the flour mixture in 2 batches. Then add the other 6oz. container of Pear Chobani. Stir until just combined.

Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle half of the nut mixture over the batter and top with half of the pears, gently pressing them into the batter.

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Spoon the rest of the batter into the pan, smoothing the top. Sprinkle the remaining nut mixture over the cake, and then finally the rest of the pears pressing them gently into the batter. Sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon, if desired.

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Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool slightly and then unmold and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.

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Now I have some real feedback for you on the recipe! My Mom came down to stay with me & G Friday & Saturday night, because Craig was out of town, and we just had a girls’ weekend. 😀

While I was baking this, the whole house smelled of cinnamon & brown sugar. Drool. But once it came out of the oven, I was so happy to see how much it had risen- it was nice & fluffy.

I let it cool for a bit & then we dug in. The first thing both of us said was that it’s not OVER the top sweet. In our opinion, it was the perfect amount of sweetness. Sometimes coffee cake can be a bit too sweet, in my opinion, and you can only have a small piece without feeling like sugar overload. But not with this cake, it’s more of a subtle sweetness.

But my Mom had a good idea, if you wanted to sweeten it up a bit- either sprinkle it with a bit of powdered sugar OR make a simple glaze with powdered sugar & milk- which you can just drizzle over the top. The two of us enjoyed it as is and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.

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What I also love about the cake is that there is NO oil & minimal butter. It’s also full of protein from the greek yogurt and very low in fat. For one serving of the cake, which there are 9 servings in this recipe, the nutrition stats are AWESOME!

Calories: 225, Fat: 3 grams, Carbs: 44 grams, & Protein: 8 grams.

You cannot beat that! This is perfect for breakfast on the go- just make the coffee cake on the weekend & you have breakfast for the week! It’s also freezer friendly, so you could always make it & freeze half of it for later.

This has to be one of the best recipes that I have ever come up with. It might be because I’m a little partial to anything pear, but I also thought it was nice & fluffy, with the perfect balance of sweetness.

Please let me know if you try this recipe, I would love to hear what you think! 🙂

Thanks again to Chobani for helping supply my Greek yogurt addiction. 😉