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.

Aviary Photo_130195312311234086

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 

Aviary Photo_130195314818109758

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

Aviary Photo_130195317236916555

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….

Aviary Photo_130195302751228646

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

Aviary Photo_130195299795245054

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.

Aviary Photo_130195300252999148

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

Aviary Photo_130195300721670482

Aviary Photo_130195301589006563

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

Aviary Photo_130195302480198593

Aviary Photo_130195302985214083

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

Advertisements

Banana Cream Bread

Good Morning!

Hard to believe the weekend has already come & gone. It went way too quickly. I actually had to work most of the weekend, to play ‘catch up,’ because I wasn’t able to do much during the week. This past week was pretty rough with Gabriella, and I tie it mainly to teething. I feel bad, I really wish I could help her because I know she has to be in pain.

One thing that kind of caught me off guard though is that she is kind of going through a regression. We got over the ‘only Mommy can hold me or be around me’ phase about a month or so ago….or so I thought. It’s baaaaaaaaaaack!

She only wants to be around me, or have me hold her. Most of the time she won’t even go to Craig, well I take that back, she will go to him, but only if she can see me. If I’m out of the room she has a break down. Just to further explain how much the attachment phase has come back, I can’t even take a shower or bath without her. She actually crawled into the shower with me while I had her playing on the floor. The second she saw me, she came right in (the door was open of course- I have my eye on her the entire time) WITH her clothes & diaper on. I just had to laugh! She looked up at me like, ‘oh hey Mom! I just wanted to get cleaned up too.’ Love that little girl & I love how much she makes me laugh.

Aviary Photo_130178659432049396

Sometimes it’s hard though, because I really can’t get any help. I just remind myself that she won’t be this little for long, and it’s actually pretty cute HOW much she wants to be with me. And one of my VERY FAVORITE things is that when she goes to look for me if I am out of the room, is that she heads straight to the kitchen! LOVE that!! She knows how much her Mommy likes to cook.

The other day I had a bunch of super ripe bananas. (YUCK!) I always buy a ton because Gabriella will eat them too- especially in her morning oatmeal. Her favorite breakfast right now is oatmeal with chia seeds, mashed banana and a little bit of YoBaby banana smoothie mixed in. It’s quite tasty, I must say. She has good taste! Smile

I also had one of my very favorite packages arrive in the same day.

IMG_6972

Makes my day when you see this arrive on your porch! Chobani is my very favorite yogurt company, not only for their delicious yogurt, but also because they have one of the VERY BEST customer service teams. I love how they instantly respond to comments on any social media and always want to make the consumers happy! You don’t see that too often these days.

When I opened up the box I happily found a TON of yogurt!

Aviary Photo_130188887729898165

0% Vanilla, 0% Plain & 2% Plain. I really like the new labeling for the vanilla! The plain varieties are PERFECT substitutions for so much like sour cream, heavy cream, oil, butter, mayonnaise, and cream cheese.

Once I saw that I had over ripe bananas and a new shipment of Chobani, my mind got to work & I decided to make quick bread, because that’s what over ripe bananas are best for. Smile

One of my favorite desserts is actually banana pudding, or banana cream pie. NOTHING is better than homemade banana pudding with fresh cream, bananas & vanilla wafers. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I wanted to re-create that same flavor, but in bread form. That is how this recipe came to be- Banana Cream Bread.

Aviary Photo_130188885282902973

Banana Cream Bread

(adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt (I used 0% Chobani)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour  
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 large ripe bananas, mashed (the riper the better)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, divided

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, cream butter, and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add Greek yogurt and vanilla; mix well.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; stir into creamed mixture just until moistened. Fold in mashed banana and 1/4 cup nuts.
  • Pour into a greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pan. Sprinkle with remaining nuts. Bake at 350° for 65-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Yield: 1 loaf.

Aviary Photo_130188886366826965

Aviary Photo_130188886903863430

The addition of the Greek yogurt gives the bread a nice flavor, and adds in the ‘cream’ flavor without the added calories & fat of REAL cream.

The house had such a nice smell while it was baking, and of course I could barely wait for it to cool before slicing it. So I had to cut a few slices since the first couple crumbled, which meant I had to eat them. Smile

I know that there are THOUSANDS of banana bread recipes, but I guarantee you this one will not leave you disappointed!

I know it’s hard to think about, but tell me your favorite part of Monday.
Mine is that it’s long run day!! I truly enjoy starting the week off with a long run- usually 12-13 miles, just depends on how my legs feel…and if my child will continue to nap Winking smile

If you eat Chobani, what’s your favorite flavor?

Big Step In Parenting

Last night I was so exhausted that the thought of writing a post was out of the question. We are all allowed those nights, right?? Smile I really have no idea why I was so tired, (well ok maybe it was the 13 miles I did…I’m insane- I know!) but it just hit me like a ton of bricks.

Anyways, back to regular posting today!

So I wanted to talk about HOW MUCH friends mean to me. I know it may sound silly, but I really can’t tell you enough how much my friends have been there for me. It’s been an interesting month- lots of both ups and downs. But what helped get through the not so good moments was the support from friends.

I know when I first had Gabriella my Mother in Law very much encouraged me to try to find some other Moms in the area. Not just so that we could have play dates & talk about our crazy kids but also for the support they offer. Also for the advice and relatable stories that they have- makes you feel like your child really isn’t all that crazy. Winking smile

G bathing suit

I have been loving that Gabriella is getting more socialized. Honestly the past two months she has changed SO MUCH! We have play dates every week, and she is friends with one of the neighbor’s kids as well- who she sees every day. (His Mom & I go walking in the afternoon with the kids) She used to really only let Craig or I hold her, and at one point (sometimes even now) she only lets me hold or play with her.

But since being around other children & babies, she is little miss social butterfly! Even my Mom made a comment while we were in Jacksonville as to how much she has changed. That she was completely fine with playing and I didn’t have to be right next to her all the time. My Mom & Dad were able to play with her and they enjoyed their time together. It was really sweet!

IMG_6742

This past weekend was a new step in our world as parents. Craig and I were invited to a cookout at a friend’s house. It started around 4pm, and we were planning to leave around 7/ 7:30pm in order to get Gabriella to bed. Well, while I was getting all of her stuff together (isn’t it AMAZING how such a little person requires SO.MUCH.STUFF?!) I threw in her PJ’s, so that we could get her all ready for bed before getting her in the car.

Well we decided to try something new. Our friends also have kids. So they had everything we needed. A pack n’ play, a sound machine, and a quiet room. Can you say perfect?!! Another reason you have to love friends with kids- they understand what you are going through and tell you NOT to apologize.

Craig & I wanted to stay for a bit to hang out with everyone, since we really don’t get to do that often and we were having a GREAT time.

ANYWAYS, to make a long story short, Gabriella did WONDERFUL!!! She was able to sleep in the pack n play until we were ready to leave. We actually stayed longer than expected (after midnight…OMG…who are we!?! Winking smile ), and I ended up just nursing her back to sleep when we got home.

It was SO nice to know that we can actually DO THINGS! We can go to other people’s houses, and enjoy ourselves. I know that sounds SO silly, but it really was a HUGE step. I was nervous to take her out of her element, but she did better than expected. That’s why half of the time I feel like I’m the one that has issues instead of Gabriella Winking smile I just need to trust in her, girlfriend knows how to impress her Momma!

And one way to win over all of your friends’ hearts, just in case your child is a crazy person is to make them Better than Crack Brownies! You gotta be prepared, people! Open-mouthed smile

Aviary Photo_130184943226113224

I have made these before for my family in Maryland, and they were a hit there. With the ingredients, you CANNOT go wrong!

Better-Than-Crack Brownies

(Copied DIRECTLY from How Sweet Eats)

1 batch brownies (boxed mix or oooey gooey brownies)

1/2 cup salted peanuts (if don’t have salted, add sea salt)

1 cup chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups

1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 tablespoon butter

1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies Cereal

Mix brownies according to directions, and bake for 20-25 minutes in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Remove and top with peanuts and peanut butter cups, and bake for 4-6 minutes more.

While they are finishing baking, melt chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter. Stir in cereal. Remove brownies from oven and evenly pour chocolate mixture over top.

Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

DELICIOUS!!

IMG_7025

I know it sounds sad but I feel like it was a big step in our ‘parenting life.’ Smile The fact that we know she can sleep OTHER places, not just her crib, is HUGE.

Happy Hump Day Open-mouthed smile 

Have you tried these brownies??? PLEASE DO!!

Parents: Did you have this same issue? Was it a big deal when you realized you could actually ENJOY yourselves rather than adjusting to your child’s routine?

Working With Yeast Again: French Bread Recipe

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE bread. Any & all types of bread. If I had to eat the same food everyday for the rest of my life, it would be fresh bread & butter.

I always wanted to make my own bread, without a bread machine. I wanted to make true, ‘from scratch,’ bread. The only thing is that yeast used to freak me out. I tried cooking with it once, and things did NOT turn out well, so from that point on I just kind of gave up on it. This is rare for me, anything involving cooking I will try over and over again until I get it right. For some reason though, using yeast again was not an option…until a couple of weeks ago.

Aviary Photo_130177866537283356

I really wanted French bread to go with our dinner, but I didn’t feel like going to the store to get it. So I thought I would give baking with yeast one more try. Boy am I glad I did!

This bread turned out PERFECT! SO make tastier than store bought bread, and it was actually pretty easy to make. Although time consuming, worth every second.

Aviary Photo_130177867771862033

French Bread

(adapted from this recipe)

Yield: 2 large loaves

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup warm water (100-110 degrees F)

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast

  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional flour for kneading

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 1 and 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)

  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal

  • 1 egg white

  • 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

  1. Proof Yeast: In a medium bowl combine 1/2 cup warm water, sugar, and the two packages of yeast, let stand 10 minutes. If mixture doubles in volume, the yeast is active. (if not, your yeast may be expired)
  2. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast mixture and salt. Stir in 1 and 1/2 cups warm water, and beat until well blended using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Knead for about 8 to 10 minutes total. (**Do NOT try to rush your kneading time- be sure to knead the ENTIRE time- even set a timer, if need be.) Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn once. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled. (I left it for about 2 hours to rise, but that long is not necessary- at least an hour, I would say.)
  4. Punch dough down, and divide in half. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each half into large rectangle. Roll up, starting from a long side. Moisten edge with water and seal. Taper ends.
  5. Grease a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water, and brush on. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until nearly doubled, 35 to 40 minutes.
  6. With a very sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across top of each loaf. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for 20 minutes. Brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until bread tests done. If necessary, cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning. Remove from baking sheet, and cool on a wire rack.

Aviary Photo_130178027668235172

Mmmmm just looking at it again makes me want to bake some more TODAY! I was amazed at HOW good it turned out. It was soft, and fluffy.

Aviary Photo_130178027880028281

This bread was the perfect complement to our pasta dinner- of course served with a bit of butter. Can’t have fresh bread without butter! Smile

The only thing that I did learn, sadly, is that because this bread is home made, there are no preservatives. You either have to eat it within a day or two, or freeze it. We couldn’t eat the whole loaf the first night (thankfully I froze the second loaf right away), and I went to go and eat it a few days later only to have stale bread. Bummer! Now I know.

I actually want to try baking with more yeast. I really enjoyed making this bread, kneading gets out a lot of frustration. Winking smile I think I may try homemade pizza dough this week, and maybe I’ll branch out even further as time goes on. I don’t know why it took me so long to try using it again, it’s really not that intimidating at all!

Favorite type of bread??
Mine is sourdough.

If you had to chose one food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Strawberries N’ Cream Bread + Video of Gabriella

So apart for the sleep training & a few nights of crying, Gabriella is at a REALLY fun age! I feel like I say that every time I talk about her age, but seriously it just keeps getting more fun. Her little personality just comes out more & more.

She also started crawling…which of course was HUGE! I caught it on video (I hope it works- if it doesn’t work & you want to see it, try playing it in ‘full screen’ mode), which you can see below. Please don’t fun of my voice- I was sick (very sick!) & of course I was doing baby talk. Winking smile

As you can see her funny crawl is more of a frog hop- she looks hilarious!

Monday night we started baby proofing because the first thing that caught her attention are the outlets and she is UNSTOPPABLE. Even though she ‘hops’ along she can MOVE! My Mom was cracking up when she saw her. She was like ‘well, it’s definitely not a ‘normal’ crawl, but she is crawling!’

We also had to add a baby gate to the front of our TV/ DVD area because she pretty much attacks the DVDs the second we aren’t looking. (which doesn’t happen anymore, this was before we realized HOW mobile she really was)

Aviary Photo_130172667367327297

(Mom: Please note which movie we are watching, Despicable Me, and please notice the part that it is currently on. Winking smile She’s definitely your grandchild because it is actually the only movie she will sit and watch. Not that I can blame her! Smile )

I also love how much Gabriella loves being in the kitchen. She can be incredibly fussy & then I bring her into the kitchen with me while I cook dinner and she LOVES it. I can already tell she is going to be the BEST kitchen helper! I am VERY much looking forward to making Christmas cookies with her this year!!! It makes my heart melt when I think about it.

The other day our afternoon walk plans were ruined. It was POURING outside & there was NO way that we could do anything outdoors. I could tell Gabriella was getting a little antsy, so I figured we would head to the kitchen & figure out something to bake.

I looked through a few recipes & decided on Strawberries N’ Cream bread. It is the perfect summertime bread, full of fresh strawberries & Greek yogurt for the ‘cream.’

IMG_5733

I changed a few things around to make this bread a bit healthier and no one will know the difference between the original recipe & this ‘health-ified’ recipe, I guarantee it Smile

Strawberries N’ ‘Cream’ Bread

(adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup Truvia baking blend*
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt (I used 0% Chobani)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

*If you prefer not to use the Truvia baking blend, just use 3/4 cup sugar & omit the 1/4 cup additional sugar.

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, cream butter, Truvia and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg, then egg white. Add Greek yogurt and vanilla; mix well.
  • Combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; stir into creamed mixture just until moistened. Fold in strawberries and 1/4 cup nuts.
  • Pour into a greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pan. Sprinkle with remaining nuts. Bake at 350° for 65-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Yield: 1 loaf.

Aviary Photo_130172676540171220

Not only did I have a very happy baby (happy baby, happy life Winking smile ) while we were baking, but I also ended up with a DELICIOUS quick bread that we could all enjoy! Not only did we enjoy it by the slice, but it’s also good crumbled in yogurt, Chobani of course. Open-mouthed smile 

The best part about this recipe is that you probably have all of the ingredients in your house right now! And you may just want to try this bread out for your July 4th holiday breakfast. Perfect way to start the day.

Any fun plans for tomorrow?? Do share!

We are heading to Jacksonville to see my family & to see some of my friends. I can’t wait!! And of course I can’t wait for Gabriella to see fireworks!! I have a feeling she’s going to love them!

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.

2013-Dirty-Dozen-EWG 

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

IMG_6363

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!

IMG_6318

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

Aviary Photo_130171115940272392

Aviary Photo_130171116280791213

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.

Aviary Photo_130171116504254130

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

Aviary Photo_130171116702236431

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??

Spicy BBQ Ranch Burgers

I just want to say Thank you! Thank you for the comments, tweets & emails about yesterday’s post. It was just a topic that really hit home for me, and sounded like it did for you too. Isn’t it funny how God can speak to us in the most mysterious ways?!

Another thing I’ve been ‘learning’ lately is to just kind of sit back & ENJOY life. Take it ALL in! You know how teaches me this the most?? Gabriella.

Aviary Photo_130166796867078755

I just love how you can see her soaking up the world! EVERYTHING is new for her, and she really does take the time to stop & smell the roses. Winking smile She enjoys just sitting outside playing in the grass, she will just sit & pick at the grass piece by piece. Just observing & feeling the textures. It is just so cool to watch.

Aviary Photo_130166798805808416

I’m a very ‘go go go’ type of person. It’s rare that I take the time to sit down & just relax. It’s just so important to relax sometimes, just to enjoy the world around you. She shows me how to do this, and I appreciate that.

She also got into some of her Daddy’s old toys that we brought out of storage while we were packing up her infant stuff, and had a blast playing with them. Her favorite was Slimer. Smile

Aviary Photo_130166795470122527

As I mentioned in a previous post, quick dinners are a Mother’s dream! Nothing like a home cooked meal that you can get to the table in less than an hour, or preferably less than 30 minutes.

While browsing through the grocery store the other day, I saw that Hidden Valley Ranch had a new seasoning mix- Spicy Ranch.

IMG_6092 (2)

I have used the traditional mix before. I really love putting the mix on diced potatoes & then roasting them in the oven, it is a great side dish to almost any dinner.

But when I saw the spicy version, I had something else in mind. One of my favorite things to make are chicken burgers- there are SO many different variations that you can make! Using a prepackaged seasoning mix makes this meal EVEN easier! I just added a few other things into the meat & they were on the table in under 30 minutes. The best part is that they were husband approved. (He even went back for another one!)

Spicy BBQ Ranch Burgers

Ingredients:

– 1 lb. ground chicken (I used 94% fat free & it worked perfectly)
– 1 package spicy Ranch seasoning mix
– 1 tsp. onion powder
– 2 tsp. minced garlic
– 3 tbsp. of your favorite BBQ sauce
– 4 hamburger buns, sliced in half
– toppings of your choice, I used guacamole, American cheese (for Craig’s) additional BBQ sauce, lettuce & sliced tomatoes (other ideas: Ranch dressing, sliced onions, ketchup, chili sauce)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease or line a baking pan with foil and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the first five ingredients.

Aviary Photo_130166540130362061

3. Divide the chicken mixture into four equal parts, and shape in the form of hamburger patties. Place them on your greased baking sheet.

IMG_6095

4. Bake in the preheated oven for about 12 – 15 minutes, or until the middle of the burger is cooked thoroughly. (Not pink in the middle). Remove from the oven, and add a burger to each hamburger bun. Top with your choice of toppings.

Aviary Photo_130166801475104331

So EASY! & so delicious!

And for dessert?

Aviary Photo_130166796259103807

Jeremiah’s Italian Ice, because Gabriella made me do it. Winking smile

Do you have a favorite burger recipe? (one that I can use ground chicken instead of ground beef)
Italian Ice or Frozen Yogurt?