QUICK Dinner: Greek Tortellini Salad

Who doesn’t love a quick & easy meal? Being a Mom I LOVE them, but not just Moms’ need quick and easy meals. I know how much I valued an easy meal that I could throw together after a stressful, busy work day. We all have those CRAZY days where the thought of making dinner sounds like absolute torture.

I love those meals in which you usually have all of the ingredients in your kitchen. Can’t beat not having to run to the grocery store on your way home or in the middle of the day. Although I cannot tell a lie, I enjoy just browsing the aisles…at least I used to. Before Gabriella. Winking smile If she is being a good girl, sometimes she will sit in the cart with me for a while before getting to be little Miss Fussypants.

Oh gosh, yesterday she was TERRIBLE. I mean TERRIBLE with a capital T. But I blame myself, I wrote about how wonderful she was yesterday…and then CRAZY lady showed up. EEK! No more good talks about Gabriella for a while. I would like to save what little sanity I have left. Winking smile

Without further a do, I present you one of the quickest meals…EVER!

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Ingredients:

-1/2 package of frozen fully cooked tortellini (most frozen packages are 19oz. – that was the size I used)

-1 tsp minced garlic

-1 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp black pepper

-3/4 cup feta (I used tomato & basil flavor)

-5-6 fresh basil leaves, diced (or 1/2 tsp dried)

-15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained & rinse

-1 cup diced tomato

-Fresh spinach (I used baby spinach)

Directions:

1. Cook tortellini according to package.

2. While you are waiting for the water to boil, and then the tortellini to cook, heat a skillet over medium high heat. Spray with cooking spray & add garlic, salt, pepper, feta, basil & beans to pan.

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3. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until feta starts to melt. Then add diced tomatos.

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4. Cook for another two minutes & add cooked tortellini.

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5. Serve atop fresh spinach & ENJOY!!

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Did you notice that piece of bread in the first picture?? I MADE it!

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I am on a ROLL (pun intended Winking smile ) with making homemade bread. I actually really kind of love it. There is really nothing better than pulling out a nice big batch of fresh bread from your oven. I can’t even tell you how quickly the first loaf was devoured by Craig and I.

This time I decided to make ‘copycat’ Macaroni Grill bread. I don’t know if you have ever been to a Macaroni Grill, or if there is one near you, but it is some of the BEST bread! I think Panera may just have my #1 spot for favorite fresh bread.

But let’s be honest, one of the best parts of going to Macaroni Grill is eating plates & plates of their bread. By the time I get my entrée I’m stuff to the gills of bread…which I why I typically order a small salad. I’d rather fill up on bread. Carb-a-holic anyone?! Smile

So when I found a recipe for a knock off of Macaroni Grill’s bread, I was ALL OVER it.

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If you decide to try this recipe, I would just suggest increasing the amount of salt (to maybe 2 tsp- with more sprinkled on top) & the rosemary. (to about 3 tbsp)

Someone else, besides Craig & I, couldn’t keep her hands off of it either.

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We won’t mention any names though Winking smile

Have a wonderful Thursday! I’m hoping for a happier Gabriella today, especially since we are get to see our friends today. YAY for Thursdays- one of my favorite days of the week! Open-mouthed smile

Favorite quick dinner?? Feel free to link away, I could use some more quick meals in my rotation.

Favorite place to get fresh bread?? I think my top HAS to be Panera.

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??