Archive for the ‘Food & Recipes’ Category

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies from Thank you, Dunkin’ At Home, for sponsoring today’s post! 

When I lived in Massachusetts, I had a daily run over to my local Dunkin’ Donuts® to grab my morning cup of coffee. I became such a regular at it, the guy behind the corner would look up and say, “Skim Milk, two sugars?”


You know me so well, Sir.

Oh, those were THE DAYS when I sipped a cup of coffee on my walk from the shop to work and where I felt important because someone remembered my coffee just like I liked it.

Mornings look a heck of a lot different now and are often spent in a frantic state of panic over making sure everyone gets out the door on time with lunches packed and backpacks stuffed with everything they need. Someone making me coffee now is a rarity so I thoughtfully program a pot the night before for myself.

You deserve the best, Madam.

And since I deserve the best and still love that quiet cup, I wait until the house is empty and indulge fully in those first morning sips.

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies from

Each morning I treat myself to an hour of reading with my hot coffee and then I repeat this same little treat in the afternoon the hour before they come back.  I consider it my two favorite indulgences during the day and gives me a chance to get in some really great books.

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies from

I, honestly, rarely go out for coffee anymore and instead I invested in a great coffeemaker and make it at home. Since I drink my coffee black, I love flavored coffees and Dunkin’ (TRULY) makes some of my absolute favorites. If you haven’t tried their Bakery Series ® Coffee, you are in for a delicious treat. A couple of my favorites are Cinnamon Coffee Roll and Caramel Coffeecake that I was able to find at my local grocery store. If you happen to be a K-Cup user, you can also score a delicious Chocolate Glazed Donut flavor. You can find all of these delicious options where you buy your groceries! Check out their website for the scoop!

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies from Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies from

For my afternoon indulgence, I wanted to recreate one of my favorite treats, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies, into a gluten-free version that our whole family could enjoy. My biggest concern with modifying this recipe was that I would have a dense and dry cake when replacing the flour. I remembered though that coffee has the ability to enhance and really bring out chocolate flavoring without adding a noticeable coffee taste. To keep these brownies fudgy, I added four tablespoons of coffee to my standard recipe and replaced the regular flour with this gluten-free version.

Dare I say that these brownies are actually LIGHTER than the originals? In fact, my husband kept saying, “Are you SURE these are gluten-free? I mean, are you REALLY sure?” Yes, after our fair share of terrible gluten-free baking experiences, I couldn’t believe how much the coffee added to the flavoring and the lightness of this recipe. It is so fluffy, in fact, that you might mistake it for cake!

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies from

The other struggle I have with gluten-free brownies is getting them to hold their shape, but the coffee really made a difference in how these held together. These were a breeze to cut into squares, especially when using my favorite brownie cutting trick…a plastic knife! I always keep one in our utensil drawer to get clean (not crumbly) brownies. Lining the brownie pan with parchment paper also helps the brownies to hold their shape and cuts down on clean-up.

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies from

I hope you can give the Dunkin’ Donuts® coffee a try at home and I hope you can mix up a quick batch of these Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies for the perfect treat to accompany it. I have found that if there is leftover coffee (does this even happen?), that adding it to my brownies always enhances their flavoring.

Treat yo’self!

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
Get ready for fame because these brownies will make you FAMOUS with your friends. This is a perfect treat to indulge in or to share with someone you love! You won't believe these are gluten-free!
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons coffee (I used Dunkin' Donuts Caramel Coffeecake)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour (see above for recommended suggestion)
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9-inch square metal cake pan with parchment paper, draping the parchment paper over the edges.
  2. In a saucepan, melt the butter with the unsweetened chocolate over very low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.
  3. In a mixing bowl begin whisking together the dry ingredients. In this bowl you will mix your dark cocoa, flour, and sugar. Once your dry ingredients are mixed together, we can begin incorporating the wet ingredients. Add your eggs, cooled coffee, and vanilla extract to the dry ingredients and mix them in with a spatula or use your stand mixer to mix these. Once these are incorporated, you can slowly add in your cooled chocolate and then incorporate that into your batter.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.
  5. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the batter. Using a butter knife, swirl the salt into the batter.
  6. Bake the brownies in the center of the oven for about 33-35 minutes, until the edge is set but the center is still a bit soft and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out coated with a little of the batter.
  7. Let the brownies cool to room temperature. Lift the brownies from the pan and peel back the parchment paper. Cut the brownies into bite-sized squares.
  8. Serve at room temperature.
  9. Side note: The salted fudge brownies can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, and frozen for up to 1 month.

Thank you, Dunkin’ At Home, for sponsoring today’s post! 


Pin It

Brain Food: Trail Mix Energy Bites

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

Trail Mix Energy Bites from

I’m partnering today with Workman Publishing to chat a little more about our family’s genuine love for the new Big Fat Notebooks series, perfect for your middle school child, and to share a fun brain food snack to pair with these fun books!

Trail Mix Energy Bites from

Last month I shared with you my car organizing strategies (I can’t believe it still looks REALLY good, you guys!! Miracles DO happen!) and how we have incorporated these books into our car time as a great activity to make the most of those moments. Just like I love to take in a good audiobook or a podcast while I am driving, I love that this pocket of time is perfect for some fun learning on the way for my kids. Why not make the most of all those wasted minutes?

Trail Mix Energy Bites from Trail Mix Energy Bites from Trail Mix Energy Bites from

I know I have said it before, but these books are F-U-N. I am actually going to include these in our holiday gift guide because I think they make an incredible gift for any kid. As you can see, they are adorably illustrated and even the font choice makes it not feel like a textbook, but more like a Diary of a Wimpy Kid escape.

Do you remember that show, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Since my daughter has been asking me questions about the things she has been learning from this book and reciting trivia on different subjects, I can tell you that I am, indeed, NOT.

Hey, I can’t be good at everything!

There are five books in this fun series and each is the only book you need for each main subject taught in middle school: Math, Science, American History, English Language Arts, and World History. Did I mention that they meet  Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and state history standards?

Yup, pretty awesome stuff.

You can find these fantastic books at AmazonBarnes & NobleIndiebound, or Workman.

Here are 4 fun free Big Fat Notebooks worksheets to get you started! 

Thinking Like a Scientist

How to Take Great Notes

Displaying Data

Ancient Egypt Timeline

Trail Mix Energy Bites from Trail Mix Energy Bites from

In honor of fueling our brains, I wanted to create a brain food treat that the whole family will enjoy and requires ZERO baking. Holla!  I am a big fan of energy bites and this little bite is filled with a protein-rich trail mix that is bound together with peanut butter, oatmeal, and quinoa.

I loved these plain, but I thought they could benefit from a little crunch so I toasted up quinoa in a skillet (watch out, it pops!!) and rolled these trail mix bites into the toasty quinoa for a crunchy coating that reminds me of sesame seeds or even rice cereal.

What Makes These Trail Mix Bites Good Fuel for Your Brain?

Nuts and seeds contain omega-3 essential fatty acids, a major building block of brain cells that are critical for a good memory and stable mood (AKA, they fight the HANGRY!). They are also rich in B complex vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc, and magnesium. It takes all these important nutrients to help keep your brain functioning well.

Quinoa is our binding agent and our crispy coating and it also contains vital nutrients for your noggin. Quinoa is so easy to prepare in a rice cooker (this tutorial should help!) and happens to be one of my favorite gluten-free indulgences. Quinoa, pronounced (KEEN-wah) is a very nutritious gluten-free seed that originates from the Andean region of South America. It also is a fantastic source of protein, contains all eight amino acids, is a good source of dietary fiber, contains B Vitamins, and iron. All such good stuff to help your brain!

I hope you can share this delicious brain food (both the treat AND the incredible Big Fat Notebooks with your kids. They truly make learning fun and I’m so happy our family got to share about these with you!

Trail Mix Energy Bites from

Trail Mix Energy Bites
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
Fuel your brain with these delicious energy bites that provide vital nutrients and vitamins. Packed with quinoa, these gluten-free treats are satisfying and filling!
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (check the post above for cooking directions or follow packaging)
  • 1-1/2 cups quick cooking oats
  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup pistachios
  • ½ cup dry roasted peanuts
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ¾ cup uncooked quinoa
  1. In a dry skillet, heat it to medium heat and toast the uncooked quinoa for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the energy bite to look golden. Be careful, quinoa does pop!
  2. In a large bowl mix together all the other ingredients until they are incorporated well.
  3. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and then begin scooping & rolling the balls (I like a cookie dough scooper for this).
  4. Roll each ball into the toasted quinoa, coating all sides evenly. Place on the parchment lined cookie sheet and repeat until all of the batter has been used.
  5. Place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Remove and then place them in an airtight container for snacking.

 Recipe Adapted from The Baker Mama

 This post was sponsored by Workman Publishing and Big Fat Notebooks. All thoughts and opinions are my own! Be sure to follow the Workman Blog for more great ideas!

How To Make Smoothie Bowls (GIVEAWAY with Mamma Chia!!)

Monday, September 19th, 2016

How to Make Smoothie Bowls Tutorial This post is sponsored by Mamma Chia.  Thank you for supporting the companies that make this site possible! 

I am always on the hunt for great post-workout snacks that can keep me fueled throughout the day.  Today I wanted to share with you how to make two delicious smoothie bowls and I am pairing them with a fun new drink from Mamma Chia, called Chia Energy Beverages,  that you can now find on Walmart shelves.  Doesn’t that sound like a delicious pairing?

Mamma Chia at Walmart

I always struggle with finding new things at the store so, in case you are on the hunt, I wanted to show you where you can find them at Walmart. These drinks can be found in the produce section at the front of the store.  Our drinks were on full display on the top shelves and come in 4 flavors: Grape Power, Cherry Charge, Blackberry Blast, & Raspberry Razz. These drinks are the first beverage that combine chia with the energy of guayusa.

For those of us with a coffee addiction (ahem!), these are a great way to get energy for the day without that caffeine crash.

Caffeine crashes are THE WORST.

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie Bowl from As you know, I have been struggling with my health and I am really committed to eating better so that I can improve how I feel. The founder of Mamma Chia, Janie Hoffman, was also struggling with many debilitating autoimmune disorders and found a great deal of relief from adding chia into her diet. Her mission was to share that gift with others so that they can experience the health benefits too. I also love that the company donates a portion of their proceeds to support farmers, community groups, & organizations that build healthy, local food systems. 

It makes you feel doubly good about your purchase!

Today I thought I would incorporate the power of chia, not only in our drink, but as a topping in a healthy smoothie bowl. Chia is actually considered a superfood because chia seeds are rich in omega-3’s, fiber, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals. They also help you to sustain energy levels naturally while helping you stay fuller longer.

Today we are topping our smoothie bowls with chia. If you haven’t had a smoothie bowl before, you are in for a treat.  I understand that many fancy-schmancy breakfast joints serve these now.

How lucky are you that you can save some money and make these at home for a fraction of the cost?

Let me share two recipes for smoothie bowsl with you and don’t forget to stick around to the bottom of this post for our giveaway with Mamma Chia- yay! 

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie Bowl from Chocolate Cherry Smoothie Bowl from

The idea is to make the smoothie thicker (make sure you have a powerful blender for this one) by using less liquid to create a thicker consistency. The fun part is the layering of delicious additions on top.

On this Chocolate Cherry Bowl, I have topped it with fresh raspberries, toasted coconut, & more chia. Try any combination of flavors you like though!

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie Bowl from

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie Bowl
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1-2 bowls
Smoothie bowls make the perfect snack or breakfast. Top with your favorite oatmeal toppings or try our suggestions for a healthy start to your day.
  • ½ cup frozen banana
  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • ¼ cup avocado
  • ¼ plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Toppings: toasted coconut, berries, chia
  1. Combine all smoothie bowl ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a bowl and top with your favorite toppings

Raspberry Smoothie Bowl from Raspberry Smoothie Bowl from Raspberry Smoothie Bowl from

I love berry anything and I loved pairing a Raspberry Smoothie Bowl with the delicious flavor of the Chia Energy Blackberry Blast drink. I still wanted some of the chocolate flavor in this one so I topped it with a chocolate granola, and chia.  The vibrant hue from the raspberries in this one make such a pretty bowl, don’t they?

This is certainly a powerful motivator to get my workout done so I can enjoy this snack when I get home.

Raspberry Smoothie Bowl from

Raspberry Smoothie Bowl
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1-2 bowls
Give me all the berries! This Raspberry Smoothie Bowl is packed with berries and can be topped with crunchy granola, chia, and more berries for a fun post-workout treat.
  • ½ cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • ¼ of an avocado
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • Toppings: granola, raspberries, blueberries, and chia
  1. Place all smoothie ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a bowl and top with your favorite toppings.

Mamma Chia Energy Beverages

Today I’m giving away to one lucky winner a $50 prize pack from Mamma Chia that will include one each of the Mamma Chia’s new organic Chia Energy Beverages and some of their other delicious products. Please enter the giveaway in the widget below and I hope this post inspires you to give these new drinks a try!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Raspberry Smoothie Bowl from This post was sponsored by Mamma Chia.  Thank you for supporting the companies that make this site possible! 

Pin It

Pressure Cooker Korean Street Tacos

Monday, August 29th, 2016


I have heard the praises sung from so many about their Instant Pots that I finally decided to take the plunge and get one for our family. We have had the best time cranking out meals, breakfasts, and snacks with it and I am so excited to share those recipes with you on the site. The first recipe we made were Korean Tacos for a fun Friday night feast together. The best part is that this meat is fall apart tender in 45 minutes and so easy to shred, it is just a matter of pulling it apart a bit with two forks.

Instant Pot

If you haven’t joined the cult of Instant Pot,  I would like to share why the church of the Instant Pot is the best. In this one gadget you are able to saute your dishes, slow cook your dishes, pressure cook your dishes, and even use it as a rice cooker. It has, basically, eliminated the need for multiple kitchen gadgets in my house. I bought the 6-quart that is minus the yogurt making setting and I am really happy with it. You can certainly splurge a little more for all the bells and whistles and tell me all about it!

Instant Pot

Pressure cooking the first time was SCARY! I read my booklet three times and about lost my crap when I had to release the steam out of the top of the venting thingamabob. When I say I lost my crap, I basically started screaming and ran in the other corner of the kitchen.

Then I realized that this really was not a big deal.

It’s steam.

I will not die from it.

right?? right??

There is a learning curve with this one. One day I was venting it when it was supposed to be shut, another day I had it closed when it should be venting, and the biggest issue I have had is figuring out timing.

If a dish says it is ready in JUST seven minutes, please know that they are not counting the preheating time which can be agonizingly long when you wait until the last minute for that “JUST seven minute” meal.

Several nights my kids were clutching their bellies and moaning around the house.

“How many more minutes? I’m so hungry.”

“LOOK, I AM DOING THE BEST I CAN. IT SAID SEVEN MINUTES AND EVERYONE IS A LIAR. IT’S ONLY 9 AT NIGHT. YOU ARE ALL BEING VERY DRAMATIC.” (runs under table to shield oneself from the evils of the steam monster).

Once I started to understand when to vent/when not to and gave myself an extra half hour start time before meals, I fell in love with this. I have used it every single day since we got it from slow cooked oatmeal to quick risottos to these delicious Korean tacos today. It is my new best friend!

Pressure cooking is amazing for its ability to make quicker work of things that normally take a long time or that can be very labor intensive. Steel cut oatmeal in four minutes, risotto in seven (with no pot hovering), shredded beef in forty-five minutes. It’s a dream come true!

I am sure I will have more to say about this gadget as I progress my way through new recipes! For now, let’s make some tacos!


These Korean tacos take about 45 minutes to make (after the preheat time- ahem!) and is made with items you most likely already have in your kitchen. A squeeze of fresh orange juice, soy sauce, beef broth, and a diced apple make an incredibly flavorful beef. I love that this is created from a bottom roast so it makes this an affordable dish to create and a wonderful one to entertain with.

pressure-cooker-korean-tacos-3 pressure-cooker-korean-tacos-4

To balance the saltiness of these, I topped these with a sweet Asian slaw made from cabbage, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and honey (to taste). It adds that irresistible crunch and balances the flavor in these.

Don’t have a pressure cooker? No worries! Just put this meat in a slow cooker for eight hours on LOW instead.

Don’t forget that this can also be transformed into taco bowls for your week too! Prepare the rice in the Instant Pot (some recommend getting an extra insert to make quick work in the kitchen!) and enjoy this delicious meal all week long.

These were a huge hit with my whole family and we made quick work eating through this batch on busy weeknights! I can’t recommend this one enough!


Pressure Cooker Korean Street Tacos
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
Put your Instant Pot to work to create this flavorful Korean Street Taco for your week. This is a great one for busy weeknights & can be made into delicious rice bowls for your lunches!
  • 4 pounds bottom roast, cut into 2" cubes
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 Granny Smith apple peeled and chopped
  • juice or one large orange or 2 small
  • Corn tortillas (warmed)
  • 1 cup red cabbage (shredded)
  • 2 cups cabbage mix (shredded)
  • ¼ cup cilantro (chopped)- cilantro haters OMIT.
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sriracha, optional for added heat
  1. Season your bottom roast meat cubes generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Turn on your Instant Pot and select the Saute setting. Once the pan is hot coat the pan with the olive oil and in batches brown the meat on all the sides. Transfer meat to a plate while you’re working.
  3. Once all the meat is browned, using a whisk, deglaze the bottom of the pot with the beef broth, scraping up all the browned bits.
  4. Pour in the soy sauce and stir to combine.
  5. Return all the meat back to the pan and then place the garlic, ginger and appl on top of the meat, stirring lightly to slightly combine.
  6. Finish by adding a squeeze of orange juice.
  7. Place the lid on your Instant Pot and using the manual button on normal pressure set to 45 minutes. IMPORTANT: Make sure the valve is CLOSED.
  8. While the meat is cooking, begin preparing your slaw. Add the red cabbage and regular cabbage mix to a medium sized bowl.
  9. In a small bowl, whisk the rice wine vinegar, sriracha (optional), soy sauce, honey and sesame oil together.
  10. Pour the dressing the cabbage mixture and toss to combine.
  11. Once the pot is done, release the steam and shred meat using a fork. On a warmed tortilla, scoop meat and then slaw to finish.

Adapted from Cookies & Cups

Tell me, what’s your favorite thing to prepare in your pressure cooker? Do you have any great tips/tricks for a newbie?

This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend what I love!

Pin It

Slow Cooker Creamy Coconut Oatmeal (& Tips for Perfect Slow-Cooked Oats)

Thursday, August 25th, 2016


It’s become an embarrassing pattern of mine to make a resolution every year to be better about eating breakfast. Each time, I start on the path towards healthy eating. However, as life becomes fuller and mornings more hectic, I find that eating a good breakfast often gets pushed to the side.

This year, I discovered how invaluable my slow cooker was in creating a beautiful, hot breakfast for my entire family that I could serve in the morning and enjoy for mornings to come. I could also serve it as a midday pick-me-up or as a healthy late- night snack. The discovery might seem a bit old-fashioned, but a batch of oatmeal is a great way to start the day. This isn’t just any old oatmeal though—this oatmeal is made from delicious steel cut oats.

What’s the difference between rolled oats and steel cut oats? Well, a part of it is their structure and the other part is the way that our body digests them. While both contain whole grain oats, they are processed differently. Rolled oats are steamed, rolled, steamed again and toasted, ending up as thin flakes. Steel cut oats are made from oat kernels that have been chopped into thick pieces.

The reason steel cut oats are so awesome is because they digest more slowly than rolled ones, leaving you fuller longer. Like all other grains in whole or cracked form, steel cut oats rank lower on the glycemic index than rolled oats. This just means that it takes longer for digestive enzymes to reach the starch inside the thicker pieces, slowing down its conversion to sugar. For me, those highs and lows are some rough stuff, and I’ve found that a bowl of steel cut oats keeps my blood sugar much steadier.

I make a variety of different oatmeal recipes in my slow cooker and have found one thing to be consistent no matter what kind I make. Can I let you in on my little secret? I absolutely hate cleaning the slow cooker after making oatmeal. I also hate that the oats can get crusty pretty quickly on the edges, yielding a less than creamy bowl even when I have the perfect liquid ratios.

How to make slow cooker oatmeal

Let me share my secret that yields the most perfect and creamy bowl you can imagine and it is probably something you already have in your kitchen:

1. Find an oven-safe dish that fits inside of your slow cooker and fill that dish with all of your ingredients for your oatmeal.

2. Fill a measuring cup with water and pour the water around your dish, just to about the halfway point. This creates a warm water bath (a lot like those candles we made this summer) and helps your oatmeal to cook more evenly yet remain delightfully creamy.

3. Put a lid on the slow cooker (no need to double lid) and set it to cook for eight hours. It’s okay if your slow cooker switches to “warm” in the night. Thanks to your water bath, your oats will not get overcooked, but stay hot until you wake up!


Once you have that perfect bowl of oatmeal, you can add your favorite toppings to it or create a quick toppings bar of ingredients for the week. For this Creamy Coconut Oatmeal recipe, I found the taste of rich blackberries and toasty almonds to be a delightful way to top it!

Slow Cooker Creamy Coconut Oatmeal (& Tips for Perfect Slow-Cooked Oats)
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
  • 2 cups steel cut oatmeal (no substitutions)
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar (can omit if topping with brown sugar)
  • 1 pinch of salt
  1. Place all ingredients in your Kenmore slow cooker as I have shown you above.
  2. Cook on low for eight hours.
  3. Serve with your favorite oatmeal toppings like berries, dried fruits, nuts, granola, nut butters, coconut, brown sugar, cinnamon, or additional milk for topping.

 I can’t wait to hear what you think about this technique for perfectly cooked oatmeal and hope you can get the year started out right with this easy breakfast option!

Pin It

DIY Snack Station

Monday, August 15th, 2016


This post has been sponsored by Jack Link’s in partnership with Ahalogy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

When I became a mom, I began to realize the beauty in one-handed snacks. When my babies were small, I had a hard time holding a baby and feeding myself so I created a basket of one-handed snacks that would keep me fueled throughout the day.

Now that my kids are older, you would think that I would have loads more time to care for myself.  I have found though that although my children aren’t necessarily as demanding as they were, their activity schedule certainly is. I am still struggling to keep myself fueled as we run from activity to activity.

If you struggle with keeping yourself AND your kids fueled, I wanted to share with you a fun snack station we created to encourage ALL of us to grab healthy snacks more regularly. This diy snack station was made with a basic small bar cart and is fully stocked for our whole family.

DIY Snack Station Tutorial







I headed to my local superstore to gather up four metal pails that had chalkboard labels on front for our little diy snack station and found this sweet little bar cart on summer clearance for 75% off. This is the perfect time to stock up on this summer entertaining accessory and keep it on budget for your family.

We then headed on over to Kroger  (check out the store locator to find one near you!) to grab some healthy options for our snack cart. The beauty in the chalkboard labeling is that you can switch snacks based on what’s in season, what’s on sale, or what you are craving that week. Have your kids be in charge of the labeling to work on mastering their spelling!

Our four pails had bananas (separated for easy grabbing), raisins/nut mixes, Jack Link’s in a few varieties, and crackers with peanut butter. On the bottom tier, I added apples and oranges, a variety of flavored waters, and some fun straws for sipping.

diy-snack-station (2)

Snacks with lots of protein are my favorite because they stop the HANGRY from coming on.

Tell me that you know a little about hangry moments too please! I need to know I’m not alone in this!

As someone who fights low blood sugar (as do my children), I have found that protein keeps me from fighting those sugar highs and lows.

Beef jerky can be a great protein-filled option and Jack Link’s is protein-packed with a whopping 12 grams of protein.  I like that you don’t have to be limited to just one flavor because it comes in tons of varieties. From the soy and ginger combo in Teriyaki, to a layer of coarse pepper in their Peppered option, to the smoky mesquite flavoring of their Original turkey, to the bold and savory offerings of their Jack Link’s Original. We are big fans of these options for keeping the hangry at bay.


For a sweet and savory combo, pair your jerky with fresh fruit for a balanced snack. Bananas always offer a good bang for your buck, apples can be sliced for eating on-the-go, and easy-to-peel clementine’s are always a big favorite in our house. Be sure to look for fruit that is on season for the most affordable (and freshest) options.

We are also really big fans of flavored waters in our house. It makes drinking water a little bit more fun.

A pretty papered straw doesn’t hurt either. What can I say? I am a blogger and paper straws are kind of a requirement over here.



We hope this post inspires you to create a snack station for your own family! We are thankful to have one at our house as we head back to the grind of school and activities. It is so nice to know that one-handed snacks are on hand for life’s busy moments!

This post has been sponsored by Jack Link’s in partnership with Ahalogy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

How to Create a Family Cookbook With Your Kids

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

How to create a family cookbook with your kids

Have you ever wanted to tackle making a family cookbook with your kids? I’m so excited to show you how we made a scrapbook of our favorite foods and food traditions together. Making a cookbook with your kids is a fun activity that any family can do together and we are so excited to show you how we created ours.

Making a kids cookbook

If you know us, one thing that our family is big on is traditions created around the dinner table. Whether it is our pizza night on Fridays, our waffle tradition on Sundays, or the way we commemorate every little occasion in life, we somehow find a fun food tradition to surround the event. This creative project is a way to truly document those food traditions by creating a family cookbook with your kids that can be a fun project to create together as well as a legacy of your family traditions to pass down to future generations.


Supplies Needed

*affiliate links used to provide examples

12×12 Scrapbook Album, 10-page (or more)
12×12 sheets of scrapbook paper in neutral tones
Washi tape
Photo stickers or mounts
Markers (in various colors)
Stickers with food & cooking utensils
Colorful labels
Small scrapbooking cards to write your documentation on
Fun zig-zag scissors (optional)
Pictures of your favorite dishes
Recipes (printed out or written on recipe cards)

Making a cookbook with your kids

Instructions for Making A Family Cookbook

1) Begin by cutting out and assembling the items you would like on your page by laying them out and positioning them on each page. I like to cut my recipes out with zig-zag scissors to add a creative detail.

2) Once you figure out the placement of your items, mount pictures and recipes with double stick tape or photo stickers on the back and secure them to your page.

3) Have your children answer writing prompts on scrapbook labels or have them draw pictures of their favorite foods. Secure these additions with colorful washi tape. You can also add your own reflections on the pages to finish your pages.

4) Have kids finish the project by adding stickers to the pages or filling in sticker labels. Be creative with sticker placement, placing them even on the pictures and recipes themselves.

5) Finish by sliding the finished sheets into the sleeves of your scrapbook album. Repeat this same five step process with the rest of your sheets.

Kid made cookbook pages

Here is how our family cookbook turned out- we are so proud of how it turned out and it was such a fun activity to do together!

If you are unsure about theme ideas for your pages, here are a few fun recommendations:

  • Family Food Traditions
  • Dad or Mom’s Favorite Dishes
  • Your Child’s Favorite Dish
  • Cool Food We Tried
  • Holiday Food
  • Kids in the Kitchen
  • Back to School Traditions
  • Food Through the Generations (sharing those recipes from your extended family)
  • Grilling Out
  • Birthday Cakes/Parties


As a mom, this activity truly brought so much joy to me and to my kids. With everything digital, I have grown increasingly bad about printing pictures and handwritten documentation of my memories. This project truly served as a reminder how wonderful it is to see my children’s handwriting and pictures as well as how much it might mean to them to see their mother’s handwriting (as pitiful as it may be!).

I hope you consider this family activity as a way to preserve your family & food traditions for future generations. I promise that it will bring so much joy to your life and will be something that your kids will truly enjoy doing with you!

What are some of your family traditions – do they center around food like ours?

*this post contains affiliate links- thank you for your support!


Pin It

Picnic in a Jar: Easy Quinoa Salad With Spinach and Tomatoes

Thursday, July 7th, 2016


Summertime means a lot of eating on-the-go for our family. It isn’t the running to and from activities like the school year, but the good stuff like picnics with my people, poolside lounging and road trips to the neighboring Michigan beaches.

Thankfully, the fresh produce and deliciously grown convenience food that we all love is in season. A container of cherries shared by the pool, bunches of grapes on our car trips, and strawberries by the fistful in the sunshine until we think we might turn into berries ourselves. It’s all such good stuff, isn’t it?

Salads are my go-to in the summer thanks to their amazing portability factor. Not only do I love fresh green salads made with romaine or spinach, but I adore a healthy topping of quinoa on top for that protein punch.


Quinoa is one of my favorite summertime ingredients because it is filling and gluten-free. Have you had quinoa before? It couldn’t be easier to prepare or more delicious!

Quinoa, pronounced (KEEN-wah) is a very nutritious gluten-free seed that originates from the Andean region of South America. It’s a fantastic source of protein, contains all eight amino acids, is a good source of dietary fiber, and it contains B Vitamins and iron.

Though it is smaller than rice, barley, farro and bulgur, quinoa looks like a grain, thanks to its neutral coloring and hard exterior. In reality, it is actually a seed that originates from the cousin of the spinach plant. When cooked, these seeds expand rapidly and significantly, becoming tender but chewy, and expelling spirals that boast the slightest crunch.

To add more flavor to my quinoa I love to cook it in veggie or chicken broth.


To make these salads portable, I layer the salads in jars. You want to layer the salads in a way that everything stays fresh and delicious for as long as possible.

For these salads, I start with a scoop of cooked quinoa and add a drizzle of olive oil and squirt of lemon. I then allow that all to cool completely and then start the layer of veggies. The tomatoes go in first and then I fill the jar up to the tippy top with as much spinach as possible. I learned a lot from all those episodes of Popeye as a kid!


Picnic in a Jar: Easy Quinoa Salad With Spinach and Tomatoes
Recipe type: Salads
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Take these along on your next family outing for a filling, easy meal!
  • 1 pound spinach
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1-2 lemons
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (follow the instructions for preparation on the packaging)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Prepare quinoa as directed on package (it’s just like rice with a 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups liquid ratio- veggie broth, chicken broth, or water all work in this one). Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Halve grape or cherry tomatoes with a paring knife and add them to the mixing bowl.
  3. Once the quinoa is done, scoop it into equal amounts into four jars. Squirt the juice of your lemons on top of the quinoa and add a light drizzle of olive oil to each one. Allow these to cool fully before adding the rest of your ingredients.
  4. Next layer on your tomatoes and then add your layer of spinach.
  5. Lid your jar and store in your fridge for up to five days. Eat directly out of the jar or pour into a bowl for an easy picnic feast!


For a sweet little picnic touch, use a little twine to tie on forks or tape a plastic fork with washi tape on your lids. You now have the makings for the perfect summertime lunch wherever your summer adventures might take you!


Pin It

Tips for Grilling Success & Herb-Buttered Grilled Corn Recipe

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Tips and Tricks for successful grilling plus our family's favorite grilled corn recipe!

Nothing says summer like dinner prepared outdoors on the grill. I relish those al fresco dinners even more because of how easy it is to clean up afterwards! What mom wouldn’t enjoy fewer dishes to wash and making dinner in the fresh sunshine?

Grilling success was harder to come by for our family. The first year we began grilling outdoors was a year of trial and error. Over the years, we discovered that our key to success relies on a good meat thermometer, an arsenal of good marinades, a little bit of patience, and these tips and tricks that make grilling even easier.

I’m also sharing with your our family’s favorite grilled corn recipe – it’s so simple, yet SO good! (Amazon affiliate links are included where appropriate for your convenience.)

Tips for Grilling Success

Grilling tips for success 1. If you don’t want your food to taste like last year’s burger, start with a clean grill. My biggest grill-cleaning hack is this: I take the simplest approach possible when cleaning my grill racks by using the self-cleaning function on my oven. Simply bring the grill racks indoors and place them in the oven, run the oven through the self-cleaning mode and you’ll end up with a clean oven and beautifully clean grill racks!

2. Maintain those shiny grates by oiling them before you grill. When you’re done grilling, use a wire grill brush to clean off the grates while the grill is still warm.

Kabobs for grilling 3. Plan your menus in advance. Prepare meat in bulk and store in freezer bags (I double-bag mine to prevent messes) or freezer-safe containers. I love to prep a few different marinades at a time. Most marinades have similar base ingredients (olive oil, vinegars, seasonings, Worcestershire sauce) and it’s so much easier to do it all at once. Chop meat for kabobs and jot down any cooking times or special instructions on the outside of the bags. Then just stick the containers, marinade and all, in the freezer!

Grilling tips and tricks for meats 4. Consider investing in a digital meat thermometer. This will ensure that your meat is always fully cooked and at its optimal flavor. Look for a thermometer with a probe that beeps when the internal food temperature is reached. The best part is that some now come with a separate receiver that you can take indoors with you, letting you prep the rest of the food without worrying about burning the meat.

5. To get the best flavors from your meats, always:

  • Preheat the grill to medium-high heat (to prevent the meat from sticking).
  • Season both sides of meat generously with salt and pepper.
  • Apply sauces at the end of the cooking time to prevent charred meat.
  • Let meat rest ten minutes after removing from grill, to allow the juices to redistribute.

Grilled brussels sprouts 6. Grilled vegetables are the perfect side dish. Large veggies like eggplant, squash or onions can be cut into chunks and placed on the grill rack. Smaller vegetables like cherry tomatoes or sliced veggies work best in kabobs.

My favorite tricks are to throw veggies into a cast iron skillet right on the grill, to save on time threading kabobs, and grilling in a heavy duty foil. So easy and just enjoy the delicious taste of grilled flavor throughout!

Herb-Buttered Grilled Corn Recipe

Our favorite summertime food has always been grilled corn on the cob. Our new favorite is this herb-buttered version that you must try. This recipe is a great way to use up any herbs from your herb garden. The finished product is delicious, buttery and so fresh tasting!

Grilling corn on the cob

Herb-Buttered Grilled Corn Recipe
Recipe type: grilling
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
A delicious and buttery way to cook corn that is so fresh tasting!
  • 6 ears fresh corn, cleaned
  • 6 tablespoons sweet butter, softened and divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
  • 6 pieces aluminum foil, big enough to wrap cobs (or use husks after de-silking cobs)
  1. Place each ear of corn on a piece of foil (if using husks, remove the silk from each cob and open the husks enough to spread the butter).
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and dissolve the sugar and salt into it. Add this to the remaining butter and blend well.
  3. Mix herbs together and add to butter. Rub mixture onto each cob.
  4. Wrap foil (or husks) around the corn and grill 15 minutes, turning often.

Here are a few more of our favorite grilled recipes:


5 Ingredient Caprese Pork Chops


Grilled Brussels Sprouts


Three Cheese Grilled Potatoes

 What are your favorite grilling hacks?


Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet

Monday, June 20th, 2016

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite sleepovers ever included a beautiful breakfast buffet for us in the morning. The parents got up early to make stacks of waffles and laid out a variety of toppings to make our own waffle creation. It was the stuff that little girl’s dreams are made of,  piled high with whipped cream, strawberries, and unlimited syrup.

I want to be that mom who rises early and makes these sleepover dreams come true, but often I am the mom dragging her tail out of bed after telling the kids to PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE, GO TO SLEEP IT IS THREE IN THE MORNING mom.

Are you her too?

That’s why I wanted to create a REALISTIC buffet that can be made in advance so you can just stumble into kitchen, put everything on the table, and curl up with a cup of coffee in bed with a little sweet silence.

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from

Today I am partnering with  Florida Department of Citrus to show you how to make this fun make-ahead sleepover breakfast buffet table complete with glasses of  FLOJ for everyone at the party.  Although waffle parties are fun, I wanted to create a healthy breakfast complete with a glass of Florida Orange Juice that provides 5 amazing nutrients in every glass for our guests. Not only are we loading our table with fresh fruit, but we are also getting, in just one single 8-ounce glass of 100% orange juice,  our daily recommended serving of fruit! Winning!

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from

Instead of spending your morning flipping pancakes, take a peek at my make-ahead recipe for breakfast burritos. This recipe yields eighteen delicious burritos and you can even make them gluten-free with the use of a gluten-free wrap. They are filled with eggs, turkey sausage, spiced potatoes, and cheese- yum!

Make these ahead and tuck them in your fridge or use these instructions for popping them in the freezer until the morning. The beauty in this one is that no matter what time they rise, each person can have a hot breakfast!

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from

I made a simple breakfast bar with burrito toppings like olives, sour cream tomatoes, avocado, salsa, and sriracha. You can just chop and set this in the fridge on a cookie sheet for the big morning.  

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from


After warming their burritos, they can fill it with all of their favorites or simply put the toppings on top and dig in with a knife and fork.

Putting this spread together took me under an hour, even with all the chopping, and the best part is that I got to enjoy a hot cup of coffee even with a house full of kids. WINNING!

Thank you so much to Florida Department of Citrus for letting us share a make-ahead buffet with you. Be sure to kick back a glass of FLOJ for us and may your bedhead game be as strong as your coffee.

This blog was sponsored by Florida Department of Citrus. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!