Veggie Squares

For Easter this year, my parents hosted a covered dish lunch for family and “chosen family.” For years I took my mac and cheese to every Easter/Thanksgiving/Christmas, but for the past few years I’ve been trying different things. This time it was veggies squares. I found a video on Facebook and thought “perfect.” I told my mom that’s what I’d be bringing, she put it on the Facebook event and I was committed. I looked back at the video and realized it wasn’t a recipe, it was just someone cooking. There were no measurements or times or temperatures! I decided that I would carry on and just come up with my own recipe inspired by the video I watched. Here is that recipe!

Veggie Squares
Appetizer, Vegetarian
Serves 8

Ingredients:
1 can crescent rolls
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup Sour cream
1 ½ tsp Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
Red, yellow, and orange bell pepper (about ⅓ each)
Broccoli (a small head)
Cucumber (about ⅓)
Carrots (4-6 large baby carrots)
Jalapeños (½-1 per personal taste)

Directions:

  1. Roll out crescent rolls as a single sheet onto a parchment paper lined baking pan. Pinch together edges of rolls to seal gaps. Bake according to package instructions.
  2. Combine cream cheese and sour cream. Add Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper and set aside.
  3. Dice all vegetables. Proportions can be adjusted based on availability and personal taste. I only placed jalapeños on half as I assumed many people wouldn’t like them.
  4. Once crescent sheet has cooled, spread on a thick layer of cream dip from step 2. Add diced vegetables on top, pressing gently into the dip.
  5. Cut into desired sized squares using a pizza wheel and serve.

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That’s it! Pretty easy, right? It’s very easily customizable, too. Try it out with different vegetables, add your own spices to the dip and let me know how it goes in the comments below! Share via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Simple Tips for Eating Healthier in 2018

This is not a diet. It’s not an exercise routine or a total lifestyle change. These are some simple tips and substitutions to help you make healthier choices in 2018.

  1. Drink water
    Staying hydrated will make you feel better and keep your body running smoothly.  If you need a little push try out this bottle which keeps you on track to drink water throughout the day.
  2. Drink black coffee or add a splash of milk instead of going to starbucks
    If you’re a coffee drinker who loves lattes and fraps but wants to be healthier in the new year, consider brewing your own black coffee at home. Coffee has almost no calories, so if you drink it black or add just a splash of milk or hint of sugar, you’ll be reducing your caloric intake (not to mention fat and sugar) by a lot. A small coffee house drink can have 330+ calories!
  3. Be conscious of your protein and vegetable consumption.
    I make sure to have at least one-two servings of each every day. Even if it doesn’t seem to go together. For example: a bowl of black beans as a side for protein with cheese pizza.
  4. Try squash/zucchini spaghetti
    Cut down on carbs by replacing pasta with spiralized veggies.
  5. Make your own sauces or use spice blends instead
    Pinterest has a ton of ideas for healthier pasta sauces/dishes. My favorite is pasta tossed with olive oil, breadcrumbs, lemon juice, pepper, salt, and parsley.
  6. Switch to sugar-free energy drinks
    They’re out there! Energy drinks have a ton of sugar. If you drink energy drinks and want to reduce your sugar intake, try out the sugar-free versions.
  7. Limit to one soda a week.
    Moderation is key. Let yourself have treats, but know that it’s not an everyday thing. You’ll enjoy it more, and you’re reducing your caloric and sugar intake. Replace the sodas you were drinking with water and you’re killing two birds with one stone.
  8. Diet soda
    See “sugar-free energy drinks” above. Reduce your sugar intake by going diet.

Whatever your bad habit is, find a way to reduce it until it’s gone. For example, my bad habit is eating sweets every night. My husband and I eat supper early, around 5-6pm, so I’m usually hungry again in the evening before bed. For a while, I’ve had a glass of milk and some cookies, candy, or brownies before bed. I’m trying to eat a cup of yogurt (I like the Chobani “flip” greek yogurt) and a glass of water 1-2 times a week instead of sugary snacks. As I get used to that, I’ll try to do it 2-3 times a week, then 3-4, until my regular late-night snack is yogurt instead of cookies.

You know what you shouldn’t eat. With a slow reduction, you can eliminate the things you want to from your diet, and add in the good stuff. Good luck!

Did you enjoy this post? What do you do to stay healthy? Leave a comment below. Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Disclaimer: if you follow the Amazon link in the body of this post and make purchases through them, I will receive a small compensation from Amazon. This compensation comes from Amazon, not from you, and the price you see through my links is the same as the price you would see otherwise.

Water bottle with time marker: http://amzn.to/2sENn4Z

Photo credit, plus a great article from the CDC about food safety: https://www.cdc.gov/features/foodsafetyquiz/index.html

Fudge recipes

Fudge is a delicious treat, perfect for the holidays. But it is also so so easy to make. Are you imagining Grandma slaving over a hot double boiler for hours, wiping sweat from her brow as she furiously stirs hot, bubbly butter and sugar? Forget all that, you can make fudge in your microwave with 3 ingredients! Y’all can make this in your dorm room.

  1. Classic fudge: 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract


    Combine chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30s intervals until melted. Stir in vanilla extract. Transfer to a parchment paper lined brownie pan. Refrigerate until firm. Cut into bite-sized pieces.

  2. Peppermint fudge: 2 cups white chocolate chips, 1 tsp peppermint extract, 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

    Combine white chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30s intervals until melted. Stir in peppermint extract. Optional: swirl in red food coloring to make a peppermint effect. Transfer to a parchment paper lined brownie pan. Refrigerate until firm. Cut into bite-sized pieces.

  3. Reese’s Peanut Butter Fudge:
    1 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
    1 10oz bag of peanut butter chips
    4oz mini chocolate chips
    1tsp vanilla extract
    1 bag Reese’s pieces


    Combine peanut butter chips and sweetened condensed milk in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30s intervals until melted. Stir in vanilla extract. Swirl in chocolate chips to create marble effect. Stir in about half of the Reese’s pieces. Transfer to a parchment paper lined brownie pan. Press remaining Reese’s pieces on top. Refrigerate until firm. Cut into bite-sized pieces.

  4. Snickerdoodle fudge
    11 oz sweetened condensed milk
    12 oz white chocolate chips
    ½ tsp vanilla extract
    1 ¼ tsp cinnamon
    Cinnamon sugar mix


    Combine white chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30s intervals until melted. Stir in vanilla extract and cinnamon. Transfer to a parchment paper lined brownie pan. Refrigerate until firm. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top until coated. Gently pat down with a spoon. Cut into bite-sized pieces.

  5. Irish cream fudge
    21 oz milk chocolate chips
    14 oz sweetened condensed milk
    ¼ cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    ½ cup Andes baking chips


    Combine sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30s intervals until melted. Stir in irish cream and vanilla extract. Transfer to a parchment paper lined brownie pan. Add baking chips on top and press in slightly. Refrigerate until firm. Cut into bite-sized pieces.

Which recipe is your favorite? Did you make it in your dorm? Tell me how it went in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here in WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Shout-outs:

Classic fudge photo: http://www.kitchme.com/recipes/old-fashioned-chocolate-fudge

And inspiration: https://chocolatechocolateandmore.com/3-minute-fudge/

Peppermint Fudge photo: https://kirbiecravings.com/2014/12/microwave-peppermint-candy-cane-fudge.html

Irish cream fudge photo and inspiration: https://www.wineandglue.com/baileys-fudge/

Reese’s fudge inspiration: https://butterwithasideofbread.com/3-ingredient-reeses-fudge/

Snickerdoodle fudge inspiration: https://www.iheartnaptime.net/snickerdoodle-fudge/

Christmas drinks

Do you want to serve some festive drinks at your holiday party this year? Check out my guide to Christmas drinks!

  1. Key lime pie: 1 oz lime juice, 1 oz whipped vodka, 2 oz rumchatakey-lime-martini.png
    Combine in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into martini glass
  2. Cranberry mimosa: 3 ½ oz cranberry juice, ½ oz triple sec, 4 oz champagne
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    Add cranberry juice and triple sec to champagne flute. Fill with champagne.

  3. Cranberry mule: 2 oz Ginger beer, 1 ½ oz vodka, 3 oz cranberry juiceCranberryMoscowMule2
    Pour vodka, cranberry juice, and ginger beer into a rocks glass with ice. Stir.  Optional: serve in a traditional copper Moscow mule mug.
  4. Peppermint White Russian: ½ c milk, ½ c Kahlua, ¼ c peppermint vodka (makes 2 drinks)Screenshot_2017-12-03-11-14-05.png
    Combine milk, kahlua, and peppermint vodka in a shaker with ice. Shake and serve in rocks glass. For a creamy drink, use half and half or even cream instead of milk. Makes 2 drinks.
  5. Cranberry cinnamon whiskey sour: 1 ½ oz fireball cinnamon whiskey, ½ oz simple syrup, 1 oz cranberry juice
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    Combine fireball, simple syrup, and cranberry juice in a rocks glass.
  6. Jack Frost shots: 2 oz whipped vodka, 2 oz peppermint vodka, 1 capful blue Curacao (makes 3 shooters)
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    Add whipped vodka, peppermint vodka, and a splash of blue curacao to a shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into shot glasses. Makes 3 shooters.

Did you enjoy this post?  What are your favorite holiday drinks?  Share with me in the comments below!  Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Shout-outs!

Peppermint White Russian photo: https://lipglossandcrayons.com/2015/12/peppermint-white-russian-recipe/
And inspiration: https://homecookingmemories.com/peppermint-white-russian-cocktail-recipe/

Key lime pie photo and inspiration: http://www.rumchata.com/

Cranberry Cinnamon Whiskey Sour photo: http://dev.bakerbynature.com/cranberry-cinnamon-whiskey-sour/

Cranberry mimosa photo: http://stressbaking.com/2015/12/cranberry-mimosa.html/
And inspiration: https://theblondcook.com/cranberry-mimosas/

Cranberry mule photo: http://www.localfoodrocks.com/2016/11/festive-cranberry-moscow-mule.html

A special shout-out to my husband, brother-in-law, mom, and dad for being my guinea pigs!  Thank you all!

Fall drinks

  1. Boozy Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte
    1 oz pumpkin spice liqueur
    1 oz coffee liqueur
    1 ½ oz 1% milk (or more, to taste)
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    Combine pumpkin spice liqueur and coffee liqueur in a rocks glass with a few cubes of ice. Add milk or cream to taste (I recommend starting with 1 ½ oz). Stir to combine.
  2. Caramel Apple Mimosas
    1 pitcher:
    1 cup apple cider
    8 oz caramel vodka
    1 (750mL) bottle of champagne
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    Combine all ingredients in a pitcher. Serve in champagne flutes.
  3. Ginger with a Soul
    1 oz Pumpkin Spice Liqueur
    1 oz Caramel Vodka
    4 oz Ginger Ale
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    Combine all ingredients over ice in a rocks glass. Stir to combine.
  4. Cinnamon Toast Crunch Shooters
    1 ½ oz Rumchata
    1 ½ oz Fireball whiskey
    ¾ oz vanilla vodka
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    Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
    Shake, then pour into 2 shot glasses
  5. Sour Apple Soda

    2 oz Sour Apple Pucker
    2 oz Apple Cider
    2 oz Ginger Ale
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    Add equal parts sour apple pucker, apple cider, and ginger ale to a rocks glass. Stir with ice.

  6. Fall Backwards Shooters

    ½ oz caramel vodka
    ½ oz pumpkin spice liqueur
    ½ oz rumchata
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    Shake in shaker with ice
    Strain into shot glass

  7. Snow White’s Revenge

    1 oz Sour Apple Pucker
    1 oz Caramel Vodka
    4 oz Sprite
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    Add sour apple pucker, caramel vodka, and sprite to a rocks glass. Stir with ice.

  8. 75 Pumpkins

    ½ oz Pumpkin Spice liqueur
    Champagne
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    Add liqueur to champagne flute. Fill the rest of the way with champagne.

What are your favorite fall drinks? Share with me in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Shout-outs!

Caramel apple mimosas inspired by http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a49432/caramel-apple-mimosas-recipe/

Fall Backwards inspired by

http://www.mantitlement.com/recipes/pumpkin-pie-shots/

Cinnamon Toast Crunch inspired by Michael Anthony

Halloween Drinks

Are you hosting a Halloween party this year? Your friends will love these Halloween themed drinks!

  1. Caramel Apple Mimosas

    1 pitcher:
    1 cup apple cider
    8oz caramel vodka
    1 (750 mL) bottle of champagne

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    Combine all ingredients in a pitcher. Serve in champagne flutes.

  2. Bloody Brain Shooters

    ½ shot peach schnapps
    ½ shot irish cream
    Dash of grenadine

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    Fill shot glass halfway with peach schnapps.
    Pour in irish cream with pourer or use a straw to drizzle cream in
    Irish cream will curdle giving the “brain” effect
    Add a few drops of grenadine for “blood”

  3. Cinnamon Toast Crunch Shots

    1 ½ oz Rumchata
    1 ½ oz Fireball whiskey
    ¾ oz vanilla vodka

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    Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
    Shake, then pour into 2 shot glasses

  4. Harry Potter themed shooters

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    1. Gryffindor
      1 shot of strawberry vodka
      dash of grenadine
      Combine in shot glass
    2. Slytherin
      1 part sour apple pucker
      1 part vodka
      Pour vodka into shot glass.  Layer on sour apple pucker.
    3. Ravenclaw
      ½ shot white Rum
      1 splash Lime juice
      ½ shot Blue curacao
      Pour 1/2 shot of rum into a shot glass.  Layer on blue curacao.  Add a dash of lime juice.
    4. Hufflepuff
      ¾ oz Malibu rum
      ½ oz lemon juice
      ½ oz pineapple juice
      Combine in shaker with ice. Shake and strain into shot glass
  5. Fall Backwards Shooters
    ½ oz caramel vodka
    ½ oz pumpkin spice liqueur (try my recipe for homemade pumpkin spice liqueur!)
    ½ oz rumchata

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    Shake in shaker with ice
    Strain into shot glass

I love Halloween. I love dressing up, I love candy, I love stepping on crunchy leaves, and I really love Halloween themed drinks. I’ve hosted Halloween parties several times in my life and having fabulous themed drinks is always a hit (okay, so when I was 8 it was a little different). A lot of these drinks would be fun to have all autumn long, so enjoy!

Did you like this post? What are your favorite Halloween/Autumn drinks? Share your thoughts in the comments! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter, and as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Shout-outs!

Caramel apple mimosas inspired by http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a49432/caramel-apple-mimosas-recipe/ (we also got the photo from them)

Bloody brain shooter inspired by

Fall Backwards inspired by: http://www.mantitlement.com/recipes/pumpkin-pie-shots/

Cinnamon Toast Crunch inspired by Michael Anthony (photo credit: https://www.liquor.com/articles/fireball-drinks/)

Harry Potter shooters inspired by the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Liqueur

Ingredients:

½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 oz vodka
½ oz simple syrup

Instructions:

  1. Combine pumpkin pie spice and vodka in a small bottle
  2. Close and shake vigorously until spices are mostly dissolved (liquid will turn brown)
  3. Let sit at least 2 hours (for best results, let sit overnight). Shake occasionally.
  4.  Strain liquid through coffee filter (I ended up with about 1 ½ oz of liquid after straining) and discard solids.
  5. Add simple syrup to liquid and mix thoroughly

This recipe is pretty simple and perfect for fall drinks (or even coffee, we won’t judge). Enjoy!

Inspired by: https://www.tastingtable.com/cook/recipes/pumpkin-spice-liqueur-recipe

Sweet Baked Chicken Recipe

Who wants to read a lengthy introduction to a recipe? Let’s get cooking!

Servings: 2-3
Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

¾ cup of cranberry-grape juice
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp chili powder
Salt to taste
3 frozen chicken breasts
½-1 bell pepper
1-1 ½ cups of rice
Shredded or sliced cheese to taste

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Instructions:

  1. In a 7x11in (17.5x28cm) glass, oven-safe dish, combine juice, cumin, paprika, chili powder, and salt
  2. Add frozen chicken breasts (all roughly the same size)
  3. Bake at 375°F/190°C for 30 minutes
  4. Remove pan and flip chicken
  5. Return to 375°F/190°C oven for 20 minutes
  6. Dice bell pepper. Slice or shred your cheese of choice (I used sharp cheddar).  Cook rice according to package directions.
  7. Remove pan. Add bell pepper and cheese to taste. Cut chicken to check that it is thoroughly cooked. (For best results use a meat thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature is at least 165°F/75°C.)
  8. Return to 375°F/190°C oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted
  9. Remove and serve over rice. Use the remaining juices in the pan as a sauce.

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One day I was home alone for dinner. I wanted something easy I could just stick in the oven and forget about, but that wasn’t boring or pre-made. Thus, the sweet baked chicken was born.

We didn’t have any wine, so I subbed in juice, not really following a recipe. I grabbed some spices that seemed to go together, threw it all together and shrugged to myself, thinking it couldn’t be that bad. About an hour later I was enjoying a delicious mildly sweet chicken dish and kicking myself for not writing anything down.

Fast forward to this past week, when I tried to recall everything I’d added to my dish and how much I needed so that I could make this thing again. When I figured it out, I knew I had to share the dish with my readers. Enjoy!

Did you enjoy this post? Did you try this recipe? Tell me about it in the comments and share this post via Facebook or Twitter. And, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this.

Indian-inspired Naan Pizza

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This is a ridiculously easy recipe created by my amazing husband! Thanks, Hubs :*

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Serving size: 2 individual pizzas
Prep time: 10-20 min
Total time: 30 minutes or less

Ingredients:

2 pieces Naan bread (generally naan comes in a 250g 2 pack)
¼-½ cup Indian inspired curry sauce (you can purchase a variety of sauces at Target)
¼-½ Bell pepper (or any veggies you like)
5 oz Chicken (we used pre-cooked grilled chicken strips)
½-¾ cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Instructions:

  1. Spread curry sauce onto center of naan bread, moving outward from the center.
  2. Sprinkle on cheese, covering the curry sauce
  3. Chop bell pepper and cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces
  4. Add peppers and chicken onto both pizzas to taste
  5. Bake at 250F for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted

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That’s it! This can be as easy or as complicated as you want it to be. It’s one of our go-to easy weeknight meals, and we use pre-made naan, sauce, and even pre-cooked chicken. However, if you have a fantastic curry recipe, try it out with this pizza. If you want to throw some chicken on the grill, save a few pieces for the pizza. Our recipe calls for a bell pepper, but when we made the pizza last night, we found we’d run out of bell peppers, so we just threw on some of whatever vegetables we had in the house. It worked pretty well, but I think bell peppers work best. Other suggestions for additions are: onions, carrots, broccoli, and mushrooms.

Did you like this recipe? Did you make any changes? Tell me about it in the comments below!

If you liked this post, share via Facebook or Twitter and follow me here on WordPress for more great content like this!

Vegetarian Mexican Pizza

I’m not a fan of a drawn-out explanation before getting to the recipe. So, without further adieu….

Vegetarian Mexican Pizza

Recipe makes one 10-12” pizza

Ingredients:

1 Pizza Crust (I used Boboli thin crust, which is pre-made, pre-baked pizza crust)
1 can black beans
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp cayenne
1 bell pepper (any color)
1 small tomato
1 jalapeño (you can add more or less to taste)
1 handful of corn
Mexican cheese blend
Salt
Parsley

Directions:

  1. Place pizza stone in oven and preheat to 500°F
  2. While oven is warming up, cook one can of black beans
  3. Seed and dice tomato, jalapeño(s), and bell pepper
  4. Once beans are cooked, mash them and combine with cumin, paprika, and cayenne. Make sure the consistency is spreadable, you may need to add some water (I used the water I cooked the beans in).
  5. Remove stone from oven and place crust on stone
  6. Working quickly, spread bean mixture on crust (this is your pizza sauce), add cheese to taste, veggies (tomato, jalapeño, bell pepper, and corn), and parsley to taste. Sprinkle with salt to bring flavors together. You will probably have more vegetables than you need. The leftovers make a nice salsa!
  7. Place pizza in oven for 2-5 minutes. Keep a close eye on it and remove when the cheese begins to melt.
  8. Enjoy!

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My husband and I have made this pizza together a few times. It’s a modification of this recipe. We had a lot of fun making it, and it was delicious.  In the picture above you can see I used a red bell pepper.  I’ve also made this pizza with a mix of red and orange peppers, and it worked well.  Any mix of bell peppers should be sufficient.

You might enjoy making your own crust, in which case you should bake your crust, then follow the directions with the pre-baked crust. We used a store-bought, pre made, pre-baked crust because I’m not about that bread baking life.

It’s a delicious, different pizza that is 100% vegetarian, though thoroughly enjoyed by my meat-eating family. It still packs protein because the sauce is black bean based!

Did you enjoy this recipe? Did you make any modifications? Tell me about it in the comments below! Share with friends via Facebook and follow my blog for more recipes like this.