Apr 182017
 

Did you just get an Instant Pot for a holiday gift or birthday present and have no idea what is next? Maybe you read the manual and the *beginner’s guide* (link to the first article!). Now, you’re ready to start cooking! Before you get started, there are a few things I want you to know. You can cook healthier foods with your Instant Pot from simple entrees to gourmet dishes. I also want to show you that you can use your Instant Pot daily which can make it one of the most valuable appliances in your kitchen.

How to Cook Healthy Foods in Your Instant Pot

Easy does it. If you’re a beginner, start off easy. Skip long or heavy recipes until you get the hang of it. With simple recipes with few ingredients, you can learn how to make adjustments and discover how the Instant Pot works. You will learn how your food cooks and what you might need to read up on to truly master your Instant Pot. Try rice to learn the rice cooker setting and shredded meat to learn how to make your meat flavorful.

Start with a whole chicken. If you’re not sure how to get going with your Instant Pot, a whole chicken could be just what you need. While there are many recipes online for a whole chicken in your Instant Pot, you can add your own flair with seasonings and broth. Don’t forget that your Instant Pot should always have a cup of liquid in your pot when you cook. Continue reading »

Apr 162017
 

cocoa-pebbles-donuts

What’s your favorite cereal?  Hands down mine is Cocoa Pebbles and you can be guaranteed that no matter when you walk into my house, there is a box of Cocoa Pebbles handy.  I would literally live on them if I could.

Anyhow, one of my sister’s in law inspired me to get a little creative with my Cocoa Pebbles.  She makes these ah-mazing Fruity Pebbles bars (like Rice Krispie treats, but with Fruity Pebbles instead).  They are seriously awesome, but after a little thought, I decided that I could make something pretty awesome out of my Cocoa Pebbles.  So I did.  I made these awesome Cocoa Pebbles donuts and to say they’re a hit in my house is a complete understatement. As soon as I make them, they’re gone.  Seriously – within 30 minutes.

donuts9

You’re intrigued, right?  Here’s the recipe:

Cocoa Pebbles Donuts

Here’s what you need:

  • 6 Cups cocoa pebbles cereal
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • White Wilton chocolate melts
  • Sprinkles
  • 1/2 tablespoons butter or non stick cooking spray

Continue reading »

Apr 102017
 

I’ve hosted several Easter dinners at my house over the years, but this year I am happy to say I’m just a guest. My parents are hosting this year, but of course I can’t show up to their house empty handed.  Since my parents are making the meal (and they are feeding 12 people, so I know it’s a lot of work), I offered to bring a dessert – actually, I had told them I would bring a couple of Easter desserts because I want to make sure there’s enough for everyone.

That left me with the big decision of what to make.  I spent some time searching the internet for festive Easter desserts and treats the other day and came up with more than I could ever possibly make – but they were sure fun to look at. Here are some of the yummy recipes I found:

Easter Blossom Cookies
http://mykitchencraze.com/easter-blossom-sugar-cookies/

Italian Easter Bread
http://bakewithchristina.com/italian-easter-bread/#comment-5976

Carrot Cupcakes
http://www.justataste.com/carrot-cupcakes-with-cream-cheese-frosting-recipe/

Bunny Cupcakes
http://www.pillsburybaking.com/recipes/bold-tie-dyed-layer-cake-8660 Continue reading »

Apr 052017
 

Freezer meals are a quick way to meal plan healthy dishes. The main idea is to freeze some of your meals for use at a later day. You can cook the meals ahead of time, freeze them, and heat it up at dinner time in an oven, on the stove, or even in a slow cooker. It saves you a lot of time and energy throughout the week, and it helps you stay on track with your healthy eating goals.

Here are a few ideas for easy freezer meals for your family. It is important to note that there are two different ways of “freezer meals.” The first is by adding ingredients to a freezer bag and freezing. The second way is preparing the actual meal first (in the oven or on the stove) and freezing it. Both ways have their benefits, but the second way provides a way to slash prep time. You just simple defrost, heat up, and serve.

Easy Freezer Meal Ideas

Baked Macaroni and Cheese. Create a comfort meal for everyone with mac and cheese! It is a classic dish that is much tastier when made from scratch. Skip the powdered cheese and make your own with whole wheat noodles (or even vegetable pasta if you dare!), cheddar and low-fat cottage cheese, some vegetables like spinach and broccoli, and cream. Bake, cool, and freeze the entire container. What a time saver! Continue reading »

Apr 022017
 

If you’re hosting Easter dinner this year, you can totally wow your guests with this delicious Cadbury Creme Egg Dip! Seriously, I have seen many jaws drop over the years when people walk into my house and see the dip sitting there in all its glory on my kitchen island.  The best part is that it’s insanely easy to make, so if you’re in a hurry, you can make this dip in just a few minutes. If you love Cadbury Creme Eggs, you are going to want to try this dip recipe. I promise, you will thank me – it’s divine. Like eyes rolling back in your head divine. Really.

Cadbury Creme Egg Dip

Here’s what you need:

  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
  • ¾ cup Powdered Sugar
  • ¼ cup Light Brown Sugar
  • ¼ cup Butter, softened
  • 7 Cadbury Creme Eggs

Continue reading »

Mar 272017
 

April Fools Day is coming up quick guys and I am already planning out some awesome April Fools Food Pranks to play on my boys.  Growing up, there was absolutely no pranking in parent’s house.  They didn’t go for that sort of thing, so my sister, brother and I behaved. Then I met my husband, Christian, and he happens to come from a family full of pranksters. Christian knows I am not a fan, so they rarely get played on me, but my boys are a whole other story.

The boys think pranks are the best thing ever and pretty much live for April Fools Day because that’s the only real day that they can get away with them without consequences. But what kind of a mom would I be if I didn’t play a few pranks back?  I have experimented over the years and have found that food pranks are the best way to go with my two. It gets them every time. If you want to try some food pranks of your own, take a peek at some of these links.  There is lots of good stuff in there. Continue reading »

Mar 272017
 

News flash – cookout season is coming! With the warm weather heading our way, most of us will be coming out of hibernation and that means cookouts, cookouts and more cookouts. We host plenty of them at our house and will get invited to equally as many over the course of the summer. Whenever I get invited to one, I always volunteer to bring my quick and easy Italian Pasta Salad.  It’s so easy to make and it’s always a hit.

Italian Pasta Salad

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 (12 ounce) box of pasta I used the Tri Color Rotini
  • 1 package of Pepperoni Minis (0r buy full size and cut into fours)
  • 1 8-ounce mozzarella
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 can of sliced black olives
  • 2-3 tomatoes (or buy the grape tomatoes and cut in half)
  • 1 bottle of Italian dressing (we like Wishbone brand)

Continue reading »

Mar 192017
 

I end up volunteering to bring desserts a lot when we have family dinners because I know that I can whip up a bark recipe and everyone will be really happy to see me walk in the door with it. Actually, a lot of people request it and when there is a holiday coming up, I try to get as festive as possible. This Jellybean Bark that I came up with for Easter dinner fits the festive bill and if your family is anything like mine, it will go like hot cakes. Plus it’s super easy to make and the best part is that you only need a few ingredients to make it.

If you signed up to bring dessert to Easter dinner this year, why not make this Jellybean Bark?

Jellybean Bark

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups white candy melts
  • Jellybeans
  • Easter sprinkles
  • Edible Easter grass

You will also need:
Continue reading »

Mar 142017
 

When I was a kid, as soon as I got home from school there was always a snack there waiting for me.  My mom loved to bake and nine times out of ten, my after-school snack was a delicious homemade treat.  Now that I am the mom, I like to do the same for my boys and I get especially giddy when there’s a holiday coming up because that means I can make fun themed treats for them.

There’s no shortage of St. Patrick’s Day treat recipes out there, but I found quite a few good ones and have a nice collection of them for you here today. I am going to make it my mission to make everything on this list for my boys. And for the record, I’m making all of the ones that use Lucky Charms as one of the ingredients first because that is just plain awesome.

St. Patrick’s Day Desserts and Treats:

Gold Coins
http://www.lovethispic.com/image/242751/use-edible-gold-to-spray-on-oreos-to-make-gold-coins-on-st-patricks-day

St Patrick’s Day Oreos
http://happybrownhouse.com/st-patricks-day-oreos/#_a5y_p=5071250

Lucky Charm Munch
http://deliciouslysprinkled.com/lucky-charms-munch/

Cake Batter Brownies
http://www.bostongirlbakes.com/2015/03/04/cake-batter-blondies-2/

Shamrock Parfait
http://merlotmommy.com/st-patricks-day-parfaits/?utm_content=bufferfaf10&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer Continue reading »

Mar 132017
 

There is more to meal planning than cooking and freezing. There are certain things you can do before you start meal planning that will help you become more efficient in the kitchen. This guide is going to take you from overwhelmed at the grocery store to organized with a plan. The goal is to save money when you shop while enjoying healthier and more delicious food.

Pick a day. Before you start with your grand plan, pick a day that works for your family for meal prep. This would require clipping coupons if you do so, reading the sale circulars, making a list, and shopping. When you return home, instead of quickly putting groceries away, you can start formulating your meals into freezer bags and containers.

The truth is that meal prep can become over stressful over time, and you may just give up. Don’t let a setback make you quit. Write it down, shop in the early or late hours of the day to avoid crowds, and use the internet to help you track lists and recipes. Continue reading »

Mar 072017
 

If you haven’t seen the hype of Instant Pots around the internet, you are missing out! This nifty kitchen gadget can help you simplify your time in the kitchen. Instead of having a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, and saute pan, you can have an Instant Pot! This tool handles many tasks that other appliances do just in one simple cooking option. If you are ready to make the switch to an Instant Pot, here is what you need to know.

Instant Pot Starter Guide

Just what exactly is PSI conversion? One of the questions that pressure cookers users have about Instant Pots is how to convert recipes to your Instant Pot. Pressure cookers have specific recipe instructions, and it is possible to convert those to the Instant Pot. This is perfect for your family, especially if you have children in your home and you are worried about having a pressure cooker.

PSI conversion may sound difficult, but it is pretty simple. Just remember that the typical pressure cooker works at 15 PSI while the Instant Pot works at 11. What does that mean for you? Converting the recipes will result in a longer cook time in the Instant Pot. Cook them for just a few extra minutes longer if the recipe is meatless. Continue reading »

Mar 052017
 

Truth be told, I am not big on eating breakfast. Food doesn’t sit well with me until at least two hours after I wake up, so it’s hard for me to eat before 9 am.  I know it’s important to eat in the morning and that is where I developed my love of smoothies. Being a busy mom on the go, I can’t leave for the day without putting something in my tummy and smoothies are perfect because they are not overly heavy. One of my favorites is this healthy Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie.  It’s satisfying, filling and I love that it sticks with me all morning long so that my tummy isn’t rumbling around 11 am! How embarrassing. Plus smoothies are super easy to make, so you can whip one up in a jiffy and be out the door in no time.

Healthy Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie

Serves: 1
Prep Time: 10 minutes Continue reading »

Feb 262017
 

If you’re looking for an easy, fun snack idea for St. Patrick’s Day, this recipe for Leprechaun Bark aught to do it.  It’s colorful and has a great mix of flavors in every bite. My kids love when I make this for them and yours will, too. Leprechaun bark makes a great after-school snack or pack it up and save it for dessert after your boiled dinner on St. Patrick’s Day.  Either way, it’s sure to be a big hit.

Leprechaun Bark

Continue reading »

Feb 192017
 

When I was a kid, I feel like I barely heard about St. Patrick’s Day. Sure there is a big parade in Boston (that my parents never took me to see despite my incessant begging) and in school we’d all wear green – but that was about it. It seems like as the years have passed, this “holiday” has picked up steam and nowadays, people go all out. So I am jumping on the bandwagon, too! I decided to make some Minty M&M Cookies, which are perfect for St. Patrick’s Day because of the colors of the M&M’s! And c’mon, who doesn’t love a warm M&M cookie right out of the oven? Yummers.

Anyhow, they are super easy to make and will make for a nice surprise for the kiddos one day when they get off the bus.

Here’s what you need: Continue reading »

Feb 082017
 

I love brunching, don’t you?  There is just something special about that mid-morning meal that tends to bring people together to share a meal and quality time with friends and family. I recently had a chance to try brunch at Lincoln Tavern in South Boston and the best part is that I got to experience their brunch test kitchen the day I was there.

Lincoln is one of the city’s most sought after brunch destinations on the weekends (Saturday and Sunday from 10am-3pm), but Chef Nicholas Dixon and his team also do a Brunch Test Kitchen menu every Friday from 10:00AM – 3:00PM. Each week the Brunch Test Kitchen features a new line-up of off menu items that are potential contenders to join Lincoln Tavern’s already award winning brunch line up. Think: Nutella S’mores Pancakes that are super stacked chocolate chip and marshmallow pancakes with layers of Nutella, toasted marshmallow and graham cracker crumbs, Fried Chicken & Cheddar Biscuits with sausage gravy and quail egg, a Cinnamon Toast Crunch Milkshake with vanilla ice cream, fireball and rumchata…..you see where I’m going with this.

Located in the heart of South Boston, Lincoln is a classic American tavern that offers guests a welcoming combination of home-spun, American fare alongside a wide variety of rustic, wood-fire-grilled specialties.

Built with the intention of being a comfortable meeting spot for locals looking to share stories at the end of their long day, Lincoln draws inspiration from its surrounding, hard-working, and uniquely American neighborhood. Continue reading »

Feb 042017
 

I got a request the other day to make some Snickerdoodle cookies, so like a good mom – I obliged. Apparently my son had gotten some as a “snack” in the lunchroom the other day and needed more immediately.  I can’t blame him at all!  I whipped up these soft and chewy snickerdoodle cookies the other day because that’s how we like our cookies in our house: soft and chewy.

Soft and Chewy Snickerdoodle Cookies:

Continue reading »

Feb 012017
 

Are you all ready for the big game on Sunday? As you probably guessed, we’re BIG Pats fans here in our house, but no matter who you are routing for – game day just isn’t complete without an array of delicious foods. My family is going all out this year because we’re anticipating a big win, so that means we need to have more celebratory snacks on hand than we would if the Patriots weren’t playing. But who am I kidding, when it comes to food, we always go all out.

I will be spending the day cooking and baking in preparation of the game on Sunday, so I have been busy scouring the internet for awesome recipes. There are lots of great recipes to choose from out there and here are some of the ones that caught my eye:

Mozzarella Stick Onion Rings
https://www.buzzfeed.com/melissaharrison/mozzarella-stick-onion-rings?utm_term=.yl3D1ABZZ#.qlxyNqkxx

Football Puppy Chow
http://thefirstyearblog.stfi.re/football-puppy-chow/?sf=rgrvwna

Mashed Potato Bacon Bombs
http://www.ohbiteit.com/2015/11/mashed-potato-bacon-bombs.html

Parmesan Potato Wedges
http://www.lecremedelacrumb.com/baked-garlic-parmesan-potato-wedges/ Continue reading »

Jan 292017
 

Even though I prepare for mornings the night before, I always seem to feel like I’m scrambling to get myself and the kids out the door to school in the mornings. I often wonder why that is, but whatever the case may be – it happens. A lot. Sometimes I have things in the house that I can just grab and eat on the go, but sometimes I don’t. During those times when I don’t have anything that I can grab for myself real quick, I make myself an easy & delicious Broccoli and Cheese Omelette in a Mug.  That’s right – you make the omelette right in a mug. They are wicked easy to make and only take a few minutes from start to finish. And since you make them in the microwave, you don’t have to worry about dirtying a pan – your mug is the only thing you’ll have to clean. Score.

I use broccoli and cheese in my omelettes because that is what I like, but you can add any filling you like in your omelettes to yours. Continue reading »

Jan 162017
 

Trying to get your kids to eat enough fruits and vegetables is about as tricky as, well, trying to get a young kid to eat their fruits and vegetables. That’s why smoothies can be the ideal way to conceal the food that’s nutritious for them while giving them their daily intake of fruits and vegetables in a form that almost feels like a desert.

In broad terms, smoothies can run the gamut of flavors and ingredients so it is best to begin with something simple. Try starting your kids off with a pure fruits and yogurt yogurt mixture and work your way to more complicated recipes from there. Green smoothies can be filled with essential nutrients and can be extremely tasty, they may not be the best option for kids who still make dramatic faces overtime they look at broccoli.

A simple recipe to start them off would include frozen strawberries, a banana, and vanilla or plain yogurt. Once they get accustomed to the the basic flavor and texture of those smoothies, you could slowly start reducing the sugar and use a healthier vanilla yogurt instead of the plain yogurt. At this point, you can also start adding additional ingredients, such as blueberries or mangos, a little at a time without drastically altering the overall taste. Continue reading »

Jan 152017
 

My kids and husband are my entire world, but food will always be my first love.  I grew up in a big Italian family and boy did we eat. On Sundays it was course after course after course – we literally would spend the whole day eating. And it was awesome. Now that I’m the mom, I am a little more sensible about the way I eat, but I still love to eat and I especially love dessert. I have a major sweet tooth and red velvet is one of my all times favorites.

If you know me in real life, you know that I don’t participate in Valentine’s Day, but there is no reason that I can’t make an exception for some of these red velvet treats. I would make any one of these red velvet desserts my valentine any day. Have a look at what I’m drooling over:

Red Velvet Cool Whip Cookies from Tammilee Tips

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies from Tales of a Ranting Ginger

Red Velvet Cookies from Viva Veltoro

Red Velvet Cookie Recipe from Not Quite Susie Homemaker

Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies from Diary of a Working Mom

Easy Red Velvet Cookies Recipe from A Magical Mess Continue reading »