Let's save some time and some money together. Let's waste time and money, because we sometimes forget. Let's figure out a way to go for what we want. Let's parent with reckless abandon. Let's be sarcastic and really real and drink all the coffee that was ever made. Let's do life.
I just made this homemade yogurt for the first time this week and I am hooked! Normally plain yogurt is too sour/bitter for me but this yogurt is the perfect flavor- especially when accompanied by sweet fruit or granola. And SO easy!
1/2 gallon of whole milk (I’ve always used organic)
1/2 cup plain full-fat yogurt to use as a “starter” (It can be store bought, or 1/2 cup reserved from a homemade batch. I used Greek-style)
A couple of towels or a blanket
Turn your crockpot to low and pour in milk. Cover and allow to cook for two and a half hours.
After two and half hours have elapsed, turn off cooker, unplug from wall and allow to sit, still covered, for three hours.
After the three hours have gone by, add the starter yogurt and use a whisk to gently mix. Recover. Then cover and wrap the entire crockpot with a large bath towel or blanket and leave on your counter for eight hours.
After the eight hours have elapsed, your yogurt is done! You can lift the entire crockpot out of the base and keep it in the fridge until you have time to decant into smaller containers.
Tips and Tricks:
Don’t mess with the yogurt unless you have to. When stirring in the plain yogurt starter, 4 or 5 figure-eight motions with the whisk is all you need.
After 2 or 3 times of using your own yogurt as a starter, go back to 1/2 cup store-bought so the yogurt doesn’t get too runny
What should you do with homemade yogurt?
Eat it! Add a splash of vanilla extract, cinnamon, frozen or fresh blueberries, anything your heart desires.
This is THE dip to bring to a Monday Night Football or Super Bowl party! I also make this dip for every baby shower I throw. I like to serve it with chunks of soft bread, but it would be great with crackers or veggies as well.
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained
2 ounces canned diced jalapeno peppers, drained
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2-3 strips cooked, crumbled bacon
Stir together cream cheese and mayonnaise in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in green chiles and jalapeno peppers (you can also sub fresh, diced peppers here). Pour mixture into a microwave safe serving dish, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Microwave on High until hot, about 3 minutes. Stir in bacon crumbles until thoroughly mixed or sprinkle on top if you are wanting to look all fancy. Serve warm.
Jessie is the mother of five sweet kids and the author of Bites, a recipe blog that will make your mouth water.
Make sure to check out our Recipe Box with links to all the recipes we have posted over the years.
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We came up with the idea for these easy make-ahead smoothies this year when my son started school and our mornings got crazy. My husband is gone before anybody wakes up which leaves me one hour to get myself and three kids five and under fed, dressed, packed up for the day and out the door. I found myself falling in to the temptation of offering cereal and a banana every morning often enough that we wanted to have some healthier options for a quick breakfast.
Inspired by an expensive, sugar-filled smoothie kit I saw in the freezer section at the grocery store, we created our own smoothie kits. Basically, I put all the smoothie ingredients ahead of time in quart size freezer Ziploc bags and then throw it in the blender, add milk and yogurt and voila, a one minute healthy breakfast option.
The recipe below is basically what I’ve been using as a base. You can change it anyway you want for your family. Get creative and experiment to see what is yummy. Add or omit ingredients based on what you like or have in your kitchen.
1/2 Cup Frozen Blueberries
1 Cup Frozen Strawberries
1 Sliced Banana
1/2 Cup Pineapple
4 Green Ice Cubes (see below) or 1-2 cup Greens (Spinach, Kale, Chard)
2 Tbsp Flax Seed
Combine all above ingredients in freezer bags, seal and freeze. When ready to use, pull out bag, put in blender and add 1 – 1.5 cups of liquid. I use homemade almond milk and when we have it, I add 1/2 a cup of homemade yogurt. Blend and drink! Makes 4-5 smoothies (approximately 8 ounces). If smoothie is too thick, add more liquid.
Start with frozen ingredients – If everything is thrown in the bag before being frozen, it will all clump together and is hard to get out of the bag and can jam up your blender. I find that if 1/2 of my ingredients have already been flash frozen, I can throw the others in and it still separates easily when I put it in the blender. I’d suggest you flash freeze some of your ingredients before putting them in the kits if you don’t have a powerful blender like a Blendtec or Vitamix.
Green ice cubes – Basically, in the summer when I have lots of fresh produce and greens in my garden I puree them in the blender with a little water and pour them in ice cube trays, pop them out and put them in a Ziploc for the times I don’t have fresh greens. I throw them in pasta, smoothies and soups.
Liquids – You can use any liquid you like. Some ideas are almond milk, coconut milk, whole or non-fat milk, rice milk, orange juice, or apple juice.
Feel free to experiment and add anything you like in smoothies! These are a few items I’ve added in the past.
Leave a comment below if you have any additional smoothie add-in ideas!
If you’re like me and don’t adore cleaning green mustache faces every morning, we use these Stainless Steel Drinking Straws for our smoothies. This pack of 6 straws are 100% stainless steel and are rust and scratch proof AND it comes with two cleaning brushes. Makes clean up so much easier in the morning!
In a large pot (about 6-quarts), combine the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, barley, water, chili powder, cumin, dried oregano and cayenne (if using). Stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat and add the chicken. Stir to combine.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer the chili for 40 minutes, until the barley is tender and chewy and the chicken is no longer pink. Stir occasionally, while it simmers to prevent sticking and to make sure it stays at a steady simmer.
After 40 minutes, add the beans and corn. Stir to combine and simmer for five more minutes. Serve the chili with optional garnishes, if desired.
The chili will thicken considerably upon cooling. Add chicken broth or water as needed to achieve a desirable consistency (especially if reheating the leftovers).
This is one of my go-to recipes when I want a dinner with carb, veggie and protein all in one dish. Pick up a Costco rotisserie chicken to make this even easier.
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
3 green onions, chopped
3 cup diced cooked chicken
1 cup water chestnuts, drained and chopped (I didn’t use)
1 (16-ounce) package orzo, cooked and drained
1 (9-ounce) package frozen sugar snap peas
3 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoon hoisin sauce
1 (2-ounce) package (1/2 cup) slivered almonds, toasted
Cook sugar snap peas according to package directions; drain well. In a large bowl, combine sugar snap peas, orzo, water chestnuts, chicken, green onion, and red bell pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, soy sauce, and hoisin sauce. Pour over orzo mixture, tossing gently to coat. Stir in toasted almonds. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
This is a fabulous 10 minute lunch/dinner that tastes like you put more work into it than you really did. Yum!
4 flour tortillas
8 raw shrimp (frozen or fresh, deveined with tails off)
1/2 cup frozen sauteed pepper and onion mix
1/2 cup shredded pepperjack cheese
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
pinch of chili powder
pinch of salt
pinch of cayenne
salsa and avocado slices for serving
Heat up the frozen bell pepper and onion mix in a skillet over high heat for about a minute. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
In the same skillet, spray with cooking spray and crank up the heat to high. Add the shrimp and cook quickly for about thirty seconds. Add the cayenne pepper, salt and chili powder and toss to coat. Immediately take off heat (shrimp cook fast!).
Scatter pepperjack cheese and goat cheese on two tortillas and then top each with four cooked shrimp and a little bit of the onion and pepper mix. Lay other tortillas on top and cook each in a greased skillet over medium heat until the cheese has melted and the tortillas are golden brown and crispy.
Let cool and then cut into four slices with a scissors. Serve with avocado slices and salsa.
This sandwich combines two of my favorite flavors – buffalo chicken wings and grilled cheese.
1/4 cup cooked shredded chicken, warm
1 tablespoon hot sauce (I used Frank’s buffalo hot sauce)
1/2 tablespoon mayo (optional)
1 tablespoon carrot, grated
1 tablespoon celery, sliced
1 tablespoon green or red onion, sliced or diced
1 tablespoon blue cheese, room temperature, crumbled
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, room temperature, grated
2 slices bread
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
Mix the chicken, hot sauce, mayo, carrot, celery and onion in a small bowl.
Butter the outside of each slice of bread, sprinkle half of the cheeses on the inside of one slice of bread, top with the buffalo chicken salad, the remaining cheese and finally the other slice of bread.
Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.
Add the sandwich and grill until golden brown and the cheese has melted, about 2-4 minutes per side.
Prepare brownie mix according to package directions and cool completely. Cut into 1 inch squares.
In a large bowl, combine pudding mix, water and sweetened condensed milk. Mix until smooth, then fold in 8 ounces whipped topping until no streaks remain.
In a trifle bowl or glass serving dish, place half of the brownies, half of the pudding mixture and half of the 12 ounce container of whipped topping. Repeat layers. Shave chocolate onto top layer for garnish. Refrigerate 8 hours before serving.
Anytime I see a chop chop salad on a restaurant menu, I order it. I love all the bits chopped up in small pieces so you get a ton of different flavors in each bite. There are a million different variations but I think salami is a must in a chop chop salad.
3 cups julienne-sliced romaine lettuce
1 tablespoon julienne-sliced fresh basil
2 tablespoons Italian provolone cheese , cut in 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup garbanzo beans
2 tablespoons Genoa salami or 2 tablespoons wine salami
3 tablespoons powdered parmesan cheese
¼ cup julienne-sliced smoked turkey breast
Chopped tomato (I used grape tomatoes)
Freshly cracked pepper
¾ cup balsamic vinegar
3 finely minced garlic cloves
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 cups olive oil
Make dressing in a mixing bowl. Whisk 2-3 minutes. Slowly add oil to emulsify. Refrigerate until needed.
Combine greens, basil, provolone, garbanzos, salami in a bowl; add ½ cup dressing. Toss to combine. Add parmesan, turkey, tomato and toss.
Start out the New Year with this great Chinese-inspired salad. If you aren’t able to find Chinese egg noodles, just break up pieces of spaghetti before you cook them.
For the Noodles
8 cups water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
12 ounces dried Chinese egg noodles (I found them at Thriftway)
1 pound broccoli florets, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 bunch green onions
For the Peanut Sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1-inch piece ginger root, grated
2 or 3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (sold at Trader Joes)
2/3 cup smooth organic peanut butter
Bring the water and salt to a boil in a heavy, 6- to 8-quart pot. Add the noodles. When the noodles have been cooking for 5 minutes, add the broccoli florets. By the time the noodles are tender, the broccoli should be bright green and almost tender too. Drain the noodles and broccoli through a colander and spread them out on a baking sheet to cool.
Make the peanut sauce. Put the water, vinegar, ginger, and garlic in a blender and purée until the ginger and garlic are liquefied, about 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and peanut butter and blend again until smooth and creamy.
Transfer the cooled noodles and broccoli to a large salad bowl. Cut the red pepper into julienne strips and toss with the noodles. Toss the salad with the peanut sauce and top the salad with the chopped peanuts, cilantro, and green onions. Serve cold or at room temperature.
I loved the addition of pomegranate arils in this great salad recipe! If you are not a shrimp fan, add grilled chicken instead.
1/2 cup dry quinoa
1/3 cup red onion, chopped
1 orange, peeled and segments chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup pomegranate arils (about 1 pomegranate worth)
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
Salt & pepper
Sauteed (cooked) shrimp
For the Lemon Vinaigrette:
2 lemons, juiced (need 1/4 cup juice)
2 garlic cloves, microplaned or finely minced
Dash of sweetener (agave nectar, stevia or white sugar)
Salt & pepper
6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Cook quinoa according to package directions. Set aside to cool.
For the Lemon Vinaigrette: combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake to combine. Or add lemon juice, garlic, sweetener, salt and pepper into a small bowl and whisk in oil.
Combine cooled quinoa with red onion, orange segments, avocado, beans, pomegranate arils, corn, cilantro, salt and pepper. Pour Lemon Vinaigrette over the salad and stir to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature. Top with cooked shrimp
Looking for a fun Christmas gift to make for friends, neighbors, co-workers? I love making these Maple Sugar Walnuts for gifts! They are great on top of oatmeal, pancakes or a green salad with pears and vinaigrette.
4 cups shelled walnuts
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons raw sugar
Preheat oven to 250°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine butter, syrup, water, salt and cinnamon in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Mix in walnuts and stir to evenly coat. Spread nuts in a single layer on baking sheet. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Bake 45 minutes to an hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on waxed or parchment paper to cool. Store in an airtight container or package for gift giving.
If you’re looking for an easy gift packaging idea, check out this 25-pack White Candy/Favor Boxes with a simple one-piece tuck and fold construction. Just add a piece of cute ribbon and you’re good to go!
Jessie is the mother of three sweet kids and the author of Bites, a recipe blog that will make your mouth water. Make sure to follow Bites on Facebook so you don’t miss a single recipe.
Make sure to check out our Recipe Box with links to all the recipes we have posted over the years.
These stuffed shells are a wonderful fall meal! It’s a bit time consuming because you have to roast the squash ahead of time but you can do that step days ahead. Any meal with sage brown butter sauce is a hit in my book!
1 large butternut squash
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounce package jumbo pasta shells (about 20-24 shells total)
2 cups of part-skim ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 cup packed fresh spinach (chop after measuring)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
8-10 fresh sage leaves
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Peel the butternut squash and chop the flesh into cubes. Toss the cubed squash in 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the squash is fork tender. Scrape the warm squash into a bowl and mash with a fork until smooth. Let it cool to warm room temperature before using in the recipe (this step can be done 2-3 days in advance and the cooked, mashed squash can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator). Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.
Cook the jumbo pasta shells according to package directions and drain. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan, garlic, spinach, egg, salt and pepper and fresh lemon zest. Stir well. Stuff the cooked pasta shells with the squash/ricotta mixture and place them in a lightly greased 9×13-inch baking dish (depending on how full you fill the shells, you may not use all of them). Bake the shells for 18-20 minutes, until they are hot all the way through.
While the shells are cooking, prepare the brown butter sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan or skillet over medium-low heat until the butter is golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Watch carefully as the butter can go from browned to burned in a short time. Add the sage leaves and cook until the leaves are slightly crisp (the butter should be hot and bubbly when adding the leaves so that the sage cooks quickly). Remove the pan from the heat and squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon.
Drizzle the sauce over the cooked shells and top with additional grated Parmesan, if desired. Serve the shells with 1-2 crisp sage leaves on top.
Here’s a great way to use up some of that leftover turkey! These are very adaptable- just add whatever bean, salsa, cheese you have!
4 burrito-size whole-wheat tortillas, warmed
1 cup shredded leftover turkey, warmed
1 cup black beans, rinsed and warmed
1 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice
1 cup grated Monterey Jack
1 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
1/2 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
1 avocado, sliced
1 cup corn salsa (Trader Joes brand is yummy)
Dividing evenly, top the warmed tortillas with the turkey, beans, quinoa, Monterey Jack, cilantro, yogurt, and avocado.
Roll into burritos and serve with the salsa.
This recipe combines two of my favorite things! Enchiladas and Thai ingredients. I loved the crunchy toppings to contrast the warm, soft insides. I found the sweet chili sauce at Trader Joe’s, Costco has started selling it as well. Ingredients: 8 flour tortillas 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded 1 tablespoons canola oil […]
I am the ambassador of all things malt. Most of the time I bring up my love of malts, most people look confused. Growing up, a vanilla banana malt was a regular treat in my house. The familiar large tub of malted milk is now in my cupboard for my husband and I. If you […]
What’s not to love about a creamy, warm, hearty soup topped with flaky crust strips?? I will be making this every fall! Ingredients: 2 cup chicken, cooked and diced 3 Tbsp unsalted butter 1/2 yellow onion, diced 3 celery stalks, diced 1 cup fresh broccoli florets, chopped 1/4 cup all purpose flour 3/4 cup chicken […]
This is one of my favorite fall quick weeknight meals. It is ridiculously easy to throw together and tastes awesome! Ingredients: 1 lb hamburger ½ cup onion, chopped 1 cup ketchup 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce 1 Tbsp BBQ sauce 1 tsp hot sauce 1 Tbsp chili powder 2 cans kidney beans 1 can chili beans […]
We’re coming into the season of potlucks, Halloween parties, Monday night football, fall get-togethers and this is the recipe you need to have in your back pocket! It will be a hit at ANY party! Be prepared for people to want the recipe. Ingredients: Juice of one lime 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 1 Tbsp […]
This is such a flavorful and filling wrap. I made a side of slaw without the chipotle chile for the kids’ wraps. Yum! Ingredients: 2 tablespoon(s) cider vinegar 1 tablespoon canola oil 2 teaspoon(s) finely chopped canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce 1/4 teaspoon(s) salt 2 cup(s) shredded red cabbage 1 medium carrot, shredded 1/4 […]
This is a new recipe for me that I have absolutely fallen in love with! I love how the peanut butter gets all melted and gooey and the coconut milk makes it super creamy. Ingredients: 1/2 cup dry quinoa, rinsed 1/2 cup light coconut milk (canned) 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 1 teaspoon vanilla […]
This is my dad’s “famous” recipe for guacamole. IMPORTANT: you can’t make good guacamole with bad avocados! Select some soft avocados, or buy firm ones and let them ripen several days till soft. I often put them in a paper sack to have them ripen quicker. Ingredients: 3-4 ripe Haas avocados 2 Tbsp. red onion, minced […]
Besides roasting asparagus, this is my favorite way to eat it! You definitely want to make sure you don’t overcook the asparagus because I’ve learned the hard way that asparagus mush is not that good. I know the ice bath sounds like extra work but it’s really important to stop the cooking. I’ve subbed in […]