• Chocolate (Zucchini) Cake with Chocolate Frosting

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    Ssssshhhhhhhhh!  Don’t tell anyone that this chocolaty decadent dessert actually has zucchini in it!!!!!  If someone didn’t tell you there was zucchini in it, you would never ever know, and I’m not kidding.  The zucchini just melts into the cake, and you are left with an incredibly moist chocolaty treat!

    As far as desserts go, it’s on the “healthier” side.  My kiddos devoured it (and so did Steve and I)!

    Recipe adapted from Spend with Pennies.

    Ingredients:

    Chocolate Cake Ingredients:

    • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
    • 1 1/2 c. white sugar
    • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1 egg
    • 2 c. all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 2 tsp. baking soda
    • 2 1/2 c. grated zucchini (about 2 medium size)

    Chocolate Frosting Ingredients:

    • 1/3 c. milk
    • 1/3 c. butter
    • 1 1/2 c. white sugar
    • 1 c. mini chocolate chips (or preferred chocolate)

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350*.
    2. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.
    3. In a large bowl, combine oil, sugar, egg and vanilla.
    4. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder and baking soda.
    5. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and stir well. The mix will be quite dry… TRUST the recipe; then gently stir in the zucchini and spread the mixture into your prepared pan.
    6. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until cake is done.
    7. While cake is cooling, combine butter, milk and sugar in a small pan. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat. Allow mixture to boil vigorously for 30 seconds; then remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips. Immediately pour over warm cake. Let cool completely before cutting so the frosting has a chance to set.

    Chocolate (Zucchini) Cake with Chocolate Frosting:
    5star

  • Cinnamon Rolls with Frosting

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    When I make cinnamon rolls, I usually make my grandmother’s recipe, which is more like a sticky bun/cinnamon roll.  This weekend I tried a new recipe…one with frosting.  It was a hit.  Everyone loved the frosting!  How could you not love a cinnamon roll with frosting?!?!?!

    I lightened the recipe up by using Country Crock Light spread in place of the butter for both the cinnamon rolls and frosting, and it worked very well.

    Recipe adapted from Temp-Tations.

    Ingredients:

    Dough:

    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 (1/4-oz.) packet active dry yeast
    • 1 cup milk, heated until warm
    • 5 TBSP butter or Country Crock Light, melted
    • 3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 c. Bisquick baking mix
    • 1/2 c. sugar
    • 3/4 tsp. salt

    Filling:

    • 5 TBSP butter or Country Crock Light, softened
    • 1 c. dark brown sugar
    • 1 TBSP ground cinnamon

    Frosting:

    • 3 TBSP butter or Country Crock Light, softened
    • 1 c. powdered sugar

    Directions:

    1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs until frothy. Whisk in yeast, milk, and melted butter and let sit for 10 minutes.
    2. Add the remaining Dough ingredients to the mixing bowl, and mix into a sticky dough. Transfer to a well-floured surface and knead, adding additional flour, just until no longer sticky. Return ball of dough to the mixing bowl, cover, and put in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.
    3. On a well-floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out dough, until it is a large, 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Spread the softened butter on the surface of the dough to start the filling. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle evenly over the buttered dough.  Roll the rolling pin over the brown sugar and cinnamon to press all of the filling into the dough (and it makes it easier to roll).
    4. Line two jelly roll sheets with parchment paper and spray the parchment paper with nonstick cooking spray.
    5. Grab the short side of the dough, and roll entire length of dough into a pinwheel, pressing firmly as you go. Slice rolled pinwheel into 1 1/4 inch thick rounds and evenly spread about 9 (3 rows of 3) onto the jelly roll sheet.  You may need to pinch the ends so the roll doesn’t unroll.  One sheet may have fewer rolls, but that’s ok. Cover and let rise in a warm place for another 30 minutes.
    6. Preheat oven to 400* and bake cinnamon rolls 18-22 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
    7. Combine melted butter and powdered sugar to create the frosting. If frosting is hard, microwave 10-15 seconds to soften. Spoon frosting over cinnamon rolls while still hot, and serve.
    8. The next day, microwave your rolls for 15-30 seconds, and it tastes like it’s right out of the oven.

    Cinnamon Rolls with Frosting:
    5star

     

  • Beer Mac-n-Cheese and Beer Bread

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    If you like homemade mac-n-cheese you’ll definitely enjoy this version made with beer and bacon.  It’s so creamy and so flavorful.  If you don’t like bacon, leave it out, but bacon is a favorite in our house.  It was kid approved by the man-cheese eating kiddo (the non mac-n-cheese eating kiddo wasn’t home for dinner).  I added chipotle Tabasco to mine and that put it over the top for me!

    Beer bread: we’ve been making it for quite some time.  It is beyond good and beyond delicious and beyond easy!  We usually make a loaf, but this time we opted to make biscuits.  We’ll stick with the loaf from here on out because the biscuits didn’t have the same moist tenderness that the loaf has.

    Beer Mac-n-Cheese recipe from A Spicy Perspective.

    Beer Bread recipe from Food Network.

    Beer Mac-n-Cheese

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. elbow pasta
    • 12 oz. Shiner Bock (or favorite beer)
    • 8 oz. cream cheese (I used cream cheese with Greek yogurt)
    • 1 lb. cheddar cheese (not preshredded)
    • 1 c. crumbled bacon

    Beer Mac-n-Cheese directions:

    1. Place a large pot water on the stove to boil. Once boiling, add generous amounts of salt and add pasta; cook pasta al dente. Drain and set aside.
    2. Meanwhile, pour a bottle of beer in a skillet. (Choose a light crisp beer that you like to drink.) Turn the heat on high, and add the cream cheese in medium sized chunks. As the beer starts to simmer, break the cream cheese into pieces with a whisk and whisk into the beer.  Add the shredded cheese and whisk until completely smooth.
    3. Once the pasta is cooked and drained, pour it into the cheese sauce. Reduce the heat to low, then stir and cook another 3 minutes to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste.
    4. To serve, scoop the beer mac and cheese into bowls and sprinkle with crumbled bacon.

    Beer Mac-n-Cheese:
    4star

     

    Beer Bread

    Ingredients:

    • 3 c. self rising flour
    • 1/2 c. sugar
    • 12 oz. bottle of Shiner Bock beer (or favorite beer)
    • 3 TBSP melted butter

    Beer Bread Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 375*F.
    2. Butter a loaf pan and set aside.
    3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and beer and mix well. The mixture should be sticky. Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 55 minutes. At the last 3 minutes of baking, remove from oven, brush the top of the loaf with butter and return to oven.

    Beer Bread:
    5star

  • Whole Wheat Banana Muffins with Maple Frosting

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    These muffins are beyond delicious.  They are moist and flavorful and you would never know that they are healthyish!

    Think banana bread meets maple frosting.

    Think muffin meets cupcake.

    Think delicious.

    I combined two different recipes to create these muffins.

    Muffin recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod.  Frosting Recipe from Crazy for Crust.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 c. whole-wheat flour
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
    • 4 large ripe bananas (about 1 3/4 c. mashed)
    • 1 c. packed brown sugar
    • 1/4 c. coconut oil, melted and cooled
    • 1 large egg
    • 1/2 c. plain Greek yogurt
    • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
    • Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on muffins before baking, optional

    Frosting Ingredients:

    • 3 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
    • 1 c. powdered sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. maple extract
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • Milk or heavy whipping cream

    Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350*F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners, spray with cooking spray, and set aside.
    2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
    3. Peel the bananas and mash with a fork. Place the mashed bananas in a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, coconut oil, egg, Greek yogurt, and vanilla extract. Stir until well combined. Slowly stir in the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
    4. Fill muffin liners three-quarters full. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
    5. For the frosting: whisk melted butter and powdered sugar. Add extracts, whisk until smooth. Add milk or heavy whipping cream (to desired consistency…start with just a small amount (1-2 tsp.) at a time and add more, if necessary), whisk until smooth. Immediately frost completely cooled muffins.

    Whole Wheat Banana Muffins with Maple Frosting:
    5star

  • Banana Nutella Swirl Cake with Nutella Frosting

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    Bananas and Nutella.

    Need I say more?

    It’s a great use for overripe bananas, and this cake is well, think banana bread meets Nutella….perfection!

    This cake is so good.  Steve said “I’d serve this to company”.

    Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 c. all-purpose Gold Medal flour
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 c. vanilla Greek yogurt
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (to equal 1 c.)
    • 1/2 c. Nutella

    For the Nutella Frosting:

    • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1 c. Nutella
    • 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
    • 2-3 TBSP milk
    • 1/2 tsp. hazelnut (or vanilla) extract, optional

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease a 9×13 pan and set aside.
    2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
    3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the yogurt and vanilla extract. Mix in the mashed bananas.
    4. Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until flour disappears. Spread cake batter evenly into the prepared pan. Swirl the Nutella into the cake using a knife of toothpick.
    5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (mine took 35-40 minutes, so keep checking), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely.
    6. While the cake is cooling, make the Nutella frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and Nutella on high until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time. Beat on high until powdered sugar is incorporated. Add the milk and hazelnut extract, if using. Beat until frosting is smooth and desired consistency. If you need to add more milk, add a little bit at a time.
    7. Frost the cake with Nutella frosting. Cut into squares and serve.

    Banana Nutella Swirl Cake with Nutella Frosting:
    5star

  • Lemon Chicken Pasta with Broccoli

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    This dish is a one skillet dish…yes even the pasta!  It is extremely flavorful, and we loved the bold lemony garlicky sauce.  Everyone had seconds, even Ellie, who doesn’t eat much pasta.  It’s so good, that it tasted restaurant quality…yes, it’s that good!

    Ethan proclaimed: “This is a keeper”.  There you have it.

    We will most definitely be having this dish again and again.

    Since we love garlic, lemon, and Italian seasoning, I added way more than the original recipe.  If you’re not into those bold flavors as much, reduce those amounts to your liking.

    Recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts, cubed
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 TBSP oil
    • 2 heaping TBSP of minced garlic (I use pre-minced garlic in a jar
    • 1 TBSP Italian seasoning
    • 2 1/2 c. water
    • 2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
    • Zest of three lemons
    • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 3 lemons, use the same ones you just zested)
    • 12 ounces penne pasta (I use Barilla or Ronzoni Smart Taste)
    • 2-3 c. chopped fresh broccoli florets
    • 3/4 c. milk
    • 1 heaping TBSP cornstarch
    • 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

    Directions:

    1. Season chicken well with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large, 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until the oil is hot and rippling. Add the chicken and saute, stirring frequently, until the chicken is browned and cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate, keeping as much oil/liquid in the skillet as possible.
    2. Keep the skillet on medium heat and add another teaspoon of oil if needed (I usually don’t but you’ll want to keep an especially close eye on the garlic). Add the garlic and Italian seasoning and stir constantly for about 30 seconds. Add the water, broth, lemon juice and pasta. Stir to combine.
    3. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally just to keep the pasta from sticking, for 10-12 minutes until the pasta is tender – it will cook for a few more minutes in the next step. (Depending on the type of pasta you use, your cooking time may differ, so keep an eye on the pasta so you don’t overcook it).  There will be a bit of liquid left in the skillet; that’s ok.
    4. Add the broccoli and lemon zest. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes until the broccoli is bright green and tender. While the broccoli is cooking, whisk together the milk and cornstarch.
    5. Uncover the skillet and stir in the milk mixture along with the Parmesan cheese and reserved chicken. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce has thickened slightly, 1-2 minutes.
    6. Season with additional salt and pepper (this is really important – don’t skip this step!) and serve.

    Lemon Chicken Pasta with Broccoli:
    5star

  • Apple Zucchini Muffins

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    These muffins are healthy, delicious, and kid approved.  Need I say more?  I admit I was a bit skeptical given how little fat is in the muffins, but they turned out extremely moist and flavorful.

    They freeze wonderfully.  After they cool, I simply put them in a freezer bag, and then each night I pull 2 out (one for each kiddo), and put them in a sandwich bag for their school lunch the next day.  Perfect!

    Recipe adapted from Two Peas and their Pod.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
    • 3/4 c. dark brown sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
    • 1 c. buttermilk
    • 1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
    • 1 TBSP oil (melted coconut oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil)
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1/2 c. grated apple (approximately 2 Granny Smiths)
    • 1/2 c. grated zucchini, moisture slightly squeezed out
    • 1 c. chopped peeled apple (approximately 1 Granny Smith)

    For the Topping: use more if needed

    • 4 TBSP crunchy sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

    Directions:

    1.  Preheat oven to 375*F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
    2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and all-spice. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, applesauce, oil, egg, and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until just combined. Do not over mix. Gently stir in the grated apple, zucchini, and chopped apples.
    3. To make the topping, combine turbinado sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Stir well.
    4. Fill the prepared muffin pan with muffin batter, filling each cup about 3/4 the way full. Sprinkle each muffin with cinnamon sugar topping. Bake for 20 minutes, or until muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let muffins cool to room temperature and serve.

    ***Note-these muffins freeze well

    Apple Zucchini Muffins:
    5star

  • Jerk Chicken Sliders

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    Oh man are these sliders delicious!!!!  Everyone devoured them, and asked for more!  I love finding new recipes that everyone enjoys.  Yay!!

    We’ve made these with the pineapple mango salsa (recipe below), with the pineapple salsa (recipe below minus the mango), and with just the mango salsa (recipe below minus the pineapple).  Use what you have on hand or what you like best.  It’s all good!

    Recipe adapted from Chef in Training.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
    • 4 dinner rolls (I used the King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls and you can use the leftover rolls for the Cinnamon Pull-Apart Rolls!)

    Jamaican Jerk Sauce

    • ½ bunch green onions, chopped
    • ½ c. peanut oil
    • ½ c. vinegar
    • 3 TBSP ground allspice
    • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
    • 2 limes, juiced
    • 1/4 c. dark brown sugar
    • 2 TBSP soy sauce
    • 2 TBSP Ketchup
    • 1 TBSP ground cinnamon

    Pineapple Salsa

    • ¼ pineapple, peel and diced
    • ¾ mango, diced
    • ½ red onion, finely diced
    • Fresh cilantro, chopped
    • juice from 1 lime
    • salt to taste

    Directions:

    1. Mix the Jamaican Jerk Sauce ingredients until smooth.  Place the sauce in a large Ziploc bag and then add the chicken.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
    2. Prepare the Pineapple Salsa.
    3. Grill the chicken; then cut each breast in half (or smaller, if necessary).
    4. Slice each roll in half, place chicken on roll then top with Pineapple Salsa.

    Jerk Chicken Sliders:
    5star

  • Cinnamon Pull-Apart Rolls

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    These pull-apart rolls are so easy and so delicious.  I’ve made it a number of times, both with the large round loaf (as pictured) and with individual rolls.  Both equally delicious, but we tend to prefer the individual rolls, because there is more surface area for that crispy, yet sweet gooey goodness!

    ***Note: if you use individual rolls, you’ll need a muffin pan, and the directions differ slightly, but I’ve noted the changes below.

    Recipe adapted from The Country Cook.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 Hawaiian round sweet bread loaf (or 12 individual rolls)
    • 1 c. brown sugar
    • 6 TBSP butter
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon
    • 3 tsp. honey

    Frosting:

    • 1 c. powdered sugar
    • 1-2 TBSP milk
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (or our personal favorite orange extract)

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
    2. Remove loaf of sweet bread from aluminum pan.
    3. Using a serrated knife, make 5 vertical slices in loaf about 1 1/2 inches apart stopping about 1/2-inch from bottom crust.  ***Note: If using individual rolls make 2 slices about 1 inch apart topping about 1/2-inch from bottom crust.
    4. In a small saucepan over medium/low heat, combine brown sugar, butter and honey. Stir constantly until everything is melted and combined (about 5 minutes.) Remove from heat then stir in cinnamon.
    5. Open each slice that you made in the bread and spread on a couple of tablespoons of the glaze. Press the slices together to make sure glaze gets distributed on each side of the slices.
    6. Then take your knife and make 4 more horizontal slices. Then fill in those slices with glaze.  ***Note: If using individual rolls make 2 slices about 1 inch apart topping about 1/2-inch from bottom crust.
    7. Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray, push loaf back together and put it back into the aluminum pan.  ***Note: If using individual rolls, spray a muffin pan with cooking spray and put 1 roll in each muffin slot.  
    8. Spread any remaining glaze over the bread and bake for about 8-10 minutes.
    9. While bread is in the oven, start making the glaze. Whisk together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract (or orange, or whatever flavor you like).
    10. Once bread is finished baking, you can remove it from the pan or serve it directly from the pan (be careful, it’s hot!) Spoon the glaze on the warm bread.

    Cinnamon Pull-Apart Rolls:
    5star

  • Italian Beef Sandwiches

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    These sandwiches are delicious, and the meat is so flavorful.  Your house will smell divine too!  So easy to make in the crockpot and then toast them up on the oven when ready to eat.  The roasted red peppers and mild/hot pepper rings brighten the sandwiches up and give them delicious flavor.

    Simply great food.

    Everyone LOVED them.

    Everyone REQUESTS them.

    Recipe adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian.

    Ingredients:

    • 3 c. of boiling water
    • 5 tsp. beef bouillon
    • 1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
    • 2 tsp. ground black pepper
    • 2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1½ tsp. onion powder
    • 5 TBSP Italian seasoning
    • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper (to taste)
    • 1 (3 lb.) boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed of most fat

    Sandwich Fixings:

    • 8 hoagie rolls
    • 16 slices provolone cheese
    • 1 (16 oz.) jar roasted red peppers, sliced
    • 1 (16 oz.) jar mild or hot sliced pepper rings

    Directions:

    1. Turn 6 quart slow cooker to high heat.  Add boiling water, beef bouillon and Worcestershire.
    2. Combine remaining seasonings in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over beef broth and whisk to combine.  Add roast and flip to coat both sides.  Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low 8-10 hours.  Shred beef by using two forks to pull it apart.  Stir to coat all beef in the juices.  Cook 1 additional hour covered. (Do not drain)  Really not necessary, so you can skip this step.
    3. When ready to serve:  Slice rolls in half, place on a baking sheet and broil in oven for 2-4 minutes until bread is lightly golden brown.
    4. Scoop beef on toasted roll and top with 2 slices of provolone cheese.  Place back on baking sheet and broil until cheese is melted.  Top with red pepper slices and mild pepper rings.

    Italian Beef Sandwiches:
    5star