Easter and Spring Biscotti

When I was in college I took tons of photos of everything. Photos of scenery around the Savannah, GA area, photos of my family, photos of my friends, photos of random things I thought were neat or interesting. I’d go home, download the photos from my camera, save them to a CD (gotta love the early 2000’s) and never print them. I was notorious for not printing photos; I just didn’t see the point. Then Facebook and cell phone cameras came along and I took the photos and I posted them ALL online. I have Facebook albums, Flickr accounts, everything went online. I didn’t sort any of them, I just posted them online.

Then I got married and I slowly starting taking fewer and fewer photos. Instead of taking photos I wanted to enjoy the moments in real time with my husband. Do we have photos of what we’ve done? Absolutely! Do I walk by things and think it would be a great picture, but don’t whip out a camera to take one now? Yep, sure do. Do I delete pictures because either myself or my husband feel we don’t look very good in it? All the time.

Within the past year of having a baby I’ve begun taking more photos again. I don’t always print them, but I have actually been printing and putting them in an album. As of right now, it’s even up-to-date (gasp!). This is adulting done right. My new favorite thing to do once I’ve taken photos is to use a photo editor to update them. I’m currently obsessed with one called Baby Pics. It has so many options for typefaces, artwork, and filters. I love them all and can hardly decide which one looks better. Plus – having a cute little munchkin who looks adorable no matter what really helps, too.

With Easter being this weekend I set up a mini-photo shoot for our nearly eight month old. She really only has like a five minute attention span for photos, so I got everything ready, plopped her down in the set, and had my husband try to entertain her while I snapped some photos. I think they all turned out really well. My husband grabbed a few side shots of her smiling while I was trying to make her giggle. Isn’t she just the cutest? And I LOVE LOVE LOVE these filters. And the artwork with the bunny ears? If that isn’t adorable I don’t know what it. No – Baby Pics App is not sponsoring this post I just really enjoy it and wanted to share.

Which one of the photos is your favorite? I’m still deciding which ones to print and would love advice!

 

Once I finished taking photos I felt like baking. Easter to me is the perfect time to bake spring treats. It was a beautiful sunny day the day before Easter for us, but by Sunday it was chilly, gray, and rainy all day. To me, it was the perfect weekend, it gave us a wonderful day outside followed by a family day inside. What better way to enjoy a family day than by baking spring biscottis and enjoying it with some hot chocolate, snuggles, and watching (or teething on) Rogue One (yes, I took the dvd out before I gave it to her). I made the joke that if you are what you eat then my baby is a Jedi.

Maddie Rogue One baby

Anyways, I made spring biscotti by slightly altering my chocolate almond biscotti recipe. I absolutely love funfetti everything, so adding sprinkles made it so much more springy, and added a little joy to the top of the biscotti. Who doesn’t love sprinkles? Sprinkles are the baking equivalent of glitter. Some people love them, some hate them, I can’t get enough of either. Sparkles and sprinkles are my peeps. These came out deliciously ready for eating.

INGREDIENTS
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips
4 tbsp cold butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, lightly beaten

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Stir until combined.
  3. Add butter and vanilla. Stir until well combined. I did use my food processor this time and it worked like a charm.
  4. Add chocolate chips, sprinkles, and eggs. Mix until the entire dough is in one big ball. I had to use my hands to mix it correctly.
  5. Divide dough into two smaller balls and form into logs.
  6. Place two logs side by side on baking sheet. Sprinkle on extra sprinkles 🙂
  7. Flatten logs into the shape you want your biscotti to be in.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes and then remove for oven.
  9. Let biscotti cool for 5-10 minutes. You need the dough cool, but warm enough to not crumble when cut.
  10. Turn slices on side and return to oven for about 10 minutes. I prefer a harder biscotti so I left it in for 15 minutes.
  11. Remove when edges are barely browned.
  12. Let cool and enjoy.

Nutritional Information (1/13th of recipe): 178 calories, 4g protein, 27g carbs, 2g fiber, 12g sugar

birthday cake biscotti

Pizza Tot-chos with hidden veggies

Is it possible that food can be perfect? For me there are two perfect foods, pizza and nachos. Specifically – I love combining pizza and nachos into pizza nachos. Pepperoni, mozz, and sauce in nacho form? It may be the best invention since sliced bread.If only eating pizza or nachos made you skinny. I’d LOVE that. Since it doesn’t, I do my best to make them as healthy as possible and leave them as a special now and then treat.

Recently, I saw online that Green Giant had made a cauliflower tater tot. I mean, tater tots aren’t necessarily one of my favorite foods, but I do love me some tot-chos.  Apparently their marketing worked because I went to the store and picked up some cauliflower tater tots this week. I’m like a five year old sometimes, I sneak veggies into my own meals I’m all for it. Cauliflower tots – sold. This is mom level PRO if you ask me. My husband thought I was nuts as I put them in the cart. I even told him I was trying to eat more veggies and he told me that I was crazy. Maybe I am – crazy healthy that is. Or I may just be crazy. Either way – these tot-chos are going to become a staple for me because the are so so good.

This past week little Madison got her first ear infection which left me at home with her for two days before I could take her back to day care. Knowing that I had extra time for lunch, I decided it was finally time to whip up some cauliflower pizza tot-chos. They really hit the spot and gave me the energy to snuggle with my poor sick baby. I promise these are both delicious and freakishly easy to throw together while holding a baby in one arm. Depending on the amount you make they can be a great after school snack, lunch, or even dinner for the whole family!

Cauliflower pizza tot-chos

INGREDIENTS

Green Giant cauliflower tots
Mozzarella cheese
Hormel Turkey Pepperoni
Pizza Sauce
Other pizza toppings as desired

DIRECTIONS

1. Cook tator tots in 425 degree oven for twenty minutes.
2. Take out tots and top them with desired pizza toppings.
3. Place tots back in oven for additional 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and lightly browned.
4. Top with pizza sauce and parmesan cheese and enjoy!

 

Easter in Colorado & a new recipe

Maddie and daddy Easter plagiocephalyMadison has officially celebrated her first Easter. This past weekend we drove out to Colorado to visit my in-laws. She lucked out and gets to have two Easters this year because I work on actual Easter we wanted to celebrate early with family. The Easter bunny (grandparents and uncle) spoiled her rotten, but she’s still too young to even know how lucky she is to have such a wonderful family. Easter with the Kumms is always quite fun. They have a family tradition of dyeing hard boiled eggs. This year we colored two whole cartons of them. They’ll definitely be eating egg salad for the next week, but it was a blast. I forgot to take photos of them, but they all turned out really well. James even made one for me saying ‘I love Carol.’ I hit the jackpot when it comes to husbands. He really is the best man I could ask for and a great dad to Maddie.

We celebrated Easter on Saturday morning. James’s mom put together baskets and had us open Madison’s first. We all have the philosophy to do the baby’s things while she’s still in a good mood. She has officially started a stuffed animal collection with a cute bunny and an unpictured pink sparkly dragon. The bunny is nearly bigger than her and the dragon is definitely taller than her. She also got some funny onesies from her uncle. I can’t wait for her to be big enough for two of them. She’s still a little too small. Grandma and Grandpa Kumm have an English Sheepdog named Phantom. He pretended to be the Easter bunny for Maddie. Side note – plagiocephaly helmets keep headbands on really well. I was impressed. The basket James received had the new 3D Phone Goggles for your phone. James really enjoyed playing with it.

After presents we had some down time before dinner. James and his dad decided to have him try out his dad’s inversion therapy table. The goal is to slowly raise your hands and then the table slowly brings you off the ground until it stretches your back out. Apparently, it’s very helpful if you have back problems. James didn’t reset the device for his height so when he tried it he shot backwards incredibly fast. It was HILARIOUS! You can see the shock on hid dad’s face I don’t think any of us were expecting that.

Before dinner we went to see the new Beauty and the Beast in the theater. I was so glad we got a chance to see it without the baby and without having to pay for a babysitter. Aren’t grandparents great? They got quality time with Maddie; we got date day followed by Easter dinner. It’s a win-win in my book. After dinner we watched the latest episode of Agents of SHIELD and went to bed.

Once we got home I was hit with the baking bug. I really wanted to bake something and I really wanted that something to have chocolate. Can you blame me? We had a couple of bananas that were about to go bad so I whipped up a small batch of chocolate banana muffins. I adapted the recipe to use less sugar, no oil, and substituted unsweetened applesauce for both. I prefer slightly less sweet muffins, and these were spot on. Out of the oven they were warm, melty and swoon-worthy. They’ve been my breakfast for the past two days and they’ve kept really well. I did forget to put the in a sealed container the first night, so they dried out a bit, but they’ve still been very moist event with that mistake.

Chocolate Banana Muffins healthy

INGREDIENTS:
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 bananas – mashed
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. whole wheat flour
2/3 c. white flour
1/2 c. chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix the sugar, applesauce, and eggs until creamy.
  2. Add in the vanilla and mashed bananas. Stir until well mixed.
  3. Add in baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and both flours. Stir until well combined.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Divide into muffin tin. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. For reference – it took 17 minutes in my oven.

Nutritional Information (makes 9 muffins): 200 calorie, 36g carbs, 4g protein, 4g fiber, 5g fat, 19g sugar

A Touch of France : Lavendar Lemon Quinoa

Lemon Lavendar QuinoaI spent a semester in college living in France. More specifically, I spent a semester living in the Provence of France in a tiny little city called Lacoste. It was beautiful, right near the French Alps at the base of Mont Ventoux. My college, the Savannah College of Art and Design, had a little campus in Lacoste. It was an amazing semester.

One of the things I remember most about Lacoste was the over-abundance of lavender. The Provence of France provides a majority of the world’s lavender. There are literally fields upon fields of nothing but lavender. There was lavender in everything,  lemonade, cookies, breads, drinks, even satchels you placed in your clothes. Everything smelled of lavender. I really miss it sometimes.

I found cooking lavender this past week while my parents were visiting and I could not help but pick it. Knowing my current quinoa obsession, I decided to experiment and make some lavender lemon quinoa. SO AMAZING! It brings me right back to that semester in Lacoste. Being gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, and dairy-free, it’s totally a no-guilt dish to try. I may have gotten a little photo-happy while making this. It just looks so pretty, I could not help myself.

Lemon Lavendar Quinoa

INGREDIENTS
Makes 2 servings
1 cup quinoa
1/2 tablespoon lavender
Juice from 1/4 of a lemon
Lemon wedge to garnish

DIRECTIONS
1. Cook quinoa according to directions.
2. Add quinoa, lavender, and lemon juice to a bowl and mix thoroughly.
3. Close your eyes and envision being in a field of lavender in the summer.

Nutritional information: 228 calories; 8g protein; 41g carbs; 5g fiber; 2g sugar

Have you ever been to France?

Using up our leftovers: Chicken & vegetable fried rice

Chicken and Vegetable Fried RiceI’m sure you’ve been there before. You make meals for the week and end up with leftovers that you don’t know what to do with. We ended up there this week. A couple random pieces of chicken, some cooked veggies, some fresh veggies that we didn’t eat for other meals, and only a few days left before they went bad. I asked my husband what he wanted to do with them and he suggested fried rice. So, I went to the kitchen and got cooking.

We both love Chinese food, but when we moved to a small town in Kansas we’ve really struggled to find a good Chinese restaurant. One over breads everything, another overcooks everything, one drowns it in soy sauce. After trying so many places we decided it’s easier (and cheaper) to do it on our own so we can make it to our own liking. I prefer grilled chicken, little to no soy sauce, and rice that’s still al dente. My husband prefers more soy sauce than me, but other than that is open to just about anything.

I personally struggle to eat enough vegetables on a daily basis. I mean, I know I should, but everything else always sounds better. The joy of fried rice is you eat vegetables without even noticing they’re there. Not only does it make me feel healthier, but someday we can serve this to the munchkin to make her eat her veggies, too. She’s still too little to be eating them, but soon she’ll be on more than mashed and pureed foods.

When we make fried rice it is probably one of the easiest recipes we use. I mean, if it got much easier it would be hard to call it a recipe. Any leftovers you have you could potentially use in fried rice. Leftover turkey after Thanksgiving…turkey fried rice. Leftover ham after Easter…ham fried rice. Leftover taco meat after Taco Tuesday…Mexican fried rice. You get the idea, right?

Chicken and Vegetable Fried Rice

RECIPE
2 cups rice (we used a wild rice, quinoa combo)
2 eggs
Soy sauce

Everything else is completely up to you. Whatever you have in your fridge will work. We used:
2 pieces of chicken, shredded
1/2 green pepper, cut in strips
1/2 red pepper, cut in strips
1/2 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped
Leftover peppers and radishes, chopped

DIRECTIONS:
1. Cook rice according to instructions on box.
2. While rice is cooking, saute fresh vegetables in large skillet.
3. After 5-7 minutes, add in pre-cooked food items (leftovers) and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
4. Add cooked rice and stir until everything is well mixed.
5. Add soy sauce to your flavoring and serve.

What have you put in your fried rice?

Do you have any other uses for leftover food?

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

I have not had coffee in over a month. It’s true. I used to be an addict. I wanted coffee every day. I thought going to Starbucks was a special ‘treat’ because it was on the way to work. I would stop there on days that I knew were going to be long to help put me in a good mood for the day. Then we moved to Kansas. The closest Starbucks in nearly an hour away and the local coffee shops are just not the same. So I scaled back and only drank coffee from my Keurig.

Then I got pregnant. I switched to decaf and thought it was okay, but not like ‘real’ coffee. I slowly stopped drinking coffee entirely. Once Madison was born I picked up the coffee habit again, but in moderation. As she got older I cut back and recently have been drinking soda as my go-to caffeine source. Our Keurig has been mostly for hot cocoa and chai teas. My husband has never really been a coffee drinker, so he hasn’t even noticed the difference.

This past week I discovered the Great British Baking Show and have been addicted. I’ve watched two entire seasons in one week. If that’s not binge watching, I don’t know what is. Yesterday I saw an episode where they made biscotti and it made me want a biscotti. I needed a biscotti. I haven’t eaten biscotti since my coffee drinking days, but I couldn’t help myself. So I hopped in the kitchen and got to baking. Sadly, these biscotti were not washed down with hot tea or coffee, just some chai tea, but there were still absolutely delectable. They were crisp, but still a smidge soft in the middle. They tasted fabulous when dipped in the hot chai. I hope Mary Berry would be proud.

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

RECIPE

1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped almonds
4 tbsp cold butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, lightly beaten

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Chop 1/2 cup of almonds into coarse bits.
  3. Combine sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Stir until combined.
  4. Add butter and vanilla. Stir until well combined. I used my hands to break the butter into smaller pieces. A food processor would have worked better, but ours is not working currently.
  5. Add chocolate chips and eggs. Mix until the entire dough is in one big ball. I had to use my hands to mix it correctly.
  6. Divide dough into two smaller balls and form into logs.
  7. Place two logs side by side on baking sheet.
  8. Flatten logs into the shape you want your biscotti to be in. I went the traditional route.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes and then remove for oven.
  10. Let biscotti cool for 5-10 minutes. You need the dough cool, but warm enough to not crumble when cut.
  11. Turn slices on side and return to oven for about 10 minutes. I prefer a harder biscotti so I left it in for 15 minutes.
  12. Remove when edges are barely browned.
  13. Let cool and enjoy.

Nutritional Information (1/16th of recipe): 158 calories, 3g protein, 27g carbs, 1g fiber, 16g sugar

Marinated Tomato Salad

We are overwhelmed with cherry tomatoes. Seriously, so many little tomatoes. I know it’s tomato season, but I feel like we are up to our eyeballs in tomatoes. The sad thing is, we do not even own a tomato plant, we just bought them at Costco without first planning on how we would use them. The bonus to all of this: I get to experiment! I love a good cooking experiment.

When I think of tomatoes, I usually think of a delicious caprese salad. However, being lactose intolerant I cannot eat that. So, I made a lactose free version of caprese salad complete with a little extra seasoning. The result was spot on. I could have eaten the entire bowl. I plan on using it to top my omelette tomorrow, topping a salad for either lunch or dinner (or both), and maybe not sharing with my husband. For all you raw foodies out there, this is entirely raw, vegan, vegetarian, and absolutely delicious. The combination of veggies and healthy fats makes it a great side dish or snack. How can you go wrong with that?

Marinated Tomato Salad

INGREDIENTS
3 cups cherry tomatoes (chopped in half)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
Fresh basil for topping.

DIRECTIONS
1. Chop the tomatoes in halves and place in large bowl with lid.
2. Add the olive oil, oregano, basil, garlic powder, and onion powder to the bowl and seal the lid.
3. Shake it up baby!
4. Allow the tomatoes to marinate at least 4-6 hours, if not longer.
5. Top with fresh basil and enjoy.

Basil plant

A little basil plant helped me with the fresh basil for this recipe.