Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Healthy Solutions Spice Blends - Slow Cooker Hearty Beef Stew

This is my first product review! I was contacted and asked to review the Healthy Solutions Spice Blends spice packets. I chose 4 spice packets to try and received samples in the mail: Savory Meatloaf, Authentic Chili/Tacos, Italian Meatballs, and Hearty Beef Stew. Each of them come with a recipe on the back. They are all natural, and most contain no salt or sugar. I'm not a health nut, so normally this isn't something that I really care about when buying spice packets, but I couldn't say no to trying something for free. You can't buy these at the store in Washington, but they sell them in a few states at Whole Foods and other stores, and of course you can buy them online on their website here. If these were available in my local store, I would probably buy them again. So if you live in one of the lucky states (like Texas), or are into online shopping, give these a try! I used the recipe on the stew packet and tweaked it a bit. It originally called for wine, which I don't usually cook with, so I substituted water and beef bouillon. It made a very flavorful broth and my family loved it. My husband really liked the flavor of the spices on the meat (said it tasted a little like bbq). Some of us opted to eat it over rice. I will use this recipe again, even if I don't have the spice packet.

Slow Cooker Hearty Beef Stew
adapted from Healthy Solutions Spice Blends
1 1/2-2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 onion, chopped (I like big chunks)
1 cup green beans, washed and trimmed (or other vegetable you like)
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalk celery, sliced
2 cups water
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 pkg Healthy Solutions Spice Blends Hearty Beef Stew
2 lbs beef stew meat or cube steak, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup chili sauce

1. Place all vegetables in bottom of slow cooker. Add water and bouillon cubes. Sprinkle 1/2 of spice packet over the top of vegetables.
2. Place meat on top. Sprinkle meat with remaining spices. Pour chili sauce on top of meat.
3. Cook on low 8-10 hours. (I like to cook on low for about 7 hours and then high for the last 2-3 hours just to make sure that meat is tender).
4. Stir and serve.







Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Apple Pie Muffins

It's fall! We went apple picking last Saturday and brought home lots of beautiful apples! This was our first experience picking apples and it was very exciting, except for the bee sting. :/ We tasted different varieties while picking, but the ones we brought home were Tsugaru. Never heard of them? I hadn't either, but they are a very sweet apple, and we love sweet! They aren't necessarily a baking apple, but I had to try something new! We loved these muffins! I especially like that they aren't full of cinnamon like most baked apple dishes. Even though fall is apple season, apples are always available, so you can make these anytime!

Apple Pie Muffins
adapted from allrecipes.com
Topping
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup margarine
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Muffins 
2 1/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups diced apples (about 1 large apple, I leave my peel on)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease muffin tins or line with paper muffin cups.
2. For topping: Combine topping ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix using a pastry blender or fork, cutting up the margarine into no bigger than pea sized pieces. Set aside.
3. For muffins: In a large bowl, whisk together 2 1/4 cups flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
4. In a separate smaller bowl, mix together the egg, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla.
5. Pour into the flour mixture and sprinkle the diced apple into the bowl as well. Stir just until everything is blended.
6. Using a large scoop (about 1/4 cup), scoop batter into the prepared muffin tin. Sprinkle each cup of batter with 1 1/2 TBSPs of topping mixture.
7. Bake for 20-22 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly pressed. Let cool in pan 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack.
Makes about 18 muffins.






Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Skillet Dinner with Bacon

We love pretty much anything with bacon and cheese, so if I can add those ingredients to a dinner, my family will love it. This is just like a chicken and rice casserole, but assembled in an oven proof or cast iron skillet. If you don't have one, you can transfer everything to a casserole dish, just make sure it's safe to use under the broiler. There is a lot of Tabasco flavor in this dish, so beware that you might need to cut down on the amount for kids.

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Skillet Dinner with Bacon
adapted from picky-palate.com
1/2 pound bacon
4 TBSPs butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1-2 TBSPs Tabasco Sauce
2 cups cooked shredded chicken
4 cups cooked white rice
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Cook bacon, drain and set aside. Reserve 2 TBSPs bacon drippings.
2. Place butter into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted whisk in flour, and pepper until smooth and bubbly. Slowly whisk in chicken broth. Increase heat to high whisking broth until thickened. Reduce heat to low and stir in 1 1/2 cups cheese. Stir in Tabasco sauce. Reduce heat to a simmer and set aside.
3. Place reserved 2 TBSPs bacon drippings back to oven proof skillet. Stir in cooked rice. Add chicken and cheese sauce, mixing to combine. Top with 1 cup cheddar cheese then top with crumbled cooked bacon. Place under oven’s broiler for 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted. Serve immediately. Makes 4-6 servings.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Oreo Sheet Cake

Yummy yum yum! We're trying to only eat dessert on the weekends right now, so when I make something it has to be GOOD! I made this last weekend to take to a potluck BBQ. When I picked up my platter it was all gone, but luckily I saved a few pieces at home. ;) This is a basic chocolate sheet cake with some chopped Oreos in the batter, topped with cream cheese frosting, and more Oreos. Next time you're making a chocolate sheet cake try throwing in some cookies!

Oreo Sheet Cake
adapted from feistyeats.wordpress.com
Chocolate Sheet Cake
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk or 1/2 cup milk with 2 tsps white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup hot water
1 1/2 cups chopped Oreo cookies
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8 oz.) pkg cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
5 - 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Oreo cookies, chopped-for topping the cake

1. To make the sheet cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a sheet pan with cooking spray and set aside. I used a 10 x 15.5 in. pan.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Set aside.
3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter on medium-low heat. Whisk in the cocoa powder and hot water. Turn up the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from heat.
4. Add the melted butter mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Stir in the egg mixture and mix until ingredients are combined. Stir in the chopped Oreo cookies.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread out evenly. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
6. While the cake is baking, make the cream cheese frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter, and shortening until combined. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat on high for 5 minutes.
7. When the cake is completely cool, frost the cake with the cream cheese frosting. Sprinkle the cake with chopped up Oreo cookies. Cut into squares and serve.





Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Flat Bread Pizzas

School started today, which means I have time to post! This is what we had for dinner last night. We all like different toppings on our pizzas, so this is what I do to make everyone happy, with out spending a lot of time and/or money! I posted a BBQ Chicken Flat Bread Pizza recipe awhile back and this is basically the same thing but with tomato sauce and regular pizza toppings. You can use ANYTHING you like on these. We do pepperoni, sausage, cooked shredded chicken, olives, spinach, tomato, sautéed onion and green bell pepper...or whatever I feel like throwing on there. I love using the flat bread pitas because they are cheap and easy! 

Flat Bread Pizzas
6 Flat Bread Pitas
1 - 1 1/2 cups pizza or spaghetti sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Toppings

1. Prepare any toppings that need to be precooked, like chicken and sausage. I also sauté my onion and bell pepper first.
2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the pitas on 2 large baking sheets.
3. Spread about 3 TBSPs of sauce over each pita leaving a small space around the edge (we like a lot of sauce).
4. Sprinkle 1/3-1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese over sauce on each pizza.
5. Place your desired toppings on top of cheese. Sprinkle a tiny bit of cheese on top (I used cheddar in my pics).
6. Bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes until crust is crispy and cheese is melted. Rotate pans halfway through baking.





Friday, August 22, 2014

Spicy Peanut Butter Noodles

My sister has been trying to get me to make this for ages. I haven't had much luck with Asian flavored noodles. I don't really like fish or oyster sauce, and I hadn't found any recipes I am partial to. I loved this one! I made it spicy with 1 1/2 tsps of Sriracha sauce, and it was pretty hot! My kids would have probably preferred a little less kick. If you don't want to buy a whole bottle of Sriracha sauce for this recipe, (the bottles are big) you could substitute some crushed red pepper flakes, but I really liked the flavor of the sauce. This would also be great with the addition of chicken or tofu.

Spicy Peanut Butter Noodles
adapted from allrecipes.com
8 ounces linguine noodles
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 TBSPs minced fresh ginger root
3 TBSPs soy sauce
3 TBSPs peanut butter
1 1/2 TBSPs honey
1 - 2 tsps hot chili sauce, like Sriracha sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped peanuts

1.Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until tender according to package directions. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, combine chicken broth, ginger, soy sauce, peanut butter, honey, chili sauce, and garlic in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until peanut butter melts and is heated through. Add noodles, and toss to coat. Garnish with green onions and peanuts.
Serves 4


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Blueberry Sauce

I used this sauce on my Blueberry Baked French Toast. It would also be great on ice cream. It's very easy to make!!

Blueberry Sauce
adapted from mybakingaddiction.com
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 TBSPs lemon juice
2 TBSPs cornstarch, mixed with 2 TBSPs cold water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the blueberries, 1/2 cup of water, sugar and lemon juice. Stir frequently, and bring to a low boil.
2. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water.
3. Slowly stir the corn starch into the blueberries, taking care not to crush the blueberries. Simmer until the homemade blueberry sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon, about 5 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and gently stir in vanilla.

Notes: You can adjust the sweetness of the sauce by decreasing or increasing the sugar. Also, if you want it to be more syrupy instead of thick, then add a little more water.