Why you should make green smoothies?

IMG_0440Not just for yourself, but also for your loved ones.  Especially your toddlers.  Probably the biggest and best reason for this is because they are delicious.  A close second is they are super healthy.  And coming in right behind that, it’s an easy way to teach kids they like spinach!

My recipe is super easy.  And super duper delicious.  And SweetPea asks for it, on a regular basis.  And if I try to make some just for me, she won’t stand for it.  And who am I to say no when my kid asks for some of my vegetable yumminess?

If you haven’t already jumped on the green smoothie band wagon, now’s the time!

Green Smoothie Recipe

1 cup orange juice
2 bananas
2-3 handfuls of spinach
1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)

Put the orange juice and spinach in a blender, blend until smooth.  Add bananas.  Blend.  Add chia seeds.  Blend.  Serve and enjoy.

The most important thing when making a green smoothie is blend the liquid (juice, water, milk, whatever you choose) and the greens BEFORE adding anything else.  Or you end up with confetti in your mouth.  Now this may sound like a party, but it’s not.  It’s actually awful.  However if you blend the greens before adding in banana or fruit or ice it will turn out smooth, amazing, and oh-so-good.

The second most important thing is to make enough to share.  Or you won’t get enough.  You will, however, have a kid with a pretty awesome green smoothie mustache.  Which is pretty awesome.

IMG_0437

Advertisements

Spicy Sausage, Potato, and Kale Soup

Spicy sausage, potato, and kale soup

Spicy sausage, potato, and kale soup

Oh man.  Not that this soup is souper spicy (see what I did there?) or anything but it does have a little more heat than my 2-year-old typically eats.  However, I put a small serving (I wasn’t planning on wasting a single drop of this deliciousness) in front of her; she took one bite and started saying how good the soup was and then continued to plow through her bowl like a champ.

Toddler approved spicy sausage, potato, and kale soup

Toddler approved spicy sausage, potato, and kale soup

I need to remember that whenever I give her something that has a little spice in it, as long as I don’t say, “Oh, this might be too spicy for SweetPea,” there’s a good chance she’ll give it a shot and maybe like it.

Unfortunately for me, she liked this soup…which means I had fewer leftovers…which means I got to eat less of the soup…which kind of sucked because this soup is really good.  However, it’s also really easy to make, so I might just have to make it again in the near future.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound spicy chorizo sausage
2 Tbsp butter (or olive oil, but butter is delicious)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I used closer to 1/4 tsp to keep the heat down)
1 large bunch of kale, stemmed and chopped (about 2 very large handfuls)
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite size bits
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup milk or cream (I used 2%)

Directions:

Heat large pot over medium high heat.  Add chorizo and brown it.  Once chorizo is browned, remove it from pot and set aside.
Lower heat to medium, add butter and let it melt.  Then add the onions and let them cook 5-10 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Cook another 5-10 minutes.
Add chopped kale in smallish batches (I did mine in 4 batches).  Let each batch wilt before adding the next.  Add the nutmeg and stir.  Cook another 2-3 minutes to allow the kale to fully wilt.
Add potatoes, cooked sausage, and chicken broth.  Bring to boil.
Lower heat and let simmer an hour or more (the longer it simmers the better the flavors).
Stir in the milk (or cream).

Serve and enjoy!

Spicy sausage, potato, and kale soup

Spicy sausage, potato, and kale soup

Strawberries ‘n Cream Oatmeal Smoothie

toddler friendly smoothie

Strawberries ‘n Cream Oatmeal Smoothie (and yes, that’s a green smoothie in the background…gotta have it!)

What!?!

Ok.  If I’m being completely honest, this recipe was mostly just a series of mistakes.  Mistakes that turned into a gloriously tasty smoothie (if you don’t believe me, ask SweetPea).

It started with homemade yogurt.  That didn’t turn out.  Way to soupy.  But I wasn’t going to throw it away…that would have been a waste of perfectly good milk.  Besides, when I make refrigerator oatmeal I add both yogurt and milk…so soupy yogurt is the perfect combination, right?

Well, it was the first few times I made it.  Then I finished that jar of homemade yogurt and started on another jar…which was even soupier.  How does that happen?  It was from the same batch.

Whatever.  I still made my refrigerator oatmeal like I have been.  However, when I pulled it out the next morning it was still soup.  Not a nice creamy oatmeal consistency at all.  More like liquid…with oatmeal flakes floating in it.

That’s when I had to get creative.  I threw it in the blender.  Then added a handful of strawberries.  And came up with this.  Which tastes just like strawberries ‘n cream instant oatmeal packs that I ate when I was younger.

It’s super delicious.  And healthy for you.  And my toddler loved it (and the pink smoothie mustache she got from drinking it 🙂 )

Now, I can make this again with my soupy yogurt…but when I run out of that, this will be the recipe I follow (and it uses no soupy yogurt).

Ingredients:

1/4 cup uncooked old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup milk
2 tsp honey (add more or less to taste)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
handful of strawberries (I used fresh, but I think frozen will work just as well)

Directions:

The night before:
Put the first four ingredients in a mason jar.  Stir, shake, roll…anything to get everything mixed together.  Put in fridge.  Leave overnight.

The morning of:
Dump all of the mason jar contents into a blender.  Add your strawberries (sans stems).  Blend until smoothie consistency (feel free to more milk if it’s too thick).

Drink and enjoy!  And if you’re feeling particularly giving, share it with a toddler or a husband…but know this makes a small smoothie…so you might need to up the ingredients if everyone wants some!

Fancy Mac

Bacon, apple, caramelized onion mac and cheese

Bacon, apple, caramelized onion mac and cheese

Have I told you how much I love mac and cheese?  I love mac and cheese as much as a two-year-old loves mac and cheese, and I know how much that is.  It’s one of the most perfect comfort meals.  So good.  Not surprisingly,  I have tried a few different recipes.  And each has it’s own spin on the meal, and personally, I’ve enjoyed every one.

This recipe happens to use roasted squash, apple, caramelized onion, and bacon.  That makes it fancy.  It also makes it delicious.  The downside to this dish?  It’s a little more time consuming than other mac and cheese recipes.  But the flavor has more depth and dimension plus the squash gives it a beautiful orange color.  So give it a go.

Ingredients:

1/2 butternut squash
1 Tbsp butter
1/3 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 crisp apple, chopped
2 strips of bacon, cooked to crispy and chopped
2 cups dry macaroni
1 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/4 tsp chicken bouillon
salt, to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.  Line pan with aluminum foil.  Place half of squash, cut side up, on pan.  Cook for 45-60 minutes.  It’s done when the squash can easily be pierced with a fork.  Scoop the flesh out.  Puree in food processor, add 1-2 Tbsp water to get the right consistency.

Heat skillet over med-low heat.  Melt butter in skillet.  Add onions to skillet, let caramelize – this should be done slowly, over about 30 minutes.

Cook pasta as instructed.  Drain.  Add squash, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, evaporated milk, and chicken bouillon.  Stir.  Add apples, onion, and bacon.  Stir.  Add salt to taste.

Serve and enjoy!

When I made this for my family, I served my 2-year-old before adding the apples, onion, and bacon (it’s a texture thing).  And she thoroughly enjoyed her squashy mac and cheese.

As for myself and my husband, we thought this was a fabulous recipe.  Unfortunately, we ran out of spinach, so we couldn’t have a salad with it, but there is squash in the mac and cheese…so I had seconds just so I would get more veggies 🙂 .

Bacon, apple, caramelized onion mac and cheese

Bacon, apple, caramelized onion mac and cheese

Easy Greek Yogurt Mac and Cheese

Easy, creamy, delicious Greek Yogurt Mac and Cheese

Easy, creamy, delicious Greek Yogurt Mac and Cheese

I love mac and cheese.  So does my husband.  So does my two-year-old.  I stumbled upon  this recipe for greek yogurt mac and cheese over on Pinterest.  Mac and cheese.  And greek yogurt.  I was sold.  After checking the ingredients and seeing I had everything on hand, I quickly whipped up a batch for lunch.

And I was not disappointed.  So much so that I enjoyed a second helping.  Then a third.  Oops, I’m just going to say that third helping was solely due to my pregnancy…not my gluttony…anyway.

This recipe is not only easy and delicious but it lends itself to adding other flavors quite nicely.

Ingredients:

Serves 4…unless somebody has thirds, then it serves fewer 🙂

1.5 cups macaroni
1.5 cups shredded cheese
1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp onion powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 carrot, grated and steamed (this was my vegetable add-in and it is optional)

Directions:

Cook macaroni according to directions.

In a food processor, blend cheese, greek yogurt, garlic, onion powder, and carrot.

Drain macaroni.  Return to pan and put back on the warm burner.  Add cheese mixture.  Stir until melted.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve and eat and enjoy.  Serve seconds and eat and enjoy.  Serve thirds and eat and enjoy.  Debate having fourths…

I added the carrot to give it a little nutritional boost.  But other veggies or meats would be tasty ( and not all the others would need to be food processed, I did that to help the texture so my SweetPea would eat it).  Veggies that I think would be good: spinach, peas, squash, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.  I also think that cubed ham or bacon would be mighty tasty in this dish.