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Friday, November 16, 2018

When the sun's coming up I got cakes on the griddle

Now that it's less than a week until I set up my Christmas stuff, I finally have my fall decor all set.

Uhhh this last pic is to prove that my house is full of children.

In other things, in a million years you would never guess what singer my four year old is obsessed with.

Er, I guess the title of this post is a pretty massive clue.

YUP. John Denver! We sing "Thank God I'm a country boy" no fewer than 23 times a day.

My boys are pretty lucky that I am willing to make them pancakes every morning. I recently started buying Kodiak Cakes (late to the party!) and we love them. Not only are they super easy to make- just add milk or water- but nutritionally they're a great choice.

Ya see that ingredient list? Love that it's truly whole grain with no added sugar. The carb to protein ratio is great for a breakfast too. Too bad I forgot to actually take a picture of the cooked pancakes. They're light and fluffy and filling. I don't recommend topping with syrup- even 100% maple syrup is nothing but sugar and minimal nutrients. A smear of almond or peanut butter with some sliced apple or banana is awesome. I've also sprinkled frozen blueberries or dark chocolate chips in them too. You could get all seasonal and stir in some canned pumpkin and cinnamon too.

So yes- we have cakes on the griddle but we're lacking in fiddles and farmhand tools. Life IS nothing but a funny, funny riddle.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

We're having some weather up here

Ooooh guess what happened this week?

It snowed, baby!

"Now Annika, get used to this icy cold winter business."

A HUGE perk of now being a stay at home mom is dodging every awful commute that results from the slightest bit of winter weather.

Another perk of being a stay at home mom is of course having (in theory) infinity hours to prep and make dinner. Buuuut somehow I don't have infinity hours. Especially for making lasagna, which is by far one of my favorite foods.

Another problem I have with lasagna, apart from the prep time and bake time, is that I. can't. eat. a. normal. sized. piece. It's SO GOOD that I end up going for seconds. And then I finish one kid's plate. And then the other kid's plate. And I could go on.

I happened to have some leftover egg roll wrappers and decided to try out lasagna cups this week, or at least that's what I'm calling these- lasagna cups! Individual sized "lasagnas" that help you keep the portions in check. They also cook WAY faster than traditional lasagna, and storing leftovers is so easy. Let's check it out, hmm?

Lasagna Cups
-1 lb mild Italian ground sausage
-1 24 oz jar marinara sauce
-1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
-15 oz part skim ricotta cheese
-1 egg
-1 bag frozen spinach, microwaved according to package directions, with excess water squeezed out
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-18 egg roll wrappers
-1 1/2 cups shredded Italian or mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. While oven heats, saute the sausage in a skillet. When cooked, remove from heat and soak up any liquid fat with a paper towel. Stir in half the marinara and the Italian seasoning. Combine ricotta, drained spinach, egg, and garlic powder in a separate bowl.

Spritz a 12-cup muffin pan with canola or olive oil cooking spray. Line each muffin cup with one egg roll wrapper, letting the top edges hang over the top of the pan. Spoon about a heaping tablespoon of meat sauce into each egg roll wrapper. Top with a heaping tablespoon of spinach mixture. Top with shredded cheese, then fold over egg roll wrappers. No need to seal them- they stayed put pretty nicely for me.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until they're nice and golden brown and crisp on top. Serve with reserved marinara sauce for dipping.

These are cute and filling and totally satisfy my taste for lasagna. Each lasagna cup is about 250 calories, so two did the trick for me. Stick any leftovers in a freezer bag for later- just microwave to reheat.

Perfect comfort food for all the snowy days to come!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Oh heyyyy, it's been a busy weekend, but *mostly* good stuff. I say *mostly* because my beloved thrift store- the one where I find gems like vintage Adidas track pants- closed for good. I know people say that if you want the best stuff, you've gotta go to the thrift stores in the expensive suburbs, but ahem, the opposite is true. Gems include finding a Longchamp tote, Burberry kids clothes, and a Gucci purse. RIP, Unique. 

The main event of the weekend was my best friend Shanna's wedding. I'm not going to spill the beans too much with photos, but man alive, no detail went unnoticed and it was a beautiful day!

We opted to take a family walk on Sunday at a local nature preserve.

When little brother tries to follow dad and big brother on the fallen tree and falls off. 

So speaking of autumn, spaghetti squash is one of the staple seasonal items, but I get a lot of questions about what to actually do with it. I personally don't care for the ol' cover it with marinara. I prefer an Alfredo sauce. A chicken Alfredo sauce. A chicken Alfredo sauce with spinach!

Heeeeeere we go!

Chicken Spinach Alfredo Sauce
-3 tablespoons butter
-3 tablespoons olive oil
-1/2 cup flour
-1 8 oz block Neufchatel cream cheese
-5 cups 1% milk
-1/2 cup shredded/grated Parmesan cheese
-2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
-1 teaspoon ground black pepper
-2 cups cooked shredded or diced chicken
-1 bag fresh baby spinach

In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat butter and olive oil. A quick "why" here- obvs butter tastes amazing, but olive oil has heart healthy fats. I split the difference! Once butter is melted, whisk in the flour. Next whisk in the cream cheese. You will be rolling your eyes at this point, doubting that this will EVER become creamy Alfredo. 

Whisk in 1 cup of the milk, letting it fully incorporate into the flour/cheese blob. Whisk in the remaining milk. Stir continuously until the milk begins to bubble up and boil. Boil for one minute, then turn heat to low. Sauce will be thicker at this point. Stir in Parmesan, Italian seasoning, pepper, chicken, and spinach. 

How easy, right? Makes six generous servings. Per serving: 400 calories. One cup of cooked spaghetti squash is only 75 calories, so all things considered this is a super hearty meal with an appropriate amount of calories!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

I've *bean* meaning to try this...

The past week has been bringing out alllll the fall feels. With temps in the 60s and bright sun, we've been raking, pumpkin patch-ing (again!), and enjoying the beautiful colors.

I've had these shoes since senior year of college!

Do you spy a little face in the leaves?

Taking the train to visit dad at work. It made their week. 

On the kitchen front I've been craving pumpkin and maple flavors. This tea does not disappoint.

Yeeeeears ago when I had just begun my first dietitian job I made the mistake of bringing black bean brownies to work.

You remember that recipe? You take a box mix of brownies and add pureed black beans- no eggs, no oil.

It did NOT go over very well. For years to come anytime I brought something into share I was met with "there aren't any beans in there, are there?"

Well, the beans have struck again! But this time we're going with chickpeas/garbanzos, which have a nutty flavor that is just maaaaaade to be paired with maple and pecans.

Maple Pecan Coffee Cake
-1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
-1/2 cup water
-3/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg
-1/4 cup vegetable oil
-1 1/4 cup flour
-1 tsp maple extract
-Pinch of salt
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor or blender, combine rinsed chickpeas with 1/2 cup water. Process until smooth. Pour into a mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Blend until mixed. Pour into greased 8x8 or 9x9 square or round pan. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until knife inserted comes out clean. Refrigerate any leftovers. I think this tastes best the next day!

Makes 9 servings. Per serving: 250 calories, 5 grams fiber (!), 6 grams protein

With this cake, truly no one will know that there are beans in it. Hope everyone is enjoying fall as much as we are!