Posted in Meal prep, Recipes, Vegetarian, Write 31 2018

Greek Pasta Salad (Meal Prep) – Day 3 of 31

Original: 10/3/18
Edited: 12/26/22

Vegetarian
Gluten-free if using gluten-free pasta
Easy
Meal Plan

In August, I finally met some family members I had never met before. They live on the west coast, Oregon, and don’t get to Ohio very often.

My mom’s first cousin, their mother, lives in the Phoenix area. She comes into town more often than her children. She was planning to visit the family and decided her children should also come to Ohio.

Since they came into town, one of my mom’s first cousins decided we needed a family get-together with a potluck dinner.

My aunt flew into town from New York. That was an adventure in itself. (Needless to say, her maybe 4-hour trip took almost 12 hours because of plane delays and missed connections).

Any-who, on the same day as the family, get together, our church had its annual picnic. I needed to make something that could be served at the picnic and the get-together. That’s when I decided to make this Greek pasta salad. It’s quick and easy to put together.

This recipe can either be prepped for the week or eaten as a side dish. If you decide to prep it for the week, add the dressing before you eat the pasta salad, so it does not get soggy.

The dressing I used for this recipe was the Greek Feta cheese dressing from Trader Joe’s. However, you can use whatever Greek dressing you desire.


What you’ll need:

  • Box of farfalle pasta (bow tie pasta) – You can use any shape,o like penne, but I just like the shape of the bow ties.
  • Jar of artichokes
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Bell Pepper (orange, red, or yellow)
  • Feta Cheese
  • Sundried Tomatoes
  • Greek dressing

Happy vegetarian eating,
Traci

Posted in Almond milk, Apples, breakfast, Drinks, Ingredients, Recipes, Smoothie, Snacks, Spinach

Apple Jack Smoothie (GF, DF, Paleo)

Original date: 5/4/13
Edited: 12/22/22

Quick
Gluten-Free
Meal Planning

Smoothies are quick and delicious. They can be healthy depending on the ingredients in the smoothie.

This smoothie reminds you of Apple Jack cereal without all the sugar.

Apple Jack Smoothie

Happy Herbivore

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Stars of the recipe:

  • 1 c. Unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 c. Banana, frozen
  • 1 c. Fresh spinach
  • 1/2 Apple, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 date (for sweetness – I left it out of mine, and it was okay.)

Steps:

  1. Place in blender.
  2. Blend it until smooth.
  3. Drink and enjoy!

Printable Recipe

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Posted in Meal prep, Recipes, Vegetarian, Write 31 2018

Fruit on the Bottom Yogurt (Meal Prep) – Day 2 of 31

Original: 10/2/18
Edited 12/23/2022

Vegetarian
Gluten-Free
Quick
Easy
Meal planning

When you buy Greek yogurt with fruit on the bottom, the price ranges from around $0.70 at Aldi’s to almost $2.00.

It’s easy to make your own. Making your own is also economical. Especially with the way the economy is going currently.

I purchase my frozen fruit and Greek yogurt at Aldi’s for 5 to 10 dollars. You can make about 6 to 7 fruit on the bottom yogurt cups.

My favorite is the berry blend. I top my yogurt cups with granola when I’m ready to eat the yogurt.

What you need:

  • 16 oz. frozen fruit
  • maple syrup
  • cornstarch
  • water
  • Greek yogurt, regular yogurt, nondairy yogurt (flavored or unflavored)
  • granola
  • Mason jars or small lidded container
  • honey

Fruit Compote

Stars of the Recipe:

  • 16-ounce bag of frozen fruit, do not thaw
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch

Steps:

  1. Place fruit in a saucepan.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the saucepan. Stir.
  3. Cook on medium-high heat for 5 to 10 minutes or until the sauce is thickened.
  4. Remove from the heat. Allow the compote to cool.

Fruit Compote

Stars of the Recipe:

  • Large container of Greek yogurt
  • 8-oz. Mason jar
  • Fruit compote
  • honey

Steps:

  1. Place 2 to 3 Tbsp. of the fruit compote on the bottom of the Mason jar.
  2. Top with a fourth to a half cup of Greek yogurt.
  3. Squeeze about a Tbsp. of honey over the yogurt.
  4. Place the lid on the yogurt.
  5. Enjoy with your favorite granola.

Use the yogurt cups within a week.

Happy vegetarian eating,
Traci

Posted in Recipes

My must gets at Aldi

List your top 5 grocery store items.

Today’s prompt
  1. Hard salami – Sometimes I don’t know what I want for lunch. Hard salami is one of the only lunch meats I enjoy eating. So I get hard salami for days. I want to make a snack plate for my lunch.
  2. Creamer – There are only two kinds of creamer that I usually use, which is French Vanilla and Italian Sweet Cream. I went to Kroger the other day. Their name brand was a whole dollar more than Aldi’s brand.
  3. Coffee pods – I love their French vanilla pods. I get 12 for $4, which is great. I use them at work because I have a Keurig in my classroom. During the fall, they had a maple pecan flavor that was phenomenal. My room always smelled great after I drank the coffee.
  4. Cottage cheese – One of my favorite quick breakfasts is cottage cheese and jam. I get both of those at Aldi. I enjoy eating cottage cheese with blueberries, almond slices, and honey for another breakfast. So good and easy.
  5. Blocks of cheese – When I decide not to use shredded cheese, I shred my own. The blocks of cheese are $2. We shred them, make cheese cubes, and use them for grilled cheese. The two kinds I get are Colby jack and sharp cheddar.

Snack plates –

I have included a list of foods I enjoy in my snack plate.

  • Meat or nut butter
    • Hard salami
    • Peanut butter
    • Cashew butter
    • Chicken
    • Tuna
    • Etc . . .
  • Cheese and/or dip
    • I’m not saying you can’t have both. You do you.
    • Use those block cheeses to make cheese cubes, or get fancy and try goat cheese. Aldi has some great ones.
    • Hummus is a great dip. You can buy it or make your own.
    • Salsa
    • Ranch
    • Etc. . .
  • Pickles and/or olives
  • Veggies
    • Cucumber
    • Carrots
    • Mini bell peppers
    • Tomatoes
    • Etc . . .
  • Crackers/ Chips/ Popcorn
    • I eat a gluten-free diet. My favorite crackers are the Farmhouse Cheddar ones from Simple Mills. They remind me of a Cheez-It. I also like the entertainment crackers from Schar. Those remind me of a Ritz.
    • Tortilla chips
    • Skinny Pop is good popcorn.
    • The corn chips from Aldi are just as good as Fritos. Cheaper too.
  • Some sort of sweet. You need to enjoy your food. I love the Albanese gummy bears and sour bears. They are certified gluten-free. I pack a few of those, and my sweet tooth is satisfied.
Posted in breakfast, DIY, Eat at home ingredient spotlight, Recipes, Snacks

Apple Crisp Granola

Original post: 10/3/12
Edited: 12/21/2022

Vegetarian
Gluten-free (if using gluten-free oatmeal)
Quick

I pretend to be a cereal eater. I buy cereals, most of which go to waste before they are eaten. Since the milk texture in my cereal really bothers me, I eat dry cereal. That can get really boring quick. My husband and sons love cereal with milk. So I’m the odd man out in my family.

However, I enjoy eating granola in Greek yogurt. The pieces of granola don’t get soggy like they do in milk. So making homemade granola can be cost-efficient. Homemade granola can also be adapted to my taste and preference. I also know what exactly is in it, so there are no mystery ingredients. Plus, it’s delicious!

So when this recipe crossed my inbox, my curiosity peaked. So I got the few ingredients I needed to make the granola. I made it on a Sunday morning before church. I took some with me to eat during refreshment, so I wouldn’t eat any of the not-so-good goodies. When I shared some of it with my fellow churchgoers, they were impressed with the taste. As was I.

The granola combines the flavors of fall. Cinnamon and nutmeg tickle your taste buds. Apples scream fall! There are also a few surprises hidden in the granola.

Apple Crisp Granola

Adapted from Rachel Cooks

Stars of the Recipe:

  • 3 c. oats (old-fashioned or quick cooking)
  • 1 c. chopped raw walnuts
  • 1/2 c. shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 4 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 c. chopped dried apples

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or line it with parchment.
  3. In a large bowl, stir the oats, walnuts, coconut, salt, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  4. In a separate microwavable bowl, stir together the canola oil, vanilla, and honey. Heat in microwave for 45 seconds on 50% power.
  5. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients. Stir until everything is well coated.
  6. Spread granola in an even layer over the baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, stir, and then bake for 15 to 20 more minutes, until golden brown.
  8. Let cool completely. Stir in dried apples once the granola has cooled.
  9. Store in an airtight container.
  10. Enjoy!!!!
This post has been linked to Eat at home – Ingredient Spotlight.
Posted in Apples, breakfast, Ingredients, Oatmeal, Recipes, Snacks

Apple Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal or Overnight Oatmeal

Original post: 1/22/2014
Edited: 12/20/2022

Vegetarian
Gluten-free (if using gluten-free oatmeal)
Quick
Meal Planning

In August of 2010, I posted an entry for Instant Oatmeal Mix. As we are experiencing another cold snap, oatmeal is a good way to warm up on a bitterly cold morning.

I was pursuing Yummy Life’s instant oatmeal packets’ blog entry and found some good ideas for different types of instant oatmeal. Instant oatmeal mixes are better than the Quaker or off-brand instant oatmeal packets. You control the ingredients. Plus, it doesn’t have preservatives.

Using some of the ideas from Yummy Life and what I had around the house, I came up with divine apple cinnamon instant oatmeal.

Apple Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal

Stars of the recipe:
  • 2-1/4 c. Instant or Quick Oatmeal
  • 1/3 c. powdered milk
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 2 to 3 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 c. dried apples
  • 1/3 c. chopped nuts (I used cashews.)
  • 2 -3 Tbsp Chia seeds
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. Vanilla powder (optional)
Steps:
  1. Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Store in an airtight container.
  3. When ready to make oatmeal, mix 1/2 c. of the oatmeal with 3/4 c. water. (Make sure the bowl is big enough because the oatmeal expands in the microwave.)
  4. Heat in the microwave for 90 seconds.

Or:

  1. Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Store in an airtight container.
  3. Mix 1/3 c. oatmeal, 1/2 c. water, and 1/4 c. Greek yogurt in a Mason jar or similar jar.
  4. Make sure the lid is on tight, and shake up the mixture.
  5. Place in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  6. Enjoy straight out of the fridge, or allow it to warm up to room temperature before eating!

Printable Recipe

Posted in breakfast, Chocolate, Coconut, Ingredients, Oatmeal, Recipes, Snacks

Almond Joy Granola

Originally published: 12/17/2013
Updated: 12/19/2022

Gluten-free (if using gluten-free certified oats)
Meal planning
Quick

One of my favorite candy bars is Almond Joy.  This is a good thing on Halloween because the boys won’t touch them with a 10-foot pole or if the Imaginative One is being his snarky self, a 9 and 3/4-inch pole.  I get their Almond Joy candy bars on Halloween.  The combination of chocolate and coconut is pure heaven!!  đŸ˜ƒ

My other favorite treat is granola, either plain or with plain Greek yogurt.  So the combination of the taste of Almond Joy candy bars with yogurt is the best flavor, at least it is to me.

Almond Joy Granola

Kiss My Broccoli
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Stars of the recipe:
  • 2 c. quick oats
  • 3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil (I heated mine up in the microwave for a minute.  Then it smelled like paradise.)
  • 1/3 c. honey (Spray down your measuring cup with cooking spray first.)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/3 c. shredded coconut (I used sweetened.)
  • 1/2 c. almonds – 1/2 whole, 1/2 slivers
Steps:
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Combine oats, cocoa powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a smaller mixing bowl, combine the coconut oil after it’s heated up, honey, sugar, and almond extract.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients.  Mix until combined.
  5. Spread in a thin layer on a cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 8 minutes, stir and then bake for another 8 minutes.
  7. Take out of the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.  Then add almonds and coconut.
  8. Store in an air-tight container for 2 weeks.
  9. Enjoy by itself or over yogurt!

Printable Recipe

Posted in Bread and muffins, Recipes

All Star Muffin Mix

Original post: August 1, 2010
Updated post: December 18, 2022 – I edited the post for grammatical errors.

I found an All-Star Muffin Mix recipe in Taste of Home’s Simple and Delicious Magazine. The recipe makes a dry mix that you can store in your freezer or cupboard for up to six months. When you make up the mix, you can either make it without adding anything to it or add different ingredients. When I tried it without adding anything to it, it was delicious because cinnamon and nutmeg are two of my favorite spices. Another time, I tried adding dried cranberries and pecan pieces. The result was pure deliciousness.

Today I will post the basic mix. After I try successful add-ins, I will post the recipes so that you can bake different muffins using one mix.

All-Star Muffin Mix

Stars of the recipe:

  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

Additional stars:

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of melted butter (1 stick) – When I did it, I melted it in the microwave for a minute.

Steps:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients.
  2. Divide the mix into 2 and 3/4 cup portions.

To prepare muffins

  1. Place 2-3/4 cups of muffin mix in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk the egg, milk, and butter; stir into dry ingredients until moistened.
  3. Fill paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full.
  4. Bake at 400° for 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Cool for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.
  6. Serve warm.

You can make a batch of plain muffins and then flash-freeze** them. When ready to eat a muffin, place it on a microwavable plate and warm it up at 40% power for a minute. If it is still not defrosted, continue warming it up at 30-second intervals.

**To flash freeze, put the muffins on a cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer until the muffins are frozen. This usually takes a few hours. Then place the muffins in a labeled gallon-size freezer bag.

  • Store in airtight containers in a cool, dry place or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Yield: 4 batches (11 cups).

Printable Recipe

Variations:

Cranberry-Pecan Muffins

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

This recipe has been posted on Mommy’s Kitchen’s Potluck Sunday.

Posted in Bread, Bread and muffins, breakfast, Recipes, secret recipe club

12-Minute Cranberry Cinnamon Scones – Secret Recipe Club

Original post: May 9, 2016
Updated: December 17, 2022

Vegetarian, Quick, Kid Friendly, Freezer friendly

This is my second time participating in the Secret Recipe Club.  I got moved to Group B when Group D was disbanded.  This month I was assigned to Why I Am Not Skinny.   Maxine is originally from South Africa but is currently living in Brussels.

I looked in her recipe index and found several recipes I wanted to try.  I finally decided on the 12-minute scones.  I waited until yesterday to make the recipe.  Life is currently crazy around here.  Actually, work is a crazy part of my life.  I administered tests during most of April, which sometimes left me exhausted.  Then last week, I attended a field trip all five days to a place called Starbase.  That experience left me absolutely exhausted at the end of the day.  I had decided on two recipes but needed the energy to make one.  Ask Hubby – I have not wanted to cook dinner when I get home at night, which is unusual for me.

Here are the other recipes I was interested in:

  1. Hummus – I almost made this recipe.
  2. Corn Fritters – We have a local sweet corn festival at the beginning of the school year.  One of the vendors sells chicken dinners with corn fritters.  Hubby loves corn fritters.
  3. Easy Fried Rice – This is another recipe Hubby would have enjoyed.  The Wee One might have enjoyed it also since he is like his dad because he loves rice.
  4. Chicken Pot Pie – YUM!
  5. Sweet and Sour Chicken – I know I have a sweet and sour chicken recipe on I’m Hungry.  This recipe is different than my recipe.  Again Hubby would have enjoyed this recipe.

As I said, I settled on the 12-minute scones.  I have several favorite coffee shops.  One of them sells chocolate chunk scones that are a harder consistency.  I love them.  For a while, I’ve wanted to make my own scones but haven’t made them.  The 12-minute scones were a lot softer than the ones I get at Boston Stoker, the coffee shop.  I loved the texture.

Maxine’s recipe did not have any add-ins.  I adapted the recipe to include Craisins and some cinnamon.  Hubby decided to buy a huge bag of Craisins at Sam’s, so I’ve been using them whenever possible.

IMG_0803

Cranberry 12-Minute Scones

adapted from Why I’m Not Skinny

Stars of the Recipe:

  • 2 c. all purpose flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. oil
  • 1 egg
  • Milk (depends on the egg size – I used about 1/2 c.)
  • 1/4 c. dried cranberries

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Add the egg to the 1/4 c. of oil and top with milk until all the liquids equal 1 c.
  3. Beat together.
  4. In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cinnamon.  Stir.
  5. Pour the liquid ingredients on top of the dry ingredients.  Add the dry cranberries.  Stir until just combined.
  6. Drop by spoonfuls into a greased muffin tin.  (You will make 6 scones.)
  7. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.  Carefully remove from the oven.
  8. Enjoy!

For more Secret Recipe Club blog posts, press this button.

Happy Eating,
Traci

Posted in freezer, Recipes

Freezer Cooking for the new school year

There are 3 reasons I need to do bulk freezer cooking sessions for the new school year.

  1. Even though there is an increase in the number of gluten-free freezer meals at the grocery store, it is still limited and expensive. I can make my own freezer meals for a lot cheaper.
  2. I’m changing positions this year, plus going after my master’s degree. I need to have meals ready to go for those busy nights.
  3. Inflation is real. If I can get the food at a cheaper price, I’ll have it in my freezer, ready to go.

The other day I went grocery shopping for the week and to do bulk cooking. I spent $148 for 57 items which I believe is a good price. One of those items was a new colander for $10, so I spent $138 for 56 items. One of the best deals was ground beef for $2.99 a pound. I got 5.5 pounds for $16. The only issue was it was 73% ground beef. I usually like a much higher percentage of ground beef. But during inflation, I’ll take a deal when I can.

I also found ground turkey for $6 for about 3 pounds.

Here is what is on my list:

  • Chicken stew
  • Burrito bowls – I cooked up chicken like I make my tacos. I added drained black beans and corn to the mixture. Instead of using the salsa tomatoes, I used Rotel. I did it on the stove instead of the pressure cooker to cook up some cilantro-lime rice.
    In my souper cube, I layered rice, the mixture, a thin layer of salsa, cilantro, and then some shredded cheese. I froze it overnight. Then I vacuumed sealed each block for an easy freezer meal.
  • Hamburger soup
  • Turkey chili stuffed sweet potatoes.
  • Parmesan chicken meatballs – Already made and in the freezer. I have a meatball mold I bought last year from Aldi. I’ll use half for tomorrow’s dinner. The rest will be saved for another meal. (I used gluten-free oatmeal coarsely ground instead of bread crumbs.)
  • Ham and bean soup

I have also made regular meatballs, chicken fried rice, and nacho meat. The nacho meat was also a sort of a take on my taco meat. I added black beans and corn for bulk. Youngest and I taste-tested the nacho meat. He told me it was delicious.

Over the last few weeks, I also got some steak when it was on sale. I marinated the steak for future dinners.

Happy eating,
Traci