Category Archives: Food & Recipes

Living For the Little Moments

When shopping for my family, I’ve been focusing on cutting out highly processed junk food in favor of  healthier, more natural foods.  Mountain High Yoghurt is one of those products that fit the bill.  Mountain High contains no artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, starches, or preservatives.  When I started looking at the labels, I was surprised at some of the additives I saw in many of the “kid-friendly” yogurts on the market.   I’m excited to be serving as a Mountain High Yoghurt Ambassador for the next couple of months and sharing some ideas on ways to incorporate more yoghurt into your diet, tasty recipes and more.

In keeping with their philosophy of simplicity, Mountain High Yoghurt encourages us to take a little time each day to do something that makes you happy.  Sometimes it’s those little moments that make all the difference.

We’re on Spring Break this week and decided to take a little local vacation.  Where else would we go but Disneyland?  I told you I was going to make those passes pay for themselves!  Happy moments aren’t hard to come by at the Happiest Place on Earth, but there was one that stood out in my mind.  My boys don’t always get along, sibling rivalry is alive and well here.  We had promised a treat at the end of the day if they had managed to keep the peace.

By the time we headed for the gates after dark, my daughter was passed out asleep in the stroller.  Her treat would have to wait.  The boys had their eye on the churro cart.  We decided to have them share one, too much sugar close to bedtime has never ended well in our experience.  To our amazement, they traded bite for bite until they reached the end.  I steeled myself for a fight over the last bite, but it never came.  My oldest said “Here buddy, the last bite is for you.”  I think I heard angels singing.

What was your last Mountain High Moment?

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Mountain High Yoghurt. I received a gift card to purchase yogurt, a product kit, and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

It’s National Nutrition Month – Are Mushrooms on Your Menu?

Mushrooom Burger Recipe

Two things are constantly on my mind when it comes to grocery shopping and meal planning: making healthier meals that I can feel good about serving to my family and saving money while doing it.  As our family of five leaves the baby years, we suddenly have three growing kids with healthy appetites and my grocery bill has been growing right along with them.  Over the past year, I’ve been cutting down on processed foods and turning more and more to fresh ingredients, organic whenever possible.  Meat is expensive to begin with and when you’re looking at organic meats you’re in for some major sticker shock.  This has led me to seek out more meatless recipes and make substitutions for meat in some of our favorite recipes.  Mushrooms are a great choice when you want to swap out the meat in a recipe as they have a very similar texture.

New Mushroom Council Logo

In celebration of National Nutrition Month, The Mushroom Council (a group of U.S. mushroom growers) is encouraging consumers to “get your plate in shape” with mushrooms.

Increasing the intake of lower calorie foods, specifically mushrooms, in place of those higher in calories, like ground beef, can be an effective method for reducing calories and fat while still feeling full and satisfied after a meal. This approach of replacing some ground beef, turkey or other meat with mushrooms is known as “swapability.” It works because mushrooms’ hearty texture and rich flavor allow them to blend seamlessly with meats. The mushroom and meat “swapability” technique is an economical way to make family meals more nutritious and works great in family favorites like lasagna, burgers, tacos or chili.

Modifying your favorite recipes to replace a portion of the ground meat with mushrooms is simple with this three-step “swapability strategy”:

  • Chop up the mushroom variety of your choice to match the consistency of the ground beef or poultry
  • Season and cook the mushrooms just as you do the meat
  • Combine the cooked meat and mushrooms and use the mix to complete your recipe

If the savings don’t convince you to give mushrooms a place in your shopping cart, perhaps the health benefits will.  Mushrooms are low in calories and fat free, with a flavorful umami content that allows you to cut down the use of salt in a dish without compromising the flavor.  Mushrooms are also a good source of vitamins B & D as well as antioxidants to help you maintain a healthy immune system.

Here’s a recipe to get you started, make the Mushroom Burger Wraps pictured above.

Mushroom Burger Wraps (Makes 4 Servings)

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces white button mushrooms
  • 6 ounces cremini mushrooms
  • 2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 8 ounces 93% lean ground beef
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2  teaspoons dried basil or 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 4 2-ounce whole-wheat tortillas
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Chop mushrooms into ¼-inch pieces.  Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 2 teaspoons canola oil.  Place mushrooms in pan and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes.  Drain. Return mushrooms to pan and season with freshly ground black pepper.

2. In a large bowl, combine the mushrooms, ricotta cheese, ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, and basil. Form mixture into 4 burgers.

3. Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons canola oil. Cook burgers for about 5 to 7 minutes on each side, or until done. (Or grill burgers.) Serve in tortilla.

Serving Tip: These are delicious with caramelized onions, fresh tomato and cheddar cheese.

Find this and lots of other mushroom recipes at mushroominfo.com.

You can join the National Mushroom Council in celebrating National Nutrition Month by attending their Twitter party on Monday March 12 at 8:00 PM EST.  The event hashtag is #mushrooms and there will be prizes to giveaway so you won’t want to miss it.  You can RSVP here.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Global Influence on behalf of the National Mushroom Council and I was compensated for my participation.  All opinions are my own.

Pinsanity! Apple Pie with Cinnamon Roll Crust

 

Cinnamon Roll Pie Crust

Cinnamon Roll Pie Crust from Taste For Adventure via Pinterest

Making pies is something I enjoy doing, but don’t do terribly often. While browsing Pinterest I came across this interesting pin for a cinnamon roll pie crust. It made me wonder – would the added cinnamon make a real difference in the final pie?  It looks great, but is it worth the time? The original recipe was for a one-crust pie, but would it work for a two-crust fruit pie as well? Those questions were all the motivation I needed to get into the kitchen and try it out with a favorite go-to apple pie recipe of mine.

For the apple filling:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 8 Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • Nutmeg to taste

For the crust:

  • 2 store-bought refrigerated pie crusts (if you’d like to make your own, even better)
  • 1 teaspoon butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon

I like this recipe because it is so easy and I already had most of the ingredients.

To start, unroll your pie crust, brush with the melted butter and then sprinkle on your cinnamon. After that, just roll it up!

Cut the dough into 1/2 inch segments. They look like cute little cinnamon rolls!

I started pressing the little rolls in the middle of the pie pan and radiated outward. I ran out of little rolls and it was difficult to cover the sides of the plate. I pressed the dough thin, added some from the second pie crust and was able to make it work. Since I was doing a two-crust pie, I did not flash bake the crust.

With the crust completed, I peeled, cored and sliced up my granny smiths. I love the contrast between tart and sweet! A touch of lemon keeps the apples from browning. My lemon looks a little stunted because I picked it off the tree in the dark.

After the apples are prepared, start on the "sauce" by melting the butter in a saucepan.

When the butter is melted, add in your sugars and water and heat until all the ingredients are integrated and create a smooth caramel-colored liquid. Remove from heat.

After your caramel mixture is made, spice up your apples with cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg. You can adjust your spices according to your preference. I also add a touch of flour to help thicken the sauce (but most of the time my pies bubble over anyway).

Add the warm sauce to your spiced apples and stir to combine. Try not to eat all the apples at this point, because they are mighty tasty.

Pour the apples into your prepared crust and begin work on the lattice crust!

Since I had a little trouble bringing the cinnamon roll crust up the sides of the pan, it was a challenge attaching the lattice to the crust edge. It took some effort and it wasn't pretty but it eventually worked. Pop the pie into a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, then reduce to 350 and bake one hour.

Here's the final product. The pie bubbled over, as usual, but it still tasted great despite its appearance.

 

So, what was the final result? Speaking honestly, I think in a one-crust pie that does not already contain cinnamon in it (like the Sweet Potato Pie in the original blog post) would be best suited for a cinnamon roll pie crust. In the case of an apple pie that already is spiced, I really didn’t think it added anything to the recipe. Perhaps if  I could have cut my pie into slices in a way that would have shown off the pretty pattern of the crust it would have been worth the effort, but I was unable to do so. I do have to say, I normally have difficulty getting my crust to bake up well – sometimes the pies are so juicy the crust suffers. Not so with this crust. It baked up perfectly! I think if I want to add some cinnamon to a crust again, I would brush the dough with butter, add the cinnamon, and then add the apples on top and forego the rest.

I have to thank Stephanie at Taste For Adventure for inspiring me to try and adapt her recipe to my tried-and-true apple pie. Do you enjoy baking apple pies? If so, please tell me how to keep them from bubbling over!

Just For U – New Personalized Savings Program from Vons

Vons Blogger Event

Chances are you have a few store loyalty or “club” cards hanging around your wallet.  They are a necessity if you want to get the best prices when you shop for groceries.  Until now, using your card simply enabled you to get the sale price on your purchases.  The tracking of purchases on your card helped the store learn about your shopping habits, but it didn’t do anything for you.  Vons has launched a new savings program that will make that purchase history work in your favor.  I recently had the opportunity to spend a day at Vons headquarters, joining some other So. Cal bloggers to learn all about the new Just For U program.  We spent the morning getting the scoop on the program, then headed to a local store to try it out for ourselves.  I’m excited to share the details of the program and help you take advantage of some extra savings on your grocery bill.

Vons Just For U Signup

Signing up for Just For U is easy, simply go to Vons.com and click the “Register Now” button.  It takes just a minute or two, you can use either your Vons Club card number or phone number for registration.  Just for signing up you’ll score your first big savings – a FREE dozen eggs!

Once you are signed up and logged in, you’ll see that there are three different ways to save with Just For U.

Just For U Coupon Center

  • Coupon Center – In the Coupon Center you’ll find digital store and manufacturer coupons that you can add to your Vons Club card.  You can browse through all pages of coupons or sort them by category. Some coupons are valid for one time use, others are unlimited until the end date of the promotion.  You have to love coupons that you don’t have to actually clip and carry with you to the store.

Just For U Personalized Savings

  • Personalized Deals -  The Personalized Deals section is my favorite component of Just For U.  In this area, you’ll find unique offers that draw from your Vons purchase history.
  • Your Club Specials – Vons offers hundreds of Club Specials every week.  In this area of the website, you’ll find the current Club Specials filtered to include just those items you have purchased in the past.  You’ll find the deals that are relevant to you without having to search through pages of items you don’t buy.

Once you’ve added all the savings to your card, you can print out a shopping list to take with you to the store or opt to have it e-mailed to you.  Most store locations now have Wi-Fi, making it easy to access your shopping list via smartphone.  At checkout, simply hand over your Vons Club card or enter your phone number as usual and all of the savings you’ve added to your card will be deducted automatically.

The Personalized Deals and Coupon Center are updated on a regular basis, and the Club Card Specials are updated each week as the new weekly ad comes out.  You can maximize your savings by stacking manufacturer’s coupons with the Personalized Deals and Club Card Specials.  When using both digital and paper coupons, note that you cannot use both on the same item, but whichever coupon will give you the best deal will apply.

My Personal Experience with Just For U

For the record, I had not been doing much of my grocery shopping at Vons in recent history.  We made some changes in our diet a year or so ago, buying more natural and organic products.  At the time that we implemented these changes, it seemed that Vons didn’t have a wide variety of these types or items in stock or the prices were higher than I could find elsewhere.  The weekly ads rarely seemed to include organics.  I was pleased to find upon visiting the store during the VIP Blogger Event that natural and organic products seemed plentiful and prices were competitive.  I knew immediately that I would be doing more of my shopping at Vons in the future.  Due to my limited Vons Club purchase history, my Personalized Savings are a little thin and generic at the moment.  As I continue to shop more at Vons, I look forward to seeing more deals tailored to me. So far I’ve made three shopping trips with Just For U and I’ve been pleased with the savings.  Using the website makes it easy to plan my trip and helps me get organized.

Have you signed up for Just For U?  How are you liking the program?

Disclosure:  I was invited to a VIP Blogger Event for the purposes of learning about Vons Just For U program.  As a thank you for attending, I received samples of house brand products and a Vons gift card.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

Pinsanity! Shredded Chicken Enchiladas

shredded-chicken-enchiladas

Shredded Chicken Enchiladas from A Sweet Pea Chef (http://www.asweetpeachef.com)

Earlier this week I needed an easy recipe to use up some leftover rotisserie chicken I had in the fridge. So, it’s Pinterest to the rescue! I looked over the boards and found this super easy Shredded Chicken Enchiladas recipe from Lacey at A Sweet Pea Chef and decided to adapt it  for our Pinsanity! series. Here are the ingredients I used:

1 can (1 1/2 cups) enchilada sauce
kosher salt
ground black pepper
2  cups shredded rotisserie chicken
2 cups shredded colby cheese, divided
 12 6-inch corn tortillas
cooking spray

Ready to try the recipe? Here we go!

Since my chicken was already cooked I just shredded it up, seasoned it, and warmed up the sauce separately.

I measured out 3/4 cup of the sauce and then…

I added the sauce, chicken and one cup of cheese into a bowl and stirred to combine. After warming up the tortillas until they were soft and pliable, I placed heaping spoonfuls of the mixture on them and rolled ‘em up.

After brushing with oil, the enchiladas went into a 425 degree oven for about eight minutes to crisp up. Any longer would have started to burn the edges. It was at this point I turned the oven down to 400 degrees for the next step.

After browning, I poured the remaining sauce over the top, sprinkled with the remaining cheese, covered with foil and popped it back in the oven for about 20 minutes. When the timer buzzed, I took the foil off and put it back in for about another ten minutes to melt the cheese to gooey goodness.

Here’s my final product. I sure wish I knew how to take better pictures because they tasted better than they look!

What’s the verdict? I liked them and so did my husband. When he tried the enchiladas he said they were good and that he’d eat them again – a thumbs up. I thought they were tasty and easy to make, especially because I had the chicken ready to go. We’re a mild kind of crowd, but it’s easy to vary the spiciness of the dish according to your taste just by adding some chilies or by using a spicier sauce in the first place. My husband really isn’t a huge fan of frozen dinners, so to be able to whip something homemade up really pleases him. Being able to serve a dinner without slaving away at a stove all day pleases me.

Thanks again to Lacey at A Sweet Pea Chef http://www.asweetpeachef.com for inspiring me to try this recipe!