Kids in the Kitchen: Easy Guacamole

For Christmas, my cousin gave Jake his own set of cooking tools – a mixing bowl, measuring cups and spoons, a whisk, an apron… the works. He’s absolutely enthralled with it. We rearranged a cabinet so all of his stuff could be kept where he could reach it and – you guessed it – he’s been begging to help with dinner nearly every night since.

I love cooking with the kids. I really do. But on a Thursday evening when I’m just trying to get something on the table before everyone start melting down, the last thing I want to do is slow down enough for toddler hands – so I’ve been working on giving him his own, supplemental project to help with.

JakeGuac

Like guacamole as I work on the burritos.

This, by far, isn’t the fanciest guac recipe out there, but it’s perfect for a kid to help with (or do mostly themselves – Jake did!)

Kids can:

  • Scoop out and mash the avocado
  • Stir everything together
  • Older kids can measure the lime juice and salt, younger kids can add in pre-measured ingredients

Adults will need to:

  • Cut the avocado and remove the pit
  • Chop the tomato
  • Measure ingredients, if working with a younger child

 
Guacamole

Easy Guacamole
 (from Jake’s Amazing Chef set!)
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

2-3 ripe avocados
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tomato, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
Tortilla chips, for serving

Cut the avocados in half and remove the pits. Scoop the flesh into a bowl and mash.

Stir in the lime juice, tomato, and salt.

Serve with chips.

www.KateRecipeBox.com

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Instant Pot Cheesy Southwest Spinach Dip #FootballFoods

I’ll be honest: I gave up on football months ago. The Giants were awful – and then they pulled the stupid stunt of benching Eli and we stopped even pretending we were going to watch.

But, if you aren’t as pessimistic and are looking for a fun munchie for the Super Bowl, I submit to you this awesome take on spinach dip – made in the Instant Pot! You could totally do this on the stove top, too, but the Instant Pot speeds it up nicely and makes it a little less hands-on – which is awesome if you’re hosting a party.

This dip is creamy and flavorful without being spicy. And you can tell yourself there’s a whole pound of spinach in there to make yourself feel better as you shovel it down. (Remember, we talked about compromise the other day?)

We served this with cubed up pumpernickel bread, but it would be great with other types of bread and veggies too!

Also, I’m linking up with my #FestiveFoodies friends today who are also sharing #FootballFoods – you can check them out here:

SouthwestSpinachDip

Instant Pot Cheesy Southwest Spinach Dip
(adapted from The Cents able Shoppin’)
Makes about 4 cups

1 Tbsp. olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. fresh spinach
3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup half and half
4 oz cream cheese, cubed
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 4-oz. can sliced black olive, not drained
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. chipotle pepper sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Hit the sauté button and add the olive oil. When hot, add the garlic, spinach and tomatoes. Let cook until the spinach is cooked down and then turn off the sauté.

Add the remaining ingredients to the pot, cover, close valve, and set the manual cook time for 4 minutes. When finished, do a quick pressure release. Stir everything until well combined then scoop into a bowl to serve.

Southwest Spinach Dip

Carrot Ginger Muffins #ImprovCookingChallenge

I feel like the entire internet is dieting – especially the food blog world. And I feel like I’m totally playing into it by posting a gluten free/grain free/paleo recipe today – right after another lightened up recipe.  Am I dieting? Not really. But these muffins are in keeping with some resolutions.

Resolution #1 – Use up what’s already in the pantry/fridge.

Resolution # 2 – Make more of an effort to link up with the #ImprovCookingChallenge monthly.

I love this group because it regularly stretches me outside my comfort zone, but it’s something I dropped the ball on again and again in 2017. Here’s to a new year and more consistency!

CarrotGingerMuffins

The theme for January is Ginger and Spice – and I was immediately drawn to these muffins because I already had all the ingredients on hand (yay, resolution #1!) These make a nice grab-and-go breakfast or snack and my kids gobbled them up.

improvchallenge

The #ImprovCookingChallenge is a monthly blogging event where two ingredients are assigned to a month. Bloggers can make any recipe they like as long as it features the two ingredients. If you are a blogger and would like to join us, please visit our Facebook page.
You can also read more about the event on our home page.  If you’d like to see previous creations, check out our Pinterest board.

CarrotGingerMuffins2

Carrot Ginger Muffins
(from Savory Lotus)
Makes 12 muffins

2  cups blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
Pinch of clove
3 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 cup grated carrot
3/4 cup raisins, soaked in water for 15 minutes and drained

Preheat your oven to 350 and line a muffin tin with paper liners.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and clove.

In another bowl, beat together the eggs, maple syrup, and coconut oil. Stir in the ginger, coconut, carrot, and raisins. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined.

Divide between wells of the muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Lighter Chicken Pot Pie #ComfortFood

January. The month when I’m torn between all the comfort food and trying to eat health. (Because, New Year’s resolutions and all that.) This dish is pretty much the ultimate compromise. And right now I’m all about compromise.

I, like 90% of the population, dream big on New Year’s. I’m going to eat better! I’m going to exercise every day! I’m going to be organized! And wash the curtains regularly! And floss! And sleep more! And then mid-January rolls around and I’m like, resolutions? What resolutions?!

This year I’m trying to be more gently with myself. I’ve washed the curtains once, and I’ll put it out of my mind until the summer. I’m definitely not exercising every day, but I am wearing my fitbit to try to be more aware of how much I’m moving (or not). And I’m trying to plan some more healthy meals so when something less than great sneaks on to the menu, I’m not sweating it.

This tastes just like your traditional pot pie, but the secret ingredient is almond milk! The almond milk makes the filling rich and creamy for only a fraction of the calories. It also uses only a top crust, but you won’t miss the usually-soggy bottom crust here. And using a dairy-free pie crust will make the whole thing dairy free! Such a win.

And if you’re looking for more comfort food, I’m linking up with some other bloggers today to bring you some great options.

Enjoy these great #ComfortFood ideas from #FestiveFoodies!

 

TurkeyPotPie

Lighter Chicken Pot Pie
(adapted from Well Plated)
Serves 4

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup flour
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
2 cups cooked, chopped chicken or turkey breast
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen pearl onions
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 prepared pie crust
1 egg, lightly beaten, with 1 Tbsp. water for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 9″ pie dish with nonstick spray.

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Add carrots, celery, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cook 3-4 minutes, until carrots begin to soften.

Sprinkle the flour over and stir in, cook an additional 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the almond milk, scraping up any browned bits from the pan. Bring to a boil and cook 3-5 minutes, until it thickens. Stir in the chicken, peas, onions, and thyme. Spoon the mixture into the pie dish.

Roll the pie dough out so it will cover your dish. Brush the edges of the dish with egg wash, then lay the pie crust over. Gently press the dough into the sides of the dish so it sticks and trim as needed. Cut Egg wash the top of the pie crust. 3-4 slits in the top to vent.

Bake about 25 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Let rest a few minutes before serving.

Lighter Chicken Pot Pie

Awesome At-Home Burgers

Note: Post contains affiliate links.

The beginning of the year always has me a bit reflective. I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about what the new year will bring, and what I want to take into it. One of the things I’m super pumped for this year is the travelling we have planned.

We already have a trip to Austin, Texas booked and ventures to Ocean City, Maryland and Lake George, New York are in the works too. We’re also debating a fall/winter trip and I’m hoping to make it up to Boston too. It should be a great year for travelling!

One of my little traveling traditions is to pick up a cookbook from everywhere we visit. I’ve amassed quite a little collection – and one of my goals for the year is to use them more. I picked up Spike Mehdelsohn’s The Good Stuff after a D.C. trip a few years ago. We had eaten as his restaurant We, The Pizza and loved it. The Good Stuff is pretty much a guidebook to turn your kitchen into a burger joint – never a bad thing!

There’s nothing terribly revolutionary here. No overly fancy ingredients – but the process makes such an awesome burger. Whip up an easy, special sauce, toast your buns, and wrap the burger in wax paper before serving and you’ll never be running for takeout burgers again!

BurgerPress4

Awesome At-Home Burgers
(from The Cook Stuff Cookbook)
Makes 6 Burgers

30 oz. ground sirloin
6 potato buns, cut in half
Canola oil
Salt and pepper
6 slices America cheese
6 leaves iceberg lettuce
6 tomato slices
6 red onion slices
12 pickle slices
Good Stuff Sauce
Wax paper

Make 6 burger patties from the ground sirloin and refrigerate. Prep your toppings and cut 6 sheets of wax paper. to wrap the burgers in.

Heat a large skillet on medium-high with just enough oil to cover the bottom. When the oil starts to smoke, reduce heat to medium and add patties. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, flip, cook for another minute. Add cheese slices to the top, cook for another minute and a half, then cover to melt the cheese.

Toast the buns.

Place each burger patty on a toasted bun and top with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and Good Stuff Sauce. Wrap each burger in wax paper and let rest for 2-3 minutes before serving.

Lighter Chicken Pot Pie

Eggplant and Garlic Pizza

You know those recipes you have pinned forever and when you finally make them you’re like, why did I wait so long?! This was one of those.

My kids love pizza of all kinds – and I loved the idea of the eggplant – so this was a win all around for us. It was gobbled up in record time.

It is, admittedly, a bit more time consuming than the pizzas I normally make, but it was totally worth the extra effort. The eggplant and garlic combo on pizza is amazing. I can’t wait to make this with fresh-from-the-garden eggplant this summer!

EggplantGarlicPizza

Eggplant and Garlic Pizza
(slightly adapted from A Family Feast)
Makes 1 12″ pie

1/2 lb. pizza dough at room temp
1/2 eggplant, thinly sliced
1 tsp. salt + additional for sprinkling
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. pepper
Enough vegetable oil to fill a skillet 1/2″
1/3 cup pizza sauce
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
3 cloves minced garlice
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. oregano
Olive oil, for drizzle

Lay eggplant slices in a single layer and salt liberally. Let sit for 30 minutes, then rinse.

In a shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 tsp. salt, and pepper. Coat each eggplant slice in the flour, shaking off excess.

Heat the vegetable oil in skillet. Fry the eggplant slices for three minutes, flipping once. Remove to a paper towel to drain.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Roll dough out into a 12-14″ circle.

Spread the sauce over the dough and top with 1/2 cup mozzarella. Sprinkle the garlic, basil and oregano over, then lay the eggplant slices on top. Top with remaining cheese. Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for about 7 minutes, until the bottom of the crust is browned.

EggplantGarlicPizza

Best of 2017

I’m such a sucker for New Year’s – looking back, looking ahead.. it’s my favorite. I’m all about the resolutions and the recaps so you’re getting a blog recap of the year. This was, admittedly, not my most prolific blogging year. I’m still learning how to juggle having kids and having hobbies, but I love what went on here this year!

Best of the Blog

Starting off with the top five favorite reader posts of the year, judged by number of views. Some of these were my favorites of the year, too!

WhiteChocolateDippedGingerCookies

White Chocolate Dipped Ginger Cookies were blogged this month, but they’re already a big blog favorite. It’s easy to see why – they’re gorgeous and easy!

IPPicadillio

This was the year everyone went Instant Pot crazy so it’s not surprising Instant Pot Picadillo made the list of most popular dishes for the year. This is one of my personal favorites, so if you’re looking for a recipe to break in that Instant Pot you got for Christmas, I’d recommend it!

TexasChili

Comfort food always gets a lot of hits around here, and Texas Style Chili was no exception. This quick and homey dish is perfect for winter weeknights!

RoastedSugarChocolateCake2

I’m thrilled to see Roasted Sugar Chocolate Cake make the list, because this was, hands down, my favorite dessert of the year. This cake is to die for!

moosemuffin2

I made these Blueberry Muffins as part of #FoodBloggerLove, which introduced me to Chef Sarah Elizabeth and the Family Dinner Book Club – one of my favorite finds of the year. We’ll be doing the Family Dinner Book Club as a family starting in January, so I expect you’ll hear more of it from me!

Now, on to five favorite from me, in no particular order!

TripleChocolateCheesecake

This Triple Chocolate Cheesecake was what dreams are made of. If you’re a chocolate cheesecake fan, you need this in your life.

GreekPizzaDone

Greek Pizza is a quick, kid-friendly dinner that I just love. It’s super easy, easily customizable and vegetarian!

EverythingBagelCasserole

This Everything Bagel Casserole is probably the single best dish I blogged all year. It’s got #brunchgoals written all over it.

ChocolateMarshmallow2

My favorite list reflects what a chocoholic I am, but I had to include these Chocolate Marshmallows. Homemade marshmallows are good, but these are even better. They’ll take your hot cocoa to a whole other level!

GingerChocolateChipCookies

To round out this list, I have to include my new favorite Christmas cookies, Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies. These are so quintessentially Christmas!

What was the best thing you made this year?

Cracker Toffee

What’s everyone up to today? Any crazy holiday prep going on?

Things here are actually pretty mellow. The cookies are all baked. The gifts are all bought and wrapped. It’s almost lunchtime and we’re all still our pajamas. All we have planned really is a liquor store run and a nap. Not bad for the day before Christmas Eve!

If you’re looking for one more treat to make or need a last-minute dessert, this cracker toffee is the way to go. It takes about 20 minutes to make, then you cool it and break it up. It, by design, doesn’t have to look perfect so you don’t need to stress details today and there’s a good chance you already have the ingredients on hand!

I hope you’re all settling in for a lovely holiday with people you love. Merry Christmas from me and the crw!

Cracker Toffee

Cracker Toffee
(from Little Dairy on the Prairie)
Makes 1 sheet pan full

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
Saltine crackers or Matzo
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sprinkles, for decorating

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Line the pan with saltines or matzo so they cover the whole bottom without overlapping. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the butter and brown sugar over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until it reaches a boil, then remove the spoon and let boil for 3 minutes. Pour the hot mixture over the saltines as evenly as possible and transfer the pan to the oven to bake for 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips. Let sit for a few minutes then spread the chocolate evenly over the crackers. Top with sprinkles, if desired, and put the pan in a cool place to set.

Once completely cooled and the chocolate has set, break into pieces and serve.

Cracker toffee

 

Review: Cave Tools Aluminum Burger Press

Disclosure: I received these products complimentary in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Food blogger burger confession: unless I’m making some fancy burger, we typically buy frozen patties. (Gasp!) I know, I know. We’re under no illusions that the frozen burgers you get in the store are just as good as ones you make at home, but for me, burgers are usually a quick meal and trying to deal with getting uniform patties quickly is always a turn off.

And, I’ll fully admit, when I received this Aluminum Burger Press from Cave Tools to review, I thought this would go into my pile of cooking tools for special occasions. I was so, so wrong. I loved it so much that I immediately bought another to give as a Christmas gift!

BurgerPress1

This burger press is awesome. It helps you make uniform patties super quickly – and they include 200 burger papers which help immensely with cleanup.

The idea is easy – put a burger paper down, place your ball of ground meat on top, add another burger paper, and press down.

BurgerPress2

The burger paper largely keeps the raw meat from touching the burger press – which makes it easier to wash! – and then makes it super easy to transfer the patties to a plate to be cooked.

Quick tip to stretch your burger papers: Once you’ve transferred a finished patty to a plate, you can peel off the top paper and use it (raw-meat side up) as the bottom paper for the next burger.

BurgerPress3

We all relished the fresh-made burgers on a weeknight.  My next project is to try freezing my own burgers – with the press and the burger papers, I think it will be a breeze!

And who doesn’t want a quick and easy way to whip up burgers? (I’m not drooling – you’re drooling!)

BurgerPress4

The Aluminum Burger Press can be purchased from the Cave Tools website – use code BURGER15 to take 15% off. They can also be found on Amazon.

Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies #ChristmasCookies

If you like the idea of mint for the holidays, but aren’t a huge peppermint fan, these are the cookies for you.

For me, these are a nod to my Grandma.

For as long as I can remember, my Grandma’s contribution to holiday dessert has been a box of Andes Candies. We’ve all come to expect them and holiday dessert is not quite right without them on the table.

When I ran across this recipe that uses Andes chips, I knew Grandma would love them – and I just had to make them.

ChocolateMintChipCookies

Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies
(from The Diary of a Real Housewife)
Makes 3 dozen

1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 package Andes mint pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet in batches and mix until just combined. Fold in mint pieces.

Roll dough into 1″ balls and place on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Can’t get enough cookies? For #ChristmasCookies Week, I’m linking up with lots of other bloggers sharing awesome recipes. You can find today’s batch of goodies below!