(If You Give a Moose) Blueberry Muffins #FoodBloggerLove

Today we’re celebrating #FoodBloggerLove, which is sort of like blind dating, food blog style. I was assigned a random blogger to get acquainted with and I’m so excited to introduce you to the lovely Chef Sarah Elizabeth today. I think you guys will love her. I know I do!

Sarah is a new mom and – get this – her Henry was born the same day as my Julie! Fun, right? What really hooked me, though, is her monthly blog series – Family Dinner Book Club.

Each month, there’s a featured kids’ book. Sarah posts a meal to go with the book, and then two other bloggers she work with post a craft and discussion questions. As a voracious reader raising two little book worms, I think this is pretty much the best idea ever.

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With her family dinner book club in mind, I gathered up Jake for our own mini book day. We picked If You Give a Moose a Muffin and made – of course – muffins.

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Jake is at a fun age where he’s really into books. He loves discussing the pictures and is starting to make connections between the things he reads in books and the rest of the world. Of course, he was totally smitten by the idea of making muffins like the book.

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I stuck with a simple, one-bowl blueberry muffin – because toddler attention spans can only handle so much! And, to be fair, ours were a tad over-mixed, thanks to my excited assistant – but we all still thought they were delicious!

I’m so excited to follow along with the Family Dinner Book Club and the other cooking adventures Sarah (and Henry!) will have. Aside from her blog, you can also find Chef Sarah Elizabeth on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Want to check out the rest of the #FoodBloggerLove posts? Click the frog below!

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One-Bowl Blueberry Muffins
(from A Sparkle of Genius)
Makes 12

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar + 1 Tbsp.
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3-1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees an line a muffin pan with cupcake papers or spray with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In a 1 cup measuring cup, add the oil, egg and then fill to the 1 cup line with milk. Add vanilla and whisk until well combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir gently until just combined. Fold in blueberries.

Divide batter evenly between muffin wells. Sprinkle tops with a little sugar. Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

Date for Valentine’s Day? I have the perfect one. This cheesecake.

But seriously, if you’re looking for a dessert for the holiday, this is a great option. It’s decadent and special, but easy enough that anyone could pull it off. Want to make it even easier? Swap out the ganache topping for the fruit topping of your choice – I think cherries would be especially marvelous!

TripleChocolateCheesecake

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake
(from OMG Chocolate Desserts)
Serves 16

Crust:
24 Oreos, finely crushed
1/4 cup butter, melted

Cheesecake:
2 lbs. cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
4 eggs at room temperature
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Ganache topping:
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. sugar

Additional chocolate bar to make curls.

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 9″ springform pan.

Combine the finely crushed Oreos and melted butter and press mixture into the bottom of the springform pan. Bake for 8 minutes then cool on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.

Melt 10 oz. of bittersweet chocolate and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Mix in the cocoa powder until well combined. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Add the melted chocolate and mix until combined.

Pour the filling over the top of the cooled crust and smooth out.  Bake for 60-70 minutes, until the center is set and the top looks dry. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, run a thin knife around the pan to loosen the sides of the cheesecake, then refrigerate, uncovered until completely cooled – at least 8 hours.

Once completely cooled, stir together the cream, 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate and sugar together in a medium saucepan. When it is completely melted and smooth, remove to cool. Pour over cheesecake. Top with chocolate curls.

Slow Cooker Cocktail Meatballs

There’s nothing new about cocktail meatballs. I’m sure you’ve had them a million times. But I wanted to share this recipe today because it’s a great, easy option for your Super Bowl party.

This version uses the slow cooker – it’s a mix-it-up-and-forget-it dish that’s always a crowd pleaser.  Use a slow cooker liner for even easier clean up!

CocktailMeatballs

Slow Cooker Cocktail Meatballs
(from Cincy Shopper)
Serves 10-12 as an appetizer

12 oz. chili sauce
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1 1/2 cups grape jelly
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
3 lbs. frozen meatballs

Add all ingredients, except meatballs, to the slow cooker and whisk to combine. Stir in meatballs. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

2017 Soup Swap Party

If you’re looking for a fun winter party idea – host a soup swap! Think, a cookie swap but instead of taking home piles of cookies you’re trying to avoid this time of year, you get to bring home some new, fun lunches and dinners.

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It’s also a super easy party to throw. We have each family bring 5 quarts of soup – 4 frozen, to be swapped, and 1 to heat up for sampling. I set up a grilled cheese bar – bread, cheese, a bunch of toppings and a Panini press – and everyone makes sandwiches and then hangs out in the dining room or kitchen while the soup heats up.

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We’ve done our soup sampling in rounds the last two years, in an effort to keep the soups warmer. We had 8 soups this year, so it was 2 rounds of 4 soups each. After sampling, we vote on best soups. I always get little bags of chocolates for the winners!

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Then, we pick our soups draft-style. Everyone goes home with 4 quarts of different soups. And of course, there’s dessert. Such a fun way to spend a chilly January afternoon!

You can check out my first soup swap party here.

Instant Pot Picadillo

The Instant Pot is still pretty new for me – I haven’t played with it as much as I want to – but I’ve been loving trying so many new things.

This was the first time I’ve used it to sauté, and it worked so well! I love that I can brown up the meat before pressure cooking (or slow cooking, for that matter), without having to dirty another pan. It’s ridiculously convenient.

This was a dish I knew I would love, but I was pleasantly surprised that the two-year-old also devoured it. This is definitely something I’ll be making again!

IPPicadillio

Instant Pot Picadillo
(from Skinnytaste}
Serves 6

1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
1/2 large chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tomato, chopped
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp. cilantro
4 oz. tomato sauce
1 tsp. cumin
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp. sliced green olives

Press the Instant Pot’s sauté button. When heated, brown the ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Add onion, garlic, tomato, salt, pepper and cilantro. Cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Stir in the olives, 2 Tbsp. of olive brine, cumin and bay leaf. Stir in tomato sauce and 3 tbsp. of water until well combined.

Cover and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. Use the quick pressure release.

Cranberry Apple Crisp

Yes, January is almost over. And yes, I’m just now sorting through my Christmas pictures. Apparently this is life with two kids.

To be fair, all of the good family pictures and such were on my phone. I really need to get better at my camera!

I did find this, though. A quick shot of a delicious dessert – so I just had to share. If you’re someone who doesn’t like overly sweet desserts, this is for you. The tart cranberries and apples offset the sugar in this nicely.

I recommend serving it warm with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Heavenly!

CranberryAppleCrisp

Cranberry Apple Crisp
(from The Blonde Cook)
Serves 6-8

For the filling:
3 cups cored, chopped and peeled granny smith apples
2 1/2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. flour

For the crisp:
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 11×7 baking dish with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and flour for the filling. Stir in the cranberries and apples and mix, gently, until evenly combined. Pour into prepared baking dish.

In another bowl, stir together all topping ingredients until well combined. Sprinkle evenly over fruit mixture.

Bake for 50 minutes, until edges are bubbly and fruit is tender.

Slow Cooker Ranch Chex Mix

Just about two weeks until the Super Bowl! Are you having a party? We’re going to one with some of our best friends and I’m super excited about it.

We’ve been chatting about the menu for weeks. Chili, a nacho bar, and pickle dip are all on the short list. This is a contender, too.

I made this up as a Christmas day munchie and it was well received. This is a great make-ahead option and it’s done in the slow cooker, which is awesome. I used a slow cooker bag for this to aide with cleanup (it was a breeze!) but I also kept the mix in the bag while it cooled, instead of spreading it on baking sheets. I just shook the bag/ mixed it around every few minutes until it was fully cooled. Super easy and it worked perfectly!

RanchChexMix

Slow Cooker Ranch Chex Mix
(from Oh Sweet Basil)
Serves 8-10

1/3 cup butter, melted
1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
4 cups corn Chex cereal
3 cups mini pretzels
3 cups oyster crackers
3 cups Cheezit crackers
1 cup dry roasted, lightly salted peanuts

Line your slow cooker with a slow cooker bag or spray with non-stick spray.

Whisk together the butter, ranch mix, Worcestershire, sugar and corn syrup in a small bowl.

Mix remaining ingredients together in the slow cooker. Pour liquid mixture over and stir to coat.

Cover and cook on low for 3 hours, stirring every half hour. When finished, pour the contents onto large baking sheet sand continue stirring as it cools to avoid it lumping together. Store in an airtight container.

Skillet BBQ Chicken Pasta

‘Tis the season for comfort food. I’m not sure if it’s holiday stress or the weather getting colder but I now want all of my food to be warm and cheesy. Which totally does not agree with losing the baby weight. And knowing that I’m going to totally blow any good eating at holiday parties, I’ve been trying to be a little more careful with family dinners.

Luckily, I have some awesome blogger friends to lean on! This lightened-up comfort food dish from Prevention RD‘s cookbook totally hit the spot. This was warm and cheesy and perfect – without the guilt.

SkilletBBQChickenPasta

Skillet BBQ Chicken Pasta
(from Prevention RD’s Everyday Healthy Cooking)
Serves 4-6

1 tsp. olive oil
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 red onion, diced
2 cups water
2 cups chicken broth
12 oz. whole wheat penne
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup mozzarella, shredded
1/3 cup cheddar, shredded

Heat the oil in a large, non-stick skillet until shimmering. Add the chicken and onions and cook until chicken is cooking through. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

In the same skillet, at the water, chicken broth, penne and salt to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer 12-15 minutes, until liquid is mostly absorbed and pasta is tender. Stir in barbecue sauce and Greek yogurt. When well combined, stir in the cheeses and reserved chicken mixture. Cook until heated through. Serve immediately.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Pork Roast

This meal was so easy! Are you sensing a theme around here? If it’s not quick and easy, I pretty much can’t handle it these days. Going forward, let’s just assume everything I post is quick and easy unless I say otherwise.

On top of being easy, this is freezer friendly. I prepped and popped it in the freezer – and then thawed the day before cooking. If you’re someone who likes to prep ahead, this is a fantastic option.

CranberryOnionPorkRoast

Slow Cooker Cranberry Onion Pork Roast
(adapted from New Leaf Wellness)
Serves 4

2 lbs. pork loin
15 oz. can whole cranberry sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup dried minced onion

Place pork in the slow cooker. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over pork. Cook on low for 6 hours.

Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Honey Butter

I love sweet potatoes. And I love that making them in the IP is so damn quick.

This is a great, basic method for cooking them. I served them mashed with cinnamon honey butter (yum!) but if you were baking them to top with pulled pork or cooking them to use for another recipe, this is the way to go!

IPSweetPotatoes

Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Honey Butter
(method from Add a Pinch)
Serves 4

4 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
1 cup water
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. cinnamon

Place a steamer basket in the Instant Pot and add sweet potatoes. Pour 1 cup of water over. Cook on manual for 10 minutes, then let the pressure naturally release for 25 minutes.

While the potatoes cook, mix together the butter, honey and cinnamon.

Serve the potatoes topped with cinnamon honey butter.