Welcome to #RecipeMakeover Week!

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After a long winter of heavy dishes and sweets, spring is the perfect time to get back to the basics – delicious, whole foods and dishes packed with fruits and veggies that are great for you.

This week, I’ve joined forced with 40+ of my food blogger friends to present #RecipeMakeover. During this week, we’ll all be sharing our favorite better-for-you alternatives. Follow along on any of the blogs below or with the hashtag on social media to find nutritious dishes that are packed with flavor.

I’m going to be concentrating on re-working some of our family favorites using less sugar, healthier preparation methods, and even sneaking in some good stuff to dessert.

A huge THANK YOU to our sponsors, who have made #RecipeMakeover possible! They’ve provided a number of awesome products that you can win by entering our #RecipeMakeover giveaway below.

Just follow the instructions below, and you could win the following prize pack:

  • Butter-flavored coconut oil and digestive blend from our sponsor Barlean’s – Barlean’s butter-flavored coconut oil is an organic, dairy-free alternative that can be used as a 1:1 substitution for butter. Their digestive blend is an organic, vegan combination of flaxseed, chai seed, quinoa, unsweetened shredded coconut, and a proprietary pumpkin blend, that is delicious sprinkled into salads, smoothies, oatmeal, and more.
  • Sampler pack of original, mesquite, and applewood Smokin O’s from our sponsor Smokin O’s – Instead of frying, choose a healthier cooking option like grilling! Smokin O’s is an innovative new product that allows you to add a natural wood taste even if you are using a propane grill, and they work great in charcoal grills and smokers too. No soaking, no mess, no wait – just delicious wood flavoring from a 100% natural product with no binders or chemicals.
  • 4 flatbread pizzas from our sponsor American Flatbread – Choose from any of America Flatbread’s 15 all-natural, handmade pizza varieties, available at your local grocery store. These pizzas feature 100% organically grown wheat crusts and are topped with fresh herbs, vegetables, and cheeses (no rBST growth hormone!). They’re all-natural, with no preservatives, artificial colors or flavors, and handcrafted from scratch and par-baked in wood-fired ovens.
  • 5 containers (48 oz) of ice cream from our sponsor Turkey Hill – Ice cream for a health food event? Try out their line of no-sugar-added products for a sweet treat without the guilt or their line of light ice creams, which have a rich taste with a fraction of the fat. They also have a rainbow sherbet option, which is Vitamin C and naturally low in fat. These all make great dessert options for special occasions. Turkey Hill also believes in implementing green initiatives to cut down on waste, reduce packaging, and minimize outputs into the environment.
  • 15 tuna creations pouches from our sponsor StarKist – StarKist tuna pouches all have at least 13 grams of protein, and their BOLD line now includes three gluten-free varieties: Tuna Creations® BOLD Thai Chili Style; Tuna Creations® BOLD Jalapeño; and Tuna Creations® BOLD Hot Buffalo Style.
  • Mueller Spiral-Ultra 4-Blade Spiralizer from blog hosts, The PinterTest Kitchen – this 4-in-1 gadget allows you to spiralize your favorite veggies, and it also has extra attachments for a juicer, mandolin and grater.

This prize pack is valued at over $200, and one lucky winner will get it all! This giveaway is open world-wide except where prohibited. A winner will be randomly drawn on April 29, at the conclusion of #RecipeMakeover, and the winner will be contact via email.

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Thank you to all of our participating bloggers. Click the links below to find out what recipes they’re cooking up for #RecipeMakeover:

The PinterTest KitchenFix Me a Little LunchRosie Discoverscrave the goodZesty South Indian KitchenThat RecipeThe Domestic DietitianAuthentically CandaceEat, Drink, Be Healthy!Body RebootedCindy’s Recipes and WritingsFaith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered AccompliceFeeding BigNatural ContentsSeduction In The KitchenEveryday EileenFamily Around The TableFairyburgerJane’s Adventures in DinnerKitchen Counter ChroniclesKate’s Recipe BoxKelly Lynns Sweets and TreatsChocolate SlopesLittle House Big AlaskaMakes, Bakes and Decor2 Cookin’ MamasMeadoe Out on a LimbStrawberry Blondie KitchenMel ClaireCookaholic WifeFor the Love of FoodThe Saucy SouthernerCook’s HideoutTwo Lazy GourmetsInk and SugarCookingwithsapanaThe Chef Next DoorSarah Cooks the BooksChef Sarah ElizabethFrankly EntertainingPalatable PastimeOur Good LifeThe Food Hunter’s Guide to CuisineA Day in the Life on the Farm

Stay tuned to see all of the delicious recipes bloggers create during #RecipeMakeover!

Chocolate Bunny Brownies #ChocolateBunnyPledge

Are you working on filling Easter baskets this week? We are. I’m so looking forward to stocking up on jellybeans, marshmallow chicks, and chocolate bunnies for my crew. You know what won’t be in our Easter baskets? Any live animals.

Each year after Easter, animal shelters and rescue groups get countless requests to take in baby chicks, ducks, and bunnies that were gifted in Easter baskets. It might seem like an adorable idea, but those animals aren’t toys – they’re a lot of work.

The Bunny Hutch is one of these groups and this year they’re asking people to take the #ChocolateBunnyPledge. Will you commit to making your Easter basket fillers candy instead of live animals? Sign the pledge here.

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And if you’re looking for the easiest Easter dessert ever – featuring a chocolate bunny! – look no further. This is a standard brownie mix (or your favorite brownie recipe – I love this one.) Take it out of the oven during the last two minutes of baking and press a chocolate bunny and some Cadbury mini eggs into the brownies. Return to the oven for 2 more minutes to let everything meld together. Voila! Easy Chocolate Bunny Brownies.

Review: Cave Tools Jalapeno Grill Rack & Pepper Corer

Disclosure: I received these products free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

We’re just getting into grilling season here, so when Cave Tools asked if I wanted to review their Jalapeno Grill Rack & Pepper Corer I jumped at the chance. We love making dinner on the grill now that the evenings are warmer (and it’s light out!) and I love products that make grilled dishes easy – this is one of them.

Because we have a toddler who insists on trying everything we’re eating, I decided to try the rack out by making stuffed mini peppers (check back for the recipe tomorrow!).

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The set comes with a corer tool to make prep easy. I sliced off the top of the peppers and then used the tool to clean them out and was impressed with how quickly and effectively it worked. My husband even commented on how fast it was!

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I stuck the peppers in the rack as I filled them. The one thing you do have to be mindful of is that you pick peppers that won’t fall through the holes – or tweak as you go. I added two smaller peppers together in some spots. A little foil would have worked, too.

The rack itself is super sturdy – the legs snap into place so it won’t collapse unless you want it to. This made it easy to transport the rack from the kitchen to the grill.

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I loved that the rack kept the peppers away from heat enough that they could cook without burning (brown spots = poison to a toddler) and we didn’t have to deal with any cheese spillage as the mixture got melty. Cleanup was also a breeze – the rack goes right in the dish washer.

I really loved this rack and can’t wait to try out some of the other things they suggest (like chicken legs!) this summer.

If you want your own jalapeno grill rack, they can be purchased from the Cave Tools website – use code ROASTPEPPER15 to take 15% off. They can also be purchased via Amazon. Cave Tools also has a lot of other fun grilling accessories, I recommend checking them out while you’re browsing!

12 More Meatless Meal Ideas for Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday – the start of Lent – which means I’m kicking off my annual Meatless Meals for Lenten Fridays series. As usual, you’ll find a great meatless meal here every Friday until Easter!

To kick things off, I’m sharing a dozen ideas below. You can also check out my previous roundups – 16 Meatless Dinner Ideas for Lent, 16 More Meatless Dinner Ideas for Lent and 9 More Meatless Meal Ideas for Lent.

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Mashed Potato Waffles

Honey Lime Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos

Guinness Pizza Dough

Jerk Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers

Buffalo Chickpea Burgers

Kung Pao Chickpeas

5 Minute Pad Thai Fakeout

Chili Cornbread Waffles

Chickpea Puttanesca

Hatch Chili Mac ‘n Cheese

Caramelized Onion Tart

General Tso’s Cauliflower

(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.

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.

UncommonGoods – Holiday Shopping For Good

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post but the opinions expressed are my own.

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This sign hangs in our house always. It’s a constant reminder of our family values and what we’re striving to be. We’ve always held this in our words and actions, but lately we’ve been working harder at doing this with our money, too, and trying to shop with companies that honor the same values. UncommonGoods is one of these companies.

I’ve been a fan of UncommonGoods for years – they’re stocked with quirky gifts for all kinds of people. Browsing their site is seriously like a rabbit hole for me – one I get started time just slips away. But, they’re so much more than off-beat gifts. They are a company that does good. Their lowest-paid workers start at 50% above the minimum wage. About a third of their products include recycled elements. With every purchase, they will donate $1 to the charity partner of your choice. On every front, they’re doing good. So good, in fact, that they are a certified B Corporation – meaning they’re using the power of their business to solve social and environmental problems. I’ll definitely be shopping with them this year, so I wanted to share a few gift ideas for the holidays.

To Stuff Your Stocking

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I feel like I’m always scrambling to find stocking stuffers at the last minute but UncommonGoods has so many fun ideas for things to stuff your stocking with. Trying to promote kindness in your home? They have an adorable, interactive kit for that. Want to get people to put down their phones and talk at the dinner table? They’ve got plenty of conversation starters to choose from. Constantly undecided about what to make for dinner? Toss the dice and get creative!

For the Hard-to-Buy-For Guy

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If you have a husband who has everything and wants nothing (like mine!) UncommonGoods will surely have something he didn’t realize he needed in his life. For the musically inclined, I’m obsessed with this punch that makes your own guitar picks. Travelers would love this organizer for trip mementos. Baseball fans would flip for cuff links made from their favorite stadium’s seats. They even have display boards that turn your beer bottle caps into art!

For the Foodie (aka, my wishlist!)

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Of course, I’m always drawn to the kitchen items. The sentimental fool in my loves their take on the family cookbook. They also have the cutest measuring spoons I’ve ever seen. This table runner would be so much fun for dinner parties with kids. This produce keeper is beautiful and super functional. And I can’t help but covet the amazing wine glasses they have, especially the ones designed to play a musical scale.

See? Super fun stuff. I’m betting if you clicked on any of those links, you’ve found something you loved. And while there are so, so many things I love, what I love most is that when I buy them, I’m supporting a good company.

Lunch for Busy Days #MealPrepMadness

Lunch has become the most difficult meal of the day for me. Jake needs to eat at 11:30 or we start running into hangry, I-need-a-nap territory. And if we have anything going on in the morning, it’s hard to be home and get it on the table before the meltdowns start. Add in a newborn who wants to be fed/changed/cuddled and I was ready to rip my hair out – not to mention the fact that I’d end up just eating whatever I could shove in my face fastest. So not ideal.

I ended up buying these containers on Amazon and they’ve become our “lunch boxes”. They don’t snap tight, but since we’re usually eating lunch at home and  don’t transport them, that’s fine for us.

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I fill them up with whatever leftovers we need to use up first. This week it was some broccoli salad, chopped salad and breadsticks. Then, I fill in with other stuff. Jake’s lunches (bottom row) are often deconstructed – bread with rolled-up cold cuts is a favorite. I’ve been sticking with sandwiches or salads.

It’s working out well. When they’re pre-made, it’s easy to pop one out of the refrigerator for Jake as soon as we walk in the door and it’s been keeping me from grabbing junk food to fill me up instead of making myself a meal. A win all around!

Our Toddler Snack Bin #MealPrepMadness

One of the things I struggled with right after Julie was born was snack time for Jake. It seemed like every time I sat down to nurse her, he’d start begging for a snack. And, oh, the meltdown if I grabbed the wrong snack!

My solution was to make him his own snack bin. I filled it with pre-portioned snacks I was okay with him helping himself to.

Here’s what’s in the snack basket this week:

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The snacks in plastic bags are ones we buy in bulk. It takes me just a few minutes to grab a handful and add them to the bags – and is way easier than trying to get Jake not to eat an entire 1 lb. bag of yogurt raisins.

Here’s what everything looks like in the basket:

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The basket lives on the lowest shelf in our pantry. Jake can open the pantry to get to the snacks on his own, but 90% of the time he still needs help opening the packaging. This is proving to be the best of both worlds – he feels like he’s in control, but he still brings it to be before eating so I can monitor.

How do you handle kid snacks at your house?

Stocking the Freezer Pre-Baby, Take 2 #MealPrepMadness

Two years ago when Jake was born, we stocked the freezer with dinners we could throw together. It worked amazing so we knew we’d do it again – but this time, I had a different approach.

With Jake, we were only feeding ourselves – so I could wait until my husband came home from work if the baby was fussy or I wasn’t feeling it. That just doesn’t fly when you have a toddler that wants to eat at 5 pm on the dot so this time I concentrated on meals that I could pull out of the freezer and pop right into the oven or slow cooker.

It’s worked really well. I’m still finding a chance to make dinner 2-3 nights a week but it’s been so nice to have the freezer stash for nights that are a disaster!

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Here’s what we had in the freezer when Julie was born:

Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole
Oven Fajitas
Cheddar Ranch Chicken Thighs
Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken Thighs
Creamy Chicken Taquitos
Slow Cooker Cranberry Pork Roast
Slow Cooker Hawaiian Hula Pork
Chicken Potstickers
Spinach Prosciutto Lasagna
Taco Stuffed Shells

We also loaded up on bags of veggies and rice that we could throw in the microwave and a few frozen meals from Trader Joes. And, of course, Girl Scout Cookies.