Peanut Butter Granola Bars

I can’t believe we’re already talking back to school, but here we are. I feel like we lost most of our summer to the move (because, we did), so I’m sort of wishing these next few weeks would slow down a bit. We still have a lot on our summer bucket lists that we want to check off!

But, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit excited about back to school. I can’t wait to get everyone back on a routine and have life be somewhat normal again. This move, man. It’s really thrown us off our groove!

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I’m also excited about getting the kids back on some sort of normal eating schedule. What is it about summer that makes them want snacks ALL THE TIME? As soon as I was mixing these up they were both in the kitchen, asking incessantly when they’d be done.

These totally got the kids’ seal of approval. And mine. I know no-bake granola bars are generally more popular, but in my opinion, you just can’t beat the chewiness you get from baked ones. They would make a really rocking lunchbox treat or after school snack.

And if you’re looking for more back-to-school inspiration, I’m linking up with some other bloggers today. From quick breakfasts to specials treats – and everything in between – they’ve got you covered:

 

PeanutButterGranolaBars1

Peanut Butter Granola Bars
(adapted from Just a Taste)
Makes 18

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1 egg
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup. light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Like a 9×13″ pan with parchment and spray with non-stick spray.

With an electric mixer, beat together the peanut butter, honey, egg, oil, and vanilla until smooth.

In another bowl, combine the oats, sugar, and salt. Add the oats to the peanut butter mixture and stir until evenly combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and pat down evenly.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are golden-brown. Set on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.

Cool completely, and then slice into 18 equal pieces.

Fresh Corn Salsa (3)

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Kids in the Kitchen: Banana Blender Muffins

The kids’ nap schedules have been wonky lately, so I’ve been getting some solo time with Julie while big brother naps – which means she’s been getting some kitchen projects of her own. Our favorite has become blender muffins.

BlenderMuffinsJulie

The idea behind blender muffins is that you just dump all the ingredients in to mix, then pour into the muffin pan. It’s super quick and easy and only takes about five minutes – which is about her attention span.

The payoff is a great, healthy snack or an easy breakfast!

Kids can:

  • Peel the banana
  • Help measure ingredients
  • Add ingredients to the blender
  • Help star/stop the blender
  • Help pour the batter into the muffin tin

Adults will need to:

  • Crack the eggs
  • Put the muffins into the oven and take them out

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Blender Banana Muffins
(from Baked in Arizona)
Makes 24 Mini Muffins

1 cup peanut butter
2 medium sized ripe bananas
2 eggs
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. honey
Dash of vanilla, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a mini muffin pan. Set aside.

Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into muffin wells.

Bake 8-9 minutes.

 

www.KateRecipeBox.com (1)

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

One Bite Spaghetti and Meatballs #Tresomega #OrganicsForLife

Disclosure: This post is part of the Tresomega Nutrition Blogger Recipe Challenge. I received complimentary products to use in this post. All opinions are my own.

I have a plan for Christmas this year. Instead of doing the big ham dinner that involves being in the kitchen for hours, we’re just going to make a bunch of appetizers and spend the day hanging out. It sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

This is one of the dishes I’m planning to make. It’s filling enough that it could count as a meal, but it’s also something we can eat while lounging around the Christmas tree. It’s pretty much the prefect holiday bite: spaghetti smothered in a to-die-for alfredo sauce, topped off with a miniature meatball and some homemade tomato sauce. And some more cheese just for good measure. Are you drooling yet?

This recipe features Tresomega Gluten-Free Organic Quinoa Spaghetti. We have a few gluten-free family members so we’ve tried a bunch of gluten-free pastas and I can say that this is hands down the best one I’ve tried. My husband – who grew up in a very Italian family – admitted he wouldn’t have know it was gluten-free pasta if I hadn’t told him. Win!

For more recipe inspiration, you can visit them on Facebook and Twitter. You can purchase Tresomega products at: Tresomega.com. Sams.com, Amazon.com and Walmart.com.

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One Bite Spaghetti and Meatballs
(a Kate’s Recipe Box original)
Makes 3 dozen

1 box Tresomega Gluten-Free Organic Quinoa Spaghetti
1/2 cup butter
2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 oz. cream cheese
5 cloves garlic, minced, divided
1 tsp. garlic power
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, divided
1/4 tsp.  salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
36 small meatballs – homemade or frozen
1 28 oz. can tomato sauce
Parmesan cheese, for topping

Cook the pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, combine the butter, whipping cream and cream cheese in a saucepan over medium heat – stirring frequently until all melted together. Stir in 2 minced garlic cloves, the garlic powder, 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook, whisking frequently, until smooth. Add the parmesan and stir until melted. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3-5 minutes more.

Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a mini-muffin pan with non-stick spray.

Using a fork, twirl up some sauce-coated spaghetti and place in the well of a mini-muffin tin to form a little next of spaghetti. Press down slightly to pack and add more spaghetti if necessary. Repeat until all wells are filled.

Bake for 15 minutes.

While the spaghetti bakes, combine the remaining ingredients, except parmesan cheese, in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.

When the spaghetti is done, let cool in the pan for 10 minutes then use a spoon to scoop out the spaghetti bundles and place on a serving platter. Top each bundle with a meatball, 1-2 tsp. of sauce, and parmesan cheese, to taste.

OneBiteSpaghettiMeatballs2

 

Candied Spiced Nuts #improvcooking

Even though it’s October (and the weather is still feeling like August…), I’m starting to think about Thanksgiving. I know, I know, but I get to host this year and I’m pumped! We’re not sure if we’ll have a big crowd or just the four of us, so I’ve got several menus floating around in my head.

I knew this month’s Improv Challenge theme, Sugar and Spice,  was perfect for trying out some of the recipes I’m considering. Sugar and spice is SO fall – apple spice, pumpkin spice – but I couldn’t get these nuts off my mind, so they won out.

This is such an easy recipe – the slow cooker makes it totally hands off. Just mix, let the slow cooker do it’s thing, then spread them out to cool. They were so good – and a perfect pre-Thanksgiving dinner snack!

CandiedSpicedNuts

Candied Spiced Nuts
(adapted from Crunchy, Creamy, Sweet)
Makes 3 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups almonds
2 cups pecans
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves

Grease the crock of a slow cooker and add the nuts. Add the sugars and cinnamon and stir. Add the water and stir until everything is evenly combined and wet.

Cook on high for 3 hours.

Remove nuts to a parchment-lined baking sheet to cool. Sprinkle with remaining  seasonings. Once fully cooled, store in an airtight container.

You can check out the other Sugar and Spice themed recipes that bloggers made here:

Kids in the Kitchen: Sweet Potato Banana Muffins

Today, I’m kicking off a series of kid-friendly recipes – ones they’ll be able to help make and like to eat. I generally get a lot of questions about how I incorporate Jake into the cooking process. There’s nothing really earth-shattering about my approach: I just let him jump in wherever he can. Yes, it’s sometimes a mess. Yes, we have plenty of over-mixed muffins. But, he’s learning – and that’s important.

These mini muffins are a great place to start if you want to get your kids involved in the kitchen. They’re super simple and come together quickly. These definitely ebb on the healthier side of muffins – if your little one has a big sweet tooth, try mixing in 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips.

Kids can:

  • Mash the sweet potato & banana
  • Help measure ingredients
  • Mix
  • Help spoon the batter into muffin wells

Adults will need to:

  • Crack eggs
  • Put the muffins into the oven and take them out

SweetPotatoBananaMuffins

Sweet Potato Banana Muffins
(from The Lean Green Bean)
Makes 1 dozen mini muffins

1/2 cup cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 cup mashed bananas
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a mini-muffin pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

Mix all ingredients together until well combined. Divide evenly between muffin wells.

Bake for 18 minutes.

 

Grilled Stuffed Mini Peppers

The weather is getting better! The snow piles from the nor’easter are nearly gone and we’ve had a few evenings where it’s not frigid by dinner time – so we’re starting to fire up the grill.

Cave Tools recently sent me a pepper grill rack to try out (you can see my review here) and we finally busted it out to make these delicious little peppers. I think most people automatically think jalapenos stuffed with cheese and bacon for something like this, but I wanted to make something that felt light and fresh – and that was more toddler-friendly.

These were perfect! I can’t wait to make them again once we have lots of fresh herbs in the garden.

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Grilled Stuffed Mini Peppers
(a Kate’s Recipe Box original)
Makes 12

12 rainbow mini peppers
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped dill
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped basil
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped green onions
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. lemon zest

Clean and core the peppers.

In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese, dill, basil, green onions, garlic, and lemon zest until well combined. Stuff peppers with cream cheese mixture.

Using a rack, grill over medium heat until the peppers are softened and the cream cheese puffs slightly. Serve immediately.

Spanakopita Quesadillas

You know what’s tricky about Lenten Fridays with a toddler? Lunch.

He is, in general, really good about eating whatever we’re eating for dinner. I’m one of those mean moms with an “eat it or go hungry” policy. But, lunch is another story. I usually let him pick his own lunch and that means we have a healthy rotation of dinosaur chicken nuggets and cold cuts. So far, Lenten Friday lunches have meant PB&J. For both of us.

I wasn’t sure how this would go over, but I was actually pleasantly surprised. Jake ate half of his quesadilla before declaring he didn’t like it and requesting something else. Half of a spinach-filled, whole wheat wrap? I’ll take it.

And, I loved these so I was happy to steal the rest of his. Serve with tzatziki or sour cream for dipping. We added some olives on the side for a light lunch. If this was dinner, I would have opted for a Greek salad or hummus and veggies to round out the meal!

SpanikopitaQuesadilla

Spanakopita Quesadillas
(from Cooktoria)
Serves 4

1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup diced white onion
1 clove garlic
7 cups baby spinach, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 egg
1/4 cup feta crumbles
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
4 flour tortillas

In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the olive oil. Add in the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add in the garlic and spinach and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until spinach is cooked down a bit. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer mixture to a bowl and pop it in the fridge.

In a bowl, mix together the egg, feta, Parmesan, and dill until thoroughly combined.

When the spinach mixture is cool enough to handle, squeeze out any remaining liquid and add the spinach to the cheese mixture. Combine well.

Divide the mixture evenly between 4 tortillas. Fold each in half and fry over low heat for 6-8 minutes, flipping halfway.

 

 

 

Cauliflower Nachos

A lot of my Lenten Friday dinners are recreated junk food or takeout fakeout. There’s a reason for that. By the time Friday rolls around, that’s really all I want. And I’m assuming I’m not alone in that since pizza is such a popular Lenten dinner.

So, here’s another option if you’re thinking of ordering pizza tonight.

No, you won’t be fooled into thinking the cauliflower is tortilla chips – but this is delicious in it’s own right. And you’ll feel more virtuous downing a whole plate!

CauliflowerNachos

Cauliflower Nachos
(from Delish)
Serves 2

1 large head cauliflower, chopped
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 cup shredded Colby-Jack cheese
Your favorite nacho toppings – we used salsa, black beans, black olives, pickled jalapenos, and sour cream

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a large bowl, toss cauliflower with olive oil. Sprinkle spices evenly over the cauliflower and toss to coat. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast for 35-40 minutes, until golden and crispy.

Top with cheese and any other toppings you want warm and bake for 5 minutes more, until the cheese is melted.

Add remaining toppings and serve.