Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole

Doing the Whole30 sure has been eye-opening. I’m eleven days in and super happy with the changes (non scale victories) and most of all, the food. Especially my favorite meal of the day, breakfast! I’m all about quick wins for the morning, so I spent some time today prepping this sweet potato breakfast casserole to eat throughout the week.

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Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole

Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole

To make this savory (Whole30 Compliant) breakfast (that I’ve also had for lunch and dinner), you’ll need:

  • 8×8 casserole baking pan (this one is great because it has a lid for saving your leftovers) and a cookie sheet (treat yourself to a good set like these), each greased with EVOO spray
  • 2 large sweet potatoes – 1 cut in thin slices and 1 cut in cubes
  • Veggies of choice (recommend onions, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, or spinach)
  • 8 large eggs

Start off by roasting your sweet potato slices in the 8×8 pan (line it with the slices) and your vegetables on the cookie sheet. This happens best in a 425-degree oven for 20 minutes (recommend stirring the veggies at 10 minutes in).

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While the veggies are roasting, whisk the eight eggs together. If you like spicy, mix in some red pepper flakes or garlic.

Once the veggies are roasted, pile them into the casserole dish on top of the sweet potato slices (they’re going to serve as the “base” / what bread normally would do here).

I really could have just ate these veggies…

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Now pour the whisked eggs over the veggies and put the casserole dish back in the oven for another 20 minutes. You’ll want to be sure the egg cooks all the way through.

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You can now cut and store this (I still was enjoying four days in), eating it when you need a quick-win meal.

If you are not doing the Whole30, you might be all like WHERE IS THE CHEESE?!?!? Let me tell you, as a cheese addict, I was skeptical at first. Try it first, the sweet potato gives it something special, something that cheese would cover up. Just trust me.

PRO TIP: If you are doing the Whole30, perhaps you’ll want to pair this with some fruit or top with a compliant hot sauce. Totally recommending both. This is hearty and delicious! Need a compliant hot sauce? Tessamae’s is a choice of many Whole30 vets! Click the photo to get it shipped right to your door from Amazon! 

What is your favorite breakfast casserole? 

Perfect Pudding Pops (a #BacktoSchoolSimple Recipe)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BacktoSchoolSimple #CollectiveBias 

Oh, Back to School. How is it less than a week away? We’ve gone through Kindergarten Orientation, started earlier bedtimes, bought new clothes / shoes, and did our back to school food shop at our local Giant Eagle. Grabbing everything we needed for lunches, snacks, and a special first day of school treat (see the Perfect Pudding Pops, below!) was easy and convenient at Giant Eagle. (Bonus? I got to add some fun, healthy snacks to my lunches, too!) We set out to grab quick win items, and the Bigs had control over what went in the shopping cart. Everything on our list was checked off in one quick and easy stop.

Perfect Pudding Pops

Pudding Pops

I wanted to be sure the kids had a fun first day of school treat, so I asked my chef-in-the-making (Arianna) to look at our list and help me come up with a fun recipe. She wanted to fill Snack Packs with some of the fun Oreo and Goldfish treats we found while at Giant Eagle, and Evan chimed in that we needed some healthy additions, too. We ended up deciding to grab some strawberries to mix in, then put them in the freezer for a cool treat (as the first day of school is of course forecast to be a hot one).

To make our Perfect Pudding Pops, we needed to pull our ingredients together:

  • Snack Pack Pudding cups (we wanted chocolate and vanilla)
  • Goldfish crackers (assorted, we chose Chocolate Mint + Pretzel and s’mores)
  • Mini Oreo Cookies
  • Strawberries
  • Optional, Popsicle Sticks
  • Optional, popsicle molds

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The Bigs were pretty excited about those Goldfish, by the way.

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Putting together the Perfect Pudding Pops was pretty easy, too. We simply:

  1. Open Snack Packs.
  2. (Optional) Spoon into the popsicle makers.
  3. Crumble add-ins.
  4. (Optional, if not using popsicle makers) Add in popsicle stick.
  5. Cover.
  6. Put in freezer for about 6 hours – perfect for during the school day. Pro tip – don’t let these sit for longer than a day – they do get a bit crunchy! 
  7. Push out of the cup or mold and enjoy!

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Yum!

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The Lunch Station

Beyond having a super fun first day of school treat, we wanted to build a station that would help with packing lunches once or twice a week, so the Bigs looked for favorites like Schwebels Bread, JIF Peanut Butter, Smuckers Fruit Spread, Frito Lay snacks, Goldfish Crackers, and Entemanns Little Bites. Of course, we had to be practical and pick up the bags to tuck the goodies in, too!

Back to School Simple

I think we did pretty good, don’t you? What would you have added?

lunch station

The After School Snack Station

To make life easy on Greg, we decided to pick out After School Snacks that stuck with our family theme – a healthy choice and a happy choice. The kids will get to pick one of each from this station in the pantry. No questions asked, except asking when can we go back to Giant Eagle to fill it up! *wink* (Check out gianteagle.com to find your local store.)

after school snack

Personally, I was over the moon with these portion packs because I’ll be using them to get back on track with right sized snacks for me, too! I showed Arianna how to weigh a serving of Goldfish, then we made some portion packs filled with her favorite treat from our shop.

portionsnack

Up Next? The first day of school!

I *think* that we are ready, at least when it comes to food. Thank goodness we have Giant Eagle as our local headquarters for back to school shopping! Check out how others are using Giant Eagle as their one-stop-shop for back to school.

What’s still on YOUR Back to School To Do List? Share below!

 

MOMOSAS

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Back in October, just after I announced I was pregnant, we were sitting in the pool at Disney and my cousins left me with all the kids and hopped over to the bar for a drink. Admittedly, I was a little sad – not because I was left with 6 screaming and splashing kids (one who was repeatedly kicking me in the stomach) plus the two in utereo, but because I would have given anything to have a sweet, fun [non-alcoholic] drink along with them. If only I had taken my copy of MOMOSAS along as a guide to come up with a fun drink I could have asked them to bring me back.

Source: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
Source: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

MOMOSAS (Fun Alcohol-Free Drinks for Expecting Moms), by Paul Knorr, is a book filled with over 130 non-alcoholic drinks for anyone who might be like me and want a fun drink without the alcohol (expecting moms, nursing moms, supportive dads, people in training, people abstaining).

With everything from Punchless Piña Coladas and Virgin Banana Daiquiris, to smoothies, shakes, sparklers, and spritzes, pregnant women can finally enjoy happy hour instead of sitting on the sidelines for 9 months.

I love the names (and tastes) of these drinks. Yeah, many of the names are a bit baby-based, but that is pretty much all I have on my mind these days anyhow. Doesn’t a Pitter-Patter or Smooth Delivery sound good? I mean, I know it’s cold out there in Pittsburgh today, but sometimes kicking back and relaxing with a fun drink can warm up these cold days, right?

You can find these fun recipes in MOMOSAS by picking up the book (published by Sterling Publishing) for a suggested retail value of $12.95 – a nice addition to a “Congrats” card for the newest expecting mama in your life, right? (Here it is on Amazon.) BUT, I’ve been given a copy to give away  and  a recipe to share with you!  (Scroll down for the giveaway – it ends 1/18 at 11:59 PM and there are options to enter daily.)

POOH BEAR

1 Part Lemonade

1 Part Apple Juice

Splash Grenadine

Shake with ice and strain over ice in a tall glass.

Pooh Bear Page 81

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Campfire Quesadillas

When we went camping, I wanted to be sure that I stayed true to my meal plans as best as possible. Sure, I let myself enjoy a s’more and a mountain pie, but I didn’t get out of control. One of the reasons was that I planned a few good meals throughout the weekend, including campfire quesadillas.

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Campfire Quesadillas

(a semi-original recipe by me)

Ingredients

1 soft shell tortilla per quesadilla (Healthy Option: Whole Wheat)
1 can of chicken breast in water
1 tbsp. taco seasoning
1/8 c. cheese per quesadilla
Sliced Peppers and Onions
Foil
Olive Oil cooking spray
Salsa, Sour Cream (for dipping)

Instructions

1. Set out foil squares for each quesadilla. Spray generously with cooking spray.
2. Lay the tortilla on the foil.
3. Mix the taco seasoning into the (drained) can of chicken breast. Scoop the amount you desire onto the shell.
4. Add cheese and veggies if you desire.
5. Fold the foil around the quesadilla. Sit the packet on the grill over the campfire.
6. Turn after 2 minutes. Check for crispiness (and lack of burn) after the second side has been on the fire. Cook to your desired heat/color.
7. Enjoy! I suggest dipping in salsa, others prefer sour cream.

Campfire Quesadillas
What do YOU like to eat when camping?


Tomato Challenge–Are You In? (Free Apron!)

The other day, I got a fun e-mail from Tuttorosso Tomatoes (remember when they sent me yummy tomato products and I shared the goodness with you?). Hopefully you’ll be interested and share this opportunity with your networks.

First, there is a giveaway going on from January 14 (tomorrow) to February 8. The first 1,000 people to ‘like’ their page AND provide an original (no copying!) Italian recipe will be sent a FREE apron. So, tomorrow, submit your entry at https://www.facebook.com/tuttorossotomato and leave me a note here so I can check out your delish dishes.

Second, that recipe entry could win you the following:

  • Highlight on Tuttorosso’s Facebook and website
  • Recipe printed on a future Tuttorosso can
  • Grand prize winner gets a $500 gift card at cooking.com
Sounds fun to me! The rules are:
People can enter any original Italian recipe, be it main dishes, casseroles, soups our appetizers (but needs to be more than tomato sauce, which would not qualify for the apron or contest). Just a few rules on the recipe: It must include a minimum of One Tuttorosso product, original and not copied, must list ingredients in order of use and in standard U.S. measurements, and must include a photo of the finished product (photo of Tuttorosso can is optional).
So, go on out to their page and share away.
Disclaimer: I was sent this information to share with my readers but all opinions (and desire to know your recipes) are 100% my own.

Sunday Night Supper: Help From Tuttorosso

I can’t help but take a moment and share with you part of tonight’s supper (I promise to share more later). It was a basic meal for after a long day, yet one that was delicious and tasty. The Italian in me (which there is none, but some of my favorite dishes are) was quite excited to give Tuttorosso Tomatoes a chance to star in tonight’s supper.

Like I said, the meal was simple. I could have worked hard and went for a delicious recipe like Chicken Enchilada Casserole, but I didn’t have the patience to wait 65 minutes (although, now that I look more at it, I wish I had!). I simply took the following and heated them in a saucepan, then served over pasta:

  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet peppers
  • 2 tablespoons Garlic Garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 6 oz. grilled chicken (I think I’ve mentioned before, I do NOT do fresh/frozen chicken)
  • 29 oz. can of Tuttorosso Tomato Sauce

With a touch of parmesan cheese, this meal was tasty and just the right taste for the evening. Greg gave it a thumbs up. The sauce loved that it was going to mix up with the other ingredients–it even “danced” as I poured it in the pan! 😉 I tested out the sauce before adding it to the mix just to be fair, and I have to say, it was one of the freshest tomato sauces I’ve ever tried. It also went beautifully with the rest of the recipe I pulled together.

Tuttorosso Tomatoes

I was sent three different Tuttorosso Tomatoes products to try, and have great ways to use all three in my kitchen.

  • Tomato Sauce (which I used tonight)
  • Peeled Plum Shaped Tomatoes in tomato juice (which I think will be great on Tomato and Artichoke Focaccia ranked “2 out of 3 tomatoes in difficulty)
  • Crushed Tomatoes with Basil (perfect for mixing with onions and peppers for making a salsa for an upcoming party)

Beyond the fact that these canned tomatoes are tasty (just like they are fresh from the garden without the work!), Tuttorosso (a division of Red Gold) has lots of ways you can connect with them. Their website http://www.tuttorossotomatoes.com has plenty of recipes (easily searchable by the product you purchased or category (like my favorite, 30 Minute Meals). Plus, there is the Tomato Blog featuring recipes and cooking advice. For those of you who like to connect with companies on Social Media, you can “Like” them on Facebook (and enter to win each of their daily giveaways between now and December 22–must enter each day!).  Personally, I don’t often spend much time on company websites because I like to get what I need and move on, but I enjoyed spending time on the Tuttorosso site because it was so full of information.

Next time you are looking for a delicious tomato dish, find Tuttorosso Tomatoes and give them a try.

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Disclaimer:  Tuttorosso sent me 3 products and a gift pack in exchange for this review. All opinions (and happy belly) are 100% my own.

Bread Machine Season

Growing up, I remember my mom making homemade “bread” from frozen dough. One day, her life was transformed when she bought a bread machine. Pizza dough, fun breads…it was quite a find for our family. When I got my first house, one of my first yard sale finds was a bread machine–I just knew I had to have one in my kitchen!

At first, I thought there were only so many bread recipes you could make. Little did I know what Donna Washburn and Heather Butt had up their sleeves. Last month, they published 300 Best Bread Machine Recipesa great resource for bread (machine) bakers everywhere. Admittedly, I was overwhelmed and couldn’t decide what recipe I wanted to make first.

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There are traditional recipes like French Bread and innovative recipes like Pumpernickel Flower Pots. (Can I be signed up to be in Washburn and Butt’s test kitchen?!?) As you can tell, it’s not just standard loaves that are covered. There are desserts, holiday breads, rolls, healthy options, and even recipes that are “beyond the bread”.  I had no idea I could make cookies using my bread machine, shh, don’t tell my mixer!

Tips are included (I love the tip for Jalapeno Cheese Bread–use the crumbs to top baked chicken!) as well as variations of the recipes to shake things up a little bit. Typical of Robert Rose cookbooks, there are gorgeous high-quality photos throughout the book to keep you drooling and craving carbs.

One of the fall staples in our house is chili, so of course I decided my first favorite recipe is going to be Chunky Chili Cornbread…and I’m happy to be able to share this recipe with you.

Chunky Chili Cornbread, page 127
Summer brings juicy, sweet ears of fresh corn to the farmers’ market, but this loaf can be a year-round treasure.

Makes 1 loaf

1.5 lb (750 g)

1 1⁄4 cups water 300 mL
1 egg 1
1/4 cup skim milk powder 50 mL
1 tsp salt 5 mL
2 tbsp granulated sugar 25 mL
2 tbsp vegetable oil 25 mL
3 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour 750 mL
1/3 cup cornmeal 75 mL
2/3 cup thawed frozen corn kernels,well drained 150 mL
1 1/2 tsp crushed red chili peppers 7 mL
1 tsp bread machine or instant yeast 5 mL

2.5 lb (1.25 kg)

1 1⁄3 cups water 300 mL
1 egg 1
1/4 cup skim milk powder 50 mL
1 tsp salt 5 mL
2 tbsp granulated sugar 25 mL
2 tbsp vegetable oil 25 mL
3 2/3 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour 750 mL
2/3 cup cornmeal 75 mL
3/4 cup thawed frozen corn kernels,well drained 150 mL
2 tsp crushed red chili peppers 7 mL
1 1/2 tsp bread machine or instant yeast 5 mL

1. Measure ingredients into baking pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Insert pan into the oven chamber.

2. Select Basic Cycle.

Tip
Thaw the frozen corn kernels completely and drain well before adding.

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Excerpted from 300 Best Bread Machine Recipes by Donna Washburn & Heather Butt
© 2012 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca All rights reserved: May not be reprinted without publisher permission.

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300 Best Bread Machine Recipes can be found at http://www.robertrose.ca. The book retails for $24.95 and would be an excellent holiday gift for the bread machine baker in your life.

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book to review from Robert Rose. All opinions are 100% my own.

Fall Foods From Frieda’s

This fall, I introduced my family to a few new foods from Frieda’s Produce. Most of them were brand new to us, so you have to imagine that I had to do some research after opening the box and seeing this beautiful fall bounty of produce.

Frieda’s Produce offers “some really interesting non-traditional fruits and vegetables that can turn one’s holiday table into a conversation piece.” I have to say, that sure was try with the produce we sampled enjoyed. 😉

First, we went for something we knew, Cortland Apples. To be honest, at first bite, I knew these weren’t something to share with the kids. I know. I am a cruel mother not letting my kids have apples. Yup. They might be ‘lil foodies in the making, but they really wouldn’t appreciate how juicy, sweet, and amazing these apples are. Good thing we knew to serve them as cold as we could, bad thing is that we didn’t save them up and bake something with them.

Delicious Cortland Apples, best served cold!

Next up was something I had seen, but had no idea what to do with. A Buddha’s Hand which I’ll let the foodies at Frieda’s explain to you:

“Inside the fruit there is little to no flesh or juice — it’s all rind and pith. For this reason, Buddha’s Hand isn’t really for “eating,” although the rind can be candied or used in baking and other recipes. Buddha’s Hand Citron is also a nice ingredient for infusing into liqueurs and other spirits.”

The smell is amazing, and they made for quite the “spooky” conversation piece on the island. These should be stored room temperature which we didn’t realize until it had been in the fridge for an evening, but it didn’t seem to hurt it. Arianna and I sampled a “finger” of the hand but I can’t say we love the fruit. Candying or using in liquor would probably be the better bet.

The pack of sunchokes weren’t all that unfamiliar, and there are tons of things that could be done with them. Bonus, “The natural fiber found in Sunchokes® is considered a “pre-biotic,” which helps good bacteria grow in the digestive tract.” These are like artichokes, but come from the edible part of the roots of a sunflower! You can eat them raw or cooked, and Frieda’s has so many recipes to chose from that I really couldn’t pick just one to share with you (I trust you’ll go look at their site!).

We’ll be using Pine Nuts in pesto and sauces this winter. They added a nutty flavor and are a good for you fat. Frieda’s suggests, “Lightly toast in a dry skillet to enhance flavor before adding to pastas, salads and sauces. Place in a food processor with olive oil, fresh basil, garlic and Parmesan for a traditional pesto sauce. You can even use Pine Nuts in cakes and cookies!”

Since I don’t do pasta too often, another thing I like is that you can freeze the pine nuts. Any produce that can be extended past a week of shelf-life is a winner in this busy mom’s book.

Finally, we got a pack of crepes. Ah, the temptation! The deliciousness! But, before I set them at room temperature to prep for some breakfast with strawberries and syrup, I realized there was a recipe for chicken salad on the back that sounded (and tasted) absolutely amazing. I know, I just broke your minds letting you know that crepes aren’t just for desserts. Trust me on this one, you’ll be happy.

If I’ve got your stomach growling (how is it not?) I suggest you head over to http://www.friedas.com and see all of the deliciousness they have to offer (like purple sweet potatoes, oh my goodness!). You can also follow them on Twitter (@friedasproduce) and Like them on Facebook. But if you’re really hungry, go out to your local Giant Eagle and look for Frieda’s fall bounty of foods in the produce department. You won’t be sorry.

Disclaimer: Frieda’s provided me produce to try and review, they also suggested that I could get their goods locally at Giant Eagle. All opinions are 100% my own.

Buffalo Chicken Couscous and Cheese

In my pursuit to lose weight, there have been a few things I’ve had to put aside in exchange for deliciously natural foods. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t crave delicious foods (like while writing this blog about a recipe, I really want some ice cream, a bad previous-life nighttime habit). One of my favorite homemade recipes was my buffalo mac n’ cheese. Even with using whole wheat pasta, I couldn’t bring myself to sacrifice those precious calories. So, enter my brilliant idea … Buffalo Chicken Couscous and Cheese

Last weekend, we took a trip to Brookville and had a chance to do some bulk shopping. When I saw couscous for just a ‘lil over $1 for just a ‘lil over a pound, I pounced. I can’t buy bulk couscous at my local grocery store, and I don’t always get to go out to the store that I can buy it, so I chose to snag a bag while on this trip. Without a plan for it, I let it sit on my brain for a few days before I got to thinking I could substitute the couscous for the macaroni! And just like that, I was craving my old favorite.

With no chicken in the house, I picked up a rotisserie chicken. This is my favorite because it’s already cooked, and Greg always pulls it for me. Win, win…I don’t have to mess with raw chicken OR bones, and we usually get 2-3 meals out of one chicken.

buffalo chicken couscous

Buffalo Chicken Couscous and Cheese

Into the pan went half the chicken, with about 3/4 c buffalo sauce (we love it spicy) like this one, Sweet Baby Ray’s –affiliate link). Once it was nice and buffalo’ed, in went a cup of couscous to brown and then a cup of water to “make it rise”. Once everything looked good and mixed, I tossed in 3/4 cup cheddar. I let this bake in a casserole dish for about 20 minutes on 425 and called it dinner. Don’t ask me the serving size or calories, all I knew was it was 100 times healthier than my other version, and just as tasty.

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Ingredients

1/2 of a Rotisserie Chicken (cooked and shredded)

3/4 c. Buffalo Sauce (like this one, Sweet Baby Ray’s)

1 c. uncooked couscous (yields about 3 c. cooked)

1 c. water

3/4 cup cheddar

Steps

Saute the chicken in the buffalo sauce. Cook the couscous (see package instructions – though I highly suggest doing it in a sauce pan (this one, available on Amazon, will revolutionize your kitchen – with pour spots, a straining cover and a stay cool handle). Add to the chicken in a casserole dish (our go to is a Pyrex one with a lid for the leftovers, then add the cheese. Bake in a 425-degree oven for about 20 minutes. Enjoy!

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Disclaimer: Posts on my blog may contain affiliate links. This helps me bring a few extra groceries into the house. 🙂