Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween 2014!

Happy Halloween from our little pumpkins! 
Figured it was only fair to put Squish in a pumpkin since we did it with Anna.  Needless to say, she wasn't quite as entertained by it. 
I'm really glad we got to take them to the Indy Zoo Boo a couple weeks ago since it's currently 40 degrees and raining...

Emma really enjoyed her first Halloween experience, and made one adorable snowman!

Annalyn (like every other little girl) insisted on dressing up like Elsa. She was one of many that night, but the only one we saw with her own Olaf :)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Slow Cooker Easy Enchilada Casserole

Here's a recipe so simple that I made it at work! I was midway through my 13 hour shift, when the craving for Mexican food hit me. Since I can't actually leave the pharmacy when I'm here, but have a whole grocery store at my disposal, I decided to improvise.  The result was filling, delicious, and provided lots of leftovers for the family to eat the next day. Here's how this working Mama makes it:

Slow Cooker Easy Enchilada Casserole

- 1 can Rotel (I found this awesome Mexican style one with lime and cilantro)
- 1 can red enchilada sauce
- 1 c. chicken stock
- 1 can corn, drained
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 c. brown rice**
**I intended to use just brown rice, but ended up finding this quinoa & brown rice blend. It was delicious and I'd totally use it again (especially since I didn't want to deal with an open bag of brown rice at work).
***You could easily add some chicken thighs to this recipe and shred with a fork.


1.  Place all ingredients in a lined/greased slow cooker, stir to mix, cook on low for 5-6 hours, or high for 3 hours.

2.  Give it a good stir and serve warm (Michael and Annalyn added shredded cheese to it when they ate it leftover).  Would also make a great base for grilled chicken. (sorry, didn't get a picture of the final product - I also don't get actual breaks, so I usually end up eating on the run at work)

printable recipe

Saturday, October 25, 2014

About Aboo: Squishy's 5 months old!

My little Emma, I swear you've doubled in size in the past week!  All of a sudden, you're heavy to carry and there's major chub showing up on your little legs and cheeks.  I just love chubby baby stage. You're a major chatterbox and even talk (squeal) in your sleep sometimes. Your smile makes us melt. It is honestly the sweetest thing ever. Especially when you shake with excitement along with it. Here's a few little updates from the past month:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cooking with Grandpa: Honey Wheat Bread

Over Michael's fall break, we finally had some extra time to try another of Grandpa Eddie's recipe.  This time, we decided to try his honey wheat bread.  Along with this Russian black bread, Grandpa almost always had loaves of this honey wheat bread frozen to distribute to everyone at holidays. He also made it into rolls and baked fresh for family dinners. It brings back great memories and tastes amazing. Making our own bread always makes us wonder why we ever bother to buy it. Here's how Grandpa made it:

Honey Wheat Bread

- 2 1/4 c. water
- 1/4 c. oil
- 1/2 c. honey
- 2 pkg. yeast
- 3 c. all-purpose flour
- 3 - 3 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
- 2 t. salt
- 1 T. sugar
- 1 egg


1.  Heat first 3 ingredients to 120-130 degrees F.  Add to other ingredients except 1 c. all purpose flour and whole wheat flour.

2.  Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, then stir in whole wheat flour to form stiff dough.

3.  Knead about 5 minutes, adding all purpose flour as needed. Dough should be smooth and elastic.

4.  Place in greased bowl, let rise until doubled, 45-60 min.  Punch down, divide into two loaves, place in greased 8x4 pans.

5.  Let rise until doubled, 45-60 min.  Bake at 350 degrees F, 35-45 min.  Loaves should be deep golden brown and sound hollow when lightly tapped.  Brush with butter if desired.

printable recipe

Friday, October 10, 2014

Baked Shredded Carrots

The story behind this recipe is sort of random, but worth telling why I had 6 cups of shredded carrots to use. While playing outside with the girls, one of our neighbors drove by and after chatting for a bit, asked if I had a use for some carrots. They do some catering and had half of a 5 lb. bag of shredded carrots leftover and were leaving for vacation. I figured what the heck, I can always freeze them and toss into soups. But after 6 pint-sized freezer bags, I realized I needed to come up with another use for them. Along with some extra small potatoes I had leftover from another dish, I decided to toss them in the oven and see what happened. The result was delicious and very popular with my live-in food critics. Here's how Mama makes it:

Baked Shredded Carrots

- 6 c. Shredded carrots
- 2 c. Diced potatoes
- 2 T. Minced garlic
- 1/2 c. Chopped onion 
- 1/2 t. Salt
- 1/2 t. Freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 t. Celery salt
- 1/2 t. Dried thyme or rosemary (or about 1 t. Fresh)
- 1/2 stick butter, cubed

Friday, October 3, 2014

Cider Wassail

Here's a recipe that's near and dear to me. I originally made this drink with my grandma back in grade school after telling her about how we made it in school. We decided it would be the perfect addition to our Christmas dinner at the cabin. Decades later, this warm, spicy holiday drink still reminds me of Christmas with my family.

Now I know it's a little early to start the Christmas posts, but this drink is just as much a part of fall as winter. A warm apple cider all jazzed up with citrus and spices. Served warm and garnished with a cinnamon stick, it's perfect for a cold fall day.  Here's how Mama makes it:

Cider wassail

- 2 qts. Apple cider
- 2 c. Orange juice
- 2 c. Pineapple juice
- 2 T. Lemon juice
- 2 T. Honey
- 1 T. Brown sugar
- 2-3 cinnamon sticks (plus more for serving)
- 1 T whole cloves (or a dash of ground)
- 1 orange, 1 apple (cut into rounds)

1. Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 3-4 hours. Serve warm.

(Alternatively, bring to a boil in a large stock pot, then reduce heat and simmer 20-30 min.)

printable recipe

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Quinoa Bars

This is my version of Michael's cousin, Elizabeth's (, coconut quinoa bars (here's the link: These amazing breakfast bars are packed with protein, whole grains, and flavor. After trying her coconut version, I decided to make a fall-inspired pumpkin bar. Even my skeptic of a husband agrees that these bars satisfy the carb cravings, while filling you up so you don't devour the whole pan (which is what usually happens when I bake!).

What I especially love about this recipe (aside from the awesome texture, which I am a huge fan of) is the variety and ability to make it your own. By mixing up the fruit/nuts/etc. you can make a ton of different bars so you don't get it a rut of eating the same thing every morning. Elizabeth suggests cutting them into bars once they're cooled and storing in individual servings in the fridge (like in ziplock bags). This is so great for us right now - between washing pump supplies, making sure bottles/lunches are ready, and trying to get out the door, we have zero extra time to prepare healthy breakfasts. I love that we can have something homemade and nutritious handy to just grab and go. I originally cut them into 8 servings, but I honestly can only eat half at a time (so I save the rest as an afternoon snack while I'm pumping). Here's now Mama makes it:

Pumpkin Spice Quinoa Bars

- 1 c. Whole wheat flour
- 1 t. Pumpkin pie spice
- 1 t. Baking soda
- 2 c. Oats
- 2/3 c. Chopped nuts (I used half almonds, half pecans)
- 2 T. each, Chia and flax seeds
- 1/3 c. each raisins (or craisins) and dried cherries
- 1/2 c. mini chocolate chips
- 1 c. pureed pumpkin
- 2 c. Cooked quinoa
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 c. Applesauce (or a couple mashed bananas)
- 1/2 c. Honey
- 1 t. vanilla
- 1-2 T. Wheat bran to sprinkle on top (told you I'm a texture junkie)

1.  Make quinoa according to package directions.  (1 c. Uncooked makes about 4 c. Cooked, so I made this ahead and stored in the fridge).  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, mix quinoa with remaining wet ingredients. 

3. Add dry ingredients (except wheat bran), and stir until just combined. Since I'm often short on time, I've been mixing the dry ingredients into gallon ziplock bags so they're ready to go when I have time to bake. Saves a lot of time measuring/digging out ingredients while trying to keep Peanut from eating the flour/oats/chocolate chips...

4. Grease a 9 x 13" pan with cooking spray, then pour batter into the pan. Use the back of a spoon to press evenly into the pan. Sprinkle with wheat bran, if desired.

5. Bake in preheated 375 oven for 20-25 min, until set and lightly browned. Allow to cool then slice into bars and package into individual servings for easy on-the-go breakfasts or snacks. 

we had to try one while they were warm (and it was so good!),
but we usually just eat them straight from the fridge cold

breakfast for a week!