Green Machine Milkshakes

Need something fun and green to feed your family on St. Patrick’s Day – but hoping to avoid green food coloring?  I’d encourage a tossed salad with spinach and other fresh greens, cucumbers, and zucchini – but I’m guessing your family might not think any of those foods are cute or festive.

Instead, I’m recommending an avocado.  Am I the life of the party, or what?

Green Machine Milkshakes

These milkshakes are smooth, rich, and creamy.  So what makes these green?  Maybe you weren’t listening.  I told you already.  It’s avocados.  Welcome to my way cool party.  (We’ll end the evening by shelling some peas and shredding cabbage for slaw.)  Rock on.

I personally love these green milkshakes.  My family can’t decide if they agree with me or not.  Is it because they know these have avocado in them, so psychologically, they think they taste weird?  I’m not sure.  I really can’t tell these milkshakes are made with avocados.  To me, they just taste like a smooth and creamy, lightly sweetened milkshake.  What my kids don’t drink, I will, so it’s all good.  They can just stick with Asa’s awesome guac for their avocado intake.

Green Machine Milkshakes

3 ripe avocados, halved and pitted
3 cups whole milk
4-5 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.  Serve right away.  Makes 5-6 cups.

If this recipe isn’t exciting enough for you, might I suggest roasting some asparagus and steaming an artichoke?  I believe it goes without saying that this is going to be the most fun and memorable St. Patty’s Day ever.

Bacon Cheese Muffins

You want to know the best way I’ve found to get all of my men-folk out of bed in the mornings?  Make bacon.  Hoooah!  <—that was me grunting out a manly sound, did you hear it?  That’s the sound that typically follows the word bacon in our house.  “Mmm, bacon. Hoooah!”

I believe bacon is the language of love when it comes to most males, and I happen to like bacon too, if I do say so myself.

I usually stick with turkey bacon, but it really is hard to beat the taste of the pork bacon I can get from our local farmer.  It’s a wonderful, occasional treat at our house - and yes, it does drive the boys out of bed in the morning.

These Bacon Cheese Muffins are easy and delicious – perfect for a holiday brunch.  (You may remember seeing this recipe in our free Healthy Breakfast Made Simple eBook.)

bacon cheese muffins

Bacon Cheese Muffins

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sucanat or brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter or coconut oil
1/2 cup bacon
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Using kitchen shears, cut bacon into bite sized pieces.  Brown bacon pieces in a skillet until thoroughly cooked.  In a mixing bowl combine flour, sucanat, baking powder, and sea salt.  Add egg, milk, and butter.  Fold in cooked bacon and shredded cheese.  Scoop batter into 12 paper-lined muffin tins.  Bake in a 400° oven for 15-20 minutes or until muffins are golden brown.

Are you bacon lovers at your house?  Hoooah!

Be sure to leave a comment on this post for a chance to win one of five $10 gift certificates to the Heavenly Homemakers Shop, good on anything of our eBooks or eCourses!

Snickerdoodle Muffins ~ Having Breakfast With the Muppets

As I stated on Facebook yesterday:

I feel a tiny bit silly (but not silly enough to keep it to myself, apparently). Growing up, my mom and I always listened to the Muppets Christmas cassette, which featured John Denver. I loved it SO much. So I just bought the album for myself. I couldn’t hold back. I mean, if you haven’t heard Miss Piggy singing the 12 days of Christmas, you’ve really missed out. (Ah, the memories…)

muppets
I have played the songs over and over within the last 24 hours.  All I can think about while I listen to this is hanging out with my mom while we wrapped presents and made Christmas crafts together during the month of December. 

I had all but forgotten the album existed until my sister-in-law texted something about it yesterday.  Memories flooded back.  Now I can’t stop listening to it.  And I can’t stop smiling. You would think that after over 9 years of being without her, I would realize that calling to talk to my mom isn’t an option.  But as I listen to this music, I have had to stop myself several times from picking up the phone to dial her number.  “Mom!” I want to shout, “Remember our winter nights together?  Remember Miss Piggy singing ‘ba-dum-pum-pum’ in the 12 Days of Christmas?  Remember how much fun we had?  I just got the John Denver Muppets album on CD and I’m listening to it now with the boys, and they love it as much as we did!”

So since I can’t tell her, I’m sharing this with you.  Of all my Christmas memories, I have to say listening to this music while preparing for Christmas with my mom might be my favorite memory of all.  I really can’t stop smiling.  And crying.  And laughing (“mee-mee-mee-mee-mee-mee” – you have to know Miss Piggy to get that one).

Here’s a little blast from the past for ya that I found on youtube:

This morning, I turned on the Christmas lights, cranked up the Muppets, and tried a new recipe.  These muffins are simple, full of cinnamon, delicious, and perfect for Christmas time.  My family and I had breakfast with Miss Piggy, Kermit, and John Denver.

Snickerdoodle Muffins

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup sucanat or brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 egg
1/4 cup melted butter or coconut oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk

Snickerdoodle Topping:

2 Tablespoons sucanat or brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Stir together flour, sucanat, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  Add egg, butter, sour cream, and milk – stirring until mixture is well combined.  Scoop batter into 10-12 paper lined muffin tins.  Stir together the sucanat/cinnamon topping.  Sprinkle about a 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture onto each muffin.  Bake in a 400° oven for 15-20 minutes or until muffins are golden brown. Snickerdoodle Muffins 8

Here’s to tasty Christmas goodies, relishing wonderful Christmas memories, and creating new memories with our own families now.

Please tell me if you remember this Muppet Christmas album with John Denver so that we can talk about Piggy Pudding together!  What are your favorite Christmas music memories?

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

It’s kind of a no-brainer, converting muffin recipes into quick bread recipes and vice versa.  Still, it’s not something I always think about doing.

Remember how I turned Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins into Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bread?  That worked just as well when I decided to turn Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins into Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

To make it easy, I’ll post the recipe here with revised instructions for making this batter into a delicious quick bread!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

3 cups whole wheat flour (I used freshly ground hard white wheat)
1 – 1 1/2 cups sucanat
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 eggs
2 cups pureed pumpkin (or one 16 ounce can)
1 cup melted coconut oil (or butter)
1 cup chocolate chips (I prefer either homemade chocolate chips or soy free chocolate chips)

In a large mixing bowl, stir together all dry ingredients.  Add eggs, pumpkin and oil.  Mix well.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Pour batter into two buttered loaf pans.  Bake in a 350° oven for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow bread to cool for about 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Do you like muffins or quick bread better, or does it depend on the day?

Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites Recipe

How’s the Getting Ahead {Snacks} Challenge going for you?  I’m having a blast in the kitchen, but I can’t say I’m really getting ahead.  We’re eating the food as fast as I make it.  And by we, I mean my four boys.  Okay fine, except for the Raspberry Oatmeal Bars.  I took care of those very well without much help. {grins sheepishly}

You are going to love today’s idea!  This one really did help me get ahead.  I turned out so many pretzel bites, we ate on them all day, then I was able to stash some in the freezer too.  This recipe is more time consuming than the other easy snack recipes I’ve shared.  But trust me, these are worth the extra work!  I didn’t stop and count how many pretzel bites this recipe makes (for obvious sanity reasons), but I would say this recipe would fill a two gallon ziplock bag and then some.  Yep!  You’ll get ahead with this recipe for sure!

pretzel_bites

Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites (Adapted from my Soft Pretzel Recipe)

1 cup water
2 Tablespoons yeast
2 teaspoons honey
2 1/2 cups milk
1 stick butter
1/2 cup honey
4 teaspoons sea salt
8 cups whole wheat flour (more or less as necessary)
butter
salt

In a large bowl, mix 1 cup warm water, yeast, and 2 teaspoons of honey.  Stir this together and allow it to sit.  Meanwhile, heat butter, milk, 1/2 cup honey, and salt in a medium saucepan on the stove until mixture has reached 120°.  Stir contents in saucepan into the yeast mixture.  Begin adding flour, two cups at a time until a nice dough has formed.  Knead for 3-4 minutes.  Place dough in bowl, cover, and allow it to rise for 1-2 hours.

On a well floured surface, roll fistful sized balls of dough into “snakes.”  Cut into one inch bites.

pretzel_bites_1

Place on a baking sheet or stone.  No need to allow for rising time, but if they sit there a while, that’s okay too.  Bake in a 350° oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

pretzel_bites_3
Place baked pretzel bites in a bowl, drizzle on some melted butter, toss until coated, then sprinkle sea salt and toss again.  Serve warm, serve cold, or cool and freeze the bites in a freezer bag for up to three months.  Thaw and reheat in the oven.
pretzel_bites_2
I experimented with a Nacho Cheese Dip for these pretzel bites and will be sharing that recipe shortly!

pretzel_bites_4

 

 Give me more dipping ideas for these soft pretzel bites!!

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins

The first new healthy make-ahead snack recipe idea I am sharing (to go along with our Getting Ahead Challenge) was inspired by Kristen who left a comment on Facebook last week suggesting I make these muffins for a family game night.  I experimented a little, and we loved the result!  Cream cheese and pumpkin together in a muffin?  Can be made ahead of time?  Freezable?  Yes, yes, yes.  Not to mention, you get to learn to make cream cheese coins.  Just when you thought life in the kitchen couldn’t be any more fun…

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins

For those of you who notice fine details, you might realize that this recipe is very similar to my Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe.  I simply took out the chocolate and added cream cheese.  Why think hard when you already have a great pumpkin muffin recipe, right?

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins

3 cups whole wheat flour (I used freshly ground hard white wheat)
1 cup sucanat
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 eggs
2 cups pureed pumpkin (or one 16 ounce can)
1 cup melted coconut oil (or butter)
8 ounces cream cheese

Before mixing together muffins, place cream cheese in the middle of a large piece of parchment or wax paper.  Wrap the paper around the cream cheese and shape it into a long rope.  Place it in the freezer while preparing the muffins.

Stir together flour, sucanat, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Add eggs, pumpkin, and melted coconut oil.  Mix well and scoop batter into 24 paper-lined muffin tins.  Slice cream cheese into 24 “coins.”  Slide one into the middle of each muffin.  Bake in a 400° oven for about 20 minutes or until muffins are golden brown.

These muffins taste great hot out of the oven or cold several days later.

Want a little hint on forming that cream cheese?  I found that wrapping it well with parchment paper, then running my hands over and over it easily shaped it into a long rope in just a few seconds.  Like this –>

pumpkin_cream_cheese_muffins_3 (1)

I like to refer to this gem of a portrait as “Headless Lady Shapes a Cream Cheese Log.”

 Feel free to sprinkle chopped nuts on top of the muffins before baking.  I’m also thinking that adding chocolate chips (like in the original Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe) would taste incredible.

Which do you like better? Chocolate chips or cream cheese…or both?

How to Make Freezer Biscuits

Freezer Biscuit Tutorial

My family loves biscuits and gravy.  But by the time I brown sausage and make gravy, mix together biscuits, roll them, cut them out, and bake them - I end up with a very messy kitchen and a lot of time spent trying to get breakfast on the table.  Therefore, I used to only make this meal on special occasions like birthdays and Father’s Day.

But now!!  I have unlocked the secret to getting a meal of biscuits and gravy on the table within just a few minutes and with very little mess.  My men think I’m wonderful for working so hard when they walk into the kitchen to see the delicious breakfast feast.   Little do they know that making biscuits and gravy has become easier than trying to get them to see the laundry that is waiting for them to fold and put away.   How can they not see it when they have to step over it to get to their room, I’d like to know.  But back to the biscuits…

Making a super fast meal of biscuits and gravy is dependent on two simple tasks:

  1. Have sausage pre-made, browned, and frozen in meal-sized portions.
  2. Make biscuits ahead of time, then freeze them to pull out and bake.

If you recall, I typically make 12 pounds of Homemade Turkey Sausage at one time.  It just makes sense.  I’m already getting out all of the spices.  I’m already dirtying a pot.  Might as well just dirty a bigger pot and make a huge batch of sausage, right?  Then I freeze the cooked meat in 12 quart-sized freezer bags.  The night before I’m planning to make biscuits and gravy, I get out one bag of meat and put it into the fridge to thaw.  Easy!

Now how about the biscuits?  I’ve learned to mix up a triple or quadruple batch of Quick Mix Biscuits, roll and cut, then freeze the unbaked biscuits on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.  One mess, lots of biscuits.  So easy!  Once the biscuits are frozen, I transfer them to gallon-sized freezer bags.  The night before I want to bake them, I place the desired number of frozen biscuits on a baking sheet, cover them with a cloth, then let them thaw on the countertop overnight.

The next morning, all I have to do is slide the biscuits into the oven to bake while I quickly make Homemade Sausage Gravy with the pre-cooked sausage.  Slice some fruit, and I’ve got a favorite, hearty meal on the table within about 15 minutes.

My family will now be enjoying biscuits and gravy more often, thanks to these quick freezer methods!

Have you tried freezing unbaked biscuits before?

Easy Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

Easy_Oatmeal_Bars

What’s great about these Easy Oatmeal Breakfast Bars?  You can eat them in a house.  You can eat them in a rush.  You can eat them in a car.  You can eat them near or far.  Inside outside upside down.  Sam…I am.

We’re in the process of trading in Seuss for Shakespeare at this point in our lives, so apparently I felt the need for a Dr. Seuss flashback.  I mean, I could have gone with Macbeth or Romeo and Juliet and said, “All that glitters is not breakfast” or “An oatmeal bar by any other name would smell as sweet” but those didn’t make nearly as much sense within the context of this post.  And as all of us who have ever come across a nooth grush on our tooth brush can attest to, Dr. Seuss always makes perfect sense.

You might look at this recipe and ask, “How is this one different from your Breakfast Cake, Giant Breakfast Cookie, and Oatmeal Cookie recipes?  I would answer by telling you that they are all similar, except that this recipe uses the fewest ingredients and is easiest to throw together.  It’s also a little gooier and chewier and at this point in my life, since it’s so fast and easy, it has become my favorite of them all.

I usually try to make these at night before going to bed so that when we get up in the morning, breakfast is ready to eat right away.  Which leads me back to how you can eat them in a rush, in a car, with your coffee, wherever you are.  Parting is such sweet sorrow.  I’ll stop now.

Easy Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

1 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sucanat or 1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups rolled oats
2 cups whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground hard white wheat)

Stir together melted butter and sucanat.  Add eggs, baking soda, salt, and vanilla, mixing well.  Stir in oats and flour until well combined.  Spread mixture in a 9×13 inch baking dish.  Bake in a 350° oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Feel free to stir 1/2 cup chocolate chips or dried fruit to the batter before baking!

To Freeze These Bars:  Bake as directed and allow them to cool completely.  Cut into bars, then wrap individually.  Place wrapped bars in a freezer bag in the freezer.  Thaw for at least one hour before eating.

Who do you enjoy more?  Seuss or Shakespeare?

Making Homemade Soft Pretzels

The recipe is a tiny bit more time consuming that some of my other baked goods, so I find that I don’t make my Homemade Soft Pretzels very often anymore.  But now that the weather has cooled off, I’m excited to make these pretzels to go with a pot of soup.  I guarantee my family will not argue with my idea.

Have you tried making Homemade Soft Pretzels?  Give this recipe a try.  They are SO delicious!

Whole_Wheat_Soft_Pretzels

Instant Oatmeal in a Jar

Remember the Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets recipe I shared a few weeks ago?

Instant Oatmeal in a Jar

I wanted to suggest that in an effort to cut down on waste (that’s a lot of little plastic bags) and effort (it takes extra time to scoop each serving into bags) – you may want to simply store your Instant Oatmeal Mix in an airtight container.

I made a double batch recently, which filled almost three half-gallon jars.  On the lids, I wrote,

“Shake well.  Scoop 1/2 cup of mix into a bowl.  Add 1/2-3/4 cup boiling water.”  My boys can take it from there.

instant_oatmeal_jars
This is super easy – and I can’t tell you how nice it is to have this instant oatmeal on hand for busy mornings and for mid-afternoon snacks.  The kids stir in any dried fruit or other add-ins they want with their oatmeal.

Here is the Homemade Instant Oatmeal Recipe.  And you’ll find more great and fast breakfast recipes in this FREE Healthy Breakfast Made Simple eBook.

And a quick note to reinforce that you shake the jar before scooping out your 1/2 cup serving.  One of our boys made a bowl without shaking first.  All of the sucanat had sunk to the bottom, so his scoop tasted rather bland.  Always shake the jar to make sure you get a more tasty bowl of oatmeal!

Have you tried making this Homemade Instant Oatmeal Recipe I highly encourage it.  What a time and money saver!

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