Frozen Yogurt-Coated Grapes

Frozen Yogurt-Coated Grapes | Food & Whine

Easter’s almost here and the kids are getting excited about all the candy that the Easter Bunny is going to be bringing them…oh goodie. Okay, so I’m a little less thrilled about the whole candy thing than they are. It’s not that I don’t like candy, but it seems like we are bombarded with sugary treats at every holiday.  Sometimes it’s nice to have a break from candy and enjoy something relatively healthy that still seems like a treat, like these frozen grapes covered in vanilla yogurt. When you decorate them with a light dusting of sprinkles, they look like tiny Easter eggs!

Yogurt Grapes

Of course, you could have these without sprinkles if you want to be even healthier, but it makes a fun Easter project to do with your kids if you let them help decorate the grapes with you.

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The boys were almost as excited about this snack as they are about candy. Cole doesn’t look that excited in this photo, but he actually was pretty impressed with my creation.  He told me I should sell them.

Our mischievous black cat, Hunter, also wanted to be a critic. It was hard to take any photos without the cat trying to steal the grapes. This cat lives for food. Clearly, he belongs with our family.

Yogurt Grapes

The best part is that they’re really easy to make. All you need is vanilla yogurt (I used Yoptimal by Yoplait), grapes, and sprinkles.

Wash the grapes and pat them dry, then dip them in a bowl of yogurt to coat them. Scoop them out with a fork, and tap the fork on the edge of the bowl to remove the excess yogurt.

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Place the coated grapes on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.

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Now comes the fun part. Once you’ve made as many as you want, you can decorate them with sprinkles.

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Pop them in the freezer for a few hours until the grapes have frozen solid. Transfer them into an airtight freezer-safe container in a single layer. They melt fast, so only take out one serving at a time and eat them right away (that won’t be hard, trust me!).

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If you’re looking for more creative food ideas for Easter, here are some fun ones from Life Made Delicious:

Easter Bunny Cake

Easter Chick Cupcakes

Cheesy Easter Shapes

Easter Cookie Sandwiches

Disclosure: I am part of the Life Made Delicious Blogger Program through Mom Central Canada and I receive certain perks as part of my affiliation. Opinions are my own.

Simple Honey Mustard Chicken

Simple Honey Mustard Chicken

Lately I’ve been gravitating towards simple recipes with not too many ingredients. It’s true that you don’t need a long list of ingredients with complicated directions to make a delicious meal that everyone will love. In fact, my family tends to like simple and straightforward meals the best, and this honey mustard chicken is about as uncomplicated as it gets!

Honey Mustard Chicken Critics

I wasn’t even going to post this recipe, because it’s almost too simple to even be called a recipe, but my boys insisted that I blog about it.  They loved it that much! Ayla wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as her brothers, but she did eat it.

I like the combination of sweet honey and tangy mustard, plus they are two ingredients that are almost always in my kitchen, so I think they’re a great choice for adding to chicken. I’d like to try using honey and mustard as a basting sauce for chicken on the BBQ this summer. I bet that would be delicious!

Simple Honey Mustard Chicken

Simple Honey Mustard Chicken

Ingredients

  • 10 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • Seasoning salt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard

Instructions

  1. Place chicken in a foil-lined baking dish.
  2. Sprinkle chicken with seasoning salt.
  3. In a small bowl, combine honey and mustard, then pour over the chicken.
  4. Bake at 400F for 40 minutes.
http://foodwhine.com/2014/04/simple-honey-mustard-chicken.html

Slow-Cooker Roast Beef

Slow-Cooker Roast Beef | Food & Whine

Ever since I was a child, one of my favourite Sunday dinners has been roast beef.  On Sundays when we’re home in the afternoon, I’ll roast the beef in the oven.  A lot of times, though, we go out on Sundays to spend time together as a family.  On those Sundays, I often cook a roast in my Crockpot so that when we get home in the evening, we have a delicious slow-cooked roast waiting for us.

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My family loves this slow-cooker roast even more than when I cook it in the oven.  This meal gets a big thumbs-up from everyone. Even little Ayla looks like she’s trying to lift her thumb up (or maybe that’s a so-so gesture that she sees Cole do so often?).  Anyway, she ate it all up.

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I love how it just falls apart when you cut it, so it’s easy for kids to chew, unlike oven roasts which can be a bit tough. This recipe makes such a beautiful rich gravy. I just thicken it up with a little cornstarch and pour it on top of the roast for added flavour.

I used the leftover meat and gravy to make beef dip sandwiches the next day. Wow! It was so good! I could just drink up that gravy on its own.

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Slow-Cooker Roast Beef

Ingredients

  • 1 sirloin tip roast (2-3 lbs)
  • 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch

Instructions

  1. Place roast in the slow-cooker
  2. Mix soy sauce, wine and garlic. Pour it over the roast.
  3. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  4. Once cooked, place the drippings in a saucepan on medium heat.
  5. Mix cornstarch with 1 cup of water, then pour it into the saucepan while whisking.
  6. Continue whisking and bring it to a boil until thickened.
  7. Serve gravy over the beef.
http://foodwhine.com/2014/03/slow-cooker-roast-beef.html

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Cheesy Shells with Broccoli

It’s spring break, and I’m taking the week off work to spend time with my kids. Since I want to spend as much time as possible with them instead of in the kitchen, I’m going to be making a lot of simple, easy, kid-friendly meals this week. This recipe is one of our favourites. My family goes crazy for it, and the best part is that it’s a cinch to make. It hardly takes any longer than preparing a box of Kraft Dinner, so it’s perfect for a healthy lunch or dinner.

Here are my happy kids enjoying their dinners. Cole ate his so fast that everything on his plate was gone before I got the camera out. He had about 4 helpings. You can tell that Bennett and Ayla loved it, too, from the big smiles on their faces. Tony finished up the leftovers for lunch the next day. This recipe makes a big batch, but it still doesn’t last long in our house!

Cheesy Shells with Broccoli

Ingredients

  • 3 cups pasta shells
  • 2 broccoli crowns, chopped
  • 2 cups milk (or evaporated milk for extra creaminess)
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta shells according to package directions.
  2. Add broccoli to the water in the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Drain and set aside.
  3. While cooking pasta, make the cheese sauce. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  4. Sprinkle with flour and whisk together.
  5. While whisking, slowly pour in the milk.
  6. Continue to whisk while bringing the sauce to a boil. Once thickened, remove from heat.
  7. Stir in the cheese and salt until all the cheese has melted.
  8. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and broccoli. Serve immediately.
http://foodwhine.com/2014/03/cheesy-shells-with-broccoli.html

 

 

Here are some other super easy meal ideas from Life Made Delicious:

Easy Beef and Noodle Dinner
Southwestern Cheddar Chicken Pasta
Impossibly Easy Taco Pie
Twenty-Minute Chicken Cacciatore

Here’s the latest news from General Mills this month:
Go to http://www.strudelgram.ca to enter Pullsbury Toast Strudel’s “Strudelgram” contest. You get to design your very own “Strudelgram” for a chance to win amazing prizes. Sounds like fun! The contest runs from February 21 to March 28 2014, so don’t miss out.

Disclosure: I am part of the Life Made Delicious Blogger Program through Mom Central Canada and I receive certain perks as part of my affiliation. Opinions are my own.

Lentil and Garlic Sausage Stew

This recipe reminds me of one of the very first recipes I posted on this blog over 4 years ago, Turkey Kielbasa and Lentil Stew. That one was a crockpot recipe, while this new version is a quick weeknight recipe you can make on your stovetop.

Cole really liked this one! His plate was empty before I even had a chance to get out the camera. Bennett was napping while the rest of us were eating. He was super grumpy earlier that day, I guess because he was tired, but when he woke up he ate it and liked it. The only one who didn’t like this was Ayla. In fact, she hated it. When I put it in front of her, she screamed and screamed until I finally gave her strawberries instead.  Even though she’s only a year old, she’s already forming strong opinions about her food. Watch out world, it looks like the tiniest Whine Critic has the biggest attitude.

Lentil and Garlic Sausage Stew

Ingredients:
2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped
1 1/2 cup new potatoes, quartered
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp thyme
2 celery stalks, sliced
1/2 lb garlic sausage/kielbasa, sliced
1 1/4 cup red lentils
3 cups vegetable broth or water
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  • Add onion, carrots, potatoes, garlic, thyme, celery and garlic sausage. Saute until vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add lentils and broth, and bring to a boil
  • Reduce heat to simmer, and cover pot for 20 minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper

Note: It will be a little more “soupy” than in the photographs. I took them the following day, so the stew had thickened quite a bit overnight. It’s still delicious either way!

Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast

French toast has always been one of Cole’s favourite foods. His tastes have changed a lot over the years, but his affinity for this delicious breakfast treat has remained consistent. In fact, he loves French toast so much that he’ll often request it for dinner. Sometimes, if I’m feeling particularly nice (or lazy), I’ll oblige.

Since it was Valentine’s day this month, I made a heart-shaped French toast, with a quick strawberry sauce in the microwave, and honey-sweetened ricotta cheese. It reminded me of strawberry cheesecake, so I called it “Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast.” You’re welcome.

Bennett wasn’t interested in French toast on this particular morning, all he wanted was cereal. Cole and Ayla, however, enjoyed the french toast a lot. We had no problem finishing off Bennett’s share.

That wasn’t the only heart-shaped food we had this month. It was Ayla’s 1st birthday on February 8th, and I made her a cake in the shape of a heart.

It was easy enough that even I, with my very limited cake-decorating skills, was able to manage it. You can find the tutorial for the heart cake at Dinner, a Love Story. I even made a sprinkle number 1 on the cake by printing out a big number 1 and cutting it out to make a stencil. I placed the stencil on the cake and added sprinkles over top of it. I removed the stencil and voila- a perfect number 1. Easy peasy! The icing was so yummy too. I used this recipe using marshmallow creme. Wow, it was dreamy.

I still can’t get over that my little baby is 1 already! That was the fastest year ever. I’m back working full-time, which is why you haven’t heard much from me lately. It’s very busy right now, but I think we’re all starting to settle into the new routine. Ayla’s doing really well at daycare, so that’s a big relief for me.  And we still have the weekends to spend time together and make tasty breakfasts like this one.

Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast

French Toast
4 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sugar (optional)
6 thick sliced bread

In a deep plate or pie dish, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar.
Dip slices of bread to coat on both sides, shaking off any excess egg, then place bread on a heated and greased griddle. Cook on each side until lightly browned.

Cheese filling:
1/2 cup ricotta
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp lemon zest

Combine ricotta, honey and lemon zest in a small bowl.

Strawberry Sauce:
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp sugar

Place strawberries in a microwavable bowl. In a small bowl, mix togehter cornstarch and sugar, then sprinkle it over the berries. Cover the bowl and microwave on high for approximately 4 minutes, or until the berries are steaming hot and have released their juices. Stir and mash them with a fork, then let sit until thickened and cooled slightly.

Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast
Cut the center of the french toast with a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Spoon the ricotta cheese filling into the center. Top with strawberry sauce. Add another dollop of ricotta cheese, then place the cut-out heart on top.

If you liked this recipe, try these ones from Life Made Delicious:

Cinnamon French Toast Bake
Overnight French Toast Bake with Berry Topping
Strawberry Greek Yogurt Cheesecake
Raspberry Rhubarb Puff Pancake

I hope you’re all enjoying the last days of the Olympics! General Mills has been showing their support as a sponsor for Team Canada. And at the end of the month, there’s going to be a fun contest with Pillsbury Toaster Strudels, so be sure to keep an eye out on the Life Made Delicious facebook page for more details.

Disclosure: I am part of the Life Made Delicious Blogger Program through Mom Central Canada and I receive certain perks as part of my affiliation. Opinions are my own.

Healthy Banana Oat Squares

I’m not sure where the recipe originated for these squares, but I came across it on Facebook. I shared it on my facebook page and then gave it a try for myself with a few minor changes, which I’ll share with you here. They were a big hit, especially with Ayla.

They make such a great finger-food for babies and toddlers, because they’re easy to hold onto, they’re not super messy, and there’s no added sugar.


The rest of us liked them, too. The boys have been packing them in their lunches for school, and I like them as a healthy sweet snack.


They’re not overly sweet, but as long as you use very ripe bananas and add raisins, I found they were sweet enough to satisfy my craving. The cinnamon and vanilla compliments the subtle sweetness nicely.

…And even cats like them!

Our kitten, Hunter, was very curious about the squares while I was trying to photograph them. He kept photo-bombing my pictures. He also liked to sit under Ayla’s high chair and try to steal a few pieces that she dropped. That’s his favourite place to be lately. If he’s not under her chair, he’s on the dining room table.

And yes, that is Candy Crush on my tablet in the background. I have an addiction, okay? But at least I’m eating healthy.

Healthy Banana Oat Squares

Ingredients:
 
3 mashed ripe bananas
1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 cup quick oats
1 cup large flake oats
2 tbsp ground flax seed
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Grease an 8 x 8″ baking dish
  • In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients together.
  • Pour the mixture into the baking dish and spread it out with a spatula until even.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the edge begin to brown.
  • Let cool and then cut into squares. .

Makes 16 squares.

Lasagna-Style Quinoa with Kale

It’s a brand new year, which is always a great time to start eating healthier.  There are certain foods out there, known as ‘superfoods,’ that are packed full of nutrients and anti-oxidants to help keep you healthy. Quinoa and kale are two of these amazing foods, so I combined them in this lasagna-like casserole. It’s also gluten-free and meatless.

Here’s what my family thought:

 Ayla was in love with this meal. She ate two large helpings of it, scooping it up in fistfuls and stuffing it in her mouth. Bennett ate all of his and liked it, but Cole wasn’t completely convinced. He wouldn’t give me a reason why he didn’t give in a thumb up, but he hates lasagna (weirdo), so that probably had something to do with it. He didn’t give it a thumb down either though, so he obviously didn’t think it was all bad. Since Tony hates quinoa, I wasn’t expecting him to like this, but surprisingly, he ate most of it. He said that was because he was hungry, not because he liked it. I think he secretly liked it a little bit and just didn’t want to admit it.  I’m not a huge fan of quinoa either, but I liked this. Lasagna is one of my favourite foods, and I loved the lasagna flavour of this dinner.  There’s a lot of cheese in it, which I also love.

Lasagna-Style Quinoa with Kale

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
2 tsp olive oil
4 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 500g tub of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
pinch of salt and pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
1 bunch of kale, chopped
1 jar pasta sauce
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese

  • In a medium saucepan, bring quinoa and water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes, until quinoa is cooked and all liquid has been absorbed. Set aside.
  • In a skillet,  heat oil over medium heat, and saute onion, mushrooms, and garlic until softened.  Drain off excess liquid, add salt, and set aside.
  • Steam kale for about 5 minutes, until wilted. Place in a paper towel and squeeze it well to remove liquid.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine ricotta, parmesan, egg, salt, pepper, lemon juice and kale.
  • In a greased 3 quart baking dish, layer half of quinoa, then half of pasta sauce. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella, followed by all of mushroom mixture and all of ricotta/kale mixture, then top with the remaining quinoa, pasta sauce, and finally sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.
  • Cover and bake at 400F for 35 minutes.
  • Remove cover and bake for another 10 minutes.
  • Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

If you like this recipe, then be sure to try these other healthy recipes from Life Made Delicious.

Kale Chips
Quinoa Pilaf with Salmon and Asparagus
Kale and Bell Pepper Quesadillas
Confetti Quinoa Salad
Spinach Lasagna Casserole

General Mills is gearing up for the Olympics in early February. Cheerios will be cheering on Team Canada and Pillsbury is going to be having a great contest. Check out the Life Made Delicious Facebook page for more details.

Disclosure: I am participating in the Life Made Delicious Ambassador program and receive special perks as part of my affiliation.

Butternut Squash and Bacon Penne

With all the sweets and rich food we’ve enjoyed over the holidays now behind us and a fresh new year ahead of us, it’s a good time to start eating lighter foods. It’s not always easy to make that transition, but this pasta can help. It tastes so good that you’ll think it should be full of fat and calories. Luckily, thanks to lower fat turkey bacon and a creamy cheese sauce made without butter or cream, this dish is actually very light. It also has nutritious squash and spinach.

It takes a bit of time to make it because the squash is roasted in the oven, but you could cook it on the stovetop instead if you’re short on time. I just love the flavour of slow roasted squash.

Cole is not a squash fan, but he does love bacon, so he gave this a so-so rating. Bennett and Ayla loved it all! I can always tell when Ayla likes something, because she hardly drops any of it on the floor. The floor was practically spotless after this meal.

Butternut Squash and Bacon Penne

Ingredients:
6 strips turkey bacon
3 cups diced and peeled butternut squash
1 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried rosemary
2 cups penne
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

  1. Lay out strips of bacon on a baking sheet lined with tin foil. Place in cold oven and turn it to 400F. Cook for about 20 minutes, until crisp. Break it into small pieces and set aside. (Alternatively, you can diced up uncooked bacon and fry it on the stovetop)
  2. Coat butternut squash with olive oil, garlic and rosemary. Spread squash onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast at 400 F for 45 minutes.
  3. Boil water and cook penne according to package directions.
  4. In a medium saucepan, whisk together milk, flour and salt. Bring to a boil, whisking continuously until thickened.
  5. Remove sauce from heat, then stir in cheddar cheese.
  6. Combine roasted squash, crumbled bacon, cheese sauce, cooked penne and fresh baby spinach.
  7. Pour into a baking dish and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
  8. Bake at 400F for 10 minutes.

Highlights from 2013

Happy New Year! It’s time to reflect on what I’ve been up to over the past year.

I started the year about 8 months pregnant with my third child.

I had gestational diabetes, like I did with my previous pregnancies, so I began writing a blog called the GD Diaries to document my experience. I had to watch my carb intake quite carefully and I experimented with a lot of low-carb recipes. This No-Noodle Lasagna was a favourite of mine.

 

On February 8th, my baby girl Ayla was born.

Needless to say, February was a quiet month on the blogging front. Actually, March was pretty quiet too.  I gradually found my groove as a new mother of three, and had a little more time for blogging again.
By May, I was in the running for Circle of Moms Top Foodie Moms. Thanks to my amazing followers, I made it into the top 25!
In June, I became a Life Made Delicious ambassador for General Mills. I’ve never been a blogger ambassador before, but it’s been a great experience so far.  It’s given focus and inspiration to many of my posts, from Tips for Stress-Free Holiday Meals to Crockpot Berry Pudding Cake.
I branched out from my blog to write for other sites. I wrote a Halloween recipe for Green Monster Guacamole at Popsugar, and an article at YMC about How to Get Your Kids to Make Their Own Lunches in 4 easy steps (this has been a life-saver to me since having another baby!).
Somehow I stumbled across a lovely group of bloggers called the West Coast Parent Bloggers and participated in a “Day in the Life” blog post train, where I shared a day in my crazy life as a mom of three.
I shared a lot of recipes, but the most popular one by far this year was an oldie: “Baked” Oatmeal in a Mug. The reason for it’s popularity was due to an article at Buzzfeed: 18 Microwavable Snacks You Can Cook in a Mug.
It’s been a pretty good year for my blog. In fact, it’s been a great 4 years. Today, Food and Whine turns 4 years old! I started it as sort of a new year’s resolution to write more. I chose to focus on food because I love to cook and I figured I was more likely to keep writing about something that really interested me. It was also a great way to keep track of the recipes I made up in my head. There were so many times that I made something delicious and couldn’t remember what I had done to create it. This blog has helped me to be more organized, to eat healthier, and to expose my children to a wide variety of foods.  I started it for myself and my family, never expecting that 4 years later it would have more than a million and a half views from readers from all over the world.  It’s funny to look back at the photos from when I first started out.
Belgian Beef Stew January 2 2010
I don’t claim to be an excellent food photographer even now, but I think it’s fair to say I’ve come a long way since the first photos I took 4 years ago.
Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala July 2013
Most of what I’ve learned about food photography and blogging has come from other blogs. Before I began blogging, I knew very little about the blogging world (and I think I still have a lot to learn). I had no idea of the immense wealth of talent out there in the blogosphere. It blows me away.  I’m honoured to be a part of it and I look forward to continuing to learn and grow as a blogger.
Happy 2014 from our family to yours. I hope this year is a good one for all of you!