Crock Pot Creamy Tortellini and Chicken Sausage Soup

Crock Pot  Creamy Tortellini and Chicken Sausage Soup

There is nothing quite like hot soup on a cold day. And since cold is synonymous with Michigan, we eat a heck of a lot of soup during the winter.

I am totally digging this recipe, which I’ve tweaked to our liking over time. Since we’re amid the holidays, I love that it’s red, white and green too. That means it’s festive, right?! Right.

This simple soup gets a good flavor thanks to chicken sausage. We’ve tried quite a few different varieties, but I always seem to come back to this spinach and mozzarella one made by Meijer. So flavorful, delicious, and often on sale.

Chicken Sausage - Creamy Tortellini and Sausage Soup

Just dice up these babies and brown them on the stove and voila! You’re ready to dump them in the slow cooker along with all the other ingredients except the tortellini. [Read more…]

Buffalo Chicken Flatbread Recipe {Crockpot Method!} #FabulousFlatbread

Fabulous Flatbread Challenge LogoI have been compensated by the United Dairy Industry of Michigan for my time to develop this recipe. All opinions expressed are my own. 

There is one thing we can always agree on meal-wise in our house: Pizza. But, when it comes to pizza, we can NEVER agree on toppings. My kids are picky. My husband is a meat eater – the more meat the better. And I am the diva. Figs? Yes. Feta? Heck to the yes. A sunny-side up egg? Mmmm. The crazier, the better.

For the hubby and I, our middle ground is buffalo chicken pizza, mostly because it’s delicious and can easily be made in the crock pot while I tend to children. And making our pizza on individual flatbreads makes customizing one for the kids a cinch.

Let me tell you, this little beauty is pure magic at the end of a hard day filled with stage 5 clingers.

Buffalo Chicken Flatbread Recipe #FabulousFlatbread
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Crockpot Applesauce Recipe {With Michigan Apples!}

Michigan Apples

It’s apple season here in Michigan, and I couldn’t be happier. Move over everything pumpkin spice, this has been the year for all things apple! After a rough apple crop last year, I’m so happy to see apples a-plenty growing in abundance here and helping all of our wonderful orchards and cider mills stay in business.

Our favorite local orchard to go to for picking apples is Spicer Orchards in Fenton, Michigan {about 15 minutes south of Flint}. Not only is in scenic, but there is TONS to do for kiddos {playground, huge sandbox, corn barn, tractors, etc.}, which makes it a big draw for us. We make sure to go several times throughout the season for outdoor fun, fresh donuts, apple cider and apple picking.

Spicer Orchards

A few weeks back, we  trekked out for apples. I love apple picking because it’s easy to do with small kids in tow because it’s relatively quick. Also, I like being able to choose what size apples we grab — the small ones are perfect for kids so they don’t waste! On this day, we picked a peck, which was $11 for the bag. To me, that’s pretty reasonable since we were able to squeeze a ton of apples into our bag. We picked mostly Gala apples, one of my favorites, along with some Mollies Delicious.

Check out this infographic full of all things apple in Michigan, courtesy of the Michigan Apples Committee. I love the stats in here!

Infographic Revised Sept 2014

Michigan sure rocks apples, huh? Woot.

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Smoked Sausage, Egg and Cheese Bake Recipe for #MIDairy

Smoked Sausage, Egg and Cheese Bake

The post below is sponsored by the United Dairy Industry of Michigan. I was compensated for developing a recipe using dairy products, however, all opinions expressed are my own.
 
With three little ones, I’ll admit it: I don’t cook a full-blown breakfast as often as I’d like these days. Not that we go out, either. Between needy kids and a loves-to-nurse in the morning babe, I’m just usually scrambling in the morning and throwing whatever is in the fridge together. I need recipes that are EASY since I usually am holding the baby and attempting to keep the toddler out of the pantry and fridge.
 
With school in the afternoon for Kinley and general toddler pickyness, I need them to eat a FILLING breakfast because the rest of our day is generally a crapshoot of what they will actually eat.
 
This smoked sausage, egg and cheese bake is one of my absolute favorite recipes to throw together for both breakfast and brinner {breakfast for dinner}. It is a HUGE hit in our house. Since it seems pretty rare these days that we all like the same things, I make this one often, especially when smoked sausage goes on sale and I have beautiful farm fresh eggs from my friend who raises chickens.
 
Eggs - Smoked Sausage, Egg and Cheese BakeAren’t farm fresh eggs just the prettiest? I love how they come out in all different colors and sizes!
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Recipe: Fruit and Yogurt Waffle Bowls

I have been compensated by the United Dairy Industry of Michigan for my time to develop this recipe. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Recipe - Fruit and Yogurt Waffle Bowls

PIN IT!

The sunshine and warmer temps means farmer’s markets, days at the beach and my favorite: cookouts, complete with delectable summery foods.

One treat my family absolutely loves are these simple fruit and yogurt waffle bowls. Not only are they great for a bit of protein and a serving of fruit, but their fun for little ones to help make, too!

These are great for a summer birthday party, or for any Memorial Day or Fourth of July gathering.

INGREDIENTS

  • Waffle bowls {I prefer the smaller ones for the kids}
  • Your choice of fruit. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, grapes and melon are good choices. Go with what’s in-season!
  • French vanilla yogurt
  • Agave or honey

DIRECTIONS

Cut up your choice of fruit and layer piece by piece into the waffle bowl. Place a dollop {or about a tablespoon} of the yogurt on the fruit and top with a light drizzle of agave or honey for an extra zip of sweetness. Serve right away. {You could make the waffle/fruit part in advance, but I would recommend not topping with yogurt until right before serving.}

ENJOY!

Fruit and Yogurt Waffle Bowls Summer Treat

Aren’t they pretty?

I prefer to just pick it up and bite in so I get all flavors at once. My girls opted to eat all the fruit inside, then eat the bowl. Immediately upon finishing hers, the 3-year-old asked for seconds. She thinks it’s ice cream ;)

Fruit and Yogurt Waffle Bowls2

Eating outside in a MSU cheerleader uniform with blankeys nearby is totally kosher around here.

To learn more about why Milk Means More, be sure to connect with UDIM on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube. Also? There are some amazing recipes on UDIM’s website. Bring a napkin for your drool!

What are your favorite dairy-inspired treats to enjoy in warm weather?

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Get Inspired with Red Gold Aioli Ideas #RedGoldRecipes #EasyAioli

I received promotional products in exchange for the post below. All opinions expressed are my own.

The folks at Red Gold recently reached out to me to discuss a current promotion they were hosting, and I was beyond thrilled to hear that they are focused on growing in the Midwest {mainly Michigan, Indiana and Ohio}, where the climate, position of the sun and soil are perfect for growing tomatoes. I truly learn something new every day!

I loved learning this factoid because I often buy Red Gold tomatoes for a variety of recipes, including this one pot wonder, chilis, chicken bruschetta bake and more.

#RedGoldRecipes #EasyAioli

The one thing I’ve never thought to use canned tomatoes for is aioli. If you’re not familiar, aioli essentially is a dressed up, delicious version of mayo.

Red Gold is introducing 10 new Aioli recipes including: Chipotle Aioli, Tomato Aioli, Lime & Cilantro Aioli, Sriracha Aioli, Pesto Aioli and more. And ya’ll? They are SO simple and perfect for sandwiches, dips, toppings and other recipes? YUM.

Red Gold is currently hosting a promotion on their Facebook page now through May 27th, where you have your chance to win aprons or a $250 prize pack, including a Cuisinart Panini Grill {want!!!} and other prizes. All you have to do is select which aioli you are most like here: www.facebook.com/RedGold
Red Gold Aioli Promotion
One of the recipes they sent me that I already plan to try is this:

BEST YEAR ROUND BLT with TOMATO AIOLI
MAKES 4 SERVINGS PREPARATION TIME: 20 MINUTES

  • 1⁄2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can RED GOLD® PETITE DICED TOMATOES 8 slices bread, variety of choice
  • 4 large lettuce leaves
  • 12 slices bacon, cooked and drained
  • Ground black pepper to taste

Combine mayonnaise and RED GOLD® PETITE DICED TOMATOES to make the Tomato Aioli. Place lettuce on 4 slices of bread and then add three strips of bacon and top with Tomato Aioli and black pepper. Place slice of bread on top. Cut in half and serve.

Three cheers for BLTs! They are always a hit at this house :D

Also, we decided to make our own aioli using the tomatoes with garlic and olive oil and mayo to serve with some french fries we made. So delicious and complemented our burgers-on-the-grill wonderfully!

Red Gold Aoili

For more great aioli recipe ideas, visit www.redgold.com/aioli or visit Red Gold on Facebook or Twitter.

Have you made aioli at home? What are your favorite combinations?

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My Favorite Christmas Treat: Linzer Thumbprint Cookies


Thumbprint Linzer Cookies

We all have our favorite holiday treats, right? Mine, by far, are these linzer thumbprint cookies!

I love that they are made with old-fashioned ingredients and have a bit of spice to them, yet aren’t overly sugar-sweet like many cookies. My mom has been making these my entire life, so no Christmas in my mind is complete without them! I especially love them with a cup of tea.

We’ve started a tradition of baking some cookies together last year, and I hope we continue it as long as possible. With two crazy little ones, we decided to just do these this year, but we’re going to try to stretch it to one more kind with each passing year ;)

Baking Thumbprint Linzer Cookies

Here’s the super simple recipe. We always double the recipe because they will not last otherwise! {Recipe yields approximately a dozen cookies.}

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup of softened butter
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Grated rind of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of finely ground pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Raspberry or strawberry jam

Thumbprint Linzer Cookies Recipe

DIRECTIONS

Cream butter and sugar together; add egg yolk and beat until light and fluffy. Mix together dry ingredients and add to the wet butter/sugar mixture. Refrigerate until firm {about 10-15 minutes}. Shape into balls and add a thumbprint in the middle, fill it with jam.

Thumbprint Linzer Cookies with Jam

Helpful baker with Thumbprint Linzer Cookies

Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for approximately 12 minutes at 375 degrees. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Thumbprint Linzer Cookies with powdered sugar

Voila! Delicious cookies…perfect for leaving out for Santa to enjoy!

Thumbprint Linzer Cookies2

What are your favorite treats for the holidays?

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Spinach and Pesto Salmon in a Puff Pastry #Recipe

Spinach and Pesto Salmon in a Puff Pastry

I’m incredibly picky when it comes to fish, so when I came across this recipe for spinach and pesto salmon in a puff pastry, I was curious to try it!

It’s seriously amazing and is the perfect food for entertaining because it seems fancy, but it’s SO easy! {Trust me…I don’t post recipes that aren’t simple!}

Adapted from this AllRecipes post.

Spinach and Pesto Salmon in a Puff Pastry Ingredients

INGREDIENTS

  • Salmon fillet, fresh or frozen {long enough to almost fill the pastry}
  • Puff pastry sheets {near the pie crusts in the frozen section}, thawed
  • 1/3 cup pesto {cheapest brand is totally fine, or make your own!}
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons feta crumbles {optional}

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. If needed, slice the silver skin off of the salmon {for me, this is a hubby job…freaks me out!}.

Spinach and Pesto Salmon in a Puff Pastry1

Open up the puff pastry sheet and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Spinach and Pesto Salmon in a Puff Pastry2

Place salmon inside. Season the salmon with the onion and garlic powder.

Spinach and Pesto Salmon in a Puff Pastry3

Then, add the pesto on top and spread it out {peanut butter on bread style!}.

Spinach and Pesto Salmon in a Puff Pastry4

Finally, add the fresh spinach leaves and feta, and close the puff pastry around the ingredients.

Spinach and Pesto Salmon in a Puff Pastry5

 Spinach and Pesto Salmon in a Puff Pastry6

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the crust is starting to turn a golden brown.

Slice and  serve with a side salad. A delicious main course! If your kids enjoy flavor {I’m lucky — mine do!}, they may enjoy it as well :D

What are your favorite recipes with salmon?

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Quick Family Meal: Chicken Bruschetta Pasta with #KraftRecipeMakers

Collective Bias

#kraftrecipemakers - Chicken Bruschetta Pasta

Is there any better fall comfort food than pasta? Yeah, I think not.

The #1 item my husband requests on the menu each week is pasta. We love trying new pasta dishes, so I was excited to try the new Kraft Recipe Makers for a quick family meal.

As a busy work-from-home mama, the last thing I want to do each night is cook dinner. Many times we end up with eggs, a crock pot meal or grilled cheese sandwiches. So having a “meal helper” from a box is definitely not above me. I liked that I could include my own fresh ingredients {easy to customize} and that it helped make a great meal for my family — quickly, on a budget, and without a ton of clean-up.

We made Kraft’s chicken bruschetta pasta and were pleased with the results! Lots of flavor and SO simple. The husband was ecstatic when I told him what was for dinner.

Here’s how I made this quick family meal:

#kraftrecipemakers - Chicken Bruschetta Pasta Ingredients

INGREDIENTS

  • Kraft Recipe Makers – Chicken Brushchetta Pasta flavor {Found at my local Walmart in the pasta aisle}#kraftrecipemakers - Chicken Bruschetta Pasta -1
  • 1 lb of chicken {I used 3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts}
  • 3 cups bowtie pasta
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • Optional: Fresh basil, chopped and croutons for toppings

DIRECTIONS

Set-up your ingredients and chop up your chicken if needed.

#kraftrecipemakers - Chicken Bruschetta Pasta -2

Cook pasta as directed. In the meantime, oil a skillet and cook the chicken until cooked through. Stir in half the simmer sauce.

#kraftrecipemakers - Chicken Bruschetta Pasta -3

Drain the pasta and add to the skillet the remaining simmer sauce while mixing.

Top with finishing sauce and parmesan. Cover and cook until heated through for 2 to 3 minutes.

#kraftrecipemakers - Chicken Bruschetta Pasta-6

Add basil and croutons if you’d like.

BOOM. Dinner is served.

#kraftrecipemakers - Chicken Bruschetta Pasta-8

OK, well, if you’re like me, you probably have a veggie and bread as well too :D

#kraftrecipemakers - Chicken Bruschetta Pasta-9

This was totally a hit with the hubby and the kids too!

Follow Kraft on Facebook here.

Have you tried the new Kraft Recipe Makers? Which one would you like to try? The verde chicken enchiladas one is next on my list!

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Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter No-Bake Bars

Everyone deserves a sweet treat now and then, right?

One of my current favorite indulgent treats these days are these super simple chocolate coconut peanut butter no-bake bars. I mean, how can you go wrong with coconut, peanut butter AND chocolate together, right? Pure bliss, friends.

These are perfect for a quick treat to bring to share with friends, or to gobble up throughout the work week.

Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter No-Bake Bars

INGREDIENTS

1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup Agave {or 1/2 cup honey}
1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil {Costco has the best prices I’ve seen}
2 cups 100% whole grain dry oats {I use quick oats}
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 1/4 cups chocolate chips
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

Melt peanut butter, honey and coconut oil over medium heat.

Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter No-Bake Bars 1

Once melted, remove from heat and add to the oats, shredded coconut, chocolate chips and vanilla mixture. Stir until chocolate is entirely melted.

Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter No-Bake Bars2

Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter No-Bake Bars3

Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter No-Bake Bars4

Pour into an 8×8 pan and cool in the fridge for a few hours until hard. {You can also put them in a 9×13 pan if you don’t want them as thick, or drop them onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper for cookies for quicker eating.}

Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter No-Bake Bars5

Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter No-Bake Bars6

When they are set, cut them into squares and enjoy.

Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter No-Bake Bars7

Store in the fridge.

So delicious!

What are your favorite simple sweet treats to make at home?

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Turkey Sausage Gnocchi Soup #Recipe

Turkey Sausage Gnocchi Soup

Today I am highlighting a soup I love for fall that was shared by a friend a few years ago. If you’re like me {a.k.a. a bottomless pit when it comes to food}, you may stay away from soup as a meal. I assure you, this one has enough heavier ingredients to stick to your ribs, but isn’t too indulgent in the calorie department. {If you want that, you must try my crock pot broccoli cheese soup…nom!}

I also enjoy how this soup can easily be made higher quality, or inexpensively if you are on a budget. Personally, I know I could get all these ingredients from Aldi for about $8-$10 for everything. Woohoo! With that said, if I bought fresh meat and REAL gnocchi, it could be made a little higher end. Love when recipes give my wallet some wiggle room. Since we’re approaching the end of the month here, we went the cheap route this time around ;)

Simply serve this with a French baguette slightly warm, and voila! The perfect quick and easy meal for fall.

Plus, I just love saying ‘gnocchi’ {pronounced knee-o-kie}. Isn’t that fun?!

Turkey Sausage Gnocchi Soup1

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 links turkey Italian sausage {hot is awesome! I just get the Jennie-O brand from Aldi}
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 – 16/17 oz package of gnocchi
  • 1 can of fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
  • 1 can chopped Italian-style stewed tomatoes, undrained {Or, if you only have plain tomatoes, add in 1/2 tsp of oregano}
  • Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

Remove casings from sausage. Cook sausage over medium-high heat until sausage is browned, stirring to crumble. Drain fat from the meat if needed.

Turkey Sausage Gnocchi Soup2

Add 2 cups water, soup, tomatoes and gnocchi; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 4 to 5 minutes or until gnocchi float to the top of the pan.

Turkey Sausage Gnocchi Soup3

Ladle soup into bowls; sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Turkey Sausage Gnocchi Soup4

Bonus points: My kids like it too! For my 14-month-old, I just serve the chunks without the broth so it’s easy for her to pick it up and feed herself.

Baby loving Turkey Sausage Gnocchi Soup

Victory for mommy!

Toddler loving Turkey Sausage Gnocchi Soup

Not sure what’s up with this kid and her love for soup, but I’ll take it! Even if she acts like a pirate while eating it…

What is your favorite soup recipe? I need to try some new ones this season!

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Chocolate Zucchini Cake Recipe!

chocolate zucchini cake recipe

I should just change this recipe to be called “OMG Cake with Zucchini” because LAWD. It’s sooooo good.

My mom made this cake awhile back and let me take a tiny taste of it {because she was hoarding it all for herself to freeze}. I instantly fell in love. So when my mother-in-law gave us one of the biggest zucchinis EVER from her garden, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it…Make this cake!

It’s heavenly. But once you see the ingredients, you’ll know why. It ain’t exactly healthy. But shoot, it sure beats the heck out of eating anything store-bought and processed, so I justified my many binges of eating it. Between sharing some with my neighbor and my girls, this baby was gone in a couple of days. And this is coming from a girl who really isn’t into chocolate cake generally!

So here’s the scoop on how to make chocolate zucchini cake.

INGREDIENTS
Chocolate Zucchini Cake Ingredients
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk {I just made my own by combining a 1/2 cup of milk and adding 3 tablespoons of vinegar and letting it thicken}
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 cups grated zucchini, drained overnight so less watery {I just stuck it in the food processor for the perfect consistency}
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped nuts {optional}
  • Powdered sugar {optional}
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven at 325 degrees.
Mix wet ingredients and dry ingredients separately – then put together.
chocolate zucchini cake dry and wet ingredients
Fold in zucchini, chocolate chips and nuts if desired.
chocolate zucchini cake - adding z
Pour in greased and floured pan (9 x 13 or 4 smaller loaf pans) and bake at 325 for 45 to 60 minutes {45 was perfect for me, but my oven cooks pretty fast}.
chocolate zucchini cake cooking
Pull cake out when a toothpick comes out clean.
NO frosting is necessary — it’s plenty sweet and delicious.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar when cooled.
chocolate zucchini cake
What is your favorite thing to make with zucchini?
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