Smoothie Popsicles

Ruby has been my smoothie buddy since she was around two. We don’t make them as often now that she’s in school, but these smoothie popsicles are even more fun for the kids. This is a really basic recipe using what I had on hand today, but you could make these a million different ways by switching up the fruits and juice that you use.

Whenever bananas start looking too ripe I peel them, break ’em in half, and then add them to my frozen banana collection so I always have them on hand for smoothies. We also have the best popsicle molds ever. I’m not getting paid to promote them or anything, I just love how easily they unmold and the zombies are the cutest. I will say that the swords are a tad on the phallic side (especially if you’re super immature like me) so in hindsight, we should have gone with the monster or tiki molds for our second set.

No matter what kind of mold you use I can promise that these smoothie pops will be an easy and healthy-ish treat for the whole family.

Smoothie Popsicles

Serves 4 to 6
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 2 hours
Total time 2 hours, 10 minutes
Meal type Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold

Ingredients

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 cup frozen fruit chunks
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cups fruit juice
  • 1 handful fresh spinach (optional)

Directions

Step 1
Add all of the ingredients into your blender, and pulse until everybody's incorporated.
Step 2
Puree the hell out of it until it's completely smooth. Pour into your favorite popsicle molds and freeze for a couple hours.
Step 3
Gently remove from the molds once they're set and enjoy!
Step 4
For the sword pops I used frozen mango and pineapple chunks with orange juice.
Step 5
And for these cute little zombies I swapped out apple juice for the OJ and added a handful of fresh spinach which made them the perfect zombie color.
Step 6
And for these cute little zombies I swapped out apple juice for the OJ and added a handful of fresh spinach which made them the perfect zombie color.

Christmas Snickerdoodles

Happy Holidays!

As anyone who knows me could tell you, I love this time of year! I go a little nuts, especially now that I have my little Christmas cohort Wyatt to help. We decorate, read christmas books, watch christmas movies, make crafts, and of course We Bake!

It’s become a tradition that every year for a few weeks I bake like crazy, while across town my mom REALLY bakes like crazy. Then we get together, and in one day we bag up enough cookies and candies to choke an elf! Okay well I guess it probably wouldn’t take too much to actually choke an elf, but we make and bag enough to give as gifts to: mom’s friends, our families, my coworkers, and all of Brian’s clients. If it doesn’t sound like a lot then I’ve said something wrong… it’s insane! But it’s insane in a fun way, especially since my sister Mandy, Brian, and even Wyatt have been recruited to help with the baking and bagging.

Last year I adapted my favorite snickerdoodle recipe ever so slightly to turn them into Christmas Snickerdoodles! This is Trisha Yearwood’s Snickerdoodle Recipe, and it’s absolutely wonderful! I’ve adjusted the amount of salt because I always have unsalted butter on hand so I use that in place of her salted butter, and I’ve really upped the amount of sugar used to roll them in because… well that’s what makes them so darn Christmasy!

Please make these… I promise everyone on your Christmas list will love them!

Christmas Snickerdoodles Recipe

Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold, Serve Hot
Occasion Christmas

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tarter
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 5 heaped tablespoons Christmas sugar
  • 2 heaped teaspoons cinnamon

Directions

Step 1
Let's start with the ingredient that transforms these from insanely delicious snickerdoodles into insanely delicious "Christmas" snickerdoodles!

You'll need cinnamon, red sugar, and green sugar.
Step 2
I listed 5 tablespoons of Christmas sugar to 2 teaspoons of cinnamon as the ratio for the dipping/rolling sugar mix.

This is just to give you a guideline of where to start, but please feel free to modify that. I know I always do.
Step 3
The thing is that as you start rolling the dough balls, you'll end up using up the sugar and being left with balls that are mainly rolled in cinnamon. These will taste great... however, if you want the pretty red and green cookies as your finished product, you'll need to add more sugar as you go.

By the time I've made a few batches of these back to back (as I end up doing a lot this time of year) I never know exactly how much sugar or cinnamon are in my mixes... I just keep adding both as I see fit.

I make tons of these during the Christmas season, and I've found that the sugar mix keeps great if it's stored in tupperware when you're done rolling.
Step 4
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and get ready to sift the dry ingredients.

Add in the flour, cream of tarter, baking soda, and salt to your strainer or sifter.
Step 5
Sift it all into well mixed fluffy pile, then set aside while you ready the creamy stuff!
Step 6
I always crack my eggs into a small bowl first before adding them into the mixer bowl on top of my other ingredients.
Step 7
I've gotten some weird eggs in the past, and let me say that one bad egg can waste a stick of butter faster than Paula Dean!

Stir the eggs up with a fork so that they incorporate into the dough faster.
Step 8
Add the butter, shortening, sugar, and eggs into your mixer bowl.
Step 9
Mix on medium speed for about 1 to 2 minutes.

It should look well blended and creamy.
Step 10
Scoop in about half of your dry mix.
Step 11
Mix until just incorporated, then add the other half.
Step 12
Scrape down the sides and especially the bottom of the bowl, then mix one last time for only about 5 or 10 seconds.

This dough has a perfect soft Play Doh texture, and if I weren't pregnant I'd just want to start eating it right now!
Step 13
To minimize on messy hands and fingers (which wastes more of your colorful sugar mix as it sticks to you instead of the dough) I like to roll all the dough into balls first.

I go ahead and line them up on two large parchment lined cookie sheets.
Step 14
This should make about 50 Christmas Snickerdoodles once they're all rolled out.

Now it's just a matter of getting these guys thoroughly rolled in the red and green sugar mixes... you may need to recruit help for this step.
Step 15
Aren't they adorable already?
Step 16
Pop into the 400 degree oven and bake for about 10 minutes.

When you pull them out, they should be puffed up like this.
Step 17
Let them cool for a few minutes right on the pan, and then carefully transfer them onto cooling racks to finish cooling off.
Step 18
These have become my favorite holiday cookies because they're so stinking cute,
Step 19
and insanely delicious!
Step 20
Merry Christmas!

Kale Pesto

My four year old ate a bowlful of noodles coated in kale pesto!

If that doesn’t convince you that this is a tasty way to get some raw kale into your diet, then I’m not sure what will. This is my traditional pesto recipe just replaced with kale instead of basil.

I actually love kale. It’s something that I had to talk myself into trying, but now I can’t believe how much I love it! It’s basically a nutritional powerhouse, being one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. However, as much as I may love raw kale in a nice fall salad with dried cranberries and pears, trying to talk Wyatt into eating a kale salad is laughable. Believe me… I’ve tried. He’s been blackmailed into trying small bites of raw kale before in exchange for the promise of dessert. It’s never been worth it. He takes the smallest bite humanly imaginable, shudders while he dramatically chokes it down, and then gets to eat a cookie for his trouble.

The night I made this pesto, I made sure to use a fun-shaped noodle that he hadn’t seen in awhile. I also never used the “k-word”. It was strictly referred to as “green noodles”. Dinnertime with Wyatt has become hit or miss as of late. Some nights he’ll just eat happily, and others (I’m afraid the majority) he needs to be coaxed or hounded into taking every single bite. I have to say that this was one of the easiest dinners (not to mention tastiest) in recent memory!

Please try this and let me know what you think!

Kale Pesto Recipe

Allergy Milk, Tree Nuts
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Appetizer, Condiment, Lunch, Main Dish, Side Dish, Snack, Starter
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Gourmet, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold, Serve Hot

Ingredients

  • 6 cups washed baby kale (most of a 9 oz package)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup chopped marcona almonds (or salted nut of your choice)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Step 1
Even though pesto is a raw sauce, I decided to turn the olive oil into garlic oil. It's a really easy process.

Add the 1/2c olive oil into a small saucepan, and add a tablespoon of minced garlic.
Step 2
If I'd had a fresh head of garlic I would have simply added in about 2 or 3 cloves. We always have a jar of minced in the fridge, so even though it's more to scoop out later, it'll taste just as garlic-y!

Heat over low/medium heat. Usually I say medium/low heat, but you really want to be careful not to scorch the garlic here so make sure it's set to the lower end of things for this. Give it about 10 minutes to really infuse the oil.
Step 3
Expect some bubbles the last couple of minutes, but pull it off the heat early if you think it's about to really boil! After about 10 minutes pull the pan off the heat; allow to completely cool before you add it into your pesto.

Add two overflowing cups of kale into your food processor.
Step 4
I have a mini-prep food processor, which I love, and use for almost everything. Now, however, is definitely the time for your large food processor if you've got two size options.

Look how full my larger processor is with just two cups... I can't imagine how long it would have taken if I'd had to use my mini-prep!
Step 5
Pulse kale about 4 times. Add 2 more cups kale; pulse again. Add the last 2 cups of kale; pulse again.

Here's what 6 cups of pulsed kale looks like, if you'd ever wondered.
Step 6
Add in the chopped nuts, parmesan, and lemon zest.
Step 7
Pulse about 8 times.
Step 8
Add the tablespoon of lemon juice, and pulse about 3 more times.

This smells fantastic by the way!

Now, using a slotted spoon, scoop the garlic out of your cooled oil, and add it into the pesto.
Step 9
Replace the lid of the food processor. Turn it onto the lower setting (mine has 1 or 2... I picked 1) and slowly pour in the garlic infused olive oil.

Unfortunately I'm not skillful enough to pour a steady stream of oil into a running food processor and photograph it... so here's what it looks like after adding the oil and letting the machine run for about 20 seconds.
Step 10
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add salt and pepper to taste. I added 1/2tsp salt and 1/4tsp black pepper.
Step 11
Run the processor one last time for about 10 seconds, and you're left with this beautiful pesto!
Step 12
Of course the obvious use for this is simply tossed with your favorite pasta shape of the moment...
Step 13
but you can really use as you would any other condiment. Brian's already tried it as a sandwich spread and inside burritos!
Step 14
I was thrilled that Wyatt ate up the "green" noodles without a fight, and I hope that everyone in your house is delighted with these healthy dish as well!

Beef and Black Bean Chili

With the weather beginning to cool down, I couldn’t wait to make a pot of chili! This beefy chili with black beans makes the perfect dinner or lunch on a cool October day!

I used some local grass-fed beef from my family’s favorite farm White Oak Pastures. They are really a farm that’s doing it right. They care about the welfare of their animals, and giving them a humane existence. Being a butcher, the quality of the meat that ends up on our family table is very important to me. These animals are antibiotic and hormone free, and spend their days grazing on White Oak’s lush pastures. It’s a truly inspirational place.

Wherever you get your beef from, make sure to use a cut that will braise well. I used shoulder clod, but any number of other tough cuts would work: chuck blade, chuck, bottom round, eye round, boneless short rib. I’m a fan of anything shoulder or “chuck” related for chilies like this. Just don’t get anything too tender. If you begin with a cut that’s tender to start with, it’ll overcook in the chili and actually become tough. So save the money and buy something cheap and tough!

I fell in love with the pumpkin beer that I used here. I’d never tried one before, but I’m a sucker for all things seasonal so I gave it a go. It’s smooth and light, and it worked great in the chili! Use anything you’d like to drink on the side. I also think a stout beer would work well here, because I love to use stouts in braises. If you’re not a beer drinker just use an extra cup of beef broth.

Happy fall, and I hope you love this chili!

Beef and Black Bean Chili Recipe

Meal type Lunch, Main Dish, Side Dish, Soup
Misc Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot

Ingredients

  • 2lb lean beef shoulder (in small cubes)
  • 3 cups diced onion (about one large onion)
  • 2 cups bell pepper seeded and small diced (about 2 on the larger side)
  • 1 cup poblano pepper seeded and almost minced (about 2 large poblanos)
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 can pumpkin beer (or your favorite seasonal beer)
  • 2 cans black beans (15.5 oz cans)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz can)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus another 2 tsp. later)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder (plus another 1 Tbs. later)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (plus another 1 tsp. later)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (plus another 2 Tbs. later)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • sour cream
  • sliced green onion

Directions

Step 1
I like to get everything seasoned and chopped before I start, so that I'm not scrambling around to cook and take pictures. Since you'll just be cooking without the photo shoot, you could probably get away with chopping your veggies while your meat browns.

Anyway, I'm a non-multitasking scaredy cat so I chopped my veggies first. Here's my line-up.
Step 2
I had one gigantic onion, a large and a medium bell pepper, and two large poblanos. I wouldn't get too hung up on the measurements or sizes being exact. I measured just to give you a guideline, but feel free to add more, less, or different veggies to make the chili your own!

I completely seeded my peppers.
Step 3
I'll be attempting to feed this to an almost four year old. So wish me luck, and feel free to add some seeds for extra heat in your chili.

Another thing I did to help get Wyatt to eat this was to practically mince the poblanos.
Step 4
As you chop the veggies, add them into a bowl, and top with the minced garlic.

Now is a good time to heat up 2 Tbs. of the olive oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium high heat.
Step 5
Here's the beautiful grass fed beef. This is exactly 2 pounds of shoulder clod that has been: seamed out, trimmed of excess fat, and chopped into very small cubes.
Step 6
Just so you know, my "chili-sized" small cubes are small enough that you could easily scoop up three or four pieces per spoonful.

Toss the first round of spices in with the meat: 1tsp. salt, 2tsp. garlic powder, 1tsp. cumin, 1/2tsp. cinnamon, 1/2tsp. black pepper, 1Tbs. chili powder.
Step 7
Add half of the seasoned beef cubes to your heated oil, and brown for around 2 minutes.
Step 8
After the first batch is brown, pull it to a bowl. Use a slotted spoon so that you leave all of your flavorful grease in the pan for the second round of beef.
Step 9
Now brown round two for another 2 minutes. This smells fantastic by the way! After it's brown add it to the bowl of beef.
Step 10
Add one more Tbs. of oil into the hot pan, and dump in your big bowl of veggies. Give them a good stir to get everyone tossed in the beef flavored oil.
Step 11
Cook around 8-10 minutes over the medium high heat, tossing occasionally.

Once they look softened and tasty, it's chipotle time!
Step 12
I scooped 2 heaping Tbs. right out of the can. I avoided any bigger pieces, and also made a point of getting plenty of adobo sauce in both of my scoops.

Stir those in with your softened veggies, and let that cook for a minute or so while you crack open some cans.
Step 13
Open and add:

a large can of crushed tomatoes,
Step 14
two cans of black beans,
Step 15
one can of beer,
Step 16
and two cups of beef broth.
Step 17
Stir everything together.

Add in the rest of your spices: 2tsp salt, 1Tbs garlic powder, 2Tbs chili powder, 1tsp cinnamon.
Step 18
Add back the browned beef and all of it's tasty beef juices.
Step 19
Stir everything together again.
Step 20
Realize you haven't used a big enough pot.

Dump the whole thing into the dutch oven you should have used in the first place.
Step 21
*Or you could skip that step by just using a big enough pot in the first place!

Anyway, bring the whole shebang to a boil.
Step 22
At this point the beef shoulder still needs to braise a bit. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover. Simmer for an hour stirring occasionally.

After it's cooked an hour covered, the beef should be tender enough, but now it needs to thicken up some (unless you'd like Beef and Black Bean Soup). I let mine simmer another half an hour uncovered still on medium low. Then I increased the heat to medium, and let it bubble and thicken for about 20-30 minutes.
Step 23
I strongly recommend serving this with sour cream and sliced green onion.
Step 24
Of course whatever beer you cooked with will be perfect on the side.
Step 25
If I'd had any cornbread it would have been great with this.
Step 26
But since I didn't, I just dove into the bowl!