Tag Archives: Aldi’s

Pumpkin Palooza…My grand finale: Here’s to friends and pumpkin pie cupcakes

22 Nov

I’m thankful for being able to stay connected to friends from “way back when” who are both near and far.

ORIGINALLY POSTED NOVEMBER 16, 2012

I went to a high school outside of my hometown, with kids from all over my state and a neighboring state. Therefore, I met people there I would not normally have had a chance to meet, had I attended my local high school. Upon graduation we all went our separate ways, but we always tried to keep in touch.

At first we kept in touch by letters and the occasional phone call, but today with technology the way it is, we keep in touch by email and things like Facebook as well.

We’ve attended and/or been in each others weddings, we’ve visited each other when new babies were born, and gotten together when one or another of us were in town, visiting from wherever we had now settled, and even bumped into each other at the occasional swim lesson or scouting events. Each year though, at Thanksgiving, we try to get together to share a meal, whether it’s breakfast or dinner, just to catch up before another year goes by.

The photo here is last year’s picture after our Friday after Thanksgiving breakfast. We have another one scheduled for this year. Pictured here are high school friends Lia, Jenn, Nicole and I. We missed Bethany that year but she’ll be there this year!

A delicious treat!

My friend Nicole is in the fushia sweater, and today’s recipe was posted on Facebook by her, a couple of weeks back. I printed it right away but I only just got the chance to make it this week. She wrote that she’d made these pumpkin cupcakes by Baker Chick for all of the teachers at her school where she is the school librarian. I bet they loved them! I know I did! They got thumbs up from almost everyone here at our house, and I thought they were even better the second day; just like a slice of pumpkin pie in a cupcake wrapper!

The recipe states that these cupcakes puff up when cooked and then shrink back down, which is exactly what they did. Baker Chick also says that the fact that they shrink down is great because it gives you the perfect place to squirt some whipped cream, and she was right about that as well.

This was an easy recipe and didn’t take too long. I found my cook time to be slightly longer than the 20 minutes stated, but I just kept checking them every 2-3 minutes til they were done.

I hope you get a chance to try these out this week! Thanks to Nicole for sharing, I’ll see you soon! Thanks to Baker Chick for a great recipe!

Two bowls, simple ingredients.

PUMPKIN CUPCAKES
INGREDIENTS

2/3 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 15-oz can pumpkin puree

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup half and half

 

Cupcakes puff up when they’re first cooked….

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or silicone liners. *If using paper liners, lightly coat them with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice.

In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and half and half until well combined.

Add in dry ingredients and whisk until no streaks of flour remain and batter is smooth.

Distribute batter evenly in the muffin tin. (they should be about 3/4 of the way full.)

Bake for 20 minutes. Cool cupcakes in pan. (They will sink as they are cooling.)

Chill cupcakes before serving. Top with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

…..and shrink down when cooled.

Makes 12

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Fun Friday: Cook once, eat twice. After school snacks and breakfast

26 Sep
These were healthy and a huge hit. Definitely a keeper.

These were healthy and a huge hit. Definitely a keeper.

ORIGINALLY POSTED SEPTEMBER 13, 2013

Cook once, eat twice.

I love that old adage. You cook once, and live on the leftovers. Or, you make double, since you’re cooking anyway, and have twice as much.

Either way, I like it.

I’ve been living on that theme all week long.

I’ve been a cooking machine this week, in between my own work hours, trying to deal with our crazy school year schedules, and making sure that we maintain a healthy eating lifestyle at the same time.

Really, just making sure everyone’s got something to eat when it’s time to eat.

However, one thing I really enjoy doing is making great after school snacks for my kids whenever I can. Everyone has something that makes them happy, and I think I’ve inherited my grandparents’ genes. My dad always said that my grandmother was happiest when everyone was eating.

If everyone is eating, they’re happy, and that makes me happy.

To me, as a mom, there is nothing more special than the moment the kids walk in the door from school. They’re tired, they’re hungry, they’ve got more work to do or places to go, but the look on their faces when they smell a snack fresh out of the oven or see it on the table is priceless to me.

I feel like I have the ability to make their day, every day. Or almost every day. I do the best I can. Later on in life, I want their memories of their school years to include coming in from school, and finding me there with something tasty for them to snack on. Some days I’m not even there, my schedule is not always consistent, but I’ve left them a tasty snack and a note on my way out the door.

To me, it’s things like that which make all the difference.

Everyone loves these whether for breakfast or after school or a meal on the run.

Everyone loves these whether for breakfast or after school or a meal on the run.

Additionally, I try to think smarter these days. If I’m going to make an after school snack, I might as well make enough of it to last for more than just one afternoon. I have tried to make things that can be used either as lunchbox snacks or as breakfast the next day.

These little mini quiches, or however you’d describe them, make a great after school snack. They’re healthy and you can make all different varieties to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. This time I did tomato/egg/cheese, spinach/egg/cheese and just plain egg/cheese. Fifteen eggs made 16 good-sized cups.

They were a snack and they’ve been breakfast or lunch throughout the week as well.

The pumpkin muffins, pictured above, I doubled the recipe to make twice as many. They served as an after school snack, breakfast the next day and a lunchbox snack the day after that.

If I’m going to work hard, I might as well get the mileage out of my efforts.

On that same afternoon this week as the pumpkin muffins, I also made a big batch of homemade applesauce. If I’m going to stand there and peel three pounds of apples, I might as well peel six pounds (although I have to stop there or my hand aches from all the peeling and slicing).

I used one batch in a recipe that night, froze two batches in my freezer for future use, and had some leftover to serve on the side with dinner as well. There’s nothing like homemade applesauce, especially in the fall in New England.

Today, I’m going to share with you the recipe I found for these delicious pumpkin muffins. Note that the recipe calls for mini chocolate chips. I don’t *do* mini chocolate chips. If I’m going, I’m going all the way so mine had regular-sized chips. Otherwise, the recipe I made was the same, just doubled.

This recipe is not my own. Thanks to Skinnytaste.com for posting such a wonderful snack and breakfast! It got all thumbs up at our house and we’d definitely make these again!

If I'm going to spend the time, might as well make it worth my while.

If I’m going to spend the time, might as well make it worth my while.

Skinny Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Skinnytaste.com
Servings: 14  • Size: 2 mini muffins  • Old Points: 3 pts • Weight Watcher Points+: 4 pt
Calories: 160 • Fat: 5 g • Carb: 27 g • Fiber: 2 g • Protein: 2 g • Sugar: 18 g
Sodium: 118 mg • Cholest: 0 mg

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (King Arthur)
  • 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour (King Arthur)
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 tbsp virgin coconut oil (or canola)
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • baking spray
  • 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a mini muffin tin with paper liners and lightly spray liners with oil for easy removal.

In a medium bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking soda, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and salt with a wire whisk. Set aside.

In a large bowl mix pumpkin puree, oil, egg whites and vanilla; beat at medium speed until thick. Scrape down sides of the bowl.
Add flour mixture to the wet mixture, then blend at low speed until combined; do not over mix. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared muffin tin and bake on the center rack for 22 to 24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let them cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 28 mini muffins or 14 regular sized muffins.

Fun Friday: Baked Oatmeal: It’s not just for breakfast

6 Jun
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I’d eat this for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

ORIGINALLY POSTED MAY 10, 2013: The other day I came across a great new recipe for baked oatmeal. It was on Skinnytaste.com, a blog I follow on Facebook. I love all kinds of oatmeal from steel cut to overnight to baked.

This recipe also had a fruity combination that I love: strawberry and rhubarb. I didn’t have rhubarb, but I noticed that it had bananas in it, and strawberry and banana is another top favorite combination of mine so I decided to make it without the rhubarb.

Besides the fact that I skipped the rhubarb, the other thing about this recipe is that I made it as an after school snack, not for breakfast! It was so good, and everyone had seconds, everyone loved it and there was very little left over.

I would definitely make this recipe again and if I had rhubarb, I’d throw it in there, but it was also fine without!

Without further ado, here, from the Skinnytaste Blog
For the fruit filling:

  • 2 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 3/4 cup rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium ripe banana, sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup honey
This snack was quick to put together with simple ingredients.

This snack was quick to put together with simple ingredients.

For the Oats:

  • 1 cup uncooked quick oats (use GF oats if Gluten Free)
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 3/4 cup fat free milk (or any milk you desire)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Lightly spray a 9 x 9″ ceramic baking dish with cooking spray; place banana slices on the bottom of the baking dish and set aside.

Combine the strawberries and rhubarb in a large bowl. Add honey, sprinkle with cornstarch and toss until fruit is well coated and place in prepared baking dish over the bananas.

In a medium bowl, combine the oats, half of almonds, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt; stir together.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining honey, milk, egg, and vanilla extract, then add to the oats.

Pour the oat mixture over the strawberries and rhubarb, making sure to distribute the mixture evenly.  Sprinkle the remaining almonds over the the top.

Bake the oatmeal for about 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the oatmeal has set. Serve warm from the oven.

Fun Friday: Our new after school snack obsession: Flatbread Pizzas

27 Sep
My impulse purchase earlier this week has led to some fun after school snacks this week!

My impulse purchase earlier this week has led to some fun after school snacks this week!

It all started earlier this week when I went grocery shopping on an empty stomach.

That’s the worst.

In this case though, it benefited us in that it led to the greatest after school snack experimentation!

While I was at Aldi’s, I found flatbread in their “Fit and Active” line of healthier foods. I was intrigued. One was “original” and one was multigrain and contained flaxseed. Both were reasonably priced and I was pretty hungry so even plain flatbread sounded delicious.

Well, as I walked through the store, I saw some good-looking plum tomatoes and I put them into my carriage also. Seeing them, alongside my flatbread, reminded me of an old Pampered Chef pizza recipe we used to make that had ricotta cheese mixed with Parmesan cheese, topped with sliced plum tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.

I decided that with my new flatbread and tomatoes, along with the nonfat ricotta and mozzarella cheeses I had at home, I would make a variation of that for my lunch. And I did. I cut up two plum tomatoes, spread a little tomato sauce on my flatbread, and layered on my toppings. About 10 minutes under the broiler on low, and I had my lunch.

This was my lunch that day, and the leftovers were just as good!

This was my lunch that day, and the leftovers were just as good!

When the girls arrived home later on, they asked me what was mysteriously wrapped up in foil in the fridge. When I showed them my leftovers, they wanted a flatbread pizza for their after school snack. So I sliced up some more tomatoes, some olives and used the rest of my sauce and mozzarella cheese to make one for them.  The entire snack took less than 15 minutes to prep and broil and even less than that to eat.

They loved it!

The following day, my wheels were turning. I remembered a dessert pizza that I had at a restaurant a while back and I decided to make a dessert pizza for the kids based on another recipe I’d seen floating around Facebook lately.

With Elizabeth helping me, I took a flatbread,we  spread some peanut butter on it, layered sliced green apples on top of that, and drizzled caramel over them. A sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar over the whole thing, and under the broiler it went.

Our first dessert pizza of the week.

Our first dessert pizza of the week.

DELICIOUS.

Our creative juices were flowing. The next day I made them a peanut butter and Nutella pizza with sliced bananas on top.

As they were eating that one, they came up with the next one: S’Mores flatbread pizzas: Nutella and marshmallows. When I told my friend Gina, she suggested crushing up graham crackers and sprinkling them on the top. What a great idea! For dinner that night, her family was having chicken and broccoli flatbread pizzas.

I was adding that one to my list.

Elizabeth has already requested flatbread pizzas to be added to our lunchbox rotations. As quick as they are to make, I could easily make them up ahead of time and send them in for lunch. Obviously the dessert pizzas would not be our lunchbox pizzas, but they do have their place!

I’m excited for this newest snack option. It gives us some fun and some variety in our choices, and that’s always a good thing! I encourage you to see how many different variations you could come up with!

Another keeper!

Another keeper!

Fun Friday: Is it a cupcake or a muffin? You decide!

20 Sep

Looks like a muffin, tastes like a cupcake. What was I serving my family for breakfast?

ORIGINALLY POSTED OCTOBER 26, 2012:

This summer, one thing I wanted to do was try out some of the recipes I’d pinned on Pinterest. Today’s recipe post is one of those. I figured that if it was good, I’d post it for one of my fall/pumpkin themed posts.

Which I am, today.

But I don’t know what it is.

A muffin maybe.

Or a cupcake possibly.

Pumpkin, for sure.

I’ve seen this recipe all over the internet and Pinterest, and it’s touted as being fast, easy, tasty and a good Weight Watchers snack even.

Two ingredients for today’s muffins. Cupcakes. Whatever they are.

This recipe has two ingredients:

Cake Mix
15 ounces of pumpkin

Mix, bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
Try them and let me know what you think! Are they a cupcake or a muffin? Are they truly healthy? No eggs, no oil or butter.

Do you sprinkle them with powdered sugar like a muffin or do you put frosting on them like a cupcake?

Muffin?

Cupcake?

Breakfast?

Or dessert?

You try them and let me know what you think!

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Anything I can crock pot

11 Sep
On the table and ready to eat!

On the table and ready to eat!

It’s back to school time.

Back to sports time.

Back to scouts time.

And of course, back to work time.

That makes cooking dinner time quite complicated.

This fall, for the first time, everyone’s every thing is on every night, with pick ups and drop offs in and around dinner time.

Most nights we can eat together but most nights there is going to be no one home to cook.

As I looked at my schedule for the next eight weeks, I knew I had to come up with a solution, and fast. If I could figure out how to get everyone everywhere and home again, I needed to have a meal waiting when we got here. Eating together is really important to us, and so is eating a home-cooked, healthy meal.

Around the same time I was contemplating my fall schedule dilemma, a friend of mine, Gina, forwarded me a link to the blog whoneedsacape.com, Specifically, to the 40 Meals/Four Hours recipe collection.

I was sold. It looked like exactly what I needed–the ability to prep meals way ahead of time and cook them while I was gone on the days that I needed them. It almost sounded too good to be true.

Very rarely have I found a crock pot meal that we all like, that I’d want to make again. But, with so many options to choose from–more than a dozen recipes, all of which could be prepped ahead, it was worth a try.

I decided that rather than prepping several sets of any one recipe, I’d instead go through the list, see what sounded like things my family might like, and try each one just once. If they were successful, then I’d prep more of the ones we liked for the future.

Elizabeth happened to be around when I first received the link. We clicked through and looked at every photo, every recipe. We came up with a list of those we wanted to try. It seemed doable.

This week alone, I’ve got several of these recipes on my list to try out. The very first one, made on Monday night, was a keeper, according to my family. As I try each one, they’ll appear on future “What’s For Dinner Wednesday” posts if they’re deemed worthy by my family.

Maple Dijon Chicken was the one I chose to try out first. I opted to switch out the chicken thighs that it called for, switching in boneless, skinless breasts instead.

The recipe was simple and quick to prep, which I liked. I could have prepped it ahead and froze it, but this time I didn’t need to. I had some time in the morning to do it. The house smelled great all day long! I love that about crock pot cooking!

Here is the recipe as found on Who Needs A Cape.com, with my few modifications. Give it a try and see what you think! I served ours with brown rice and veggies on the side. Thumbs up all around!

Throw it all in the crock pot and turn it on!

Throw it all in the crock pot and turn it on!

MAPLE DIJON CHICKEN

Ingredients

  • 6-8 Chicken thighs  (I used boneless, skinless breasts, thawed.)
  • 1/2 C Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 C Maple Syrup
  • 1 T Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1 can of Sliced Mushrooms, drained* (I used fresh mushrooms.)
  • 1 onion sliced*  (I used half an onion.)

Instructions

  1. Spray crock pot with non-stick cooking spray
  2. Place chicken in crock pot
  3. Mix together mustard, syrup, vinegar and pour over chicken
  4. Top with mushrooms and sliced onion
  5. Cook on low for 6 hours

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Tracey’s Pork Schnitzel

7 Aug
This was a delicious new meal for us!

This was a delicious new meal for us!

My mom discovered the Tracey’s Culinary  Adventures blog several months ago and since then she has tried some of her recipes. When she loves them she passes them on to us. Tracey also happens to be a local blogger so I enjoy sharing her blog with others.

Today’s recipes is one of those that my parents tried and loved, and sure enough we loved it too.

When my they tried Tracey’s Pork Schnitzel, they made just one change. Here is what my mom wrote to me:

“We tried this tonight and thought it was a winner. The only thing we did different was to deglaze the pan with white wine and lemon juice once the pork was cooked and out of the pan. Then we poured that “sauce” over the pork.” 

Don did the same thing when he cooked our meal and it was wonderful. I served this with couscous, homemade applesauce, and sauteed green beans. I’d definitely make it again. We actually purchased thin cut pork chops from Aldi’s so we didn’t need to pound ours at all.

Tracey’s blog is full of great recipes and I encourage you to check it out!

Here is the recipe as she has it on her blog. She had taken it from the May 2013 issue of Cooking Light magazine:

Pork Schnitzel
from Cooking Light, May 2013

4 (4 oz) boneless center-cut pork chops
1/4 cup milk (I used 1%)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Using a meat mallet (or whatever you have – a skillet or rolling pin would be fine), pound each of the pork chops until they are 1/8-inch thick.

In a wide, shallow dish, beat the milk and egg with a fork until combined. In a second dish, stir together the breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic powder, and pepper. Season the pork chops on both sides with the salt. Dip in the egg mixture, coating both sides and letting the excess drip off, then transfer to the breadcrumb mixture, covering each side with an even layer.

Set a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and heat until shimmering. Place two of the pork chops in the pan and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, or until the coating is golden brown and the pork is cooked to your desired doneness. Transfer the pork to a plate and tent to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining tablespoon of oil and the remaining two pork chops.