Homemade Popsicles with Whole Fruit

Whole Fruit Pina Colada Popsicles

A few weeks ago, I got a bright idea.  I decided to make homemade popsicles with real fruit so we would always have a healthy snack around this summer.  This idea was so perfect!

There’s no end of flavors you can make and they’re all delicious.  (See the recipes below for Pina Colada Popsicles and Cherry Vanilla Yogurt Popsicles)

Whole fruit is good for you.

They’re quick and easy to make.

The molds were cheap to buy in the grocery store.

I was sure that I’d be able to resist my beloved ice cream once I had a freezer filled with homemade pops.

All of those things were true, but one.  I’ll let you guess which one.

I started by making Pina Colada Popsicles based on the recipe by Shutterbean.  I didn’t use real rum in mine, but went with imitation extract.  You can also leave out the rum flavor all together.  I also didn’t strain the popsicles before freezing.  I wasn’t concerned with making them perfectly smooth.

I really liked the Pina Colada Popsicles.  They taste like vacation and summertime.  So refreshing!

Homemade Popsicles with Whole Fruit

Serves: 10 popsicles

Ingredients
  • 1 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut in cubes
  • ⅓ cup canned coconut milk, stirred well
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. rum extract
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend till smooth.
  2. Pour into popsicle molds.
  3. Freeze until firm, 3-4 hours.

Cherry Vanilla Yogurt Popsicle

For the Cherry Vanilla Yogurt Popsicles I used a bag of frozen triple variety cherries I bought at Costco.  I envisioned the vanilla yogurt being more swirled in these, but it turned out more blended.  Next time, I think I would just stir it all together and not worry about trying to make them look pretty.

The flavor of the Cherry Vanilla Yogurt pops is wonderful.  Very cherry with creamy, sweet yogurt.  This could be breakfast!

This recipe is based on this one from Steel House Kitchen. I used Greek style vanilla yogurt instead of plain and I skipped the honey.

Homemade Popsicles with Whole Fruit

Serves: 10 popsicles

Ingredients
  • 2 cups frozen cherries, thawed
  • 1 cup Greek style vanilla yogurt
Instructions
  1. Place cherries in blender and blend till nearly smooth.
  2. Stir yogurt into cherries.
  3. Pour into popsicle molds.
  4. Freeze till firm, 3-4 hours.

As I said at the top of the post, all of the statements below are true except one.

There are more homemade popsicle variations than there are fruits.  So many to choose from!

Popsicles made with real fruit is healthy, especially if you include other healthy ingredients.

Freezer pops only take a few minutes of prep time.  Once they’re in the freezer it’s just a matter of waiting.

Decent popsicle molds are readily available and inexpensive.

For the statement that didn’t turn out to be true – Even with a freezer full of delicious, homemade popsicles I cannot give up the ice cream.  You guys, I love ice cream with a deep, deep love.  I can’t quit it!

 

via GIPHY

 

Learning to Enjoy the Good Things in Life – Plus S’mores Milkshakes

Smores Chocolate Milkshake

Back in the winter, during a big snow that confined us in the house, Jim and I decided to cash in our frequent flyer miles.  We booked a trip to Paris, France for the first week of August.  Crazy!  We’ve been gathering air miles and thinking of going to Europe for a few years now, but we kept putting it off for one reason and another.  It felt good to have the trip booked and planned.

As the trip got closer, I started to feel like maybe we shouldn’t go.  It just feels so extravagant.  Then we discovered that the dishwasher had been leaking slowly for a long time.  Long enough to ruin the cabinet next to it.

Things had to be propped up.

Kitchen without dishwasher and cabinet

I began to really wonder if we should spend the money on the trip.  We can still afford it though, and of course, it was too late to cancel anyway.  But I was having such trouble justifying the trip to myself.

I mean – Paris!  It’s a dream trip!  We aren’t celebrating anything.  No big birthdays or anniversaries.  If we wanted to get away, we could do a closer trip that’s less expensive.

Then it hit me that Paris is like those wonderful milkshakes you see on Instagram and Pinterest – the kind with a whole other dessert on top of them.  Just like those shakes, Paris is decadent and delicious and absolutely impossible to justify.

Smores Milkshake with Cookie

The thing is, why should I need to justify it to myself at all?

I realized that I have trouble accepting the really great things in life and enjoying them as they come.

I determined to change my attitude about the trip.  To stop trying to justify it and stop feeling guilty for taking a once in a lifetime trip with my husband.  Honestly it doesn’t get any better than that and I want to enjoy it fully with no guilt attached and no need to justify it.

Shortly after this epiphany, Jim had a bad bike wreck.  I got a call at 6:30am from a stranger saying he’d been in an accident and they were waiting on the ambulance.  By the time I got there, he was loaded on the ambulance, bleeding and immobilized because they feared a neck or spine injury.

He ended up having a concussion and lots of bruises, scrapes and road rash, but he’s recovering just fine.  His wreck was three weeks before our trip, but he’s going to be fine to go.

Then the air conditioner in our house stopped working.  More real life stuff coming at us.  More reasons to make me second guess taking this trip.

Milkshake jar ready

Life is messy.  But we are all prepped for this trip.  Life isn’t perfect, and waiting for the perfect time for a once in a lifetime event would be foolish.  We are ready to experience all the decadent goodness of traveling together to Paris!

Which brings me to these S’mores Milkshakes.  We consume a lot of milkshakes at our house, but they aren’t as decadent as these.  This time, I wanted to go all out!

I started with top notch ingredients.

Kroger_PromisedLand_Breyers_Summer_Milkshake_asset_1_500x500_061516_V2[2]

I popped into Kroger for Promised Land Chocolate Milk and Breyers Chocolate Ice Cream.  The actual milkshake part of this dessert has only those two ingredients.  And I have to say that this is the best chocolate milkshake I’ve ever had at home.  That Promised Land Chocolate Milk is almost like a milkshake before even adding ice cream.  It’s so good!

The S’mores part of the shake comes from prepping the jar and adding a S’mores cookie that I picked up in the Kroger bakery.

To prep the jar, I swiped marshmallow and fudge toppings inside the glasses.  More marshmallow topping rimmed the outside of the jars and dripped down in imperfect, messy streams.  I scattered chocolate sprinkles on the marshmallow topping.

Pour the chocolate milkshake into the prepped glasses.  Top with another scoop of ice cream, so that the cookie has something to hold onto.  Add whipped cream and stick the in the cookie.

Did I mention you’ll want a plate under these?  Once the cookie goes in, the milkshake will begin to overflow in a lovely, messy this-is-too-good-to-be-true kind of way!

Promis Land milk with milkshake

You need to make these milkshakes!  And when you do, think about savoring the good things in life without attaching any strings to them.  No justification.  No guilt.

Drink the chocolatey shake.  Eat the cookie.  Scrape the fudge and marshmallow from inside the glass.  Then lick the outside too!

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

Disclosure: I have written this post on behalf of Kroger, Promised Land and Breyers.  I have been compensated for this post, however all opinions are my own.

A Salad for Peace and Victory

Spinach Salad with Sweet Potatoes, Peanuts and Blue Cheese

Over the last few months, I’ve intentionally not paid much attention to the news.  Or maybe I should say, I’m very deliberate about the news and the sources I seek out.  But sometimes events happen and they demand our attention.  They come in with all the pain and confusion and helplessness attached.

There’s been a lot of that this summer.

Events that feel so big, so full of hurt and hate, that it’s hard to know how we should respond.  How can we make a difference or help in the face of such anguish and pain?

sweet potato spinach peanuts

Maybe it’s with the smallest actions that we are able to bring light to the dark world.   Maybe it starts with simple things.  Teaching our kids about people in the past who made a difference with their own quiet actions.   Gathering our family and friends around the table together.  Sharing a meal and a conversation may seem too small to matter, but I don’t think it is.

Spinach Salad with Sweet Potatoes

This salad is inspired by George Washington Carver.  Carver devoted his life to doing what he knew and loved best – growing plants.  That may seem a little too simple to make a difference, but the results of his life are dramatic.

I love the way Andy Andrews weaves George Washington Carver’s story in with several others to show us how the butterfly effect works.  Go watch that video now.  I’ll wait for you and I promise that it’s worth your time.

In 1942, George W. Carver wrote a short pamphlet titled, “Nature’s Garden for Victory and Peace”.  In it he outlines all kinds of things that can be grown in a small garden that will help feed a family.  My salad is based on a few of the things he mentions, but I’ve updated it for modern tastes and to account for buying the ingredients in a grocery.  I’m a terrible gardener.

I also flipped the name from his original “Victory and Peace” to “Peace and Victory”.  In our world today it feels like peace is the victory we need.

The recipe for the salad is below.  If you make it, talk with your family about Carver and his work with peanuts, sweet potatoes and victory gardens.  Talk about how his small actions made such a huge impact in the world.  Talk about Moses Carver and his brave action to rescue and raise the infant G.W. Carver.

Talk about Susan Carver, whose friendship with Mary overcame all kinds of things in that hate-filled world they lived in and how the seeds of that friendship between women eventually led to two million people being saved.

George Washington Carver salad ingredients

Whether you make this salad or not, do whatever it is you do best.  I share recipes.  You may help people with banking or teach kids in school or take care of sick people or…

And know that whatever you do, however small it may seem, it is making a difference for good in the world.

Keep flapping your butterfly wings!  Gather your family around the table and show them that they have butterfly wings to flap too.  If we all flap our wings enough, we’ll bring good into this hard world.

Spinach Salad with Sweet Potatoes and peanuts

A Salad for Peace and Victory

Serves: 4-6 servings

Spinach, sweet potato salad topped with peanuts and blue cheese
Ingredients
  • 1-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2-3 Tbs. olive oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 6 cups baby spinach or turnip greens
  • ¼ cup peanuts
  • ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese
For the dressing
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook sweet potatoes in olive oil in a skillet over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add diced onion and garlic to the skillet. Continue cooking about 5 more minutes until sweet potatoes are tender and browned.
  3. Make the dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients in a container with a tight fitting lid. Shake well.
  4. To serve salad, top spinach with sweet potatoes, peanuts and blue cheese. Drizzle with dressing.

 

 

 

New Feature – Eat at Home Tonight! Chicken Fiesta Skillet Meal

Quick recipe with easy shopping list to help you get dinner on the table tonight!

I’m so excited to tell you about a new feature – Eat at Home Tonight!

We’ve all had those days when dinner time is approaching and we have no idea what we’re going to make.  Time is running short, the to-do list is still long, hungry people are going to need dinner soon and we’ve got nothing.

Eat at Home Tonight!  is the answer to that.  I’ve pulled together my easiest recipes for you and added a quick shopping list all on one easy to print page.  Side dish ideas are included too, so you have a complete meal.  There will be a new meal each week.  You can even choose between the size that fits your family best – 3-4 servings or 6-8 servings.

To get yours, sign up with your email address here.

This week’s meal is 15 Minute Chicken Fiesta Skillet with Tortillas and Salad.  This recipe makes use of rotisserie chicken to keep things quick and easy.

Skillet Chicken Fiesta EAHTonight

Make dinner in just 15 minutes tonight.  Sign up here with your email and you’ll be sent the recipe + shopping list!

11 Slow Cooker Side Dish Recipes

I love my slow cooker. You can do basically everything in a slow cooker. From foods that can cook all day, to classic BBQ, all the way to even gorgeous desserts like cheesecake, the slow cooker can do it all.  Slow cookers save time and keep the house cool. And they are an awesome way to prep food for a crowd! I absolutely love using my slow cooker for gatherings. It makes my life so much easier.

SlowCookerSides

If you’ve never used your slow cooker to make side dishes, pull it out and give it a try! These 11 side dishes you can make in your slow cooker are the perfect thing. These recipes are easy to put together and are definitely crowd pleasers. They pair well with summer food and some of them are perfect for parties and holiday dinners.

11 Easy Slow Cooker Side Dishes

loaded-cheesy-potato-casserole

Loaded Cheesy Potato Casserole

honey glazed carrots in the slow cooker done

Honey Glazed Carrots in the slow cooker 

slow cooker corn casserole

 

Corn Casserole in the Slow Cooker

hashbrown casserole

 

Hashbrown Casserole in the slow cooker

Winter Squash in the Slow Cooker

Acorn or Butternut Squash in the slow cooker

homemadeapplesauceingr.jpg

Homemade Apple Sauce in the Slow Cooker 

bakedbeansdone_thumb.jpg

Baked Beans in the Slow Cooker

scalloped potatoes done

Scalloped Potatoes in the Slow Cooker

sweet potatoes and apples done

Sweet Potatoes and Apples in the Slow Cooker

slow cooked apples and butternut squash

Apples and Butternut Squash in the Slow Cooker

 

pinterestsides

Slow Cooker Beer Brats (or Italian Sausages)

Slow Cooker Beer Brats

I’m not going to lie.  I was skeptical when my sister told me about Slow Cooker Beer Brats.  I’m not a fan of beer and the thought of cooking a brat in it didn’t sound too good.

But she said they turn out so flavorful – not tasting like beer, but just so good.  The fact that they cook in the slow cooker was a plus for me too.  I love a good slow cooker recipe!

So I tried them and my sister was right.  You’ve got to make these!

We topped them with ketchup, mustard, diced onion, mild banana peppers.  I was out of relish or we would have added that too.  These brats can handle a lot of toppings.

One thing that surprised me is how the brats browed during the cook time.  I didn’t expect that since they were cooking partially submerged in the beer.

This recipe couldn’t be easier, since it has only two basic ingredients.  This is summer cooking at its simplest – 2 minute prep, slow cooker doesn’t heat up your house, go have fun while it cooks – my kind of recipe!

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

Pressure Cooker Chicken Curry

Chicken Curry in the Pressure Cooker

One of my favorite slow cooker recipes is Chicken Curry.  I’ve also made a quick skillet version of this recipe.  It’s just so good!

This time I decided to try chicken curry in the pressure cooker.  I’ve been experimenting with altering slow cooker recipes for the pressure cooker.  Over all, this works really well.

For this recipe, I started with frozen chicken tenders.  On top of the chicken, I added salsa (nearly any type will work) and curry powder.  I set the pressure cooker to high pressure for 12 minutes.  It takes around 20 minutes to reach full pressure though, so the total time for this recipe is about 35 minutes.  That’s pretty fast, especially since it started with frozen chicken.

Which method you choose – slow cooker, skillet or pressure cooker – entirely depends on the amount of time you have available and when you have that time.  If you have a few minutes to load the slow cooker in the morning, but need dinner done as soon as you walk in the door, then that’s the best method for you.  On the other hand, if you have 35 minutes to wait on dinner to cook in the evening, the pressure cooker is the way to go.

Pressure Cooker Chicken Curry

Serves: 6-8 servings

Ingredients
  • 3 lbs. boneless chicken
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 3 Tbs. curry powder
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 cups rice, cooked
Instructions
  1. Place chicken, onion, salsa and curry powder in pressure cooker.
  2. Set the pressure cooker on high pressure for 12 minutes.
  3. When the cook time is up, do a quick pressure release.
  4. Remove the chicken from the pot.
  5. Add coconut milk to pressure cooker. Stir into sauce.
  6. Return chicken to pot.
  7. Serve over cooked rice.

 

Slow Cooker Desserts Series

Slow Cooker Dessert Series

Let’s talk about dessert. You probably know that I have a huge sweet tooth, and I absolutely love having something delicious to sit down with at the end of the day. Bonus points if it includes ice cream! You also probably know by now how much I love my slow cooker.

Did you know that there are dozens of sweet, decadent desserts that you can make in the slow cooker too? I took my love of slow cookers and my love of desserts and decided to take slow cooking to a sweeter place than tacos and soups. Once I tried making dessert in the slow cooker, I was hooked. Now I’m always looking for ways to convert favorites into slow cooker desserts that I can whip up without turning my oven on at all.

I love making cobblers and crips in the slow cooker because they are super easy desserts by nature, and I like easy! You can add a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream, and it is the perfect summer treat. But there’s more to slow cooker desserts than cobblers. You can make cakes and it makes even something fancy like cheesecake in it too. There are literally so many sweets you can make in the slow cooker–and I’m excited to keep trying more things and finding new favorite treats to make in the slow cooker!

SlowCookerDessert

In the mean time, these are some of my favorite slow cooker sweets. If you’ve made dessert in the slow cooker, I’d love to hear what your favorites are!

11 Slow Cooker Desserts

  1. Pineapple Upside Down Cake
  2. Salted Caramel Cobbler
  3. Bananas Foster Bread Pudding
  4. Blueberry Crisp
  5. Chocolate Cheesecake with Pretzel Crust and Nut Topping
  6. Brownies and Cherries
  7. Apricot Crisp
  8. Chocolate Cobbler
  9. Salted Caramel Apple Cake
  10. Apple Caramel Crisp
  11. Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Caramel Sauce

plus Sweet Heat Chex Mix!

pindessertslowcooker

Vacation Food – Saving Money – Dry Ice is your Friend

Packing Food for a Family Vacation

My extended family has been vacationing together for a number of years now.  Sometimes we do Disney World, sometimes the beach, but we always use this method for bringing our food along.

I’ve updated this post, which originally was published in 2009.  The photos are not great quality.  Every year I think I should try for better pictures, but it’s vacation and I forget in the midst of all the fun.

Subtitle: How My Mom Transported 5 Dinners for 13 People from Indiana to Florida in August without Giving Anyone Food Poisoning

What? Not eat out on vacation? Who wants to cook while they’re vacationing? Probably nobody, but with a little planning making your own food on vacation can be easy and will save you hundreds of dollars. (It also helps if you have a mom who does all the work. More on that in a minute.)

I’m not going to talk about using crockpots, hotpots, toasters and coffee pots in a hotel room, although I have done that before. This info will be most useful for those of you who rent a house or cabin or if you camp. These are also great ideas if you are doing a “staycation” and want to eat at home, but keep it simple and good.

Using Dry Ice to Transport Food

My parents packed a very large cooler about 4:30am with the food, which was already frozen solid. They bought dry ice that morning. There were guidelines on the package of dry ice that said to use something like 12 lbs. for 48 hours. Because of the heat, they decided to use 20-25 lbs. of dry ice. They packed it on top of the food because cold descends. The dry ice was also wrapped in newspaper to better insulate. All the ice was gone when the cooler was opened, but the food was still frozen.

You need to know that my parents left Indiana at 4:30am on one day. The cooler was not opened until about 4:30pm the next day! That is a long time to keep food frozen in August. The cooler just hung out in the back of their van while they drove and then enjoyed a half day at Epcot. We were a bit nervous before opening it, fearing it had all rotted. But it worked!

Tip: If you can’t find dry ice, check with a local welder.  They usually have plenty and will sell it to you, although it is a good idea to check with them ahead of time to be sure they will have it for you.

Update 2016: My parents packed the cooler with the frozen food and 60 pounds of dry ice on Thursday around noon.  We didn’t unload the cooler until Saturday around noon.  Everything was still frozen and there were still pieces of dry ice.  Do be careful unloading if you have pieces of dry ice remaining.  It will burn your skin if you touch it. We used tongs to remove the dry ice, and towels to handle frozen metal pans.

I’m not sure why the amount of dry ice has increased so much since we started this. We’ve never had anything thaw before.  Maybe we’ve just gotten nervous about it?

The Menu:

There are lots of different foods you could make that could be assembly only and frozen to reduce your cooking and clean up time on vacation. These are some of the foods we made. Click the links for recipes. I took these photos with my old point-and-shoot camera.

Update 2016: This is the exact menu we ate this year (and every year).  It works for us.

Stuffed Shells

Chicken Fiesta with Black Beans

Chicken Tetrazini

Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Hashbrown Casserole

A few other tips

Make good use of foil pans and crockpot liners. They will greatly speed up the cleanup process.

We used a grocery shopping service called We Go Shop in Orlando. That saved us spending our vacation time buying perishables that couldn’t be frozen.

Update 2016: We’ve used We Go Shop a number of times. They are wonderful to work with.  I highly recommend them.

Mom also made and froze a cake, cookies, waffles, banana bread. Obviously, there was some work in planning and preparing the food, but it really paid off in the end.

Pressure Cooker Re-do – Jerk Chicken Sandwiches

Pressure cooker jerk chicken sandwiches done

The other day, I decided to alter the recipe for Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken Sandwiches with Cucumber Mango Salsa and make it work for the pressure cooker.  Honestly, I didn’t have high hopes.  I’ve been thinking that all this pressure cooking frenzy going on around the interwebs was a bunch of craziness.

And then I tried it for myself.

Now, I will say that the sandwich meat isn’t as tender in the pressure cooker, but it was still good.  The key to know which appliance to use is know what the timing of your day is like.  If you have time to put the food into the slow cooker in the morning, then that’s the way to go.  But if you have more time in the afternoon (hands on time is still short), and can wait 30 or so minutes for dinner, then the pressure cooker is your friend.

Pressure cooker jerk chicken sandwiches

I used chicken tenders that were still frozen.  I gave them set the pressure cooker for a 12 minute cook time.  The total time it took was about 30 minutes, including the time to come up to pressure, cook and pressure release.

Pressure Cooker Jerk Chicken Sandwiches

Serves: 6-8 servings

Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. frozen chicken tenders
  • 16 oz. jerk marinade
  • 1 mango
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1-2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Rolls, for serving
Instructions
  1. Place chicken, still frozen, in pressure cooker.
  2. Pour jerk marinade over chicken.
  3. Set timer on pressure cooker for 12 minutes.
  4. When cooking time is done, do a quick pressure release.
  5. Shred meat and serve.
  6. While chicken cooks, peel and dice the mango. Dice the cucumber. Toss together with lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

Related Posts with Thumbnails