Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Make Ahead Breakfast Scrambles...for the freezer!

Here's the thing.
I've been getting into a habit of eating more eggs for breakfast.  Whether it is a "dippy" {over-easy} or scrambled, I like to have a filling breakfast.  So if it's not my favorite oatmeal, then it is becoming eggs.
BUT.  One problem.  Like most households with young kids we have to exercise the Olympic sport each morning called "mad-dash-stop-dragging-your-feet-we-are-late" event.
I have a good hour to hour and a half by the time my eyelids pop open in the morning until we have to be out the door for school drop-off.  That means showering {sometimes}, breakfasts, getting dressed, feeding the baby, brushing teeth, finding bags/coats/hats/gloves {tis the season}, taking care of the dog, etc.
I'm also usually breaking up a fight or too as well.
Some mornings are easier than others as the husband is around to help {he works 2nd shift}, but some mornings he is sleeping due to working the night before and then I'm trying to do ALL OF THIS while be super-duper quiet. 
Which, let's face it, never happens in a 950 sq. ft. house with three kids and a dog.

Where am I going with this?
Well, I just don't have time to make the eggs how I want to in the morning.  Or I have to wait to do it until I get back and by then I am ravenous.
So.  {Enter light bulb moment here}.
I decided to prep all my "egg stuff" ahead of time.  I took the time to chop a veggie, brown some sausage and throw it all together for these easy breakfast scrambles.  I used this giant muffin-like tin pan I got at an estate sale once, but any muffin tin would do.
I went ahead and baked them off, let them cool, removed them from the pan and then froze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  And finally, threw them all in a freezer safe bag and forgot about them until the next morning when I exhaustedly executed another Olympic morning event.

I defrost one in the microwave for about a minute and then nuke it on a high level for another minute.  By then they are thawed, hot and ready to eat.  If I have time I'll toast a piece of whole wheat bread, slather on a bit of butter and call it good.
Whatever you like in your omelet, put into these little cups.  For this batch I added spinach, ground sausage and cheese.  Other options could be ham, bacon, peppers, onions, mushrooms, etc.

If you have rushed, busy mornings like us, then these are for you!
And if you commute to work, let them thaw out on your drive to work, then it will take even less time in the microwave once you are ready to eat.
Make Ahead Breakfast Scrambles
*makes 6 jumbo muffin sized egg scrambles
toppings of choice
6 eggs
1.  Spray non-stick cooking spray into the jumbo muffin tin and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Place toppings in each muffin tin to fill it up halfway.
3.  Crack an egg in a bowl, whisk, then pour into the muffin tin.  Repeat this 5 more times.
4.  Sprinkle each with salt and pepper
5.  Bake for 25 minutes or until puffy and eggs are set.
6.  Allow to cool, use a knife to cut around the edges releasing the eggs from the pan.  Place on a baking sheet and freeze.  To store place egg scrambles in a freezer storage bag for up to 3 months.
7.  To reheat, place in microwave and defrost for 1 minute.  Then cook on high heat for another minute.  Serve warm.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My Top 14 Stocking Stuffers for Kids {Ages 0 - 14}


Do you have the tradition of filling everyone's stocking at Christmas?  In my family growing up we always looked forward to opening our stockings first thing on Christmas morning, well before we tore into our larger gifts.
But I do know that some families don't do this - in fact when I met my husband I learned that his family doesn't do stockings.  They are missing out!
I strongly recommend starting this tradition if you haven't already.  You can go over the top and buy monogrammed stockings or simply use an old, long sock.  It is up to you.  Regardless it is fun finding little treasures, more often than not items that you would never buy for yourself, but love the idea of receiving.
Here are my Top 14 picks for 2014All items are linked for easy purchasing right here within this post.  Now is the time to buy - get it ALL DONE now!  And as most of you know me well, nothing is super expensive or outrageous.  Please note prices can vary from day to day, but should stay close to the price listed below.
Happy Shopping!
My kids LOVE the Color Wonder markets from Crayola, and as a Mom I love them too.  They only color on the special paper that it comes with, so there are no heart attacking inducing moments when your 3 year old draws on the wall.
My son has been BEGGING me for this.  He has seen the commercial on T.V. and thinks it is just the coolest thing.  And I kind of do as well?  Snacks and drinks in one cup seems pretty neat.
Every boy from the age of 2-7 needs some Hot Wheels cars.  They provide endless entertain and use of the imagination.  I keep all of ours in a big Ziploc baggie for easy storage.
If your teenagers are into reading {I sure hope they are!}, then this book light is needed.  They can read in their rooms at night or in the family room with everyone else without having to sit next to a lamp at night. 
I always kept a journal when I was younger and this one is the elite journal for kids.  It provides questions and thoughtful conversations to encourage kids to write.  A whole three years of fun!  And a great keepsake too.
Every child LOVES hot cocoa.  My two oldest feel that every time they come in from the cold they NEED hot cocoa, and I usually oblige.  There is just something warm and fuzzy about drinking the stuff.
You are not a true parent until you have kids bored in the car on long trips.  This game will entertain them and keep them away from video games for at least an hour.  Perfect for all ages!
Our 3 year old is just now getting into jewelry {fake jewelry that is...} and this organizer is ideal for kids {and adults!} to keep it all organized.  No more stepping on those darn beads.
Snacks are a must for kids.  They seem to be hunger every hour!  Having their own healthy granola bars on hand with keep them full and satisfied until dinner.  If your kids are older, try allowing them to keep them in their rooms so that the other little don't snag them.
Boy and sports?  Pretty much go hand in hand right?  These athletic socks will give them the support needed when running from one event to another.
I am in LOVE with the Philosophy brand.  I first smelled their scents at Von Maur back in college.  I am pretty sure any girl in your life will love this scent.  And how about a recipe on each bottle?  Genius!
If you have a wee little baby at home like me you may often juggle with what they should wear.  Especially during the changing seasons where it is chilly in the morning and then warms up as the day goes on.  I love putting our 6 month old in long-sleeved onesies this time of year, but her legs are still cold - these leg warmers would be perfect!
I am a BIG fan of limiting our kids television time when we are home, at least at their age when I can still control it.  I like to set our kitchen timer and rotate activities for them.  This word scramble brain game will be perfect for when they get a bit older!
And finally it isn't Christmas until you've watched the Charlie Brown Christmas.  As I type out this blog post my kids are watching the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving DVD.  A good, classic cartoon.
 I hope at least one of these 14 stocking stuffer ideas have helped you.  I'm just trying to make this holiday season a bit easier on all of you!
Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Crock Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches

I think I've spoken about this before, but when it comes to Christmas gifts I often ask for meat.  Or my husband asks for meat.  We're weird.
I'm a bit over the lavish gifts - we live a pretty simple life but I feel I have all that I need.  I have a closet full of clothes, a nice stash of jewelry, a good laptop, a nice camera...what else do I need?
I need meat.
I don't know if anyone else is in my situation, but when you cook 90% of your meals your grocery list is constantly on your mind.  What's for dinner tonight?  Did I put hamburger out to thaw?  What prepared meals do I still have stashed in my freezer?
All of this runs through my head daily {again, I'm weird}.  I've been known to ask for Target gift cards to stock up on pantry items or a Trader Joe's gift card to stock up on essentials {i.e. my love for their dark chocolate covered almonds}.  And most Christmas's the husband will ask for steaks from one of our favorite restaurants and I'll ask for different cuts of meat to stock our freezer with.
Meat is expensive!  {I'm sure you know that}.
But nothing excites me more than NOT having to put meat on our grocery list, so I can spend that money on other things.  I love having ground beef, ground pork {for these amazing egg rolls}, bacon and roasts on hand.
And just look what I used ones of those roasts for...
I made these sandwiches a week ago and I'm still thinking about them now.  This is the quintessential working mom meal to make.  It can sit in the crock pot ALL DAY LONG.  Even if you weren't home until 9 p.m. that night it would still be perfect, simmering away in all those flavorful juices.
The husband was worried they might be too 'spicy' for the kids, but our kids didn't look twice finishing off their sandwich in no time.  The pepperoncini peppers give the roast such extreme flavor.  There is a little bit of spice, but it is a good pickled kind of spice - just enough tang to make you smack your lips!

In fact these would be a good crowd pleasing meal.  It makes a lot of sandwiches!
So before I give you this recipe, a few housekeeping issues.  I'm sad to announce that ZipList is going away on or before December 10.  {This is the green 'save recipe' button you see below.}  I'm not really sure why, but I'm so very sorry for those that use it to save my recipes and keep them all neatly organized in their online directory.
You will still be able to print my recipes by clicking on the 'Print this Recipe!' icon.  Please continue using that.  Until then I will continue to look for a ZipList alternative to upload to the blog.  If you have more questions please visit their FAQ page here.  Stay tuned.
I'm working on my Cyber Monday deals for you.  Each year I compile a list of my favorite things and bring them all together for YOU.  One webpage that lists my favorites {all budget friendly!} and where you can purchase them here.
Is there something I need to put on the list this year?  Have an idea to send me?  Leave it in the comments and I'll put it on the list.
Until then, a meat lover's dream of a recipe...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Ham & Swiss Baked Penne

Let me start this post off with....our fish died.  You can read about how we got that fish here.
He lasted two weeks.  In rather inhumane conditions {i.e. mixing bowl on the counter}.  We had one child that bawled their eyes out for about 30 minutes and one child that couldn't wait to flush it down the toilet.
I'll let you guess which child is which.
Since then the mixing bowl has been washed and we have moved on.  On to our next adventure!

Let's talk this baked penne.  I came up with it one afternoon and we were eating it a few hours later.  So good! 

Growing up I remember eating hot ham and swiss sandwiches from a local fast food restaurant.  I think they still have them....and this dish makes me think of them.  Melty, gooey, goodness.  It's kinda like a mac and cheese, kind of like a carbonara.  A good mix between the two?

My kids loved this dish, as did the thighs?  Probably not.  But it is a good hearty dish to eat right about now in the Midwest {freezing cold!} or great to take to a friend that needs a pick-me-up.

It might even be a good one to take to my freezer swap next month?

And here's a thought, if you have extra turkey leftover in a couple of weeks, try replacing the ham with turkey, I'm thinking it would be just as good.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

These Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes are the perfect side dish for Thanksgiving. 
Put them on your meal plan today!
I often think you are either a garlic lover or hater.  Kinda like mushrooms.  Or cilantro.  There isn't any middle ground, you will either gladly gobble them up or your turn your nose the other way.
I've also heard of garlic being too strong for sensitive stomachs.  Thank god I don't have a sensitive stomach!
Because folks, I love garlic.  In all forms.  Freshly minced on pizza, slow simmering in spaghetti sauce, infused in oil and spread on toasted bread, and of course in these potatoes.  Roasting a head of garlic prior to putting it into a dish makes it become sweet and not as strong.
If you have tin foil, olive oil and an oven - you can do this!  Follow my simple directions found here.  Then once you have that roasted goodness, boil up some potatoes and put these on the dinner table.  Or like I said above, save for Thanksgiving!
That lovely American holiday is just a couple of weeks away.  Have you started planning your meal yet?  We will be home on the day of {the husband works}, but we will travel to my parent's on that Saturday.  So on the actual day I will probably make something simple and non-fussy.
Maybe these mashed potatoes?
We have so much to be thankful for this year.  A new, healthy, happy baby.  Two beautiful and rambunctious older children.  My husband's job that allows me to stay home and take care of these babies.  A home, albeit small and a bit outdated, that is warm and cozy.  Food on our table every night and clothes that keep us warm.
What are you thankful for this year?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Blueberry Oat Breakfast Cookies

There are days in our house where we are up well before the sun is and come 9 a.m. I look at the clock and swear it should be noon.
On those days I've found I need a pick-me-up.  The kids usually like to eat shortly after they wake-up, so if they are up at 5:30 a.m. then we are usually eating by 6:30 a.m.  After that lunch doesn't usually start until 11:30 a.m., leaving 5 hours in between.  Well, when I'm running on fumes and chasing one kid from here to there constantly, 5 hours is a long time for me with nothing in my belly.
So, I invented these cookies.  Biz, talked about making breakfast cookies a few weeks back, so I thought I'd join the craze and make some too!
And just to clarify they are called "cookies", but they do not taste like a cookie.  They are more like a dense muffin, yet in cookie form.  I did not add any sugar, so the tiny bit of sweetness comes from the banana and applesauce.
Two of these around 9 a.m. seem to do the trick of my empty belly syndrome.
We've been buying frozen organic blueberries from Aldi's, so in they went, but certainly sub in another fruit, nut or dark chocolate if blueberries aren't your thang.
After these bake, I let them cool a bit, then place the whole cookie sheet in the freezer for an hour.  Once frozen, I placed them in a freezer storage bag.  When 9 a.m. rolls around and I'm in desperate need of a {healthy!} snack I take out one or two, nuke them for 30 seconds in the microwave and gobble them down.
The nuts, oats and banana easily keep me full until lunch.  I'm down to just two left in the freezer, so making more is on my list to do.
Blueberry Oat Breakfast Cookies

Print this Recipe!

2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 c. unsweetened applesauce
2 T. chia seeds
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 c. silvered almonds
1 1/4 c. dry oatmeal
1 T. flax seed
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. blueberries

1.  In a large bowl combine all the ingredients, except the blueberries, mixing well.  The batter will be wet.
2.  Gently fold in the blueberries.
3.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a cookie sheet.
4.  Using a large cookie scoop, scoop the "dough" onto the pan, gently pressing each cookie down until it is flat.
5.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until just golden.
6.  Allow to cool before eating.  Keep on the cookie sheet if wanting to freeze, placing the cookie sheet in the freezer for at least one hour.  Remove cookies from the cookie sheet and place in freezer safe storage bags.  To eat out of the freezer, microwave each cookie for 25 seconds.

What do you eat mid-morning to tide you over until lunch?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Heath Bar Poke Cake

Sometimes in life you just need a little dessert to get you through the day.
I had one of those days this past week.  We had a few household and car issues that came up, shall we say...suddenly, which as you can imagine put me in a foul mood.  I do not like seeing hard earned money leave the bank like the next person.
Then, as I'm sure God was laughing at me from above, the kids were little demons all day.  Almost as if, let's see how much Mom can handle today.  Well, I'm happy to report we survived.
But not without this cake.

As like most women, I can be an emotional eater.  So when I get pushed to the limits in multiple ways in a short 24 hours, I bake.  It makes me feel better.  And it just so happened that some family were visiting, so we had to have dessert!

Because no meal shared with others can end on a salty note.  It HAS to be sweet.  Right?  Or is that just me?

If you are cruising around the web, there are about 1,298 poke cake recipes out there.  This one I feel is one of the originals.  At least it is the first one I remembering eating.  This version comes in as a close second {and the husband's favorite!}.

I used a gluten free cake mix as the base for this one, but you can certainly use a regular one, it doesn't matter.  Just mix and bake the cake as directed and then follow the simple steps.  Keep this in the fridge for a couple days and it only gets better!