Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Week in Photos

Ever wonder who the blogger is behind the blog?  Me too.  I like to stalk my favorite pages and wonder...what do they do on Friday nights?  Do they really eat like that everyday?  Are their kids well behaved?

People are naturally curious.  I'm not an exception.  Because of this I have decided to show you a bit behind the scenes action in photos.  Take a gander.  You'll see me at ballgames, weddings, preschool graduations and of course...eating during these past two weeks.  

And if you are not a photo-behind-the-scenes type of person, don't worry, I'll be back later in the week with a spicy, cheesy queso dip.

It's worth waiting for.

My big guy up to bat.

My first round of golf after WAY to long of a drought.

The gorgeous farm scene on my morning walk.

Snuggling with my birthday girl.

Cop wives at yet ANOTHER wedding this year.

Ball practice, lotion rubbing, lazy gazing.

Learning to read.  Such a joy to watch.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Lemon Ricotta Blueberry Pancakes

These pancakes are bursting with fresh flavors!
Limoneira lemons provide the tartness, while the the ricotta balances out the flavors.

lemon ricotta blueberry pancakes (

When a lemon company from California approaches you and asks if you want fresh lemons, you say YES!

That is exactly what happened last month when Limoneira contacted me.  I live in the Midwest, lemons are ONLY found in the grocery store.  We have apple trees, pear trees, cherry trees, even peach trees, but we do not have lemon trees.  In fact, I've never even seen one in person {I really need to get out to California again}!

So, yes, Limoneira, please send me a box of your fresh lemons to my doorstep and I'll be happy to create a recipe around your gorgeous fruit.

This produce company has been around since 1893 {also producing avocados, oranges, cherries and more}.  Can you believe that?  Such a testament to their beliefs and standards.

It was a good day when those beauties arrived.

lemon ricotta blueberry pancakes (

One day after I dropped the kids off at school I got busy on these flapjacks.  Can I just say juicing a fresh lemon is so easy?  I'm used to the ones at the store that are hard and I have to roll around on the counter for an hour to get their juices flowing....not these!

I decided to pair the tart lemon taste with blueberries, because, well lemons and blueberries go together like ham and cheese, it just fits.  But lemons and blueberries can crack a punch of tartness so to even that out I added ricotta cheese to the batter.

Ricotta is creamy and smooth and easily blends out the flavor of the bright fruit.  This all can together perfectly!

lemon ricotta blueberry pancakes (

I made a double batch of these fully knowing I didn't have my prime blueberry pancake eater in the house at the time {my 6 year old}.  Not leaving some for him would be like taking away his the extra batch got a quick freeze on a cookie sheet and then thrown into freezer bags for future breakfasts.

And here, writing this post, a few weeks later, those delicious pancakes are GONE.  As soon as he found out about them, they were his breakfast staple for about 4 days straight.

Who can blame him!

One week after I made these we had some family over for our youngest birthday and I have six precious lemons left in my box.  I was like a hoarder waiting for that perfect moment to use them again.

Easy peasy.  Freshly squeezed lemonade folks!  This recipe for my Refreshing, Simple & Homemade Lemonade is the grand daddy of them all.  We love it.  It's sweet, but not overly sweet like store bought versions.  Bookmark this one for summer my friends!

And then my lemons were gone {enter in sad face}.  A big, HUGE, thanks to Limoneira. They were fabulous to work with and their produce is stellar.

Road trip to California anyone?

Lemon Ricotta Blueberry Pancakes

2 c. flour
4 t. baking powder
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 c. whole milk
2 large eggs
2 t. vanilla
juice of two lemons
1 T. lemon zest
1/2 c. ricotta cheese
1 c. fresh blueberries

1.  In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients.
2.  In another bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and zest.  Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture stirring until just combined.  Add in the ricotta and stir.
3.  Heat a large griddle pan to medium-high heat coating with non-stick cooking spray.  Working in batches spoon batter onto the griddle sprinkling with 4-5 blueberries each.  Flip once bubbled from on the batter, then cooking another minute on the flipped side.
4.  Serve warm with melted butter and maple syrup.

lemon ricotta blueberry pancakes (

Interested in some of my other delicious pancake recipes?  Yeah, met too - sometimes I forget about them!  Here you go.

Follow Limoneira on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Campfire S'mores Bars

The unofficial start of camping season is near!
Bake up these Campfire S'mores Bars and bring them along for the ride.

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I'm ready for summer.

But you see I'm a little nervous about having all three kids underfoot.  My six year old stands up to my chest already.  He's a big boy with a LOT of energy at times.  He jumped on my back the other night while I was sitting on the floor and I thought the house had fallen down on me.

My middle child who just turned five is a rock star in her own right.  Yesterday was typical.  Finding her climbing the counters, letting her two year old sister out of the front door, not listening to me until I say it four times in a get the picture.

Then my youngest.  She just turned two.  She's the baby.  She is attached to my hip and loves these two siblings of hers to pieces.  To the point of wanting to do everything they are doing, even when it isn't age appropriate.

I will actually have to CARE FOR ALL OF THEM ALL DAY LONG in less than a week. School will be out and they will need things to do.  I already have a bin full of stuff ready to go.  I've lined up play dates.  I've even struck a deal with a friend for us to swap kid sitting services here and there {you know, so us mamas can survive the summer}.

campfire s'mores bars (

I'm wondering if week two will come along of summer vacation and the husband will find me face planted in these bars when he walks in the door.

I've talked about it before.  The kids wear me out and I like to bake something weekly.  So inevitability I'll be passed out in a pan of "something" before summer's end.  I'm hoping it are these. When I dreamed up this bar summer was on my mind.

Lake days, sunscreen, farmer's markets, popsicles, dinner on the grill, long walks, lazy nights and fun desserts.  Always, always dessert.

I love me a good s'more.  And sitting around the campfire {minus the smell on my clothes and hair later}.  The crunchy graham cracker, the melty chocolate and the ooey gooey marshmallow.  It really is the perfect combination.

My family loved these {but let's be honest, who wouldn't love any dessert when you have someone baking for them weekly, come on}.  

If you are a camper - these need to make the trip!  I am not a camper, not in the least, but I have a feeling that they would be a hit.

Campfire S'mores Bars

7-8 graham crackers
10 oz. bag of mini marshmallows
2 eggs
8 T. softened butter
1/2 c. milk
2 t. vanilla
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 t. salt
2/3 c. cocoa powder
2 c. flour

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 baking dish.
2.  Lay the graham crackers on the bottom of the pan in a single layer.
3.  In a small saucepan melt together the butter and cocoa powder until dissolved/combined. Remove from the heat and add in the vanilla.
4.  In a stand mixer combine the flour, sugars and salt.  Add the melted chocolate into the dry ingredients and start to combine.  Add in the eggs.  The batter will be thick.  Add in the milk to help loosen.
5.  Spread the batter over the graham crackers, spreading to make a smooth layer.
6.  Bake for 25 minutes.
7.  Layer on the marshmallows and place back in the oven for 3-4 minutes or until they just start to melt.
8.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
9.  To cut cleanly, use a long, sharp knife and run it under hot water before cutting each slice to prevent the brownie from sticking to the knife when cutting.

campfire s'mores bars (

And hey!  Share this recipe with your friends!  On whatever social media outlet that tickles your fancy.

Sharing is the only way my blog gets around.  Without you guys, my readers, I work for free {well, I kinda do anyway}, but you get the picture.  I want to keep doing this, it's fun!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Italian Chicken & Spinach Bake

People love casseroles!
This Italian Chicken & Spinach Bake is easy and tasty.

italian chicken and spinach bake (

The month of May is already half gone and I have no idea what I did two days ago, let alone the start of the Month.  I'm not sure if it is the Spring weather, but I am feeling like every stinking day is flying by me at warp speed.

From the month my eyes dart open in the morning, we are scrambling from here to there and when evening comes I'm beat.  Often sitting down for the first time when all the kids are in bed.  School, youth group, t-ball, appointments, errands they all seem to pile up and keep me going from one hour to the next without so much as blinking in between.

Anyone else feel this way?

In between all of this, the husband tore off our old deck and has since replaced it with a brand new one.  The past three weekends in between events he's been working on this darn thing and at this point we are 95% done.  Yippee!

italian chicken and spinach bake (

I usually have three precious hours in between the first school drop off and my first school pick up {preschool}, during this time I try, really, really, hard to get dinner prepped.  If I don't the day gets away from me and come dinner time I'm not prepared.

This casserole is super, super easy to throw together and minus a bit of Parmesan cheese and cream cheese, it is fairly healthy {and by healthy I mean it has vegetables and it's not drowning in cheese}.  The husband LOVED it.  And the kids both had two helpings.  In my book I call that a WIN.

I made it ahead, threw it in the fridge and baked it off while I took the kids to t-ball practice and the husband stayed home with the little one {who by the way, turned 2 on Saturday!}

If you aren't following me on Instagram, START!  You can see her cake HERE.

italian chicken and spinach bake (

Can I say something?  Don't be afraid to throw fresh spinach in all baked pasta dishes. There really is no taste {if you aren't a fan} and once the kids get used to mom putting the green stuff in things, pretty soon they won't even notice.

At least mine don't.

Make this dish up on a Sunday for Monday night's dinner.  Or for a friend in need or a good comforting meal.  Or if you are single or just a couple make it in ramekins and portion it out into small meals for the week!  I use these and they work perfect.

Italian Chicken & Spinach Bake

8 oz. rigatoni pasta
3 c. diced cooked chicken breasts
4 oz. chive and onion cream cheese
3 c. fresh spinach
1/2 onion, finely diced
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes in Italian seasonings
1 c. fresh Parmesan cheese

1.  In a stock pot, boil rigatoni in salted water according to directions.
2.  In a large bowl combine the diced chicken, spinach, cream cheese, diced tomatoes, onion and half of the Parmesan cheese.  When the pasta is done combine into this bowl and stir to coat the pasta.
3.  Pour into a greased 9x13 baking dish and top with the remaining Parmesan cheese.
4.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until just golden brown.

italian chicken and spinach bake (

I've got a TON of other comforting pasta bakes.  Here are some of our favorites!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Homemade Yogurt Pops

This DIY post is kid approved!
Homemade Yogurt Pops are fun, delicious and healthy.

*This post does contain affiliate links

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Sometimes I think I deprive my kids.

I don't buy them Lunchables.  Or sugary crap cereals.  Or Pop Tarts.  Or even juice.  Please don't feel sorry for them.  They eat well.  I make plenty of desserts around this house for them to not feel out-of-the-loop, they just tend to be homemade.

Just today I made a big 'ol batch of blueberry pancakes and on Sunday the kids and husband made ME a boxed yellow cake with the most delicious canned chocolate frosting {hey, sometimes it's just easy}, so it is not like we aren't eating our fair share of sugar.

But I do get the occasional, "Moooooooooom, so and so had a juice box in their lunchbox today!". That comes from my kindergartner.  Or, "Moooooooooooom, why don't you buy Oreos for my lunch?"

I just can't do it.  I can't get myself to buy the stuff.  Not that I don't let them eat it.  They do. In fact, I do like the convenience of it all, I just can't seem to put it in my grocery cart, unless it is a very special occasion.

So.  I was feeling sorry for my kids about a month ago.  My preschooler asked why we never have popsicles in the house.  I didn't really have an answer to give her other than, we just got out of winter and it hadn't crossed my mind.  Plus, they are not something I ever crave.

So like any typical American I hopped on Amazon and searched about making my own, because I can never do anything easy.

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I remembered my friend Kristen writing a post at least a year back about making her own kiddie pops and finding some reusable bags on Amazon {because you know you can find anything there}.

These bags are pretty awesome!

You can purchase 36 Zipzicle resuable popsicle bags for just $6.99.  It really is quite a steal. I've made two batches so far and they've worked awesome.  Having a skinny funnel or a turkey baster to fill them is almost necessary though...I will say my 6 year old and I may have got in a bickering match trying to fill them without.

Just saying.

Until he said, "Mom, don't you have something to FILL THEM WITH?"

Ha.  He's smarter than me.

homemade yogurt pops (

My kids have asked for one of these each day since I made them for their after school snack. Now that the weather is finally warmer, it truly does feel like popsicle weather!

Plus, I can tell them to eat them outside and I get a good 10 minutes of reprieve....

I made two versions, but really you can make whatever flavor your kids {and you!} like.  With a bag of frozen cherries in my freezer I made a Cherry Yogurt Pop and I had some fresh pineapple to use up along with a brown banana so that batch became a Pineapple Banana version {my favorite}.

If you have kids, you've got to purchase these Zipzicle bags and make these for your kids this summer.

Homemade Yogurt Pops

Print this Recipe!

2 c. fresh or frozen fruit
1 c. plain Greek yogurt
2 T. honey
splash of milk

1.  In a blender combine the fruit, yogurt, honey and a splash of milk.  Blend on high until all pureed and combined.
2.  Using a small mouthed funnel or turkey baster carefully fill the Zipzicle bags and seal.  Lay flat on a baking sheet and place in the freezer to freeze.
3.  Once frozen take off the baking sheet and keep in the freezer until ready to eat.
4.  After eating one, rinse out the bag with warm soapy water and place over a drying rack to dry.
5.  Each batch makes between 6-8 yogurt pops.

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Have you found any other fun Amazon products I need to try?

I'm all ears!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Cake Mix Cookies

 This easy cookie recipe is a keeper!
Who knew a yellow cake mix could do half the work?

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Hey y'all!

Happy Mother's Day!  I hope you are spending time with those special ladies in your life and if you are a mom giving yourself a bit of a break as well.  To be honest, I hope you are waking up to breakfast in bed, a clean house and a much deserved uninterrupted nap in the afternoon.

Or are those just three things I want?

Anyway, cherish those moms out there...we truly do have THE hardest job on the planet {in my opinion}.

In true mom style, I baked these cookies last week when I was frantically throwing together bake sale items for my son's school fundraiser.  You know how you volunteer for something a month ahead and then the day before remember and then you're scrambling to get your act together?

Yeah, that was totally me.

cake mix cookies (

It was a week that everyday I was thinking it was the day before.  You know, in my head I think it is Wednesday, when really it is already Thursday.  So I felt like I was playing catch up all week.

So once Thursday rolled around {and I finally figured out it really was Thursday}, I flew into a bit of a panic remembering I needed two dozen cookies and two "cake walk" items by the next day.  Ugh. Some weeks I am over the top organized to the point of being obsessive and then some weeks I'm a hot mess.

It was a hot mess kinda week.

But then I remembered these cookies.  I remember my cousin's wife making them years ago and thinking that sounds so easy!  I love that short cut!  It had been years since I had tasted one, but I remembered THEY WERE GOOD.

And everyone loves a simple, short cut, right?

cake mix cookies (

By using a boxed yellow cake mix to take the place of the usual flour/sugar/baking soda combo, you do take out a bunch of dry measuring steps.  Not that doing it the old fashioned way takes a ton of time, but sometimes it's just easier to grab and mix and go.

I have other chocolate chip cookies that have gone bonkers on this blog.  This Oatmeal Chocolate Chip version is fun and my Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Yogurt Cookies always have people wanting the recipe.

Let's be honest, who doesn't like a chocolate chip cookie?  Any version?

Cake Mix Cookies

1 boxed yellow cake mix
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a large baking sheet.
2.  In a microwave safe bowl melt the butter, then allow to slightly cool.
3.  Pour the melted butter in a larger mixing bowl and then add in the cake mix, eggs and vanilla.  Stir to form a thick batter.
4.  Fold in the chocolate chips.
5.  Using a cookie scoop, place rounded scoops on the baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.
6.  Serve warm or place in an airtight container to stay fresh.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Overnight Nutella Cinnamon Rolls

Make the night before...bake in the morning!
Overnight Nutella Cinnamon Rolls need to be on your brunch menu.

overnight nutella cinnamon rolls (

Unfortunately, I have a sweet tooth.

It’s fortunate when asked to bring a dessert to an event {hello, I have a million to choose from}, but it is seriously unfortunate when you come home with leftovers. I try hard to have others take them from me. This past weekend I left a bag of cookies at a friend’s house on purpose just so they wouldn’t tempt me at home.

I would eat one after each meal!

My brother and sister are the same way. My mom is a great baker. She can flat out beat anyone in a taste test when it comes to cakes, cookies, cheesecakes, brownies, the list goes on and on. So we grew up with it. Desserts are in our blood.

We live and breathe for celebrations when a dessert is served {umm, hello, most meals if we have the choice}. And do you know one of our favorites?

Cinnamon Rolls.

Because obviously they double as breakfast and dessert. Bingo!

overnight nutella cinnamon rolls (

Up until about 3 years ago I had not attempted a homemade cinnamon roll on my own. I was famous for cracking open that can of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. I still think those are delicious by the way. But, the yeast version kinda freaked me out. I pictured myself elbow deep in dough and a splitting headache for at least 3 hours of my morning life.

Frankly, that didn’t sound the least bit of fun.

All that rising time. Letting it rest. Blah, blah, blah. But when I finally got the guts to give them a shot I realized they weren’t nearly as scary as I thought. In fact, they were pretty easy. Just follow the directions and you’ll be fine.

I have a super duper One Hour Cinnamon Roll for all of you wanting to ease into this process. Please give them a try. In the fall, when pumpkin is all the rage, people often request my Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls. Those don’t even require yeast!

overnight nutella cinnamon rolls (

When dreaming up yet another cinnamon roll recipe, I wanted to do something different. First off, I wanted them to include chocolate. I love the flavor of Nutella, so this was a no-brainer. Second, my mornings are kinda hectic. Everyone seems to want to eat NOW and we are usually time pressed to get somewhere. So….I decided to make them the night before. Genius, right?

Enter in my Overnight Nutella Cinnamon Rolls.

And the frosting? Yeah, that is chocolately too. It had to be! If you love chocolate and you love a good cinnamon roll, you will do back flips for these.

And yes, again, I had to hand deliver half of these to a friend. She has two young boys and loves food just about as much as I do {the main reason why we get along so well}, so imagine her face when I walked in with these beauties.

Give these a shot. Remember you do all the work the night before. Your morning will simply consist of pulling them out of the fridge, giving them an hour to rise and come to room temperature and then frosting them to your heart’s content.

overnight nutella cinnamon rolls (

Crap.  Now I want another one.

See what I’ve done? I sit here and type out my thoughts about these things and that darn dessert craving comes back stabbing me in the heart.

Overnight Nutella Cinnamon Rolls
For the dough:
1 pkt. dry active yeast
4 T. warm water
1 c. warm milk or heavy cream
¼ c. sugar
1 beaten egg
3 ½ c. flour
½ t. salt
6 T. melted unsalted butter

For the filling:
½ stick butter, softened
¾ c. Nutella
For the frosting:
4 T. butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 c. powdered sugar
¾ c. Nutella
¼ c. milk or heavy cream

1. In a large bowl combine the yeast and warm water to dissolve.
2. Add in the warm milk.
3. Stir in the sugar and beaten egg.
4. Add in 2 cups of the flour and salt, mixing well.
5. Pour in the melted butter and combine.
6. Add in the remaining flour and mix until sticky and pulling away from the bowl. Cover and allow to rise for 90 minutes.
7. Flour your counter and turn out the dough. Add more flour to the dough and the rolling pin so it does not stick. Roll out ¼ inch thick into a rectangle size.
8. Spread the softened butter over the dough, followed by the Nutella. Roll up the dough from the long edges. Using a serrated knife cut the dough into 1 inch slices. {12-14 rolls}.
9. Place each piece into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
10. In the morning, remove from the fridge one hour prior to baking, letting it sit in a warm area of your home. {I like to set mine on my dryer if it is running}. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
11. After an hour, bake for 25 minutes or until just golden brown.
12. The night before also make the frosting. Using a stand or hand held mixer combine the softened butter, cream cheese and Nutella until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar to combine. Refigerate until morning. Set out one hour prior to frosting.

I have some other family dessert recipes that pretty much rock this world. Here are a few of our favorites!

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