Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats: April 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Snickerdoodle Blondies

I probably need to post another dessert like I need a hold in my head...but here you go anyway.  I stole this recipe from The Dishes of Mrs. Fish, a food blog that is new to me, that I happened upon the other day.  I figured I love snickerdoodle cookies, why wouldn't I love snickerdoodle blondies?

It really was a no-brainer.

I took them to Easter with us, as if we needed anymore sweets, but they were a hit, so I'm keeping this recipe!  And not to mention simple, my Kitchen Aid mixer really did all the work.

Snickerdoodle Blondies
2 2/3 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1 t. salt
2 c. brown sugar
1 c. butter
2 eggs

1 t. vanilla
2 T. sugar
2 t. cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg

Combine all dry ingredients and set aside.  Beat butter and brown sugar for 3-5 minutes or until creamy.  Add in eggs and vanilla.  Stir in dry ingredients.  The batter will have the consistency of cookie dough.  Spread in a 9x13 sprayed baking pan. 

Combine toppings and sprinkle over the batter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool and cut into squares.

Is anyone watching America's Next Great Restaurant on NBC?  Love this show.  I was really rooting for the grilled cheese guy (even though he was a little arrogant), but he got kicked off.  They are now down to the meatball guy, the Indian food guy, and the soul food guy.

My bet is on the soul food guy.  Every week people seem to like his food the best.  If I were a contestant my restaurant would be called...

The Panini Press

Yep, you guessed it. A semi-fast food chain all about the beloved panini.  Of course made with all fresh ingredients and endless combinations!  Yum.

What would your restaurant be called???

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Roasted Tomato and Mozzarella Pizza

I know I'm a day late, but how was everyone's Easter weekend?  Ours was filled with traveling, food and family.

And did I mention food?  I ate way too much.

Here are a few pics to recap our weekend at my parent's house.  Easter cookie decorating, Easter egg hunting, family pics, etc.

Can you believe I got the little man to sit still for a picture with his sister?

He wouldn't look at the camera for this one, but I tried:)

Helping his cousin open eggs!

Decorating...ahem...eating cookies.

Mom's famous sugar cookies.
For the life of us we couldn't get the little man to smile after church.  I don't think he quite yet understands the concept of "taking a picture".  The kiddos did good with just mommy this weekend (dad was working), but then again it always helps when you have grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins to help pitch in!

Therefore my first road trip by myself was a success.

This recipe has nothing to do with Easter, as I whipped it up last week for lunch.  I was wanting pizza (shocker), and without too many ingredients on hand I came up with this roasted tomato and mozzarella pizza.  Heavenly.

Have you ever roasted tomatoes?  Somehow it changes their taste and makes them so much sweeter.  You should definitely add them to your next pizza.

Roasted Tomato & Mozzarella Pizza
1 c. cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 c. pizza sauce (I used crushed tomatoes)
1/2 t. minced garlic
1/2 t. oregano
1 T. olive oil
sliced mozzarella
pizza dough

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Slice tomatoes in half and place cut side up on baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and oregano, drizzle with olive oil.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until soft.

Spread out pizza dough, drizzle with olive oil and minced garlic.  Spread on pizza sauce, layer tomatoes and cheese.  Bake until golden brown and crispy.

*I pre-baked my crust for about 5 minutes alone on a pizza stone, then removed the pizza stone, added the toppings and baked the pizza directly on the oven rack, with a baking sheet under it to catch any drippings.  This gave it a very crispy crust!

Now, my ideal pizza toppings would be Canadian bacon, mushrooms, sausage and black olives...but this is a great way to go meatless for a meal.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Earth Dinner Winner!

We have a winner!

And low and behold, look who it is...

Christina, from Dinner at Christina's!  She even mentioned in one of her enteries how she was "secretly hoping she'd win!"

Christina, you know the drill, shoot me an email at, and I'll be in touch with the details!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Strawberry Yogurt Muffins

Reminder - please enter my Organic Valley Earth Dinner Giveaway here!  You have until tomorrow, when I'll pick one random winner for lots of goodies!

Today has been an interesting day.  Little miss had me up from 1:30 a.m. until 5:30 a.m.  She was just bright eyed and bushy tailed.  It was awful.  This is the first time she had been awake that long in the middle of the's to hoping she isn't getting her days and nights mixed up!

We just got back from a weight check for her and she is finally over her birth weight - hooray!  She had some issues gaining weight in the beginning, but is now right on track.  We are having to give her 1 oz. of formula after each feeding and that seems to be doing the trick!

It's funny how you can be SO tired during the night, but once day comes my energy somehow comes back.  To only go downhill again around 8 p.m.  Crazy.

So the other day when my energy spiked, I made these muffins.  At the grocery store over the weekend, I purchased 5lbs of strawberries for $3.99.  What a deal!  We are still eating them, but only have a few left.  Two cups of them went into these scrumptious muffins...they lasted a day.

Strawberry Yogurt Muffins
2 egg whites
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 c. yogurt
1 1/2 c. flour (I used oat bran flour to make these gluten free)
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. flax seed
1 1/4 t. brown sugar
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 c. diced strawberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray muffin liners.  Mix egg whites, oil and yogurt.  Slowly sift in dry ingredients and stir.  Fold in strawberries.  Bake 20-22 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Remove from pan to cool.

Yeah, I ate two of these right out of the oven with some butter and my homemade strawberry jam.  And the little man joined in too.  He can't resist mommy's baked goods!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Organic Valley Earth Dinner GIVEAWAY!

Who doesn't LOVE a giveaway???

I was recently contacted by Organic Valley about hosting an Earth Day related giveaway.  If you don't know Earth Day is this coming Friday, April 22nd.  What will you be doing to help out our environment?

Organic Valley is sponsoring Earth Dinner a local, seasonal and organic food-focused dinner theme where friends and family take time to have meaningful conversation about how we connect with food, farming and the earth. Since 2004, thousands of individuals, non-profits and restaurants have hosted Earth Dinners in the month of April as educational events, fundraisers or simply as a fun and meaningful family dinnertime activity.

Now here is your chance to have one of your own.  One winner will receive an Earth Dinner package.  This package contains everything you would need to host your own Earth Dinner:
  • One Year's Worth of FREE Organic Valley products in the form of 52 free-product coupons ($520 value)
  • 4 Earth Dinner Books
  • An Organic Valley reusable, packable shopping bag for carrying all of those delicious Organic Valley goodies.
To enter do the following:

1.  "Like" Earth Dinner on Facebook (required).

For additional entries...

2.  "Like" Sweet & Savory on Facebook.
3.  Become a follower of Sweet & Savory, or leave me a comment telling me you already do.
4.  Leave a comment telling me what you'd cook up for your Earth Dinner.

One random winner will be picked and announced on Earth Day, Friday, April 22nd.  Good luck!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Broccoli and Cheddar Mac

So last weekend I was bragging as it was 80 degrees out.  Well today, it is windy, cold and snowing.  Yeah, the joys of spring in Iowa.  I do have faith it will EVENTUALLY get warm.


Since the husband works somewhat "odd" hours, on the nights he isn't home I don't usually cook dinner.  The little man and I fend for our self, eating leftovers, sandwiches, or random "put together" dinners.  It works for us.  But when we are all home, I like to have a nice hot meal on the dinner table.  I figure it is the least I can do, since the other nights he's eating a cold lunch out of his cooler.

Last night I made meatloaf (which for some reason I now really love), and this broccoli and cheddar mac.  It is another variation of my mac and cheese, just tweaked a little.

Broccoli and Cheddar Mac
1/2 lb. pasta (I used brown rice elbow macaroni)
2 c. broccoli florets
3 T. butter
2 T. flour
2 c. milk
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 t. garlic salt
1 t. pepper

In a large saucepan cook pasta until al dente, leave a little bite to them as they will continue to cook in the oven.  In another sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter.  Sprinkle in flour and whisk until combined, and let it get bubbly, a few minutes.  Stir in milk and continue whisking until thickened.  Let sit a few minutes and it will thicken even more.  Stir in sour cream and cheeses until melted.  Turn to low heat and keep warm.

Once pasta is cooked, drain and add in broccoli.  Pour in cheese and stir to combine.  Put in a sprayed baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.


In other news, did you notice the recipe search I added on the right side of my home page?  I've had MANY of you ask for a better way to search all my here you go!  They are all in alphabetical order and very easy to find, I hope this helps!

Gosh, looking through them all the other day was a little overwhelming - there are a lot!  Do you have a favorite I need to try again?  Or one that you tried and loved?

Please let me know!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

I debated writing this post in the middle of the night last night, but I didn't.  One of the only pros to being up in the middle of the night feeding a newborn, is I am able to check up on my email, Facebook, food blogs, etc.

Yes, I multi-task.  Breastfeeding and internet browsing.  I'm talented.

But, last night as I hopped on Facebook (really the only chance I get all day to catch up), I found out that a former classmate of mine, a year behind me in school, passed away in a car accident.  It literally took my breath away.  She wasn't a close friend of mine, but definitely an acquaintance.  When you grow up in a small rural town, everyone knows everyone, whether you like it or not.  I fondly remember her being a great volleyball player and seeing her often at the country club with her parents playing a round of golf.

My heart goes out to her family, especially her young daughter.  It is crazy how a life can be taken so quickly.

In an effort to brighten the day, I'm hoping these homemade ice cream sandwiches will do the trick for everyone.  Sadly, none are left to enjoy on this 70 degree day.

The next time you venture out to the grocery store and want to buy a treat, stop yourself!  These are homemade and not filled with all that fake stuff you get in store bought ice cream sandwiches.  And like anything, you can tweak it to how you like - change up the cookie or the ice cream flavor to suite your tastes.

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches
1 c. peanut butter
1 egg
1 t. baking soda
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. chopped milk chocolate

1/2 c. chopped peanuts
1/2 c. chopped milk chocolate

Mix all ingredients together and drop by spoonfuls on greased baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.  Allow to cool.

To assemble sandwiches take softened ice cream (I used vanilla), place a scoop on one cookie, top with another and press down to flatten slightly.  Roll edges in peanut and chocolate topping.  Place on a cookie sheet and place in freezer to harden, at least 30 minutes.  When frozen, wrap in plastic wrap, and store in freezer until ready to eat.


The rest of my day will be spent relaxing.  A long night - little miss was up 4 times!  Usually it is only twice, so I'm not sure what happened there.  Of course, now that it is morning, she has been snoozing away....figures!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Guacamole for a Sunny Day

Write this down.  It's 80 degrees in April, in Iowa.  I won't mention that it is supposed to cool off tomorrow and be back in the upper 50's, because frankly I don't want to think about that.  Right now all I care about is getting this post written and getting my butt out on the deck to sit in the sunshine while both kiddos are napping.

When it starts warming up, my mind shifts to summer meals.  And in the summer I think of dips.  Chip dips, fruit dips, honestly any dip that requires some form of food as the utensil to eat it with.

The other night we had tacos, and with three avocados on hand, there was only one thing to do with them of course. 

Make guacamole.

My recipe is simple, and I'm sure not authentic at all, but it works for us, as I usually have all of the ingredients on hand.  It rarely makes it through the entire meal, as it is one of the husbands all time favorites.  So much in fact that sometimes I only get a dollup.

Holy Moly Guacamole
3 avocados, pitted and scooped
1/2 c. salsa
1/2 c. sour cream
2 T. lemon or lime juice
1 t. salt
dash of hot sauce

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend to desired consistency.  We tend to like ours smooth, so I let mine go awhile.

It's looks like baby poop, but trust me it is good!

Keeping with the summer theme, yesterday I also made homemade ice cream sandwiches.  There are none left.  Stay tuned!

Friday, April 8, 2011

An Easy Way to Eat More Veggies

Lets be honest.  Most of us do not eat the recommended amount of veggies each day.  Me included.  In fact I don't think I had anything "green" yesterday.

So when I came upon this article in Redbook awhile back, I thought, what a great idea!  I'm sure you have all heard of sneaking veggies into meals, especially when trying to "hide" them from your children, but this article shows you how in a way that I thought was pretty clever.

Look at the four listed purees, along with dishes you can hide them in...genius!

Purple puree
6 c. raw spinach
1 t. lemon juice
3 c. fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed

*Puree all ingredients with 2 T. water in a food processor until smooth.  Use it in brownies (substitute for the oil), or add in taco or burger meat.

Orange puree
1 sweet potato, peeled, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled diced

*In a medium pot cover with water and boil for 20 minutes, until very tender.  Drain, place in food processor with 2 T. water and puree until smooth.  Use it in banana bread (substitute for the oil), or add 1/4-1/2 c. to boxed or homemade macaroni and cheese.

Green puree
2 c. broccoli florets, fresh or frozen
2 c. raw baby spinach
1 c. frozen sweet peas

*Steam broccoli and spinach for 10 minutes or until tender.  Add in peas last 2 minutes.  Drain, puree in food processor with 2 T. water until smooth.  Use it in guacamole in replace of the avocado, layer in with lasagna, or add to any spaghetti sauce.

White puree
2 15 oz. cans white beans (such as white northern or cannellini)

*Rinse and drain beans.  Place in food processor, puree with 2 T. water until smooth (will have the consistency of peanut butter).  Use in coffee cake, muffins or any type of cookie dough (substitute for half the butter in the recipe), or mix with your favorite seasonings (garlic, pepper, cumin, etc.) for a dip.

Start your blenders people!  I'm making guacamole later today, so I might try the green puree!

Which one would you like to try???

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Rosie's Best Granola Giveaway

I'm taking a quick moment out of my morning, while the little one is napping, to inform you of a great giveaway happening over at Culinary Bliss.

Alicia, who happens to live here locally, is giving away a free bag of her homemade peanut butter coconut granola (yum!).  I so desperately wanted to stop by the co-op, where she sells it, this morning after a doctor's appointment, but as we all know newborn babies dictate our schedules and she was HUNGRY, so I had to get home.

Check our her food blog and enter for a chance to win some yummy granola!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Apple Peanut Butter Cookies

One of the joys of having a newborn is all the help you get the first few weeks. From cleaning to cooking, it seems like friends and family are there to help you out with whatever is needed. That certainly was the case at our house this last week.

My bathroom, ceiling fans, blinds, windows, and even my oven got an overhaul. Not to mention my freezer got stocked with meals and I haven't cooked dinner for over a week. It's been nice. If you have a good friend or family member having a baby, take the time to do this for them, it is so very much appreciated.

And then when it is their turn to have a baby, return the favor.

One of the many treats given to us over the last week, were these Apple Peanut Butter Cookies baked by my co-worker. She's got a knack for baking and has even now started her own side business with designer cakes - weddings, baby showers, birthdays, etc. If you live in or around the eastern Iowa area and need a cake let me know!

I think I ate three of these within the first hour she arrived to visit our new little bundle. My excuse is that breastfeeding makes you hungry.

It does. I swear.

Apple Peanut Butter Cookies

3/4 c. peanut butter

1/2 stick butter

2 c. brown sugar

1 t. vanilla

2 eggs

1 3/4 c. flour

2 t. baking soda

3/4 t. salt

1 c. oatmeal

1/4 c. wheat germ

1 c. finely chopped apples

Cream together butter and peanut butter. Add in brown sugar, vanilla and eggs. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt and add to this mixture. Fold in remaining ingredients.

Drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and flatten. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees. They will stay soft and chewy.

Try these out today, trust me you will not be disappointed.

Friday, April 1, 2011

5 Hour Oven Stew {gluten free}

Look at me, I'm posting a recipe! Pretty good considering the last week of my life has been all about our new little addition to the family. Thank you to everyone for your kind words and congratulations, we love her too!

The little man and her have been keeping us beyond busy, but thankfully my mom was here for the week (cooking, cleaning, helping) and the husband's parents are coming this weekend for a visit as well. Therefore, I have still yet to do this alone.

Pray for me.

So far, the two have been liking each other. We just need to work on his "gentleness", he just doesn't know his own strength!

As promised, I said I'd get back to posting our meals/recipes and here is a great one. My mom made up this stew earlier in the week, and we are just now finishing up the last bowls, after freezing a good portion.

Now, it is technically an "oven" stew, but we did it in a large crock pot, works just the same. I don't know about you, but I love pulling out the crock pot, instead of heating up the oven. To each is own!

5 Hour Oven Stew

2 lbs. stew meat, cut into small pieces

6 potatoes, diced small

4 carrots, diced

4 celery stalks, diced

2 green peppers, diced

1 large can tomato juice or V-8

3 T. tapioca

Place all ingredients in a small roaster for the oven or a large crock pot. Season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven at 250 degrees for 5 hours, or on low in the crock pot for 5-6 hours, or until all veggies/meat are tender.

Simple, huh?

A great one to assemble the night before and have cook the next day while out running errands or at work. We served this with some garlic parmesan toast (bread, buttered and sprinkled with garlic salt and parmesan cheese, placed in oven at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes or until crispy).

Stay tuned, as I have a great cookie recipe to share next!