Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats: May 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Rhubarb Custard Dessert

The ultimate spring time dessert!
Forget rhubarb pie, you'll soon swap this out at the best sweet treat.

rhubard custard dessert (

Rhubarb is all the rage right now!  I begged and pleaded to all my friends over the last couple of weeks to bring me any they had.  I'm happy to report that my mom and two good friends brought me some and we had enough to make TWO batches of this dessert.

If you haven't heard we had baby #3 on May 14th.  My next blog post will be all about her birth story, so stay tuned for that!  Until then, please know I've been eating my weight in these bars.

My mom came to help out with the kids while we were in the hospital when she made the first batch of these.  Then she came back a week later and made another batch of these, per my request, as we had more rhubarb to use up, plus many visitors coming to the house to feed.

The husband and I polished these off, equally, and so say that it is my new favorite dessert is an understatement!

rhubard custard dessert (

With a shortbread crust, fruity filling and creamy topping, it pretty much has the best three textures in the world combined in one bar.

These keep well in the fridge and if you have any left over, over the course of a week, they will still taste as good as they did on day one.

So now, here is your challenge.  Go find some rhubarb!  Many people have it growing wild in their yards here in the Midwest and don't even know it, or they just don't use it.  Find some and take it off their hands, you can thank me later!

Rhubarb Custard Dessert

Print this Recipe!

2 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 c. cold, unsalted butter

2 c. sugar
7 T. all purpose flour
1 c. whipping cream
3 eggs, beaten
5 c. finely chopped rhubarb

2 pkg. cream cheese
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1 c. whipping cream, whipped

1.  In a bowl, combine flour and sugar for crust.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
2.  Press into a greased 9x13 baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
3.  Meanwhile, for filling, combine sugar and flour in a bowl.  Whisk in cream and eggs.  Stir in rhubarb.  Pour over the crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until custard is set.
4.  Allow pan to cool.
5.  For topping, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth.
6.  Whip the whipping cream until fluffy and fold into cream cheese mixture.
7.  Spread topping over cooled custard.  Cover and chill.
8.  Cut into bars and store in the refrigerator.  Yields: 3 dozen.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Oven Sandwiches for the Freezer

Oven Sandwiches for the Freezer

Hi, I'm Michelle and I blog over at Simplify, Live, Love - a blog about trying to life a green and sustainable life in rural Iowa. My husband and I are self-employed, have four kids, live in a barn we moved to our property and rebuilt, and we're currently building a passive house {an ultra energy efficient home that will use about 90% less energy that the normal American home}. 


I have a huge garden, bake from scratch, can a ton of food, and home school my kids. I was thrilled to connect with Ally last fall and even more delighted to find out that we live about 3 miles apart! What a small world. I'm excited to share a post for Ally to help out when Babe #3 makes her debut. One way I keep sane in my hectic life is to do a lot of freezer cooking and today I'm sharing a recipe for Oven Sandwiches for the freezer with you!

Who loves freezer cooking?! I know I do. I first heard about sandwiches for the freezer a while ago, and let's say, I was pretty darn skeptical. I mean, who needs to make and freeze sandwiches? Seriously? What person doesn't have time to make a sandwich. 

Well, let's just say I am now a believer - the Oven Sandwich for the Freezer is such a great idea. They whip up in a hurry, you can bake them frozen, and when there's nothing else in the kitchen to eat, I can usually find one of these in my freezer. It makes a great lunch or dinner even.

oven sandwiches for the freezer

To make these sandwiches, all you need is a couple types of meat {salami and turkey are my faves}, a nice roll {I buy these at Costco but would love to make my own for this recipe some day}, a nice cheese {Provolone is my favorite}, and an herb butter. 

You can make your own herb butter by following this super simple recipe on my blog, or just mix up 1/2 cup softened butter with fresh garlic {the more the better} and herbs of your choice {1 tbs dill and parsley and a bit of salt}.

  oven sandwiches for the freezer

All you need to do make these sandwiches is butter up your bread, add cheese and meat of choice, and wrap in foil.

  oven sandwiches for the freezer

Throw them in the freeze and forget about them. When you're in desperate need of a quick meal, pull them out of the freezer and then bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes.

  oven sandwiches for the freezer 

Nom nom nom! I promise you - lunch {or dinner} doesn't get much better than this.

You'll need the following for 12 Oven Sandwiches for the Freezer:

  • 12 ciabatta rolls
  • 24 slices hard salami
  • 12 slices provolone cheese
  • 12 slices turkey
  • 1/2 cup herb butter
Simply assemble, freezer, and bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes totally frozen when you want to eat them. To see more of my favorite freezer recipes, head over here. I really recommend the Chicken Oreganato, Ground Beef Stroganoff, and Eggy Breakfast Muffins.

Thank you, Ally for featuring my recipe! Please connect with me! I'm on facebook, pinterest, twitter, and instagram {my fave}.

And thank you Michelle for sharing this great recipe!  She knows me well and knows that I love my freezer, so I'm sure I'll be trying this recipe soon.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Muller Yogurt Review & 1-Year Costco Membership GIVEAWAY!

I was recently contacted by Muller Corner Yogurt and Quaker Dairy to try out their 12-pack of variety yogurts.  Their new 12-packs are now being featured at participating Costco's for just $9.99!  These individual yogurt packs are perfect for families on the go and are the ultimate quick, healthy snack.

I was sent three flavors: strawberry, choco balls and caramelized almond.  Can I just say they were ALL great?!  The toppings are kept separate from the yogurt, so you have the option to stir them in or be like the little miss below and dip your spoon in the yogurt, then the toppings....parfait style.

This delivery came to our house the morning I delivered our third baby {I promise, birth details to come!}, so it was extra nice to have these on hand while my parents took care of the kids for two days before we came home from the hospital.

Sadly, there were only 3 left by the time I got home.  I stashed one in the back of the fridge for me!  {The ultimate hiding place by the way}.

The kind folks at Muller Yogurt and Quaker Dairy also want to give something to my readers.  A 1-year Costco Membership to a lucky reader!

If you haven't gotten on the bulk food bandwagon now is the time!  At Costco you can buy pretty much everything.  From lawn care, to electronics to exceptional organic produce, this is the store to stock up at.  I know many families that make a trip there a few times a year and score great deals on toliet paper, canned goods, beauty products and much more.

And if you win this year membership you can now also buy this awesome tasting yogurt! For a chance to win simply enter via the Rafflecopter link below.  Multiple chances, you never know it could be your lucky day!  A random winner will be selected on Tuesday, May 27th.  U.S. residents only please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Classic Summer Pasta Salad

I have a really good friend here in town.  Her babies and my babies play together often.  We sit at each other tables and chat while chaos ensues in other areas of the house.  We complain about our husbands and help clean up each other's kid's messes.

We have also done a fair share of cooking and baking together.  I'm not quite sure why we tackle such when we have 5 kids running around our ankles, but we do it anyway.

A few weeks back she was making pasta salad, an easy, simple pasta salad, and one that I hadn't made in years.  You see, it is pasta salad season.  There are about one million recipes out there for various bowls of this cold, tangy stuff, but I think this version is quite possibly the most simple.

And here's the kicker.  You can make it anyway you want!  Can't handle cheese?  Omit it. Love your veggies?  Pile them in!  The possibilities are endless.

Honestly there are just two main ingredients for this salad.  Noodles and Italian dressing. That is it.  The rest are just add-ins.

You could certainly just do the first two, but it would be quite boring, so I do not recommend it.  Play with this salad, add what you want!  First let me tell you what I usually put in it, kind of our staple ingredients.

Diced cucumber, diced tomatoes, grated Parmesan cheese, cubed mozzarella cheese, salt, pepper and garlic powder.  That's it.  But below I have listed endless options for toppings. I've used them all over the years!

Sliced pepperoni or salami, diced bell pepper, chopped broccoli, crumbled feta, cubed ham, sliced black or green olives, freshly chopped dill, chopped dill pickle, banana peppers, peas, crumbled bleu cheese, leftover diced chicken......

See?  The list could go on forever.

But if you have trouble deciding, here is my go-to version.  See if you like it!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Homemade Lemon Sugar Scrub

*I have yet to meet Cristen in person {it will happen girl!} but I'm already in LOVE with her new food blog, Food and Swine.  As a fellow Iowan, she also loves the Midwest and all it has to offer.  Not to mention she has the cutest little piglets running around her farm.  I want to visit!  Today Cristen is showing us how to make a homemade Lemon Sugar Scrub.  Something I've always wanted to make but never knew how. Looks pretty darn easy! 

One thing I'm always looking to create for friends are homemade gifts that involve pampering.  Lemon sugar scrub is one of the most luxurious and easiest things I can put together. This gift is thoughtful, useful and can be made for around $1.00 plus the cost of the jar you put it in.  It works wonderfully on dirty 'garden hands' and when used as a full body sugar scrub, leaves your skin feeling smooth and well nourished. The best part: it only takes minutes to put together!  Let's get started already!

*Full recipe and customization options at the end of the post.

Assemble ingredients.  Hand soap, oil, jars, essential oil *if desired, 1 lemon, granulated sugar and a lemon zester.

Add sugar to a large mixing bowl.

Put that zester to work and zest the whole lemon.

Add the zest to the sugar. Rub the zest with the sugar. The fragrance of the oils in the zest are released and smell fabulous and much stronger than just stirring them together.


Add 1/4 C worth of ‘pumps’ of hand soap.  We don’t measure much in our house.  Need to work on that.

Add oil… she wanted to do 1 TBSP at a time.  More fun that way maybe?

Cut lemon in half, squeeze juice into bowl.

Stir well.

Smoosh with your hands… it is so fun!

Now divide mixture evenly into jars, screw lids on tightly and wrap decoratively with ribbon.  And continue to mess around in the sugar.  MESS around.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Naturally Sweetened Whole Wheat Banana Bread Pancakes

If you are faithful reader then you know two things.

1.  I love pancakes.
2.  I love making double batches of everything and freezing the second half.

This is exactly what happened about a week ago.  In preparation for baby, I've been trying to make extra batches of meals and sticking them in the freezer.  So that when I'm up to my ears in baby poop and milk I don't have to put much thought into meals.

Like most kids, mine also love pancakes.  Usually once a week I will make a batch for them, often on the weekends when our schedules are a bit less hectic.  This time I made a double batch and changed up the recipe a bit to make them healthier.

As you can see, these pancakes are fluffy, a bit crispy on the edge and oh so flavorful {oh wait, you don't know they are flavorful just by looking at them, but trust me they are}.

I sweetened them with mashed bananas and a bit of pure maple syrup.  That combo right there is darn right perfect.  I also threw in half whole wheat flour for good measure.

My kids usually eat these with butter and bit more maple syrup, but sometimes in the afternoon I'll also warm one up for a snack with a bit of peanut butter.  

To freeze them, simply lay them out flat on baking sheets and stick them in the freeze for at least one hour or until frozen solid.  Then remove from the pan and place in a large freezer safe plastic baggie.  When you need one or two or three, take them out individually from the freezer, nuke for 45 seconds and you are good to go!

Laying them flat on the baking sheets and freezing them first keeps them from sticking together frozen in the plastic baggie.  Don't forget this step!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Lemon Cream Cheese Dessert

*I had the pleasure of getting to know Jenny this past Fall at an Iowa blogger meet-up. She is kind, easy to talk too and leads an interesting life!  I mean, who milks their own goats for cheese making?  Super cool.  Check out her awesome dessert below, just in time for warm weather.

My name is Jenny and my website is “In the Kitchen with Jenny.”   I met my husband in high school and we have been married for over 21 years.  We live on a dead end road on a farm just down the road from his family.  It’s a small community and I like that. We have two girls, Sarah, 17, and Jessica, 8.   When Sarah was just 4-1/2 months old she had a case of meningitis that left her with special needs. 13 years ago I became a stay at home mom to take care of her needs. Both of my girls are both in school so now I use my time at home to do things for my family that I wouldn’t have time to if I had a job.  We raise a garden and I can some of our foods, milk goats, and make cheese. I cook most of our meals as well as send the leftovers to school and work for lunches.

After drawing inspiration from the movie “Julie and Julia” and nudges from my friends I started the blog.  I provide step by step photos to help guide readers through a recipe.  I am a very visual person.

Lemon Cream Cheese Dessert 

1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, cold
8 ounce package light cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
8 ounce container whipped topping, divided
2 - 3.4 ounce packages lemon instant pudding mix
2 3/4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut butter into flour using a pastry cutter.  You can also use a sturdy fork.  Pieces should be about pea size. Larger is OK, you just don't want any whole pieces of plain butter left.

Press into 8.5 x 11 inch baking dish. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until just lightly brown. Cool.  I baked mine the night before and allowed to cool over night.

Place cream cheese in a medium bowl. Beat until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat again.

 Add 1 cup whipped topping to cream cheese mixture and beat just until combined.

 Spread over cooled crust.

Combine pudding mix and milk in a medium bowl. Beat until thickened. Spread on top of cream cheese layer. ( My farm fresh goat milk was a little runnier to start but firmed up by the time we were ready to eat it.)

 I waited until our pudding was firm before topping with the remaining whipped topping.  You should be fine to add yours right away.

Chill for 2 hours or better yet all day.  I found that even a day or so later that the crust was still crispy!!

I think this would be delightful as a mini dessert. You could buy premade shortbread cookies to place in the bottom or bake the shortbread bottom of this dessert, break it up and use it instead.  Also, you could substitute your favorite flavor of pudding for the lemon. 

Thank you Jenny!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Pretzel Beer Cheese Dip

Hi guys.

{Stay tuned for this dip recipe below.}

I'm still here.  This little stubborn baby is taking her sweet 'ole time.  I hope by my next post she is here!  I continue to have contractions every night, yet I swear the minute {exact second!} I lay my head down on the pillow to go to bed at night they STOP.

I mean, I'm glad she is letting me sleep, but honestly, lets get the show on the road.

I am officially done working.  As of now it doesn't seem much different, as the little man still has two weeks left of school and I'm wandering about getting stuff ready for the babe.  I imagine once she is here it will finally sink in that I'm not going back to work.  I've been keeping the kids busy with various activities {see below}, daily walks to the park, trips to the library, etc.

The weather has finally been cooperating and we've enjoyed tons of time outside.  We even had a pool day!

I treated myself to a pedicure this week.  I would love to get these once a month, but the frugal part of me doesn't let that happen.  Instead, sadly it happens maybe once a year.  I enjoyed the hour of silence, the chair massage and the fact that my toes now look normal and pretty for summer.

Ignore the kankles.

Yesterday the kids were up AT THE CRACK OF DAWN, so I just said the heck with it and we were out on the deck in the sunshine well before 8 a.m.

I made my first batch of cloud dough.  Simply take 8 cups of flour and whisk in 1 cup of baby oil until the clumps are gone.  It makes the most soft, formable substance you'll ever feel.  I gave the kids toys cars, cups and spoons and they spent a ton of time playing in it.  And it smells great!

By the end, they had it spread all over themselves but they had fun - great entertainment!  I was able to do a lot in the kitchen, watching through the window while they played.

Okay, now how about this awesome dip?

I made this last weekend when my girlfriends and I held a garage sale.  We've got to have snacks right?  It's super simple and has minimal ingredients, many of which you probably have on hand.  I served it with pretzels, but it is also great with crackers or sliced veggies.

And I'm thinking it would be wonderful slathered on a grilled cheese.  Yum.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

2 People, 2 Meals a Day, 2 Weeks

I had the pleasure of meeting Kelli, from The Sustainable Couple last fall.  Then back in March we got to road trip together to Des Moines for another blogger gathering.  I'm happy to say she has become a great friend and our conversation flows easily {the best kind of friend to have by the way}.

Next, I want to see her house and her garden {check out her blog for pics}.  I admire her and her husband's ability to live frugally and off their land, while not sacrificing their lifestyle. She agreed to supply me with a guest post while I'm busy waiting on this baby.  Thanks Kelli!


Tis the season.

Tis the season for me trying to shimmy into my summer dresses and skinny jeans. Tis also the season for my annual spring diet.

It's not really a diet, per say. It's just a period of a few months when I especially focus on healthy, fresh meals. Of course, you know that I am the Queen of Frugal, so I don't want to spend a wad of cash at Aldi (is that possible?) on a bunch of special 'diet foods'.

Oh no, my friends. Healthy eating, for me anyway, is actually quite simple. Allow me to share my most recent grocery list, which I managed to stretch among two people for at least two meals a day for almost two weeks.

At Aldi, I purchased:
  • Cottage cheese
  • A fresh pineapple
  • A bag of spinach
  • A bag of romaine lettuce (three heads in the bag)
  • A package of large tortillas
  • 3 sweet taters
  • A brick of KerryGold white cheddar cheese
  • 2 tomatoes (it killed me to purchase these, by the way)
  • A bag of whole carrots
  • A bag of medium cooked shrimp
  • A whole chicken
Also, in my fridge I already had salad dressings and other condiments, as well as a pantry with homemade bread, some grains and dry pasta. 

Using the food I purchased on this grocery trip, as well as a few items from my fridge and pantry, I was able to create the following healthy meals (as well as several not pictured here). Hopefully you'll notice my creative use of leftovers, especially leftover roasted chicken. 

Roasted chicken over a bed of greens with cheese, sliced carrots and raspberry balsamic dressing, fresh pineapple and cottage cheese: 

A roasted chicken wrap with carrots, cheese, spinach, onions, ranch dressing, and spicy baked sweet potato fries sprinkled with Parmesan cheese: 

A roasted chicken wrap with spinach, carrots, and honey mustard dressing, with fresh pineapple on the side.

A chicken and rice wrap, with carrots, spinach, and honey mustard, with a small side salad and cottage cheese: 

Large spinach and romaine salad with leftover roasted chicken, homemade croutons, white cheddar cheese, and sliced carrots: 

Sweet orange habanero shrimp over couscous cooked in homemade chicken stock: 

A large spinach and romaine salad with cheese, Thousand Island dressing, olives, and fresh pineapple: 

Homemade chicken noodle soup with cilantro from the freezer, carrots, onions, and alphabet noodles: 

Of course, in a period of two weeks, we survived on many more healthy meals than what I've featured here. We are fortunate to have a deep freezer with various cuts of beef and pork, so we grilled burgers and ham steaks a few times. We tried to accompany those meals with a frozen vegetable preserved from our garden, or a small side salad. Also, breakfast usually included toasted homemade bread.

What are some of your go-to healthy meals? How do you stretch your dollar and still eat well? 

Feel free to join me, Kelli, at The Sustainable Couple, on Pinterest, or on Facebook. We'd love to meet you!