Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats: August 2015

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Who doesn't love a good cinnamon roll?  Put it in pancake form and even better!

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Somehow when we came home from vacation a few weeks back a 10 lb. partial bag of pancake mix came home with us.  We used some of it on vacation, but 10 lbs?  Needless to say there was a lot left. I've gotten a bit creative using up this darn mix.

I've frozen two batches.

We had blueberry pancakes twice.

And then these cinnamon roll pancakes were created this week.

Thank god my kids love pancakes.

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Now, I've made these twice.  Once with that annoying, huge, obnoxious bag mix and once with my standard homemade version.  Both turned out the same.  GREAT!

My kids asked me what the occasion was the other morning when I made these {as I slowly drizzled warm frosting like syrup over them instead of the our usual peanut butter or maple syrup}.  There really wasn't an occasion, other than school starting and me just feeling like doing something different, something a bit out of our norm.

They loved it!

I thought of putting sprinkles in them too, but between the chaos of pancakes, a dog who wasn't listening and a 15 month screaming for food, it didn't happen.

Maybe next time.

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This batter is infused with cinnamon and nutmeg and will make your house smell like a bakery.  And when you heat them up the next day in the microwave?  The same thing.  I wanted to bottle it up and put it in a candle, it smelled so good.

Make these for your kids!

Or just for yourself {I won't tell a soul}

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Boxed pancake mix OR my homemade version
1 T. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg

2 c. powdered sugar
1 T. almond extract
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 T. milk {with additional, 1 T. at a time until frosting is thin enough}

1.  Mix together pancake mix according to directions or use my homemade version.  When batter is mixed, add in the cinnamon and nutmeg.  Cook accordingly.
2.  In a bowl combine powdered sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Add in almond extract and 1 T. of milk and stir.  Continue to add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until the frosting is very thin and of syrup consistency.
3.  Serve syrup warm over the hot pancakes.

cinnamon roll pancakes (

Have you my lovely readers been following me on Instagram?  I went to a church hog roast yesterday with the kids and I had multiple people chat with me about my blog and more than one said, "I love following your Instagram feed!  You give us so much more than recipes - a bit behind the scenes."

I love that!  That is exactly what Instagram is.  You'll see my messy kitchen, a LOT of my kids, my friends and more of what I'm drinking and eating.

Follow me HERE!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Raspberry Lemonade Cake

The perfect cake for a special celebration in the summer or maybe even Valentine's Day!

I am working in cooperation with Mike's Hard Lemonade this summer. 
 Although being compensated, all opinions are my own.

raspberry lemonade cake mike's hard lemonade (

It is nearing the end of August, which is unofficially the end of summer here in the Midwest. Most kids have gone back to school, families are settling into a more structured routine and those summer end-of-year parties are happening {Labor Day is coming!}.

Last weekend was our small town's annual celebration. You know....carnival, parade, contests, beer tents, the whole nine yards. We had invited some of our close friends to stay the weekend with us – as they also have young kids who LOVE all the cool stuff that was happening.

But...that also meant...CAKE!

Because you can't have people over at your house ALL weekend and not serve them good food right? Besides grilling up a feast – hot dogs, brats, burgers, plus a killer queso dip and breakfast the next morning – pancakes and egg casserole, I could not forget dessert.

And since we were drinking Mike's Hard Lemonade already and loving it and I just went all crazy and baked a cake with it too.

Is that normal? It is in my house!

I have partnered with Mike's Hard Lemonade all summer helping to promote their summer flavors while supporting their various campaigns. You can read my previous posts HERE and HERE.

raspberry lemonade cake mike's hard lemonade (

I had the husband pick up some Mike's for the weekend festivities instructing him to pick a 'berry' lemonade flavor. He did good! Soon I was brainstorming a cake with Mike's Black Raspberry Lemonade as the crucial ingredient.

With many mouths to feed I knew I wanted an impressive double layer cake, so while the men took the older kids out of the house to some of the celebrations I got to work. 

Afraid of making a cake from scratch? Don't be! It really is quite simple. And the pink hue this cake gets from the frizzly, bubbly alcohol is just plain fun. A bit like a science experiment!

raspberry lemonade cake mike's hard lemonade (

Raspberry Lemonade Cake

1 1/3 c. sugar
6 T. softened butter
1 T. lemon rind
2 t. vanilla
2 eggs
2 egg whites
2.5 cups flour
1 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
½ t. baking soda
1 ¼ c. buttermilk

2 T. softened butter
2 t. lemon rind
½ t. almond extract
8 oz. softened cream cheese
3 ½ c. powdered sugar

1. In a stand mixer, mix together the first 5 ingredients.
2. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well. Add in the egg whites, beating well.
3. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add in flour mixture and buttermilk, alternating, starting and ending with flour.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 9-inch round cake pans.
5. Divide cake batter between the two pans. Gently tap the cake pan on the counter to remove any air bubbles.
6. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until spongy and toothpick inserted comes out clean.
7. Move to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
8. To make the frosting beat the butter, lemon rind, alcohol, vanilla and cream cheese until fluffy and creamy. Add in the powdered sugar to combine. Chill at least one hour.
9. When ready to frost the cake, gently remove cake from their cake pans, placing one on the serving platter. Apply a small amount of frosting on the top of this cake, spreading evening across and then lay on the second cake. Frost the sides of the cake, then the top, smoothing out any blemishes.
10. Top the cake with fresh berries and keep covered and refrigerated.

raspberry lemonade cake mike's hard lemonade (

This cake really did WOW us all. It's tangy, spongy, lemony and fruity all at the same time. The flavored cream cheese frosting brought it all together.

And now my mind is wandering.....I could really make this with any flavor of Mike's! The possibilities are endless Peach! Straight Lemon! Apple! Yum.

Everyone loved this cake and it was perfect for our end of the summer weekend bash. {Yet, trust me, I'd gladly make it for ANY occasion throughout the year!}

A big thanks to Mike's Hard Lemonade for this partnership over the summer. What fun it's been! More information can be found at Mike's Hard Lemonade. #mikesVIP

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sweet Thai Chili Meatballs + Stubb's Bar-B-Q Giveaway

Disclosure: This post is part of my relationship with the Stubb's Insiders Program.  
Product and compensation have been provided, but all opinions are my own. 
#ad #sponsored

sweet thai chili meatballs (

I've been working with an amazing company this summer, Stubb's Bar-B-Q.  I cannot say enough great things about them - and that is before I even start blubbering about how good their products are! 

With summer winding down {tears being shed} most families are focusing on sending kids back to school, getting back into a scheduled routine and hopefully their end of the year Labor Day celebration.  Whether that be as simple as a family picnic or barbecue or if you go all out with the neighbors and through a huge shindig, most everyone plans a great menu!

I didn't even mention football.  'Tis the season.  We are big time football lovers here and I know many of my readers are.  Who is anxiously awaiting opening kickoff?

What I love about these meatballs is that they can easily be an appetizer or quickly turned into a meal when served over rice, mashed potatoes or veggies.

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Each month Stubb's sends me the most incredible care package full of barbecue greatness. This month's package included: Texas Sriracha Anytime Sauce, Sweet Black Pepper Anytime Sauce, Green Chile Anytime Sauce, Stubb's Chicken Rub and Stubb's Beef Rub.

All Stubb's products, including their new Anytime sauces are gluten-free, made with real ingredients and contain no artificial ingredients, flavors, colors, MSG or high fructose corn syrup.  I personally love that you read the ingredients on their products and you easily know what each and everyone is {plus, you can actually pronounce them}.

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I personally enjoy brainstorming new recipe ideas {I know some people HATE it}, but I rather enjoy it.  I had meatballs on the brain and recently I had had a great thai chili dipping sauce at a restaurant. In my head I felt they went together.

When prepping this dish I felt they went together.

When finally eating these, I realized I was right, meatballs and thai chili sauce DO got together.

However weird/odd/questionable it may sound they seem to compliment each other.  The deep, rich meat and the tangy, vinegary, sweet and a bit spicy sauce.

I added Stubb's Beef Rub to the meatball mixture for a deep depth of flavor.  It's a bold mix of seat salt, molasses and coffee.  I technically didn't use it as a "rub", but I did massage the heck out of it into these meatballs!

I included this recipe in last week's 5 Crock Pot Meals x 2 = 10 Dinners blog post {which went over like gangbusters in case you are wondering}.  So, YES, they can be mixed up, frozen, thrown together with the sauce and then placed in a freezer storage bag to be dumped into a crock pot at a later date.

Not a crock pot fan?  They can be baked in the sauce too.  No worries, you won't hurt my feelings. Prepare them anyway you like.

Sweet Thai Chili Meatballs

makes 24 meatballs

2 lbs. ground beef
2 eggs
1/2 c. breadcrumbs
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1/4 c. thai chili sauce, plus additional 1 cup
1 c. barbecue sauce

Combine first six ingredients and form into 2 inch meatballs.  Lay on a greased baking sheet and freeze solid for 1-2 hours.  When frozen drop in a freezer storage bag.  Pour in the additional 1 c. thai chili sauce and barbecue sauce.  Freezer for up to 3 months.  When ready to cook place into a slow cooker frozen and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 4-6 hours, stirring half way through. Serve over rice, with a potato or veggies or with a toothpick as an appetizer, with additional thai chili sauce.

If not using a crock pot, assemble meat balls and place in a rimmed glass 9x13 baking dish. Pour sauce over the meatballs and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until meat is cooked through and no longer pink, stirring half way through.

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Have I mentioned Stubb's is a great company?  I'm pretty sure I did, but in case you forgot, check out this above gear they are giving one of my readers.  They are giving one lucky winner $20 in FREE product coupons, a tote bag, t-shirt, apron, mason jar and a slick wooden carrier with four of their great sauces.

Talk about a great prize pack!

I will be choosing one random winner on Friday, August 28th.  Enter via the Rafflecopter entry form below.  There are many ways to enter and up your chances so take advantage of them all!

A huge thanks to Stubb's for the great partnership and for being so generous to my readers. You are simply the best!

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This post was sponsored by Stubb's, as part of the Stubb's Insider Program.  All opinions are my own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 20, 2015

5 Crock Pot Meals x 2 = 10 Dinners

Five delicious meals x 2 = the ultimate meal plan!
Get your lists and crock pots ready.

5 crock pot meals x 2 = 10 Dinners (

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Whenever I write a meal plan post you guys seem to go bonkers and really, really love it {you can find others HERE and HERE}.  I had a few requests for another meal plan and more specifically one ALL about the beloved slow cooker, so I started brainstorming.

I have had my share of crock pot flops over the years, but at the same time I've had some fabulous keepers.  Ones that we fall back on often and everyone seems to love.  These are generally ones that are easy {because if you know me, I'm all about easy} and can be dumped in and forgotten until dinner time.

So...since I love you and since you faithfully come back and read my blog, I got my butt in gear and researched my favorites then prepped, labeled and took these pretty photos of mine all in about an hour.

Yes, I said an hour!

I picked my five and doubled them.  I'm sure many of you are asking why double them? Why not pick 10 different meals and have more of a variety?

Here's the thing.  I've learned from my mistakes.  I've done this in the past where I scour the internet and find ones that people recommend, prep them, freeze them, make them and then instantly HATE them.

I decided to pick five of our favorites, double them and then have peace of mind knowing we wouldn't be disappointed.  It's not like we'll be eating these 10 in a row.  There will be nights I make a homemade pizza in between, or we have leftovers, or I boil some spaghetti noodles, dump on some sauce and call it good.

I like to give my crock pot a break now and then, you know?

5 crock pot meals x 2 = 10 Dinners (

When prepping my meals I have a few items on hand and it makes everything go SO much smoother.

Supplies You'll Need: Large cutting board
Sharp knife
Garbage bowl {throw everything in it, therefore eliminating millions of walks over to the garbage}
Jokari Ziploc Storage Holder
Large Ziploc bags
Sharpie marker

I like to prep my meals one at a time.  I know some people like to cut all meat, all veggies, etc. at the same time, but that isn't for me.  It feels a bit overwhelming and I always feel like I'm jumping from recipe to recipe with the fear that I'll screw one up.  Like put mushrooms in my tacos, or something odd like that.

Therefore I do one at a time and then move on.

I also like to freeze mine sitting up {as shown in the photo}.  I do lay some freezer items flat for better storage, but for ones that I know will most likely go straight into the crock pot frozen {because who remembers to thaw it the night before?} I find this way works a bit better.  It fits nicely in the crock pot and I'm not trying to break it in half in order for it to fit.

I lock and clip my clean Ziploc bag into the Jokari and simply drop items in.  This way the clips holds up the bag and spills are kept to a minimum.  And don't forget to label the bags PRIOR to filling them.  They are much easier to write on when empty and flat.

5 crock pot meals x 2 = 10 Dinners (

If you're still reading {which I hope!} you're probably wondering what I made.  Here are our favorites in no particular order.

Creamy Mushroom Pork Chops
Teriyaki Chicken
Sweet Thai Chili Meatballs

The Italian Beef and Shredded Chicken Tacos are linked above for the recipe.  Please visit! Here are the following three - one of which will be featured soon on the blog!

Creamy Mushroom Pork Chops - 6 pork chops, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 c. chicken broth, 2 c. sliced mushrooms, salt, pepper.  Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.

Teriyaki Chicken - 4 chicken breasts, 1/2 can. pineapple chunks, 1/2 c. soy sauce, 1/4 c. rice wine vinegar, 1/4 c. brown sugar.  Serve over rice and veggies.

Sweet Thai Chili Meatballs - 2 lbs. ground beef mixed with 2 eggs, 1/2 c. breadcrumbs, 1 envelope dry onion soup mix, 2 T. Stubb's Beef Rub {or any other beef seasoning}, 1/4 c. thai chili sauce. Combine ingredients and form into 2 inch meatballs {should make 24}.  Lay on a greased baking sheet and freeze for 1-2 hours.  When frozen drop in the Ziploc bag and pour in an additional 1 c. thai chili sauce and 1 c. barbecue sauce.  Serve as is, or over rice with a potato or veggie side.

I assembled two of each of these meals, equaling 10 meals prepped and ready to go.  They are all ones I know we love, so there will NOT be any surprises.

All of these meals can be cooked on LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 4-6 hours.  Each crock pot is different, so if you know yours runs a bit hotter, adjust your times and settings accordingly.

5 Crock Pot Meals x 2 = 10 Dinners...Perfect for working moms! (

Whose ready to do this?  What questions do you have?  I'd love to hear your feedback!

***A reader was concerned about putting frozen meat into a crock pot, so I am providing this link HERE for more information.  I personally, have never had a problem with it, but since there are always health concerns, I am providing additional information HERE.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Whole Wheat Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Soft, creamy, peanut buttery-chocolate goodness!  Yep, that is what these cookies are.

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Hey y'all!  I'm back!

Last week I spent six glorious, sun-filled days on vacation.  It has become a yearly tradition for my husband's family to travel to Iowa's Great Lakes {as their known}, most others just call it Okoboji. The resort we stay at takes such good care of us and I try hard to not do much all week.

His family is a bit more "active" and likes to plan out their day, but I find most peace laying on the dock, with my book and occasionally taking a dip to cool off.  This folks, is my ideal type of vacation.  We also rented a pontoon one day, visited the amusement park and even celebrated my birthday with a nice dinner out.  

I will admit, I took well advantage of my built-in babysitters and tried to disappear as much as I could to lay in the sun.  There is nothing more relaxing in my book - and the people watching is great too! All in all, it was a great week off.

Now, we are back to the grind.

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This coming week is the last week before my oldest starts Kindergarten - I'm sure I'll try and cram a million things into it - once of which is some back to school shopping.  Have you seen those classroom lists?  Geesh!  It's a lot of stuff.  If I can fit it into the schedule I might try and take him with me for a little "date" with mom.  

Other than getting ready for school, I'm sure I'll be sulking.  I almost went to lay out on our deck this afternoon until I realized I had no lake to take a dip in when I got too hot.  And the sound of the neighbor's dog barking and lack of waves crashing against the dock just didn't appeal to me. we are.

These cookies.

I made these last Saturday and they are STILL soft.

If that alone doesn't make you want to make a batch, then I may as well quit while I'm ahead.  They stay fresh forever!  I took a batch on vacation and we snacked all week.  I brought the remaining few home and they are still fresh.

It really is hard to believe.

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Now, you don't have to use all whole wheat flour in these.  I used mostly whole wheat just due to being out of white flour.  Do whatever you want.  I'll never know.

But whole wheat does mean you can have 3 instead of just two.

I'm serious.

And don't forget to chill the dough before baking.  I really do think it makes the best cookie. Wouldn't these be a great after-school snack for those starting soon?

Whole Wheat Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 c. peanut butter
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips

1.  In a stand or hand-held mixer combine the softened butter and sugars until creamy.
2.  Add in eggs once at a time.
3.  Add in peanut butter, vanilla, baking soda, salt and baking cocoa.
4.  Sift in flours until all combined.
5.  Fold in chocolate chips.
6.  Chill dough for at least one hour before baking or up to overnight.
7.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Using a cookie scoop, place dough on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes.
8.  Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.  Keep stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight container.  They will stay fresh for a week.

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If you love the look of this cookie, I'm guessing you'll love some others I've had on the blog over the years that are similar.  Get baking!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Summer Backyard Girl's Night with Mike's Hard Lemonade

I am working in cooperation with Mike's Hard Lemonade this summer.  
Although being compensated, all opinions are my own.

P.S. It's my birthday today, so why not celebrate with some drinks!

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This summer is flying by at lightning speed.  I feel like the kiddos just got out of school last week, yet I've found myself registering my oldest for Kindergarten this week and squeezing in some last minute summer outings. Does any of this make sense?  Not really.
Summer goes fast.  Every year.  There is nothing around it.
But, I will say I've made a point this summer to relax a bit more.  Even though I still have one child under the age of 2, she's pretty darn easy. Everyone is getting older and bit more independent, which makes this mama happy!
When my girlfriends call very last minute asking me to come over for a drink on their patio after the kids are in bed, I go.  When our golf plans got canceled due to rain, we spontaneously crashed a restaurant and bar for the afternoon and laughed tills our sides ached.  I love this!  I finally feel like I'm getting my personality back after years of intense mothering {all good of course, just entering a new phase}.
All of this fits in perfectly with my partnership with Mike's Hard Lemonade. Their new portable fridge pack featuring their Flavors of America {lemonade, peach, black cherry and apple} is perfect for backyard entertaining – so that is exactly what I did!
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I took full advantage of my friend's beautiful backyard {with her permission} and invited our friend's over.  She's a peach, that friend of mine!  She pretty much lives on an acreage in the middle of town, if that makes any sense.  Obviously with a backyard straight out of Better Homes & Gardens magazine, I rallied the troops and we had a party!
There is nothing like hanging with your girlfriends in the summer.  Being outside, taking in the gorgeous scenery and relaxing with a cold drink. Perfect in my opinion!
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I instructed each to bring a snack to share {I'm a bit bossy like that}. We had fresh salsa and chips, snack mixes, fruit, cheeses, dips, barbecue meatballs and more.  I even told them I'd be taking photos so they COULD NOT come in their yoga pants and no make-up {we are all moms, I HAD to get bossy on that one}.  In the end we had a fantastic time.  I think we all had our favorites mike’s hard lemonade– two really loving the crisp apple, one loving the peach and me, well, loving them all. Each are refreshing in their own way.
summer backyard girl's night mike's hard lemonade (

And you know what?  You don't have to drink them just plain Jane.  Last summer I created this awesome cocktail {Watermelon Black Cherry Slushies!} with their black cherry lite version.  It's a perfect refreshing drink for the hot weather.  
summer backyard girl's night mike's hard lemonade (

And these grilled chicken sandwiches?  So flavorful!  Ever marinated with a spiked lemonade before? Yeah, I hadn't either, but definitely a recipe keeper.
In the end we had an awesome time hanging out.  Nothing is better than a summer backyard party with some of your closest friends.  
A big thanks to Mike's Hard Lemonade for this opportunity!  For more information on Mike's Hard Lemonade please visit Mike's Backyard.  #mikesbackyard #mikesVIP