Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats: May 2016

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Rhubarb Streusel Bread

Do you have some tart rhubarb stashed away in your freezer?
Make this bread!  It's perfect for breakfast and snacks.
And you'll never guess the secret ingredient.

rhubarb streusel bread (

You those times when you look in your rear view mirror and see flashing lights and think, "sucks to be them" only to realize they are following you?

Yeah, that was me yesterday.

The kids and I made a pit stop at my cousin's high school graduation and upon pulling out of their neighborhood I got pulled over.  My middle child immediately burst into tears and screamed, "Mom, please don't let them take you to jail!!!"

She's dramatic.

I immediately thought what was I doing?  Yeah, I was in an unfamiliar part of a city but did I do something wrong?  Come to find out I was 1 MPH OVER THE SPEED LIMIT.  I mean, really?  I got the speech of Memorial Day weekend, lots of traffic, blah, blah, blah.  It was quite comical and I came off with a warning.

Being married to a man in law enforcement it is always difficult to make "that call".  You know, the one when you've been pulled over.  Thankfully, he just laughed.

So that was part of my yesterday.  Other highlights included having friends over last night, grilling, drinking, letting the kids run amuck and enjoying the beautiful weather.  All in all a good day!

rhubarb streusel bread (

But, you know what is funny?  My immediate thought on my way home yesterday was....I wonder if I still have any of that rhubarb bread left in the freezer?

It was just calling my name.  I baked up a few loaves right before school got out and we snacked on it for breakfast and the after school munchies and then after realizing we were going to plow through it quickly I threw the last two remaining loaves in the freezer.

Do you freeze bread?  I do.  All kinds.  Sandwich bread {I usually buy 5-6 loaves at a time}, sweet breads like this and others.  It keeps them fresh and most importantly it prevents us for gorging on it all in one sitting.

When we did get home I pulled out a loaf to thaw.  It was still sweet and soft with that crunchy streusel crust.

I felt like I deserved it.  You know, getting involved with the law and all.

rhubarb streusel bread (

Rhubarb is plentiful here in the Midwest in the spring and early summer.  It grows wild in ditches, but many people also have patches in their yards.  Heck, a lot of them don't even know it is if you see it, ask them if you can have some!

I got a HUGE bag from a friend.  When I brought it home I washed it up and diced the stalks {which remind me of a celery texture} and used some in this bread, then froze the rest in freezer storage bags.

I also made this Rhubarb Custard Dessert.  The best of all time.  It really does beat out any darn pie. Everyone asks for this recipe.  Every year.  I just had another email about it this weekend.  Make it.

But desserts need to feed a crowd so when I want something smaller and a tad bit healthier, I make this bread.  You can even slice it up and use it in French toast!

Rhubarb Streusel Bread

2 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
2 1/2 t. baking powder
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 c. cottage cheese {pulsed in food processor or blender, until smooth}
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 c. diced rhubarb

For the topping:
3 T. sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease two loaf pans with cooking spray.
2.  In a large mixing bowl combine and whisk together all dry ingredients.
3.  In another bowl combine the cottage cheese, butter, eggs and vanilla.  Lightly stir this into the dry ingredients.  Do not over mix.
4.  Gently fold in the rhubarb.
5.  Divide the batter into the two loaf pans and sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mixture over top.
5.  Bake for 40-50 minutes, checking at 40 minutes for done-ness.  Loaves should be golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.
6.  Serve slices warm or at room temperature, keeping leftovers in an airtight container or baggie.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Smoky Chorizo Cheese Dip

Everyone needs a hot cheese dip in their life.
This Smoky Chorizo Cheese Dip is that dip!

smoky chorizo cheese dip (

You know what is fun?  Having your girlfriends over for drinks and yummy eats.  I did this last weekend and after they left I thought to myself, "why don't I do this more?"

My friend who sells Wildtree products gathered a bunch of us together and I offered up my house {we did just put on a new deck} for the fun.  Why not?  So we drank and ate and laughed {a lot} and drank and ate some more.

It really was the perfect night.  The weather was gorgeous and the company was even better. And I served this Smoky Chorizo Cheese Dip.  It was a hit!

smoky chorizo cheese dip (

This dip is incredibly easy because you dump everything in the crock pot and walk away. Come back once or twice to give it a stir and once it's all melted and ooey gooey you can dig in with a salty tortilla chip.

I remember fondly ordering a local restaurant's cheese dip to-go in college and my roommate and I would eat JUST THAT for dinner.  And if there were leftovers we'd eat it for lunch the next day.

God, what an awful diet we had.

Today, fast forward 15+ years later, I'm only eating the is dip occasionally and within reason. Would I like to eat it for a meal?  Probably, but my hips know better.

smoky chorizo cheese dip (

This dip has the added benefit of Spanish chorizo sausage.  This kind of pork sausage is loaded with smoky spices {paprika being #1} and makes any dish have incredible flavor.  I used it in breakfast burritos about a week prior and those were a hit, so I knew added it to this dip would win votes as well.

It's not that spicy, so don't freak out, but it is loaded with Mexican flavor.  Add to that creamy cheese, tomatoes, green chiles and other taco-ish spices and this dip won over everyone's heart.

And the leftovers have been eaten by my family all week long.  Like every night, no matter what we were having.  We didn't care if the meals didn't match - it was too good!

Smoky Chorizo Cheese Dip

1/2 lb. cooked chorizo
1 lb. Velveeta cheese
2 14.5 oz. cans Rotel
2 T. Wildtree Fiesta Salsa Mix {or your favorite taco seasoning}

1.  In a medium sized crock pot combine all of the ingredients, cube the cheese, and stir.  Set to LOW and heat until melted together.
2.  Serve warm with tortilla chips.

smoky chorizo cheese dip (

You know, I'm kinda a dip girl.  I've often said that if I would ever get a cookbook deal, I'd have a whole chapter devoted to them.  Here are a few more of my favorites, both cold and hot, yet equally delicious.

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.

campfire s'mores bars (

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

homemade yogurt pops (

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.

homemade yogurt pops (

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.

homemade yogurt pops (

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

I'm all ears!