Halloween Almond Bark

Almond Bark

Okay so I am a bit late for this recipe!! But regardless I know someone will appreciate this recipe next year around Halloween time! I’ve been preparing everything when it comes to my clean eating challenge, which officially begins today!! Trying to keep that organized while also running my fitness challenge group, and preparing for the next one to begin! Needless to say I have been busy, and without a proper planning system, I am getting disorganized very quickly! So, with my hectic life right now, you can understand why I’m a week late in posting this lovely Halloween themed Almond Bark recipe, which in all honesty I never even got to try out myself! Guess that means it was good? 🙂

What You’ll Need:

  • 12-14 Oreo cookies, broken up into large chunks
    • BTW, could not for the life of me find orange and black ones?! What is this blasphemy??
  • 1 cup pretzels, broken into pieces
  • 1 pound almond bark or white chocolate melts
  • 1 1/2 cups candy corn
  • 20-30 candy eyeballs
  • 1-2 tbsp of a variety of Halloween sprinkles

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Directions:

  1. Melt almond bark according to package. I slowly melted mine in a sauce pan over low heat, until it appears smooth and shiny. Make sure to stir frequently to prevent burning.
  2. While melting the bark, cover a large cookie sheet with wax paper or parchment paper. Spread broken cookies, pretzels and about 1 cup of the candy corn onto the prepared cookie sheet.
  3. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cookie mixture, spreading with spatula to coat evenly.
    1. This part can be tricky, as the mixture items will want to come up with the spatula. I still need to find a little trick to prevent this from happening the next time!
  4. Quickly sprinkle remaining candy corn, candy eyeballs and Halloween sprinkles over the almond bark while it is still wet. Place cookie tray into refrigerator until set and firm, roughly 30 minutes.
  5. Break up into small pieces and enjoy!

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Pumpkin Spice Cake Balls

Pumpkin Spice Cake BallsI am so excited to share this post-Halloween recipe with you today! I’m obsessed with holiday themed treats and decided to try my hand at cake balls! I love the look of cake balls, they are so petite and easy to eat, and before creating this batch I had never even had one before! Yes I know, crazy, they have only been super popular for about three years now..what can I saw I’m a little late.

So basically I searched my favorite site, PINTEREST, of course! I simply put in a search for pumpkin spice cake recipes and stumbled across the cake ball one. It’s been a long time coming to try out a cake ball recipe for me, all of my previous baking experiences lead me to this moment! Granted there were some hiccups along the way due to me not reading the instructions fully..oopsies. But they turned out so amazingly perfect regardless of my ingredients malfunction and are probably the softest dessert I have ever consumed! Definitely going to be some more cake balls in the near future, I think I might put some together for my sister’s bridal shower coming up in December!

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What You’ll Need for the Cake:

  • 1 box spice cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 – 15 ounce can pumpkin puree (or roughly 2 cups)
  • 1 container cream cheese frosting

What You’ll Need for the Coating:

  • 1 pound vanilla candy coating/almond bark
  • 1-3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate chips
  • Sprinkles of your choosing

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and lightly-flour your cake pan, set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the cake mix, eggs, and pumpkin puree and mix until just combined. Continue to beat for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely.
    1. So I did not use a mixer like the instructions said, I’m perfectly capable at whisking 🙂 and I also did the batter according to the instructions on the back of the cake box and proceeded to add the pumpkin puree as well….this is where I need to pay attention more to instructions!
    2. Because of the additional ingredients and the fact that I did not separate the batter between two cake pans my cake took a bit longer to cook  through completely, roughly 35-40 minutes.
  3. Once your cake has completely cooled, break up the cake into a large bowl, add in the cream cheese frosting (roughly half the container), and using clean hands, smoosh it together until well-mixed. Using damp hands, form the mixture into 1″ balls and place them onto a baking sheet. Once you’ve finished with all the mixture, place the baking sheet in the freezer.
  4. While the cake balls are chilling, melt the candy coating in a saucepan over low heat, until smooth. Add in the vegetable oil, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is the thickness of a thin alfredo sauce. Turn off the burner.
    1. Do not try to thin out the coating with milk or water, it will start to look like cottage cheese and not edible whatsoever.
  5. Remove the cake balls from the freezer, working one at a time, gently drop a cake ball into the coating, and spoon more over top until completely covered. Fish out the ball with a spoon, and place it on wax paper to harden. Repeat the process, and don’t worry you will have plenty coating to do all of the balls.
  6. Optional: For decoration you can melt the semisweet chocolate chips in the microwave at 30 second intervals so as not to burn the chocolate. Once melted, spoon into a Ziploc bag, cut off the bottom corner at an angle so as to create a makeshift frosting tip. Drizzle over cake balls and top with sprinkles.

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Cake balls are BEYOND delicious, so moist and literally so versatile, I opted out of doing them on an actual stick this time around, but I know that they are much easier to do with the stick. They will look so much cleaner! I actually cut off the excess candy coating just to make them more appealing when I brought them to the Halloween Party. Oh, and tomorrow I will be posting the recipe for Halloween Bark 🙂 So exciting!! But come Monday it’s back to the daily grind of healthy eating with the start of my 7 Day FREE Clean Eating Challenge!! I’ll post more on that later if any of my avid bloggers out there are wanting to join! Happy Tuesday everyone!

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One Pan Ranch Pork Chops

Ranch Pork ChopsSo this has to be the most flavorful recipe for pork chops that I have ever encountered! Not only do they manage to be stock full of flavor, but this recipe still allows for the pork to come out juicy and not all dried out. Since I am trying to bring different recipes into the home as of late, I decided to drift from chicken for a little bit and try my hand at some pork chops! Granted we had planned to grill them at first, but come to find out the grills downstairs are all busted and not in working order! But hey, at least it allowed me to get creative and come up with a solution!

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 (8 ounce) pork chops, bone in or out
    • I used bone out!
  • 16 ounces baby red potatoes, halved
  • 16 ounces green beans, trimmed
    • I opted out of the green beans altogether, we’re not much of a bean household
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 (1 ounce) package Ranch Seasoning and Salad Dressing Mix
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil baking sheet/dish or coat with nonstick spray.
  2. Place pork chops, potatoes and green beans in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Ranch Seasoning and garlic; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Place into oven and roast until the pork is completely cooked through, if you happen to have a meat thermometer you will want it at 140 degrees F, about 20-22 minutes. Then broil for 2-3 minutes, or until caramelized and slightly charred.
    1. This was my first time broiling anything btw! It was exciting 🙂
  4. Serve immediately, garnish with the parsley, if desired.

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Since I opted out of serving with green beans, because gross, I did a side Caesar Salad instead. The entire meal turned out super delicious and it was just the right amount per serving so that you don’t over indulge! We’re all about portioning over here as of late, well at least I am! I’m not dealing with those pesky leftovers any more! No WAY! Check out the link >>here<< for the original recipe from Damn Delicious! Happy cooking!

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Monster Cookie Dough Dip

This recipe title may seem deceiving, but trust me it is NOT in the least….it’s actual cookie dough..with no egg that you can just devour. Talk about dangerous! This wonderful recipe I found – of course – through Pinterest. Then of course the credit goes to The Girl Who Ate Everything, for introducing me to this delicious delicacy, which in some instances I slightly modified to my own personal liking.

The best part about this dish is that there’s really nothing to it at all, it’s simple, to the point, and really curbs your sweet tooth!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 oz) cream cheese package, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, slightly softened melted
  • 1 cup creamy crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2  1 cup rolled oats, old fashioned or quick
  • 2/3 cup M&M’s (add more or less according to preference)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. With a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter, and peanut butter until smooth.
    1. I do not own a mixer of any kind *sigh* so this was all in the wrists for me with a whisk, which is much harder- I would assume- when using crunchy peanut butter. I LOVE crunchy peanut butter though, you can also substitute for almond butter if you are wanting a somewhat healthier alternative. It will still taste AMAZING!
    2. Also, since I do not have a mixer I left the cream cheese out to soften for about 15 minutes and opted to melt the butter so it was easier to mix together by hand.
  2. Next, add in the powdered sugar, brown sugar, flour, and vanilla extract.
  3. Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, or just a wooden spoon (or a spatula in my case), mix in the oats.
    1. Since I used crunchy peanut butter with that added texture already I opted to lower the amount of oats I put into the dip, it really thickens up once added. I do like the thickness more than a smoother dip, this is all about preference here! Plus, you are putting it in the fridge afterwards, it will firm up!
  4. Add the M&M’s and chocolate chips.
  5. Store in the refrigerator until serving.
    1. This is where it gets fun! The dip goes well with almost anything! I, like The Girl Who Ate Everything, opted for a spoonful. But It’s a great dip for graham crackers, salted pretzels, and all kinds of fruits.

My Thoughts:

This dish was just mind-blowingly (I don’t think that’s a word, but I’m making it one) awesome! I am very glad that I switched it up a bit, I have tried it the original way and then modified it more because in all honesty it became too sweet for me. I am very partial to sweets, so I added the salty and sweet to balance it out more to where I could eat it more easily. But even so, I do not think there is a wrong way to make this dish!

All in all it was prepped and cooked within about 15 minutes, I didn’t even have it in the fridge for 5 minutes before I sat eating it out of the container! I definitely plan on adding it to the list for dishes I am making for the upcoming Halloween Party!

*Correction, I now HAVE a hand mixer! Of course now I have two, since it was on the registry but not everyone checked it I guess! Works for me 🙂 *

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Buffalo Chicken Lasagna Rolls

Another throwback recipe!! With the hubby not being able to tolerate spicy foods I haven’t had a chance to make this one a second time around! This one is definitely worth a try for your taste buds, they will go crazy!

I got this recipe through Pinterest, posted by Simply Gloria. Where I also did the recipe step-by-step and she had the most helpful tips, photos and tricks listed with the recipe as well! Before trying out this meal, I had NO clue how to shred chicken, or even that you could boil chicken. MIND BLOWN. On top of that, the sauce for this recipe I have also incorporated it into countless on-the-spot dinners now at home!

2014-10-28 08.29.15_resizedIngredients:

  • 6 8 lasagna pasta, drained and cooked
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 1 cup buffalo sauce, divided
  • 1 (8 oz) cream cheese package, divided
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups mozzarella, shredded

Directions:

  1. Add 6 pieces of lasagna pasta to a large pot of boiling water.
    1. I used 8 pieces. No changes have to be made to the measurements.
  2. Cook pasta for 4-5 minutes. It will finish cooking in the oven.
    1. I had to cook mine for about 7-8, I live in a rental and my oven burners are uneven when cooking.
    2. While the pasta is cooking start on the white cream sauce and chicken. (See Notes below)
  3. Drain pasta in strainer and lay pasta onto paper towels to dry off excess water.
    1. This was trial and error, I cooked the extra pieces for this reason, I had a one lasagna pastas tear upon removal from the water that could not be used to roll. Hence the seven rolls pictured above, not too shabby.
  4.  For the white cream sauce – heat a sauce pan (medium to large) at medium heat, add the butter, 4 oz (or half) of the cream cheese, and the heavy whipping cream. Whisk it all together while it is heating up. Sprinkle in some garlic and onion powder seasoned salt. You can also add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside once it has thickened.
  5.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the shredded chicken, the remaining 4 oz of cream cheese, mozzarella, and buffalo sauce. Stir and set aside.
  6. Put a spoonful of the white cream sauce on each pasta. Next, spread the chicken mixture evenly on top of the sauce. (Be sure not to overload it, otherwise it won’t roll up) Sprinkle with some mozzarella, then roll up.
  7. Have a baking dish off to the side with some white cream sauce on the bottom. Set each lasagna roll onto the sauce.
  8. Pour the remaining cream sauce on the roll-ups. Sprinkle on more mozzarella and drizzle some extra buffalo sauce.
    1. Seriously just drizzle, as you can see above I overloaded mine, and the sauce overpowered the dish. It was still delicious, but it was just too much buffalo sauce.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, bake for about 25-30 minutes. Then allow it to rest and cool for about 10 minutes after pulling it out of the oven.

Notes:

How to Shred Chicken Breasts: Put the 2 boneless chicken breasts into a pot of water at about medium heat. (No need to rinse the chicken) Cover with lid and bring to a boil. Once it has come to a boil, remove from heat but leave the lid on and let the chicken continue to cook for roughly 20 minutes. Then, take out the chicken and shred with two forks.

My Thoughts:

This dish was superb, besides the fact that my drizzling techniques need some definite work! I will most certainly be attempting this one again, and since I have been using this same white cream sauce on many dishes, I would add much more to this recipe than what is listed. In my attempt I did not have enough to fill the bottom of the baking dish with leftovers to pour over the top. I also did not have onion powder on hand, so I opted for seasoned salt instead.

You also can take it one step at a time, I cooked all three separate items at once to cut back on time, and also because I prefer multitasking. I also found out that the noodles would not roll up as easily if left sitting for too long, and ended up having to put them back in the pot for a few extra minutes once the chicken was finally ready to be shredded.

Overall, this recipe does take a little over an hour to make, what with prep time then cooking/cooling times. It was a weekend dinner for me when I wasn’t too rushed to complete it. But I would definitely recommend it! Check out more recipes by Simply Gloria!

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Chicken Bacon-Ranch Pasta

Foodie Friday!! Another one we’re bringing out this week! It still stands true that I have a bit of an obsession with pastas…which unfortunately are not in my weekly meals right now…well I guess I’ll just salivate and hope for this recipe to come back into my life!!

This week I had some extra chicken to make a sort of “cheat” meal and took a minor detour from my otherwise healthy meal planning. It’s REALLY hard not to have noodles for me. I have a slight addiction to pastas, you would think I’m Italian, but in reality I am not. But anyways I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a while now and am so glad I finally got to! Even though the bowl I made for myself completely filled me up before I even finished it, which I guess isn’t a bad thing, I had to force myself not to finish it up *sigh for moderation*

Of course I have the habit of not completely reading the directions through and always end up modifying the recipe in some shape or form, but this still turned out amazingly and makes it even better when you already have all the ingredients on hand. Those happen to be my FAVORITE kinds of recipes.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 lb of pasta (I used penne pasta)
  • 6 strips of bacon, diced
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 packet of ranch seasoning mix
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut into pieces)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese20150223_184834_resized

Directions:

  1. Start by dicing your bacon strips, you can also start cooking the pasta during this time.
    1. I kept the pasta at low heat so I wouldn’t have to mess with it too often while taking care of everything else, and it’s much harder to dice bacon than it seems.
  2. Once your bacon is diced, start cooking in a skillet, also start on dicing up your chicken breasts; once cooked thoroughly drain the grease, leaving 1 tbsp of drippings in the pan.
    1. To make it easier on myself I tilted the skillet at an angle and filled a tbsp full and drained the rest, then poured the tbsp back into the pan. No burns!20150223_185815_resized
  3. Add your diced chicken breasts to the skillet along with the 1 tbsp of butter; cook thoroughly.
  4. After the chicken is completely cooked through, add the ranch seasoning mix, flour and milk over the chicken. Stir until the mixture becomes bubbly and thick.
    1. The original recipe didn’t specify that the bacon was supposed to be pulled out of the skillet so I left the bacon pieces in the skillet throughout all of these additions and it still turned out fine!
  5. Add the cheese and stir until melted; if you removed the bacon pieces from the skillet go ahead and add half of the lot at this time as well. 20150223_192557_resized
  6. Combine the sauce and the noodles together – add salt and pepper to taste.
    1. My skillet was not large enough to combine the two so I just topped off the noodles with the sauce mixture. I should have used my larger skillet as I was left with plain noodles afterwards. I recommend combining so it’s evenly distributed!
  7. Top off the dish with the leftover bacon pieces and dig in!
    1. Again, was not aware the bacon was to be removed, all of my bacon was already in the mixture! 20150223_193412_resized

My Thoughts:

This dish was actually better than I thought it would be and much easier to prepare than I previously thought. I wish there was more explanation when it came to the bacon pieces in the original recipe, I would have liked the pieces to not have been so crispy, yet it was still delicious! Definitely will be using my larger skillet the next time I make this dish so I can combine the noodles as well. Having a random serving of plain pasta leftover is just awkward, you don’t really know what to do with them! Thankfully last night I made a meatloaf (will post that recipe as well) and the boys had the extra noodles as part of their side! If not for the dish being so filling in itself I would suggest a nice side salad to go with it, or some asparagus! The serving shown above I didn’t even finish! But I have also been eating much lighter these past few weeks.

I highly recommend trying this recipe out, oh! And in case you can’t find the ranch seasoning mix they are usually on the upper shelves with salad dressings, I only knew what it was because Shane’s mom uses these packets to make chip dips, which are AMAZING btw…..oh how I miss chips. Hope ya’ll enjoy this one! Check out below for some more pasta recipes! Also check out the original recipe >>> here<<<!

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Hummus-Crusted Chicken

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I have a rather unhealthy but healthy obsession with hummus as of late, I use it for all of my lunch snacks throughout the day and you would think I get sick of it sooner or later, but if anything my obsession has only grown since finding this gem of a recipe! Of course this was found during a Pinterest binge, but I completely modified this one when it comes to the flavor and the veggies, which I decided to put together to really fit my preferences. This recipe is absolutely AMAZING and only took a total of about 10 minutes of prep time, then 30 minutes to cook! Healthy + Time Savvy = my FAVORITE kinds of recipes!

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 red peppers, sliced
  • 1 bunch asparagus, chopped
  • 1 cup, Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. garlic

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare one large baking dish with cooking spray.
    1. I used coconut oil spray!
  2. Pat the chicken dry, then season the chicken breasts with pinches of salt and pepper. In a large bowl toss the peppers and asparagus with olive oil until evenly coated. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of garlic.Step 1
  3. Place all of the veggies on the bottom of the dish in an even layer. Lay the four chicken breasts evenly on top, then cover each chicken breast with the hummus until the entire breast is covered. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon, or the equivalent of 1 tbsp. lemon juice (if bottled), over the chicken and veggies.Step 2
  4. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the veggies are tender. Serve immediately.

I needed to add a carb into our dinner so I chose to go with garlic-herb quinoa as a side to this awesome dish! Sometimes you need to substitute the rice for something else and this sounded like a perfect side to compliment the flavor of the chicken. I also coated both sides of the chicken breast in hummus, which worked out perfectly as it became a sort of sauce to go with the veggies and mix in with the quinoa. I can’t wait to try out this recipe with more hummus flavors!

If I could do anything differently I think I would cook the asparagus and peppers in a separate dish, they turned out a little too soggy for my liking, but still delicious! You can find where I modified this recipe from >>>here<<<. Don’t be afraid to play around with your veggies on this one, it’s all about YOUR preferences! Until next time!

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