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Encouraging Kids to Make the Most Nutritious Food Choices

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyMilkMyWay #CollectiveBias. I am working with The National Milk Life Campaign.

“Do you want to grow up big and strong? Finish your milk!” I can say with honesty that I didn’t have the best nutrition growing up. Too much of the not-so-great stuff and definitely not enough of what was nutritious. I knew right away when I became a mom that I wanted things to be different for my kids. I wanted them to crave the good stuff. To choose the good stuff even when the not-so-great stuff was an option too. I didn’t want them to have the same bad eating habits I had – choosing poorly, picky eating and refusing to try new foods. My kids are choosing well, and drinking milk daily is one of the best choices they make.

How can we encourage kids to make the most nutritious food choices? These tips help incorporate complete proteins, vitamins and essential nutrients. #ad

As a family of six, we purchase a lot of food. Over the past few years my husband and I been focused on purchasing more of what’s nutritious. More of what’s wholesome and satisfying. More good sources of protein. Naturally milk plays a big part in our family’s diet. With four kids (ages 17 months to 13 years old) we go through a gallon of milk every two days. Drinking milk and using it in my daily cooking is a great way to fill our bodies with natural, high-quality protein plus other nutrients we need.

How can we encourage kids to make the most nutritious food choices? These tips help incorporate complete proteins, vitamins and essential nutrients. #ad

Why Do Kids Need Milk?

I’m fortunate in that all my kids are huge milk drinkers. We purchase whole milk for the baby, who needs it for proper brain development. The rest of the family drinks low-fat milk.

One 8-ounce glass of milk provides eight grams of natural, high-quality protein. Protein helps to build lean muscle and keep bones strong. So when we’re telling our kids to finish their glass of milk because it will make them stronger, it’s speaking truth!

Unfortunately many kids overall are drinking less milk. That means some kids aren’t getting enough of milk’s 9 essential nutrients, like high-quality protein calcium, potassium and vitamin D. Kids desperately need these to grow. Dairy milk is the top food source for these three nutrients, calcium, potassium and vitamin D.

How can we encourage kids to make the most nutritious food choices? These tips help incorporate complete proteins, vitamins and essential nutrients. #ad

Ways to Encourage Kids to Drink More Milk

My kids start off each day with a well-rounded breakfast. I’m always shocked to hear how many of their peers don’t eat breakfast at all before school. Even if breakfast is grab-and-go, a glass of milk is a simple and wholesome way to help kids get natural protein and balanced nutrition. I serve my kids an 8 ounce glass of milk at breakfast and again at dinner. Each cup of milk has 8 grams natural, high-quality protein.

Low Pressure and Balance

As a formerly picky eater I can attest to pressure from my parents as a big reason why I would not try new foods. I was stubborn and it was definitely a control thing for me, being able to say “No, I’m NOT going to eat that!”. I’ve found that encouraging the “just one bite” or “just one sip” method brings fewer struggles with my kids.

We actually just went through it this morning, when my son didn’t want to try his blueberry smoothie. I told him he didn’t have to like it, he just needed to try it.

Offer a good balance and don’t flat-out banning treats (especially if your child has become accustomed to eating them). Yes, we still eat dessert. Just not after every meal and not even every day.

What If Your Child Says They Don’t Like Milk?

What if kids aren’t crazy about the taste of white milk? No worries because flavored milk also counts as a serving of dairy and provides the same nine essential nutrients. Or choose to create recipes that incorporate the recommended daily serving of milk in another way.

How can we encourage kids to make the most nutritious food choices? These tips help incorporate complete proteins, vitamins and essential nutrients. #ad

Do Adults Need Milk?

Many adults simply do not get the necessary amount of protein each day. I used to be one of them. And naturally, without the natural, high-quality protein in my system, I’d be hungry again within an hour after eating. I personally find myself craving milk so I know my body needs the extra protein and calcium.

How can we encourage kids to make the most nutritious food choices? These tips help incorporate complete proteins, vitamins and essential nutrients. #ad

Did you know dairy milk protein is a complete protein? Most plant proteins are incomplete. This means they’re missing some of the amino acids your body needs. Milk is also a top source of calcium in the diet — with one cup offering about a third of the recommended amount for one day. An 8-ounce glass of milk gives you about 30 percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin D. The vitamin D and calcium work together to build and maintain strong bones, helping to protect older adults from osteoporosis.

And as someone trying to shed the last 15 lbs of “baby weight” I’m incorporating milk consumption in my diet as a way to increase muscle mass. A study in women found that including fat free milk in a recovery routine during a 12 week training program resulted in greater muscle mass, strength gains, and fat loss (compared to a carb-only sports drink with the same calories).

How can we encourage kids to make the most nutritious food choices? These tips help incorporate complete proteins, vitamins and essential nutrients. #ad

Other Ways to Get the Benefits of Milk

There are some easy ways to incorporate milk naturally into the day. Of course, drinking a glass of milk is the easiest way to take advantage of the nutritious benefits! Here are some ways that I add milk into our recipes:

  • Serve milk with cereal or grains at breakfast.
  • Use milk when making scrambled eggs, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles or French toast.
  • Make a low-fat or skim milk smoothie. I freeze fruit and greens (like kale or spinach) just before they’re overripe. Then toss them into the blender with 8-oz of milk and a few ice cubes.
  • Make milk-rich recipes for dinner like quiche, macaroni and cheese, creamy broccoli soup, Alfredo sauce or frittata.
  • For dessert, make pudding, frozen smoothie pops or custard.
  • Add chocolate to milk to make cocoa.

How can we encourage kids to make the most nutritious food choices? These tips help incorporate complete proteins, vitamins and essential nutrients. #ad

Confession Time

I’ll be totally honest. I don’t like the taste of plain white milk! I never have, even as a child. But I do still drink my milk by including it daily inside a smoothie at breakfast. Toss in lots of frozen berries and even a handful of greens and I’m good for the day.

There are lots of other ways to include milk into your daily diet – Looking for more ideas on how to incorporate more milk into your everyday? Visit MilkLife.com for more information and recipes.

What if you could give your kids a nutrient-rich, delicious, farm fresh beverage with natural protein and no sugar added – all for about a quarter per serving? Surprise – it’s something that’s likely already in your fridge – white milk!

How can we encourage kids to make the most nutritious food choices? These tips help incorporate complete proteins, vitamins and essential nutrients. #MyMilkMyWay #ad

Hearty Bean and Lentil Soup Recipe

Let’s be honest. Lentils don’t make for the prettiest soup. They often look dark and unappetizing, making most kids turn up their noses at dinner. This lentil and bean soup is something different entirely though because it not only tastes delicious, it’s also lovely to look at and appealing for everyone. I hope that you’ll enjoy my hearty lentil and bean soup recipe!

Never Cooked with Lentils? This Hearty Lentil & Bean Soup is quick & delicious!

Never Cooked with Lentils?

We aim to eat 2-3 meatless meals during the week for our health and digestion (lots of fiber in this bowl!) We also try and choose organic when we can. This is a deliciously hearty cold-weather meal that can be served with a slice of buttered bread, roll or a warm tortilla.

I’ll be totally honest: I never cooked with dried beans until just a few years ago. I thought they were time consuming and that I wouldn’t make them correctly. And I never really liked the flavor either.

Never Cooked with Lentils? This Hearty Lentil & Bean Soup is quick & delicious!

I didn’t make beans because I didn’t think the kids would eat them. However all of my kids have grown to love beans, and so have I! If you use great ingredients, the flavors just come together. My preschooler says he doesn’t like soup so I just serve him the beans and the veggies on a plate, sans broth and he gobbles it up (silly boy!)

My local store sells these lentils and beans in a dry goods blend. For around $1.50 a pound, you’ll get a great mix of lentils and dry beans. If your store doesn’t sell this type of mix, you can easily put one together yourself with a colorful mix of lentils and some dry beans.

Never Cooked with Lentils? This Hearty Lentil & Bean Soup is quick & delicious!

Sometimes I use the beautiful organic rainbow carrots for an even more colorful bowl of soup! The dark specks are from the fire roasted tomatoes, which add lots of great flavor but not a bunch of heat.

Hearty Lentil and Bean Soup Recipe

Hearty Lentil and Bean Soup Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup of celery, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups dried lentil & bean mix
  • 2 cans (or one box) vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and celery. Stir and cook until onion is tender.
  2. Add garlic, oregano and basil and cook 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in lentils and beans then add broth and water and the can of tomatoes with the juice.
  4. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer covered for 90 minutes.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot!
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Never Cooked with Lentils? This Hearty Lentil & Bean Soup is quick & delicious!

 

Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Potato Soup Recipe

 Guilt-free Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Potato Soup Recipe

Guilt-Free Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Potato Soup Recipe

Last week we had our first hint of fall here in Southern California. Temperatures dropped from the high 90s and we were blessed with several cool days. I struggle to cook in the summer months because it’s just so darned hot in my little house without air conditioning. And I sure do get bored eating salad at every meal! As soon as I felt a cool in the air, I delighted in baking chocolate chip cookies and made a delicious pot roast in the Dutch oven. I also made a family favorite, my roasted garlic and rosemary potato soup recipe.

Guilt-free Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Potato Soup Recipe

I’ve been making this soup for years, much to the delight of my family. I like that I can prepare the potatoes ahead of time and then put together the soup quickly for dinner.This soup is appropriately creamy and flavorful with a wholesome thickness but without the guilt that creamy soups usually have. You know, like tons of butter and cream? Not here!

Recipe for easy Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Potato Soup

Half of the potatoes are peeled, then sprinkled with chopped onion and rosemary and drizzled with olive oil

Recipe for easy Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Potato Soup

Check out that beautiful garlic clove, pure heaven!

No butter or heavy cream in this one, just a little bit of half and half. The thickness comes from the potatoes themselves, pureed into the base inside your blender. Couldn’t be easier! And if you wanted to make it even more of a healthy dish, you could replace the half and half with milk instead.

Recipe for easy Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Potato Soup

Guilt-free Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Potato Soup Recipe

This soup is wonderful served as a meal of its own or alongside a fresh green salad, turkey sandwich or just a piece of buttered bread (that’s how I had it!) We had a small amount left over for lunch the next day so I warmed it back up in a pot with a drizzle of milk to thin it and it reheated back up nicely. Mmmm, such a warm and cozy fall meal, I think you’ll love my Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Potato Soup Recipe!

Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Potato Soup Recipe

Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Potato Soup Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 1 large bulb garlic
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 14 oz chicken broth (or one bouillon cube dissolved in 2 cups of water)
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup of half and half

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel and cube three of the potatoes and place on one side of a 9" x 2" pan.
  3. Cube the remaining three potatoes with the skin on and place those on the other side of the pan (peeled potatoes on one side, unpeeled on the other).
  4. Sprinkle chopped onion and snipped rosemary across the top of the potatoes.
  5. Peel off the dry outsides on the garlic bulb. Cut across the top, leaving the bulb intact but exposing the cloves. Place upright in the center of the pan.
  6. Drizzle oil across the top of garlic and potatoes.
  7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes. Set aside to fully cool.
  8. Squeeze the garlic paste from the bulbs into a high-powered blender.
  9. Add peeled potatoes, half the onion, half the broth and all of the flour and pepper into the blender.
  10. Blend until nearly smooth.
  11. Pour into a medium saucepan and add in unpeeled potatoes, rest of onion and broth. Add half and half.
  12. Cook until bubbly and warm.
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Perfect Picnic Potluck Slow Cooker Baked Beans Recipe

This baked beans recipe is the perfect side dish! It's budget-friendly and crowd-pleasing. Best of all this baked bean recipe goes together in the slow cooker!

Need a perfect side dish to take with you to a potluck? How about an easy side dish that you can put together quickly and then leave to cook on its own? Something cheap and that everyone will love? Of course, we all want those kind of dishes and this baked beans recipe fits the bill! And it can be cooked in the slow cooker so that’s even better! Keep reading for the baked beans recipe-

My mom has been making these beans for years and brings them to each family gathering. In fact, our family doesn’t ask her what she’d like to bring to a potluck, they just tell her, “You’re bringing your baked beans”. They are just so good and perfect for a potluck.

When I had a potluck invitation last month, I requested the bean recipe from Mom. And when I got to the part in the recipe that said “Bake for 7 hours” I stopped in my tracks. Temperatures were in the high 90s and there was no way I was cooking a casserole of beans for 7 hours when I don’t have air conditioning! So I adjusted the recipe and made it in my slow cooker and they came out just as delicious.

This baked beans recipe is the perfect side dish! It's budget-friendly and crowd-pleasing. Best of all this baked bean recipe goes together in the slow cooker!This baked beans recipe is the perfect side dish! It's budget-friendly and crowd-pleasing. Best of all this baked bean recipe goes together in the slow cooker!This baked beans recipe is the perfect side dish! It's budget-friendly and crowd-pleasing. Best of all this baked bean recipe goes together in the slow cooker!

Don’t be nervous about using dry beans, they are totally easy to work with. And so inexpensive (a one pound bag for this recipe costs just around $1.20). Feel free to adjust the amount of brown sugar and molasses to taste. If you prefer them less sweet, just add less sugar. I find that the liquid thickens up nicely overnight in the fridge and you can skim off any fat from the bacon that has floated to the top. The beans heat up well in a pan on the stove top for leftovers…if there are any! I hope you enjoy my mom’s recipe.

This baked beans recipe is the perfect side dish! It's budget-friendly and crowd-pleasing. Best of all this baked bean recipe goes together in the slow cooker!

Perfect Picnic Potluck Slow Cooker Baked Beans

Ingredients

  • 1 lb dry navy beans or small white beans
  • 1 package (12 oz) bacon
  • Yellow onion, chopped
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Add dry beans to a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cover. Leave to soak in hot water for one hour.
  2. Cut bacon into 1" pieces and fry in a skillet until starting to crisp. Add chopped onion in with the bacon and grease and saute until onion is softened.
  3. Remove two cups of water from the soaking beans and pour into a bowl. Add brown sugar, dry mustard and molasses, stirring to combine.
  4. Drain beans of the remainder of water and add to the slow cooker. Add bacon and onions, stir to combine. Pour liquid into the cooker and stir all. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours or on low for 7 hours.
  5. Add salt to taste.
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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Tangy Slaw

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Tangy Slaw

Slow Cooker Recipe? Perfect Timing!

It’s been in the high 90s at our house for a few weeks and we don’t have air conditioning. When it’s that hot I do not want to turn on my oven. I do not want to stand over a hot stove. Sometimes I don’t even feel like I have the energy to think about eating because the heat just wears me out! Here’s a quick and delicious way to cook dinner without heating up the house. And clean up is super quick so you can eat and get back in the pool!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Tangy Slaw

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

I saw a recipe online for pulled pork that required 7 HOURS of cooking in the oven!! Heck no, I’m not turning my oven on that long. You can still get a tender pulled pork in your slow cooker using my recipe. This recipe calls for a 4 lb pork shoulder roast or pork butt (I buy these in bulk at Costco). You could also easily double this recipe if you’re serving more or if you want to freeze half of the cooked meat for another meal.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Tangy Slaw

I wrap my pork in foil to keep the juices contained as much as possible for moist meat!

Tangy Cabbage Slaw

You could buy one of those bags of pre-cut cole slaw mix but cutting your own cabbage is so cheap and easy. And using fresh cabbage really gives your slaw a great crunch! Consider using some purple cabbage to add color to your slaw. I cut my cabbage on the thicker side with a long bread knife but you can cut it however you wish.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Tangy Slaw

I picked up these yummy buns in the bakery section of the grocery store. They are heartier than packaged hamburger buns so the bread doesn’t get too soggy when you add the juicy pork and slaw. Serve these sandwiches with a helping of BBQ potato chips and corn on the cob and that’s a tasty meal you don’t have to slave over the hot oven for!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Tangy Slaw

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Tangy Slaw

Ingredients

  • 4 lb pork shoulder roast or pork butt
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce
  • 4 buns, sliced lengthwise
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, sliced (I used a mix of colors)
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Milk, as needed

Instructions

  1. Remove pork from packaging and pat dry. In a medium bowl, mix dry spice ingredients. Add pork and rub on the mixture until pork is covered. Wrap pork tightly inside a sheet of heavy aluminum foil. Place the pork inside the slow cooker then add sliced onions all around inside. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours or low for 8 hours.
  2. When done, use a baster or a measuring cup to carefully remove 1 cup of liquid from the slow cooker and add to a large bowl. Mix in 2 cups of barbecue sauce and combine with the liquid. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon and add to the bowl.
  3. Carefully remove the roast from the foil while it's inside the slow cooker and discard foil. Transfer the meat to the bowl with the liquid and onions. Use two large forks to shred the pork with the juices and cooked onions until completely torn apart.
  4. For slaw, use a large bowl to whisk together vinegar, mayo, yogurt, salt and pepper. Add milk a teaspoon at a time until mixture is a good consistency and not lumpy. Add sliced cabbage and chopped red onion, combining with two large spoons until all cabbage is coated with sauce.
  5. Top bottom bun with pork, add a generous portion of slaw and top with bun. You might have to eat this with a fork and knife (that's what I do!)
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One Way to Make Cooking for Picky Eaters a Lot Easier

One Way to Make Cooking for Picky Eaters a Lot Easier (and a $20 off code to use on MasterPan!)

We cook 99% of our meals at home, by scratch and on a budget. This means a few things – With 5 eaters to please, it can be a challenge to make a meal that everyone will enjoy (keeping in mind the “I don’t want onions in mine” concerns!) Also, making dinner at home means there is always clean up. Dishes & utensils, napkins & place mats, leftovers to put away and always pots and pans to wash. Lots of pots and pans!

I really try not to fall into the trap of making multiple dishes to please each person in our family. We have a rule in our our house, “You don’t have to like it but you do have to try it”. There is also no crying about food. After all, we try to teach our kids that a plate of healthy food in front of them is something to be grateful for.

That being said, if it’s easy for me to make a meal that doesn’t automatically mix onions and peppers that my pickiest eater won’t try (I’m looking at you, four-year-old!), then I’ll take that route if it means he’ll eat his dinner without complaint. Here’s one way to make cooking at home easier for picky eaters.

I received a complimentary MasterPan to facilitate this post but all thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

One Way to Make Cooking for Picky Eaters a Lot Easier (and a $20 off code to use on MasterPan!)

MasterPan Keeps it All Separated for Picky Eaters

I recently had the chance to try out MasterPan for dinner last week. I was intrigued by it and hoped (fingers crossed!) that it would make dinnertime a little easier as in I could keep certain foods separated and at the same time only dirty one pan. I liked that it only used one burner which saves on gas (versus having four burners going with four separate pans) and I would only have to watch one pan instead of four.

I had some leftover steamed Yukon gold potatoes that I wanted to warm and fry up for dinner. I also had two chicken sausages from the deli and some chopped red peppers and onions to saute. This is a family favorite that I usually cook in several pans (because my little one fusses about the onions and peppers touching his sausage…sigh!)

One Way to Make Cooking for Picky Eaters a Lot Easier (and a $20 off code to use on MasterPan!)

There were a few questions I had before trying MasterPan and as I cooked, I found the answers –

Will it work on one burner? – Yes, only one burner is needed to cook. The  center of the MasterPan is the hottest cooking area but the heat flows through the rest of the pan to heat the outside compartments as well.

Timing your foods to be done at the same time is one of the usual challenges of cooking. I liked that the outer compartments on the MasterPan heated slowly so I was able to add everything to the pan at once and with a few turns on the sausages and some shifting of the onions and peppers, everything cooked evenly and stayed warm.

What about the oven? – Yes, you can use it in the oven. It’s oven safe to 350* for one hour.

How big is it? – It’s a large pan (14.9″ x 21.75″ x 1.75″). I think it would be great for college students or for keeping in the RV; any place you’re cooking where space is at a minimum and having one great pan like this versus five individual pans makes sense.

One of the compartments is on the smaller size. I originally had placed the red peppers here and the onions in the larger section. Once the onions cooked down a bit and were smaller, I easily exchanged their places to allow the red peppers more space to cook.

How easy is it to clean? – Super easy! It’s made of quality nonstick (not Teflon) and there was no hard scrubbing after cooking our meal. And it’s dishwasher safe, so that’s even better!

One Way to Make Cooking for Picky Eaters a Lot Easier (and a $20 off code to use on MasterPan!)

So how did MasterPan work for our dinner? It was a success! With the burner on medium heat, as suggested, the sausage cooked nicely on the stove top. The potatoes warmed and crisped up a bit with a little oil and the peppers and onions sauted along with the sausage. The compartments were a bit on the smaller side for our big family but I think the pan would be perfect for portion control if I was cooking for fewer people.

Want a MasterPan for your house?

The MasterPan has been a great addition to our kitchen and I bet you’ll love it too. Not only does it save you time, energy and clean-up, now you can get it at a lower price too. Check out this coupon code to save when you purchase!

Enter the exclusive $20 OFF coupon code MP206, just for my readers through the MasterPan link.

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Everything Good Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe #SplendaHoliday #ad

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SplendaHoliday #CollectiveBias

Everything Good Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe #SplendaHoliday #ad

It’s baking season at our house! When visiting friends, attending holiday parties or participating in cookie swaps, I like to bring something that’s full of flavor but with an ingredient twist and I really love taking full fat and sugar recipes and tweaking them. Using SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend is a way to cut out some of the sugar but still retain lots of taste in my Everything Good Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. The addition of whole wheat flour, coconut oil, and ground flax seed add a nutty flavor and nobody ever knows that I’ve strayed from the standard recipe, they just want more!

I was able to pick up the SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend at my local Walmart, along with a few other necessary ingredients like eggs and vanilla.

Everything Good Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe #SplendaHoliday

I’ve been making these cookies for my family for years and have been tweaking the ingredients in different ways to our liking. Out went about half the butter, replaced with coconut oil. I’ve used whole wheat flour in addition to all-purpose flour. I add a bit of ground flax seed for extra fiber. We usually use raisins because that’s what we most often have in the pantry, but have also used dried cranberries with much success. Chopped walnuts add a wonderful texture. Chocolate chips, yes! But with all the other yummy ingredients, you won’t need a lot of chocolate in the dough. Can you see why I call these Everything Good?

Everything Good Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe #SplendaHoliday

BAKING TIPS – When subbing SPLENDA® Sugar Blend into your own recipes, keep in mind that you’ll use half the amount of SPLENDA® Sugar Blend as you would sugar. A half cup of SPLENDA® Sugar Blend has the sweetness of one full cup of sugar, so a little goes a longer way.

Everything Good Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe #SplendaHoliday #ad

I also found that when using SPLENDA® Sugar Blend in my cookie recipe, there is less spreading. This is easily remedied by flattening the dough slightly with my fingertips before placing into the oven.

Everything Good Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe #SplendaHoliday #ad

Everything Good Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Everything Good Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2/3 cup SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed powder
  • 3 cups oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, broken up with fingers

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat butter and sugars until creamy.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla, Beat well.
  4. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and ground flax seed. Mix well.
  5. Add oats and combine.
  6. With mixer running, add raisins, chocolate and walnuts and mix just until combined.
  7. Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet. Dough may be crumbly and require shaping and flattening with fingers.
  8. Bake 8-10 minutes. Cool one minute on the pan then transfer to a wire rack for cooling.
  9. Baked goods made with SPLENDA® should be stored in an air-tight container and will retain freshness up to 24 hours. Freeze extra cookies.
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Stop by Walmart and pick up your bag of SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend this baking season! It’s a great way to participate in the SWEET SWAPS™ Initiative and remove some of the sugar from your holiday treats. Enter the J&J Holiday Baking with SPLENDA® giveaway and win Walmart gift cards!

J&J Holiday Baking with Splenda®

Everything Good Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe #SplendaHoliday #ad


 

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for Easy Entertaining #PotPiePlease #CollectiveBias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PotPiePlease #CollectiveBias

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for Easy Entertaining

Our holiday leftovers are gone and we’re moving into a busy time of year. With two birthdays, several Christmas parties, decorating, wrapping, cooking and crafting along with our favorite holiday traditions all squeezed into the month of December, we have a lot on our plate! On those days when we have lots of other activities going on, it’s nice to have dinner items ready on hand that can be easily popped into the oven and ready to serve.

After Thanksgiving, I still had a huge bag of gold potatoes. Well, my family never gets tired of having mashed potatoes, so I whipped up an extra batch of them and put them in a casserole dish, ready to heat up in the oven during the week. Buttery potatoes, mixed up with cream cheese to make them even more creamy and then topped with sharp cheddar cheese for that extra “zing”. This is an easy, but decadent accompaniment that goes perfectly with chicken pot pie!

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for Easy Entertaining

Marie Callender’s pot pies at Walmart…quick, easy and budget-friendly!

I stopped by Walmart earlier this week and picked up a Marie Callender’s pot pie for each of us. They were displayed in three places, an end-cap freezer, the main freezer aisle and the Family Size was with other large frozen dinners. I bought three chicken and one beef, just to be different! I already had the potatoes done, just needed to warm them up and set on the broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese on top. Mmmm…it was a homey dinner we all appreciated on a chilly night. Marie Callender’s pot pies are warm, filling and taste like homemade.

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for Easy Entertaining

We all enjoyed our individual pot pie and delicious potatoes before heading out to walk through our neighborhood to look at Christmas lights. It’s an annual tradition. We were warmed inside out with our satisfying dinner! Here’s how I prepared them.

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for Easy Entertaining

Aluminum foil strips prevent the crust from burning.

Marie Callender’s pot pies have a delicate golden, flaky crust so I crimped together two strips of aluminum foil and curved them around the edges of the pie to protect the edges. My kids loved having their own pie to themselves but you can also purchase the Family Size that is convenient for serving to guests.

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for Easy Entertaining

Perfectly golden and flaky crusts!

I enjoy entertaining but don’t always have the time (or money) for large, extravagant meals. The Marie Callender’s Pot Pies are fast, tasty and reasonably priced for serving to guests. Make sure to check out the rebates available right now for the 10 oz or 16 oz size as well as the Family Size.

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for Easy Entertaining

Serving Marie Callender’s Pot Pies at a family gathering is a great way to share a delicious meal and not spend a ton of time in the kitchen when you could be socializing. Having the Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes prepared ahead of time means you only have to pop the casserole into the oven when guests arrive. Later this month I’ll have guests over for a holiday crafting party and I know just what to serve for dinner!

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for Easy Entertaining

Broiled cheese send these potatoes over the top!

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for Easy Entertaining

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for Easy Entertaining

Ingredients

  • Gold potatoes, approximately 8. Scrubbed, peeled and quartered
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp cream cheese
  • 1/4 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • Milk
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Steam or boil potatoes until tender.
  2. Melt butter and cream cheese in a pot over low heat.
  3. Add cooked potatoes and mash, keeping heat low to prevent lumps. Mash potatoes until completely broken apart.
  4. Add seasoned salt and pepper.
  5. Drizzle milk into potatoes and mash. Continue to add milk until desired creaminess.
  6. Spoon potatoes into medium casserole dish. Can refrigerate until ready to cook.
  7. If preparing dish straight from the fridge, heat at 350 degrees about 30 minutes, until potatoes are warmed. If preparing dish while potatoes are freshly prepared, skip the warming step.
  8. Sprinkle top of hot potatoes with cheese and set under the oven broiler on high for 3 minutes (check constantly to make sure it does not burn). Cheese should brown and bubble.
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What side dish would you serve with your Marie Callender’s Pot Pie? Check out these meal ideas!

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes for Easy Entertaining

The perfect dinner


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Disneyland 60th Anniversary Sugar Cookie Bars

Disneyland 60th Anniversary Sugar Cookie Bars

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Teal loop. Today we are sharing some of our favorite holiday cookie recipes.


I love sugar cookies. But I don’t love having to bake the dough, chill the dough, roll the dough, cut them out and make fancy royal icing to decorate them. For me, that’s a 2 day process. You know what’s a lot easier? Sugar cookie bars that you bake in a pan, thickly frost and cut out! And you know what’s totally the best? Making sugar cookies that remind you of your favorite place, like these cookie bars that I decorated for Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary! Using just a few store bought items and a few minutes of time and you have cute sugar cookie bars that don’t take two days to make and 5 seconds to eat.

Disneyland 60th Anniversary Sugar Cookie Bars

Bake the cookies in a pan until just done

I found this delicious recipe online at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe for the sugar cookie bars.

Disneyland 60th Anniversary Sugar Cookie Bars

I wanted variety so I iced half in blue and the other half in white with blue sprinkles

To decorate, I wanted these bar cookies to reflect the beautiful blue and white decor that is all over the Disneyland Resort this year for the Diamond Anniversary. I used half of the frosting as it was and then colored the second half blue so I’d have a variety.

Disneyland 60th Anniversary Sugar Cookie Bars

After chilling in the fridge a bit, I cut the pieces and then decorated each square a little differently. Some received a pearlescent candy ball. Others received hard-shell candy Mickey silhouettes because my little one loves a “hidden Mickey”, especially one made of candy!


Here is the map of Magical Blogorail Teal | Holiday Cookie Recipes Loop:

Holiday Dessert-to-Go – Apple Oatmeal Cake Recipe and FREE Printable #ShareTheHoliday

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareTheHoliday #CollectiveBias

Holiday Dessert-to-Go - Apple Oatmeal Cake Recipe and FREE Printable #ShareTheHoliday

The holidays are upon us and that means, family, food and more food! I’m always up for dessert, but sometimes after a big meal, my guests aren’t always ready to indulge. But that doesn’t mean they want to miss out completely! Thanks to Rubbermaid TakeAlongs, guests can box up dessert to go so they can have a treat for later.

Holiday Dessert-to-Go - Apple Oatmeal Cake Recipe and FREE Printable #ShareTheHoliday

I baked a pan of Apple Oatmeal Cake especially for my guests to take home with them. I love this Apple Oatmeal Cake recipe because it’s just as delicious for dessert as it is for breakfast with a cup of coffee or tea. So if your guests just can’t find any room after their big holiday meal, they can save their cake to eat in the morning. It’s fantastic when warmed slightly and served with a dollop of whipped cream, mmmm!

Holiday Dessert-to-Go - Apple Oatmeal Cake Recipe and FREE Printable #ShareTheHoliday

After letting the cake cool, I cut it into pieces and boxed the slices up into the Rubbermaid TakeAlongs. Having my family around me during the holidays is a gift and I want to thank them for joining us. Sharing a meal together and giving a special treat to take home with them truly highlights what the season is all about.

Holiday Dessert-to-Go - Apple Oatmeal Cake Recipe and FREE Printable #ShareTheHoliday

Since I know you’re busy, I created this Thank You Printable for you to use on your Rubbermaid TakeAlongs. Simply print and cut out. I delegated this task to my kids, who used simple craft sticky dots to secure the thank you cards to the top of the Rubbermaid TakeAlongs before we boxed up the treats.

Holiday Dessert-to-Go - Apple Oatmeal Cake Recipe and FREE Printable #ShareTheHoliday

We already have quite a collection of Rubbermaid containers for everyday use, but I don’t necessarily want to send these home with my guests (because I’ll never get them back!) Rubbermaid TakeAlongs products are available at Walmart at a reasonable price so you can pack up leftovers for your guests and send them home with them. On our stop at Walmart, we chose Rubbermade TakeAlongs in Deep Square and Rectangle but there are also TakeAlongs Serving Bowl, TakeAlongs Serving Rectangle, and the TakeAlongs Deviled Egg Tray.

Holiday Dessert-to-Go - Apple Oatmeal Cake Recipe and FREE Printable #ShareTheHoliday

Find Rubbermaid TakeAlongs for the holidays at Walmart

The holiday Rubbermaid TakeAlongs come in a variety of holiday colors and prints. We brought home festive red and green. I bought a few extra in case anyone wants leftover turkey or stuffing (as if they wouldn’t!) Rubbermaid TakeAlongs feature Quik Clik Seal™ technology which helps prevent spills in the car on the way home. They are also microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe, so you can pop your Apple Oatmeal Cake into the microwave to warm it up before swooping the top with whipped cream.

Holiday Dessert-to-Go - Apple Oatmeal Cake Recipe and FREE Printable #ShareTheHoliday

This recipe goes together quickly and the addition of applesauce, coconut oil, ground flax seed and oatmeal make this a healthier dessert option. And as I said, fantastic for breakfast (in fact, that’s what we had for breakfast today!)

Healthier Apple Oatmeal Cake

Healthier Apple Oatmeal Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or use sugar substitute)
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed (optional)
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used 1/4 cup melted coconut oil and 1/4 cup vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 apples, peeled and chopped
  • 2/3 cup walnuts, chopped

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in bowl.
  3. Add liquid ingredients and mix just until moistened.
  4. Stir in apples and walnuts. Mixture will be quite thick.
  5. Pour into a greased 9 x 13" pan.
  6. Bake 30-35 minutes.
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Holiday Dessert-to-Go - Apple Oatmeal Cake Recipe and FREE Printable #ShareTheHoliday

Make sure to stock up on Rubbermaid TakeAlongs from Walmart so you’re prepared to pack up leftovers and share them with your guests! Click through to find out how you can get $1 Off Of Any 2 Rubbermaid TakeAlongs Products in this rebate offer, exclusive to Walmart shoppers (starts Nov 25th). It’s an excellent way to Share the Holiday.

Holiday Dessert-to-Go - Apple Oatmeal Cake Recipe and FREE Printable #ShareTheHoliday

How will you #ShareTheHoliday with your family this year?


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