Pumpkin Peanut Butter “Buckeye” Balls

Is it really September already?? I’m not sure how every is feeling, but our August flew by. Jeff and I took a much needed relaxing vacation through California (more about that to come later!) and celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary. I can’t believe it has been 3 years already! Last year was filled with so many exciting changes; I cannot wait to see what this year brings!

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I’m not sure about you, but in our household the start of football season is a big deal. Jeff and I are proud alumni of the Ohio State University (how many of you just cringed…), and the first game is always exciting and much anticipated as September rounds the corner. Our Saturday was very simple this weekend. We watched a lot of football and enjoyed a variety of snacks, dips, and ice cold beer.

If you know anything about Ohio, or Ohio State football for that matter, buckeyes are a tradition that most Ohioans look forward too. Buckeyes (the food, not the nut or football team) were present at our wedding, and I look forward to my grandmother making them each year for Christmas. While the original buckeye recipe isn’t exactly the healthiest, it definitely reminds me of home and is something that will always stay tucked away in my recipe box. These buckeyes are a little different, a little healthier, and have the perfect fall twist that helped me kick off football season!

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While I know not all football lovers cheer for my Ohio State Buckeyes, I am happy to share my Pumpkin Peanut Butter “Buckeye” Balls with you in hopes that they make your game day spread. These are quick, simple, and easy to make and can also serve as an easy snack for busy days or after school snacks for your kids. I hope you give them a try! Happy Sunday y’all!

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Buckeye Balls

  • Servings: 12-15
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup unsalted, unsweetened smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup organic honey
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • pinch coarse sea salt
  • 3/4-1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

It a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, peanut butter, and honey. Stir with a fork or whisk until all peanut butter is smooth and well incorporated into the other ingredients.

Fold in oats, cinnamon, and salt. Mix until the oats are covered evenly, then sprinkle in the chia seeds. Mix lightly until the chia seeds are well incorporated. Try not to over mix. Chis seeds will start to form a “gel” that helps bond and hold the balls together, but this process can happen too quickly if over stirred and they will become gummy.

Once all ingredients are well incorporated, form small balls (about the size of an extra large gum ball) with your hands. Place on a large dish or cookie sheet and pop into the refrigerator. Re-roll after about 15 minutes, then place back into the refrigerator. Let harden for about 15-20 more minutes.

Once your buckeyes have become firmer, melt 3/4-1 cup of dark chocolate chips in the microwave or double broiler. If microwaving, stop and stir the chips every 20-30 seconds until fully melted to help prevent them from burning.

Dip buckeye balls into the melted chocolate about 1/2 way. Place back on dish or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and put back in the refrigerator for another 15-20 minutes before serving. Keep in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week!


Cinnamon Sugar Banana Crumble Muffins

Happy 4th of July weekend everyone! I thought it was about time I posted a recipe (I feel like it’s been a while?), and this one turned out better than I had hoped it would! Of course, banana anything always has a place in my kitchen. I have done a handful of banana breads (vegan, gluten-free, regular, etc.) but tend to not really do muffins! I use to be a total muffin lover and would make apple, pumpkin, or whatever flavor I was feeling in bulk to have as snacks or part of breakfast. I haven’t made a good muffin in a while, so this recipe made a little appearance this morning in my kitchen!

I think the reason I like banana-flavored bread and muffins so much is they are so versatile. You can make them extra savory with cream cheese frostings, fillings, or fit them into your breakfast with a little spoonful of your favorite nut butter. You can also add a variety of ingredients to change up the flavor or texture such as nuts, oats, or chunks of other fruits such as diced apples.

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These muffins are simple, easy, and use ingredients that I already had in my cupboard. They also cook fast, so watch your timer and be sure not to overcook them! Whole wheat flour tends to absorb a lot of liquid, so overcooking the muffins can dry them out significantly. I hope you give these a try and let me know what you think!

Side note, isn’t it kind of a bummer that the 4th falls on a Tuesday? The 4th of July use to be a huge celebration with my family. We would have a barbecue, go to the morning parade, dress up in red-white-and blue, and scramble for candy that people in the parade would throw to the crowd. It was a blast!! Jeff and I are going to spend some time at the pool with friends this 4th, which I am super excited about, but I need to start thinking about a little menu of pool snacks for that day. I will let ya’ll know if I come up with anything good! Have a great week everyone!

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Cinnamon Sugar Banana Crumble Muffins

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy-moderate
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Ingredients

  • 3 slightly-brown bananas, mashed
  • 1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (unpacked)
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of pink salt

Topping:

  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp oats
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • pinch cinnamon

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium size bowl, smash bananas until fairly smooth. Add dry ingredients (flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, brown sugar, pink salt) and lightly mix to incorporate the banana.

Add all wet ingredients (egg, coconut oil, vanilla, and almond milk) and mix until well combined. There should be few lumps, and the batter should seem light and airy.

In a separate, small bowl combine the topping ingredients, and mix with a fork to be sure the brown sugar, cinnamon, and coconut oil cover the oats. Set aside.

Lightly grease a muffin tin and put a few spoonfuls into each cup. The batter should almost come to the top of each cup. Top each portion with a spoonful of the cinnamon sugar topping. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow 10-15 minutes for the muffins to set before serving.


Eating my way through Vegas!

Well, let me just say the title of this post truly reflects how I felt after our Vegas trip. Food was a major focal point of the trip, and boy was I ok with that! We were fortunate enough to try a few amazing restaurants, and really get to see what restaurant life in Las Vegas has to offer. From breakfast to fully flavored and unique dinners we truly ate our way through this fun and fantastic city.

I’m going to walk you through 4 of our food experiences, as well as give you some general tips for eating while traveling and planning ahead. Hopefully you can use some of these tips and experiences to help plan your own fabulous trip to this city!

  • Hash House A Go Go $$ – $$$

This fun and quirky restaurant is know for its “twisted farm food”. While there are many locations, we visited the one located inside of The Linq Hotel and Casino for breakfast. Hash House serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and offers a wide variety of dishes from egg omelettes to chicken pot pie. I would highly recommend sharing because the portions are very, very large! I got the “Healthy Choice” which was an egg white omelette with 3 optional fillings (I chose mushrooms, spinach, and onions!) with a HUGE plate of fruit that accompanied the dish. Below is my mother-in-laws meal which was chicken salad between fried green tomatoes atop an extra large slice of watermelon!

  •  Giada $$$$$

This restaurant should definitely make your list if you are planning to do a fancier, upscale dinner during one of your Vegas nights! The restaurant sits on the second floor of The Cromwell hotel and casino and overlooks one of the busiest corners of the strip. The atmosphere is elegant, warm, and inviting. On the evening we were there, 2 violinists playing current music in harmony, which really set a fun and inviting tone from the second we walked in the room.


The “bread” preceding dinner was very unique and came with butter, pesto, and different toppings such as red pepper flakes to use as we pleases. I ordered the Spaghetti and subbed chicken for the shrimp. It came in a lemon, basil sauce and was extremely light, flavorful, and perfectly portioned. Jeff got the Bucatini which had a little kick from chili flakes but was nicely balanced with ricotta cheese. I would highly recommend this fabulous restaurant. Our experience was perfect from the time we stepped in, and I will definitely return during my next visit to Vegas!

  • Mon Ami Gabi $$$$

This cute French Bistro is located in Paris Hotel and Casino and is inviting, warm, and one of our usual stops when we visit Las Vegas. If you go, I would highly recommend sitting on the patio. Having a perfect few of the Bellagio fountains is such a treat during dinner, and the people watching isn’t bad either! Our service is always phenomenal and the delicious meals and warm French bread keep us coming back for more! I tend to order the same thing every time I am here (because it is so darn good!) and would highly recommend the Chicken Grand-Mere. The all-natural half chicken is succulent, flavorful, and perfectly paired with a side of mushrooms flavored with bacon. I always sub cauliflower puree for the pommes puree. Please try the cauliflower puree!!!! It is my absolute favorite side dish and is so well worth every bite!

  • heXX chocolate and confeXXions $$

Oh my goodness! If you want a little sweet treat after dinner, walk a little ways down the strip towards Planet Hollywood and you will run into heXX. If you have been to Vegas before, this ice cream, chocolate, and candy shop is located where Sugar use to be. They offer everything from ice cream sandwiches, to milkshakes and decadent ice cream flavors. Do yourself a favor and don’t pass us this sweet experience!

Tips For Not Breaking Your Bank When Traveling (with food!):

  1. Share!!! Meals tend to be quite large in Vegas. Even if you are not traveling here, ask your waiter or waitress prior to ordering how the meal portions are. If they tend to be larger, split a meal with a family member, significant other, or friend.
  2. Drink water. Even if you love to have a special beverage such as a glass of wine or champagne with dinner, it is no secret that alcoholic beverages have a price (especially in Las Vegas!). Order a beverage before dinner, but sip water with your meal to help savor that initial drink. You also want to be able to taste your food! Which a glass of wine can pair nicely with a pasta dish or a hearty steak, make sure you pay attention to all the flavors that the food actually brings!
  3. Pack snacks. Lara bars, KIND bars, fruit, mixed nuts, carrots, and dried fruit are a few of my favorite, easy snacks to pack and take with me when traveling. When  you are running around during the day, take a protein bar or granola bar with you and a piece of fruit. Munch on your snacks and you might not even be hungry for lunch!
  4. Refill your water. Places like Starbucks or other coffee shops will often times fill your water bottle if you have one saved instead of making you purchase a new one. It’s very disappointing that places mark up their bottled water (shouldn’t water be free?!), and the cost can add up!
  5. Explore the area. Often times restaurants located inside resorts, casinos, or right in the thick of where tourists want to walk, eat, and shop are the most expensive. Usually driving 10-15 minutes away from the chaos will save you a bundle on your meal! Use apps such as Yelp or ask your Uber or taxi driver where locals like to go for a nice dinner or a relaxing brunch!

Farmhouse Salad

Do you ever just crave a really hearty salad? Saturdays and Sundays are my salad days, and its almost always something different! Sometimes I’ll stop at Whole Foods or Sprouts and make one from their cold bar, or I’ll just use random ingredients from my refrigerator that need to be eaten asap or they’ll go bad! Today I’m sharing my farmhouse salad which incorporates lots of veggies, fruit, dairy, and protein all into one delicious bowl! Hope you enjoy and happy Sunday!


Farmhouse Salad

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2-3 big handfuls of raw spinach
  • 1/4 yellow bell pepper
  • 3 baby carrots, chopped
  • 1 oz sharp cheddar cheese
  • shredded chicken (about 1/2-3/4 cup)
  • 1/4 golden delicious apple
  • 1/2 small avocado
  • black pepper
  • dressing of choice

Directions

Chop your produce and shred the chicken (if it isn’t already pre-shredded; I like to buy plain shredded chicken from sprouts to have on hand). Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, add dressing of choice


Holiday festivities… and food!

Hi everyone! I hope y’all had a fun and relaxing weekend. Jeff and I started a serious journey towards finding out perfect home this weekend and let me tell you…. STRESSFUL. I don’t know if I ever pictured house hunting to be this stressful, but boy do I see why we have avoided it until now. With that said, yesterday I was in dire need of a little relaxation and down time.

Jeff worked through the afternoon, which gave me time to plan a nice little Memorial Day dinner for both of us. No, I didn’t pull out the grill (although I’d highly recommend it if you make the burgers!) because sitting in front of a hot grill in 100 degree weather just didn’t seem all that appealing.

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When it comes to festive foods, you know I like to keep it simple, flavorful, and fun! I had been thinking about making sliders for a while so I went with mini turkey burger sliders as our main dish and a unique, tangy “potato salad” for our side. Who doesn’t love burgers and potato salad?!

The potato salad is definitely not your traditional potato salad. I added a little roasted corn and sauteed green beans for added color and flavor. The dressing is super delicious, tangy, and easy to make. It can also be used to marinate chicken, other meats, or dress other salads/veggies! Make it ahead of time to save yourself some extra work if planning for a party or barbecue!

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For the turkey burgers, I decided to do a few sliders wrapped in romaine lettuce for myself and mini buns for Jeff. I like the added crunch of the lettuce and found this to be a great alternative to a regular bun if you tend to eat gluten-free or want to minimize your carbs for other health reasons. The burgers were flavored with green chile and shredded cheddar cheese, nut other flavor combos such as feta and basil or blue cheese and bacon would also be great to try!

I hope you give these recipes a try and maybe add them in to your next barbecue. The 4th of July is right around the corner, so planning ahead will help minimize stress and hopefully lead to a fun and relaxing party!

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Tangy Dijon Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

Yields ~1/4-1/3 c dressing depending on how careful you are with measurements!

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flake
  • pinch salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder

Directions

Put all ingredients into a mason jar or small container with a lid. Agitate by shaking vigorously. Store in a cool area until ready to use.

Green Chile Cheddar Turkey Sliders

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

Yields ~8-10 sliders depending on size

  • 1 lb ground lead turkey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 can diced green chiles 
  • 1/3 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 c diced yellow or white onion
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch black pepper
  • pinch chile powder

Directions

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients with hands or roughly with a fork. Roll and press patties about the size of a larger, thick cookie or muffin top. Place on parchment paper until ready to cook.

In a large pan (or on a grill), spray the surface to prevent sticking. Heat the pan to medium heat and place about 4-5 patties in the pan. Cook about 4-5 minutes on each side or until juices run clear and there is a golden brown color on the surface. Serve with toppings of choice.