Kid-friendly, Mom Approved Pizza

This recipe actually came from Harvesters Nutrition Department. We made it with volunteers during our New Year’s Eve Family Volunteer Day. I told my team, “We should try this recipe before we serve it.” It got a thumbs-up from my entire team.

My husband was a little apprehensive about trying it. He was surprise how much he enjoyed it. In fact, it’s become our go to snack.

Here’s hoping your little ones enjoy making this healthy snack.

FullSizeRender (14)Fruit Pizza by Harvesters Nutrition Service Department
1 flavored rice cake
Greek yogurt
Fruit

Spread yogurt on rice cake and top with fruit.

Notes:

  • We used chocolate and caramel with the volunteers. I like the caramel best.
  • We used vanilla Greek but you can use another flavor to match your fruit. You can also just use regular yogurt.
  • I’ve used bananas, berries (raspberries/strawberries/blueberries), and mangos. Fresh or thawed frozen fruit both work.
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An Amber Original

Cheesecake has sort of become a tradition on Valentine’s Day for us. This year, I decided I wanted a Monster Cookie Cheesecake. When I couldn’t find a recipe that matched what I was looking for, I modified this Mr. Food’s Tasty Toffee Cheesecake. The first time I made this recipe, I prepared it for my sister’s birthday. I’m pretty sure I made it for a Friday night dinner at my friends Kassie and Joe’s house too. It’s delicious!

I hope you enjoy a small slice of this cheesecake spin on one of my favorite cookies – my mom’s monster cookies. I just can’t make the cookies as good as she does.

fullsizerender-13Monster Cookie Cheesecake by Amber Bourek Slater
2 – 8 oz. packages of cream cheese
½ c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. of vanilla
1 package of refrigerated peanut butter cookie dough
quick oats
M&Ms
chocolate chips

In a sprayed pie pan, spread out peanut butter cookie mix. Top with quick oats and press into crust. In a bowl, mix together cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in M&Ms and chocolate chips. Pour into crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

Notes:

  • I used one package of fat free and one reduced fat cream cheese. I did that because the fat free bricks were on sale for $.39. I think it turned out ok.
  • I’m thinking mini M&Ms and chocolate chips would work great. I used regular size through because that’s what I had on hand.

You Had Me at Potatoes

Valentine’s Day is the one-time Jeremiah and I stay in. We hate the crowds and waiting past your reservation time for a table. We eat out enough so we don’t feel like we need to mess with it on Valentine’s Day. Instead, it’s the one night we prepare an all-out meal and sit down at the dinner table to eat it.

This year, the plan was for spaghetti. In fact, I’ve turned Jeremiah into someone who prefers to eat my Great Grandma Reith’s spaghetti sauce over anything you can get from a jar or at a restaurant. That was the plan.

On our way home, we stopped at Sprouts to grab some bread. Unfortunately, finding bakery bread has turned into a nightmare because everything in that area seems to have barley. Since I’m allergic, it’s getting way harder to make garlic bread ourselves.

While in the store, Jeremiah spotted some lobster tails on sale for $4.90 each. That’s crazy ridiculously cheap! We know from our trip to Maine why they are so expensive. A change of dinner plans occurred. “Why don’t we have lobster tails?” said Jeremiah. I said, “We’ve never made them. Do you know how to cook them?” Jeremiah used his phone to research a recipe. It looked simple and quick enough. Then, the next question was what we would eat with them? That’s when I throughout this recipe from our wedding cookbook for cheesy potatoes. Needless to say, what should have taken less than 20 minutes to make for dinner, turned into a late-night Valentine’s Day dinner. We even grabbed something in the McDonald’s drive-thru, which we never eat, to hold us over.

Jeremiah goes way back with the Fox boys (brothers – Kelly and Travis). Kelly and Travis grew up with the Slater clan. From what I understand, I think their dads met through work and became good friends. I also learned that Jeremiah’s mom used to babysit the boys when she did home daycare. The Fox’s grandma told me at our wedding that she considers Jeremiah almost be like a grandson because he spent so much time with her when they were kids.

According to Erin, these potatoes are the reason her husband Kelly married her. Jeremiah says Kelly was smitten on her from the moment he met Erin.

This recipe is similar to my mom’s cheesy potatoes. I like Erin’s recipe through because it feels a little less rich and just the right amount of cheesy to make this side dish a little more often. My biggest pet peeve is when someone says they made cheesy potatoes and you can barely taste the cheese. Not the case with this cheesy potato dish at all.

And on a side note, we probably ate a lobster dinner complete with cheesy potatoes, garlic bread, and monster cookie cheesecake for less than $8 a serving. If you add in a glass of local vineyard wine, it probably came out to $12 a serving. In fact, that’s cheaper than we spent on a fast-casual dinner at Chipotle of nights ago. And it’s definitely cheaper than if we had gone to one of our favorite steakhouses.

fullsizerender-12Cheesy Potatoes by Erin & Kelly Fox
1 stick of butter
1 can of cream of chicken soup
8 oz. sour cream
2 c. cheddar cheese
1 – 1lb. package of shredded hash browns
Garlic salt and black pepper to taste

Melt butter. Add cream of chicken and sour cream. Add garlic salt and pepper. In an extra-large bowl, pour mixture over hash browns. Add cheese and combine. Pour into sprayed 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake for 45 – 60 minutes at 400 degrees.

Not Your Mama’s Meatloaf

For our wedding, we did things a little less traditional. One thing I was adamant about was asking for guest to provide a recipe in lieu of signing a guest book. My thought process was to put together a cookbook/photo album. The idea being we would look at our photos more often. Plus, we would think of all our amazing friends and family being at our wedding when we prepared their recipes.

c21ff084-03cf-4e12-89d3-ec296f8c478cThe first step was creating a recipe card. In a former life, I used to spend a fair amount of my day creating items in software like InDesign. When I couldn’t find what I wanted or wasn’t willing to pay the price on Etsy, I created items myself for the wedding. This is a copy of the recipe card I created. We mailed them with the wedding invitation so people could be prepared. I figured none of my friends and family have a web-based recipe blog like I do actually pull up their favorite recipes when they arrived at the wedding.

img_0103

Photography by Joseph Sands Images

After the wedding was over and we had the disk of our photos, I spent several days putting this cookbook together. This included everything from picking just the right font to counting the number of family members on each of our sides in the photos to make sure it was a fair representation. The end result was a cookbook that we printed for our parents and siblings as a Christmas gift. A few years back, I had done a family recipe cookbook for my mom and sister. They loved it and use it often.

The first recipe we prepared from our cookbook came from Jeremiah’s Uncle Johnny and Aunt Angie. I think the first people I met in Jeremiah’s family may have been Johnny and Angie. As you know, we are breakfast/brunch people. We used to go early on Saturday mornings to Corner Café before I headed out to work. Johnny and Angie would join her family for breakfast at the restaurant. They’d usually be arriving as we were leaving. Such a sweet couple. Unfortunately, we are no longer close to that Corner Café so we don’t run into them at breakfast time anymore.

Johnny and Angie shared their meatloaf recipe. It’s very tasty. That said, I would make a recommendation that you mix it right before you cook it. We get home so late from work that we decided to prep it the night before. When pulled it out of the fridge to cook it the next day, the pan was a little watery from the diced tomatoes. We hope you enjoy this more complex meatloaf recipe – and Jeremiah’s artist side with the pepper rings.

Meatloaf by Jon and Angie Slater
17a48f63-44df-484b-b762-ecf7fdaf6d13
1 lb. ground beef
½ c. chopped yellow onion
½ c. chopped green pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 c. canned diced tomatoes with juice
½ c. quick oats
1 ¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper

Topping
1/3 c. ketchup
2 T. brown sugar
1 tsp. yellow mustard

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, mix all meatloaf ingredients except topping. Shape into a loaf in baking dish. Mix all topping ingredients in a small bowl and spread over loaf. Bake for 1 hour.

Cheesy Garlic Crescent Rolls

The other night, we made Lobster Ravioli with these tasty rolls. Our entire dinner was done in less than 30 minutes. Leftover rolls were also tasty.

fullsizerender-11Cheesy Garlic Crescent Rolls from Pinterest
1 can refrigerated crescent rolls
4 pieces mozzarella string cheese
2 T. melted butter
1 tsp. garlic bread seasoning

Cut each cheese in half. Open can of crescent rolls and separate into 8 triangles. Place a piece of cheese on each triangle and roll up. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with seasoning. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

Note: Jeremiah created his own Italian seasoning topping instead. It was delicious.

Crockpot Pork Tenderloin

While grocery shopping last week, Jeremiah and I took advantage of some meat sales at Hen House. Pork loins were on sale for $3.99 lb. Normally, I cover the pork loin in herbs and wrap it in bacon. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any bacon in the freezer so I needed to come up with a new recipe. We had all the ingredients to make this recipe so it was the winner. It turned out amazing. The pork fell apart and the glaze was sweet but not too sweet. We will definitely make it again. I served this recipe with my Maple Glazed Carrots.

Crockpot Brown Sugar Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin by Melissa Bossler
img_00601 tsp. ground sage
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ c. water
2 lb. pork tenderloin

Sauce
½ c. brown sugar
1 T. cornstarch
¼ c. balsamic vinegar
½ c. water
2 T. soy sauce

Pour a ½ c. water into a Crockpot. Then, rub pork loin with seasonings. Cook for 5 hours on low. Then, mix sauce ingredients and cook over a medium heat for 4 minutes to thicken. Baste pork loin 2-3 times over one more hour of cooking.

Hash Brown Lasagna

My mother-in-law is the queen of biscuits and gravy. Nobody can even compete with her recipe. It sounds like she has been perfecting it over the last 30 years. I saw this recipe and wasn’t sure how my husband would feel about it. I made this delicious Biscuits and Gravy Casserole dish from an old coworker. He told me the jar country gravy was “too salty”. For this recipe, I made the McCormick Country Gravy. I think he was ok with this gravy in a dish that is very different than his mother’s original. We did like this dish but I think I like a few other breakfast recipes better like Breakfast Sliders, Weight Watchers Breakfast Quiche, Mini Maple Bacon Rolls, Creamy Biscuits, or Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Ring.

Hash Brown Lasagna from Pinterest
img_00341/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
shredded hash brown potatoes
salt and pepper
sausage crumbles
bacon
cheddar cheese
mozzarella cheese
McCormick Country Gravy packet prepared
1 Tsp. butter, melted

Bake bacon in the over at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cook sausage according to package.

In the meantime, pour gravy packet into a medium pan. Slowly pour two cups of milk over mix while whisking. Cook over a medium heat to a boil, stirring frequently. Then, reduce your to low and simmer for 1 minute.

Spray 8 x 8 pan. In a bowl, mix hash browns, Parmesan cheese, salt & pepper, and eggs. Pour half of mixture into pan and even out. Top with a layer of cheese, gravy, and meats. Repeat with other cheese, gravy, and meats. Top with remaining remaining hash browns. Pour melted butter on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool slightly before cutting.

Notes:

  • I used a 13 x 9 pan because it appeared to be too much for the pan.
  • I used skim milk to prepare my gravy mix. It cut the fat and salt in country gravy.
  • I thawed the hash browns slightly in the microwave. This helped them break-up easier. Looking back, I wish I had baked the bottom layer for 10 minutes before topping to give me a slightly cruncher crust. 
  • I used turkey sausage.
  • I only used four slices of bacon. I really couldn’t taste it so you either need to use more bacon or opt it out. Sausage can be an overwhelming meat flavor.
  • The recipe suggested both mozzarella and cheddar. They suggested a prosciutto wrapped mozzarella and Velveeta cheese slices. I used shredded cheese. I’d suggest just mozzarella because I think it matches the flavors of the country gravy better. 
  • Make sure you have a lot of time to cook this recipe. I think I took me a good 40 minutes to prepare before backing. 
  • If I made it again, I think I might create a crust with something different like crescent rolls.
  • Jar gravy and precooked meats can save you time. 

 

 

Tortilla Chicken

72b2b6a5-cc89-4230-bfe7-7021e7fe9d55On our honeymoon in San Antonio, Jeremiah and I took a day trip to Gruene. The locals call it Green because that’s what the German word means. We were surprised to learn about the rich German culture in the area. And without a doubt, Gruene was probably our favorite part excursion. This is little town is filled with wineries, restaurants, music performances, and adorable shops.

Our first stop was the Winery on the Gruene. Jeremiah and I always like to ask the locals where they like to eat. We were told people always go to Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar but we should checkout Gruene River Grill. The woman said the food was just as good (if not better), the wait would be shorter, and they have air conditioning. AC in Texas July – I was sold. Jeremiah ordered the Pan Seared Redfish and loved it. I ordered Queso Chicken. This dish was something I thought I might be able to recreate at home. The recipe below was Jeremiah and my attempt to recreate. I think we got close on the chicken but I can’t come anywhere close to the best black beans and rice I’ve ever eaten. We used Vigo Black Bean and Rice because they are pretty good.

Tortilla Chicken by Amber Bourek
IMG_0169.JPGBoneless skinless chicken breast
Salsa Verde
Crushed tortilla chips
Queso salsa

Marinade the chicken in Salsa Verde. Then, roll in crushed tortilla chips coating both sides. Place in a sprayed baking dish. Cook at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Top with queso and return to the oven for 5 additional minutes.

Notes:

  • You can make salsa verde from scratch. We used a jar.
  • The original recipe also had Monterey jack cheese on the chicken and topped with pico de gallo.

Sausage Breakfast Bombs

I love breakfast recipes. I am a bit of a breakfast snob though because I only like to eat it at breakfast time. My dad made fried eggs way too much for dinner in my childhood. I hope you enjoy this super easy peasy recipe.

fullsizerender-10Sausage Crescents from Pinterest
4 sausage patties
1 package of refrigerator crescent rolls
3 eggs
shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Microwave sausage patties according to package directions. Cut each patty in half. Cook eggs to a scramble. In a sprayed muffin tin, place a crescent roll in each cup leaving half hanging out. Top each with a half sausage, eggs, and cheese. Take excess crescent roll and cover ingredients. Bake for 11 minutes.

Notes:

  • I used turkey sausage. It’s healthier for you.
  • I used reduced fat crescent rolls.
  • I added a little skim milk to my eggs to make them fluffier.
  • I used 2% cheese – it’s healthier.
  • If you prefer ham and cheese, check out this oldie but goody recipe.

Breakfast Sliders

Last Christmas, my mother-in-law made the Hawaiian Ham & Swiss Sliders for Jeremiah and I to take on the road. At the holidays, we alternate between our parents’ homes. That means a 5 ½ hour Christmas afternoon road trip between Kansas City and Wayne. These little sandwiches were definitely tasty snack along the way. She also whipped up a Gluten-free, dairy free version for her grandson. (Just substitute with Gluten-free rolls and dairy-free fake butter.)

Recently, I ran across this slightly sweeter breakfast variation on Pinterest. I cooked up a batch for Jeremiah and I on Tuesday morning. Delicious and filled us up until lunch time. Perhaps you could cook up a batch for your family over the Christmas break.

Breakfast Sliders from Pinterest
img_01671 package of King Hawaiian rolls
1 stick of butter
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. maple syrup
6 slice of ham
6 scrambled eggs
6 slices of cheese
1-2 T. poppy seeds

Cook scrambled eggs and sit to the side. In a pan or microwave dish, melt the butter, Worcestershire sauce, and syrup together. Meanwhile, slice rolls in half. Spray a 11 x 7 pan with non-stick spray. Place the bottom halves of rolls in dish. Top with half of butter mixture. Cover with ham, cooked scrambled eggs, and cheese slice. Top with remaining bun tops and press down into pan. Brush remaining butter on top of buns and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.