Sunday, November 15, 2015

Apple Pie Smoothie

October, my very favorite month, came and went in the blink of an eye.

Unfortunately, September ended on a very sad note for me, as I lost my grandma - my beloved Yaya - on the 28th.  She was truly one of a kind, with the biggest heart and a beautiful spirit.

I feel lucky that we had so many years of wonderful memories with her, and I'm so happy she got to meet our little Minion before she passed. But it was very hard to say goodbye, and there are no words to describe how much she will be missed.

On a happier note, my "baby" girl is officially a threenager.  And in true Mini fashion, we had two food-filled celebrations - a great family party complete with a make-your-own-taco bar, and a donut-making party with her little friends.

Best. Birthday. Ever.

We also had a fabulous Halloween!  Which is amazing, because I feel like occasions & holidays are always very touch & go with young kids.

Actually, that's an understatement- when they don't completely suck, I consider that to be a great success.

But this Halloween totally exceeded my expectations. Mini had a blast being a fox....

...and while the Minion was cranky at points and clearly did not want to be a bat...

... he did rally at the end of the day, and was very cooperative for trick-or treating (which lasted for about 2 hours!)  So aside from the grumpy bat, we couldn't have asked for a better day.

For Mini, it was basically the best week ever.  One weekend was her birthday, and the next was Halloween.  Cake and treats and fox costumes galore, what could be better when you're 3?

I actually think she is taking after her momma in her love for Fall, which is totally fine with me!  I'm especially happy that she also seems to enjoy the Autumn flavors.  So we have been getting our fill of pumpkin pancakes and apple pie smoothies as we watch the leaves fall.

I like to make her smoothies a few times a week (or as she calls them, "smoovies") and along with yogurt and fruit, I usually throw in some kale or spinach... which are things she refuses to eat otherwise.

We were having salad recently at a family party, and she commented, "I don't like salad.  Except when it's in my smoovie."

Haha. As delicious as "salad smoothies" are, I decided it was time to switch things up and add some fall flavor to our smoovies, so the apple pie smoothie was born.  Mr. Vittles and I drink her leftovers, and he commented that it really does taste like apple pie! Straining it before drinking it is totally optional, but I'm personally not a fan of seeds and chunks in my smoothies.

Apple Pie Smoothie
  • 3/4 C. apple cider
  • 1/2 C. Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon
  • 1 T. pumpkin (or mashed banana)
  • pinch nutmeg
  • pinch allspice
  • 2 t. oatmeal
  • 3-4 ice cubes
Place all ingredients in a blender, and pulse until thoroughly blended.  If no chunks are desired, strain through a fine mesh sieve into a glass. Makes 1 serving (about 12 oz).

Original Recipe

Monday, September 28, 2015

Fall-Spiced Apple Crisp

As you guys know, Fall is my absolute favorite time of year.  So I am psyched that it's official as of this past Wednesday!

The weather has been gradually getting cooler, and Friday afternoon was the perfect time to take a couple hours off of work and celebrate Mr. Vittles' 35th birthday with the kids.

It was windy, so we decided to do some kite-flying in a nearby field...

...but lo and behold, the surrounding trees were knocking down all the wind!

So we went to our neighborhood beach instead, and the kite flew like a champ.

The Minion was not a huge fan of the wind (what is it about wind that takes babies' breath away??) but the Mini had fun flying the kite with her dad.

My favorite part of it all may have been that I was in a long-sleeved shirt and leggings.  I can hardly contain my excitement for the month of October!

Nonetheless, I was actually saving this recipe because I know there are plenty of Summer lovers out there who were holding on to the warm weather, and were just not ready for spices and apples yet.

It's all good, I don't judge.  Though I did originally make this apple crisp for a Labor Day barbecue at my dad's... so hopefully my family was ready for it!

That weekend the four of us went to an orchard, and caught the tail end of peach season as well as the very beginning of apple season.

Mini was also pretty smitten by the giant sunflowers they had for sale, so we got one of those as well.

I had honestly never been peach-picking before, but it was really fun and the peaches were awesome. However, while there is nothing better than sinking your teeth into a sweet, ripe peach, I must admit I'm not a big fan of peach desserts.

So since we had also picked some apples, I decided to get a jump on my fall baking.  I love apple crisp because it's a simpler alternative to apple pie (and one that happens to be easier to make gluten-free!)  I also love "pumpkin spice," so I decided to use nutmeg & cloves in addition to the traditional cinnamon.

Let the pumpkin-picking, leaf-crunching, sweater-and-boot-wearing season begin!

Fall-Spiced Apple Crisp

6 C. peeled & thinly sliced apples (about 6 or 7 apples)
2 T. sugar
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/8 t. ground nutmeg
1/8 t. ground cloves
1 T. lemon juice

3/4 C. old-fashioned oats
1/2 C. flour
2/3 C. brown sugar
6 T. butter, at room temperature
1/8 t. salt
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/8 t. ground cloves
1/8 t. ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease an 8x8 baking dish, and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix sugar with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves until evenly distributed.  Place peeled & sliced apples in a large bowl, and toss with sugar mixture and lemon juice to coat.  Pour into prepared baking dish.

In the now-empty bowl that contained the apples, combine all topping ingredients (oats through nutmeg) and stir with your hands until consistency is like wet sand.

Sprinkle topping over apples in dish, and bake 50-60 minutes until apples are tender and topping is crisp.  Makes about 6-8 servings.

Recipe adapted from

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Creamy Watermelon Popsicles

I know it's been a loooong time since I posted.

I even missed National Watermelon Day! (It was 8/3).

But hey- having a newborn and a toddler leaves very little free time for mommies.  And anyway, there is still plenty of summer left for you to enjoy these yummy popsicles.

You know what I've been enjoying this summer?

This face.

Yup, the Minion was born on June 17!  He was almost two pounds bigger than his sister at 8 lb 4 oz, and 20 inches.

Unfortunately I don't have any crazy stories for you, like driving myself to the hospital less than 2 hours prior to having the baby at exactly 37 weeks or having a 3 day-old baby during the worst hurricane our area has seen in the past 100 years.

Actually, thank God I don't have any crazy stories for you.

This little fella was in no rush, and made a much quieter appearance.  He stayed three days past his due date, to the point where I would have tried almost any trick to evict my overdue tenant.  Then a friend from work texted me the morning of June 16, asking "Have you tried triple chocolate cake yet??"

I stared at the phone, puzzled.  Was that, like, code for something?

But nope, she meant good old fashioned chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Didn't have to twist my arm with that suggestion!  At worst, I'd have an enjoyable treat and add a pound or so to my already-massive body.

So I made the cake that afternoon, then ate some after dinner.  By 8:30 that night, I could tell the baby was coming.  I told Mr. Vittles he had better shower, because it might be a long night.  By 10PM, we called the doctor - then called my stepdad to come stay with Mini, and got to the hospital a little after 11.  Our little muffin made his appearance at 3:53AM the next day.

He definitely takes after his mommy and big sister with his love of food.  By his one-month checkup, he had already gained over 3 pounds.  I am interested in seeing his weight at his two-month checkup because I swear he's pushing 14 lbs now at 8 weeks.

Speaking of big sisters, the Mini has been a great one so far.  I can tell she is a little attention-starved, and getting sick of all the crying (join the club!), but she has not complained once about having a baby brother.

She might remind guests who come to meet or visit him that "He can't talk yet," but other than indignantly telling a Starbucks barista "My baby brother is NOT cute!" she has been very kind to him.  She kisses him, gives him her most special toys when he cries, and calls him "my Grayden." It's actually pretty adorable.

What's not so adorable is the harsh reminder of how awful it is to wake up in the night (luckily we are down to one time, but it still feels like I haven't slept in years) and spending what seems like one endless day trying to balance two kiddos and my own sanity.

I know this is nothing special, and people do it all the time- many with 3 or even more children. But yikes is it work!  The Mini is a very active little nugget, both in mind and body, so constantly tending to both of their needs often seems like more than a full time job.

I just keep reminding myself it's all temporary. Some day I will long for these summer days of snuggles and giggles and bubbles and mornings at the park and watching "Despickle-To-Me 2" a million and one times.

And, watermelon popsicle juice running down my chin.

Creamy Watermelon Popsicles
  • 3/4 C. sugar
  • 3/4 C. water
  • 4 C. cubed watermelon, seeds removed
  • 3 T. corn syrup
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 C. heavy cream
Make simple syrup by combining sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Allow syrup to cool, then pour into blender with watermelon - blend until liquefied. Strain watermelon mixture thru fine mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl.

Add corn syrup, fresh lemon juice and heavy cream - whisk well to combine.

Chill mixture, then pour into popsicle molds. Freeze overnight until solid, or at least 8 hours.

Makes about 4 1/2 C liquid which makes 10-12 popsicles in Zoku's classic mold (shown in photos). Or, you can use popsicle sticks & any mold of your choosing (paper cups, etc).

Recipe Adapted from Paula Jones, for Dixie Crystals

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

So I recently realized I have some pretty big news that I have yet to share with you guys.

The Mini is about to have her very own Minion... her baby brother is making his appearance sometime in the next few weeks!

I just had my last day of work and I am so relieved.  During round 1, I only had 3 full, what-would-have-been-work-days of maternity leave before the Mini made her appearance.

Yup, the first time around I had bought a ton of food, preparing to spend the upcoming weeks making freezer meals so we would have lots of yummy dinners to eat in the midst of Newborn Madness.

Well... that never worked out.  Mini came 3 weeks early, and the day after we got home from the hospital Hurricane Sandy came too.

You know what they say... best laid plans...

So you know what?  This time around... I have no plans.

I don't even have a hospital bag packed.  <Sigh>

But my due date is June 14, and it just hit me this week that if he comes when Mini did, that would be less than a week from today.  Meaning... it's probably time to get my act together now.

It seems the 'nesting' instinct is starting to kick in, so I'm hoping that won't be too hard.  But we just finished our big upstairs renovation project enough to move our things up, so between that, work, a very active 2 1/2 year old, and just sheer exhaustion-- I can assure you I've had neither the time nor the energy to plan any freezer meals.

Sorry, family.  These days you are probably lucky that a meal gets put on the table, that is not hot dogs or grilled cheese.  (Not that Mini, or even Mr. Vittles, would complain about either of those choices... but still).

Given that fact, it is a truly joyous occasion when I come across a recipe that is not only this easy but also super yummy.  If you like chicken parm, but hate breading chicken, this recipe is for you.  The croutons give it a nice crunch without all the work.  (I even did a third with gluten-free croutons for myself, and it was still scrumptious!)

Anyway, I probably won't be posting again before the Minion's big reveal, so wish me luck.  If I'm MIA for a bit, you know why.

I ran out into traffic.

Ha! No, just kidding.

...I hope?

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 t. minced garlic
  • salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken, cubed
  • 1 C. marinara sauce
  • 2 T. parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 C. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2/3 C. seasoned croutons, coarsely crushed (my favorite kind is New York brand Texas Toast croutons)

Preheat oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray an 8" square baking pan with cooking spray, and add chicken cubes to cover bottom of pan. Drizzle olive oil over top of chicken, and sprinkle with minced garlic.  Sprinkle with salt & freshly ground pepper to taste.

Then, evenly cover the chicken with sauce, and sprinkle with parmesan and 1/2 C. mozzarella. Sprinkle the croutons over cheese, and then sprinkle the other 1/2 C. of mozzarella.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until breasts are cooked through. If desired, place under
broiler for a couple of minutes to brown croutons/cheese.  Remove from oven & let stand for 5-10
minutes before serving.  Serves 2-4

Recipe Adapted Slightly from

Monday, April 13, 2015

Leftover Easter Candy Fudge

Before Easter, my best friend Lauren and I were discussing how, now that we have children, sometimes the anticipation of holidays is more fun than the actual experience of them.

You envision this fabulous day of family togetherness and tradition... when the actuality is a totally overwhelmed little munchkin, all hopped up on sugar, who is likely to crash and burn at any moment.

Surprisingly... that did not happen this Easter.

Despite a steady intake of chocolate eggs and jellybeans and only a 30-minute power nap in the car, the Mini was pretty much a rockstar.

She hunted eggs like a champ (they had more chocolate treats in them - duh), and despite a few tears over pictures, she was mostly kind to our family members to boot.

Egg hunting pro.. with a little help from Dad 

"Look Mom... more chaw-colate."

It's funny to me that we ended up with such a little treat monster.  In fact, she loves food in general.  She points it out in books, is obsessed with pretend food, and is relentless in her pursuit of another snack.  ("Mommy - I want sumpin'.")

I wasn't sure how she would be, just because Mr. Vittles is an "eat to live" kinda guy and I'm a "live to eat" kinda gal.  I figured it could have gone either way.  But as a true Mini Smalls, she takes after her mommy.  Food is forever on the brain.

When I put her to bed the night before Easter, she sighed and said "I hope the Easter Bunny brings me treats."

And he did.  He brought the whole Vittles family treats, in fact.  Hence, this fudge.

This would also be great with leftover Halloween candy. Or half-price candy that you buy on clearance after either holiday.

Er, not that I would know anything about that.

Leftover Easter Candy Fudge

  • 2 1/2 C. sugar
  • 4 T. butter
  • 1 5-oz. can evaporated milk
  • 1 7.5-oz. jar Marshmallow creme (such as Fluff)
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 12-oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C. chopped candy of your choice (I used Cadbury Mini Eggs)

Grease a 9" square pan, or line with nonstick foil.  Set aside.

Combine sugar through salt ingredients in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.  Stir until melted.

Increase heat to medium and bring mixture to a boil (do not mistake air bubbles for boiling).  Boil slowly, lowering heat slightly if necessary, and stir constantly for 5 minutes or until mixture reaches softball stage (about 235 degrees Fahrenheit).

Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla.  Then stir in chocolate chips, and mix until chips are completely melted and combined with the marshmallow syrup.

Pour into prepared pan, and jiggle pan to level mixture.  Sprinkle with chopped candy, and press gently to set.  Allow mixture to cool completely and slice into squares.

Recipe Adapted from Durkee Mower Inc, as posted on

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Chocolate Almond Coconut Granola

It's been a while since I've been this excited about a recipe but... holy smokes, y'all.  I am in love with this granola!

I recently saw a recipe for Triple Chocolate Crunch Granola and knew that was something I needed to try.  But shortly thereafter, I was inspired by a very nice representative from* to develop a recipe using almonds.  I had the idea to make a chocolate granola, with almonds... and coconut.

For a coconut lover like me, that's essentially a trifecta of deliciousness.  Almond joy-ous, if you will!  Plus I keep hearing about all the health benefits of almonds and coconut oil, so I feel like it's an indulgence you don't have to feel too guilty about.

And while I had a pretty decent first attempt at this, I tweaked a few things and my second try was spot on.  I have been sneaking handfuls of this stuff every time I walk by the container.  It's addicting!

Honestly.  The photo session was like 30% shooting, 70% snacking.

Soo good.

I just feel badly for Mr. Vittles-- he's not big fan of granola, and he's REALLY not a fan of people crunching food in his presence.  It's a weird pet peeve of his.

I didn't realize how super crunchy this granola really is until The Mini was chomping away on some as her "after-dinner treat" the other night.  Pretty much her dad's worst nightmare.  I wasn't sure if I should be more worried about her tiny teeth chipping, or his soul being crushed with every bite.

So... uh, sorry, Mr. V.  But everyone else - you're welcome!

Chocolate Almond Coconut Granola
  • 2 1/2 C. old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
  • 1/2 C. sliced almonds
  • 1/2 C. sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/4. C. agave nectar
  • 1/3 C. dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 C. coconut oil (use unrefined for coconut flavor)
  • 1 T. almond butter
  • 1/2 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 t. salt
  • 2/3 C. mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or nonstick foil, & set aside.

In large bowl, mix oats with almonds and coconut until evenly distributed.  Set aside.

In small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine agave, brown sugar, coconut oil, and almond butter.  Stir until oil and almond butter are melted, then add cocoa powder.  Mix until no lumps remain (mixture will be thick, like brownie batter).

Remove saucepan from heat and stir in vanilla and salt.  Add to oat mixture, and use clean hands to coat oats with cocoa mixture until evenly covered. (I know this is messy, but I recommend using your hands because you'll be able to coat the dry ingredients more thoroughly if you stir & squeeze the ingredients through your fingers.)

Spread granola evenly onto prepared sheet, and bake for 30 minutes, stirring well but gently every 10 minutes with a rubber spatula.  Remove from oven, and immediately sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.  Stir well to form larger clusters of granola, then spread back out evenly on pan to cool.  Place pan on wire rack until granola has cooled completely & chocolate has hardened (2-3 hours). Store in airtight container.

Recipe Loosely Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

*Note: I did not receive any free samples or compensation from when collaborating on this post.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Red Velvet Frozen Yogurt

Four years ago, I made a really yummy red velvet ice cream, and ever since I've been wanting to try my hand at a red velvet frozen yogurt.

Clearly I was not in any particular hurry, but hey - better late than never.

With Valentine's Day again right around the corner, this is a nice, festive recipe.

For me, it's also a frozen treat my daughter can eat that's not hanging off the side of my house.

(Yes... that is an icicle.)

Ever since the "Great Blizzard of 2015" a couple weeks ago (which turned out to be nothing more than a regular snow storm in our parts), the Mini has been asking for another "ike-icle snack."

Leave it to my child to find something to munch on while playing in the snow.

In any event, since the main ingredient here is whole milk Greek yogurt, this is much tangier than ice cream.  To someone like Mr. Vittles, who is not a fan of yogurt, this was a great disappointment.  But not to me!  I looove yogurt, especially thick and creamy Greek-style - so I say, bring on the tang.

I will caution you, however, this frozen yogurt is best eaten right out of the ice cream maker.  That's when it will have a consistency closest to what you'd find in a yogurt shop. If you do freeze it for later, make sure you let it sit on the counter for about 15-20 minutes before trying to serve it.  This is how I was able to scoop it to take the photos seen here.

If you choose to add alcohol, that should help make it easier to scoop - but just keep in mind it will still be quite firm.

Red Velvet Frozen Yogurt 

  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 2 1/2 t. cocoa powder
  • 1 oz. white baking chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2/3 C. half and half
  • 2 T. light corn syrup
  • 1 t. red food coloring
  • 2 C. plain whole milk Greek yogurt (such as Chobani)
  • 3 T. vodka, optional if planning to freeze for later*

In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and cocoa powder until no lumps remain.  Set aside.

Over double boiler, combine white chocolate and half and half.  Heat, whisking frequently, until chocolate is melted.  Add sugar and cocoa, and whisk until dissolved.

Remove from heat, and add corn syrup and red food coloring. Whisk to thoroughly combine. Let cool slightly, then fold in yogurt with rubber spatula.  Once yogurt is incorporated, whisk mixture until smooth and no streaks remain.

Chill in refrigerator until mixture is cold (about 2 hours). Then churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions (I have a Cuisinart, and I churned for about 25 minutes). During last few minutes of churning, add vodka if using.  Serve immediately, or store in freezer in airtight container.

*The vodka helps give the mixture a more scoopable consistency if you plan on freezing for later. If you don't use it, I would recommend letting the yogurt sit on the counter a bit to soften before trying to scoop it.

Original Recipe

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Mary's Cowboy Caviar

Today, I have for you a special treat. Not only is this bean "salsa" amazing, but one of my favorite people in the world offered to share her recipe and a post. Take it away, Mary!

Hello! My name is Mary and I am super excited about being a guest blogger today! To start, Maggie and I have been friends since high school, and I am actually shocked she asked me (well I may have gently suggested) that I guest blog for her! As it with most friendships, as we get older it gets harder and harder to find time to catch up. We decided though to make the time to get together and catch up over the holiday. 

My friends and I were all going to bring something to eat to Maggie’s. Now as they know I am not a all. However I do have one ace up my sleeve, a great bean dip known as Cowboy Caviar which I bring everywhere I go, and it’s become a hit with a lot of people. 

My sister-in-law gave me the recipe, who had gotten it from someone else- so I am not sure of the origin. But it’s delicious and easy, and everyone loves it!

Cowboy Caviar

1/2 C. oil (I use canola)
1/2 C. apple cider vinegar
1/2 C. sugar
1 t. salt

1 can black beans
1 can black-eyed peas
1 can shoe peg corn
1 C. chopped green pepper
1 C. chopped red pepper
1/2 C. chopped scallions

Make dressing first so it can cool: put dressing ingredients in pot, and boil until sugar is dissolved.

Meanwhile, pour beans, peas, corn in a colander to drain liquid and rinse well. Add all to a big bowl. Mix well, and pour dressing when cooled. Best to chill at least 4 hours, and prior to serving drain some of the liquid. Serve with tortilla chips.

Family Recipe - Origin Unknown


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...