S’mores Monkey Bread

Do you know what doesn’t help you loose the baby weight?!

S’MORES WEEK!!!!!!

But it’s been worth it. How can it not be?!?!

Chocolate… check!

Marshmallow… check!

Graham Cracker… check!

And I really needed to step my game up this year as it is the 5th (!!!) year that Amanda and I have done S’mores week together. Holy cow!!

The funniest part of this whole thing is that I used to hate S’mores and now I love them. I just never liked the traditional S’more that much  since the graham cracker was so crunchy and the chocolate never melted much so it was just blah. The real star of the trio was the marshmallow, but now that I have mastered my S’more making techniques and have been having a blast making all these different variations.

Now that we have been doing this for 5 years, we have each made 25 S’mores recipes. Plus, some extras that are just in our S’mores Addiction Ebook, that we created last year. Clearly, we love s’mores. Maybe that should be our next matching tattoo that we get together? ha!

This S’mores Monkey Bread doesn’t disappoint!

I made this monkey bread and had to get it out of my house ASAP for fear of eating way, way too much of it. The flavor and texture was great from the S’mores mix in’s that are combined throughout the monkey bread. But then it gets even better from the toppings. That quick fudgy sauce is the real deal finisher for this bread.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

S’mores Monkey Bread

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

For the monkey bread

  • 2 biscuit cans (1 lb each)
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 1/2 Cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 6 graham crackers broken into small pieces
  • 1 Cup chocolate chips
  • 1 Cup mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 Cup marshmallow bits
  • 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the topping

  • 1/2 Cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 Cup heavy cream

Process

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Grease a 12-cup bundt pan.
  2. Cut each biscuit into 8 pieces. (I suggest using kitchen shears)
  3. Combine the sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, graham cracker pieces, chocolate chips, and marshmallows to a very large bowl.
  4. Add the biscuit pieces in batches and mix to coat.
  5. Pour the coated biscuit pieces into the bundt pan with the s’more mixture. As you do this you want to make sure the graham cracker pieces, chocolate chips, and marshmallows are evenly distributed throughout the bundt pan.
  6. Pour the melted butter evenly over the monkey bread mixture.
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Rotate in the oven half way through.
  8. Just prior to the monkey bread being done baking, make the sauce by combining the chocolate chips and heavy cream. Heat over low heat, stirring as it melts. (You can even do this in the microwave by heating for 15 second intervals at 50% heat, stirring until smooth).
  9. When the monkey bread is done, immediately flip it out onto your serving dish.
  10. Top with the chocolate sauce, graham cracker crumbs, and mini marshmallows.

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Check out Amanda’s awesome S’mores Frozen Yogurt!

It will be your new favorite summer treat! It starts with regular vanilla yogurt and turns into the most delicious S’mores Froyo with a fudge swirl, graham crackers, and mini marshmallows.

 

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Summer Vegetable Enchiladas 

I swear that there is a strange time suck that happens every day. It’s amazing how the time just flies by and before I know it it’s 2pm. Then it’s quickly 3 and then 4pm. Poof! The day is almost over and before I know it Autumn is home from daycare and then my husband is getting home.

Then the rest of the night is a blur too! Quickly, things fly by with dinner, bath time, story time, and the longest bed time routine ever by a 3 1/2 year old who manages to draw it out for an hour and a half. I think we say “go to bed” “stay in bed”, or “get back in your room” 50x a night.  Ugh!

Basically, I have no idea how the days are speeding by. Well, I sorta do since I am taking care of a newborn and that just makes things a bit crazy, but still!

Since every minute counts, I am constantly looking for ways at being really efficient in things and creating shortcuts. The biggest time suck for me is cooking since I am generally trying to do it with a baby strapped to me or while Autumn is asking me 100 questions and needing help to open every play-doh can we own (A LOT).

Seriously, they have a great skill to know that when you take out ingredients to start something and when they need to show you the new skill of twirling on the other foot at that very moment. You must look at that very moment!

While on maternity leave, I have been working around the strategy of cooking at different times. Like when I make stir fry for dinner, I prep the chicken when I can. Then I worry about the veggies. I even measure the rice and set it aside for when I need to cool it off.

Using this strategy, I made these AWESOME Summer Vegetable Enchiladas.

First, I prepared the quinoa. Then I prepped the veggies. When it was time for dinner I cooked the veggies, added the quinoa, and then filled the tortillas. Then I finished them off by using Simply Organic Red Enchilada Simmer Sauce for the enchilada sauce that smothers the top of the filled tortillas. As soon as I opened up the pouch I knew dinner would be great. The sauce was so aromatic, and it only got better as it baked in the oven.

Besides the flavor, I was impressed it was completely organic, just 15 calories a serving and was’t high in sodium. I’ve used plenty of prepared finishing sauces in the past but I was really impressed with this as it wasn’t salty and it didn’t leave an after taste in my mouth either. Just great organic ingredients, making a great dinner!

I told my husband that I was making veggie enchiladas, so I knew I needed to make them super flavorful to overcome the lack of meat in them. I knew my husband would be judging them hard! ha!! He took a bite and I got the thumbs up! I know it was the paring of the veggies with the awesome simmer sauce.

I served the veggie enchiladas with beans to give it an added protein boost. Plus, I just love black beans with any Mexican style dish. They as well can be made in advance, making dinner prep that much easier too!

These enchiladas will soon be your next Meatless Monday favorite!

Summer Vegetable Enchiladas

Makes 8 enchiladas

Ingredients

  • 1/4 Cup minced shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Cups diced zucchini
  • 1 Cup corn, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 Cup diced bell pepper
  • 1 Cup cooked quiona
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 ounce Simply Organic Red Enchilada Simmer Sauce packet
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • toppings such as avocado, diced tomato, cilantro, cheese

Process

  1. Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Spray an 8 x 8 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large skillet, saute the shallot and garlic with the olive oil until translucent over medium heat.
  3. Add the zucchini, corn, and bell pepper, cook until soft and caramelized.
  4. Add the quinoa, mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  5. Spoon about 3 Tablespoons of the filling onto 1 half of each tortilla. Roll up and place in the prepared baking pan. (There maybe be extra filling)
  6. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with cheese. Serve with other desired toppings.

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Post is sponsored by Simply Organic, but all opinions are completely my own

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Chocolate Chip Zucchini Banana Bread

I am freaked out by the littlest thing right now.

While I was pregnant, I went to the dermatologist for a mole on my pelvis that was raised up and hurt. Thanks to Dr Google I had convinced myself it was cancer. Obviously.

The dermatologist thought that was fine; explaining that it probably hurt because of extra blood volume and circulation that occurs during pregnancy. However, she wanted me to come back for another appointment to check on a mole on my upper left thigh to get looked at again when I wasn’t pregnant.

I recently went back to confirm that she was correct that once I wasn’t pregnant my mole stopped hurting and for her to take another look at the one that concerned her. She took some pictures and measurements and said she wanted to do a biopsy.

While they were gone getting the supplies I was pacing the room plotting my escape. I was in a full on panic for the procedure. A super minor procedure. But still I was freaked, which really is just silly since I just had a C-section, which is A LOT MORE involved that this little biopsy.

In the end, it was really nothing but I had to talk myself off the ledge while getting it done. The most annoying part about the whole thing had been the ‘recovery’ as Hunter spends most of his time sitting on my lap so he basically sits right on it. Felt super great.

Pathology called back and explained I had an abnormal mole that often develop to be cancerous and they wanted to do a punch procedure to insure they got clear margins. I’ll spare you the details but I was dumb enough to ask what that involved and my immediate reaction was:

https://giphy.com/embed/k2A4gzRxDL4GI

via GIPHY

Again, nothing compared to having a C-section. But I get freaked out of the littlest things at times. Like splinters can totally freak me out. Or a cut on my foot. I can’t deal.

Wish me luck for 8/2. I’ll be giving myself twice daily pep talks until then.

Very much unrelated to terrifying doctor’s appointments, is this awesome Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread.

It’s the perfect combination of 3 great things rolled up into a golden topped quick bread. How can you resist a soft banana bread that is studded with chocolate chips? The zucchini adds to much moisture to the bread.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large bananas, approx 1 1/2 Cups
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Cup shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 Cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 Cup whole milk plain yogurt
  • 1/4 Cup honey
  • 1 Cup chocolate chips

Process

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 5 x 9 ” metal loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Beat the bananas and eggs. Add the zucchini, oil, yogurt and honey.
  4. In 2 batches, add the flour; just mix to combine. Stir in the chocolate chips
  5. Pour into the prepared loaf pan.
  6. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf is clean when removed. Remove from the pan and let cool on a rack.
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House Tour- Organizing our Kitchen

Last week, as part of my house tour posts, I shared with you the design and layout of our Kitchen and adjacent Breakfast Area.

Now, I am going to take it all a step further and explain how we keep our kitchen organized.

Sure, it has its moments when you can barely see the island when it’s covered in bags, Autumn’s artwork from school, coupons, dog leashes, and freshly washed dishes. Not gonna lie, the random sock sometimes finds it’s way on there too.

That’s real life! But the best way to combat the mess is approaching the kitchen from several different ways from when you design it to move in and live in it.

As well, finding products that best suit your needs. We have incorporated various products from various brands but the biggest things that really revolutionized how we organized the things in our kitchen came from Rev-A-Shelf. They carry products big and small that will help you better organize your kitchen, as well as improve its functionality.

When designing or remodeling a kitchen, I highly suggest starting out by planning out what you have to store away and what you feature to strategically plan where things go. Like we have a our coffee area where the coffee maker is located on the counter, by an outlet, and directly above is a cabinet that stores our mugs, coffees, teas, and to-go cups.

By having specific places for things throughout the kitchen, things can get organized and cleaned up again rather quickly. There is a spot for everything so things can easily put right back in their spots. And it certainly makes finding things a lot easier.

Some of the ways that we have it well organized is the way that we actually designed the kitchen. We made changes to the style and size of cabinets and the arrangement of them. For example, on the ‘active’ wall of our kitchen, we have a 30″ wide microwave cabinet, a 18″ wide cabinet with a door and drawer above, our stove, another 18″ wide cabinet with a door and drawer above, and a 30″ wide cabinet with 3 drawers. The symmetry looks good and after awhile you get used to taking a certain number of steps to each cabinet that your body gets a nice rhythm to each location.

On either side of the stove we have tools that help us use the stove from oven mitts to spatulas. Being able to reach them from the stove is key. It helps functionally and with safety.

Below those drawers are things that we also use often. Our various cutting boards and baking sheets are stored on the left side of the stove. This makes grabbing a sheet for baking up french fries easy, as well as grabbing a cutting board for making a salad. This location worked well, but the items got mixed together and would fall over making the cabinet a mess. The 18″ High Tray Dividers (597-18-50) has allowed us to store and organized our wooden and plastic cutting boards and our baking sheets and cooling racks separately.

On the right side of the stove, we installed an 14″ wide Tall Base Cabinet Pull Out  (4WDB7-18SC-1) that allows for the cabinet to be stocked full of bake wear, but still be well organized and easily accessible. Had we not used the cabinet pull out, it would have meant that things would have been haphazardly stacked up and jammed in there, which would just mean that over time things would get messy. This pull out makes baking a breeze.

Even our decorative floating shelves serve a purpose. They hold gifts, memorabilia from trips, and other things that are special to us. Plus, the lower shelves have various sized small bowls on them that we use for misé-en-place when preparing a meal.

The large cabinet that is directly next to the refrigerator is the work horse of our kitchen. It has 3 drawers that is the work horse of the kitchen. The top drawer is our drawer for all our tools ranging from can opener to pepper corer, the drawer in the middle is for Autumn’s stuff, and the bottom drawer holds our Tupperware.

 

As the top drawer holds so many tools of various sizes we upgraded the drawer organizer that I picked up from Ikea. I believe that since Ikea has their own line of cabinets, they size their organizers to fit their cabinets, which meant it didn’t fit in the cabinet. It resulted in a lot of wasted space around it (picture on the left), so we swapped that out for the Trimmable Cutlery Tray (4WCT-1).

 

The middle drawer holds all of Autumn’s plates, bowls, cups, and straws. I would try to keep it nice and organized but it would just end up in a jumbled mess when things would get tossed in there or pulled out for use.

The Medium Trimmable Pegboard System (4DPS-3021) allows us to partition the drawer out into different sections, creating specific spots for the different things store in the drawer.

Besides it staying super neat, Autumn can now easily find stuff so she can help get her own cups of water or snacks. She can even help put things away when we are unloading the dishwasher since she can easily stack the things she is added to the drawer to the things already in there.

 

Everyone knows the Tubberware cabinet/drawer is the messiest place in the kitchen. It’s the random top throw together, no top matching, miscellaneous, “is this even ours?” place for all the plastic stuff to be tucked away and forgotten about.

First we purged out our collection of random pieces. Then then we used another Pegboard System to help create spaces for the different containers. It’s great how they stay put when the drawer is opened and closed. A little organization went a long way with that space but it is much needed and a big time saver for after dinner next day meal planning.

The island is equally efficient for us. Not only is the sheer size (9′ long!) helpful, but the cabinets and things located at the island is very helpful for the overall function of the space. The island has our plumbing fixtures, which makes doing dishes really easy. Rinse a dish at the sink and then put it in the adjacent dishwasher.

 

We even organized the sink cabinet by adding 2 organizers and a towel holder.

The Door Storage Trays (6232-14-11-52) mount to door providing a place for things like sponges, dish soap, and cleaning supplies.

The Door-Mounted Dish Towel Rack (563-32) will help us by providing a spot for our towels, preventing clutter on our counters. Plus, then the dogs can no longer yank the dirty towels off the stove handle.

As well, I do most of the kitchen prep on the island. I work directly to the right of the sink, which gives me plenty of room to work. Additionally, I can swiftly dispose of trash right into the pull out trash can that is located in the end cabinet.

The very first item we installed in our kitchen was the 30-Quart Bottom Mount Wire Waste Container. The sleek design and finish is a nice feature in an otherwise forgotten space. The hardware has a no-slam slow closer feature which makes operating the trash can with ease. It’s just as easy to pull out, which is great for Autumn.

In the drawer located above the trash can, we have our cutlery organizer. Locating it there means we can stand right next to the dishwasher and unload the clean utensils right into the tray.

On the other side of the sink is another cabinet that is the same size as the cabinet that holds our trash can.  Installing our trash pull out in the equally sized cabinet, inspired  us to install another pull out trash container for the dogs’ food. But we actually took it to the next level and got a 2 can pull out (typically used for trash and recycling).

The Double 35 qt. white container Pull Out System (5149-18DM-211) has allowed us to create a doggy station as we have their food in front and all the toys in the back. They are not the kind of dogs that can be trusted with toys just being out in the house as they, especially Kemper, get really focused on destroying and eating them. Let me tell you, a dog eating a rope toy is a mess and a safety issue too. But now everything they need is right where it needs to be. So perfect!

The remaining cabinets and countertop is a 6′ side section where we have the majority of our small appliances.

On the counter we have storage jars for baking supplies. It’s functional but also just pretty. Plus, getting to easily snag a marshmallow every now and then is a perk!

 

All of our small appliances are in the base cabinets. Yes, I have 5 waffle irons which might seem like a lot but I did make waffles every week for a year.  yum!!!

Price modified the ill-fitting utensil tray from Ikea but cutting off one of the short ends so that it would fit. Now we have enough organizational cubbies  for the small baking items; measuring spoons, measuring cups, pizza cutter, lemon/lime zester, melon baller, and teeny tiny rubber spatulas. The remaining space in the drawer is large enough for our larger baking tools like a kitchen scale and rolling pin.

And every house has a junk drawer, which is always a big mess of whatever.  We all clean and sort them at least once a year and then they get dirty and disorganized again in about 2 days.  We minimized out junk area with a drawer divider, allowing us to put all of our foils, wraps, and plastic bags in in the drawer too.

 

Before we put the baking supplies in the drawer were they currently reside, we had our spices in there. This was a disaster as they would roll around and get jumbled up. Some would even spill out the spices out of their twist tops making a mess in there.

Instead we decided to use two 13 5/8″ wide Door Storage Wire Spice Racks (565-14-52) that we mounted on our pantry door.

Use empty space on the pantry door = Win.

Take everything out of a drawer so I now have extra space to store more stuff = Win.

Organizing all the spices alphabetically = WIN!

 

I am so happy with how well our kitchen is organized now. All of the various products that we used has helped us make cooking and living in the space a real pleasure by keeping the kitchen clean, neat, organized, and useful.

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I was provided product from Rev-A-Shelf, but I was not compensated to write this post. All options are my own.

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Slow Cooker Monkey Bread

I am going to conquer our little office this weekend. Well, I hope.

I have a plan for our little office nook. It’s an outcove off our kitchen area, on the way to the bathroom. It’s quite efficient for space so there aren’t too many options for it. We have a folding table there now but that isn’t a long term solution.

Since there isn’t too much to it, we are going to install a counter there. This was an option for the builder to do but it was crazy expensive. There was no way we were paying $2K for this area. Sure, it would have been great to have a matching counter to our kitchen, but that was an expense that we were just not interested in paying.

So I am heading over to Ikea to pick up a kitchen counter for $45. It will need to be trimmed about a foot or so but there is not much to it. Then we’ll get some brackets up and set it on there. Done and done. Then Price will set up the computer again since I’m useless in that department. I need things color coded or something to hook it all back up properly.

One thing I can simply operate is the slow cooker. ha!

Making monkey bread in the slow cooker is as simple as it gets. You place the coated, cut-up biscuit pieces.

While this method takes longer than your typical baking method, I think it would work well on a morning when you are hosting people or need to get out the door and the rest of the family is sticking around.

I find that cutting the biscuits with kitchen shears to be the easiest way to cut the biscuits. It makes the job super quick as well.

You house will be filled with the sweetest cinnamon roll smell as it cooks.

Slow Cooker Monkey Bread

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

For the monkey bread

  • 2 cans of large buttermilk biscuits (1 pound each)
  • 2/3 Cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon.
  • 1/2 Cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the glaze

  • 4 ounces of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Cups powdered sugar
  • 1 -2 teaspoons milk

Process

  1. Cut each biscuit into 8 equally sized pieces.
  2. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Coat the pieces with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  3. Add the sugar coated biscuit pieces to the slow cooker that has been sprayed well with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Melt the butter and then add the vanilla extract. Evenly pour the butter over pieces.
  5. Turn slow cooker on to  the 2 hour setting (high) for 2 hours. After 1 hour, run a rubber spatula between the monkey bread and the side of the slow cooker. Repeat 30 minutes later.
  6. Just prior to the monkey bread being done, make the glaze by combining all of the ingredients.
  7. When cooking is complete immediately remove the slow cooker vessel from the warming element. Drizzle with the glaze.
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