Garlic Chicken Pasta (in the Crockpot)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Life with five kids is always hectic, but with spring activities kicking into high gear, I've found that dinnertime is getting the short end of the stick more and more often.  This recipe is one I discovered, bought the ingredients for, and whipped out on one crazy night.  Just throw the chicken and the bottle of marinade  into the crockpot, let it cook all day, cook the pasta, and whip together the sauce in a couple of minutes an voila you have a very yummy dinner that takes about 10 minutes of hands-on cooking time.  We loved the flavor of this dish and I am now keeping the Lawry's marinade in the pantry for another insane day. 

Click here for printable recipe.  

Posted by Lara. 

The ingredients:

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 bottle (12 oz) Lawry’s mesquite marinade with lime juice
1 pkg. (16 oz.)  pasta
1/2 cup butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tbs. pepper
2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb. bacon, cooked and chopped
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Place chicken and bottle of marinade into crockpot and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.  
When chicken is tender and cooked through, remove from crockpot, drain the juices, and shred the chicken.  
  Set aside.  About a half-hour before serving, boil the pasta as directed on package. In a small saucepan, melt butter, then add whipping cream, pepper, garlic, whipping cream, and chopped bacon. Whisk together on low heat for 3-4 minutes. 

In a large bowl, pour over cooked, drained pasta, add chicken and stir through. Sprinkle a little bit more shredded parmesan cheese on top and serve immediately.
Makes about 6 servings.  

Recipe Source:  Becky Higgins


Oatmeal Cream Pies (Little Debbie Knock Off)

Monday, March 18, 2013

I come from a family who loves sweets and a mom that didn't love to bake, so we grew up getting our dessert fix from boxes of Little Debbie snacks.  My parents had to hide them so we kids didn't make off with entire boxes of them at a time.  My idea of a great day was when dad packed my lunch and put in an entire treat, rather than splitting it in half like my mom did.  The Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies were simple, but always one of my very favorites of all the varieties. Now I'm all grown up and haven't bought a box of Little Debbies in well over a decade, so when I found this recipe on Pinterest I immediately became mildly obsessed with trying them.  I talked my daughter into whipping up a batch one day, which instead of alleviating my obsession, seemed to only increase it.  They actually taste similarly to the Little Debbie version and while I wouldn't call them healthy, this homemade version certainly doesn't have any preservatives or chemicals of the boxed version.  We've since made them a few more times and I can say that these are among my new favorite cookies.  I love it with lots of the coconut extract, but you could reduce that if you prefer.  You want to cook these only until they look ALMOST done.  If you overbake them, they will lose their fabulous chewy texture.  Enjoy! 

Makes about 12 sandwich cookies.

Click here for printable recipe.
Posted by Lara.

The ingredients:

Soft Chewy Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1-1/4 cups sugar
3 Tbs. molasses
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. coconut extract (can use less if you don't care for coconut flavor)
1-3/4 cups + 2 Tbs. all purpose flour (I used half white whole wheat flour and half all purpose flour)
1 cup oats, ground slightly in blender  (don't skip the blending--it really makes the texture)
2 tsp. cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger

Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup  shortening
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 jar (7-ounces) marshmallow creme

In a medium bowl, whip together butter, shortening, sugar,  and molasses on medium-high speed  for 1-2 minutes.  Add eggs, vanilla, and coconut extract.  Beat together.  Add flour, blended oats, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.  Beat together until just mixed. 
 Form about 2-tablespoons of dough into balls (I didn't make them quite this big) and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until they looking slightly underdone.  Take care not to overbake, as they will lose their fabulous chewy texture.  Allow to cool in the pan for about 10-minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack. 

When cookies are completely cooled, place a large spoonful of marshmallow frosting on the flat side of a cookie and sandwich together with another cookie.  VOILA!  A beautiful oatmeal cream pie cookie that taste similar, but better than the storebought version!   Makes about 12 sandwich cookies.

Whip together butter, shortening, and powdered sugar.  When smooth and fluffy, add the jar of marshmallow creme and whip together until well combined. 

Recipe adapted slightly from Cooking Classy.


Chicken Gyros

Monday, March 11, 2013

This chicken gyro recipe is everything we've been looking for in our food lately--wholesome, not time consuming to make, and still great tasting!   My kids went a little light on the tzatziki sauce, but I liked mine oozing with it.  You can grill the chicken if you prefer, but ours is out of order so we went with the stovetop instead. 

These also make for a great lunch.  Just pack the toppings and flatbread in their own little containers and throw together at lunch time.  No need to even heat them!  Enjoy!

Click here for printable recipe.

Posted by Lara.

The ingredients: (makes 4 gyros)

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thirds
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced
2 tsp. red wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup tzatziki sauce (click for recipe or buy it premade from the store)
sliced tomatoes
sliced onions
sliced cucumbers

Combine garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper and pour into a large Ziploc baggie.  

Put sliced chicken breasts inside the baggie, seal,  and place in fridge allowing to marinate for about one hour. 

Preheat heavy frying pan to high, generously sprinkle salt and pepper over the chicken,   and place chicken in single layer.  Cook on high for 1-2 minutes or until lightly browned on the one side.  Flip and repeat on the other side. 

When both sides are browned (don't cook it all the way through yet), turn the heat down to LOW and cook for about 10 minutes or until chicken is tender and cooked through.  Remove from pan and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before slicing into smaller pieces. 

Heat the flatbread for about 30 seconds in the microwave or until soft and pliable.  Layer tzatziki sauce, chicken , tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and lettuce.  Roll and enjoy!  To get them to stay wrapped, use a toothpick or wrap it in foil. 


Recipe adapted from Tide and Thyme.


Homemade Tzatziki Sauce

To go along with the Chicken Gyro recipe, this sauce is the perfect accompaniment to any Mediterranean food or as a dip for your veggies.  I recommend using the small side of your grater for the cucumbers. 
Click here for printable recipe.

Posted by Lara.

( Makes 3-4 cups of sauce)

The ingredients:
2 regular cucumbers, peeled
1 (32 oz.) container plain Greek yogurt
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp. red wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
1 tsp.  fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. dried dill
salt and a little pepper
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Shred or grate the cucumbers, place them in a clean kitchen towel, and then squeeze to get rid of as much excess moisture as possible.  (NOTE:  the smaller you grate the cucumber, the better the texture of the sauce)

Mix together the Greek yogurt, shredded cucumbers, garlic, vinegar and lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste. It’s best to refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving, so flavors can blend.
Drizzle a little olive oil over the top before serving.


Recipe adapted from Tide and Thyme


Vegetarian Peanut Squash Soup

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

We've had a couple of mild winters here in the DC area, with nary more than a skiff of snow here or there.   Finally it's March and we were all geared up for springtime and it is snowing harder than it has in a long time.  My kids are quite excited about the sledding and snowman potential, while I was most excited to be able to sleep past 5:00am this morning! 

This soup recipe is one of those that's perfect for a day like today.  It's got an Asian-esque flavor that my family adores (even my picky ones) and the only reason why I haven't published it before is that we needed to keep tweaking it until we got the right texture.  I have a couple of kids who don't like smooth soups and another couple (including me) who don't like the texture of cooked squash.  We finally settled on a 2/3 pureed to 1/3 chunky ratio.  It's perfect for everyone, especially if you're trying to eat healthier, but short on time.  Using the precubed squash from the produce section, this comes together with very little prepwork and with squash as the base and peanuts for protein, it's a home run healthwise too!   

Click here for printable recipe.

posted by Lara.


1 Tbs. peanut oil
4 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (look for it prepeeled and cubed in the produce section)
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbs. minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. ground coriander
3 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
¾ cup peanut butter
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper(or to taste)
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large sauce pan over medium high heat, heat peanut oil.  When hot, add squash, onion, garlic, salt, cumin, and coriander. 

Sauté for 5 minutes or until onion is tender.  Then add broth, peanut butter, tomato paste, and crushed red pepper, stirring well to combine.

Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until the squash is soft (about 10 minutes). 

Blend about 2/3 soup in blender (in small batches), until chunks are gone. 
This picture is shown before blending.

Return soup to pot, then sprinkle with cilantro and serve hot with fresh homemade bread (or over pasta). 


Recipe adapted slightly from 100 Days of Real Food. 


About This Blog

My name is Lara and while I'm definitely not a gourmet cook, I do love preparing tasty, healthy meals for my family. Finding new recipes to try and sharing the ones we've already fallen in love with is a passion I've had since college and the reason why I've started this blog! With five kids, I'm usually in a hurry, so you'll find most of these recipes kid friendly and simple to make.

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