Smoothie Madness ~ Recipe

Thursday, August 8 2012

We have been really into smoothie making lately, mostly due to our new Ninja !  And, during many a concoction on our road to the ultimate smoothie, we happened upon this delicious and nutritious, ‘double-thumbs up’, blended perfection of veggies and fruits;  The Pink Drink Smoothie (I did not name this).

This was voted a favorite by my kids and they ask for it every morning.  It has some great ingredients, which, since they don’t watch me during the blending session, the kids don’t really know what is in it.  I am not sure they would drink it if they did, so don’t tell!  But it’s oh-so good, I thought I’d share.

Pink Drink Smoothie


1 cup Orange Juice

2 heaping spoonfuls of organic vanilla or french vanilla yogurt (fat-free? you decide)

1 cup Almond Milk Unsweetened

1/4 cup shredded carrots

1/2 small avocado

1 Banana

1 Peach

2 generous shakes of Flax seeds

Handful of spinach

1 1/2 Cups Strawberries (frozen)

(We add frozen blueberries if we have them around, too, but then it’s not really pink anymore.)


Pile ingredients, in no particular order, in blender and puree to desired consistency.  (Ingredients will reach the top of the blender before blended.  Fill ‘er up!)  This makes almost 8 cups of smoothie goodness!  Our blender is 7.5 cups.  If using a smaller blender, adjust ingredient amounts accordingly!  Also, the sweetness comes from the yogurt, fruit, and juice, but we have omitted the juice altogether and just added a cup of water or extra ice cubes and it is still delish!

This Pink Drink is my secret way of getting  my kids to eat some fruits and veggies in the morning, waking their bodies up with energy and natural sugars.  And, it’s so tasty, they will never know how good it is for them either!

I hope you’ll try it!


Images: all for Monkeysonmyback

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Sweet Potato Minis ~ Recipe

Thursday, June 21 2012

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a recipe.  After prepping some healthy snacks to take on our trip, I thought I would share this one.  An all-time favorite around here for sure.  Introducing, super yummy, healthy, can’t stop eatin’ ‘em, Sweet Potato Minis.

This is our yummy batch after Zz and I whipped them up this morning.  Not only are they healthy, these little mini muffins are the perfect size for little hands and mouths.

Sweet Potato Minis

Yields: 36-48 Mini muffins


1 stick organic butter, softened

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

2 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/3 baked and mashed sweet potato (orange inside skin if you get confused)

2 cups all-purpose whole wheat flour (50/50)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt (I omit)

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy.  Beat in sugar and honey until fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time, then milk, vanilla, and sweet potatoes.  At this point the batter might look curdled.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and spices.  Beat together wet and dry mixtures until just combined.

Optional step:  Prepare Cinnamon Sugar sprinkle for top of each mini.  7 tablespoons of cinnamon sugar (one tablespoon cinnamon mixed with 6 tablespoons granulated sugar)

Spray mini muffin tin pan and fill each cup about halfway with batter; less full for more muffins.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar topping, if desired.  Bake about 12 minutes in convection oven, 14-16 in regular oven or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Hope you give them a try!


Image: Laura for Monkeysonmyback, Original recipe adopted from Wondertime Magazine and tweaked to our liking.

Pizza Wrap Calzone ~ Recipe

Monday, March 19 2012 


Of course, just when I don’t need any more reason to sit down at the computer, I  (like many people I know) am admittingly becoming addicted to Pinterest.   If you don’t know, Pinterest is a social photo sharing website where one can get ideas about decor, fashion, inspirational thoughts, fitness, and of course, food!  When I saw the above picture during one of my recent Pinterest visits, I knew this would make a perfect dinner for our family…wrapped pizza (AKA Calzone, right?).

Most things I ‘Pin‘ on Pinterest I only dream about actually doing.  But this  looked so good, and easy, that I just had to try  it.

Here’s my gathering of ingredients:

I chose not to make my own dough on this day because we had a busy night of multiple soccer practices.

After cooking the sausage, I quickly mixed up the pizza dough.  (Using Gluten Free varieties is a bit stickier, as a side note).  Flatten the dough into a long rectangle-like shape. Make sure to grease the pan you are using, as well.  Once the crust is flattened, use a pizza cutter to slice the sides on a slight angle.

Fill with fixings to your liking.  This particular one is for our non-veggie eaters in the family; sauce, sausage, cheese, and the broccoli I snuck in.  First I tucked the end area up to hold in as much as possible because I wasn’t sure if it was going to leak out while cooking.  Then I ‘mummy wrapped’ up the rest.  On the top, I brushed some olive oil, oregano, and Italian Seasoning and put it in the oven at 350 degrees until the dough was done; about 25 minutes.

Writing this post is making me hungry!

And, here is our final, super yummy, outcome!

Making this pizza wrap was fairly quick, too, especially since I bought the premix for the dough.   The premix came with yeast, but I substituted ‘Quick-Rising Yeast’ instead so the dough only had to sit fifteen minutes, not 45!  The most tedious part was chopping the veggies, which only took about 10 minutes.  Honestly, I wasn’t paying much attention to how much time this dinner took , but I’d say 25 minutes to prep (due to sausage and chopping and dough rising) and 25 to cook.   Quick for  me, anyway,  with Zz pulling at my legs, breaking up squabbles, and being distracted by Ellen!

All in all, a great Pinterest visit, I would say.

Are you interested in checking out Pinterest?  Good luck not getting addicted!


Images: 1),  2-9) Laura for monkeysonmyback

Beer. Cheese. Soup? ~Recipe

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I meant to post this after the Packer’s won last weekend, but they didn’t…um…okay, sorry.  So, I actually forgot about it, but now is as good of a time as any.

A dear college friend and I used to send emails back and forth when we thought of a funny way to end the following sentence, “You know you are in Wisconsin when”…

  • you get a drink from a bubbler
  • Sunday church attire is green and gold
  • People say, “Hey, der hey!” and “doncha’ know?”
  • you are watching sausages race
  • the location of your stay is easily pin-pointed on the back of your left hand.
  • tree houses double as hunting stands
  • your neighbors are grilling in the garage
  • you are eating beer cheese soup!

Don’t get me wrong! This Wisconsin native finds each one of those things funny and great.  Proud of my native dairy land.  After making this soup not long ago, many people out here, (West der hey? eh.) had never heard of it!   It is quite possibly my favorite soup.

“Soup made with beer?!”  

Wisconsin Beer Cheese Soup


1 1/2 cup diced carrots                                                        2 Cups beer

1 1/2 cups diced onion                                                         1/3 cup butter

1 1/2 diced celery                                                                  1/3 cup flour

2 cloves garlic, minced                                                       4 cups milk or  half and half

6 Cups shredded sharp chedder                                      1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tbspn Dijon mustard                                                         2 tsp Worchestershire sauce

1/2 tsp salt                                                                                1/4 tsp black pepper

1 tsp dry mustard                                                                  3 Cups chicken broth

Popped popcorn for garnish


In a large saucepan over medium heat, stir together carrots, onion, celery, and garlic.  Stir in cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.  Pour in chicken broth and beer; simmer until vegetables are tender, about 12 minutes.  Remove from heat

Meanwhile, heat butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  Stir in flour with a wire wisk; cook, stirring until the flour is light brown, about 3 or 4 minutes.  Gradually stir in milk, whisking to prevent scorching, until thickened.  Remove from heat, and gradually stir in cheese.  Keep warm.

Stir beer mixture into cheese mixture.  Stir in Dijon mustard,  Worcestershire sauce, and dry mustard.  Bring to a simmer, and cook 10 minutes.  Serve topped with popcorn.

Yields: 8

I sure hope you try this brew! Ha! Enjoy!


(Recipe adapted from Savvyhostess at, hot pepper sauce omitted.)

Image: Laura for Monkeysonmyback

Cookies for Breakfast! ~ Recipe

Lately we have been on the receiving end of some scrumptious holiday treats; cookies, breads, candies, cakes.  All the cute little candies on the cookies are very intriguing and look so yummy, my kids can not resist to taste each and every one.  Little Z, only 2, took one small bite out of about 10 cookies, and that was it.  He was done.  Makes me laugh and smile watching him learn about this season and how very ‘sweet‘ it is.  Sometimes a little bit too sweet, I know, for our little tummies.

I thought I would share one of our all-time favorite recipes from the best baker I know, my mom.  Sometimes I let my kids eat these cookies for breakfast.  They probably have less sugar than most breakfast cereals, none that we eat, but even so a way to justify “Cookies for Breakfast! Yeah!”

We recently whipped up a batch and they were eaten up instantly…well within two days! Yep, all 8 dozen of them!


2 1/2 Cups 50/50 Pastry Flour

1 tsp. Baking Soda

1 Cup Peanut Butter

1/2 Cup Butter (softened)

2 tsp. Vanilla

1 Cup Honey

2 Eggs, beaten

Mix together:

2 1/2 cups flour (we use 50/50 pastry flour)

1 tsp. baking soda

Cream together in a separate large bowl: 

1 Cup peanut butter

1/2 cup butter (soft)

2 tsp. vanilla

Add Gradually, creaming until fluffy:

1 Cup Honey


2 eggs beaten, mix thoroughly.

In large bowl with peanut butter, add dry ingredients.  Mix well.  Blend in 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips.  

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheets.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.  Makes 8 dozen! Yum!

Every time I bring these cookies to share some place, I am asked for the recipe.  Well, here it is!  Enjoy!  Maybe surprise a little one with come cookies for breakfast and a nice class of milk!  Smiles are guaranteed!


Image: Laura for

Chinook Winds to Blame! Green Farfalle with Gorgonzola Sauce ~ Recipe

Lately this state of Colorado has got me in a state of crazy over the windy weather.  The Chinook (pronounced, shin-ook)  winds have been blessing us with snow in the mountains and warm air lately this November, not to mention some hair whipping, ear whistling, eye tearing days.  My children don’t even want to ‘bat an eye’, or blink, to brave the wind and play outside after school before the sun lays low behind the distant mountains.  And, I have to admit, I must agree.  Hot weather.  Cold Weather.  Both are an easy fix with some simple clothing adjustments.  But wind. Ugh.  We have witnessed gusts up to 90 miles per hour!  Last weekend we attempted a nice Boulder Foothill hike, Little Z in the carrier, singing our hiking songs louder than the wind.  Our hike was cut short, however, when a Chinook gust came head-strong at Hubby who in turn lost his balance and knocked our carrier (toddler included) into our daughter smashing her head…no worries, small tears…we were defeated.  We back-tracked the short 1/4 mile and drove home amongst the tumble weeds, barreling into our tires.

If you look at the picture above, we live at the bottom of the red arrow, generally speaking.

The wind has been beckoning at our windowpanes for some 2 weeks now, on and off.  And, so we, although not wanting to admit it, have decided to cozy up and start our family hibernation for the winter months.  Hibernation preparation, if you were not aware, includes things such as;  game nights, movie nights, hide-n-seek nightly, more stories before bed.  Training our bodies and minds to accept being indoors and in dark.  Oh, of course, this also includes food!

I read that the word Chinook was claimed by popular mythology to mean “eater.”  Is this why I had a craving all days last week for soups, breads and pastas?  The pasta dish above I found in my PASTA book by William Sonoma (yes, that is the name of the book; PASTA ) and could not believe that I hadn’t tried it yet.  It got rave reviews from our tasting panel too!


3 tbsp unsalted butter.

3 shallots.

1lb green (I used spinach) farfalle (used spiral).

1/2 cup chicken stock.

1/2 lb *Gorgonzola Dolcelatte cheese (remove rind and cut).

3/4 cup heavy cream.

Grated zest of 1 lemon.

Handful of fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, coarsely chopped.

6 fresh sage leaves, coarsely chopped.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Meanwhile, in a large frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add shallots and saute until soft, about 4 minutes.

Salt the water generously, then add pasta and cook until al dente, 9-11 minutes.

Reduce the heat of the frying pan to low and add chicken stock, cheese, cream, and lemon zest.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir about 4 minutes or until all ingredients are smooth and melted.

Drain the pasta.  Add it to the frying pan with the cheesy mixture.  Remove from heat and add the chopped sage and parsely.  Toss briefly to coat pasta.  If sauce is too thick, add more stock.  Serve immediately.  YIELDS 6

I served up some **Parmesan Chicken Fingers with the pasta, also a fan favorite.

Our kids were slurping the green noodles up; their lips covered in white creamy sauce.  And, a small bonus for them, I didn’t make them eat without their shirts on (which is usually a requirement  with our regular spaghetti and meatballs meal).

For some reason, dinner did not seem as rushed on this night.  We sat around sharing stories with our kids of places we went as children, and things we experienced; salamanders in the basement, canoeing in the stumps and getting stuck, building treehouses….

Bring it on, Chinook!  Bring it on, Winter!

Images: 1) Wikipedia 2) PASTA, by William Sonoma

*Find this in the gourmet cheese section of your grocery store.

**PARMESAN CHICKEN: I kind of just made up this recipe when I realized how much my kids love chicken tenders from various places and how much junk is put into them.  I simply cut some chicken breasts lenthwise, dip in Olive Oil, and shake in a zip-loc bag full of homemade breadcrumbs (i.e. bread, garlic pepper, extra parmesan cheese), and then cooked them in Coconut Oil.