Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Meal in a Bag - Chicken & Tomato Pasta {Somewhat Simple}

I was lucky enough to participate in the Somewhat Simple ABC Create with Me! series in September.  I shared this awesome shelf-stable meal in a bag. 
m is for meal in a bag

The idea behind this Meal in a Bag is that you have everything for your meal ready to go all in one bag (which, of course, must be made up of shelf-stable ingredients). Then you can just grab it off the shelf and whip it up in a few minutes! It really is that simple, and since all the spices are pre-measured and the cans and packages are all together, it goes together super fast. The instructions are attached to the bag, so even (older) kids can make dinner! One of our favorite Meals-In-A-Bag is this Chicken & Tomato Pasta. It's full of flavor and ready to go in about 20 minutes.
Chicken & tomato pasta

As great as a Meal Bag is for busy days, it's also great for other occasions:
  • camping
  • cooking on vacation
  • emergency situations (power outages, home evacuation, etc)
  • unexpected dinner guests
  • taking to a friend who is especially busy, just had a baby, recovering from surgery, sick, etc.
I like to buy enough ingredients to make several at a time, so even if I use one, I still have more in my
arsenalpantry. If I can find what I need on sale, then I can put my bags together for around $5-$6 per meal. Our family will usually get about 10 servings out of this recipe, so that makes it about 50-60 cents per serving! Not only is that a lot cheaper than a fast food dollar menu, but it's faster and healthier. Win!

meal bag collage

Chicken & Tomato Pasta


  • 8 cups water
  • 1 lb bowtie pasta
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can Italian Style Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (12.5 oz) can chicken breast, including broth

In a zip-top sandwich bag:

  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder


  1. In a stock pot, bring water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. When pasta is cooked to desired tenderness, drain and return to stock pot.
  2. While pasta is cooking, Combine remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  3. Toss chicken & tomato sauce with pasta until thoroughly coated.
  4. Serve warm. This pasta is great with crusty bread and a simple green salad.
  5. If you have shredded Parmesan cheese on hand, sprinkle some on top just prior to serving.
Chicken & Tomato Pasta 3
For a handy printable recipe for your meal bags, click this link: Chicken & Tomato Pasta.
I hope you love this Meal Bag as much as we do!
For all the latest comings and goings, be sure to check me out on
For more delightful bites, try some of these recipes:

Friday, November 21, 2014

Banana Bundtlets with Maple & White Chocolate Icing {Somewhat Simple}

I have felt so busy with life lately that this poor blog has suffered.  My new recipes tend to stay written on sticky notes and attached to my cupboard door, instead of getting posted here so I don't lose them.  Chicken marinades, black bean hummus, amazing mashed potatoes and more...all stuck to my cupboard.  :(  I also realized I haven't been reposting my Somewhat Simple posts, which is sad because they are some of my favorite posts!  I give them the most thought since I have an entire month in between, so I can't just ignore them here!

I don't just love this recipe because it's delicious, totally kid-friendly, and easy to make...but I also feel super flattered because my picture is featured on the home page slider of Somewhat Simple!

This is still really fun for me!  Am I lame?  Probably.  Do I care?  Not enough to stop from shamelessly self-promoting my picture.  :)

Banana bread is one of my kids' faves.  Our recipe has evolved over the years, and it's only become healthier and better tasting!  Especially with the simple but decadent maple & white chocolate icing. This is our favorite banana bread recipe because it goes together fast, it's lower in fat than most banana bread recipes, and it's moist without being sticky.  Win-win-win!

Banana Bread 12

The baby bundt size is perfect for kids, and perfect for sharing! I found my pan (that makes 6 baby bundt cakes) at Michael's, (and I used a 40% off coupon to buy it!). I use an ice cream scoop to fill the bundt cavities, which makes it quick and keeps it clean. My kids think it's so fun to have their own personal mini cake!

Banana Bread Collage 4
The icing is such a great addition to the banana bread. It adds richness to it without overpowering the sweet banana flavor. If you like a strong maple flavor, add up to 1 tsp total. I think it's just right with 1/2 tsp, but my husband, who loves all things maple, is happier with 1 tsp.

Banana Bread Collage 3
Banana Bundtlets with Maple & White Chocolate Icing
  • 5 well-ripened bananas
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (softened if necessary)
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups flour
For the Icing:
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp maple flavor (up to 1 tsp for stronger flavor)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pans with non-stick spray.
  2. In mixer bowl, add eggs and beat well. Add bananas and beat until bananas are mashed and mixture is smooth. Add shortening, applesauce and sugar and combine. Add baking soda, salt and flour and mix well.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  5. While banana bread is baking, prepare the icing by adding the sugar, butter and milk to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir constantly as it comes to a boil, 3-4 minutes. Continue stirring as the mixture boils for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  6. Add the white chocolate chips and maple flavor and stir until the chips are melted and the icing is smooth.
  7. Pour slowly over the top of the bundt cakes, allowing it to drizzle down the sides. Cool and enjoy!
Banana Bread 10 Main

Monday, October 27, 2014

Target Giveaway!

Instead of a recipe for food, I have a recipe for awesome today!  I have teamed up with Aly from Ooh La Lovely Blog, Pamela from Macdonald's Playland, and 18 other awesome bloggers to bring you this $205 Target Gift Card Giveaway! Simply enter in the rafflecopter below for your chance to win and be sure to check out all of the wonderful ladies who have teamed up to bring you this giveaway! 

Giveaway ends next Monday, November 3rd! Best of luck!

Hosted By:
Macdonald's Playland | Ooh La Lovely Blog

Co-Hosted by:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 20, 2014

Easy Chicken Fajitas

Today I've teamed up with 49 other bloggers to bring you 50 easy weeknight meals! I tell my husband all the time that the hardest part of making dinner is figuring out what to make. If I can get organized enough to make a meal plan, I'm golden. If life happens and a meal plan doesn't, I spend more time staring into the fridge and scratching my head than I do actually making dinner. We are helping take the guesswork out of those busy weeknights! Scroll down after this recipe for quick & easy (and delish!) chicken fajitas to see some other fantastic ideas for easy meals!

Chicken Fajitas


  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil or avocado oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • chili powder
  • chipotle chile pepper (powder)
  • cumin
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 Tbsp honey 
  • tortillas (freshly cooked, if possible.  We buy the uncooked Tortilla Land tortillas from Costco)
  • tomato wedges
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 small onion, sliced into strips
  • shredded cheese
  • sour cream
  • salsa
  • avocado


  1.  Heat coconut oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Place chicken in hot skillet and sprinkle liberally with sea salt, pepper, and chili powder.  Sprinkle conservatively with the chipotle pepper powder and cumin.  (If you like more chipotle spice in your chicken, add more!)  My chicken ends up looking like this when I've sprinkled everything on.
{Note: I was cooking for two when I took this picture, so I don't have 4 chicken thighs because I didn't need that many.  This is two and a small piece.  It works the same for any amount of chicken...just adjust the lime and honey accordingly.}
  1. Once your chicken is starting to brown on the bottom, reduce heat to medium.  When the chicken has a nice brown color, turn to finish cooking.  Drizzle the honey and juice over the chicken.  (If you drizzle these over the spices, the spices will run off the chicken and into the pan.  I like to keep it on the chicken, so I wait until I've turned the chicken.)  
  2. While your chicken is cooking, slice the onion and peppers and saute in a small amount of coconut oil.  
  3. While the chicken and peppers & onions finish cooking, prepare your other toppings...shred the cheese, cut tomatoes, slice avocados, etc.
  4. When the chicken is cooked through (no longer pink in the middle, or an instant thermometer reads 165 degrees), remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes.  Slice into strips.
  5. To serve, place chicken and toppings in a tortilla.  Fold the sides up over toppings and enjoy!
*These fajitas are simple to make Whole 30 or Paleo compliant...just omit the cheese, sour cream and tortillas.  Make a fajita bowl instead of wrapping it in a tortilla!

*Someone made us that fabulous salsa in the picture.  She doesn't have a recipe, but I'm trying to talk her into writing it down for me.  It's divine!  Your favorite salsa will be perfect in these fajitas.

*I don't measure out the honey, I just drizzle some on each piece of chicken until it seems right...which ends up being in the neighborhood of 1 tsp (maybe a little less) per thigh.

*You can easily substitute chicken breasts for thighs.  The breasts I buy are generally about twice the size of the thighs I buy, so I use half the number of breasts.  I like to cut my chicken breasts in half before I cook them by laying the chicken flat and keeping my knife blade parallel to the cutting surface.  Slice through the breast and you will end up with two pieces that are the same shape as the breast you started with...just half the thickness.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Bread

If you love the smells and flavors of Fall baking, but don't have the time or {gasp!} desire to do in-depth baking, then this is the most perfect recipe you will every lay eyes on.  With only 5 ingredients and 5 minutes, you can have these mini loaves in the oven and filling your house with your favorite Fall smells.  Break out the sweaters and cider and all things Autumn, it's Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Bread time!

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Bread


  • 1 brownie mix
  • 1 spice cake mix
  • 29 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butterscotch chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add the brownie mix, cake mix, and pumpkin to mixer bowl and thoroughly combine.  
  3. Add the chocolate and butterscotch chips and mix.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared mini loaf pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool 5 minutes in the pans and then remove to wire racks to finish cooling. 

*If this is too light on the butterscotch for you, add more to your heart's content!  The chocolate and butterscotch chips can be changed up however you like it.  But in the words of my ten year old, "They're a nice touch!" so don't leave them out. 

*The loaf pans I used to make these are smaller than the regular mini loaf pans.  My extra mini pans measure 2.5x4, while my regular mini pans measure 3x5.5.

I've teamed up with a group of 75 bloggers to share tons of Fall Harvest Ideas with you! From crafts, to recipes, to home decor and more...we have you covered for Fall inspiration!
75 Fall Harvest Ideas

Check the gallery below and visit some of my blogging friends to see their awesome ideas!!

Monday, September 29, 2014

I am Brave and Beautiful

I am Brave and Beautiful - a beauty movement that is sweeping the globe. Colbie Caillat started it with her recent song and video called TRY. My blogging friend Megan of Brassy Apple wanted to push this movement along and invited women from all over to share what they looked like without make up and I joined in!! Colbie's song says, "Take your make up off. Let your hair down... Look into the mirror at yourself, Do you like you? Cause I like you... "
Megan and her friend Cobi of Peacefrom6pieces have been the team behind this whole project. Their worldwide vision included creating their own video inspired by the song TRY. The talent of Robbins Creative made it possible for them to pull it off. You have to click play and see the beauty and bravery displayed and you might even recognize a few faces in there.
I, along with 120 other blogging women from different backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, ages, shapes and sizes, have decided to be Brave and Beautiful! You can join in this movement too, by sharing what you look like without makeup on. You don't need a blog either! Just tag your photo with #IamBraveAndBeautiful on Instgram and search the hashtag to see who else has joined in. ALSO, if you tag it with a second hashtag - #ColbieTRY we just might be able to get Colbie Caillat's attention since she was the inspiration behind it all!
Are you brave and beautiful? I am, here I go!

I don't have to try so hard because I am already enough to the people that matter most to me.  I often feel like I am pulled in a thousand different directions every day.  Some days I can handle it like a pro.  Some days it reduces me to tears and sweats and a solo Pride & Prejudice sesh (the 6 hour one, obviously).  But even on those hardest days...the ones where I act (and almost always) look my worst, my sweet babies always have extra hugs and kisses for me.  Because to them I am enough.  Even without the makeup.  Or clean hair.  Or nice clothes.  And even when I don't think I am.  I am.
I can be brave and beautiful every day by being the best wife and mother possible.  Because when all is said and done, the people who see me at my worst are the ones who always deserve my best.  And I can give it to them.
Because I am enough.
And so are you.

share your natrual beauty -
Don't stop here. Get clicking around - it's a blog hop! Below are more brave and beautiful women bearing more than their natural beauty. They each have a little bit of their heart to share with you. Some get very personal. Some share stories. For some this was very hard to do yet they gathered their courage and did it anyway. We hope as you click around (and YES pin these different posts!) you will feel the importance of it, the empowering effect it has and that it encourages you in some way.

women sharing their natural beauty - no makeup
women with our makeup on and what makes them beautiful
women from around the world share their face with no makeup on -
Mommy bloggers share their face without makeup and what makes then beautiful
Natural beauty untouched photos
raw natural beauty - join the movement
beauty and bravery - women wearing no makeup -
#colbietry #iambraveandbeautiful
Ready in join in?  Snap, hashtag and share! Tag @BrassyApple and @Peacefrom6Pieces if you can too!
Also follow our Bravery and Beauty PINTEREST board for more inspiration!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Watermelon Granita

If you are looking for an easy, refreshing, delicious and healthy treat this summer, try this watermelon granita.  It's really just a fancy fruit slushie, which means kids like it as much as adults!  We had our 94 year old great grandma over for Sunday dinner, and she told me me three times how good this was.  And I sent some home with my sister because she loved how light and refreshing and delicious it was.  This watermelon granita is perfect for a BBQ because you can make it ahead of time, and just forget about it until it's time to eat!

My kids were SO excited to help scrape it into slushie bits of ice.  They went to town on it with a couple of forks and didn't stop until it was perfectly obliterated scraped.  {I promise they are not playing with a pan of raw ground beef}

Watermelon Granita

  • 8 cups cubed seedless watermelon
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup truvia
  1. Add all ingredients to a blender, in two batches if necessary.  Blend until liquid is smooth.
  2. Using two 9x13 pans, pour half of the mixture into each pan.
  3. Place in freezer for 3 hours.  Remove and scrape frozen fruit mixture with a spoon or fork.  Place back in freezer until ready to eat.
  4. Enjoy on a hot day!
*After 3 hours, mine was ready to eat.  It wasn't time for dinner though, so I put it back in the freezer and it stayed the perfect didn't freeze into one giant clump.

*If you use a seeded watermelon, lightly blend watermelon first and then strain to remove seeds.  Return to blender and continue with recipe.

*If you use one pan instead of two, it will take longer to freeze.  Scrape with a fork or spoon after three hours, then return it to the freezer for 2 more hours and scrape again.  Repeat until frozen through and all of it has been scraped into fruity shaved ice.

{Since today is the 4th of July, I topped it with some vanilla yogurt and frozen blueberries to make it look a little more patriotic!}

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Honey & Lime Chicken Enchiladas {Somewhat Simple}

This is one of those amazing recipes that's inexpensive, easy to make, and it's delicious enough to make for company.  In other words, this is magic.  I posted this recipe on Somewhat Simple last month, so it's time to put it up here!  This is one of those recipes that people make and then I hear about how good it was months and years later.  Because that's how much they love it. 
chicken enchiladas
We like the uncooked tortillas (which I buy in bulk at Costco).  In fact, my kids don't like precooked tortillas.  And I don't blame them, these are the best!  The sauce goes together in a snap and makes tender, moist chicken.  It only takes a couple of minutes to get the chicken going...I love fast and easy!!
Chicken Enchilada Collage 1
Once the chicken is cooked, these go together in just a few minutes.  If you are short on time, you can even do this ahead and save it in the fridge.  (I LOVE meals that can be made ahead of time, since I am no longer master of my schedule.  Just one of those things about having kids!)
Chicken Enchilada Collage 2
I like my cheese melted with just a hint of brownness.  Hubby loves it when the cheese is crunchy and brown.  Make it your favorite way, both are great!
Chicken Enchiladas Collage 3

Honey & Lime Chicken Enchiladas
  • 5 Tbsp honey OR 4 Tbsp agave
  • 5 Tbsp lime juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (or 3-4 cloves garlic, minced)
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 8 flour tortillas (about 8" each)
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 12 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 15 oz green enchilada sauce
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream (or plain greek yogurt)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  1. Place chicken breasts in a slow cooker.  Combine honey, lime, garlic & chili powder and pour over chicken.  Cook on low 6 hours or on high for 3 hours.  Shred chicken when done cooking.
  2. Preheat oven to 350.
  3. Place 1/2 cup enchilada sauce in a 9x13 pan.
  4. Add about 1/4 cup chicken to each tortilla.  To make sure I don't short the last enchilada, I put all 8 tortillas down on a clean counter and divide the meat all at once, adjusting if necessary, so all are even.
  5. Sprinkle chicken with cheese (save some for the top), roll each tortilla tightly, and place in prepared pan.
  6. Add remaining enchilada sauce, milk, sour cream and cumin to remaining marinade.  Combine and pour over enchiladas.
  7. If you want your cheese browned and crispy, sprinkle remaining cheese before placing in oven.  If you want your cheese melted {but not browned} sprinkle with remaining cheese during the last 5 minutes of bake time.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
*If you have a pressure cooker, you can cook your chicken in less than 30 minutes.  Add chicken and marinade ingredients to pressure cooker and cook at high pressure for 10 minutes, then natural pressure release for 10 minutes.  Shred and start at step 2 above.
Chicken Enchiladas main

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Red, White & Blue {Whole Food} Popsicles!

I have teamed up with 109 other fabulous bloggers to bring you the Ultimate Red White & Blue Roundup!  Tons of great recipes, crafts, printables and more!  Be sure to check it out below.  If it's red, white & blue, it's probably on this list!

And if you want to see an amazing Pinterest board with even MORE red, white & blue ideas, check it! Follow The Cards We Drew's board Three Cheers for the Red White and Blue ULTIMATE Round Up of Patriotic Ideas from Top Bloggers! on Pinterest.

Now that summer is officially here (hooray!!) my kids spend a lot of time outside, which means they need a good way to cool off.  This is not only cool and delish, but it's all whole foods, so I get really excited watching them eat these!  When you want to make these popsicles, plan ahead and make them the day before so they have time to freeze.  They don't take long to put together, but you will need time to let each layer set in the freezer.   I cleaned my kitchen while the layers were setting (which is a lot like shoveling snow in a blizzard!), but if you need to leave them in the freezer longer between layers, you can!

Red, White & Blue {Whole Food!} Popsicles


For the Red:
1 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 c pomegranate juice
juice of 1/2 lime
1 Tbsp stevia
up to 1/2 tsp lime zest, if you want it tart!

For the White:
1 cup coconut milk (I used full fat, canned)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp stevia

For the Blue:
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries, slightly thawed
juice of 1/2 lemon
zest of 1/4 lemon (or more to taste if your lemon is small)
1 1/2 tsp stevia
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp chia seeds


Combine all ingredients for the Red layer in a blender.  Blend until smooth and divide evenly into small paper or plastic cups (I used 10 Dixie cups).  Place in freezer for 30-60 minutes.

Combine all ingredients for the White layer.  Remove cups from freezer.  If the top has frozen over, pour in the white layer and then insert a popsicle stick.  Return to freezer for 30-60 minutes longer.

Combine all ingredients for the Blue layer in a blender.  Process until smooth.  Remove cups from freezer.  If the top has frozen over, pour in the blue layer.  Return to freezer until frozen through.  Overnight is best.

When ready to eat, remove from freezer and discard cup (run under hot water for a second or two if you can't remove it from the cup).  Enjoy your whole food, cool, healthy treat!

*I put a layer of plastic wrap over my cups to help the popsicle sticks stand up straight while the first layer froze.  

*There are TONS of options for add-ins.  Banana "ice cream" (or yogurt, depending on your food goals) would be great in the white layer.  Add some spinach to the blue layer.  Use raspberries in the red.  The possibilities are endless!  

Friday, June 6, 2014

Cinnamon Sugar

When we make cinnamon sugar we usually just eyeball it...throw some of each in, shake it up, and see how it tastes.  But since it usually takes a few tries to get it just right, it was time to simplify life and figure out the ratio!  We sprinkle it on regular toast and french toast (put it on while it's cooking, before the flip! Best french toast.)

{Disclaimer:  We try to eat mostly real food, as unprocessed and whole as we can.  But since I'm also a big believer in moderation, I think it's okay to have treats sometimes.  Cinnamon toast is a treat, so we don't eat it all the time.  And making it at home is always better than buying it!  Less expensive and no extra chemicals.}

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  1. Add sugar and cinnamon to a small bowl and combine well.  Pour into a small jar with a sprinkling lid.  Enjoy!

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