Avocado Penne Pesto

Dear Guacamole,
We've had a lot of good times together, too many to count. Although I love you dearly, I feel that it's time we start seeing other people. It's not you, it's me. I'll miss you on Cinco de Mayo. I'll be in Italy.

We decided to help Avocado out and try it Italian style as a pesto sauce. There were rave reviews all around! Gourmet Dad liked it better than traditional pesto! The avocado brings a creaminess and delicious flavor to the sauce and also adds almost 20 extra nutrients. Bravo!

Avocado Penne Pesto with Grilled Chicken
1 medium ripe avocado
3/4 c. firmly packed basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
3 Tbsp. pine nuts
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
12 oz. penne pasta
1/4 c. shaved parmesan cheese (for garish)
1 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts
Salt & Pepper, to taste (for chicken)

Cook and drain pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, season chicken with salt and pepper and place on a grill (or grill pan) over medium-high heat for 6 minutes on each side, until center is no longer pink. You can add other spices if you want, but don't over-season your chicken, we want the avocado to shine! Peel avocado and remove pit. Put avocado, basil, salt, pepper, garlic and pine nuts in a blender or food processor. Turn blender on and add olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Process until mixture becomes a smooth paste. Gently fold in parmesan cheese. Toss with cooked pasta. Slice grilled chicken breasts and lay across top of pasta. Garnish with shaved parmesan cheese and serve.
I created this recipe for the Adaptable Avocado Recipe Challenge. You can go here to join in on the fun!


Avocado & Peach Coladas

I'm a major guacomole fan but did you know that avocados are incredibly adaptable? We whipped up these amazingly delicious avocado coladas this week and they were a huge hit at our house! It all started when I got this gorgeous basket from Avocados from Mexico. Thank you, it was so lovely!! You can join in on the fun, too! Simply create your own "Adaptable Avocado" recipe for a chance to win $3,000! Go here for details.Did you know that avocados are FABULOUS in smoothies? My kids aren't big fans of the taste of avocados but in smoothies they take on the flavor of the other ingredients. Plus, they made our drinks a lovely green (they call them "Shrek" smoothies!:))

So, why avocados? Avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid! They also act as a "nutrient booster" by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients in foods that are eaten with the fruit. Some people shy away from them because they contain fat but it's actually monounsaturated fat--the good kind that supports healthy brain function. They're great for everyone in the family!

Avocado & Peach Coladas
Serves 4
1 medium avocado
1 1/2 C. frozen peaches
6 oz. coconut milk
1 medium banana
1/2 C. water
3 T. sugar (to taste)
Whipped cream and cherries (optional, to garnish)
Place all ingredients except sugar in blender and process 2 minutes until well blended. Add sugar, to taste. Pour in glasses, garnish with whipped cream, cherries, little umbrellas, pineapple, whatever you want! Enjoy!

Disclosure: I was given the avocado basket to help get the word out about the benefits of avocados in families' diets. I was not compensated in any way for this post.

Necklace Winners & Mothers Day Special

We have winners for adorable Muffin Tin Baking Necklace!
Congrats to:
noreen who said...
"I thought of the candy nerds and eating them in it, not sure why but it was my 1st thought"
Zion And Missy who said...
"Hi. went to my tj maxx today in hopes that your jacket would be there, but knowing it would not. it was not. so sad." (don't be sad, at least you got the necklace!:))

Send me an email with your address within 3 days and we'll get your prize out to you!

If any of you were really wanting a necklace, drop the hint to your hubby for Mothers Day!
If you order by May 3, I'll be able to ship it in time. Also, until May 3 if you order any 2 necklaces, you can pick any item in my shop for free. Just type in what you want in the comments box at checkout. I'll also send a few extra surprises, it's Mothers Day, after all!:)


Fred & Ginger Cupcakes

15 years ago yesterday, Ginger Rogers passed away. She was one talented lady and I love all the musicals she did with Fred Astaire! They were the perfect pair!
So, here's to you...
Fred & Ginger Cupcakes
These are a buttery candied ginger cupcake with lime icing. It's the perfect pair! But do you know what really holds this relationship together?
Noooo, it's not trust...
It's Cream Cheese! Yum.
Let's get dancing! I mean started...

Fred & Ginger Cupcakes
Cupcake Ingredients:
1 C. (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 C. white sugar
4 large eggs
3 C. flour
1 C. whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
2 tsp. baking powder
2 oz. candied ginger
zest from 2 limes

Icing Ingredients:
Juice from 3 limes
zest from 1 lime
8 oz. (1 pkg) Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1/2 C. (1 stick) butter
5 C. Powdered Sugar

Preaheat oven to 350 degrees. Finely chop the candied ginger. In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well. Add baking powder. Add one cup flour and mix. Add 1/3 cup milk and mix. Repeat with additional 2 cups flour and 2/3 c. milk, alternating between them and beating after each addition. Add lime zest and ginger. Stir to combine.Spoon into cupcake wrappers or greased muffin pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 20-24 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.

For icing, cream butter and cream cheese together in medium mixing bowl. Add lime juice and zest. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and beat until light and fluffy.

When cupcakes are cooled, spoon icing into large ziplog bag and snip off one end (or you can use a pastry bag with no tip on it). Pipe icing onto cupcake in a circular motion. Add a slice of candied lime (Martha's recipe).The finishing touch is a candied hibiscus flower. I found these at Trader Joes last week (in the dried fruit/nut section) for $1.99 per large bag. I was so excited! They add just the right touch of elegance to this graceful pairing and I think Ginger would have liked them. Enjoy!Notes: the fluted cupcake wrappers are from Fancy Flours.


Baking Necklace Giveaway

I finally opened an Etsy shop! I've threatened to for awhile but it just sounded like too much work. It all started when I wanted to make these pewter & silver necklaces for the cookoff winners' prize packs...
Once I got started, I couldn't quit, these are just too cute! Handy, too, in case elves stop by for dinner...:)
I wore mine today!
(For you fellow "cheap fashionistas" who inquired, I got the ruffled crop jacket this week at TJ Maxx for $12, tag says Last Kiss.)You know, I don't think I can wait until the end of the cookoff to share these! How about we give two away right now!
To Enter:
Let's make this easy...
-Leave me a comment with the first thing that comes to your mind (kid-friendly, please:))

You can get extra entries by
-Following this blog
-Tweet "Win an adorable Cupcake Baking Necklace for your favorite foodie! http://ow.ly/1BZz3"
-facebooking or giving a shout-out on your blog.
Leave an extra comment for each.
I'll pick two random winners on April 29th. Open to US Residents.

Want a necklace for your favorite chef?
Until May 3rd (in time for Mothers Day!), I'll send you an extra necklace for every 2 that you order. I have a few different styles of necklaces now, so just specify in the comment box which one you want. I'll also fill your box with some extra goodies.:)
Or, if you're my mom, you get all you want for free. Love you, mom!


Apple Surprise Mini Pies

When trying to eat right, no need to always skip dessert, just make it fabulous and an appropriate size. So, how about these adorable
Apple Surprise Mini Pies
The surprise? There's actually a cheesecake layer beneath the apple pie filling!
How cute would these be as end-of-the-year Teacher gifts? We used half pint jars but you could use ramekins or whatever else you want.
Apple Surprise Mini Pies
makes 12
1 3/4 C. (1 package) Graham Crackers
1/3 C. butter, melted
24 oz. (3 pkg) Philadelphia Cream Cheese
3/4 C. sweetened condensed milk
2/3 C. white sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cans apple pie filling
2 Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts
12 half pint canning jars or ramekins
Drinking glass (a little larger than your jar lids), to cut out crust
Place graham crackers in ziploc bag and crush. I think this was the kids' favorite part. Wham! Wham! Wham!
Pour melted butter into baggie with graham crackers and shake to mix well. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of graham cracker mixture into bottom of a half pint jar and carefully spread around.
For cheesecake layer, beat cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Add sugar, eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice and mix well. Place 1/3 c. of cream cheese mixture into each jar.
Fill jars to the top with apple pie filling (about 1/2 C).
Unroll pie crust. Find a drinking glass or round cookie cutter that is about 1/2" larger than your jar lid and cut out 4 circles. Re-roll remaing dough and cut out 2 more circles. Repeat with other pie crust. If desired, cut small slits or a little shape in the middle of your crust.
Place one cutout crust on each jar and pinch edges to resemble a pie crust. Finish with a light dusting of white sugar.
Place on a cookie sheet (just in case any of them leak, you don't want to clean that out of your oven!) and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes until pie crusts are browned. I came back in the kitchen to find these two little bakers waiting veeeeeery patiently for their pies to come out of the oven... Remove from oven. Tie a small ribbon around each jar, if desired, and serve. I can't wait to make these for our next sit-down dinner, they'd be adorable served to each guest for dessert!
A note: if you aren't serving these within an hour or so, you should refrigerate them. They're also fabulous right out of the fridge, we had some for breakfast.:)


I Can't Believe it's my Fridge!

Who needs a fridge makeover and $100?
Last week we took EVERYTHING out of our fridge and really cleaned it out (I won't scare you with a picture or details). I realized that a big part of healthy eating is keeping your fridge organized and stocked with good-for-you products.
So, this week, we are having a
"I Can't Believe That's my Fridge!"
Makeover Contest

sponsored by
I Can't Believe it's Not Butter!
I didn't have any help cleaning out my fridge, but I Can't Believe it's Not Butter! is going to give one of you lucky folks a $100 Grocery Gift Card, Reach Right Kit, and a disposable camera to document the transformation.

Here are some tips to get you started:
-Start with a clean-out!
-Fill it with fresh, healthy food
-Start cooking with the fresh taste of butter, the healthier way

Time's up!
We have a winner! I couldn't decide between the touching, gross, and amazing stories you sent in, so after we were done gagging, we picked a random winner...
Jenndiggy who said...
"Why do I need a fridge makeover? Okay, I've never been the best at keeping things spotless and the fridge cleaned out, but one time in college I was living with four other girls. The black sludge dripping down the side of the fridge was a bit of a hint it might be time to clean the fridge inside and out..."

I have to say that I LOVE I Can't Believe it's Not Butter! I keep the spray at all times in my fridge and it really makes the veggies disappear for my toddler. I also just started experimenting with it in baking and was pleasantly surprised! Here's a fresh and fabulous recipe for you to try this week:
Grilled Eggplant Caprese Salad from I Can't Believe it's Not Butter!
- 4 Tbsp. I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!® Mediterranean Blend spread, divided-
1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp. sugar- 2 large tomatoes, sliced
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
- 1/4 cup very thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

Microwave 3 tablespoons I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!® Mediterranean Blend spread in small microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 30 seconds or until melted. Evenly brush onto both sides of eggplant slices. Grill or broil, turning frequently, until tender; cool.

Meanwhile, bring vinegar, onion and garlic to a boil in 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Cool slightly, then stir in remaining 1 tablespoon Mediterranean Blend. Cool to room temperature.

Alternately layer eggplant, tomatoes and mozzarella on serving platter. Top with basil, then drizzle with balsamic reduction.

An update on our cooking contest--I am working with our sponsor and need a couple more weeks to get ready. But, here's a preview...
In May, we will be having a Lip Smackin' Healthy Food Cookoff where you can enter your very best grilling recipe! And the grand prize winner will get....you guessed it, a beautiful new grill! Yowza! We also have some amazing prize packs put together for the other two "runners-up" and I even snagged a celebrity chef for my judging panel! So, fire up those grills and start practicing while we fine-tune the details.
Disclosure: I Can't Believe it's Not Butter! provided the $100 Grocery Gift Card, Reach Right Kit, and a disposable camera for this contest. I was not compensated in any way for this post.


Peter Rabbit's Garden Snack

Today we had fun and easy
Peter Rabbit's
Mixed-Up Garden Snacks

and the kids loved them! The cards I made up are
here for you to print.

In case you can't download the cards, they say:
"Peter Rabbit’s seeds got all mixed up this year and now he doesn’t know what has grown in his lovely garden! Will you help him eat his yummy treats and figure out what they are? Help Peter by digging in each hole, nibbling the food, and deciding what it is. Use your taste, smell, and sight to figure out this mystery! Good luck!"

Peter Rabbit's Mixed-Up Garden
-a cupcake pan or mini-mufifn tin
-various fruits & veggies, cut into bite sized pieces
-tissue paper
-Peter Rabbit's Mixed-Up Garden cards


Fill cupcake or mini-muffin tins with various fruits and veggies. Cover with a sheet of tissue paper and tape down to secure. Two layers of tissue works best (just fold a piece in half) so no one can peek!:)Print the Peter Rabbit's Mixed-Up Garden cards, fold in half, and place with the muffin tin. Let the kids "dig" and discover what yummy treats are in the "garden"!

At the end of this week I should be posting the details on how you can enter the Lip Smackin' Healthy Food Cookoff! We have some great prizes and I can't wait to get started!


Heathy Painted Plate

Are you out of the easter egg/chocolate bunny/jelly bean coma yet?
Well, dust off those veggies because we're focusing on getting healthy for the rest of April and May!

Today, I've got a fun way to start encouraging healthier eating with your kids. Ever since I saw these plates a few months ago, I've been thinking of a way to use Porcelain pens...so,
we made up an inexpensive, microwave/dishwasher safe
Healthy Eating Plate!

I had a great conversation with Mitzi Dulan the other day about incorporating more fiber into your family's diet. We both agreed that one of the best ways to do that is to eat more whole grain and fruits/vegetables. In fact, if you try to fill your plate half full with fruits/veggies, a fourth full of whole grains, and a forth of lean protein, you are right on track!

So, the girls and I created these plates and they LOVE them! They can see for themselves how to fill their plates and they've had so much finding new ways to do it.

All you need for this project is an oven and:
- A small white salad plate (we got ours in a set at Fred Meyer for under a dollar each. You could also check your local dollar store). You could also use big plates, but this size is a little better for the kids.

-Porcelain Paint Pens. We used the Pebeo brand and they were very easy to use--no smudging or blobs of paint, two thumbs up from us! Check your local art supply store or you can order online here. They are non-toxic and will be dishwasher/microwave safe once baked.

Make sure plate is clean and dry. Draw dots around the entire edge of plate, then divide in half with dots. Divide one of your halves in half again with dots.

Label each appropriately and draw little "examples" of each section (the kids loved this part!). Let dry for 24 hours then bake in a 300 degree F oven for 25 minutes. Once baked, the plates are microwave and dishwasher safe.

Now, just for fun...To get the most out of our Porcelain Pen investment, we also made some large plates to send them to Grandma and Grandpa for Mothers/Fathers day. I think they'd also be a great end-of-the-year Teacher gift written with things the kids liked about their teacher or something they learned that year. The possibilities are endless! Have fun!


Painted Easter Potatoes

I finished 5 of my video entries for Paula Deen's Real Women of Philadelphia Cookoff! I uploaded them to YouTube and put links on the upper RH side of this page if you want to check them out. I'd love to hear your feedback, am I too over-the-top? I can't help but get excited in the kitchen. There's also still lots of time for you to join in on the fun! Go here to participate, get great recipe ideas, or just cheer everyone on.
Are you tired of hard-boiled eggs yet? They're so fun to make but this Easter we decided to paint....roasted potatoes!This is a great activity to keep the kids busy while you make Easter Dinner. Plus, they're making their own side dish, the "paint" is made from sour cream.:)
Painted Easter Egg Potatoes
Olive Oil or Cooking Spray
Salt & Pepper
Sour Cream
Food Coloring
Clean paint brushes

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel potatoes and cut in half lengthwise. Place on a baking sheet drizzled with olive oil or cooking spray. Sprinkle just barely with salt and pepper. Cook at 425 degrees for 25 minutes or until potatoes are done. Remove from oven and let sit until cool enough to handle.
While potatoes are roasting, mix small amounts of sour cream with various food colors. This is your "paint".Give each child a clean paintbrush and let them paint the cooled potatoes. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper if desired and eat! Happy Easter!

Holiday Playlist

My grandmother hasn't been doing well...to cheer her up, I rounded up a few of my musical friends and made an album of Holiday songs fo...