Pumpkin Bread (GF, TN/PN, Egg Free)

Are you looking for a recipe to use up that extra pumpkin puree from yesterday’s homemade Pumpkin spice lattes?

Pumpkin chocolate chip banana bread is the answer.

Super quick post because it’s Sunday Funday! If you’re looking for GF Gluten Free, King Arthur Flour makes their GF flour in a “Top 8 Allergy Free” facility, and are VERY good at keeping things properly labeled! Their website is helpful for those with allergy / food restrictions.

If you don’t have cinnamon, just double up the pumpkin pie spice. And vice versa. 

Happy Sunday


Halloween for All!

The teal pumpkin project has grown so much over the past few years and this year I was SO happy to see retailers participating, too! Walmart, Target, Michaels all have teal pumpkin and products to support Halloween for All! 

lLast year we painted a wooden pumpkin teal, and it rained a lot, which gave us a teal porch (Crayola washable paint wasn’t a good choice).

This year’s teal pumpkin is from Michael’s. My only beef with it is that it’s SO light, it blows off my porch daily and I’m always running after my teal pumpkin. We will leave it inside until Halloween.

The banner is from Amazon.com. it shipped a month faster than it stated, and I was OK with that! It ships from China, so I totally understand the longer shipping time. It was only $3.99. 

We are ready for Trick-or-treating….are you? Make sure all your trick or treaters feel included this year. Remember 6% of all school aged kids have a known food allergy. That’s about 1 child in every classroom. It may not seem like much, but being included means the WORLD to them. Trick or treating is sad for those with Allergies because they go along collecting things they will never eat. With the exception of maybe two or three houses that participate in Teal Pumpkin. 

Thanks for your love and support and including teal pumpkin treats to make Halloween for All!

Hugs xoxo


Halloween Cake Decor

When it comes to holidays and baked treats, there are no clear cut rules for name brands. Research is crucial during this time of year and it’s when my Kitchen Aid mixer gets a real workout. 

First up, Halloween! To avoid the use of Epi-Pen at school, I ALWAYS bring my own baked goods. And enough to share. I try very hard to make these items look like the other cool items available at classroom parties so nobody feels left out. 

This year, I found these adorable ghosts that are made in a facility that DO NOT contain our allergies, pn + tn. 

Wilton brand is notoriously NOT safe for us. They make LOTS of cake toppings and treats. They also make those cute little Gingerbread Houses at Christmas time, also not safe. However, every once and a while, I run across a safe item. These ghosts are safe. I thought I got lucky with the type of decorations I was buying, so I also grabbed the witch decoration next to the ghosts. After a few minutes I was ready to check out and decided to review my labels ONE more time. The witch topping ended up NOT being safe, even though it looked EXACTLY like the cute ghosts. See how you have to check EVERY label?! 

I can’t wait to make cupcakes with my daughter and top them with some buttercream frosting and these adorable ghosts for school!

Have a great weekend! Thanks for stopping by. We just finished planting our mum’s and picking Halloween costumes. What is your favorite fall activity?!

Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

Weeknight Meatballs & Marinara

Tarek and Christina are common names in our household. I am addicted to everything HGTV, mostly because all other news is too stressful and/or ridiculous to watch / listen to. So if you’re a T&C fan as much as I am, the thought of the title “Flip or Flop” may be worth a ponder. Think about it…..they never show a “Flop” – at least I’ve never seen one. Have you? Leave me a comment if you’ve seen one.

Where am I going with this?

I decided to show you a “flop” of mine. If you follow me on Instagram (check lower-right on the homepage) you saw my genius idea of slow cooker meatballs.

In theory, this is a splendid idea! However, there are a few points that I must make here if you love your meatballs a certain way……

First, these are first world issues. Just putting that out there.

And now, I’ve had too much time to think about meatballs, here are my thoughts.

  1. Slow cooking meatballs doesn’t allow them to get crunchy bits on the outside like pan frying or baking does.
  2. Slow cooking meatballs makes very mushy meatballs, more like meat sauce if you cook them as long as I did (as per the recipe).
  3. Slow cooking meatballs is the worst way to actually make a meatball.
  4. If you’re wanting to slow cook a meatball, the best kinds to slow cook are pre-cooked (packaged) or pre-made (by you, under the broiler for 3 minutes to create a nice outter edge so they don’t fall apart)
  5. You must have more sauce than you’d think to cover all the meatballs. This was about 2 full quart size jars. I like Classico + Barilla.

Here’s the recipe. I am going to try it again, but using a different technique, like omitting raw onion. Onions have a TON of water in them and when you bake/slow cook onion, it adds moisture to your recipe that can significantly change what you’re making….I’ve done this before with meatloaf.

So here’s a pretty picture to look at.  Way too much onion right?! I was trying to recycle left over chopped onion from the weekend. Fail. Also, not enough sauce, right. Supposed to cover all the meatballs.


Crock pot Meatballs


  • 1.5# organic, grassfed ground beef (Metcalfes had WI organic beef on sale yesterday for $4.99/lb, that’s 50% off)
  • 1.5 cups Italian bread crumbs (if you don’t have bread crumbs, use bread or saltine crackers, put them in your nutribullet or food processor with some salt, pepper, Italian seasonings….it’s the same thing)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, or not fresh, whatever.
  • 2 cloves minced fresh garlic, or 2 tbsp powder
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (this is where I would prefer to use onion powder)
  • 1 egg beaten
  • You can make your own sauce, or buy 2 jars
  • 1# spaghetti or favorite pasta shape


  1. Prepare your crock pot with non-stick spray
  2. Combine all ingredients in large bowl (except sauce and pasta) to make meatballs, approx 12-16 depending on size.
  3. Put all of the spaghetti sauce into crock pot, place meatballs into sauce. Sauce should cover the meatballs.
  4. Cook on low for 6-8 hours

TIPS: If you have time, bake in your oven in pyrex at 400* for 15 minutes BEFORE putting them into the slow cooker.

If you’re looking for nut-free, most pre-packaged meatballs are nut-free. The ONLY ingredient to pay attention to would be the breadcrumbs / bread source. MOST breads are NOT safe, so if you make your own breadcrumbs, make sure your bread is safe. WE use Country Hearth from Sun Prairie, WI. Angelic is also guaranteed nut-free. Progresso bread crumbs are also nut-free, and that’s what I used in this recipe.

This meatball recipe is pretty plain. If you want to spice things up, I suggest another recipe for more flavor. But if it’s a weeknight and you’re looking for fast and easy, this will do. This will do.

Here’s Anne Burrell’s meatball recipe with homemade marinara sauce. I love her cooking, however, I hate how much salt she adds to her recipes. Just adjust your salt levels accordingly.

Anne Burrell Meatballs

Happy Wednesday and thanks for stopping by. The countdown to Modern Family is ON!

P.S. If you have extra meatballs, make meatball subs with a fresh sub roll and slice of mozzarella  cheese.



Snack Dinner in 10

Back to school week hustle is real. I spent 7:30am – 1:30pm in my car driving two kids around to their school functions and activities. By 2pm, I’m the one that felt like nap time. Errr. Wrong. Afternoon activities and clean up from the morning to do! Not to mention my expanding email inbox and the 2,000 photos my phone is yelling at me about. Still, I’m trying to be in the moment. It’s so hard when there are a million things pulling us in different directions. 

Be. In. The. Moment.

Tonight we have a parent welcome night at school, no kids. So we have a babysitter. Our garden exploded this week, so I made this “Snack Dinner” for the kids, easy and healthy.

(Also, my 20 year old oven numbers have rubbed off the oven and a babysitter doesn’t know where my 425° is to make an easy pizza…..always something!!!!!! And my dishwasher is broken. Do you know how awesome it’s been hand washing?????)

Essentially, a veggie tray, pita, and hummus. My secret for warming up the pita fast is slicing it in half, and putting it in the toaster. 

We prepped this meal in 10 minutes and I had the kids help do the watermelon balls. For desert. Of course.

#tgit I can’t wait to unwind with my bestie this weekend in the 414.

Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

White Cheddar & Bacon Risotto


It’s the night before the first day of school and our house is all a buzz. The kids have been busy getting their outfits ready, shoes out, backpacks packed (although pretty empty since we did the ship-directly-to-my-school-awesomeness this year). Exciting day in our household. Last minute haircuts, too! (Did you notice the Ninja Turtle jammies in the photo above? That was a last minute Amazon Prime purchase since poor buddy didn’t have any that fit :))

For dinner tonight, I wanted something cozy since the nights have been getting cooler. Something I gladly welcome. I love this time of year. Football, chai tea lattes, light jackets, snuggly sweatshirts, mums, pops of color from brightly changing leaves, new school, new conversation, new friends, and comforting food. Essentially, a new chapter.

As I was flipping though this months Cooking Light Magazine for meal inspiration, I found this recipe and immediately I had to make it.


If you’re stressed, make this recipe. If you’re not stressed, make this recipe.

Risotto requires lots of stirring, and the bonus, it’s made WITH wine, so you have to sample along the way, of course!?

We had clean plate club all around. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. It was DELISH. Probably my favorite recipe for all of 2017 so far….and that says a lot!

If you can, pick up this month’s Cooking Light Magazine, its worth it. Many excellent quick recipes.

White Cheddar and Bacon Risotto

  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 bacon slices
  • 1 1/4 cups diced onion
  • 1 cup Arborio rice (make sure you check your manufacturing facility, not all rice is safe)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine ( used old stand by Kim Crawford)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 ounces white cheddar cheese,shredded (3/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions


  1. Bring stock and thyme sprigs to a simmer in a saucepan over medium; keep warm over low.
  2. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven (or large kettle or big frying pan with high sides) over medium for 4 minutes or until crisp. Remove from pan; crumble. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes. Add rice; cook 1 minute, stirring to coat. Add wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently. Stir in 1 1/2 cups stock; cook 4 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring frequently. Add 2 1/4 cups stock, 3/4 cup at a time, stirring frequently until each portion is absorbed before adding more. Reserve remaining 1/4 cup stock; discard thyme sprigs. Stir in salt and pepper.
  3. Stir in peas, chopped thyme, and cheese; cook 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat; stir in reserved 1/4 cup stock. Divide rice mixture among 4 bowls; top with green onions and bacon.