Pizza Buns

I love these.  One thing I have been really focusing on this past school year is cutting out as many processed foods in our house as I can.  I found this recipe, and I knew I needed to try it.  One, it looked like something I could hide some veggies in.  Two, they claim they freeze great. (My kids ate SO many this first go around that I didn’t have any to freeze – that good people.)  Three, they looked easy enough.  I went with the original recipe this first time just to make sure my kiddos liked them.  Next up, pureed veggies in the sauce!


  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (105-115)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3-4 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour

In a bowl, combine the water, sugar, and yeast.  Let stand for about 10 minutes.

Add salt and stir.  Add half your flour and mix well.  Gradually add more flour until the dough pulls away from the edges of the bowl when mixing and it isn’t sticky.  Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, voce, and let rise for 45 minutes or until double in size.  Remove dough from bowl.  Separate into three equal parts.

Prepare your pizza ingredients.  This time around I just used bacon and cheese.  I will be creative the next time!

Take one portion of the dough and roll out on a lightly greased surface.  Roll into a long skinny rectangle.  Once rolled, spread pizza sauce over the dough leaving the very edge of one of the long sides free so it will seal when rolled up.  Layer meat, cheese, and other toppings.  Begin rolling up starting at the long side where the sauce is to the edge.  Pinch edges to seal.  Now slice off equal sized rolls.

Place rolls in a greased baking dish.  Cover and allow buns to rise 30 minutes.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Pureed veggies are definitely being mixed with my pizza sauce next time.  The kids won’t notice at all!  My kids love cold pizza so I could see these in their lunches next school year!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

I saw this pin for healthier chocolate zucchini brownies on Pinterest yesterday, and because I had a zucchini at the house and no specific plans for it, I decided to give them a try!

They turned out really good, but I’d definitely say that they’re cake more than brownies. And here’s the crazy thing: my kids have eaten this 2 nights in a row for dessert, raved like crazy about how delicious it was, and they still had NO idea there was zucchini in this until I told them. They actually love zucchini bread/muffins, but I didn’t tell them because I wanted an honest reaction to how they felt about it. (Sidenote: my not-picky, but doesn’t-really-love-desserts husband wasn’t a big fan, but he literally had one little nibble…I think with toppings he’d be won over.)

Here’s my variation on it, minus the frosting (we just spread a small amount of hot fudge, pictured below, on the top of the cake slice on our own plates).

1 C applesauce
1 C sugar
2 C flour (I followed the recommendation, doing 1 C white all purpose and 1 C wheat)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 C shredded zucchini (I didn’t measure – I just used a fine cheese grater like this to shred a large zucchini) – blot a bit of moisture off the top, but don’t squeeze it dry.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 9×13 baking pan (glass).
In large bowl, mix applesauce, sugar, and vanilla together. In separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, cocoa, baking soda, and stir until well mixed. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture (the batter will be thick!), then fold in zucchini (the moisture from the zucchini really softens up the batter).
Spread evenly onto greased pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes. 
Top with a little chocolate syrup (Midnight Moo from Trader Jo’s), hot fudge (ours is from Aldi), salted caramel (again, Trader Joe’s)…whatever you have around! Frosting would be good, too, I just didn’t want to go to the effort or add that much fat and calories.




Zucchini Muffins

The boys love having muffins for breakfast, and I don’t mind when I’ve made some at least moderately-healthy substitutions (plus, what’s easier than telling them to grab a couple of muffins off the counter for breakfast?).

zucchini muffins

I found this recipe and modified it to make it a little less sugary. Also, I doubled it, because if I’m going to the trouble of making muffins, I need more than 12, and these freeze just fine.

Couple of tips:
1. if your kids will balk at the sight of the green of the skin, you can peel the zucchini first.  Mine don’t care, and it’s much less work for me, so I just leave it on.
2. I realize zucchini isn’t exactly in season right now. Aldi’s has them in 3-packs of good-sized zucchini (each yields about 2 shredded cups) for crazy cheap…last week, it was $1.59. I shredded all 3, and then froze 4 1-cup servings.

Here’s the recipe!

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 lightly beaten eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil (you can use vegetable, too…I prefer coconut. If you use coconut oil, make sure it’s in liquid form – microwave a few seconds to melt it down if needed)
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup skim milk with 2 tsp. white vinegar or lemon juice (let sit for 5 minutes)
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cup finely shredded zucchini
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (more if you’d like)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin pan or line with 24 paper liners.

In large mixing bowl, stir together flours, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.

In separate bowl, lightly beat egg and add to it the oil (or oil and applesauce), milk and vinegar or lemon juice mixture and vanilla. Pour into dry ingredients and combine thoroughly.

Fold in shredded zucchini and chocolate chips. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.

Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

(about 160 calories/muffin for those of you counting)

Mini Lasagna Cups

When I spied these floating around Pinterest, I knew I had to try them!

Original here (lots o’ great recipes on this site!). I made a few small changes, noted here in the recipe.

1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb sausage
1 jar of spaghetti sauce (I like Ragu Sweet Tomato and Basil)
1/2 – 3/4 cup pureed carrots (I didn’t do this, but I will next time…it will be undetectable)
1 1/2 cups part skim ricotta cheese OR cottage cheese (next time I’m using cottage cheese)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
24 wonton wrappers
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used shredded Italian blend)
3 slices provolone cheese (optional – you can just use shredded on both layers, but I’m obsessed with provolone and always have it in the house, so I used some in the first layer)

Preheat oven to 375.

Brown the meat together in a pan and drain well. Mix in the jar of spaghetti sauce, and divide into 3 portions. Freeze 2 of the portions for dinner another night.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta or cottage cheese with the salt and pepper.

Coat a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray (I like to use a Misto with olive oil), and arrange a wonton wrapper in each cup. Take half the ricotta mixture and divide it among the 12 cups. Top with half of the meat sauce, and a 1/4 of a slice of provolone cheese. Place another wonton wrapper over the cheese, and repeat the layers by adding the remaining ricotta cheese, meat sauce, and top with shredded cheese (because I used provolone on the first layer, I only used about 3/4 cup on the top of these).

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the wonton wrappers are golden. Cool in the muffin tin for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Makes 12 mini lasagnas.

The kids each ate one; surprisingly, Bennett, our best eater, wasn’t a big fan. Jack Henry did ok, and Luke devoured his but didn’t ask for more. And we still had 4 leftover, which will make a great lunch for Matt and me tomorrow! I really liked this. Much simpler than a pan of lasagna, and just kinda different and fun. We’ll be making them again!

Mom’s Lasagna

I just realized, much to my horror, that I did not include my mom’s lasagna recipe in the cookbooks I made for my family last year!

I put this together this afternoon for our dinner tonight. It was so easy because I had the sauce frozen and thawed it yesterday…that’s my best tip for this recipe. Because making the sauce is time-consuming, it’s a good idea to double the batch, and then freeze it in portions you’ll use. I freeze it in half-recipe portions because otherwise we’d be eating lasagna for several meals, and none of us does that well with leftovers. Then, on a day like today that’s going to be crazy because of Luke’s ballgame, I have a good meal ready to go in almost no time.

Here’s the recipe for one 9×13″ pan:

1 lb ground beef (I use the leanest possible)
garlic salt
1 T parsley flakes
1/2 T basil
14.5 oz can tomatoes (I use petite diced)
6 oz can tomato paste
(you can also add in finely chopped carrots or carrot puree and no one will be the wiser)
10 oz lasagna noodles (about 12 noodles)
24 oz low-fat cottage cheese
2 beaten eggs
2 T parsley (of course, you can use fresh, too!)
1/2 c parmesan cheese
2 cups (or however much you want) mozzarella cheese – the original recipe calls for a pound of cheese, but I’ve never come close to using that much

Brown the meat; drain. Add the next 5 ingredients. Simmer uncovered, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally (this can be a little bit messy). Cook noodles for 8 minutes, rinse in cold water. Combine cottage cheese with next 4 ingredients. Place half of the noodles in a 13×9 pan, spread half the cottage cheese mixture and a cup of cheese over the top. Add half of the meat mixture. Repeat layers. Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes.

Corn Bread Deep Dish Pizza

Kelli sent this recipe to me, and I made it last night for dinner. Very rarely does something get eaten without a “how many bites do I have to have?” from Luke or Bennett, and they both gobbled up large portions! Matt and I loved it, too, and I’m honestly not dreading the leftovers for tonight’s dinner (I generally don’t like leftovers).

I’ll post it how I made it, since I made a few small changes.

1 (8 1/2-ounce) box Jiffy brand corn-muffin mix (I used Betty Crocker and it worked fine)
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I didn’t use b/c I didn’t have any onion)
1 large onion, chopped (omitted)
1 garlic clove, chopped (I used a Dorot frozen garlic cube)
1 (26-ounce) jar of your favorite pasta sauce (Ragu Traditional for us!)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound sausage of your choice, cooked and crumbled or sliced
1/2 pound Monterey Jack, shredded (I used Colby Jack, but mozzarella or any Italian blend would be fine too)
I added:
1/2 cup carrot puree
several large, sliced mushrooms to half of the casserole

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9×13″ baking dish. Prepare the muffin mix using the egg and 1/2 cup of milk. (Note: this amount of milk is different from what’s called for in the package directions.) Add the Parmesan, then spread the batter evenly across the bottom of the pan.

Heat the oil in a large skillet, then sauté the onion and garlic until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the pasta sauce, (pureed carrot), oregano, and salt and pepper. Cook the sauce until it thickens, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Arrange half of the cooked sausage (or sausage and mushrooms) on the cornmeal batter. Pour the sauce over the batter, spreading it evenly, then layer on the remaining sausage. Bake for 15 minutes, then top the mixture with cheese and bake until the cheese is bubbling, about 10 minutes. Cut into slices and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Jalapeno Hummus

Matt and I were fortunate enough to attend the Illini/Mizzou basketball game on December 23rd…actually, it was unfortunate because Illinois was AWFUL and we lost. BUT: Matt and I sat in a suite and I ate my weight in crostini and roasted red pepper hummus. Which made it all okay.

When the Christmas festivities settled down, I had to find a suitable recipe, and decided to go with a Jalapeno version for my first try. This is great as a dip for vegetables or chips or pretzels of any kind, a spread for sandwiches, or spread on a bit of crostini or any crusty bakery bread. It is spicy, though! But it’s healthy and relatively low in fat, so a great alternative to dairy-based dips. I’ll post more hummus recipes as we try and like them!

I did buy some really good Roasted Red Pepper from Trader Joe’s and had the kids try it, and none of them liked it (Jack Henry wouldn’t even touch it, which is no surprise). However, I will try again with milder flavors because I think there’s a chance this could work!

1 cup garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas)
3 Tbl tahini
2 Tbl lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/3 cup canned/jarred jalapenos plus a little juice (NOTE: I would recommend starting out with about a 1/4 cup and adding more if you want it spicier…it’s pretty hot)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
crushed red pepper flakes to taste
salt to taste

Put everything in your blender or food processor and blend until smooth. You might need a few drops of water or some of the juice from the jalapenos (if you want it hotter) to make it smooth enough.

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