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Vanilla Chocolate Chip Yogurt Pops

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These quick and easy Vanilla Chocolate Chips Yogurt Pops are a yummy frozen treat!

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I call these popsicles. It’s a frozen treat on a stick, what else would it be called? But I’m told by my husband that these are NOT popsicles. Apparently “popsicle” is a technical term that involves fruit juice and sugar. Oh, my mistake. So I called this recipe Vanilla Chocolate Chip Yogurt Pops. Hopefully that gets the message across without offending any die hard popsicle fans.

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I’m not going to go on and on telling you that these yogurt pops are healthy. It’s vanilla yogurt and chocolate chips – there is plenty of sugar and processed foods in there. It’s better than eating a store bought equivalent, and certainly a better choice than grabbing a bowl of ice cream for your frozen dessert. I find these just as satisfying as other less healthy desserts. Crunchy chocolate chips, frozen yogurt, lots of vanilla flavor. Sub this in for a bowl of chocolate chip ice cream and you will not be disappointed!

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These are so, so easy to make. Whip them together in just a couple of minutes or make them with your kids. They’ll love stirring in the chocolate chips! Fill your popsicles molds with the yogurt mix, and then put in the freezer. A few hours later your popsicles will be ready to eat. In the meantime, grab a spoon and eat any leftover yogurt/chocolate chips!

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Vanilla Chocolate Chip Yogurt Pops

This ratio of yogurt to chocolate chips make 4 yogurt pops using the molds I have. If you happen to have extra mixture, just eat it with a spoon or store it in the refrigerator like you would any yogurt product. If you run out of mixture, just whip up another batch!
 
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 c vanilla yogurt (I prefer regular yogurt over greek yogurt here)
  • 4 Tbs chocolate chips
Directions
  1. In a bowl, stir the yogurt and chocolate chips.
  2. Spoon mixture into popsicle molds, leaving about half an inch of empty space at the top of the mold (since freezing will make the popsicles expand).
  3. Put the popsicles in the freezer for a minimum of 3 hours, or until ready to eat.
  4. To remove popsicles from the container, run it under hot water until the popsicles loosen.

 

This post is linked to Gluten Free Wednesdays – a great place to see and find GF recipes. Check it out at Gluten Free Homemaker, Gluten Free Easily, and Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures.

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Banana Chocolate Chip Smoothie

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I’ve wholeheartedly given into the smoothie trend. I have a general policy to not “drink my calories”, but smoothies have become an exception. They taste good and fill me up. A smoothie can be a meal on the go or quick snack. With a blender and a few ingredients it’s easy to whip up a healthy smoothie!

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This is my current favorite smoothie. I make it if I happen to be craving something sweet or just need something nutritious in the middle of a busy day.  A few months from now I’ll probably have a new favorite smoothie, but for now this one is my smoothie obsession.

Banana and chocolate is loved combination, and this smoothie is a healthy way to fill that sweet craving. Just 15 chocolate chips will add a touch of chocolate flavor, and only about 35 calories to the drink. Much more wholesome than grabbing a candy bar!

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I’ve found that this smoothie, and any with banana, taste best when the bananas are ripe and frozen. Overly ripe bananas (you know those ones with all the brown spots that you can get on clearance at the grocery store) are sweeter than a perfect yellow banana. Since the banana provides most of the sweetness for the smoothie, the riper the banana the sweeter the smoothie you will have.

Using a frozen banana is just a personal preference for me. Of course, you can use a banana at room temperature + ice to make a smoothie, but I like the result from using a frozen banana better. The smoothie is, well, smoother! It’s still thick, but there are no little ice chunks that water down the flavor.

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I always keep ripe, frozen bananas on hand, ready for smoothies. Whenever I buy bananas I purchase a few extra. When they get brown spots I peel, slice in half, and store in a ziploc bag in the freezer. It’s much easier to choose a healthy smoothie over a cookie or candy when the ingredients are on hand and ready to use!

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 Banana Chocolate Chip Smoothie

 
Ingredients (makes 1 smoothie)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 c milk of choice (I use unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (alternatively, you can skip the vanilla extract and use vanilla flavored almond/soy milk)
  • 2 Tbs plain greek yogurt
  • 15 chocolate chips
Directions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.

BBQ Chex Mix

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A few months ago I made an awesome find at the grocery store. Clearance, gluten free, corn chex cereal. It was $1 a box. Awesome deal! I put all of the 6 or so boxes on the grocery store shelf in my cart and when I was checking out the cashier commented on how I must eat a lot of cereal. I’m actually really not a huge fan of eating cold cereal so I’ve been putting my boxes of corn chex to use in chex mix.

The idea for this recipe came from the back of a box of Crispix from the 1990’s. My sister and I used to make it. I vividly remember us tossing a plastic bag full of chex mix across the kitchen to “make sure it was fully mixed.” I still have that back of the box cut out and hole punched in my recipe binder. I made some modifications to the recipe.

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First, I doubled the spices. Great chex mix just needs a lot of spices. In making Crispix’s recipe more flavorful I also replaced most of the oil with significantly more flavorful worchestershire sauce and liquid smoke. It’s a great trade off because it cuts out some calories, too! Finally, I baked the chex mix. The originally recipe was just mixed and served. The end result was, well, a little soggy. Tasty, yes, but a strange consistency for a snack mix.

Baked, this chex mix is identical in consistency to usual chex mix, but the flavor is a fun alternative. While you’re baking it your whole house will begin to smell like BBQ. After an hour+ of smelling a BBQ aroma, when you finally get a bite of the finished chex mix it will hit the spot. Everyone who has tried this has loved it!

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A few ingredients notes for this recipe:

First, I like to break up the pretzels into small pieces. It just absorbs the flavor better. It’s not necessary, and does take a bit of time, but I suggest doing it for maximum flavor.

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Second, I’ve tested this recipe with regular sugar and a stevia blend and both have worked great. I haven’t been able to tell the difference in flavor.

Remember to read all of the spice labels, especially the worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke to make sure they are gluten free before you start baking!

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BBQ Chex Mix

Based off a a recipe on the back of a Crispix box from the 1990’s.
 
Ingredients
  • 8 c corn chex
  • 1 1/2 c GF pretzels
  • 1 1/2 c peanuts
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbs hickory flavored liquid smoke
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 250° F.
  2. Combine chex, pretzels, and peanuts in a baking pan with high edges.
  3. In a small bowl combine the oil, worcestershire sauce, and liquid smoke. Combine remaining  dry ingredients (sugar, garlic and onion powders, dry mustard powder, cayenne pepper, salt) in another small bowl.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the baking dish and stir well, until the chex, pretzels, and peanuts are coated. Next, add the dry ingredients and stir again until the mixture has an even coating.
  5. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
  6. Serve hot or at room temperature. Store in an air tight container.

Taco Popcorn

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Taco popcorn brings together two of my all time favorite foods. Yup, tacos and popcorn.

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Freshly popped popcorn is just begging to be seasoned. Speaking as a popcorn fanatic, what really makes the popcorn so good is the flavoring on it, even if it’s just salt. Popcorn on its own is boring, but with the right flavor combination it becomes my favorite crunchy snack!

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Taco seasoning is one of my personal favorite ways to dress up plain old popcorn. Although I never use the packets of taco seasoning when I make tacos I always keep a packet or two on hand so I can make this popcorn at a moment’s notice. What can I say? Sometimes you just need the perfect snack!

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I’ve been making taco popcorn for years and years now, over the lifetime of several different popcorn poppers. Whether you use an air popper, a hot oil popper, or use the stove top method, this taco popcorn will come out great. I wouldn’t suggest using microwave popcorn as the base of this recipe – the end flavor is too rich, for my tastes at least. Since my current popcorn apparatus is a large saucepan I’ve written out the directions for that. If you have a hot air popper or hot oil popper, just pop the 1/2 c of kernals according to your popper’s directions and then hop into the recipe once the popcorn has been popped. If you’re weary of 2 T of butter there are a few options. Margarine works, and so does olive oil. A misto olive oil sprayer is a great way to moisten popcorn so seasoning sticks without adding a whole bunch of unnecessary fat to the mix.

Whatever your variation, I hope you enjoy this snack as much as I do!

Taco Popcorn 2

Taco Popcorn

See post for alternate ways to prepare the popcorn.
 
Ingredients
  • 1/2 c popcorn kernals
  • 1 Tbs vegetable oil (for popping on stove top)
  • 2 Tbs butter, melted
  • 1/2 packet taco seasoning
  • salt, optional
Directions
  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.
  2. When the oil is hot, add the popcorn kernals and cover.
  3. When the popcorn begins to pop, shake the pan back and fourth. When the popping stops for a few seconds remove the pan from the heat and carefully empty the popcorn into a bowl.
  4. Stir the melted butter into the popcorn. Sprinkle the taco seasoning over the popcorn and stir again. Season with salt before eating, if desired.

Black Bean Quesadillas with Spicy Yogurt Sauce

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These tasty quesadillas are easy to transport, very filling, and totally appetizing hot or cold. They are perfect for an on-the-go snack or lunch, and a quick vegetarian dinner option, too!

This is a really busy time of year for everyone. It seems to be parties, church events, and travel keeping me busy this year. A couple years ago I was on the road for work every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is not so simple for people on a gluten free diet to stop by the drive thru for lunch in the midst of shopping for Christmas gifts or eat your fills worth at a holiday party. There is more planning required.

I love these quesadillas for busy days. Once you’ve made the black bean mixture and the sauce it takes just a couple of minutes to cook them. Since they are self contained, kind of like a tortilla sandwich, they travel so easily. You don’t need to remember to bring a fork with you, or even need to heat these up in the microwave. Sometimes I cook the whole batch of these all at one time and keep them on hand in the fridge for a really quick and easy meal to bring with me when I will be out all day. Other times, I make the bean mixture ahead of time and then cook 3 or 4 tortillas worth of quesadillas at a time.

Black Bean Quesadillas

Have I mentioned how filling these are? Something about black beans always fills me up really quickly – anyone else experience that? I find that feeling full is GREAT when I am at a party or somewhere else with tons of food that I cannot eat. It helps me not feel so bad about missing out on all of that great food!

The quesadillas are good on their own, but even more excellent with this spicy dipping sauce. As a former Taco Bell employee I am very familiar with the different sauce. The Baja sauce is my favorite, but their quesadilla sauce is a close second. When I stumbled upon this recipe on Pinterest I knew I had to try it. I made a few modifications (mainly swapping out the sour cream for greek yogurt), and ended up with a healthier version of that yummy Taco Bell Quesadilla sauce. Yum!

Next time you need to bring a meal with you give this a try! A few of these quesadillas packed up with a dollop of this spicy sauce will keep you full and satisfied!

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P.S. My eBook is now available on Kindle! You can also purchase it for $1 off the Kindle price here. Check it out for your holiday baking!

Black Bean Quesadilla with Spicy Yogurt Sauce

Ingredients (makes 12 quesadillas and 1/2 c of sauce)

 

For the Spicy Yogurt Sauce

  • 1/2 c plain greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbs jalapeno, roughly chopped (more or less, to taste)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 4 shakes cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the Quesadillas

  • 15.5 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small onions, finely chopped (about 1/2 c)
  • 1/3 c cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbs lime juice
  • 1/2 c shredded mexican cheese blend
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • cooking spray
  • salt
 
  1. In a blender or food processor combine all of the sauce ingredients and mix until smooth and well combined.
  2. In a medium sized bowl mix the first eight quesadilla ingredients.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium heat. When it is warm, spray with cooking spray and place a tortilla flat in the pan. Spray the tortillas with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Flip the tortillas over using a spatula. Scoop about two tablespoons of the bean mixture onto on half of the tortilla. The amount of mixture you use for each tortilla may be more or less, depending on how large your tortillas are. Using the spatula, fold the tortilla in half over top of the bean mixture and preww the top down with a spatula.
  4. Let the quesadilla cook for a minute or two, until the bottom is brown (just light the edge up a little bit with a spatula to check), then flip and let the other side brown.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 with the remaining tortillas.
  6. Serve with the spicy yogurt sauce.

Best Ever Kettle Corn

Everyone who has ever eaten this kettle corn tells me that it is literally the best kettle corn they have ever had. Apparently it’s a cross between kettle corn and caramel corn, which together is somehow better than either one is on its own. I, however, cannot vouch for this because I have never even eaten one single piece of this kettle corn.

Is that horrible? Here I am telling you this is the best popcorn ever when I’ve never actually eaten it. Really, I’m just not a big enough sweet tooth to even want to try many dessert-y things. Sure, I like cookies and ice cream, but all of my favorite desserts have one commonality: chocolate. And even with chocolate in the mix I’d pick something savory over something sweet the majority of the time. So, how did I end up with best kettle corn recipe ever? Well, let me explain. . .

I love popcorn. Like, I could eat popcorn everyday. I did eat popcorn everyday until I got married and moved and forgot to bring my hot air popcorn popper with me. I tried a few microwave methods but nothing really worked. When I got my popcorn popper back I was happily eating popcorn again with only one problem: Steve apparently hates popcorn. It seemed impossible to me, but he said it was tasteless and horrible. Apparently, the only kind of popcorn he wants to eat is kettle corn. Considering my affinity for popcorn, you’d think that I would like kettle corn, but I don’t. Taco popcorn? Sriracha popcorn? Lemon Pepper & Dill popcorn? I’ve got you covered! But kettle corn . . . no way. I knew nothing about that sweet abomination of my favorite snack.

I tried to be a loving wife and make kettle corn for Steve anyway. It consisted of air popped popcorn, sprayed with olive oil and sprinkled with granulated sugar. Apparently, that’s not the real thing. But who was I to know that?

Fast forward a few months. In the middle of a batch of popcorn the motor of my hot air popper literally died. Oh, I was bummed. I tried microwave popcorn again, but I still wasn’t happy with it. Then, we decided to try stove top popcorn. I remembered making it as a child, in an old pan we’d gotten from a garage sale because my parents said the popcorn would ruin a good pan. I was nervous to ruin a pot, but Steve encouraged me. Sure enough, not only did the pot survive the popcorn making process, but the popcorn was SERIOUSLY DELICIOUS! I was hooked on stove-top popcorn, and decided to give kettle corn another try. For Steve, that is, because I surely wasn’t going to eat that disgusting sugary gross-ness. I did some research and learned about kettle corn making. Apparently it was a success, because Steve really liked it. He was bragging to all sorts of people about this kettle corn.

One day, a friend of his was over for grilled pizza, and go figure Steve was bragging about the kettle corn. I went to make some for the two of them, but my large popcorn serving bowl had just been hand washed and was sitting on the kitchen counter drying. I figured a few water droplets wouldn’t hurt anything, and prepared the popcorn in the bowl anyway. That water didn’t hurt the popcorn – it apparently made it better. I’ve since started added a bit of water to my kettle corn mix (rather than washing and half-drying a bowl each time I make kettle corn), and its still quite a success. Everyone who has eaten this has raved about it. I’m not making this up. I try to tell people it’s gross and to eat the salty popcorn instead, but everyone likes the kettle corn anyway! I don’t get it.

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As you can see, the kettle corn sticks together a bit, which apparently adds to its appeal.

That’s the end of my kettle corn story. I guess if you’re into kettle corn or sweets this might sound appealing to you, and if that’s the case I hope that you enjoy this variation very much! If not, then I suggest stove top popcorn with salt (and if you want to know how to make that let me know)!

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Best Ever Kettle Corn

 
Ingredients
  • 1/4c popcorn kernels
  • 2 Tbs canola oil (I’ve used olive oil, too)
  • 2 1/2 Tbs sugar
  • 1/2 Tbs water
  • salt
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan until it is very hot. You should be able to feel the heat coming up from pan and see the oil rippling (I do this with my stove on a 7 out of 10).
  2. While oil is heating, measure out the rest of your ingredients. You can combine the sugar and popcorn kernels if you want to conserve space/dishes, but keep the water separate!
  3. When the oil is hot, dump the popcorn and sugar into the pan and stir, quickly. The sugar and oil should combine to look like road slush (if you’re not familiar with snowy driving conditions then just ignore that). Cover.
  4. Now, pour in the water and cover IMMEDIATELY. The second the water hits the pan hot oil will go flying. I just lift the lid up a tiny bit, pour int he water, and shut  it right away.
  5. Now, shake the pan. You can lift it off the burner to shake or slide it back and fourth, still touching the burner. Just make sure to keep the popcorn. It may take a minute or two to start popping, or it may start popping right away (this will have to do with how fresh the popcorn is).
  6. When the popping has slowed transfer the popcorn into a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and stir.
  7. Let the kettle corn cool for a couple of minutes and then eat!
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