{Where to Shop Wednesday} Chobani Flip

Holy crap.  People, have you tried this stuff??  It’s like I’ve died and gone to heaven.
chobani flip

I quickly snatched up the Almond Coco Loco.  It’s coconut yogurt with toasted honey almonds and dark chocolate chips.  So flippin’ delicious (pardon the cheesy pun).  It was like dessert for breakfast and I’d like to eat one every day.

There are nine other flavors of Chobani Flip and I’d like to try all of them, starting with Tropical Escape and Nutty for ‘Nana.

My girl Jenny over at Glass of Milk loves them, too.  We’ve had a few Instagram exchanges sharing our excitement!

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Buttermilk Birthday Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

Matt’s birthday was last month, and despite the fact that life was chaotic that week, I made up for my negligence with a yummy cake a few days late.  He claims that his favorite cake is plain vanilla with store bought chocolate frosting…yes the kind from a jar.  He has a wife that makes from-scratch baked goods and that is his favorite.  There are no words.

I was prepared to set aside my pride and actually use the jarred frosting, because that is how much I love the man.  But when I asked him for his request, he said vanilla cake with one of my homemade buttercream frostings.  I almost jumped for joy.  So on one of our last snow days of the year, I whipped up this lovely cake using some recipes already on the blog.
birthday cake 1

birthday cake 2

Super delicious, and pretty to boot!  This is fast becoming my favorite vanilla cake to make.  It goes well with just about any icing and has a perfect consistency.  Also, salted caramel anything is just amazing…give me a spoon and I’m good to go.

vanilla buttermilk cake recipe found here & salted caramel buttercream recipe found here

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{Where to Shop Wednesday} Costco’s Sweet Kale Salad

Last week during a quick trip to Costco, I picked up this Taylor Farms sweet kale salad mix.
sweet kale salad

It’s a mixture of broccoli slaw, shaved brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and chicory and comes with a packet of dried cranberries, roasted pumpkin seeds and poppyseed dressing.  Super delicious and low maintenance to boot.  Pretty much the best $5 I’ve ever spent on a salad mix.  I hope they continue to carry this one for a while.

What are your favorite salad mixes?  I’m always looking for a good one to spice up my lunch routine.

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Israeli Couscous with Roasted Vegetables and Pepitas

Have you ever tasted something while you are cooking it, and you just keep eating it?  Well, that happens to me a lot.  I go in for a taste to check for right texture and seasoning, and if it’s really good, I keep coming back for more.  I ate almost an entire helping of this stuff before I could get it on a plate.  So good…and the leftovers are perfect, too.  I would like a supply of this for my lunch on a weekly basis!
roasty root vegetable couscous

you will need:
1 bunch of carrots
1 sweet potato
olive oil
Sea salt & black pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 cup Israeli (pearl) couscous
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small red onion, minced
1 cup chickpeas
4 ounces crumbly goat cheese
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds

Heat  oven to 425° F. Peel and chop the carrots and the sweet potatoes. Toss the sweet potato and carrot pieces with a few tablespoons of  olive oil, and generously with sea salt and black pepper. Roast on a baking sheet for about 30 minutes, moving the vegetables around every 10 minutes or so. They are done when blackened in spots, and cooked through.

In a small pot, bring the stock to a simmer. Meanwhile, mince the garlic. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat; when the oil is warm, add the garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds, until fragment, and then add the couscous. Toast the couscous for about 1 minute, and then add the hot stock. Put the lid on the pot, and set the timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the lid: there should only be a little liquid left in the pot. (If not, put the lid back on, and continue cooking for up to 5 minutes.) Take the lid off and cook for another couple minutes, until the liquid is dissolved. Take the pot off the heat and add a tablespoon or so of olive oil to prevent the couscous from sticking together.

While the couscous is cooking, make the dressing.  Whisk the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Pour in the oil, and whisk to emulsify.

When ready to serve, add the roasted sweet potatoes & carrots, dressing, red onion, chickpeas, goat cheese, and pumpkin seeds to the couscous.  Stir to combine and serve.

serves: 4
time: 40 minutes
from: adapted slightly from Food52

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{Where to Shop Wednesday} Plated

So I want to share something awesome with you.

You can have fabulous, fresh ingredients delivered to your door to make delicious dinners.  Plated, a New York based company, sends you fresh ingredients and step-by-step recipes for a fun and convenient cooking experience.  Everything is pre-measured and ready to go, all you need is a pan and some olive oil.  The menu changes weekly and they offer seven different dishes, with an option to please any palate. Delivering to over 80% of the continental U.S., it’s a very accessible service.  Just plug in your zip code here to check if your area is serviced!

I heard about Plated through Facebook.  They were advertising to try it for free, only paying the $20 shipping.  Amazing, right?

There was a week in February when I was totally slammed at work and it also happened to be the same week as my husband’s birthday and Valentine’s Day.  I knew I wouldn’t have the time or patience to grocery shop or spend much time in the kitchen, so I signed up for two meals to be delivered that Wednesday.  I decided to try meals that I wouldn’t usually pick myself when browsing through recipes.  I settled on Seared Tuna Chirashi (a spicy seared tuna over rice) and Sweet Chili Eggplant with Coconut Cashew Rice.
tuna chirashi

eggplant with coconut cashew rice I was totally impressed with the quality of the food, the intricate packaging and labeling, and the photos included in the step-by-step instruction card.  It made my week so much easier and I felt great to know I was coming home to everything I needed to cook a healthy meal.  When I’m swamped at work, I often get stuck in a food rut (read: greasy take out, frozen food, too many leftovers).  I’m looking forward to ordering again soon!

I can think of so many reasons this is the greatest idea…you live in the city and grocery shopping is a pain, you work constantly and never take the time to meal plan, you are a busy parent, you want to impress a date by cooking for them… I could keep going, but I’m fairly certain you get my drift.

By cooking with Plated, you help support organizations like Teach for America. They partner with companies that support healthy lifestyles, and further their waste-free mission by donating any remaining ingredients to local food banks.  They do things to make this world a better place…as if I needed another reason to think they’re awesome!

Also, it is basically my dream job to work for a company like this.  I’d love to spend my days in a test kitchen with like-minded foodies!

Have you tried Plated?  What was your experience like?  Please share!

*I did not receive any compensation for this post, I’m just sharing about something I find pretty awesome!  However, I did include a referral link so I will get credit if anyone signs up from this post.

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Strawberry-Banana-Coconut Smoothie

I now use my immersion blender to make all of my smoothies…it has sort of changed my life.  It is so much easier to get out and to clean than my big blender.  Plus, it’s the perfect size for one smoothie.  I just tossed this together last weekend to use up leftover coconut milk from dinner the night before (I used it to make cashew coconut rice…yum!) and I always have bananas and strawberries in my freezer.  I add flax seed and protein powder to my smoothies these days to make them extra filling.
smoothie 1 smoothie 2

you will need:
¾ cup coconut milk
1 banana, frozen
large handful strawberries, frozen or fresh
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
2 tablespoons protein powder (I use unflavored rice)
water for thinning

Toss all ingredients together and blend until smooth.  Add water, a little bit at a time, to adjust to your desired consistency.  Will keep in the fridge for a day or so if you have leftovers!

makes: 1 smoothie
time: 5 minutes
from: cb original

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Risotto with Butternut Squash, Leeks & Basil

Since I’ve been cutting a lot of gluten out of my diet, risotto has quickly replaced pasta in my regular dinner repertoire.  It gives me the same satisfaction, even though it is more of a time commitment.  This is one of my favorite risotto dishes yet.  The flavors are simple but very comforting and delicious.  We ate this as a main course, but would be lovely as a side dish as well.
squash, leek & basil risotto

you will need:
olive oil
3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed in ½ inch pieces
salt & pepper
1 cup leeks (white and pale green parts only), sliced in half moons
5 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1½ cups arborio rice
¾ dry white wine
3½ cups chicken broth, warm
½ cup chopped fresh basil plus a bit extra for serving
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese plus extra for serving

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Peel and chop squash.  Spread out on a baking sheet, then season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until beginning to brown and crisp.  Check after 10 minutes and toss to even the cooking.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add leeks and sauté until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes.  Add thyme and rice and stir 1 minute. Add wine, letting simmer until absorbed, about 2 minutes.  Then add broth ½ cup at a time, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding next.  This process should take about 30 minutes. *You may not need all of the broth..adjust based on your preferences of consistency and moisture level.

Once rice is finished cooking, remove from heat. Stir in basil, freshly grated cheese and season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately in bowls topped with more basil and cheese.

serves: 4
time: 60 minutes
adapted from: Bon Appétit

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{Baby Babble} Starting Solids Favorite Finds

After just about 5 months of solid food eating at this house, here are the products we couldn’t live without!
starting solids faves | Cheater Bites

1. Munchkin Bowls 5 pack $4.49 –  These are a perfect size and price point.  I’m sure there are plenty of good bowls out there, but these work for us!

2. Joovy Nook High Chair $149.99 – We love this thing.  It’s not an eyesore like so many of the high chairs on the market and it is super comfy for Connor.  He could sit in it before he could fully sit up and support himself.  He will sit in there for a solid hour snacking and playing.  It also folds up very easily, making it a cinch to cart around.  I would recommend this high chair to anyone!

3. Munchkin Silicone Spoons $4.29 – These are great now that Connor knows how to get everything off the spoon.  We also have these Nuk Soft Bite Spoons ($7.09) which were perfect for when we first started solids.

4. Nuby No-Spill Cup $3.60 – I found a two-pack of these at Marshalls and totally love them.  The handles are easy for baby to grip and the spout is big and easy for them to drink out of.  Connor loves to just chew on it and swing it around while he sits in his high chair.  Also, we use Gerber juice.

5. Bibs $8.99 for 3 – My favorite bibs (and believe me, we’ve tried several) are Carter’s Just One You 3-packs from Target.  They are durable and hold up after numerous washes and they are snap closures.  Connor rips off all of his velcro bibs in about 5 seconds, so snap bibs are a must for us.  I’m also a big fan of the Aden + Anais Burpy Bibs, but they are a little pricey.

6. Boon Pulp Silicone Feeder $7.49 – This thing is amazing.  A mom friend of mine suggested using this or the fresh food feeders with frozen fruit to help with teething (so genius!).  I like this the best because the parts all separate and clean easily and it’s very durable.  It keeps baby occupied for a while, so it’s also perfect to give them when out at a restaurant.

7. Earth’s Best Whole Grain Cereals - Loved Earth’s Best because it is carried at most stores, organic, and has a creamy texture unlike some of the other brands.

8. Plum Organics and Happy Baby -  These brands of baby food and products are fabulous.  Connor loves the pureed foods, Little Yums Teething Wafers & Happy Puffs (sweet potato is his favorite flavor).

What are your favorites, mamas?!?

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{Baby Babble} Starting Solids

So since this is a blog about food and I have a baby, I figure it’s about time I share our experience with starting solid foods with Connor!
connor collage Now, as a disclaimer, I do not claim to be an expert, and it’s always best to review things with your pediatrician.  I will just share what our experience was like.

At Connor’s 4 month check-up, our pediatrician suggested that we start introducing rice or oatmeal cereal.  He was consuming a pretty large amount of formula each day (more than 30 ounces, what a piggy!) and they wanted us to get the amount down a bit.  He had already been showing interest in what we eat and had started reaching for our food and drink.  So I did a bit of research and went out to buy Earth’s Best oatmeal cereal.  I chose to start with oatmeal because Connor wasn’t a regular pooper and rice cereal is a binder.  For some reason it didn’t agree with his belly and made him spit up quite a bit, so we went ahead with rice anyway.

After a few weeks of some belly issues, I called the office and asked some advice.  The wonderful nurses ensured me that I didn’t need to panic and that I should just start mixing the rice cereal with prunes or pears.  They also suggested that we start giving a couple ounces of juice (diluted with water) to help move his digestive system along.  Once we started adding these things to our routine, we had much less tummy trouble!

After his 6 month check-up, we introduced other foods, starting with sweet potatoes, butternut squash, peas, pears and peaches.  My boy liked just about everything we put in front of him and was a good eater from the start…he fits right into this family!  We worked up to solids two times per day by about 7 months and three times per day at around 8 months.  I have a very hungry boy on my hands.

For the next baby, I may skip cereal all together and just start with peas or sweet potatoes around 6 months.

Here’s my advice to mamas trying this for the first time:
1.  Start slow. Solid food is only meant to supplement breast milk or formula until babies are a year old.  Also, their systems are sensitive and need time to adjust to new foods.  Make sure you give their systems time to adjust to different types; we always waited 3 days.  Be aware that solids change the poop, so don’t panic!
2.  Prepare for a mess.  Food will be everywhere, just embrace it.  We introduced food in the evenings, so he could go straight to the bath afterwards.
3.  Have a camera at the ready.  You will want to snap several photos of the silly faces your baby will make for sure.  Videos are awesome as well, you’ll want documentation of the crazy noises they make while they eat.
4.  Let your baby lead the process.  If they don’t do much eating for a while and just want to play with or spit their food, that’s okay!  If they are little piggies like Connor and can’t get enough, that’s okay, too!  Whether you are buying food or making your own, just have fun with it and don’t compare your experience to anyone else’s.  Enjoy that your little one is now a part of family meal time!

I’d love to hear any advice you mamas out there have…please share!

Tomorrow I’ll share my favorite products for meal time!

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Hearty Vegetable Soup with Farro

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, this has been the winter of soup in the Cheater Bites kitchen.  Could have something to do with the fact that it’s been snowing non-stop in Pittsburgh for 3 solid months…

I recently made a big batch of vegetable broth, so I had lots of veggies in my fridge.  Then on a snowy afternoon, I just threw this together hoping for the best.  I sort of impressed myself.  Hope you like it!
hearty veggie & farro soup | Cheater Bites

you will need:
olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup carrots, chopped
4 large stalks celery, sliced
salt & pepper
crushed red pepper
8 cups vegetable broth
1 sprig fresh rosemary
5 sprigs fresh thyme (pull the leaves off of 3 and leave the other 2 whole)
1 cup farro
1 can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
1 – 15 oz. jar cannellini beans, rinsed
3 cups kale, chopped
pecorino cheese for serving

In a large soup pot, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and cook until translucent, about 7 minutes.  Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add carrots and celery, season with salt, pepper and crushed pepper.  Sauté until vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes.

Add vegetable broth and fresh herbs and increase the heat to medium-high.  If you don’t have fresh herbs available, substitute with ¼ teaspoon of dried rosemary and ½ teaspoon of dried thyme.  Bring mixture to a boil, then turn down to medium-low heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add farro, tomatoes and cannellini beans and cook for 10 minutes more.

Add the kale and cook until just wilted, about 5 minutes.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper accordingly.  Serve in large bowls topped with a handful of grated pecorino (or parmesan) cheese.

This  reheats beautifully and surprisingly, the ingredients keep their integrity…no mushy soup here!

serves: 6
time: 50 minutes
CB original

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Posted in beans/legumes, kale, soup, veggies | Tagged | Leave a comment