Oatmeal snack cake.

Healthy oatmeal snack cakeHere is a recipe for a delicious and healthy snack cake. It is a good example of snack breads and muffins that I bake on a regular basis, with the goal of making them nutritious, tasty and lower on calories. Snacks=mini meals, and for the most part I try to keep our meals healthy, and splurge on desserts.

This snack cake is originally from Ann from On Sutton Place. It is her mother’s recipe, and I am sure it is delicious as written. However, I adapted it to suit our needs, and have been making it this way since then. I hope you try it, either the original or the “snack” version! It makes great breakfast too.Oatmeal snack cake


1 c. uncooked oats (I use old fashioned)

1 1/3 c. boiling water

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. white sugar

1/3 c. butter softened

2 eggs

1 1/2 c. flour

1 t. baking soda

1 t. cinnamon

1/2 t. salt (cut in half if you use salted butter)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl pour the boiling water over the 1 c. oatmeal. Stir and let cool.

3. In a large bowl mix the sugars, butter and eggs until fluffy. Add flour, soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix well.

4. Add oat mixture and mix until combined.

Pour into 9 x 13 prepared pan.

Bake 35 – 40 min. until knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool before slicing.

This snack cake keeps well for a few days covered, at room temperature.

Healthy eating: choosing better snacks.

healthy snacks

What is your approach to snacks? We have been in the process of transitioning to more wholesome and nutritious snacks. It is not hard. It just takes a shift in the thinking.

Until about a year ago I used to rely on prepackaged snacks (granola bars, Gold Fish, Cheez-its, etc.), almost exclusively. They are easy, and they come in nice packaging. The packaging is what always got me: those bars always look so good on the wrapper. But the actual taste is never as good as I’d hope. Even “good” brands always leave the overly sweet, artificial aftertaste.  Ingredients-wise, most of them don’t come close to my definition of healthy nutrition. They are still OK for some situations but on a regular basis, there are much better options that taste infinitely better, are healthier, and cheaper.

Basically, any normal food can be snack. What can be a better snack than a piece of good bread with some cheese and an apple?  It is “back to basics”. I don’t know why it took me so long to get there (actually I do, but it would be off topic).home-made bread

Outside of the situations when I have no choice but to have something pre-packaged in the “dry feed” category, I prefer  snack options like these (most of them can be packed to-go):

- yogurt (all natural, usually Greek kind)

- granola (I make my own)

- fruit

- carrots, cucumber slices with hummus

- cheese stick/cheese slices with good crackers or bread

- apple slices with peanut butter

- home-made muffins and snack bread (low sugar and low fat version, usually using whole wheat flour)

- a slice of good bread with cream cheese or sour cream (I make my own bread in a bread machine)

-nuts and dried fruit

I think this list has plenty of options to provide a variety of healthy snacks. It is more time consuming than opening a box of pre-packaged snack.  But I don’t mind spending a few extra minutes because a) my family’s health is absolutely worth any effort I put in preparing food for them, and b) I don’t view cooking/food prep as a chore, as something that needs to be reduced or eliminated from my life.

As far as baking muffins and bread, it is not hard if you have your kitchen organized so that you have everything you need at your fingertips and don’t have to track your kitchen every time you bake. I timed the process of baking muffins, and the hands-on time took literally 5 minutes, plus 20 minutes in the oven (during which time you can do something else). It doesn’t have to be elaborate. But nothing beats a fresh home-made snack that contains 5 ingredients.

Do you plan your snacks? What are your favorite snacks?

delicious strawberry muffins





Red Velvet Cake (reduced sugar and fat).

Red velvet cakeThere is no such thing as “healthy dessert”. Dessert is indulgence, a treat, not health food. That said, so many times I have come across dessert recipes that are cloyingly sweet and/or too greasy. Excessive sugar and fat overwhelm overall flavor and add to the calorie count.

I have found that often a recipe follows some superficial rules that get replicated out of tradition, without any substantiation. I question things, including recipes. I want to know the “why”s behind every ingredient. And if loads of fat and sugar are crucial to achieve the best result, I will follow the recipe. Otherwise, I will adapt it.

This recipe for Red Velvet cake is delicious–moist and flavorful with a hint of chocolate as a good Red Velvet cake should be. I cut the amount of sugar in the cake, and both sugar and fat in the icing, with no harm to the texture or flavor of the cake whatsoever. In fact, I believe it improved the original recipe.

Red Velvet  cake low sugar


Red Velvet Cake.

(Adapted. I can’t find the source anymore. If you recognize this as your recipe, please let me know).

1 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk)

2 Tbs liquid red food coloring

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3 1/4 cup all purpose flour

3 Tbs cocoa powder

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8-inch or 9-inch cake pans (I like to use PAM with flour in it).

2. In a large bowl cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time.

3. Combine yogurt (or buttermilk) with the food coloring and vanilla extract in a small bowl.

4. Combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda in another bowl (make sure there are no lumps in your cocoa powder. Sifting helps with that).

5. Alternate adding yogurt mixture and flour mixture to the creamed butter in the large bowl. Mix just until combined– do not over mix!

6. Pour into the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Make sure to start checking early: over baked Red Velvet cake becomes dry. Cool for a few minutes in the pans, then remove to a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting it.


Cream Cheese Frosting


16 oz. Neufchâtel cheese, room temperature

3/4 stick butter, room temperature

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/4– 21/2 cup powdered sugar.


Beat the Neufchâtel cheese with butter until well blended. Add vanilla and powdered sugar, blend well on low speed, then whip up the frosting on a higher speed till light and fluffy.

To frost the cake:

Cover the top of the 1st layer with frosting and put the 2nd layer on top. Cover the top and sides of the  second layer with a thin layer of frosting. Don’t worry about crumbs showing: you are making a crumb layer of frosting at this point. Chill the cake for at least 30 min. Then cover the top and the sides with the remaining frosting. Chill until ready to eat.

To serve, let the cake sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes.

Red Velvet  cake with cream cheese frosting




Get organized for Back to School: Daily school readiness routine, and a Giveaway.

Can you believe we have less than a month before the school starts? This is usually the time when “back to school” anxiety starts affecting both kids and parents: so much to do, so many questions (“Will I get a nice teacher or a mean teacher this year?”– we hear that a lot around here these days.)

Today’s Back to School Inspiration may be just the thing to help you tackle that anxiety and enjoy the last few weeks of summer vacation, as well as have a smooth start to the new school year!  I have teamed up with 11 other bloggers to give you a really fun…

Back To School

Each of us are sharing a super fun “Back to School” themed idea today:  I am sharing our school readiness routine.

We’ve been relying on our “school readiness” routine for a couple years now. It has proven to be very effective in keeping the stress level down, and making sure things run smoothly not only at the beginning of a school year but also throughout the rest of it. In addition to maintaining order and piece of mind, it helps the kids learn self-reliance and efficiency: I am a strong believer in teaching kids to be independent and self-sufficient from an early age.

Here is what goes into our “school readiness” routine:

** A list of things that needs to be completed every day/night before kids go to bed:

It took me some time to come up with a message board that would be a)easy to use, b) durable, and c) easy and inexpensive to make.  As a result, I created the following set up:

school readiness routine

We purchased a magnetic board from Ikea (not a dry-erase kind), and my husband hung it on the wall right next to the family calendar. I also bought two small dry-erase boards from Wal-mart and attached them to the magnetic board using a couple of peel-and-stick magnets. Then I used my label maker and printed “rows” and “columns” to mark a semi-permanent lay out — it can be easily switched if needed, but it stays put and doesn’t smudge from every day use.

The top board is a “To-Do” list for the kids. I divided it into three columns, one for each kid, marking the columns with strips of the label maker tape. This board is where I write chores (or “to-do”s) for the kids to do daily, so I won’t spend too much time talking about it in this post.

The second board is titled “School Readiness”. It was created in a similar way–using my label maker, I printed the board title, kids’ names, column dividers, as well as items for the kids to check off as they go through their routine to get ready for school. The items include:

- homework: this one is self-explanatory

- backpack: it is the kids’ job to make sure their backpacks are packed, and it gets done the night before.

- lunch: the kids make their own lunch the night before (more on this later)

- snack: snack goes in the backpack the night before

- room and bathroom: general pick-up, making sure nothing is on the floor, etc.

- clothes: the kids set out an outfit that they plan on wearing next day.

An hour or so before dinner, I remind the kids to start on their “school readiness” routine. Right before bedtime I see if they have checked off every item on the list– there is a dry-erase marker and an eraser in a magnetic cup attached to the bottom of the board.command center in the mudroom

The memo board and the calendar are located in our office/mudroom. I am SO happy with this set up: it helps streamline the whole process of dealing with school stuff. The backpacks hang right under the magnetic board which makes it easy for the kids to pack and unpack. There is a desk to the right of the magnetic board.  Basically, all their school related things are located in one area. All they have to do in the morning is grab their backpacks, step to the mudroom area to put their shoes on, and head out the door.

**Lunch and snack prep:

- Lunch: to keep it within the spirit of learning self-sufficiency, the kids are responsible to pack their lunch the night before. To streamline this process, I put a small magnetic board (a locker dry-erase board actually) on the side of the fridge. It is used for writing what they have prepared and put in the fridge in order to put in their lunchboxes in the morning. This way I know what each of them is taking to school, plus it is a good visual for the kids and a reminder to actually prepare lunch! I plan to write a separate post on food choices for kids lunches and snacks.school readiness routine

-Snack: we keep a basket labeled “school snacks” in the pantry, which makes it very easy for the kids to grab a snack, put it in the backpack and check off this item of the list on the magnetic board.school snacks basket in the pantry

I love the fact that the kids are learning to stay organized, keep track of their “to-do”s without me asking them fifty times if they have done this or that. Who has time for that?


And here are the rest of the projects, that I am sure you will find super  useful! They range from teacher gifts to advice for the anxious child heading to school. So be sure to check them out!

Back to School

Start of the Year Basket by Garay Treasures’s ~~ 1st Day of School Traditions by Mrs. Coach Sims ~~ 10 of the Best Back to School Teacher Gifts by Tales of Beauty for Ashes ~~ Back to School Fashion by Words About Waverly ~~ Creating a Portable Homework Station by Living In This Season ~~ Take Care of the Teacher by bybmg ~~ 5 Easy Fine Motor Skills Activities by Our Life on a Budget

Back to School

School Room by Abiding in Grace ~~ Back to School Party by All Kinds of Things ~~ Back to School Organization by Morganize With Me ~~ Preparing an Anxious Child by Almond Place


Of course, we didn’t want the fun to stop with the inspiring ideas… so here is a fun giveaway for a $60 Target Gift Card! Click on the a Rafflecopter giveaway link to enter. The winner will be announced on August 12th!



What tricks do you use to have kids get ready for school? Please share!


Summer learning tips.

Today I am sharing how we keep our brains from getting rusty during summer break.

summer learning tips

I believe, and teach my kids, that learning is not a chore that they have to do because their teachers and parents expect them to. We talk a lot about the value of “developing their brain” and different ways they can do it. “Summer knowledge loss” is a well-known fact. I have been questioning the rationale behind a three month break from school, and came across different explanations and theories (this and this are good reads). Regardless of how and why we have such a long summer break, I don’t want my kids’ academic skills to hibernate all summer long.

In my previous post, I showed that we fit short learning sessions in early afternoon– after some fun activities outside the house, chores and lunch. I feel like by that time the kids are ready to sit down and let their brains do some work before they go on running around.

Here is what goes into our summer learning:

1.  Reading: Every two weeks we go to the library and each kid picks a stack of books to bring home. We also buy books on Amazon or in Half-Price Books. We talk about their favorite books: I love seeing the kids discuss the books they all have read, sometimes it makes me pick up one of their books and read it myself! In addition to fiction, we encourage reading daily news (online and/or print) and non-fiction.

Or we just read whatever we find in the basket with magazines, while trying to sit in the said basket

Or we just read whatever we find in the basket with magazines, while trying to sit in the said basket

2. Basic math/language skills (especially important for my 7 year old): I put a few sheets that I tear out of old work books or print from the Internet in the left pocket of a folder, and have kids complete them and move to the right pocket. Whenever I have a minute later in the day I go over their work and see if they need help, or just need to make corrections.summer learning

3. Science experiments: this is, of course, a huge hit with my 7 and 10 year olds. At first, their creativity was flowing completely free, and so were my cooking ingredients (vanilla extract is an essential part of body moisturizer, apparently). So we talked how we can channel creativity in a more productive way. We agreed that we should use a basic recipe found online (say, bath salts) and then play with it, modify the way we like it, and write down observations in a journal. I think this is a good way to balance creativity with science skills (observation, research, note taking).

science experiments

“Volcano” (we were out of red food coloring)

I hope that when school starts in a month, my kids will not be shocked and overwhelmed with a wave of assignments and work that will be coming their way.

Do you have any tricks to engage kids’ brains during summer? What are your thoughts on the “summer knowledge loss” phenomenon? I’d love to see your comments!

Sharing this post at Morganize with me!



Summer time management (is not an oxymoron).

I have been trying to figure out my blogging schedule so that it did not interfere with my off-line life. I am not sure how to best fit in with everything else that’s going on here on a daily basis. I miss regular blogging, but at the same time resent the fact that my time writing posts and working on the blog is the time not spent with my family. I am letting things decide themselves naturally, and intend to post whenever I have a chance.

We are almost half way through with the summer. June was very eventful for us. The first couple of weeks were hectic with lots of appointments that I had put off till the school is out– will not repeat that mistake again. After things settled down and we officially began “relaxing” and taking it easy, it became obvious that unstructured “chilling” is not going to work.

I realized (or confirmed) that my kids do not do well without a certain type of structure, and become bored, overwhelmed with all the free time, and eventually express it through whining, bickering and drama queen shows.

To save the summer and my sanity (with four children, including a fire-cracker under 2, and no extended family in town, I need all the tricks I can come up with) I put together a daily schedule that I hung in our family command center next to the calendar.

Summer time managemen

I did not bother to make it pretty (I may get to it, but it has been doing its job as is), or permanent. It still did magic to the order of things here: a lot less boredom- induced stress, a lot more productive and fun activities.

The icing on the doughnut has to match an outfit for better tasting experience!

The icing on the doughnut has to match an outfit for better tasting experience!

First time horse riding

First time horse riding

Here are some things that I considered while putting the schedule together:

1. Weather: here in Texas you do not want to be outdoors in the middle of the day, so most outdoor activities were scheduled for morning hours.

2. Baby’s nap time: she is not the type of a child that can peacefully tag along and fall asleep anywhere any time. And if she misses her nap, the whole family will hear it later in the day.

3. Chores and studying: with the general expectation of summer being a season for “all fun and games” I wanted for the kids to remember that daily chores are not going to do themselves. Same goes for keeping up with basic academic skills: I do not see a need for their brains to rest all summer. I believe intellectual activities are good for you all year long.

I can’t stress enough how much following this schedule has helped us stay in control of our time, letting us enjoy this summer so much more. It also proved to be a great way to minimize the time spent playing video games and watching TV.

I should note that the schedule is not set in stone, and allows for flexibility if there is a change of plans.

Here is our summer schedule in a nutshell:

8.00–8.30 Breakfast, clean up
9.00–10.00 Chores (me: gym)
10.00–12.00 Fun activities (out)
12.00–1.00 Lunch
1.00–3.00 Nap (baby); Educational activities, reading, exercise (kids)
3.00–3.30 Snack
3.30-6.00 Play(friends, electronics, TV, etc.)
6.00–7.00 Dinner
7.00–8.00 Pool, play
8.00 Baby’s bath&bed
9.00    Kids shower&bed

I don’t time the activities with a stop watch. As I said, it is a flexible schedule, a guideline for the day. I will write a further breakdown of this time management system in other posts (how we handle chores, educational activities, outings, meals).

“Summer” and “time management” are not mutually exclusive. Quite the opposite:  this time management system let us get the best out of this summer break! I am sure I will rely on it to enjoy our next summer, modifying it reflect our needs.

What tricks do you use to keep your family happy (and your sanity intact) during summer break?

Sharing this at Morganize With Me




Crock-pot Bean and Spinach Enchilada Casserole.

It’s been some time since my last post: after posting regularly for a couple of months I realized blogging is time consuming. If you have a blog, you knew that already. And if you don’t have a blog– you know now. And though I enjoy blogging, I also enjoy a whole lot of other things, and then there is a whole lot of things, not necessarily enjoyable, that  have to be done. Less time online directly translates into more things getting done off-line, and I am fine with that for now.

One thing that I do love about blogging is the exchange of useful ideas. Today’s great idea is this crock pot spinach and bean enchiladas. bean and spinach enchiladas crock pot

via Morganize with Me


The idea is not mine, I borrowed it from Morgan (she has a lot of other great ideas on her blog, so be sure to check it out when you have time).

Three things make this recipe appealing to me: 1) it can be easily modified based on what you have on hand, and on your preferences, 2) as far as enchiladas go, this one has a higher ratio of filling to tortillas, which is a plus in my book, and finally 3) It is done in a crock-pot– this one is self-explanatory, right?

You will find the original recipe on Morgan’s blog. Here is my version:


1 lb. ground beef*

1 15.5 ounce can black beans, rinsed & drained

1 15.5 ounce can re-fried beans, (I use no-fat kind)

1 16-ounce tub fresh baby spinach**

1 cup frozen corn

1 tsp ground cumin

2 cups grated cheddar cheese***

3 cups enchilada sauce

9 6-inch corn tortillas

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper


* Whenever I brown ground beef for a dish, I make sure to make extra, portion it out in freezer bags, label and stash in the freezer. I do the same with chicken. It has become a standard way for me to come up with quick dinners during the week.

** I used to cook with frozen spinach until I tried using fresh spinach, lightly sauteed and drained. I will not go back to frozen kind– the texture of fresh spinach is so much better. I don’t mean those  huge bunches that require triple washing though (too time consuming), but the pre-washed kind in a plastic tub.

*** If you use good quality cheese and grate it yourself, you will need LESS cheese (=lighter dish) to achieve great taste. I like Tillamook brand.


1. Brown the ground beef, breaking the clumps. Move to a plate.

2. Saute spinach in a little bit of oil until it wilts (it only takes a few minutes). Move to a colander and squeeze out as much liquid as possible by pressing it against the sides of the colander with a wooden spoon.

3. Combine the beef, spinach, and the rest of the ingredients, except for 1 cup of cheddar.

4. Spread 1 1/2 cups of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a crock pot.

5. Spread three tortillas and add 1/3 of the bean mixture, layer and repeat two more times.

6. Top with the remaining enchilada sauce and cheddar. Cover and cook until heated through, on low for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

The entire family loved this recipe, including the picky 7 year old. I did not take a picture because it turned out a little mushy due to the fact that we let it cook longer than specified in the directions: we got distracted. We were busy doing this:


That giant cup of tea was not gonna drink itself.


After the tea and dessert at La Madeleine cafe were done (a great Mother and Daughter date idea) , we headed back home and gobbled up that bean and spinach enchilada (with beef). It was that good!



Tips from my kitchen: no-recipe cooking.

no-recipe cooking

In my every day cooking I rarely follow a specific recipe. That is how women in my family have always cooked. Growing up I was involved in the kitchen a lot:  first as a dishwasher (who could have known that you are supposed to wash both sides of the plate ?!), and then as an assistant chef. My first independent cooking project was an egg, onion and pickle salad, which my parents *said* was great.

I wanted to share my process for selecting and cooking dishes without using a recipe.


Though I do use complete recipes occasionally, it is rare that I have all required ingredients on hand. That’s not a problem! Substitute similar ingredients for the ones called for in a recipe, sticking to the same basic food category.: green beans for asparagus, yogurt for sour cream, black beans for kidney beans, etc. Example: this pasta dish, where I used green beans instead of asparagus.

Penne-with-Asparagus-and cherry tomatoessource


I eye-ball ingredients all the time. Have you noticed how celebrity chefs pour oil straight from the bottle and say, “Add about 2 tablespoons of oil”. The fact is that if you end up pouring 2 and a quarter tablespoons of oil, it is not going to mess up your dish. Bottom line: it is rarely necessary to keep exact measurements while cooking (this is my opinion and I am sticking to it).


If I am pressed for time and have no plan for a dinner, I rely on fridge/freezer and pantry staples, and put together a dish based on this formula: lean protein+ veggie side+ grain.

Some of my favorite “spontaneous” combinations include (but are not limited to):

*salmon patties (canned salmon), steamed broccoli/green beans (frozen), brown rice (boil-in-a-bag)/couscous.

*quesadillas: mushroom and onion, cheese, bean and cheese, chicken (using leftover cooked chicken that I stash in the freezer).

*Italian sausage (frozen, defrosts in the microwave in minutes), pasta/ravioli, salad.

*Shrimp (frozen, defrosts in a bowl of luke-warm water in minutes), sauteed bell peppers and onions, grits.

Tip: preparing spontaneous meals think a theme: Italian, Greek, Asian. This helps to pick out ingredients that will work well together.


When I come across an interesting recipe, I like to make it my own by adding to it based on what I have in the fridge, what I feel will go well with the original recipe (see Tip above), and based on our preferences. Herbs, beans, veggies, cheese make great add-ons. By the same token, I sometimes omit or cut down on some ingredients (usually fat and sugar) when I feel like the final result will not be affected negatively.

It is helpful to know a few basic rules to abide by while cooking, to make sure you don’t end up with a total flop (been there, done that). But my most favorite rule is: there are NO RULES! You are the boss, and your dish will come out unique and edible delicious. It may take a bit of practice, but it will give you freedom of being able to cook on the fly, and avoid take-outs and pizza delivery.

What is your cooking style? Do you feel “safe” or stymied by using a written recipe?

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Simple organization: basic principles.

simple organization principlesI started writing a post about how I organized our pantry a few days ago, and got more and more overwhelmed with trying to cover every detail. It was taking me five times more to describe the process than it did to actually organize the pantry!

So I decided to break this post into several mini posts on organization, to share what went into this organization project (and typically goes with similar projects).

I want to start with describing four basic principles of organization I follow regardless of the type and size of a project:

*Simplify: Organization to me is more than moving things around. The main principle that I keep in mind is simplifying and keeping stuff to a minimum. I have been amazed at how little we need for every day life– it is a very liberating feeling. I am a firm believer in “less is more”!

*Productivity: The time spent vs. the benefits gained is important.  I keep my organization to 15- 20 minutes time frame at a time. Turns out, one can accomplish a whole lot in a a few minutes. I used to dread large-scale projects, like organizing a pantry, because of a time commitment it would require. Until I realized that I do not have to do it all in one seating: organizing in small “chunks” is how I have been tackling various areas around the house.

*Form after function: Visual appeal is important, but not at the expense of my time (and money) budget.  Once I have let go of the (self-imposed, Pinterest-induced) expectation to have all matching containers and pretty labels, I was able to move on much faster and show great progress.

*Think outside the box: A space should be organized based on how it is used by your family, whether or not it fits the “default” expectations. For example, we keep silverware on top of the counter instead of in a utensil drawer, because it works better for us this way. We put our mudroom in the office, again because that is how we use our space, though I am sure that mudroom corner was not intended as such by the builder.

Important note: A sign of effective organization is that the organized space stays organized long-term. Most of my organization projects turned out to be easy to maintain, again, due to the key points I just described. And if something is not working, it is tweaked.

Organization does not have to be daunting and/or expensive, with the help of these principles. It is totally doable on a small budget and within the limited time that we have. I have been able to make good progress with organizing our house (though I have WAYS to go!).

I already shared in detail how I organized our silverware and water glasses. I will be sharing my pantry and other areas in the future posts.


Quick dinners: grilled pesto shrimp skewers.

Here is another recipe that meets my requirements for a quick and healthy dinner: it has two ingredients, and is ready in under 20 minutes. It couldn’t be easier to prepare, but tastes like a gourmet dish.

grilled pesto shrimp

For light grilling like this one, I like using my Grilla pan from Ikea. It is perfect for grilling shrimp, a couple of chicken breasts, or some veggies.grilla-grill-pan

 Ikea Grilla pan

I buy peeled and deveined frozen shrimp, they defrost very fast. They can be thawed in just a few minutes if you put them in a bowl with lukewarm water.

I served the shrimp with some tomatoes and green beans. Any frozen veggies, that can be prepared in the microwave, would also make a great speedy side.

Here is how to make it:

  1. Mix 2-3 tablespoons of pesto with shrimp and let sit on the counter for about 10 minutes (you can start your side veggies at this point).
  2. Put 5-6 shrimp on a skewer. Preheat the grill pan on medium.
  3. Spray the grill pan well with cooking spray and grill the skewers for 2-3 minutes per side, until they turn opaque.
adapted from Closet Cooking.


I have been obsessed with pesto lately! I have made a batch and have been putting it on sandwiches, wraps, chicken breast, etc. Here is another great idea using pesto: Morgan, who writes her blog “Morganize with me”, shared this healthy pesto salad that is perfect for a quick and healthy dinner. Morgan has a ton of ideas for organizing your home and family life, as well as healthy living.

Do you have a recipe that calls for pesto? I would love to add it to my list.

Sharing at Morganize with me.