Valentine’s Day Choco-Banana Hearts

Valentine’s Day Choco-Banana Hearts

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Stonyfield® Organic Kids®. As always, all opinions are expressed are 100% my own

Valentine’s Day is literally right around the corner! This is the first year both of my boys are in the same school and I am fully reveling in the fact that I get to send favors/treats for kids in both of their classes. A one-stop shop for love, if you will! We’ve put a lot of thought into what kind of treats we want to bring to their class parties. I’m Room Mom, so the pressure is on to bring in something the kids will enjoy that will parents and teachers will love too. It just isn’t cool to dump off a bunch of sugar and send them to hang with teachers.

Choco-Banana Valentine's Day Cakes

I’ve decided a fair way to give everyone a little bit of what they want is to make these fun Choco-Banana Valentine Hearts with my boys (super fun) and bring in some of my favorite Stonyfield® Organic Kids® yogurt tubes. Their new look and Stonyfield® Organic Kids® Choco-Mooo flavor is a big hit with the kids (perfect for adding to any recipe), and they have committed to putting less sugar in their kids’ yogurt. It’s a win/win! With 40% less sugar than the leading yogurt brands, I never feel guilty giving the kids a Stonyfield® Organic Kids® Choco-Mooo as their dessert.

Choco-Banana Valentine's Day Cakes

This simple recipe helps keep the sugar high to a minimum and kicks the flavor up a notch. The bananas and chocolate flavor add sweetness and the yogurt keeps the cake/cupcakes moist and delicious. Top it off with the homemade raspberry icing (made from real raspberries, powdered sugar, and water) and you’ve got yourself a hit! We even made sure to create a heart shape with the muffins by rolling up a ball of foil and placing it between the silicone cups and the muffin pan. These were adorable, and unfortunately mostly eaten by the time I found my camera!

I loved creating this with my boys and can’t wait for them to share with friends. Next year we may have to host a V-Day dance at our house and really take things up a notch. Any reason to celebrate with Stonyfield® Organic Kids®, right? I recently spent time walking the Stonyfield® Organic® dairy farms and have truly fallen in love with their ethically driven brand. All of their products are Non-GMO verified, free from pesticides and artificial ingredients. All dairy comes from happy & healthy cows I’ve met myself. Stonyfield® Organic Kids® has been in the yogurt business for over 35 years (before stating “Organic” was necessary) and has been trusted by moms far and wide. Stonyfield® Organic Kids® is a certified B Corp, meaning they meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. I feel good knowing where my dollars are going to work. I know these treats will be a hit for all moms looking to feed their kids healthy options. They come available in cups, pouches, tubes, or smoothies.

Choco-Banana Valentine's Day Cake

Quick Tip: Freezing the Stonyfield Organic Kids Packs (containing 40% less sugar than most yogurt brands) are easily frozen and taken to last on-the-go, making them the easy party snack/favor.

Valentine’s Day Choco-Banana Hearts

Valentine’s Day Choco-Banana Hearts

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp of cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup of Stonyfield Choco-Moo Yogurt
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp warm water
  • Raspberry Icing:
  • 2 tbsp Raspberry "juice" (mash berries in strainer and collect juice in a bowl)
  • 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk eggs and sugar together, add oil and whisk until smooth. Add flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a separate bowl and combine. Pour egg mixture, mashed bananas, and yogurt into the center of dry ingredients, add warm water and mix together.
  2. Pour batter into heart-shaped greased baking pan, pop it in the oven for twenty mins. Mix together icing ingredients and pour over cooled cakes/muffins and enjoy!
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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Essentially yours,

Erika

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Stonyfield® Organic Kids®. As always, all opinions are expressed are 100% my own.

 

 

Seared Alaska Salmon with Basil Butter

Seared Alaska Salmon with Basil Butter

 This post was sponsored by Alaska Seafood as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

One of our family resolutions this year is to eliminate the amount of meat products we consume. We’ve recently cut back on red meat, but we’re incorporating more of a nutritional, healthful protein into our lifestyle as of late, and I’m loving it. The nutrition that comes from fresh, sustainably sourced seafood is well documented, not to mention I feel great after every meal.

I’ve spent the better half of the first month of 2018 eliminating carbs and sugar. I have more energy, sleep better, and the inches I’ve lost off of my waistline isn’t a bad perk either. So the journey to a heart healthy protein was only natural. The way my food is sourced has become increasingly concerning for me over the years, its important that it is always wild, and responsibly sourced. Alaska seafood has a long history of always being wild and sustainable. Alaska is our nations largest source for domestic seafood, and it’s easy to find at your local grocer.

Alaska Salmon

I chose Alaska Salmon for this dish. Salmon can be tricky for some, they either love it or hate it. Well, I’ve found a way that anyone can enjoy a good salmon dish. Simple and fresh, this recipe is sure to please. I use four six-ounce pieces of wild Alaska Salmon (skinned) and sear it to perfection. Searing salmon creates a delicious char that can lure even the biggest salmon skeptic.

Alaska Salmon

Most often people shy away from salmon because of its texture. If it isn’t cooked to perfection, it can be a little too fishy. But the benefits in a protein that is naturally loaded with minerals, vitamins and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids just can’t be ignored. This is a fish you need in your diet. Period. Over the years I have developed quite a few ways to eat Alaska Salmon, but this recipe is by far my favorite.

Alaska Salmon

Simply sear the salmon for four minutes on one side, then another three on the other in a hot skillet with some EVOO. After they have a nice golden crust add butter, garlic, lemon juice and fresh-cut basil and you’ve got yourself a winning combination. We love it, and I’m one of those picky “funny about texture” skeptics. This is the best way to make perfectly flaky salmon that even the biggest critic can enjoy!

Seared Alaska Salmon with Basil Butter

Seared Alaska Salmon with Basil Butter

Ingredients

  • 4 six-ounce pieces of (skinned) Alaska Salmon
  • 1 Tbsp of EVOO
  • 2 Tbsp of butter
  • 3 Sprigs of fresh basil
  • 1 head of garlic minced
  • 1/3 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Pat the salmon steaks dry, then season with salt and pepper on both sides. Sear for four minutes undisturbed on one side and two minutes on the other. Add lemon juice, butter, garlic and let simmer for five minutes and sprinkle basil leaves.
  2. Serve and enjoy!
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Essentially yours,

Erika

Alaska Salmon

Three-Cheese Baked Penne

Three-Cheese Baked Penne

One of my favorite parts of winter is the cozy and hearty meals we can enjoy. While we are only experiencing a mild cold front here in South Florida, I am a creature of habit. I need baked goodness throughout the winter, and that includes my dinner! This Three-Cheese Baked Penne os a cheesy wonder that crept its way into my heart years ago and I haven’t looked back. It’s my indulgence on a cool winter evening, and an excuse to get cheesy. Pun intended.

It’s a lot like a baked ziti (without the ziti), born of necessity. It includes ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, and of course my favorite, Parmigiano Reggiano. The creamy ricotta lends to the heartiness of this dish, while the gooey mozzarella provides comfort that only cheese can bring. The parmesan is perfect for adding those crispy edges that are my favorite part!

Three-Cheese Parmesan Penne

You start with some cooked pasta (penne in this case) and boil it until al dente, saute some ground sausage meat and add to the pot. Incorporate your favorite marinara, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese. Grate some fresh parmesan over the hot pasta and take a big whiff! This baby is already your favorite dish. Add the mixture to your greased baking dish and top with some more mozzarella. That’s right, you heard me.

Three Cheese Baked Penne

Pop it in the oven at 375 degrees covered for twenty minutes, then add some more of the fresh grated parmesan (for that golden crust). Another ten to twelve minutes in the oven and let it sit on the countertop for another fifteen. This smoky, hot, cheesy dish is just begging for a big ol’… SALAD! Let’s face it, folks, with this much pasta you are going to need to counteract it with some heavy greenery. I like to chop some fresh basil and sprinkle it into the pasta, but… my youngest son is currently boycotting basil, so a sprig will have to do for now.

Three Cheese Baked Penne

Enjoy! I know I will.

Essentially yours,

Erika

Three Cheese Baked Penne

Three Cheese Baked Penne


Thanks to Parmigiano Reggiano for partnering up with me to sponsor this post, and for single-handedly enabling my obsession with cheese. As always, all opinions expressed are 100% my own.

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