The Baker Upstairs: January 2018

1.31.2018

Baked Meatballs

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These freezer-friendly baked meatballs are totally delicious and perfect for swedish meatballs, spaghetti, and more!

These freezer-friendly baked meatballs are totally delicious and perfect for swedish meatballs, spaghetti, and more!

Every year I tend to start my spring cleaning in January. It's kind of the perfect time, with the start of a new year and the re-awakening of my desire to make order from chaos. Plus, it's so cold outside that there's nothing else to do! My husband and I have already completed several projects this year, from cleaning out the kids' toys (and giving away a huge pile - so satisfying!) to fixing all the little odd broken things around the house, like the cabinet handle that keeps falling off and the desk drawer that was hanging crookedly. Yesterday we cleaned the fridge, top to bottom, and I was shocked my how filthy it was! Usually I'm pretty quick to clean up spills in the fridge, but it appears as though there were several that happened unnoticed. (Ugh.)

With a bright and fresh fridge and freezer, there's no better time to start stocking up on all my favorite freezer foods! Having pre-cooked food in the freezer totally saves me on those nights I don't feel like cooking (which, let's face it, is most nights). Having the protein already cooked means that I can pull dinner together in a snap! These baked meatballs are some of our favorites. They're delicious and versatile, and perfect for using in some of our favorite recipes, from swedish meatballs to spaghetti. My kids will even eat them plain as a main course, with some fresh fruit and roasted vegetables on the side. I've added a recipe below for 1 pound of ground beef (although you could easily substitute ground turkey), but feel free to double, triple, or quadruple the recipe. I like to make a huge batch, then portion them into freezer bags with enough meatballs for one meal for my family. These baked meatballs are always very popular at my house!

These freezer-friendly baked meatballs are totally delicious and perfect for swedish meatballs, spaghetti, and more!
Freezer-Friendly Baked Meatballs

1 pound ground beef
1 egg
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well, then shape into one inch balls. Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet. Bake 25 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. Let cool completely, then place into freezer bags and freeze.
These freezer-friendly baked meatballs are totally delicious and perfect for swedish meatballs, spaghetti, and more!

1.27.2018

Chicken Fajita Soup + 23 Comforting Soup Recipes

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This savory and flavorful chicken fajita soup is so easy to make and totally delicious!

This savory and flavorful chicken fajita soup is so easy to make and totally delicious!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I am totally in love with soup! I would probably eat it every night for dinner if my family would allow it. Brothy soups, creamy soups, thick chowders, savory broths, I love them all. Soup is totally my comfort food! Since January is National Soup Month, I'm excited to share my new favorite soup with you today. This chicken fajita soup is so incredibly flavorful and delicious, and the perfect hearty soup for a cold night. I made it last week when we had friends over for dinner, and it was a hit with everyone!

This savory and flavorful chicken fajita soup is so easy to make and totally delicious!

The fajita seasoning gives the soup such an amazing flavor, and it's incredibly delicious in combination with the tender chicken, black beans, tomatoes, peppers and brown rice. It's not strictly necessary to top the soup with shredded cheese, sour cream, and tortilla strips, but... well, it kind of is necessary. Because the toppings are what makes it so tasty! I served the soup with some hot and fresh homemade tortillas on the side, and it they were amazing together. This soup is seriously delicious!

This savory and flavorful chicken fajita soup is so easy to make and totally delicious!
Chicken Fajita Soup

1 pound chicken breasts
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
8 cups chicken broth
1 fajita seasoning packet
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups cooked brown rice
for topping: cheese, sour cream, tortilla strips, etc.

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, then add the red pepper, onion, and garlic. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened and fragrant. Add the black beans, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, fajita seasoning packet, and 1 teaspoon salt, and stir to combine. Add the whole chicken breasts to the pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer twenty minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pot and shred, then return to the pot. Stir in the brown rice and cook until heated through. Serve hot topped with cheese, sour cream, and tortilla strips.

adapted from A Spicy Perspective
This savory and flavorful chicken fajita soup is so easy to make and totally delicious!

For more delicious soup recipes, be sure to check out these posts from my Celebrating Food blogging friends!


White Chicken Chili from Ashlee Marie
Creamy Sausage Tortellini Soup from Creations by Kara
Slow Cooker Beef Enchilada Chili from Real Mom Kitchen
Instant Pot Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup from 365 Days of Slow Cooking
Instant Pot Italian Chicken Soup from Supergolden Bakes
Vegan Pinto Bean Soup from Namely Marly

And don't miss these fabulous soup recipes from The Baker Upstairs:


1.22.2018

Mango Raspberry Smoothie

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This refreshing and healthy mango raspberry smoothie is the perfect easy breakfast!

This refreshing and healthy mango raspberry smoothie is the perfect easy breakfast!

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had made some healthier goals for the new year, and I've kind of been shocked at how easy it has been to stick with them! It turns out that I actually have a lot more willpower than I had previously thought. (Who knew?) I think it helps that I'm starting with small, achievable goals. For January, my goals are to close all the rings on my apple watch daily (which includes 30 minutes of exercise), to drink water instead of soda, and to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Each month, I'll add a few more small goals, and continue working on the goals from the previous months. I'm hoping it's a system that will be easy to stick with, and I'll end the year feeling happier and healthier. So far so good! 

I've been trying to get my whole family on board with the 5 fruits and vegetables per day thing, and so far things are going pretty well. I always put at least one fruit or vegetable (usually two) into the kids' lunches for school. Some of their favorites are apple slices, grapes, applesauce pouches, sliced strawberries, baby carrots, snap peas, and celery sticks. Since we're so busy in the morning and don't usually have a lot of time to eat breakfast, I started making smoothies for the girls most mornings, and it has been awesome! I love that they can drink their breakfast in just a few minutes, and they're also getting a serving of fruit before they leave for school. They both get a snack in the morning at school, and they eat lunch around 11:00, so a smoothie is plenty to tide them over until snack time. 

This refreshing and healthy mango raspberry smoothie is the perfect easy breakfast!

We've tried a variety of frozen fruit in our smoothies, and the girls love pretty much everything! This mango raspberry smoothie is one of our favorites, though. The sweet mango plays off the tart raspberries nicely, and pink smoothies are always a win with my girls. :) We love to use vanilla soy milk in our smoothies to add a little flavor, but you could definitely use dairy milk or juice instead. The banana is a must for sweetness and a smooth creamy texture! I also like to throw in a little flax seed in my smoothies because my kids don't notice it at all, but it adds a little more nutrition. We've made this smoothie multiple times over the last few weeks, and it's always a favorite!

This refreshing and healthy mango raspberry smoothie is the perfect easy breakfast!
Mango Raspberry Smoothie

2 bananas
3/4 cup frozen raspberries
3/4 cup frozen mango chunks
1 1/2 cups vanilla soy milk or almond milk
1 teaspoon flax seed (optional)

Add the bananas to a blender, then layer the frozen fruit on top. Pour the soy milk over the top, and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.
This refreshing and healthy mango raspberry smoothie is the perfect easy breakfast!

1.16.2018

Baked Potato Soup

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This loaded baked potato soup is quick and easy to make, and so delicious! The perfect cozy meal for a cold night!

This loaded baked potato soup is quick and easy to make, and so delicious! The perfect cozy meal for a cold night!

After the snowpocalypse last year in Portland, I was bracing myself for another tough winter this year. So far, though, it has been incredibly mild. We've had some rainy days (although less than usual, it seems) and only one icy/snowy day so far. This last week has been beautiful, and we've had several sunny days in the mid-50s. We've been taking advantage of the great weather and spending as much time as we can playing at the park and soaking in all the sunshine we can get. My kids have decided that it's just spring already, and have been asking if they can wear shorts to school. (I don't really have the heart to tell them that we're heading into a few weeks of rainy and cold days. Sorry kiddos!) As excited as I have been to have these sunny spring-like days, though, I'm still not ready to give up my winter soups!

There really is nothing better than a warm bowl of soup on a cold night. Soup is my favorite form of comfort food, and I would gladly eat it every night of the week. This baked potato soup is one that I've been making for years now, and it's always a big hit! Everyone I have made it for has loved it, and I love that it's quick and easy to make. Cooking the potatoes beforehand in the microwave gives it that baked potato flavor and texture, but it also speeds up the cook time so the soup is ready in about thirty minutes. It's perfect for a busy night when you still want something tasty and filling for dinner!

This loaded baked potato soup is quick and easy to make, and so delicious! The perfect cozy meal for a cold night!
Baked Potato Soup

5 medium russet potatoes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
4 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 cup green onions, chopped
1/3 cup sour cream

for topping:
Sour cream
Shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped green onions
Bacon pieces

Microwave potatoes until cooked through. Remove from the microwave and let sit until cool enough to handle. Remove the potato skins (they should peel off easily), then cut the potatoes into small chunks. Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the flour, and whisk until combined. Cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Whisk in the chicken broth, and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened and bubbling, about 10 minutes. Mix in the potato chunks. Remove from heat and whisk in the salt, pepper, cheddar cheese, green onions, and sour cream. Serve immediately. Garnish with sour cream, cheddar cheese, green onions and bacon as desired.
This loaded baked potato soup is quick and easy to make, and so delicious! The perfect cozy meal for a cold night!

For more delicious soup recipes featuring potatoes, check out some of my favorites below:



1.11.2018

Tostada Pizza

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This cheesy tostada pizza is a delicious meatless meal that's super easy to make!

This cheesy tostada pizza is a delicious meatless meal that's super easy to make!

Hey friends! It's been a minute. I hope your new year has been wonderful so far! I've been really excited to get started on my goals for the new year, and so far (11 days in) things are going great! I mentioned before that we are hoping to buy our first home this summer, and so we are trying to save every penny that we can for a down payment. I'm also working on some healthier habits, including (gasp!) giving up my beloved Diet Coke, getting enough sleep, and meeting my exercise goal every day. My reward has been that I've been feeling great so far this year! So great, in fact, that I haven't wanted to sit down at the computer and work. :) As fun as it has been for me to spend the last few weeks re-watching old episodes of Doctor Who and going for walks at the park with my husband, it means I have totally neglected to share this tostada pizza with you, which is an absolute shame.

Since I absolutely love both easy dinner ideas and homemade pizza, this pizza is right up my alley! It's super quick to make (less than thirty minutes) and is full of flavor. My kids love it, and my husband does too! He was a little skeptical the first time I tried to feed him pizza with fresh salad on top of it, but after a few bites he was totally sold. The savory beans and cheese are the perfect contrast to the fresh lettuce and tomatoes, and the ranch/sour cream mixture on top helps to tie everything together. This is one of our favorite pizzas, and we make it often!

This cheesy tostada pizza is a delicious meatless meal that's super easy to make!
Tostada Pizza

dough for one pizza crust
1 cup refried beans
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons ranch dressing
2 cups chopped iceberg lettuce
2 medium tomatoes, chopped

Preheat the oven to 500 with a baking stone or overturned cookie sheet inside. Spread the dough out to form a large circle. In a small bowl, mix the refried beans with the garlic, cumin, and chili powder. Spread the refried beans over the pizza crust in an even layer, then sprinkle the cheese over the top. Bake 7-9 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. In a small bowl, mix together the sour cream and ranch dressing. Sprinkle the lettuce and tomatoes over the top of the pizza, then drizzle with the sour cream mixture. Serve immediately.
This cheesy tostada pizza is a delicious meatless meal that's super easy to make!

For more fantastic pizza recipes, check out some of my favorites below:



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