Chocolate Chess Pie with Pecan Crust

Unlike the traditional chocolate chess pie loaded with sugar and processed evaporated milk, this version is made with simple ingredients, like pecans, figs, and coconut oil. The end result is a smooth and decadent pie filling loaded with rich chocolate flavor on top of a flaky pecan crust.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

This chocolate chip banana bread is a game-changer. Kids love it, adults love it, everyone LOVES it! Mainly sweetened with ripe bananas, this crowd-pleasing recipe is one continually make over and over.

Double Chocolate Almond Flour Cookies

These rich and chewy cookies are free of gluten, grains, and wheat and will 100% satisfy any chocolate craving you may have. I love using almond meal flour for cookies because it’s a healthy alternative to white flour while giving cookies a soft and chewy texture. And let’s also add chocolate chips to them because more chocolate always makes life a little better!

Gingerbread Sheet Cake with Orange Cream Icing

Flavorful, festive, easy to make, kid-approved, sheet pan sized gingerbread cake with orange cream icing! This is the PERFECT cake for a holiday get-together. It’s large enough to serve several people and definitely tasty enough to get people wanting more. The lightly sweetened gingerbread cake goes perfectly with the 3 ingredient orange cream icing, which is so light and airy. 

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO HOSTING A PARTY DURING THE HOLIDAYS: 5 Festive Recipes + 7 Simple Solutions That Minimize Stress and Maximize Success - Part 2

A party is deemed successful if the host remains calm and accommodating, guests feel happy and full, and the foods and cocktails are eye-catching and delicious. 

Which is what brings us to....

Part 2: 5 festive recipes that are all manageable for hosts to prepare, impressively 
delicious for guests to enjoy, and made with seasonal flavors perfect for all holiday gatherings.

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO HOSTING A PARTY DURING THE HOLIDAYS: 5 Festive Recipes + 7 Simple Solutions That Minimize Stress and Maximize Success - Part 1

Indulging in delicious food, sipping on cocktails, making memories, and being surrounded with love, laughter, family, and friends are a few reasons people of all ages look forward to holiday gatherings year after year. If you are hosting the party, however, things can feel quite overwhelming, and transform even the most gracious host into the grumpy Grinch.

I set up two posts, part 1 and part 2, that together outline recommendations on how to host a party during the holiday season with as little stress as possible. 

Part 1: simple ways to reduce worry, increase success, and 
encourage effortless planning when hosting a holiday party.

Baked Blueberry Banana Oatmeal

 If you’re into meal prep (& even if you’re not) this hearty dish is the perfect meal for breakfast, full of flavor and healthy foods! Lightly sweetened with maple syrup, bananas, and blueberries, this baked oatmeal has no artificial sweeteners and is also gluten-free, vegan-friendly, & free of refined sugars.

Spider Web Pecan Cookies

 What’s better than a soft, chewy, and delicious pecan cookie? A soft, chewy, and delicious pecan cookie with a spider web design made from chocolate! The combination of pecans and spelt flour creates a mildly sweet and nutty cookie that pairs nicely with the dark and white chocolate. You can easily make this cookie vegan with just a few simple changes, too.

Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars (Vegan, Paleo, + Gluten-Free)

I was at my computer trying to think of a creative way to make brownies. Or fudge. I really couldn't decide because they're both delicious choices.  Thinking, thinking, thinking....when I overthink recipes, I tend to over-complicate them as well. So I decided to create something rich and fudgy, and wrote down simple ingredients like cocoa powder, dates, and coconut oil. I mean you can't go wrong with that combo, right? It's at that point I randomly thought of pecan pie. To which I whipped up these delicious, decadent, fudgy, chocolate pecan pie bars. A tasty treat that falls somewhere between a brownie and fudge. Te absolute best of both worlds!

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Cups

This smooth and flavorful fudge needs no processing or blending, making it one of the easiest fudge recipes to make! This tasty treat is also low in sugar, high in protein, and gluten-free.

Fig Stuffed Vanilla Cookie Bars

 Are you a fig newton fan? Do you even know what those are? They taste straight up artificial. Even if you’re a lover of fig newtons or not, these cookie bars stuffed with an ooey gooey homemade fig filling are the upscale, non-artificial version of the refined sugar-filled grocery store fig newton cookies. The cookie bar is incredibly soft and chewy. The fig filling is fresh, sweet, and delicious. It’s a delightful combination you must try! They are also refined sugar free, egg free, dairy, free, and soy free.

Mini Chocolate Raspberry Tarts

Rich and silky gluten-free chocolate mousse tarts are a great way to start or end your day! The tangy raspberries on top compliment the silky smooth chocolate filling perfectly. There are also 2 secret ingredients in this recipe that gives these tarts an extra nutritional boost with extra healthy fats and fiber.  In the notes at the end of the recipe, I included a list of simple, suitable substitutes to make this treat vegan.

Double Dark Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Rich, chewy, chocolatey, soft, low sugar, & gluten-free, crinkle cookies. They take only 20 minutes to make, from start to finish, and they’re sure to satisfy your sweet tooth without any guilt!

Vegetable “Cream” Sauce (Vegan)

Don’t let the word vegan fool you – it’s one of the creamiest sauces I’ve ever tried and it’s loaded with hearty vegetables! Which means there are so many added benefits to this dish. It’s not only delicious but also jam-packed with nutrients. Serve it over rice, pasta, quinoa, or (if not vegan) grilled chicken or seafood. Either way you enjoy it, you will not be disappointed at all!

Choco-Nana Coconut Soft Serve

 Smooth and creamy soft serve is a must have treat before the fall weather comes at you full swing. It's honestly a great treat no matter what the weather is up to because who doesn't love chocolate + bananas? This particular recipe in incredibly easy to make and has a vegan option, too. It's also a no churn soft-serve recipe, which makes it quick to make - less than 5 minutes! 

A Healthy Start to the School Year with Vitacost

It’s that time of year again. That time when school item checklists are complete, wardrobe piles are washed, folded, and put away, class schedules are ironed out, and all moms start to cry…..tears of joy that the kids are back in school!

Then the first week passes. Oh, you optimistically thought life gets easier? You must have forgotten about the incessant “I’m hungry”, “I’m bored”, “It’s too early”, “Can I have a snack”, “I don’t want breakfast”, “But, I’m hungry”, “I don’t feel good”, “I’m sick”, “Can I stay home because I’m hungry and I’m sick” demands. It’s THAT time of year when the tired, hungry, sick grumbling begins. 

But dread not! I am here to help spread some deliciousness, positivity, and healthy facts in an effort to make THAT time of year a little bit easier. Because sometimes, regardless of how well you plan, you can’t muster up the brain cells to think of a healthy, satisfying meal for yourself. Much less your kids.  And with the unlimited options for supplements and cold remedies, deciding on the right ones can feel overwhelming.

Let me help - I’ve teamed up with Vitacost to run this “A Healthy Start to the School Year” campaign. I am pumped about this campaign because I feel like it's right up my alley. I LOVE reading and learning tidbits on over-all health, supplements, and nutrition. Especially when it comes to children (I have 2 boys of my own so I'm in a constant state of trying to decide what is healthiest for them). I am a fact finder, research queen (a term coined by my husband), wholesome food advocate, major germaphobe, knowledge is power mom!

I hope to enlighten you and lessen the burden of both planning nutritious, filling meals for your kids and keeping your family healthy during the school year by sharing with you the following:

1. A healthy + filling breakfast recipe that will last your family all week (virtual high-five)
2. An afternoon snack that will satisfy even the pickiest eaters’ post-school hunger pains (with some extra for you to enjoy, too!)
3. A homemade moisturizing hand sanitizer recipe (say goodbye to parabens, phthalates, & triclosan)
4. Lunch ideas (you can’t have too many)
5. Additional tips that will help your family stay healthy during the school year 

Pecan Spinach Pesto

I think I just went to PESTO HEAVEN! It's one of those moments where I asked myself "Why on earth have you not made this sooner"? I could literally eat this off of a spoon. It's fresh, light, flavorful, and incredibly versatile. Not only that but it's also way too easy to make and freeze for future use. You've got to make this recipe. I promise you'll never go back to jarred store-bought pesto again!

Double Chocolate Fudge Muffins

 With the upcoming winter months, why not add butternut squash to these muffins that not only adds moisture but also adds a healthy dose of vitamin A and vitamin C! I don’t know about you, but I’ll happily consume fudgey chocolate muffins than have an added benefit of germ fighting vitamins! Replacing the butter with butternut squash also helps keep the fat content down to only 4.1g per muffin.  Win-win!

Chocolate Coffee Cheesecake with Chocolate Sauce

 If you're looking for a rich and delectable dessert that packs on delicious flavors (but not calories), look no further!  The cheesecake has a silky smooth texture and is topped with a finger-licking homemade chocolate sauce. 

Mini Berry Lemonade Freezer Pies

 The heat - the August  heat is overwhelming, sometimes. I honestly feel as though I constantly need something cold to sip on, or in this case - eat on. What better way to cool off in this hot weather than with these refreshingly cool freezer pies! The zesty lemon paired with sweet berries is sure to send your taste buds to food heaven. Go ahead and make this gluten-free treat while the berries are fresh and in season!!

Dark Cherry Coconut Cups {No Bake}

I think sometimes we need a little break from the oven heat in the summertime. No-bake treats have been my jam lately. They're refreshing, delicious, and require no additional heat! And has anyone else been on that cherry look-out? Gah they are soooooo good in the summer. I found a big ass bag at Costco. I mean I could probably eat the whole bag but we all know how that would turn out. So I set some aside for this *no bake* recipe. I went all out and created a double cherry treat for ya. A cherry filling AND a coconut cherry filling. How's that for cherry over-load? There's no such thing as a cherry over-load. Give me all the cherries!! I hope you all enjoy this treat as much as I do!

Homemade Blueberry Chia Whole-Wheat Pancakes

Ask and you shall receive! I did a survey on my Instagram story asking if you all would like me to post the recipe for these delicious pancakes. It was very evident you all want this recipe which thrilled me because it's one I make often. In fact, it's our Sunday morning breakfast almost every week! I started this tradition a few years back. It wasn't until then that I realized how much BETTER homemade pancakes are. I will never purchase boxed pancake mix again. I guess I shouldn't say never, because #momlife and we always get busy and really need easier options at times, but these really are so so easy to make and taste fluffy, sweet, and delicious. These are ingredients that are almost always in my kitchen (I make sure to have organic frozen blueberries at all times). What's great about this recipe is you can totally switch it up, which I have done a ton. I've used bananas, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, almond flour, coconut flour, you name it. This is just a basic, but really far from basic, pancake base recipe. I hope you enjoy these as much as my family does! Happy Sunday!

Cinnamon Roll Cashew Butter (Vegan)

 Whip up this creamy cashew butter that tastes just like a sweet, gooey cinnamon roll for a quick and east sweet tooth fix. Vegan, gluten-free, & paleo-friendly, this recipe is a healthy and cheaper alternative to the store-bought cashew butter. Spread it on toast, melt it in oatmeal, or use is as a dip for fruits, the possibilities are deliciously endless!

Blueberry Pie Protein Bars

 When you don’t want to be tempted with an entire pie or dedicate the time to making homemade pie crust, these little blueberry bars are the perfect treat! Tangy, sweet blueberries are placed on top of a smooth and creamy pie filling, giving these bars a uniquely delicious blueberry pie twist.

Making Life a Little Easier, Nutritious, & Delicious with Kroger

Life goals. That may mean different things to different people. Being an Army wife, mom of two little boys, blogger, recipe creator, photographer, nutritious food devotee, and fitness enthusiast, my personal life goals are being able to successfully manage the important pieces of my life in the best and most efficient way possible. As our goals likely differ in some ways, your time, health, and happiness are essential.

When life shows you intermittent, or more consistent, bursts of chaos, any little thing that helps make living a tiny bit easier is worth its weight in gold. I have found that one of my most difficult tasks involves both going to get fresh, organic groceries for my family and always having enough stocked in the kitchen. Let me be transparent for a second. My husband and I share the same passion to workout and eat healthy. Also, my two little boys love to eat. In case you’re wondering, they all eat A TON of food in a small amount of time. That requires me to go to the grocery store, on average, three times a week.  

And as many of my followers know from my stories and posts on my Instagam page, my family just moved from Kansas to Nashville, TN. My husband is in the Army and transitioning into a new home with two little kids is a daunting task in itself. Considering my stance on eating healthy and organic, one of the first things I look for when we move to a new city is a reputable grocery store. There are Kroger grocery stores everywhere in Nashville, and with past experiences shopping here, I instantly felt at ease. It gets better. Kroger's online shopping experience, ClickList, offers same day pickup and is incredibly convenient and an easy way to get your groceries (Available at select locations, but growing, growing, growing!) For me, this is a game changer in the way I will now grocery shop. I’ve used it and love how convenient it is. I can scroll through their abundant selection of groceries online, select what I need, purchase them online, and then pick them up at a Kroger of my choice. They will have your order packed and ready to deliver right to your vehicle at a time you select. Items you routinely buy will pop up, creating an easy way to remember what you need to get. Kroger’s ClickList will also recommend products based on your past orders. Did I already say it gets better? Well, it continues. Kroger’s brand of Simple Truth Organic fulfills my goal of providing my family with wholesome, organic foods. They have a wide variety of organic products, from fruits and vegetables to dairy and frozen treats.

Remember when I briefly talked about life goals at the beginning? Joanna Gaines, who many people know, and if you don’t you should check her out, is life goals of all the life goals. She is a wife, a mom of five beautiful children, entrepreneur, cook, designer, decorator, and owner of countless, successful businesses. When I watch her show Fixer Upper, I get all the good feels from her. I’m going to let you in on a little secret that I am so excited to share. Her new cookbook (yes, add that to her list of amazingness) Magnolia Table is now sold at Kroger! Guess who bought it? Mmmmmhmmm. That would be me. 

Y’all. Let me make this clear. I have only been in Nashville for less than two weeks. I went to get her cookbook the second day I was here and made the Peach Caprese.  I have a feeling this dish will be one of my favorite recipes in the book. Here’s one of the best parts, aside from the deliciousness of the recipe.

While in the past I would be scrambling around trying to find a piece of paper and pen to make a grocery list, or unpacking all of the boxes to find a phone charger to charge my phone long enough to last me making a grocery list and then using it in the store before it died (remember, I just moved and Army packers…. let’s just say I have found a can opener in a box of bathroom toiletries), I can now order online, at home, with just a few clicks, then pick my order up at a time that is convenient for me. My past thoughts on getting food in the new house was stressful because it took forever to actually think of what to get and my brain (actually, my “mommy and moving brain” – yes, everyone, it’s real and in full effect) is always at max capacity these days.  Fortunately, this move to Nashville gave me the option to use Kroger’s ClickList. And as I said before, little things that make life a tiny bit easier are worth their weight in gold.

While looking through Joanna Gaines’s cookbook Magnolia Table, I thought all of the recipes sounded delicious. I decided to make the Peach Caprese because I wanted something quick, healthy, kid-friendly, and delicious. It pleased me that I chose this particular one because it was everything I hoped for. I obviously doubled the recipe because my family consists of 3 males. My entire family loved it and, even though I doubled it, it didn't last long.

However, to be honest, it was tough to decide which recipe to make. There are SO MANY that are hard to pass up. I had 8 saved that I wanted to make in one day. While these tips and tools I've discussed do make the buying and cooking process quicker and easier, I think it's fair to say 8 recipes in one day might be setting my bar too high :) I will most definitely be trying the other few very soon!

No matter what stage of life you are in right now, you have times when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or worn down. I know how that feels and I'm right there with you. I truly believe if there are little pieces here and there that can easily help us manage our time better, no matter how small, it is a step in the right direction. If any mom is reading this, as I hope to reach many of you, keep hanging in there! You are all doing a perfect job for your family. Thank you for all the support you've shows me over the years and I sure hope this sponsored post can shed some light on the ease of using Kroger's ClickList and the quality of ingredients, especially their Simple Truth Organic line, Kroger Grocery Stores provide. Talking to wives, moms, friends, and family, there seems to be a common theme revolving around meal prep, and that is we feel intimidated, overwhelmed, and defeated at times. My new common theme with meal prep will now be exciting, easy, manageable, and delicious (courtesy of Magnolia Table and Kroger’s ClickList, of course!).Who's with me!?


Also, I am hosting a giveaway on my Instagram page @njstramfam (<--- click here)
Four lucky winners will receive a free copy of Joanna Gaines’s Magnolia Table cookbook, courtesy of Kroger. Be sure to check it out and follow the rules to enter to win!

Links to Kroger social media platforms:

Chocolate Cake Protein Fudge

 This is for all of you chocolate-lover non-bakers out there – well, bakers will love this tasty treat, too. A no-bake, silky smooth piece of fudge that tastes just like a piece of rich chocolate birthday cake. Add the sprinkles because this is a reason to celebrate!