Category Archives: Family

Marty’s Healthy Muffins

Usually when I talk about family recipes, I’m talking about ones from my side of the family simply because I learned most of what I know about cooking from my mom, my mom’s parents, and years of trial and error. But every now and then I’ll realize there is something missing in my repertoire thanks to my mother-in-law.

rach and marty

For example, she taught me to stop being afraid to cook fish. And she also introduced me to Jiffy cornbread. Which isn’t a family recipe or anything, but I always thought that I didn’t like cornbread until I tried Jiffy. Mmm!

toph and marty

And over the past few months she has been making the most delicious muffins every time we visit. Even when I was feeling especially sick, Baby Girl has loved these health-ified muffins so we’ve been making them at home as well.

Marty's Healthy Muffins (3)

Marty’s Healthy Muffins


3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 tbsp granulated Stevia (I’ve discovered that the sweetness of granulated Stevia differs from brand to brand so you may have to try more or less)
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup blueberries OR 60% Cocoa Chocolate Chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl mash bananas and mix in Stevia. Add beaten egg, vanilla, and applesauce and mix together.

2. In a separate small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

3. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and mix until just combined. Pour into prepared muffin tins (either use non-stick spray or muffin liners).

4. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top. Makes a dozen delicious muffins.

Marty's Healthy Muffins (1)Made with chocolate chips!

Marty's Healthy Muffins (2)Made with blueberries!

Marty's Healthy Muffins (4)Covered in butter and served with a glass of unsweetened almond milk – my fav!

The first time Marty made these for us at Christmas, I literally ate 8 of the 12 muffins she made over just a couple of days. Baby Girl had not been impressed with many of the foods I had been trying to feed her so this was a huge win for me (I had been losing weight at that point). Since then I’ve continued to love these and so has Christopher! They are moist and sweet without being laden with sugar and butter (well, except for the butter that I slather on the muffin just before eating, ha!). Served with a glass of almond milk, they have become my favorite snack when we visit my mother-in-law!

Love Rach


Comfort Food: Chicken & Dumplings

This week I have been craving comfort food. So I decided to make one of my favorites. My grandmother’s Chicken and Dumplings recipe. Not only did she make this often when we visited, but my mom made it at home as well while I was growing up. So to me, it tastes like home feels.


I learned so much about cooking from time in the kitchen with my grandmother. And to this day some of my favorite made-from-scratch recipes are recipes I learned from her and my mom. Including chicken & dumplings.

chicken and dumplings2.jpg

I know a lot of people like the biscuit dropping method of dumplings, but I grew up on the shortening ones that you roll out. It’s a little more work, but so very worth it.

chicken and dumplings.jpg

Momma Billie’s Chicken & Dumplings


3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
10 cups of water
1 tsp sage
½ tsp salt

3 cups flour
½ tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup – 3/4 cup water

4 chicken bouillon cubes
3 drops yellow food coloring


1. Stew chicken in the water in a large pot. Season water with sage and salt while cooking.

2. While chicken is cooking, whisk together flour and salt. Using a dough blender, cut in shortening until evenly distributed into flour mixture. Add water, beginning with just 1/2 cup adding more as needed, and mix until it forms a dough (consistency of pie crust). Divide dough in half; refrigerate second half.

3. Roll dough out on a cutting board covered with a generous amount of flour. Cut dough into thin strips (about 1″). Place strips on a plate. Do the same with the refrigerated second half of dough.

4. Remove chicken from broth. Add chicken bouillon cubes to broth and a few drops of yellow food coloring for eye appeal and bring to boil. Drop dough one piece at a time into boiling broth. Press them down into broth if necessary. Reduce heat and simmer. Move dumplings around gently several times as they cook (about 25 minutes).

5. While dumplings are cooking, chop up or shred the chicken. When dumplings are done add chopped chicken back to pot and heat for a minute or two. Salt and pepper to taste.

We don’t make this very often because… well… flour and shortening are two of the main ingredients. Not exactly ideal for this health conscious family. 😉 But some days just call for comfort food. And in times like these, I’m grateful for recipes like this.

What is your favorite comfort food?

Love Rach

My Grandmother’s Blueberry Muffin Recipe

From the time that I was a little girl until I was a college student, whenever I visited my mom’s parents there were a few things I could always expect. Normal things like warm hugs, laughter, and love, of course. But other constants as well.

with MB and DK(with my grandparents when I was a teenager)

For example, I could always count on my grandfather to offer a hair cut or trim if I wanted one (he was a barber and the only one who cut my hair until just a couple of years ago).

I could always count on him to make as many eggs as I wanted prepared any way I’d like (this was my favorite as a kid and I often ate half a dozen eggs for breakfast at their house – jokes were made about my future cholesterol, but I’ll have you know it’s still perfect today 😉 ).

And I could always count on waking up in the morning to the aroma of freshly baked blueberry muffins. From the time I was a small child, that was the first thing that would greet me every morning as I woke up. The warm scent of blueberry muffins wafting back to the bedroom. Eagerly I would bound out of bed and run straight for the kitchen where, without fail, my grandmother would be pulling a fresh batch out of the oven.

with momma billie 1987.jpg(with my grandmother in December 1987 when I was 6 months old)

My grandmother lost her fight with cancer while I was in college. But only after beating the odds for 20 years. There are no words for how grateful I am to have had her in my life for those years. Today I am thinking of her and I wanted to share her blueberry muffin recipe with you guys. 🙂


Momma Billie’s Blueberry Muffins


2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt.

2. In a mixing bowl cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, milk and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in dry ingredients until just moistened.

3. Fill 12 greased muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Every time I bake these and my house is filled with this sweet aroma, I am reminded of my grandmother. I might be a bit biased, but if you are looking for the best blueberry muffin recipe of your life, this is it. 🙂

Were there certain things you could always count on when visiting grandparents/aunts & uncles/etc growing up?

Love Rach

Momma Billie’s Blackberry Cobbler

My sweet friend, DaiYan emailed me yesterday to send me a couple of photos from her visit to our house this past summer. The one of the two of us with the kids I nanny was pretty precious:

us with kidsYuuup, that’s a typical look for me on work days in the summer when we’re not going out anywhere. Tank top, cut off shorts, barefoot, with a toddler on my hip. Which would look pretty normal (since you know, I’m a nanny, haha) if it weren’t for DaiYan being all classy there in her dress and heels, ha! However, I have to say, as much as I like dressing up when we go out, a lax “dress code” is definitely a major plus to the day-to-day nanny life. 😉

So what does any of this have to do with my grandmother’s blackberry cobbler?? Weeeell, while DaiYan was here, my mom and I pulled out my grandmother’s recipe and made it! I completely forgot to blog about it, though! So today I am sharing! 🙂

blackberry cobbler

blackberry cobbler

We tweaked her original recipe just a little because the directions weren’t entirely comprehensive, but it turned out absolutely delicious! So if you’re looking for a solid, old school, full of butter and sugar goodness type of cobbler… here you go! 🙂

– Have you come across any old recipes that you ended up having to tweak because it wasn’t entirely comprehensive? 

– What sort of “dress code” (if any) do you have where you spend most of your days?
Love Rach


Napoli Pizza {Taste of Italy}

Ever since we got back from Italy, Christopher and I have been working on perfecting a pizza like the ones we ate in Naples. We’ve had the recipe at the point we have it now since mid-September, but I’ve put off sharing it because it’s still not exactly right. But since I shared the recipe with family over Christmas and it was a huge hit, I’ve decided to share it with you guys now. For purists, here’s what I think I’m lacking: We don’t have 00 flour so I used All Purpose. I think if I had 00 flour, the texture would be just slightly less chewy. Also, we don’t have a brick oven so we lack the charred bits on the dough that you get in Naples. But other than those two things – this recipe really is almost exactly what it was like in Italy! 🙂

pizza dough recipe {taste of Italy}The pizzas on top were our make-your-own ones that we let family decorate. Some of them are more traditional than others (we didn’t have any pineapple pizza in Italy, haha!). The pizzas on the bottom are the two we ate from Trianon which was our favorite pizza in Italy. 🙂

napoli pizza{click recipe to make it larger. Our starting point for this recipe was the Pizza Pilgrims’ recipe fond here}

pizza3My family decorating pizzas behind me while I’m about to put mine in! 🙂

I knew the adults would like them, but I figured the kids wouldn’t like the pizzas since they are so different than American-style pizza, but they loved them and ate every bite! So a definite hit with my family! And when Christopher and I are missing Italy, these pizzas are a great little reminder of our time there. 🙂
Love Rach

Welcoming November with Recipes!

Well, it’s officially November! I say this pretty much all the time, but it’s hard to believe how quickly time flies! Next thing you know, CHRISTMAS will be here! 😀 But I know some of you don’t like to talk about Christmas until after Thanksgiving so I will do my best to restrain myself. 😉 Anyway, to welcome the chillier months, I thought I’d share a couple of things I’ve been cooking lately!

veggie soup

veggie soupThis is my mom’s vegetable soup recipe! It’s a great base recipe that is meant for adjustment. Veggie soup is all about using up whatever vegetables you happen to have on hand. So this time around, I used carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, and lima beans because that’s what I had. Also, I’m not one who has to have meat in my veggie soup, but Christopher loves it so I cooked up the rest of a half pound of ground beef that I had leftover and put it in this soup. But again, super adaptable – use stew meat or ground beef or none! 🙂

pork and rice (4)

pork and riceI had to ask my mom about the history of this recipe because I’ve never heard of it outside our family. Here’s what she had to say, “[Pork and rice is] something mother concocted when I was growing up. It was a way for a cheaper piece of meat to go further when feeding the family. Rice has always been pretty cheap too. After all, Daddy was a barber in the 60’s when men/boys began to ‘let their hair hang down.’ The late 60s and 70s were a lean time in our family.” So since my mom grew up eating it, she made it for us when we were growing up too. Truly comfort food at its finest. Our first year of marriage, we probably ate this nearly once a week just because it really is such an inexpensive meal (and so good!). We don’t eat it as often now, but every time I make it, there is an audible sigh of joy with my first bite (much like with chicken ‘n dumplin’s).

momma billie and daddy kenA shot of my mom’s parents in the mid 1970s. Aren’t they a handsome couple? 🙂

double banana bread (2)

double banana breadI got this recipe from Christina over at Hungry Meets Healthy. I tweaked it just a little (more vanilla and cinnamon, less sugar), so for the original recipe go here! This bread is absolutely delightful! Fresh from the oven with a little melted butter… delightful!

Typing up this post is making me all kinds of hungry for comfort food. We had chicken ‘n dumplin’s earlier this week and it was THE BEST. I love to cook and try new things, but there’s nothing like those tried and true favorite family recipes. 🙂
Love Rach

The Best Cinnamon Rolls I’ve Ever Eaten

Jayda over at Avocado Grove made the most amazing looking cinnamon rolls a couple of weeks ago. As soon as I saw them, I knew I needed to make them. So that very weekend I baked up a batch! My parents-in-law were in town and we all loved them. In fact, even my mother-in-law who seldom has seconds of anything took a second cinnamon roll. They are just that good. I made them again for breakfast today because my parents are in town and they were a winner again so I decided it was time to share the recipe! The original recipe comes from, but I had to adapt it a bit to make it more Rach-friendly (aka I cut the brown sugar in half, used almond milk instead of regular, and nixed the pecans ’cause I don’t like nuts in baked goods). I don’t just love the texture of super sticky things, but if you do then you should stick to the original recipe.

As a side note, both times I made these, I made them the night before and let them do their second rise in the fridge overnight. They turned out perfectly. I didn’t want to wake up 3 hours early just to make cinnamon rolls so this is a great way to do all the work the night before! However, if you have some time and don’t want to make them from start to finish in the morning, be sure to use the directions from the original recipe. 🙂

cinnamon rolls

cinnamon rolls{click on recipe card to be able to zoom up on it}

cinnamon rollsThe cinnamon roll on the left has some of the brown sugar/butter drippings from the pan drizzled on top and the cinnamon roll on the right has the icing on top (as mentioned in the recipe). This morning I ate mine straight from the pan without any extra sugary topping. SO great!

I have had some great cinnamon rolls in my life, but these are hands down my favorite. My mom even said that she would say these are as good as her recipe (which is high praise!) and even my husband who doesn’t just love cinnamon rolls, enjoyed these. He says they are the best he’s ever had. Granted, his were drenched in icing so that could be part of his love for them. A little pure sugar to start off his morning. 😉 Anyway, you should make these. They are fabulous. 😀
Love Rach