July 29, 2016

Start the Morning Off Right with Balance Bars and a Banana Cream Pie Smoothie!

How do you start your morning? If you're like me you are running around getting the kids cereal, letting the dog out, packing lunches, taking a 30 second shower, rummaging through the dryer for a clean shirt, and getting the kids dressed {plus about 20 other things}. All the morning chaos doesn't leave much time for a nutritious sit down breakfast. This is why I keep boxes stocked with Balance Bars right by my purse. I toss a couple in my bag before I leave and I know I have a delicious {and decadent} snack, packed with fiber and vitamins, that will give me the energy I need to get through my busy day. 

A Balance Bar is just what I need to start my morning off right!
When I have a extra moment, I try to make a smoothie to take with me on those hectic mornings too. My favorite lately is anything with frozen bananas. I created a Banana Cream Pie Smoothie this week that was not only a winner in my book but a hit with the kiddos! Even better it requires only four ingredients and takes literally 30 seconds to make! Listen y'all after a hearty smoothie and a smartly indulgent Balance Bar, I am ready to conquer the day! 

Scroll down for the recipe.


I was stoked to try the new flavors Balance just introduced. Dark Chocolate Pecan Turtle was my favorite but they also have three other new flavors packed with energizing ingredients. Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat, Chocolate Peppermint Patty, and Dulce De Leche & Caramel are all 190 calories or less, contain 5-7 grams of protein and 5-6 grams of fiber. Get this guys, for the first time ever, Balance is now also offering single mini bars!
You can purchase Balance Bars at CVS, Amazon.com and select Walmart stores nationwide.

Connect with Balance



Banana Cream Pie Smoothie

Ingredients:

Makes 1 large smoothie
  • 1 large frozen banana, sliced
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 6oz containers Banana Cream Pie yogurt {or Banana flavored is good too}
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • optional garnish: additional shredded coconut and 2 banana slices

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients together in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a large glass.
  3. Add additional shredded coconut and a couple banana slices on top.
  4. Pop in a straw and sip away!


Frozen fruit is the secret to a great smoothie- no ice!
I cut up my fruit the night before and place in individual baggies in the freezer.
Then I can just grab what I need in the morning and I am good to go!
This smoothie uses on sliced frozen banana.
I love that this smoothie only has four simple ingredients! 
I use two containers of Banana Cream Pie Yogurt but if you cannot find that try
 Banana yogurt or even Vanilla instead. Pour right into the blender.
I love the flavor of coconut and thought it would be a tasty addition to my smoothie.
Add 1/4 cup to the blender and save another tbsp or so for garnishing at the end. 
The last ingredient is 1 cup of milk. Pour right in.
Add the lid and blend until smooth.
All blended and ready to go!
Pour into a large glass.
Garnish with shredded coconut and a couple banana slices.
Grab your Banana Cream Pie Smoothie and throw a few nutritious and decadent Balance Bars in your bag and you'll be ready to conquer the day!

About Balance

Founded in 1992, Balance Bar®, one of America's original nutrition/energy bars, offers the right ratio of ingredients and nutrients that are formulated to help keep you in balance, delivering the nutritional benefits to help you enjoy today while looking out for tomorrow. For more information on Balance Bar products, visit www.BalanceBar.com. Follow Balance Bar® for tips and nutritional information on Facebook® (www.facebook.com/BalanceBar), Twitter® (www.twitter.com/BalanceBar) and Pinterest (www.Pinterest.com/BalanceBar).
I am being compensated by Balance for my participation in this campaign. As part of the Mom It Forward Blogger Network, I agree to use this product and post my honest
opinion on my blog. The opinions posted are my own.


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July 24, 2016

Chicken & Andouille Sausage Gumbo from L’Auberge Baton Rouge

Every now and then you eat a dish at a local restaurant that is so good you can't stop thinking and talking about it {to just about anyone who will listen}. My family and I enjoyed a delicious Cajun inspired meal at Stadium Sports Bar and Grill on our first night in Baton Rouge. We ordered a assortment of mouthwatering entrees including BBQ Shrimp, PoBoys, and Stuffed Pork Chops but the dish we all went ga-ga over was the Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. Now this wasn't just any gumbo, y'all. This gumbo was filled to the brim with sauteed veggies, tender chicken, and spicy sausage floating in a rich and smoky broth. We literally, no shame, licked the bowl clean and debated on ordering more. So naturally I had to ask the chef at L'Auberge for his recipe and lucky me {and you} he kindly shared. Make this recipe for dinner tonight and I bet you will lick the bowl clean too.
 
Stay tuned this week for my review of Stadium at L'Auberge Casino
 along with a local shirt giveaway. 

Ingredients:

Makes 8-10 servings
  • Whole Chicken, excess fat/backbone removed, quartered
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 lb Smoked Andouille sausage, chopped 
  • 1 large yellow onion , chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped 
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 7 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 12oz bottle Abita Amber beer
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 4 tsp creole seasoning {I use Tony Cachere's}
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup green onion
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • salt/black pepper, to taste
  • green onions, diced for garnish
  • cooked white rice, for serving

Directions:

  1. Heat a large heavy pot over medium high heat until hot, about 3 minutes. 
  2. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. 
  3. Add to pot, skin side down, and sear until golden brown, about 8 minutes, then transfer to plate.
  4. Add vegetable oil, then flour, to drippings in pot. Stir with a wooden spoon to blend well.
  5. Reduce heat to medium and stir constantly until roux is formed chocolate-brown color. About 25 minutes.
  6. Add sausage, chopped onions, celery, bell peppers, and garlic to roux and cook until vegetables are soft, stirring frequently about 4 minutes. 
  7. Add beer and stir to blend.
  8. Add chicken broth, creole seasoning, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, cayenne pepper and approx 2 tsp salt. Stir well to blend.
  9. Return chicken pieces to pot, increase heat and bring up to a boil. 
  10. Reduce heat to medium low, simmer uncovered until chicken is tender, skimming foam from surface and stirring occasionally, about 1 ½ hours.
  11. Using tongs, transfer chicken to plate, cool until easy to handle, about 20 minutes. 
  12. Remove meat from bones; discard bones and skin. Cut meat into 1 inch pieces. 
  13. Spoon fat off of top of gumbo. 
  14. Return meat to gumbo.
  15.  Season with salt and pepper.
  16. Serve with Louisiana rice and top with green onions. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from L’Auberge Baton Rouge.
Start with a whole chicken. I bought mine whole
 and trimmed and cut it into quarters.
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
Heat a large heavy pot over medium high heat until hot.
Add chicken to the pot, skin side down.

Sear until golden brown,
about 8 minutes, then transfer to plate.

Depending on how much drippings you have in the pot, adjust the amount of oil you add. The original recipe said 1/4 cup. I added 1/2 cup oil.

Add vegetable oil, then flour, to drippings in pot.

 Stir with a wooden spoon to blend well.

Reduce heat to medium and stir constantly until roux is formed chocolate-brown color.
About 25 minutes.
This recipe uses Andouille sausage.
It is a smoked pork sausage popular in Louisiana Cajun dishes.
Chop up the sausage into bite size pieces.

When making a detailed recipe like this I always prep everything ahead of time so it is ready to be tossed right in. I promise this saves you so much time and stress later when you are cooking!
Add sausage, chopped onions, celery, bell peppers, and garlic to the roux.

Cook until vegetables are soft, stirring frequently about 4 minutes.
Local beer is the best, in my opinion and Abita Beer is the most well known here in Louisiana.
For this recipe, use a bottle of Amber Abita beer. 
Add beer and stir to blend.
Creole seasoning is recommended. I always use Tony Chachere's.
Pour in chicken broth.
 Now add creole seasoning, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, cayenne pepper and approx 2 tsp salt.
Stir well to blend.
Return chicken pieces to pot, increase heat and bring up to a boil. 
Reduce heat to medium low, simmer uncovered until chicken is tender, 
skimming foam from surface and stirring occasionally, about 1 ½ hours.
Using tongs, transfer chicken to plate, cool until easy to handle, about 20 minutes.
Remove meat from bones; discard bones and skin. Cut meat into 1 inch pieces.
Spoon fat off of top of gumbo and return meat to gumbo.
 Season with salt and pepper and you are ready to serve.
To serve: I start with a large scoop of cooked rice in a large bowl.
Now ladle in lots of chunky, hearty, gumbo.
Garnish with green onions and dig in!
Now let me tell y'all I have lived in Louisiana for about five years now and I have tried many, many different gumbos. This, my friends, is the BEST. Make it tonight. Thank me tomorrow! 


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