Bacon Wrapped Jalepeño Poppers

By contributing writer Tessa

We have loved jalapeño poppers in our household for years!  They make a great appetizer or a fun football snack.  Everyone always loves these – it’s just an added bonus they are free of gluten and all grains!

Jalapeño poppers make a great appetizer or a fun football snack. Everyone always loves these. They just happen to be gluten free and grain free.

There is a lot of room for creativity with this recipe.  I have shared our most frequently used recipe, but if your family is not huge on spice, then make this a bubbly hot dip to be served with fresh vegetables, crackers, or bread chunks!  The bacon can be wrapped around the poppers or cooked and chopped and then mixed into the cheese filling.

And if you are dairy free, I have even made these with a cashew cream cheese and Daiya cheese shreds!

However you make them, enjoy some popper amazingness!

Jalapeño poppers make a great appetizer or a fun football snack. Everyone always loves these. They just happen to be gluten free and grain free.

Bacon Wrapped Jalepeño Poppers
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 12 jalapeños, seeded and halved lengthwise
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (low fat is fine, not fat free)
  • 4 ounces grated sharp flavored cheese (play with the varieties)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeños (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
  • 12 thin slices favorite bacon, cut in half lengthwise*
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. In the bowl of your mixer, mix the cream cheese, cheese, jalapenos, and garlic until well blended.
  3. Take approximately 2 teaspoons of filling and stuff the jalapeno halves.
  4. If you are wrapping the bacon, take a half strip and wrap around each pepper. I often do not need the whole slice and will tear off the extra to use on the next.
  5. Place poppers on a cookie sheet and bake for about 25 minutes until bacon is crispy.
Notes
*If your slices are too thick, they will not crisp up in the oven in the allotted time. You can try par-cooking them first, or just crisp them up, chop them, and mix into the cheese mixture.

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How to Reduce Spending and Tighten the Budget

When you see your bank statement and realize how much money you spent, it can be earth shattering. Learning how to reduce spending and tighten that budget is possible, if you have the right tips. Slowing down your spending is a matter of determination and finding a formula that works for you.

Learning how to reduce spending and tighten that budget is possible, if you have the right tips and find a formula that works for you.

Get everyone on the same page

The first step to reduce family spending is to get everyone on the same page. Also known as having that awkward money conversation with your spouse (and with older kids in the house, if they are aware of what’s going on). By getting the whole family on board, you are going to see success sooner.

Cut out extracurricular activities

This one is going to be painful, but it is worth it. If you can’t afford to pay your bills at the moment, then something has got to go. Usually the first thing to go are extracurricular activities. If your kids are old enough to pitch in and help pay, great. If not, it might hurt a little bit, but you have to get that budget under control. You can’t get it under control if spending is over the top.

Know what you are spending

Most people don’t keep track of their spending because they don’t want to know. The only way you will ever reduce spending in your family and tighten the budget is if you know what is going out. You can easily reduce spending by keeping track of your bad spending habits. Buying coffee, going out to eat, trips to Target – it all needs to be documented. It is going to hurt knowing the truth, but it will be worth it.

Work on getting rid of debt

I have noticed in our family that debt really hurts our overall budget. When I take time to look at our debt and figure out a way to reduce it, things look better. Credit card debt, medical debt, and vehicle debt can weigh your family down financially. Working on getting rid of debt can help you reduce spending and tighten the budget.

Stay organized in your finances

Last, but not least, you need to stay organized when it comes to your finances. Organization is the key to reducing family spending. Keeping track of finances, keeping track of the budget, and executing your financial plan are all parts of staying organized in the finance department.

How do you plan on reducing family spending this year? How do you plan on tightening your budget? Share your tips below!

More budgeting tips

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Sweet Potato and Turkey Chili

Sweet potato and carrots are added to this turkey chili for a delicious dinner that fills you, warms you, and sticks with you on a cold evening.

Sweet potato and carrots are added to this turkey chili for a great variation on a classic meal. Chili is a delicious dinner that fills you, warms you, and sticks with you on a cold evening.

This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled it to meet your family’s needs.

Sweet Potato and Turkey Chili
Serves: 2 - 3
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • ½ cup cooked pinto beans
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • ¼ cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 sweet potato, cooked
  • 2 cilantro sprigs to garnish
Instructions
  1. Combine the onion, garlic, and all seasonings. Sauté mix in a large sauce pan.
  2. Add in the turkey. When it starts browning, add in the pinto beans.
  3. Turn heat down and add in the carrots and tomatoes. Let simmer for 25 minutes.
  4. Cut one half of the sweet potato into cubes and cut the other half into spirals. Place on top of chili along with cilantro sprigs to garnish.

Sweet potato and carrots are added to this turkey chili for a delicious dinner that fills you, warms you, and sticks with you on a cold evening.

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Chocolate Cake Doughnuts

Who doesn't love chocolate and doughnuts? These Chocolate Cake Doughnuts are a perfect combination of the two well loved foods. They would be a great treat to make for your family.

Who doesn’t love chocolate and doughnuts? These Chocolate Cake Doughnuts are a perfect combination of the two well loved foods. They would be a great treat to make for your family.

Chocolate Cake Doughnuts
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
For the donuts
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 ½ tablespoons warm butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1½ cups sour cream
  • 2 cups oil for frying
  • Chocolate shavings for garnishing
For the glaze
  • 1 cups milk
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ cup melted chocolate
Instructions
  1. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder together. Whisk in the salt and sift.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar, butter, and eggs on high speed for 2 - 3 minutes.
  3. Add in the sour cream and water and continue mixing on medium speed until well blended and smooth.
  4. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.
  5. Cut a large piece of plastic wrap. Transfer the dough to the plastic wrap, cover, and refrigerate for one hour.
  6. Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Place the dough on the floured surface and roll it out ½ inch thick.
  7. Use a round 3-inch cookie cutter to cut the doughnuts and a ¼ inch cutter to make the holes. Place the doughnuts on a 16-inch cookie sheet. Cover and refrigerate for another 30 minutes.
  8. Pour oil into a deep fryer and heat to 360 degrees.
  9. Place 2 - 3 donuts at a time in the fryer and cook until both sides are golden brown.
  10. In a small pot, whisk together the milk, powdered sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Add in the melted chocolate. Heat.
  11. Dip the tops of the donuts inside the glaze and garnish with extra chocolate shavings.
Notes
For a richer chocolate flavor substitute cocoa powder with fudge.

 

Who doesn't love chocolate and doughnuts? These Chocolate Cake Doughnuts are a perfect combination of the two well loved foods. They would be a great treat to make for your family.

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Paleo Boot Tracks Cookies

By contributing writer Tessa

Years ago I discovered the creative idea of boot tracks cookies in a magazine, and I used the recipe for years. It is a really fun and easy Christmas cookie that I have modified to be paleo.

These paleo boot tracks cookies are really fun and easy for Christmas. The picture of boot tracks in the snow makes for a festive and unique cookie.

All my favorite recipes of the past have to be modified for our preferences today. These paleo boot tracks cookies are kid pleasers because the whole picture of boot tracks in the snow makes for a festive and unique cookie.

Even better, with no oven, these are a snap to throw together and serve in under 10 minutes. My kids love sprinkling the “snow” over the top, but it is totally optional. You could also drizzle melted dark chocolate or white chocolate (or both!)

These paleo boot tracks cookies are really fun and easy for Christmas. The picture of boot tracks in the snow makes for a festive and unique cookie.

Paleo 'Boot Tracks' Cookies
Serves: 30
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter (coconut oil should work well too)
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar (I used palm sugar, may use part stevia too)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil (this prevents the cookies from sticking to the iron)
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ cup almond flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat a waffle iron.
  2. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy.
  3. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, and oil.
  4. With the mixer still running, sprinkle in the sea salt, followed by the three remaining ingredients.
  5. You may stir in some white or dark chocolate chips if desired.
  6. Drop about 2 teaspoons of thick batter into each waffle segment (ungreased). Cook for about 1 minute until set.
  7. Remove with a fork to a cooling rack and continue until the batter is gone.
  8. Drizzle with melted white or dark chocolate OR sift some powdered sugar over the top to look like snow!

You might also like these cookies…

Visit our Recipe Index for more ideas or check out more recipes from Tessa.

 

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JWU: Experience Your Future Now

When my oldest went to college we only visited one school. Looking back I wish we would have visited and applied to more schools because the school she ended up attending was not the best fit.

With my sixteen year old, we’ve already started discussing college options. Here are some of things things we are discussing in our family and I think every family should discuss.

  • Does this school have a strong program for your child’s intended major?
  • Is your child looking to attend a large university or have a smaller more personal experience?
  • Is your child involved in an extracurricular activity and is that offered at potential schools?
  • Can we afford it?
  • What are their financial aid and scholarship options?
  • Will your child be able to live on campus?

Last month we were able to visit Johnson & Wales University in North Miami. Before being asked to tour the campus, I had never heard of this school. That made me realize that there are probably many great schools all around me that I haven’t even considered. Since my children have grown up with a nontraditional education model (primarily homeschool and university model schools) sometimes these smaller private schools end up being a great fit.

This JWU campus offers majors in Culinary Arts, Entrepreneurship, Fashion Merchandising & Retailing, Hotel & Lodging Management, Business & Marketing, Restaurant, Food & Beverage Management, Sports/Entertainment/Event Management, Tourism & Hospitality Management, and several more. They will even offer Software Engineering and a master’s degree in business administration beginning in fall 2017!

jwu-wildcat

Living in Florida it was exciting to visit a university that has so many opportunities for kids in our tourism driven economy.

Our tour started in their culinary department and by the time we walked out of the building I was ready to go back to college!

jwu-culinary

JWU’s College of Culinary Arts has multiple technologically advanced kitchens to give students the opportunity to work and learn in a variety of environments. They also have gardens behind the building where they grow many of the fruits and vegetables used in the kitchen. They hope to eventually expand the program so that the college can grow much of the food that is used in the culinary classes.

jwu-garden

They don’t waste any of the food that is prepared by the students. Much of the food produced in the culinary labs is donated to local charities and they even have a program for local elementary aged students to come and participate in a cooking class as a reward for perfect attendance.

My son and I were truly blown away by the talent displayed in the culinary department. These flowers (made from gum paste) were one example of what students are learning to create in class. In every department we visited on campus you could tell the students took pride in their coursework.

These flowers are edible and made of out gum paste!

These flowers are edible and made of out gum paste!

We then moved on to the library and computer lab area. Their computer lab is open 24 hours which is great for all the night owls, and students are able to print for free.

jwu-computer-lab

For a small university the library was very large. It even has a large collection of movies and students can request a movie that is not currently in stock.

While we were visiting the library, they had cakes on display from the baking and pastry arts students that were all literary themed. I was impressed (and hungry)!

jwu-pastry-program-curious-george-cake

We then visited the fashion merchandising & retailing department. One aspect of JWU that really impressed me throughout our tour was that classrooms were not set up like traditional classrooms. One classroom was set up like a boutique, complete with racks of clothing, mannequins, floor sets, and more.

jwu-retail-management

Another classroom was set up like a hotel lobby. The culinary department had a small restaurant and bar set up in one of the spaces.

jwu-hotel-management

This real-world approach to learning is something I really appreciate. I feel like many times a young adult graduates from college and has a lot of book knowledge, but little real world application. JWU seems to turn traditional learning on its head. Not only are classrooms nontraditional, students have the option to start their freshmen year taking some of their major courses instead of waiting until their third year to begin core classes. Students are able to quickly determine if a major is a good fit for them, and they are excited about their major from day one instead of wading through two years of humanities and college algebra to get to what they are interested in. These core subjects are woven in throughout the four years, which is a great idea.

Restaurant set up inside the culinary department.

Restaurant set up inside the culinary department.

Another great feature of JWU is their entrepreneurship lab. This is a place where students can come work on their business ideas, brainstorm, and get advice from other successful entrepreneurs. Every year they hold a “Sharkfest” competition where students compete to earn seed money for their businesses.

3-D Printer in the Entrepreneurship Lab

3-D Printer in the Entrepreneurship Lab

The walls of the entrepreneurship lab are all painted with white board paint, which was another great feature. As someone who loves to brainstorm and is a visual learner, this is a great way for students to develop their business ideas. We even got to leave messages on the white board for the students.

white-board

The student body is diverse and everyone we met during our tour were friendly and excited to talk about their experience at the university. It was especially fun seeing college students interact with the elementary children during their field trip.

Overall, our visit to JWU was a great one. The nontraditional learning environment is something I’m passionate about with my own children and it’s great to see it at the university level.

jwu-aca

If you’d like to learn more about JWU and its nontraditional approach to learning you can visit their website, and connect with them on Facebook , Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. In addition to their Miami campus they have campuses in Rhode Island, Denver, Charlotte and online.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Johnson & Wales University. The opinions and text are all mine.

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