Thursday, October 30, 2008

No Bake Granola Bars

My kids enjoy these and they are great to make together with your kids. You can do raisins or even mini chocolate chips.

No-Bake Granola Bars

8 min 8 min prep
24 bars

2 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal
2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup peanut
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. In large bowl, combine cereal, rolled oats and raisins; set aside.
  2. In small saucepan, combine brown sugar and corn syrup.
  3. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  4. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla; blend until smooth.
  5. Pour over cereal mixture; mix well.
  6. Press into ungreased 13"x 9" pan.
  7. Cool; cut into 24 bars.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Chardonnay Chicken

This is a great dish for the family or even adult company. You can even get it all together in advance and then just pop it in the oven. It looks fancy but is really easy and almost a one pan meal. It can be served over rice.
I also added some mushrooms to my onions when I was cooking them and did not do the almonds this time.

Chardonnay Chicken
¼ cup butter or margarine
6 chicken breast halves, skinned and boned
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1¼ cups Chardonnay White Wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 (3 oz.) package cream cheese
½ cup sliced natural almonds, toasted

  1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add chicken, and cook 5 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chicken from skillet, put pan aside with the reserve; place chicken in a 2-quart casserole. Set aside.
  3. Sautee onion and garlic in the pan with the reserve until the onions are tender.
  4. Add flour , stirring until smooth.
  5. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  6. Gradually add wine and broth; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly , until mixture is thickened and bubbly.
  7. Add cream cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Remove from heat.
  8. Spoon cream cheese mixture over chicken.

TO STORE: Cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours.

TO SERVE AFTER STORING: Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Yield: 4-6 servings

Sneaking vegetables in

My 4yo son hates all veggies, luckily he likes some fruits but I like him to have some veggies so being the mean mom I sneak them in. He is very picky and will not even try anything that looks or smells weird or may have a different texture. So I consider a recipe a success when he eats it, veggies and all without giving me a hard time. I made these both yesterday and everyone liked them.

Cheesesteak Manicotti

I usually follow a low carb diet but you can also easily make this recipe with pasta shells stuffed with the filling. I also added in some minced zucchini to the recipe. I used my mini food processor to get it small so my son would not noticed it. I also added some garlic power and onion powder, salt and pepper to the cheese filling mix for some more flavor. Served with a tossed salad on the side.

*8 Steak-ums/minute steaks
*Ricotti Cheese (15 oz Container)
*1 egg
*2 cups of Shredded Mozzarella cheese
*1/3 cup of Parmesan grated cheese
*1 Tablespoon Dried Parsley flakes
*small pinch of Salt and pepper
*1 Cup of Tomato Sauce

Preheat oven to 350
Fry up the 8 minute steaks flat and let them drain on paper Towels.
In a medium bowl, combine: Ricotta Cheese, egg, Mozzarella Cheese, Parmesan Cheese, Parsley flakes and salt and pepper.
Lay one Steak-um flat. Place about 3 heaping tablespoons of the Filling mixture on one side of the Steak-um. Roll it up.
Place it in a 8X8X2 Glass baking dish.
Repeat until all 8 steak-ums are filled and in the baking dish (you will have leftover filling)
Pour 1 Cup of Tomato Sauce on top of the Casserole.
Cover with Aluminum Foil and bake for about 25 Minutes.
Remove from Oven and let Sit for a few minutes (for the filling to set)
It's now ready to serve

Carrot Pineapple Muffins
Recipe 12 muffins

I use whole wheat flour for this recipe and make them in my muffin top pan. The kids always love them.

1 cup sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil or canola oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated carrots (I chop them in my mini food processor)
1 cup drained crushed pineapple

Stir together sugar and oil.
Stir in the eggs until well combined. Stir in vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. (I always used just one bowl for everything, who needs more dishes to clean?)
Stir into sugar mixture just until combined.
Stir in carrots and pineapple just until combined.
Spoon into greased muffin tin, filling to top.
Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 20 minutes or until done. Cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then remove to a rack to finish cooling

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cold Drinks and Warm food on the go

I was in Target one day and came across these Foogo "bottles". Now mind you they are not what I would consider a bottle but more of a straw cup. I decided to pick up a blue and pink one for my kids and they are the best purchase I have ever made. I was so sick of stopping for drinks/water, or having warm drinks after being out a couple hours with the kids running errands. I fill them up before we leave with water and one-two ice cubes and they are ice cold up to 12 hours later. I was so impressed I bought myself one in a larger size (and more adult print).

I decided to try their food jar and again was so impressed. I could send my daughter a hot lunch that were really hot when lunch time came !!

Thermos makes the Foogo's and also the same under the name "funtainers" that come in barbie, HSM, Hannah Montana, batman, spiderman.

Foogo's also come in a more toddler friendly type cup

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

I made these yesterday with the kids for a snack. They were very tasty and all the kids loved them. The only changes I made were using whole wheat flour and I like to use Smuckers Reduced Sugar Strawberry Jam to cut down on any unnecessary extra sugar (my kids have enough energy )

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

· 1 cup flour
· 1 cup rolled oats
· 1/2 cup butter
, softened
· 1/3 cup light brown sugar
, firmly packed
· 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

· 1/8 teaspoon salt

· 3/4 cup strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a large bowl, mix everything together but the jam.
Measure out 2 cups of this mixture. Leave the rest in the bowl and set aside.
Take the 2 cups of the mixture and press it into the bottom of an 8 inches square pan, coated with cooking spray. Using a large spoon, distribute jam on top of the mixture in the pan. Spread it evenly all over. (I used the squeeze-bottle spread for this and it made this part of the process a lot quicker).
Take the remaining mixture and spread it over the jam. Press down lightly.
Bake 25 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minute before cutting into bars

Some of my favorite things

I have some products I just love that help make cooking easier. Most of these items can be found at Bed, Bath and Beyond (using a 20% coupon of course) or big box stores like Walmart, Kmart

Muffin Top Pan

This is the best for baking kid friendly muffins. The are similar to the shape of cookies, easier for kids to eat and seem to make less crumbs then a traditional muffin. I make muffins often for my kids to pack in their lunch or for after school snacks

Microwave Steamer

This is great for cooking frozen vegetables fast.

Food dicer

I am not the best with a knife. I use this to dice tomato's for salads mostly but it has many other uses, plus it comes with 2 sizes small or large dice.

Ikea shredder

This is a life saver. It has a non skid bottom and come with 2 size shreds, fine or regular. It goes right into the bowl and even come with a storage lid for if you do not use all of whatever you shredded

Steam in bag microwave vegetables

These are the best. They cook right in the bag so it cuts down on extra dishes. I usually just cook them dump them in a bowl, add to salt, pepper and garlic or onion powder. My store (Shop Rite) sells their own brand which are much less expensive ($1.49 each) than the major label brands

Shark Cordless Sweeper

I know this is not a food item but I could not live without my Shark cordless vacuum. This is a must if you have young kids. I only use mine in my kitchen/dining flooring area because it picks up wet and dry food (great for mac and cheese). I use this a couple times a day to pick up all the kid food crumbs

Monday, October 13, 2008

Healthy Halloween Snacks

Last year I organized my daughter class halloween party. Her school has a healthy snack policy so my husband and I made some fun but healthy treats for the party

Carrot Fingers
With a paring knife (a parent's job), cut a flat, shallow notch in the tip of each carrot. Then use a dab of dip or softened cream cheese to glue a sliced-almond fingernail atop each notch

Cracker Spiders (not a good choice if you have a peanut free school)
Here’s what you need to make Cracker Spiders:
Round crackers
Peanut butter
Thin pretzel sticks

1. Spread peanut butter on one side of two Ritz crackers.
2. Break four pretzel sticks in half to create the eight spider legs.
3. Place the eight pretzel sticks in the peanut butter on one cracker to create spider legs.
4. Sandwich the pretzel sticks by placing the second cracker on top with the peanut butter side facing up.
5. Arrange the raisins in the peanut butter of the top cracker to make the spider’s face

Witch Brooms
Cheddar cheese
1 box of thin pretzel sticks

Directions:Cut cheese into triangles that have a two inch base. Stick pretzel stick into each cheese wedge to form the broom handle

Where do I start? The basics

Most mom's I know want to make cooking less stressful for themselves. They just are not sure how. I wanted to share a couple things that have worked for me.

  • Plan in advance.

Usually Friday evenings I go through my recipes and decide what I am going to make each night for the next week. I use a weekly agenda and fill in my "menu" for each night. Of course I try to pick the most easy type of meals for the nights I know we have alot going on. Use your store flyer to see what is on sale make your menu based on sale items.

  • Make a food shopping list

Once you know what you are making for the week make a list of what you need. Before my agenda that I use now I used a large index card (basic but works well)for my menu and shopping list. One side was my menu and the other what I needed from the store to make all my meals for the week plus anything else I needed. Post it on your fridge and that way you can add to it if you run out if anything and it also helps to see what meal is coming up and what you may need to defrost meat wise for the upcoming meals that week. Having a list also helps to control impulse or unnecessary buys.

If you would like a copy of my agenda email me and I will email you a copy.

  • Shop only 1 time per week.

I know too many mom's who are always running to the food store. This not only wastes time but money. When you do not plan in advance you end up buying usually food that is not on sale and not using coupons. I food shop one day a week ALONE with no one to distract me. I buy everything I need for my dinner meals, school lunches, snacks, milk, bread. If I forget to buy something it goes on the list for the next week.

  • Getting it all together

Who say's you have to start making dinner at 5pm? When my kids still napped I would always get dinner "prepped" why they napped (chopping, pre cooking). Now I usually start when the kids are eating their after school snack at 3:30 getting things together for dinner. Use a crockpot for all in one meals (great for working parents). If your kids are older get them to help make dinner and spend some time together making a family meal. Grill during nice weather. Make a casserole the night before so you just have to throw it in the oven when you get home.

  • Cook Healthy

Growing up my mom cooked 6 nights a week, the last night was "leftover night" when we ate everything left from the previous 6 days meals. The meals my mom made always included a entree (meat, fish, seafood), starch and a vegetable. I try to do the same with my family. With organization you can make more from scratch instead of a boxed, frozen or takeout meal. I also try to make healthy snacks for my kids. I do not keep unhealthy, sugary snacks in the house that way it is not an option for them.

  • Shop Smart

Every family should have a food budget. Using coupons, shopping the sales and stocking up when things are on sale that you usually use help stay on budget. I buy meats in bulk (this week pork is on sale for a whole loin for $1.49 per pound, I will have my husband slice it up into pork chops). The butcher at most food stores will slice meat's for you into whatever you need for your family. I usually like to buy meats when they are on sale for under $2.00 per pound, use my food saver to package it and put it in our extra freezer.A great site for matching sale flyers with coupons is . I buy my bread in bulk at a local Pepperidge Farm outlet for $1.89 per loaf where in the regular store would cost me $2.50 per loaf or more (many of their bread contains no HFCS).