Showing posts with label recipe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recipe. Show all posts

Monday, March 3, 2014

Meatless Fridays: Beyond Cheese Pizza and the Fish Fry

Ah, Lent. A time when a mom's fancy turns to "what the heck am I going to feed these kids on Friday?"

Growing up, Adam said his mom always served Kraft Mac and Cheese or cheese pizza on Friday. He
That's chopped cucumbers, tomatoes,
and shallots with olive oil, salt and pepper
suggested I do the same for the Herd and I gave him a look that clearly said, "No." I am not a Kraft mac and cheese fan, nor do I wish to spend every Friday during Lent eating the same foods. The local Knight of Columbus Fish Fry is yummy but it can get pricey and has the added challenge of taking the Herd out to dinner. (Translation: We never get to sit down and eat.)

With those in mind, I set out to find lots of good, meatless dinners that we would enjoy outside of Lent too! Thanks to my friends at NPN, I complied this list to make your Lenten menu planning easy!

1. Breakfast for dinner- leave out the bacon and enjoy toast, eggs, waffles, pancakes and more! Make homemade hash browns. Have an omelet bar. Add chocolate or fruit to the pancakes to perk them up.

2. Fruit or veggie pancakes- Think beyond basic white flour pancakes. Like pumpkin? Try yummy pumpkin pancakes. Fry up zuchinni pancakes- you know you have plenty left in the freezer from your summer garden!

3. Pesto Pasta- sop up the pesto with homemade bread (or any bread really... Fridays are meatless, not carb less!)

4. Alfredo pasta- add lots of veggies to the sauce to make it nice and filling!

5. We love this tomato basil soup. I use Fleur the immersion blender to blend the veggies before stirring in the white sauce. Add grilled cheese and oh. my. gosh, you'll want to eat this every day! (If you don't want to use chicken broth, use veggie or just plain water and up the herbs. So good!)

6. Baked mac and cheese- especially good if your Friday is particularly cold and snowy! There are loads of different recipes on Pinterest.  I looked but could not find a recipe similar to the one I make, which does NOT require you to bake the noodles before cooking. I need to write it out for the blog!

7. Stovetop mac and cheese- make your own cheese sauce and mix in the pasta. Add veggies if you like.

8. Skip the chicken, add another egg or two and make fried rice.

9. Risotto 

10. Quinoa Chili- This recipe has chicken in it but I've left out the chicken and it was still so yummy! We served it with cornbread.

11. A baked potato bar- Did you know you can bake potatoes in the slow cooker? You can! My husband says the texture is off but it is great way to make a healthy, inexpensive meal quickly. We serve them with leftover (meatless) chili, cheese and BBQ sauce.

12. Tuna salad- Lent would be incomplete without tuna. Forget Tuna Helper because, um, ew. Get some yummy bread, chips (if you haven't given up hunk food) and pickles and make a high class meal out of that can of dolphin safe tuna.

13. Cheese or veggie lasagna- Our secret family recipe involves... Stouffers. Make your own but really... Stouffers is good too.

14. Quinoa Black Bean Bowls. For most Catholics, it seems that cheese or fish are the main sources of protein during Lent. Why not quinoa? It's good, good for you, easy to prepare AND has tons of protien. It needs to ROCK those Friday night tables!

15. Quesadillas- Yes, there's cheese but what about sweet potato and black bean? No, it's not gross. I promise!

16. Get the veggies you love, the pasta you adore and mix up this baked penne with roasted vegetables. Meat? What meat?

17. Kale and ricotta stuffed shells

18. Pumpkin pasta with peas and ricotta salata

19. Stuffed Summer Squash

20. Maple Dijon Salmon- I am not a seafood fan but I might try this dish recipe! Yum!

21. Tuna Noodle Casserole- This isn't your grandmother's tuna casserole!

22. Meatless Lentil Tacos- Lentils make an excellent ground meat substitute! I've made lentil sloppy joes, lentil tacos and lentil chili. You simply adjust your seasonings to what you are making! Even my "I don't like lentils" eaters like this.

23. Cashew and chickpea quinoa with peanut ginger sauce- As I said before, use that quinoa! Make this the Lent of Quinoa!

24. Quinoa and sweet potato meatless meatballs- In addition to eating these with pasta I bet they would make excellent meatless meatball subs!

25. Black bean veggie burgers 

Bonus! Okay, you say, but what do I serve my kids for lunch? I know, I know. My boys love their turkey hot dogs and chicken nuggets... which is better than the whole "I will not eat anything for lunch and have a hunger induced meltdown" that went on for... too long.

So, lunch. Here's a couple quick and easy lunch ideas that you can pack for school or whip up easily at home:

1. Cold cereal and milk- Yep, even in school lunches. My kids take the cereal of their choice in a plastic container and buy milk. Add some fruit, maybe a veggie, and a treat and you have lunch.

2. Some spreadable something and jelly/honey- Use almond butter or peanut butter and you have the classic kids lunch.

3. Plain pasta- add cheese in another container and sauce in yet another, just to keep things from getting soggy in the lunch box.

4. A "dip" lunch- hummus with pita chips and veggies. Peanut butter with apples, carrots, pretzels and celery. Ranch dip with... anything.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Recipe: Homemade Goo-Be-Gone

I love stickers.

Well, I love stickers as prizes more than I love giving my children a constant stream of candy or cheap plastic junk that will break in two seconds, only to be found by my bare feet at two am. But stickers on the kids TKD uniforms are the ban of my exisitence. Even if I take them off before the laundry, they leave a goopy residue that I cannot get off.

That is, before I turned to Pinterest and found a Homemade Goo-Be-Gone recipe.



You will need:
An article of clothing or whatever with sticky goo from stickers on it
a small bowl
measuring spoons
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons baking soda
a paper towel or old tooth brush

The the bowl, mix the oil and the baking soda.

Using the paper towel or old tooth brush, gently scrub some of the mixture into the goo.  Use a little at a time, mixing more as needed. You don't want to over do the oil, as you could end up with oil stains.


The goo should clump up and start peeling off. The black writing you see on the background is my child's name, written in Korean.

As soon as I had the goo removed, I popped the uniform in the wash. They came out nice and clean!

*Note: I have not tried this with other oils. I imagine it would be okay but, as always, spot check before you do the whole thing!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Recipe: Dairy Free Hot Chocolate/Chocolate Milk Mix

Like most kids, my Herd loves hot chocolate. With George's new food allergies, though, that's one thing I've had to shelve because all of them contain milk. We were pretty bummed and I didn't have time to make my normal chocolate syrup for milks.

With teacher gifts coming up AND the desire for hot coco, I began searching Pinterest for hot chocolate mixes. However, again, many of them have (ready for this?) non-dairy creamer or dry milk in them! I mean, really? Non-dairy creamer is a complete lie; it has dairy products in it. Plus, I never buy that or dry milk so I didn't have any leftover in the house. And, again, DAIRY IS A NO-NO NOW. So frustrating.

But I found that the recipes had some similar ingredients in common. Joe and I got out my super awesome food processor and came up with this recipe.

In the bowl of a food processor, place:

2 cups white sugar
1 cup powdered sugar




About 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon


1 cup coco powder

Slap on the lid and blitz until well blended. I find that this grinds the sugar up well and makes it more likely to dissolve.


After a few minutes, turn off and store in an airtight container. When you're ready to use it, add a few spoonfuls (about 1-2 tablespoons) to 8 ounces of hot liquid and stir well. Really, adding the powder to the liquid is a "to taste" thing.

This is excellent with these corn-free marshmallows!

For teacher gifts, I got small containers at the Dollar Store and filled them with the mix. In others, I put the homemade marshmallows. The teachers really loved them, especially when I told them the mix is excellent in coffee!



I have no idea how to do one of them fancy-smanchy files where you click on print and it open in a new window to print just the recipe. Here it is, without the pictures. Please feel free to print this recipe, Pin to Pinterest and so on, but if you put it on your blog, link back to me! Thank you!

Dairy Free Hot Chocolate Mix by WaldenMommy: Life Behind the Red Front Door

2 cups white sugar
1 cup powered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup powered coco

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until well blended. Store in an air-tight container.

To use, add 1-2 tablespoons (or to taste) of the mix to 8 ounces of hot liquid and stir well. Works well in coffee too!




Monday, November 4, 2013

Second Annual Natural Parents Netowk Holiday Gift Guide and Giveaway ($50 Credit to Door to Door Organics (ARV: $50)) (12/6, 26 winners, US only ARV: $2,587.26)

Second Annual NPN Holiday Gift Guide & Giveaway (12/6, 24 winners, US only ARV $2587.26)


This is a joint review and giveaway of Door to Door Organics food and service from Door to Door Organics, KC, from the Natural Parents Network and WaldenMommy: Life Behind the Red Front Door. PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS GIVEAWAY IS OPEN ONLY TO PEOPLE IN THE KANSAS CITY AREA.

ABOUT THE COMPANY
Door to Door Organics began in 1997 as a way to empower people to eat good food. Their goal is to make a positive impact on peoples health, communities and environment. They strive to find local, organic, humanly raised and/or fair trade food and deliver it right to their customers’ doors!

Delivery is free and Door to Door makes sure the routes are as environmentally friendly as possible. Instead of having to drive from store to store to find the most local, in season and eco-friendly foods as possible, they take all the best foods, place them on their website for your choosing and deliver them to you. Gas, time and wear and tear on your car (not to mention nerves!) are saved!

In addition to produce, Door to Door also offers a variety of meats, cheeses, bakery items and pre-packaged foods. I found organic milk (and alternative milks, like rice and soy), breads from my favorite local bakery (Farm to Market), Annie’s items, spices, canned goods and more. Any of these can be added to your order for an additional cost.

Door to Door offers co-ops and fundraising co-ops. At the end of every month, they will donate ten percent to the non-profit the co-op has selected.

THE REVIEW
For my review, Door to Door Organics of KC gave me a 50 dollar credit towards their store. To begin my review, I had create an account, and select a produce box type and size. Since we are a family of six, I selected the medium box of fruits and vegetables. It is $38.66. That week, they offered:

Parsley (I changed this to potatoes from CO)
Kale
1 Butternut squash
1 honeycrisp apple
1 bunch of scarlett turnips
2 romaine hearts (changed to  5 potatoes)
1 pound of purple potatoes
1 pound of carrots
1 pomegranate
2 grapefruits
1 onion (subbed in 2 more honeycrisp apples)
2 golden delicious apples
2 bosc pears
4 bananas (again, subbed in apples)
1 avacado.
I add a pound of local, organic ground beef to my order and a package of chocolate hazelnut spread.

As you can see, the box is very customizable. If our family didn’t like something, like onions, I simply had to
click on the icon and a box of options would pop up. Little symbols beside each food denotes different attributes (USA, organic, GMO-free, Kosher, etc). This makes it simple to pick food by your preferences.

I also really like that they have recipes on their web site. This is a great way to try new produce. For example, I have never cooked with turnips before but I kept them in my box because they featured a  recipe for Mashed Turnips and Potatoes. You can easily bookmark favorite recipes within your own account. Many of the recipes would be easy for a busy parent to prepare!

Our family of six has a weekly grocery budget of about 150 dollars. We shop at Aldi and Trader Joe’s, with occasional trips to Target and Sam’s. We have no food allergies and do not buy everything organic. Even with added cost of the organic foods, I found that our food budget did NOT increase that week! I adjusted my menu planning to include more of the Door to Door produce. While I still had to head to the store to buy a few items, my trip was quicker than it normally is. (If I had really been under a time crunch that week, I could have ordered all my food through Door to Door!)

Our food was delivered first thing in the morning. (Actual delivery times vary.) While I left a cooler by the front door for our food, the ground beef was wrapped tightly to keep it cold and safe until I got home. The rest of the food was in a bag, with our order information on it. All the produce was fresh and perfect. Everything was exactly as I ordered. The Herd dove into the fruits and carrots and said that everything tasted great. (At least I think that’s what they said… their mouths were full!)

It is very convenient to use Door to Door Organics. A subscription or gift certificate to this company would be perfect for new parents or even an elderly relative who may have trouble getting to and managing the grocery store. Parents of children who need to avoid crowds during cold and flu season would also love this service, as healthy and delicious food would be delivered right to their door, avoiding the germ filled grocery stores.

Would I use Door to Door again? Yes, I think I will especially on weeks when my husband is traveling.

BUY IT!
Want your own subscription to Door to Door Organics? Head over to their website, make sure they deliver to your area and start shopping!

WIN IT!

For your own chance to win an 50 dollar gift certificate from Door to Door Organics, or one of the 26 huge prize packages we're giving away, come back to this post on November 6th when our Rafflecopter widgets will go live for your chance to enter! Or you can visit Natural Parents Network on November 6th to see and enter to win all of our fantastic prize packages at once!

  Disclosure: Our reviewer received a sample product for review purposes. 
Amazon links are affiliate links.
 We try to seek out only products we think you would find relevant and useful to your life as a natural parent. 
If we don’t like a product, we won’t be recommending it to you.
 See our full disclosure policy here.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway



Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Recipe: Pork, Apples and Pears

Again, I don't have a picture. I know, I know- PIN-ABILITY. But, I am lame. Instead, you'll just have to trust me that this is yum-o.

Pork Chops- each for each member of the family
salt and pepper
cinnamon sugar
apples- I used about four
pears- I used three
1 TB butter
Olive oil

Dice the apples and pears. How much you want depends on how big your family is. I used about four small apples and three medium pears. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Toss to coat and set aside.

In a large skillet, drizzle olive oil and cook the pork chops. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook thoroughly. Place on a plate or another pan and set aside.

In the same pan, melt the butter and toss in the apples and pears. Cook until soft, stirring frequently. You want to cook the fruit down a bit. When cooked, pour over the pork and serve.

Sweet and very good!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Recipe: Patsy's Perfect Pot Roast

If I was a good blogger, I would have pictures of this pot roast for easy pin-ability. However, I would make a bad, bad cooking or DIY blogger because I never seem to have photos of the end result and/or the work in progress. But, trust me, this is some yummy, yummy pot roast.

When I was visiting my parents this summer, one of my mother's friends brought over dinner. When Mom said she was bringing pot roast, I was all, "Okay" and shrugged. I mean, pot roast. There are so many jokes about pot roast, why bother to get excited?

"No," said Mom," you haven't had THIS pot roast. THIS pot roast is really, really good!"

And it is? You know the saying "fork tender"? This is BEYOND fork-tender. This is so tender you have to scoop it up with a spoon. In fact, as I told my brother-in-law, you could cut it with a dull spoon. For the rest of the weekend, we went around, moaning with joy, "Poooottttt roooooast."

Because I don't have a picture of the pot roast,
or anyone eating it, you get adorable toothless Georgie.
You're welcome.
This recipe is for one six pound pot roast. If you increase the amount of meat you need, you will need to increase the liquids and the cooking time.

1 six pound brisket
2  10 ounce cans of brown gravy
1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
1 package of dry onion soup/dip mix
1 small can of mushrooms, optional

Line a 9 by 13 casserole pan with heavy duty foil or place one of those cooking bags in a pan. (If you are going bigger than six pounds, you will need a bigger pan.) In a bowl, mix the gravy, dressing and dry soup mix. Pour a small amount in the middle of the foil or inside the bag. Place the brisket on top of the liquids and pour the rest over it. Seal the bag or, if using foil, tightly wrap the foil around it, sealing the edges.

Bake at 325 for 5 hours or at 300 degrees and one hour per pound of meat. (I made an eight pound roast and cooked it at 300 for 8 hours.)

Drool all day as your house begins to smell fantastic. Serve over rice or potatoes and make sure you have some bread on hand to sop up the juices!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Recipe: Yet Another Laundry Soap- Liquid Version

This is a picture of the powdered stuff
but I used the same jar for the liquid gel.
About two months ago, I began making my own laundry soap. The first batch of the powdered stuff worked GREAT. No problems and Adam and I were thrilled at how cheap and easy it was!

The second batch (a double) was fine until about half way through. I noticed that it was clumping in the dispenser and it was not dissolving. The clothes weren't getting clean at all. I wasn't amused since I liked this nice, cheap laundry soap and had no "normal" stuff on hand. I didn't want to go spend big bucks on the organic, all natural stuff when I had everything to make it at home! After talking with a few people, I finally ran it through the food processor again to make it super fine. It worked!

Take note: If you want to use the powdered version, really run it through the food processor until it is very, very fine.

Like I said, this worked but I noticed a white cloud billowing up every time I opened the jar. I would inhale this and start coughing, plus it left a nasty, powered taste in my mouth. Honestly, I don't care how natural this soap is, there is no way it is good to inhale into my lungs!

Then came the third batch.... and oh, the issues. I had to add the powder to the drum of the machine which is a big no-no for front loaders. Argh.

But I wouldn't give up. Oh no. The laundry soap WOULD NOT WIN!

I went back to the drawing board- Pinterest- and read about how to make this into a liquid soap. Using the same basic recipe that I had tweaked, I turned the powder into a liquid soap:

In a large stock pot, I put 8 cups of water on to boil. When it was gently boiling, I dumped in my powder mixture. (I had most of one batch left.) With a wooden spoon, I stirred it well until it was dissolved and then turned off the heat.

When it had cooled a bit, I poured it into an old glass jar I had. (Don't use basic plastic but you can probably use any container that is big enough for the liquid.) Allow it to cool and gel. It will look... like a clear jelly. The original recipe said to let it sit over night but I just let it sit all day.

Once it is completely cool, you can leave it in your cooling container or transfer it to the container you will use it from. I tipped the glass jar into the plastic container you see in the picture. I took another old wooden spoon and stirred it a bit and then brought out Fleur.

Who is Fleur, you ask? Why Fleur is my immersion blender! I heart Fleur. We make many wonderful things together, from soup to smoothies and now laundry soap!

I stuck Fleur right into the container and blended the soap. It whipped up nicely and turned the color of whipped coconut oil, a buttery off-white. It's a bit thicker than eggwhites but about that consistancy. It filled my laundry soap container and smelled... like soap.

I hesitated creating liquid laundry soap because it seemed hard (boiling water!!!!!) and the powder is so darn easy to make! But this worked well and (shhhh!) was kinda fun so I think this might be our soap from now on!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Recipe: Yet Another Homemade Laundry Soap Recipe

About 3 years ago, I noticed George and Camille began having dry scaly spots on their arms. It was winter, so I hit them up with olive oil but it didn't go away. Because I had been feeling uneasy about the chemicals in our laundry soap since George's birth (what was my baby breathing into his poor, underdeveloped lungs?!) I used this as an excuse to change their body wash and our laundry soap.

After talking to a neighbor, I switched the kids to California Baby and bought Charley's Soap on Amazon. Overall I was generally pleased with how it worked, although our clothes did smell "sour" every once in awhile. We never bought the 100 dollar giant box of soap, opting instead to buy the small jugs in sets of two. One 80 load container would only last 4-6 weeks. Yikes!

I finally got fed up with spending 12-15 dollars every month on laundry soap. About a month ago, we ran out so I got off my butt and bought the three items needed to make homemade laundry soap.

All of the items were bought at my local Wal-Mart and dollar store. (Cha-ching!) Everything but the dollar store items cost about $4/each. I spent as much as I would on an 80 load container of Charley's Soap but it made 3+ batches of laundry soap.

1 bar of Fels Napa OR Kirks Coconut Soap. (The former is found with laundry soap, the latter with regular soaps)
1 cup Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 cup Borax
1 cup Charley's Soap Laundry Booster (this is optional. More on this later!)
A funnel
A container with a lid. (I found a wide mouth plastic jar at the dollar store)

In a large food processor or by hand, shred the bar soap. When that is done, take off the shredding attachment and add in the metal blade. Chop the soap a bit, then slowly pour in the Borax and Super Washing Soda. (This is where the funnel comes in. It was easier to pour it through the small tube on the food processor.) Add in the Hard Water powder. Blitz for a few moment. Then, using the funnel, pour it into your container.

I took a sharpie and wrote "Laundry Soap. Use 1-2 TB depending on the soil level" on the front. I shake it every so often before I scoop out some to use. (I use an old Charley's Soap scoop.) I use vinegar for my fabric softener and that hasn't changed.

For 12 dollars (not including the items from the dollar store) I made 3 batches of soap. I have enough Borax and Super Washing Soda left to make another 3 or so batches. I will just have to buy more bars of soap. That's 15 dollars  and at least six batches of soap before I have to buy more Borax and Super Washing Soda! (This does not count the Charley's Booster, which I had on hand.)

Now, about the Borax. I go back and forth as to whether Borax is safe for the environment. However, because we have super hard water, I felt like I had to use it in the laundry soap or our clothes would not get clean. That's also the reason I used the Charley's Laundry Booster. I had bought it when I used their soap and had it on auto-ship via Amazon. I have 3 jars of it, so it should last me a long time!

Oh and how long does this take? Well, from the time I pull the dish pan that I keep the powders and funnels in off the shelf, to when I clean up, put the food processors parts to soak in the sink and stick everything back in the laundry room... ten minutes. With interruptions.

Cheap and easy and quick. Works for me!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Menu/recipes: Smoothies

I normally do not do smoothies. Green smoothies are all the rage and I just cannot drink something that is GREEN or tastes like pureed spinach. In fact, cooked greens are one of the few foods I will not eat. In a salad, fine. Cooked in something? No. No way.

But I need the benefits from them, so I finally managed to make a "green but not in color" smoothie. I use a knock off Magic Bullet which works great, even if it is loud and slow. Yes, it's a pain in the rear to drag everything out of the fridge and make it but it's good for me and with two medical professional breathing down my neck to loose weight... yeah.

I suppose I shouldn't have eaten a donut with this, though, huh?

In your Magic Bullet, blender, food processor or whatever, put:

a handful of kale
1-2 cubes of Trader Joe's green juice. (I buy the bottle, freeze the juice in ice cube trays and then put all the cubes in a baggie in the freezer)
1-2 tablespoons of plain greek yogurt
1 tablespoon flax seed
1-2 tablespoons frozen OJ concentrate
frozen mixed berries- blueberries, raspberries, etc. This makes the smoothie NOT green!
almond milk

Blend together. When it is well blended, add more almond milk, if desired, and blend until smooth. I have also need know to add the "leftover" pureed fruit from Cole's fruit pouches. This adds a but more fruit to the smoothie and the pouch doesn't go to waste.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Menu/Recipe Monday: Banana Zucchini Muffins

One of my favorite cookbooks is an old copy of  More With Less Cookbook. I was at a thrift store with a friend when she spied it in a pile of books. She thrust it at me, telling me I had to buy it because she had a copy and loved it. It was less than a dollar, so I really couldn't go wrong!

It's a great little cookbook that explains how to stretch a dollar and has simple recipes for everything. My copy is from the 1970's so it does wax poetic about the virtues of margarine, "salad oil," soy flour and dry milk. I just make some simple changes to what we know now is healthier (coconut or olive oil, butter, etc) and the recipes still taste great and save me money.

Since zucchini grows like a wees, there are, of course, zucchini recipes throughout the book. All we seem to grow in our backyard garden are zucchinis and we always have leftover bananas in the freezer, so I modified the Zucchini Bread recipe to come up with this.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Line a muffin tin with paper or foil liners, if desired. If not, grease the cups well.

In a large mixing bowl, combine:

3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 frozen bananas, thawed enough so you can beat them with the rest of the ingredients
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup olive oil
1 T vanilla

Beat together well.

In another bowl, shift:

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1 T flax seed
1 tea baking soda
1 tea. baking powder
3 tea cinnamon (I used more because we like cinnamon and I think the whole wheat flour and flax seed mask the taste of spices)

Add to the wet mixture and mix until just blended. Spoon into muffin cups and bake for about 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

(Check this- I baked these with other breads and the time  might have been different. I know it wasn't anywhere near the full hour it took for the bread, though!)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: Best of Pinterest

I don't know why I bother to cook in the summer. Our AC is old and too small to heat the house. Our trees aren't very big and don't provide enough shade. Since we live on The Surface of the Sun (aka, the Midwest in the summer!) it's hot. Really hot. Like, "I don't want to eat or drink or move" hot.

Okay, so we do eat and I really push the water on the kids but I will admit, I let them eat Popsicles for breakfast. And maybe as part of lunch and snack too. To add to the sugar duo, they live off fruit but I am doing whatever I can to get enough fluids in them.

Of course, our zucchini plants are in overdrive, so we have been eating sliced zucchini with homemade ranch dip. I plan to try Zuchinni Chips this weekend. I made Zucchini Pizza by layering round sliced of zucchini with pizza sauce, cheese and fresh basil. Adam actually begged me to make it again!

Until very, very recently George has been addicted to chocolate milk. The bottle stuff is expensive, especially if you by it organic to avoid HFCS. (I don't care if the bottle is labeled organic, it is still a processed food and bleeech but whatever. The kids like his chocolate milk.) I found a recipe for Homemade Chocolate Syrup and BOY is that stuff GOOD. I used Hershey's Dark Chocolate powder MAN. I could eat it right out of the mason jar!

One of Trader Joe's best selling items is their orange chicken. I don't blame people for buying it as it is quick, easy and GOOD. I throw it in the oven with some frozen veggies and then add cooked rice and the kids eat it up. Only... it takes 2 bags to feed us and so it isn't as  cheap as feeding a family of four, like they advertised. When I found this Slow Cooker Orange Chicken recipe, I immediately pinned it for future use. I tried it this past week and the kids loved it! I too made it a little too orange-y but otherwise, no complaints!

I'm still on the lookout for more zuchinni recipes and maybe some pumpkin too. It looks like the only thing we can grow around here is squash!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: Week of May 7

Here's our menu of the week of May 7. I'm including May 5th and 6th in here just because!

Saturday, May 5- tacos. Of course! I want to double or triple the meat mixture and freeze some for the coming week.
Sunday, May 6- ????
Monday, May 7- cheese tortellini with peas and roasted broccoli
Tuesday: kids eat free at Chik-fil-a. No judging! ;) I honestly have no idea how I will cook that day since we have back to back doctor's appointments and TKD all day long!
Wends: taco cupcakes with lettuce, tomatoes, salsa and guacamole for toppings.
Thursday- jumbo shells with kale. I'm trying to work more kale into our diet!
Friday: egg "cupcakes" from the freezer with muffins and fruit.

Now, for a recipe...

After Joseph's First Communion party I had tons of fresh broccoli sitting around. I didn't want it to go to waste but the kids don't eat alot of raw broccoli either. I googled and search Pinterest and then came up with my own recipe for

Roasted Broccoli

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Take a large head of fresh broccoli and cut into bite sized pieces. I trimmed off alot of the stems since the kids don't like them. Place in a single layer in a 9 by 13 in pan. Chop/dice/mince some garlic and throw it in there. Sprinkle some salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle or spray some olive oil on the veggies and toss to coat. Sprinkle a handful of whole wheat bread crumbs over the broccoli and toss, making sure the pieces are covered. Sprinkle on some Parmesan cheese. Toss to coat.

Place in the oven for 20 minutes, stirring about half way through. They are done when they are crisp-tender and a little brown. Good just like this or with bacon bits too!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Recipe: Magic Soap Scum Remover

Perhaps you've seen it on Pinterest or heard about it elsewhere on the web: Dawn and vinegar make a "magic" soap scum remover. And, like me, you went, "Yeah, right."

But... have you tried it?

BECAUSE IT WORKS.

I was toodling around Pinterest and I read a blog that had before and after pictures of her shower. Suddenly I went from "Don't believe everything you read on the interwebz" to "well, someone tried it and took pictures; therefore, it must work!" I had everything on hand (including the dirty shower!) and decided to give it a go. I figured the worst thing that would happen would a be a shower coated in Dawn and possibly more soap scum. Best case? A clean shower with minimal elbow grease. (The latter is important as I do NOT scrub anything, showers included.)

I do not have before and after pictures so you will have to trust me- this thing WORKS. The bath had some soap scum and a little spray and some wiping with an old washcloth and TA DA! Clean as a whistle! As a bonus, I don't feel like I am bathing my kids in chemicals if I don't get it all wiped or rinsed off. It's just Dawn and vinegar!

You will need:

One spray bottle. I found one at the dollar store but you can re purpose an old bottle too.
Dawn. The original link said the "blue" Dawn but I only had the green kind and it worked fine.
Plain, boring white vinegar.

In a microwave safe container (I used a pyrex measuring cup) pour in vinegar. You will need to use equal parts Dawn and vinegar. I had a small spray bottle so I only used half a cup of each.

Warm the vinegar (and only the vinegar) in the microwave. (Yes, your house will smell like warm vinegar. There are worse smells.) Pour into the spray bottle. Add the same amount of Dawn. Shake.

Spray your soap scum covered area. Now, this isn't a chemical, per se, but it does have a strong oder. Our shower area is enclosed and I needed to turn on the bathroom fan. While I like using things like vinegar and Dawn to clean with because the kids can use them, I would NOT let my kids use this. It was still hot and, like I said, the smell was strong.

Allow the spray to sit. You can even let it sit overnight for truly super gross areas. I let the bathtub sit for a few minutes and then rinsed and wiped. I let the shower sit for longer and used the detachable shower head to spray down the shower. I should have let the super gross parts (the bottom of the shower doors) sit for longer but they still got clean.

The one cup of cleaner (half a cup EACH of vinegar and Dawn) was more than enough for the super gross shower, slightly gross tub and more gross half bath. A little goes a long way.

Now I did have to really spray the shower doors and floor. Both the shower and tub required more rinsing than I thought they would, but it was still worth it. I had to wipe down the inside of the metal tracks in the showers and what I removed... ew. But they are bright and shiney and clean now!

When everything was dry, I did have to go back with a slightly damp cloth and wipe the inside of the doors. However, I don't think I rinsed the shower well enough the first time around.

I don't know if this would work with a more natural dish soap, like Seventh Generation. Someone needs to try it and tell me!

I'm am now a believer that a little Dawn will do anything, from clean my dishes to wash my hands to stripping my diapers to cleaning soap scum off showers! I think I have become brand loyal to this stuff and, hey, it's worth it for sparkling clean showers on a dime!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: Week of Jan. 29 and recipe

Sunday: Garlic Parm Chicken. I had this on the menu for the past week but we had so many leftovers, I didn't bother to make it. We had a leftover night instead.

Monday: Chicken Black Bean Casserole with a side of veggies or salad.

Tuesday: Slow cooker potato soup. I plan on halving the recipe.

Wends: Alfredo chicken and veggie pasta. I have cooked chicken in the freezer to use up and I make my own alfredo sauce from Kraft.com.

Thurs: ?????

Friday: Hamburgers and garlicky fries. We made the fries last week and they were really good! They were a bit too peppery for my kids, so I plan on cutting back on the pepper but they ate them!

****
We had a couple food surprises in the past few weeks. I have made it my mission to get quiona into my family. Cole will eat it plain, with veggies and some meat but the other kids say they don't like it. Adam claims to not like the texture. However, I found this recipe for Broccolie Quiona Casserole and they LIKE IT. They EAT it. And we even brought it to a pot luck and it was gone before we made it through the line. I did make some adjustments to it but the basic recipe is the same.


3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour (white or whole wheat)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
4-5 tablespoons cup mayonnaise (low fat works fine as does miracle whip)
1 1/4 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, colby-jack, etc)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups cooked broccoli (I used the steam in the bag version, cooked in the microwave)

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or other cheeses

First, cook the quinoa. Rinse 3/4 cup quinoa in a fine sieve until water runs clear. In a small saucepan combine the quinoa,1 1/2 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 18-20 minutes, or until fluffy. (Note: Keep the ratios similar and make a double or triple batch. Quiona keeps well stored in the fridge and is easily mixed with foods like plain veggies and meat for q quick meal. It's a nice, high protien alternative to rice too.)

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small sauce pan. When metled, whisk in the flour until thick. Add the milk and chicken broth, whisking until combined and thick. Allow to cool. (You can also used canned cream of ___ here. The orginal recipe calls for cream of mushroom or celery. I used the homemade cream of chicken recipe but a plain cream of ____ with one cup of milk instead of the milk and chicken broth would work well.)

Lightly cook the broccoli. I used frozen "cook in the bag" broccoli and steamed it in the microwave. You don't want to cook it well done; if it's still a touch cold, that's okay. It will cook through in the oven. If the bag calls for 4-6 minutes, I cooked it for four.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a shallow (8×8 in or 5-6 cups) casserole dish with olive oil cooking spray.
In a large bowl combine the cooled soup, mayonnaise, milk, shredded cheese, pepper, until well mixed. Stir in the quinoa and broccoli.

Spoon mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle on a couple tablespoons of Parmesan (or other cheeses) and bake for 35-40 minutes or until bubbly on the edges. Makes 8 generous 1/2-cup servings.

(End note: I've used miracle whip in a pinch and it turned out fine.)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Recipe: Ranch chicken

From: Taken from Pinterest (no link) and modified

3/4 to 1 cup crushed corn flakes
3/4 cup parm. cheese
1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch dip mix
OO
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

In a small bowl, mix the cornflakes, dip and cheese. Brush a small amount of OO over the chicken breasts and then roll into the mixture. Place in a greased 9 by 13 inch casserole pan. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes. You can pour the leftover mixture on top of the chicken for added crunch.

We had some thick BLSL chicken breasts, so Adam sliced them in half horizontally. We had very little leftover as the kids ATE it up!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Recipe: Cheesy Hamburger Casserole

(adapted from Mommy Hates Cooking)

16oz of whole wheat penne (I used Trader Joe's organic pasta)
1 Tbsp of Butter
1/2 Tsp of Basil
1/2 Tsp of Parsley
1/2 Tsp of Garlic Salt
1/4 Cup of Flour
1/4 Cup of Water
1 Cup of Milk- I used 1 or 2 per cent
1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
26 oz Spaghetti Sauce, your choice. (We used jarred tomato sauce and added Italian seasoning to it)
1 lb Ground Beef

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350*.

Cook the pasta as directed, and drain. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
In a sauce pan, melt the butter, adding in the basil, parsley, garlic salt, flour, water, and milk. Continue to stir with a whisk until they are a smooth consistency.

In a nonstick skillet, fully cook the ground beef. Once fully cooked mix in with the pasta.

Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick spray, then pour the pasta and hamburger mixture in the bottom of the dish. Spoon the white sauce mixture over the top of the noodles, then cover with the spaghetti sauce. Finally top it off with cheese.

Bake this in the oven for 20 minutes.

100 days of Real Food/ Jan Unprocessed Update

I began my January Real Foods Challenge on Jan. 1. Since then, I have been pretty strict about what I eat. I have cut the kids some  slack (we went out for fast food a couple times) but I've been holding myself to my "rules."

For breakfast I have been eating either Cheerios (Trader Joe's version, which I like better than the name brand!), whole wheat toast with peanut butter, oatmeal (plain with milk) or a whole foods chocolate shake. I always drink coffee with milk and if I want creamer, I have been making my own vanilla creamer from Deliciously Organic. It's simple and takes very little time. The bread comes from Aldi or a simple, 100 per cent whole wheat bread from Deliciously Organic. I eat the bread I make all the time, but the kids and Adam seem to prefer it as a side with lunch or dinner. I've tried ALOT of whole wheat bread recipes and this one is a winner because it requires items I have in my house anyway, can be made in the Kitchen Aide or food processor and doesn't take all day to rise and bake.

Now, with this "real food thing" I want recipes that are kid friendly, have ingredients that are easy to find and don't cost a fortune. Baked Cheesy Penne fits the bill, although I did make some changes. I also tried the Chickpea Penne from the same website. This was NOT a hit. I think it would a nice side dish for a pot luck but my family didn't like it and they were all still hungry afterwards.

Another hit, and super simple to make, was the chicken enchiladas from 100 Days of Real Food.I had made a whole chicken in the slow cooker two night before, so I used the leftovers in this dish. Because we are a family of six, with one child who eats more than most adults, the recipe made one large casserole for all of us. The leftovers reheated well too.

When we went out this week, I had a salad and fresh iced tea (McDonald's) and a grilled chicken sandwich, side salad and tea (Chik Fil A). Normally I am badbadbad about stealing nuggets and fries from the kids but not this week. Not.even.one and MAN did it take will power! I told Adam I wanted a reward for that. He suggested CFA waffle fries. Evil Man! I will admit I was hungry Sunday when we went to McDonald's for a post-Mass play date with Cole's godparents and their kids. I had a large tea and a parfait. I know the yogurt has alot of sugar in it but it was probably a better choice than other items. Anyway, I scarfed leftovers when we got home!

We've been sticking to a budget of 175 a week for six people. This does not include beef, since we buy in bulk from a butcher but does include toiletries and cleaning supplies. Even with our increased veggie and fruit intake (including juice, since a variety of fruits are hard to come by in the winter) we've been sticking to this and doing well.

This week is a simple eating week (I'll post the menu later) and we're easing back into our routine. Christmas decor is down and the kids are happy to be in school again. I'm happily staying busy cooking and hanging out with my baby Bear.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

(not quite) 100 Days of Real Food/Unprocessed Food Challenge

(Enter the giveaway here!)

Over seven years ago, when Joseph was a baby who was just beginning solids, we made some major changes to our diets. I knew/know I wanted my kids to eat healthy and love fruits, veggies and whole grains. I also knew, first hand, how a child's diet can affect them in the classroom. That is, the kids who ate the worst tended to have the worst behavior and grades. NOT something I want/ed for my kid!

Much to Adam's chagrin, I switched us to whole wheat pasta and breads. Adam was a huge fan of things like Wonder white bread, Jiff PB and Kraft Mac and cheese. While I like those things (except for the Wonder White Bread!) I knew they were NOT the best thing to feed my baby. Sure, once in a while they wouldn't hurt, but all the time? No.

I began slowly, but making our pasta one part whole wheat to 3 parts white. I looked for "natural" peanut butters. At first, Adam gave a big fat NO to the "no stir" kind. Through trail and error, we found a natural, no stir style we liked; now, six years later, our taste buds have changed and we all like Trader Joe's natural PB. We cut out and way,way back on foods with HFCS. Thanks to migraine headaches, we don't have any "sugar free" items in the house save some diet soda. I discovered I can cook (not super well but I haven't killed anyone yet!) and invested in some nice kitchen appliances when our older ones died.

Our diet certainly isn't perfect. My kids know and love McDonald's. I know and love Chik Fil A. We will never be the type of family who drives to 12 different farmers for their foods. We aren't urban homesteaders and I don't can. I DO have a deep freezer and will make and freeze foods but canning is beyond me.

BUT for January, we are going to try to eat minimally processed foods. The blog, 100 Days of Real Food, has a set of rules but the Walden Herd is going to whip them up for our own purposes:

1. The children don't have to adhere to "real foods" at birthday parties and the like. I refuse to be that mother who totes her own treats to birthday parties and celebrations. One piece of Sam's Club cake won't ruin them. All things in moderation.

2. We can eat fresh or frozen fruits and veggies. Not canned. It's the dead of winter in the midwest and, as far as I know, no CSAs are running. There is an organic food delivery service but it is very expensive and very little of the food is local. I am trying to serve two kinds of veggies for dinner.

3. A budget of 175 a week for a family of six. This includes vitamins, toiletries and household items, like laundry soap, paper towels and diapers. (The little dudes are in disposables at night and G wears disposables to school.) It also includes eating out. I have doubled some recipes already and eating out of our freezer doesn't count against us.
4. Foods bought at the store must contain reasonable ingredients. Pretzels that are flour, salt, water, etc are fine. Salsa that is just seasonings and veggies is fine. No HFCS or artificial anythings. Anything that can't be found in the basic kitchen (a friend calls this the "kitchen test") is a no-no.

5. When we eat out, we need to make the best choices possible- no fried foods, no sugar loaded treats, etc.

6. Very little white flour and natural sugars, as much as possible.

7. I will continue to shop mostly at Trader Joe's, Aldi, Sam's and Wal Mart. The prices at Whole Foods are too high for us and I want to see if this can work WITHOUT shopping of tons of all natural or specialty stores.

While many people claim that low fat or non fat dairy products and animal fat ARE part of a healthy diet (and while I can see their point), I will continue to buy and use low fat dairy and to trim the fat off our meats, especially beef. Eating animal fats requires moderation, something I lack. Because I can see myself over eating all that, I can't yet bring myself to "allow" full fat dairy and meats. It's me, honestly, not you!

What am I giving up? Sonic happy hour, store bought bread, store bought coffee creamer, Starbucks, many bread product at store like (sob!) Panera, sneaking french fries off the kids' plates.... you get the idea.

So, what is on the menu? I just sat down and planned for the coming week and a half, which includes New Year's Day, my husband returning to work and the kids returning to school.

Dinners:
Pancakes (from a mix) and fruit. I will probably double the pancake recipe and freeze some for breakfast. When we use up the mixes I have, I'll make pancakes from scratch but currently most of the mixes we have are fairly natural.

slow cooker chicken tacos with toppings

Korean Slow Cooker ribs with brown rice and some sort of veggie side

out to eat at a local deli that has alot of organic, whole grain options

Baked Cheesburger Penne

Broccoli chickpea Penne

Slow cooker whole chicken with a salad and bread. I will make stock from the leftover chicken bone and bits and hopefully have enough meat for another dinner.

Spaghetti with sauce, either pesto, peanut or tomato

chicken enchiladas

I need to do some baking and use my new Kitchen Aide gadgets I got for Christmas!
Everyday whole wheat bread
rosemary olive oil bread

and possibly

whole wheat hamburger buns/rolls
muffins

Busy week ahead of us... let's see how this goes!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dinner thanks to Pinterest

I have been having way too much fun on Pinterest and planning for meals that fit with the 100 Days of Real Food challenge. Last night I made Garlic Parmesan Chicken. I made whole wheat bread crumbs from the heels of the bread we normally buy and a couple leftover slices from a loaf we didn't like. (I tried a new kind and it was pretty dry so no one liked it. But it made good bread crumbs!) The only change I made was to use some shredded parmesan in the coating. I used the stuff normally found in the green can for most of the coating but added a slight sprinkle of the nicer cheese from a bag. The chicken was very moist and juicy!

I also made Rosemary Olive Oil Bread. It has some white flour in it, but not alot. It went with the chicken very nicely and, as far as bread goes, was pretty quick to make.

I served that dinner with steamed green beans and leftover potatoes, reheated in the oven when I cooked the chicken, with a little garlic, OO, salt and pepper. I'm trying to serve two veggies at dinner and, when the weather warms up, two veggies and a fruit. This, Adam is behind because veggies are good for you! Sadly, I have not yet informed him that the Cheesy Corn Bake al la Jack Stack does NOT count as a veggie!

I think the above dinner would count in the real food challenge. Adam is still not 100 per cent on board but he's getting there.

Tonight's dinner, though, definatly doesn't count but it sounds yummy! I am making a pot roast in the slow cooker. I have some leftover rolls and Rosemary bread and the potatoes and carrots are in the slow cooker with the meat. Hoping it turns out as well as last night!

Friday, December 9, 2011

100 days of real food?

I've been looking around the 100 Days of Real Food and thinking about giving it a go. It's not THAT different from how we normally eat. We generally avoid trans fats, HFCS, artifical whatits and I bake alot of our baked goods. The real kicker would be NO white flour, grains (like white rice), and sugar. I'm not sure what Joseph would say to NO ramen in his lunch and Camille would not like having NO shells and cheese from a box. (Yes, it comes from Trader Joe's and yes it is still highly processed.)

But I think it would be neat to do from the standpoint of someone who likes her food healthy but fast and cheap. So many of the food blogs out there are by people who were professional chefs or are foodies in general, have some kind of allergy, homeschool, homestead, seem to have large food budgets and the timee/access/ability to go to tons of different food stores. What about someone who lives a typical active lifestyle in the subburbs, does not want to drag her kids to multiple speciality food stores, has no food restrictions and a reasonable weekly budget?

I needed to clean my cupboards anyway so I did and took stock of what we have. Right now, we have lots of baking goods like chocolate chips and white flour since I am baking for Christmas. I have very few canned goods, which is good since apparently BPA is now in all canned items. (Yay.) I think breakfast will be the hardest because the kids eat breakfast cereal several times a week. They also like Sonic happy hour (as do I) but they did well with not eating out during Lent so they should do well with this.

I know from looking at the rules that they are reasonable but we will tweek them. I won't require the children stick to the rules at parties or friend's houses. Holidays and feast days would also be "free" days (and I'm talking normal holidays, like Easter, not "It's a Monday! Sugar for all!"). I think we might eat out as a family once a week.

I need to float this by Adam (I'll let you know how that goes!) and hopfully we'll start after the new year.