Archive | December, 2012

A new year, a new direction for The Whole Bag of Chips

31 Dec
Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

It’s New Year’s Eve!

It is the very last day of 2012!

You know what that means? It means that it’s New Year’s Resolution time for many. I know that last year I talked a little bit about the fact that because our entire family runs on a school year schedule, I’m kind of programmed to set my own personal goals and resolutions for the “year” in September, rather than January.

And that’s still true, but this new year is going to be a bit different, and you’ll be seeing it with some changes to The Whole Bag of Chips as well.

This blog is designed so that it often follows the twists and turns of our family’s life. As with any family, there are always lots of twists! We like to keep things exciting at our house.

Some of you may know that for years we have had a variety of stomach issues here. I know I’ve mentioned it in some of my posts. It’s one reason we don’t eat out often (besides the financial reason), it’s the reason I do my “sweets” after school rather than at night before bedtime, and it’s the reason why we work so hard to make our meals from scratch, and try to eat as healthy as we can.

That said, we still love our homemade desserts.

A lot.

However, in an interesting twist, it was recently suggested to us that eating a strict low fat/healthy fat/healthy carb diet might  be beneficial in helping us to fight the chronic belly aches here at our house. It was suggested that one of us may have something similar to an allergy to fats.

The first reaction I had was similar to the day I was told that one of my kids was allergic to dust.

She’s doomed.

But, in keeping with my overachiever, Type A personality, my next reaction was to take a deep breath and find out all that I could about cooking a low fat/healthy fat/healthy carb menu for my family.

Immediately.

We needed to see if this suggestion held any water.

And it did.

It was recommended that if we wanted to truly try this out and we were looking for recipes, that The South Beach Diet might be a good one to try for guidelines and new menu ideas. I checked one cookbook out of the library the very next day and read the entire thing cover to cover in about two days’ time, the first weekend of December.

December.

Christmas month.

Cookies, desserts, parties.

Not the easiest time to make such a switch, but I was going to give it 100%.

And so, here it is, December 31, almost a full month into our experiment, and although the chronic stomach pain has not completely disappeared, we have seen an improvement, enough that we want to keep up with this new way of eating. Our family is not on the diet, per se, not following the strict Phase I, II and III plan, but rather using the facts in the beginning of the book about fats and carbs and sugars, along with the recipes throughout the book, to overhaul our menu.

Therefore, in keeping with many people’s top New Year’s Resolutions: losing weight, and staying fit and healthy, The Whole Bag of Chips recipes will be featuring the recipes that we have been using in our meals as of late. We have switched our entire family over to this “diet” so that we are all eating the same thing and all eating as healthy as possible, together.

I tried to keep my healthy versions as close to my regular versions as possible.

I tried to keep my healthy versions as close to my regular versions as possible.

When it came time for Christmas Cookie baking, I made two sets: a regular set of our favorites for our trays and a healthy set of our same favorites, using modified ingredients, for our family. We did not want to give up the things we loved but yet we needed to try to keep to as low fat a diet as possible, even at Christmas.

So today, in preparation for your New Year’s Day breakfast, I will post for you a breakfast recipe that you can use tomorrow morning if you would like to start your 2013 eating healthier too.  The recipe is a modified version of our homemade pancake recipe along with a delicious hot peach compote recipe to go on top. Neither is far off from what we normally would make (in fact this pancake recipe hardly differs from our own), but they both are in keeping with the low fat/healthy fat/healthy carb guidelines. One is a South Beach cookbook recipe and one is from the Farm Girl Gourmet blog that I found online.

Happy 2013 and enjoy!

PANCAKES (from the South Beach Diet Cookbook)

My entire family loved this compote and it was so easy! I'd double the recipe next time.

My entire family loved this compote and it was so easy! I’d double the recipe next time.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups whole wheat or whole grain pastry flour (We have always had whole wheat flour at our house all the time and will often do half wheat, half white flour in our recipes.)

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 egg

1 egg white (we just did two eggs instead of one egg and one egg white)

2 cups buttermilk (to make buttermilk use 1 T. white vinegar to 1 cup milk, so two and two here)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons canola oil (I used plain nonfat yogurt instead of oil, which is a tip we learned a few months back. We love how fluffy it makes our pancakes and waffles.)

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg and egg white until very foamy. Whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla extract, and oil.

Stir into the flour mixture just until the batter is combined and pourable.

Heat a large, nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat.

Pour 1/3 cup batter into the skillet to form a 4″ pancake. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the bottom is browned.

Turn and cook for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown.

I had everything I needed for this recipe at home already.

I had everything I needed for this recipe at home already.

FRESH PEACH COMPOTE (from the Farm Girl Gourmet blog)

INGREDIENTS

1 pound fresh peaches, skinned, pitted and sliced (or frozen)  *I used a bag of Aldi’s frozen peaches.
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cinnamon

DIRECTIONS

In a medium saucepan, add the peaches, brown sugar, water and cinnamon, bring to a boil.

Turn heat down to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until mixture is thick and liquid is syrupy.

A week off for me, a cookie recipe for you!

28 Dec
IMG_8409

These are a great cookie for any time of year, but they have made it onto our trays for the past two years now.

With the holidays in full swing, I took a week off from my regular blog posting in order to prepare for, and celebrate the Christmas holidays with my family.

Today, however, I have one last cookie post for you. It’s a recipe I posted last year also, but it’s great for any time of the year, so I thought it would be a good one to post.

Next week you can look forward to a return to my regular posting schedule once again. I will be showing a few of the great gifts that we received for Christmas this year that I think you’ll enjoy, and I will be back to posting recipes again too.

My blog will also be taking on somewhat of a new twist in the new year, but you’ll have to wait until next week to see exactly what that means.

Until then, enjoy today’s recipe!

Oatmeal Scotchies
INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp grd. cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups quick or old fashioned oats
1 2/3 cup (or one 11 ounce bag) butterscotch chips

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl.

Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla in large mixing bowl.

Gradually beat in flour mixture.

Stir in oats and chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 7-8 minutes for chewier cookies, 9-10 for crispier cookies.

Cool on cookie sheet 2 minutes, transfer to rack to cool completely.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Butternut Squash Soup

19 Dec

ORIGINALLY POSTED NOVEMBER 28, 2011: I’m not feeling great today, with a sore throat and a cough. I keep looking for the next hot thing to drink or eat to soothe my throat and stop my cough. When I was cleaning up my recipes from my Thanksgiving posts, I came across this one, one of our favorite fall recipes and given my sore throat, I figured I’d share it with you. My friend Jody used to live nearby and one day at a play date she served this amazing Butternut Squash Soup. Ever since then, we have made it every year. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Soup

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed

4 TBS. Butter

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 fresh clove of garlic

1 Bay Leaf

4 cups chicken broth

1 tsp dry mustard

1 cup milk

DIRECTIONS

Saute onion, celery, clove of garlic and butter until tender, not brown.

Add squash, chicken broth and bay leaf.

Cover and simmer 30-40 minutes until squash is tender. Remove bay leaf.

Puree in blender, pour into stock pot.

Add:

dash of pepper, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, stir.

Add 1 tsp dry mustard, 1 tsp chopped parsley.

Stir in one cup of milk. Simmer until ready to eat.

This is delicious served with a hot, crusty bread. I will often make a homemade Beer Bread with it, so I’ll post that recipe next. You’ll get a bonus today: two recipes in one day.

Monday Musings: Moving forward

17 Dec

74082_10200179138544924_1255097896_nToday, Monday December 17 is our first day back to school, although those who survived December 14 in Newtown, Connecticut will not be returning to school for quite some time and never to normalcy, ever.

We are trying to go about business-as-usual over here, reminding our children that their school, as well as the schools in which their parents both work are all safe places, and that tragedies such as these, Columbine and 9/11, are a tragic, scary, yet very rare occurrence in life.

As a family who spends a whole lot of time in all of the schools in our city, and in a neighboring city, this has been an incredibly difficult message to pass along.

However, we’ve had lots of help from fellow school administrators, school psychologists and friends along the way; sending emails, Facebook messages, and the like.

Our own school principal at our elementary school has been helpful in sending out many links over the past few days which give suggestions for how to speak to children about tragic events such as this one.

I know that although we’ve had our initial discussions, that the return to school may bring up other questions, fears, issues. We will be on the lookout, watching for any reactions, answering any questions that arise over the next few days and beyond, since this is not a tragedy which will go away, ever.

I thought I’d pass the links along to you as well, in case you find yourself in need of the answer to a question you thought you’d never have to address with your own kids. Thanks again to our wonderful school principal for being in constant touch with his school community throughout the weekend, for passing these links along to us.

What now?

15 Dec
The angels are crying right along with us today.

The angels are crying right along with us today.

Yesterday was another one of those days that will be burned into our memories as a horrible, horrible day.

I’m pretty sure I am not the only one who woke up this morning and opened my eyes trying to think for a moment of what that awful thing was that I was trying to remember. What had happened yesterday? Oh yes, then I remembered.

A massacre happened.

Again.

I wondered exactly how to go about my day. On the one hand, you want to stay hunkered down in the safety of your own home with your own babies and never let them go, not even to school on Monday.

But then you think of all the other parents and families  out there who are in the midst of the worst nightmare of their lives who would give anything to take their kids to the most mundane of tasks this weekend.

And you wonder, do you keep going about your normal events of your days, of Christmas for them? For those who cannot ever again?

My friend Paula has a new soup blog, all soup recipes, and her new post for today is perfect. It’s a perfect answer for what we do today.

I hope you’ll read it and I hope you too, will put on a pot of Sandy Hook Soup in honor of all those who are living this nightmare.

 

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Honey Dijon Pork Chops

12 Dec
I have a love/hate relationship with pork chops.

I have a love/hate relationship with pork chops.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you may remember my love/hate relationship with pork chops. I love them, but my family usually hates them.

In fact, if you search the words “pork chops” in my blog’s search bar, you’ll see all of the various recipes I’ve tried, hoping to find one they like.

Meanwhile, I’ve never stopped liking them.

Recently, I picked up a package of boneless pork chops, going with the Try, Try Again method of meal planning. As I was thinking of how to try them this time, I remembered that we used to do a Honey Dijon pork chop way back when. I knew I liked it, of course, but I had no idea which other family members had or had not. I decided to search for one and try again.
I went to my favorite go-to when I do a recipe search: Allrecipes.com and found a recipe that looked like the one we used to make, except that we used to dip ours in bread crumbs after we dipped them in the sauce first.

This Pampered Chef product is perfect for recipes that require lots of dipping and breading!

This Pampered Chef product is perfect for recipes that require lots of dipping and breading!

I even remembered that I have a cool Pampered Chef product that I use for this type of recipe too, so I pulled that out as well.

The Coating Trays and Tool kit is great for recipes that require you to dip your meat into something or into several somethings. For this particular recipe I ended up using only two of the trays, one for the honey mustard sauce and one for the bread crumbs.

I hope you enjoy today’s recipe. My family liked it well enough.

Kind of.

IMG_8002HONEY DIJON PORK CHOPS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper ( I left this out.)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 boneless pork loin chops
  • I added in bread crumbs for coating after the dipping step.
  • DIRECTIONS
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a baking dish.
    2. Mix Dijon mustard, honey, black pepper, and garlic powder in a bowl. Arrange pork chops in prepared baking dish and pour mustard mixture over pork.
    3. Bake in preheated oven until pork is slightly pink in the center, about 45 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 145 degrees F (63 degrees C).

      We served our recipe with couscous and green beans almondine.

      We served our recipe with couscous and green beans almondine.

Family Movie Night & a Recipe: Homemade Hot Chocolate

7 Dec

ORIGINALLY POSTED DECEMBER 9, 2011

It’s a Friday and for us Friday nights are sometimes Family Movie Nights. It’s the end of the week and it’s often a wind-down night as well. We look forward to it.

In the winter, our Family Movie Night movie is usually “The Polar Express” at least once.

I got this book in 1993, before there even *was* a movie!

We have the hardcover version of the Chris VanAllsburg book, and it’s even autographed. We also have the special bell from the story as well as the cd of the story from a gift set that we received a few years back. You can find the book and the movie here on Amazon.com.

There are several bell crafts you could do to go along with “The Polar Express” if you’d like.

Cups, pipe cleaners, stickers and glitter make for an easy jingle bell craft. If you have a real jingle bell, you can put it inside so that the bell actually rings.

You could:

1) Cut out a bell from construction paper and decorate it with glitter or other materials,

and

2) Turn a styrofoam drinking cup upside down, put a pipe cleaner through the top (gold works well) turning it into a bell that way, decorating it on the outside any way you’d like.

During the winter months, Family Movie Night often includes a special treat: Homemade Hot Chocolate. My kids LOVE this recipe and it came from a cookbook I received as a gift from one of my Stampin’ Up! customers several years back. The cookbook is called “Old Fashioned Holiday Recipes.” It was full of many great recipe ideas, but this one has always been a favorite find and perfect for our Family Movie Nights. It would go especially well with the “Krispie” Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe from yesterday!

Two mugs of hot chocolate

Hot off the stove tonight!

Creamy Hot Chocolate
INGREDIENTS

1 (14 ounce) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT Evaporated Milk)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 1/2 cups hot water
Marshmallows, optional

DIRECTIONS

In a large saucepan over medium heat combine Eagle Brand, cocoa, vanilla and salt; mix well.

Slowly stir in water. Heat through, stirring occasionally. Do not boil.

Top with marshmallows (optional.)

Store covered in refrigerator. Makes about 2 quarts.

Hot chocolate can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days. Mix well and reheat before serving.

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