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Fun Friday: Three ingredient cookies

10 Mar

I added a fourth ingredient…can you guess what it is?

Good morning and TGIF!

Happy Friday to you all. It’s been a little bit since I did a Fun Friday post, so I thought I’d share a fun one with you this week.

My whole “after school snack” routine has gotten a bit derailed lately, mostly because many days no one is coming right home after school, which makes me really the only one who is home and hungry and means I’m always throwing an extra snack into everyone’s backpack to get them through the day. They eat lunch so early in the morning at school that they are starving by 3:00.

Additionally, since my youngest has had to go gluten free a little more than a year ago, one of the things she often takes for lunch is muffins (gluten free, obviously). That knocks off a good 3/4 of my go-to after school snack ideas. I love muffins and I loved making them to eat after school because then we have them for breakfast the next day, if there are any left. Now, out of convenience, I buy six packs of freshly made muffins, four varieties at a time every couple of weeks, at our local gluten free bakery, A&J’s, and I freeze them. By the time she eats lunch they have thawed.

I try to make my snacks healthy as often as I can, and so in going gluten free, I’ve relied on many dips (like this one from 2012 or this one from 2013), cheese and apples, fruit platters and the like. However, I did find a go-to cookie recipe that is fast, easy, healthy and gluten free, as long as you have gluten free oats, which I always do (thanks Bob’s Red Mill!). I have seen this recipe on several sites, and the one I am sharing today is from Recipe Diaries. I have seen versions of these cooked in the oven and I have even seen some that are microwaved. I have only ever cooked mine in the oven.

This week when I made these, I used 3 bananas and 1 1/2 cups of oats to make more cookies. I am also partial to Craisins over raisins, so I used a box of Craisins that is the lunchbox snack size (mostly because that’s what I had on hand) and it was the perfect amount. I’m also VERY partial to chocolate chips, so I threw some of those in too. In the past I have subbed dried pomegranates for the fruit and they were tasty too. Almost anything goes.

I have always tried to make my kids aware of serving sizes when it comes to food, and they always ask me how many or how much of something they are allowed to have, especially when it comes to something like muffins or cookies. With these, it’s nice to know that although they still can’t have an unlimited amount, at least the ones they are having are really pretty healthy, overall. They make a great snack and they satisfy my craving for a little something sweet.

I encourage you to try out the recipe at Recipe Diaries, and have a great weekend!

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One banana, two banana, three banana, four…..

6 Oct
I think we have at least one too many bananas!

I think we have at least one too many bananas!

At our house, we tend to go through a lot of bananas in a week. We use them by themselves, in shakes, cookies, muffins and breads and we even freeze them for future use. Even still, there’s a limit to just how many bananas one family can eat.

Last week we were out of bananas, so when my husband was in the grocery store, he bought two bunches. The next day as I was in a different grocery store, picking up the remainder of what we needed, I also grabbed a bunch of bananas because I hadn’t yet seen the ones he bought.

I hung my bunch up on the hook in the kitchen, only to have him bring his two bunches up later that day. Suddenly, we had *a lot* of bananas.

We’re already down one bunch since that day, but we have two bunches to go, so I’ve been gathering up some of my most banana-y recipes and putting them on the top of my list.

This week, I had one of my favorite lunches, but it’s one I can’t have every day because it’s not really stellar in the way of being very healthy. It’s got a banana in it though, so that’s good, and peanut butter, so that’s good too. If you decide to wash it down with a glass of milk, that’s a bonus.

I read about this sandwich online somewhere, and whenever I eat it, I imagine it’s the type of sandwich that would be featured on a show like “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” where you see amazing things made into a sandwich or piled on top of a waffle, or some other sort of unusual meal.

Ooey and goey, this sandwich is a twist on the old school lunchbox version.

Ooey and goey, this sandwich is a twist on the old school lunchbox version.

The Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich is a twist on an old favorite lunchbox staple, the peanut butter and banana sandwich. The recipe I saw online actually had cream cheese and honey in it also, but that didn’t appeal to me as much. I have done this sandwich in three different varieties so far: peanut butter and banana, with peanut butter, honey and banana, and with peanut butter, Nutella and banana. I’ve eaten it for breakfast some days or for lunch other days. The added touch of the grilled bread makes the sandwich warm and gooey. I’m sure there are other varieties you could try, including the one with cream cheese and honey if you so desire.

Enjoy today’s banana recipe, and feel free to share with me some of your favorite banana recipes in the comments below!

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Chicken, Broccoli, Cauliflower Casserole

11 Feb
This.was.so.good.

This.was.so.good.

On Saturday, January 24 my husband and I ran to the store to pick up “a few things” to get us through “a few days” until we could get out to do a bigger shopping. It was the day after pay day, and when we’d normally be doing a big shopping, but we hadn’t had a chance to sit down and do our normal two week menu, or to make a shopping list.

We went through the store, picking things up here and there that we knew for sure we were out of and that we knew we could use to put together several meals with. Meats, fresh fruits and veggies; things of that nature all went into the cart.

In the back of our minds, we knew that a big snow storm was coming and just the night before, we’d seen the report that it could be “historic,” whatever that meant.

Well who knew we’d be snowed in for days and days? By the time a week had gone by, we were already expecting another storm, and we were getting a little low on groceries, but really not doing too badly. It didn’t really seem necessary to do a bigger shopping at this point, we were so close to the end of the pay cycle, another check would soon be coming.

And besides, as true New Englanders, we had enough milk and bread to sink a boat. A cruise ship, actually. At the very least, we could have sandwiches galore until the cows came home.

As the second week wound down, I was really being creative with our meals. I had a few things left to work with and I hopped onto Pinterest to do a search. I typed in Chicken, Broccoli, and Cauliflower into the search button and waited to see what came up. I had fresh broccoli crowns and a whole head of cauliflower in my fridge still, as well as a bag of chicken tenderloins in the freezer. You can do a lot with those three ingredients, as it turns out. I scrolled and pinned, scrolled and pinned until I saw a recipe that jumped out at me, simply because it hand Panko bread crumbs on top.

I love Panko bread crumbs.

I found this recipe on a site called Stacey Snacks , and it was listed as being a good idea for using leftover chicken. I didn’t actually have leftover chicken, but I could cook up my tenderloins in bite-sized pieces and just pretend that I did.

The recipe was such that I had to make a few minor modifications, and I’ve listed them below. I had to double it because there are a lot of us who love chicken, broccoli and cauliflower here, and because I wanted to use up the entire head of cauliflower and both of my broccoli crowns.  I had an entire block of cheddar cheese in stock and although I was out of half and half, I had 1% milk, which I could make work with the sauce, which I more than doubled.

Stacey’s recipe was unbelievably good. Our family loved it. We had one sick child that day, so she didn’t eat, but the rest: all thumbs up. I ate this for lunch every day for the following days until it was gone. I’d most definitely make it again. I can’t *wait* to make it again.

Here is her recipe and my modifications along with it. Thanks to Stacey for sharing such deliciousness with us all!

INGREDIENTS

1 cup of small fresh broccoli florets (about 1/2 of a small head) **I used two broccoli crowns**
1 cup of small fresh cauliflower florets (about 1/2 of a small head) **I used a whole head of cauliflower**
1 cup of leftover roast chicken, shredded **I cooked up ten chicken tenderloins in bite-sized pieces**
Japanese panko crumbs for the top
olive oil
kosher salt & pepper

For the Sauce:

3 tbsp of REAL mayonnaise **I used 5 Tbsp.**
1/4 cup of half & half **I used 1 cup of 1 % milk**
1 tsp curry powder (you can substitute dry mustard if you don’t like curry) **I used 1/2 Tbsp. yellow mustard**
a pinch of kosher salt & black pepper
1/4 cup of chicken stock  **I used 1 cup chicken broth**
1/2 cup of grated sharp cheddar (I like white cheddar) **I used an 8 oz. block**

DIRECTIONS

Brush an 8″ x 8″ baking dish with some olive oil.  **My dish was 9×12**
Steam the broccoli and cauliflower florets for 2 minutes until bright and still firm.
Lay the vegetables on the bottom of the casserole.
Place the shredded cooked chicken on top of the veggies.
Whisk together the sauce ingredients, including the grated cheese & curry. Season with salt & pepper. (I really didn’t measure here, but what you are going for is a nice thick, cheesy white sauce, sort of like for macaroni and cheese, so use your best cooking sense!).  **I did add a bit of flour just to thicken mine a little since my milk was thinner than half and half would have been.**
Pour over the chicken and vegetables in the dish and press down with a spatula to absorb the liquid. If it seems dry, then add some more chicken stock to the dish.
Optional (but makes it even better!): Spoon some panko crumbs over the top to cover and drizzle with olive oil. **Instead of drizzling with olive oil, I lightly sprayed the bread crumbs with a canola oil spray before baking.**
You can make this a day ahead and keep covered in the fridge until ready to bake.

Bake uncovered in a 375F oven for about 30 minutes until top is golden brown and casserole is bubbly.
Serve with rice or salad.  **We served with rice pilaf.**

Thanks Stacey!
http://www.staceysnacksonline.com/2012/02/good-ideas-leftover-chicken-w-broccoli.html

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Light lunches

4 Feb
A perfect light lunch for those days you just can't eat another sandwich.

A perfect light lunch for those days you just can’t eat another sandwich.

Ever have that feeling where you wake up in the morning, still full from the night before? Well, we woke up in January still full from December. Stuffed.

When it came time to go back to school, I was looking for some lighter lunch ideas to pack in my family’s lunch bags and other than the usual salads and sandwiches, I was stumped. Over the past year, I’ve really revamped what goes into the lunchbags, and I’ve been so pleased with what they now eat for lunch versus in years prior, but I was still looking for something new and different.

One weekend afternoon however, we were watching some sort of cooking show and my daughter saw a recipe that she said looked delicious, and when I saw it, I knew it’d make a perfect lunchbag lunch. Even better, it wasn’t a salad and it wasn’t a sandwich. The recipe was for a lettuce wrap that contained hummus and diced peppers. The peppers they showed were red, but here at home we happened to have some green peppers on hand, and that works just as well. I had everything we needed, so the very next time I was packing up all the lunches, those who like hummus got a lettuce

Another light, refreshing change for lunches.

Another light, refreshing change for lunches.

wrap, some pita chips for dipping or for crushing on top, and a plastic fork and knife, just in case the wrap was too heavy to eat by hand (which it turned out it was.)

It was a success; a nice, light change from our usual lunches, and I got a thumbs up at the end of the day. With such success, I did another type of lettuce wrap later that week, using some quinoa tabouleh that my husband had made with leftover quinoa from a previous meal. We didn’t have chick peas to throw in, but we had everything else.

Another great, light lunch. One of the days my husband even combined the hummus and the tabouleh into one in order to make a loaded salad, loving all this eating from his Lebanese heritage.

These lunches were quick, healthy, affordable and easy to do in the mornings and I was so pleased with the positive reviews, I’d definitely do them again. They were a nice, light change to start off the new year.

I think you can practically make a lettuce wrap out of anything, or put anything on top of a salad, so tell me, what kinds of things do you put into a lettuce wrap or on top of your salad?

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Soup for everyone

5 Nov
Three soups that are quick, easy and can all be done simultaneously.

Three soups that are quick, easy and can all be done simultaneously.

Earlier in the school year I did quite a bit of food preparation ahead of time, making and freezing foods for future use. One thing I’d wanted to do but hadn’t had time to do, was make and freeze some soup.

Recently when I had one child home sick for an extended amount of time, I had an afternoon where I’d have a couple of hours to make some soup. The only question was, what kind of soup? Everyone has a favorite. I love cream of broccoli and creamy cauliflower soup, as does my oldest daughter, who happened to be the one home sick. But, my other daughters and my husband, they love the cream of tomato soup that I’ve been making lately and my middle daughter in particular had been asking for it quite often.

When I thought about the recipes though, they were all pretty similar. Other than the actual vegetable for each soup, namely broccoli, cauliflower and tomato, the base ingredients and instructions were all pretty similar: onion and chicken broth. The tomato soup had a few extra spices thrown in, and the broccoli soup had celery added in and some milk and flour at the end, but ultimately I realized that I could actually make all three at the same time, almost like an assembly line: cut up all the onion, divide it into the soup pots, cut up each veggie and add them in, and then simmer. If any additional steps or ingredients were needed, it wasn’t all that hard to do. Nothing was complicated, expensive or time-consuming. In an hour I’d be done. The tomato soup has an option to put in tortellini and shrimp at the end, but this time around I was doing it without those last two ingredients mostly because that is what had been requested.

Just like that...three soups, done and everyone's taste buds were happy!!

Just like that…three soups, done and everyone’s taste buds were happy!!

Although I cried a lot of tears cutting up all those onions, overall it was a great experiment and all went off as planned. I had enough soup for whoever wanted whatever kind they wanted over the next couple of days, and then using quart-sized bags, I froze the rest. We already had a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon where a few of us had soup for lunch from the freezer, and there’s still more for whenever we need it, whether it’s for an after school snack, a lunch or a dinner where someone doesn’t like what’s on the regular night’s menu.

Since these soups have already been featured on my blog, I’m putting the links below so that you can refer to them if you’d like to make any or all of them for yourself. The weather here is starting to cool down and it will be nice to have some soups for the upcoming chilly days and nights ahead!

Here are the links for you.

If you’d like to make the Cream of Broccoli Soup, click here.

If you’d like to make the Creamy Cauliflower Soup, click here.

If you’d like to make the Creamy Tomato Soup, click here.

Enjoy!

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Healthy Shrimp Scampi

15 Oct
This was a great alternative scampi recipe for our family!

This was a great alternative scampi recipe for our family!

I know I say it all the time, but I just love all the recipes that come across my Facebook page every day. I’ve gotten so many great ideas just by my daily scrolling. Today’s recipe is one such recipe.

The only down side is I can’t remember who shared it! I know it was on Facebook though and it says it was from the Prego & Mommy Facebook Page. That’s not a page I follow, so someone definitely shared it and it appeared in my feed.

The thing that appealed to me about this particular recipe for Shrimp Scampi was that it specifically stated that it did not use any butter. We have issues with butter here, and anything too buttery makes some of us sick. I substitute with “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter” pretty often, but when I saw that this recipe had no butter at all, I decided to give it a try.

I’m glad I did! It got thumbs up from all who tried it! I’d definitely make it again. The thing I liked about it too, was that you could make it as lemony as you wanted it to be (or not to be) by adding additional lemon at the end.

I followed the recipe just as it read, other than one change to the type of shrimp I used which is noted below, and I served it with wide egg noodles. Anyone who didn’t want the shrimp could have plain pasta if they so desired. There was just enough left at the end of the night that I could have it for lunch the next day, too! I love it when that happens.

Here’s the recipe just as I copied it:

Easy & Healthy Shrimp….No Butter (uses chicken broth, white wine, lemon juice)
Ingredients
4 tsp olive oil
1 1/4 pounds med raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails left on)  **I used a bag of frozen shrimp and I removed the tails before cooking.***
6-8 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup + 1 T minced parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
4 lemon wedges
Preparation
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Saute the shrimp until just pink, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon transfer the shrimp to a platter and keep them warm.
In the skillet, combine the broth, wine, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of the parsley, the salt and pepper; and bring it to a boil. Boil uncovered, until the sauce is reduced by half.
Spoon the sauce over the shrimp. Serve garnished with the lemon wedges and sprinkled with the remaining tablespoon of parsley. Enjoy!

Get your pumpkin on and Go Orange for No Kid Hungry!

1 Oct
Thanks to Paula over at My Soup For You for teaming up with me today to bring you some great pumpkin recipes, and for bringing even more awareness to No Kid Hungry!

Thanks to Paula over at My Soup For You for teaming up with me today to bring you some great pumpkin recipes, and for bringing even more awareness to No Kid Hungry!

It’s October! It’s fall. It’s the season of beautiful leaves, fun autumn events like apple picking, hay rides and pumpkin carving.

Pumpkin….mmmmm…..does it make you think of pumpkin spiced coffee, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin muffins and pumpkin pie?!

Me too!!

We’re a lucky bunch, most of us. We can run through the drive through at the local donut shop and get this month’s pumpkin flavored muffin or drink, without too much of a struggle. We can pop a recipe for my good friend Paula’s Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread or her Pumpkin Soup right into the oven and enjoy it without too much trouble. All those warm, orange flavors warm our bellies and our thoughts all throughout the fall.

We’re very lucky.

Not everyone is so lucky, however. According to the No Kid Hungry statistics for our local area, as of June 2013 (more than a year ago), 22% of kids in our little state were struggling with hunger. Fifty-five percent of them were eligible for free or reduced lunch at school, and only 51% of those students were eating school breakfast.

At a recent school event I covered for the newspaper earlier this month, when a room full of young students were asked what the most important thing was that they’d miss if they were late to school, their answer wasn’t attendance, or morning math, or reading, it was breakfast. Every student who raised their hand was worried that if they were late to school in the morning, they’d go hungry until lunchtime.

Childhood hunger across our nation is a growing problem, but we can do something to help.

Last year, you may remember that our own family started a local Go Orange Day for No Kid Hungry after seeing a television commercial about the nationwide effort to help end childhood hunger. Nationally, the official Go Orange Day for No Kid Hungry is at the end of September, but we opted to do ours just a little bit later at the start of October. It was a big success. We rallied our large school district, the superintendent’s offices and City Hall all to Go Orange for No Kid Hungry, and raised over $1000 in monetary donations as well as bringing in hundreds of pounds of non-perishable food items for our local food pantry. We were helping to put food on the tables of families all around us, and it was a great feeling.  All around us, local restaurants and other establishments went Orange as well, donating portions of their proceeds to the No Kid Hungry effort, and wearing orange to show their spirit.

This year, we’re doing it again. We’ve pushed our date out slightly further, and this year on Friday, October 31, Halloween Day we’ll be getting our pumpkin on, going Orange for No Kid Hungry again. We’ve rallied our school district, our superintendent’s office, City Hall, and even our church to help us put an end to childhood hunger again this year. So far we’ve had TEN local responses for going Orange on Halloween Day. Even more exciting, we’ve had some inquiries from local folks wanting to spread this year’s local Go Orange day to their communities and schools within our state and neighboring areas. All around our city, people will be showing their Halloween spirit, dressing in orange, donating money and/or non-perishable food items on Halloween Day and helping out their neighbors all in a day’s work.

We are thrilled. Wouldn’t it be great if we could really make a difference EVERY YEAR?

Wouldn’t it be great if just by spreading awareness and spreading the word, we could help feed other families?

We are foodies, we are blessed, we are thankful to be able to cook and bake and eat our fun pumpkin flavors in the spirit of the season, all month long.

So I ask you: will you get your pumpkin on this Halloween Day too? Will you spread the awareness of childhood hunger in your area and continue the good work of No Kid Hungry and their Go Orange efforts in your city or town, at your school or church or temple? Will you help?

Get your pumpkin on. Visit Paula’s blog over at My Soup for You and help her spread the word too. Make some Pumpkin Soup. Grab some Pilgrim Pies, eat some pumpkin spiced Chex snack mix, and be thoughtful, be thankful that you can help another family in such a simple way.