Tag Archives: after school snack

After School Snack: Nutella Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

6 Sep
This is a great treat for (me) the kids after school!

This is a great treat for (me) the kids after school!

Recently a friend passed along a recipe for a Nutella Frosty which sounded delicious. It called for milk and vanilla ice cream and Nutella.

It sounded wonderful.

We decided to make it even MORE wonderful!

It was such a hit, we had it several times this summer and we already had it for an after school snack once this school year, and we’ve only had six days of school!

We added a few ingredients to the original frosty recipe, making it a little bit healthier.

Into the blender it goes!

Into the blender it goes!

Into our blender we put:
Nutella

Peanut Butter (we used reduced fat because of our dietary restrictions)

Two bananas

Fat Free Vanilla Frozen Yogurt

Skim milk

Blend it all up, add some light whipped cream to the top, throw in a straw and you’re good to go!

Enjoy!

Monday Musings: It’s over and done…have a cookie.

26 Aug
All's quiet as we prepare for the first day back to school, back to routine.

All’s quiet as we prepare for the first day back to school, back to routine.

Well folks, that’s that.

Summer’s over, at least for us. The best two months of the calendar year have flown by, but they’ve been two wonderful months, for sure.

Tomorrow is the first day back to school.

We’ll be starting our first year where both our elementary kids are on the intermediate hallway. No more primary grades. Ever.

We’ll be starting our last year of middle school for our first kid. Next year…high school.

Yikes.

On a happy note…only ten more months until summer.

To celebrate, let’s have a cookie.

A couple of weeks back I tried out a new recipe, modified it for our needs, and it was a huge success. So today I’m sharing that recipe with you. Enjoy your week, munch on a cookie, it makes everything seem better.

These were in a new cookbook I received from a family friend recently. Everyone loved them!

These were in a new cookbook I received from a family friend recently. Everyone loved them! They’d make a great after school snack!

Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

(with our modifications in italics)
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter (we use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk (we use skim)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 3/4 cup white flour (we did one cup of white and 3/4 cup wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional and I did NOT add it in)
2 1/2 cups uncooked quick-cooking or old fashioned rolled oats
1 pkg. Semisweet Chocolate morsels
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional and I did NOT add it in)
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
In large mixing bowl combine brown sugar, butter and granulated sugar.
Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, milk and vanilla.
Beat at medium speed until well blended.
Add flour, baking soda and salt.
Beat at low speed until soft dough forms.
Stir in oats, chocolate chips and nuts.
Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls 2″ apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 9-10 minutes for chewy cookies or 12-13 minutes for a crisp cookie (I DID TEN.)
Let cool for 1 minute before removing from cookie sheets. Cool completely before storing.

Makes approximately 5 dozen cookies.

Fun Friday: Have you ever tried these?

2 Aug
One of our summer dessert experiments: Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

One of our summer dessert experiments: Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

I can’t be the only mom who’s seen these everywhere, can I?

Cupcakes.

Ice cream cones.

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes.

It sounded easy enough when my kids asked if we could try these and take them to one of the concerts on the beach this summer.

It was going to be Elizabeth’s birthday that night and we thought that’d make a great treat for her and for the rest of the kids who would be joining us at the concert.

I made cake batter and frosting. I had cones, food coloring and cherries. Elizabeth asked if we could make the cake batter marbled with the food coloring to make it look like “Crazy Vanilla” ice cream, a flavor at our local ice cream spot.

How hard could this be?

Silly question.

These look near-perfect in the photo, but I definitely had some issues. If anyone has ever made these before, I’d love to hear some comments with tips or suggestions!

Problem number one: leaky cones!

Problem number one: leaky cones!

My first problem was that the cake batter leaked out of many of the cones, filling the tins.

The cake batter was cooked, and swirled as Elizabeth had requested, but some of the cones were now half-full and then had these little muffin top type things around the bottom.

They almost went in the trash.

The kids stopped me before I got there. They were still cupcakes they said. They would still taste good, they said. Let’s just keep them, they said.

So we did.

I added food coloring to the frosting and gave them each a color and a bowl of cherries to decorate their cupcakes.

They were done! So pretty. Ready to go.

Which leads me to Problem Number Two.

How would one transport these pretty little ice cream cone cupcakes?

I had a cupcake carrier, which I planned on using. However, keeping them standing upright proved to be a difficult task.

Impossible actually.

By the time we got ourselves onto the beach they had all fallen. I’d even tried wrapping them in foil around the bottom to fill the tins, in the hopes it’d keep them from falling over.

I’d call this an Epic Fail, a term my kids often use.

But they weren’t all bad. The kids all ate them anyway. Upside down, sideways, leaky or not, they were still a cupcake. Still frosted with a cherry on top (or next to). They still tasted good, or so they said.

So would I make these again? I think so.

Anyone out there have any ideas, tips or tricks for me?

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Strawberry English Muffin Fruitwiches

24 Jul
English muffins: not just for breakfast!

English muffins: not just for breakfast!

A while back I posted about Elizabeth’s cookbook and I posted one of the recipes we’d tried at the time, a tuna salad recipe. Since then we’ve had it for lunch and even for dinner!

Today, I thought I’d post another recipe from that same cookbook, one that we have had for lunch and for dinner this summer, and one that we’ve also modified slightly to meet everyone’s different taste buds. It’s a great summer meal because it is cool, doesn’t involve using an oven, and uses a great summer fruit: fresh strawberries.

The ingredients for this are simple, no matter which way you choose to make it. You need:

Fresh sliced strawberries

an English Muffin

Strawberry jam

Goat cheese, cream cheese, or peanut butter

Elizabeth's cookbook of choice

Elizabeth’s cookbook of choice

The directions are even more simple!

“Split an English Muffin and lightly toast the halves. Spread the cut side of the bottom half with softened goat cheese or plain whipped cream cheese (we also have done peanut butter). Top with a thin layer of strawberry jam, followed by a layer of thin strawberry slices. Cover with the top half of the muffin, jam side down, and press gently.”

We prefer to do open-faced sandwiches, in order to have more fresh strawberries! This sandwich has been a hit every time we’ve served it, and it’s easily modified for everyone.

Next time you’re looking for a summery lunch or a cool dinner (or maybe even a yummy summer breakfast,) give these English Muffin Fruitwiches a try!

A great summer snack: Honey Yogurt Fruit Dip

15 Jul
This is a great dip for a summer day!

This is a great dip for a summer day!

The summer is flying by! I can’t believe the Fourth of July is well past us and it’s mid-July already.

We have been super busy, celebrating the holiday, Elizabeth’s birthday, spending time with family and even celebrating Christmas in July last week.

My blog posts have been sporadic, as promised!

But, I wanted to take some time to share with you a new dip that we tried out recently. A while back I’d posted a similar dip but it used 1/4 cup of sugar, which I always found to be a lot. It was delicious, don’t get me wrong…I’d eat it with a spoon if I could, but it was a lot of sugar nevertheless.

Recently I found this dip in the April 2013 issue of Good Housekeeping, which uses honey instead of sugar and the flavor is similar. We tried it out with some summer fruits and it was wonderful. I thought I’d share it with you today so that you can give it a try also.

I hope that you are enjoying your summer as much as we are!

HONEY YOGURT FRUIT DIP

3/4 cup plain yogurt  (we use fat free or low fat yogurt)

3 TBSP. Honey

1/4 tsp. vanilla

Serves Four

A Sweet Treat for a Summer Snack

8 Jul
These barely had any time on the plate before they were devoured!

These barely had any time on the plate before they were devoured!

We tried a new snack recently. I’d seen a recipe somewhere for chocolate covered apricots. I love dried apricots, and I love chocolate, so I thought this would be worth a try. When the time came though, I couldn’t find wherever it was that I saw the original recipe so I Googled them and came up with one from About.com. It called for nuts, but I omitted the nuts and doubled the recipe since I had two bags of apricots to use.

The recipe was fast and easy and made a yummy snack. I’d definitely make them again. There are lots of fruits you can dip in chocolate including strawberries and bananas. I’ve also seen recipes for chocolate dipped kiwi, and since my kids love kiwi I thought I’d try that in the future too, so be on the lookout.

In the meantime, here’s the recipe as we tried it from About.com, modified for our nut-free preferences.

Enjoy!

I melted my chocolate in a double boiler on top of the stove.

I melted my chocolate in a double boiler on top of the stove.

Ingredients: (we doubled this recipe)

  • 24 whole dried apricots
  • 2 ounces (1/2 cup) toasted almonds, finely chopped
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate

Preparation:

1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil. Place the chopped almonds in a small bowl. (if using)

2. Temper or melt the chocolate in a medium bowl. (I did a double boiler on top of the stove.)

3. Holding an apricot by the tip, dip most of the fruit into the melted chocolate, swirling to ensure even coverage. Remove it from the chocolate and drag it along the lip of the bowl, removing excess chocolate.

Dried apricots are a pretty healthy snack, before you add the chocolate! We used semisweet chocolate.

Dried apricots are a relatively healthy snack, before you add the chocolate! We used semisweet chocolate.

4. Pat both sides of the chocolate-dipped apricot on the chopped almonds, covering both sides with nuts.

5. Place the candy on the prepared baking sheet, and repeat for the remaining apricots.

6. Place in the refrigerator to set the chocolate for approximately 10 minutes. If the chocolate has been tempered, the candy can be served at room temperature, but if it has not, it should be kept refrigerated until served.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Cauliflower Soup

3 Apr
You can either use fresh or frozen cauliflower for this recipe.

You can either use fresh or frozen cauliflower for this recipe.

Recently, my friend Karen sent me the link to a soup she really loved. It’s so fast and has very easy ingredients, and it’s one that I can drink in a mug, so it’s good for the days where I can’t stop for lunch. The link was to the blog Skinnytaste, and this soup has been a huge hit at our house.

The recipe originally calls for a head of cauliflower, and I have to say, it’s absolutely the best when made with fresh cauliflower. It’s thicker and tastier. But, I like keeping bags of frozen veggies on hand in my freezer for when I’m out of fresh veggies and I like that this recipe can also be made using the frozen ones.

Since trying this recipe out over February vacation, I’ve made it at least four or five times. You literally throw everything into the pot and let it simmer. When it’s done you blend and eat. It’s that simple. It’s completely healthy and it makes a great meal or even a great in-between-meals snack. Sometimes Caroline will have this as her after school snack. I’ll take that any day for a healthy choice!

The big, big deal though is the fact that prior to receiving this recipe, I did not have an immersion blender, otherwise known as a hand blender. I tried making it without one, and I could not. It was kind of a mess, to say the least.

A new immersion blender=a whole new world for me and my kitchen!

A new immersion blender=a whole new world for me and my kitchen!

I now have this immersion blender, and I SOOOO love it. I wanted one but I did not want to spend a lot of money so my friend Debra recommended this one from Walmart and it’s been great. I’ve used it for this soup and my cream of broccoli soup. I’ve also used the other attachment piece for making instant pudding and the batter for french toast.

The immersion blender is essential for this recipe, and I highly recommend both the recipe and the blender to make it happen! Below is Gina’s recipe from Skinnytaste, and I hope you’ll visit her blog and check it out!

Using a large head of fresh cauliflower made this batch of soup so thick and smooth and creamy.

Using a large head of fresh cauliflower made this batch of soup so thick and smooth and creamy.

CAULIFLOWER SOUP
INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large head cauliflower – chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 4-6 cups water
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • **we use chicken broth instead of water and bouillon cubes.

DIRECTIONS:
In a 5 quart saucepan, add all ingredients. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes.) Puree with an immersion blender until smooth.

Springtime Smoothies

15 Mar
A healthy springtime snack!

A healthy springtime snack!

Just the other day I wrote about some of the signs of spring’s arrival that I look forward to: things like the weather changing, longer days and the chance to play outside.

Another thing that happens when the seasons change is that our menu changes a bit too. As the weather warms up our snacks are often cool and refreshing rather than warm and toasty.  Our dinners are often cooked outside and then eaten outside too.

One snack in particular that my kids love is smoothies. I make them at home in the blender all the time, but most especially as the weather gets warmer.

Just the other day I got a request to go through the McDonalds drive through for one of their Shamrock Shakes. Unfortunately, that request had to be denied. However, I knew that at home, I could recreate the same sort of shake in the form of a green smoothie, and it’d be much cheaper and much healthier.

With some Aldi’s Nonfat Vanilla Yogurt, skim milk, ice and some green food coloring, (you could also add in some mint extract for flavoring if you wanted) I was able to create a snack that was lower in fat, calories, sugar and carbs than what the original request had been.

A quick couple of minutes in the blender and you've got your healthy after school snack!

A quick couple of minutes in the blender and you’ve got your healthy after school snack!

To give you some quick comparisons:

One cup of Aldi’s nonfat Vanilla yogurt:

140 calories

0 Fat
0 Saturated Fat

0 Trans Fat

1% cholesterol (5mg)

9% carbohydrates (27g)

22g sugar

13% protein (7g)

(don’t forget to add in your skim milk and if you’d like, some mint flavored extract and fat free whipped cream!)

One McDonald’s Shamrock Shake 11.3 oz. (nutrition information taken from Livestrong.com)

416 calories

15%  Total Fat (9.8 g)

30% Saturated Fat (6g)

12% cholesterol (38 mg)

24% carbohydrates (72.4 g)

18% Protein (9.4 g)

61.5 g sugar

So next time you get a request for that special fast food shake, see if you can recreate something similar at home too! It’s cheaper (especially times three or four people) and it’s better for you!

New cookie recipe: I consider these “Superfoods”

8 Mar

I have a new chocolate cookbook that I received from Caroline for Christmas this year. IMG_0115

It’s fantastic.

I already went through it and tabbed a bunch of recipes, and we’ve already made two of them so far, both were delicious. One of them I am going to share with you today. Elizabeth and I made it together last weekend as a surprise for the rest of the family when they were out.

Overall, many of the recipes in this cookbook are already “healthified,” made with some healthier options. Today’s recipe is one of those healthier option recipes.

In fact, it’s so healthy, I might consider these cookies a “Superfood!”

You laugh (I can hear you) but just look at the ingredients in this recipe, read my post about super foods from last week and read the following blurb that I just read *today* in the March 13 issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine, that supports my superfood cookie claim:

“When you think ‘superfood,’ you probably picture kale or blueberries. But potent plant goodness comes in liquid form, too. Coffee is the nation’s number one source of antioxidants, accounting for 40% of our overall intake, according to research from the University of Scranton.”

Elizabeth was so excited to be the kid in the kitchen this time around!

Elizabeth was so excited to be the kid in the kitchen this time around!

First, let me just say that reading this thrilled me. I think I probably get more like 50% of my antioxident intake from coffee!

And second, although I’m being humorous, this recipe actually has coffee in it, which is why I drew your attention to that fact.

The cookies were a hard, crunchy cookie, which is the kind I prefer. Everyone here loved them, all thumbs up, and I didn’t think twice about offering them dessert, knowing that I was really providing them with daily doses of antioxidants!!

Below is the recipe. Now keep your eye open for all the healthier choices and you’ll see why these cookies were a superfood in my house!

My new superfood cookies

My new superfood cookies

CHOCOLATE & COFFEE WHOLE WHEAT COOKIES
INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup unsalted butter or margarine (we used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.)

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg (we used egg substitute)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

pinch of salt

scant 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon bran (We took bran flakes and crushed them up in a ziploc bag and took 1 tablespoon from there.)

1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

2 cups rolled oats

1 tablespoon strong coffee (I used decaf!)

2/3 cup hazelnuts toasted and coarsely chopped (I skipped this ingredient.)

Using the larger of my two Pampered Chef scoops makes our cookies more uniform.

Using the larger of my two Pampered Chef scoops makes our cookies more uniform.

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Grease two large cookie sheets (I don’t grease, mine are fine.)

Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl. Add the egg and beat well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt. Then add in the whole wheat flour and bran.

Mix in the egg mixture, then stir in the chocolate chips, oats, coffee, and hazelnuts.

Mix well.

Put 24 rounded tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake 16-18 minutes or until golden brown. (Ours took less, around 15 minutes.)

Remove from oven, then transfer to a cooling rack and let cool before serving.

Enjoy!!

A Great Friday Snack: Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

22 Feb
The simplest things, like these Mardi Gras masks can provide hours of fun on a week like this one!

The simplest things, like these Mardi Gras masks can provide hours of fun on a week like this one!

Happy Friday everyone!

I hope you all had a great week! We’re finishing off February Vacation week here and it’s flown by, despite the fact that we had no set plans really.

We got to see real, live raptors VERY close up on Wednesday afternoon at the library. Very. Close.Up.

We got to see real, live raptors VERY close up on Wednesday afternoon at the library. Very. Close.Up.

We had a great week it turns out, thanks to the Cranston Public Library. We went there on Wednesday to return our books and realized that there were lots of great programs lined up for this week: a great Raptor program from a local wildlife preserve (Born to be Wild Nature Center in Bradford, RI) and the showing of a movie we had not yet seen, were the two things we took advantage of.

Little things like that give the kids something to look forward to and make the week go by.  And, it gives them the chance to take out new library books. We came home Wednesday with a new slew of books for them to read. Gotta love that too.

Best of all, those activities are all free, from the reading to the raptors to the movie.

Gotta love that even more.

They sounded like rock stars on Tuesday afternoon!

They sounded like rock stars on Tuesday afternoon!

We also had the opportunity to participate in a fun recording session at Reel to Real Recording Studio right here in Cranston. The girls were singing like rock stars for the whole afternoon on Tuesday. If you’ve never been there, it’s great fun so check it out!

We had a great time talking all about our trip and showing lots of photos and memorabilia.

We had a great time talking all about our trip and showing lots of photos and memorabilia.

And finally, we made a visit to Grandma Grello’s assisted living facility, where we got the Mardi Gras masks and matching bead necklaces too, and where Caroline presented her power point presentation about the Kids State Dinner trip.  It was her second such presentation in one week’s time and she did a great job with it, as usual. Reliving that trip is always amazing for us and the audience really enjoyed the presentation. Even better, it sparked some great conversation from the residents about their memories of Washington DC., some dating back to WWII. Living history: a privilege for us to be a part of.

Below is a great Friday recipe for you, taken from the blog, The Girl Who Ate Everything.  We made this on Valentine’s Day but it makes a great after school snack and actually we had leftovers and my kids put it on their homemade waffles this weekend too.

We had barely any of the awesome fruits they have in their recipe below, but we made it work anyway. I used a red apple, a green apple and a green pear and they ate it right up. It’s super colorful, and I always love colorful foods.  I think it’s a plus when you can adapt a recipe to suit what you have on hand and it still comes out great.

So whether you are looking for something for an after school snack or something for vacation week’s end, this is a great choice for you!

This was a great, healthy snack. We used fat free tortillas and sugar free jelly.

This was a great, healthy snack. We used fat free tortillas, fat free cooking spray and sugar free jelly.

Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

Ingredients

    • 2 kiwis, peeled and diced
    • 2 Golden Delicious apples – peeled, cored and diced
    • 8 ounces raspberries
    • 1 (16 oz) carton of strawberries, diced
    • 2 tablespoons white sugar (more or less to taste)
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (more or less to taste)
    • 3 tablespoons fruit preserves, any flavor (I used strawberry)
    • 10 (10 inch) flour tortillas
    • melted butter or butter flavored cooking spray
Cinnamon sugar:
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix kiwis, apples, raspberries, strawberries, white sugar, brown sugar and fruit preserves. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 15 minutes.
  2. It didn't matter that we didn't have the exact fruits listed in the recipe. We used what was on hand and it was great!

    It didn’t matter that we didn’t have the exact fruits listed in the recipe. We used what was on hand and it was great!

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  3. Coat one side of each flour tortilla with melted butter or butter flavored cooking spray. Sprinkle tortillas with desired amount of cinnamon sugar. Cut into wedges and arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Spray again with cooking spray (not necessary if using melted butter).
  4. Bake in the preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes. Repeat with any remaining tortilla wedges. Allow to cool approximately 15 minutes. Serve with chilled fruit mixture. This salsa can also be served with cinnamon graham crackers or cinnamon pita chips. Best when made and eaten the same day otherwise the fruit gives off too much juice and it gets runny.

Notes

Source: Allrecipes