Thursday, October 28, 2010

Yes, I'm still here...

but just taking a brief blogging break. Life has been a bit crazy lately. My grandmother passed away so I was out of town for a while for her funeral. And then I come back to a crazy house, crazy weather, and no electricity for a while. And now I'm heading out of town again for a few days for a college friend's wedding this weekend.

I'll be back sometime next week, I promise. All is well, and I'll have lots of blogging catch-up to do. Take care everyone and a Happy Halloween to you and your family!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Menu Plan: Week of 10/18/10

I'm trying two new soup recipes this week and starting a weekly "soup night" for us. (I would normally make only one soup but I've been craving Hot & Sour Soup and I know the kids wouldn't care for it). The weather is cooler and the kids and I love soup, so why not? It's usually pretty simple to throw together, can simmer until hubby finally arrives home, and it keeps really well for leftovers. I'm looking forward to relaxed, fun week of cooking! Here's what's in store this week:

cold cereal and toast
Granola bars (for the preschool mornings when we need to be out the door quickly)
Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes (from freezer), bananas

Poor Man's Pizza, oranges, carrot sticks
Pita chips and hummus, apple slices
PB&J, apple slices, pretzels

Monday: Soup night! Hot and Sour Soup for me and hubby (new recipe - will post it soon if it turns out well); Tomato Tortellini Soup (new recipe) for the kids; Italian Breadsticks

Tuesday: Homemade Chicken Nuggets, oven fries, peas

Wednesday: Tator Tot Hotdish, lettuce salad, honeydew melon

Thursday: clean out the fridge night

Friday: Slow Cooker Lasagna, lettuce salad, green beans, melon

Saturday: Homemade Pizza, fruit

Sunday: clean out the fridge night

Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for more menu planning ideas.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Healthier Apple Crisp

You just can't beat Autumn in Minnesota. The colors are beautiful, the air is crisp (with the exception of last week with temps in the mid-80s...) and the orchards are packed with scrumptious apples. So far this season, the kids and I have been apple picking THREE times, which has amounted to an abundance of apples. One of my favorite dishes is apple crisp. I have this great recipe from my hometown's hospital cookbook that is out-of-this-world good, but it also calls for nearly two cups of sugar. Yikes. I found this recipe that calls for much less sugar and tastes nearly as good, is nice and easy to put together, and makes your house smell absolutely wonderful. Enjoy!

"Healthified" Apple Crisp (adapted from Eat Better America)

6 c. (about 6 medium) sliced, peeled apples
1/4 c. frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
1 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
3/4 c. old-fashioned oats
1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. butter, softened
1/4 tsp. ground ginger

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 8-inch square (2-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In medium bowl, mix apples, apple juice concentrate and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon until well mixed. Spread in baking dish.
In the same medium bowl, mix oats, flour, brown sugar, butter, ginger and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon until crumbly. Sprinkle over apples.
Bake uncovered 30 to 35 minutes or until apples are tender and topping is golden brown.
(Terrific served with vanilla ice cream!)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I recently located a delicious banana chocolate chip muffin recipe and decided to try to make it a bit healthier by adding some whole wheat flour, taking out a bit of sugar and oil, and adding some applesauce. The result was fantastic! My kids (and myself!) loved them and they freeze beautifully for a quick thaw/reheat in the morning. Enjoy!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (adapted from this AllRecipes recipe)

1 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. applesauce
1/2 c. plain yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. mashed, ripe bananas
1/2 c. miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl, combine the egg, oil, yogurt and vanilla. Stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in bananas and chocolate chips.

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for about 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for at least 5 minutes and then remove muffins to wire rack to cool.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Menu Plan: Week of 10/11/10

We are coming off of a very busy, hectic week last week. There were days when I felt like I had buckled the kids in and out of their carseats at least 15 times, running between preschool, playdates, appointments, and errands. This week I hope to settle down a bit, stay home a bit more, stress a little less, and enjoy my kiddos.

As for menu planning, I really didn't start doing it until I sat down to write this post. We visited another apple orchard this weekend (our third time this season!) so we have a lot of Haralson apples to use up this week. I'm looking forward to baking with them and just munching away, as well. My menu, so far, only requires me to get one thing from the store: potatoes. I consider that a pretty good "eat from the pantry/freezer" week. Here's our plan for the week:

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (freezer)(I'll try to get this recipe posted this week)
Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes (freezer)
Cold cereal and toast
Apple Cinnamon French Toast (carryover from last week)

Poor Man's Pizza, apple slices
Creamy Mac and Cheese (the kids' new favorite lunch!), orange slices, carrot sticks with ranch dressing
PB&J, pretzels, cheese sticks, apple slices
Homemade chicken nuggets, cottage cheese, pickles and carrots

Monday: Cheesy Green Enchiladas (made with leftover frozen pork), chips and salsa, pineapple and strawberries

Tuesday: Chicken wild rice soup made with leftover CrockPot Angel Chicken from the weekend, Honey Mustard Salad

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: hubby working late; grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for me and the kids

Friday: Slow Cooker Beef Roast (new recipe), mashed potatoes and carrots, lettuce salad

Saturday: leftovers

Sunday: Hubby is cooking or out to eat?

Baking and extras:
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread (for a treat for my son's early childhood class, and an extra loaf for us!)
Granola bars

For more menu planning ideas, please visit I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Homemade Chicken Nuggets

We don't visit the Golden Arches much in this family, but when we do, my kids get super excited about getting those little fried nugget goodies in their Happy Meals. (My husband loves them, too, but I personally think they are disgusting.) I decided to try a homemade and much healthier version for a lunch-time treat at home, and both my 3-year-old and almost-2-year-old loved them. I'm not going to say they taste like the ones from the Golden Arches because they don't (which, in my opinion, is a good thing. I just watched this video last night about how fast-food chicken nuggets are made and I'm not sure my kids are ever touching those things again.) They are much more flavorful and very tender. The best part is, I was able to assemble them during naptime and keep covered in the fridge until I was ready to bake them. Enjoy!

Baked Chicken Nuggets (adapted from Miserly Meals: Healthy, Tasty Recipes Under 75¢ per Serving by Jonni McCoy)

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
¼ c. low fat mayonnaise
1 c. bread crumbs
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. paprika
2 tsp. Italian seasoning (I used Italian-seasoned bread crumbs so only added 1 tsp. Italian seasoning)
½ tsp. sea salt

Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces. Pat them dry with a paper towel.

Combine the dry ingredients in a shallow dish.

Brush the chicken pieces with mayonnaise. Roll the chicken pieces in the seasoning, then place on a baking sheet.

(Warning: your fingers will get very messy during this process!)

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. I served mine with some ketchup, homemade ranch dressing, a fruit salad and green vegetable. And there you have it - a healthy, kid-friendly meal!

(Tip: the leftovers freeze very well! Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the leftover chicken nuggets on the pan so they aren't touching. Place in the freezer for a couple of hours, and then remove to a plastic freezer bag. When reheating, just bake them in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes. They turn out great!)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Menu Plan: Week of 10/4/10

Why do I find such joy in menu planning? I love sitting down in the early-morning hours on a Saturday or Sunday with a hot cup of coffee and planning the coming week’s menu. I take the time to take stock of what we already have in the house, think back to any requests my husband may have made throughout the week, and plan accordingly. It is a simple (and nerdy) pleasure of mine.

Here’s what’s in store this week: (and yes, there are lots of apples splattered throughout this week's menu, as the kids and I visited an apple orchard twice last week!)

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins (from the freezer – recipe to come soon!)
Oatmeal with bananas and raisins
Cold cereal and toast
Apple Cinnamon French Toast (for the weekend when mother-in-law is here)

Creamy Mac and Cheese, turkey dogs, apple slices
Poor Man’s Pizza (made with Flat-Out wraps I found at Costco – wow, these make a great easy pizza!), orange slices
Tomato soup, grilled turkey and cheese sandwiches, carrot sticks with ranch dressing
Bento Box day – cheese and crackers, raisins, apple slices, animal crackers

Monday: Slow Cooker Turkey Chili (a hubby request), served Cincinnati-style over whole wheat spaghetti noodles, fresh pineapple

Tuesday: BBQ Chicken Drumsticks (carryover from last week), pasta salad, mixed vegetables, apple slices with maple whipped cream

Wednesday: Mongolian Beef and Broccoli (new recipe – one of my husband’s favorite dishes so I hope it turns out!), pineapple

Thursday: Hubby working late - Clean out the fridge night for me and the kids

Friday: Slow Cooker Barbeques (we'll have these ready to go when mother-in-law arrives later at night), chips, baked beans

Saturday: CrockPot Angel Chicken, broccoli, fruit

Sunday: Hubby's choice or out to eat!

Baking and Extras:
Apple Pie (daughter's request to make with mommy)
French Bread (for the Apple Cinnamon French Toast and Croutons)