Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Salad and Breadsticks

This was our dinner last night. Just salad and breadsticks. (click link for recipe) I didn't go all out with a main dish, but we all ended up nourished and full. Isn't that what counts? The kids ate every last drop of their dinner and then some.
I had some pizza sauce left over that I really didn't want to throw out, so hence, the breadsticks. I made the recipe I posted on here before, but this time I added rosemary into the dough mixture. WOW! They were so good! I've never used rosemary before and couldn't believe the flavor difference in the breadsticks.

This time for the salad I used red leaf lettuce and chopped spinach leaves. Then I added sliced green peppers, carrots, and cucumbers. I also boiled some eggs, cut them up, and we sprinkled those on top.

No one seemed to really miss the main dish. :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Red Beans over Rice

This meal is one I was introduced to on our trip to Dominican Republic. I never was one to just make a big pot of beans, but it was so delicious I had to try it at home! This was my 2nd time making it and it brought back wonderful memories. It's very filling too. I like it best with fresh fruit to offset the beans and rice.

Red Beans over Rice

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium chopped onion
3 garlic cloves
1 t. dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 t. Accent seasoning
1/2 sm. bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
2 c. (1 lb.) dried red beans, soaked & cooked
2 t. seasoned salt
salt & pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in pot large enough for all ingredients. Saute onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Add oregano, bay leaves, tomato sauce, and seasonings.

Bring to simmer and add cilantro and beans. Add enough water to cover (3-4 cups). Bring to boil, then reduce to low. Simmer and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until beans are tender.

Serve over rice.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Sunday dinner -porcupine meatballs! Here is everyone at the table. I realized on Saturday that I had all this hamburger in the fridge that I needed to use so it wouldn't go bad. I also had my head of broccoflower left over from my bountiful basket. I put them together and made a meal. :) Very tasty.

1/2 lb ground beef
1/4 c. uncooked rice
1/4 c. milk or water
2 T. chopped onion
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. celery salt
1/8 t. garlic salt
Dash of pepper
2 cans (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 c. water
1 T. Worcestershire sauce

Mix beef, rice, milk, onion, and seasonings. Form into medium sized balls (1 1/2 to 2 inches). Fry in skillet, turning frequently, until light brown (but not crusty) on all sides. In large saucepan, mix together tomato sauce, water, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well. Add browned meatballs to sauce. Cover; simmer 45 minutes over low heat. Add a small amount of additional water if liquid cooks down too much. Makes 2 servings.

This is how it turned out. I really didn't deviate from the recipe much, but I did triple the amounts so it was enough to feed my family.

This was also my first time using broccoflower. I cooked it up the same way I do broccoli or cauliflower. I just steamed it. Too bad it was such a small head because the kids loved it and were asking for more. I didn't have any more, so I'll have to remember for next time to cook up more of it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Oatmeal and Toast

Today we had oatmeal. Believe it or not, this is a breakfast we love. :)  I first introduced it to the kids about 1 1/2 years ago. I hadn't really made it for them before that. They whined and whined and whined about how GROSS it was! After about 3 or 4 times of making it, they finally developed a taste for it. Now they look forward to me making it. I dress it up with sugar, milk. Athena and Samantha like a bit of cinnamon in their oatmeal and I put nutmeg in mine, Nathan's and Alex's. Then I make toast and have a glass of milk. YUM!

To make it, I use 2 parts water to 1 part oatmeal and add some salt. Today Dad wasn't home for breakfast, so I boiled 4 cups of water with 1/2 tsp of salt. Then I added 2 cups of quick oats to the boiling water and let it cook for 1 minute. Perfect!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Coffee Cake

This is a struesel cake that we have sometimes for breakfast. I completely forgot to take a picture of this one until we had already started eating it! I guess that means I'll just have to make it again for a better picture.

I made it early, then jumped in the shower while it cooked. By the time I got out of the shower, breakfast was ready. :) I really like this recipe better than others I've had because it always turns out so moist and it uses brown sugar instead of white. Of course, I used 1/2 wheat and 1/2 white flour, but I'll post the recipe with all white flour.

Coffee Cake
2 c. flour
4 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 c. milk
6 T. vegetable oil

1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. margarine
1 T. cinnamon
1 c. quick cooking oats

Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar in the mixing bowl. Add eggs, milk and oil and mix well. Pour into greased 9x13 inch baking pan. For topping, melt butter and mix all ingredients together in medium bowl. Sprinkle topping on top of cake batter. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

What I did differently:
I like to melt the butter in a saucepan on the stove. While it's melting I start mixing the cake. Then I add the other topping ingredients into the saucepan and by the time I'm done mixing the cake, the topping is all ready to go. It is much easier to drop onto the cake when I melt it all together like that first.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Eggplant Parmesan

I tried making eggplant parmesan for the first time because I received an eggplant in my bountiful basket and I didn't quite know what to do with it. What a nice surprise! This was so good! It did take me about an hour and a half to make the whole dinner because I made everything from scratch - even the bread crumbs. It would have gone a lot quicker with bottled marinara sauce and store bought breadcrumbs, but I'm glad I did it from scratch. So worth it. :) The salad is simply carrots, mushrooms, green leaf lettuce, and spinach leaves.

Eggplant Parmesan
3 eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced
2 eggs, beaten
4 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
6 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
1 (16 ounce) package mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in bread crumbs. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes on each side.
  3. In a 9x13 inch baking dish spread spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with the cheeses. Sprinkle basil on top.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.
This is what my finished product looked like. I did only use 1 eggplant and about 2 cups of breadcrumbs. I got 19 slices out of it which was plenty for our family for this meal and one meal of leftovers. I then served it over angel hair pasta. It actually looks a little burnt because it WAS. I fell asleep on the couch for a little bit while it was cooking and then I woke up and looked at the clock and "Oh NO!!!" It cooked about 5-6 minutes past the desired time. It still was really good and to be honest, I liked the toasted cheese.
This was my first experience with eggplant and I thought it was really weird that it can be mistaken as meat. My kids kept thinking they were eating meat and I reminded them of that big purple vegetable I showed them. They did ask if we could have this meal again sometime, so that means it really WAS a hit. I'll include a recipe for the homemade breadcrumbs, which I doubled to make sure I'd have enough. I made them for super cheap!

Italian Breadcrumbs
1 cup plain breadcrumbs (I dried out wheat bread in the oven)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil

Monday, May 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Alexandra!

Hooray! We got to celebrate a birthday over the weekend! Alexandra turned 3. In our house, the birthday person gets to pick the dinner and the dessert. :) She had her cake picked out a couple of weeks ago. She definitely wanted a barbie cake. So, being the kind mom that I am, I granted her wish and decorated this cake for her.

I have to admit, I take the easy way out with birthday cakes. I use the Wilton cake pans that come with a pattern and everything. The cake took me about 1 1/2 hours to decorate and she LOVED it.

For her birthday dinner, she relieved me by picking pizza. That makes my job a whole lot easier! I ran down to our local Papa Murphy's, picked up dinner, and absolutely THRILLED my 3-year-old. I love it when kids are so easy to please.

My only suggestion when using Papa Murphy's pizza, is to first of all - USE COUPONS - and second of all, dress it up at home and it will taste a lot better.

I went online and found coupons on their site ( Then when I ordered my pizzas, I paid for a couple of toppings that I didn't have on hand at home. Then I came home and added green peppers, onions, and sprinkled on italian seasoning. They turned out really good! 

Here is the birthday girl all ready to enjoy her pizza.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tomato Vegetable Soup

This is a great crockpot soup. I threw everything into the crockpot in the morning and it was ready in the evening. :)  My crockpot is a 6 qt, so this recipe fits in quite nicely. If you have a smaller crockpot you will need to scale down the amounts of everything.

Tomato Vegetable Soup
1 qt. tomatoes
6 potatoes
1 onion
3 cloves garlic, pressed
3-4 carrots
1/4 tsp. celery salt
3 tsp. beef boullion
1 tsp. salt (taste at end)
1 Tbsp. Seasonall
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. black pepper
meat, precooked (hamburger or stew meat)
1/4 c. pearled barley
parsley flakes (at end)
spaghetti noodles (at end)
canned tomato soup (at end)

I use 1 qt of home bottled tomatoes and I blend them until they are smooth. Then I dump them in the crockpot. Chop up the potatoes, carrots, and onion and add to the tomatoes. Press 3 garlic cloves and add to soup. Then add the pearled barley and all the seasonings. Cook your meat and add. Once you have all of this in your crockpot, fill the rest of the crockpot with water until it is about 2 inches from the top. Let it cook on high for 4-6 hours. About 20 minutes before you eat the soup, add 1-2 cans of canned tomato soup, parsley flakes, and whatever noodles you like. If you use spaghetti noodles, break them into 1 inch pieces.

What I did differently:
This time I added fresh thyme, oregano, and chopped spinach. It was really good! I also didn't use meat in my soup. I prefer it without. I just add a little extra boullion. :) Also, sometimes I use lentils instead of the pearled barley. I just add the lentils in at the beginning and they have plenty of time to cook if you leave it cooking all day.

My kids used to not like this soup. Once I started grinding up the tomatoes so there were no tomato chunks they started eating it really well. I made enough soup so we could have it for 2 meals and the 2nd day we had it with cheese bread. The bread was a nice addition and made it like a new meal all over again. To make the bread, I simply sliced medium cheddar cheese, placed it on slices of bread, and put it in the oven under the broiler until it was melted.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mother's Day Dinner

For Mother's Day, Jeremy was in charge of dinner, so we had a barbecue with hamburgers and corn on the cob. I'm so picky about the meat that I insisted on making it anyway . . . but he cooked it, cut all the veggies, and prepared the corn on the cob.

Mostly I don't like the taste of the meat in hamburgers, so I use every means possible to cover it up - and with everything combined it actually makes for a great burger.

ground beef
pureed onion
worcestershire sauce
celery salt
garlic powder

I use my kitchenaid for this mix, but you could use a regular mixer too. It makes the meat stay together so much better while cooking when you mix it well.

I just add a little of everything into the kitchenaid mixer with the ground beef. Then I mix it well, until the meat sticks together well enough to make patties. I puree the onion with a blender so the taste of the onion is all the way through the meat when it cooks.

The meat patties were so good! All the kids ate well and thoroughly enjoyed them. Samantha even ate 2 burgers! I like my burgers loaded with all the fresh toppings. Today we had on hand lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and onions.

Corn on the Cob
We also had corn on the cob with this dinner. I thought it was ok, but I would do it differently the next time. Jeremy put butter on the corn, then rolled it in a mix of salt, basil, onion powder, and parmesan cheese. Then he wrapped them in foil and cooked them on the barbecue grill.  The one thing I would omit would be the parmesan cheese. It clumped together and some of it got burned in the foil. Other than that, the corn was great too.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

OK, I call this spaghetti because of the sauce, but I rarely use spaghetti noodles. They are just so messy for kids! One of our favorites is called Wacky Mac. It's at Walmart for about $1.50.

Spaghetti sauce is one of my favorite things to make because you can experiment with it so much, and it really doesn't matter what you throw in, the kids will still eat it! That's a win-win. LOL

Tonight's sauce was a real winner so I for sure have to write it down. I think it was one of the best I've made. I'll list how I made it. If you don't have everything I put in, several items can be omitted and it would still taste great.

Spaghetti Sauce
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/3 onion, chopped
1 carrot, pureed
3 cloves garlic
1 qt. home canned tomatoes
3 Tbsp. ground bean flour
fresh oregano
fresh thyme

Put olive oil, onion, pressed garlic, and pureed carrots in a saucepan and turn to medium. Cook together until onions start to soften. Then add pureed tomatoes and bean flour. Finely mince the oregano, thyme, and spinach. Add to sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let sauce simmer for about 20 minutes while you prepare the pasta.

What I do:
  • I use my magic bullet blender to puree the carrots and tomatoes. The carrots help to thicken the sauce. If you don't have bottled tomatoes, use 1 8oz can of tomato sauce and 1 1/2 cans of water.
  • If you don't have bean flour, just omit it. It adds protein and helps to thicken the sauce if you use it. To prevent lumps, I put the bean flour in a separate bowl and add a little sauce at a time to the flour and mix it together. When I get it to pouring consistency, I pour it back into the saucepan and mix it all together with my spaghetti sauce.
  • If you don't have fresh herbs, use dried ones out of your cupboard. :) Spinach can be omitted if you don't have it on hand as well.
  • I use my wheat grinder to grind navy beans into flour. Then I add it into recipes as a thickening agent.
The best way (in my opinion) to serve spaghetti is like this:

Put noodles on the plate and sprinkle cheddar cheese on top, so it melts a little.

Then add the warm sauce. It melts the cheese a lot.

Last, top with parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Banana Bread

What to do with those last few bananas sitting on the counter that no one will touch because there are too many dark spots? Banana bread!!! This is for sure a favorite at our house. The last batch I made lasted just 2 days and the first loaf was gone within about 20 minutes - hot out of the oven.

I love to make banana bread because it's a great after-school snack, breakfast, or anytime snack. It never goes to waste at our house. I usually have to ward off the kids from the time I take it out of the oven until it is cool enough to go into their mouths. This recipe is the only one I use for banana bread. No other is worthy. :)

Banana Bread
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. oil
4 mashed bananas
3 eggs
2 3/4 - 3 c. flour
3/4 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1/2 c. coarsely chopped nuts
1 c. chocolate chips

Mix sugar, oil, bananas (mashed with fork), and eggs together with fork in large mixing bowl. Add flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix well with fork. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Pour batter into buttered 3x6 inch loaf pans (two pans). Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Check bread before removing from oven by inserting knife in center of bread. If it comes out clean, bread is done. Remove bread from pans and cool for 3 minutes on wire rack. Put in bags while bread is still warm to preserve moistness.

What I do different: I use about 1 3/4 cups of my home ground wheat flour and 1 cup of white flour. I usually don't add the nuts because I rarely have them on hand, and I throw in a little extra chocolate chips.

We love it!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

First Time Bountiful Basket

I tried out the Bountiful Baskets program for the first time last Saturday. It's a food co-op where you pay, they buy a bunch of produce (as much locally as they can) and then split all the produce with all the people who payed into the co-op for that week. It's really a brilliant program. I paid in $27.00 total ($3.00 of that was because it was my first time, I won't pay that again) and got everything shown above. I love the variety and I love that it will force me to find new recipes to use all my tasty new items!

This is what I got out of my first basket:
  • 5 green peppers
  • 1 watermelon
  • 6 corn on the cob
  • 1 head of green leaf lettuce
  • 2 big bunches of spinach
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley
  • 6 mangos
  • 1 broccoflower
  • 1 bunch of bananas (6)
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 10 tangerines
  • 1 bag of apples (10)
  • 1 bunch of fresh rosemary
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme
  • 1 pk mushrooms
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 bunch of fresh oregano
Isn't that great? I love having all this fresh stuff on hand! The eggplant is the only thing I haven't tried before. I think I'm going to make eggplant parmesan because a lot of people seem to really like it and we might too. The kids have loved having all these new fruits at their disposal. I'm definitely going to have to do this program again. Probably in a couple of weeks. :)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Taco Lasagna

This was our dinner last night. I served it with lettuce and sour cream. :) Tasty mix!
This is a casserole, and to be quite honest, the kids didn't like the look of it on their plates, but once they started eating it they really enjoyed it. Thank goodness, because I made enough so we could have it again tonight as leftovers. I love to have enough of a good thing for leftovers because it makes for a super quick dinner the next day and I don't have to worry about what to make.

Taco Lasagna
1 lb ground beef
1/2 c. green pepper, chopped
1/2 c. onion
2/3 c. water
1 env. taco seasoning
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 (14 1/2 oz) can tomatoes
6 (8 inch) tortillas
1 can refried beans
3 c. cheese

Cook beef, green pepper and onion in large skillet over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add water and taco seasoning; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 2 minutes. Stir in black beans and tomatoes. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Place 2 tortillas in greased 9x13 pan. Spread with half of refried beans and beef mixture. Sprinkle with 1 cup cheese. Repeat layers. Top with remaining tortillas and cheese. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.

Here are a few pictures of the layering process. This is going on the second layer. I put on the tortillas covered with refried beans.

Then I added the simmered meat mixture. Also, make sure when you start cooking the ground beef mixture that you use a large enough skillet to hold everything you are going to add. Mine almost overflowed!

Top this layer with cheese.

Then add your last layer of tortillas and top with cheese. (This is before I added the top cheese.)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wheat Pancakes

This pancake recipe is really basic and is the one I use whenever it's a pancake day. I really like them. They take just a few minutes to whip together (before cooking) and are SO MUCH better than using a mix. I use my wheat grinder to make my own wheat flour and then I freeze the flour and make sure I always have some on hand. Notice Nathan peeking in? He thinks it is so cool to watch the wheat slowly disappear into the grinder. :)

Here are the pancakes. I had a little leftover bacon in the fridge from another meal, so I heated it up in the microwave, broke it into small pieces, and added the bacon into the pancake mix. Everyone LOVED it. By the way, if you don't have wheat flour, this recipe originally calls for just white flour. I add the wheat because I like it and it seems to give the pancakes more substance and flavor. I also double this recipe for my family so there is enough.

Wheat Pancakes
1/2 c. wheat flour
1/2 c. white flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg
1 c. milk
2 Tbsp. cooking oil

In a mixing bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add egg, milk, and oil to flour mixture all at once. Mix well.

Pour about 1/4 c. batter onto a hot, lightly greased griddle or heavy skillet. Cook till pancakes are golden brown, turning to cook second sides when pancakes have bubbly surfaces and slightly dry edges. Makes about 8-10 standard sized pancakes.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Every day when Athena and Samantha come home from school, they immediately start searching the house for food and asking for their "after school snack". To me it's important that my kids enjoy the kitchen and the things we are able to create in the kitchen, including snacks. I want them to learn that it is possible for you to make your own stuff using ingredients instead of depending on the store for everything. Consequently, I don't purchase a lot of pre-made snack food. I try to have things on hand for the kids to eat that I have made. This week's treat - Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies. :) This is one that Nathan takes a lot of pleasure in helping me with. It is his job to stir and to tell me when there are bubbles (when it's starting to bubble). So, I just told him, "I'm making chocolate cookies and I need your help!" and he came running.

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. shortening
2 T. cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. oatmeal

Put sugar, milk, salt, shortening, and cocoa into a saucepan and cook on medium heat until it comes to a boil. Boil for 8 - 10 minutes on medium heat. Remove from heat and add vanilla and oatmeal. STIR FAST. Drop onto a sheet of wax paper (or foil if you run out of wax).

My first several times making these I had problems with the cookies not setting up as they cooled or setting up too quickly for me to get out of the pan. Make sure you have your wax paper set out before you start cooking the cookies. Then, once the vanilla and oatmeal is mixed in, spoon them quickly onto the wax paper and let them cool. You might have to play around with the cooking time depending on your stove.

Jeremy wishes like everything I would put peanut butter in these, but I prefer them without. In fact, I think he wishes I would put peanut butter in pretty much EVERYTHING! No go. His fix? Swipe his cookie with a big knife full of peanut butter and eat. I like the way the cookie dissolves in my mouth when I bite into it. I find these cookies very addicting.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Spanish Rice and Beans

I wasn't feeling well yesterday so Jeremy kicked it into high gear and was nice enough to make dinner for the family! :)  He decided to go with a "Mexican" theme and it turned out really good. Probably much better than it looks in the picture!

I wanted something with rice, so he decided to make Spanish rice and then find things to go with it. Everyone enjoyed the meal except Alexandra (she is 2). It was so cute to see the kids all trying "mixed" bites and getting excited. Nathan tried some of the quesadilla with rice on it and said, "Mmmmmm! Try this together - it's SO GOOD!" So Samantha put rice, beans, olives, sour cream and quesadilla in her mouth at the same time and did the same thing. So then the 3 older kids mixed and matched their bites and had quite an evening of discovery! I love seeing them be willing to try new things and actually get excited about the mix of flavors. I'll share how we made it all.

Spanish Tomato Rice
1/2 c. onion, chopped
1/4 c. green pepper, chopped
1 qt. whole tomatoes
3/4 c. rice
1/4 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp. pepper

Add all ingredients together in skillet. Stir and bring to boil. Simmer 45 minutes or until rice is tender. Note: For the tomatoes, I used home canned tomatoes and blended them to get rid of the big tomato pieces.

Refried Beans with Cheese
Put 1 can of refried beans into a glass dish and mix with a little water for a scooping consistency. Sprinkle the top with cumin and onion powder. Mix it all together. Add cheese on top and cook in a 350 degree oven until the cheese is melted.

Place tortilla on a cookie sheet. Cover the tortilla with cheese and put on the top rack in the oven on broil. When cheese is melted, pull out the cookie sheet and place the 2nd tortilla on top of the melted cheese. Return the covered quesadilla back to the oven until the top tortilla is browned. Then take it out, cut it into pizza-like slices and serve. Sometimes I add green chilis to the cheese when I'm heating it up, but not this time.
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