Sunday, May 30, 2010

Mango Soup & Frog Eye Salad

Even in central Minnesota it has been hot this week. So much so that we have been looking for alternatives to heating up the kitchen. A few nights we have grilled and a few we have had meals requiring less cooking. Audrey learned to make a fabulous Mango Soup and a paternal family favorite, Acini de Pepe Salad (Frog Eye Salad). These two items paired with a green salad or crudite plate would make a wonderful summer dinner.

Mango Soup
  • 3 ripe mangoes, diced
  • 3 tbsp vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3 large strawberries
Peel, pit, and chop the mangoes. Plop the mangoes, yogurt, and pineapple juice in a blender. Blend until smooth then pour into bowls. Rinse the blender, combine the water and strawberries. Blend until smooth, then pour the strawberry sauce into a squeeze bottle. Keep a steady hand while you draw a cool design on top of the soup.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Place ingredients in blender
  2. Blend
  3. Help pour into bowls
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Chop mangoes
  3. Assist
Acine de Pepe Salad
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 (20-ounce) can pineapple chunks in its own juice, undrained
  • 2 (11-ounce) cans mandarin orange segments, drained
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/3 cups (8 ounces) Acine di Pepe Pasta, uncooked
  • 3 1/2 cups (8 ounces) frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed and divided
  • 3 cups miniature marshmallows

In medium saucepan, stir together sugar, flour and salt. Drain pineapple, reserving juice to equal 1 cup. With whisk, gradually stir juice and egg into sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in juice. Cool mixture to room temperature. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Rinse with cold water to cool quickly; drain well. In large bowl, stir together pineapple juice mixture and pasta. Cover; refrigerate several hours or overnight. Add crushed pineapple and chunks, oranges, 2 cups whipped topping, marshmallows and coconut; mix gently and thoroughly. Cover; refrigerate until cold. Top with remaining whipped topping.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Crack egg
  2. Add sugar, flour, salt, juice
  3. Add marshmallows, fruit, cool whip
  4. Stir

Papa's Tasks: (mom did not make this dish):
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Cook pasta
  3. Cook sauce
  4. Help Audrey stir

This is a wonderful dish for summer nights and picnics. I love having it every summer at the lake house. This summer we will make it at home so we can bring the feeling of the lake to our house.

Making Mango Soup.
Yummy Soup.
Digging into ingredients.
Helping grandpa.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Baked Chicken with Cider Apples

Baked Chicken with Cider Apples is a recipe so good my in-laws deemed it a keeper. This was another easy baked dish that Audrey was able to help with. She loved shaking the chicken in the bag of flour. Another bonus with this dish is eating the apples that mom is cutting up for dinner. At least Audrey thought that part fun. We would have had this earlier but it was difficult to remember to put the chicken in the marinade the night before. Once I remembered that it was an easy recipe.

  • 3 lbs meaty chicken pieces (we used thighs)
  • 2 cups apple cider (or apple juice)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp apple cider
  • 2 medium cooking apples
Place the chicken in a large nonmetal bowl or container and pour the cider over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the chicken from the cider, reserving the cider. In a shallow bowl or plastic bag, combine the flour, ginger, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Coat the chicken pieces with the flour mixture. Place the chicken pieces in a single layer in a 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the reserved cider, brown sugar and cider. Stir in the apple slices. After the chicken has baked for 30 minutes, pour the apple mixture over it, then continue to bake about 25 minutes more or until the chicken is tender and no longer pink.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Add flour and seasoning to bag
  2. Shake chicken pieces
  3. Place chicken in baking dish
  4. Pour apples over chicken
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Marinade chicken
  3. Bake chicken
This was highly rated by the family. We used granny smith apples and they lent a nice flavor to the dish. I would recommend using a crisp apple as they do cook down quite a bit. 

Shaking the chicken.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Slow Cooker Meatballs with Spaghetti

Making meatballs.

Slow Cooker Meatballs with Spaghetti is so simple and so delicious. Not only did Audrey eat it but her (picky) Papa enjoyed it as well. This is from my already in regular rotation, new copy of The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook. I highly recommend this book for it's simple and tasty meals. Nothing is fancy as each full meal only cost $5. She pairs side dishes with each meal so you could follow her lead and not have to plan a thing. We made tonight's meal on the stove as we did not start it in time to slow cook it.

  • 2 cups spaghetti sauce
  • 3/4 lb ground meat
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb spaghetti
In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground meat, bread crumbs, egg, and seasonings. Form the meat into 1-inch meatballs, using your hands or an ice cream scoop (we like a cookie scoop, smaller). Place the meatballs in the bottom of the slow cooker insert. Pour the spaghetti sauce over the meatballs. Set the slow cooker on high, and cook the meatballs and sauce for four hours. In a large pot, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta. 

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Crack the egg
  2. Make breadcrumbs
  3. Add the ingredients
  4. Mix
  5. Form meatballs
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Help mix
  3. Place meatballs in insert and pour sauce over
  4. Cook
This was so easy. We were even able to make dinner with Audrey's little sister having a fit. It is not her fault, she has a tooth coming in and her gums are swollen. The point being that this is an easy meal. I added a little leftover frozen spinach and some fresh rosemary to the dish. I think it also might be nice with some rice or a bit of oatmeal mixed in for texture. I had a little extra meat and decided to bake a few meatballs in the oven as well. Trust me when I tell you they taste ten times better cooked in the sauce.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tip of the Day May 27

Have you ever had breakfast for dinner? We do at Audrey's house all the time. Omelets are a favorite because they are filling and Audrey gets to crack the eggs. And anyone who keeps up with us knows how much Audrey likes to crack eggs. I even try to find recipes with eggs so she can enjoy that task.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tip of the Day May 26

What child does not like Macaroni and Cheese? This is a great recipe from The Parenting Cookbook. Audrey loved putting it together and eating it. I loved the fact that I could use good, natural ingredients in a meal for Audrey wants to eat all the time.

Tip of the Day May 25

Shepard's Pie always hits the spot. This recipe is from The Healthy Baby Meal Planner so it is a good recipe for the entire family. When we first made this recipe I was not as good at cooking with Audrey so I did not know how to set up the cooking environment for her. Now I know to let Audrey help with what she can (like prepping the vegetables and putting the meal together) and have mom do the rest. Enjoy!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday May 24

We are far from home and I am not feeling creative. So this lunch is standard. She ate it, and that is what matters most to me.

Yogurt w/gummy bugs, Flower fruit leather, Flower PB&J, Flower cheese, Applesauce w/gummy bugs. Next week we are traveling so no muffin tin lunch.

Tip of the Day May 24

Saving one of the best for last (or close to the end). Oven Fried Chicken is one of Audrey's signature dishes. Not only is it easy for her to make but it tastes great. Any time I want to show how easy it is for her to cook I pull out this recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. She has made it for her immediate family and for a large group around Christmas. It is that good. I recommend going with a pastry brush.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tip of the Day May 23

Meat Loaf in Muffin tins. And it is from Cooking Rocks! by Rachel Ray. Another wonderful meatloaf recipe with great presentation. This particular meal was made with Audrey's Curious Chef knives; one of the first times she got to show them off. It was a fun night for her. Rachel Ray rocks!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tip of the Day May 22

Lasagna is always a hit in our house because it combines noodles and cheese. What toddler could ask for more? We have several versions we make: no-boil, vegetarian, and crock pot. Before cooking with Audrey I had only marginal success with lasagna. Now we have it on a regular basis. The vegetarian version is easier for Audrey to make but her father likes the no-boil one best. When he is away we like to cook out of the Moosewood. It really is a wonderful cookbook. I recommend it for those who are happy with vegetarian meals.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tomato, Basil, and Cheese Baked Pasta

Cooking Rocks! by Rachel Ray has become our bible. And tonight's sermon was titled Tomato, Basil, and Cheese Baked Pasta. It was a simple dish with great flavor. Audrey loved mixing all of the ingredients and helping to shred the cheese. Some day soon she will be able to make shredded cheese all on her own and I will begin the slow process of turning over dinner to her.

  • 1 lb medium shell pasta
  • 3 large cloves garlic, skins on
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small to medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 can crushed Italian tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, torn into small pieces
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup store-bought basil pesto sauce
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 lb fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt the water. Add pasta and cook for a minute or two less than package directions. preheat a big, deep skillet or a medium saucepan over medium heat. Place garlic on a cutting board and place the flat of your knife on top of each clove. Carefully whack with the palm of your hand to separate the cloves from the skins. Throw out the skins and chop up the garlic. Add oil, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and chopped onion to the oil. 

Cook, stirring a lot, until the onions are mushy and look cooked, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the onions and stir. When the tomatoes come to a bubble, reduce the heat under the sauce to low. Stir in basil pieces to wilt them. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Preheat the broiler to high and place a rack in the center of the oven. Drain pasta shells. Add them to a casserole dish. Add pesto sauce, ricotta cheese, and a handful of parmesan. Stir carefully and coat the hot pasta with the pesto and cheeses. Pour hot tomato and bail sauce over the pasta, as much as you like. You can always serve a little extra at the table. Scatter the mozzarella cheese over the pasta. Add a final sprinkle of parmesan as well. Place casserole under the broiler in the middle of the oven, 10 to 12 inches from the heat. Let the cheese melt and bubble on top, 3 to 5 minutes.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Grate cheese
  2. Tear basil
  3. Mix pasta
  4. Add cheese
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Cook pasta
  3. Make tomato sauce
  4. Place in oven
This dinner relied a lot more on mom than our usual dishes. It made the cut because it is pasta and cheese. Audrey loves them both. I was also able to sneak in a little green item and she ate it. Next time a little spinach is going into the tomato mixture. I would cook the pasta to al dente on the package as I went a minute under that and it was a little too undercooked for me. 

I also plan to cut the amount of onion as we are not big fans in this house (which is actually not ours at the moment, see the pictures). To this dinner add any salad and you have a meal. Rachel includes a homemade dressing but I did not enjoy it so I am not passing it on. If you want to know it, buy the book. Just buy the book anyway. Even though it was written for children, the recipes are really good. We are going to try some soup in a mug recipes soon.

Stirring the pasta.
Adding cheese.
Yummy dinner!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tip of the Day May 20

Mini Shepard's Pies are another part of our freezer meal stockpile. And they are made in Audrey's favorite cooking vessel: the muffin tin!
Mini Shepard's Pies
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3 tbsp chopped onion
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup chili sauce or ketchup
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/4 cups mashed potato flakes
  • 1 package (3 oz) cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 tube (12 oz) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
  • 1/2 cup crushed potatoes chips
In a large skillet, cook the beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the chili sauce, vinegar and salt; set aside. In a small saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil. Pour into a small mixing bowl. Whisk in potato flakes until blended. Beat in cream cheese until smooth. Press biscuits onto the bottom and up the sides of 10 greased muffin cups. Fill with beef mixture. Spread potato mixture over beef mixture. Sprinkle with potato chips; press down lightly. Bake at 375°F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with paprika if desired. Serve immediately, or cool before placing in a single layer in a freezer container. Cover and freeze for up to 2 months. To use frozen pies: Thaw in the refrigerator for 8 hours. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 375°F for 15-18 minutes or until heated through.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Press biscuits into muffin tin
  2. Add meat
  3. Help mom add potatoes
  4. Crush chips and add
  5. Sprinkle paprika on top
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Brown meat and cook onion and garlic
  2. Add ketchup and vinegar
  3. Make potatoes
  4. Help Audrey assemble pies
  5. Freeze
This is a recipe that requires a little work up front but then your helper can step in to complete the assembly work. Audrey loved pressing the biscuits into the muffin tin and almost would not let me help. She is just starting on the, "I can do it myself!" stage. Joy!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tip of the Day May 19

Audrey asked for soup for dinner. The good part about this request is that I found a good soup recipe looking through cook books. We made a few adjustments and were able to put back part of the dinner for a future freezer meal.
Hearty Chicken Tortilla Soup
  • 1 lb boneless chicken breasts, cut up
  • 2 cans (14 oz each) chicken broth (3 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked regular long-grain rice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 can Mexican-style corn
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • Crisp Tortilla Strips (recipe below)
Spray saucepot with vegetable cooking spray and heat 1 minute. Add chicken and cook until browned, stirring often. Add broth, rice and cumin. Heat to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat 20 minutes. Stir in corn, salsa, cilantro and lime juice and heat through. Top with Crisp Tortilla Strips.
Crisp Tortilla Strips
Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut 4 corn tortillas into thin strips and place on baking sheet. Spray with vegetable cooking spray. Bake 10 minutes or until golden.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Make stock (we used tomato instead of chicken)
  2. Cut tortilla strips
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Cook
  3. Bake tortilla strips
This was an easy soup and tasted great. I used brown rice instead and ended up having to cook it a little longer. Audrey had a little problem using the pizza cutter to make tortilla strips so I let her tear them into bite-sized pieces.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wordless Wednesdays May 19

Tip of the Day May 18

Mexican Pizza is a tasty twist on the usual family takeout. We make ours with food processor pizza crust and add the ingredients we like. We last made this as part of our effort to get rid of a few extra items in the pantry. Next time we might try a different type of bean. What is your favorite pizza recipe?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lunch Hiatus

Our regular lunch routine will be interrupted for a bit while we are on vacation. I hope to get back to normal soon. Audrey and Maurene will be visiting their grandparents in Minnesota for a few weeks so that momma can sleep a bit. Their father is away for several weeks and it is tough being a single parent. Last time Audrey's daddy left town we stopped cooking for a while. I am hoping that does not happen this time. This is a picture of Audrey cooking with her daddy.

Tip of the Day May 17

Quiche, and Audrey got to crack the eggs. As part of our stock pile of freezer meals, Audrey and I participated in a freezer meal exchange with some other mothers we know. Audrey made quiche for some of our meals. This recipe is always a go to when we are low on supplies as we always seems to have eggs in the house. I used a recipe from my favorite cookbook, Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook
Choose-a-Flavor Quiche

  • Pastry for a single pie crust
  • 3 beaten eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onion
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • dash ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup chopped cooked chicken, crabmeat or ham
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss, cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Havarti cheese
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
Line the unpricked pastry shell with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil. Bake in a 450° oven for 5 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes more or till pastry is nearly done. Remove from the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 3325°. Meanwhile, in a bowl stir together eggs, milk, onion, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in chicken, crabmeat, or ham. Toss together shredded cheese and flour. Add to egg mixture, mix well. Pour egg mixture into hot pastry shell. Bake in the 325° oven for 35 to 40 minutes or till a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. If necessary, cover edge of crust with foil to prevent over-browning. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Crack the eggs
  2. Help shred cheese
  3. Measure and add ingredients to bowl
  4. Whisk
  5. Help pour mixture into baking dish
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Help shred cheese
  3. Help pour mixture into dish
  4. Place quiche in the oven
This is a wonderful, flexible dish. You can substitute any item you have to personalize the meal. We also make ours crustless most times because we are not to the stage of pastry making yet and I do not always have a purchased crust in the house. Audrey will usually eat this meal unless I try to put green things in it. It is a great way to get protein and good fat in her. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tip of the Day May 16

Chicken in Mushroom Sauce for dinner. Easy and tasty. Audrey had fun mixing the sauce and putting the chicken in the pan. As a matter of fact, there is not really a recipe to go along with this one.
  • Chicken (we used thighs)
  • Cream of Mushroom soup
  • milk
  • seasoning
Heat oven to 350°F. Place chicken in 13 x 9 baking dish. Mix soup, milk, and seasoning in a bowl and pour over chicken. Bake for 45-60 minutes. Yum!

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Mix soup, milk and seasonings
  2. Place chicken in baking dish
  3. Pour soup mix over chicken
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Put chicken in oven
This is one of the few dinners my mom taught me to make. It used to be the only thing I could cook. This is why I feel that Audrey will pass me in cooking ability soon.

Salad Sunday May 16

Waldorf Salad on Salad Sunday! I am feeling a little guilty because I did not use my mother-in-law's awesome recipe for this. Sunday snuck up on me today and I did not realize I still needed salad until we were on our way home. Next time we will make the best version of this ourselves. Today we settled for grocery store made. Still good, but not great.

Tip of the Day May 15

Crispy Tofu Stir-fry makes for a messy (but fun!) meal prep. Audrey had a blast coating the tofu and getting egg all over her fingers. She also enjoyed saying panko. That said, this was a meal with a long prep time. In a house with a teething baby and a curious toddler (why mommy?) long prep means it gets filed under /dev/null. It tasted great but wasn't worth the time. And fyi, this is posting in the middle of the night because mommy had to go to the office right after dinner and is just now getting home.
For the Tofu
  • 1 (14-oz) package extra firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups panko
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
For the sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp toasted sesame oil
For the stir-fry
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 small bunch scallions (keep white and green sections separate)
  • 2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cups cut up vegetables to stir-fry
  • 2 tsp minced fresh garlic
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • rice (optional)
Drain the tofu, then press if with paper towels to remove excess water. Cut the tofu into 3/4 inch cubes. In an 8-inch baking dish, combine the soy sauce, lime juice, and sugar. Add the tofu cubes and turn them to coat all sides. Set the cubes aside to marinate for 30 minutes, turning the once halfway through. For dredging, make an assembly line of three small dishes: the first containing the cornstarch; the second, the egg; and the third, the panko. Toss each tofu cube lightly in each dish, in the order given. Set the cubes aside on a plate until all are covered. Line a baking sheet with  paper towels and heat oven to 200°F. Heat a 10 - 12 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, then the tofu cubes to the pan. Fry them on one side until golden and crisp, then continue cooking until all sides are golden, using tongs to turn them, about 6 minutes total. Transfer the cubes to the paper towel-lined baking sheet and place it in the oven to keep the tofu warm.
In a small bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients. Set it aside. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the oil, then the scallion whites and ginger. Stir-fry until they're just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the vegetables and stir-fry until they're crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, then the scallion greens and the sauce, stir-frying the mixture until it's bubbling, about 1 to 2 minutes. When the stir-fry is prepared, top each serving with about 12 tofu cubes and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Add a helping of rice, if you like.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Help cut the vegetables (momma helped her practice)
  2. Put the tofu in the marinate
  3. Crack the eggs
  4. Dredge the tofu
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Cut tofu
  3. Help Audrey cut vegetables (we are learning knife skills with her Curious Chef knives)
  4. Fry the tofu
  5. Stir-fry veggies
It was good. I put aside the leftovers for yummy lunch tomorrow. For those families with older children and more time to cook, this may be a great dish for you. It sure tastes good.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sandwich Saturday May 15

Sandwich Saturdays and we have our own cute cutters. According to Audrey dinosaurs say, "roar". This one says, "I am a yummy lunch!"  The accompaniment is the same because we are trying to eat all the perishable food before our trip on Tuesday. We will be gone for 2 weeks! While on vacation we may continue with our fun lunches but I am not certain. Audrey will be with her grandparents and she tends to get what ever she wants with them.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Tip of the Day May 14

Audrey loves to play with chickens! This is her favorite recipe for whole chicken (she prefers free-range, local from Hilltop Farms). This recipe is for Roasted Chicken with Vegetables. You can use any type of chicken; the vegetables you have on hand and it does not matter how pretty they are cut. Audrey ended up breaking hers up into large pieces.

Finger Food Friday May 14

Grapes and finger sandwiches, it must be Finger Food Friday! Audrey really likes to eat with her fingers so this is an easy meal. Today I decided to make a few different sandwiches and see if she will try the ones that are new. We have radish (recommended by our CSA), cheese, and peanut butter. We all know she likes peanut butter and cheese has gone well in the past so radish is the only new item. Does she try it? Take a look and tell me what you think...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tip of the Day May 13

Peanut Butter and Noodles, the best combo! Audrey loves both so this was the perfect dinner. It was simple as well. Audrey made the sauce and I cooked the noodles. That was it!
Peanut Butter Noodles
  • 1 lb linguine, angel-hair pasta, or soba noodles
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 5 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 5 tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp peeled, grated fresh ginger
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
Cook the noodles according to the package directions, then drain and rinse them with cold water. In a large bowl, blend together the peanut butter, vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. Add the noodles and toss well. Garnish with toppings, if you like. Serve at room temperature.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Measure ingredients
  2. Mix
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Cook and drain noodles
 How simple is that? This gets 5 stars. And Audrey ate some! The pictures of her helping were not great so here is her plate (she asked me to take a picture of it):

Smoothies, or "Ice Cream"

Smoothies! Subtitled "ice cream for lunch!" by Audrey. Since we are leaving in a few days the theme this week is clean out the fridge. I had a smoothie from a shop purchased for momma by Audrey's daddy. To that I added some Naked Juice with vegetables. It went in Audrey's new red cup so she had no idea it was a little green in color. Served with cheese (white on a white plate) and fruit leather.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tip of the Day May 12

One word: quesadilla! It is a good, fast dinner that anyone can make. Audrey had a lot of fun helping make this meal. She is really wanting to do everything, "by myself, mommy!" I knew this stage would come but it is hard when I just want to help her so the meal is finished faster. I need to stand back and let her try and ask for help when she is ready. We are having a blast cooking these days.
Confetti Corn Quesadillas (Family Fun Dinnertime, go buy one!)
  • 1 cup fresh or canned corn
  • 1 cup grated zucchini, squeezed dry
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • 1 (15 1/2 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 8 (10 inch) flour tortillas
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salsa (optional)
In a large bowl, gently toss together corn, zucchini, cilantro, jalapeno, beans, salt, pepper, and chili powder. Stir in cheese. Heat the oven to 200°F. Set the tortillas on a work surface. Put about 1/3 cup or more of the filling on half of each tortilla. Spread the filling to the edge, then fold over the other half of the tortilla. In a large nonstick frying pan, heat 1/2 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add 2 quesadillas to the pan and cook them for about 2 minutes per side, until the cheese melts. Transfer them to a baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven while you cook the remaining quesadillas, adding a bit more oil to the pan for each batch. Cut the quesadillas into wedges and serve with salsa, if you like.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Cut the green pepper (we were out of zucchini)
  2. Measure and pour ingredients into the bowl
  3. Stir!
  4. Help grate the cheese (our grating attachment broke for the food processor and we miss it)
  5. Place the mixture on the tortilla
  6. Fold over tortilla and press
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Help grate cheese
  3. Cook quesadillas and place in oven to warm
Yum! And double yum! We were out of salsa so I made a sour cream mixture to go with ours. They were easy to prepare and fairly easy to cook. I kept losing ingredients each time I flipped now matter what I tried. I would also recommend keeping the cheese separate and adding it after the veggies. We ended up with some having more cheese and others lacking.

Pastry Cups

Playgroup lasted longer than usual so I was not certain lunch would go well. Since I made Audrey's wrapper cups before leaving I was able to come home, fill them, and get lunch on the table quick. This week I used puff pastry because I had an extra sheet. It was not ideal but it worked. My friend Larissa told me that Pillsbury makes pastry sheets now. I also had an offer of a wonderful pastry recipe from my friend Libby. I think we are going to try it all before deciding what works for us. Today Audrey had strawberries, cheese, yogurt, and homemade applesauce. She loved it all but was a little full from snacks at playgroup.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wordless Wednesdays May 12

Tip of the Day May 11

Pizza Meat Loaf Cups are the beginning of our freezer stocking. Audrey loves to make anything using the muffin tins so I knew this would be fun. She mostly wants to put the finished product in the tins and does not like to stir. We found this recipe in a Taste of Home freezer meal book. I really like Taste of Home stuff.

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground meat
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
In a large bowl combine the egg, sauce, bread crumbs, seasoning, and meat and mix well. Divide among 12 muffin cups. Press up sides and fill center with cheese. Bake at 375°F for 15-18 minutes or until meat is no longer pink. Serve with additional sauce or cool and freeze up to 3 months. If cooking from frozen let thaw in the refrigerator overnight and heat in microwave 2-3 minutes.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Crack eggs
  2. Add ingredients and mix
  3. Put mix in muffin tins
  4. Help grate cheese
  5. Place cheese on pizza cups
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Help mix
  3. Help grate cheese
  4. Place tin in oven
These are for later so we will not know the verdict on how well Audrey likes them today. I can tell you that they look really good. Here she is fixing them:

Tuna Roll Ups on a Stick

Strawberries and Tuna Roll-Ups! Should have been a great lunch but Audrey was not hungry. She ate a few strawberries and tried a roll-up. The idea of toothpick Tuesday is still fun. She sang her little song through most of the meal.
A simple meal

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tip of the Day May 10

A fabulous casserole for dinner tonight! Audrey loves to use the slow cooker so Spicy Black Bean Casserole is a big hit. We make it without the spicy. Cornbread and beans, good for rainy Kansas nights. Enjoy!

Muffin Tin Monday May 10

It is Muffin Tin Monday again! Audrey loved it so much last week we did it again. This time was a little harder because we were away from home. However, Nana has the same tin as we do so it worked out wonderful. Yesterday I found some cute cookie cutters so I had a little fun with her lunch. Here it is:

Cheese, fruit leather, raisin bread, strawberries, grapes, and the odd looking thing is yogurt with cinnamon. She ate all but the fruit. That ended up being consumed for dinner. Yay!
Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tip of the Day May 9

Our family favorite pizza is Hawaiian. We have not had this meal in a while but it is always a hit when we do. I recently found a cookbook that recommended making the pizza dough into animal shapes before loading the ingredients. The pictures were very cute. I think we are going to try a teddy bear. If you do not have a food processor then the easiest way to make shapes is with pre-made dough. Enjoy!

Out to eat

There is no lunch post today because my parents took the girls and I out today so I could get a little shopping done. We stopped at McDonald's for Audrey's favorite, chicken and apples with chocolate milk. At least she does not get to eat there often. Next Sunday we will bring you Salad Sundays with a nice fruit salad.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tip of the Day May 8

Today is a special meal for Audrey's daddy. Audrey made him lasagna. For this recipe we decided on a no-fail recipe, the one from the noodle box.
Barilla Four Layer No-Boil Lasagne
  • 1 box lasagna noodles
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 15-oz container ricotta cheese
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 jars sauce
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 13 x 9 pan with cooking spray. In medium bowl, beat eggs, stir in ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella, and the Parmesan. Spread 1 cup of sauce on bottom of baking pan. Layer 4 sheets, 1/3 of ricotta mixture, half of browned meat, 1 cup of mozzarella, and 1 cup of sauce. Layer 4 sheets, 1/3 of ricotta mixture, and 1 1/2 cups of sauce. Layer 4 sheets, the remaining ricotta mixture and browned meat, and 1 cup of sauce. Layer 4 sheets, the remaining sauce, and remaining 1 cup of mozzarella. Bake, covered with foil until bubbly, 50-60 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Crack eggs
  2. Mix cheeses with egg
  3. Lay out lasagna
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Brown meat
  2. Assemble ingredients
  3. Help with cheese mixture and lasagna
  4. Place lasagna in oven
Audrey's daddy really likes this meal so she wanted to make it for him. It is not the easiest meal for Audrey to make because the directions are not something she likes to follow. With a slightly older child this would be much easier. I think next time we are going to try one of those easy ravioli lasagnas. Because daddy was home during prep we have a brief glimpse of mom.

Sandwich Saturday May 8

Even though we are away from home I am still trying to get Audrey to eat better. Today I borrowed some of Nana's cookie cutters and made Audrey some fun sandwiches. She normally will only eat peanut butter and jelly as a sandwich but today she had two fun turkey and cheese sandwiches. When we get home I am going to try to add lettuce to this combo. Here are the cute critters:
And here she is eating them. She ended up finishing them both.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Finger Food Friday May 7

Going with our lunch theme this week is our Friday special of finger food. It worked well today because we took a road trip during lunch time. I did not try anything fancy today because we did not have any fresh food due to our out of town trip. She loved it. I did make some special dip for her gold fish out of cream cheese, yogurt, and blue food coloring. I will have to add a picture later as the Internet here is a bit slower than at home.
 Canned fruit, carrots with peanut butter, cheese, cinnamon gold fish in cream cheese and yogurt dip

Tip of the Day May 7

The tip of the day is delayed because it has been crazy in Audrey's family today. We are traveling and could not get the post up before we left town. When things are really busy like this we have a family favorite called Tuna Hot Dish. It cooks up in about 15 minutes from start to finish and the entire family loves it. As a bonus all items are pantry and freezer items so you can always have the fixings on hand. Audrey loves to stir every thing up and pour the chips on top.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tip of the Day May 6

Rachel Ray knows how to write a children's cookbook. Cooking Rocks! is our favorite. Check out Crunchy Oven Baked Chicken Toes for an example of the yumminess. Audrey has started taking her cookbooks off the shelf and "reading" them. This one is her favorite because of the cute cartoon dog. Do yourself a favor and make this meal. For the entire family. With your child. Guaranteed success. And then go buy the cookbook.

Thirsty Thursday May 6

Lunch with a straw! Thanks to Kalli and Libby for helping with this idea. It will need some work and also some of those cute bowls with the straws in them. Today we just had smoothies (with a little extra milk to make them more drinkable) and cheese. Audrey loves to drink out of a straw she just needs a little practice. She still wants to tip the cups and sometimes ends up wearing her drink. Her friend Jack was over right before lunch time and asked to have some "ice cream." Then Audrey wanted some as well. The point of all of these themes is to get Audrey away from always wanting a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. We may still have those but at least it will not be every day. Here is Jack's 'ice cream' and cheese.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tip of the Day May 5

I have always said that any cooking activity that involves baking is the best for young children. For that reason I am always on the lookout for a good baked chicken recipe. I like chicken. Audrey does too. During a recent library trip we picked up Emeril's There's a Chef in My Family. This is another book I would highly recommend. He is up there almost with Rachel Ray. The recipe we cooked is called Rainy-Day BBQ Chicken:

  • 1 fryer (about 3 lbs) cut into 8 pieces
  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp Baby Bam (recipe for spices included in book, I just added a few our family likes)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cups Barbecue sauce
Place the chicken in a resealable plastic food storage bag. Combine the apple cider, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Baby Bam, salt, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl and whisk to blend. Pour the marinade over the chicken in the plastic storage bag, seal, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for as long as 8 hours, turning occasionally to ensure even coating. Position rack in center of oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with vegetable oil and set aside. Drain the marinade from the chicken and discard liquid. Put the chicken in the prepared baking dish. Using oven mitts or pot holders, place the dish in the oven and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Using oven  mitts or pot holders, remove the baking dish from the oven and, using a pastry brush, coat the chicken with 1 cup of barbecue sauce. Increase the oven temperature to broil. Using oven mitts or pot holders, return the baking dish to the oven and broil until the barbecue sauce begins to bubble and form a nice crust on the chicken, about 5 to 10 minutes. Using oven mitts or pot holders, remove the baking dish from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with the remaining barbecue sauce.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Help measure and add ingredients for marinade
  2. Whisk marinade
  3. Place chicken in baking dish
  4. Brush barbecue sauce on chicken
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Place marinade in plastic bag
  3. Put chicken in oven
  4. Help with barbecue sauce
A very simple yet delicious recipe. We used boneless chicken thighs because I forgot to thaw the chicken we had in the freezer and had to make a last minute trip to the store. Bam!

Wonton Wrapper Cups

I got this wonderful idea from Michelle at What's Cooking. These are won ton wrappers baked into cups. Again, this is our first time with a new lunch layout so Audrey was a little skeptical. She immediately consumed all of the fruit and yogurt. After it was made clear that this was lunch she ended up eating one and a half cups of left over noodles. Here is the plate:

Mini meals.

And here she is eating. (Don't ask about the shirt, it was gone before lunch even began.):

Messy eater.

The idea works but the delivery needs work. I made the won ton cups in a mini muffin pan and they ended up being smaller than I would have liked. Also, Audrey did not like the taste of the wrapper so it was a wasted purchase. I might look into making my own dough and making it a bit tastier and a little larger so I can make the cups in regular muffin tins. I like it enough that we are going with it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wordless Wednesdays May 5