Monday, April 30, 2012

Muffin Tin Monday, Chicken Dinner

Dinner time!

The girls enjoyed a yummy chicken drumstick dinner yesterday in their muffin tins. We have missed Muffin Tin Monday so often recently they did not mind that it was Sunday. Maurene helped me spread sauce on the chicken with her pastry brush.


Head Chef Pastry Brush


Applying sauce.

Shredding cheese.

Mo got to shred as well.

Dishing everything up.

Both girls helped with this meal. We had chicken drumsticks, brown sugar carrots, shortcut scalloped potatoes, and some fruit. Both girls love drumsticks so it was an easy to please meal. 

Check out what everyone else had today for other Muffin Tin Monday Meal ideas.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Homemade cupcakes.

The girls were so excited to make a special batch of cupcakes for daddy this weekend. And he was able to come home for the weekend to enjoy them. An email from him informed us he wanted cherry cupcakes with vanilla frosting. That was easy.

We pulled out my favorite cookbook with the easiest batter recipe. (That would be the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook for those of you who do not know my love for it.) The girls took up their standard positions with Mo handling wet ingredients and Audrey on dry ingredients. Mo just has to crack the eggs.

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Combine dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another. Pour wet into dry and stir to combine. At this point we added about 1 cup of chopped frozen cherries. Pour into a greased and floured 8 inch round baking pan or 12 greased or lined muffin cups. Bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes. 

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Help measure and add all dry ingredients (she measured flour by herself)
  2. Stir
  3. Place batter in muffin cups
Maurene's Tasks:
  1. Crack eggs
  2. Add wet ingredients
  3. Stir
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Help girls
  3. Chop cherries
  4. Bake cupcakes
It really was a team effort. The girls have been making muffins with me for so long they have gotten really good at it. Now, instead of worrying about the mess they might make, I am looking forward to the added help. They can stir the batter while I am putting away the ingredients and we are done twice as fast.

BWS tips button

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mini Cheesecakes

A miniature treat.

Anyone who has read this blog will know that my favorite cookbook is the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. It is simple but full of helpful information. It was the first, and only, cookbook I owned throughout my early adult years.

Now that I am a mom, cooking with my children, I have many more cookbooks. One of them is the Junior Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. There are fun recipes as well as cool pictures inside. Audrey loves it.

This was a simple recipe I decided we should make because I was craving cheese cake. Probably from watching too many episodes of The Big Bang Theory.




  • 8 squares of graham crackers
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • mandarin oranges
  • 2 tbsp apricot spread
Crush crackers and then mix with sugar and melted butter. Place in 8 muffin cups and press down. Freeze for 10 minutes to harden.  Beat cream cheese for 30 seconds then add cream, sugar, and vanilla. Mix until light and fluffy. Spoon on top of graham cracker crust. Top with 2 - 3 mandarin orange sections. Melt apricot spread in the microwave and spoon over oranges. Freeze for 15 minutes and then refrigerate until ready to eat. We had ours right after dinner. And they were so yummy.

Audrey and Maurene's Tasks:
  1. Crush graham crackers
  2. Mix with butter
  3. Press mix into muffin cups
  4. Whip remaining ingredients
  5. Place oranges on top
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Melt butter
  3. Spoon crust into cups
  4. Add ingredients to mixing bowl
  5. Spoon cream cheese mixture into muffin cups
  6. Melt apricot spread and place on top
So happy to work the mixer.

Topping cheese cakes

Ready to chill.

The girls and their dessert.



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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What's For Lunch Wednesday, Dinosaurs

Boulders on his back.

This was actually the end of the dinosaurs. When I made these lunches for the girls recently they had so much fun playing with them that Maurene forgot she has not been eating sandwiches recently. Half of her dinosaur was consumed. 

For this meal I gave Audrey dried fruit to represent rocks and boulders. She placed them on top of the dinosaurs. Now we know what happened to eradicate the dinosaur.

Wiping out the dinosaurs.

Check out what the others are having for lunch at What's For Lunch Wednesday.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cookout and a Jog

I decided to let the girls have a fun evening meal for the first night with daddy gone again. He was with us for a 3 day weekend and they had a wonderful time playing, flying kites, and riding in the bike trailer.

There was no way I could top kite flying so I decided a cookout at one of their favorite parks was in order.

Audrey helped me make chicken packets and we packed up some side items.

It was a nice relaxing evening. Except for the 2 mile jog to the park and 2 mile return home. I ran a 5k on Sunday and am trying to keep up my running habit. Running while pushing a stroller is hard!

Foil packets.

A toddler and frozen berries.

Chicken Packets
  • Skinless, boneless chicken thighs (quarter breast will work)
  • Mushrooms
  • Instant rice
We placed one thigh, a few mushrooms, and 2 tablespoons rice in each packet. Once we arrived at the park I put the coals on to heat and the girls went off to play. Put the packets on for 30-45 minutes. When it was time for dinner they were more interested in the flavored yogurt and frozen berries than the yummy chicken.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

20 Ways For Toddlers to Help


Have you thought about cooking with your little one but are afraid of the mess? Do you want to have fun but don't know where to start? Maybe there was that one time you tried but flour got everywhere and the egg ended up on the floor. Here are 20 easy ways to start your little one helping in the kitchen.
  1. Get a bowl or cutting board out of the cabinet
  2. Pour ingredients into a bowl
  3. Stir, softly
  4. Push the button on the food processor, blender, or microwave
  5. Scoop dough into a muffin tin
  6. Put toppings on the pizza dough
  7. Use a butter knife to cut soft fruit
  8. Help knead the dough
  9. Mash potatoes
  10. Brush oil on veggies to roast
  11. Add herbs or spices to meats and veggies
  12. Help bread meats and veggies
  13. Crush crackers in a sealed baggie with a toy hammer
  14. Place items into food processor, blender, or slow cooker
  15. Crack the egg (on the counter not the bowl)
  16. Wash vegetables
  17. Help skewer veggies and meats to grill
  18. Make fruit sticks or a fruit rainbow
  19. Use cookie cutters to make fun shapes with food
  20. Place frozen items on a cookie sheet to bake
These are all ways your child can start helping in the kitchen. Once they are skilled at these items you can start having them help with more complicated tasks. Audrey and Maurene still help with these tasks all the time. Once your child learns to complete the task by himself he can really start to be a big help in the kitchen.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Ultimate Blog Party 2012

I am a little late to the party as it ends tomorrow! Still I thought I would throw up a picture of the goodies we are giving away.


These are a few of the items I feel are helpful when cooking with children. Over the years we have found we use the same kitchen tools several times a week.

Items included in the Kids Cooking Basket:
  1. Cookie scoop
  2. Spatulas
  3. Small cutting board
  4. Small whisks
  5. Silicon basting brush
  6. Grating box with measurements
This is a basic getting started kit. All items were purchased at Target and the giveaway value is over $50. But you can win this kit for free just by entering at the Ultimate Blog Party by midnight tomorrow (4/20)


Ultimate Blog Party 2012

I would also invite you to enter another giveaway, this one brought to you by Cascadian Farms Organic Foods. They are sponsoring an Earth Day giveaway of an insulated picnic basket full of goodies to help you make Earth Day everyday.

Click on the picture to enter.



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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What's For Lunch Wednesday, Tangled

Audrey's star lunch.

Maurene's simpler lunch.

The girls love the movie Tangled. For Christmas their grandparents got them a cute tower they call Rapunzel's castle. Tonight I let them eat dinner in it. We were supposed to have a picnic at the park but Audrey made a bad choice so we had to stay home. I did not choose to stay in during weather this beautiful on purpose.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Cut the sandwich
  2. Place items in sandwich container
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Cut strawberries
  2. Make sandwich
  3. Cut cucumbers
  4. Gather items
The girls had sandwiches, Baby Bel Cheese, strawberries and pineapple, and star shaped cucumbers. Audrey did not like the Baby Bel Cheese and Maurene wanted two. You never know. 

Cutting sandwiches is hard!

Gotta have a computer in there.

Check out what the other families had for lunch this week at What's For Lunch Wednesday.

I am going to skip the Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge for today. The prompt is not very prompting for me. Hopefully tomorrow's will be more entertaining.


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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mini Bread Pudding & #HAWMC

Maurene calls these beauties Stars Upon Thars. Yes, we do read a lot of Dr. Seuss in this house.

Starred Mini Bread Pudding.
I found a recipe somewhere recently that cut up the bread into star shapes to place on top before baking and I thought it was adorable. Maurene instantly thought of The Sneeches. Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp (or less) sugar or sweetener
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups dry bread
  • 1/3 cup raisins
I cut the recipe in half so I would not be tempted to eat 12 bread puddings. But I kept the raisin amount the same. Raisins are something you can never have too much of in a bread pudding.

Place eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla in a bowl and mix. Place torn bread and raisins in a greased or lined 6-cup muffin tin. Pour egg mix on top and bake at 350F for 25 minutes. 

My assistant for this meal was Maurene, Audrey was practicing folding laundry. I can't make this stuff up, she asked.

Maurene's Tasks:
  1. Crack eggs
  2. Tear bread
  3. Place Stars on top
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Measure and add ingredients to bowl
  3. Mix
  4. Pour egg mix over bread
  5. Bake

Tearing bread.

For the Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge prompt we were asked to write about a lesson we learned the hard way.

As a parent most lessons I learn are the hard way. These adorable children do not come with instruction manuals and they are smart.

Audrey loves to ask questions and she remembers everything. Maurene would just as soon explore and she has little fear. Between the two of them they keep me on my toes. They need stability to be happy children and I need it to be a happy mom.

If I want to take the evening off from cooking and pick up fast food Audrey will tell me how unhealthy the meals are. They are my stabilizers and the reason I blog. 

I want to see them grow up to be happy, healthy women and I want them to know how to cook. Food is so much more than the energy we need to keep going. It is fun and educational. Food can also keep a family together.

Plan and cook a simple meal with your family this week and share it on our Facebook page.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Muffin Tin Monday, Spaghetti & #HAWMC

Spaghetti and produce. 

I know I have mentioned this before but it has been a little busy around here. With the girl's daddy gone and tax season I have been working more than usual. We have also been keeping up with our usual busy schedule with dance classes, music lessons, karate, family visits, and such. This weekend we helped out with a fundraiser for Relay For Life that raised over $4000. It was a spaghetti feed and we were sent home with a large pan of  leftover spaghetti.

As you might know, we made several pasta dishes the last few weeks so I was reluctant to have yet another pasta meal but the price was right and the fridge is a little bare. So we pulled out some fresh produce and made the best of it.

Loading up tins.

The strawberries look a little mushed because I let Maurene cut them and she does not have gentle fingers. She is learning. Besides, they did not mind one bit.

Her silly face.

Check out what everyone else had in their tins this week at Muffin Tin Monday.

The Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge post for today is to create a pin board on Pinterest. Good thing I already have one!

Follow our board, In The Kitchen With Audrey, and see all of the things that catch our attention.

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Make Dessert With Kids This Mother's Day

A Mother's Day Dessert to Make with Your Kids

This Mother’s Day, I wanted to make a dessert with my kids, but I wanted it to be something different. I also wanted it have at least a somewhat redeeming nutritional value. While it’s easy to make something kid-centric that has four eggs and half a pound of butter, making something more nutritious isn’t such a piece of cake (sorry, couldn’t help myself with the pun). Luckily, I stumbled upon this fruit parfait recipe and I was very pleased with the outcome. Better yet, most of the ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.
This parfait is made with whole fruit, but it also has alternating layers of cream and cake, so it feels truly decadent.

Cake

Ingredients

3 eggs, at room temperature, separated
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and set your eggs out on the counter to come to room temperature. This is a little tip I learned in an online cooking class I took a while back; you’ll get more volume from whipping egg whites if you wait until they are at room temperature. At www.onlinecourses.net, you’ll find more information if you’re interested in attending online classes yourself.
Whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar while adding 1/6 cup of sugar, until stiff peaks form. Add in the rest of the sugar until the mix is fluffy. This whipping process is a great time to ask for your kids’ help. Add in vanilla extract. In another bowl, sift flour, cornstarch and salt over the leftover yolks. Then fold in 1/3 of the egg white mixture. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites, so you don’t lose volume. Spread this batter thinly over a cookie sheet and cover with parchment paper; Bake for about 15 minutes, then allow to cool.

Syrup

Ingredients

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp orange liqueur (such us Grand Marnier)

Directions

For the syrup, make a standard simple syrup of equal parts sugar and water, plus adding any fruity liqueur you have around. I randomly had some pomegranate liqueur from a spring party I had recently.

Cream Layer

Ingredients

1 egg
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 cup whipping cream

Directions

For the cream, combine cornstarch and sugar in a bowl and whisk in the egg. Add in the milk (heat it on the microwave or on the stove first) as well as the orange zest. Put the mixture onto the stove for a few minutes to thicken.

Fruit

You’ll also need seasonable fruits, such as strawberries, blueberries and melon, cut up into small pieces.
The assembly here is really the fun part that your kids will enjoy. After everything has had suitable time to cool down, you want to combine cream, fruit, and cake in alternating layers in a clear glass or dish. A round cookie cutter or cup top is ideal for cutting the cake into rounds.
Now that you’ve made an amazing parfait, why not consider learning more about cooking and taking your skills to the next level? You can learn more about online degree programs here.

Source

University of Minnesota Extension (2011)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Five Mini Meals & #HAWMC

Muffin tin meatloaf.

Recently we have been making a lot of our meals in our muffins tins. As I search through our recipes I noticed that we have several items in our rotation we make with the tins. Here are five of our favorites:
  1. Muffin Tin Meatloaves. This is a classic in Audrey's kitchen. We got it from Rachael Ray.
  2. Hawaiian Pizza Muffins. A favorite meal made into portable muffins. The girls love it.
  3. Bacon, Egg, & Cheese Muffins. This idea came out of a desire for greasy fast food breakfasts. Ours has all the flavor but is homemade.
  4. Tiny Grape Upside-Down Cakes. This is another Rachael Ray idea. She has so many great ones.
  5. Pineapple Not Upside-Down Cakes. This is a recipe we developed to make a healthier version of a fun dessert.
These are all fun, portable, mini meals. The children love making these meals with me.

For the Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge we were asked to list 10 things we need (or love!)
  1. Muffin tins, shocking!
  2. Our Pampered Chef baking sheets.
  3. Cookbooks, too many to name!
  4. Pyrex Baking dishes.
  5. Kitchen Aid (we love it!)
  6. Our food processor.
  7. Cookie cutters, too many to name!
  8. A medium sized cookie scoop
  9. Several rubber spatulas
  10. My camera
What do you need (or love!) to make you feel healthy?


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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mini Baked Pancakes & #HAWMC

Pancake, raw carrots, and applesauce.

We are still having fun with our mini meals. Today we baked pancakes in the oven. The idea came to me from Baked German Pancakes on Pinterest but we decided to use a mix this time. Next time we will be sure to follow the recipe for German Pancakes because ours ended up more muffin-like than pancake. The girls still loved them!

Stirring the mix.
Adding the batter to tins.

If you want the fabulous recipe for German Pancakes head over to Gimme Some Oven.


The prompt for the Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge is to start with...

"This morning I looked in the mirror" and saw a mother. The mother in the mirror was tired and a little stressed. She was trying not to think about her busy day or the lack of groceries in the house. Instead she focused on finding a fun meal to cook with her children this evening so they could enjoy a meal as a family. There is nothing more enjoyable than eating as a family. 

When I was growing up there was a brief period when my mother was happily married to my step-father and we had a family meal every night. Because my mother worked these meals were usually from a slow cooker or a box of macaroni and cheese. She tried but was not able to provide much that was enjoyable for us. My faint memory of these meals is not pleasant. 

I don't want that for my girls. So we made Mini Baked Pancakes for dinner.


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