Thursday, October 27, 2011

Kids Halloween Cutouts

A very simple but fun kids activity that I will post when I have a moment

Pork, Apple and Cheddar Meatballs with Egg Noodles

Okay, I know it's a little silly to post a picture of a magazine clipping, but:
  1. The pictures I take of food always look gross
  2. I forgot to take a picture
  3. I burned the meatballs
Other than me burning the meatballs, this was really, really good.  The meatballs were really great.  This is a really good, different recipe.  It has a real fall feel to it for some reason.  Must be the apples.
The girls didn't eat very much of it, but I think that might have something to do with the 1/4 pound of cheese they ate while I was preparing the meal.  I used a really sharp Vermont Cheddar.  I didn't think they would like the cheese itself, but they couldn't get enough of it.

1 pound ground pork
1 cup coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 tart apple, such as granny smith, peeled and grated
1/2 small onion, grated
1/2 cup chopped parsley (I left this out because I forgot to buy it)
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper
One package egg noodles
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces (I didn't use the full 4 tablespoons...makes it really greasy if you ask me)

1. Preheat the broiler.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and grease with butter (I skipped this part and just put them on a nonstick pan...worked fine). 
In a large mixing bowl, combine the pork, cheese, breadcrumbs, apple, onion, 3 tbsp parsley, the egg, 1.5 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Shape into 16 meatballs and arrange on the baking sheet.
Broil the meatballs until golden and cooked through, about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the noodles.  Drain, then return to the pot and toss with the butter and remaining 5 tablespoons of parsley.  Divide the noodles among 4 plates; top with 4 meatballs each.

Making Rock Candy

A fun kids activity that I will post when I have time and when I figure out if it actually worked (takes up to a week, but I don't see any crystals forming yet)

Quick and Easy Ravioli Lasagna

Great recipe that I will post when I have an extra moment

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Asian Noodle Salad with Tofu Bites

I got this recipe from the Disney Family Fun website.  Click here for a link to their page. 

I thought it was great.  It tasted like stuff from a real Chinese or Thai place..only a little better!  Chris did NOT like it.  AJ ate quite a bit of the noodles, and Mia picked away at it, and even had some bites of the tofu.  I think it's a keeper because:
#1 - I like it...Chris will just have to deal with it. 
#2 - It's healthy and pretty cheap

The one change I made to the recipe was to leave out the sesame seeds.  I'm sure the sesame seeds would have given it a great texture and taste, but sesame seeds were soooo expensive.  I really couldn't see myself spending $7 just on the sesame seeds.  But I did pan fry the tofu in the sesame oil, which gave it a nice flavor and crispiness.  Also, I didn't have any rice wine vinegar, so I substituted one part rice wine with one part white vinegar.  I think my favorite part of the dish was the soy sauce/honey/rice wine that you pour over the tofu at the end of cooking.  It makes this really yummy glaze on the tofu, but the tofu still remained crisp on the outside...yum. 

  • 1 (14-ounce) block extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 12 ounces linguini noodles
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into thin, 2-inch sticks
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed and strings removed
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons lite soy sauce, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/4 cup lite soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey, 2 teaspoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  1. Slice the tofu widthwise into quarters. Slice each quarter into four rectangles, then slice each rectangle diagonally into two triangles. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels and arrange the tofu on top in a single layer. Cover the tofu with another double layer of paper towels and place a baking sheet on top faceup, along with a weight, such as a heavy pot. Let the tofu drain for at least 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dressing and set it aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then cook the noodles according to the package directions. Rinse the noodles with cold water, drain them, and toss them with the dressing. Add the carrots, snap peas, scallions, and cilantro, and toss once more.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, and rice vinegar and set the mixture aside. Place the sesame seeds on a small plate. Firmly press both sides of each tofu piece into the seeds. Heat the sesame and canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu, frying each side until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Drizzle the soy mixture onto the tofu and continue cooking 1 minute more. To serve, fill each bowl with the noodle mixture, then top it with a few pieces of tofu.
Approximate cost:  $10.35
Cost per serving: $2.59
Nutritional Information:
Per serving (1/6 of recipe) Calories 378, Total Fat 15 g (24%), Saturated Fat 2 g (12%), Cholesterol 33 mg (12%), Sodium 1,107 mg (46%), Total Carbohydrate 41 g (14%), Fiber 7 g (29%), Sugars 7 g, Protein 19 g (39%), Vitamin A (115%), Iron (27%)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Flinstone Slab Cookies

I clipped this recipe out of an old magazine.

 The recipe was called Marshmallow Pebbles Slabs and originally called for Marshmallow Pebbles for the cereal.  Well, I don't think that cereal is being made any least I couldn't find it at my grocery store.  It's hard to tell from the picture if the cereal is kind of like lucky looks sort of like fruity pebbles, only white...kind of like Rice Krispies with marshmallows in it.  Anyhow...I substituted Cocoa pebbles and it came out great.  I think next time I'll try Lucky Charms.  I've renamed them Flinstone Slab Cookies...they are delicious.

Flinstone Slab Cookies
1 Cup Flour
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 stick butter, softened
1/3 Cup packed Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Egg
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used the mini chips)
4 cups Miniature Marshmallows
2 Cups Cocoa Pebbles or other cereal, divided

Heat oven to 350.  Combine Flour, Salt, and baking soda.  Beat butter and sugars until light and creamy.  Add egg and vanilla.  Gradually add flour mixture, beating well.  Stir in chocolate chips and 1 cup of the cereal.  Spread into greased 9 x 13 baking pan.

Bake on center rack for 18-20 minutes or until lightly golden.  Sprinkle evenly with marshmallows, return pan to oven.  Bake 2-3 minutes longer or until marshmallows are puffed.  Immediately sprinkle with remaining cereal.  Press lightly into marshmallows, using the back of a wooden or large spoon.  Cool in pan on wire rack.  Cut into slabs. 

YUM... I really was not in the mood for sweets this evening, but I wanted to try just a taste to see if the recipe was good enough to post on the blog...well, I had one bite, and then another, then good.

Taco Night

Okay, I know everyone knows how to make tacos.  I'm really just posting this to remind myself how easy it is to make tacos, and how budget-friendly and versatile it is.

On Tuesday we had chicken tacos (ground chicken was on sale).  I served it with sour cream, salsa, a bag of that steam-in-the-bag brown rice (I was going use regular and it probably would have been cheaper, but the steam in the bag stuff was on sale for 99 cents, so I figured you couldn't beat that), a can of spicy beans (I think they were those Bush Grillin' beans...really good), cheese, and a premade salad.

When dinner was over, I combined the leftover rice, beans, and chicken.  On Wednesday we had taco salads made with the remaining salad greens, topped with the leftover taco shells (broken into pieces), then some cheese, then the chicken/beans/rice mixture, then salsa and sour cream on top.  The taco salads were awesome!  This was such an easy meal to make, and not so bad health-wise...although the sodium content was probably not so great. 

I'm just doing a guess on some of these items, as I forgot to save the grocery receipt.

Ground Chicken:  On sale for $3.00
Taco Seasoning: $1.20
Taco Shells: $1.50
Cheese: $1.00
Salsa:  $1.25
Sour Cream: $.90
Bagged salad: On sale for $.99
Steam in bag rice: .99
Can of Spicy Beans: $2.75 (you can get beans a lot cheaper, but I think these grillin beans were worth the extra money!)

Grand Total (for two meals, four servings each): $13.58
Price per meal: $6.79
Price per serving:  $1.70

Aside from the fact that this is a really budget-friendly meal, it was soooo easy to prepare.  We all know how easy it is to make tacos.  And to make the taco salads, all I had to do was reheat one bowl and toss a few things together.  And it didn't feel like we were eating leftovers at felt like a completely new meal.   And, there is essentially no waste.  All I have left is some cheese, salsa and sour cream, which we're going to use for a couple of quesadilla lunches this week.

 I hope I can remember to do this meal every two weeks or so.

Week One of Back to Normal

It's the first week after the marathon.  I am very happy to have completed the race, and now I'm excited to be able to focus more time on family, menu planning, cooking and craft projects with the girls. 

I'm back onto my grocery budget plan.  I can't remember if my budget goal was $125 or $150.  I think it was $125.  Well, I went a bit over this week, $150.  But still not too bad. 

Another project I'm working on is to go through all the magazines I've saved and clip out the recipes and ideas that I'd like to try, and toss the rest of the magazine (mostly advertisements anyhow).  This will get rid of some clutter in the attic and basement, and it is so much nicer to have little clippings organized in a notebook rather than looking through 20 magazines to find a decent recipe.  I've already used a lot of recipes and ideas from the magazines...and I never would have used them if those magazines were still boxed away taking up space. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pumpkin Painting

Just testing out my new wifi camera!  So exciting that I can post this without having to hook up the camera to the computer.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Cocktail Recipe: Citrus Martini

This is currently my favorite cocktail.  Chris and I discovered it on our cruise, part of a pick 4 mini martini tasting. 

2 ounces Grapefruit vodka (I use finlandia)
3/4 ounces Apple pucker
3/4 ounces lemonade mix
1/4 ounce simple syrup
2 ounces orange juice. 

Cocktail Recipe: Moscow Mule

2 measures vodka
juice of two limes
ginger beer (I used Bruce Cost Fresh Ginger Ale ....yummy)
4-5 cubes ice, crushed

Place ice, vodka and lime juice in shaker.  Shake until frost forms on outside of shaker.  Pour into highball glass with a few pieces of crushed ice.  Top off with ginger beer. 

The first couple of sips might seem a bit tart...but this one really grows on you...very refreshing.

Recipe: Unstuffed Peppers

This was great and so easy.  Both Mia and AJ kept saying, "Yum, yum.  This is yummy, mama." The recipe said it makes four servings, but I plated it with a large green salad, and is enough leftovers for another meal for our family. 

1 Cup long grain rice, cooked (I used white but next time I'll use brown)
1 pound mild italian sausage, casings removed (You could use turkey for a healthier dish)
2 green peppers, chopped
10 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 red onion, chopped
Olive Oil

Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add sausage, break apart, and cook until lightly browned.  Remove sausage from skillet and add to cooked rice.  If there are browned bits on the skillet, you can add a couple splashes of beer, wine, or water to deglaze the pan.  This does two things; makes it easier to clean your pan and, more importantly, it will add TONS of flavor to the dish.  Add two teaspoons more oil to pan.  Add peppers, mushrooms, and onion, and season with salt and pepper.  Cook about five minutes.  Add rice and sausage back to skillet and stir to mix.

Recipe: Turkey Pumpkin Chili

I love this recipe.  It's a nice change from your regular chili.  The pumpkin gives it a subtle sweetness and a nice, creamy texture.  The beans are optional.  I throw them in because they bulk up the recipe and make it last for two meals. 

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 Tablespoon Vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 dash salt
  • 14.5 oz. can beans (kidney, black, or your choice - optional)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

  • Directions

    1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and saute the onion, green bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, and garlic until tender. Stir in the turkey, and cook until evenly brown. Drain, and mix in tomatoes, pumpkin, and optional beans. Season with chili powder, pepper, and salt. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Serve topped with Cheddar cheese and sour cream.

    Collecting Magazine Clippings

    One thing I realized when I was doing the organizing project is that I have TONS of magazines.  Some of them, like the Martha Stewart Christmas and Thanksgiving editions, I'd like to keep.  However, I have tons of magazines that I keep around because there might be one or two recipes or projects I'd like to try.  But I never have time to search through the loads of magazines for the recipe or project I'm looking for.  So, for a long time I've been wanting to start a notebook of magazine clippings.  That way I can get rid of the piles of magazines and have all the ideas I want to try all in one place instead of spread out amongst loads of magazines.  So I was able to start that little project the other night.  I already have a good pile of stuff I want to try.  One of the recipes I made for dinner tonight and it came out really good.  I'll be posting that next. 

    My huge organizing project

    I think what suffered most during marathon training has been my house.  Although I've managed to keep it reasonably clean, it's become terribly unorganized.  All the closets in the house were a mess, and the spare bedroom had basically turned into a giant, very messy closet.  I could never find the things I wanted and felt like I spent half my time searching for things.  Two of the things I could never find were children's cough medicine, tape and scissors (I'll get back to this later on). 

    So I started on a pretty major organizing project.  I started with the medicine cabinets and bathroom closets.  There I found FOUR nearly full bottles of cold medicine that were hidden and jammed in various places.  Then I moved on to the hallway closets, and then the bedroom closets. 

    I packed up all the summer clothes and finally threw out anytyhing in my closet that hadn't been worn in at least two years.  My last project was the spare bedroom, which I was dreading most.  The closet was filled with stuff and plastic totes jammed with various items and junk, mostly crafting stuff that I never used because it was all so disorganized.  I set up a shelving unit in the basement and then went to work pulling everything out of the bins and out of the closet and attempting to get it into some semblance of order. 

    I got everything packed in individual bins and put labels on the outside listing the contents.  Back to the Tape and scissors that I can never find....I foune NINE rolls of tape and FIVE pairs of scissors that were hiding in all that mess!  So now I have a little bin dedicated to tape and scissors...clearly indicated on the outside of the box.  So any time I need tape, I'll just run down to the shelving unit in the basement, find the box that says TAPE/SCISSORS, and there!  No more searching all over.  I know it seems kind of simple and silly, but I can't explain how great it feels to have all this stuff organized!  I still have a little bit more work to do on the spare bedroom, and my next project is a mass organizing of the girls toys.

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    Hello, Blog

    Hello, Blog....I'm still here and I haven't forgotten about you.  Marathoning has been taking up a lot of my time.  One of the things I told myself when I decided to start training for marathon was that I didn't want it to affect the family and home life.  I knew it was a pretty big time commitment, but I wanted to make sure that the rest of the family didn't suffer.  I was pretty successful in that up until the last month or so of training.  The mileage per week was high, and the amount of hours I needed to devote to the runs was taking a lot (most) of my free time.  But now that the race is nearly here, I'm hoping to have much more time to devote to family activities and cooking (and so more things to add to the blog!)