Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Packing Lunches

A friend was asking today about what to pack in her kids' lunches, so I thought I'd share the chart that I have hanging on my fridge that allows my boys to pack THEIR OWN lunches.  I have to help very little in this process now that they have been using it for a while.  I love that it gives them some responsibility, relieves me of some responsibility and allows them to feel like they are in charge, but I know they are getting a decent meal.  Win-win!
Main (1)
Sides (1 from group A and
     1 from group B)
Treat/Dessert (1)
   *Ham and cheese
   *Summer sausage
   *something else?
Homemade Lunchables:
   *Meat: Ham, Turkey,  Chick
Scrambled eggs (w/mustard)
Tortilla Rollup
Chicken Nuggets
Mac & Cheese (Inv. Serv Size)
Corn dogs
Hard-boiled eggs
Hot dog

Last night’s leftovers 

SPECIAL ORDER: _________

Fruit (Apples, pears, oranges, peaches)
Carrots (w/ranch)
Celery (w/peanut butter)
Applesauce (can use jello powder to flavor)

Granola bars
Cottage cheese
Yogurt stick
Cheese stick
Cheese slices (w/crackers)

Optional Trade-outs: (with permission…)

Swiss Rolls
Other as Mom has available
Capri Sun
Iced Tea
Juice (as available)

Snacks are for milk break. 

An additional snack may be packed on nights when you have practice after school.

Granola bars
Apples/Peanut Butter
Celery/Peanut Butter
Other (Talk to mom!)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Banana Ice Cream

Hello, sorry for the long delay in posting! Does anyone still check this page? I so miss posting here, so I'm oping to get back in the habit.  Today I have a yummy treat for you. I hate artificial banana flavor, so anytime I hear banana ....this or that....I tune out because it's gonna be nasty, but I found a yummy tasting banana ice cream....all the better because my hubby has developed a dairy sensitivity and can no longer have milk or ice cream.  Enjoy!

Banana Ice Cream

Place frozen bananas in a food processor or a good blender and process until smooth.

How's that for easy?! We sometimes add some PB2 and a tiny drizzle of chocolate syrup on top and it's OH SO GOOD!!  I'm so thankful for Pinterest! :)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Cucumber Salsa

I haven't tried this, but found it on Facebook and wanted to save it because it sounds so good!

Crisp Cucumber Salsa:
Note: 1/4 cup is only 16 calories!

2 cups finely chopped seeded peeled cucumber
1/2 cup finely chopped seeded tomato
... 1/4 cup chopped red onion
... 2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 jalepeno pepper, seeded and chopped
4-1/2 tsp minced fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1/4 c reduced-fat sour cream (or plain f/f greek yogurt)
1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
1-1/2 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp seasoned salt
Tortilla chips

In a small bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. In another bowl, combine the sour cream, lemon juice, lime juice, cumin and seasoned salt. Pour over cucumber mixture and toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fire and Ice Pickles

Last year, I had a TON of cucumbers and didn't know what to do with them all.  I don't care for my home canned dill pickles (I'm something of a pickle snob...very picky about my pickles) and I was already up to my ears in Refrigerator Pickles so I turned to Google for another way to deal with all these cucs.  What I found was hot and sweet freezer pickles called Fire and Ice.  They are super simple and rather tasty.  Enjoy!

Fire and Ice Pickles

3 1/2 cups (1 pound) thinly sliced cucumbers
1 medium onion sliced into rings
2 jalapenos, sliced (seeds optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar
2 tbsp water

In a non-reactive bowl, place your cucs, jalapenos, onion and garlic and set aside.  In a saucepan, cook your vinegar, sugar, water, and salt until the sugar dissolves.  Pour this over the veggies and cool.  Chill in refrigerator for 48 hours, then spoon into containers and freeze until you need them. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Homemade Instant Oatmeal

My oldest son goes through streaks where all he wants is one thing for breakfast and he'll eat that SAME. THING. OVER. AND. OVER. AGAIN. until the new thing.  For a while, he wanted omelets every morning.  Now we're off omelets and onto oatmeal.  I had some packets of instant oatmeal in the cupboard.  My hubby brings them home from the hotels he stays at sometimes (he grabs them at breakfast time intending to make them later) or I'll see some that look good while I'm in the store.  In any case, we had quite a few of them here.  Rugby's been making them for a couple weeks and now we're completely out and the kid eats 3 packets at a meal, so HOLY EXPENSIVE, BATMAN!  There's got to be a better way!

 I keep quick cooking oats in the house to bake with, so yesterday I opened them up, fired up Google and found a recipe for our own.  I have a large glass container that I used to keep our popping corn in, but that was nearly empty, so I poured the popping corn into another container that was already empty and VOILA! Oatmeal storage.  :) I wrote the instructions on a piece of card stock, cut it out to the size of the lid and glued it on with a little Elmer's school glue that was handy.   Then I printed out a list of "variations" so that there were ideas right there for him to jazz up his oatmeal and I had some of the  things in the house already.  There were some things on the variations list that will be special request and some for special occasion (Dude, we're NOT having Pop Rocks in our oatmeal every day!)  Anyway, here's the recipe and a list of the variations.  Enjoy!

Cinnamon Spice Instant Oatmeal

6 cups quick cooking oats
2 cups quick cooking oats flour (pulse in a blender in 1/2 cup batches or run through the food processor.  This helps thicken the oatmeal)
1 cup dry milk powder (optional...I didn't include just because I didn't have any on hand)
 3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1 tsp salt

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients.  Pour into a large storage container or separate out into snack bags.  Most packets you buy in the store are 1/3 cup and that will fit lovely into a snack size baggie. 

To use: Add 1/3 cup mix to 2/3 cup milk (or water if you prefer).  Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes and enjoy.

Now the fun part....MIX INS!  The boys all had oatmeal this morning because they got to add sprinkles.  It wasn't much, but it was enough to get them excited about oatmeal and for my little two, that NEVER happens!  :) Here's a few more options:

Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal-  2 Tbsp. chopped dried apples.

Oatmeal w/Raisins & Brown Sugar - 1 Tbsp. raisins.

Health Nut Oatmeal -  2 Tbsp. any kind of wheat germ

Fruit & Cream Oatmeal - 1 Tbsp. non-dairy coffee creamer and 2 Tbsp. dried fruit

Fun Fruit Oatmeal -  6 or 7 pieces of 'fruit snack' type dehydrated fruit

Confetti Oatmeal - 1 tsp. decorative cake/cookie sprinkles.

S'More Oatmeal - add 6 miniature marshmallows and 1 Tbsp. Milk Chocolate Chips to each packet.

Cookies n Cream Oatmeal - add 1 crushed Oreo cookie and 1 Tbsp. non-dairy coffee creamer

Exploding Oatmeal -  1/2 tsp. 'Pop Rocks' candy to each packet. This one is fun for celebration days, such as birthdays.

Bart-man Oatmeal - add 2 Tbsp. 'Butterfinger B.B's' candies to each packet.

And don't forget about plain old fresh fruit, too.  Raspberries or blueberries would be awesome!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Herbal Oven Roasted Potatoes

Tonight we were looking for something to go with some marinated chicken breasts for dinner.  It's 90* today, so I didn't want to spend a lot of time or effort on it.  I had a bag of Honey Gold Potatoes left in the pantry from a couple weeks ago.  They are 2 bites-sized potatoes and look like baby Yukon Golds.  I cut a few herbs from the garden, tossed it all together and VOILA!  Enjoy!

Herbal Oven Roasted Potatoes

2# potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces (I quartered the Honey Golds)
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes (I used romas, but grape or cherry halves would be good!)
5 cloves pressed garlic
3 tbsp EVOO (I used Rosemary Canola Oil that we got for Christmas.  Pampered Chef sells it.)
2-3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 cup fresh basil, chopped

In a gallon sized bag, toss together potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, rosemary and oil.  Spread in a greased 11x17 pan (I lined mine with foil, then sprayed with cooking spray). Bake at 450 for 20-30 minutes.  remove from oven and toss in basil before serving.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Strawberry Spinach Salad

It's winter here in Wisconsin, though I think someone forgot to tell that to Mother Nature. The past few weeks have been summer temperatures. Today's normal high is 40 and they are anticipating our actual temperature to be 83 today. It's crazy and I love it, but it also makes me scared that it can't last and it's going to freeze again and my fruit trees aren't going to bare fruit AGAIN this year. They are just starting to bud out now. My plants are all coming up and it's looking more like May than March out there.

That being said, I have more energy (presumably because I'm outside and soaking up more vitamin D), and I am ITCHING to get my hands in the dirt. Along with nice weather, I always feel like eating better. Last night, I introduced my boys to a HEALTHY salad and they loved it!! It's soooo super easy and I want to try to keep things in the house to make it because it's an easy snack when I want something RIGHT. NOW. Enjoy!

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Orange Poppy Seed Dressing


1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 tbsp poppy seeds (more or less, depending on your preference. I skipped them last time because I didn't have any in the house and it was still good!)
1 tbsp honey (Skip this if you're using vanilla yogurt)

3 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves, rinsed
4 strawberries, chopped

Top salad with 2 tbsp of the dressing. Easy peasy!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

Do you Pinterest? I am so addicted it isn't even funny. I force myself not to go there everyday because I can lose 2 hours at a time. It's an amazing source of DIY projects, recipes, inspirational and funny quotes, YOU NAME IT and you can probably find it on Pinterest.

The morning of Super Bowl Sunday, I was on there looking for some munchies to make to watch the big game and I found some recipes to try...bought the stuff and made them that day! Yay me, that kind of turn around almost never happens. Take this post for instance...I really should have done it last week. Well, here I am now and you'll love me forever. Riley (my 9 year old) makes this for me. It's so super simple and so super yummy. We've had it with regular graham crackers, apples and chocolate animal crackers and I think the chocolate animal crackers are my fave....followed closely by Braeburn Apple slices. YUM! Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup MINI chocolate chips...milk is good, but I love the semisweet ones in here!
  • 1 cup toffee bits
Cream together cream cheese and butter. Add all remaining ingredients and mix until well-combined. Serve with graham crackers or apple wedges.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cream Cheese Banana Bread

At Christmas time, I made cutting boards for some of the teachers and tucked in a loaf of banana bread with it. I thought "I don't need to make the glaze for this. It's just banana bread, what's the big deal?" Well, I'm here to tell you, the glaze makes amazing banana bread AHHHH-MAZING! Seriously yummy stuff.

Cream Cheese Banana Bread with Orange Glaze

3/4 cup softened butter
8 oz pkg softened cream cheese
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups mashed banana (about 4 medium...I don't measure, I just add 4)
3 cups ap flour
1/2 tsp each: baking soda, baking powder and salt
OPTIONAL: 2 cups pecans (I skip these)

Orange Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp orange zest
3 tbsp orange juice (Use the juice of the orange you zest or use OJ concentrate)

Cream the butter and cream cheese with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, making sure to mix well after each one. Beat in bananas and vanilla. Add dry ingredients all at once and stir until combined. Fold in 1 cup pecans if you are using them.

Pour batter into 2 loaf pans (8x4x2) or 5 mini loaf pans that you've lightly coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining pecans.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes (about 45 minutes for minis) or until a toothpick comes out clean. Move to cooling rack, prick with a fork a few times before drizzling with the glaze. Allow to cool about 10 minutes before you remove from the loaf pans to cool completely.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Potato Soup

At the end of summer, when I have cleared the garden of all vegetables, Rugby loves to go back over it and search for more. It's a treasure hunt to him. And usually he finds things I missed...mostly carrots and potatoes. I must get lazy when I'm digging. A couple years ago, he brought in his bounty and asked if he could make potato soup for supper. I helped him put together a very basic recipe and then tweak it with all the veggies he had. That soup had carrots, corn, and green beans in addition to the potatoes. I'll share the basic recipe with you and you can add any other veggies that you like. Enjoy!

Potato Soup

2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup flour
7 cups milk (we use 1%)
4 large baking potatoes, baked, peeled and cubed (I have already peeled, cubed and boiled before adding to the soup and that works fine, too!)
4 green onions, sliced (I use them if I have them)
12 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled (The kids like more, but really...who doesn't like more bacon?!)
1 1/4 cup shredded cheddar
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2-3/4 tsp celery seed (we like it, but ok to skip if you don't)

Melt butter in your stock pot. Stir in flour; heat and stir until smooth. GRADUALLY add the milk, stirring constantly until thickened. (It won't thicken very well if you add the milk too fast.) Add potatoes and onions. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, stirring until cheese is melted. Serve immediately. Makes about 2 1/2 quarts.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Packing Lunch

I don't have time to pack lunch for four kids everyday. My boys like to pack them in the morning so they're fresh, so if that's going to happen on top of all four of them getting ready for school, they are going to have to pack it themselves. I can help, but don't have time to do them all. It's a lot of work to decifer what each of them wants or likes.

When school started, I made a "menu" for the boys and called it "The Brother's Lunch". It's hung on the fridge everyday since then and the kids use it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. to pack their lunches. I help the littles and I check them before the kids leave just to make sure they're not sneaking something they shouldn't or to make sure that they've got enough to eat.

This menu thing works great....most of the time. But, the way it was set up, they could take a yogurt stick and a cheese stick and their main dish item and that would be the extent of their lunch. Then, I'd get reports of still being hungry after lunch.

Today, I redid the menu and I'm hoping the boys love the changes. I separated the side dish column into two sections. They can choose one from each. Group A is fruit and veggies and group B is the dairy stuff and granola bars. I also listed a couple of optional tradeouts that they could do with approval....I don't always have jello or pudding made up for them to take, so they're on the tradeout list. I also added a snack section. This week, we started basketball practice immediately after school until 5pm and then wrestling practice follows at 6pm. Hopefully, when #2 has practice after school, we'll remember to send a snack so he's not starving when he gets home and before his next practice starts since we'll only have time for a quick meal before running out the door again. I see more later evening snacks/mini meals in our future!

So, since I found having this menu handy, I thought I'd share it with you. If you'd like me to e-mail you a copy that you can tweek for your own use, just let me know! I'd be happy to share. Enjoy!

Monday, August 22, 2011

You won't believe this!

I am about to tell you about the best recipe I've had in a very long time. I had these bars at church this weekend and they are PHENOMENAL! I love Snickers candy bars and now I can make my own at home! They are time consuming and are probably better suited as a special treat, but I can't wait to make them! Enjoy!!


2 teaspoons butter
1 cup milk chocolate chips
¼ cup butterscotch chips
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup butter
1 cup sugar
¼ evaporated milk
1 ½ cups marshmallow crème
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cup chopped salted peanuts
1 package (14 ounces) caramels
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup (6 ounces) milk chocolate chips
¼ cup butterscotch chips
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
1. Line a 13in x 9in. pan with foil; butter the foil with 2 teaspoons butter and set aside. In a small saucepan, combine the milk chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and peanut butter; stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Spread into prepared pan. Refrigerate until set.
2. For filling, in a small heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add sugar and milk; bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; boil and stir for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in the marshmallow crème, peanut butter and vanilla. Add peanuts. Spread over first layer. Refrigerate until set.
3. For caramel layer, in a small heavy saucepan, combine the caramels and cream; stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Cook and stir 4 minutes longer. Spread over the filling. Refrigerate until set.
4. For icing, in another saucepan, combine chips and peanut utter; stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Pour over the caramel layer. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
5. Remover from the refrigerator 20 minutes before cutting. Remove from pan and cut into 1 inch squares. Store in an airtight container.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Tortellini Salad

Earlier this summer, my mom found this recipe on Two Peas and Their Pod. She's made it a few times and it's a keeper! We all fight over who is getting the last bowl. :) Thought that I'd share it here so I can remember where it is. Enjoy!

Tortellini Salad

Yield: 8-10


1 (16 ounce) package cheese tortellini, cooked according to package instructions, rinsed and drained
2 cups water-packed artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 large red pepper, chopped, seeds removed
1 large yellow pepper, chopped, seeds removed
1/2 cup pitted sliced black olives
1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup freshly chopped basil
1 1/4 cups balsamic dressing (use your favorite brand)
Salt and pepper, to taste


1. In a large bowl, combine tortellini, artichokes, peppers, olives, tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and basil. Stir until combined.

2. Add the balsamic dressing and gently stir until all of the ingredients are coated with dressing. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Place tortellini salad in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve chilled.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Butterscotch Bonanza Bars

When you have a 10 year old boy asking you for a recipe because he liked it, you KNOW you have a winner, right?! That's just the case with this recipe. Within 2 hours, the entire pan was gone!

I love to read murder mysteries with recipes. Diane Mott Davidson is a good author and my other favorite is Joanne Fluke. This recipe comes from Joanne Fluke's book DEVIL'S FOOD CAKE MURDER. I have already baked two recipes and they're both pretty good. This one is my fave of the two. They are soooooo super easy to stir up and they are loved by the boys of the house! Enjoy!

Butterscotch Bonanza Bars

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, melt 1 stick of butter.

Stir in 2 cups light brown sugar until well mixed.

Sprinkle 2 tsp baking POWDER and 1 tsp salt over this and then stir until well mixed.

Add two beaten eggs. Stir well.

Stir in 1 tsp vanilla.

Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until you have added 1 1/2 cups.

Stir in 2 cups of (any combination) semi-sweet chocolate chips, butterscotch chips. white chocolate chips, or milk chocolate chips. ( I use 1 cup white and 1 cup SS)

Spread into a greased and floured 9x13 pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Cool completely before serving. Cut into 40 bars. (I don't usually get that many...I think I get about 30)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Because I love you...

And because I haven't made anything worth posting about, here's a hilarious video. Totally family friendly. My guts ache from laughing so hard tonight. Enjoy!