December 16, 2010

Puff Pancake

Funny coincidence, yesterday I recieved an email from Eat Better America and it featured a recipe for a "Puff Pancake." Just about identical to my 'Hootenany Pancake' I picutured in my last post, but supposedly a healthified version with less calories and fat. I'm anxious to try this version. I think it's a fun breakfast, especially around the holidays when the kids are home.

Here's my recipe anyway:

Hootenany Pancakes

3 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
dash of salt
2 tablespoons butter

Beat eggs, flour, salt and milk together in a bowl. Melt butter in a pie pan then add the mixed ingredients, bake in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. Serve with jam, syrup or fresh fruit.

December 13, 2010

This and that

Busy-ness of the holiday season + computer problems = not much time for blog posting. But I have taken a few pics with the intention of posting so I'll do a quick summary of a few of my more notable creations.

This breakfast is not very healthy, but it tastes really good and it's lotsa fun. Especially for kids.

My cookbook calls it a "Hootenany Pancake," but I think it's called a German Pancake as well. It's basically just flour, eggs, milk and butter but when you bake it in a pan it turns and puffs into strange shapes. It's different everytime, with mountains and valleys and caves and all kinds of bubbly formations. It deflates quick so you have to watch closely while it's baking and shortly after. Then when the excitement is over, top it with jam or syrup and it's quite scrumptious!

Here's another sort-of breakfast food that I'm loving lately. It's just a veggie/egg scramble but I put tons of veggies in it. Usually zucchini, red pepper, onion and garlic.

It's so yummy and even with the egg-y fat and cholesterol, I think it's a good way to get your veggies. The kids love it wrapped in a tortilla with a little cheese and picante sauce.

Doesn't this look like a super greasy cheeseburger?

It's a black bean burger! I just tossed a drained can of black beans in the food processor with some bread crumbs, an egg and some spices then fried it up and served it on a Smart Balance toasted whole wheat bun with some cheese and other burger fixin's. I won't claim that it actually tasted like a hamburger but it looked like one and it tasted pretty good.

And since it's Christmas, here's a pic of my big guy with the gingerbread men we made a couple weeks ago.

Merry Christmas!!

November 21, 2010

Apple Fries

Okay, not really. I mean, they are apples but they're not fried. I just cut them up to look like fries and somehow that makes them so much more exciting. And I made a great dipping "sauce" from peanut butter, smashed banana, a little maple syrup, a dash of cinnamon and some milk to thin it just a bit. They received two thumbs up as a bedtime snack tonight.

November 15, 2010

Gazpacho...sort of

I started out with a recipe for gazpacho but kinda changed a few things. It turned out really yummy! I don't know if it's technically gazpacho since I cooked most of the veggies but we did eat it chilled. And I don't have exact measurements on how I made it, but that's the beauty of this kind of 'soup.' You can totally be creative based on what veggies you like. Here's what I did:

Chop up and sautee in olive oil:
red pepper
minced garlic

after everything turns limp and the house smells heavenly, let it cool.

Place in blender:
1 can tomatoes
2 cups tomato juice
1/2 cucumber
sauteed veggies

blend it up, season to taste, then chill (you and the soup)

I baked some garlic bread and we dipped it in the soup. It was SOOOO good, the kids
loved it too. When all the veggies are blended like that beyond recognition they are so much easier for a kid (and certain adults) to eat! The dipping part makes it fun too.

October 28, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes

I found this recipe in an old Taste of Home magazine. I've made it twice already and these pancakes turn out great!

Pumpkin Oat Pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour (I did half whole wheat)
1 cup quick cook oats
2 T wheat germ
2 t sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
pinch of cinnamon

1 c milk
1 egg
3/4 c canned pumpkin
2 T oil

Combine wet and dry ingredients separately, then mix all together just until moistened. Pour batter into a hot greased pan and turn when bubbles form. Decorate with chocolate chips or raisins if desired. (I desired chocolate, so did my helper)

Here's Mr. Pumpkin pancake looking so cute:

And, if you add the chocolate chips when the pancakes are nice and warm, they will melt and you can spread the love:

Here's my big helper:

Happy Halloween!

October 13, 2010

Papas Chorreadas

Papas chorreadas is a delicious Colombian specialty. Potatoes smothered in a cheesy sauce seasoned with onions and tomatoes.

This is a dish my mother made quite often when we were growing up. I always liked it but had forgotten about it until recently. I asked her for the recipe and my Dad scanned and emailed me this copy which is the original clipping from the newspaper where my Mom got the recipe years and years ago:

Though the recipe doesn't call for it, we always wrapped up this potato concoction in a tortilla and ate it like a big fat burrito. And this time, I also sprinkled some extra salsa and cheese on top before wrapping it up:


October 04, 2010


The only way I've ever eaten artichokes is in dips. I wasn't even sure what they tasted like since in the dips they were mixed with cheese and/or other creamy fatty stuff. So, since my "101 Foods That Could Save Your Life" book featured artichokes, I thought it would be fun to try. One large artichoke contains only 25 calories, no fat, 170 milligrams of potassium, and is a good source of vitamin C, folate, magnesium, anti-oxidants and dietary fiber. The trick is to keep your dipping sauce low in fat too.

Artichokes are intimidating looking things. And I had to do some googling to find out exactly the best way to prepare them. It's a bit complicated but kinda of fun and definitely worth the effort.

**a little disclaimer, these artichokes are about 2 days past their prime since I was lazy and didn't have time to make them when I should have. They were much prettier when I bought them, but they still tasted good

Here's my step by step for how I made my steamed artichokes:

First, rinse well with cold water. Then with some sturdy scissors, snip off the tips of the leaves. They have kind of a prickly point to them so it's best to get rid of it. Then slice off a good chunk of the stem and about 3/4 to an inch off the top of the leaves. Here's what it looks like now.

Next, prepare a steam bath for Art. I filled my pot with about 2 inches of water then added 3 cut up cloves of garlic, some lemon juice and about 5 torn basil leaves. Bring it to a boil, cover, reduce to simmer for 25 to 40 minutes or until the outer leaves can easily be pulled off.

When it's done it's much darker green and nice and tender. And now, the fun part, dipping and eating! I made a creamy dip with mayonnaise, sour cream, dill weed, garlic powder and pepper. Here's how you eat it- Tear off a leaf. The part that comes off the artichoke has a little bit of "meat" on it. Dip that and then eat it by scraping it with your teeth. There's not a whole lot there to start with, as the the peeling progresses, there will be more edible portion to the leaf. Work your way up, until all of the petals are removed.

With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy part (sometimes called the "choke") covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Cut into pieces and dip into sauce to eat.

Give it a try, I think they are delicious and my son had lots of fun eating them too. The ones I bought were only 99 cents a piece!

PS: I almost forgot, the second time I made them, I took the garlic and basil from the cooking water and mashed them up into the dip. It added some good flavor!

October 02, 2010

Great Quote

I ran across this quote today by Michael Pollan, who is an author and "food activist" (whatever that means). Pollan says everything he's learned about food and health can be summed up in these seven words:

Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

Simple, but profound! I love it.

He also has "7 Rules for Eating" that I found in an article on WebMD. I think they are awesome too (though not always totally do-able). They are good guidelines anyway.

1. Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.

2. Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce.

3. Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. That's where the fresh stuff is.

4. Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot.

5. It is not just what you eat but how you eat. Always leave the table a little hungry.

6. Enjoy meals with the people you love, together, around a table and not a TV, at regular meal times. It's a good tradition.

7. Don't buy food where you buy your gasoline.

He has written several books on health and nutrition. I may just have to check them out!

September 30, 2010

My Special Spaetzle Dinner

I made a very good dinner tonight! What it lacked in beauty, it made up for in deliciousness. I clipped this Basil Spaetzle recipe a long time ago from an old Taste of Home magazine. Since I have an abundance of basil (quite the miracle since I've long ago given up on watering the garden) I decided it was time to try it. Here's the recipe as written, check it out then I'll detail the changes I made.


3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil
3 teaspoons salt, divided
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup cold water

In a bowl combine flour, basil and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir in the eggs and add the cold water. Mix until dough is smooth. In a large kettle bring 4 quarts of water and remaining salt to a boil, then reduce heat. With a rubber spatula, press dough through a colander into the simmering water. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring gently so the spaetzle do not stick together. Drain and toss with butter.

So, since this spaetzle business is all new to me, I cut the recipe in half in case it didn't turn out. Though I probably did include the whole 1/3 cup of basil. The biggest problem I had was the colander part. My dough absolutely would not be pushed through the holes. I even tried my steamer strainer thing with larger holes and it was a no go. It was too sticky and thick. I ended up just pinching off bits of dough and dropping them in the water. That took a while so some pieces cooked much longer than others, but it all turned out fine. Actually, it turned out wonderful! They were chewy little funny looking dumplings with a very nice buttery basil flavor. I sauteed onion, zucchini, mushrooms and garlic in some olive oil then tossed it all together with the spaetzle and some parmesan cheese. YUM!!!

And, I must talk about my cauliflower too. I found a recipe on for Roasted Garlic Cauliflower. I've never cooked cauliflower before and it's been a very long time since I've eaten it raw. I forgot that I really like it! And this recipe turned out great. I made a couple changes in the method based on reviews and my fear of broiling. I covered the pan with foil while baking. After 25-30 minutes, I tossed it with panko crumbs and parmesan cheese then just baked it for about 5 more minutes uncovered (instead of broiling it). Broiling makes me nervous. I avoid it whenever I can so that my dinner won't go up in flames.

It was a tasty vegetarian meal. My son LOVED the spaetzle, he was so-so on the cauliflower so I made a little cheese dip to go with it and he managed to eat a few pieces. Hubby gave me that famous "compliment" he gives me every so often, "it's not as bad as I expected." He is not a cauliflower fan, so I give him props for trying it. He liked the rest of the meal just fine though. I'll definitely be making both of these dishes again!

September 21, 2010


I go there way too much. And it's not really a matter of loving their food, it's more a matter of convenience and cheap drinks from 2-4pm. It seems there's a Sonic around every corner, including one very close to school where I pick up my son every day at 3:30 (that's HAAAAAPY hour baby!) So, since I frequent there I've done some research into some of the good and bad food choices that they offer, since often I've got the munchies when I stop there for my drinks. I'm only comparing the el cheapo stuff since in my opinion, most of their food is overpriced and really not that great.

The good (good being a relative term here):

Corn Dog (surprise!) 210 Cal 11g Fat
Chicken Strips (2) 200 Cal 11g Fat
Small Tots 130 Cal 8g Fat
Jr Oreo Sundae 150 Cal 5g Fat
Jr Banana Split 210Cal 6g Fat

The bad (there's tons of bad, but here's a few that have called my name)

Frito Chili Cheese Wrap 670 Cal 39g Fat
French Toast Sticks 500 Cal 31g Fat
Caramel Java Chiller 500 Cal 25 Fat
Pretty much any shake-type concoction is gonna run into the 500-1000 calorie range
with fat grams ranging from 30-70.

And just a tip, if you skip the mayo on any sandwich/burger, you save approx 80 calories and 9 grams of fat. Sub with mustard for only 5 calories and zero fat.

And another tip. Stay away from the 20 oz Snickers Sonic Blast. It's the highest calorie thing on the menu. 1210 calories and 58 grams of fat.

The best news of all for me is that my super favorite drink, my precious Route 44 Peach Tea rings in at only 10 calories!! For the whole dang drink - all 44 ounces. Yay! I highly recommend it, it's plenty sweet with the little peach flavoring they add. Their regular sweet tea, same size, is 400 calories!

You can check out the rest HERE!

Happy Sonic-ing.

September 12, 2010

Apple Crisp

Tis the season to think about apples! This is my absolute favorite apple dessert recipe, it's simple and delicious and gets rave reviews every time I make it. And, last night I made it using peaches instead of apples (omitting the cinnamon) and it was wonderful as well. It was gone so quickly, I didn't even get a pic. I'll be making it again soon enough :)

Apple Crisp

3-4 cups apples, sliced thin
1/2 cup sugar
1 T flour
1/4 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon

3/4 cup oats
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 t soda
1/4 t baking powder
1/3 cup melted butter or margarine

Combine first five ingredients and mix well. Place in greased baking pan. Mix remaining ingredients till crumbly and put evenly over the apple mixture. Baked at 350 degrees for 40 min or until apples are done.

September 10, 2010

Fruit Salad

My daughter turned two this week and it made me realize it was the second anniversary of something else. Towards the end of my pregnancy with her and right after she was born I craved fruit something awful. Well, maybe awful isn't a good word since it's a very good thing to crave! I remember in the hospital ordering a big fruit bowl with my meals and eating that fruit like it was candy. So, after I came home word spread of my craving. When my sister came over that first week she had a special "package" from my Dad. A large bowl of his home-made fruit salad. Yum! And guess what? He has continued to keep me stocked on this fruit salad for two years. What an awesome Dad! I get a big Tupperware bowl of it just about every week. It is a mixture of apples, grapes, oranges and pineapples. I eat it almost every day with my lunch and my now two year old daughter likes to pick out the grapes and oranges for herself :) I don't always crave it like I used to but how easy is it to eat fruit when it is all cut up nice and right there front & center in the fridge. I'm still lovin' it.

Thanks Dad!

September 04, 2010

This week's dinners...

had some highs and lows.

Monday - Tex Mex Chili with Corn and Black Beans. It was yummy. Chili is yummy. Who doesn't love chili?

Tuesday - Honey Dijon Chicken and some Sweet Potato Soup that was a big fat FAIL. I thought it would be fine to substitute some old frozen turkey stock in place of the chicken broth. Not wise. Shoulda thrown that funky stuff out like 6 months ago. So, I dumped the soup, it was sad but necessary. The chicken turned out good though.

Wednesday - leftovers

Thursday - Italian chicken with Spaghetti Squash and Cheesy Garlic Bread. This was pretty good though I'd planned to put some spaghetti sauce on top then discovered we were all out. So, I added some extra Italian seasoning and some parmesan cheese and it turned out alright.

Friday - Vegetarian night! Black bean soup and mushroom & onion quesadillas. I got the soup recipe from my "101 Foods That Could Save Your Life" book. I thought it was absolutely delicious. No one really agreed with me on that. Hubby's words were, "It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be." Not exactly high praise, but I wasn't surprised given beans are not his fav. My son ate half a bowl only after smothering it with cheese and sour cream. The quesadillas however were loved by all. Here's a pic of tonight's meal.

September 02, 2010

A Good Deal

My Kohl's store is selling this book for $5.00 right now.

I've been wanting to try it out for a while and that's such a great deal, even cheaper than you can buy a copy online. Anyway, the premise of this book is to prepare various fruit and vegetable purees, like sweet potato, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, mostly things that kids refuse to eat. Then, take the purees and hide them in everyday food like mac & cheese, nuggets, brownies, etc and supposedly no one will ever be able to tell you're sneaking vegetables into the food. This book is nicely put together, it's fun to read, has great pics and some very good looking recipes! I'm anxious to try some of them.

I do have a slight problem with this book though. I realize some kids have a very strong aversion to vegetables. And getting them to eat healthy is hard. But, this book relies very heavily on the themes of being sneaky, secretive and deceiving. The first page of the recipe section states, "The Deception Begins..." That kinda leaves a bad taste in my mouth. So, the kids eat their nuggets, burgers and brownies thinking they never have to eat vegetables? I think a better way would be to tell them and teach them that they can be yummy! My son actually gets excited when I sneak something into dinner like that. There should be satisfaction in eating good rather than thinking you got away with another meal of nothing healthy. Does that make sense? I think disguising the vegetables is fine! I just don't think it needs to be a big secret. I'll be trying some of the recipes soon and I'll let you know how "deceptively delicious" they really are :)

August 30, 2010

Just a few notes...

Here's another great book I've been reading:

It is a very easy read, highlighting 101 super healthy foods. Some are familiar, some are not. Each "chapter" gives the history of the food, it's health benefits and even has a recipe. I credit the book for me eating dried apricots for a snack today. Yup, got my full RDA of beta-carotene :) And we really need to eat more avocados. And I'd really like to try agave syrup. Can you tell I'm still on the A's?

A couple more tidbits to share from my copy of "Eat This Not That for Kids." First, this quote:

"Most of us don't labor under the illusion that ice cream snacks and fast food burgers are healthy. The occasional sinful indulgence is part of living, even for (or especially) for kids. But most parents could never guess how bad many of today's kids' meals really are."

That is, when you get down to the nitty gritty, these things are SOOOO much worse that most people realize. Those occasional treats add up to something quite awful. But there are alternatives! You don't have to deprive yourself and your kids, you just need to be educated on better choices.

And how about this, "Today's children are likely to be the first generation to live shorter, less-healthy lives than their parents." That's pretty sad.

And you know what is really disturbing to me? It's how deceiving the packaging is on store bought food. Any product can claim to be healthy and these marketers are very sneaky and quite dishonest actually. You can't trust the front of the box, you have to look at ingredients and the nutritional info to really tell if it's good or not. And most people don't know how to decipher all that, it's ridiculous how confusing it all is. Busy moms especially don't have time to read the small print on items so these sneaky marketers splash these "sound bites" on the front, make it sound "all natural" and "wholesome" when it's really just a load of sugary, fatty, processed CRAP!! Can you tell I'm annoyed? I have fallen prey to this deception, but no more. I'm finally realizing it is MY duty as a mom to figure it all out and do right by my family, so that's what I'm trying to do.

August 28, 2010


I made some pretty good dinners this past week!

-Monday: Chicken tosadas with corn & black bean salsa

-Thursday: Steaks on the grill with sides of Greek garbanzo bean salad and a cucumber pasta salad. Small note: I used that whole wheat pasta again and I'd have to say it doesn't taste quite as good in a salad. I think it does better when it is warm and smothered in some kind of sauce. Everyone kind of ate it with a frown on their face. Like this --> :(

-Wednesday: Leftovers

-Tuesday: Crock pot BBQ chicken with baked beans and cole slaw on the side

-Friday: Vegetarian night! Pesto pizzas on whole wheat pita bread with a side of roasted fresh green beans. These beans were awesome. They had toasted almonds and caramelized onions on them. We all loved them. Here's a pic of that dinner (it was so much more delicious that it looks):

August 22, 2010

A Few Substitutions

I've been trying to sneak in a few healthy substitutions because I think little things like this can make a big difference. Here's three I've had success with.

Whole Wheat Pasta in place of plain white pasta. I made some this past week for the first time and it was very good! And, it was only about 50 cents more than the regular white pasta. It had just a little bit chewier texture but tasted pretty much the same. My son looked at it funny, noticing that the color was darker. It reminded me of the way lo mein noodles look at the Chinese buffet, so I just told him that's the kind they use at Chinese restaurants and he was more than satisfied with that answer and ate it right up.

Plain Yogurt in place of sour cream. Actually, subbing it 100% for sour cream still doesn't cut it for me, so I've been mixing it about half and half with light sour cream and no one can tell the difference. It works wonderfully well this way in dips and on top of anything Mexican.

Almond Butter in place of peanut butter. I bought a big bag of almonds last week and I found a recipe for almond butter. It was delicious! It definitely wasn't as spreadable as peanut butter but the flavor was great and it was a nice change. It was yummy on bread with jelly and we dipped apples in it too. Here's a pic of my batch.

Right after I made it, I saw almond butter for sale at the health food store. A small container was $5.99. I definitely saved money by making it myself!

August 19, 2010

Eat This Not That

I just discovered this series of books and I'm so glad I did! These books compare and contrast various restaurant, store-bought and some home-cooked food and helps you make the healthiest choice possible. I chose the "For Kids" title since we have kids and getting them to eat healthier is my main challenge right now.

This book is really amazing, scary, exciting and enligtening all at the same time. I've just started reading, but I'll share a few of the things that have jumped out at me so far.

There is a large section on restaurant foods, kids meals, etc. and some of the calorie and fat amounts in this stuff is astounding. It actually makes me angry that there is someone out there deciding that this food is appropriate for kids or anyone for that matter.

Check out this kids meal from Denny's, the "Kid's D-Zone Big Dipper French Toastix." It is a pile of french toast sticks with 2 slices of bacon. It has 770 calories and 71 grams of fat!! Kids ages 4-8 should have within the range of 39-62 fat grams per day so this meal is SOOOO above and beyond what ANYONE should have at one sitting.

Another thing that I'm learning about is evil condiments, namely mayo and ranch. These two things can turn an okay meal into totally not okay meal. I like to think a chicken sandwich is a pretty healthy choice. Well, not if it has mayo on it. Unless it is light, the mayo and ranch that restaurants use is jam packed with grossness, adding fat grams into the double digits. More often than not, a hamburger is a better choice than the chicken sandwich.

A really big surprise to me was the Arby's recommendation. When I first saw these two pages, I thought they had it backwards! Turns out, the Arby's Melt, a roast beef sandwich smothered with cheese sauce and piled on a onion bun is a pretty good choice. That doesn't sound healthy to me at all! But it beat out the Roasted Turkey and Swiss Sandwich on wheat bread big time. 303 Calories vs 708 Calories and 12 grams of fat vs 30 grams! WAY less sodium too.

And I learned something really sad about a cookie. Last time I took the kids to Fazolis, I decided their chocolate chip cookies looked yummy, so we got one. Well, little did I know that Fazoli's Chocolate Chunk Cookie is probably the most caloric cookie in the history of cookies. It has more fat and calories than a Quarter Pounder with Cheese from McDonalds!!! That's ONE COOKIE! It was good, but not THAT good.

I'm so glad to be learning about where these evils are lurking and I'm going to do my best keep them away from me and my family.

I'll be back soon with more "fun" info...

August 16, 2010

Black Bean Brownies

Yes, you read that right, beans in your brownies! I ran across this recipe a while back (I don't even remember where) and finally I tried it out. Here's what you need:

1 can black beans & 1 box (any) brownie mix

That's it! Here's what you do: Drain and rinse the beans. Then put the beans back in the can and cover with water to the top of the can. Put the beans and water in the food processor and process it good until it looks all creamy chocolate-y like this:

Now combine it with the box of brownie mix and follow the directions on the box to bake. It sounds crazy, but they turned out pretty good! I won't claim that they were the most delicious brownies ever, but I liked them fine and so did the fam. In fact, they were gone in less than a day. To substitute protein & fiber for fat & cholesterol, I'll give up a little flavor for that! Still took care my chocolate craving no problem.

I sprinkled some walnuts on top before baking and voila!

Aren't beans amazing?!?

August 13, 2010

Snack Success :)

Feeling a little bad that I smack talked on Snack Girl a bit, so here's one of the VERY successful snacks I discovered on her website. She calls it an apple pie makeover. But I think it's more of a quick and easy apple crisp substitute, though it does bear a slight resemblance (in taste anyway) to McDonald's apple pie. Something about that graham cracker. So, check out the link to her recipe if you please, but here's how I do it.

Peel and cut up one apple. Place it in a bowl and squeeze a little lemon juice on it. Take one whole graham cracker (all four sections), crush it up and sprinkle on top along with a couple dashes of cinnamon. Depending on how sweet you want it and how sweet your apple is to begin with, you could stop there, but I choose to add a bit of sugar as well. Maybe half a teaspoon tops. Stir it all up and microwave it for 2 minutes. It's really really yummy! My son especially loves it. Great with a glass of milk or I'm sure it would be divine with some ice cream.

Give it a try!

August 11, 2010

Snack Fail :(

I had really high hopes for this! I love Snack Girl. Have you heard of her? She has an awesome website where she reviews store bought food, restaurant menu items and also gives some great tips and recipes for healthy snacking. So, I was excited to give THIS one a try. I've never eaten kale. Didn't know much about kale. In fact, whenever I hear the word "kale," I think of the boy I had a crush on in 4th grade. His name was Kail actually, and he was super cute...anyway, the FOOD kale is a cruciferous vegetable, related to cabbage. It is jam packed full of all kinds of nutrients and cancer-fighting stuff. Sounds excellent! And according to Snack Girl, my kids will LOVE this stuff in CHIP form. So, I found it at the store and it was not expensive, just $1.18 for a large bunch. I washed it, patted it dry and tore off some pretty bite-size pieces. Tossed them with olive oil and a splash of vinegar, a bit of salt and pepper and into the oven they went.

Here they are all green and perky:

And here they are shriveled up, dried up and not so pretty:

They smelled okay while they were cooking so I was anxious to give them a try. I took a bite and they tasted very...cruciferousy. Kinda sorta bitter with a strange aftertaste. Maybe we got a bad batch? Who knows. Anyway, my son was very excited to try them. He's an adventurous kid always willing to try new things. I gave no indication on how they tasted to me, and was thinking maybe he would like them. He took a little bite and promptly asked for a drink of water. It was a no go. My daughter thought they were fun to smash into a million pieces, but none of the pieces made it into her mouth. I think she just knew. I ate a few more and they were okay, tolerable, but not great. I suppose if you're a big fan of this family of vegetables than you'd like them just fine! I like cabbage in cole slaw and cooked as sauerkraut is okay, but I guess kale is just not for me. It was fun to try something new though!

and PS. if you do try these, be prepared for little "reminders" of them and their unique flavor throughout the rest of the day. if you know what I mean.

August 08, 2010

Happiness wrapped in bacon

These tasty treats are not the healthiest but they were so delicious that I couldn't not post about them. Hubby brought home a bag of jalapenos that were given to him by a coworker. The coworker suggested making jalapeno bacon wraps, which we'd never made or even eaten before but he decided to give it a try. Here's how:

First slit open each jalapeno and remove the seeds and as much of the membranes as possible. Then soak all of the peppers in cold water for 20-30 minutes. This removes some of the "heat." While they're soaking, combine softened cream cheese with some dry ranch mix and some garlic powder to taste. Stuff the cheese mixture into each of the peppers. Next, wrap each in a happy blanket of bacon and fasten with a toothpick. Chill them in the fridge for an hour or so till the cheese hardens a bit. Here they are getting ready to chill:

When they are chilled, it's onto the grill 'till the bacon looks done:

I ate way more of them then I should've and my tummy protested a bit but my
tastebuds did NOT! Just the right amount of spiciness with a cool creamy ranch
filling and hello, BACON. Can anything wrapped in bacon be bad? I doubt it.

A couple notes...I think we used about 2 packages of cream cheese for that pan full of peppers. Also, best to soak the toothpicks in water so they don't go up in flames.

Linked to: Tempt my Tummy Tuesday @ Blessed with Grace

August 06, 2010

World's Best Baked Potato!

I believe I've found it :) Last month, my mother-in-law asked if I could make baked potatoes for a family get-together. Of course! I said. But inside, I was saying, dang, I don't really know how to make baked potatoes other than in the microwave by pushing the "potato" button. And those never turned out that great. So, I searched online, I found this recipe at I read the reviews and tweaked it a bit based on some suggestions. Here's what I came up with:

My Perfect Baked Potatoes

5-6 medium size potatoes
3 T olive oil
approx 1/2 tsp garlic salt
approx 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

First, scrub the potatoes good then prick several times with a fork. Place them on a microwave safe plate and cook them on medium/high for 6-8 minutes. Microwaving them cuts down on the baking time which is especially great in summer! Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle place them in a large ziplock bag with the oil. Seal the bag and move them all around so they are all coated and shiny. Then, place them on a baking sheet and sprinkle them with salt and pepper, rotating to get all sides. I really wasn't sure on the measurements, just enough to lightly coat them. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until easily pierced with a sharp knife.

These potatoes come out awesome! They are so tasty, the skin is shiny and a bit crisp and really, they are delicious with NOTHING else on them. But of course some butter and sour cream makes them super extra delicious.

Plain baked potatoes are not the most beautiful things to behold, but I took a pic anyway.

August 03, 2010


I cooked up a Mexican feast tonight. Okay, it wasn't really a feast,
but it was a pretty fancy dinner by my standards.
I bought this book at a garage sale:

It's a great little cookbook with so many simple recipes.

It inspired these two dishes:

Then upon recommendation of my sister I tried the Carnitas recipe from That there was some yummy pig! We piled the rice and meat on our tortillas and topped them with shredded spinach (my sub for lettuce), cheese, my "homemade" tomato salsa and sour cream. We ate the corn and black bean salsa on the side with tortilla chips.

It was a very good dinner and everyone liked it lots.

AND there's plenty of leftovers for tomorrow. YAY!

August 02, 2010

Great website!

This site has some very helpful tools to make meal planning easier! I've been
wanting to meal plan for...forever but really didn't have the tools or the
organizational talents to make it happen. I'm hoping and praying this site will
change that! It allows you to browse their recipes (and there are some good ones!) then create a meal plan based on the recipes you choose and even print a shopping list. All for free. I haven't yet learned all the ins and outs and there are probably more features that I haven't discovered yet. So far it seems like an excellent tool to get started.

I have made a pledge to myself that starting this school year I will plan at least 3 dinner meals per week. The other nights we will either have leftovers or just fix and eat what we've got (can anyone say "sandwich night?") I've already created my "cookbook" on this site and am just about ready to get started!

And for dinner tonight I'm planning on making THIS. Seems like the perfect light dinner for a blazing hot summer day.

July 31, 2010

Pancakes and Waffles = YUM!

Yay for breakfast! My favorite meal of the day. In the past for pancakes and waffles I would use a store bought mix. It's easy and quick and they usually turn out pretty good. But after finding this recipe, I now make my own mix, it turns out great and is cheaper AND healthier. The kids like it too. It doesn't have that obvious "healthy" taste to it that you might expect. It's a large batch of dry mix that you can keep on hand and then make small batches of pancakes and waffles as you please. Who has time to get all those ingredients, measuring cups, spoons, etc. out in the morning anyway?!?

This recipe is from the Disney's Family Fun Cookbook. I've made a couple changes to it. It called for seven whole grain cereal, which I didn't have so I subbed oats and it turned out fine. I just really like oats anyway. I also upped the sugar slightly in hopes of reducing the amount of syrup needed. Here's my slightly edited version:

Perfect Pancake Mix
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking soda
4.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp salt
2 TBS sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup corn meal
1 cup oats
4 TBS wheat germ, opt

Sift the first 5 ingredients, then combine with the rest. Store in an air-tight container. If you use wheat germ, it's best to keep the mix in the fridge.

For PANCAKES, combine
3/4 cup dry mix
3/4 cup milk or yogurt
1 egg

For WAFFLES, combine
1 cup dry mix
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 TBS oil

I have also added vanilla, cinnamon and a mashed banana to the batter with good results (though not all at the same time and the banana waffles were a bit heavier and kinda...mushy-like, but still yummy).

We usually top ours with bananas or berries or both! And some syrup of course. Which reminds me, I really want to get some pure maple syrup, I keep reading about all of its benefits. Whenever I see the price at the store however, I turn cheap and get the artificial stuff :( One of these days I'll splurge.

I made these here waffles the other night for my after dinner snack (yes, you read that right). I was so anxious to tear into them, I forgot I was going to snap a pic. So, here's my half eaten mushy banana waffles topped with blueberries and artificially flavored maple syrup product stuff. Don't they look scrumptious?

July 29, 2010

Snack Psychology

I have a growing 8 year old boy who seems to be hungry all the time. It's hard to find good healthy snacks that he will eat without too much whining. Recently, I've learned a few things though about the snacking mind of a kid. If he says, "I'm hungry" and I ask, "what for?" It is a long, drawn out process of naming foods that he mostly turns his nose up to. So, I've stopped asking. I simply find something that I think is appropriate for the time of day and his hunger level and I put it on a plate all pretty like and 9 times out of 10 he eats it and is satisfied. I need to remember to STOP giving too many choices! Like the other day...I know he loves pears. But when I answer his hunger with, "do you want a pear?" Well, that doesn't sound too exciting. Especially when he knows there's Pringles and candy in the house (I know, for shame!) So, I simply get the pear, slice it up nice like this:

and it becomes a lovely treat. I give it to him, he eats it up, he's happy, I'm
happy and it's another snacking success story down the hatch.

Another sneaky snack trick I use is the switcheroo. I get MYSELF something tasty and healthy to eat and sit myself down with it. Inevitably, he comes along and sees what I have and begs to share it with me. I just end up saying, "okay, you can have it."

Shake it up

Here's a very yummy shake that I like to make when the bananas start to get questionable. I love love love coffee flavored things even though I hate drinking straight coffee. So, here's my sort of recipe for a coffee banana smoothie, I really just eyeball it and don't measure it out so this is estimation on the measurements:

1 ripe banana
couple handfuls of ice cubes (6-8 maybe)
2ish cups of milk
1 T flavored coffee mix (General Foods Int'l brand is what I use)

Blend it up and enjoy. Makes about 2 big servings.

I have been known to add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a bit of sugar to the mix. If the bananas aren't super ripe, it's not as sweet.

Here it is in a fancy glass next to tomorrow's victim.

July 27, 2010

Snack ideas

I got a good list snack ideas from the What to Expect website. It was titled "Healthy Snacks for Kids: 23 Toddler-friendly Ideas," but I think these would be good for all ages, not just toddlers. Mostly very simple things, but sometimes I struggle coming up with simple.

Here's a few of my favorites:

•Ants on a log — spread peanut butter on celery sticks and sprinkle with raisins
•Whole-grain tortilla chips topped with veggies, salsa, and shredded cheese, alongside guacamole for dipping
•Apple slices with string cheese or peanut butter
•Berries topped with low-fat frozen yogurt
•Crinkle-cut carrot “chips” with hummus
•Whole-wheat pita-bread triangles or baked wheat crackers with melted reduced-fat cheese for dipping
•Dip a banana in yogurt, roll in crushed cereal and freeze for a tasty frozen snack
•Graham crackers with applesauce for dipping
•Yogurt smoothie made with low-fat yogurt, milk, ice and any fruit
•A graham cracker sandwich filled with a scoop of frozen yogurt and sliced bananas
•A small baked potato with melted reduced-fat cheese and salsa
•Graham cracker with low-fat cream cheese
•Whole-grain pretzels, with a slice of cheese
•Cucumbers, celery, or red peppers with low-fat dressing for dipping
•Mix one cup of whole-grain oat cereal with 1/4 cup chopped walnuts and 1/4 cup dried cranberries for a healthy trail mix

July 26, 2010

The weekends...

seem to be a big weakness as far as eating healthy goes. Saturday with it's laziness usually means out to lunch and this week we found ourselves at the Chinese buffet. Ridiculously yummy but ridiculously salty, fatty, etc. etc. Right after we vowed to eat a healthier dinner, hubby remembers that he forgot to tell me that his family is coming over later and bringing all the goods for a hot dog cookout. Thanks for the notice dear. dogs, Cheetos, Doritos then cookies and cake for dessert. I was able to add some raw carrots and cukes to the spread along with baked BEANS and some canned chili to top the dogs. I don't know if any of that helped much. It was a big dinner that resulted in lots of full tired bellies. Today...well, today could've been worse. We are not ones to have a huge Sunday dinner, so it was a snacky, sandwichy, leftover kind of day.

So, now it's time for a new week, new meals, new possibilities. Our local market has super double dollar coupons till Wednesday, I may try to plan my meals around my coupon finds this week. We'll see how that goes.

July 23, 2010

Poor man's salsa

We love Mexican and we love dipping. One time when I realized we were out of
salsa I decided to make my own with ingredients I had on hand. Just look at the ingredient list on a jar of Pace and you'll see it's not rocket science. Here's how I do it. I take a 28oz jar of crushed tomatoes and add part of a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies. Those can be pretty spicy, so I usually only add about 1/4 of the can or maybe even less. Then I add some chopped onions and cilantro, about 1 tablespoon of chili powder, 1/2 tsp cumin and a couple dashes of garlic powder. Really, it's all to taste. It's nothing fancy, but it is a cheap substitute. One very large batch costs less than 1.50 to make.

Shhhhh...don't tell the Pace people, I think I got it figured out.

July 22, 2010

Tonight's Dinner!

Okay, day one of my blog and I'm going to brag on the good dinner I made! (we won't talk about the fact that we ate lunch at Taco Bell). So, this jar of bean soup mix has been sitting in my cupboard since it was received as a Christmas gift last year (thank you big sis and neice). Hubby isn't a fan of beans so I haven't been in a big hurry to make it. Well, tough beans for him, in honor of my new blog's name, I made it tonight and it was delish. He ate the sausage by itself, he'll have to apologize to his own body for it's lack of fiber today.

And, as a side dish I tried something I've never made before. FRESH green beans. I found a super simple recipe and it was SO yummy. Big J gobbled them up out of the pan like they were candy. He even said, "I better stop eating these so there's some left for you!" Yes, that is a quote from an 8 year old boy. Little J wasn't quite as enthused, but she did like the sausage. So far, she's more of a carnivore like her daddy.

I'm including the pics here. Of course, they were more tasty looking in person but I'm going to try to document all my food for you even though it may not look pretty. Try not to drool on the screen.

It was a very beany night at our house!

The green bean recipe....3/4 lb green beans washed and boiled for 8-10 min. Drain and place them in a pan with 2 T olive oil, 1 T vinegar, some onion slices and 1-2 minced garlic cloves. Toss with salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees for 10ish minutes.

July 21, 2010

Welcome to my blog!

Hello! I am a busy mom of two and wife of one. I've been struggling for a long time trying to make a commitment to cook healthier meals and snacks for my family. I've had the best of intentions but somehow my plans fizzle out when faced with the reality of being creative, finding the time and energy to try new things and attempting to cook with a clingy toddler. It's so much easier to pick up the pizza, make the mac and cheese or simply high tail it to McDonalds. Those things are still bound to happen but we need them to happen less. So, I'm here to share my struggle and keep myself accountable as I try to find that balance. I'm going to use this blog to share some of my healthier meals, snacks, recipes, info and ideas that I discover along the way (okay, and maybe some of the not-so-healthy ones too) and hopefully you'll share some with me.

Let's be happy and healthy together!