Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Apple donuts

It always amazes me when something so simple, like cutting food into shapes, can get my kids to eat food without fussing. Not that my kids don’t like apples, but ever since my husband came up with “apple donuts,” the fruit has been requested daily. It’s really easy and I’m wondering if I can apply it to other fruits and vegetables as well. I think it would work on pears and watermelon and, if you baked them, perhaps sweet potatoes. All you do is run your apple through a mandoline (or thinly slice one up by hand) so you have a stack of slices. I improved on the recipe a tad by using a miniature cookie cutter in the shape of an apple, but my husband used a bottle cap to make his holes. Voila! Apple donuts. I think the key here is to actually call them “apple donuts.” My kids have never actually had a donut, but they know donuts are a treat so the whole idea was a novelty. The kids can even help punch out the donut holes.

A miniature cookie cutter gets out all the seeds while making fun shapes. The pieces that don’t have seeds are fun to eat too!a miniature cookie cutter can make fun shapes

The finished product! A stack of delicious apple donuts. If you’re really adventageous (or if your kids are really picky!), peel the apples prior to slicing.
the finished product

Cover yourself up!

I’m a messy cook. I can’t really blame this one on my new front-heavy figure; pregnant or not, I can’t stir, scoop or serve without spilling something. It’s a running joke in my family that if I haven’t spilled something during the cooking, I might as well go shirtless for the eating because I’m bound to wind up with a lap full of pasta sauce. Tired of changing my shirt three times a day, I finally pulled out one of my old aprons. I have several from my Rainbow Girl days- I would cover a plain white dress with a fancy or fun apron to change the look from event to event. My two favorites are an old fashion style apron with a strawberry print and a frilly green one with cute cartoon frogs in stocking caps. I forgot how cute they are, but most importantly how well they do their job. My yellow shirt has nary a stain or splotch of the Italian crock pot chicken I’m making for dinner. So come on, Perfect Housewives! Let’s bring back aprons! They’re easy to make, but if sewing isn’t your thing, try Amazon.com. I like this one.

Easy soda cakes

Have you ever had a major sweet tooth, gone to your cupboards to see what you have and realized that you had a delicious box of Betty Crocker goodness just waiting to be made? You pull it out with an “oooooh yeah!” and your belly starts rumbling, only to then realize you’re out of eggs? No worries. All you need is 12 oz of your favorite soda and you’re good to go.

What you’ll need:

1 box of cake mix, any flavor
1 can of soda, 12 oz, match flavor to cake mix*
1 tub of frosting

Pour cake mix and soda into a bowl and stir until well mixed. DO NOT ADD ANYTHING ELSE! No milk, butter, eggs, nothing! Follow direction on box for baking times and temperatures. Bake and cool completely. Frost and enjoy!

*suggested combinations:

Chocolate cake and Coke
White cake and 7Up
Spice cake and Dr. Pepper
Chocolate cake and Cherry Coke
Carrot cake and Dr. Pepper
White cake and Sunkist (this will turn the batter orange)
German chocolate cake and 7Up

Spice it up

Every once in a while I start feeling guilty for feeding the kids the same old breakfast over and over. They don’t seem to mind- in fact, they request it- but sometimes you just have to shake things up a bit and do something special. I usually end up making pancakes or belgian waffles, since pulling out the griddle or the waffle maker is enough hassle to legitimately call breakfast “special” and they’re both something the kids will actually eat without complaining. No plain old pancake mix for us, though. I’ve found a few “secret ingredients” that make these goodies just a tad better.

First I pour out the recommended amount of pancake mix, plus some. If they say 2 cups, I’ll add 3 since I like to make my pancakes on the larger side. Then I put in one of those individual serving size cups of applesauce (or two!). If you buy the big jugs of applesauce, pour in a half cup to a cup. Add a healthy sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice or mix up your own spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ground clove. Now here’s the kicker. Don’t add water, add apple juice. This gives it an extra apply flavor. It won’t be overpowering, I promise. You wont need as much liquid as you normally would because of the applesauce, so I usually don’t measure at this point, I just eyeball it until it’s the right consistancy. If you’re feeling a little nutty, a half cup of chopped pecans can be added. Cook and enjoy!

Click Click! Here’s a coupon for Betty Crocker Bisquick Pancake Mix

Split Pea Soup, Grandmas and the Gulf War

When I was about 7 years old my great grandma took me on a road trip to visit my cousins in Arizona. Right before we left Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait and president George H.W. Bush sent American troops into battle. My mom panicked and was hesitant about sending her only daughter away in a time of uncertainty. Being 7 and not knowing too much of geography, I assumed that “the Gulf” was the Gulf of Mexico and that my mom had plenty reason to worry, as Arizona was closer to the Gulf than California. Knowing that the trip would be fun and (knowing my grandma, a teacher and firm believer in “life as learning”) educational, she let me go and away we went on the long drive to see family and learn about native culture.

We had a great time in Arizona (despite a minor fall into a cactus patch) and we were soon on our way home again. If you drove straight through you could do the trip in one day, but my grandma, a stubborn woman who knew what she wanted and usually got it, wanted to stop at the famous Pea Soup Andersen’s in Buellton just north of Santa Barbara. She told me before we got there that we would have to find a hotel because if we stopped to eat we would be on the road too late. To me, a mommy’s girl who just wanted to be home safe after a week away next to a “war zone,” this was not acceptable. Not to mention pea soup sounded disgusting. So as we drove by what my grandma thought was the exit she asked “do you see it? Do you see any signs?” I looked, and lo and behold there it was- Pea Soup Andersen’s. “Nope,” I said. “Must be the next exit.”

Needless to say, we didn’t stop that night and drove straight home, where I hugged my mom and told her of my desert adventure. I didn’t really think too much about that little white lie until after my grandma died when I was 14. I felt guilty that I hadn’t just let her have her dang soup.

Now I sit here, typing this story about my grandma and I can smell the split pea soup I have cooking in the crock pot wafting into the room and I feel that pang of guilt once again. As it turns out, split pea soup is pretty damn good. So here’s my easy recipe for split pea crock pot soup, in memory of my grandma, Lucille. She was a great woman. I’m sorry I lied, grandma.

Split Pea Soup

2 bags of dried split peas
2 cups (or more!) of ham, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1+ cup of carrots, chopped
1 box of chicken broth
1-2 cups of water
1-2 tablespoons of parsley flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Throw it in a crock pot, making sure the ingredients are covered with liquid (you can always add more later if it’s looking a little dry). Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

The kids are making dinner tonight!

Here’s a fun and easy recipe that even the younger kids can help with. The Perfect Children (ages 2 and 3) helped me make these tasty treats for a special lunch the other day and we had a blast!

What you’ll need:
1 can of biscuits
1 can of tomato paste or sauce (or you can use slices of tomato)
shredded cheese
mini pepperoni

any veggies you think your kids will actually eat

layer the ingredients on any way you like and then pop them in the oven for the amount of time specified on the biscuit container. These kid-sized pizzas are super yummy and good for mommies who want to keep track of portion sizes.

My 3 year old took this lovely picture before I put them in the oven:
mini pizzas