Sunday, October 30, 2011

For Justin.

My brother is a bachelor and is busy getting his master's right now. He said he is eating super healthy right now and lifting a lot (watch out ladies!!). He said it's hard because he's just cooking for himself and if he wants to have fresh produce that doesn't go bad, he's going to the store a bunch each week. I told him I'd send him some ideas and recipes and this is what I have off the top of my head. I got an email from Lisa this week too about how she doesn't like cooking - she's basically only cooking for two (has one picky kiddo), and wants to be healthy-so Lisa, this is for you too.

Freeze everything you can! I've been really into freezing. I like to make double and freeze a bunch for Carleton's meals or other family meals. I told Suzana, why didn't I think of this before??

1. Harvest Soup. A very VERY yummy soup perfect for the season (from Has lots of veggies-make a bunch and freeze a bunch. Would be great to warm up on a chilly day with some wheat rolls...or just alone.


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (didn't use this myself)
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives


  1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in leeks and onions, and cook until the onion softens and turns translucent, about 5 minutes. Add potato, squash, carrots, apple, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.
  2. Carefully puree the soup in batches in a blender, or use a stick blender to puree the soup right in the pot. Once the soup has been pureed, return it to the pot and stir in wine and cream. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper; simmer gently for 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped chives.

2. Pumpkin Peanut Butter Oatmeal. My kids asked for this for a couple days so I made it again this week. Annie and Apollo can eat tons of this (from Deceptively Delicious cookbook). I quadruple this recipe. It's great frozen or in the fridge for later. When I put it in the microwave later, I put in a little milk and pure maple syrup. Yum. Another fun one during this season.

1 cup Nonfat (skim) milk
1/4 cup Light or dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup Pumpkin or sweet potato puree
1 tsp Pure vanilla extract (optional)
1/4 tsp Cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
1 cup Old-fashioned oats
2 tsp Natural peanut butter
Pure maple syrup
1. In a small saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla, if using, and spice. Bring to a gentle boil and stir in the oatmeal. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, until the oatmeal is soft and creamy. Stir in the peanut butter, if using.

2. Spoon the oatmeal into bowls, sprinkle with dried fruit and nuts, if you like, and serve warm with maple syrup

3. Chicken Salad Sandwich. Just use the chicken packed in a can (looks like tuna) and add as much Greek yogurt as you want to taste. The Greek yogurt has 23 grams of protein and the kind we get at Costco has no fat in it. You can add chopped nuts, grapes, or a little lemon juice if you like.

Add some jam to your left over Greek yogurt , and yum. It makes a delish, thick yogurt. Shannon eats it a lot for breakfast with fresh fruit.

4. Egg Salad Sandwich. Boil eggs, and add enough Greek yogurt to taste (or fat free mayo). Super fast and yummy.

5. Canned, healthy soups. Eat some of the can and save the left over in the fridge for the next day. We like chili out of can for lunch sometimes.

6. Watermelon. Cut and eat it fresh. Blend some of the left over the next day in a shake (just mix up the watermelon and add ice-so good). If it's a ripe, good watermelon, you don't need to add anything to it. Finally, put all leftover chunks and blend in the blender (seedless watermelon) and put it in a Tupperware in the freezer. When you want to eat the frozen watermelon puree (icee), just take it out of the freezer and thaw until it's the consistency you like. So, so good. Go here to see the cute blog that this came from.

7. My friend January made a whole cookbook of super super easy and delicious recipes for new moms to get them through the first few months. I'll email it to you, Justin. If anyone else wants this book via email, just post a comment and I'll send it to you too.

8. Whole Wheat Waffles. We put cheese, sausage, and eggs between ours today for the first time. They are so good and good for you waffles. Make a million and then freeze a bunch in freezer bags. When you want a waffle, just pop it in the toaster straight from the oven and add pure maple syrup. We like them with a little peanut butter too. You can do the same for pancakes.

2 Eggs
1 3/4 cups Skim milk
1/4 cup Canola oil
1/4 cup Unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 cup Whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup Flax seed meal
1/4 cup Wheat germ
*1/4 cup All-purpose flour
4 tsp Baking powder
1 tbsp Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
*We just add extra wheat flour to replace the white flour.

9. Bran Muffins. You can make and freeze any muffins, then pop (straight from the freezer) into the microwave for breakfast or a snack. I've put it on this site before or you can find healthy ones off Just replace oil with applesauce and white with whole wheat flour.

10. Spaghetti. Use whole wheat pasta, and you have a quick, healthy meal. Double the batch and freeze a bunch for later.

11. Frozen Veggies in Bags. Easy, still healthy but you don't have to make a bunch of trips for fresh veggies and you get out just as much as you'll eat at a sitting.

12. Frozen Fruit. I like the Costco berries in the big bag. They are great for shakes and you don't have to worry about the fruit getting old. When I do see normal fruit getting bad, I just add them to smoothies we're making.

13. Homemade smoothies and slushies. Have you heard of Buddy Fruits? They're like a buck for a couple of swallows but the kids love it. I make my own now. I just put applesauce with other fruits-like bananas and strawberries.. Throw them in the blender (if you have a Vitamix, put it on high for a great smooth texture). We did straight pears the other day (with seeds) and had that instead of applesauce. Throw all these in a Tupperware in the freezer, and when you take them out, let them thaw for a few minutes and have a no-sugar-added slushy.

We do a lot of smoothies around here. Just last night, Carleton made a fresh peach one. Smoothies are great for fruit that's about to go bad. If you don't drink all of your smoothie, again freeze the leftovers. You can even put it in an ice tray and add it to your next smoothie.

14. Chips and salsa. Costco has a mango salsa without much sugar. We eat it with corn chips or you could even do whole wheat crackers.

15. Canned Fruit. This is a good bachelor snack. Canned fruit (in their own juice) and cottage cheese. You can keep a lot of the left over canned fruit to top on salads.

We ate this with tomato soup (straws for the kids). This last idea isn't the healthiest, but it's so good. We replaced the white flour with wheat flour. They were a big hit with all the kids too. I made two batches and froze one. I just wrapped it with aluminum foil, then plastic wrap and threw it in the freezer.


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (we used whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
  2. Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

In the next couple of weeks, I'm getting together with some friends to put together a month's worth of crock-pot meals. You cut, cook a little, and organize into freezer bags. I'll post the recipes if they turn out good.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Partying Made Easy

I love throwing parties in general and have fun throwing birthday parties for my kids but a lot of times end up overdoing it and feel overwhelmed.  Thought I would pass on some things I did differently that made it easier this time:
1.  Freeze.  I made my triple layered cake, cookies, cupcakes, and homemade frosting all days before the party.  One night, I did all the cakes and had fun making cookies another day with the kids.  I wrapped up the cakes with aluminum foil to keep their shape, then wrapped them individually in plastic.  I put the frosting in a tuperwear and the cupcakes and cookies in freezer ziplocks.  
2.  Unfreeze.  I frosted the cake the day before the party and made fresh frosting for it that day too.  The cake was easier to frost because it was cold.  I put it right on the cake platter and kept it in the refrigerator over night to keep its shape.  I took the frosting, cookies, and cupcakes out of the freezer the morning of the party.
3.  Dollar Store.  I found powdered sugar, decorations, table covers, candy, punch bowls (that were plastic but looked like crystal), and candy trays.  After spending a ton on candy at Albertson's, I got smart and bought some extra candy at the dollar store. 
4.  Clean up.  I put all our left over candy in a freezer bag (and put in the freezer) to save for our Christmas gingerbread houses.  Everything can be frozen and frosted another day or given to neighbors.

Halloween party activities:
1.  Danced to Halloween music.  I made wands last year by spray painting dowel sticks and putting ribbon streamers on them-so the kids waved them as they danced.  We acted like monsters and witches.
2.  Read Halloween books.  Got some from the library to add to we had.
3.  Decorated cupcakes and cookies.  Bath and Body works has some great Halloween "hanitizers" that we had on the tables.


4.  Painted Faces.

 5.  Ate monster cake.  I got the idea from THIS blog.  I did mine a little different-I made my hair a little messier-more matted looking and used large marshmallows for the eyes (much easier!). 

We displayed some of the kids' projects on a string of yarn as part of our Halloween decorations.  We'll leave it up and do the same for Christmas.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Letter C.

This week I needed to prep Apollo's party, so making Cookies killed two birds with one stone.
Incredible sugar cookies (you can roll these out too, cut, and cook for about the same amount of time):
1 C (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 C granulated sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray pan cavities with vegetable pan spray.

In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer at medium speed until well blended. Beat in egg and extract; mix well. Combine flour and salt; add to butter mixture. Beat until well blended.

Press dough into cavities, filling 2/3 full. Bake 9-10 min. or until light brown around the edges. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Turn pan over; lightly tap pan to remove cookies. Cool completely on cooling grid.

Makes about 1 dozen cookies

Love this pan!! Thank you Joanie! So easy for kids to mush the dough in, cook, and out come the cutest shapes.


Cotton Balls.

Hungry Caterpillar. January made flannel board pictures to go with the book. Annie counted all the fruit.

I got a lot of my ideas again from here. They are easy to print. While Annie's working on something, I cut other things out for the next activity.

Upper and lower case word matching.

Match the colors and the word. She liked these puzzles.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Halloween fun for kids.

Why I love dollar stores for Halloween. I stock up on costumes and put them in the kids' dress-up bin to use all year, they have fun Halloween crafts for kids, accessories for our costumes, and Halloween decorations. I let the kids decorate their rooms this year with a few decorations and they loved it.

Halloween fun. Where do I get my ideas? The dollar bin at Michaels. Dollar Stores. Pinterest. The Family Fun Magazine.

Bloody waffles. Red food coloring in syrup.

Acrylic paint. I like it because it doesn't smear. I'm really not sure if it's the best for kids' faces but I grew up with my mom painting ours and never had a reaction. Suzana said each bottle is on sale right now at Michael's for only 50 cents.

Pumpkin faces. We got glass jars and made faces out of masking tape. The kids painted over the whole thing with orange acrylic paint. After it dried, we peeled off the tape.  You can put a candle in and the light will make them glow.

Glass stained ornaments. I bought these at Michael's and they have Christmas ones out right now for a buck each. They turn into beautiful stained glass. Just put them in the oven. Great for little kids or older ones. The older ones can use tweezers and really make them amazing.

Halloween scratchers. They're like 10 for 50 cents at Michael's right now. The kids use a little tool to scratch little faces into the Halloween ornaments. They come with colorful ribbons to hang them up. My preschoolers loved this project.

Melty Beads.  Apollo made this witch (turn your head sideways to see:) from a pattern.  Now we just need to put the wax paper on and iron.  We'll hang it up with other Halloween ornaments.  Another dollar treasure and great for Apollo to work on during quiet time.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Letter B. Letter b stands for...


Beanbags. The kids each made their own.

Blood. We made fake blood of syrup and red food coloring for a Halloween decoration.

and Books. We got Halloween books from the library this week.

Click HERE to download free puzzles, number games, big B and little b matching games, and letter practices (and much more!). Annie loves playing school...I do to! These are all free so just click on the download buttons.