Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Healthy(ish) Cooking

Carrot Muffins
It is that time of the year! We are making/buying fudge, cookies, candy, and all the goodness of the holiday season. Normally I have no problem with nibbling chocolate chip cookies and drinking hot cocoa topped with heavenly whipped cream while watching Miracle on 34th Street but every now and again I need a break.  In order to keep up the energy for late night caroling and even later night present wrapping I make these:
Carrot Muffins!
Okay, so they are still a muffin which isn't exactly a spinach soy smoothie but with lots of modifications over time from a recipe I got 14 years ago they are a spiced filled yummy snack that won't send you into a sugar induced coma!
1 cup flour
1 cup wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 scant teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup coconut
2 cups shredded carrot (or carrot pulp from your juicer!)
Optional -  1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 cup pineapple bits, or 1/2 cup nuts
Mix together flours, baking soda, baking soda, and spices. Make a well in the middle (my kids like that part)
Mix sugars, eggs, oil, applesauce, and vanilla. Add to the well and mix. Fold in coconut and carrot with a spatula.
Line 12 muffin tins and add 1/2 cup to each (we like big muffin tops)
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.  These muffins are going to be denser then a cupcake (not awful, I can't eat these dense but you do get the feeling that you ate something)
This morning we juiced the about 6-8 carrots and saved the pulp for our recipe, then juiced 5 mushy apples that were not quite bad but no one was going to eat. We made the muffins, put pecans on top half so they would be toasty, drank our juice and felt like we were ready to conquer to day!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Lunch Ideas

Yesterday I posted my most tried and true breakfast ideas. Today let's talk about lunch.

I homeschool my three youngest kids. Lunch is really easy, most days it's leftovers pulled out of the fridge. But in case you need ideas (because seriously, who doesn't...I mean there are days leftovers just won't appease the 6-9 year old crowd) here is a list of ideas.

Sandwiches - duh. I have one child who would eat PBJ every day, every meal. I have another who won't touch PB with a ten foot pole. Seriously. Sandwiches are versatile like that, no one has to have the same thing as someone else. Our family favorites are roast beef with horseradish, PBJ and turkey, cheddar and ranch with veggies. I actually prefer a pita stuffed with sprouts, avocado, cream cheese and season salt...and maybe some turkey.

Macaroni and Cheese - blasphemy, I know. However, it is one of my kids favorite. I usually try to make it from scratch with cheddar cheese and noodles, but I'm not ashamed to admit I have boxed stuff in my pantry. I'm busy, people!

Ravioli's - not only Chef Boyardee...though the kids do like that stuff (natch), I like the refrigerator kind with my homemade marinara on it.

Quesadillas - Flour or corn tortillas, melted cheese and maybe some left over chicken or beef cut up inside. Preferably served with a side of homemade tomato soup...mmm, mmm, good.

Noodle stir-fry - Cook up some noodles, add some left over veggies from the fridge, a splash of something saucy...even my pickier ones will eat this.

Homemade Hot pockets - I make biscuits, fill them with cheese, meat and veggies and bake. These actually work really well for sack lunches for the oldest too. Very versatile and delicious.

Stromboli - (portable pizza) This one is usually what I make on Saturdays for our busy household. Roll out your pizza dough into a big rectangle, cover with your favorite toppings minus the sauce and then roll up (think cinnamon rolls) bake until dough is cooked, slice and serve with or without marinara sauce. When my kids are running around to different activities this is the ideal lunch!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Breakfast Ideas

Recently I've had a handful of friends (and acquaintances) balk at our families morning routine and the fact that I make a hot breakfast 5-6 days a week. I certainly didn't have the same opportunity growing up with a working mom and really early mornings, which may explain my love for cold cereal, but Shane and I decided it was something we definitely wanted to do with our family.

Don't get me wrong, there are definitely mornings (especially Sundays with 9:00 a.m. church) where we pull out the cold cereal, and there are mornings when (gasp) I stop at the donut store on my way home from picking Lincoln up at seminary (waaaaaay too early). But most mornings we really enjoy sitting around starting our day together at the table over something hot.

Our mornings start early, and our days end late. The early mornings certainly make it easier to make something hot before the kids head to school, but some of these ideas would be easily made beforehand and just heated up in the morning. These ideas are just the base of breakfast, I usually have either bacon or sausage, or eggs (scrambled, fried or poached) and a fruit or juice to go along with it...not usually all though, we'd weigh 500 pounds and that'd be overkill.

Pancakes/waffles - I make homemade buttermilk pancakes that are amazing (it's not me, it's the recipe) but we make variations like cornmeal, wheat, blueberry, and chocolate chip pancakes/waffles to shake things up a bit.

Crepes - typically this is NOT accomplished on a school morning, it's way too time consuming for me before eating at 7, but it's the kids favorite, so we work them in on the weekends a lot!

German pancakes (also known as dutch babies or puff pancakes) - These are a close second for the most requested breakfast at our house. I've taken to making them in muffin tins instead of the typical 9x13 baking dish because they are sooo much easier to serve that way.

French toast - Again, I shake things up every so often with different kinds of breads, or adding different spices/extracts in with the eggs. My favorite? Sliced homemade French bread with vanilla and orange juice in with the delicious!

Cinnamon rolls - let me clarify...this is basically a cheat day for me. I totally buy the refrigerated cinnamon rolls 95% of the time, because seriously, "ain't nobody got time for that"...except when I really want to enjoy them and then we make them from scratch...on a weekend...for brunch.

Biscuits and gravy - Hello, I live in the South. People here live for their biscuits and white sausage gravy. I'm just learning to love the stuff. It helps when I use my Texas shaped biscuit cutter...

Monkey bread - you know that lovely cinnamon-sugar-y goodness? Delightful with some scrambled eggs and juice...

Gorilla bread - Monkey breads cousin...on steroids. And oh, my gosh, It's delicious. Basically it's monkey bread but instead of just quartering the refrigerator rolls you don't cut them, but roll up cream cheese inside... it's worth the calories and time.

Omelets - I love these...the kids (namely one of them) can't stand eggs so we rarely do these, but they are very versatile and easy, and healthier than Gorilla bread.

Hashbrown Frittata - Hashbrowns, veggies, eggs and cheese baked in my cast iron pan...really good with salsa...

Quiche - (see omelets) I love quiche, I have some kids that HATE it. It's a rarity when I'm sick of little attitudes...or it's my birthday.

Breakfast burritos - Lincoln's favorite. Cook up some hashbrowns, add some scrambled eggs, some sausage or bacon, warm tortillas and shredded cheese. And salsa.

Baked Oatmeal - I swear by Our Best Bites. They are amazing and this recipe does not disappoint. I've posted it on this blog before and it's worthy of revisiting. Nothing is better on a cold morning. Plus it has grain, eggs, fruit and dairy...what?

Other hot cereals - yes, I'm lumping them all together. Oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, Grits, Germade, and hot Quinoa...all good for cold mornings. All equally hated by one of my kids...

Muffins - I have a great recipe for bran muffins that keeps in the fridge for months. I can bake enough for breakfast and throw it back into the fridge for another day. I usually serve muffins with fruit and yogurt.

Bagel sandwiches (or Muffin Sandwiches - but I have a child who will not eat English Muffins...) - Warm up bagels in oven, layer with cheese, fried egg, and bacon/sausage/turkey/etc. Very easy and filling.

Sausage in a blanket - Roll link of sausage in crescent rolls. Bake. Dip in honey mustard/maple syrup's delightful.

Those are my go to breakfast ideas. I decide before I go to bed what I'm going to make so I don't have to stand around my pantry for 15 minutes deciding in the morning when I'm dead tired.

Oh, and my favorite on-the-go breakfast when I'm on the run? Plain yogurt and homemade granola, It's the best!