So, inspired by their scientific curiosity, I decided that we would tackle some common myths relating to homes, organization, personal care, kids, cooking, etc. Over the next weeks we will examine myths and either confirm or bust them, and give some of the science behind why it is so.
Much of the US is covered in snow, and here in the southeast we are actually expecting some of it today too. Our kids are so excited. The town has shut down for 2 days even though it is 1:45pm and we haven’t had a flake of snow at our house. In hopes that the forecasters are correct, here is a fun snow activity – making Snow Cream.
To “catch” good snow, set a large clean bowl outside where animals cannot get into it. Then use your snow and this recipe from Disney to make your own snow cream!
This week I got a Facebook invite from a friend asking for some of us ladies to make meals for a mom at church who had been in the hospital and was still sick at home recovering. Normally I am prepared for just such an occasion. Usually in my freezer there are 4-5 meals frozen, ready for when someone get sick, has a baby, or has to deal with a death or other difficult situation. Things like soup, chili, lasagna, etc. all freeze wonderfully and it is so convenient to be able to just pull a meal out of the freezer when it is needed. Generally, when making soup, chili, or a pasta dish, I make double and freeze half for just such a need. But when I went to the freezer today to pull out a meal for our friends from church, all I found was ½ a bag of cheddar broccoli soup.
So as I plan to stock my freezer up on meals, I thought I would share some of my favorite “take a meal to” recipes. TIP- Always ask about allergies or diet restrictions. It doesn’t help anyone to bring food a family member cannot eat. This is always important to me because I have severe (and strange!) food allergies.
Loaded Potato Soup -You can follow the recipe in the link, or just do what I do. Peel 5-10 pounds of potatoes and cut them into ½ inch chunks. Put the potatoes in the slow cooker. Grate 5-6 carrots & mix with the potatoes. Cover the potatoes with chicken or beef stock. Cook on high for 2-3 hours. Before freezing (or eating) add 1-2 cups of grated cheddar cheese and 6-10 (or more!) slices of full-cooked bacon. If you are giving this warm, you can top with sour cream & chives, if you prefer (we don’t!).
Broccoli Cheese Soup – Like Panera only cheaper & healthier! I always make this in the slow cooker. This also goes well with a baguette.
Lasagna – There are a million ways to make this one too. Two of our favors are to leave the meat out or add in zucchini “noodles”. Add a baguette or salad to finish the meal.
Chili – Again, I use the slow cooker and just make a ton. Because of allergies my chili is on the mild side, but spice it up any way you like. Include shredded cheese and some crackers to finish off the meal.
TIP – Freeze these things in zipper bags flat in the freezer. They will take up less space when stored.
TIP – Write on the zipper bags (before filling!) what the dish is, if it includes vegetables, and any cooking or re-heating instructions. I always put a heart and our family name because that makes it seem more personal to me. Someone did that on food that we received after our last kiddo was born and I thought it was cute.
Every family has one. Some of us get two or three. But there is a picky eater in every group. That kid that won’t try something just because it is new. I recently saw a post from a Facebook friend discussing her child’s unwillingness to eat something she prepared as a snack. This reminded me of what our family did when the kids were younger. Our oldest daughter resisted trying new foods on the simple premiss that the food was new. No other reason. There was no way to logic her out of this so we decided to embrace the adventure of new. We created a “Food Passport” for her. Every time she tried a new food, she got a stamp in her passport. Initially, she was allowed to purchase items out of the prize box for 2-3 stamps, and over time we increased the price of things to 5-10 stamps. Eventually she stopped asking to buy things with her stamps and stopped requiring stamps altogether. However, almost 10 years later as a tween, when she tries something new, she still says it is for her food passport. She embraced the adventure of trying new foods and that became a platform for her to embrace all kinds of adventure as we have traveled and lived in different states and foreign countries.
Making a Food Passport can be as simple or complex as you like. We cut pages to be ¼ sheet size, but you can use any size you want or purchase a blank notebook or journal. Decorate the cover (get your kid to help). You can keep it simple, and just have blank pages, or theme pages by type of food (vegetable, fruit, pasta, etc.) or country (American, Mexican, Italian, etc). Being creative and getting the kids involved in the production of the Food Passport will help increase they excitement of using it. If you don’t want to take the time to make something, click on the picture for a kid’s food journal that you can purchase. (Disclaimer – I have never used the journal in the picture. I am always going to opt for saving the money and making it myself!)
I used to fight my kids about eating bread crusts. We paid good money for that bread, and you will eat it all! We also used to pay good money for bread crumbs for various breading and other recipes. One day it finally hit me that the crusts my kids hate to eat could be turned into breadcrumbs, thus saving us that expense. Here is how we do it. When a child has a sandwich and doesn’t want the crusts, the rule is that the crusts must be cut off the bread before any sandwich items are put on. This keeps peanut butter and salami out of our bread crumbs. We keep a zipper bag in the freezer and all bread crusts get tossed into that zipper bag. Once a month I take out all the crusts and any other small portions of unused bread that we have stashed in the freezer and make breadcrumbs. I shred everything in the food processor, adding various seasonings as I go. Then I place the bag of breadcrumbs back into the freezer until I am ready to use some. I can scoop out as much as I need for any recipe and the rest stay in the freezer.
One of our historically favorite desserts for parties and potluck dinners is Oreo Delight. This rich dessert is based on the Oreo cookie and takes flavors from the cookie to form its layers. It is simple to make and always a crowd pleaser.
Prep time: 20 minutes Total time: 4 hours 40 minutes (including refrigeration)
- 1 package Oreo Double Stuffed cookies, finely crushed
- 6 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
- 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 tub (12 oz.) Cool Whip, thawed* (you will not need the whole 2 tubs)
- 3 ¼ cups plus 2 Tbsp. cold milk
- 2 packages (4 serving size) Chocolate instant pudding*
- *sugar free varieties can be use with no change in the appearance or flavor
- Mix crushed cookies and butter in medium bowl. Press firmly onto bottom of a 9×13 baking pan. Refrigerate 10 minutes.
- Beat cream cheese, sugar and 2 Tbsp. milk in medium bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Gently fold in 1 ¼ cups of the Cool Whip. Spread the mixture over the crust. Refrigerate while you complete the next step.
- Pour 3 ¼ cups milk into medium bowl. Add dry pudding mixes. Beat with wire whisk until well blended. Pour over cream cheese layer and refrigerate 5 minutes until thickened.
- Drop Cool Whip on the top and spread. Cover the whole top with a layer of Cool Whip. Use as much or as little Cool Whip on the top as you like. I usually use about 12 oz.
- Refrigerate 4 hours. Cut into 24 squares. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
- Makes 24 servings, 1 square each (We usually cut them into 15 servings per 9×13 pan)
We have a new favorite recipe! Ham and Cheese Pretzels! I found the recipe from Seeded at the Table. The kids love these and the adults love them too! For an interesting twist, instead of cutting these into bites, try making them sandwich sized and serving for dinner. These also make great party food!