Tag Archive | food

Make Your Own Dog Food

While there are plenty of good dog foods you can buy, it can get expensive. If you have a pup with any special dietary needs, the costs can escalate quickly.

This is Picaso, our oldest doggo who has kidney issues and cancer.

We tried dog foods from our vet, but even with the discount we get because our oldest daughter works there as a vet assistant, it was still expensive. After doing a lot of research and talking with her about options, we decided to make dog food at home. It was really easy and a lot cheaper. We used the slow cooker, as that meant nothing needed watched or stirred. NOTE: This recipe is for a dog that needs lower protein due to kidney issues. If your vet recommends higher protein or your pup has food sensitivity issues, you will need to adjust the recipe. Before you change foods or start a new regimen, talk with your veterinarian.

Here’s what we did:

In your slow cooker, combine the following:

• 3 cans of chicken breast, including the water, or 4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts with the fat trimmed (We used the cans because it was just easier)

• 2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into rough chunks

• 4-6 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

• 1 can of beets, including the liquid

• 1 6-10oz. bag of spinach

• 4 tbsp flaxseed or flaxseed powder

• Cover all ingredients with water, but be sure there is room for the water level to rise. As the food cooks in the slow cooker, it will give off liquid.

• Cook on high for 4 hours.

•After 4 hours, use a potato masher to mash the food. It doesn’t have to be a purée but should have bite-sized chunks.

•Add 3 cups of brown rice. Close the lid and let the rice cook until tender. We used brown minute rice, but you can use rice that doesn’t quick cook. Just be sure you give it at least 60 minutes to soften.

•Mix cooked rice in thoroughly. Divide into ½ cup portions in zipper bags or reusable containers.

We keep 2 days thawed in the fridge and freeze the rest in portioned zipper bags. If your doggo need extra water (like ours) you can add 1-3 tbs of water to each portion when you serve it to your dog. Serve a ½ cup portion to your dog twice a day.

Snow Cream

snow-cream-recipe-photo-260x260-acoleman-031Much 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!

Can You Bring A Meal For…?

slow.cooker.01This 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!).

Chicken Noodle Soup – Look under Tuesday on the link, but there are a million ways to make this and it is always good. Bring along a baguette you made or bought the day of delivery.

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.

Food Passport: Dealing with Your Picky Eater

10105_MyFood_CoverdisplayEvery 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!)

To Crust or Not To Crust

thI 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.

Oreo Delight

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)


  • th1 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


  1. Mix crushed cookies and butter in medium bowl.  Press firmly onto bottom of a 9×13 baking pan. Refrigerate 10 minutes.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Refrigerate 4 hours. Cut into 24 squares. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
  6. Makes 24 servings, 1 square each (We usually cut them into 15 servings per 9×13 pan)

Ham & Cheese Pretzel Rolls

ham and cheese pretzelWe 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!

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Recipe

Flag Day Ideas

Today is Flag Day. How about celebrating by teaching the kids some fun facts about our national flag or making some great Flag Shirtsflag crafts. Here are some ideas:

Add your favorite Flag inspired ideas in the comments!

The Best Frosting Ever

I have been experimenting with frosting recipes for 10 years. You name it, I have tried it in frosting. But I have finally stumbled upon what my family calls the best frosting ever – Almond Cream Cheese frosting. This simple frosting can be used on cinnamon rolls, chocolate cakes, orange cupcakes, and just about any other cake or pastry.


  • 4 ounces (1/4 cup) cream cheese, softened
  • 4 ounces (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Beat cream cheese and butter with a paddle beater until combined. Add powdered sugar and continue beating until combined. Add vanilla and almond. Switch to whisking attachment and beat until light and fluffy 2-4 minutes.

This recipe makes enough for a cake or a batch of cinnamon rolls. It smells like heaven!

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

I am always on the lookout for new, easier ways to do make dinner and I was very pleased when I found this recipe for Chicken Parmesan chicken-parmesan-casserole1Casserole from OurPinterestingSummer.wordpress.com. It was a huge hit.

A few changes we tried:

  1. Serving it over pasta
  2. Cutting the chicken used to 1-2 large pieces (cubed) to save money
  3. Skip the sauce in a jar and make your own (try one of these tomato sauce recipes)
  4. Make your own breadcrumbs with Italian seasonings to use instead of croutons
  5. We only did one layer of cheese with breadcrumbs on top. That filed the pan I was using.