Category Archives: Everyday Foods

Breakfast Burrito Cups

Today, I baked these Breakfast Burrito Cups because I like the idea to keep them in the fridge or freezer and pop them in the microwave for a quick, healthy, hot breakfast.  Sweet Stackers layer foods using a stackable food storage system in a variety of containers.  This prevents foods from sticking together or getting soggy.

Breakfast Burrito Cups

Happy New Year!  Personally, I have never been into making resolutions.  This year is different and I am setting a goal that is taking one more step to eating better for the whole family.  Drumroll please…..I am not buying cereal!

Overall, I believe that we do well eating well rounded meals.  But breakfast is the one area where I think we can do better!  The mornings are hectic.  First, I am NOT a morning person.  My kids know that Mom needs to have a few sips of coffee before we can start discussing any aspect of the morning routine.  Three young kids bring the typical morning rush trying to get them out of the door on time.  Cereal is the perfect quick breakfast.  But even the cereal that we have considered to be the “less-sugar” cereals are still packed with sugar and limited nutrition.  I myself quit eating cereal for about 2 years because I realized I was starving by 9 or 10 A.M.  Unfortunately, my kids LOVE cereal and will even eat it as an afternoon snack since they can make it themselves.  So if I don’t have cereal in the house, no one will eat it.

I have been doing some research as how to make quick heathy breakfasts!  This is one of the make ahead recipes to keep in the freezer.  A variety of fillings can be used, so get creative!

Breakfast Burrito Cups

yields 12 individual cups

3 – 10 inch flour tortilla

variety of diced veggies/cooked meat [green pepper, mushrooms & ham]

5 eggs

2 TB milk

shredded Cheddar cheese – optional

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 12 count muffin tin with oil.

Cut the tortilla into quarters.  Press gently into the muffin tin to form cups.  Sprinkle the diced veggies and meat into the cups.  In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together.  Poor even amounts of egg mixture into each cup.  Sprinkle a pinch of shredded cheese on top of each cup.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes until the egg is cooked through and lightly browned.

 

 

Lunch Box: Frozen Sandwiches

Attention Moms with school aged kids!

Preparing school lunches turns into a dreaded chore for Moms, especially during the morning rush.  A couple of years ago, one of my Mom friends mentioned that they freeze sandwiches.  Pull a sandwich out of the freezer when packing lunches in the morning and by lunch time the sandwich is perfectly thawed.  At the time I didn’t think much of it, but I also only had one lunch to prepare.  Now that I have two kids in school – I totally get this idea!  Of course I have two kids that have their own preferences – one like cheese, the other doesn’t – one likes mayo, the other prefers mustard.  How can I keep track??!!

Lunch Box

This is a great way to save time preparing your kid’s lunch box!  Now I make it part of our Sunday night routine.  The kids prepare clothes and backpacks and I make sandwiches for the week.   Sandwiches can be stored in plastic storage bags or plastic wrap, but I am trying to make an effort to reduce waste and especially at school.  I use an air-tight food storage container that will fit sandwiches in layers, using a Sweet Stackers tray to separate each kids lunch.  One kid’s sandwiches are layered on the bottom and the other’s layered on top – this way I can keep track when I am packing them.  Since, I am not storing the sandwiches for a long period of time, there are no problems with freezer burn or the bread drying out.  The kids love them and they do not get soggy.  Plus I like that the sandwiches are kept colder longer preventing deli meat or spreads to spoil.

Many Moms have asked, “What type of sandwiches do you make?”.  I do prefer to use whole grain breads, but I noticed that my kids get bored with the same sandwich.  All kids are different, but changing up the “traditional PB&J” can be fun and a good change for them!  This week I am making ham and cheese sandwiches using Hawaiian dinner rolls and peanut butter and Nutella on whole grain Raisin Bread.

A couple of tips:

  • Do not freeze lettuce, tomatoes or other similar toppings on the sandwich.  Pack these items separately on the side.
  • When making PB&J, smear peanut butter on both sides of the bread (at least a thin layer) to prevent the jelly from touching the bread.  Jelly will make the sandwich soggy.
  • Bento style storage containers (with dividers) are fun for the kids to store sides, dips, crackers, fruits & veggies.  (We found some neat ones in the dollar section at Target!)
  • Make your own Uncrustables – there are tools that will seal and cut the crust off.
  • Shaped sandwich cutters (or cookie cutters) are a fun way to remove crust and cut into cute shapes.

 

Do you have any great tips to share?

 

 

Homemade Pasta Bolognese

This is one my “go to” recipes for a weekly meal.  My version of Pasta Bolognese has a bunch of veggies too!  There is one unusual ingredient that gives it a ton of flavor – balsamic vinegar.  The balsamic vinegar gets caramelized a bit on the bottom of the pan.  Then you can scrape all of the goodness stuck to the pan and incorporate it into the sauce.  Plus the smell is amazing as this is simmering away!

Homemade Bolognese Sauce

Homemade Pasta Bolognese

  • 1.5 lbs. ground beef (or turkey)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 – 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 – 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs or fresh herbs to taste

Brown the meat over medium heat in a large sauce pan.  When almost cooked through, add the onion and carrots.  Continue cooking until the veggies are soft.  Add green pepper and garlic.  Once the meat is browned and the veggies have been cooked, add the balsamic vinegar.  Let the balsamic vinegar cook down a bit and it will start to caramelize.  Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits.  Add the tomatoes and sauce.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer down for at least 10 minutes….or longer.

I usually add cooked pasta right into the sauce and toss with the sauce.

Enjoy!

Lemon Garlic Baked Chicken

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy Baked Chicken should have been title of this dish!  So easy, so tasty and just a handful of ingredients.

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Lemon Garlic Baked Chicken

  • 2 large chicken breasts with skin on
  • 2 lemons; one sliced thin and 1 squeezed
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh green beans

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Prepare baking dish and drizzle bottom with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Layer the lemon slices on the bottom of pan and place chicken on top.  In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and S&P.  Toss the green beans in mixture and pour over the chicken.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked.  About half way cooked, spoon juices over the chicken to baste.

Serving suggestion – serve with pasta tossed in the lemon garlic juice from the chicken bake.

 

 

The Best Roast Chicken – Ever!

Such a cold dreary fall day and some comfort food is needed to break the mood.

A Roasted Chicken can be made a bunch of different ways and I find that there can be some strong opinions out there as to which way is the best.  But, I have made chicken a few different ways and I think this one is the best, hands down!

This idea from this recipe came from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Cookbook.  The key ingredient that I now swear by…is the whole lemon.  It not only makes my chicken look absolutely gorgeous, it gives it great flavor and makes the house smell wonderful.

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Here’s what I do…

Preheat oven to 400°.

Chop 2 medium-sized yellow onions into quarters and place in the middle of a shallow roast pan.  This becomes a “rack” for the chicken to sit on.

Take one lemon and pierce it several times with a knife.  Place it in the microwave for 40 seconds.  (already smells good…)

Place the lemon and a bunch of fresh thyme inside the cavity of the chicken.  (thyme + chicken = yum)

Rub the chicken with olive oil and salt and pepper the surface.  I like to use coarse sea salt for my roasts (if you have it).

Sit the chicken on the onions.  If I am roasting other veggies like carrots and potatoes, I place them around the chicken.

That’s it!  Place it in the oven and roast.  A 3 ½ to 4 pound chicken should take 2 to 2 ¼ hours, but test for doneness.

What is your favorite way to roast chicken?

An Aussie Burger

What makes an Aussie Burger?  ….that is the question.

Let’s start from the bottom layer –

the burger,

sauce (don’t say ketchup),

cheese,

a fried egg,

pickled beets (beet root),

lettuce,

tomato,

slice of pineapple

Aussie Burger

Hope my Aussie husband enjoyed his Birthday Burger!  Love all his support of my blog….at least he finished his burger, while I was still setting up my photo shoot.

Veggie Quinoa Frittata

Frittata is an Italian egg-based dish similar to an omelette or crustless quiche, enriched with additional ingredients such as meats, cheese, vegetables or pasta.  It may be flavored with herbs.  They are so versatile that I never make them the same way twice and they are perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  It is a great way to get more veggies into my family’s diet and everyone in my house is pretty happy when I make them.  The kids especially like a slice with a little ketchup drizzled on top.

Slice of Frittata

Pre-cook 1/3 cup of quinoa in 1/3 cup of water for 15 minutes until the water is absorbed.  Set aside.

This frittata was a veggie version.  But, sometimes I check out my fridge to see if there is any leftover ham, chicken or pork.  Any leftover meat or veggies are perfect for a frittata!!  Cube it and throw that in too.  Otherwise, pick any veggies that you have on hand and chop them.

First Harvest Asparagus

I was pretty excited that I was able to harvest my first batch of asparagus from the garden today.  Since it is a small handful, it will not be enough to serve for dinner, so into my frittata it goes!!

Use a medium-sized fry pan that can be placed in the oven, under a broiler.  Sautee the veggies in a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil until softened.

Sauteed Veggies

Once the veggies are done, spread them out evenly in the fry pan and place the cooked quinoa on top.  Quinoa is perfect because it will settle to the bottom of the dish and give it some crunch, almost like a crust.  This is the perfect time to add leftover meat.

Layer Quinoa

Wisk 5 eggs in a small mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Gently pour the eggs over the veggies and quinoa evenly.  I strategically placed a few slices of sweet baby red peppers to fancy it up.  This is the perfect time to sprinkle a little shredded cheese or grated parmesan if you’d like.

Cook over medium heat until the eggs are almost completely set.

Quinoa Egg Frittata

To finish cooking the eggs, I place it under a broiler a few minutes until the top is cooked and golden brown.

Veggie Quinoa Frittata

Slide the frittata out of the pan and cut into wedges to serve.

Healthy Quinoa Frittata

Lunch is served!!

Mac n Cheese Muffins

What a fun sized portion of Mac n Cheese!  Perfect for kids and adults alike.  Great for lunch or a side dish to compliment dinner.  Shhhh….I am even adding some veggies in too!

Wouldn’t this recipe be fun way to get your kids in the kitchen cooking?  Basically, have all of the ingredients cooked and ready for them to mix, then give them a few choices of veggies to add.  They can even fill the muffin tin and sprinkle the bread crumbs on top.  This recipe is versatile because I have tried many different veggies in the Mac n Cheese Muffins…be creative!

Mac n Cheese Muffins

8 oz box of macaroni or elbow pasta; cooked and drained

1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup plus 2 TB grated parmesan cheese

2 large eggs

3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup plain yogurt

2 carrots, shredded

1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 TB Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

Cook the macaroni pasta according to the instructions on the package.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray muffin pan with cooking spray.  Drain the pasta, return to the pot and mix in the cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese.  In a large bowl, beat the eggs and stir in the milk and yogurt until combined.  Add the egg mixture to the pasta mixture, mix with the selected veggies, nutmeg, mustard, salt and pepper.  Divide the mixture among 12 count medium muffin pan.  Heat butter in a small skillet.  Once melted, add bread crumbs and stir until browned.  Add in the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle over the pasta mixture and bake until set about 15 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan.

Other suggestions for pre-cooked veggies:

small broccoli florets, diced zucchini or summer squash, diced asparagus, sliced grape tomatoes

Mini Turkey Meatballs

Here’s another great way to get your kids in the kitchen making a quick and healthy dinner.  My 5 and 3-year-old helped me mix the ingredients and roll them into little balls.  We used a melon baller to get equal amount of mixture to each meatball.  They are cute, kid friendly because of their size and texture and quick to bake.  Of course I added a veggie ingredient for added nutrition.  By using the melon baller, I was able to make 63 mini meatballs out of 1 pound of ground turkey!

Mini Meatballs

Mini Turkey Meatballs

1 lb. ground turkey

1/4 C bread crumbs

1 small onion, diced

1/4 C bell pepper

1 egg, beaten

2 TB fresh flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven 350°.  Mix all ingredients until well combined.  Scoop up using a melon baller and roll in between your hand until a round uniform shape is achieved.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes, flip the meatballs half way through.  Once baked, add the meatballs to pasta sauce and serve over pasta.

Why not make another batch and freeze them?  Layer the meatball on Sweet Stackers – stackable trays which fit many popular brands of plastic food storage containers.  Helps to save space in a packed freezer!  The trays will separate the meatballs to prevent them from sticking together.  Once frozen solid they can be removed and placed in a plastic freezer bag.  Visit sweetstackers.com!

Frozen meatballs can be thawed directly in a pot of pasta sauce on the stove top for a quick dinner.

Carrot Apple Salad

Carrot Salad…yeah, I was never a big fan until I tried this combination and my kids loved it!  Only 4 ingredients, how much easier can you get?

Carrot Salad

I am trying to change things up and find new ways to get more servings of vegetables in our diet.  I thought this was a pretty clever salad that appealed to all of my kids (and Mom & Dad too).   Raw veggies are the best for us.  I have some success with my kids eating raw baby carrots at lunchtime, but they are too difficult to eat for young children.  So my 5-year-old will eat them and my 3-year-old says “it’s too hard”.  So this salad is perfect for even my 1-year-old to eat because the carrots are shredded and the apples are cut into a very small dice.  The combination of flavors are very appealing too.  I like the sweet flavor of the carrot and raisins combined with the crunch of the apple.

Here’s is another tip that I learned recently for getting your youngsters to eat their vegetables at dinnertime and I think it makes perfect sense!  Serve the vegetable as a first course instead of a side.  I watch my kids eat up their dinner and usually leave their veggie for the end.  Sometimes it turns out that they are “full” by the time they get to the most important part of their meal.  So I tried this theory one night and served this Carrot Apple Salad as a first course, in a small individual bowls for my whole family.  My kids at first looked at me funny and said, “hey, where’s my dinner”, but then I explained that it was still coming.  All three kids gobbled up this salad with no complaints.  They were hungry and didn’t fill up on the rest of their dinner yet.

Carrot Apple Salad

note: may be doubled, tripled depending on how many you are serving

1 large organic carrot, shredded with box grater

1 small apple, diced small

1/4 C raisins

1-2 TB mayonnaise

Toss the shredded carrot, apple and raisins together and coat with mayonnaise.