Strawberry Jam!

I am NOT a “canner” when it comes to jam. I literally had one of those small flats of strawberries that I bought off of my friends that were called “jam-berries” because they were quite ripe and DELICIOUS! The cost is about half price of what a normal flat is too! (check your local strawberry farm to see if they do that there too!)

So, I had to find a couple of recipes and BLEND them. I can’t ever do things the way can I? HA!

Here’s the 4 links for the jam that I made, and then I will post what I actually did.

Ina Garten Strawberry Jam
Pioneer Woman’s Strawberry Jam
Martha Stewart’s Quick Strawberry Jam
Strawberry Jam

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I don’t think that I exactly made it in the traditional way… but I’ve gotta say, it turned out WONDERFULLY!!! My entire batch is delicious…!!!

Disclaimer: I DID sanitize my jars, but in the dishwasher and then heated them up in the sink, not by boiling them. Follow whatever instructions that it shows on the above recipes for the proper way to do so.

Strawberry Jam:

5 cups crushed/hulled strawberries
1 1/2 cups organic granulated sugar
2 1/2 TB powdered pectin
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon

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Directions:

  1. Put a small plate in the freezer. Place the mashed strawberries, lemon zest and lemon juice in a nonreactive 10-quart stockpot set over medium-high heat. Stir in the pectin until dissolved. Bring the strawberries to a strong boil.

  2. Add the sugar (measure beforehand so you can add it all at once), and then return the mixture to a full (violent) boil that can’t be stirred down. Boil hard for 1 minute 15 seconds. Skim foam off the top.

  3. Perform a gel test: Place a spoonful of jam on chilled plate, and return to freezer. Wait 1 to 2 minutes; remove plate from freezer, and gently press jam with fingertip; it should wrinkle slightly.

  4. After jam passes the gel test, remove from heat. Pour warm jam into jars; seal, label, and refrigerate up to 4 months.

  5. Fill the jars so that they have 1/4-inch of space at the top. Run a knife down the side of the jar to get rid of air bubbles. Wipe the rim of the jar with a wet cloth to remove any residue or stickiness.

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And there you have it! That recipe made 1 LARGE jar (the size of a spaghetti sauce jar) and one small jar full (the size in the pictures above). Try it, you’ll like it!!! You can add sugar and reduce pectin, or vice versa. I honestly made it that way because I completely RAN OUT of sugar!!! AAAH! 🙂

Turned out good though!

God Bless!

And now, for the song of the day:

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What I Have Learned About Cooking

10 Things that I have learned about cooking, since having a cooking blog:

  1. I have learned that I LOVE it. I think that I cook with love, and when I cook for someone, I like to watch them (not being creepy at all, I promise!) 😉 eat and enjoy it. If they don’t like it… I’m CRUSHED! I shouldn’t be… but I am.
  2. I have also learned that it’s ok to not cook EVERY meal EVERY day completely from scratch. That’s exhausting.
  3. I have learned that I need to give myself permission to mess up. It’s ok if I don’t make a perfect delicious meal every night.
  4. I have learned that it’s not as hard, as I used to think it was, to make meals with mainly whole ingredients.
  5. I have learned experimenting is FUN!
  6. I have learned that when I have fun cooking, my kids join in, and they try new things!
  7. I have learned that because I love cooking so much, it can be better than eating out! (Unless I don’t feel like cooking…)
  8. I have learned I need to invite people over more, I need to be better at entertaining. I need to use this thing I enjoy, and share it with others, and get to know people better and invite people into my home and not be such a hermit. 🙂
  9. I have learned that I get scared to bring food places because I think people will expect my food to be AMAZING because I have a food blog… and then I question myself and second guess myself and decide I can’t cook anything that good… and don’t sign up to bring anything… sometimes.
  10. I have learned that I don’t know it all… and I still want to take cooking lessons!

What have some of you other moms or chefs, or bloggers out there learned since taking on a “new venture”? Share it in the comments!!

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Just adding this picture because I DESPERATELY want to go apple picking… and the season is coming up soon (some apples have already come into season!)… Does this picture (from last year) get you excited?!

And now, for the quote of the day:

Spanish Potato Hash and Egg Breakfast… For Dinner!

So, the other morning my mom stopped by on her way to work to see the kids, as she frequently does. And… if she does NOT, my daughter is SURE to call Grama and remind her… she needs to stop by! 🙂

Anyway, my mom had stopped by and my little girl wanted to tell her a very sad story that her oldest cousin had told her. She says to my mom… “Grama, P told me that when they were driving her to visit… they say something on the road… and it’s so sad… they saw a dead PIMPLE on the road!!!”. I had to leave the room. Oh my word! HAHAHAHA! My mom, who has had much practice in not bursting out in inappropriate laughter when children say the wrong word for things, very sweetly says to my daughter: “oh, you mean a Pit Bull?”. My daughter, not missing much of a beat says “oh, yes, a Pit Bull…”. Ha! Pimple…

And now… as I giggle and smile to myself, I am going to finish this blog post with one of my husbands latest favorite meals. He chose this recipe for me to make, and it has honestly been one of his absolute FAVORITES. He even rationed the leftovers so he could have it for as many meals as possible! HA!

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INGREDIENTS
  • 2 large yukon gold potatoes, washed, peeled and diced
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, washed, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth – fat free and low sodium organic and free range
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup salsa (of your choice)
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1-2 sweet mini peppers diced (if desired)
  • 1/2 lb to 1 lb. breakfast sausage
  • 1½ cups spinach
  • 1½ tsp lime juice
  • 1 avocado
  • 3 + eggs – depending on how many people are eating

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INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Start by cooking your sausage in a large skillet. While the meat is cooking, dice your potatoes, onions and veggies.
  3. Once the meat (sausage) is about cooked, add the potatoes, the diced onion, peppers and the cumin, paprika, garlic powder and chicken broth. Place the lid on top and let simmer (to cook the potatoes). Let simmer for about 8-10 minutes until the potatoes are starting to soften.
  4. Add the spinach, salsa and the lime juice and toss until well incorporated. Create 3-4 wells in the mixture and crack an egg into each.
  5. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 8-10 minutes depending on how runny you prefer your eggs. OR… put a splash of water in the skillet, put the lid onto the pan, and let the eggs cook to your desired done-ness.
  6. Remove from the oven and serve with slices of guacamole. You can also top with a bit of shredded cheese and some hot sauce as my husband did. 🙂

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ENJOY!

And now, for the quote of the day:

Healthy Banana Nut Bedtime (Or Anytime!) Snack

In trying to watch the foods that I eat, reduce my “processed” food and carbs, and eat more real food… I needed to find a healthy bedtime snack. I have also had this as a mid-afternoon snack to eat while I am making dinner if I know that I’m going to have a very late dinner with the hubs. That happens a lot… and I get HUNGRY when I’m making my kids dinner! This is a great thing to pull out and snack on, has healthy fats, carbs, and protein to keep you full while you wait for your meal! It can also keep you full all night so you don’t go to sleep with a growling tummy!

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Ingredients:

1 banana
Trail mix (mine is hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews and raisins)
1-2 TB nut butter (I used sunflower seed butter… you can use almond butter as well!)
1 Tb dark chocolate chips

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Directions:

Just melt the nut butter and dark chocolate together in a small glass dish in the microwave. Then spread over the sliced in half banana, and top with nuts. DELICIOUS right?!?!?!?!

You know you want to try this… 🙂

and now, for the quote of the day:

A nice little reminder!

Homemade Wheat Sandwich Bread (with a #vegan option!)

So, we spend a lot of money on bread around our house. Like, it’s ridiculous. Because of my son with food allergies, I am very picky about what brand and what ingredients are in the bread. We have been buying bread from Trader Joes for about $4.00 per loaf (or more… can’t quite remember) because I like the ingredients, and it doesn’t have any allergens in it. But… that much money per loaf and I buy 6 loaves of bread every 2 weeks… that’s a LOT of money for bread! So, I’ve decided I need to make more of my own bread. My mom has a bread machine that I can use… but I don’t like my bread BAKED in the bread machine. So, I make the dough in the bread machine, and then bake the bread in the oven. This recipe came out PERFECT! It’s got a nice crispy crust with a soft and slightly doughy inside… DELICIOUS! I don’t want to buy bread again! My mom also had some FRESHLY GROUND wheat flour. Like, not store bought… she had Wheat Berries, ground them in her Grain Mill, and gave it to me! WHAT?! Yes!!!!! Freshest you can get! I used half of this fresh flour, and half of the all purpose flour (I use Lily Flour…. I also have used King Arthur).

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Doesn’t that look delicious!!??

For 1 loaf, so double for a batch of 2.

Whole Wheat Bread

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup warm water (NOT hot! You don’t want to “kill” the yeast)
2 tsp pure cane sugar (organic is preferred)
2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 TB local honey
2 tablespoons butter , melted (you can use Earth Balance for the VEGAN option!)
3/4 tsp kosher sea salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus possible extra White Lily All Purpose Flour

3/4 TB bread machine yeast

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IF you have a bread maker this will be quite easy! If not… BORROW ONE!! HA! It just makes it soo much easier! If you WANT one, check out this awesome and ON SALE breadmaker: Cuisinart Breadmaker

Load your bread maker in the order the ingredients are listed. Wet ingredients first, and ending with the bread machine yeast. Then, set to the DOUGH cycle. Do NOT select a bread cycle. You want dough only. Mine was a 1 hour and 20 minute cycle. When the bread machine is kneading the dough, I watch it to make sure it’s only slightly sticky, but still is being kneaded around by the machine and not sticking to one side of the pan. If needed add 1 TB of all purpose flour at a time until it’s just SLIGHTLY sticky… but not too dry! If it’s too dry, add 1 tsp of water at a time. Get a bread pan (glass or aluminum, didn’t matter… I tried both) and grease it either with a bit of butter, or cooking spray and set the bread pan aside.

Once the timer goes off and your dough is done, butter up your hands… or flour them… 🙂 … so that the dough doesn’t stick to your hands when you take it out. Remove the dough (it will deflate, that’s fine!) and make sure the paddle of the bread machine does not stay in the dough! Kind of knead it down a bit, and shape into a rounded rectangle. Place into greased bread pan and then set a damp kitchen towel over top and allow to rise for 30 minutes. At this time, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

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After 30 minutes, the bread dough should have doubled in size. Remove the towel, and place into the preheated oven and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. It should be golden brown with a nice crispy crust and chewy moist bread inside!

I cut it right away and me and my 2 kids ate a nice thick slice just dripping in melted butter… OH MAN!! It was DELICIOUS!!!

If you would like some homemade bread… give this one a try! It’s the best recipe I have ever made for homemade sandwich bread! And believe me, I’ve tried MANY!

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And now, for the quote of the day:

If the world were to come to an end today and all of the people who believed in the Lord our God as their Savior were taken to Heaven to be with Him for eternity… do you know for sure if you would be with them?!

Revelation 21:4- the incredible hope and promise that can only Jesus Christ can provide!!!

What’s in Your Pantry?

(FYI, this is NOT my pantry, it’s found on GOOGLE search under the term: pantry. BUT, if anyone wants to come to my house and come and help my pantry LOOK like the above picture, let me know!)

So I was chatting with one of my friends and she was saying she sees a recipe on here and looks in her pantry and she doesn’t have any of the ingredients! And, of course, I realize that not everyone shops WITH me! People don’t see what I always keep stocked. People don’t see my meal plans! 🙂

I COULD just go to people’s house and cook for them… because, actually, I’d really like that. How fun would teaching people how to cook and cooking for them be? Maybe I’m crazy, but I’d LOVE it! It’s such a passion of mine, to cook, and passing it on to anyone would be a blast!

Moving on…

I decided to list my “staples”. Things that, if I run out, I always try to replace them when I go again. That’s also where the “Out of Milk” app comes in handy, because I quickly add it on there so that I don’t forget next time I shop!

So, here goes:

MUST HAVES in my pantry, fridge and freezer:

1. Zucchini – when in season

2. Frozen veggies – my favorite is corn, broccoli, peas and green beans.

3. Carrots and onions – my favorite is a sweet yellow onion

4. Bread – it’s actually for my kids, but I always have some. It’s a tragedy if I run out before the 2 weeks is over!

5. 1/2 and 1/2 and Heavy Cream – for coffee AND cooking

6. BUTTER!!! A MUST have!

7. Flour, sugar, honey, baking soda, baking powder and flax meal – all of these last a WHILE and I don’t have to replace them very often.

8. At least 1 jar of Organic Pasta Sauce – whether it’s for my little boy’s meatballs, or something else. I make sure I have 1

9. At least 1 type of “pasta”. So, Quinoa, Couscous or a high fiber, Whole Grain Pasta

10. Lettuce (dark and leafy) or baby spinach – for all SORTS of dishes!

11. Greek Yogurt FULL FAT and PLAIN – a must have for a snack (add a little honey to some plain greek yogurt, stir and EAT for a high protein snack!), for cooking, baking and also in place of sour cream it works amazingly!

12. Garlic – I either buy it in a jar with olive oil already minced, or a fresh clove… just depending on how I feel

13. Spices I always have in my cupboard: Oregano, Cumin, Paprika, Garlic Powder, Salt and Pepper, Turmeric, Curry Powder, Onion Powder, Chili Powder, Italian Seasoning, Cayenne Powder, Dried Basil, Dried Thyme, Dried Parsley, Dill

14. My favorite FRESH herbs: Basil, parsley, cilantro. I don’t always keep these because they go bad quite quickly. I have fresh herbs growing in my garden in my yard during the spring and summer, and then in the fall and winter, I purchase certain herbs (if I feel fresh is worth the cost) for specific recipes.

15. Lemons and Limes- I try to have at least 3 of each

16. Avocado – when they are in season, I usually by 5 or 6 when I shop for the 2 week time period. I buy them when they are still hard and let them sit out on the counter. When they start to get ripe I transfer them to the fridge and they stay good until my 2 week period of time (between shopping trips) is up!

17. Chicken Tenderloins from Trader Joes – these are just… the best. I’ve bought fresh, frozen etc from many other places and nothing quite compares! The frozen Chicken Tenderloins from TJ wins out every time!

18. Fish/Shrimp/Seafood – I’m picky about this. I do NOT always have these. Even if I’ve planned a recipe for any one of these and I go to the store and they don’t have any wild caught at a good price… I do NOT purchase it. I will change my recipe to something more cost effective. I have certain rules. And I don’t like to pay more than $8.99/lb for wild caught shrimp.

19. 1 lb. of ground beef. I like no-hormones, all natural ground beef. If I’m lucky World Market or Earth Fare will have some fancy shmancy grass fed ground beef that I stock up on when it’s on sale! But… if not, I get the highest quality for the best price possible. Sometimes I only buy 1 lb for the 2 week period and make it last. Just depending on the price.

20. “Fancy Beef” – steak, ribs, short ribs, beef tips, sirloin, roast. I don’t make these often. I try to plan it ahead of time if my budget allows, or when it’s on sale. I will sometimes put a meal plan on the list for a roast, etc just in case there’s a good price on it when I’m shopping. If there isn’t, I don’t make it for that time period, but I save it on my pinterest board for when it does! Or… if my husband and I have an at home date night.

21. Carrots! I like to buy the large 2 lb. bag of full size organic carrots. My kids even like it because they act like bunnies! 🙂

22. Potatoes – I buy either Yukon Gold or Sweet potatoes. Whichever is on sale or what I’ve planned for that time period.

23. Cheese – Parmesan Cheese, cheddar, shredded, block, cottage cheese, etc. I try to have at least 1 on hand. Also… depending on price. Sometimes cheese is BOGO!

24. Canned tomatoes or salsa. I like the off-brand of Ro-Tel (fire roasted tomatoes with green chilis). You can do A LOT with salsa or canned tomatoes! No joke!

25. Beans – canned. Like, black beans, Pinto Beans, cannelini beans. You can put them in soup, chili, salad, make refried beans on your own… the options are HIGH! And… they are cheap! There are times I can get them for under $0.50/can!

26. Tomato Paste – You saw my tube of tomato paste in a previous post. You can do so much with so little of it! Tortilla soup, enchiladas, chili, pizza or spaghetti sauce, etc. A little can go a long way!

27. Chicken Broth or Vegetable Broth… SOMETIMES Beef Broth – because I make a lot of my own sauces instead of buying them, these are essential. I can use this in a soup, chili, baked dish, sauteed dish, quick or baked, oven or crock pot… I try to keep 2 in my pantry. I don’t always use them, but I’m always glad I have them in my pantry! They keep for a long time too!

28. Things for my kids to snack on: hummus, cucumber, apples, grapes, strawberries (depending on when in season/on sale) raspberries, crackers, chips, pita chips, etc. I don’t always get ALL of these, but usually 2 or 3 of them.

29. Sunflower Seed Butter and Jelly and Preserves (I use this in place of any “nut” butter) – for sandwiches and cooking and snacking

30. Organic Old Fashioned Oats – for breakfast or baking!

31. Last, but not least OLIVE OIL Organic Olive Oil. I use it daily!

If I have all of these “essentials” as I call them, I can make a meal pretty easily! I can mix up the ingredients, or buy a few “odds and ends” and make something new and fancy! Seems like a long list when I put it all down, but I don’t have to buy these every time I go shopping, so that helps with cost. Healthy and whole ingredients and an endless amount of meals you can make with these ingredients! I do buy a few different things for my kids like chicken nuggets, etc… (if I don’t make them that week)… but overall these are my must-haves.

What are your go-tos? Anything that you MUST have in your fridge or pantry?

Let me know!

And now, for the quote of the day:

You need to release the load that God never meant for you to carry and focus on what He has called you to do.

What Kind of Food is Healthy and Why??

My  husband and I had a chat the other day about how different we eat now than when we first got married. When we first got married I didn’t do much thinking about what kind of food we were putting into our bodies. I bought pre-packaged easy to make quick meals. I worked full time and so did my husband. When a recipe had more than 3 ingredients it felt really overwhelming.

Fast forward to having my son… he is allergic to … well.. A LOT. I had to learn to make everything from scratch. I had to learn to read EVERY label. I had to figure out thing like…

Autolyzed Yeast = MSG
Whey Protein = Dairy
Red #40 and Blue Lake dye is NO GOOD
Hydroxytoluene (BHT) = a product also used in jet fuel and embalming fluid
Yellow #5 = derived from coal tar and may contain up tp 10ppm of lead and arsenic
Propylene glycol alginate (E405) = derived from alginic acid esterified and combined with propylene glycol.
Polysorbate 60 = Made of made of corn, palm oil and petroleum, this gooey mix can’t spoil, so it often replaces dairy products in baked goods and other liquid products.
Textured soy protein concentrate, carrageenan, maltodextrin, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, modified cornstarch = All of these are basically different names to hide ingredients that either contain Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) or form MSG during processing

A little scary huh? All of these things are hidden in ALL KINDS of food! Cereal, salad dressing, protein bars… things we THINK are healthy… and these are IN them! And how easy is it to make our own dressing?? EASY! SOO EASY!

The list could go on and on and on. I read labels of everything I purchase. The less I recognize the ingredients, the more I will put it back on the shelf and figure out how to make it on my own. The cool thing is that I have learned that cooking isn’t overwhelming… it’s FUN! I can make my own BBQ sauce, Teriyaki sauce, bread, chicken nuggets, cookies, cakes, pies, ice cream, smoothies… I can do copycat recipes too! Basically what I see in the store and I don’t like the ingredients used to “preserve” or “keep freshness” (like BHT!!) I go home and try to make it on my own. There have been quite a few FAILS… hahaha, but a lot of WINS!

I have learned alot having a son who has food allergies. What’s in your food? What do you have for breakfast? How are you feeding your body? Did you know that if you work out 2 hours a day EVERY DAY and still eat junk all day long… you are NOT healthy?

Once again, I’m going to mention Dietitian Cassie: http://www.dietitiancassie.com/

I have learned a lot just reading her blog! She talks a lot about REAL food!

From http://www.realfoodchallenge.org/about/realfood

Real Food is food which truly nourishes producers, consumers, communities and the earth.  It is a food system–from seed to plate–that fundamentally respects human dignity and health, animal welfare, social justice and environmental sustainability.

Some people call it “local,” “green,” “slow,” or “fair.”  We use “Real Food” as a holistic term to bring together many of these diverse ideas people have about a values-based food economy (see our Real Food Wheel).

This is about more than supermarket labels. The Real Food Challenge has developed an innovative Real Food Calculator, which provides in-depth definitions of “real food” and a tracking system for institutional purchasing.  With this tool, “real food” is broken down into four core categories: local/community-based, fair, ecologically sound, and humane. Click here to learn more about the Real Food Calculator

Also this blog: http://www.foodrenegade.com/the-basics/real-food/

Back in the 1920s, a dentist named Weston A. Price grew dismayed by the rapidly declining health of his patients. Suspecting that the introduction and acceptance of newfangled industrial dietary changes were at the root of this turn for the worse, he traveled the world in search of healthy populations.

He found them.

These people didn’t eat refined sugar or white flour, didn’t cook with vegetable oils, and didn’t eat food canned with modern methods. They also didn’t have heart disease, diabetes, or cancer.

They did eat foods high in vitamins and minerals, animal fats (including butter), and organ meats. And, roughly 60-80% of their diet was enzyme-rich — either fermented or raw. Plus, they prepared their foods according to centuries old traditions.

They ate real food.

We need to be re-educated. We need to think about what’s in our food and what we are putting into our body. They came out with Splenda to get all of us to stop using aspartame… did you know that Splenda is made with chlorine?! I am becoming more and more of the firm believe that the closer my food is to it’s natural form the better. I personally do not want to do the RAW food diet… I like cooked foods… fancier, etc. But I’m not afraid of butter and oil. I’ve stopped counting calories and focused more on REAL and healthy foods.

What happens when I eat too many veggies? If I fill up on a large bowl of fresh vegetables? I am full. I am full of real food and I don’t have guilt.

Now, I am not opposed to grains… and I am going to try and see how I can replace my pastas… cuz those are my favorites! But I am working on using more real foods. I’m going to try to also use the non-refined and white/bleached flours and THINK about what I put into my body. My body is God’s temple, I am going to take care of it the best I can!

Healthy Replacements for White Flour Snacks

It has fortunately become quite easy to replace enriched flour with healthy alternatives, especially with whole wheat flour. But don’t forget that there are other options that can add variety to your meals such as rye, quinoa, millet, and brown rice flour and sprouted grain products.

I like to snack on alkalizing fruits, whether dried or fresh, and sometimes add a few nuts such as almonds or walnuts and some sesame seeds that are naturally high in calcium. Dried fruits mixed with nuts are easy to carry around so you can have a bone-healthy snack anytime of the day.

Check out those blogs! Let me know what you think!

Meal Planning

Do you meal plan?

I do every 2 weeks. I like to plan ahead. I don’t plan what meals are going to be for what nights or anything… but I plan and shop for 10 dinners (sometimes 1 or 2 extra recipes that have similar ingredients to others that I’ve shopped for in case I change my mind) and then I shop for lunches and breakfasts etc for those 2 weeks at a time.

That is why a lot of the things I talk about I say “thaw”. I don’t usually buy and then cook meat the next day. I don’t usually buy fresh and cook THAT day. It’s very rare that that happens. I don’t like to run to the grocery store every day. I’ve got kids… kids that are impatient and don’t love the grocery store. I personally don’t like the germs that come with the touching of the shopping carts!  Ew.

So, every 2 weeks I’ve got my pinterest board that I go thru, delete the ones I’ve already made my own, and re-pin ideas for the next couple of weeks.

Here is my weekly planning board: https://www.pinterest.com/rebeccacain23/weekly-meal-plans/

If you don’t like the online route for meal planning, you can go the route of a paper pad: Knock Knock What to Eat Pad

OR a magnetic white board for your fridge! I’ve done this in the past! Magnetic Meal Planner

My husband and I also just started using the app: “Out of Milk”. You can scan the UPC code on some items so that it can be REALLY specific if you husband needs to pick something up for you! You can specify store, items, how many, average price, and whether or not you have a coupon for it. It also gives you an alert for whats on sale in the area! It’s a very helpful app, and I have it open as I shop so that I only buy what I planned to purchase. It helps keep me from purchasing anything impulsively!

Also, have you ever heard of Mvelopes? There are 2 versions. There is the cash version, and the debit card all online version. The online version, at www.mvelopes.com has a free version and it tracks all of your swipes on your debit cards and credit cards! It helps you budget and track your spending. It will even give you a graph that shows you percentages of where you spend your money! Crazy huh? We took a Dave Ramsey course at our church and it was recommended. I’d say check it out if you’re looking for something to help figure out where all that $$ is going! 🙂

Tonight my husband is still not home and it’s 8p. Sometimes he gets home early, and sometimes he gets home late! I did not feel like cooking a big whole dinner just for myself.. and also did not feel like making dinner at 8p. So, tomorrow is the day a recipe will come!

So, how do you meal plan? What are your tools?? Or, do you just wing it at the grocery store?? Let me know!

And now, for the quote of the day:

C.S. Lewis

Another Pancake Recipe!!!! Also egg and dairy free! :)

Everyone has those nights where they have breakfast for dinner right? I know I do! As much as I cook, I do have those nights where I just need a break!

So last night we had a breakfast night of pancakes and bacon for dinner. Levi, with his food allergies cannot have just any old pancake mix, and I always have to make them from scratch. Doesn’t bother me though, because I like knowing exactly what is being put into it.

These are another recipe that I just tried last night (because I was short a couple of ingredients from the last time I made the previous recipe!):

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  • Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose white flour
  • 3 tablespoons organic cane sugar
  • 2 1⁄2teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 14teaspoon himalayan sea salt
  • 2 12tablespoons margarine (I use smart balance with olive oil… and then I melted it)
  • 34cup water
  • 2 small RIPE bananas mashed
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together into medium mixing bowl.
  2. Melt 2 1/2 Tbsp margarine in measuring cup and add to the dry mixture.
  3. If you do not have a non-stick pan, make sure to grease your skillet first.
  4. In a small bowl, add water and bananas; Mix well. Add vanilla and cinnamon and stir.
  5. Stir liquid mixture into the dry ingredients until it is thoroughly moistened.
  6. It is OK if this batter is lumpy.
  7. Cook the pancakes over medium-high heat on the stove-top (or 375F on electric frying pans).
  8. Cook pancakes until the tops are bubbly and the bottoms browned.
  9. Turn the pancakes over to cook other side (approximately four minutes per side).
  10. Serve hot with margarine, a little honey, pure maple syrup or a little fruit jam!
  11. Actual cooking time will depend on the size and type of pan you use. I had a large skillet and cooked 3 at a time. I had it on medium heat.

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Quote of the day:

Do you love Ina Garten? I do. I love her show and her recipes, and I always get a kick out of when she says to use “good” vanilla, or “good” eggs…. like… I’d hope they aren’t bad!! So I found this quote and laughed so hard! I had to share it:

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Kids Smoothie: Get some fruits and veggies in those picky eaters!!!

So, sadly, I have picky eaters. I don’t know how. I know the technical answer is me…. but I don’t know where it started. When my oldest started eating table food, she would eat ANYTHING and EVERYTHING I put in front of her. Her first Thanksgiving? Literally ate and LOVED everything at the table. Meats, veggies, fruits, and everything in between, she’d eat and love it all. Now? She hates chicken, and most other meat unless it’s in a taco or a VERY thin hamburger. She gags on certain foods I “force” her to try (our kids have to take a no thank you serving of each food prepared). She gagged on this one dish I made, and she LOVES each of the items in the dish individually, but I guess it’s GROSS when you mix them together?!

My son is a whole other story. When he was about 2 1/2 months old, he had a persistent full body rash. I was nursing him and was advised to cut certain things out of my diet. Well, that worked! We found out he has a LOT of food allergies. Some so serious that we have to carry epi-pens every where we go. We have come close to using them on 2 separate occasions, but we are blessed that we haven’t had to so far. When you have a child with VERY severe food allergies, you become hyper vigilant. If there’s even a POSSIBILITY of cross-contamination with that allergen, you don’t chance it. It’s not because you’re crazy, it’s because your child could literally die or end up in the hospital. It’s just not worth it. So, because of that, he does not have a very big list of foods he can eat, much less like. When I get creative in the kitchen and figure out a new dish that he can eat, it takes MANY tries, and little samples before he will start to eat more than 1 lick of it. Currently his list of foods include: Perdue Simply Chicken Nuggets, ONLY the chunks that are LIGHTLY breaded, and they MUST be crunchy, otherwise they are “yucky” and will be thrown to the dog. 2: Hummus. Oh, he ADORES hummus. He can eat about 1/2 cup of it for a snack! I like to stir in some flax meal for a bit of extra protein and omega-3’s. He’ll eat it with his favorite veggies straws, pretzels, tortilla chips, crackers.. heck, he’ll even eat it with his fingers! 3: Mommy’s homemade meatballs. Now, I am being specific here. He USED to also like the ones at Jason’s Deli (he can actually eat them!), but he’s changed his mind. Now they are gross. Also, if he eats mommy’s meatballs too many days in a row, they also become gross. 4: Cereal. He especially loves cheerios, but he really loves cereal with milk. 4: toast with bacon. This is the staple of our mornings. If we do not have Trader Joe’s organic oatmeal bread… it’s a horrible tragedy. It’s a REQUIREMENT for our mornings. We also have TJ no nitrites or nitrates added (these 2 ingredients give him hives… lovely right?) pre-cooked bacon. EVERY SINGLE MORNING. When we went to Disney, we did not get a meal plan with breakfast. It wasn’t needed, I knew all they’d want was toast and bacon. Even if pancakes and waffles were an option, NOPE, just toast and bacon. 5: Sunflower seed butter and Jelly sandwich. A friend of mine clued me in on this wonderful thing called Sunflower Seed butter. It’s literally the only “nut/seed” butter that my son can have, and he really loves it! Thank goodness! I buy mine at Publix or Trader Joes, and it’s a great alternative to PB that we can keep in the house. Of course it does have to go on a very lightly toasted bread. If it is too toasted, it does not taste good as a sandwich, it is toast, and shouldn’t have sunflower seed butter on it. If it isn’t toasted enough it sticks to the roof of his mouth and is also declared “yucky”. 6: Mommy’s baked goods. Mommy  knows these are safe, and tries to make some frequently. Especially banana bread and pumpkin bread. FAVORITES! 7: Waffles. Yup, Trader Joes has some that are acceptable, otherwise Mommy has a great batter that’s safe. 8: We’re working on others. Not a large list, but I’m really trying to get him to try new things. We’re working on daddy’s favorite, tacos, but…. we’re only to 3 small bites and then a “All Done”. So… we’ll get there.

Because of these 2 paragraphs, I have to try really hard to get veggies and fruits in them. It’s insane. I can get them to each take their no thank you bites of their fruits and veggies, and eat their vitamins and probiotics… but I know they need MORE. So, I try to make a smoothie for them! They’ve had one that they really like the past 2 days, so here’s the recipe:

1 ripe banana (mine was frozen. When mine get over ripe, I peel them and place them in a baggie in my freezer for banana bread or smoothies.)
1/4 avocado – also frozen- leftover avocado sliced and frozen for smoothies
10 leaves baby spinach
1/4 apple cored with PEEL ON
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup sorbet of your choice (I used raspberry)
2 baby carrots
1/2 cup water added (or apple juice, up to you)

I blend mine in my Nutri-bullet because it gets really smooth. You don’t want it chunky for your little ones… they won’t like the texture. But when I make this… they LOVE it! They each drank everything I gave them along with their dinner!

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T
he kids with their smoothies 🙂 (Yes, that is a helmet on the table outside the window! lol) And my son is wearing a fake fur hat… it’s adorable!

And now, for the quote of the day:

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