Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Easy 30 minute meals for busy moms

It is that time of the year where the kids are almost done with school and beginning all their summer activities.  Liam is continuing to play soccer and Hannah decided to join him and play in the girls league.  We had our “parents meeting” last week and the kids began practice this week. 

You would think because they are both playing for the same league they would have practice and games on the same day…that is wishful thinking on my part.  We are going to be doing a lot of running around, Liam has practice and games on Mondays and Wednesdays, and Hannah has it on Tuesdays and Thursdays…oh the joys of summer sports leagues. 

After this week of constant running around on top of their school work, they are exhausted and so are my husband and I.  I quickly figured out that if we don’t want to have fast food every day, I need to rediscover my quick 30 minute recipes; we have one hour set aside for eating.  I dug out some of the kids favorite recipes that are easy and can be made in 30 minutes or less.

If you are running around this summer like we are, I am sure you will love these.

Lime Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

Ingredients-
•    1 ½ lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into small cubes
•    4 tbsp. olive oil
•    1 tsp. cumin
•    1 tsp. paprika
•    ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
•    Salt and pepper to taste
•    1 small yellow onion, diced
•    1 clove garlic, minced
•    1, 14.5 oz. can of black beans, rinsed and drained
•    1 cup frozen yellow corn, thawed and drained
•    3 tbsp. honey
•    3 tbsp. lime juice
•    2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
•    Tortillas
•    Any toppings you would like; we use lettuce, cheese, avocado, and some salsa

Instructions-
•    Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
•    Line a baking sheet with foil and spread the sweet potatoes and coat with 3 tbsp. olive oil. Sprinkle the cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper and toss to coat the potatoes.  Bake for 12-20 minutes and let cool.
•    While the potatoes are baking, heat the 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onion and sauté until caramelized.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the garlic, black beans, corn, honey, and lime juice.  Heat in skillet until everything is warmed.  Remove from heat and add the potatoes and cilantro, toss and serve in the tortillas with your toppings of choice.  Enjoy your yummy and quick tacos!


I don’t know any kid who doesn’t like a quick and easy Stovetop Mac & Cheese


Stovetop Mac & Cheese

Ingredients-
•    8 oz. dry pasta
•    3 tbsp. butter
•    3 tbsp. flour
•    1 ¼ cup fat-free milk, heated
•    1 cup shredded cheese of your choice
•    Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions-
•    In a large pot bring water to boil and cook pasta accordingly.  As the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and then add flour and whisk into the butter for about 5 minutes.  Add ½ cup of the heated milk into the saucepan and continue to whisk thoroughly mixing together.  Add the rest of the milk and continue to stir to the constancy of your liking.

•    Reduce the heat and mix in the cheese and cook until melted and smooth.  Pour over cooked noodles and stir together.  Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Caprese Pasta

Ingredients-
•    ½ cup white onion, diced
•    1 tbsp. olive oil
•    2 ½ cup dry pasta
•    1 package grape tomatoes, halved
•    5 fresh basil leaves
•    2 ½ cup water
•    ½ tsp. slat
•    ½ tsp. black pepper
•    1 ½ cup fresh mozzarella
•    2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
•    Chopped basil to garnish

Instructions-
•    In a large skillet sauté the olive oil and onions until soft. Add the pasta, sliced tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, water, salt and pepper, and stir to combine.  Bring to boil and cook until pasta is done and water is reduced.  Top with the mozzarella and over the pan so the cheese melts.  Top with balsamic vinegar and basil.  Enjoy! 

Go green and stay keen,

Julie

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Homemade School Snacks

It is so important to keep my kids stomachs from growling, especially while they are at school learning.  Today Liam and Hannah helped me make some granola bars for them to keep in their backpacks and pack in lunches.  Making granola bars is a fun and easy way to make sure there are good nutrients to keep your kids focused all day long.

Here are three easy granola bars that we made today.  I promise, they are kid friendly!

Chocolate Brownie Granola Bars

Ingredients-
•    1 ½ cup rolled outs
•    1 cup chopped nuts
•    1 cup walnuts- food processed into small pieces
•    2 cups pitted dates
•    ¾ cup cocoa powder
•    ¼ cup natural peanut butter
•    ¼ cup agave nectar

Instructions-
•    Use a food processor and process walnuts until they are in small pieces, add the cocoa powder and process to combine together.  Remove and set aside.
•    Process dates until they are small chucks and have a dough like consistency then add the walnut and cocoa mixture and process.
•    In a large mixing bowl, empty the mixture and add the oats and nuts and stir to combine thoroughly.
•    In a small skillet warm the agave nectar and peanut butter on medium heat until it is pourable and pour over the mixture.  Mix thoroughly, I like to use my hands.
•    Spread in a lined small pan to your desired thickness and press down to compact.  Freeze for about 15-20 minutes then chop into bars. 
•    Store in the freezer or fridge.  Enjoy your brownie granola bars!

Easy Peanut Butter Pretzel and M&M Granola Bars

Ingredients-
•    2 cups old fashioned oats
•    1 cup rice krispies
•    ½ cup pretzels, chopped
•    ¼ cup mini M&M’s
•    4 tbsp. butter
•    ¼ cup honey
•    ¼ cup peanut butter
•    ¼ cup brown sugar
•    1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions-
•    Mix the oats, rice krispies, pretzels, and mini M&M’s in a large bowl.
•    In a medium saucepan melt the butter, honey, peanut butter and brown sugar and bring to a boil then simmer on medium for about 2-3 minutes constantly stirring.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.  Pour the mixture over the oat mixture and stir together until everything is well combined.
•    Pour the mixture in an 8x8 inch lined pan and press and pack everything down.  Sprinkle extra M&M’s if desired and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, remove and cut.
•    Store in the fridge.  Enjoy!

Easy 30 Minute Granola Bars

Ingredients-
•    2 cups old fashioned oats
•    1 cup brown sugar
•    1 cup whole wheat flour
•    ½ tsp. baking soda
•    ½ tsp. baking powder
•    1 tsp. cinnamon
•    1 tsp. salt
•    1 tsp. vanilla
•    ½ cup honey
•    Any dried fruit or chocolate chips you might have on hand

Instructions-
•    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
•    Mix all the ingredients and press into a greased 11X13 pan.  It will be crumbly but press down really hard until a little resemblance of dough forms.  Bake for about 20 minutes until the edges are lightly browned.
•    Let cool and cut into bars.  Enjoy!

These are my “growling” fixes.  What are your favorite granola bars?

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Easter Bunny Bait

It is almost Easter!  Although it is not one of our favorite holidays it is a sure sign that spring is coming and I couldn’t be more excited.  A few weeks ago we all decorated the house with bright colors and eggs; it is amazing how bright decorations can really bring a sense of cheerfulness into a home.  Today Liam and Hannah decorated some eater eggs and made “Easter Bunny Bait” so that the Easter Bunny will bring them their baskets tomorrow.


I found this recipe years ago and use it all the time because it is so easy and delicious.  If you need to entice the Easter Bunny to hop to your house, here is the recipe for Easter Bunny Bait.

Ingredients-
(the M&M’s, peanuts, pretzels and sprinkles can be changed to other candies or have more of one than the other depending on your sweet tooth preference)

•    1 package white candy melts
•    10 cups air popped popcorn or 2 packages of micro-wave popcorn
•    1 ½ cup pastel M&M’s
•    1 ½ cup salted peanuts
•    1 ½ cup twig style pretzels, I break them in half or thirds to have more
•    Multi-colored sprinkles

Instructions-
•    In a large bowl mix the popcorn, M&M’s, peanuts, and pretzels.
•    In a glass measuring cup microwave the candy melts, checking and stirring every 30 seconds until it is fully melted.
•    Pour the melts over the popcorn mix and immediately stir coating the mixture.  Add the sprinkles and continue to mix.  Dump mixture on a flax surfaced covered with wax paper and let cool and harden.  Your Easter Bunny will like your bait!

Liam and Hannah has so much fun making the bait, although they did eat a good portion of it while mixing…  I think they had more fun getting messy and painting eggs.  We always wait until the day before the dye eggs and I always realize on that day it is a bad idea; the kids have dyed hands for Easter.  It makes for interesting photos.


Hannah, as always, got really creative using jewels, stickers and sparkles to decorate her eggs.  They were beautiful.  Liam on the other hand was dipping them and painting them with all the colors…they turned out “delightfully Liam beautiful.”  I have to laugh when they do crafts together, they are so opposite. 
 
Hope you had fun decorating and getting ready for Easter!

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie

Friday, January 12, 2018

Busy Times Call for Crock Pot Dinners - 3 Recipes

The kids are getting back into the swing of school now and the restaurant is busy as ever with the start of the New Year!  We usually have a boost in customers during the first couple months of the year because of the New Year’s resolutions, but I am not complaining.  I love hearing from new patrons how they are going to try eating healthier with more plant based meals.  =)

Although I love being busy, it has been a little difficult getting dinner ready in time for the kids and my husband so I have been making a lot of crock pot dinners.  I love that I can get everything ready in the morning or afternoon and by the time for dinner I just have to finish the recipe and serve it.  Crock pot and slow cooker recipes have been my lifesaver over the week.  Here are some of my family’s favorite slow cooker meals.

Squash Lasagna

Ingredients-
•    2, 10 oz. package of frozen winter squash puree, or fresh ;)
•    1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
•    1, 32 oz. container of ricotta
•    6 cups baby spinach
•    16 oz. box lasagna noodles
•    About 2 cups mozzarella cheese
•    Salt and pepper


Instructions-
•    Mix the squash and nutmeg in a medium bowl.  In another bowl mix the ricotta, spinach, ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper.
•    In the slow cooker spread about ½ cup of the squash mixture, top with a layer of lasagna noodles.  Split the remaining squash mixture, noodles, and ricotta; layer and top with mozzarella.
•    Slow cook on low for about 3-4 hours, and enjoy!

My kids favorite, Extremely Easy Cheesy Mac n’ Cheese

Ingredients-
•    1, 16 oz. package of elbow macaroni
•    ½ cup melted, butter
•    1, 12 oz. can evaporated milk
•    1 cup milk
•    4 cups shredded cheddar cheese…(I like using Ragu Double Cheddar sauce as well)

Instructions
•    Cook the macaroni and drain.  Combine all the ingredients in a greased slow cooker and cook on low for 3-4 hours.  Enjoy the cheesiness! =)

And my husband’s favorite, BBQ Tofu.  I serve it with French bread and usually a veggie side for a wonderful easy meal.

Ingredients-
•    2 containers of firm tofu, pressed
•    1 ½ cups ketchup
•    3 tbsp. brown sugar
•    2 tbsp. soy sauce
•    1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
•    1 tbsp. red pepper flakes
•    ½ tsp. garlic powder
•   broccoli and/or your favorite vegetable
•    Salt and pepper

Instructions-
•    Combine all the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 5-6 hours.  SO EASY and delicious! Enjoy!

Slow cooker meals are so tasty and extremely easy.  I definitely do not mind having them often!  Happy slow cooking!

Go green and stay keen,

Julie

Monday, November 06, 2017

Best Things to Cook in November

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As much as I love October, November has so much to offer and so many delicious vegetables and fruits in season.  Root vegetables are some of my favorite vegetables to prepare and are in their prime.  They make for great rich and flavorful soups and stews.  I still get to use pumpkin in my recipes but I also love using other root veggies to create rich fall flavors. 

Here are some of the best fruits and vegetables that are in season…varying depending on where you are: apples, artichokes, arugula, bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, cranberries, dates, endive, garlic, kale, leeks, potatoes, pumpkin, radishes, rutabaga, squash, sweet potatoes, turnips, and watercress just to name a few.

Chili is one of my favorite fall meals and it is so easy when you make it in the slow cooker.  Here is my recipe for

Slow Cooker Chili



 Ingredients-

•    ½ tbsp. olive oil
•    1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
•    4 cloves garlic, minced
•    1  chipotle chili, chopped
•    2, 15 oz. cans of dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
•    2, 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
•    2, 14 oz. cans of diced tomatoes
•    1, 15 oz. can of light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
•    1, 4 oz. can chopped green chilies
•    1 cup of beer
•    2 tbsp. chili powder
•    1 tbsp. ground cumin
•    1 tsp. salt
•    1 tsp. sugar
•    ½ tsp. black pepper
•    Toppings if you want, I like to use shredded cheddar cheese, sometimes tortilla strips, or sour cream

Instructions- 

•    Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker and stir to combine.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with desired toppings and enjoy your perfect November fall chili!

I love roasting squash this time of the year.  It has such a unique taste that is prefect for fall and November!  Here is a wonderful way to roast a squash:

Spicy Roasted Herbed Squash 




Ingredients-

•    1 large acorn squash, seeded and sliced
•    3 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
•    3 tbsp. brown sugar
•    1 tsp. chili garlic sauce
•    ¼ tsp. salt
•    ¼ tsp. pepper
•    4 oz. crumbled feta
•    1 tbsp. chopped basil
•    1 tbsp. chopped cilantro
•    1 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano

Instructions-

•    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and place the sliced squash on a lined baking pan.
•    Mix the coconut oil, brown sugar, and chili garlic sauce together in a small bowl.  Pour over the squash slices and sprinkle the salt and pepper over the top.  Roast for about 20 minutes, move the slices around and roast for another 20 minutes. 
•    Remove from oven and sprinkle the feta, basil, cilantro, and oregano over the top.  If there is any extra sauce over flowed on the baking pan, put it on the squash.  Let cool a bit and serve your wonderful roasted squash.

Just in case that recipe didn’t satisfy your roasted squash fix, here is a delicious recipe for

Parmesan Roasted Squash





Ingredients-

•    2 small acorn squashes, sliced in large chucks and seeded
•    ½ cup heavy cream
•    8 sprigs of dried oregano
•    ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
•    Extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste and drizzle

Instructions

•    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and place the sliced squash on a lined baking pan and season with salt and pepper.  Spread the heavy cream and herbs evenly on the slices.
•    Bake for about 40 minutes until the squash is tender.  Remove from the oven and top with the parmesan cheese and place back into the oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden.
•    Remove from oven, drizzle with olive oil and enjoy another wonderful roasted squash!

November is such a great time to bake and make some delicious fall food.  I consider October and the beginning of November the preparation for Thanksgiving!
 
Hope you are having a great November!

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween

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Happy Halloween all you ghosts and goblins out there!  I love Halloween so much, but this year feels a little different.  We usually have a big party for Hannah’s birthday that is Halloween themed but because she wanted a movie party so we didn’t have our typical party.  We certainly made up for not having a party this past weekend.

One of my husband’s friends had an adult’s only Halloween party at his house on Saturday.  It seems like it has been so long since we went to a party without the kids.  We were lucky, we didn’t even need to get a sitter because both Liam and Hannah were both invited to different friends’ houses for their own Halloween parties.

We weren’t very prepared when it came to the costumes…all the years focusing on the kids costumes, we forgot how to dress ourselves.  I didn’t really want to buy anything so I searched the web for some good ideas.  I found a cute robber costume idea that we had all things needed, except black hats.  It ended up looking great, we both wore black and white striped shirts with black pants, black hats, and we made money bags.  I loved it!

The party was so much fun and it was awesome seeing everyone else dressed up and having a good time.  My husband’s friend really decked out the whole house.  I have never seen a house transform so much for a party.  My favorite decoration was a coffin cooler for the drinks.  He built it in the shape of a coffin and lined it with tarp and cooler stuff.  It was incredible!

We had so much fun at the “adults only” Halloween party.  It was great to let loose and have a good time, thank goodness for taxis!  I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween weekend and have a great Halloween today!

Have a Spooky Halloween!

Julie

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Freezer Friendly Meals for the Busy Mom

It is about that time when we are going to pick right back up into our busy schedules with the kids back in school, a busy season in the restaurant and my husband has a few business travel trips coming up.

There is nothing worse than having boring and repetitive meals.  Being busy is nothing new to our family’s life so I have figured out how to make meals that only take a few minutes to prepare.

My answer to busy schedules, cooking ahead of time and freezing.

Cooking up a big batch of something and freezing the leftovers make great weeknight meals.  There are so many things that freeze well and can even save a few dollars when you double or triple the batch.  Not to mention, freezing perishable items means you waste less!

recipes of freezer friendly meals
Freezer Friendly Meals

Today I made two batches of soup for this week and an easy breakfast, it is going to be a busy week for sure!  Here are some great recipes that freeze well and work great as weekday meals!


Chickpea and Coconut Tomato Soup

Ingredients-
1, 400g can of chickpeas
1 can of tomatoes
250ml coconut milk
1 red chili, chopped
1 small piece of ginger, grated
1 shallot, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Zest from 1 lemon
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
3-4 cardamom pods
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley to garnish if desired

Instructions-
In a large pan heat the olive oil, onion, garlic, ginger, and salt and pepper.  When the onion is beginning to brown add the chili and sauté for a couple minutes.  Add the rest of the spices and zest and stir together thoroughly.
Add the tomatoes, cook for about 3-4 minutes then add the coconut milk and continue cooking for 5 minutes.  Finally, add the chickpeas and cook for about 3 minutes.  Divide and store in freezer containers and either freeze or enjoy right away or both!

Cheese and Veggie Egg Muffins

Ingredients-
About 1 ½ cup shredded carrots
½ cup diced orange bell peppers
½ cup frozen peas
½ cup frozen corn
8 large eggs
About 12 tbsp. shredded cheese of your choice
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions-
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
Spray cooking spray on a non-stick 12 cup muffin pan making sure it is all thoroughly covered.
In a large bowl mix the carrots, peppers, peas, and corn.  Divide the mixture in the muffin pan filling them up about 2/3 of the way full.
In another bowl crack the eggs and whisk them adding salt and pepper to taste.  Divide the egg mixture in the muffin pan as well.  Top each muffin section with a generous amount of cheese.
Bake for about 18-20 minutes and let cool before removing.  Divide and eat or freeze and save for a delicious and healthy breakfast.

Do you freeze meals to have during a busy week? I would love to know what you freeze, I am always looking for new recipes to try with my family!

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie

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