Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cool Overnight Oatmeal

Becca here with a recipe that's a perfect start for these days that are starting to be warmer.  It's been well documented here on the blog that I notice my children and I have a better start to the day with a good, hearty & nutritious breakfast, but I'm not naturally a "morning person," And with four little ones that usually all need help with something first thing in the morning, diapers to change, etc. plus the chickens, rabbit, cat, and dog that all need fed also, getting a good breakfast for five on the table (before 9:00 anyway :) can be a bit of a challenge.  I had actually seen a similar recipe to this overnight oatmeal in a magazine and thought I saved it, but then we moved, and I hadn't been able to find it, so I was super excited when my friend Analucia brought me a recipe she'd picked up at Whole Foods and thought I'd like it, for overnight oatmeal!  It literally takes minutes to mix up the night before, and would be perfect for a child to help with (or do on their own)!  The end result the next morning is super creamy, and has tons of possibilities for flavor, varying the type of dried fruit, or even leaving it out entirely to top with the fresh fruit that will be available soon!  The first time we had it my kids weren't sure about having 'cold oatmeal' but the second time they were expecting it, and enjoyed it even more!  My adaptation of the recipe will serve my four kids (with big appetites especially now that we live on lots of land!) and I twice.  My personal favorite combination is to use dried mango, and unsweetened, dried coconut!  Enjoy!

Cool Overnight Oatmeal

4 cups old fashioned oatmeal (not quick oats!)
4 cups milk (I normally use coconut or almond milk)
1/2 cup chopped, dried fruit (or leave out, and top with fresh fruit just before serving!)
1/2 cup chopped nuts or unsweetened, dried coconut

In a large bowl with a lid, stir well to combine all ingredients.  Cover, and refrigerate overnight.  May be served cool (our preference!) or warmed.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Roasted Veggie and Bacon Quinoa Bowls!

Hi everyone!  Are you on Instagram?  I am and love it!  I follow several ladies who always post the tastiest looking food.  The good news is it's always real food!  Not something processed that will taste good for a minute and then give you a tummy ache.  One of the sweet ladies I follow has six boys! Can you imagine?  I cannot.  She posted a recipe one night that she had made up herself and I decided to make my own version for our family.  I wish I could properly tell you how good this bowl of food is.  I mean, it's really good.  I could go for one right now!  It's also very easy to throw together and I like that.  
This bowl of goodness is a mixture of quinoa, roasted vegetables, cheese, and crumbled bacon.  All drizzled with balsamic vinegar!  If you are really big on watching calories you could always leave the bacon and cheese out and I still think it would taste delicious! (but seriously, you should try it with the bacon and cheese)

For the quinoa I used this box which was a mixture of quinoa and brown rice and also came with a seasoning packet.  A bit more processed than we usually do here so next time I think I'll just buy plain quinoa and season it myself! 

Roasted Veggie and Bacon Quinoa Bowls
1 bunch asparagus
2 or 3 sweet potatoes
Grated parmesan cheese (the real kind, not the shaker processed kind)
Balsamic Vinegar

Preheat the oven to 420 degrees.  Chop or dice the asparagus and sweet potato and roast 'till slightly crispy.  

Cook bacon and quinoa while the vegetables roast. 

After vegetables are done, assemble the bowls.  Put quinoa, sweet potato, and asparagus in bowls first, then top with crumbled bacon, cheese, and as much balsamic vinegar as you like! 

I hope you enjoy this! My little girls and husband really liked this meal too! 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sweet Peach Muffins

Jana here with a great Summer muffin to try!  I have frozen peaches that I prepared when they were in season last year. I thaw those, and use them in this recipe. But you can use canned peaches, or fresh as well! Using the amount of ingredients I have listed below, this will make about 18 muffins. I like to make a big batch like this, and then put them all in the freezer. It's a great way to pull out the number you need each morning, and not have any muffins go bad. I found inspiration for this recipe here.

Sweet Peach Muffins

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 - 2 1/2 cups peaches, peeled and diced (with most of the juice drained)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare muffin tins by spraying with oil or spreading a thin layer of butter.

2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, and salt until well blended.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla extract.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until combined. Fold in the peaches.

4. Divide the batter between 18 muffin tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until tops are golden brown, and a toothpick inserted comes out without batter.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Cereal Box Art

Happy Monday everybody!  Welcome to another week.  I posted todays idea on my personal blog this week and someone suggested that you could make this an Easter craft so I thought I'd share here!  Do you save your cereal boxes?  I always do because it is such a large source of cardboard for painting, drawing, and mess making.  One idea in particular I like to do with cardboard boxes is cut shapes out of them and then paint them!  For todays idea I cut out circles from the box and then went to work painting them, layer after layer.  

I used the items pictured below to stamp some interesting designs on the circles and then doodled on top of the dried circles with a white pen.  

If you cut more of an oval shape instead of a circle these would make the perfect easter eggs for your kiddos to paint on this week!  The circles (or eggs) could then be glued or sewn together to make a garland, attached as tags to goody bags, or glued onto a mat to make a piece of art. 


Friday, April 11, 2014

Skillet Popcorn

Jana here with another quick and easy way to make popcorn!  Becca posted her microwave version of homemade popcorn, using a brown paper bag when we first started our blog. Today I wanted to give you another option of making your own popcorn at home!  This popcorn is ready in minutes, tastes 'fresh', is much healthier, and cheaper than microwave popcorn you buy at the store. You can season this in so many different ways once it's cooked too!

Skillet Popcorn

1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of your choice of oil on high heat. (coconut oil works great, or olive/vegetable/coconut oil)

2. Put 2-3 kernels of popcorn in the skillet, and stand nearby. When you see that those kernels have popped, add 1/3 cup popcorn kernels to the skillet, and COVER.

3. Allow the kernels to pop until you can go 3-5 seconds without hearing any popping.  Then, remove from the heat.

4. Season with garlic salt, season all, or any combination of spices you would like.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sausage, Bean, and Spinach Stew

Becca here with a great hearty stew.  It's early Spring in Arkansas here, meaning that some days are really warm, but we still get a few really chilly, damp days from time to time.  I fixed this stew on one of those brisk days, and it was a winner in my book - fairly inexpensive, quick, healthy, and tasty.  With the Italian Sausage and spinach, it reminded me a bit of another of our favorite soups, Tuscan Soup, but the addition of beans and subtraction of milk makes it different also.  My inspiration recipe, that I deviated from quite a bit, was from a Rachael Ray magazine our Grandma had passed on to me after she had read it.  She suggested squeezing fresh lemon juice in at the end, just before serving, which I'm sure would be good, but I didn't try. 

Sausage, Bean, and Spinach Stew

1 pound dried great northern beans
8 cups chicken broth or stock (I use homemade usually :)
1 onion, peeled & diced (I used purple)
2 carrots, diced (I didn't peel, just coined them)
2 ribs of celery, diced
8 cloves of garlic, diced if you prefer
20 ounces of Italian Sausage, already cooked (I browned in a skillet)
16 ounces of raw spinach leaves

Combine all ingredients, except spinach, in a large slow cooker (mine is 6 quart).  Cook on high about 3 1/2 hours, or until beans are tender.  Just before serving, stir in raw spinach leaves, cover, and let stand until the spinach wilts, about 10 minutes.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Messy Outdoor Kitchen Play

Time to jump into another week (I can't believe we're already two days in!).  The spring time is just the most wonderful time.  I love the days when it's warm enough to go outside and spread our wings a bit.  I was preparing the menu and the activities I wanted to do with the girls and was actually smart enough to look at the weather forecast and plan accordingly. I knew today was supposed to be nice so I decided to set up a messy outdoor kitchen with "ingredients" (one of Anna's favorite words)
 This mess will frighten some of you, but hear me out.  
I put empty containers (cans and plastic containers...I always, always run these through the dishwasher and save them for play time, the sandbox, etc.), and "ingredients" on top of a cardboard table.  A.K.A. a diaper box turned upside down. 

The ingredients we used were flour, sugar, coconut, and baking soda to mix with white vinegar.  
I set everything out and let the girls do their own exploring, mixing, and experimenting.  They added some flowers, grass, and wood chips from the yard to their concoctions.  
 I showed Anna Ruth and Betsy Grace what happened when we poured vinegar into the baking soda and they squealed and loved it.  After that Anna did all the pouring, but Betsy didn't seem to mind. 

I kept a close eye on them and made sure to remind them several times that no fingers were allowed near their eyes or in their mouths.  They didn't try it, even once!  

Both girls played together with this little set up and that did my heart good. 

I love to see them learning to use their imaginations!  This took very little prep and was something that they were so, so excited about.  The clean up was easy too!  I turned the box back over and filled it up with the disposable items.  The rest got carried in to rinse off! 

There's really something to this homemade playtime...
play matters.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Cheeseburger Quesadilla

Jana here with a recipe that's not 'fancy', but is definitely yummy!  When I'm meal planning, I start by thinking of the meat/protein that I want my meal to have. Then, I decide on accompanying vegetables, etc. So one night I knew I wanted ground beef (or turkey/venison) for our meal, but wanted something new and different. I saw this recipe on Pinterest, and decided it was definitely worth a try!  These were very good, and we will be having them again and again!

Cheeseburger Quesadillas

1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup real bacon pieces or chopped bacon
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
4-6 large tortillas

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onions, and allow them to cook for 5-7 minutes. (until transparent) Add the beef, and cook until no longer pink.

2. Add the Worchestershire sauce, ketchup, and bacon to the beef. Stir in the salt and pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Allow to simmer for several minutes.

3. On a large baking sheet, place the tortillas. Place some of the beef mixture on half of each tortilla, then top with shredded cheese. Brush the top of each tortilla with oil.

4. Bake for approximately 15 minutes.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Trick "Eggs" {Great for April Fool's Day}

Becca here with a fun recipe that is a family tradition at our house.  And yes, I know April Fool's Day was yesterday, but I've been meaning to post this for a couple of years and keep forgetting, so now you'll have it to remember for next year's April Fool's Day, or to really surprise your kids with a fun trick some other random morning!  I first made these several years ago, and they were such a huge hit with the kids, that I've continued to make them every year.  My oldest two kids this year remembered and were SO excited to see the breakfast again and thought it was super fun.  My 3 year old didn't remember or realize that it wasn't an egg, and commented that it was a REALLY big egg he got for breakfast this morning, ha!  Perfect, and my older ones loved giggling, and being in on the joke.  My baby (who just turned 1 year old, so technically isn't a baby anymore :( was just happy to get a plate, she loves to eat!  Anyway, this is a super simple way that really looks realistic.  I've used apricot halves in the past also, but I don't think they look as realistic in color.  I use Stonyfield Organic French Vanilla yogurt, that's my favorite kind anyway, and I think it has the perfect texture for making a fake egg.  Let me know your kids' reactions when you make them these 'eggs' for breakfast!!  Enjoy!

Trick "Eggs"

Per person -
1 canned peach half (a large can has about 8)
4 ounces of yogurt (my favorite for this, texture & color, is Stonyfield Organic French Vanilla)

Using a large spoon, place the yogurt onto a plate in one big pile.  Use the back of the spoon to smooth it out a bit, in a kind of oval shape.  Keep it thick, because placing the peach 'yolk' on top will flatten it some also.

Drain the peach halves well.  Use another, clean, large spoon to carefully place the egg onto the yogurt.  I try and put them a bit off center, like a real egg :)

Adding breakfast meat or ham makes the meal look even more authentic!  Enjoy!

We also had our traditional (and the one time a year I buy any sort of boxed jello product or gummy worms :) flower bouquet 'dirt cup' pudding with crumbled oreos and gummy worms for dessert.  I've done this different ways in the past, in little terra cotta individual cups (lined with foil!) and with fake flowers, hidden worms, etc. but this year I went simple and used one large container and flowers out of our yard.  Such a simple thing, but something the kids love and look forward to as one of "our" annual family traditions.  I usually do meatloaf muffins with mashed potato 'icing' on top dyed with beet juice, we're still getting into the swing of things from moving a couple of weeks ago, and Tuesdays are my most difficult to get dinner on the table days anyway, so that will have to wait; I told the oldest kids that asked about it, that it would be an even bigger 'fool' when I do it later in April, since they won't be expecting it, and they were, fortunately, excited about that.  What are some of your favorite family traditions?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Easy Fish Tacos

Hi everybody!  I have an easy, tasty idea for dinner for you!  I have seen several recipes for fish tacos that always seem to require more time and ingredients than I'm willing to sacrifice.  So I came up with an easy way to make my own!  The assembling of the tacos is really the longest part!

To make these I purchased some frozen fish fillets from Wal-Mart.  I defrosted them and then seasoned them with Cavender's.  Next I cooked them in the electric skillet in some extra-virgin olive oil until the insides were white and nice and flaky.  

To assemble the tacos I layered the fish with some broccoli slaw (purchased in the produce section) and homemade tartar sauce (light mayo, lemon juice, and sweet relish) and wrapped them in a corn tortilla.

Easy and so delicious!