Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Beef and rice casserole

This is a casserole that I tried tonight.  The original was in $5 dinner mom's book, but I altered it a good deal.  I debated cooking the rice alone before hand and really should have.  I have never had good luck with cooking rice as part of a casserole in the oven.  This was no exception.  It was perfectly done in the corners after it's hour, but crunchy in the middle.  I stirred it and put it back in.  In the end it ended up overdone.


  • 1 lb ground beef (I used a container of my pre-cooked
  • 1 Tablespoon dehydrated onion
  • 1 1/2 cups white rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes with green pepper and onion, undrained
  • 1 Tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic mix (McCormick has one I like.)
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 

  1. Place everything except cheese in a 9 X 13.  Stir.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 1 hour.  (took more like 1 hour 20 minutes (maybe 1.5 hrs.)  Uncover, top with cheese, bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.  
Next time I'd make the rice in a rice cooker with the Italian seasoning and garlic herb mix (maybe half of each??) Then combine cooked rice with other ingredients (adding a can of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes.  This had a great flavor, I just thought a bit more tomato would make it a bit more like a spaghetti or something 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Apple bars

Here are this Sunday's easily portable breakfast - although we were all actually ready on time. :) I made no changes to this other than using larger apples - I used 1 medium large macintosh? that I had left over and 1 small red delicious. Supposedly these freeze well, so the left overs are currently in my freezer as a grab and go breakfast bar. The original said to cut them into 24 bars - I only cut 18 and liked them that size. These were different from last week's bars.  Last week's were an oat based bar similar to a granola bar.  These were more like a cake - no oats.
If you want to find the original it is in $5 dinner mom's breakfast and lunch cookbook page. 104.

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Cucumber sandwich with chickpea summer salad

More lunch ideas from $5 dollar mom's breakfast and lunch book. (see page 172 and 253 for complete recipes)  I really liked the cucumber sandwich and they were super easy. It was just half a package of cream cheese with 1 teaspoon minced garlic and some dill (1-2 teaspoons?) Spread that on the bread and top with cucumbers. I cut mine in half lengthwise then deseeded them and chopped them into 1/2 moons.
I wasn't as big of fan of the chickpea salad. It was just chick pea onion, red pepper and cucumber. Maybe if it only used 1 can of chickpeas?? Nope, I probably still wouldn't like it. I'm just not a fan of chick peas. They are great in hummus, great in my favorite chocolate cake, but a bit dry of a texture for me to enjoy them as the main bean in a salad. I do however think I would like this salad with another bean substituted. It was just a Tablespoon of vinegar and of oil with a bit of garlic mix (I used a garlic salt that had a few herbs in it. The original called for twice the oil but I really have an aversion to my food feeling oily, so I used only 1 Tablespoon. I was totally fine with that.)
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Tomato basil quiche

I think this is the first or second quiche I've tried. I'm sad to say I was disappointed. The recipe is from the $5 dinner mom's breakfast book. p60.  I liked the flavor of the tomato and the basil, but I cooked it 15 minutes longer than it said to and it was still a bit too soft for me. Brandon liked it just fine, so it gets 3 stars - 4 from him and only 2 from me.
  I also had trouble with the crust - it didn't roll smooth, transfer easily or anything nice.  Just troublesome.  I totally should have used the home made pie crust I had in the freezer.  Anyway, I'd also probably add a bit more flavor to the egg mix - like some garlic mix, and maybe cut out 1/2 cup milk to make it less soft.  I do want to try more quiches.  I am intrigued by them.  I actually bought mini muffin tins today so I could try some of the mini ones I've seen around.
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Apple dijon pork roast

This is a pork roast from the $5 dinner mom cookbook. (page 166)  Super simple - set it in the crock pot and mix apple juice, apple sauce and dijon mustard and pour it on top. She called for a little water in the bottom of the crock pot but I used apple juice. I was sadly disappointed that this was a bit dry because I had a thermometer in it. When it hit temp I turned it off, but I didn't take it out of the crock and it kept cooking. Lesson learned - take it out next time. Boo. I was very excited that I had actually paid attention.
Here it is served.  I added this one because i liked the potatoes served with it.  I just Sauteed them in a Tablespoon or 2 of olive oil with 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning and a bit of garlic mix, salt and pepper.  I had to add a bit more salt at the end, but I really liked how they turned out.

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egg tortilla casserole

Here is another item I made from the $5 dinner mom breakfast cookbook. This one is on page 56. My only change was to use 3 burrito sized tortillas rather than 6 soft taco size. This was a fine casserole, but took twice as long to cook as the book said. I never like that, but especially at breakfast when I'm really hungry. :) While I liked this meal just fine, I think I would have preferred to just make some breakfast burritos. It would have been much faster and easier. I just remembered I used 1/2 salsa and 1/2 taco sauce - mostly because I'm not a huge fan of the salsa I have right now. I'm still not posting the recipe because it did take a very long time to cook, and like I said, I would have preferred egg burritos. Maybe someday I'll expand on the idea - add some diced red pepper or something, but for now, this is all I'm posting.

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chili-cornbread cups

These weren't on my menu, but I didn't put whatever I had on my menu in the slow cooker, so I flipped through the book and found these. I decided to sub out the 1-2 Tablespoons chili powder with 1 teaspoon chipotle powder and it was way too spicy for me. I made another chili which was way less spicy, but I was still not impressed with the chili. I did however like the cornbread mixture on top. I doubled it, but I also doubled my chili. If I try these again I would do my 3 bean chili on the bottom and this corn bread on the top. I liked that it had more cornmeal than the recipe I normally make. Oh, I did sub out truvia for the sugar. I used 2 teaspoons of Truvia. OK, I'll post the cornbread recipe.
Here is a link to a picture of her corn bread cups - looks like her chili ended up saucier than mine - that would have been nice as well. The original recipe is on page 146 of the book.
The labels - mostly rating are for the cornbread and not the chili.

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  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 4 teaspoons truvia
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Just mix it all together and pour over chili - next time I will make these in my larger baking flour pots.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  25 minutes worked for my muffin tins and my smaller flour pots (pictured above)  I think it may take a bit longer for the larger pot, but I guess it would depend on how thick I pour the bread.

Baked apple brown rice pudding

I'm very proud of the fact that we didn't have cold cereal at all over spring break - homemade breakfast every day. This was yet another recipe I tried. It was pretty good. I followed the recipe except that I doubled it and put it in a 10 X 13 pan. It is also from my $5 dollar dinner mom cookbook. No surprise there lately. :) Page 48.  I'm not sure I'd double it again though.  I had a lot of left overs and they didn't keep well - picked up fridge flavors or something.  I did only have them in the pan covered with plastic wrap.  Maybe a better container would work  better.  I also would have liked it better if it would have been more pudding like.  This wasn't very smooth or anything and the egg seemed to separate and end up mostly on top - not that it tasted like egg or anything.  It really was pretty good day 1.  It may have also been better fresh.  I did make it the night before because it had to cook for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, and it took the longer time in the larger pan.  

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tuna wraps (faux sushi)

Here are some tuna wraps I tried for a different lunch. They were supposed to be spicy - I didn't do that. These were a little faux sushi type wrap. I think sushi would have been easier to roll and cut, but these were a nice change.
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  • 2 5-6 oz. cans light tuna, drained
  • 1/3 cup low fat mayo
  • 1 teaspoon tabasco sweet spicy sauce
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 4 burrito sized tortillas or wraps
  • 1 bunch watercress leaves
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot cut into matchsticks (I just quartered a bunch of baby carrots this day.)
  1. Mix tuna mayo and tabasco in a bowl.  Combine rice and vinegar in another bowl.
  2. Spread 1/4 of the tuna mix on one side of the tortilla.  Spread 1/2 cup rice on the other side of the tortilla.  Make a line of carrots on one side of the rice and a line of avocado on the other.  Top with watercress leaves.  Roll up tightly and cut into pieces of about 2 inches or so.  Serve with soy sauce if desired.

Black bean brownies

Here are some black bean brownies from $5 mom's cookbook. The recipe is also on her website.  My second batch are currently in the oven. I did some things different this time which I will include in the instructions. Good changes. The first time I used 1 cup sugar, 1 cup splenda. This time I used 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 cup agave. I was wanting to add a bit more moisture because I thought they were a bit dry before. I may try subbing out some sugar for Truvia next time or something. I'll finish writing this up after this batch comes out. I may even get a better pictures. :)
This batch definitely came out better.  Not so dry.  I did a couple of things different.  I added the milk to the beans in the blender and pureed together.  That helped the blender not to stick and I got a much better smoothie consistency.  I also used mini chocolate chips and not as many of them.  I still didn't get the type of crisp top she has in her picture - probably the subbing of sugars??  Check out her page - she has lots of pictures.  I'll re-type it with my adaptations - I'm going to write down the sugar/agave method since it gave me a  better consistency brownie.

  • 3 cups cooked black beans (I just used 2 15 oz. cans rinsed and drained.)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used fat free)
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup agave
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Coat a 9 X 13 pan with cooking spray.  
  2. In a blender, puree black beans with 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup milk until nice and smooth.  (I actually used my bosch last night and had bread kneading on the mixer side so it ran for 4 minutes - it was nice and smooth.)
  3. Pour puree into a mixing bowl.  Add sugar, agave and vanilla and mix well.  
  4. In a separate bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add to the wet ingredients and mix.  Stir in coconut and chocolate chips.
  5. Pour into the 9 X 13 pan and bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  (The first time I made these -without agave - 1 cup sugar and 1 cup splenda - they were done and a bit dry in 45 minutes.  Last night I left them in the full 55, and the toothpick still looked moist, but I think it was just chocolate chips because the brownies were done. - I probably could have taken them out after 50.  Either way, they aren't as dry as last time.)

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Rosemary orange chicken

This is another recipe from $5 dinner mom, but this one from the dinner book. It was super simple - Toss a chicken in a crock pot with 1/2 cup water (I skinned my chicken probably should have waited until it was cooked, but I wanted the seasonings on the chicken not the skin. Anyway, slit an orange, stuff it inside the chicken with a few sprigs rosemary. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Cover with the juice of 2 more oranges. You can see I tossed in a few sprigs of rosemary. The original directions were for 8 hours on low I didn't put this in until later in the day so I put it on high and figured I had 4 hours. It was overdone after 3.5 hours. So, definitely put a thermometer in it or something. The dark meat was still nice and juicy, but the breast was very dry - orange rosemary was a decent flavor though.
She served this with mashed sweet potatoes and peas. I actually liked the mashed sweet potatoes and I only put a little butter and little salt and pepper in them. I'll have to make those again.
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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Baked Oatmeal with pecans

Here is another one from $5 dinner mom's breakfast and lunch cookbook. I don't think I changed anything on this one, so I'm not going to post the recipe. It is on page 39 of her book. It was pretty good. Not overly sweet. Really you could pick it up and eat it. I thought it would be good with a drizzle of syrup - the kids had theirs that way -except Tavio who got ahold of the syrup bottle himself and ate his with a pond of syrup rather than the light drizzle I imagined (and served the other boys.)
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Peanut butter chocolate cream of wheat

Here is another recipe from 5$ dinner mom's breakfast book. I didn't make changes, but basically, just follow the directions on the box of cream of wheat adding 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 Tablespoons peanut butter and 1/2 cup chocolate chips.
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Liberty's wheat bread

This recipe is from my friend Liberty. I have had it before and it was delicious. I was not nearly as successful in my application. I was really hoping this worked better because it doesn't use a ton of gluten, and she only does one rise in the oven, turns it on and cooks straight from there. I think I let it rise a bit too long. It wasn't over an hour or anything, but they caved. Anyway, I actually also prefer the flavor of my bread. I did sub out some agave for her molasses, maybe that made the difference, but as you can see by the pic. it wasn't the greatest. :(

5 Cups warm water
2/3 cup oil
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup molasses
4Tblsp. yeast
1 cup puree beans
2 Tblsp. salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. vital wheat gluten, (If using a Hard Red Winter Wheat use 3 Tbsp. of vital wheat gluten)
12 1/2 cups wheat flour

Knead 10 min. cut into 5 loaf pans greased
oven rise for 30 min. and bake at 350 for 30 min.
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Quilt square toasted cheese

I was teaching pre-school and we were studying the letter Q. This was a cute little idea that I saw somewhere -make quilt square grilled cheese. The kids decorated them. (Surely you can tell which one is mine and which belong to the 4 year olds.) They had fun. I would have loved to use different colors of cheeses, but all I had was white cheddar.
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Salmon with Maple-Grapefruit Sauce

This is a recipe from my Sandi Richard's cookbook. I made it back in march, so I can't say if I changed anything. I'm pretty sure I used less Mrs. Dash than called for, but I actually found the Sambal Oelek than she calls for in a lot of her recipes and used that. It was way too spicy for the family. However, I liked the rest of the grapefruit sauce. I would love to try this again and use maybe 1/4 of the chili sauce, or just add some heat with a tiny bit of chili powder or something, definitely not a full teaspoon of the chili sauce. Until then I will refrain from posting the recipe because like I said it, I don't think I actually changed anything. It is on page 106 of the book if you happen to have it - Great book. I highly recommend it. 
 For me this was a 2-3 star -just too spicy.  Brandon really liked it though.
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Apple Walnut Pork

Once again I've gotten a bit behind on my blogging - it has been spring break, so I've had the big boys home, and we've taken advantage of the time to work in they yard, get some scout stuff done, and have a little fun.  I've also spent a lot of time cooking.  This past week we've had home-made breakfast every day and a planned  lunch just about every day.  Most of the recipes have come from the 2 books I have checked out of the library by $5 dinner mom.  I'll be posting some that I edited and others will just get a picture and a page number.  Honestly I've loved the 2 books.  I'm going to buy both, and even get one for my sister for her birthday and possibly one for my mom.  Great book.  I love her website too, and her facebook.  She sends out adds and coupons.  Anyway, wonderful accidental find - I was just searching cookbook in the library book search on line and these popped up on the first page so I requested them.  Wonderful find.

I chose to post this recipe because I was pretty impressed by the way it resurrected some pork that I probably would have tossed.  I couldn't really call it a 5 star the way we ate it, but with better left over pork I'm sure it could  be.  I also did some things different than the book so I wanted to write that down as well.

This was a great use up left overs to make something new dinner.  I had some brown rice already cooked.  (I had cooked extra for rice pudding but had more than needed, so I still had more of that.  I also had the left over pork.  Between the 2 all I had to add was a couple of ingredients and a veggie.  Honestly I even have honey that is old and needed to be be used up.  Enough of how much I liked using my left overs.  Here is how I made this


  • 4 cups left over brown rice
  • 1 pound left over cooked, pork, shredded
  • 1 large Granny smith apple, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups apple juice (approximately)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups veggies
  1. Add diced apple, 1/2 cup apple juice, honey and walnuts to a large skillet.  Saute for 4 to 6 minutes until the juices reduce.  Add the shredded pork and stir into the sauce.  Add 1/2 cup more juice, stir to combine.  Simmer until reduced.  Add another 1/2 cup juice, stir to combine and simmer until reduced. (I added the extra juice because my pork was particularly dry -add juice as you feel it is needed for your roast.  If you have a good and juicy roast, you may only need the original 1/2 cup.)
  2. Place 1/4-1/2 cup apple juice to the rice and reheat on the stove or in the microwave.
  3. Make your veggies.  (I made some asparagus by sauteing them in a little bit of butter with garlic mix and salt for 5-6 minutes.)
  4. Serve apple walnut pork with apple rice.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

White chicken lasagna rolls

This recipe is from the saving dinner basics book I have out from the library.  It was pretty good.  There was a sweetness about the filling that I really liked.  I can only figure it came from the croutons.  I really wished I would have just bought shells to stuff.  Would have been easier than manicotti, but it was ok.  It did not have any sort of sauce, and that for me was sadly lacking.  I took one bite and it was definitely missing something.  I defrosted a sauce and put on the top of this and then it was good.  Brandon says it was a sauce that was given to us, but I really think it was just frozen pizza sauce.  Whatever it was, it made this plenty tasty.  I did have extra filling, but my package of manicotti only had 14 or 16 shells and it called for 18.

Here is how I made it.


  • 1 package manicotti noodles - or jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped 
  • 3 carrots (mine were medium small), finely chopped (I tossed my celery and carrots in the food processor)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 cups 
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 15 oz. containers ricotta cheese.  
  • 1 1/2 cup seasoned croutons (Mine were large and I couldn't imagine stuffing them in manicotti shells so I tossed these in the food processor to chop into smaller bits.  I had small bits and crumbs.)
  1. Cook noodles according to package directions, drain.
  2. Preheat oven to 400.  Grease a 9 X 13 pan.
  3. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Cook celery, carrots, tomatoes and garlic in oil for 5-7 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Stir in chicken and broth.  Cook 5 minutes or until broth is evaporated.  (I actually kept adding broth because I was slowly adding the chicken and it kept evaporating faster than I wanted it to.)  
  4. Stir remaining ingredients into chicken mixture.  Fill cooked noodles.  Set in baking pans.  Bake uncovered 10 minutes.  Serve with sauce.  
Try this pizza sauce super simple to whip up while the chicken is in the oven.  Then heat it up.

bean quesadillas

Here's a super simple lunch idea that I got from $5 dollar mom's book.  I didn't use some oil she called for, and I didn't add any salt and pepper - you may want to, but everyone thought these were great just as they were.  She suggested a avocado, corn, black bean salsa which I also made.  I wasn't as big of fan of the salsa - it definitely needed the salt and pepper I left out.  :)  I added a bunch more salsa and salt and pepper when Brandon got home and it was much better.
So, the quesadillas were really good.  Tavio griped that he wouldn't want a bean quesadilla, and even less if it had ANY salsa in it ... Then he tried one.... and wanted more.  Benjamin tried one and still wanted just plain cheese.  I really liked them.
Just made these again and used 2/3 cup salsa and 1/3 cup taco sauce.  Good that way too.


  • 1 15 oz. can black beans
  • 1 15 oz. can kidney beans
  • 1 cup salsa (I actually had a little less just because I ran out of 1 container and didn't open another)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I used 1 sharp cheddar, 1 mild cheddar)
  • 4 burrito size tortillas
  1. Rinse and drain beans.  Combine beans, salsa and cheese in a bowl.  
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Spray with cooking spray.  Place 1 tortilla in the pan and top with 1 cup of the bean mixture -keeping beans to 1 side.  Fold the tortilla in half over the beans and heat on one side until nice and crisp.  Flip and heat the other side.  Serve.
I made the black bean avocado salsa by combining the following ingredients
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 2/3-3/4 cups salsa
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 avocado, diced
Just mix all the ingredients in a bowl until well combined.

Strawberry cereal bars

9/20/14 - note to self - add chia (ground or whole) to the strawberry middle to add nutrition and thicken it.
Yet another recipe from the $5 mom cookbook.  Of course I had to change it some - subbed out some applesauce for butter and upped the fruit a bit.  I was a bit worried they wouldn't cook well or something, but they were great, and I actually liked the pieces that had extra fruit, so I think I may even add more next time.  It was so sloppy adding the top with a thicker layer of fruit that I even debated cooking down the sauce some next time, but after eating them this morning, I'd just make more, add it and let them be sloppy.  They cooked up well and the extra sauce was just absorbed into the upper crust giving it more flavor.
I thought they tasted fine - nothing spectacular, but really nice for a Grab and Go breakfast - home made, no preservatives, I  wasn't griping.  However, the kids seemed to really like them.  I had requests from Tavio and Benjamin to eat another one for lunch when we got home from church.  That can't be a bad thing right?


  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I may have actually added about 1 T more - that is just what I had in my wheat grinder bucket and it seemed silly to put 1 T away)
  • 2 cups rolled oats (I used quick cooking)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (one container) no sugar added strawberry flavored applesauce (or regular applesauce)
  • 1-2 cups strawberries (I have about 1 1/2 cups frozen.  Thawed and smashed it was almost 1 cup.)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Coat a 9 X 13 glass dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.)  Cut in the butter and add the applesauce.  (I tried to cut in the butter with my pastry blender, but the butter was softened and it didn't work as well.  I got lazy and used my hands.  With my hands I could have just added the butter and applesauce at the same time and mixed.
  3. Prepare filling by smashing strawberries with a fork.  Mix in sugar and vanilla.  (Or just blend it all together in a blender - I was just lazy and didn't want the extra dishes - plus I didn't mind a thicker sauce.  I used frozen strawberries and just thawed in the microwave and stirred/smashed each time I took them out to check if they were done.)
  4. Add about 1/2 of the oat mixture to the 9 X 13.  Press into the bottom of the dish to make the crust.  (I found this worked best with my hands - particularly my palms - the book suggests the bottom of a measuring cup or back of a large spoon.)  Pour the strawberry filling on the crust.  Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture evenly over the top and press lightly to form a top crust.  
  5. Bake for 30 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack before cutting.  
I made these the night before and cut them in the morning.  I cut them into 16 bars.  Most of us had 2 for breakfast.  It seemed like a small breakfast, but they were surprisingly filling.  Very good.  
The author suggested serving these with a hard boiled egg.  I'm sure my kids would have liked that, but I'm not a fan.  I had mine with a glass of milk and thought it was a wonderful breakfast.
You can also change the fruit to make different flavor bars.  I made strawberry, and happened to have the strawberry applesauce in the pantry - whole thing worked out very well.  I'm sure other fruits like apple or blueberry would definitely have to go into the blender.  Since the kids liked these so well, I will definitely be making them again.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pineapple coleslaw

This is the cole slaw that I tried with our lunch.  It was pretty good.  I didn't add salt that the original called for, and I changed directions to only use 1 bowl.
I liked this cole slaw.  It was different.  I thought it had a great fresh taste, and was nice and sweet since it had no vinegar in it.  I liked that.  Wonderful quick side for a different veggie.


  • 1 bag (14 oz.) coleslaw mix (mine was 16 oz. - I just didn't use it all - didn't want it to be dry - probably could have used it all - it got juicier as it sat.)
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained, juices reserved
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice (1 small lime)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • Pepper
  1. In a medium-large mixing bowl, mix pineapple, mayo, lime juice, sugar, and 4 Tablespoons of reserved pineapple juice and pepper.  Add coleslaw mix.  Stir to combine.  

Mandarin chicken salad sandwiches

I tried these for lunch today.  Brandon and I both thought they were ok.  The boys didn't like them.  I only added 1/2 of the ginger it called for, and I would probably half it again if making this again.  Other than that they were fine.  I liked that they had fruit and veggies mixed in.  I served this with a pineapple cole slaw.


  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1 can mandarin oranges, juice reserved (I used a 15 oz. can, but didn't add all of the oranges)
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (I'd go less next time)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • a couple of grinds of pepper
  • 8 slices wheat bread (This made more than 4 sandwiches for us -We made only 4, but had left over.)
  1. Mix mayo, 2 tablespoons reserved mandarin oranges juice, ginger, sesame seeds, garlic powder and pepper in a medium bowl.   Add the celery, chicken and oranges and stir until combined.
  2. Serve as sandwiches on bread.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Creamy Mexican cooker pork stew

Here is another one from the saving dinner basics book I checked out of the library.  This one actually had some strange directions -I didn't follow them particularly well -got everything done much quicker that way.  I also added the corn - it was a pretty plain stew with out it.


  • 1 1/2 pounds pork loin cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dehydrated onion (original called for green onions, but I didn't have any - that is one change I didn't make on purpose and probably wouldn't next time.)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 2/3 cup half-and-half
  1. In a skillet, brown pork on all sides over medium-high heat.  Transfer to a slow cooker.  Stir in chicken broth, garlic, onion, oregano and salsa.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8.  
  2. Towards the end of cooking time, turn temperature to high (if not already there)  Add the corn. 
  3.  Combine flour and half and half, mixing until smooth.  Gradually stir into stew.  Heat through.  (I put the lid back on and made quesadillas.  

Overnight honey nut granola

Yet another good recipe from my new favorite cookbook.  I was guessing the granola would be ok, but that I would love the way it was made again, but actually I also love the granola.  So tasty.   It's probably just sweeter than my normal granola.  I did cut the oil down in the recipe, and had absolutely no problems.  It is perfectly crunchy, makes wonderful clumps and tastes great.  Definitely a keeper - oh did I mention how easy it was to prepare?  I didn't even have to stir it while cooking - super simple.
I did make one on a silicone baking mat and one not - loved the baking mat - the granola came off in perfect clumps just by picking it up off the cookie sheet.  So nice.  (I had to scrape the other pan off with a spatula.)  The only thing I didn't like was that my baking mat was a bit bigger than my cookie sheet.  If (more like when) I buy another one I'll make sure look on amazon or something and find one that is the same size.

So, here is the recipe the way I made it.  Super simple. -I've updated this to include coconut oil and optional ingredients I have added on occasion.  I've also been known to add another cup of oats and add less nuts if I don't have 2 cups or don't want 2 cups.


  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil -I now use coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 5 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • other optional ingredients - 1/3-1/2 cup ground flax seed, unsweetened coconut, raisins....
  1. Preheat oven to 300.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, honey, vanilla and cinnamon.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, and pecans.  Pour honey mixture over oat mixture.  Stir until evenly coated.
  4. Spread evenly in a thin, single layer on 2 ungreased rimmed baking sheets (If you have them, I'd line them with silicone baking mats - or parchment would also work and be nice.)
  5. Bake for 10 minutes.  Turn off the oven and leave the granola in the oven overnight.
  6. In the morning remove the granola and serve.
How easy is that.  I love that it was just ready in the morning.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pizza popcorn

So for dinner today I made a roast in the crock pot, but he cut of meat I bought turned out to be just horrible, and I really wasn't feeling like eating the beef.  Add to that the fact that Brandon took Duncan and Tavio to the Y, them to M2C (A meeting with dinner included) and I really didn't feel like trying to get 2 little boys to eat a roast I didn't even feel like eating - not to mention the fact that I would have to still come up with some sides for it.  Soooo, I decided for one of my sides I'd try this pizza popcorn - then I thought hmm I'll have smoothies too - get some fruit in, That is what we ended up eating.  I don't know if I'm a bad mom or not - at least Mr. Picky 2 year old ate dinner (not the smoothie - he won't even try them because he is a total goober.  :)
Anyway, I only slightly changed the recipe and I'm glad I did.  I definitely wouldn't have wanted more pepper.  I really liked the way it was.  My only complaint is that the seasoning didn't stick very well to the popcorn.  Maybe next time I'll try the powdery parmesan.  Today I used actual parmesan that I grated from a block because I had some that needed to be used up.  Both little boys also liked the popcorn and ate it all.  However Benjamin did say it was spicy (I think more of as an excuse to need more smoothie than anything, but whatever.)
Here is how I made it - the original came from $5 dinner mom.  Awesome book!


  • 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt (mine was actually a garlic salt mix (+ herbs or something light)
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon pepper.  (I was still using my 1/2 tsp, but filled it under 1/2 way full, but more then 1/4 full.)
  • 8-10 cups popped popcorn (I just make 1/2 cup kernals.)
  1. In a blender, blend the Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, garlic salt and pepper for 1 minute.
  2. Add freshly popped popcorn to a large bowl and sprinkle with the cheese/herb mix until coated.  (I actually tried spraying with a butter flavor popcorn spray and sprinkling to get the stuff to stick to the popcorn, but it kept falling to the bottom of the bowl.  Not sure how to solve this problem in the future, maybe the powdery Parmesan - then you wouldn't really need the blender either??  I will probably try that next time.  Definitely one to try again.


vanilla brown rice pudding

I have tons to blog today.  Lets see if I can get it all done and not fall behind.
I started the morning with vanilla brown rice pudding.  I still had some brown rice left over from the other day, so I decided to try this version.  Unfortunately for me I did not have any milk.  Luckily I had evaporated milk which I substituted.  While it was tasty, I prefer the other brown rice pudding I make called rizogalo.  I just like the lemon in it.   However, I loved the application of this recipe - simmer in the milk first, mix just egg white with milk and pour that in... I didn't have any trouble with cooked egg, and I didn't have to temper it first which can get messy.  I also didn't have to sit there and stir, so great application - I think I will use this method making the rizogalo in the future.  The recipe is from my new favorite book $5 dollar mom breakfast and lunch cookbook.
I hate when I forget to take a picture until I have the left overs in the fridge - at least I remembered then.  :)

Here is how I made it


  • 4 cups cooked brown rice (I had a bit more - 4.25)
  • 2 cups milk (I used 1 full can of evaporated skim milk and then a cup of water - but I saved 1/4 cup for the 1/4 cup called for later.)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (original had twice as much, I'd rather put more cinnamon and may next time.)
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/4 cup milk
  1. In a large saucepan, stir together rice, 2 cups milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Bring to a boil and let cook at a rolling boil for 5-7 minutes (I think I could have added more liquid even and done this a bit longer, but then again my rice had been in the fridge a couple of days and was a bit dry.)
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together egg white and 1/4 cup milk.  Stir mixture into the cooking rice.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Serve
Her serving suggestion with these was pumpkin smoothies.  I did make them but no one really cared for them.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chicken, vegetable and bean soup {slow cooker}

This original recipe idea came from the new saving dinner basics I checked out of the library.  I just changed it to use up some veggies I had.  Turned out great - kids liked it.  I always forget they like soup.  (Except Aaron who didn't try it at all even though I separated the chicken, beans and veggies.  Go figure.)
I liked that it used dried beans.  I'm always trying to become more proficient at using dried beans.


  • 1 cup dried great northern beans
  • 2 green onions (I just tossed them in to use them up.)
  • 1 Tablespoon dehydrated onions
  • 5 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon pepper (I used my same teaspoon and filled it just under half way.
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1 - 1.25 lbs)  mine went straight from the freezer to the crock pot.
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 can Italian style diced tomatoes (undrained)
  1. Soak beans overnight  - or if you are me and always forget to plan ahead, - toss them in a bowl covered by 1 to 2 inches of water and microwave for15 minutes.  Drain and rinse beans.  (I chopped my veggies while my beans were in the microwave - got everything ready in the 15 minutes it took.)
  2. In a slow-cooker, place carrots, green onion, celery, dehydrated onion, parsley, thyme, marjoram, pepper, and garlic.  Place beans and chicken on top of veggies; Pour chicken stock on top.  Cover with chicken stock.  (I made sure to push my chicken down to be covered by the stock because it was frozen and I wanted to make sure it cooked well.  I also came back after a couple of hours and split the 2 breasts in half.)
  3. Cover and cook for 8-10 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high.  During the last 30 minutes, shred the chicken and add the diced tomatoes.  Cover and let cook last 30 minutes then serve.  (I really only let it warm up for 10-15 minutes.  We were eating between soccer and scouts.  :)

Dutch baby with berry syrup

I got a new book at the library the other day.  I love it!  It is called The $5 dinner mom breakfast and lunch cookbook.  I think I will have to buy this one.  It is full of fun breakfast ideas including how to make your own oatmeal packets, ways to make pre-mixes so that everything can be made quickly in the morning and things that can be made in the crock pot overnight.  I can't wait to try them.  She also has a website which looks like fun as well.  I checked it out too.  www.5dollardinners.com.  So I tried my first recipe from the book today.  It was quite tasty.  Really it was just a German pancake, but I did like the syrup - just berries and honey.  I didn't blend mine in the blender - just smashed them with a fork - easier cleanup.  I also cut the butter by a couple of tablespoons and don't think it would be hurt by cutting out 2 more tablespoons.  It had tons of butter on top.  I did like it cooked a bit longer than the original said.  I did take out 2 pieces and feed the big boys after 25 minutes because they had to go to school.  I then put it back in the oven and cooked it for another 15-20 minutes - should not have done the last 4 minutes, got the top a bit too toasted, but it was still good.  What surprised me is that it filled the pan back up again.  (see the second picture)  That kind of cracked me up.
This is how I made it today.


  • 6 eggs (I used 4 eggs and 1/2 cup egg substitute because I had it and wanted to use it, and it is a bit healthier.)
  • 2 cups milk (I used skim)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
Syrup ingredients
  • 2-3 cups berries - I used frozen strawberries
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  1. Spray a 9X13 pan with cooking spray.  Place butter in pan.  Put the pan in the oven and pre-heat to 400.  (butter will melt while pan is preheating - original just called for melted butter, but I make peach puff pancake this way and it seemed easy so that is what I did.  Worked out perfect.)
  2. While the butter melts and oven heats, whisk eggs (and egg substitute if using) in a bowl until frothy.  Add milk, flour, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt.  Whisk until batter becomes smooth.  Take the pan out of the oven and pour the batter over the melted butter.  Return to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes (I'd say it would be better for about 35 minutes.)
  3. I made the syrup by microwaving my frozen berries until nice and mushy.  Then I smashed them with a fork and added the honey.  (the book had you make the sauce in the blender.)

Japanese noodle dinner

6-I made this for dinner a couple of nights ago.  It comes from saving dinner basics which I checked out of the library recently.  I did make some changes which really means I should have typed this up when I made it, but I think we went to the Y and I didn't have time.  I left out 2 Tablespoons of oil in the sauce, and added a bit more noodles, which made it a tiny bit dry (the sauce) I think I'd add a bit of water or something to the sauce next time just to add some more moisture, but other than that it was great.  My other changes were just changes in veggies to have a few more.
This was a super quick meal.  The noodles cooked super quick.  The only thing that took any time was cutting up the veggies, but then it was only a bell pepper and some green onions.  The whole meal was made in under 30 minutes using pre-cooked chicken.
Here is how I made it.


  • 6-8 oz. angel hair pasta (I used 8 for my family, if making for less than 6 people, I'd use only 6)
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons peanut butter
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon ginger/garlic  (from a jar by the chopped, jarred garlic - its minced ginger and garlic)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 sweet pepper (red, yellow or orange) chopped in strips
  • 6 green onions Slices
  • 2 cups broccoli florets (I just used frozen for speed)
  • 1 package pre-cooked chicken (or 1 - 1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast cut into stir fry strips)
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  1. Cook noodles according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl combine vinegar, peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger/garlic, (and possibly 1-2 Tablespoons of water if using 8 oz. of noodles)
  3. In a large skillet or wok, heat vegetable and sesame oil over medium high heat.  Add veggies - cook and stir until crisp tender.  Add pre-cooked chicken and cook for a minute or 2 to heat through(If using regular, take out the veggies and cook the chicken, then add the veggies back in and warm them back up.)  
  4. Add the noodles and sauce.  Heat through.  Serve on individual plates.  Sprinkle with cashews.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Chicken and pasta skillet dinner

This recipe is from an old cookbook I pulled back out this week called the Super So fat, low fat, no fat cookbook by Betty Rohde.  It usually has pretty good recipes, and they are guaranteed to be healthy.  I was actually a bit worried about the cabbage in this, mostly because we just had a cabbage dish yesterday, but because the cabbage was shredded, and because there were only 2 cups, it was really not very noticeable.  My  5 yr old did keep pulling out pieces asking what they were thinking they were onion, but no one else seemed to even notice them.
As far as a rating on this one, I liked the concept, but thought the execution lacked a bit of flavor.  The breaded chicken was good and added a nice flavor and texture to the casserole, and I liked that it sneaked in a lot of veggies, but I thought the flavor of the sauce was a bit bland.  This would be totally fixable and this could make a great meal, I would just suggest at least doubling the basil, oregano, and Italian seasoning, and maybe even the tomatoes.  I also would not use stewed tomatoes next time.  I just ended up chopping them with my spoon.  I would use a can of diced tomatoes and/or a can of crushed tomatoes. With those changes this could become a great meal (ok, to make it great, I'd probably serve the peas on the side.  Something about them mixed in makes it impossible for me to call it "great!"  Even if my 5 yr old had fun "hatching" his peas. :)  Here is how I made it with a bit of commentary to change for next time. -I did veer from the original directions a bit.


  • 2 cups pasta (I used tri-colored rotini)
  • 1 29 oz bag breaded baked chicken pieces
  • 1/2-1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 orange pepper, chopped (could use any color pepper)
  • 1 14 oz. can stewed tomatoes (Use diced and/or crushed next time)
  • 1/2 tomato can water (I started with this amount and ended up adding more.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil (use at least 1 tsp)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (My tomatoes were no salt added)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano (use at least 1 tsp)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning (use at least 1 tsp - maybe more)
  • 2 cups cole slaw mix (or shredded cabbage - I was just making it quicker.)
  • 1 cup frozen peas (I like the petites)
  1. In a medium saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, saute the onions in butter, add the celery and bell pepper.  Cook until starting to soften.  While that is cooking, put the nuggets on a paper towel and microwave for 1 minute.  Add to the veggies.  Stir to combine.  
  3. Add tomatoes, water, basil, lemon pepper, oregano, Italian seasoning and salt.  Simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add the cabbage and green peas.  continue simmering, stirring occasionally until veggies are desired doneness.  
  4. Stir in pasta and heat through.


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