Sweet potato pancakes.

sweet potato pancakesWell, I’ve done it. I actually managed to get my child sick of one of her favorite foods in the world. Looks like Pancake Friday wasn’t such a great idea after all… So in tribute to the demise of Pancake Friday, I give you my final pancake recipe for awhile.

Now, for the record, these Sweet Potato Pancakes were not the straw that broke the camel’s back. They were amazing. My husband’s cousin asked for the recipe & they were a hit at her house too! These are perfect for fall, & just sweet enough with syrup & a dusting of cinnamon & brown sugar.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups mashed baked sweet potatoes (about a tuber & a half)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used whole)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted & cooled
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  1. Sift together dry ingredients.
  2. Add remaining ingredients & mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Heat a griddle on medium heat & grease with cooking spray.
  4. Drop 1/4-cupfuls of batter onto hot griddle & cook until edges are set & bubbles begin to form. Flip & cook until both sides are golden.
  5. Serve topped with maple syrup & a dusting of cinnamon & brown sugar.

Adapted from here.

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Pumpkin Apple Cream Cheese Streusel Muffins. Intensely delicious.

Fall is always the most depressing season here in Florida. While friends in other parts of the country & world are posting on Facebook about cooler temperatures, fall leaves, & sweaters, I’ve been in flip flops since February & my A/C is still blaring 24 hours a day. I miss seasons. I miss jeans! It wouldn’t hurt to come home from a run not dripping with sweat either…

So I try to will Fall here to the subtropics from my kitchen. Today’s post is my hail-Mary, 4th-&-goal, “It’s Fall, gosh darn it!”

muffinsThese muffins are intense. Amazing. Fall in a mouthful. And you know what? It worked! We’ve been soaking in torrential rains since Monday afternoon, & the temperature on my dashboard actually started with a 6 this morning! 69 degrees! It’s FALL in Florida!!!

…until it dries out & both temps & humidity go back up to the 80s for at least another month. But you know what? I just wore jeans two days in a row! In September!

Here’s how to bring Fall into your kitchen:

Muffins:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (use the rest of your can to make these & thank me later)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chopped peeled apples (about 1 1/2 apples. I used Braeburns because they were on sale.)

Cream cheese layer:

  • 6 oz. cream cheese, room temp
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Streusel:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 5 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into small cubes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 & line 2 muffin tins with papers. (Yield is about 21 muffins)
  2. Make muffin batter: whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a smallish bowl, mix together pumpkin, eggs, & oil. Mix wet ingredients into dry until incorporated. Stir in apples. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.
  3. Cream cheese mixture: in electric mixer bowl, blend ingredients until smooth. Place a heaping teaspoon on top of batter in each cup.
  4. Streusel: using a pastry blender or 2 forks, cut ingredients together until they form a coarse crumb. Easily the most time-consuming step; I personally have a love-hate relationship with streusel (love to eat it, hate to make it), but trust me, it’s worth it.
  5. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Optional: top with glaze when cooled (1 cup powdered sugar mixed with 2 Tbsp. milk). But they are insanely delicious without, let me tell you!

muffinLinked up at TidyMom

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Easy Baked Chicken. 5 minutes of prep. Yes, really.

I know all of you moms can relate to this:

When my little one was first born, everything had to be done one-handed &/or at lightning speed, or screaming would ensue. Including dinner. I didn’t think most of my go-to recipes were that time-consuming until I had The Witching Hour to contend with. So I started looking for meals that took literally 5 minutes of prep. They could sit in the oven all they wanted, but hands-on time was at a premium.

Mother-in-law to the rescue!

chicken prepThis easy dinner is adapted from her recipe, and literally takes 5 minutes, especially if you have a bigger kid on hand to crush the crackers for you. The amounts are approximate because I just kind of wing it every time–feel free to do your own improvising! I serve it with seasoned brown rice, which takes longer to cook, so I start it before the chicken. The rice recipe is at the bottom.

  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers
  • 1 Tbsp. parmesan
  • up to 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • about 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 chicken breasts
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Place the crackers in a Ziploc bag & use a rolling pin to crush them into fine crumbs. Pour into a shallow dish. Add parmesan & garlic salt; stir to combine.
  3. Place sour cream in another shallow dish.
  4. If desired (especially if you’re short on baking time), cut chicken breasts in half.
  5. Coat one piece of chicken in sour cream, then fully coat in crumb mixture. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken.
  6. Bake 15-20 minutes or until done in the middle (this is why I cut mine in half; they get done quick & don’t burn).
  7. Serve with seasoned brown rice (below) & salad or fruit.

dinnerSeasoned brown rice

  1. Make brown rice according to package directions, to yield 3-4 servings.
  2. 5 minutes before it’s done, add about 1 Tbsp. butter, up to 1/2 tsp. garlic salt, & about 1 Tbsp. dried parsley.
  3. Serve with chicken.

What are your favorite no-time-flat dinners?

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Whole-wheat blueberry pancakes.

whole wheat blueberry pancakesFriday night has become pancake night at our house. The girls love their pancakes, & it makes my meal planning easier knowing that pancakes will always be that night. But pancake night brings with it 2 challenges: 1) How not to get sick of the same recipe every week, & 2) How to make a carb-heavy meal hearty & healthy. So let’s just say you’ll probably be seeing lots more pancake recipes on here in the future… (If you haven’t seen my banana walnut pancakes yet, go there now. I’ll wait. You can thank me later.)

The base of these whole-wheat blueberry pancakes is remarkably similar to those banana walnut pancakes. It has me thinking that I could probably interchange fruit mix-ins with very little changing of the recipe! Once again, I’ve subbed some Greek yogurt into the original recipe for added protein, & flaxseed for fiber, omega-3s, & general awesomeness. If you still have blueberries in your grocery store, hurry & make these before you have to wait until January for the Chilean ones!

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp. flaxseed meal (pour into a 1-cup measuring cup, then add flour below)
  • 1 cup (minus 2 Tbsp.) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (make by adding 1 Tbsp. white vinegar to a 4-cup measuring cup & filling with milk to the 1-cup line & waiting 5-10 minutes before adding remaining liquid ingredients)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted & cooled
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • extra milk for thinning batter (about 1/4 cup)
  • blueberries
  1. Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  2. Combine liquid ingredients in a large measuring cup, then pour into dry ingredients & stir gently until just combined (batter will be lumpy). Stir in milk to reach desired consistency.
  3. Heat a griddle on medium to medium-low heat, then spray with cooking spray. Ladle 1/4-cup portions of batter, then sprinkle several berries in each (extra points from your Munchkins for smiley faces). Let cook until bubbles form in the batter & edges are set, then flip & cook on the other side a few more minutes or until golden brown & done in the middle. Because the batter is relatively thick, a lower temperature for longer may be your best bet.
  4. Repeat with remaining batter & berries, spraying the griddle between every batch or two.
  5. Serve immediately as desired (with additional berries & some cream, or just with plain old maple syrup). Extra pancakes can be frozen & reheated in the toaster.

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Lunch bag: Healthy No-Bake Peanut Butter Balls

peanut butter balls

My 4-year-old’s preschool asks parents to pack healthy snacks that feature at least 2 food groups. This being my first year packing anything resembling a school lunch, of course I’m going over the top looking for fun, healthy snack ideas she’ll eat. This has been my first great victory: they’re easy, she loved helping me make them, they travel well, they’re not messy, & even My Husband The Suspicious Of Anything Labeled “Healthy” gave them his stamp of approval.

  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup Rice Krispies
  • 1 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing gently to not crush the cereal, until well coated.
  2. Use a tablespoon or soup spoon to scoop out tablespoon-sized portions & roll them into balls between your hands. Place them on a parchment- or waxed-paper-lined cookie sheet.
  3. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. You can serve them now, or place them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer to portion out in your kids’ lunches. They’ll keep a week in the fridge or a few months in the freezer.

Original recipe here.

Linked up at Mommy Solutions

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Baking Birthday Party!

Congratulations to “semicrunchymomma,” who wins the Estelle headband from Guavaloo for her little girl! Thanks to all who liked & shared!

birthday girl

This darling girl turned 4 this summer, & she told me back in JANUARY (she plans ahead like her mama) that she wanted a “baking party, with cupcakes & pizzas & chef hats.” What fun!

dessert table

I had a field day with my cricut’s cupcake font for the “happy birthday” banner & these fun chandelier hangings my husband suggested:

chandelier

I also used the cricut to freezer-paper stencil custom “Chef [name]” aprons for each of the kids. Kid-sized apron & chef hat sets were around $5 each from Chefskin on Amazon. I kept the party small–8 kids total–to keep cost & chaos to a minimum.

This fun garland was just cupcake papers of different sizes & colors randomly threaded onto embroidery thread with an embroidery needle!

cupcake paper garland

While we waited for everyone to arrive, the chefs colored their very own restaurant menus…

menu 1menu 2

…drawn by the very talented Sister Alison Bowe, a missionary currently serving in our ward! (I enlarged them to 11×17 for the kids.)

menu 3As the menus said, once the kids were all there & dressed as chefs, they got to make pizzas. Our local Grimaldi’s donated the dough, & “Chef Dad” tossed it pizzeria-style before the kids “decorated” them, in the birthday girl’s words.

pizza
Tasty!
pizza 2Then they made fruit, yogurt, & granola parfaits. So that not ALL of the party food was junk.

parfait makingFinally, the part everyone was waiting for: decorating cookies & cupcakes! With like 6 different colors of frosting & more than a dozen kinds of sprinkles, what could go wrong?

cupcakes and decorationscookiesTurns out, not a whole lot. Luckily all of the parents stuck around to help out, which minimized the mess, & the kids took their decorating very seriously!

decoratingdecorating 2The birthday girl loved that she got to decorate her own birthday cupcake!

candles(I used this beet red velvet cupcake recipe. Had to counteract all that sugar somehow, right? See what a conscientious party host I am?)

Each kid got to decorate 4 cookies & 2 cupcakes. They ate 1 of each at the party, & the rest went home in these cute treat boxes from Michael’s, finished with baker’s twine & a darling tag.

favor boxWhat a fun time we all had! Special thanks to Ursula Borrack for capturing such sweet photos of this sweet party!

Shared at Tater Tots & Jello

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Picky Eater Survival Guide.

Don’t forget–you have until Wednesday to enter to win a free custom headband from Guavaloo!

When I was a new mom, I swore I would never be a short-order cook who made something different for every family member. I’d make one delicious, nutritious meal after another, & my whole family would love it. I was blessed with a toddler who at least tried anything, & I thought I was well on my way to being the next Catherine McCord.

Then that toddler turned into a 4-year-old. Apparently 4-year-olds think all food* is poison. And I got another toddler who learned at a shockingly tender age what a hunger strike is.

*Except pizza, pancakes, PB&J, hot dogs, & spaghetti.

Boy did my standards change! When my little one was losing weight (I wish I knew her secret! Oh wait, it was not eating.), I had mountains of kid-sized bowls of barely touched food in my sink–anything to get her to eat something. One night I may or may not have fed her peanut butter by the spoonful. Not my proudest moment.

peanut butterMealtime is still a battle sometimes, but now that we’re out of the woods I feel like I can share some of the tricks I used to survive (& help my kids survive!) without resorting to Goldfish & frozen chicken nuggets.

Stay out of the Snack Spiral. I can’t tell you the number of parents I’ve heard say, “Oh, Junior lived off of Goldfish crackers & juice at that age.” Why do you think he wouldn’t eat anything else? Because he was filling up at snacktime on just that! If you’re worried about your child’s eating, start by cutting back on snacks & not letting your kids graze. Trust me, kids are a lot more adventurous when they’re allowed to get hungry before a meal! They won’t starve if they’re limited to 3 meals & 2 small, scheduled, seated snacks a day.
I take this one step further & make a rule of not offering “snack foods” (crackers, fruit leather, etc.) at dinner time, & don’t use it as a crutch if they haven’t eaten enough “real food” at a meal.

Meet your kids in the middle. I still steadfastly refuse to be a short-order cook, so the whole family eats our fair share of “kid foods” (healthed up a little). For instance, on our menu every week is at least one of the following: homemade pizza (lots lower in calories than delivery, especially with part-skim mozzarella), spaghetti & meatballs, & “brinner” (you’ve seen a few of my healthy pancake recipes on the blog already). I enjoy these meals too, & if nothing else, I know that I at least have a couple dinners a week when I’m not fighting them.
If you can’t stand the few things they will eat (like if they’ll only eat fish sticks), then designate that for a date night or a night when you & your spouse order something in for yourselves. My 4-year-old loves when the babysitter comes because she knows that’s when she gets Annie’s mac & cheese. One word of warning about this second tactic though: don’t do it every week. The more the family eats the same meal, the more unified you’ll be & the easier it’ll be to convince your kids to eat what’s in front of them, because that’s what the whole family’s eating. As tempting as it is to feed the kids nuggets every other night & then treat yourselves to sushi after they’re in bed, that could backfire on you when they dig in their heels & whine, “But YOU don’t eat ___ when YOU don’t want to!”

Make like a fancy restaurant–try courses. Have something on the menu that they WILL eat at every meal so you know they’re not starving. But don’t bring it out right away. My girls are fruit-itarians–they would subsist entirely on grapes & strawberries if I let them. So I leave the fruit in the fridge. When they’ve eaten enough protein & veggies to balance it–my 4-year-old always asks “How many numbers?” (meaning how many bites) as soon as she gets her plate–THEN I bring out the fruit “course” & let them go to town, fully prepared for them to not touch what else is on their plate for the rest of the night.

Don’t be boring. Change up how you’re serving things. When my toddler went on her hunger strike shortly after turning 1 & wound up losing over a pound, I was in a panic. The day she stopped eating her favorite food in the world, strawberries, I was in tears. What was wrong??? The next night I saw her reaching for my strawberries instead of hers. Do you know what the problem was? She had decided I was cutting them too small! Instead of the teeny-bite-sized pieces I’d been giving her, she wanted a whole quarter of a strawberry. It was as simple as that, & she was back to eating strawberries. Do you know how the hunger strike ended once & for all? I handed her a fork. Seriously. She didn’t even use it at the beginning, but knowing she COULD have the control somehow fixed her not eating.raisins
So in short, if they stop eating something they’d eaten before, try changing what you call it or how you serve it. For example, your child might decide he wants his “night-vision carrot sticks” (because of the beta carotene) with dip, or her “dinosaur trees” (that’s what we call broccoli) raw instead of cooked, or she prefers short pasta to spaghetti, or… she’ll only eat raisins out of the box.

Let them help. Recruit your “kitchen helpers” to be your sous chefs: let them choose the fruits & veggies at the store & then wash them or add them to the pot. The more involved they are, the more excited they’ll be about trying something new.

Be sneaky. When all else fails, sneak the good stuff into their food. Veggie puree in the spaghetti sauce, whole-wheat flour in the baked goods, Greek yogurt in the pancakes–all of these go a long way to helping maintain the balance in your little one’s diet until he decides to get more adventurous.

Best of luck with your picky eaters! Do you have any other tricks & tips for surviving?

Linked up at Nifty Thrifty Sunday and Crystal & Co.

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