Tag Archives: easy

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?

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes

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

2 Comments

Filed under Healthy living, Recipes

Vegan for carnivores: Easy creamy tomato basil pasta.

My good friend posted the link to this recipe months ago & raved about its tastiness. I was intrigued, so I pinned it, but I never mustered the courage to actually make it.

Because it’s vegan.

creamy tomato basil pasta

Vegan is a dirty word in our house of meat-eaters. But it looks just so tasty, right?

So one day I took the plunge. I had a backup plan in place–a jar of pasta sauce hiding at the back of the pantry–that I considered employing even as the mixture was simmering. How could cashews possibly make a sauce creamy?

But it worked. Oh boy, did it work. Rich, tomato-basil-garlic heaven. & it was easy!!! Now I understand why my friend raved about it. Fellow carnivores (or at least omnivores), please don’t make the mistake I did & wait forever: make this immediately.

Note: while the original recipe says this makes enough for 2 servings of pasta, I’ve coated a whole pound of pasta in it & it’s worked great. I also add a little more tomato flavor.

  • 2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2-4 cloves garlic (I use 2), minced
  • up to 1 tsp. salt, or to taste (if you’re not using raw cashews, they’ll have a bit of salt on them already, so you won’t need as much)
  • water or wine, to thin the sauce if desired (I didn’t)
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh basil, finely chopped (if you, like me, don’t buy fresh herbs often, the small plastic package of basil that hangs out in the refrigerated part of the produce section is just enough for this recipe)
  • up to 1 lb. of pasta of your choice
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes & toss them, seeds & all into your blender. Add the cashews, water, & tomato paste, & puree until smooth.
  2. Add the pasta to the boiling water & cook as directed. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium-low. Add the garlic & saute a couple minutes, taking care not to burn it. Add the contents of the blender. Bring it to a simmer; add the salt.
  3. Let it simmer 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add water or wine to thin if desired.
  4. Remove sauce from heat; stir in pepper & basil.
  5. When pasta is done cooking, rinse, drain, & return to pot. Slowly add the sauce until it looks coated enough for your taste. Stir & serve immediately.
  6. Leftovers refrigerate & reheat well!

Aside from the tastiness, healthiness, & easiness of this recipe, The Toddler Who Won’t Eat Anything ATE THIS!!!

yum!

WIN!

Leave a comment

Filed under Healthy living, Recipes

One-ingredient ice cream.

I’ve missed sharing ideas with people! I’ve decided to set a goal of posting at least once a week. Now that The Mini-Munchkin is about the same age that The Munchkin was when I started this, I feel like I can take the time to set up more good photos & write some more. Though the girls are so big now, I don’t think I could call either of them Munchkin anymore. I’m currently accepting nominations for new aliases for my 4- & 1-year-olds.

But so that I don’t bite off more than I can chew, let’s start with something easy, shall we?

banana swirl

This ice cream has one ingredient: bananas.

It’s easy to make. It’s fat-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, & delicious.

It’s been making the Pinterest rounds, & even Daniel Tiger on PBS is getting into the act; my 4-year-old informed me that this comes from one of his shows & is called “Banana Swirl.”

Instructions:

Just take about 1 ripe (but not banana-bread ripe; I made that mistake this first time. Think still yellow.) banana per person, cut them into thirds or quarters, & freeze. I just stuck mine in a Ziploc baggie. After a couple of hours, remove them from the freezer, stick them in your blender or food processor, & pulverize. The “snow” setting on my Breville worked like a dream. After a couple of minutes, you should see smooth, soft-serve-looking “banana swirl.” That’s it!

Why does this happen? Bananas have high pectin levels. Pectin is the gelling agent that you add when you make jam. It acts as a stabilizer to create that creamy texture. Mangoes apparently also have high pectin levels & would likely produce the same effect if frozen & blended.

This is a great treat for summertime. We made ours to refuel after gymnastics, but I’m thinking one morning I might top it with fruit & granola & serve “ice cream” for breakfast, just to shake things up a bit! What do you think of that?

2 Comments

Filed under Recipes

Roasted squash and bacon pasta.

butternut squash pasta

So am I posting regularly now? I don’t know… Not regularly enough to use a real camera to photograph dinner tonight, apparently. All we have is this Instagram shot. But this is a tasty dish, no matter how blurry or dark it may look. Several people on Facebook asked for the recipe after seeing said Instagram shot, so I figured I’d post it here for the good of all.

It came from Williams-Sonoma’s One Pot cookbook, which has some real gems if you’re looking for meals that are quick but unique. When my mother-in-law first sent it to me (she got it out of the clearance bin at Deseret Book), this was one of the first recipes that caught my eye. But Husband said he didn’t like squash, & besides, winter squash was out of season. So when the southern-hemisphere stuff started showing up in my grocery store, I ignored my husband & made it anyway. Everyone — including him — loved it (ha! So there!), though I will say that (Almost) One-Year-Old preferred gnawing the raw squash to the cooked, seasoned stuff. It takes less than 30 minutes start to finish & only dirties a pasta pot, a cutting board, & a baking sheet, plus some assorted utensils.

  • 2 lbs. butternut or other winter squash, peeled, seeded, & cut into small (1/2-inch) cubes
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved & thinly sliced on a mandoline
  • 4 strips thick-cut bacon (though I used regular and it was just fine)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage (I used scant 1/2 Tbsp. rubbed sage)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 lb. pasta: rigatoni, farfalle, or other chunky shape
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, freshly grated (or… not), plus more for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Toss squash, onion, & bacon with the oil. Sprinkle with sage & season with salt & pepper. Spread in a single layer.
  3. Roast until squash is caramelized & tender & bacon is getting crispy, 15-20 minutes. Remove & set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta & cook according to package directions, making sure to reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water prior to draining. Return pasta to the pot.
  5. Use a wooden spoon to free any of the squash mixture that may be sticking to the foil, then lift the foil off of the baking sheet & use it to funnel the squash into the pot with the pasta.
  6. Toss for 1 minute over high heat, adding as much of the pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce.
  7. Add parmesan, toss, & serve.

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes

Almost-Chili Taco Soup.

Now that Mini-Munchkin is nearly three months, I probably have to stop using the “I have a newborn” excuse & start posting a little more regularly.

With that, here’s the first of what will likely be many quick-prep meals for those nights when you have literally 5 minutes in the kitchen.

A friend of mine from my local chapter of the National MOMS Club brought this dish over after I had the Mini-Munchkin. This thick, hearty, almost-chili soup was an instant hit, so I asked her for the recipe. It was so easy she was actually embarrassed to give it to me! But I love easy, so I’m not embarrassed at all to share this with you.

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 3/4 cup water*
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup
  • 2 cans black beans, undrained
  • 2 cans corn, drained
  • tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, etc., for serving

*or however much your particular taco seasoning calls for

  1. Brown the ground beef. Drain.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add taco seasoning & water. Stir.
  3. Add remaining ingredients. Stir.
  4. Cover; simmer until heated through or as long as you want.

That’s it! Yum!

1 Comment

Filed under Recipes

The Munchkin’s Best Birthday Yet.

I have a confession to make: I didn’t make a single thing for this birthday party.

And it was AWESOME.

And I don’t regret it one bit.

Way back in February The Munchkin told me she wanted a mermaid party. “Not a ‘Little Mermaid’ party, a mermaid party.” I love this girl! She makes up her mind & sticks to it. With all this prep time, I had grand designs for customized printable invitations, themed food, etc., but the reality of a newborn, & family in town for said newborn’s baby blessing (isn’t she cute?), set in really quickly. Still, it took awhile to get past the mom guilt brought on by picture-perfect Pinterest parties. Do I love my child less because I bought my (still cute) decorations from Oriental Trading Company, hand-wrote fill-in-the-blank invitations, & ordered a — gasp! — supermarket cake?

Absolutely not! I realized that in past years I had poured so much of myself into these events that, not only was I so stressed out I was stressing everyone else out, but I was seeking validation from other people instead of my Munchkin. This year my only pre-party panic moment was about whether we should pay a hefty deposit to move the outdoor party inside because of Tropical Storm Debby. Thanks to a lot of prayer (& even, in a weak moment, an email to the FOX 13 morning meteorologist), we kept the party at the splash park just like she wanted, & we all got to actually enjoy it.

So I’m writing this to let my fellow “just moms” out there that you don’t need to order custom everything from Etsy or specialty bake shops or whatever. You don’t need to impress the grownups there. Sometimes a splash park, a Publix cake, & some party hats with stickers on them are all you need to make a birthday girl’s day.

That’s what’s important!

2 Comments

Filed under Activities, Adventures in Mommydom

Quick, last-minute (but always cute & thoughtful) Teacher Appreciation gift.

Hi all! Long time no see! I’ll be posting sporatically over the next little while, & I have a feeling that all of them will be themed: “quick & easy,” & often “can be done one-handed.”

I sat down to write this quick post before the Mini-Munchkin woke up, but as she’s starting to stir, this is going to be even quicker than I thought.

The Munchkin had her first ballet recital Saturday. It was beyond adorable. They danced to “Animal Crackers in my Soup,” & because I’m the doting mommy, I’m going to force you to look at her darling costume:

She looks forward to ballet class every week, & her teachers, Ms. Erin & Ms. Lisa, did such a great job with those two-year-olds (my sister calls it “herding cats”) that I wanted to do a little something for them. There are fantastic teacher appreciation ideas all over Pinterest & the blogosphere, but I didn’t have time to do something intricate, & there was no way I was going to venture to Michael’s with two Munchkins.

Thanks to Crystal & Company’s free printable, I was able to make something in less than 10 minutes with items I had on hand. All I needed was gumballs, which I was able to get on a routine trip to Target. & the teachers loved them!

So if you’re one of the few whose school isn’t out & are looking for something cute but quick to show your appreciation, go to her blog for the full instructions. Now I’ve got to go feed a hungry Mini-Munchkin.

1 Comment

Filed under Crafts

Simple Shamrock Sugar Cookies.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day (in a week or so) from this non-Irish (Scottish & Welsh, actually) gal!

I found this easy, kitchen-helper-friendly recipe at Better Homes & Gardens (I think) a few years ago & made it again this year for our Mom’s Club’s St. Patrick’s Day party.

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp. extract of choice (I used vanilla, but you could do peppermint or almond)
  • green food coloring (I’ve used both gel & liquid now, & find that liquid is just easier & doesn’t affect the dough’s composition)
  • 2 cups flour
  • green sanding sugar
  1. In your stand mixer with the flat paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed 30 seconds or until softened.
  2. Add sugar & salt; beat on med-high until fluffy.
  3. Add egg, extract, & food coloring. Beat well. Add more food coloring if necessary; it will look paler when the flour is added.
  4. On low speed, gradually add the flour & mix well. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts.
  5. Place a sheet of wax paper on a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet. Pour a generous amount of sanding sugar all over the wax paper.
  6. Take 1 of your dough lumps & roll it into a long “snake” 1 inch in diameter. Let your kitchen helper assist you in rolling it in the sugar to coat. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining dough lumps. Toss the wax paper & leftover sugar.
  7. Refrigerate dough “snakes” at least 2 hours, or up to 1 week (yeah right, like cookie dough would EVER last that long in someone’s refrigerator!).
  8. Preheat your oven to 350. Remove one “snake” from the fridge at a time, unwrap, & slice crosswise with a sharp knife into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Take a few of your slices & cut them into thirds to make your “stems.”
  9. Shape your shamrocks by placing 3 slices with sides very slightly overlapping on an ungreased cookie sheet & adding a stem piece. Gently press together. Don’t forget to make a few lucky 4-leaf clovers too!
  10. Bake for about 8 minutes or until set in the middle. Cool on the sheet for a few minutes, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

To serve, position them next to each other on a serving dish or tray rather than piling them onto a plate like I did. They ended up looking like a jumble of circles so no one knew what they were until they picked them up. Presentation is everything sometimes!I'm Lovin' It at TidyMom
KitchenFun

6 Comments

Filed under Holidays, Recipes

Winger’s Sticky Fingers.

A few Christmases ago we got the bright idea to drive from Indiana to Utah for the holidays with a 6-month-old Munchkin. In all fairness, she did fabulously on the long trek; what didn’t do so well was our car — a little blue Subaru Impreza wagon I’d had since college & driven cross-country more times than I could count. Her name was Ella. Just past Kansas City, she started to overheat despite the near-freezing weather. We pulled off into the thriving metropolis of Mound, MO, & spent the next couple hours at the only dealership in town trying to see if the very nice Ford guys could fix it. They filled her up with coolant & sent us on our way.

We made it to Winter Quarters, Nebraska. Fortunately there was at least a Subaru dealer there. Several more hours later we were back on the road. We made it almost all the way across the state before she started overheating again. We couldn’t go more than 50 mph, so we limped into Sidney, NE, where our motel was, late at night with an overtired child & an overheating car.

The next morning, a Saturday, we poured more coolant into the tank & made it just across the Wyoming state line — less than 30 miles — before having problems again. The local mechanic gave us 2 options: stay over the weekend to wait for parts, or limp to Cheyenne a couple dozen miles ahead. Another several hours at another Subaru dealer later (you can imagine The Munchkin was getting a little sick of repair shops) we were told the problem had been resolved. But we hadn’t so much as left the Cheyenne city limits before the problem reoccurred. So we limped over the mountains into Laramie — at least we were heading the right direction — where there was yet another Subaru dealer, though they’d be closed Sunday.

So we were stuck in Laramie. What was there to do in a small college town over winter break on a Saturday night?

Eat at Winger’s. On the very last night before that particular location would be closed forever.

Winger’s is a casual dining restaurant out west — predominantly in Utah — famous for its Sticky Fingers: chicken fingers soaked in a spicy-sweet sauce & dipped in Ranch dressing. They also have a killer Asphalt Pie. I found the recipe for the sauce here many months ago, but only now had gotten around to buying the special hot sauce it requires. If you’re a fan of Sticky Fingers & don’t live near a Winger’s, this recipe is for you!

Winger’s Sticky Fingers (will make enough sauce for 4+ people)

  • breaded chicken fingers
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. FRANK’S Buffalo sauce
  • 4 Tbsp. water
  1. Prepare desired number of chicken fingers according to conventional oven directions on package.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan & heat, stirring frequently, until brown sugar is dissolved.
  3. Place chicken fingers in a shallow dish, pour sauce over the top, & toss.
  4. Serve with Ranch dressing.

The car story does have a happy ending, by the way: with the help of my in-laws, we drove on I-80 all the way across Wyoming at a whopping 55 miles an hour — way scarier than driving fast, I’ll tell you what — & traded our faithful Ella in for our current Subaru: a reliable Forester that has also been driven across the country several times & is still doing great! We miss Ella, but we’re grateful we don’t have to spend any more road trips in mechanics’ shops. & besides, we’ll always have Laramie…

Do you have memories — fond or otherwise — associated with certain dishes or restaurants?


Oopsey Daisy

2 Comments

Filed under Recipes