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?

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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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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!

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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?

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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.

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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!

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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!

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