I Spy...Some Friday Favorites

Friday, April 29, 2011

Here are some recipes that have caught my eye this week:  

Coleen's Recipes

Mommy's Kitchen

Diary of a Recipe Addict

Finding Joy in My Kitchen

Making Miracles

Food for a Hungry Soul

Stirring the Pot

Whisk Kid

Head over to Finding Joy in My Kitchen to see some other Friday Favorite links. 


Fluffy Orange Fruit Dip

Thursday, April 28, 2011

It seems that my husband and I are always on a quest to help our family eat healthier.  Over the years we've made a lot of improvements, including switching over to brown rice, substituting at least part whole wheat flour in almost every recipe, eating more fruits and veggies, and fewer processed and snack foods.   For the most part, these changes have been relatively painless and are now just how we eat.  I couldn't help but feel a twinge of pride recently, when one of my kids was served white rice at a restaurant and they actually asked us what was wrong with the rice that it didn't have any color.  :)   Despite our progress, though,  the one bad habit that we're having a hard time shaking is our sweet teeth.  We've cut down eating desserts to only once a week, which has made a big difference, but still we find that  sometimes  my kids (and even us adults) miss out on the fun desserts we used to have on a regular basis.  That's where recipes like this one I found in my  Our Best Bites cookbook   come into play.  It is sweet enough, without being overwhelmingly sweet,  to satisfy everyone's sweet tooth,  AND it gets us all to fill up on healthy fresh fruit, like  apples, pineapple, and strawberries.  We figure it's perfect for an occasional day when we're either looking for a healthier alternative to an after-dinner sugar fix or when we have a lot of fresh fruit we need to eat quickly.  

The mild orange flavor and the creamy texture complements the crisp fresh fruit just perfectly.  Don't you just want to reach in and grab some for yourself?  :)

Click here for printable recipe.

The ingredients:

1 package (8-ounces) cream cheese (low fat or fat-free is fine)
2 tsp. orange zest
3 Tbs. fresh orange juice (from the orange you just zested)
1/4 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
1 jar (7-ounces) marshmallow cream

Directions:  Beat cream cheese, orange zest, orange juice, vanilla, and salt until smooth and creamy. 

Add marshmallow cream and beat until combined.  Makes about 2 cups.  Serve with any chopped fresh fruit--we like it with apples, pineapple, and strawberries.



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Cooking with Kids: Ladybug Cupcakes

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Recently my little girl turned six and was excited to bring in a fun birthday treat to share with her classmates at school.  Since her birthday fell on one of my craziest days of the week, in addition to making them cute and fun, I also needed them to be simple and easy to make.   That's when I thought of these cute little cupcake fellows I had seen at a friend's house! The process of decorating them, except the antennae, was simple enough to be a kids' job.     The antennae were definitely an adult job, and a little challenging even for me  at first, but once I got the system figured out (using a straight sewing pin) it went pretty fast.  These would be a perfect treat for a springtime birthday party or for a preschool bug theme.  Enjoy!   

While you're here, be sure to check out my other fun cooking with kids ideas. 

Click here for printable recipe. 

The ingredients:

Baked cupcakes
Red (or pink) frosting
Brown m&m's (five per cupcake)
Brown shoestring "pull n peel" licorice (I could only find red)

Frost the cupcakes with red or dark pink frosting. 

Place 5 brown m&m's over the cupcake (leaving room for the gumdrop head).

Peel licorice into single strands and cut into approximately 1-inch pieces. 
Using the point of a sharp knife (or a sterilized sewing pin), poke two small holes in the top of the gumdrop for the antennae. 

Again, using the point of the knife or pin poke the antennae into the holes, taking care not to break the licorice.  (it took me a few tries to get it right, but after I got the hang of it, it was much easier).
Place the gumdrop and antennae onto the cupcake. 

Smile and enjoy!!!

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Pepperoni Pizza Skillet

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

After recently discovering the easy lasagna skillet and cheeseburger skillet dishes for dinners, I was certainly intrigued when I found this recipe for Pepperoni Pizza Skillet over at Taste of Home. It didn't end up tasting  much like pepperoni pizza, but it was very well-received up and down the ranks in our house.  I liked how quick and easy it was to make and I also like how flexible this recipe can be.  Don't like mushrooms?  Leave them out.  Love black olives?  Go ahead and throw some in.  As a general rule, I don't tend to like things that call for cream-of-anything soup, but I felt that in this case it actually added a nice flavor to this dish.   I'd give this one a four-star rating and will definitely be adding it to our easy recipe file!
Click here for printable recipe.

The ingredients:

5 cups uncooked wide egg noodles
1-1/2 lbs. ground beef (I used ground turkey instead)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped (or any color sweet pepper)
2 garlic cloves (or 1/4 tsp. garlic powder)
1-1/2 cups chopped pepperoni
1 jar (14-oz.) pizza sauce
1 can (10-3/4-oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 can (4-1/2-oz.) sliced mushrooms, drained (optional)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (we love cheese, so we threw in an extra handful for good measure)

Directions:  Cook noodles according to package directions.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the beef, onion, pepper, and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.

Stir in the pepperoni, pizza sauce, soup, mushrooms (if using), Parmesan cheese, and oregano. 

Drain noodles; stir into skillet and heat through.  Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

Makes 6-8 servings.  Enjoy!


Menu 4/25 - 5/1

Monday, April 25, 2011

Here is my menu...

Monday--BBQ Chicken Salad with Cilantro Ranch Dressing (It's a night off from cooking for me, since it's my birthday today! I can't wait to eat food I didn't cook!)

Lion House Cornbread--one of my favorite side dishes
Birthday Dessert:  ??? (it'll be a surprise!!!)

Tuesday--White Bean & Sausage Rigatoni (new)
Whole Wheat Bread--my favorite basic whole wheat bread recipe

Wednesday-Breakfast-Super Easy Orange Breakfast Bread--elegant looking, yummy tasting, and OH SO EASY!!!! 

Dinner:  Honey-Glazed Chicken Stir-Fry (new)

Thursday--Garlic Chicken Pasta with Spinach--I've totally been craving this one!

Friday--Mexican Lasagna--this is one of my husband's favorite meals of all time and when I signed up to bring a Mexican casserole to a church Fiesta, this was the first thing that popped into my head

Saturday--Strawberry Cheesecake Pancakes--for my son's birthday breakfast!

Turkey Wafflewiches (my teen son's requested birthday meal)

Peanut Butter Pie--My son loves anything peanut buttery and chocolatey, so this will be perfect for a special birthday dessert

Sunday--Pulled Pork Sandwiches (new)
Chips and Avocado Smash

Go check Organizing Junkie for lots more Menu Plans!


Cheesecake Pancakes with Strawberry Topping

Friday, April 22, 2011

 When I saw this recipe in my latest copy of Food Network magazine,  I literally couldn't stop thinking about them (yes, I can be a little obsessive when it comes to food).   I bought the ingredients and tried THREE times to make them without success, for each time I went to make them the kids had devoured my strawberries before I got to them.   Finally I sent my husband to the store to buy some more strawberries AFTER the kids went to bed and cooked up a big double batch the next morning!  These are supposed to be a knock-off of IHOP's Strawberry Cheesecake Pancakes and while I've never had the privilege of eating their version, I can say that these are a culinary treat totally worth a diet cheat day!  I couldn't help but smile every time I bit into a REAL CHUNK OF CHEESECAKE and I was totally in love with the graham cracker/cinnamon bits of crust in there too.  I figure with a big helping of fresh strawberries on the top, it was practically healthy  ;-)   and perfect for an impressive Easter brunch.  
Click here for printable recipe.  

The ingredients:

1-1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 Tbs.  seedless strawberry jam
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
2 cups chopped frozen cheesecake
Cooking spray
Butter, confectioners' sugar or whipped cream, for topping (optional)

Directions:  Mix the strawberries, jam and 2 tablespoons warm water in a bowl; set aside.  (NOTE:  If your family likes strawberries as much as mine, you may want to double the topping recipe.) 
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. 

Pulse the flour, buttermilk, egg, vegetable oil, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheesecake pieces, keeping them whole.


Coat a large nonstick skillet or griddle with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Working in batches, pour about 1/4 cup batter into the skillet for each pancake. Cook until bubbly on top, about 4 minutes, then flip and cook until the other side is golden brown, about 2 more minutes.

Transfer the finished pancakes to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Serve the pancakes topped with the strawberry sauce; top with butter, confectioners' sugar or whipped cream, if desired.



Spinach Lasagna Rolls (Healthy Version)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

This healthy spin-off of classic lasagna was was every bit as flavorful (and fun) as I envisioned it would be when I first saw the recipe over at See Jane in the Kitchen.   My kids were fascinated with the whole rolling up aspect of it and surprisingly no one missed the meat at all--even my meat-loving boys.  :) This dish got a unanimous vote from the family to keep it on the keeper list.  

Click here for printable recipe. 

The ingredients:

10 lasagna noodles, cooked (this includes one extra, in case one breaks or something)
1 pkg. (10-ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained
15 oz. fat free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
salt and fresh pepper
1 jar spaghetti sauce
3/4 cup part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions:  Preheat oven to 350°. Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Ladle about 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Make sure noodles are dry. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.

Ladle sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with 1 tablespoon mozzarella cheese.

Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese melts. Makes 9 rolls. (I made a 1-1/2 batch for my family).

To serve, ladle a little sauce on the plate and top with lasagna roll.   Enjoy! 


About This Blog

My name is Lara and while I'm definitely not a gourmet cook, I do love preparing tasty, healthy meals for my family. Finding new recipes to try and sharing the ones we've already fallen in love with is a passion I've had since college and the reason why I've started this blog! With five kids, I'm usually in a hurry, so you'll find most of these recipes kid friendly and simple to make.

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