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Kid-Friendly Recipes

Grilled Pesto Pizza

We LOVE making homemade pizzas…it’s become a Friday night tradition in our house.  It can be very easy too, with the help of a bread machine (which makes the dough in 50 minutes), a pizza stone, and a wooden paddle (to transfer each pizza).  I recently made a pesto pizza that was a hit and wanted to share!

Ingredients
Bread machine-made dough:
(Check what recipe your machine has, but this is my recipe)
3/4 cup warm water
1 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP olive oil
2 1/4 cup flour – I use half whole wheat
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Breadmachine quick rise yeast
It takes my machine 50 minutes to mix, and let it rise and it’s totally ready for rolling out pizzas!
During this time, I heat the pizza stone in the oven at 475 degrees.

Ingredients for Pesto Pizza
Basil pesto sauce – the amount depends on how many pizzas you are making – we love the large jar from Costco
Real mozzarella – the kind that is in a ball
Optional: Fresh basil leaves
Optional: Fresh Tomato slices

Directions

Wooden paddle makes transferring very easy!

Break each loaf of dough up into 4-6 smaller balls of dough (depending on how large or small you want them).  Roll out each ball into a 1/4 inch-thick circles.  If you are using a wooden paddle to transfer the dough, lightly flour that surface so the dough circles slide off nicely.  Place each one onto the hot pizza stone in the oven, bake for 4 minutes, remove.  Do all of the dough at this time.

Note the coals are moved to the sides – not directly under the pizza

If you are grilling the pizzas, make sure the coals (or heat source) are moved to the sides of the grill – not directly under the pizzas (or they will burn!)  It might take some practice to get the right amount of cooking time and temp, but just keep an eye on the bottom of each pizza so it doesn’t burn.  The cheese melts better if the cover is on.  If the bottoms are done, but the cheese is unmelted, you could always just pop them into the oven on low-broil to get it melted to your liking, but it should be OK on the grill if the temp is right.

Pizza stone – a great investment!

Red, White & Blue Strawberries

Holidays are a great excuse to do something special and fun! I saw this idea in a Disney magazine and they are now a new family tradition – so delicious AND festive!

 
Ingredients:
– Strawberries
– 6 ounces White chocolate (Baker’s Premium White Chocolate squares)
– Blue sugar (Wilton sprinkles, blue sugar)
 
Directions:
Wash the strawberries and dry them by laying them on a towel. Melt the chocolate according to the package (microwave was the easiest). Pour the sugar into a small bowl. Dip the strawberry in the chocolate, let the excess drip off, and then dip into the blue sugar. Serve immediately or if preparing ahead of time, place the finished strawberries into a large storage container lined with wax paper and keep in a cool place. If you choose to refrigerate them, only do so for up to one day ahead of time because the blue sugar will begin to liquify.

Homemade Peppermint Patties

Yes, oh yes, these are the most delicious, SIMPLE, amazing bites of minty-heaven.

You only need 5 ingredients…and you may already have them in your kitchen!  This is a recipe I found on pinterest – all the credit goes to the one who created it: Oh!Nuts   THANK YOU!  You have brightened my day since I found you!  Check out their link – it is very nicely documented with pictures and directions.   But here’s how I do it:
Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 TBSP softened butter
2 tsp peppermint extract
2 TBSP cream (any kind)
12 ounces chocolate chips (any kind)
Directions:
– soften the butter, but don’t melt it completely.
– In a mixing bowl, mix the powdered sugar, butter, peppermint extract, and cream.
– Mix until it begins to for a creamy mixture…if it looks too dry after a few minutes, add a TINY bit of cream…that can help make it creamier.  But be careful, because you don’t want it to be too moist and sticky…if it is, add more powdered sugar.
– Cut a large piece of plastic wrap, and put the mixture in the middle of it, form a log.
– Mine never look perfect…but if you really care, you could work a while to make it really round.
– Place it into the freezer for 20 minutes or the fridge for an hour
– Remove the plastic and slice into small pieces (roughly 1/4 inch thick).
– Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl; heat for 1 minute, stir, and then continue heating for 30 seconds at a time until it is melted.
– Here comes another part that I don’t do well; spread the chocolate onto each piece…(put parchment paper onto a baking sheet)…I smear a blob on one side, place it chocolate-side down onto parchment paper, do that to all of them.  Then, spread more chocolate onto the tops of all of them.
– Refrigerate the entire tray for a few minutes, and they should peel right off the paper.
– ENJOY

Reuben Casserole

My mom is amazing.  And I am sure your mom is amazing too 🙂  I just want to give her a shout-out for this recipe because it was in a book she randomly gave me a very long time ago.  One of the many things I love about my mom, is how she always seems to say or do the best thing, at the right time.  Since I have become a parent, we have gone through some pretty scary and difficult times.  She has been there for us in countless ways and encouraged us when we were down.  So, with all that said, I’ll get to the point of this post 🙂  Reuben Casserole, submitted by “Sandy” in a cookbook from our doctor’s office that my mom randomly gifted to me on January 1, 2006.  I love that she wrote a little note in the cover of the book and I just remember being so surprised and delighted with a random-no-reason-gift.  Love that.

This meal is amazing.  My kids love it.  My husband really loves it.  And I love it.  It freezes well, it can be put together so quickly!  And, it is perfect for a meal using any left over corn beef from any St. Patrick’s Day dinners 🙂

Ingredients:
(8 ounces) egg noodles, cooked – whole wheat is best
2 TBSP butter (add this to the noodles after they are cooked and drained)
1 pound (or 1-15 ounce can sauerkraut) drained
2 cups corned beef, chopped into small bits
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
1/4 cup Thousand Island dressing (there are a few really good homemade recipes for this out there)
2 (8 ounce) cups shredded cheese (traditional reubens call for swiss, but we usually use mozzarella)
1 tsp caraway seed

Directions:
In a greased 9X13 inch pan, layer the buttered noodles, sauerkraut, corned beef, and tomato slices.  Dot with salad dressing and sprinkle with cheese and caraway seed.  Bake covered at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, then uncover and bake for 15 minutes more until bubbly.

Serve with your family’s favorite vegetable or salad.

My Favorite St. Patrick’s Day Meal

This corn beef meal ranks up at the top of my list…my whole family LOVES it!  We only have it at this time of year (February-March).  Costco (and other stores) sell a big corn beef brisket and it is packaged with a little seasoning packet.

All I do is cook it on low all day in the crock pot.  You can either do a bottle of beer or some water with it.  Cook it at least 6 hours, you will know when it’s done if it falls apart easily with a fork.  Last year, we served it with all green food for St. Patrick’s Day.

Have fun with it – my mouth is watering thinking about it.  And this meat is AWESOME chopped up for the Reuben Casserole.

Homemade Sugar Hand Scrub

There are many different recipes for making your own hand scrub.  Many people have come up with cute ways to package them, but my favorite “name” for it is Sugar Mama Hand Scrub.  Isn’t that cute?  I found it from Jessica and her blog, Craftinessisnotoptional.com.  I give her all the credit!  Check out her cute way of packaging it and her recipe.  This is my own recipe, in which I added and adjusted a few things…

Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups sugar (I used half regular white sugar and half organic sugar because it is more course)
2 TBSP kosher salt (to add some more course grains to it)
1 cup oil (I used olive oil from the Dollar Tree!)
2-3 TBSP Vitamin E oil (I used Target brand, Up and Up)
30 drops peppermint essential oil (I used NOW brand from my local health foods store, or you can buy it on amazon here.)

Directions:
Dump everything except the essential oil into a mixing bowl and mix on low for about a minute (or stir with a spoon).  Then add the 30 drops of essential oil – use whatever fragrance you choose…peppermint is very refreshing!  Stir again.  I chose to divide this up into small jars from JoAnn Fabrics (they were each $1.00).  You can use any container you have…just clean it out and load it up.  This recipe made a large batch…enough to fill about six of the jars shown in the picture.

If you are doing some kind of decorating to the jars, do that before you fill them.  I  spray-painted the tops to make them silver…and I used mod podge to attach the pink paper and then stickers for the writing…and also printed off some “directions” and “ingredients” and laminated those.  Do whatever you’d like!  For more at-home-spa recipes, check out our Kitchen Facials post!

Freezer Burritos (Freezeritos!)

I am guessing there are plenty of recipes out there for a variety of burritos – my tips are more about the ease of making these and storing them for future meals.  My husband likes to call them Freezeritos!

A local grocery store recently had huge (as in 9-12 pound) pork loins for sale…half off!  I bought a couple of them, cut them into thirds and froze them.  Occasionally, I take one (which ends up being about 3-4 pounds of meat) and cook it in a crock pot all day.  It makes delicious, shredded pork for a large group of people.   I have tried a few recipes and the one I am sharing here, is a mexican flavor, perfect for burritos…I adjustedthis recipe just a bit.  Side Note: my sister and I recently discovered that the Hormel brand has a totally different taste – which we didn’t like.  It was the Rainbow Foods, Roundy Brand that is much better!

Pulled Pork Ingredients:
approx. 4 pound pork loin
2 onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups crushed tomatoes
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 TBSP dried oregano
1 TBSP chili powder
2 TBSP paprika
2 TBSP ground cumin
1 1/2 TBSP kosher salt
1/2 TBSP black pepper
water – enough to cover the loin

For the Burritos:
at least 12 tortillas (I often have 24 so I can make a LOT of them)
2 cans black beans
1 cup fresh cilantro OR several cubes of the frozen cilantro (if you have the cubes, defrost them and mix it into the beans)
1 pound shredded cheese (I like colby jack but use whatever you like)
If you have some spanish rice, that is awesome too!
Tin Foil
Paper Towels

Directions:
To make the pulled pork, place the pork into the crock pot.  Add the chopped onions and minced garlic and then the crushed tomatoes.  In a bowl, pour the vinegar in first, then add all of the spices…stir to combine well and then pour over the meat in the crock pot.  Lastly, pour in water so that the meat is close to completely covered.  Cook over low heat at least 6 hours…it will be done when the meat is easily shredded with forks.
Let the meat cool a bit – it actually is best if the meat has been sitting in the fridge (with the juices) for a day.  But I have made it right away too…either way, it’s good!

When you are ready to assemble the burritos, gather all of the supplies and ingredients.  I like to have the tin foil already cut, paper towels cut, and then I place a tortilla on top of the paper towel, place a good amount of meat in the center (along the entire middle line), add a spoon or two of black beans, a bit of cilantro (if it’s fresh), rice if you have it, then a spoon or two of cheese.  Roll the tortilla, then roll the paper towel around the burrito.  I like to place two burritos in one sheet of tin foil and then wrap them both up.  Then place these in the freezer and store for later.

When you are ready to eat the burritos, remove desired amount from the freezer to be heated in the microwave OR oven:

Microwave: Unwrap the tinfoil (save for next time, if possible) keep the burritos in the paper towels (this will keep the tortillas soft.  Place the burrito (or 2 burritos) on a plate and heat for about 4 minutes.  My microwave is weak-sauce, so check on them often and they will be ready when heated through.   My hubby likes to add sour cream at this point, and I like to add salsa!

 

Oven: Keep in the tinfoil, preheat oven to 375 degrees, bake on a cookie sheet for about 25 minutes (check them after 20 minutes).  This is a good option if you have making more than two or three burritos.  It takes longer, but it’s nice if you have the time.  Again, my hubby likes to add sour cream at this point, and I like to add salsa!

Hot Dog Octopus Bites

I did not come up with this great idea – and I feel terrible but I can’t recall where or when I saw it – so, whoever you are out there, the credit goes to you!  Thanks for a fun lunch idea!  My little tip is to do all the prep work ahead of time (the night before or the morning of) and then store them in a container in the fridge…then, when lunch time rolls around, boil the water and toss the little guys in, and there you have it!

Ingredients:
Uncooked spaghetti noodles
Hot dogs

Directions:
Cut each hot dog into approximately 1/2-3/4 inch thick chunks, stick 4 uncooked spaghetti noodles through each chunk (so the hot dog is in the middle of the noodle).  Repeat until you have your desired amount.  I usually make 1 hot dog per child…so if you have 4 kids, use four whole hot dogs cut into chunks.  If you are doing this work ahead of time, store them in a container and refrigerate until you are ready to cook.  Then, boil a large pot of water, toss in them all in and boil for about 10 minutes.  Check the noodles because depending on what kind you use, it may take longer or shorter.  Drain and let cool a bit before serving!

Chicken Tettrizini

This is a good, cozy meal that my kids love and it freezes great!  I want to give the credit to my good friend, Lauren, whose mom provided this recipe in our college friends’ cookbook.  I like to make two of them at one time and freeze or give away the other (double this recipe if you are doing that).  I also add chopped fresh spinach leaves to it, for added nutrients.  This photo doesn’t really capture it’s deliciousness…as I took it before I baked it…sorry!

Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup whipping cream or half and half
2 TBSP sherry

7-8 ounces cooked noodles, whatever kind your family likes
1 can mushrooms or 4 ounces fresh chopped mushrooms
Optional: 1 cup fresh chopped spinach leaves
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup cooked chicken, cubed
1/2 cup mixed cheeses

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the first 4 ingredients in a sauce pan on medium heat.  Use a whisk to stir continually.  Bring it to a boil until it is smooth and bubbly.  To that same pan, add the next three ingredients and stir continually just until it begins to bubble.  Remove it from the heat.  In a large bowl, combine the cooked noodles, chopped mushrooms, spinach (optional), parmesan cheese, and chicken.  Pour the sauce over all of that and stir well.  Pour entire mixture into a 9X13 inch baking pan.  Sprinkle the 1/2 cup cheese over the top.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes.  

Lindsey’s Energy Bites

My kids really love to snack and I really love to provide healthy snack options.  Many people have recipes for these little “Energy Bites” and I just decided to tweak it a bit and make it packed with even more nutrients and a little less sugar.  Instead of coconut flakes, I use Special K cereal (gives it a good crunch with very little sugar) and added Chia seeds, known to be a “super food.”  I make this large batch and freeze half of it or give away a bunch of them.  Easy, quick energy-filled snack!

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups peanut butter
2 1/2 cups plain oatmeal
1 cup flax seed, I prefer ground
1/4 cup Chia seeds
2/3 cup honey
2 cups Special K cereal
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips, (the miniature ones are best but I rarely have those on hand)

Directions:
Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, mix well (an electric mixer is best because this stuff is thick!)  Place the entire bowl in the fridge for about 30 minutes.  Remove and roll into small balls.  Store in an airtight tupperware – and we like to put half in the fridge and freeze the other half for a later date.

Curried White Bean Dip

I made this dip for the first time when we were having some adult friends over…I didn’t know if it would be kid-friendly.  Well, the second time I made it, my 18 month old was eating it by the spoonful…so, I guess she is telling me to share it!  It tastes great with anything, and could even be spread onto a sandwich.  The original recipe is from the Food Network, and one of my favorite chefs, Giada De Laurentiis.  I changed it a tad by using cilantro and loved it!

Ingredients:
1 (15 ounce) can white beans (I have used Great Northern or cannellini), rinsed and drained
1/4 cup olive oil
1 TBSP lemon juice
2 tsp curry powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt (maybe start with less and then add more after you taste it)
1 cup fresh cilantro OR flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1-2 cloves garlic
zest of one lemon
Optional: add some spice with 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:
Put everything into a food processor or blender and process until smooth.

Pirate Burgers

This recipe came from the Betty Crocker kids’ cookbook from the 80’s.  I was intrigued because I have tried other forms of salmon cakes to no avail in our family.  These I sold as “Pirate Burgers” sprinkled with the little nuggets of “gold”.  I continued to elaborate and told my children they were just like big chicken nuggets.  I served them with oodles of ketchup, and they were a total winner.  Best way my kids have ever eaten salmon!

Ingredients:
3 6-oz. cans cooked salmon, drained
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup shredded mozzerella or swiss cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. dried parsley or 1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 1/2 cups sweet corn
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
Instructions:
  1. Combine salmon and eggs with fork in mixing bowl.
  2. Add remaining ingredients except oil.
  3. Form into patties.
  4. Brown both sides in large skillet in oil over medium heat.
  5. Serve with lettuce, ketchup and whole wheat buns.

Blueberry Muffins (with dairy free option)

 

I don’t know why, but whether you make these muffins with fresh berries, frozen berries, regular milk or soy milk, they always taste amazing. A batch of 12 muffins is gone in about 20 minutes in my house. ENJOY!

 
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk (or soy milk)
1 cup berries (fresh or frozen) – I have used blueberries or mixed berries
 
Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 butter (or dairy-free margarine)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Optional: 1 Tablespoon ground flax seed
 
Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Fill a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners
  • Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl
  • Pour the 1/3 cup vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup. Add the egg, fill with enough milk to fill up the 1 cup.
  • Pour into the flour mixture, stir and then fold in the berries
  • Combine topping ingredients and mash with a fork or pastry knife until the butter/margarine is incorporated and resembles a crumble.
  • Sprinkle the topping over the muffins
  • Place on the middle rack in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes

Bruschetta Salad

I can’t get enough of this recipe.  It’s easy, delicious and makes awesome use of those extra tomatoes and basil (from the garden or farmer’s market).  My kids ate a small portion of it, but it’s mostly a scrumptious adult recipe, if you ask me 🙂

Ingredients:
4 cloves garlic, chopped into small chunks
1 TBSP olive oil

2 TBSP red wine vinegar OR balsamic vinegar
1 TBSP olive oil
2 cups grape tomatoes (or any kind will be great, but about 2 cups is what I’ve used)
1 whole palm-full of FRESH basil leaves (however, you could substitute 1 or 2 TBSP pesto, if needed)
Salt and pepper, to taste

1 bag of fresh spinach leaves
crumbled feta cheese OR fresh mozzarella chunks

Directions:
In a small sauce pan, heat the 1 TBSP olive oil over medium-high heat…then add the chopped garlic cloves.  Watch this carefully, stir often until the garlic has turned a golden brown (NOT burned!)…see image to the right.
Then remove it from the heat and pour into a medium bowl.  Add the vinegar, 1 more TBSP olive oil, chopped tomatoes and chopped basil leaves.  Add a little salt and fresh pepper, if desired.  Put it in the fridge for about an hour (or more).

When you are ready to serve the salad, chop the spinach leaves into bite-sized pieces…put about a cup or two into a bowl, top with several large spoon-fulls of the bruschetta mixture on top.  Lastly, sprinkle feta cheese (or mozzarella chunks) over everything…as much as you like!

Best Summer Coleslaw: Cilantro Lime

This is the perfect side to any summer barbecue – my mouth is watering just thinking about it!  It’s quite easy, (should be made at least 2 hours before serving), and also rather healthy compared to many other coleslaws.  There’s no spice to it, but you could add your own by adding jalapeños.


Ingredients:
1 head of green cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 – 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 green onions, sliced very thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
Optional: jalapeño 
 
Dressing:
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup plain yogurt
4 TBSP fresh lime juice 
zest of lime from about 2 limes
 
Directions:
Slice and dice all of the ingredients and place in a large bowl.  In a smaller bowl, mix up the dressing.  Then pour over the entire cabbage mixture and stir to coat.  Note: it will become “saucier” as it sits in the fridge, so don’t worry if it seems like the dressing is lacking right away.  Again, make this ahead of time and have it in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving it.  It taste great the next day too!

Chia Strawberry Freezer Jam

Strawberry picking is such a treat!  I know this post is later in the summer and strawberry fields have probably closed by now, but I was so thrilled with this recipe that I thought I’d still share it and you can try to find berries at farmers markets or try other fruits!  IT IS SO EASY!  And probably the healthiest jam you will ever eat.  Chia seeds are a super food and provide many health benefits.  They look like little poppy seeds but when you add them to a liquid, they gelatinize and thus provide the thickening agent for jam without the use of gelatin!  My family loved this…hopefully you will like it too!  We used it on sandwiches, toast, ice cream, brownies…whatever sounds good to you!


Ingredients:
4 cups fresh berries
6 TBSP chia seeds
3/4 cup water
3 TBSP Agave syrup (more or less to your liking…this is a healthier way to sweeten it)
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice


Directions:
Measure the chia seeds into a medium bowl and then add the water and agave syrup.  Give it a stir and let it sit for about 10 minutes…it will thicken before your eyes!  At the same time, begin cleaning the berries and taking off the stems.  Place them into a blender or food processor, add the lemon juice and then the chia seed mixture (if it’s been soaking for 10 minutes).  Blend up!  It will look like a thick smoothie, but it will thicken a little more once it is in the fridge for a while.  If you still want it thicker, you can add more chia seeds.  I recommend dividing the entire batch into smaller batches, use within a couple of weeks and freeze several small batches to be used at a later date.  

Easy Fruit Pizza

About this time of year when all the fruits and berries are on sale, and it’s time to make a treat…the fruit pizza is a great option.  Make it for dad for Father’s Day!  I combined the shortbread from Joy of Cooking with an adapted version of the other layers and glaze from this recipe.

Ingredients:
an assortment of berries and exotic fruits (I used strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and kiwi, but you could also use pineapple and mango too!)


shortbread crust:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. grated lemon zest (optional)
1/4 tsp. salt
8 tbs. butter, softened
1 large egg yolk


cream cheese layer:
1 8-oz. package cream cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar


lemon glaze:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. cornstarch
1/2 cup orange juice
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp. orange zest


Directions:

  1. Make shortbread by first preheating oven to 400 degrees.  Then combine flour, sugar, lemon zest, and salt.  In mixer or food processor, beat in butter and egg yolk.  Grease either a cookie sheet or 9-in. pie pan, or 9-10-in. tart pan.  Pat dough evenly over bottom of pan or sheet to form a crust.  Prick the bottoms and sides all over with a fork.  Bake until golden, approximately 18-22 minutes.  Allow to cool completely
  2. Make cream cheese layer by first whipping cream in electric mixer until soft peak form.  Add cream cheese and powdered sugar.  Spread over shortbread crust.
  3. Arrange slices fruits and berries in circle rows to your fancy.
  4. To make glaze, combine sugar, salt, cornstarch, orange juice, lemon juice and water in a saucepan.  Stir over medium heat until mixture is brought to a boil.  Cook for 1-2 minutes until thickened.  Remove from heat, and add orange zest.  Allow to cool to room temperature.  Spoon over fruit already arranged on pizza.
  5. Chill for two hours.  Cut into wedges, and serve.

Meatless Monday: Stuffed Shells

This is a very common, simple dish…and my kids gobble it up, so that’s why I am sharing it!  I especially like the small touch of ground nutmeg – adds a wonderful flavor and reminds me of fettuccine alfredo 🙂 


Ingredients:

  • Approx. 1/2 box jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 (24 ounce) container cottage cheese
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella 
  • Optional: 1/4 cup shredded parmesan
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach leaves
  • 2 1/2 cups Pasta sauce (I make my own, but any marinara sauce is good)

Directions:

  • Cook the jumbo shells according to the package directions…but do not overcook them (I usually aim for 1 minute less than what they say so that they are “al dente”).
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the entire container of cottage cheese, half of the mozzarella cheese, optional parmesan cheese, the chopped spinach, all the spices and egg.  Stir well, making sure the egg is evening mixed in.
  • Once the shells are done cooking, drain them and immediately run cold water over them. This will help cool them off and make sure they don’t get mushy.  
  • Pour 1 1/2 cups of the pasta sauce into the bottom of a 9X13 inch baking pan.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Fill each shell with a huge spoonful of the cheese mixture.  Then place the filled shells into the pan with the sauce.  
  • Use the remaining sauce to put as little dollops on top of the shells.  Then sprinkle the remaining half of the shredded mozzarella over everything.  
  • Cover with tinfoil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  
  • Warning, those shells can really trap in the heat so make sure you cut your kids’ shells in half so they don’t get burned! 

Pancake Muffins

This is a genius idea that I got from Pinterest…but I can’t give that person credit because the link wasn’t working – so, whoever you are out there, THANK YOU!  I did change the recipe a little bit, to make it a little more healthy though.  It is seriously an awesome breakfast option.  This recipe makes about 16 pancake muffins.  






Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pancake mix
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 3 TBSP ground flax seed 
  • 1/3 cup 100% maple syrup (the real stuff really is best)



Filling ideas: Our favorites have been Raspberry White Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip (2 raspberries and 4 white chocolate chips per muffin, and/or 1 tsp Peanut Butter and 4 chocolate chips per muffin).  Blueberry is also delicious (2-3 blueberries per muffin).  You could also do banana, or even make them savory with bits of bacon!




Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well incorporated (do not mix in the fillings yet).  Spray muffin tins with cooking spray OR line with cupcake liners.  I like using a spray because the muffins really stick to the paper liners.  Fill each muffin about 3/4 full.  Place the filling items on top (they will soak into the muffin as they cook).  Bake in a preheated oven of 350 degrees for 13-14 minutes.   

Mamacita’s Homemade Chewy Granola Bars

We can all thank my mom for these.  She made these when I was little…and then forgot about them…and then pulled out the recipe (adapted from the Pillsbury Cookbook) last week when she came to visit us.  One 9 x 13” pan was gone in less than 24 hours at our house.  Kid-friendly and nutritious, plus energizing…these are winners!

Ingredients:
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup (or honey)
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups whole rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup shelled sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup wheat germ
2 Tbs. sesame seed
2 Tbs pepitas (optional)
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted (optional)


Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In large mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, peanut butter, corn syrup, margarine and vanilla.  
  2. Add remaining ingredients until thoroughly mixed.  
  3. Press evenly into greased 9 x 13” baking pan.  Bake 15-20 minutes until golden on the edges.  
  4. Cut into bars once completely cooled.

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