Category Archives: Recipes

Holiday Food Fun with Kids

When many of us think about Christmastime, we immediately start thinking about Christmas dresses, holiday plays and parties, how many Christmas gifts we have left to buy and a host of other things that have to get done (or attended) during this crazy time of year. However, while we’re worrying about everything we have to do before the holiday season is over, those of us with kids often forget that this is a magical time of year for them. The three or four weeks leading up to Christmas are filled with excitement for kids. So, why not take advantage of this excitement and use it to create fun, lasting memories with your kids? One of the most fun ways to do this is by gathering together in the kitchen and making yummy treats the entire family can enjoy. Shoot, why limit it to family? Why not share the treats you make with your friends and/or neighbors? Below are some fun holiday food suggestions that you can make with your kids for a little additional holiday fun.

  • Jello Jigglers – There’s really nothing to this fun treat. All you need is a small baking pan and some jello mix. Spray a very light mist of cooking spray over the baking sheet. Next, prepare the jello as directed on the box but DO NOT add the cold water. (Depending on the size of your baking sheet, you may need two or three boxes of jello) Once mixed, pour the mixture in the baking sheet. Place in the refrigerator for three hours or until the jello is completely set up. Finally, get out your favorite holiday cookie cutters and let the kids cut out jello jigglers. Not only is this a fun activity for the kids, but it also makes for an easy snack too!
  • Caramel Marshmallows –  This is another easy (and fun) snack to make with the kids. You will need a bag of Kraft Caramels, a bag of large marshmallows and a box of rice crispy cereal. Simply unwrap and melt the caramels in a large bowl (don’t forget to add a little milk to ensure the caramel stays soft and edible). Once melted, let the kids dip the marshmallows in the caramel and then the rice crispy cereal. Place dipped marshmallows on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. You can refrigerate these treats or, if they are going to be eaten quickly, leave them at room temperature. Just make sure the caramel has cooled before eating.
  • Cookies, Breads and Candy – Three of the most popular things to make during the holidays are cookies, breads and holiday candy. If you are trying to figure out a nice gift for the neighbors, make these three things and take to the neighbors in a cute festive basket…they’ll love it. Be sure to include the kids in the process in order to make holiday memories and encourage the spirit of giving. Sugar cookies, banana bread and peppermint bark are a few of the easiest holiday treats you can make with kids!

Winter Comfort Food Meal Ideas

As many of you know, Winter is my favorite season. In addition to all of the pretty colors, cooler weather, football season and the excitement of the upcoming holidays, I love to break out my crock pot for Winter cooking! There’s just something about cooking with the slow cooker when the temperature begins to drop outside that I love. It may be the convenience, the lack of a mess, the wonderful aroma that wafts through the house or all of those combined, but Winter crock pot cooking is a favorite of mine. Below are three of my favorite Winter comfort food meals that my family loves – all cooked with the slow cooker!

Ranch Pork Chops:

  • 5 Pork Chops
  • 1 pkg. of Cream Cheese (or 1 c. low-fat cottage cheese, blended)
  • ¼ stick Butter, melted (optional)
  • 1 pkg. Ranch Seasoning Mix
  • 1 can (10 oz) Cream of Mushroom Soup

Mix the last four ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Then, layer the sauce and pork chops in the crock pot (sauce, pork chop, sauce, pork chop, etc.) to ensure all of the chops are covered. Cover with lid and cook on low for 7 hours and serve with mashed potatoes (the sauce makes an excellent gravy!).

Chicken Tetrazzini

  • 2 lbs. Chicken Breast
  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 2 cans (10 oz.) Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1 tub Cream Cheese w/Onion and Chives
  • 1 pkg. Dried Italian Dressing Mix

This is another easy one: Mix the last four ingredients together in a small microwavable bowl, melt and mix well. Next, place the chicken in the bottom of the slow cooker and pour the sauce over it. Cook on low for 6-8 hours and sever over angel hair pasta. While you don’t need anything else with this, garlic bread makes a wonderful addition!

Potato Soup:

  • 5-6 Slices of Bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 – 10.5 oz. cans Condensed Chicken Broth
  • 2 C. Water
  • 5-6 Large Potatoes, diced
  • ½ t. Salt
  • ½ t. Dill Weed (dried)
  • ½ t. White Pepper
  • ½ C. All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 C. Half & Half Cream
  • 1 can (12 oz.) Evaporated Milk

First, sauté the onion and bacon in a large skillet over medium to high heat until the bacon is nicely browned and the onions are soft. Then drain the grease. Place the bacon and onion in the crock pot and mix in the next six ingredients. Cover the slower cooker and cook on low for 6-7 hours. (Stir occasionally.) Finally, mix the next two ingredients together in a small bowl and fold into the soup with the evaporated milk. Let the soup continue to cook on low for an additional 30 minutes before you serve. Shredded cheese and crackers always go well with potato soup!

Healthy After-School Snacks Kids Love

I’m not sure about your kids, but my 6-year old comes home from school and immediately begins to raid the fridge, pantry and wherever else he thinks food may be found. I can’t say that I really blame him, considering the school feeds them (his class) lunch at 10:30 a.m. (I personally think this is WAY too early), but it is sometimes a challenge finding snacks that he loves and that are healthy. However, after many experiments, I have found several that have been winners. Here they are:

  • Fruit Smoothies – I’m a huge fan of fruit smoothies, regardless of what the weather is like outside! There are just so many benefits to them. For instance, they’re filling, contain almost all the fruit you need in a day and taste amazing. I started making smoothies for my little guy last summer when it was incredibly hot and he would complain about being hungry but not want to eat anything (due to the heat) – the smoothies were a great solution. Now, he will come home from school and ask for one. The normal smoothie that I make contains strawberries, blueberries, mango, banana, plain yogurt and is sweetened with honey.
  • Apples, Bananas and Peanut Butter – Another snack that my son never seems to get tired of is peanut butter served with sliced apples and bananas. Some people are hesitant to give their kids ample amounts of peanut butter because they feel like some of the ingredients aren’t good for the kids, which is your right as a parent. I, personally, use the natural peanut butter so my family and I are only getting a few natural ingredients when we indulge in peanut butter. Peanut butter is full of protein and while there is fat in it, it is the healthy fat that is good for us. This is why I serve my little guy 1-2 Tablespoons of peanut butter with his apples and bananas…plus the combination of these items is heavenly!
  • Greek Yogurt – Yogurt is another snack that my son has always enjoyed, but I have recently switched to the greek yogurt as, I feel, there are more benefits associated with it compared to the regular yogurt. One of the things I’ve recently started doing that my son likes is cutting up fresh fruit and mixing it in with the yogurt. Sometimes, I will even add a half a scoop of my protein powder to it for a little extra boost for him.

Finding after school snacks that are healthy and that kids love can be a really difficult task. Therefore, once you find a few that are big hits, keep them! While the snacks I listed above do require a little extra time in preparation on your part, it is totally worth it when you consider how much more you’re kids are getting versus what they would be receiving if you just handed them a few cookies and a bag of chips for a snack.