Friday, January 28, 2011

Ridiculously Easy Fudge


I came across this post and had to try it.

Basically you get a bag of baking chips (chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter, etc) then get a can of frosting.

Put the chips in a microwave safe bowl and put it on for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until it is all melted.

Add in the frosting and stir.

Microwave for 30 more seconds.

Put in a greased 8x8 or 9x9 pan, place in the fridge until it is set.

The flavor combos that seem to work best involve chips that "out-flavor" the frosting.  I've tried  Ghirradeli's bittersweet chocolate chips with cream cheese frosting and it was VERY chocolaty and good.  I've also tried the Chocolate/Peanut butter chips with Betty Crocker chocolate frosting with Hershey's Chocolate and it tastes like a peanut butter cup. :o)

I haven't tried adding nuts yet but I'm sure there are some really cool mixes you could make adding nuts or candy chunks.

For gift giving purposes, this would be great for a neighbor or teacher gift.  Each batch is less than $5 and you could easily package them up for several people with a gift tag or card. :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Easy Fish Dinner

I'm not a big fan of fish.  Tuna is about as adventurous as we got as kids.  I think most of this has to do with the fact that my parents never cooked fish and I'm pretty sure their parents didn't either.

I want to break the cycle of anti-fish eating behavior and try to make fish about 2 times a month.  So far the only fish I have liked have been the ones that aren't "fishy"  Tilapia fits that bill pretty well so that's where I went in the market when my 2.5 year old daughter asked if we could get some fish to eat (weird request, I know.)  I looked online for an easy recipe and found this:

Easy Baked Tilapia

Prep Time: 5 Minutes Ready In: 35 Minutes

Cook Time: 30 Minutes (25-35) Servings: 4
4 (4 ounce) fillets tilapia (I used a whole package that was 1.18 lbs and 6 or 7 small fillets)
3 teaspoons butter
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning TM, or
to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, or to taste
1 lemon, sliced 
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 (16 ounce) package frozen mixed veggies (I used cauliflower, broccoli, and carrot blend)
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
2. Place the tilapia fillets in the bottom of the baking dish and dot with butter ( I also coated with some evoo). Season with Old Bay seasoning and garlic salt. Top each one with a slice or two of lemon. Arrange the frozen mixed vegetables around the fish, and season lightly with salt and pepper.
3. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until vegetables are tender and fish flakes easily with a fork. I also uncovered it and baked about 10 more minutes.

Prepped and uncooked

Cooked and Plated

It was very easy to make and did not require being "watched", which is a must with 2 little ones.  I made a side of brown rice with some chicken broth added to the water and some Old Bay sprinkled in the rice cooker at the beginning.  The verdict....we all liked it!!! By all I include a 2.5 year old a 9 month old and 2 adults. So this will go  into the rotation of recipes and I will try some more with Tilapia in the future.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What works when feeding toddlers/babies

Between about 12 months to 4 years old (and maybe further) kids are figuring out food and can be pretty picky sometimes.  I have been blessed with a daughter who will eat ANYTHING and likes almost everything, but there are still tried and true foods that she will always want and hardly put up any argument to eat plus they are usually easy and portable.


This includes just plain cheese slices, string cheese, or cheese chunks.  Also, cheese as an accessory.  Put some cheese on anything and it is more appealing and more fun.  If a kid is wary of something...try it with some cheese.

2.) Quesadilla

This would appear to be an extension of #1, but it is a different category.  I keep soft taco sized wheat tortillas in the fridge and ALWAYS have some sort of shredded cheese in there too.  You can put anything in a quesadilla and 1.) it follows the cheese rule and 2.) its instant utensil-free finger food.  It's also a portable and a fun option when sandwiches are getting old.  I put veggies in it, turkey, chicken, a layer of mashed beans, whatever I have or just cheese and my girl will happily eat it.

3.) Peanut butter.

Here you will get some people cringing about allergies or sugar.  You can find "natural" peanut butter with no crazy extra ingredients and not much sugar.  Also, there are other nut butters and seed butters you can find in most stores or health stores.   Peanut butter is easy and portable and can mix with a lot of flavors in a sandwich or as a dip.  Make sure your child can chew well and 12 months just a small thin spread on a piece of toast is enough so it won't be too sticky and become a hazard.

4.) "Lunchables"

Not the actual ones, but your own versions.  If you are out and about, cut up everything in a plastic container put in some whole grain crackers and let the kids eat like that.  Its not a good meal on the move (in the car or stroller) but it works at a park where you can sit and enjoy the day for a bit.

5.) Muffin Tin Meals

The concept here is to separate components of a meal into muffin tins, sort of like a lunchable, but with more options.  This can be meats, cheeses, veggies fruit, sauce, and even a treat.   The more colorful and fun it looks the more they will want to eat and be willing to try.  This is more of an at home meal than a portable one, but it works well as an indoor "picnic" or when you just don't have time to make anything, throw a bunch of stuff in and it looks fun.

6.) Cookie cutters/Sandwich cutters.

My daughter will eat any sandwich if it is in a fun shape.  There are sandwich cutters as well as just regular cookie cutters that work for this.  The sandwich cutters leave less waste for actual sandwiches and save time cutting off crusts.

7.) Smoothies

These are not always convenient to make but they seem like a treat and have a ton of nutrients.  Put in some plain yogurt, berries, bananas, etc. and you have a pretty good breakfast or lunch.   This is best when kids can suck through a straw or drink from a cup but you could do a thick one and use a spoon too.  I've also seen people make smoothie Popsicle and its almost as good as ice cream.  It's also a good option when kids are sick and need to eat but don't want solids.

8.) Noodles (pasta)

Especially finger food type shapes (bow tie, rotini, penne, rigatoni, fiori)  When they are really little, ct them into reaaly small pieces.  Later when they ae adept at chewing enough before they swallow, let the kids at it.  Expect a mess but this was one of the first foods my daughter gladly fed herself.  If you have kids, you know that it takes at least half an hour of frustrated feeding to get them all done.  When she was able to feed herself, I was able to eat my dinner with her, or clean up a little while she sat in the high chair.  Just be prepared with wipes or a wet wash cloth to wipe them down afterwards.

9.) Naked Eating and Eating Shirts

Did I mention, any messy foods would usually be eaten naked if possible?  If we are at home, it's the easiest way to avoid ruining a ton of clothes.  Another option is to have "eating shirts"  basically a tshirt that is too big and not really fashionable (we got ours from a summer reading program that only had kid sizes not toddler/baby sizes) and it can be slipped over their whole outfit or just over their bodies and thrown in the wash .  You can get some at the Dollar store too and make em cute if you want.  After kids start self feeding, bibs just don't cut it.  Food will end up from head to knees and in all cracks and crevices so much more protection and coverage is needed.  You can also never let your kid feed themselves but then you will never be free to do anything...ever again.

10.) Hide the "good" stuff (or actually the bad stuff)

For as long as possible avoid things like chicken nuggets, fries, soda, anything super sweet or super salty.  Don't dress food with extra sauces if you don't need to.  Most food is tasty on its own (sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, fruit etc.)  and it does not need anything added.  My daughter likes hamburgers and I know its not the best option overall as a food but if we go out she will get a small burger with no mayo, no fries, and water or a very small juice box.  I know if you are a new and "informed" parent you are thinking there is no way you would give your kid bad foods.  Well when you are running errands and your toddler is hungry but you forgot to pack something suitable or you ran later than you thought, those drive thru's are hard to resist.  You can usually get away with something less evil if you do a little research ahead.  Jack in the Box has grilled chicken strips, a plain hamburger isn't too bad and has a lot of protein, most places have a grilled cheese option (though it will be really cheesy and kind of greasy.)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chicken, Broccoli and Red Pepper Pasta with a cream sauce.

1 lb. Boneless chicken breast (cubed)
1 package frozen broccoli
1 box chicken broth
1 8 oz tub chive and onion cream cheese
1 medium Red Bell pepper (thinly sliced)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 lb pasta (penne, bow tie, rotini, would all work)
poultry seasoning
extra virg. olive oil

Get salted water boiling for pasta.

In a large saute pan add about 2 tbsp oil and the chicken.  Season with salt (a couple pinches), pepper (5-6 cranks of the grinder) and poultry (maybe 1/2 tsp) seasoning (sorry no measurements).  Saute until browned and cooked through.  Remove from pan, set aside.

In same pan, add about 1 tbsp oil, broccoli, chopped pepper, and garlic.  Saute add a pinch of salt.  saute about 10 minutes.  Remove, set aside.

Start cooking pasta, go about a minute under "done" I usually go with the minimum time that the package says and with this recipe subtract a minute from that.

In same pan, add 2-2.5 cups of broth, bring to a boil.  Add tub of cream cheese and stir to combine.  Sauce will be pretty thin at first and clumpy but it will all work out.  Cook for about 10 minutes, add in veggies and chicken. 

Pour over drained pasta and stir.  Allow sauce to thicken as it cools and stir again.

***If you want to freeze this, stop after the sauce is made, don't cook the pasta and you can add the thawed re-heated sauce to pasta another time.

CALORIE ESTIMATES: 525 per serving (for 6 servings), or 400 per serving (for 8 servings)


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