Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Real Quarter Pounder (Cookie)

I'm all for eating healthy, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and limited sugar. But old habits die hard and lets face it, sugar... chocolate to be more precise is GOOD. Can you imagine the boys' faces when they were served a cookie, no... TWO cookies, filled with an insane amount of frosting, the size of their head? Instead of the bouncing off the walls I think we really overdid it and just went straight to sugar comatose. We're such cool parents.

Chocolate Brownie Cookies

We found this wonderful recipe on Apple Pies, Patis & Pate. A cookie, a brownie... everything wonderful about the two. We doubled the recipe below for about 12 giant sandwich cookies.


3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 large eggs
1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 375 F

Prepare a cookie sheet by lining with parchment paper

Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl. Combine well.

In a double boiler melt chocolate and butter. Let it cool.

While the chocolate is cooling, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla to the ribbon stage. The eggs will be foamy and increase in volume considerably. <-- This step is a major pain. Mike and I were taking turns and both should have huge arm muscles now. Once the chocolate is barely warm to the touch add it to the whipped eggs and mix gently until well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients. Fold with a spatula until smooth. Spoon onto parchment lined baking sheet. You could make "normal" size cookies, about silver dollar sized..... but that's just boring :) Leave uncovered at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Bake at 375 F for 12-15 minutes, our giant cookies took about 16 minutes. The cookies should be slightly underbaked in the middle, like any good cookie should. Cream Cheese Frosting This recipe we got from All Recipes


2 8oz. packages of cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sifted powdered sugar


Blend cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in vanilla and then slowly add powdered sugar.

To assemble your masterpiece simply put an insane amount of frosting between two cooled cookie and enjoy :)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Strawberry & Banana Muffins

Think banana bread, only better! Like if you glazed your banana bread with strawberry jam and it was still good for you. I am going to top one of these with some honey greek yogurt because I bet it would be heavenly :)


1 cup strawberries
1 banana
1 scoop protein mix (I used strawberry, banana, vanilla, but any flavor you have works. Chocolate would be great with these) I got my mix from YouBar!
1 cup oats
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup milled flax seed
1/2 cup pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
strawberry jam


Heat oven to 350 F and line muffin tins with paper cups.

Mix dry ingredients in your food processor. Pour into a large bowl.

Mix wet ingredients (minus the strawberry jam) in the food processor and pour into your dry ingredients.

Mix well and fill muffin cups 3/4 full.

Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Heat about 1/2 cup strawberry jam in the microwave so it spreads easier. Use a pastry brush to glaze the tops of your muffins with the strawberry jam.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

OMG PB&J Muffins

These are healthy? Seriously? Because OMG they are SO GOOD! Am I bragging? Yes I am, because I just made this recipe up and it rocks.
You might not believe me when you look at the ingredients, but they have been carefully selected to add sweetness, healthy vitamins and make a delicious muffin that you can eat completely guilt free.


1/2 cup flour
1 cup oats
1/2 cup almonds1/2 milled flax seed
1 cup dried plums (did you know they've officially been renamed "dried plums" because people associate "prunes" with old people and .... well, ya know.")
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/4 cup honey or agave nectar2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup carrot juice
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (the real stuff, not Jiffy)
Your favorite jam or fruit preserves, not jelly because it will just soak into the muffin.


Preheat oven to 350F and line muffin tins (this made 18) with those fancy little paper liners or spray with cooking spray.

Put in your food processor: flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, oats, almonds, dried plums and milled flax seed. Pulse until well mixed and chopped small.
In large bowl mix honey or agave and oil. Add eggs, vanilla, carrot juice and peanut butter. You may want to warm the peanut butter a bit first. Since the real stuff is kept in the fridge it doesn't mix quite as well cold.

Add dry ingredients and combine everything well.

Put about a Tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup covering the entire bottom of the muffin tin.

Drop a dollop of jam into the middle of each muffin cup.

Top with another Tablespoon of the batter and cover jam completely, filling muffin tin to the top.

Put muffins in the 350 F oven for 18-20 minutes until tops are browned.

Remove from pan and put on wire rack to cool.

Eat one while it's warm then come back here and leave a comment telling me how much you love me :) PS - Be careful, the fruit inside is HOT!

Another variation:

I made this with almond butter instead, about 1 cup
Applesauce instead of the carrot juice
1/2 cup whole wheat flour instead of the almonds

Great variation! Not sure which one I like better, they're both keepers :)

Baked Spaghetti

We were walking through Costco and one of the samples happened to be spaghetti. The kids played "baby bird" all the way through the store, so naturally, we had spaghetti for dinner. Tomato sauce is an excellent opportunity to add additional healthy ingredients. Most kids will eat tomato sauce no problem and there are plenty of healthy additions you can use that nobody will even know are in there.

To one jar of spaghetti sauce I added 1/2 cup of carrot juice. The boys actually really liked the plain carrot juice (yuck) and the color and flavor make it combine very well with tomato sauce. I also added 1/2 cup of sweet potato puree. Too much sweet potato and you will be able to taste it (although not a bad thing if you enjoy sweet potatoes). I'm not a big fan and neither is anyone else here so I added just 1/2 cup and couldn't taste it at all. I Love spinach, can you tell by looking at my recipes? Not canned or frozen, I think those taste terrible, but fresh (especially baby) spinach has almost no real taste to it (but amazing health benefits) and mixes well with almost anything. But it's not such a bad thing to love :) I added 2 cups of fresh baby spinach. If you have family members that you couldn't pay to eat anything with spinach I suggest taking those 2 cups, or even cutting it back to one and pureeing it in your food processor. The last thing I added was flax seed for the Omega-3s. If I put a bread topping on this, which would be good but Mike would have nothing to do with it, then I would mix the ground flax into that. But I only top it with cheese so I took 2 Tablespoons of flax seeds ground in the food processor (your body can't absorb them whole, they are too small) and mixed it into the sauce. To get the right amount of Omega-3s adults should have about 2 Tablespoons of flax seed a day. Fish is the other good source of Omega-3s, but Mike refuses to eat store bought fish and he hasn't been fishing in awhile. I miss our freezer full of Halibut and Salmon :( But he did finally get the new boat floor cut so maybe, just maybe, this year?

The meatballs I used were from Costco, can you tell we made a Costco trip today? They are precooked chicken, spinach and fontina meatballs. So good.

Okay, enough rambling.

Ingredients: *this makes a lot of spaghetti, but who doesn't love spaghetti leftovers?

1 package of spaghetti noodles (17.6oz)
1 jar of spaghetti sauce (32oz.)
1 package of precooked meatballs or make your own *enough to cover the bottom of a 13x9" pan.
1/2 cup carrot juice
1/2 cup pureed sweet potato
2 cups fresh baby spinach
2 Tablespoons flax seed
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese


Heat oven to 350F and grease a 13x9" pan
Spread meatballs out over the bottom of the pan
Cook pasta according to package directions until just done, about 8 minutes. Drain and rinse.
Put anything you need to in the food processor. (flax seeds, spinach if you need to...)
Mix sauce, carrot juice, sweet potato, spinach and ground flax together in a bowl. Mix in cooked noodles.
Pour noodle/sauce mixture over meatballs and top with shredded cheese.
Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.

All of us barely ate half of this casserole it was so much, but Thomas has been begging for spaghetti in his school lunch and Mike loves spaghetti sandwiches so it will save me some work throughout the week.

And the picture really doesn't do it justice. The slightly crunchy cheese and noodles at the top are the best part :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pizza Night

Usually we just go down the street to our local Papa Murphy's and pick up a take n bake pizza. Tonight I wanted to get the kids involved and let them put their own toppings on... and whatdya know, it saves money too :)

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough


2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons agave (or honey)
2 teaspoons quick rise yeast
4 Tablespoons oil
5 cups whole wheat flour


Mix water, agave and salt together until dissolved. Pour in yeast and let sit for 10 minutes.

Stir in oil and slowly add flour, mixing one cup at a time until dough forms a nice ball.

Add water or flour a little at a time to reach desired consistency.

Place ball of dough in a well oiled bowl and coat in oil. Cover and let sit for one hour.

Punch dough down and separate into 12 little balls. I made 10, but a few were too big so I'll be making 12 next time. You could spend the extra minute and make them prettier than mine, but you're going to flatten them out anyway right?

Oil and place in an oiled baking sheet to rise for another hour, covered.

On a floured surface use your hands to make each ball into a flat little pizza. Now lets get to the fun part!

While I'd prefer to make my own pizza sauce I had a can of it I needed to use up so to make myself feel better about all the sugar in the canned pizza sauce I added a can of pureed sweet potato (nobody even noticed). Mikes hates sweet potatoes and he loved the pizza. Spread each pizza with 1-2 Tablespoons of sauce.

Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and your favorite pizza toppings... and then a little more cheese because it's good.

Thomas added turkey pepperoni, pineapple and tomato. Michael added turkey pepperoni and pineapple, but later picked off the pineapple. Joshua had turkey pepperoni, black beans and pineapple.

My pizza had spinach,tomato, black beans, bell pepper and turkey pepperoni. It filled a small salad place perfectly and I was stuffed after eating 3/4 of it, probably should've stopped at half.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Apples and Greek Yogurt

Not really cooking, but for a great snack or breakfast this is tasty :) Grab yourself an apple, wash and slice it. Scoop yourself a 1/2 cup of greek yogurt with honey and dip away! Healthy and tasty, not to mention kids love anything you can dip!

Cub Scout Camping Cake

Every year the local Cub Scout Pack has a cake auction to raise money. Parents and their scouts make a cake and bring it to the pack meeting where they boys bid on the cakes, the top three cakes with the highest bids are announced, money goes to the pack and cakes go home with the highest bidders.

This was our first year with Thomas in Cub Scouts, so our first year participating. Like a kid in a candy store (which I was later on in this story) I searched the Internet for a creative cake. Some suggestions I got from my wonderful FB friends were mud pies, dirt cups, kitty litter cake, swimming pool cake and treasure chest cake. Mud pies would be great for Cub Scouts, but I wanted something that would show a little more creativity. I made dirt cups for one of the Den meetings so those were out for now, but I'll have to post the recipe because they are tons of fun! I actually saw a lot of kitty litter cakes on sites showing pictures for entries into these Cub Scout cake auctions, but I just couldn't get past the.... well.... I have cats and.... gross. I decided on the Treasure Chest cake for awhile, but eventually got distracted with the swimming pool cake idea. After going to the store and finding nothing I needed for the swimming pool cake I threw a temper tantrum and chose a camping theme instead, so there. Of course when I went to the REAL candy store for the camping cake I found everything I needed for the swimming pool, but I was pretty excited about the camping cake idea.

First I Googled "camping cake" and looked at a bunch of them taking down ideas I liked from each one. Then I drew what I wanted the cake to look like on a piece of paper and had Thomas help decide what should be included and where it would go. Come to find out later I drew everything the size I wanted it to be to fit my idea, not the actual size... oops.

Then we made a list of what we would need from the store.

vanilla cake mix
chocolate frosting
sugar cones (used 3)
kit kat bars (used 6)
small gummy fish (used 3)
brown jelly beans (used under 20)
candy rocks (used under 20)
airheads (used 2)
teddy grahams (used under 10)
gummy lifesaver (used 1)
red hots (used under 20)
heath bits (used about 1/2 cup)
green frosting (used 3 tubes... yeah.)
pretzel sticks (used under 10)
licorice whips (used about a foot worth?)
blue jello
4 packs knox unflavored gelatin
gummy frogs (used 3)
gum balls (used 2)
chocolate bar (used one large)
tootsie roll candies (for the long ones about 3)
1 tube blue frosting
1 tube yellow frosting

What I bought and what I actually used..... I have a lot of leftover candy. So I suggest going to a candy store like Sweet Factory where you pay by the pound and can pick out 1 gummy life saver instead of buying the whole pack. I did go to that candy store, but realized the cake was ginormous in my head and there wasn't nearly enough room for my plans.

To make the cake *This is how I made this one, I will post things I'll do differently at the end:

Bake the box mix cake in a disposable cake pan and let it cool completely.

While the cake was baking I dressed my Cub Scout bears. I used the blue frosting for the uniform shirt and slacks and then the yellow frosting for the bandanna. I also made the canoe out of an airhead and put one bear in the canoe and one in the gummy saver.

Cut out your lake, don't cut all the way to the pan. Frost cake with chocolate frosting. Mom says freeze it before you frost it for easier frosting, thanks Mom. Love you :)

Use the recipe on the back of the know for knox blocks (a childhood favorite by the way) but instead of juice use water and add the blue jello mix to the hot water before you add the knox. Put it in a pan to set up in the fridge. When it's slightly set, enough solid not to seep into your cake, scoop some out to fill your lake. Add gummy fish in the water, boat and swimming scout. Let it finish setting.

Next was the trees. Okay so I was impatient and made the trees while the jello was setting up. A brilliant idea I saw while browsing the Internet. Turn a sugar cone upside down and push into the cake so it's stable. You can break part of the cone off for a shorter tree. Use the star looking tip on the green frosting and cover the trees. It took one tube of frosting to cover one full tree and the shorter one or one full tree and a bush.

The bushes are gumballs covered in green frosting like the trees with red hots added for berries.

We placed candy rocks around the edge of the lake and gummy frogs in various places.

For the campfire we cut the candy rocks in half and made a fire circle. Red hots for the coals, pretzel sticks for the.... sticks and licorice rope for the flames. Sure the fire is huge compared to the teddy bear scouts, but oh well. For a birthday cake I would use a candle in the fire :) We placed the tootsie roll candies (small pieces) as logs around the fire and put a teddy scout at every other one.

We outlined a path from where the cabin would be to the lake and around the fire pit with brown jelly beans. Using Heath toffee bits for rocks or sand we filled in the path.

The cabin was the most difficult part.... so I made Mike do it :) Using kit kat bars and melting the other chocolate bar for glue he pieced it together. He put a couple pieces together and then let it chill for a few minutes to harden.

While he was making the cabin I ate candy..... I mean.... I surrounded two teddy scouts with airhead sleeping bags to put inside the cabin.

Because the cake was not flat we used caramels to prop up the back and make it more level. We covered those up with "grass" made of more green frosting.

Next time:

I'll make a bigger and flatter cake.
I'll make the rocks around the lake smaller.
I'll figure out how to make a fishing pole.
I'll make the fire smaller.
I'll crush the Heath bits for a finer sand.
I know I had more ideas, but I'm sleepy.

Out of 19 cakes we tied second place and our cake raised $21 for the Pack.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tomato and Broccoli Mac n Cheese

Who doesn't love mac n cheese? It's pasta and cheese, two of my favorite things. Now have you ever read the back of a mac n cheese box? Gross. I mean, at least I think it's gross because I have no idea what they are talking about in that list of ingredients, but it can't be good. Homemade mac n cheese is delicious and better for you, but don't fool yourself, it is still pasta and cheese. To make it a touch healthier and reach that five servings of fruits/veggies a day I made a tomato and broccoli mac n cheese. Even when the kids pick around the broccoli they are still getting the tomato; Victory, sweet victory.


2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
2 cups tomato soup *I used my organic boxed tomato and roasted red pepper soup because it rocks
2 cups broccoli (washed and chopped)
1 1/2 cups extra sharp cheddar (shredded)
1/2 cup milk


Grease casserole dish and preheat oven to 350 F.

Cook macaroni until just barely done... what's that fancy word???? Al dente? Sounds right. Drain.

Oh! Throw the broccoli in with the pasta for the last minute of boiling.

Heat soup and milk together until boiling. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of the cheese.

Mix pasta and sauce together. Put it in a greased casserole dish and top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Now I know it looks like noodles and soup (I was a little worried myself), but trust me here... it'll work out :)

Cover and cook at 350 F for 30 minutes, removing foil for the last 5-10 minutes.

Splitting this recipe into four servings (which are large servings) they are each under 400 calories!

This was good, but would be excellent with the right herbs. If only I knew what those would be..... Mom? are you reading this? What would those be?

Spinach and Red Pepper Frittata

I was going to take a picture of the finished product, but I ate it...... so this is right before it went into the oven.

I think I make a new frittata every weekend. They are so easy and a good way to use up some veggies. This weekend, two of my favorite veggies were used (that's what you get for sleeping in and making me get up early with the kids honey) spinach and red bell pepper. Hubby's favorite is the Spinach and Mushroom frittata.


8 eggs
2 cups raw spinach *I've never tried using frozen, but I'd think you would let it thaw and then squeeze as much water out as you could. But frozen spinach doesn't taste nearly as good as fresh.
1 red bell pepper *the red and green were so pretty together, I should have made this one for Christmas morning.
1/2 cup salsa *I use mild, but use whatever heat you prefer
1/2 extra sharp cheddar (shredded)

I suppose spices would make some of my dishes even better, but I haven't figured out all of those just yet. Soon though, I did get some refills for my indoor herb garden. For now I just use a lot of salsa :)


Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a round cake or pie pan.

Wash and chop your veggies.

Put all ingredients except for the eggs in a large mixing bowl and mix well.

Lightly beat your eggs in a small bowl.

mix eggs into the rest of your ingredients.

Pout batter into your prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350 F. Insert a toothpick and it should come out clean.

Let it cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Yes, yes I know a frittata is supposed to be cooked in a skillet on the stove..... get over it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Zucchini Carrot Muffins

These muffins are great for a healthy breakfast on the go and another good way to get your kids to eat their veggies... and even ask for more (three before I had to put the plate up REALLY high.)


1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup applesauce *using applesauce in place of some of the oil will lessen the fat content and add moisture
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup oatmeal (ground in food processor) *grinding oatmeal to a fine powder and using in place of some of the flour is a tasty and healthy alternative
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons cinnamon *cinnamon is great for maintaining blood sugar and it tastes good :)
2 small zucchini (ground in food processor)
2 large carrots (ground in food processor)
1/2 cup almonds (ground in food processor) *I don't like almonds, but they are very good for you so I grind them up and throw them in the mix. With all of the other flavors in these muffins I can't taste the almonds.
1/2 cup dried blueberries *full of antioxidants!
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries *the dried fruit adds fiber, potassium and sweetness to the muffins.

Wow... that looks like a lot of ingredients.

Heat oven to 375 F and place paper liners in 18 muffin cups.

In a mixing bowl combine oil, applesauce, eggs, sugars and vanilla.

In another bowl mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients to the dry ones and stir until combined. Add your fruit and veggies and mix again.

Fill muffin cups about 3/4 of the way.

You can add a topping. I ground up some cinnamon granola and put it on top. It tasted good, but I think I'd leave it off next time. There was enough texture and flavor in the muffins without the topping.

Bake muffins for 15-20 minutes in a 375 F oven.

Eat plain or spread with a little butter and smile knowing you're eating your fruits, veggies and oatmeal for breakfast.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Apple Cinnamon Dog Treats

With all of the allergy issues we had before making their food and all the recalls on pet food and treats I make our dogs treats. It's also much cheaper!!! We made these for our local dog shelters as well and they were thrilled to get homemade treats. The picture above is a mix of three recipes we used. The Apple Cinnamon treats are the circle shaped ones. I will post the other two recipes soon :)

Apple Cinnamon Cookies
(for dogs)

1 large apple (or about 1 cup applesauce with no added sugar)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup oatmeal
1 1/2 cups flour (or enough to make stiff dough) **Spelt flour or whole wheat flour is best
1/8 cup whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 325 F

Core, slice and mince the apple (use a food processor if you have one). In a large bowl, combine the minced apple bits, honey, cinnamon, and oatmeal. Gradually blend in the flour, adding enough to form a stiff dough.

In a small bowl, add 1/8 cup wheat flour. Spoon the dough by rounded teaspoon onto greased baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Using the bottom of a glass dipped in the flour (to prevent sticking), flatten each spoonful of dough into a circle. Adjust the size of the drops based on how big a treat you like to feed your dog.

Bake for 20 minutes on each side.

Tested and approved by kids and dogs :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hulk Smoothie

My three boys Love Hulk. It is super cute to watch 2 year old Joshua use his "big voice" and say "Hulk Smash!!!!!" We like to have smoothies as part of a snack or with breakfast in the morning. When trying to lose weight smoothies make a good snack alone or meal replacement with some protein powder added. But for these little boys, they need the extra calories so we add the smoothies to their meals.

Smoothies are the perfect way to get your kids to eat fruits and veggies. My boys love fruit anyway, except Joshua who loves it on his own terms. He loves bananas, raisins, dried mangos, freeze dried fruit and apples. Anything else he won't eat unless it's of smoothie consistency. He's always been very talented when it comes to swallowing his spoonful of yogurt while simultaneously spitting out the itty bitty pieces of fruit.

Spinach - I seem to sneak it into everything - is a great superfood and is one of the handful of veggies that slips unnoticed into a fruit smoothie. Well, not completely unnoticed. While you can't TASTE the spinach, it does make your smoothie green. Luckily most kids think fun colored foods are well... fun. Just give it a fun name like "Hulk Smoothie" or "Popeye Smoothie" and they'll at least try it and realize they love it.

If they still won't drink it I have another trick up my sleeve.... put it in popsicle molds and stick it in the freezer. I haven't met a kid yet that would turn down a popsicle.

We use whatever we have on hand for our smoothies, but here is one of our favorites.

Hulk Smoothie:


2 mangoes (peeled and chopped)
1 banana
2 cups raw baby spinach
1 cup 100% cranberry juice
handful raw almonds
1 Tablespoon flax seeds
Water to get your smoothie to desired consistency
handful of ice


Wash your fruit and veggies. Put everything in your blender and mix! Add water until your smoothie is of desired consistency. Drink up! *If making popsicles put it into your molds and in the freezer.

If some of your fruit is frozen you can skip the ice. When we have too much fruit I chop, peel or whatever I need to do to prepare it when it's fully ripe and put it in bags in the freezer for smoothies. I learned the hard way that you have to peel a banana before freezing it. Have you ever tried to peel a frozen banana?

Before you say "Eeeew!" try it! You can't taste the spinach, flax seeds or almonds. I HATE almonds, but they are really good for you. This is the only way I will eat them because I can't taste them.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Rainbow Quinoa Casserole

Quinoa (keen-wa) is a wonderful grain that doesn't get near enough credit. Full of protein and fiber, easy to cook and tasty! We all know whole grains are part of a healthy diet and I am happy to use quinoa as my whole grain of choice. We use it in many dishes in place of rice.

I love having a refrigerator full of fresh veggies, it just makes me FEEL healthy looking at them. I also love making casseroles. When cooking for so many people a one pot meal is a welcome option.

My casseroles are always made based on what I have on hand, I suck at planning :) First I like to use a rainbow of veggies. To make sure your body is getting all of the proper nutrients it is important to eat a diet diverse in colors (colors that grow, not like fruit loops.) Then I pick a grain, usually quinoa or brown rice, but pasta is not to be ignored in my house. Sometimes I choose a meat or meat substitute to add and sometimes I just leave it out all together. And then for the sauce. The sauce is usually where most the calories come from in a casserole, full of cream, cheese.... and more cream and cheese (cheese is yummy). Using my casserole creating method this is what I came up with for tonight's dinner and it turned out delicious, I love it when that happens :)

Rainbow Quinoa Casserole


1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups organic tomato/roasted red pepper soup (I love this stuff and I can buy it at Costco!)
1/2 cup tofutti cream cheese (AKA: fake cream cheese)
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
2-3 cups spinach
1 zucchini
1 yellow bell pepper
4 small (or 2 large) carrots
2 tomatoes
1 package fake burger stuff..... not bad, I had it in the fridge (feel free to use real meat; beef, turkey, chicken)


Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a 13 X 9" pan.

Soak quinoa for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse thoroughly. Cook as you would rice using 1 1/2 cups water for 1 cup quinoa.

Wash and chop your veggies into bite size pieces. Put them in a bowl and look at how pretty they are! Some people might saute their veggies here, but I prefer not to cook the crap out of my vegetables most of the time, a little bit of crunch does wonders for a dish like this.

Mix 1 cup soup and fake cream cheese into your veggies.

Cook meat, fake meat... whatever you are using and mix it into your veggies.

Mix cooked quinoa into your veggies.

Put your bowl of goodness into your greased casserole dish and spread it out evenly. Pour remaining cup of soup over the top and top that with the 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar.

Cover with foil and put it in the oven at 350 F for 30 minutes.

Remove foil and cook for 5-10 more minutes.

Serve with a side of fruit.

*I always salt & pepper my food after it's cooked, I add less that way if any.

Kale Gnocchi Casserole

Once again I needed to use up some stuff before my SPUD! delivery. To save $25 on your first four SPUD! orders enter code CR5-3495048 at checkout. First on my list to use up was some Ricotta cheese. Kale is another super healthy green we should all eat more of, but it can be bitter plain. This is an excellent way to eat it and get your kids to eat it too!


For the gnocchi:

2 cup ricotta
2 egg yolk
squeeze of fresh lemon juice ('cause the stupid grater wouldn't give me any zest)
1/2 cup finely chopped kale (I put it through the food processor)
dash o salt
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup shredded cheese (i used a Mexican blend because that's what I had, but Italian would've been better)

For the casserole:

8 Morning Star veggie sausage patties
1 can diced tomatoes with garlic and oregano
1 can mushrooms
1 can cream of mushroom (I have a crazy amount of this in the pantry.. seriously)
1/2 can kidney beans
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1 jar Newman's Own marinara sauce

To make the gnocchi:

Preheat oven to 350F

Mix ricotta, egg yolks, salt and cheese. Mix in half of the flour. Put the dough on a floured surface and knead the rest of the flour into the dough. When well blended (don't over knead or it will be sticky) cut into four equal parts. Roll one at a time into 1 inch rolls, slice into 1 inch pieces. Do this with all four pieces of dough.

Place the gnocchi on a lightly greased cookie sheet and brush with olive oil or melted butter. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. Eat a few....

To make the casserole:

Lay the veggie sausage patties on the bottom of the casserole dish. Mix the tomatoes, beans, mushrooms and cream of mushroom together and put on the patties. Put the baked gnocchi on top of that. Spread marinara over the gnocchi and top with cheese. Put it back in the 350F oven for 25 minutes.

This kinda sounds like a lot of work, but it's really not....

The kids even loved this! I could've just snacked on the baked gnocchi and been perfectly happy, but this made a good meal :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dog Food

Our three dogs were included in my 10 so I figure I should add a recipe for them too. I've cooked our dogs' food for a little over a year now, the health benefits have been AMAZING.

You learned a little about Tuffy's battle with Cancer in my first post. We really thought we were going to lose him right before the Christmas of 2008. I am happy to report that he is thriving over a year later.

Bumper had CONSTANT ear infections. We had them on premium allergy formula dog food and cleaned his ears with medication twice every day.... nothing seemed to help. After a couple months on homemade food the ear infections and sores on his ears from all of the scratching were gone and have not returned. Not to mention it makes him super cool.

Our Oscar Meyer would get a bad skin rash on regular food as many small dogs do. Food allergies seem to be more apparent in the smaller breeds. All of his problems are gone after being on homemade food.

We used to have to refill the gigantic water dish three or more times a day for the dogs, they were ALWAYS drinking water. And you would too if you ate that store bought kibble. Have you ever tasted it? Do it. I dare you. Or just ask Joshua, it was his first solid food courtesy of big brother Michael. It is dry and salty.

Now that I make their food we clean the water bowl once a day, but it's never empty. I rarely see them go over and take a drink. Why? Because with fresh food that actually contains water they aren't so dehydrated.

Now I'm not a vet, so please talk to your vet before changing your dog's diet... this is just what I do. And after talking to our vet, he said this was the best food for them (he didn't give me a high five, but I think he wanted to.) He added in some good treats would be frozen pieces of raw liver. Our dogs love ice cubes so I'm sure a raw liver ice cube *gag* would be well accepted. We haven't gotten one yet, but we will because it does pack a ton of healthy nutrients for them. Once nasty cube a day should do it. The other supplement he suggested was fish oil. We got a HUGE jug of it and squirt about a Tablespoon of it on their food once a day (they eat twice a day). We also give them doggy vitamins just to be sure they are getting what they need.

One of the things I love about making their food is the variety they get. There are so many ways to mix it up, change the veggies, meat and grain. It's also a great way to use up leftovers rather than throwing them away. Move over Dad, there's a new garbage disposal (or three) in town. Any veggies I need to use up, but they might be passed their prime before I get to them..... throw them in the food processor and add them to the dog food. Any leftover dinner that doesn't contain anything harmful (like onions) to the dogs and won't be eaten by us for whatever reason... goes into the dog food.

Do the dogs enjoy homemade food? Duh! You should hear them while I make their food or get ready to feed them. They whine and wag their tails and wait so impatiently. They know I'm messy and something will surely end up on the floor.

So one recipe is as follows (remember I mix this recipe up with new ingredients for variety and to be sure they are getting the proper nutrients) :


5 pound roll of ground turkey (this costs us between $5-$8 per roll)
5 pounds of veggies (it's usually cheapest and easiest to use frozen which still pack most of the same great health benefits)
3 cups uncooked brown rice (good alternatives are oats and quinoa)

** Be sure you are aware of what foods may be harmful for dogs before making their food. Onions, garlic, chocolate to name a few, but there are many more. We don't use corn because there really is no nutritional value, it comes out looking the same as when it went in... gross.


Cook meat until browned all the way through.

Cook rice in a rice cooker until done.

You can steam the veggies in a steamer or chop them in a food processor raw. Keep pieces small to avoid choking, dogs tend to skip the whole chewing thing and just swallow their food. Processing it first helps "chew" it for them ensuring they get the most nutritional benefits.

Mix it all together and eat a bowl if you want, I bet it's good.

This recipe gives us enough for our three dogs for about 2 1/2 days. I keep wanting to get ahead and freeze some, but they eat A LOT. Ask your vet about how much to feed your dog. Because there is actually water in this food you feed them a bit more. Our big Labs get 3 cups twice a day and our Doxie gets 1 1/2 cups twice a day.

Polenta Pizzas

This recipe came about when I was using a pre-cooked roll of polenta for the first time. I had NO idea what in the world to do with it... but I'm pretty proud of my creative yet simple end result. I made this awhile ago and took pictures because it was pretty, but I don't remember how much of everything I used, so bear with me on the guessing here.


1 roll of pre-cooked polenta
1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce (homemade usually being healthier and jarred being more practical I went with organic jarred)
Shredded mozzarella cheese.... uhhh let's say 1 cup?
Tofurky sausages OR a topping of your choice
3-4 tomatoes

Okay, a note on the Tofurky sausages..... This was also my first time using them and I will say that while I did eat them, I will not use them again (yuck). I would suggest another topping of choice, maybe spinach, real sausage, bell pepper, mushrooms... or just stick with the tomato.


Pre heat oven to 350 F

Slice polenta into circles about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.

**Now I didn't do this the first time, but I think this dish (while it was good) would be better if the polenta was fried a bit first. What dish isn't better by frying it right? So I suggest frying the polenta in very little olive oil on a skillet first to crisp it up a little.

Lay the polenta on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or foil.

Slice the tomato into thin slices (as thick or thin as you prefer). I um... like tomato if you can't tell. Top each circle of polenta with a slice of tomato.

Here is where I sliced the Tofurky sausages and placed two pieces on each slice of tomato. Top the tomato with another topping of your choice or leave as is.

Top each creation with a Tablespoon of tomato sauce and sprinkle with cheese.

Place in the oven at 350 F until cheese is melted and golden brown... I really don't remember so set your timer for say.. 20 minutes and come back to check on it :)

Serve with salad and a fruit for a cute and healthy dinner that even the kids will eat. Seriously.. call it pizza and they'll eat it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Chili is an amazing comfort food that CAN be packed full of nutrients. It's a great way to use up leftovers and often tastes better the second day.

Another highly adaptable recipe, I love adaptable recipes. I am NOT going to run out to the store for one item I don't have. I want a recipe that will accept a substitution, chili is great for that.


1 box organic tomato/roasted red pepper soup (this MADE the chili, use it)
1 can tomato with green chilies
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained
1 scallion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1-2 cups cooked turkey, chopped or use ground
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon fresh Thyme
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Optional - 1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper I'm not a fan of hot, but if you are that should do it :)

Optional for garnish:

sharp cheddar cheese, grated
avocado <- great source of healthy fats
sour cream


Saute mushrooms and onion in the oil until cooked well.

Mix spices with your soup in the slow cooker until well combined. Mix all ingredients in your slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Garnish and enjoy, this is SO GOOD! And so EASY.

Hey look... another fancy video :) I'm so cool.

Spinach & Mushroom Frittata

I love to make a frittata on the weekends for breakfast or a brunch. They are so simple, quick and CAN be very healthy. There are so many things you can add, it's a great recipe to use up leftovers. I watched a cooking show once that said you could even add spaghetti and meatballs... I might have to try that just for kicks one day.

This recipe is for a spinach mushroom frittata that we love here.


2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped raw baby spinach
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried Basil
1/2 cup salsa (mild, medium or hot, however you like it)
8 eggs.


Heat oven to 350 F

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onions. Sauté until onions are clear. Now it gets technical..... throw everything together in a big bowl and mix it well. Whew! That was hard. Spray a round cake pan or pie pan with non-stick spray. Pour your mix into the pan and put it in the 350 F oven for 30 minutes or until set.

Now I realize frittatas are supposed to be done on the stove, it means "to fry" but I've never had any luck doing it that way so I choose to use the oven.

I like to top it with salsa if anything at all. Mike loves this in a sandwich the next day for work. It's great hot or cold, full of protein and veggies. Remember spinach is one of those fancy superfoods!

Slow Cooker Applesauce

Time for some dessert don't you think? Although I wouldn't serve it after the Roast with the Apple Ginger Gravy because that's a little redundant....

Mmmmm Mmmmmm applesauce. And fresh, warm applesauce? It's doesn't get much better than that. Of course my slow cooker does it again with this tasty dish that can be used as a healthy snack, side dish or dessert! This is great on top of the Protein Packed Pancakes.


6-8 apples (any apple works fine, but use more sweetener for tart apples and less for naturally sweet apples)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 Tablespoons agave nectar (what we use for sweetener) *adjust depending on the apples you used
2 Tablespoons cinnamon... or more because cinnamon is tasty and good for you :)
3/4 cup water


Wash, core and slice apples. You can peel if you want (especially if you want to leave it chunky), but the skins are packed with nutrients. Mix the other ingredients and pour over the apples. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Stir and enjoy as is for chunky applesauce or put it through a blender or food processor for smooth applesauce.

Check out how techie I am (NOT) with my neat video below :)

Chuck Roast With Apple Ginger Gravy

I love my slow cooker! It's so nice to throw a bunch of ingredients together in the morning and have dinner ready when you want it, not to mention it makes your house smell amazing all day long.

Many of my dishes are vegetarian and are rarely focused on red meat, especially a roast. Not only because of health reasons, but my husband and I have never really been fans of steak or roasts in general. This KILLS my father-in-law who is a meat and potatoes guy. I get the same comment for every vegetarian meal I make "This is great! It would be great with a steak." Needless to say my father-in-law was thrilled when I told him I was making pot roast for Sunday dinner. "Not because I love you" I said. "Because I need a good slow cooker recipe with pictures for a contest." So there.


3 pound chuck roast (Elk or Beef) Mike hasn't been hunting in awhile, but Elk is very good and better for you than beef.
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup orange or apple juice
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
4 tart apples
1/2 onion
1/4 cup beef broth
3 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
Salt and Pepper


Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Brown roast on all sides (about 3 minutes per side). Season with salt and pepper. Place your roast in the slow cooker.

Mix juice, broth and ginger together in a large measuring cup.

Core apples and slice thin. Slice onions thin. Place apples and onions over the roast. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour juice mixture over your apples.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Remove roast to a plate, cover with foil to keep warm.

In a small bowl mix cornstarch into water until dissolved. Add to your slow cooker and mix well. Cook on high for 15 minutes.

Remove gravy from your slow cooker and CAREFULLY blend until smooth in a blender or food processor. Serve gravy over your sliced roast.

My in-laws loved this and so did the kids. Mike and I thought it was good (the sauce was great), but like I said, we aren't big roast fans. We served it with peas and baked potatoes.

*For healthier baked potatoes top them with soy cheese and salsa, yum.

Warning: Super cool video below.

Spinach Lunch Wrap

Okay, I don't have a picture of this one yet, but I couldn't bring myself to post a dinner recipe after breakfast without having lunch :)

This wrap is surprisingly my seven year old's favorite sandwich for school lunch, I must be doing something right. It is packed with things that are great for you. With three servings of veggies, some protein and a serving of whole grains you can high five the food pyramid chart and stick your tongue out at the bathroom scale. Eat it with a side of fruit... maybe an apple and color yourself healthy today!


We use the 90 calories whole grain flat wraps, but you can use any soft tortilla.
1-2 Tablespoons hummus - Excellent source of fiber and protein and SOOOO tasty.
1/2 tomato
1/2 cucumber
1 cup raw baby spinach - A great superfood full of iron!


Wash your veggies well. Chop your tomato and cucumber into average sized chunks. Spread hummus onto the wrap. Lay spinach in the middle of the wrap and top with chopped veggies. Wrap it up all pretty like and eat or send it to school/work for lunch.

*When making the night before for a lunch I seed the tomato so the wrap doesn't get soggy overnight.

Protein Packed Pancakes With Blueberry Sauce

Well how better to start off my cooking blog than with breakfast right? After all, it is the most important meal of the day :) We love pancakes on the weekends and leftovers are always an easy breakfast during the week. I looked around for a healthier pancake recipe because bread covered in butter and sugar, while quite tasty, isn't very good for you. I came across a recipe for a low carb pancake recipe and tweaked it to our tastes. The whole family loves these and it is our new go to pancake recipe.

Keep in mind I'm cooking for four adults and three boys so I automatically at least double my recipes. I'm not sure how many pancakes this makes, I guess now that I'm sharing I should pay attention to that sorta stuff :) But hey, like I said before, leftover pancakes are great to freeze and use as a quick breakfast during the week.


2 cups uncooked oatmeal
1 cup low fat cottage cheese or silken tofu (we like it both ways)
4 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1-2 teaspoons agave nectar or other sweetener of your choice

Put it all in the blender or food processor and mix into a batter. Pour it on a lightly oiled pan and cook (on about medium heat) like you would any other pancake, until golden brown on both sides and cooked through.

I've always skipped the butter altogether with the kids and just gave them a little syrup, but I wanted to go even healthier while still making them jump for joy when it's pancake day. So comes the blueberry sauce..... My kids are fruit nuts so this one was easy.


2 cups frozen or fresh blueberries
1/2 cup cool tap water
4 teaspoons cornstarch (Use cornstarch and NOT flour like some recipes say you can substitute with. TRUST ME.)
2 Tablespoons juice concentrate (apple or grape work well)
Juice from 1/2 lemon

Put water and cornstarch in a medium-large pot. Stir until the cornstarch dissolves. Add everything else, cook and stir over medium heat until mixture thickens and boils. Let it boil for 1-3 more minutes and serve.

*A quick note - For kids that aren't big fruit fans, just puree the sauce in a blender or food processor and it's a fun purple syrup :) Remember when purple ketchup was all the rage?

Got extra? Freeze it for future use or freeze in ice cube trays and add to a smoothie later, yum. As I'm sure you will find out, we love smoothies here.

So I finally Did It

After tinkering with the idea and having friends suggest it I finally started a cooking blog. I am by no means a "professional" cook or anything, but I do get plenty of practice cooking for 10. I love cooking, baking, candy making.... just being creative in the kitchen. I like to focus on healthy cooking, but I enjoy chocolate chip cookies as much as the next person. Sometimes I like to get fancy, but my dishes also have to be practical. Cooking for 10 means I'm cooking a lot and often (and I do have a life outside of cooking) , I can't always spend all day preparing one meal. When I'm feeling fancy I might prepare one meal that takes all day and serve leftovers or something really simple for the rest of the day.

I usually decide what's for dinner a few hours before. I'd love to become more organized. I think a menu plan would really help us, but there's that whole planning and ...... yeah. We'll add that into my 2010 goal list.

I wanted a place where I could find all of my favorite recipes. I enjoy combining a few recipes I find online or in my cookbooks and creating something new. I'm thrilled when many times it turns out fantastic, but then I find myself trying to remember how I made it. I'm hoping this blog will do that for me while sharing some recipes with you.

I'm sure you are wondering who my 10 are. Well let me introduce you. My husband Mike and I have three boys. Thomas is seven, Michael is three and Joshua is two. We live with my in-laws Mike and Pat.... that's seven. Who are the last three you ask? Our dogs. That's right, I cook for our dogs. I've been making their food for a little over a year now and will never go back after seeing the positive changes in them and doing some research on what goes into even the highest quality store bought pet food. I may one day go all out and cook for the cats as well, but our picky fat cat will only eat his Science Diet (weight control, haha) dry food. He won't even eat tuna or salmon!?! Tuffy is our 9 year old black Lab. He has lived through Cancer. A little over a year ago after he finished his Chemo we thought we were going to lose him. His weight dropped a ton and he could barely stand. He was eating the same amount of his food, but not gaining any weight. That's when I started cooking their food and just over a year later he has put the weight back on and runs and plays with the younger dogs. Bumper is our four year old Yellow Lab and Oscar is our three year old "Oscar Meyer Wiener" dog :)

Cooking for 10 has me spending a lot of time in the kitchen, good thing I love it.