2 Nov 2011, 8:45am
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    Top of the list is: Handmade Goodness Giveaways Project! Please be sure to ENTER. Just click the link (when there is one) at the top of the most recent post! This project is in an effort to promote local and independent artists. Crafters, photographers, designers (of all types) -- man, woman or child all are welcome. Each giveaway will feature a different artist with a different talent, please join, if you will! Contact me: mommyhobbies [at] gmail [dot] com
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  • Of Food And Love: Beef Stew

    ::Don’t forget to ENTER the Handmade Goodness Giveaway for Tata, the Punk Monkey::

    When I get a bee in my bonnet or a hunger pang in my stomach, I do something about it.

    Thank you Tasty Kitchen.  You always come to my rescue.

    In this case, it was a hunger pang.  My stomach wanted a good beef stew.  Like, a hearty one along the lines of Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon but without the extensive prep work.

    And  I found it!!  This is such a simple stew and we made sure every bit was wiped from our bowls.

    There are similar aspects to my first, very delicious and memorable, beef stew.  Browning the meat, for instance.

    The best part about stews is all the vegetables.  That’s the one part I think about the most, carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms…so delicious.

    Sauteed and then cooked slowly in the broth with fresh sprigs of rosemary.  Oh, that broth…Cylas couldn’t get enough.  I filled his little bowl twice with the steaming liquid.

    A little over an hour later, we ate.  The perfect stew for the wintery days ahead.

    Becca’s Beef Stew :: courtesy of Tasty Kitchen

    • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil (Divided Use)
    • 3 pounds Chopped Beef Stew Meat
    • 1 Tablespoon Salt (I thought this was a bit much so I only added half a tablespoon)
    • 1 Tablespoon Cracked Black Pepper
    • 2 teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
    • 2 teaspoons Dried Oregano
    • 2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
    • 2 teaspoons Paprika
    • 3 Tablespoons Butter
    • 1-½ cup Button Mushrooms (I used just regular white mushrooms)
    • 2 cups Chopped Onions
    • 1-½ cup Roughly Chopped Celery
    • 2 cups Sliced Carrots
    • 2 cloves Garlic
    • 4 Tablespoons Flour ( I only used 3.5 Tbl)
    • 4 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
    • 4 cups Beef Stock (I found that there wasn’t enough broth for our taste so if you added a little more liquid, like a half cup, it wouldn’t hurt)
    • ½ cups Dry Red Wine
    • 3 sprigs Fresh Rosemary
    • 3 cups Diced Potatoes

    A few quick notes:
    - Beef can be purchased as stew meat or you can cube up most any cut of steak.
    - I like to mix things up with the onions, sometimes I simply chop the onion I have in the house, sometimes I like to add pearl onions.
    - Any type of potato will work, I prefer the redskin potatoes for flavor and texture and they look pretty. Potatoes must be cut small – 1 inch cubes.
    - If you don’t want to use wine just add more beef broth.
    - Omit or add veggies as you wish. I use the large carrots and slice them penny thin but you could simply use halved baby carrots too. All measurements for vegetables are just approximate. I use 2 or 3 carrots, stalks of celery, 4 or 5 potatoes, just whatever looks right to me. It’s about what you want to eat most of. Add more broth/wine if you would like a less thick stew.

    Place Dutch oven on medium high heat and add 1.5 Tablespoons of olive oil to the pot. Spread beef in an even layer on a plate or chopping board. Season evenly with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, oregano, garlic powder and paprika. Place half the beef in the Dutch oven and cook until browned on each side (usually 2-3 minutes per side). Remove beef from pot and place in a bowl. Add remaining olive oil and repeat cooking with remaining beef. Remove beef to bowl after browning.

    Add butter and mushrooms to the pot to cook, stirring occasionally until well browned (about 3 minutes). I like my mushrooms diced very fine so as not to see them when eating my stew but you can simply slice them if you like mushrooms. Add onions and cook until caramelized again about 3 minutes. Add celery (finely chopped) and carrots. Add garlic (I use the jar minced kind – or you can mince your own) and stir well. Sprinkle veggies with flour and cook for about 3 minutes. Add tomato paste, beef stock, and wine. Stir well. Place 3 whole springs of rosemary in mix. Add the cooked beef and all the juices back to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover pot (I just turn my lid a little crooked) and cook for a half hour stirring occasionally. Then add potatoes to the stew and simmer for an hour or so longer, until potatoes are very tender. Be sure to stir fairly often, scraping edges and bottom of the pot. Give stew a good stir and remove from heat. Remove rosemary stems and serve hot. Makes excellent leftovers and freezes well.

    Some people like to serve their stew over rice or noodles, if that is your preference, enjoy!

    27 Oct 2011, 8:35am
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  • Of Food And Love: Braised Pork Over Rice

    ::Don’t forget to ENTER the Handmade Goodness Giveaway for Tata, the Punk Monkey::

    I never knew what the term “braised” meant.  It sounded really, really complicated and I didn’t want anything to do with it.  But in actuality it’s very simple.  Essentially you’re cooking your meat two different way in the same breath.  First, you brown it, then you put it in a broth of sorts to finish cooking.  That’s it!  Be sure to watch your meat as you’re browning it so it doesn’t overcook, but that’s all braising is.  Voila’.

    Whenever I have a recipe that includes flour and dusty cutting boards it makes me smile.  Don’t know why.  I feel like I’m a real cook or something…

     

    Dredge your pork pieces in the flour then nicely brown them in the oil.

    Dice up your onion for the broth…

    Once all the pieces are browned, pour in the broth mixture and set to simmer for about 15 minutes.

    I served this up with broccoli for the veg.  My family just loves these types of meals.

     

    Braised Pork Over Rice  :: courtesy of Tasty Kitchen

    Make sure you have nice, even thickness, squared pieces of pork.

    Make sure you have everything diced and chopped prior to starting this recipe. It moves quickly and it’s better to have everything prepared ahead of time.

    Heat oil in a large skillet. Mix the flour and corn starch and dredge meat in the mixture. Add half of meat to hot skillet and brown quickly. Remove and set aside. Brown remaining meat and set aside. Pour off excess oil from the pan.

    In a small bowl, combine the broth, soy and sherry. Add onion, garlic, sugar, ginger, and pepper, stirring well to combine.

    Add reserved meat back to the skillet with the sauce mixture and simmer covered for 15 minutes or until meat is tender. Serve over rice.

    Tip: Do NOT over stir the meat while frying. You want it to get a nice crispy coating to it. Frying in two batches helps avoid steaming the meat and making the coating gummy. Two batch frying allows it to crisp instead. Well worth the extra five minutes.

    Ingredients

    • 3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
    • 1 Tablespoon Each Corn Starch And Flour, For Dredging
    • 2 pounds Boneless Pork In 1 Inch, Bite Sized Cubes
    • ⅔ cups Beef Broth
    • ⅔ cups Soy Sauce
    • 4 Tablespoons Cooking Sherry
    • ¼ cups Finely Diced White Onion
    • 2 teaspoons Minced Garlic
    • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
    • 2 teaspoons Ground Ginger
    • 1 dash Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste
    • 2 bags (6 Servings Worth) Boil In Bag Rice, Prepared To Directions
    17 Oct 2011, 10:19am
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  • Of Food And Love: Honey Grilled Pork Chops

    I feel like I’m the queen of “letmefindtheeasiesttastiestrecipes”.  I always challenge myself to find recipes that are good but don’t take forever.  They take about 30 min to an hour start to finish but I don’t mind because I know it’s time well spent.

    In the same breath I won’t think twice about spending two hours making an unforgettable gravy, either.  Julia Child, you ARE my culinary hero.  But back to making food that is quite tasty but not as time consuming (not all of Julia’s recipe are time consuming, so don’t be afraid to try them out).  I’ve discovered this amazing secret.  The key to making people think you’re a good cook is picking the right recipes!  Hahah.  *sigh*  Oh, all the people I’ve fooled into thinking I know what I’m doing.  It’s just a matter of scouring through cooking sites, cook books, trading recipes with friends, tweaking recipes you have, combining recipes…that’s all!  Now, in order to make those technically perfect dishes.  Go.to.school.  But for a stay at home mom like myself, I have fun choosing recipes that make bellies happy.

    These honey grilled chops did just that.  D was in awe because this dish was totally last minute and the chops didn’t get to marinate the full time.  They sat in the fridge for only an hour, I can’t imagine how much more fabulous they would have tasted with the full 4 hour marinate time.  mmm

    My husband is seriously a master griller.  The meat was perfectly cooked.

    I served these with fried potatoes and sauteed zucchini.  A total home run, this meal was.  Give it a whirl and let me know how it turned out!

     

    Courtesy of:: Tasty Kitchen

    Ingredients

    • 1 pound Boneless Pork Chops
    • 4 Tablespoons Honey
    • 4 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
    • 4 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
    • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
    • ½ teaspoons Ginger
    • 2 cloves Garlic
    • Salt And Pepper, to taste

    With a meat mallet, flatten pork chops to approximately 1/2″ thickness. Trim off excess fat and put them into a bowl.

    In another bowl, mix all of the remaining ingredients. Pour 1/2 of the mixture over the pork chops. Cover the bowl and marinate pork chops in the refrigerator for approximately 4 hours. Reserve other 1/2 of mixture for grilling time.

    Heat grill to medium-high heat. Place pork chops on grill, and baste with the marinade. Grill on one side for 4 minutes. Flip pork chops and baste again. Grill for an additional 4 minutes. Set meat on a plate for approximately 5 minutes to settle juices.

    Serve!

    11 Oct 2011, 9:01am
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  • Of Food And Love: Bell Peppers and Smoked Sausage over Rice

    Handmade Goodness Winner:: Sue!  Please contact me with your address so I can ship it to you.  Thank you.  mommyhobbies[at] gmail [dot] com

    They say: the more colorful your meal is the healthier you’re eating.  And isn’t this a beauty?

    We love bell peppers.  Each color has its own flavor and specific dishes that it compliments.  My wonderful friend Amanda made this for me years ago and it has been a wonderful addition to our table.  Most of you know that I’m all about the “quick and healthy” with a little bit of Julia Child in the mix.  (can’t say no to her — that would be akin to sacrilege)

    D and I take great pride in the variety of foods served in our house and the fact our children eat most every dish with gusto!  Sometimes, it takes a little explaining before certain veggies are accepted, but for the most part, open minds = open mouths.

    For this particular recipe it’s really up to the general preference of the family how much to use.  To feed a family of four, use two whole bell peppers thinly sliced and one medium onion thinly sliced.  And for the sausage, take your pick!  I usually use Hillshire sausage links (one whole package will work. the sausage is in a U-shape).  They have a great variety.  We use the smoked.

    Toss them in about tablespoon and a half of olive oil until they get a little crispy.

    Once they have their crisp, throw in the veggies.  But only cook them lightly.  The crunch in the bell pepper makes the dish complete.

    Serve over white or brown rice!  We love Jasmine or Basmati.

    10 Oct 2011, 10:14am
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  • Lunch Foodie: Tuna Sandwich

    **LAST Day to enter the Handmade Goodness Giveaway. Click HERE to enter now!**

    One of the top rated sandwiches in this house for all the mouths I feed, is the timeless tuna.  Boring little tuna with mayo, a squirt of mustard and a little pepper to give it some pop.

    But the other day I decided to get wild.  Hah.  I’m from California and when you’re a Californian there are certain things you eat, because it runs in your blood.  Avocados, artichokes and garlic.  Considering California grows almost 80% of all the vegetables and fruits available in the U.S…groves of fruit trees on the side of the road, trucks rumbling down the freeway loaded with tons of garlic or tomatoes was part of my childhood.  We were always around the celebration of fruits and veggies.  I could go on and on…Apple Hill being one of my most fond memories of all.

    There are even garlic festivals to prove our loyalty to the stinky vegetable (yes, it’s a vegetable).  I still have a shirt from when I was about three…”I’m a little stinker” it says.

    Yes, so, while I was making my boring little tuna sandwich I grabbed an avocado, sliced it thin and added it to my lunch.  Best wild decision yet!  Sometimes, it’s not reinventing the wheel that’s needed, it’s a little bling to the blah. 

    Do you know what the benefits of an avocado are?  It has potassium, folic acid, Vitamin E…over 20 different essential nutrients.  I really love avocado and rightfully so.  I put a dash of sea salt on the slices and ate my sandwich with a side of Sun Chips.  Yum.

    Now, adding avocado isn’t the only way to have fun with boring little tuna.  My step-mom, before she passed, introduced me to the coolest way of all to eat a tuna sandwich.   She took me to a deli and served me a tuna on a bagel.  I fell in love.  This particular tuna mixture had finely chopped red onion in it, too.  So delicious.  My husband loves onion and boiled egg in his tuna.  Both of those ingredients are lethal for the poor bystanders in his life, but hey…

    So, I decided that I would buy miniature bagels and whip up a tuna bagel for Cylas’ lunches.  Boring old tuna out the door!  (also, whenever we travel we take these tuna bagels along with goldfishies to snack on.  My kids love it.  We finish it off with little tangerines, it clears the air of tuna smell and it’s the perfect, healthy desert)

    How do you eat your tuna?

    4 Oct 2011, 9:28am
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  • Lunch Foodie: Boiled egg the fun way!

    Don’t forget:: Enter the Handmade Goodness Giveaway!

    I love it when creativity strikes.  It doesn’t hit me very often, but when it does, I try and run with it before I forget.  HAH.  The other day I was just bumbling in the kitchen trying to plan out what types of lunches I would be making for Cy.  The piteeza pockets were a success and I have made them a few times with different fillings.

    My son loves boiled eggs, a favorite snack of mine, too.  But how do I give him a boiled egg that doesn’t look disgusting, all stuffed into a little plastic baggy?  His lunch was already made fun of.  It was a fried fish sandwich and the kid said that Cy was “eating poop”.  Cy wasn’t too concerned because he knew his lunch definitely didn’t taste like poop, it tasted like yummy fish.  A fish that his papa caught the day before.  Both Cy and I decided that, in spite of that kid’s poor manners, a fish sandwich is a fish sandwich and it’s good!

    Enter my *brilliant* idea.  A Humpty Dumpty egg!  I boiled an egg

    took some carrot and a piece of sausage

    and made the cutest little lunch companion for my son.

    He’s still in the refining stages, I was tempted to give him sausage “hair” by cutting thin strips of sausage and placing them into his cute, soft noggin but I gave him a hat instead.  I used a straw to make his eyes and also to burrow through his side to make way for the carrot stick arms.  With a knife I carved his gaping mouth, all the way through to the yolk to give it a little color.
    Just sprinkle him with salt and there you have it!

    Isn’t Humpty cute?

    22 Sep 2011, 10:10am
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  • What’s new

    Top of the list is: Handmade Goodness Giveaways Project! Please be sure to ENTER. Just click the link (when there is one) at the top of the most recent post! This project is in an effort to promote local and independent artists. Crafters, photographers, designers (of all types) -- man, woman or child all are welcome. Each giveaway will feature a different artist with a different talent, please join, if you will! Contact me: mommyhobbies [at] gmail [dot] com
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  • Of Food and Love: Ways to freeze food conveniently

    Food goes where you put it.  And if you don’t put it somewhere it will rot, if you don’t eat it fast enough, it will rot.  So fickle food is.  Last year I started making large batches of unhealthy mac-n-cheese.  But it was so, stinkin’ good.  I am sad to admit that it did contain Velveeta.  I have since repented of my sins and use REAL cheese in my mac.  For a while, I went on a hunt trying to revamp some of our favorite recipes with a healthier twist.  Nothing too offensive or inedible.  Trust me.  As much as I love new foods, I have my limits and a gag reflex.

    It took me a while, but I finally found a recipe that is the base for just about everything cheesy.  Dips, sauces, soups…you name it.  It’s a roux.  A roux is basically: butter, flour, milk, salt and pepper.  That’s it.  From there the ability to build just about anything creamy and delicious is possible.  It is from this that I make the cheese mixture for our homemade mac-n-cheese. (I will share the recipe at the end)

    Anyway, aside from my previous horrible cooking habits, I learned that freezing mac-n-cheese is difficult!  My children loved it, but couldn’t eat a huge casserole sized portion in good time.  So, we froze it in big zip-loc bags.  My husband separated it, as best he could, into individualized hunks, but they would still move together and freeze making it really difficult to pull out a portion to eat.  But God bless the internet, I stumbled upon the most FABULOUS photo the other day…some one had taken to freezing soup in their cupcake tin.  Seriously??  How genius is that?

    I knew that I had found the answer to my sticky noodle situation…bam.  Here we go.  I used my loaf tin to make the perfect portion sizes for my kids!

    Problem solved.  Now, I am freezing: soup, sauces that I make, pre-cooked eggs for egg muffins (you cook the eggs in the cupcake tin to get the perfect form, then freeze the egg forms), flavored ice cubes for parties, mashed potato portions…it’s a fresh slate fill it up!  And oh the fun things you can cook in those tins.  The other morning I made these for our Sunday breakfast.  Yummm

    I’m always looking for a way to make my cooking life easier.  I’m not talking “the easy way out” I’m talking about the “creative fix”.

    And if any of you are interested in the roux I spoke about earlier.  Here it is:

    White Sauce
    * 2 tablespoons butter
    * 2 tablespoons flour (whole wheat)
    * 3/8 teaspoon salt
    * 1/8 teaspoon pepper
    * 1 cup milk
    Get out a quart-sized saucepan.  Melt the butter in it over medium heat.  When the margarine is completely melted, remove the pan from the heat.  Stir in the flour.  It will lump up a little bit, so keep stirring it until it is smooth.  I use a whisk to do this, but a fork will work in a pinch. Add the salt and pepper and return the pan to the heat.  Cook and stir until the flour/margarine mixture bubbles up and sort of sizzles for a moment or two.  This step keeps the sauce from having a “raw” flavor, and also permeates the sauce with the seasonings.  Gradually stir in the milk.  Do it slowly, so it doesn’t lump up.  Lumpy sauce is not the most aesthetically pleasing, although it still tastes pretty good.  So after you stir in the milk, cook the sauce over medium heat until it boils.  Stir it quite often, to prevent it from lumping or burning.  When it boils, cook and stir it for a full minute, and then remove it from the heat.  It is now done.

    Cheese Sauce:  Add 1/2 to 1-cup of shredded or cubed cheese to the sauce after it boils for a minute.  I usually take it off the burner, add the cheese, and cover the pan.  Then I let it sit in the middle of the stove for a minute or two, to soften up the cheese.  Stir it up until the cheese melts.  Serve anywhere you like.

    **This is NOT my recipe, but I can’t remember where I got it from…please enjoy knowing there is some genius out there who created this making it possible for you to eat!**

    20 Sep 2011, 10:36am
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  • Lunch Foodie: Piteeza Pockets

    Continuing on with healthy alternatives for school lunches!

    Sorry, but I had to rename them.  I’m not just making pizza pockets for my little boy.  Oh the combos moms can drum up with just a little dough and some cheese.  If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ll know that I am worthless in the baking department.  It’s true that I have my old faithfuls like : Lemon Loaves and Banana Bread.  Lordy, those are good and bad all at the same time, and if you’ve made them, you’ll know what I mean.

    So, give a mother a break and cut me some slack when I tell you that I did NOT make the dough for these little lunches.  Thank you, Pillsbury.   When I take the leap…you all will be the first to know.

     I took my nifty little crescent cuts and laid them out, two by two.  Pinched the perforated lines together…

    Took about a tablespoon of pizza sauce and spread it around.

    I used Canadian bacon for the filling, not that cheese wouldn’t have been just fine on its own…

      Remember me talking about the mozzarella pearls?  Well, here they are in all their glory, again.  So cute.  Some pockets had three and others had four, I wanted to see which would work better.  In the end, they both did, so next time I’m putting in four.

    I folded the pockets two different ways and they both worked just fine.

    Stuck them in the oven at 350, or until they were golden brown. 

    My son absolutely LOVED these.  He said that the kids at school wanted his lunch.  THAT makes me happy.  Now, to reheat them, I just put them in the toaster oven to warm.  That’s it.  I didn’t want to re-cook them, just warm them up a bit and they were good to go!

     

    Other combos I’m making and freezing:

    Broccoli and cheese

    Seasoned meat (taco style) with cheese

    Mashed potatoes with shredded beef

    Shredded chicken, broccoli and cheese

    Breakfast pocket (eggs, bacon or sausage) with cheese

    Like I said, endless….

     

     

    16 Sep 2011, 12:30pm
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    Top of the list is: Handmade Goodness Giveaways Project! Please be sure to ENTER. Just click the link (when there is one) at the top of the most recent post! This project is in an effort to promote local and independent artists. Crafters, photographers, designers (of all types) -- man, woman or child all are welcome. Each giveaway will feature a different artist with a different talent, please join, if you will! Contact me: mommyhobbies [at] gmail [dot] com
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  • Of Food and Love: Open-faced tomato sandwich

    The other day D wanted lunch.  Now, I can cook up a fabulous breakfast or a mouth-watering dinner, but please, do not come to me for lunch.  My creativity hits a blank wall, just about every time.

    Then, there are moments when all is well in the world of food and thoughts and I’m overtaken.  I was overtaken and it was good.  I had purchased, for the first time, mozzarella pearls.  Fresh mozzarella like that must be eaten three days after being opened, so I was scrambling to find ways to use up those cute little balls of cheese.

    We had a fresh French baguette that I sliced open and placed about four or five little pearls on and then toasted it.  Sliced tomatoes from our garden and laid them on top of all that yummy, melty cheese.

    Seasoned it with a little salt, pepper and then used a spoon to drizzle Balsamic vinegar on top.  D added his own touch by adding a couple dashes of basil.  So good.  Healthy and quick.  It is good room temp or hot off the toaster.

    I’m sure there are sandwiches similar to this all over, but this was made in my kitchen during a moment of starvation.  No recipe consulting at all.  Just pure, rare, lunchy inspiration.  Please enjoy as much as we did!

    14 Sep 2011, 8:15am
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  • What’s new

    Top of the list is: Handmade Goodness Giveaways Project! Please be sure to ENTER. Just click the link (when there is one) at the top of the most recent post! This project is in an effort to promote local and independent artists. Crafters, photographers, designers (of all types) -- man, woman or child all are welcome. Each giveaway will feature a different artist with a different talent, please join, if you will! Contact me: mommyhobbies [at] gmail [dot] com
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  • Lunch Foodie: Fruit Skewers

    What to put in my son’s lunch.

    In contrast to a lot of parents who choose to let their children eat from the cafeteria, I have chosen to make my son’s lunches.  Everyday.  Not much different than if he were at home, right?

    The whole point of making my son’s lunch is insuring that I definitely know what my son is ingesting.  We don’t have a strict diet, per say, but we do have a reasonably healthy one.  Someone asked me the other day what my children eat.  The more I started naming, the more I realized that my children do not eat a “typical American diet”.  We don’t have sugar cereals, bags of chips (we do buy tortilla and Sun chips), bags of fruits snacks, candy, soda pop, kool-aid, lunch meat, tv dinners…the list goes on.

    This morning, my son’s lunch consisted of goldfish crackers and fresh strawberries for snack; and for lunch he has a chicken sandwich, I cooked chicken and shredded it, Sun chips and Gala apple slices.

    I’m not saying every parent has the time or resources to do what I have chosen, but it’s worth the effort.  If there are only two days a week that lunches can be packed — pack them!

    I got a call from his teacher around the start of the school year and we were discussing his progress and addressing my concerns for his education.  Toward the end of our conversation his teacher said, “You really go all out for his snacks!  All of the kids wanted his snack.”  I felt proud.  It only took me three extra minutes and I made “the coolest snack ever” for my little boy.

    You can too!

    A simple combo of cheese and a fruit.  Or fruit with fruit!  I used wooden skewers, cut it in half and lopped off the pointy end.  These little guys can just fit inside a little baggy.

    Pineapple and banana.  Grapes and strawberries.  The combos are endless.  Give it go!

    Let me know how it turns out.

    What do you pack for your children?

    This is going to be a feature on my blog now.  I will try to come up with something new either every week, or every other week.  If you have questions, please contact me, ideas, share them!

    mommyhobbies[at]gmail[dot]com

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