Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Most Dangerous Cake in the World: Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

Prep: 5 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

1 Coffee Mug
4 tablespoons flour(that's plain flour, not self-rising)
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional) Some nuts (optional) Small splash of vanilla

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well . Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla, and mix again.

Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes on high. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed! Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired. EAT! (this can serve 2 if you want to share!)

And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world? Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Peanut Butter Cookies

I made these cookies from Parents Magazine and they were easy and delicious!

Prep: 5 minutes
Bake: 10 minutes
Yield: 10-12 cookies

1 cup peanut butter, chunky or smooth
1 cup sugar + additional for rolling
1 egg

Mix peanut butter, sugar and egg in a bowl. Form into one inch balls and roll in additional sugar.

Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet and use a fork to form cross marks in the cookies.

Bake at 375 for ten minutes or until edges are browned but not burned.

Tips and Tricks
This recipe does have a lot of sugar, so the next time I make it, I'll play around with alternative sweeteners. If your peanut butter has been refrigerated, let it sit out for awhile to soften. It will make the mixing process easier.
Make It Healthier
Use trans-fat free peanut butter.
How Kids Can Help
Measure and mix ingredients. Roll cookies in sugar. Press cookies down with fork.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Blueberry Chocolate Parfait

Prep/Total Time: 2 minutes
Yield: one serving

1/4 frozen blueberries
1/2 c cooked oatmeal
30 dark chocolate chips

Place berries in an oven proof dish and top with oatmeal and chocolate chips. Microwave on high for about 30 seconds.

Tips and Tricks
Be sure to use caution when biting into this, the microwave can create hot pockets!
Make It Healthier
Use trans-fat free chocolate chips.
How Kids Can Help
Layer ingredients, push buttons on microwave.

Turkey Meatballs

Prep/Total Time: 35 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

1 1/2 lb lean ground turkey
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 egg

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Shape into one-inch balls and bake in a single layer in a baking pan at 400 for about 20 minutes.

To serve, simmer in 1 1/2 to 2 cups of sauce, and serve over pasta.

Tips and Tricks
Make sure your ground turkey says extra lean on the label. Regular ground turkey includes the dark meat and is high in fat. These meatballs also freeze well.
Make It Healthier
Use all natural tomato sauce.
How Kids Can Help
Measure oats. Chop onion with food chopper.

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

Prep/Total Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

4 tilapia or salmon fillets
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup quick-cooking oats
3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp grated nutmeg

In a shallow bowl, combine oats, cheese and nutmeg. Coat fish fillets in olive oil and roll in the oats mixture. Bake at 350 for ten minutes per inch of thickness or until fish flakes easily.

Tips and Tricks
Use quick-cooking oats instead of old-fashioned oats, because they will stick to the fish better. Try using different spices in place of the nutmeg.
How Kids Can Help
Mix oats and spices. Coat the fish.

Key-West Chicken Avocado Sandwiches

Prep/Total Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1 cup mashed avocado
1 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp green pepper sauce , optional
1 cup baby spinach
10 oz grilled or roasted chicken breast, sliced (about 2 cups)
1 mango, peeled, pitted and sliced (about 1 cup)
4 small whole grain rolls, split

Combine avocado, lime juice and green pepper sauce in small bowl. Spread tops and bottom halves of rolls with 2 Tbsp each of the avocado-lime mixture.

Layer 1/4 cup of the spinach, one quarter of the chicken, and 1/4 cup of the mango on bottom halves and top with other halves of rolls.

Tips and Tricks
If you don't like mango, try using sliced cantaloupe or orange slices.
Make It Healthier
Pre-trim fat from chicken.
How Kids Can Help
Mash avocado. Layer sandwich ingredients.

Nutrition Facts
one sandwich equals 367 calories, 29g protein, 41 g carbs, 8 g fiber, 1 g fat, 2.5 g sat fat 60mg chol, 355 mg sodium

Chocolate Mousse

Prep/Total Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

12 oz silken tofu, drained
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract
1 c semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1/2 cup fat-free Greek-style yogurt

Place tofu and vanilla and almond extracts into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Add chocolate and blend 1 minute. Scrape sides with a spatula and blend another minute or until chocolate is incorporated. Pour into a bowl. Fold in yogurt until just blended. Refrigerate until serving.

Tips and Tricks
I'm not fond of tofu, so this recipe was an attempt for me to leave my food comfort zone. It didn't taste bad, but I'm still not a fan of tofu. In place of Greek yogurt, I drained the extra liquid from plain yogurt and used that. Vanilla yogurt probably would have been the better choice.
Make It Healthier
Use chocolate chips free of trans-fats.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients, push buttons on blender, stir in yogurt.

Nutrition Facts
one serving equals 350 calories, 11 g protein, 40 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 18 g fat, 10 g sat fat, 0 cholesterol, 15mg sodium

Friday, September 19, 2008


Have you heard of the new trend in packed lunches for school? Bento Box lunches are a traditional Japanese packed lunch, designed to be both delicious and beautiful. Crescent Moon has given me permission to post her ideas for Bento lunches for her kids.

She started by decorating the plain plastic lunch containers she got for each member of her family. She started out with these new Fit&Fresh lunch boxes.

Then she used stickers and glow-in-the-dark acrylic paint to decorate them, then painted over them with clear nail polish, so she could wash them without ruining the stickers.

This is the lid of hers:

This one is for her DH:

She gave DS a Cars theme:

Her DD has a sort of pirate theme:

And here are some of the lunches she has prepared:

The first day of school Bento:

Breakfast for lunch:

Fall Bento #1:

Fall Bento #2:

And some Pirate themed Bento lunches because Talk Like a Pirate Day was this week:

There is no picture of today's full lunch, but it contains this pirate pizza:

Are you doing something special for your kids' lunch? We would love to see your ideas! Leave us a comment with a link to your post, and if we like your idea we may include it in a future post.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bacon and Potato Salad with Green Celery Leaf and Cider Vinegar

Yield: 4 servings

20 new potatoes
8 slices of bacon
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
6 fl. oz. olive or sunflower oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water
A handful of celery leaves, finely chopped
2 shallots, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the potatoes in boiling water until just tender but not too soft. Drain, cut each one in half and set aside. Meanwhile, cut the bacon slices in half and cook over a medium heat for about ten minutes, turning once or twice, until crisp. Put the sugar, mustard, oil, vinegar and water in a bowl and mix until well combined. Stir in the celery leaves and shallots. Taste and add salt if necessary, then season with black pepper. Put the potatoes in a big bowl, throw the bacon slices over the top, and pour over the dressing. Mix well. It doesn't mater if the bacon slices break up—that way it just tastes better.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sesame-Mango Chicken With Brown Rice

Prep/Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

2 1/2 cups water
2 tsp salsa
1 cup brown rice
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp olive oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast tenderloins
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 mango, peeled and diced into 1/4 inch pieces (about 1 cup)
3 medium tomatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tbsp lime juice

In a medium size sauce pan, bring water and salsa to a boil. Add rice and simmer over low heat for about 25 minutes or until rice is tender.

Meanwhile, toast sesame seeds in a dry pan over low heat for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool. Pour olive oil into pan, add garlic, ginger and pepper, and cook chicken until cooked through, stirring ocassionally.

And mango to pan and cook until fruit is tender, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and lime juice and cook an additional 5 minutes. Serve over rice and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Tips and Tricks
I used my microwave to cook the rice. Follow the directions on the package for cooking times. I would also recommend using a large pan or a wok to cook the chicken mixture, for ease of stirring.
Make It Healthier
Use all natural salsa.
How Kids Can Help
Press buttons on microwave. Measure spices.

Nutrition Facts
One serving equals 391 calories, 6 g total fat, 1 g sat fat, 51 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 112 mg sodium, 66mg cholesterol

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Quick Sandwich Ideas

Pressed for time? Out of ideas? Need lunch right away? Try one of these quick sandwich ideas from Andrea Astrachan, consumer advisor for Giant Food. If you're in the Maryland/DC/Virginia area, be sure to read my account of Giant's new offerings!

Bat Boy
1 slice of turkey, ham or bologna
1/4 tsp light mayo
a pinch of shredded cheese
1 large pretzel rod

Spread mayo on the turkey, ham or bologna. Sprinkle with cheese. Roll up lunch meat and cheese with pretzel rod in the middle.

On The Go Burrito
1 tortilla
1 tbsp salsa
3-4 slices chicken
1/4 cup black beans
1/4 cup shredded cheese

Spread salsa on the tortilla. Layer the chicken, beans and cheese. Roll up the tortilla into a burrito.

Chicken Caesar Pocket
1 pita pocket
handful of romaine lettuce
1 tsp light ranch dressing
3-4 cooked chicken strips

Spread ranch dressing inside the pita pocket and add chicken and lettuce.

Mac And Cheese With Tomatoes And Celery

Another recipe from Giant Food consumer advisor Andrea Astrachan.

Prep/Total Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
8 oz reduced-fat colby or cheddar cheese shredded
1 tbsp butter
1 1/4 cups low-fat milk
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 small onion
1 tbsp flour

Cook macaroni according to package directions and drain. Put in a bowl with tomato and celery. In a medium saucepan, saute diced onion in butter until translucent. Stir in flour and black pepper. Add milk. Cook until slightly thickened and bubbly. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add macaroni mixture to cheese sauce and coat evenly. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly. Cool for about ten minutes before serving.

Tips and Tricks
Use whatever pasta you have on hand. Try different types of cheeses for different flavors. I omitted the celery.
Make It Healthier
Use trans-fat free spread or unsalted butter.
How Kids Can Help
Kids can shred the cheese or add ingredients to the pan.

Nutrition Facts
One serving equals 182 calories, 6 g total fat, 4 g sat fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 285 mg sodium, 19g carbs, 14g protein

Watermelon Breakfast Lasagna

This recipe comes from Andrea Astrachan, consumer advisor for Giant Food.

Prep/Total Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

4 cups corn flakes
2 cups fresh blueberries and/or strawberries (or 1 cup each)
2 cups minced watermelon
2 cups lowfat vanilla yogurt

Layer 1/3 of corn flakes evenly in bottom of an 8 by 8 serving dish. Mix together watermelon, berries and yogurt; spoon half of fruit mixture evenly over corn flakes. Sprinkle half of remaining flakes over fruit mixture; top with remaining fruit mixture. Finish with layer of corn flakes.

Tips and Tricks
If you don't have berries, substitute any fresh fruit!
Make It Healthier
Use fat-free yogurt and bran flakes.
How Kids Can Help
Mix fruit and yogurt. Layer ingredients.

Nutrition Facts
1 serving equals 262 calories, 2g fat, 1 g sat fat, 6mg cholesterol, 285 mg sodium, 55g carbs, 3 g fiber, 9g protein

Sea Scallops With Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto

This recipe comes from Chef Geoff's Downtown. This dish was served at a luncheon I recently attended for Giant Food. If you're in the Maryland/Virginia/DC area, check out the changes coming soon to a Giant near you!

Prep/Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1/4 cup minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup Arborio rice, uncooked
2 oz white wine
3 cups water, simmering
4 ounces butter
1/2 cup Grana Padano cheese, grated
1 cup asparagus, blanched and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups sauteed mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste
white truffle oil, to taste
8 oz white balsamic reduction (see recipe)
16 U10 dry sea scallops, seasoned and sauteed once rice is complete

Cook onion and garlic in olive oil over low-medium heat until softened but not brown. Add rice and toss in oil until rice becomes white white stirring with a wooden spoon.

Add a splash of white wine. Add one cup of the water and stir gently and continuously until all the water is absorbed. Repeat one cup at a time until all water is absorbed.

Fold in diced butter and cheese until rich and creamy. Fold is sauteed mushrooms and blanched asparagus. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the balsamic reduction, slowly stir 8 ounces of white balsamic vinegar until it is reduced to 2 ounces.

Put one cup rice in a bowl add four scallops on top. Drizzle with white balsamic reduction and white truffle oil.

Tips and Tricks
Do not be scared by the ingredients list or the instructions for this recipe! Risottos are actually very easy to make and can be tailored to your needs and tastes. Check out the tips on this recipe for more help on making risotto. If I was making this recipe at home, I would leave out the white truffle oil and substitute chicken broth for the white wine. U10 scallops are extra large scallops. U10 is a designation that means "under ten" per pound. Grana padano cheese is a type of Parmesan. use whatever Parmesan you have on hand.
Make It Healthier
Omit salt.
How Kids Can Help
Older kids can stir the rice as it cooks and add the liquid to the pan. Younger kids can chop the onions and garlic using a food chopper.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cheeseburger Casserole

This super-easy casserole is a great for a busy night when you don't have time to cook!

Yield: 4 servings
Prep: 30 minutes

1 box of Au Gratin Potato mix
1 lb of ground beef or turkey
1 tomato
1 can diced tomatoes
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese

Prepare the Au Gratin potatoes as directed on the box in a 8x9 casserole dish.
Once done, let set 5 minutes. Meanwhile, brown ground beef or turkey and drain. Slice tomato thinly and place sliced tomato over Au Gratin potatoes. Drain diced tomatoes and pour over sliced tomatoes. Cover with browned meat. Spread shredded cheese on top. Cover and bake another 10 minutes until cheese is melted. Let set 5 minutes to cool and serve.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Zucchini Quesadillas

This recipe is from my mom at Alice's Wonderland:

Yield: about 10

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 tsp salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (8-9 inches long and approx 2 inches across! Small is better!)
1 cup frozen corn kernels
Taco seasoning or chili powder
Cooked chicken, pork, or shrimp (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
flour tortillas
2 cups grated pepper jack cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. In large skillet heat oil, add onion, salt and cook until onion is soft, then add garlic and cook 1 minute more.
3. Add zucchini and frozen corn kernels; cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is soft and corn is tender, about 6 minutes.
4. Heat tortilla in another pan. (We warmed ours in the microwave.)
5. Spread filling on 1/2 of tortilla, top with cheese and fold in half.
6. Repeat with the rest of filling and tortillas and place on a baking sheet.
7. Bake until cheese has melted and tortillas are golden brown, turning once
8. Remove from oven, slice into wedges.

Tips and Tricks:
We used the soft taco size tortillas. I would guess they are approximately 8 inches in diameter? This recipe made about 10 quesadillas. I used canned pork and it was very good. Chicken or shrimp would be good. Nathan thought that steak would be good. I'm sure it would! I served this with a little sour cream and fresh salsa since we have lots of tomatoes right now. We also have jalapeno peppers and fresh salsa is so delicious. Here is how I do it:

Fresh Salsa

Four or five Roma tomatoes (I like Roma because they are more meaty and less juice but other tomatoes work too just squeeze out some of the juice.)
1/2 med. onion
1/2 jalepeno pepper (with seeds)
Fresh cilantro
1 or 2 garlic cloves ( I have been using the bottled minced garlic and like it a lot. I just figure about 1 teaspoon per clove. That is probably generous, but I like garlic.)
Lemon or Lime juice
Salt to taste (probably at least 1 teaspoon)

Tips and Tricks: Use a food processor or blender on pulse. Don't puree everything, you still want everything to be somewhat chunky. If it is too hot, add more tomatoes or less peppers and garlic. I have also made this using my Pampered Chef food chopper.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Blackberry Apple Crisp

An Oregon Girl at heart, this made me homesick when I saw the recipe at Renaissance Mama. In Oregon, blackberries grow wild...mmmmm.

Blackberry Apple Crisp

You need:
At least 5 cups of blackberries or whatever
4 large apples
3 cups steel cut oats
1 cup whole grain wheat flour
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In large pan, lay the berries down on bottom, add sliced apples, and about 1/4 c. water. In separate bowl, combine all other ingredients. If too dry, add more syrup. Put mixture over berries and apples. Bake 45 minutes @ 350.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Bacon Cheddar Quiche

This quiche could be served for brunch or lunch, along with mixed fresh fruit or a tossed salad. Use prepared pie pastry or a frozen thawed pie shell if you need to cut time.

Yield: 8 Servings
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cut in small pieces
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons ice-cold water
  • .
  • Filling
  • 8 strips lean bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Prepare crust for quiche. In a mixing bowl, mix together flour and salt. Cut in cold butter with a pastry blender until coarse crumbs form; add water, a little at a time, until dough holds together and forms a ball. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll out dough into a circle about 11 inches in diameter. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate or quiche pan. Trim edges, leaving a little overhang, about 1/4-inch all around the edge. Prick dough with a fork. Line with foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake quiche crust for 10 minutes at 375°.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, thyme, and pepper. Pour into the baked crust. Crumble bacon over the top with the shredded Cheddar cheese. Bake at 375° for about 30 minutes, or until quiche filling is set and top is lightly browned.

Suggested Sides: Serve the quiche with fresh tomato wedges or a tossed salad.

Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana

I found this recipe at TuscanRecipes.com, and it claims to be the original recipe from the restaurant. I'm putting it on the menu to serve on a chilly autumn night.

Yield: 6-8 servings

  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1½ tsp crushed red peppers
  • 1 large diced white onion
  • 4 Tbsp bacon pieces
  • 2 tsp garlic puree
  • 10 cups water
  • 5 cubes of chicken bouillon
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lb sliced Russet potatoes, or about 3 large potatoes
  • ¼ of a bunch of kale

  1. Sautee Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in pot. Drain excess fat, refrigerate while you prepare other ingredients.
  2. In the same pan, sautee bacon, onions and garlic for approxiamtly 15 mins. or until the onions are soft.
  3. Mix together the chicken bouillon and water, then add it to the onions, bacon and garlic. Cook until boiling.
  4. Add potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour.
  5. Add heavy cream and cook until thoughouly heated.
  6. Stir in the sausage.
  7. Add kale just before serving.
photo credits: tuscanrecipes.com