Posted in Desserts, Food, Kids in the Kitchen

Refreshing Whipped Jello Dessert



I was looking for a refreshing, lite dessert this past Halloween weekend and I remembered this four-ingredient, low-sugar treat that everyone seems to enjoy.  I usually store the finished product in the fridge for a grab-and-go snack, but it’s also crazy delicious frozen. 

If freezing this treat, dump the mixture into a 13X9 baking dish, spread evenly and freeze.  Then, slice it into squares before serving.  (I use the sugar-free ingredients to assemble this recipe but using the “regular”  ingredients will work just as well.)

Refreshing Whipped Jello Dessert (low-sugar)

1 (8 ounce) container Cool Whip, sugar free

1 (16 ounce) container cottage cheese

2 (3 ounce) packages orange sugar-free Jello

1 can Del Monte Mandarin Oranges (no sugar added), drain well


In the order provided, mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Food, lunch box

Two-Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins

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I’m not kidding…just two ingredients quickly mixed together makes for a batch of terrific tasting pumpkin muffins! Yes, that’s right, I said two ingredients…
I needed a quick morning lunch box treat this week and I turned to the quickest muffin recipe I could think of, the Two-Ingredient Pumpkin Muffin recipe. Quickly mix a can of pumpkin with a cake mix and pop it in the oven. In less than 20 minutes, you’ve got a great little snack. While I used the Butter Pecan Cake Mix in my recipe, the spice and vanilla flavored cake mix work well too. Pop in the lunchbox, bake for an autumn bake sale, or share with co-workers for an office carry-in.
If you’d like to spruce up the recipe a bit, sprinkle with powdered sugar or a light glaze with chopped nuts. As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I love to top my cakes and muffins with a pre-package flax seed oatmeal mix and that is what I did here. …Quick, easy and oh, so yummy!

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Two-Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins

1 (18.25 ounce) package butter pecan cake mix
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins with a light coating of cooking spray or insert paper liners. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix and canned pumpkin until well blended. Evenly distribute into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 15-17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool and serve. (This tastes even better as the muffins sit for a couple of days.)
Optional: Top with oatmeal topping, powdered sugar, or powdered sugar glaze.

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Posted in Canning, Food, Gardening, Homemade Mixes, Toppings

Perfect Peach Freezer Jam

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While I have always been a traditional jam and jelly maker, I’m thrilled to find so many new products on the market that are meant to make jelly making so much easier and less time consuming. One such product is the instant pectin that Ball has developed specifically for freezer jam. I’ve made several jars in as little as 30 minutes. Those of you with young children can let them take a bigger role in the jelly making as there is no cooking involved. And the process is quick and simple. I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for home made goodness that is quick and simple.
I have included several screen shots of the peach freezer jam recipe calculator from the Ball/Fresh Preserving website so that you can see just how easy this is.
First, go to the Fresh Preserving website…
Here you will find a pectin calculator for your chosen jam or jelly flavor.
Now, find the fruit that you wish to use for your jam or jelly.

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Once you have chosen a fruit, choose whether you would like to make jam or jelly.

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Next, choose the type of pectin you will be using.

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The calculator will then calculate a recipe for you to follow. Super simple!

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Remember, you’ll want to use Instant Pectin…

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Also, this process is only meant for freezer jam. Store these jars in the freezer until you are ready to use them. Store them in the fridge after opening.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Brunch, Food, Kids in the Kitchen, Pancakes

Super Healthy Kids Whole Wheat Waffles

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M recently went on a cooking rampage and spent the day making healthy meals and snacks. She made several loaves of fresh zucchini bread, mini cupcake frittatas, and a load of flavorful whole grain waffles. One of her favorite go-to websites is called superhealthykids.com so M rifled through their pages to find what she thought would be a delicious breakfast recipe. She settled on the whole wheat waffle recipe. Earlier in the week, M and I had visited a local farm stand where we picked out loads of beautiful berries. She thought they could be used to add a bit of pizzaz to her breakfast accompanied by a hefty dollop of creamy Greek yogurt.
So if you’re in the mood, head on over to superhealthykids.com and check out this great recipe for waffles. Dress them up with your favorite healthy toppings. Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer and pop one in the toaster for a fresh baked taste every morning. As you know, breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day!

Super Healthy Kids Whole Wheat Waffles

2 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sugar
4 eggs
3 cups fat free organic milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together, batter will be lumpy. Fill 1/4 measuring cup with batter. Pour onto hot, greased waffle iron. Cook batter until golden brown. Remove from waffle iron and top with berries, yogurt, peanut butter, or other fruit.
(Adapted from the recipe found on Superhealthykids.com

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Posted in appetizers/snacks, breakfast, Brunch, Desserts, Kids in the Kitchen

Sweet and Creamy Fresh Fruit Dip

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Several weeks ago, my husband and I joined his extended family for a beautiful country club brunch. We had decided to plan the event without all of our children because their busy schedules seemed to foil all of our plans for actually getting together. Some kids were away at school, others had scheduled sporting events, and still others had obligations to employers and had to report to work. After days of shuffling schedules, we decided to have a quiet brunch, parents only.
Just before the day arrived, I headed out to the local kitchen store and picked up a few fresh new kitchen towels, wrapped them in tissue paper and popped them in gift bags to share with all of the woman attending the brunch. It seems we’ve adopted the custom of bringing little gifts to this annual event. We often bring flowers, or inexpensive jewelry, the latest gadget, etc., just to share some fun and celebrate Easter and the arrival of spring.
This year, one of the gifts that I received was a gadget called a Ratcheting Pineapple Slicer and I can’t tell you how wonderful this kitchen tool has turned out to be. The instructions that accompany the tool are fairly easy to follow and in no time at all, you’ve got a perfectly sliced pineapple with very little waste and cleanup is a snap.

Here’s how it works:

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As warmer weather begins to make its way up into the Midwest, communities welcome local farmer’s market vendors as they dust off their aprons and set up their wares in the bright weekend sunshine. Sweet colorful berries of every kind brighten the booths of local farmers.
This Sweet and Creamy Fresh Fruit Dip recipe is a nice addition to a plate of freshly washed and prepared fruit. The unique mix of brown sugar and honey make for a tasty brunch treat or after school snack.

Sweet and Creamy Fresh Fruit Dip

1 cup non-fat vanilla or plain Greek yogurt
1½ teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Chill until ready to serve.
Plate with assorted fresh fruit.

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Posted in appetizers/snacks, Food, Kids in the Kitchen, lunch box

Simply Made Veggie-Style California Roll

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Our local grocer has a wonderful sushi station set up in the produce section of the store. Each time I visit the store, I load up my cart with a few packages of veggie style California Roll. M loves to take it to school in her bento box. She eats it for lunch or saves it for her after-school snack, just before track practice. Lately, my long work hours have kept me from visiting the market during the sushi making hours. It seems the hours for the station are limited and once the station is closed, the remaining sushi is often removed from the refrigerator case well before I arrive.
M and I were out shopping yesterday, and once again, the sushi station was closed. As M passed by the station with a disappointed look on her face, she spied a display that included all of the supplies needed to make our own California Roll recipe. We quickly gathered up all the supplies and headed home to begin our sushi making project. On a recent visit to Disney, we had purchased a bamboo sushi rolling sheet so we were excited to finally put it to use. We carefully read the directions for making the rice, although, we eliminated the addiction of sugar and salt. We then proceeded to assemble the California roll. Wow, what a simple project…and so delicious! I hope you have a chance to try the recipe on your own. Add any combination of fresh veggies you prefer…cucumber or jicama might be nice. This is really a fun family cooking project.

Simply Made Veggie California Roll

2 cups Premium Grade Nishiki Sushi Rice, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
5 sheets nori (dry seaweed)
1 avocado, sliced thinly,
3 stalked celery, cut julianne style, about the length of the nori sheet
3 carrots, peeled and cut julianne style, about the length of the nori sheet

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Transfer cooked rice to a bowl and carefully cut in rice vinegar using a rice paddle or wooden spoon. Allow to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Place a sheet of nori, on the rolling mat.

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Place 2 to 3 pieces of each of the avocado slices, celery, and carrots on top of the nori in one layer.

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Using the mat as a guide, carefully roll the California roll into a tight log. Remove the rolling mat.

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With a sharp wet knife, cut roll into 6 even pieces. Repeat with remaining sheets of nori and filling. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

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Posted in Baked goods, Chocolate, Food, Kids in the Kitchen

Dump It In Brownies

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Many years ago, while looking through a magazine at one of our regularly scheduled well visits for the kids, I stumbled upon this recipe for brownies. I was amazed by the simplicity involved in making this rich, chocolatey treat.
The first time I used the recipe, I had three small children in tow. All of them sporting hand-made aprons and propped up on stools to assist with the baking project. I had pre-measured all of the ingredients and had things lined up so that the kids could pour everything into the bowl before mixing. I kept saying, “Go ahead, guys…just dump it in!” Well, the look on their faces was priceless! Mom is actually letting us just dump this stuff in? I’m usually quite methodical when baking so my carefree attitude was really messing with their minds.
Weeks later, K asked if we could bake again. She asked if we could make the “dump it in” recipe. Well, the name stuck and that’s what we called these moist, delicious brownies ever since. I’ve changed up the recipe a bit but it certainly is a moist flavorful treat, that’s fun to make with the kiddos.

Dump It In Brownies

2 cups sugar
5 eggs, beaten
1 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray with cooking spray, a 9×13 inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, dump in all ingredients. Combine well, stirring just until moistened. Spread the batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in preheated oven, or until brownies start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool completely before icing. Sprinkle extra chips over chocolate frosting of your choice.

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Posted in appetizers/snacks, Baked goods, Baking, Brunch, Desserts

Gingerbread Holiday Cookies

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Gosh, I love this time of year…I am especially happy this week because my K is coming home from college for the holiday weekend! We have missed seeing her smiling face around the house. She is a student athlete so she hasn’t been allowed to come home since the beginning of the school year. Her most common complaint while away at school is that she misses mom’s cooking and baking.
Well, I have been baking all morning getting ready for her arrival tomorrow. In the past two hours, I have made Mary’s Irish Scones, Grandma’s Brown Bread, a batch of Jumbo Oatmeal Cowboy Cookies and these Gingerbread Holiday Cookies. I downloaded the gingerbread cookie recipe many years ago from the Martha Stewart website after seeing her make them on her weekly television program. I have been making this recipe for the holidays ever since. (Using various cookie cutter shapes to reflect Thanksgiving and Christmas symbols…stars, leaves, turkeys, candy canes, gingerbread men, etc.)
I will be starting on some of K’s favorite savory meals this afternoon. …Can’t wait to have the family back together for the holidays!
Happy Thanksgiving to all those living in the United States…Happy Day to those living elsewhere! 😉

Posted in Baked goods, breakfast, Brunch, eggs, Food, Kids in the Kitchen, Main Dish

Scrambled Egg Squares (Strawberry Shortcake Eggs)

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This is one of the first recipes M&K were able to make on their own. About 12 years ago, during a Scholastic Book Fair, M spied a Strawberry Shortcake Berry Yummy Cook Book named for her favorite cartoon character called Strawberry Shortcake. She fell in love with the book on the spot. We brought it home and she went to work trying to find the perfect first recipe to make for Saturday breakfast.

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Early Saturday morning, M&K put on their aprons and began assembling the egg dish. They did a fantastic job measuring and pouring ingredients. They were delighted when we pulled the completed dish from the oven.
The original recipe was called Huckleberry Pie’s Hash Brown Bake (so cute). At the time, the recipe included hash brown potatoes but we weren’t fond of the soggy potatoes in the dish so we tweaked it a bit. We gave our adapted dish a new name; Strawberry Shortcake Eggs.
(Note: I have renamed the dish to Scrambled Egg Squares for the blog just because I didn’t want to confuse readers; I didn’t want anyone to think that strawberry shortcake was part of the recipe! 🙂

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The best part about making a pan of these eggs is that they are great for feeding a crowd or a big family quickly. Just pour the beaten eggs into the pan with a few other ingredients and in 20 minutes, you’ve got lots of eggs. I often wrap the cooked squares individually in plastic wrap and freeze them. Later, I use them to make breakfast sandwiches by combining an egg square with an English muffin, a sausage patty (optional), and a slice of cheese.

Scrambled Egg Squares ( Strawberry Shortcake Eggs)

8 eggs
3/4 cup milk or half & half
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons Ready to Serve Real Bacon Bits, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13×9″ baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs with milk or half&half. Stir in shredded cheese, and bacon pieces. Pour into baking pan and bake for 17-20 minutes or until set, puffy, and lightly browned. Cool slightly before cutting into squares.

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Posted in appetizers/snacks, Baked goods, Bread, Food, Kids in the Kitchen, lunch box

Creamy Corn Bread

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Lately, M has been taking a thermos of soup in her lunchbox. Every Sunday evening, we make a big pot of soup that will last through the long school week. Recent recipe choices have included cream of broccoli, minestrone, vegetable beef, and other favorites. I’ve also been baking cornbread muffins to accompany the meal. I bake them in silicone muffin liners for easy cleanup.
This Creamy Corn Bread recipe gets its sweetness and creaminess from the corn and yogurt in the mix. No need to add sugar, this bread is sweet, moist, and satisfying!

Creamy Corn Bread

1 egg
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 (8 3/4-ounce) can whole-kernel corn, drained
1 (8 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
1 (8 1/2-ounce) package corn muffin mix
1 (8-ounce) carton plain fat-free yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients in a medium bowl; stir well. Pour into a 9×5″ loaf pan coated with cooking spray or spoon into lined muffin pans. Bake at 350° for 40- 45 minutes for loaf pan or 17-20 minutes for muffins.

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