Category Archives: Recipes/Food

Breakfast Baking

I spent Sunday afternoon working on breakfast. That sounds a bit strange. Surely by the afternoon breakfast is over. Even my slowest dish washing child usually has the morning dishes completed by the afternoon. No offense, darling children.

What I meant was that I used a good portion of Sunday afternoon to do some breakfast baking, for the upcoming week. I read two wonderful blogs this weekend which inspired me to gather baking supplies and settle in for the day. Last week I asked Lisa in FL (a homeschooling e-mail friend) some questions about how she handles the breakfast meals in her family. She wrote this detailed blog on the subject. Amy (another homeschooling SHS friend) posted a great blog on creating menus and preparing meals in advance. Both of these neat moms make excellent use of their freezer in their meal planning.

Joshua got up early Sunday morning and made waffles for breakfast. Have I mentioned, recently, that it is just LOVELY having older children around to help in this way?


Maple syrup or Mrs. Butterworth?? This is quite the source of conflict in our home. Healthy (this could be questionable) or cheap?

Since the waffle maker was still out (and the last waffle torn into pieces by ravenous children and then sneakily eaten by me, sorry guys) I figured it would be smart to make up another batch of waffles and have some on hand for next week. As soon as that thought hit me, I knew I shouldn’t stop there but should make some additional things. Since I was obviously craving waffles (ie yummy starches) I thought this would be a great time to try out a master muffin mix someone shared online last year. I also wanted to make up Tim’s breakfast pancakes for the week. I often don’t remember to start his breakfast/lunch preparations until it’s late in the evening, by that time I’m low on energy and not very interested in baking. It is extremely helpful to make up all of his breakfast pancakes for the week on Sunday evening.

tim's pancakes

Tim’s pancakes all bagged up and ready to go!

If I make up a batch of Tim’s pancakes then I obviously have to get out the griddle. With the griddle out, I could easily fit in a batch of blender oatmeal pancakes. You can see how this whole thing took on a life of its own. Joshua and the younger children walked around all afternoon with happy expressions on their faces as the kitchen filled up with delicious aromas. In the end I had quite a collection of breakfast options. I’ll include recipes (as well as my changes).

3½ C Pastry flour (I used a combination of ww pastry flour and unbleached flour)
4 tsp. Baking powder
1 tsp. Salt
2 Tbsp. Sucanat (or other sweetener–I used brown sugar)
2/3 C oil
3 C Rice milk (or other milk)
6 eggs

This is a great, all purpose waffle recipe. It seems like a lot of oil – I haven’t tried cutting it down with applesauce. I use whatever types of flour I have on hand and milk of various sorts. The first time I made this recipe I had rice milk but the rest of the time I use skim or 2% cow’s milk.


Waffles – bagged and heading for the freezer.

Master Muffin Recipe

5 cups flour (use up to two cups whole wheat, crushed cereal, or packed rolled oats if desired)
2 to 2 1/2 cups sugar (use the higher amount if fruit is sour, you may also use all or part br. sugar, or even half or more of sucralose for the sugar)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbs.(3 tsp) baking powder
2 cups buttermilk (you can use part yogurt for the milk)
1 cup vegetable oil or melted butter (or substitute 1/2 cup apple sauce for half the oil)
3 eggs

Place dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir to blend. Place wet ingredients (oil, eggs, milk) in blender container and blend well.

Make a well in dry ingredients in bowl, add wet mix from blender and pour into well. Stir gently to mix, add fruit and fold and stir in. Do not beat, batter should be a bit lumpy. Over stirring muffins makes them tough.

This will make 24 to 30 muffins depending on size of pans. Grease muffin pans or use muffin liners fill almost to the top and sprinkle with and of the following: sugar, cinn. sugar, chopped nuts and sugar, coconut, rolled oats and sugar etc. (I missed this last part and didn’t put on any topping).

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 min. Cool on racks. Freeze these in Ziplocs for quick breakfasts or easy snacks.


I made one batch of apple/butterscotch muffins and one of carrot raisin. I dropped an entire pan of the carrot raisin muffins on the floor – before they were baked. Yep! Nasty mess and waste of a lot of batter. Sigh. I think the little anti-vegetable imp that lives in the house jostled my arm. Thankfully Tim was home and cheerfully cleaned up the entire sloppy mess.

The wonderful thing about the Master Muffin Mix recipe is that the sweet lady who shared it also included a whole page of add-ins and variations. Since this blog is already lengthy, I figure it doesn’t hurt to make it a little longer. Here are the muffin variations that go with this master mix.

Apple cinnamon: Use 3 – 4 apples (just peel and cut in chunks and throw in blender with wet ingredients, don’t over process, or chop by hand), 2 tsp cinn. and 1 cup chopped pecans.

Apple raisin
– same as above but add 1 cup raisins (plump first by covering with liquid and nuking for a couple minutes. I like to used part rolled oats with the apple muffins and sprinkle the tops with a little oatmeal and sugar.

Carrot raisin – same as above but use 5 or 6 carrots chopped in blender with wet ingredients instead of apple. Add 1 cup chopped nuts if desired.

Carrot raisin pineapple – Same as above but add one large can crushed pineapple and reduce milk to 1 1/2 cups.

Strawberry – cut up 3 cups strawberries and mix in
Strawberry/White Chocolate, same as above, but add 1 cup white choc pieces
Strawberry pecan – same but add 1 cup chopped pecans

Tollhouse - add 2 cup choc chips (1 12 oz bag – I like to use the mini chips) 1 cup chopped nuts, walnuts or pecans, use brown sugar and add 2 tsp vanilla.

Banana - Reduce milk to 1 cup – add 5 or 6 bananas to blender – add 2 tsp vanilla and 1 cup nuts

Banana/Strawberry 1- Same as above but fold into batter, 2 cups cut up strawberries.
Banana/Strawberry 2 – Add 1 cup strawberries to the blender with 4 or 5 bananas. Stir 2 cups of cut up strawberries into batter.
Banana/Strawberry 3 – Follow either banana or banana strawberry 1, but add 1 pkg strawberry jello to wet ingredients.
Banana Choc chip – same as above but add 2 cups mini chips and 1 cup nuts if desired.

Blueberry /Orange – Peel the orange skin off one orange in very thin pieces using a potato peeler and put in the blender with the other wet ingredients. Remove the white peel remaining on the orange and cut orange into 4 or 5 chunks. Pick out the seeds and put the chunks in the blender. add the remaining wet ingredients reducing milk to 1 3/4 cups, if you are using regular milk do not add lemon juice. Blend well. Proceed as directed stirring in 2 1/2 to 3 cups blueberries.

Cranberry Orange – Same as above (no blueberries) except add 1 1/2 dried cranberries (plumped in microwave by covering with liquid and nuking for a couple minutes). Can also add 1 cup chopped nuts

Orange Pineapple – Same as above (no blueberries) but add 1 large can of crushed pineapple and reduce milk to 1 1/2 cups.

Hawaiian - Same as above but add 1 cup coconut – sprinkle tops with a little coconut.

Peanut Butter and Jelly – This is for the kids, into blender container put milk, 1 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky, you can add extra chopped peanuts if you like) and only 1/3 cup oil. Use 4 eggs and mix as usual. Fill muffin tins 1/2 full and put 1 tsp jam or jelly in center of each cup. Fill with batter almost to top and bake as usual. Chopped peanuts sprinkled on top is a nice touch.

No wonder they call Judy the Muffin Queen. :)

Tim’s breakfast pancakes are an altered version of my no-flour recipe. He likes them because they are one of the few breakfast items that really fill him up. They are hearty and tasty.

Tim’s Pancakes

1/4 cup oat bran
1/4 cup powdered milk
1/4 cup flour (whatever you have on hand)

I tend to make these rather heaping measurements (probably ends up being closer to 1/3 a cup).

1 or 2 tbs of sweetener (brown sugar or honey)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
Cinnamon or Nutmeg or Vanilla if desired
2 eggs
1/2 can of pineapple (either crushed or chunks, including some of the juice)

I’m afraid I don’t really measure these ingredients (except for the eggs). It’s a very forgiving recipe.

Mix dry ingredients. Add eggs and pineapple. Fry on griddle or in frying pan (greased with butter or baking spray).

Blender Oat Pancakes (Sue Greggs cookbook)

Place in blender blend at high speed 2 minutes until smooth.

1 3/4 cup buttermilk
3 eggs
2 T. olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups rolled oats uncooked

Mix in thoroughly, but briefly, using blender and or rubber spatula, as needed.
2 T. Sucanat (or other sweetener – I used brown sugar)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder

These are fun because they don’t use any flour. Okay, maybe ‘fun’ isn’t the right word but they are certainly different than the typical pancake. The recipe makes a thinner pancake but it is very tasty and thoroughly appreciated by my family.


After all of this work I wasn’t sure I had energy to make dinner. Ha! It was pouring outside so the thought of cooking hamburgers on the grill was a bit unappealing. Since the griddle was still hot from the pancakes, we moved right into dinner and used the griddle for the hamburgers. Nothing like an easy meal of burgers and salad. Following dinner, Tim and I went to the garage/game/media room to finish our movie and left the older children to do ALL THE DINNER and BREAKFAST BAKING CLEAN UP. Wonderful! They did a fantastic job.

We’ll see how long these baked goods survive. I need to ask Amy and Lisa how often they do this kind of baking. Anyone else ever do this kind of baking? I’m sure I’m missing some other fantastic recipes. Share if you have some good ones!

Project 365 – Day 141

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Asparagus with a Princess

Sarah adores this dress – she would wear it to church every Sunday if she could. It was a Christmas present (a Costco special) and I wish I had picked up one in every color just to see her dance around and revel in feeling like an exotic princess.

Today was gray and cool, so when Sarah asked to wear her “pretty white dress” to church, I agreed. It has long sleeves and is definitely a winter outfit. I felt smug sneaking in one more wearing before the warm weather arrives to stay. It is, isn’t it? The warm weather is going to come for a good long, summer visit? We’ve had several gorgeous, warm days but nothing that seems to really want to linger. No offense to all of those Washingtonians who actually like the cool weather and mild seasons, but I’m hoping for a good, hot summer.

After church (where Sarah did, of course, receive MANY compliments for her gorgeous dress) I decided to make asparagus for lunch. I’m the only one in the family who likes this particular vegetable (although I must admit I haven’t tried very hard to encourage the children eating asparagus, as that would mean I would have to share) which means if I make up a nice pan of steamed asparagus I get to eat all of it. Yum!


Sarah obviously wishes she had her own plate of asparagus!

I remembered that Carl had commented on Rachel’s healthy living discussion last week. He said asparagus was his favorite vegetable and recommended roasting it in the oven with a little olive oil and fresh rosemary. I didn’t have any fresh rosemary (or dried for that matter) but I did have olive oil and Kosher salt. Yum!! It was delicious. I even took his advice and sprinkled it with a little bit of fresh parmesan cheese.

While I didn’t allow her to actually EAT any of this, I did let Sarah be my photo model. I’m sure real princesses eat asparagus.

sarah's veggies

This is probably more asparagus than one person really needs to eat in a single day. See what happens when you don’t share.

Project 365 – Day 140

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P365 – Day 121 (Menu Planning)

I’m NOT an organized person. I love lists and charts but I rarely follow them. I am more likely to finish a job, then make a list so I check everything off. Terrible.

Now, however, Tim and I are trying to get our finances in order. We have a budget – this multi-faceted Excel spreadsheet that tracks EVERYTHING – and new priorities (actually living on what we make – revolutionary, I know). We are currently going on our second month of Budget Life. It’s been interesting to be so careful and responsible with our money. Do people really live this way all the time??

joshua hides

Joshua can’t believe we’re actually sticking to a budget!

I am tremendously thankful for our friends, Colin and Julee, who have helped us think, discuss, plan and get going on a real, workable budget. Colin sent me a copy of his amazing Excel spreadsheet Budget Wonder and I’ve been tweaking and adjusting it to fit our family ever since. If only adding income were as easy as just changing the numbers on my worksheet. Ah well, I tried.

I have many friends who regularly plan out their meals. Several of them even post them on their blog. Yikes! That’s crossing the line into Super Organized. Still, even while cringing, I have to admit I think meal planning is a great idea. I love the concept of having meals planned out and the ingredients in the house, ready to go. I would love to know what we’re going to eat before 5 pm in the day. I’m sure planning out meals could also help stretch our budget.

So, I decided to try it. I was determined to get some sort of a plan together by the end of the weekend. I can’t believe I never figured this out when Tina lived near by. She’s very organized in this area and could have tutored me. Tina, time to come home and help me!! Without you, I was stuck looking through 6 years of back issues of Taste of Home.


I took notes (chicken, beef, breakfast, lunch, sides, bread, etc) and included the year and page number of the magazine reference. Next I went through and photo copied the recipes. I figured that would be easier than writing it down by hand or trying to keep the magazines open to the right page. With Joshua drooling over my shoulder, I managed to come up with a nice collection of recipes. I think I ended up with something closer to two weeks than one. All the better!

Another thing I did this weekend, in my quest for Organization (with a capital O), was make up grocery lists for the major stores I frequent. A friend told me about a nice grocery list available in Word on Donna Young’s website. I used the basic form as my starting point and modified it to fit our shopping needs.

I created one for Target, Costco, Trader Joe’s, the produce store nearby, and two of the grocery stores where I mainly shop. It took me a little while but I think it is going to be an excellent resource in my meal planning (and ordinary life). I love having everything separated out as I definitely shop at different stores for different things (even within the grocery world). Now I can have the lists in a central area and people can check off what they need as they think of it. Instead of the more typical scenario where I’m standing in the middle of the grocery aisle, starring blankly at canned goods, while frantically trying to remember what it was we so desperately needed. Or trying to track down that little slip of paper that has my list on it.

I went through all of the recipes, highlighted the titles (to make them easier to find on the page), and marked the appropriate grocery list. This morning the kids and I went to one of the grocery stores (the nearby one where I do most of my shopping). This evening, after a Y workout, I went to the produce store and stocked up on fruits and veggies. Now I just have a few things to get at Costco and Trader Joe’s and I’m set (hopefully for longer than a week). I should (emphasis on should) have enough ingredients in the house to make healthy, varied meals (including some lunch and breakfast ideas).

joshua studies my recipes

After dinner I realized loose sheets of paper weren’t an effective way of keeping the recipes together – too easy for things to get lost, ripped, or spilled upon. I pulled out some page protectors and put all of my recipe copies behind plastic. Perfect! I found a little folder that had 3 ring binder tabs. I put the plastic protected recipe pages into the notebook. Now I have all the recipes for the week (or two) located in one spot. The kids can all help me with the meal preparation if they have time.

I’m excited to see how my new plan/organization attempt plays out. We tried several of the new recipes today. The tropical tuna melt we had for lunch was a big hit (tuna on English muffins topped with a bit of pineapple and cheese, then toasted in the oven). I wasn’t crazy about the hash brown beef pie for dinner but the cornbread muffins were delicious and everyone ate up the casserole (even with the “hearty” addition of vegetables in the mix).

All for now or I will definitely be sleep blogging here. I’ll post some more blogs along the way, to update and share how the meals are turning out. I’d LOVE to hear tips on how you plan meals for your family. If you have any good ideas, please leave a comment! If I am missing something significant, let me know!


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P365 – Day 91 Joshua’s Tortilla Soup

I’ve been meaning to try out this delicious soup ever since I read about it on Emily’s blog. I copied down the recipe and even passed it along to the EMF (E-Mail Family of aunts, friends and sister in law). I bought all the ingredients but the chicken broth. It’s hard to find a prepared chicken broth without sugar. So broth, no soup, that’s just how it goes.

Then I saw Dorothy had a vegetarianized version of the recipe on her blog. I always love reading Dorothy’s blog because she’s in England and uses words like “bunged” and “prithee” and “whilst.” You know those Brits, always trying to sound like they’re Shakespeare or something. Right now Dorothy and her family have Betty Puddles visiting them from New Hampshire. You can read about her trip to Hampton Court Palace here. Betty is a stuffed animal but don’t tell Dorothy and her family ’cause they think she’s real.

When I saw that Kristine had the soup posted on her blog as well (complete with pictures), I knew I just HAD to gather the rest of the ingredients and make this delicious sounding soup. I couldn’t let all of these women enjoy this recipe (bragging about it and eating all the leftovers) without getting in on the fun.

We had a Concert of Prayer at church this evening. As soon as I realized the event started at 5:30 pm (too early for dinner in this disorganized family), I knew it was a perfect chance to try out the Tortilla Soup. I asked Daniel to wash the crock pot and then gathered all the ingredients for Joshua (my chef du jour). He did a GREAT job of preparing the soup and everyone but Sarah and Rachel LOVED it. Somehow I gauged the salsa spicy factor just right for Tim and the children (ie NOT hardly spicy at all).

tortilla soup


28-32 oz. of chicken broth
2 cans refried beans
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained (Tim isn’t crazy about black beans so I used 1 can of black beans and 1 can of navy beans)
2 c. cooked chicken, cubed (I cooked two chicken breasts in the microwave and then added it to the soup)
1 can corn, drained (we used 2 cans)
2 c. salsa (we used 1 cup of salsa and 1 can of diced tomatoes)
1 c. water (I forgot to add this)

2 c. shredded cheddar
tortilla chips
sour cream

Place first seven ingredients in a pot and simmer for ten minutes. Turn off heat, add cheese, and stir until melted. [I put ours in the crock pot on medium low for an hour or two]

Serve with tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream as desired.

Delicious! Thank you, Joshua, for making dinner.


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Name this fruit

Anyone recognize this fruit? I had never bought one before but Costco had them for such a great price, I couldn’t resist.


The children, always open and eager to try new foods (ha!), were SHOCKED to see the seeds inside. How can they know what fish eggs look like? Really, I have to wonder what kind of science they are taking at their school.

None of the children liked the fruit at all. Joshua said it was too much like cantaloupe (and this is bad how?) and rejected even his small little bite. Daniel and David, who both LIKE cantaloupe , weren’t impressed either. Hmmm. I think this is one of those cases where you just keep presenting a new food until it’s not ‘new’ any more. Theoretically that works for picky eaters. I’ll have to ask my sister-in-law (who has a picky eater or two in the family) to report on that theory. Eliz, any thoughts?

Needless to say, I made up a fruit smoothie this evening (including this mystery fruit, banana, frozen blueberries, milk and honey) and all the children loved it (except for that cantaloupe hater, Joshua).

I know some people have smoothies on a regular/daily basis. We fix fruit blends more in the summer when it’s warm. Hard to really cozy up to a glass of iced drink when it’s grey and cold outside. Still, what a great snack – sweet and healthy – I may need to get back in the habit.

papaya two


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