Category Archives: Recipes/Food

In the morning, I’m makin’ waffles!

Anyone recognize that obscure movie quote? Hint: think animated and braying.

This summer I received an unexpected present – a George Foreman Next Grilleration Removable-Plate grill. Whew, that’s a mouthful. The gift was a complete surprise. I didn’t know I needed a new grill. I hadn’t been shopping and drooling over kitchen appliances. It wasn’t even on my Amazon gift list. Appliances usually take up the king size portion of your budget when remodeling your kitchen. Consider what appliances you already have. What appliances do you use often? If you have less money to replace appliances, the stove and oven should be top on your list. When on a tight budget, you may consider a few updates rather than a whole overhaul of your kitchen design. If you’re looking for a good refrigerator repair professional, you may want to ask your friends and family for recommendations. It’s actually really common for kitchen appliances to break or stop working, and it’s likely that your friends or family members have had to choose a repair professional in the past. Getting an honest recommendation can be as simple as asking them, point-blank, what their experience was like. Remember: You don’t necessarily have to hire the refrigerator repair professional that your family recommends–it’s just always wise to have a number of options. Kindly have a peek at these guys for best Appliance Repairs services.

What was I thinking?? Since receiving this wonderful grill, I think I’ve used it nearly every single day.

foreman grill

What? Don’t you take your electric grill outside to the picnic table for photo shoots? Be honest now.

I’ve used it to make pancakes, waffles, grilled cheese sandwiches, lemon pepper chicken tenders, cheese quesadillas, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, and hamburgers. Breakfast is one of my all time favorite parts of the day – when else can you have sweets, carbs and protein all at the same time and call it a ‘meal’? This new grill is PERFECT for breakfast dishes.

The interchangeable plates work wonderfully – there is an upper and lower waffle set, a baking tray (similar to a basic griddle) for the bottom and grilling plates for top and bottom. Incredibly they are dishwasher safe and non-stick. That alone is worth retiring my old, crusty Foreman grill. The new grill can either rest flat or tilt forward – perfect for cooking steaks or anything else with a little, ahem, extra fat. The drip trays catch all that terrible grease and the spatulas (included) are designed to work with the ridges and contours of the grill. There is even a cookbook full of delicious recipes. You can continued reading this article from here.

sarah and the flowers

Sarah stole the roses from my Foreman grill photo shoot and said I could take “6 or 8 pictures” of her. How well she knows me.

The only problem I’ve encountered so far with my new favorite appliance is where to store it. Or more importantly, how to keep it on the counter. My children (oblivious to my need to have the grill available at ANY MOMENT) keep putting it away in the pantry. I hate to fuss. I mean, after all, they are helping to tidy up the kitchen.

Still, I like knowing an easy meal — anything from breakfast tacos, tuna melt or herb-crusted salmon — is right there at my finger tips. I don’t want to haul this baby back and forth out of the pantry all day, do I? That might involve work and the goal is EASE of cooking in the kitchen. Now I have to train the children to leave the grill OUT on the counter.

david and his stick

Look, David’s getting ready to go inside and put the grill away. I can tell.

For a long list of customer reviews, visit the Amazon site. The response was overwhelming positive. Thanks for thinking of me, Mom. I LOVE the new grill and feel absolutely, totally and completely spoiled whenever I use it.

Project 365 – Day 235

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Frappe Freeze, Anyone?

Yes, it’s that time of year — the Annual Church Picnic!!

For some reason (historical smoothie scholars are not unified in their positions) our family maintains a tradition of serving blends, or smoothies, at the church picnic. Today was our third year of making mocha granitas and strawberry/lemonade blends for 400 to 500 people, or possibly 250 people, twice. However you do the math, we prepared between 400 and 450 drinks.

With our faithful blend assistants, Greg and Tina, now serving as missionaries in Thailand, we had to rely on family and a few random passers-by (Thanks Michelle and Terry!) to keep things moving efficiently. This year Rachel and Joshua moved out of the ‘carry supplies, hand out straws, and clean up the mess’ job positions and actually alternated the operation of one of our three Smoothie machines. It brings a proud tear to the eye to a smoothie-loving Mom or Dad, to pass along a love for blend-mixing to their progeny.

david sips away happily

David may be too young to run a blender, but he is an excellent taste-tester.

Some people get the tiniest bit excited about blends. We deliver them as fast as possible, but it’s hard to please everyone.

bethany and hannah

Bethany and Hannah are ready for their blends now! Or maybe it’s just time for the sack race to start. I get confused sometimes.

There’s nothing like a smoothie on a hot day to bring a smile to the face of a passing middle-schooler.

jacob and joshua

Notice the tight clenching of Joshua’s hand and his stiff smile. Smoothie-envy.

At our church picnic, young and old alike (not that I’m calling these two fine gentlemen “old”) enjoy cold fruit smoothies.

I wear my sunglasses...

I’m not calling them “young” either. :)

Of course, some people should stick to the fruit blends and skip the doubly-caffeinated mocha granitas (it makes them a little ‘jumpy’).

daniel jumps high

Daniel’s flying high …

Sarah and her friend, Tarah, wait patiently for their smoothies. That is, until the excitement overwhelms them.

sarah and tarahhooray for blends and friends

A few years ago Tim wrote an amusing and helpful blog about having a Blend Ministry. It contains the recipes for our two favorite smoothie flavors. Sadly, there isn’t a single picture (it was from his unenlightened ‘dark’ period of blogging) so be prepared to use your imagination.

This portion of Tim’s earlier blog entry made me laugh so I’m closing the post with a (rather lengthy) quote.

Sometimes people tease me about taking blending so seriously, especially when they see me packing in all my supplies, ice, ingredients and blenders (it is not unusual for me to fill the back of my little station wagon). “It’s just a blend, dude!” they will say (as if a smoothie were not an end in itself).

There are those smug seminarians who will try to tell you that smoothie-making is not really a spiritual gift. Some will decry the cost of the ingredients and will even mock the sacred “Smoothies Should Be Free” philosophy, as if blends and vulgar cash could mix. And of course, in every large crowd there will be Philistines who do not appreciate the subtle flavor of your best blend offering, who will callously leave full blends to melt forlornly on a picnic table.

Do not go gently into that smoothie-less dark night. Resist such nay-sayers and keep cranking out the blends. For every jealous sidewalk detractor there will spring up ten young disciples. Admittedly, some will probably fall by the wayside, and a few may settle for being pastors, evangelists and missionaries. But in the end a few hardy souls will persevere to the lofty height of Master Blender.

It is said that when the new city of Jerusalem is established, that a river will flow out from under the throne of God, along which will grow the tree of life. This tree will bear twelve distinct fruits according to the season. It all seems tailor-made to me … you have high-quality water and heavenly fruit; all that is lacking is ice.

I’m thinking that the position of God’s personal blend-maker is still open and I can set up shop along the side of the river. It reminds me of James and John, and how they asked to sit at the right and left of Jesus, when he comes into His glory. I hope the other blenders of the world don’t get mad at me. tje

Go forth and Blend!!

Project 365 – Day 217

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Strawberry Picking and Boating

We were invited to go pick strawberries this weekend at the home of some friends. Mom graciously (waiting to chortle gleefully after we left) agreed to stay home while Dad and I took the children off.

strawberry garden
Oh yeah! We have our ‘official’ strawberry bags and are ready to go!

The children LOVED picking strawberries. They thought it was great fun. One of them even said something like, “This is really fun!”

strawberry pickers
The younger team of strawberry harvesters, working hard to fulfill their quota.

Joshua helped Sarah find berries and, when we realized David’s bag was a little “juicy” we encouraged him to avoid the rotten strawberries. It’s so hard to find good help these days. Have to train, train, train.

joshua and sarah
Joshua’s management style is a bit ‘hands-on’.

Boy, they just LOVED picking strawberries.

For about 20 minutes. Maybe even a full 30 minutes. Then the allure of the little pond in the center of the yard was too great to ignore. The next thing I knew, Dad was the only one picking strawberries and the children were loading up in boats. I was, er, checking on the children.

daniel and rachel
Rachel and Daniel embark on their perilous paddle boat voyage.

The rest of the crew waited for their turn. Dad continued to gather strawberries. He is definitely a man who sticks to the original mission. He wasn’t side-tracked by a little ole paddle boat.

Joshua, David and Sarah
Look at that waiting stance. These kids are ready for their turn.

After a little switching around, everyone found a place in a boat. Except Dad who (yes, you guessed it) continued to pick strawberries.

paddle boat
Look at that protective arm Daniel has around Sarah. He’s not going to let her fall.

rachel and joshua
Lewis and Clark had nothing on these two!

After I dragged the kids away from their boats, and Dad from the strawberry garden, we returned home. (For a ‘small’ berry patch it was LOADED with strawberries!) I think I spent a good part of the rest of the evening coping with the abundance of our harvest. Yum! These strawberries are absolutely delicious and taste just like a little bite of summer.

Table full of strawberries! Not a bad haul for an hour or so of picking. Of course, Dad did most of the work. :)

After freezing several bags of sliced berries, I decided to make up a batch of strawberry muffins. Since I wouldn’t dream of traveling without my handy breakfast recipe folder, I quickly flipped to my mega muffin recipe and called imperiously for an assistant chef. Joshua did all the measuring, mixing, stirring, and tasting (basically Joshua made the muffins). I cut up the strawberries and poured the mix into muffin pans. And so, breakfast is ready for tomorrow morning.

I think Dad should get the first bite.

Project 365 — Day 167

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Cookies and Mashed Potatoes

I read a wonderful article in the June 2007 issue of Good Housekeeping this week. It was all about making vegetables more palatable and had a catchy title that would definitely appeal to my family, “Learn to Love the Veggies You Hate.” Of course, they would probably more likely appreciate something like, “How to Keep Your Mom from Fixing Vegetables EVER” but so far that one hasn’t made it to the major magazines.

sarah's french toast

Sarah finishes up the last of the Baked French Toast from Tuesday.

Now I like most vegetables but they managed to pick a few that don’t even make it to my “hey, let’s try this” list. To be fair (ie put myself in a better light) two of the veggies are favorites and eaten almost daily in our house.

I’m an adventuresome soul and always ready to experiment on my family with new, healthy, weird concoctions (they love me for this, I assure you) so I determined to try out one of Good Housekeeping’s veggie recipes. To be safe I started with something that looked down right acceptable: Broccoli Gratin. It has broccoli (something we already eat regularly) and potatoes. How can you go wrong? I figure I’ll ease them into these slowly and then hit them with one of the others like Shredded Beets with Celery and Dates (oh yeah, that’s gonna go over well here).

Broccoli Gratin

1 pound broccoli florets
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 in chunks
2 cups water
Pinch ground nutmeg (I omitted this)
3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Boil potatoes and broccoli until tender (17 to 20 minutes)
Drain vegetables, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Mash veggies, adding some reserved cooking liquid if mixture seems dry. Stir in nutmeg, 1/4 cup Parmesan, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper.
In shallow baking dish, spread vegetable mixture; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.
Broil 2 to 3 minutes or until Parmesan is browned.

I did have to make some adjustments to the recipe. I didn’t have any Yukon Gold potatoes. I cut up a small bag of red potatoes to use then changed my mind. I ended up drizzling them with Olive Oil, salt and fresh Parmesan and baking them in the oven. I decided to use instant mashed potatoes instead. I cooked the broccoli (didn’t measure) in water with some salt and butter until soft (and mushy, I mean very tender). I saved the liquid and pureed the broccoli in the food processor. I added some milk and a little more butter to the water and mixed up some instant mashed potatoes. I stirred in some sharp cheddar cheese (couldn’t resist) and then added the broccoli. I put the whole mixture into a Coring Ware dish, topped with fresh Parmesan and popped it into the oven with the roasting red potatoes.


It was delicious! Everyone liked it (well, everyone who likes mashed potatoes). It would also work, I think, with cooked cauliflower (although don’t tell my family or they’ll start to get suspicious). Tim thought it was a fairly painless way to eat broccoli. Joshua wasn’t sure about it as he couldn’t tell how many potatoes and how much broccoli he was eating. I think he likes his food separated out. It’s just proper, potatoes should be on one side and veggies the other with meat in the center. :)

On another, sweeter note, I made some yummy carrot cookies for an after dinner treat. It was so healthy I didn’t even charge the kids for a dessert point.

I LOVE this cookbook!! It’s one of my current favorites. If you like to bake and get excited about wheat germ, lecithin granules, and soy flour and recipes that unabashedly use these type of “exotic” ingredients, then you simply HAVE to check out this book or one of the author’s other selections.


The Smart Baking Cookbook: Muffins, Cookies, Biscuits and Breads by Jane Kinderlehrer

A friend introduced me to the author’s books, Smart Cookies and Smart Muffins. I found the Smart Baking Cookbook at the library. It has a collection of the muffins, cookies, and bread recipes all in one. I’ve gone to several times to buy the book but keep resisting (I mean, library rentals go for 3 weeks so I have time). Tim and I are a serious budget these days so there isn’t a lot of extra money available for “frivolous spending.” Still, I do have some anniversary money kicking around and definitely MUST own this book. We have Amazon Prime this year which means all of our Amazon shipping is FREE (if it is an Amazon sold item and not through another seller). How tempting is that??

Tonight I made:

Golden Carrot Molasses Gems

1/3 cup vegetable oil (preferably olive)
1/3 cup molasses
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup grated raw carrots
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 tbs bran
2 tbs rice polish or soy flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup powdered milk
2/3 cup raisins
1 1/4 cup rolled oats

In food processor, blender, or mixing bowl, combine oil, molasses, egg and vanilla. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add carrots and blend.

Combine wheat flour, wheat germ, bran, rice polish or soy flour, baking pwdr, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and milk powder.

Add to carrot mixture. Blend briefly. Stir in raisins and oats.

Bake 350 of 12 to 15 minutes.

carrot cookies

These were delicious! The kids all loved them. One thing I especially appreciate about the author is all the additional information she incorporates in her recipes. She gives tips on when and what to serve with the goodies, what kind of nutritional value is emphasized in each recipe, and so on.

I did have to make a list and buy some things not normally found in my pantry. Most everything was found in the bulk food section of one of our local grocery stores so it wasn’t too difficult.

There you have it. Two new recipes to try and one book recommendation. Enjoy.

Project 365 – Day 158

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French Toast Casserole

In my attempt to wean my family off cold cereal, I’ve gathered a nice collection of breakfast recipes. Now if I could just keep milk and eggs in the house I would be all set. We run out all the time, I need to either plan better or get some chickens and a cow.

I have lots of blogging friends who post their menus every week. In fact, Laura, over at I’m an Organizing Junkie, runs a Menu Monday blog each week. She posts her menu for the week (along with links to recipes) and then has a place where other moms can add a link to the menu on their blog. This week over 100 people had posted links to their sites. Wow! Now, I do NOT have time to look over 100+ menus by random strangers but it does give me pause and cause me to wonder if there is perhaps something to the whole menu thing.

My SHS friend, Lisa, even posted a blog just for ME on the subject of menu planning. It’s a pretty good friend who will dedicate a whole blog just to your homemaking struggles. :)

Joshua LOVES it when I plan out the meals. It means there will be a steady supply of good food headed his way. He is my most appreciative customer (can you call your children customers??). Of course, his vulnerability in this area opens him up to be tortured at my hands. It usually goes something like this:

Joshua: Mom, what’s for dinner?
Mom: Um, I don’t know. I haven’t decided.
Joshua: Mom, it’s 2 o’clock and I haven’t eaten for a whole hour.
Mom: Yeah, we’ll have a snack at 3:30 pm.
Joshua: Okay, that sounds good. But [long pause] what’s for dinner?
Mom: I’m not sure. Check with me in an hour.

Hee, hee, hee. This can go on all afternoon, providing hours of entertainment. It’s such fun to see him wrestle with conflicting aspects of hunger and respect. He knows not to fuss (“yeah, how about you make dinner tonight, buddy!”) but really, really wants me to give him something delicious to look forward to. Of course, the fact that you can practically see him growing does make me a bit sympathetic. Also, he is more than willing to help out in any way he can, from preparing the breakfasts in the morning (as long as I leave instructions and ingredients nearby) to approving or rejecting meal ideas.

Since I am just a baby-stepper in the world of home organization, I decided to take things in small doses. I figured I could handle two days of menu planning at a time. Plus, that is all that would fit on my chalkboard pantry door.

chalkboard door

Ahem, Don’t look too closely at Thursday’s dinner item. Maybe I need to spend some time at Laura’s menu blog after all. Help me out here, people!

I have about 4 or 5 recipes for Baked French Toast in my little breakfast folder. They are all pretty similar – bread, topped with eggs and milk, chilled overnight and baked in the morning. The kids LOVE any and all versions of this recipe so it’s always an easy crowd pleaser. The older ones will often help in the prep (anything to stay up a little later and avoid bedtime).

I use whatever loaf of bread I have on hand. Often I hit the day old, reduced shelf at the grocery store. I prefer whole wheat but will occasionally allow white bread to cross the threshold into our home.

loaf of breadchopping breadbowl of bread

I’ve tried both mixing the egg/milk mixture into the bread (stirring it altogether) and then pouring it into the pan, OR putting the cubed bread into the pan and then pouring the milk/egg mixture over the bread. I don’t like the bread to dry out during baking so I want it to be covered/soaked. Unfortunately, when you mix the bread and liquids together it gets rather soggy. I’m not sure which technique yields a better casserole. Or if you can even picture what in the world I’m talking about. Not important. This time I followed the recipe (go figure). I’ll report back tomorrow.

eggseggs, vanilla and milkmixing it all together

The recipe called for brown sugar but I was out. I used Sucanat (Sugar Cane Natural) instead. One of the other recipes has you boil brown sugar, corn syrup and butter and then pour it into the pan. This seems like way too much work to me. I have yet to try it. Still, it sits in my breakfast folder taunting me. I might have to just remove the whole recipe. Since my children are just going to pour maple syrup over top of the whole concoction, I don’t really see the point in overloading the recipe itself with a lot of sugar.

sucanatbutter sugar AND butter

Here comes the controversial – bread and milk/egg decision. Mix the liquid ingredients INTO the bread, thereby insuring even soaking and distribution of the milk and eggs, or follow the recipe which says to pour the mixture OVER the bread. This is right up there with questions about Calvinism vs. Arminianism. Serious stuff. I don’t know how I’ll sleep tonight. Oh, wait. It’s so late, I’m practically sleep blogging right now.

pouring in the eggs

The recipe said to sprinkle with cinnamon but I violated my no extra sugar rule and used my cinnamon/sugar shaker. Sigh. It’s all about the small compromises.

final product

Place in fridge overnight and leave instructions for baking with the early riser. I’m NOT the first one up in my family. Joshua is my definite morning child and, since he is also the one who is highly motivated to have a hearty breakfast, he’s very cheerful to help with breakfast.

By the time I come down, there will be an almost empty casserole dish and some sticky, but happy children. Now if I can just be sure they save out a portion for Tim.

Baked French Toast Casserole

1 large loaf bread, cubed
6 tbs butter, melted
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/4 tsp cinnamon
5 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix sugar, cinnamon and melted butter together. Spread on bottom of 9 x 13 pan.

Place bread on top of mixture in double layers.

Beat egg, milk and vanilla together. Pour over bread and let soak.

Sprinkle with cinnamon all over, cover and refrigerate over night.

Bake the next day at 350 for 30-40 minutes, until browned.


Project 365 – Day 156

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