Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Green Onion Project

I love a good old-fashioned science experiment, don't you?

On several occasions, I have heard that you can re-grow green onions. Supposedly you chop off what you need, place the root end in a cup with some water, put the whole thing on a sunny window sill, and you'll be putting the green onion growers out of business in no time. I have always wondered if this were true, and if it would affect the taste. Join me on a picture journey, updated daily, as we put the idea to the test.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Garlic Bread Spaghetti Calzones

I am very into the new My Plate eating guidelines. You know, the ones that tell you half your plate should be fruits and veggies. It doesn't bother me any because this is how I ate long before it became the cool thing to do. The boys are a little less receptive, but they are catching on quickly.

Almost every meal we eat is planned according to this outline. But every now and then, I am in the mood for an all-out carb-fest. That's how recipes like this one are created. The boys love it because spaghetti is one of their favorite foods. I love it because the garlic bread is the only thing that makes the spaghetti worth eating in the first place. I just ignore the whining the next day when I am serving up double doses of veggies to make up for it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Easy Triscuit Appetizers

A quick and easy, down and dirty, 5-minute snack that is perfect if A) your dinner guests arrive inappropriately early, B) your house becomes an impromptu football watching hub, or C) you're having one of those days where you are so busy you realize you forgot to have lunch and if you don't eat something RIGHT THIS SECOND, you're going to get hangry. And no, that's not a typo. Look it up - you know who you are :-)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Cheddar Mushroom Patty Melts

I have a thing for mushrooms. And cheddar cheese. And beef. Do you remember a while back when Wendy's had those burgers that were topped with sauteed mushrooms and warm cheddar sauce? They were the messiest thing ever, with the cheesy sauce oozing out everywhere and you needed about 327 napkins just to get through it. They advertised them for weeks before they finally started selling them. The day they actually launched them, I think I was in line before they even opened. Do you remember? Well, this is kind of like that, only better. My son calls them beef-stuffed grilled cheese and that just about sums it up.

Fake-it-till-you-make-it Thin Mint Wannabes

I'd like to clear the air right now. These are not Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Girl Scout. I am however, a complete and total Thin Mint addict. I remember many many moons ago when you could make a small-ish donation of $2.50 to the cause and get a box of really, really good cookies in return.

As to be expected, I have watched the price creep up little by little over the years. But I still got excited the other day when I saw the group of smiling, uniformed girls hanging out at my local grocery store pushing their lovely treats on innocent passersby. As I walked towards them, I was trying to decide how many boxes I was going to get. And then the girl on the end said, "Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies? They're only $4 a box." Only $4 a box? Only?? Don't get me wrong, I understand inflation and all that, but that's ridiculous. No way, it wasn't happening. There had to be another way.

Now, I'm going to level with you. Are these Thin Mints? No. Do they taste exactly like the ones in the beloved green box? No. Will you read the ingredients and make a batch of 5 cookies just to test it out because there is no way they will sufficiently satisfy your craving? Yes. And then you will make the full batch. Twice. In less than 24 hours. True story.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Best Beef Stew

When the weather turns cold, I love soul-warming dishes like chili, pasta fagioli, and red lentil soup. But at the end of the day, nothing beats a really good beef stew. With February winding down and visions of spring gardens dancing in my head, I thought this would be a perfect recipe to share. With a few special ingredients, this stew has such a deep, flavorful sauce. Potatoes, carrots, and peas never had it so good. What's that? You don't see peas in the picture above? That's because I received a special request to leave them out. Again. (I think Andrew thinks he might die if he actually eats one.) If you have your own picky eaters to deal with, dish theirs out first, then add the peas to the pot.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Make Your Own Oat Milk

In case you're new here, I eat a LOT of oatmeal. And I'm not shy with the liquids when I make it either. Most people like a little milk with their oatmeal; I like a little oatmeal with my milk. Hot or cold, quick or old-fashioned, I thoroughly drown the poor stuff. I tend to make it with less liquid so it's really thick, then I cover it with milk, just like regular cereal, and break the bigger chunks up. It really is odd.

Then, one day while I was making my sixth batch of almond milk in 5 days, I started wondering what else I could make milk out of. Then it hit me - I could make oat milk. It would be like oatmeal on top of my oatmeal! What more could an addict like me want??

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Confetti Burritos

Tortillas are such a perfect little thing. They come in all different sizes, made of all types of grains, and you can stuff absolutely anything inside them and have a fun, portable meal for the whole family. Most kids will eat anything that's wrapped up taco or burrito-style (hint, hint). Whether you are making peanut butter banana roll-ups for breakfast, turkey and hummus wraps for lunch, or chicken enchiladas for dinner, tortillas are the answer to every time-crunched mom. Try these super-stuffed burritos out on your picky eaters - they just may surprise you. Mine sure did!

Tortilla Pizza

When I was a kid, we had take out once a week. It was usually on Friday and we usually got pizza. This sounds great in theory, but there were six of us and we all wanted different things. Pizza is expensive, and obviously my parents weren't going to buy six different pizzas, so we usually ended up with plain or some various meat-topped pie. Today, pizza isn't any cheaper and I simply can't justify dropping 12 bucks on a glorified version of cheesy bread. These tortilla pizzas are so quick and easy, each one can be made to suit everyone's favorites (kids love this!), and they offer built-in portion control for those of us who lose all willpower before the delivery driver has even finished counting his tip. Score!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chinese Chicken & Broccoli

Andrew loves chinese food. Sweet and sour chicken, barbecue spare ribs, pork fried rice, and egg rolls are some of his favorites. I personally can't live without crispy cheese wontons and crab rangoon (look for these soon - they are on my 2013 cooking bucket list). Anyway, he's been craving chinese food almost daily these past few weeks and our favorite take-out place is a little on the pricey side. A quick freezer raid turned up some chicken and broccoli and suddenly dinner was born. I believe his exact words were "This is the best chinese food I have ever had." While we were stuffing our faces, we decided that the only thing that could make this dish even better would be to throw some cashews in it next time. Try it both ways and let me know which one you prefer.

10 Ways to Salvage Stale Bread

Just because it's stale doesn't mean it's trash. Whether it's the dry ends of sandwich bread that nobody wants or half a loaf of Italian bread leftover from last night's dinner, there are plenty of things to do with stale bread. Don't just feed it to the birds - cook something with it! White, wheat, rye, whatever - you'll never look at old bread the same.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ranch Dip and Dressing

I never have fresh herbs on hand. It usually goes something like this... I read recipe after recipe and see show after show highlighting food I would love to create in my kitchen, but it seems like they all require fresh herbs. So I put them on the grocery list, I buy them, I bring them home, and then... nothing. I can't remember what in the world I wanted them for and they languish in the fridge until they die. Just this afternoon, I threw away some rosemary that had turned black. And three seconds later I remembered that I never did make that Rosemary Focaccia I had been craving.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hint of Strawberry Scones

When I lived in Utah, there was this awesome little restaurant called Sconecutters. They served everything from sandwiches to fried shrimp platters, but they were most known for their scones. It was kind of like a west coast version of Dunkin Donuts, serving combo meals like two scones and a coffee. They were open 24/7, they had a drive-thru window, and I simply couldn't get enough of them. What's a scone, you might ask? Well, if you've never had one before, they are this crazy cross between a biscuit and a sugar cookie. Not too sweet, dense but flaky at the same time, and completely addictive.

Chicken Caesar Salad Bites

I come from a large family. I have three sisters and we all have our significant others. Add our parents and kids and we are a hungry bunch. To make sure no one person is responsible for feeding everybody, we tend to do our get-togethers potluck style. We all make and bring one or two things and ta-da! Instant buffet. Appetizers, main dishes, sides, and desserts - we've got it all covered. It works out pretty well. Last time we had a party, I wanted to make something different and this is what I came up with. They looked quite impressive on the plate, and everyone loved them.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fresh Hamburger Buns

I got a bread machine for my birthday a few months ago. I figured I'd pull it out once or twice a month and make some bread. Boy, was I wrong. I use this thing at least twice a week. White bread, wheat bread, half-and-half bread, breadsticks, rolls, buns, Italian loaves; I make it all. We actually stopped buying bread from the store over a month ago.

There is just something so amazing about taking some flour and water and yeast and turning it into bread. If you don't have one, I highly suggest you try to get your hands on one. And when you do, come right back here and make these hamburger buns.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Make Your Own Soy Milk

If you or someone in your family is lactose intolerant or otherwise allergic to regular milk, you know how expensive the alternatives can be. I'm not too crazy about all the weird additives they throw in there either. I figured there had to be a better way, and there is. Did you know you can make it yourself? It takes just a few simple (real) ingredients and it tastes way better than anything you can get in the store. Come on, I'll show you how.

2-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream (no ice cream maker required!)

Come here, I want to tell you a secret. Closer... closer... that's close enough. Ready?

I hate bananas. I know, I know, you're so used to me telling you how much I love everything, but I really hate bananas. Totally despise the things. Really, really can't stand them. At all. I like banana flavored stuff - banana milkshakes, banana taffy, banana bread, banana pudding. But I absolutely, positively do not like plain bananas in their natural state. 

Whew. I feel better.

Now that we got that out of the way, I LOVE this. The baby loves this. Soon, you will love this.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Apple and Pear Crisp

There is usually a ton of fruit in our house - fresh, frozen, and canned. If nothing else, we always have lots of fresh apples and pears on hand. I even had to get a second fruit basket just for them. Because we eat so much of them, I am always trying to come up with special ways to use them up. An alternative to a labor-intensive pie, I love this crisp. It comes together quickly, it's not overly sweet, and it tastes just as good right out of the oven as it does cold the next morning.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Homemade Chocolates

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, not that I really need an excuse to bring out the chocolates. I remember when I was pregnant with my second baby, I had gestational diabetes and couldn't have treats. A week before my due date, and a few days before Valentine's Day, we were walking through the mall and I spotted a HUGE heart filled with chocolates. No lie, this thing was over 2 feet wide.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Make Your Own Almond Milk (and Almond Meal)

I don't know where you live, but around here, almond milk is $4 for a HALF gallon ($3 if you catch it on sale). That's insane. They must be charging for all of the additives, because I can turn a 2-pound $8 bag of almonds into 6 quarts and it only takes 2 ingredients. Even if you don't do it on a regular basis, I think everyone should try it at least once. Bonus - you get a bunch of almond meal as a by-product of the process. That stuff is $8 per bag here. I couldn't love this anymore right now!

Very Veggie Quinoa and Bean Burgers

Meatless Monday has been such a success around here, I'm thinking of adding another meat-free day later in the week. I always seem to have tons of dinner ideas that use alternate forms of protein, like these burgers. Andrew and K can't stand store-bought veggie burgers, but I love them. What I don't love is the price - they are super-expensive, but I bought them for years because I was too intimidated to try it on my own. 

I think I hit the jackpot with these. Not only are they easy to make, but they use ingredients that I always have on hand and the boys finished them in minutes. I was actually quite impressed.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cold Oatmeal (Muesli)

My name is Lisa and I am addicted to oatmeal. I eat it every day, sometimes twice a day. I used to buy the flavored packets of instant oatmeal, but then I moved onto canisters of quick oats, then old-fashioned, then the really hard stuff - steel cut oats. It was bad.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Mini Meatloaf

Meatloaf is one of those things that sounds so simple. After all, you're just shaping some meat into a big patty and cooking it. Easy, right? Not so much. It burns, it dries out, it ends up sitting in its own grease. Not to mention it takes forever to cook. But, after making it a time or two (dozen), I have finally figured out 3 foolproof steps for turning out perfect meatloaf every time. And this particular meatloaf will be ready in less than 30 minutes. (Let's be honest, that's the part you're really excited about.)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ham and Asparagus Quiche

Quiche has been one of my favorite foods for as long as I can remember. When I lived with my grandma, we would buy the little 5-inch personal quiches in all the flavors the grocery store had. Then we'd take them home and split them between us. Our plates would be full of different quiche halves and we'd eat every crumb. Ham and cheese, spinach, plain - they were all amazing. But now that I know how easy they are to make, I don't have to run to the store to get this eggy deliciousness. This one's for you MomMom.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

The first year I had my big garden, I planted a lot of zucchini. Apparently, you only need one plant per person in your family. No one told me. We had three people; I planted eight zucchini. Eight! We had SO much zucchini that year - I was giving it away daily and still had 10 on my counter at all times. I learned how to make a lot of zucchini recipes that summer. But I sure wish I knew this one back then.

Black Bean Chicken Quesadillas

I grew up in a meat and potatoes house. But dinner does not have to be a separated affair, with the food groups all in their respective corners on a plate. It has taken me a long time but I am finally starting to let go of this concept. I also have to remind myself that meat is not the only source of protein. Not that I truly forget these things, I just fall into a rut now and then.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Dr. Seuss Special

Since we're on the subject of sneaky foods kids love, I present to you The Dr. Seuss Special. When I used to babysit my sisters, this was one of their favorite breakfasts. Back then I used green food coloring, but not anymore. I found a natural alternative that works just as well. It's...

Nutty Breakfast Cookies

Isn't it every kid's dream to have cookies for breakfast?

Isn't it every mom's dream to have kids who don't fight about what you serve them and actually finish their morning meal before the bus comes?

Well, have no fear, Foodie Mama is here! Healthy enough to make you happy, cookie enough to make them happy. Serve these. Tomorrow. And you could be, like, "the best mom EVR"!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Cinnamon Vanilla Biscotti

To me, biscotti has always been a fancy treat, a special kind of cookie best left to the pros. I would have never considered making it from scratch back in the day. But it was on my 2013 bucket list, so I did it. It was so easy, I laughed at myself for avoiding it for all those years. It uses ingredients I'll bet you already have in your pantry, so there's no excuse for paying for overpriced, rock-hard cookies from the store.

Veggie Stew with Biscuits

It's 21 degrees out. It's Meatless Monday. It's a perfect day for Veggie Stew.

Before you yell at me, I know there's chicken broth in it. And yes, I know that chicken is a meat, but that was all I had. And when you make it, you will use vegetable broth and make it totally meatless because you're awesome like that.

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

I have to be honest here - I don't like red sauce on my spaghetti. Give me a nice creamy alfredo, a light garlic and butter sauce, or a rich marsala gravy; anything but red sauce. But I do use it when I make lasagna, eggplant casserole, pizza, and the like. This sauce is so easy to make, and perfect if you hate relying on those jars from the grocery store.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Easiest Fudge Ever

Have you ever had a real chocolate craving? I don't mean one of those days when you're thinking "Ooh, a candy bar would be nice right about now...". I'm talking about that moment when you feel like if you don't get some chocolate in you right this very second, you're going to explode. Have you ever had one of those days?? Me too, and this fudge is the answer.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Cinnamon Sauteed Bananas

Andrew is not a banana fan. He uses them in his green smoothies to make everything creamy, and he likes banana bread, but other than that, not so much. But, he said that if he HAD to eat bananas, this is how he would want them. Not the most eloquent compliment, but I'll take it.

Garlic Shrimp Pasta with Broccoli

It's seafood night here at the Foodie Mama house and K has been craving garlic shrimp, so I decided to make it a meal. He's content to just eat a dozen or so shrimp and be done with it, but the mom in me insists that there be some veggies and whole grains involved. This is so easy and comes together so fast; perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.
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