Sunday, June 25, 2017

July Meal Plan

It's time for July's meal plan menu which consists of recipes that are patriotic and/or cookout appropriate for the July 4th holiday, or any summer picnics you have coming up. Please check out all the recipes below. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

June 23rd Friday Frenzy Food & Craft Link Party

Happy Friday, everyone! Since it's Friday, that means it's Friday Frenzy time! Please check out our favorite link-ups from last week and share what you've been doing this week!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Skillet peaches & cream pork chops

I've missed a couple of months of the Fantastical Food Fight recently, but I'm back this month to join in the Peaches & Cream food fight! As soon as I saw the theme, I knew I wanted to go savory with my recipe. We have a lot of pork in our freezer (which we just cleaned and re-organized) from our half pig, so while thinking about what to make, this dish sprung to mind. I wasn't completely sure it would come out good, to be honest..... But, it came out even better than I thought! Both my husband and I enjoyed it a lot. I made this dish with just two pork chops as our twins are not quite up to pork chop level yet; however, you can easily add two more to your skillet along with more peaches. There will be plenty of sauce. I served these with a side of couscous and peas. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

June 16th Friday Frenzy Food & Craft Link Party

Friday Frenzy

Hi, everyone! I slacked a bit this week with blog posts. Not intentionally. I thought that the Fantastical Food Fight was this week, not next week, so I had that post all ready to go until I caught my error. Oh well.... I'd like to say I'm talented enough to whip up something else post-worthy, but these days not so much haha. #twinsaremyexcuseforeverything. Anyways, I hope some of my fellow bloggers out there will link up to the Friday Frenzy! It's a great way to have fun and get more exposure. Here's this week post: 

Happy, happy Friday! Kelly here from Kelly Lynn's Sweets and Treats and I am writing this week's link party post...which means I get to pick out some of my favorite posts that were linked up last week, to share with you! Let's get on to the party....

Friday, June 9, 2017

June 9th Friday Frenzy Food & Craft Link Party

Friday Frenzy

I'm excited to be joining the Friday Frenzy link party! You will be finding this post on my blog every Friday now along with all these other amazing bloggers pictured above. If you are a fellow blogger, please link up a favorite post (or two) below. Enjoy your weekend, everyone! 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Toddler pumpkin and banana egg pancakes

I have one more post right now in the baby/toddler food series and then I'll be back to some more of my regular food recipes (for a little while at least). I swear! I feel like I'm learning to cook all over again lately. Since our twins are starting to like more table and finger foods, I try to come up meals that all of us can eat when my husband is home for dinner. That can be challenging still though, but they have been eating small pastas, soft vegetables, eggs, salmon, potatoes, meatballs, and other things like that. They still eat chunkier purees, especially for breakfast and lunch (and they still love Greek yogurt and cereal, especially barley). Around the web, banana egg "pancakes" are a very popular baby/toddler food. I always see moms recommending them in groups and such. I have no idea where they originated, but they are a great idea - easy, simple, and healthy. Plus they have a perfectly soft and spongy texture (they are not like a regular pancake) that make them easy for eating. The "recipe" is just mashing one ripe banana with a fork and then beating in an egg and cooking like pancakes. See - super easy! Our twins like them a lot. But, of course, I wanted to put a little spin on them and after finding one lone can of pumpkin in the pantry, I knew what to try. This recipe makes about 12 little "pancakes" (about 2 servings). 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Toddler turkey, carrot, and apple meatballs

I can't believe my babies are already 10 months old! They are getting so big and learning so many new things all the time. They like being outside right now and going for walks in the stroller. We recently tried the baby swings at the park, which they really enjoyed. But, what they really love right now is food. They are interested in trying everything and want to grab and eat all that they see! They still like their homemade purées, especially with oatmeal or whole milk Greek yogurt. They prefer chunkier foods now though and are trying more finger and table foods all the time. I bought some frozen turkey meatballs and they really enjoyed those, so I decided to make a homemade version that is a little healthier for them. I still cut/break up these meatballs into smaller pieces for them at this point. They are picking up those pieces and feeding themselves.... a messy, but fun, time.

This recipe will make about 27ish meatballs. You can freeze them (place on a clean baking sheet in the freezer just until frozen and then place them all in a freezer bag) and then defrost in the refrigerator as needed. Heat them up in the oven or microwave, or even in an alfredo sauce. They can be eaten cold as well. The spices below are what I used, but you can use so many others like thyme, nutmeg, allspice, parsley, coriander, ginger, and others -- whatever flavors and combinations you want! They are also delicious for adults too - I've popped more than one in my mouth! 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

June Meal Plan

It's time for the June Menu Plan, which is really a June dessert plan! We have a bunch of tasty no-bake treats for you to enjoy as you kick-off the summer. Check them out below!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Rhubarb sour cream bread

I hear you, more rhubarb??! Well, yes, more rhubarb. It's in season right now (and not much else is yet) and I have a whole bag of it and it's delicious! I love making quick breads from all sorts of produce. I mean, it's basically a giant muffin, or a loaf shaped cake, so of course quick breads are delicious. I always try to cut back on sugar in them so they are a little less cake-like and a little more breakfast worthy.... I usually like to have a thick slice with coffee and scrambled eggs for breakfast to even out the sweetness a little. The tangy rhubarb, sour cream, and ground ginger in this loaf definitely help as well. We just got two rhubarb roots to plant, so I foresee many more rhubarb recipes to come in the future as well -- well, in a few years because that's how long it will take before our own will be ready to be harvested. Maybe my next recipe post will be something other than rhubarb (or baby food haha). Maybe....

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Rhubarb custard shortbread bars

I had a lovely first Mother's Day this past weekend. Mother's Day used to be a very difficult day for me, but this year was different because I had my two amazing babies to spend it with along with my husband and our families. We had a picnic lunch this year that was interrupted by some rain, but otherwise it was a beautiful day. I made these rhubarb custard shortbread bars for a dessert (adapted from this recipe) and they were a hit. These bars are decadent and I've lightened them up a bit on the sugar and fat from the original recipe. They have a shortbread crust, then a tangy yet sweet custard middle, and then topped with a lightly sweetened vanilla cream cheese whipped cream. I mean, how can you resist all of those things combined?! This recipe will make a lot of bars, so they are perfect for a gathering or picnic. I'm kind of into rhubarb lately, as you may have noticed from my rhubarb recipe round-up last week. I also still have a grocery bag full of it from my father-in-law's garden, so be on the look-out for even more rhubarb recipes over the next few weeks. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Beyond strawberry rhubarb pie: A rhubarb recipe round-up

Not that there's anything wrong with strawberry-rhubarb pie, of course. It's delicious and it's a classic for very good reason. But, there are so many other tasty things you can make with rhubarb. It's often an under-appreciated ingredient, but it's popping up in gardens all over our area right now, so it's the perfect time to explore other uses. Please check out all these recipes utilizing rhubarb for all meals of the day and in both sweet and savory dishes. I hope you are inspired to add more rhubarb recipes in your kitchen. Follow my Rhubarb Recipes Pinterest board for even more inspiration. I would love to hear your favorite rhubarb recipes as well!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Homemade baby food purées (advanced; part two)

Golden potato, broccoli, & cheddar mash (Boil in water - 1 peeled and chopped golden/yellow potato and 1/3 cup frozen broccoli florets until soft. Drain. Mash with 1/3 cup grated white cheddar cheese and milk to your desired consistency). I don't like to puree potatoes as they tend to become gummy.

Ours twins are starting to move on to chunkier purées and some more finger foods now. They have entered the "Stage 3" baby food time (9 months). They recently tried commercially available puffs and melts and enjoy learning to pick them up and feed themselves. They've also been trying more of our foods like chicken, roasted vegetables, turkey, and pasta. However, they still are eating smoother purées, cereal, and yogurt as well. That's what they still eat the most of right now while they are learning to grasp and feed themselves more and more each day. 

Carrot, mango, & yellow bell pepper purée (Steam one cup of chopped carrots until almost soft and then add 1 cup frozen mango chunks and 1/3 cup chopped yellow pepper. Cook until soft and purée to your desired consistency using steaming water).

Sunday, April 30, 2017

May Meal Plan {and a Father's Day giveaway!}

It's time for May's Meal Plan - May means the kick-off of picnic and grilling season. This month we also have a giveaway just in time for Father's Day! Check out all the great recipe ideas and then make sure to enter at the bottom of this post.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Salt and vinegar potato wedges

Is it bad that we bought a 50 pound bag of potatoes at the end of October and they were gone before the end of April? I mean, I did make mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving from that bag, so we didn't really eat them all by ourselves, right? OK, so we have a *slight* potato obsession in our house. We eat oven fries a lot. They are such a quick and easy side dish and go with so many meals. Recently, I wanted to change our regular oven fries up a bit and decided to try flavoring them with vinegar. I love salt and vinegar potato chips, so it seemed like a good plan. I was correct - these were delicious. Just enough vinegar flavor and tang without being overwhelming. Then roasted and topped with salt to finish. 

Dip these in ketchup, or enjoy as is (or even splash on some extra vinegar if you so choose). This recipe will serve about two people, but it is simple to double if needed.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Banana oat blender pancakes

Our twins are starting to show interest in our food. They want to grab everything we are eating and love to sit at the table with us now. They've started eating a few finger foods (or trying to- they often miss their mouth or drop it before it gets there!) like small noodles and soft fruits. So, I wanted to make them some pancakes to try for dinner recently, but I wanted to keep them simple in ingredients and also relatively healthy. They like oatmeal and they love bananas, so I used the banana to sweeten up these pancakes and oats for the base. We broke them up into small pieces and put them on their trays to feed themselves along with some small pieces of extra banana. As a real treat, we did dip a piece into real maple syrup for each of them. They were mixed on that, but they both really enjoyed the pancakes! My husband and I ate them for dinner, too - so they aren't just for babies and toddlers. 

This recipe will make about 10 pancakes. In case you missed earlier posts, I've been doing a small series on baby and toddler foods since they've been the focus of a lot of my cooking lately. I love making new foods and flavors for them to try and watching their reactions. I also have a Facebook group Baby & Toddler Food Recipe Share for those who may be interested.  

Friday, April 14, 2017

Pennsylvania Dutch ham, green beans, and potatoes

This meal is a classic from my childhood. My mom made this quite frequently during the cold weather months and we always enjoyed it. This and ham, bean, & rivel soup were two Pennsylvania Dutch family dishes we looked forward to having for dinner. They are simple, homey dishes. This recipe is so simple, it's truly barely a recipe haha. Just a few simple ingredients turn into a tasty meal. Dinner doesn't always have to be complicated or fancy. It's also a very frugal meal to feed your family and, for us, adding twins to our family has encouraged us more than ever to buff up on our frugality skills. We get a half of a pig each year, so our freezer is always well-stocked with ham hocks and hams. I thought that with the Easter holiday coming up, this would be a good time to post this recipe because if you have some leftover ham and a meaty ham bone, you are all set to make this meal next week with your leftovers. I used a ham hock, but either is fine as long as there's enough meat on it to feed about four people. 

I've posted a few other Pennsylvania Dutch recipes in the past. I have two cookbooks that I like to try recipes from and you can get cheap or free e-book ones on Amazon (currently) if you want to look through them. Each one is a little different, and we always find dishes we want to try. This recipe will serve about four people. Serve it with a side of crusty bread or drop biscuits with butter. I've also seen people serving it with cider vinegar on the side. We never did this when I was a kid, but I think next time I'll give it a try.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Quick coffee cake (Blitzkuchen)

My husband and I were perusing through The German Cookbook the other week looking for new recipes to try. As I'm sure I've mentioned several times before, we really love this cookbook and we like trying new recipes from it. Also, we've both been teaching ourselves German using Duolingo for a few years now and we speak our very elementary vocabulary around the twins. Maybe the will pick up bits and pieces of a second language as they learn to talk. So, when we were looking through the book, my husband immediately stuck a bookmark into the page for this quick coffee cake (called Blitzkuchen or "lightning cake"). I added a little more cinnamon and a bit more salt in this version.

What I really loved about this coffee cake was that it is simple to make and also simple in flavor. It's not very sweet at all, making it really lovely for breakfast or brunch, or alongside a cup of afternoon coffee. The crumb texture of the cake itself is really nice as well. Add this quick coffee cake to your Easter brunch or Mother's Day breakfast, or as a weekend treat for your family. This cake will serve 6-8 people, depending on how large you cut your pieces (probably 6 haha). 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Homemade baby food purées (advanced)

Blueberry, beet, & apple purée (1 cup of blueberries, 2 medium beets, 1 large sweet apple - Peel, chop and steam beets until softened, add a bit more water to the pan and add blueberries and apple. Cook until tender and then puree, using the steaming water as needed).

I wrote a previous post about making homemade baby food purées for our twins. They are now 8 months old and have tried a lot of fruits, vegetables, yogurt, cereals, and some meats. We started with single-ingredient purées to ensure that neither of them had a reaction to the food. Now that they've tried many things, and we know what they like (and don't like so much), I'm making more advanced purées combining multiple foods. I try to pick a variety of colors of foods as well as starting new textures (e.g., kiwi seeds, beans). My homemade purées are thicker and not as smooth as the ones in a stage 2 jar/container from the store. Also, I don't use one method for cooking. If I am roasting a squash for our dinner, I will roast one for them as well and use it for baby food. If I'm baking, I may toss some sweet potatoes or beets in the oven to cook for baby food. I boil and steam as well, cooking harder foods first and then adding softer ones. 

Avocado, kiwi, & banana purée (no need to cook - just blend 1 halved and peeled avocado, 3 peeled and quartered kiwi, & 1 ripe peeled banana until smooth. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to reduce browning, if desired).

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Triple chocolate chip chocolate cookies

My husband works shifts that are all over the place -- days, nights, weekends -- and it changes almost daily. I've been rather busy most days caring for our twins who are now 8 months old (I can't believe how quickly they are growing)! One has just started to crawl and both are getting bottom teeth! It amazing how much they learn and change each day. Given our somewhat crazy lives right now, I'm thankful that this winter we've had a super kind neighbor who has snowblowed our driveway and the sidewalk in front of our house numerous times. I think they took a little pity on my husband when he'd be out there shoveling and knowing we have two babies. So, recently I made them some cookies as a "thank you." My husband asked what kind they like and they said chocolate chip.... little did they know they were dealing with a food blogger who would need to jazz that up a bit into something new (not that I don't adore a good chocolate chip cookie). I adapted this recipe from here. It will make about 2-1/2 dozen cookies. We kept six for ourselves, and gave them two dozen. These cookies were so delicious - my husband said they were like eating hot chocolate in cookie form. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

April Meal Plan

It's time to get ready for April and spring with some meal ideas! Check out all the ideas below from a terrific group of bloggers. 


Entrees & Sides


This month's recipe round up was brought to you by:

Pin this to your meal planning board for easy access all month long!


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Maple pecan popcorn

It's high maple season in our region. The sap is running and all the maple producers are boiling! Every year throughout NY state, we have Maple Weekend celebrations. Last weekend was the first one for this year, and this coming weekend is the second one. We don't use fake maple (or pancake) syrup around here -- we use the good stuff from maple trees! I love to use maple syrup on pancakes and waffles, of course, but I also like to use it in recipes. Whenever you are going to cook or bake with maple syrup, you want to get the darkest color you can get because that will have the most maple flavor. This season I decided to make some caramel corn using maple syrup instead of corn syrup/brown sugar/honey. I adapted this recipe from King Arthur Flour. I am glad that we were able to taste the maple flavor in this recipe and it made the whole house smell amazing while it was baking. This popcorn is a super delicious treat - perfect to take to snack on while visiting some maple farms, to eat while watching a movie or playing games, or bring to a party. It's sure to be a hit!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Traditional Irish soda bread

It's St. Patrick's Day! For many of us, that means a corned beef & cabbage dinner. And, hopefully, a side of homemade soda bread to go with it! While looking around for a traditional soda bread recipe, I found this website: The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread! I figured that these folks take their soda bread pretty seriously, so I decided to make their basic white soda bread recipe this year (next year I plan to try the brown). No fancy raisins, sugar, butter, etc. (which, according to the website, makes it a "tea cake" and no longer a soda bread) -- just bread with four simple ingredients. The bread was a lovely side to our dinner -- perfect for sopping up some of the juices on your plate. All it needs is a pat of Kerrygold butter to make it complete. There's still time to make this bread for your dinner tonight, or this weekend! 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Peanut butter & jelly thumbprint cookies

This month's Fantastical Food Fight theme is peanut butter & jelly/pb&j! I was happy to see this theme because 1) I've always been a big pb&j fan; and 2) I've been meaning to make these cookies for probably about 3 years now! So I finally had a good reason. I had found this recipe and modified it slightly as written below to reflect the technique we use in my Gram's classic thumbprint cookies. These cookies are delicious - I mean, how could they not be, right? Peanut butter and jelly are a classic combination for a reason! I used grape jelly and mixed berry preserves in my cookies. The preserves melted down into the holes and the jelly just kind of stayed in a glob -- but they both still tasted terrific! You can use whatever your favorite jelly/jam/preserves are in your cookies. This recipe will make approximately 2-1/2 dozen cookies.

We recently gave the twins their first taste of peanut butter now that the recommendations are changed. We have no history of peanut allergies in our family (thankfully!), so I pureed up a banana with a little peanut butter and mixed it in with their oatmeal. They liked it and have eaten it a few times now. So I'm hopeful that they will continue to not have any reactions to peanut butter. I can't imagine how difficult it is to have severe food allergies. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Homemade baby food purées (basic)

Blueberry applesauce.

Since a significant portion of my kitchen time lately has been spent making baby food, I figured it deserved a post here. Having twins, baby food gets pretty expensive! I'm surprised when I see people in my mom's groups, or mom friends of mine, talking about how their babies don't like purées or cereals or other typical baby foods. Our twins love these things (and also they love yogurt). They are 7 months old now and have been eating cereal since 5 months and fruits and vegetables since about 6 months. After we tried a bunch of store bought jarred baby foods, I decided to try to make some myself. So far, the only thing they haven't liked is chicken (so much gagging) and our daughter does not care for beets. Some food I still buy jarred (like peaches and pears as they are expensive to buy this time of year and not very sweet), but making purées is pretty easy and definitely money saving.