Saturday mornings (David Eyre’s Pancake)

dsc_0187Saturday mornings are sort of a toss-up around here.  Some days, mommy (that’s me) wakes up well-rested (rarely) or at least less zombie-ish than usual (more likely), gets to drink her coffee in peace as the kids play and watch too much Daniel Tiger.  Once we’re all sufficiently woken up and hungry, my pleasant, homemaking alter ego says, “Shall we make pancakes? Or waffles? Let’s make bacon, too!” And then she lets the kids HELP and everyone eats heaps of delicious breakfast food and says please and thank you and we are ready to start our day.

And then, there are those days that mommy just gives the kids cheese sticks while they watch Sponge Bob. Continue reading

everything but the turkey

rp_dsc_0057.jpgThanksgiving’s tomorrow and you still don’t have the perfect recipe for green bean casserole?  How about pie?  Well, lucky for you your favorite mom blogger (just kidding, it’s me) used to be a food blogger and spent a WHOLE lotta time finding the best of the best recipes for Thanksgiving.  These are some of my absolute favorite, crowd-pleasing recipes.  You know, just in case you’re not totally prepared yet. Continue reading

seven favorite freezer meals

So I’m in full-fledged nesting mode over here, and by that I mean I’m stocking my house with food like the end of the world is coming.  Some people nest by cleaning, others nest by organizing the nursery, some people nest by clearing their e-mail inboxes.  I do basically none of these super useful and sensible things to prepare for the birth of my next child.  HOWEVER, I have enough spaghetti sauce in my freezer to feed several dozen people. Need a chicken casserole?  I have 3, just waiting to be popped in the oven. Continue reading

i’m hot. (and a summer salad)

DSC_0020-2  I like to cook.  I love to cook!  But the combination of summer (spending lots of time outside instead of inside cooking, not wanting to turn on the stove, not in our usual routine, etc.) and being in my crabby-pregnant phase, has me kind of dreading dinner each night.  As much as I love trolling the farmers’ markets each week, the idea of cooking elaborate meals with my finds just isn’t thrilling me at the moment.  Have I mentioned that it’s hot?  Or that I’m pregnant and crabby? Continue reading

Maple and Olive Oil Granola

DSC_0204Breakfast was never big deal in my family growing up.  We ate a nice dinner together every night, lovingly prepared by my mom, who’s a great cook. But breakfast was always kind of a toss-up. My dad was always gone to work before we got up for breakfast, my mom doesn’t like breakfast food, so she’d pretty much just eat leftovers or something (same as I do now), and unless we were in the mood to beg my mom to make us chocolate chip pancakes (which she would sometimes, being the supermom she was), we’d just eat something quickly before rushing out the door to school.

DSC_0183Our breakfasts take on a similar theme around here these days, although we are rarely in a rush and I can sometimes sit with the kids and we can eat breakfasts together.  I always put some music on, open up all the blinds to let the morning sun shine on us, and try cut up some fruit for us all to share on top of whatever we’re all eating.  As I may have mentioned before, my kids basically eat anything and everything, so coming up with things to feed them isn’t hard… but it’s good to have a few standbys.  Both of my kids love yogurt, and since I’m a total mean mom, I only buy the plain, unflavored whole-milk variety (cheaper! healthier!).  But I let them stir in a spoonful of jam, which they think is like the best thing ever, and then we top it with some of this amazing granola. (I call it “yogurt sprinkles”. Further proof that my kids are going to need therapy later in life.)  I used to buy granola from Costco in bulk because we ate so much of it, and I actually think it was pretty good.  But then I tried this granola and I’ll Never. Go. Back.  It’s just the right combination of chewy and crispy and crunchy. Sweet, but not saccharine, with a sprinkle of salt to balance it out.  I love the combination of oats and nuts and seeds as the recipe’s written, but I’ve made it with lots of variations and loved them all in their own way.  I gave a small batch to my mom (yep, the one who doesn’t like breakfast food) and she texted me a couple of hours later saying, “What’s in this granola?!  I can’t stop eating it!!!” She probably used more exclamation points, because she’s kind of like that, but you get the gist. So she made herself a batch, and my dad, who loves granola, but also has strong opinions about things such as this, loved it, too. Continue reading

The BEST homemade playdough

DSC_0185 Every parent of small children knows that play dough is basically the gold standard for toys that your kids can play with for hours on end.  Nothing else can keep my kids attention for so long… or so peacefully.  On top of that, play dough can be one of those fun learning opportunities that can help with different concepts without bashing the kiddos over the head with them.  Color mixing?  Easy peasy.  Measurements? Fun both while you’re making the dough, or even after you’ve made it with lots of different cups and spoons.  Got a two-year-old who wants to cut with scissors like her brother, but can’t figure out how to cut paper and winds up screaming in frustration?  Play dough to the rescue… it’s easy to cut with some plastic play dough tools.DSC_0209

The only downside of the stuff is that it tends to dry out pretty quickly and it gets pricy when you’re always buying new ‘doh.  Enter this recipe for homemade play dough.  And not just any recipe… seriously the best I’ve ever tried.  It’s just like the brand-name stuff, except I think… maybe… better?  It’s softer, easier to shape, and doesn’t have that weird smell.  And as a bonus, my kids love making things together in the kitchen, and since we’re not eating this dough, they can really dig in and get their hands dirty without me getting too squirmy.  And it keeps forever in the fridge. Months and months.DSC_0182

And the possibilities are endless.  You can make this dough any color you’d like, or add glitter, or drop in some essential oils to make it smell good (just make sure they’re kid-safe, mmmk?). Last year for my son’s birthday party, I was at a loss to come up with an activity for a bunch of 3 year-olds that would fit in his construction theme.  So I just made a huge batch of this play dough, dyed it green, brown, gray, and black (you know, grass, dirt, gravel, and asphalt) and gave each kid some mini construction vehicles to dig it up, roll it flat, etc.  The kids LOVED it, and along with the vehicles, the play dough made a fun, inexpensive party favor for them to take home when they were done. On the flip side, if you’re wondering what kind of gift you get for a 2 or 3 year old, a big batch of this play dough, along with one of those play dough tool kits I mentioned before would be sure to be a hit and played with for years to come.

DSC_0203So, without further ado, here is the recipe I use.  Hope you love it as much as we do.

Homemade Play Dough

I got this recipe from Imagination Tree. It really is the best we've ever tried! Head over there for lots of ideas on adapting this recipe in fun ways!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup table salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • about 1.5 cups boiling water (it may be a little more or a little less depending on your flour)
  • food coloring (optional)
  • a couple drops of vegetable glycerine (optional)
  • In a large bowl (especially important that it's large if you're letting the kiddos mix- less chance of spills!), combine the flour, oil, salt, and cream of tartar. Slowly stir in the boiling water until incorporated.
  • Turn out the dough onto the counter and knead it as you would a bread dough. If you're using food coloring and/or glycerine, knead it in as you go. Keep kneading until it's smooth and not sticky. (If it's still sticky after a few minutes, add a bit more flour.) Voila! Play dough!
  • Store play dough in airtight containers or ziplock bags in the fridge for several months.

German Easter Bread

*I originally posted this on butimhungry.com, but since I’ll be making this again tomorrow morning, and thinking of my grandma, I thought it only right to share.  Hope you all have a blessed Easter filled with your own traditions and Easter joy!*

German OsterbrotI’m on dangerous ground.  Messing around with family recipes dating back at least 4 generations can be a sure way to find disaster and disappointment. But something had to be done. Continue reading

simple homemade elderberry syrup

elderberry syrupOh, internet.  You are so full of people claiming to have all these magical recipes for concoctions that will keep you from getting sick.  As the mother of two delightful, grubby, germ-infested little people, I have tried them all.

I ate tablespoons full of chopped raw garlic twice a day for a week. (Husband not pleased.)

I drank apple cider vinegar and honey in warm water 3 times a day for an entire month. (Husband still not pleased.)

I tried getting everyone in my family to take a few drops of oregano oil under their tongue daily all winter. (Husband’s over it and would rather get the flu than put oregano oil in his mouth. Fair enough.)

So when I heard people raving about taking elderberry syrup to fight off colds and the flu, I was thinking it was probably either totally gross or totally ineffective.  But I figured I’d give it a shot, because, what the heck, I’m into doing weird stuff like this.

So I made up a batch, spooned it into my kids and myself for the past few months (If you didn’t get the gist, my husband is totally, “Thanks, but NO THANKS.”) And guess what? Despite being surrounded by all sorts of boogers and coughs and barf-inducing bugs, we have emerged unscathed through the first half of the season, while others are down for the count.  At one point, I started to get a cold, so I upped my dosage and the next day, woke up feeling better.  I’m ready to declare this stuff magical.  Or at least, declare it works for us.  So far.  But frankly, anything that gives us even the slightest edge during cold and flu season is totally worth it, in my book.

You can buy elderberry syrup pre-made, but it’s a bit pricey.  And hey, what’s more fun than doing things the hard way? 😉  But seriously, it’s crazy easy to make with only a few ingredients and half an hour.  So why wouldn’t you make it?elderberry syrup

simple homemade elderberry syrup

My kids will happily swallow a spoonful of this plain- it has a pleasant, sweet taste. I like to stir a tablespoon into a cup of hot water with a squeeze of lemon juice- it makes a nice herbal tea.

You can get dried elderberries at health food stores, or lots of places on the internet. I ordered these from Amazon.

I give each of my kids a teaspoon once a day, and I take a tablespoon. If I feel something coming on, I double or triple the dose. Stay healthy, friends!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup dried elderberries (or 1 cup fresh)
  • 1 cup raw honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • Place water, elderberries, and cinnamon stick (if you're using one) in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, and continue to cook at a low simmer for 30 minutes. Take off heat and let cool just a bit.
  • Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing on the berries to make sure you get all the juices out. Discard the remaining berries. Stir in the honey to the warm elderberry liquid until dissolved. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight jar in the fridge. The syrup will keep for several months in the fridge.