Monday, March 28, 2011

Trying to limit 'screen time'

Here is the system we are using to try and limit 'screen' time with my 8 year old.  I created this chart for the fridge.

We were having trouble keeping track of time on a clock so I went with time slots where he has time to choose his activity.  He is responsible to sign up for time slots. He can only choose screens for 3 of the time slots. He MUST pick 2 of 3 of the following, homework, playing outside, and reading.

I should tell you that my husband and I both teach at the school our son goes to so he 'hangs out' with us before and after school.  That accounts for the time slots that are 'in dad's office' and 'extra waiting at school' (when we have meetings or practice after school).

This is a work in progress.

Today he signed up for a time slot at school and he forgot his DS.  I told him that it was his responsibility and if he didn't have his DS then he didn't get to play.

Click here for my chart

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Farmers Market Haul

I got all of this from my indoor Farmer's Market today
For under $30.00 *chicken $11.00
Organic chicken, green beans, scallions, carrots, eggs, cheese, and in the back is pak choi, lettuce, and spinach.  

We still have snow on the ground where I live but there are farmers who are growing produce inside greenhouses and bringing it to the Farmer's market. 

This week's menu is a little less on a budget.  I am splurging.  Especially with this organic chicken which I am not sure I can make into something tasty for my family.  

Saturday - Taco Salad (lettuce, scallions, cheese from above)
Sunday -  Pulled barbecue chicken sandwiches on homemade hamburger rolls
Monday - Pasta and sauce with tossed salad (lettuce, spinach, scallions, carrots, egg)
Tuesday - Chinese (Anne Chun's chow mein box) (green beans, pak choi, carrots, scallions)
Wednesday - (Happy Birthday to me and my son) - Tuna noodle casserole and applesauce at my sisters
Thursday - I think leftovers
Friday - Meatless - Pierogies with apple green bean saute as a side dish (green beans, scallions)

Preparing for Easter

I got this idea from We are that Family and I wanted to use it with my family as we prepare for Easter.
Here is how I set up my egg carton.

12 days before Easter we will start opening each egg and talk about the Easter story.  I am excited to find a way of making Easter more about Jesus than chocolate.  Here are the directions from Kristen @ We are that Family.

Make a list of 12 items that are in the Resurrection Story and if we couldn’t find the object around the house/yard, we just used our creativity.*I used pictures and folded them up inside the egg.

1. A picture of a donkey (Jesus triumphal entry)
2. Palm leaf from our front yard
3. A cup (from the Last Supper) We used a small lid to a water bottle
4. A flower (representing the Garden where Jesus prayed)
5. Some coins (Judas’ betrayal)
6. A piece of leather (symbolizing the whip)
7. A thorn (crown of thorns)
8. A paper cross
9. A dice (represent the soldiers who gambled for his clothes)
10. A nail (crucifixion)
11. A rock (to cover the tomb)
12. An empty egg (to remember the empty tomb!)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Storing my homemade granola

Getting ready to cut the bars!
Thinking about starting a business in granola bars.  
What do you think?
  Voila... Breakfast or snacks for the week.
I have to thank Melissa again for the idea and recipe. 
I love this!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Homemade Granola bars

Ok, so my husband and son wanted granola bars for our grab and go breakfast this week.   I didn't want to buy granola bars at the store for two reasons, money and healthfulness (is that a word?).  So I remembered a recipe from Melissa @ Another Lunch for chocolate chip granola bites and I decided to make them.

I had to improvise because I didn't have any Crisped Rice cereal.  So here is the recipe I used.   I substituted frosted mini shredded wheats and lowered the sugar.

2 1/2 cups quick oats
1/2 cup crushed up frosted mini shredded wheats
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup chocolate chips
*In a large bowl combine the first 4 ingredients.  Mix well.  In another bowl/container (I used my 2cup glass measuring cup) combine the vanilla, oil, and honey and pour over the dry mixture.  Mix really well.  Then add chocolate chips to mixture.

If you have these great mini silicone baking cups then press the mixture into them and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 min.  OR in a 8X8 glass baking dish lined with parchment paper press in and bake for 17-22 min. If you want to make them into bars you have to give them a long time to cool down.  Check out Melissa's post for all the tips on baking and on cutting bars.  She explains it well.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Breakfast on the Go idea

I know it doesn't look awesome, I am working on this recipe.  I got the idea from Deb @ Lincoln recipe swap when she commented on my breakfast post - *Always accepting ideas please*. 

I had made some clover rolls for St' Patrick's day and I am not a bread maker so call it fate that Deb commented on my post the day before I was going to make some bread dough. 

I used some of my dough to make these breakfast pockets which I froze, thawed the night before I wanted them, and popped them in the microwave in the morning. I rolled out two circles and put some scrambled eggs, cheese, and ham (Homel's :) in the middle and topped with another circle then crimped with a fork.  I guessed when I baked them and based the time on the roll recipe. 

The concept is great.  I need to work on my dough though because it is a little dense and bland.  I like these sandwiches though, and I dip mine in salsa to add a bit more taste. (and some veggies too).  Like I said, it is a work in progress.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Make my own chilli powder...? Yikes

This week in my CSA share I got three stems full of cayenne peppers that were partially dried.  What the heck was I to do with dried peppers?  Well after a bit of research I decided to make my own chili powder.  I have been moving away from the traditional spices because there are all sorts of chemicals and preservatives in them.  I have bought a few organic spices that we use often (cumin, garlic, cinnamon and parsley).

1.  Cut off the tops of the peppers and take out the seeds (unless you want it really hot)
2.  I finished drying them in the oven.  They were partially dry already

3.  Shook out any remaining seeds :)
4.  Put them in the food processor and grinded to powder
5.  In a dry jar I added  (The jar on the left is the mixture, on the right is just the cayenne)
  • 1Tablespoon cayenne powder
  • 2 Tablespoons cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cloves

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy First Day of Spring

Well it is finally here!  The first day of spring and I decided to 'spring clean' my blog to welcome in the new season.

I am excited to be on the verge of fresh local produce.  Trying to eat local in New York is very difficult in the winter.

This is my second year to attempt a garden.  What you see here is my pepper plant.  They take soooo long to germinate that you must start them early.  18 weeks is what my seed packet said. I didn't get any peppers last year.

I have a small raised garden.  It is one way to make the trip shorter from food source to table.  Gardens are alot of work though and I rely on my farmer's market and local farmers' road side stands more than on my little garden. There is a certain pride, however, when you can say you grew what you are eating.  Plus my sons get a kick out of it too.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Another week's menu on a budget

Monday - Penne pasta and sauce with tossed salad (oranges, slivered almond, and orange vinaigrette)
Tuesday - Hot ham (Hormel's) and cheese (from Farmer's market) sandwiches and salad
Wednesday - Taco salad
Thursday - St' Pats day - Pesto pasta, clover rolls, broccoli
Friday - (Meatless for lent) - Potato/Cheddar chowder with leftover clover rolls

I spent under 50$ this week. Once again, I went to "the big W" instead of grocery store.   I do not buy produce or meat from there.  So I headed to my farmers market.  I didn't know it was still going throughout the winter.  They had just moved inside a local store front.  I wish I would have known sooner.

I still got my CSA farm share of oranges, apples, onion, garlic, and this week cayenne peppers.  (A post about the peppers later).  I stopped at the farmers market for lettuce and cheese for this week's menu.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Amazing Quiche

Another idea this week adapted from Rachel Ray's magazine AND it fit into my budget friendly meal plan this week.

I have to admit I was skeptical of the strategy but it worked and worked well.

1.  Warm up some olive oil and add garlic (careful not to burn)
2.  Put in a cup of bread crumbs and toast in pan
3.  Remove from pan and put in a greased 9'' pie plate
3.  Steam some frozen broccoli
4.  In a bowl beat 4 eggs and about a cup of milk
5.  Add 1cup parmesean cheese, some parsley, salt and pepper to egg/milk mixture
6.  Add some chopped ham (again I used Hormel natural sandwich meat with no nitrates)
Put it together
1.  Lay the broccoli on top of your toasted bread crumbs in pie plate
2.  Pour egg mixture on top shaking the pie plate a little to settle the mix
3.  Bake for 20-25 min (rotate 1/2 way through) in 425 degree oven

The crust turns out AMAZING.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday's Meal a Success

This is Monday's dinner in my week of budget meals
The recipe was adapted from Rachel Ray's magazine this month. 

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil
Add pieces of ham (I used Hormel all natural ham sandwich meat bc no nitrates)
Add mushrooms
Add spinach (I used frozen that I steamed first)
Add cooked penne pasta
Add pesto (I used a Wegman's jarred pesto that I had bought a few weeks ago)
Just before serving I added chopped walnuts and parmesan cheese
As Rachel would say... Yummo!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Healthy on a budget this week

After Disney it is safe to say that we are on austerity this week.  So how do you still serve healthy meals without spending a fortune at the grocery store.  You will have to make some concessions.  My first one was that I shopped at a discount store instead of my favorite grocery store.

Meal Plan
Monday - Penne pasta (mushrooms, frozen spinach, ham, walnuts, parmesan)
*I had frozen spinach and parmesan on hand so this was a good choice
*I couldn't buy ham because of the nitrates in it.  So I bought Hormel ham sandwich meat as substitute and BONUS I had a coupon)

Tuesday - (We are eating out because we are playing basketball in a fundraiser - teachers vs Harlem Wizards)

Wednesday - (Ash Wednesday) - Veggie soup (box of chicken broth, frozen corn, green beans, broccoli and pasta stars)

Thursday - Quiche (Rachel Ray recipe) - ham and broccoli

Friday - (meatless)  Pierogies (Mrs T's with onions and butter), broccoli, applesauce

Groceries = $75.00
Snacks = Annies snack mix, Chex mix (coupon), cheese sticks (coupon)
Extra = dog food, some new storage containers bc coupon was going to expire :) 6 pack of mini cans of soda (I know its a weakness but I am trying to cut way back)


Planning a pokemon birthday party

We are in the beginning stages of planning my 7yr old's birthday party.

1.  He wants a party at the bowling ally
2.  He is inviting 7 guests + his bother and cousin
3.  He wants a pokemon theme

So far we are bowling and then going to my sister's or friend's house for food, dessert, and presents.  The meal plan is homemade mac n cheese, broccoli, and applesauce.  The dessert is going to be sugar cookies decorated like pokeballs.

Stay tuned.... I will post pictures of the pokeballs.  Can't make red and white ones because we will not use red dye #40 so I am compromising on white and yellow ones.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Top 5 Breakfasts on the run

This is according to my 7 year old son.  We have to eat in the car because we leave the house so early.
  • Kris Kringles (Finding Joy in my Kitchen) I add 3 chocolate chips to each :) Make ahead of time and freeze. Pop in the microwave for a few seconds & eat by hand. No syrup needed since it has the bit of chocolate

  • Breakfast burritos  - Scramble some eggs. Mix in some salsa with the eggs.  (I know this next step will sound crazy) Press the eggs into an ice cube tray and freeze (trust me).  Once frozen, pop out the cubes and put them in a zip lock bag back in freezer.  In the morning grab two cubes and microwave a few minutes. Then put them in a tortilla with a little cheese. YUM

  • Cinnamon Raisin Toast with a Simply Gogurt - I know not exciting but my son loves cinnamon raisin toast.  I haven't found a brand that I am in love with.  Last time I got Thomas's and I was pretty happy with the ingredients.  I'm not thrilled with the Gogurt but there aren't any dyes and I recognize most of the ingredients.

  •  Oatmeal - I sometimes use the pouches but I mix in some plain quick cooking oats and I have always done that so the boys don't know any better.  When I have time (which isn't often) I make it on the stove.

  • Tim Horton's - I know, I know, so not local and so industrial, but I love them and in a pinch they aren't that bad for you.  Egg and Cheese on a plain bagel.  Everyone has a weakness right?

PLEASE tell me your ideas in a comment.  I really need more!!  I am always looking for what others do in the am with the rush to get out the door and eat breakfast.