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One of my new favorite blogs, Food Storage Made Easy, issued a challenge today for their readers to submit some new 72-hour kit ideas. Two of the types of kits they’re looking for are Healthy Options and Kid Friendly.

Got it. That fits us to a T!

The silver lining here is that it gave me the kick in the you-know-where that I needed to do some experiments I’ve been meaning to try.

72 Hour Kit contents for my 8-year-old and 1-year-old

I like the idea of using backpacks. Especially for kids. They are really not good at carrying things without whining every five feet unless it’s their favorite toy that they are actively playing with.

Their three days worth of water are in the cloth grocery bags on the right and left. I also include a favorite book to read, a small toy, a coloring book and crayons, an emergency whistle, a toothbrush, and a small bag of baby wipes. Also in the bags will be a metal fork and knife. I like the idea of being able to keep them and reuse them for other meals. Also, stirring hot food with a plastic spoon is just gross. Each backpack will also have a metal camping mug for drinking and eating. The emergency stoves, can openers, matches or lighters, and fuel tablets will be in the grown-ups’ backpacks.

And don’t forget vitamins! We have a few bottles of Berry Garden Gummies in our food storage for the kids (we have multis for us grown-ups). Three days’ worth can easily be sealed in a Foodsaver bag.

We try to be as careful as possible about consuming foods that contain artificial additives, so everything here is about as healthy as possible for emergency food.

toddler backpack

big kid backpack

Caroline’s backpack contains much of the same food that her brother and sister would have, with a few exceptions.

Breakfast:

  • 3 packets of instant oatmeal (none of those colored frankenmeal ones – just maple, cinnamon, or organic varieties)
  • 1 sealed foodsaver bag of 3 days’ worth of dehydrated apple chips (with an oxygen absorber to extend shelf life)

Lunch:

  • 1 can of Bush’s baked beans, 8 oz. pop top (This is used as a cooking vessel to heat other foods – wash and save this can after use.)
  • (toddler backpack) 3 pouches of “squeezy fruit” baby food (Plum Organics, Ella’s Kitchen, or Happy Baby – found online, Target, or Babies/Toys R Us)
  • (big kid backpack) 3 pouches of big kid squeezable applesauce
  • 1 can of chunk light tuna in water (This fish contains much less mercury than the white or albacore.
  • 2-3 foil packets of mayonnaise and relish (to make an impromptu tuna salad)
  • 1 can of Shelton’s Chili (Delicious and additive-free! Two kids can share a can.)

Snacks:

  • 3 Cascadian Farms kid size peanut butter chocolate chip granola bars
  • 1 small resealable bag of dried fruit or 3 large raisin boxes
  • Yummy Earth lollipops and/or a small bag of Surf Sweets gummies
  • 3 small lunchbox size packs of crackers such as Late July
  • 1 wheel of Laughing Cow cheese wedges (8 wedges – the kids can share these. They do not require refrigeration.)

Hydration:

  • 3 2-liters of reverse osmosis filtered water, each with a small rock of Himalayan pink salt added in order to re-mineralize the water.
  • 1 bottle of Honest Tea (save it! This is good for further water storage.)
  • 2 packets of Crystal Light Pure (sweetened with stevia and sugar, all natural flavors and colors)
  • 1 packet of Emergen-C

Note: It is not recommended that water be stored in cars. The heat that builds up in parked cars can cause the plastic to leach into the water. Gross does not even begin to describe it. If you’re concerned about not having water in your car in an emergency, consider adding empty Katadyn bottles, purification tablets (I LOVE that store, btw – campingsurvival.com), and/or a SteriPen UV purifier to your kits.

Dinner:

  • 3 Foodsaver packets (with oxygen absorbers) of Ronzoni Quick Cook macaroni style pasta with dehydrated tomato sauce powder and dehydrated peas (or other veggie)
  • 1 can of chicken (This can be divided amongst the kids and added to their pasta.)

This is where my experiment comes in. One of my pet peeves is the ridiculous abuse of MSG by the food manufacturing industry. It is darn near impossible to find processed foods that don’t contain some form of it. I try to keep this at an absolute minimum in our diet, and only in the form of occasional yeast extract way at the bottom of the ingredient list.

My experiment involved finely pureeing a can of Muir Glen split pea soup and a jar of Classico pasta sauce and attempting to dehydrate them at home. The dehydrated soup and sauce would be further pulverized into a powder in my Ninja blender. I would then make a blend of the soup and some mashed potato flakes and seal it into individual servings in Foodsaver bags with oxygen absorbers. The tomato sauce would go into individual serving packets with some dehydrated peas and Quick Serve pasta, also with oxygen absorbers.

peas - frozen! straight from the bag

pasta sauce

split pea soup

I’ll keep you posted about how my experiment turns out and will post more about the further adventures of our 72-hour backpacks as they unfold. Stay tuned! 😉

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Pirates!

Our second Family Friday theme was much more successful than the previous version!

Our pint sized pirates swabbed the deck and hoisted the sails for adventure first thing in the morning….

Breakfast…

We started the day with Cannonballs & Monkey Fruit – yum! I made the cannonballs by cutting the tops off of six banana nut muffins and “gluing” them together with peanut butter. I kept this one super simple by using Simply Organic’s Banana Bread Mix. We loved it! I added a little extra banana, cinnamon, raisins, and some chopped pecans. The “cannonballs” were surrounded by slices of “monkey fruit” and drizzled with honey. The kids, of course, found it hilarious that I called the bananas Monkey Fruit.

Lunch…

What else for lunch but pirate ship sandwiches? This idea comes from Family Fun’s Cookbook. I have an older edition of this great book, and it is definitely a go to recipe collection around here. There are some really cute ideas! To make these ships, I cut a section from the top of a sandwich roll and removed some of the bread inside. I spread the inside of the rolls with mayonnaise and our favorite Boar’s Head Honey Mustard, then filled them with a slice of tomato, butter lettuce, and Boar’s Head Ovengold Turkey. To make the sails, I used slices of Boar’s Head White American cheese that I’d had thick sliced at the deli counter. To make the sails stand up, I inserted plastic cocktail swords into them and stood them up in the sandwiches.

To round out their lunch, they also had “Pirate Punch” (papaya, pineapple, and coconut juices mixed) dried tropical fruit and Pirate’s Booty. Arrrrr!

Craft…

Our little pirates dressed up in their seaworthy garb, provided by Gramma who came to visit with us again. It was time to decorate maps to their booty. We used poster board, foam stickers, markers, scrapbooking stickers, and some brewed tea for the antique effect. My map showed them the way to a real cache of chocolate coins!

Dinner…

Our crew dined on Meatloaf Treasure Chests!

I used my Grama’s Meat Loaf recipe, pressing the mixture onto the bottom and sides of disposable foil mini loaf pans. I filled the centers of the loaves with baby carrots (the tiny microwaveable size) cut into coins, baby green peas, and white corn. I put a pat of butter on top, then covered the veggie “treasure” with more of the meatloaf mixture, mounding it up slightly to make it look like a treasure chest. It was so much fun to cut open the leaf and watch the treasure spill out!

For dessert, I served Floating Chocolate Chip Meringue Islands. Melted vanilla Haagen Dazs ice cream was the ocean, and I planted some plastic palm trees into the meringue islands. Soooo good!

Next Family Friday….Halloween! Boo!

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This week, Derrick will be visiting his Mom and Kaitie & Gracie will be home. So we will be having a Pizza & a Movie night with some baking, too!

Here is this week’s menu…

Monday:

Lunch ~ Apple Swiss Turkey Sandwiches and Smart Food white cheddar popcorn

I found this recipe in the “Good Food Kids Love” mini recipe mag from “Taste of Home”. I’m a sucker for their recipe books! They always have plenty that I find interesting. This turned out to be a delicious sandwich! All the kids ate theirs. I love finding new sandwiches – the same ones over and over again just get boring!

Dinner ~ Chicken Stuffed Shells

I saw a few stuffed shells recipes while I was going through my cookbooks doing this week’s meal planning, and I decided to make my own with ground chicken. Gracie is not a big fan of most meats, but she loves poultry. So, this one’s for her! This dinner disappeared fast! Memo to me…cut up the shells for the kids next time. They ate the stuffing and picked up the shells with their fingers!

Chicken Stuffed Shells

1 pound package of ground chicken

1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning (I like Emeril’s)

1 cup of minced carrots (I like to finely chop shredded carrots)

1 medium onion, diced small

1 celery stalk, diced small

2 cloves of garlic

salt & pepper to taste

homemade or jarred tomato sauce

12 large pasta shells

Parmesan cheese

olive oil

Cook pasta shells according to package directions. Add olive oil to preheated pan. Add carrots, onions, celery, and garlic. Sweat the veggies until they are soft, then add the ground chicken, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Cook the chicken through while mixing the ingredients together. Add about a cupful of the pasta sauce to the chicken mixture, stir to combine. Stuff the pasta shells and arrange in a dish, then cover with sauce and sprinkle with cheese.

Tuesday:

Lunch ~ fruit & cheese kabobs with cinnamon yogurt dip and pretzel sticks

This lunch could not be any easier. Wash, cut, and skewer grapes, strawberries and cheese cubes. Add some cinnamon to vanilla yogurt, and you’re good to go. Just make sure to pack enough skewers to fill ’em up.

Dinner ~ beef, bean, and avocado tacos

Any variation on a taco theme is a huge hit at our house! Here’s our version of tacos. I like the Garden of Eatin’ taco shells – make sure to heat them in the oven a bit before you stuff them. I like to brown the ground beef with a packet of taco seasoning, then mix in a can of refried beans (Amy’s are my favorite). I stuff the shellswith the beef & bean mixture, two slices of avocado, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, chopped black olives, finely chopped green onions, and sour cream. Everyone’s favorite salsa is served on the side. These get wolfed down faster than I can take my first bite!

Wednesday:

Lunch ~ Crunchy Vegetable Spread with a fruit cup

This recipe is also from “Taste of Home”. I modified it, using green onions and a few different pepper colors. I also added a teaspoonful of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. This was accompanied by Publix Greenwise’s new wheat crackers – they are really yummy like Wheat Thins, but without  the hydrogenated oils – a major plus in my book!

Dinner ~ Honey Glazed Chicken & Carrots

Yum! This recipe is from Pillsbury’s “Hamburger & Chicken” mini recipe mag. I tried to find it online for you, but can’t. So, here is my modified version of the recipe:

Honey Glazed Chicken & Carrots

DSC_0015

Wide egg noodles

olive oil

8 chicken thighs

3 – 4 slices of uncured bacon

1 medium onion

1 package baby carrots

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup red wine vinegar (I used a nice Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar)

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

DSC_0016Cook an appropriate amount of the egg noodles for the number of people you are serving. Turn the oven on broil. Place the chicken thighs, skin side up, on a broiler-safe baking sheet. Oil, salt and pepper the chicken. Broil the chicken until the skin is crispy and the internal temperature reaches 175°.

While that is cooking, preheat a large pan over medium heat, then add the bacon and onions. Once the bacon starts to render, add the carrots. Cook for 10 minutes, then add the honey, vinegar and thyme. Stir frequently until the sauce thickens, then add the cooked chicken, skin side down. Lift the pan and shimmy the chicken around in the sauce to get it good and covered. Place the egg noodles in a serving dish, then place the chicken on top, skin side up. Pour the carrot mixture over the top of the chicken.

Try not to eat it all on the way to the table!

Thursday:

Lunch ~ Good ole’ pb&j with a cheese stick and carrots & dip

Dinner ~ Rock Stars with Confetti and Bow Ties

Family Fun’s Family Cookbook has a recipe for pasta with veggie cut outs. I like the idea, so I just changed it up a bit.227 Bell peppers tend to be very heavy on the pesticide, so if you can’t find organic peppers, make sure you wash them thoroughly with veggie wash!I like the way this recipe turned out, so it is very likely to make a reappearance on a future Family Friday Rock Star theme.

Before dinner, we baked a batch of Immaculate Baking Company’s vanilla sugar cookies. I love that they are dairy free and have nothing at all icky in them! I mixed up a quick glaze of powdered sugar and plain Almond Breeze and sprinkled some Let’s Do Organic sprinkles on the top.

Rock Stars with Confetti & Bow Ties225

1 package of boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

1 zucchini

1 large yellow squash

1 medium to large carrot (or a big handful of shredded carrots)229

1 box of bow tie pasta

1 tablespoon of Italian Seasoning

olive oil

Cook the bow tie pasta according to package directions. Using a star shaped mini cookie cutter, cut the veggies into star shapes. No need to throw away the excess – just dice it into “confetti”! Preheat a large pan over medium heat, then add about a tablespoon or so of the oil and chicken. Cook the chicken, then remove it to a plate. Add a bit more oil if necessary, then add the veggie stars and confetti. Cook until desired doneness, then add the chicken back into the pan with the Italian seasoning and cooked pasta. Stir well to combine.  Rock on!

230After dinner, we enjoyed the cookies we made with some ice cream!

Well, mine was made with Turtle Mountain’s Purely Decadent coconut milk ice cream. It’s delicious!!!

Baby Caroline is dairy sensitive, and I don’t do soy, so these products are perfect for me. Their coconut milk yogurt is awesome, too!

I hope you enjoyed this week’s goodies… See you next week! :o)

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I got the idea for this extremely fun tradition from a book called Friday Night Bites: Kick Off the Weekend with Recipes and Crafts for the Whole Family, by Karen Berman. I can’t say I’m excited by the recipes in this book (I may end up using one or two), but I love the format and the ideas! I read through it and decided to modify it to suit my family and what I wanted to get out of this new tradition, namely family time that creates memories for the kids.

For our first Family Friday, I chose the Under the Sea theme because I wanted to see how everything worked out with a relatively simple concept to plan. Besides, I had pretty much everything I might need on hand – perfect in case of potential hiccups in the idea.

I used an old, blue bed sheet for our tablecloth. On the table, I placed a vase with pretty, blue, wavelike swirls and gave one of our betta fish a new home inside. On either side of that, I put the two dolphin snow globes that Kaitie & Gracie’s Nanny & Granddaddy gave them. Scattered on the table were the seashells that I found on my scuba adventures (pre-kid years). On the walls, I hung some lithographs from when I’d pre-purchased “Finding Nemo” at the Disney Store years ago. I even hung balloon “bubbles” from the chandelier!

We were even lucky enough to have my parents over for dinner! Here’s how the day went down…

Menu:

Breakfast ~ seaweed omelets with apple boatsuts turtle breakfast

uts breakfastTo make the seaweed omelets, saute about 2 cups (or more, depending on how many people will be eating) of chopped baby spinach in butter, then add 1 1/2 beaten eggs per person. Cook gently on medium low heat until the eggs are almost done, then add 1 slice of muenster cheese per person.

The apple boats are just slices made with and apple corer/slicer. I serve the kids breakfast most days with Carnation Instant Breakfast (either chocolate or vanilla) mixed with our local raw milk.

Lunch ~ peanut butter and jellyfish puzzle sandwiches with goldfish crackers

Simple, but super fun! I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, then pressed a fish shaped cookie cutter into the middle of each sandwich. Then, I cut through the middle of all four sides to make it look like puzzle pieces.

Goldfish crackers (a mix of pretzel and original flavors – two of the only ones that don’t have artificial colors or MSG!) are a natural match!

Dinner ~ Publix Apron Meals Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce and Angel Hair Fresca with puff pastry sea stars

uts pbandj fishI love this tilapia recipe! It is so easy to make, and the ingredients are delicious. Here are my substitutions… I used Emeril’s Fish Rub instead of the seasoned salt called for in the recipe, substituted medium sized pasta shells for the angel hair, and used olive oil in place of the butter this time because Caroline’s tiny tummy is very anti-dairy.

The puff pastry sea stars idea came from the Friday Night Bites book. I used a star shaped cookie cutter to make the star shapes, re-rolling the dough until it was used up. Then, I brushed the tops of the stars with olive oil and sprinkled them with sea salt. The stars baked in a 350° oven until they were golden brown and puffy good!

Dessert ~ shipwrecked fruit salad in canteloupe boats

So easy! I washed the outside of the canteloupe and cut it into eight crescent shaped slices. I used the small side ofa melon baller to scoop out balls from the middles of the slices, creating “boats”. I mixed the melon balls with diced pineapple and mandarin oranges. Each boat went into a bowl, surrounded by the mixed fruit. In each boat, I placed a scoop of strawberry sorbet, then sprinkled the tops of each with shredded coconut.uts dinner 2

Craft ~

I had originally planned a craft to be done after dinner, but we completely ran out of time after dinner. I had a hunch things would not go exactly as planned! The craft was going to be an octopus made from cut-outs of their traced hands on construction paper, pasted on a blue background and decorated. I’m sure I’ll be able to re-use that idea later!

In the future, I hope to be able to incorporate some learning activities into the theme, such as learning about sea animals on National Geographic Kids online. All in all, though, I think it was a great start!

Next up…Pirates!!! Arrrrrrrr!!!!!

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So, you may be asking…why meal plans? Well, with six people to feed, three kids in school and a chemical-free lifestyle, I really need to keep track of our food bill! Creating a meal plan for the week helps me to keep track of what we have in the house, what I need to restock, and what elements of the meals I can reuse. And, of course, the reason for posting them here is in hopes that you might get some ideas to help your family.

You can expect to find links to recipes I’ve found online, information about & reviews of recipes from cookbooks, well-rounded lunchbox ideas (don’t we all need those???), food product reviews, and photos. The reason why I offer brand names and product reviews is because I know there are lots of moms out there who don’t have time to read labels and try to find better ways to get healthier food for their families. I’m hoping these reviews will be helpful!!!

You may also be asking why the week begins on Monday and ends on Thursday. On the weekends, we use up the leftovers from the week and sometimes go out to eat. You’ll find Friday’s meal plan (and other fun stuff!) under the Family Friday Tradition category.

So, on to the plan! Any text you see in purple is an original recipe. I hope you like them! They can also be found under the Recipes category.

Monday:

Lunch ~ Boar’s Head Everroast chicken & Muenster cheese sandwiches, hot house cucumber sticks with ranch dip, and a Dole Fruit Bowl in Gel.

Yum! I love this chicken. I usually only get a half pound of it because any more ends up getting wasted (it’s exactly the right amount for three kid sandwiches and two grown-up versions). So, the kids will see some form of chicken or turkey sandwich in their lunchbox every Monday. Sandwich bread is also a very tricky item to find, health-wise. Granted, packaged bread isn’t healthy in the first place, but choosing a good one is important to me. My current favorite is Arnold’s Soft Honey Wheat. It doesn’t have corn syrup, the flour is unbleached, there is no soy flour (some soybean oil and soy lecithin), and minimal dough conditioners/preservatives.

Hot house (English) cucumbers don’t have seeds, and their skin is thin – much yummier than the other kinds, especially dipped in ranch. The Dole Fruit Bowls in Gel can be tricky. Most of them have artificial colors, but the black cherry one is colored with cochineal extract (It is a natural color, but don’t look it up unless you really want to know what it is!). They do have some artificial flavor added, but in amounts this small, I sometimes let that slide. This was our first time trying these fruit bowls, and they were a big hit with the kids!

Dinner ~ Kickin’ Chicken Thighs & Drums, Alexia ruffle french fries, Bush’s maple baked beans

Kickin’ Chicken kicks some serious chicken booty! Man, this stuff is good! I got this recipe from Kid Favorites Made Healthy from Better Homes and Gardens. It is a simple baked chicken with a customized BBQ sauce that includes ketchup, orange juice, and hot sauce (we like Frank’s). I modified the recipe (I always do that!) and used chicken thighs and drumsticks with skin on. The skin keeps the meat moist and juicy – you don’t have to eat it, but it sure is good! I like to rub the chicken with a little oil and salt & pepper them, put them under the broiler until the skin is nice and crispy, then switch the oven over to 375° to finish the cooking. I use a digital probe thermometer (one of my favorite kitchen tools!) while it cooks to make sure it hits 180°.

I love Alexia’s convenient potato sides, and Bush’s beans are a great standby side dish with lots of protein (and the kids like ’em!).

Tuesday:

Lunch ~ salad with raisins and cucumbers, ranch dressing, cheese stick, and Robert’s Veggie Booty

Salad with raisins? Heck, yes! A little burst of chewy sweetness is delicious in a quick, green salad. This salad gives me another opportunity to make use of the cucumber I got for Monday’s lunch. I’ve found that buying heads of romaine can sometimes lead to waste, so I try to plan on exactly when we’ll have salad and get a bag mix of something other than iceberg (Dr. Jim Sears once told me his family calls iceberg “see through lettuce” because it has no nutritional value! Funny, and so true!).

Cheese sticks are great for calcium and protein, and we LOVE Veggie Booty! I’ll do anything to sneak in extra veggies when I can. Even our pickiest of picky eaters, Derrick, will eat these. Kaitie & Gracie would eat them like candy when they were toddlers. Good stuff.

Dinner ~

Chicken and veggie soup with Rice

A meal in a bowl – gotta love homemade soup! This is my recipe. It requires two days, so make sure you plan to make your stock on the day before you want to serve the soup. This is a great way to use veggies that are slightly past their prime and the little garlic cloves in the middle of the head. No need to be fancy! Throw in some baby carrots! Don’t peel the onion – the skin gives the stock nice color! Don’t peel the garlic, either, just use up that head by cutting it in half to expose the cloves down the middle. Making the stock is super easy, but time consuming. Putting the soup together is ridiculously simple, though! This makes enough stock to use for a dinner and frozen supply for recipes later.

Enjoy!

Chicken Stock:

1 large fryer chicken (4 – 5 pounds)

2 carrots

1 medium onion

a few cloves of garlic

2 celery stalks

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon of peppercorns

1 Tablespoon sea salt

1 Tablespoon cooking oil

Pre-heat a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot  on medium heat (I use my big honkin’ Le Creuset enameled cast iron pot that I love.). Add the vegetable oil, carrots, celery, onion,garlic, bay leaf, and the contents of the gizzard packet from inside the chicken. Yes, really. Allow the veggies to soften slightly and release their yummy aromatics. Stir to prevent burning. Add the whole chicken and cover with water. Cover and simmer on medium-low for at least 2 hours.

After 2 hours, check the chicken for readiness by pulling the meat away from the bone with the fork. If it doesn’t start to pull away, it’s not done. Once the chicken is loosey goosey, remove it from the pot. Using a boning or other small knife and a pair of kitchen tongs, remove all the meat from the carcass. Return the carcass to the stock pot and simmer, covered, for another 2 hours or more. Store the  chicken in the refrigerator for adding to the soup later.

Once your home is filled with the delicious smell of chicken soup, it’s time to strain the soup and store it. Place a large mixing bowl (preferably one with a pouring spout) in your sink. Inside the bowl, place a strainer with small holes (the metal wire mesh ones work best) inside the mixing bowl. Carefully pour the stock into the bowl until it’s full. Remove the strainer and pour the strained stock into lidded food storage containers. Repeat with the rest of the stock still in the pot. Discard carcass and veggies. Don’t worry about the fat on top. When the stock cools in the fridge, it will gelatinize, and you can easily remove it if it bothers you.

To assemble the chicken soup with rice, reheat an appropriate amount of stock for the number of people you will be serving. Once it is warmed, taste it to see how much salt you need to add to bring out the flavor. Cut the cooked chicken into bite size pieces and add it to the stock, along with your favorite soup veggies. I like to use frozen organic corn and frozen peas & carrots blend. Add cooked rice to complete the soup. A sprinkling of fresh minced flat-leaf (Italian) parsley is a nice touch just before serving.


Wednesday:

Lunch ~ Peanut butter and apple sandwich on Banana Bread, baby carrots with ranch dip, and Newman’s organic pretzel sticks

This sammy is a nice change from the routine pb&j. I use my mandolin (V slicer) to slice the apples after I core them. Lemonade is a favorite beverage around here, so I usually have some on hand. I pour a little into a bowl and dip the sliced apples in it right after slicing so they don’t brown. Smucker’s organic (the best peanut butter ever) crunchy peanut butter adds a nice texture, but if your kids are anti-nut, go with their creamy version. I made the banana bread with the Simply Organic Gluten Free Banana Bread Mix. The kids loved it, ooh-ing and aah-ing over the smell of cinnamon that filled the house while it was baking! I found the bread to be a bit sticky, so I toasted it before I built the sandwich.

The baby carrots I’m using for this lunch were also used for the chicken stock the day before. The kids like the Newman’s pretzel sticks, but I think they are too crunchy. I like the Snyder’s of Hanover organic pretzels best. Yum! Anyway… on to….

Dinner ~ Grama’s Meat Loaf, the Second Generation with green beans and mashed potatoes

This is my variation on my Grama’s meat loaf recipe. It’s only slightly different from hers, but I still remember making it with her, especially the part where we dig our hands in to mix it! There are no exact measurements to this recipe, as with all of my Grama’s recipes, so I’m going to give you my estimate of what they are.

I prefer fresh green beans to frozen, so I always grab a bag of them at the store. My favorite potatoes to use for mashers is the Yukon Gold. They are so buttery and yummy!

Gramma’s Meat Loaf, the Second Generation

1 pound ground beef (I use Publix Market ground beef – it is the fresh ground trim from all the steaks they cut that day!)

1 pound ground pork

about a cup of Italian style bread crumbs

about a half of a cup of ketchup (or more, if you like)

about a quarter of a cup of whole milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

about a half of a tablespoon of your favorite seasoning blend (Grama used Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, I like Emeril’s Essence)

half of a bag of frozen peas and carrots blend, defrosted

Place all ingredients in a big bowl, take off your jewelry, and dig in! Once the ingredients are all combined, pack the mixture into a large loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Then tip the loaf out onto a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Pat the loaf back into its brick shape wherever necessary, then bake in a 375° oven for 10 minutes to allow the top to brown. Insert a probe thermometer (or use an instant read) and cook at 350° until done. Then mix up the glaze!

Meat Loaf Glaze

ketchup

brown sugar

Worcestershire sauce

All of these ingredients are to taste. I use about a half a cup of ketchup, a quarter of a cup of Worcestershire, and about a quarter of a cup of brown sugar. Mix thoroughly in a bowl and brush over the meat loaf while it is baking. Serve the rest drizzled over slices of meat loaf. Yum!


Thursday:

Lunch ~ Walmostdorf Chicken Salad, cucumbers with ranch, EnviroKids rice crisp bar

I love this chicken salad! It’s so yummy, and a great way to use up leftover chicken – in this case, the meat from the chicken used to make the stock earlier in the week. It is best to make this the night before so that the flavors can make friends, but it will still taste good by lunchtime if you forget.

The EnviroKids bars are just like rice crispy treats, but they don’t have corn syrup or preservatives and are made with brown rice. The kids love them – so do I! Also, here’s another opportunity to make sure the whole cucumber gets used up. They are big!

Walmostdorf Chicken Salad

meat from one whole chicken

2 small to medium apples (we like gala or fuji)

one celery stalk

a large handful of red or white grapes (about a cup or so)

1/2 cup mayonnaise (or more if you like it really creamy)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

salt and black pepper to taste

Dice the chicken into small bite-size chunks. Core and dice the apple. Halve all the grapes. Dice the celery. Add all ingredients to a bowl, mix thoroughly, cover, and refrigerate. Enjoy! Yum!

Dinner ~ Bon Temps Chicken Wings with mixed veggies (corn, peas, carrots, and sugar snap peas – our favorite blend)

Publix makes these phenomenal chicken wings that they call Mardi Gras Chicken Wings. Honestly, these are some of the only chicken wings I like. I love them, but restaurants seem to overcook them like 90% of the time. Blech! The problems with the Publix wings are that they are crazy expensive and I don’t know what kinds of additives are in their seasoning blend (like MSG, for example). So, since Adam is a wing fanatic, I decided to try to duplicate the seasoning they use. This is pretty darn close! I have mixed up a big portion of the seasoning blend to keep on hand in a food storage container in the spice cabinet – just keep the ratio the same when you measure.

Bon Temps Chicken Wings

“family size” package of chicken wings (or two regular size packages)

1 tablespoon light olive oil

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon crushed rosemary (whole rosemary is fine, but run your knife through it to make the pieces small)

1 tablespoon oregano

1 tablespoon thyme

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more, if you like it hotter)

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat broiler. Remove the wing tips from the chicken wings. Open the wings into a “v” shape, then cut the skin down the middle to open up the wing to the joint.  Place all ingredients into a large food storage container with a lid or a large zip top bag. Shake thoroughly to coat the wings evenly with the oil and seasonings. Open the wings and place them skin side up on a large baking sheet. Broil them until the skin is medium brown and crispy. Check the temperature of the wings with a probe thermometer and check to see if the juices are running clear. If they have not yet reached 180°, switch the over over to bake them at 350° until the temperature of the wings reaches at least 175° (carryover cooking will take care of the rest).

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