Cheddar Garlic Biscuits…

Ok, we all know which restaurant serves the best Cheddar Garlic Biscuits (rhymes with Bed Fobster). This is a very similar biscuit that is so easy and delicious but very decadent since it is dipped in butter. You won’t need to eat more than one but man, that one will be out of this world.

Cheddar Garlic Biscuits

1/2 cup butter
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon minced parsley
1 & 1/2 cup Bisquick
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400.  Melt butter in microwave, add garlic.  Stir in parsley, let heat 30 seconds and set aside.

Combine the Bisquick, cheese, and milk.  Mix and pinch off golf ball size portions, roll in palms and flatten slightly.  Dip each ball in butter mixture from above and place on baking sheet 1 inch apart.  Bake 10 minutes.  Take out of oven, brush with remaining mixture, bake an additional 4-5 minutes.  Serves 1 dozen.

Tiffany’s Notes: I make my biscuits about twice this size so I only get 6 per batch but they are much softer after they bake.

Menu Plan Monday 8/27/2012

Today is Monday and the beginning of a new week that is filled to over flowing with activities including football, volleyball, cub scouts, curriculum night and plenty of homework. And let’s not forget an early release day thrown in for good measure. Seriously? And early release day? The kids have been in school for 10 days and we need an early release day? I would rather they just have the entire day off and then atleast we can sleep late!

Dinner Menu Plan

Monday: Frozen Pizza and watermelon for the kids and John and I are on are own (we have football and volleyball tonight so I am gone from 5-8:30)

Tuesday: Chicken Quesadillas, Rice, Fresh Greenbeans (the last from the garden)

Wednesday: Chicken Pot Pie Casserole (using leftover vegs, I will review later this week)

Thursday: Cordon Bleu Stuffed Chicken Breasts, Buttered New Potatoes, Broccoli

Friday: Salmon Patties, Mac & Cheese, Baked Beans

Saturday: Oven Baked Pork Roast, Honey Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Grilled Zuchinni

Take-a-Hike Granola Bars…

In my search to find snacks for the kids to take to school, I came across this recipe on the King Arthur Flour website and thought it looked interesting. I have been wanting to experiment in the granola arena for a while now and when I took a look at the list of ingredients, I thought that I might have a winner. My first thought was that I wanted something that would taste good, be moderately healthy (minus the M&Ms) and include items that I already have in my pantry, since I am in the end a “frugal girl”. I had a rather large bag of Trail Mix that someone had given to me from Costco that everyone in the family was ignoring so that became my add-ins for these granola bars. I wanted them to be dairy free so I opted for canola oil instead of butter. And since the Trail Mix had candy in it, I cut back on the brown sugar to 2/3 cup (doesn’t over a cup of brown sugar seem like a lot?). These were very good and everyone in the family loved them. They were a little too sweet so next time I think I will cut down the sugar even more. And don’t be like me and cut them too quickly – wait until they cool for 10 minutes before cutting them and they will cut prettier. Enjoy!

Here is the recipe for the final product:

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup oat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
2 to 3 cups (10 to 15 ounces) dried fruits and nuts*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup melted butter or vegetable oil
1/3 cup peanut butter, optional
1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or corn syrup
1 tablespoon water

*I used 2 cups of Trail Mix that had almonds, cashews, walnuts and raisins. I also added 1/4 cup of dried cranberries since I had them and I like them and we can all use a little more cranberries in our diets. I did put in the peanut butter, maple syrup and used whole grain flour instead of oat.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan.

Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, syrup or honey, peanut butter, and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, shaking the pan to evenly cover the bottom.

Bake the bars for 25 to 30 minutes, until they’re just starting to brown and are bubbly around the edges. Remove from the oven, and cool for 10 minutes. Use a knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars while they’re still warm in the pan. Let cool completely before removing from the pan. Yield: about one dozen 2″ x 4 1/2″ bars.

Why I Run…

Before the 2012 Peachtree Road Race

I set out for a run this morning and I began to think about the reasons why I run. It is not an easy thing to do, even after doing it for 3 years. I still look down the road and think to myself that I really wish I were back in bed. But I know that there is a reward for what I do and I run because…

I like the way it makes me feel afterward. I feel strong when I am done with a run. I feel as though I could leap over buildings or accomplish the impossible. I like the adrenaline rush it gives me but also I like feeling as though I accomplished something that it outside my comfort zone.

I like the way it makes me look. Yes, I am vain enough to admit that I enjoy the benefits that running gives my appearance. Before I started running 3 years ago, I weighed 15 lbs more than I do now. It is hard for me to imagine that since I wasn’t exactly fat then but I look better in my clothes now. Not as many lumps and bumps as I had back then.

I like what it does for my health. I know that there is more benefit to my body than just the appearance. Running strengthens my heart and my joints. My dad died of a heart attack at the age of 49 and he had arthritis in his knees. The ortho tells me that my knees are pre-arthritic but with regular moderate exercise, I can combat that. I can strengthen my body and keep my heart healthy and strong and hopefully not have the same healthy problems that my dad had.

I like the fact that I can do something that not everyone does. I feel better about myself knowing before I even start my run that I am about to do something that other people will not or cannot do. I am not just laying in bed or eating a leisurely breakfast, I made the choice to go out and DO something. And when I run a 5k or a 10k, I like knowing that not everyone can do that.

I run because I want to be a good steward of what God has given me. God gave me this body and he only gave me one of them. He expects me to take care of it and one of the ways I can do that is to run. I like knowing that He made my muscles, tendons, feet, and heart to all work together to do something. He made me for motion, not to just sit and rot. I want to treat my body well and take care of what He gave me.

I like that John and I have something we can do together. We have a hobby that we can share that no one else does with us. It is not a family hobby or a group hobby, it is just ours. As we get to the Big Creek Greenway at 7am on a weekday and there are only 3 cars in the parking lot, we are alone together. It is us paired up together doing something that we both enjoy and that not everyone is doing. I like that time with him and that connection that we have doing it together. Even though we don’t talk, it feels good having him beside me.

These are just some of the reasons why I run. I have had times when I have not been able to run because of an injury or illness. There have also been times when I have run in the rain and the cold. But if I couldn’t run anymore, I know that I would miss it. It is just something that I love do to, even when I have to get up early to do it.

After the 2012 Peachtree Road Race

Peanut Butter Filled Cupcakes…

These cupcakes are the bomb! One of the best parts is that they appear completely innocent from the outside – just a simple chocolate cupcake with powdered sugar sprinkled on top. But then you bite into it and inside is a little magical surprise – peanut butter fluffiness! Brittany and I made these Friday and they were so fun to make together. She did most of the hard work, including filling the cavities inside the cupcakes with the peanut butter goodness. And speaking of cavities, I recommend you eat these in moderation – they defineatly appeal to your sweet tooth.

The picture above shows you how the cupcake looks from the inside and upside down before the plug was put in. Once you put the plug back in, you can even tell they were filled.

These pictures are what happens when you 10 year old assistant gets her baking stencils out and begins to decorate with lots of powdered sugar.

 

 

 

Note: The filling made a huge amount in relation to what we needed to fill the cupcakes (atleast twice). You can freeze it for later use or cup the filling recipe in half.

Peanut Butter Filled Cupcakes

Ingredients
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (leveled)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used canola)
6 tablespoons buter, room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups marshmallow topping
Confectioners sugar for dusting
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat 12 standard muffin cups with baking cooking spray or grease and flour. In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa, flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Using a mixer, beat in eggs, buttermilk, oil, and 3/4 cup water on medium until smooth, about 3 minutes.

2) Divide batter among cups and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, approx 18-20 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes and let cool completely on rack.

3) In a large bowl, using mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and peanut butter on high until fluffy, 3 minutes; fold in marshmallow topping. Transfer to a zip-top bag and cut off one corner to make a 1/2-inch opening.

4) With a melon baller or sharp knife, scoop out center of each cupcake base and set aside (these pieces will plug cupcakes after filling). Hollow out each cupcake a bit more, discarding crumbs. Fill cavities with peanut butter mixture and replace plugs. Refrigerate in an airtight container, up to 1 week. To serve, dust with confectioners’ sugar.

 

 

Drinking Water…

I am the worst about drinking water. I admit that I do not like the taste of it and I am a sweet tea addict so I have just been ignoring the fact that I should drink more water. Or any water. In the past I have tried to change my evil ways but it never lasts more than a day or two. My first mistake was thinking that I had to get atleast 64oz of water a day. Now, I have a small frame so for me to chug 8 glasses of anything in a day isn’t going to be realistic. Each time I tried, I ended up feeling sick to my stomach from all that liquid. I also have a hard time remembering to drink. It is not uncommon for me to fix a glass of iced tea at 8am and still be drinking it at 4pm that afternoon. I get busy and I forget to drink anything at all. But I think I have a plan this time that just might work.

We had Girl Scout camp this summer and midway through the week I had a problem with heat exhaustion. One afternoon I began feeling cramps in my stomach, a headache and just general yuckiness. The temps had been hovering around 90 degress F each day and even though I had carried my water bottle everywhere I went, I had probably only consumed about 8 oz of water a day. And this was in spite of me fussing at twenty 10 year old girls to drink drink drink their own water. I headed off to the nurse who confirmed that I had some heat exhaustion and needed more water. It scared me enough to move me to action. I began consciously refilling my water bottle each time it got close to half way empty. It also helped for me to add lots of ice to the water.

Since being home, I have tried to maintain my habit of drinking water. I still do not like the taste of it but I have begun to appreciate what it can do for my body that no other fluid can do. It helps to keep everything running smoothly and makes me feel more energetic. My new plan is to issue a rule for myself that I can only drink water until dinner time. Then at dinner time I get to have a glass of sweet tea or soda, if that is what I want. This rule of thumb has kept me drinking water during the day but still being able to enjoy my sweet tea at some point.

Challenge yourself to drink more water, even if you just get in one extra glass a day. It helps your body do all that it needs to do during the day and just makes you feel better.

 

Homemade Pop Tarts…

My kids LOVE pop tarts. They would eat them for breakfast all the time if I would let them. Normally I save them for special occasions like camping or traveling to visit relatives. When I saw a recipe online for homemade Pop Tarts, I knew I had to try them. Especially when I saw that she filled them with Nutella, my BFF of the chocolate world. The recipe was pretty straightforward to follow but I did have some trouble with my dough getting warm and difficult to work with. I think next time I will chill my dough first and them roll it out, it will give me more time to work with it. I filled ours with cinnamon/brown sugar mix and nutella but next time I might try my homemade strawberry jam.

I also used my Dough Magic mat which was a savior for this project. Nothing sticks to this miracle mat. I got this for my birthday a few months ago and I have used it several times. It is not a necessary, especially if you have granite countertops which are great for rolling out dough, but it sure does make it easier and use will use less flour. And since it has measurements on it, it makes it a lot easier for getting your dough to the right size when you are baking.

Here is the recipe from SmittenKitchen (which has a great breakdown if you need to see it and some extra tips)

Homemade Pop Tarts
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Pastry
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pats
1 large egg
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) milk

1 additional large egg (to brush on pastry)

Cinnamon Filling (enough for 9 tarts)
1/2 cup (3 3/4 ounces) brown sugar
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, to taste
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 large egg, to brush on pastry before filling
Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour.

Jam Filling
3/4 cup (8 ounces) jam
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water
Mix the jam with the cornstarch/water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool.

Alternate fillings: 9 tablespoons chocolate chips, 9 tablespoons Nutella or other chocolate-hazelnut paste or 9 tablespoons of a delight of your choice, such as salted caramel or a nut paste

Make the dough: Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the butter with your fingers, pastry blender or food processor until pea-sized lumps of butter are still visible, and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it. If you’ve used a food processor, transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Whisk the first egg and milk together and stir them into the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive, kneading briefly on a well-floured counter if necessary.

Divide the dough in half (approximately 8 1/4 ounces each), shape each half into a smooth rectangle, about 3×5 inches. You can roll this out immediately (see Warm Kitchen note below) or wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Assemble the tarts: If the dough has been chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to soften and become workable, about 15 to 30 minutes. Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick, large enough that you can trim it to an even 9″ x 12″. [You can use a 9″ x 13″ pan, laid on top, as guidance.] Repeat with the second piece of dough. Set trimmings aside. Cut each piece of dough into thirds – you’ll form nine 3″ x 4″ rectangles.

Beat the additional egg and brush it over the entire surface of the first dough. This will be the “inside” of the tart; the egg is to help glue the lid on. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each rectangle, keeping a bare 1/2-inch perimeter around it. Place a second rectangle of dough atop the first, using your fingertips to press firmly around the pocket of filling, sealing the dough well on all sides. Press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the rectangle. Repeat with remaining tarts.

Gently place the tarts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart multiple times with a fork; you want to make sure steam can escape, or the tarts will become billowy pillows rather than flat toaster pastries. Refrigerate the tarts (they don’t need to be covered) for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F. Remove the tarts form the fridge, and bake them for 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Cool in pan on rack.

 

 

Healthy School Snacks…

Josh in 3rd and Brittany in 5th

Today dawned the third day of the school year and providing the kids with healthy snacks are on my radar. I have never been a mom to give my kids cookies, cake or other desserts for snack in the classroom. Our typical snacks over the years have involved a cracker of some kind – Cheezit, Saltine, Ritz or Goldfish. While these are not completely unhealthy snacks, I think we can do better. Here are some of my ideas for providing the kids with a better snack this school year.

Apples and Peanut Butter: If I buy the precut apples that do not turn brown and throw in some peanut butter, the kids will eat them at school. I have tried to cut up my own apples and dip them in lemon juice and/or Sprite but it always seems to affect the taste of the apples and then the kids won’t eat them. This is not exactly a frugal option but there is a greater value in knowing the kids got an additional fruit in them that day.

Cheese and Crackers: While crackers are still on our list for the school year, I want to pair some kind of protein with it to provide more nutrition. My kids love peanut butter but do not like it on crackers. They will eat cheese on crackers so that will be my solution to the protein problem. I can also see throwing in some kind of meat with it on occasion – whether it is ham, turkey, chicken or  pepperoni.

Yogurt and Granola Bar: The yogurt provides protein, especially if I can find a greek yogurt that the kids enjoy. I just want to watch the amount of sugar in some yogurts. I bought some greek yogurt last week and I didn’t pay attention to the sugar content. It wasn’t until I was recycling the empty container that I realized it had 20g of sugar in it – more than a candy bar!! I have been buying the Simply Gogurt tubes lately and the kids like them but I would like to find something with more protein in it. I have also been giving them a granola bar to go with it although I have a new recipe for a homemade granola bar that I want to try. I will update the blog with the recipe and review after I get them made. I love the fact that you can throw in all kinds of dried fruit and nuts to up the nutritional value.

Veggies and Ranch: This is more for my little guy than my daughter. Both will eat carrots but neither LOVE them. Josh will normally gobble them up if there is ranch dressing to dip them in but Brittany has never been a dipper so she eats them when she doesn’t have any choice. I am going to try to also throw in some broccoli to try to get them to eat more veggies.

Muffins: I like the versatility of muffins. I can add just about anything I want to them and the kids will eat them. Last week I baked banana muffins and blueberry muffins and the kids took them to school for snack. But had I just packed a banana or blueberries, they would have not wanted to eat them. I also like that I can hide extra servings of veggies in muffins and they don’t even realize they are getting them. To make muffins healthier, I also try to replace at least part of the oil with applesauce. So far, no complaints.

The good thing about providing healthier snacks at school is that they are a captive audience. If they do not have any choice but their snack to eat, suddenly the healthy snack mom provided starts to look better than being hungry.  What do your kids eat for a healthy snack?

 

Dinner on the go…

With football practice in full swing and volleyball lessons on the horizons, we will be eating dinner on the go several times over the next few weeks. I am not a big fan of fast food and since I have taught the kids to not like it, we don’t have many options there anyway. So, I have been trying to brain storm ideas for things that we can take with us to eat on the field that will not require heating or a lot of prep work once we get there. Here is what I have:

Chicken Tacos

I prepare the chicken breasts in the crockpot with a little salsa to give it some flavor without heat and then shred it. Fill hard taco shells with chicken and cheese and pack away in plastic containers. I pack lettuce and tomatoes separately and we either eat them as a salad or put them on our tacos at the field. I also include watermelon packed seperately to get in some extra vitamins!

Sloppy Joes

Prepare the meat mixture ahead of time and place it in a thermos to keep it warm until you get the field. Bring along buns, chips and fruit and you have a meal to go!

Grilled Chicken Paninis

Using chicken I grilled the night before, I put chicken on a french baguette with spinach, cheese, bacon, and tomato. It can be eaten just as a grilled chicken sandwich but it always tastes better to throw it onto the grill for a few minutes with a cast iron pan on top of it. You can flip it half way through and you will have a grilled chicken panini. Wrap them in aluminum foil to keep them warm and include carrot sticks and a fruit to eat with it.

Homemade Pizza

I make my own dough and then add the toppings that we like the most – spinach, mushrooms, cheese and grilled chicken. Bake until the cheese melts and the dough it done. Wrap it up for the field along with a side salad – especially something greek with kalamata olive, feta and romaine lettuce. Yummy!

Quesadillas

Just like the chicken tacos above, prepare your meat the same way. Then spread some chicken and shredded cheese on a tortilla and fold it in half. For the grown ups, I often add sautéed mushrooms or spinach or even refried beans for meatless nights. Heat up some oliver oil and fry it until the cheese melts and the quesadillas is brown on both sides.  Cut into three slices using a handy dandy pizza cutter and it is ready for game time!

If you have some ideas for sideline dinners, leave me a comment letting me know what they are. Let’s see how creative I can be over the next few weeks while I try to feed my family healthy meals on the go!