I’m so excited that October is here so we can began diving into all things pumpkin! Today I am over on the Kenmore blog sharing a super easy snack for your kids created with just a few pantry staples that you can whip up together to celebrate Fall. Aren’t these the cutest? My kids loved these pumpkin hand pies with big glasses of milk for their snack this week!
*This post is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!
Gluten-free and game day parties? Oof. Not fun, friends, not fun at all! I have learned a lot about social engagements like this though and know the best defense to any social gathering is to carry around my own dishes and drinks so I never go hungry or thirsty again. You will rarely see this girl without her own food!
Game day food is delightfully rich and comforting which is why I love it so darn much. Today I wanted to create an appetizer that echoed those feelings of comfort and what could be more comforting than a pile of homemade meatballs? This meatball sub appetizer is gluten-free, but I promise you would never know it. It’s got everything I love in a meatball sub simply minus the bread.
I’ve made meatballs a lot over the years (here is one of our favorite dinner dishes that we created together using my standard meatball recipe), but this was my first time trying to create a meatball without the addition of breadcrumbs or panko. With a blend of turkey sausage and ground turkey, I then mixed in fresh parsley, parmesan cheese, a little tomato sauce, and two eggs to bind it all together. I have a cookie dough scoop that I used to make sure all the meatballs were roughly the same size (and so they would fit on my toothpick).
These meatballs are a little more delicate without the breadcrumb binder so I baked them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet so that they would lift easily and not fall apart. Not only does this help the meatball hold its shape, but it also helps cut down your kitchen clean-up time. I would call that a game day win!
Canned crushed tomatoes, garlic, salt, and a dash of sugar yield a vibrant sauce to nestle this appetizer in. I have tried a million different brands of canned crushed tomatoes over the years and I swear by the Great Value brand ones at Walmart. I don’t know why, but it always yields the best pizza sauce for me! I try not to use anything else.
What’s Your Favorite Game Time Recipe?
Are you feeling inspired? Do you have an incredible dish that everyone looks forward to on game days? Walmart happens to be running a GameTime Recipe contest and would love for you to post a photo of your favorite game time recipe on Instagram or Twitter using #WalmartMVPContest. By doing this, you will be entered to win a trip to LA to go to the YouTube studios to have a pre-Superbowl party and create content with some big YouTube stars. How cool is that? Read here for all the official rules! Need some inspiration? Check out all of the great GameTime Recipes that have been posted!
In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy this gluten-free game time creation I have created for you!
This is a post from our diy/craft contributor, MJ.
For the first time ever, I’m packing lunches for three kids – which means three drinks, three sandwiches, three treats, and three sets of complaints! Like any parent, I strive to pack healthy and tasty meals that the kids can enjoy in the middle of their days, but oftentimes my best attempts fall short of their hopeful stomachs.
So now that our trial and error efforts have failed, and I’ve talked it over with my children, we’re proud to recommend these three ideas that have helped turn our lunchtime fails into lunches that leave only the crumbs behind.
1. Ask your children what they want and give them the tools to make good decisions.
Before we head upstairs for bedtime, I ask each child what they’d like for lunch. Sometimes we have what they want, sometimes they ask for food they shouldn’t have, and sometimes they have NO ideas. To avoid the headache, I created this Lunchbox Helper!
Food choices are separated (roughly) by food groups, and my children are able to make smart choices for themselves (eg: see that fruits and vegetables should be a part of every meal!). It’s also come in very handy for grocery prep. My children can add their own ideas to the sheet and mark off what they’d like to pack for lunches and snacks, and we can know in advance what we need to have in our pantry!
2. Organize ingredients in a place they can pack for themselves!
Lunchbox Helper lets your children see and select what they want to eat, but let’s take it to the next level and have them pack their own meals. In our home, we have all the good stuff on the lower shelves where small hands can reach exactly what they need. In the pantry and in the refrigerator, all the fruits, veggies, grains and goodies are at child height.
I love how Amy organized her space so that an entire lunch can be gathered up from the space of a few drawers. No confusion means less work and less hassle for everyone!
3. No matter how the food tastes, send them off with your love notes.
When my oldest started in full-day Kindergarten, I sent her off with a note in her lunchbox. As she mentioned that she sometimes didn’t know what to talk about at the lunch table, I started adding a joke to those notes. Over the years, these evolved into illustrated notes with the drawing sometimes being much funnier than the corny joke!
Through a wonderful partnership with The Land of Nod, my illustrated jokes are now reaching hundreds of lunchboxes! Just a few months ago, my Lunchtime LOL Notes went on sale as a full pack of 180 jokes for every day of the school year. It’s been such a treat to hear how parents and children alike are enjoying these notes and turning any menu into a time for giggles.
I’d love to hear your ideas! What works for packing lunches in your family? Any great foods to suggest?
If I had to point a finger at where I began to realize the beauty in make-ahead meals, I would point it to my bag of chicken I cook each week for our family. This small kitchen tip truly takes just a few moments of effort to have a container full of prepared meat for sandwiches, wraps, or to be eaten on it’s own with veggies and fruit to round out the meal. The best part is that with my easy technique, you can prepare chicken in bulk for your week right from it’s frozen state.
For our family of four, I prepare three pounds of chicken each week (one frozen bag of chicken breasts from ALDI, to be exact!) and we usually plow through these three pounds by Wednesday or Thursday of the week. I never have any leftover because it is my go-to for making wraps for my husband to take for his lunch and it is the go-to for my kid’s busy activity nights. I started making a habit of taking the chicken out first when I brought in my groceries and getting it roasting as I put the rest of the food away. For five minutes of prep work, it has saved us at least a hundred bucks a month if I had went with my impulse to just run out and grab something at Panera instead of preparing a meal at home.
My secret ingredient (and this is no endorsement- just a HUGE fan!) is this Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic seasoning mix. The picture is a bit blurry, but you get the idea. I found it in the spice aisle and it makes such a fantastic dry rub on the chicken that it tastes as good as anything you would get in a restaurant. Since it is salt-free, I layer on the salt just the way I like and this helps to enhance the flavor of the chicken.
Now that you know the secret, I encourage you to try this technique as your first baby step towards the make-ahead meal life.
The first week of my make-ahead feasting went so well that we didn’t even eat out once last week despite a grueling activity schedule! I will be sharing make-ahead tutorials as I have lots of techniques to share with you about how we are accomplishing our make-ahead feasts! Today you can catch my tips for hard boiled eggs in the oven!
Since we have another crazy week (who doesn’t it?), I wanted to share what is in our fridge this week. I hope this can help inspire you for making ahead a few dishes for your week too.
Have you ever prepared hard boiled eggs in the oven? I had seen the tutorials floating around Pinterest, but we never really ate hard boiled eggs in our house. Recently though, my daughter and I have both discovered how much we love these for an afternoon snack or for a quick lunch with chopped veggies so I thought I would prepare these for our week.
It seems kind of crazy to bake your eggs, but this is a great way to make a lot of eggs for your week. This week I made two dozen since we went through a single dozen so quickly in our house. Although egg prices are high right now, this is still a really affordable snack and a great source of protein.
Here is the thing, results seem to vary on success with baking your hard boiled eggs in the oven and it’s a good idea to give these a test run in your oven with just a couple of eggs rather than wasting an entire dozen.
What Can Improve My Experience Baking Hard Boiled Eggs?
Get an Oven Thermometer- I am telling you that one of the best gadgets you can buy if you are not getting consistently good results with baking in your oven is an inexpensive oven thermometer. I have had ovens in homes that were fifty degrees off or more and I could have saved myself a lot of tears and burnt dishes if I would have known that this cheap little gadget could improve the results in my cooking in a dramatic way.
Try Different Temperatures- Once you know that your oven temperature is correct (or how to gauge it if isn’t) try baking the eggs at 325 degrees first. If your eggs are not to your liking, increase the temperature to 350 degrees.
Stop the Brown Spots- Brown spots can develop on your egg from resting in the muffin tins, particularly with a dark muffin tin like the one I am showing in this picture. Although the spots don’t really bug me, you can prevent them by using a silicone muffin pan, baking in a mini muffin tin, or lining your muffin tin with liners, tin foil, or I have even heard that cotton pads/balls can offer a buffer between your egg and the bottom of the pan. Alton Brown actually recommends placing the eggs directly on your oven racks and skipping the muffin tin altogether. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that one!
Make Peeling Easier- Fresh eggs can actually be more difficult to peel, as we have discovered, so it’s best to use older eggs for an easier peeling process (one week or more old).
How Should I Store My Eggs?
Once you have your week’s worth of eggs, how the heck do you store them? I read a lot of advice on this one when we prepared our eggs! Ideally, you want to keep these in their shell since it acts a barrier to bacteria and it helps them last longer too. Within the shell, you can eat these safely for up to seven days (although they never last that long in our house!!). Peeled hard-boiled eggs can be stored in the refrigerator in a bowl of cold water to cover for about five days (change the water daily) or in a sealed container without water (cover the eggs with damp paper towels) for the same length of time.
We store ours in their shell since I am worried about the bacteria factor!
In honor of our Focus on Better Mornings M Challenge, I’m republishing one of our favorite breakfasts that helps our mornings run smoother – easy burritos that can be pulled from the freezer whenever you need them. It doesn’t hurt that they’re delicious and customizable, too!
Back-to-School requires a lot of planning and getting back on track with a healthy breakfast is one thing I want to work on this year. Today I wanted to show you a recipe for Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos that can be made ahead and also created for your gluten-free or dairy-free family members. One batch of these freezer breakfast burritos can yield 15-18 burritos, depending on how you stuff ‘em, and they are filled with everything your kids need to start their day on the right foot. I am partnering with Walmart on this back-to-school idea today so you can snag all the supplies you need right at their store.
What I love about these burritos is that they are not only filled with fresh whole foods, but also that they are inexpensive to create. With kitchen staples like eggs, cheese, potatoes, and tortillas, it is likely you already have a few things on hand for this back-to-school breakfast. Create an assembly line of ingredients in the kitchen and have your kids jump in on the fun.
The potatoes are tossed in paprika and garlic powder for a tasty topping to the eggs. I love a little Italian turkey sausage, red peppers, and cheddar or colby cheese for these burritos. You can create your own flavor combinations or consider clearing out items from the fridge and making a unique combination all your own.
Be careful to not overstuff the burritos so they can be wrapped easily and place them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet to place in the freezer until frozen. Once these are frozen you can tuck them in a freezer bag and just grab them when you need them. Do you know how to wrap a burrito? If not, I love this tutorial for perfectly wrapped breakfast burritos!
With one kid in middle school (GASP!) and a daughter who prefers not to eat in the morning, I am hoping that these burritos will be the perfect way to get them motivated to eat a healthy breakfast. Just grab one from the freezer and wrap it in a dampened paper towel for the microwave for three minutes (flip it halfway through). Wrap in foil and let them eat them on the way to the bus or in route to school. These also make a great after school snack, after sports activities, or an impromptu dinner with their pals while doing homework.
To make them dairy-free substitute the cream with almond milk (which is what we did) and add a vegan cheese to them or leave them cheeseless. For a gluten-free burritos, Walmart offers this option in their stores.
We hope you love this delicious breakfast as much as we did. We have already started raiding our make-ahead breakfast burritos for quick lunches this week. I am shocked how beautifully these reheat and taste. There are no excuses why you can’t tackle a healthy breakfast. Be sure to check out my recipe for Slow Cooked Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal for another fun breakfast treat!
A make-ahead breakfast burrito that you can tuck in your freezer for a healthy breakfast, snack or meal.
2 tablespoons olive oil
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon paprika
salt & pepper
1 lb Italian Turkey Sausage
1 dozen eggs
2 tablespoons cream (or milk substitute)
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
½ pound cheese of your choice (or vegan cheese)
18 tortillas, soft-taco size (8-inch), whole-wheat, flour, or gluten-free tortillas
To roast potatoes, preheat your oven to 475 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle diced potatoes with oil and season with salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. Toss the potatoes together to evenly coat in oil and seasonings, and spread out into a single layer on the parchment. Roast until browned on the bottom and tender, about 20-25 minutes.
Brown your sausage. Once it is cooked through, set aside in a large bowl, leaving about a 2 tablespoons of drippings in the pan for the eggs.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the cream (or milk substitute) and pour into the sausage skillet. Cook over medium heat until just set, stirring as needed. season with salt and pepper and stir to combine, and transfer to the bowl with sausage.
In the same skillet, cook your red peppers over medium heat until fragrant and softened, about 10 minutes.
Make an assembly line- tortilla, cheese, followed by a small handful of potatoes and a scoop of the egg/sausage mixture. Roll the tortilla up.
For freezing, place burritos on a wax- or parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the freezer until firm, at least an hour. Transfer to large freezer bags and keep frozen for up to one month.
For reheating, place a frozen burrito in a dampened paper towel and microwave for three minutes, turning halfway through.
I love a good summer dinner outside and one without a lot of dishes, is always a winner. We started a new dinner tradition this summer doing a weekly shrimp boil. Have you ever done a shrimp boil? Call it a shrimp boil or call it a Lowcountry Boil, this is a dish that is easy to entertain with, thanks to its one-pot wonder status and the simplicity of serving this dish right on a pile of newspapers in the center of your picnic table.
The history of the Lowcountry Boil is a pretty interesting one. Coastal Living Magazine shares, in this article, that this dish was once called Frogmore Stew and was created by a National Guardsman when he needed to cook a meal for 100 soldiers. Richard Gay, who learned the recipe from his family, had everyone remembering his stew. The dish was later named Frogmore, where Richard was from, by the guards who teased him about home. The postal service eliminated the name Frogmore, which changed this popular dish name to Lowcountry boil.
If you can feed a hundred soldiers, you can feed a few extra friends around your dinner table with this fun dish, which is why I wanted to share it with you today.
You see, I have been on a mission this summer to transform my attitudes about entertaining. This summer I decided to challenge myself and open our home up once a week to family and friends for dinners.
You know people that are natural born entertainers? The kind of people that just love entertaining?
I am just not one of them.
I want to be one of those people, but I often find the stress of preparation and wanting things to be perfect gets in the way of the relaxed kind of hostess I desire to be. By putting myself on a weekly dinner schedule with friends & family though, it has begun to feel more natural to have weekly guests in our home. Not only has it held me accountable to keeping up a bit around the house, it also has created so many beautiful memories with people we love around our dinner table.
My standards of what a perfect meal are also starting to relax a bit. My housekeeping has relaxed a bit in the process too. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s an honest thing.
I began to notice that real friends don’t care what kind of condition your home is in if you share a meal with them.
They just love being with you.
I have also found a little sangria also helps to relax your guest’s standards too. Ahem.
My children have come to really love this dish too. There is just something so fun about grabbing a fork, dipping, and spicing to your heart’s delight. When the humidity gets to be too much, I just nestle this feast on a cookie sheet lined with newspaper on our kitchen table. We also love to throw on a really good record that fits the mood of the evening (this was last night’s selection)!
Since we live in the Midwest, our seafood is pretty limited to frozen offerings. You can certainly build upon this dish depending upon your location and grocery budget.
I hope this dish inspires you to open up your table to others and try something new. As a reluctant hostess, I have found the experience of opening up our table weekly to be really incredible for our entire family!
Call it a Shrimp Boil call it a Lowcountry Boil...whatever its name you decide upon, bask in the glory of this easy one-pot wonder! This recipe can easily be doubled for a large crowd!
2 lemons, halved, plus wedges for serving
½ cup Old Bay Seasoning
8 cloves garlic, smashed
1 large red onion, quartered
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 pound baby red potatoes
4 ears corn, husked and snapped in half
2 pounds large shrimp, (cleaned & shells removed)
13 ounces kielbasa (we use a turkey kielbasa in this), cut into slices
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Hot sauce, for serving (optional)
Fill a large pot with 4 quarts of water. Squeeze the lemon juice into the water and add the squeezed lemon halves. Add the Old Bay, garlic and onion. Tie the thyme sprigs together with kitchen twine and add to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook about 5 minutes.
Add the potatoes to the pot and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes. Add the corn and cook 5 more minutes.
Add the shrimp & kielbasa the pot, cover and cook until the shrimp curl and are just opaque, 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer the shrimp and vegetables with a slotted spoon or skimmer to a large bowl. Add the butter and about 1 cup broth to the bowl and toss until the butter is melted. Transfer the shrimp and vegetables to a pile of newspapers. Serve with the remaining broth, lemon wedges and hot sauce, if desired.
Have you ever done a shrimp boil? What makes your dish special? I would love to hear!!
If you live at the pool like we do in the summer, you won’t want to miss today’s post over on the Wild Oats blog. After years of pool days, we have learned a few things about the best snacks to pack and we are sharing them on the blog today.
Whether you love sweet or salty, there is a snack for you on today’s list! I can’t wait to hear what your winning pool snack combination is!
*This post is sponsored by Wild Oats. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!
There is not much that I miss since going gluten-free except the convenience of eating anywhere where I want without worry.
In fact, there is only one food that I really and truly miss…
I have blogged about our weekly pizza night together that has been a family tradition for many years. I can admit it, I miss the days of sitting down and sharing a pizza with my kids. For awhile, our pizza nights lapsed- making pizza for everyone else and me eating a cardboard version of it just wasn’t in the cards at first. The only way that I can explain it is that it was a time of mourning for me. Others echo me when they say that they were blue to find out that they needed to make diet switches. It is like a little part of your life has changed and won’t be the same again.
Luckily, substitutions can be made with gluten-free crusts, but they often lack the flavor of that soft, doughy variety. I still make them on occasion, but I wouldn’t say gluten-free pizza is my favorite thing.
Portobello mushrooms, hollowed and inverted, can make a delicious substitute for an expensive gluten-free crust (and they also double as a mean burger!). I love the meaty taste of these and I love how they can stand up to baking and grilling in the summer season. When baked, a little drizzle of olive oil and a dusting of salt & pepper, creates a delicious fun base to your pizza. I would say that these trump a gluten-free crust any day and they are made with whole foods that you can be proud of!
This girl is no stranger to quinoa and we have talked about easy ways to prepare it on the Wild Oats blog. Of course, quinoa plain over and over again can be a little boring so to bring the pizza flavor into this dish, we incorporate Wild Oats Basil and add tomato flavor into the quinoa. When mixed in, it tastes like a protein-packed pizza sauce.
If you are vegan or dairy-free, the quinoa can be cooked in veggie broth and the cheese can be switched with a vegan cheese.
These are all the flavors I love about pizza without the belly ache. It’s a pizza that you can really feel good about for your whole family.
No need to be sad about that pizza night anymore- I’ve got you covered! You can snag all these fun products from Wild Oats (an affordable organic option) from Walmart!