Archive for the ‘Food & Recipes’ Category

The Best of Fall, Halloween & Thanksgiving: 49 Ideas for Decor, Crafts, Recipes, Costumes & More!

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

The Best of Fall, Halloween & Thanksgiving-49 Ideas for Decor, Crafts, Recipes, Costumes & More

Fall is really one of my favorite seasons, from the first leaves that turn glorious colors through Halloween costumes to hanging out with family and friends for Thanksgiving, I love it all! Mom Advice has been around long enough that I’ve got a TON of great ideas, tutorials, and recipes that are perfect for this season, so I’m rounding it all up in one spot for you, since I know a lot of your are fall lovers like me.

No matter what you like, you’ll find something here for you, including lots of easy DIY decorating, some fun knitting projects, comforting food recipes (including my popular list of make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes!), costume ideas for the whole family, and more.

Miniature-Felted-Pumpkins

Fall Decor & Crafts

Mini Felted Pumpkin Tutorial

Warm Up Outdoor Spaces for Fall

Handmade Autumn Burlap Wreath Tutorial

7 Easy Upcycle Projects for Fall

Fall Decorating with Goodwill Items

DIY Decorative Thumbtack Pumpkins

Knitted Leaves Centerpiece
Knitted Leaf Centerpiece

Duct Tape Pumpkins

How to Decoupage Pumpkins

Painted Address Pumpkin Topiary

7 Scarves & Cowls to Knit for Fall

Pumpkin-Hand-Pies

Fall Recipes

Pumpkin Hand Pies

Fall DIY Drinks

Pumpkin Nut Quinoa Breakfast

11 Pumpkin Recipes

Pumpkin Cranberry Cornbread

21_Easy_Slow_Cooker_Meals
21 Easy Slow Cooker Meals

8 Ways to Use Canned Pumpkin

12 Great Tailgating Recipes

Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Maple Syrup Frosting

And while not a decor or recipe, let’s not forget these 5 Ways to Date Your Husband in the Fall!

DIY_Halloween_Costumes

Halloween Costumes, Decor & Recipes

7 New DIY Halloween Costumes

DIY Minecraft Costume Ideas

Easy DIY Halloween Costumes

Halloween Costume Ideas for the Whole Family

doughnut-hole-ghost-cake
Doughnut Hole Ghost Cake

Festive Halloween Decorating Ideas

How to Make Chalkboard Pumpkins

Happy, Healthy Halloween Night Feast

How to Make Glow-in-the-Dark Jell-o

Woodland-Creatures-Printables-Tablescapes

Thanksgiving Decor, Crafts & Entertaining

Woodland Thanksgiving Table + Free Printables

DIY Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Host a Friendsgiving Feast

How to Entertain the Kids on Thanksgiving Day

How to Set the Perfect Thanksgiving Table

DIY Chalkboard Food Label Frames

Apple_Sausage_And_Sage_Sourdough_Stuffing

Thanksgiving Recipes

Make Ahead Apple, Sausage & Sage Sourdough Stuffing

Make Ahead Gravy

Make Ahead Green Bean Casserole

Make Ahead Buttery Bread Machine Rolls

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes for a Crowd

Make Ahead Brandied Orange Cranberry Sauce

Herb Roasted Turkey Breast

decorate_store_bought_pie

5 Ways to Decorate Store-Bought Pies

Dress Up a Store-Bought Pie with Cranberry-Crunch Pie Topping

Homemade Pumpkin Pie

All-Butter Pie Crust Tutorial

7 Make Ahead Appetizers for Thanksgiving

Make Ahead Recipes for Thanksgiving Day

Are you a fall lover, too? What are some of your favorite recipes, crafts, or traditions?

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The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 6)

Monday, October 26th, 2015

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 6)

It’s another delicious week thanks to a day of preparations. I’ve discovered audiobooks are so great for these days because I feel like I am accomplishing two things I want to do at once! Thanks to our library partnering with hoopla, I have been able to really take advantage of this freely through my library card.

I hope these meal ideas have been inspiring to you and your family!

Approximate Time for Preparation- 3 hours plus clean-up! 

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 6- see previous weeks here)

Roasted Turkey Breast (for sandwiches)- I roasted this while I chopped the other food!

Homemade Pizza Sauce (I stole one from our freezer this week!)

Pizza Dough (I bagged the dry ingredients for my homemade pizza)

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup (soup base prepared minus the noodles)

Grapes (removed from the vine, but I didn’t rinse so they don’t get moldy!)

Brown Rice (four cups)- (NEW TUTORIAL!!)

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Italiano (prepped & bagged)

Chopped Romaine Hearts (for salads & turkey sandwich topping)

Spaghetti Sauce

Pumpkin Pancakes (mixed dry ingredients & jotted down wet ingredients needed on packaging)

Chicken Lo Mein (ingredients chopped and bagged separately & sauce prepared in a separate container)

Green Beans (trimmed) & Mushrooms in separate bags- planning to roast them like this

Chopped Carrots & Celery (I store these in water)

Green Smoothie Packets (I use this recipe and froze the strawberries, bananas, and fresh spinach in packets for the morning.)

Meal Plan

Breakfasts- Green Smoothies

Lunches- Leftovers , Turkey Sandwiches, Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

Dinners-

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 6)

Weeknight Roasted Turkey Sandwiches With Shoestring Oven Fries, Carrots, & Celery

weeknight_chicken_lo_mein_1

Weeknight Chicken Lo Mein, Brown Rice, With Steamed Edamame

greek soup finish 1

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup, Salad (tossed with red wine vinegar, olive oil, & oregano),  & Grapes

Pot-Roast-Italiano-748388

Pot Roast Italiano, Balsamic Roasted Green Beans & Mushrooms, With Roasted Potatoes

pumpkin_pancakes_1

Pumpkin Pancakes, Chicken Sausages, & Orange Juice

Pizza

Homemade Pizza Night

momadvice-make-ahead-meals (1 of 1)

I hope you enjoy this make-ahead feast inspiration! Happy Monday, friends!! xo

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 5)

Monday, October 19th, 2015

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 5)

They say it takes 30 days to make something a habit. If that is the case, I am so proud to have made it through my first month of make-ahead meals. Our activities schedule has slowed down considerably, but I still saw the value in it this week. I am able to put in more work on the site and I also am squeezing in more time to read thanks to the preparations that I have made for the week. Overall, I still am finding lots of value in it, especially in our family’s dining out budget.

Have you used Mint before to track your spending? If you aren’t sure how much you are spending on the different categories in your life, you can link your bank account to it and it will compartmentalize all of the areas of your spending for free. You can look at little pie charts at where you money is going and it can be incredibly enlightening especially when it comes to your food budget. It is through this program that I am able to see what a benefit these preparations have been for us and managing my other spending in the process. I’m a big fan especially of the email alerts when spending is out of hand. Especially when you are on vacation (GULP!) and the alerts are flying- ha!

Let’s get cooking!

Approximate Time for Preparation- 3 hours plus clean-up! 

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 5- see previous weeks here)

Carnita Meat (prepped the seasoning mix ahead in a container to pour over the pork in the morning)

Homemade Pizza Sauce (I stole one from our freezer this week!)

Pizza Dough (I bagged the dry ingredients for my homemade pizza)

Roasted Chicken (NEW TUTORIAL!! for salads & wraps)

Grapes (removed from the vine, but I didn’t rinse so they don’t get moldy!)

Brown Rice (four cups)- (NEW TUTORIAL!!)

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili (had this simmering away while I prepped)

Chopped Romaine Hearts (for tacos and side salads)

Spaghetti Sauce

Brussels Sprouts (trimmed)- to be made into Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Broccoli (chopped and bagged)

Cracker Barrel Chicken Tenders (triple-batched the tenders and put in a bag to marinade)

Chopped Carrots & Celery (I store these in water)

Chopped Bell Peppers

Green Smoothie Packets (I use this recipe and froze the strawberries, bananas, and fresh spinach in packets for the morning.)

Meal Plan

Breakfasts- Green Smoothies

Lunches- Leftovers , Chicken Wraps or Salads, Pumpkin Chili

Dinners-

Gluten-Free Slow Cooker Carnitas

Monday- Gluten-Free Carnitas with Tortilla Chips (we also created rice bowls from our prepared rice)

Grilled Chicken Tenders

Tuesday- Cracker Barrel Style Chicken Tenders, Brown Rice, & Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Wednesday- Spaghetti Night, Steamed Broccoli, & Grapes

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili

Thursday- Homemade Pumpkin Chili & Grilled Cheese

Spinach, Tomato, & Mushroom Pizza

Friday: Homemade Pizza Night

Saturday- SAYSFN (Seek and Ye Shall Find Night)

Sunday- SAYSFN (Seek and Ye Shall Find Night)

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 5)

I hope you enjoy this make-ahead feast inspiration! Happy Monday, friends!! xo

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 4)

Monday, October 12th, 2015

make-ahead-meals (1 of 1)

I hope you all had a great weekend! Since we had a wedding to attend last weekend and my daughter is starting her Nutcracker rehearsals, weekends are no longer working for me to get these meals ready for our week.

My make-ahead day has now moved to Wednesday (with a grocery day on Tuesday). Since I got started so late though, I had a hard time capturing a picture so I apologize for this week’s blurry image, but I hope you will find these make-ahead ideas inspiring!

Once again, we still have not dined out as a family and my husband & I only logged in one meal last week out so I am really thrilled how much this has improved our entertainment budget. Thanks to this great audiobook this week, I didn’t dread this task as much as other weeks, and moving this to a day while the kids are at school also helped it not feel so chaotic in the kitchen. Is it easy? No. Am I thankful all week long? You bet.

Approximate Time for Preparation- 4 hours plus clean-up! 

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead

Pulled Pork (had this in the slow cooker while I made the rest of the dishes)

Homemade Pizza Sauce (I stole one from our freezer this week!)

Pizza Dough (I bagged the dry ingredients for my homemade pizza)

Roasted Chicken (NEW TUTORIAL!! for salads & wraps)

Grapes (removed from the vine, but I didn’t rinse so they don’t get moldy!)

Brown Rice (four cups)- (NEW TUTORIAL!!)

Gluten-Free Chicken Noodle Soup

Italian Meatloaf (minus breadcrumbs for a gluten-free loaf, pulled this one from the freezer!)

Gluten-Free Meatballs

Caprese Pork Chops (marinated in pesto and sliced the mozzarella for topping)

Baked Hard Boiled Eggs

Brussels Sprouts (trimmed)- to be made into Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Sliced Mushrooms & Green Beans (trimmed & stored in separate bags)- planning to roast them like this

Slow Cooker Chicken Italiano

Chopped Carrots & Celery (I store these in water)

Green Smoothie Packets (I use this recipe and froze the strawberries, bananas, and spinach in packets for the morning. This week I added some blueberries that were on sale!)

Meal Plan

Breakfasts- Green Smoothies or Hard Boiled Eggs & Fresh Fruit

Lunches- Leftovers or Hard Boiled Eggs, Chicken Wraps or Salads, Chicken Noodle Soup

Dinners-

Pulled_Pork_Stuffed_Sweet_Potatoes-1

Monday- Pulled Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Fresh Fruit & Chopped Veggies

5_Ingredient_Caprese_Pork_Chop-Header

Tuesday- Caprese Pork Chops with Balsamic Roasted Green Beans & Mushrooms, and Brown Rice

Gluten_Free_Chicken_Noodle_Soup_Header

big_batch_toasted_cheese_sandwiches_1

Wednesday- Chicken Noodle Soup with Big Batch Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Pizza

Thursday- Homemade Pizza Night

Roasted_Brussels_Sprout_1

Friday- Italian Meatloaf With Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Saturday- SAYSFN (Seek and Ye Shall Find Night)

Sunday- SAYSFN (Seek and Ye Shall Find Night)

make-ahead-meals (1 of 1)

I hope you enjoy this make-ahead feast inspiration! Happy Monday, friends!! xo

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Make-Ahead Tutorial: How to Make Perfect Brown Rice In Your Rice Cooker

Monday, October 12th, 2015

How to Make Perfect Brown Rice In Your Rice Cooker from MomAdvice.com

I have all the secrets to a perfect batch of brown rice thanks to all of my failed attempts at yielding a great batch over the years. We have had crunchy brown rice, dry brown rice, mushy brown rice, and everything in between. For many years, I baked my brown rice (thank you, Alton Brown) before discovering the world’s most awesome gadget (used a minimum of twice a week!) called a rice cooker!

Today I want to share with you the secret to my brown rice succes.  For me, it is one part rice selection (no affiliation with them, I swear!) one part liquid ratios and one part rice cooker fuzzy logic that works. Intrigued? I hope so!

How to Make Perfect Brown Rice In Your Rice Cooker from MomAdvice.com

Brown rice is something I really rely upon to round out my meals because I am gluten-free.  I use it to make taco bowls, in lieu of making gluten-free pastas, and I toss veggies and meat with it to make hearty bowls for filling lunches.  Although I adore quinoa, I still find that this sticks to my ribs a little better so it has become a go-to side for our family.

What Brand Do I Swear By For Consistent Brown Rice Results?

The only brand I use is the Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain Brown Rice (the packaging looks just like this!) It delivers consistent cooking results for me and comes out perfectly every time. When people tell me that they don’t enjoy the texture of brown rice or their kids turn their noses up to it, I tell them to buy this brand because once this is prepared it has more of the texture of white rice than any other that we have tried and my kids prefer it over white rice. 

How to Make Perfect Brown Rice In Your Rice Cooker from MomAdvice.com

What is the Liquid Ratio for Brown Rice?

Brown rice is not a 1:1 ratio like white rice, it requires a bit more liquid to deliver consistently good results. For every one cup of rice, you need 1 1/4 cups of liquid for a long grain brown rice (this is the ratio I use for that brand I shared). For a short-grain rice, you actually need 1 1/2 cups of liquid for every one cup of rice. I also add a pat of butter as well to help round out the flavoring.

I rely upon chicken stock for my liquid, but you can use water, beef stock, or veggie broth too. If you are trying to save a little bit, cut the stock you choose in half with water or you can just use water if you do not want a richer flavor to your rice.

How to Make Perfect Brown Rice In Your Rice Cooker from MomAdvice.com

Rice Cooker- Perfect Rice Every Time

Five years ago,  I bought this rice cooker for about $20 and I have been using it two to three times a week ever since.  It provides consistently great brown rice, white rice, steamed vegetables, and even rice cooker quinoa for our family with very little work on my part. It does take up valuable space in my kitchen, but it has earned its rights to the space by saving me a lot of time hovering over pots!

My rice cooker has no fancy settings, I just push down the switch and it figures it all out for me.  When it is done, the switch flips up and a loud beep lets you know that the rice is done. That’s it. It’s basically a set it and forget it appliance that delivers consistent results for our family.

How to Make Perfect Brown Rice In Your Rice Cooker from MomAdvice.com

Now you know all my secrets! Do you have any of your own tips for perfect brown rice? Let me know in the comments below! I love hearing everyone’s strategies!

This post contains affiliate links! 

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How to Make Pumpkin Hand Pies

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

How to Make Pumpkin Hand Pies from MomAdvice.com

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!

How to Make Pumpkin Hand Pies from MomAdvice.com

Head on over to the Kenmore Blog today to snag this easy Halloween treat recipe! xo

Gluten-Free Meatball Sub Game Day Appetizer

Monday, October 5th, 2015

Gluten-Free Meatball Sub Game Day Appetizer from MomAdvice.com *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.

Gluten-Free Meatball Sub Game Day Appetizer from MomAdvice.com

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!

Gluten-Free Meatball Sub Game Day Appetizer from MomAdvice.com

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!
Gluten-Free Meatball Sub Game Day Appetizer from MomAdvice.com

Gluten-Free Meatball Sub Game Day Appetizer from MomAdvice.com

Gluten-Free Meatball Sub Game Day Appetizer from MomAdvice.com

Gluten-Free Meatball Sub Game Day Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 33 meatballs
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 pound Italian turkey sausage
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup parsley
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 packages baby mozzarella balls (over in the specialty cheese cooler by the deli)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • toothpicks
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the ground turkey, parsley, eggs, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt & pepper, and tomato sauce. Stir gently to combine.
  2. Make your meatballs the standard size and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees for ten to fifteen minutes (this size took 12 minutes).
  4. Meanwhile, in a pot heat olive oil and add your minced garlic, cooking for just one minute.
  5. Add your crushed tomatoes, the remainder of your small can of tomato sauce, sugar, and salt. Allow this to simmer for ten minutes.
  6. Once the meatballs are done, ladle the sauce into a deep dish or bowl. Skewer one mozzarella ball and one meatball on a toothpick and nestle in the sauce. Serve hot.

As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

Pumpkin Nut Quinoa Breakfast

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Perfect for the fall and for our M Challenge Focus on Better Mornings, I’m republishing this easy breakfast of pumpkin flavored quinoa with yummy sugared pecans because it will definitely help get your day off to a great start!

Pumpkin Nut Quinoa BreakfastI can’t think of two ingredients I am loving more than pumpkin and quinoa right now. This recipe is a deliciously satisfying pairing of pumpkin and quinoa together in this Pumpkin Nut Quinoa Breakfast. The best part is the fun topping addition of sugared pecans that make this dish such a standout!

Pumpkin Nut Quinoa Breakfast

Over this past year I have showcased lots of fun recipes to try with quinoa from basic preparation to summer salads to breakfast bowls to stuffed peppers. What you might not know though is that there is another variety of quinoa that you can purchase for your baking and breakfast needs. Quinoa flakes remind me of Cream of Wheat in their texture, but they are packed with loads of protein. They can be found at natural food stores and are often available in both a boxed variety or can be purchased in the bulk section of the store.

Last winter I became addicted to these quinoa flakes for a hot breakfast bowl. I dressed mine up simply with a little stevia, maple syrup, and almond milk, but I wanted to try another spin with this ingredient for the Fall.

Pumpkin Nut Quinoa BreakfastThis recipe for Pumpkin Quinoa can be modified to your own dietary needs. I prepared mine with almond milk, but you can use regular milk too. The nuts are tossed in cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg and a little egg white. They remind me a lot of these Sugar & Spice Nuts that I love to share around the holidays.

If you are vegan, try substituting the egg white with 2-3 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon of flax, mixed well, to coat the nuts. For those living gluten-free, no modifications need to be made! It is one of those recipes that is easy to modify for your family!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. I reheat my leftovers in the microwave and add a little milk to thin them out again. This is a great one to tuck in your fridge for a hot breakfast all week long!

Pumpkin Nut Quinoa Breakfast

Pumpkin Nut Quinoa Breakfast
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
A deliciously gluten-free dish that can be enjoyed on Fall mornings. This pumpkin quinoa is packed with protein and has added flavor & texture from the amazing sugared pecans that adorn it.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Pinch of Salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg white (see above for vegan substitution)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1¾ cup water
  • 1¾ cup milk (or milk substitute)
  • 1⅓ cups quinoa flakes
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • ¼ cup half-and-half (or additional milk substitute)
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, salt, ground cloves, and ground nutmeg in a plastic bag, seal the bag, and shake to mix.
  3. Pu tthe egg white and vanilla in a bowl, and beat until slightly foamy. Add the pecans and stir to coat them well. Using a slotted spoon, lift the pecans out the bowl and transfer them to the bag of sugar and spices. Shake, making sure the pecans are well coated with the seasoning. Spread the pecans out on the prepared baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet.
  4. Meanwhile, place the water and milk in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the quinoa flakes and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until the liquid has decreased by half and the mixture is thick.
  5. Combine the pumpkin and the half-and-half (or milk substitute) in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Swirl the pumpkin into the quinoa and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Divide among four bowls, sprinkle with nuts, and serve immediately.

Source: Deliciously G-Free (affliliate)

Looking for more things to do with the rest of the can of pumpkin? Be sure to check out these 11 pumpkin recipe ideas for your Fall cooking!

 

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3 Ways to Take the Hassle Out of Packing School Lunches {& Free Printable!}

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

This is a post from our diy/craft contributor, MJ.

Mom Advice lunch time printable- free download!

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!

DOWNLOAD THE FREE LUNCHBOX HELPER PRINTABLE!

Lunch box helper printable

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!

3 Ways to Take the Hassle our of School Lunches

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!

School Lunch Ideas

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?

XOXO, MJ

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 3)

Monday, September 28th, 2015

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 3)

When grocery day used to come, it would be the day of trashing perfectly good food that would have been perfectly delicious if I ever would have gotten around to cooking it. This week we threw away a little celery and some hard boiled eggs for the entire week of wasted food. If I questioned if making the food ahead was worth the effort, this helped me understand LOUD AND CLEAR that this family needs this to save money and waste less.

We also did not eat out this week (other than a work engagement my husband had) so that is two weeks in a row that I have felt more in control of our family finances.

That is NOT to say that I did not drag my feet this week. This takes a ton of effort and I started this incredible book and it pained me every minute I was away from it. The reward though is that I will have loads more time to read this week with ZERO guilt because I am ahead of the game this week.

I’d love to hear if you tried anything from our make-ahead ideas or what your favorite make-ahead dish is. I am sure I am going to be needing some new recipes soon!

Approximate Time for Preparation- 4 hours plus clean-up! 

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead

Homemade Pizza Sauce (double batched- popped one in the freezer)

Pizza Dough (I bagged the dry ingredients for my homemade pizza)

Roasted Chicken (NEW TUTORIAL!! for salads & wraps)

Blueberries & Strawberries

Brown Rice (four cups)

Slow Cooker Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

Cantaloupe

Baked Hard Boiled Eggs

Chicken Enchiladas (stored sauce in a separate container)

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Slow Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches

Brussels Sprouts (trimmed)- to be made into Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Sliced Mushrooms & Green Beans (trimmed & stored in separate bags)- planning to roast them like this

Broccoli- to make into Microwave Lemony Broccoli

Slow Cooker Chicken Italiano

Chopped Carrots & Celery (I store these in water)

Green Smoothie Packets (I use this recipe and froze the strawberries, bananas, and spinach in packets for the morning. This week I added some blueberries that were on sale!)

Meal Plan

Breakfasts- Green Smoothies or Hard Boiled Eggs & Fresh Fruit

Lunches- Leftovers or Hard Boiled Eggs, Veggies, & Fresh Fruit, or Stuffed Green Pepper Soup with Salads

Dinners-

Monday- Roasted Chicken Wraps With Broccoli or Salads (Topped With Berries, Balsamic Dressing, Slivered Almonds, & Chicken)

Tuesday- Chicken Enchiladas, Brown Rice, & Tortilla Chips with Salsa

Wednesday- Italian Beef Sandwiches on Hoagie Rolls with Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Fresh Fruit

Thursday- Chicken Italiano served over Brown Rice Pasta with Balsamic Roasted Green Beans & Mushrooms & Fresh Fruit

Friday- Homemade Pizza Night

Saturday- SAYSFN (Seek and Ye Shall Find Night)

Sunday- SAYSFN (Seek and Ye Shall Find Night)

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No more cooking for this girl ALL WEEK- YAY!! Happy Monday, friends!! xo