31 Days, Children's Books, Saturday Cooking

Saturday Cooking: Picture Book Edition

2013iPhonephotos 008My children love to help me in the kitchen. I am usually willing to have one of them help me, but now that the two-year-old boy wants to be involved in everything, it gets messier and more time consuming and just generally harder to be excited about cooking with kids. But in the spirit of doing the hard things so the hard things get easier, I’m resolved to bake a lot with them this fall season. They love to bake, they love to do what I’m doing, and it’s a valuable skill to have. Plus, it’s like built in obedience school for toddlers–bonus!

Since we love to read even more than we love food itself (okay, maybe that’s just me), some of the recipes I plan to make this Fall are found in books.

Cranberry ThanksgivingThe first is one I baked with my mom and sisters as part of our homeschool curriculum. It’s called Grandmother’s Cranberry Bread from the book Cranberry Thanksgiving. The book is pretty good, but the recipe is mostly what I remember. For someone who isn’t crazy about all things pumpkin (you can keep your pumpkin spice latte, thankyouverymuch), cranberry is the flavor of Fall. I recommend the book, but if you’re not in a picture book stage of life (whatever that means!) you can view the whole recipe on the Amazon website.

We’re also going to try Fairy Tale FeastsI doubt we’ll be finding any stellar recipes, as they all look pretty basic, but I think the kids will really have fun with it. They are especially fascinated by Jack and the Beanstalk, so I foresee some beans in our menu future.

And though The Little House books aren’t technically picture books, we’ve already read two of them and we’re definitely try out the The Little House CookbookI’ve always wanted to make the molasses snow candy they make in Little House and the Big Woods, but the snow is a little sparse in the deep south. Another recipe book I want to try is The Louisa May Alcott Cookbook. The Honey Pumpkin Pie with Gingerbread Crust looks especially fall-ish and delicious.

So that’s what is on our fall baking list, along with this non-bookish recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. What’s on your list?



Everyday Life, Saturday Cooking

Saturday Cooking, Edition 2: The Pinterest Edition

Today is drizzly, chilly, and dreary–a perfect day for curling up with a good book. Unfortunately, that’s not what I’m reading. Life and all of its nutritional needs wedges itself between me and books on Saturdays. Saturday is a day of reading recipes for me. It’s usually when I re-evaluate my meal plan for the week, do a quick grocery shopping run to fill in the gaps left after my big, first-of-the- month. we’re-out-of-everything shopping trip, and try a new recipe or two. In my first Saturday Cooking post, I reviewed a few of my favorite cookbooks. This month, I’m not relying on cookbooks for my meal plan; most of my recipes this month are on Pinterest. So I thought I’d share a few of my favorite Pinterest recipe gems. I’ll link directly to the site instead of to Pinterest for those of you who haven’t entered the wonderful world of pinning. =)

Pork Chalupas RecipeSlow Cooker Pork Chalupas: My husband’s grandmother introduced us to this recipe years ago but I just got brave enough to try it myself. Turns out, it’s a cinch! If you’re feeding a crowd, this is a great recipe to try. In addition to the ingredients in this recipe, you’ll need your favorite toppings for tacos: cheese, sour cream, salsa, whatever else you like. We usually serve the chalupa meat on a bed of lettuce and Fritos instead of on taco shells. Add a side of fruit salad or corn on the cob and your meal is complete.

Epic Fish Tacos:  Yes, we’re big on tacos around here, but  these are not just any tacos. Their name is not an exaggeration; they are epic, indeed. I didn’t change a single thing in this recipe in the three times I’ve made it, and it’s always perfect. It’s pretty easy, too! The only downside for us is our kids aren’t big on fish. As in, they won’t touch it with a foot-long fork. But, since we love tacos, we generally have some type of taco meet or quesadilla leftovers that they eat while we enjoy the epic-ness.

Honey-Ginger Chicken Bites RecipeHoney-Ginger Chicken Bites: This recipe was touted as “great for kids,” but our whole family enjoyed it. I’ve tried many recipes for Asian type chicken (sesame chicken, teriyaki chicken, etc.), but this is the only one that turned out a little crispy on the outside instead of soggy. We had it with rice and green beans.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins: These are our muffins of choice right now. The recipe comes from the first blog I ever followed, moneysavingmom.com. It’s delicious, and can be nutritious, with a few tweaks. The recipe makes a lot, so I have enough to go with dinner or serve as a breakfast, and then make some mini-muffins for snacks later on.

Easy Lemon Chicken: This is the recipe I’m trying out tonight. I’m risking the crock pot, even though the blog I’ve linked to here says it’s not the best way to make this chicken. But I chose the recipe for the fact that it’s a slow cooker recipe, and I’ve been told that it works great by a cook I trust. After re-reading the recipe, I’m a little concerned that I didn’t use enough butter. Perhaps I’ll go chunk in a few more “cubes” right now. Fingers crossed!

So that’s what’s cooking around here. Maybe you haven’t thought about dinner yet because you’re in the middle of an awesome book (I’m jealous). Whether you’re reading an awesome book or trying a new recipe today, comment and let me know what it is! I’m curious about both. =)




Everyday Life, Saturday Cooking

Saturday Cooking

I’m still enjoying The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and I’m flirting with The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton (i.e. I read a page or two between reading Huck Finn because I am so eager to really sit down to read it and find it if it’s good like The Forgotten Garden or not so good like The House at Riverton–I’ll let you know soon!). 

But today, I’m not reading a whole lot other than cookbooks, which is really not my preferred genre. Here’s a little known fact: I don’t really like to cook. Bake, yes. But cook, not so much. I can cook and we do eat most of our meals at home. I’m committed to feeding my family of four healthfully and I’m trying to learn how to do that on a consistent budget. But since cooking is not a passion of mine (and I’m definitely not a foodie, either), I struggle to consistently plan and cook well-rounded and/or scrumptious meals. Here’s what I’d eat for every meal if I didn’t have a family:

Yes, this is really my kitchen.

Dark chocolate, fruit, almonds, granola, and coffee would keep me happy for weeks.

When I hit on a good and easy recipe, I serve it into the ground. Or so it feels to me. So today I spent the morning developing a monthly meal plan with a daily theme, such as Mondays are Asian food, Tuesdays are Mexican, etc. I’ve tried monthly meal plans before, but I generally pick 30 meals and have a hard time sticking to it. So this time I have more like 12 meals that I’m repeating 2-3 times in the month. I’ll let you know how it goes.

The All New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook: Over 1,250 of Our Best RecipesSince I have cooking on the brain, today I’m sharing my favorite cookbooks of all time. I know, who uses cookbooks when you could just search the internet? Well, I don’t have many cookbooks, but I feel I need them when I’m trying to find dinner ideas–allrecipes.com is great but it overwhelms me. I’ll start with the best cookbook in the world: The All New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook. My grandmother gave this book to me for Christmas a year after I got married (thanks, Gammy!), and since then I have tried at least forty recipes. They are always perfect or nearly perfect. It’s my go-to idea book when it comes to meal planning. The recipes vary from ridiculously easy to more advanced, but you can generally tell in a glance how hard the recipe will be. If you look into it, definitely try the recipes in the Healthy Eating section. The cake section and the breakfast section are also especially good. One of our favorites is the chicken and bowtie pasta recipe.

Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious RecipesAnd when I feel like cooking some Italian food, I always look first in Everyday Italian by Giada de Laurentiis. I don’t actually watch any cooking shows, mostly because we choose not to have cable or satellite television (it’s becoming clear how I have time to read, now, isn’t it?), but I think Giada de Laurentiis’s books are awesome.  I’ve had this one since it first came out and it’s literally falling apart. The “Everyday Sauces” section has changed my cooking life. And if you’re a visual cookbook viewer, there’s a photo for almost every recipe.  A photo that will make your mouth start watering before you even read the name of the food.

And lastly, I love this:


This is the recipe notebook a couple of my bridesmaids gave me and the recipes they had everyone at my wedding shower give me for my book. I’ve added so many more shared recipes since then and it is a treasure in my house. It’s also falling apart and rather covered in muffin batter in places, but it will never be retired.

So what’s for dinner tonight? Here, my husband is grilling chicken (yes, about a third of my menu plan includes my husband grilling, but he likes to grill…I’m pretty sure he likes to grill…) and we’re having Ginger and Honey Glazed Carrots and muffins. Because my kids love muffins and it’s an easy way to add whole wheat flour and wheat germ into their diets. =)

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