hot cocoa mix.

11 08 2011

I know, I know, it’s summer.  This morning our house was a little chilly and I thought that a mocha sounded perfect. Making your own mocha can be quite simple, provided you have some homemade cocoa mix handy. I love having this mix around. It works great for cocoa, but when you use coffee in place of the milk, voila! You have a mocha.

Hot Cocoa Mix

2 c. nonfat dry milk powder
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c. powdered nondairy creamer (I use vanilla)
1/8 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients and store in air tight container. To make cocoa, mix 3-5 T. of mix with hot milk or water. To make a mocha, mix 3-5 T. with hot coffee.


pesto power.

3 08 2011

I love pesto! So does Joe! So do the kids! It is so versatile. You can use it in place of marinara on a pizza. You can toss pasta in it. You can stuff chicken breasts with pesto and cheese. You can make little fancy appetizers with a baguette, cheese and cherry tomatoes. Catch my drift? It’s just good to have around. The recipe itself is also versatile. The traditional recipe calls for pine nuts, but walnuts and even sunflower seeds (like this recipe) work well.  The original recipe also calls for Parmesan. You could certainly substitute Romano, or for you health conscious folks, skip the cheese altogether.  For you dorky, yet health conscious people, you can use nutritional yeast in place of the cheese. This not only makes your pesto vegan, but adds protein, vitamins and a delightfully cheesy taste.

I love to make the pesto and freeze it in an ice cube tray. Which, really brought back some memories from my baby food making days! This way, you have the pesto frozen into small quantities that are ready to use. I usually add a little fresh lemon juice to my pesto once it has defrosted to freshen it up.


2/3 c. sunflower seeds (pine nuts or walnuts)

5 c. loosely packed basil leaves

1 1/4 c. Extra virgin olive oil

1/2 c. nutritional yeast (parmesan or romano)

8 garlic cloves

Salt and pepper to taste

Pulse nuts or seeds in blender or food processor. Add remaining ingredients and pulse. Store in fridge or freezer…or use right away! Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice before using.


Deb’s Jello Cake.

10 06 2011

We celebrated Joe’s Birthday yesterday. When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday meal, he said, “Steak and Mom’s Strawberry Cake”.  I do a lot of baking, I mean a lot of baking! This is the 2nd time in the last few years that Joe has requested this cake. The recipe itself is very simple, but it’s great! My Mother-in-law has an amazing ability to make low fat and fat free meals and desserts that are AMAZING!  This is known by many as a Jello Poke Cake.  It is simple, moist and as far as cakes go, not too horrible for you.

Deb’s Jello Cake

1 white cake mix, prepared as directed on box and cooled

1 (4 serving) box Strawberry or Raspberry jello

1 c. boiling water

1/2 c. cold water

1 tube fat-free cool whip

Raspberries or Strawberries to garnish

Prepare white cake mix as directed on box. Cool completely. Poke holes using fork all over surface of cake. Boil 1 c. water and add gelatin. Stir and add 1/2 c. cold water. Pour jello mixture over prepared and cooled cake. Refrigerate at least 3 hours. Top with cool whip and fresh berries. Enjoy!

Asparagus & Goat Cheese Risotto.

9 06 2011

Have you ever made risotto? I used to be so intimidated by risotto. Eventually, my love for this dish won out and I tried a recipe. What I didn’t anticipate was how much my children would love it.  Really, what’s not to love about rice and cheese? Since I’ve conquered making risotto, we have tried mushroom risotto, roasted red pepper risotto,  and just plain old Parmesan risotto. I’ve made risotto so much this past year, that I now feel comfortable creating my own recipe.  Here is the result! It was so creamy and turned out just perfectly.

Asparagus & Goat Cheese Risotto

1/4 c. onion, chopped

4 T. butter

12 oz.  Arborio rice

1 qt. chicken broth

2 c. water

1 c. chopped fresh asparagus

2 oz. goat cheese

Chop asparagus and place in microwavable bowl. Cover with saran wrap and set aside. Chop onion.  Heat butter in medium sized pot over medium heat. Saute onion until translucent.  Meanwhile, combine chicken broth and water in separate pot and warm over medium-low heat.  Add Arborio and stir well, coating with melted butter. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add 1/2 c. broth and stir well. Continue to cook, stirring, until broth is mostly absorbed. Repeat in 1/2 c. increments until rice is done, but al dente. You will not use all of the liquid. This should take about 2 1/2 c. – 3 1/2 c. total.  When rice is almost done, microwave asparagus for 45 seconds to 1 minute, until just beginning to soften.  Remove risotto from heat and stir in asparagus, cheese and season with salt and pepper.

your kids eat what?

4 05 2011

I get a lot of surprised looks when people hear the things that our children eat. What I can tell you is that it is by no accident! Before our first baby was born- I resolved that we would never be forced to eat chicken nuggets and macaroni at every meal. I also resolved that my children would have much better eating habits than I.  You see, I have terrible eating habits. Eating fruits and vegetables is a challenge for me. I’m pretty sure I could live on a good baguette! I wanted my children to be like those crazy people I knew who would grab an orange for a snack. I marveled at that idea, as I would have much rather had an enormous bag of jelly beans- those have “fruit”, right? I must say, I have been pretty successful in my quest to get my children eating a healthy variety of foods. Here are some of my tips for success~

Start young-

As soon as solid foods are introduced your child will start asserting which foods are his/her favorite. Babies usually prefer fruits to vegetables. What I did to keep my kids from getting too picky, was to feed them the food they liked least first. This way, when they were the hungriest they would actually  eat the green beans or whatever it was they weren’t so fond of. Another thing that we did was to feed our babies a large variety of baby foods, rather than just sticking with the few that they preferred.

Limit Sugar-

Both of our kids had very little sugar before 2 years of age. When we wanted to give them a sweet treat- we gave them fruit.  Simply put; if they don’t know that junk food exists- they will naturally be excited to eat a piece of fruit for dessert. We do not buy juice or chocolate milk syrup for our kids. It’s just not necessary. Of course they would prefer to have a sweet drink, but at our house they have a choice of milk or water and no one seems to mind 🙂


Don’t want to be stuck serving the same 5 meals for the next 18 years? Then don’t! I cook what my husband and I want to eat and the kids eat it too. And, when I say we eat what we want to eat- I mean Indian cuisine, Thai food, blue cheese, you name it- we eat it! Don’t put limits on what you think your kids will like. So what if you feed them a meal they are not crazy about! Our Pediatrician always says, “Kids will not starve themselves. Once they get hungry enough, they will eat what is presented.” There are certainly times when our kids really do not like something that I make. We have a rule that they must at least try everything on their plate. If they end up eating barely anything at mealtime, I know that when they are offered a healthy snack at snack time, they will be extra hungry and be able to eat then. I also purposely keep track of which meats, fish,  fruits and vegetables we are eating so that I can mix it up each week.  You will never hear my kids saying that they don’t want to try something new! They are adventurous eaters because I am always trying new recipes. They don’t love everything, but they will definitely try anything you put in front of them!

Spice it up-

Contrary to popular belief, kids can handle quite a bit of spice. Now, I’m not talking 3 alarm-fire-Buffalo-wings spice, but they can certainly handle most spicy foods. Start young! And make sure there is a big glass of milk nearby 🙂


Get rid of the junk! I’m not just talking about getting rid of the chips and little debbies. I mean- get rid of things like pudding, fruit snacks, sugary yogurt, most crackers, chicken nuggets, chicken patties, lunchables, soda and  hot dogs.  These things should be used in moderation, but sadly they are staples in a lot of homes. If junk food is not available, the kids (and you) will forget about it.

I hope some of these tips will be helpful to your little healthy eaters and maybe even some  Mommies, too!

homemade enchilada sauce.

29 04 2011

Ever made your own enchilada sauce? It is very, very easy to make and tastes infinitely better than the canned, full of preservative stuff! I like to make this and freeze portions to use in recipes. This recipe makes enough to store about 2) 25 oz. portions. We love it in our favorite, versatile enchilada recipe. It’s a good one, you can make it in the crock pot as a casserole, or the traditional- rolled up enchiladas.

Enchilada Sauce

Source: All Recipes

1/2 c. vegetable oil

4 T. flour

1/2 c. chili powder

1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce

3 c. water

1/2 t. cumin

1/2 t. garlic powder

1/2 t. onion salt

additional salt

Heat oil in stock pot over medium-high heat. Stir in flour and chili powder. Reduce heat to medium heat and continue to stir well. Gradually stir in remaining ingredients, whisking away clumps. Once slightly thickened, season with salt. Cool and freeze as desired.

Double Chocolate Chip Muffins.

28 04 2011

This is a great healthy-ish muffin recipe. While it does have chocolate chips and sugar, it doesn’t have oil, and has some whole wheat flour…not bad considering the end result. I really think the coconut milk adds a little more moisture than cow’s milk would. If you haven’t tried coconut milk yet, go for it! My kids love it and it is the only milk that I drink.

Double Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 c. Flour
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
3 T. cocoa powder
1 1/2 chocolate chips, separated

1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 c. coconut milk (or cows milk, soy milk, or almond milk)
1 egg
1 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 375. Combine dry ingredients and 1 c. of chocolate chips. In separate bowl, combine wet ingredients. Stir dry and wet ingredients until just combined.  Pour batter into 12 muffin cups and sprinkle each with additional 1/2 c. of chocolate chips. Bake approximately 15 minutes or until muffin springs back when gently pressed