Garlic & Parmesan Breadsticks

Original Recipe HERE

These have gotten rave reviews every time I've made them.  I dare say they're addicting.
The first time I made this, I followed the original recipe's instructions about melting butter in the pan and rolling the dough in it before cooking.  I was pressed for time the second time I made them, so I just painted the baking sheets with melted butter, put the strips of dough on them, and generously painted with more butter before sprinkling Parmesan with a heavy hand.  They were just as good - maybe even a little better.  The flavor wasn't as prevalent, but they cooked a little faster, and the crispty-outside-to-soft-center ratio was more balanced.

2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon yeast
1 & 1/2 cups water
3 & 1/2 to 4 cups flour [I used almost 4 cups]
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder, or to taste
2 teaspoons oregano, or to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup butter, melted
Parmesan cheese

(1) In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, yeast, and sugar.
(2) Once yeast is bubbly, add 2 cups of flour.  Mix with dough hook until all flour is combined.
(3) Sprinkle in remaining flour, salt, garlic powder, and oregano.  Mix until dough is no longer sticky.
(4) Cover bowl with a towel.  Let dough rise at least 20 minutes (I've gone over an hour).
(5) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease baking sheet(s) with about 2 tablespoons of melted butter.
(6) On a floured surface, roll dough into a rectangle approximately 1/2" thick.
(7) Use a pizza cutter to cut strips into sizes that will fit onto your baking sheets.
(8) Melt remaining butter in microwave.
(9) Either dip strips in butter and coat with Parmesan or lay them on baking sheets and brush with melted butter and sprinkle with Parmesan.
(10) Bake 12-15 minutes or until light golden brown on top.

Kid Participation:
* Roll out dough
* Dip or paint strips
* Twist strips if doing so (careful that they don't stretch them too much when doing so)

Buttermilk Cornbread

Original Recipe HERE

Cornbread is supposed to be at its best when cooked in cast iron.  So far, this is the best cornbread I've made.  I think the buttermilk is key to keeping it so moist.
1/2 cup (one stick) butter
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 to 1-1/2 cups corn kernels, optional [I used frozen]
(1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Put 12" cast iron skillet in the oven during the preheating phase.
(2) Melt butter in the microwave.
(3) In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and buttermilk.
(4) Add sugar to egg mixture; whisk until dissolved.
(5) Add butter to egg mixture; whisk well to avoid butter cooling into solids.
(6) In a small bowl, sift together baking soda, cornmeal, flour, and salt.
(7) Stir dry ingredients into wet until well blended.
(8) Gently fold corn into batter if using.
(9) Remove skillet from oven.  Melt approximately one tablespoon of butter in it, swirling to coat entire bottom and halfway up the sides.
(10) Pour batter into skillet.  Return to oven; bake 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
(11) Allow cornbread to cool for several minutes in the skillet before slicing.

Kid Participation:
* Whisk wet ingredients
* Sift dry ingredients
* Stir it all together (gently, please!)


Buttery Roasted Carrots

Original Recipe HERE
My kids thought these were fantastic.  I thought they tasted fine, but I labeled them "fantastic" because of the sheer ease and relative healthiness involved.  A reliable side dish for the future.
The sweetness of the carrots came out nicely, and the butter flavor was strong but still pleasant.  I would experiment with additional seasonings, like garlic powder or paprika or brown sugar, just to have options.

UPDATE: I made these again, this time tossing them with about 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.  The end result was still good, but since the carrots sweeten up on their own during roasting, I don't think the brown sugar made much of a difference.

1 & 1/2 pounds carrots [I used 6]
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
(1) Heat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
(2) Peel carrots.  Slice into 1/4" coins.
(3) Toss carrots with butter, salt, and pepper.
(4) Spread carrots in an even layer on the baking sheet.  Cover entire pan tightly with aluminum foil.
(5) Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove foil.
(6) Roast an additional 30 minutes or until carrots are lightly browned.  Stir several times during cooking.
Kid Participation: Only stirring and spreading the carrot mixture.

Meatball & Spaghetti Soup

Original Recipe HERE
After a three-day weekend spent doing nothing but feeding children (or so it felt like, but really was almost literally since there's an infant in the house), I had no idea what I was serving for dinner that night.  We came home from an activity at 6pm armed only with the inspiration of doing something with the Trader Joe's meatballs I'd bought the day before.  I had bookmarked this recipe and tried it on a whim since I needed it to be fast.

Every kid had more than one helping and asked me to make it again.  I thought it was a great addition to the "I'm so burned out on meal planning and cooking yet these little people keep demanding I provide sustenance for them" collection of easy and satisfying recipes.

I cut the liquid amount because I knew that any leftover pasta would absorb a lot overnight, and I'd add more later if needed.  I also threw in about half a cup of orzo at the last minute to bulk it up because I didn't have enough pasta, but it would be better to just make the entire thing with spaghetti.  I also added spinach to make it a wee bit healthier, and I chopped it small enough that the kids couldn't avoid eating at least a little.

4 cups broth
1 to 2 cups water
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 onion, chopped small
3 to 4 Tablespoons tomato sauce [I used Prego]
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
salt & pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried basil
frozen meatballs [I used one bag of Trader Joe's appetizer size]
8 oz spaghetti, broken into 2" pieces
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
grated Parmesan for serving [optional]

(1) In a large pot, bring broth, water, garlic, onion, tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and basil to a boil.  Simmer 5 minutes or until onions are tender.
(2) Add meatballs.  Cook 3 minutes.
(3) Add spaghetti.  Cook until al dente.
(4) Add spinach.  Cook 2-3 minutes or until wilted.  Serve with Parmesan.

Kid Participation: None except eating, which they did more than their fair share of.


Lime Creamsicles

Original Recipe HERE
These were great popsicles...and there isn't anything besides that to say.  They were both tart and sweet - actually, almost too sweet.  Next time I will add a few more ounces of regular milk and cut some of the condensed milk.
1-2/3 cups nonfat milk [I used 1%]
1/2 cup fresh lime juice [I used 5 limes]
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
(1) Whisk all ingredients together until well combined.
(2) Pour into popsicle molds; freeze 6-8 hours or until solid.
Kid Participation:
* Whisk ingredients
* Pour into molds (if you don't mind half of it ending up on the counter)

Zucchini, Corn, & Cheddar Pancakes

Original Recipe HERE

*J* was excited to hear we were having pancakes for dinner.  That is, until he saw the green-tinged batter and learned there were vegetables in them.  He gave me the usual, "Yuck, I'm not going to eat them."  The boy ate his words - and the pancakes - in the end.  In fact, everyone thought they were great.  A few were leftover, and they reheated well in the toaster oven the next day.

I made the batter, minus the flour, a few hours early, so they're also a good prepare-ahead meal.

I wasn't sure what kind of consistency to expect, especially since there was no mention of draining the zucchini.  It took a little practice to get them golden on the outside and firm enough on the inside that I knew the egg was cooked, but they still weren't traditionally pancake-y in any sense.  I made them small (so the middle would cook without the edges burning), so I got about 20.

The kids dipped them in ketchup, naturally.  I tried them with salsa and sour cream as the recipe suggested and liked them that way, though they were plenty flavorful on their own.

4 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for skillet
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cups grated zucchini [about one large zucchini]
1 cup corn [I used frozen]
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese [I used Colby]
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

(1) In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, salt, pepper, basil, and oregano
(2) Squeeze the zucchini to get some moisture out (don't dry it completely).
(3) Add zucchini, corn, and cheese to batter.  Stir until well combined.
(4) Add flour.  Stir until no dry flour is visible, making sure to scoop down to the bottom of the bowl.
(5) Heat a large skillet to medium heat.  Add a few tablespoons of oil; heat.
(6) Scoop batter in 1/4 cup amounts (I did less) onto the skillet.  Press into 4" diameter circles.
(7) Cook on each side 3-5 minutes or until deep golden brown.  Transfer pancakes to a paper towel-lined plate.  Repeat with remaining batter.
Kid Participation:
* Whisk wet ingredients
* Squeeze shredded zucchini
* Stir all ingredients


Autumn Meatballs

Original Recipe HERE
I changed the name of this recipe (am I allowed to do that?) because I didn't make them in the crockpot, and I associate the dominant flavors of apple and cranberry with fall.  I got 17 meatballs out of this, if I'm remembering correctly.  I thought I'd be able to calculate that after dinner, but all the kids surprised me by eating a second helping, and I lost track.  So these were a success.
I added the breadcrumbs because I was worried there wasn't enough to bind them together.  I knew the egg would help with that, but I wasn't sure about the cheese.  Good thing I didn't put my confidence in the cheddar, since it melted completely, and a lot of it was left on the parchment paper.
I wasn't sure how to serve these...some sort of cranberry sauce would've been nice, but I didn't have fresh cranberries to make a simple stovetop concoction with.  So we defaulted to ketchup.  Don't judge.
1-1/3 lbs ground turkey
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs or panko
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled & shredded
1/2 to 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1/2 to 1 cup dried cranberries
(1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment.
(2) In a medium bowl, mix together egg, salt, pepper, onion powder, and breadcrumbs.
(3) Stir in apple, cheddar, and cranberries.
(4) Add turkey.  Mix until well combined.
(5) Using 2 tablespoon portions, roll meat mixture into balls.  Place on parchment paper (spacing can be tight since they shrink slightly).
(6) Bake about 20 minutes or until cooked through.
Kid Participation: None.


Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip, & Coconut "Lactation" Cookies

Original Recipe HERE
This recipe got good reviews from its original baker, and it had plenty of oats involved.  So I figured why not see if it could be converted into a lactation cookie by added the old standbys of flaxseed meal and brewer's yeast.  I'm happy to report that it, indeed, can.  Actually, I can't report on the lactation function yet (you'd think eating six cookies in one sitting would produce immediate results...), but they taste great and are the chewy consistency that I like.  Sometimes the brewer's yeast flavor can be detected in cookies, but not here.
I cut the original brown sugar amount by 1/4 cup because I didn't have enough.  With the chocolate chips and coconut, there's already plenty of sweetness being added, so I would try decreasing the white sugar to 3/4 cup, also - maybe even one sugar to 1/2 cup.
I got about 36 cookies using approximately 2 tablespoons of dough for each.  Next time I will use my smaller 1-tablespoon scoop and get more.  Also, because of a crying baby who didn't want to sleep, half of the dough sat on the counter longer than expected.  The last batch of cookies spread a lot.  I got the best results with the fresher (colder) dough on the silpat, so refrigerating it before scooping is suggested.
3 Tablespoons flaxseed meal
3 Tablespoons water
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons brewer's yeast
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup chocolate chips [I used mini-morsels]
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
(1) In a small bowl, combine flaxseed meal and water.  Set aside to soak.
(2) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.
(3) In a small bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, salt, and brewer's yeast.
(4) In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
(5) Add eggs and vanilla to butter mixture; mix thoroughly.
(6) Add flaxseed meal to butter mixture; mix thoroughly.
(7) Add flour mixture to wet ingredients; mix until just combined.
(8) Add oats, chocolate chips, and coconut; mix until evenly distributed.
(9) Using 1-2 tablespoons each, roll dough into balls.  Space balls at least 2" apart on baking sheets.
(10) Bake 10-12 minutes, or until edges are golden brown but middles are still pale.
(11) Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes.  Remove to cooling racks.
Kid Participation:
* Mix flaxseed and water
* Measure dry ingredients
* Sift dry ingredients
* Measure wet ingredients
* Operate mixer
* Make dough balls (but not if you care about uniformity in size and whether your kid gets dough all over themselves from the elbows down)


Parmesan Orzo with Vegetables

Original Recipe: from my godmother
I made this because my kids like pasta and Parmesan, both separately and together.  I thought the appearance of onions and mushrooms might cause problems but that they'd at least be willing to try it.  Willing they were, and then they all decided it needed barbecue sauce.  Hmm...  None really liked it, but I thought it was great.  I'll make it again when more adults are dining with us, and I'll try the water-and-white-wine method instead of the broth (it's the end of a summer spent with four kids together 24/7, so I really can't spare any wine for cooking until September).
It barely made one meal's worth, so I would double the recipe next time (that is, if I thought other people in the family would eat it).  Also, I think roasted asparagus or broccoli or sauteed spinach would be a good addition.
2 Tablespoons butter
1 small white onion, diced
1 cup chopped mushrooms [I used baby bella]
1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1 cup water [I substituted chicken broth]
1/2 cup white wine [I substituted chicken broth]
garlic powder to taste [I used 1/4 teaspoon]
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1) In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
2) Add onions; cook until slightly tender.
3) Add mushrooms and orzo.  Cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes
4) Add liquid to saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.
5) Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
6) Cook 7-10 minutes, or until orzo is al dente.
7) Remove from heat.  Stir in Parmesan.

Kid Participation: Add barbecue sauce...?


BBQ Turkey Meatballs

Original Recipe HERE
These meatballs were awesome, especially served with the corn salad that is suggested.  Like, I could've eaten it every night for a week.  *N* ate both, *J* ate the meatballs, and *P* ate the corn.  Hope they get used to it, because I want to make it again ASAP.  It is even worth me using my bare hands to form the meatballs, which is a task I abhor.  Like, it's enough to make me seriously consider going full vegetarian.  Except then I couldn't eat the resulting meatballs, which would be a shame.
I doubted how tasty these could be because they seemed sort of plain and didn't have a sauce pairing, but they exceeded expectations.  I realized too late that I didn't have any panko, so regular Italian breadcrumbs were used this time.  It was somewhat tricky to make sure that the ingredients were combined well, without any clumps of the breadcrumb mixture scattered throughout.  I probably need to find a better order in which to incorporate the ingredients.
1 lb ground turkey [my package was 1.3 lbs]
1/4 cup panko
1 or 2 scallions, minced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dry mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of cayenne
2 teaspoons brown sugar
5 Tablespoons barbecue sauce, divided
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper, and spray lightly with cooking spray (I used parchment and didn't spray it).
2) In a large bowl, whisk together panko, paprika, garlic powder, dry mustard, salt, cayenne, and brown sugar.
3) Add scallions and 2 tablespoons of barbecue sauce.  Mix thoroughly.
4) Add turkey; mix with hands until evenly combined.
5) Form 2-3 tablespoons of the mixture into a lightly packed meatball.  Put on baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining mixture (I got about 16 meatballs).
6) Bake meatballs 11-12 minutes.  Brush with reserved barbecue sauce.  Return to oven; bake an additional 3-4 minutes or until cooked through.
Kid Participation: The only thing *N* wanted to do was help form the meatballs - a job I was happy to turn over to her. 


Chocolate Lactation Cookies

Original Recipe HERE

I'm using baby #4 (henceforth referred to as *A*) as an excuse to gorge myself on cookies.  I love lactation cookies because they (1) help my supply a bit, (2) make large batches, (3) are filling, (4) are easy to grab as a snack - or breakfast if I'm desperate, and (5)  they are healthy enough that I don't feel bad engaging in said gorging.

I don't like to throw a bunch of chocolate chips in, like most recipes suggest, because I do gorge myself on them (have I mentioned that already?).  I read somewhere that you're supposed to have two small cookies for each feeding.  But I don't feel like a cookie is truly a cookie unless it has either frosting or chocolate elements.  The cocoa powder in these satisfies that need and, as far as my tiny bit of research says, is better for you than Nestle morsels.  Don't tell me if I'm wrong about that.

The first batch was good, but practice makes perfect and the second batch was better.  I made a few changes that time, but I'm posting the original amounts below.  The updates were: substituting 1/2 cup coconut oil for half of the butter, reducing both sugars to 1/3 cup, and replacing 1 cup of white flour with 1 cup of wheat.  I also tossed in about 1/3 cup mini-morsels that time...

The cookies come out of the oven very soft, cool and firm up quickly, and then are at their best after they've sat overnight.  They re-moisten themselves somewhat, as many cookies with large amounts of oats tend to do.  Using my mini-dough scoop (approximately one tablespoon size), I got four baking sheets worth of cookies, which was over 50 cookies.
1/2 cup flaxseed meal
1/2 cup water
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar 
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 Tablespoons molasses
1/3 cup cocoa
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 cups oats
1 cup chocolate chips, raisins, etc. [I did not use]
4 Tablespoons brewers yeast
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2) Mix water and flaxseed meal until thoroughly wet.  Set aside.
3) In a large bowl, butter and sugars until fluffy.
4) Add eggs, vanilla, and molasses to butter.  Mix well.
5) Add flaxseed meal.  Mix well.
6) In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and yeast.
7) Add dry ingredients to wet.  Mix well.
8) Add oats.  Mix well.
9) Fold in chocolate chips.
10) Drop spoonfuls of dough (1 to 2 tablespoons each) onto baking sheets.  If desired, flatten slightly.  Cookies will spread a bit.
11) Bake about 12 minutes.  Remove cookies from baking sheets immediately; cool on racks.

Kid Participation:
* Add wet ingredients
* Add dry ingredients
* Scoop dough
* Ask if eating the cookies will help them make milk


Roasted Parmesan Broccoli

Original Recipe HERE
I can count on my kids eating broccoli 90% of the time if I serve it steamed or roasted (the other 10% accounts for bad moods, stomach aches [real or imagined], and just general unpredictability).  So I figured that this would be eaten by 66% percent of them.  But they all wolfed down their portions and asked for more...and more...and more, until we ran out.  I thought it was great, too, and was disappointed to sacrifice any chance at a second helping for the greater good of my kids' health.  This will be a go-to standard.
1 lb fresh broccoli florets
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, pressed or finely chopped
1/3 cup panko
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
salt & pepper
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2) In a large bowl, combine olive oil and garlic.  Allow to infuse for 10 minutes.
3) Meanwhile, chop broccoli into bite-size pieces.
4) Toss broccoli with olive oil and garlic; coat well.
5) Season broccoli with salt and pepper.
6) Toss broccoli with Parmesan and panko until evenly coated.
7) Spread broccoli evenly on baking sheet.  Bake 20 minutes or until broccoli is browned.
Kid Participation: Eat it!


Baked Oatmeal with Peaches

Original Recipe HERE
This is another addition to the ever-expanding collection of baked oatmeal dishes.  I can't help it: they are always a hit, are easy to make, are relatively healthy, and usually only require ingredients I already have.
This can be served naked or with milk, cream, yogurt, or ice cream.  We did a few squirts of whipped cream, naturally...what dinner isn't improved by some Redi-Whip?  I used fresh peaches because they are in season, but I wonder if frozen ones would work as well.  Also, the peaches were the star of the show here; the oatmeal was a wallflower.  Next time I'll substitute cinnamon or nutmeg for the ginger.
3 cups quick cooking oats [I used old-fashioned]
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 cups milk
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil [I substituted applesauce]
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 ripe peaches, diced (peeling optional)
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13" glass baking dish.
2) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients except peaches until well combined.
3) Gently fold in the diced peaches.  Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish.
4) Bake 25-30 minutes, or until set in the middle.
Kid Participation:
* Measure all ingredients
* Whisk oatmeal mixture

Honey Mustard Lentils & Rice

Original Recipe HERE
I took a risk on this one, not sure if it would have enough flavor to appeal to my family nor whether the texture would sit well with them.  The kids all ate some as a side dish - I think the sweetness of the honey was key.  It was a little bland for me...I think fresh onion would've been better.
Next time I will add smoked sausage or something else to turn it into a one-dish meal.  Also, it made a TON of food.  I will definitely cut the ingredient amounts in half.
1 lb green lentils
1 cup brown rice
3 Tablespoons dried minced onion or 1 cup chopped fresh onion [I used dried]
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup mustard [I used Dijon]
1/3 cup honey
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2) In a large mixing bowl, combine lentils, rice, onion, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
3) Pour 7 cups hot water into the lentil mixture.  Stir gently.
4) In a small bowl, combine mustard and honey.  Gently fold into lentil mixture.
5) Pour lentil mixture into a 9x13" glass baking dish.  Cover tightly with foil.
6) Bake 60 minutes, or until rice and lentils are soft.
Kid Participation:
* Measure dry ingredients
* Stirring.  Lots of stirring.

Lemon Sugar Sandwich Cookies

Original Recipe HERE
I made these for *N*'s birthday celebration at school.  Because the class had a Flag Day celebration the same day, I colored half the dough red and the other half blue.  Along with the white filing, they had "American Cookies."
I thought they were good and certainly could've eaten the whole batch myself, but I was underwhelmed at the portions.  The cookies were thinner than I expected (though they looked like the picture from the original page) , as well as so chewy and delicate that I had to be very careful about spreading the filling.  So I thought they wouldn't be a big hit with seven-year olds and was hoping *N* wouldn't be disappointed (or embarrassed) by what her mom brought in.  Turns out that many of the kids in the class loved them - a few even telling her that they were the best cookies they'd ever had.  So, into the permanent file this recipe goes.
I would like to make the cookies more substantial but am not sure how to go about that.  An extra half-cup of flour?  Chill the dough for longer (which the original recipe doesn't call for, but I did anyway) so it doesn't flatten out as much?  More baking soda or powder to have them rise?  This calls for more research, but the cookies are still great as-is.

* For cookies:
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla
sugar for rolling cookie dough, optional [I did not use]
* For filling:
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice [I did not use; I substituted half-n-half or heavy cream]
* For cookies:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2) In a medium bowl, sift or whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3) Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
4) Add egg, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla to butter mixture. Mix until combined.
5) Add flour mixture to wet ingredients. Mix slowly until completely combined.
6) Chill dough for at least half an hour.
7) Spoon out dough with a 1-tablespoon scoop.  Roll dough in sugar to coat (I did not do).
8) Place dough balls on baking sheet about 2" apart. Bake 8-10 minutes (do not allow to brown).
9) Let cookies firm up on baking sheet for about 2 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.
10) Spread a layer of filling on one cookie and sandwich with another.
* For filling:
1) In a medium bowl using an electric mixer, cream butter.
2) Mix in sugar and lemon juice or cream.
3) Add a few drops of yellow food coloring (optional).
Kid Participation:
* Measure dry ingredients
* Measure wet ingredients
* Run mixer (make sure they don't accidentally crank it up to full speed right away and create a flour explosion)
* Scoop dough
* Roll dough balls in sugar

Creamy Spicy Pasta with Peppers and Sausage

Original Recipe HERE
I love alfredo sauces, but I'm the only one in the family.  I don't get it, since the ones I make involve Parmesan and cream cheese and butter and milk...all things the other members eat in spades.  So I thought this was a great pasta dish, but I couldn't tell what others felt.  They all ate their portions, because they contained pasta, and no one here can resist pasta...but the fresh vegetables were pushed to the sides of their plates until I reminded them that they had to finish what they were first served if they wanted any more pasta (which they were then allowed to pick the veggies out of).  I will definitely make it again, maybe subbing in peas or something else they're more likely to eat for one of the peppers.
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound smoked sausage
1 small red onion, halved and sliced thin [I chopped]
4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced and separated
2 colored bell peppers, halved and sliced thin [I chopped]
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
1-1/2 cups water
8 ounces pasta
2 cups 1% milk
3 ounces low-fat cream cheese
1 teaspoon Cajun or Creole seasoning [I improvised with individual spices]
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1) Slice sausage in half lengthwise, then into 1/4" slices.
2) Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage; cook 2-3 minutes or until it begins to brown.
3) Add onions; cook until slightly softened.
4) Add 4 cloves of garlic and bell peppers.  Cook until the peppers are tender-crisp. Transfer the sausage and peppers to a large plate.
5) Add the tomatoes and water to the skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat.
6) Add the pasta.  Cover; reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook until the pasta is al dente and the liquid is absorbed.
7) While the pasta is cooking, blend the milk, cream cheese, Cajun seasoning, smoked paprika, and flour until smooth (I used a Magic Bullet).
8) In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the remaining garlic; cook 1-2 minutes or until tender and fragrant.
9) Add the blended mixture; cook until smooth and thickened into a sauce.
10) Remove the sauce from heat. Add the Parmesan cheese; stir until melted and smooth.
11) Add the peppers and sausage to the pasta/tomato mixture; stir to combine.
12) Add the garlic sauce to pasta or serve on the side.
Kid Participation: None.

Blueberry Mug Muffins

Original Recipe: provided by my mom
This is a fun, quick project for kids to do (unless they dump over flour; then it becomes a laborious chore for me).  The muffins are surprisingly tasty, considering how they're made.  It's one of those things that's easy for me to say "yes" to when they ask, and it makes their day.
1/4 cup white flour
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of cinnamon [or nutmeg]
1/2 Tablespoon butter, melted
2 Tablespoons milk
2 Tablespoons fresh blueberries
1) In a standard-size mug, stir flour, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon together until fully combined.
2) Add butter; stir until uniform.
3) Add milk; stir until uniform.
4) Mix in berries.
5) Microwave on high for 90 seconds.  Muffin will rise during cooking and sink back down afterward. 

Kid Participation: Everything!


Stovetop Black Beans

Original Recipe HERE
I was looking for a side dish that I could whip together and was in the mood for something salty and slightly spicy.  This recipe came up in my Googling.  Super easy to make, can be abandoned until dinner is ready (I made it ahead of time and just let it sit on the stove), and easy to tweak the spices to suit your taste.
I thought it was fantastic, and everyone at the table had at least one helping.  There were six of us eating, and only about half a cup was remaining at the conclusion of dinner.  I would double the recipe next time to get decent leftovers.
2 cans (14 oz each) black beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
2/3 cup diced onion
2 or 3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
2/3 cup broth or water
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 lime [or bottled lime juice]
(1) In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
(2) Add onions; saute several minutes until becoming translucent.
(3) Add garlic; saute 30 seconds more.
(4) Add beans, broth, and seasonings.
(5) Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low simmer; cook about 7 minutes.
(6) Remove from heat.  Add several squirts of lime juice.
(7) Use the back of a spoon, potato masher, or spatula to smush beans to desired consistency.  Beans will thicken more upon standing.
Kid Participation: None.

Fresh Corn Salad

Original Recipe HERE
This was a refreshing summer salad that would be great to share at a picnic.  I believe the key is to use fresh corn instead of frozen or canned.  The original recipe says it yields about 5 cups of salad, but I didn't measure it.  The kids weren't big fans, but the adults liked it and were happy to have leftovers hold up well until the next day.
I forgot to add the fresh basil and it tasted fine as-is, but I imagine it would only improve it.  Also, I threw in more than 1/2 cup of feta.
4 ears fresh corn, husks and silk removed
1 package (10 oz) grape tomatoes
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1-1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
2-1/2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
(1) Add corn to a large pot of boiling water.  Cook about 5 minutes (do not exceed 8).
(2) Immediately put corn into a bowl of ice water for a few minutes.
(3) While corn is being prepared, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. 
(4) Cut tomatoes in half; add to bowl with dressing.
(5) Add green onions and basil to tomato mixture.
(6) Cut corn kernels from cobs; add to tomato mixture.
(7) Gently stir in feta.
(8) Cover.  Refrigerate several hours for best results.
Kid Participation:
* shuck (husk?) corn
* get covered in mosquito bites from shucking corn outside


Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal

Original Recipe HERE
I'm realizing that I turn to "brinner" meals a lot more than I'd ever intended to, but they're so easy and kid-pleasing that it's hard not to make them a weekly staple.  And then I wonder...why do I feel like I shouldn't rely on them so often?  Food is food, and other than the amounts of sugar and eggs (which can often be modified or substituted), these things are usually pretty healthy.  Bring on another baked oatmeal recipe!
This did resemble apple pie in taste and, somewhat, in texture and presentation.  I squirted a little surprise whipped cream on each kid's serving, which solidified the likeness.
I used a mix of Granny Smith and Fuji apples, and I doubled the amount of the "filling" because I knew the original amounts wouldn't be enough (altered amounts are shown below).  Sure enough, the four of us (minus Husband) just about finished a 9x13" dish of this stuff.  A little - though not enough for my liking - was left for breakfast the next day.

UPDATE: I made this again, and it was drier than the first time.  I think I accidentally added too many oats, because the oatmeal mostly sat on top of the apples and cooked into a solid layer.  Next time I'll try stirring the apples and oatmeal mixture together and baking that way.
* For the apple layer:
5 medium apples
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 to 4 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves [can substitute nutmeg]

* For the oatmeal layer:
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 cups milk
2-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats

(1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease a 9x13" baking dish.
(2) Peel apples if desired.  Cut apples into 1/2" to 1" cubes. 
(3) In a medium bowl, whisk lemon juice, corn starch, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves.
(4) Add apples to spice mixture; toss until well-coated.  Spread in an even layer in the bottom of the baking dish.
(5) In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, apple sauce, vanilla, salt, baking powder, brown sugar, and cinnamon. 
(6) Add milk; whisk again.
(7) Add oats; stir until well-combined.
(8) Pour oat mixture evenly over apples.
(9) Bake oatmeal for 45 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and no longer wet in the center.
Kid Participation:
* Whisk spice mixture
* Toss (though not literally) apples with spice mixture
* Whisk oatmeal mixture
* Spoon oatmeal mixture over apples


Lemon Almond Bread

Original Recipe HERE
This stuff was so good.  The lemon zest and juice made all the difference, and the tartness complimented the mild almond flavor well.  It is definitely a dessert bread, though I disregarded that fact and had it with every meal (and in between meals).
My only complaint is that there wasn't a taste of glaze in every bite.  I'd like to make this in muffin form in the hopes of rectifying that minor flaw.

* For the bread:
1-1/2 cups all-purpose white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup white sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon zest
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
* For the lemon glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1-1/2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons sliced almonds, for garnishing [I did not use]
(1) Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9x5" loaf pan
(2) In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder.
(3) In a small bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest. Rub together with fingers until fragrant.
(4) Whisk sugar into the flour mixture.
(5) In a medium bowl, combine almond milk, oil, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla, and almond extract.
(6) Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir until combined; pour batter into loaf pan.
(7) Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
(8) Place the loaf on a cooling rack; cool for 15 minutes.
(9) Loosen the sides of the bread with a knife; remove loaf from pan. Let cool completely on wire rack.
(10) Meanwhile, combine powdered sugar, lemon juice, and almond extract in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle glaze over bread. Sprinkle sliced almonds over the bread if desired.
Kid Participation:
* Measure dry ingredients
* Sift dry ingredients
* Lemon-ify sugar
* Measure wet ingredients
* Stir batter
* Whisk glaze
* Sprinkle almonds

West African Peanut Soup

Original Recipe HERE
So...I don't know what to say about this recipe and its success.  I thought it was great.  *N* also requested several helpings.  The boys didn't really complain (because *J* makes it quite clear when he's horrified that I dared serve something so disgusting), but they didn't finish their bowls.  I scooped it over brown rice, and I reheated it for lunch the following two days.
I added some salt after taste-testing, and I think it would've been fine if I'd just chopped up fresh spinach and didn't hunt down the collard greens.  I'd also consider using powdered ginger for convenience.
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 sweet potato, peeled & diced into 1/2" pieces
1 large onion
1 bell pepper [I used red]
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic
1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
4 cups vegetable broth
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
3/4 cup natural peanut butter
3/4 cup water
1 bunch collard greens
Salt and pepper
Cilantro and peanuts to garnish (optional) [I did not use]

(1) Heat sesame oil in a large pot over medium heat.
(2) Add sweet potato; saute.
(3) Meanwhile, chop onion, bell pepper, and garlic.  Grate ginger.
(4) Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, ginger, and cayenne to pot.  Cook 15 minutes.
(5) Add broth and tomatoes.  Bring soup to a simmer; cook an additional 15 minutes.
(6) Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together peanut butter and water until smooth.
(7) Wash greens.  Cut out and discard stems.  Slice remaining portions into 1" pieces.
(8) Add peanut butter mixture and greens to soup.  Cook for 10 minutes.
(9) Blend about 2 cups of the soup (I used an immersion blender) for a thicker texture if desired.
(10) Season with salt and pepper.  Serve into bowls; top with cilantro and peanuts if using.
Kid Participation: None.

Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Original Recipe HERE

My kids love baked oatmeal dishes (especially when I serve them it with baked pears), and I was looking to whip together something slightly easier and just for a change of pace.  The entire dish would've been eaten in one night if we didn't have to wolf down dinner and leave for gymnastics.
Because I needed this to cook faster, I put it in a 9x13" dish and baked covered for 20 minutes and uncovered for 10-15.  The texture was more oatmeal-y and less firm than my usual recipe, which was fine.  I also didn't have any eggs, so I substituted several tablespoons of egg whites - whether that made a difference, I'll test in future makings.  I suspect it was the greater amount of pumpkin instead.  Also, I'd probably increase the amount of pumpkin pie spice - or at least add cinnamon.
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin purée
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups milk
2-1/2 cups dry old-fashioned oats
(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8x8" baking dish.
(2) In a large bowl, whisk pumpkin, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, pie spice, salt, and baking powder until smooth.
(3) Whisk in milk.
(4) Add oats to pumpkin mixture; stir until well combined.  Pour into prepared pan.
(5)  Cover pan with foil.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil; bake an additional 10-15 minutes.

Kid Participation:
* Whisk together ingredients
* Measure oats

Lentil Soup with Sausage

Original Recipe HERE
This is a handy, basic soup recipe to have on hand - it may not blow anyone's mind, but it was a winner in both the Ease of Preparation and Taste categories.  I always have the ingredients - or something close - ready to go.  The kids liked after adding shredded cheddar and shredded smoked gouda, and I'm sure serving it with a little sour cream would've made them happy, too.
1 cup dry green lentils
1 cup chopped onion
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
4 cups beef broth [I did half beef and half chicken]
1 can (15 oz) petite-diced tomatoes, undrained
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme or oregano [I used oregano]
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
1/2 to 1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 pound pre-cooked smoked sausage links, sliced – or chopped ham [I used chicken sausage]
(1) Rinse lentils; drain.  Soak in a bowl of water while other preparations are completed.
(2) In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion; cook several minutes until tender but not brown.
(3) Add garlic; stir.  Saute a few minutes, avoiding browning.
(4) Drain lentils.  Add to pot along with broth, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, thyme or oregano, pepper, and bay leaf.
(5) Bring soup to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.
(6) Add carrots and celery.  Simmer an additional 15-20 minutes or until lentils and vegetables are tender.
(7) Add sausage; heat through.  Discard bay leaf.
Kid Participation: None.


Cauliflower "Fried Rice"

Original Recipe HERE
My kids like Chinese food, so I thought something that tasted like it could be a winner.  They could've eaten this stuff for their entire dinner and had nothing else.  There wasn't a single scoop left in the pan...so much for seeing how leftovers would hold up.  My mom was here, and she asked several times after she left for the recipe.
This recipe is good because the vegetables can be increased or substituted without affecting the base.  The cauliflower didn't crisp up as much as I'd expected.  I'd followed the original recipe's instructions to cover the skillet, and I think that didn't let enough moisture escape.  Also, I'd decrease the amount of soy sauce a bit.
1 medium head (about 24 oz) cauliflower
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
2 egg whites
1 large egg
pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, diced fine
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
5 scallions, diced (white parts only)
2 to 3 Tablespoons soy sauce

(1) Remove the core of the cauliflower; chop into coarse florets.  Rinse and allow to dry completely (I helped this along with a colander and dish towel).
(2) Place half the cauliflower in a food processor.  Pulse until small and has the texture of rice or couscous.
(3) Repeat with remaining cauliflower.
(4) Combine egg and egg whites in a small bowl.
(5) Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil.
(6) Add eggs to skillet.  Cook, turning several times, until done.  Remove eggs; set aside.
(7) Add sesame oil to skillet.  Saute onions, scallions, peas, carrots, and garlic 3-4 minutes or until soft.
(8) Add cauliflower and soy sauce to skillet.  Cook 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently, until cauliflower is slightly crispy but still tender.
(9) Add egg to skillet.  Stir until all ingredients are heated through and evenly combined.
Kid Participation: None.

Turkey Meatloaf Florentine

Original Recipe HERE
No one in my family screams for joy when I say we're having meatloaf, so I very rarely serve it.  I thought this turkey version might be a little lighter and different enough to win them over.  I even made it in the muffin tin so that we each had cute little individual ones...sometimes, with kids, presentation is everything.  They all said they liked it that night, but the next day they changed their tune.  I guess it's not a do-again, but I liked it enough to hang onto hope that someday they'll come around.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced onion
2 cups baby spinach, packed and then chopped
1 pound lean ground turkey [my package was 1.3 pounds]
1 egg
1 cup bread crumbs [I used Italian seasoned]
3/4 cup ketchup, divided
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
salt, pepper, and other seasonings, to taste
1 to 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
(1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease a 9x5" loaf pan.
(2) In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion; saute 5 minutes or until tender.
(3) Add spinach; cover skillet and stir occasionally until wilted.
(4) In a large mixing bowl, combine turkey, egg, bread crumbs, 1/4 cup ketchup, Worcestershire, and seasonings.
(5) Add spinach mixture to turkey mixture.  Stir until well combined.
(6) Press turkey mixture into loaf pan.
(7) In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar.  Spread evenly over turkey mixture.
(8) Bake 45-55 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads at least 165 degrees.
(9) Allow meatloaf to sit and cool for 10 minutes.  Slice and serve.
Kid Participation: None.

Chickpea "Tots"

Original Recipe HERE
My kids thought these were great: many were consumed at dinner, and they were happy to hear there was leftover dough to make some more the following day.  Naturally, they were dipped in ketchup.  I wasn't blown away by them, but they were a somewhat nutritious side dish (or snack) that they had fun helping with, so I will make them again and see if it was a fluke or if this should be a reliable option.
2 cans (15 oz each) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 large egg
1 garlic clove
1 cup Panko
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheddar

(1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
(2) Add all ingredients to a food processor.  Process until it's a smooth and uniform dough; remove from processor.
(3) Take a small handful of dough at a time and roll it into a "snake" about 3/4" in diameter.  Cut into 1" pieces.  Flatten or round edges if desired.
(4) Grease a baking sheet or use a silpat or parchment.  Bake tots for 10 minutes on one side.  Turn them over; bake for an additional 5 minutes (or until golden and crispy).
Kid Participation: Shape tots into snakes.


Spinach, Mushroom, & Caramelized Onion Pasta

Original Recipe HERE

This mean was semi-approved by the kids.  They really liked the pasta and cheese sauce, which was not a surprise.  They didn't like the vegetables, which was also not a surprise.  I will save this for a meal when we have enough adults to consume and appreciate it.

Prepared as directed in the original recipe, the sauce never thickened and was very watery.  I would've liked it to cling to the pasta and vegetables more and pool at the bottom of my bowl less.  I changed the instructions, as listed below, to make the sauce separately.

Shredded mozzarella (or cheese of choice) might help everything stick together better.  Also, it might be good with freshly chopped tomatoes mixed in at the end (or canned petite diced tomatoes during cooking).  A bit of tomato paste in the sauce could be good, too.
8 to 12 oz pasta
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
6 oz package babys pinach leaves
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup milk
salt & pepper to taste
broth as needed
(1) Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
(2) Add onions.  Cook, stirring frequently, 20-30 minutes or until onions are caramelized.  Add broth, 1 tablespoons at a time, as needed to avoid burning and sticking.
(3) Just before onions are done, add balsamic; stir.  Scrape up all bits from bottom of pan.  Remove onions and set aside.
(4) Begin preparing pasta according to package directions
(5) Meanwhile, heat oil in original pan over medium heat.  Add garlic; saute 1-2 minutes.
(6) Add mushrooms and a sprinkle of salt.  Cook about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until mushrooms have softened.
(7) Turn off heat.  Return onions to pan.  Add spinach; stir until wilted.
(8) In a small saucepan, heat milk until simmering.  Add Parmesan.  Cook, stirring frequently, until well combined and thickened.  Add additional cheese or a tablespoon of flour if necessary.  Season sauce with salt and pepper if desired.
(9) Serve pasta with a scoop of vegetables and desired amount of sauce.

Kid Participation: None.


Coconut Garlic Chicken

Original Recipe HERE

I was really skeptical about this recipe - how could coconut, garlic, and vinegar come together and yield anything but nastiness?  But the original poster promised it was good, so I was game to try.

The taste was interesting but better than expected.  Everyone in the family liked the sauce; kids asked for several helpings of it over the rice.  I should've cooked and shredded the chicken ahead of time and just added it to the sauce as it thickened up; leaving it in pieces meant the kids could easily pick them out.

I will cut the vinegar amount by half next time (original amounts of everything are listed below).  Also, I'd probably add some sliced green onions for garnish and taste.  My sauce never thickened, so expect it to look watery.  Precooking and shredding the chicken would make throwing this dish together super quick and give the sauce a bit more substance.
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, diced small
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1 can (14-15oz) light coconut milk
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup fresh cilantro [optional; I did not use]
salt & pepper to taste
rice or other grain for serving
(1) Heat coconut oil over medium heat in a non-stick skillet.
(2) Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper.  Add to skillet; saute about 2 minutes.
(3) Add vinegar and garlic to pan.  Cook until most liquid has cooked off.
(4) Add coconut milk.
(5) Turn heat ot medium.  Cook, stirring occasionally, 8-10 minutes or until liquid thickens and chicken is cooked through.
(6) Season with additional salt and pepper.  Top with cilantro and serve over rice or grains.

Kid Participation: None.

Apple & Oat Breakfast Cookies

Original Recipe HERE

I think this is a very functional recipe: it is easy to make, tasty and filling, and handy to take one on-the-go.  That said, I wasn't completely sold on the texture...it was overly moist, bordering on soggy (yet no doubt fully baked).  Maybe it was because I used a different type of flour?  Maybe it was all the apple sauce?  Maybe that's just the way it's supposed to be?  I baked some with parchment and some with a silpat, and the parchment ones were a little drier (in a good way).  The recipe yielded about 20 cookies that I stored uncovered for three days, and they never got stale.

I will definitely make them again because everyone in the family liked them - maybe try pears?  However, I might slightly decrease the amount of applesauce and will try substitutes for the oil.  Also, I made them gigantic like the original recipe says, and smaller cookies would be more practical.
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour or white wheat flour [I used half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour]
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped [I did not use]
2-1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup canola oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 apples, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
(2) In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and walnuts.
(3) In a separate bowl, whisk together applesauce, oil, and eggs.
(4) Add wet ingredients to dry; stir until thoroughly combined.
(5) Fold in apples.
(6) Scoop 1/4 to 1/2 cups of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Slightly flatten each cookie and shape into a roughly uniform circle shape.
(7) Bake 20-25 minutes (mine took 25), or until tops are firm.  Let cookies set on baking sheet for several minutes; transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Kid Participation:
* Whisk dry ingredients
* Whisk wet ingredients
* Stir batter
* Scoop batter onto baking sheets (if you don't care about precision)

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Original Recipe HERE

Not a healthy banana bread.  There is no justifying that this is "good" for you - at least, for your waistline.  So good for your spirit, though.  I'd mess around with substitutes for the copious amounts of butter and sugar, trying to make this less guilt-inducing...but I fear then it would lose its essence.  So I will relegate it to the "occasional treat" list and enjoy every morsel when I do have it.

I assume these could be made into muffins and will probably try that next time.  Helps with portion control.  As with almost every baked good, this tasted better the next day: the flavors were stronger and the bread had "settled" and was a bit denser.
3 medium or large bananas, very ripe
1/2 cup butter (one stick), melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon [optional]
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips [I used semi-sweet mini chips]
(1) Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9x5" loaf pan.
(2) Mash bananas thoroughly in a large bowl.
(3) Whisk melted butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla into the bananas.
(4) In a separate bowl, sift together baking soda, salt, cinnamon, flour, and cocoa powder.
(5) Add dry ingredients to wet; stir until just combined.
(6) Stir in chocolate chips.
(7) Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake 55-65 minutes (minute took almost 65) or until a knife inserted into the center comes out batter-free.
(8) Cool bread in pan for 10-15 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack.  Once fully cooled, store wrapped in foil.

Kid Participation:
* Mash bananas
* Crack egg
* Whisk wet ingredients
* Add dry ingredients to wet
* Pour batter into pan

White Chicken Chili

Original Recipe HERE
I simplified the original recipe a lot, both for convenience (I didn't feel like hunting down a variety of peppers) and the sake of hoping my kids would eat it (because they don't like super spicy things).  So it's really just a basic white chicken chili recipe now.  But that's OK, because everyone loved it.  Even my picky *J* said he, "LOVED it!"
My kids aren't big meat eaters, and they turn their noses up to chicken most of the time.  I knew I'd have better luck getting them to eat it if I incorporated it into the dish better than cubing it would.  So I cooked the chicken that afternoon and shredded it with the KitchenAid paddle.  No one complained at mealtime.
I ran out of cumin and couldn't find my chili powder, so I added a few shakes of Cuban seasoning to make up for it.  It was still pretty mild, but I could taste a hint of the jalapenos so it wasn't too bland.  Spices and seasonings and heat factor can be easily tweaked.  As expected, the kids added plenty of sour cream and cheese on top. 
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 Tablespoon ground cumin
1½ teaspoons chili powder
¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups broth
3 cans (15 oz) cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups chopped cooked chicken [I used shredded]
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ cup heavy cream [optional; I forgot it]
garnishes: lime wedges, shredded cheese, cilantro, sour cream
rice [optional]
(1) Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
(2) Add onions, jalapeno, cumin, chili powder, paprika, cayenne, and salt.  Cook until vegetables have softened, about 7 minutes.
(3) Meanwhile, drain and rinse one can of beans.  Mash thoroughly.
(3) Add garlic.  Cook an additional minute (do not allow garlic to brown).
(4) Add flour; stir in thoroughly.  Cook for about 1 minute.
(5) Add mashed beans.
(6) Stir in remaining 2 cans of beans, chicken, and lime juice.  Bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low; cook about 20 minutes.
(7) Add heavy cream.  Serve with garnishes and by itself or over rice.
Kid Participation: None, other than require me to grate several rounds of cheese for toppings.  Kids like them some cheese.