Lunch Improvements

I haven’t been meal planning lunches for the kids lately. I haven’t needed to. I think it just took three weeks of planning and trying new things to help me come up with creative menu ideas on the fly. We haven’t been eating chicken nuggets or fish sticks lately, which was my goal. The kids still aren’t eating many vegetables, but I’m trying.

Oh, I’m trying.

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Cucumber Spider

I have two meals that the kids will eat consistently. The easiest is English muffin pizzas. Toast an English muffin, top it with sauce and cheese, then broil it until the cheese melts. Add a vegetable and a fruit. Easy peasy.

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The meal that is most often requested is “cocktail party” dinner. Audrey asks for this for almost every meal. It is small bits on a plate, like you would eat at a cocktail party. Karen gave me the idea to put meat and cheese on a pretzel skewer, and it has been a huge hit. I try to do something fun to the plate every time, today it was mustard sunglasses for dipping the turkey.

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I am pleased that the kids are not eating as many chicken nuggets. Now that we’ve discovered cocktail party lunches I’m having fun changing them up. I’m always looking for new things to add to the rotation, so if you have any ideas send them my way.

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Tikka Masala Meal Kit

I am super excited because tonight John and I are heading out for a date night. We get to eat sushi and drink wine and there will be no one there asking “Why?” about everything she sees and no one throwing sippy cups of milk and then screaming “DAT’S A GAME.” At least I really hope John doesn’t start doing those things.

Going out to eat is a nice treat. I cook most of our meals. Most nights John and I eat later than the kids, which means I cook four meals a day. I like cooking, but by the fourth meal I just don’t care. I need a break. Which is why, when I stumbled upon meal kids at Aldi for Indian food I snapped one up.20180603_1850222148657.jpg

I love Indian food, but we rarely get it. Our favorite restaurant is out-of-the-way, so we end up choosing easier options. Lately we’ve been eating Trader Joe’s freezer meals if we want an Indian food fix. I have made it from scratch, but that takes a lot of time. My hope was this box would provide at home like Indian food in much less time that was better than freezer food.

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My review: It was fine. It took little effort. It was inexpensive (I think around $3 for the box). It made five servings. I felt the rice was sufficient, but I would have liked more chicken. I always want more chicken though, so that isn’t exactly surprising (that should be on my tombstone – “she wanted more chicken.”). I’ll probably get it again, as it seems like a good thing to have in my cupboard for nights that I don’t know what to cook. I would not recommend getting this if you want delicious Indian food.

Do you have anything you keep in your cupboard for nights you don’t feel like cooking?

 

Butterscotch Revel Bars

I have a problem. A baking problem. I can’t get enough of it. It is a problem because most recipes make 12-24 servings and there are only 4 of us in our home. That means we are stuck eating all of whatever I make. I suppose I could freeze some of the treats, but the truth is neither John nor I are good at moderation when it comes to sweets.

After weeks of looking at a recipe for Chocolate Revel Bars I had pulled out of my latest issue of Cooks Country I decided it was time to make them. I opted for the butterscotch version, as we are big butterscotch fans in our house.

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Oh my wow. These suckers are delicious. Imagine using the topping for apple crisp (oatmeal, brown sugar, flour, almonds, and a shameful amount of butter)  as a cookie bottom layer. Now imagine that is topped with a mixture of butter, butterscotch chips, and sweetened condensed milk. The top layer is even more of the crumb topping.

Are you drooling yet? You should be. These heavenly bars are almost gone. I brought some to my book club this afternoon to help us get through them. John is in charge of eating the rest. They are amazing but incredibly unhealthy (337 calories each!).

These are now my go to pot luck dessert recipe. I can only be trusted to make them when I can get them out of my house. I really want to make them again, so please invite me to a party at your house. I promise to bring delicious treats.

These are from Cooks Country magazine. The website is a subscription, so it doesn’t work for me to post a link to it. I am able to e-mail the recipe from the site however, so if you are interested in the recipe leave me a comment with your e mail address and I’ll get it to you. If you don’t feel like leaving your e mail address out in a public space, you could send me a message on Instagram (I’m mildly_granola over there).

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to eat the crumbs John has left behind. I said I was done with the bars, but I didn’t say I was done with bar remnants.

Crazy Spaghetti

In an effort to find something that Audrey and Elliot would eat using only things we had in the house (because I didn’t want to go to the grocery store) I stumbled on to a dish that they both enjoyed: Crazy Spaghetti.

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Crazy Spaghetti is a mix of the leftover pasta we had at our house, some mini meatballs we had to use up, and a jar of pasta sauce. I just boiled up the pasta and dumped it in a 9 X 13 baking dish with a jar of pasta sauce and the meatballs. I topped it with a small amount of asiago and parmesan cheese (maybe 1/4 cup). I baked it at 350 for about 20 minutes (until it was hot) and served it to the kids

Shockingly they both loved it. I’m not sure if it was the mini meatballs, the two kinds of pasta, or the lie that I told them about it being Goofy’s favorite food. I don’t care why they decided to eat it, I’m just happy they ate a meal without complaining.

5 on Friday: More Aldi Finds

Last week I shared some of my favorite Aldi finds. This week I thought I would share five more things to check out at Aldi. Aldi has so many great products I want to tell you about – I couldn’t limit myself to one post.

Half & Half ($1.99)

20180503_162516892617623.jpgI take my coffee with cream. I drink a lot of coffee. This is a great price on an item I use daily.

 

 

 

 

 

Costal Cove Sauvignon Blanc ($6.99)

20180503_161950137089954.jpgSummer is white wine time in my house. It’s great for drinking on the patio. Most of the time I tell myself I’m going to drink a bottle over the course of the week, but I only have two glasses and the I pour the rest down the drain later that week.  At $6.99 this wine tastes like a $12 bottle (that is high praise in my book). I still feel bad pouring out wine that has gone bad, but when the whole bottle costs less than a glass when we go out to dinner it doesn’t sting as much.

 

Pane Turano Italian Bread ($3.69)

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Honestly, this bread alone is worth a trip to Aldi. My parents go to Aldi just for his bread. They are the ones that introduced me to this bread, which is why my kids call it crunchy Grandma Runchey bread. The bread is crunchy and makes the best toast I have ever had. It is a huge loaf. We usually freeze half of it. You can toast the frozen bread straight from the freezer. This bread also makes amazing grilled cheese and egg in the hole.

Fancy Cherry Tomatoes ($3.69)

20180503_1624592030155897.jpgI could not buy all of my produce at Aldi. The selection changes constantly and they never have all of the produce I am looking for. One thing that is consistently available and always good quality is their cherry tomatoes. I love cherry tomatoes. They are a great snack off the vine, and they are good sliced and added to sandwiches. My favorite way to eat them is to sautee them in some truffle oil with a handful of spinach, then scramble some eggs in with them and top that scramble with goat cheese.

 

Stir in Pastes (2.49 each)

20180503_1617181403889719.jpgI cook with ginger and garlic a lot. I usually use whole garlic cloves and grate my own ginger. There are times when I don’t have those on hand and I am not able to cook what I want to cook. It’s at those times that I reach for paste. Once opened, they keep for four weeks in your refrigerator. I don’t think these are going to replace fresh ingredients in my kitchen, but they are great to keep on hand for ingredient emergencies.

 

I get so excited talking about my love for Aldi. Do you have any stores that you get excited to talk about?

Camp Snacks

Tomorrow I’m packing up the kids and driving four hours to camp with my friend Kirsten and her two kids. We will have four kids under four in a camper. We are clearly insane.

Because I imagine it is going to be a crazy weekend I wanted to get some of the work done before we left. I also wanted to make sure we had some healthyish items. I threw together a few things that I think the kids will like to eat. As an added bonus Kirsten and I will like them too. 20180510_195417436169163.jpg

I’m still on my hummus high, so I made some more sun-dried tomato and basil hummus. I sliced up some bell peppers to use for dipping sticks. I am also bringing crackers for the hummus.

For quick snacks and an on the go breakfast I made some peanut butter energy bites. These are basically no bake cookies, so I think the kids will love them.

I am on the e-mail list for volunteer recipe testers for Cooks Illustrated, and just this week they sent out a recipe to test for raw fruit and nut bars. I thought they looked good so we are trying them out this weekend. They have dates, dried cherries, almonds, and cinnamon. They are basically the homemade Lara bars I’ve been making for years, but with smaller bits of almond. I think the kids will like the texture of these better.

Do you have any make ahead snacks you like to take on trips?