The Kitchen: Not Just a Place to Cook

If there’s one thing that can tear your youngsters away from their tablets, smartphones or video games, cooking might just be it. Children love working some culinary magic in the kitchen. It gives them a chance to get their hands dirty and, best of all, they can eat the results! Also, you get the chance to spend some quality time with your tots this way, and you can rest assured you’re providing them with some valuable life skills.

There are certain classics that almost all children like to cook, including pizzas, chocolate brownies, and fairy cakes. However, if you’re looking for recipes that are fun and easy to prepare but healthier, reach for your slow cooker. You can use these handy devices to cook nutritious dishes that your youngsters will enjoy creating and eating.

Children and sandwiches go hand in hand. These snacks are perfect for packed lunches and parties. An excellent version to try with your brood is slow-cooked pork. To serve six, you’ll need the following:

  • 2 pounds of pork shoulder
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  •  1 chopped garlic clove
  • 1 pinch of salt and pepper
  •  1/2 cup of cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of barbecue sauce
  • 6 six sandwich rolls
  • Your own choice of salad ingredients.

To make, place the pork in your slow cooker and rub with the brown sugar, garlic, salt and pepper. Then add the vinegar plus 1/2 cup of water. Cover and cook on high for 4 to 5 hours until the meat is tender. Once removed from the cooker, shred the meat and mix in the barbeque sauce. Serve on the rolls along with a salad. Your children will love the sweet, comforting taste.

The Kitchen: Not Just a Place to Cook

For a hearty family meal, few things beat a stew and this beef version is bound to wet your kids’ appetites. For six servings, you’ll need:

  • 2 lbs of beef stew meat cut into one-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup of plain flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 1 chopped garlic clove
  • 1.5 cups of beef stock
  • 3 diced potatoes
  • 4 sliced carrots
  • 1 chopped celery stalk.

To prepare, coat the meat in seasoned flour and place in your slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients, cover and cook on high for 4 to 6 hours. The dish works a treat with creamy mash potatoes.

Whichever dishes you decide to create, leave plenty of time and make sure your kids aren’t wearing their best clothes. Children are remarkably adept at decorating themselves with even the most unexpected ingredients! Last but by no means least, remember to have fun. This is as much about the process as the results. 

“Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

Learning The Ins and Outs of Frozen Crock Pot Meals

I never have been that great at being a chef, honestly if you wanted a grilled cheese I would have told you the best bet was to make it yourself and my kids would have said the same. You see, I was famous for burning grilled cheese; all.the.time. Yet now, as I work to create a family life for the first time in a few years, one that truly feels home and family-ish to me, I have wanted to make better meals. We all have to fight our horrible metabolism in our family gene pool so making better meals was a must for our health. While I still include menu items that maybe are not all healthy, I feel this is a step up and I am more about balance than cutting one thing out of our diet completely.

Testing out Frozen Crock Pot Meals

 

For our first week testing out some frozen crock pot meals, I created hot italian sausages, pineapple glazed ham, teriyaki pork chops, and chicken cacciatore. These meals were all prepared ahead of time over the prior weekend and let me tell you what, preparing meals ahead of time really makes for a yummy smelling kitchen and freezer all week long! I can give you feedback on each of these recipes, because the family has already chomped down on them;

  • Hot Italian Sausages – was a no go, we will not make this again. We much prefer the crispy texture of sausage and these were too tender for our liking.
  • Pineapple Glazed Ham – this was okay, but not that great. While the ham was delicious this recipe shouldn’t have so much crushed pineapple in it next time around.
  • Teriyaki Pork Chops – This was a total win! Our family loved the flavor and texture of these pork chops, served over rice with green beans.
  • Chicken Cacciatore – this was a total two thumbs up from my fiance and tween! The taste was perfect and while the recipe didn’t say to do so, we shredded the chicken in the sauce after it had cooked for the full term, creating a better mixed up option and the family loved it served over white rice.

The above recipes were derived from Slow Cooker Freezer Meals offered on Six Sisters’ Stuff website.

More Frozen Crock Pot Meal Planning

 

This week we will try some different frozen crock pot meals, I am having so much fun finding recipes online and changing them up to fit our family. This week we will try the following frozen crock pot meals that are sitting in the freezer waiting to be taken out to enjoy;

  • Chicken & Dumplings
  • Beef Barley Stew (I replaced barely with white rice)
  • Curry Chicken
  • Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli and Potatoes
  • Pulled Pork

There was a sixth recipe, all were taken from TheBusyBudgetingMama.com website, this sixth recipe was for lasagna/pasta sauce but I decided to create my own meat sauce to freeze for a spaghetti dinner later in the week instead.

Brandy Ellen's Meat Sauce Recipe

 

 Brandy Ellen’s Meat Sauce Recipe – Freeze and Use Later

Ingredients:

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 28oz can of Diced Tomatoes
  • 24oz jar of Spaghetti Sauce
  • 2 Gloves of Garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • Optional; 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1 Resealable Freezer Bag

Let’s Get Started:

  1.  Brown the ground hamburg with white rice and garlic mixed in.
  2. Drain browned hamburg, add spaghetti sauce. Cook on low for 8 minutes while stirring ingredients together.
  3. Add 28oz can of diced tomatoes and italian seasoning together in freezer bag.
  4. Label freezer bag “Meat Sauce” also note the date on bag to ensure you use it within a week of freezing.
  5. Let hamburg, rice, garlic and spaghetti sauce cool down.
  6. Add cooled down hamburger mixture into freezer bag and seal tight.
  7. Place in Freezer for future use.

Enjoy: Set the freezer bag of meat sauce out one day ahead of time to ensure it has time to thaw out. Cook in sauce pan over low/medium heat until reaches desired temperature. Use on top of spaghetti or any favorite pasta choice.

Preparing Breakfast Burritos to Freeze and Serve

I ran across a great idea while looking for frozen crock pot meals, frozen breakfast burritos that you make not buy from a box. Yes, you heard that right. It is amazing the things you can prepare on a weekend, when you have a bit more time than a week day and then heat up to heat later in the week. As a busy work from home mom of three, I am all about finding ways to make more time with my kids. Creating these breakfast burritos will allow before school time run smoother and it gives your family a quick breakfast option for a busy day. This idea is derived from the recipe found at GoodenessGracious.com.

Breakfast Burritos Recipe to Make & Freeze

This is such an easy task to do on a Sunday; I plan to make these differently each week.

For starters this is a recipe for breakfast burritos that have ham, egg and shredded cheese in them. You will need the following to do this:

  • Paper Towels
  • Scrambled Eggs (already prepared/cooked by you)
  • Shredded Cheese (any flavor preferred by your family)
  • Pre-cooked Chunks of Ham
  • Tortilla Wraps
  • 1 Gallon Resealable Freezer Bag

Breakfast Burritos Recipe to Make & Freeze

Optional fillings to replace current listed ingredients or ones to add to this recipe:

  • Chopped green Peppers
  • Chopped Onion
  • Ground pre-cooked Sausage
  • Pre-cooked bacon

Breakfast Burritos to prepare and Freeze (1)

I chose to cook about 6 eggs into scrambled format and this created about 10 breakfast burritos to freeze. My whole family won’t eat these, just about 3 of them will enjoy these for breakfast so I kept that in mind when preparing these frozen breakfast burritos for my family. I am not sure how long these will keep in the freezer, so I won’t store them longer than one week in my home.

How to Make the Breakfast Burritos -

  1. Make sure your eggs are fully scrambled to your liking.
  2. Cut up ham into about 1/4 square pieces.
  3. Have shredded cheese ready to grab.
  4. Take one soft tortilla wrap and place scrambled eggs in middle of wrap.
  5. Proceed to add your fillings one by one on top of the eggs; keep in mind this wrap has to fold up in a burrito style fold.
  6. Once the wrap is full of ingredients you wish to add, wrap it into burrito style fold up.
  7. Take one paper towel and wrap over each burrito, individually wrapped.
  8. Place all individually wrapped breakfast burritos into a resealable freezer bag and place in freezer.
  9. Optional – Label freezer bag with what type of breakfast burritos are in this bag and date that you froze it.

How to enjoy a breakfast burrito for breakfast during the week -

Simply heat one breakfast burrito for 90 seconds, while microwave ovens may vary in temperature, this is the time that has worked well for my family.

Let cool. Serve and enjoy!

What ingredients would you place inside your frozen breakfast burritos?

Breaded Garlic Chicken Chunks Dinner Recipe #recipe #foodie

I have been on a mission to stop cooking boxed meals for dinner. Being that I wasn’t that great of a cook and didn’t spend time learning, I always reached for that boxed meal. The time came when I realized I could get more for my dollar if I started cooking from scratch. The first cookbook that really helped get my creative cooking juices flowing was $5 Dinner Mom, I highly recommend this book. I now work to create my own dinner meal ideas so that my large family can have more food without us breaking the bank to feed them. Today I share with you my Breaded Garlic Chicken Chunks Dinner recipe, the other day I shared my Chicken Parm for Larger Families Recipe.

Breaded Garlic Chicken Chunks Recipe for Dinner

Breaded Garlic Chicken Chunks
Serves 5
A delicious treat of garlic and chicken for the cold winter season.
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Cook Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 2 tbs minced garlic
  2. 1 1/3 cups olive oil
  3. 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
  4. 2 cups bread crumbs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Heat garlic & olive oil until warm on stove top.
  3. Cut chicken breasts into 1" chunks
  4. Place chicken chunks in a bowl. Place breading in a bowl. Place the garlic & oil mix in another bowl. 3 Bowls total.
  5. Dip chicken chunks into garlic and oil bowl.
  6. Dip same chicken chunk into bread crumbs, ensuring the chicken chunk is completely covered in bread crumbs.
  7. Place in a casserole dish in a single layer at first, adding second layer of chicken if necessary.
  8. Repeat prior steps of dipping chicken chunks until the casserole dish is full of raw breaded chicken chunks.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes or until chicken reaches the recommended temperature for fully cooked chicken.
Happily Blended http://happilyblended.com/
 

 

Mom, I want to Learn To Cook your Recipes #happilyblended #cooking

The other night my daughter returned from her two night visit with her Dad when I was tossing around dinner ideas to the family. My daughter decided that, while she loves my odd chicken parmesan I make, she really wanted my breaded garlic chicken breast instead. From there we went talking about how she wants to learn the recipes for meals I create because she enjoys the things I make.

It’s funny that she, at age 11, is so interested in cooking and quite honestly she bakes a heck of a lot better than I do. If there is a cake, cupcake or brownie to be made I always turn to her. Now she wants to turn to me to learn the cooking skills for later years in her life that I never learned until my late 20′s into my 30′s. I am so happy that my daughter wants to learn to cook things and to boot, she is putting all of the things we create in the kitchen on index cards in a recipe book to keep for later years of her life.
photo 4(1)

My daughter had fun creating breaded garlic chicken breast with me the other night and added it to her recipe book. I thought since my daughter wants all of these recipes kept for years to come so she can make the same meals for her family one day, that I would share with you all too.

This year, 2014, I will be sharing a lot of the recipes I create here in the Happily Blended home as a way to make a pound of chicken or a pound of hamburg stretch far enough to feed a family of seven when all of the children are here on the weekends. I will show you things that all of my children, even the picky eaters, will eat on occasion or all of the time.

I’m so happy that my daughter and I have a close relationship to the point she actually enjoys spending time in the kitchen learning how to cook with me. My heart melted just a little bit that evening and we made memories … the memory that my tween daughter, no matter what, is always happy to learn and look up to her Mama for tips on how to be a happy, healthy, well-rounded person!

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