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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Eggs In A Hole

Finding fun foods for the kiddos that's also healthy and meets our portion sizes, can be a difficult challenge.

Recently we tried out eggs in a hole... the kids thought it was FUN and tasty. Pick out a fun shaped cookie cutter and get ready!

1 slice whole wheat bread per person (12, $1.50 HM Loaf)
1 egg per person (12, $1.25 at recent sale prices)
1/2 cube real butter (.25)

Cut the middle out of the toast using your choice of cookie cutters. The kids like to pick one out. Butter both sides of bread, including your cut out piece. Place one piece on a hot, buttered griddle (I heat over medium for a few minutes before cooking), crack one egg and drop the egg into the center of the bread, where the cut out is. Place the cut out bread piece on the griddle next to it so it's gets nice and toasty as well! Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the egg begins to firm and set. Flip both the egg slice and the cut out piece. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. Move to plate. Repeat until all slices are done. Depending on the size of your griddle, you may be able to cook several at once. Serve both the egg in a hole and the cut out along with your choice of fruits and veggies.

Serve with:
6 bananas, sliced (about 1 1/2 lbs @ .49/lb= .75)
6 large carrots, cut into sticks (about 1 lb at .79/lb)

Add milk to drink for the kids and water for the adults (8 cups @ $3.00/gallon = $1.50)

Total cost of lunch for 10-12= $6.04

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Finding The Time

The question I hear a lot is, "How do you find the time?".

I get a little giggle every time I hear that, because really, how do we NOT find the time?

Here's how to squeeze out a few minutes.

After dinner, during clean up is the time to grab a kid and mix up tomorrows dough. This does mean you need to have an idea about what you'll be making. Pasta? Pizza dough? Biscuits? Bread?

It takes about 5 minutes in the evening to mix up the dough, then I simply let it rest at room temperature overnight. With minimal directions, my 9 yo's or 17 yo can mix the dough up.

In the late afternoon, we roll the dough out. I ask one of the kids to play with the little ones (remember, I do daycare and have a house full of under 5 yo's). Then either myself and a child, or the 17yo get to rolling and cutting the dough. Then we let it sit until time to cook/bake.

We don't do a lot of crock pot cooking because Hubs isn't a fan... so, most of my meals are put together in the hour before dinner. On days like today, I have had a chicken working on stock most of the day... other days, I forget to pull anything out of the freezer until its time to start cooking.

On bread baking days (usually 2x a week), I spend about 20 minutes mixing the dough and setting it to rise... then I pop it in the oven after a couple hours of rising and bake for an hour. Not a huge active time investment.

Making goodies can take longer, mostly because I'm always on the search for new recipes or I'm modifying a recipe to make it a bit healthier.

We will be starting kefir soda by end of the month... I'm not anticipating this to be a time consuming process either. We are trying to wean off the soda addiction around here... it's my one remaining naughty naughty. I don't know that I'll ever get Hubs to give up his Mt. Dew and Rockstar obsession (although I will be trying!). I do want my kids to feel like they are getting a treat and not feel deprived by lack of soda (they don't get soda because I don't want to help them form bad habits!). I'm really excited to try sugar water kefir with pomegranate blueberry juice... yum!

Pizza Night

Last night, we made pizza. Yummy! The optional crust add-ins are essential to improve flavor if you have a "ew, not whole wheat again!" in your family. They add interest and take the focus away from the flour grain.

4 cups whole white wheat flour
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 cup warm water
2 Tbs honey or agave
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbs active dry yeast + 1/2 cup warm water + drizzle of honey/agave

Optional Add-ins: 1 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese + 1 Tbs dried basil + 2 tsp kosher salt.

Combine flour, vinegar, 1 cup water, 2 Tbs honey and olive oil in a large bowl. I prefer the wooden spoon to incorporate then hands to combine method. Work into a nice dough ball, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 25 turns. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and allow to rest on the counter at room temperature for 24 hours (preferred).

Before baking, activate yeast by combining it with the 1/2 cup warm water (95-105F) and a drizzle of honey or agave. Allow to sit for 10 minutes or until the yeast becomes frothy and bubbly. Make an indention in your dough and pour yeast in... combine thoroughly (I prefer to use my hands). Then add in your cheese, salt and seasonings. Mix well. Allow dough to rest for 20 minutes or so then separate into two portions.

We use hand stretching vs. rolling for each crust. I pick up one portion of dough and start stretching into a circular shape. Then we turn, pull, turn, pull... also allow gravity to to help with the shaping.

Place dough onto stone, top and bake at 500F for about 15 minutes. I bake both pizzas at once since I have two stones. I switch the pizza's half way through bake time so one doesn't overcook on the bottom.

These pizza's were topped with yummy red sauce, grated cheese, ground beef and sliced mushrooms.

Soaked Pasta Noodles

We've been making everything from scratch... Hubs doesn't appreciate the taste of the traditional (red) whole wheat flour, so I've switched to white whole wheat. The first bag of King Arthurs White Whole Wheat I purchased was pricey! Recently, I was able to locate a better price, $3.45 for a 5lb bag ($0.19/cup vs. $0.13/cup). It still tastes like whole wheat... but Hubs says it's better than red whole wheat. The kids are loving taking turns helping mom mix up and roll out dough.

I've modified slightly a rustic noodle recipe found over at The Nourishing Gourmet... yes, I like that site A LOT.

3 cups whole white wheat flour ($0.57)
1 cup warm water
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar ($0.10)
2 Tbs olive oil ($0.25)

(Total $0.92) Sure I can buy pasta for $0.98/lb, but it won't be whole wheat, it won't be soaked and it would likely have unnecessary ingredients. Store bought pasta also won't bring the joy of pasta making with my kids.

Combine ingredients in a large bowl... I start with a wooden spoon and switch to hands in order to incorporate all the flour. The kids LOVE getting their hands in the dough.

Knead the dough a few times, until you have a smooth ball of dough. Allow it to rest on the counter for 24 hours (if possible).

Divide into 4 sections, roll out to desired thickness and cut into strips or squares (or get crazy and use small cookie cutters for shapes). You can allow pasta to air dry or boil right away. Add a teaspoon or two of kosher salt to your water prior to boiling, I also like to add another dash of olive oil to prevent sticking.

*As always, you may need more flour or liquid... add small amounts at a time until desired consistency is achieved.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Low Down on Probiotics

Come over to Polka Dots to read my take (and some great suggestions) on probiotics!

Delicious... French Toast and Peaches $5.18

Yum... that's all I've got!

The ingredients:
1 loaf bread (HM $1.50, store bought $1.79)
9 eggs $1.15
1 cup whole milk $0.13
2 tsp cinnamon $0.10
dash orange extract ($1.00 for 2 ounce bottle) $0.05
1 lb frozen peach slices $1.00
1/2 cup honey, agave or rapadura (or water with 1 Tbs stevia) $1.00
Butter (if desired) .25


Combine frozen peaches and sweetener in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until hot, sweet and juicy. Set aside.

Whisk your eggs, milk, orange extract and cinnamon in a 9x9 inch baking dish (easy for dipping) or a bowl if you prefer the pour over/bake method.

I prefer to dip the bread and cook on a hot, buttered griddle. Then top with butter and sweet peach sauce.

Another option is to place a layer of bread in a baking dish, pour the sweet fruit mixture over, add another layer of bread and cover with egg/milk mixture. Then bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes.

We added sliced bananas to the meal since it was a lunch to round out our nutrition guidelines. 1 egg is a protein serving... so we have protein, grain, 2 fruits and served with a glass of milk finishes things off!

To ensure one protein serving per child, you can do the dip and pour method. Mix each egg with about a TBS of whole milk, dash of cinnamon and drizzle of orange extract. Dip one side of the bread into the batter, put on buttered griddle... then pour remaining egg mixture over the bread slice.

Chicken and Biscuits, $7.10

Dinner last night consisted of roasted chicken, whole wheat biscuits, potatoes and fruit. It was quite tasty!

Served 2 adults, 1 teen (17), 2 - 9 yos, 1- 7 yo and 1- 5 yo plus leftover chicken for stock.

1 whole fryer chicken, $3.00 (purchased on a buy one, get one)
Roasted in the oven, drizzled with olive oil and seasonings.

7 potatoes, pricked and baked. $0.30

Peaches- $2.00

Butter & Cheese for potatoes & biscuits- $0.75

Whole Wheat Biscuits- (made with whole wheat flour, 13.3 cents per cup) $1.05

Biscuit recipe (adapted from The Nourishing Gourmet)
Cut 6 TBS real unsalted butter ($0.36) into 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour ($0.40). Butter should be small pea sized. Add 1 cup milk ($0.13) + 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar ($0.06). Mix well. Allow to sit covered on the counter overnight (you can skip the soaking step if needed, but its a great idea!). Prior to cooking, sprinkle 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp baking soda (leavening = $0.10) over the the dough, fold in half, turn, fold in half again, repeat for a dozen folds or so to make sure all the rising agents are well incorporated.

Roll out to about 3/4 inch thickness, cut, place on baking sheet and bake at 375 for 12-14 minutes.

Frugal or Not?

Here's my grocery haul from last night. Good deal or no?

Obviously... there are some items (ahem... Rockstar) that are not necessary and could be skipped... however, hubs doesn't think he can live without them. He drinks 2 per day, usually we buy in a 24 count pack at Costco... however, we spend a FORTUNE at Costco and I'm currently in the mindset that we may actually spend less on food if we stop shopping at Costco and hit the loss leaders at our local grocers. So, even if the Rockstar is a quarter more each, it may not be a bad trade. I still can't give up my morning coffee with creamer... although I know I need to. However, buying a 32 oz creamer at our local market is $4.59. Last night, I was able to get a 16 oz for $1.24 ($2.48 per 32 oz).

4 boxes cereal ($1.49 each)
2 gallons milk ($1.99 each)
4 cans peaches ($1.00 each)
2 cans clam chowder ($1.00 each)
1- 5 lb bag King Arthur Whole White Wheat Flour ($5.15... not a good deal!)
2 Diet Rockstars (Daddy must have...)
1- 18 count eggs ($2.29)
2- 1/2 gallon orange juice (2 for $3.00)
1- 3 lbs organic Fuji apples ($2.99)
1- 3 lbs organic Granny Smith apples ($2.99)
4- 16 oz chocolate caramel coffee creamer ($1.24 each)
2- 1 lb organic baby carrots ($1.00/lb)
1- 8 pk organic kids yogurt ($2.99 not cheap compared to large carton, however easier for school lunch)
1 loaf of bread ($1.79)
1- family pack 5.63 lbs ground beef ($1.59/lb in family pack)
1- 10 lb organic potatoes ($1.39)
1- 2 lbs cheddar cheese ($4.99)

Item count= 31 Price total= $62.51 (One store, no coupons)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Handmade Ravioli


I decided to try my hand at ravioli making last night. First I dug out the hand crank pasta maker. Then I opted to not use it... there appeared to be too much work involved. Plus, I can't use the same machine for gluten free and regular pasta.

So, the pasta press went back into its box and I opted to hand roll the pasta... that may have been a mistake, but two hours later I had a plate full of delicious ravioli waiting to boil.

I will post my first go at the gluten free ravioli over at Looks Good In Polka Dots later... it was far from a perfect attempt, and will need several revisions, but was quite tasty if not beautiful.

Ravioli filling:

I combined 1 cup sour cream (homemade cream cheese would work great as well) with about 4 ounces grated cheese. I then sprinkled in garlic, kosher salt and pepper.

Other options include: squash or pine nut puree, pesto, goat cheese crumbles and herbs, diced tomatoes, or meat.


I made a tomato pasta sauce with ground turkey... depending on your filling you could use a cheese sauce, a wine sauce, grated asiago or Parmesan cheese, etc...

Ravioli shells:

3 extra large free range chicken eggs
2 Tbs olive oil (or palm or coconut oil)
1/4-1/2 cup water
1 tsp kosher salt
3 cups whole wheat flour

Whisk together the eggs, 1/4 cup water and oil. Place flour and salt in a large mixing bowl, make a well in the center. Pour the egg/water/oil mixture in the well. Combine with a wooden spoon (or just use your hands). Once well incorporated, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until you have a smooth ball of dough (add more water or flour as needed to reach a dough consistency). Divide into 8 parts. Then roll each part out one at a time to desired thickness (I opted for about 1/8 inch thick). Then use a round cookie cutter or a glass dusted with flour to cut circles. Stretch each circle out so that it's thin and large enough to fill and fold. Then drop a small glob of the filling into the center and fold in half, press the edges together. Set aside to dry until time to boil. Repeat until all dough is used.

Place a few ravioli at a time into boiling water, cook until pasta rises to the top, remove with a slotted spoon. Serve with choice of sauce/toppings.

Monday, January 4, 2010

HM Whole Wheat Graham Crackers

Healthy Snacking... Homemade Graham Crackers. Yum! I make one batch a week, depending on the sweetener I use, it costs about half of a store bought box. For a balanced snack, we enjoy a couple crackers with peanut butter, banana slices, or a glass of milk.

2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup Rapadura (you can use cane sugar, but we like Rapadura)
4 Tbs honey or agave
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tarter
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 sticks unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
1 tsp vanilla extract
about 1/4 cup cold water

Combine dry ingredients (with a whisk or a through a sifter).
Mix in butter cubes using a pastry cutter or two forks, you should get a coarse mixture.
Add wet ingredients.
Mix well, your dough should form a ball. Add a bit more water if needed, if to wet, add a bit more flour.

Refrigerate your dough (I like to mix it at night and let it sit in the fridge until the morning).

Separate into two portions.

Take one portion of dough and roll out (works best if you use a pastry mat or two layers of parchment paper). Form a rectangle about 1/8in thickness. Cut into 2 inch squares using a pizza cutter. Transfer to a baking sheet (I pull the top layer of parchment paper off and flip the crackers over onto a baking sheet using the bottom layer/pastry mat). Poke several holes using a fork in the top of each cracker. I like to sprinkle the crackers with a cinnamon/sugar mix prior to baking.

Bake at 350F for 13-16 minutes. Allow to cool on the pan, transfer to a cooling rack until cooled completely. Break apart and store in an airtight container. Makes about 4 dozen crackers.