Archive for Good Food

Hidden Art Friday 

You guys, I just had the best banana bread of my life. If you don’t have ripe bananas, go buy some now. You need to make this browned butter buttermilk banana bread recipe, stat. I am in love with browned butter, and it makes your kitchen smell divine.

Do you do a special breakfast for the first day of school?  Our first day will be Tuesday, which is rather late compared to most of our friends, but we just moved across the country after my 6 year old had major surgery this summer, so we’ve taken all of August off.  Most of the year, we just have oatmeal or granola for breakfast, but I do like celebrating the start of a new school year with a special meal.  In the past, I’ve done muffins, cinnamon rolls, or French toast.  I’m thinking banana bread (because we’re in love with this recipe) and bacon this year.  Any other ideas I just have to try?

Happy September!



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Hidden Art Friday

Happy Friday! Today our library had a fun event where kids got to make homemade veggie pizzas for a snack. Whole wheat tortillas spread with cream cheese or hummus and spread with a bunch of yummy fixings. My kids were huge fans, and we have a new lunch option!

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What to Do with Summer Vacation, Part 4: Food

Okay, friends, after three days of talking, I want to spend a few days sharing some ideas and resources.  With the easy, breezy summer schedule, my kids’ tummies are suddenly on need-to-eat-nonstop mode.  We’ve talked about snacks on the blog before, so I just want to re-share a few of those posts, since it was four years ago:

Bethany’s Favorite Healthy Snacks

Emily’s Favorite Healthy Snacks (check out the comments section, too)

Anna’s Favorite Healthy Snacks

A Hidden Art Friday Round-up of fun snack ideas

And we do have a pinterest board dedicated to snacks.


And as a preview to what I’ll be talking about tomorrow, this year, I’ve gotten some new inspiration for cooking with my kids from a couple cooking-themed kids’ subscription boxes.  Raddish Kids has more dinner-themed recipes, while Kidstirs has a variety of meals and snacks.  Both are pricey, but if you have grandparents asking for gift ideas (or if you’re in a public school charter like ours that lets you spend your funds on educational subscriptions), I’d recommend checking them out.  Yes, my kids can cook in the kitchen with me any time, but the kit does the organizing work for you and feels more special.  Both kits are geared towards kids and have cute designs and fun little extras along with the recipes.  You have a shopping list, but the groceries themselves are not provided.  My kindergartner was the official recipient of both subscriptions, but her 8 year old sister often helps, her four year old sister watches, and her ten year old brother will sometimes lend a hand.  Here’s the lowdown on both (and I’m not sponsored by either, so I’m giving you my honest opinion):

Raddish Kids features three laminated, fold out recipes around a central theme each month.  Kits are $24 apiece with free shipping (with a slight discount if you get a 6- or 12- month subscription).  In the first kit, your child gets an apron, and each month, there’s a patch to sew on to show they’ve mastered those recipes.  Ingredients are fairly common, and directions are very clear.  I like that the pages fold out so that you can see the ingredient list and the directions all on one page without having to flip back and forth.  The back often features a special skill that your child can develop or gives you information about a particular ingredient.  There’s often a little activity to go with the theme (for Chinese month, we made little paper lanterns), and they always include one kitchen tool (which have all held up so far) to help with the recipes.  I have a fairly well-stocked kitchen, accessory-wise, but we do now have some new tools (like a dumpling press) that we didn’t have before and now use often.  Taste-wise, these recipes have almost universally been a hit with my kids, and only one was too bland for me.  They are truly from-scratch recipes, with no dumping cream-of-something soup over a chicken and calling it cooking.  Recently my daughter and I went through all 18 of the recipes we’d tried, and there were only two that we didn’t want to keep (one, a spaghetti sauce, was tossed only because we all prefer my husband’s family recipe, and the other, chicken tenders breaded with cornflakes, was fine but just not particularly better than my other baked chicken tender recipe).  A couple of them, including pork dumplings and beef stir-fry, were such big hits that they’re now in our regular meal rotation.  My girls made the blueberry muffins for breakfast this morning.  Also, the website has a wealth of resources of which we have only scratched the surface.  They are very homeschool-friendly, with lesson plans for many ages, they have a special American Heritage Girls badge kit, and they have adapted recipes for special diets available.  We only have a peanut allergy in our family, so we haven’t needed to adapt any of them, but it’s nice to know that we could if we had to.  The only con for me was that the recipe cards are hard to store, but I see that they now have a binder with pockets that we could get to slide the cards into if we wanted.

Kidstir also provides three recipes around a theme each month.  A single kit is $20 plus shipping, with a discount if you buy a multiple month subscription. There are only 12 kits available, so after a year, you’d just be getting repeat boxes, unlike Raddish kids, which creates new kits each month.  In the Kidstir box, you get two kid-sized cooking tools, and often they’ll include little decorative things (flag toothpicks for finger food, etc).  The recipe pages are not laminated, so you can’t just wipe spills clean, and the ingredients and recipes are scattered across a couple separate pieces of paper, forcing you to flip a page back and forth while cooking, which I dislike, but they’re already hole-punched to put into your binder, which has all the categories of a common cookbook.  I like that my daughter is literally building her cookbook each month, and it’ll be easy to add in additional recipes as she continues to spend time in the kitchen.  They also have educational pages and several online resources on the website.  My kids loved the “eat a rainbow” charts so much that I keep printing off more from the website so they can continue to keep track of their fruit and vegetable intake. Nutritionally, the recipes are healthy but not too healthy, if you know what I mean, and they’re pretty kid-friendly, not pushing them too far out of their comfort zone.  Last night we munched on kale chips that we made from one of their recipes, and that is a big deal, because five out of the six of us loathe kale in other forms.  Because a lot of them are snacks and not dinner recipes, we haven’t gotten around to making all of them yet, but my girls are definitely enthusiastic to try more.  I think these kits are really fine, but because I like the layout of Raddish better, I’d give a slight edge to Raddish.  I’m mean, if you’re up for spending $24 a month on cute cooking inspiration in the first place.

And of course, I’m a big fan of letting the kids browse my cookbooks for a fun-looking recipe and then trying it together!

What do you do about food with your family over the summer?

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Large Group Hospitality: Lasagna for 30


My husband’s family is Italian, so of course we signed up to do Italian on our dinner night at the reunion.  You can do frozen store-bought lasagna or jarred sauce, of course, but homemade is totally worth the extra time.  As all of you with handwritten recipes from the Old Country know, it’s really all about letting the sauce simmer and pick up the flavors of the meat.  So ideally, you’ll make up the sauce on a day you’re home to stir it all day and then stick in the fridge to assemble the next day, but you can also get the supplies together after breakfast, simmer all day, and then assemble your lasagna mid-afternoon.  Yes, it’s a time-consuming meal, but it’s not that much harder to do two or three at a time, and my husband (who does all the Italian cooking in our home) always does two–one for dinner and one for the freezer.  I also prefer company meals where I get to do the fussiest part of the prep plenty of time before people start arriving.  Since this bakes for an hour, we can assemble and then wash up the dishes, pull together a big tossed salad, and stick the garlic bread in to bake for the last 15 minutes.  By the time company arrives, all I have to do is set the table.


The Menu

Lasagna, garlic bread, green salad


105 oz can crushed tomatoes (available at stores like GFS, Costco, Smart & Final, or use four of the smaller cans to add up to about 105 oz)
46 oz tomato juice
1 lb ground sirloin
1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage (my in-laws use ground pork)
1 head garlic
Italian seasoning
Dried basil
Dried oregano
Dried parsley
Salt and pepper
1 tsp sugar
pinch of baking soda
olive oil
three boxes no-boil (“oven ready”) lasagna noodles (it tastes better with fresh, homemade pasta, but if you make your own pasta like my husband does, you probably don’t need me to tell you how to make lasagna)
4 lbs part-skim ricotta cheese
5 lbs shredded mozzarella cheese


Sauce: Lightly coat bottom of your largest (8 qt?) pan with olive oil.  Lightly brown crushed garlic.  Brown sirloin and sausage.  Season with spices.  Add crushed tomatoes and juice.  Depending on the thickness of the crushed tomatoes and how long you plan to simmer, you may need more or less juice.  The longer you simmer the sauce, the more juice you’ll use.  Season to taste, and add sugar and baking soda. Simmer at least three hours, but ideally all day, stirring occasionally.

When sauce is done, lightly coat the bottoms of three 9×13 pans with a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of water in each.  Layer noodles, ricotta cheese (use the spoon to dollop and your fingers to spread it out over the noodles), shredded mozzarella, and sauce.  Depending on the depth of your pan, you’ll be able to fit 3 or 4 layers. Finish with a layer of noodles, sauce, and mozzarella.  You will use up all of the cheese and sauce.

Spray aluminum foil with nonstick spray and lightly cover the pans, cutting a couple slits to allow steam out.  Bake at 350 for at least 45 minutes to an hour (longer if your oven is full of three pans of lasagna plus garlic bread)  Watch carefully for excess liquid and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Serves 30 normal people with average appetites or about 50 Southern Californians. =)


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