8 Yummy Muffin Recipes

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Personally, I think muffins are one the best “kid foods” there are. My kids will eat almost anything if it’s baked into a little handheld snack. Want them to eat squash? Carrots? Quinoa? Bake it into a muffin!

Muffins can be breakfast, part of a lunchbox, a snack, or alongside soup with dinner. They can be sweet or savory, fluffy or dense, topped or not.

Here are eight of my personal favorite muffin recipes. What are yours?

  1. Old-Fashioned Blueberry Muffins – Citron Limette
  2. Chocolate Banana Cinnamon Roll Muffins – Authentic Simplicity
  3. Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Quinoa Muffins – Once a Month Meals
  4. Apple Cinnamon Muffins – ParentLife Online
  5. Crumby Banana Muffins – Jessie Weaver
  6. Honey-Sweetened Pumpkin Harvest Muffins – The Finer Things in Life
  7. Sweet Carrot Muffins – Spoonful
  8. Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins – Annie’s Eats

September Is National Honey Month

Honey
source: twodolla

September is National Honey Month! Why does honey get a whole month and not a day? Who knows!? But since 1989, beekeepers and their bees have been celebrated during September, a month when honey collecting winds to a close for the year in many parts of the U.S.

I’m always looking for a reason to celebrate, aren’t you? Why not do some exploring with your kids and find out more about honey and its uses?

What your favorite thing to make or do with honey? I love hot tea with honey and lemon when I am sick – or even just hot water with those additions!

**Never give honey to a child younger than 12 months. They are at risk for botulism.**

Making Meals with 5 Ingredients (or Less!)

5 ingredients or less

One of the easiest ways to cut back on meal costs is to simplify your ingredients. If you can make a tasty recipe with fewer ingredients, you will probably spend less money. Often this involves slow-cooking, which intensifies flavor and tenderizes less costly cuts of meat.

Here are some great recipe links to get you started. All the recipes have 5 ingredients or fewer, not counting salt and pepper. Add an easy side dish, like a frozen vegetable and rice, and you’ll be able to save (or give!) more money and spend less on food.

*If you don’t use alcohol in your cooking, you should skip these recipes.

And here are a few fun recipes from our friends on Facebook.

Cabbage skillet: brown 1lb. hamburger with chopped onion, then add 2 cans drained Rotel and one small green cabbage sliced into ribbons. Add salt & pepper, cover, and cook until cabbage is tender. Serve over rice, with or without a slice of American cheese melted between. – from Nicole H.

Caramel Apple salad: Core and chop 4-5 Granny Smith apples, add 1 medium can of crushed pineapple with the juice & mix together. Sprinkle 1 box of butterscotch instant pudding (regular or sugar free), stir together. Stir in one 8 – 12 oz tub of cool whip. Chill before serving. (I don’t peel the apples but you can if you need to do so.). – from Becky M.

Have a favorite 5-ingredient-or-less recipe? Leave it for us in the comments! I’d love to have a few more in my arsenal for dinners.

Eat for Cheap: Black Bean Nachos

If you have a hungry family (that’s all of us!), you probably spend time searching for low-cost, high-nutrition recipes like I do. Beans are a great cheap protein, but it can be difficult to find new ways to cook them that your family will enjoy. Recently I made these delicious black beans and served them over tortilla chips with toppings – cheese, cilantro, raw onion, guacamole, and sour cream. The meal was absolutely delicious, and it was a great change from our norm.

 

Black Beans in Pot
source: muyyum via Flickr Creative Commons

Smoky Black Beans

Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 c. finely chopped carrot
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ham hock, ham bone, or 1/2 c. diced ham
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 lb. dried black beans, rinsed

In a large skillet with a lid or a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery and saute 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds or so. Add ham hock, cilantro and beans to the pot. Cover with water (about one inch above beans). Bring to a boil; then cover, turn heat to medium-low, and cook until beans are very tender. This will take about 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes. Check often after an hour and stir occasionally during cooking time.

To serve, strain beans out with a slotted spoon. Serve over tortilla chips with Mexican toppings like shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, more cilantro, and chopped onion. You could also serve beans over steamed rice with cheese.

Freeze leftover beans and use them at another time to make Crunchy Black Bean Tacos.

 

Weelicious Lunches & Healthy Apple Muffins

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I’m always looking for a way to sneak some more nutrition into my kiddos. I’ve been a fan of Catherine McCord’s site Weelicious for quite some time for this reason! Recently I bought her cookbook Weelicious Lunches, hoping to find some lunchbox-packing inspiration.

At first glance, I was pretty sure it was a bust. No way were my kids going to eat things like Roasted Carrot Hummus or Avocado Honey Dip. And yes, those are some of the recipes. But as I looked farther into the book and started making recipes, I found that I love this cookbook more and more! Even standard recipes, like berry muffins and pizza, are adapted into healthier versions – using whole grains, less sweeteners, more vegetables.

Here are my reviews of some of the recipes I’ve made.

  • Apple, Honey, and Cheese Quesadillas – Everyone thought these were delicious, except my Extremely Picky Eater, who picked the apples out. She has a hard time trying new things, even if the new thing consists of ingredients she likes separately.
  • I think we’ve made everything from the pizza chapter. The White Wheat Pizza Dough is great, and I LOVE how healthy the Veggie-Heavy Pizza Sauce is. It’s easy to freeze, too.
  • Chicken Satay Bites – I think the garlic flavor might have been a tiny bit strong for Extremely Picky Eater, but she tried these. Baby Man enjoyed them greatly.
  • Roasted Carrot Coins – I thought these were a nice change from raw carrots.
  • Roasted Honey Cinnamon Chickpeas – Mine burned to a crisp. Just like every other time I’ve tried to make toasted chickpeas. What’s up with that?
  • Whole Grain Fruit-Filled Bars – My kids all love bars. But Extremely Picky Eater didn’t like how these were kind of crumbly. My other two kids chomped down, and I thought they were divine!
  • Polenta Berry Muffins – I made these for Extremely Picky Eater’s preschool class and they ate them all happily.
  • Whole Wheat Lemon Blueberry Muffins – yum!

And then we have the Apple Cinnamon Muffins. The first time I made these, I sent them to my husband’s student group at school. He said the boys demolished them in minutes. I’ve made a few adaptations, so I’m sharing my slightly different version of the recipe here.

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Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Makes 12-16 small muffins

  • 1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup milk soured with a squeeze of lemon juice (or buttermilk)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 apples, peeled and chopped (something tart is best, like Granny Smith, Gala, or Golden Delicious)
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon-sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 400F and spray muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In a larger bowl, whisk honey, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and oil.
  3. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir together. Fold in apples.
  4. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Sprinkle each with a pinch of cinnamon-sugar.
  5. Bake 15-20 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool.

Do you have a great go-to cookbook? Share the title with us in the comments!

{This is a completely unsponsored review. I bought this with my own money and was not asked to review it.}

Making Easter Dinner in Advance

Easter 06 I [Ham]

source: boodoo via Flickr Creative Commons

I really love to cook. In my fantasy lands, I am a chef, or at least I get to go to culinary school and learn more about the art of fine meals. In reality, I’m a mom of three little kids and my bad back makes it hard to stand in the kitchen for more than an hour. But who knows? Maybe someday …

What I don’t love is just attempting to get the cooking done. With kids and time restraints, it can require a small miracle to get everything cooked at the same time and on the table. Multiply that times 60 when we’re having guests over.

I love having people for dinner, truly I do. I love entertaining. But – without fail – every time we do I make myself insane in the hours leading up to the event, trying to bake and cook and decorate and get our home into a passable state. (No one wants to show her guests to the bathroom to find out her kids have colored on the toilet and left used Kleenex on the floor.)

We’ve had standing Easter plans with friends of ours since 2006; we’ve been together every Easter except last year (when I had a 2-week-old) during that time, even when we moved 2 hours away. So I’m preparing to host them for Easter dinner in a few weeks. And today it struck me that JUST MAYBE I should go ahead and get some things ready so I won’t be so stressed on Resurrection Day.

Here are some great, special-dinner foods that you can make ahead and freeze!

  • Some of my friends swear by potato salad for Easter dinner, but I have to have Special Potatoes. Cheesy, creamy, potatoey goodness.
  • What can I say, I’m a traditionalist. I love Green Bean Casserole. I love this one even more because it uses homemade cream sauce and real mushrooms!
  • I love making bread, but it can be tedious and near impossible when you have a lot of other things going on. These rolls can be made ahead, but baked on Easter for fresh taste.
  • For dessert, this Rice Krispies White Chocolate Trifle sounds amazing! Or you can bake cake layers ahead of time, wrap them well in plastic wrap and then foil, and freeze until you’re ready to use them.

With just a ham to make the day-of, I might find myself actually enjoying the preparations for the holiday this year. Happy Easter!

Snack Food Substitutes to the Rescue! by Beth Aldrich

Feeling uninspired this winter when it comes to servings your kids healthful snacks? Here’s an article from Beth Aldrich we originally ran in August 2011 to give you some pointers! Share your favorite snack to serve in the comments!

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You might be needing an old-fashioned after-school snack to satisfy your kids until dinnertime. Here are some healthy snacks that you’ll feel good about putting on the table.

 

Blueberry-Lemon Ricotta Muffins

 

Old-Fashioned Rice Krispies Treats redux: Prepare this old time favorite recipe, but substitute high-fiber cereal or MultiGrain Cheerios and add some dried fruit to the mix, such as dried cranberries or raisins.

Anything on a stick. Kids love to eat finger food — and if they get to “create” it, even better. Set out bamboo skewers and several bowls of fruit, diced lean turkey breast, cheese, veggies, etc. and let the kids “make” their own snacks. You can control what foods they’ll use for their creations, and they love the decision-making and activity part of the project!

Anything in a Tortilla! Kids will eat almost anything wrapped in a tortilla, so get creative. Smear some low-fat cream cheese and sliced strawberries or pears and cheddar cheese or even just peanut butter and bananas. The kids can also take over and make their own creation.

Make Your Own “Mix”: When you take your child to the grocery store bulk bins, they love the idea of scooping and weighing the items. Let them select a few of their favorites for a homemade energy trail mix with seeds, nuts, popcorn, dried fruit and coconut, and yes, maybe even a small portion of chocolate nibs or drops! Have your child portion the completed mix into snack-sized plastic bags or mini containers and take them on the go for a quick pick-you-up snack!

Bagels, Baby! Nothing says satisfaction more than a bagel. Make it a nourishing snack by purchasing whole grain bagels and top them with organic jam and low fat cream cheese. To make them even more kid friendly, but them in thin slices and arrange like spokes of a wheel around the plate. What looks different and interesting yet familiar usually attracts kids to the plate!

What are your favorite after-school snacks to serve (or eat!)?

Beth Aldrich is a Certified Health Counselor and author of the book, Real Moms Love to Eat: How to Conduct a Love Affair with Food and Still Look Fabulous (New American Library, January, 2012).Twitter: @RealMomsLuv2Eat

Slow Cooker Stew

 

While this stew may not be the most beautiful dish on the planet (you can blame the photographer), it makes a perfect supper for a chilly night served with biscuits hot from the oven. And since I know you are all very enthusiastic about slow cooking, I hope you’ll try it out!

 

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. stew beef, cut into small pieces
  • 4 potatoes
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (11 oz.) condensed cream of celery soup
  • 1/2 c. red wine or tomato juice or sauce
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

Peel potatoes (if desired) and dice potatoes, carrots, and onions. {You can sear the beef if you wish to add some good flavor.} Mix all ingredients together. Either cook in a slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours or in a 300 degree oven for 4 hours.