Archive for December, 2013

December 31, 2013

Easy New Year’s Eve Traditions for Families

photoI realized the night before New Year’s Eve that we have absolutely no traditions except of course a toast of sparkling cider. I looked on Pinterest and there are some really wonderful ideas out there from some really amazing and creative Moms. But after the Christmas holiday, I am pooped, and I want and easy and enjoyable New Year’s Eve. I talked it over with my husband and this is what we came up with:

  • Takeout Chinese Food
  • Hooking the computer up to our TV and doing a slideshow of all of our 2013 pictures
  • Filling out a Happy New Year – family form to take some time to reflect on ourselves, what we enjoy, and what we look forward to doing next year. I developed this based on various ideas I saw on the internet and implementing some ideas of my own. Feel free to take it and print it off. If you make it any better or more cute, I would love a copy! This will be fun to look at as the years go by.
  • Game night with our board games.
  • We will never stray from our tradition of toasting with the some sparkling cider and ringing in the New Year. However we will celebrate EST at 9:00 p.m.

Happy New Year everyone!

December 11, 2013

My Daughter’s Delicious Hot Chocolate Recipe

IMG_4336I really don’t think an adult could come up with this concoction; I actually thought my daughter was crazy at first.  I thought that peppermint candy cane and cinnamon Red Hots belong in separate categories, and never the two shall meet.  But I was wrong.  Together they produce the taste of Christmas in your mouth, and I dare you to try it.

1 serving of your favorite mint cocoa, prepared*
1 t crushed peppermint candy cane
5-10 Red Hots
1 dollop whip cream
Mix and enjoy.

* We like Stephen’s Candycane Cocoa and in second place comes Stephen’s Chocolate Mint Truffle.

December 5, 2013

Apricot Pecan Oat Bran

I came up with this recipe completely by accident.  I bought some unsweetened canned apricots for my baby that he did not care for.  Somehow, the opened can in the fridge inspired this breakfast recipe that I have now made 3 times.  It is good hot, cold, and even a few days old. My husband likes it when I send this for his breakfast at work.  I really feel that apricots and pecans were meant to be together; I’m just happy to be a part of uniting them into this romance of deliciousness.  (To learn more about the health benefits of Oat Bran, check out my post here.)

To Cook the Oat Bran:

1 can unsweetened apricot halves
¾ – 1 cup oat bran (depending if you like it soupy or firm)

Blend one can of apricots in your blender until smooth, pour in a microwave safe dish. Mix in the oat bran. Cook for 2 to 2 ½ minutes. Let it sit until it the pecans are ready to be mixed in.

To Make the Candied Pecans:photo

1 T butter
¾ cup chopped pecans
2 T brown sugar
1 T maple syrup

While the oat bran is cooking, get out a small non-stick skillet and heat to medium-high.  Warm the butter and the pecans until the nuts are coated.  Sprinkle on the brown sugar and maple syrup.  Mix until the liquid dissipates a bit.  You do not have to stir them all the time, but you do need to watch, because they can go from yummy to burned in just seconds. When they start to look coated and candied, pour them directly onto the cooked apricot oat bran.  Stir and enjoy.  If you will not be finishing this in one meal, you may want to store the pecans separately.  To do this, spread pecans on tin foil and cool. Then, store them in a container and you can sprinkle them on the oat bran before eating.  Separate storage will help keep them crunchy.


December 5, 2013

(Even Healthier) Chicken Soup with Rice Recipe & Song

photoSometimes when we go on car trips, I stop by the library and pick up some books on tape and DVDs.  This past summer, as we were on our way to Mt. St. Helens, we were lucky enough to hear this song sung by Carole King based on the book by Maurice Sendak.  We stopped at a random Mom and Pop place in the mountains for lunch, and what do you know, the soup of the day was…that’s right, Chicken Soup with Rice!  That was enough to seal the deal with my kids.  They love this soup!

Although this soup is not necessarily unhealthy, I couldn’t resist trying to come up with a healthier version.  I have tried it a few times now, and my kids do not detect the added nutrition.  Instead of making a roux from flour and butter, I puree 2 cans of white beans.  And instead of white rice, we use a healthier grain.  We have tried brown jasmine rice, brown basmati rice, and even millet.  All of them have worked for us.  Without further delay, here is the recipe.  And by all means, you must listen to the song.  It is a treasure!

(Even Healthier) Chicken Soup with Rice

1.5 cups dry brown rice or other whole grain
2 chicken breasts (or equivalent canned or precooked chicken)
1-2 T olive oil
1 onion
4 carrots
3 celery ribs
2 cartons low sodium chicken broth (8 cups)
2 cans low sodium white beans
salt and pepper to taste

Start by getting the rice cooking.  Then start boiling the chicken breasts.  As those two things are cooking, dice an onion.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet or pot.  Add the onion and start cooking it.  As it cooks, peel and chop the carrots and add them to the onions.  Slice the celery and add that to the mixture.  As the vegetables cook, drain the two cans of white beans and puree them in a blender with some of the chicken broth.  Add the bean puree and the remaining chicken broth to the onions, carrots, and celery.  As they simmer together, shred the chicken and then add it.  Lastly, add the cooked rice and salt and pepper to taste.  I don’t serve this soup with bread or crackers, because my kids will eat it on its own.  And I want their tummies to be filled up with the nutritious stuff.