Archives For Cooking

Bite Size Brunch

From a Mother’s Day celebration to a weekend brunch with friends to a springtime gathering, eggs are a tried and true favorite ingredient.

Did you know that sometimes even Moms can be wrong?

Seriously! Well, not My Mom of course, I am referring to me. When I first began our family quest to eat only whole, natural and organic foods, I did not realize that some of the tried and true brands I had used in the past would still work for us.

A perfect example includes Land O Lakes. Until I sat down and really looked at their website I was unaware of how many nutritious options they carry for eggs.

In fact, right around the corner at my local grocery store I am able to purchase Land O Lakes® All-Natural Organic Eggs. The price is reasonable and oh so convenient. And, I feel great about serving my family eggs, which are full of protein and no animal by-products, no antibiotics and no chemical additives. A few other options, such as Land O Lakes® All-Natural Eggs pictured, are available as well.

eggs

So, now I want to celebrate! How about a Mothers Day Celebration with an Egg Inspired Party?

(Yes, those burned eggs your kids make you for Mothers Day are priceless, but let’s talk about some delicious Brunch choices that you can serve at any time of day, really.)

A Spring Menu with the bite size nutritious treats below, simple, vibrant fresh flowers and some colorful drinks make a perfect Mothers Day Brunch.

I was recently visiting family and I tried out some of the inspiring recipes I found for adorable bite size egg dishes. Really, they were all so easy to make and lasted well, and the kids felt good…not all full of sugar!

Breakfast mini bites

Breakfast Biscuit Bakes smell sooo good!

I strongly believe that fresh, quality products will make delicious meals. I am glad to see Land O Lakes offering these eggs!

I tried the following recipes, with a few small adaptations (for example, I just used my own homemade biscuit dough). All are available on the Land O Lakes website:

All the mini bites plate so well, also!

breakfast Biscuit Bakes plated

Such pretty little bites!

For some sweet ideas for decor and maybe dessert, visit the Land O Lakes test kitchen.

Want to win an amazing Egg Brunch Pack?? Look at this!

Spring Brunch Prize Pack

A premium gift package (valued at more than $100) including an On-Ice Deviled Eggs Server, Mini Muffin Tin, Two-Tier Server with Plates.

Okay. So enter via rafflecopter below. Good luck!
Continue Reading…

Snow and Cooking

Heather —  October 29, 2011

Making Pumpkin Butter from Big Fat Baker!

What is it about Winter that compels me to pore over recipes, to bake, to pull out and dust all my cookware?

I do not know. But, my family enjoys this time of year.

This morning we awoke to heavy snow piled up everywhere, with grey skies and more snow falling every second.

Not the delicate sprinkling of the first snow of the year. A stupid blizzard.

I was excited though, when I realized that deep down where I didn’t even know it, I must have believed the weatherman yesterday, because in the name of getting ready for Thanksgiving, I had just stocked up on some pumpkin, flour and sugar.

I had apples. I had butter. My kitchen was full of organic goodness.

I had it. The desire to bake.

I pulled out my my husband’s ipad and found Big Fat Baker (my new favorite source for all things delicious).

I decided to keep my minimal skills in mind and take on making Pumpkin Butter, per Big Fat Baker directions.

I have a wonderful little helper

Oh, WOW. Delicious and super easy. My little one was able to practically do that recipe herself.

I moved on and tried out a muffin recipe with Apple Cider.

Called, surprisingly enough… Apple Cider Muffins. {grin}

I found this on a fun site called Not Rachael Ray.

This, too was a warm, yummy treat that I will be cooking this Winter. I did switch in all pastry flour (what I had) rather than ½ wheat and used no brown sugar (didn’t have) and peeled the apples. Cause I always do.

I could not actually eat these as I’m gluten free, but I did take a bite. And such amazing smells wafted through the house this morning. And, we even had some to share.

Are you a Winter Cook?

I keep hearing coconut oil being touted as beneficial for cooking and health.

Honestly, I was not sure about it. I googled a bit and found this article in the NY Times. My curiosity was piqued when I heard it produces yummy, flaky baked goods.

I had to check it out.

I read about Tropical Traditions and requested a jar of Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil. I felt daring, only a bit behind all the foodies!

32-oz. – Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil – 1 quart

I am glad I was curious. This stuff smells fantastic and is certified organic and produced by hand in the Philippines, using a wet-milling process of extracting the oil from fresh coconuts.

So how do they do it? Well, wet-milling is way of shredding coconuts. In the Tropical Traditions (TT) process, organic coconuts are shredded and cold-pressed in their own milk. After a little bit, the oil separates out naturally and can then be filtered from the coconut solids. This natural way of processing leaves an oil with no trans fatty acids. While so natural this oil has a long shelf life because of the inherent high level of antioxidants.

Here is what TT says: “As a cooking oil, its chemical structure is kept intact and therefore is resistant to mutations of fatty acid chains even when used in higher cooking temperatures, unlike most vegetable oils. Research shows that the medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil boosts the body’s metabolism, raises body temperatures, and helps provide greater energy which can lead to weight loss. Also, Virgin Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, a nutrient that supports the body’s immune system.”

Well, when I first got this coconut oil, I still wasn’t positive what to do with it. So I played with it. I switched it out for my regular cooking oil when sauteing, made some chocolate/pistachio candy and pumpkin muffins. The candy and pumpkins muffins were delicious. I am sensitive to smells and I found the coconut scent very pleasant.

I really enjoy the versatility of using the coconut oil. It lends a sweetness to my gluten free cooking and now I have several choices I feel are good for my family in the kitchen.

In my quest to use all organics in the kitchen, I am becoming a much better cook!

For recipes and ideas for ways you can cook with coconut oil, visit the Tropical traditions Coconut Recipe blog found here: http://www.freecoconutrecipes.com/index.htm.

You can purchase TT Coconut Oil here (and they are having some sales, too!):

32-oz. – Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil – 1 quart

And, I get to giveaway one 32oz. Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, with a retail value of $40!

You really have to try this!

To enter, please click on More, below:

Continue Reading…

Nutella For Breakfast?!

Heather —  March 28, 2011

nutella clipOoohhh, I just had a yummy review party, thanks to Nutella and Mommyparties!

If you’ve tried Nutella, you know it is a delicious spread of roasted hazelnuts, skim milk and a hint of cocoa. Hazelnuts are a main ingredient in Nutella®. Each 13 oz. jar contains more than 50 hazelnuts. The spread does not contain peanuts or peanut ingredients, it is Kosher and gluten free.

I have had Nutella before and enjoyed it, but my Mommyparty was about experiencing Nutella as an ingredient in a fun and balanced breakfast.

I was sent a box of supplies to treat some other Mommy friends and sample the breakfast ideas. I put together some goody bags full of Nutella breakfast recipes, coupons, an ingeniously designed spreader and a travel tumbler.

nutella1

I actually had our Mommyparty after an early morning soccer game and my friends were thrilled to enjoy a fun time for themselves complete with Nutella, English muffins and strawberries!

We tried out the recipes I got, which included English Muffins with strawberries and Nutella, Tortilla wraps with a bit of Nutella and fruit, and waffles and Nutella. Needless to say we had to share with the kids!

We talked about the idea of using Nutella at breakfast, which is apparently common in Europe. A few moms thought it should be reserved for a snack or treat. Many moms thought it made a great breakfast item, especially for picky eaters, helping to get kids to sit down and enjoy breakfast. As some of us have high schoolers, we talked about how many of our kids skip breakfast and how we could hand them a Nutella waffle and a hard boiled egg on the way out the door.

It was definitely a neat way to a spend Saturday morning…and high schoolers do love this idea, See!

Nutella2

If you are interested in using Nutella to spice up your family’s breakfast, check out the “Build Your Own Breakfast” tool on the Nutella website: The Nutella® “Build Your Own Breakfast” tool is an interactive exercise that allows users to experiment with a sampling of breakfast combinations and compare basic nutrient values. Click here to try it out!

You can also get a $1.00 off coupon valid til May 31st on the site.

Find out more about Mommyparties online and see them on facebook.

Thank you Nutella and Mommyparties, for a great party experience!

Nutella and Mommy Parties provided me with the materials to host this party.

Happy Holiday Baking!

Heather —  December 19, 2010

GIVEAWAY CLOSED. It is the Season for baking and cookie making and treating!! I hope you are having fun as you plan and prepare all your Holiday treats. I, personally, really enjoy trying out new recipes and surprising my family with unexpected treats. The cake above was our Absolutely fabulous Thanksgiving Red Velvet and Cream Cheese Cake…and it was even more special because I did not make it!  My son’s girlfriend brought this for us and it was an unexpected and delicious dessert. (Thank you again, A!)

I think it is wonderful that she is such a good baker–at such a young age. I was very impressed. Anyway, what brought this up was that Blogspark sent me a Bake Your Holidays Merry gift pack, along with info about a new baking site with some great ideas for figuring out your favorite traditions for baking…and sharing!  I am enjoying their ideas–especially the little coconut snowmen!

So, here’s the details:

BakeYourHolidayMerry“This year, why not start a new tradition? With a little help from Betty Crocker, GladWare® and the Safeway Family of Stores, you can keep your loved ones’ hearts and homes filled with holiday spirit and homemade goodness of Betty Crocker. Whip up a plate full of cookies using a recipe from BakeSweetMemories.com and host a cookie exchange. What better way to escape the hustle and bustle of the holiday season than inviting your friends and family over for a night of swapping cookies, recipes, and memories?

Once you’ve finished baking, share it in GladWare! Glad® food storage products are the perfect solution for preparing, storing and transporting holiday goods. They’re also great for gift giving too, so count on Glad® products to help keep your holiday foods fresh and festive and ready to serve.

For great holiday recipe ideas, how-to videos, and tips for hosting your very own cookie exchange, visit BakeSweetMemories.com. While you’re there, be sure to play the new Sweet Memories game that gives you the chance to instantly win free Betty Crocker products!”

So go check out the baking site & win something! And…

I have a giveaway for a “Happy Holiday Treats” prize pack!!

Your pack will include a package of Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix, a GladWare sample pack and a $25 Safeway gift card (also valid at Dominick’s, Tom Thumb, Randalls, Vons, and Genuardi’s).

To enter, visit BakeSweetMemories.com and then comment here, telling me what you won. Or, tell me your favorite holiday cookie!

That’s it. One easy entry method–I know how busy we all are! Go make some cookies! I will choose a winner Dec. 26, 2010.

Safeway, Betty Crocker, and Glad provided me with the gift card, information, and prize pack through MyBlogSpark for this review and giveaway.

Fit Mommy Friday!

Heather —  November 12, 2010

Curious? You can see my Fit Mommy Challenge Post. Today, I need to list how I am doing on my goals in the challenge.


  1. My goal: To continue to eat only organic foods- Did This, no eating out this week
  2. To lose 10 Lbs for Christmas- Well, have not lost any yet.
  3. To drink wine at most 1-2 nights per week, a maximum of 2 glasses- Blew this, I know, it doesn’t matter its organic. My husband pointed that out….
  4. To not eat at all after 7:30 pm- Did eat several times after 7:30. I kept forgetting. Noticed I look for carbs- crackers, things like that after kids are settled and I’m tidying kitchen
  5. To not eat/taste batter/appetizers etc while Holiday cooking- Did not eat while cooking, except when I put out appetizers for company. I probably ate way too many calories there, talking and moving around
  6. To incorporate more veggies into my diet- Ate carrots for snack 2x, purposefully did not buy anything like pretzels. Added more veges to lunches
  7. To exercise at least 4x per week- Exercised officially 2x.

ok. So there you have it. Not a great re-start. But, I kept putting it off, then the week was almost gone. I was more aware and mentally noticing my weaknesses, rather than trying not to!

Now that I’ve faced my weaknesses…yuck….I have high hopes for this upcoming week.

Head over to Got Chai to how the other participants are doing!

Gratitude Challenge. The Cook

Heather —  November 11, 2010
Sauciers-in-training

Image via Wikipedia

Today is Day 11

One of my quiet and faithful TOS crew leaders, Brenda, over at Garden of Learning, is doing a Gratitude Challenge for the month of November. I am pleased to join in and should be posting something I am grateful for each day.

Today, I am grateful that my son is a GREAT cook!

I am in awe that my teenage son is such an amazing chef. He can make anything and it comes out delicious. For example–yesterday, he wanted to make a cake for some company we were having. At the store, I told him he did not need to buy powdered sugar for the frosting–that I already had some. Later that night, we realized I was out of the powdered sugar.

My response was, oh well, we can’t have cake then, tonight.

His? He went online and found a recipe using regular sugar, butter, etc that he cooked and beat, etc.

We had the best cake EVER! And, even better, he is willing to make the “not” exciting recipes as well, recipes that actually feed us dinner when I don’t have much to work with…

Often, I beg him to cook–not because I’m tired, just because his food is better. He’s got a gift for it.


Join in the Gratitude Challenge

The Cheerios Life…

Heather —  October 25, 2010

School, ballet, driving practice, soccer, Friday nights, clean clothes, plays…life at the speed of kids.

As a mom, I have dreams of parenting perfection. In these dreams, I’ll make whole grain pancakes with fresh squeezed orange juice at the crack of dawn, do amazing science experiments that are messy and you can eat. I’ll make it to every meet and bring cupcakes, I’ll want to listen to their day at midnight, I won’t scream when they veer ever so slightly towards the center line…

Of course, I wake up. But really, I have sweet kids. They don’t require all those things.

Some days, the most my kids really ask for is a chauffeur and some good food.

And, deep down I know that what they mostly want is a bit of attention. They want to know that they are important players in our family, in the world.

And what really nurtures a child?

Over the years I have grown as a parent. I started out a young working mom. I remember a lot of rushing around, grabbing fast food and coveting that elusive “quality” time. I regret that I was too busy to nurture they way I had been nurtured…

But, things work out. My oldest is one of my absolute favorite people and is apparently just fine in spite of me.

Now, I’m a stay at home, homeschooling mom. My younger children have tons of time with me and it is fun and a blessing to me (and hopefully to them!)

But, although I have quantity AND quality time now, sometimes I do not hear. Sometimes I get all caught up in my “nurturing” plans and goals and, yes, forget to notice my kids’ thoughts and dreams.

A while ago, my youngest wanted to try and make a fruit smoothie from a recipe she found in a library book. Easy enough, right? The recipe was simple, but called for a few ingredients I didn’t have. I agreed we would do the recipe “when I had time”.

You probably know what happened then. Of course, I never had time to do this recipe that was not important to me. That same week, I made some fantastic stuff, including homemade pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and cookies—Emma even helped me make those.

But I was too busy to get the strawberries for Em’s smoothie that week.

We went hiking in the Shenandoah Valley.

We went to a Fall Festival. We painted pumpkins.

But I was too busy to get the frozen limeade for Em’s smoothie that week.

We went to the Farmer’s Market, we made awesome bird feeders out of pine cones and peanut butter (that was so easy and a hit–you can see the video below)

On Friday night, I heard Emma tell her oldest brother and his girlfriend about her smoothie recipe.

On Saturday, feeling a bit guilty, I bought those two simple ingredients…but I actually was truly too busy to pull out the blender and let her make her recipe.

On Sunday night, Emma and her brother and her brother’s girlfriend made Strawberry Limeade Smoothies.

That was one happy and proud little girl as she sipped her smoothie to accolades from her family. The smoothie was delicious…and so was the smile on her face.

She worked too hard for that smoothie.

I did not hear her about that silly smoothie.

So after 23 years of parenting….I sure do not have it all figured out.

But, it seems to me that even the smallest little steps do matter. Providing books and new experiences, listening to what excites them, figuring out what develops them and then doing that extra thing…whether it is making a smoothie or planning a trip to the Smithsonian.

Helping them accomplish something important to them…because we are Mom.

We may take away the sugar and the car keys…but we are always their biggest advocates and fans!

So, what is that one thing that your kid really wants to do?

Cheerios Blogger CircleI’m a Cheerios Mom!