Sunday, June 8, 2014

Turning Over a New Leaf - New Dinner Ideas and Better Snack Options!

I had a ridiculously busy spring semester and really, really slacked off at home.  I was resorting to making my easy dinner recipes or just making pasta or Trader Joe's frozen fish.

The guilt finally got to be too much last week.  In addition, my 7-year old started swim team and is hungry ALL THE TIME.  After he ate a granola bar, yogurt and cheese stick and was still hungry, I realized that I really needed to get creative with snack options.

Here are some yummy snack ideas plus a couple of AMAZING and EASY dinner recipes.

Peanut Butter Granola Balls
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup crisp rice cereal
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit

1.     Step 1
In a small saucepan over medium, heat honey, peanut butter, and butter. Stir until loosened and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cereal, oats, and dried fruit.
2.     Step 2
Drop mixture by the tablespoon into mini paper cupcake or candy liners. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, and refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes.


I purchased Chia Seed Tortillas at Trader Joe’s. 
Spread butter on one side of two tortilla. 
For William’s, I put inside mozzarella, pancetta (TJ has chopped Pancetta), spinach leaves (tiny) and black olives.
For Patrick, I put in mashed up black beans, canned corn, shredded zucchini and cheddar cheese.
Fry in pan on both sides until light brown.

Chicken and Vegetable Tostadas
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 lb chicken breast tenders
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup chopped red onion
1 cup fresh corn kernels, about 2 ears
1 cup zucchini, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper
8 tostada shells
3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup salsa, or make the slow cooker salsa ahead
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, chopped

1       Preheat oven to broil.
2       Cut chicken tenders into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle with cumin, salt, and pepper. Toss to evenly coat.
3       In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat until it begins to shimmer.
4       Add chicken and let brown nicely (without moving it) for at least two minutes.
5       Add the onion, corn, zuchhini, and bell pepper and contine to cook for 3-4 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
6       Remove from heat.
7       Place 4 tostada shells on a baking sheet. Top with chicken and vegetables and a sprinkling of cheese.
8       Broil for a couple of minutes – watching closely.
9       Repeat the same process with the remaining for shells.
10     Garnish with salsa, cilantro, and tomatoes.
Citrus Soy Salmon
1 lb salmon fillet, 1 tablespoon olive oil, kosher salt and pepper, 1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon butter, 1/8 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
1       Preheat oven to 450.
2       Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the salmon in the middle of the sheet and rub lightly with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
3       Roast salmon for 10-12 minutes.
4       While salmon is roasting, prepare the sauce.
5       In a medium sized pot (we’re looking for a wide bottom) bring the orange juice to a boil.
6       Reduce to a simmer and let juice reduce to about 1/3 to 1/4 of a cup – this takes about 5-8 minutes so be patient.
7       Once reduced, remove from heat and add butter and soy sauce.
8       Plate salmon and drizzle with the citrus soy ‘reduction’. Fancy!


Big Kid - Summer Reading and The Work Bin

I super duper stress before summer break every year.  My 7-year old doesn't do well at home.  He gets bored easily (I hate that word) and would rather be at the zoo, the pool, the library, etc., etc., etc.  And with a toddler who needs a nap, afternoons are tough.

In addition, now that my son is entering second grade, his school expects him to do summer reading and a little work every day to keep up with his math and writing skills.

I decided to BE READY for summer!

I created four bins - the Book Bin, the Work Bin, the Lego Bin and the Art Bin.  Every day, when my toddler is sleeping, my 7-year old has to do 15 minutes of reading and write it in his "reading log."  Then, he goes to the work bin and picks one thing to do.  I gave him five choices - flash cards, journal, workbook, binder and FREE Folder.  I knew that if I didn't regulate his ability to choose in some way, he would choose FREE Folder every day.  So I made these cards and he has to do one thing a day.  Of course, if he has a play date or summer camp, he can skip a day.

Once he is done with the reading and work bin, he can play with his Lego bin or the art bin, or go play outside.

So far, one week into our summer break, things are going well.  My son doesn't complain TOO much and he enjoys picking his one thing a day.

Another majorly motivating factor is the Summer Reading Clubs at our local library and at Barnes & Noble.  He is reading to earn prizes, which motivates any kid!

Happy, happy summer!