Foodie Pen Pal – January 2014

This month I was paired up with Megan.  Megan writes a blog called St. Louis Dietician.  Check out her blog for health tips.

Ohio was part of the country impacted by the Polar Vortex at the beginning of the month and at the end of the month.  Since the jet stream was further south than it usually was we got snow from Alberta Clippers.  Three days straight we got snow during the day.  Two of those days, I had stressful commutes home because of the road conditions.  I was greeted with the box after that second commute.  I absolutely loved the box so that put a smile on my face after my stressful commute.

I’ve tried everything in my box.  One of  favorites was the dark chocolate mint bar.  I eat only one block of it at a time so I can savor it.  Another favorite was the peppermint tea.  I love mint teas so this was perfect.  I’ve been using the Greek Seasoning on air popped popcorn and coconut oil instead of butter.  Yum!  The olive oil granola was quickly eaten for breakfast.  I love the combination of cashews and pistachios.  In fact,  I keep a container of almonds, pistachios, and almonds at work so I can eat some when my stomach growls.

Thank you Megan for a great box.

Dilly Oyster Crackers

This is an easy snack to assemble and bake.  They are also very yummy!

They are also like Lay’s Chips.  Once you eat one, you can’t stop.

Dilly Oyster Crackers

Adapted from


Stars of the recipe:

  • 1 package of Ranch dressing mix
  • 1/2 tsp. dill
  • 3/4 c. vegetable or olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 package oyster crackers


  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Mix the first 5 ingredients thoroughly in a big mixing bowl.
  3. Add the oyster crackers and toss gently.  (Get the topping on all of the oyster crackers.)
  4. Spread on a cookie sheet and then bake for 15 to 20 minutes.  Stirring 2 to 3 times during baking.
  5. Cool and then store in an airtight container.
  6. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

Mom, What’s for Dinner? Week of January 27

I know’s it’s Tuesday and I’m finally typing out my menu for this week.  This Arctic blast of cold air has really been playing with my sinuses.  Last Thursday, I started out with a sinus headache.  It didn’t go away on Friday so I called off of work.  Saturday and Sunday were full of me stuffed up.  Yesterday I went to work for half of the day and then went to a training (professional development) in the afternoon.  Every time I would come in from the cold air, I would be stuffed up once again.  So frustrating.  Today we are at home because Ohio is getting wind chill values down into the negative 30’s.  I’m doing okay today but that is because I’m not going out into the cold air.

So what are we having for dinner?  This week consists of eating foods that we have in the house.

MondayCopycat I-Hop pancakes from the freezer, smoothies, and bacon

Tuesday – Ravioli, garlic bread, veggie, applesauce

Wednesday – Sausage, baked French fries, veggie


Friday and Saturday – Crockpot meals out of the freezer

Chocolate Chip Muffins

In August 2010, I posted a recipe for an All Star Muffin Mix.  With this cold weather, I’ve been baking more than usual.  Last night I decided to make a batch of it.  Then I asked the Imaginative One what he thought I should use as add-ins.  He suggested chocolate chips.

Once they were baked, the Imaginative One had 1 and the Wee One had 2.  I’ll say they were a hit.

I’m going to give you the recipe 2 different ways.  One using the All-Star Muffin Mix and one without the muffin mix.

Chocolate Chip Muffins


Stars of the recipe:

  • 2-3/4 c. All Star Muffin Mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. melted butter (1 stick) – (Melt in the microwave for 1 minute.)  – Allow the butter to cool down before adding to the mix.
  • 1 c.milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate chips but you can use semi-sweet chocolate chips.)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Add all the ingredients to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Mix together until all the ingredients are well combined.
  4. Pour into a muffin sprayed down with cooking spray or lined with cupcake wrappers.  I put a 1/4 of a cup of batter in each cavity.
  5. Bake in oven for 20 minutes.
  6. Cool and enjoy!  (Store in an airtight container.)

Without the All Star Muffin Mix

Stars of the recipe:

  • 2 c. flour (all purpose or white whole wheat)
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2-1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. melted butter (1 stick) – (Melt in the microwave for 1 minute.)  – Allow the butter to cool down before adding to the mix.
  • 1 c.milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate chips but you can use semi-sweet chocolate chips.)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients minus the chocolate chips.
  3. Add all the wet ingredients and chocolate chips to dry ingredients.
  4. Mix together until all the ingredients are well combined.
  5. Pour into a muffin sprayed down with cooking spray or lined with cupcake wrappers.  I put a 1/4 of a cup of batter in each cavity.
  6. Bake in oven for 20 minutes.
  7. Cool and enjoy!  (Store in an airtight container.)

Printable Recipe

Apple Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal or Overnight Oatmeal

In August of 2010, I posted an entry for Instant Oatmeal Mix.  As we are experiencing another cold snap, oatmeal is a good way to warm up on a bitterly cold morning.

I was pursing Yummy Life‘s instant oatmeal packets’ blog entry and found some good ideas for different types of instant oatmeal.  Making your own instant oatmeal mixes is  better than the Quaker or off brand instant oatmeal packets.  You control the ingredients.  Plus it doesn’t have preservatives.

Using some of the ideas from Yummy Life and what I had around the house, I came up with an apple cinnamon instant oatmeal that is divine.

Apple Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal


Stars of the recipe:

  • 2-1/4 c. Instant or Quick Oatmeal
  • 1/3 c. powdered milk
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 2 to 3 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 c. dried apples
  • 1/3 c. chopped nuts (I used cashews.)
  • 2 -3 Tbsp Chia seeds
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. vanilla powder (optional)


  1. Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Store in an airtight container.
  3. When you are ready to make oatmeal, mix 1/2 c. of the oatmeal mix with 3/4 c. water.  (Make sure the bowl is big enough because the oatmeal with expand in the microwave.)
  4. Heat in the microwave for 90 seconds.


  1. Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Store in an airtight container.
  3. Mix 1/3 c. oatmeal mix, 1/2 c. water, and 1/4 c. yogurt in a mason jar or a similar type jar.
  4. Make sure the lid is on tightly and shake up the mixture.
  5. Place in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  6. Enjoy straight out of the fridge or allow it to warm up to room temperature before eating!

Printable Recipe

Mom, What’s For Dinner? Week of January 20

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of January.  2014 is already flying by.  Two more months until we are going to Disney.  That gives me something to look forward to.

We are going to use the crock pot all week again.  It was so helpful getting supper on the table all week.  It’s also going to be soup week.  Three of our meals are going to be soups.  Yum!!!


Monday – Chili and Northern Cornbread

Tuesday – Shredded Taco Beef

Wednesday – Chicken Divan Broccoli in the Slow Cooker, Veggie, Rolls

Thursday – Potato Soup, Rolls

Friday – Teriyaki Chicken with rice

Saturday – All Day Beef Stew, Rolls


Northern Cornbread

My husband is a northern with southern roots.  His mom’s family was from the Charleston, South Carolina area.  During his childhood, his family would travel to Folly Beach which is near Charleston.  We’ve traveled there ourselves several times.  One of our favorite things is to do while there is to eat southern cuisine.

So when we had pinto beans and ham for supper, he was a happy camper.  I needed something to serve with the pinto beans and ham so I decided to bake up some cornbread.  I made them the northern way which is more cake like.

The Wee One and Hubby both gave thumbs up when they tried the cornbread.

Northern Cornbread

adapted from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures


Stars of the recipe:

  • 1-1/4 c. flour
  • 3/4 c. corn meal
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/4 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. shortening
  • 1 egg


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  3. Add the milk, shortening, and egg to the dry ingredients.
  4. Mix until combined.
  5. Pour into a greased 8 by 8 pan.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Enjoy with butter, syrup, or honey!

Or follow steps 1 through 4.  While you are making the batter, place a cast iron skillet with a tablespoon of butter in the oven.  When the butter is melted, place the batter in the skillet.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Printable Recipe

Smoothie Packs

Mornings are crazy for me.  If I don’t have a plan or have something ready to go, I am running behind when I should leave for work.  Lucky for me I know different routes to work and have a little padding on when I would like to leave and the latest time I could leave to make it to work.

One way I help with making sure I have breakfast is to make smoothies.  Getting the ingredients together in the morning can be challenging.  Sometimes my high powered blender has a fit and refuses to blend the ingredients.  That doesn’t help getting out the door on time.

So what can be done to make sure I have a smoothie in the morning?  I could make some ahead of time and then put them in the freezer.  The only problem with that solution is remembering to pull out the smoothie of the freezer so it could defrost so I can drink the smoothie.

Another solution is to prepare smoothie kits so all I have to do is pull the bag out of the freezer and then add the liquid ingredients.  I’ve started to do it and it makes life so much easier.

20140112-205143.jpgHere’s what you need to do:

  1. Gather all the ingredients for the smoothie.  (Except for the liquid)
  2. Place all of the ingredients in a Ziploc type of bag.  If you are going to make a green smoothie, place the greens in a sandwich bag.  Then place the sandwich bags in the Ziploc with the other ingredients.
  3. Place the smoothie pack in the freezer with instructions of what liquid needs to be added to the other ingredients.

When it is time to make the smoothie:

  1. Place the greens with the liquid in the blender cup.
  2. Blend up the greens and liquid until smooth.
  3. Add the other ingredients with the greens and liquid.
  4. Blend until smooth.
  5. If you need more liquid, add a little water until all of the smoothie is blended.
  6. Enjoy!

Some smoothies you can make packets for are:

Fruit Smoothie

Carrot Tropical Smoothie

Key Lime Smoothie

Apple Jack Smoothie

St. Patty’s Day Smoothie

Power Up Green Smoothie

Tastes of Thanksgiving Smoothie


Soft Pretzel Nuggets

My family loves soft pretzels.  In fact when we go to the mall, we have to stop and get the pretzel sticks.  My mom used to do that when I was a kid and now I do that with my two.  If you don’t watch the Imaginative One, he will eat almost all of the pretzels.  I love mine dipped in cream cheese or nacho cheese.  He loves his dipped in chocolate.

We also love going to the Target cafe and getting the cinnamon soft pretzels there.  I’ve learned to get two of them now because once again the Imaginative One will eat the majority of the pretzel if you share with him.

I’ve tried the cinnamon soft pretzel at Sam’s Club and was not too thrilled with the flavor.

I made these on Monday, the sixth, which ended up being a temperature related snow day because it dipped down into the negatives.  People in our area are not used to those temperatures and don’t have outer clothes to combat those temperatures.  Both the Imaginative One and Hubby gave the soft pretzel nuggets a thumbs up.  Yeah!

(I also realized when I did the Best of from last year that I did not post any bread recipes so I’m trying to post some bread recipes this year.)

Soft Pretzel Nuggets


Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Stars of the recipe:


  • 2-1/2 c. all-purpose flour or white whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat flour.)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2-1/4 tsp. instant yeast (If using active dry yeast, increase amount to 1 Tbsp. and then proof it in warm water and sugar (bubble and foam) for about 5 minutes before adding it to flour and salt.)
  • 1 c. very warm water


  • 1/2 c. warm water
  • 2 Tbsp. baking soda
  • Coarse salt (pretzel salt), optional
  • Cinnamon sugar mixture, optional
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted


  1. In a large bowl, place the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast.  Mix until combined.
  2. Add the water and mix well, adding more flour, as needed to form a soft, smooth dough that clears the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  3. Knead the dough by hand or machine for about 5 minutes, until it is soft and smooth.  (You don’t want a soft dough that is not sticky.)
  4. Lightly flour the dough and place in a plastic bag; close the bag with room for the dough to expand.  Let it rest for 30 to 60 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  6. Spray or line two cooking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface and divide into about 4 strips of dough that are equal length.  Allow the strips rest for 5 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile combine 1/2 c. warm water with the baking in a small bowl.  Make sure the baking soda is completely dissolved.
  9. Cut each strip of dough into 6 to 8 pieces.  Dip each pretzel nugget in the baking soda/water solution.  
  10. Allow them to rest for 10 minutes.  Bake the pretzels for 7-8 minutes (mine took 6 minutes).
  11. Remove the pretzels from the oven and roll them in the melted butter.  Add the salt or cinnamon sugar mixture.
  12. Enjoy warm with your favorite dip!

Printable Recipe

Mom, what’s for dinner? Week of January 13

Last week I did not prep any meals. I also went back to work on Wednesday. Needless to say I need to have some prep done.

I prepped 3 of my dinners for this week today. I also prepped smoothie packets for next week. Easy peasy breakfasts.


Monday. King ranch chicken, left over potatoes, carrots, and onions

Tuesday. Pinto beans and ham, cornbread

Wednesday. Fire roasted tomato sauce over whole wheat pasta, salad, bread

Thursday. Chicken tacos, chips and salsa

Friday. Italian crusted pork roast, Parmesan fettuccine, veggie

Saturday Chili, hoe cakes

All of the meals are done in the slow cooker.