bowl full of happiness

Eat with me Wednesday #3

Bowl full of happiness

Cream of Wheat w/ Brown Sugar, Dried Cranberries and Toasted Almonds

There are just some foods that whenever I make them take me back to another time and place. Every time I make this dish, which by the way needs to be a lot more often, I’m suddenly transformed back to that tiny, long-haired little girl I used to be; sitting on my Daddy’s lap, scooping up heaping spoonfuls of warm cream of wheat, and biting in to sugary sweet cinnamon toast (not pictured). I can smell the deliciousness even as I type this.

I didn’t know my father very well when I was growing up, but I vividly remember him eating cream of wheat. I remember, because he always poured milk into his creating this odd souplike mixture and I could never understand why anyone would ever want to mess with the thick, just plain perfect texture that was cream of wheat (malt o meal for some of you, no?). Memories like this are important to me, those little moments we did share versus the oh so many moments we did not get to share.

Sharing moments isn’t a problem around here, but I would like to put on the record for my own children the way I like my cream of wheat. :)

Thick, but not too thick. Sweet, but not too sweet with a brown tint you can only get from lots and lot of cinnamon and just enough brown sugar. I’ve learned from my own children that dried cranberries are the perfect accessory for this meal and this time I thought I’d try some honey roasted almond slices because, well – why not!

It was delightful, my own little bowl of happiness. And one last tip about building the perfect bowl of cream of wheat – if it gets too thick for your taste, you could add a ton of milk like my Dad used to do, but I prefer a tablespoon or two of hot tea — the way my Momma used to do it.

Cooking Tips: Follow the instructions on the box to make the amount of Cream of Wheat you need. Do this on the stove, trust me, it is way better this way. The mixture will thicken the longer it sits (see previous paragraph). Sweeten your bowl to taste and don’t forget the cinnamon toast! Perfect for eating and dipping. Butter some bread and sprinkle generous amounts of cinnamon sugar on top. Broil or bake on the top rack until the face of the toast gets just a bit crusty. You still want some of it to be soggy (mmm, melted butter and cinnamon sugar). Be careful if broiling toast. It happens quick, so keep an eye on it.

Do you have any foods that remind you of your childhood?

Creamy Tropical Oatmeal w/ Toasted Coconut

Eat with me Wednesday #2
Creamy Tropical Oatmeal w/ Toasted Coconut

How many foods have you found that everyone in your family enjoys? Pizza, Spaghetti, Macaroni and Cheese – maybe. How about Oatmeal? My family loves Oatmeal. We love to make big batches of it together on the weekends, taking turns measuring, stirring the pot, letting the kids choose which fruits and flavor combinations they’ll add to make it uniquely theirs.

It has become such an easy, comfort food for us that some nights when Daddy is away and we’re feeling a bit nostalgic or in need of something warm & comforting, we’ll even whip up a batch and eat it for dinner. We just love it that much.

This Creamy Tropical version comes to you from the creative mind of my 6 year old. He loves to experiment with new tastes and flavors in the kitchen and this recipe does just that.

Creamy Tropical Oatmeal w/ Toasted Coconut

We started out with Almond Breeze Coconut Almond Milk (he really loves this stuff), we used it for half of the liquid in the recipe to give it the extra creamy texture. We cooked the oats as directed and added a bit of maple syrup for flavor and sweetness, sprinkled some (Ok, a lot of) cinnamon like we always do, added a splash of good vanilla and swirled it all around and inhaled the goodness. Next, we toasted some shredded coconut in the oven until it was just turning golden brown. Then we dished up the oatmeal, tossed in a handful of diced dried pineapple and mango and dusted the top with the toasted coconut.

We really enjoyed this version, we hope you try it and love it too.

Eat with me Wednesday: Numero Uno

I’ve always dreamed of being one of those well thought out bloggers who thinks ahead enough to post weekly meal plans to share with everyone. Alas, I am a poor planner. Forgive me.

I did … come up with an idea, I think I can manage though, a weekly post of what we’ve been eating, new recipes we’ve tried, messes we’ve made in the kitchen, etc, etc.

Two Warnings from the get go: 1) most pics will be from Instagram, I am so horrible at uploading pis from my camera, sometimes I go months! and 2) I’m not a recipe follower, I wing everything. I will do my best to describe what I’ve done in these photos, but if I’m not clear or you have questions, just ask! I could talk about food all day.

For the first week, I’ll keep it simple. Here’s what I ate today.

For breakfast, a personal favorite – Pepper Jack Scramble

One egg and diced peppers scrambled together, topped with cheese and planted on a heated tortilla.

Simple, satisfying, delicious. In less than 5 mins (I keep diced peppers in the fridge for moments just like these) Missing from this photo are my friends jalapeno, salsa and pepper jack cheese (I was out, so I subbed in cheddar – also good)

Lunch was Homemade Vegetable Soup.
I know the pic makes it look more like a bowl full of noodles, this was leftovers and for some reason my noodles swell up extra big. My grandmothers never seemed to do that, anyone know what cause this or how to prevent it?

Sautee an onion, some diced carrots and celery in minced garlic & olive oil until onions are clear and celery and carrots are soft. Add in 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 4 cups of broth (your choice, I used 1/2 chicken, 1/2 vegetable), a cup or 2 of spicy V8 (gives it a little extra something, something) and salt, pepper, and Nature Seasoning to your taste.  Bring to a boil and let simmer while you boil your noodles. I use macaroni here, but go wild with whatever noodle you want. Cook your pasta till its al dente (still has a bite to it), drain it and toss it in. If you need more liquid, add water or a mixture of water & Spicy V8 juice.

Voila, homemade vegetable soup in about 20-25 minutes.

Dinner here is SUPER simple. Roasted Green Beans and Baby Bellas.
I bought my green beans in a ready to go package, the same with my sliced baby bella mushrooms.

I opened the bags, tossed them on the cookie sheet, poured some EVO on top, sprinkled some good Basalmic Vinegar on top (I like Paul Newmans’ brand) and seasoned with what? You guessed it — salt, pepper, Nature Seasoning and garlic salt. I roasted these for about 35 mins at 380 degrees. Missing from this photo is some shredded parmesan to bring all these flavors together, YUM!

All out of parm this time, but I’ll be ready next time. Maybe I’ll whip out the breadmaker or roast a chicken to go with this, or if I’m feeling rushed or lazy — I’ll grab a rotisserie from the store and a fresh bread with a nice thick crust.

This concludes the first Eat with me Wednesday,
what did you think?

5 Easy Holiday Snacks

I’m on the Christmas Snack Committee for kindergarten. Normally his school is on a strict no added sugar and zero junk food policy, so when planning easy holiday snacks I had to get a bit creative in my search. Sure, a few of my ideas have sweets in them … but I’m checking to see if they ease their policies a bit for the holidays. Either way, I think parents and kids alike will all have fun building these cute snacks.

santa crackers
Easy Holiday Snack: Santa Crackers

healthy christmas tree snack
Snap Pea Christmas Tree

santa hat brownie bites
Santa Hat Brownie Bites

snowman bagels
Snowman Bagels

snowman donuts
Snowman Donuts

As long as I was on the lookout, I thought I may as well share my findings with you! I’m probably not the only mother out there doing this right now and I know how hectic these weeks leading up till Christmas are becoming. I had no idea what a difference a school age child would make to our family dynamic. I really do miss the days when the world revolved around only us. Here’s hoping I can save you a few precious moments this week.

Have a semi-healthy holiday snack idea of your own? Please share!