Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mexican wedding cakes (cookies)

From December 12, 2012
Our homeschooling group is having an Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta tomorrow with a Mexican potluck. I wanted to bring something Mexican, but all of the go-to simple items were covered. I was looking for something quick and easy to make, since I was trying to nurse and put a newborn to sleep around the same time (sometimes it takes ALL evening). These Mexican wedding cakes looked just the thing. And they were.


1/2 pound (1 cups) butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped very fine or ground in a food processor
1 cup confectioners' (powdered) sugar for dusting and rolling


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl with beater attachment, beat butter on medium speed until fluffy. Add confectioners' sugar and beat again until smooth.

Scrape down sides of bowl. Add vanilla and salt, beat and scrape down once more. Turn mixer to low, add flour and ground toasted pecans. Beat only until incorporated and mixed well. Scrape bowl.

Using a medium sized cookie scoop or Tablespoon, scoop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, leaving a little room between each ball. Do not flatten.

Bake in 350 degree over for 14 minutes or until cookies are almost firm and the edges are lightly browned. Let cool just enough to handle.

Remove from oven and as soon as you can handle them, gently roll the cookies into the remaining 1 cup confectioners' sugar. Tap off sugar and place them on a cool cookie sheet.

When the cookies are all coated, start over again, and roll them in powdered sugar a second time. Shake off excess and place on cookie sheets.

I made mine a tad small, as I was trying to make more, but this should yield 30 cakes (I made 35).

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

(Relatively) Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

I made these for Brinnly's fifth birthday and they quickly became a hit here.  Almost as good as a oatmeal cookie, but socially acceptable to eat for breakfast!

Monday, October 15, 2012

rerun: pumpkin sausage pasta

From October 11, 2012
This is one of my favorite fall dishes... so, worth posting again. Really anything pumpkin falls into that category.

Friday, October 12, 2012

My new tool

Plan to Eat is my new endeavor.  Anyone else out there using this tool to plan their meals?  My goal is to plan for a month of meals total, with grocery shopping only every two weeks.   Wish me luck!

Monday, October 8, 2012

apple banana oatmeal


2 cups water
2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
1 cup chopped tart apples
1/2 cup sliced bananas
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/3 cups quick cooking oats
1/4 cup wheat germ
Brown sugar, optional

1. In a saucepan, combine water, orange juice concentrate, apple, banana, raisins, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil.
2. Stir in oats and wheat germ. Cook for 1-2 minutes stirring occasionally. 3. Sprinkle with brown sugar if desired.
Makes 4 servings

The girls and I have been having oatmeal pretty much every morning. I had been fixing steel cut oats, but during pregnancy, I found that those just took too long, and I was feeling waaay nauseated by the time they were cooled and ready to eat. So we usually just have old fashioned oats with a bit of honey and cinnamon. I switched things up this morning, and the new recipe seemed to go over well.

Friday, October 5, 2012

apple cobbler

From September 11, 2012
We've been having a lot of apple treats lately, after our trip to Simmons Farm last week. I've made one crisp, two pies and four cobblers. I adapted a recipe my mom sent me, as that one didn't seem to have enough batter (though the photo on their site would have you believe otherwise)- and I cut back on the sugar and replaced it with turbinado sugar.


4 cups apples, peeled, cored and sliced (about 5 apples)
1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1/2 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts, divided
1 1/4 cups of self rising flour
3/4 cups of turbinado sugar
1/3 cup Smart Balance or Earth Balance, melted
1/2 cup milk
1 egg

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Melt butter sub. and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the 1/4 cup of sugar, cinnamon and half of the walnuts. Peel, core and slice apples, tossing with about 1 tablespoon of lemon. Place apples into the bottom of the baking dish and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture.

In a large mixing bowl, sift in the flour and sugar. To that, add the butter sub., milk and egg and mix together until well blended. Pour over the apples and sprinkle the top with the other half of the walnuts. Bake at 325 degrees F for one hour or until golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Finally...a post from the Ward kitchen! About tofu!

Hey, remember us?  Since my last post, I  have a new kitchen (well, nothing is quite new about the kitchen itself, but it is a new-to-us house) and it's even more crowded.  There's a total of four little girls running around in it, eager to help cook.  Don't worry, you can usually still find muffin tins on the phone.

With all of our transitions in the past few years, healthy eating is still central to our family's balance.  I tried a new freezer meal group for a while, but now I'm on my own for meal planning and prep.  I'm trying out a new routine of meal planning and a new site for it so I will keep you posted.

In the meantime, I finally learned a technique for cooking tofu and it totally changed my life.  Okay, that's a bit of a stretch, but it was really, really helpful.  Last week I chopped up an eggplant, sauteed it in some Trader Joe sauce, and added the tofu after I was done with these instructions:

Served with rice it was a hit for the whole gang.

Have you learned any new techniques lately?

Chicken and rice chowder

From September 11, 2012

...Another easy hit from Saving Dinner (except I added a lot more of everything in order to have some to freeze post-babe)...

4 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup water
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
2 teaspoons thyme
salt and pepper
1/2 cup brown rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk


1. In a large saucepan, bring chicken broth and water to a boil and add the chicken. Add thyme and season with salt and pepper; add rice and reduce heat.

2. In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion, carrots, and celery; cook until onions are translucent. Add flour to the mix and combine well. Add this mixture to the chicken broth mixture in the saucepan.

3. Stir milk into everything and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 20-30 minutes.

Read more at:

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pasta Fagioli soup

1 lb ground beef- brown and drain any fat
12 oz. pasta- cook until al dente
1 TBSP olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, chopped (saute the onion, garlic and carrot in oil until tender)
2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (28 ounce) can red kidney beans, drained
1 (16 ounce) can (white) northern beans, drained
7 cups chicken broth
3 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons pepper
3 teaspoons parsley (Combine the rest of ingredients up to this point in a large pot and simmer for an hour or so.)
2 cups spinach, chopped (add spinach before serving)

This was an experimental soup, in which I kept adding more and more things I found in the refrigerator and cabinets that sounded like they might do well in an Italian pasta soup-- I was trying to make plenty so we'd have leftovers to freeze for after the baby comes. It turned out very good and was enjoyed by everyone- that's the fastest I've seen Iris eat in a long time, and she asked for a second bowl. I think we'll all be happy to have it again.

I forgot to take a picture, but this is the closest I could find to what it looked like (except imagine beef instead of chicken)- from

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mexican lasagna

From 08/17/2012 (by Eye-Fi)
...totally experimental, but it got good reviews from all partakers. Abigail kept thanking me "so much!" for making it.

I was actually just trying to use up some ingredients we still had hanging around after our lake trip-- here's what went in...

~1 lb ground beef
~one onion, chopped
~4ish cloves garlic
~maybe 1/2 a packet of taco seasoning
~1 can enchilada sauce
~1 can black beans, drained
~1 cup salsa
~some pepper
~1.5 cups cottage cheese
~2 cups shredded cheddar/Mexican cheese
~lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 400. Brown meat, drain any fat and set aside. Saute onions and garlic and add to meat. Add taco seasoning, enchilada sauce, beans, salsa, pepper and simmer together for a few minutes. Layer meat mixture, cottage cheese, shredded cheese and lasagna noodles for 2-3 layers and end with last of meat mixture topped with shredded cheese. Cover with foil and cook for 45 min. Remove foil and cook for another 15 min. Serve with fruit and salad. Yum.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Southwestern chicken and rice bake

From 08/06/2012 (by Eye-Fi)

I've been trying new recipes out occasionally and even meaning to post some, but life has just been taking over. This recipe was one that I'll be making again, though, as it's healthy, relatively quick prep (despite the seemingly long list of ingredients), and all of the kids ate it gratefully-- often a difficult feat.
(This recipe made two meals for our family)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

garlic herb quinoa

Very flavorful!


  • 1 tablespoon butter (I used a lactose-free variety, since Mike's mom was visiting)
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 dash fresh lemon juice (optional)


  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the quinoa, and toast, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, or until quinoa is tender.
  2. In a bowl, toss quinoa together with garlic, parsley, thyme, salt, and onion. Sprinkle with lemon juice, and serve.

photo, recipe from

spicy honey-brushed chicken thighs

I don't usually make chicken thighs, but I thought this recipe worthy of tagging to make again-- very easy, and I cut the spiciness down a lot for the kids' sake, but it was still a tasty dish, enjoyed by all. I served it with herbed quinoa, peas, and salad.


  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar


  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat. Place chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side.
  3. Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well. Remove chicken from oven; brush 1/4 cup honey mixture on chicken. Broil 1 minute. Remove chicken from oven and turn over. Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture. Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is done.
photo courtesy of

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Heavenly Healthy Banana Bread

In search of a healthy baked good recipe to use up ripe bananas, I came across this whole grain bread. It only calls for a little brown sugar (I used raw cane sugar, and even less than it called for), and the rest is sweetened with honey. This is some of the best banana bread I've ever had. From one batch, I made two mini loaves for us and the neighbors as well as some mini muffins for the kids... they like those.

Here is the recipe

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

avocados & cherry tomatoes with lemon pepper

My parents introduced me to California bagels after they had them while in CA for my cousin's wedding-- with avocado, tomatoes and lemon pepper, and I found the combination a winning one. The topping by itself is simply satisfying. Lately, this has been a favorite snack of mine.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

banana oat muffins

From 02/19/2012 (by Eye-Fi)
I needed to use up a couple of spent bananas.... these had just the right amount of sweetness...


  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup oat bran
  • <1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed bananas


  1. Combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the egg lightly. Stir in the milk, oil, and vanilla. Add the mashed banana, and combine thoroughly. Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just combined. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper bake cups, and divide the batter among them.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 18 to 20 minutes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tuscan bean and sausage soup

From 02/15/2012 (by Eye-Fi)
I love tomatoes, my husband, and generally my children, do not. The girls are both sick and didn't try any, but Jack (and Mike) gave it the thumbs up. He is a particularly easy child to feed, so it was no surprise. At any rate, I thought this was a great, savory simple meal on a cold day (served with some crusty bread-- this photo was taken before the cheese was added).


1 lb Italian sausage links, removed from casing and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 yellow squash, sliced
2 cans white beans, rinsed and drained
1 can Italian tomatoes, undrained
4 cups of chicken broth
2 cups spinach, shredded
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
3 Tbls. romano cheese, grated


In a soup pot over medium-high heat, brown sausage and fully cook. Drain grease. Add onion and garlic and cook till translucent. Add squash and saute about 1 min.

Add remaining ingredients except cheese, and simmer till heated through, about 10 min. Serve with cheese on top.

recipe adapted from Saving Dinner

Saturday, January 28, 2012

taboule salad

From 01/05/2012 (by Eye-Fi)

I found a similar recipe on the back of a box of whole wheat couscous and changed it to my likings- and to what we had on hand. Of course, I was the only one who ate it, but it was very good.

Mix 1/2 cup boiling water with 1 1/4 cup dry couscous. Add 6 Tbsp. olive oil and 1/3 cup lemon juice. Stir well. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Add 1 diced tomato 1 clove minced garlic, 1/2 diced green pepper, 1/2 chopped onion, 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss lightly. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve. Serves 5.

Friday, January 27, 2012

vegetable chili

I got the resounding, "Thanks for making this, Mom!" from the kids (and Mike), which automatically makes it post-worthy. (I didn't grab a photo, but you can imagine what this chili, chock full of veggies and legumes, looks like.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • (optional) 2 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chile peppers, drained
  • (optional) 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans whole tomatoes, crushed
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup chili powder (I added about half of this, since the kids don't like it too hot)
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and season with bay leaves, cumin, oregano, and salt. Cook and stir until onion is tender, then mix in the celery, green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, garlic, and green chile peppers. Cook ground beef separately, drain any grease. When vegetables are heated through, mix in the ground beef. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer 5 minutes.
  2. Mix the tomatoes into the pot. Season with chili powder and pepper. Stir in the kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and black beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 45 minutes. Stir in the corn, and continue cooking 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, January 13, 2012

sweet potato cranberry bake

From 01/13/2012 (by Eye-Fi)

When we were in Wisconsin after Christmas, we finally got Jack to try some of the Apple Mallow Yambake that Grandma made (not before pulling some teeth). Afterward, he told me I needed to make it every day. While I haven't had a chance to make that yet, I tried a recipe tonight that reminded us of that one- but instead of apples, I used some cranberries I've been wanting to use, and instead of a marshmellow topping, there was a walnut, (minimal) brown-sugar and cinnamon topping. And Jack said tonight's dinner was the best he's ever had. For the record, the accompanying foods were baked tilapia, mixed veggies (corn, edamame and red peppers) and homemade wheat rolls. I'll be sure to duplicate this one again... we had not a leftover. It's gluten-free and can easily be made dairy-free, as well.


  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • (less than) 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • (less than) 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter


  1. Place sweet potatoes in large pot; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Drain. When cool enough to handle, peel potatoes and cut into 1/4-in. slices. Place half in a medium baking dish. Top with the cranberries, brown sugar and butter. Pour orange juice over the top.
  2. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. In a bowl, combine the walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon; cut in butter. Sprinkle over sweet potato mixture. Bake, uncovered, 10 minutes longer or until topping is golden brown.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

chewy chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

From 01/11/2012 (by Eye-Fi)
I love oatmeal cookies. And chocolate. I had told the kids we'd make cookies if they took good naps today... they did! So we made chocolate chip oatmeal cookies... a double reward pour moi! Mmmmm... so good!


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Mix in the quick oats, walnuts, and chocolate chips. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.
  3. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

chicken pot pie

From 01/10/2012 (by Eye-Fi)
This was the real deal... milk and flour... real ingredients. And a meal that at least one of my kids and my husband consistently love (the others eat it and don't complain too much... around here, that passes.).


  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cubed
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup milk

  • 2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C.)
  2. In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery. Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.
  3. In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. Pour hot liquid mixture over. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

salmon chowder

From 01/05/2012 (by Eye-Fi)
This is a good chowder. A really good, chunky chowder- I think the dill is what makes it- yum!

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups diced potatoes
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 2 (16 ounce) cans salmon
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (15 ounce) can creamed corn
  • 1/2 pound Cheddar cheese, shredded


  1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onion, celery, and garlic powder until onions are tender. Stir in potatoes, carrots, broth, salt, pepper, and dill. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat. Cover, and simmer 20 minutes.
  2. Stir in salmon, evaporated milk, corn, and cheese. Cook until heated through.

homemade pan rolls

From 01/05/2012 (by Eye-Fi)
We had these yummy rolls with our salmon chowder tonight for dinner- a bit easier to make than the last ones I made.

Here is the recipe.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

orange cranberry walnut bread

From 12/20/2011 (by Eye-Fi)
A delicious wintry bread, perfect for a snow day (and for using up leftover cranberries)... the kids and I have been snacking on it all morning.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar (or a bit less)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • Grated peel of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. In another bowl, beat egg. Add orange juice, peel, butter and hot water. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Gently fold in cranberries and walnuts. Spoon into greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pan. Bake at 325 degrees F for 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.