Category Archives: kid food

Caprese Oven Fries 

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Classic Fried Rice

Childhood favorite, versatile, personalize-able, simple, quick, filling, tasty…so many words to describe this dish. It’s quick if you have rice ready or a rice cooker. I like to think of fried rice as the Asian equivalent to lasagna; it’s all your leftovers thrown together, or at least, that’s how I figure lasagna was first made, but layered! For lasagna, you need pasta and cheese; everything else is by selection. For fried rice, you need rice and egg. You can virtually put whatever else in it you choose. My mom had several versions of fried rice: hamburger fried rice, SPAM fried rice (like you see here), spicy fried rice…

SPAM is easily a kid-favorite food because it’s salty. It balances well with these light-flavored vegetables, peas and carrots. I like to use frozen vegetables for this because they keep their shape (don’t get mushy while being tossed around in this mix), are inexpensive but have similar nutritional integrity as fresh vegetables, and they’re ready to cook (no chopping, cleaning, etc).

I’m basically defrosting them in about 1/4 cup of water or chicken stock in a pan on medium-high while I chop the SPAM.

Probably shouldn’t have the kids chop this up…they like to sneak tastes!

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I’ve added the SPAM to the veggies to warm it up. I just think it tastes better this way. Once that’s done, add three scrambled eggs, salt and pepper. I’ve opened up a space in the center of the mix to cook the egg as you will see any Asian cooking fried rice will do. Drop some olive oil in there before the eggs. You could cook the eggs first and set them aside; this will also save from dirtying another pan.

Rice is done. Add it when everything else is done cooking. Don’t forget your sauce! Soy sauce, fish sauce, hoisin…whatever you like. You really have to experiment. Most Asians don’t use recipes.

Gingerbread Oatmeal

With the holidays in mind, I thought the kids might enjoy this for breakfast while they were waiting for me to wake up, so they could open Christmas presents. Well, I didn’t get to making this–the store was completely sold out of molasses, go figure. I didn’t give up.

Here is it put together a week later, and the bulk of the finished recipe was frozen for future consumption.

The oatmeal, spices, salt, and molasses together remind me of a dessert with chocolate drizzle!

Because I did not have steel-cut oats as the recipe suggests and used old-fashioned oats, I cut the water in half and had the rest of it ready to add as I checked on the oatmeal after an hour. It was looking pretty good, but still had a couple hours to go, so I added two more cups of water.

The spices are beautifully mingling together waiting to be added to the pot.

The results were a little watery, a little too heavy on clove for me as well as unsweetened. I recommend only using no more than five cups of water if you used old-fashion oats like I did and adding milk and your favorite sweetener when the oatmeal is ready to eat.

http://www.coffeecupsandcrayons.com/slow-cooker-gingerbread-oatmeal/

Crock-Pot French Toast

Here it is with a couple tabs of butter!
You know how the grocery store makes fresh baked bread usually French bread which they put out at the end of the day or the next day on a Reduced Price rack? That bread is perfect for French Toast!…or croutons, depending on what your cooking.

This is too complicated for me. Leave it in the fridge overnight? French Toast is very simple once you get the jist of it. The bread needs to be relatively saturated in the egg-milk wash, and the wash should be seasoned with cinnamon at the very least. I never add sugar to my French toast but I highly recommend it for compote, so…I’m forgoing the recipe’s overnight soak and adding half of the listed sugar.

I made sure to drizzle milk over each piece of bread and then did my best with that following with the eggs.


In an effort not to make extra work for myself by dirtying more dishes, I measured the milk in a measuring cup, added the vanilla extract to that, swirled it around and poured it over the bread. I added the eggs separately using the same measuring cup, cracking the eggs into it and then whisking them with the salt. I don’t like to crack open eggs into that much liquid I may not be able to replace in the case of finding a bad egg. I made that mistake a long time ago, 20 years maybe. Not something you forget!

Crock Pot Blueberry French Toast

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Southwestern Mac and Cheese

Zesty alternative to classic favorite. This looked so good and tasted even better. It was perfect for that time we felt like pasta, but wanted to try something new.  Cheesy, tangy, easy! Kids who like spicy will like it, too!sw-mac-n-cheese

1 package (8 oz or 2 c dry) uncooked elbow macaroni

1 can (about 14 oz) diced tomatoes with green peppers and onions

1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes with mild green chiles (I added an additional 2 oz of canned chopped green chiles not used in another recipe)

1 ½ cups salsa

3 cups (12 oz) shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided

Coat inside of Crock-Pot with cooking spray. Layer macaroni, tomatoes, salsa and 2 cups cheese in pot. Cover; cook on Low 3 hours or until macaroni is tender.

Sprinkle remaining 1 cup of cheese over macaroni. Cover; cook on Low 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

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I went to check on it after two hours and stirred it up. It looked done, but I let it go the remaining hour.

Reference: Southwestern Mac and Cheese, Crock-Pot Slow Cooker Recipes (binder), p.216. Publications International, Ltd., Lincoln wood, 2013.

Grilled Cheese Quesadilla

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Take your pick! Grilled Cheese or Cheese Quesadilla. They’re practically the same thing just from different regions; flour product with cheese, only I didn’t use butter on the quesadillas. These are two of the easiest, kid-favorite foods to make.

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Buttered sourdough bread, butter side down on a medium to medium-high skillet, cover with cheese (really whatever you have in the fridge is worth a try), cover with another slice of buttered bread, butter side up. When the cheese begins to melt, use a spatula and flip the entire sandwich over and heat until the bread is a toasted golden brown.

Same thing with the quesadilla, just minus the butter. Warm the tortilla covered in cheese and a second tortilla on a dry skillet. When the cheese melts, flip it over to warm the other tortilla (or you can skip the second tortilla and when the cheese melts, fold it in half and serve. I added cooked, shredded chicken and salt and pepper to mine to make it fancy (for grown-ups or older kids who have a more developed palate).

What you need per person:

2 slices of bread or 2 flour tortillas

½ cup cheese

2 tablespoons of butter (for bread only)

Supreme Pizza Casserole

Can’t get easier than this! Pizza is most kid’s favorite food at some point in their lives. This recipe lets you prep the ingredients and then throw everything in the pot to wait for your hungry family…and their friends! It’s filling and serves a crowd, so whether your teens are having a sleepover, you have date night and are getting dinner ready for the kids and sitter, or you’re going out of town and need something to last the family several days while you’re gone, this is a quick and satisfying meal you can customize.

I thought this recipe would be an easy alternative to rolling out pizza dough. It is. You can use whatever pasta you prefer. The meat and veggies are absolutely replaceable. Pick your favorites, get the ingredients for the sauce together, and stir it all into the pot. I would recommend that you cook anything that is fresh and cook it together to give a better flavor to the finished food.

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There is some cooking involved prior to adding everything to the pot (you have to at least cook any raw meat), but once it’s done, you can leave it. The aroma will lure the kids, spouse, neighbor’s kids, etc., and it serves so many. A batch of this for us lasts in the freezer for months. Even after it’s done cooking, and we’ve had our fill, it doesn’t look like we were able to put a dent in it at all; the leftovers go into storage containers (which I’ve run out of with this and put servings into storage bags to lie flat in the freezer. Freezes quickly, defrost quickly)!

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Bottom photo by M. Sandoval

The photo collages depict two separate times I’ve made this recipe, one just cooking the meat and the other cooking the meat and veggies first. Sautéing veggies for Italian foods just gives more dimension to the flavor, in my opinion, and you have to cook the meat anyways, so just add the veggies to the pan after the cooked meat with a little olive oil; it will absorb some of the meat yumminess and help deglaze the pan=more flavor and less scrubbing/clean-up!

The recipe:

1 ½ lb ground turkey

1 lb pork sausage

4 jars (14 oz) of pizza sauce

2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese

2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

8 oz fresh mushrooms

6 oz pepperoni

½ c chopped shallot

½ c chopped red bell pepper

clove of garlic, minced

1 lb pasta, cooked and drained

olive oil

Tablespoon fennel seed

1/4 each teaspoon salt and pepper

Brown ground turkey and pork in skillet, drain. Add to pot. Heat veggies in skillet with about 2 tablespoons olive oil and about 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper until veggies are transparent. Mix all ingredients except pasta into pot. Cook on Low 3 ½ hours or High 2 hours. Add pasta, cook on High 15-20 minutes.

Also great for potlucks involving kids!

Chicken and Mushroom Fettuccine Alfredo

The jars of Alfredo sauce you can buy nowadays, have some weird ingredients (like rennet which are enzymes from other mammals’ stomachs or maybe that’s in jarred pesto) I would rather not put in my body on a regular basis, and as good and as often as you’ll want to eat this, you won’t want that jar stuff at all!

This is homemade, from scratch Alfredo sauce! It’s perfectly creamy and smooth, goes wonderfully with the tender mushrooms and chicken out of the Crock-Pot, and is sure to be a kid-favorite (maybe not your three-year-old…just hide the mushrooms)!

I  used half and half in place of whole milk here. We always have soy milk which I probably would have used except that I had some half and half leftover from another recipe. Oftentimes, I’m in a whirlwind of ingredients in the kitchen finding substitutes for recipes that I forget even the proportions, whether or not I cut the recipe in half, if I substitute dried herbs for fresh ones, or what I used when I make a sauce from scratch instead of one prepared/store-bought; but that’s the whole point of this blog!

You don’t have to have every single ingredient ever created in your kitchen to make a healthy meal. Keep your basics stocked, build you spice and herb collection, and have fun creating. Food made “with love” is always mindful of the family and what the family enjoys eating, and we all make mistakes here and there, but then you’ll know what ingredients are essential for the flavor you intend. Just remember to take notes!

Fettuccine Alfredo is actually pretty basic. Baked chicken, salt and pepper. Cream-based sauce with your favorite Italian cheeses, a little seasoning. Trial and error will get you to your personal favorite. Just make sure to always season your chicken and veggies. The butter and cream cheese make this recipe especially creamy and kid drool-worthy!

I may have split this recipe in half the first time I made it to try it so if it didn’t work out, I wasn’t wasting so much. I’ve tried many a times to make a low-fat Alfredo sauce, and it’s difficult. You really have to use whole milk or fatter or else the sauce will curdle and you’ll have to start over. There’s a lot of milk fat in this sauce, but it’s oh so scrumptious!

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips

2 packages (8 oz each) cremini mushrooms, cut into thirds

½ teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, cut into cubes

1 ½ cups grated Parmesan Cheese, plus additional for garnish

1 ½ cups whole milk

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into cubes

1 package (1 pound)  uncooked fettuccine

Chopped fresh basil (optional) I used dried basil since it was in the winter.
1. Coat inside of Crock-Pot with cooking spray. Arrange chicken in a single layer in bottom of the pot. Top with mushrooms. Sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic powder over mushrooms.

2. Cook and stir cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, milk and butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until smooth and heated through. Pour over mushrooms and chicken mixture, pushing down any that float to surface. Cover; cook on LOW 4 to 5 hours or on HIGH 2 to 2 ½ hours.

3. Cook fettuccine according to package directions. Drain. Add fettuccine to Alfredo sauce and toss gently to combine. Garnish with basil.

Chicken and Mushroom Fettuccine Alfredo, Crock-Pot Slow Cooker Recipes (binder), p. 206, Publications International, Ltd., Lincolnwood, 2013.