Showing posts with label Lunch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lunch. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Busy Busy Busy!!

 Busy is one way to describe how September has been!  I think I need to write the whole month off from trying to get anything done.  It's been hectic with getting 3 kids ready to back to school.  This week even Little Boy Bacon took his first ride on the bus.  He was quite excited for his first day of preschool.  Last week was just as busy when we celebrated Bacon Bit's first birthday!  I'm not quite sure where a year went but some one told him my baby could turn one.  We had a great day celebrating him and he enjoyed his cake as well.  Like every birthday we have here, I made a special cake.  The kids and Mr. Bacon helped pick out Bacon Bit's cake and the cow won over the owl cake I found.  So cow cake it was!  Even a smash cow cake for Bacon Bit.  And as you can see from the picture, he didn't do too bad demolishing it either!

Other things keeping me busy are getting lunches packed and ready for the school day.  With Bacon Jr. going to school every day and Little Miss Bacon going every other, I have a lot to keep track of.  Packing snacks and lunches is no longer done in the morning, but started at night and assembled into the bag in morning. I just haven't had enough coffee to think straight, much less manage to send a good lunch while getting hair and teeth brushed and shoes tied before they are headed out the door.   I think I need more of that mommy magic Mr. Bacon always tells me I must have in order to get everything done.

I picked up a few helpers to keep my days going a bit easier since back to school started.  One was our lunch menu.  Each day before bed the kids have to let me know what they would like for lunch and snack the next day and then go pick out clothes.  We've always made a list of the things the kids would like to take for school lunches and let them pick what they would like.  But we ran into the problem of not always having what they want for lunch from the list on hand in the house.  And you know we don't make extra trips to the store around here!  My solution?  A dry erase board!  I found these tucked in the dollar spot at Target the other day and picked up two of them.
 The first one is for lunches, one side lets the kids know just what we have in the house to make for lunches.  They pick one choice from the first column, 2 choices from the middle and 1 again from the last.  Works like a charm and the kids like this 'resturauint' style ordering for their lunch.  The back side I list the snacks we can pack them for school snack time.  Keeps everything in one spot and I can easily add what I bake or erase what is used up from the list. 
 I liked the idea so much I took the other board I bought and made our meal plan on it.  One side for week one, the other for week 2.  Now the kids can stop asking what we are having for dinner tonight since it's right on there!  Also it's staring me in the face every time I walk in the kitchen so I know what I need to make for dinner and can plan my day. 
As you can see, last night was curly chicken & peas.  I've had a few readers ask what it is and many more request the recipe.  I had thought it was posted on here already since this is one of our standard easy go-to meals, but I guess not.  I love this one because it's an all in one meal that can be done in 30 minutes or less. Here is what you need:

Curly chicken and peas
(If you are wondering about the name, Bacon Jr named it when we created the meal when he was 3!)

1 lb chicken breast- cut up
favorite seasoning- I use Mc Cormick's garlic and herb
1tbsp olive oil
2.5 cups uncooked pasta(we use rotini)
1.5-2 cups frozen peas
1/2 stick butter
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

First start your pan of water to boil.  Then saute the chicken with oil and favorite seasonings. 
 Once the water is boiling toss in your noodles and peas. Let the water return to a boil and then turn it down to med. heat and let the pasta cook until tender. 

 Do you notice anything in the right picture?  Did you spy my mystery noodle?!  Mr. Bacon recently started this when making dinner.  Our kids sometimes seem opposed to eating certain noodles, so he thought a game would be fun while we eat.  When we cook our pasta, we toss in a few of each noodle we have in the house.  As we spoon dinner onto the kids plates, they have fun searching to see what kinds and how many mystery noodles they got.  And they have fun eating them and deciding if they taste different from each other. Little Miss Bacon swears they do. 

Once both the chicken and noodles are cooked it's time to assemble it.  Drain the noodles and peas an then dump them in with the chicken (ok plan ahead here and cook the chicken in a big enough pan to hold the cooked noodles too).  Add your butter and grated cheese to them and toss until the butter and cheese are melted.  You can adjust the amount of butter and cheese used to your liking.  Just try some after it's melted and see if it's enough. 

Looks pretty good to me! A super quick dinner for those busy nights. I bet it takes less time than waiting in the drive-thru line too!  Well at least it will taste better and be cheaper than the drive-thru food.   Enjoy!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

International Bacon day?

 Have you heard of this before?  Huh, me either!  But someone informed me that yesterday was international bacon day.  A quick internet search shows some disagreement for when the actual day is, but most say it's celebrated the Saturday before the United States Labor day.  Seems like Ma Bacon needed to celebrate this.  So I may be a day late, but not a dollar short!  I just so happened to have planned a post that involved some bacon!

I've had several people ask me for our Chicken wrap recipe. Really this has to be one of the easiest meals we make. It's a great meal for a warm summer day, and perfect for that busy week night meal.  Which I'm sure some of you are looking for quick meals with the busy school and sport season starting.  I know our kids are looking forward to school starting this week. (Yes in Minnesota school doesn't start until after Labor day!)

So how can you fix up a fast Ranch Bacon Chicken Wrap?  Read on!

What you need:
3/4 - 1 lb chicken breast, cut into pieces
1/2 pound cooked bacon- crumbled
shredded cheese
ranch dressing
tortilla wraps
Anything else you like to toss into a wrap

Saute chicken breast in 1-2 TBSP olive oil and add your favorite seasonings to it too.  Cook until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.  Cook up your half pound of bacon.  However you choose to cook it works, for a quick night I use our microwave bacon pan.  Once I was in a really big hurry and happened to have a package of 'real' bacon bits in the pantry, those worked just fine too!  Heck you can even leave out the bacon if you REALLY want to.  But everything is better with bacon right?  If you've cooked it up, now is the time to crumble it into small pieces. 

Cut up your lettuce, tomato, and other toppings you'd like. 
Now it's ready to assemble.  Take a tortilla and add some ranch dressing.
 Next add chicken, bacon and your favorite toppings.  Roll it up and you have a yummy quick dinner.  These make great lunches to pack for school as well. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It's just BIG chicken!

"I want chicken nuggets for dinner!"  Ever heard that one before? If not you must not have kids.  In my quest for what to make the kids for dinner one night I was begged and begged for chicken nuggets.  I finally gave in under one stipulation, I was making them from scratch.  Oh the moans and groans I got!  "No I want the one's in the freezer that we buy at the store." Miss Bacon exclaimed rather loudly.  I explained to her those chicken nuggets were just treats that we got sometimes.  But I did make her a promise mine would taste just like them, only bigger. She agree but not before telling me she wouldn't eat them if they didn't taste the same. Nothing like setting standards!  

I took 1 pound of chicken tenders and got to work!
Here is what else you'll need:
2 eggs
1/2 cup or so of flour
1 cup or so bread crumbs- I had a box of panko on hand, and I do say they make good breadcrumbs. Normally I just make my own from the butts of the bread.
favorite seasonings- I kept it simple with some salt and pepper

First take a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Then place each flour, bread crumbs and seasonings, and beaten eggs in separate bowls. 

Now it's time to get messy.  First take your chicken breast and cut it to desired size.  If you truly want nuggets, just cut the chicken smaller. You may need more breadcrumbs since there will be more to coat so keep the box handy.

Dip the chicken in flour.
Then dip it in the egg wash.
And roll it in the bread crumbs. 
Place the coated chicken on your baking sheet.  I baked mine at 350* for 25 minutes since I had bigger chicken tenders.  Cook them until the insides are white and no juice runs out.  I did flip mine at the half way point as well. 
And there you have it, homemade chicken nuggets.  The kids LOVED them.  Miss Bacon exclaimed "Mom, it's just BIG chicken!" and she ate almost 2 of them.  Even Bacon big had his share of chicken nuggets that night.  We paired these with some fries and fresh fruit.  It was an easy dinner for us.  These can also be frozen and heated in the microwave for quick lunches.  I did that with the leftovers and Bacon Bit has been one happy camper! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Whats for lunch? What's for dinner?

Some days I just DREAD those questions.  I don't know, let me find my menu list...humm.. nope that doesn't sound good. What else is in the cupboards?  Sound familiar?  But for once, I had it all planned out. I had a super cute idea for the kids lunch which I knew they would love.  And dinner I was actually looking forward to what I had planned. Mainly because it was one of those delicious bacon wrapped pork loins I told you about here

Lets start with lunch.  Since schools been out for three weeks now (yes I've survived 3 weeks so far, and I haven't started counting when they go back yet, so that's a good sign that we are having a lot of fun!) I wanted to do something fun for lunch time.  I've seen this idea a lot of places that involve muffin tins.  You fill up each cup with a different item and VIOLA! easy lunch!  My kids love the idea of 'snacks' for lunch  or dinner so I knew they would gobble up this idea and they did.  I had fun finding different things to put in each cup too.  We have decided to try to make this a once a week lunch adventure too. If you are wondering there are PB crackers, cheese, skittles, pepperoni, strawberries and apples.  Little Miss Bacon had yogurt in her's since she doesn't eat cheese. I know, who would have thought there were kids out there that don't like cheese!

So we have lunch covered, one down, one to go!   I relaxed all afternoon with the relief of knowing what I was making for dinner.  It was nice. So about 4 pm I went and dug out the pork loin from the freezer so I could start on dinner.  Ok so it was kinda late to get started, we got busy playing and the day slipped away from me so I had to thaw the pork in the microwave.  I tossed the package of frozen pork in the micro and started in dicing my potatoes.  BEEP, BEEP. Meat's thawed.  Took the package out of the microwave and learned a good lesson the hard way!  I didn't defrost pork loin, I defrosted pork CHOPS. UGH.  There is a very good reason why when you buy foods in bulk and food save them and stick them in the freezer you should label them.  Why we didn't write on them like we always do I don't know.  I blame it on lack of sleep and mommy brain!

So now what am I going to do. I could attempt to do bacon wrapped chops, sounds good, but not as good as loin.  I decided barbecued chops sounded good.  Mr. Bacon wasn't to be home from work for a while yet, and lets face it my grilling skills are no where near what my baking skills are so grilling was out of the question.  I decided to bake them in BBQ sauce.

The pork chops were the easy part- place some BBQ sauce on the bottom of my pan, lay in the chops, cover with sauce.  Place in 350* oven.  

  There that wasn't hard!  Now what do I do with these potatoes I already diced up?
Honestly I was thinking that twice baked potatoes sound awesome to have with these chops.  But that takes along time to make.  And I already have a bunch of cut up potatoes.  Then the light bulb went off!   Why not make the diced potatoes with the twice baked ingredients on them?!  Yes sometimes the brain works, it just takes some time. 
 I dug though the fridge and pulled out what I normally place in a twice baked potato.  Milk, sour cream, ranch dressing, butter (melted), cheese and bacon.  Well I didn't have cooked up, crumbled bacon so I improvised with some 'Bacon,Bacon' from tastefully simple I had in my cupboard.  I will tell you I didn't measure anything. I just dumped and poured until it looked good. I was pressed on time to get these in the oven and have them done in time to have with dinner.  So if you are going to try this, you'll just have to wing it and use your best guess.  I poured  all the ingredients in a bowl and mixed well until everything was coated.  Then I tossed it in a well greased 9x13 pan and placed it in the oven too. 
 Oh and because I'm a super awesome good mom, I put some potatoes in a separate baking dish and put my usual spices on them with some oil since I knew Little Miss Bacon wouldn't come near my others!  She was very happy and ate everything in her 'special' dish! Which I was happy with since it was a whole potato cut up in there!
 I let everything bake for about an hour and a half.  How did it turn out?  DELICIOUS!  It was a great dinner.  Not bad for having to improvise last minute.  Goes to show you not everything goes as planned, but it wasn't hard to save the day! (or err.. dinner!)

Monday, June 20, 2011

S'more's and Sushi

What a combination huh?!  That is what we cooked up at the bacon house for lunch today.  Now before you think my kids are real adventurous with their foods, read on!  It's a colder damp day around here, and lots of rambunctious kids running around so I needed something to stop them in their tracks for lunch today.  I was searching the other day on my newly founded favorite site Pinterest.  Anyone else on there?  I have to say it's addictive but I love that I can see all the great ideas I find on the Internet and organize them in one spot.  If you've never been to the site, it's a great!  In the past I would find an idea I wanted to try out and book mark the site.  But then my mommy brain would kick in I'd forget what I book marked!  Now I can save all the great ideas in one spot, have them by category and find them easy again by pictures.  The other great thing is you can browse other people's boards too and see what great ideas they've found and 'pin' them onto your board.  Now lets see if I can actually find time make all the things I've found!

So while searching that wonderful and addictive website I found PB&J sushi rolls.  Perfect for lunch today!  I used both tortillas and bread for our rolls.  For the bread I rolled them flat using my handy pastry roller, but you can also use a cup!  Cut them into strips about 1.5- 2 inches, spread some PB & J and roll up!   I earned extra points by adding some chopsticks to eat them with!  They are so cute, and yummy!

For dessert we needed a sweet treat too.  Again from that fun site I was able to find these s'more's on a stick.  Another great idea that even the kids can help with.  

Here's what you need:
 Graham crackers
Chocolate chips
sticks- I had these fancy sucker one's leftover from an attempt to make cake balls, but popsicle sticks would work too.

First crush your graham crackers in a baggie and then dump them in a bowl.

 Place your chocolate chips in a microwave safe dish. As for how many I used, I just guessed.  I wasn't making a ton of these so I think it was about 1/3 of a cup of chips.  Microwave until they are melted and stir. 

Prepare your marshmallows by inserting a stick into them.

Then start dipping them into your chocolate.  Roll them in the crushed graham crackers and place on wax paper.  Tada -  S'mores on a stick!  Now you can eat them just this way.  The warm chocolate reminded me of how they are around the campfire.  Or you can stick them in the freezer to let them firm up a little.  Once you pull them out of the freezer, stick them in the microwave for a few seconds- 5 was long enough for mine.  You want to watch the marshmallow start to puff up.  Then pull them out.  The marshmallow will be soft inside but the chocolate outside is still hard- delicious! Either way they are really good! Enjoy!

Ok I know  I'm late at adding this, but I thought I'd show off what else I did today.  Yes I've been busy! I had found this cute lovie on pinterest too!  I knew I had to make one so I broke out some paper to make a pattern and my sewing machine and about a half hour later 'Tilly' was born!  Bacon Bit LOVES it!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Pack a lunch or not?

Each weekday morning I get up and pack some lunches, none of them my own. But that's ok because that's part of the whole budget thing. Mr. Bacon does not have the option to buy his lunch at work. To me this is a huge budget saver for us. We are forced to pack a lunch each day for him or he'd go hungry. Or worse yet eat out of the vending machine! So each night after dinner I pack up the leftovers for Mr. Bacon lunch the next day.

That only takes care of one of the lunches I need to make. The other is for Bacon Jr. Being in school every day, he either has to bring his own lunch or have the school lunch. Now I have to say looking over his school lunch menu, it doesn't sound all that bad! BUT, it's cost is $1.75 a day. And for our family to stay on budget, I get up and pack a lunch. Now you're thinking $1.75 a day doesn't sound all that bad. In fact it's cheaper than a lot of other schools out there. But as Bacon jr. pointed out to me, there are 180 days of school each year. Breaking out my trusty calculator that comes out to $315 a school year. Right now that might be manageable, but in 7 years when Bacon bit is in school full time and we have to pay for 4 kids, that comes to $1260 a school year! Add on the other things they need for school like milk for snack, sports, field trips... It's a huge bust on the budget.

Packing a lunch isn't that much work in the morning. Something to drink, a sandwich, some fruit, a cookie sounds good right? One thing to keep a watch for is making sure what you are packing for lunch doesn't cost more than buying school lunch. Making stuff homemade helps and tastes better. To make sure there is some variety Bacon jr has a menu to choose from at home, but last year he didn't want much variety. He was content taking good old PB&J. The catch, he wouldn't eat the crust no matter what I tried. And I hated throwing away half a sandwich everyday. So I needed a solution. I was browsing blogs one day when I came across a post from my friend the little frugalista about homemade uncrustable sandwiches Here. And it was like a light went off, a true why didn't I think of it moment. So I started making Bacon jr. homemade uncrustable's and guess what, he ate all of it. (and yes I save the crust, dry it out and make breadcrumbs in case you were wondering what happened to it)
Now it's no rocket science making one, 2 slices of bread, some PB&J, and a wide mouth canning ring. Spread the PB&J on the bread and use the ring to cut it with (any larger cookie cutter will work too!) Now if you want to really save yourself time in the morning, these can be frozen just like the one's in the store too. One tip for freezing, you want to spread peanut butter on both pieces of bread before putting the jelly on them to keep the bread from getting soggy. You can seal them together by using a fork to crimp the edges too. Wrap them in plastic wrap and stick them in the freezer. Take one out and toss it in the lunch box in the morning and it should be thawed by lunch time.

As for other things to pack, I use a re-usable thermos for kool-aid, water or milk, I put some of my own canned peaches or pears or a cut up apple (another tip, rub some lemon juice on the cut apple to keep it from turning brown and no it won't taste like lemons when it's eaten) in a small container. Toss in a homemade cookie or granola bar and you've got a lunch without busting your budget. Speaking of those granola bars, I make them too, don't they look good! I made a batch today and added some fun halloween sprinkles to the top.

Here's a really simple no bake recipe.

Granola bars:

2.5 cups crispy rice cereal (rice krispies)
2 cups quick oats oatmeal
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup raisins

In bowl place cereal, oats and raisins and set aside. In sauce pan, bring brown sugar and corn syrup to a boil, stir often. Once it's boiling, remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Once smooth, pour over cereal mixture and mix well. Let cool for a few minutes and then stir in chocolate chips ( if you don't let it cool for a bit and add in the chocolate, they will melt!). Press firmly in greased 9x13 pan and allow to cool. Once cool cut into bars. Store in air tight container.

Once again this is a recipe you can change up. The bars pictured above, I didn't put in the raisins. I doubled the chocolate chips to 1 cup and used mini chocolate chips instead. Pretty much you can add what ever you'd like, some chopped nuts and cranberries, just raisins, how about some peanut butter chips or mini M&M's? The possibilities are endless and the best part is the kids LOVE them. I even sneak some in Mr. Bacon's lunch! Go on give them a try and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"Mom, can I have a snack?"

How often do you hear that?! What does your snack shelf look like? One thing you won't find in our shopping cart on grocery day is a lot of processed and prepackaged snacks. Nope, there's no chips, no prepackaged or bakery cookies, candies, or fruit snacks (ok usually it's rare when we do buy these things, but I admit we all get a 'treat' once in a while). Around our house, our snacks are pretty simple or homemade. Today we made peanut butter crispy bars. And they were a huge hit!
We had all the ingredients on hand which made it a bit easier to make ( I will admit, this is one of our more spendy snacks if I had to go buy all these items at once but they taste so YUMMY, the kids have fun helping out and they're still cheaper then buying something similar already made at the store!). This is all we needed. And the kids had fun helping out making them too.

Peanut butter Krispy bars:
1 Cup sugar
1 Cup light corn syrup
1 cup PB
6 cups rice crispy type cereal (or special K or cherrios also work)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 Cup butterscotch chips

Melt sugar and corn syrup in kettle on stove, just until dissolved, take off heat and mix in 1 cup peanut butter. Pour over cereal and mix. Press into a greased 9x13 pan. When Cooled, melt both chips in microwave safe container until melted, spread over top of bars like frosting. Once cool- ENJOY!

Want a treat that's just as yummy but a bit cheaper? How about just some plan rice crispy bars?! For about $2 you can make a whole pan of bars yourself, you'd spend almost twice that buying a little box of 6 pre-wrapped one's in the store.

Rice crispy bar treats

6 cups rice crispy type cereal
1 bag of marshmallows (large or small work)
1/2 stick butter

Melt butter and marshmallows in microwave safe bowl for about 1-2 min until butter is melted, Mix together. Pour over cereal and mix completely. Press into greased 9x13 pan and let cool. Enjoy!

These are great in the summer because I don't have to heat up my oven to make them, helping it stay cooler inside!

But it's not every day we bake some kind of yummy treat. Other snacks in our house include pudding and Jello, but not those store bought, pre-made kind that cost about a buck a 4-pack (you're thinking, but it's ONLY a dollar- it still adds up!) For about .50 a I can buy a box of Jello or pudding mix. And last year I invested in some small containers that work out perfect for the right size snack. These are tupperware snack containers, I bought a big lot (20 of them!) off ebay for a great price. Well worth it, my kids use these all the time.

One box of pudding mix makes up 5 little containers like these. Best thing is the pudding is made with milk, so I know my kids are also getting some much needed calcium too!

Here is a list of some of the other things we have on hand for snack time:
  • Fruit or veggies
  • dry cereal- cherrios are a huge hit with Little Miss Bacon and Little boy Bacon
  • Animal crackers
  • homemade cookies-I get about 3-4 dozen from a batch for less than the bakery price of 12!
  • Yogurt
  • homemade popsicles (from juice, kool-aid, yogurt or pudding)
  • homemade trail mix: peanuts, raisins, a handful of chocolate chips or m&m's. Don't have a nut eater or have small kids, make a trail mix out of cereal instead of the nuts
  • crackers
  • home made chex mix
This is just a short list of some of the snacks we have. By making our own at home instead of buying store bought items, we keep to our budget and save money.