Friday, March 19, 2010

Speical: Granola Bars


  • 4 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups miniature semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly grease one 9x13 inch pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, flour, baking soda, vanilla, butter or margarine, honey and brown sugar. Stir in the 2 cups assorted chocolate chips, raisins, nuts etc.
  3. Lightly press mixture into the prepared pan. (I used aluminum foil under it so that it would be easy to pick up later)4. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes then cut into bars. Let bars cool completely in pan before removing or serving.

How to cook chicken in the Crock Pot


I could not decide if I should make the title of this post: How to cook chicken in a crock pot, or how to get the most chicken off the the bone. Either of these titles works for this one.

Frugal Table mommy, Sarah Anderson, told me the other day that you could cook a whole chicken in a crockpot on low for about 8 hours and it would come out super moist. I thought I would give it a shot. Happy to report: I'M TOTALLY SOLD! This is definitely THE BEST way to cook chicken. Most efficient and easiest way to cook the chicken. Thank YOU Sarah!

Since then I have been told that you can also do skinless, boneless chicken and add stuff. Kristen Herrett shared this tip on facebook: "... if you use boneless it shreds with a fork perfect for enchiladas or other Mexican dishes. I put either enchilada sauce, salsa, picante and/or canned cheddar cheese condensed soup."

Julie Van Dam shared this tip: "I do this all the time, then save the juice and make gravy out of it, cook some noodles and mix together. chicken n noodles for around $5."

Thanks to both of you for your insights. Keep them coming. :0)
I happened to use my leg quarters chicken because it was what was on sale this past week at my grocery store. Because I did this method, I got every last bit of chicken off the bone and for about $2, I have enough chicken for 3-4 meals. LOVE IT!

Cook your chicken in the crockpot in water that covers about half the chicken. Use tongs to pull chicken out and let cool on your cutting board (although you really don't need a cutting board, since you don't need a knife.)

Another option, that might make pulling the chicken out a little easier, is to drain out the chicken stock first using a pot drainer or a cooling rack.

The skin peels, correction, falls off the chicken! NO work involved. You could not keep the skin on this chicken if you tried! It started falling off the chicken as I tried to pull it out of the crockpot with my tongs. Check out how the chicken just fell right off of these bones.
LOTS of chicken all shredded up and ready to be used in some more chicken recipes!! Love it! (can you tell I am excited, to say the least) Going to go freeze some of the chicken to be used for later. Have a blessed day!


I was just checking out another adorable blog by one of our mommies out there. Remember cootie catchers? This momma made some to encourage the learning of shapes, numbers, and colors with her darlings. You'll have to check out her great ideas here. Thought this could even be a cute idea at the table when you are eating out and your kiddos are getting restless. (like that ever happens, right?)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Friday: Creamy Chicken Soup

Makes 6 (1 1/3-cup servings)

Yummy. You will love this one. Your husband and children will too. This one is also taken from the Five Ingredient, Fifteen Minute cookbook. Two easy steps. Gotta love it!

1 (9-ounce) package refrig. cheese tortellini
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 (10 ounce) cans cream of chicken soup
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
cooked diced chicken breast
1 cups fat-free milk
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. pepper

Step One: Cook tortellini according to package directions, using 1 can broth instead of water. Step Two: Add soup and remaining ingredients, stirring well. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook until thoroughly heated.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thursday: Chicken Alioli Sandwich

This idea came from a Pampered Chef "Season's Best" (those little one dollar cookbooks they sell) Cookbook, although I cannot tell you for sure which one because I had the recipe printed out because I liked it so much.


1/2 cup roasted red pepper, patted dry and finely chopped*
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbs. chives
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning mix
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. minced onion
About 2 lb. Cooked chunked chicken (I just used the meat from my roasted chicken)
Refrigerated French bread dough cooked according to directions on package (I just used the whole wheat bread I had already made from a bread machine, which does not taste as yummy and does not make the pictures nearly as enticing, but is definitely healthier... so some kind of kudos for that, right?)

Easy steps:

Here are just a couple of pictures of the red roasted pepper, drained, patted dry and chopped with food chopper.
Mix first seven ingredients. (can be done ahead of time)
Slap a little Alioli dip onto one piece of French bread.
Put chicken on tops of dip.
Finish your masterpiece with another piece of French bread. (You knew that step was coming, didn't you?)
This is an amazingly delightful sandwich! I promise you. Warning: If you cook this and are too tired to do the dishes before you go to bed, the smell of the dip in the morning will make you crave the sandwiches for breakfast. :0)

*If you are not sure where to find roasted red peppers in the store, they are by the pickles usually. Hope this helps someone. I searched all over for them before I found them.


Need a reason to sign up as a follower on Meal Planning Mommies other than staying connected to meal plans, recipes, and ridiculously cute pictures of our kids (see below!)??

Well, here is another reason: GIVE AWAY BABY!

What are we giving away....?
Not telling just yet. But, its good. It is well worth the mere seconds it will take you to become a follower.

AND, triple your chances by becoming a facebook friend and a twitter pal too!

More information on the giveaway coming soon!!!

(Katie's Kiddos! Age 3 months and 3 years. I adore my boys.)

Wednesday: Chicken and Mushroom Soup

Makes 4 (1-3/4 cup) servings

This soup is so very tasty. LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT.

1 medium leek, light green and white parts only, outer layer removed
4 cups lower-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
6 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
8 ounces brussel sprouts, halved
Salt and pepper to taste.

Trim leek, keeping root intact. Slice in half lengthwise, submerge in cold water, and rinse thoroughly to remove any dirt.

Slice into 1/4 inch pieces.

Bring broth, water, and thyme to a low boil in a large saucepan. Add leek and mushrooms ; reduce heat and simmer until leek is softened; about 5 minutes. Add chicken and Brussels sprouts. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 6 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.

Print this recipe.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A post about a post... St. Patty's Day meal...

I just ran across an adorable blog from a mom trying to get her little shnookems to eat their vegetables. Wanted to give her a little shot out and send you a link to her St. Patty's Day meal. Cabbage everyone. If you are like me and you are thinking, ", what should I do with this 18 cent cabbage I got" (always trying to keep it real), check out her blog here. :0)

Tuesday: Italian Pizza Bake

2/3 cup Bisquick Heart Smart mix
2 egg whites
2 Tbs. water
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup cut-up cooked chicken breast (from the roast)
1 cup canned diced tomatoes with Italian herbs, drained
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 8" x 8" loaf pan. Stir Bisquick mix, egg, water, and garlic powder; spread in pan.
Cook pepper and onion in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until onion is tender. Stir in chicken, tomatoes and seasoning; heat until hot. Spoon over batter in pan. Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake 20-23 minutes or until golden brown; loosen from sides of pan.
Makes 4 servings.

How long with chicken stay fresh?

Cooked chicken could be good up to 5 days, if it is in a sealed container. Raw chicken is best used within 1 or 2 days (this is arguable, some places say 2-4 days). You should store the chicken in the coldest part of the refrigerator for best shelf life or put it in freezer if not used within that time frame.

Thawed chicken should be cooked as soon as possible. If not using the chicken immediately, store in the refrigerator and use within 24 hours of thawing. Thaw frozen chicken using one of three methods: in the refrigerator; in a cold water bath, changing the water every 30 minutes; or in the microwave. If using one of the last two quick-thaw methods, cook the chicken immediately. NEVER thaw chicken at room temperature.

USDA recommends 1-2 days of refrigerated storage (40°F).

Depending upon the packaging of the chicken, how it was handled in-transit, and the temperature in the refrigerator, the chicken could last longer. For example, some refrigerators have a special meat storage drawer where the temperature is just under 32°F which will allow more shelf life.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A little report from our weekend

As some of your already know, from our tweeting and facebooking, meal planning mommies went out on the road this weekend and enjoyed a great mommies conference called the "Hearts At Home" conference. Just last week we posted a few facts from Well....we just happened to run into the one and only dine without whine author, Christine, at one of the booths there!!! So, of course we got a picture taken with her and we will be posting some of her meal ideas for kiddos in the near future!!! So excited. Here's a picture of us striking a pose with Christine Steendahl...Okay, one other crazy thing that happened...on my (Out of the Box mommy's) ride home I got a busted up tire half way home. What was going to be a 4 hour trip home turned into a TEN hour trip!!! Just wanted a post a pic of the tire. I was in Dwight, Illinois at the time and the sweetest guys stopped to help me. Everyone was so nice and I am happy to tell you that after the help of two college guys, one state officer, and one car mechanic, I am home safe and sound. I will tell you though, that it was a crazy night for my husband who kept having to explain to my 2 and 4 year olds why mommy is not going to be coming home before they go to bed, after all. He's a good sport. Many praises to our dear husbands who let us all go for a weekend and refresh, resulting in us come up with some fun new ideas for this site, as well as, some great times of reconnecting!

Facebook badge and LOVE to our fans!!

Okay, so I am coming out of the stone age and I am so happy about it! Figured out how to make a facebook badge and a fan page! Click on it and add yourself as a fan. If you do you will be entered into a giveaway in the future that we have coming up, and you will get in on some tips to use in your kitchen. Stay tuned for more info on the giveaway. To wet your appetite (no pun intended) we'll just say "it's something you can use at your dinner table to spice up some new, fun conversation with your kiddos".

We absolutely love our readers and responders! Over 15,000 hits this past month from all over the world! Some of you even from Spain, France, Romania and some of your from right next door!!! We love seeing that you have come to our site!!! Thank you so much to those of you who keep coming back, and to those of you who have offered encouraging words along the way. Out of the Box mommy has been out of the scene for a little while, and is happy to report that I am baaaaaaack! And we're better than ever. We've got a lot of fun stuff coming up, so keep coming back!

Monday: Roasted Chicken with broccoli and mac and cheese

Mac and cheese from a box, broccoli from a bag, and a great big fat chicken makes this dinner easy and effortless.

1 Whole chicken (3-5 lbs.) will be used for other recipes this week.
1 box of macaroni and cheese
milk and butter for macaroni and cheese
broccoli (I used a steamers bag from the frozen section at the store)

Not sure how to roast a big, fat chicken? The truth is, there are many moms who are afraid to cook a whole chicken in fear that they won't do it right and it won't be cooked enough. Really, though, it is very easy, and all you need to make sure it is cooked enough is a thermometer. I am using my Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker and cooking our chicken in the microwave, actually. In just one half hour, I can cook an entire chicken in my microwave using my deep covered baker. This chicken will be used for several meals this week, but the first meal is eating the chicken with macaroni and cheese and broccoli.
Start by taking your chicken out of it's packaging and reaching in and pulling out its inards (giblets) :) Definitely, my least favorite part. Using clean hands, run some cold water over your chicken and wipe dry with a paper towel. Stick your chicken in your baker and brush with olive oil. I sprinkled mine with rosemary seasoning. Other good seasonings with chicken are thyme, sage, or tarragon. If you are using a deep covered baker (which is a piece of stoneware) you can cook it on high for one half hour in your microwave, and then check its temperature. If you are using a roaster in the oven as a general rule, calculate a cooking time of 20 minutes per pound of meat plus an additional 10 - 20 minutes at a temperature of 350ºF (176ºC). Therefore, a 5 lb chicken will need to be roasting in the oven for at least 1h 50 mins.
2½ - 3 lbs should take 1 - 1¾ hrs
3½ - 4 lbs should take 1½ - 1¾ hrs
4½ - 5 lbs should take 1½ - 2 hrs
5 - 6 lbs should take 1¾ - 2½ hrs

A thoroughly cooked chicken should be a temperature of 180 degrees, when using a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken's thigh, without touching the bone.
I typically will wait a little bit for the chicken to cool and then cut into it. Every time, I always end up using my hands to get the rest of the meat off because I don't want to waste any of it. Don't be afraid to tough your chicken.

Next up: the broccoli.We used broccoli cut steamers with our chicken and sprayed on some "I can't believe it's not butter" and sprinkled a little salt. Serve and smile.
Refrigerate your leftover chicken for other meals this week.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Out of the Box Meal Plan

This is a week of chicken. I am offering a week of meals using a great big fat chicken. Monday I will show you how to roast the chicken, and then Tuesday-Friday we will be making meals using that chicken. All of them I LOVE! Here's the meal plan this week:

Monday: Roasted Chicken with broccoli and mac and cheese
Tuesday: Italian Pizza Bake
Wednesday: Chicken and Mushroom Soup (actually VERY healthy and so tasty)
Thursday: Chicken Alioli Sandwiches
Friday: Creamy Chicken Soup
Special: Granola Bars