Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Frugal Table Meal Plan

Hey, it's Sarah from the Frugal Table! I have been looking forward to posting this week because I have been experimenting with a new Cuban recipe AND I have THREE AWESOME GIVEAWAYS FOR YOU! That's right- THREE! You will want to check back often to see when they are posted so you don't miss your chance to enter!


Here is the plan for the week:


Monday: Cuban Chicken, Black Beans, and corn tortillas



Tuesday: Taco Macaroni and Cheese with green beans





Wednesday: Homemade Pizza Duo with mixed veggies





Thursday: Baked Chicken Marsala w/ Steamed Broccoli and Brown Rice




Friday: Waffles with Strawberries





And for Dessert...

Peanut Butter Pie






Rainbow Cupcakes





Katie's Apple and Carrot Muffins

Making your kids eat healthy?


Okay, so you may have noticed a little theme going on this week. I, out of the box mommy, am going to start working on being a little less "out of the pantry" and slightly more "out of produce section". Obviously, everyone knows that produce is the way to go if you are striving to eat healthy. I mean, of all the diets and help books out there, nobody would ever argue that eating vegetables is a good idea. Most moms want to figure out how to "make" their kids eat healthy, and many moms find it a challenge. This week I have provided a couple of recipes offering ways to "sneak" nutrition in, as well as a couple of snacking ideas to make eating healthy fun. I will continue to strive to be better about this, but please go easy on me, as I am a big fan of the "not so healthy" choices. I have been known to say things like, "WE EAT WHAT WE LIKE" and think I am cute and witty. I do want to direct you to a post I was reading today that I thought was superb, for you mommas out there that are with me on this journey.

In the post, titled, "Ask the Expert-- Developing a Taste for Fruits and Veggies," Family Physician Dr. Michelle May offers a few tips on helping your toddler develop a taste for fruits and veggies. She gives ten practical tips. Here are her ten tips:
  1. Relax- having a positive, low-key attitude about eating makes meal time more pleasant and therefore feeding more successful.
  2. Follow the leader – make family meals a high priority and be a great role model by serving and eating a variety of fruits and veggies.
  3. Don’t be a short order cook – fix one balanced meal for everyone in the family. Remember, it is your responsibility to decide what you will offer but it is up to them whether they will eat it.
  4. Make it fun – when my kids were small, we played Guess the Color. They closed their eyes and tried to guess the color of the food I put in their mouth. They were having too much fun to realize that the most colorful foods happen to be vegetables.
  5. Serve the vegetables first – they are more likely to eat them when they are hungry.
  6. Don’t bribe or reward children for eating certain foods -they quickly realize that those foods must be yucky if you have to bribe them to eat them. They also learn to hold out until the reward is offered.
  7. Involve your child in shopping for, preparing and serving food – they are more likely to eat it because they participated in the process. At two, my son’s job was to tear up the lettuce and drop it in the bowl. The first time he helped, we made the mistake of telling him to tear it into “bite-sized pieces.” You guessed it…he bit off pieces of the lettuce and spit them into the bowl!
  8. Be creative – add carrots to spaghetti sauce, spinach to meat loaf, tomatoes to toasted cheese and bananas to peanut butter sandwiches. Keep fresh fruit and cut up vegetables handy for snack time and offer fruit-based desserts.
  9. Easy on the juice and “fruit drinks” – they don’t pack much of a nutritional punch and may just add unnecessary sugar to your child’s diet.
  10. Don’t give up!It can take up to ten exposures to a particular food before a child will accept it. Maybe she doesn’t like steamed broccoli and cauliflower but will have fun dipping fresh Trees and Clouds into a little ranch dressing.

Need a Mother's Day gift Idea?

We were given the chance to try out some jewelry in exchange for telling you all our honest opinion of the product.

Women + Tired Moms + Free Jewelry = YES!

LuShae Jewelry has many items available for purchase such as: pendants, rings, earrings and bracelets. I had a hard time choosing which piece to review, but I chose: Lavender Hanging Bliss.




I have extremely sensitive skin, so I was a bit worried that the necklace would irritate my skin, but I was able to wear this necklace for 2 days straight before my skin became irritated. When I received the necklace my first thought was, wow it really is as sparkly as I thought it would be! The color of the stone was very true to what was pictured and the necklace was even more beautiful in person. The necklace is well made and I have no concerns that it will break. Absolutely gorgeous and a fantastic surprise! I feel like a million bucks wearing this necklace. You would never know that it is CZ!



Out of the Box Mommy, Alisha Hughes chose: Evening Teardrop

"I have trained myself to be very frugal, and rarely splurge on something really nice just for myself, (typical mom, right?) so this necklace was such a treat. I loved that the piece I picked out was chic and sophisticated for the times when I am try to dress it up a little bit, but not so flashy that I am self-conscious...being someone who rarely gets super dressed up. I can put it on and instantly feel like I have done something to help myself look nice. (never really seemed like that big a deal until I had three kids under the age of 5) :) I also really liked how convenient it was to order online and not have to mess with the whole jewelry shop experience. Seriously, if you have toddlers, have had toddlers, or have even looked at a toddler before, you can understand why taking 3 to a jewelry shop full of glass boxes with flashy things in them would be a bad idea! ;0) I LOVED IT!"


If you haven't finished your Mother's Day present, be sure to check out LuShae Jewelry!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Super Saturday snack idea: Fruit Kabobs

My kids LOVED this, and I did too. They are so yummy, and so easy. You can make several ahead of time and pop them in your fridge until you are ready to serve a snack. Guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser.
Ingredients:
Several fruits cut, or peeled, and made into little pieces about 1 inch by 1 inch
Dry Spaghetti
Push pieces of fruit onto your dry spaghetti, one at a time.
Smile and serve. :) EASY BUTTON!
Here's a picture of my darling 2 year old, who could not figure out the kabob as quickly as her four year old brother. She kept trying to go for the middle fruit first. ;)
For one more fun way to eat fruit on a stick, check out the watermelon pop stars here. Another super fun idea I found on FamilyFun.com was to make a kabob, using things you would put in a sandwich! These can be made in a similar fashion. Check out this adorable picture I got from the Family Fun website.

Dining Out Deals

The bad news is, I am getting this up later than I wanted to today. The good news is that it is still Friday where I live, so I am posting these on Friday, as promised. ;0)
Here are some smashin, deals so you can pick a day to dine out with your family this week, without breaking into your kid's piggy bank to do so!
Buffalo Wild Wings cuts $5 off orders of $25 or more via this printable coupon. That's the best such offer we've seen from this restaurant chain this year. This coupon is for dine-in only and is not valid on Boneless Thursdays or Wing Tuesdays. Click here to find a location near you. Coupon ends May 7.

(Thank Dealnews.com!)


At Backyard Burger, the first 100 customers on Saturday, May 1st, from 10AM-11:55PM, will receive a FREE Back Yard Burger; click here for more information. Be sure to sign up for the eCLUB here and you’ll be entered to win Weber grills, Backyard Grill Kits, Gift Cards and more throughout the month of May!

(Thank, Who Said Nothing In Life Is Free!)

If you have a Friendly’s nearby (I so wish I did), you may be excited about this new coupon they have available! Just go here to print a coupon valid for a FREE Entree Salad with the purchase of one! I love these type of restaurant coupon. They make it so easy to go out to lunch or dinner while still sticking to your budget! (Thanks, “Deal” ightful Savings!)

Jack in the Box just released another yummy coupon! Go here to print a coupon valid for a FREE Deli Trio Grilled Sandwich with ANY purchase! Purchase small fries or a small drink and you can get a FREE sandwich. Great deal! **Please note: This coupon is not valid in Austin, TX, Beaumont/Pt. Arthur, TX, Boise, ID, Lake Charles, LA, Seattle, WA, Tulsa, OK, Twin Falls, ID, Waco, TX, and Yakima, WA.

(Thank you Hip2Save!)

And, here's one for date night: At Olive Garden restaurants, use this printable coupon to get $2.50 off your dinner entrée. Better yet, it can be used for up to two dinners, for a total of $5 off. That's the best dollar-off coupon we've seen from Olive Garden. Click here to find an Olive Garden location near you. Coupon ends May 7.

(Thanks Dealnews!)

Thru 5/31, Jamba Juice is celebrating their 20th anniversary by offering up some great daily deals:

*Monday: $3 Ideal Meals
*Buy 2 Tuesday – buy one get one free
*Wake up Wednesday – $2 Steel Cut Oatmeal
*Tasty Thursday – $1 Baked Good w/ Beverage Purchase
*All Fruit Friday – $3 All Fruit Smoothies

**You can head on over here to check out all the yummy details!

(Thanks, The Frugal Find!)

Sign up for the Corner Bakery ecafe and you’ll receive a coupon for a FREE fresh baked cookie in your welcome email! Yummy!

**Check Corner Bakery Cafe locations here.

(Thanks, This Frugal Life!)

And for those of you who don't have any of these restaurants in your area, you can score a $25 gift certificate on restaurant.com for $2 right now. For some of you this is not a new idea. If you have never tried Restaurant.com, here are the juicy details...

*Click here to find a restaurant in your neighborhood (you can search by zip code or city)

*Browse through the list of participating restaurants in your area (you will be able to view the menu, location, and phone # for each restaurant)

*Pick your restaurant and the appropriate gift certificate amount and then click add to cart; Be sure to read the restaurant’s special instructions before purchasing the certificate; many restaurants require that you make a minimum purchase in order to use the certificate (i.e. minimum purchase of $35 is required to use a $25 restaurant.com certificate), many add 18% gratuity prior to the certificate being applied, some state valid for food or dinner only, and some restrict the days that the certificate can be used (i.e. Monday-Friday only).

*Enter the promo code MEAL into the “Promo Code” box in the shopping cart; your 80% discount will then be applied to your purchase. AND your final cost for a $25 certificate will be just $2! :)

*When you complete the transaction for your gift certificate, you will receive a confirmation page and an email that will allow you to customize, print, and/or email the certificate to someone; certificates can be customized with a choice of a background picture, a specific message, and the recipient’s name and you may also opt to receive notification when the recipients receives and opens the email…makes it super easy to send the certificate as a gift to someone special!

*Once redeemed, the restaurant specific certificates are good for one year from the date of purchase, although there are exceptions depending upon the state you live in; click here to read the restaurant.com terms and conditions

(Thanks Hip2Save!)

Toddler Meal: Meatballs using green puree

Another meal idea using the green puree. Spagetti with meatballs, or meatball sandwiches. These meatballs are so very tasty tasty. Mmmm...Try them out.


INGREDIENTS:
• 6 to 8 tablespoons Green Puree
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup wheat germ, unsweetened
• 1 large egg, beaten
• 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, for browning meatballs


DIRECTIONS:
In a large bowl, combine the Green Puree and tomato paste, mixing well (with the back of a fork) until the green color turns brownish. Mix in salt, wheat germ, and egg, and finally add the ground meat and mix with hands until well combined. Using damp hands, pinch off about 2 teaspoons of meat and gently shape mixture into mini meatballs.

(Below are 2 ways to cook the meatballs, depending on how much time you have. You will definitely get out of the kitchen quicker with the oven-baked method, and the result is nearly as good as the pan frying.)

Brown-in-pan method:
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large (10 inch or 12 inch) nonstick skillet over moderately high heat, until hot but not smoking.

2. Add meatballs in four batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Allow to brown on all sides for about 5 minutes, turning occasionally with the help of 2 teaspoons.

3. Reduce heat to low and cook through for another 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and add more oil as needed for the next batch.

4. Serve with toothpicks as " cocktail" meatballs, dropped in almost any soup, or smothered in pasta sauce over spaghetti.

Oven-baked method: (I did this one)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a large cookie sheet with 2 tablespoons of oil, gently place meatballs on sheet, and bake for 10 minutes. Using a spatula to loosen, turn the meatballs over to brown on the other side, then return to oven for another 10 minutes.

2. Serve with toothpicks as " cocktail" meatballs, dropped in almost any soup, or smothered in Easy Homemade Pasta Sauce over spaghetti.

My family just used our spaghetti noodles and spaghetti sauce we already had on hand, to save on time, but Missy Chase Lapine has an excellent recipe for "Saucy" Meat Sauce in her book, and it is truly chock full of good stuff for you. If you are interested in that recipe, and several of her other recipes as well, you can find it here on Google Books.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Watermelon Pop Stars

Taken from Family Fun Magazine
Ingredients
  • Watermelon
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Star-shaped cookie cutter

Instructions
  1. Use a cookie cutter to cut juicy star shapes from 1-inch-thick slices of seedless watermelon.

  2. Insert a Popsicle stick into each star, then set the pops on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.

  3. Cover the stars with another sheet of foil and freeze for 1 hour or until firm.

Snack Time!

Found this article today on FamilyFun.com. Thought it was cute and wanted to pass it along. Check it out:

3 Things to Do with Carrots3 Things to Do with Carrots

1. CARVE A CRITTER

The humble carrot has never been known for its sparkling personality. Imagine our surprise, then, at these wacky creatures, which morphed in hilarious and fascinating ways as they dried and curled over a couple of days. Our lizard and octopus started as several large peeled carrots. With a sharp knife, we cut the body parts (a parent's job). The lizard's mouth began as a straight slice in one end of a carrot segment; it curled and opened as it dried. Similarly, the octopus legs were carefully sliced from the bottom two-thirds of a carrot's pointed end. We used a lemon zester to make the ridges on the eye and neck slices (a fork works too) and a toothpick to create eye holes and smiles.

After you've carved your critter's parts, attach them with toothpicks (shortened as needed), and add baby-carrot legs as appropriate. Leave the critter in a warm, dry spot. If you've made an octopus, stand it atop its arms after they've softened for a day, then gently shape them into curlicues. Your critter will continue to change over time; discard it when it shrivels, turns brown, or otherwise offends your family's sensibilities.



Mix Up a Salad

2. MIX UP A SALAD

Our favorite orange root teams up with crunchy edamame in this vitamin A-packed, kid-pleasing side dish. To prepare it, boil a pound of frozen shelled edamame as directed on the package, then drain the beans, rinse them in cold water, and blot them dry with a paper towel. Place the edamame in a large bowl and toss them with three grated carrots and a pinch of salt. In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil, and a tablespoon of sugar. Pour this dressing over the vegetables, tossing well. Serve the salad immediately or refrigerate -- it's even better the next day.


Carrot Straw

3. TAKE A SIP

You can lead a bunny to water ... and if you present him with this straw, you can definitely make him drink. To create our edible sipper, start with a section of unpeeled carrot at least 3/4-inch thick. Working from one trimmed end, insert a clean flat-head screwdriver into the carrot's center, then twist the screwdriver through the carrot, occasionally pulling it out and wiping off any shavings. When you're halfway through, begin working from the opposite end. Run water through the straw to clear it, then peel the carrot. We like to sip orange juice or water through the straw; it lends the drinks a mild carroty sweetness.


(Thank you Family Fun Magazine!)

Thursday: Toddler Meal: Bagel Pizza

Have you ever made a bagel pizza? They are so easy. Even moms with very young kids can allow their children to do many of the steps to make this simple meal, and they (not sure who "they" are, but I think "they" are right) say that kids are more likely to try a food they helped create!
I'm actually making these, as well as the ham and pineapple paninis, because our bagels were crazy cheap this week at our grocery store.

Ingredients:
Bagels
Shredded mozzarella, cheddar, and Parmesan cheese (or Italian cheese blend)
Pizza sauce, or spaghetti sauce
Whatever toppings you like on your pizzas.

Directions:
1. Spread sauce on your bagel.
2. Sprinkle on cheese.
3. Put on toppings. Hubster likes pepperoni. My kids and I love pineapple. Use what you have! Check out these adorable little mini pepperonis I found at our store. :)
4. Sprinkle on a little pizza seasoning if you have any. (or Italian seasoning will help spice things up a bit)5. Pop those bad boys into a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is good and melted.
6. Smile and serve.

**Side Note: Other things, besides a bagel, that can substitute the dough on pizza are flour tortillas, French bread, or pitas.
Have any of you ever used anything else as "dough" for a pizza?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Cheap Treat!



Samuel says: Mom let's break out of the box and go get some ice cream!

Head to your local Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop tonight for a special treat. You can get up to three scoops of ice cream for only 0.31 cents a scoop! Yummy!

Baskin-Robbins
is giving ice cream away for this price as a way to honor America's firefighters and fallen heroes.

The deal is available from 5pm-10pm, but you may want to call your store before heading out!

Wednesday: Friendly little cheeseburgers

Little note to the chef: This makes a lot of burger! :) In our family, it actually counts for three meals and I just freeze the burgers we don't use that night and reheat them in the microwave another night. (FREEZER MEAL! WAHOO!) These are delicious. The wheat germ is added to punch in a little extra fiber into each burger. I think you will be very glad you tried this recipe. Enjoy!















Ingredients:
2 pounds lean ground beef
3/4 cup wheat germ
2 eggs
1/2 cup half-and-half (we used milk because it is what we had)
2 Tbs. minced onion
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dried marjoram or oregano
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
8 hamburger buns













In a large bowl, combine ground beef, wheat germ, eggs, half-and-half, onion, Worcestershire sauce, salt, marjoram and thyme. Shape into 8 patties. (I usually make 12)














Grill for 4 to 5 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. Place a slice of cheese on top during the last 2 minutes of cooking, if desired.

I had this groovy idea to cut a smiley face with a toothpick out of the slice of cheese and serve the burger open face so the kids see that the burger is friendly. :0) Seemed like a good idea anyway. I zapped it for a few seconds in the microwave, though, and I think I let the cheese melt a little too much, until it was a scary, droopy face. I made a heart for my darling husband and wrote I love you in ketchup on his.
My new idea is to let the kids (if they are old enough) cut their own faces out and then it doesn't matter if it looks scary or not, because it is their creation. Another idea (again, if your kids are old enough) would be to give each child a toothpick, and ask your kids to make a face out of their cheese that represents how they are feeling that day, opening up the discussion, with the follow up question, "and why did you choose that face today?"

There will be a giveaway coming up shortly that will also open up conversations at you dinner table. Stay tuned for that one.

Side note: I used my leftover cheese on my cheeseburger, since I don't care what mine looks like. (Just an idea to use up that extra cheese)

For a recipe to make your own mini sliders, go here.