Friday, May 21, 2010

Saturday bonus feature: How to make French Toast

This recipe comes from my Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. It's delicious, you probably have all the ingredients on hand already, and it is very easy.

4 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
2 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. orange liqueur (optional...I left it out)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (optional)
8 1/2-inch slices challah bread or brioche or 8 slices dry white bread (we used dry white bread and cinnamon raisin bread, that we let sit out overnight)
2 Tbs. butter
Maple-flavored syrup (optional)

In a shallow bowl beat together eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, and if desired, orange liqueur and/or cinnamon and nutmeg. Dip bread slices into egg mixture, coating both sides (if using challah bread or brioche, let soak in egg mixture about 10 seconds on each side).

In a skillet or on a griddle melt 1 Tbs. of the butter over medium heat; add half of the bread slices (we were able to use 8 slices on our pancake griddle at a time) and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. (I always sprinkle extra ground cinnamon on mine while they are cooking.)Repeat with remaining butter and bread slices. Serve warm. If desired, serve with syrup. OH!!! Almost forgot to mention: This freezes really well, and can just be heated in a microwave later, which is why we make so much at a time.

Okay, so your turn...My family always just uses syrup on our french toast. What does your family like to eat on your french toast, pancakes, and waffles? Do you always use syrup, or do you get creative? Would love to hear your ideas!

Friday: Black bean and mango Tostadas

This recipe comes from my latest All You magazine. (the May issue)

1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 scallions, white and light green parts, finely chopped (didn't add this, although I am sure it would have been great!)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 8-inch flour tortillas
6 ounces grated low-fat Monterey Jack (we used some cheddar and some mozzarella since we already had some on hand)
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and diced
1/4 small red onion, finely chopped (2 Tbsp.) (we used regular onion, since it's what we had)
1 tablespoon lime juice


1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Combine beans, olive oil, scallions, chili powder and 1/2 tsp. salt in a bowl.

2. Mist a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place tortillas on sheet and spoon bean mixture on top (I added some chicken to ours and it was tasty tasty, but not completely necessary). Sprinkle with cheese. Bake until golden and crisp, about 10 minutes.

3. While tostadas are baking, combine mango, onion, lime juice and 1/4 tsp. salt in a bowl. Remove tostadas from oven, spoon mango mixture on top and serve immediately.

I made this when my mom and dad were visiting, and it was sooooo amazingly delicious!

Kitchen Notes (According to "All You" magazine):

Spice it up. If you like more heat, use pepper Jack cheese instead of plain Monterey Jack.
Swap salsas. Don't care for mango or can't find one? Sub in tomato salsa instead.
Go green. To add another layer of flavor, sprinkle on some chopped avocado and fresh cilantro after assembling.
Put in more fruit. Mango gives the dish a touch of sweetness. Substitute or add chopped papaya, pineapple or kiwi for even more of a tropical taste.
Try another base. We used small flour tortillas for these tostadas, but you can use corn tortillas if you prefer.

Dining Out Deals

Play the Hardee’s Instant Win Game through Facebook and you’ll receive something free every time you play. Let us know what you win!

Thanks, Deal Finding Chik!

Stop by any participating Walmart store on Saturday (May 22, 2010) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a free ice cream sundae. Here’s the information Walmart sent to my friend, Crystal, over at

Walmart invites families to come have a free ice cream sundae with Breyers new and exclusive flavors, and Blue Bunny Premium Ice Cream and new All Natural Frozen Yogurt topped with Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup, Reddi-wip, and Fresh Strawberries. The “Free Ice Cream Sundae” event will give moms some sweet inspiration topped with even sweeter savings.

Find a participating store here.

(Thanks moneysavingmom!)

Print a coupon for $10 off any $20 purchase at Smokey Bones. This coupon is only good in Tampa and Pittsburgh and expires May 25, 2010.

Thanks, Free Stuff 4 Free!

Sonic is launching its reformulated soft-serve ice cream with a Buy One, Get One Free Shake promotion. From now through June 27, 2010, when you purchase a shake at Sonic, you’ll get a coupon for a free shake which you can redeem whenever you choose. More details here.

Thanks, Clever Couponing!

Print a coupon for a free Frappuccino at Barnes and Noble when you purchase another one. This coupon expires May 24, 2010.

Thanks, My Frugal Adventures!

Go here to get a coupon for a FREE Limeade Sparkler from Taco Bell for the first 500K people that sign up!

This coupon is valid through July 11th or until 500,000 coupons have been redeemed. There is a limit of one coupon per person.

Thanks Bargain Blessings!

Yummy… a new Einstein Bros Bagels freebie. Just go on over to their Facebook page and “Like” them (if you haven’t already), then click on the “Offers” tab to print a coupon valid for a FREE Turkey-Bacon & Avocado Thin Sandwich with the purchase of one. This coupon is valid thru 5/30.

(Thanks, Smart Couponing!)

Save with this PDF printable coupon, just buy one 20 oz. Orange Julius smoothie and get your second one for only $1.00!
Fine print:*Expires June 30th, 2010.

(Thanks Hot Coupon World!)

Coupon is valid through May 30, 2010.* Printable has redemption information.* Coupon prints within a large ad.

(Thanks Printable Coupon Spot!)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday: Cheese boats and Tomato soup

Another very simple recipe, that will never seem to tire.
Sliced American cheese
Spreadable Butter
Tomato soup

Spread butter on one side of two pieces of bread. Smack some cheese and bacon in between the two pieces, with the buttered side facing out. Cook in a heated pan on the stove. When one side is cooked, flipperdoodle.
Serve with tomato soup. (we used tomato basil soup by Progresso and mixed it with Campbell's regular tomato soup)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

We Were Featured!

Hi Friends,

Meal Planning Mommies was just featured on a great blog, Delicious Ambiguity! It will be well worth your time to read our article and great meal idea for your tots of all ages!

Click here to see the Meal Planning Mommies featured on Delicious Ambiguity.....

A Wonderful Whole Foods Cook Book

I wanted to share with you one of my absolute favorite cooking resources.

Rarely, anymore, do I buy a book.   Most of the time I am content to simply check it out from the library~ sometimes repeatedly.   This book is buy worthy!

Not only are the recipes great, but the author is like the whole-foods guru and gives amazing information on whole-grain cooking.

She has rocked our world much to my imitation cheese loving husbands dismay.

For breakfast this morning I made Millet with Peaches.
I set some of the Millet aside and pureed baby food for Finn.
Then, I took the remaining Millet and used it in making starter dough for some whole-grain bread.

And, all of this because of reading Feeding for the Whole Family. 
Millet is one of the oldest foods known to man-kind. And, it is tremendously good for our bodies. Last month I had never heard of Millet and now it is going to be ingrained (he he, pun!) into the way our family eats!

Wednesday: Salad Bar

This recipe is a combination of a couple of ideas I found in magazines. It's really just a salad, but served differently than usual. In my All You magazine I saw a picture for a Chef's salad and thought, ya know, my kids might actually eat that. Then, a couple of weeks prior, I saw a picture of another salad idea...compartmentalizing the parts of the salad, and letting your kiddos pick what they want for their salad. (GREAT IDEA, I thought) I will share with you the reasons I thought this was a good idea and the reasons, I thought, it was a not-so-good idea.

First, our ingredients, although the possibilities are truly endless:Romaine lettuce
Feta cheese
Cubed cheddar cheese
hard boiled egg
ham cooked and cubed
cherry tomatoes
cooked and shredded chicken
bacon pieces
Salad dressings

1. Wash all produce and chop into pieces your kids would eat. Separate each food into its own compartment in a muffin pan.2. Give each person a bowl with just the romaine lettuce in it and allow them to pick what they want on their salad. What I loved about this idea is that it highlighted all these possible healthy foods and got our kids really excited about eating a salad, which they typically would have frowned on. Both our 4 year old and our 2 year old requested that they have some of EVERY food! :) We were happy to oblige. They were so excited about the whole thing, but then when it came to eating the food...well, let's just say they had a lot left in their bowl, and my bowl looked like this:I still considered it a win, though, because they did try some things that they would not have tried if I had just put them on their plate and set it in front of them. So, the good thing: the kids get excited about healthy foods, and it feels so good to see them squeeling over vegetables. The down side: some food is wasted in the process.

Another thing I loved is that I used 1 piece of leftover bacon from breakfast, and set aside some ham and chicken from another recipe, and avocado from another recipe...and my thinking was that I could pull this idea out when you are trying to use up some leftovers and it would not feel like such a waste if your kids didn't eat everything in their bowl, or when there is just a little salad dressing left in 5 different bottles in your fridge, as was the case with us. :)

One other thought: Theme salads...items for a taco salad one week, and items for a Caesar salad the next, and so on. Might be a new tradition? Maybe Salad Saturday, or Salad Sunday and you could surprise your family with new choices each week? Just a thought.

Okay, so the reason I was not completely wild about this idea: Could potentially be wasteful, considering that you are washing and chopping many things and you may find that your family won't touch, let alone eat any of them. According to nutrition experts, though, you just keep putting the good stuff in front of them even if they don't touch it and eventually they probably will eat it.

My favorite kind of salad is one that includes slivered almonds and dried cranberries with feta cheese and vinaigrette of some kind. We had a little of the romaine lettuce left over, so I made this salad for lunch the next day. Mmmmmmmmmm....this picture is making my mouth water as I type this.

What are your favorite foods in a salad?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tuesday: Pork chops in the crockpot.

This recipe rocked! I got it from my Southern Living SLOW-COOKER cookbook. Please note that I wrote the recipe as it is written in the book, but I have added in my own variations based on what was already in our refrigerator that I wanted to use up. (These things in italisized and in parentheses, as to not create any confusion)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 tsp. pepper, divided
6 (5 ounce) bone-in center but pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick)
2 to 3 Tbs. olive oil, divided
4 large garlic cloves, pressed
3 ears fresh corn, cut in half (we left out the corn on the cob, and ate our pork with green beans)
1 (18-ounce) bottle honey smoke BBQ sauce (recipe suggests KC Masterpiece, but I used Kraft BBQ and Marzetti Teriyaki marinade because I had a little of each leftover in my fridge and wanted to use it up)
1 cup chicken broth

1. Combine flour, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a large zip-top freezer bag; add pork, tossing to coat.
(Keely, my 2 year old, is being my love this part by the way, if you are trying to find the parts of the recipe that they can help out with)
2. Heat 1 Tbs. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook pork, in 2 batches, 2 minutes on each side or until browned, adding additional 1 Tbs. oil if needed. (Keely managed to keep herself busy while I was slaving away over the stove for four minutes.)3. Place in a lightly greased 4-1/2 quart slow cooker. Rub remaining 1 Tbs. oil and garlic evenly over corn. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper; add to slow cooker. (we left that part out)
4. Combine BBQ sauce and broth; add to slow cooker. (I always use bouillion cubes and hot water when a recipe calls for broth, and stir it up with a fork. It's cheaper, takes up less room in the cupboards, and is environmentally efficient.)5. Cover and cook on LOW 4 hours or until meat is tender. Makes 6 servings. CHECK OUT THIS DELICIOUSNESS!!!!!!!!!!!
It smells fabulous too! You're going to love this one!

Monday, May 17, 2010

I scream, You scream...

All mommas scream when there's free ice cream!!!

Just a head's up...tomorrow only...Haagen-Dazs locations around the country are celebrating their 50th birthday by offering a free scoop of ice cream on Tuesday (May 18, 2010) from 4-8 p.m. You can choose from three different flavors: chocolate, coffee or vanilla.

Thanks, The Thrifty Couple!

And the Winner is.....

The winner of the Whoops Bunny Meal Planner and Grocery List Giveaway is:

Rachael Boer

I visited Rachael's blog and she is a phenomenal photographer! You should check out her amazing pictures here. Any tips of food pics Rachael?!?

Thanks to all who entered!

Monday: Club Sandwich and Sweet Potato Fries

So simple.
Bread (not shown)
Turkey lunch meat
Iceberg lettuce (not shown)

1. On one piece of bread, spread on mayo, heap on turkey, add a little bacon, and cover with tomato.
2. Put on other piece of bread. Grill.
3. Smile and serve with fruit and sweet potato fries. If you are new to our site, you might not know that Katie shared an awesome sweet potato fries recipe a long while back that I will never forget. Click here to get that recipe. It's soooooooooooooooooooo good!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Out of the Box Meal Plan: May 16-22

Monday: Club Sandwich and Sweet Potato fries
Tuesday: Country Pork and (Corn on the Cob?)
Wednesday: Salad Bar, family dinner style (You won't want to miss this one)
Thursday: Cheese boats and Tomato soup
Friday: Black bean and mango Tostadas (these are way more amazing than I ever could have imagined)
Saturday: Cinnamon Raisin French Toast and a couple of easy snacks