Penny Pinching Peach


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Stress Cooking

Stress Cooking

Stress Cooking

Does anyone else stress cook???

Today has been an all out booger of a day.  I spent hours on the phone making frustrating phone calls to fun places like health insurance companies, doctors and human resources hither and yonder while my children ran around the house terrorizing because I couldn’t deal with them properly right then. My outdoor loving children somehow hate going outside once Mommy gets on an important phone call. They’d rather stand at my feet shouting things like “I’m hungry”, “I went potty” and “She took my toy ’cause I hit her with it”. This ended up in my three year old scattering crayons from one end of the living room through the kitchen and den, not to mention his toy trucks and legos. All sorts of other things have been going wrong and bumming me out, plus I am physically something of a wreck, but this is not meant to be a whine fest.

Chopping That Okra Into Submission

Chopping That Okra Into Submission

Any stress eaters out there?

I know we’ve all heard of stress eating. I do that some, too, but sometimes stress just triggers me into a massive cooking frenzy. I can whip my frustration in to batter, chop some veggies into submission, beat the snot out of some eggs, and bake the bad away while filling my home with a deliciousness. It’s something fairly mindless and soothing because I can control the outcome and see almost guaranteed pleasant results from my efforts. It makes also makes my family happy, even whiny little boogers who like to pester the living daylights out of their mommy when she just CAN’T. A great stress reliever for me is the simple act of cooking….ALOT!

If there are, you would love to join me at my house when I’m super duper agitated! You’ll certainly have plenty to chow down on! Today’s stress cooking fest resulted in the goodies in the photos. I threw my baby girl in our trusty Moby wrap and went to sweating out my frustrations over the stove. Dark chocolate coconut brownies to satisfy my stress induced craving for dark chocolate. Oven fried okra because I had a batch left needing cooked from okra our neighbor gave us, and can’t fry for real while the baby is on me. Two casseroles of ground deer, green beans, rice, tomatoes and other goodies- one for tonight and another for the day after tomorrow. Mexican cornbread to go with our crockpot ham and beans tomorrow. Plenty of food, y’all! 🙂

Stress Cook and Eating

Stress Cook and Eating

What do you do when you are stressed?

You know, I think my stress cooking not only is about working those frustrations out in a constructive way, but also ties into wanting comfort food, which for me is usually something homemade. Whatever it may be, my husband and children seem to enjoy this particular way I cope with frustration and aggravation! 🙂

What is comfort food for you?

Want to make one of my family favorite comfort foods, passed on for several generations? Try my recipe for Grandma’s Sunday Special Ritz Cracker Chicken!

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To Cook Or Not To Cook

Sitting Down on the Job

Sitting Down on the Job

This is an older post, but I was thinking about it the other day when I let my children have cake for breakfast. I was tired, the baby was fussy, and it smelled so good just sitting there. Don’t judge me!!! lol For more shameful confessions, keep reading…

Anyone who knows me well (or reads my blog 🙂 ) also knows that I genuinely enjoy cooking. I love baking goodies to share, decorating cupcakes with my daughter, whipping up delectable meals for my family to gobble up, and just all around fixing scrumptious vittles. What many of you don’t know is that there are times I just plain absolutely fall down on the job. I mean, I really go outside the realm of ordinary feeding of family and children. To call what I do during those times cooking would be…well….a disgrace to cooks everywhere.

Take tonight, for instance. The hubby is on duty at the fire station, and I was gone most of the day with the munchkins. To say that I didn’t want to be bothered with cooking tonight is an understatement. I could not, would not, did not even want to think about bothering with it. I wanted to exercise for a few minutes while noone big enough to know how goofy I look bouncing around like a loon was here to watch. (I’m very much sick of the extra pudge in the tummy and thighs that’s still lingering from having my little Pumpkin, after years of being on the active side of life.) Guess what we had? Microwave maruchen noodles with a handful each of shredded baby spinach and pre-julienned carrots thrown in to make me feel like it was still a healthy dinner. While it microwaved and cooled, I did some of my old exercises & stretches with Princess Peach for the 15 minutes I would’ve probably spent throwing a simple dinner together. Winner, winner, what a dinner! 😉

To delve even deeper into the dark secret slip-ups of a mommy who usually loves cooking and feeding her family heartily…brace yourself, people, ’cause this one is an even bigger doozie!

Sometimes- like, say, yesterday- when my daughter asks for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast… *whispering guiltily* I let her. I know! Mom of the year here! Don’t give me that look! I was in a hurry, okay??

As if I haven’t already revealed enough of my lovely days of throwing in the towel of attempting to be something resembling Mrs. Handy Homemaker, there are also times when I throw together a bunch of chopped fruit and yogurt, then act really excited about it, and the kids & I have a fruit salad lunch that my sweet daughter thinks is a fruit party for princesses. Hey, at least this one is a healthy cheat! You’ve gotta give a girl credit for that!

So, now that you know some of my less-than-stellar moments of cookery, what are some of the things you do (or don’t do) on those days you are just too busy, too lazy or just not in the mood to have to fix something for your family? Don’t leave me hanging here! I ‘fessed up. Now it’s your turn! 😉 Oh, and if you want to try the cake I fed my kids for breakfast the other day, here you go… Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Glaze Cake

 


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Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Glaze Cake

Chocolate Banana Cake With Peanut Butter Glaze

Chocolate Banana Cake With Peanut Butter Glaze

I have been trying to cook from ingredients I already have in my cabinets as much as possible. I had a couple of bananas that were overripe, and was out of chocolate chips and raisins for the cookies I’d normally make with them. I also had a cake mix that needed used, and a craving for chocolate and peanut butter. From that jumping point, I brainstormed and cooked up the Chocolate Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Glaze. Wanna try it? Here is what I did…

Chocolate Banana Cake

1 Duncan Hines chocolate cake mix
1 cup water
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
2 mashed overripe bananas
Grease a 13×9 pan. Bake at 350 for 32-34 minutes, or until toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.
Frost it with peanut butter glaze.

Peanut Butter Honey Glaze

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water
Mix well.
This would work great as a simple topping for cake,  muffins,  or brownies. It would also make a healthy sweet fruit dip.
Pretty simple, huh? My family loves this easy peasy cake! It’s moist and sweet without being sickeningly sweet. It’s also very inexpensive, especially if you’re like me and only buy cake mixes with awesome sales and coupons.
If you want another way to use up overripe bananas (or peanut butter, my couponing comrades!), try these recipes below…
Peanut butter chocolate chip close-up

Peanut butter chocolate chip close-up

Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Oatmeal

Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Oatmeal


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After School Snacks

With school just starting, I thought I’d share a few suggestions for a variety of after school snacks. There should be something to make any kiddo happy in this list, from homemade junk food to truly delicious healthy options!

Easy Cake Mix Cookies

This is a super simple and versatile cookie recipe you can whip up in a snap with whatever mix you have on hand. Try it!

Easy Cake Mix Cookies

Easy Cake Mix Cookies

Crafty Snacking

This post has a few creative, cute and quick snack ideas, including the friendly spider below. Anyone can do these, even kids!

Happy Spider

Happy Spider

Penny Pinching Popsicles

Try these refreshing and inexpensive homemade popsicles! You won’t regret it!

Penny Pinching Popsicles

Penny Pinching Popsicles

Super Yummy Don-t-Tell-Them-They’re-Healthy Snacks

Here’s a list of fun, easy and very healthy kid approved snacks! Many of these can also be made by the kiddos themselves.

Veggie Snack

Veggie Snack

Completely Healthy Cookies? Yes, Please!

This recipe for multiple versions of oatmeal cookies are made with only wholesome ingredients- no sugar or flour- and pass the taste test of my children and hubby who all have a sweet tooth. They are quite filling, and healthy enough that you could be the cool mom giving them cookies for breakfast! 😉

Peanut butter chocolate chip close-up

Peanut butter chocolate chip close-up

Home Flavored Yogurt

Do you love yogurt, but not all the sugary content or the high price tag on individual servings? This is the perfect idea for you!

Home Flavored Yogurt

Home Flavored Yogurt

Some More S’mores

Love s’mores, but no time for campfires for awhile? Here’s your solution!

S'mores Cupcakes

S’mores Cupcakes

Which of these do you want to try first? These are all tried and approved by my own munchkins. They don’t pretend to like anything just to spare Mommy’s feelings, so you know they’ve passed at least a couple of kid tests. 😉


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Tomato Cucumber Macaroni Salad

Tomato Cucumber Macaroni Salad

Tomato Cucumber Macaroni Salad

Want a quick & healthy dish for a summer lunch? Try my Tomato Cucumber Macaroni Salad! It’s super simple, and a hit any time I make it. I made it the night before while I was making baked mac and cheese for supper, and let it chill overnight to marry the flavors better. It really did blend the tastes together even more strongly by morning.

Here’s how ya do it:

Boil two cups of macaroni noodles to al dente.

While the noodles are boiling, chop up two medium cucumbers and two medium tomatoes. Toss in a medium sized bowl with a bit of salt and pepper.

When ready, drain the noodles and rinse with cold water until they are cooled off. Dump in the bowl with the chopped veggies.

Pour in ranch dressing to taste and stir well. You can eat it then or chill overnight.

This would be good with sweet onions, shredded carrots, chopped olives, tuna or shredded chicken stirred in, as well. It’s a versatile sort of “dump salad”, and oodles of fun for the palate to play with a variety of ingredients. I love to use fresh veggies from my garden for light and refreshing lunches in the summer time, so it varies what I make according to what produce is on hand.

This would be great for packing in something like these World Kitchen Pyrex 6-Piece Food Plus Storage Set for lunches, if you have a cooler to carry or refrigeration available wherever you’re headed for work, school or play. Just pop one open on your lunch break and dig in! 🙂

What are some of your favorite lunches? What splendid summer veggies do you have an abundance of to gobble up?

Peace, smiles, and good vittles for all! 😉

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My Kids’ Favorite Oatmeal

Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Oatmeal

Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Oatmeal

If you are one of those moms who just wants to quickly throw something together to feed the ravenous hordes in your house, but would prefer that something be healthy as well as faster as a wink and kid approved….this is the post for you!

My five year old long ago declared that she hated oatmeal, it was disgusting and slimy, and she would never, ever like it, no matter what. Challenge me, do ya, kiddo? Alrighty then! Challenge accepted! 😉 Guess what? She likes oatmeal. “But only the good kind you make, Mommy, not that other stuff, so I still hate that!” The following concoctions are the few approved by my resident oatmeal snob and the rest of the family.

This is my kids’ favorite oatmeal- and one of their most requested breakfasts. It’s Mommy and Daddy approved, too! My husband has me pack the ingredients for him at the fire station sometimes, because it sticks with him pretty well.

Take 1-2 packs of plain instant oatmeal and prepare according to package. Chop

Strawberries and Cream

Strawberries and Cream

up 1-2 bananas, according to taste and the number of people eating (2 packs and 1 banana is okay for just me and my two small children). Mash it into the oatmeal, along with a generous dollop of peanut butter and a sprinkling of chocolate chips. Stir and serve. Delicious!! The bowl in the

photo was immediately prepared and dished out for my munchkins and I, who were quite annoyed when I paused to take a photo of their breakfast while I was making it. 🙂

Another winner is one I call strawberries and cream. You can use chopped strawberries with milk and strawberry jam or chopped strawberries with cream and honey or chopped strawberries and strawberry yogurt. All of them give a yummy effect, so use whatever works in that category. Just strawberries and milk wasn’t nearly sweet enough, and the same with the cream, so the jam and honey helped with that. If you can’t tell, I’m the queen of kitchen improvisation.

Lastly, we have another super simple selection that is kiddo approved. Simply mix in a scoop of peanut butter and a dash of cinnamon, with or without honey or a smattering of chocolate chips. Similar, but mentionably different, from the first flavor.

Simply Sweet

Simply Sweet

I love meals that can be made quickly, cheaply and healthily from ingredients I normally have hanging around the house, anyway. These definitely fit that description, so I hope y’all enjoy them, too.

Does your family like oatmeal? What are their favorite flavors? If not, do you think any of these could possibly convert your own personal oatmeal snobs? It’s worth a try! it worked on my little princess picky pants, so it might work on yours, too. 🙂

Want another great recipe using oatmeal? Try my family approved Completely Healthy Cookies for an easy peasy snack that is both healthy and delicious.


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Keep Sliced Apples Fresh

How to keep apple slices fresh longer…

My kids love to snack on apple slices. The problem is, they frequently don’t finish all of the slices at one sitting. I got fed up with feeding the leftovers to the chickens, and remembered that I’d heard lemon juice would keep the slices fresh for longer. I didn’t have lemon juice, but I did have key lime, so I tried it. Here are the results, after 24 hours.

First, I put a slice aside as a control to see how well the key lime juice would actually work. Below is what it looked like after 24 hours, a sort of golden brown. It was also fairly squishy when I’d give it a squeeze between my fingers.

Apple slice without key lime juice

Apple slice without key lime juice

Next, I put a couple of slices of apple in a Ziploc baggie, sprinkled a few drops of key lime juice inside, swished it all around to make sure there was a light coating all over and squeezed the air out of the bag, leaving it on the kitchen counter with the other plain apple baggie. Below is what it looked like after 24 hours, almost as white as when I sliced it. The texture was also pretty much the same, and there was barely a hint of key lime flavor when eating it.

Apple slices with key lime juice

Apple slices with key lime juice

All in all, I’d say this experiment was a definite success. I’ve added a new weapon to my produce saving, grocery stretching repertoire! It’s also a great option for prepping healthy snacks the night before when you know you have a busy day coming up.

For more snack ideas, check out After School Snacks!