Recipes

Make Your Own Easy Homemade Pretzels

January 8, 2017

homemade pretzels

It's almost as fun for kids to make their own snacks as it is for them to eat them! This pretzel recipe is easy, fast, and perfect for children to help with, and the results are delicious, too. My kids love to make these tasty pretzels when friends come over. It's a great activity for rainy days and playgroups, too. Why not bake up a batch this weekend?

The only part of this recipe that's not kid-friendly is boiling the pretzels briefly in a baking soda and water solution—have a grown-up handle this part. This step gives the pretzels their characteristic crunch, brown color, and flavor. You can omit it if you like; the pretzels will still be good, but won't be quite the same.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

January 8, 2017

Slow cooker chicken tortilla soup

Winter  to use your slow cooker, since it's perfect for making long-simmered comfort food favorites that hit the spot on a cool evening. Try out this recipe for a Mexican-style tortilla soup. The technique couldn't be easier: you just throw almost everything in the cooker and let it go all day, adding beans and corn at the end.

Everyone likes this because you can personalize your bowl with various garnishes, like avocado, cheese, sour cream, and more. Fire-roasted tomatoes and smoked paprika give this soup a delicious smoky flavor, but of course you can use the normal varieties of these ingredients, too.

The Best Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

January 7, 2017

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookiesFor many years, I've been on a search for the best-ever chocolate chip cookie recipe, and I think I've found it! These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies have crisp edges and chewy centers and taste and look fantastic. The addition of oatmeal gives these cookies a nutty taste, too.

They're based on the recipe published by King Arthur Flour, who in turn got it from the Cookies for Kids' Cancer non-profit. It's King Arthur's 2015 recipe of the year—make a batch and you'll see why.

This recipes makes approximately 20 large cookies if using a 1/4 cup scoop to measure out the dough. You can use a smaller size to get more cookies, but keep in mind that baking times may vary.

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed

Halloween Candy Corn Fruit Parfaits

October 28, 2016

candy corn fruit parfaits I love candy corn, that quintessential fall candy. Wouldn't it be great if it was actually good for you? My kids and I made these cute "candy-corn" style fruit parfaits, with layers of yellow pineapple, orange mandarin slices, and white whipped cream. They're perfect as a sweet but healthy treat for a Halloween party or autumn snack.

You can use either fresh or canned fruit. We tried making these with both fresh mandarins and canned mandarin oranges, and the kids like the sweeter and more tender canned version better. You can also substitute thick vanilla Greek yogurt for the whipped cream.

If you're making them for a Halloween party, assemble the fruit in advance in containers (we used 8-ounce mason jars) and refrigerate, then add the whipped cream or yogurt just before serving.

Ingredients

Makes one parfait

Healthy Slow-Cooker White Bean Soup with Ham

October 17, 2016

Slow cooker ham and bean soup

This healthy and tasty white bean soup with ham is a hit with everyone in our family. It's also a breeze to make; one of those slow-cooker recipes that's truly easy.

Put everything in the slow cooker in the morning, set it on "low" and walk away. Then come back later to dish up a delicious hearty soup at dinnertime, one that's perfect for these chilly winter evenings. It freezes well, too.

This version includes smoked ham, which you could easily leave out for a vegeterian or vegan version.

Easy Asian Dumpling Soup

October 9, 2016

Easy Asian Dumpling SoupThis hearty soup hits the spot on a fall night and couldn't be easier to make. The kids love dumplings in all their forms, too, so this soup is a hit in our house.

Use quality frozen potstickers or wontons; the vegetables you use can vary depending on what you have on hand and what you and your family like. We used chicken gyoza from Trader Joe's, but you can use vegetable ones and veggie broth for a vegetarian/vegan version of this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 16-ounce bag frozen potstickers or wontons
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 3 cups chopped bok choy, napa cabbage, or spinach
  • 1 cup shredded carrots

Pumpkin Muffins: A Tasty Fall Treat

October 2, 2016

Pumpkin Muffins Having a mini muffin pan has changed my life. No really, it has—not in a big way, but it's inspired us to experiment with different muffin recipes. A healthy muffin makes a great breakfast treat, lunch box snack, playgroup munchie, or Halloween party goodie. One of our favorite muffins to make in the fall (and year-round, even), are pumpkin muffins. They're delicious, healthy (pumpkins have lots of fiber, beta carotene, and protein), and easy to make. Sometimes we just grab a box of Trader Joe's pumpkin bread mix, but more often than not, we make them from scratch. They make the house smell great when they're baking, too.

Homemade Hummus is Easy to Make, Delicious, and Healthy

September 18, 2016

hummus and pita wedgesOnce something found mainly in health food stores and Middle Eastern restaurants, hummus is now a mainstream snacktime staple available in every local supermarket. I've found most of the grocery store versions of this garlicky, lemony garbanzo bean purée to be uninspired and not all that authentic, but fortunately it's really easy to make your own hummus at home, and we make sure to have the ingredients on hand for whenever a hummus craving hits!

My kids love hummus (my daughter's been a certified hummus fanatic since she was a toddler), which is fantastic, since it's both tasty and healthy. I like to serve it with homemade whole wheat pita chips, but it's also great with carrot sticks and other dippable veggies. I even pack it into my kids' school lunches. This recipe involves no cooking, and the kids can help out with it, too.

Easy Lasagna Roll Ups

September 12, 2016

lasagna roll upsI don't know anybody who doesn't like lasagna, and this rolled version is simple to make and delicious. With all the same ingredients as traditional Italian-American lasagna, I find it easier to assemble and serve. The kids like to help assemble the rolls, too.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe or 24–26-ounce jar of your favorite pasta sauce
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
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