Grab & Go Breakfast Pocket Recipe

If you follow me on Instagram, then you’re going to already know last Sunday afternoon was a baking marathon around these parts.  We were out of bread and I hate buying things I can bake, so I headed into the kitchen to start a batch.

As the dough began to rise I realized we were out of more than just bread, we needed breakfast choices for Corey, lunch snack options for the girls and the cookie jar was looking a little naked.

Now, baking is something I love – seeing my family & friends enjoy something I’ve made warms my heart.  It’s great knowing I could actually have some (if I wanted to) without the fear of getting sick from a sneaky ingredient.  It’s also incredibly cathartic, when I’m stressed I bake.

The thing is I’m a messy baker.  Usually I’m baking at least 2 things at one time and often there are ingredients, bowls and things everywhere.  To the onlooker I’m sure it looks horrific, but I know where everything is, I get it done well and my family knows if they value their fingers not to move anything.

Grab & Go Breakfast Pockets Title

The fact that we were out of so many things, we were facing another trip to Children’s hospital the next day, I work all week and I like to be efficient – once you’re making a mess you might as well do it all at once.  One mess, one clean up.  It would be silly to stretch all the clean up work over multiple days.

By day’s end, I’d made Whole Wheat Bread, Early Morning Breakfast Pockets, Graham Crackers, English Muffins, Vegan Banana Muffins, Brownie Bites & mini lunch pizzas.

You could scarcely see my kitchen counters & my feet hurt, but boy did it smell good.

As the pictures hit social media, I started getting requests for recipes.  Which warms my heart!  I spend hours taking recipes that are ok and playing with them to make them how I want them.  Lower in calories, healthier, easier, better (to me) you name it and getting the chance to either link to or share them is awesome!

Grab & Go Breakfast Pockets whole wheat
(A yummy whole wheat version – sub 1/2 the flour with whole wheat flour. Just work the dough slightly less to avoid it being tough)

I will share ALL of those recipes over time but today I’m just going to pick one – Grab & Go Breakfast Pockets.

Corey leaves for work earlier than the Butt Crack of Dawn, so a long leasurely breakfast isn’t really an option for him.  Actually he’s up so early it’s not an option at all, since to make it happen would almost make it a really late dinner.

Muffins are good grab and go, as are scones and breads but they’re mostly carb loaded.  They don’t bring a lot of protein to the table and they won’t stick with him for the whole morning.
Grab & Go Breakfast Pockets cheesy
(Sometimes the cheese just needs out!)

Realizing this a few years ago I began playing around with a Breakfast pocket, something of a married combination of a Calzone and a pizza pocket.  There have been many versions, some that work, some that flopped (literally) but finally I’ve got one that he loves.

The basic recipe is fairly simple, I use two filling options – Spinach, Egg White & mozza as well as a Breakfast Sausage skillet one.  Both are yummy and both are simple, and neither are set in stone.  Play around with the foods you’re family enjoys and let me know what filling combinations you come up with!

Grab & Go Breakfast Pockets
Serves 12
A healthy, easy grab & go breakfast pocket. These taste delicious warm right from the oven, or cold. They freeze & microwave well and make breakfast a breeze.
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Prep Time
1 hr 30 min
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
1 hr 30 min
Total Time
2 hr
For the pocket dough
  1. 1 Cup of warm water (temperature should resemble very hot bath water)
  2. 2 1/4 tsp of Fast Rising or Pizza Yeast (1 package)
  3. 1 Tbsp of Honey*
  4. 2 tsp Salt
  5. 2 Tbsp of Olive Oil
  6. 2 3/4 - 3 cups of All Purpose Flour (depending on humidity)
For the Spinach, Egg White & Mozza Filling
  1. 5 Egg Whites (can use whole eggs if preferred)
  2. 1/2 cup of Skim milk
  3. 1 Cup of fresh washed spinach leaves shredded (cut with kitchen sheers for ease)
  4. 1/2 - 3/4 shredded mozzarella
  5. 1/4 of a yellow pepper finely diced
  6. Salt & pepper to taste
  7. 1/8 tsp of red pepper flakes crushed (optional)
For the Sausage Breakfast Skillet Filling
  1. 1lb of Pork Breakfast sausage (ground out of the casing)
  2. 1 tsp of butter
  3. 1 tsp of olive oil
  4. 1/2 cup of white Vidalia onion diced
  5. 1/2 each of a yellow, red & orange pepper diced
  6. 1 cup of sliced button mushrooms
  7. 1/4 cup of finely diced zucchini (optional)
  8. 1/2 cup of fresh washed spinach leaves shredded
  9. 3/4 cup of shredded marble cheese
  10. 1/4 tsp of garlic powder
  11. 1/4 tsp of oregano
  12. salt & pepper to taste
For the dough & pocket completion
  1. Pre-Heat Oven to 425 degrees F
  2. Combine water, honey & yeast in the bowl of your mixer. Let sit for 5 minutes or until foamy & activated
  3. Add salt, oil & 1 cup of flour. Mix with your paddle attachment until combined
  4. Change to the dough hook and gradually add an additional 1.5 cups of flour
  5. Allow the mixer to beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, then check the dough. It should be tacky but not sticky. If it's still sticky work in the remaining 1/2 cup of flour in small amounts.
  6. Let your mixer go on medium-high speed for an additional 5 minutes. It will rock & be noisy, but the dough needs to be worked! After 5 minutes you should have a single ball of dough & the bowl should be clean.
  7. Remove dough from bowl, knead 3 times and place in a well greased large bowl.
  8. Cover, place in a warm spot & let rise for 1 - 2 hours, or until doubled in size
  9. Punch down the dough, remove from bowl and knead five times
  10. Divide into 12 equal balls & roll each one out into thin circle (approx 6" in diameter) on a lightly floured surface - FILLING EACH ONE AS YOU GO, if you roll them all out at once they will stick to your counter....trust me.
  11. To fill, place desired mixture on one half the circle leaving a small edge clear to close pocket (mounding fairly high as dough will stretch over), top with cheese and close by pulling empty half over filling and pressing onto the clear edge with a fork or pinch.
  12. Poke the top of each pocket with a knife a few times to allow for steam to release
  13. Place on baking sheet and bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until tops are golden brown.
  14. Let cool for 5 minutes on a baking sheet then remove to plate or cooling rack
For Spinach, Egg White & Mozza Filling
  1. Place Egg Whites & skim milk into a blender and pulse for 15 seconds
  2. Pour into a lightly greased, pre-heated frying pan on medium heat and cook as for scrambled eggs, adding spinach, salt & pepper as you go.
  3. Place a strainer over a bowl & pour in egg mixture, allowing moisture to drain out. This is key in preventing a soggy pocket
  4. LET COOL COMPLETELY or your dough will end up with holes and not baking right.
  5. See dough recipe step 11 to continue
For Breakfast Sausage Skillet Filling
  1. Heat olive oil & butter together over medium/high heat in a large skillet
  2. Add onions and saute until translucent
  3. Add breakfast sausage and cook, breaking up as it cooks making sure to breakup large chunks
  4. Season with salt, pepper, oregano & garlic powder
  5. Add remaining vegetables & cook until sausage is well done (we like it a little crispy)
  6. Place a strainer over a bowl & pour in sausage mixture, allowing moisture & extra fat to drain out. This is key in preventing a soggy pocket
  7. LET COOL COMPLETELY or your dough will end up with holes and not baking right.
  8. See dough recipe step 11 to continue
Notes
  1. *Honey is key in making this dough. You can sub in sugar but I find it doesn't work out as well.
  2. NOTE: I make a batch of each filling when I do these, getting 6 of each kind as I go.
  3. Both mixtures freeze well, so if you end up with extra put them into a marked freezer bag or container and pop in the freezer for next time
Our Family Stone http://www.ourfamilystone.org/

Which Recipe Should I post next?!

Light & Fluffy 100% Whole Wheat Buns/Rolls Recipe

Let’s be honest, if I could survive healthfully on carbs I would.  Warm toasted bread, slathered with butter & natural smooth peanut butter for breakfast, fresh out of the oven dinner rolls with butter for lunch, brown rice with a little seasoning salt & butter with a side of pasta & butter for dinner – it would be heaven.

I love me some produce too.  I’d be extrememly content to have salads, veggies and fruit with each of those meals but the Star of the show would be my carbs (and butter.  Carbs & butter are besties, can’t break up that love!)

In reality surviving on carbs isn’t the best choice for my health, for anyone’s health.  My insides need more than just those things to function properly, especially with as hard as I push my body.  My outsides also don’t need any help from a carb heavy meal plan either – I can only handle so much junk in this ol’ trunk.  Ya know?

Anyways, I love carbs and in loving carbs I also know my carbs.  I am picky at the best of times, and pairing that with my food allergies & restrictions finding the right carbs to keep me happy can be hard.  If I’m going to limit how many I eat, the ones I do eat had better be fantastic!

Over the years I’ve learned I love brown rice more than white (strange but true!), I have the perfect whole wheat sandwich bread recipe and buckwheat noodles are delish!  The one thing I’ve been missing though was a whole wheat bun recipe.

I have this amazing white air buns recipe from my Mom that is a favourite around here.  They are perfection and absolutely heaven hot out of the oven.  Everyone loves them and they never last very long in this house.  I love to make them, and will always make them as a treat for my family but on a regular basis I’d much rather we ate whole wheat or whole grain.

I have tried SO many whole wheat bun/roll recipes and have been disappointed time and again.  Many of them came out dense, or dry not at all what I envisioned.  Then there was the batch a few weeks ago when I began experimenting with creating my own recipe that refused to rise.  I don’t know what I did wrong but those suckers didn’t want to give me much of a rise and when all was said and done, they could have been used as “all natural” golf balls.

WW buns 2

Then it happened,  all the recipe trying and reading, experimenting and combine came together to create these yummy, light, fluffy 100% whole wheat rolls.  I am IN LOVE, as are my girls.  Bethany devoured 2 before they even had a chance to cool.  (She too is a a carb-a-vor making her approval fundamental!).

Of course I Instagramed the photos and in minutes was being asked for the recipe.  It’s taken a few days but finally here it is!

Don’t be afraid of the butter & eggs in these buns, they are the key to keeping them light.  These aren’t necessarily low calorie but they are a far cry from the chemical laden buns you’ll find in the grocery store.  I also get 36 dinner roll size buns per batch which stretches out the calories etc in those ingredients.

If you like the rich taste of molassas you could absolutely add a little more and reduce your honey content.  I like the even mix of the two, the honey brings such a nice finish to all baked bread items.  (note: I switch out ALL sugar in any bread/yeast recipe for honey.  I find that makes them lighter)

Once you’ve tried them please let me know what you think!  Did you make changes?  Were they what you expected?

Then Pin them so you’ll never lose the recipe, I promise once you’ve made them once you’ll never need another 100% whole wheat recipe again!

If you make any of our recipes we’d LOVE to see them! Send us a photo of your creation on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #ofsbakes.

Light & Fluffy 100% Whole Wheat Buns/Rolls Recipe

Prep Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes

Cook Time: PT20-25M

Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes

Yield: 24 large or 36 medium/small Whole Wheat buns/rolls

Serving Size: 1

Light & Fluffy 100% Whole Wheat Buns/Rolls Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp Fast Acticing/Quick Rise Yeast
  • 1/2 Cup Very Warm (like a very hot bath) Water
  • 1/2 Cup Butter softened
  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • 2 Tbsp Fancy Molassas
  • 3 Eggs MUST BE Room Temperature (or they'll hurt your yeast)
  • 1/4 Cup Skim Milk
  • 3/4 Cup Coconut Milk (we use Vanilla So Delicious from the refrigerator section)*
  • 1 Tbsp White Vinegar
  • 3/4 Tsp Salt
  • 5- 5.5 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • Notes: The coconut milk really helps get a light, fluffy rise out of yeast products. However, if you don't have any you could substitute whatever other kind of milk you have

Instructions

  1. Dissolve Yeast, honey & water in a small bowl and let sit approx 5 minutes or until foaming (proofing) occurs.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment cream together butter & molassas
  3. Add eggs one at a time & mix until combined
  4. Warm milk slightly (similar to room temp) and add along with vinegar & yeast mixture. Stir to combine
  5. Add in 3 cups of whole wheat flour and mix until combined. Switch to dough hook
  6. Add another 1.5 cups of flour and let mixer knead until well combined.
  7. Gradually add .5 cup of flour and let knead for 2 to 3 minutes. At this point the dough should be in a nice ball, slightly tacky but when you touch it your finger should come away clean. If this isn't the case add another 1/4 cup of flour and let knead again 2 or 3 minutes.
  8. Once you've achieved the desired dough consistency, remove from mixer bowl and place in a lightly greased bowl, turn dough to coat with oil.
  9. Cover & let rise for 1 hour in a warm place or until doubled in size
  10. Remove dough from bowl to a lightly floured surface, knead 5 times and let rest 3 minutes covered
  11. Cut into 24 (for larger buns) or 36 pieces.
  12. Shape into buns by tucking ends of the dough under on themselves leaving the top smooth
  13. Place 1/4" apart on a greased cookie sheet, jelly roll pan or 9X13" pan (size will depend on bun size)
  14. You want to keep them relatively close together so as they rise the begin to touch, this will make for softer rolls
  15. Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled again.
  16. Pre-Heat oven to 350 degrees
  17. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops are golden brown and when you tap the top they sound hollow
  18. If you like a softer top you can brush them with a teeny bit of butter
  19. Store well in an air tight container for 5 days on the counter or freeze, and warm up for that "fresh from the oven" taste!
http://www.ourfamilystone.org/2014/02/17/light-fluffy-100-whole-wheat-bunsrolls-recipe/

French Toast in a Cup Recipe – 3 minutes to delicious!

French Toast

So forever and a day ago I shared a food photo on Instagram (ok, who are we kidding, I share far more than 1 food photo!) for a French Toast in a cup I’d made Corey & the girls for breakfast.

It was a surprisingly easy recipe (adapted from a few I’ve seen around), it took 3 minutes and EVERYONE enjoyed it.  The fact that kids 1 & 2 both consumed it without freaking out, sobbing, complaining, or gagging says something….also Corey did good too.

Anyways, within minutes there were requests for me to share the recipe.  I said I would in a day or two, then in typical Ashley Stone fashion I promptly forgot.  Then I remembered, but I was driving down the road, so I forgot again.  Repeat that 2 times more.

Then I remembered again.  And I was home.  In front of my lap top – so I’m doing it!

Give it a try, play around with ingredients.  It really falls under the “whatever floats your boat” category but it really is yummy.  As I find with any kind of French Toast, the dryer the bread the yummier the results.  They soak up the liquid better.

Corey liked his served with half a bottle of syrup pooling around it a light syrup drizzle, while both girls preferred theirs with a teeny bit of butter on top.

Give it a try and then let me know what you think!  Did you make changes?  What’s your favourite breakfast recipe?

French Toast in a Cup – 3 minutes to delicious!

French Toast in a Cup – 3 minutes to delicious!

Ingredients

  • 3 Slices - Whole Wheat Bread (we also used some Rye bread that was yummy!)
  • 1 Large Egg (if you're watching cholesterol you could use 2 egg whites)
  • 3 tbsp - Coconut Milk* (unsweetened almond milk, or regular milk would work too)
  • 1/2 tsp - Vanilla (use less if your milk is vanilla flavor)
  • 1 to 2 tsp - Light Brown Sugar or Honey, agave
  • 2 tsp - Raisins
  • 1/2 tsp - Cinnamon
  • *Keep in mind this is coconut milk from the refrigerated section NOT canned coconut milk)

Instructions

  1. Cut bread into cubes & place in a microwave safe mug
  2. Add raisins (these are optional feel free to omit or sub in another fruit or chopped nut)
  3. In a small bowl whisk together milk, egg, vanilla, brown sugar & cinnamon
  4. Pour wet ingredients over bread and stir until all the bread is coated
  5. Put into microwave and cook for 90 seconds
  6. Stir making sure to reach the bottom and cook another 45 seconds
  7. From this point keep microwaving in 20 second intervals until done to satisfaction
  8. If you over microwave your french toast will be dry
  9. Turn out onto a plate, drizzle with syrup if desired and enjoy!
http://www.ourfamilystone.org/2013/12/01/french-toast-in-a-cup-recipe-3-minutes-to-delicious/

OFS Triple Chocolate Zucchini Bread/Muffins/Mini Bites Recipe

The stress of the past few days, along with the fact that we’re pretty much housebound has meant that I’ve spent a lot of time in my kitchen.  Baking, creating, trying, changing and exploring recipes is my happy place and I’ve loved every second of it.

If you follow me on Twitter, Instagram or are a “friend” on Facebook then you’ve seen photo proof the baking tangent I’ve been on.

Many of you have asked for the recipes and I thought over the next little while I’d share them.

Some are my own, some I’ve adapted from other baker’s recipes and some I’ve used completely as written.   For the recipes that are my own or the ones that I’ve made major adaptations to I will share the complete recipe here on our blog (linking back to any originals), if it’s one I’ve only made a slight change I’ll note the change and then let you get the recipe from it’s original source,  and if it’s one that I used as written I’ll share the picture, our feed back and the link.  That way credit is given where credit is due.

Triple Chocolate Zucchini mini (3)

Today I want to share with you my Triple Chocolate Zucchini bread/muffins/mini bites.   I’m a big zucchini fan, steamed is my favourite but I’ll eat it just about any way (except in lasagne, for some reason in lasagne it makes me gag).  It’s a dinner staple to for me and I love that we’re finally in the season for it.  The thing is I’d never baked with it, some how the idea of adding one of my favourite savory items to something sweet seemed wrong.

Triple Chocolate Zucchini mini (2)

When I finally decided to take the leap from cooking zucchini to baking with it I decided I’d be best to start off with chocolate.  Of course, everything is better with chocolate.  I searched and search but none of the recipes I found were ones I likes.  So, I took a whole bunch of recipes I’ve read, threw them all together and came up with a version that I liked.

They turned out so yummy!  I grated the zucchini with a larger grater but I think next time I’d grate it smaller, that way it wouldn’t be quite so noticeable.

Triple Chocolate Zucchini Bread/Muffins/mini bites

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 2 9X5 loaves, 24 Large Muffins (see instructions for more details)

Triple Chocolate Zucchini Bread/Muffins/mini bites

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Cup Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Dutch Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/4 Cups Sugar, granulated
  • 3 Eggs, medium
  • 1/4 Cup Greek Yogurt (we use low fat, vanilla)
  • 3/4 cup Applesauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 cups Zucchini, grated/packed/drained
  • 1/3 cup White Chocolate Chips
  • 1/3 cup Milk Chocolate Chips
  • 1/3 cup Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1/8 tsp Cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Pre-Heat your oven to 350°
  2. In a large bowl combine flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl cream together sugar and eggs until light. Slowly add the yogurt, then the applesauce, vanilla and finally the zucchini.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir ONLY until combined (over mixing will make a tough end product)
  6. Gently fold in chocolate chips
  7. Choose your pans (see note below), grease, and fill 3/4 full. If making muffins I recommend using muffin cup liners.
  8. NOTE: This recipe makes 2 9X5 loaves, 1 loaf, 6 large muffins, and 12 mini muffins, or 24 large muffins.
  9. Loaves - Bake for 50 minutes, Large Muffins 30 minutes, Mini Muffins 15-18 minutes. You'll know when they are done, when the tops of the loaves/large muffins have cracked and when all products spring up when you touch them. If a gentle press of your finger leaves a dent they're not done.
  10. Remove from oven, let cool in the pan 5 minutes. Then remove and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
http://www.ourfamilystone.org/2013/10/03/ofs-triple-chocolate-zucchini-breadmuffinsmini-bites-recipe/

What’s your favourite way to eat your zucchini?

 

OFS Gluten free Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe!

Food allergies are something I understand, if you’ve ever sat across a table with me at meal time you probably already know that.  I’m severely allergic to corn, and due to it’s excessive over use in almost ALL process/packaged products it makes my eating life challenging – to say the least.

It’s difficult, often times it’s frustrating, but it’s my life and I’m ok with that.  My family is healthier for all the things I’ve learned about nutrition and food processing along the way.

This weekend was the annual Father/Kids camp out with Corey’s company and like I do each year I was busy in the kitchen Friday baking treats to take.  As I sat contemplating what to send with our girls to share, I remembered that one of  our friends was planning to be there with his son (and daughter) who is allergic to gluten & soy.

He’s such a little trooper about not being able to have what other kids have, he too at such a young age has learned the life of a food allergy sufferer and thanks to some great parents handles those situations well.

Trooper or not though, the idea of him not having a treat this weekend too made me sad.  So I did what any kitchen loving, allergy suffering Mama would – I tried out a new cookie recipe for him.

I initially started with a gluten- free chocolate chip cookie recipe I found online but quickly decided I didn’t like how it was written.  No biggie, I just made a change here, tweaked an ingredient (or 5) there and voila, it was ready to head for the heat.

As it baked I nervously watched the oven.  What if they didn’t turn out?  What if they caught fire, or didn’t bake or worse yet – the kids didn’t like them.

GF choc chip cookies

I was pleasantly surprised, not only did they look like a chocolate chip cookie, they tasted like one too and they received the Corey & Bethany stamp of approval!  (Audrey doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies)

The weekend turned out to be a success and while the cookies all came home (because my fantastic 3 forgot to share!  Something about being too busy playing) I’m still really pleased with the recipe.

A few of you asked for it on Facebook and without any further adieu here it is!  My first, and only Gluten-Free chocolate chip cookie recipe!

OFS Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: PT12-15M

Yield: 30 Cookies

OFS Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie

Ingredients

  • 1/4 C Butter, softened**
  • 1/2 C Brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 C Cane or granulated sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4 C Vanilla coconut milk (in the carton, NOT the can)**
  • 1/2 tsp Pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 C Rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 - 3/4 C Gluten free chocolate chips
  • Dash Cinnamon, ground

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375°
  2. Cream together butter and both sugars until creamed
  3. Add in egg & vanilla, beat until light & fluffy
  4. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon & salt
  5. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until almost combine
  6. Drizzle in coconut milk. Depending on how your dough looks you can add more or less milk. It should look be a firm, not sticky dough.
  7. Add chocolate chips. Begin with 1/2 c and decide if the remaining 1/4 C is desired
  8. Roll dough by spoonfuls (I used heaping teaspoons) into balls and place on either stoneware or parchment lines baking sheets.
  9. Bake for 12-14 minutes until tops are golden brown.
  10. Remove from oven, cool on pan 5 minutes then transfer to cooling rack
  11. **Butter is necessary to maintain the flavor and quality of the cookies**
  12. **We use So Delicious Vanilla coconut milk, which is found in the refrigerated section at the grocery store. Do NOT use sweetened, canned coconut milk. It's not at all the same**
http://www.ourfamilystone.org/2013/07/07/ofs-gluten-free-chocolate-chip-cookie-recipe/

Tell me – do you or anyone in your household have food allergies?  How do you handle them?

 

 

Movies & Munchies & Pita Chips. OH MY! (2 RECIPES!)

Meal times aren’t exactly the easiest part of my day.  Ok, let’s face it some days if I didn’t haveto feed them I probably wouldn’t.  They are food moody kids and it can drive this Momma batty.  What they loved one meal might be scorned the next and vice versa.

Most nights I sit down to the table not quite sure of how things are going to go, and most nights I kind of dread it.  There is one night a week however that we ALL look forward to, one that’s met with cheers and giggles and full tummies (without the kitchen timer)!  Once a week is Picking Platter Night, and it’s the best!

I pull out our big serving platters and begin to fill them while the girls have a bath and lay out the “picnic” blankets on the floor.   We set up our picnic, pop in a movie and spend the evening eating, giggling and being.  It’s pretty darn near perfect (except when the movie is dumb, then it’s not).  The highlight for the girls is that we let them serve themselves.  Nobody makes them eat anything new that they don’t want to, nobody tells them what to choose and short of having to finish what they take there are no rules.  It’s what makes them happy.

There’s a platter of veggies, cheese & meats.  Then there’s another filled with crackers, chips & bread/buns, a bowl of fruit, a bottle of Ranch (it’s the universal dip), a jar of my Mom & my homemade salsa and when it’s made, a bowl of our hummus – find the recipe HERE.

Due to the nature of my allergies, so many times I’m not able to eat things, but this night I can and it’s awesome!  My favourite?  The Pita Chips on the platter.  They’re ALL from scratch, all made in my kitchen and absolutely fantastic with salsa, hummus or on their own.

Whether it’s movie night, the BIG game or you just have a serious case of the munchies you NEED to make these pita chips!

Pita Chips Recipe:

Whole Wheat Pitas
Olive Oil Cooking Spray (you can get kitchen pumps for your oil to make your spray healthier)
Seasoning – We mix between regular salt, seasoning salt and a mix of garlic powder & oregano

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees
2. Using a pizza cutter (it works the best!) cut pitas into wedges.  Depending on the size of your pita will depend on how many wedges.  I find for my homemade pita recipe I get 6 wedges per pita.
3. Take each triangle, open it up as though you were opening a pita and make it into two chips.
4. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
5. Lay chips out without touching on the sheet and mist with olive oil.
6. Sprinkle with Seasoning and put into oven.
7. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown.  I do flip mine at the 8 minute mark just to make sure they’re super crispy.
8. Remove from pan, let cool slightly (if you can) and either serve or store in an airtight container.
9. ALTERNATIVE – Cinnamon & Sugar for seasoning makes a heavenly dessert chip!

These are very easy to make and a wonderful addition to any snack fest!  Don’t forget if you’re looking for great dips to have with your fresh and yummy pita chips, check out the ones over at Life Made Delicious, they’ve got it covered!

Whole Wheat Pita Recipe

1.5 Cup       Unbleached All Purpose Flour
2.0 Cup      Whole Wheat Flour (plus some for dusting)
1 tsp             Salt
1 pkg            Quick Rise Yeast
1 tsp             Sugar
1 tsp             Olive Oil
1.3 Cups      Water

Method:

1.  Sift together flours & salt in a large bowl
2. Take 1/3 cup of the water and make sure it’s very warm.  I generally boil it and then let it cool until I can just stick  my finger in it.
3. Add yeast & sugar to the warm water and leave sit for 5 minutes
4. Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture, add remaining water amount (make sure it’s warm NOT COLD) and olive oil.  Stir to combine.
5. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead until dough is soft and slightly sticky, adding more flour as needed.  This usually takes about 10 minutes.
6. Place dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise somewhere warm for 2 hours
7.  Punch down the dough, don’t be afraid you won’t hurt it!  Divide into 12 pieces.
8. Roll each piece into a ball and then using a rolling pin roll out until 1/4″ thin
9. Let rounds rise on a floured surface for another 45 minutes
10. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  5 minutes before the rising is finished place a pizza stone or cast iron frying pan into the oven to get hot.
11. Place 2 to 3 pitas on the hot stone and bake for approximately 3 minutes, they will puff up that’s good!
12. Remove from stone, wrap in a damp towel and let rest for 5 minutes.  Allow stone to get hot again and then repeat the process

WARNING: DO NOT press down on the puffed up pita.  The air inside the pita is extremely hot and can burn your hands.  I know because I burnt myself badly.

Disclosure: I am part of the Life Made Delicious Blogger program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.”

 

Slow Cookin’ Switch it Up Spaghetti Sauce – Recipe

Maybe it’s just me, but September is kind of kicking my butt.  Not just the whole sick kid in the hospital thing, but the rest of what’s happening in life seems to be leaving me  exhausted by day’s end.

Apparently while you can prepare for the routine, you can test run getting out the door on time (best thing I did!), talk about it, buy all the fancy calendars and sleep with your planner but you can’t actually understand how busy it’s going to be until you live it.  I thought about most everything (except for all the things I didn’t think of), we’re pretty set when it comes to backpacks, clean laundry and bedtimes but I kind of forgot something major.

We have to eat too.

It seems like by the time I get home from work/school stuff there is little time left for dinner and I’m scrambling to get everyone well fed. (read: by “well fed” I mean something nutritious and yummy that didn’t come from a package or a drive thru)  Some days it feels near impossible.

That is, until I remembered I have these two best friends living in our house – the slower cooker and her best buddy the freezer.  My slow cooker houses HUGE amounts of food and I am able to make 2 sometimes 3 meals at a time in her with minimal work.  While I have my old stand by recipes I’ve also discovered SO many great Slow Cooker recipes over on the Life Made Delicious Website!

One of our old stand by favourites is slow cooker spaghetti sauce.  This rich, hearty sauce covers SO many bases for us.  We eat it served over noodles (or Spaghetti Squash mmmm, squash), it makes a quick lasagne, if we have day old buns lying around it can be a Sloppy joe or add a can of beans and some spices and it’s Chili night!

This batch makes 3 dinners for our family and I love it.  After we’ve had our first meal I portion it out into 2 other meals and freeze it.  That way on days when I’m running late all I have to do is pull it out of the freezer, heat it up, boil some noodles and we’re good to go!

This is the “Chili Version” of my spaghetti sauce.  I couldn’t find my spaghetti photo but I’ll add on in a day or so as I’m in need of a big batch!

OFS Switch it Up Spaghetti Sauce

1lb (450g)                   Extra Lean Ground Beef*
1lb (450g)                   Ground Turkey Breast*
1 tsp                             Olive Oil
1 Large                        White Onion, diced small
3 Large                        Garlic Cloves, crushed
1 Medium                    Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Medium                    Orange Bell Pepper, chopped
4 Large                        Celery Stalks, chopped
2 cups                           Button Mushrooms, diced
1 medium                    Carrot, grated (adds sweetness, I only do it for the chili version)
2 tbsp                          Tomato Paste
2 Cans 796mL             Diced tomatoes in juice (low sodium)
2 Cans 796mL             Crushed Tomatoes**
1 tsp                              Oregano Dried (or fresh to taste if you have it)
2 tsp                              Italian Seasoning
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method:

1. Heat a large frying pan & olive oil on medium/high heat.  When hot add both types of meat.

2.  Cook until meat is golden brown, seasoning with a little bit of salt & pepper, drain off any fat (easiest way to do this is scoop out meat with a slotted spoon leaving the fat behind to pour into a container for disposal) add to slow cooker.

3. Return pan to heat and allow to get hot again, add onions, peppers, celery, and mushrooms.  Saute a few minutes to lock in flavour and add to your slow cooker.

4. Add remaining ingredients to your slow cooker, give it a couple of good stirs, turn on low/medium heat (if you’re cooking all day) or medium/high (if you’d like to cook it in less than 6 hours).

5. Put down spoon, grab car keys and head for Starbucks.  Dinner is done.

*You can use all of one type of meat.  In our house we’re tied on preference.  The girls and I love turkey and Corey loves his beef.  So we mix it up.  
**You can substitute tomato sauce for crushed tomatoes if you’d like.  We prefer the crushed tomatoes because there is nothing added to them, no sugar or other unwanted ingredients.

I LOVE this recipe.  It is an old favourite that gets used very often around here.  Making sure to have a few batches of my sauce in the freezer will ensure that come Christmas vacation my family will have happy full tummies and I will still be sane!

Looking for a great addition to your Spaghetti?  Try this Garlic Bread recipe from Life Made Delicious

 “Disclosure: I am part of the Life Made Delicious Blogger program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.”

 

Stress = Baking Frenzy!

When I’m stressed, when everything gets too hard I tend to throw myself into the tasks I have to do.  If it’s housework instead of just cleaning the grout of the sinks and shower with a toothbrush I’ll also do the baseboards and hidden corners.  If it’s blanket making, I’ll rip through a pattern that would take me 2 months in 2 weeks (for fitting sleep to do it), if it’s my workout I’ll beat the snot out of my imaginary opponent in kickboxing or crunch my abs into spasm.

This past few months has induced all of those excessive behaviours at one time or another but most recently it’s been my time in the kitchen.  Cooking is a cathartic activity for me.  I LOVE to feed people, I LOVE to make healthy food, I LOVE to re-invent recipes and then I LOVE to give it away.

So this week, that’s what I did and because my girls are pretty awesome creatures they joined in too.

We made 2 batches of Whole Wheat Bread…

Then we did Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies (twice)…

Snickerdoodles, because they are loved by someone…

Up next our ever popular Two Bit Brownies (again twice and these are the healthy version) and Then there was granola bars (twice again), a newly altered and fabulous recipe…

Can’t forget Granola…

Corey’s breakfast needs have increased so there was Breakfast Sausage Calzones….

And finally, Cinnamon Raisin Scones….

Um yes, it was a little excessive.  It’s about 12 dozen cookies, 12 dozen brownies and I didn’t count how many dozens of the rest.  A good portion of that was for gifts – but our freezer is full.

I have burns, dish pan hands and have swept the flour covered flour more than once.  I ate my weight in cookie dough, and each time I put sugar in my mouth now I kinda get nauseous.

It helped, a lot.  As did the sweet comments, emails and Facebooks from you guys.  I appreciate the love!  I don’t mean to be a whiner, I try very hard to keep it to myself and keep this here space about my family and the positive parts of life, but sometimes the “stuff” overflows.

We’ve had colds this week so there’s been a bit more time at home, a few more snuggles, a whole lot of snot and baking.  Please let me be clear the snot and the baking were not mixed, it’s safe!

How do you cope with stress?  I will begin sharing these recipes next week, which one should I start with?

Mix it Up

Kids like to snack, adults like to snack, heck I like to snack! But so often finding healthy snack foods is difficult. The ones that are quick are often loaded with HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup, or obesity in a bottle), sodium, empty calories and garbage, the ones that are prepacked are full of preservatives and more garbage and sometimes fruit and veggies just aren’t an option.

Now we are super fortunate because Bethany and Audrey LOVE their veggies, all sorts and their fruit so that’s never a problem. The thing is, you can’t just eat fruits and veg, you need protein, and complex carbs and fibre. And since I can’t trust the manufacturers to provide us with healthy and easy options, we decided to make our own.

One of my big rules with the girls is they have to try something once. They have to taste it without saying “Yucky” first and they have to swallow it. Then they can choose if the like it or they don’t. I also believe in making it fun, and removing as much of the pressure as possible.

I’ve found with our girls, especially Bethany that taking her shopping with me and letting her choose a new “healthy” snack out of the bulk section helps. She’s tried and liked soy nuts, sunflower seeds, almonds (the last two thanks to Grammy) and pumpkin seeds. She’ll eat a few cashews and has learned that she really doesn’t like raisins that aren’t in cookies. Audrey has discovered she likes pretty much everything.

So we go to the bulk section, choose out a bunch of healthy choices (6 or 7 of them) for each kid, most of the time they choose the same thing but sometimes Audrey adds something else into the mix. Then we choose one treat item, often either M&M’s or Rosebuds.

Once we’re home we begin building our mix. The girls have their own “Special Mix” containers, and they have to put a 1/3 cup of 4 healthy items into their containers, then they are allowed 1/3 of the treat. They repeat this process over and over until the containers are full. Then it’s on with the lids, on with the tunes and the shaking begins.

By the time our song is over, the mixes are done and the girls are ready to try them. They get given a scoop of their mix for a snack and they’re in heaven. It feels like a treat because there is one or two pieces of chocolate in the mix, and the know that the other things they are eating are good for their bodies. They also have to eat the entire mix, healthy items and treats before they are allowed any more. That stops them from eating all the Rosebuds and calling ‘er done. I usually serve them in small Tupperware containers so if they don’t finish it I can put the lid back on until they do.

It’s an excellent way to make snack time fun and I’m so glad we do it. How do you keep snack time healthy and fun?

Sharing the Recipe Love – Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream!

One of my favourite parts of living in the Fraser Valley happens around this time of year.  We get a lot of rain here, it’s moist, we get sunshine but not like the Okanagan (seriously, sky is bluer there), we get snow, but not like the Okanagan (all you Kelowna snow shovelers would collapse under the weight of our slush – it’s all fluff and stuff for you) and so, most often, while we’re happy here I catch myself saying – it’s nice in Smelliwack but it’s not the Okanagan.

Then July rolls around and I begin thinking – it’s nice up there in the OK but it’s no here!  You see, it’s berry season, we’re the proud home of Raspberries, Strawberries and Blueberries.  At almost any given time you can stop on the side of the road and buy some fresh out of the field local berries that make your mouth water.  (They also make something else water if you consume to many.  Gross I know, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!) 

If you’re smart, and most locals are you consume as many as possible before the above happens, and then take a 25 minute break and start over.  You shovel them in your mouth and the mouths of your family from morning to night, before the season ends and right when it does, you buy as many as the budget allows, and freeze ’em just to savour the goodness till next year.

We, this year, happen to be the smart locals.  We not only bought, picked (thanks Dad!) and enjoyed, we also baked (you remember the Lemon Raspberry Muffins?  They’re 30 million times better with fresh berries), froze and made ice cream!

My Dad picked all these raspberries for me so I didn’t have to do it.  An hour of love from him and about 3 days of munching for me!

That’s right, a few weeks back, Bethany, Audrey and I decided to use our delicious local strawberries to make some homemade strawberry ice cream, that was healthy(ier) and that I could even have a little of too.  (Most ice cream these days is full of crap and junk and High Fructose Corn Syrup, meaning I can’t eat it)

We sliced, we let sit, we poured and we mixed, then we froze and it was wonderful!  The best, and freshest tasting ice cream I’ve ever had!  If you have an ice cream maker you NEED to try this recipe, if you don’t but were thinking of one, it’s worth the investment (or the MC points like I used) the fun of making the ice cream, paired with the delicious flavour and the joy of knowing how to pronounce each ingredient going into your desert make the eating of the desert pure, sweet joy.

ps. I also “believe” that since I made the ice cream from scratch, the effort it took to buy the ingredients, slice them up and mix them together completely erases the calories that were consumed when I ate it.  You too can subscribe to this method of thinking and also enjoy your desert guilt and calorie free 🙂