Friday, March 29, 2013

Banana Oatmeal Muffins

These have become a breakfast staple at our house. In fact, I made some two days ago and they are already gone. No wonder I feel like I'm always in the kitchen...they keep eating the food I make...what's up with that?

We have pretty much cut out cereal at our house, which was not easy. (Even the "good" cereals can still have so much extra crap in them.) We all LOVE our cereal. But we just ate through what we had and then when it was gone, it was gone. I have made some homemade granola that I will share with you at a later date, and that has helped the transition. 

The issue with breakfast is that as much as we also love eggs, we don't want to eat them everyday. There is yogurt, fruit, toast and nut butter, clean waffles (usually on the weekends). Every once in a while I will buy some Nature's Path Flaxseed toaster waffles (sounds delish, right?). They are actually pretty good, and the kids like them. But in the interest of keeping costs down, I have been making these muffins. One batch makes about 15 muffins, which usually will last us a week or so, but apparently not this week!

I found the original recipe via Pinterest. As I was looking at the ingredients, I saw it included white sugar, which we have been trying to steer clear of. I figured I could try to convert the sugar to honey but I wasn't sure how to go about it. That is territory that I want to explore, but I haven't gotten there yet. As I was scrolling through some of the comments on the page, I found this version. This lady already figured it out AND added some extra good-for-you stuff! Thanks Debbie!

I did add one extra ingredient this week. I tried adding Wheat Germ and it worked out great. I have a friend, I like to think of her as my clean-eating-guru, that told me she puts Flaxseed and Wheat Germ in everything. So going on her advice, I threw some in the muffins and they tasted exactly the same. Success!

One of the nice things about this recipe is that you just throw all the ingredients into a food processor and let it do the work for you. Sweet!

I used quick oats here because that's all I had, but the recipe calls for traditional oats. 

Blend all the ingredients and then pour into a greased muffin pan, or use muffin cups. The batter will be very thick and I usually fill each cup about 3/4 of the way. They are pretty heavy muffins since there is no flour, so you don't need them to be huge in order to fill you up. 

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown. 


My family likes these muffins so much that there was a bit of a muffin-melt-down this morning when Daddy took the last one for lunch... 

"Mom said those are only for breakfast!

Well, I said that because they disappeared so quickly since they were being eaten for breakfast, lunch, snack....late night snack...ok, that one may be my fault. Hehe. The point is, these are great for anything! Just don't blink, you might miss them!

Here's the recipe from Debbie's blog, with my one addition.

Banana Oatmeal Muffins
  • 2.5 cups traditional oats
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain low-fat greek yogurt 
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 Tbsp ground Flaxseed
  • 2 Tbsp Wheat Germ
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ripe bananas
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
If you use traditional oats, then put those in the processor first and run it for a few seconds to chop them up a bit. 
Then put in the rest of the ingredients and blend until the mixture is smooth. The batter will be pretty thick. 
This where you can get creative. If you like chocolate chips or nuts in your muffins, then mix them into the batter.
Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 of the way.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Or you can use the toothpick method. 
Let them cool on a wire rack and then devour. 

I hope this helps makes breakfast at your house even tastier!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I Am NOT a Perfect Mom!

No More Perfect Moms. 

That was the theme of this year's Hearts-at-Home Conference. If you have never heard of Hearts-at-Home and you are a mom, then seriously....check it out.

Jill Savage, the CEO and Founder of H-A-H, has written many books (three of which, are sitting on my nightstand, waiting to be read), but this year she wrote a book called No More Perfect Moms. And boy did it hit home for me.

Every speaker showed a perfect picture and then a reality picture. So here are my pictures:

Perfection: (Awww, look at the smiling faces...)

aaaaaand Reality: Yep, that's more like it.

The day I spent at the conference was life changing. And I don't use that term lightly. I went there expecting to learn how to be a good mommy, but boy did God have other plans for me. He really convicted me as a wife and as a Christian. I realized how much I need to strengthen my relationship with my husband and more importantly, with God. For the last five days I knew I wanted to blog about the conference and what I learned, but there was so much to tell I just couldn't I've been putting it off. Then today happened. And I knew exactly what to write.

I'm lucky enough to be involved in a wonderful moms group in my town. This year I am co-leading it with a dear friend. She and I were both at the conference and after we left, we knew we wanted to change up the schedule and talk about Jill's book at our group this week. Even though I had a mess of other things to do, somehow I squeezed in some time to leaf through the book, watch the DVD, and review my notes from the conference. There was so much information that we could have shared, but we were forced to squeeze a 9-week study into a 105 minute session. Still, I was so excited to pass on this revelation to our group. None of us are perfect! And that is OKAY! Who knew?!

We had a great meeting, focusing on the parts of the book that we felt were most important. Some women really opened up and shared stories that I know were not easy to share. I felt like it really bonded our group even closer. At the end of the meeting I was SO happy! I know I struggle with feeling like everything has to be perfect and I so badly want to tell every mom, every where that we don't have be anymore. Jill says so!

So far this blog post seems pretty perfect, right? She went to a conference, got filled with the Holy Spirit, and is now out to change the world. Well, let me add in a large dose of reality. 

As my three-year-old and I were leaving after the meeting, we got to the car and she, being her silly self, started going to each door of the car that was NOT hers and saying "This one Mom?", "No, Jilly, not that one.", "This one?" "No Jilly, not that one.", and so on. She got to the back of the car and pointed to the liftgate and said, "In here?". I laughed and asked her if she wanted to ride back there and of course she said yes. Then, as I remember it, I took her hand to guide her around the car to the proper seat. What really happened? I grabbed her hand and apparently pulled hard enough that the poor kid fell on the gravel and skinned her knee (through her jeans!). My heart dropped. Did I just do that to her?! I really didn't mean to! I wasn't mad, upset, or frustrated. We were playing and having fun! How did I just do that to my baby?! Of course, tears ensued along with a type of cry that I don't often hear from her...which made the hurt in my heart even worse. By the time we got home, I was in tears, too, apologizing over and over, and telling her that mommy would make it all better. 

Nice Mom huh? Hey, kid, let's be silly and have some fun, and then I'll knock you over and skin your knee. Okay with you?

We finally got her knee cleaned up, made a quick phone call to Daddy to help dry her tears, and got lunch made. While Jillian was eating, I started to clean up my kitchen. From time to time, I make frosted sugar cookies. You know, the fancy kind that take FOREVER to make. Currently, I am working on a big batch for a friend that is due next week, and it has taken over my life. 10 dozen cookies. I have a decent sized kitchen, but I do NOT have optimal counter space. So there are cookies everywhere. As I started to pack up some of the ones that were dry, I was counting them and realized some were missing...I mentally retraced my steps from the night before, trying to remember where I had stashed them. Last I could remember, I had placed them on a drying rack and then put the rack on the stove...and then when I made the casserole this morning for my mom group I moved the rack to the edge of the kitchen table so the icing didn't melt. But I'm looking at the rack and there are no cookies on it....what...why is there icing on the chair...and why is there icing on the carpet....and why is the dog hiding in her kennel....WHAT?! 

Yep. The dog ate my homework. Or in this case cookies. A dozen to be exact. In my rush to make the "perfect" casserole (and clean, because of course I HAVE to make a clean casserole, I can't just make a normal casserole like everyone else) and be "perfectly" on time to group, and set up the tables, chairs, and food so it's "perfect" when everyone else gets there, it never once occurred to me to put the SUGARY, PEOPLE FOOD in a place where the PEOPLE-FOOD-LOVING DOG couldn't reach it. 

Once I realized what happened I called my husband bawling. I am so thankful for him, because he calmed me down and steered me away from dumping the dog at the nearest shelter. I came up with a plan, he offered to help where he could, and I felt like I could breath again. Meanwhile, Jillian is "limping" around the house, milking her injury as much as possible, a talent I can only assume she learned from her big sister, and I just had to laugh. Wow, God sure had a lesson for me today. 

And that's the moment when I knew what I wanted to write in this blog post. Even though I heard all the words from Jill and took the notes, watched the DVD, leafed through the book (which I DO plan on reading), and was so excited to pass on this great message to other moms, I still wasn't evaluating my own actions. Even during moments where you aren't doing anything to try and be perfect, like walking to the car, you can still have an imperfect moment. I need to forgive myself for accidentally hurting my daughter. I need to stop trying to make everything so perfect and take a moment to think about what really needs to be moving the cookies to a safe place. I need to forgive myself for the fact that these cookies have taken every minute of my time this week, leaving the kitchen a mess, laundry piled up, and the house not very well attended to. But it's okay, because I'm not perfect, and I'm doing the best I can.

In Jill's book, she talks about not expecting perfection from ourselves or from others. Everywhere we look, we tend to compare ourselves to what we see, whether we think we are better or worse. I'm guilty of it, and I'm sure you are, too. It's started what she calls "mommy wars", moms constantly judging other moms for living differently, making different choices, and for appearing perfect all the time. It's time to stop. I don't know how many times I've had the conversation with friends about why women can't just get along. Why can't we support each other and lift each other up, rather than talking behind backs or tearing each other down? We are all fearfully and wonderfully made by the same God and He made us women for a reason! I mean, we all know our husbands will never fully understand us, so why not be there for each other?

Jill and Hearts-at-Home have started the Knock It Off Commitment. It's a commitment that you sign online stating that you realize how often you judge yourself and how often you judge others.

I have decided to take this pledge, and I challenge you to do the same. The website says:

Because of these realizations, I commit to:
  • Give myself grace when I make mistakes
  • Extending grace to other moms when they make mistakes
  • Offering other moms the benefit of the doubt instead of jumping to judgmental conclusions
  • Recognizing that I cannot be and will never be a perfect mom
  • Refusing the temptation to judge when other moms make different choices than I make
  • Embracing differences instead of criticizing them
  • Resisting the urge to compare my insides to other women's outsides
  • Making strides in honesty with other moms and living an authentic life
  • Doing my part to stop the mommy wars, one "Knock It Off" decision at a time. 
Will you join me? Right now, the website says that 378 moms have made this commitment...lets make that number skyrocket. 

I am NOT a perfect mom. I caused my kid to skin her knee today. I haven't done laundry in over a week, and we are ALL on our last pair of underwear. I haven't made my bed since...I'm not sure when. My kitchen is a mess. My floor needs to be vacuumed. I forgot to sign my daughter up for softball last night. We ate frozen pizza last week. (That's not really a big deal, but even in my striving to eat clean, I am NOT perfect!)

But it's okay! As Jill said, God didn't make us perfect, just able to be perfected. God has given us the most grace of all, by sending His Son to die for us. So can't we extend ourselves and others some grace? 

Hi, my name is Evie, and I am proud to be a NOT-perfect mom!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tuna Flippers

I had a lot of wonderful feedback about the Spaghetti Pie recipe Olivia and I posted last week. It makes me so happy to know that this blog has been useful to people. I have been having fun learning all these recipes and I love hearing stories of others trying them, too! 

I have all kinds of recipes ready to share like granola, muffins, and smoothies, but dinner seems to be what a lot of people are interested in so here is another good one from the Mayo book.

This is another tasty, easy-to-make, child-pleasing (plus hidden veggies, shhh) dinner to try. 

In trying to eat clean and watch our grocery budget, I have been trying to mix up our nightly dinner. Within one week I try to have a couple nights of meat (usually chicken or turkey), one night of fish, and then a couple nights of another type of protein such as beans or eggs. We are huge salmon lovers here, and you can get it frozen at a decent price. When it goes on sale at the grocery store I will buy it fresh, and it's kind of like a treat! 

But one can get tired of something, no matter how delicious it is, so that's why we tried these. Tuna is CHEAP! I make sure to buy the tuna canned in water and luckily I nabbed a bunch of cans when the local grocery store had a sale. 

You can make these super healthy by making them a lettuce wrap with some low-fat cheese or, as my kids preferred, you can serve them on a whole wheat bun like a burger. 

Either way, it's a meal that has budget-friendly protein, hidden veggies, and just plain tastes good.

First you want to cook some carrots in a bowl in the microwave. Add a little water and throw them in for a few minutes. 

Once the carrots are soft, mash them up as best as you can with a fork.

Mix all your ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl.

Once all the ingredients are fully mixed together, form them into patties. You're going to have to get your hands dirty for this part. 

Place them in a large skillet with some olive oil, and fry them like a hamburger patty. Cook on one side for a few minutes and then flip and cook the other side for a few minutes. That's all it takes to cook them!

Slap them on a bun and call it a meal. 

I made this while my husband was out of town because it seemed pretty simple. It was a very easy meal to throw together and I just served it with some sliced apples and cottage cheese. Nothing fancy, but sometimes it's nice to have a meal that you don't have to fight about, right?

I hope your kids like it!

Tuna Flippers

  • 2 large carrots, or the equivalent in baby carrots
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 3 tsp chopped fresh parsley (or dried)
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill weed
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 6-ounce cans water-packed tuna, drained
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
Chop carrots and place in a microwave-safe bowl with water. Make sure the bowl has a lid. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Make sure carrots are soft, if not then cook for another minute.

Drain the water and place the carrots in a mixing bowl. Mash them completely with a fork. 

Add parsley to the carrots. 

Zest the whole lemon over the mixing bowl, or you can use a small grater. Zest until the lemon is all white. Cut the lemon in half and use a citrus juicer to get the juice out. Add juice to the bowl. (I highly recommend using the juicer, I tried just squeezing them and I had to fish out lemon seeds.)

Separate egg whites from the yolk. Add egg whites, dill, pepper and tuna to the bowl and mix thoroughly.

Divide mixture to make patties. You can decide how big you want the patties, the size will determine how many you get. I made 7 small-medium patties. 

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Once your patties are formed, carefully place them in the skillet. Make sure they are not touching. If you can't fit them all, then cook them in batches. 

Cook them for 4-5 minutes or until browned on one side, then flip them and cook for another 3-4 minutes. 

Place patty on a bun or lettuce and eat up!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

From the Mouths of Babes...

Today I have a guest blogger. My daughter Olivia. 

While my husband was away on a work trip, I came home from work one evening to find Olivia and the babysitter making dinner. Of course, after recovering from my shock and joy, I promptly took advantage of the opportunity and went to my room for a few minutes of peace and quiet...and to hurry up and finish my bible study for that night's meeting. As I was in my room, Olivia came in and showed me the pictures she had been taking of the food they were cooking. 

Ever since I started this blog and have been taking pictures of our food, the kids think that all food needs to be photographed. I got out the peanut butter the other day and Jillian says, "Picture Mommy? Picture? Cheeeeeese!". 

As I was looking at Olivia's pictures she asked if I was going to put them on my blog and I replied with a "maybe". Then I had the idea. 

"Do you want to write a blog, Olivia?"

"ME???? YEAH!!!"

And here we are. 

So without further ado, here is the story/recipe of Spaghetti Pie from the mind of a 7-year-old. All words and pictures are entirely hers. Enjoy.


Hi, my name is Olivia and I love to cook.

Me and my babysitter, Joyelle, thought of making dinner for my mom so we could sit down and eat when my mom came home. So we looked through a new cooking book that we got and we found Spaghetti Pie. It was a new thing that we never had before. We thought we did not have all of the ingredients, then we found all of them. 

This is the Spaghetti Pie that we are making. 
Step One, Preheat the oven to 35 degrees. We cooked the spaghetti noodles. You put the noodles in a pot and then you cook them like spaghetti. Then when we were done, I drained them. You put them in a strainer and shake them. 

Then I put the ground turkey in the pot. You smash it up and make small chunks. Joyelle cooked it until it was like bubbling but it had no water in it. You know that noise that like sizzles? It made that noise. Then we add green peppers and onions. While Joyelle cooked the ground turkey I grated the cheese. 

Then we go back to the noodles. We spread them in a dessert pan and spread them around. Then we get the cottage cheese and spread it over the noodles.

Then go back to the ground turkey. Then you add the tomatoes and the tomato sauce. 

After that you mix it all up. Then you spread the meat and vegetables over the cottage cheese and spaghetti. 

This is the spaghetti with the meat and veggies. Then you spread the meat out with the wooden spoon. Make sure you have every thing hot except the cottage cheese.

Next you sprinkle the grated cheese on and put it in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. 

Then you are done!!

All of us loooooved it!! And Joyelle stayed for dinner! Mom never gets seconds, but she got seconds this time. It was really good when you eat it for leftovers, too.  And Mom was so surprised!

Thanks for reading this! Goodbye world!!


I think she did pretty good!  

This really was a delicious meal. I had seen it in the cookbook and passed it by thinking it was the same as any other pasta casserole, but I am so glad that they made it. It will definitely be a staple dish in our household, especially because it makes great leftovers. With my husband gone, we had enough to eat it for three nights!

So for those of you that would like the official version of this recipe. Here you go, straight from the Mayo cookbook. 

Spaghetti Pie

  • 4 ounces thin whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp reduced-fat Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 egg (or egg substitute)
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese (we used cottage cheese)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced green or red bell pepper
  • 1/2 lb ground turkey
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes, no salt added, undrained
  • 1/4 tomato paste, no salt added
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Cook spaghetti according to the box directions. Drain and return to saucepan.

Stir olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and beaten egg into cooked spaghetti. Spoon spaghetti mixture into pie dish (or casserole dish). Using your fingers, spread noodles along the bottom and up the sides of the dish to form a crust.

Spread the ricotta cheese over the bottom of the crust. Set aside.

Cook turkey, onion, and peppers until turkey is no longer pink. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, and oregano to meat. Cook until heated through. 

Spoon meat mixture over the ricotta cheese. 

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top. Bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. 

Cut and serve. 

We hope you all enjoy this as much as we did!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I don't know about you, but I have a sweet tooth. More like sweet teeth. Sweets are my biggest downfall...that and a bag of Kettle Brand Potato Chips.  At 9:00 p.m. I get the craving for some cold, creamy ice cream or some sweet, melty chocolate and the mental battle ensues.

Oh that sounds good....No....but just a little bit won't hurt....drink some water stupid....but water doesn't taste the'll hate yourself in the morning....but....

Before last year, the sweet tooth almost always won. I mean, come on, how can you say no to mint chip ice cream?? Isn't that why being a grown-up is worth it? I can eat ice cream WHENEVER I WANT. 

Now I am able to fight a little harder when the cravings come...and they still come. I've accepted that they will always come back. Maybe not as bad as before or as often, but there will always be a time when I have to "Just Say No". Hi, my name is Evie, and I'm a sugar addict. 

Enter the cookies. 

I found this recipe on Pinterest. It didn't have a link to a website, so I have no clue who to give credit for these. 

The first time I made these was on Valentine's Day. It wasn't a sugar craving that caused me to make was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and seeing all the crafty, cute things other moms did for their kids on Valentine's Day. Not only did I forget to find a box for Olivia to decorate for her school party until the day before (causing a major meltdown and me coloring the box for her after bedtime) but I didn't make, bake, or buy anything for my kids. *gasp* My only defense is that my anniversary is one week before Valentine's Day, so my husband and I typically don't celebrate it. I know...that's no excuse. 

So there I am Facebook scrolling and realizing that I don't have any cute baggies with homemade valentine's or melted crayon hearts (Hi Megan!) or red heart shaped pancakes and the guilt floods in.  

Crap. I suppose I should try and whip something up. After all, I wouldn't want to look like a bad mom, right?!

I remembered this cookie recipe so I decided to make these. I didn't have raisins or even chocolate chips, but I did find a bag of Andes mints baking chips in the freezer leftover from Christmas....that'll work. Then being the ultra-creative, awesome mom that I am (not) I added red food coloring and shaped the cookies like hearts. 

I've had a few compliments from people about my honesty on this blog...well here's honest for ya: They were kind of gross. This is one instance where my tweaking and making-do did not work out for me. The mint chocolate did not mix well with the banana and applesauce and frankly, the pink color just wasn't appetizing. They were just weird. 

So this time I made the cookies exactly as the recipe instructed...and they turned out much better!

First you need:

Then you:

Next you:

Spoon onto cookie sheets and:

And you're done! Grab a glass of cold milk and enjoy!

Here's the recipe.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

  • 3 mashed ripe bananas
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 almond milk (I used unsweetened vanilla flavored)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until fully blended. The mixture will be sticky and very wet. Place about a spoonful per cookie on a cookie sheet. Since these cookies have no flour and they don't expand, they will stay in whatever shape you put them. I mashed them down a bit so they weren't too thick.

Bake 15-20 minutes. Let them cool completely before placing them in a container. 

Makes about 2 dozen 2 in. cookies.

According to Myfitnesspal it's about 50 calories per cookie. Score!

Perfect afternoon snack.