Archive for Recipe

Buttery, Comforting Tuna Casserole Made with Real Food

Buttery, Comforting Tuna Casserole Made with Real Food

Do you need a new menu for dinner that isn’t super difficult but the whole family will love? I make tuna casserole for my daycare kids and they can’t get enough of it. I love it too. I have a formula for making my own homemade hamburger helper type meals that save me time and money on food, but are made without all the harmful chemicals that come in processed food. This tuna casserole is a spin on that idea.

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Cook 1 Chicken, Make 3 Meals

How to use leftover chicken three ways, instant pot friendly recipes

I saved a ton of money and time buying one whole chicken and making it into three wonderful meals. Buying whole chickens is much more economical than just getting boneless skinless chicken breast. Whole chickens have a better variety of meat and nutrition available as well. Making delicious meals from leftover chicken is super easy.

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Real Food Party Drink Recipes

Real Food Party Drink Recipes

I don’t know about you but I love a party! Would you love to have some fun, yummy drinks to serve that aren’t full of artificial colors and flavors? I don’t drink alcohol but I love having a fun party drink to serve. I have done a lot of different things over the years, but I love the idea of making fruit punch from real food ingredients. There are a thousand recipes for fruit punch but most of them have cool aid or soda or some other ingredient that I like to avoid in my diet and my kid’s diets.

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Cook One Pork Roast and Make 5 Meals

How to Cook one pork roast and make 5 meals with leftovers

I cannot believe how amazingly versatile, inexpensive, and wham pow tasty pork roast is! You can cook one roast, and make a ton of meals from it. The price of the roast depends on where you live, but it’s one of the most economical meats you can get. I got this 6-pound roast for about $11 here in Oklahoma. I buy pork shoulder, butt roast, or picnic roast. Whichever kind is on sale, and they all turn out great.

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Pumpkin Cookies with Homemade Pumpkin Puree

I love working with pumpkins with my kids, and decorating with them, but I HATE wasting food. I don’t like buying them and not using them. We roast our pumpkins and make our own homemade puree. Then I freeze it in the freezer in 2 cup portions so it’s ready for recipes. We can use it to add nutrients and fiber to our food all year. It’s a great idea! This time we made yummy pumpkin cookies with our puree. 

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pumpkin-cookies-with-homemade-pumpkin-puree

First step, cut the pumpkin in half.


using-your-pumpkins-after-halloween

Second step, scoop out all the seeds and junk in the middle.

You can wash the seeds and soak them in brine and cook them. They are delicious. You can compost the stringy goop in the center too. Click here to see how to make your own yummy pumpkin seeds.

using-real-pumpkin-to-make-pumpkin-cookies

Third step, bake them.

Set your oven to 350-400 degrees and lay the pumpkin halves on a cookie sheet cut side down. Bake them until fork tender. The time will depend on the size of the pumpkins. You can use pie pumpkins or even big jack o lantern pumpkins, but pie pumpkins have a more concentrated flavor and smoother texture. We use both. Like I said, I hate waste.

making-homemade-pumpkin-puree

If I have a pumpkin that goes past it’s prime before it’s time to cook them up, I will set it out around the outside of the garden fence and let it decompose there. Sometimes animals will come and eat them. In the spring, some pumpkin plants will come up on their own. I love the idea of plants planting themselves naturally.

homemade-pumpkin-puree-for-pumpkin-cookies

Fourth step, skin and process.

The skins will slide right off the pumpkin halves when they have cooled. Then throw the chunks in your blender or food processor and process until smooth. You can add a tablespoon of water if you need to loosen it up a little.

homemade-pumpkin-puree

This year, when we baked our first pumpkin, we made some yummy pumpkin cookies. The kids loved them. I don’t use any cinnamon because I’m seriously allergic to it, even the smell. I personally think pumpkin flavor is good all on its own, but I’ve been allergic to cinnamon my whole life so I haven’t spent much time eating it.

pumpkin-cookies

Take your puree and measure out two cups and store them in a zip lock back or mason jar with plenty of head space. Then your puree is at the ready for your recipes. Another great idea is to freeze it in ice cube trays. Once it’s frozen, pop them out and store them in an airtight container. Then you can use a cube or two or three as a hidden ingredient in many things. Soups, stews, and casseroles are a great place to boost nutrients with 3 or 4 cubes of pumpkin but will never be detected by picky eaters. Trust me, I’m a professional.

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Pretty Pintastic Party

Here’s our recipe for pumpkin cookies.

They are soft and fat and super yummy. Enjoy.

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Pumpkin Cookies with Homemade Pumpkin Puree
Soft, tasty, cake like pumpkin cookies with a light glaze.
Author: Christina Kamp
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 C . flour
  • 1 tsp . baking powder
  • 1 tsp . baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp . sea salt
  • 1/2 C . soft butter
  • 1 1/2 C . raw sugar
  • 1 C . homemade pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp . vanilla
  • 2 C . powdered sugar
  • 4 T . milk
  • 1 T . melted butter
  • 1 tsp . vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and raw sugar.
  3. Add pumpkin, egg, and 2 teaspoons vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy.
  4. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. If you want to use Gina's spices, you could add them now, cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves.
  5. Mix into wet ingredients.
  6. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls.
  7. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven.
  8. Cool cookies.
  9. To Make Glaze: Combine confectioners' sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
  10. Drizzle over cooled cookies with a fork.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Gina on AllRecipes.com

Real Food Meatballs

Making kid food from real food ingredients gives them the most health and nutrition possible. I’ve been working on a new menu for the kids this fall, and these meatballs are a new item we are going to put on it. We made a tester version of them and the kids LOVED them! If you want to see how to simplify menu planning, click here

homemade meatballs

Kids love foods they can hold like meatballs. 

Meatballs are similar to meatloaf, but i made these in small balls for less hassle and waste. These meatballs are two per serving for a 3-4 year old. They are easy to divide, easy to serve seconds and all the kids gobbled them up. 


delicious homemade meatball

I love feeding my kids foods I know are nutritious AND well liked.

Click here to see our new empanada recipe and watch the blog for our new hot pocket recipe coming soon. All of these items have been well loved here at Little Sprouts. I have included the recipe for a single batch of meatballs AND the recipe for a quadruple batch so you can make a huge batch and put a bunch in the freezer for the next time like I do. If you are going to make a mess and cook, you might as well really get something done. 

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If you want to read more about how to get picky kids to eat healthy foods, click here.

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Real Food Meatballs
Kid Friendly meatballs (tiny meatloaves) made with real food ingredients.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 lb meat
  2. ½ chopped onion
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1 clove garlic
  5. ¼ c. bread crumbs
  6. ½ c. quick oats (or make your own from old fashioned)
  7. ¼ c. grated cheese
  8. ½ c. tomato sauce
  9. 1 tsp. thyme
  10. 1 tsp. parsley
  11. ½ tsp. salt
  12. ¼ tsp. pepper
  13. Ketchup for the top
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Grind up oats in your food processor to make quick oats
  3. Dump oats in a bowl
  4. Make bread crumbs in your food processor
  5. Dump crumbs in the bowl
  6. Chop up onion and garlic in your food processor
  7. Dump into bowl with oats and crumbs
  8. Add egg, cheese, tomato sauce, herbs and salt and pepper
  9. Mix well
  10. Add meat and mix lightly until just mixed
  11. Scoop balls in small muffin scoop and roll lightly to shape
  12. Bake 10-12 minutes
  13. Makes 20 balls or 10 servings (for preschool agers)
Little Sprouts Learning http://littlesproutslearning.co/
Real Food Meatballs x 4
Multi batch of kid friendly meatballs made from real food.
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Ingredients
  1. 4 lb ground meat
  2. 2 chopped onion
  3. 4 eggs
  4. 4 cloves garlic
  5. 1 c. bread crumbs
  6. 2 c. quick oats (or make your own from old fashioned)
  7. 1 c. grated cheese
  8. 2 c. tomato sauce
  9. 4 tsp. thyme
  10. 4 tsp. parsley
  11. 2 tsp. salt
  12. 1 tsp. pepper
  13. Ketchup to top
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Grind up oats in your food processor to make quick oats
  3. Dump oats in a bowl
  4. Make bread crumbs in your food processor
  5. Dump crumbs in the bowl
  6. Chop up onion and garlic in your food processor
  7. Dump into bowl with oats and crumbs
  8. Add egg, cheese, tomato sauce, herbs and salt and pepper
  9. Mix well
  10. Add meat and mix lightly until just mixed
  11. Scoop balls in small muffin scoop and roll lightly to shape
  12. Bake 10-12 minutes
  13. Makes 80 balls or 10 servings (for preschool agers)
Little Sprouts Learning http://littlesproutslearning.co/

Real Food Mac and Cheese

I have searched and searched for a great mac and cheese recipe for years. Usually, I don’t like homemade mac and cheese because it is kind of pasty and not as creamy as I like. I don’t want to serve my kids (or myself) processed cheese food, I want to serve them real food ingredients. Every recipe I saw for using real cheeses called for you to make a roux with flour and butter, and then add liquid and make a sauce and melt the cheese into it. I just never liked it.

real food mac and cheese

A few weeks ago I decided to try one more time to make up something on my own. So I cooked some elbow noodles and got busy creating a sauce. I took some milk and heated it in a pan on the stove. I added a half a packet of cream cheese and a half a cup of sour cream and whisked it into the milk. Then I added shredded cheeses and seasonings. It turned out amazing. I super loved it! I used a mixture of the cheeses I had to work with including cheddar and mozzarella and a little bit of Parmesan. It was the best macaroni and cheese I’ve ever had and there are no chemicals involved. It was a win win.

Here’s my recipe for Homemade Mac and Cheese, I hope you love it too!


making homemade macaroni and cheese without velveetareal mozzarella cheese in mac and cheese homemadeHomemade cheese sauce with real cheese for mac and cheesehomemade mac and cheese 

Real Food Mac and Cheese
Creamy, delicious mac and cheese with no chemicals.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound of elbow macaroni
  2. 4 oz. cream cheese
  3. ½ cup sour cream
  4. 1 ½ cups milk
  5. 3 T. butter
  6. 3 cups shredded cheese, 2 cups mozzarella, 1 cup cheddar
  7. ¾ tsp salt
  8. Grated Parmesan to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions and drain. I like my pasta al dente.
  2. Pour milk into large saucepan and heat.
  3. When milk is starting to get warm, add butter, sour cream and cream cheese.
  4. Cook and stir on medium heat until incorporated.
  5. Add shredded cheese and cook stirring constantly.
  6. Add salt and pasta and stir to coat.
Little Sprouts Learning http://littlesproutslearning.co/
Note: In this recipe, it calls for a total of three cups of shredded cheese total. Al dente means still firm, but not crunchy. Overcooked pasta is not pleasant. 

Click here to check out more top kid’s meals that aren’t junk. 

 

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How to Save Time and Money Making Slow Cooker Meals

How to Save Time and Money Making Slow Cooker Meals

Do you hate getting home and needing something for dinner fast? Using the slow cooker can save you time and money. Having dinner ready when you get home from work is awesome. Not having to stand over a skillet or pan is a great time saver. When dinner is already ready, there is much less temptation to eat unhealthy fast food and blow your family’s budget.

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Homemade Ham and Cheese Hot Pockets

ham and cheese hot pocket production

Hot pockets are convenient and can be delicious, especially if you make them yourself. Using pizza crust to make them is tender and flavorful. I use the pioneer woman’s pizza crust recipe because it’s perfect every time. She’s knows what’s up! Click here for the dough recipe. 

Conventional hot pockets that are available from the store are loaded with chemicals and additives that are not good for you or your kids.

I love knowing what I feed my kids is made from real food that is healthy and whole. These hot pockets are not only made with real food, they are also less expensive than these store bought ones. And the flavor, MAN, it’s great!

I paid $36 for enough ham and cheese to make 72 hot pockets.


With all ingredients tallied, my hot pockets costed $0.66 each to make. The store bought ones are $2.89 for two, so one hot pocket is $1.44, for a savings of $0.78 per pocket. You could use a less expensive meat like ground beef or sausage or something and make them even cheaper. I needed a ham menu item for my new menu, so i’m sticking with ham. The ham was real ham i had sliced in the deli and the cheese was cheddar.

We are not allowed to serve lunch meat on the food program. The ham and the cheese were on sale though (of course, or i wouldn’t have purchased them) 

store bought hot pockets full of chemicals

Click here to check out what’s actually IN store bought hot pockets. It might make you change your mind about eating them. This picture below is from the article. Yuck! Even if you don’t have food allergies like me, it’s gross. Do you even know what this stuff is or what it does to your body? (Poster designed by Justin Pericone, click here for more info)

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I like to make everything in bulk and freeze it.

To do that, I made 4 batches of hot pockets and froze them in batches of 10 servings. I added enough ham and cheese to each hot pocket to make it a perfect serving for a 3-4 year old. Each child needs 1 1/2 ounces of protein. I put an ounce of ham and a half ounce of cheese on each pocket. 

Instead of using lunch meat, I bought a ham and had it sliced at the deli into slices, so my kids would be eating real meat and cheese. These turned out so much better than I expected and every kid loved them so they are a shoe in for my new menu this year. 

Click here to see how to plan a menu and here to see the top 10 healthy meals kids love.

First, you make up the dough and divide it into serving sizes. I used my kitchen aid mixer to whip mine up. 

Hot pocket doughrolling out homemade hot pocket dough

Next, roll each piece out and top it with the filling. You could make pizza flavored, taco flavored, use sausage, or whatever you think sounds good. I wanted ham and cheese for a different protein for my menu.

 

homemade hot pockets, ham and cheese

Once the pocket is filled, fold the other half of the dough over the top, and seal the edges. These pockets would look prettier with egg wash but I am dealing with an egg allergy, so i left it off. The taste and texture of this dough was outstanding on these pockets.

hot pocket, homemade

homemade ham and cheese hot pockets, ready to go in the oven.

Once you have them all rolled and filled and sealed, then you just have to bake them. I baked them all before I froze them and I served a taste tester batch that won all thumbs up. 

homemade ham and cheese hot pockets fresh from the oven

Homemade Ham and Cheese Hot Pockets
Tasty homemade hot pocket ready to eat or freeze with no added chemicals.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 c. warm water
  2. 1 tsp. dry yeast
  3. 4 cups flour
  4. 1 tsp sea salt
  5. 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  6. 1 pound of good ham, sliced thinly
  7. 1/2 pound of good cheddar cheese, sliced thinly
Instructions
  1. Combine warm water and yeast.
  2. Stir and set aside
  3. Combine flour and salt in stand mixer bowl
  4. Turn on mixer and drizzle in olive oil
  5. Slowly add the yeast mixture and mix on low until dough forms a ball
  6. Cut dough into 16 pieces
  7. Roll out each piece of dough and top one side with 1.5 ounces of ham and cheese.
  8. Fold dough over and seal edges
  9. Egg wash if desired
  10. Bake at 500 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until dough is golden brown
  11. Serve warm or cool completely and freeze.
  12. To reheat, just microwave for 30 seconds or reheat in oven
Adapted from Crust from Pioneer Woman
Adapted from Crust from Pioneer Woman
Little Sprouts Learning http://littlesproutslearning.co/
Homemade Ham and Cheese Hot Pockets-4 batches
Bulk quadruple batch of tasty homemade hot pocket ready to eat or freeze with no added chemicals.
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Ingredients
  1. Double batch of dough, do this twice
  2. 3 c. warm water
  3. 2 tsp. dry yeast
  4. 8 cups flour
  5. 2 tsp sea salt
  6. 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  7. Repeat dough again
  8. 4 pounds of good ham, sliced thinly
  9. 2 pounds of good cheddar cheese, sliced thinly
Instructions
  1. Combine warm water and yeast.
  2. Stir and set aside
  3. Combine flour and salt in stand mixer bowl
  4. Turn on mixer and drizzle in olive oil
  5. Slowly add the yeast mixture and mix on low until dough forms a ball
  6. Cut dough into 32 pieces
  7. Make second double batch of dough
  8. Roll out each piece of dough and top one side with 1.5 ounces of ham and cheese.
  9. Fold dough over and seal edges
  10. Egg wash if desired
  11. Bake at 500 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until dough is golden brown
  12. Serve warm or cool completely and freeze.
  13. To reheat, just microwave for 30 seconds or reheat in oven
Adapted from Crust from Pioneer Woman
Adapted from Crust from Pioneer Woman
Little Sprouts Learning http://littlesproutslearning.co/
 

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Homemade Ham and Cheese Hot Pockets

World Famous Green Bean Recipe

My daycare kids LOVE my world famous green beans.

A few years ago, when I had some older boys enrolled in care, they would ask for these green beans all the time. I would make them as soon as we could get enough green beans from the garden. They dubbed them world famous and who am I to argue with that. Pre-teen boys know where it’s at! It’s comfort food. 

green beans, bacon, sunflower seeds, dill

I am allergic to nuts and lactose intolerant, so a large portion of nutrients that my body needs are not a part of my diet through those foods. Nuts are super important for healthy omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin E as well as protein and calcium. I add these nutrients to my diet by supplementing many recipes with seeds. Seeds are super healthy food that are packed with almost as much of these vital nutrients as nuts, but with no anaphylactic shock for me. I add them to as many recipes as I can.


green beans

Green beans are awesome!

I hope you are growing green beans in your garden. They are super easy and make so many delicious meals. Check in next week to see how to store and use green beans in a ton of ways. I love using real food ingredients any way I can. Making food homemade helps you skip a lot of chemicals and additives that are in processed food. If you grow them yourself, you really know they are pure and natural. 

green bean cooking, world famous green beans

Snap the ends off your beans and snap them into bite sized pieces to start the recipe.

Then toss them in some salted water and boil until they are tender. Use as little water as possible so most of it will soak back up into the beans. You keep more nutrients if you pour less water down the drain. If you do have water to drain off of them, save it in a container in the freezer and put it in your next soup or sauce. Then you still save the nutrients. Click here to see more ways to stop wasting your food.

 

World Famous Green Beans
Mouthwateringly delicious preparation of fresh green beans with real food ingredients.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound of green beans with ends removed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  2. 1 slice of bacon
  3. ½ tsp. salt
  4. ¼ tsp. pepper
  5. 1 tsp. dried dill
  6. ½ cup raw seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin or sesame.
Instructions
  1. Put green beans in a saucepan with water and salt and bring to a boil.
  2. Cook until beans are fork tender.
  3. Drain.
  4. While beans are cooking, cut a piece of bacon into small pieces or lardons.
  5. Cook until done and drain on a paper towel.
  6. With the fat still in the pan, toss in a handful of sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, or pumpkin seeds.
  7. Cook and stir them until they are lightly browned and you smell the oils in them. Watch them closely, they can burn easily.
  8. Toss in your green beans, pepper, dill, and the bacon and stir to mix ingredients.
Little Sprouts Learning http://littlesproutslearning.co/
Green bean production, growing, using, and storingThis is a comfort food for us, check out this post about my friend’s favorite comfort food! 

My Favorite Local Comfort Food
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World Famous Green Bean Recipe

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