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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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.
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.
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.
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.
Don’t forget to pin for later:
First step, cut the pumpkin in half.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s our recipe for pumpkin cookies.
They are soft and fat and super yummy. Enjoy.
- 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
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and raw sugar.
Add pumpkin, egg, and 2 teaspoons vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy.
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.
Mix into wet ingredients.
Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven.
To Make Glaze: Combine confectioners' sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Drizzle over cooled cookies with a fork.
Adapted from Gina on AllRecipes.com
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.
I have searched and searched for a great mac and cheese recipe for years and I have finally figured it out! 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.
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.
Do you know how many chemicals are in hot pockets? You’d be amazed at how unhealthy they are. They 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.
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 me to cook this green bean recipe 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.