Surely I'm not the only person who sneaks vegetables into their children's meals without telling them. My kids are 16 and 19 - and yes, I'm still trying to get them to eat more vegetables. (Sometimes it's just easier to do it without them even knowing it.)
The obvious vegetable in this macaroni and cheese recipe is broccoli of course. The bright green vegetable in amongst the cheesy pasta and sauce is really just a decoy. My family figured they could eat a token broccoli floret and pick out the rest while going unnoticed. Truth is I noticed but what they didn't know is that they were still eating a vegetable - even without the broccoli.
This mac and cheese is made with squash to give it that nice cheesy flavor and texture while boosting its nutritional value. Adding squash is a great way to sneak in an extra serving of veggies into my family's mac and cheese. (And they thought they were being sneaky by picking out the broccoli.)
Broccoli Bacon Macaroni and Cheese
2 slices bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup 1% lowfat milk
10 ounce package frozen squash, thawed
10 ounces shell macaroni
3 cups broccoli florets
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
5 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
Stir in broccoli, cover and simmer 3 minutes longer.
Stir in salt, pepper and cheese.
I promise not to tell your family that this yummy dinner is loaded with double vegetables. Your secrets safe with me. Enjoy.
It may only be August, but my family is settling back into the school routine already. I use that term "routine" loosely. We do set our alarms for consistently early morning wake up calls but our afternoons are far less predictable. Our afternoon hours get quickly eaten up with homework demands, soccer practices and after school meetings.
In an ideal world, we would all sit down to dinner together every night at 6:00. In reality, we only get to have family dinners together three or four times a week. I feel like most days, I'm rushing around just to get something on the table quickly before someone has to run out the door.
This cedar planked salmon is a great meal to make when I need to get something on the table FAST. I don't have to worry about compromising quality for quickness when I make this dinner either. It's as healthy as it is quick - and it's delicious!
Soak cedar planks for at least 1 hour.
Cedar Planked Salmon
2 salmon filets (I used sockeye salmon)
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon pepper
The aroma of the cedar roasting on the grill was intoxicating. The fresh cedar smell penetrates the salmon and leaves it with the most delicious flavor.
I just want to go on record as saying that I love raising teenagers. Some of you may be surprised by that statement and I have to admit that I shocked myself with just how much I LOVE having teenagers. It's not that I every questioned whether I would love my kids as teenagers but I had visions of the teenage years as something that we had to "get through" as parents and not necessarily something to be enjoyed. I could not have been more wrong.
I have an Early Childhood degree - my specialty is babies, toddlers, preschoolers and elementary school aged kids. I was trained to care for them, educate them and I felt comfortable in my role as a mother of young children. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't always idyllic when my kids were little. We had our share of sibling rivalry in our house, conversations about room cleanliness and why we shouldn't catch bees in plastic bags but I felt confident in my role as a parent of two small children.
Then my kids started middle school which launched me into completely unknown parenting territory. The only thing that I had to draw from was my own personal experience of middle school. I was so stressed out when I started middle school that I called my mom from the school every day for at least a month and she drove down to the school to have lunch with me EVERY DAY. (Just in case I never told you so - thanks for that mom.) Since this was the only experience that I had to draw from, I was fairly certain that it would be a less than smooth transition into middle school for my own kids as well. Turns out, they are much more well adjusted than their mother and they did just fine.
Just when I got used to parenting middle schoolers, my kids started high school. I was surprised with just how much I enjoyed this stage of their lives. Watching my children become strong, independent, courageous leaders in their school was inspiring. As high school students they were becoming the beautiful, smart people that God intended them to be. Walking alongside them as they made decisions about college and careers made me realize just how wonderful they really are.
Now I find myself again walking into an uncharted stage of parenting with one child in college and another who isn't far behind. I've only been in this stage of parenting for just over a year so I'm still learning how to be a mom to a "child" who lives 400 miles away in his own apartment. I won't try to deny the fact that there weren't a lot of tears shed when he moved out but I find peace in the knowing that he's an extremely happy and independent college student. I may not get to see his smiling face at our dinner table every night but I could not be more proud of him.
I have loved every stage of my kids life - from infants to young adults. So to those parents of young kids who plead with their toddlers "please stop growing", all I can say is; let them grow and embrace it. Treasure every stage of the short 18 years that your children are living in your house and all of the wonderfulness and craziness that goes along with it. Take those long walks in the park, make late night runs to the ice cream store to celebrate winning games, let them stay up way past their bedtime on summer nights and let them eat cheesecake for breakfast when Grandpa comes to visit. Parenting is the hardest job that you will ever face - no matter what age your children are - but it's also the most rewarding.
In a few short months I will be the parent of a 20 year old and I know that will come with a whole new batch of challenges and joys. What I do know is that my college student has found a whole new appreciation for food and that is definitely a language that I can speak. Nothing says "I love you" to a college student better than batch of home made blueberry muffins or cupcakes. I think I'll whip up a batch of these oatmeal chocolate chip cupcakes for him right now.
Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream
1 large egg
3/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and cooled
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup chocolate chips, tossed in a sprinkle of flour
Bake 24 minutes at 350.
Frost with cinnamon buttercream.
To my favorite college students who are starting class today - we love you and we are so proud of you.
Those of you that know my husband at all, know that he is a huge fan of strawberry milkshakes. He is so serious about his milkshakes that he chooses one over ice cream every single time we go to the ice cream store! I guess what they say is true - opposites attract. I would NEVER choose a milkshake (or anything for that matter) over ice cream It's ice cream!!!
Even though I'm not a big fan of milkshakes - I am a big fan of Ben so in honor of my milkshake lovin husband - I created a strawberry milkshake cupcake. Marriage is all about compromise right? This strawberry flavored milkshake cupcake is a win win. All of the yummy milkshake flavor in a non-drinkable cupcake form.
Strawberry Milkshake Cupcakes
Combine milk, eggs and milk powder.
Add dry ingredients to sugar mixture, alternating with wet ingredients.
Scoop into paper lined cupcake pan.
Bake 22 minutes at 350.
Prepare a batch of buttercream and add 2 Tablespoons strawberry milk powder.
Pipe strawberry buttercream onto cupcakes.
I LOVE these cupcakes. In my opinion, they are far better than their milkshake counterparts. They are super scrumptious and won't give you brain freeze if you eat it too fast. :)
Moved Ryan back to college over the weekend and to say that I miss him is the understatement of the year. In the words of my friend Katie "It's going to be a challenge to make healthy food choices today." Sometimes I just have to allow myself to be consoled by a cupcake.
This fluffernutter cupcake is no ordinary cupcake. This peanut butter cupcake with a swirl of marshmallow fluff and a sprinkling of butterscotch chips and topped with creamy peanut butter buttercream is comfort food at it's finest.
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup butterscotch morsels
1/2 cup marshmallow fluff
Add dry ingredients, alternating with milk.
Fold in marshmallow fluff and butterscotch chips.
Scoop batter into paper lined cupcake pans.
Bake 24 minutes at 350.
Frost with peanut butter buttercream.
I may be drowning my sorrows in a fluffernutter cupcake but I find peace in knowing that Ryan is perfectly happy and content in his new apartment at school.
It has been less than 24 hours since we left Ryan at his new apartment and he's already settled in and calling his new place "home." (Not so sure I'm thrilled about that idea but I'll get used to it.)
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