Day & Night Cookies

When Big J was three, I started doing some preschool at home with him, and we started off each day with a Bible story, beginning at the beginning!

One particular day, we were talking about how God created day and night and focused on the colors black and white.

He needed something to keep him occupied and he loved baking with me {still does occasionally}, so we came up with this fun little recipe!

We took my mom’s classic chocolate chip cookie recipe and mixed it up a little to make “Day and Night Cookies.” I threw in a little bit of this and that I found in the cupboard. We were both quite pleased with the yummy results!

Day Night Cookies Oven

The “mix-in” proportions can be changed to suit your tastes – more Heath in my case! Raisins could also make a great “night” option.

Big J had fun finding the black and white pieces as he ate the cookies. And looking back over this recipe, I think I’m ready to pop another batch in the oven!

Day Night Cookies

Day and Night Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup mix-ins – here is my preference:
  • *1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • *1/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • *1/2 cup toffee baking bits (such as Heath)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream sugars and shortening together.

Add eggs and vanilla.

Mix in the rest of the ingredients, adding your preferred mix-ins last.

Drop by spoonful on to a cookie sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes until a light golden brown.

 

What would you throw into your version of “Day and Night Cookies?” 

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Italian Herb Bread {Bread Machine}

I made this Italian Herb Bread a few years ago to kick off Bread Machine Week – a week where I used my bread machine every day! The bread machine had been put away for a while and I decided it needed to be used a little more often! Now we use it all the time!

**For those of you wondering, we have an Oster 2 lb. EXPRESSBAKE Breadmaker that we got as a wedding present 9 1/2 years ago. Never tried anything else, but works great for me!**

This recipe was under the French bread category in my bread machine cookbook. I have since found recipes all over the internet to make in that wonderful machine, but this cookbook was a great start for me!

The bread came out very tasty – nice crust, soft inside and great flavor! I am saving it for our spaghetti dinner on Thursday! I think it would be excellent for sandwiches as well. As I have mentioned before, I now prefer to make the dough in the machine and then bake it in the oven, but this loaf came out great right from the machine so I wouldn’t mind doing that again!

The only change I made to this recipe was omitting the Parmesan cheese since I am not a fan. Let me know if you make it with the cheese!

Italian Herb Bread

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups bread flour
2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp dried onion flakes
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp active dry yeast

Directions
Measure and add liquid ingredients to the bread pan.

Measure and add dry ingredients (except yeast) to the bread pan.

Use your finger to form a well (hole) in the flour where you will pour the yeast. Yeast must NEVER come into contact with a liquid when you are adding ingredients. Measure the yeast and carefully pour into the well.

Snap the baking pan into the breadmaker and close the lid.

Select “French” setting, choose crust color and start!

OR

Bake in a greased loaf pan for 30 minutes at 350 degrees!

*****

I’m linking up with Tasty Tuesday!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Choosing Homemade: Six Foods I’m Making at Home

I feel so blessed to be at home with and for our family at this stage in my life. I know this isn’t possible – or desirable – for everyone and I pray that I don’t take a moment of it for granted.

One of the things I really enjoy doing with my time at home is making homemade foods for my family. I do NOT make everything from scratch, but if it can save us some money and make something a little healthier for us, I like to give it a try!

I think time is very valuable as well, so I don’t make things from scratch that will take up too much precious time with my family. And I like to choose things I enjoy making – for obvious reasons!

I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite foods that we make at home now instead of buying from the store! These are all recipes I make on a regular basis – they are tried and true!

One side note: Whenever I make a bread machine recipe, I mix the dough in the machine on the dough setting and then bake the dough in the oven. I like the shape of the loaf better than when it is baked in the machine! Just personal preference!

1. Blender Salsa

 

2. French Bread

 

3. Honey Whole-Wheat Bread

 

4. Granola

 

5. Pizza Dough

 

6. Taco Seasoning

 

 

What foods do you enjoy making from scratch?

 

I’m linking up to Tasty Tuesday today! Check out all the yummy recipes posted over there!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Texas Caviar

Texas Caviar just screams summer to me, so I thought I better post this recipe before summer ends!

Just so you know, I have always strongly disliked beans and peas of any kind – except plain old green beans. So I was a little skeptical about trying this dip, but when I did the Daniel Fast {only fruits, veggies, & grains} a couple of years ago, I needed to find a way to get more protein without meat or dairy!

I was SO pleasantly surprised. This recipe was easy, yummy, and filling – what more could you want?!

I also love how colorful it is – it looks beautiful in a glass bowl in the middle of a spread for entertaining!

There are a lot of variations out there, but this is the Texas Caviar I enjoyed and I hope you do, too!

Texas Caviar

Ingredients
1 can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 can whole-kernel corn, drained
1 can Rotel, Mexican style
3 ribs celery, chopped
Cayenne pepper and black pepper, to taste

Directions
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour to combine the flavors. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.

That’s it! I told you it was easy!

Have you ever made a variation of Texas Caviar? I would love to know what goes in your recipe!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Back-to-School Breakfast Tradition: Chocolate Chip Scones

Yesterday was our first day of school and the first words out of Big J’s mouth as he came down the stairs were:

“Can we have chocolate chip scones?! It IS the first day of school!”

I guess I began a tradition when I made these scones for the first day of school last year. And I don’t blame him for wanting them again because they are DELICIOUS!

I found the basic recipe on AllRecipes, but it needed some changes to help the consistency and texture! I experimented a few times and now they are absolutely wonderful! Give them a try for a special breakfast at your house!

Chocolate Chip Scones

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 8 tablespoons orange juice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With a pastry blender or a large fork, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chips. Mix in the orange juice to form a dough.
  3. Turn the dough on to a floured surface. Pat or roll into a 9 inch circle about 1/2 inch thick. Cut “pizza-style” into 12 triangles. Transfer the scones to the baking sheet.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven until golden brown, approximately 12 minutes. Move to wire racks to cool.

Notes: I have also made these using only all-purpose flour, and next time I will try with just white whole wheat flour! I forgot to spray my pan this time and the scones were just fine – probably depends on the pan!

What are your favorite special breakfast menu items?

*****

I’m linking up to Tasty Tuesday over at Beauty and Bedlam!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Meatloaf Muffins

I’m migrating some recipes over to this site from the cooking site I started way back when, so you can look forward to some yummy foods popping up over here!

I love this recipe because it is EASY and versatile. I also like the idea of meatloaf muffins because I am a big fan of the crunchy outside of meatloaf and with these muffins, you get lots of crunch!

My favorite is the Mexcian variety with no cheese of course – it’s kind of like taco meatloaf and I LOVE my tacos! The Hubby would prefer the Italian version with LOTS of mozzarella and dipped in marinara. The boys also like the Italian version, which we nicknamed “pizza meatloaf muffins!”

I made a batch of Mexican and a batch of Italian last night for dinner and stuck the leftovers in the freezer to have on hand for a quick lunch!

Any other variation ideas? Let me know!

Meatloaf Muffins

Ingredients
For all varitations you’ll need the following…
1 lb. extra-lean ground beef
1 pkg. (6 oz.) STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix
1 cup water

Then you can mix & match your recipe from these options…

Italian
Seasoning – 1 tsp Italian seasoning
Add-in – spaghetti sauce (I used pizza sauce)
Cheese possibilities – shredded mozzarella

Mexican
Seasoning – 2 tsp chili powder
Add-in – salsa or taco sauce
Cheese possibilities – Mexican style

Mediterranean
Seasoning – 1 tsp dried oregano
Add-in – chopped roasted red peppers
Cheese possibilities – crumbled feta

American
Seasoning – 1 tsp garlic powder
Add-in – barbecue sauce
Cheese possibilities – shredded cheddar

Directions
Heat oven to 375°F. Mix meat, stuffing mix, water and seasoning until well blended. Press into 12 muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray.

Make indentation in center of each with back of spoon; fill evenly with 3/4 cup add-ins.

Bake 30 min. or until meatloaves are done (160°F). Top with 3/4 cup cheese evenly spread between muffins; bake 5 min. or until melted. Let stand 10 min.

{Recipe originally from Kraft Foods}

I’m linking up with Tasty Tuesday!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Italian Nachos for Team USA?!

How do you like that recipe title?!

We’ve been having fun with red, white, and blue food since the Fourth of July and, with the Olympics just over a week away, I’ve just been keeping the patriotic food coming!

I took a Mexican favorite, put on Italian toppings, and made the colors support our good old USA! The result was these fun Patriotic Italian Nachos!

Here is what you need:

Ingredients: Tri-color or blue corn tortilla chips, pepperoni, and shredded mozzarella

These nachos could be made for one person on a plate in the microwave or for a group on a baking stone in the oven! Since I don’t eat cheese and the boys aren’t too adventurous, these were just for The Hubby!

On the plate, you will put chips first…

Then cheese…

Pepperoni next…

And more cheese!

Look at that pretty red, white, and blue!

You could stop right there, but The Hubby likes a few more toppings, so I added black olives…

and some turkey Italian sausage and more cheese…

Heat them in the microwave for one minute on high or until the cheese has melted.

If using the oven, heat at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

And there you have it! Serve with warm marinara sauce for dipping!

Whip up a plate or two of these while you watch the Opening Ceremonies this Friday or while you take in some swimming or track or soccer and cheer on Team USA!

I’m linking up to Tasty Tuesday today!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Cookie Crazy

A few weekends ago, we hosted a backyard birthday party for Little J’s 4th birthday. He’s never been a big fan of cake – except for the frosting – so I let him choose what kind of dessert we would have at the party.

He chose cookies – an excellent choice for feeding a crowd with minimal mess!

I made seven dozen cookies with dough leftover to make at least three dozen more. You could say I went a little cookie crazy, but I wanted to have a variety for people to choose from and two of these recipes make a LOT of cookies!

First up, Sprinkle Cookies!

This made the smallest batch – about two dozen cookies, depending on how big you make them! These weren’t the kind Little J requested, but they ended up being his favorite! They basically taste like sugar cookies with sprinkles in them and they are VERY easy to make!

Next up, Oatmeal Craisin Cookies!

I made these as the “healthy” option! They came out a little flatter than I thought they would, but they were delicious! The recipe is for Oatmeal Raisin, but I did craisins and you could do anything – chocolate chips, nuts, etc.! This recipe makes three to four dozen.

Lastly, my favorite – Monster Cookies!

I’ve made this recipe many times because it is SO good! My friend Mindee hit a home run with this recipe! It is extra wonderful because it makes SO much dough AND it is easy to freeze and use later! I did not use the corn syrup in the recipe this time and they were just as good!

For the party, we put a candle in a sprinkle cookie…

Sang to the birthday boy…

And enjoyed some yummy cookies with much less mess than cake!

One happy birthday boy!

Now I want to make lots of cookies, especially my grandma’s chocolate chip cookie recipe! I’ll just send them with The Hubby to share with the other residents so I don’t gain a million pounds eating them all!

What is your favorite cookie recipe?

*****

I’m linking up with Tasty Tuesday and Women Living Well Wednesday!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

WFMW: Wonderful Water

Do you know why water is so important to your body?

We’ve all heard over and over again that we need to drink more water to be healthier and lose weight and so on.

According to the Mayo Clinic, water is even more important to each of us for other reasons…

Water is your body’s principal chemical component and makes up about 60 percent of your body weight. Every system in your body depends on water. For example, water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues.

Lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don’t have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired.

{From the article “Water: How much should you drink every day?”}

With these three boys, I can’t afford to have any less energy than I already do, so I will keep chugging those glasses of water!

I actually enjoy plain water. It has to be REALLY cold, but I have no trouble drinking ice water all day long.

Everyone likes a little variety though, right?!

To mix things up a bit, I found a few flavored water “recipes” on Pinterest and gave them a try!

The first flavored water recipe I tried was this Cucumber Lemon water

 

I wasn’t sure about this one because there was no sugar and I usually like sweet drinks, but the flavor grew on me throughout the day. It does require several fresh ingredients that you will need to keep on hand, but those ingredients also make it look very pretty! This would make a great drink to serve to guests on a hot day!

Since I have a sweet tooth, I went in search of another flavored water with a little more sweetness and I found this…

 

This Apple-Cinnamon Water “recipe” from the blog “Lose Weight by Eating” was satisfying for my sweet tooth without being overpowering. And apples and cinnamon both have lots of great benefits for you, including boosting your metabolism!

Pinterest is full of other flavored water recipes! I’ll probably be trying a few more throughout the summer!

Do you have a flavored water recipe you love? How do you make sure you get enough water in each day?

*****

Check out lots of great tips over at Works for Me Wednesday with We Are That Family!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

What’s Cooking in June!

I’m working on making this blog more about what my every day life is like here at Home with the Boys and eating is a major part of what happens in a house full of boys!

Even though we are all picky eaters, I am already seeing voracious appetites developing in these young men and I’m trying desperately to keep up without losing my mind or our money!

Now that we are in the new house, I can resume some freezer cooking and start making more homemade snacks to fill these guys up!

We are also doing a LOT more grilling because it is summer and the grill is more accessible in our new backyard! So, if a few of these recipes get skipped, it’s because we couldn’t resist the temptation to grill yet again!

This month I’m just listing the dinners we’ll be having, but I hope to add our breakfast and lunch choices next month! {Baby steps to being more intentional and following through!}

Here’s what’s cooking for dinner in the month of June…

{recipes with an * are new to us this month!}

Apple Stuffed Chicken Breasts

*Asian Lettuce Cups

*Bacon Crusted Pork Tenderloin

*Brinner: Breakfast Burritos

Brinner: French Toast

Chicken and *Fried Rice {I think I’ll do grilled chicken with this instead of the chicken in the recipe.}

Chicken Marinara

*Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia

*Grilled Ham & Pineapple Kabobs

Hamburgers

Homemade Pizza

Honey-Glazed Chicken Stir Fry

Kabobs {Maybe even twice this month! Once chicken, once beef?!}

Meatloaf Muffins

*Mediterranean Style Steak

*Slow Cooked Sweet Barbacoa Pork

Spaghetti {with breadsticks, of course!}

Stromboli {from Don’t Panic – Dinner’s in the Freezer – AWESOME freezer cooking recipe book!}

Taco Ring

Turkey Tacos

And on my freezer cooking list for this month…

Apple Snack Cake

Breakfast Burritos {mentioned above – eating some, freezing some}

Freezer-Friendly Pizza Dough

Grilled Chicken {for lunch salads}

Shredded Chicken

Taco Meat

Twice Baked Potatoes

*****

Are you trying any new recipes this month? What are some of your favorite main dishes for summer?

 

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook