The 2014 Confident Mom Weekly Household Planner

Affordable Dairy-Free Holiday Treats to Share

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Affordable Diary-Free Holiday Treats to Share

Guest Post By Susan Yoo-Lee

We’re getting closer to fall, which means the holidays are just around corner. The first things that come to mind when I think of the holidays are presents and sweet treats. There’s really something to be said about grandma’s apple pie and mama’s pumpkin loaf bread. What’s better than sitting in front of the fireplace and drinking apple cider as you enjoy spicy aromas wafting from the kitchen?

While I love being on the receiving end of these wonderful treats, I’m also allergic to dairy. Over the years, I’ve tried testing a few dairy-free recipes to share with my family and friends. And because dairy prices are at a record high, it’s actually more affordable than many traditional recipes.

I’ve collected three of my favorite, tried-and-true dairy-free recipes to share with you. Not only do they each take less than five minutes to make, but you can give these as gifts for less than $5 apiece!

1. Gingerbread Cake Mix in a Jar (By Vegan Richa). Who doesn’t have fond memories of making a gingerbread house during the holiday season? If you want to give that special someone in your life a very thoughtful holiday gift, this is it! Not only do you package the gingerbread cake in a jar, but the person who receives the gift can microwave it in the jar or place it in the oven to cook. I think this is by far the cleverest idea and one that I will use and reuse in the coming years.

Gingerbread in a Jar

2. Pretzel Frozen Hot Chocolate (By Minimalist Baker). I love hot chocolate! When I think of the holidays, I think of sitting by the fireplace with a hot chocolate or an apple cider. While one wouldn’t think to have their hot chocolate frozen, it goes along the lines of ice cream tasting better during the winter (it just does!). Everything here is dairy-free, but people claim that it tastes better than any full-fat dairy version.

Pretzel Frozen Hot Chocolate

3. Raw Caramel Apples (By Fork and Beans). Need I say more? When you dream about pumpkin pies and peppermint-infused hot cocoa, you also dream about caramel apples. My kids love it, but usually I can’t join in on the fun. This recipe uses dates in place of the regular caramel sauce, which makes it possible for someone like me to enjoy it. The raw caramel apples also make for a great holiday gift for all ages.

Raw Caramel Apples

I hope you’ll enjoy and share these treats this holiday season. Not only will they make great gifts or treats for holiday parties, but they will keep your pocketbook fat — just in time for the New Year!

Susan Yoo-Lee is a mother of two and the editor at The Scratch, a Savings.com blog where professional funny people take a crack at saving you a buck. She founded Mommas in the House in 2009 when she was pregnant with her 2nd child. Currently, you can see some of her published work on LHJ.com, More.com, WomansDay.com, AJC.com, ClarkHoward.com, US News & World Report, Military.com, LearnVest.com and more.

This post may contain affiliate links. Proceeds from affiliate links go towards the cost of hosting the blog and helps to support our homeschool books, supplies, and classes. Thank you in advance for your support! If you would like to read more about our affiliations please see our Disclosures page.

Becoming a Sports Mom: Meal Planning

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MealPlanningSoftballSeason

It seems I let my friendly neighbor talk me into signing all three girls up for softball.

I’m not sure what I was thinking. We tried soccer once. We’ve tried karate, dance, and tumbling.

We’ve tried, and will return to, swim lessons this summer.

We definitely do the individual sports better than the team ones.

My anxiety over the entire situation has nothing to do with our kids’ abilities or with a concern for their safety.

I don’t want to leave the house that much. I don’t want to go make small talk with other parents that I don’t know.

I’m going to dread every practice. Once I’m there, I’ll appear just find, be friendly, volunteer, and cheer the kids on.  When we get home, I’ll run to my room and hide in my bed. I will need to be alone for a bit – to recover from being social.

Moms with kids in sports, or really any extracurricular activities that eat up most of your week, have to learn to plan ahead and be prepared. Cooking time is limited, dinner is often late, and boy oh boy are those kids hungry.

Last Friday, my anxiety got the better of me. The practice schedule had been announced. It wasn’t a shock, I knew full well what to expect. The schedule made it real, and the reality of it all sent me into a panic.

Saturday morning, I woke up and decided that the only thing I could control right now was planning food. I could make a plan for what to eat and when to eat, and I could prep it early. Every little bit of healthy shortcut is good right? I really didn’t want to eat Chik-fil-A  four days a week.

I thought it might be fun to share some of the recipes I picked out. Most are from Taste of Home Cooking School Cookbook , my Pioneer Woman Cookbook, All Recipes.com or random recipe cards I found flying around my recipe bucket.

This week’s menu:

Monday: Pot Roast, Butterbeans, Mashed Potatoes, Peas and Biscuits

Tuesday: Cheesy Chicken and Rice, (leftover butterbeans and peas)

Wednesday: Spaghetti – night of our first practice

Thursday: Meatloaf, Corn on the Cob, Potatoes

Friday: BBQ Chicken (crock pot), leftover meatloaf for the kids, maybe homemade mac and cheese.  **

Saturday: Bacon Brussel Sprout Quesadillas and (leftover) BBQ Chicken Quesadillas {kids will eat pizza tacos}

Sunday: Big Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Butter Onion Soup {tomato soup for the kids}

** My homemade mac and cheese is a no bake kind. I whip it up in a pot just like you would a box of mac and cheese, only with real stuff. Also, before you think I’m snooty about boxed mac and cheese – we eat the boxed stuff at lunch.

Other Meals I Prepped

Homemade Pizzas

Pie Crusts for Pot Pies etc.

Tortilla Soup (Pioneer Woman pg. 77)

Meatballs (the kind you put chili sauce and grape jelly on and take to parties!)

White Chili (Taste of Home Cooking School Cookbook pg 92)

Creamy Garlic Noodles (THC, pg 217)

Breakfast Casserole

Cowboy Quiche (PW)

Challenges

We have a few challenges around meals. I shouldn’t even complain since we have no allergies or intolerances (that we know of). I also hesitate to even talk about them, for fear I’ll be met with “if you hadn’t babied them as babies they would eat what you fix them” or “just feed them what you make, if they don’t like it they can be hungry”. Both are true. The latter is how I was raised. I can remember being bummed upon arriving at the table to find mom had made that awful pork chop and noodle thing. I would spend half of dinner picking out those tiny tasteless mushrooms.

Here’s the deal folks. I promised to be honest and real. So here it is:

Kid #1 doesn’t eat bread unless it’s cinnamon toast and even that is just a recent addition to her diet. She won’t even eat crackers – just the topping. That eliminates the options for sandwich night. Yes, Sunday is grilled cheese night. I *might* be able to get her to eat the inner parts, if I cut off the crust, make it super cheesy, and it doesn’t get too brown. I have mini soft tortillas so she and her sister can have “cheesy roll ups” instead. Trying something new is almost impossible, even though when she does try it she usually likes it. She could eat a field full of cherry tomatoes and goes through pickles by the jar.  Her big issue is that food can not touch. Not even the juice. Even a little. Sometimes, we need separate utensils.

Kid #2 recently decided she did NOT like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and would be happy to live on fresh hot bread alone. Trying something new is usually only attempted on Try It Tuesday and it takes several tries before she’ll admit she kind of liked it. She is the most likely to give something new a chance, but we are short on time, practices start tomorrow. She is like her momma and would happily eat rice and peas (mixed) or mac n cheese with corn (mixed) every day for every meal.

Kid #3 doesn’t eat. Well, she eats Goldfish Crackers and pickles (half a spear). Cheetos. Chocolate Chip cookies (if they are soft). Brownies , but only the Little Debbie kind. Pasta Roni, parmesan angel hair and spaghetti. Some times. Some times she’ll eat it and some times it’s the most awful thing I’ve ever tried to feed her. She won’t eat Jello or meat or veggies. Once in a while she will eat a banana. She tried an apple last week. Yogurt is a no go. So is ice cream. I wish it were a texture, or a smell, or a color but there is no rhyme or reason to it. She doesn’t get to eat junk all day either. She just doesn’t eat. Yet, she is still growing and to be having such a lax Kindergarten year she is already doing math ahead of what her sisters were doing at that age. Doctor isn’t complaining, so I’m not worried. Yet.

Kid #4 used to eat everything. He’s a bit pickier now. He’s also perfectly content to just not eat if he doesn’t like what’s being served as long as you don’t make him hang around watching everyone else eat. He has way too many things to be doing to just sit and watch people eat. There are bad guys to fight and superheroes to imitate.

The Mr. lifts weights. He needs protein. Lots of protein. He would eat almost anything, at least once. He’ll eat it twice if you follow it up with a pie or cobbler.

 

So tell me mommas, what’s your favorite freezer meal? What’s your favorite grown up meal turned kid friendly meal? What’s your favorite trick to get kids to eat? Do you have a kid that just won’t eat?

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Throw Together Thursday Dinners

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Throw Together Thursday Dinners

By Thursday, I’m pooped. We aren’t even a super busy family, but I get emotionally drained quickly. Even if I meal plan, come Thursday I would trade a limb to not have to cook for a few days.

I’ve started noticing that Thursdays have become “whatever mom can throw together” days. Last night, it actually pulled together pretty well.

It involved bacon.

I think I’ll keep bacon in the fridge because anything you throw together is going to taste good if it is served with bacon. I’m convinced of this.

I have no picture for you, because honestly, it looked horrible. It tasted delish.

I’m going to start calling them my Throw Together Thursday Dinners. 

Bacon Onion Cabbage Fry, with Roasted Butternut Squash Disks

1 pound bacon

1 cabbage

1 onion (mine was a red cherry onion I had sliced and frozen over the summer)

1 butternut squash

random Kroger brand “Mrs. Dash” stuff

salt and pepper

butter

 

First I opened the pack of bacon, and without taking the strips apart, cut them into 1 1/2″ chunks. Then I tossed them into my hot cast iron skillet, no oil. While that fried up, I broke the pieces apart and worked on cutting the squash. I used the neck part, cut off the rind (is that what it’s called?) and then sliced it into disks about 1/4-1/2″ thick. I laid them out on a cookie sheet, no oil, and sprinkled with the fake Mrs. Dash stuff (mostly because I was too lazy to dig in the cabinet). Put them in the oven on 350*.

Next, I drained out the grease (the bacon was only about half done) and added the onions. I chopped the cabbage into small strips and tossed it in the skillet. Since my cast iron skillet has no lid, I placed a piece of aluminum foil over the top (pushed down around the edges so the steam would drip back into the pan), and let it sit for a bit.

In between stirring the skillet, I made the kids some dinner. Even though they LOVE bacon, they do not love it mixed in with onions and cabbage.

Somewhere in there, I added a little splash of water and covered it up again, hoping to speed up the cabbage cooking process. I didn’t want it too crunchy. When the water was gone, I dropped in some butter. I don’t know how much. Probably a lot. I like butter.

When the bacon looked done, and it smelled so good I couldn’t stand it I turned the burner off.

My bowl consisted of a couple of slices of butternut squash on the bottom, a dollop of butter and some salt and pepper, with a huge pile of cabbage/onion/bacon on top.

It was so yummy. I may have hidden the leftovers in the fridge so the Mr. wouldn’t take them to work.

Have you ever made a “Throw Together” Dinner?

This post may contain affiliate links. Proceeds from affiliate links go towards the cost of hosting the blog and helps to support our homeschool books, supplies, and classes. Thank you in advance for your support! If you would like to read more about our affiliations please see our Disclosures page.

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