Strawberry Cucumber Salad Cups

Friday, April 18, 2014


Considering how incredibly pregnant I am feeling right now, my contribution to Easter Brunch this weekend is going to be small. It will, however be delicious! 

This Strawberry Cucumber Salad tastes like spring and the promise of summer all at once. With the blended flavors of fresh basil and lemon juice, sweet strawberries, and crunchy cucumbers, this salad is a fresh, juicy winner! 

My funny little girls are convinced that everything is better when it's tiny. It doesn't matter if it is a tiny grasshopper, a tiny rock, or a tiny blueberry, anything noticeably small will elicit a high pitched "awwww, it's soooo cuuute" from all three of my girls. So we could serve this yummy strawberry salad in a big bowl, but we decided to work the cute factor and serve it in simple, homemade won ton cups.  

Awwww, aren't they cute? 

No, but really. They are cute, right? I think serving them in small portions like this makes them feel a little more festive, whether we're dishing them up for our holiday brunch or as a healthy after school snack. 


Strawberry Cucumber Salad Cups

Ingredients

1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and diced
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly sliced
1 English cucumber, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
24 (2 inch) won ton wrappers

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine the first four ingredients and refrigerate for 1 hour. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 24 cup mini muffin tin. Place the wonton wrappers carefully into each cup of the muffin tin, shaping them gently into cups. Be sure to press back the edges and leave an opening for the filling. Bake for approximately 10 to 12 minutes, or until crispy and lightly golden. Cool and set aside. 

Combine the remaining ingredients and toss gently with the strawberry mixture. Place a heaping spoonful of the salad into each won ton cup. Serve immediately. 

Note: The won ton cups maintain their crispiness for quite a while, even with the salad mixture. However, you do not want to place the salad in the cups too far in advance of serving them. 

Adapted from Cooking Light

Lemon Chocolate Rice Krispies Treats for Easter

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Admittedly, sometimes letting the kids into the kitchen feels like a whole lot of trouble. It's always messier and with six extra hands, mistakes and mishaps are almost guaranteed. But spills and sticky fingers aside, I really love cooking with my girls. 

These Lemon Chocolate Rice Krispies Treats are so simple they barely qualify as "cooking," but they were a great project for the kids because they could really do it all by themselves - with me hovering and grinning at their enthusiasm of course. 



It was fun to do something a little out of the ordinary and make a sweet, delicious treat for the holidays together. The kids really enjoyed getting to be in charge of the whole project and they gave the whole experience a 10 out of 10!






Though I do believe that even the greenest vegetables taste better to kids when they have participated in the preparation process, it helped this time, of course, that in the end we had a platter of fun Easter treats to taste and share! 

My girls were very impressed with how pretty they turned out and it took a bit of convincing, on my part, to keep them from "decorating" every room in the house with their sticky Rice Krispies Egg Nests. Although once they realized they could eat them, well, that was that! 


Lemon Chocolate Rice Krispies Treats

Ingredients

3 tablespoons butter
1 (10oz) package jet puffed Marshmellows
6 cups Rice Krispies Cereal
6 drops lemon essential oil or 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1 cup chocolate pieces (we used Easter M&M's) 
Candy Sprinkles, optional

Directions

In a microwave safe bowl heat butter and marshmellows on high for 3 minutes, stirring halfway through. Add lemon essential oil and stir until smooth. Add Rice Krispies and Sprinkles and stir until well coated. 

To make normal Rice Krispies bars, stir in the chocolate and using a buttered spatula, press the mixture evenly into a greased 9x13 pan. Cool and serve. 

To make the egg nests that we made, use an egg mold or use a 1/3 cup measuring cup coated with cooking spray and divide the warm cereal mixture into even portions. Using buttered hands, shape each portion into an egg, pressing an indentation with your thumbs into the center. When they have cooled, place the chocolate pieces into the indentation. 



Gather your family into the kitchen for some holiday fun too! For more simple, kid friendly treat ideas check out the Rice Krispies Pinterest page.  

Also, visit Rice Krispies, make one of the fun and yummy recipes you find and then share it to enter the Rice Krispies Treat Making Contest and win special family prizes. You can also share your creations on facebook, twitter, and instagram with the #easytomake hash tag. Have some fun with it! 

I received supplies for this recipe and compensation for my time. All opinions are entirely my own and always will be. 

Muffin Tin Meatloaf: Freezer Friendly Meal

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Some wise soul told me recently that this baby I am unexpectedly expecting will bless my life and my girls' lives in ways I can't even yet imagine. I hold this thought close a lot lately as the weeks approaching the baby's impending arrival dwindle to just days.

I am going to be a single parent to four kids. I can't say I am actually ready for this, but I am as ready as I'll ever be. Most of the time I'm just grateful to be here and hopeful about all those unexpected blessings. Most of the time.


When I'm not - when I find myself spiraling into panic and worry - I find that making a lot of Muffin Tin Meat Loaf helps. It helps because as I'm popping the delicious meaty muffins into freezer bags, I feel like I've done something, albeit small, to forestall the fear. 

Sometimes, in my darker moments, I imagine we are hurtling towards the launch of an atomic bomb in our lives (not the baby, just the overall situation. you know?). And when I think about the days/years of fallout ahead, well, it helps to know that at least we'll have dinner in the freezer. I can do dinner. 


My kids love meatloaf so this recipe wins extra cheer points. We don't eat much beef around here, but I couldn't pass up the chance to put an extra smile on my kids' faces. 

And here's the real reason why I'm very fond of this mini meatloaf recipe: it's really easy. It's easy the first time around because you can have these in and out of the oven in under an hour. It's a no brainer the second time around because you can have them reheated from the freezer in just minutes. They also work well in the lunchboxes, so that's three birds with one muffin tin. 


The truth is, I love being a mom. Really, I do. More than anything. I get frustrated and tired and worried and all that other inevitable stuff that comes with parenting, but at the end of every single day, I remember that being here with these kids is exactly where I want to be. Every night, without fail, we jump into our marathon bed time routine. Everyone piles into my bed and we read, scriptures and picture books and chapter books. We cuddle, and sometimes argue about who gets which pillow and her feet are touching mine and she keeps looking at me funny. And then there is always the moment of peace. The moment when their heads are on my shoulders and they're grinning about Molly Moon's latest escapade and they are sleepy and sweet and we are all together and it's perfect. 

I didn't ever want to be a single mother. I really didn't ever want to be a single mother twice over. But here we are and even in the middle of the mess, we have these perfect moments. We can do this. 


Muffin Tin Meatloaf: Freezer Friendly Meal

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 or 3 carrots, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup ketchup, plus more for topping
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 cup finely crushed bread crumbs 
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease each cup of a standard 12 cup muffin tin and set aside

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, oregano, garlic and saute for 3 to 5 minutes. Cool mixture slightly. 

In a large bowl, combine onion mixture and all of the remaining ingredients. Use your hands to thoroughly combine the mixture. 

Spoon the meat mixture into the prepared muffin cups. Top each with ketchup and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a thermometer  registers at least 160 degrees. Let stand for 5 minutes before removing muffins from tin. 

Slow Cooker Enchilada Cornbread Casserole

Monday, April 7, 2014


Where I grew up, almost every major life event (births, deaths, and other such calamities) was acknowledged with casserole. They were mostly the canned soup, potato heavy, cheese topped variety, but casseroles all the same. 

As an adolescent, gathered with family after a funeral, I remember questioning the purpose of all the casseroles piled up on the counter. More soupy vegetables than could reasonably be eaten and, to my mind, a rather feeble response to a death in the family. At the time, my young mind hadn't yet realized that when words aren't quite enough, food can fill in the gaps. 

Whether it's a chocolate studded birthday cake that makes "Happy Birthday" feel a little more special or the corn flake topped potato casserole that gives heart to "I'm so sorry for your loss," it's the food, so much more than the words, that convey how we really feel. 

I knew this was true a few months ago when I confided to two friends just how rough things had been around here. There wasn't much they could say and really nothing they could do, and I understood. But the next day there were loaves of homemade bread and jars of homemade jam on my front porch. The bread and jam said everything that words couldn't. That's the way with food sometimes. 


A week ago I found out this humble blog of mine was nominated for the Saveur Award for Best Family Cooking Blog. It is incredibly exciting and enormously surprising. It is surely satisfying enough just to have been nominated and to have been noticed by any of you readers out there is deeply gratifying and validating in ways I can't really explain. 

I want to say thank you to everyone who stops by this corner of the web and supports my efforts here. It means so much to me and my kids, yet I find that there aren't really words that adequately convey how I feel. So, I bring you casserole. From my virtual door to yours. 

This Slow Cooker Enchilada Cornbread Casserole is the best casserole recipe I've got. It's a one pot, vegetarian wonder dish that I've been making on a regular basis for the last 6 years. There's no canned soup, but there is cheese on top so I think it fits the old-world casserole criteria, but I've added quinoa for my modern twist. 

This Casserole, my best effort at a virtual thank you, is a really good family meal you can count on. Thank you so much for being here with me . . . and I'll let the casserole fill in the rest. 



(If you want to vote for Some the Wiser in the Saveur Best Food Blog Awards, go here. Voting ends in 2 more days!) 

Slow Cooker Enchilada Cornbread Casserole

Ingredients

1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 medium red bell pepper, cored and diced
1 (15oz) can corn
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained
1 (15oz) can enchilada sauce
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 (8 1/2 oz) package corn muffin mix (I normally make my own and use this recipe
1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican or Cheddar cheese blend 
sour cream
cilantro
green onions

Directions

Place the first 9 ingredients into a 3 1/2 quart electric slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on LOW for 4 hours. 

Using the egg, milk and muffin mix, mix up the cornbread according to package instructions (or use this recipe if you made your own mix). Spoon batter evenly over the bean mixture in slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 1 hour or until corn bread is done.  Sprinkle with cheese, and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese melts. Top each serving with sour cream, cilantro, and green onions.  Serves 4 to 6.  

P.S. I normally double this recipe and use a larger slow cooker - it tastes just as good for lunch on day 2! 

Green Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

This Green Peanut Butter and Jelly Smoothie is one of the best kid friendly recipes I have right now. Though it mostly tastes like an ooey gooey peanut butter and sweet jelly sandwich so the kids really love it, it is also packed full of Iron and Protein and Vitamins so I really love serving it up for them. 

It's warming up here, which means the kids are ready to get moving! This smoothie is just the ticket when we need something quick, healthy, and filling before we head off to: 

Build Forts with friends. 

Play in the mud. 

Take a run by the river. 

And make a few new friends along the way. 

Plus, this kid friendly green smoothie is pretty much the only way I'm ever going to get my kids to swallow handfuls of raw spinach. Admittedly, I feel the glory of a huge super-mom-victory every time they finish a cup of this power packed smoothie. It's a small thing, yes, but I'll take the victories wherever I can! 


Green Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie

Ingredients

1 cup milk (rice, soy, almond, etc.)
2 bananas
3 tablespoons raw peanut butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 or 3 large handfuls of baby spinach
2 cups frozen strawberries

Directions

Combine all of the ingredients in the order listed in a high powered blender. Blend until smooth. Makes 4 servings.

P.S. This humble little blog of mine is a FINALIST in the Saveur Best Food Blog Awards. It's incredible, and exciting, and so amazing to me! Go check it out and vote for Some the Wiser should you be so inclined. I'll have a little more to say about this soon.
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