Archive of ‘Easy Recipes for The Helpless’ category

Perfect Gift Basket Resources – on a budget!



A gift isn’t is extra special when it’s unique and from the heart…but it’s even better if it is also within your budget. And to accomplish that, all you have to do is make your loved ones a basket yourself! It’s heartfelt, it’s special, and if you do it right, it won’t cost you too much at all.

The special thing about the gift basket is that it is personalized to the person you are giving it to. All you have to do is listen, and you’ll make them the perfect present.

Where do you get the supplies? Surprisingly, thrift stores like Goodwill have a huge selection of baskets for about a dollar a piece that you can use. And a lot of people don’t know this, but thrift stores actually carry a ton of unused, new, originally-packaged items that either stores with a surplus donate, or that people never ever used and donated them because that is simply the easiest thing to do. Just remember to keep in mind your theme when picking items out (I got REALLY carried away last time I went and forgot the logistics of also having my three kids with me to bring back to the car – the Goodwill attendant was very nice to help me carry the awesome brand new items I scored for really cheap). As for the filler and basket bag or shrink wrap, any dollar store should have that for you. Don’t get conned into paying too much at a craft or party supply store!

You could even make your entire super special basket out of one simple trip to the dollar store! Got a candy junkie friend? Just get 15 different candy boxes, and you’re set! Got someone who needs to relax? Go to the bath and body section and pick out a bunch of relaxing scented soaps and body washes – file0001509359493 (2)they don’t need to be from the expensive boutique at the mall! Movie junkie? Just get them a double feature DVD with popcorn bowls and popcorn, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic movie night theme. The basket is special not because of the price, but because it was truly well-thought out and customized to your beloved receiver. What about a child who is a lover of crafts? Put crayons, construction paper, pipe cleaners, glitter, glue, scissors, and stickers in a basket, and you’ve probably even saved their mother’s life as well by keeping the craft lover busy and happy.

If you have a whole group in mind, obviously Costco is your best bet. You could do an Italian-themed array of baskets by buying their bulk pasta, pasta sauce, parmesan, dried salami, pizzelles, biscotti, olives, seasoned artichokes, you name it. Most of the stuff at Costco is individually wrapped in bulk anyway. You can make a cheese lover very happy by scouting out the cheese section there, or even at any local grocery store. Or, put together a basket full of individually-wrapped healthy snacks for the whole office. Don’t forget about the wine lovers! Partner their favorite bottle with some cheese and crackers, and they are going to have one good night! Organizing a benefit and need to put together baskets? Go to Costco, and you can get some of their high-quality name-brand stuff at a great price.

You see, companies that sell gift baskets as a product either surcharge for the packaging, or they are able to do it at a reasonable price because they can buy bulk. Well, like I already said, you can do that at Costco, or even call in a favor from a friend who maybe works in a business where they are able to get even better bulk pricing for products by a supplier. Either way, the key is to make it personal, and not spend too much on your awesome personalized gift basket if you don’t have to!

Simple Pasta Primavera



We were asked to type up our favorite summer recipes for my son’s kindergarden glass, so I figured I would share it with you all! Hopefully it’ll bring a warm breeze to your heart, as you think of hotter days! ; – )

Simple Pasta Primavera

This recipe is a perfect, quick, meal solution with most of your food groups!

Prep time: About 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • One box of (8 servings) Barilla Penne Pasta
  • One pint of grape tomatoes
  • 8 oz container of mozzarella bites
  • 2 oz of grated fresh basil
  • 8 oz of grilled chicken cubes OR 6 oz of tuna (Optional)
  • 3 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon of salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Bring water to a boil
  2. Add salt to water
  3. Mix in salt
  4. Add pasta box to water and cook 7-9 minutes so it is to “Al Dente” firmness
  5. While pasta is cooking, put olive oil, tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and/or optional protein source of chicken or tuna into large pasta serving bowl.
  6. Once pasta is cooked, drain pasta (DO NOT RINSE).
  7. (Optional step) If you like extra moisture to your pasta, place a clean, small bowl underneath your strainer to catch some of the clean, boiled water. Add about 3 oz of the water to the pasta mixture to add moisture.
  8. Let pasta cool in strainer for about 3 minutes (Not too long, or it will stick).
  9. Place pasta in bowl wit hthe rest of the ingredients and toss!
  10. Voila, you’ve got your quick and simple Pasta Primavera.


A Simple Stuffing Recipe for the Simple Cook


Thanksgiving is back again, and so is the best part of it: the stuffing. At least that’s my opinion! Which is why I have put myself in charge of making it for both my family and my husband’s family. And I intend to make a TON! The thing is, I’m not known for being the best cook.

So who best to consult for a simple stuffing recipe that I could actually manage, than the almighty Martha Stewart. Check out my version of her stuffing recipe, except I changed it around for the really really simple stuffing lovers. For you gluten-free and dairy-free lovers, check out the side note at the bottom of this post to convert this recipe into a gluten free recipe.

Ingredients

  1. Two loaves of Italian bread
  2. 1 Tablespoon of salt
  3. 1 Tablespoon of pepper
  4. 4 Tablespoons of butter
  5. 4 Stocks of celery, diced into small pieces
  6. 2 Garlic cloves
  7. 1 Medium yellow onion, minced
  8. 2 Large Eggs
  9. 14 Ounces of chicken stock



Directions

  1. Cut or break bread into bite-sized pieces. This can also be a fun activity for you to do with your kids. You’ll end up with a giant mess, but at least it’ll keep the mess in the kitchen and is easier when you use s special mixer as the one in this breville stand mixer review.
  2. Then, spread them over a cookie sheet to dry for about 24 hours.
  3. Once the bread pieces are nearly completely dry, put them in the preheated 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, take 4 tablespoons of butter and melt them in a large sauce pan.
  5. Then sautee 4 stocks of celery that I cut into small pieces with the minced garlic.
  6. Once the vegetables are softened, after about 5-7 minutes, thrpw in the breadcrumbs that were crisped to a golden brown, and the eggs.
  7. Mix it all together very well, as you add chicken stock.
  8. When the stuffing is nice and lightly moistened, put the stuffing in a buttered, square casserole dish, cover it with aluminum foil, and put it in the oven for ten minutes for just the perfect texture.
  9. Then, after you take it out of the oven, let it sit for about ten minutes, and then have at it!
  10. Check out the picture of the stuffing I made last year, taken with a camera phone

stuffing

Side Note!

If you are dealing with a Celiac family member (A person who has an intolerance to wheat and dairy products) such as myself, you can cut the recipe in half and substitute the regular bread for gluten-free bread (The most economic and delicious options can be found at Whole Foods). Also, substitute the butter for Smart Balance Omega buttery spread. And don’t forget to look at the ingredients in your chicken stock, as that can contain gluten as well.

Kid Friendly Recipes – easy tips to sneaking fruits and veggies into your kids’ tummies


vegetablesAt times it can seem like kids are programmed to automatically hate fruits and veggies, and love things like candy and cookies. But there’s ways for you to change that. Here’s 10 easy tips for kid friendly recipes with fruits and vegetables. And trust me, they actually work. Take it from the mommy of a toddler that usually craves cookies and candy. I’ve been able to follow the tips below to get him to demand the good stuff instead!


  1. Get rid of the junk – Seems like a no-brainer, but it’s actually harder for moms to do. It’s easy for us to buy things like cookies and potato chips if that’s what we crave. If you stop buying junk food and start buying things like craisins, apples, and mini carrots, your kids will have no choice but to eat them. And for moms-to-be, if you stop having the junk food around now, your kids won’t be introduced to it, therefore won’t crave it. But if you really have a sweet tooth like me, just hide your stash away from tiny prying hands!
  2. Add cheese – This used to be a technique of mine before I started to suspect that my toddler was lactose intolerant. I would top broccoli with lots of Parmesan cheese and mix it. He would see me mix it, and would end up eating pieces of the broccoli to get to the cheese.
  3. Veggies First – Don’t present them a plate with the chicken fingers and side vegetables  next to them. Serve them a small plate of veggies first, that way they think that’s their meal, and they’ll eat it rather than going for the chicken first and then demanding more chicken rather than eating their vegetables.
  4. Peanut Butter and Caramel Galore –Serve things like celery, carrots, apples with a side of natural peanut butter or hydrogenated-free  caramel. Show them how to dip the vegetables and then bit off the dipped part. They’ll love it.
  5. Special Sauce – Make some steamed vegetables, and then pure’ them into a food processor. Add your favorite spaghetti sauce, and mix that all together. Use that as your spaghetti sauce, and your kids will never know the difference!





  6. Apple Crisp – My husband sneaks apples into my toddler by baking them into an apple crisp. The Food Network’s web site is full of great recipes.
  7. Smoothies – My toddler and now even my baby girl love love love smoothies. I have a couple great recipes in one of my blog entries. And the great thing is, you’ll love them too!
  8. Local Farmer’s Market – My local farmer’s market has fruit and veggie picking events from their own fields. Call your local market to see if they’ll let you do that. That way, your child makes an activity out of it. They’ll pick their own fruit and be proud of it, so it’ll be fun for them to eat it, too.
  9. For the Love of Ice Cream – Your kids love ice cream, but you don’t like the fat. A healthier alternative to it is making gelato. Here’s some great recipes. And it is absolutely delicious.
  10. Layer it up – My toddler loves yogurt. I let him watch while I layer strawberries and berries with his favorite yogurt. I put the fruit on top, so he has to dig through it to get to the yogurt. Using a clear glass helps too, because your child can see through it and it’s kind of a cool visual for them to see what their spoon is doing as they mix things up.
  11. Sneak veggies into a frittata – Beat some eggs in a bowl – about two eggs per person. Then, in an oven-safe non-stick pan, fry up some veggies – broccoli, onions, mushrooms, spinach, etc. Once the veggies are done, pour the eggs onto the frying pan on top of the veggies. Put it in the oven at 350 for about 10 mins. Once it’s done and out of the over, sprinkle on some cheddar cheese. Voila, you have a delicious frittata, and if your kids like eggs and cheese, they’ll never notice the difference!

I’ve used all these tips, and they have worked successfully to make  fruits and veggies kid friendly, but always remember the number one tip. Get that junk out of your house, and stock your pantry with fruits and veggies! But to stay sane, feel free to have a secret box of cookies stashed in your closet! ; – )

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