Category: Meal times

Halloween Recipe Round up

Halloween is a fun tradition for many families, including my own. My kids are always excited to show off their costumes to our closest neighbors and spend time walking door to door with their friends. But before we head out, I want to make sure their tummies are full and they have enough energy to make it through the neighborhood.

I’ve rounded up some of our quickest and most favorite Halloween dinner ideas. When my kids were just toddlers, these fun recipes were also a fun holiday themed activity and eating our creepy morsels was part of the fun.

MUMMY DOGS from Home Made Interest are super easy and super fun!

Mummy Dogs is an easy Halloween recipe

MUMMY PIZZA from “Cents”able Mama uses store bought ingredients to make this fun dinner fast!

BAKED QUESADILLAS from That Fit Fam are perfect for your little cheese lover! Serve with some carrot sticks or an apple sauce pouch for a quick meal before heading out the door.

Halloween shaped baked quesadillas

SWEET AND SOUR BAT WINGS from Sprinkles and Sprouts. How spooky are these?? Marinate overnight in the fridge and put in the oven in time for your pre-treat dinner.

close up on the wing tip of a black chicken wing on a grey plate

If you have time to make all of these at once you’ll have a variety of fun things to offer the kids before heading out for candy. We usually don’t serve a dessert since we know we are going to eat a bunch of candy as soon as we get home. Happy treating!

What’s your favorite Halloween recipe to make?

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, blogger and freelance writer. She spends most of her time making food her kids won’t eat and fantasizing about how a beach vacation where naps are required. You can find her at The Whatever Mom on Facebook and on Instagram. For more recipe ideas, follow her on Pinterest.

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Prep These Easy French Toast Rolls for the Week Ahead!

My kids have fought me on eating any kind of veggies since their toddlerhood. Now, they are almost ten. These picky eaters dominate our meal time choices, but they aren’t always winning the war. I sneak veggies inside of their favorite foods undetected all the time. For breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have no clue.

I typically meal prep our breakfast for the week ahead on Sunday. I like stuff I can freeze for a quick reheat in the morning. Now that my kids are older, this method makes it easier for them to make their own breakfast. This is a huge time saver for us all!

So… this weekend I made sausage stuffed French toast with some hidden sweet potato in there. I tried to make it two ways, the traditional frying method vs. baking in the oven. Even though making one big batch in the oven at once is convenient, frying the rolls individually made for a better texture. And it hid the miniscule pieces of orange potato better.

Here is what you need:

12 of your favorite sausage links

12 slices of your favorite bread

3 eggs

2 TBSP of sweet potato puree

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp maple syrup

Dash of cinnamon

2-4TBSP coconut oil

Rolling pin

* If you do not have sweet potato puree on hand, you’ll need to start by peeling and dicing a sweet potato and boiling until soft enough to mash before adding to the egg mixture. I made the sweet potato puree while I pre-cooked the sausage links in the oven. You can also use summer squash puree which you can find in the freezer section of your grocery store.*

Once you have your puree and cooked sausage you are ready to begin!

EGG MIXTURE

Crack open 3 eggs and dump into a shallow dish. Add sweet potato, vanilla, maple syrup and cinnamon. Whisk together until well mixed and no large clumps.

ASSEMBLING ROLL UPS

Use the rolling pin to roll flat each slice of bread (I did four at a time because it’s an easier amount to work with and it is faster than just one at a time). Place a fully cooked sausage on one edge of the flattened bread and roll together. Next, dip the stuffed bread roll into the egg mixture and lay seam side down on a plate.

COOKING

I fried in batches of four to make assembling easier and to leave enough room in the pan. Heat 2 TBSP coconut oil in frying pan. Place each roll up seam side down into the pan. Let cook 2-3 minutes before turning. Be sure to cook all sides.

I stored the rolls in a flat layer in a freezer bag for the family to grab what they need and make for their breakfast. This made one dozen rolls which my family gladly enjoyed with a favorite fruit and glass of milk.

What do you think? Would you hide veggies in your kids favorite foods?

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom and freelance writer, also known as The Whatever Mom. She is on a mission to connect struggling moms with little ones with her community to laugh, grow and embrace the messy parts of parenting so that they feel empowered and confident in their mom choices.

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Prep These Easy Chicken Dinners Ahead This Week!

Now that back to school is here and life is a little chaotic with a new schedule to work with, I find meal prepping a giant life saver. I actually get a little excited to see my hard work stacked up neatly in the freezer. Knowing that most of my meal prep work is done takes a lot of stress off of my plate, especially on those crazy days where everything else seems to be going wrong, or I am running behind.

As I was prepping I stopped quickly to take a few pics of what I was making to show you how easy it is to make two different chicken dinners ahead of time to stash in the freezer for later in the week. I made Honey Mustard Chicken to serve with rice pilaf and I made Thai Chicken Soup. One package of chicken split between two different recipes and I was done in minutes.

HONEY MUSTARD CHICKEN

1 lb. chicken breast (I use thighs because it’s usually cheaper and tastier)

1 bottle of your favorite honey mustard dressing or marinade

1 package of French cut green beans

Salt and pepper

1 gallon zip seal freezer bag

Place chicken pieces into bottom of the bag, pour one half of the bottle of honey mustard dressing over the chicken and then dump the frozen veggies on top. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Press all of the air out of the bag before you seal it and stack in the freezer. That’s it for prep!

When you are ready to cook, remove the prepped meal from the freezer and place in the fridge overnight to thaw out. Empty contents into the crock-pot and be sure to arrange with green beans on the bottom and chicken on top. Cook on high for 3-4 hours. *Every crock-pot heats differently. Mine cooks really fast, so I only need 3 hours for this meal.* Serve with rice, pasta or roasted potatoes (you can get prechopped potatoes in the produce section or in the freezer section to save more time).

THAI CHICKEN SOUP

1 lb. chicken breast (thigh definitely is best for this recipe, but either works)

1 jar of salsa

1/4 cup peanut butter

1 lime

1 TBSP soy sauce (or coconut aminos)

1 can coconut milk

1 gallon zip seal freezer bag

*optional serve over cooked rice, or rice noodles.

Place chicken pieces in the bottom of the bag. In a separate bowl add peanut butter, juice of one lime, soy sauce and the jar of salsa. Mix until it is all combined and pour over chicken in the bag. Seal and freeze.

When you are ready to cook, remove from the freezer and leave in the fridge overnight. Put the mixture into the crockpot and allow it to cook on high 3-4 hours. *Crock-pots may vary in cooking times. Mine will cook this meal in 2.5 hours.* The last half an hour of cook time, shred the chicken and add in can of coconut milk. Allow to simmer for remaining 30 minutes. If you chose to serve over rice, you can get those really quick 90 second microwave rice packs that will bring this meal together quick. You can even delegate that small part of dinner to a helper.

That’s it! Two recipes to prep this week that will take you as much time as it takes to read this post. Enjoy! Oh and don’t forget to prep those breakfast smoothies too! If you try any of these feel free to comment below, or stop by The Whatever Mom Facebook page to share, or find me on Insta.

Roxanne Ferber is twin mom and freelance writer doing whatever it takes to find extra sanity in the day.

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Time Saving Meal Prep Ideas

Going back to school this year looks vastly different than any other year. Many of us are working from home, while also teaching our kids at home. We are not sending our kids off on the bus and our back to school traditions may have changed.

At least this time around we are not feeling the last-minute scramble of a complete shutdown, we are starting day one at home. Thankfully, we learned what worked and did not work and we can use that to plan this year.

The one big thing I learned during our shutdown in the spring, is that I am over standing in my kitchen all day making meals on demand. Scrambling to prepare food in between Zoom classes did not work well for me. I spent a lot of time making fresh meals three times a day for picky eaters and it was exhausting. So, to free up that time this year I am ramping up my meal prepping.

Since becoming a mom meal prepping is my go-to sanity saver and number one-time management technique. It does require a one to two-hour time commitment in the kitchen, but the amount of time it saves me from clean up and standing in front of the stove the rest of the week is worth it.

Here are my quick tips for planning and prepping for each meal of the week. Maybe it will help you save some time/sanity around remote learning this Fall.

BREAKFAST

I use the weekends to prep ahead a few different breakfast options that my family can grab and go or warm up for themselves. I wake up an hour before the family on Sunday morning to have the kitchen to myself. You can check out my Pinterest board for ideas, but some of our favorites are breakfast burritos, protein pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, hidden veggie muffins and smoothie blender cups. I make two options for my family to choose from and then I make the blender cups for myself. I have them preloaded and stacked in the freezer to make my mornings easier. My family can reheat their breakfast sandwiches and pancakes on their own or grab a muffin from the fridge.

LUNCH

Each night after dinner, I have the kids pack a lunch just like they did when going to school. And my husband and I pack up our own lunches. This saves me the headache of making two different sandwiches or rummaging around for leftovers to reheat every day. Preparing all of our lunches each night saves enough time for all of us to take our lunch break together, and it encourages my kids to be self sufficient.

DINNER

Before I even go grocery shopping, I make a dinner menu for the week. My meal plan for the week includes a DIY pizza night (or take out) and a leftovers night to give me a night off from cooking. On my grocery shopping day, I like to wash all the produce before putting it away and I prepare as many meals ahead of time that I can. I am especially fond of freezer meals that I can toss together in a freezer bag and dump into the crock pot later. This is a huge time saver and way less mess to clean up during the busy week. I am also a fan of one sheet pan meals to make in the oven. And on really busy nights, I’ll make a charcuterie board that fits everyone’s picky favorites. You can find some of my favorite go to meal pins here.

SNACKS

I discovered my kids will eat through a bag of chips like its an Olympic sport. So, I stopped buying bags of chips that literally disappears within minutes and leaves my kids crabby. I set up bins in the fridge with grab and go options like cheese sticks, baby bell cheeses, yogurt tubes, mini oranges, hummus cups and bags of veggies. Don’t get me wrong, chips are delicious, and I do not judge anyone buying them for their kids. I just know my kids stay fuller longer (and stay less moody) when they eat protein and fruits.

It took me a little while to make these prepping hacks a routine. So, don’t think you have to do all of the above to be efficient. Pick the toughest meal of the day and prep it in advance to help make that time of day run a bit smoother for you.

What’s the toughest meal for you to prepare each day? Mine is breakfast, so I will always prepare breakfast in advance. I like sleep more than I like to cook.

If you have any great meal prep hacks or recipes, feel free to share in comments below or send them to [email protected]

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, fur mom, wife and freelance writer just trying to eek out as much sanity as she can from each day.

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Gluten Free Pizza Pasta Dish – Great for lunch boxes!

Yes, it’s another deconstructed pizza recipe from me! I can’t help it, my family loves pizza! You may have enjoyed our Easy Pizza Rolls for family pizza night or even our Pizza Cookie for dessert. But, this gluten free pizza pasta casserole is just for me because I can’t have gluten or (most) dairy. So, finding anything resembling a real pizza is near impossible. I am from New York, home of the best pizza and there is no substitute. However, this easy recipe brings the same flavors and makes me feel like I am not missing out entirely.

This whips together in under 30 minutes and FYI, it is a great recipe for school lunch boxes! Make it on a Sunday, reheat to put into a thermos and pack in a lunch box.

Pizza is simply crust (base carb), cheese, sauce and favorite toppings.

Our deconstructed pizza uses gluten free pasta as the base carb, mixed with sauce and favorite toppings like pepperoni, sausage or favorite veggies and of course cheese. We use a gluten free pasta from the grocery store that everyone in my family likes and suddenly we are all eating one meal! Since I can’t have most dairy, I use grated parmesan cheese, affectionately known in my house as “shaker cheese.” It isn’t the hot gooey mess of melted Mozzarella, but it still tastes so darn good!

Directions:

Cook 1 pound of pasta according to directions on package.

Add in one jar of your favorite sauce.

Stir in favorite pizza toppings (I sliced up pepperoni, black olives, green pepper and red onion).

Sprinkle with grated parmesan, or add in shredded mozzarella. (The mozzarella will melt into the hot pasta and sauce, so no need to bake to melt).

Give it a good mix before serving! This goes great with a salad or a side of wings. Anything you’d normally eat with your pizza!

It’s a super easy meal to make on a week night when the kids are hungry and you need something fast, or as a quick side dish for your picky eater who only eats pasta, pizza and cheese.

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, freelance writer and wannabe foodie. Food tastes better when other people cook it, or when kids aren’t complaining about it, but she doesn’t have a lot of time to cook it fancy. If you have a recipe to share email it to [email protected] or share it over on The Whatever Mom Facebook page.

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My Daily Smoothie Hack

I have to confess, I am addicted to drinking smoothies. Not only are they easy to make, but I can just toss a bunch of stuff in a cup without measuring and it still tastes good. The one thing I don’t like, is the clean up. Plus, rummaging around for ingredients and pulling them all out of different locations in the kitchen while I am barely awake, is a pain.

It is so tempting to sign up for a smoothie subscription and have premade smoothies delivered to my door step. I even found a local company to source them, but then I saw the price. It will cost me around $100 for one dozen premade smoothies. I can’t justify spending that much just for my personal breakfast each morning. I’d save time on the prep, but I’d still have to dispose of all the packaging and shipping materials after I transfer all the cups to the freezer. That still takes up time. But man, I’d sure love the convenience and simplicity of dumping a cup of ingredients into a blender.

So….

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That’s what I do!

I found some left over disposable coffee cups with lids stashed away on a shelf in my basement and realize they make the perfect DIY grab and go smoothie cups. I make seven smoothies ahead of time, stash in the freezer and grab one each day. My kids have caught on to this and will grab one for themselves occasionally. They won’t make their own smoothies if they have to lug out all the individual bags of produce. Now that mom has done all the prep work it’s suddenly fair game. At least they are eating healthy and feeding themselves, right? In the future, I’d like to switch out the coffee cups for glass jars with lids to minimize waste, but since my kids are young and clumsy, paper cups do the trick.

Ready to see how easy it is to make a weeks worth of smoothies in about 10 minutes?

Line up seven freezer friendly cups.

Pull out all your favorite fruits and veggies to divide between containers. You can add nut butters or protein powders, seeds or any extras you like in your smoothie.

Just layer in each ingredient, attach the lids and put in the freezer.

When you are ready for a smoothie, remove one from the fridge and fill container with your favorite milk or water (are you a creamy smoothie drinker or a watery smoothie drinker?), dump the entire cup into the smoothie blender and give it a whirl. Then you can dump the mixture right back into the cup to take along with you. If you need something fancier to transport, I’ve attached a couple of options here in this post.

I topped each cup with a piece of waxed paper before adding the lid. This provides an extra “seal” against ice crystals and it keeps the fruit from absorbing any funky flavors from the freezer. Now I have breakfast already made for the entire week (as long as neither of my kiddos takes one for themselves).

Now you have a full week of breakfast (or snacks) for significantly less money and with less wasteful packaging to have to cart to the curb. I love a good hack that gives me more for less!

Our favorite combination so far is bananas, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, kale, spinach, pumpkin seeds and peanut butter. What do you put in your smoothie?

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Pizza Cookies, the Lazy Mom’s Best Friend

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission from items you purchase through my merch link.

The pizza cookie is the lazy mom’s best friend.

Maybe you are not lazy, but some days I am just too tired, and I don’t really feel like making dozens of cookies. A pizza cookie is basically one giant cookie that the kids can top with their own little hands. Less work for me and dare I say, life skills for the kids?

I made this cookie from scratch, which I really don’t advise. Unless baking is your thing. Then go for it!

Otherwise you can grab a tube of ready-made cookie dough and spread it out in a circle on a pizza pan or pizza stone. Bake according to the directions on the package (around 11-13 minutes).

Once the cookie is cool, top with fruits and berries. We used strawberry sauce as the pizza sauce and topped with banana slices, frozen blueberries, chocolate chips and a drizzle of chocolate syrup, that’s it. A super easy and quick dessert any night of the week.

The strawberry sauce:

1 cup of strawberries (frozen or fresh)

2 TBSP cane sugar

Sprinkle the sugar over the strawberries and leave in the fridge for a few hours. The sugar breaks down the berries until they are juicy. I used a potato masher to squish them into a sauce. Spoon over the cookie crust as the pizza sauce.

You can get as fancy as you want and add whatever fruits or berries your kids will eat. If your kiddo can have nuts, drizzle on some melted peanut butter. You really can not mess this up, just make it your own and enjoy!

Check out my cheater recipe for beignets or pizza rolls.

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Roxanne Ferber is a blogger mom and freelance writer. She enjoys the sweet silence of kids sleeping in and has a crippling coffee addiction. Motherhood has changed her in many ways, but remaining non-judgey and ready to support other moms are her strong suits. If you’d like to work with her, visit the work with me link in the side bar. If you want to send her happy thoughts or share your motherhood story drop a line at [email protected], or find The Whatever Mom on Facebook.

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Dairy Free Ice Cream Cupcakes

Picking your own berries and fruit is a great way to get kids outside and enjoying nature. Strawberries, cherries, blueberries and raspberries are all in season right now. And we are here for it!

This week we picked 4 gallons of strawberries and 8 lbs. of sweet cherries. We definitely could have picked more, but the storm clouds were moving in fast. We climbed into the car to go home just as the first raindrop fell. Perfect timing! My kids love cherry picking the most because they can climb the trees to reach the top branches. Thankfully, cherry trees are’t terribly high. Tomorrow we plan to pick blueberries and I can only imagine how many we will come home with.

After we picked all of our strawberries, I washed them and divided into freezer bags and tossed in the freezer. This assures me they will be usable later. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve let the berries sit for too long and wasted them, literally spoiling the fruits of my labor.

We have our standard uses for Strawberries. I toss them into our smoothies, pancakes and baked goods. And every year I make fresh strawberry ice cream. I make it right in my food processor and it is ridiculously easy.

I also make frozen banana ice cream pretty regularly. So, when I eyeballed those sad little bananas on my counter just turning brown, I had an idea. Why not make banana strawberry ice cream cupcakes? I’ll throw a little peanut butter into the banana ice cream for protein and it will practically be a health food! ~ genius

Here is the recipe I whipped up for my family to enjoy. It is dairy, gluten, soy, dye free and there is no added sugar. We did add a layer of graham cracker crumbs between the ice cream layers, but that is optional. Next time I am going to make the strawberry ice cream with coconut milk to see how that changes the texture. This makes six cupcakes, however, there will be about a pint of additional strawberry ice cream you can tuck away for yourself for later. You’re welcome!

I hope you make these and enjoy! Do you get out to pick your own berries? What do you make with all of those sweet berries?

Roxanne Ferber is a blogger mom and freelance writer. She enjoys the sweet silence of kids sleeping in and has a crippling coffee addiction. Motherhood has changed her in many ways, but remaining non-judgey and ready to support other moms are her strong suits. If you’d like to work with her, visit the work with me link in the side bar. If you want to send her happy thoughts or share your motherhood story drop a line at [email protected], or find The Whatever Mom on Facebook.

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Summer Hydration Tips for Kids

Do you have a kid that just will not drink water, no matter how much you remind them? I have two kiddos that I have to constantly remind to drink water on the daily. It is frustrating. I barely remember to drink my own ounces and somehow I have to remember to get them to drink enough too?

Water is essential for so many things, but most importantly, it is essential for our mood and energy levels. So, if you want the kids to have enough energy to log off of their video games without an attitude make sure they are properly hydrated. OK the attitude part is not a guarantee, but at least they should have enough energy to log off the screens for a little bit.

Thankfully, water isn’t the only way to hydrate. If you have a kid that is not a water drinker, there are still plenty of ways for your kids to get their ounces each day, including water dense fruits and veggies and icy cold treats.

Go nuts – coconuts! Coconut water is a fantastic way to hydrate and replenish electrolytes without artificial dyes or added sugar. You can purchase coconut water in a variety of flavors, or as a powder to mix into your bottled water.

Just add ice – puree your favorite berries, or fruits and pour into ice cube trays to freeze. Then just add to a glass and add water. It will keep things cold while slowly adding flavor to your water.

Skip the mix – fresh squeezed lemonade is a tasty way to get those ounces with the added benefit of vitamin c. As my kids say, homemade lemonade is easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Harness the power of the sun – Sun tea requires very little effort and brews while you are playing in the yard. Add 2-3 caffeine free herbal tea bags to a gallon pitcher of water and place it in the sun. Pour over ice to cool down while you rehydrate.

Go Natural – fill up a gallon pitcher of water and add slices of your child’s favorite fruit, or frozen berries. It will add flavor and antioxidants to your next drink.

Solid advice – freeze herbal teas or fruit infused coconut water in popsicle molds. Your kids will be more than happy to eat an icy treat on a hot day. Or offer your kids fresh fruits and veggies with high water content like apples, oranges, watermelon, blueberries and raspberries. Snacking on fresh foods through the day goes a lot further for hydration than eating salty processed snacks. Plus there will be more salty snacks left over for you to enjoy once those little cherubs go to sleep. 🙂

Water can taste bland and seem like a chore for kids to finish. But if you keep a few of the flavorful options listed above, on hand, they may be more willing to sip through out the day.

How do you make sure you and your kiddos get enough hydrating ounces each day?

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Family Pizza Night Recipe

My family has had a long-standing tradition of making our own pizza every Friday night. It began while my kids were toddlers using their little chubby hands to sprinkle the cheese topping and smuggle extra pepperoni to their mouth while I wasn’t looking. Cooking together is one of the first educational activities we enjoyed together as a family.

I confess there have been several pizza nights we skipped the DIY process and just ordered out, because it was easier. Since we have been home and easing up on take out during this pandemic, we have found new tasty and fun ways to enjoy our family DIY pizza night. This is the next big hit at my house – pizza rolls. These are ridiculously easy to make at any age and it is a huge time savor since it uses store bought ingredients.

You will need:

Any store bought, pre-made canned biscuit dough.

Pepperoni slices

Shredded mozzarella

Grated Parmesan cheese

2 TBSP melted butter

Dried parsley (optional)

Tomato sauce

Begin by rolling out the individual biscuit slices until flat and three times larger than original size.

Next, sprinkle on a little shredded mozzarella and top with 2-3 pepperoni slices.

Now you can fold the ends of the biscuit dough toward the center and close it up. It looks like a cute little bun! Place the roll seam side down on a baking sheet (I love using my baking stone).

Brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter and sprinkle with grated parmesan and dried parsley.

Bake according to the directions on the side of the package (about 12-14 minutes depending on your oven).

You can serve with your favorite tomato sauce for dipping or serve plain for the picky eater refusing anything tomatoey this week. You can bump up the veggie count by adding puree veggies to the dipping sauce. You can bump up the vitamin and fiber content by sprinkling some nutritional yeast over the shredded cheese or swap out the melted butter for olive oil. You use whatever ingredients works for your family and just enjoy the silliness and conversation while building these delightful little pizza bundles!

Got a good family pizza night recipe? Feel free to email me at [email protected]

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