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Back To School Cooking Series:Create A Cooking Plan!

Posted on 07 August 2011 by noelskitchen

 Do you have kids going back to school in August or September? Do you dread thinking of what’s for dinner since you will have all kinds of paperwork to fill out?! Or maybe you are a teacher and will not have time to think about meals the first week back!

That is where my Back To School Cooking Series comes in! I have been working on a Cooking Plan that will help guide you to make meals that you’ll be able to freeze for your first week back to school, or whenever you choose to make them! Plus you’ll have the knowledge to continue preparing more meals throughout the school year.

What’s even better, is that you’ll also know how to prepare healthy and tasty school lunches, which also can be a challenge. One way to do this is to get your entire family, especially the kids, involved to make this process a little easier. Have each one of them write down what they like to eat and what they don’t. (Within reason, no sweets or sugary drinks, of course.)  You’ll be able to accomodate most of their choices, plus introduce new foods for lunch that can be portable.

My suggestion, would be to introduce anything new now before school starts. That way you have time to tweak the recipe or simple omit it from you plan.  Lunchtime is not the time to have food battles with your kids. Save that for breakfast and dinner when the meal can be consumed at a more leisurely pace. If your kids eat away from home at lunchtime, chances are that “healthy” lunch is going to go to waste if they don’t like it. You still have some time before school starts to try out recipes. You’ll get some ideas from the Back To School Cooking Series that I’ve created and from other family favorite recipes that you eat on a regular basis. You can invest in zip-loc freezable containers that fit perfectly in school lunch boxes or bags and a thermos for foods to stay warm. (Target has a great selection and different sizes.)

Ready? Mom, it’s your turn. Compile a list of at least 20 recipes and put them together on your menu. It will be easy to use a four-week schedule similiar to the one at your child’s school. When school starts, use the menu three months at a time. At the end of that three months, sit down with your children and talk about what recipes you liked, the recipes you want moved from the rotation and what new ideas you have for your menu. Keep the menu visible on your fridge and you could place stars next to the recipes you liked. Rate them from one star to five stars. It’s that easy!

Here’s a sample of a four-week school lunch cooking plan:

Monthly Calendar of School Meals 

Monthly Calendar of School Meal.pdf version

Have a list of side dishes to pack with lunch. Side dishes usually include a fruit, a vegetable, a small dessert (homemade of course) or a salty snack (pretzels, homemade snack mix, etc.) and a beverage. I usually stir away from including chips unless they are homemade. This helps round out the kid’s lunch meal. Some samples of side dishes could include: baby carrots, sliced cantaloupe, pineapple chunks, celery sticks, applesauce, grapes, hard-boiled eggs.

Snack items can include Granola Bars, Frozen Peanut Butter Bars, Crackers, String Cheese, Apple Squares, Popcorn, Snackin’ Mix (Some of these, I’ll share in another post.)


  •  Budget-friendly recipes that help you feed your family conveniently and affordably. Many are around $2-$3 per serving.
  •  Deliciously simple recipes that range from unique flavors to traditional family favorites.
  •  Timesaving ideas that make it easier to get dinner on the table … pronto!
  •  How to start with three pounds of meat (chicken or ground beef or a combination of the two) and end up with three completely different family meals to tuck away in the freezer.
  •  Practical tips that ensure you get the freshest flavor when freezing meals.
  •  Simple and safe defrosting instructions.
  • How to prepare healthy and tasty school lunches by creating Freezer Lunches To Go
  • Packed Lunches Tips and Hints
  • A Variety Works Best
  • Rounding Out Lunches and More!

 How do YOU plan meals your family will eat?

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Homemade Corn Dog Muffins:Kid-Friendy, Make Ahead Meals

Posted on 29 June 2011 by noelskitchen

These muffins are great for when your on the go and a great make-ahead meal for your kids for a snack or lunch that can easily be frozen-Homemade Corn Dog Muffins.

As much as we all like the smell and taste of a corn dog, I’ve never actual attempted to make them at home because of all the oil that’s required to cook them. I’m not a big fan of deep frying foods. This recipe is a great alternative to deep frying your corn dogs and the kids love them. You can use your favorite cornmeal recipe or if you can find Jiffy cornbread mix on sale like I did, that will work too.

Homemade Corn Dog Muffins


  • 2 boxes Jiffy Cornbread mix, plus ingredients to make muffins according to package instructions
  • 1 package hot dogs
  • 24 muffins paper cups to line muffin pan


  1. Make muffin mix according to package instructions. (Your using two boxes so remember to double ingredients.)
  2. Line muffin pan with muffin cups.
  3. Fill each muffin cup with cornbread batter.
  4. Cut hots dogs in 1/2 or in 1/3 depending on the size hot dogs you have on hand.
  5. Place hot dog in center of cornbread batter and lightly press in. (Batter will slightly raise over hot dog.)
  6. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees until lightly golden brown.
  7. Serve right away or let cool and freeze.

An easy lunch or snack idea that you can make ahead and your kids will love!

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Understanding Meals Children Will Eat…Usually

Posted on 01 June 2011 by noelskitchen

When your a parent, reading about feeding your children is one thing. Actually feeding them is quite another story. Their hunger styles may be slightly different than ours, and their taste buds may differ a considerable amount. Still, sometimes as a mom, it’s hard to watch them reject the meals you’ve spent time preparing and cooking. We’ve all battled our chiildren at the dinner table one time or another.  Too often the dinner table turns into this cold war-and you worry that your children will never eat a nutritional meal.

One way to avoid meal problems is to serve nutritious foods that your children really like. Here are some simple meal ideas your children may like.

  1. Top Ramen noodles with peas, broccoli or corn (as a soup or casserole); try adding sliced chicken breasts.
  2. Macaroni and cheese (basically any noodle with cheese.)
  3. Oatmeal with raisins, cinnamon or even applesauce.
  4. Burger/patties with a whole grain roll, ketchup and salad.
  5. Rice and nuts/seeds with vegetable side dishes (a little dip for veggies is okay.)
  6. Pizza (every child’s favorite, right?) use a whole-grain crust, spread with tomato puree, oregano and cheese.
  7. Potato pancakes with wheat germ. (Grate potatoes and an onion. Mix in egg, a little pepper, and a 1/3 proportion of wheat germ. Fry like a patty. Serve with some ketchup or a dollap of sour cream on top.)

These are just a few ideas if you find yourself struggling to get your children to eat their meals. Only you, know exactly what your children like and don’t like. Experiement with different foods and engage your children in the meal planning and cooking process. They get excited when they’re given the opportunity to help. You may find that your children like those meals you make more often.

Do you ever find yourself in a battle with your children at meal times? What are your solutions?

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Kids In The Kitchen:Tips for Turning “Yuk” into “Yum”!

Posted on 30 May 2011 by noelskitchen

Believe it or not, children don’t develop picky eating habits just to annoy and frustrate their parents. The first signs of picky eating habits typically emerge as a child enters toddlerhood. I was told that the habits tend to diminish between the ages of 4 and 5, although certain studies suggest that if children are still picky by age 9, they’re likely to remain picky into young adulthood.  Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way when raising children and tips on how I Turned “Yuck” into “Yum”.

  1. Keep Meals simple, and serve individual foods separately. Complex casserole dishes are rarely popular with children. Occasionally, you may stick a “secret” ingredient in.
  2. Serve new foods in smaller quantities that you know your child will eat. I know our daughter eats smaller portions than our son and give her smaller amounts to start off with. If she wants seconds, than I’m happy she enjoys the dish. When introducing a new food, insist that your child try it, but don’t expect instant acceptance. It took me a long time to finish my peas when I was younger. Now that I’m older, I have grown to love the taste of peas.  Discuss new foods briefly so that the meal is not a mystery-children like to know what they are eating.
  3. Avoid hot, spicy ingredients unless your children prefer such foods. Parents can easily add extra seasonings to their own plates.
  4. Encourage your children to accept beans. Unfortuneately, beans have a bad reputation because of their texture as well as their gas-producing properties. (Did I just say gas? You  mothers know what I mean). Serve beans in soups, tacos or burgers-forms that are more likely to succeed with children.
  5. Whenever possible, add extra nutrition to your children’s meals with the following ingredients: nutritional yeast, miso, sunflower seeds (grind the seeds for younger children), wheat germ and tahini.
  6. Use a juice, to make tasty and nutritious fruit and vegetable drinks, which children enjoy at both snacks and meals. Encourage children to invent their own combinations. This gets them excited about fruits and vegetables. Remember, if your children start out with wholesome ingredients, you can allow them much more freedom of choice without worrying about their nutrition.
  7. If children are hungry between meals, offer them raw vegetables for a snack. Carrot and tender celery sticks (children aren’t fond of stringy celery) in a cup of cold water will be gobbled up as fast as cooking-by adults as well as children.
  8.  Don’t keep foods in the house that you don’t want your children to eat. A child may never choose fruit over a cookie, but he or she often will choose fruit over nothing.
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Five Fun Baking Recipes for Kids:A Guest Post

Posted on 27 May 2011 by noelskitchen

Today’s post is from Stephen Pazyra, CEO of an online bakery that delivers premium logo cookies. Today he’s sharing how you can spend quality time in the kitchen with your kids making fun and simple recipes that are kid-friendly. What a great way to spend a day with your kids!

Enjoy today’s post!


Baking with children is a great way to spend quality time together and provide them with a fun (and sometimes messy!) experience. Whether or not the kids are your own, you’ll have a great time supervising their cooking endeavors, and these five simple, kid-friendly recipes are perfect for involving little hands in the kitchen.

·         Crazy Kids Personal Pizza
Practically every child likes pizza, so why not teach the kids in your life how to make one? This Food Network recipe is nice because it’s for a personal pizza. That means if you’re cooking with several children, each one can add the toppings he or she desires.
To make this recipe, you need a pizza stone, store-bought pizza dough, tomato sauce, mozzarella, Romano cheese, olive oil, flour and several toppings. Pizza is fun because there are so many ways to make it. You may also want to try this homemade pizza recipe!

·         Peanut Butter Cookies with Hershey Kisses
Your children will be the envy of their friends if they make these mouth-watering cookies from the website. Perfect with a glass of milk, they’ll satisfy even the pickiest of eaters after a long day of school.
Once you’ve mixed the dough, you roll it into small balls, which kids love because they get to dig in with their hands. You bake the dough until it is golden brown, and place a Hershey’s Kiss in the center of each cookie. This recipe makes 48 cookies, ensuring they last a few days.

·         Banana Bread
Children will enjoy smashing bananas for this Williams-Sonoma recipe. Just make sure the bananas you give them are very ripe. The recipe really is quite easy to prepare. The hardest part is the 45 minute wait while it’s baking.
During this time, you can have your little bakers help wash the dishes and clean the counters. To motivate them, tell them their reward will be a fresh slice of banana bread!

·         Soft Pretzels
Soft pretzels are another fun recipe for children to make. Between mixing, rolling, and shaping the dough into a pretzel shape, kids will want to make this snack again and again. This Allrecipes recipe requires you to dissolve yeast in warm water, add a bunch of ingredients (sugar, salt butter and egg), and stir in flour.
You refrigerate the dough for a while, cut it in half, and separate each half into 16 equal pieces. After rolling each piece into a 20-inch rope, shaping the pieces into pretzels, and brushing egg over the pretzels (you can also add salt), you bake them in the oven.

·         Crunchy, Oven Baked Chicken Toes
Children will probably laugh at the funny name of this Rachael Ray recipe. But their laughter will change to pleasure when they sample the tasty treat. The first steps involve crushing corn flakes and mixing them with breadcrumbs, sugar, salt, pepper, and allspice.
Next, some vegetable oil is mixed in with the breading. After a grownup has cut chicken breast tenders into 2-inch pieces, the child can turn the chicken in flour, eggs, and the breading. The last step is baking the chicken for about 15 minutes.

Do you have any fun, child-friendly recipes that you like to make with your little ones?

Author Bio: Stephen Pazyra is founder and CEO of 1-800-Bakery, an online bakery that delivers premium logo cookies with a commitment to quality and freshness.

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