Monday, March 4, 2013

Ummm, oh yeah! I have a blog!

Image Source: Pink Peppermint Paper
So I've kind of let the blog slide for a while now. But I have my reasons! My life has pretty much turned upside down, but in a good way.

Our family is in the middle of a BIG move to Wisconsin. We're very excited about the move, but it is requiring a ton of work to make it happen. I'm doing several renovations and updates in our house getting it ready for sale. (If you know anyone who wants to buy a house in Omaha, send 'em my way!) Needless to say, experimenting in the kitchen (and blogging, by association) just hasn't been happening. I'm basically relying on our family's old favorites, which are already on here. 

However, I'm not leaving you out to dry. I do still occasionally pin MSPI-friendly recipes from around the web over on my Pinterest page. I always make sure to include MSPI-friendly alterations and tips in the pin, so just check there if you have any questions about a recipe. For those of you who aren't on Pinterest, you can view my Pinterest page via my Facebook page. Just click on the Pinterest icon under my banner. (And for those of you who aren't on either, sorry!)

I do plan on returning to blogging and posting recipes, but I honestly don't know when that will be. So let's just say I'm on sabbatical for the time being. And when I do return to posting recipes, I'm sure they will have a delicious Wisconsin spin ... without the cheese, of course!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Daniel Tiger Bars

If your TV is anything like my TV, it is regularly tuned to PBS Kids. "Curious George" is a must-see on our screen, but I have a feeling George is going to have to make room for a new little critter in our hearts: Daniel Tiger.

PBS is premiering "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" this coming Monday, and my kiddos couldn't be happier. Last week, we watched a sneak peek of the entire first episode -- Click here to watch it, too! -- and my 2- and 4-year-olds haven't stopped asking for it since. And for those of you who grew up watching "Mister Roger's Neighborhood," you're going to love the show, too! It is truly a walk down Memory Lane for this child of the '70s and '80s.

In honor of little Daniel Tiger, I've created a fun snack for you and your kiddos to share while watching the show. It's a twist on peanut butter crispy treats. Feel free to use sunflower seed butter, if peanuts are an issue for you.

Now I dare you not to hum "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" while munching on one of these gooey bars of yumminess.

Daniel Tiger Bars
Source: MSPI Mama

2 cups mini marshmallows
2 tbsp. MSPI-friendly margarine
3 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
4 cups MSPI-friendly corn flakes cereal
¼ cup MSPI-friendly chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life.)
1 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
1-2 tsp. shortening, optional

In a large microwave-safe bowl, heat the marshmallows and margarine, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted, about 2 minutes total. Stir in 3 tablespoons peanut butter until melted. Stir in the cereal until fully combined.

Coat an 8x8 baking pan with cooking spray. Spoon the cereal mixture into the prepared pan. Coat your hands with cooking spray, then press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan. Set pan aside while the mixture cools and firms, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons peanut butter in a small bowl. Microwave on high, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted, about 2 minutes total. The chocolate mixture should be smooth and pourable, if it needs to be thinned out, stir in 1-2 teaspoons of shortening to the mixture.

Once the pan has cooled, drizzle the chocolate mixture in a stripe pattern across the top of the cereal mixture. Set pan aside to allow the chocolate to cool and firm up. Cut mixture into bars and serve.

Tip: Many brands of corn flakes have cross-contamination issues with soy. If you can't find one that's safe for your family, substitute a crispy rice cereal -- the bars will still be yummy, just not tiger orange.

Tip2: This recipe can easily be doubled. Just use a 9x13 baking pan instead.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Revamped & Revived: Salmon Cakes

I'm reaching into my blog's archive and sharing an updated recipe with you today. 

Thanks to my dad's love of salmon fishing and my mom's love of canning that salmon, I always have several jars of canned salmon in my pantry. This makes for quick and easy meals, and it so happens one of my family's all-time favorite meals is made with canned salmon: Salmon Cakes. (A recipe I originally posted back in 2008.) I make this recipe a lot and have tweaked it over the years. Here's my update on an old favorite!

Salmon Cakes
Source: MSPI Mama

1 15½-oz. can of salmon, drained and flaked
1-2 eggs
½-1 cup MSPI-friendly panko bread crumbs
1 tbsp. dried onion flakes
½ tsp. dried dill weed
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. olive oil

Mix together all the ingredients, starting with 1 egg and ½ cup panko and adding in another egg or more panko, until you reach a sticky but not gloppy consistency that holds together well. Using a measuring cup, scoop out ⅓-cup of the mixture and form the mixture into a patty. Place patty on a plate and repeat with the remaining salmon mixture.

Cover patties with plastic wrap and place plate in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Heat olive oil in saute pan over medium heat. Fry cakes, flipping after first side turns golden brown. Serve with lemon juice or MSPI-friendly tartar sauce.

Tip: Looking for a tartar sauce recipe? Here's an easy one!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Broccoli "Cheese" Soup - Vegan

Oh my. It's been nearly a month since I last posted. In my defense, this past month has been SUPER crazy with so many trips and activities: a reunion, an end-of-summer family vacation, our 10-year anniversary, a weekend away (with no kids!) to celebrate our reunion, the start of school and preschool and all the other little things one must squeeze in before school starts. Needless to say, the blog wasn't a top priority.

However, I have been cooking! And, my friends, this recipe was worth waiting for because it is so good and comforting. Now it may seem strange to cook soup in the heat of the summer, but I had all these wonderful vegetables from my CSA basket that needed eating: broccoli, potatoes, onions and carrots. This soup truly shines when all the veggies are fresh from the garden or local farm!

The only "unusual" ingredient is nutritional yeast. (I use this brand and buy it from Amazon.) You can still make this soup without the nutritional yeast. It just won't be nearly as "cheesy" in flavor.

Broccoli "Cheese" Soup
Source: MSPI Mama

1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 medium (approx. 12 oz.) yellow potatoes, cleaned and diced
2 cups MSPI-friendly vegetable broth
2 cups plain, unsweetened rice milk
1 head broccoli, chopped into small, bite-size pieces
1 large carrot, shredded
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. mustard powder
½ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. corn starch
½ cup rice milk
½ cup nutritional yeast
chopped fresh chives, for serving

Coat a large pot with cooking spray and place it over medium heat. Add onions, celery and garlic and saute until the veggies begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and saute for five more minutes. (If at any time the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the pot, you can add a splash of water to loosen things up a bit.)

Add the broth and 2 cups rice milk. Bring the mixture to a low boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft. (Simmering time will depend on the size of the diced pieces of potato. Smaller dice = shorter cooking time!)

Remove half of the soup from the pot and blend in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return the mixture to the pot along with the broccoli, shredded carrot, salt, mustard powder, onion powder and pepper. Return soup to bubbling, and cook for 10 minutes, or until broccoli is tender.

Add the corn starch to a small bowl. Stir in the rice milk and mix until the corn starch is completely incorporated. Stir the mixture into the soup pot. Add the nutritional yeast to the soup. Stir the soup while the soup simmers and thickens. (If you like your soup to be thicker, repeat the corn starch/rice milk step.) Adjust seasoning to taste and serve with chives sprinkled over the tops of individual bowls.

Tip: When blending a hot mixture, make sure you remove the blender’s center plug and then cover the top of the blender with a folded towel before blending. This will allow the steam from the hot mixture to escape and keep the blender from exploding hot soup all over you!

Link Love: I'm sharing this post at Healthy Vegan Fridays.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Balsamic Pasta Salad

It's Friday! What are your plans for the weekend? Hopefully, you'll be enjoying time with your family and NOT slaving away in the kitchen every time you get hungry. To make that a reality, spend a few minutes in the kitchen whipping up this simple salad, and keep it at the ready in your refrigerator. Whenever hunger pains hit, this will be waiting for you!

Adapt the veggies to whatever you have on hand or prefer. Carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower. You can even use frozen veggies. If using frozen corn or peas, you can just toss them into the salad after thawing. If using larger frozen veggies, such as green beans. Cook them as directed by the package, but cut the cooking time in half. (You don't want them mushy!) Drain, then immediately "shock" the veggies in a bowl of ice water. Once the veggies are cool, drain thorougly and toss into the salad.

Balsamic Pasta Salad
Source: Adapted from

½ cup balsamic vinegar
1½ tbsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced (or ½ tsp. garlic powder) 
1 tsp. dry basil
½ tsp. salt
8 oz. whole wheat penne pasta
1 cucumber, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2-3 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cup black olives, sliced

Place the vinegar, oil and spices in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigourously to combine. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Prepare the pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water and place in a large bowl. Add the chopped veggies to the bowl.

Give the dressing another shake and pour over the pastas and veggies. Toss. Adjust seasoning to taste. (Depending on the quality of your vinegar, you may need to add a pinch of sugar. Good balsamics are very sweet.) Serve immediately or cover and keep cold in the refrigerator.

Tip: To make this salad a main dish, add a can of drained and rinsed kidney beans. Or you can add 2 cups of cooked chicken breast. Here is a super simple way to cook chicken breasts in the microwave.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes.