Tag Archives: kitchen tips

Healthier Worms and Dirt : A Fun Snack For Kids!

healthier worms and dirt

Today I’m sharing a healthier twist on a fond childhood memory!

healthier worms and dirt

I love treating my kids,¬†but I prefer healthier snacks that will provide extra nutrients to get them through their day! I’m not even sure they notice a difference, to be honest! And it makes me feel like a good mom. ūüôā

I have fond memories of eating “worms and dirt” as a kid. The best librarian ever made it for us once at story time – just one of the many reasons to love her! In case you’re not aware, worms and dirt is chocolate pudding layered with crunched up Oreo cookies and gummy worms lurking inside! I thought it was the best thing ever as a young child.

So a couple months ago, I set out to recreate this awesome memory for my kids. I was inspired by finding organic gummy worms at the grocery – on sale! The next step was waiting for the healthier brand of Oreos to go on sale. (Yep, I’m really cheap.) I buy the¬†Back to Nature brand¬†whenever I get a hankering for yummy cookies (like Chips Ahoy, Oreos, Thin Mints, etc.) with no high fructose syrup, artificial colors, preservatives, or flavorings.

Once all those stars had aligned, I went looking for a healthier chocolate pudding recipe. I won’t buy the boxed mixes (especially when homemade tastes SOOO much better!) I couldn’t find a recipe I liked, so I combined a couple. Here is my tweaked version of an “Eat to Live cookbook” recipe and a random pin I found (and since lost).

Healthier Worms and Dirt Avocado pudding
Ingredients necessary for worms and dirt (plus vanilla!)

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

  • 2 avocados
  • 3/4 – 1 cup chocolate almond milk or plain, unsweetened almond milk (add until you get the consistency you like)
  • 7-8¬†Tbs. cacao powder
  • 10+ dates (possibly more, depends on your sweet tooth – can also add honey or maple syrup at the end if you find it’s not sweet enough. It’s easier than adding more dates!)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

First, blend dates into a paste. This¬†is KEY¬†for getting a smooth pudding consistency (Unless you have a Vitamix, perhaps, or another high powered blender, which I don’t.). The dates will come together and ball up in a lump. Once that happens, you can¬†add all other ingredients. Add more almond milk if it’s too thick and¬†adjust amount of cacao and sweetener to taste. If it isn’t sweet enough, I recommend adding maple syrup or honey instead of more dates¬†for ease of blending it all in.

That’s it! You’ve got pudding!

  • Now crush some¬†cookies in a ziploc or chop them up in a food processor (I used about one row¬†out of 3 from the Back to Nature brand box of cookies.).

Grab a pretty glass or parfait dish for the pudding if you have one the kids can break (I have a glass mug set I got at a yard sale for 25 cents. 4 glasses for 25 cents! Totally breakable.).

  • Layer a couple scoops of pudding, then some smashed cookies. Add a couple Black Forest organic gummy worms. Repeat layers. Top with extra gummy worms and add a spoon!

Eating her healthier worms and dirt pudding!

My kids loved helping me make this special, healthier treat! And I loved eating it with them (sans gummy worms)!

Their favorite part was finding the hidden gummy worms…in fact, I probably could have skipped the whole pudding part and just thrown some worms on the table. Oh well. Someday they’ll appreciate me. ūüėČ

Thumbs up for healthier avocado pudding!
This is how they felt about their special snack! Thumbs up!

What’s a fond childhood snack memory you have? Anything you’d like to recreate as a healthier version for your kids? Let me know in the comments below!

 

6 Life-Changing, Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets

6 Life-Changing, Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets

I love my kitchen gadgets. I am not a kitchen gadget obsessed person (though my mother would disagree). The items in my kitchen drawer are¬†invaluable, and once you have them all, too, surely you’ll agree.

6 Life-Changing, Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets

Having now acquired the following items (My Top 6 favs), I realize I was previously lost without them.

I’m here to save you from a life of kitchen gadget deprivation, my friend.

  1. Garlic Press– Professional chefs may be able to safely chop garlic cloves a hundred miles per hour, but I cannot. My four year old¬†frequently asks me, “Mommy, did you cut yourself again?” if she hears the slightest gasp or exclamation from me while I prep dinner. A garlic press saves your fingertips, as well as time and energy!Garlic Press - One of the must-have Kitchen gadgets for any cook!
  2. Lemon Squeezer– Fresh citrus tastes better and is more versatile than bottled concentrate. It also has zero preservatives. Rachael Ray is¬†adept at squeezing a lemon with her bare hands and catching those slippery seeds in her hand. I, however, am not. It never fails, the seeds slide right into the bowl along with the juice. Get a lemon squeezer, and you’ll never have that problem! Plus, doesn’t that seem gross? No matter how much you wash your hands…there’s bound to be germs. Or soap residue…bleh.Lemon Squeezer- Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets
  3. Mesh Strainer– I debated about this one myself, but it totally comes in handy for rinsing anything smaller than the holes in your typical colander. Gone are the days of rinsing quinoa while it all runs away¬†down the drain. This is also perfect for making gravy, or any kind of sauce, that maybe apt to lump up. Or, if like me, you suck at tempering eggs…(Ever make homemade chocolate pudding? I excel at chocolate scrambled egg pudding. ūüėČ If only I had more patience…) Also, if¬†you make your own homemade broth, a mesh strainer is perfect for straining out even the tiniest¬†chicken bones and skin, garlic cloves, vegetable scraps- anything and everything you throw in that crockpot.Mesh Strainer- One of the Frugal Cook's Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets
  4. Immersion Blender– Great for frothing milk (as seen here), blending soup right in the pan (thus saving a dish, time, and effort), pureeing baby food, homemade salad dressing….Immersion Blender, One of My Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets
  5. Jar Opener– I remember struggling to open a jar of Ragu spaghetti sauce as a teenager, and my mom asking me what I would do when I moved out and she wasn’t there to open my jars anymore.¬†Fast forward 10 or 15 years, and I still can’t open jars. I literally have no strength in my hands. Without the amazing Oxo jar opener, we might have starved (slight exaggeration). Pampered Chef sells a jar opener too. That’s what¬†I have now, after my faithful Oxo opener finally bit the dust and flew apart in pieces. Jar openers- not JUST for arthritic old folks.Jar Opener- Not just one of the old folk's kitchen gadgets!
  6. This Oxo can opener which leaves NO sharp edges!¬†I aspired to someday own this kitchen gadget as a teen. My neighbor down the road (whom I often cooked with- she taught me to make homemade noodles!) owned this useful¬†gadget.¬†I was amazed and astounded the first time I used it. It’s not expensive, and it will save you on¬†band-aids!Smooth Edge Can Opener, definitely one of every cook's must-have kitchen gadgets

Andddd….

Bonus Kitchen Gadget that is sure to enrich your culinary life:

~Rotary Cheese Grater~

One of my favorite kitchen gadgets, the Rotary Cheese Grater

You know the kind – they use it at Olive Garden to add extra cheese to your dishes.

This is one of those kitchen gadgets that instantly fancifies any meal.¬†Grate your own fresh parmesan or asiago¬†for¬†soups, scrambled eggs, pasta, casseroles…the possibilities are endless.

Freshy grated parmesan cheese tastes a million times better than the pre-shredded crap (with additives) you buy in plastic bags. It’s good in a ¬†pinch, but there’s a better option.

Buy fresh. Grate your own cheese.

Sounds like a great motto to me!

Last night, I made an amazing alfredo sauce. I topped it with freshly grated cheese, thanks to my Zyliss Rotary Cheese Grater from my mom one Christmas. Mom is good at fulfilling my kitchen gadget culinary dreams.

I cook most of our meals from scratch (leftovers and weekends excluded, haha!), so these¬†kitchen gadgets¬†are all used at least once weekly, sometimes¬†more. Ok, and I admit it, sometimes less… I mean, I’m not straining homemade chicken broth every day of the week. But when I do, my mesh strainer is indispensable! Who wants feathers and bones floating in their broth?

My husband just needs to learn how to deal with all these gadgets crowding up my kitchen drawer.

If I’ve convinced you of the necessity of any of these items, please click the links provided below. Just click the item you’re interested in, and it will take you to the item on Amazon. If you buy, I will get a small percentage of your purchase. It doesn’t cost you any more, but would help me justify the time I took to write this post, take photos and create the images for it. ūüôā

Garlic Press

Lemon Squeezer

Mesh Strainer

Immersion Blender

Jar Opener – See your Pampered Chef Rep, or ask me for mine!

Oxo Smooth Edge Can Opener

Rotary Cheese Grater

I recommend just about any Cuisinart and Oxo brand products. Cuisinart is highly rated, and very reliable. And Oxo has awesome customer service!!

Next on my Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets Wish List is a torch, so I can make homemade creme br√Ľl√©e and caramelize sugar. ‘Cause as a stay at home mom, with two little ones, I have so much time on my hands for stuff like that.

Follow me on Pinterest for¬†lots of great recipes, Don’t Call Me Supermom blog posts, kids activities, and more!

How to Make Gourmet Coffee at Home

how to make gourmet coffee at home

Today’s post is about how to make gourmet coffee in the comfort of your own home!

Now, when I call it ‘gourmet coffee’ I am stretching the term ever so slightly…I mean, we’re not talking sugary, whipped cream topped, caramel drizzled lattes…I am talking about a quick, easy way to make delicious, special¬†coffee.

Moms, if anyone, deserve special coffee! We need it to get through our day! Plus, buying caramel mochas every day gets expensive, and fattening.

So here’s how to treat yourself while exerting minimal effort-

How to Make Gourmet Coffee at Home:

how to make gourmet coffee at home

First of all,

Buy fresh beans.

Whether this really makes your coffee taste better, or it’s all in your head, do it anyway. Coffee experts say as soon as your coffee is ground, it begins to go stale.

 But if for no other reason, buy whole beans and a grinder, because you will save money in the long run! Whole beans are cheaper than pre-ground, and this #1 bestselling Krups Grinder is only $15! I have had this blade grinder for two years, and it is still going strong.

I have since upgraded to a Krups burr grinder (actually a $2 yard sale steal!). Now I use the other Krups blade grinder I had purchased for grinding spices, grains, or flax seeds, etc.

So what’s the¬†difference between burr and blade grinders? Why does it matter?

¬†A blade grinder is less expensive, but it doesn’t really grind¬†the coffee beans. It smashes them with two very fast moving blades. This results in un-uniform grounds, which matters if you are using a french press or espresso machines. Too powdery, and the grounds can cause clogging.

A burr grinder crushes the beans between two burred plates-hence the name, I guess! which increases their surface area. (Equaling more flavor per square millimeter, according to my theory!) Uniform grounds are key in maximizing flavor and avoiding clogs in your coffee/espresso maker or french press.

I read nearly a dozen articles before I discovered why uniform pieces are so important. Did you know that you can over-extract coffee? Over-extracting results in nasty bitter flavors. Read about it in the article here.

But remember! Any grinder is better than no grinder at all!

Next,

Buy organic.

Unless you like the taste of pesticides, buy organic beans. The great thing is, organic coffee isn’t outrageously expensive. I only pay a dollar more for my organic coffee!¬†I’m already saving money buying whole beans, so I don’t feel guilty about it in the least. ūüôā I buy my coffee online from Copper Moon Coffee. Shipping is free after you spend $50, so go in with a couple friends if you don’t want to spend that much at once.

gourmet coffee at homeOkay, so now that you have the basics (good beans, good grinder), choose your method of brewing.

I love my moka pot for making espresso-like coffee. It doesn’t create a true espresso, but for budget home brewing, it’s not too shabby!

(Check out my post to learn how to make relaxing Lavender Infused Coffee with a Moka Pot here)

My personal favorite brewing method is the Bartelli Paperless Pour Over. It is amazing. A life changer. Now, when I want a quick cup of coffee for one, it is as simple as spooning instant coffee into a mug- except the resulting flavor is a million times better!

Using a pour over is simple:

I push a button to grind my coffee (extra beans are conveniently stored in a reservoir on top of my burr grinder), put the Bartelli pour over on top of my mug, spoon out two tablespoons of ground coffee and boil some water. Slowly pour the hot water over the grounds in your pour over and let the coffee drip into the mug below. Voila!

how to make gourmet coffee at home
Isn’t this gorgeous? I love my glass mugs!

Now, if I want to be even fancier, I froth my own milk. My sister in law taught me this amazing trick, that doesn’t require any special equipment if you happen to already have an immersion blender.

All you need to do is heat some milk in the mug you plan to use. (The amount of milk is up to you, about 1/3 cup for me, I think.) Then stick your immersion blender right in the cup and use the low setting to whip up the milk. Done in 30-60 seconds!

How to froth milk

(I have this Cuisinart immersion blender, a #1 bestseller on Amazon!)

If you sweeten your coffee, add it into the milk before you froth. You can froth milk, cream, half n half…but don’t use skim milk, or even 1% milk if you can help it. You won’t get much froth without the fat. Adding unrefined coconut oil is an option, too! Buy unrefined, because it should actually taste like coconut. I like this¬†brand.) Add a¬†tablespoon¬†or less of coconut oil into your warmed milk. It is tasty, helps¬†you feel full, and will help your 1% milk froth up better!

how to make gourmet coffee at home

I’ve included affiliate links in this post for your convenience. If you buy something I suggest, I might get a small percentage of proceeds from your purchase. So that would be cool!

Now go make some coffee!

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