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Family Matters: A Whole New World

A Whole New WorldNO!

If that’s your toddler’s favorite word, you aren’t alone.

No, she doesn’t want to put on her shoes.

No, she doesn’t want to go to the store, and no, she doesn’t want to leave.

No, she doesn’t want to take a bath, and no, she REALLY doesn’t want to go to bed.

As frustrating as it is, it’s normal. Blessedly typical development for your little one.

Your two (or three) year old is caught up in exploring her world, a world where she is fully mobile, can walk from room to room unescorted and can discover the wonders around her. She’s also learning about limits, how it’s not safe to wander out the back door without a parent and how pulling the cat’s tail might not be the best of ideas. All of that is important stuff.

You can help by setting limits. Yes, kids like limits. They like to know it’s OK to go play in their bedroom alone, but not in the backyard. They need to know that when mom says “Don’t touch,” it’s for a reason (it’s hot, it’s sharp, it’s dangerous).

You can be on their side. “I know you’re having fun and don’t want to leave the playground, but you’ll see Camden in two days, so let’s go home and you can help me make dinner.” Distraction works, too.

You can reinforce and praise good behavior. “Thank you so much for not throwing a fit when I told you to pick up your toys!”

Give them choices. “You can pick up your toys now and we can watch a movie, or you can choose not to pick up your toys, which means I’ll have to take the toys away for tomorrow and you can’t play with them.”

Whatever routes you choose, be consistent. Be consistent. Be consistent.

Family Matters: Treats not Tricks

Treats not TricksFall is my favorite time of year. The cooler weather, the crunchy leaves, soccer Saturdays, porch parties, fires in the chiminea, cooking out, camping, hiking and Halloween.

My boys LOVE Halloween. Confession: they decorated for Halloween on Sept. 13 of this year. They hung orange lights all over the walls in the living room. There are creepy spider webs on all the brick pillars inside our house and all over the trees outside. The holographic skeleton placemats are on the table, and the bat and spider banners are hung over windows and door frames. There are pumpkins galore on the mantle, sharing the space with the carved black cats. It gives them so much joy to decorate; I don’t even mind them using 97,000 push pins in the wall to hang the lights.

They also get a lot of joy from picking out a costume. They love to dress up for a night, pretending to be something they’re not. When they were little, I LOVED picking out their costumes and helping them execute it. For his first Halloween, Curt was a plush, cuddly frog (but it was so hot that night he could only keep the costume on for pictures). Luke was a pea-in-a-pod for his first Halloween because he was only 7 weeks old, and I’d called him “Sweet Pea” in utero. As toddlers, they were, among other things, a pink pig (Curt was obsessed with pigs that year), Woody and Buzz from Toy Story (one of my favorites; I spent a ridiculous amount on Disney costumes to make this happen), a green sparkly ghost (Luke’s idea), a spider (we made the costume with a black sweatshirt and 8 black, stuffed, knee-high socks) and Eddie from The Little People. They’ve always loved having a hand in creating their own costumes. Even as they’ve gotten older and a trip to the Halloween store is as much a part of the tradition as a costume itself, they still like to make part of their costumes. This year, Luke picked out a scary mask and wants to make a “straightjacket” of sorts, so we’re working on that. Curt opted for a black fedora and mask combo, but we’re going to spray a T-shirt with fake blood for effect.

Next weekend, we’ll paint and carve pumpkins. Maybe we’ll go to a pumpkin patch as a family and pick out the ones we’re going to decorate, another throwback to when they were little and we’d spend hours trying to get the perfect pumpkin patch pictures. I doubt they’ll sit on pumpkins for hours, but it will be fun to try.

For us, Halloween has always been about family. Not about devils, spirits or anything else evil or wicked. It’s just about enjoying the time together, being creative and having fun.

Dine In: Mac and Cheese Bites

Mac and Cheese BitesI’ve burned out on Friday night dinners lately.

For years and years, my boys wanted pizza on Friday nights while we watched a movie, and there was heck to pay if I deviated from the routine.

Now that they’re older, they’re a little more flexible in our Friday night fare. They still love their pizza, but they are more open to other ideas, especially if it’s something involving finger foods.

I think tonight we’ll do “Appetizers for Dinner” night at our house.

I’m going to bake some mild chicken wings, slice celery and carrots to serve with hummus, and make these Mac and Cheese Bites I’ve been dying to try. Is it wrong of me that I’m making these, fully aware that only two of us will likely eat them? I love mac and cheese, and I can’t wait to try this!

Mac and Cheese Bites

1/2 lb dry elbow macaroni
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 oz cream cheese
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Spray a mini-muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or line each cup with a paper liner.

Cook macaroni until al dente and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour, and stir until the mixture is smooth and bubbly. Add the milk gradually while stirring, and bring to a simmer. Add 1 1/2 cups cheese, cream cheese, mustard, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir until smooth. Remove from the heat; stir into pasta, adding a lightly-beaten egg at the end. Spoon a heaping mound of the macaroni and cheese into the muffin tins, and top each with a pinch of more shredded cheese. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden-brown on top. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 206, Calories from Fat: 101, Fat: 11 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (7 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 46 mg, Sodium: 262 mg, Potassium: 93 mg, Carbohydrates: 17 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 9 g.

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Family Matters: Ooey Gooey S’mores

S’mores MilkshakeNothing says fall fun like making s’mores outside around a campfire. Even as the kids are getting older, these gooey delights have always been a favorite around our house. My daughter likes to roast her marshmallows until they are a perfect golden brown and warm in the middle. My son just likes to throw his marshmallows in the campfire and watch them burn up! That must be a guy thing! Either way, s’mores around our house celebrates family time together.

Recently, my daughter introduced us to this twist on classic s’mores. It’s like having a campfire dessert in a glass.

S’mores Milkshake

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4

8 jumbo marshmallows
1/4 cup hot fudge, warmed
1/2 cup graham crackers, crushed
4 cups Brookshire’s Chocolate Milk
4 cups Goldenbrook Farms Chocolate Ice Cream
1 Tbs Brookshire’s Sour Cream

Heat oven to broil. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread marshmallows on prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Place sheet pan under broiler; cook until lightly charred. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Place warm hot fudge in a small, shallow bowl; place graham cracker crumbs on a rimmed plate. Take each glass and dip rim in hot fudge, and then gently roll in crumbs to create a crumb edge. In a blender, combine chocolate milk, ice cream and sour cream until smooth.

Pour milkshake mixture into glasses, and garnish each with reserved toasted marshmallows.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 650, Fat: 26 g (16 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 95 mg, Sodium: 352 mg, Carbohydrates: 92 g, Fiber: 4 g, Protein: 14 g.

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Product Talk: Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Pumpkin SnickerdoodlesIt’s inevitable.

It’s the time of year we’re going to talk about pumpkin. Have you seen the hashtag #pumpkinspicelife? It’s because everything this month is pumpkin. That’s fine by me!

Pumpkin is super-healthy. It’s also super-great to cook with.

Libby’s Pure Pumpkin comes in a can, packed with nutrients, low in calories and fat and virtually sodium-free.

Pure pumpkin is not just for pumpkin pie (although that’s a mighty delicious way to use it). You can mix it into oatmeal for a vitamin boost. You can mix it with a prepared cake mix to make a low-calorie muffin. And you can use it to make cookies; snickerdoodles to be exact.

I wasn’t sure how these would go over at my house. I mean, I LOVE pumpkin, but I wasn’t sure how the people who would (hopefully) be eating the vast majority of the cookies would react.

I needn’t have worried: two dozen of this spin on the classic cookies were gone in the first day. (Disclaimer: They did NOT eat only cookies all weekend.) Chilling the dough overnight is a must; they were tender on the inside and crisp with cinnamon sugar on the outside.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
Makes 4 dozen

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 large eggs
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar for topping
2 tsp ground cinnamon for topping

Cream together sugar, butter and shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer until pale yellow and fluffy. Add eggs and blend thoroughly.

In another bowl, sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Add in small batches into the wet ingredients. Do not over-mix. Add the pumpkin puree at low speed.

When well-mixed, place dough in the freezer for 90 minutes (or in the fridge overnight).

Pre-heat oven to 350º F. Mix extra sugar and cinnamon together well in a bowl. Roll a small mound of dough (about 2 Tbs) into a ball in your hand, and then roll in cinnamon sugar. Place on baking sheet 12 to a sheet (they will spread a little).

Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes. When just the edges of the cookies start to brown, you will know they are done. The middle part of each cookie is going to appear undercooked. Cool on a wire rack and you will see them look like they are cooked through.

Store in an airtight container.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 94, Calories from Fat: 39, Fat: 4 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 13 mg, Sodium: 56 mg, Potassium: 40 mg, Carbohydrates: 13 g, Sugar: 8 g, Protein: 1 g.

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Family Matters: Cooking = Responsibility

 Cooking = ResponsibilityAs my girls have gotten older, I found how helpful they can be, if given the opportunity to do something on their own. They get home from school before we get home from work, so they know if they wait for us to cook supper that it will be late when we eat. Therefore, they have taken on the responsibility of cooking a few nights a week. My rule is that I don’t care what you cook because I will eat it! It’s just nice getting home and not having to go straight to the kitchen.

When I buy groceries, they tell me what items they need for what they are planning on cooking that week. They check the weekly grocery ad and let me know what is on sale (budget shoppers!). They have learned that Pinterest has lots of recipes, or they look through our cookbooks (I know, who uses those anymore!). The twins are 16 now, and they cook just about anything you can imagine. I always tell them how great the food was and how much I appreciate them.

We make cookies for a boys’ home as part of a church ministry, and I came home the other night to them having made 8 dozen cookies. They were not all perfectly round nor did they look like the cookies I would have made, but they tasted great. What a blessing to me (who was exhausted) and to the boys receiving them! Letting your kids grow in responsibility reaches outside your home…what a great lesson!

What a blessing it is that my children do not feel the need for someone to wait on them hand and foot, but they step up and act responsible in helping. If we all pitch in on things that need to be done, then there’s more time we can spend as a family doing things together. Most children are willing (definitely able) to cook, clean and even do laundry if parents would let them. Don’t worry that it may not be the best meal you ever ate or chores may not be done exactly like you would have done it. Let your children learn responsibility; it is good for them and it helps them grow!

What a comfort I have in knowing my girls can cook, clean, plan ahead and work through matters on their own. They will be responsible adults which is a great virtue to have in college, at work, in church ministry and in your family. I count my blessings daily, and I give thanks for my girls and the responsible young ladies they have become!

Shop the Sale: Beef and Broccoli

Beef and BroccoliConsidering my son’s current affinity for white rice, I try to work it into as many dishes as humanly possible. While Luke is a sweet boy, he’s a picky eater. He likes rice, approximately two vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower) and meat.

That doesn’t always make cooking easy.

This dish satisfies all his requirements AND is made in the slow cooker (which makes me happy). In addition, chuck roast is on sale at Brookshire’s this week, so really, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Beef and Broccoli

1 lb boneless beef chuck roast, sliced into thin strips
1 cup beef stock or beef broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 Tbs sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs cornstarch
1 (12 oz) bag frozen broccoli florets
white or brown rice, cooked

Whisk together the beef stock, soy sauce, dark brown sugar, sesame oil and garlic in the crockery of a slow cooker. Place beef strips in the sauce, tossing to coat. Cook on low setting for approximately 6 hours.

When your beef is almost finished, remove about 4 tablespoons of the sauce from the slow cooker, and whisk it with cornstarch. Stir it back into the slow cooker and add broccoli. Turn heat to high; let cook for about 30 more minutes, or until sauce is thickened and broccoli is cooked through. Serve over rice.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 563, Calories from Fat: 316, Fat: 35 g (13 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 117 mg, Sodium: 2090 mg, Potassium: 402 mg, Carbohydrates: 24 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 14 g, Protein: 34 g.

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Healthy Living: Purell Hand Sanitizer

Purell Hand SanitizerWhen my kids went back to school last week, the item at the top of each school supply list was “Purell Hand Sanitizer.”

Back-to-school means germs, germs and more germs, and Purell Hand Sanitizer helps fight the germs that might be spread from kids with colds touching the pencil sharpener then to other kids.

Purell Hand Sanitizer was invented in 1988 to help reduce the spread of germs in the healthcare and restaurant industries. There needed to be an effective way to stop the spread of germs, and keep things sanitary when soap and water were not readily available.

Purell Hand Sanitizers are effective at killing 99.99% of most common germs, and have been available to the general public since 1997. I think it’s been on every school supply list of ours since then.

My teacher friends keep bottles everywhere in their classroom. I have one on my desk at work, as does my co-worker. There’s Purell Hand Sanitizer dispensers in most public restrooms. I haven’t been into a commercial kitchen since I stopped waiting tables in college, but I imagine they’re found there as well. I have a travel-sized bottle in my purse.

Used correctly, Purell Hand Sanitizer will help keep you germ-free this fall and winter.

Family Matters: Make Every Night A Family Night

Make Every Night A Family NightBe sure to put September 28 on your calendar as National Family Day. Family dinnertime does not have to be perfect. CASA’s Family Day is a national movement to celebrate parental engagement as an effective tool to help keep America’s kids substance free. Eating at the table with your kids is a simple way to stay engaged with time to talk, eat and enjoy each other’s company. Don’t expect your meals to always turn out delicious where everyone is raving about your cooking. Also, don’t expect your kids to always be polite and on their best behavior. Let’s be real, good food is only as good as the people you enjoy eating it with. Dinnertime is about sitting down at the table for at least 30 minutes and catching up with everyone. Let the kids tell you what went on at school, open up to one another and share the day’s events with each other.

Keep your family grounded this fall with these 15 ideas for fabulous dinners and family nights:

  1. Enjoy a movie night with homemade pizza. Make your own individual pizzas, and let each family member take a turn selecting the movie.
  2. Have an overnight staycation at home with a cookout and camping. Pitch a tent in your yard, and cook over an open fire (or on the barbecue). Sit around the fire pit and tell stories.
  3. Volunteer as a family. Help out at a school fundraiser or serve meals at the local soup kitchen.
  4. Bake together. Take turns picking favorite recipes and let everyone join in on the fun.
  5. Take family photos. Get out the camera, and have some fun taking photos of each other. Be silly, be serious and have fun.
  6. Have a formal family dinner. Set the table with your best tableware, have everyone dress up and use your best manners. Give everyone a fancy name and title — like prince or princess — and behave as one would.
  7. Play show-and-tell. Have each family member choose an item that is important to him or her, and tell all about it.
  8. Play a casual game of baseball, football or basketball.
  9. Play “Name That Tune.”
  10. Make a family cookbook. Have every family member choose several of his or her favorite recipes and type it up. Make copies to pass out as gifts at Christmas.
  11. Have a family slumber party. Put blankets down in the living room and pile on top!
  12. Visit a local bookstore and read together. Buy a chapter book each member of the family can read aloud from to the others.
  13. Go for a walk around the neighborhood or park. Play “I Spy.”
  14. Play charades.
  15. Have a Bible lesson, songs and snacks.

Dine In: Crazy Candy Pie

Crazy Candy PieLuke was sitting next to me yesterday morning while I was scrolling through Pinterest on my laptop.

“WE NEED THAT!” he yelled, pointing at the candy confection on the screen.

I followed the link. It was a pie, full of bits of candy bars! Essentially, it’s like a blondie in a pie crust with candy. What more do you need to know?

“We should probably have that tonight, you know, to celebrate school starting on Monday,” he said.

That’s solid reasoning if I ever heard it.

This pie came together quickly and simply. It’s bright and colorful, and it was delicious.

“That sure was a special dessert” was Luke’s final comment on the subject.

I agree, Luke. I agree.

Crazy Candy Pie

1 frozen pie crust, thawed
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 cup candy bars (I used M&M’s, mini Twix, mini Rolos and mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups)
extra candy for the top of the pie

Preheat oven to 350° F. If using a frozen pie crust, make sure crust is defrosted.
Using an electric mixer, cream sugar and butter until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until combined. Stir in baking powder, salt and flour. Mix well.

If you’re not using “mini” candies, chop your candy into bite-sized chunks.

Add candy to batter using a slow speed of the mixer or stirring it by hand.

Press batter into pie crust. It will be too thick to pour and somewhat sticky, so you might want to spray your spatula with nonstick cooking spray before you attempt this maneuver. Sprinkle remaining candy on top for decoration.

Bake for about 24 to 30 minutes, or until the crust is browned and the top of the pie is golden. It may still be a little jiggly in the center. Cool completely. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

Nutritional Information (calculated with 1 cup of M&M’s): Calories Per Serving: 409, Calories from Fat: 159, Fat: 18 g, Trans Fat: 0.1 g (8 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 40 mg, Sodium: 248 mg, Potassium: 206 mg, Carbohydrates: 58 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 36 g, Protein: 4 g.

View this recipe to print or add items to My Shopping List.

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In, Kids

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The products mentioned in “Share, the Brookshire’s Blog” are sold by Brookshire Grocery Company, DBA Brookshire’s . Some products may be mentioned as part of a relationship between its manufacturer and Brookshire’s.

Product Talk

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