Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Mac and Cheese

Molly's little brother and I did some shopping today and found the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese had a holiday box of mac and cheese.  It says 'tis the Cheese'n on the box.  Pretty punny!  We made them for lunch today and Molly saw the leftovers and asked for it to go into her lunch tomorrow.  I was so happy to hear this because I have run club on Wednesday nights so the prep for Molly's lunch would be minimal.  Yay for happy coincidences!
Our main entree is Kraft Winter Shapes Mac and Cheese.  The noodles are in the shapes of snowflakes, snowmen, candy canes and stockings.  They are really cute and quite delicious.  Cook's note: this particular variety requires more time during cooking and  less milk and butter than the normal blue box.

Our vegetable side is green pepper strips.  Molly asked for these because "they taste stronger than the mac and cheese so I think they'd be a good thing to add."  Can't argue with that logic.

Our fruit side is a red bosc pear and pomegranate arils.  These look so festive together and also have very complimentary flavors.

Finally, our dairy/dessert is peach yogurt.  We like to mix up the flavors now and then and this one seems to go over very well with all of the kids.  A little taste of summer in the winter.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Popcorn Chicken

Molly is buying her lunch tomorrow, by choice.  She is all jazzed up about the popcorn chicken.  We're pretty excited for her too.  Sometimes it is awesome to splurge on something that isn't so healthy for you, but tastes great.  (Just ask me about my adoration for chocolate.)  Hopefully her future purchased lunch choices will be a little healthier but for tomorrow, it's all about fun over nutrition. ☺

Monday, November 28, 2011

Back to School!

We had a fantastic Thanksgiving and a great time over the break.  Our house is now in full on Christmas mode.  The tree is up, the lights are twinkling outside and the smell of Christmas trees is filling our of a candle as our tree is artificial.  Before you know it, the jolly old man in red will be coming down the chimney with presents for all.  That is, if the kids start behaving.  I think that they are really excited and the excitement is taking over the part in their brain that tells them the proper way to act.  Or, maybe they are just ready to get back to school after a nice break.  Back to school and back to lunch.  Here is Molly's lunch for tomorrow.
Our main entree is provolone cheese, salami and crackers.  Molly asked for salami and cheese, but not in a sandwich and without any bread.  We improvised and added cheese crackers instead.  We used a fluted cookie cutter to make the meat and cheese into fun little shapes.

Our vegetable side is green pepper slices.  We had the choice of carrots or peppers and Molly chose the peppers because they are "softer" than carrots.  She lost another tooth over the break so now she is really cautious about what she eats so that the Tooth Fairy doesn't have to visit too often.  She'd rather have it spread out over time...and we're just fine with that.

Our fruit side is sliced strawberries.  Molly's brother picked these out on a recent trip to the store.  He would eat two or three bowls of these every day if he could.  They are a great source of nutrition and we are really lucky that they are available to us at this time of year.

Our dairy/dessert is strawberry yogurt.  We had to spell it out to Molly when we were talking about her lunch because if her brother gets wind of the word yogurt, all action stops and he wants some right then and there.  She requested that it be strawberry and lucky for her, we had some.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Last Day Before Thanksgiving

Our house is filled with the flurry and excitement of the holidays.  Molly's little sister having her preschool feast tomorrow and she can't wait.  Molly can't wait to have a few days off and neither can her Daddy.  We are all ready for some extra time together as a family. ☺

Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone!
Our main entree is Chickarina soup.  It is similar to Wedding soup but has a different, larger, pasta.  Molly has been requesting this for a while after we had it for dinner with some sandwiches.

Our vegetable side is carrot chunks.  We used our crinkle knife to chop up the carrot stick.  Its a fun different way to serve carrots.

Our fruit side is a D'Anjou pear and some pomegranate arils.  These are a huge hit in our house.

Our dairy side is a Babybel cheese and it is being served with some Triscuit thins in Chili flavor.  We figured that this would be a nice addition to Molly's lunch.

Finally, our special Thanksgiving treat is M&Ms.  We had a few of these left in our special treat jar and thought that Molly would really enjoy them.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Week

There are only two school days this week because of Thanksgiving.  We are all very excited to have some extra time to spend with our friends and family.  We are planning our Thanksgiving feast and assigning side dishes and desserts to our helpful family members.  We always have a great time making everything but it is so nice to have guests offer to bring something.  Last year we had a great plan and we are going to follow it again this year with a few minor changes.

All of this preparation and lack of room in the refrigerator helped us to decide that Molly will be buying her pizza lunch at school tomorrow.  This is her favorite lunch to buy and we are fine with this purchase since she will be stuffed with yummy turkey and leftovers for most of the rest of the week.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Finally Friday?

I usually lament on how the weeks seem to drag on but this was one of those weeks that flew by for me.  It really feels like Tuesday, maybe.  We've been doing our normal routine this week but it has been moving at lightning speed.  I think that the thrill of Thanksgiving may be pushing time.  Next week, there are only two days of school but they will be filled with feasts and fun.  Then, Molly's Dad, some friends and I are going to run in a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning.  After that, we will be hosting Thanksgiving dinner for our family.  We have so much to be thankful for this year and it's nice to have one day dedicated to giving thanks.
Our main entree is a turkey sandwich.  We are paying homage to one of our favorite holidays of the year.  We have an asiago roll from Sam's Club with turkey breast, pepper cheese and mustard.

Our vegetable side is peppers.  We used our crinkle knife to cut these peppers into fun shapes.

Our fruit side is a replay of today's fruit, pears and pomegranate arils.  Molly said that the pear was super sweet and requested them again.

Our dairy side is a colby jack cheese stick.  Molly hasn't have one of these in a while so we decided that it would be a good way to bulk up her lunch a little bit.

Finally, our Fun Friday treat is peanut M&Ms.  This is the last of the Halloween candy.  We tossed a lot of it and divided a lot out.  It was nice that only one of the three kids actually went Trick or Treating and that it was one of the little ones, so we didn't end up with a lot of candy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Classic PB&J

I had an incredible run tonight with the peeps at Mojo Running and Multisport, as usual.  My asthma was beating me up a little bit because the temperature dropped suddenly and it was very damp outside, but I kept on trucking as well as I could.

To reward myself, I went out with the crew afterward to have a beer and to try an anomaly called the "Gobblerito" at Mad Mex.  My girl, Jenn, has been raving about this concoction for weeks.  It is basically Thanksgiving dinner wrapped up in a flour tortilla, covered in gravy and served with a side of cranberry sauce.  It was phenomenal!  Seriously!  If you are anywhere near a Mad Mex restaurant, you must try it.  It's only around for a little while longer, then comes the Feast Navidad Burrito that just so happens to include roast beast.
Our main entree is a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  We were inspired by the gobblerito when choosing which cookie cutters to use.  Thanksgiving is only a week away so we broke out the turkey cookie cutter and a leaf cookie cutter.

Our vegetable side is cucumber slices.  These will be a nice palate cleanser after the peanut butter.

Our fruit side is brought to you by the letter "P".  Pears and pomegranates.  These compliment each other very nicely because the pear is a bit on the mild side and the pomegranate arils are more vibrant in flavor.

Finally, our dairy/dessert it Chobani Champions Honey-Nana Greek yogurt.  Molly said that she really enjoyed this variety the other day and decided that she'd like to try it again.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Molly begged to buy lunch tomorrow because they are having cheeseburger sliders.  There is just something about small food for kids.  It's like they gravitate toward it and that's the reason we use cookie cutters to cut things out a lot.  I find that my kids will eat more if it is cut into a fun smaller shapes.  That's how we get them to eat fruits and vegetables sometimes.  A regular apple is fine, but if it is cut into a flower shape it is even better.  I guess presentation really does matter.

So, tomorrow Molly will be buying her lunch at school and enjoying little cheeseburger sliders.  Mom gets the night off and we can finish planning our Thanksgiving menu for next week.  Yep, Thanksgiving is next week!  Where has the time gone? ☺

Monday, November 14, 2011

Where's Toto?

It is mighty windy here in Western PA.  We were wondering if we were going to see the wicked witch of the west or Dorothy's house falling.  The windows and doors are whistling and you can forget your hair-do when you walk out the door.  Hopefully it will settle down so that we aren't woken by the noise or a power outage.

Molly's awkward week continues with a spelling test tomorrow, which is usually on a Friday.  She is very confident and can't wait for her test.  I'm really excited for her because I don't ever remember looking forward to a test.
Our main entree is dinner leftovers.  We made a Macaroni Grill frozen entree, the Basil Parmesan Chicken variety.  This meal is meant for two but we stretch it out to make enough for five because there is enough sauce for it.  We add extra cooked pasta (choo choo wheels this time) and we usually add extra veggies but forgot to tonight.  It is really delicious.  Maybe not the healthiest meal but it is nice for a special treat.

Our vegetable side is a salad.  This is romaine lettuce with multicolored peppers, cucumbers and balsamic vinaigrette.

Our fruit side is strawberries.  Molly's brother picked these out at Sam's Club because he loves berries of any kind.

Our dairy/dessert is Chobani Champions Honey-Nana Greek yogurt.  Molly really prefers the verry berry but it's good to have something different once in a while.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Monday in the Middle

Molly didn't have school last Monday and Tuesday because of parent/teacher conferences.  Next week, there is no school on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday because of Thanksgiving.  This means that there were exactly ten school days between these vacation periods.  Molly's teacher is taking advantage of this by doing the normal weekly plans during theses two "weeks".  This also means that tomorrow will be like a normal Thursday for Molly with a spelling pretest, extra math and reading reviews.  This week and the few days next week will be a little confusing but I give Molly's teacher credit for actually getting these lessons in before the holiday.  I remember a lot of pre-holiday days at school being mostly wasted because the teachers didn't want to start something new.  Molly's teacher is on the ball and now she won't have to push through a lesson in a shorter amount of time.
Our main entree is a salami, pepper cheese and mustard sandwich on whole grain white bread.  Molly requested that we cut it into fun shapes.  We found this cool puzzle piece cookie cutter a few weeks ago and we added little moons to it because Molly is studying the moon in school right now.

Our vegetable side is sliced cucumbers.  We used the crinkle knife again and tried to cut them a little thinner.  When we turn the cucumber after one cut and then turn it again after the next cut, etc, the veggies look like waffles.

Our fruit side is a tangerine and pomegranate arils.  The tangerine has seeds in it so we need to remember to remind Molly of that, but then again, the grapes in Friday's lunch had seeds and she did fine with those.  She even brought them home to show us.  The pomegranate may be a little laborious in preparation but it is very worth it.  These arils are so sweet and they are a nutritional powerhouses.

Our dairy/dessert is Chobani Champions Verry Berry Greek Yogurt.  This has enough protein that no extra dairy is needed.  Also, Molly really enjoys it. ☺

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fun Friday Pasta

We are so excited to be able to use Molly's new thermos again.  The wheels in my head are turning with all of the new possibilities.  Molly requested a warm pasta entree for her lunch so we are trying something simple to start.

Have a great weekend! ☺
Our main entree is a simple version of macaroni and cheese.  We cooked mini shells, added a little bit of butter and then some parmigiana and cheddar cheeses.  This is accompanied by some white turkey pieces and a babybel cheese for extra protein.

Our vegetable side is cucumber slices.  We used our favorite crinkle knife to make these more fun for Molly to eat.

Our fruit side is red globe grapes.  They are very crunchy and sweet.  Plus, they are super juicy.

Finally, our fun Friday treat is some Halloween candy.  We decided to mix it up a little bit and take care of tart and chocolate.  We have Sweet Tarts and Whoppers, the best of both worlds.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mom is Sick

Mom (and Dads) aren't supposed to get sick.  We are supposed to be invincible to germs, resistant to lack of sleep and be able to function no matter what.  This Mom is having some issues with that.  The extra hour that we got on Sunday resulted in less sleep at our house because Molly's little brother is only two and doesn't know how to read a clock.  I also have some sort of swollen gland, upper respiratory thingy going on and it is wiping me out.

I decided to go ahead and head out to Mojo Running tonight for a training run, despite my ickiness.  Speaking of icky, it was raining and cold during our run.  It was one of those times when I really questioned whether or not this whole running this was for me.  Well, it definitely is.  I felt SO much better after the run.  It helped me clear my head, work my body out and actually got my lungs working.  I may be saying something different tomorrow but as of now, it really helped me.

On my way home, I got a text from Molly's Daddy asking if Molly could buy her lunch tomorrow.  They are having baked tortilla chips with taco meat.  We are big taco fans here and since I am really tired I gave her the go ahead to buy tomorrow.

ps - Molly said that the soup was fantastic and she can't wait to see what things will now be available for her to eat since she can have hot food now.  I have to admit, I'm pretty excited too!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Our whole family is really big into soups.  I feel like my large stock pot may wear out by the end of the winter just about every year.  Whether it be chili, vegetable or chicken noodle, there always seems to be something simmering on the stove.

This fall, we've really be huge fans of homemade chicken noodle soup (recipe below).  Molly's Daddy and I especially enjoy it after a run in the colder weather.  Something about warm soup when your body is warm on the inside and cold on the outside just gets everything back to a happy warm fuzzy feeling.  We also enjoy this hearty soup before a run because it has a great balance of carbs, protein and vegetables.  This too is why we think that it is a great addition to Molly's lunch.  We purchased a small thermos for her so that she can enjoy some warm things this winter.  We also purchased a new lunch box carrier from Laptop Lunches that will house her current bento box, her water bottle and the new thermos.
Our main entree is homemade chicken noodle soup.  As stated above, it has a great combination of carbs, protein and vegetables so an all over great lunch.  (recipe below)  We are serving this with some old fashioned Club crackers

Our vegetable side is in the soup.  This recipe is chock full of onions, carrots and celery.  Don't tell Molly about the onions though, she's not a fan.  But she can't get enough of this soup.

Our fruit side is half of a banana.  Tip - if you leave the banana in the peel, only the end will turn brown and the kids don't seem to mind it.  We used our heart shaped micro cookie cutter to make light little imprints on the peel by pressing down very gently, not piercing the skin.  They are hard to see now but the should brown a little bit by lunch tomorrow.

Our dairy side is a Castle Wood Colby Jack Cheese Stick.  Molly asked for this in case she has any crackers left since cheese and crackers go so well together.

Finally, our dessert is strawberry yogurt.  We didn't fill it quite as far as we normally do because Molly said that the soup will probably fill her up.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

1 large onion, diced
4-5 spears of celery in bite sized pieces
3 cups of carrots in bite sized pieces (nickled)
Salt and Pepper to taste

 - Add these to a large stock pot with a little bit of olive oil and saute on medium/low heat until the onions are translucent.

1 grocery store rotisserie chicken
(pull all the meat you can from the chicken and discard the skin and bones or keep them to make stock)
1 TBSP poultry seasoning
2 - 48oz. boxes of chicken broth + 2 cups water
1 bag Reames Frozen Homestyle Egg Noodles

 - Add the meat from the chicken and the poultry seasoning to the vegetables just to warm the chicken then add the chicken broth and water.  Bring to a boil.  Add the frozen Reames Noodles, return to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, simmer for 10-15 minutes then serve.

*This recipe freezes well.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fun Friday

Why is it when the kids are sick, the week seems to drag on?  Molly was sick on Monday and it seems to have made this week take forever.  I was afraid that Friday wouldn't come.  I'm hoping that next week will seem short because, well, it is.  We have Monday and Tuesday off for parent/teacher conferences.  Until then, we have a Fun Friday Lunch!
Our main entree is tortellini pasta salad.  We cooked some Trader Joe's fresh cheese tortellini, cooled it down and added black olives, hard salami pieces, orange peppers and light Italian dressing.  This is one of Molly's absolute favorites.  It's also a great way to add some extra veggies to her lunch.

Our vegetable side is golden tomatoes.  Molly likes these because they are less acidic than red tomatoes.  They are also lighter in flavor and have a nice sweetness.

Our fruit side is sliced strawberries.  We've been going through strawberries at rapid speeds here in our house.  We're okay with that because the kids are asking for them instead of Halloween Candy.

Our dairy side is a Castle Wood Colby Jack cheese stick.  This is one of the best ways to add bulk to Molly's lunch and she really enjoys them.

Finally, our Fun Friday treat is a little bit of that Halloween candy that we were just talking about.  A small bag of M&Ms and a small Nestles Crunch.  We think that Molly will be very pleased with our selection for her.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Running Lunch

I started a Couch to 5K training group this past Sunday and tonight was our first run.  It was so much fun!  I roped three of my friends in so that they can see how awesome running really is.  You might ask why I am doing this training since I've already run in several 5Ks and on a relay team at the Pittsburgh Marathon last year.  Answer: I want to learn more about this sport that I have learned to love.  I want to make sure that I'm doing it right and I want to get tips to help me become a better athlete.  I also want to be a positive face in this crowd.  I am an overweight asthmatic 30-something mother of three.  If I can do it, anyone can.

I always hated running because "I couldn't do it" because I was too heavy or because my breathing was bad, etc.  But, you know what?  I CAN do it and now I run on a very regular basis.  I don't consider myself a runner, I consider myself a glorified jogger but I strive to be a runner someday.  I've been working on losing weight, well most of my life (gotta get that thyroid to start working with me and keep working) and I train no matter what the weather or the hills around my house.

I do this to get out of my house, BY MYSELF!  I am lost in my own thoughts and my only worry is getting from point A to point B.  I have no kids yelling "MOM!" at me.  And I feel fantastic after I get back.

I have to say that my husband is an incredible support in all of this.  He's a runner too and we are always working in our training runs so that each of us has equal time.  I also get great support from my friends and family who are cheering me on.  Finally, the support of all of the "Peeps" at Mojo Running & Multisport is so wonderful.  It is a team that I am proud to be on.

Okay, stepping off of my soapbox and onto the kitchen floor to whip up Molly's Lunch!
Our main entree is a ham and cheese sandwich.  We used a multi-grain roll from ALDI, then added ham, pepper cheese and mustard.  Molly's Grammy was nice enough to share the delicious multi-grain rolls with us so we had to add them to Molly's lunch right away.

Our vegetable side is carrot sticks.  Nice and simple and a favorite of Molly's recently.

Our fruit side is a kiwi.  Not as cool as Frankenkiwi, but still just as yummy!

Our dairy side is a Castle Wood Colby Jack Cheese Stick.  Molly requested that this be added just in case she is really hungry tomorrow.  She's definitely feeling better. ☺

Finally, our dessert is Low Fat Strawberry Yogurt.  This too was a request of Molly's and we were happy to give it to her.  She and her siblings are pretty much over the Halloween candy (thank goodness) and are now asking for fruit, yogurt and graham crackers at dessert time.  I think our influence is rubbing off on them.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Feeling Much Better

It must have been a 24 hour thing that Molly had, thank goodness.  Unfortunately, she shared it with the rest of us but the fact that it was only 24 hours for her is very comforting to me.  Today, Molly went to school and ate her Halloween Lunch from yesterday.  She got rave reviews from her friends and enjoyed all of it.

I was asked by another parent whether or not I show Molly the lunches before school and most of the time I do.  I never know what it will look like by the time it has sat in the refrigerator all night, commuted to school and sat in Molly's locker until the lunch period.  I want her to see what they are supposed to look like.  But there are sometimes that I just tell her what is in the box and surprise her with a little something extra.

Tomorrow, Molly has decided to buy her lunch because she likes what they are serving.  This is fine with Mama since two of my three kids are under the weather and I'm not feeling 100%.