A Millie Favorite

A Millie Favorite

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Storm Shelter Recipes

April can bring about some of the most beautiful flowers, weather and all around good feelings. However, it can also bring about rain, tornadoes and even floods. What to do with your kids and mealtime when you are under strong weather conditions? I found out first hand last night.

I come home from what was one of the more stressful days of this past year to find on the television that we are under a tornado warning! Does this tornado have to happen during dinner time? I quickly get the lights, water and pillows ready in the enclosed hallway so we can hunker-down and ride out the storm. There is just one problem, this storm does not seem to end! Actually, it is still going on right now as I sit here and write!

Of course for fast and easy food and snack options when in a situation like this, run to your pantry and just grab some crackers and nuts to tide you over. But what if I were to make "stormy weather" meal options ready to go? It is just an idea I had, as my daughter was sitting in the middle of the hallway, sans her dinner last night.

If you know storms are likely for the week a head, especially big spring storms why not make a few ready to eat meals for your family? I am all about prep work in the beginning so I can save time in the end.

First, check your weather report for the week ahead. If there seems to be a weather pattern developing, then go ahead and think out some options for storm ready meals.

Second, make sure you have proper storage containers for the meals.

Third, go a head and prep the meals for your family according to how many family members you may have.

Here are some of my ideas for ready to eat, healthy meals that will satisfy while under crazy weather condition.


Hummus, Pita and Carrot Sticks: 

  • One can chickpeas, drained and washed. 
  • One tbs of good olive oil 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • The juice of one lemon
  •  Sesame seed oil or sesame seeds 
Bring the chickpeas to a boil, let stand for about five minutes after ending the boil. Drain the cooked chickpeas and then place back into pot. Add the other ingredients and then put into a food processor to be blended into a nice hummus dip. Of course, feel free to buy the prepackaged hummus, if you want. 

Place the hummus into one container and the pita slices and carrot sticks in another. Store in fridge. 

Smoked Salmon and Bagel Chips, with Dill Dipping Sauce:
  • One cup of sour cream
  • One tsp of dill
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
Mix the above ingredients until a nice creamy dill sauce if formed. Store in small container. Have your smoked salmon in its own package and a bag of bagel chips ready to go. This meal is great for keeping energy levels good while in a tough situation. 

Chocolate Cake Raspberry Cookie Sandwiches: 
  • One box of good chocolate cake mix OR feel free to use your own cake recipe here. 
  • One jar of delicious raspberry jam
  • One box of creme cheese
Follow the cake instructions on the box, use an 8 or 12 inch baking sheet. When the cake has cooled you can then go in and cut small square at 1-2 inches a piece. Place to the side and then start the assembly process. One on cake square add the cream cheese and then the jam on top. It has to be in this order or it will become a mess. Then place the second square on top and press down to make a nice little desert sandwich. If you wrap the cake sandwiches in plastic wrap then they will become more compressed and easier to serve in a storm. Place in the fridge to chill. 

Now, if no storms come your way and you have made all of this food I suggest taking it and having a picnic outside! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Children Eat More Veggies from Farm Stands!

One of my favorite expressions of spring, would be the local farm stands and markets opening up. There is simply nothing like it. The amazing sense of community, socialization and fresh air can never be duplicated in a grocery store. No, the farmer's market creates an atmosphere that is unique yet familiar.

"Ya, the produce is really pretty, but it goes bad by the end of the week."

Produce is probably the number one thing that you can buy at the farmer's market. Of course, after all the word farm is in the title. Most of these vendors do not use chemical treatments in order to keep the food fresher longer. So while yes, there may be more of a chance of produce gone bad in your kitchen, if you do some simple planning, you will not run into this problem. 

Here are some of my very easy, yet effective ways you can get all your delicious, colorful produce to stay fresher longer. 
  • PLANNING PLANNING PLANNING! Make a list before you hit up the stands. In this modern era of technology, you can even check out most markets online to see the what vendors have which produce. Pretty cool if you ask me. Check it out if you can and make a list OR weekly menu for your household. Only go with enough cash to buy the things you need and a little for a good cup of coffee and scone. 
  • Okay, you have your meals planned out for the week, the produce, eggs, meat, milk and spices are bought (at a cheaper cost I may add). Will they make it to the end of the week? Yes! When you get home from the market, clear off your counter space, get your good cutting board out and get to work. It take only a few minutes to do produce prep and the rewards are amazing! 
  • Cut your fresh strawberries into cubes and throw the tops in the compost. This saves a good couple of days of enjoyment on these sweet berries. Salad greens need to be washed and placed into ziplock bags. Apples, pears and squash need to be kept in a cool dry climate. Cleaning, prepping and storing will make that buck stretch even further. 
Finally, bring your kids along to the market. When I was a kid, Saturday mornings in the square (Fayetteville, AR) was something that I always looked forward too. I took my small allowance and picked out fruits, veggies, soaps etc... for myself. If it was food, I took it home with care and was beaming with pride that I bough food for myself! This allows for children to become part of the shopping experience without the dread of the grocery store (to which I was NOT a fan of). 

Create a menu with your kids and then take the grocery list to the market. Let them pick out the asparagus or tomatoes. Children will be more likely to eat their veggies if they had a hand in picking it out. It is an all-inclusive experience. Trust me, you will have a blast-in-a-half with your family and it will become a weekly tradition. 

Finally, on a small side note: Please make sure you drop a couple of dollars in the local markets fund. A little goes a long way to bring the freshest, prettiest most sustainable food around. Let us all do our part to ensure a good farmer's market future. 


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Eat outside and have some fun!

Spring! I just can't say enough about this season. There is something about the fresh air and everything in bloom. It is nice outside without the oppressive summer sun beating down on you. People in my neighborhood are out walking their dogs, kids are playing and there is a sense of coming together as a community and saying hi after a long and very snowy winter.

I live in Memphis and one of the most amazing things that we get to have is a unique "patio" culture. Almost every restaurant in the city has to have some sort of outside seating. As soon as we hit temps in the 60's, there are lines just have a chance to sit and eat (or drink) outside. It is one of my favorite things about living here.

As I walk around the bistros, cafes and restaurants in my neighborhood, I like to watch everyone sitting outside. There is never a person with a frown or scowl on their face. In fact, everyone is loud and smiling! This unique and amazing part of living in my hometown has led me to think about how we all can create a patio culture for our families.

The weather is nice, so let's eat outside! Create your own patio night for your kids. Wash off your grill, make a big salad and some iced tea and have a night of fun... OUTSIDE! This is such a great way to get your kids outdoors, have a good conversation and really just enjoy your family. Like I said, I have never seen anyone on those patios upset. There is just something about being outside and having a cool drink that makes us all happy.


My favorite outdoor recipes:

Mango Salad

  • One soften mango cubed
  • Butter lettuce (or your favorite greens)
  • Goat cheese 
Wash your lettuce and combine in a beautiful salad bowl. 

Shrimp and red pepper kabobs 
  • Fresh, peeled and devained shrimp
  • Red pepper sliced thick
  • Pineapple cubes 
Season the shrimp with lime, salt and pepper. Place on grill-ready kabob spits in the oder that you choose. Place on the grill till the shrimp is nice and dark pink in color. Serve with a little cilantro sprinkle over the kabob. 

Fresh berries and mint
  • Half pint of raspberries
  • Half pint of blueberries 
  • Half pint of blackberries 
  • Half pint of strawberries, sliced in halves. 
Mix in a bowl with 1/4 cup of sugar and chopped fresh mint. It is important to have fresh mint for this recipe. Let it combine in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Quick Lunch for Parents

I first have to state that I have struggled tonight to write this blog entry. I have a bunch of ideas that stem from my life and family, but for some reason they all got jumbled up. I guess this can happen from time-to-time. I was talking to my friend Kirk on Facebook chat about how I could not write or get my thoughts together and he suggested that I write about what I make for lunch every day. Which actually was a pretty good idea, so here it goes. 

I think breakfast and dinner can be a time for creativity and imagination for adults. Lunch boxes for kids hold the same sensibility. However, a meal for a busy parent in the middle of the day can sometimes be difficult to make pretty and interesting. We resort to fast food, sandwich boards or even just a granola bar. For me I discovered an extremely quick, healthy and beautiful lunch that will satisfy your belly, while keeping you trim in the waist but not in the wallet. 

Veggie burger wraps

  • Veggie burger patty (any brand OR homemade)
  • Whole wheat tortilla 
  • Cucumber sliced thinly for crunch
  • Sliced red bell pepper
  • Spinach
  • Homemade dill sauce (Sour cream, lemon juice, dill weed)
I keep a tone of veggies in the fridge that I slice up and put in baggies. I take them out when I want a quick snack or for my veggie burger wraps. It usually takes me about five minutes to prepare and serve. The trick here is having your veggies already cut up for the week. But even if you don't do that, it is still super fast and easy. Not to mention super healthy !