Friday, May 28, 2010

Mmmm...ushrooms + onions + freezer = quick and easy breakfast

The incredible, edible egg.  I have learned a lot in the past couple of weeks about eggs thanks to a wicked-smart and successful friend of mine who is a corporate buyer in grocery at a shall-remain-unnamed retail giant.  My advice to everyone is to do some research and find out for yourself why you should or shouldn't buy cage free eggs.

Short story: cage free is probably not exactly what you picture!  And unless you are willing to go vegan, which I am currently not, you may find yourself faced with a moral dilemma.....I love eggs, and I love lots and lots of products and foods that contain eggs, but I don't love YouTube videos that have raised the curtain for me on the sad truth that is the egg industry.....rats.  My solution?  Buy local!  I haven't yet found a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in my area that delivers egg shares, but locally produced eggs are available weekly throughout the spring and summer at farmer's markets.  By no means am I claiming to stop buying grocery eggs altogether nor am I going to be leading a movement to convince all Americans to do so, but I like supporting my local farmers anyway, and I just KNOW that these happy local chickens will make eggs that will taste better too......or at least, I won't be re-playing those scarring YouTube videos in my head as I bite into my cheesy skillet scrambler on Sunday mornings.

But I digress.  There is a cooking tip hidden in this post somewhere, I promise.  B.R. (that's my husband) LOVES eggs for breakfast and has an affinity for perfecting the art of omelette making.  However he also has an affinity for instant gratification and doesn't love nor does he often have the time to labor over the fixings for said omelette.

Enter the Schwan's man and the discovery of pre-sliced, pre-oiled, pre-pared and frozen mushrooms and onions.  For MONTHS the Schwan's man delivered this precious bag of goodies to our house, along with other items that I didn't want to buy but felt like I should to make the trip worth his while, until one day I flipped the bag over and looked at the long and hard-to-pronounce ingredient list.  Ick.  Suddenly it dawned on me that I could re-create this concoction on my Oprah would say, I had an "a-ha" moment.  And how silly did I feel!  $4.99 for a pound of mushrooms and onions and chemicals and additives.  Tsk, tsk.

So here's what I do now, fellow egg lovers, stir fry lovers, and general lovers of sauteed vegetables.  Get ready to get schooled in omelettes-for-the-busy:

1.  I buy the pack of pre-sliced and washed mushrooms, grab a couple of big fat onions, and chop it all up into egg-friendly size.
2.  In a big bowl, mix it all together with some olive oil (or melted butter if that's your cup of tea, or a mix of the two.)
3.  Spread the mixture over a cookie sheet in a single layer.
4.  Freeze overnight or for several hours.  Then use a spatula to transfer to a freezer bag or other freezable container.  (This process prevents the mushrooms/onions from sticking to each other too much so you can take what you need easily without worrying about big chunks sticking together.)
When you're ready to cook, no need to thaw, just toss any amount into a skillet and you shouldn't even need to add more oil.

I now use the same concept for ham....I just ask at the deli counter for thick slices of ham for eggs and then cube it when I get home, faux "flash-freeze" and transfer to a freezer bag.  You could easily add other vegetables to the mix- red, green, yellow peppers would be great.  Just avoid anything with too high a water content or things could get mushy.  I prefer to use plastic freezer bags and lay them flat in the freezer- takes up very little precious freezer space.  When a bag is empty I rinse it out and leave it on the counter to remind me it's time to restock, then reuse the bag for the next batch.  (I may not be the greenest girl on the web, but I'm suburb-green.  Maybe seafoam?)

It strikes me as kind of silly that explaining this simple idea requires so many steps.  (Maybe "requires" is used loosely here....I can be somewhat long-winded.)  But anyway- perhaps B.R. is too easy to please, but this is something really easy for me to do that is truly appreciated by my hard-working man :)  I actually hope that he doesn't read this post and discover my little secret.  Better that he picture me slaving over the kitchen counter as he pops that first bite in his mouth in the mornings.

Any time-saving tips to share?  Would love new ideas!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Easy project for the under-twos

I am great at doing projects with Tinkerbell (who will be 4 in August) but usually either intentionally neglect The Bear (who will be 2 in August) by waiting until she's napping for "craft time" or scaling down crafts for her very much on a whim.  So last week when Tinkerbell was at preschool, the little girls and I had craft time with no big sister around and they had so much fun.  (Sidenote- I did intend that to be plural- I babysit a few days a week for friends of ours who have a 5 month old boy and 2 year old girl.  It is fun and a small enough commitment that the experience has actually encouraged me to entertain the thought of having more kids- and I thought for sure it would do the opposite....backfire!)
Unfortunately since I was switch-tasking with the baby, I didn't take many pictures but we did several "hand" projects.....I traced the girls' hands, cut them out, and then helped put together some different spring scenes.  The girls did the coloring and GLUING which always seems to be a big hit with the under two set.  We made one into a bird, one into a flower, and one into a butterfly.  They did a great job! 

I personally liked the butterfly scene the best because we didn't glue the wings down so the butterfly could flap them and fly (and yes, this did take some coaxing (coercion?) on my part!)  This is also a great thing to do with little kids if you remember to date it because it is a fun record of their little hands.  Next week if I am feeling ambitious I am hoping to break out the paint with the little ones and make some hand/footprint art perhaps for Father's Day gifts??  Stay tuned!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Blueberry Muffins and a Moose

Yesterday Tinkerbell wanted to read "If You Give a Moose a Muffin" of the well-known "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" series by Laura Joffe Numeroff.  So we read it.  And read it.  And read it.  And read it.  Each time she laughed and laughed at the silly things the moose was doing.  So then we decided to make some muffins ourselves, using this fantastically unhealthy recipe from Colleen at All Recipes. (although we skipped the topping this time but I can testify that it is DELICIOUS...)


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (I substitute apple sauce)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
  2. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
  3. To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

While they were baking we read the book another 4 times, and when the timer went off we tested a few and then decided to share some with our neighbors.  When we were walking out of the house to deliver them, Tinkerbell was holding the door open for me and announced "Here.....comes.....Big MAMA!"  Hmmmm....perhaps should have reconsidered the fourth mini-muffin.  Mental note to do Level 3 with Jillian later.

Finally, in attempt to keep the momentum going and I whipped up a little muffin "homework".  I drew some muffins w/numbers underneath them and Tinkerbell drew in the corresponding number of blueberries.  So simple, but she LOVED it. 

I am thinking that with a little advance preparation I could try to start following in the footsteps of the many amazing mom bloggers out there who everyday have themed activities that inspire, educate and delight their children.  Stay tuned, I'm a work in progress. 

And as an aside, here is a picture of The Bear at meal time.  One would think she was fighting over food with 6 siblings instead of one sister who eats like a bird.  I guess she just wants to make sure no one takes anything away from her before she's good and ready.