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PostHeaderIcon As your baby grows, so does the diet!

  Written By: ElleC

It’s an exciting time in your life and the life of your baby!

All sorts of milestones like laughing make the time fly and so much more fun. Maybe little one is rolling over now and enjoying the new mobility, or trying to sit up, chattering away all the time and smiling. (I know my little man is.)

Little ones digestive system is developing, too! At around 4-6 months, your infant may be ready for some solid foods in addition to breast milk or formula.  Your baby’s pediatrician will probably suggest starting him/her with iron-fortified rice cereal or other high iron foods. And before you know it little one will be moving on to other types of pureed veggies and fruits. My little one is already getting rice in his formula which helps him stay full longer (in my opinion).
Continue reading “As your baby grows, so does the diet!” »

PostHeaderIcon Starting Baby on Solid Foods

  Written By: Guest Blogger

When your baby is growing, every day seems to hold new milestones and new adventures.  When she sees you and smiles; when she rolls over; when she reaches for objects; when she can hold a toy in her hand.  Surely no other parent ever had such an accomplished, amazing child as you do!

Continue reading “Starting Baby on Solid Foods” »

PostHeaderIcon Good Food & Bad Food When Pregnant

  Written By: Guest Blogger

VegtablesPregnancy is a trying time in any woman’s life as she has to take extra care of not only herself, but of a new life that is completely dependent on her for growth, development and support. What you eat during pregnancy has a huge impact on the health of your soon to be born baby, which is why you should know which foods you should incorporate into your diet, and which foods you should eliminate entirely when you are pregnant.

Continue reading “Good Food & Bad Food When Pregnant” »

PostHeaderIcon My Family’s Healthier Diet

  Written By: Melainie

As I mentioned in the New Year’s resolutions post, I plan to incorporate healthy changes in my life and that includes some tweaks to my family’s diet. We eat pretty healthy most of the time but there are some areas that need improving. I would like to encourage you to jump on this healthy eating bandwagon with me, if you are up to it.

Healthy Diet Goals:

healthy diet changes1. Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into our meals. I have been buying more fresh fruits and vegetables because when I buy them fresh, I feel the need to eat them before they go bad. I want my baby to love fruits and vegetables, so I am trying to introduce a good variety of them into her diet.

2. Consume more protein and less simple sugar. One of the best ways for me to get more protein is by eating cottage cheese with pineapple as a snack during the day,since a half cup of cottage cheese has 11grams of protein. I am also trying to drink a glass of milk a day for protein and calcium, and eating more eggs (the best kind are free range).

*According to recent scientific studies, most Americans do not get enough protein from our high carbohydrate diets. Eating plenty of protein helps build lean muscle which can help burn off fat. Also, it makes you feel better. Type 2 Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions here in the U.S., and one of the ways to prevent it from getting worse is by cutting down on simple sugars while increasing our protein intake.*

3. DRINK WATER! If I forget to drink enough water and I get dehydrated, I develop horrible headaches which occasionally turn into migraines. Dehydration can also cause poor memory function, irritability, and various aches and pains. I am trying to drink water more regularly throughout the day and encouraging my family to drink water too.

healthier diet4. Cut down on processed foods and excess preservatives. I am tired of preparing packaged box meals with unknown ingredients and a slew of preservatives in them. I have also stopped buying snack cakes and “questionable” hot dogs. I have been encouraging my husband to cut down his soda intake too.

It is not easy to change bad eating habits, especially when they taste so good. I have never loved to cook and prefer to take shortcuts whenever possible. So, I am trying to stop buying prepared meals with little nutritional value and make wholesome, well-rounded meals for my family instead. If you want more tips on how to make the transition toward healthier eating habits, then I highly recommend reading Fit Moms for Life, which also includes some great recipes and meal plans.

Now it’s time for me to prepare some lunch: baked chicken with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli and carrots, all made from scratch. Do you have any goals for eating healthier this year? What do you think of my family’s new diet plan? I would lover to hear your advice or suggestions.

PostHeaderIcon Guest Post: 9 Ornate Christmas Desserts from Easy to Expert

  Written By: Guest Blogger

{The following is a wonderful guest post by the budding food writer, Sue Colburn. These recipes will be great for homemade Christmas gifts. Thanks again Sue, for this delicious article!}
christmas dessert recipes guest

9 Ornate Christmas Desserts from Easy to Expert

Have a blast making these oh-so-divine Christmas cookies, cakes and other sweet treats that suit any skill level.

Whoever said a fresh start begins on January 1? When it comes to making Christmas desserts, try a new and improved recipe—something that takes you out of your holiday comfort zone. Make Christmas cookie balls instead of sugar cookies; add some peppermint flavoring to a plain cheesecake; and dress up traditional cupcakes using holiday decorations. No matter your skill set in the kitchen, there are many ways to cook outside the box this holiday season—all you need are a few ingredients and a lot of Christmas cheer!

The Easy Christmas Desserts

With all the obligations that accompany the holidays, not everyone has time to fiddle with making over-the-top treats. And let’s face it: some people just don’t have the knack for baking. If your ability-to-bake level is somewhere between Dessert Take-Out and Easy-Bake Oven, the following recipes are right up your alley. In fact, round up the kids—these Christmas desserts are easy and fun for the whole fam!

1) Oreo Snowman Cookie Balls

Easy Christmas DessertsServings: 48

What You Need:
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
1 pkg. (16.6 oz.) Oreo Cookies, finely crushed
2 pkg. (8 squares each) Baker’s White Chocolate, melted
1 tsp. black decorating gel
2 tsp. orange decorating icing

 How It’s Done:
Mix cream cheese cookie crumbs until well blended.
Shape into 48 (1-inch) balls. Freeze 10 minutes. Dip balls in melted chocolate; place in single layer in shallow waxed paper-lined pan. Decorate with remaining ingredients to resemble snowmen.
Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.

2) Festive Mint Thins

Easy Christmas Desserts

Servings: 12

What You Need:
1 pkg. (8 squares) Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted, slightly cooled
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
1 sleeve Ritz Crackers (36 crackers)
1 candy cane (6 inch), crushed

How It’s Done:
Mix chocolate and extract.
Dip crackers in chocolate mixture, turning to completely coat each cracker. Carefully scrape off excess chocolate. Place crackers in single layer on waxed paper-covered baking sheets; sprinkle with crushed candy.
Refrigerate 30 minutes or until chocolate is firm.

3) Holiday Poke Cupcakes

Easy Christmas Desserts

Servings: 24

What You Need:
1 pkg. (2-layer size) white cake mix
1 cup boiling water
1 pkg. (3 oz.) JELL-O Gelatin, any red flavor
1 tub (8 oz.) Cool Whip Whipped Topping, thawed
Red or green food coloring
Suggested decorations: colored sugar, colored sprinkles, crushed candy canes and/or holiday marshmallows

How It’s Done:
Prepare cake batter and bake as directed for cupcakes. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Pierce tops with fork.
Add boiling water to gelatin mix; stir 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Spoon over cupcakes. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Remove from pans.
Tint Cool Whip with food coloring; spread onto cupcakes. Decorate as desired.

The Intermediate Christmas Desserts

So your baking skills are somewhere in the middle of super cinch and ridiculously difficult—that’s no problemo! Look at it this way: there has to be a middle class in every group, including baking. If you’re looking for middle-of-the-road recipes, these Christmas desserts will provide just enough challenge without causing frustration. Sweet!

4) Merry Cherry Dessert

Christmas Dessert

Servings: 18

What You Need:
1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling, divided
1-1/2 cups boiling water
1 pkg. (6 oz.) JELL-O Cherry Flavor Gelatin
1-1/2 cups cold water
4 cups angel food cake cubes
2 pkg. (3.4 oz. each) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
3 cups cold milk
1 tub (8 oz.) Cool Whip Whipped Topping, thawed, divided

How It’s Done:
Reserve 1/3 cup cherry pie filling for garnish; set aside. Add boiling water to gelatin mix in large bowl; stir at least 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Stir in cold water and remaining cherry pie filling. Refrigerate 45 minutes or until slightly thickened.
Place cake cubes in 3-qt. serving bowl; cover with gelatin mixture. Refrigerate 45 minutes or until gelatin layer is set but not firm.
Beat pudding mixes and milk in large bowl with whisk 2 minutes. Stir in 2 cups Cool Whip; spoon over gelatin layer in bowl. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm. Top with remaining Cool Whip and reserved cherry pie filling.

5) Angelic Apple-Cranberry Pie

Delicious Christmas Desserts

Servings: 8

What You Need:
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 ready-to-use refrigerated pie crust (1/2 of 15-oz. pkg.)
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 Golden Delicious apples (1 lb.)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

How It’s Done:
Heat oven to 425ºF.
Bring cranberries, water and 6 Tbsp. sugar to boil in small saucepan on medium-high heat; simmer on low heat 8 to 10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.
Place pie crust in 9-inch pie plate, pleating edge as necessary to fit. Beat cream cheese, 1/4 cup of the remaining sugar, egg and vanilla in bowl with mixer until well blended; spread onto bottom of crust. Cover with cranberry sauce.
Peel apples; cut in half and remove cores. Place, cut-sides down, on cutting board; cut into thin slices, keeping slices for each apple half intact. Arrange over pie. Mix remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over apples.
Bake 28 to 30 minutes or until apples are tender and crust is golden brown.

6) Winter Wonderland White Chocolate-Peppermint Cheesecake

Yummy Christmas Desserts

Servings: 16

What You Need:
1-1/2 cups Honey Maid Graham Cracker Crumbs
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 pkg. (8 oz. each) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
1 cup sour cream
4 squares Baker’s White Chocolate, melted
4 eggs
1 cup thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping
16 miniature candy canes

How It’s Done:
Heat oven to 325°F.
Line 13×9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides. Mix graham crumbs, 3 Tbsp. sugar and butter; press onto bottom of pan. Bake 10 minutes.
Beat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and extract in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Add sour cream and chocolate; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust.
Bake 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 4 hours. Use foil handles to lift cheesecake from pan before cutting to serve. Top each piece with a dollop of Cool Whip and candy cane.

The Show Stoppers

Pull out the red carpet and let’s get glamorous—it’s showtime! These advanced-level recipes include the festive bells and whistles of baking. In other words, you need to know your way around the kitchen, blindfolded. The following Christmas cakes are so incredibly ornate that they may be better served as holiday decorations. Move over Julia Child—it’s time for [Your Name Here] to take center stage.

7) Very Vanilla Snowflake Cake

Fancy Christmas Desserts

Servings: 16

What You Need:
1 pkg. (2-layer size) yellow cake mix
2 pkg.  (3.4 oz. each) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding, divided
6 squares Baker’s White Chocolate
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup cold milk
1 tub (8 oz.) Cool Whip Whipped Topping, thawed
1/4 cup raspberry jam, warmed, strained

How It’s Done:
Heat oven to 350ºF.
Prepare cake batter and bake as directed on package for 2 (9-inch) round layers, blending 1 pkg. dry pudding mix into batter before pouring into prepared pans. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes; invert onto wire racks. Gently remove pans; cool cakes completely.
Meanwhile, draw 3 or 4 snowflake shapes on paper, ranging in size from 1 to 3 inches in diameter. Place on tray; cover with waxed paper. Melt chocolate as directed on package; cool 5 minutes. Spoon into small resealable plastic bag; cut small corner off bottom of bag. Trace over snowflake patterns with chocolate, rearranging patterns as needed to make a total of 35 chocolate snowflakes. Freeze 10 minutes or until chocolate is firm. Carefully transfer snowflakes to plate; refrigerate until ready to use.
Beat remaining dry pudding mix, sugar and milk in large bowl with whisk 2 minutes. Stir in Cool Whip. Place 1 cake layer on plate; spread with jam, then 1/3 of the pudding mixture. Cover with remaining cake layer. Frost top and side of cake with remaining pudding mixture. Decorate with chocolate snowflakes. Keep refrigerated.

8 ) ‘Tis the Season Starlight Mint Cake

Christmas Desserts

Servings: 16

What You Need:
1 pkg. (2-layer size) white cake mix
1 cup boiling water
1 pkg. (3 oz.) JELL-O Cherry Flavor Gelatin
28 starlight mints, divided
3 squares Baker’s White Chocolate, melted
2 Tbsp. sour cream
2 drops red food coloring
2 cups thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping

How It’s Done:
Prepare cake batter and bake as directed on package for 2 (9-inch) round cake layers. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes. Pierce cakes with large fork at 1/2-inch intervals. Add boiling water to gelatin mix; stir 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Pour over cakes. Refrigerate 3 hours.
Heat oven to 350ºF. Reserve 5 mints for later use. Place 12 of the remaining mints, about 4 inches apart, on parchment paper-covered baking sheet. Bake 5 minutes or until mints are melted and each spreads out to 1-1/2- to 2-inch circle. Remove from oven; cool completely before removing from parchment paper. Meanwhile, repeat with remaining 11 mints.
Blend 5 reserved mints in blender until finely crushed; place in small bowl. Stir in melted chocolate, sour cream and food coloring.
Dip bottom of 1 cake pan in warm water 10 seconds; unmold onto serving plate. Spread cake with chocolate mixture. Unmold second cake layer; place on first layer. Frost with Cool Whip. Decorate with melted mints. Keep refrigerated.

9) Totally Fabulous Turtle Cake

Christmas Cakes

Servings: 16

What You Need:
1 tub (8 oz.) Cool Whip Whipped Topping (Do not thaw.)
1 pkg. (2-layer size) devil’s food cake mix
1 pkg. (3.9 oz.) JELL-O Chocolate Instant Pudding
38 Kraft Caramels
1-1/2 Tbsp. water
6 oz. (3/4 of 8-oz. pkg.) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
5 squares Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate, divided
16 Nilla Wafers
16 Planters Pecan Halves

How It’s Done:
Spoon half the Cool Whip into bowl; refrigerate to thaw. Return remaining Cool Whip to freezer. Prepare cake batter and bake as directed on package for 2 (9-inch) round layers, adding dry pudding mix to cake mix before mixing with liquid ingredients. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes; invert onto wire racks. Remove pans. Cool cakes completely.
Meanwhile, microwave caramels and water in microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1-1/2 minutes or until smooth, stirring every 45 seconds. Cool slightly.
Beat cream cheese in large bowl with mixer until creamy. Add caramel sauce; mix well. Blend in thawed Cool Whip. Stack cake layers on plate, filling and frosting top with cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Microwave frozen Cool Whip and 3 chocolate squares in microwaveable bowl 3 minutes or until well blended, stirring after each minute. Cool 10 minutes. Meanwhile, melt remaining chocolate squares as directed on package. Dip half of each wafer in chocolate; place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. Top with nuts. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Spread Cool Whip mixture onto top of cake. Garnish with wafers. Keep refrigerated.

About the Author:
Sue Colburn believes in new beginnings… For her “retirement” from teaching 7th grade Social Studies she set her sights on breaking into the Food Media industry. Just like she taught her students: “ain’t nothin to it, but to DO IT.” If you’d like a food article for your site please email her: SusanColburn@gmx.com. When not writing or cooking, Sue spends time with her 2 granddaughters, 3 children, 8 cats and her high-school sweetheart, who by the grace of God she also married.

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