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Handy and delicious? What else can a mom ask for when feeding her kids…plus its fun for the kids to eat! Check out this Mac ‘n Cheese Cupcake recipe.

Macaroni and Cheese Cupcakes Recipe

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound baked pasta (rotini, bowtie, or macaroni is perfect!)
  • 1/2 cup hot water, saved from the water you boiled your pasta in
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1 (8 oz.) package 1/3 less fat cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon onion salt
  • Ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the cream cheese and hot pasta water until softened.
  2. Whisk in the egg, then stir in the cheddar cheese, onion salt, and pepper.
  3. Spoon into muffin tins prepared with cupcake wrappers.
  4. Bake in an oven preheated to 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes or just until the tops of each ‘cupcake’ have been lightly browned.
  5. Serve warm and enjoy!

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It’s Thursday, the work week is drawing to a close, and you are probably EXHAUSTED. Forget ordering in Chinese food and make it yourself! Never cooked Chinese food before? Save some calories and a little cash with this DIY makeover of a popular Chinese takeout meal. Many Chinese recipes are quick, easy to make, or both. Some can be made with ingredients that are available at most local supermarkets, while others may require a trip to a Chinese/Asian market or using a substitute. Whether you’re new to Chinese cooking or just looking for a recipe that doesn’t require spending too much time in the kitchen, you’ll love this recipe! Skinless chicken breasts, a light batter, and just a bit of oil for pan-frying yield the right texture with less fat for “Lighter General Tso’s Chicken.”


Prep Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serving: 4 peeps 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/4 cups long-grain brown rice
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 pound snow peas, trimmed and halved crosswise
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated and peeled
  • 3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook rice according to package instructions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water until smooth. Add snow peas, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, and red-pepper flakes; toss to combine, and set aside.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together egg whites, remaining 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken, and toss to coat.
  3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Lift half the chicken from egg-white mixture (shaking off excess), and add to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining oil and chicken, and set aside (reserve skillet).
  4. Add snow-pea mixture to skillet. Cover; cook until snow peas are tender and sauce has thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Return chicken to skillet (with any juices); toss to coat. Serve with rice.

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Soda in a sippy cup? NOPE! But researchers say that when a baby’s bottle or cup is filled with juice — even the 100 percent, all-natural, no-sugar-added stuff — parents might as well be pouring Pepsi. Last night I was filling my nieces sippy bottles with “fresh cold” water as they like to call it (a.k.a. bottled cold water fresh out of the refrigerator)….was it a little over the top to pour super cold water in a bottle? Not really when I thought more about it.

Many people mistakenly believe that as long as you are drinking fruit juice, it’s healthy even though it’s sweet, but this is a dangerous misconception that is fueling the rising rates of weight gain, obesity, fatty liver disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes in the United States and other developed nations.

Consumption of sweetened beverages has been associated with the rise in childhood obesity. The USDA’s publication “Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010” estimates that obesity rate in children age 6 to 11 increased from 4 percent in the early 1970s to 20 percent in 2007 to 2008. Many factors have contributed to this disturbing statistic, including beverage intake. This reminds me of many children who drink juice over soda because parents might think its healthier, but isn’t it a lot of sugar? What happen to water? What’s really better – soda or juice?

Though healthy in moderation, juice essentially is water and sugar. In fact, a 12-ounce bottle of grape soda has 159 calories. The same amount of unsweetened grape juice packs 228 calories.

Quick Tips: Fruit Juice is NOT a Healthy Beverage

  • First off, most fruit drinks on the market should be more aptly named flavored sugar-water, because many contain next to no real juice.
  • If your fruit juice is actually labeled a “fruit drink,” “fruit beverage,” or “fruit cocktail,” it’s because it does not contain 100% juice.
  • In fact, according to the Discovery graphic, on average fruit drinks contain just 10% fruit juice!

Make Your Children Aware
As a parent, it’s important to talk to your kids not only about the health implications of drinking soda, but also those from drinking all sugary beverages such as fruit juice and fruit drinks.

  • Children’s exposure to TV ads for sugary drinks from Coca-Cola and Dr Pepper Snapple Group nearly doubled from 2008 to 2010.
  • MyCokeRewards.com was the most-visited sugary drink company website with 170,000 unique youth visitors per month (42,000 of whom were young children and 129,000 were teens); Capri Sun’s website was the second-most viewed site, attracting 35,000 young children and 35,000 teens per month.
  • Twenty-one sugary drink brands had YouTube channels in 2010 with more than 229 million views by June 2011, including 158 million views for the Red Bull channel alone.
  • Coca-Cola was the most popular of all brands on Facebook, with more than 30 million fans; Red Bull and Monster ranked 5th and 15th, with more than 20 million and 11 million fans, respectively.

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So What Should Your Child Drink? Kicking your kid’s soda habit starts at home.
Instead of soda or juice, offer your children water or low-fat or non-fat milk. As children age, their calcium requirements go up, not down, so your growing child should be drinking plenty of milk, too. To help your children cut back on sugary drinks, don’t stock them at home. This will help them understand that sodas are for special occasions, not a daily treat.

4 IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT JUICE VS. SODA 

Caloric Intake
In terms of calories, soda and juice contain similar amounts. A 1-cup serving of cola contains 91 calories, whereas the same size serving of orange juice contains 122 calories. In terms of fighting childhood obesity, neither beverage offers a clear advantage. Combined with reduced physical activity, consumption of either beverage sets up the scenario for weight gain.

Nutrient Intake
Juice offers a clear nutritional advantage over soda. A 1-cup serving of cola contains virtually no vitamins and only trace amounts of calcium, iron or phosphorus. A 1-cup serving of orange juice, on the other hand, provides over 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin C. It is also a good dietary source of potassium and vitamin A. Cola has 22 g of total sugar to orange juice’s 20 g. By consuming juice rather than soda, you have the satisfaction that you have chosen the healthier beverage.

Caffeine Content
One concern you may have with soda is its caffeine content. The actual amount varies with the type of soda. A cup of cola contains about 64 mg of caffeine. By contrast, coffee contains 60 to 150 mg. Consumption of caffeine can cause headaches and dizziness in some individuals. The risk also exists for caffeine toxicity. A study from University of Miami researchers, published in the March 2011 issue of “Pediatrics,” explains that high consumption of caffeine in children with existing health conditions such as diabetes or behavioral disorders can lead to adverse effects.

Obesity
Soft drink consumption has increased 300 percent from 1988 to 2008. A study from Wayne State University School of Nursing in Michigan, published in the February 2008 issue of the “Journal of the School of Nursing,” reports that between 56 to 85 percent of school-aged children consume at least one soft drink daily. The study also points out that for every soft drink consumed, the risk of obesity increases 1.6 times. Juice doesn’t fare much better. A study from the University of California, Davis, published in the November 2002 issue of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” found that fructose consumption was also associated with weight gain and insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. These findings suggest that consumption of all sugar-sweetened beverages should be limited in children.

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I am back! Sorry I have been M.I.A. the past few weeks – I just got married and was out of the country for a bit, but I am back and ready to send you my love with fun blog posts and (hopefully) fun ideas! Now that the sun is out, and the excitement of Memorial Day is approaching, why not have a picnic? I live in New York City with one of the most beautiful parks – Central Park! My goal is to have a family picnic with my new nieces this weekend! Here are two fun recipes you can enjoy with your family too – lunch and dessert! Yum!

FOR LUNCH…

Pizza Scones

My savory scones recipe features sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella. And this portable dish, complete with do-ahead and packing tips, makes a great addition to your picnic menu.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup fine cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pepperoni (optional)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

INSTRUCTIONS:

Fun To-Go Tip: Take smaller scones to a gathering. Use a 3-inch-round biscuit cutter to make 12 smaller scones, and reduce the baking time to 10 to 15 minutes. The scones should be cooled before packing.

  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, basil, oregano, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. Place the diced sun-dried tomatoes in a medium-size bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let them stand for 30 seconds, then drain the water and stir in the cheese and pepperoni (if using).
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and the buttermilk, then add them and the tomato mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir until the mixture forms a sticky dough.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Gently knead the dough until it holds together, about five times. Divide the dough in half and pat each half into a 1-inch-thick disk. Slice each disk into four wedges.
  5. Place the wedges on a lightly greased baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake them until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve the scones warm or at room temperature. Makes 8 scones.

Per serving (1 scone):
Calories 340 ● Total Fat 17 g (27% DV) ● Saturated Fat 10 g (49% DV) ● Cholesterol 95 mg (32% DV) ● Sodium 525 mg (22% DV) ● Total Carbohydrate 37 g (12% DV) ● Fiber 1 g (6% DV) ● Sugars 3 g ●
Protein 11 g (22% DV)

FOR DESSERT…

Frozen Watermelon Dessert

When is a watermelon not a watermelon? When it’s a refreshing frozen confection combining tangy raspberry sorbet, sweet honeydew, and chocolaty chips.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 honeydew
  • Raspberry sorbet
  • Chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS:

Note: make sure to make freeze packs in your cooler for your picnic so that your watermelon dessert doesn’t melt.

  1. Halve the honeydew, discard the seeds, and chill it overnight in the fridge.
  2. The next day, put the halves in the freezer for 15 minutes, pull them out, and pack them with sorbet, gently evening off the top.
  3. Using a chilled knife, slice each half into halves again (make sure the melon is sorbet side up).
  4. Finally, insert a row of chocolate chip seeds and serve immediately.

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This Fruit Stack Peanut Butter Sandwich is a great idea for kids or even adults who simply love sandwiches. Instead of serving peanut butter toast with a side of fresh fruit – why not combine them?! Thinly sliced apples and bananas are stuffed between two slices of toasted sandwich bread – slathered in chunky peanut butter. A drizzle of maple syrup and cinnamon hides beneath these tasty layers as well! Perfect as a healthy breakfast, lunchbox sandwich or after-school snack. Serve it will a tall glass of OJ or even chocolate milk!

Fruit Stack Peanut Butter Sandwich

FRUIT OPTIONS:
Try these fruits – slice them paper thin – or for soft fruits like raspberries – simply smash them between the bread and call them “fruit smasher” sandwiches!

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Apricots
  • Navel orange slices
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Grapes
  • Mango

Try almond butter, sunflower butter, cashew butter – or good old fashioned peanut butter. Chunky or creamy.

HOW TO:
makes 1 sandwich

  • 2 slices sandwich bread
  • 1 banana, thinly sliced long ways
  • 1 small green apple, sliced paper-thin (or fruit of choice)
  • 3 Tbsp chunky peanut butter
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • a few dashes of cinnamon

TO MAKE:
Toast the bread. 
Slice the fruit paper thin – if you are not eating this sandwich right away you can toss the fruit in a splash of lemon juice to keep them from browning.
Slather peanut butter on both slices of bread. 
Layer fruit. 
Add a drizzle of maple and dashes of cinnamon.
 Close sandwich and slice!

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When you’re looking to turn a classic recipe into something so irresistibly delicious, there’s only one thing to do … add a kick of cake mix. Dry cake mix lends a delicious cake batter flavor to the dough, filling, and icing of these totally incredible (and totally easy!) cinnamon rolls. Whether you’re serving them up for a big day or just adding a bit of oomph to your weekend breakfast table, these Birthday Cake Cinnamon Rolls are totally fab!

Birthday Cake Cinnamon Rolls

INGREDIENTS 

  • 1 1/2 cup very warm water
  • 1 packet of yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup yellow cake mix (I prefer Betty Crocker.)
  • 2 cups flour

For the filling:

  • 3/4 cup butter melted
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup yellow cake mix

For the icing:

  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cake mix
  • 4 tablespoons butter melted
  • 3-5 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

DIRECTIONS:

Pour the water into a very large bowl. Whisk in the yeast. Then the sugar. Allow the mixture to rest for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the salt, olive oil, and 2 1/4 cups of the flour. Sprinkle just enough flour over the dough until it becomes pliable enough to knead. Knead the dough until it becomes soft and elastic. Cover with a clean cloth and set aside, allowing the dough to rise for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it’s about 1/2″ thick. Drizzle butter across the dough, sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, and cake mix. Roll tightly into a roll, then slice into 2″ pieces with a sharp knife. Place rolls on a lightly greased baking sheet and allow them to rise for 15 minutes more before putting them in the oven and baking for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

In a stand mixer, beat together all icing ingredients until a spreadable frosting is formed. Drizzle over hot rolls. Sprinkle with rainbow sprinkles. Serve and enjoy!

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Adorable dipped strawberries decorated in a sports theme… just in time for a March Madness party or the upcoming Father’s Day. They look like something you would pay top dollar for from one of the large mail order companies but actually cost significantly less and are fun to make!

Making the sports themed strawberries is very easy and only requires five ingredients. To see step-by-step instructions and get the recipe, read below.

This post has been moved to our website. To view the full recipe go to:
http://blog.letop-usa.com/?p=24529

 

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