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Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese

The other day I heard a recipe for Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese on Listen to the Mrs. It’s not one of the healthier recipes I’ve posted, but it is a comfort food. If you like Cream of Mushroom Soup and cheese you will probably like this recipe. Two of my kids and I loved it. One disliked it and my DH said it was okay. It’s called 3-3-2-1 Mac & Cheese.

3-3-2-1 Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:

3 Cups milk
3 cans Cream of Mushroom Soup
2 Bricks (8 oz each) Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 box uncooked pasta (16 oz)

Directions:

Place all ingredients in slow cooker (I use a slow cooker liner for easy clean up). Cook for 4 hours on low or 2 hours on high.

We tried this for the first time yesterday. I used whole grain Penne pasta which worked great. It took 2 hours on high. You can definitely taste the cream of mushroom soup, but it was very creamy. I will probably make it again. It was very easy to put together for an easy meal. I added a side of fresh asparagus & we had a great meal. There was enough left over to send with two of the kids for lunch today. Definitely a winner at our house!

Coleslaw Dressing

Broccoli Slaw

I usually make my cole slaw dressing without using a recipe – just make it to taste. But a friend asked me for my recipe so I wrote this one down one day. It is sweet and tangy and my kids love my broccoli slaw! I put this on the menu when we need a quick supper. Today we had brats, broccoli slaw and green peppers. It took us about 5 minutes to prepare! Gotta love that when we get home from volleyball practice at supper time!

Slaw Dressing

3/4 c. Miracle whip (I use Aldi brand)
1 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar (Balsamic works well, also)
1/4 c. sugar
2 TBS milk
Celery seed (optional)

Combine first 4 ingredients and stir until smooth. Add shredded cabbage or broccoli. Sprinkle some celery seed on if desired.

Pre-Packing Snacks

granola bars

My kids have to take their lunch to school every day. One of the hardest parts of making lunches for me is packing snacks. That’s why I like to get snacks ready for the whole week at once. This week I made granola bars. Once they had cooled I packed them into snack sized bags so all I would have to do is grab them in the morning. They can do the same when they get home from school.

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I also like to cut cheese in chunks at the beginning of the week. Again, I pack them into small snack sized bags so they are easy to grab when needed.

bagged popcorn

Sometimes my husband pops a BIG batch of popcorn on Sunday evenings. This also is bagged for snacks later in the week – either at home after school, or for their lunch boxes.

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Dried fruit, trail mix, crackers, raisins, grapes, etc… All get packed at the beginning of the week. My mornings go so much smoother when all this prep is done ahead of time.

Smoothies

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Meijer has strawberries on sale this week. It’s bananas on sale at Aldi. I stopped at both places and stocked up. Now we have lots of great stuff in the freezer to make smoothies.

I washed and hulled strawberries and froze in quart sized bags. After the bananas had fully ripened, I peeled the and broke them into chunks. Then froze them also. Now it is all ready to make smoothies (no ice necessary).

Today I grabbed out some frozen bananas, a package of frozen strawberries and one of frozen blueberries from last August. I place it all in my ninja, added some milk & a splash of honey. Delicious smoothies were ready in no time. The kids are going to love me when they get off the bus in a few minutes!

Raspberry Tea

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When I was growing up, my mom always had Kool-Aid in the house for us to drink. Sometimes we even got tang! Very rarely, however, did we drink pop. We are attempting to go healthier here. I don’t like my kids to drink pop and I always felt they didn’t need the sugar in Kool-Aid. We are also trying to stay away from food dyes. My husband drinks Mountain Dew like water. When he isn’t drinking that its red Kool-Aid. The kids are always asking me for Kool-Aid so I have been trying to come up with a healthier alternative. I found an alternative that we are all happy with: raspberry tea! I use sugar to sweeten it because we found out that aspartame was causing my 10-year-old son to have a tic. I haven’t tried Stevia with him yet but I will this summer. Then I can observe him to make sure the Stevia won’t contribute to any tics. At least this tea has half the sugar of Kool-Aid and no food dyes. I have made it using honey as well.

Here’s how I make it:

I run water though my 4 cup coffee maker. Then I let 4 raspberry tea bags steep for a few minutes.

I add 1/2 cup of sugar and enough water to make 1/2 gallon of tea . Stir and enjoy.

While I encourage my kids to drink water every day this is a nice treat for them. It has no preservatives and no food dyes. I make this or some lemonade about once a week (usually on the weekends). We like trying different kinds of tea. Black cherry is one the kids enjoy, also. There is a pomegranate pizzazz that I can’t wait to try! Blueberry is another we would like to try!

Making and Canning Applesauce

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We are so thankful that there is a good apple crop this year! Last year here in Michigan an early spring followed by a hard frost ruined the apple crop (and many other fruits)! We are taking advantage of the apples and canning applesauce. Normally I like to freeze my applesauce, but lack of freezer space this year is forcing me to can it. My kids are home from school for the rest of the week and they are going to help (in exchange for a trip swimming tomorrow or Friday).

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The twins helped wash the apples I purchased from a local orchard. We told them we were making applesauce and they made a mixed half bushel for us.

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Aaron helped slice the apples. Notice the slicer/corer he is using. We love this gadget! It is used often at our house!

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We put everything in the stockpot – even the cores! Nothing is wasted! Then, on to the stove to cook the apples.

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After the apples are cooked, I run them through my food mill. This removes all the skin, seeds, etc. We have very little waste to throw out in the garden after making apple sauce. Sometimes I add a little sugar, but this batch didn’t need it. The kids and I also like cinnamon or apple pie spice in it, but my husband doesn’t, so I leave some plain.

The last step is to fill and process the jars. Lots of yummy applesauce to enjoy this winter!

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Note: It is the middle of February now, and we are still enjoying the applesauce we made last fall. I love to send it in the kids’ lunches instead of buying those little cups you can get in the store. I know exactly what is in it!

Pancake/Waffle Mix in a Jar & freezer waffles

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I don’t do much freezer cooking, but this morning when we made waffles I decided to double the batch & put the rest in the freezer for breakfast later in the week. I make my own mix adapted from a recipe by deltasky at allrecipes.com. It is quick and easy to put together and I can control exactly what goes in it. Plus, it will save us $$$!

Homemade Pancake (& waffle) Mix

2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups powdered milk
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup baking powder
1 TBS salt

Combine all ingredients; stir to blend. Store in an airtight container for up to 8 months (Ours never lasts that long).

To make pancakes:

2 cups mix, 1 cup water, one egg and 2 tablespoons oil. Beat with a wire whisk or fork until large lumps are gone.

To make waffles:

2 cups mix, 1 1/4 cup water, one eggs and 3 tablespoons oil. Again, beat with a wire whist or fork until large lumps are gone.

This makes about 12-16 pancakes or waffles.

We made a double batch this morning. I put the left-over waffles on cookie sheets in the freezer. Once they are frozen we will seal them with our foodsaver. Then we can just pull them out of the freezer and pop them in the toaster! The kids love them!