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Yummy 4th of July Recipes for Kids

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Yummy 4th of July Recipes for Kids

Break out the adorable red, white and blue outfits, sparklers, stars and stripes…because the 4th of July is right around the corner this week!  I love, love celebrating this holiday with my family, and have complied a round-up of fun 4th of July recipes for kids, sure to please even the littlest of eaters (and critics!) at your family BBQ.  Plus, you’ll have fun making these with your tiny chefs!

4th of July Breakfast Toast
Idea and image found on http://www.buzzfeed.com 

  4th of July Breakfast Toast

How cute is this??  A great, pretty healthy way to start off your holiday…and sure to impress your kiddos.

Firecracker Popcorn
Idea and image found on http://thenerdswife.com

Firecracker Popcorn

A yummy, easy, festive snack – yes, please!

4th of July Fruit Kabobs
Idea and image found on http://thefrugalgirls.com

4th-of-July-Fruit-Kabobs-from-TheFrugalGirls.com_

There are SO many creative ways you can make fruit kabobs, but I thought this one was pretty cool. I especially love the addition of the star marshmallows – yum!

Watermelon Pops
Idea and image found on http://catchmyparty.com 

Watermelon Pops

This is seriously the easiest recipe I found.  And you know what?  My kids will probably eat these with more enthusiasm, simply because they look like a popsicles.

4th of July Strawberries
Idea and image found on http://www.cutefoodforkids.com

4th of July Strawberries

Deliciousness. Period. My kids will probably eat 20 of these at a time!

American Flag Veggie Tray
Idea and image found on http://www.livinglocurto.com

American-Flag-Vegetable-Tray

I thought this was a really adorable way to serve your veggies.  And you can pick and choose your vegetables, depending on your family’s preferences (and flag color coordination, of course!).

Fruity Stars and Stripes Flag
Idea and image found on http://www.bettycrocker.com

Fruity Stars and Stripes Flag

My kids will pretty much eat anything with graham crackers.  And this is such a cute way to get them involved and help make 4th of July edible “flags.” Love it!

Wild Berry Frozen Yogurt Sandwiches
Idea and image found on http://www.partytipz.com

Wild Berry Frozen Yogurt Sandwiches

This is a (semi) healthier dessert option to serve your kids and party guests – and it looks delicious!  Frozen berry yogurt with red/white/blue sprinkles, sandwiched between graham crackers. YUM!

Red White and Blue Rice Krispie Treats
Idea and image found on http://mylitter.com

4th-july-rice-krispie-treats-

Again, I have found SO many Rice Krispy treat recipes, and I thought this one looked super fun for the 4th of July. And such a cute (and easy!) treat to make with your kiddos!

MnM Sparklers
Idea and image found on http://ourbestbites.com

Pretzel Sparklers

Not only a delicious dessert to serve, but how fabulous would these look, doubling as centerpieces?  So fun for a family 4th BBQ!

What are your favorite kid-friendly 4th of July recipes?  Please share below!
And happy 4th of July!  Enjoy a wonderful day with your families.

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Weeknight Dinner Shortcuts That Might Change Your Life

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Susanne’s 22 weeknight dinner shortcuts below just might change your life. Seriously. When I read them, I immediately thought, “why haven’t I been doing these things already?!” Enjoy mamas. They are brilliant! If you agree -will you please pin the image and help share the love? Thank you! 
weeknight dinner shortcuts

Last week I shared that Oprah.com shared four of Susanne’s amazing do ahead weeknight dinner shortcuts that save a ton of time when pulling together a meal. Susanne had so many of these types of tips I had to write a post with all the shortcuts she came up with. Hope they help!

Weeknight Dinner Shortcuts – It’s All About the Prep

 

If you can set aside some time on Sunday, or even Monday morning if you have kids in school, these easy do ahead food prep tips will save you a ton of time.

1. Make a rub for salmon, pork or chicken thighs and store in an airtight container.

2. Chop an onion, lasts 1 week in an airtight container.

3. Chop garlic, store in an airtight container with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil to cover.

4. Make your own vinaigrette, which lasts for about 1 week – it makes for a quick healthy salad, use it as a marinade or drizzle it over some steamed veggies for extra flavor.

5. Trim + clean veggies on Sunday, and then they are ready for steaming during the week. Quick cooking method for the night of – just add about 1 inch of water in your pot to boil quickly, and place in a sieve covered with a lid. Try to slightly under steam to keep the crunch/nutrients.

6. Prepare your brown rice, quinoa or noodles, etc. on Sunday and store in an airtight container to heat up quickly for an easy side dish.  Heat up the night of serving with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil or butter to bring back to life.

7. Slice carrots, celery, bell peppers, jicama, broccoli, cauliflower or whatever raw veggies your kids like and serve it as a side with ranch or hummus (or fave dip).  Or you can serve it as an app to get the veggies in your kids bellies while mom is scrambling to get the rest of dinner together.  It’s fun to let the kids pick a new veggie when they’re at the store with you to try something new – my girls discovered they like broccoflower.

8. When preparing your Sunday Dinner, make double and freeze half.  If you do this immediately (instead of letting it sit in the fridge a few days) you don’t think of it as “leftovers” but a second dinner.

9. Choose a versatile protein for your Sunday night dinner and make extra so then you can add it to salads, twice baked potatoes (or sweet potatoes), paninis, flatbread pizzas, tacos, pastas or stir fry during the week.  (Think pulled pork, roasted chicken, flank steak, pork loin, etc.)

10. Toast nuts and store in airtight container to sprinkle on salads or veggies.

11. Take inventory of your freezer proteins to help plan for the week and build your menus around what you might already have on hand.

12. Poach a whole chicken in the crock pot, then shred it and have protein for the rest of the week. Cheaper and better for you (less salt!) than those rotisserie chickens you can buy. Save the stock and you also have chicken stock for the week to save or freeze in ice cube trays to add to recipes.

Easy Weeknight Menu Ideas

 

Most important thing is to keep things simple and take it easy on yourself, you are doing an amazing job getting a home cooked meal on the table for your family.  Try not to get caught up in, I don’t have such + such ingredient and then get paralyzed.  Most of the time you’ll find your family won’t miss it.  The focus is sitting down to a healthy meal with your family and connecting.

13. Buy thin cuts of meat like thin sliced chicken breast, chicken tender pieces, pork chops, salmon, sole, etc… the thin cuts cook quicker.

14. After you’re done sautéing your meat, take it out and cover it with foil and quickly sauté your prepped veggies in the same pan with a little EVOO, garlic + onion.  That pan will give your veggies a ton of flavor and it’s less to clean up.

15. “Breakfast for Dinner” breakfast is always quick to cook and usually a big hit mid week.  A fave in our house are Egg BLT sandwiches with a little side salad.

16. Factor a Crock Pot recipe into your busiest day, and these always make for great leftovers (or freeze for a second dinner).

17. Don’t be afraid of a big salad for dinner, throw everything in to make it filling, your fave veggies, croutons, beans, cheese, crumbled bacon, or salami other deli meats on hand, hard boiled eggs, etc.  We love making tuna salad or egg salad and serving a big scoop over power greens (or fave salad) with cannelini beans, avocado, tomato, green onion.  If your kids protest the salad, serve it “deconstructed” or separated into groups on their plates so they are eating the same things but just not tossed together.

18. Embrace tradition– my girls are super into Taco Tuesday Night right now- and tacos can be made out of anything!  Ground beef, chicken, salmon, diced pork chop, whatever you have on hand that you can sauté up with a little onion, garlic and oregano salt and pepper.  All you need from there is tortilla, cheese, salsa and/or guac any veggies you like to add…

19. Think raw foods for your side dishes, a beautiful sliced avocado or tomato drizzled with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt and pepper is so delicious and nutritious.  Or sliced cucumber with a drizzle of rice vinegar, shaved zucchini ribbons topped with EVOO, parm cheese and salt + pepper.

20.Keep frozen peas and frozen corn (or fave veggies) on hand for a quick and easy side dish, sauté with a touch of butter salt and pepper.  They are flash frozen and are fresher than their canned counterparts.

21. We love Bragg Liquid Aminos which is like a spray soy sauce, for our steamed veggies. [amazon affiliate link]

22. One-pot dinners are great and less to clean up! Chili, big batches of soup, one-pot pasta, etc. Freeze half of the batch for easy dinners later on for our busiest days.

I hope you have found these weeknight dinner shortcuts helpful! Do you have any of your own to share? Please comment below!

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We are on Oprah.com. Pinch me.

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I have mad love for Oprah.

She’s the person I always select when asked “If you could sit next to anybody (living or dead) at a dinner party, who would it be?”

When her talk show ended, I cried.

So when I received an email from a food editor at Oprah.com about collaborating on a meal prep tip feature, I lost it a little.

Tiny Oranges had a chance to be on Oprah.com?!

It was a full circle moment mamas.

Immediately I got on the phone with Susanne, and after sharing some squeals, she put together a list of brilliant meal prep tips she cooked up in her talented culinary mind.

And friends, Susanne’s tips are published right here on Oprah.com!!!!! Please click over and celebrate our moment in the Oprah sun with us.

Enjoy!

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Garlic Maple Pork Roast

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slow cooker pork roast recipe

Sponsored Post 

Did you know that the month of October is National Pork Month affectionately known as Porktober? Yes, friends, you might have learned something new today. To celebrate Porktober, Susanne and I will be featuring two yummy pork recipes this month perfect for fall entertaining.

Today’s delicious slow cooker pork roast recipe is sure to be a hit. You can click here for a downloadable copy of this menu. Here was how our dinner went over and a how-to of Susanne’s slow cooker pork roast recipe.

Celebrate Porktober at Costco!

During the month of October at Costco, you can find specials on these pork cuts:

Now through 10/12: Boneless Chops and Roast Specials
10/13 – 10/19 Boneless Sirloin Tip Roast
10/20 – 10/26 Whole Boneless Loins

So Susanne, her cute 7 month pregnant belly, and I hit our local Costco to take advantage of the roast on special for this recipe.

The Boneless Pork Shoulder Butt Roast at Costco comes in packages of about 16 pounds, which is already cut in two roasts.  One half of this package is perfect for this recipe, or if you have super-sized crock pot, double the rest of the ingredients and go for it!

Costco Pork Specials in October

Slow Cooker Pork Roast Recipe 

Slow Cooked Garlic Maple Pork Shoulder Roast

Serves a crowd of 8-10 with leftovers

Ingredients:

6-8lbs Boneless Pork Shoulder (or pork butt)

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground nutmeg

3 tsp Salt

(For salt, my favorite is Maldon Sea Salt Flakes which comes in easy dissolving flavorful flakes. Affiliate link.)

Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

12-14 garlic cloves, smashed

then 1 more teaspoon salt when sautéing garlic

1/4 cup Sherry Wine

1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup (not the fake stuff)

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp molasses

1/8 cup Worchestershire sauce

3 T White Wine Vinegar

Ready, Set, Cook!

1. Mix in a small bowl the nutmeg, cloves, salt and pepper.

pork roast rub recipe

2. Cut the Pork Roast in half to get more surface area to sprinkle the Pork Shoulder Roast generously with salt and pepper, the ground cloves and nutmeg.  Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pan over medium and brown the both pieces of the Roast on all sides.  Place in your crock pot turned on to low.

browning pork

3. Turn the heat down to medium low and quickly sauté the garlic in the pan drippings until golden (taking care not to burn) and then deglaze the pan with the Sherry Wine (stirring with a wooden spoon to get all of the good flavors off the pan).  Season with 1 tsp Salt + a little Pepper.

garlic

4. In a separate bowl stir together the brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup and pour over the Pork Shoulder Roast followed by the garlic and Sherry mixture.

pork glaze

5. Cover with a lid and let slow cook into deliciousness for 8 hours.  If you’re home and able, flip the roasts around halfway through the day.  When the meat is tender and falling apart, remove from the crock pot onto a sheet pan covered with foil to let cool a bit before you pull apart.

Pulled Pork

6. Last comes the sauce! Strain the remaining cooking liquid through a sieve into a fat separator.  If you don’t have a fat separator, place into a clear measuring cup and let sit still for a few minutes so the fat will rise, then spoon the excess fatty liquid off leaving just your delicious cooking liquids.

pork sauce

7. Pour into a small pot and bring to a simmer on your stovetop.  For every 1/2 cup of liquid you have stir in 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) and a little salt and pepper to taste.  You can play around and add more vinegar if you like a tangier flavor!   (The sauce is a thin, light consistency.)

Serve Pulled Pork on a platter, either drizzled with sauce or pass the sauce around the table because you’ll probably want to add some more!

Here is our friend Sara ready to serve it up. Bring on Porktober!

serving pork

Now for the delicious pork side dishes.  Both of these were a perfect complement to the flavors in the pulled pork.

Roasted Acorn Squash Recipe 

Serves 8

Ingredients:

4 Acorn Squash

4 Tbsp of butter, cut into 4 pats or squares

sprinkle of brown sugar

sprinkle of chili powder

Salt and Pepper

Ready, Set, Cook!

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Cut Squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place on a foil line sheet pan with 1 pat of butter in each, a sprinkle generously with brown sugar, chili powder, salt and pepper.

Roast for about 1-1 1/4 hours or until flesh pierces easily with a fork.  Turn the oven to broil and watch carefully for about 1 min to get golden brown deliciousness.  Take care when removing from oven not to spill the pool of yumminess in the middle, as you want every bit of this to make it to your mouth.

roasted acorn squash

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad  

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1 lb Brussels Sprouts

1/2 cup Walnuts, chopped + toasted

1/2 cup Shaved Romano Cheese pieces

1/4 c Dried Cranberries

1/4 cup fresh Lemon juice (2 lemons)

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 tsp salt (kosher or sea salt- Maldon is my fave)

1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Ready, Set, Cook!

Make sure brussels sprouts are rinsed clean and trimmed, then slice lengthwise, then place on flat edge and chop into a very thin slaw, stopping when you get to the white end.

Stir together the lemon juice + EVOO briskly add salt and pepper.

Mix all ingredients together and toss with the dressing to coat.  Taste for seasoning, if needed add a little S+P.  Garnish with Romano Cheese shavings.

(Can make a few hours ahead and let the flavors mingle.)

Brussels Sprouts Salad

Our Porktober Dinner was a Huge Success! 

Susanne’s recipe was simply out of this world! When my husband walked up the drive to meet us after work for dinner, he said he could smell the aromas from down the street.

We love a great slow cooker pork roast recipe for fall entertaining because of the “make ahead” capability. The pork was delicious – so tender and juicy.  Putting it on butter rolls to make sandwiches the next day for leftovers was almost as good as the main meal.

The kiddos even gave the pork a thumbs up!

We invite you to visit your local Costco this month and try out this recipe for a group of friends.  Nothing better than sharing a good meal over some laughs this fall.

pork collage Happy entertaining from our family to yours! 

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Tips for Cooking with Kids

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Tips for Cooking with Kids

Cooking or baking sounds like the perfect way to spend some quality time bonding with kids, right?  I had a breakthrough this week which inspired this post on tips for cooking with kids I wanted to share with you.

I’ve always had this romanticized idea about cooking with my children. We excitedly pick a recipe, and they carefully pour, stir, and measure. They wash their hands before and after they cook.  They clean up their messes.  We set the timer and anxiously watch our food bake or cook. And, then we enjoy our delicious creation together.

Reality is, things can get messy and it rarely (never) goes down that way.  Yes, things can get messy, but if you embrace that aspect, it can actually be part of the fun.

The reality…

Here’s what typically happens in my house.

The kids race to wash their hands.  Soap misses the hands.  They fight over who gets to stand on the step stool at the counter (and I remind them that we have two step stools).  They fight about who gets to open the refrigerator (and cupboards) to get the ingredients. They fight over who gets to hold the recipe or mixture box.  One of them inevitably breaks an egg.

As I’m cleaning that up, scobbling ensues.  One gets mad and stomps off.  The other one fights to dump more ingredients in the bowl.  Mommy gets frustrated and tells the remaining kid to go play while she cleans up.  No food is actually made in this situation.  Only a sink full of dishes and a frazzled mama remains.

My tips for cooking with kids…

I finally wised up and these are some things I learned.

Tip – Let them help pick the dish to cook.

I took both kids shopping and let them pick out muffins (pre-mixed) to bake.  I figured this would be a super easy, super fail-proof place to start.  A pre-mixed muffin mix with three added ingredients.  Check.

Tip – Get a set of ingredients for each kid.

Instead of fighting over taking turns with one dish, I decided to let each kid have their own cooking “station.”  I set up two sets of ingredients and cooking utensils at the kitchen table for both kids.  No step stools.  They each got to sit in their own kitchen table chair. (Why didn’t I think of this earlier?!).

Tip – Set up a cooking “class” environment. 

I told the kids that this was cooking “class.”  My 1st grader read the ingredients, instructions, and made accordingly.  I helped my preschooler look at the pictures of the ingredients, and helped him measure.  And I pretty much gave them total control over the process for each of their own batches of muffins.  The result?  They each felt super special and accomplsihed.

Tip – Let them get MESSY.

Yep, by giving them control over the process, egg shells will mix into the batter.  Oil will be over-measured.  Drips, spills, crumbs.  You name it.  And, it’s okay.  Let it happen.  For some moms, this is totally not a big deal.  For me, I have to intentionally take a step back and let them learn to “cook” and be in charge of their own process.

Tips for Cooking with Kids_2 (This is a picture of my four-year-old’s cinnamon muffin mix.  Wow.  But, he had fun!!!).

Tip – Teach them to clean up.

Part of cooking is cleaning up the mess.  Give them paper towels and wipes, and ask them to each clean up their cooking class work station.  Have them put leftover ingredients away.  Have them help carry dishes to the sink…and for older kids, have them help wash them.

Tip – Let them put their cooking creation in their own labeled Tupperware.

Remember how we talked about them making a big mess?  Who knows how their lovely finished “product” will turn out.  But, no matter what, they will be SO proud of themselves.  Praise them!  As long as it is (somewhat) edible, let them eat it. If they like it, put it in their own Tupperware or baggie…and label it with their name. That way they can munch on it, and it’s theirs.

Do you cook with your kids?  What are your tips to making it fun (and easy)??  Share below!

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