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Would you do me just a quick little favor? Would you mind just filling out this quick little form? I’m contemplating some changes in the future for this little blog of mine, and I’d love your input.

Since my blog “niche” is just a wee bit scattered (uh, ADHD anyone??), I want to know why you are here reading this blog. Are you skipping every few posts, just waiting for the posts you’re most interested in? Or are you loving every single word I write? (Ha ha.)

Filling this out should take you two minutes, max. Unless your kids interrupt you every twenty seven seconds while reading it, then I can’t guarantee anything!

Microwave Minute Hot Cocoa (With Dairy-Free Version!)

Microwave Minute Hot Cocoa

As part of our Five in a Row homeschool studies this year, we spent a week learning about France as we ‘rowed’ the book Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans.* (I feel so grown up, talking about ‘homeschool studies‘ like we do more than just color and read books.) We read about how French children often enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and a baguette or a croissant for breakfast.
Best plan ever, right?

For our afternoon  snack (slacker mom is no morning person), we drank a cup of rich hot chocolate. However, I bought the wrong chocolate and wasn’t able to use it with Abigail’s milk allergies. Instead, I made her a quick cup of her own hot cocoa. In fact, hers was finished and cool by the time our hot chocolate reached a simmer on the stove.

Yeah. It’s quick.
I think I’ll be using this recipe again.
and again.
and again.
and again.
(No diet comments, mmKay?)

This recipe is perfect for those times when you are out of handy little hot cocoa packets or just need a dairy free option without spending an arm or a leg!

 Recipe from Hershey’s Recipe Collection Cookbook*

Microwave Minute Hot Cocoa (With Dairy-Free Version!)

Microwave Minute Hot Cocoa (With Dairy-Free Version!)

A simple hot cocoa recipe for the microwave!

Notes: If making dairy free version, just replace milk with the non-dairy milk of your choice, such as soy, rice, or almond. We used vanilla soymilk.

If making for young children, only fill the mug half full of milk. After microwaving, top off mug with remaining cold milk to cool down the cocoa.

Ingredients

  • 1 heaping teaspoon Hershey's Cocoa
  • 2 heaping teaspoons white sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of milk
  • Milk to fill mug

Instructions

  1. In a microwave-safe up or mug, combine cocoa, sugar, and salt.
  2. Add 2 teaspoons of cold milk, stir until smooth.
  3. Fill cup with milk.
  4. Microwave for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes until hot.
  5. Stir to blend.
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How to Make Your Own Frozen Rhodes Rolls

How to Make Your Own Rhodes Rolls

I love fresh baked bread. It’s an absolute comfort food for me, and instantly takes me back to the days when my mom would make homemade rolls for dinner or a loaf of bread for an afterschool snack. I am a huge fan of Rhodes Rolls. Actually, I still am. They are dairy and egg free* for Abigail, and they are so versatile; from breadsticks to rolls to pizza pockets/mini pizzas to fried bread (‘scones’ here in Utah) to… well, just about anything, really. I love to have a bag or two in my fridge at all times.
*manufactured in a facility that processes food containing wheat, milk, soy, and seeds 

The concept of Rhodes Rolls is really simple. Don’t tell the Rhodes company, but I’m on to them:
it’s just frozen dough.
Obviously, we can do this the good old fashioned DIY way. Making your own Rhodes Rolls take a little extra time but it is so worth it. It’s about a million times cheaper (I did that math! 1,000,000 times cheaper) and you can control the ingredients without putting any preservatives or, um. Other stuff.

The first step is make some bread dough. I use this recipe here and it’s fantastic. I’m going to blog about it “one day,” but the recipe promises bread, from first scoop of flour, to fresh from the oven in one hour. Anyone can make this bread. The “lecithin” she refers to is soy lecithin, and that’s the only ingredient: soybeans. I use this one here and was able to find it at Macey’s, a local grocery store. It lasts forever, so the cost is worth it.

After you’ve mixed your bread, do not let it raise. Form it into balls for your rolls. Out of curiousity, I weighed my little dough balls. I formed balls that were about 2 oz. in size, a little bigger than store bought. I think 1.5 oz would probably be a closer match to the Rhodes brand, but that’s up to you and your level of OCD.

Place your rolls on a sheet pan. I left about a half inch gap between each roll. I didn’t want them touching so I could store them later in a Ziploc bag. Then, like I made my frozen chocolate chip cookie dough, I flash froze it in my deep freezer but a regular freezer works fine too. I left them in there overnight, but you just need them to get nice and solid before you pull them out.

When you pull them out, they will have risen just a tiny bit before the yeast hibernates in the cold. Take them off your pan and throw them in a Ziploc bag. They can then be stored for 3-6 months or so in your freezer. Like Rhodes, I pull out exactly the number I need for dinner that night and reseal the rest in the Ziploc bag.  OR…

Place 12-15 rolls in a 9×13 pan. I like my rolls to squish together so I set them about an inch apart on the pan. Let rise in a warm location (the warmer it is, the faster it will go) for 2-3 hours until double in size.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Then…

Brush with melted butter or dairy-free margarine (optional) and enjoy!

Look at my Pinterest board for all the fabulous things you can do with Rhodes Rolls, DIY or otherwise! By the way, I still buy Rhodes Rolls when I’m low on time or ambition. I just feel better feeding my family the homemade version!

Oh and just for kicks, I have this little peek behind the scenes for you:

Have you ever tried making your own frozen Rhodes rolls?
What store bought recipes do you like to ‘DIY?’

 

Easy Meal Planning for the Slacker Mom!

Food on the Table

I have tried so many things to make getting dinner on a table less of a chore. I’ve even tried making monthly meal plans, which lasted… three months? I think? No matter what I do, I end up wondering what I’m making for dinner sometime around 4:30 p.m.

Or I actually have a meal plan, I’ve defrosted the meat (cue Hallelujah chorus!) only to find I don’t have all the ingredients necessary for the meal. Which really stinks. I want credit for at least trying to make dinner, yet my family seems to feel different.

Sometimes, I feel the Internet was made just for me. It gets me, you know?
Also: Ben & Jerry’s, with their Chocolate Therapy ice cream? They totally get me.

When I came across this totally awesome idea, I was just floored. Here’s the concept, y’all:


{I’m telling ya. Internet was made for me. You can thank me later.}
My favorite part of this new and totally free service (we’ll get to the paid options in a minute) is that they take your local grocery ad and make kid friendly meal plans based on what’s on sale. You can pick and choose recipes based on taste preference, then they create a grocery list for you. Even better, the list can be printed or emailed (to hubby, perhaps?).  There’s even an app for your iphone or Android!

Here’s a super quick video on how it works:

***SPECIAL OFFER***
When you use the promo code SUMMERFREE to sign up, you will receive the current service FREE FOR LIFE! This is a limited time offer so click below to sign up!

Edited to add: I need to clarify the paid service option, I completely forgot. Ordinarily you would get 3 recipes per week for free and then a low introductory rate of $5/month. My understanding, based on playing around with the service, is that using the SUMMERFREE code, you will not need a subscription!

Disclosure: Links in this post are affiliate links. I have personally signed up for this service and so far I’m loving what I see. I hope you’ll use my link to sign up and that you’ll love the service like I do!

 

Repost: 4th of July Dessert – Strawberry Trifle

4th of July Dessert - Strawberry Trifle
This is a flashback post, originally posted here.

My sister wanted to be cutesy. So she made an angel food cake.
The angel food cake was a bit overdone.
Then she confessed she didn’t even like angel food cake. She wanted strawberry cake.
While this logic may seem lacking to you, it follows perfectly well in my family.

Edit: My sister did want to be cutesy but not by making an angel food cake. She wanted to make a Flag Cake. However, when she asked my mom to pick up a strawberry flavored cake, there was a misunderstanding and an angel food cake mix and strawberries were purchased. She does not now, nor ever like angel food cake nor does she intend to make angel food cake. Crazy enough as that is, the logic was sound. 
I asked if there was whipped cream. There was.
I asked if there was vanilla pudding.
After a moment of rummaging, we found a lone box of sugar free vanilla pudding. Good enough.
I had bought a four pound package of strawberries at Costco that day.
I announced we could fix all dilemmas by making a trifle. 

Wikipedia defines a trifle as “dessert dish made from thick (or often solidified) custardfruitsponge cake, fruit juice or gelatin, and whipped cream. These ingredients are usually arranged in layers with fruit and sponge on the bottom, and custard and cream on top.”
{Or in other words, one of those fancy layered dishes in a clear glass bowl.}

The beauty of this dessert is that it looks pretty but it is so simple.
I’ve made it before and it was very well received. In just a few moments, we had our layered dessert–the most complicated step being “slice the strawberries.”

This is a really fun dessert for the 4th of July–especially if you throw a few blueberries into the mix! Very “cutesy!”

Strawberry Punch Bowl Cake

Strawberry Trifle

Strawberry Trifle

Ingredients

  • 1 angel food cake (homemade, from a box, or store-bought)
  • 1 small package vanilla pudding
  • 2 c. milk
  • 8 oz. carton whipped topping (Cool Whip)
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, washed and hulled.
  • 1 c. blueberries, washed (optional)

Instructions

  1. Slice strawberries and set aside. Save a few for garnishing the top.
  2. Tear angel food cake into bite-sized pieces.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together vanilla pudding and milk, then mix in whipped topping until creamy.
  4. Layer 1/3 of angel food cake on bottom of trifle bowl.
  5. Top with 1/3 of pudding mixture.
  6. Add about 1/2 your strawberries. I try to make some of the strawberries visible from the outside of the bowl. If using, add about 1/2 c. blueberries.
  7. Layer angel food cake, pudding, strawberries and blueberries (reserve some blueberries for the top).
  8. Add another angel food cake layer, pudding layer.
  9. Garnish with the reserved strawberries and blueberries.
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