(Becky, the Mama) You know those times when you want “just a little somethin’-somethin’’” to tide you over to until the next meal, or give your foggy brain an energy boost? Something good for you, tasty, without lots of calories or carbs? But you want more than a few carrot or celery sticks. Or maybe you want a light lunch in a hurry, but you aren’t crazy about the idea of sandwiches or wraps with all that bread?
Here’s my favorite pick-me-up-in-a-hurry snack and it is less than 100 calories per Skinny Roll Up. No carbs. No gluten (as long as the meat and cheese you use is gluten free.) Plus there are a thousand variations to this basic “recipe”: you can choose whatever thinly sliced sandwich meat you like (or substitute a vegan version), then chose a small bit of cheese (your choice, or leave it out), whatever veggies you have on hand (cooked or raw or a combination), and any sauce that floats your Roll Up Boat from honey mustard (as I used here), to a little dollop of Ranch Dressing with Buffalo Sauce, to Teriyaki Sauce with Sriracha, to Bar-b-que sauce… and on and on. They are surprisingly filling, two of them with a piece of fruit works as a great light lunch, and the calories are such that you can enjoy another snack or small dessert with a cup of tea or coffee at mid-day and not break your calorie bank.
When your kids claim they are famished and dinner is till an hour away, you can teach your kids how to build-their-own Roll Ups, letting their imagination lead the way. Just one Roll Up will tide them over until dinner, but won’t spoil their appetite. You can also wrap their favorite “roll-ups” in Saran Wrap, leave off the sauce, and send them a little “dipping sauce” in a small container for some variety in their lunch box. (You may want to use 2 slices of deli meat for these so they are easier for the kids to handle. A half slice of American cheese also helps it “stick” and stay together better.)
Vegetarian or Vegans can substitute ToFurky Roasted Deli Slices, which have excellent taster reviews. Or skip the meat layer, use a large soft piece of lettuce instead, and spread the lettuce with humus or refried beans for the protein.
Skinny Deli Veggie Roll Ups
Thin Sliced Deli Meat (Your choice, I used Honey Ham. Vegans can use ToFurky Deli Slices)
1 t. or more of your favorite sauce or dressing (I used Honey Mustard)
1/2 to 1 oz. of cheese, sliced or cut in small strips (1/2 slice of American Cheese, or 2 or 3 small thin strips of any hard cheese)
Small pieces l of lettuce
Pickles, Roasted Peppers (Anything pickled you like that adds a “bite” — pepperocinis, sliced olives or jalapenos are yummy too. I used midget sweet pickles)
1 or 2 T. Veggies, cooked or raw (thinly sliced carrots, cucumber, celery, tomato, avocado, raw pepper sticks, sliced green onions, mashed beans, humus or leftover cooked veggies of any kind)
Lay a thin slice of deli meat on a plate (you can double this if you want more protein and sturdiness). Stack lettuce, cheese, pickles and veggies down the middle of the deli slice. Squeeze your favorite dressing over this. Roll up like a burrito and enjoy. If making a bunch of them to serve later or to pack in a lunch, you may want to secure them with a toothpick. (Also if they are to be served later or eaten for lunch, you may prefer to leave off the dressing and keep it separate to use as a dipping sauce.)
About 11 years ago now, one of my dearest writing friends, Lindsey O’Connor, gave birth to her fifth child, a little girl named Caroline. That happy moment suddenly gave way to a trauma that would leave Lindsey’s life hanging in the balance for many long weeks and months. She writes poignantly of that episode in her life, of what it was like to be “someplace other” and to try to make sense of it all once she woke up, in her brilliant memoir, The Long Awakening. Warning: do not start the book until you have time to read it all. It is impossible to put down once you begin.
Here’s a story Lindsey shared in her book, a memory I still look back on, and marvel at. In fact, I went to Texas two weeks ago, drove past the little store mentioned here, smiled and gave thanks in remembrance.
Near my daughter Allison’s birthday, my friend Becky had emailed Kathy asking for our home address so she could mail a birthday present she’d brought for Allison. Becky and I had started our friendship as writing and speaing colleagues and had grown into sister-friends, who knew and loved each other’s children, and she had wanted to get something special for Alli’s tenth birthday. She dropped in at The Mineola Mercantile, an East Texas boutique not far from where she lived, and told the owner what had happened to me and that I was lying in a coma missing my little girl’s birthday.
The woman told Becky she thought she knew “what God wanted this little girl to have.”
She pulled out a silver charm bracelet and the three silver charms – one said “Big Sis,” another of a heart with “mother and daughter” written across the front of it, and finally a letter “A” with a guardian angel peeking through the “window” of the letter.
The store owner said, “Now tell little Alli that charm represents her guardian angel that is always watching over her all of the time.” Becky went home, wrapped the present, wrote Kathy for the address, and only when Kathy replied did Becky discover a fact she had not know when she’d bought the gift.
It had been my tradition on each day of my daughter’s tenth anniversaries, their double digit day, to give them a silver charm bracelet…
Such a thing. Comatose for months;tradition intact. Unthinkable …..Coincidence? Perhaps.But I don’t think so. Loved by her God? I believe so. His eye was on my sparrow. ” (Excerpt from The Long Awakening by Lindsey O’Connor, Revell, 2013, pg. 97-98)
Now, let’s fast forward time. Lindsey, of course, came out of the coma, and though the road was arduous, she is very much alive, amazing us all. Caroline has grown from baby girl to double digit young lady following her sister Allie, who is now in college. In addition to being the proud owner of a charm bracelet, she’s also of age to want to try her hand at cooking. I posted the picture of this Chipotle Chili, recently, on Facebook, and her mama, Lindsey, asked for the recipe. There was a Chili Cook-off at church, and Caroline wanted to make an award-winning batch of it, all by herself. I gave her my best “Auntie Becky” style directions, and Lindsey let her daughter loose in the kitchen. Later that night, Linds wrote in an email: “Carolyn was ecstatic when she won first prize! She probably said, at least ten times while were cooking that she wanted to win, and thought she would win. And she loved knowing it was your recipe. She really did the whole thing by herself. I taught her how to cut an onion, stood back while she used her knife and kept wanting to take it from her the whole time. Taught her how to use the food processor. She had such fun! Thank you for sharing the recipe.”
I hope this true story warms your heart, and the recipe warms your tummy. Please visit & “Like” Lindsey on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LindseyOConnorAuthor and tell her I sent you. (I also write a story of Lindsey bringing me a wonderful Greek meal, including a favorite recipe, watermelon mint feta salad, in our book, We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook.)
Becky’s Quick n’ Easy (Award-Winning!) Chipotle Chili
1 ½ lb. ground beef or buffalo (if you have leftover roast or other beef, you can dice that up and throw it in too)
1 onion diced (if you like onions)
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 large (28 oz) can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 – 3 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce (a little can in the Mexican food aisle… — you can freeze the leftover ones in a Ziploc bag to use in another recipe or salsa)
1 can (15 oz) Ranch Style Beans, with liquid
1 can (15 oz) Kidney or Black Beans, with the liquid
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 t. chili powder
1 t. smoked paprika
1 T. cumin
1 T. brown sugar
Brown the beef with onion in a big pot. Meanwhile,using a food processor or blender, blend the big can of tomatoes with the chipotle peppers and clove of garlic. (If you want some chunks of tomato in your chili, don’t blend the whole can. But my husband Greg thinks I’m trying to kill him if there’s any visible chunks of anything but meat and beans in his chilli.)
Add the blended tomato mixture to the pot, then add the 2 cans of beans, and the rest of the seasonings, tasting as you go to make it balanced as you like it. Adding more sweet, or heat, or salt until you just love it.
Heat on med high and then turn down and simmer on low, for about 15 minutes, stirring often. (You can simmer it longer, but typically my family is in a hurry to eat it, and it doesn’t take long to be edible and yummy.)
You can top with sour cream or Greek yogurt, shredded cheese, jalapenos, diced avocado, green onions, chopped cilantro, crumbled tortilla chips… whatever you like.
Always a hit with hot buttered corn muffins.
Have you ever met a woman who was beautiful, had an equally beautiful family with grown children who are best friends with each other, whose home is fit for the cover of Southern Living magazine, who loves Jesus, who crafts and entertains and cooks, and well, who you just might hate for being so together if it weren’t for how kind and caring and generous she was; and instead of envying her, you kind of just hope she’ll adopt you? I have. Her name is Miss Vickie.
Miss Vickie is Jared’s best friend Nick’s mom. Vickie and her husband Roger own three Chick-fil-A’s in our area and have raised entrepreneur-minded, self-motivated, creative kids. I wrote most of We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook, at Nick’s co-working space in Dallas, Common Desk, the first of its kind in the metroplex. Natalie, Miss Vickie’s daughter, is one of the most creative people I know. Her blog is so inspiring for crafty (or wannabe crafty) mamas!
Apparently, the creative genes run deep. Miss Vickie is kind of famous in these parts for her sugar cookies. If you’ve been to her house, you’ve probably seen a jar full of these soft, buttery cookies in an array of pastel colors and cute shapes, and may have even been sent home with a mason jar full of them. The recipe was created and passed down by her Italian family, the Spinelli’s, years ago.
How much do you love this handwritten recipe?
Surprisingly, it doesn’t call for any eggs and since it calls for margarine, swapping Earth Balance is a no-brainer to make them dairy-free too. She says she’s never come across a recipe quite like it and neither have I. They are so light and almost melt in your mouth.
My mother-in-law Rhonda and Vickie have been friends for as long as Jared and Nick have been buds. Through vacations and ball games and girlfriend getaways, they’ve shared a few of these cookies over the years. And now they are sharing them, as Nonna and Mimi, with their grandkids. Nostalgia.
We went to one of our favorite getaways out in East Texas over Easter weekend with Jared’s parents. Early Saturday, it was rainy and cold, so Mimi and Jackson baked the morning away, while I snapped photos. We declared it an official Easter tradition.
Mix the ingredients.
Taste for quality control.
“Flour” your board with powdered sugar.
Press or roll the dough.
Cut out your shapes with cookie cutters.
Bake, cool, and ice.
Thank you Miss Vickie, for sharing this family recipe with us and allowing me to share it with our readers!
Miss Vickie’s Sugar Cookies
Makes about 24 cookies
1 cup margarine (or Earth Balance)
1/2 cup powdered sugar (plus some to powder table)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix margarine, powdered sugar, and vanilla with a mixer. Stir in flour, a little at a time, and salt. Powder the table with powdered sugar. Roll out dough 1/4 inch thick. (The dough is very soft, so we just used our hands for this step.) Use cookie cutters to cut out cookies. Lay them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 7 minutes. Allow to cool. Decorate with icing.
(Becky the Mama)
As Kermit the Frog would say, “It’s not easy being green.” Only around here, the saying goes, “It is not easy to get my family to eat green things.” If, God forbid, a stray piece of “green stuff” – from chopped basil to green onions or kale – should land on my husband’s plate, he looks at me as though I’ve betrayed him…. with malice and forethought.
Thankfully children are more easily tricked… er… uh… persuaded. I told my grandson George that, together, we were going to make Green Popcorn. He was all in, as he loves to participate in any kind of “cooking with Nonny.” I had him tear the leaves off a bunch of kale into bite-sized pieces, then we rinsed them lightly and I let him spin the salad spinner, which one of his favorite kitchen tools. We then tossed the leaves in a bowl of olive oil and melted butter (butter helps give it the popcorn-taste) spread them on cookie sheets, sprinklee them with just a tiny bit of sea salt and baked until they were light as a feather. In fact, kale will almost fly off the cookie sheet after baking.
For extra fun I put them in popcorn bags, and sure enough, George LOVED them and asked for more. He ate almost a whole bunch of kale in one sitting. With this success behind me, I went after my husband in Sam-I-Am style. “You know that a lie I cannot tell, you will SO love green popcorn kale… “ He was willing to sample them and before he knew it he’d eaten the whole bowl.
“What do you think?”
“It really does taste like popcorn. I could eat this as a snack now and again quite happily.”
Eureka! Dr. Furhman, author of many books and PBS health guru, lists kale as the #1 food to help boost immunity and fight cancer. It’s got more iron than beef, lots of Vitamin C and K, is high in fiber and full of antioxidants. I’m posting this blog on St. Patty’s day, so you could tell you children that you are going to make some Leprechaun treats! Hey, whatever it takes to get your family to eat their greens and come back to report that they were “magically delicious”.
P.S. As long as we are nourishing our body with green things, here’s another lovely green thing you can acquire to nourish your heart, mind and soul!
1 bunch fresh kale, leaves torn off of stem into chip-sized pieces
1 T. olive oil
1 t. butter, melted
Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees
Rinse the torn up kale leaves then dry them very well in a salad spinner or blotting them on with clean tea towel. Toss them with clean hands in a bowl with the olive oil and butter. Spread the leaves out on a big flat cookie sheet, so they are just barely touching. Use two cookie sheets if needed.
Sprinkle VERY LIGHTLY with sea salt. (Just a pinch for the whole pan. Because the kale shrinks up it is easy to over-salt them.) Bake about 8 -10 minutes. Stay near the oven and check them often. When they are light as a feather and starting to brown and get crispy, remove them and let them cool to the touch. We like them still warm and fragrant, served in popcorn bowls or bags as a snack. They also make nice crispy toppings for soups or pasta dishes.
(Becky, the Mama. It is the small things you do with small people that you and they will look back on and cherish. I hope and pray you get a little bonding time in the kitchen with young ones this week. Here’s a recipe that will make it easy during a time when many feel perpetually overwhelmed. Love and Merry Christmas to all our Blog Readers and thank you so much for sharing our love of cooking and passing it along to others.)
There is, of course, the Martha Stewart way to make Christmas cookies with your kids when they are home from school this coming week for Christmas break. It looks homey and fun, easy and bonding. Especially when using child actors on a TV set.
What it is, in reality, is a long process involving antsy children, along with lots of sugar, clouds of flour, rolling pins and sticky dough (that will take a jack hammer to remove after it is dry), food coloring stains, and sometimes tears of frustration (from either children or parent). The experience almost always ends with the kids giving up the thrill of “making Christmas cookie memories together,” after half-heartedly decorating one, maybe two, cookies. Then they start begging to go play outside, watch cartoons or play a video game. So Mom ends up finishing up the decorating, cleaning up the mess, and downing about six cookies she doesn’t really need or want that taste like thick sweet cardboard with green and red sugar paste on top.
I’m here to give you Becky Johnson’s (alias “Nonny”) Easier Way Out. (Merry Christmas!) It takes about five to ten minutes to make these “Christmas Cinnamon Crisps” with your children, start to finish. If you use whole wheat tortillas and dust them with organic coconut or date sugar, you can even claim them to be almost downright healthy. A cold glass of diary or almond milk will help balance the sugar with a bit of protein and keep your children off the ceiling from a pure sugar high. Also, these crisps are so light and crunchy, they will not end up feeling like a sugar dough ball in their stomachs. (Or yours.)
We made these for Christmas, but you can use any holiday or seasonal cookie cutters to make this an easy-to-make treat year round.
2 large flour tortillas, whole wheat or white (I prefer to use the raw tortillas, such as Tortilla Land or Guerrero Brands because they puff up like little sopapillas, but pre-cooked ones will also work)
1 to 2 T. coconut oil or other healthy oil
Cinnamon & Sugar Mix (1/4 c. sugar to 1 T. cinnamon)
Using good sharp edged cookies cutters, let the kids cut out cookies from the tortilla.
In the meantime, melt 1 T. coconut oil in a medium skillet on medium high heat. Drop tortilla “cookies” into hot oil (obviously an adult will need to do this part).
Then gently roll them in a bowl of the cinnamon and sugar, coating both sides.
Let them cool a bit, but best eaten while warm and fresh! (You made need to add more coconut oil as you cook the crisps.) Cut up left over “scraps” of tortillas into “crazy shape” pieces to cook, coat and eat last!
There are so many ways you can jazz up this basic idea. You can coat them with coconut or date sugar, and use whole wheat tortillas (or even flat bread). You can make a quick vanilla or chocolate glaze and dip one side in (like a donut) and then dip again in crushed nuts or seeds or sprinkles or coconut, like thin tiny donuts. You can skip the cinnamon and sugar and dip in a honey-butter or peanut-butter and honey mixture. Have fun with this!
Sometimes the easiest recipes are the ones we use the most. My grandson Georgie bellies up to the kitchen bar at least once or twice a day and asks for a “Palm Tree,” in the same way a character on the TV show “Cheers” would order their favorite drink.
I walked to his little school the other day to pick him up (it is only a few blocks away!) and on the way out the door, tucked a piece of string cheese in one pocket and a Clementine orange in the other. When he walked out of his Kindergarten class I produced the “goods” and made him a Palm Tree right there on the spot. His eyes lit up with joy and admiration. It takes so little to make a child happy. The orange quenches the thirst that comes from the saltiness of the cheese, so it makes a great all-in-one treat I feel good about giving him.
Clementine & Cheese Stick “Palm Tree” Snack for Kids
Stick of Cheese (String cheese works fine, too)
Clementine orange, peeled
Fan out the orange a little bit on one end and plop it atop a cheese stick. Serve to your favorite little one, with a wink and a smile.
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The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Clementine & Cheese Stick “Palm Tree” Snack for Kids
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This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
(Becky, the Mama)
My mother, Ruthie, went from loving her sugary desserts (a la last week’s Honey Slice cookie recipe) to a diet almost completely without sugar a couple of decades ago. A health crisis with her blood pressure and heart, meant major changes in her daily diet – all for the better. Out went everything white: sugar, white flour and white rice… and in came the brown and fiber-filled replacements. But, we are not the sort of women to suffer deprivation in our family. Being the creative and resourceful cook, Mother found several ways to satisfy her sweet tooth while also getting healthier, sporting an adorably slim figure, and having more energy than women decades younger than she!
This is one of my all-time favorite sweet, healthy, satisfying treats that she baked. She served them in a pretty cloth-lined basket at a family supper and they disappeared in what seemed like minutes. Everyone from kids to adults raved about them.
The basic ingredients are so simple: oats, mashed bananas and grated apples. From there you can throw in the kitchen sink: any nuts, seeds, flavorings or dried fruit that you like. Another bonus is that you can serve this recipe to most of the people in your family (or friends) on special diets. The recipe is naturally vegan, and if you use gluten-free oats, it is gluten-free and can easily be adapted to use less sugar or made sugar-free. Kids not only love them, but as you can see from my little helper below, they also love to help make them.
If you want to create warm memories of baking with little ones this Christmas, but prefer not to send them into a Sugar Orbit in the process: this is the perfect mom and child, or grandma and grandchild project, to whip up together.
The texture is somewhere between a muffin, an oatmeal cookie, trail mix, and baked oatmeal. Made with sugar they get a nice crunch on the outside but are moist and slighty chewy on the inside. Perfect for quick breakfasts-to-go, they also make great snacks for school lunch boxes and any outdoor enthusiasts in your family. Wrapped in foil they are wonderful sources of energy when hiking, camping or snow-boarding.
This recipe makes 2 dozen. Best stored in fridge and then heated for a few seconds in microwave.
Oat Nut Fruit Gems
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
2 large bananas, mashed (use 3 if bananas are small)
2 large peeled apples, grated (use 3 if apples are small)
3 cups oats (I like Old Fashioned Oats for the chewier texture)
½ t. sea salt
1/3 c. raw organic sugar (or use other sweeteners such as brown sugar or coconut sugar or even Stevia, according to taste )
½ c. dried chopped fruit (I used dates and dried cranberries. Coconut also works well in this recipe.)
1/2 nuts and/or seeds (I used walnuts and pecans)
2 t. vanilla
Mix all of the above together in a large mixing bowl. Spray or oil muffin pans. Fill them about 2/3 full and gently press down with back of spoon. if you want them to look more muffin-like you can mound them a bit in the middle, as they won’t rise. (No leavening or eggs.)
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until just golden brown around edges and top.
When cool to touch, gently remove from pan. If not eaten in a day, store in fridge in a sealed bag or plasticware and zap for a few seconds in microwave to warm.
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Oat Nut Fruit Gems
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-Pz
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook