How to Make Homemade Marshmallows

A Holiday Treat

We eat nearly all organic foods in our house but somehow marshmallows find their way into our house regularly. My kids LOVE marshmallows. LOVE.

This year I decided to try something different for our holiday cooking fest.  Thanks to an idea that inspired me on Pinterest from Martha Stewart, we made vanilla and candycane marshmallows in the shapes of snowflakes.

Thanks to our awesome neighbors, we borrowed a candy thermometer and snowflake cookie cutters. It's not often (if at all!) that you find me cooking with corn syrup, but we went for it, heating it and sugar (yes, so healthy!) to 238 degrees then adding it slowly to gelatin and whipping it for 12 minutes. It was pretty simple but the key was to put vegetable oil on the spatula before pressing it into the greased pan.

This was a first for us in making marshmallows and we all agreed, they taste so much better than the store bought marshmallows.

Such a treat!

audrey-marshmellow1.jpg

Do you have a recipe that you made with your kids for the holidays?  Please share!  Happy holidays from our family to yours!

The Easiest Holiday Breakfast

Leave it to Mom Made so that you can put the "Merry" before "Christmas" the morning of 12/25. 

Christmas morning, the kids are engulfed in present mania but need something nutritious in their bellies to counteract the candy canes. This dish, Mom Made Chicken Apple Meatballs served with maple syrup for dipping, is the perfect protein you can prepare in a couple minutes and they can eat while unwrapping.

Prep Time – 3 min

Cook Time – 2 min…no kidding!

You will need:

  • Mom Made’s frozen, antibiotic-free Chicken & Apple Meatballs (8oz)
  • 1/4 Cup water
  • Organic maple syrup
  • Skewers or toothpicks (for serving)

Instructions:

  • Heat the meatballs on stovetop according to directions on the box.
  • Place on a plate and add some maple syrup for dipping!

Can't wait to hear what you think. Happy (peace-filled) holidays from the Mom Made family to yours!

easy MEATBALL LASAGNA

Try a "bumpy" Mom Made spin on homemade lasagna! 

This delicious, saucy lasagna is packed with tasty Mom Made Meatball Bites and can be made ahead of time! 

Prep Time: 20 minutes   

Cook Time: 1 hour  

Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes 

Yields: 8 servings

Ingredients:

1 (8 oz.) box Mom Made Beef & Cheese Meatball Bites, frozen, cut in half

1 jar (26 oz.) Tomato pasta sauce (any variety)

1 container (15 oz.) Ricotta cheese

1 Egg, beaten

2 Tbsp Fresh basil leaves, chopped (may use dried basil as well)

8 Uncooked lasagna noodles 

3 C Mozzarella cheese (12 oz.), shredded

¼ C Parmesan cheese (1 oz.), shredded

Instructions:

Spray 13x9” (3-quart) baking dish with cooking spray or olive oil. 

In medium bowl, mix ricotta cheese, egg & basil. 

Spoon ½ cup tomato sauce over bottom of baking dish and top with 4 noodles. Top with about half of the ricotta mixture, half of the meatballs, 1 C of tomato sauce and 1 C of the mozzarella cheese. Layer with remaining 4 noodles, remaining ricotta mixture, 1 C of tomato sauce, 1 C mozzarella cheese & remaining meatballs. Sprinkle with remaining 1 C mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese.

Spray sheet of foil with cooking spray; cover baking dish with foil.

Heat oven to 350°F and bake covered lasagna 45 minutes. Uncover; bake 10 to 20 minutes longer until bubbly, edges are golden brown and cheese is melted. 

Garnish with fresh chopped basil. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Freezes well. 

Do Ahead or Delegate:  Cut the meatballs in half. Make ricotta mixture.
Flavor Booster: Add chopped garlic and/or chopped onion to the tomato mix.

Side Dish Suggestion: Serve with a green salad.

dipping meatball APPETIZER

Meatballs, dipping sauces & some toothpicks ... what could be simpler?

Whether you're fixing a feast for youngsters or grandparents, this delicious dish is sure to delight!

Total Time: 5-8 Minutes

This one's super simple!  Just cook your favorite Mom Made Meatballs as directed on the box, pour some sauces in dipping bowls, set out some toothpicks, and you're good to go! This also works well for the kids who don't care for the Thanksgiving turkey as a no fuss protein. What sauce, you ask? We recommend cranberry, barbecue, and/or apple sauce to dip.

Enjoy!

Find Mom Made Meatballs here.

4 Ways to Involve Kids with Thanksgiving Preparation

Preparing for Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to get the kids involved with sharing some of the responsibilities in the kitchen. There are plenty of tasks your children can help with no matter what age.

  • Let each family member select one dish they’d like on the menu. Discuss what new foods they would be willing to try. Use this time to explain the importance of having a balanced meal that includes protein, vegetables and a variety of other dishes.
  • Let children help with table decorations. Ask them to craft some simple table decorations like placing colorful fall leaves in a bottle and create name cards for all your guests.
  • For kids who want to be more hands on with the prep work, give them a specific job in the meal preparation, i.e. mashing potatoes, chopping vegetables or stirring the gravy. (Of course, make sure they are being supervised when they are using sharp knives.)
  • On Thanksgiving, ask your kiddos to help set the dinner table. They can help fold napkins, set out the plates, put ice in the water glasses. Depending on the age, they can also carry plated dishes to the serving area.

Your kids will become more invested in the celebration and come to the table with pride in their contribution. Happy Thanksgiving from the Mom Made family to yours!

thanksgiving_leafdecor.jpg
thanksgiving_name-cards.jpg

Sous Chef Junior

If you love quality food as much as we do here at Mom Made, it only makes sense to get the kiddos involved in the kitchen! We believe in starting kids while they're young. It's genuine quality time while being productive in the kitchen. 

We encourage you to challenge your children to help with more than dessert. The more involved they are from a young age, the more they will learn to appreciate the joy of cooking and the link to healthy eating. 

Keep in mind - you know your kids way better than we do! Feel free to follow these age guidelines as you feel necessary. 

3-4 Years Old

  • Use cookie cutters
  • Rinse produce
  • Juice citrus fruit
  • Tear lettuce
  • Chop herbs (with much supervision if ready)
  • Cup soft fruits and vegetables (with much supervision if ready)

5-7 Years Old

  • Crack eggs
  • Form patties and meatballs
  • De-seed peppers (be sure to use gloves for hot peppers!)
  • Chop vegetables
  • Grease pans
  • Garnish dishes
  • Pour sauce
  • Use measuring spoons and cups
  • Shuck corn
  • Use microwave
  • Peel vegetables

8-10 Years Old

  • Use stove (to prepare eggs and other simple meals)
  • Use pizza cutter
  • Open can with can opener
  • Beat eggs
  • Pound chicken
  • Skewer food
  • Slice bread

10-12 Years Old

  • Boil pasta
  • Search for and follow simple recipes
  • Use oven
  • Use chef's knife
  • Simmer ingredients on stove-top
  • Make dressings
  • Cook a full meal!

If you're super confident in your new sous chef, give them the responsibility to plan and cook a full meal! You can relax in the living room, and enjoy having dinner made for you for a change. Regardless how involved your child was in their cooking responsibilities, they will come to the table proud of their participation and ready to try their creation.

Bon appetit!

 

Where to Donate Halloween Candy

Your Candy Will Bring Smiles

No matter how fun trick or treating is, the aftermath can lead to late nights, sour tummies, and fights over who gets the last mini kit-kat. So what’s a Mom or Dad to do when the candy long outlasts your little slugger’s costume? Donate it! It might be hard to believe (for candy-loving speed walkers) but donating your kids candy can help soldiers far from home feel warm and fuzzy, put a smile on a sick kid’s face who didn’t get to go house-to-house wearing their favorite superhero getup, and help families feel a little closer together when they don’t have a place to call home. Also, you can “donate” candy to science – there are some super cool experiments you can do with skittles, starbursts and lifesavers!

Operation Gratitude – Send candy to the troops around the world. No matter where a soldier is stationed, it’s probably far from home. What better way to celebrate a night of fun and frivolity than to send a sweet treat to those keeping us safe?! Operation Gratitude will gladly take your leftover candy (if you’re so inclined send some toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss too to keep their smiles sparkling and a handwritten note {reminding them to floss is optional}) and include it in the care packages they send to soldiers throughout the year.

Ronald MacDonald House – Families with sick kiddos can stay here for little to no cost during hospital stays to ensure that all kids have a “home-away-from-home.” Donating your candy to a local chapter of the RMHC can help put a smile on a face who might have had a tough day, long test schedule or just need a pick me up.

Local Homeless Shelters –If you want to donate your kids candy, and teach them a lesson in humility, try checking if the local homeless shelters accept donations of prewrapped candy. Little ones can make up goody bags with their leftover candy, and help out people in need. Many shelters have volunteer hours for high schoolers, families or just those who want to lend a helping hand. It never hurts to teach kids about life and how to make the world a better place.  

Science Experiments – Bring back the good ‘ole days by dropping Mentos into a bottle of coke (make sure you stand back!), drop Skittles in water and watch the S’s float to the top, and see if Lifesavers really do spark in the dark! 

Throw a Howlin’ Ghoulish Halloween Party

Hosting a Halloween party doesn’t have to stress out the head Mummy. 

Ask friends to bring their favorite dishes, whip up some spooky Witches Brew, throw together some meatball mummies, wrangled up your ghosts and goblins and you’ve got yourself a scary fun party. You can even help your fellow mom-sters by suggesting some creepy dishes to bring – such as severed fingers, spooky snakes, stuffed jack’o lanterns and even some brains! Your mini-brides, knights, Elvis’ and ponies won’t be able to stop talking about all the “gross” stuff they got to eat! Disclaimer: we take no responsibility for Junior telling strangers you made him eat “brains” for dinner.

Party Prep

No one wants to clean up after a party (major buzzkill), so order some scary easy paper plates and silverware that you can just bag up and recycle when the ghosts float home. Amazon has some great patterned party kits that can add a little spark to a super spooky night. We also found these awesome invitations on Paperless Post that will be easier to send out to potential partygoers than gathering howling wolves during a full moon.

 

Decorations!

Tick tock, tick tock – throw on either Hocus Pocus, or Casper to get the family in the Halloween mood. Then….put the kids to work…err….let them help….decorate the house by creating some handmade ghosts with tissues, black markers and string. Make spiders with construction paper, tape and red markers. String black and orange streamers from wall to ceiling to create a festive Halloween hall. Place “spider webs” around the house and complete the look with spider rings and fake flies. Et voila! You’re very own haunted house and party central!

 

The Witching Hour!

Mix up a cauldron of Witches Brew a few hours before your goblins arrive, dress in your favorite costume (we are in love with this one, and this one, and this one!) and fire up @pandora or @iheartradio’s Halloween stations to get some spooky good tunes pumping out of the house as your partygoers and trick or treaters start ringing the doorbell. Bonus points for pulling out your old Rocky Horror Picture Show album and spinning those retro vibes. 

Healthy Twist on Frozen Kid Favorite Meals

New Product Launch!

Mom Made is proud to introduce two new Mom Made Meals - Buttered Noodles with Chicken Meatballs and Cheesy Noodles with Beef Meatballs - that are now available in freezers at select Walmart and Safeway stores.

“We’re excited about these two new kid-favorite meals launching into stores nationally. These are the familiar, tasty meals that kids are clamoring for and that parents will turn to, knowing they'll result in big smiles and happy tummies,” said company founder and CEO Heather Stouffer. “With Mom Made’s Buttered Noodles with Chicken Meatballs and Cheesy Noodles with Beef Meatballs, we continue to broaden access, expand our product line and create a destination for health-conscious parents in the freezer aisle. These antibiotic-free, low sodium, protein rich and nutritious meals were tested extensively with kids and received excellent feedback.”

Seventeen kids came to celebrate the launch of the meals. Watch their reactions in this recorded live tasting. 

Festive Stars on Your Lawn

Easy and fun way to make your house festive for the 4th of July and a fun project for the kids!

What you will need:

  • A large piece of cardboard -The top of a pizza box works well!
  • Scissors
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Flour
  • Sifter

Step 1: Find a piece of cardboard and cut a big star to make your stencil.

Step 2: Fill your spray bottle with water. Then squirt the grass star with water thru your stencil.

Step 3: Once the grass is wet (with some extra help from the older kids :)), use a flour sifter and sift flour thru the stencil onto the grass. And carefully lift the stencil from the grass once you have covered it in flour.

And, there you go! Your lawn covered with festive stars will stop traffic. Don't forget to fly your flag too.

Happy 4th of July from our family to yours!

When to buy organic

The Environmental Working Group 2017 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ is very handy guide as a reference when buying produce. We use it as a guide to prioritize which fruits and veggies to buy organic -- at least until the day when we can buy 100% organic, 100% of the time!

The Dirty 12

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Potatoes

The Clean 15

  • Sweet Corn
  • Avocados
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Sweet Peas
  • Papayas
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplant
  • Honeydew
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Grapefruit

Visit EWG's site for more info on the Dirty 12 and Clean 15, and to download the 2017 guide.

Mom Made on Cooking Channel's "Unwrapped 2.0"

 Unwrapped 2.0

Unwrapped 2.0

Watch Mom Made production on the big screen! If you love everything cheesy, you'll love Cooking Channel's Unwrapped 2.0. Watch how we make the pasta fresh and the the secrets behind our 100% organic Mom Made Cheesy Mac that make it nutritious and delicious!

If your mouth is watering after watching and you're wondering where you can find this product, then it's time to head to the freezer aisle! Find a store near you.  You can also order Mom Made's Cheesy Mac online with free shipping on healthygoodness.com

Yummy!

Does your child move like a slug in the morning?

If your house is at all like ours, you have some kids who have no problem getting out of bed in the morning and getting themselves ready. They pop out of bed then get that morning routine done - no questions asked. While there are other kids who make this slug meme a reality and they make all of us parents miserable in the morning.

I have one of each and recently I'd reached the end of my patience with my "slug child." We've tried everything from earlier bedtimes to nagging, to offering to help, to offering rewards. Nothing worked. I researched on the internet and came across an app called The Happy Kids Timer for Morning Routines. Done. Anything was worth a try to improve our mornings.

The first morning we tried it, immediate success! Not only did it add time to my morning routine that I used to be spending checking in on my "slug" but it add happiness and smiles to all of our faces. This app has literally worked a miracle! My "slug" child went from taking over 40 minutes to get ready in the morning with constant reminders to now she's ready in 17 minutes and has time to play before school. There's no yelling, no reminders, no whining. Instead, there's pride, happiness, confidence and PEACE.

Best $0.99 ever spent! I've since referred this app to several friends who have slugs in their house. They too found that it works! 

What's your trick to peaceful, happy mornings?

Happy Kids Tmer

Pop'em Meatball Party Appetizer

A bite-size, super easy appetizer that all ages are sure to love!  Everyone will think they're homemade...shhhhhh!

Prep Time : No more than 10 minutes

Yield : Approx 12 (2 Meatballs per person)

Ingredients:

1 (8oz) box of Mom Made Beef & Cheddar Meatball Bites

Low sodium chicken broth or water

2 Tbsp olive oil

Your favorite sauce(s) for dipping (bbq, tomato sauce, teriyaki, mustard, ketchup, etc)

Toothpicks

Instructions:

Prep dipping sauces and serving platter. 10 minutes before you are ready to serve, heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in sauce pan over medium heat. Add meatballs to olive oil and heat for two minutes while turning meatballs until lightly brown. Add 1 C of water or chicken broth to pan and continue heating over medium heat for 5 minutes or until hot. With a slotted spoon, remove meatballs from pan and place on a plate with dipping sauce. Place a toothpick in each.

Enjoy!

(To find a store near you that carries Mom Made's Meatballs, click here.)

cropped_meatball_photo.jpg

Top Ten “Rules” for Successful and Positive Mealtimes with Your Kids

Mealtime can be hard. From getting the meal on the table to getting your kids to eating it, it's definitely stressful. Here are some tips on how to have successful and positive mealtimes with your kids.

  • Keep meals and snack times consistent and regular.
  • Eat as a family. Model good food habits and table manners. The kids will follow.
  • Sit down to eat and drink – don’t take meals on the run!
  • Keep a distraction-free eating area - no T.V., toys, or other distractions such as cell phones, laptops, or newspapers. That includes adults not jumping when they get a text during mealtime.
  • Provide a balance and variety of foods to keep kids interested satisfied.
  • Empower your child to make healthy choices about what to eat and how much. They will feel empowered, for example, if you offer them the option of healthy choice #1 or healthy choice #2, such as peas or carrots.
  • Don’t pressure your child to eat – this will backfire!
  • Respect your child’s choices and trust their natural ability to self regulate their food intake.
  • Set limits on age appropriate behavior at the table and stick to your boundaries.
  • Have fun! The less you stress at mealtimes, the more fun all of you will have!

Do you have other tips that work for you and your family?  Share them with us on Facebook and Twitter!

top10

Small Resolutions Can Change Lives

Motivation for your New Years Resolutions

Here it is January 6 and I am already questioning myself on where I am with my resolutions for this year. I am reminded of a true story and how one resolution can change lives forever…

Eighteen years ago, there was a great-looking, smart, single 20-something young man who made a New Years resolution that he needed to be more outgoing. On January 4, four days after he made the resolution, it was Saturday night and he went out with his buddies. He challenged himself to go introduce himself to some cute gals at the bar where they were. So he approached a group of three gorgeous women who were chatting away in the middle of a packed dance floor. His initial words to them were, “You gals need to stop talking and start dancing. What are you doing out here if you’re not going to dance?” The end. Well, not really…

That group of women was me and two of my best friends from college and that young man turned out to be the man I married. What’s so ironic in all of this is that I was always one who never liked meeting anyone in bars and that he is not the type for “hitting on girls” in bars.  But, bottom line, we’ve been happily married for 17+ years (and hopefully a lifetime to come!) and we have two beautiful children, all thanks to the New Years resolution he made in 1998.

My resolutions for 2017, and ways I hope make them happen, include:

1. Spending more time playing with my kids during the week and make sure to have one-on-one time. This means I need to somehow make more out of my already limited home time. When I cook, it eats into my playtime with the kids. So I aim to make larger portions and freeze meals, which will take me out of the kitchen and enable me to make more forts and build more towers. 

2. Trimming those few final pounds. For me, this means cutting back in a few areas, such as less lunches out during the work week, higher portion of veggies in every meal, less carbs, having healthy snacks always on hand at the office, etc. I have some exercise goals to go along with this - spin classes 1-2x/week and yoga 1-2x/week.

3. Having a night out with my girlfriends at least once a month. No more excuses. 

4. Planning ahead for date nights this year whether at home or going out with that handsome husband of mine.

What are your 2017 resolutions, and how do you plan to make them stick?  All of us need the support, regardless of where we are on the ‘healthy scale.’  Small choices and slight changes can have huge impacts! One day at a time.