Homemade French Toast Sticks for the Freezer

freezer french toast sticks

One of my favorite blogs,  AndreaDekker.com, posted recently on French Toast Sticks.  My kids LOVE the store bought version, which of course, is not my ideal healthy breakfast for most days- or the cheapest, at the rate we can go through them! In my recent efforts to change their little sugary taste-buds, I wanted to make my own version of these, and freeze them.  Inspired  by this blogger, who had a recipe for freezing the sticks, I decided to try it, and make these for later in the week.

I changed the type of bread and amounts, but the recipe turns out great!

It was super easy prep:

french toast sticks

Dredge in egg mixture and cook all at once, then remove to a parchment-lined pan to cool:

french toast sticks

Then freeze, while they are flat, and then transfer to a ziplock bag (sorry, no photo, but I think you can figure that one out!).

You definitely want to slice the bread before you dredge in the egg mixture,- it makes them let flattened out and more pleasing to look at!  I don’t know how healthy these are, but they are homemade, which always has less weird additives and sugar than the store-bought version.  Plus I want the kids to get used to homemade versions of their favorite packaged foods- changing their taste buds in a way that is less shocking to their little selves!

Homemade Freezer French Toast Sticks

Ingredients

  • 14 slices whole wheat sandwich bread
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, optional

Instructions

Directions:

Stack 5 slices of bread up on top of each other and align them the long way facing you. Using a serrated knife, cut the stack three ways,

In a deep-dish pie plate, mix the eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon until well combined.  Heat the 1Tbsp butter in a large pan over medium heat.

Dunk each piece of the sliced bread into the egg/milk mixture and place on the pan. Cook on one side until lightly browned, then flip over and cook until done.

Remove the cooled sticks, and put on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Continue this process until all the sticks are cooked.  Now you can enjoy these right now if you don’t let them cool! Or you can let them cool completely and freeze.

To Freeze:

When they are cooled, place the lined cookie sheet filled with the sticks, in the freezer for about one hour or until frozen. If you had too many for one cookie sheet, place another layer of parchment or waxed paper on top before you put any on top-they will stick otherwise.  Once frozen, remove and transfer to a large gallon sized freezer bag. Make sure to label with contents and date. Put in freezer until ready to use.

When you want to make these, just remove the amount that you want and heat in a toaster oven or conventional oven until toasty. Makes 42 french toast sticks.

http://hardlyagoddess.com/homemade-french-toast-sticks-for-the-freezer/

Can’t wait for these to take out on Wednesday night for the meal plan! I think the kids will be really happy for this fun meal- perhaps a rare dinner smile from my picky people!

March Menu Plan

I told you that I’d try to get out a meal plan for you all this month before the end of the weekend, and I did- but I also realized that I haven’t included many recipes on here that I actually use, so I will be doing a lot of catch-up and make-ahead posts to help build up the recipe archive.

This time around, the meal-idea-making was a big challenge for me.  Not only to plan out a full month of dinners, but March is a super long month- actually just 5 weeks- but it seemed super long when I had to think of all those dinners!

march menu for dinners

March Menu 2015

The way that I use this calendar is very interchangeable and flexible for me, so I can easily change it up depending on meat sales at various stores, or make changes if something unexpectedly comes up in our schedule: an overnight visit from family, an impromptu dinner out, take-out because I am sick of cooking!… But knowing each week what I will need to buy for a menu, lets me make a really easy grocery list.  I was happy with how well it worked in February, despite some upheaval in my picky-eater’s club.  They haven’t managed mutiny yet, and I think they just may come around evenually!  I have definitely seen some improvements through all those tears…mine and theirs! This a life-changer for me, I know.  I am preaching to myself here a bit, as March, truly is a long month.  Wish me good luck and cooking once again!

Breaking the month down for you, by week:

March 1-7

  • Spaghetti & Meatballs – salad – bread
  • Crockpot porkloin – potatoes – veg
  • Turkey Kielbasa with pierogi – veg
  • Homemade Frenchtoast Sticks – fruit salad
  • Lasagna Roll-ups -veg tray
  • Willow-Tree Chicken Pie – potato – veg.

March 8-14

  • Healthier Chicken Parm – bread, salad
  • Quesadillas
  • Chicken Mini-Sliders, potato fries
  • Whole chicken in crockpot
  • Soup made with broth from whole chicken
  • Homemade pizza
  • Baked BBQ chicken legs, veg, rice

March 15-21

  • 3-Pepper Skillet Pork Chops (this recipe is awesome!)
  • Homemade Crispy Chicken Nuggets
  • Slow Cooker Corned Beef
  • Breakfast for dinner- Hash from Corned Beef
  • Steak Tips, oven fries, veg
  • Homemade Pizza
  • Maple-Dijon Chicken Thighs

March 22- 28

  • Stuffed Shells
  • Black Bean Soup, grilled cheeses, veg-tray
  • Pasta, chicken, sausage, veg
  • Tacos
  • Oven Baked Pork Chops

March 29-April 4

  • Spaghetti & Meatballs
  • CC Pancakes, eggs, bacon
  • Quick Chicken Marsala
  • Salsa Chicken Pasta
  • Mini-meatloaves, oven fries, veg.

As, I said, I will be posting lots of these recipes above, but also some fun ones in-between- so Stay Tuned and Share with your friends, and please comment if a recipe or this meal plan is working for you!

Healthy Chicken Salad with Apples

Today is a make-ahead day.  It is my home-day from work, and it is freezing outside, yet again –Actually snowing again.  It is a day to  keep warm by keeping the oven on by cooking and baking ahead for the weekend.  A weekend that is sure to be too busy or too warm (haha), if I allow myself to be a little hopeful!

I have a lot of recipes that are make-ahead friendly. Many of them good for lunches, the meal plan, or the freezer. I rounded up just a few that I could do before lunch, baked or made them, and then, being hungry, decided to make lunch:

chicken salad with apples

 

Can you just tell me how delicious this looks? It was extremely good served over this peppery arugula.  I gave it to my husband on a romaine salad. He felt very virtuous, keeping it off a nice crusty roll- but I would very much enjoy it that way next time around!

I had made a whole chicken in the crockpot, and I froze a lot of the chicken that I didn’t use right away.  It was perfect for a quick and healthy lunch or dinner, without having to cook anything, or use a store-bought cooked chicken that costs so much more for so much less meat.

Healthy Chicken Salad with Apples

Yield: Makes enough for 4 people.

Healthy Chicken Salad with Apples

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked chicken, shredded or cubed
  • 1/3 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 green apple, peeled and diced
  • 1 small stalk celery, diced fine
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup real mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp.chopped fresh parsley
  • fresh ground pepper to taste

Instructions

Put all ingredients in a large bowl, and mix thoroughly. The more you mix it, the creamier it gets! I like to have a lot of freshly ground pepper on top too!

http://hardlyagoddess.com/healthy-chicken-salad-with-apples/

Then of course, I had to try all these goodies, before I put them in the freezer or away!

Anykind muffins

These are the AAA Muffins: Chocolate-Coconut Minis & Blueberry

AAA Anykind muffins

These guys look pretty happy!

Aren’t these guys so funny!? They have such different taste in food– One is chocolate, one vanilla for sure!  They were standing next to each other like that already, before I took the picture…my little buddies.{sigh}

Then I made more of this awesomeness- one loaf already gone and it’s not even been 4 hours…Which is why I seriously make this once a week!

Chocolate Zucchini bread

…and then I did boring-ish stuff, like prep veggies for the kids:

prep veggies

…and make taco seasoning and cooked the taco meat for dinner.  By the way, does everyone put pureed beans or refried beans in their taco meat, to get more out of it? Just saying.  It literally doubles the “meat” and my kids have no issues because they can’t see it or taste it.

So I am done for now.  We are having homemade pizza tonight, as the kids and my husband observe Lent- so no prepping for that one.  I bought store-bought dough, and you can imagine the rest- this is one meal that you’d think is very picky-kid friendly right? Well…I have one who likes only the corner crusts, one who only like the middle pieces (it is a rectangle) cut up, one who likes only the sides, and another crust lover who requires extra sauce for dipping.  Seriously.  You think I am joking that they are picky. I clearly, am not!  The good news here, is that for the most part they divvy up the pizza pretty well, without fighting over the best pieces!

I am putting together a new month-long meal plan that I will get out by the end of the weekend for you, so if you want to follow along, or get some ideas, I’d love to know about it!

Easy 5 Ingredient CrockPot Mushroom Soup

5 ingredient crockpot mushroom soup

Have you seen my meal plan yet? Well, Crockpot Mushroom Soup was on it, and knowing my kids and the process of satisfying my picky eaters, I added grilled cheese to the night’s menu, knowing that they would eat at least this… and just asked them to “try the soup; you will love this!”

They don’t trust me anymore.  They did not love this.  There were tears.  That is the bad news.

The very good news was that both my husband and I did!  And then, because there were leftovers, we got to eat if for lunch the next day! Win. I did earn back my kids’ trust temporarily, so there is hope for me yet, but I am not sure I would offer this soup up to a picky palate.  I am posting this not as a great recipe for that population, but for people who love soup, love easy dinners, and love mushrooms.  That would definitely be me.

Seriously easy soup.  This was the extent of my prep:

Honestly, I love the simplicity of this soup!

Honestly, I love the simplicity of this soup!

Originally, the recipe that I used to make like this one, called to saute the veggies, but it didn’t change the flavor at all, so I made it even easier in my version.  So besides saving calories from the butter and oil used in sauteing, I took out the half and half from my old recipe, and used evaporated skim milk instead, which gives it a creamy consistency, but not the fat. If you don’t like evaporated milk, I have also done this with 1% milk, and it tastes yummy still, but not as “creamy.”

Easy 5 Ingredient Slow Cooking Soup

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Yield: Makes 4 big bowls, or 2 hungry parents, twice!

Easy 5 Ingredient Slow Cooking Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow/white onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed/minced
  • 2 pounds white or baby-bella muchrooms, sliced
  • 3 cups, or one carton beef broth
  • 1 14-15 ounce can of evaporated skim milk (or 1 cup milk)

Instructions

1. Spray a 4qt. crockpot.

2. Put the chopped vegetables and broth in the crockpot.

3. Set to low for 8 hours, or high for 4.

4. When done, add milk.

5. Process in blender until smooth.

6. Add back to crockpot and warm, or I transfer to a pot and heat this way because it is faster.

Notes

I serve this with croutons (homemade or store-bought) and minced parsley.

http://hardlyagoddess.com/easy-5-ingredient-crockpot-mushroom-soup/

So ridiculously easy.  I totally have to get the kids to learn to love this!

*Note: If you are following Lent right now,  you can sub the beef broth for vegetable broth and enjoy tomorrow!

 

Growing Older…Gracefully

Yes- I was born in the 70′s. Mothers just dressed their girls like boys. Oy.

I spent last night chatting with my cousin who is in her twenties.  She is entering that time where you are just realizing what it means to pay the bills, pay off loans, not get the perfect job, but accept the one you are offered.  She is now still loving her night-life, but bemoaning her single-life.  As old-married’s with a load of kids, my husband and I are a perfect example of why she should really enjoy being free from family obligation, or a life tied to one job or place. Now that I am the unfortunate decade of my 40’s, I feel like I have at least a little life experience- not all of it good, but all of it a learning experience –that my own twenty-year old self could really have benefited from:

Don’t sweat the small stuff. You have to keep in mind that you have so much ahead of you and lots of time, but now would be the best time to travel abroad, explore dating instead of relationship-ing, try out pink hair or a painfully shocking hairdo .  You will have lots of time later in life to dress for work, have a family, stay at home, and learn to iron.  Try something new.  Break up with that terrible boyfriend- there are many more options if only you would allow yourself to be single!

If I had to write a little letter myself in my thirties:

Enjoy it.  I lie about being in my thirties. I am a wanna-be thirty.  Enjoy it- 30’s are the.best.

Now, I can’t of course, project into the future and write myself a letter to my future-self, but as people often do, I have friends and family that I can learn from now. There are many things that could give me some good perspective:

I think (and strongly hope) that my 50’s will be just like my 40’s but maybe better.  The kids will be old enough that my husband and I could go on dates again. Watching them do sports and enter their own lives as young adults I think will be great and my 50’s I am frankly not too worried about.

Now, How about 60’s?  That sounds old again, like 40 does.  No offense, but I am allowed to say this, because, as I said, I am in the 40’s and I think they sound very, very old!

I think 70’s might be hard too.  People start to get old when they hit 70.  My mom is dealing with this now, and I know you start to see your friends age, and eyes, ears, and bodies fail.  I think when you are 70 you move to Florida.  Winter is way to F-ing hard.

80-90’s: Is there even a difference between these two?  You can let me know in the comments!

100+’s: Enter Nana.  My husband’s grandmother will turn 102 this year.  Her hearing is not so good, but she has all her original teeth, eats 3 strips of bacon and a muffin every single day for breakfast, has her hair dyed and set bi-weekly, walks every day, and reads 4-5 books every week. She is my ageing idol  She has seen so many friends and loved ones come…and go.  I think she had a harder time with it in her nineties and now when someone passes, she just accepts it totally as a passage of life, but bemoans the loss of a friend more as leaving her feeling lonely, rather than especially sad.  She needs people, and visitors.  This is something that we try to do as does most of her family.  She is the epitome of keep-on-keepin’-on, and I have adopted some of her outlook, as my own:

You have to accept aging as another stage of life, yet also try to be your own personal best throughout – whether that means putting on makeup every morning, reading every day…or just getting out of bed! 

 Just putting one foot in front of another must have been hard at some point for a 102 year old woman, like Nana.  Perhaps when her husband died.  Her sister, friends, and brother too.  When they moved her out of her house and into a facility.  When she stopped being able to drive.

I think having friends and family at various stages of life is so enriching for a perspective on age.  I love having friends that do not have small children, so that my own life-view doesn’t get too narrow in focus- we find other things in common.  I have much younger friends and much older, and we can always find common interests that go beyond our ages.  My perspectives of age, get more accepting as I get older;  So her is my new letter:

Letter to myself everyday in my 40’s (Aka. Now):

Love this day.

Any little bit. 

Every day is a gift… so accept it gracefully.

And say, “Thank you.”

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

I am three weeks now into my meal planning today.  I told you that I would be posting some of the recipes that I am using as good family meals to make ahead or really quickly assemble them after work or school.  Here is my slow cooking version of an already easy meal.  I served this on the side of buttered noodles for the kids…

Beef stroganoff

and right on top for rest those of us who know how to eat our food mixed all together!

beef stroganoff

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

Serving Size: Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1- 1 1/2 pounds round steak, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp.kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about ¾ cup)
  • 1 small package sliced mushrooms (8 oz.)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2/3 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed

Instructions

In a bowl, mix the flour, salt and pepper. Put the steak into this mixture, and thoroughly coat. Shake off excess flour and put steak into the crock pot.

Add sliced onion, mushrooms, broth, and Worcestershire sauce.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high 4-5.

When it is done cooking, add the sour cream and thawed peas to the mixture, and allow to warm. Serve over noodles.

http://hardlyagoddess.com/crockpot-beef-stroganoff/

I have to tell you…this tastes WAY better than it looks in my kind of grossly-lighted pictures! Admittedly, the steak-part was only received well by one kid…the rest, we are working on!  Keepin’ On, my friends.