Most boy moms will tell you it takes a lot of time and effort to fill those hungryboy bellies. In part 2 of our ‘Raising Teen Boys’ series, seasoned boy mom Michele Morin shares some of her favorite cheap and easy recipes to both satisfy your hungry boys and help you create lasting memories of gathering together in love.
One parenting lesson I learned while sitting in the driver’s seat of a blue minivan is still vivid in my memory today: End of day pick-ups were much more pleasant if I appeared in the school parking lot with a snack.
Some days, raising four boys felt like standing up to my neck in food preparation. I loved having their friends visit for both planned and impromptu gatherings, and some of my sweetest memories happened with just the six of us seated around the dining room table. Loving my family well with food that was both delicious and nutritious was a joy—and it was also a lot of work.
Even though my nest is empty now, I am never without these basics in my freezer
- English Muffins
- Pizza Sauce (My Own Homemade Version, But A Store Bought Jar In Your Pantry Is Fine)
- Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- A Container of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls
On a recent Saturday, two of my sons landed here to work with their dad on rust-proofing all their trucks. Grandkids soon followed, and suddenly there were seven people at my house for lunch!
No problem! ‘The basics’ came to my rescue with “Pizza Babies,” chips and salsa, carrot sticks, and hot-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies for dessert.
Here’s the game plan:
- Split English muffins and toast under the broiler until lightly browned and crisp.
- Spread each toasted half with pizza sauce.
- Sprinkle mozzarella cheese and add your favorite pizza toppings.
- Place back under the broiler for a minute or two, just until the cheese melts and the toppings become crispy around the edges.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 4½ Cups Flour
- 2 Cups Shortening
- 2 Cups Brown Sugar
- 1 Cup White Sugar
- 2 T. Vanilla
- 4 Eggs
- 4½ Cups Flour
- 2 T. Baking Soda
- 12 Ounce Bag Chocolate Chips
- Cream together sugars with shortening, then add vanilla and eggs.
- Once this mixture is fluffy and light, add flour and baking soda.
- Combine thoroughly and then add chocolate chips.
- Scoop onto lightly greased pan and bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes OR store the scoops of cookie dough in your freezer and bake them a dozen at a time for fresh, hot cookies in less than 20 minutes!
ON THE ROAD
We put well over 200,000 miles on our blue minivan. And whether we were on road trips or quick trips to the high school gym, food was always part of the journey. It may not be documented (yet) in biology text books, but it’s a well-known fact that boys with full bellies travel much more contentedly than boys without full bellies.
“Good Old Raisins and Peanuts” (GORP) is a standby for portable nutrition. Little plastic cups for individual servings keep grubby hands out of the container and (most of) the peanuts off the vehicle floor. Simply combine a box of raisins, a jar of peanuts, and a bag of M&M’s and stir them up. Note: Your family will likely have opinions about the correct ratio of peanuts to raisins, etc.
Then, for something more substantial to take on the road, “Lemon Pound Cake Muffins” provide a sturdy snack that stays fresh for a couple of days after they’re baked, and they can be eaten without a lot of crumbs. The sour/sweet glaze is a real hit with my crew!
Lemon Pound Cake Muffins
- 1¾ Cups All-Purpose Flour
- ½ Cup Butter, softened
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 2 Large Eggs, room temperature
- ½ Cup Sour Cream
- 1 t. Lemon Extract
- ¼ t. Baking Soda
- ½ t. Salt
- 1 Cup Confectioners’ Sugar
- 3 T. Lemon Juice
- Cream the softened butter and sugar until fluffy and then add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add lemon extract.
- Combine the flour, salt, and baking soda, and alternate with sour cream in adding them to the creamed mixture.
- Fill 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups ¾ full.
- Bake at 400 degrees until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean—approximately 15-20 minutes.
- Cool thoroughly before adding glaze. Combine the glaze ingredients and drizzle over muffins right before serving.
ARE WE THERE YET?
When the answer is, “Yes, we’re here!” unload the picnic basket and let the fun begin. Picnic table meals don’t have to be complicated. “Mini-Italian Sandwiches” and “Picnic Pasta Salad” are two stars of our picnic basket menu.
- Finger Rolls
- Ham Slices
- Cheese Slices
- Finely Chopped Onion
- Thin Tomato Wedges
- Thinly Sliced Green Pepper
- Dill Pickles
- Black Olives
- Slice finger rolls along the top, or if your children are older (and hungrier!) consider using hot dog buns or even sub rolls.
- Fill rolls with desired ingredients or, alternatively, chop and slice a good supply of everything, package it all up in sealed containers, and bring them along for make-your-own sandwich individuality.
Picnic Pasta Salad
My recipe makes a LOT because my guys are pasta lovers. Adjust the amount by halving (or even quartering) the amount of pasta you cook.
- 2 Boxes Pasta, cooked, drained, and cooled (I use two different shapes)
- Chopped Red Onion
- Sliced Black (or Kalamata) Olives
- Cubed Swiss (or Crumbled Feta) Cheese
- Chopped Red and Green Peppers
- Chopped Pepperoni
- In a very large bowl with a tight cover, add to the cooled pasta any or all of the above ingredients.
- Combine in the amounts that look delicious to your family’s eyes and then, right before serving, drizzle with either a purchased balsamic vinaigrette dressing—or throw together my favorite home-made version:
Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
- 1 T. Dijon Mustard
- 4 T. Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 t. Sugar
- ½ t. Salt
- ½ t. Pepper
- ½ Cup Olive Oil
- 1 t. Herb of Your Choice: Chives, Basil, Thyme, or Oregano
Combine ingredients in a travel-safe container and shake vigorously. Pour over salad right before serving.
START THE DAY OUT STRONG AND HAPPY!
I loved making cinnamon rolls for my family, and who doesn’t enjoy waking up to the smell of warm, spicy, sweetness? But honestly, the traditional recipe would have required me to get up at 3:00 a.m. to start the dough’s first rising, and that just doesn’t work. Then I discovered a recipe for bread dough that rises overnight in the refrigerator. The rolls are all made in advance and ready to go into the oven in the morning. Needless to say, we’ve had cinnamon rolls a lot more often since then!
Overnight Rising Cinnamon Rolls
- 2 T. Active Dry Yeast
- 2 Cups Warm Water
- ½ Cup Sugar
- ½ Cup Oil
- 1 Egg
- 1½ t. Salt
- 5½ – 6 Cups Flour
- 2 T. Cinnamon
- 2 Cups Sugar
- ¾ Cup Softened Butter
- 2/3 Cup Powdered Sugar
- 1 T. Warm Water
- 1 t. Vanilla
- NOTE: Adjust amount of liquid to achieve desired drizzle effect.
The Day Before:
- Dissolve yeast in water first, and then add remaining dough ingredients, mixing until a soft and manageable dough forms.
- Knead for a few minutes, and then spread the dough out in a well-greased baking sheet.
- Mix filling ingredients and then distribute them over the dough.
- Roll up, starting on a long side and slice into even pieces. (I use dental floss for this.) The number of rolls will depend on how large you want them. I usually get around 20—enough for the family and extras to share!
- As you are cutting the rolls, simply place them on the greased baking sheet you’re using, leaving a bit of space between each one. Cover with plastic wrap and sleep well, knowing that you will be a hero with your family in the morning!
In the Morning:
- About a half hour before breakfast time, remove rolls from the fridge and set at room temperature for 15 minutes while the oven preheats. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove promptly from the pan because the filling sticks as it cools. Once they are safely on a platter, drizzle glaze generously.
The same bread dough recipe can be used to make a savory breakfast alternative. Always my favorite treat to serve to my guys and their friends the morning after a sleepover, it’s ultimately customizable with combinations of egg, meat, and cheese, but I’ll share my favorites here.
- Prepare one recipe of overnight rising bread dough, and divide the dough into two pieces. Spread the dough to cover two well-oiled pizza pans. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to rise overnight.
- In the morning, remove from the fridge and set at room temperature while you scramble one egg for each pizza, and spread the egg over the crust as if it were pizza sauce.
- Cover with a generous layer of grated cheese. I have used mozzarella and also a combination of mozzarella and cheddar.
- Cut a dozen round sausage patties into 4 triangles each and distribute them over the pizzas. Sliced ham or leftover pieces of ham are also good, and if your family likes mushrooms, onions, and peppers first thing in the morning, pile them on!
- Place in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until the crust is lightly browned on the bottom and the egg is well set.
CHEAP AND EASY TAKES PLANNING
In the thick of raising boys, cheap and easy meals happen best with some pre-planning. Take a screenshot of this shopping list for your next trip to the grocery store, and you’ll have everything you need to make these meals happen in your kitchen:
- English Muffins
- Favorite Herbs
- Pizza Sauce
- Sour Cream
- Dijon Mustard
- Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- Lemon Extract
- Favorite Pizza Toppings
- Sliced Cheese
- Lemon Juice
- Favorite Breakfast Meats
- Brown Sugar Sliced Ham
- Shredded Cheddar
- Tomatoes Capers
- Baking Soda
- Green Pepper
- Dill Pickles
- White Sugar
- Black and/or Kalamata Olives
- Confectioners’ Sugar
- Choc. Chips
- Feta or Swiss Cheese
- Olive/Vegetable Oil
- Balsamic Vinegar
May your family gather with joy around God’s gift of food, and may those hungry boy bellies always be filled with goodness!
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