Friday, October 11, 2013

THE Famous Family Meatloaf

For just about forever (or for as long as I can remember) we have used the same meatloaf recipe. It came from my sister's childhood cookbook (and yes, I am the mean little sister who swiped it and kept if for herself ;0) ). It is fantastic and super easy. It even transitioned with us when I started using ground turkey instead of ground beef.
 It is a staple recipe in this house and I just realized after all this time that it was never posted here. If I should ever lose this book, I'd be devastated since it's out of print and my favorite meatloaf recipe would be gone with it. So, without further ado, here it is!


1 egg
1/2 cup tomato sauce (I use ketchup most of the time)
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs or cracker crumbs (I've used both of those, broken up herbed stuffing or even oatmeal in a pinch)
1/4 cup chopped onion (I just chop up half an onion and throw it in there...maybe the whole one if it's small)
2 pounds ground beef (as stated before, I use ground turkey)
2 teaspoons salt (sometimes I use garlic salt)
1/8 teaspoon pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Break egg into a bowl, add tomato sauce and beat until fluffy.
3. Add bread crumbs, onion, meat, salt and pepper. Mix well with hands.
4. Place mixture in a lightly greased loaf pan and pat into shape.
5. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes or until done (sometimes mine doesn't take that long).

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ratatouille Bake

So, I got an eggplant in my Italian themed Veggie Lover Pack with my last Bountiful Basket and have not yet figured out what to do with it...well, until now! Found this great recipe on and I'm gonna go for it! I'll take my own picture and update the post once I've made it and of course gobbled it all up! It's what's for dinner tonight!!


1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 cups peeled and diced eggplant
2 cups chopped zucchini
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 (8 ounce) package frozen cheese ravioli
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C); spray a 2 1/2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; cook and stir the garlic, onion, and eggplant with the garlic until the vegetables have begun to soften, about 8 minutes. Stir in the zucchini, bell pepper, tomatoes, basil, parsley, salt, and black pepper; bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
3. Cook the frozen ravioli as directed on the package; drain. Spread the cooked ravioli in a layer into the bottom of the prepared baking dish; spoon the hot vegetables over the ravioli. Sprinkle with the cheese.
4. Bake in the preheated oven until the casserole is bubbling and the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

You avoid food dyes? Yes, we do!

How do you do it?

We have had a lot of friends ask about this.  As most of our friends know, my son has ADHD. Now, it's not "scientifically proven" that food dies cause his ADHD, BUT we do know that some dyes more than other push his behaviors over the edge. So, in the spirt of ADHD Awareness Month, I'm going to post about this.

Now, I am going to be honest with you. We are not 100% clean eaters. We do "occasionally" have food dyes. By occasional, I mean, we let birthday celebrations and other special occasions go. We try to avoid the dyes we know trigger his behaviors more than others. For example: Red 40 is not our friend. So, instead of getting the slice of cake that chocolate with red and black frosting all over it, we opt for a white piece of cake with white frosting or any color other than anything that would contain red, like yellow, blue, green. It's not easy and you almost need an art degree in color theory to remember that red + blue = purple and red + yellow = orange. So, with holidays we are a little more relaxed as well. We clean out the candy at Halloween and try to stay away from all those red suckers for Valentines Day. It's not easy and we definitely have a few sad faces but we remember that we're lucky to have what we have and have the opportunity to celebrate and so far, that works for us!

So, how do we do it? We read. A lot.

So, first things first. What is an artificial food dye?

Well, basically its an ingredient added that will provide color to the food. So, here's my handy charts that display the main types of artificial dyes out there and a little bit of what they're used in, in general.

So, real quick. Let's look at "natural dyes". These are food coloring but they come from natural food sources. So, for us, they're safe!

So how do we know what dyes are in our food? Well, if it comes out of the ground, a plant or animal AND not further processed then most likely it has not been colored.

I wrote to General Mills this time last year asking about food colors and they gave me a great explanation:

Ingredient listings printed on the outside of our product packages provide consumers with an opportunity to know the ingredients used before making a buying decision. The ingredient(s) you are referring to may be present as part of “natural or artificial flavors”, “natural or artificial colors”, or “spices” included on the ingredient listing.

When "color added" is listed on a product, the color is a natural color, but may not be natural to the product ingredients.  Anytime that an artificial color is added to a product, it is required to be listed in the ingredient panel.  All FD&C colors are required by law to be listed.

So, whip out those magnifying glasses and grab a few boxes of food out of your cabinets! How about that box of Macaroni & Cheese. You'd think, hey, it's macaroni and it's cheese. Well, it is BUT read the label. It has a nice long list of what's in it.

So, our super popular Macaroni & Cheese does have two artificial food dyes. Yellow 5 & Yellow 6.

Let's look at Pop Tarts! Everyone LOVES those! Pastry and FRUIT!!

So, we're a little disappointed in the promise of real fruit. I'm sure it's in there somewhere with the Red 40 and Yellow 6. Did you also see Caramel Color? And Riboflavin?So, there are a few natural ones too.

Let's not forget our children's medications. Take a look at this widely used medication:

For medications you'll need to look at the "Inactive Ingredients". We see Red 33 and Blue 1. The regular cherry flavor is known to have Red 40.

I know I've shown all brand name items BUT it also is in your generic items too. Wether it is a brand name, generic or even if it says all natural or organic, LOOK CAREFULLY!! It's just good practice and you'll get more and more used to knowing what's there and what's not.

So this all comes down to reading your labels. It's not rocket science but it takes time and patience. It took us a little while to find the products we love that don't have the dreadful dyes but now that we're into it, it's easier. Also, once you eliminate everything for awhile you can see what really effects your children. For us, we eliminated as much as we could for a good few months. Well, we had noticed that his skin became clearer and he was in general just a bit calmer. Then Valentine's Day came around and our boy got a HUGE red sucker. We let him have it so he didn't feel left out. Well, the next day he woke up with a windburn type redness around his mouth. BINGO! So, we know for sure that the Red 40 is not our friend.  So, that is the one we stay away from the most. Somethings you just can't unless you make your own. For example, pickles. Store bought pickles contain yellow. Well, my take is 1-2 pickles on my kid's cheeseburger isn't worth my time BUT those lovely frozen drinks, we get the white cherry A LOT! It's not about making my kids feel left out but making them still be able to have treats and fun without those pesky ingredients.

So, this is my process in a nutshell. If you have ANY questions or need help, go ahead and comment below. I'd be happy to help any way that I can!