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Party Plan: Back to School

It’s time for school! From breakfast to dinner, keep things easy with convenient and healthy recipes.

It’s time for school! Start the day with a healthy breakfast…you’ve got lots of tasty choices! From Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins to Spinach, Sausage and Egg Breakfast Burritos and Mushroom, Spinach and Cheese Egg Cups, give your students (and yourself) the brain food to learn all day long. For lunch, pack some portable Easy Ham and Cheese Pocket Sandwiches or Mason Jar Cobb Salads...include a fun note with stickers and stamps for a special touch!

Dinner is a snap with easy weeknight recipes like Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken with Vegetables, 30-Minute Chicken Tikka Masala and Stacked Beef Enchiladas with Avocado Cream Sauce. Try Oven Dried Pineapple for desserts, or whip up delicious Butterscotch Pudding and Oreo Parfaits.

Feeling crafty? Set the kids up with a constructive activity, like a Kid-Friendly Lunch Assembly Area, or learn How to Make a DIY Snack Station. You can even make some memories with a Back to School Photo Booth. This school year is gonna be great…say cheese!

30-Minute Chicken Tikka Masala

30-Minute Chicken Tikka Masala

Created by: Julia Mueller, The Roasted Root

Chicken Tikka Masala is the first item I order whenever I try out a new Indian restaurant. While I’m a huge fan of Indian food in general and wholeheartedly embrace every last meal on the menu, the masala dishes are my all-time favorite. I tend to gauge the goodness of a restaurant based on the flavor of its masala.

For those who are unfamiliar, masala is a tomato and cream-based sauce made with onion, ginger, garlic and aromatic Indian spices, like cumin, coriander and paprika. While masala sauces are usually slow-cooked for hours on end in order to release the full flavor of the spices, most people don’t have the time or forethought to go through the lengthy process.

After making chicken tikka masala numerous times at home, I’ve found the dish can be prepared quickly and easily in less than an hour. In fact, I’ve gotten the meal down to a 30-minute prep time, making it an easy (and healthful) go-to for any weeknight meal.

Ingredients:
  • ¼ cup coconut oil (or olive oil), divided
  • 1 lb. Simple Truth Boneless Chicken Breasts, chopped into ½-inch to 1-inch cubes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and grated 
  • 1 (14.5-oz) can Kroger Diced Tomatoes, drained
  • 1 Tbsp. Kroger Tomato Paste
  • 1-1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper, optional
  • ½ tsp. sea salt, to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp. honey or pure maple syrup
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice or cider vinegar
  • 1 cup Kroger full-fat canned coconut milk (or heavy cream)
  • Cooked quinoa or rice and fresh cilantro for serving

30 minute Chicken Tikka Masala3

Directions:
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil over medium-high in a non-stick skillet. Add the chopped chicken and brown 3-5 minutes, until juices have released, but meat is not cooked through. Drain the chicken of the juices and transfer the chicken to a bowl.
  2. Wipe out the skillet using a paper towel and return to the stove top over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, along with the chopped onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook another 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, garam masala, cumin seeds, coriander, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and pure maple syrup. Cook covered for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Transfer this mixture to a blender along with the coconut milk (or cream) and blend until completely smooth. Return sauce to the skillet along with the chicken, cinnamon stick and lime juice and bring everything to a gentle boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 5-8 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Taste the tikka masala for flavor and add sea salt to taste.
  5. Serve chicken tikka masala over cooked quinoa or rice with fresh cilantro.

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Butterscotch Pudding and Oreo Parfaits

Butterscotch Pudding and Oreo Parfaits

Created by: Sharon Garofalow, Cupcakes and Cutlery

My kids always seem to be really hungry when they get home from school. I make sure to have simple snack ideas ready for them that I know they’ll enjoy. These Butterscotch and Oreo parfaits are easy to make and absolutely delicious! Since I cook dinner just about every night of the week, I like to keep snack time extra simple. Using pre-made, store-bought items keeps this recipe super simple! Why make everything from scratch when there are high-quality, ready-to-go items at your local Kroger store!

Ingredients:
  • 1 package pre-made Butterscotch Pudding cups (4 servings)
  • 1 box Oreo Cookie Crumbs
  • 1 container (8 oz.) Cool Whip
Directions:
  1. In small glasses or bowls, spoon about 1-2 tablespoons Oreo Cookie Crumbs.
  2. Use a spoon to transfer one container of Butterscotch Pudding to each glass.
  3. Top with a dollop of Cool Whip
  4. Add a few extra cookie crumbs to the top of the parfait.

TIP: Another way to make these would be to put half the Oreo cookie layer down, then half the container of Butterscotch pudding, another layer of Oreo and finally the remaining pudding. Don’t forget the whipped cream!

If your store doesn’t have a box of plain Oreo Cookie Crumbs you can also use the OREO No-Bake Cheesecake Dessert Kit Mix – there is a bag of Oreo crumbs included in there, or make your own by crushing several Oreo Cookies or Chocolate Wafer Cookies.

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Easy Ham and Cheese Pocket Sandwiches

Easy Ham and Cheese Pocket Sandwiches

Created by: Krissy Allori, Self Proclaimed Foodie

As we get ready to send out kids back to school, lunchbox favorites like these Easy Ham and Cheese Pocket Sandwiches will make your kids smile!

This time of year is bitter sweet. The longest days of summer are behind us and the prospect of fall and all of the wonderful things that come along with it are on the horizon. When I was a kid, I always looked forward to the start of a new school year. Now, as a mom, I realize that excitement pales in comparison to the excitement that parents feel!

You have to understand, I adore my children and would spend every waking moment with them if I could. What I crave most about returning to school is the return of routine. I love the regular pattern of waking up, having family breakfast, and rushing out the door. The evenings are filled with family dinner, sports, and homework. Then, it all starts over again the next day.

Things will get busy. They always do. That is one of the many reasons why I absolutely love making things like these Easy Ham and Cheese Pocket Sandwiches. As you can see, all you need to do is cut up some rectangles of dough. They wouldn’t be “easy” if you had to make the dough yourself, which is why I recommend using pre-made puff pastry dough. I loaded these up with brown mustard, black forest ham, and shredded sharp cheddar, but you should feel free to add whatever you’d like to the inside as long as you can make a seal around the edge.

A beaten egg makes the perfect glue to hold the top and the bottom together. It also makes them turn a beautiful shiny golden brown when you cook them. The end result is a flaky sandwich that will make all the other school kids jealous. They taste fantastic warm out of the oven, but enjoying them in a chilled lunchbox is perfect as well!

Ingredients:
  • 1 package (1.1 lb., 2 sheets) puff pastry dough
  • 6 oz. black forest ham
  • 2 oz. sharp cheddar, grated
  • 1 Tbsp. spicy brown mustard
  • 1 egg, beaten
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Cut each square of dough into 6 same sized rectangles.
  3. Avoiding around ½” around each edge, layer mustard, ham, and cheese on half of the rectangles.
    Easy Ham and Cheese Pocket Sandwiches2
  4. Using a pastry brush, add beaten egg to the edges of the top and bottom piece of the dough so they will form a seal. Invert the top rectangle on top of the other side that has the filling. Use a fork to press around all the edges to form a tight seal.
    Easy Ham and Cheese Pocket Sandwiches3
  5. Cover each pocket sandwich with more egg wash and cut two slits on top to vent.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.
  7. Enjoy hot or pack in lunches for the little ones to eat cold or reheat at school!
    Easy Ham and Cheese Pocket Sandwiches4

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Kid Friendly Smoothie Bowl

Kid Friendly Smoothie Bowl

Created by: Emily Buys, Clever Housewife

It’s back-to-school time, which means the days of sleeping in and having a leisurely breakfast are over.

In past years, I went for the quick and easy cereal bowl, all too often. My kids have been troopers for putting up with cereal day after day, well, until the weekend comes. You see, I’m not much of a morning person, and I quite enjoy my sleep. I’ve told them I would do better this school year, and with the invention of the smoothie bowl, I think we’ll do just fine.

Get creative with the cereal bowl this school year, with this Kid Friendly Smoothie Bowl. It’s quick, easy and delish!

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup frozen blueberries
  • ½ banana, frozen
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • ½ cup spinach (optional)
  • ½ banana, thinly sliced
  • 4 strawberries, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. granola or honey nut cheerios
Directions:
  1. In a blender, mix together yogurt, blueberries, frozen banana and honey. If your kids won’t notice, I recommend sneaking a ½ cup of spinach into the smoothie mixture.
  2. Pour into a bowl and top with desired toppings.

View Party Plan: Back to School

Mason Jar Cobb Salad

Mason Jar Cobb Salad

Created by: Crystal Owens, A Pumpkin & A Princess

Preparing meals ahead of time can make mealtime easier, quicker and help you stay on track with a balanced diet. Mason jars are perfect for storing soups, salads and trail mix to eat when on the go. Avoid buying fast food on busy days with this mason jar Cobb salad.

These masons jar Cobb salads can be made the day before in less than 15 minutes. Simply prepare the veggies, meats, and eggs then add everything inside the jar. You can use your favorite salad dressing like ranch or this delicious cilantro avocado dressing. To keep the lettuce fresh you will want to layer the veggies and meats first and the lettuce at the top. When you’re ready to eat simply mix the ingredients together.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup Romaine lettuce
  • 2 strips of bacon
  • ¼ cup diced chicken or cooked ham
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • ½ avocado, cut into small chunks
  • 1 oz. blue cheese
  • 1-2 Tbsp. of your salad dressing of choice
Directions:
  1. Boil eggs in a small pot. Cook bacon until crispy; remove excess grease.
  2. Layer ingredients in jar. Add 1-2 tablespoons of salad dressing depending on preference. Add tomatoes, cooked chicken or ham, avocado, bacon, cheese and lettuce.
  3. Seal and store in refrigerator until ready to eat.

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French Dip Sandwiches

French Dip Sandwiches

Created by: Erin Sellin, Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts

Use your crock pot to make these super tender French Dip Sandwiches even on your busiest day.

When times get busy, making sure you have some staple ingredients in your pantry or freezer means that you can get a homemade dinner on the table quickly. The crock pot is great, because you can start it in the morning, and then when you are ready for dinner, it is waiting for you! If you have cheese on hand, adding cheese to these French Dip sandwiches is a great addition. My husband likes to add spicy banana peppers to his. A great recipe that each member of your family can customize and enjoy any night of the week!

Ingredients:
  • 1 (approx. 3 lbs.) boneless beef roast (arm or rump roast)
  • 1 can (10.5 oz.) condensed French Onion soup, undiluted
  • 1 can (10.5 oz.) condensed Beef Consumme, undiluted
  • 1 can (10.5 oz.) condensed Beef Broth, undiluted
  • 8 Italian rolls, split
Directions:
  1. Place the roast in the crock pot. Pour all three cans of soup over the beef.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
  3. Remove the meat and shred with two forks.
  4. Serve on rolls.
  5. Skim fat from cooking liquid to serve as dipping sauce.

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Mexican Quinoa Salad On the Go

Mexican Quinoa Salad On the Go

Created by: Lauren Saylor, A Fabulous Fete

This Mexican quinoa salad is on my menu every single week. It’s simple to prepare with the quinoa being the longest step in the process and just a little chopping in advance, and it has a ton of flavor while still including healthy veggies and fats. Now that I’ve started keeping them ready to go in jars, I know that I can grab something that’s good for me while in the middle of a busy day. Something that is hard to come by if the only time you can make for lunch is in a drive through. Mix this recipe in with your own favorites.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups Arugula
  • 10 oz. container of grape tomatoes
  • 15 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 oz. can of sweet corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 3.5 oz. container of crumbled feta
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 1 Avocado, sliced
Directions:
  1. Start by cooking the quinoa (this can also be done early in the day or the night before). Add 1 cup uncooked quinoa to a pot with 2 cups water. Wait for it to boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 15 min.
  2. While the quinoa cooks, rinse and cut the tomatoes in half, quarter your lime and slice the avocado.
  3. Drain and rinse the corn and black beans.
  4. Once the quinoa is finished cooking, remove from heat and let cool.
  5. After the quinoa has cooled, begin to assemble your jars. Splitting your ingredients into 4 jars, start by adding the arugula followed by the quinoa, tomatoes, black beans, corn, feta and top with a lime quarter and avocado.
  6. Before eating, squeeze the lime and mix all ingredients. I also like to add a little hot sauce if it’s convenient!

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Mushroom, Spinach and Cheese Egg Cups

Mushroom, Spinach and Cheese Egg Cups

Created by: Amy Christie, this heart of mine

Make your morning routine a cinch with egg cups baked in a muffin pan. Savory, hearty and easy, the cups can be enjoyed immediately or made in advance and stored in the fridge.

Ingredients:
  • 8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. garlic
  • 10 oz. fresh spinach leaves
  • 9 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a muffin pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large pan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and mushrooms. Cook until softened.
  3. Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon and place in bowl, leaving the liquid in the pan.
  4. Add the fresh spinach to the pan and sauté until tender and wilted.
  5. Remove the spinach with a slotted spoon, trying to remove as much liquid as possible.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the beaten eggs, cheese, salt, pepper, mushrooms and spinach.
  7. Divide the egg mixture evenly between the 12 muffin cups.
  8. Bake between 18-25 minutes, until the eggs are firm.
  9. Allow the eggs to cool slightly before removing them from the pan.

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Oven Dried Pineapple

Oven Dried Pineapple

Created by: Krissy Allori, Self Proclaimed Foodie

You don't need a dehydrator to make your own dried fruit. I will show you How to Make Oven Dried Pineapple so that you can enjoy this sweet and healthy treat.

I always thought I needed a dehydrator to dry my own fruit. Every time I contemplated getting one, I looked at the size of it and realized that I had no place to store it, let alone the counter space to use it. So, my dream of making my own dried fruit came to an end. Until, that is, I figured out how to do it in my oven.

The first time I tried dried pineapple was in this Hawaiian style granola I made with macadamia nuts, coconut, oats, and dried mango, pineapple, and banana. Sounds good, right? It was oh-so good. That was the moment I realized dried pineapple is an incredibly delicious snack. Some fruits don’t dry well in my opinion, but pineapple does. You must make sure you start out with a perfectly ripe pineapple. You can tell when it’s ready by the color (it should be more yellow than green) and it’s scent (the bottom should smell wonderful).

The end result is a perfectly chewy, naturally sweet, tart and tangy nature candy!

Ingredients:
  • 1 ripe pineapple
Directions:
  1. Using a serrated edge knife, cut top and bottom off of pineapple. With the pineapple set vertically on your cutting board, cut the sides off. Use a paring knife to remove any eyes that remain on the fruit.
  2. Lay the peeled pineapple on its side and slice it into ¼ inch rounds (or even thinner if you can).
  3. Use a paring knife or the round part of a metal frosting tip to remove the hard core center.
  4. Lay rings in a single layer on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  5. Dry in 175° F oven for 8 hours while flipping pineapple rings every couple of hours.
  6. Store in airtight container.

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PB&J Trail Mix

PB&J Trail Mix

Created by: Carrie Robinson, Frugal Foodie Mama

School will be back in session soon, and that means the return of long days filled with homework, after school practices, and studying. Keep the kids fueled all day long with this easy to make and kid approved PB&J Trail Mix.

Even though there happens to be a 13 year age difference between my two kids, they both can agree on one thing - they love their PB&J’s. With the start of school just around the corner, I wanted to come up with a homemade trail mix that both my highschooler and my preschooler would love. Their favorite sandwich provided the inspiration for this PB&J Trail Mix. It is a tasty and satisfying mix of dried strawberries, peanuts, peanut butter toasted cereal, & just a little bit of peanut butter chips for sweetness. And the best part? I can whip up a batch in about 10 minutes!

If your kids are not fans of strawberry, feel free to swap in raisins or dried cranberries instead.

Ingredients:
  • ⅔ cup dried strawberries
  • 2 cups Kroger Peanut Butter Multi-Grain Toasted Cereal
  • 1 cup Kroger Lightly Salted Peanuts
  • ½ cup peanut butter chips
Directions:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and toss until combined.
  2. Transfer to an airtight container and store for up to 5 days at room temperature.

PB-and-J-Trail-Mix-1

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

Created by: Nellie Tracy, Butter With a Side of Bread

The beginning of each school year is always an exciting time, and it’s about this time of year that I start looking for new ideas I can pack in my kids’ lunches. This muffin recipe is very simple and provides a fun twist on the traditional Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich.

Ingredients:
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 12 Tbsp. strawberry jelly
Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt.
  2. In another bowl, use a whisk to mix the egg, milk, peanut butter, oil and vanilla until well combined.
  3. Add the dry ingredients into the peanut butter mixture and stir just until combined.
  4. Line a muffin tray with 12 paper baking cups. Fill each cup about halfway with batter.
  5. Use a tablespoon sized cookie scoop to place one tablespoon of jelly on top of the batter. Place an additional tablespoon of peanut butter batter on top of the jam and spread to cover the jelly.
  6. Bake at 350° F for 30 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before removing muffins from pans to wire racks.

View Party Plan: Back to School

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Protein Balls

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Protein Balls

Created by: Erin Sellin, Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts

An easy and healthy protein ball that tastes like peanut butter cookie dough. What’s not to like!?

Coming up with quick, easy, and healthy snacks can be a challenge. Especially one that tastes good. My 11 year old would live on crackers for snacks if I let him. But I want him to have something with protein that will actually fill him up and stick with him. He loves anything with peanut butter, so I knew these peanut butter protein balls would definitely be a hit with him. After all, they really do taste like cookie dough!

These peanut butter cookie dough protein balls are super simple to make. I used oat flour to bind them together. You only need a couple tablespoons, and it is so easy to make yourself. Just take the amount of at flour you need, and put it in a food processer, coffee grinder, or even blender, and process until the consistency of flour. Then you just add it to the peanut butter and protein powder to mix together. You can adjust the amount of sweetener to your taste. These are not overly sweet by any means, but test the dough and adjust to get it perfect for you!

Peanut butter cookie dough protein balls are great to grab before a workout, pack in a lunch box, take a couple as you walk out the door; pretty much any time! They are portable, filling, and taste great! Plus you can make them in just minutes.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp. oat flour
  • 2 scoops (about ½ cup) vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. sweetener (honey, agave, maple syrup)
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 3 Tbsp. mini chocolate chips
Directions:
  1. In a bowl mix together all of the ingredients until well blended. Adjust the milk and flour if necessary to get the dough dry enough to roll into balls.
  2. Roll into approximately 28 1-inch balls. Store in fridge in an air tight container.

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Protein Balls 2

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Peanut Chicken and Jelly Dipping Sauce

Peanut Chicken and Jelly Dipping Sauce

Created by: Britni Vigil, Play. Party. Plan.

It’s almost time for kids to head back to school. Back to getting up in the morning, packing lunches, and eating dinners together as a family at night. These peanut crusted chicken tenders with a jelly dipping sauce combine the traditional flavors of peanut butter and jelly in a non-traditional recipe that the whole family will love.

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken tenderloins
  • 1 cup Dry Roast Light Salt Peanuts
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup Red Raspberry Preserves
  • ½ Tbsp. 100% Lime Juice
  • 1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
Directions:

For the Chicken:
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Combine the peanuts, garlic powder, paprika, oregano, thyme and salt in a food processor. Pulse until the peanuts are chopped fairly small.
  3. Pour the peanut mixture into a shallow bowl.
  4. Pour the beaten egg in another shallow bowl.
  5. Salt and pepper the front and back of each piece of chicken.
  6. Working with one tender at a time, dip the chicken in the egg and then coat with the peanut mixture making sure to pat the mixture into the chicken.
  7. Place the chicken on a baking sheet coated with non-stick baking spray.
  8. Drizzle olive oil over top of chicken to help make crispy.
  9. Bake for 12-15 minutes and remove from oven.
  10. Let rest for 3 minutes to let juices redistribute.
  11. Serve hot with jelly dipping sauce.


For the Sauce:
  1. Combine red raspberry preserves, lime juice and soy sauce in a small saucepan.
  2. Heat over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes or heated and combined.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool. As sauce cools, it’ll thicken and create a dipping sauce.

View Party Plan: Back to School

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken with Vegetables

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken with Vegetables

Created by: Emily Buys, Clever Housewife

For me, back-to-school means the end of summer with busy hot days ahead. Between teacher meet-and-greets, the start of soccer season and back-to-school shopping, I go from relaxed to frazzled in just a week’s time. During this extremely busy (and hot) time of year, I rely heavily on my slow cooker.

I don’t like to heat up the house with oven cooking, and don’t have the time to slave over a labor intensive meal, so my Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken with Vegetables has quickly become a family favorite. I’m all about little prep and easy cooking for a tasty meal, and this recipe fits the bill.

Just in time for back-to-school is my Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken with Vegetables. This dish takes little time to prepare, and is so delicious the entire family will love it.

Ingredients:
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 lb. fingerling potatoes, halved if larger
  • 1 lb. baby carrots
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ red bell pepper, diced finely
  • 1 tsp. fresh basil, snipped
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
Directions:
  1. Place chicken thighs, potatoes, and carrots in the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together soy sauce, honey, ketchup, garlic powder, bell paper, basil and pepper. Pour over the top of chicken and vegetables, and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 7-8 hours.
  3. During the last 30 minutes of cooking, add zucchini to the slower cooker and cover.
  4. Serve as is, or remove chicken and place on a baking sheet, skin side up, and broil for 3 minutes. This will give a more crispy skin if you desire. Return to slow cooker and serve with veggies.

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Spinach, Sausage and Egg Breakfast Burrito

Spinach, Sausage and Egg Breakfast Burrito

Created by: Laura Franklin, Food Fun Family

Need a quick but filling breakfast that you can grab on-the-go? This spinach, sausage, and egg breakfast burrito recipe is the perfect make-ahead solution for busy mornings.

I’ve always appreciated the value of a healthy and filling breakfast each morning, but when school starts up again, I seem to always find myself running around, getting kids’ bags packed and heading out the door for school drop off without taking time to eat. As my kids get older, I’ve noticed that they are more likely to grab food on the way out the door than sit down for a full meal before school. These breakfast burritos are one of my favorite go-to breakfast options, not only because they taste great, but because I can make them the night before and grab one as I head to the car. They taste great straight off the skillet or right out of the fridge.

Ingredients:
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white, or 3 Tbsp. liquid egg white
  • ¼ cup fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. mild Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 Tbsp. feta cheese
  • 1 flour tortilla
  • Aluminum foil
  • Non-stick cooking spray or olive oil
Directions:
  1. Mix whole egg and egg whites in a small bowl. Heat a 6-inch skillet sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray or drizzled with olive oil on medium heat. Pour egg mixture into skillet.
  2. Sprinkle chopped spinach and crumbled sausage over eggs immediately; cook until eggs start to solidify; no need to stir.
  3. Sprinkle feta cheese evenly over the egg mixture.
  4. When egg is cooked through, remove from pan and lay it on a flour tortilla. Wrap the tortilla and egg firmly, burrito-style. Wrap burrito in a piece of aluminum foil and secure the ends.
  5. Breakfast burritos can be eaten hot or stored in the refrigerator until ready to eat. To eat, simply peel foil back and enjoy - hot or cold.

View Party Plan: Back to School

Stacked Beef Enchiladas with Avocado Cream Sauce

Stacked Beef Enchiladas with Avocado Cream Sauce

Created by: Nicole Leggio, Cooking for Keeps

Stacked enchiladas are the perfect no-fuss meal for busy weeknights. In this version, ground beef, jalapeno, onion, and garlic are layered in between flour tortillas, a spicy avocado cream sauce, and plenty of shredded pepper jack cheese. The whole dish is popped into a super hot oven until it’s bubbly and gooey, then served with fresh avocado, spicy salsa and cool sour cream.

Ingredients:
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeds and membranes removed, minced
  • 1 ½ cups chopped onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb. 95% lean ground beef
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt, divided
  • 1 ½ tsp. cumin, divided
  • 1 medium avocado, pit and skin removed
  • 1 cup half and half
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 16 taco-sized flour tortillas
Directions:
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a square 9”x9” baking dish.
  2. Heat a large non-stick skillet to a medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add ¼ of the chopped jalapeno, ½ cup of the onion, and 1 garlic clove. Cook until onion and garlic are softened, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a blender along with ½ tsp. salt, ½ tsp. cumin, the avocado, half and half and chicken stock. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Return the skillet to a medium heat and add the remaining jalapeno, onion, garlic, ground beef, salt and cumin. Cook until beef is brown and veggies have softened, about 5-7 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and cumin.
  4. Ladle a little bit of sauce in the bottom of the greased baking dish. Cover with four flour tortillas. Sprinkle 1/3 of the ground beef mixture on top along with ¼ of the sauce. Sprinkle with ¼ of the cheese. Repeat two more times. For the final layer, place four tortillas on top of the ground beef, sauce and cheese, and cover in the remaining sauce, followed by the remaining cheese.
  5. Bake in the oven until hot and bubbly, about 25 minutes.

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Strawberry Funfetti Baked Oatmeal Muffins

Strawberry Funfetti Baked Oatmeal Muffins

Created by: Carrie Robinson, Frugal Foodie Mama

Looking for a healthy grab & go breakfast that you can make ahead of time for the kids for busy school mornings? Try these Strawberry Funfetti Baked Oatmeal Muffins!

No matter how early we get up or how much we prep the night before, we always seem to find ourselves rushing out the door for school at least one morning a week. For mornings like that, I like to have some quick breakfasts ready to go that the kids can grab and take with them as they are heading out to the door to catch the bus. Cue these fun, healthy and filling Strawberry Funfetti Baked Oatmeal Muffins!

Packed full of the good stuff like oats, yogurt and chia seeds, these hearty muffins are sure to keep your kids satisfied and going right until lunchtime. But just to up the fun factor a bit and get the kids 100 percent on board with these baked oatmeal muffins, I threw a few rainbow sprinkles on top of them for good measure. Who says a healthy breakfast can’t be fun too?

Ingredients:
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup Simple Truth Organic Plain Lowfat Yogurt
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1½ cups Simple Truth Organic Almondmilk
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled & diced
  • Rainbow sprinkles
Directions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with muffin liners. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, sugar, vanilla extract, baking powder and salt until well combined. Then whisk in the almond milk until smooth. Stir in the oats, chia seeds, and diced strawberries.
  3. Scoop the batter into each muffin liner filling them about ¾ full. Sprinkle the tops with the rainbow sprinkles.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before removing the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. The muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or they can be individually wrapped and then placed in a freezer safe container for up to a month. To serve frozen muffins, let them sit out at room temperature for a few minutes and then heat in the microwave for 30-60 seconds on high.

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Sunflower Energy Bites

Sunflower Energy Bites

Created by: Nicole Leggio, Cooking for Keeps

Sunflower seeds, sunflower butter, quick-cooking oats and ground flax seed are just a few of the wholesome ingredients that make up these ridiculously addictive energy bites. They’re perfect for a breakfast on the go, a quick snack, or post work out bite, and super easy to throw together – the only problem you’ll have is keeping them from getting snatched up!

Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp. Cocoa powder
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 ½ cups quick cooking oats
  • ¼ cup ground flax seed
  • ¼ cup & 1/8 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 cup sunflower butter
  • 1 Tbsp. Water
Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, combine cocoa powder, chocolate chips, oats, flax seed and sunflower seeds.
  2. Add vanilla extract, sunflower butter and water. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Use a small ice cream scoop to form into 1 tablespoon balls. Line up on baking sheet, and chill for 30 minutes. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

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Spicy Grilled Turkey Kabobs & Pineapple Fried Rice

Spicy Grilled Turkey Kabobs & Pineapple Fried Rice

Created by: Danielle Kartes, Rustic Joyful Food

This easy grilling recipe for Spicy Turkey Kabobs pairs with a sweet pineapple fried rice for a dinner the whole family will love.

Ingredients:
Kabobs
  • 1 2lb frozen turkey Brest
  • 2 tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp. oil suitable for grilling
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. sambal

Pineapple Fried Rice
  • 3 cups cooked medium grain rice
  • 1 pineapple
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • ½ cup toasted sliced almonds
  • ½ cup diced green onions
Directions:
  1. Heat your grill to 400 degrees.  Slice your thawed turkey breast off the bone and into 2 inch chunks.  Place chunks of meat into a bowl and dress with soy sauce, garlic, pepper, sambal & oil.
  2. Mix to coat the meat and put 4-5 chunks on skewers. (Makes 4)
  3. Remove the pineapple skin and core, and then slice the pineapple into spears.  Place the kabobs on the grill along with the pineapple spears.  You will need to cook the meat for about 15 minutes rotating 3 times and watching for flair ups.  Feel free to move meat to a cooler part of the grill if it begins to overcook on any side.  Rotate the pineapple as well. You want good amount of char.
  4. While your meat is grilling, place onions peppers & oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium high heat.  Cook 2-3 minutes until they are soft.  Add peas & rice.  Pull the pineapple off of the grill and dice half of it, add it to the sauté pan.  Leave the other spears to the side to serve alongside the meat.
  5. Once the rice has broken up into the veggies add the soy sauce and almonds. Continue to cook for 5 minutes. Your meat will have finished grilling during this time, pull it off the grill to rest.
  6. To serve, pour rice out onto a platter and place kabobs on top along with remaining grilled pineapple spears, top with chopped green onions.

View Party Plan: Back to School

Back-to-School Photo Booth

Back-to-School Photo Booth

Created by: The Crafting Chicks

Capturing Back-to-School photos is a tradition I look forward to every year. There's something about capturing the excitement of a new grade and all the possibilities of a new year. I also love to compare and see how much each child has grown from the year before and how their personal style changes and evolves over the years.

This year, create a fun photo backdrop to snap those photos in front of.

To create our Back-To-School photo booth backdrop and sign, I picked up a couple packages of World of Color Post-It Notes, matte photo paper for the sign, a new backpack of course, and a roll of Duck Craft Paper (to use as the backing to our Post-Its).

First, we hung the craft paper on our wall. I wanted to be able to move or adjust the Post-It wall once it was created without having to move 300+ Post-Its. Then we started sticking Post-Its on row by row. You'll want to be sure the Post-Its start about a foot higher than the tallest child you'll be photographing. It takes a little while but is really easy to do! The World of Color Post-It pack came with 6 pads of Post-Its and almost every one.

Have your student stand in front of the backdrop and hold our First Day of School sign. You can download this version here.

View Party Plan: Back to School

Simple Zippered Tablet or Laptop Cover

Simple Zippered Tablet or Laptop Cover

Created by: Amy Christie, this heart of mine

From laptops to tablets, music players to digital cameras, we love our electronics. Unfortunately, we don’t always do the best job protecting our trinkets. With a few pieces of fabric and a zipper (plus notions!), you can create a zippered cover to fit any device you need.

Supplies:
  • Fabric, 2 pieces of outer fabric, 2 pieces of inner fabric
  • 1 Zipper
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Pins
  • 1 Zipper foot (optional but very helpful)
  • Iron (optional but helpful)
Directions:
  1. Cut the fabric to size. The dimensions should be:
    • Width of electronic, plus 4 inches
    • Height of electronic, plus 4 inches
  2. Stack the fabric. Lay down one piece of outer fabric (right side up), the zipper (right side down) and one piece of the inner fabric
  3. Make sure everything is lined up along the top zipper edge and the sides. Pin to hold.
  4. Using the zipper foot, sew the stack together.
  5. Repeat the layering and sewing with the remaining pieces of fabric and batting on the other side of the zipper.
  6. Once both sides are sewn, use an iron to press the fabric around the zipper to lay flat.
  7. Top stitch along the edge of the fabric on either side of the zipper to keep the fabric in place.
  8. Unzip the zipper about halfway. Then pull the two outer fabrics together, right sides facing each other, and pin. Make sure to line up all the edges and make sure the zipper gets folded the same way. Repeat with the inner fabrics.
  9. Using a ⅜” inseam, begin sewing in the middle of the bottom of the inner fabric and sew around the whole pouch, leaving at least a 3” opening from the start.
  10. Trim off the corners to help them lay better.
  11. Turn the cover right side out through the opening. Using the machine or with needle and thread, sew the opening closed.

View Party Plan: Back to School

Create a Hub for Back to School Organizing

Create a Hub for Back to School Organizing

Created by: Sharon Garofalow, Cupcakes and Cutlery

If you are like me, sending the kids back to school is bitter sweet. After spending all summer with them, I miss when they aren’t with me all day, every day. However, I certainly do look forward to those kid-free hours in the middle of the school day. It means I have time to focus on the things that I love again and to get things back in order after a summer full of vacations and activities.

The key to heading back to school, stress free, is making sure I know where everything is. I created one central location, where I can keep my important papers and items so I have everything I need at my fingertips.

School Info: There is always so much paperwork that comes home at the start of the school year. Some of it is informational and some requires my attention, like requiring a signature, payment or something else that needs to be turned in. By creating a centralized hub, I always know where everything I need is.

I use a hanging file folder system to keep track of school information. I make sure the file folders are clearly labeled so I can find exactly what I need. This way I can always find the school calendar, important phone numbers and even class information, easily. Since we have food allergies in our family, I make sure to keep all the medicine authorization forms here, too. Since we usually get these signed by our doctor in summer, I need to be able to have them ready to go for the first day of school. I even keep a list of school lunch ideas, in a folder, so the kids can easily access it if they need help coming up with ideas.

Household Paperwork: I make sure that this area is stocked with pens, pencils, a stapler, etc., so that I can process most papers that come across my desk immediately. The longer they sit around, the more likely I am to forget to turn it them in on time. This is where I keep our bills, our budget information and even the checkbook so I can pay bills and file them away. I also keep some of my work contracts and templates that I refer to often, here as well. If I have to run to the other room to look something up, chances are high that I will get sidetracked. This is a trick that I have learned to keep me efficient.

Extracurricular Activities: When it comes to the kids, I make sure that I have a full homework station for them as well. It has everything they need like crayons, pencils, glue sticks, etc., so that they don’t have to search for things. It helps to keep them focused and on task. I also keep any invitations we get here so that I don’t lose the address or party times.

Staying organized means that nothing slips through the cracks and you can start the school year off on the right foot.

View Party Plan: Back to School

How To Make a DIY Snack Station

How To Make a DIY Snack Station

Created by: Laura Franklin, Food Fun Family

Pre-packaged snacks are easy, but not always the healthiest or most cost-effective solution. Check out how you can make snack stations with mom-approved portioned snacks and lunch box items.

As the kids get ready to head back to school, it’s time to start thinking about packing school lunches. With several school-aged kids at home, school lunch preparation can be a very time-consuming part of the morning. As the kids have gotten older, I’ve tried to get them more involved in packing their own lunches. However, when I let the kids take over I worry that they might not pack the most nutritious lunches (I’m sure there are kids other than just my own who have tried to escape to school with a lunch box filled with cookies and three different types of crackers).

This year, we implemented snack stations – one in the refrigerator and one in the pantry – and lunchtime prep has never been easier. Instead of buying all pre-packaged treats, I buy boxes in bulk and separate snacks into zip-top snack bags. I keep all of the snacks together in one spot so the kids can easily grab a few snacks as they pack their lunches.

I encourage the kids to choose a variety of items (ie, a fruit, a dairy item, a cracker and a sweet treat, if desired). Not only is the morning routine moving along more smoothly, but the kids are eating a better lunch. It’s a win-win situation for the whole family!

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Pantry Snack Station Ideas:

  • Crackers or chips
  • Pretzels
  • Granola bars
  • Homemade granola
  • Fruit cups
  • Fruit snacks
  • Pudding
  • Applesauce

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Refrigerator Snack Station Ideas:

  • Cheese sticks
  • Carrots
  • Celery sticks
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Yogurt cups
  • Fresh fruit, whole
  • Cut or sliced fruit
  • Cucumbers
  • Hummus
  • Olives

View Party Plan: Back to School

Kid-Friendly Lunch Assembly Area

Kid-Friendly Lunch Assembly Area

Created by: Sharon Garofalow, Cupcakes and Cutlery

As my kids get older, I’m looking for ways to help them take more responsibility. One area that they have been able to take over is packing their own lunches. Packing their lunches helps them learn about nutrition and takes one thing off my long mom to-do list (score!). Plus, when they pick what they are packing, they are more likely to eat it! That’s a win win.

We usually make our lunches right after dinner, which means I’m in the kitchen and can keep an eye on what is getting put in the lunch boxes. I clear off a spot on the counter that is easy to reach, and place all the items that they can’t get themselves on it. This includes things like the bread, which we keep on top of the fridge or the Sunbutter that is kept high in a cupboard. Wherever I can, though, I make sure that I have kid-friendly areas around our kitchen so they can easily get what they need.

We keep the juice boxes right outside the garage door on a low shelf so they can easily reach them. Our pantry has designated areas for granola bars and fruit cups and they can find crackers and other snack items on the shelves. They also know where the napkins and spoons are kept, should they need one based on what they packed, although they usually use the ones from their school cafeteria.

To incorporate fresh items in to their lunches, I try to prep fruits and vegetables on Sunday and have them ready to go in the refrigerator. I try to pick out what they like that are in season and they know to pack fresh items before those found in the pantry so they don’t go bad. The fruit cups are the back up to fresh fruit but it’s nice to know that we always have fruit on hand.

I like to use a Rubbermaid lunch box system, which helps guide them on what they should be packing. They know the largest compartment holds their sandwich and we’ve discussed portion sizes and nutrition guidelines with them so they understand there should be at least one fruit or veggie serving per lunch. These types of reusable packing containers are a really great way to help your kids succeed at packing their lunch.

Orange Scented Vinegar

Orange Scented Vinegar

Created by: Crystal Owens, A Pumpkin & A Princess

As summer comes to an end and we prepare for the busy routines of back to school schedules, I like to take the time to catch up on some much needed cleaning and organization. Here are a few tips on how to prepare your home for the end of school and new school year.

1. Organize the pantry. Cleaning out the pantry makes room for snacks and foods the kids will need for school lunches and gives you a chance to get the shelves organized before summer comes to an end. I like to organize a shelf specifically dedicated to school snacks. This makes packing lunch bags easier and gives me a better idea of what we are running low on before our next grocery trip.

2. Use a fresh lemon to clean stainless steel appliances and faucets. Rub the lemon on the stainless steel and wipe with a cloth. This will leave your kitchen appliances looking shiny and give a fresh lemon scent to your home.

3. Clean lunch bags and backpacks. We typically clean them out as soon as school ends but giving them a fresh cleaning right before school starts leaves them looking just like new. You can create scented vinegar to keep harsh chemicals away from items that the kid’s food will come in contact with. My favorite cleaning product is this DIY orange scented vinegar. It’s perfect for cleaning household surfaces and lunch bags.

Supplies:
  • 1 bottle vinegar
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 mason jar
  • 1 strainer
Directions:
  1. Peel 2 oranges and remove pulp from the peel.
  2. Fill the mason jar 2/3 of the way with vinegar.
  3. Add orange peels to the mason jar and seal with lid. Steep for two weeks then use a strainer to pour scented vinegar in a new jar.

View Party Plan: Back to School