Lazy Mom Snack Stuff

I am a HUGE proponent of menu planning. My husband and I started this pre-kids, when we had two incomes and no inclination to cook at the end of very long days. That was a golden time, those halcyon days when for two or three nights a week dinner was Chipotle or Panera or Skyline* but all good things must come to an end, and so must not good things like eating out every night. Our budget could support it then but we knew that sort of habit was A) not healthy and B) not cheap, so we decided to try planning out our meals a week at a time and shopping accordingly.

It was an awesome decision and some day I’ll write a huge long blog post about how much I love menu planning and how awesome it is and why you should do it, too. That day is not today, though.

Today it is nearly the end of the month, and since we’ve switched our menu planning (and consequently our Big Shopping day) to once a month, things are getting a little sparse in my kitchen. The last week is always when we run out of stuff but don’t want to go pick it up since we’re Big Shopping in a few days, so I have to get creative. Days like today are when I plan for dinners like marinated chicken, steam-in-a-bag edamame, and homemade corn bread, a menu which sounds delicious but was actually put together because those are all things I can be guaranteed to have in my cupboards and freezer no matter how wonky our month was.

Snack time with Little Thing One and Little Thing Two gets dicey around this time of the month, too. All the Good Snacks have been eaten and they’re just not feeling celery and cranberries or a piece of plain bread.

So here’s what I made today:

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Other moms might recognize this. It is Standard Mom Stale Cereal Snack. It is the thing that moms make when kids need a snack and three partial boxes of very stale cereal are staring her in the face from atop the dusty fridge.

And I’m going to share the recipe! YOU’RE WELCOME!


Lazy Mom Snack Stuff

4 cups of your favorite cereal (ie, the cereal that is most stale and you want to get rid of)

1/2 cup corn syrup + 1/2 cup sugar OR 1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup peanut butter OR 1/2 cup Nutella

(For my mixture today, I used Rice Chex, Corn Chex, and Super Why Alpha-Bits. I also used peanut butter and just honey, so no sugar or corn syrup.)

Put your cereal(s) in a big bowl. If you think some nuts would go well, throw them in. Raisins? Sure! Chocolate chips? Obviously. Spinach? Probably not. Leave that alone for dip or salad.

In a saucepan, put corn syrup + sugar OR honey and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for a minute or until you think it’s been a minute because seriously, who’s going to set a timer for that? Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until smooth and delicious looking. Pour delicious mixture over cereal(s) and mix until everything is evenly coated. Press it into a pan (bake pan, round pan, square, rectangular, whatever) that you’ve put either plastic wrap or wax paper or parchment paper in the bottom of. Let it cool about 15 to 20 minutes or until you cannot stand your children howling in your ear that they want their snack NOW even though the snack timer has NOT YET RUNG, then pull it out and cut it up and enjoy.

Notes: This is supposed to come out fairly solid, in bar or square form. Mine did not. My guess is that it’s because either A) I did not use enough honey or B) I did not let it cool long enough (see above re: squalling children). It still tastes delicious, though, and the Things (and my husband, I’m sure) don’t care if they’re eating it with a spoon or in a Pinterest-perfect square, so whatever.


* An Ohio thing. Perhaps the best of Ohio things? Cincinnati chili is the bomb and I don’t even care for you haters. Step off, dude, and let me eat my spaghetti covered in weak chili sauce and two pounds of cheese in peace.

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Applesauce

My family is pretty big into apples.

That might be an understatement, actually.

My whole childhood is filled with the smell of apples, the dirt and leaves and weeds and twigs of the family orchard, the freezing cold of the stand where we sold our produce every fall. Apparently some people use applesauce as a dessert. We had it for every single meal — usually along with apple butter or baked apples or some other apple product, and that’s not counting the apples we just grabbed out of the basket or bag and ate raw. We ate a lot of apples.

A friend asked me the other day if I was tired of eating apples, since we had them so much when I was younger. I had to honestly say no, not at all. If anything, I’m sort of spoiled on store-bought apples. They’re pretty tasteless and have a weird texture. I crave fresh fruit and apples in particular all year long.

Since I don’t have an orchard just down the road anymore, the apple consumption of my little family is much less than I enjoyed growing up. Still, we get regular deliveries of apple butter and cider and apples from my parents, and I use those apples to make baked apples, dried apples, “apple candy” (which is what my oldest son calls fruit leather) and, of course, applesauce.

I learned how to make applesauce at my mom’s kitchen counter, stealing pieces of apple as they went into the pot. I have two little ones of my own and I appreciate how difficult a job my mom had — for every piece of apple that goes into the pot, two go into the mouths of hovering children.

I’m making applesauce right now, actually, and as I cut up pieces and fed them to my son (slipping one into the pot every now and again) I remembered the times that people have commented to the effect of “I wish I could make applesauce like you.”

It’s pretty easy. At the risk of sharing family secrets, here’s how I do it.

* Get a pot, however big you think you need. I use a pretty big pot.

* Get some apples. It doesn’t really matter what kind.

* Peel the apples, take out the core and seeds, cut them in half, and throw them into the pot.

* Put a little bit of water in the bottom of the pot. Just a little, but not too little and not too much. You know, just *some*.

* Cover it and let it cook on the stove top over low-medium heat.

* Completely forget you’re making applesauce.

* Remember it half an hour or more later and say “Oh crap! Applesauce!” then run to the stove.

* Stir.

* Mash up any big pieces that are left until it’s smooth enough for you. I like lumpy applesauce so this generally doesn’t take me much time.

* Let it cool.

* Forget it’s cooling.

* Remember it another hour later and say “Oh yeah! Applesauce!”.

* Taste to see if it needs sugar. 99% of the time I do not add sugar to my applesauce.

* Put it in a bowl and put in the fridge to cool. (VERY IMPORTANT. Some people like warm or even hot applesauce. They are WRONGITY WRONG. When my mom made applesauce she sometimes had to put a bowl of it for me in the fridge special because it just wasn’t cold enough yet.)

* Serve it with dinner. Be surprised at how little is left after dinner. Realize you’ll probably have to make more tomorrow or the next day. Repeat.

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