I really hate frozen pizzas. There I said it. A friend of mine who works in the grocery business says some pizzas have the ability to be thawed and refrozen several times without losing quality. Honestly, the standard must be really low. No wonder I hate them.

But frozen pizzas are a quick food when you are on the run and lack preparation. Which in my case happens frequently because I have way too many balls in the air. Or hair ties. Or barbie boots. Or a host of other child items I'm trying to manage at any one time.

So, how to make something you hate that is sometimes necessary much better? For frozen pizza I have two tricks:
  1. Up The Temp | I use a counter top toaster oven and increase the temperature about 25 degrees more than it says and shorten the time just a tad. I get a much crispier crust on the bottom wtihout the whole thing drying out.
  2. Good Parm and Olive Oil | Once the pizza is out of the oven immediately sprinkle olive oil and grate good quality Parmesan over the top. After cutting and plating add a bit more Parmesan.
I love this gourmet up trick and so do my kids! I hope you do as well.

Recipe Tip By Russell Peterson
Copyright 2017 All Rights Reserved

Trying to make a good quality home made trail mix or granola bar is really not very hard. This one is my favorite recipes and is a jazzed up riff on Alton Brown's Granola Bars. I'm sure you will love it.

Trail Mix
(Substitute for any of the following ingredients generously.)
  • 2 1/2 Cups Mixed Nuts
  • 1/2 Cup Raisins
  • 1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries
  • 1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips
  • 1/4 Cup Dried Blueberries
  • 1/4 Sliced Almonds
  • 1/8 Cup Dried Apricots
  • 1/8 Cup Dried Mangos
  • 1/8 Cup Roasted Peanuts
  • 1/8 Cup Dried Cherries
  • 1/16 Cup Chia Seeds

  • 1 Cup Honey
  • 1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt

  • 3 Cups Rolled Oats
  • Butter For Pan

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine the trail mix ingredients or just buy a good quality trail mix and use a little more than 5 cups.
  3. Add the oats to the trail mix. (Alton has you toast the oats, 
  4. In a sauce pan on the stove heat the syrup ingredients to boiling and then simmer about a minute making sure the brown sugar is completely dissolved.
  5. Butter a 9x13 pan completely. Get all the corners.
  6. Add the syrup mixture to the trail mix and mix thoroughly. The chocolate chips will melt.
  7. Press the mixture into the pan so it is evenly flat.
  8. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
  9. Cool completely and cut into individual bars.
  10. Wrap the bars in plastic. They will last about a week and are great for snacks and meal replacement.

We use these bars for breakfast, lunch and snacks. I like to package them up in plastic wrap individually so they can be grab and go for the family. Way better than those purchased bars!

© Russell W Peterson | DayParentDad.com | 10.22.14

The first time the Trophy Wife took the kids swimming on her own, I played a little trick on her. I let her do all the prep work herself. The minute the kids were out of the pool, they were starving. She had no food along and wasn't prepared to get any either. So she learned the first law of Boy Scouts:
  • Be prepared. 
She also learned the first law of at home parenting:
  • Children are always starving. 

So be prepared with this great after school snack, because I can guarantee you the kids will be starving the minute they walk in the door.

  • 4 Large Slices Of Good Crusty Stale Bread Cubed (See my bread in a pot recipe.)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla

  1. Spray oil  4 ramekins.
  2. Mix all ingredients together and pour into ramekins.
  3. Bake 350 degress F for 30 minutes.

About 350 calories per ramekin. 

  • These are large ramekins. You could probably use 6 smaller ramekins and cut the cooking time down to 25 minutes.
  • The puddings will raise a bit during cooking so don't over fill them.
I first tasted hummus at a Middle Eastern restaurant in Minneapolis called Jerusalem's several decades ago. It was delightful; all buttery and lemony. So I decided it would be a good thing to have at home. I tried several versions of store bought hummus including a local variety made by Holy Land in northeast Minneapolis. It is quite good, but none of them really seemed to be the right flavor for me. Perhaps it is the Scandinavian boy from the prairie who grew up on blandness? Not! I think it really is that I wanted something smooth with a little tang that could be spread on bread as a sandwich or used as a dip for chips or pita. Something versatile and yummy. So, for years I made batches of hummus. Unfortunately, my kids really don't like hummus, so I've had to eat a lot of it on my quest for perfection. Today, I got it and I'm going to share it with you: My Perfect Hummus!
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 large lemon juiced (little less than 1/4 cup)
  • 1 15 oz can drained garbanzo beans
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 T olive oil

  1. Put the tahini and lemon juice in a food processor and turn on for at 1-2 minutes until very smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides of the work bowl at the half way point.
  2. Add the drained garbanzo beans and the finely diced or crushed garlic. Blend another 1-2 minutes until smooth.
  3. While the food processor is on, slowly drizzling the olive oil into the mixture.
  4. Spoon out and garnish with a bit of olive oil and paprika. (Cumin and other spices can be added at the end if you wish.)

1 Tablespoon = 25 calories.
The two secrets to this hummus are:
  • The initial tahini lemon juice mixture.
  • The blending order of the ingredients. We are treating it like we are making mayonnaise or a dressing by emulsifying the olive oil slowly at the end into the acidic mixture.

Try it on our Honey Wheat Bread toasted. You will love it!
I hate fruit roll ups. There I've said it. I prefer my fruit to at least somewhat resemble it's origins. These are so easy to make and they keep well refrigerated. They are great cold or hot. Just make a bunch and see how long they last.

375 degrees F

  • 1 point blueberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • a little salt shake
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter
  • a couple of salt shakes
  • spray oil

  1. Spray four oven safe ramekins with oil.
  2. Mix first four ingredients in a bowl and then evenly divide into ramekins.
  3. Mix next five ingredients with a fork until crumbly.
  4. Top the blueberry mixture with the crumble and bake for 20 minutes.

4 servings
340 calories per serving

  • Recipe can be easily doubled.
  • You could eliminate the sugar and flour in the blueberries for step 2 and just rely on the topping sweetness for a lower calorie crumble.
Being from the south (if you can call southern Illinois south), my mother loved southern food. One of her favorites was cornbread. She just followed the instructions on the round cornmeal box and baked it in a cast iron skillet. It was always served hot with butter and honey. Yum! 

I loved the way my mom's cornbread tasted. Since I have very few of her successful recipes, I wanted to pass the cornbread tradition on to my kids. However, when I made it for my young children they complained about the "grainy" texture of that method. (One of the things I've learned as a parent is that texture is nearly everything!) 

So, in order to develop something a bit "smoother" but still full of flavor and taste, I came up with these great corn bread muffins sweetened with a bit of honey. Many people would classify them as northern and not southern because they are sweeter than savory, but I don't care what you call them because they are delicious, easy to make and the kids gobble them up. Just spread on the butter because the honey is already built right in! I think my mother would be proud.
400 Degress F

  • 3/4 cup corn meal
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup one percent milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 stick melted butter
  • 1/4 cup honey

  1. Stir the dry ingredients together until well mixed.
  2. Whisk wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.  
  3. Combined the wet and dry ingredients until just mixed. 
  4. Spoon batter into 12 papered muffin cups. 
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.


12 Servings
170 calories per serving
I have successfully reduced salt to about 3/4 tsp. You could try less if you are on a lower salt diet and use unsalted butter as well.

This is a great first recipe for kids to try. It easy to mix together and relatively fast to prepare and cook.
Tapanades usually have anchovies and capers. But I really don't like either of those. Neither do most kids. But I do love olives and so do my kids. The bonus is that for the most part they are really good for you. So I have developed a number of olive tapenades that are perfect for snacks. You can use them as a dip with vegetables, or spread on thinly sliced baguette or crackers. My one piece of advice is get good olives. I buy Kalamata and Castelvetrano in big jars at Costco and get specialty olives at the olive bar at Whole Foods. Here is the first in many tapenades.
  • 1 Cup Kalamata Olives
  • 1/2 Cup Castelvetrano Olives
  • 1 Small Sweet Red Pepper
  • 1/8 Cup Sweet Pickles (I Do A Quick Pickle Of My Own, But Hamburger Slices Work Well)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Red Wine Vinegar
  • Small Splash Of Sweet Pickle Juice
  • Whole Wheat Baguette
  • Low Fat Gouda Cheese

  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor.
  2. Pulse scraping down the sides until a chunky paste forms.
  3. Dip or spread.

About 7 servings

About 90 Calories Per Tapenade Serving Only - Extra For Cheese And Bread

I served this on a whole wheat baguette thinly sliced with a low fat creamy Gouda cheese from Wisconsin. But you could use other ingredients such as crackers, vegetables, tomatoes or even serve it with eggs or steak. It is very versatile.
Smoothies are so popular and kids love them, but most of the time they are loaded with sugar and empty calories because they use concentrated juice or other added ingredients. Not this one. It is fresh, simple, creamy, and loaded with goodness!
  • 1/2 Cup Golden Sweet Frozen Pineapple Chunks
  • 1 Cup Frozen Strawberries
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 Cup Skim Milk (Soy Or Almond Milk Also Works)

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or power hand mixer cup.
  2. Blend until smooth. Add additional milk if needed.
  3. Pour in glass and garnish with a piece of fruit.

1 serving

238 Calories Per Serving

You can substitute soy or almond milk to make this dairy free. You can also add protein powder. Adjust calories accordingly.