Guest Post from Parker: Healthy Food and Other Things I’ll Never Eat

So, it’s getting to that point in the summer.

You know the point.

Where your parents suddenly start cataloging the number of popsicles, ice cream cones, teddy grahams and marshmallows you have eaten since June 1st. And they hate themselves. And you realize the rest of your summer. Is. Doomed.

Today, Mom asked me to make a list of all the healthy “growing” foods I like to eat so we can always have them in the house. My list was: pasta, olives, grapes and raisins. She wasn’t really that happy with that list. And now that I am relaying it to you, I realize that grapes and raisins are really the same food. That probably really ticks her off. Heh Heh.

Anyway, I have this cool trick I play on my Mom. Everytime I am bored, I ask for something to eat or drink. Simply because I am always asking, I end up wearing her down to give up the Teddy Grahams by 10:00 am. Simply because I am always asking, she thinks because I agreed to an apple means that I ate it. Simply because I am always asking, she wants to silence me. And sometimes she knows the only way to do that is with food.

It’s kind of sad, isn’t it? No. It’s freaking awesome.

My sister is really no help in the food panhandling. Do you know she eats eggs? And hummus? And carrots? She really ruins the whole wearing down process and sometimes Mom gets all “I’m the boss” about how my sister eats better than me.

Oh yeah? Well, who can ask you for a treat so many times that you often offer two treats just to get him to shush? Not little blue eyes over there. This redhead. This three year old. This fine specimen of toddler, right here. 542200_10151796884286418_1079494095_n

If you want some pointers on how to adopt my amazing eating habits/Jedi mind tricks, here’s some simple rules for eating and choosing your own food:

1. Is it a carb? Okay, then consider it. Is it a carb with something wet or gooey on it? Then, nope, it’s not for you.

2. Is it’s main ingredient sugar? Then, yes.

3. Does it come in a tube or a pouch? Maybe. But not if it’s green.

4. Does it smell like cinnamon? Consider it.

5. Is it portable? This is a big plus. Consider all portables.

6. Has it been frozen? Then, probably not. I can taste a frozen bagel a mile away. But like popsicle or pudding pop frozen? Why, yes please.

7. Is there peanut butter on it? No. Just no.

8. Did a vegetable touch it? Is the vegetable corn on the cob? Then, yes.

9. Does it smile? Is it a French fry? YES! YES!

10. Is it meat but not a nugget of some sort? Sorry, no. It cannot be trusted.

Now if you try your own tricks and they also work to bringing your Mom to her knees and making her give up the junk to eat, make sure you let me know. I have been hard at work to figure out just the right tantrum to get a popsicle for breakfast. If you have any pointers, let me know. So far I’ve just been doing a lot of yelling before she has her coffee while also spilling boxes of Cheerios all over the kitchen. I think I am only 24 hours away from it. Yesssssss.

Cooking and Other Things I’m Mediocre At Doing


Okay, I’m only mediocre at one thing, to start off. But the title was too catchy not to use. If you want to me to make up some other things I am mediocre at I can: I am mediocre at cage fighting, bull riding and clipping m children’s toenails. Everything else I’m pretty awesome or pretty awful at.

Here at Shortcut Girl, well, we take shortcuts. So that sometimes means that to get dinner on the table, there’s often more “heating” than there is “cooking.” I lack creativity and planning skills necessary to plan a menu for an entire week and oftentimes when I tell my husband what my planned meal is, I get the, “maybe I better just have a hot dog” kind of look.

I’m a mediocre cook, at best.

And it’s taken me a long time to say this out loud. But I am just not all that interested in being in the kitchen. Now, if I had the biggest, brightest kitchen ever, I might become a Barefoot-Sandra-Lee- Contessa on speed, but until then, it’s just something I do in short, (very short) spurts. You see, Shortcut Girl is a girl who has a sort of project ADD. If it doesn’t happen in about 45 minutes or less, I ain’t doing it. So there.

This has been a struggle for me to admit to myself, I guess, because my Mom is like the best cook ever. She will make tupperwares upon tupperwares of food to give away to neighbors. She cooks for an army no matter what the crowd. She is amazed by my shortcuts sometimes but also emanates the sentiment of, “why not just do it from scratch?”

Because, Mom. Just because.

But, even so, I am here to give good, bad and mediocre cooks like me some good recipes for your summer gatherings. Some I blogged last summer, some are new. But all of the recipes below are crowd tested and approved. So enjoy!

Potato Salad with Capers
Curry Chicken Salad
Bread Dip
Pesto Pasta Salad
Blueberry Dump Cake
Fruit pizza

Firecracker cookies

1 package French vanilla cake mix
1 cup sprinkles, any color
½ Vegetable oil
2 eggs

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Ambrosia salad

1 can of crushed pineapple
1 container mini marshmallows
1 container Cool Whip
1 package pistachio pudding mix

Mix all together. Chill and serve.

Enjoy being the hit of the party– and not mediocre at all!!

Foodie Friday: Party Appetizer Round Up

Well, football playoffs and the coming Super Bowl season means it’s time to talk good appetizers. Since appetizers are my favorite food group (besides pizza and cookies), I would like to give you a list of some of my favorite easy peasy lemon squeezie appetizers.


20130118-140726.jpg Baked Brie pre-oven and cheese football

I have referred to some of these recipes before, but there’s always time for a refresher course. A true shortcut girl likes to do things in the following manner:

1. At the last minute.

2. With little or no thought.

3. With little or no labor (no real cooking involved)

So, today I bring you six awesome treats that will win you friends, compliments and lots of extra time to watch your DVRed episodes of Nashville.

  • Wasabi cream cheese spread– Okay, I did not make up the recipe, but I have made it enough times to take some credit for it. Here’s my shortcut tips. Use a cheese slicer and do it in layers. Put soy sauce in the bottom of a shallow dish and also— serve it with rice crackers. It’s the only way to eat it. Powdered wasabi works just as well as bottled or jarred. Just be careful not to make it too spicy! Unless that’s what you are going for!
  • Brie Bites or Baked Brie Wheel– Brie, crescent dough and raspberry preserves is all you need here. It does not have to be puff pastry, but that works great too! Nothing too complicated. And very, very, very well recieved at parties. it looks beautiful too! The picture I have here is the brie wheel before it is baked with an egg wash, when it comes out of the oven it is so becautifully golden and— YUM!
  • Cheeseball– It sounds gross. But it’s not. It’s the best thing that you ever had. Vary it with fancy crackers, flatbread, Pita chips or veggies. It’s delectable.Baked Brie pre-oven
  • Proscuitto Wrapped Shrimp– Easy and impressive. Could be an entree or a passed appetizer. Make sure shrimp are big enough for wrapping, no mini-shrimp. Get the meat sliced thin at the deli. And use whole basil leaves. I didn’t use red pepper or lemon in this recipe. Serve with tartar sauce. Mmmmmm.
  • Fig, walnut and Goat Cheese Toasts, sprinkled with honey. Mini baguette slices, fig pieces, goat cheese. Heated on the broiler, drizzled with warm honey. I omitted orange and rosemary here. No need to be that fanciful.
  • Mini Shrimp with cocktail sauce and cream cheese– This reminds me of my childhood and therefore is only served with the most buttery buttery Ritz or Club crackers. Yum.

What? You noticed all but one of these has cheese in it? So what? It’s a PARTY treat, for God’s sake. EVERYone loves cheese!

Enjoy playoff weekend and even if you don’t care who wins, at least enjoy the snacks!

(Remember when I talked about eating low carb? Yeah, well, this post doesn’t count).




10 Ways to Manage Your Picky Eater: A Satire


This is Weenie Man. Toothpick not edible.


For the record, He would not eat this grape smiley face.

1. Deception: I bought chocolate Chobani and tried to pawn it off as “yummy pudding.” Ultimate fail? When he said, “I don’t like this pudding, can I have plain yogurt?” God Dammit.

2. Celebrating Mini Victories: Last night he had grapes, broccoli and olives for dinner. This was a major coup. He got a sticker, a prize and got to watch a show. I mean— my kid ate BROCCOLI! And he LIKED IT!

3. Parenting Skillz: When he doesn’t eat something, we threaten to give it to his sister. Officially giving him sibling issues and possibly causing our daughter’s future chubby phase. Amazing parenting right there.

4. Preventative Deception: Afraid of causing a “I don’t YIKE that!” meltdown, we have developed code words for certain foods. English muffins are called “circle toast,” almonds are called peanuts, cranberries are called raisins. You get the idea. Everything else he eats is called “just plain.” Just plain waffles, just plain bagels, just plain vegetables, just plain cereal, just plain yogurt— everything— just plain. I almost bludgeoned my husband with a frying pan the day he referred to the pumpkin pancakes I was making as, well, pumpkin pancakes. “They are JUST PLAIN!” [Imagine slow motion wide eyes as we look, in horror, to see if the toddler heard him say the word pumpkin]

5. HOLY CRAP! HE’S EATING! The few times I have actually gotten him a happy meal, I have sat, mouth agape, watching at how he tears through fries, nuggets and apple slices like he’s some “I eat like this all the time” toddler. I mean, it’s incredible. He eats ALL of it!

6. Creativity Counts: I made a hot dog into a person and called it a Weenie Man. And he still didn’t eat it.

7. Sweets: When we go to my mother’s, she lets him have three helpings of ice cream because “you should see how well he eats it!!!!” Yeah Mom, ice cream isn’t really the problem.

8. Choose your battles: One day I caught him drinking syrup. And I paused to think if syrup actually satisfied any of the four food groups. Then I offered him a straw to drink it faster. I mean, there’s got to be some calories in there, right?

9. The plain train: The only sandwich I can get him to bring to day care is a butter sandwich. JUST PLAIN, of course. My kid doesn’t even like peanut butter. Or jelly. Or meat. Or cream cheese. I mean, whose kid IS he?

10. Don’t you. Dare. Look at him: I buy into the “don’t look at him” mentality while he is eating. The second he catches you watching him take a bite, he stops and remembers to maintain full control over all meal times. Therefore you do a lot of looking away from your toddler during a meal. This is only weird when you are at Friendly’s and people see you openly trying to ignore your child. They probably wouldn’t understand if you said, “Well, if you look at him, he stops eating.” No, that sounds crazy. I’d rather be perceived as the ignoring parent with the well fed child.

Foodie Friday: Shortcut Low Carb Dinner

So I’m not going to bore you with “it’s the New Year and I’m on a diet” type of post that you might just skim through. I’ll be honest. I love food; especially foods offered at holiday time and went off the rails the last two weeks of December. But that’s over now and it’s time to get serious so I don’t get a random person asking me in a hushed voice, “Are you pregnant again?”

A year ago my husband got back some pretty bad cholesterol results saying his triglycerides were through the roof. Soon after, he had his gall bladder out, recovered and we went on a low carb diet together (something we have always done to stay healthy). When he went back to his doctor and got blood work done, his triglycerides were drastically down, so much the doctor could not even believe it. She said he should pretty much always stay on a low carb diet and never let his weight fluctuate too much.

So, we have made a life choice to eat low carb pretty much 70% of the time. Once you make the change, it’s not as sad and terrible as you think. You get used to the low carb options, get ridiculously excited for sugar free Jell-O and just overall eat more vegetables and less sugar and carbs.

This is a challenging way of eating when you have children. Very often we make two dinners because I can’t get Parker to eat an all-vegetable and meat dinner. But, sometimes we have two different dinners and that’s okay. It’s getting easier to resist the temptation of taking a bite out of their grilled cheese or pasta. Especially when I have such yummy options myself.

We just discovered low carb gluten free pasta and love it. It cooks up quick—no boiling needed— and absorbs flavors delectably. Making different stir fry’s with this type of pasta helps us have the low carb dinner without feeling like we were eating like birds. Quite the opposite.

So this week I made sausage, mushroom, spinach and pesto over pasta. Here’s the “recipe” if you could call it that.

  • Sweet sausage not in casings from the butcher
  • Fresh spinach
  • Chopped mushrooms
  • Jarred pesto
  • ¼ cup heavy cream (cream has no carbs while milk has sugar and is full of carbs)
  • Low carb pasta as shown here

Start with cooking the sausage on medium high heat in olive oil until browned. Then add the vegetables until spinach is wilted. Add pesto and cream to make a little sauce. Add the pasta last and stir together until it is heated through.

Even if you eat carbs, this is truly a shortcut dinner worth making. I had it on the table in 20 minutes and was so proud of myself I took a picture. My husband, the usual cook in the house, laughed at me. But then he ate up all that goodness so that there wasn’t even anything for leftovers!


Giving Thanks Part One

We head to my sister’s in Cape Cod, MA tonight. I am beyond excited. Here’s a little tongue in cheek list of things I am thankful for this week.

1. Knowing that because I am traveling so far for Thanksgiving, I don’t need to play bumper carts in the grocery store Wednesday night.

2. Carbs. It’s been a long road without them getting rid of my baby weight (can you actually call it that 14 months later?). Looking forward to rolls, potatoes and pie. And gravy. Not in that order.

3. Naps. I am always thankful for naps and know that I get more of them than the average Mom. I think of it as cheap Botox.

4. A day when lounging is encouraged but also dressing up. Figuring out the right laying-on-the-couch-expandable-waist-formal wear is always a fun fashion challenge.

5. Turkey sandwiches. See #3, #2 and #1.

Happy Thanksgiving Shortcut Girl readers!


8 Shortcuts You Haven’t Tried Yet

1. Dry shampoo: For the girl on the go who does not want greasy hair!
2. Smooth shave: Smooth legs, no expensive shaving cream!
3. “Cheater” Homemade pizza: Thai Chicken. Make it for your friends, it’s better than delivery.
4. Dump cake: The birthday cake that you just didn’t have time to make!
5. Editing your own photos: The professional look without the professional cost.
6. A sock bun: For the days when you just can’t handle your hair.
7. Yoga for the mind: Generating gratitude to help center you.
8. At home highlights: Do-it-yourself make over, right at your bathroom sink.