Garanimals Blog

Archive for the ‘cooking’ tag

May 12th, 2014 at 9:32 am

Easy Freezer Meals


With a busy schedule it’s always nice to have prepared meals in your freezer that are ready to go! The best kinds are ones you’ve made yourself using ingredients of your choosing and according to your families likes and needs.

I like to freeze everything, from fruits and vegetables, to meat, to full meals. One of my favorite things to freeze are waffles with strawberries in whole and sauce form that I use to top them. I pick the strawberries fresh and they keep the whole year until it is strawberry picking season again.

Leftovers are also a great thing to freeze. I make extra when I first cook the meal, and then freeze the leftovers in individual portions so I have lunches available. I also love to freeze things to prevent them from going bad. Is there a good sale on veggies at the supermarket? Buy more than you need and freeze the rest. I freeze summer corn or rhubarb from the garden as well. Freezing is as good as you get to fresh in the middle of winter!

One great money saving idea is to have a freezer party! Gather some friends and make meals together to freeze. This way you can buy ingredients in bulk. Another idea is to prepare enough meals for the whole group, and each bring a different recipe. Swap around so everyone gets a freezer meal from each person. If there are 8 people, you would go in with 8 meals (same recipe) and come home with 8 different meals!

Here are some of my favorite freezer meal websites:

Freezer Friendz

50 Easy Freezer Meals

Freezer Cooking 101 & planners

Pioneer Woman Freezer Cooking

Freezing Guidelines 

How to Freeze Fruits and Vegetables


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February 27th, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Cake Pops!




Cake pops have exploded onto the foodie scene as the dessert du jour. They’re delicious, bite-sized portions that are easy to eat. Because of this, they make great gifts or party favors for any occasion. For us, the fact that kids can eat them with minimal mess and not go into sugar overload means they’ve risen to the #1 dessert spot! There are so many recipes on the Internet, ranging from “simple for beginners” to “holy cow, that’s a delectible work of art!” You can match them to holidays, party themes, or favorite characters. Take a look at these awesome cake pop recipes.


Red Velvet Cake Pops

Funfetti Cake Pops

Lego Cake Pops

Hello Kitty Cake Pops

Mickey/Minnie Mouse Cake Pops

Sports Cake Pops

Princess Cake Pops

Monster Cake Pops

Sesame Street Cake Pops

Flower Cake Pops

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February 13th, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Crockpot Meals



Parents often don’t have a lot of time to prepare dinner, especially meals that have a main dish and a few sides. The crockpot is one of the best kitchen tools for busy families. It’s a safe way to leave food cooking for long periods of time, and the recipes can be as simple as throwing the ingredients in together! You can cut your cooking time in half, or even more, by using one. Here are some great crockpot meals the whole family will enjoy.


Do you have a great crockpot recipe to share? Post it on our Facebook page and show us your delicious creations!

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September 12th, 2013 at 9:00 am

It’s National Chocolate Milkshake Day!


Happy National Chocolate Milkshake Day! I know, it sounds ridiculous, but who doesn’t like milkshakes? In honor of this special day, here are some delicious milkshake recipes for you to enjoy!

What’s your favorite?

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April 17th, 2013 at 10:54 am

Favorite Dip Recipes


There’s nothing I love more at parties, family gatherings and holidays than a good DIP. There are so many different kinds for every taste. You can usually find healthy, low-fat or low-calorie versions of pretty much any recipe, which allows you to enjoy them guilt-free! You can enjoy them year-round…hot, cold, spicy, cheesy, they’re all good! There is a dip for every occasion and we’re covering them here in this blog post!

Spinach-Artichoke Dip 

A classic with many recipe variations. This hot dip is super easy to make, requiring few ingredients and very little actual prep time. Mix them together, pop in the oven and you’re good to go.


A taco night staple. Guacamole is one of the healthier dips around. It’s flavorful, and the fact that it’s cold makes it great for summer months.

Crab Dip

Seafood lovers…cue the drool. This delicious dip is my personal favorite and I make when I host dinner parties. There are never any leftovers!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

A game-day favorite. No Super Bowl party is complete with out this spicy dish. The men go nuts over it.

Clam Dip

This is a recipe my family makes for every single occasion. I don’t know what it is, but it’s so good that even the pickiest kids in our brood love it!

7-Layer Mexican Dip

Seven flavors in one! This is the ultimate dip.

They make excellent desserts too!

Nutella Dip

Chocolatey hazelnut deliciousness! Serve with graham crackers, marshmallows, Nilla wafers or fruit.

Strawberry Yogurt Fruit Dip

Add that little extra “something” to your fruit platter with this delicious yogurt dip.


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January 2nd, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Take the Chill out with Chili


There’s nothing like a good pot of chili on a cold winter day! There are so many great  recipes…vegetarian, low-calorie, etc. Chili can be a great source of protein or a healthy alternative to other fattening, carb-filled winter dishes. Got a crockpot? There are some yummy options you can try that don’t require anything but throwing the ingredients in and having a delicious dinner ready in a few hours! Keep it simple or dress it up with the trimmings…shredded cheddar, sour cream, chives, YUM! Here are some delicious chili recipes:

Classic, Award-Winning Chili 

Chunky Vegetarian Chili 

Slow-Cooker Chunky Chicken Chili

Chili-Stuffed Peppers

My personal favorite, the quick and easy McCormick’s Chili Mix, is my go-to meal for busy days when I don’t have enough time to spend hours in the kitchen cooking dinner. All you need is the seasoning mix, ground meat (I prefer lean turkey), beans (I use kidney beans for the color and flavor), and diced tomatoes (or tomato sauce or paste for a thicker texture). I top it off with shredded sharp cheddar and some sweet cornbread on the side!

Anyone have a favorite recipe they want to share?

Photo credit:

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October 17th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Everything Apples


Autumn is the season of apples…macintosh, green, and my favorite golden delicious! There are so many opportunities to use apples for fun, educational and YUMMY activities for you and your kids to do together.


Starting with the obvious, there are TONS of delicious recipes that call for apples. You can buy them from the store, but it’s more fun to go apple picking at the u-pick-em orchards! Here are some easy, mouth-watering recipes for your family to enjoy: Homemade Apple Cider, Apple Fritters, Bite-Sized Apple Pie, Baked Apple Chips.


There are a ton of apple crafts for all ages. Get everyone in the family involved and make a family handprint apple tree. It promotes great bonding time and you’ll end up with a masterpiece that everyone helped create! This simple paper plate craft is adorable and the kids will enjoy using the real apple seeds. Even adults can enjoy apple crafts with these apple candles that make great rustic decorations for your home.


Apples can be used to teach kids a variety of things… the alphabet, shapes, patterns, numbers, senses, science, etc. Kids will enjoy some fun songs and finger play that relate to the fruit. They’re also a good tool for learning about the science of plant growth and the process from seed to fruit. The apple matching game can help them learn their upper and lowercase letters. For the little ones, different types of apples can be used to learn colors and patterns.


There are so many great books about apples you can read to or with your kids. “10 Apples Up On Top” is a classic by Dr. Suess (Theo LeSeig) that teaches numbers and counting. “Amelia Bedelia’s First Apple Pie” by Herman Parish continues the adorable and fun series with her autumn adventures. “Apple Farmer Annie” by Monica Wellington tells the story of a farmer who harvests a variety of apples, sells them, and uses them in a variety of recipes. “Apple Pie Tree” by Zoe Hall shows how apples grow and how they can be made into an apple pie. Many of these books have activities that go along with them.

What’s your favorite apple recipe?

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June 19th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Wondering What To Make For Dinner? Get A Little Help From Dinner Spinner

Hey mom, what’s for dinner? I don’t know about you but way too often I just dread hearing those words. Not only when I have no idea what to make, but also when I answer and the response is less than enthusiastic.

We all know that the daily dinner grind is exhausting. How many times can you make the old favorites before you just get bored with them? And while putting out a gourmet meal can be extremely soul satisfying, there’s no way it can be a regular occurrence. Most of the time we just want quick, nutritious and delicious. Is that so much to ask?

I recently heard about an app called Dinner Spinner that can really help make the dreaded dinner planning and execution easier. Created by our friends at, it’s an easy way to get some inspiration and lots of ideas for dinners, apps, desserts and more.

To get started, just choose 3 criteria. The type of dish (main, side, salad, soup, etc.), the main ingredient (fish, chicken, pasta, etc), and the amount of time you want it ready in (20 min or less, 45 minutes or less, over an hour or slow cooker). Dinner Spinner will provide you with all of the results that meet these criteria from the huge database of Each recipe comes with ratings, nutritional information and reviews. So easy. I just love the 20 minutes or less category.

And if you want the app to do the suggesting without your input, just choose the Spin Categories option from the main page and see what comes up. Or just shake your phone.

There are other ways to utilize the Spinner. Let’s say you’re going through the grocery store or your pantry and you find something that you’d like to use in your dish, but just aren’t sure what to make with it. Simply scan the barcode of the item and the app will search for any recipes that use it. I love that.

Dinner Spinner has other options such as search filters that enable you to find recipes with low carbs, vegan, no dairy, or low salt. If you have an account, you can use the grocery list feature to either type in or scan items to a grocery list. This is really handy.

This app is available for Android, iPhone, Windows Phone and the Kindle Fire. There is a free version for all and a Pro version for $2.99 for the Android and iPhone that give you some added features like searching for recipes with multiple ingredients, creating multiple shopping lists, and are ad-free.

What a great help this app is. Next time you get the question, you’ve got tools at your disposal that makes the answer easier. Even better, you can use Dinner Spinner to enlist your family to help you decide.

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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