All Posts by Alison Bickel


White Chocolate Popcorn Recipe

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Need a sweet treat but don’t have time to bake?

As much as I love the baking of cookies and candy around the holidays, sometimes it’s nice to have a simple recipe up your sleeve when you need something in a pinch.

This white chocolate popcorn is just that. Pop the popcorn yourself, drizzle with some melted white chocolate chips and top them off with some festive red and green sprinkles.

Don’t have any sprinkles?  I think crushed candy canes would be a delicious way to finish them off too.

Bag this treat up as a gift for teachers, or surprise your kids with a fun, festive lunch box dessert.

White Chocolate Popcorn

  • Author: MOMables
  • Cuisine: Treats


  • 12 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup popcorn kernels (yields 16 cups popcorn)
  • 1 bag white chocolate chips
  • Christmas colored sprinkles
  • Parchment paper


  1. In a large pot, over medium-high heat, melt 1-2 tablespoons butter.
  2. Once butter is melted, pour in popcorn kernels.
  3. Cover with lid.
  4. As popcorn begins to pop, give pot a shake every now and then to toss kernels and prevent burning.
  5. When popping slows, remove from heat and spread popcorn in a single layer on parchment paper.
  6. While popcorn cools, melt bag of white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl at 30 second increments until completely melted.
  7. Using a fork, drizzle melted white chocolate over popped corn.
  8. Immediately follow by decorating with Christmas sprinkles.
  9. Allow 1 hour for chocolate to harden.
  10. Break into pieces and store in an air tight container.




How to Make Homemade Hot Cocoa

It seems that as soon as the temperature begins to fall my children start requesting hot cocoa. This recipe never disappoints.

How to Make Homemade Hot Cocoa

For years, I kept my pantry stocked with a variety of store-bought hot cocoa mixes, until one, snowed bound day, I found myself without.  It was then I discovered how easy it is to make hot cocoa on my own.

The ingredient list could not be more simple, many you probably already have in your pantry.

To spice up your hot cocoa add in a cinnamon stick or pinch of cinnamon at step #2, or maybe a drop of peppermint extract to mimic the delicious peppermint hot cocoa from Starbucks.

I sometimes pack hot cocoa in a thermos and send it to school with my boys. Their favorite way to enjoy a cup of hot cocoa is next to a bowl of homemade popcorn as an after school snack during the winter months.

How to Make Homemade Hot Cocoa

yields 5 cups

  • Author: MOMables
  • Cuisine: Snacks



  1. Combine the cocoa, sugar, water, and salt in a medium saucepan.
  2. Over medium heat, stir constantly until the mixture boils. Cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.
  3. Stir in the milk and heat, but do not boil.
  4. Remove from the heat and add vanilla; stir well. Serve immediately.


**I’ve used both vanilla soymilk as well as almond milk to make this and both are delicious!**


adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking


4 Hearty Vegetable Soup

Hearty Vegetable Soup

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Ditch the can: Homemade Hearty Vegetable SoupDitch the hearty canned soups.
Like, right now.

This recipe is easy to make and will leave you wondering why you haven’t made it sooner.

For busy families, fall is the beginning of holiday craziness.  Our calendars begin to countdown the days to holiday gatherings, school/church programs and all kinds of extra parties and activities.

More than ever, this time of year, I like to keep things in the kitchen as easy as possible.  It makes the holidays a lot more enjoyable if I can stay organized and spend a little less time in the kitchen.  Anybody with me on that?

This vegetable soup is more of a method than a recipe.  I use any combination of vegetables I might have in the fridge to bring in together.  It is hearty, warming and makes great leftovers for lunch or lunch boxes the next day.

Related: Top 5 Lunchboxes We’ve Tested


Hearty Vegetable Soup

  • Author: MOMables
  • Cuisine: Dinner


  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 23 potatoes chopped
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh green beans or peas
  • 128 ounce can of diced tomatoes, including juice
  • 1 cannellini beans (optional)
  • 4 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons basil pesto or 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 12 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar


  1. In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add in garlic, onions, carrots and potatoes.
  3. Sauté until onions are translucent. Pour in tomatoes (and their juices), broth, water, pesto and beans, if using. Bring to a simmer for several minutes.
  4. Finish by adding in green beans/peas and balsamic vinegar. Simmer for several more minutes until green beans are heated through.
  5. Top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese for added flavor.



Healthy Baked Oatmeal Muffins

You know oatmeal is filling and nutritious, right? But who has time to sit down and enjoy a bowl each morning? With this healthy recipe for baked oatmeal muffins, your kids will be set with a filling breakfast in the morning.

Check out how easy these muffins are to make in this quick video.

I love the idea of sending my boys out the door to school each morning with bellies full from a nutritious breakfast.

The truth is, some mornings it just doesn’t happen.  Someone needs to leave early, another slept too late and yet another just isn’t in the mood for his usual peanut butter toast.

What’s a mom to do?

These baked oatmeal muffins are a good answer.  Inspired by the popularity of baked oatmeal, this recipe takes it one step further by baking them in individual muffin tins.

Make these oatmeal muffins for a filling, portable breakfast and freeze leftovers to pull out for another day.

All you have to do is pull them out to thaw overnight, or warm in the microwave for 45-60 seconds to reheat.  If not eating on the go, you can make them even more decadent by drizzling with warm milk.

Baked Oatmeal Muffins

yield: 12 muffins

  • Author: MOMables
  • Cuisine: Baking


  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit or nuts (optional)
  • 2 cups fruit, fresh or frozen (for these muffins I used 1 cup chopped apples and 1 cup chopped pears)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a muffin pan with 12 liners (foil or parchment liners work best)
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, fresh fruit (and dried if using). In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, milk, syrup, and egg. Combine wet ingredients with dry.
  3. Batter will be very loose and wet. Evenly distribute oatmeal/fruit mix into lined muffin tins. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-35 minutes or until muffins are just golden brown. Bake time may vary depending on size of muffin tins and oven. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. If not serving immediately, refrigerate in air tight container. To freeze muffins, cool completely before storing.

Homemade Ramen Noodle Soup Recipe

healthy ramen noodle soup that is much better than the packaged ones! The broth. oy! so good!

Looking for a homemade ramen noodle soup recipe so you can ditch the packaged type? Or maybe, you are looking for a budget friendly healthy version of the classic? I’ve got you covered today with this healthy homemade ramen soup recipe. Perfect for a thermos lunch and easy enough you can make it today with ingredients you probably already have on hand.

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Maple Glazed Snack Mix

Are you purchasing the same boxed snacks week after week?

If so, you are in a snack-rut.

It’s so easy to pick up the usual popcorn, pretzels, cookies and crackers while walking the aisles at the grocery store. I know I am guilty of it.

Eventually, my kids tire of the usual and start asking for something new for their lunch box and at snack time. You know, they need to cure their after-school hunger pains.

This snack mix is easy to make and you can mix up a large batch of it for the week.

Popcorn, pretzels, california raisins… all covered in a light maple glaze with just a touch of cinnamon. A little bit salty and a little bit sweet.

Believe me when I say it won’t just appeal to the kids for snacking…you might just find it hard to resist yourself.

Maple Glazed Snack Mix

  • Author: MOMables
  • Cuisine: Snacks


  • 4 cups popped popcorn
  • 2 cups pretzel sticks
  • 1 cup almonds or pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl combine popcorn, pretzels, nuts and raisins, set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter. Once butter is melted add maple syrup and cinnamon. Stir to combine and heat syrup through. Take off heat and stir in vanilla. Pour over popcorn/pretzel mixture and quickly toss to coat.
  4. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour popcorn/pretzel mix onto baking sheet and spread evenly. Bake at 250 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring halfway through. Allow to cool before serving. Store in an airtight container.

26 Easy stove top macaroni and cheese recipe that can be made in the stove top- with better ingredients than the box

Easy Macaroni and Cheese Recipe Stove Top version

This easy Macaroni and Cheese Recipe will satisfy even the pickets of eaters! The recipe is super easy to make and just as quick as the boxed kind -with better ingredients of course!

Easy creamy mac and cheese MOMables.comIf you ask just about any kid what their favorite food is, more times than not, the answer is macaroni and cheese.

I know there was a period of time at our house when it was the requested meal almost daily.

While it’s always easy to pull out a box of the grocery store variety, I’m here to tell you that making your own, homemade version is just as simple. Check out how easy it is to make!

It doesn’t require a fancy roux to thicken the sauce or even constant stirring.  You can even change it up by adding peas, broccoli, bacon or ham.

Not only does this mac and cheese make a great lunch at home, but your kids will be envy of their classmates when they pull it out of their lunch box at school.

Easy Creamy Mac and Cheese Recipe

Easy stove top macaroni and cheese recipe that can be made in the stove top- with better ingredients than the box
  • Author: MOMables
  • Cuisine: Lunch


  • 1 pound pasta, any shape
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups shredded cheese, like cheddar, monterey jack, or colby
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard


  1. In a large pot, over medium-high heat, bring water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. When the pasta has finished cooking, you can begin to prepare the cheese sauce. Start by warming 1 cup of the milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and the 2 tablespoons of flour until there are no lumps. When you begin to see steam rising from the milk, whisk in the milk-and-flour mixture. Continue whisking until the milk thickens slightly to the consistency of heavy cream, 3-4 minutes.
  3. Turning the heat to low, you can begin adding the shredded cheese into the milk. Stir in the salt and dijon mustard. Continue to stir until all the cheese has melted and the sauce is creamy. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Remove the sauce from heat.
  4. In a large serving bowl, combine the pasta and 1/2 of the cheese sauce. Stir to coat the pasta evenly. Add the second half of the sauce and any extra add-ins.
  5. Serve the mac and cheese immediately while still warm. Leftovers will keep for up to a week and can be reheated. If the sauce is a little dry after re-heating, mix in a splash of milk to make it creamy again.


For a gluten free version, use gluten free pasta and an all purpose gluten free baking flour.

adapted slightly from The Kitchn



Apple Pie Muffins

What if I showed you how to capture the scent and flavors of apple pie into a delicious muffin? This apple pie muffin recipe is delicious and smells heavenly.

There is just about nothing that brings my kids into the kitchen like the smell of baked goods.  Cookies, muffins, bread, you name it.  They come running, eyes bright, smiling.

“Whatcha bakin’ Mom?’ I love it.

After a summer break from baking fall always brings me right back to a baking frame of mind.  The aroma of cinnamon, apple and spices fill my kitchen with warmth…and children wanting to sample the goods.

This simple recipe doesn’t require pulling out the mixer.  Just a large mixing bowl, spoon and little stirring muscle.  The batter is thick, but the muffins are surprising light. If you don’t have apples on hand pears work well too.

These apple spice muffins are great for a quick snack, or side in your lunch packing arsenal.  They pair well with a thermos of warm soup, a salad or as a healthier dessert option.

And when you are done with these, be sure to whip up a batch of my Coffee Cake Muffins. These are made with a cinnamon swirl and are absolutely delightful.

Apple Pie Muffins

makes 12 muffins

  • Author: MOMables
  • Yield: 12 1x
  • Cuisine: Baking


  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup maple sugar (or granulated sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup chopped apple (about 1 apple)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients; flour, ground flaxseeds, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add in applesauce, melted butter, milk and chopped apples. Stir until well combined.
  3. Divide the batter evenly among muffin cups.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
  5. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.



Homemade Magic Shell

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Why would we have homemade magic shell in a healthy school lunches website? Because we believe that homemade is best.

Magic shell was one of those rare treats that made ice cream at home even more special as a child.  Now, with children of my own, I want them to enjoy some of those same treats I did as a kid.

Why make a homemade Magic Shell? I can save money and I have the ingredients in my pantry at all times.  It’s super easy too!  Two ingredients, about 30 seconds in the microwave (or stove top) and you have your own version of this delicious, ice cream topping.

It’s the perfect treat for celebrating the end another school week, a soccer game victory or maybe as dessert for a pizza and movie night.

However you choose to enjoy it, I can just about guarantee your kids will think you are a rock star for making this magical treat at home.

Homemade Magic Shell

  • Author: MOMables
  • Cuisine: Condiments


  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips or semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil


  1. Place coconut oil in a small microwave safe bowl or sauce pan along with chocolate chips.
  2. Heat in in microwave (or on stove top) for 30 seconds, stir.
  3. Repeat until both are entirely melted, creating a semi-thick sauce. Allow to cool to room temperature. Do not place in the refrigerator…it will harden!
  4. Spoon over ice cream and watch as the sauce magically turns into a hardened shell. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.



Homemade Lara Bars Recipe

Do you buy packaged bars because they have few ingredients and are healthy? What If I told you that it’s really easy to make them yourself?

There are so many choices out there when it comes to snack bars.  In a pinch, I’ll often grab a box of Z Bars or Lara Bars, to add to lunches or pack in soccer bags for a post-practice treat.

What I’ve found though, is that making a homemade version of Lara Bars really couldn’t be easier.  And the bonus?  My kids love them even more because they can help make them.  The ingredient list is as short and sweet and the time it takes to make them.

This recipe allows for all kinds of room for experimenting with new flavors.  Swap out the peanuts and peanut butter for almonds and almond butter.  Add in dried fruit instead of chocolate chips.  Maybe a dash of cinnamon to celebrate the flavors of fall?

There are so many combinations to try, you could make a new flavor every week! These add the perfect extra nutritional boost to a MOMables lunch if you have an older child or an athlete. Thanks to the Wannabe Chef you can make these at home.

Homemade Lara Bars

This recipe comes from The Wanna Be Chef.

  • Author: MOMables
  • Cuisine: Snacks


  • 1 cup pitted Medjool dates or,
  • 1 cup golden raisins*
  • 1/2 cup peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup of chocolate chips


  1. In a food processor, process dates and peanuts until they begin to form a paste.
  2. Add in peanut butter and continue to process until a dough begins to form.
  3. Add in chocolate chips and pulse a few times to combine.
  4. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or plastic wrap and spoon in date mixture. Press into rectangle, about 3/4 of an inch thick. Refrigerate 1-2 hours until firm. Picking up parchment liner, remove from loaf pan and cut into individual bars. Wrap individually and store in refrigerator. They are good for about a week.


If using raisins, soak them in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes to rehydrate them, drain water, and use in recipe.



3 Baked Pasta with Tomatoes and Mozzarella -

Baked Pasta with Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Need an easy dinner that your family will devour? Check out this baked pasta recipe!
Baked Pasta with Tomatoes and Mozzarella - MOMables.comAre your calendars filling up with scheduled activities? Ours is. That means I need to be a bit more more organized when it comes to meals.  Not only do I need to have an unending, creative supply of lunches on hand, but also good, filling meals for supper.

This recipe is one of our favorites. It’s easy to make, fills my 3 hungry boys and husband, freezes well and makes great lunch leftovers!

This recipe comes via Jamie Oliver, so you know it’s full of wholesome ingredients.  When I came across it he wrote of how he found inspiration for this dish while visiting a grade school in Italy.

This dish was served to the Italian school children both as a hot and cold lunch.

The day Jamie visited it was served to 1,000 children! Also, did you know that in Italy it is law that the ingredients in school lunches are organic?  Seriously.  I had to look that one up, not believing the first time I read it.

The laws primarily apply to pasta and olive oil, but they also make a point to use mostly local produce, supporting local farmers and agriculture.  How cool is that?  Very cool, in my opinion.

Related: Top 5 Lunchboxes We’ve Tested



Baked Pasta with Tomatoes and Mozzarella

  • Author: MOMables
  • Cuisine: Dinner


  • 14 oz whole wheat pasta–orcchiette or penne
  • 23 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 teaspoons chili powder (or 12 dried chilies, crumbled)
  • 314 ounce cans diced tomatoes, including juice
  • 23 tablespoons basil pesto (or 1 large handful fresh basil)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups parmesan, grated
  • 35 ounce balls of mozzarella, sliced


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Add onion, garlic and chili. Sauté for about 10 minutes on medium to low heat until onions are translucent. Add in the tomatoes, including juice. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Using a food processor or immersion blender, process until sauce is smooth. Add in pesto (or fresh basil), vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Toss the pasta with half the tomato sauce.
  4. Prepare a 9×13 or 8×8 baking dish by rubbing with olive oil. Layer a little pasta in the bottom of the baking dish, followed by a layer of tomato sauce, a handful of parmesan and layer of sliced mozzarella. Continue layering until you’ve used all the ingredients, ending with a layer of cheese on top. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and bubbling.



7 Delicious Back to School Breakfast Ideas

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The calendar is slowly creeping toward the first day of school.  That means busy mornings working to get everyone out the door on time.  Breakfast can easily become a challenge. To keep the first meal of the day from falling to the wayside I thought it might be fun to share a few ideas to get your back to school days started off on the right foot.  Breakfast ideas that are not only fun, but filling enough to get your kids through the morning.

Fresh Fruit Yogurt (below)
High protein and naturally sweet is just what our kids need. By the spoonfuls!

Homemade Breakfast Sausage Patties

Whole Wheat Pancakes (click to download)

Gluten-Free Breakfast Spirals

Kitchen Sink Muffins (below)
My go-to and favorite muffin recipe.  It works great with anything you might have in your pantry.

Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies – a cookie for breakfast? Yes ma’am!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie (below)
Filling, delicious and nutritious. Perfect to drink on the go.