Archive for June, 2009

If you are looking for VBS snack ideas in general, please be sure to read my other post with lots of food suggestions.   🙂

Our church is doing Rome Underground this year, and I’ve done quite a bit of searching on the internet for food to fit in with the theme.  We feed our workers beforehand, and we also offer the kids a more “substantial snack” since many of them have not had supper before coming to church.

This year I decided to incorporate some traditional VBS fare along with some Roman-inspired food.  I told all of our workers that we’ll be expanding our taste buds!  😀

First, I’ll give you a run-down of what our menu will basically look like, then provide recipes for any particular dish.

1)  Quesadillas with hummus and veggies. Quesadillas made with fajita size flour tortillas, shredded cheese and taco meat – if you have large griddles, you can do 6 or so at a time – spray griddle with non-stick spray first to make the outside crispy.  After cooking, cut each one into 6 wedges using a pizza cutter.  These can be made ahead of time and frozen, then reheated to serve.  We also do some with just cheese.  Serve with a sauce on the side made from Ranch dressing and salsa.  Yum!

2)  Little sandwiches and tabouli.   The secret is to make the sandwiches several hours ahead of time – it really does make a huge difference.  For VBS (a crowd of 100 give or take a few), I use 8 packages of hamburger buns, 4 packages each of Oscar Meyer smoked turkey breast and honey ham, a package of sliced American cheese, and some toothpicks.  For each sandwich, use one slice each of ham, turkey, and cheese.  Put four toothpicks into the top of the sandwich and slice between them cutting the sandwich into fourths (each piece like a slice of pie sort of).  Put the sandwiches on a tray, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for several hours.

3)  Chicken on a stick, Greek salad, kielbasa/cheese/crackers. The chicken on a stick is really just popcorn chicken threaded onto skewers (check Ebay or restaurant supply – we’re using the 4″ sticks, I think).  I plan on serving it with honey mustard on the side.  And lest you think I’ve lost my mind on this one, I will be buying the popcorn chicken from Wally World so I’m not standing on my feet for hours frying the little darlings up.  🙂  5 or 6 pounds of popcorn chicken goes a long way when you put 4 or 5 to a stick.   I’m not entirely sure about quantity on this yet – I plan on doing a trial run ahead of time with one pound to see how many we can make.

The kielbasa, cheese and crackers is simply Hillshire Farms kielbasa (sausage) thinly sliced with 1/4 slice of American cheese on top of a Ritz cracker.  You can make trays of this stuff very easily, and most everyone loves it.  It’s a good filler that tastes great!  Don’t make it up too far ahead of time or your crackers will go soggy.  You can chop everything and have it ready to set up assembly-line style when it’s closer to serving time.

4)  Macho Nachos with olives and pickles on the side. My version of Macho Nachos is chips with taco meat, cheese dip (made from 1 – #10 can cheese sauce and 1 can of rotel (undrained) ).  You can serve sour cream on the side if you like along with jalapeno peppers .  I cook the hamburger meat several weeks ahead of time, season with taco seasoning, and freeze until ready to use.  Crockpots work great to keep the meat and cheese dip hot.   Green and black olives along with sweet and dill pickles can be served on the side.

5)  Hot dogs plus any leftovers from the earlier part of the week.  Pan fry the hot dogs unless you want to grill them ahead of time.  Keep them warm in a crockpot as you’re serving.  Have ketchup, mustard, mayo (yes, some people like it on their dogs!) and relish handy.  Sometimes I make up another batch of sandwiches on closing night just in case we have parents who come and would like to eat too.  Sometimes we have a lot of leftovers from earlier in the week, sometimes there’s none.  Plan to have too much rather than not enough!

Desserts this year will be varied.  We’re having fig newtons, fruit salad, melon balls, pudding cups (#10 cans of pudding from Sam’s in individual serving cups and topped with whipped topping), popcorn, raisins, and possibly ice cream sundaes.

I’ve also asked any of our bread makers at church to donate homemade rolls if they’d like.  This will be part of the kids’ snacks each night.

We always have kool-aid slushies made from gallons of frozen kool-aid.  Let it sit out for a few hours ahead of time and chop up any remaining chunks of ice for an icy treat.  The kids LOVE these in the hot summer!

Iced tea is served nightly as well as water.

For the recipes:

Hummus – This is like a middle Eastern bean dip.  I use canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), some of the liquid from the can, about 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 3 cloves minced garlic, parsley,  a good drizzle of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a healthy dash of cumin and black pepper.  Blend all of this together and serve with chips, crackers or vegetables (carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.).  Double or triple the recipe if needed.  Adjust seasoning to your taste.

Tabouli – Love this stuff!  It is a traditional middle Eastern salad which can be eaten alone or with crackers.  Below is the recipe as I received it, and I’ll tell you the modifications I made:

For a 1# bag of tabouli wheat (cracked bulgar wheat),  put it in a large bowl and run warm water over it to rinse it. Stir it around, let it sit a few minutes, stir it around again and then drain it.

1 1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup white vinegar  (I use less – just a good glug from the bottle)
2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
2 tsp sea salt

Add chopped vegetables:

1 large cucumber
3 large plus 1 med. tomato
1 bunch small red onions
1 small white onion
2 bunches parsley

Now, I will confess I cheat a little here and use dehydrated onion and parsley both.  It just makes my life easier. 🙂  I like a lot of tomato and cucumber in mine.  If you see it’s getting too dry as it soaks up the dressing, you can add some water to it.  It shouldn’t be soupy, but it shouldn’t be bone dry either – just lightly moistened.  Best if you let it sit overnight before serving.

Greek Salad

3 tomatoes, chopped
1 or 2 cucumbers, chopped
8 oz feta cheese, crumbled
½ med. red onion, finely chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
black pepper
dash dried oregano
dried basil
green olives

Combine tomatoes, cucumber, cheese and onion in a bowl.  Add olive oil and lemon juice, pepper, oregano, and basil.  Toss in a few olives.  Adjust seasonings to taste.   Easy to double or triple.

Fruit Salad – Just a simple mixture of sliced strawberries, grapes (red and green) cut in half length-wise, pinepple chunks, chopped apples, and mandarin oranges.  You can add a some sugar if needed (a couple of tablespoons or so).  For adults, I like to sprinkle a few chopped pecans in the mix.

Hope this helps to inspire your food ideas for VBS!  🙂


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Er…in my case, rice, rice everywhere and none to cook with!

I learned a valuable food storage lesson recently.  I normally keep a quart jar of long grain white rice in my pantry so there’s not a huge bag open at one time.  I had already put most of the 50 pound bags we’d purchased into mylar and buckets.

Hence, the problem.

When I ran out of rice in the pantry, I quickly realized I had two options:  open a brand new 5o pound bag of rice or break into my long term food storage buckets.

Needless to say, I opened a 50 pound bag and spent the next half hour breaking it down into bags to vacuum seal.  This time, I did smaller bags of 4 to 5 pounds per bag.  Major “duh” moment on my part for not thinking of this sooner.  Since we are using/rotating most of our food storage, it just makes sense to have smaller amounts more accessible.

Lesson learned!

Don’t put all of your food storage into mylar and buckets!  There is such a thing as “long term” food storage, and then food that will be rotated more quickly.   I knew this already, but putting it into practice is another thing entirely.  🙂

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Mix (1) 2 liter bottle or (6) 12 oz. cans of Grape, Orange, or Strawberry Crush (or other brand) and 2 cans of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk in an ice cream freezer.

If the freezer is not full, add some regular milk to the mixture.

(Note:  We like NuGrape best, but it has Red #40 in it, so we haven’t had this in years.  It’s wonderful though!  🙂  )

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If you’re like me, you cringe spending $5 on a bottle of cleaner when you can make something yourself that will work just as well, if not better.

Over the years, I’ve found several things that have saved us some cash, plus kept our house sparkling clean.


A friend found this in an old cookbook, and we couldn’t believe how well it worked!

Mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1 quart of water (I normally use a bowl for this).  Stir well. Use a rag to wash whatever you’re cleaning, then a dry cloth to buff dry.  You will be amazed!


To disinfect and still be able to prounce the ingredients in the cleaner, plain ol’ white vinegar works great.  I keep a spray bottle mixed up at all times with half vinegar/half water.   Works on countertops, mirrors (I prefer the cornstarch method for mirrors, but vinegar will work if you’re in a hurry), stovetops, dining room tables, etc.

I use vinegar and water in a sprayer when mopping my kitchen floors.  I have one of those Swiffer wet jet thingys, but I’m too cheap to buy replacement pads/cleaner for it.  So – I bought some inexpensive jersey material at Wally World and sewed my own pads (which are washable) to mop floors with.  Just spray the floors with the vinegar mixture, then mop clean.  Throw the pad in the wash.  Voila!

Vinegar also works well to take hairspray residue off of lavatory sinks.  Ask me how I know.  😛


My equally frugal mother supplied this tip.

Fill a bowl with water (old whipped topping container works great for this), add some Dawn dishwashing liquid and a healthy splash or two of vinegar.  Stir well.  Soak a rag and wash shower door with mixture, then rinse clean.  I have not found any commercial cleaner that does as well as this!


We bought a power washer a few years ago which has been awesome for cleaning the outside of the house, lawn furniture, and our wooden decks.  However, over time, anything wooden will need something a little extra to power off the crud that has built up on it.  Bleach in a sprayer works great – just spray it on, let it sit for a few minutes, then power wash off.  It leaves the wood looking so much cleaner.  After it dries thoroughly, I normally put another yearly coat of water sealer on the deck.

Hope these tips will save you some money and a trip to the store!  🙂

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