A Quick Tutorial: Salad-in-a-Jar

three canning jars


Several of my Instagram followers have asked me about the photos of I post with food in canning jars.

First, as much as I’d like to claim to be the original “food jar guy”, I’m not.  Hey, honesty is a virtue.  Just being straight up with you, okay?

I also know a good thing when I see it.  So…I want to share some food-in-a-jar ideas with you.

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Produce For Kids and Meijer have Teamed Up Again for Great Meal Ideas

DISCLAIMER:  I was compensated for this post.  However, all opinions are my own.

My good friends at Produce for Kids and Meijer have teamed up once again for some super-great recipes.

If you’re tired of the same old food, week after week, then  you owe it to yourself to check these out!

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Pasta Salad Recipe — with Chicken

pasta salad with chicken

Here’s an Easy Pasta Salad Recipe.  This one with grilled chicken!

This  is one of the College Boy’s favorite foods.  He made a surprise trip home this weekend so we made a batch of Pasta Salad today and sent him back with a big container of it.

This recipe makes several servings of pasta salad.  Since it keeps for a few days in the refrigerator, we make it with an entire box of pasta.  It ALWAYS gets eaten up.  And, the dressing acts as a marinade, so this recipe tastes better the day after you make it.

Let’s get to it!

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CRAFTY DAD TIP :: Preaching the Planning Sermon Again

Organizer - daily planner over white

Today’s Sermon is All About Planning

I’ve been preaching this for a long time:  PLANNING is key to your success.

I tell my kids how important planning is.  I share the concept with my team members at work too.

Simple truth:  Winston Churchill was so right when he said, “He who fails to plan, plans to fail.”

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Making Paleo Food Choices when Dining Out

Paleo Choices when eating out

Choices.  It’s all about choices.

Seriously.  It is.  There are about a million choices you’re faced with every day.  And when it comes to food, sometimes your stomach tries to outsmart your brain.

Don’t let it happen to you!

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Produce for Kids at Meijer — Get Healthy, Give Hope

DISCLAIMER:  I was compensated for the post.  However, the opinions expressed on this post (and every other blog post here on CraftyDad.com) are mine, and not those of anyone else.  Ever.

strawberries on sale


This past weekend, we did some shopping at our local Meijer store.  We were there to pick up a giant, decorated cookie that my wife ordered to celebrate our oldest son graduating from high school.  His commencement was this past Sunday.  His open house is NEXT Sunday.

We had to have SOME way of celebrating, so the decorated cookie was a perfect choice.  Nate and Matt both love those cookies.  :-)

Also on the shopping list was a tablecloth, a casual belt, some cinnamon roles and whatever else might be on sale.  Sound familiar?

Strolling through the produce department (on the way to the bakery to pick up the cookie) we passed a few bargains.

With strawberries at three pounds for $5.00, we couldn’t resist.  So we bought two packages.

One of our favorite ways to enjoy strawberries is to toss them with some sugar and spoon them over slices of pound cake.

Topped off with some whipped cream, they are de-licious!

During our shopping adventure we noticed that Meijer has teamed up with Produce for Kids.

Here’s my youngest son, Matt, next to one of the Get Healthy, Give Hope display.

Matt at Meijer


About Produce for Kids®

Produce for Kids® is a philanthropically based organization that brings the produce industry together to educate consumers about healthy eating with fresh produce and raise funds for local children’s non-profit organizations. Since its creation in 2002 by Shuman Produce Inc., Produce for Kids has raised more than $4.2 million to benefit kids. To learn more about Produce for Kids and healthy eating, visit www.produceforkids.com, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

Raising Money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

The more fresh produce Meijer shoppers add to their shopping lists at local stores, the more hope they can give to local children. All participating fresh fruit and vegetable suppliers at Meijer stores will make a consumption-based donation to local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

To learn more about the campaign, shoppers can visit the Produce for Kids in-store display that features easy-to-prepare recipes, helpful materials with additional information on the campaign and links to visit more than 90 easy Ideal Meals®recipes online. The display also features characters from the popular Sprout® health-focused children’s series LazyTown and The Chica Show, along with tips on healthy eating for kids.


Speaking of recipes, here are some summertime produce-related recipes you might want to try.


Banana FroYo

Banana FroYo

Serves 4
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
  • 2 bananas, peeled, chopped
  • 3 cups lowfat yogurt
  • 1 cup pineapple, cored, chopped
  • ¼ cup caramel dip

1.     Place bananas in freezer bag and freeze overnight.

2.     Blend bananas, yogurt and pineapple in blender until thick and smooth.

3.     Portion and freeze for 25 minutes.

4.     Drizzle with caramel dip and serve.



Smoothie Pops

Smoothie Pops

Serves 16
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
  • 1 large peach or mango, peeled, chopped
  • 1 large nectarine, peeled, chopped
  • 2 medium bananas, peeled, sliced
  • 1 cup strawberries, leaves hulled
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup orange or fruit juice
  • 2 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 16 paper cups

1. Place all smoothie ingredients in a blender and blend until just smooth.

2. Place 16 paper cups on a baking tray.  Pour smoothie into paper cups.  Place tray in freezer and freeze until slushy, about 20 minutes.

3. Remove tray from freezer and insert one popsicle stick into the center of each cup.  Return to freezer and freeze until firm, about 2 hours.

4. Tear away paper cup and place on plate.


Super Green Smoothie

Super Green Smoothies

Serves 4
Preparation Time: 10 Minutes
  • 2 cups 1% milk
  • 1 banana, peeled, cut in half
  • ½ avocado, pitted, peeled
  • 1 cup spinach, gently packed
  • 1 cup green apple, cored, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. ground flax seed
  • 2 Tbsp. honey

1. Blend milk, banana, avocado, spinach, apple, flax seed and honey in blender until smooth.



For those of you unfamiliar with Meijer:

About Meijer

Meijer is a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer that operates 200 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. As a pioneer of the “one-stop shopping” concept, Meijer stores have evolved through the years to include expanded fresh produce and meat departments, as well as pharmacies, comprehensive electronics departments, garden centers and apparel offerings. Additional information on Meijer and the ability to shop for more can be found at www.meijer.com. Follow Meijer on Twitter @twitter.com/Meijer and @twitter.com/MeijerPR or become a fan at www.facebook.com/meijer.

Produce Sponsors

The following companies proudly support the Get Healthy, Give Hope campaign at Meijer locations and your local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals: Bolthouse Farms®; DOLE® Salads; Earthbound Farm® Organic Mixed Baby Kale; Grower Direct® California & Washington Cherries; HMC Farms, Fowler Packing Company, & SunWest Fruit Company – California Peaches, Plums, & Nectarines; T. Marzetti® Company – Marzetti® Refrigerated Salad Dressings; SUNSET® Tomatoes on the Vine; NatureSweet® Glorys™ Perfect Ingredient Tomatoes, Cherubs® Heavenly Salad Tomatoes, & SunBursts™ Sweet Golden Snacking Tomatoes; Potandon Produce – Green Giant® Fresh Klondike Rose® & Red Potatoes; Shuman Produce – RealSweet® Vidalia® Onions; Well•Pict Berries® Strawberries.


Please visit www.ProduceForKids.com for more information.

Busy Days and Nights Call for Make-Ahead Meals

Hotdog stew collage


It’s been a long time since I’ve made hotdog stew.  And while it may not sound very appetizing, it’s really quite tasty.  Matt, my soon-to-be 13 year old loves the stuff.  So tonight, after dinner, I made a big pot of Hotdog Stew.  For tomorrow night’s dinner.

We’ve had a lot going on the past few weeks.  Seems that end of the school year time is ultra-hectic.

Make-ahead dinners are a very good thing.

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Back on the Paleo Plan

paleo breakfast salad

I’m overweight.

There.  I said it.  No sense trying to skirt around the issue.

I’m fifty-one years old.  My thyroid has been broken for many, many years.  (I take medicine, don’t worry.)

I have a beer belly.   But I don’t drink beer. 

The Paleo Plan works for me.  When I follow it.   Pretty much ANY diet (or lifestyle change) works if you follow the rules.  Life is like that too.  It works…when you follow the rules.

But that’s a subject for a whole new post.  For another day, perhaps. J

I’ve done the Paleo thing before and was very successful.  I lost about 35 pounds and felt really, really good.  I was running several days a week, too.  In fact,  I had to buy new pants.  I went down three waist sizes!

And then.  I let life get in the way and I went back to my old (bad) habits.  I ate too much of the wrong things. I became a couch potato.

I’m not looking for sympathy.  Just telling you like it was.

My wife, bless her heart, has been on my butt about my overweight condition.  She says she doesn’t want to be a b—- about it, but she’s concerned.  I love her for that.

Oh, and my dad had quintuple bypass surgery when he was fifty-five.  Uggh.

Last night (at dinner of all places) my oldest son (Nate – 18) starts asking me about the Paleo diet.  I tell him it’s based on the premise that humans were built to eat the same foods that cavemen ate.

The plan allows you to eat lean meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, and fruit (in moderation).  However:  No bread.  No pasta. No rice.  No legumes (beans + peanuts).  No dairy products. No sugar.  No artificial this or artificial that.

Yes, it’s a bit restrictive.  Buy hey!  It works for me.  And that’s a big deal.

Nate remembered that I had great success so he was thinking about jumping on the Paleo bandwagon.

I’m going to share a ride with him. 

Nate and I are officially on the Paleo Plan.  I’ll be documenting our successes and failures here on the blog.

This morning’s BIG breakfast is shown above.  (It’s really enough for two servings.)

Here is what’s in the bowl:

  • About ¼ head of (boring) Iceberg lettuce*torn into pieces
  • ½ a Roma tomato, sliced
  • 1/3 cup of fresh, sliced mushrooms
  • ½ a cucumber, sliced
  • ½ cup of shredded pork roast
  • Coarsely-ground black pepper
  • My homemade oil + vinegar dressing (recipe will be shared soon)

*A head of Iceberg lettuce was all we had in the fridge today.  I try to have Romaine or a spring mix of fresh greens, like this.  I eat a LOT of salads on the plan, so I make them as interesting (and tasty) as possible!

I am really excited that Nate and I are going to be doing this together.  It’s going to be a fun ride!

If you have ANY questions on the Paleo diet, please:  leave a comment or send me an email.  I am not a nutrition expert; HOWEVER, I have been-there-and-done-this.  I will be happy to help you in any way I can.

Stay tuned for recipes, food photos and progress reports.

Low Carb Recipe – Chicken Salad

Here’s a quick and easy recipe to use up left-over chicken breasts.  Whether you cooked extra on purpose, or you have a few left over, here’s a great way to make something tasty.


making chicken salad rt 1


Super Easy Chicken Salad

In a large bowl, combine the following:

  • 4 cooked skinless-boneless chicken breasts (cubed)
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs (diced)
  • 3/4* to 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup diced sweet onion
  • 2 T. dill relish (OR sweet relish)
  • 1 t. celery seed
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

*Start with just 3/4 cup of mayonnaise and add more if you need to.  You want a nice creamy salad.

Mix well and taste-test.


Here’s what you should end up with:


making chicken salad 2 rt


Let me know what you think. We LOVE this stuff.

All by itself with a sprinkle of paprika.

On toast.  Really good with a slice or two of home-grown tomato.

In a salad.

Hey, it’s a multi-purpose recipe.



Let’s Get Caught Up!

Since my last post, which seems eons ago, a lot has happened.  Same for you, huh?  I’m sure!  Life moves along at a high rate of speed.  It’s hard to keep up sometimes.

I won’t bore you with all the details, but I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version of what has gone on in my world.  Then, I’ll let you in on a little secret.  Read on.

Warning!  Long Blog Post Ahead

My wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in June.  We celebrated the day while we were on our family vacation — in Carolina Beach, NC.   It was our third trip to CB in the past four years.  We had a fantastic week of sand, surf and super-good food.  Those North-Carolinians can make some darned-good barbeque.

Our accommodations were less than stellar, but we survived.  (Really: you shouldn’t have to clean a condo before you feel comfortable living in it for a week.  But hey…dirt happens!)  A quick trip to Walmart and the Dollar Store and we were an awesome arsenal of cleaning.

Matt (my youngest son) turned twelve.  His birthday is the same day as our anniversary.  So, while he’s not real keen on celebrating his special day while on vacation, we made the most of it.  We ordered a birthday cake from the Food Lion early in the week and planned to pick it up on Matt’s birthday.  “Everyone should have a birthday cake” is something my wife firmly believes in.  And I totally agree.

This year, on our anniversary and on Matt’s birthday, we took a chartered ocean fishing trip.  We had talked about it in the past, but never did more than that.  The boys love to fish in the lake back home, and they really wanted to get out onto the water and try ocean fishing.  We did our online research a few weeks before vacation and found what seemed to be some good options.

While in CB, we had some free time one late afternoon, so we drove to the area where all the charter boats are docked.  We quickly found the boat that we had seen on the internet.  “Fish Dance” had a nice sound to it and the boat, although not the largest of the group, looked sea-worthy.  As we were looking to find departure times, a pickup truck pulled up beside us.  A middle-aged man asked if we were interesting in a fishing trip.  Indeed we were.

Gone Fishin’

Our departure time was 7AM that Wednesday.  What a way to celebrate an anniversary and birthday.  We had a great time.  It was just the four of us (plus the Captain and the Mate).  We caught over FIFTY fish in less than four hours.  No. Kidding.  And here’s the crazy thing:  we are not fish-eaters.  Seriously!  We like ‘going fishing’ but, honestly, we are the catch-and-release type.   But that day, we made an exception.

My wife and Matt had NO desire to taste fried fish.  Nate and I decided we’d make a go of it.  We had learned that after we returned with our catch, the Mate would clean and fillet all the fish we wanted.  He would bag them up and we could simply walk next door the Harbor Restaurant and they would fry them up for us.  It was after eleven when we got back to the dock, so lunch was a good option.

We took several pictures of the family and all the fish we caught.  It was quite a sight!

The Mate cleaned and filleted about six fish for us.  The other forty-some fish we ‘donated’ to the crew.  They ended up following us over to the restaurant and had a heaping platter full of fish too.  The remaining Spanish mackerel would be used as bait for ‘bigger’ fish.

Fish Anyone?

Nate and I ate lots of fish and French fries and coleslaw.  We found that, even as non-fish people, as long as there was plenty of tartar sauce, you can make it work.  : -)


SPECIAL NOTE:  While we were out on the sea, reeling in fish, I got a phone call from the Food Lion.  The bakery associate told me that the color combination that we ordered was not available.  Huh?  Seriously?  We pulled a cake out the display case and told them we wanted this type of decoration on a round, two-layer white cake.  How difficult could that be?  She gave me some new options and, best as I could hear her, I agreed to the new choices and then went back to fishing.

Later that day we went to pick up the cake.  “Disappointed” took on a whole new meaning that afternoon.  Matt’s cake looked like something you’d find at a baby shower.  It was awful.  Instead of the bright, bold colors of blue and yellow and orange, it was decorated with pale blue, pale yellow and wimpy orange.  Come to find out, the lady who took our cake order was not the regular order-taker and she really botched it up.  Matt was unhappy.   My wife and I were unhappy too.

Matt’s Birthday Cake

The baker-girl said she could offer us a different cake with different.  We jumped at the chance to make this right.  Within a few minutes, we had a cake that (while not perfect) was WAY better than the baby cake.  Way better.

The rest of the week we just took it easy.  We sat on the beach, ate lots of barbeque pork, went miniature golfing, attended on outdoor concert featuring The Mako Band (they are really good!) and got gelato and the famous Britt’s Donuts on the boardwalk.  We had ice cream at Squigley’s.  If you’re ever in the Carolina Beach area, you have to go there.  And of course, ate pizza at Michalengo’s a few times.  We skipped the Fort Fisher aquarium this year and never made one trip into Wilmington, NC, which is just a few miles north.  We had opted for a low-key, relaxing vacation.  And that’s exactly what it was!  We rented beach umbrellas and chairs and camped out on the beach all week. It was heavenly!

A New Driver in the Family

In other family news, Nate is seventeen (I am having trouble believing that myself) and has his driver’s license.  I am having trouble with that too.  He’s a good driver, don’t get me wrong.  It’s all the others on the road that concern me.  You know what I mean?

He took his second required PE class this summer to get it out the way.  He drove to and from class each day.  My wife and I were nervous and made sure he called us when he got to the school and when he got back home.  He got slightly lost one day, and Mrs. Crafty Dad came to his rescue.

The Secret

Okay.  Time for the little secret.  Are you ready?

I’m offering a little window into my personal world today.  [It’s cheap therapy for me, so play along, okay?]  I almost deleted the Crafty Dad blog.  Yep:  the whole thing.

There are times when I felt that I’ve ‘outgrown’ the site and I wondered if a crafty dad is really the example I want my boys to see.  So I pretty much just let it go dormant.  I took a hiatus from blogging that didn’t last very long.  I’ve found that blogging is in my blood.  It’s a BIG part of who I am.  Being a creative type is a big part of me too.  Hell, it’s been a part of me forever.  Since I was a kid I’ve been making stuff.  It’s not something I can just turn ‘off’.

I started a site devoted to personal organization and development.  That didn’t last very long.  This spring, I was selected to give a motivational speech at Matt’s sixth-grade graduation ceremony.  I came across a book (FYI:  I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason) that became the backbone of my presentation.  I gave a copy of the book to all the kids.  That’s how good it is.  I will be posting a review of the book here in a few days; you’ll have a chance to win a copy.

I felt passionate about the book’s content and about helping young people (all people actually) make good choices.  You can check out the blog here.  I’m planning to keep that blog current because I’m still very passionate about helping people make good choices.  The site has received good reviews and I want to keep the momentum going.

There’s Creativity in my DNA

My creative side continues to chase and haunt me.  I feel called to come ‘home’ to the Crafty Dad site and make it more than it ever has been — whatever that means.  I just feel that I need to give this site a solid, intentional, focused effort.

Your turn:  Have you ever felt like you’ve been called to do something?  Like you aren’t complete unless you follow the calling?  Please:  leave a comment below.

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