Monthly Archives: March 2012

Creamy Lemon Mushroom Quinoa

Creamy Lemon Mushroom Quinoa

Looking for another recipe to incorporate the super healthy quinoa in your meal plan? Well, if you have left over mushrooms from making your own Cream of Mushroom Soup and a leftover lemon from the Lemon Rosemary Chicken, you can use them up with this yummy quinoa dish! 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken broth (optional)
  • 2 cups mushrooms sliced
  • 3 T butter
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top

Cook quinoa according to package directions using the broth instead of water.  {If you made broth with the Lemon Rosemary Chicken here’s a great opportunity to use it!} While quinoa is cooking, saute mushrooms in a frying pan with the butter.  Once mushrooms are cooked add the lemon juice and stir for a minute or two.  Add cream and stir together on medium low heat until sauce is reduced by half.  Once quinoa is cooked serve topped with sauce and sprinkle with cheese.  Capers or fresh chopped parsley would be nice garnishes too!

Money Saving Mom is one of my favorite blogs to play around on for practical, money-saving ideas.  She also provides so much encouragement for living with less in a world that tells us we should want MORE.

A few months ago, she published a book of her tips, ideas and stories!  I finally got around to reading it, and was so encouraged!  Not only are there lots of ideas for living on less, and with less, but so many stories from her readers of financial struggles and success!  It was definitely not the typical “how to save money” book…it was so much more!

I encourage ANYONE who loves to save money, dreams of debt free living, or wants to live on less to read it!

AND…she has donated, and continues to donate, all of her profits to Compassion International, an amazing child sponsorship program.

 

 

Being Prepared~ “Emergency” Car Kits for Kids

Being Prepared~ “Emergency” Car Kits for Kids

As our family grew…so did the load I was trying to carry in my diaper bag.  Being out and about with kids requires certain items to keep everyone clean and happy!  This is what we came up with!

We keep large ziplock bags under a seat filled with items we will need in a pinch…I still keep a much more basic stash in my diaper bag or purse.

The “Dirty Baby Bag”

  • diapers and extra undies
  • wipes
  • plastic baggies
  • extra clothes for littles or those who are potty training

The “Snack Bag”

  • a few juice boxes
  • fruit cups
  • granola bars
  • plastic utensils

The “Bored Bag”

  • quiet games
  • coloring books and crayons
  • books


The “Feel Better Bag” 

  • meds for mom and dad
  • meds for kids
  • First Aide
  • thermometer
  • plastic bag

We keep all of our bags in a stow away area in our van.  Whenever we use them…I {try} remember to restock when we get home.

I can’t count the number of times our little bags have saved the day!

 

 

Thursday Thoughts on Anger & Discipline

Thursday Thoughts on Anger & Discipline

 

 

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”  James 1:19-20

 

Hmmmm….  So basically, my anger doesn’t make things right?  Wow.  I really need some self-control, cuz I am NOT slow to anger when I see my children (or anybody for that matter) doing something wrong!  However, the ultimate goal, that they learn what is right and good, is not accomplished through that anger.  This a bit of an eye-opener for me.  My anger seems justified:  there’s something WRONG!  True.  But the anger doesn’t help make things right.

So what should I do?  Oh yeah, that first part:  “be quick to hear” and “slow to speak” stuff.  Yeah, I’m gonna need some help with those!  But what a difference they make. 

 I tried it out yesterday once or twice.  I just literally bit my tongue before correcting some bad behavior.  I took a deep breath and instead of accusing I asked questions and took some time to listen.  I asked some more leading questions and let the child  come to some conclusions on their own about their behavior {a technique I read about in Love & Logic Magic for Early Childhood by Jim Fay & Charles Fay.}

It was much more effective than my usual blow-ups!  Now if I could just remember this!  I might need to cover my house in post-its with this verse as some good visual reminders!  😉

So if you come over and see little fluorescent pink squares covering every vertical surface, you’ll know why!  I’m trying to remember to follow James’ directions to bite my tongue, listen, and not get in a big huff when things aren’t right. 

My much-needed reminders!

 I have a feeling this might be effective advice for more than just dealing with my kids. Do you think we could get someone to sky write it for me?!?!?!

What are your thoughts on these verses?

 

Lemon Rosemary Crockpot Chicken

Lemon Rosemary Crockpot Chicken

Want another EASY chicken recipe?  You got it!  You can even pull a chicken straight out of the freezer and throw it in your slow cooker for this one!  {At least that’s what I did!} 6 hours later… you’ve got a delicious main dish for dinner! The lemon and rosemary give the chicken a wonderful flavor that reminds me of SPRING!

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 2 T rosemary
  • salt

 Slice onion and lemon into rings, and cut celery stalks in half.  Rinse off the chicken, and place in the crockpot.  {If the chicken is thawed out I usually remove most of the skin first, but this time it was frozen so I didn’t.}  Sprinkle with salt.  Arrrange celery around chicken.  Cover the meat with the onion and lemon slices and then sprinkle everything with rosemary.  Cover and cook for 6-7 hours on high {3-4 hrs if chicken was thawed out.}

Before...

 

After!

After you eat remove all the meat you can put the bones and skin back in the crockpot with the cooked lemon, veggies, and drippings and fill up to the top with water.  Cook overnight on the low setting and in the morning strain out the solid stuff and keep the chicken broth.  It’s so savory!  This is a great broth to use for the Rosemary Pumpkin Soup!  I freeze it in quart baggies up to 6 months.  It’s a great way to get more than one meal out of your chicken!

 Enjoy your Spring Chicken!!!!

 

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Tuesday Tutorial: How to Make Applesauce!

Tuesday Tutorial: How to Make Applesauce!

Ever have a bunch of apples that are getting a little too soft to eat? {Maybe it’s just me, but I HATE biting into a mealy  mushy apple!}  Don’t through them out though!  Make your own applesauce!  In the fall we picked a bunch of apples from our neighbor’s trees {with their permission, of course!}  Even though they lasted quite a while in cold storage, they were getting to that point where we needed to use them up! 

So here’s what we did!

1.  Wash apples thoroughly.

 

2.  Cut up apples.  (You can leave the core and just quarter them, or use a handy-dandy corer-slicer.) If your apples were hand-picked cut out any wormy  or yucky parts.

3.  Pour a little water to a big stock pot (enough for to cover the bottom of the pan with an inch of water) and add the apple slices.  Cook apples on medium heat until very soft.  Keep an eye on it and stir often.  A little burnt applesauce will ruin the whole batch.  {And, yes, I know that by experience!}

4.  Run cooked apples through a foley mill to separate skins and any stray seeds.  Taste your applesauce and add sweetener and/or cinnamon if you like.  If it’s too thick just add a little water.  Store the applesauce in freezer bags or jars!  {We also use empty yogurt containers if we’re going to freeze the applesauce, but be sure you don’t over fill them…and yes, I know this by experience too!}  If you want to can your applesauce to store long-term follow these instructions for a hot water bath canning for about 25 minutes (depending on your altitude.)

**If you don’t have a foley mill another way to make applesauce is to peel and core your apples to remove all the skin and seeds before you cook them.  Cook the fruit down with a little water and you have chunky applesauce.  If you want really smooth sauce run the batch through a blender! 

The nice thing about applesauce is that you can do a batch of any size!  If you just have a few apples, you may have enough sauce for lunch!  If you have crates of apples like we did, you can make a lot to freeze or can and not worry about wasting all that good fruit! 

Cinnamon Applesauce!

 
 Use your homemade applesauce as an oil substitute in baking for lighter/healthier recipes too!

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup!!

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup!!

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup!!

Make a BIG batch, freeze, and use in all the great dishes that call for it…and it has less preservatives and is so much more flavorful!!

You’ll need…(this makes 10 {3} cup servings which is equal to 2 cans…for a total equivalent of 20 cans)

12 c. beef stock (I make my own whenever I cook large roasts)

12 c milk

9 cups flour

seasonings (salt, pepper, parsley, oregeno…anything that you and yours enjoy)

chopped mushrooms

Then…

Add seasonings and mushrooms to stock and bring to boil.

Mix flour and milk together is mixer with whip attachment and mix til smooth

Whisk flour/milk mixture into boiling stock

Whisking constantly… cook until thick.

Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Pour into small plastic containers or into freezer safe bags.

I store in 3 cup increments, which is equal to 2 cans.

Put them in the freezer, and you have delicious, homemade soup ready to go!  PERFECT for so many recipes!!

My experience has been that it has a freezer life of 6 months in a regular freezer or up to a year in a deep freeze.

You can also do this with chicken stock and omit the mushrooms for cream of chicken soup!

 

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Menu Monday

Menu Monday

Monday morning is here again.  So here’s some meal plan ideas!

Breakfasts

 

Lunches

 

Dinners

  • Crockpot Chicken & Peas
  • Crockpot Chicken Enchiladas and Mexican Rice
  • Dinner @ church (We bring sandwiches!)
  • Creamy Lemon Mushroom Quinoa
  • Homemade Pizzas {pepperoni for the kids, Alfredo sauce with green olives–weird but delicious combo–for hubby and me!}
  • Grilled Steaks, Green Beans, and Baked Potatoes
  • Eating Out!

    Lemon Mushroom Quinoa

 

Baking/Cooking Projects for the week

What’s for dinner in your house this week?

 
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Alphabet Fun! Help Kids Learn Letters!

Alphabet Fun! Help Kids Learn Letters!

We hear it all the time:  kids are like sponges.  They seem to absorb knowledge from their surroundings.  I think that young children learn best from playing too.  So here’s some fun ways you can help your little ones learn the letters of the alphabet.  My youngest isn’t even 2 years old yet and he knows a couple…that’s how easy it can be!  Surround kids with letters and let them soak them up! 

Learning Time!

  • Bathtub Letters:  For less than $10 you can buy a set of foam bathtub letters.  While kids are washing up let them play and make alphabet soup!  They get clean and learn at the same time! (This is how my oldest really learned his letters!)
  • Bathtub crayons or foam soap:  write your child’s name with bathtub crayons/soap.  These are usually the easiest/first letters they’ll recognize.
  • Play patty-cake:  use the first letter of your child’s name for the last line:  “And make it with a __ for {child’s name} and me!”  So simple, yet still exposing them to letters!
  • Salt trays:  Take a cookie sheet and sprinkle salt on it.  Help your little one use their finger to write a letter or even their whole name.  Even if they’re really young this can be a great tactile activity.
  • Shaving cream:  If you don’t want a big mess put a little shaving cream in a large plastic baggie (with a touch of paint if you want color) and seal it closed.  Let your child mix it up and then lay it on the table  and they can write letters and designs on the bag.
  • Finger paint:  There are so many ideas for finger paints to practice letters–shaving cream, pudding, honey, or you can make your own finger paints with water, cornstarch, and food coloring!  Use a cookie sheet again or right on the table if you don’t mind a little mess! Paper plates are another easy clean up alternative to use with finger paints.
  • Dough:  with playdough or cookie dough roll out a couple long sections and make a letter or two.  You can even make different edible doughs using things like peanut butter and powdered milk if you’re worried about really little kiddos eating it! Or make cut out cookies with letter-shaped cookie cutters! Yumm!
  • Letter Look-out: while driving in the car or out on a walk go on a letter look out where you hunt down the alphabet using the letters in signs and license plates around you. 
  • Refrigerator Magnets:  you know those little magnet letters for the fridge…well break out the trusty cookie sheet again, {who knew they had so many uses!} and your kids have their own magnet board and lots of fun with letters!  If you’re really creative you could even make your own letter magnets with sticker magnet sheets and printed off letters. Just stick the paper letters to the magnet sheet, cut them out and viola! {hmmm….maybe future post here!}  😉
  • Sing:  there’s more than just the ABC song we all learned.  You can sing the Banana-Nana Fo-fana song and expose your kids to letter sounds changing the common words/names they know.  Songs like Bingo  help reinforce letters too!  {And kids don’t know if you’re tone-deaf or not, so belt it out and have fun!}
  • DVD’s:  One of our favorite DVD’s that helped all my kids learn their letters and sounds is the Leap Frog Letter Factory.  Just half and hour but they go through all 26 letters and sounds and has a catchy tune to help learn.
  • Games: If your kids are into computer games try starfall.com, pbskids.org, or sesamestreet.org for lots of fun educational games.  Starfall is a free website and even used by some kindergartens as part of their curriculum.  Look for board games too that help reinforce reading skills.
  • Puzzles:  use alphabet puzzles for your preschooler or word-finds for your elementary school aged kids.
  • Doodle:  let your child doodle with washable markers and crayons and show them how to write their name. Beware: you may have to repeat this a lot!  My youngest is in the do-it-again phase and want’s me to fill his paper with T’s, the first letter in his name. But let me tell ya, he recognizes the letter “T” where ever he sees it now!
  • And no brainer but still must be listed: READ!  Whether you read at bedtime, naptime, during snack, first thing in the morning…at some time during your busy day take a little time to read to your child/children.  There’s usually free library story times in public libraries too.  Let your kids see youreading.  Order a kids magazine or something you can read together.  The time together is precious and helping them develop reading skills as well as a stronger bond with you.

    Cuddle up with a good book!

 

There’s something in this list for babies on up to school-aged children.  Try a variety of ideas to help them learn with all their senses.  The more exposure, the better they learn!  But don’t push… make sure that this is play, that it’s FUN and your little sponges will soak it all in! 

 

Thursday’s Thoughts: Perfection vs Excellence

Thursday’s Thoughts: Perfection vs Excellence

How good is good enough?  I often wonder.  As a mother and homekeeper it never feels like “enough.” 

It’s not like a paid job where there are evaluations and compensation for the work I do. No pay raises or bonuses.

It’s not like school where I knew exactly what grade I received for my work.  100% was perfect, less than 65% was failure.  As much as I would hate to have someone grading my mothering and housekeeping skills, sometimes I think, “At least I would know how I’m doing!” 

Those rare times when I feel like I’m really making progress in one area, I look around and feel like I’m failing somewhere else.  There’s always so much more to do! 

And I know it’s completely counter-productive to compare myself with other moms/homekeepers.  {And knowing that doesn’t always mean that I follow the wisdom!  I still fall into the trap of comparing sometimes.}   We’re all created with such a variety of skills and gifts.  How can there be any fair comparison?  There isn’t.

So how do I know that I’m doing a good enough job?  I don’t. 

I’m of the opinion that God is the only perfect being.  I do not even come close.  So what do I strive for? 

Today I look at what Paul says in the book of Titus.  He encourages older women to “train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”  (Titus 2: 4-5)

I find a lot of encouragement in all the “be’s” I see in that passage.  It wasn’t a list of “do’s”.  “Be self-controlled”, “be busy,”  “be kind,” “be subject.” And the first thing listed:  love.  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:1 that love is the most excellent way to utilize our gifts.  And as wives and moms we’re called to love our husbands and children.  I can do that! 

No, I’m not a perfect housekeeper.  I wouldn’t even consider myself a good one.  But I do love my hubby and kids.  I am busy at home.  I am working hard at being more self-controlled and kind.  I have a very loving and kind husband I give respect to as the head of our family. 

So I won’t strive to be perfect.  I’ll strive for excellence and receive the grace I need for where I fall short!