Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Grandma Compton's Chocolate Chip Cookies

I must confess that when it comes to chocolate chip cookies I am a fan of the recipe on the back of the NestlĂ©'s Toll House Chocolate Chips.  One problem for this family is that it uses butter.  This chocolate chip cookie recipe was requested by my sister's sweet friend who found our her precious little lady is allergic to milk, soy and corn.  This nursing mama told me yesterday that she hasn't had a cookie or anything sweet in over two months!  Ahh!  I told her I would type out a couple of recipes to get her some sweet relief!  The recipe comes from my mother's grandmother.  To make these dairy-soy-corn free I recommend using Palm Shortening and Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips!

Grandma Compton's Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 C brown sugar
1/2 C white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 C palm shortening
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Cream together the first 4 ingredients.  Mix in the remaining ingredients (make sure the chocolate chips last!) Bake for 8-10 minutes (don't over bake!) on an ungreased cookie sheet.
If I am not feeling particularly ambitious I will put all the dough into a 9x13 pan and just cookie bars!

A bonus cookie bar recipe from Large Family Logistics.  She says to use olive oil if you are dairy free.  I use have liquid oil and half palm shortening. 

Palm Shortening on Amazon

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Freezer Meals

When I reached about 32 weeks in this pregnancy I hit a wall physically.  I remember hitting the wall with my forth pregnancy as well.  I knew the instructions from the midwife at my next appointment would be to go home and sit. 
I don't really have a "sit" still kind of a job so I panicked a little when I felt myself reaching my limit.  How am I going to get the "extra" accomplished in the upcoming weeks if I can't even getting the normal things done?  There is so much I want to do between now and baby day.  BUT I have been learning lately that God will provide for what He truly wants me to do.  These are a series of both hard lessons and at the same time liberating ones as well.
I was resting last week scrolling through Pinterest when I came across this pin boasting 40 crockpot freezer meals in just 4 hours.  I was inspired.  Most of the recipes were both real food and dairy-free, and when I checked the paper the next day chicken, pork and beef were all on sale.  I had to try. 

I did NOT make 40 meals in 4 hours.  I took 3 afternoons and made 24 meals.  I may not be as amazing as the original blogger, but my freezer is stocked with main dishes both for pre-baby and post!  I mentioned it on Facebook and people asked for the recipes.  I thought I would share them and what I learned!

Why I didn't get it done in 4 hours: 
  • My goal was to do as much from a barstool as possible.  I can no longer stand for long periods of time. 
  • I involved the kiddos a lot too.  (No explanation needed on how much that slows a person down!)  They had a blast and it allowed me to stay on my stool, but it was slow going. 
  • I cut my own stew beef out of the roast that was on sale.  It would have been so much faster to buy stew beef, but I saved between $10-15 dollars buying the roast on sale and the stew beef that I buy is too big for my little people to chew and so in the end I am going to cut for them anyway. 
  • I don't love chicken thighs.  On some of the recipes I used drumsticks instead.  (For some reason my kids get a kick out of eating drumsticks.)  I completely forgot that these are not skinless.  It makes a huge mess at the dinner table pulling saucy skin off chicken so the kids can eat it.  I pulled the skins off before I threw them in the sauces. 
My tips and tricks:
  • I saved time by buying frozen chopped onion.  (We aren't huge onion fans but so I added what I thought we could handle.)  I also used frozen chopped pepper from our summer garden. 
  • I kept hand sanitizer and a bowl of water and vinegar on the counter to put my knives in when I would break from cutting meat.  I cut a lot of meat and there were many interruptions from little people.  I get nervous around raw meat so for peace of mind about germs and bacteria I tried to be prepared. 
  • I had used some bargain storage bags and some name brand.  I highly recommend name brand; there is a difference!  (As the bag that is ducted taped together in my freezer can attest.)
  • I cut the roast into two or three large pieces so that they thaw more quickly.  I have learned to get a tender roast DO NOT cook the meat frozen. 
  • There was a lot of garlic being peeled-heads and heads of garlic.  The kids helped with some of that, but part way through I thought about how easy it would have been to buy the jar of peeled garlic. 
Meals I made:
  • Apple Barbeque Chicken
  • Maple Dijon Chicken
  • Island Chicken
  • Mongolian Beef
  • Chicken Cacciatore
  • Steak Fajitas
  • Balsamic Glazed Drumsticks
  • Orange Chicken
  • Honey Garlic Chicken
  • Rosemary-Balsamic Pork Roast
  • Cowboy Chili
  • Red Wine and Cranberry Beef Roast
  • Beef Stew
The first 9 are new recipes.  (A couple of them I personally didn't double, just in case we didn't like them!)  The last 4 are tried and true family favorites.   Because I cook a little like my mom I didn't follow each recipe exactly.  Here are all 13 recipes sans the Beef stew (I don't follow a recipe for that one, sorry!) 

If you double the following recipes you will need:
  • 17 whole chicken breasts (BUT when the recipe calls for 4 chicken breast it is technically referring to 4 halves.)
  • 32 drumsticks
  • 2-3lb pork roasts
  • 2-2 lbs beef steaks
  • 6 lbs beef roasts

Apple Barbeque Chicken

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 t ground pepper
  • 1 large apple cut into chunks
  • 2/3 cup BBQ sauce 
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 t chili powder

  1. Spray Crockpot with non-stick cooking spray
  2. Place chicken breasts on bottom.
  3. Mix all remaining ingredients together, and pour over chicken.
  4. Cook 6-8 hours on low setting.

Crock Pot Maple Dijon Chicken
  • 3 Chicken breasts
  • 1/2 C Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 C Maple Syrup
  • 1 T Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 onion sliced
  1. Spray crock pot with non-stick cooking spray
  2. Place chicken in crock pot
  3. Mix together mustard, syrup, vinegar and pour over chicken
  4. Top with sliced onion (mushrooms if you’d like)
  5. Cook on low for 6 hours

Island Chicken

  • 4 skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 T of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon
  • 3 cloves of garlic diced
  • 2 t of dried oregano
  • 2½ t of soy sauce
  • 1/2 c of olive oil
  • 1/2 c of chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Mix all the ingredients, and marinade overnight.
  2. Pour the marinade chicken and ingredients into the crock pot, add the chicken stock and cook on high for 4-5 hours

Easy Crockpot Mongolian Beef

  • 1 ½ lb. stew meat
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, thickly sliced
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh minced ginger

  1. Freezer directions- dump all ingredients into a labeled freezer bag, seal, mix up, freeze flat.
  2. When you're ready to cook- take the bag out of the freezer the night before and let it defrost in the fridge. The next morning dump the bag into the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. If you're going to be longer just add a bit more water so it doesn't dry out. Serve with fresh slice green onions and rice.

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

  • 3 chicken breast
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth, more if needed*
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper

  1. Cook on low for 6 hours. (In the last hour add the mushrooms if you’d like)
  2. Serve over whole wheat pasta. (Approximately 6 coups)
  3. If cooking from frozen, then it should take 8 hours on low in the crock pot.

*Depending on your crock pot you may need to add more liquid.

Crock-pot Fajitas

  • 1 large onion cut into 1/2 in strips
  • 1 green bell pepper cut into 1/2 in strips
  • 1 red bell pepper cut into 1/2 in strips
  • 2 lbs boneless steaks strips (not too thin)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar 
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

  1. Place onion and pepper strips in bottom of crock-pot. Place meat on top.
  2. Mix water, vinegar, lemon juice, and spices and pour over meat/pepper mixture.
  3. Cook covered on low for 6-8 hours
  4. Place on warmed tortilla, top with lettuce and cheese. You could also top with sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, or cilantro. Serve with brown rice and enjoy!

Crockpot Balsamic Glazed Drumsticks

  • 8 chicken drumsticks
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey

  1. Put all ingredients into a ziploc bag and you can either freeze for a make ahead meal or let marinade overnight
  2. The next morning just dump it all in the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Crock Pot Orange Chicken

  • 1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast (cut into bite size pieces)
  • 3 T Coconut oil
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp lemon peel
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 3 T Soy Sauce
  • Chopped nuts

  1. Spray Crock Pot with cooking spray
  2. Place cut chicken into crock pot
  3. Mix the rest of the ingredients together except for peanuts and pour over chicken
  4. Cook for 4-6 hours on low
  5. Serve with Stir Fried Veggies and rice.  Top with chopped nuts

Crock-pot Honey Garlic Chicken
  • 8 chicken drumsticks
  • 5 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup bbq sauce
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • salt and pepper

  1. Place Chicken in crock-pot.
  2. Mix spices, soy sauce, ketchup, bbq sauce, and honey. Pour over chicken.
  3. Cook on low 6 hours.

Rosemary-Balsamic Pork Tenderloin Roast
  • 3 pounds pork tenderloin roast
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoon crushed rosemary
  • 2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 2 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil

  1. Combine the garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. 
  2. Marinate the pork in the refrigerator for 4-10 hours.
  3. Cook on low for 7-9 hours.

Cowboy Chili
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup dried parsley leaves
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ pound beef stew meat
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 2 cups kidney beans
  • 1 cup baked beans
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) salsa
  • 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce

Combine and cook on low for 4-6 hours. 

Red Wine and Cranberry Roast

  • 1 1/2 lbs of Beef roast
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • 1 T dried onion flakes
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup wine
  • 1 T gluten free Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T gluten free soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 T maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

  1. Combine the dry ingredients and rub the mixture all over your piece of meat.
  2. Place the roast in the bag with the wet ingredients and dried cranberries and freeze.
  3. Cook the thawed roast on low for 8-10 hours.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Quick Kidsave Update!

What an abundant few months we have had as a family! A crazy summer and now we are a couple months into school already!  It has been refreshing for all of us to get back into the routine of school and to spend weekends playing soccer and working around the house. 
Kidsave was a blessing for our family, but it made for a very busy summer.  We packed all of our normal activities in before Kevin came and our time with Kevin was busy as well.  (Pregnancy thrown in there made me slower and I think made me feel like I had more on my plate as well!)  It was well worth it though. 
I am happy to report that a family is pursuing Kevin's adoption!  We are so excited for him and this precious family.  I am also excited that as I have talked with other host families about the 7 other kids that came to Iowa this summer, we think that letter's of intent have been filed for 5 of them.  Isn't that wonderful?   In the mean time I will keep praying for the two girls that I know still need a home.  I remember them so specifically in the airport leaving and wondering about the trajectory of their life and where they go if they don't find a family.
People have asked us about our experience with Kidsave and if we will host again.  We know that with the arrival of baby 5 in 2014 that we will not be hosting this summer.  Our kids are disappointed, but we will find ways to support the host families and be involved.  I hope we can host again someday.  My husband was just talking yesterday about hosting a sibling set sometime. 
Our eyes have been opened to the great need that there is for children without families, and we are challenged to find ways to support and assist them.  Just Saturday I was driving down the street passing store after store, thinking about how we as Americans have so, SO much.  The majority of our worries are not about daily provisions like so many others around the world.  How can I live on less so that others can have more?  Then, because I am such a fickle human I was talking to my husband about new flooring in our house.  It will be a constant battle to keep the needs of others in the front of my mind for sure. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

The week in a whirlwind!

I have been very negligent in updating the blog lately.  It has been crazy around here to say the least.  I have heard that the last week to week and a half of Kidsave is intense so life isn't about to go any slower! 
It is hard for me to even remember back to what all we have done!  Going back to where I left off blogging...it was our small group's turn to clean the church two Fridays ago.  Kevin pitched in and vacuumed without being asked.  I have been so impressed by his initiative.  Afterward all the boys and men played a game of American football.  Kevin ate that up! 
The following Saturday was our chocolate making morning at Chocolaterie Stam.  We have hosted internationals in the past, and one complaint about our food was that it is "too sweet."  Kevin does NOT have that complaint.  He put down his share of treats that morning.  I kept trying to cut him off, and he kept finding new sources of sweets.  YIKES!  That night we joined my husband's brother's family who were camping at Red Rock.  (Kudos to them for letting us crash their party.  Not everyone has enough food for 7 extra eaters!)  We failed miserably at translating this new camping subculture, however he had a great time playing games with the other kids at the site. There was a sweet little 6 year old there who fell in love with Kevin.  He has been great at playing with little kids.
Sunday we took Kevin to the zoo.  This was the first time he had been.  He said that his favorite animal was the lion, but we loved watching him in the Outback Adventure.  The animals run loose as people walk through the exhibit.  When the wallaby jumped passed him his face light up, and he shouted "Kangaroo!" 
I needed to rest on Monday, and I think that Kevin needed to as well.  He spent the day drawing, drawing and drawing some more!  The other kids played outside quite a bit, but I don't think that he enjoys our heat and humidity.
Tuesday we met some of our friends and a couple of his Colombian friends as the park.  I really enjoy watching him interact with his friends.  I can't imagine how lonely I would feel if I lived with a family whose English is as limited as my Spanish is! 
Wednesday was art lesson time again, and Adam humored them all with a giant water fight to finish off the afternoon.  What a blessing he is!
Thursday was Kevin's dentist appointment.  He had a cavity.  True to his personality though he never complained about pain the rest of the day.  I gave him some Tylenol just because I was convinced that if he was in pain he probably was not going to tell me!
Friday afternoon we got to take Kevin to Jordan's parents dairy farm.  Jordan learned something new: driving does not come natural to someone who has lived life with all public transportation.  Jordan has been driving tractor since he could see over the steering wheel and figured that steering left or right and correcting just came naturally.  It does not.  Kevin did much better driving the 4 wheeler!  Jordan's mom also had leather crafts left over from Bible school.  Once we got him off the 4 wheeler he really enjoyed that too!
Saturday was our 3rd Kidsave event.  It was too hot for the Colombians.  At one point I looked out and all the dads and American kids were melting as they played kickball while our (smarter) Colombian friends were sitting in the shade with water bottles. 
Yesterday was a little more low keyed.  He got to meet my sister and brother-in-law.  We ordered pizza, and the kids sat in the kitchen with the boxes of pizza.  He helped himself to a lot of pizza.  This was notable only because he doesn't often help himself, but waits for food to be offered to him.  We adults ate in the living room and evidently he felt more comfortable to eat up!
Today we went bowling with our neighbors.  I don't see professional bowling in his future, but we all had a great time!
Wow, after reading through the last week and a half I know why I am so tired.  If there are many typos in this post it is because I need a nap!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Works of Art

He is so focused when he works! I am sure Adam found that refreshing.  His younger students have the attention span of a gnat!
Art lessons had to get juggled around a bit this week, but today was finally the day!  I was really looking forward to it since Kevin has had such an interest in art since he came here.  This summer Adam, a foreign exchange student from China, has come to our home and taught lessons to my older two right at our kitchen table (or on our porch!)  It has been a great blessing. 
I was curious to see if language would be a barrier, and I think that Adam was curious too.  We both  figured that art was a universal language, and they would be fine.  They were.  Adam would demonstrate, and Kevin was quick to catch on.  Take a look at Kevin's fine work!

Kevin's drawing of a leaf.

  Kevin's work on colors and shading.

   After lessons I asked Adam play piano for Kevin.  (Adam is a wonderful pianist.)  Then I twisted Kevin's arm into playing for Adam.  Adam was sweet enough to volunteer coming back for a few piano lessons in the next few weeks that Kevin is  here.  Everyone is excited about that!

Kevin is talking a little more each day.  He even asked me for a muffin today!  Like so many kids I have to push the veggies with him, but I am amazed that he has eaten everything I put on his plate, minus the green beans today.  To his credit he tried one-I held the grapes captive until he did!  I think that he tried peaches for the first time.  He liked those.  He helped flip tortillas last night for our burritos.  He was much more reliable to flip them before they burnt than the 8 year old volunteer.  They made a good team though!

Our next Kidsave event tomorrow-chocolate making at Chocolaterie Stam!  I am looking forward to that!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Living History Farms

We decided to take Kevin to Living History Farms today.  It seemed like a good idea for two reasons:
  1. Today was the coolest day in the 10 day forecast.  We can save the Science Center for a day we need the AC.
  2. The Summer Miracles chaperone is also staying with us and could help me translate the historical farms and village.  I figured that that there might be a few things that would be difficult to understand since he was looking at the history of a culture that is foreign to him! 
We went to the farms first.  I thought that would be a bigger hit for Kevin than the town.  I was right.  The hike was beautiful, and large farm animals are fun to see no matter what language you speak! 
The sheep on the 1800s farm

Petting horses on the 1900s farm

It is a little nuts, but it is so good!

Life is good, and I am hesitant to write this post because I don't want anyone to get the picture that it isn't.   That said I had a moment tonight when all the craziness hit me at once, and I laughed so hard that I nearly cried.  I am not sure that the incident was all that hilarious, but in the context of it all it hit me as such.   (I really don't want to sound negative, so please read all the way to the end!)
When we decided that we were going to host this summer I imagined this wonderful month where I would be a perfect hostess and give this kiddo the best American experience there was to give!  We would all learn Spanish, and who ever was lucky enough to come to our house would feel like he was on the set of "Leave it to Beaver."  (In my mind I might have even worn an apron and heels.)  It was going to be awesome. 
REALITY: there have been a few things that have come up since we decided to host that could have happened at a better time.  That's life; we roll with it. My health hasn't been great these last few weeks so I don't feel very "June Cleaver."  The dryer setting that I usually use won't shut off automatically so I have to watch it.  I wake up in the middle of the night in a panic because I can't remember if I left it running when I went to sleep. The washing machine is now making funny noises, and few weeks ago the basement flooded. 
Our basement really wasn't finished, but we had our TV down there and large carpet remnants.  We made the space functional.  As a result of the flood we lost all the carpet in the basement, and with it the useable space.  Kevin's room was the Lego room, but we removed the Legos.  They were supposed to go downstairs, but now are on the main floor. Our ping pong table folded up and has remained trapped in the corner.  Our TV was moved up to the family room which isn't terrible, but something about the router and the way the internet is hooked up to the TV -if someone turns on the TV no one can be on the internet.  It is kind of annoying.
As part of being a host for Kidsave the families take turns hosting the Summer Miracles chaperone as well.  Yesterday morning I picked up the chaperone, and she will be with us until Saturday.  She is very friendly and has been helpful, but we are just running out of space!  We had already given the guest room to Kevin and the basement pull-out is not place for anyone right now.  We gave her our girls' room, and the girls are sleeping my closet.  (Don't worry, it is big.  They are fine.)  I texted Jordan last night to ask him if he remembered I was hosting a couple of ladies for Bible study at 8:00 that evening.  He replied with something along the lines of "That's fine, but you have to meet outside, because every other room in our house is full of people."  (I ended up canceling anyway, because I just needed some down time!)
The chaperone spends a lot of time at night on the internet working and Skyping which is fine, but we can't turn on the tv to watch a show, dvd or the news because we kick her off the internet.  Honestly, it's a good excuse to go to sleep early, but it just adds to the craziness right now.
Then tonight I was tucking my little girl into her "nest" on the floor of my closet, and she wrinkled her eyebrows and said, "Mom, this blanket dad gave me sure feels like a table cloth!"  Sure enough running low on blankets last night Daddy had grabbed a table cloth, and that was her blanket.  (I found a large bed sheet and folded it up for her instead.  It is softer!)
That's when I lost it.  It was just too funny. I had wanted to be the best host and wanted to give this kid the world in a month and really we have just invited him into a whole lot of our chaos!  We are sleep on the floor with table cloths for crying out loud, but I laughed because that's ok. 
God is teaching me that I don't have to wait for the perfect time to serve Him.  When he calls and we obey, He will make a way.  So, so, so  many people have stepped in to help us.  In big ways and small ways.  Faithful friends and neighbors who let me know that they are headed to the grocery store and can pick up milk right when I realize we've run out.  A text that they are going to the park and can take a few extra little people.  This morning I woke up to an email from a new friend asking if she could bring all the sides for supper tonight.  The cool part was I had the frozen hamballs; God completely took care of the whole meal for me so that I could spend the day taking the kids on a field trip.  It is a little nuts right now, but it is so good too.  Despite the inconveniences and my inadequacies God is showing me who He is.  He is good.