Sunday, January 27, 2013

Menu Plan 1/28-2/1

We have been picking up speed as a family the last couple of weeks, and our lazy winter days are officially done.  Enrichment classes resume and it looks like a few things our social calendar are about to collide!  It is a good thing that buns are quick and easy to make because we are eating a few sandwiches this week!  I not only wrote out our meals but also a prep list for each day.  My goal is to go on autopilot this week! 

B-Freezer Pancakes
L-Stir fry from frozen veggies, brown rice and leftover shredded pork
S-Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet and roasted broccoli and corn

B-Oatmeal and Eggs
L-Pasta and Sauce with peas and carrots
S-Ham Sandwiches and raw veggies and dip

B-Breakfast Cookies
L-Fish sticks and peas and sweet potatoes
S-BBQ Beef Sandwiches, green beans

B-Pumpkin Bread and Eggs
L-Taco Corn Fritters (from the freezer) raw veggies
S-Beef and Noodles and Mixed veggies

L-Amish lunch

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My Humble Home Spotlight!

I am the oldest of the three girls.  We each have our strengths.  If you want to know how to substitute ingredients in a recipe or where to buy the cheapest chicken,  I am your girl.  Decorating...not so much!  My two sisters a much MUCH better at that, but we have been making some updates to our home that my sister is highlighting today in her series My Humble Home.  What an honor!  Be sure to stop by MyAubservations for a quick tour!

Monday, January 14, 2013

4 Dairy Free Casseroles (3 Gluten Free too!)

We do not eat casseroles around here very often.  Our meals are mostly a separate meat, veggie and carb.  Since many in our family are on a dairy free diet it hardly seems worth it to try to make my own condensed soups to make casseroles healthy.   There are a few dairy free casseroles that have made it into our family’s meal rotation.   If you are formerly a tator tot casserole mom who now finds herself dairy free, these 4 casseroles are my gift to you! (3 of these are gluten free if that applies to you!)
Chicken and Rice Casserole
·         2 cups cooked brown rice
·         2 cups cooked chicken
·         2 tablespoons healthy oil
·         2 tablespoons water
·         3-4 tablespoons wheat flour
·         1/4 teaspoon each of salt, thyme, garlic powder and onion powder
·         2 cups chicken broth
·         1 ½ cup frozen peas and carrots
·         ¼ seasoned breadcrumbs


In a large skillet bring 2 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp water to a light simmer.  Add flour slowly and blend until smooth.  Add thyme, onion powder, garlic powder and salt.  Slowly add 2 cups of broth and continue blend until it’s a smooth consistency.  Add cooked chicken and stir.  Lightly grease a casserole dish and layer rice in the bottom of a grease baking dish.  Layer peas and carrots onto rice.  Carefully pour chicken mixture over vegetables.  Dust bread crumbs over the casserole.  Bake in a 400°F oven for 25 to 35 minutes.
NOTES:  You can switch out the veggies to suit the tastes of your family.  I am sure that a bag of mixed vegetables would work or broccoli!  We usually have this for supper one night, and the next day I add broth and make it into chicken and rice soup for lunch!  The family doesn’t even think of it as leftovers!  I have doubled the recipe and frozen half with great success.
·         2 lbs ground beef
·         ¼- ½ cup chopped onion
·         6 medium potatoes (sliced)
·         1 large can pork and beans
·         1 can tomato sauce
·         Salt and pepper to taste
Layer in order and bake covered at 350 for 3 hours. 
NOTES: This was a recipe that my husband ate often growing up.  When I came into the family I thought that it was very strange.  I was surprised to find that I do like it!  Plus it is a great dish to mix up before church and stick in the oven.  We come home and lunch is ready in minutes of walking in the door!  You can easily cut this recipe in half for a smaller family.  Our family is right in between the 1 and 2 pounds of ground beef mark now, but with our growing boys it won’t be long until we will always need the full two pounds!  I like to make my own baked beans to save the family a little money and a lot of sugar!  Sometimes I will brown the beef and the onion before I cook this casserole.  I like to drain the grease before I bake it, and I like the texture of the beef to be a bit more crumbly!  It shortens the cooking time quite a bit. 
Hearty Bean Bake
·         1 lb ground beef
·         6 strips of bacon (chopped)
·         ¼ cup onion, chopped
·         3 lb can baked beans
·         1 (14oz) can red beans, drained and rinsed
·         1 (14 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
·         1 (14 oz) can crushed tomatoes
·         1/3 cup honey
·         2 Tbs brown mustard
·         1 tsp vinegar
·         1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
·         ½ tsp each of salt and pepper
Brown the ground beef with the bacon and onion until the beef is crumbly; drain.  Combine the ground beef mixture with all the remaining ingredients and mix well.   Cook in the crock pot on low for 3 hours on in a covered baking pan in the oven at 350 for 1 hour.  Serves 8-10. 
NOTES: I found this recipe in Oakwood Road cook book, but it was A LOT sweeter and spicier.  These ingredients are how I serve it to our family.  They LOVE it.  The leftovers can be frozen in a small baking dish.  For a fun twist the next time you eat it, thaw in the fridge and pour a corn bread mixture over the top.  Bake until the cornbread is ready and eat!  I make my own baked, red and black beans making this meal both packed with protein and cheap, Cheap, CHEAP! 
Taco Casserole
·         1 lb ground beef-browned
·         1 small bag shredded potatoes (Or make your own!)
·         2-3 tablespoons taco seasoning (The homemade shredded potatoes might seem intense but making your own taco seasoning is super easy! Try it.)
·         1 can (1 3/4 cup) tomato sauce (Check the fridge or panty and use whatever is there. Pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, regular tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes. Anything will work.)
·         1 can red or black beans-rinsed and drained
·         1 cup frozen corn
Mix beef, seasoning and tomato sauce and spread ½ of the mixture in a greased 9x13 baking dish.  Layer on ½ the corn and beans, followed by half of the potatoes.  Repeat the layers and ending with the potatoes.  (If you are not dairy free top with 1 cup cheddar cheese!)  Bake covered at 350 for 30-40 minutes. 
NOTES: This recipe mirrors my Taco Potatoes recipe.  Same basic ingredients just different presentation!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Meal Plan 1/12-1/18 and the start of my fitness challenge

Breakfast has changed a bit around here.  I started my 9 week fitness challenge this week, and so I am at the gym by 5:00 a.m. many mornings.  I froze waffles and pancakes, and quick breads in advance so that our mornings there is one less thing to do in the morning!
A fitness challenge is something that I have always wanted to do so when the opportunity came up I decided to go for it.  Nutrition is a huge part of the challenge.  On the one hand we eat fairly healthy, and I am do not have to make drastic changes to our meals.  On the other hand I have a few habits that are getting nipped in the bud.   (i.e. Loosing track of portions because half the time I eat standing up, or I reward myself with something sweet just because-a lot of normal "mom things!")  There is a quite a lot of protein that is recommended during the challenge.  I am doing the best I can without adding any packaged protein bars, powers or shakes, and I am not calorie counting.  Oh-I can't forget about the water.  I am drinking a lot of water!
For the curious this is my family's meal plan.  It is safe to assume that I am eating eggs for breakfast, dropping any grains at supper, and eating beans or Greek yogurt in between.  (Slight exaggeration, but not much!)  I want to make sure that I am eating very closely to what the family eats so that I am setting a good example for my kids. 

B-French Toast
L-Pop Corn Chicken, Green Beans
S-Pizza and salad

B-Pumpkin Bread
L-Chicken Tortilla Soup
S-Roast Beef, salad and roasted veggies

B-Frozen Waffles
L-Chicken Tortilla Soup
S-Korean Beef and Brown Rice, sweet corn and carrots

L-PB&J, frozen peas
S-Garlic Lemon Chicken, sweet potatoes,  biscuits

B-Frozen Pancakes
L-Chicken Salads
S-Beef and Broccoli over Egg Noodles

B-Eggs and No-knead Wheat Bread
L-Beef and Broccoli (or Fish sticks.  The kids are up in the air about home much Beef and Broccoli.  It will either be gone or they will not touch it.  Anyone else with kids like that?)
S-Balsamic Tomato Chicken (this is a Pinterest experiment that I will need to tweak a bit) and whatever veggies I can find thrown into a skillet! 

B-Granola (Lasts week's granola experiment was a huge success!  4 for 4 with the kiddos so this mama's happy!)
L-Chicken on a salad
S-Ground Beef Tacos

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My 2013 Goals

2013…What do I want to do with this year?  I have been reminded recently that each day we have is a gift from God.  I keep looking into the eyes of my husband and children and am so thankful for each day with them.  I am challenged not to try to do great things, but to be faithful in the little things.   How will I resolve to be faithful in 2013?

I had such a good experience with written goals last year that I had to write them down again.

1.      Find a Routine.  I have felt off my game for the last couple of months.  Part of it is due to the fact that I have used a 3-ring binder in past for household management.  I think that my life has grown into two binders; one for the household and one for school.  Since I out grew my binder I foolishly abandoned it all together.  I have been without direction.

2.      Cook with my kids (instead of for my kids.)  It hit me the other day how much time a month we as parents spend on sharpening artistic and athletic skills while becoming too busy to teach life skills.  How many times do I grimace when I hear the sound of the kitchen chair scrape across the floor?  I say, “Not now,” when my little one smiles up at me with anticipation and asks, “Can I help?”  In 2013 I will no longer value speed and efficiency at the cost of bringing my kids alongside me. 

3.      Shut the cupboard doors.  If you are looking for some deep or hidden meaning in that resolution there isn’t one.  I am terrible at shutting doors!  It used to drive my parents NUTS, and recently my husband has brought it to my attention that he finds my carelessness annoying as well.  Old habits die hard, but I am sure going to try!

4.      Can sometime with my sister.  Last year was my first year with the garden.  I froze corn and zucchini.  This year I would like to can, and my sister wants to too!  I am not sure what we will can.  Green beans, applesauce or stew…maybe I will let my sister decide, because they all sound good to me!

5.      Be a blessing.  I want to go into situations asking “How can I bless?” Far, far too often I have expectations of what others can do for me.  One of the great paradoxes of God is that giving to others brings greater joy than getting.  That is what I want at the forefront of my mind this year. 

I was really tempted to add a couple more, but I had better concentrate on just doing a few things well. Stay focused on being faithful right?  Well, off to the printer I go to keep my written goals visible in the new year.   

This post is linked up at We are that Family

Monday, January 7, 2013

Looking Back at 2012 Goals

It’s that time of year when people are asking, “Did you make a New Year’s resolution?”  Before I made any goals for this year I wanted to check and see how I did on last year’s goals.

Everyone says that the secret to reaching your goals is to write them down.  Everyone is right! Since I am a list nerd girl, last year I made 3 lists:  Goals for 2012, Long Term Goals and a Book List.  A perfectionist may look at my progress and frown, but I am going with the attitude “Any progress is good progress!”

My Booklist:  I have mentioned before that I love to read, but I get stuck on one topic and become obsessed enthralled with it.  My 2012 book list contained different genres and topics to try to stay more well rounded!  I didn’t read every book on my list this year, but I did read half!  I read a variety of books so I say, “Goal accomplished!” As always other books were suggested to me throughout the year so I did a little off list reading too.  By far the best book was Redeeming Love.

Long-term Goals:  This was the list that I found most encouraging.  Last year I wrote down all those things that I would say, “Someday I want to…” I was inspired by Mama Bird’s goals posts!  One of my “somedays” included “Plant a Garden.”  (insert something here about the success of the garden experience, and then insert something to the effect of: Another “someday” was to sign up for a fitness challenge that I had been contemplating for six years.)  I signed up for a fitness challenge that I had been contemplating for six years.  I begin this week!  We achieved some of our family’s financial goals this year, and even though working with yeast scared me at first, I dove head first into making bread, buns and cinnamon rolls.  What a great year!

Goals for 2012: I made four goals for the year.

1.      Try new things (Foods specifically)

2.      Pray more

3.      Consistently speak gently to my kids

4.      Kill my sugar habit

#1 New Foods: I ate a lot of foods that I had either never tired before or previously thought I didn’t like.  Brussels sprouts, parsnips, quinoa, cabbage, lamb, ratatouille, egg rolls, cole slaw and chocolate covered bacon!  (They were giving out free samples at the Des Moines Art’s Festival so I thought I might as well try it!)

#2  Prayer: This was less quantifiable than my first goal.  It feels like I can always pray more.  In the last few months I have started a thankfulness journal, and I am so glad that I did!

#3 Gentle words:  I am so glad that this goal was in my face all year.  I have NOT mastered this, but my conscience is picked each time my voice gets too “edgy” and I am quick to ask my children for forgiveness.   If I can’t be a good model of gentleness I should at least try to model humility!  The other day I heard myself say to a certain little boy, “I am sorry I yelled, but I had to keep you from killing your sister!”

4# Sugar: Can’t I skip this?  There were times I did really well at this.  I have to keep a food journal with my fitness challenge.  This week I keep telling myself, “I’d better eat this before I start the challenge and it’s off limits.”  There is currently ice cream off to my right.  J

I am not done with my 2012 goals.  I want to take them with me into 2013, but I am ready now to put together my 2013 list and see what I can get done!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Meal Plan Jauary 5-11

I am kind of getting board with my meals.  I think it is time to go searching through my "Food to Try" board on Pinterest for a few new recipes! 

B-Frozen Waffles
L-One last Christmas potluck!  I am bringing green beans and a variation of this successful pasta dish find from Pinterest.
S-Shredded Pork Sandwiches (It is always nice to be able to pull cooked meat from the freezer for some easy sandwiches after a busy day.)

B-Eggs and Bread
L-Shredded Pork on a lettuce salad
S-Honey Sesame Chicken and Rice (Fingers crossed on this Pinterest recipe) and Roasted Broccoli

B-Eggs and Chocolate Zucchini Bread
L-Left over Honey Sesame Chicken and mixed veggies
S-Salmon Patties and Raw Veggies with Ranch

B-Baked Oatmeal  (My sister had this while she and her family stayed with us over Christmas and needed the recipe.  It is really good oatmeal!)
L-Clean out the Fridge
S-Hearty Bean Bake and sweet potatoes

B-Frozen Pancakes
L-Hearty Bean Bake and raw veggies
S-Chicken Tacos

B-Granola (New recipe so we will see how this goes!)
L-Chicken Taco Salads
S-Supper with our new small group

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I'm Ba-a-ack

Where in the world have I been?  Doing life.  It started with federal jury duty back in October.  The case I was on was originally estimated to take 8 business days, but it stretched to almost 3 weeks.  That was followed by the stomach flu, and then it was Thanksgiving.  December was filled with Christmas programs and gatherings.  We got to host my sister and her family for a couple of weeks while they were in state.  It was busy, but it was people busy which is the best kind of busy.  I am, however, looking forward to a long quiet January.   I feel like I lost all my rhythm, routine and many of my skills.  It is time to find them again.

I want to say a quick "Thank You" to everyone for the blog support and encouragement this year.I have had a lot of fun and plan to pick up writing again in the new year! 

Happy 2013!