Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bountiful Basket Freezer Meals

A few weeks ago it occurred to me that a great way to use all the vegetables in my Bountiful Basket would be to create freezer meals.  I often don't get a chance to use all the veggies when they are at their freshest.  Creating meals and freezing them seems like a win win.  Fresh vegetables and meals that are ready to go. 

Not all the veggies in a bountiful basket will freeze well.  So here are the ones I am planning on using:

3 Zucchini

I think I will create a freezer meal for each of them.

Spinach artichoke dip chicken
Pork chops with zucchini casserole and stuffing
Cabbage burgers

Spinach artichoke dip chicken

For this one I think I will just wilt the spinach in some garlic and butter.  I will add that to a spinach artichoke dip recipe like this one.  Before cooking it I plan on freezing the mix.  When I am ready to cook I will probably place several chicken breasts in the crock pot, cover them in the dip and cook until the chicken is done.  

Pork Chops with zucchini casserole and stuffing

This will be another crock pot meal.  I found this recipe that looks easy and yummy.  I think it will be easy to mix the soup, sour cream and the veggies together and freeze them.  When I am ready to cook I can mix the stuffing and the butter together.  Then layer half the stuffing, pork chops, veggies and soup, and last the other half of the stuffing.  Cook until the pork chops are done.

Cabbage Burgers

This one is a favorite.  I found this recipe some time ago and have made them two or three times since.  I like to use my pizza dough recipe, but am sure the frozen bread dough would be good too.  They freeze beautifully and make great lunches on the go.

There you have it.  Three freezer meals from the Bountiful Basket veggies this week.  

Monday, November 4, 2013

Halloween Candy Fail

My very small children collected their weight in candy last Thursday.  Determined to get some it out of the house I decided to make cookies with chopped up candy in place of the chocolate chips and then give them away to neighbors.

First, I selected the candy I was most likely to eat myself: milky ways, crunch bars and m&ms.  Then I mixed up my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and threw the candy in at the end.  I have made this recipe more times than I can count.  I barely need to look at the recipe to know the amounts of the ingredients.  You would think that this would be fool poof.

However, the cookies melted quickly and came out thin.

I don't know if the candy changed things or I just messed up.  Bryce claims I needed more flour.  Those pictured look ok, but the more I made the worse they got.  Now I am stuck with ugly, flat sugary things with too many calories.  I can't give them away; they are just too embarrassing. 

I finally gave up and froze the rest of the dough in balls.  I can now make more ugly, flat cookies with too many calories on another day.  Oh, goodie.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

You Can Be A Mom And One Other Thing

I wrote this some months ago.  Today I was finally able to hit the "publish" button.

I have been trying to write this post for a while.  But it's hard to tell a story when you are still in the middle of it.  The short version is that it appears that my life is not turning out the way I planned, the way I dreamed.  I once wrote a post that I never published about how I had found the one thing that I had always wanted to do: to be a mom.  I never published it because it's easier to talk about what we ate for dinner, or what we store in our pantry.  Mothering is a sacred.  Talking about the holy makes me cry.

I love being a mom.  And I love being a full-time stay-at-home mom.  But that is changing.  Due to circumstances beyond my control, I am returning to the work force.

The hardest part has been to think of myself as something other than a mom.  To think of myself as a lawyer again.  I no longer wear stylish suits.  I now wear frumpy jeans and comfortable sweaters.  I no longer eat out at fancy restaurants for important business meetings.  I try to find tasty crock pot recipes so I can make a quick and healthy meal.  I no longer think critically about anything more than trying to help my boys grow up to be happy and independent.  I no longer represent interests before a judge or jury.  I am the judge and jury and if you don't do what I say, you will get time out!

My own mom tells a story about when my sister and I were little.  We were talking about what we wanted to be when we grew up.  I think I said I wanted to be a mom and a ballerina.  My sister, who is much more ambitious than I, said she wanted to be a mom, an astronaut and a scientist.  I told her that she could only be a mom and one other thing.

My mom loved this little bit of wisdom I spit out without thinking.  You can only be a mom and one other thing.  Haha.  How true.

Being a mom takes a lot of work.  If you can focus all your energies on that one calling then you are blessed.  If you have to do something in addition to being a mom then you might want to take the advice of my wiser, younger self and stick to only one other thing.  That's what I plan on doing.  I am going to work on being a mom and something else.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Slow Cooker Coconut Chicken Curry: Review

Would it surprise you to know that I didn't take a picture?  Oh, well.  Life is busy and I am mostly happy that I managed to make dinner and blog about it.  How about another moving picture instead?


What I put in my crock pot:

1-2 lbs chicken, cubed (I would lean towards more meat, just sayin')
1 whole onion, diced
1 t. garlic, diced
1/4 c. dehydrated bell pepper (use 1 whole green pepper diced)
1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
1 15 oz. can coconut milk
1 1/2 t. salt
1 T. curry powder
1 T. garam masala (I made my own with this recipe)

I cooked it on high for about 5 hours.  It smelled wonderful.  I served it over white calrose rice.

What I thought:

This one has by far been one of the best slow cooker recipes I have made.  I loved it.  The flavors were wonderful and my 5 year old had seconds.

In addition, this one would work really well as a freezer meal.  I will not hesitate to make this one again.  And again.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Slow Cooker Pizza Soup: Review

This is the second meal that I said I was going to make this week.  This one isn't really new for us because I am pretty sure I have made it before, but I haven't posted it.

I didn't take a picture of this one either.  I almost took a picture of a bowl of leftovers I had for lunch today but Kimball was playing Angry Birds Star Wars on my phone so I couldn't take a picture.  Plus the table was a mess and I didn't want to clean it before stuffing my face.

So how about this for a picture?

Lol.  He totally makes me laugh.

Anyway, here is what I put in my crock pot:

2 c. homemade spaghetti sauce from the freezer
6 c. water
1 small onion, diced
1/4 c. dehydrated bell peppers (use 1 whole bell pepper diced)
1 small package of cherry tomatoes, quartered (use 1 can diced tomatoes drained)
1 c. pepperoni, sliced and quartered
3/4 lb. mild Italian sausage, sliced and browned
1/4 wagon wheel pasta, added in the last half hour

I served it with a generous helping of mozzarella cheese and garlic pull-apart bread.

You could also add mushrooms to this or even black olives.  Mmmmm.

What I thought:

This on is a winner all around.  Everyone ate it.  The cheese is a must and makes it taste just like pizza.  It probably won't satisfy a real pizza craving because it's soup after all, but it's close.

I also think this would be a pretty easy freezer meal.  You would have to brown the sausage before freezing, but that's not too much trouble.  I would also leave out the water and add it to the crock pot when ready to cook.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Slow Cooker Scalloped Potatoes: Review

I didn't take a picture of my food.  To be honest I was hungry and anxious to get the kids fed so I could stuff them in bed and call it a night.  But I know that it's nicer to read a blog post with pictures,so how about this one?

Ha ha!!  I don't know how google+ does these little moving pictures, but this one makes me laugh!  Well, on to the food ...

What I put in the Slow Cooker:

3-4 medium-ish potatoes, sliced into rounds
1 large head of broccoli, chopped
1 cup turkey ham, diced
1-2 cups grated cheese, Monterrey jack and cheddar mix
1 can cream of chicken
1 can of milk

I assembled the items in layers.  First potatoes, then broccoli, ham and cheese. Another layer of potatoes, then broccoli ham and cheese.  I topped it off with another layer of potatoes and a little more cheese.  Then I mixed the soup and the milk together and poured it over the entire thing.  I cooked it on low for about 7.5 hours.

My thoughts:

I would say this was a success.  I was surprised to see that some of the potatoes browned on top, at least the ones near the edges. I thought the broccoli would turn to mush, and it was soft, but not gross.

Bryce and the boys liked it.  I thought it was good too.  Not fabulous, but Bryce said he liked it well enough to make it again.  When I do, I will make a few changes.

First, I used turkey ham and Bryce doesn't like the texture.  He also would like it in a smaller dice.

Second, I am unsure that this would make a great freezer meal.  I really liked the layering.  This would be hard to replicate if you dumped all the ingredients in the bag, froze it and then dumped them into the crock pot.  Also, I am a little wary of frozen potatoes.  However, I do think this would work with frozen broccoli.

This was a very easy meal to assemble.  The boys liked it, so I will make it again.

Monday, October 28, 2013

One Week of Crock Pot Meals

Lately, my crock pot has been a good friend.  I, like half of the pinners on Pinterest have been mildly obsessed with meals that can go straight from the freezer to the crock pot.  However, mine is a love/hate relationship.

My biggest hesitation in making a large amount of meals is that I don't know if my family will eat them.  I don't want to make three meals of cilarntro lime chicken only to find out my boys and even my husband are going to turn up their noses. 

So, I have been on a hunt for freezer to crock pot meals that my family likes.  I have often made meals without bothering to freeze them.  If they are a hit then perhaps when I am more organized I can made them for the freezer.  

So this week I am trying four new crock pot meals that could potentially be freezer meals.  

Here is what is on the menu:

Pizza Soup
Coconut Chicken Curry
Korean BBQ Beef (I'm doing this in the crock pot)

So, if any of these are worth making again, I will let you know.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Meal Think

I bought another Bountiful Basket this week.  It's been a while since I sat down to plan the meals around a basket and I have to say that I am pretty excited with this week's menu choices.

I thought I would share, especially since a friend bought a basket this week too.  (Audrey, this post is for you.)

Butter Lettuce - Lettuce wraps.  I am thinking this recipe looks easy, especially if I can make the hoisin sauce from scratch.

Sweet Potato and Tomatoes - African Stew.

Orange Cauliflower - Green Curry with cauliflower over rice.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Happy Birthday Kimball!

It's hard for me to believe that I have a five year old.  But it't true.  Well, technically it won't be until 4am tomorrow, but we celebrated Kimball's birthday yesterday.

The biggest problem I had planning this party was that Kimball could't decide what kind of party he wanted as you can see by the invitation below.
As it turns out, finding party supplies for a five themed party is not only expensive but, well, impossible.  It mostly turned into a pirate themed party because it's easy to find pirate party supplies.

In order to prevent Kimball from changing his mind again, the only show I let him and Stan watch all week was Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  It worked out.

We threw in some Angry Birds stuff for good measure.  The cake was easy since I talked him into cupcakes.  I think they turned out cute with the little treasure chests on top.

It's always exhausting to put on a party, but the kids had a blast and we made some fun memories.  Thanks to all who helped (Mom) and all who could come celebrate with us.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

How to Baby Proof a Banister

Baby proofing your house can be tricky.  There are some dangers that can be put away and out of reach, others are not so easy.  With a little one about to crawl I wanted to make our stairs safer, but I was faced with two separate problems.  One, putting up a baby gate right where the banister is located.  Two, a banister with wide spaces.

Fortunately, I have a neighbor who is clever so I don't have to be.  She even lent me her gate when she was done.  (It's so nice to have good neighbors).

Here is her solution:  To solve the first problem you will need a 1x6 piece of wood with small holes drilled in the corners and some zip ties.  Use the zip ties to secure the wood to the banister, thus providing a stable place for the the baby gate.

You can see that I elected to put the wood on the back side of the banister.  I did this because I needed an extra inch or so for the baby gate.

The solution for the wide spaces in the banister is a piece of plexi-glass with holes drilled in the corners.  It can be secured in the same way with zip ties.

Now I am ready for my baby to start crawling, even if I don't want her to.  (Please stop growing so fast, Little One.)

Here she is eating a giant piece of pizza, because you know, pizza is good for you.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Meal Planning For Those Who Hate Meal Planning

I don't know if you have ever seen one of those blogs that manages to put out a meal plan for an entire month.  I hate those blogs.  Well, not really.  I just hate it when people are so confident in what they are making for dinner three weeks from now?  Who does that?  I sometimes have trouble deciding what to make for dinner the same day.

Since I an not a planner, but I still like to stay organized, I thought I would share with you my method of figuring out what I can make for dinner on any given day.  This might just change your life.  Or it might not.  If it helps make your dinner planning a little easier, I'll be satisfied.

1. Make a list of starter ingredients.  A starter ingredient is one that I base my meal around.  For me this usually involves some sort of frozen meat (frozen because I stock up when it's on sale).  If I buy a Bountiful Basket one week, it might involve fresh vegetables.

2. For each starter ingredient, plan a meal.  For example if I have ground beef as my starter ingredient I might put Shepard's Pie.  If I have green peppers, I might put stuffed peppers.  Cabbage might be Cabbage Burgers.  Chicken might be Crock Pot Massaman Curry.  You get the idea.

3.  For each meal, list the ingredients that you don't have on hand and will need to pick up at the store.

That's it!  I even made a handy printable so you can try my method.  Download it here.  You can see one of the printouts pictured above with sparkles because using it is so magical.  There is no guarantee, however, that the sparkles will appear when you use the printout.  In fact, they probably won't.  Please don't be disappointed.

I like to to tape my lists to my fridge so I can refer to it when I am trying to come up with dinner.  I can quickly decide what I have on hand, and make a grocery list for what I might want to make later.  I cross things out as I make them and replace the list when my adjustments and scribbles become bothersome.

If you try my method or my printout, please leave a comment and let me know how it goes.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

There will be time . . .

One of my favorite poems is The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot.  (The full poem can be found here.)  As I have thought about how to start blogging again the lines from this poem have come to mind:

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window panes;        25
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;        30
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

One of the themes of the poems is hesitancy and indecision.  

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—        40
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare        45
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

I keep going back and forth in my head.  There are only so many hours in the day.  Is blogging about what I eat or how I discipline my kids or what food I choose to store the best use of my time?  I don't know.  But I am still here.

I am not sure how consistent I can be going forward. I now have three monkeys instead of two.  I also started running a non-profit out of my home, so I am working part time.  

And yet, blogging a few silly things for the world to read still draws me in. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Jelly Bean Jar Method of Discipline

I have a two and a half year old.  He is probably like most toddlers--strong willed, happy (most of the time), very silly, and can throw a tantrum like nobody's business.  One of the things I would LOVE to get him to stop doing is shrieking like someone is performing surgery without anesthesia.  He does this when he gets frustrated (such as when his foot won't fit in his shoe) or when his brother touches him (which is often).

My friend (Thank you, Audry) gave me a good idea.  At the beginning of each day she puts a number of small treats in a jar.  We used jelly beans and I started with 10-12.  Each time one of the kids would do something they weren't supposed to, I got to eat a jelly bean.  (Yay!  Treats for Mom!)

If you try this you should be prepared for severe tantrums when you eat your first treat.  Losing a jelly bean is a fairly traumatic experience.   The best way to cure this is to eat another one for throwing a tantrum.

At the end of the day the kids get to eat their beans.  This has been a fairly successful experiment.  All I have to do now is to threaten to eat a jelly bean and I get pretty good compliance.  The problem is we are now addicted to jelly beans and need a recovery program.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Recipe Review: Hawaiian Meatballs

Lately, I have be trying new recipes from both Pinterest and the food blogs I skim.

This is one I loved from Six Sisters' Stuff.  Super easy and super delicious.  Try it, you'll like it.  (Anyone else hearing Yo Gabba Gabba in their heads when I say "Try it, you'll like it"?  If so, then the video is for you.)


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