Saturday, April 3, 2010

LAST CHANCE TO ENTER!

The winner for the awesome bezales necklace will be at midnight tomorrow- a little over 24 hours until the winner is chosen!

If you have not entered, you need to!

Trust me- this giveaway is AWESOME!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

Friday, April 2, 2010

More to do with onions then just eat them

One of our most viewed posts on this site is the post about chopping and freezing your onions for later. Just found an excellent blog that posted "8 things you can do with an onion" and it mentioned things like using it as a mosquito repellent. Quite interesting. You may want to check it out.

Is it still good to eat or not?


Ever find something in your pantry and ask yourself: "Is it too late to use this? Should I toss this, keep this, or hurry up and use this? Found an excellent resource today that answers that question for you. Anytime you need to find out the shelf life of an item you just enter it into a search and the answer is there for you! Check it out here.

Don't Forget to Sign up for our Giveaway!


Imagine your own precious picture, put on a necklace
for you to wear and show off to all your friends and family
!


If you have not signed up for our most recent giveaway, you are going to want to!

The giveaway ends this Sunday at midnight. Right now we only have 10 entrants! Your odds of winning are pretty good!

You could win a personalized photo necklace for yourself or someone you love for Mother's day!



Sign up here!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Friday: Whole Grain Waffles with Compote




Here is how we do it!


Waffles
2 cups of milk
1/2 cup of oats
2 eggs
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tsp Vanilla
1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Cinnamon to taste
Salt

Step one:
Mix the milk and oat together in a large bowl. Let this sit for 15 minutes until soft.

Step two: Mix everything else together and stir!


Step three: Place on waffle maker and cook until light brown/crispy


For our fruit compote we simply cut up fruit that we have on hand. Today that fruit was: banana, pear, plums, blueberries. We put it into a pan and let it heat while the waffles cook. Then we layer it on top of the waffles and smother it in honey. We use honey instead of syrup around here!


This is great because depending on how many mouths you have to feed you will most likely have leftover waffles to freeze for a later day.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thursday: Bean and Barley Salad

Here is a story for you, a small glimpse into the life of my kitchen. I made this simple and healthy dish with the help of my three year old son. His little hands assisted me assemble each part. He awed at the red pepper, the cilantro, the very sound the barley made as we shook it in the pot. He licked his fingers which were covered in the dressing. A hit, I thought to myself. I have made a healthy hit, a new family favorite. Two of the many things we have been working on in our household are healthy eating habits and a heart of gratitude. Here in this moment assembling our salad we had both. And, then came the chickpeas.
The Moose noticed the chickpeas ready to be poured into the salad. "Are those chickpeas?", he asked. I nodded a yes. I waited as he thought, the look of awe had vanished from his eyes. "Mommy, this meal is the most disgusting thing I have ever tasted in my whole life. And, I am grateful that you are not going to make me eat it."
And, there it is folks.

Now, did Mommy tell him that she was glad he used the word grateful? Yep.
Did Mommy give him alternatives to calling dinner disgusting (especially when it has not been tried.) Yep.
Did Mommy make him eat the chickpeas? Bet your bottom dollar she did.

When I tucked his royal highness into bed I told him that Mommy's love for him was a zillion times stronger than his hatred of chickpeas. And, Mommies who love their boys want them to be healthy even if that means making them eat the world's most disgusting bean and barley salad. And that was that.

Keep on truckin, Mommas. Keep on truckin.

Good news~ This salad because it is FAR from disgusting. In fact, I declare this salad amazing.


What you will need:
1 Can of Black Beans, rinsed and drained.
1 Can of Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained. (Modification: I used Chickpeas)
1-2 Cups of Corn (canned or frozen).
1 Sweet red pepper, chopped.
6 green onions, chopped. (Modification: I omitted the onions and it was great still.)
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
For the dressing: olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, cumin, crushed red pepper

What to do:


1. Boil your barley until cooked. I buy mine in bulk with no package directions so I can not tell you exactly how long to cook it. Boiling 3/4 cup of barley in a pot of water took about 20 minutes for me. I imagine it would be about the same for you.

2. As your barley is boiling, go ahead and make your dressing.
In a dish combine 3/4 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, and two cloves of garlic with your spices. Add almost two teaspoons of chili powder, 3/4 tsp of cumin, and 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes. You can salt if you need too. I did not. Stir this and set aside.

3. Dice up your cilantro. The recipe calls for 1/3 cup, but I just used a bunch. Anybody else ready to stop buying cilantro in the store?! I planted mine last week and am eagerly hoping my seeds take. I had the hardest time getting a good cilantro crop last year. Suggestions welcome! Also, chop up your sweet red pepper. Looking foward to picking these fresh again too. Ah, ..if only I could keep my dumb dog out of my garden...
4. In a bowl, combine your can of black beans, kidney beans (or chickpeas!) and corn. Seriously, could this be easier??
5. Add the cilantro and red pepper. My dog ate my garden last year. Root up. Grrr.
6. This is your dressing. Mmmm...tasty! Pour it onto the salad and stir it up. Don't forget to add your barley to the salad.

8. Enjoy this chilled with pita chips. We used Stacy's Pita Chips as I got them for FREE (whoop!) a few weeks ago. I think this would also go very well with tortilla chips too.
9. Go make this salad and give your children a hug. Tell them that you love them so much more than they hate chickpeas. Keep on Truckin. I don't know why I keep saying that, guess that's just the kind of gal I am. Oh, I am also the kind of gal that likes a good give-away so don't forget our FABULOUS Bezales necklace Mother's Day give-away!

Giveaway: Bezales Personalized Necklace

Here is a fantastic giveaway, just in time for Mother's Day!

Let me tell you, I am so jealous that one of you are going to win a Bezales necklace! I will just have to put a bug in my husband's ear for mother's day!

After seeing these necklaces up close at our last conference, all 3 of us were so impressed. The idea is so unique, taking a treasured family photo and turning it into a necklace! It is easy to do, quick and inexpensive! Not to even mention, it will become a treasured keepsake!

Here is a little about the company:

"Bezales is not your ordinary company. And the driving force behind Bezales is certainly not your average corporate leader. Instead, the Bezales story is about family, values, hard work and creativity — not to mention the vision of a 16-year old entrepreneur. Meghan Hirschmann is that entrepreneur, a high school student and member of the track team who also happens to make one of a kind keepsake necklaces. By incorporating your most treasured photos, designs or even your children's artwork, she will turn that into your favorite piece of jewelry...a photo keepsake pendant (in four distinct styles) that will turn heads everywhere you go. You simply upload your image at bezales.com and she handles the rest. Each piece comes beautifully giftwrapped and can be drop-shipped anywhere...even with a personalized note from you! Please visit bezales.com to order in time for Mother's Day, and you can also follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bezales



To enter this contest and win a great gift for yourself or your mom for Mother's day just leave a comment and answer one of the following questions:

What is one of your favorite memories from being a mom?

What is a favorite memory growing up, with your mom?




This contest will end on Sunday night, April 4th at midnight. I will then use a random number generator to pick our winner! They will be contacted on Monday, April 5th.

Good luck ladies!


Please check out bezales website and pick up a unique gift for someone in your family!

Wednesday: Mother In Law Day



Every Wednesday we spend the evening with my in-laws. Every Wednesday. Every Wednesday. Every...ok...you get the point. My in-laws are lovely. Every Wednesday. And, my mother-in-law has a huge heart of service. She is always whipping up meals and treats for us. Every Wednesday. I have decided to start sharing her meal as this is a day I actually do not have to meal plan. Every Wednesday.

My first official Mother-In-Law Meal is: Tilapia with vegetable rice and salad.

She breaded the Tilapia in a little bit of Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, and Italian seasonings. Then cooked it in a pan with a bit of olive oil. It was amazingly tender!

The rice was actually one of those Steamers packages. It is rice mixed with vegetables and I was impressed with it. She got it for under a dollar and it served seven people.

The salad was simple and fresh. Oh, and there were home made rolls which topped it all off nicely.

Thanks Mother-in-Law Wednesdays!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A breakfast celebration...thankfulness


Alisha Hughes, Out of the Box mommy here: I am feeling compelled to share a story from Susie Larson's book today. Trusting that someone needs to hear this story. It comes from Susie's newest book: "Growing Grateful Kids". She is my new favorite author and to say that she is an inspiration with her life is a huge understatement. Read on:

One morning I awoke to the task of making breakfast for my three little ones. I looked in the cupboard but already knew what I'd find. No cereal. No oatmeal. Just an almost-empty box of pancake mix sat on the shelf. Surely the neighbors would loan me some cereal if I asked them, but I couldn't bring myself to ask them. People had already helped us on numerous occasions. I was tired of being the friend who was always in need. Besides, we had pancake mix.

Something fluttered inside of my stomach at the thought of making this a special morning in spite of our desperate financial situation. With my three little boys seated in their booster chairs around the table, I eagerly set down one big plate before them, and four forks. Before our eyes sat one large pancake with a single flickering candle standing up in the middle.

Sitting on my knees on my chair so I could lean in especially close, I asked the boys to fold their hands and then I continued, "Guys, aren't we just so blessed today? The sun is shining. We have each other. Daddy's out there working hard for us. And God provided this big giant pancake for us to have for breakfast! Let's thank Him for taking such good care of us."

Enjoying out little celebration and without skipping a beat, the boys leaned in, bowed their heads, and in their own way, thanked Jesus for our wonderful breakfast. They were giddy at the thought of an unexpected celebration. Afterwards we went outside and played together in the sandbox. That breakfast with my boys filled me with joy and taught me much about choosing a right perspective. As far as my boys were concerned, they had everything they needed. As far as I was concerned-- at least at that moment-- I did too.




Hope Susie's story blesses you today, like it blessed me. Susie's book is my new favorite "must read" for mommies. For a chance to win a copy of her book go to her blog and leave a comment.

Baby Food. I know, I know...this is the last one.

If you are interested in all the talk about making your own baby food then you will want to check out our facebook page where other mommas have offered their ideas of what has worked for them. Erin had a great idea for working mommies, and Cassidy had a great idea for when you are out to eat and forget to bring baby food. If you have something to add jump on and post a comment. We'd love to hear from you. We all have so much to learn from each other.

New obsession

Readers, let me tell you.... I have found a new food obsession!

CUBAN FOOD!

They had me at "black beans!"



I am searching all over looking for great recipes to come up with a Cuban food week here on meal planning mommies. Since I know that we have thousands of readers a month, world-wide; I wanted to see if anyone (from Cuba- or not!) could e-mail me one of your favorite Cuban recipes! It can be a side, main course, dessert, drink... whatever!

Leave a comment or click on our contact info to send me a recipe. Who knows... your recipe may be chosen for my Cuban Food Week!

Sneak Peak...

Hi everyone!

I don't know about you, but around here it is starting to look like spring! The birds are chirping and the trees are starting to bud, and to go along with that...

I have some exciting news for you! Meal Planning Mommies blog is getting a makeover! We are so excited to reveal the new blog design to you. Hopefully it will be up within the next few weeks!


I also wanted to give you a sneak peak at our next giveaway! When the meal planning mommies went to their last conference, we met up with a mom and daughter team who create custom necklaces. They are INCREDIBLE! We will be giving one away soon, just in time for Mother's Day!

Check in later this week to enter the giveaway!

A third opinion on baby food making...

Thank you to our reader, Drea, for directing me to another helpful site. According to wholesomebabyfood.com microwaving may actually make foods "lose nutrients at a very high rate". Read this quote from their site:
"The amount of nutrients that are "destroyed" by a microwave varies by the type of food that you are cooking. There are some foods whose nutrients are retained better when microwaved than when steamed or boiled for example. Broccoli is one food that may lose a vast majority of its nutrients when microwaved, more so than any other vegetable. However the study done on broccoli and the microwave is being negated due to the methodology used."
I have been steaming fruits and vegetables, which this site says is the most preferred method of cooking. Anyone have any other insights or opinions on making baby food?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Tuesday: Chicken Chile Soup

Once again I got this basic idea from the Taste of Home magazine, but I modified it to fit what we currently have in our pantry. This may need some explaining. My family has made a commitment to live with intentional simplicity and we have decided to live with less. It is our hope that through this our children will grow up without a sense of entitlement, rather gracious and compassionate hearts. Spending less and having less also enables us to give more, a lifestyle that we are embarking on with gusto. This has boiled down to me having to modify recipes based on what we have. It honestly has been fun and I am proud of myself at the end of the day for accepting the challenge.

So, here is my soup based on what I had. I will also give you the Taste of Home version because it does sound amazing! Their version has Alfredo sauce in it! Yum!



1. Add a bag of pre-soaked northern beans to a crock pot. I soaked mine ahead of time for about three hours, rinsed them and tossed them in. You can used canned also and forgo the soaking.

2. Toss in two large chicken breasts. Of course, modify depending on your family size!
3. Toss in your corn. I used corn leftover from the summer that I had frozen. It was the last I had left and it made me so happy that gardening season is here again! It was about 3 cups.
4. I used frozen chicken stock that I made. You can use chicken broth or stock. I can not tell you exactly how much this was, perhaps six cups. I needed more so I also added two cups of water. Make sure you have about eight cups of liquid, give or take a little.
5. Flavor with real onion if you have it. I did not so I used onion powder. Also, make sure to add cumin and a hint of cayenne pepper. Cumin is what makes this soup good! Cumin makes everything good.
6. Thank goodness I had these! Toss in a can of diced green chiles! They add so much flavor. My husband (you know the one who does not like vegetables....) sat and ate this soup while picking out each and every chile. Dur.......but the rest of us LOVED the spicy touch!
7. Cook in your crock pot all afternoon. It smells heavenly. We ate our with rolls and apples with peanut butter. Simple, healthy, hearty, inexpensive.

Now, for the Taste of Home version....somebody try this and tell me if it is as amazing as it sounds!

Taste of Home's White Chili
3 cans northern beans
3 cups chicken cooked and cut up
1 jar of Alfredo sauce
2 cups chicken broth
Can of green chiles
1 1/2 cup corn
1 cup Monterrey jack cheese
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1 small yellow pepper
1 small onion
Garlic
Cumin
Cayenne pepper/White pepper
Add together and cook for 3-4 hours.

Make Your Own Baby Food REVISED

When my second born was eating baby food, I did a post on how to make your own baby food. It can save you a ton of money, and it is very healthy for your baby. Today I went to the 6 month doctor appointment for my third child. I explained my process for making baby food to the pediatrician, and asked her opinion. She said that it was great that we were making our own baby food, which leaves out the preservatives of jarred food. She also added a new thought...use the microwave! I asked her if we were losing too many of the nutrients by steaming the fruit and vegetables and her suggestion was that the best way to cook the food is actually to microwave the food so that you hold in the most nutrients! Sounds easy, right?

Healthy, cheap, and very convenient. These are reasons to consider making your own baby food if you are in that phase with your itty bitty(s).

Okay, so here is a revised version of the post I had done before, with the revisions done in bold.
Great foods to start with are apples, pears, peaches, zucchini, squash, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, yams, etc. Steps for each are very similar.

1. Peel (if desired) and cut into chunks. Keeping the peel on will give the baby more nutrients, and is actually preferable.

2. Cook in boiling water until very soft, use a steamer, or zap the vegetables or fruit in the microwave until it is tender and easily pierced with a fork.


3. Puree in a blender or a food processor with a little water. If I am having a hard time blending all the chunks I sometimes add a little extra water. (Extra tip: I sometimes decide to add a little baby cereal to the blended food to make it thicker, or more substantial.)
4. Pour into ice cube trays, freeze, bag into freezer bags labeled with what is inside and the date you made it. Each food will last about 6 months.

Three ice cubes are about the amount in an average baby food jar. Keely will eat two to three most times. When it comes time to feed her I just pop a couple of "ice cubes" into a bowl and microwave them, usually for about 30-40 seconds. If it is a little too warm I just let it cool some before feeding her. Keely loved pears, peaches, and zucchini the most. I made peaches today and she cooed at me the whole time she ate them.
Other great foods to start with are bananas and avocados which are already softened when they are ripe enough. When the banana is good and brown mash that thing up with a fork and your baby will get dessert! :) Our doctor suggested that a 6-8 month old might be ready to enjoy the following foods: applesauce, cooked cereals, bagels, arrowroot cookies, mashed potatoes, cottage cheese, fish , tuna, yogurt, cheese, soft chicken livers, teething biscuits, hard-boiled egg yolk, natural juice, and toast strips (should be cut into small pieces and should be either soft or very hard for teething. If it is a medium-crumbly texture, the baby may choke)
If you have had the joy of feeding a baby you probably already know that half of the food ends up on them as well as on the floor/ highchair, and sometimes they won't even eat most of the baby food. When I used to feed Preston baby food from a jar it would always bother me to have to throw the extra food out when he wouldn't eat very much. I have found that when I make my own and Keely just nibbles it does not bother me. It feels good to take care of my baby in this way. There is something very rewarding about seeing your baby enjoy food that you prepared. Try it and see for yourself. Then, tell us about it.

OR, if you have already tried making your own food, what have you made and how did your little ones like it? We'd love to hear from you.
keely%20messy.jpg

Monday: Chicken and Black Bean Enchilladas

Through reading Taste at Home magazine I got this basic idea, however I modified it to better fit our family (and what we had in the pantry!) When I announced that I was going to be modifying recipes my husband looked terrified. Let's face it~ my food is tolerable when I follow a recipe, so setting me free without one is a scary though. But I did good!! This was good! Really!!


The Basics of What you Need:
Whole Wheat Tortillas
Chicken (Cooked and Shredded)
4 to 8 oz of cream cheese
1/2- to 1 cup of plain yogurt
Black Beans
Salsa (I made pico de gallo)
Shredded cheese
CUMIN!!!

What to do:

1. Place cream cheese into a bowl. It helps to soften it up first. I used half of a 8oz bar of cream cheese (so, 4 oz). You could add as much or little as you like. Then, add in 1/2 to 1 cup of plain yogurt. I used two large chicken breasts. If you are using more then add more of the cream cheese and yogurt. Eye ball it!





2. Add your already cooked chicken. A good mixer will actually shred it up as long as the meat is nice and tender. Flavor with cumin and perhaps some cayenne pepper!

3. Add your black beans and mix well. Scoop the filling out and place a good amount onto a tortilla. Really fill that bad boy up!
4. Roll your tortillas up nice and neat. They will be fat so be careful not to rip them.
5. Make pico de gallo or salsa. This is going to go on top of your enchilladas when they are finished.
5. Cut up an avocado. You can make official gaucomole which is delicious. OR just smooch up an avocado real good. That will do too!
6. After getting your tortilla all rolled up sprinkle some cheese on it. We used cheddar because it is what we had. You could probably used just about anything.
7. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Spread your salsa on top and enjoy!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Give-Away Winners!

My son and I enjoyed the Kids Pack Choice cards over pancakes the other day! Speaking of which....here are the winners of our Family Tools give away!

Congratulations to MADMOMMY for winning the Kids Choice Pack!
Congratulations to APRIL for winning the Teen Pack!
Congratulations to PATRICIA L for winning the Family Pack!

Gals~ please send us an email at MealPlanning@live.com with a mailing address so that we may send you the packs.

And, to everyone else we truly enjoyed learning more about you. Loving the late night snacks suggestions and looking forward to our next give-away! (Coming soon).......

Meal Plan (March29-April 2)

I just received the new version of the Taste of Home magazine. Wow! I love the updated look and the new features. This week's meal plan features several recipes from Taste of Home April/May 2010 edition.

Here we go.....

Monday~ Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas
Tuesday~ White Chicken Chile Soup
Wednesday~ Mother-in-Law Wednesday (Tilapia!)
Thursday~ Bean and Barley Salad (with Pita's)
Friday~Waffles A la My Hubby



Ok, so everything but Mother in Law Wednesday and Waffles A La My Hubby came from the Taste of Home magazine. Seriously, it looked so good!!! I am eager to try out these recipes. However, I will be modifying the recipes to fit what we have in our pantry. I will post for you what we did differently, how it turned out and the actual recipe that Taste of Home published.


(Don't forget the GIVE-AWAY ends tonight! At 9pm Central!)