Tuesday, December 27, 2011

One Bag of Spuds: Four Meals


Here are four of my very favorite meals using potatoes as the staple ingredient. I often have a big bag of potatoes in the cellar. Ok, the pantry. I like the word cellar better. It makes me think old world life, living off of the land mountain woman style. I actually do have a cellar in my house, but currently it is where I am storing all of those tubs of stuff that I am not exactly sure what to do with as of yet. Two of those tubs are of little baby boy clothes. I have two wild and rowdy boys and a preciousdaughter on the way....but I can not yet part with those baby boy clothes...hmmm...

Anyway, back to potatoes. This year in my garden I grew potatoes. Correction, I tried to grow potatoes. No luck. I dug and dug and dug for those little red nuggets and not a single one was to be found. So, I buy em' in the bag on sale as much as possible and keep my fingers crossed for next season!
Potatoes can make some  frugal meals. Not only are the hearty, but they are mighty easy to fix up into something special. Below are my four favorite potato meals.

Number One: GNOCCHI
This is an incredibly easy dish that I like to prepare in the morning before the chaos begin, and boy does it ever begin....every morning...all day....chaos.....so it is good to have a warm Gnocchi to put on the table at dinner time with a little candlelight.

Number Two: Potato Taco's
The Heavenly Homemaker Blog, which this link will take you too, is one of my all time favorites. I first used this recipe while meal planning for a trip to Tennessee with my family this summer. We loved it and the best part is that you can spice it up and fix it any way that your family likes traditional taco type meals. Yum!
We have made this with beef, chicken, and often with just a bunch of black beans instead of meat. 

Number Three:Crock Pot Potato Soup 
I went back into the recipe index and found two potato soup recipes that I used to make. I am including the links, but will confess I no longer make my potato soup that way!
One Version of Crock Pot Potato Soup 
Another Version of Potato Soup
Here is how I make crock pot potato soup now:
1.Wake up and stretch, drink copious amounts of coffee while peeling potato and hoping the kids sleep an extra twenty minutes.
2. Toss enough cut up potatoes into the crock pot for my family, usually one spud per person.
3. Add chicken stock, a little salt and pepper.
4. Cook all day long making sure the potatoes stay covered in liquid, add a litlte water is needed.
5. Now~ sometimes I just add a bit of cream to this, mush up the potatoes, and serve. Other times, if I was able to get my hands on some local sausage I brown it up and add to the crock pot. This is my hubby's favorite and I agree it is delicious.
6. Serve in deep bowls with some corn bread.

Number Four:  Fish Cakes
These are made with potato and yet I often serve potato on the side too.....hey, it works!

And, for some very inspirational potato chopping techniques check this out! I did not even remember us posting this on MPM and I just came across it! It will make you crave a good batch of home made french fries!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Corn, Avocado, and Tomato Salad

Here's a fun little recipe that a mom brought to my Mom to Mom meeting a couple of weeks ago. It is simple to make, healthy, and it was a big hit at our meeting. Hope you all enjoy it as well!!

Salad Ingredients:

2 cups cooked corn, fresh or frozen
1 avocado, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup finely diced red onion

Dressing Ingredients:
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. grated lime zest
1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1/4 chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Combine the corn, avocado, tomatoes, and onion in a large glass bowl. Mix together the dressing ingredients in another bowl and pour over the salad. Gently toss to mix.
*(picture complements of www.lifewithcake.com)
This salad goes great with tortilla chips!! :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The most Delicious muffins on Earth!

Katie posted this awhile back, but since I am making them today I wanted to re-post them so you could all enjoy them too! If you have never made these muffins, you absolutely have to.... today.  They are sweet, moist and healthy! The combo of apples and carrots may sound strange to you (they did for me too!), but seriously, amazing!!!!  Perfect fall muffin!  Bake some, bake a lot- stick them in your freezer and pull them out for snack or breakfast time!  It's baking day for me!  

 Apple Carrot Muffins (a.k.a. the best muffins on earth!)

Do you ever have just a couple of carrots in your fridge, lingering, peering up at you wanting to be used, and you just keep ignoring them? I do!
So, if you happen to be like me then stop whatever you are doing and make these muffins now!

What you will need:

One apple
3-4 carrots (uncooked)
Pecans (about 1/2 cup) *optional
2 cups whole wheat flour (or white... whatever you have on hand!)
1 1/4 cup of sugar
3/4 Tsp baking soda
1 1/2 Tsp baking powder
1 cup of unsweetened coconut*optional
Pinch of salt
Couple shakes of cinnamon
3 Eggs
3/4 cup oil (i use yogurt or applesauce as as substitute)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup flax seed(optional)

What to do:

Step one: Peel your apple and carrots. Grate them. I used my great grandmothers grater. As I did this I wondered if she knew that someday it would be a staple in my kitchen and I would be using it to make muffins for her great-great grandsons. It made me think of her hands busy in her kitchen, which smelled permanently of pecan pie. It made me think of all the things that we don't need to buy new, but can use time and again for generations. But, if you don't have great-grannie's grater handy you can use a food processor. :)
Set aside when finished.

Step two: Place your pecans into a pan and cook them over the stove. Let them toast until a nice fresh aroma fills your kitchen. Cool and chop them up.

Step three: In a big bowl mix all your dry ingredients together. That would be your flour, baking powder, baking soda, coconut, sugar and toasted pecans.

Step four: In another bowl mix your oil, flax, egg, and vanilla together.

Step five: Add your apple/carrot shavings together with the wet ingredients. Stir. Now, add this to your dry ingredients. Stir.

TIP: Don't overmix your muffins. This will make them hard. Stir them just enough to have a decently blended batter.

Scoop the lumpy batter into muffin cups and bake at 350. I used the small muffin cups, cooked them for about 8 minutes (about 12 min. for regular size muffins) This recipe made 100 little muffins perfect for eating in the moment, sharing with friends, and freezing for later!

We found a special treat in putting a little dab of butter, followed by heap of peanut butter onto the piping hot muffin. MMMM, yummy!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Easy Baked Macaroni & Cheese

(straight from the Reggano Macaroni box) :)

8 oz. Reggano Elbow Macaroni
4 Tbs. butter
4 Tbs. flour
2 cups. milk
1/2 tsp. salt
fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (mild or sharp)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Prepare pasta as directed on package. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add flour mixed with salt and pepper, using a whisk to stir until well blended. Pour milk in gradually; stirring constantly. Bring to a boiling point and boil for 2 minutes (stirring constantly). Reduce heat and cook (stirring constantly) 10 minutes. Gradually add shredded cheddar cheese and simmer an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Turn off flame. Add macaroni to the saucepan and toss to coat with the cheese sauce. Transfer macaroni to a buttered baking dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake 20 minutes until the top is golden brown. Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Easy Apple Bake

The farmers market this morning had apples. I was shocked. This summer season is slipping away. Perhaps the sudden appearance of school buses in my neighborhood should have helped me bid farwell to summer, but alas it did not! Excitedly I bought several pounds of these darling looking green apples, with stems and leaves and all. Tonight for dinner I wanted to use them for something. We make apple sauce and we eat them raw....thats about it with my current apple creativity.

Get this~ if you dice up 3-4 apples, put them into a dish with a tad bit of water, 3/4 cups of honey, a handful of raisins, pinch of cinnamon, cover them and bake for...oh...about...twenty minutes...you will have the a real treat! 

Dice, mix, bake, serve...smile.....
I did not even think to take a picture! The entire dish is gone.
Perhaps the coming of autumn is a good thing!  MORE APPLES!!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Monday August 29th: Fish Cakes

Here is the scenario. I am upstairs with the boys. We are building blocks. We are playing demolition. The blocks are going up carefully and then with great gusto a wind of boyhood (in the form of Mussie and Finn) knock them down and repeat.

I thought, as all this was happening, that it was around 4 p.m.
The door opens downstairs. My husband home early?
We go running!

Nope, not early.....its half past six!

I had this dinner planned and really wanted it. I had never made salmon patties like this before. I thought, "what the heck?" we can eat late and went forth cooking.
Here is the amazing thing, this meal took less than twenty minutes to prepare. And, it was delicious.

The Salmon Patty recipe comes from Jamie Olivers Food Revolution website.  The difference with this salmon patty and others I have made before is that there is potato in the patty. It was crisp, flavorful, and hearty.

We served the patty with mashed potatoes (hey, its the frugal in me!), edamames , and home made ketchup.

My only complaint~ I wanted seconds and they were gone!

Highly recommend you check out this recipe. Fresh salmon is terrific, but canned works also with wonderful results! I bet you could use Tuna in too. If anyone tries it, let me know!

~ Katie

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A "Different" Guest Post...

Today we have a guest post from the very husband of one of the Meal Planning Mommies, Sarah Anderson.

Let me introduce you to my husband, Chadwick "Wick" Anderson. He is an incredibly supportive husband, intentional father and "out of the box" youth pastor who has recently published a great e-book for parents on Amazon.com!!!

Here is a brief synopsis:

Does this sound familiar?

You're sitting in a church service, reading the Bible, or at a conference of some sort and it hits you: you're not doing enough. Sure, you're busy. Your calendar is full 32 days a month, and you haven't had enough sleep since before Lamaze. But in the presence of others, sometimes you feel the peer pressure that your daily routine needs to involve a bit more Spiritual Disciplines.

You sigh, knowing that your days are already crazy full. You think about the week you've just survived, and wonder where in those hectic hours could you possibly find time to participate in something that will regularly nourish and grow your soul and relationship with God?

If only there was some sort of spiritual discipline that didn't require you to light candles and have an altar. Some sort of regular pattern of communing with God that didn't force you to give up the few minutes of alone time you've somehow managed to carve out of your day already. If only there was some way to redeem this journey of parenting, so that it became so much more than simply surviving, or even raising the neighborhoods greatest citizens.

These are just a few thoughts behind my recent book, “Different: How God Uses Parenting to Transform Us Wholly”, available to download for now through Amazon.com.

As someone in ministry, I would never devalue the traditional spiritual disciplines. Prayer, fasting, community worship, sacrificial living, tithes, etc. have all been incredible staples to growing in our relationships with God for thousands of years. The goal of my book is to help elevate the act of parenting to echo a bit more of what I believe God intended.

TONS of books have been written, and seminars taught on - the product of parenting. The end result is usually seen as either a well-developed and God-fearing child or family. But I want to suggest there's so much more to parenting than the child we raise or our growing families. There is a work God is performing in the heart, mind, and life of every parent that ever changed a diaper! If we're willing, God can use this 24/7 journey to transform us, and we will never be the same.

So if you'd like to learn more about how God can use every moment: from the midnight trips to the emergency room to the mythical nap times where legends of sleep exist; then download your copy of “Different” for $2.99 today!! This book is specifically for Kindles, but you can go here to download the FREE kindle for PC software and then you can read e-books on your computer.

While you're at it, check out my ongoing blog at: www.differentparent.com

And...just so that I fit in with the “Meal Planning Mommies”, here's a recipe I'd made for dessert at home tonight! It's for baked pears a la mode!! As you can tell, I multiplied the recipe times 5, in order to make 10 halves instead of 2 (although I did not increase the cooking temperature or time, in case that was confusing). I used a melon baller to remove the core, and clear out the pear pieces. It's easy to make, and delicious warm with vanilla ice cream!! A perfect accessory to sitting down with a great e-book. :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Coffee for Nan!

Hi Friends,

I have not been meal planning much these days and to be honest my kitchen and table have been hectic! Just last week I vowed to Sarah and Alisha that I was going to start meal planning again for my own sanity. We have been eating a lot of pancakes in our house, and you know, that is alright! But, its time to give the griddle a rest and serve something with a least a dash of organization. :)

I wanted to take a moment to share something really neat with you, something on the heart of this Momma. My family is in the process of adopting.  Our eldest son, The Moose, came to us first from Ethiopia, Africa four year ago. Next, I birthed our second son, BooBoo Chicken, and the family really started to get rowdy and fun! We were not, are not, finished creating our family. The Lord has faithfully led us down the path of adoption again and we are so excited. I have written about our adoption, and the little sunshine that may be coming home soon on my personal blog~ Subrabia. 

We are fundraising for our adoption to help offset the cost of the paperwork, fees, and travel.  I am not asking that anyone give money, but I would like to point you in the direction of this link in case you are already a coffee hound like myself. If you already drink coffee, perhaps consider switching your daily Java to this brand for a time. We make $5.00 off of each pound purchased. All the coffee is fair trade and delicious! Each pound that you buy goes directly to helping bring our daughter home.

The coffee can be purchased through our store at: www.justlovebeans.com/brabsonsbeans
The coffee of the week is Sunshine Roast! It is delicious, smooth, and a favorite!

Thanks for all the prayers and support.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Garden Fresh Tortilla Lunch

I know I have not blogged on MPM in a long time! In part due to being very busy this summer with my family, our garden, and the pursuit of  some mega changes in the way we structure our days. Every now and then, though, I think, " this meal ought to be shared". And, today I happened to have the camera and snap a picture before our lunch was devoured.

The really cool thing about this meal is that many of the ingredients came from our garden. That was exciting for us! And, there is no better way to get your kids to eat their veggies than to include them in the growing process. The growing and tending to our own food is how we have eaten for thousands of years (not to mention foraging and hunting). So, something as simple as a little back yard garden speaks to us in a way that we understand down deep in our psyche. It is simple and good, strangely like a balm to the soul of the modern busy mind. Growing our own food is more than just amazing fresh produce, more than stewardship, more than incredibly frugal....its really about our purpose.

If you do not have a garden, consider it next year. Sometimes small. Container gardening even!
Borrow land from a friend. Do a community garden. Join a CSA. Visit your farmers market. Ask your supermarket manager to buy local farm fresh food. Pick your own.
There are so many ways to get in touch with the food on your plate.

And, enjoy preparing it. Include the kids. Take your time. Savor the process of cooking, preparing, presenting your meals.
It is not just food....it is food!
Survival! Celebration! Tradition! Food is important! Value it!

Um.....Oh geesh, really trully, I did not mean to go into all of that. I can not help it. This is exciting stuff for me.

Anyway, easy and lovely lunch.

We started with a sprouted grain tortilla. Spread it with avocado. Added sprouts, cucumbers, tomatoes, and a splash of lemon juice. Folded it up.
And whala! A nice, crisp, satisfying lunch.

Hope it inspires you to eat sometihng fresh and raw and delicious today.  If you have ideas to share please do!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Passing on cute 4th of July ideas...

Have you ever seen something that was so cute that you had to tell all your friends? Yeah, me too. Check these 4th of July breakfasts out that Be Different...Act Normal blogger posted. LOVE IT!!!!!!!!
Love it!! Love it!! Love it!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

So... What's for Lunch?

I am currently sitting down to meal plan and am totally struggling to come up with some different lunch ideas! We seem to always fall back on the typical: Mac n' Cheese, Hot Dogs, P.B. Sandwiches, Sandwiches, Quesadillas, Chicken Nuggets....

I don't know about you, but I am needing a lunch make-over! I am so tired of the same thing!

Now that summer is here, I am sure many of you are struggling with the same thing. We need to help each other out! For at least a year I have been saying (As Katie and Alisha have also...) that we need to put together a "go-to" lunch idea list. This won't be a list of "recipes", but instead it will be a list of ideas to put on your meal plan for lunch.

It would be great if we had lots of participation!!! So, put your creative thinking caps on, and share with us!

Comment and give us your favorite lunch ideas that we can add to our "go-to" lunch list!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Cake Pops

My kids and I first caught onto the cake pop craze while visiting Starbucks on rainy afternoons here in the Midwest. And, then I found this book.....which although I do not own yet I plan too for nothing but the sheer fun of it!

Sarah and I got together on Wednesday with our small herd of youngins and we decided to really kick off summer. Both of us have been feeling summer days passing us by too quickly, so we made lemonade, wore bathing suits in the yard, brought out the water toys, and made cake pops!

Here is the thing with cake pops....(and I do not mean the fancy adorable Katie could never do those kind ones).......

1. They are incredibly easy to make.
2. Kids love putting them together.
3. They are versatile, you can look at my recipe, but can easily use your own cake recipe. .
4. They are even more fun to eat. Cake, on a stick. Proud that this invention is in my generation. :)

We started by baking a cake.
I made a basic white cake.
4 egg whites
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil
1 3/4 cup Rapadura (sugar)
1 1/3 cup cultured buttermilk

Mix the dry. Mix the wet. Put em' together. Botta bing, botta boom. Bake it until done in the center, which is about 45 minutes at 350 degrees......

Let it cool. This is important. You can even put it into the fridge for a while.

Then, let the fun begin.
1. Break up your cake into lots of little crumblies. The kids loved this.
2. Mix in some jam. Lots of people use icing. I bet that is delicious. I used raspberry jam and it turned out great. Basically you need something in there that is going to be sticky and hold that cake together in nice little ball of deliciousness. I do not know how much jam I used...maybe a half cup.....eye ball it.....
3. Stir it all together and then start forming the balls. Really get your hands dirty!
4. Pop the sticks into the cake balls. We dipped the ends in melted chocolate to help them stay in the cake balls. This worked great, not sure if you must do it though....

5. Stop the progress, take a break, and put them in the freezer for at least a half and hour.
6. Meanwhile, melt chocolate of your choice. We melted on really lovely pack of dark chocolate and then in another pot we melted an uneaten chocolate Easter bunny. Both turned out great !
7. Dip your pops in that chocolate, roll them around, decorate them if you like.

Eat up!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A quick message of perseverance for moms.

Everything you do matters. Even when you can't see where God is at work, you can trust that he is. Check out this tidbit I read from one of my favorite blogs.

"We need time for our faith to grow. When we plant seeds, we can't repeatedly dig them up and pull them out of the ground to see if they are growing. We have to leave them in the ground. Those planted seeds (that we can no longer see) need to be watered by our faith. During the process we must learn to be content with seeing nothing while knowing that God holds everything in His hands, and that He moves on every act prompted by our faith, as the Scripture says."
-Susie Larson
This visual application seemed incredibly relevant to me today, as a mom of young children in a season where seeds are planted, but the fruit has yet to show itself. Keep watering your plants dear mommies. Hold onto your faith, persevere through the rough seasons, and praise God in the good seasons. Hope this message is encouraging and uplifting for you. Praying God's blessing on you today!!

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tikka Masala

I love curry.
On a cruise a few months ago I ordered an Indian dish rather than lobster. Our waiter who was born in a small town in India (and could not wait to go home to his wife and family!) was very pleased that I liked Indian food. From that night on he brought me all sorts of dishes for my palate to try.. It was an experience in Indian food that I will not soon forget and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to have tasted and shared in a piece of his beautiful homeland.

I am far from India.
I am far from the sea. 

What does a Midwestern gal do when she has a real hankering for some Indian food?

She opens the package, thats what!

So, this little package is full of flavor and it turned some chopped veggies into a mighty fine meal!

I chopped up/added:

Sauted them in a little coconut oil until tender and added the tikka masala package to the pot.
After letting this infuise together for about ten minutes I served this over brown rice.
With ia little bit of cultured sour cream on top.

My oh my.....delicious, healthy, and frugal!

You could easily add meat to this, but it was hearty and wholesome without as well.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Meal Plan May 23-28

Ever since returning from our vacation in April I have struggled with getting back into meal planning. Either I had the plan and did not keep it, or I found myself tossing things together last minute with cranky hungry boys at my feet. The first makes for a nasty dent in the wallet and the second makes for a grumpy mommy!  To make sure that neither happen I have plunged back into meal planning with a lot of hope that it will bring some peace into my kitchen, leaving me more time for...well....everything else!

Here is our meal plan for this week. I have included my breakfast, lunch and dinner plan for you.  I am excited as we spent $35 at the store this week and I managed to create this meal plan from that and what I already had in my kitchen. Kids eat free at our dinner out, so that meal will be under fifteen dollars, which means an entire weeks meals for less than $50.  The grains stretch and they make for very frugal meals. The produce I am using this week all has come from our garden except for the bananas and apples.. The eggs and meat are local and we hit it big today with clearances at our organic food store, this made the hubby very happy!

Breakfast~ Oatmeal with bananas 
Lunch~Sprouted grain tortillas with raw milk cheese and salsa, grilled
Dinner~  vegetable Tikka Masala over brown rice

Breakfast~ Green Smoothies and whole grain  pumpkin muffins
Lunch~ Spinach salad (spinach, chickpeas, corn, bacon, tomatoes, and ranch dressing)
Dinner~ Bike Ride to our favorite Mexican Restaurant for some yummy nacho's

Breakfast~ Eggs and fresh english muffins
Lunch~ leftover Tikka Masala in pita pockets
Dinner~ Spaghetti and Greens

Breakfast~ Green Smoothies, sourdough toast, and cereal
Lunch~ Ham and Cheese Sandwiches
Dinner ~Lentil Sloppy Joes

Breakfast~ Ham and Cheese Eggs
Lunch~ Radish, Blue Cheese and Arugula Tortillas
Dinner~ Spicy Potato Kale Soup

Breakfast (Garage sale morning!) Green Smoothies and Doughnuts!
Lunch~ Leftover from this past week!
Dinner~ Egg Sandwiches....our weekend favorite!

Snacks~ We are still in our trail mix phase. The boys have been making their own using a mixture of: banana chips, honey roasted peanuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, chocolate chips, and raisins.  In addition to trail mix apples are the staple snack around here......

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Meal Plan May 1-May 6

My busy boys out on yet another rainy day!

It has been a long time since any of us gals have posted our actual meal plan.  This week my family and I have really been enjoying our meals and I decided to go back to my old ways and share the dinner plan!

Sunday~ Pinto  Beans and Cornbread (recipe coming soon!)
On Saturday night I set my beans out and soaked them with apple cider vinegar.  I also began my corn bread, which is homemade and amazing. It is the one thing I think I actually make well. I use whole grain kamut and dried corn kernels, grind them together, soak them in kefir, and let it sit overnight. I add the rest of the ingredients an hour before time to eat, blend, and cook with butter in a cast iron skillet. Oh, Mama, it is the real stuff.  My husband also made homemade cheese sticks to go along side this. Yum!

Monday~ Quesedillas with Leftover Beans
On Monday I made quesedillas by filling a sprouted grain tortilla with the leftover red beans from yesterdays meal along with cheese. I fried them up in coconut oil and served a mango and yogurt to go along on side. This was a good way to use up those beans and it did not feel like we were eating leftovers.

Tuesday~  Fresh Cauliflower Soup (recipe coming soon!)  and Cornbread
The leftover cornbread from Sunday's meal got used today and in one of my favorite soups. This soup needs this cornbread. They are an amazing combination. There is also somethign about this cornbread, two days old, that makes it the perfect companion for a hot bowl of creamy soup.

Wednesday~ All-Beef Hotdogs, sprouted grain buns, Edamames, and Yogurt.

Thursday~ Cinco De Mayo Feast, Homemade tortilla chips, pico de gallo, gaucomole, and spiced ground beef, smothered in cheese....
We have tons of ideas in our recipe index that are different variations of this meal or type of dish.

Friday~ Dip Night. Hummus. Leftover Guacomole from Cinco de Mayo. Ranch. With veggies, crakcers, cheese, and fruits. Easy, light, and fun with a family movie.  Dip night continues with fondue for desert !

Saturday~ Out to Eat

The official snack of our house this week was created by my almost five year old son. In a honey roasted peanut craze came up with his own trail mix and it is addicting! He added honey roasted peanuts, banana chips, raisins, and dark chocolate chips together in a big bowl. We have all been turning to this for our snacks!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Whole Grain Sugar Cookies

We are now going on day fourteen million of rain. Ok, that might be an exaggeration, but it feels that way.  The dudes and I were feeling a little cooped in today so we brought the party home......cookie time. Big, messy, doughy, flour on the floor, sticky fingers everywhere, pour some cold milk to dunk cookie party! The rain stayed, we opened the windows, and ate until the rain seemed a little less dreary.

Barley Sugar Cookies 

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup coconut oil 
1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp baking soda 
3/4 cup sugar (rapadura)
1/2 tsp salt
1tbs vanilla 
1 tbs fresh squeeze lemon juice 
1 egg 
1 1/2 cups fresh barley flour 
1/2 cup kamut, whole wheat, or white whole wheat
1/3 cup thick yogurt or sour cream 

In a mixing bowl cream butter, coconut oil, baking powder, soda, sugar, salt and vanilla together.
Add the lemon juice and the egg, beat together.
Add the flours and stir. The dough will begin to get thicker.
Add the sour cream or yogurt. We used homemade greek style yogurt today with great results.

The dough may need a little extra flour. I ended up adding a dash here and there to give it the correct consistency.

Cover the bowl and let this dough rest overnight in the refrigerator , or for at least seven hours. Once the dough has had a good rest, thickened up, and chilled really nicely you can roll it out and use cookie cutters to bring delight and joy to your kiddos.

Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. 

I do not have much luck making really good sugar cookies. They either taste great, but the shapes do not come out right or the shapes come out and they taste terrible. This recipe has worked for me every time. The cookies are soft, more cake like, and perfectly rich. The original recipe comes from one of my favorite recipe books, King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking. I did some minor "tweeking" such as adding coconut oil, using rapadura rather than sugar, omitting the nutmeg which the recipe calls for, and using yogurt rather than sour cream only because that is what I had on hand. I bet the sour cream would be amazing too.

The cookie cutters we used, cars and trains, came from Ann Clark Cookie Cutters. They did a give away with us a while back and a guest post. I adore their cookie cutters!

Embrace the mess. Make some cookies!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sausage "Gravy" and Biscuits: A Healthy Twist

My boys love sausage gravy and biscuits. And, when I say love I mean my four year makes sure to mark on his calendar the days we are going to Grandma's so that he can look forward to his favorite breakfast meal! I have struggled making this dish since we switched over to whole foods as we do not use basic white flour anymore. The gravy that I have tried to make with whole grain is well, yuck. By accident I created a gravy the other day and served it over sourdough toast. I have since made it again and my family inhales it happily.

The gravy is flourless!

And, this is not a specific recipe, like gravy, you add a little here and a little there to make it the consistency that your family enjoys.

2-4 potatoes, peeled and boiled until soft 
Chicken stock, 1/2 cup (give or take) 
Whole milk, 1/2 cup (give or take) 
Ground sausage 
A really good blender

What to do:
1. Boil your potatoes until soft and smooshable.....
2. In a really good blender put your drained potatoes and add just a bit of the broth and milk.
Go ahead and blend. Add more chicken broth and milk as you see fit to give this the consistency you like.
3. Meanwhile, cook your sausage in a skillet. Drain if you like.
4. Add the "gravy" to the sausage, heat together, salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over what your family likes. We have enjoyed this over spelt biscuits  and sourdough toast. Pretty darn good for a grain free gravy!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Guest Post: The Mommy Teacher

Hi Meal Planning Mommies!  My name is Jessica also known as The Mommy Teacher.  The Mommy Teacher is a blog that teaches parents about their child's development, one activity at a time. It is a free, online resource for moms and dads of young children to work with their kids each day in a FUN and meaningful way. 
I love to cook and keep a meal plan too, but my area of expertise is teaching parents of young kids how to extend their little one’s learning.  Cooking with children is one way to do that; it can be extremely beneficial in so many areas:  teaching measurement concepts, allowing for science exploration, reading & writing recipes, developing life skills, and more.

Maybe you already cook with your children, but I have a couple suggestions to pack this experience full of learning opportunities.
Before starting, read a book like “The Little Red Hen” “Pete’s a Pizza” or another book that prepares your little one for the process and purpose of cooking or baking in a fun and meaningful way.
First, write out the recipe WITH your little one on a large piece of paper, and then read each ingredient as you pull it out.  Ask them questions and give them clues “What ingredient do you think starts with the sound /m/?” (milk!) This will give you a chance to model reading and writing for your little one.

Next, measure each ingredient WITH your little one so that they have the chance to experience measuring for accuracy and to observe large and small amounts and they will naturally observe science in action as dough rises and ingredients mix together, etc.
Finally, let your little one take on as much ownership as you are willing to share: stirring, spreading, sprinkling, watching the timer, or whatever your recipe calls for.

Jessica Cook, The Mommy Teacher

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Alisha's famous Deviled Egg recipe in time for Easter

EVERY time I make deviled eggs for a group there is ALWAYS at least one person who asks for the recipe. They are good. I am telling you!

Recipe for the eggcellent (I had to do it) deviled eggs:
1 dozen eggs
1Tbs. milk
1 Tbs. Apple Cider vinegar
2 Tbs. sugar
1/4 cup mayo

And a close up of the cutie deviled egg ideas I got from my Family Fun magazine...

Red Devil Eggs
Red Devil Eggs

1. 3/4-inch red bell pepper strips
2. Half of an egg, sliced lengthwise

Chick Eggs
Chick Egg Variation

1. Sprig of flat parsley inserted into a small slit
2. Top third of an egg sliced crosswise
3. Capers
4. Two small bits of carrot
5. Bottom portion of the egg
6. Small round of the egg sliced from the bottom to keep the chick upright
7. Carrot coin with edges trimmed to resemble toes

And now for my fave...Egg Baskets
Egg Baskets

1. 4- by 1/8-inch length of celery soaked in ice water 10 minutes to make it pliable
2. Small sprigs of curly parsley
3. Two-thirds of an egg, sliced crosswise
4. Small round of the egg sliced from the bottom to keep the basket upright

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Here's a little game you can play with your family, when your kids are trying to dart from the table and you haven't even begun eating yet. :) My 5 year old and I came up with this one. I hope it fosters a fun environment at your table when you try to implement it!

You start by singing the first part to an easy kid's song, like "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" or "If you're happy and you know it". Then you take turns changing the last part of the stanza.

For example, I would say, "If you're happy and know it bark like a dog". Then, Preston would say, "If you are happy and you know it, scratch your head." We keep trying to one-up each other, being sillier than the person before us.

Preschoolers LOVE this game. It's cheesy, but what 3-5 year old doesn't love cheesy?

Extra little hint: If you have kids who are fussy about trying their food you can say, "Okay, everyone take one bite and then we'll let ___________ have a turn".

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesday: Wild Rice Soup in the Crock Pot

I used to be afraid to experiment in the kitchen. Mostly, because it irks me to have something come out terrible and feel that I wasted money and food on some silly culinary attempt. Of recent, however, I have been forced to be more creative in the kitchen. In order to be a good steward with my grocery budget I am working very hard to use what I have rather than run out to the grocery store on a whim for nachos....which I used to do...a lot.....

Now, believe me, we still eat nachos. However, for the most part now I know we are going to be eating them (on Thursday night actually!).  With meal planning I have learned to have a more organized kitchen. This means that I know there are twelve ziplock bags of summer squash still in my freezer waiting to be used, hopefully, before the next summers squash is ready for the picking!

Thus, this recipe. I created it today because when I made my meal plan on Monday morning I simply wrote that today was: Rice.
This meant that I needed to use some of the fifty pounds of bulk brown rice I have in my pantry along with other things that I have in my pantry.

In the crock pot this morning I put:
2 Cups of long grain wild rice 
2 cups of brown rice (that I had soaked in apple cider vinegar the night before) 
Several diced up stalks of celery 
Several diced up carrots 
Red onion 
Four cups of water  
Several cups of frozen zuchinni and squash from this past summmer

I let this cook for several hours and began adding more water as I saw fit. The rice, even such a small amount will soak up water like hot cakes so I advise that you do not leave your house without making sure you have enough that you will not burn anything in your crock pot if all the water is soaked up quicker than you think!

All day long this simmered away in my crock pot. At dinner time I stirred it, added a few more dashes of sea salt and put it into bowls. I also sprinkled some Braggs Nutritional Yeast on top of the soup, which gives a cheese flavor (but is non dairy). I served this with homemade rustic muffins thanks to my sourdough monster Hershel.
It was so delicious that I am eating it again a few hours later as I type this! The entire family enjoyed this simple meal.

Plus~ you could totally make this your own depending on what you like and have on hand. Some thoughts of things that might be tasty additions:

Ground Turkey or Beef 
Addition of another grain such as millet 
Other root vegetables such as turnip or potato 
Green beans 
Variety of different spices

Wonderful, nutritious, crock pot meal we are sure to use again! It was also very frugal and the recipe I gave above made a HUGE batch. We will eat this again this week, but I am going cook some ground turkey with it for variety and serve it with sourdough pitas. 

Many blessings,


Monday, April 11, 2011

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup=6 Points Plus Points

LOVE THIS RECIPE!!!I just made this recipe for lunch today and it is so good! This recipe comes from my Pampered Chef "It's Good for You!" Cookbook pg.35. My family loves it, I love it, and I think you will love it too! 


2 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
1-2 lemons
2 Tbls snipped fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 (10 3/4 oz) can 98% fat-free reduced-sodium condensed cream of chicken soup
3 (14 1/2 oz) cans 100% fat-free chicken broth
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2/3 cup uncooked long-grain white rice

1. Chop chicken, carrots and onion using Food Chopper. Zest one lemon using Lemon Zester/Scorer to measure 1 teaspoon zest. Finely snip zest using Kitchen Shears. Juice lemons using Juicer to measure 1/4 cup juice. Snip parsley using Kitchen Shears; set aside.

2. Heat Professional (4-qt) Casserole over medium heat until hot. Lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add carrots, onion and garlic pressed with Garlic Press; cook and stir 2 minutes. Stir in chicken, lemon zest, juice, soup, chicken broth and black pepper; bring to a boil. Stir in rice; reduce heat. Cover; simmer over low heat 15-20 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from heat; stir parsley into soup just before serving.

Makes 8 servings. (1-1/3 cups each)
1 serving= 6 Weight Watchers Points Plus Points

****Update: Thanks Chef Competition at Home, for the picture...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

On Vacation!

My family is on vacation this week in Arizona. I will not be posting, but I did think this morning that perhaps a trip down Tortilla Soup lane was in order.

Tortilla Soup is wonderful, easy breezy to make and also gives you a second option for dinner that week.

A few days after enjoying your Tortilla Soup strain the broth out (you can freeze it for a later meal!) and place the remaining soup (chicken, beans, corn, onion) onto tortillas. Fry them up with some coconut oil, dollop them with some sour cream and you have a meal!

Here is my tortilla soup recipe, easy to tweek to make it your own! Feel free to visit our recipe index too, which we are still updating, to find more wonderful southwest inspired meals from all of us.

Some examples:

Katie's Quinoa and Black Beans
Katie's Chicken Enchiladas and Black Beans
Alisha's Tex Mex Salsa Chicken in the Crock Pot
Alisha's Black Bean and Mango Tostada
Sarahs Mexican Cornbread Pizza
Sarahs Mexican Mac and Cheese in the Crock Pot

There are many more in the recipe index!

Have a wonderful spring week. Many blessings!


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Gnowfglins E-Course : Formula for Daily Whole Grain Sourdough Bread in Minutes!

For just $11 you can sign up for one month of the Gnowfglins Sourdough E-course, which will also get you instructional videos, recipes, and very thorough guides into the world of whole foods. I joined in order to find creative ways to use my discarded sourdough starter, but I found a lifesaver instead.

Ok, imagine freshly baked sourdough bread every sing day in moments......

Want to serve up the best tasting sourdough english muffins in the world in oh....lets say...five minutes?

How about cinnamon rolls that will melt in your mouth?

Pita bread in less time than it takes to put lunch on the table?

GNOWFGLINS has taken the wonderful concept of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and made it sourdough and whole grain.
Once a week I add flour, water, and salt into my bucket with a little reserve sourdough from the previous week and BAM....ready to go dough for the entire week. It has transformed our kitchen!

I highly recommend the GNOWFGLINS E-Course for everything on there, but the formula  for the easiest way to have fresh baked sourdough goods can be found in the No Knead Bread e-course and it is fantastic!

":Hershel" ready for the weekly feeding of flour, water, and salt so that he can transform into bread, rustic muffins, pitas, and rolls!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Chocolate Graham Crackers

I have said before that my family is into crackers. Some people are into fine wine. Others have a palate for a perfectly grilled steak. What makes my family tick? Crackers.

This means that I have been testing out all sorts of cracker recipes, including some attempts of my own, to discover delicious crackers that can please the masses...or at least the four of us.

This past week I baked Chocolate Graham Crackers and today I find myself making them yet again. We devoured them. They were amazing.
The recipe comes from one of my all time favorite cookbooks, King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking.
Everything I ever try from this book comes out just right and we have never made anything from this cookbook that we did not like.

I did tweek the recipe just a bit. I will give my version in italics.

1 cup whole barley flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
I did not use the unbleached flour. Instead I used 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat along with the barley flour.
1 cup dutch-process cocoa (I used natural process cocoa and liked the results!)
1 cup brown sugar (I used rapadura)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (mine was salted)
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbs vanilla

All you have to do is combine the flours, cocoa, sugar, powder, and salt in mixing bowl with the paddle attachment. You could also use a food processor or good old fashioned pasty cutter. 

Cut in the butter. 

Stir in the wet ingredients. And, knead or mix until smooth. 

Divide the dough into two sections.

Roll out onto baking sheets (I have found stone works best).  You can roll them out anywhere between 1/8 and 1/16 inch thick. Really it is however you like the cracker to be, thin and crispy or thicker and cakier. 
I go ahead and use a pizza cutter to cut my crackers. I use a fork to poke decorative holes in them for fun. 
Chill the dough in the fridge for one hour. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes. 

Enjoy warm with a cold glass of milk! These last for several days in a air-tight container as long as you can keep your hands off them! 

*Note~ I like to soak my grains prior to baking with them. This recipe did not call for the soaking of grains and I have yet to adapt it. If anyone has a good adaptation of this recipe with soaking I would love it if you shared! I will keep working on my own adaptation and share when something works! That could be a while..... :) 

Baby Finn NOT holding still for a photo as he ate his new favorite snacking cracker.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sloppy Lentils

Sunset over the ocean. I love this. And, a good crock pot meal.

Each week my meal plan includes several dishes that feature beans and lentils. This is because they can be incredibly delicious, are a source of wonderful nutrition and are a means to serving a frugal meal. Aside from their versatility one thing that I really appreciate about beans and lentils is how far they can be stretched. Just one cup can go such a long way. I order my beans and lentils in bulk from a natural food co-op in my community.  Ordering in bulk provides my family with a lot of savings and we reduce the amount of packaging that we are responsible for, which was one of our Earth Day Manifesto goals from last year. Hey, every little bit helps!

It also means, however, that in my pantry there are giant tubs of beans. Sometimes this can be a little bit draining. I think to myself, "What in the heck can a gal do with more lentils than my body weight?".......

Thus far I have only been using lentils for the most part in two recipes.
Mojardra and Spicy Lentil and Greens Soup which can both be found in our Recipe Index.

Yesterday a part of my meal plan was to include a crock pot meal that I came across on Passionate Homemaking. As it is not my meal and I only modified the type of vinegar used I am simply going to link you there. If you like lentils you really might like this. If you like sloppy joes you really might like this. If you are considering trying lentils, but are not so sure if your family will enjoy them, this may be a good starting place. It is a fantastic way to feature the little lentil in a flavor packed way!


My entire family loved this. It took moments to prepare, stick in the crock and was aromatic all day long through out the house, something we enjoy.

Many blessings!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Whole Foods Resources


There is no reason for me to repeat (probably poorly and with grammatical errors!) that which is already out there in cyberspace on really great websites! Here is a list of some of my most favorite websites which have fantastic recipes using whole foods, lots of encouraging and wonderful information and are ever growing resources.

Kitchen Stewardship 


Passionate Homemaking

The Nourishing Gourmet 

Chickens in the Road

Heavenly Homemakers

Nourishing Days 

Heartland Renaissance

Keeper of the Home

There are hundreds more of wonderful quality and creativity that you can find links to through these that I have listed. In fact, it can get a bit crazy! Have fun reading and learning!


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Avocado Pudding (That screams Chocolate!)

Overall I am not a big fan of hiding healthy food in something disquised as a treat. I like my family to know what they are eating, appreciate it for what it is, and learn to like it. But~ let's be real~ it is not always going to happen that way! There are going to be foods that our children (or perhaps our spouses!) are dead set against.

My oldest son used to love avocados. Until a few months ago that is. Just one day he announced that he did not like them anymore and that was that. Momma has tried them as guacomole, in salad, grilled with cheese, salt and peppered, and on top of soup. Its not happening. Well, as far as he knows.....

Today I made chocolate pudding.
There was not actually any chocolate in the pudding.
It was not actually pudding.
But, no one could tell. They liked it. They ate it. They asked for more.
Inside my head I let loose a miniacal laugh. I just got my family to eat raw avocado without their knowing. Moo-hoo-hahaha! Moo-hoo-hahah!

And, here we go in case you also find yourself in need of a recipe to help the avocado (which is terrilby good for your body) go down without a fight.

2 RIPE avocados 
1/2 cup (or even a bit less depending on how sweet you want it) blue agave syrup 
1/4 cup of carob powder 
2 to 4 tbs coconut milk (I used four to make it a bit creamier) 
1 tbs vanilla 
pinch of salt 
pinch of cinnamon 

While no one is look add the following into your blender. Turn on high and watch green avocado magically turn into chocolate pudding before your eyes....

"Oh, darlings!", you say with a smile. "Momma has a special treat for you all today!"

Serve and laugh. Moo-hoo-hahaha! And, then eat some yourself.

This is called Chocolate Pudding.  As a lover of my Jello brand cook-n-serve puddings made with milk I will tell you that this does NOT taste like that. There is a comfort factor in that little box of Jello pudding that is not in this recipe. However, it is lovely and good and delicious and a great way sneak in some healthy avocado for anyone currently on a strike of the little green powerhouse.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Leftover Oatmeal Blackberry Bread

Yesterday we had oatmeal for breakfast. I had several cups leftover so I stuck them into the fridge to save. This morning I ate a bowl of leftover oatmeal which tasted just as good as yesterday when heated on the stove with a little bit of milk and butter. Still, I had two cups of oats leftover. 

Thus, the invention of Leftover Oatmeal Blackberry Bread! I did a little internet research and found a great blog with an leftover oatmeal muffin recipe.  I tweeked this recipe a bit to match what we had in our pantry and to use my sourdough starter. You could follow the recipe below without using sourdough, but if you do have a sourdough monster at home this worked nicely as a way to discard today's starter without wasting it.

2 Cups of Leftover Oatmeal 
3/4 cup milk or buttermilk 
1 Egg
2 TBS melted butter or coconut oil 
2 TBS warmed honey or maple syrup 
1/2 cup sourdough starter 
1 1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/4 tsp salt 
1 cup blackberries (frozen from summer!) 

Mix all the above together and bake in a shallow dish or make muffins too!

I did not soak this sough. I believe, however, that it could be soaked easily by letting the flour and sourdough soak together for 7-24 hours before adding in the remaining ingredients and baking. I will be giving this a try. None the less, it was a very tasty morning snack for our family. My four year old asked if it could be his birthday cake. Little sweetie. He will quickly forget this bread the next time he sees a shiny red Lighting McQueen cake!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Baby Step: High Fructose Corn Syrup

It all began with high fructose corn syrup. One day the Lord spoke to my heart about food. I was feeling physically run down, unhealthy, guilty, and sluggish. I read the words:

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalms 139:14

And, it dawned on me that if God indeed made our bodies with such great care (and I believe he did!) then he would also have made food to support those very bodies. God did not intend for us to be sluggish and sickly. God made us to be vibrant and alive!

I looked in my pantry. The foods that I was eating and feeding my family were far from foods that spoke to me the words VIBRANT and ALIVE! Now, do not get me wrong my pantry was full of foods that I liked to eat, things I even thought were healthy options. But, if I was eating correctly then why did my body feel so old?

At this point I had no knowledge of whole foods. I simply had heard a lot of negative things about high fructose corn syrup and decided to do a little research myself.
After reading I came to the decision that my first step towards having a kitchen that perhaps could help my body feel vibrant and alive would be to eliminate high fructose corn syrup.

This was not as easy as I thought. I became a label reader, not for calories, but for corn syrup. I found that almost everything we were eating had HFCS in it! And, something about that scared me a bit. We were consuming this very processed ingredient in things we never thought would contain it. But, I stuck to my guns and did my best to get the HFCS out of our diet.

This first baby step did the following:
~ Made me very aware that we were eating things I did not even know I was serving. And, strengthened a resolve in me to be an informed consumer. 
~ Created a desire in me to learn about the ingredients in the food I was consuming and question if that ingredient was really necessary in our diet. 
~ Opened my eyes to already available alternative foods that my family would like a lot. 
~ With success in getting the HFCS out of the kitchen I felt encouraged to take the next baby step in getting our family off of processed foods and eating a nourishing diet of whole foods.

Choosing one things to avoid, such as HFCS, can be a great way to take a baby step toward a whole foods kitchen. Even it that is not your ultimate goal, eliminating one ingredient that you believe is unhealthy for your family is an empowering first step towards being an informed eater.

So, to my sister, and anyone else that is interested in transforming their kitchen one step at a time beginning with eliminating one ingredient such as HFCS is a manageable place to start!

Baby Step Number One: Eliminate HFCS from your diet. You can choose to do it this very week or more slowly depending on how your family will respond best. Remember, you want to make a commitment that you can keep so that you are encouraged and can press on to your goal!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Pineapple Pork Chops

My mother-in-law bought me the "Biggest Loser Family" Cookbook for Christmas last year. I would definitely recommend this cookbook. Lots of great recipes. Here's one of them.

    Olive Oil spray

    4 (4 ounce) trimmed boneless pork loin chops
    1 teaspoon of garlic powder
    salt to taste
    ground black pepper to taste
    8 teaspoons of Ken's Steak House honey teriyaki marinade and sauce (I used "Masterpiece Marinade)
    4 slices of canned pineapple in juice, drained

Preheat the broiler. Line a small baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with olive oil.

Lightly mist both sides of the chops with olive oil and season with the garlic powder, salt and pepper. Place the chops, not touching, on the prepared baking sheet and broil about 3" from the heat for about 2 minutes 9be sure to leave the oven door open a crack when broiling.) Turn the chops and brush or spread 2 teaspoons of the teriyaki marinade evenly over the top of each. Top with the pineapple slices. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes longer, or until the pineapple and glaze brown lightly and the pork is barely pink inside. Serve immediately.One 4 oz. pork chop=5 Weight Watchers points plus value.
Add 1/2 plate full of vegetables with this meal. I just served mine with green beans.

Makes 4 servings

Number of Servings: 4