Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Reflections on my Children Growing Up

This summer both of my kids have grown by leaps and bounds. My oldest is just slightly taller than I am and the youngest is getting closer and closer. Not to mention the oldest is now in the church youth group. Youth group? How did THAT happen? It seems like yesterday I was putting them in the church nursery!

I know that I'm supposed to mourn the passing of their childhoods. I've listened to countless teary-eyed mamas relate to me how they wish they could go back to when their kids were babies. The good old days. You know, when all you did was clean up poop and puke. Yeah, those good old days.

Okay, I have no problems admitting that sometimes I miss my kids being little. Baby snuggles ARE hard to beat! And I won't deny that I've grown nostalgic as I've looked through their scrapbooks. Maybe even wiped away a tear or two.

But I've also got to admit that I like the ages they are now. They can feed themselves, wash their own clothes, clean up their own messes (sometimes), and even stay home while I run to the store. I'm proud of who they're becoming - polite, kind individuals who try to help others. Oh, they're far from perfect. But they are maturing and growing in their Christian walk, just like I am.

I cherish those baby memories. Truly, I do. But I'm really excited about who my children are going to become and what God will use them to do in the future. So I'll try not to cry as the apron strings get looser and looser. I'll try to rejoice that my kids are growing up!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Menu Plan July 29-August 4

Can you believe this week is the beginning of August? August!! It's almost time for us to start back to school - next week the fun begins! We'll be starting our 7th year of homeschooling. Wow!

But this week is going to be awesome, too. I've looked forward to it all summer long. Some friends from Iowa are coming to visit, and we've got tons of fun things planned. Hubby took the week off from work so he could join us. We're going to the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coke in Atlanta, and we're also having Thanksgiving dinner together since we won't see each other for that holiday. It's going to busy but we're going to make a lot of happy memories with friends.

Now on to this week's menu:

Grilled burgers, summertime pasta salad

Italian sausage rigatoni, garlic bread

Pizza (out)

Eating the CNN Center food court

Thanksgiving in August

Beef and bean taco casserole

Chicken stew

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Chinese 5-Spice Beef and Broccoli

I love trying out new herbs and spices in my cooking. Recently I got some Chinese 5-spice, a blend of cinnamon, star anise, anise seed, ginger and cloves. I looked around for a recipe to highlight its unique flavor but didn't find any that fit my criteria - quick, cheap and easy!

So I came up with this one myself, combining a stir-fry sauce with ground beef and broccoli. Served over rice, it's a delicious, flavorful, satisfying dish. My family loves it and requests it often. I'm happy to oblige since it's so simple to make.

Here's what you need:

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 bag frozen broccoli

In a large skillet, cook the ground beef and onion together until the meat is no longer pink; drain. While the beef is cooking, prepare the sauce and steam the broccoli according to package directions.

For the sauce:
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 TBSP sesame oil
2 teas brown sugar
1/2 teas garlic powder
1/2 teas ground ginger
1/4 teas Chinese 5-spice powder
1/4 cup water
2 TBSP cornstarch or arrowroot powder

In a small saucepan combine the broth, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and 5-spice powder. In another small bowl, combine the water and cornstarch, making sure there are no lumps. Bring the soy sauce mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and stir in the cornstarch mixture. Simmer until the mixture thickens a bit.

Add the broccoli to the skillet with the beef. Pour the sauce over all, making sure everything is coated. Serve over rice.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Menu Plan July 22-28

Last week was fairly uneventful. After two weeks of being away from home, I spent most of the week getting back into a routine! And cooking. Oh, yes. I cooked. I got reacquainted with my kitchen and all my gadgets.

This week I'm preparing some of my family's favorite meals. I'll share a recipe or two with you later in the week, as well.

Here's what I've got planned:

Homemade chicken patty sandwiches, fries

Baked egg rolls, sesame garlic noodles

Parmesan crusted tilapia, cheesy broccoli quinoa

5-spice beef and broccoli, rice

Chicken burrito bowls

Homemade pizza

Savory roast beef, twice-baked potatoes

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Whenever I have guests over for dinner, I like to offer a few pre-dinner snacks so we can fellowship a little before the meal. Typically I serve some sort of salsa or dip and tortilla chips. So I'm always looking out for yummy new dip recipes. I found this one over at Finding Joy in My Kitchen and it's become an easy favorite.

Here's what you need:

1 (8oz) pkg cream cheese, room temperature
1 can (15 oz) white beans (I use cannellini)
1 teas garlic powder
1 jar roasted red peppers
salt and pepper, to taste

In a food processor, combine the cream cheese, beans, and garlic powder. Pulse until smooth. Add the red peppers and pulse again until it's reached the desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with chips, crackers or pretzels.
I've also added crumbled feta cheese after I'm done processing so it was a little chunky. That was amazing, too!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Menu Plan July 15-21

I'm home! After two weeks of being with my family, the kids and I got home on Saturday. While we were gone, my husband painted the upstairs hallway and stairwell. It looks fantastic! He says it was so much easier to set up the ladder and paint stuff without us here.

Now I'm going to have to start cooking again, so he can eat more than peanut butter and jelly!

Here's what is on the menu for the week:

Hungarian goulash, noodles

Chicken noodle bake, broccoli

Cheeseburger rice, green beans

Slow cooker pork & beans, rice

Girls Night out

Grilled steaks and burgers, crockpot roasted potatoes

Crockpot lasagna, garlic bread

For more menu plan inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Kitchen Tip - Serving Sour Cream

Our family likes tacos and taco salad. Each person can pick his or her favorite toppings and create a unique masterpiece. To me, a taco or taco salad is not complete until it's been graced with sour cream.

Until recently my only method of adding sour cream was to fling it from a spoon in the taco's general direction and hope it stuck! I usually ended up with globs of  sour cream here and there, but there was no way to spread it around without making a huge mess.

Then inspiration struck! How about using a squeeze bottle? I use this easy method for BBQ sauce and homemade ketchup, so why not sour cream?
I have more control over where the sour cream ends up - sure beats the flinging method! And there's no mess. I can even store the remaining sour cream in the bottle until I need it again.

Isn't that taco salad pretty? And I'll get some sour cream in each bite! Yum!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Happy Birthday, Princess!

Today my baby turns 11. She's growing into such a sweet young lady. I'm really proud of her!
She's blessed to share her birthday with two of her cousins, one born on the exact same day, the other two years later. We celebrated together this year, as we try to every year. My sister-in-law, mother of the other two birthday girls, made a beach-themed cake.
Isn't it amazing? The sand is a mixture of brown sugar and graham cracker crumbs. The beach towels are fruit roll-ups. So creative!
Happy Birthday, loves!

Monday, July 1, 2013

No Menu Plan for This Week

This week, I'm visiting my parents in  West Virginia, so no menu plan for me. My mom is a great cook, so it will be nice to eat some of her cooking. I'll help out where she lets me!

Hope y'all have a safe, fun-filled Fourth of July!