Monday, February 6, 2017

Mighty Meals: Part II

More food! YES! My cup runneth over, you guys.

If you missed the recipes I shared in Part I, you can click HERE. If you're curious how I work out my monthly meal plan, you can click HERE.

Just as a recap, these are some of the recipes that are virtually guaranteed a spot on the monthly meal plan {at least once}. In most cases, they're not fancy or time consuming. . . or even terribly healthy. . . but they're sure yummy! :)


1 lb hamburger, cooked
8 oz sour cream
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 can green beans, drained
cheese, shredded
1 bag frozen tater tots
Parmesan cheese, shredded

Mix meat, sour cream, soup, and beans together gently. Pour in glass casserole dish and top with cheese, then tater tots, and finally Parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

1 T. olive oil
salt and pepper
2  1/2 lb chuck roast
1/2 onion, quartered
2 c. beef broth
1 whole bay leaf
12 slices Provolone cheese
6 rolls

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat and sear the roast on all sides. Add roast to slow cooker along with onion, beef broth, and bay leaf. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours (if cooked too quickly, the roast will not be tender). Remove roast and shred. Strain onions from broth, but make sure to save the broth. Place shredded beef on roll and top with 2 slices of Provolone cheese. Place sandwiches under broiler until cheese is melted. Serve warm with a side of broth.

1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
5  1/4 c. chicken broth (3 cans)
1 small bag hash browns
2 carrots, diced into small chunks
2 sticks celery, diced into small chunks
1/2 onion, chopped
6 oz fat free cream cheese

Mix cream of chicken soup and broth, and add veggies. Cook until tender (about 30 minutes). Add hash browns and cream cheese and cook an additional 30 minutes. Serve with grated cheese. 

4 medium zucchini
1 lb ground beef (not turkey)
3/4 c. salsa
1/4 c. dry bread crumbs
1/4 c. minced fresh cilantro
1 t. chili powder
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1 c. (4 oz) pepper jack cheese, shredded
sour cream

Cut zucchini lengthwise and scoop out pulp, leaving 1/4-inch shells. Place shells in an ungreased microwave safe dish. Cover and microwave on high for 3 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Remove from heat and stir in salsa, bread crumbs, cilantro, seasonings, and 1/2 c. cheese. Spoon into zucchini shells.
Microwave, uncovered, on high for 4 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Microwave 3 - 4 minutes longer or until cheese is melted and zucchini is tender. Serve with sour cream.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Simple Love

I like to say that this is the age of "E.I.E.B" ("Everybody In Everybody's Business"). . . and as such, it's hard to feel like you can be your own person. Instead, you're too busy comparing yourself to the people on Instagram and Facebook because you're worried that you don't measure up. I think this is particularly true for parents.

We've all seen those pins on Pinterest from the mom who hiked up Mt Kangchenjunga to harvest the wood she used to to whittle her preschooler's Valentine's Day handout.

We've all seen the Facebook posts from our friend's cousin's brother-in-law and his perfect family of 16 beach hopping their way through Greece.

Now, before I go on, let me just say that I take my hat off to those parents who appear to always have their crap together. I'm certain it takes a lot of work and mental flexibility. This post isn't about putting them down, nor is it about putting ourselves down because we're not like them. It's actually about celebrating the fact that we all raise our kids a little differently. . . so what works for Sally across the street might not work for Betty next door.

Just because they milk their own cow in order to make their own cheese for their kids' organic noodles doesn't mean that we need to. Just because they have an entire room in their house stuffed to the ceiling with educational toys doesn't mean that we need to have one, too.

Instead of honing in on the things we each do differently, I'd like to focus on the little things we all do the same. 

Story time.

Many, many moons ago, I was at my older sister's house and for reasons unknown, I needed to get a new outfit for one of her kids. I walked into her bedroom and pulled open the top drawer of her dresser. Nope, not what I was looking for. I repeated that process more times than I care to admit, but my inability to anticipate where normal people put their clothes is not the point of this story, believe it or not.

Each time I opened a new drawer and saw the countless little articles of clean clothing folded neatly, I was struck with how much love it took to put them there. You might not consciously pour love into every shirt you fold (and then re-fold because it gets thrown across the room moments later), but it happens subconsciously, I'm sure of it.

Organizing and folding laundry is a way we all show love towards our families, whether we realize it or not. We could easily just dump it in the corner, after all. Heck, why even wash and dry it? We could just make the kids play outside with a bar of soap each time it rains and call it a day. But we don't. Instead, we painstakingly spray each stained shirt. We turn pants right-side out again. We de-wad no less than 400 pairs of socks that somehow manage to tuck themselves into balls. And we do all of that at least once a week.

That, my friends, is simple love.

Have you put food on the table today?

And I'm not talking about a sandwich cut into the shape of a dolphin swimming in an ocean made of 3 different kinds of grapes, but just simple, honest-to-goodness, food? Did you perhaps take the time to find their favorite plate, or give them an extra splash of milk in their glass? Maybe you didn't {like I often don't, if we're bein' honest}. . . but regardless, ensuring that your family has 3 meals every single day is another prime example of simple love.

Good job, you!

What about when you turned off the TV despite wails of protest, and encouraged your minis to go flex their imagination muscles? What about when you sat at the table and helped them with their homework, despite wanting to go put your feet up for 30 seconds instead?

When you read the same book for 5 weeks in a row, you might not see it, but trust me-- your kids are seeing simple love.

When you teach them how to sweep the floor and do the dishes; when you teach them to respect others and hold open the door, your kids are being shown prime examples of simple love.

And what about working to provide an income for your family? Most people don't wake up each morning and think, "Yippee! I get to go to work again today," but the fact remains. . . your continuity is a profoundly overlooked example of simple love.

Next time you see a pin or post that makes you doubt your ability as a mom (or dad), I want you to think of all the ways you're doing an AMAZING job. I'm not even joking. Get out a sticky note and write them down. Stick them on your forehead if you must.

And remember -- parenting shouldn't be about extravagant new ways to spoil your kids or keep them entertained every second of the day. It shouldn't be about "keeping up with the Jones'" in terms of creative class treats or flawless hairstyles. It's not about comparing yourself or your kids to those around you.

It's about loving your kids. It's about teaching them how to love, too.

We all go about that differently, but I think that's truly at the heart of everything parents do. So try not to judge that mom at the playground that you think is doing everything wrong. Try not to judge that dad at the grocery store with the gaggle of rowdy kids. We don't know their circumstances, just like they don't know ours.

Don't focus on the "different" . . . Focus on the acts of simple love we each offer up on a daily basis to keep our family happy & together.  

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