Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Grass is Greener...

...on our side of the fence, at least this week.

A couple of years ago we started to let our backyard go. It all started with severe watering restrictions. I recall a July when no outdoor watering was allowed in our district. When we were allowed to water again, enough of it had died that we just gave up the fight. Then we were given a trampoline which has proven to be such a blessing for our kids in our small backyard, but surely didn't add anything to the aesthetic.


But this past fall we decided to reclaim the area with the first step being an automatic sprinkler system installed by my handy father-in-law and youthful husband. This spring we applied some effort and moolah to the situation with new sod, fresh mulch, moving the trampoline and playhouse and one garden bed, removing another garden bed and trashing all the yard clutter that happens so easily with young kids. And now it looks like this.

loving the lilacs we planted our first summer here!

We're really looking forward to enjoying time at home this summer!

Late June Menu

We're back from two weeks away so I'm jumping back into domestic life, complete with a trip to the grocery today with my precious kids. I was reminded of why I usually wait until the evening and leave them in the care of Daddy so I can give my full attention to finding good deals and using coupons. And I still need to stop at another store for a few more things. Anyway, here's what I plan to fix for my family in the coming days.

Grilled chicken sandwiches w/gouda & havarti on sourdough, bananas
Burgers, baked fries, steamed peas & carrots
Orange chicken, brown rice, broccoli & carrots
Creamy garlic bowties with mesquite chicken, green beans, breadsticks
Mesquite chicken sandwiches, pasta salad w/veggies & cheese
Emeril's pulled pork (& lots extra to freeze) on buns, baked fries, peas or other veg
Salad bar (greens, chicken, cheeses, croutons, dressing, peppers, cucumbers, etc.), bread
Brats, chips, big green salad
Macaroni & cheese (make 2 extra to freeze), raw veggie platter
Meat & cheese pockets, broccoli, carrots
Out - likely Chick-Fil-A as we have lots of coupons from a family festival we attended

Creamy pasta with grilled chicken, carrot sticks
Ham & cheese paninis, cucumbers
Tuna melts, berries
Leftovers - several times
Quesadillas, fruit or vegetable

Egg & cheese sandwiches
Oatmeal & yogurt
Steel cut oats, berries & yogurt
Cold cereal & yogurt
Pancakes & peach syrup (time to clean out the freezer for summer fresh produce)
Cinnamon rolls, green smoothies

Monday, June 20, 2011


I'm trying to stay ahead of the hunger of my growing family, but it is getting to be more and more work. Some days it feels like I've spent over half the day in the kitchen and they still come around after dinner saying, "I'm hungry!" While I don't do a lot of freezer cooking, I do like to have meal components (cooked beans, browned meat, grilled and shredded chicken, etc.) and burritos at the ready. Unlike frozen casseroles, you can easily decide how many servings to pull out for baking on the day you need them and they don't take 2+ hours to cook. And they're really handy for my husband to grab to take for lunch at work if we don't have leftovers from the previous night or to take as freezer meals to families in need. I usually freeze them in packages of 5 or 6 burritos (1 meal for our family) and reuse the zip bags from the tortillas. Sometimes I wrap the bunch in foil and then place the foil packet inside the zipper bag so when I bake them I can toss the whole foil packet in the oven which keeps the tortillas softer. I don't use a recipe, but do include some or all of the following on any given batch based on what I have around and what needs to be used.
- ground beef
- taco seasoning
- bell peppers
- Rotel
- corn
- brown rice
- salsa
- cheese
- black or pinto beans
For variation, I'm going to try a meal of these baked in a pan and smothered with enchilada sauce. Here is an enchilada sauce recipe we like.

It only takes a bit more time to make 4-5 meals vs. 1 meal and I save a lot of time on the clean up. And then when I've had a crazy day with other needs, these are a snap to pop in the oven with almost no effort.

What are your favorite meals to prepare ahead?

A Bag Full O'Fun

I'm always surprised at how creative kids are in making fun out of whatever is around them. A few weeks ago I picked up an order of grain and after transferring it all to storage containers, had the sacks left to recycle or reuse. The kids wasted no time in putting them to good use. A good evening was had by all.
love this freckled girl!