Friday, November 26, 2010

Tomato-Cheese Ravioli Soup

Makes 1 (1.25 cup) servings.

I have to start by saying that these pictures do not do this recipe justice. This is always going to be one of our family favorites. This recipe came from my Five Ingredient, Fifteen Minute cookbook. I LOVE this cookbook. Did I mention yet that it is definitely my favorites of all my cookbooks? It is. Try this recipe and you will see why. This recipe has two easy steps.










Ingredients:
1 (14.5 oz.) can stewed tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz.) can chicken broth or vege broth
1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning (I always use it from an Italian seasoning packet, but I think the recipe intends that you just use regular seasoning)
3 cups frozen cheese ravioli (about 12 ounces)
1 small zucchini, sliced
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Step One:
Combine first three ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.









Step Two:
Add ravioli, zucchini, and pepper; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heart, and simmer 7 minutes or until pasta and zucchini are tender.











Now, the question is: Will you use a fork or a spoon?!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Southwestern Meatloaf

Meatloaf is always a good freezer meal if you need one. Just cook it, let it cool, and wrap it tightly with aluminum foil. This meatloaf is particularly tasty, in my opinion.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped (for directions on how to chop and freeze lots of onion, or bell pepper at once, go here)
  • 1 cup frozen corn (for directions on how to quickly, and efficiently, freeze corn on the cob to be used later, go here...Thank you Mummy Deals!)
  • 2 pounds ground beef (90 percent lean is suggested)
  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (not nonfat)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup, optional

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty foil.

2. Warm oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in corn; sauté 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl to let cool slightly.

3. Add beef, bread crumbs, egg, yogurt, cilantro, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper to bowl. Mix gently until well combined; do not overmix. Transfer to baking sheet and shape into a 12-by-4-inch loaf. (I spread mine out in a long rectangle piece of stoneware, and slapped some ketchup over the top of mine)

4. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 160ºF, about 1 hour. Spread with ketchup (or additional ketchup), if desired, and let stand 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Can't get your kids to eat meatloaf? Slap some of the stuff on a bun and call it a hamburger. :0)

Makes 8 servings
1 serving=8 Weight Watchers Point Plus points

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Day in my Life: Part Two

(Click here for part one)

Okay, so as I was saying, The day wasn't totally shot. We would still have a great time, even if it killed us, because I have already gone through a lot of work doggone it! :0) I set out my perfect-for-outside blanket and piled on all the good stuff. I handed out lunches to the kids (cheerios on the baby walker for my littlest tot) and I got out my tuna sandwich. Ah...time to relax and enjoy the great outdoors...oh wait, there are bugs outside. Preston did NOT like that! Okay, there are lids to your lunch containers, so we'll just cover their lunches up between bites, to ensure that bugs don't get to our food before we do. Wait, not just ants, but mosquitoes too! Turns out we needed bug spray way more than all the sunscreen I used on the kids. Okay, so all the kids wanted to eat from their lunches was a few grapes and the two oreos I gave each of them."That's fine," I thought, "I didn't like my tuna sandwich anyway," so I ate Keely's bologna sandwich. Truly, we're still having a good time at this point. I did not yell at my kids for just eating the cookies. I didn't want to fight that battle today...my "perfect mom" day. :) I would not be yelling at the kids today, besides look at how cute they are...I busted out the inflatable "kiddy pool" and filled it up. Preston and Keely were all about sticking their feet in the thing. They did not complain even once about the ridiculousness of the size of the "pool" I got them; which is one of the things I LOVE about this age. I let them get their feet wet, literally, while I tried to hook up the sprinkler to the hose.

***(Sidenote: Turns out this is a great way to rinse off the feet of your children before they come inside the house, since they will inevitablly have grass all over their feet, and Chadwick suggested that they are great for when you are serving drinks that you want to keep cold. Pop a little ice in there and you've got yourself a little cooler) I turned on our hose, and the hose connector popped off spraying water all over our house. (I won't elaborate on this one, but just know that it was a lot of me getting wet while trying to figure out how to get it reattached and stay attached.) When I was done with my escapades, the sprinkler was working, but with little pressure. My four year old was quick to announce that he did not want this sprinkler-- he wanted the "big one", which really meant he wanted more pressure so it would shoot up higher. "Whatever, just enjoy the one we have," I told him. And they did.
While the two older ones played in the sprinkler, I gave the itty bitty his turn in the "pool". He liked it. I decided I didn't like the kids in the grass because of the mosquitoes. I don't think they got bit, but I did, and I didn't want to chance it. We went inside. I got Kipton down for a nap and cleared off the floor of the kitchen.

Did I mention that I have a point? I do. :)
I moved the table and the chairs to the living room, all the toys to the toy box, all the magnets back on the fridge, the trash in the trash can, etc. What's funny, is that the point of this whole story is what I am just about to share with you...a fun way to MOP your kitchen with the kids still in the house, and then an encouraging word! So, now we have come full circle. We're back in the kitchen. The kids were already in their swimsuits, and our floor was sticky in some areas, and needed to be mopped really, really bad. I decided to try a mopping secret I read in a parenting magazine before. I poured water on the floor and got out a towel for each kid and told them to "slip and slide", and showed them how to "mop" the floor with their towel. I joined them in the fun, making sure to get right up against the cupboards, and such. When we were done, I tossed the drenched towels in the washing machine, and got out the wet swiffer. I gave each of them a turn at using the swiffer, and then I went over the whole kitchen one more time. WALAH!!! My kitchen floor has not been this clean since we moved in...and the kids helped, which they loved! I would say that this whole mopping with the towel on your feet idea would probably be the most fun for kids between the ages of 4-9...just my guess.

Okay, so now for your encouraging word. One of my older mom friends offered me this insight one day, when I was feeling like a failure, and I have felt to relay her message on multiple occassions, because it meant so much to me. Here it is:

As a mom, you feel all of the ups and downs of your day. You know what you had hoped for and are discouraged, frustrated, and sometimes even mad when things don't work out like you planned. Kids aren't like that though. They remember the tiny pool that was so perfect for their baby brother, the picnic where they got to eat the oreos and mom did not make them eat the sandwich, and a sprinkler that felt perfect on a warm day. They remember coming in and sliding all over the wide open, kitchen floor and having a great time. Fond memories. I share this message, because I am one of those moms who is always putting too much weight in the things of the day that I considered to be failures. If you are also one of those moms, take heart. Your children won't remember it like you did. It was a GREAT day for them, and they would do it over and over again if we let them. (but I would rather never do this day again, I need a nap) :0) Love you mommas! Be encouraged.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Day in my Life

Can I just share what kind of a morning I had today? I don't typically do that on our site, because this site is about meals. Today; however, was just one of those days and since this site is also about moms, I just had to share.

I woke up today, thinking, "okay, it's Friday and I have not made it to the YMCA all week. I WILL get there today." I was getting myself syked up and ready to go, and I was getting everyone else ready too, of course. I got to the part of making lunches for my kids (besides watching our children while we work out, my YMCA also feeds the kids if I am there between 11 am-1 pm and have packed food for them, and this was part of my plan) I was using my new lunch containers and I was feeling good about myself. I had just finished preparing the lunches when I looked up at my two children and saw the one thing I really hoped not to see today...SNOT! Lots of it. They've had colds all week long, which is why I have not taken them to the YMCA, and apparently they were not over them yet. "Noooooooo". (That's me) I let out a sigh, and decided that exercising could wait just one more day. "We've already got their lunches all packed nice and neat, so we'll just do a picnic in our backyard," I told myself. The day did not have to be totally shot. I looked over at the inflatable kiddie pool I had bought a couple of weeks ago at a garage sale, still in its package. I decided to be "Mom of the Year", at least just this one day. I imagined the kids playing in their swimsuits, and us all having a lovely picnic, as the sun shone down on us in our perfectly mowed backyard. (What? It could happen) I got out the swimmers diapers, put swimsuits on the kiddos after chasing them around the house, slathered up some sunscreen, pulled together the essentials for a great time: blanket, baby walker, etc. etc. I was ready to go, and the kids were getting more and more excited with each second that passed. Now it was time to blow up the kiddie pool. I took it out of the package.... Wait a minute! What's this? It looked like a DEMO version of a kiddie pool...you know, a smaller version of the real thing. "This can't be right!" I laughed to myself. I read the packaging one more time. Hmmm..." "Ring Pool" was the big font, but up in the left hand corner, it read, "swim inflatable". Sure enough...this was not a pool at all, it was an inflatable for a pool! Okay. That's alright. My kids won't care. They'll still have fun. (I imagined the kids splashing in the pool, and having a good time) Here we go. I blew the silly little thing up...if nothing else, my ten month will get some joy out of this thing...besides, it was 25 cents.

(To be continued...the kiddos need me right now. I promise to finish this story, though, and I promise it gets better.)

Friday, June 11, 2010

My kitchen, My life.

Okay, okay...Time to get honest: (oh no, right?) Alright here it is:
My kitchen is USUALLY a mess these days. I did a before and after picture on a day when I actually cleaned my kitchen, and I thought the pictures might make some mom out there feel better about herself.

Here it is:

And here's what my kitchen usually looks like: Scroll up to see the AFTER picture. Then, come back to this one and click on it to see it up close. I just have to mention a few things that are cracking me up as I look at this picture. Consider it like a where's waldo deal. See if you can spot all of these things in this picture:

1. No paper towel on the roll, and has not been replaced.
2. Pots and pans, and stones all accumulated over 3 days because there were too many dishes in the sink so I could not wash them.
3. Lotion? Hair smoother? I think my 2 year old found them in my room and brought them out and I snagged them from her and they ended up there. :)
4. Ice cube trays from making baby food.
5. Water bottles that are needing to make it to the recycling.
6. Bottles that need to make it to the dishwasher.
7. Clean nipples and tops to the bottles in a bottle basket thing, that are clean. (bottles are still in the dishwasher)
8. My daughter's blankie.
9. Bowl to the slow cooker in the clean dishes rack.
10. And the finale: Two baskets piled on top of each other containing our kids Easter candy, with a container holding dry spagetti in front of it, next to a knife block that has no knives in it because they are all dirty next to the sink.

Hope you are all feeling TEN times better about yourselves by now. As the saying goes, "better to bless than impress". :0)

Have a blessed day dear mommies.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

But you don't understand me...I am justified in my complaining!
A few months back, I was led to the passage I referred to the other day, and I felt the conviction laying thick. I set this challenge for myself, and I have to tell you that is was sooooo hard for me a few months back. I was very, very aware of my struggle within. For whatever reason, I had determined that because life was hard, I should complain about it every chance I got. All day long I would wait until my husband would get home so I could load off onto him....counting down the minutes until I could finally blow out all of the frustration I had built up throughout the day. He would come home to me saying to him, "You won't believe what happened this morning!...And then, just when I thought it couldn't get any worse...OH! and like I wasn't already mad enough..." Poor guy. If he had a bad day there wasn't any time to talk about it, because by the time I was done venting, we were both exhausted.
Life was hard. It is still hard most days. We're in a challenging phase of our lives with all of our kids being infants or toddlers: a 4 year old, 2 year old, and a 7 month old. I had no idea how demanding kids were until we had them. :) (Anybody out there relate?) So many things happen everyday that I never would have bargained for. I definitely still have my turn of struggles, and internal anguish, but I can honestly say this time of committing to a full day of no complaining was so much easier than the last time.

Here's my encouraging word
If you are someone who is always pulling out the "woah is me" card, make choices to stop, and look around you. Don't complain, even though you feel like it. See what happens. The more you consciously make the effort, the easier it will become. Seriously. Try it out for yourself. You will still need your one or two awesome friends that you can sort out life's wild mysteries with (like why my son still continues to insist on not flushing the toilet even though we have been telling him for months) but you won't feel like you have to unload your baggage at every chance you get. And when you do it will be brief, and it will be a relief when you are done.
The wrap up
When you feel like complaining ask yourself this question:
"Do I want to talk about this to find an answer, or do I just want everyone else to feel bad for me?" If it's the second one, pray instead, take a few deep breaths, and try to change your focus. Smile and give your kids a kiss instead. In some instances, you may need to ensure that the kids are safe, and then dart to another room for a moment until you collect yourself. Do it for them and for you.

LOVE YOU MOMMA FRIENDS!!! We'll get through this wild journey together. Okay, now go rock on with your bad self! :0)

***This post was part of a 3 post series on how to do everything without complaining. If you are interested in the 1st and 2nd posts that led up to this one click on one of the links below:
Do everything without complaining: Part One
Do everything without complaining: Part Two

Monday, May 10, 2010

The reward you've all been waiting for....drum roll please...Your reward will be in Heaven. :) Just kidding...well...kind of. I know, I know...lame, right? :) Listen, if you agreed to join me in the challenge not to complain for one whole day, then you have chosen to make your environment around you better. The energy that could have been wasted and drained by thinking and meditating on all the "what ifs'" and the "if I could just's" was redirected into positive energy...which is less draining on you, I promise. Whatever energy your are putting off, is felt by your family...whether it be positive or negative. Have you ever gotten really excited about something all of a sudden and your kids lit up and got really excited with you, even though they didn't even understand why you were so happy? You're contagious. Think on that. Your reward when you choose to "do everything without complaining or arguing" is that you "shine" and don't think for a second that those precious little people around you aren't influenced by that light, because you are one of the greatest influences in their lives, both now, and forever.

I used to think that I was just being real when I vented the anger and disappointment I felt as soon as I felt it. As long as I was just keeping it real, it was okay. The problem, though, was that all my complaining was driving me further into the pit I was making for myself. The pit of self-pity. It can be hard to come out of at times, once the pit is dug. It's going to take one small choice at a time. So choose again, today, to make a promise to yourself, "I will complain less today, and smile more today, even if I don't feel like it yet."You're worth it, and so are your kids, so, SHINE ON, MOMMA FRIEND! SHINE ON, and be blessed because of it. Much love to you today. You are doing a great job. Keep on keeping on!

One last entry will be posted on this topic tomorrow to wrap up this "Do everything without complaining" challenge. If this challenge was hard for you and you are looking a true word of encouragement, that will be the one to read.

((***side note: There are times when you just need to talk to someone about how you are feeling, and the relief afterward is wonderful. I am not trying to discredit the importance of talking with a friend when you are truly struggling, but I am encouraging that you choose to not make complaining your all-day long affair. And don't waste all the energy that you DO have that day complaining about the small stuff, like how the kids left a million crumbs under the table after dinner. :) Many instances of self-pity, and self-loathing will actually just make you more self-centered, and then it becomes harder to focus on serving the little people around you. The attitude becomes, "Why should I have to (fill in the blank)" instead of "How may I serve you today?". Something to consider is all.))

Do everything without Complaining: Part One.


Has it been a hard day already, and the day has only begun? Do you feel like you slave over the same menial tasks day after day, and never seem to catch a break?
Phillippians 2:14
"Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life-- in order that I (this was Paul, speaking to the Phillippians, who he had been teaching) may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing."
Don't you want that? To shine in the world around you, and to know that all this work you have been putting in is not in vain?

Try this challenge with me today: Don't complain ALL DAY LONG. Is that a hard one for you? Can you do it? Try it with me. Being a mom is hard, keeping up with all the work, keeping everyone happy all at once, and feeling like you have a balanced life....well, let's just say that all of us have our reasons why we feel justified to complain. When a complaint comes to your mind today, and you so badly want it to come out of your lips, choose not to. Redirect your attention. If you can't "voice" the complaint, then you have to move on from it. "It" does not control you. There is nowhere for it to fester. Choose to replace the complaint with a praise. Choose not to complain today just for the sake of complaining (just for a day), and post a comment to let us know you are in this challenge with me. There will be a reward to each of you who does. The reward will be posted tomorrow.