Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Mexican Rice

I posted on Facebook that you always want to make your dish in advance so that your spouse has time to grab something to go if your meal turns out to be a flop. Tuesday nights we have our life group over at our house and we all bring a dish that is themed. This week was Mexican. I decided to try Mexican rice - something I've never made before. It actually turned out pretty okay, minus the needing of salt. I have such a hard time with salt. I never put salt in anything or I put too much. Most of the time I do the first because you can always add salt vs taking salt away. I'm adding the recipe in case you would like to take a try! Dropping a few pictures in also, just because I like pictures :) Make sure to follow me on Facebook to check out extra tips :) ------>HERE

2 tomatoes
1 onion
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups of rice
4 garlic cloves minced {I used garlic powder}
2 cups chicken broth {which is why I didn't think to add salt}
1 tbsp tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- puree tomatoes and onions until smooth and measure 2 cups
- heat oil in a 3-quart saucepan and add rice {dry, not cooked}, stirring frequently until a light golden color {about 10-15 minutes}
- add garlic and stir about 15 seconds
- Stir in tomato mixture, broth, tomato paste, and salt - bring to a boil.
- Cover and bake about 30 minutes. Rice should be tender and the liquid absorbed. Stir about halfway through the baking process.
- Fluff with a fork
- Enjoy!

Stepping out of my comfort zone BIG time 
{blog post to come!}

Friday night family time having dessert!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Homemade Pizza Night

This is one of our favorites. Our homemade pizza is seriously so much better than takeout - and it is fun for the kids as well! While on the meal planning train I want to make sure everyone is involved. One night a week my parents have a night, the kids get to choose a night, John will pick a favorite, and then Sundays I do not cook at all. That is either a leftover or just a free for all night. I can handle three nights to myself to pick a meal.

Tonight the kids planned pizza! They were PUMPED! Both chose a topping and worked on their "own" pizza for the family. It was certainly easy and more definitely fun! Below is what we used to make our own pizza!

- Pillsbury Pizza dough {we did two pizzas, so two of these}
- Pizza sauce {one jar worked for both pizzas}
- Mozzarella cheese {enough to cover well}
- toppings - we chose sausage and pepperoni

Preheat the over to 425. Roll dough onto a baking pan. Cover with the pizza sauce and then top with the cheese. Next add the precooked toppings. Bake for about 13 minutes and then you are all set! YUM!

Both kids were SO proud of their pizzas and how yummy they tasted! You will definitely want to add this to your weekly meal planning recipe book.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Missed a Week!

Posting our meal plan from this week - but also our meal from last Friday. It was delicious! Know what's even better? It was a crockpot meal. I do love a good meal from the crockpot. I'm not always in love with the crockpot meals because you can taste that it was sitting all day, but this one was a score for the whole family!

Friday - Taco Chicken Bowls :) DELICIOUS!!! This recipe I found on Budget Bytes.

Saturday - WELL, I had a meal planned and I was just feeling blah about it so we went out to eat. Then we had ice cream afterwards :)

Monday - we had Roast/potatoes/carrots in the crockpot. This one is super simple, just add those food items, water {to cover the food} and a packet of lipton onion soup mix. Set it on low for the day and you will come home to a yummy aroma of delicious smelling food! Even better? The parents cooked so I didn't even have to worry about doing the crockpot!

Tuesday - life group at our house where we all bring themed food. This week was a potato bar. I made baked potatoes and then grilled cheese sandwiches for the kiddos. I literally just started eating baked potatoes about a year ago. Still not a fan of mashed potatoes, but I am loving the baked potatoes.

Wednesday - Kids choice day! This helps with giving me an idea about dinner AND its something they are guaranteed to love and eat! They chose spaghetti.

Thursday - Dinner did not go as planned. I had a chicken pot pie turnover meal planned, but it was taking too long and I had somewhere to be, so leftover spaghetti was for dinner!

Friday - Parmesan baked pork chops. We have had this one before and its always good. I also added butter beans and rice for the sides. Recipe below :) I originally found this one on Just A Pinch.

Taco Chicken Bowls

1&1/2 lbs chicken breasts
1 {16 oz jar} salsa
1 {15 oz} can black beans, drained {typing this I just realized I did not drain mine}
8 oz frozen corn
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp cumin
1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
cracked pepper {to taste}
cooked rice

- Add everything {minus the rice, cheese, and toppings} to the slow cooker and then add about 1/4 cup of water. Mix it all together making sure the chicken is covered in the mixture.
- Turn slow cooker on for 8 hrs. This is key because I totally forgot to turn mine on after an hour - opps!
- After it is finished carefully remove the lid of the slow cooker. Stir with a fork to shred the chicken. Build the taco bowls by placing the rice on the bottom, then the taco chicken mix, shredded cheese and toppings

Parmesan Baked Pork Chops

4 boneless pork chops
1 tbsp olive oil
1 c parmesan cheese
1 c Italian bread crumbs {I didn't have any so I just used regular crumbs and Italian seasoning}
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder

In a bowl combine the last 4 ingredients. Rub the pork chops with olive oil and then dip each one on the dry mixture. Make sure to really coat the pork chop. Press the mixture over the pork chops to make sure they are well covered. Line a pan with tin foil and spray with cooking spay {I think I forgot to spray, but it turned out fine!}. Place the pork chops on the pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Meals this Week

I knew I would not post two days in a row :) BUT here is the rest of our meals we had this week!

Tuesday we normally have our church small group over, but instead the ladies headed to church for a woman's event while the guys stayed home with the kids. John, however had to go to the school orientation meeting, so I left a crockpot meal. I think I printed this recipe in 2011, but it was the first time actually making it. You can check the site Raising Healthy Eaters for the recipe I printed. I'll list the recipe below as well.

Wednesday we had a favorite of John's - Turkey Meatloaf. This one is so simple! I literally prepped it in just a few minutes while the kids were getting in their baths. I have never been a meatloaf person, to be honest chunks of meat make me nauseous, but this one is just perfect! This recipe I pinned from Boys Ahoy and you can find the original link there. It was the night before our first day of school so dinner was early and then the kids went to bed! I was in bed early as well because I do not do mornings.

Thursday - first day of school! For breakfast Heidi chose cinnamon rolls. All day Harrison kept saying that cinnamon rolls are "super yummy"! That and that the "gookies" we were making were super yummy as well - and they were! I'm not giving you that recipe, but if you have a blue cookbook from RHUMC circa 1985 then you can find it on page 49. Just look for my mom's name :) You'll thank me later. Thursday is choir for me so I needed a simple meal. Actually, apparently all I need to to burn some nervous energy so I prepped this meal in the morning before lunch and then I could just pop it in the oven when it was time later! I'm a messy cook so that gave me plenty of time to clean up after myself. We had a Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole - found on Better Homes and Gardens, but I printed this in 2012 and cannot find the link to it. It was delicious! This is definitely one you can put in the freezer and bake later. On this one I do substitute the "cream of chicken soup" with a homemade mix.

Today is Friday and we will be having Taco Chicken Bowls. I found this one on Budget Bytes and I'm hopeful that it will be tasty!


Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan

2-4 boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 beaten egg
sliced mozzarella cheese or 1 coup shredded
26 oz marinara sauce

Spread olive oil into the bottom on your slow cooker. Beat the egg in a bowl and in a separate dish mix the bread crumbs with the seasonings and parmesan cheese. Dip the chicken into the egg bowl covering with egg, then into the bread crumb bowl coating both sides. Place the coated chicken at the bottom of the crock pot. Repeat with all chicken. Layer mozzarella cheese on top and then pour marinara sauce on top. Cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 3-4 hours. We served this with pasta :)

Turkey Meatloaf {I cut this in half for my foursome}

2 lbs ground turkey
1 egg
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup milk
1 -1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste

For the Sauce:
3 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp prepared mustard
1/3 cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 350. IN a large bowl combine turkey, egg, onion, milk, bread crumbs, and salt/pepper and mix. {the easiest way to mix is with your hands}. Place mixture into a lightly greased 9x13 baking dish and form into a loaf. Sprinkle with a dash or salt and pepper. In a separate bowl combine the sauce ingredients and mix. Pour over the loaf and spread evenly. Sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar over the top. Cover with foil and bake for about an hour.

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

6 oz package grain and wild rice mix
1/2 cup medium onion chopped
1/2 cup chopper celery
2 tbsp butter
can of condensed chicken with white and wild rice soup or cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
2 tbsp fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried basil crushed
2 cups cooked chicken or turkey
1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Prepare rice mix according to package directions. Preheat oven to 350. In a large skillet cook onion and celery in melted butter over medium heat until tender. Stir in soup, sour cream, wine, and basil. Stir in cooked rice and chicken. Transfer mixture to an ungreased 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered for 35 minutes or until heated through. Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Back to School Meals

This year I am determined not to have it all together, but at least have a little bit together. Normally I am running around like a frantic squirrel trying to get my stuff together at the last minute. It's really strange because I am such a planner, but it's that whole "it's never going to turn out the perfect way so let's just sit at the procrastination circus" type of mentality. But y'all, maybe it's finally being in the new house {ok, since December} and being able to get things into their place that is helping - maybe.

This summer has flown by, but we've made some amazing memories and really we didn't do much at all. It was relaxing! I am super nervous about Heidi going to "big girl" school and she is equally excited and nervous. With school starting in a couple of days this is normally the time when I think - AH we need a bookbag/clothes/etc!!! Not this year - nope! I have finished school shopping {for both kiddos}, ordered Harrison's Halloween costume, ordered Christmas PJs, and have half of my Christmas shopping finished. The only problem with the being ahead is that I will probably forget where I hide everything when the time comes to use it....

Maybe it is normal for people to be this ahead, but not for me. I definitely think it has a ton to do with our new accounting/budget system which I will post about at a later date - like when both kiddos are in school.

What I really wanted to post about was how our meal was last night. This is the first week of being completely back on our meal planning for the week. I was slack during the summer, but with a new schedule and harder days coming I knew that this year we had to be on top of things. Hopefully I can post about all of our meals and let you know how they fared in our household. I usually go straight to my Pinterest when getting ready to meal plan.

The other thing I have organized is my recipe binder. I had all of these recipes printed without organization. It was my on my list of things to do - in regards to my binder. SO finally I sat and put my binder together and now when I find a good recipe on Pinterest I go ahead and print it and then add it to the binder. This way I can make my notations on the print out of things I did differently in a recipe or if we liked it or not. PLUS, I found it a huge pain trying to use my phone on Pinterest while cooking at the same time. My phone would go into sleep mode and then I would have to find it all over again.

On to last nights meal.

By the way, I am not a great cook. I cook what is simple and easy.

I found a Crescent Burger recipe a few years ago and it has always been a hit - so we had those! Heidi scarfed hers down and Harrison ate his as well. The original link to the recipe is found on Budget Savy Diva. It tastes similar to a Krystal Burger, but better :) As a small side note, we use the same meat mixture without browning the meat to make hamburger patties for the grill. It is so yummy and changes the flavor of just a regular hamburger! I didn't take pictures {edit - I took a picture of a leftover} because I'm not that on top of things - maybe I will tonight for the slow cooker Chicken Parmesan, but don't get your hopes up!

1/2 pound of ground beef
Worcestershire sauce
1 Egg
1/3 packet of Onion Soup mix {I accidentaly misread this and used a whole packet - it was fine}
1/2 tsp black pepper
2/3 cup of cheddar cheese
1 roll of crescents {the recipe makes enough to where I needed to use 2 rolls - so you get 16 pockets}

- Preheat oven to 375
- Brown meat
- Mix 1/2 cup of cheese, onion soup mix, a few drops of Worcestershire sauce, pepper, browned meat
- Unroll the crescents and place a rounded tablespoon of the meat mixture towards the larger end of the crescent
- Roll until the meat is fully cover, like a little pocket
- Place pockets on parchment lined baking sheet
- Brush tops of dough with an egg wash {whisk egg and 1 tbsp of water}
- Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of egg wash
- Bake 10-15 minutes

Friday, June 17, 2016

This World

Parenting is hard. It gets harder with each generation. Most things get easier, but I think parenting is the one thing that will never evolve. There was a post recently comparing the '70s and 80s verses kids of today. It spoke of how we were able to run around until the street lights came on, how we ran over to our friends' houses, explored in the woods, we were not on leashes - we were free. We were able to live without fear that there were bad people in the world. Oh, there were bad people, but they were not on our street. They were lurking somewhere in the shadows of places we did not venture. We also did not know about these things. Media was not on the corner of every single moment in all of our lives. We could be free to live without fear because we did not know to be fearful. There were not shootings all around us, there were not men trolling for young girls to kidnap them and sell them in their sex trafficking ring. No, the world was a much safer place.

Back in the 80s moms and dads were not watching us like hawks.

Today - today it is different. Everywhere you turn someone if being shot or abducted. Sex trafficking is one of the top growing industries in the US. Terrorists are marching in any place to make a statement in support of the sick beliefs they have. A lady was shot at 10:30 in the morning at the mall. No where is sacred anymore. Kids are taken from their yards, Target, or parking lots. Today all of our safe places seem unsafe and could be tainted at anytime.

Today we watch our children like hawks because one glance away could end in catastrophe. We don't let our kids have the freedom they once had because we can't.

BUT we can't let ourselves live in fear. We cannot simply miss out on the beauty this world has to offer because of fear. There are beautiful places and beautiful people that we will miss out on if we simply lock ourselves up.

Terrible things are going to happen. We can do our best to take precautions and be smart because there are things we can avoid by being alert. There are also times when we should be able to let our guard down a little. If you have read my blog for a long time you know that I lost a child. Thankfully I did not have a mob of angry people throwing stones and blaming my uterus or me for not keeping my baby safe. There are other things that have happened that could have ended worse than they actually did. I've closed my child's fingers in the door, pinched legs with car seats, watched them grab keys off a desk - run - and then poke their eye, one has had their head stuck in bars, one walked into a pool while 20 adults had their backs turned, and I could go on. The point is, any of these things could have ended with devastating results. I also consider myself a semi-helicopter parent. I watch and I prepare for the "what ifs" in life.

The point is, the things listed above, they could happen to anyone. When tragedies happen we need to be there to support each other, not cast blame, not to lash out on the grieving parents, to make them relive the grief over and over. People are always looking for ways to make themselves feel better or more superior. We make a mistake? Ok great, but look at what that person did - it was way worse. That's what we do to make our lives and ourselves feel better.

When tragedies strike we need to be that shoulder to cry on - not the ones beating a dead horse. The parents of Lane, the boy taken by the alligator in Disney, have suffered enough. They are suffering enough without your bullying and pointed fingers. Take yourself out of the equation. Stop thinking about what you would have done or not done because you were not there and you have no idea what you would have done. Just stop. What should you do? Give grace, give love, give support. CARE about others instead of taking a moment to make yourself feel better.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Beach Day

We headed to the beach for a couple of hours the other day. Yay! There is something so relaxing and carefree about being on the beach. Maybe its because I have grown up on the coast, but there is a need for sand and saltwater sometimes - like its in my veins. I'm not really a fan of river water or murky water, but I will settle for the Atlantic even though I grew up going to the Gulf Coast.

Heidi is going to be the same way. She longs to be in the water and swims like a fish! Heidi will go to the pool or beach - I really think she loves the beach the most. Harrison on the other hand....he is a little more timid. This year I was completely shocked because he enjoyed running around on the sand and in the water. I am thankful Harrison enjoyed the beach because when babies are cranky it can make for a not so much fun time for Mama. Hopefully this is a sign of many fun beach days ahead this summer!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Monday Must-Haves: This Tote

Have you ever felt like this? Yeah, and then the bags break. 

I have the most amazing mulit-purpose tote that I use for grocery shopping, the beach, the pool, cleaning out my car, and many other ways. My kids like to use it for shade on a hot day after grocery shopping :) There are a few sizes to fit your family's needs - check it here! Low Country Bags

Summer Starts

The start to our old-fashioned summer has started! Down with technology and hello to family fun! Today we played a few yard games - of course we had to video because apparently the kids love the little videos of the kids playing with their toys and opening eggs or whatever they are doing so they want to video our stuff too. I would much rather it be us doing something fun then watching someone else play with their toys.

John is finishing up the play set for the kids and while he was building Heidi took the slide and pulled it over the trampoline. Such a smart and strong little cookie! It was a perfect idea and now I think we might need to buy a little slide just for the trampoline. They had such a good time on it!

Dirty little feet and faces - that is what summer is made for!

This is of the fight sessions. I'm not really sure where
this came from...

Spoon race - and you can see in the end that someone
does not like to lose.

Bear Crawl Race

Crab Race

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Dance Time!

We were at two different studios this year for Heidi. One was ballet instruction only without a recital. Ballet is such a foundation for any sort of dance - perfect for sports as well. It is truly something you can carry with you forever. I do not know what the future holds with Heidi and dance or if she will decide to dance next year, but she is such a beautiful dancer that I hope she decides to stay with dance. Of course having grown up dancing I am a little biased! Heidi has such a pure and sweet heart and I can feel that on stage when she dances. I do love both dance studios we have chosen - they have such a talented group of ladies!

Friday we had a little observation for the ballet instruction only studio and Saturday Heidi had her recital. I was so proud of Heidi! So many changes to a few years ago when my friend Paula was shaking a box of nerds in the wings while Heidi danced in order to bribe her to stay on stage :) Sometimes she might not smile {she said she forgets sometimes} but she goes right on stage and is just such a shining ray of sunshine! It might have been the last time she dances on stage, but whatever she decides to pursue next I know she will be great!

What patient little brothersdo while big sisters
are dancing :) AND my"needing a pedicure foot"

Harrison wanted to make a "sad" face
for the camera...

How we store all of the costumes and accessories:

After recital treats for two special kiddos - maybe 
their parents too :)

Saturday, May 28, 2016

End of School

We have had such a busy May! I am so thankful that lazy days without schedule are upon us. This summer is going to be full of pool days, crafts, fun times outdoors, the beach, and whatever else we want to enjoy! Heidi finished Kindergarten last week and it was such a bittersweet moment. This school has loved on Heidi for the last 4 years and I know we will never find another like it. The kids in the class truly cared for each other, they prayed when one of their classmates was sick, and have grown up together. Next year they will be going their separate ways.

The kiddos had a class picnic indoors {because the weather has been rainy off and on during the week} and there were photo booth options set up for them to take pictures. At night we had the BIG graduation celebration for the Class of 2016. The graduates were so excited!! They were absolutely precious with their songs! The smiles were full of joy, pride, and a hint of nervousness as they crossed the stage to receive their diplomas. I didn't cry at all, which surprised me, but I might have eaten my feelings throughout the week with a box of fudge rounds. After the ceremony we headed out to eat dinner and ate with Heidi's BFF and their family. Harrison got a little pouty, but it was incredibly late for him and he gets a little moody when he needs to eat - don't we all??

The last day of school Heidi's class had a game day and all sorts of fun! Harrison's class had a fun pizza and party celebration with a slide show of pictures showing what they did throughout the year. It was amazing to see the growth of the kids! Harrison has grown leaps and bounds this year! He went from only saying a couple of words to now chatting our ears off with words we had no idea he even knew! Seriously zero to complete sentences. After school we headed to a pool party for Heidi's class. Such a fun time and thankful the weather held out for the kids to have one last time to hang out.

Here is a little look at the first and last days of school - such a change in these little guys! I love looking back on the pictures to see how much they have changed over the years. Time really does go so quickly. I cannot believe that 7 years ago I did not think I would ever even be able to have children after Hudson died and now they are almost 6 and 3. Everyday I am so thankful to God for these sweet blessings He has allowed me to watch over. I know that they are His, but I will be eternally thankful for my entire life that He chose me to be their Mama.

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