Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Another kid favorite...Homemade Mac & Cheese

From June until the middle of August
when I walk in the door each afternoon
I hear the same 5 words...
"Hi Mom, What's for Lunch?"

Well, after asking my kids what was their favorite lunch that we fixed this summer there was a tie....
"GREEN Smoothies" (click here)
and Homemade Mac' and Cheese!

I have never personally purchased a box of Mac and Cheese for my family. After hearing from Tracy that his missionary companions called it "Yellow Death" and knowing it was loaded with lots of preservatives, I couldn't bring myself to buy any, However, Tracy does occasionally throw a few boxes in the shopping cart from time to time along with Spaghettios and I just turn my head the other way (big wink)!

Jade seemed to make it through his youth without ever having Mac and Cheese at any of his friends houses, however, Ethan was introduced to this a few years ago at either a friends or cousins house and BEGGED us to buy some (which Tracy did...)
Thank Heavens for Dads!

I made it a quest to find a homemade version and one day a few years ago I
was browsing through one of my cookbooks and came across a recipe for homemade mac and cheese. I adjusted things a little and added an addition of some chicken and peas and it has been a favorite with my kids ever since.
(By adding the chicken and peas it is a complete meal in one...and not just pure Carbs.)
(Summertime and date night
are when my kids get this treat!!

I call this recipe "Chicken Noodle Casserole"
because in my mind it sounds nicer than saying "Mac and Cheese".

This is a great use way to put food storage items to use and it is tasty as well. KID Friendly meals are always great to have
and this fixes up in a hurry
if you are realizing that it is dinner time
and you haven't had time to make up anything...
this does the job everytime!!

Chicken Noodle Casserole
(“Healthy” Homemade Mac and Cheese)
(white sauce----make this while you’re cooking the noodle mixture)

1-1/2 cups water

3 Tbsp flour

4 Tbsp dry milk powder

¼ tsp salt

1 Tbsp butter

Bring water to a boil…
blend flour, dry milk powder and salt and beat into boiling water.
Reduce heat and cook for 1 minute.
Add butter and stir.

2 cups uncooked pasta (I like spirals or penne, but you can use whatever you have)
1-1/2 cups frozen peas

**1 can of “Cannery Chicken” (OR 1 or 2 cooked chicken breasts cut into small pieces)

½ tsp garlic powder

1 cup grated cheese (or more…however, much you’d like)

Add frozen peas and chicken to water and bring to a boil…
then add in pasta and cook until it’s “Al Dente”.
Drain off water and
add in white sauce, cheese and garlic powder and stir together.
Garnish with additional cheese on top, if desired.
(sometimes you may need to add a little bit of milk to it, if it has gotten too thick)

This is YUMMY!!
Kids Love it and it uses up your food storage!
Helpful Hint---I always keep frozen peas on hand. That way when you need a quick meal to throw together and you don’t have any fresh veggies, you can always add in frozen. If you can't have fresh then frozen veggies are the next best choice.
**ALSO, instead of using chicken you can put in 1/2 cup chopped ham with the white sauce as a great alternative as well.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fun snackin' for kids!

Since I posted about creating memories with my kids on Sunday, I asked them what was their favorite snack that they enjoyed the most this summer.
(besides homemade cookies).

My kids favorite snack is...
"Apple Butterflys"!!

Easy to make
uses 3 ingredients that I always have on and hand
and can be made in less than 5 minutes.

If you are looking for a fun thing to make for your kids
this summer or for a fun after school snack for them to come home to...
--take an apple and cut it in half and "core out" the middle,
--fill the middle with peanut butter,
--and put chocolate chips down both sides of it.

Guaranteed to put a smile :-)
on your kids faces everytime!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunshine for the Soul...Sunday!

"To be in your child's memories tomorrow
be in his life today"!

Idaho Falls Summer 2007
I have been thinking
about this quote a lot lately as we have had to lose a week of work during the summer without pay and so I have really enjoyed it because I have had Wednesday's off in June and July. Yay!!

As I think back about my childhood I don't really remember specific memories with my mom, except the excitement of her taking us school shopping and to lunch (just her and I) as a special day and making us a yummy cake for our birthdays. It's not that my mom didn't do things for us because she was amazing in all that she did, I just never had a lot of "one on one" with her. I was the oldest of 6 children and I was kind of like the second mom in the family and so my memories are very vague and I wish more than anything I would have had more "one on one" with her so our relationship would be better in my adult life.

(fun summer memories 2009...
swimming, hiking and LOTS of walks)

A couple of weeks ago in church we had a wonderful talk on Balance and keeping things in perspective. Balance is a difficult thing for me and is something that I am learning more and more to do each day. I am actually quite a perfectionist , but at times you wouldn't know it if you looked at how my house looks during the summer! I have found that if my yard is looking great, the inside of my house is suffering and the attention I am giving my children is suffering worse.

(funny thing...Jade went over to our neighbors house and came home and said..."Wow, mom, her house is spotlessly clean"! OOPS...I guess my kids haven't seen my house spotlessly clean since school got out...hopefully, they've had FUN memories instead...wink)

(Kids love it when you give them a listening ear, you let them help you out and you take them for walks and bike rides around your neighborhood together.)

With having time off work I have really wanted to spend the day cleaning and organizing and working in my yard, since the busy-ness of summer has put me very behind (having soccer games twice a week and trying to savor our weekends creating FUN family memories). However,
I soon realized that it is really easy as a mom to let other things occupy your kids time

(TV, friends, video games, books,etc...)
and then one day rolls into the next and you ask your kids about what fun things they remember about the week and sometimes you are not part of the memories!

My parents live in a different state and so to keep my kids writing skills up during the summer I try and have them write their grandparents a letter each week and it is fun to hear the FUN things that the kids remembered about their week when they write their letters.
I love hearing specific things
that they did with either Tracy or I.
It makes me feel like a successful parent!

(making S'mores in our back yard and more hiking/camping)
has been a year of great change for me because I am realizing really quickly how fast my children are growing up and I want to be as much a part of their lives as possible and have them remember fun and specific things that mom and dad did with them!

I think one of my very favorite quotes of all time is the following and I am realizing this more and more as I notice:
dribbles of popsicles and watermelon on my kitchen floor,
piles of laundry in my laundry room that never seem to quite get done,
a nice
protective coating of dust on my furniture,
water spots and finger prints on my mirrors/windows, etc...

Some houses try to hide the fact
That children shelter there;
Ours boasts of it quite openly,
The signs are everywhere.
For smears are on the windows,
Little smudges on the door;
I guess I should apologize
For toys strewn on the floor
But I sat down with the children
And we played and we laughed and we read;
And if the doorbell doesn't shine,
Their eyes will shine instead.
For when at times I'm forced to choose
The one job or the other;
I want to be a housewife,
But first I'll be a mother.

Yes, how very easy it is to get carried away with housework and other obligations that we can easily lose perspective of our most important job of being a mom!!

(Ethan LOVES when I bake homemade cookies and likes to be my helper as well)

Finding the right BALANCE
in being a mom/housewife is my challenge that I am dealing with this summer, but, after 7 weeks of summer I am definitely a lot better at this than I was when summer vacation first began.
Progress is a good thing...and I am making progress daily!
(before I know it my kids will be back in school and things will be back in order at the level I like them to be, but I know that I will be greatly missing my afternoons of fun with my even though life's not perfect right now the cherished daily time I get with my kids and hubby is the most important thing in my life!)

I want more than anything
to be in my children's memories tomorrow
so I am making every effort possible to BE
in their lives today!!
(and maybe someday I will have some free time to actually get these quotes cross-stitched and hanging in my house)

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow.
For children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Wonderfully Delicious Lentils!

What's for Dinner...Lentils?
What is that?!?


and a very informative link to click on to
see the wonderful health benefits AND nutritional values of lentils:

click here

It's been over 15 years since I was introduced to Lentils.
(although, Tracy has been eating these since he was a kid as his mom cooked up many legumes for her family)
While I was pregnant with Jade "Folate" was a hot topic for pregnant moms to make sure the you got enough folic acid to prevent "Spinalbifida" and so I read LOTS of books on health and nutrition and came across great information on eating plenty of lentils to add folic acid to your diet.

Tracy and I have always been frugal, but nutritious and healthy with our eating habits and so while I was pregnant with Jade is when I first started "sprouting" lentils to provide some LIVE food in our diet and at that time I also came across this great Lentil Stew recipe
(recipe shown below after the sprout information).

Sprouts have been a wonderful thing to make up in the winter time as sometimes we don't have as much "fresh" produce" as we would like to have and this adds "LIVE" food to your diet.
I have sprouted many different seeds/beans, and I always come back to sprouting LENTILS because they are just SO easy and you don't have to let them sit in the sun to get chlorophyll...
in less than 3 days you can have sprouts to enjoy and the only supplies you need are
a wide mouth mason jar ** cheese cloth ** rubber band.
How easy could they be to easy as
---soaking overnight
---rinsing 3 times a day
---and at the end of day 3 you can enjoy them!!

At the first of the summer when we got so much rain, I was seriously thinking our garden may not grow and we would be grateful we had could at least make up sprouts!!

So, here is some helpful information to show you how easy these sprouts are to make up. I made these up weekly when we lived in a 1 bedroom apartment with the tiniest little kitchen ever and so if I could do that then... then ANYONE can do it!!

BTW...1 cup of lentils costs .48
and so since you only use 1/2 cup of lentils
to make sprouts,
it costs .24 for a mason jar of sprouts...
very thrifty, healthy, nutritious and a
wonderful way to use your food storage in times of need!!

IF YOU CAN'T read the writing
on the photos they are ALL clickable so you can see the wording better!

As far as the taste of sprouted LENTILS....
they remind me of the taste of "fresh peas".
They are crunchy and oh so yummy
and great to put on sandwiches, to eat plain,
to add to salads, or to throw in a pot of soup.

What do you get when you combine the above ingredients...
Delicious, Hearty Lentil Stew
Delicious Lentil Stew

1 cup
dried lentils

4 cups beef OR chicken broth
1 chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
2 large stalks celery
4 carrots
4 medium potatoes
1 can “Mexican” stewed tomatoes
1 can “Italian” stewed tomatoes
(cooked brown rice AND chow mein noodles)

Combine lentils, broth, carrots, onions, garlic, potatoes and tomatoes.
Cook til veggies are “crisp-tender”.
When “crisp-tender” add celery.
Cook til celery is tender.
Serve over brown rice AND chow mein noodles.

GREAT low calorie,
but make you feel full kind of meal!
(You will never know it’s meatless)

How frugal is this meal?
lentils--- .48
broth--- .25
onion/garlic--- .20
carrots, celery, potatoes---.50
stewed tomatoes--- $1.38
Rice/chow mein noodles---$1.00

We fed 4 people 2 dinners and
people 1 lunch for this price!!

Gotta love the thrift of cooking from scratch with legumes.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunshine for the Soul...Sunday!

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Live the life you have imagined.”
~~Henry David Thoreau

(my photos are clickable)
Death Canyon Shelf 2006
(the Tetons are in the background)
Only 3 more weeks until we are once again backpacking
in the Grand Teton/Jedidiah Smith Wilderness area---I can't wait!
I LOVE hiking in this area and it is what I look forward to all year long!

I LOVE the above quote...because sometimes it's tempting to do what other people are doing because we don't dare to be "Different" and chase our own dreams and passions. I learned quite a few years ago that I had dreams that were different than others around and so I decided I'm going to embrace my dreams and I'm going to live the life I have always imagined!!
(even though they are different than my friends/family)

My dreams are FREEDOM from the stress of debt
(only 4 years and 5 months to go)
and most of all to have more TIME...
Time to backpack and hike ALL we want because
we don't have to live for vacations and "3 day weekends".

Time to spend more quality time with friends and family instead of always having to RUSH from one thing to the next.

TIME to give more service to others and to travel to third world countries and help children less fortunate.

TIME to prepare and get in shape and so I can run the Teton Dam Marathon

TIME to chase my dreams of...
---bicycling with Tracy from Coast to Coast (Oregon to Maine)
---Traveling Highway 1 on a motorcycle with Tracy
---and backpacking and hiking the entire Appalachian Trail
(or at least some of it)
and most of all TIME and money to TRAVEL and see more of this beautiful world that we live in with My Family. I want to see and experience things in real life and not just by looking at photos and reading books!!

YES, I hope that all of us can be confident enough to go in the direction of our dreams and truly live the LIFE we have always Imagined!!

We each hold the road map to our lives and we can steer ourselves in any direction we choose to go and make our dreams become realities!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Bean Dish to enjoy all year long!!

I love taking dried pinto beans
and sorting through them, filling a pan with water and then letting them soak over night. The next morning when I wake up I rinse them well, add in more water and let them cook all day until they are tender.

The thrift of cooking with dried beans
is truly joyful and rewarding to me!

A few months ago we had a funeral in our community and I was asked to bring a pot of baked beans for the family dinner after the funeral. Well, my week got away from me and I awoke the morning of the funeral and quickly remembered I had to bring these...I panicked for a minute and then ran and grabbed a bag of cooked beans from my freezer, defrosted them, mixed the ingredients together and baked them for an hour and a half and we had a pan of piping hot baked beans and that were
absolutely delicious, thrifty and SO quick and easy to make.

I really enjoy this recipe because we can enjoy it all year round.
In the Fall, Winter and Spring
I bake these up and we enjoy baked bean casserole with corn bread
(click here for cornbread recipe)

In the Summer
I bake these up and they are the perfect baked beans for a Summer Picnic!!
We've enjoyed them on picnics a few times this summer
and they have been a hit every time.

Most people think that cooking with "dry beans" is too much of a hassle, but that couldn't be further from the truth. What saves me time is I take a weekend and cook up a large stock pot of beans and then put them into quart sized bags and freeze them.
That way, instead of using cans of beans from the store, I can pull cooked beans from my freezer to make up meals and it's using my dried beans that are plentiful in my food storage.
I LOVE cooking once
and having many meals from that one time of cooking!

Here is a HELPFUL TIP for Bacon---
Cut the packages in half when you get home from the store and then freeze them. That way you can add the flavor of bacon to your soups/beans without adding as many calories AND it saves money as well!

After I have cooked beans all day, I usually end up making "Beans and Hamhocks" (click here for recipe) for dinner that night and then the rest of the beans get put in the freezer for future meals.

Baked Bean Casserole by Kimmie
6 cups
cooked Pinto beans

1 can
Great Northern beans
1/2 pkg bacon cut into small pieces
1 large chopped onion (OR 2 small chopped onions)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2/3 cup

1 Tbsp

1 Tbsp

1 tsp
Worcestershire sauce

cut up bacon and chopped onions until bacon is fully cooked and onions are tender.
Mix in remaining ingredients and
bring to a boil.
Bake for 1 to 1-1/2 hours in 325 degree oven.
***(you can delete the can of Great Northern beans and just use 8 cups of pinto beans instead...but, I like adding in the Great Northern beans for color)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunshine for the Soul...Sunday!

"Stop every now and then.

Just stop and enjoy.
Take a deep breath.
Relax and take in the abundance of life!"

(my photos are clickable)
Teton Crest Trail 2005

I love this photo...

we had just climbed up over a high mountain pass and we were at the top and everywhere we turned and looked there was complete beauty all around us and when I looked back I saw that Tracy had stopped to take it in and "write a quick note" in his journal.
He never seems too busy to stop, ponder and enjoy!

while it is a wonderful time of year,
it seems to be a busy time of year...

With gardens and flower beds to weed,
lawns to mow,
a whole yard to keep WATERED,
houses to keep clean,
kids, spouses and grandchildren that we need to nourish, take care of and spend time with,
church callings, work,
family vacations and reunions and the list goes on.

In the midst of this crazy thing we call LIFE,
I need to follow this council better and remember to take time every day to
RELAX....take a deep breath
and take in the abundance and beauty of life!!

I am SO grateful to be married to such a wonderful man who loves and appreciates nature as much as I do and makes sure we take time during each day to SAVOR the moment and relax and enjoy the world of beauty that surrounds us!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It's the "little things" that make life big!!

"Each day of our lives
we make deposits in the
memory banks of our children."
~~Charles R. Swindoll

(click on the photo)

I can't believe the year is half over! How did that seems like just yesterday it was New Years!!

As I reflect daily on my Resolutions hanging on my fridge I am realizing that we are have done quite a few of these, however, I would like to do a lot more of them.

I want my children's memory banks to be FULL of lots of wonderful memories of spending time with their parents and doing fun things as a family!

We gave the kids options of things we could do for the next 3 days of having work off, (we gave them some pretty FUN things that we could do), Ethan's comment was..."I just want to go fishing".
It made me realize that it really is the LITTLE things in life for children that make life BIG!!
And most important spending TIME with their parents!

So, I thought I would share my Resolutions again and this may give people some FUN ideas of things to do with their kids the rest of this year to create wonderful, FUN memories for them!
(click on the photo)
(quoted from my post made in January)
"Anyway, as I was organizing I came across an article in the paper that I had laminated last year to put on my fridge and these are some great new years resolutions. Now mind you, they are not the typical new years resolutions, but they are truly things that your family and kids will probably never forget and so I am going to list these and try hard with my family to do many of the things on this list this year".

New Years Resolutions 2009!!

--Sleep outside in the yard with my children
--Always use a speaking voice
--Let them find out themselves "why not" when it won't hurt them
--Say "YES" more often
--Stay up late and show my sons how to use a telescope
--Teach my children to find constellations
--Teach my children how to skip rocks
--Let them explore more
--Go fishing more
--Get up early and enjoy the sunrise
--Lay on blankets and watch the stars at night and enjoy the phases of the moon
--Build a snow cave
--Help my children answer "what if" questions
--Teach my dog a new trick
--Build a tree house or clubhouse
--Eat a meal with chopsticks
--Fly more KITES!
--Build a catapult to throw snowballs and water balloons
--Go snowshoeing
--Eat a meal with no silverware--right off the plastic tablecloth
--Do something special and "out of the blue" more often for Tracy
--Go cross country skiing
--Teach my children to ice skate
--Read the "Harry Potter" series with my kids
--Teach my children how to use a compass
--Have dinner on a blanket on the grass more often during the summer
--Make homemade ice cream
--Make vacations a TIME not a destination!
--Go hiking more
--Make cookies for the specific reason to "dunk" them in milk and enjoy being a kid!
--Have a water fight
--Mix Mentos with Coke for a family activity
--Teach my kids how to light a fire without matches
--Have less rushed and more meaningful dinner times!
--Accept the mess
--Go backpacking more
--Set up tents in the living room and sleep in them
--Read "The Spiderwick Chronicles" series to my kids
--Make more popcorn
--Sing in the car
--Make homemade milkshakes
--Teach my children to make paper airplanes
--Put together a jigsaw puzzle
--Let my children choose what color we paint their bedrooms
--Let them help paint
--Go camping more
--Go to the lake and make sand castles and bury each other in the sand
--Take dancing lessons with my husband
--Cook in our Dutch ovens more
--Enjoy the sunset with my kids more often
--Take a raft or canoe out on the river or lake
--Roast more hot dogs and marshmallows
--Explore some caves
--Visit Oregon
--Have a weekly family bike ride
--Try some foods from other countries

****Don't make checking off this list so important that we don't enjoy what we do!

I probably won't be posting for a week, since I am doing what I LOVE most...
spending time with my KIDS and HUBBY!

Talk to you in a week
and I hope you are having lots of FUN
with your families as well!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

An old time favorite...Perfected!!

There is nothing that makes a home
smell more yummy than baking up anything
that has CINNAMON in it!!

Since my childhood, one of my favorite cookies has been "Snickerdoodles"!!
If there were ever a selection of cookies
and Snickerdoodles was one of the choices,
then that is what I would choose.
I LOVE them!!

However, in my 19 years of marriage,
every time I have made them they either turn out
FLAT as pancakes
HARD as rocks.

this Spring-time I worked on my recipe tweaking it here and there and now I have finally have a recipe that turns out GREAT every-time.

(My family probably gets sick of these as I pretty much make these every week!)

They're great for summer picnics,
to eat with hot chocolate or herbal tea in the winter,
or for anytime you need a yummy cookie to snack on!

YAY for Snickerdoodles!!

Cream together:
½ cup butter
¾ cup white sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. Cream of tarter
½ tsp. Soda
¼ tsp. Salt
1 egg

Then add:
1-3/4 cup flour (I use UNBLEACHED flour)

Mix and roll into balls (roll these into cinnamon and sugar)
Place on cookie sheet and put cookie sheet in fridge for 2-3 minutes
10-12 minutes at 400 degrees.
(or until no longer doughy)