Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Snack Time

Around here, snack time would be all the time--if the boys had their way. We try to limit snacks to twice a day, and I often run out of easy nutritious snack options. Today we tried a new snack that was a big success: chocolate, banana and peanut butter smoothie.

Here's the version we used:

1 large banana
1 cup skim milk
1 Tbsp. chunky p.b.
1 Tbsp. cocoa powder

Blend until smooth.

We had to add ice, but I'm planning on freezing my bananas next time. YUM!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Menu Plan

And here it is, the menu for the week:

Monday--Leftovers, salad, fruit salad
Tuesday--Sassy Chicken Pasta Salad and fruit
Wednesday--Homemade pizza with mushrooms, tomato and carmelized onion
Thursday--Caesar Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Friday--out of town
Saturday--out of town
Sunday--family lunch then a Passover supper with our small group. I'll be trying my hand at Matzo Apple Kugel or Crystal's Squares for Passover.

This Sassy Chicken Pasta Salad comes courtesy of my friend Karie. It's super yummy!!
1 C cherry tomatoes--halved
1/2 C mayonnaise (I use light miracle whip)
1 T. honey
2 C cooked chicken breasts cubed
1 C thinkly sliced celery
1 C red grapes halved
2 C cooked spiral pasta
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 C nuts (pistachios, cashews, almonds whatever you have!)

1. Combine all ingredients
2. Serve Chilled

How simple is that!!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Walk Like You Have Somewhere to Go by Lucille O'Neal

The mother of NBA basketball superstar, Shaquille O'Neal, Lucille O'Neal chronicles her life story in the memoir Walk Like You Have Somewhere to Go. O'Neal describes the challenges she faced growing up with divorced parents and relates how personal struggles with feelings of inferiority ultimately led to teenage pregnancy and alcohol abuse. Brought up in the church, O'Neal recounts how God drew her back to her faith through the ups and downs of marriage and parenting and how faith empowered her to change her life.

Overall, I found the book interesting, but the finer points of her message were a bit troubling. O'Neal's story is inspiring because of the hope it offers to those, particularly women, who find themselves without the resources to achieve their dreams. Her emphasis on the role faith played in her transformation was key for me because obviously, very, very few people will experience the meteoric rise in fortune that O'Neal did once her son joined the NBA. I did find myself wondering how much of her optimism and change in self-esteem came from her new status. I was also concerned by O'Neal's willingness to leave her marriage when she didn't feel that she was in love anymore. While she acknowledges her husband's support in the raising of her family, she, unfortunately, paints a picture of marriage as an institution that stifles personal fulfillment. Despite these issues, I enjoyed reading about O'Neal's life, and her primary message about the power of faith is certainly an important one.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Break

Thankfully, the sun reappeared today to kick off spring break. Yay for the sun!! We were able to squeeze in a couple of fun days of camping by heading just far enough east to miss the snow and sleet that blanketed the area. Instead, we were able to spend Friday evening and most of the day Saturday enjoying the outdoors. I'll try to post some pics in the next couple of days. We did stay in a cabin, which while not equipped with central heat, did have two stone fireplaces, requiring quite a bit of attention throughout the night--yes, we were happy to return to the warm comforts of home.

While the kiddos are on spring break, we try to incorporate something fun into each day. Today we spent part of the day with Nana and Papa; then Joel decided to surprise the boys with a new basketball hoop. They were so excited.

With Spring Break this week, I'm trying to use up many of the meals from my freezer cooking earlier in the month, so without further ado, here's the weekly menu:

Monday--Four Cheese Italian Minestrone
Tuesday--Monterey Jack ChickenAdd Image
Thursday--Creamy Chuck Roast with Mushrooms
Friday--date with Joel :)
Saturday--Garlic Parmesan Chicken
Sunday--Pancakes and Broccoli Quiche

Monday, March 15, 2010

Weekly Menu

This week is fairly low key in terms of menu planning because Joel has a meeting on Tuesday night and will be away for dinner, so the kids and I may eat out. Then on Friday we're going camping and will be sharing some meals with friends. If you have any good ideas for camping foods, I'd love to know what they are!

Tuesday--Eating Out
Wednesday--Crockpot Stroganoff
Thursday--BBQ Chicken Pizza
Friday-Sunday--Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Snacks, etc.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


We started out the weekend on Friday with the second grade history banquet at Gloria Deo. Grandma helped with Augustus Caesar's costume. I am always impressed with the presentations given by these students. They do such an amazing job!!

Saturday, little Tinkerbell's cold worsened and the weather was cold and dreary, so we stayed indoors for most of the day, giving me a chance to make these wonderful mini apple pies.

They took a little bit of time to make, but they were yummy! I had never used sucanat before, and I would assume you could just substitute brown sugar. I liked the rich, molasses flavor the sucanat added. The whole wheat crusts were not as tender as a pastry crust made from white flour, but I enjoyed the texture and liked serving the kids something sweet that was more nutritious.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Story of Easter--Story Retold by Gwen Ellis, Illustrated by Steve Smallman

The Story of Easter is a children's book that tells the Easter story from Jesus's triumphal entry into Jerusalem at Passover through His ascension. The book is divided into short two-page sections; each of these is colorfully illustrated and includes a comprehension question to help children think more deeply about the story. The book comes with a short DVD that follows the Biblical account into the the early church period. The book and DVD are suited for preschool and early elementary children.

My five-year-old and two-year-old both enjoyed both the book and the DVD, and I appreciated the fact that both the book and DVD contain details of the Biblical account that aren't always found in children's materials. Ellis writes the story in an engaging manner, and I liked how the questions make the children think about what they're hearing. I thought it was a great book!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fear and Confidence

Recently, I've been reading two books that highlight the enormous pressure that our culture places on women. Vicki Courtney's 5 Conversations You MUST Have with Your Daughter emphasizes the challenges facing young girls today and encourages mothers to think proactively about ways to address these issues and equip their daughters for strong and virtuous living. The other book I'm reading that deals with particularly feminine concerns is Beth Moore's So Long Insecurity: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us. After being reminded in Courtney's book about the intensity of the expectations society places on young women, how could I be surprised when Moore describes that "in a recent survey of more than 900 women . . . [she] found that 78 percent [of the women] admitted to having feelings of insecurity at or above a level that bothers them" (16).

In the midst of reading these books, I stumbled back across Proverbs 14:26, a verse I memorized several years ago. Here's the ESV, "In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge." I also like the Message Version: "The Fear-of-God builds up confidence, and makes a world safe for your children."

I am struck by the paradox this verse offers. In fear, there is confidence. Not only confidence but strong confidence. Fear seems to be the antithesis of confidence. Generally speaking, fear contributes to insecurity. Fear of what others think or perceive of me drives me to engage in behaviors that might not be the best. The beauty of this verse is that fear of God drives out fear of others. Fear of God builds strength and security into our lives. As an added benefit, we create a place of safety and security for our children when we rightly reverence the Lord. If we don't allow our fear of the Lord to determine our view of ourselves, we will teach our children to live in insecurity as well.

Both of these books discuss how we can allow the Word of God to guide us through the cultural traps women face today, to live as strong and virtuous women. I highly recommend both!!

Beth Moore. So Long Insecurity: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2010.

Vicki Courtney. 5 Conversations You MUST Have with Your Daughter. Nashville: B&H, 2008.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Weekly Menu

Monday--Dinner with Family
Tuesday--Chicken Black Bean Burritos
Thurday--Pita Pizza
Friday--History Banquet at School
Saturday--Marinated Chicken
Sunday--Pancakes and Eggs

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Freezer Cooking

I love having a freezer full of meals to pull from on those too busy evenings when even planning what to cook seems like an enormous chore. I don't, however, have a very good system for getting meals into the freezer. Although like the idea of once a month cooking, I never seem to have an entire day to set aside for a marathon in the kitchen. I've settled instead for making an extra meal or two over the course of several days, but this often means that for those days I spend quite a bit of extra time in the kitchen, which has happened this week. Thanks to some help from my Grandma, I did end up with quite a few meals to use this month, so hopefully that translates into less time in the kitchen for the rest of March.

Here's what I have in the freezer:
Sauced Baked Meatballs
Chicken Bruschetta Bake
Four Cheese Italian Minestrone x4
Garlic Parmesan Chicken x2
Creamy Chuck Roast with Mushrooms
Browned Hamburger Meat for Chili x2
Cooked/Cubed Chicken for Pizza
Chicken Black Bean Burritos
Lasagna x3
Monterey Jack Chicken x2
Chicken for Crockpot Stroganoff http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Slow-Cooker-Chicken-Stroganoff/Detail.aspx

I used several recipes from Don't Panic More Dinner's in the Freezer by Susie Martinez, Vanda Howell, and Bonnie Garcia. I'm particularly excited to try the Monterey Jack Chicken. I made a couple of minor changes, but here's the basic recipe:

6 fresh, boneless chicken breasts
10 oz Monterey jack cheese with jalapenos
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup bottled salsa (not chunky) or taco sauce, mild or medium
1/4 t. salt
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
2 t. chili powder
2 t. ground cumin
1 1/2 t. garlic salt
1/2 t. dried oregano

Serving day
1/4 cup butter
sliced avocado, cherry tomatoes, sour cream and salsa

Mix together eggs, salsa, and salt. In a separate pan, combine the panko breadcrumbs, chili powder, cumin, garlic salt, and oregano. Dip each chicken breast in the egg mixture to coat, then dip the breast in the panko crumb mixture. Place coated breasts in a shallow baking dish. Freeze.

Serving day
Drizzle thawed chicken with melted butter--turn to coat. Bake uncovered about 35-40 minutes, topping with cheese just before the last 5-10 minutes. Serve immediately and garnish with a side of salsa sour cream, avocado slices and tomatoes.

I actually wish those were on the menu for tonight! :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

One of the fun aspects of starting my own blog is joining some of the blogging forums that I enjoy perusing. One of these is Menu Planning Monday. So today I'm posting my menu for the week:

Monday--Incredible Pizza for a birthday party

Tuesday--Chicken Bruschetta Bake

Wednesday--Stir fry

Thursday--Chicken Ranch Pizza

Friday--Mediterranean Lasagna

Saturday--Four Cheese Italian Minestrone

Sunday--Egg Casserole and Cranberry Upside Down Coffee Cake

I'm also working on some freezer cooking this week. I'm hoping to get some Parmesan Garlic Chicken, Monterey Jack Stuffed Chicken, and Creamy Chuck Roast with Mushrooms in the freezer tomorrow while my grandma is here to help out. I'll let you know how it turns out!!