Roasted Veggies

Confession Time- I love to get breakfast from the hot bar at PCC or Whole Foods. It’s quick and tasty but as with any salad or hot bar it’s way overpriced. One of the things I love to get is the mixed roasted veggies. But at $8.99/pound you’re paying a premium for that zucchini, onion, mushroom, pepper or squash which would otherwise cost you under $2.00/pound. To purge myself of the guilt, this week I made a big tray of roasted veggies at home that I will use for quick healthy to-go food or as additions to the meals of the week.

Ingredients:

Zucchini, Mushrooms, Yellow Squash, Onion, Bell Pepper

Roasted Vegetables
Before Cooking – So Pretty and Organized
Method:

Chop veggies (make sure they’re similar in size so you get even cooking). Drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle salt, pepper, thyme (or any other herbs you like)  Bake at 4256 for 15-20 minutes (or until desired tenderness).  I like to leave a little crunch to mine.  Nothing worse than soggy zucchini.

Now it’s your turn to confess….

The Jellyfish Book Review #2

Well, it’s that time again…time for the second Jellyfish Book Review. Jellyfish read 5 books in February. Her ratings and favorite are listed below.
Other exciting news from last month….Jellyfish turned 9!  Happy Birthday!

JELLYFISH BOOK REVIEW #2 – February
Jellyfish Favorite of the month…
Beezus and Ramona ~By Beverly Cleary

Jellyfish Rating – 3 Hearts, Loved It!

Beezus and Ramona is the first book in a series.  Ramona is a trouble maker.  Her sister, Beezus, whose real name is actually Beatrice calls Ramona a pest.  Ramona doesn’t think she’s a pest. In this book she gets in trouble and ruins her sister’s birthday cake…..twice.  There are eight great Ramona books.  Ramona goes to school, plays with friends and has all kinds of adventures.

Other Reads of the month…
Nancy Drew Diaries: Mystery of the Midnight Rider ~by Carolyn Keene

Jellyfish Rating – 2 Hearts, Liked It!
Bad Kitty: Puppy’s Big Day ~by Nick Brul


Whatever After: Sugar and Spice ~by Sarah Mlynowski
Jellyfish Rating – 3 Hearts, Loved It!
Billie B Mysteries: Spooky House ~by Sally Rippin
Jellyfish Rating – 2 Hearts, Liked It!
Do you have any book suggestions for Jellyfish to read this month?

5 Ways to Make Meal Prep Work For You

For me it seems to be a constant challenge to make week night meals at home and healthy without feeling stressed and rushed.  We usually get home around between 430-500 and little Armadillo is climbing my legs starving to death like she hasn’t eaten in two days at 530.  So without snacking her until she won’t eat her dinner, I’ve had to figure out how to make yummy quick meals that are healthy and no too complicated during the week.  These tips aren’t new or ground breaking, but hey, they’re doing the trick for us. :o)

What's for dinner?
Weekly Meal Plan
  1. PLAN PLAN PLAN.  I created a weekly meal plan template, laminated it and stuck it to my refrigerator.  It’s right next to my grocery list and monthly school lunch menu.  The week’s where I don’t take the time to plan are AWFUL.  Without the plan, my shopping is unguided and I end up with a bunch of mismatched groceries that somehow never strike my fancy when it comes time to cook.  There’s nothing worse than staring into the refrigerator with no idea what you’re doing for the dinner and the kids beginning to circle.  I also have a spot on my plan for Snacks/Breakfasts so that I know what I’m baking on the weekend to have ready-to-go during the week.  Even if you don’t plan out the entire week, but just get a few days ahead of yourself, this is going to help.
  2. DOUBLE DUTY.  Make your food work for you.  When you’re writing your weekly meal plan be intentional about creating meals that feed into one another.  This can cut down on cooking time and helps on the really busy nights.  For example this week I have taco night and chili on the menu.  When I make my pot of chili I will brown double the amount of meat needed and reserve half of it for taco night.  There are lots of ways to do this…extra Baked Chicken can be used later in the week for chicken enchiladas, chicken tortilla soup, chicken salad for lunches, taquitos, etc…I think you get the point.
  3. WEEKEND PREP.  Make time to prep one extra meal on the weekend that will serve you during the week.  I use this time to make a quiche, muffins, or a casserole that can be used for on-the-go breakfasts or a quick reheat dinner.  While my baking is in the oven I look over my weekly meals…do I have multiple meals that need chopped veggies, garlic, onions?  If so, I chop up the 2-3 onions that I’ll need and put them in bags or containers in the refrigerator so they’re ready to use.  Chop veggies for quick go-to snacks.  I’ll be honest with you….I don’t do this every weekend, but I should because when I do it my week night evenings run much smoother.
  4. MULTI-TASK.  Make two dinners at once….or at least parts of the second dinner.  Sometimes I know that there will be a night that we have lots of errands to run that will make cooking a chore so the day before I do a little extra work.   Tonight while I was making dinner on the stove, I threw chicken into the oven that will serve tomorrow’s dinner.  I also boiled some eggs for breakfast the rest of the week.
  5. MAKE MORE.  Making a pot of soup, chili or a casserole?  Make enough to freeze a portion for a dinner later on.  I do this every time we make soup, chili or lentils.  Soup and salad makes a quick healthy meal and keeps us for hoping on the dominos app.  Making pancakes?  Double the batch.  Lay the extras on a cookie sheet, freeze and once frozen store in a freezer bag.  These heat up in a minute for breakfast or breakfast for dinner.
Meal Planning Center - Refrigerator
Refrigerator Command Center

What do you do to make week-night meal prep easier for you and your family?

Want a free copy of my meal-planner?  Subscribe to the blog and leave a comment and I’ll send you a PDF so you can begin planning today.

OverDrive – My Audio Book Heroine Fix

Kids, home and work keep me so busy I don’t often have time to sit down and read…here comes OverDrive to the rescue!

Wow.  That title is a little strong, but I hope it grabbed your attention.

One of the things that brings me great joy is getting lost in a good book. It’s not unusual for me to reread a favorite book over and over.  To me it’s like a visit with an old friend.   Right now…a very neglected friend.

As a busy working mom reading is one thing that I struggle to make time for.  Until recently I’d never been big on the idea of audio books.  So ignorant I was.  My dad finally convinced me to give them and try and it has turned my world around.  I am hooked!  I mean it…hooked. Now every day on my commute to and from work which is anywhere from 1 to 2 hours a day depending on traffic, I am listening to books.  Sometimes I pop my headphones on and slip my phone in my pocket to listen while I’m folding laundry or cooking dinner.  Since I started listing in the fall, I’ve listed to at least 10 books.  Guess how many I’ve had time to sit down and read….0.

There are lots of ways to access audio books but I’m a big fan of free stuff so I use the OverDrive app on my phone.  It connects to my local library (library card required) and I can borrow an audio book at no cost for 7-21 days.

Don’t get me wrong…listening to audio books won’t take place of my love of actually sitting down with book in hand, but it’s a fair substitute when you don’t seem to have the time to sit.

In my dream house I will have a reading nook something like this. Maybe add a curtain so I can hide in there. :o)

Comfy nook surrounded by books.
Dream House Book Nook

What’s your favorite hobby and how do you make time for it as a busy mom?

This post contains affiliate links – if you make a purchase through one of these links, you’re supporting this blog.  Thanks!

Treasuring the Moments

Choose joy over worry and make time to treasure the moments

As a working mom sometimes I find myself stressing, worrying, obsessing (whatever you want to call it) over the lack of time that I have with my kids.  I get up and head out early to beat traffic seeing them only for a few minutes as I rush to get ready and out the door.  After work I pick them up from school, we run a few errands and we’re home for dinner, homework, etc.  Armadillo is only 18 months so she’s in bed around 630. Jellyfish goes to bed around 8 so some nights we have less than an hour to actually enjoy each other.  Sometimes we’re doing chores right up to bedtime.  On those days I struggle….wishing I didn’t have to work so much…fantasizing about winning the lottery.  Wondering if I’m doing a good enough job as a mom.  Wondering if the kiddos feel loved and treasured.  I know there are so many of you moms out there that can relate to this struggle.

Choose Joy Over Worry and Make Time to Treasure the Moments

Moments

Last week Jellyfish made this picture for me.  That’s a picture of a little basket full of “moments.”  I hung it up on my wall at work so when I’m at work wishing I was home, I look at this and remember that I just need to do my best and be purposeful about treasuring each moment that we do have together.

I close my eyes, take a deep breath, choose joy over worry and carry on.

What do you do to make sure that you are treasuring the moments with your little ones?

No Fail Banana Bread

This no fail recipe has saved my bananas many a time when I let them sit on the counter too long. The kids love it too and it’s easy enough for them to help.

I’m not a huge fan of bananas.  I know they are good for you, yada yada, but I really do have to force myself to eat them.  That said, I buy them because they’re good for you and the kids eat them but sometimes…okay…quite often they sit on the counter and over-ripen. I HATE throwing away food.  It just seems so wrong when there are people all around the world going without.

Banana Bread to the rescue!

These banana muffins disappear in no time.

My mom gave me this recipe and it is super.  Whether it’s in the shape of muffins or loaves of bread it always turns out great!  The kids love it and I love it because it is simple and tasty.  Jellyfish (my daughter) also loves to put her apron on and help with this one.  There’s something about smashing (bananas) that just makes you feel good.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 Bananas (ripe and smashed)
  • 1/2 C Butter (soft)
  • 1 C Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 C Flour
  • 1 t Baking Soda
  • 1/4 t Salt
  • OPTIONAL ADD-INS (1 or two at the max)
  • 1/2 C Walnuts (chopped)
  • 1/2 C Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 C Peanut Butter Chips
  • 1/2 C Oatmeal

Method

  1. Cream butter & sugar.
  2. Add eggs one at a time and beat well
  3. Add bananas and any add-ins and stir
  4. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl
  5. Add slowly to wet mixture
  6. Pour mix into muffin tins or greased loaf pan
  7. Bake at 350 degrees.  20 minutes for muffins, 60 minutes for loaf or until bread is golden and toothpick comes out clean.
Banana Muffins
Golden Brown and Delicious

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through this link you’re supporting the blog at no cost to you.  Thank you! Thank you!

What’s your favorite recipe to cook with your kids?

Subscribe to receive posts by email.

The Jellyfish Book Review #1

I’m always looking for ways to get my 8-year-old daughter (Jellyfish) to read and write more.  She takes after me in that she loves, loves, loves to read so that isn’t too much of a challenge.  Since we have so little time together after work and before bedtime, I also try to get her involved in the things that I do….hence the new monthly Jellyfish Book Review on this blog.  Jellyfish is currently in 3rd grade, reading at about a 4th grade level so you’ll see books in that general range right now.  She will be compiling a list of books that she reads each month, rating them (o to 3 hearts) and then writing a short snip-it of her favorite book that month.  So without further ado…

Jellyfish Book Review #1

Beforever: The One and Only: A Maryellen Classic 1 ~By Valerie Tripp

Jellyfish Rating – 3 Hearts, Loved It!
Jellyfish Favorite of the month…

Beforever is about Maryellen and her family.  Maryellen starts a new grade in school.  She also wants to spend Christmas with Grandmom and Grandpop and have the perfect snowy Christmas.  She makes new friends with a girl named Angela.  She has three sisters and 2 brothers. Carolyn, Joan and Queen Beverly are her sisters.  Tom and Mikey are her brothers. I love this book because Maryellen discovers that family and friends are more important than anything else.

Other Reads of the month…
Junie B. Jones and Some Sneaky Peeky Spying  ~By Barbara Park

Jellyfish Rating – 2 Hearts, Liked It!

Strangers on a Train (Nancy Drew Diaries) ~By Carolyn Keene

Jellyfish Rating – 3 Hearts, Loved It!

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click on a link and make a purchase it doesn’t change your price but I may get a small kick back which helps support this blog.

Have a child in elementary school?  What are their favorite books?

Thinking and Planning

I didn’t do a great deal of blogging in January, but I did do a great deal of thinking and planning.  I generally don’t make New Year’s resolutions because I don’t like to set myself up for failure.  I do, however, like to take some time to think about what I need (and my family needs) in the upcoming year.  What will help us get to our goals? What will bring us joy, etc, etc?Image result for planning

Here is my brainstorm of some of the ideas, wishes, hopes, plans, wants that have been swimming around in my mind that I plan to put into practice in the upcoming months. Rest assured as they roll out, you’ll hear about them here…in a much more organized fashion, I promise.

  • Blogging.  Setting a schedule for blog posts.  Being more consistent.  Getting the kids involved….this will be fun.
  • Being purposeful with my time and our family time.
  • Getting rid of the clutter.  While I’m fascinated with the Tiny House movement, I know that’s not practical or possible for me with a husband and 2 (soon to be 4 children).  I do want to adopt some of the themes of simplicity that are necessary with a tiny house though.
  • Cooking at home more.  Meal planning.  Cooking with the kids.  Doing more prep on the weekend.
  • Paying off debt AND saving.

I’d love your input on what you’d like to see on this blog.  Post a comment below for grins.

5 Kitchen Gadgets I Love

This post contains affiliate links.

There are thousands of kitchen gadgets out on the market that can do everything and anything for you quicker, easier…slice, dice, shred, hold, shape, mold, clean, cook it fast, cook it slow, fry it…just try it!  I’d wager that the vast majority of gadgets end up relegated to the back of a cabinet or drawer to collect dust after the first few uses.  I try really hard not to purchase gadgets for the kitchen unless I know for sure that they will get a lot of use.  So if you’re looking for a gift for yourself  or a wedding gift that’ll actually get used, here is a short list of my favorite kitchen gadgets.  And, yes, I actually do use these.

#1 – Inspiralizer – I tried a few different hand held spiralizers that promised to be easy breezy, but they were not. They lied. This one, however, I love. It has suction so that it stays firmly in place on your counter, 4 different blades for variety of size/shape and is pretty easy to clean. My daughter won’t get near a zucchini with a 10-foot pole, but she loves zoodles…go figure. Another bonus is that there is an Inspiralizer app that has awesome free recipes.

#2 – Mircoplane – This is great for zesting citrus, parmesean or spices.  Easy to use and clean.
#3 – Immersion Blender – This is my go to tool when I’m making soups.  Forget letting it cool and ladling it into a blender and then back and forth….just use this immersion blender and that chunky potato or broccoli soup becomes thick and creamy.

#4 – Kitchen Aid Blender – I love love love ice.  Forget hot tea, I’ll take an iced-tea any time of the year!  I also, shhh, have quite a love affair with slushy blended drinks.  So while others may use their blenders for smoothies, soups, etc….I have used mine mostly for yummy icey blended drinks.  Here’s my favorite at the moment…Frozen Lemonade with Coconut RumFollow  my drinks board on Pinterest for other great ideas I’ve found and saved.
Drinks Board

#5 – Cuisinart Food Processor – Most of the time I get out the trusty old knife and cutting board, but when I’m doing a big prep for the week or freezing garlic or ginger cubes (post coming soon) I couldn’t do without this baby.  Also…it’s makes whipping up a pie crust a cinch!  They also have a mini which is great for smaller jobs.

I live for comments — What is your favorite can’t-live-without-it kitchen gadget?

Saffron Rice

I love making saffron rice. It’s a quick, easy and delicious side. I have to admit that this is the only recipe currently in my collection that uses saffron but that is one of my goals to remedy this year. In the next few months I plan to try out several new recipes that use saffron. Rest assured I’ll be sharing my successes and failures here for your enjoyment.  For now here’s my recipe for saffron rice.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup basamati rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion – diced
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Method

  1. Heat sauce pan and then add olive oil and diced onion. Sauté until onion is tender but not browned.
  2. Add rice, water, saffron and salt. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove pan from heat and leave lid on pan for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove lid and use fork to fluff rice. Serve immediately.

I served this rice tonight with roasted veggies and baked herb chicken.


Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss my future saffron adventures.

I love comments…do you have any favorite saffron recipes I need to try?

 

This post was shared on…

The Chicken Chick's Clever Chicks Blog Hop www.The-Chicken-Chick.com