Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Roasted Mushrooms

Roasted Mushrooms

Button mushrooms
Olive oil
Garlic seasoning

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. After cleaning mushrooms, arrange them, in a single layer,  in a baking dish. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic seasoning. Toss to coat.  Bake 20-30 minutes, or until tender and a rich brown color. 

Easy Crock Pot Recipes

This page will bu under perpetual construction. I love using my crock pot and am always looking for new recipes. If you have a family favorite and would like to share, please do so in the comments section or send me a message!!

Creamy Ranch Chicken
Salsa Chicken

Up next...creamy corn casserole.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Collette's Creamy Ranch Chicken

This evening, my family was treated to a delicious crock pot chicken dish shared by my friend, Collette.  The recipe was simple to prepare, required only five ingredients, and had a wonderful flavor.  I served the chicken with roasted mushrooms, broiled green beans, and a delightful salad (prepared by my youngest).    I can't wait to enjoy this chicken again, but this sauce would also be good over pork chops, roasted mix veggies, or pasta.

Creamy Ranch Chicken

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 oz. cream cheese
1 packet ranch seasoning mix
Corn starch
Heavy cream

Lightly drizzle oil in the bottom of the crock pot. Place chicken in crock pot, set to low, and cover. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, warm cream cheese with a splash of cream to create a thick sauce. Pour over chicken, then sprinkle ranch seasoning mix on top. Cook on low about 4 hours, or until chicken is cooked through. 

Remove chicken and whisk sauce briefly.  Thicken sauce with corn starch, of desired. Sauce will thicken upon resting.   Spoon over chicken and serve. 

This picture makes me laugh. It shows what was going on behind the plate
when I took the photo at the top of the post. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Meal Plan Monday

Here's what's on the menu in our house this week. This page is under construction, but I'll update throughout the day and share it upon completion. Recipes will be added daily.

Breakfast: Fruit and toast
Lunch - Salsa chicken, rice, tortillas
Dinner - Bacon two ways (BLT's and bacon w/eggs), skillet potatoes, fruit

Breakfast - Eggs, toast, fruit salad
Lunch - Salsa Chicken soup, cheese quesadilla, sliced apples
Dinner - Chili dogs w/ fruit salad (followed by popcorn and a movie)






Sunday, November 24, 2013

Audrey's Salsa Chicken - Three Different Ways

For my birthday, my oldest daughter treated me to a new crock pot. I absolutely love practical gifts, but after a month of preparing meals from a single skillet, I really appreciated receiving this cooking tool.  I spent a bit of time on the Internet and then turned to my friends for simple, crock pot chicken recipes that they like to serve to their families. I absolutely hit the jackpot.  Thirteen friends responded with delicious sounding recipes. I'm going to try them all and share the recipes with you.

Because of the ingredients that I already had on hand, today I prepared the Salsa Chicken recipe shared by my friend Audrey.  The dish was delicious, easy to prepare, and required a minimal number of ingredients commonly found in the pantry and fridge.   It was a hit with my entire family.  I served the chicken with Spanish rice and fresh tortillas.   This is going to become one of my Sunday lunch meals.

The beans and corn, added to the chicken, created a very filling meal.   Seven chicken breasts not only fed my family of four today, but resulted in enough leftover for lunch tomorrow.  My husband will be enjoying his portion wrapped in a tortilla with cheese and sour cream.  For me and the girls, I shredded the remaining chicken and returned it to the corn and beans.  The Salsa Chicken, combined with a can of chicken broth, will give us something warm to enjoy in this cold weather. I might even surprise the girls with a cheese quesadilla.   I love the versatility of this recipe and can't wait to make it again!!

Salsa Chicken

Olive oil
4-8 chicken breasts
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 bottle salsa (I used about 12 oz.)
Shredded cheese and lettuce, optional
Diced tomato and avocado, optional
Cilantro, optional

Lightly drizzle the bottom of the crock pot with olive oil. Place chicken in the crock pot, followed by the corn, beans, and salsa. Cook on low for about six hours.  Shred chicken with a fork and serve over rice or with tortillas.   Convert to a soup by adding a carton of chicken broth.

Where are you, sleep?

The girls and I joined my husband in Austin three and a half weeks ago. We have found a church, are in the process of buying a house, and have been getting to know people. We appreciate the beauty of the area, the variety of activities available,  and living in a city that has a small town feel.  We are getting to know our way around and enjoying having our family together again.

I will admit that I like Austin, but... I miss my friends.  I miss my home.  I miss my church.  I miss the familiarity of our neighborhood.   I miss our belongings.  I miss cooking, really cooking. I miss being able to let the dogs out into the backyard without having to walk them on a leash and needing to pick up their....deposits.  I miss my backyard.  

One other thing I'll add to the list...I miss sleep.  I haven't been resting well since we arrived.  For some reason, I wake up multiple times (sometimes, like tonight, unable to fall back to sleep), I'm having wild dreams, and I'm having difficulty falling asleep in the first place.  Perhaps it's anxiety or stress. Maybe it's the fact that I'm not eating right, exercising, or in strange surroundings. Whatever the cause, a lack of rest is affecting my daytime hours.   I'm struggling with focus, exhausted, and short of patience, which doesn't mix well with us being in such tight quarters. 

Tonight, I decided to do something different. Rather than turn on the television, I picked up my iPad and started writing. I haven't blogged in a while. Maybe putting some of this stuff on electronic paper will help. As I read over my previous paragraphs, I can't help but wonder if my problem is actually a lack of control.   Right now, we are at the mercy of our lender, our realtor, our landlord, the weather, the dogs, our square footage. Our routines were thrown out the window the second we pulled out of Houston and I haven't been able to get in gear since. I haven't reworked our budget, written a meal plan, developed a homeschool schedule, or created a household routine. Our days progress haphazardly with no real structure.  I haven't been taking care of myself physically, spiritually, emotionally, or mentally.   I'm tired. 

So what can I do?  I'm going to begin my taking control of the things that I can actually control....those things pertaining to me personally.   First of all, I've got to take care of myself.  No more junk food, no more gluten, lots of water, and consistent exercise. I'm going to make it a priority to go to bed  and get up earlier. I'm going to make sure that I have some quiet time each day for prayer and study. It's time to walk away from the television and meaningless Internet activities and focus on relationships here and back home.  Those are things that I can do. 

In addition, I need to do the following:

1.  Rework our family budget.
2.  Create a healthier meal plan and grocery list.
3.  Plan a realistic daily routine that will survive the move into our new home. 
4.  Organize the homeschool day. 

Perhaps, completing these tasks and treating myself a little better will help me to let go of the anxiety, relax, and find rest.   Actually, I already feel a little better. I think I'm going to finish my glass of water and try to find dream land. I hope you're already there. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Lessons From the Little House - Say Goodbye to the Night Owl

It's been 5 days since the tiny house became our temporary home and there are a number of modifications that our family is being forced to make. Sure, there have been times when one (or more) of us have needed a little piece and quiet, which is tough to find in a two room structure.  There have been inconvenient moments when the dogs needed to head outside for potty procedures and times when we have missed their cues. Thank goodness for all of this tile.   We have all missed having some of our special belongings and there have been multiple occasions that I have regretted not bringing certain useful items.

The previous represents a few of the difficult aspects of a family of four, plus two pets, living in close quarters, but the positive (at least for me) far outweighs the negative.   Over the next few days, I'd like to share the beneficial, hopefully permanent, changes we're making and lessons we're learning.

The very first night that we stayed in the tiny house, as a family, it was quite apparent that my habit of staying up late would have to change.  When it's time for light out, there just isn't any room for night owls. The girls are sleeping in the living/dining/kitchen room on a futon and Murphy bed. My desire to stay up and watch television, read, or blog means a disruption to the girls. Because my husband has a lengthy commute, he has to be in bed and asleep at a decent hour.   So what's a mom, who likes to burn the midnight oil, to do when she needs a little quiet time?

This mom has been getting up earlier.   But it's not just my schedule that's been altered, the kids are going to bed and getting up earlier, as well.  Part of that is thanks to a certain dog, who believes that my husband's work departure is her cue to go outside. So, I've been waking much earlier than usual, taking the dogs for a short walk, then returning to get the kids ready for the day.

Our morning routine is so much different than in the past.  We literally put away the beds, have breakfast, then take the dogs for another walk...just us girls.  It's still early, when we return and we have the entire day day ahead of us. I've never been much of an early bird (how funny that both staying up late and getting up early are related in bird terms), but like the hill country, it's growing on me.