Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Super Easy, Super Yummy Supper!

It is always a challenge to find a supper that we ALL will enjoy... and tonight we hit the jackpot! Even picky-picky #3 had thirds of this dish. I am currently using E-Mealz for menu planning every week (more thoughts on that later) which has been helpful as my appetite is less than typical. Our list of 'everyone will eat' meals is as follows:

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Bean & Cheese Burritos
French Toast
Chicken Nuggets and French Fries
Spaghetti (only with spaghetti noodles, though... don't try to feed her any other kind of noodle!)

And now... Chicken & Couscous!

Here's what I did:
-1 box of roasted pine nut couscous (I used Near East) prepared as directed on box... except I put a chicken bullion cube in with the seasoning & water
-4 chicken breasts, cut into bite-size chunks, cooked in olive oil seasoned with basil, oregano, garlic, majoram and thyme (can also use a Greek Seasoning)
-1/2 container of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
-2 oz. feta cheese

Stir everything together in a casserole dish and serve!
It took about 20 minutes to prepare on the stove cook top and we ate a fresh salad/fresh veggies as a side dish. There was enough left over for my hubby to take for his lunch tomorrow.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Full Hands

Sometimes its so hard to look past the business of parenting young children. Sarah W. at Give Me Neither shared some great thoughts about that today. A few months back, as I was grocery shopping with the three kiddos, a middle-aged women approached my cart. She looked at me, at the kids, and back to me and commented, "if all those children are yours, you are very blessed."

Whoever this woman is, these words have come back to me time after time as an echo of how God views my children, and that my attitude and actions should reflect God's.

It is quite obvious that I am pregnant. Stick a personal sized watermelon under your shirt and you'd resemble me quite accurately. Conversations naturally evolve around the expected baby and I get a lot of raised eyebrows when others learn this will be our fourth child. One of the most common comments people make goes something like, "you'll certainly have your hands full!". Yes. I like to reply, "my hands are full of blessings".

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Cherries, Revisited

When I started this blog, it was more for me. To remember what it was like to be the wife and mom in a busy, young family. Today my blogging paid off when I needed to look up how I preserved cherries. I didn't can any last year, because we had enough from 2009. My ultimate goal is to can cherries, peaches, applesauce & tomatoes on an every-other-year rotation.

We went to Well's Orchard this year for our cherries. Last year we picked at Robinette's and we used Moelker Orchards in 2009. After visiting 3 different orchards, Well's and Moelker have lower-hanging trees and more easily maneuvered aluminum ladders. This is highly valuable when one a) is rather pregnant and b) brings along a 15 month old to join the fray. My neighbor picked at Robinette's today and shared a few sweet cherries with me - they are darker, softer and sweeter than the ones I picked last week, but it may also be a different variety. She noted that the tart cherries were easily picked from the ground.

This year I paid $1.50/pound for u-pick and took home 22 lbs.
Some we ate fresh (not too many... the kids had their fill at the orchard)
6.5 pints canned (1 quart jar didn't seal)
12-ish quarts frozen

The next adventure will be blueberries. My favorite website for checking out farms and orchards also has nice info on preserving the produce.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Strawberry Season

We visited DeLange's Redberry Farm yesterday to pick strawberries. Never picked strawberries before (in my adult memory). Always stayed away because I thought it was too much work. Well, think again! I picked 24 pounds of berries (mostly myself) in less than 90 minutes while chatting with friends and keeping an eye on the kids. They were $1.50/pound this year for the U-pick. And we had a great morning!

It had rained the previous day so the field was wet. We wore rain boots and just didn't worry too much about the mud. I was quite pleased to find that DeLange's use a technique for field drainage that makes picking much easier - there are troughs between rows so the rows seem elevated! My back was thankful for that. However there are other muscles that got a nice workout... stairs were a little slow this morning!

So far I've allocated strawberries for:
2 Strawberry Pies
2 loaves Strawberry Bread - not to self: do NOT over mix!!!
1 double recipe Strawberry Rhubarb Cake
1 double batch of no-sugar jam (recipe from inside the box of pectin)
1 double batch no-sugar strawberry-rhubarb jam (modified recipe from box of pectin)
7 quarts in the freezer for smoothies, topping, baking etc. over the next 12 months
about 2 quarts for eating fresh

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I'm like my mom - ideas are a dime a dozen. We are idea people. A few weeks ago I had a GREAT idea! Since Baby Girl gets her clothes from the baby big and tall shop, we were starting to have pajama sleeper issues. They (the clothing makers) just don't make those wonderful sleep sacks bigger than a 9 month size. We do live in Michigan. It does get cold here. The baby wiggles. A lot. Especially in her sleep. Blankets are not an option.

So I mentioned to my sister that I thought I might make a fleece blanket bag for the baby to use in the winter. Being the wonderful, thoughtful and crafty sister she is, she actually found some great (cheap!) fleece and flannel at a Five and Dime store.

Three weeks later, the material is still sitting, unstitched, in the kitchen.

Today in a mad attempt to remain awake from 11 pm last night until 8 pm this evening, my "octurnal" sister decided to take upon herself this sewing project. We (mostly 'she') got two of the three intended projects completed this afternoon:
1 - using a 0-9 month sack sleeper as a "pattern", we traced around the edges + 1". Pretty much "eyeballed" everything else.
2 - Make quick trip to fabric store for zippers and snaps.
3 - Let previously mentioned sister sew!
4 - Baby model time
5 - Alternative style - sleeveless. The third sleeper will be purple fleece, long sleeved and flannel-lined.
We thought about using a pattern, but never got on the computer to look. If you aren't into "eyeballing" or don't have a smaller sleeper to pattern after, try looking for a bunting pattern.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Perfect Lasagna!

It's fall sports season... and for our family that means wonky schedules. That also means it's crock season! Wednesday we attended a district cross-country meet so I threw a lasagna in the crock pot. It turned out perfectly and the best part is that you don't have to precook the noodles. Click on the link for the original recipe

Ness's Crock pot Lasagna (with Joy's modifications!)

Brown: 1 lb ground beef with 1 onion finely chopped and 2 cloves garlic crushed & minced. Drain grease and mix with 1 jar (28 oz) spaghetti sauce and a little extra (maybe 1/4 cup more) - I prefer chunky garden style.

Mix well: 1 lb. cottage cheese, 3 cups mozzarella/Italian cheese blend, 1 scrambled egg, 1/4 cup milk and 1 box of frozen spinach, thawed & squeezed dry.

Grease the bottom and sides of crock.

Spread about 1/4 of the sauce/meat on bottom of crock. Layer noodles (break to fit), 1/3 of cheese. Repeat with sauce - noodles - cheese for two more layers. Top with remaining sauce. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of water along sides of crock.

Cook on high for 3 hours.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Locks of Love

Inspired by my niece, Grace, I decided to grow out my hair for the purpose of donation. Grace donated lots of curly blond hair in the spring of 2009. When I found out I was pregnant I knew the prenatal vitamins would make my hair grow like gang-busters. Plus I hadn't had a cut in at least six months (who has time for that?). Then I talked my middle sister into cutting her hair, too! My hair has never been this long, nor will it ever be again.