Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Taco Bake

This past weekend was "what's in the freezer and pantry that I can cook?" I could have made nachos... but well, I just wanted something different. And this is not really different at all. It's basically upside down nachos. But hey, anything to shake things up right? Here is the recipe:

Taco Bake

1 lb hamburger meat
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBS taco seasoning mix
1 cup salsa
1 cup cheese
1 can black beans, drained (or any other type beans)
tortilla chips
black olives, jalepenos, sour cream

Cook hamburger meat, onions, and garlic together. Drain and add back to pan. Add taco seasoning, salsa and beans and heat through. Lay tortilla chips into 9x13 casserole and press down to break chips up a bit. Pour beef mixture over chips. Add olives or jalapenos if desired and then top with cheese. (we all know I added more than 1 c of cheese) Bake at 350 for about 20-30 minutes. Serve with sour cream!

I used a can of white beans because that's what I had. I'm using up all of my canned beans and have bought several bags of dried beans. My plan is to have a "bean cooking day" and then freeze them in 2 cup increments. I've already done this once with white beans and pintos before. They are really easy to defrost! When cooking soup or chili you can just plop the whole 'brick' of frozen beans into the pot! If you're planning on eating them plain just add them to a saucepan with a little water and heat on low until they are defrosted, then turn up the heat and season. I did this a while back with pintos for bean and cheese burritoes. It's frugal, you know what you're putting in your beans and you're avoiding the BPA lining that is in canned goods!

FYI, Ziploc brand freezer bags are BPA free! 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Menu Plan Monday And Affordability

First the menu... then I want to talk about affordability.

Pancakes (x2)
Sweet Potato Muffins (x2)
Cereal (x3)
Oatmeal & Eggs (for me!)

Cheese Quesadillas

Dinner out (thanks to Rob's dad!)
Cabbage and Kielbasa Soup, Corn Bread
Chick Fil A, with the boys (Gift card!)
Taco Bake (recipe coming this week)
Easy Garlic Chicken, Potatoes @ Onions w/ Dill, Steamed Broccoli
Chicken Parmesan Sandwiches, Carrots and Cucumbers w/ Ranch Dip

Fruit: Pineapple, bananas, clementines, apples
Veggies: Carrots, Broccoli & Green Peas
Homemade Oatmeal Cookies
Pop Corn

I'm also thinking about trying these, Sweet and Salty Roasted Chickpeas... think the kids will like them?


So, affordability... It really is a relative term. You hear people say all the time, "I can't afford to do that" or "I can't afford to buy that". And while they may be making a true statement, a lot of times it's really just according to our priorities. I've been thinking a lot about this in terms of what we eat. We live on a single income, tight budget, but we eat well. When I say we eat well, I don't mean we eat perfectly. There are still things that I haven't given up and at the same time there are also things that I do my best not to compromise on.

It use to really bug me when someone would say that they couldn't afford to eat the way we do. Why? Because I know our budget. And I know most people can eat the way we do. It all goes back to priorities. And while it still bugs me, I get it. They have different priorities than I do. And that doesn't mean one person is better than the other. I am passionate about it and some people just aren't. I don't have the time to get on my soapbox and explain to you why I am passionate (ok, in short: giant food companies are money hungry like most of everyone in America and will put whatever they can in our food to sell more of it... and the government allows it because well, they are money hungry too! And it's killing us!). Whew.

As the Hubs would say, "lets land the plane". Think about it before you say you can't eat better because you can't afford it. Maybe you can. Maybe you can not buy a new shirt and instead spend that money on produce. Maybe you can forgo your coffee and buy whole grain pasta this week. Maybe you can get rid of your smart phone (say what?) and your data plan and have lots of extra money each month to join that CSA. There are lots of ways to make room in your budget if you want to.

Laura at Heavenly Homemakers has recently had a series, "No More Excuses" with tips about how to eat healthy on a budget and also looks at the question, "Is it expensive to eat healthy food?"  This link will take you to that series! I hope it's helpful!

I'm linking up with, check it out for more menu planning ideas! Have a great week!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Happy Friday! (Links for you!)

I'm enjoying some quiet right now (it's really blissful!) and wanted to share a few links that I came across this week. I hope you enjoy!

~ Quiet Times for Desperate Mothers at Raising Homemakers. This post is written by Arabah Joy, one of my favorite bloggers (seriously, please check her blog out!)! I really love her thoughts on quiet times! She says, "Don’t underestimate the small things! You can take a passage, a phrase, or even a single word and meditate on it all day long. God changes our thinking and deepens our understanding through meditation. "

~ School ADD isn't Homeschool ADD - This is a fantastic article on a real life experience of a child labeled with ADD. It's fantastic, no matter what you're schooling choices are to see these kinds of perspectives! Every child is different and learns differently. Think outside the box! 

~ Organized Simplicity (the kindle version) is FREE right now on Amazon. I got it and started reading it yesterday! I'm really loving it so far! It goes along perfectly with my goal to live a more simplified life!

~  What's the Answer to Anxiety? You all know my love for Ann Voskamp. I could post any of her posts here because they are all good but this was my favorite. Oh ok, and this one too.

Have a great weekend! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Homeschooling update - January 2012

School started back for us 2 weeks ago. There are a few things that have changed this semester from last semester. Luke is doing well in all of his 'subjects'. He's doing great in his phonics but we've had some rough patches. I think we're on lesson 56 of 100. We could easily be finished if I pushed it, but that would be torture for both of us. I refuse to compare my child with anyone else and I refuse to 'make' my five year old do school just for the sake of doing it. I want him to love to learn and I want him to have fun (and me too!). So, all of these thoughts have brought about a little change. We are more loose with school this second half. I haven't thrown out the books or anything but our school hours aren't necessarily an hour and a half long. We always read our Bible.... sometimes we play a game, paint, draw or read... then we eat lunch. Then we may have a math lesson with Cheerio's. In fact today we did! He had to place the correct number of Cheerio's in the tens and ones place! We also played a thinking game by taking a few objects and putting them in a bowl. I'd remove one and the boys had to try and remember what was missing! That was fun and they kept playing even after we were 'finished'. Earlier in the day we spent time at the library where they had story time and made a snowman out of marshmallows with other kids! Tonight Luke read us a story out of his phonics book. The point: none of this was work.. it was fun and Luke enjoyed it. School has been much more relaxing and 'one piece'. I like it. And I'm pretty sure the boys do too. :)

I had been feeling the tug in this direction... and well, it's not really a big change. But when I read this , I thought, "YES!" I love Sally Clarkson and I'm completely jealous that Sarah Mae gets to chat with her but I'm so thankful that she shared the wealth! (Also, super thankful for Sally's blog and books... what a help to mama's like me!) I just love the advice that Sally shares and am incorporating it into our day. My most favorite thing that Sally shares is the advice about the TV. I don't know about you but my boys get so ill and whiny when they watch TV/play computer games. They are getting instant gratification that doesn't require them to think or imagine. So, when the tv is off, life doesn't do the same and they get frustrated. I really hate the TV. I don't watch much at all but they like a few shows. Poor Eli just loves his morning TV. He is not a morning person and needs a while to wake up so I don't think we'll ever cut it out completely (but maybe... any ideas?). I say all of this to say, we're slowly cutting back our TV time and that is a good thing.

Now, if I can just find a way to make housework more fun and relaxing.... Hmm..

Speaking of homeschooling, I saw this today and just had to share. I love this! My boys are little and we never hear anything like this but it's still so funny! And he dedicated it to his mom!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Menu Plan Monday, January 16

New week,  new menu! This one is going to be a little short because we had family in town this weekend and had our Christmas with them... well, Thankmas. That's what we call it! Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled into one.. get it? Anyways, we had dinner Friday and Saturday nights and then leftovers tonight (remember, my menus go from Fri-Thurs)! Yum! Tomorrow night we're having dinner at my parents! So, here's my plan:

Favorite Pancakes & fruit (x2)
Scrambled eggs, toast & fruit (x3)
Giant Breakfast Cookies & fruit(x2)

Mini Pizzas(these went over really well this week.. sandwich thins with pizza sauce & cheese) & carrots (x2)
PB&J & peas (x4)
Annie's Mac and Cheese (had a coupon) & Veggie
(Salads & leftovers for me!)

Italian Roast Wraps & green beans (didn't use my roast last week because I'm having crock pot issues, but hopefully I can resolve that this week. I made beef stew instead because I found a pack of stew meat.)
Vegetable Soup (w/ leftover roast) and corn muffins
Spaghetti, Salad 

Pop Corn
Chips and Salsa

Recipe Review: Last week I made this Chicken Lo Mein recipe. It was super easy and super good! I used whole wheat linguine noodles and a bag of frozen stir fry mix! Surprisingly, both of the boys liked it! It will definitely be made again in the near future! Also, I made Pioneer Woman's Dreamy Apple Pie for Thankmas and it was so good! I used a store bought crust.. one day I'll make my own!

Budget update: I went over my budget $14.57. I'm okay with that but am going to work hard at doing better next time! :)

Check out Orgjunkie for more menu planning ideas!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

2012 Book List

One of my goals for the new year is to read more. I really love to read but I let other things take the place of that. It's one thing to allow my children or hubby to come before reading a good book but too often I let less useful things take that place as well. I want to fill my mind with goodness. So, outside of my Bible I plan on reading much more this year! Here is my list of 20 or so books:

What Woman Fear: Walking in Faith that Transforms (almost finished with this one!!)

Pilgrim's Progress


Educating the Wholehearted Child

Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption

Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus

Adopted For Life

Mark of the Lion Series (3)

Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life

Erasing Hell

Tramp for the Lord

Passionate Housewives Desperate for God

Loving the Little Years

The Meaning of Marriage

When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy

Blogger Behave: Make Your Blog Benefit Your Life, So You Can Love Both

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

The Poisonwood Bible

Do you have any must read books? I'd love to add them to my ever growing list!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Menu Plan Monday, January 9th

Over the holidays I wasn't very good at keeping up a menu. We got busy, we had different family get-togethers, ect. I also wasn't very good at sticking to my budget. So, I've resolved to be better at sticking to my budget, while eating as much real foods as possible. To help me do this, I've decided to make out a full menu. It's not restrictive but more of a guideline of the foods we'll have available.

Pancakes & fruit (x2)
Peanut Butter Banana Muffins & fruit (x2)
Cereal (x3)

PB&J Sandwiches (x3)
Tuna Sandwiches (for mom)
Homemade mini pizzas & Mango Smoothies

~Family outing to Chick Fil A (yay for giftcards!)
~Easy Garlic Chicken (new recipe) **I made this tonight and it was really good. I used 3 TBS sucanat in place of the brown sugar. I also cooked my chicken on about 375 until it was cooked through and then turned it on broil for a few minutes to make a glaze out of the topping!,   Brown Rice, Peas and Cauliflower
~Out to dinner with family before Britt starts nursing school!
~Hot Dogs (all beef, no nitrates or nitraites) , chips and guacamole for the game... Roll Tide!
~Chicken Lo Mein (new recipe)
~Roast w/ Potatoes and Carrots

Snacks and sides:
Carrot sticks
Fruit (apples, bananas, clementines)
PB Crackers
Annie's Bunny Grahams (thanks to Mimi)
Pop Corn

I'll let you know next week how  I've done on my budget. I'm a little over but I'm hoping that evens out this coming week since we went out to dinner unexpectedly this weekend and had to move a meal! FYI, my menu goes Friday-Thursday since that's how the Hubs paycheck falls.

Check out OrgJunkie for more menu planning ideas!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy 2012!

It's been a while! I really have missed blogging! But I've been praying and seeking God. I truly want my place here in the blog world to honor Him, so I took a break. I'm not sure I'm ready to be back at it at full speed but there will be posts here and there. I just wanted to take a moment to wish you all a Happy New Year! I don't really do resolutions because I feel like they are made to be broken! I do think that the mark of a new year is a great time to look back at things in the past and learn from them. Here are some things (and there are many more) I plan on praying over for the new year. Be patient with me, I'm a work in progress! ;)

My tone towards my children~ I find myself speaking harshly to them more often than I'd like. I want my words to be gracious and loving (even in discipline and training).

Being more mindful of my time~ Oh me, I am queen of time wasting! So this is a biggy!

Sticking to our food budget better while still eating real food~ Plain and simple.

Eating well and exercising~ I feel so much better mentally and physically when I'm exercising and eating well. I can serve my family better when I'm healthy!

Simplify life- I want my home to be a place of simplicity, not chaos. Of course, I do have two boys!! But I want to focus on keeping our home more simplified. Less stuff, better organization.

Being filled with the Spirit~ I want to live the glorious in the seemingly mundane. May my sink be my sanctuary. I can meet Him in all places!

And lastly I'll leave you with the beautiful words of Ann Voskamp,

"Contentment isn’t a state of organization, a weight on the scale, a state of better: better kids, better marriage, better health, better house. Contentment is never a matter of circumstances; contentment is always a state of communion — a daily embracing of God."