Saturday, April 25, 2015

New Recipes of The Week~ 2

Baking Day-

Each week or two I make a list of several baked items that our family will be eating so that we take an afternoon and get 3 or 4 goodies made for the freezer.

One time dirtying up the mixing bowls and measuring spoons! One time heating the oven!

Often the muffin or bread recipes are doubled to make our baking even more efficient.

This week's kitchen day included soft pretzel sticks (for snack), granola (for breakfast and snacks), and whole wheat tortillas (for quesadilla lunches).

Now for our true New Recipes...

Asian Beef Noodles
Simple and pretty. 
(Not so much healthy, but  it could be if whole grain pasta was substituted for the ramen noodles.) I doubled the recipe to serve 8, however the servings sizes were quite skimpy even then divided between 7 of us...yet, still a tasty, quick dish.

Hearty Polenta

Now...we really like sweetened cornmeal mush for breakfast, but this savory version with sweet corn, onions, and peppers was difficult to get down. Even with the suggested yummy accompaniment of salsa and avocado, we will not try this one again!

We served Maine Baked Beans alongside burgers to a lunch visitor. The molasses flavor doomed this new recipe to the trashcan.

Crock Black Bean and Corn Salsa Chicken

Yum! Yum! This is a simple recipe that had great mild Mexican flavor. We ate it over rice, but you can serve in tortillas or on chips as well.

3 c. dry black beans, cooked and drained
4 c. frozen or canned corn
4 chicken breasts (I used  6 thighs.)
1 c. salsa
1 packet taco seasoning or 
1 tsp. each: chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt
3/4 c. water (or bean broth)

Cook on High 4 hours.
Top with sour cream, cheese, lettuce, tomato, or hot sauce


Triple Decker Salmon Club Sandwiches

Another keeper!
I altered the original recipe a bit to cut down on time. Instead of making them Big Mac style with 3 slices of bread between layered filling, I opted for mixing up all the ingredients together and broiling open face sandwiches.

The second ingredient option is what I used...
3/4 c. cottage cheese or 8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 c. dill pickle, chopped
6 oz canned salmon or 15 oz. mackerel
2 celery ribs, chopped
6 slices of bread, toasted

Combine cream cheese, pickles, fish, and celery in a bowl. Spread on top of split and toasted buns or bread.  Broil 5 minutes or until filling bubbles. Add a lettuce leaf if you like.

We are well pleased with the tasty turnouts of most of the new recipes eaten this week. Unfortunately my cookbook isn't being thinned out much as the recipes stay put for future tastebud enjoyment.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

12 Spring Activities For Children

1. Set up a "restaurant" and serve real food.

My girls fixed salad with yummy toppings, decorated small tables with school placemats (the only ones we have) and used I Spy books as menus. Plus a small jar for tips. This kept them occupied for several hours, taking turns being the waitress, collecting coins, etc.

2. Dig in the dirt.

This is fun for all age children. My oldest two shoveled manure over our garden space. The younger ones used their hands and carried big chunks and chopped at hunks. Most likely more enjoyable for the littles, but the bigger two like to impress each other with arm muscle bulges and this will build those up!

3. Make and eat a fun snack.

Munching popcorn on a beanbag is pure delight, especially if you have a sibling to share with! (Looking at books and playing with baby dolls is pretty great too.)

4. Plant seeds.

My third child grew a small garden last year. Not much survived except several snap pea plants, so this year she is trying flowers instead of vegetables. One of her favorite books is Zinnia's Flower Garden. Monica Wellington makes it sound so easy to grow huge areas of lovely plants.

These are our first tray of indoor seed starts...nasturtium, sunflower, hollyhock, marigolds, cosmos -for her, cabbage and lettuce -for me.

5. Ride four-wheelers.

6. Go Rollerskating.

On the park sidewalks, in a paved lot, or at the rink, it's lots of tumbles and giggles!

We spent a couple hours together with other homeschoolers  exercising, stretching, and bending around the cups, and under the limbo pole. Did I mention Hokey Pokey? 
We also ate a healthy snack afterward. (reinforces #3)

7. Swing


8. Have an experienced friend over to teach the children a creative skill.

All the girls spent an afternoon with crochet hook and yarn in hand as a dear widow tutored them in a lost/being revived homemaking skill. They mostly had chain hooking length competitions, but some learned to single crochet, and made a square coaster.

9. Practice and perform a show.

These girlies spent several afternoons banging & singing and setting up for a grandiose 5 minute musical.

10. Play with pets.

We are raising meat birds to butcher again this year. Last time we tried this venture was probably close to 10 years ago. So now we have 26 adorable little fluffy chicks for the children to cuddle, squeeze, and chase.

11. Help in the kitchen.

This little miss always wants to stir the dough. Here she is mixing up seasoning into hamburgers before they're shaped and grilled. Yes, she helped "pat" them too!

12. Have a Treasure Hunt using Easter goodies.

It was an exciting day when the mail carrier brought a box to the door bearing treats for the whole family. Pens, pencils, coloring books, owl erasers, bracelets, alligator jerky, Taco Bell gift cards, candy, and more candy! After the package contents were sorted and exclaimed over, the children wrote clue notes for each other and their parents several times to discover the gifted candy. Movie night is also candy night and most recently treasure hunt night, so it's nice when our stash gets replenished.

That wraps up 12 activities that our children have tested to be tried and true.
How about you?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

New Recipes of The Week

I have lots of new recipes to try now that I have organized those that I clipped into picture album sleeves in a binder. Unfortunately there are 3, 4, or 5 recipes in a single square to fit them all into 2 albums, so I am focusing on "never tried" recipes to weed out any not-so-great ones and make thinner and nicer-to-navigate books.

This is the food we've been cooking up this week...

Lemon Chicken Spaghetti

Not a bad dish with its creamy lemon sauce, but not super scrumptious either. 
We simply like Alfredo better.

Taco and Pepperoni/Sausage

Technically not a new recipe, but a new experience. The crust puffed up so high when pre-baked, that I carefully cut it in half to make 2 pies out of 1 crust, then topped them with what we had on hand. Viola!

Curried Bean Salad

This recipe had really good garlic, cumin, oregano, and curry flavor. However my family is not fond of bean salads...the texture, I guess!

Sooo the winner for this week is...
Mulberry Oat Muffins & Old Fashioned Graham Muffins

We've rarely eaten a muffin that gets rejected. 
Neither of these are extra special, but pass my family's taste test because we eat many a muffin for breakfast and afternoon snacks.

Blueberry Oat Muffins
1 1/4 c flour
1 c oats
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 c water
1/3 c oil (optional. I left it out and used more water.)
1 c blueberries (or mulberries)

Combine the first six ingredients. Stir eggs, water, and oil into batter just until moistened. Fold in berries. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. May sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (2 Tbsp sugar & 1/4 tsp cinnamon). Bake 400* for 15-18 minutes.           Yield: 1 dozen.

Have you tried any new foods lately?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Beautiful Blooms 2

Some lovely flowers appeared at our house this spring...inside and out!

Here are some fresh flowers delivered by caring friends.

And here is an amarylis that my mom gave to me 3 years ago. It bloomed and died back, but I saved it and even sent it to a plant babysitter while we were on our RV trip for 4 months. Now 2 years after that, it brought forth a burst of color again!

Just for fun, here is a photo of me and the first-time bloom of this huge bulb. (That is little M, under a year old - now 2 1/2!) See how much longer the stem grew second time around!

Not exactly a flower, but a bouquet of twigs from the flowering crabapple tree Riley pruned.

Outdoor blossoms opened in the yard. This is the little crabapple in the midst of our freshly manured garden. 

 A redbud out front.

Bradford Pear blossoms picked by the girls, stuffed in pockets, and arranged on the table.

Hop over here to see photos of last year's spring flower post.

God's beauty declared!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Trapping Riley

Right before we left on our Christmas trip I got permission to trap some prime property: over a mile of wooded creek bottom with pasture and farmland around a mile from the house. A couple weeks before season started I began baiting coons with fermented corn in a wooded corner of grassland approximately 1/3 of a mile northeast of our house. When season started I emptied the feeder and set 3 dogproof coon traps baiting them with corn.

I also made a coyote set across the road to the south in a pasture along with a coon set in the dry creek bottom running through the same pasture. During the first 2-3 weeks  I caught 7 coons and 2 coyotes at those 3 places.

After we got home from back east I began trapping solely on the new property around the middle of January. In the remaining 6 weeks of season I caught 1 bobcat, 3 coyotes, and 11 coons all on the half section with the creek running through it. The bobcat was caught at a hollow log cubby set.

2 coyotes were caught at dirt hole sets, 1 was snared,1 fell for a flat set, and another stumbled into a trail set. 

All but 1 of the coons were caught in dogproofs; the other wandered into a coyote flat set.

Overall I had a pretty good season except for having the golf cart engine die towards the end of season. Season total: 1 Bobcat, 5 Coyotes, and 18 Coons!