Thursday, April 30, 2015

New Recipes of the Week ~3

Vegetable Barley Salad
The vinaigrette dressing gave this salad good flavor, but the chewy texture (not to mention gray color) vetoed this recipe. Unfortunately, we are not a pasta salad, bean salad, grain salad eating family.

Taco Bake

Super easy and tasty. 
When I was a child, my mom fixed a similar dish called Chili Mac. This was rated 8 on a scale of 1-10, so it stays in the recipe book. However it is nothing gourmet.

1 lb. ground meat
1 onion, chopped
3/4 c. water
1 package taco seasoning
15 oz. tomato sauce
8 oz. macaroni, cooked & drained
4 oz. green chilies, chopped
2 c. shredded cheese

Brown meat and onion. Add water, seasoning, and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the macaroni, chilies, and half of the cheese. Bake at 350* for 30 minutes. Top with remaining cheese. I used 13 oz. macaroni and 1/2 c. more tomato sauce, then skipped the baking and warmed it in the pan.

Banana Muesli 

3 c. oats
3 c. yogurt
3 bananas
1/2 c. raisins or 4 dates
3/4 tsp. vanilla

Soak oats in yogurt overnight. Add the rest in the morning. Stir. Or stir all together just before ready to eat. I used more oats and added a couple cups of water to make a larger amount.

I love muesli recipes because they are so forgiving. You can stir them up to set overnight or mix in the morning for an extremely fast, filling breakfast. This recipe came from the THM ladies before they became Trim Healthy Mamas! 

Southwestern Chicken Barley Soup

1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp. oil
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can black beans
15 oz. tomato sauce
15 oz. diced tomatoes
14 oz. chicken broth
1/2 c. pearl barley
4 oz. chopped green chilies
1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
2-3 c. cooked, shredded chicken

Saute onion & garlic in oil. Add the next 9 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 45 minutes. Stir in chicken. Heat through. I used home canned tomato juice in place of the sauce and diced tomatoes. 

Great spicy flavor!

Make Ahead Meatball Subs 

We made meatballs from 4 pounds of deerburger, put some on trays to freeze and bag, and the rest were baked on baking day. Once that part is done making these subs is a snap. I prefer a different meatball recipe than this that has more garlic and onion.  


Fun to try once! These took more time than they're worth with a whole wheat crust. Hot from the oven they were crisp, but after cooling, they turned chewy and bland.

Baked Oatmeal
A friend passed this recipe on for me to try. It was sweet and filling, but we prefer the crunchier baked oatmeal that bakes up much quicker than an hour. 

Individual Pizzas

No recipe, just assorted goodies to top your own homemade crust. I put 2 layers of cheese on mine... Mmm.

Buffalo Ranch Popcorn

1 Tbsp. Ranch Dry Mix
1 Tbsp. celery salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. cayenne 
1/4 tsp. vegetable oil
6 quarts popped pocorn

In a small bowl stir ranch mix, celery salt, garlic, sugar, and cayenne. Drizzle oil over popcorn, sprinkle seasoning on, and toss.

I clipped this from our local electric co-op magazine. We have a spice container we keep filled with homemade Ranch Mix, so this recipe is quite quick and very musty (must have more)!

A couple more dishes we tried this week were Mock Pasta Alfredo and Beefy Taco Joes. I didn't get snapshots of these, but they're not keepers anyway. I am filing my rejected recipes together if you'd like to try them. I can get you the directions.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

10 more Spring Activities For Children

1. Tour A Greenhouse

We took a homeschool field trip to a company that has 7 acres of greenhouses. It was interesting to see the plants in various growing stages, watching the workers water, and even do assembly line work with machines. My children learned how the greenhouses were warmed and ventilated, how flowers are trimmed to bush out, and how big businesses grow plants for sale.                                       
                                                                2. Play with dolls

                                                                3. Have a Tea Party Lunch 

Spontaneity brings the best activities! These three girls raided the dress up box, set up their tea table in the middle of the kitchen, and ate their private prissy lunch. (Excuse the smear on the camera lens...oops!)

                                                                 4. Bathe in the Mud 

Rain is scarce in these parts, so when there is a puddle that lasts more than a day, it is time to play! 

                                                                 5. Create with Crafts 

I have a rubber tote that I toss scraps of ribbon, yarn, foam, corkboard, felt, shells, sequins, popsicle sticks, paper sacks, etc. in for crafting. The girls found some foam shapes and made little puppets and a show box.

                                                                 6. Bake with Mud

Here are lovely rows of freshly made bread and pies. If being covered head to toe in mud is not your desired play, try just dabbling in it with hands and feet. (The lens smear was discovered and wiped away.)

                                                                 7. Make Popsicles 

They selected from the pantry, home-canned jars of grape juice, peaches, and pears (from Grandma) then blended different flavored concoctions for popsicle molds which are sweet and cold on a warm spring day!
 8. Build Your Own Playhouse 

This light structure meets all their needs with clothes and a canteen of water next to a pouch of raisins hanging from a branch.

                                                                 9. Get a New Playhouse

Daddy brought this grain bin home for another purpose, but it will be used with great delight by girls who like to have their own pretend home.

                                                                10. Babysit Chicks

The meat birds are outgrowing their space and need fresh grass to scratch in. Big brother drug their pen with the tractor to nicer pasture while little sister watched over the flock.

10 Activities in April !

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?