and there you have it…



week 4 of meals is here!

It’s recipe time again! Finally delivering the promised week 4 of meals. If you missed them, here are weeks 1, 2, and 3.

1. Curry AKA Coconut Milk Soup to my children

Curry is a nice one to clean out the veggies in your fridge, I’ve had curry with just about any veggie in it. But if I’m picking favorites I like 1 white onion, 1 green pepper, 1 red pepper and about half a pound of fresh green beans all sliced. If we have it, the kids find it fun to have bamboo in it since they’ve seen it on their nature hikes.

The Thai kitchen green curry paste is my favorite and all the recipe instructions are right one the bottle! The bottle calls for a can of coconut milk and brown sugar for the base, we’ve also used the Original Silk Coconut milk instead of the can and brown sugar successfully. The kids like to drink the coconut milk (and I like it for my iced chai lattes!) so it’s usually sitting in my fridge. Serve with rice.

2. Spaghetti

This is probably a staple on your menu already. It’s an easy throw together meal that’s usually already in the pantry even if I’m needing to go to the store. We use any kind of noodles we have on hand.

Barilla makes a good gluten free pasta that I can easily and cheaply stock on Publix’s BOGO sales. It’s one of the few not made from GMO corn. Gluten free usually means A LOT of corn products, we try to keep to nonGMO corn where we can.

One note on cooking gluten free pasta, SET A TIMER! They over cook and turn to mush very easily.

3. Fried rice

Here’s a way to clean out that leftover rice from your curry night. You need to use leftover rice or it’s too sticky. I tried the freezer method, once. I’m not going to even explain it. Use leftover rice. 2-3 days old is best.

I put a few tablespoons of this coconut oil in the pan with a few drops of sesame oil. Let it heat up and then add whatever veggies we are having.

Diced onions, celery and mushrooms is a favorite of the adults. The diced vegetable medley of my childhood (peas, carrots, corn, and lima beans) is the kids’ preference. While the veggies are softening up, scramble 4 eggs in a separate pan. After the veggies are soft add the leftover rice and about 1/4 cup of braggs liquid aminos (soy sauce alternative).

Saute it all together till warm and mixed in chopped scrambled eggs right before serving.

4. Grilled Sandwiches

Sandwiches for dinner is usually met with a groan. However, if I throw them on the flat top they’re everybody’s favorite!

Ham or turkey lunchmeat a slice of cheese for those that can have it and pickles. Easy peasy.

5. Shrimp and grits

This is not usually one anyone will even attempt diary free, but we all eat it diary free, it’s still good.

This recipe is the closest to what I make, we just omit the cheese and use Earth Balance for the butter. It barely feeds all of us (meaning everyone gets 1 serving, but wants 2!) I should really double that recipe, but shrimp is expensive! Turkey bacon works as well.

It’s super yummy, I think I need to put it on next weeks menu, mmmmmm.

6. Black bean bake

This was the recipe that originally inspired this meal. I must say I have never used the artichoke hearts or brussel sprouts…not something we usually have lying around. I have added leftover chicken and BBQ sauce. I have also put whatever vegetable is about to turn in my fridge in it.

So really I just usually follow the spirit of this recipe, black beans and an oven. The rest is up to you!

7. Quinoa and Sweet Potato chilli

I’m being kind to all you structured rule followers for this one. I know some of you cringe and curse me with all my throw a little of this in and a little of that and mix for an indefinite period of time!

This meal comes from this recipe and I do what it says, exactly.

So there you have it! The 4th and final week of meals. I hope you’ve found some your family can enjoy as well.

Breif adoption update! Lots of you have been asking. We appreciate the interest! There isn’t anything new to tell at the moment. We are still in waiting, learning to be comfortable with the ambiguity of tomorrow or next year! We are preparing little things here and there, reading our homework and gathering baby things.

A big THANK YOU to those who have donated baby items, to date things received or in transit for baby girl Byce include a car seat and base (within the 5 year mark), cloth diapers, socks, shoes and clothes, clothes and more clothes! Enough to last the first few years!

We have also received enough for our match fee when the time comes. We are working toward the big one, placement fee. Your generosity has been overwhelming and such a blessing. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you that have given your money, baby things and prayers! I cannot express enough how much of a blessing you all are to our family. I personally am looking forward to telling baby girl Byce about all of you and how God used a whole village to bring her to her forever home.

week 3 of recipe fun!

First thing I learned this week, when you have a regular writing time, don’t go grocery shopping during that time and expect the writing to happen just as “easily” (hahahahahaha) later. But third times a charm? Right? I hope so. Here’s goes…again…

1) 3 bean Chili with GF dairy free corn bread – I’m not one of those people that likes Chili year round. I have to have it cold to be in the mood, but my family does not care, so occasionally I take one for the team, this chili is worth it. Though my hunch is the kids are just eating it for the honey smothered corn bread. Also I’ve used whatever tomatoes I have on hand and add red pepper if I don’t happen to have spicy ones. It’s an art people.

2) Rice and beans – it sounds so blah when said like that, but that’s what I tell my kids to get them to eat it. It’s also been known as a barney bowl or as Tijuana Flats calls it a noritto bowl. You start with brown rice, add some black beans then layer on the toppings. So far I’ve gotten the kids to add olives and sour cream the adults add purple onions, tomato, corn, avocado, jalapenos, salsa and cilantro if I have it. Yum yum yum and so easy.

3) Potato Pancakes – here’s another easy one. I throw 6-8 red potatoes into the vita-mix with a sweet onion, let it chop them up good. Dump in a bowl and add in an egg and a few tablespoons of flour (I’ve been using tapioca starch). Then you scoop it onto an oiled griddle and cook it 3-5 minutes per side. We eat them with ketchup, sour cream or applesauce. I usually serve with steamed green beans.

4) Taco soup – I make this one for company a lot, which ends up back firing because they always want the recipe and it’s so ridiculously easy it’s embarrassing! Just remember 5 cans and a cup. 1 can kidney beans (drained), 1 can of black beans (drained), 1 can of refried beans, 1 can of broth, 1 can of corn and a cup of salsa. Put it all in the crock pot on high for 5 hours and add whatever you use to season Tacos we use 2T of chili powder 1T of cumin and a shake of garlic powder. Top with cheese and serve with chips! This one the kids also love.

5) Chicken Fajitas – put boneless chicken of your choice into the crock-pot and dump a jar of salsa on top. Close the lid and let it cook on low all day (8ish hours). Right before dinner slice up a large purple onion, a red pepper and a green pepper and a 16oz carton of mushroom sautee in coconut oil until soft. Then take a fork and shred the chicken in the crock-pot and serve on tortillas with the veggies. I usually add rice for the kids, gotta fill them up!

6) Rice/Chicken/Broccoli casserole – if you made the vegan mac n cheese I posted about earlier, this is one of the reasons I make extra “cheese.” Line the bottom of a casserole dish with rice (2-3 cups) sprinkle some leftover chicken on top (usually shredded from above), cut up a head of broccoli or a bag of frozen whatever works for your family and add that on top then pour the “cheese” sauce over the whole thing and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

7) Lentil soup – this one is on the menu this week and it has a real recipe! I like to use up our old bread and make croutons for this one. Amazingly the kids ate it on first try, that really never happens, I think it was the croutons.

Here’s week 1 and week 2 if you missed them! I can’t believe I finally finished, miracles do exist! Off to make stir fry for dinner, that will be on the next recipe post!

side note: any broth we use is homemade, it’s super easy and virtually free! Just save the ends and pieces of your veggies when you are cooking (onions, peppers, carrots, celery, etc. I also keep lemons and limes) Keep them in a gallon bag in the freezer until you have a full bag. Then you dump it in a crock-pot and fill with water, add a bay leaf and a few dashes of Season All and cook on low for 10-12 hours. I keep all our old peanut butter jars to store stuff like this in.

week 1 meal plans

So I posted on facebook earlier that I’ve finally got a list of 30 dinner meals for the family, and there was a request for the meals. Since I honor requests (shhh don’t tell my kids), here you have it.

The hope of this list is that I can just pull from this list each week when menu planning and it will make menu planning less of a brain drain and more of a breeze! I doubt I will just rotate this list straight, certain things (like homemade pizza and quesadillas) will get used more than once a month, I can already tell you that. Also I enjoy trying something new, even if my family does not always appreciate my efforts, but its one of the few advantages of being the cook, I can cook what I want, occasionally.

Since a whole 30 days would be a monstrosity of a post, I’m gonna do it a week at a time. I try to follow the 80/20 rule with food. Meaning if we can keep 80% of what we eat in a week where I would like it, the other 20% is a wash. Breakfast and lunch are usually pretty standard and healthy around here so I took a few of the cheats with dinners (hence the hot dogs, gotta have some easy wins) and the rest will cover parties, eating out and other peoples houses (always a wild card). I need some grace in my life.

So here it is, in absolutely no premeditated order whatsoever!

Week 1 of 30 days of dinner meals

1) Black bean quesadillas – This is one of the few all over wins for the family. I use whole wheat or corn tortillas, smash up the black beans a bit to make a paste, spread bean paste on one half and avocado on the other half, sprinkle with black olives, fold in half and grill in coconut oil on a skillet. We also add onions, tomatoes, and cheese per request. Serve with salsa and sour cream. So yummy!

2) Re-fried bean tacos – I use this recipe for re-fried beans in the crock-pot, they smell like heaven when they are cooking. I make the whole recipe and freeze the rest for easy dinners later! This recipe was the first way we ever got the littlest to actually eat tacos.

3) Split pea soup – This one was a favorite for Bycemaster and myself, the kids were very much not fans. There may or may not have been incidents of actual gagging at the table the first few times we had this. They have been slowly won over and now all of them will actually eat it and 2 of them are actually excited about it! I use the recipe on the back of the Publix split pea package. We use a few pieces of bacon instead of ham unless it’s the holidays and we need to use up a bunch of leftover ham.

4) One Pan Mexican Skillet Meal – recipe here, we use exactly as stated, so so easy, love this one.

5) Potato Soup – this is the baseline recipe I use, we sub the cow’s milk for unsweetened almond milk and the flour for whatever gluten free flour I happen to have at the moment. It’s loaded with veggies and not super heavy like a lot of potato soups, have seconds with no guilt 🙂 It can be fun with toppings too, we usually pick some green onions and add cheese for those that can have it.

6) Hot Dogs – Some nights you need a no brainer. If I’m lucky Bycemaster will grill them, if not, I’ll microwave them. I usually buy the ones safe for our family when they’re on sale and hide them in my special hidey hole in the freezer to pull out on nights when I cannot adult.

7) Black bean soup – another super easy one (are you sensing a theme here). Two cans of black beans (rinsed and drained), 1 can of broth (veggie or chicken), and 1 cup of salsa. Set aside one can of beans and blend the rest, then pour in a pan to heat and add the other can of beans and a little cumin and chili powder. This one is so easy it was one of the first to teach the oldest to make. Sometimes we mix in corn or rice if I have some leftover that needed to get used. We always serve it with chips, pretty sure that’s why it’s a kid favorite.

Side note: I used to think making dried beans required magical powers. I tried and failed miserably so many different times and then stumbled on a blogger that said she made them in the crock pot, EUREKA! 4-5 hours on high, no soaking or magical powers required. I now cook dried ones and freeze them in roughly can sized containers for easy use later.

Good luck and happy cooking!

recipe fun!

We’ve made a few diet changes around here recently (in the last 6 weeksish). We are attempting to substantial limit our refined foods (basically to when we are not at home) and add more plants into our diet, fruits, veggies, beans, legumes (look a new word I got to teach my family), seeds, nuts, and the like. This has meant most of the meals I had actually learned to cook over the last year, (since I’ve only been cooking since we took Grant off gluten/dairy almost a year ago) are no longer optimal.

For my personality, this was actually exciting. I get bored with the same thing over and over, and had felt like I’d actually gotten the style we’d been eating down to a science. So getting to learn a whole new realm of cooking has been exciting, though not without its pitfalls. Main pitfall being it took over a month for us to have a dinner anyone would actually request again. Can we say learning curve?! But I am discovering so many foods I’ve never cooked before to try, some of them I didn’t even know existed, exciting! I love new foods. Quinoa would be one of those I didn’t know existed, it’s a seed, that functions similar to a rice or pasta. I’m hoping that was news to at least some of you too!

After finally finding a winner I decided I had to share successes with all of you, someone needs to benefit from all that trial and error! So here is the first one we had at least one kid devour, no one refuse to eat, and Neil and I both would request again. It’s originally from the book Eat to Live, though I am posting my slightly modified version below.

It is a bit labor intensive, which is why I tried it on a weekend first, but we were able to eat it all week (I also put the veggie mixture on my lunch salads and it was really good) so it made it worth while for me. Plus it just tasted so good!

Vegetable Bean Burris

2-3T water

(All vegetables below chopped)

1 head broccoli

1/2 head cauliflower (had already used ours, so I left this out)

2 carrots

2 red bell peppers

1 zucchini

1 onion

4 garlic cloves

1 1\2 T all spice seasoning (recommends low or no salt variety)

1t dried basil

1t dried oregano

1t dried parsley

1c raw cashews

1/2c soy, hemp, or almond milk (we used almond)

1 1/2c pinto beans (1 can rinsed)

6 whole wheat tortillas or 6 large romaine lettuce leaves (works better than you’d think!)

Place the water in a saute pan or large pot and add all ingredients except cashews and milk. Saute for 15 mins or so until veggies are tender, add more water if you need it to prevent burning (learn from my mistakes!). While that is cooking put cashews and milk variety in food processor or blender (we have no food processor so blender it was) and blend until smooth. Add to the veggies and mix. Then scoop it onto your tortillas or lettuce leaves and enjoy!

This recipe is dairy and soy free however you do it, gluten-free if you use lettuce leaves instead of the tortilla or hard shells like we did for Grant and over all very low in calories, especially if you use the lettuce. A completely guilt free pleasurable meal, now how many of those have you had?

Hope you all enjoy!

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