Menu Plan and Goals

It’s been a busy weekend. Shaun worked almost 14 hour days Thursday and Friday and had to go in for a couple hours on Sunday. Saturday afternoon and evening we had a cookout and swim party with friends visiting from out of town, and Sunday was church and small groups. I’m hoping for a week of rest. A week where the kids sleep through the night would be nice, but I’m not counting on it happening.

My goal when it comes to the house right now is to declutter and then keep on top of it. I was able to organize off sized clothes for both kids and get stuff boxed up and put in the closet and under the beds.

All the ingredients are prepped for two meals this week and refrigerator oatmeal is ready for the breakfasts. It’s nice to have a couple of meal options that you can throw together quickly.

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

My ice cream experiment from last week: Blueberry Cheesecake. It was amazing!

Suppers:

Lunches:

Breakfasts:

Goals:

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

How to Cut an Avocado

A super easy way to cut an avocado. Fast and gets all of it out! Learned this at a Mexican restaurant and used it ever since!

Have you wondered how to cut an avocado? I learned this method while working at a Mexican restaurant in our town. Before that I just cut different ways attempting to do the best I could. Now, cutting an avocado is something I could do in my sleep and I actually enjoy doing it and want to make guacamole all the time.

You take your ripe avocado and slice it all the way around the pit and twist it apart so it looks like this:

A super easy way to cut an avocado. Fast and gets all of it out! Learned this at a Mexican restaurant and used it ever since!

Next, take your knife and carefully hit the pit with part of the blade closer to the handle. Twist the knife while holding the avocado half in the palm of your other hand and the pit will pop out.

A super easy way to cut an avocado. Fast and gets all of it out! Learned this at a Mexican restaurant and used it ever since!

Now, take the knife and make diagonal cuts down and across.

A super easy way to cut an avocado. Fast and gets all of it out! Learned this at a Mexican restaurant and used it ever since!

Finally, take a spoon and slide it in around the skin and let the avocado pieces fall into a bowl.

A super easy way to cut an avocado. Fast and gets all of it out! Learned this at a Mexican restaurant and used it ever since!

If you want to take the avocado out in a complete half, simply don’t make the diagonal slices and simply use the spoon to carefully remove and then slice on a cutting board in your desired shape.

This method is super easy and makes your homemade guacamole come together in minutes!

What’s your favorite way to cut an avocado?

(Here’s my favorite guacamole recipe!)

Homemade Guacamole - easy and delicious! This recipe came from a Mexican restaurant and is so good.

Linking up to these fun parties!

The Gift of Rest

I don't have to earn rest or have to have everything on my list checked off to allow myself to recharge! Yes!!! I have such a hard time with this.

Kara Bee Photography

I have a problem. It drives my husband crazy. I can’t stand naps. Well, actually it’s not really that I can’t stand them, it’s that I have a never ending to-do list of things that have to get done continuously running through my head. I don’t have time for naps. Then throw in kids, only half of which regularly nap, and the opportunities for naps are far and few between.

This paragraph jumped out at me when I was reading Start by Jon Acuff,

Rest is a gift, not a reward. It’s not a hobby that lazy people take advantage of; it’s woven into the fabric of our very biology. The body is designed to rest. I don’t have to earn that with my performance. Rest is not a by-product of my success, it’s a  by-product of my humanity. I don’t have to get ahead to enjoy it or need it.

I don’t have to have a check mark next to everything on my list before I’m allowed to sit down and breathe. Sometimes a short pause is what I need to regroup and gain a better perspective on life. That’s not what I want to do though. I want to keep moving and getting things done. Going from one project to the next.

Rest done intentionally and at an appropriate time isn’t waste. John Lubbock says it this way,

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”

I often don’t want to take the time to slow down and enjoy the little moments in life. Snuggling with my 3 year old as she falls asleep is hard for me. As I lie beside her, I think of everything I could be doing. So, let me be honest, it seldom happens. I don’t want to lose those small moments with my kids. This week both kids actually took naps at the same time for the first time in months. After a rough afternoon, I was exhausted. The house was a mess. I had a million things to do. My energy level and motivation was minimal though. I decided to take a moment to lie down and put my arms around my little girl and let our frustrations with each other melt away and rest. 

I came across this quote from Elaine St. James on The Art of Simple Facebook page this week, and it spoke to me.

“There are often many things we feel we should do that, in fact, we don’t really have to do. Getting to the point where we can tell the difference is a major milestone in the simplification process.”

Not everything on my list has to be done now. In fact, not everything on my list has to be done at all. Sometimes I just might need to make the choice to say no to one thing in order to say yes to something else. Even rest.

Linking up to these fun parties!

Menu Plan and Goals

We were able to spend a few days in Branson with part of my family last week and got to meet my almost 5 month old niece for the first time! It was a lot of fun swimming, shopping, playing and hanging out with everyone. We went to bed late, got up early, and had a toddler who didn’t want to sleep. In spite of lack of sleep, the kids did really well and now that we’ve had a weekend to catch up on naps and putting the house back together we are as back to normal as we can be.

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

Playing in the creek!

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

Cousin Fun!

I went to my grocery store for the first time in 3 weeks and have restocked the refrigerator with fruits and veggies for the next couple of weeks. Hooray for options and lots of produce again!

On this week’s menu we have a staff party and two days where my husband will be working over 12 hour days. I’m planning leftovers for those nights so Shaun can bring them and reheat for a quick supper before working the event they radio station is putting on at the old drive in theater.

We are throwing around doing a Whole 30 in the next month or two. Have you ever done one before?

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

Suppers:

  • Staff Party – Bring Salad and Dessert (I brought Sesame Ginger Salad and Mini Cheesecake Bites)
  • Chicken Chow Mein (also known as the meal my husband cooks, but I always seem to end up doing a lot of prep work for)
  • Chili (using homemade chili beans from the freezer)
  • Homemade Pizza
  • Leftovers x 3

Lunches:

  • Pizza
  • Fajitas
  • Cucumber Tomato Salad for the 3 year old and myself x 5 (we love this stuff)
  • Lettuce Salads for my husband x 5

Breakfasts:

  • Pancakes from the freezer
  • Oatmeal
  • Refrigerator Oatmeal
  • Smoothies (maybe)

Goals:

What’s on your menu? Any goals you are trying to tackle?

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

Homemade Guacamole

It seems we are on a bit of a Mexican kick around here lately: Salsa, Bean Tostadas, Baked Tostada Shells, and Crockpot Refried Beans.

Homemade Guacamole - easy and delicious! This recipe came from a Mexican restaurant and is so good.

We are missing something really important though. Homemade guacamole. This is one of my favorites. There is no comparison to the packaged stuff and it’s super easy to make. Every once in a while my daughter and I will eat this delicious dip for lunch. It’s good enough to eat with a spoon. I spent 5 years working as a server in a Mexican restaurant and one of the appetizers on our menu was Tableside Guacamole. Everyone loved it. We charged almost $7 for guacamole made from 2 avocados. Mark up much? Even if it’s off season and you pay $1 each for avocados you can make this for almost a third that price.

Red onion is the best in this dish, but when I don’t have one I use whatever I have on hand and it still turns out amazing. The jalapeno adds a gentle kick but since you take the seeds out, it’s not overpowering. Leave it out if you want a more mild flavor.

Homemade Guacamole - easy and delicious! This recipe came from a Mexican restaurant and is so good.

Stay tuned next week for my favorite way to cut an avocado and remove the pit that I learned from my waitressing days.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Guacamole
 

Ingredients
  • 2 Avocados
  • 1-2 tablespoons minced red onion (or yellow or white)
  • ½ jalapeno, deseeded and minced (optional)
  • garlic – 2 small cloves or ¼ teaspoon powder
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon white pepper
  • ½-1 lime
  • ¼ cup diced tomatoes

Instructions
  1. Remove avocado from skin and cube. Add to a bowl.
  2. Add minced onion, jalapeno if using, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper to the bowl.
  3. Use two forks and smash and stir the ingredients until desired consistency.
  4. Squeeze the juice of ½ the lime over the mixture and stir.
  5. Taste and adjust salt and lime if needed.
  6. Gently stir in diced tomatoes.
  7. Enjoy!

 

Linking up to these fun parties!

Easy Crockpot Refried Beans

I suppose these would actually be called unrefried beans and not be considered authentic as there is nothing fried about them but they have become a staple in our home the last several years.

Easy and yummy refried beans in the crock pot (or on the stove). I love making a huge batch and freezing the leftovers!

 

I make up a pound or two of dried pinto beans at a time and turn them into refried beans. I portion what we won’t use that week into plastic containers and store them in the freezer for us to use the next several weeks. Just set a frozen container of refried beans in the refrigerator overnight to defrost and they will be ready to reheat for a quick meal. Things such as bean tostadas or bean and cheese tortillas make an easy lunch or supper in little time. (Perfect for a day crazier than planned or for one of those meals you forgot to buy an important ingredient for.)

If you don’t have dried beans, you can still use the same seasonings on canned beans. It really doesn’t add on any more hands on time to use the dried beans and you’ll be saving yourself money. I highly recommend you give it a try.

Using fresh onion and garlic (and deseeded jalapeno too if you like a kick) in the cooking of the beans is completely optional. If I’m out, I’ll still make up the beans with no seasonings in the cooking liquid and add extra onion and garlic powder when I’m smashing them up.

Easy and yummy refried beans in the crock pot. I love making a huge batch and freezing the leftovers!

These beans can also be made on the stove instead of the crock pot. You’ll just want to watch the water level and add more if needed. There are concerns of toxins not being removed from the beans when cooked in the crock pot, but I’ve found that on high my pot gets the beans up to a full boil. If yours doesn’t, you can boil them on the stove for 10 minutes and then return to the crock pot to finish cooking.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Easy Crockpot Refried Beans
 

Ingredients
  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 deseeded jalapeno
  • 1 T. cumin
  • 2 t. seasoning salt
  • Optional, ½-1 teaspoon garlic and onion powder

Instructions
  1. Rinse and soak the pinto beans overnight.
  2. Drain and rinse beans and place in the crock pot and cover with water.
  3. Add a peeled and quartered onion and peeled and smashed garlic cloves if you are using (and a deseeded jalapeno if you like a little kick).
  4. Cook on low for 5 hours.
  5. Turn to high for the last hour to allow beans to come to a boil for at least 10 minutes and finish cooking.
  6. When beans are tender and falling apart, use a slotted spoon and scoop beans into a bowl. Reserve the cooking liquid.
  7. Add cumin powder and seasoning salt. Add garlic and onion powder if you didn’t use fresh in the cooking process.
  8. Use a potato masher and stir and mash the bean mixture until it is as smooth as you like. Add some of the reserved cooking liquid to make it as soupy as you like. It will thicken up as it sits at room temperature.
  9. Cool and separate into storage containers and freeze what you won’t use the first week.

Notes
You can also cook the beans on the stove top for several hours until tender and falling apart.

 

Linking up to these fun parties!

Menu Plan and Goals

Some weeks it feel like all that happens is feeding the family and attempting to clean. The 14 month old officially doesn’t play with toys. He just destroys. Papers on the end table – let’s shove them to the floor. Books in the bookshelf – I think they’d look better on the floor. We’ve also had a week of rough nights with him. Yesterday I decided I think he’s starting to get his next round of teeth. At least we had a little break after the molars made an appearance.

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

We celebrated my birthday, went to the small local water park, and spent some time with friends who are in the united states for their first time in 2 years this week. Homemade ice cream, a walk, and a Mexican and movie night were enjoyed with them. When you know you won’t be seeing someone for another couple years, you need to squeeze in all the time you can.

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

VBS is this week at our church. It will be our daughter’s first year old enough to attend. We’ll try it out Monday and then play the rest of the week by ear. 4 days up past her bed time might be a little scary.

In an attempt to keep things simple and get ahead (ha ha) on projects around the house and computer, I’m not going to cook this week. Salads and leftovers will be where it’s at.

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

Suppers:

Lunches:

  • Menemen and Herb Bread (a Turkish recipe – Shaun and the kids weren’t fans but they enjoyed the bread)
  • Spicy Thai Noodle Salad (Another new recipe that we all really enjoyed. Shaun liked the flavor and said it was better than he thought it would be)
  • Salads/Leftovers/Bean Tostadas

Breakfasts:

  • Pancakes (fresh and then leftovers)
  • Smoothies
  • Yogurt (just made a new batch)

Goals:

So, yeah. I completely bombed least week’s (easy) goals. I think the only one I actually accomplished was hanging out with our visiting friends. Hopefully this week I can do a little better.

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

Baked Tostada Shells

Lately, one of the go to lunches for my daughter and even an easy supper for the entire family are these bean tostadas. I love that they come together in no time and it’s easy to always have the ingredients on hand for them.

Baked Tostada Shells. The easiest thing in the world! Avoid yucky oils and other ingredients by baking them!

In the bean tostada post I shared that I like to bake corn tortillas to make my own crispy tostada shells. When I was first shopping for tostada shells one of the first things I noticed was that many brands had yellow dye added to the shells where as corn tortillas didn’t. Artificial colors are pretty high up on the list of things we try and avoid in our home. Baking them myself I knew I’d stay away from the coloring and also the unhealthy oils they were fried in.

Baking tostada shells is so easy! I like to fill my oven up and use the leftovers over the next few weeks. The only thing you need is a big package of corn tortillas. Another tip – if you like these, I recommend buying the big package of tortillas (I get the 50 pack instead of 20) and keeping what you don’t bake in the refrigerator. I can tell you from experience, they last forever! I’ve had a bag in the fridge several months. Sure, they get a little drier and break a little easier as time passes but if I’m just planning on baking them in the oven instead of rolling them into enchiladas that’s okay with me.

If you are short on time, I’m sure you could turn the oven temperature up. You’d just have to keep a close eye on them. If I did that, I’m sure I’d end up burning at least some of them, so low and slow works best.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Baked Tostada Shells
 

Ingredients
  • Corn Tortillas

Instructions
  1. Two Methods:
Method One
  1. Spread tortillas out across the oven rack in the center of the oven.
  2. Bake at 200 degrees for an hour and 15 minutes or until completely crispy. Flip the tortillas over every 15 minutes the first 45 minutes. It will help keep the tortillas from curling quite so much.
  3. Cool and store in a zipped storage bag.
Method Two
  1. If you don’t want to put your tortillas directly on your oven rack place them on a baking sheet.
  2. Bake at 200 degrees for 2 hours or until completely crispy. Flip tortillas after an hour.
  3. Cool and store in a zipped storage bag.

Linking up to these fun parties!

Menu Plan and Goals

Even though we had nothing planned this week it flew by! Cleaning and projects around the house took up a lot of time and we didn’t even get everything done that we wanted. I had hoped to get reading in and I barely found time to pick up a book. I think one of these months we are going to have to plan a staycation so we can tackle all those little things that never get done. I spent a lot of time cleaning and organizing in the kitchen. I made good headway on that project – a kitchen with cleared counters always makes me feel better! Now to just keep it that way.

Last week I attempted three new recipes from scratch! Angel food cake, swiss meringue butter cream (using up all the egg whites I had in the freezer) and mayonnaise. The angel food cake was deemed tastier than one from the box and it wasn’t too difficult to make. I want to try making it again and see if not having the egg whites get so stiff helps it get a little higher. The swiss meringue butter cream was actually pretty good but next time I want to try a different recipe. This one would have worked for spreading on a cake but wasn’t near thick enough for piping.

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

The mayonnaise didn’t come together for me the first time so I pulled out the trusty KitchenAid mixer and attached the mix. With the addition of another egg yolk and slowly drizzling in my failed batch, it worked perfectly! It was even a little too thick. Next time, I’m using the KitchenAid from the beginning.

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

Suppers:

  • Dinner with friends – brought angel food cake
  • My birthday dinner. . . I think we might use a gift card.
  • Leftovers x 3 (I have a couple back up meal options if we run out of leftovers)
  • Dinner with friends
  • Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken
  • Radio Station event

Lunches:

Breakfasts:

  • Oatmeal
  • Yogurt (if I get it made)
  • Smoothies

Goals (affiliate links):

What’s on your list for the week?

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

 

Ways to Beat the Heat at Home with your Kids

Ways to Beat the Heat (with kids) without leaving home!

I shared 10 free ways to beat the heat with kids and fun things to do when staycationing in a small town last week. Most of those ideas all require getting in your car and going someplace. What if you don’t have a car available or have one of those days where you really don’t want to load the kids up to drive elsewhere?

This list is full of ways to beat the heat at home with your kids! Some days my kids play really well on their own and others they go stir crazy and just start to make one mess after another. They need a little direction.

You could give your child a list of ideas to choose from, select an activity that you think would work best, or have them randomly pick one from a bucket.

1. Movie Afternoon

During the hottest time of day, turn off the lights, pop some popcorn, and have everyone pile on the couch and watch a movie from your collection.

2. Forts

Give your kids some play sheets and clothespins and let them have at it. This provides hours of entertainment. You might even find your kids playing in their forts for days. Send them outside to use the clothesline pole, tree, swing set, and patio to assist in their building or let them take over your living room and dining room utilizing every chair you have in your house. It’s amazing what can be accomplished with such simple things.

3. Sprinkler

Hook up the sprinkler or turn the hose onto a mist if you don’t have a sprinkler. Both of my kids love the water. The minute water is on, they will have their faces in it. Set the sprinkler up on the ground so they can run through the spray or hang it over their play set and all of a sudden they have a water slide and water swing.

4. Slip and Slide

We didn’t use these often and seemed to destroy them quickly but found them to be a lot of fun. Buy one or you can use a tarp you already have.

5. Indoor picnic

100 plus degree temperatures don’t exactly beg you to go sit outside and enjoy your meal. It’s the perfect opportunity, though, to spread a blanket out on the living room floor and bring the picnic inside. A bonus is not having to worry about flies and bugs.

6. Indoor camping

Camping. Another thing I don’t even want to think about doing when it’s so hot. Bring blankets and pillows to the living room floor and have an air conditioned camp out. If you have the supplies, you could even do s’mores using the oven or stove.

7. Water Gun Fight

Why is it so fun to squirt water at someone else? Have a supply of good water guns and everyone in your family will want to participate!

8. Water Balloons

Play games to keep the fun lasting longer and then finish with a big water balloon fight!

9. Messy Play

Summer is the perfect time for this because they can do the activities outside and get hosed off when they are done. Making a mud pit or filling the sandbox up with water will makes your child’s day. Check out this post from The Chaos and the Clutter for some ideas for hands on activities that will have your kids messy!

10. Star Gazing

Stay up late and wait for the stars to appear and then head outside and lay down on some blankets or your trampoline and see what constellations you can find and who can see a shooting star.

What are your favorite things to do at home on those hot summer days?

Linking up to these fun parties!