Friday, September 20, 2013

You Can Turn Anything into Pie!

A few nights ago, I made Taco Pie for dinner.  My mom had made it for the kiddos when they stayed there one night and they all loved it.  I figured I'd give it a shot and added my own "cleaner eating" spin on it.  Success once again!

While we were eating dinner, my oldest guy said, "Hey, Mom!  Adding peas to it makes this like 'Special Pie!'"  (That's what I call Chicken Pot Pie to get them to eat it!).  This began a conversation about all of the different "pies" we could make for dinner.  Here's the list we came up with:  Spaghetti Pie, Shepherd's Pie, Chicken Pot Pie, Cheeseburger Pie, and of course, Taco Pie.  I'm sure there are plenty more, but the conversation made me feel like I was on some family sitcom or Forrest Gump! 

Today I'll share with you the recipe we used for Taco Pie.  It's certainly nothing fancy, but a nice little twist on "Mexican Food Night" at home!  I mentioned that I added a "cleaner eating" spin to it.  In lieu of the prepackaged taco seasoning, I made my own.  We also used Organic Blue Corn Chips and crescent rolls made by Immaculate Baking (found at Hy-Vee and cheaper than the regular kind!) that are part of the Non-GMO project.  We're also a plain-Jane family, so you may want to add some toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, etc.

Taco Pie

1 lb. ground beef
2 T. homemade taco seasoning (or a packet from the store)
1 tube crescent rolls
Shredded cheese
Crushed tortilla chips

Brown ground beef and drain.  Add taco seasoning and water (1/2 c. if using the homemade seasoning).  In a pie pan, place triangles of crescent rolls and knead together to make the crust.  Place meat on top of crescent rolls.  Top with crushed tortilla chips and cheese.  Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.  Top with favorite taco toppings.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Taking the Plunge

As the seasons begin to change, I am reminded once again how quickly time goes.  It seems like just yesterday we were excited about the warmer temperatures and the fun that summer would bring.  We made our summer bucket list and began to plan how we would spend those summer days.  While we did accomplish a sizable chunk of that long list, I'm left with the thought of, "where did the time go?"  

I can't help but feel that we didn't make the most of our summer this year.  Juggling a new baby and three other kiddos proved to be a bit much for me some days.  Solo outings with the whole crew were difficult, but we made the most of it.  Looking back I think we had fun, but we had plenty of "un-fun" moments as well.  I am trying to re-energize myself, though it's difficult these days with the lack of sleep I am getting.  We generally don't make a "fall bucket list," but I think this year we may just start a new tradition.  Most of our activities will probably be indoors, but I really want to hear what ideas my kiddos have.  I'm trying to stop saying, "No" so often and be open to things that may be a bit out of my comfort zone.  

As I had mentioned a few posts back, I am re-reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and spending a lot of time reflecting on where I am at in my life and where I would like to be.  I think we all have goals, dreams, and ideas that we are afraid to go after.  Perhaps we think someone will laugh at us, that we'll fail, or we'll simply be disappointed.  Maybe there are people in our lives who tell us we can't, criticize our decisions, "kill" our dreams before they ever come to fruition, or just hold us back.  

There are a few dreams I have for myself that I am no longer going to put off on the back burner and ignore.  I'm going to step out of my "safe" little zone and go for it.  I want to teach my kids that it's okay to go after what you want, even if it doesn't turn out quite the way you had hoped.  And if it fails?  Then it will be a great life lesson for us all.  This is also something I want to keep in mind when they present an idea or express an interest in trying something new.  Instead of being so quick to say, "No," I think they deserve the chance to try.  In an age where there is less time for  creativity and independent exploration of ideas at school, I think it is important to provide an environment at home where it's encouraged and valued.

So, what are you waiting for?  Do you have a big dream for yourself that you've been afraid to go after?  What's holding you back?  Are you ready to take the first step and see what comes of it?  Let's stop being afraid to try and believe in ourselves and our ideas.  What a great opportunity for us and a great example for our kiddos!  Who's in?!    

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Life Lessons

Today we delivered our treats to our local fire station and a fire department in the "big city."  Our local fire department is volunteer, so we had to find one where firefighters were present!  The kids did a wonderful job thanking these heroes and they even got something special in return:  sitting in the police car and fire trucks!  They asked plenty or questions and the men graciously answered.  On the way home, they said that they had fun and they really enjoyed doing it.  I'm so glad my husband suggested we do this.

Fire Station Visit

Police Station Visit

If you saw yesterday's post, we made some sugar cookies and rolled them in red sugar.  We tried a new recipe and they were delicious (but definitely not high on the health meter!).

Sugar Cookies
Source:  Taste of Home

1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 c. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
extra sugar

In a large bowl, cream together butter, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla; mix well.  Combine flour, baking soda, and baking powder; gradually add to creamed mixture.  Shape into 1 inch balls.  Roll in sugar.  Place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet and flatten with a glass or fork.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until set.  Place on wire racks to cool completely.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Thanking our Heroes

Over the weekend my husband suggested that we make something for our local fire department this week.  I have to admit, I was a bit baffled when he suggested this, but then I figured out what the date was and realized that September 11th would fall on Wednesday.  Then it all made sense.  We are approaching the 12th anniversary of this tragic day, yet I can still so vividly remember nearly every moment that transpired that day.

I've often heard that for our generation it is very similar to those who were old enough to remember Kennedy's assassination.  For most of us we remember where we were, what time we learned the news, and the hours of television coverage we watched.  We were overcome with sadness, shock, and hopelessness, but we stood united and were quick to pray,  hang flags and create other patriotic displays .  Each year September 11th comes upon us and I think it's safe to say that for many of us those feelings arise again.  Will it always be that way?  I believe so. 

Obviously my children were not born at the time of September 11th, but I think it's a great time for us to stop and talk about how important it is to recognize those who risk their lives to keep us safe:  firefighters, policemen, and military personnel.  We will take the opportunity to make some thank you cards, some sweet treats, and personally deliver them to these heroes in our community.  

I think it's important for us to teach our children about service and being thankful for the freedom that we have.  It seems that when they're young, finding these opportunities can be difficult.  Let's not forget that there are people surrounding us everyday that deserve our gratitude and taking the time to recognize them is a great way to get the little ones involved and teach these valuable lessons.     


Thank You!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Beat the Heat: Crockpot Monday!

Once again we are going to be hit with some excessive heat for a few days this week.  On days like these, I try to avoid running the oven if at all possible.  Luckily for us, it's Crockpot Monday so it all works out well.  This week we're having one of our favorites, Chicken Tacos.  Just in case you've missed this recipe before, I'm going to share it again.  Instead of using the pre-packaged taco seasoning, we are going to use our homemade taco seasoning this time around.  Enjoy!

Chicken Tacos

1 to 1.5 pounds chicken breasts
2 T. homemade taco seasoning (or packet of taco seasoning)
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes and chiles

Place all ingredients in the Crockpot.  Cook on low 6-8 hours.  Shred and serve.

No time for dinner?  This took less than a minute to put together.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Homemade Taco Seasoning

In our attempt to eat more clean and avoid all of the "extras," we have begun to attempt some homemade sauces, marinades, and seasonings.  We had great success with our barbecue sauce and teriyaki marinade, so we thought we'd give taco seasoning a try!

On our first attempt, we thought it smelled great and we were excited to try it out.  I made tacos and threw in a few tablespoons of the seasoning.  Once it was done, I took a little taste-test and yikes!  It was spicy!  I tried it out on the kids and had to laugh when one of the kiddos grabbed their throat and began to chug milk and the other yelled, "I feel like I ate some hot sauce!"

All right, let's try again!  This time we followed the recipe, but cut out the cayenne pepper and reduced the chili powder a bit.  I used it to make mexican lasagna and it must have been okay, because everyone scarfed it down.  This is definitely a trial and error recipe, as you need to find what heat works for your family, but it's super easy to make and once you figure it out, it would make sense to double or even triple the recipe.

Homemade Taco Seasoning
Adapted from Chef Pablo's Recipe

1 T. chili powder
1 t. paprika
1 t. cumin
1/2 t. ground coriander
1/2 t. oregano
1/4-3/4 t. cayenne pepper (adjust or omit)
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. onion powder
1 t. sea salt (reduce or omit if desired)
1 t. ground black pepper

Mix together and store in air tight container.  Use 2 T. per pound of meat.

If making tacos, add 1/2 cup of water to drained meat.  Add seasoning.

Taco Seasoning

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Shifting the Mentality to "I am Enough"

I have begun to re-read Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.  It only took me a few pages to realize why I enjoyed the book so much the first time around.  Today I just want to share a passage from the book that she included from another author, Lynne Twist.  Is this how you start your day?  Is this how we want to live our lives?  Where nothing is ever enough?

"For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is 'I didn't get enough sleep.'  The next one is, 'I don't have enough time.' Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it.  We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don't have enough of.....Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we're already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something.  And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds are racing a litany of what we didn't get, or didn't get done, that day.  We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to that reverie of lack....This internal condition of scarcity, this mind-set of scarcity, ives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice, and our arguments with life..."

I think this passage is powerful, thought-provoking, and an opportunity for us to examine our lives.  Instead of feeling like we aren't enough, that we don't have enough, perhaps we could focus on the fact that we are enough.  That we have plenty, most likely more than we truly need.  Throughout the course of a day we have most likely given our best effort and accomplished as much as we could.  Perhaps that should be enough.  Instead of worrying about the "didn't's" maybe we should just be happy with the "did's."

It is difficult to change your mindset.  Converting from the mentality of "not enough" to "enough" will definitely take some deliberate thoughts and actions.  I am ready to make that change, for myself and for my family.  It's time to make a cultural change.  To shift from whining, complaining, and wanting more, to being satisfied with what we have.  That doesn't mean that we shouldn't strive for more, to have dreams and goals, but on our journey there, we should be grateful for what we have already accomplished.  It's time to sit back and enjoy the ride.