The Pandemic continues and so I am still trying to teach 8th grade U.S. History from my living room while high school orchestra is in the dining room and Freshman year and Senior year occur upstairs!
But at least I can prepare dinner a bit more in advance when I am working from home and one of my favorite ways is with the slow cooker. I came to my site to find this recipe today and discovered that I have never shared it in this forum! Or at least I didn’t tag it so it could be found easily. So I will share it today. I like this one because it is a “magic pot” recipe—-combine, put it in, turn it on and walk away!
Slow Cooker Meat Loaf
Combine all the following ingredients:
- 1 lb of sweet/mild Italian pork sausage (removed from the casings but now I just buy the non-casing packaged kind and it makes it so much easier!)
- 1 lb of ground beef
- 3/4 cup bread crumbs
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup of pasta sauce–whatever “flavor” you like. Could even just use tomato sauce if you don’t have any pasta sauce
- 1/4 cup Italian cheese (I use either a blend or just shredded Parmesan)
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 2 pinches of dried basil
- 1 pinch of dried oregano
Stir it all together.
Line your slow cooker with a liner or use two pieces of foil. If you use the foil have the two pieces form a “+” in the bottom of the cooker and press the strips against the inside of the cooker, letting the ends hand over the outside.
Cover and Cook on low 5 to 8 hours or until a meat thermometer comes out at 165 degrees.
Tonight we had fresh pineapple, a green salad, corn on the cob, and a happy mom as I didn’t have to think about dinner at the end of the work day.
Well, it took a pandemic to allow me enough time to be able to sit down and write on this blog again! I hate the circumstances we are living in but oh are there some silver linings and maybe I can write about those soon.
One silver lining is that I can use my slow cooker more now! I have an older model slow cooker with no timer…just plug it in and go. So when teaching in a building I left home at 7:45 and didn’t get home until 5:45…not much more I could do than a roast or pork for carnitas! I made this Jambalaya on Monday and we have more than enough to eat on again this week. I like this recipe because it is a “magic pot” recipe in that you dump it all in and go! There is a little bit to do in the last 30 minutes but that isn’t hard!
Easy Slow-Cooker Jambalaya- Makes 8 servings Cooks for 5.5 hours
In your large slow cooker combine:
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (next time I will cut these in half to place in the cooker)
- 1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 2- inch slices
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
- 3 stalks of celery, chopped
- 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes with juice
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 Tablespoon Cajun spice mix
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Cook all of that on low for 5 hours…then….
Add to the slow cooker
- 1 pound of large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 3/4 cups rice
and cook on high for 30 minutes or until shrimp and chicken are cooked through.
Sprinkle with Parsley to serve
Summer officially starts tomorrow if you follow that on the calendar BUT the change of schedule happened for us at the first of June—no more school until August! When our girls were little I would make schedules and plan our days- Make it Monday, Reading Wednesdays and so on. But our girls are now both teenagers (eekkk!) and our schedules are all over the place. Even my schedule was crazy these last two weeks as I was presenting at conferences, leading professional development (pd) and getting my own credits for pd.
I still was trying to figure out how to get our girls doing some things that don’t come naturally to them when they make their own to-do lists each day. My goal was to get them doing the things that I would usually harp on them about doing but without the harping! Then it hit me…
Duh Becki—you share with teachers the importance of voice and choice in the classroom, how is that not different at home? One easy way to do this in the classroom is to use choice boards that I always say are “teacher directed and kid approved”. The teacher sets up the tasks but the students get to choose what they do on the board. So I sat down and created a choice board for our girls. I used the Tic-Tac-Toe grid but it is four in a row rather than 3. I set the board up working to make sure in each row and diagonal there were a variety of tasks: reading, creating, intrapersonal, active and yes…some math practice too!
I rolled it out tonight and it was received as well as anything with teenagers can be received 🙂 There were a few moans about some of the tasks and I expected that. My response was “you don’t have to do that one—it is up to you.” That is the beauty, the tasks are there and if they want some extra spending money is is theirs for the taking.
I will have to come back and update at the end of the summer to let you know the reality of the plan.
I posted a template below—try it at your house if you would like!
Smith Family Tic-Tac-Toe Template
Enjoy your family—hope your summer is made in the shade,
While thumbing through Facebook on one of my last days before I head back into the throes of teaching and running kids, I stumbled upon a recipe for Southwestern Salmon Skillet Supper. I happened to be going to the grocery store on the same exact day and knew we could have it for dinner…OH.MY.Goodness! It is so easy to throw together and it was a four-smiley face dinner (meaning everyone in the family ate it and left happy). I will definitely be making this one again and knew I needed to share it here too. Since my girls are not as big of fans of spice as I am, we didn’t put the rub on all the pieces of salmon just in case they didn’t like it, but they ate it with and without the rub. The only thing I will do differently is cook the sweet potatoes a bit longer next time before putting in the other ingredients. So pull out that cast iron skillet and prepare this one-dish meal!
Fast and Healthy, a win-win!
Southwestern Salmon Skillet Supper
Preheat oven to 425°
Whisk together in a small bowl:
- 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Set the bowl aside.
- Dice 2 poblano peppers
- Peel 1 large sweet potato and cut into 1-inch pieces
- Trim about 3 ears of white corn kernels for 1 1/2 cups [or use frozen white corn kernels like I did! So much easier :)]
Heat in large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat:
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
Here is where I will change the recipe- it says to put the peppers and potatoes in the skillet and cook for 5 minutes- stirring constantly. What I will do is this:
In the heated skillet add the sweet potatoes and cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes.
Add to the sweet potatoes the poblano peppers and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring often.
Now stir in
- 1 can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes with juice
- the 1 1/2 cups of corn
- 1/2 of the spice mixture
Let that cook for 3-5 minutes.
Place on top of the vegetable mixture:
- 4 (5-ounce) salmon fillets, skinned. (Well, we made another deviation here…we bought about 2.4 lbs of salmon, cut it into fillets to cook)
- sprinkle evenly with the remaining spice mixture (we left a few, without the spices and only used kosher salt and pepper on those few for the girls)
Place skillet in the pre-heated oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the salmon is cooked through.
While salmon cooks, stir together using a rubber spatula in a small bowl until evenly combined:
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (I forgot to take my butter out at the beginning of my preparation so I put it on the warm stove in a bowl to soften it up)
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- 2 teaspoons honey
Once the salmon is cooked through, top it with the butter mixture immediately (I put this on even the girls’ pieces)
- cilantro leaves (about 1/2 cup)
This week is Thanksgiving Break in our district and I am enjoying the unstructured schedule! With the extra time I have been trying some new recipes. The one I’m sharing with you today is not technically new to my family as I’ve made it once before. But I want to share it as for one it has pumpkin in it so it fits the Thanksgiving theme. However, one would never know it has pumpkin unless you were helping in the kitchen. This mac ‘n’ cheese is light on the cheese…just about a cup of cheese to go with 10 ounces of cooked elbow macaroni. The look of cheese comes from the pumpkin.
My family really does like this dish but my handsome fella tells me to not remind him that there is hardly any cheese!
This is a good supper for after the big Thanksgiving meal day as it is easy to prepare and relatively healthy. (I got the recipe from the September 2015 Cooking Light Magazine)
One-Pan Broccoli-Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat add
- 2 center-cut bacon slices, chopped
Cook until bacon is crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from the pan but leave the bacon drippings.
Add to the drippings in the pan and saute for 30 seconds
Add to the pan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally:
- 1 can of pure pumpkin
- 2 cups of chicken broth
- 1 cup of milk (we use 1%)
- 10 ounces of uncooked large elbow macaroni
Cover the pan and reduce heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- 3 cups of chopped broccoli florets (I buy a bag of broccoli in the produce department to make it faster!)
Cover and cook 3 minutes or until pasta is done and sauce is thickened.
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 4 ounces of cheese (about a cup)
Sprinkle on top:
- remaining cheese (about 1/4 cup)
Cover and let stand 1 minute.
The recipe said that it only costs about $8.15 for six servings. I make my own chicken broth so it probably costs a bit less for us! Totally worth it as it is healthy and economical.
OH, but don’t tell your family it is pumpkin until AFTER they have eaten it all up 🙂
The school year is well underway (finally after start two brought to us by Hurricane Harvey) and life is at that crazy-busy level. It is our “normal” and I am thankful for the clubs, classes, Bible studies, and parties my girls are able to be involved in, yet finding time to reconnect as a family can be T-O-U-G-H.
Sundays set the tone for the week. Sundays are a special day—that is how God intended it. We all need a Sabbath, a day set aside for rest and worship. Our Sundays can still be crazy though. How can we carve out Sabbath time as a family on our Sundays when…
- we have church in the morning,
- a quick lunch all together before Brad heads off to his second job—thanks Babe!
- the girls finish up the last of homework not completed on Saturday and then run off to Bible Studies at different locations
- No one is home at dinner time and one child has dinner at Bible Study, the other snacks herself silly and Mom and Dad are running the roads to pick up everyone
I reflected on this and realized that in December our family makes time to have an Advent devotional and prayer time each Sunday night so why not do the same EVERY Sunday. We love our time in December so let’s make it work for year-round.
I have decided that if we can’t have dinner together on Sunday night that at least we can have dessert. I make sure we have something to snack on while we meet to reflect on our week ahead, discuss our time at church earlier in the day and then have prayer time as a family. It has been a sweet time of fellowship. It gives us time as a family to share concerns, laugh together and plan the week so the week can run more smoothly.
Sometimes I make an “involved” recipe dessert like the one Heather and I made a few week’s ago, salted caramel brownies, and then other times I pick up a box of “just add water” scones from Trader Joe’s and throw together the easy and well-loved “Fall Munchie Mix” (A box of golden grahams, mini-marshmallows, Reese’s Pieces, and chocolate chips all combined in a bowl!).
Easy desserts for our family time- Trader Joe Scones and Fall Munchie Mix
How do you connect as a family when life is crazy-busy? Leave a comment and let’s share our collective genius!!!
Tonight our group of friends from church got together to eat, visit and just enjoy our time. Wow- what cooks we have! We decided to have a mexican-themed dinner and I think it was as good as you could get in a restaurant….maybe better depending on which restaurant you go to!! I took the rice and a dessert. So of course I took my Mexican Brownies (well the ones from food network that I love to make.) One of our friends that was coming has to eat gluten free and I decided to make a half batch of brownies that she could eat.
I had no idea how they would turn out, but they were just as amazing as the regular recipe batch.
Oh so yummy even before the oven!
Recipe Changes for Gluten-Free
- Substituted King Arthur 1 for 1 Gluten-Free Flour for the flour and
- Used Clabber Girl baking powder. You have to watch the baking powder as some is not gluten-free.
The half batch cooked for about 18-20 minutes.
They were so good and when I got to our destination, the gluten-free batch was still warm so my friend was able to try one warm from the oven—delicious!
I love salads but especially in the summer. I have fond memories of my Mom and I making big salads to share for lunch while we were home in the summer months and we always ended up putting Lemon Pepper on it for seasoning! Ah, fun memories.
I pulled this pasta salad recipe out of Food Network Magazine from 2012 but finally made it recently! (five years….yes, I know that is a long time) But it was worth having it kick around for that long as it is a keeper in my recipe book! I did everything the recipe called for except the toasted pine nuts/slivered almonds. I do love toasted nuts but I didn’t want to turn on the oven and also knew that my girls wouldn’t eat them. First you make the dressing (while your pasta is being prepared) then you put the salad together.
Garden Pasta Salad with Bocconcini
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Then add
- 4 cups of fusilli or campanelle pasta
Cook until al dente (about 2 minutes less than the label directs)
Drain and rinse under cool water; shake off the excess and transfer to a bowl to toss with the dressing.
Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and add to the water
- 1 clove of garlic (make sure to take the peel off)
Boil for 2 minutes.
Remove the garlic and place in a blender (I only have a broken smootie machine…but it does the trick!)
Add to the blender:
- 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes…mixed colors is preferable (I used red and yellow)
- 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup fresh basil
Puree until smooth. Then with the motor running add in a slow steady stream until blended well:
- 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
Season with kosher salt and ground pepper.
Toss the dressing with the cooked pasta.
Shave with a vegetable peeler or mandolin
Then halve the strips crosswise and add to the pasta.
Add to the pasta:
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups of halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup halved bocconcini (small mozzarella balls)
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds toasted (optional)
- Freshly ground pepper and a bit of Kosher salt to taste.
Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, up to 6 hours (Bring to room temperature before serving)
I served this alongside some fresh cut peaches and chili-honey rubbed chicken Brad grilled. It was a winner of a meal!
So kick back and relax with this winner of a meal too!
Recently I made this dish and my handsome fella declared that it was “the best chicken dish” he has had in a while! So naturally I knew I needed to share it on this blog. I found this recipe in the USA Weekend from May 13-15, 2001. It is from ThreeManyCooks by Pam Anderson. I of course love that it only messes up on dish and by the time the dinner is finished on the stove, I have cleaned up the kitchen.
I found the recipe when we lived in Pennsylvania and finding chorizo was a tough task….living in Texas now I have my pick of chorizo at ANY store I walk into. I purchased chorizo that had no casing, so rather than cut it into slices, I just crumbled it into the dish and cooked it well. I liked this better.
Spanish Chicken & Rice
- 1 T of olive oil
- 1 tsp each of paprika, garlic powder and dried oregano
- sprinkling of salt and pepper
Toss into the rub mixture
- 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Heat a large, deep skilled over medium-high heat.
Add to the skillet the chicken and saute, turning once until it is well browned, about 6 minutes.
Remove the chicken and set aside.
Add to the skillet and cook until browned (about 3 minutes or so)
- 1 T of olive oil
- 1/2 pound of crumbled chorizo
Add to the browned chorizo and cook until tender (about 4 minutes)
- 1 medium onion, cut into a medium dice
- 1/2 red bell pepper cut into a medium dice
- 1 1/2 cups of rice (I used Uncle Ben’s long grain rice)
- 3/4 tsp turmeric
Stir everything to coat the rice and turmeric with oil
Add to the pan:
- 2 1/2 cups of chicken broth
- 1 can of petite-diced tomatoes
- The browned chicken
Bring everything to a simmer over medium-high heat.
Reduce heat to low, cover adn cook until liquid has absorbed and rice is tender (about 20-25 minutes)
Cover, turn off heat and wait a few minutes before serving.
This picture has nothing to do with Spanish Chicken and Rice! But if you want to pin the recipe…you need an image 🙂
This morning I was able to get up before the rest of my family for some rare time to myself. I made coffee, I cleaned up some dishes left soaking from the night before, and I spent some time with the Lord. Then I decided to open the blinds to let the sun shine in and sit down to quietly play some Christmas carols on the piano.
As I sat down, I noticed dust on the top of the piano. Dust!??? I had recently dusted. I had checked the house over before we hosted a gathering the night before and I had not seen dust. Where had the dust come from? The dust had been there but now the light was shining in.
God then reminded me that He shines light in the darkness and reveals our sins and weaknesses. Those sins and weaknesses are there, within us. Many times we live life, day to day, without ever acknowledging them or even realizing how they are hurting us. Then God sends the light to reveal what the darkness has hidden.
to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’
I was reminded how we have to daily open the blinds and then dust. I have to daily take time with the Lord to ask him to reveal what is keeping me from knowing Him better. Then I have to ask forgiveness and change my behavior.
I am so thankful for The Light. This time of year the entire world loves looking at lights…..Christmas lights on trees and those decorating yards. I pray that as you take in the seasonal lights that you remember The Light that we are actually celebrating. God sent his son, The Light, as a baby to deliver us from our darkness of sin that separates us from Him.
The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.
So get out the dust rag and get rid of the dust that the light reveals.
Let the light reveal the dust and then get rid of the dust!