Monday, June 30, 2014

Meal Plan Monday (6/30)

I know I don't always include recipes or links to the recipes, but you can find most all of my meal plan meals on my Pinterest boards. Just click the Pinterest botton on the side bar of my home page. If you are reading from a mobile device, click "view web version" to see the side bar.

White Chicken Chili

adapted from Betty Crocker

White Chicken Chili

1 quart organic low-sodium chicken broth
1 can butter beans
1 can great northern beans
1 can white shoepeg corn
1 lb. cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 small white onion finely chopped (optional)
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dries oregano
1/4 tsp hot sauce (optional)
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. lime juice

For stovetop:
Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large pot and cook the onions and garlic until soft.
Put remaining ingredients except chicken into the pot.
Bring to a boil, then simmer for at least 20 minutes.
Stir in chicken.
Serve with shredded cheese, corn chips, fresh cilantro, diced tomatoes, etc.!

For slow-cooker:
Put all ingredients into the slow-cooker, and cook for desired amount of time.

Basic Quiche Recipe

8 eggs
1- 1 1/2 cups milk
2-3 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped*
2 cups shredded mozzarella*
Salt and pepper

Make the two crusts and press them into two pie plates. 

Whisk the eggs and milk with salt and pepper. 

Stir in the spinach. Pour egg-spinach mixture into the pie plates. Top with the shredded cheese. Bake at 350 F for about 45 minutes. Let the top get nice and golden-brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting. 

*You can really do any cheese/veggie combo that appeals to your family. My favorite is blanched broccoli, sundried tomatoes, and 1 Tbsp of pesto.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Friday Favorites

Hey y'all! I have not done a Friday favorites post in a while. I thought I would catch you up on what's been going on lately. 

Last Friday, Ben took me out for our anniversary to a really nice local restaurant called Foothills Milling Company, then we went to the drive-in for a double feature. We saw How to Train Your Dragon II and The Fault in Our Stars. I do not know how we stayed awake, but somehow we managed to. I have not stayed up that late in years… It was nearly 3 AM by the time we got home and got to bed! It was definitely one of my most favorite dates ever! We tried to take a picture in the back of our minivan while we were watching the movie, but it was just too dark. But we did get some pictures of our awesome food! We shared the fried green tomatoes appetizer, and for entrées I had a smoked trout stuffed ravioli which was actually an appetizer, and Ben had the pulled pork and grits, which was a version of shrimp and grits served over polenta. For dessert, we had the buttermilk pie, and oh my goodness, it was so so good!

Our small group Bible study on Sunday mornings has been going really well. Ben has been teaching about the fruit that we produce in our lives when we are living in daily repentance. There is only one more week left of this particular study, and then we are going to move onto a marriage enrichment study. I am really looking forward to that!

Ben shared his testimony with the college students on Thursday night. He did such a great job telling about how God called him to salvation at college night at our church 12 years ago. Then he shared about how God has been working in his life more recently, teaching him about daily relying on Christ to shape and grow his heart and faith. He shared two passages: Psalm 139 which says "search my heart oh God…"; and in Matthew 22:37 Jesus says that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Ben's main point was that being saved is not the end of loving Jesus. We are incapable of loving the Lord with all our heart with all our soul and with all our strength all the time. We are supposed to ask God to reveal to us when we are not obeying that great command. But we have to ask Him often to reveal it. When we are just going through the motions of Christianity, e.g., going to church "most of the time," randomly reading the Bible and praying, without doing it out of a true and pure heart for spiritual growth, God knows. By His grace, he convicts us, but it is up to confess and repent (Psalm 139); then He will lead us in the way everlasting. 

It's Vacation Bible School week at our church. I've been on the worship team and have been teaching music to the Pre-K class. It has been a blast! We are having our celebration on Sunday afternoon when the kids will get to sing for the parents/families. We've had about 500 kids in attendance!

We don't have any firm plans for the weekend other than church activities on Sunday, and I'm glad. I am looking forward to resting up when the kids will let me. ;) That is, after my 10-mile run on Saturday morning.

Do you have VBS at your church? Do you volunteer for anything?

What are your plans for July 4th???

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Best Homemade Pizza Dough!

We here at the Mills house love homemade pizza. And I love to bake... but I always seem to end up unhappy with my pizza crust. A couple of weeks ago I shared that I had a huge breakthrough with my dough, and I want to share it with you.

I do believe that using good flour makes a very big difference. I decided to use King Arthur brand unbleached all-purpose flour, a staple in my pantry. On a whim I had grabbed one of these three-packs of pizza crust yeast at my grocery store. I was skeptical, but for the price I thought I would try it.
I followed the recipe on the back of the packet for the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and oil quantities, doubling the recipe. But then, of course, I did a few things "ad-lib" to the recipe. 

I baked the dough on stoneware, sprayed lightly with olive oil cooking spray and sprinkled lightly with cornmeal. 

Here's the recipe:
1 3/4 - 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 envelope of the pizza yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1 1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup very warm water
3 Tbsp oil
(I doubled all of this.)

Combine 1 cup flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl (used my stand mixer). Add water and oil. (I microwaved my water for 1 1/2 minutes.)  Mix until well blended. Gradually add remaining flour just until soft dough ball is formed. It should slightly sticky. Knead on a floured surface for about 4 minutes. (I used my dough hook for 4 minutes.)

Remaining instructions are my own: 

Half the dough by eyeballing, then with floured hands pat it out onto the prepared stoneware; cover with slightly damp, clean dish towel. 

Place stoneware on stovetop and begin heating your oven to 425°; OR, if you made your crust ahead of time, like I did, let it "rise" until time to go in the oven. (The yeast packet recipe does not instruct for any rising, but my results were so good, I think I'll let it sit next time too. I think it was about 1 1/2 - 2 hours before it finally went into the oven.)

No pre-baking required. 
Brush oil lightly onto crust. 
Top as desired. 
Bake 15-20 minutes until crust and cheese are nice and golden. 
If baking two pizzas that won't fit side-by-side, make sure you rotate them halfway through baking. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tips for Weekly Meal Planning {and last week's meals}

I'm a little late getting this out, but I guess it's better late than never. Recapping my meals from the previous week really helps me when I am having a brain block and cannot come up with any ideas for the upcoming week. Here's how I usually do my meal planning:

Start thinking on Sunday about what we want to have during the week and which nights I know that we will be home. It does not always happen, but I like to plan at least two meals with a couple of repeat ingredients. Spinach is an ingredient that I use often; for example in a quiche, and then as a side with another meal. 

On Sunday night or Monday morning, make a rough list of the meals that I have come up with, and then figure out if any of the meals will have large quantities of leftovers. If any of the meals will have big leftovers, I eliminate one meal and replace it with a leftovers night. 

On Monday morning, make a grocery list based on the planned-for meals. Then I take an inventory of what I already have on hand and eliminate from the list as needed.

Then I head to the store.

Here are last week's meals:

Veggie enchiladas

Grilled peach and prosciutto pizza
Click here for my best homemade pizza dough

Thai Basil
Recycled pic. I actually had the coconut soup with chicken. 

Ben and I also made a large batch of breakfast burritos for the freezer.

For Father's Day, I may Ben some of my homemade cinnamon rolls.
Definitely a new love in our house!

I also made a blackberry cobbler for the cookout that we had at Ben's parents after church. (Sorry, no photo.)

Do you meal plan?
Do you do weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or another way?
Sorry for the ghetto jpeg... I'm not very tech/blog savvy. ;)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Trading in My Mama Bear Claws for...

Well... it finally happened. 
I watched my child being mistreated by other kids, and I let my emotions get the better of me. It was certainly not the first time that we had been in a situation like this, but for some reason this time, I became so upset with the other children. I never did anything too regretful in the situation, but inside I was so enraged. I was thinking about all the faults of the other kids, and never took the opportunity to teach all of the kids involved. 

Later (after I had time to cool off), I did have several good conversations with Rush about not returning evil for evil (Romans 12:17), turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:38-39)= saying "I have other toys that I can play with, you can have it", and doing to others as we would have them do to us (Luke 6:31). 

I recounted the whole situation to Ben (my husband) that night. He had some great words of wisdom, as always. [Ben's spiritual gift is wisdom!]  He reminded me that I don't have to let my emotions get the better of me. God gave us emotions, but Christ living in me is what should be controlling my reactions to life. During our conversation, I realized that I have fears about how our son will mesh socially as he grows. It is one of those weird tactics that Satan uses on me sometimes; it comes and goes, but when it creeps in, it's very strong. My fear (aka lack of faith) is what caused my poor reaction. How many times have you reacted sinfully as a result of suppressed fears? 

All I could think was "Those kids are so unfriendly and have no manners whatsoever! They are just provoking my son to the point that his social "quirks" come out.  All they can think about is themselves!"

Deep down in my spirit, I know that there is no reason to worry about my son. If I am living the kind of life in Christ that I should be living, those worries won't even seem valid; I will be able to dismiss them the moment they pop into my head. And my response to conflict will be peace-making, life-giving, Godly instruction. 

"We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have lived with a God-given holiness and sincerity in all our dealings. We have depended on God's grace; not on our own human wisdom. That is how we have conducted ourselves before the world, and especially toward you." 2 Corinthians 1:12

If I can keep this verse and others like it stored in my heart, then my mama bear claws will not come out at the wrong time. My main weapon of defense should always be the full armor of God, because really I am not just protecting my child from other people; I am defending his heart (and mine) from invisible evil powers. 

"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication." Ephesians 6:11-18a ESV
Lord, please give me the strength and wisdom to show my children how to respond to conflict. Help me to be sincere, gracious; to control my tongue and my feelings; and to use Your Word as my main line of defense and instruction. I cannot do it on my own. Only you can help me trade in my mama bear claws for Your Armor.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Homemade Frozen Fruit Bars and Coconut Smoothies

1 cup frozen mango chunks
1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2-1 cup coconut water (fruit juice will work too)

Put the mango chunks into the blender first, then the raspberries. Pour in 1/2 cup of the coconut water, and secure your blender lid. 

Begin to puree, adding more liquid as necessary. 

Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.

Enjoy outside on a hot summer day!

Spinach Coconut Blueberry Smoothie

Big handful baby spinach
1 cup blueberries (frozen)
1 ripe banana (optional)
Small palmful almonds (optional)
1 cup yogurt of choice (We prefer vanilla Greek.)
1 cup coconut water

Put ingredients in your blender in the order listed. Blend/purée until very smooth. 

Meal Plan Monday (6/9) and Scripture Memory

Happy Monday! I hope you had a great weekend!

Last week was fun in the kitchen. I tried one new recipe, and did some freezer meals to have on-hand for friends and family.

This was our line-up for the week:

Grilled honey lime chicken sandwiches with sweet potato fries (new for us)
slider bun topped with avocado, tomato, and salsa verde

Broccoli cheese soup (no photo of the soup, but I got a pic of the HUGE bowl of fresh shredded Gouda!!!) I doubled the recipe and froze half. 

Fish tacos on Trader Joe's whole wheat tortilla topped with avocado, spinach, and salsa verde

Smoked finger ribs with baked sweet potatoes, and green beans

Homemade fruit bar popsicles 

Homemade cinnamon rolls
These were AMAZING and simple to make!

Sneak peak into this week's meals:

Grilled chicken and veggie kabobs with blue cheese stuffed red potatoes

Grilled peach and prosciutto pizza 

Veggie enchiladas with Mexican brown rice

Goat cheese pasta with farmer's market inspired salad

It's a busy second half of this week, but I'm really looking forward to it! I want to do my very best for the Lord in every task and appointment. I want to devote myself to refreshing my memory verses this week, specifically Ephesians 6:11-18 and Romans 1:16-23. I encourage you to get in God's Word and memorize it. It will change your life! 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Summer Eats {Munchkin Meals}

I'm linking-up with Brittany for another month of Munchkin Meals. Go check it out for lots of great ideas for feeding kids of all ages.
munchkin meals

I don't know where you live, but here in East Tennessee summer arrived a few weeks ago! It has been hot! I've been spending lots of time letting my kids get wet. We have a plastic pool in our driveway; they love playing with the water hose; we go to the city pool; we splash in Dollywood's splash pad, and now Rush, my four year old, is in our city's swim club! Although we do occasionally spend an afternoon out, we try to do all of our activities before lunch. If we aren't going to the gym, we're going to swim club or a play date. Needless to say, quick and healthy snacks and lunches are a must since we are in the car a lot from morning until lunchtime. 

So this month we are sharing our current favorite summer eats, mostly pool and car-friendly. ;)

I have already done a snack-themed munchkin meals post, so some of these things may be repeats. But we're always trying new things too, so hopefully this won't be too boring. 

Breakfast: approximately 7:15 
Peanut butter on whole grain Eggo waffle (or homemade frozen if I have any) or whole wheat bagel

Snack: approximately 9:30
Anything in our Squooshi reuseable pouches (applesauce, yogurt, pudding) or granola bar of some kind in the car

Lunch: (between 11:30-12:00)
If we are home: Brittany's corn dog mini muffins from the freezer with carrots and hummus, plus fruit
If we are out: peanut butter and jelly with Pirate's Booty cheesy puffs and banana chips and an apple. 
Rush (4), Lottie (2), and Cousin Ella

Snack: approximately 4:00
Smoothies or homemade fruit bars (sharing the recipe soon). Here's a sneak-peak of our mango-raspberry bars. 

Dinner: approximately 6:30
Nothing new or exciting to share, but their favorite meal this week has been broccoli-cheese soup. 

I don't have many pics of meals or munchkins eating, so I'll share some photos of munchkins having summer fun!

Have a great summer with your munchkins!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Meal Plan Monday

Happy Monday! I'm working on a couple of posts other than meal plans (I know some of you don't care about these), but those other topics take a bit more time for me to hash-out. So just bear with me, please. We have a fairly laid-back week this week, so cooking should not be an issue. Here's a glance back into last week's meals:

Last Monday was Memorial Day, and we were hiking most of the day. By the time we got back home, it was too late too cook, and I was too tired. So we ate leftover homemade pizza and I made a quick microwave quesedilla with some fresh avocado slices. The rest of our meals were great:

Warm steak and potato salad (Melissa D'Arabian)

Quiche: I made the usual spinach-mozzarella, but wanted to try something new on the second pie. I had been inspired by a Rachael Ray frittata recipe; so I made Brussels sprouts-scallion-feta quiche. I thought it was really good for a change. Ben liked it too. 

Indian spice curry chicken and veggies
This was my first time making Indian food. It was delicious, and Ben loved it too! (The curry powder was from a friend who is from India.)

We went out for Mexican on Friday night and had lots of leftovers, which we saved for our late Sunday night dinner after church. Ben had the Cuban sandwich and I had chicken fajitas with house-made corn tortillas. Yum!

I am doing some freezer meals this week to have on-hand for my close friend who is getting very close to her due date with her third baby boy and for my mom, who is having surgery next week. I will be making breakfast casserole, broccoli cheese soup, and a chicken dish (haven't decided yet). I will probably also make some muffins for each of them when the time comes. 

Our menu at home this week will look something like this:
Grilled honey lime chicken sandwiches with sweet potato fries
Broccoli cheese soup
Fish tacos
Something in Ben's smoker for the weekend

Do you have any homemade freezer meals that you love? With chicken?

Do you like to venture out and try new cuisines? or do you stick with what you know?