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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Recipe: Pressure Cooker Mac & Cheese (that's lactose- & gluten-free!!)

I love my electric pressure cooker! You may have heard me say this before but... I cannot say it enough. One reason: Pressure Cooker Mac & Cheese!

Let's get right to the recipe!


12 ounces brown rice pasta
3 1/4 cups rice milk (plus a few extra ounces)
2 Tablespoons ghee*
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
a few shakes of mustard powder
1-2 cups frozen broccoli or cauliflower
2 ounces grated parmigiano reggiano*
6 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese*

*Ghee is butter that has been clarified so that no dairy remains (just that wonderfully buttery, fat taste!); true parmigiano reggiano cheese (NOT parmesan!) is naturally lactose-free due to the aging process; aged, sharp cheddar cheese is also naturally lactose-free! Good to know!

The recipe:

Begin by placing uncooked pasta, rice milk, ghee, sea salt, onion powder, mustard powder and frozen broccoli/cauliflower into an electric pressure cooker. Close the lid so that it is airtight. Set the pressure cooker to 4 minutes-- yes, that's right, just 4 minutes!-- on high setting. Wait for the pressure cooker to work it's magic which will take approximately 10 minutes to build pressure and then 4 minutes of cooking time. When the cooking is done, give your cooker a few minutes to depressurize before opening the valve. When you get impatient enough, go ahead an open the lid. Mix in cheeses until fully melted. Add those few extra ounces of rice milk if you think it deserves a creamier consistency. That's it! Now you're done!

Not only is this pressure cooker mac and cheese lactose- and gluten-free, this stuff is also super healthy guys! No preservatives. No additives. No unnecessary chemicals. Just cheesy, yummy goodness!

Note: Don't have a pressure cooker? Well of course I recommend you get one! However, don't let that discourage you from trying this recipe. Try cooking the pasta in the rice milk on the stove-top, warm the frozen veggies up too. When pasta is cooked, mix all ingredients together and then let me know how it turned out!   ;-)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mom tips (first edition)

I love Large Families on Purpose's Mom Tips and so I am borrowing the idea in hopes of igniting a little inspiration into your housekeeping journey. Hope you enjoy the first edition!

Socks have been a huge issue in this house. It's sad how many times those little buggers have almost brought me to tears. It seemed inevitable that socks would either never be clean (because they we're put in the hamper) or sock matches would mysteriously disappear. I finally made a resolve to invest in white socks for all of the children. I found these with the grippy bottoms for my 1- and 3-year old. And then these for my 5- and 7-year old to share. I decided on white because I have both boys and girls and don't really want to invest in different colors for each sock size. Plus I thought they'd be easy enough to bleach once and awhile. For the younger ones, I put a red dot with fabric marker on the 2T/3T size and a green dot on the 4T/5T size to make identifying the sizes easier.

I also have a mesh lingerie bag hanging on the hall linen closet devoted to dirty socks. Dirty sock pairs should be placed in here after being worn so they don't get lost in the mysterious-hamper-abyss. I can also grab the lingerie bag and throw it in the wash as often as I do a load so that we always have clean socks (gasp!). Sock pairs stay together through the washer and dryer and this makes me happy. So far these two methods are helping big time!

As for laundry, my dear friend helped me begin to tame this monster with a very simple method: wash each child's clothes separately each week to avoid the unnecessary step of sorting through a big pile of wash to find each family members clothing (and then having to go to all ends of the house to put clothing away). Since my kids are still pretty little thus their clothing is still pretty little, I've decided on this specific method: girls wash on Mondays, boys wash on Tuesdays, adult wash on Wednesdays (yay! Hubby gets clean underwear tonight!), kid bed sheets on Thursdays, adult bed sheets on Fridays and towels on Saturday. Phew! Of course there are those random Tuesdays when someone wets the bed. What I usually do then is, not fret, but do kids bed sheets that day and look at this Thursday as a day off from laundry (woo-hoo!).

It also has been helpful that we've instated the family closet! We are fortunate to have a walk-in closet directly off of our main floor bathroom. It is supposed to be for my husband and I but with a closer look I discovered that a lot of it was wasted space being taken up by clothing we just didn't wear any more! After sorting out what we didn't want/need/wear, we actually had about one-third of the closet left for the kids clothing. I bought two weekly clothing sorters-- one for the girls and one for the boys. I've always found it easier to organize their clothing into outfits so these sorters are perfect for that. I have a plastic 5-drawer organizer in the center to store undergarments. Right now each child has one for socks/underwear/stockings with the exception of the baby. She has one for socks/underwear/stockings and one for onsies.
pink/blue baskets below for pj's
a small area for clothes that need to be hung
Let's get into two more quick mom tips.

I've adopted a sort of knock-off of FlyLady's 27 things clean-up method. It's called Just Five Dishes. That means that when I've fallen behind on dishes-- which happens often-- I tell myself, "just five dishes". I'll stand at the sink for 2 minutes and wash five dishes and then move on to something else. Since doing dishes is a chore that I particularly don't enjoy, I can quickly become overwhelmed with the idea of standing at the sink for hours. But when I take on just five dishes the mountain somehow seems more achievable. And a lot of times when I'm there I wind up doing 7 or 9 or 12 dishes and not just 5. By the end of the day the pile may still be there but it usually looks a lot better.

And finally--

A weekly meal plan has been a tremendous help to our family. It has taken a lot of the guess work out of both meal planning/prepping and grocery shopping. I talked about it before here.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Surviving those LONG days when dad is away

As a mom, some days just seem longer than others. Am I right or am I right?

Add to that the absence of dad and a long week-- especially during this winter-- can seem to tick by very slowly. Here's a few tidbits I've learned along the way, when my other half had to be away:

If you have enough notice, plan ahead. 
It is always a good idea to have some simple meals already planned out. If you are able, even better is to do some cooking in advance by maybe frying up some ground meat or throwing a double batch in the crock pot or anything that's going to simplify your days. Getting a good stack of paper plates, bowls and cups is extremely helpful as well.

Plan something extra fun.
I've learned from previous mistakes that planning a huge outing or home renovation project while hubby is away isn't always the best idea. However, it may be fun and necessary to get out of the house a bit. A simple trip to the local mall to do some window shopping or a play date with a friend might be in store. This is always a welcome distraction and takes the stress away from the fact that dadda isn't there around the meal table or tucking the kiddos in at night (for both you and them!). Dinner and a movie nights are always a hit with my kids. I let them eat in mama and dadda's bed while watching a favorite flick.

Give 'em some jobs. 
Just because dadda is gone for a few days, doesn't mean it's a free-for-all! Remember, all play and no work makes for a very messy house! With the right attitude, your kids will enjoy helping you get the house in order before dadda returns home. We've found it especially helpful for dadda to have an encouraging exchange with our oldest, naming him second-in-command while dadda is away. Our oldest takes this responsibility very seriously and, for the most part, he is a huge help when I'm flying solo.

Enjoy the added alone time.
While it's no fun trying to juggle mealtime and bathtime and bedtime alone, it can sometimes be equally as difficult when everyone is in bed. Try to make the most of this time by digging into a good book that you've been wanting to read or on the phone with a friend who you really should connect with more. Also, you can use this time to think of something special you can do for your hubby for when he returns home. Again this shouldn't be some huge project but maybe stock up on his favorite ice cream or have a home-cooked meal ready or even something as simple as tying a welcome home balloon around dinner chair. Anything to show him that you really appreciate him, really missed him and are really relieved happy to see him! Let the kids in on this "surprise" too-- they'll really enjoy it!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

New and improved weekly menu plan

Today I'm happy to share with you all something that has been really helpful around our house lately!

You all know that I am a big advocate of meal planning and typically do my planning, along with many others, on Menu Plan Monday. However, we've found a little system here that is really working, so we're running with it!

We started noticing we were sitting around the dinner table thoroughly enjoying some simple meals like split pea soup, taco salad and baked ziti. And we were all in agreement, "Wow! I could eat this once a week!" So one day I stopped and made a list of the meals that we were willing to have once a week. And, lo and behold, there are about seven of them!

I got on my Cozi calendar and started playing around with which meals worked for which day of the week (depending on how easy or difficult they were to prepare and how many fresh ingredients they required). And this-- our lovely, super-helpful, weekly meal plan-- is what I came up with:

Split Pea or Cauliflower Soup
[made in the pressure cooker, usually served with homemade bread or crackers & some cheese]

Spaghetti, Ziti or Chili
[usually served with a frozen vegetable]

Pork or Chicken
[probably made in the crock pot,  maybe served with some salad or a very simple coleslaw or pickled vegetable and some rice]

Steak or Roast
Saturday's nights fare-- yum!!
[usually served with baked sweet potatoes and oven roasted veggies]

Tacos or Enchiladas
[usually served with beans, rice & a salad]

Homemade Pizza
[made with lots of toppings]

Lentil Stew
[made in the pressure cooker-- so easy & so good]

It has been great to not have to guess about what we are having or worrying about if I have the ingredients on hand! My shopping list looks pretty much the same every week and I'm able to keep the pantry stocked with the essentials. I have been keeping organic onions, baby carrots & celery on hand at all times. They are the foundation for a lot of these meals!

So, there you have it. Nothing revolutionary but all very hearty and filling and simple. And boy, do we need simple!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Check out these 23 awesome e-books for just 15 bucks!

I have something near and dear to my heart to share with you today, so please take a moment to read. 

If you follow DIYparenting on Facebook, you already know that Christine Steendahl, "The Menu Mom" is in the process of  fundraising to bring home a 15 year old orphan from Ukraine through adoption.    (Isn't he cute!?!) 

They need to raise all funds by December!

As part of this effort, she is holding a "fire sale" featuring 23 e-books from various online friends at an awesome price. 

There is something in this bundle for everyone!  It is a great deal for you, and it also helps bring Igor home, as all profits from the sale will go into the adoption fund. So cool. 

 here are some of the titles I am particularly excited to check out!

Please consider purchasing a bundle today, and also sharing with your friends this opportunity. Let's work together to bless this boy with a "forever family". 

Sale only valid until November 12! Buy now!  ;-)

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