Friday, February 26, 2010

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos

Since I've started posting our meal plans I have gotten question on how to make the sweet potato burritos we often have. So I thought I would let everyone know how they can cook them. But first a cookbook review.

If you have never heard of Simply in Season, you must check it out. It is by far one of my most used cookbooks. It is put together so nicely that I can easily look up recipes by ingredient and season. And often there are variations to the recipes, using other vegetables or fruit common in other seasons. And example is in the Summer section there is a wonderful recipe for crustless zucchini quiche. At the bottom it suggests using broccoli or kale rather than zucchini and tomatoes in the fall. In addition to the great recipes, there are menu idea for putting together the recipes to make a complete meal. This is a great help to me. I sometimes get excited about a certain dish but than have no idea what to serve with it. Finally there are great tips on gardening and eating seasonally.

Ok now that I have praised Simply in Season, on to the recipe. We had these burritos last night. As you can probably figure out by checking our menus, we love them. And they have become a staple around here the last couple of winters. Hope you enjoy as well.

Black Bean Sweet Potato Burritos

Saute in oil 3 cups diced sweet potato and 1/2 an med onion

Add 2 cups cooked black beans (or one 15 oz can), 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt. Cook until heated through.

Spoon into 6-8 tortillas, sprinkle with cheese and roll up. Bake at 350F in 9x13 baking dish covered with foil for about 20-25 minutes.

I get impatient with sauting the sweet potatoes. And with little kids I need to ensure my potatoes are very very soft. So I have cooked the two different ways. One is to diced them up and then steam them like I would if I was going to mash them. The second (which I first tried last night) is to bake them in the oven first. I diced them, tossed them in oil and then placed them in a square baking dish at 400F. I think it took about 45 mins to cook till they were as soft as desired. But they tasted so good this way. If cooking the sweet potatoes in either manner, I add the spices to the black potatoes and then toss the cooked potatoes into that mixture before spooning into the tortillas. If I'm using canned beans I don't even bother heating. They get heated in the oven. I also like to sprinkle cheese on top of the rolled up tortillas.

Sorry I don't have any pictures. When I was making them last night I didn't think about taking any. I sure hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Menu Plan Monday (Feb 22)

Well I'm alittle late posting our menu this week. Oh if I'm honest I'm late even making the menu. Ian has been running a fever since late Sunday night. And between him being sick and Cai still not acting normal after last week when he was running a fever I feel alittle out of sorts. Ian's fever seems to be gone, but he still has a lingering cough. Hopefully that too will break soon. Last weeks sweet potato burritos were not made. Although I can't for the life of me remember what we had it place of it. Mark has requested that we have them this week, and since I have the sweet potatoes to use I figure that can be done. :) Well on to the menu. I'm trying to use some of the meat in our freezer, so in the next couple of weeks you might notice we will be eating more meat than has been normal for us of late.

Tuesday: Island Style chicken on rice (it was pretty good and Cai loved the chicken itself)
Wednesday: Church meal
Thursday: Sweet potato and black bean burritos
Friday: spaghetti pie
Saturday: chicken rice casserole and veggie
Sunday: Left overs or breakfast
Monday: salmon and broccoli casserole

If your still looking for idea, go visit Organizing Junkie.

Love of Pancakes

We love pancakes around here. And lately we have been eating them alot. The increase in pancake intake came about with the purchase of an electric griddle. I was very excited awhile back to find a square electric griddle at our local Salvation Army. And I must admit it has been wonderful addition to my kitchen. Somehow cooking pancakes on an electric griddle instead of a frying pan is alot easier. Don't know why. Just seems that way to me.
While I've been known to use pancake recipes that are more detailed (and always worth it), of late our pancakes have been very simple. I have a pancake mix ready in my cupboard. I use one cup of the mix, add a cup of milk, one egg, alittle vanilla, and about a tablespoon of oil. Sometimes when I'm feeling nice I'll even add something extra such as applesauce or chocolate chips. :) The mix I use is from my mother-in-law's pancake recipe. I cut the dry ingredients in half to fit in the container I have. And while I follow her recipe that uses yogurt for when Mark is eating with us, lately I've stuck to my own variation. To make the amount of mix I make you mix the following together and store in air tight container.
3 cups whole wheat flour, 1 cup while all purpose flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon salt.
Our renewed love of pancakes is more than the easy creation of the meal. It's also due to the easy in consumption. Both my boys can easily feed themselves pancakes. And recently, upon the suggestion from Angry Chicken's post in December, we have been eating them with powdered sugar rather than syrup. The boys love the sugar, and I have less sticky to clean up. Sure there is white on cloths and the table cloth, but somehow it doesn't bother me the way the sticky syrup does when it gets everywhere. :)
At first we would just use a spoon to put the powdered sugar on the pancakes. And I would love to get a big shaker. However, since I don't have one right now I decided to use a small glass salt shaker. I had this nice decorative salt and pepper shakers that I wasn't using and decided it was time to put them on our table. We got them to go with our dishes, so there was no reason for us not to use them daily. I then cleaned the clear glass set we had been using and once cleaned put powdered sugar in it.
While it takes some effort to get the sugar out it works. And I'm not worried about Ian dumping a ton on his pancakes anymore like he did with the spoon when I would let him do it himself. Of course, Ian's alittle upset about not getting as much, but he'll live. Besides Mama is happy with the situation. And when Mama is happy, so is everyone else.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

footies and top

So I finished a second pair of footie longies for Aiden. They did not turn out as great as the first. The feet are twisted. But they fit and functionally work. So I'm trying not to complain too much about it. Especially since I don't have the energy to take them apart and figure out how to get them right. I decided that since I now have two pairs I needed a shirt that could be worn with both. Thus allowing me to switch between the two throughout the day. I had this really cute onesie that would look great with both footies. So I decided it would be really easy to convert it into a long sleeve tshirt.I cute off the tapered bottom and sewed a 1/4 inch hem. I was right! It does look great. And fits great. And now Aiden has a great outfit (or two depending on how you look at it) Yay!! Now some might wonder why not use a onesie? Well you can. But you have to snap it outside the pants, which I think looks funny. Sure I do it at night sometimes to keep they from getting cold (we keep the house colder at night). But durning the day it just looks silly to me. Maybe I'm just being ridculous, but I'm ok with that I think. And you can snap it under that pants because then you would be changing tops with every diaper change. Wool longies work as you water proof barrier over your cloth diaper. If you onesie is right on top of the diaper without a water proof barrier it will get soaked along with the diaper. That's alot of laundry and changes. No thank you. Plus not very comfortable for baby. Converting an already owned top made more since than going out to find a new one. Just my opinion. No matter what, I'm pleased with my work and it's outcome so that's what matters. Aiden doesn't seem to mind either. As he is warm, comfy and cute :)

Sunny days in the dead of winter

It's started to warm up just alittle around here. Which makes outside adventures so much more appealing. Add to that the sun shine and we can't help but want to be outside.
Last Saturday we spent at the afternoon at the zoo. It was nice to be out of the house. And we planned it perfect because Sunday a cold front came through.
I love taking the boys to the zoo. Their wonder at the animals is written all over their faces. It's fun to see what will excite them as it seems to change every trip.
The gorillas this trip were the biggest fascination. Two of them chased each other across the indoor exhibit and the boys' eyes light up in excitement watching them play.

Yesterday it warmed up again. And so the boys and I spent the late morning before lunch outside.
I had found a bicycle just Ian's size at my local second hand store and was excited to show him. Unfortunely he decided to try to get on as I was getting his brothers settled outside and fell down. I got him on the bike once before he refused to get on again, saying he would fall down. Hopefully we can get him to try again with our help. :) I'm excited at the idea of him learning to ride.
We ended up then spending the rest of our time in the backyard on the swing set and in the sand box. Aiden and I laid out and soak up the sun rays.
Other than a squable about keeping sand in the sand box it was a nice morning. The squable was over Cai throwing sand out of the sandbox and onto the ground. Ian didn't want him to and tried to stop him. Little things light this I try to let them work out, only coming to the rescue if needed. However, I must admit it's hard to remember that although Ian understands much he does not grasp that Cai just is not at his level of understanding.
Aiden has been growing by leaps and bounds. Pushing up on his hands, trying to roll over (and sometimes succeeding), and finding the joy and fascination of hands. :)
Every one of us seemed to need the change to soak in the sun, breath the fresh air and just be free in the emptiness and openness. It felt very fitting for Ash Wednesday to be spent outside among the barren earth. From dust we come and to dust we shall return.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Menu Plan Monday (Feb 15th)

Well as I stated the other day, we survived last week. :) And even though meals got reorganized and changed somewhat, our menu turned out to be a good one. I had enough dough to make too pizza braids. So I put one in the freezer for later. Well I'm going to keep things short today. Here is this weeks menu.

Tuesday: Green spaghetti, carrots
Wednesday: Church meal
Thursday:Chicken nuggets, mac and cheese and vegetable
Friday: Sweet potato and black bean burritos
Saturday: spaghetti w/ meat sauce, vegetable
Sunday: Leftovers or Breakfast
Monday: Chili with corn bread

Go check out Organizing Junkie for more menu ideas.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Homemade Hamburger Helper: Cookbook entry

I had planned on making this recipe on Thursday. However my wonderful mother invited me to come eat at her place. Which I jumped on because Mark was still gone and I was eager to get out of the house. Mark came home at 8pm Thursday night. We all survived. :) And dinner at Mom's was great. She made me a wonderful meal and then we watched Bob the Builder with the boys till Mark called to say he's plane had landed. So tonight I decided to make my hamburger helper recipe. This is the other recipe I entered into our church cookbook. I'm not sure where the original recipe came from. I thought I had found it in the cookbook my mother-in-law gave me from her church. But every time I have tried to find it again I can't. However I can say that I've made this meal so many times it feels like I could make it in my sleep. It's easy and everyone like it. I was telling Mark at dinner that I often forget how much I like it. It's such a simple meal but has become sorta a comfort food around our house. Easy and enjoyable. Hope you enjoy it too. Note about ground beef: To make things easier for me I tend to cook ground beef a pound at a time. I then use half in recipes such as this one and freeze or refrigerate the other half for later use, depending on the menu that week.

Homemade Hamburger Helper

8oz elbow macaroni or macaroni shells
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 16oz can diced tomatoes
1-2 cups frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste

Cook macaroni in 2qts boiling water for 8-10 mins until tender. Drain.
While macaroni is cooking, brown ground beef with onion. (I used dried minced onion tonight so I added 1/2cup water to soften onion)When browned, add diced tomatoes with juices, frozen peas and salt and pepper. Cook until peas are cooked through and most of juices absorbed. Mix together hamburger mixture with macaroni and serve!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentine's and Thank Yous

With Valentine's Day coming up, Ian has several Valentine's parties coming as well. The first was this morning at preschool. So I was in need of Valentine's to give to his friends and classmates. For his preschool class I traced hearts onto pink and red construction paper and had Ian cut them out. Ian is really into using scissors and cutting paper, so this kept him happy for alittle while one evening while I was making dinner. He cut maybe a third and I cute out the rest. Then he decorated them with stickers and wrote his name on them (well all but about 4 or 5 which I put his name on for him). I then got mini chocolate bars and taped them to the back. They worked out great! Tomorrow there is a party for story time. I ahve some valentines that came with Ian's High Five magazine that I'll have him put his name on and give out. Part of me wished I had got to work on Valentines sooner. Maybe we could have made all of them for the storytime party as well. But this works.
I'm finally getting around to writing Christmas thank you cards. I was giving Amanda Black Soule's The Creative Family from my father-in-law for Christmas. If you having heard, read or flipped through this book, it is a wonderful sources of creative expression, ideas and projects. It's from here that I got the idea for my thank you cards. Last week Ian made a wonderful drawing of a dog. I have to say I'm so very proud of this picture because it's the first time he has really draw an animal, he put his name on it all by himself (with no help or prompting) and he was very excited to tell me all about it when he was done. He pointed out the feet, tail and told me about about how the lines and shapes he drew made a dog. :) So I scanned the picture onto the computer and printed it on card stock to made cards. Now I just have about 3 more to write and then it's off to find envelopes so I can put them in the mail!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Menu Plan Monday (Feb 8th)

So last week's meals got changed up quite a bit. Thursday, Friday and Saturday we did not follow the menu. Thursday we had a small group meal that I had forgotten about till Wednesday. I made a cheesy, ranch broccoli and cauliflower dish to go with the baked potatoes that were being made as the main dish. It was very yummy and all the little kids loved it. :) Friday we ate leftover lasagna. And Saturday we went out. Saturday we had spent cleaning the house in preparation for our Super Bowl party. So we decided the treat out was a welcomed break for everyone. Mark might be gone to Indiana for work Wed and Thurs. So we'll see how I survive with him gone. I have a meeting Wed night. Luckily a good friend has already offered to watch Ian and Cai for me. :) I love babysitters that jump at the opportunity to watch and play with my kids. Ok so here is this weeks menu.

Tuesday: Peanut Butter Broccoli Stirfry with chicken over rice
Wednesday: Church meal
Thursday: Homemade Hamburger Helper
Friday: Pizza Braid
Saturday: Leftovers or freezer meal
Sunday: Breakfast meal
Monday: Freezer meal

And be sure to check out Organizing Junkie for more menus.

Footie Longies

If I have not expressed my love of wool before, let me do it now. I love wool!! Especially for over cloth diapers. Last Christmas I bought Cai a pair of Woollybottoms footies. I actually found a pair used on I love them. Cai wore them all last winter. However, right now they are still too large for Aiden. So today I decided to try and make my own. I used a pair of 6mo pants as my pattern for the pants. And a pair of soft shoes that fit Aiden for as my pattern for the feet. I used the arms of one sweater for the pants and scraps from a solid brown sweater for the feet. I think they turned out beautifully. I'm so excited. And very proud of my work. Now I just need to get working on some more in larger sizes for as he grows. :)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Christmas Stockings

I'm either really late or really early in making our Christmas stockings. Either way I'm just excited to have them together.
I had wanted to make these in time for our '09 Christmas. Having a new baby in Nov really slowed me down. Plus, as I've mentioned, my sewing machine was on the fritz and I just recently got it in to be fixed.
I must admit it feels extremely good to have them cut and sewn together. I'm going to pack them up now and wait later in the year to decorate them. I haven't decided whether to add names or initials to personalize them for each of us.
I'm sure by the time next Christmas rolls around inspiration will strike. And even if it doesn't it's ok. They will be much better than the tiny decorative stockings I used this Christmas. For the pattern I used is a stocking that I found in a box of stuff I pick up from my local Freecycle. I'm so glad I had kept it.
I traced around it on the legs of several pairs of old jeans I had saved for this purpose. Then I sewed them together using a french seam. I like them better with the seam showing. Don't know why. Just thought it looked good.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Aprons for the boys

About a year ago I made this apron for Ian using some fabric I picked up at a local second hand store. I used measurements from this blog post: "How to make a kid -sized chef apron." I had stumbled onto from this wonderful site listing on 52 free apron patterns. Really there are some great patterns. Check it out
Anyway, lately Cai has been wanting to help in the kitchen. When I have the energy to direct him this is great! However, if both boys want to help, one apron was not enough. And the fights were getting out of hand. So having fabric left (I think the original piece was 2 yards), I decided it was time to make another. Using Ian's apron as my guide I wiped up another apron.
Both are two layers. Ian's is the green knit fabric on the front and red canvas left over from the mei tai I made last spring on the back. Cai's is green knit on front and the back was from a yellow t-shirt. :) I also used the yellow t-shirt scraps for the ties and used elastic for the neck strap.
I cut Cai's 2 inches shorter since Ian's was dragging on the floor when he wore it. I think it turned out ok. Cai even seems to like it. Now I just have to remember to get them on the boys when working the in kitchen.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Groundnut Stew- cookbook entry

So as I mentioned in the Menu Plan Monday post my church is putting together a cookbook. And I am submitting two recipes. :) Tonight for dinner we ate one of the meals I'm submitting: Ground beef Groundnut Stew. Mark grew up eating groundnut strew. It is one of his favorite meals. His mom used a recipe from the cookbook More with Less. When Ian was born, my mother had been given a ton of ground beef, and so she gave us several pounds every time we went to visit (which was often). My mother-in-law adjusted the recipe for ground beef in place of the beef cubes it originally calls for. Over the past few years I have in turn made adjustments to suit my likes. And the outcome is a meal that both Mark and I love, as well as the boys. So I thought since I'm submitting this recipe to my church, I would share it here as well. Hope you enjoy!

Ground beef Groundnut Stew

Saute until browned 1/2lb ground beef and 1 chopped onion.
Add 1 clove minced garlic, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1 Tbsp chili powder, and 2 Tbsp flour. Stir until juices are absorbed.
When meat is browned, add 1 8oz can tomato sauce, 1 16 oz can diced tomatoes, and 2 cups fresh or frozen vegetables of you choice. (Tonight I used frozen corn and peas) Simmer until veggies are tender.Half an hour before ready to serve, add 1/2 cup peanut butter and simmer.Serve over rice with curry toppings. Our favorites include: chopped apples, raisins, pineapple bits, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and banana slices.

In case anyone is interested. To call a recipe your own without violating copy right laws, you much change at least three thing within the recipe. Changes can include additions, subtractions and substitutions.

Through Ian's Eyes

I must confess I'm a perfectionist. And while there are times when this is a wonderful trait, at other times it only hinders me. This comes to light when I have my camera out. I want so much to capture the best of my world that I sometimes in fact mess those moments worrying about trying to take the perfect picture.
We have allowed Ian to take pictures with our camera for over a year now. Often times I delete almost every picture he takes, but in the past months more and more of his photos have been kept. In his excitement to just take pictures he doesn't worry about whether they are perfect.In fact I'm sure the very idea of the perfect picture is beyond he realm of thinking. He's joy in the process allows his eyes to capture anything and everything without judgment.I find that even the pictures I delete are full of wonder with the color and shapes, sometimes sharp, sometimes blurred.It a joy to see what captures his attention, what he chooses to photograph. Maybe there is a purpose, maybe not. Either way it's a picture of the world through his eyes.

In case you didn't already guess, all pictures in this post were taken by Ian.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Menu Plan Monday (Feb 1st)

Well meals last week went mostly well. Friday was an overall overwhelming day. It snowed all day. I decided to brave the snow and go ahead and take the boys to storytime at the public library. However as soon as I got in the car I began questioning my reasoning for even bothering. But since I was already in the car and everyone was bundled I figured why not? So we went to the library. After I got everyone back in to come home afterwards, my car refused to start. The battery had died. ARGGG! So I had to get everyone back out and into the library to find someone who was willing to help me jump our van. Which luckily one of the librarians agreed after I assured her that I had jumper cables and knew how to jump a car. All I needed form her was her running battery. :) Mark took the van in that afternoon for an oil change and new battery. Turns out it was the original. Ok, so long story short I was so overwhelmed by that and the cranky, demanding children that I had no desire to cook. So we ordered pizza. :) Saturday, I was going to make the lasagna planned for Friday, but ended up making this lasagna in stead. It turned out great. My favorite this week though was the salmon bake. It is going into my repeat pile. Tonight's Veggie Burritos is one I haven't tried before. So I'm looking forward to trying it.

Well here is this weeks menu. Two of the recipes I'm going to submit to our church cookbook. So I'll post later about the specific recipes. They are family favorites and I'm excited to share them, as they are my own adaptations of other recipes. Although the original hamburger helper seems to be a figment of my imagination as I have not been able to find it. Maybe I really did just make it up :)

Tuesday: Groundnut Stew w/ Ground beef
Wednesday: Church meal
Thursday: Homemade Hamburger Helper
Friday: Taliatelle with Tuna, bread, veggie
Saturday: Freezer meal
Sunday: Super Bowl Sunday - pizzas maybe? We still haven't decided where and how we'll be watching the game.
Monday: Chili, corn bread

For more menus check out I'm an Organizing Junkie.