Wednesday, November 25, 2015

6 Fun & Easy Thanksgiving Ideas

Since I can't hold tightly to these years when my daughters are small, I'm going to try to enjoy each moment. The holidays can make that easy or difficult, depending on your expectations!

I love to do fun things with the girls that don't cost a lot of money or take a lot of prep. This week of Thanksgiving, we've been having a LOT of fun together being thankful, even though it hasn't been a perfect week! It keeps our minds in perspective. I've been loving reading aloud Junie B. Jones First Grader: Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten (and Other Thankful Stuff). It's hilarious and both kids are amused by it too!

Here are 6 more FREE or super cheap ideas for you to enjoy with your family during the Thanksgiving season.

1. Thankfulness Chain: I take scrapbooking paper I have around the house, cut it into strips and the kids write one thing they're thankful for on the back of each strip before we attach it to the chain. They want to make it super long, so they have to think deeper than the normal stuff...and by "deeper" I mean things like "pigs" and "Shopkins." We do this over a week or so, and end up laughing a lot. This year, I used Christmas paper and will probably let the girls put the chain on the tree.

2. Colorful Table Cloth: Pictured above, with our chain, grandma got the girls this table cloth at the dollar store. Instead of using it once on Thanksgiving, I decided to keep it on all week with a bucket of crayons as our centerpiece. The kids have loved it!

3. Thanksgiving Madlib You can find a bunch of these online. They're hilarious for any age group, which is a good thing because my girls are 5 years apart!

4. Lunch box jokes I printed these and have been sticking a few in my daughter's lunch all week. They'd even be great as kids get back into school next week!

5. Roll A Turkey All you need is some dice and paper. You add features to your turkey based on what you roll and the first person to complete their turkey wins! You could end up with some crazy looking birds!

6. We've also been enjoying Christmas movies on Netflix.

Since our second baby turns 5 this week, we're also planning her birthday! We're hoping to see the Charlie Brown movie and eat lots of cake!

Happy Thanksgiving! I pray you find the beauty in the simple things and count many many blessings.


Monday, November 16, 2015

My 2 Favorite Make-Ahead Brunch Recipes

Both of these are crowd pleasers (gluten free or not), and they are SO GOOD!

I often make both of these the night before, and bake before the event/gathering. So easy and delicious.

Best Ever Egg Casserole
This isn't the healthiest egg casserole, but it's amazing and simple! I use skim milk instead of half and half.

Amish Baked Oatmeal
I love this! You can add anything! Almonds, flax, chia seeds, raw coconut, etc...It's amazing! I like to add cinnamon and vanilla! I use almond milk and coconut oil, or soy free earth balance for the butter.


Monday, November 2, 2015

New Menu! Gluten/Dairy Free

Hey! I'm enjoying hearing feedback from those of you who are enjoying some of the recipes we like in our home! The Korean Beef recipe seems to have been a favorite!

I had a comment from a friend last week, so I'll answer her question here! Those granola bars are addicting, Jackie!!! Glad you like them too!

"Oh those granola bars!! So yummy, but I will eat the entire pan lol so we can't make them unless we're having company! When you do your zuke noodles, what seasonings/sauces do you use?" - Jackie

I keep it really simple! I usually just sauté the noodles in a little olive oil and water...and then I add salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and whatever is left in the fridge: chicken, beans, other vegetables, or even fish. I love it!

Here's what's cooking in our home lately!

Barbecued Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps         (Rachel Ray) This recipe is on our repeat list. I don't include the water chestnuts or the mushrooms because my family doesn't care for them. But, if you've never tried hoisin sauce (you can find it in the international foods isle), it's really good. All of us like it! I served this weekend on lettuce wraps with rice noodles and peas. Hannah has the leftovers in her lunch today.

Grilled steaks, homemade french fries and steamed fresh green beans almondine - Just for the record...I kind of stink at grilling steaks, but these ended up tasting pretty good. I don't buy a ton of red meat, but Matt requested steak, so it was a treat we had on Halloween night. The weather has been nice, and I love to grill when I can...Now, last week, my grill caught on fire. We had to break out the extinguisher and everything! This week, the flame stayed where it was told!

Crockpot Mongolian beef - We had this last week too. People look at me strangely when I suggest this meal - like I have two heads. Check out the recipe - there's really nothing weird in it, only it's AMAZING! I cut the sugar in half, add extra carrots, and served with brown rice and broccoli. So good. I also buy cheap cuts of beef. London Broil was on sale this time. In the crock pot, you can buy cheaper cuts of meat and it'll still taste great.

Individual Turkey Meatloaves - (Rachel Ray) Use gluten free bread*** crumbs. I've been making this recipe for YEARS. Since the first 30 minute meals cookbook came out. I don't usually include the egg yolk or the red peppers inside the meatloaf...but these are easy, fast and very flavorful using ground turkey. I don't usually make the broccoli with cheese sauce include in the recipe. I served it last week with smashed potatoes (much faster than mashed but still as yummy) and a side salad.

***Gluten free breadcrumbs. I NEVER buy them. They are SO expensive!! I save the ends to the loaves of bread I buy or make, and when I have enough, or need them for a recipe, I pulse them in my food processor with seasonings and toast them in the oven. I put what's leftover in the freezer. If I need a little more, I'll add gluten free oats, gluten free rice krispies or rice checks to bulk it up. You can even use GF oats.

Baked Chicken: I roasted 5lb of "quick-sale" chicken tenders. Lightly sprayed with olive oil, and rubbed with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and some paprika. Bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes and they were perfect. We'll be eating those in lunches all week.

Some Extras:

Vanilla Scented Granola - (Ina Garten) (Use gluten free oats and the rest is safe). This is great for breakfast or desert!! It's extremely sweet, so you can pretty dramatically reduce the sugar in it. Add anything you enjoy. I've added raisins, cranberries, chia or flax seeds, mini chocolate chips, organic unsweetened coconut. It's amazing, but granola is high in calories, so, if you're watching, be careful because it's addicting!!

Gluten Free Bread - This is a new recipe I'm trying today!

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