Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Favorite Quick and Easy Beef Stroganoff Recipe

You want dinner in 20 minutes? This is an easy, tasty meal that everyone will love!

Easy Beef Stroganoff Recipe:

Ingredients:
1 lb sirloin steak, cut into bite-sized chunks
1/4 c butter
1 lb of sliced mushrooms
1 small chopped onion
1/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups already prepared beef broth OR 2 cups water and 1 Tbl natural beef bouillon
4 to 6 cloves of minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups sour cream
1 lb of whole wheat pasta of your choice (I usually use penne)

Prepare the pasta. In the meantime, quickly brown the steak pieces over medium high heat, in 2 Tbl of the butter. Remove as soon as it is brown, set aside. In same pan, melt remaining 2 Tbl of butter and add onion, mushrooms and garlic. Saute until onions are tender. Add the flour to this mixture. Mix until it looks like a paste. Add broth or water and bouillon to the paste mixture, stirring until smooth. Add steak and cook on medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Salt and pepper to taste. Add sour cream at the end. Serve immediately over the cooked pasta.

Enjoy!
Jackie

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Urgent Prayer Request

Mason, the only child of a dear college friend of mine (we were bridesmaids in each others weddings) is seriously battling cancer. He was diagnosed just before his 7th birthday this last December. Even though we live far apart, we've always managed to keep up through email, Christmas cards and now Facebook. Having a seven year old son as well (both our boys are redheads), my mother's heart is broken for what my friend must be going through. I'm so thankful she is a believer and open to what God is teaching her through this trial. When we are weak, HE is strong! 

I'm asking for urgent prayer requests for Mason. Tomorrow (Monday), they are praying his white count will be high enough to do a very complicated surgery, removing the tumor that is near his bladder. You can read his story and follow his progress at this website: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/masonmacrostie Also, please pray for my friend, Amy, and her husband, Morgan. I'm sure they are constantly fighting fear as they walk through this together. I can't imagine having to watch my child suffer like that. I'm praying God will sustain them and give them a peace that passes ALL understanding.

I was in church this morning and every praise song we sang, seemed to relate to this situation. The song that stood out the most was:

My Saviour, He can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to save,
He is Mighty to save.
Forever, Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave,
Jesus conquered the grave. 


Christian lyrics - MIGHTY TO SAVE LYRICS - HILLSONG AUSTRALIA 

Thanks ahead of time for your prayers for Mason and His family. God bless you for caring about this precious little boy.

In Christ,
Jackie

Update from his mom:
"Surgery was cancelled due to Mason's extremely low white blood count and ANC.  UGH!  He completed the three day food restriction, got his port accessed, a feeding tube placed and then BOOM!  No surgery!  
We were all bummed.  It is so hard to get yourself pumped up and ready for something like a huge surgery, only to have it postponed.  We opted to leave the feeding tube in as we can supplement Mason with (yucky) boost drinks and he won't have to taste it!  He can also get his medication through his tube and not have to taste that either! A bonus.
Mason will not be able to go to the big Bowl-A-Thon tomorrow night.  Again, counts are too low and he is at risk for illness and infections.  The only plan we have right now is to get Mason's counts re-checked on Wednesday or Thursday of this week and go from there.
Please pray that Mason's counts come up, he doesn't get sick, and somehow this brave 7 year old can process all that has happened with a positive attitude.  I think his parents may need that last prayer said for them too :)  We love you and thank you for sticking with us through the highs and lows!"

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Homestead Wannabes' "Pantry Raid": Using What You Have

We're becoming such "Foodies" around here ;) We've never had television, but recently we bought a Roku so we could watch instant movies on Netflix. They have so many documentaries perfect for homeschooling. We've also discovered some fun TV shows we can watch without commercials. I was surprised to find a show called "Pantry Raid". The premise is a professional chef who goes into a person's home. That person literally cannot cook, usually because their confidence is so low. He uses only the things in their pantry and fridge and helps build their confidence in the kitchen as they create tasty, beautiful dishes, using only what they already have. 

The kids love "Pantry Raid" and we've been using our creative juices to come up with some fun, fancy, cheap meals. The above pictures is our "salad on a stick", using skewers. I didn't have hardly anything to make a salad that night. I was completely out of lettuce, so I used wedges of cabbage and stuck on a slice of cucumber, cheese and carrot. I drizzled some ranch over the top with a little balsamic vinegar for color and they were gobbling them down. It's all about the plating!

Earlier that day I had put a chicken in the crockpot, using my favorite slow-cooked garlic chicken recipe. I put some rice on a platter, then arranged the pieces of chicken on top, with a bit of spinach here and there for color. 

Here is one serving of everything we had that night. The rice, chicken and salad on a stick. I accidentally erased our dessert picture. I used homemade chocolate chip ice cream and just added a few organic white and dark chips and sliced almonds to the top and served them in wine glasses. The kids thought they were in heaven. 

For lunch the next day, Josiah made gourmet tacos with the interesting sauce created from homemade ketchup, mayo, brown mustard, salsa and garlic, onion and chili powder. I have to admit it wasn't too bad. He was so proud of himself. Oh, and he also helped me make the whole wheat tortillas.

The next day we made fancy open face tuna sandwiches for lunch. I cut a slice of homemade bread in half, put a slice of queso fresco and put on some tuna mixed with pickles and mayo. I had Josiah put a spoonful on top of each piece of bread with a sprig of cilantro. Yum!

The thing I really enjoy about this program is that it shows cooking as art and that is something I can really get into, especially when it is easy and actually saves me money because I'm inspired to use the things are already have on hand. 

Now go forth and make a mundane meal fun!
Blessings, 
Jackie

Monday, March 21, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Fun/Avocado Pancake Recipe

Not only did we do the green toilet water thing, we made avocado pancakes again. I don't use dyes in my cooking, so I've learned to get creative. Everyone automatically makes a face when I talk about avocado pancakes. Seriously, don't knock it until you've tried it. They are delicious!

Avocado Pancake Recipe:

Fly off the Plate Pancakes Recipe:

Mix together:
1 cup milk, buttermilk or kefir
1 egg
2 Tbl (rounded) sour cream
2 Tbl melted butter
1 Tbl honey
1 mushed up avocado

Then add:
1 cup Whole Wheat flour (just depends on how thick you like your pancake batter)
1/4 tsp Celtic Sea Salt
1 T baking powder

Mix wet and dry ingredients together and then cook as you would any pancake or waffle.

Avocado Butter Recipe:
1 avocado
1 cup cream
1 Tbl honey
1 tsp vanilla

Cream together until it is the consistency you want and serve over avocado pancakes.

Here they are folks! The kids just love these. I usually drizzle a little more honey over everything. 

My son finally found his wallet at the bottom of his toy box. It still had all his Christmas money in it, so he had enough to buy a new Lego set. He was ecstatic! Can't believe how fast he's getting at building fairly complicated stuff. 

Hailey got a beginner set of Supermags. These things are so cool! She was making bracelets and all kinds of things out of it. Best part is: they stick together! 

After that we went to a Christian book fair. Oh man, I couldn't have absolutely gone nuts in there! Well, I kind of did. I found a whole bunch of Creation-based science books that looked so fun and they weren't too expensive. I bought these 7 books (a couple of these came with small workbooks), plus a dinosaur workbook. I'm learning that our family really loves science, so I'm going with it. I'm thinking about starting a Creation science class next year for our homeschool group. Now I've got plenty of resources! These books should last us clear through high school. What a blessing! 

Hope you all had a wonderful St. Patrick's Day and had a chance to teach your kids about how God used St. Patrick to introduce His son to Ireland. What an awesome day to celebrate!

God Bless,
Jackie

Friday, March 18, 2011

How Josiah Tames His Tongue

I shot this quick video of Josiah at the end of supper time. He was playing with his skewers and told me he was "taming his tongue". I thought it was so cute that I had to share.

This is one of my favorite verses and one I should read more often.

James 3: 3-11
"When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example, Although they are so large and driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water."

Have a great weekend, everyone!

God Bless,
Jackie

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

And the Homemade Non-Abrasive Cleaner Winner Is...

My lovely assistant let me use her pink cowgirl hat to put all the names from my giveaway drawing in to it. We shook, we swirled, we tossed, and then Hailey drew a winner! And the winner is my sweet blogging friend and fellow military wife, Leslie, from Our Family Tales! Leslie, I hope you get the most out of your homemade non-abrasive cleaner. I use it in place of "Comet" and it works very well. It is super easy to make and very inexpensive.

Thank you to everyone who participated by leaving a comment. I enjoyed reading what you ladies like to clean and what you hate to clean. Some of the comments made me LOL. I think I might do this again sometime :)

Happy Cleaning,
Jackie

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Imaginings

Lil' Miss Thing in all her Rodeo princess gear for homeschool show and tell time at the library. She loves the little carts they have where she can walk around and "shop" for her books. 
Here they are together. Josiah was engrossed in a book. I didn't realize until now just how silly he looks in his cowboy boots with tucked in camo pants. Thank goodness we're homeschoolers and staying current with the fashion isn't a problem, LOL. That is certainly and advantage.
We've been reading "On the Banks for Plum Creek" and Josiah decided to make a clothesline out of dental floss (since we didn't have any string) so he could hang up his wet clothes (in his room) after swim lessons. He was so proud of himself. Love the way his mind works (most of the time, LOL).
I was working on the computer when Josiah came up to me looking like a pirate with a peg leg. He had used a roll from some parchment paper. I thought it was very clever. So now we are going around singing the "Peg Leg Song". If you haven't seen it yet, click on the link below. You're kids will love it! Of course, I'm a little prejudice since it is a red-headed pirate ;) 
Just had to throw in this one last picture of Hailey brushing my dad's very long mustache. She just loves her papa and likes playing with his "stache".  He's very patient with her. We had a great visit with he and my step-mom a couple of weekends ago.

This weekend was wonderful, too. Got 17 scrapbook pages done at a MOPS fundraiser event and hand time to start to prepare the garden. Getting excited! We learned so much last year, can't wait to try some different things this year. We're going to go with raised beds and maybe even a drip system. Cost will determine what we do.

Don't forget to scroll down a couple of posts and enter my giveaway if you haven't yet. I'm drawing on Monday.

Blessings,
Jackie

Friday, March 11, 2011

Homemade Cleaning Products: Safer, Healthier and Less Expensive


My sis took this silly picture of me a few years ago, cleaning her kitchen with a homemade cleaner. I'm a homemade cleaner freak now. My poor friends. I've even been known to give cleaning products away as baby shower gifts. I know I've gone over the edge! I love the fact that homemade cleaning products are safer, healthier, less expensive and better for the environment. 

Ever since reading a book called “Clean House, Clean Planet: Clean Your House for Pennies a Day, The Safe Nontoxic Way” by Karen Logan, I started getting more interested in the subject. What really pushed me over the edge was going to a homemade cleaners class put on by my new FB friend, Mary. I was able to see how easy it really was to make your own laundry soap, dishwasher soap, multi-purpose cleaner, "Comet" and window cleaner. Those are the only cleaners I use now. I literally went through all my cupboards and got rid of everything that wasn't homemade. It is nice to have more cupboard space and not have to worry about the kids getting into toxic cleaners.

Why are Homemade Cleaning Products Safer and Healthier?


Skin is a like a sponge. Even chemicals breathed in can be rapidly absorbed into you bloodstream.
Non-toxic
Healthier for our environment (re-using the containers, non-toxic)
Many store-bought cleaning products can be fatal to children when ingested, or extremely irritation to the skin.
Safer for the environment


The Bad Guys

Bleach *Naphthalene *Butyl
cellosolve   *Hydrofluoric acid
Cresol *Petroleum distillates
Dye *Phosphoric acid
Alcohol *Formaldehyde *Ammonia
Hydrochloric Acid *Phenol *PDCBs
Ethanol *Propellents *Lye
Sulfuric acid *TCE *Glycols


The Good Guys

Baking Soda *Washing Soda
Borax *Salt
Castile and Vegetable Oil or Animal Oil (tallow, lard)
Cornstarch
Essential Oils
Lemon or lime juice *Citric Acid
White Distilled Vinegar *Distilled Water


Are Homemade Cleaners Less Expensive?

They’re WAY less expensive!
Very easy to make
Homemade laundry soap costs less than $3.00 for 10 gallons
Multi-purpose cleaner costs about 25 cents for 16 oz
Dishwasher Soap 12 cents per load 

If I've piqued your interest, please click here for easy and cheap homemade cleaning product recipes. Don't forget to enter my home cleaner giveaway (post before this one). It ends on the 16th of March.

Happy Cleaning!
Jackie

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Homemade Non-Abrasive Cleaner Giveaway

I just did a presentation for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) on how to make your own homemade cleaning products. Click here for all the homemade cleaning product recipes I use. I've been thinking of a good cleaning product that I could mail easily in a giveaway and I decided on the homemade version of "Comet" without all the harsh chemical smells. The two items pictured above are the only ingredients in the non-abrasive cleaner. I love this stuff! So if you are as excited as I am about trying all natural cleaning supplies that are super easy to make and twice as cheap, then enter my giveaway.

To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment telling me what part of your house you hate to clean the most AND what your favorite part is to clean. I look forward to some interesting comments. 

OK, so I'll go first. What I hate cleaning the most is the showers. The thing I like the most is my kitchen counters. 

If you're following me on Facebook, you can enter, too. Same rules apply. 

My kidlets will be picking a winner out of the hat next Wednesday, March 16th, so bring on the comments and lets have some fun!

God Bless,
Jackie

Monday, March 7, 2011

Jackie's Asian Dipping Sauce

Jackie's Asian Dipping Sauce:

Mix together:

2 TBL Bragg's Liquid Aminos or 4 Tbl soy sauce
2 Tbl Peanut butter (I like chunky) or any other nut butter would work.
2 Tbl honey
1 Tbl vinegar (white wine or apple cider vinegar)
2 garlic cloves, pressed or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp sesame oil
1/8 tsp black pepper (or to taste) 

This sauce goes great with Thai rolls. It is kind of like a hoisin sauce, only I don't like it spicy and mine is a little sweeter than a traditional hoisin. Click here for the recipe on my sister's blog. 

This sauce also freezes well, so quadruple the recipe and freeze in increments you would use. 

Warning, you'll have a hard time not eating more than your fair share of Thai rolls just because the sauce tastes so stinkin' good!

God Bless,
Jackie

Friday, March 4, 2011

My Basic Healthy Eating Pantry List

I get asked what my basic pantry list looks like, so I finally took the time to write it down. This isn't everything, but it does give you the basics.


Some of my staples are:

Whole wheat bread flour (I actually prefer the bread flour at Nature's Pantry)
Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
Sucanat
Whole grain cornmeal
Raw Honey (I prefer Clover)
Celtic Sea Salt (fine)
Various whole wheat pastas
Various Beans
Brown Jasmine rice
Coconut oil
Bragg's organic, first cold pressed olive oil
Bragg's apple cider vinegar
organic white wine vinegar (Napa Valley)
Madagascar vanilla
Various raw nuts
All natural peanut butter
arrowroot powder (instead of cornstarch)
aluminum-free baking powder
Arm and Hammer baking soda (can get a big box at Walmart in the laundry section for way cheaper.)
red or yukon gold potatoes rather than russets
canned organic tomato sauce
canned organic tomato paste
various spices

Hope that helps get you started. You can make a lot of meals with just these items. Let me know if you have anymore questions. 



Blessings,
Jackie

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What Makes My Kids Tick

The longer I parent these two red-headed kidlets, the more I enjoy seeing what makes each of them tick. Does this pictures say it all about my son? (Notice, there are no arrows in his hand.) We've been reading Little House on the Prairie and Josiah longs to be an Indian and gets irritated that God didn't make him one, LOL. This series has generated a lot of great discussion and I find myself referring back to it often. I'm finding that Josiah loves science like his mama, but thinks very practically like his dad, which makes him very mechanically inclined (unlike me). Unfortunately his lack of self control and impulsiveness often get him into trouble in this area. We are working hard to train him, but it can be frustrating at times. I'm seeing growth, so that is encouraging. 
Josiah created a military radio. He's got his hand on the lever and an antenna sticking out (old cigar case). He's ready for any radioactive explosions, hence the mask, and calling in an tank destroyer to smash the enemy ;)

Josiah is now reading like crazy, which is super awesome! He is wanting to write a lot of things on his own now, too. I love the way it just naturally occurred without me pushing him hard in this area, even though I really wanted to at times, I stuck with the "better late than early" principle. I can't believe how much easier homeschooling is now that he is reading the instructions on his own. Yeah!

Hailey baby is more like Laura in Little House on the Prairie. She has a wild, care-free spirit, but likes to be a lady, too. I can tell she's going to be an adrenalin junkie, because she says "Whee" and "faster, faster" whenever we get on a merge lane to a freeway, LOL. She's pretty amiable and easy to train so far. When she gets mad though, watch out! She likes to make a big mess in her room on purpose when she's mad, so we solved that problem by sending her to the corner. Much more boring there and nothing to destroy. She's a snuggle bug and one tough cookie. She takes after her Aunt Stacie in the art department. She loves to help and wants to do it "by meself". I continue to be amazed at the difference between raising boys and girls. With all their differences, I'm blown away by how well they get along (generally speaking).

She loves to drink tea with her breakfast. I have a pretty cup for each of the kids that I got at yard sales for dirt cheap so I'm not stressed out if they break it or not. They love having a pretty cup to drink out of. How about that red-head bed-head?
Coloring is Hailey's love language. Just like Josiah, I'm really not into this and it is all I can do to color a picture with her. I try to do it at least a couple of times a week though. Whenever my friend Girlie comes over, she likes to color with Hailey. Thanks, Girlie! Girlie takes coloring to a whole new level, shading, etc. Wow! 


I just had to throw in one last picture of my red-headed Indian with his "wild varmit" hooked to his "scalp lock". Now he wants a mohawk in the worst way. I told him he'll have to wait till he's out of the house for that one, LOL. He and Hailey love to paint themselves up with "war paint" with some cheap make-up I bought at a yard sale.. He drew a heart over his heart to show how strong he is. I just love what they come up with!

Homeschooling has been such a blessing for us. I enjoy getting to watch my kids get creative, role-playing the things they watch or read. It is just awesome! No, my house isn't pristine, but we sure know how to have fun. These years are going by so fast. I just want to enjoy them to the fullest.

Blessings To You,
Jackie

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