New favorite "Fifteen Minutes to the Table" recipe ! ! !
We tried a new recipe for dinner tonight, that we learned about in our weekly newsletter that came with our farm produce box from a farm in our community. I just love being a part of a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) farm...and being able to pick up weekly fresh produce for our meals at home!
It seriously took 15 minutes to make this, and it was filling enough that this was all that we needed for dinner. The clean-up was super simple, too, which is always a bonus.
Shrimp and Zucchini Tostadas (serves 4)
(When we make this recipe again, we'll also add a tiny bit of fresh cilantro and some avocado, plus some onion or green onion or scallions, chopped finely.)
Before you begin, preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
On two large ungreased baking sheets, place tortillas. Using oil of your choice, brush each tortilla lightly. Sprinkle tortillas with cheese. Bake in oven until the cheese has melted and the tortillas are crispy and very slightly golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet on medium high heat, sauté 1 Tbsp. oil, garlic, and zucchini. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until zucchini is crisp-tender, 2-4 minutes. Add shrimp and cook, stirring often, until the shrimp are opaque throughout, about 3 minutes. Add lime juice. Place shrimp mixture over tortillas. Add sour cream and scallions, onion, or green onions.
How often do you cook with seafood?
Our family is transitioning from plastic storage containers which are 15-20 years old...to glassware...and also these Rubbermaid Premier Storage containers.
Fifteen years ago, my husband and I got married, combining two households. He had a TON of Tupperware plastic storage containers. I had a lot of Tupperware and older Rubbermaid plastic containers and storage, too, because I also liked those companies' plastic products.
And, one of our mutual friends was a dealer for Tupperware, so we were set for life with plastics! (So we thought.)
However, now that most of our plasticware and storage containers are over 20 years old, we've become concerned with some of the chemicals that were placed in those containers back then.
We've slowly been transitioning from old plasticware, to glassware for healthier, safer storage in our home, especially with foods.
Here is our storage container drawer before with the 20-year-old plastics...
...and here is our storage container drawer now.
While we are phasing out from using plastic storage containers for many items, I feel comfortable using the Rubbermaid Premier Storage containers, because they contain no BPA...and they aren't 20 years old!
I love the way these containers don't stain, even with spaghetti sauce. They look like glass instead of normal plastic. The lids seal tightly, and not only do the containers nest well, their lids also nest well.
Have you had the opportunity to try the Rubbermaid Premier Storage Containers yet or viewed them in the stores? What did you think about them?
Rubbermaid and SheSpeaks provided me with a 12-piece set of Rubbermaid Premier Storage Containers in exchange for my honest review of this product. No other compensation was provided.
Do you dread packing up the car and heading out with the kids for a long trip?
Would you rather never visit a doctor's office with your children again, due to the long wait and impatient children?
I've just been reading through an eBook sold by The Old Schoolhouse Store, called Travel Kits: A Simple Way to Bless Others.
The author, Donna Rees, realized years ago when her own children were young, that trips, waiting times at doctors' offices, and many other “waiting” periods of time could go so much smoother if her children had a few surprises during the day to encourage them and keep their attention.
It was so successful with her own children that she began providing similar “kits” or “Travel Kits” to other families who were planning trips or vacations. That's how Travel Kits began: Mrs. Rees gathered her years of experience in being a blessing to others and has written it all down for us to enjoy.
Also, I would encourage families to be careful to avoid toys, gifts, and snacks that would melt or be unsafe in a hot car during the summer: crayons, chocolate, very inexpensive plastic water bottles, etc.
I personally haven't made a Travel Kit for our children this summer, because we haven't gone on any trips where it was required. However, I'm full of ideas now that I've read Travel Kits! If only the long trips would be a part of our summer! We do love to travel as a family. After my children skimmed through the Travel Kits eBook, they were asking to go on a long trip somewhere...anywhere...as long as they get a travel kit for themselves!
Designing a travel kit for a child can take as little or as long as you have to spend on being creative with this kind of project.
Travel Kits is useful for children and adults of all ages. Plenty of suggestions for adults are also included, so that was fun to read about.
I received one electronic copy of Travel Kits from The Old Schoolhouse Store in exchange for writing an unbiased review. No other compensation was provided.
So, today was the appointment. I had a benign tumor removed from a salivary gland on the roof of my mouth back in 1993. It is hard to believe that this was 17 years ago!
Since that time, the ENT who performed the surgery and took care of all follow-up visits retired. I'm thankful that after a year or two of full retirement, he decided to come back and work one or two days a week.
It was good to know that, in his opinion, nothing has changed with the roof of my mouth.
He also told me that over the years since my initial surgery and skin graft, research has shown that the type of tumor I had has just about a zero chance of coming back ever again. Good news!
But while I was there visiting with him, I asked him about my apparent reduced hearing. I'm just not hearing as well as I should be for my age, especially since I don't generally participate in the types of behaviors that cause a loss of hearing.
While very intently watching movies on television, I'm the one who needs to have the volume turned up. Even with that, sometimes I still can't discern what some of the phrases or singing is.
If there is any background noise at all, like a quiet fan or any water running in a faucet, etc., I just can't hear someone speak to me unless he or she comes right into the room with me and speaks very directly to me.
So, now I have an appointment with an audiologist in a couple of weeks. Maybe I'll get some answers after participating in a couple of hearing tests there. Then, it will be back to my otorhinolaryngologist, to find out if there is anything that can be done to help with my hearing...or lack thereof.
I was at complete peace about my appointment this morning. I was also at complete peace with God about the tumor when it was removed in 1993. Sometime, I'll have to write a blog posting explaining that whole process. It is an interesting story.
But for now, I'll just be thankful that I have little to no chance of that tumor reappearing in my mouth. That's a good thing!
It's very hot in your kitchen.
It's really hot and humid outside.
You only have 10 minutes to make a refreshing dessert...but have time to freeze it if needed...
...and you're suddenly expecting company!
It's easy to put food on the grill, to keep from heating up the kitchen with a hot oven or range, but what about dessert?
For those of you who are food purists, or real food connoisseurs, this recipe is NOT for you. This contains 5 or 6 ingredients, depending on whether or not you make your own graham cracker crust. None of these ingredients are "healthy" or "whole foods," except for the filtered water. Sigh.
I was preparing dinner recently for some friends who would be coming over to spend some time with us, and it was really hot outside. We do have air conditioning, but during the hot days of summer, we really try not to overuse it.
I had a hankering for a frozen lemony type of pie, but I couldn't find a recipe for it. Someone, somewhere, at some time, had made a frozen lemon pie that was supposed to be very simple to make, yet very good. I decided to make a triple batch so that I could freeze the extra two pies and have them on hand for additional guests we'd have visiting us during the hot days of summer. This was very handy, because we had unexpected out-of-town company a few days later, on a hot evening, and I had something appropriate to share with them!
World's Easiest Lemonade Ice Cream Pie
Stir the lemonade mix with the water in a large bowl until dissolved. Add softened vanilla ice cream and stir until smooth. It should have the consistency of Cool Whip or whipped cream. Stir in the Cool Whip until combined. Pour into pie shell and freeze at least four hours.
I would like to try to redo this recipe so that it is much more healthful. It's easy to decide to use 1 cup whipping cream and whip it stiffly to add to the pie, as well as making my own graham cracker crust with graham crackers and real butter, but I may have to work a bit in experimenting to get the lemon flavor consistent with organic evaporated cane juice crystals and organic lemon juice.
Maybe that will go on the list of "things to do after my children graduate from high school!"
What kinds of "unhealthy" summer dessert recipes have you redone to make them much more of a "whole food", "real food" healthier dessert?
When my girls were toddlers, I arranged weekly playdates with different friends of mine, so my girls could begin to develop social awareness and relationships with people other than our immediate family.
When all of the children were quite young, it didn't really matter what types of toys we had here at our home. All of the children seemed to like all of the age-appropriate toys.
Fast forwarding a couple of years, it became apparent when my oldest was around 4 that we needed to have toys for both girls and boys in our home.
Having only girls, we could have just asked other families to bring their own sons' favorite toys with them. However, since we don't have any sons, we decided to buy a few select toys for boys.
Now that my girls are 10 and 12, we still buy toys for boys...not a lot of them, because we're not huge toy buyers, anyway, but we do make certain to have boy costumes and things like daggers, swords, shields, face masks, and the like.
Add to that some nerf guns, squirt guns, and other "boyish" odds and ends, and usually the boys who come over to our home are pretty happy to be here.
On many occasions, I've had mothers say to me: "My son and I thought he would be quite bored at your home, since you only have girls. We were wrong!"
Oh, if only it was this easy to entertain youth clear through their adult years. But that would be very wishful thinking!
At least we have made it easier on the boys at their younger stages of life.
If you have only boys in your home, consider keeping a few age-appropriate toys for girls to enjoy when they come over. Of course, if the girls are anything like mine, they enjoy playing with the boys' toys just as much as with the girls' toys!
We've officially had our two darling kittens, Blossom and Starlet, for one week now.
They are just melting our hearts! We ALL have fallen in love with them. I keep reminding myself that they won't be kittens for very long, but I am enjoying every moment with these sweet babies.
On Friday, we took them in to the vet for their first set of shots, ear mite cleaning, worming medicine, and getting their front claws trimmed. They did pretty well, except for the claw trimming. I should have had the vet wait until they were a bit older. Oh, well.
They are completely litter box trained, to the max. I am so impressed with Blossom and Starlet!
The only problem we are having with the kittens is that our 11-year-old cat, Samantha, hates them so far.
We were hoping that she would begin to like them by now. We were really wrong! But we can always continue praying that eventually, Samantha will be more open toward Blossom and Starlet.
Even though we didn't want Samantha to be stressed out about the kittens, especially since she is ill with an undiagnosed illness (she's lost half of her body weight in the last year), there has been one good thing from all of the cat/kittens' lack of positive communication with each other: Samantha is gaining weight!
And how, you may ask?
Well, she discovered the kitten chow in their bowls in the hall bathroom a few days ago. At first, I discouraged her from eating any of it, mainly because it is more expensive and because it would be a sudden diet change for Samantha.
But, when I thought about how she is very skinny already (she used to be one of the fattest cats on the block), we decided that it surely couldn't hurt her to eat kitten chow, especially since she has a compromised immune system.
Yesterday, I picked up Samantha, and I realized that she is actually gaining some weight! Hooray for kitten chow!!!
I do pray that some day, Samantha will accept the babies as much as we have, or that they'll at least be "frenemies", but I can only hope.
For now, I am hopelessly in love with these sweet baby kittens...and finding myself very distracted, not being able to get as much done around the house as I watch their playful antics.
It reminds me of when I used to sit and lovingly watch my own babies grow and develop and play.
Is being a grandmother going to be a lot like this? I hope so!
I've always been fascinated with the lives of those in authority as heads of state, presidents, kings and queens, etc.
As a child, I read numerous historical fiction books about our United States presidents and the lives that they and their families led.
I've never read books or watched movies about any European or Asian heads of state, though. I'm really enjoying that now, as an adult, as I take my children through history chronologically. There is so much that they know and understand already, that I knew very little about even as a college graduate! It's a shame that European history is left out of many public school educations.
My mom has been reading a book written by Mrs. Laura Bush, wife of George W. Bush. My mom, Julie, has chatted with me numerous times in the last couple of months about how much she has enjoyed reading Spoken From the Heart. While she will often share with me her opinion of a book that she is reading, it is not often that she will read the book a second time in a row, and still have more to discuss with me!
I'm looking forward to reading Spoken From the Heart, soon...as soon as I finish reading another book for the book club that I attend.
I thought it would be fun to share with you the insights and thoughts my mom has had about Spoken From the Heart. Here they are:
"I have read this book twice in a short amount of time. The first time through, I was so fascinated with seeing into the private life of a very public figure, that I did a bit of “skimming” because I was so anxious to see what was happening next!
The second time through, it has been a much more thoughtful study, and one that has endeared this public figure and her husband to me in a very special way.
Mrs. Bush (I’m sure she would have us all call her Laura) is a wonderful writer and even though this is a chronological narrative of her entire life, it is not at all “boring” or tedious. With all that we “know” from media sources, this writing gives a tremendous insight into what she is really like as a person: a very smart, intense, emotional, independent, intelligent, extremely well-read, likable person, one I would be proud to call my friend. And that is pretty much what she becomes as one reads all that she has written.
This is not to say that I agree with all her philosophies and way of life, but it has definitely been a way to open my eyes and see another side of things.
Laura was born in 1946, just after WW II was finished, in a tiny community in West Texas to people who were hard-working, proud Americans. As an only child, she was blessed to have parents and grandparents who dearly loved and cherished her and gave her many opportunities to become the very lovely woman she has become.
Her life with George Bush did not begin until they were both in their thirties, and it is easy to see how they became such “soul mates” in their marriage, and in the raising of their twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna.
This book is important, I believe, because Laura is obviously so honest in her perspective of the things going on around her and her awareness of the lives of other people; she is very surprised by the fact that she ended up becoming the wife of a Governor and then of a President of the United States, and of being so much a part of the history of our country during a greatly impactful period for the American population.
She has chronicled the many events that changed their lives dramatically and brought to life the things that REALLY go on behind the scenes. All this to say, there is much, much more than meets the eye than what one sees on television or in printed news about people who are in high places.
It is a pleasure to recommend this book; I believe it is important for people from every walk of life, every political belief, to read and understand that there is so little we actually know about the folks who are making the headlines in our newspapers, and decisions that often affect our lives. Mrs. Bush gives the “rest of the story” to some of the things stated as fact by the media.
Whatever your opinions, if you read this book with a truly open mind, you will have a much broader insight into the extremely hard decisions our leaders must make, and the emotional impact of those decisions in their lives. This was an excellent read and I will always treasure it. Thank you, Laura Bush; you have surely enriched my life!"
...and THANK YOU, Mom! You have definitely enriched my life! Love you...
We were so excited to go pick up our first local farm's produce share box today! Hooray for local farmers!!!
We discovered two different CSA farms in our area three years ago. If you aren't familiar with a CSA, it stands for "Community Supported Agriculture".
Basically, it's a local farm worked by a farmer (and usually his family, with maybe some additional friends and workers), and the farmer allows families and individuals to subscribe to weekly produce box pick-ups.
I don't remember exactly how much we paid for our subscription this summer, but I think it will be about $22 per box. We've chosen to buy the "small share" box size. We love veggies of all sorts, but our refrigerator is smaller by American standards and just doesn't do well with storing an abundance of extra items.
The closest CSA to our home is about 12 miles away, and today was the first day to begin picking up our produce boxes.
When I was a little girl, around 10 years of age, we moved to this county and began picking beans, tomatoes, and some fruits at this same farm way back then.
So it was exciting, three years ago, to begin supporting great local farming practices in a tangible way by becoming members of a local CSA.
Our CSA provides us with email updates each week with a list of produce that we will find in our box the following week, so we can prepare our shopping lists for any additional ingredients we might wish to have on hand.
Our local CSA also hands us a printed recipe guide and produce information when we go to pick up our box each week. This has been SO handy! We've been able to try some new and wonderful recipes each week for the last three summers. Yum!
It is my understanding, from what I read when our local CSA began operating their farm in this way, that it is not a certified organic farm, but they are very close to that in the manner that they operate. They use the most minimal amounts of pest-controlling resources as they can, on the fewest crops possible.
In our produce box today, we received a humongous head of lettuce that literally was about 20" across! Plus, broccoli, cauliflower, beets and beet greens, zucchini, summer squash, fresh basil and dill herbs, and a delicious small box of fresh raspberries.
Here is a recipe I used tonight to go along with our pork chops and mashed potatoes:
Sauteed Beet Greens
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, stem the greens. Rinse the greens twice to remove any dirt. When the water comes to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the greens. Blanch greens for 2 minutes, until tender. Transfer immediately to a bowl of ice water. Drain and squeeze the water out from its leaves. Chop coarsely.
2. Heat your choice of oil over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet. Add the garlic and hot red pepper flakes (if desired) and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Add the greens. Stir for 2-3 minutes, until the greens are well seasoned with garlic and oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, remove from the heat, and serve.
Yield: Serves 2 to 4
We hadn't had any greens for at least 10 months, but the girls were hopeful that it would "taste good." At least they were optimistic! Always a good thing. And it was good! We enjoyed the garlicky taste of the beet greens...and I was thankful that I had blanched them first before sauteing, although that took a little bit longer than I had thought.
We're looking forward to our next week's produce box...with or without greens.
What has your experience been with local farmers? CSA programs? Other community-experienced farming? Please share what has worked for you and your family!
Meet Blossom and Starlet, our new kitties!
As you can imagine, my two daughters are already head-over-heels in love with their 9-week-old baby kittens we just picked up from friends on Tuesday evening.
They have asked for kittens for years and years, and I've always said "no." Not because I don't like kittens...but because we have an eleven-year-old cat who doesn't really want any competition.
Recently, though, we learned from our veterinarian that our middle-aged cat, Samantha, has some kind of untreatable disease.
Samantha has never liked very young children, or children with little self-control. She has never liked crowds of people, so when we invite more than 5 people over at one time, she disappears (usually outside).
She has also never liked going to the veterinarian. In fact, she hates it SO much that she has the "angry pet" sticker on her chart. Even I cannot calm her down or help remove her from the cat carrier. She would scratch my eyes out!
Our sweet Samantha used to weigh over 12 lbs. However, in the last year or so, she has lost half of her body weight. We decided last month not to do blood testing on her in order to figure out what is wrong, because the veterinarian told us it was most likely one of three untreatable problems: FIV, Feline Leukemia, or Diabetes. We are suspecting diabetes, because she does drink a lot more water than she used to do.
I'm just thankful that she finally allows me to trim her claws and put flea medicine on her once a month. But that was after many months of working with her.
Our plan was to wait and get two kittens (hopefully, siblings) after our beloved Samantha passed on.
However, sometimes the best laid plans come to a screeching halt!
Last week, I learned that some friends of ours had a litter of kitties that needed to find new homes. Their mama had disappeared after an injury to the head; fortunately, the kittens were already weaned.
The kittens had been loved and played with a lot by the children in the family. Since the children are from ages 2-17, we knew that this was a good thing!
It is fairly easy to find kittens to adopt, but after experiencing having one cat who didn't have a good personality, a number of years ago, I decided a long time ago that it wasn't so much the colors or markings that would help me choose a new kitten or cat; it would be the personality of the cat and how it had been raised and tamed down.
So, we bought some kitty chow and a few other things to help us transition two kitties into our home.
We brought the adorable little kitties home with us on Tuesday night. They were a bit scared and a tad bit nervous, but they were also very curious and cuddly.
Samantha, the older cat, isn't too pleased about them being inside our home, but she was doing better by Wednesday evening. (I think after she discovered the kitty chow, she relaxed a bit. Of course, we quickly closed the bathroom door so she can't eat it!)
The joy and excitement on my daughters' faces when they watch the kitten antics in the living room is priceless. It brings me back to my childhood, when I had a new kitten a couple of times, and how thrilled I was to be able to take care of a new cat or kitten.
The girls have been extremely responsible with their guinea pigs over the last two months. I am so pleased with this. I know they will take wonderful care of their little kitties, too!
We're praying as a family that our sweet Samantha will realize that we can easily love her as well as two additional kitties...all at the same time.
But we are already well on our way to totally loving these new kitties as much as we love and enjoy our Samantha cat.
Thank you, Lord, for such simple pleasures of family pets and the memories which are created with them.
Hi! I'm Julieanne!