Friday, December 28, 2012

Portuguese Soup

Christmas time and holiday's get so hectic.  This year I said I'm making a double batch of soup for Christmas Day and we can eat it for days.  Or if you have family around for the Holiday's and you guys have had your big meal and need something else to feed them this one works great.  I chopped up the veges the day before and then stuck them all together the day of and just let it cook.  It's a great way to feed a lot of people fill them up and enjoy your guests.  I had a request to share this recipe.

It's called Portuguese Soup.  Now I'm not sure if this is a traditional Portuguese food but it is a tradition for our family.  I remember the first Christmas my mom made this recipe my sisters and I looked at it and said "no way" we weren't going to eat it.  We tried it and loved it and ever since then it was a Christmas soup tradition.  We ate it every year.  The colors are also very festive.

This picture was taken before it was quite finished cooking the cabbage gets so nice and soft and the flavors just come together so nicely.  I didn't add the onion because I have some family members who can't eat them so I added some onion powder and it still turned out great.

Portuguese Soup

6 cups                           Chicken Broth
1 lb                               Smoked Sausage (sliced)
1 lb                               Potatoes (about 3-4 average sized potatoes, chopped)
1 15.5 oz can                Kidney Beans Drained
1 14.5 oz can                Diced tomato's not drained
1/2 of a head                Green cabbage chopped
1 medium                     Onion chopped
1 large                          Carrot chopped
1/2                                Green pepper chopped
3                                   Cloves minced garlic

Put all the ingredients together in a large pot.  Bring to a boil, while stirring reduce heat, and then simmer for 2 hours.

This is a delicious meal to share with friends and family for the holidays or for the after holidays when you've done a lot of cooking and just don't want to do a lot more.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top 5 Easy, Fun, Delicious, Holiday Treats

Holiday's are here and time is running out.  We've gotta make something nice for the holidays to share with friends and family. I still want to have that tradition of making something nice to eat yet with less time involved and that the kids can help me with. I like the fact that we get to build family memories through baking.  My dilemma this year, I need: Fast, Easy, Fun, and Delicious Holiday Treats.  I let everyone in our family pick their favorites and I made them yummy, easy, and delicious.

1.)  Easy Chocolate Fudge I usually don't make fudge for the holidays but this year I decided to go ahead and take the plunge.  My husbands pick was plain chocolate fudge.  See the plain guy there in the middle that's for my hubby.  This fudge was super fast and super easy.  My 6 year old helped me make it.  So you can involve your kids too.  I thought it would also be fun to add different toppings to my fudge.  The red and green M&M's give a festive look and the peanut butter chips added a nice surprise and extra flavor element without the work.  Check out Very Best Baking for the Recipe.  I excluded the nuts we're not big on nuts or I'm not I guess.  This fudge is very moist and with 3 main ingredients, you can't beat that.

2.) Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge.  Okay, I know what you're thinking, "More Fudge!!" It takes more effort then the chocolate fudge but it is well worth it.  This was my pick, of course it had to be the most difficult one of them all, but not bad.  If you love cookie dough then this is the fudge for you.  It's a cookie dough part with a fudge part and then Wa LA.....Chocolate chip cookie dough fudge.  I found this recipe on Mel's Kitchen, Excellent!!  I didn't have mini chips or semi sweet left after making a double batch of the Easy Chocolate Fudge so I crush up some regular sized milk chocolate chips and it worked well.
3.) Sugar Cookie Gingerbread Men.  When this was one of my daughters suggestions I filled with dread thinking of all the work ahead of me.  But alas a solution came to me...
  • Buy some sugar cookie dough in a round log; I bought the super sized roll it worked great for the next steps
  • Cut the rounds and give you a slice and your child a slice on a floured surface
  • Press the round down with your hands and flatten with wax paper
  • Take your gingerbread man cookie cutter and press
  • Take a spatula and add them to your pan and bake as your dough instructs
  • EASY EASY EASY, FUN FUN FUN I especially loved my daughter going cross eyed at the flour on her nose, "I can see it, I can see it."
Our Men got a little fat when they baked but we really enjoy decorating our chubby cute men.  Once again I bought frosting and anything else you would like to make your men with.

PS: Let your kids make a mess you can always clean it up later.

4.) Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies!! This isn't your average Peanut butter cookie, it is, once again 3 ingredients for the dough.
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1cup Peanut Butter
  • 1 egg
Mix ingredients together then roll them into balls (if they are too sticky and hard to handle just add more sugar, can't hurt :) and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  Don't over bake you can't see when the bottom burns.  It also works great as a double batch.  Who doesn't like peanut butter and chocolate?
  • Kisses
When the cookies come directly out of the oven, press your already unwrapped kiss straight down in the center.  They won't fall and melt but the kisses get very soft so careful not to touch them when you take them off the pan.  Unwrapping the kisses is a great job for little ones.  Be prepared for them to eat a few.
5.)  One more daughter and one more pick...Muddy Buddies...
   This one is so quick and easy I'm saving it for a Christmas Day make.  So you will have to imagine that those Chex cereal pieces have chocolatey sugary goodness all over them.  There are also many many other great goodies you can make with Chex cereal.  The recipe's can be found on the back/side of your box but just in case you buy the non name brand cereal the recipe can be found here at Chex online.  It takes about 30 minutes to make and it is a crowd pleaser if you've never tried it you better get going.  Chex cereal with melted chocolate/peanut butter mixture and all shuck up with powdered sugar, you're missing out.  I sometimes forget about making these but the kids don't, they love them and they are so easy that I don't mind making a batch or even two.

Happy Baking and Happy Holidays!!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sticking with the Kids Routine

My husband has a job where he has to work shifts.  Your husband may not work shifts but most jobs now aren't your typical 8-5 Monday through Friday Jobs and even if they are you can expect that your spouse will be working different hours unexpectedly form time to time.  So this is the husband is home for the day and my whole life changes.  Our life changes according to his schedule and when this happens I don't get chores done and the kids don't get naps and fed when they need to be and when it keeps changing our life keeps getting more and more crazy.  I can be flexible! I.e. miss a nap one day or have dinner late one day. But when it happens regularly then the irregular becomes regular and this really doesn't work for young kids. They need a schedule and a routine.  It helps kids feel safe a secure.  It also helps them to get enough rest and healthy food so they can grow in body and mind.  Not to mention sanity for mom and child alike.  No one likes a the grouch monster.

I finally realized that my husband didn't realize I had a schedule so to him putting the kids down for a nap an hour after lunch wasn't disruptive....Operation Schedule, was on!!

1.) Write out a tangible Daily schedule. i.e....
  • 8:00 Breakfast, Get dressed and ready for day, exercise
  • 10:00 School Time (We did worksheets, crafts, play dough, or other activities during this time)
  • 11:00 Play Group/Story Time
  • 12:00 Lunch
  • 1:00  Quiet Time/Naps for Kids (Mom, Chores, Writing, phone calls, Rest)
  • 3:00  Homework/ Snacks (Older Kids coming Home)
  • 4:00 Kids Play, Mom Starts Dinner
  • 5:30 Dinner
  • 6:30 Family Time (Play a game, watch a show...)
  • 7:00 Bed Time Routine.....Baths/Jammies, pick up rooms, read books, brush teeth, Warm Fuzzy Jars, pick out clothes for tomorrow
  • 8:00 Go to Bed/Kids  Me finish Cleaning Kitchen and picking up
  • 9:00 Watch a show, check blog/email/facebook
This is just an example, write one out that works for you and your family.

2.) Have a Family Meeting (we do this every Sunday, check back for another post about this) and go over the schedule so that everyone in the family knows about the schedule, and they can add their impute too.  Make any necessary changes to the schedule.

3.) Make a Copy of the Schedule and put it somewhere that everyone can see it.  The picture below is a copy of the daily schedule I made. To make one like this you will need:
  • 2 12x12 card stock scrapbook papers
  • Scrap Cardstock or a couple more sheets of cardstock in a different color and cut them into rectangles for as many events as you have on your daily schedule....I used twelve smaller time rectangles and 12 longer event rectangles
  • Sharpies
  • Stickers/die cuts or whatever else you would like to decorate with
  • For Reusable one: Laminator/paper, Velcro

I Taped the two 12x12 papers together from the back.  Use the Sharpies to write the time and events on the rectangle size cardstock. (You will have to cut the rectangles out just cut them to fit on your paper.) Use a glue stick to place the time rectangles on the card stock and then match the event with the time and glue those next to the time.  If you want to reuse this you could laminate the cardstock and use Velcro for the events so that you could change them out as your life changes.  Decorate with stickers and anything else you like to your hearts desire. If you are laminating it and using Velcro I would decorate before you laminate.

4.) With all this technology now a days there are a lot of ways to write your schedule on your smart phone and sync it with your husbands.  We use icloud with apple and it works great. You just go into your calendar and add new calendars under icloud and hit share and choose your spouses email to share it with. (They have to be signed up for an icloud account too.)  There are a lot of programs out there that can do this though so check your phone for an app, or check your current calendar for a way to share it.

5.) If you work and have a Sitter, make sure your sitter knows what the kids need.  If your kiddos are at a daycare and they can't change the schedules for all of the kids, ask them what their schedule is like and try doing yours close to that one.

Solution: Now when dad's home things can run just about the same and there isn't the extended TV watching time or naps at 5:00 or chores that go undone.  It really has worked for us, I have to change the schedule sometimes with changes in out life to keep this working. The kids are much better behaved and I'm a lot less stressed when I stick with it. And when I had to be somewhere my hubby also stuck with the schedule much better because he agreed with it and because he knew what it was.  It's been nice coming home with kids already in bed or the house picked up etc. etc.

Don't forget to include your spouse.  My hubby started to feel a bit left out.  So we also did some days that felt like "Saturdays" and went out and did something fun as a family.  Or I started putting him in charge of some of the activities that we had planned or I even will write out a list of things that need to be done and let him pick something.  Spouses really do want to help sometimes they just don't know what to do to help so give them a little help without nagging. I'll have to post more suggestions on that.

What's your daily schedule like?  Does your Hubby come home and mess with the routine?  What was your best strategy?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I realize I'm a bit late on posting my plan for leftovers however I felt that it was very successful so I would like to share.  I had read a bunch of ideas for leftovers and I do think that I read this idea somewhere but can't remember where or even if I put a couple ideas together or what so here is what I did...
I wish I would have gotten a picture before we ate it but hey we were hungry. :)
This was really simple and easy...

1.) Ingredients:
                      - Thanksgiving or Christmas or any large meals leftovers
                      - Store bought pie crusts (Rolled up in the refrigerator section of the grocery store)
                          I bought the cheap generic brand and it was good
2.) Roll out the bottom crust in a pie pan
3.)Layer leftovers mine were:
            -Mashed potatoes
            -Sweet potatoes and Green bean casserole (I did one half of each because I only had enough
            of each to fill one side
            -More mashed potatoes and Gravy
4.)Roll out the top crust and crimp edges
5.) Bake for your pie crusts instructions  (really just to brown the crust and heat up the goodies)

We really enjoyed it!  I loved my daughters reaction..."Mom I'm Scared." I replied, "Me too, let's try it together." "Okay."  "Yum this is good!"  She had seconds and we had those left overs for lunch the next day.  Another suggestion would be to make it without the crust and just layer the leftovers in a casserole pan and heat through.  And of Course, Turkey is a great Meat that you can add to almost any recipe that you already make.  Enchiladas, Chili's, Chicken and Rice....etc. etc. Happy Left Overs!!!