Monthly Archives: September 2013

Menu Plan Monday September 30!

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Last week was just crazy. I am definitely not used to working out of the house every day of the week–even just mornings! We weren’t sick, but there were quite a few days when I didn’t cook. We ended up eating frozen leftovers and other leftovers and the fresh veggies I had cooked. So, a lot of this week’s menu is a repeat.

The theme for the GF Menu Swap over at Celiac Family is broccolini! I am interested to learn the difference between broccoli and broccolini. I don’t recall ever having used broccolini before. We do eat broccoli regularly though! My favorite is roasted broccoli and the last couple of weeks I’ve been fixing it that way for my snacks for the week. Of course it’s so good that it doesn’t last the whole week, but that’s another story!

My Triple Chocolate Avocado Milkshake from this week!

My Triple Chocolate Avocado Milkshake from this week!

Last week my favorite meal was the Potato Soup. I couldn’t believe how easy and tasty it was with cashew sour cream and almond milk. I will be making that again this winter! This week we’ll be working on using up the things we didn’t eat last week! The breakfast of the week is Paleo Pancakes and sausage. We are certainly going through the maple syrup! I don’t mind as long it means the end of the Breakfast Wars!

Sunday
Breakfast: Buckwheat granola with unsweetened vanilla almond milk and cinnamon toast
Lunch: Spaghetti sauce over butternut squash for me, and over noodles for everyone else, roasted broccoli and canned peas
Supper: Apple crisp (recipe coming up this week!), canned fish, pickles, roasted beets with balsamic vinegar and sea salt

Dinner from Sunday!

Dinner from Sunday!

Rest of the week:
Breakfasts:
Leftover Apple crisp
Paleo Pancakes and sausage
Yogurt/toast for the dairy eaters
Velvety Butternut Cinnamon Date Smoothie
cereal in a pinch

Lunch/Dinner:
Veggie Pot Pie over mashed sweet potatoes instead of the biscuits (chicken breast for the meat eaters!)
Shrimp Teriyaki Stir Fry
Tuna Apple Salad
Grilled Cheese
Breakfast for dinner (maybe eggs?)
Pizza, salad
Smoothie (I’m in love with this smoothie!), Popcorn
Leftovers!

For more menu ideas check out Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday! Or for gluten-free menus check out Celiac Family and the Gluten Free Menu Swap!

Taste Memories: Potato Soup

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DSCN3359Potato soup doesn’t sound all that inspiring. However, this soup reminds me of the story “Stone Soup.” Add some milk, celery, onions and it truly turns into a delectable meal!

This was my one of my mother’s go-to meals when we were growing up. I can remember looking forward to it–we occasionally had it with hot dogs or maybe just some fresh bread. There was something about the creamy goodness that just hit the spot during a particularly cold fall/winter day.

I’ve been craving it for a while, but was nervous about all the substitutions that I would have to make. Sometimes dairy free stuff doesn’t taste the way you remember the dairy equivalent tasting. I finally got up enough gumption to try it though. And you know what? It was better than the original! Creamier and smoother and I didn’t even have to worry about curdling the milk.

Potato Soup

adopted from: Amish Country Cookbook Volume I – Favorite recipes gathered by Das Dutchman Essenhaus

3 cups potatoes (I prefer them peeled, but it’s not completely necessary)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
2 Not Chicken Chicken Bullion cubes (can sub vegetable bullion if desired)
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk
1 cup cashew sour cream
1 T potato starch
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel and chop the potatoes into smallish chunks. Peel and chop the onion and celery. Add the potatoes, onion, celery, and bullion with the water into a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the vegetables are done. This could take as little as 15 minutes if the veggies are small enough, but up to 20-25 minutes.

Once the veggies are tender add 1 cup almond milk into the pot (do not drain or anything!). In a small bowl add the potato starch, almond milk, and cashew sour cream and stir until mixed. Once mixed add to the pot and mix with the vegetables. Heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste or wait until you dish up the individual servings. It is hard to eat potatoes without salt so you will probably want at least a little.

Serve in a large bowl (because that’s how much you will want to eat!) with a side of bread, salad, or even hot dogs if you desire!

Notes: Here is a recipe I use for cashew sour cream. I was a little panicked when I first made it because it seemed so liquid, but it does firm up in the fridge. You might want to make it ahead of time to keep your dinner prep simple and give it time to firm up a little.
The soup does have a little bit of that “cooked almond” smell, but I couldn’t taste anything but the yummy creaminess of the soup and the potatoes.

Homeschool Memories: The County Fair!

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Prizes I won the year I was in 10th grade.

Prizes I won the year I was in 10th grade.

In Lancaster County, PA the start of fall also meant the start of county fairs in surrounding counties. We usually attended two different ones. One in the Solanco County which was one of our favorites and then one in West Lampeter County where we lived in at the time.

Solanco County’s fair always started off with a big parade on Wednesday nights. It was a big deal for that small community. Parades were not the norm–there weren’t any on the 4th of July or anything like that so this once a year event was huge.

One of the most exciting parts of the fair(s) was the week before it started. Since I was homeschooled I could and usually did finish my coursework by lunchtime. The afternoons were spent in developing hobbies and I did all sorts of things like sewing, working on my postcard collection, embroidery, cross stitch, and more. The fairs always had displays of handiwork and food. You could enter your finished projects in different categories to be judged and possibly win prizes. After I entered my projects I waited with bated breath until the fair opened and I could see if I had won anything and see what others had entered.

Cork-a-zoo I created to enter in the fair one year

Cork-a-zoo I created to enter in the fair one year

Bird's eye view of the Cork-a-zoo!

Bird’s eye view of the Cork-a-zoo!

I usually did win a fair amount of ribbons and there was a mix of levels. Some were blue (the highest) followed by some red (second) and white (third). There was also honorable mention ribbons, but I don’t recall that I ever received one of those. At the end of the fair we always picked up our stuff and showed our ribbons to the cashier to receive our cash prizes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rest of the fair was fun too! There were animal displays and all the cows, pigs, goats, sheep, etc. all looked so pretty and clean for their competitions. There were tents where local businesses had booths set up. Usually (especially during election years!) there were quite a few of local and state government representatives. Everyone had a little something to hand out. Maybe some paper, pencils, a lollipop or something else advertising their name/business. I would get a little bag and we would visit everyone. By the time finished the tents I had almost enough pencils to last the school year! I also looked forward to the one display with baby ducklings. I look back and think it was a little cruel for the ducklings, but they were so cute. There was a slide that had a tray of food almost out of the duckling’s reach. If they went up the ramp and tried to get the food they would get a little food, but then slide down the slide to the water below and then start all over again.

The smells and the food were amazing. There was a daily meal which smelled terrific. There was the ice cream stand with the most delightful ice cream ever! I usually picked the strawberry flavor and my sister picked chocolate. There were funnel cakes and elephant ears, hot dogs, burgers, and the best French fries ever and probably even more horrible for you foods than I remember.

The fair lasted 3 days Wednesday-Friday and it usually took a couple of visits to see everything. After two different weeks of fairs we were tired of all the excitement and ready to start working on our projects for the next year.

Have you ever attended a county fair? What did you like best about it? Was it different from the ones I went to?

Menu Plan Monday September 23!

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Last week was a bit of a blur. We were sick some more, but we managed to get all our meals in more or less. Time for another busy week! I am super glad I menu plan because otherwise meal time would be beyond stressful.

The theme for the GF Menu Swap over at Celiac Family is butternut squash! I don’t have butternut squash on the menu this week, but I certainly love it. The only thing I don’t love about it is trying to wrestle it open/peeled to cook it! It was particularly tempting looking at the farmer’s market this week. I’m working on October’s menus, so I will certainly add some dinners with butternut squash! Some of our favorites with butternut squash are: Portuguese soup and this recipe from Peas and Thank You. This recipe is one I’m going to dust off soon from Oh She Glows! It’s what convinced me to start wrestling with butternut squash in the first place!

My breakfast from yesterday which was Healthy Breakfast Casserole! I felt like I was at a Bed and Breakfast!

My breakfast from yesterday which was Healthy Breakfast Casserole! I felt like I was at a Bed and Breakfast!

This week I’ll be working mornings all week making it necessary to switch cooking from midday to evening. I picked out simple, quick meals so that I don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen! The breakfast choice for this week was boiled eggs and sausages for the Princess. I of course will be having some different things, but it certainly is handy having her breakfast all planned out and cooked ahead of time. One less thing to think about when dashing out the door in the morning!

Sunday
Breakfast: My favorite breakfast casserole: Healthy Breakfast Apple Casserole!
Lunch: Sloppy Joes/Lentil Sloppy Joes over spinach with chips. (We missed making this during the week.)
Supper: Broccoli, canned fish, apple sauce, pickles

Rest of the week:
Breakfasts:
Leftover Healthy Breakfast Casserole
eggs
Yogurt/toast for the dairy eaters
Maybe a pumpkin smoothie!
cereal in a pinch

Lunch/Dinner:
Veggie Pot Pie over mashed sweet potatoes instead of the biscuits (chicken breast for the meat eaters!)
Potato Soup (I plan on making this vegan and hopefully sharing the recipe later this week!)
Shrimp Teriyaki Stir Fry
sandwiches maybe with this chocolate shake
Simple Baked Fish, rice pilaf, roasted beets cooled and topped with balsamic vinegar and sea salt
Pizza, salad
Smoothie (I’m in love with this smoothie!), Popcorn
Leftovers!

For more menu ideas check out Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday! Or for gluten-free menus check out Celiac Family and the Gluten Free Menu Swap!

Pumpkin Spice Frozen Latte

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Frozen Pumpkin Spice Latte!

Frozen Pumpkin Spice Latte!

Everyone loves Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. I mean I even went out of my way each year to purchase one near the beginning of September. However, Starbucks isn’t know for making sure their drinks are gluten-free and their only dairy alternative is soy which bothers me. This just means that my pumpkin spice latte is not going to come from a store this year!

I’m not sad though. $5 (maybe a little less) is a lot to spend on a drink in my opinion. This past weekend I created my first pumpkin spice frozen latte. Gluten free and Dairy free and just for good measure (since I live in Florida and it has been in the 90’s) I made it frozen. (And if you’re counting, MUCH cheaper!) Even if you don’t have a super-duper blender (I used a oster brand blender that is six years old) this drink works. Apparently almond milk doesn’t free as hard as water. You do have to do some prep work, but it’s completely worth it. Just make sure you start the night before you want to have your drink!

To Do the night before:
Freeze a tray full (or at least 8 ice cubes worth for one drink–but who can have just one??) of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Cold brew some coffee (I do decaf, but you are welcome to do regular!) Just grind your coffee, put it in a pitcher, add twice the amount of water (for 1/2 cup coffee you would add a cup of water) and then let it sit on the counter overnight. Strain it in the morning and refrigerate.
Put a can of coconut milk in the fridge to make some coconut whipped cream to put on top! (If you are going to splurge you might as well go all out!)

Ingredients:
8 unsweetened vanilla almond milk ice cubes
1/2 cup cold brew coffee
2 T pumpkin (I used organic)
1 1/2 to 2 T maple syrup (I didn’t try other sweeteners, but you are welcome to experiment. If you aren’t using whipped cream you probably will want more maple syrup!)
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg (or to taste I know some people don’t love this spice like I do!)
1/8 t ginger

Throw it all in a blender and blend until smooth/slushy consistency. Pour it into your favorite cup and add your favorite straw. Top with some wonderful coconut whipped cream for a truly decadent treat! And there you have it! An allergy free version of a pumpkin spice latte for Florida. Now we can pretend it’s fall even though it won’t get cold for months! Enjoy your simple homemade decadent treat this weekend!

Notes: This IS NOT as sweet as the Starbucks drink. If you like sweeter drinks make sure to taste and adjust the sweetener before pouring into your favorite cup.
Adjust spices to your liking. Leave one out if you don’t care for it. A pumpkin pie spice blend would most likely work also, but I haven’t mixed mine up yet for the year.

Eleventh Grade: An Epic Year continued…

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Title page from my 11th grade Chemistry Class.

Title page from my 11th grade Chemistry Class.

Part one here!

I was behind in my science and math compared to my peers so I spent some of my year with the ninth grade Biology class and some with the ninth/tenth grade Geometry class. This included Bible right before Geometry and short Bible/Math classes one day a week because of Physical Education. In addition I took American History and American Literature, music, and Health (an eleventh grade requirement in Pennsylvania) with my peers. I also had a special Chemistry class with other students in eleventh and twelfth grades. We were the ones who missed out on Chemistry in tenth grade for whatever reason and needed it before we graduated. I also participated in the Choir and for part of the year the Worship Band which led the student worship during Chapel. My favorite class? American History. I took American History several times during my 12 years of formal schooling and the year at Dayspring was different in an inspiring way.

The highlights of my week included lunch with my Mom on Mondays in her second grade classroom on the top floor. (I don’t think I ever went up two flights of stairs so fast!) It reminded me of when we were homeschooling! I loved Wednesdays because that was pizza day and we didn’t have to pack a lunch. Well, I loved it until the end of the year when after eating it for nine months straight I didn’t ever want to see a cheese pizza ever again! Occasionally I bought my hot lunch on Thursdays, but I used my own money for that and didn’t do it often.

Besides learning the coursework in these classes I learned how to learn. I learned how to research, I learned how to write, I learned how to reason, and I learned how to take the most difficult kind of test–the essay test. I don’t think I ever wrote so much in my whole life! In fact, that eleventh grade year was more difficult than any of the classes I took a few years later in community college to get my Associate’s Degree! At Dayspring most of the tests were essay tests and multiple choice did not exist. In community college it was the opposite. I also learned something about myself. My home school education wasn’t at all faulty. I was able to keep up with my classmates fairly easily and when I worked really hard I was able to acquire A’s and B’s to make one of the honor rolls every trimester.

In spite of a large learning curve, stress like I’d never experienced, and poor health (I was sick several times that year which included weeks out of the classroom) the community at the school made it one of the best years that I still look back at with fondness. The students formed a bond and encouraged you if you were feeling sad or sick or happy! The teacher’s were no different and cheered you on until you grasped that difficult concept. The teacher’s were excited about the topics they taught in a way that I have rarely encountered anywhere else and it was contagious– if you wanted it to be. I often wonder what would have happened if we had not moved and I had graduated from Dayspring Christian Academy.

How about you? What was your most memorable year at school? Did you have a favorite teacher?

Menu Plan Monday September 16!

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It was a rough week last week. My little princess was sent home sick from school early on Monday and it was rough finding a routine for the rest of the week! Thankfully, she was back to school by Thursday and still seems to be doing well. I knew sending her to preschool would help boost her immune system, but I didn’t expect to get started so early!

The theme for the GF Menu Swap over at Celiac Family is olives! I love olives. Maybe it was growing up in Portugal or maybe just inherited, but I love any olive, anywhere, anytime. In fact, when all of us kids got married we had a hard time convincing our spouses that yes, 3 or 4 cans of black olives for Thanksgiving was not over the top. They would probably all get eaten and they usually did. This week I’m making Vegan Tuna-Less Nicoise Salad with olives. I do enjoy having them on top of my weekly pizza, on any salad I make, and just as a side several times a week.

My Sunday night snack!

My Sunday night snack!

This week is a busy week and next week is even more busy! Work and school keep us hopping and my favorite morning Bible study is starting up again for the fall semester. The breakfast choice for this week is Healthy Oatmeal GF pancakes using quinoa flakes instead of oats. I will probably be making another batch of Buckwheat Granola just to make sure I have enough quick easy breakfasts before we go running out the door.

Sunday
Breakfast: We don’t make desserts very often around here, but in the fall I usually find a few desserts that I want to try. I cut back on the sugar and make them for breakfast and everyone is happy! This morning we had this Apple Crisp. It wasn’t my favorite, so I’ll be making another apple crisp and posting the recipe here soon!
Lunch: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, roasted beets
Supper: if hungry, snacks!

Rest of the week:
Breakfasts:
Healthy Oatmeal GF Pancakes
eggs
Yogurt/toast for the dairy eaters
cereal in a pinch

Lunch/Dinner:
Sloppy Joes (Lentil Sloppy Joes for me!)
Zucchini & Potato bake (with a side of chicken breast for the meat eaters)
Breakfast for dinner! I didn’t get the pancakes made ahead this week, so we’ll be having the Healthy Oatmeal Pancakes and then having the leftovers for breakfast the rest of the week.
sandwiches maybe with this chocolate shake?
Vegan Tuna-Less Nicoise Salad
Potato Chip Fish, remoulade sauce, sweet potato fries, roasted beets cooled and topped with balsamic vinegar and sea salt
Pizza, salad
Smoothie (this was delightful!), Popcorn
Leftovers!

For more menu ideas check out Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday! Or for gluten-free menus check out Celiac Family and the Gluten Free Menu Swap!