Monday, December 28, 2015

4 Chicken Crockpot Freezer Meals- Gluten Free



Crockpot White Chicken Chili
 Freezer Meal
**Gluten Free

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  Fat Trimmed, quartered.
  • 2 cans-15.5oz cans of Great Northern  Or Canneli  beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 oz can of chopped mild green chilies (ALDI didn’t have these so I subbed half a can of 10oz can of diced tomatoes and green chilies)
  • ½ bag of 1 lb bag of frozen corn
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried minced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried ground oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Day of cooking
  • 3 to 4 cups chicken broth
Materials Needed
  • 1 gallon-sized plastic freezer bag
  • Sharpie
To Freeze
  1. Label your freezer bag.
  2. To your freezer bag, add all ingredients except broth.
  3. Remove as much air from the freezer bag as possible, seal, and lay flat in your freezer.
To serve
  1. The night before cooking, move frozen bag to your refrigerator to thaw.
  2. The morning of cooking, pour contents of freezer bag into your crockpot and add 3 to 4 cups of chicken broth.  Use more if you want more of a soup than chunky chili
  3. Cook on “low” setting for 6 to 8 hours, or high 3 to 4 hours -or until chicken is cooked through.
  4. Shred chicken with fork.
  5. Serve topped with with sour cream or shredded cheddar cheese.  Cornbread or tortilla chips are good side.





 Crockpot Chicken Taco Soup 
Freezer Meal


**Gluten Free

  •  2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast (fat trimmed & cut in half)
  • 1 Tbsp dried minced onion
  • (16 ounce) can pinto beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 (15 ounce) bag of frozen corn
  •  1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
  •  1/2 to 1 package of GF taco seasoning depending on how spicy you like your soup 
Day of cooking
  • 2 to 3cups chicken broth
Materials Needed
  • 1 gallon-sized plastic freezer bag
  • Sharpie
To freeze:
  1. Label Bag with instructions.
  2. Combine all ingredients into a Ziploc bag and freeze flat.
To Serve:
1.      Thaw overnight in fridge.
2.      In Crockpot, add chicken broth, and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
3.     Shred chicken in crock pot once cooking is done.    Serve with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and/or tortilla chips.


Crockpot Cilantro Lime Chicken 
with Corn and Black Beans
Freezer Meal
**Gluten Free

  • 2 chicken breasts  (fat trimmed and cut in half)                              
  • 6 Tablespoons of lime juice             
  • 1 cups fresh cilantro, chopped   (2  cups if you really like cilantro)        
  • bag (16 oz) bag frozen corn           
  • 3  minced garlic cloves                       
  •  1 TBSP dried minced onion 
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 to 4 tsp cumin                            
  • salt and pepper to taste
  •  1 tbsp olive  oil       
Materials Needed
  • 1 gallon-sized plastic freezer bag
  • Sharpie
To Freeze
  1. Label your bags with cooking the directions
  2. Trim all fat chicken breasts and cut in half to have a total of four pieces of chicken per bag
  3. Place ingredients in a resalable gallon-sized freezer bag. Mix together, get air out of bag, and zip bag closed. Lay flat to freeze
To Serve:
  1. When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours.                                               
  2. Put contents of bag in Crockpot, and stir in 2 Tbsp of Olive oil.                                                          
  3. Cook on LOW for 8 hours (or HIGH for 4 hours).  Shred Chicken with Fork.                                     
  4. Serve over rice or make a taco type salad. We like to top with salsa, sour cream.
Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken
Freezer Meal
**Gluten Free


  • 2 chicken breasts  (fat trimmed & cut in half)                                       
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped carrots (optional, a lot of times I just use steamed stir fry veggies because they are crisper)               
  • 1 tbsp dried minced onion                           
  • 2  minced garlic cloves                                 
  • 1 (26 ounce) undrained cans pineapple tidbits (or 1 cup pineapple juice)        
  • 1 and 1/2 cups Gluten Free teriyaki sauce   
Day of Cooking
  •   1 Package of Frozen  Stir Fry Vegetables (Steam in bag kind)
Materials Needed
  • 1 gallon-sized plastic freezer bag
  • Sharpie
To freeze
  1. Label your bags with the cooking directions.
  2. Trim chicken breasts and cut in half to have a total of four pieces of chicken per bag. Add  to bag.
  3. Add rest of ingredients to bag.
  4. Let out air, seal bag, and lay flat in freezer.
To serve
  1. Thaw overnight in fridge.
  2. Cook Lo 6 to 8 hours or High 3-4 hours. Remove Chicken and Shred
  3. Steam Stir Fry vegetables in Microwave, and mix into mixture.
  4. Serve over rice.






                    


                         

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Holiday Entertaining, or Holiday Hospitality?


I was binge watching HGTV while I folded laundry (Fixer Upper in case you were wondering), and the same word/phrase popped up in almost every episode, 
 "I want to entertain in this house." 
At first I didn't even notice, but the word entertain started to strike me as strange after 5 full laundry baskets of clothes and hearing it in EVERY episode.   

Entertainment is great, I am a big fan. There is nothing wrong with the word, but the motivation underlying this word was hitting me a new way, especially in contrast with the word hospitality.


The focus of entertainment is on the entertainer. 


The focus of hospitality is on the audience. 


Am I turning hospitality into a "Look at me!" situation? The gifting of  hospitality is a beautiful thing, but we can warp it easily when our pride gets in the way.  Do I want my guests to leave saying  "Robyn is such a great hostess!" or "I feel really cared for by her and her family."?  


Hospitality is NOT about perfection.
  Hospitality is not necessarily about having the perfect pinterest-inspired center piece or perfectly clean house.  Can a pinterest-inspired favor or being welcomed into a clean house make some feel cared for, yes it can!  Many people feel cared for when you make aesthetic preparation for them, but  I really have to check my motivation before endeavoring on this path; am I seeking to build my ego? 

Or on the other hand of perfection-seeking, is this avenue to entertaining robbing YOU of joy?  In my experience, true hospitality will being us joy, not weariness.  If I am slipping into 'Martha Grumbling Mode', instead of seeking what fills others, maybe then I have lost the point of hospitality.  There are dozens of opportunities to show hospitality through service, but make sure the people do not get lost in the food, preparations, and "entertainment".  


Hospitality is NOT about your comfort, but about comfort of others

Biblical Hospitality is not about my comfort, because it is just not about me. Meeting others needs is the first priority, and sometimes that will make me feel uncomfortable. I really want to be the person who doesn't pause to invite a lonely friend to my house because my house is too small or in it's "natural" state.  Some people feel more comfortable in a house that does not look like it belongs in a magazine. 

On the flip side, my dirty laundry in the living room  WILL make some uncomfortable, and feel like I didn't care enough to pick up  for them. When wonderful husband comes homes from a chaotic work day, it makes him uncomfortable to walk into more chaos. This is another one of those lines of balance to pray about; how do you prepare your house to make others comfortable, without building your ego or wearing out your spirit?  


I am guilty as many others when it comes to wanting a bigger house to "entertain".   In my 900 square foot bungalow , I can not 'entertain' dozens of people comfortably (trust me, I have tried).  A house big enough to have parties is NOT a bad thing,  in many cases it is a huge blessing to friends to have a place to meet.  In this wish for a bigger house, I am praying that if God moves us to a bigger house, we use that house for His glory, not just our comfort. 

Hospitality IS about food (sometimes)

Hospitality very often does include food (Thank you Lord for that), but not always.  When it does include food, the motivation for a shared meal is for the other person to feel loved and cared for.  

People in need of love/care/kindness will feel cared for when you prepare and share a meal with them, no matter the gourmet level of cooking. A busy mom does not care what you make, but she will care you are allowing her to eat a meal that she doesn't have to cook or clean up afterward.

I love to cook for others, but that isn't true of everyone.  Does insecurity in your cooking abilities  (a.k.a. or pride) keep you from trying to bless others?  Hosting friends for delivery pizza or Chinese take out at your house can just as (if not more) fun for that tired mom who needs a break or lonely single who needs a friend, because it is not about you, it is about them.

Hospitality IS about People
While hospitality sometimes involves food, it ALWAYs involves people. Sometimes hospitality involves laughter and game night with a another set of parents in desperate need of adult interaction.  Sometimes it involves dinner with a grieving widow, or single in your church who would be alone without your invitation.  

Jesus is our best example of hospitality over and over again. I LOVE that Jesus showed us over and over how much he loved quality time with others.  He enjoyed food and wine, but he loved people.  He loved his devoted disciples, he loved sinners, he loved people.




Friday, November 13, 2015

Freezer Cooking with Friends-Round Three




Freezer Cooking is exponentially easier, and more fun, with friends!! 




Previous Cooking with A Friend Posts- 
Including recipes and how to get started freezer cooking with a friend. 


We made six of each of the 6 recipes below, equaling 36 meals total in 2.5 hours.
 Each person took home 12 meals, and we paid about $90 a piece. 
Almost all shopping was done at Aldi, except a few items from Meijer and GFS. If I had made it to Sam's for the meat, I think I could have made the final price much lower, but life got int he way and I had to make due closer by stores. 

Freezer Chicken Enchiladas

Freezer Chicken Enchiladas

Materials Needed:
9 x13 Disposable casserole dish and lid
Sharpie

Ingredients
    2 cups cooked and shredded Chicken Breasts
    3 Cups Mexican blended Cheese, Shredded
    7-10 large/medium Flour Tortillas
    1 Can Red Enchilada Sauce
    1 Can Black Beans- drained and rinsed
    1 cup corn

Instructions
1.               Line bottom of pan with 1/2 can enchilada sauce
2.               Mix beans, chicken, 1 cup cheese (optional) in a bowl.
3.               With a large scooper, fill each tortilla with mixture. Roll it up and place it in large  9x13       baking dish with seams down.
4.               Repeat until all chicken mixture is used.
5.               Pour the second half of red enchilada sauce over the top.
6.               Top with rest of cheese.
7.               Cover with foil, label and freeze.

TO SERVE
Thaw in fridge, bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or till melty and bubbly.
Serve with sour cream, salsa, lettuce beans or rice

Crockpot Lasagna Soup
Crockpot Lasagna Soup
Materials-
Gallon sized Ziploc and small Ziploc

Ingredients
24oz jar of pasta sauce
1 lb ground Italian pork sausage- cooked
1 tsp Italian seasonings
Sea salt and pepper to taste
15oz can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2.5oz of fresh baby spinach (about 3 cups) - this looks like a lot, but it cooks down in the broth
4 cups of chicken broth (add day of cooking if won’t fit in bag)

Day of cooking
3 uncooked lasagna noodles, broken into small pieces

Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients except lasagna noodles in labeled freezer bag:  
  2. Put noodles in small Ziploc bag
TO SERVE
  1. Thaw over night in fridge
  2. Cook for 6-8 hours on "low" setting in slow cooker.
  3. Add noodles and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
  4. Top with freshly grated mozzarella and/or Parmesan cheeses and serve with a side of garlic bread. 
Adapted from Thirty Handmade Days 

Freezer Chicken Pot Pie
 Freezer Chicken Pot Pie
Materials
Deep Freezer Pie pan
Aluminum Foil

Ingredients
1 cups cubed cooked chicken
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup flour
1/2  teaspoons salt
½ garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2/3 cups chicken broth
1/3 cups milk (or sub unsweetened almond milk)
1 ½ cup frozen mixed veggies
1 box  ready made crusts (2 in a box)

Instructions
Chicken Mixture-
1.      In a large skillet, sauté onion in butter until tender.
2.      Stir in the flour, salt, garlic salt, and pepper until blended. Gradually stir in broth and milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
3.      Add the chicken and mixed veggies. Remove from heat.

 Assemble Pie
  1. Line two 9-inch pie plates with bottom pastry; trim even with edge of plate.
  2. Fill pastry shells with chicken mixture.
  3. Roll out remaining pastry to fit top of pies.
  4.  Cut slits or decorative cutouts in pastry.
  5. Place over filling; trim, seal and style the edges.
  6. Cover and freeze remaining pot pie for up to 4 months.
TO SERVE
  1. Thaw in fridge
  2. Cover edges of piecrust with foil; place on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake at 475ºF for 45 minutes
Crockpot White Chicken Chili 
Crockpot White Chicken Chili
Materials
Gallon sized Ziploc bag

Ingredients
2 cans-15.5oz cans of Great Northern  Or Canneli  beans, rinsed and drained
4oz can of chopped mild green chilies (ALDI didn’t have these so you can sub can of 10oz can of diced tomatoes and green chilies)
½ bag of 1 lb bag of frozen corn
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp dried minced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tsp dried ground oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Day of cooking
3 to 4 cups chicken broth (more broth makes it less chili and more soup like)

Instructions
1. Label your freezer bag.
2. To your freezer bag, add all ingredients except broth.
3. Remove as much air from the freezer bag as possible, seal, and lay flat in your freezer.

TO SERVE
  1. Thaw over night in fridge
  2. Cook for 6-8 hours on "low" setting in slow cooker.
  3.  Shred chicken and serve with sour cream and cheese. 


Ground Turkey Meatloaf 

Ground Turkey Meatloaf
Materials needed
Cooking spray
Loaf pan to help shape loaves
Heavy Duty Aluminum foil
Sharpie

Ingredients
1.25 pounds lean ground turkey
1/2 cup 2% milk  (sub unsweetened almond milk for dairy free)
2 large eggs
1 packages onion soup mix
1 tsp  minced onion
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 TBSP dried parsley
1/4 cup shredded carrots (adds moisture to turkey so it doesn’t dry out while cooking)
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Instructions
  1. Prepare 9×5″ loaf pan by placing one piece  aluminum foil in bottom and sides, then coating with cooking spray
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine turkey, milk, eggs, onion soup mix, shredded carrots, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and dried parsley.  Spoon half into prepared pan.
  3. Fold foil over loaf.  Take loaf out of pan, cover with another layer of foil.
  4. Label and store in freezer for up to 3 months.
TO SERVE
Thaw in fridge for at least 24 hours.
Bake at 350 degrees for hour to 60 to 90 min, or until cooked through (use meat thermometer)  
Add topping of your choice half way through cooking (ketchup or BBQ sauce).

                            Freezer Baked Ziti 
Freezer Baked Ziti
Materials Needed:
9 x13  Disposable casserole dish and lid
Sharpie

Ingredients (one Pan)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 tbsp dried minced onion
1/2 pound Italian Sausage
2 Jars Spaghetti Sauce
1 can stewed tomatoes
2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
Salt And Pepper, to taste
16 oz Ziti, Cooked Until Not Quite Al Dente
1 tub (15 Oz.) Skim Milk Ricotta Cheese
1 pound Mozzarella Cheese, Grated
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Egg

Instructions
1.      Cook garlic, and onions in pan with olive oil.  Add Italian sausage and cook until browned. Drain off fat if any, leaving a bit behind for flavor and moisture.
2.      Add Spaghetti Sauce, stewed tomatoes, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Stir and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. After that time, remove about 2 cups of the sauce to a different bowl to cool down.
3.      In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella, parmesan, egg, and salt and pepper. Stir together just a couple of times (do not mix completely).
4.      While doing that cook pasta according to directions on pot. Drain & rinse under cool water.
5.      Pour pasta into the bowl with the cheese mixture and toss to slightly combine (there should still be large lumps.)
6.      Add the cooled meat sauce to pasta/cheese mixture and toss to combine.
7.      Add half the pasta mixture to a 9x13 dish. Spoon half set aside of the remaining tomato/meat sauce over the top, and then top with half the remaining mozzarella cheese. Repeat with another layer of the coated pasta, sauce, and the mozzarella cheese.

TO FREEZE
Cover with two layers of foil (to avoid freezer burn), label, and freeze.  Used within 3 months.

TO SERVE
Bake for 20 minutes, 375 degree, or until bubbling. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Adapted from Pioneer Women 



Thursday, September 10, 2015

Free Online Learning Supplements; Typing, Piano, Spanish

Homeschool in the age of the internet is such a blessing.   
There are so many resources available for free, or almost free.


Typing.com is a site that I just can't believe is free because it is so good. It is very  thorough, and visual.  You can create a teacher account, then assign User ID for each of your students and track their progress. 

Each of my boys really enjoy using their own IDs and passwords.  The beginner lessons can be up to two hours (several smaller practice lessons inside each lesson), so be sure to read descriptions and break them into smaller chunks.



 The free lessons from Hoffman Academy have been a huge blessing to our family. We started when the boys were in second grade and could read fluently. In the beginning units the parent might want to  to sit with them during each video lesson and practice, but they are only ten minutes and we all look forward to watching the lesson video each week. I am amazed at how much the boys have learned through these lessons in just a short time. 

OUR SCHEDULE-We watch a video every Monday, then practice each day afterward. The website has practice helps, and tentative practice schedules.  Once got the hang of the routine, I typed a practice schedule with all their songs , practice games, and finger power exercises for the boys to practice more independently whenever we don't have a video.  

We spend the very small amount they ask for printable materials & & practice MP3s ($20 for 20 lessons), and it is so worth it! If you sign up for an account, they send great deals via email, we bought Unit 2's material for only $12! 



Spanish- DUO LINGO 
We finally purchased Rosetta Stone when it was on sale this Fall.  But in between lessons, the boys have really enjoyed and learned a lot from the DUOLINGO app.  It has voice recognition and several different languages. I don't think it can replace a full language curriculum, but good practice and supplement. 








Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What is a Homeschool Co-Op?


A Co-Op is just short for Cooperative.  It is only a true cooperative if the parents all have a job, helping teach or assist in some way. Co-Op are all different, because they are what the Moms make of it.  Some meet weekly, some monthly, some for field trips.  A Co-op can be big with dozens of families, or just you and one other family. 

The one thing that is true of almost all co-ops is the parents contribute out of their strengths & abilities. Everyone has something to offer to a co-op. You don't have to be a great singer or mathematician to contribute.  Holding babies or playing with toddlers so a mom can have her hands free to play teach art is a very helpful contribution. Some moms bake cookies for the other Moms to enjoy, and as a non-baker, I can tell you this is a worthwhile contribution!

Co-ops can be big or small 
My first year homeschooling, I started a monthly Art Co-op with just one other family. We got together once a month to do an art lesson together at her house because it was larger. We split the costs of supplies, and took turns teaching. Our kids ages ranged from my 5 years old to 13 years old. We had about 20-40 min of art (paper mache, water colors, pastels),  then let the kids play together while us moms enjoyed coffee and adult conversation (that was my favorite part).  

We now attend a weekly co-op that meets once a week for 12 weeks each semester, it consists of 50 families. My kids can take classes I can not offer at home. As a former Preschool teacher, I  teach the younger kids, while talented singers teach choir and the athletic-minded teach gym.  

Co-ops can be flexible or structured
Some Co-ops are very structured, like Classical Conversations.  Usually the bigger the co-op the more structure is required.  Like I said before, my art co-op was only two families and consisted of a small half hour lesson and several hours of coffee and small talk with my friend! 

We are also part of a flexible Co-op that is just a  field trip co-op.  We take turns arranging fields tips to places like the Fire Departments or to see maple sap harvested in the spring. 

Ask around only for families who have your same Teaching Style,  and if they don't have a co-op already, make your own!!!  Unschoolers may have a different looking Co-Op than a group of Traditionally Styled Homeschoolers. That said, my field trip co-op includes several different types of homeschoolers, from unschooling to classical.


 Not All Homeschool Activities Are Co-Ops
There are a lot of other activities that are not co-ops. If you are paying someone to teach your child, or are not teaching anyone else in exchange for them teaching your child (i.e. Drop Off your child and leave) , then it is not a co-op. But those are great opportunities none the less.  I know I personally love our AWANA club, I need that hour and half to grocery shop by myself!!!  

Most YMCA in the country has some type of drop-off homeschool program.  Our area also has The Kroc, a community center from Salvation Army, that has homeschool classes for gym, health, music, and art.   The boys met friends in their classes, and I was able to meet some homeschool moms in person at drop-off.


Find a Co-Op and Homeschool  Group Near You
I recommend joining a online support group, like a local homeschool Facebook Group.  Most Homeschool Co-Ops do not have a website for security, and just for time saving. A Local online groups of women will have more info about your area, and how to link in. 

Ask around only for families who have your same Teaching Style,  and if they don't have a co-op already, make your own!!! 

Helpful Links

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