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March 14, 2016 / Asimplemother

When I show my love

Is a mother’s love an ever flowing verb through her words, actions and look? Or is it a consistent noun stable and solid as a bouquet of flowers or home-cooked meal? As I have put pen to paper many a times about this topic, I always conclude my thoughts with, “Love is an infinite action as a mom” making it a verb for me.

As a working mom I often catch myself worrying that I am not showing my love enough to my children and husband. The worry and guilt used to eat me up. Don’t get me wrong, I still worry, but instead of allowing it to transcend into guilt, I quickly grab and pen and paper.  To paper I draft in permanent copy all the ways I have shown my love that day or week.  A quick read and I feel much better, back in check and ready to continue.

Over the past few months I have noticed my list go from the obvious: getting the kids a treat while running errands, to the not always popular: no.  In fact, my list now is quite varied and deep.

Love is in my, “no”,  and handmade pasta.  Love is in school notes to the teachers and handmade coloring pages. Love is exploring a new park.  Encouraging a challenge like archery and watching their first bulls eye.  Love is sharing a sandbox sundae.  No difference in my love have I found between a push on the swing or declined Doc McStuffins Doll purchase. I get “Best day ever” awards for bringing home their favorite applesauce even though the other brand was 1/2 the price.  The teachings of why we don’t throw water from the bathtub and time-outs. And the praise they receive from strangers for their manners. Love to me is being first on opening day at our local ice cream shop and mud pies. It is the one cookie rule and no snacks before supper. Love to me is letting them dress themselves but allowing me to brush their hair each morning. Showing my love means Saturday morning doughnuts and Sunday church service. A hug and kiss every morning and every night. And every action and reaction in between.

As a mom I am always learning, when I show my love, I am shown it back.

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March 6, 2016 / Asimplemother

Sugar Free Cornbread

This year once again I gave up all sugar and sweeteners for Lent.  As I embarked on this journey, I was once again reminded of the challenge to create meals without sugar.  And 0nce again, I have found the challenge a good one.

Last Sunday I made a delicious Bean & Vegetable Soup.  I wanted to serve corn bread with it but realized it contained sugar. Challenge accepted!  Solution found! Substituting pineapple and its juice are an excellent natural sweetener.  As an added bonus, the combination of pineapple juice and milk created a buttermilk-like mixture resulting in a lighter texture.

Our Sunday lunch was a huge hit! Even our almost 3-year old son asked for seconds.

PINEAPPLE BACON CORNBREAD
No Added Sugar

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup Ground Oatmeal (regular)
3/4 cup Corn Meal
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 egg
1/4 cup Cooking Oil
3/4 cup Pineapple Juice
1/4 cup Milk
1 cup Pineapple Chunks, crushed
3 strips Cooked Bacon, crumbled

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9×9 inch pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix oatmeal, corn meal, baking powder and salt.
  3. Stir together pineapple juice and milk
  4. Make a well in the dry mixture.
  5. Pour in milk mixture, oil and egg.  Stir together until well mixed
  6. Stir in pineapple and bacon
  7. Pour into prepared pan
  8. Bake 20-25 minutes

Makes 12 servings

 

 

 

October 21, 2014 / Asimplemother

Pumpkin Ham Sliders and other Yummy Fall Party Fare!

I have to confess up front…you know the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”  Similar, when your oven gives you muffins with a missing ingredient, make Pumpkin Ham Sliders.  And so the story begins.  As a mom of 2 small children it happens…I am constructing a new recipe when the oh so familiar call comes, “Mom can you help me please!?”  I’m usually pretty good about going back through my list of ingredients but this day I did not.  And so I was handed 30 pumpkin sunflower muffins so ever dense and moist.  Being the conservative as I am, I couldn’t throw them away…and besides, they tasted excellent, just a little short.  So, I went to work “fixing” these muffins to which my lemonade was made: Pumpkin Ham Sliders.

I couldn’t believe how beautiful these turned out to be – look! Look at the picture below! Are they not the cutest little sandwiches? Pairing salty ham with sweet pumpkin and crunchy sunflower seeds…what is not to love?  The whole family loved them.  And I am now trying to find a sliver of a day to have some friends over to enjoy these little bits of lovely with me (and a nice Oktoberfest Beer), just for a reason to make them again!   Pairing the sliders with the bacon and potato salad serves up light party fare.  Include a sweet chocolate treat and you are set.  We all love ham/bacon, beer and chocolate, right?!

Pumpkin Ham Sliders

Ingredients:

1 cup instant oatmeal

1 cup flaxseed meal

1 cup white flour

1 T. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. cloves

1/2 tsp. ginger

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp salt

3 cups white sugar

1 can (15 oz) pure pumpkin

4 eggs

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup water

1 cup roasted and salted sunflower seeds

1/8-1/4 smoked ham, sliced and sized to fit muffins

8 slices of deli Havarti cheese, quartered

5 T. deli mustard

5 T. pure maple syrup

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously coat muffin tins (enough for 30 muffins) with baking cooking spray.  Mix dry ingredients, create a well in the center.  Add through water.  Whisk until smooth.  Stir in sunflower seeds.  Divide batter among muffin cups.  Bake for  25-30 minutes until done.  cool 10 minutes and remove from pan.  They will be stocky and dense in appearance.

While muffins cook, prepare ham, cheese, mustard and syrup.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Once muffins have cooled enough to handle, slice each muffin.  Place muffins on 3-4 baking sheets.  Place ham and cheese on the bottoms.  Place in the oven for 3-5 minutes, until cheese is melted.  Remove from the oven.  Divide mustard and syrup among all muffins. Place tops on the muffins. Transfer to a serving tray and serve.  Serves 30 sliders.

Bacon Potato Salad

Ingredients:

3 cups diced red potatoes

1 T. olive oil

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and chopped

1 yellow onion, diced

2 oz. Julienned sundried tomatoes

1 T. fresh minced garlic

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup white vinegar

1 T. sundried tomato seasoning

2 T. Mayo

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

2 T. parmesan cheese

parchment paper

cooking spray

1 bag of prepared Bibb Lettuce Mix

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Coat a baking pan with cooking spray.  Spread bacon slices on baking pan.  Cook until almost crispy.  Remove from oven and drain slices on paper towel.  Then chop. Place parchment paper on a large baking sheet. Coat with cooking spray. Evenly spread potatoes on baking sheet.  Drizzle oil over potatoes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook for 30 minutes.  While potatoes cook, mix the 1/2 cup oil, vinegar, seasoning, mayo, garlic, salt and pepper in a jar. Secure lid and shake until well mixed.  In a salad bowl, place bacon, onion, and tomatoes in a bowl.  Toss to mix.  When potatoes are fully cooked, remove from the oven and add to the salad bowl.  Pour dressing over salad.  Stir in parmesan cheese.  Let sit about 1 hour.  Add in lettuce mix.  Toss to coat and blend. Serve immediately.  Serves 6.

Serve the sliders and salad at your next fall get-together and finish the evening with your favorite chocolate dessert and Oktoberfest beer.

Back to my whole reason for writing this or discovering these little yummies…the next time you’re faced with a disaster in your kitchen, remember to make lemonade. You just might find it tastes better than the original.

September 23, 2014 / Asimplemother

Fall Harvest Dinners

Fall is my favorite time of the year…the colors, cool nights and the food.  Oh my the food!  But it’s really more than the food. It is the company and environment in which we get to enjoy the food.  Farmers and their loved ones are a few of the lucky ones who get the opportunity to enjoy dinner in a recently harvested corn field, on the tailgate of a pick-up truck or standing next to a grain bin and elevator in the dusty evening light.  Unfortunately I could go on and on, but no words will ever allow those not part of this elite group to experience what we lucky ones live for every fall.

Yes, there are long nights, early mornings and really no weekends.  But some of most cherished memories of growing up on  a farm include having dinner brought to the field for me by my mom.  I’m not sure what specific elements contributed to cheeseburgers tasting more delicious or cookie bars melting in my mouth but every meal consumed in the field always tasted better than those consumed any other place.

Continuing this tradition, I am reminded every year as I watch the corn transition, the soybeans become “ready”  and all of husband’s conversations include harvest updates that I should get my recipes out, stock up on disposable utensils and prepare the kids for the fun!

I always have my standby recipes: cheeseburgers, sloppy joes, and chilli.  I then have to add in some new ones to challenge my cooking skills, but more importantly, my kitchen-to the car-to the field delivery skills.

This year, I will be making these Italian Beef Sandwiches.  I can start them before leaving for work in the morning and assemble them just in time for dinner.  Try them for yourself.  Better yet, make and take them to a local farmer and enjoy dinner in a field!

Italian Beef Sandwiches

Ingredients:

4-5 Pounds of Top Round Steak, Slightly Thawed

12 Medium Tomatoes, Rough Chopped

2-8 Ounce Packages of Fresh Mushrooms, chopped

1-12 Ounce Bottle of Hard Apple Cider

1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

2 T. Sun Dried Tomato Seasoning

2 Green Peppers, Sliced

1 Large Yellow Onion, Sliced

12 Bakery Buns (Hamburger Bun Size)

1 Stick of Butter, Softened

2 T. Fresh Minced Garlic

1 tsp. Garlic Powder

1 tsp. Garlic Salt

12 Slices of Fresh Mozzarella Cheese

Instructions:

Coat a 6 quart electric roasting pan with cooking spray.  Place tomatoes and mushrooms in pan. Place Top Round Steak on top of tomatoes and mushrooms. Season with sun dried tomato seasoning.  Pur Hard Cider and Vinegar over steak.  Cook at 150 degrees for 8-9 hours.  Turn off.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix butter, garlic, powder and salt together.  Split buns and spread butter evenly inside tops and bottoms.  Lay open on two cooking sheets.  Cook at 425 degrees for 17-20 minutes until lightly brown.  Remove from oven. Preheat oven to broil.  Meanwhile heat a fry pan over medium heat coated with cooking spray. Add pepper and onions.  Cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Remove meat from pan, drain liquid from tomato mixture, reserving 1/4 cup.  Return tomato mixture to pan, along with meat and reserved liquid.  Using 2 forks, shred meat. Stir well.  Evenly distribute meat on the bun bottoms, top with 1/12 of pepper/onion mixture and one slice of cheese.  Repeat for remaining buns.  Leave buns open face.  Place one pan under broiler until cheese melts, about 1-2 minutes, remove from oven and repeat with remaining pan.  Close sandwiches and enjoy…or wrap in foil to deliver.  Serves 12.

 

 

July 8, 2014 / Asimplemother

Tis the Season…

I absolutely love this time of year! Probably the reason I haven’t written a blog post in a while. I have been out enjoying the beautiful weather, taking in the sun and watching our gardens grow.  But as I shake my head back into reality, I have a kitchen full of produce that seems to go from zero to abundance overnight.  Leaving me with my favorite challenge: how can I cook, bake or use all of it to create delicious meals for my family? The artist in me (I am a terrible drawer) comes out and I start to design foods that taste good yes, but also brighten up our dinner plate.

It all starts with asparagus, then rhubarb, now strawberries, radishes, lettuce and raspberries.  I do preserve some (by freezing), but I really love eating in the moment.  And yes, that means in December here in Minnesota I am willing to eat produce trucked in.  This leaves us with some great eats like my rhubarb peach crisp.  Which I have learned is an excellent fruit combination.  Plus, 2X the fruit and 3X the topping for awesomeness!  A great fresh herb dip (just pick a handful of any herbs) with garlic is excellent for a bag full of fresh radishes.

Rhubarb       radishes        raspberries

And now we are to raspberry season.  Although I use most of the raspberries fresh, I have a standing agreement (verbal only) with my mother-in-law that she can have as many raspberries as she would like, in exchange for fresh raspberry jam.  Which by the way is the only type of jam I will eat now (homemade).  She makes an excellent combination of raspberry-rhubarb jam too.  But what shall I make with our raspberries? I have my old standby: Lemon Custard Cake with Raspberries.  There is always a raspberry sauce for anything from waffles to chicken.  I’ll have to work on this one. In the meantime we’ll enjoy some of our favorites…waffles with raspberries and real maple syrup anyone?

Try for yourself…this crisp is really, “A fend for yourself, you better have a big spoon kind of dessert.” Enjoy!

Rhubarb Peach Crisp Recipe

Ingredients:

5 cups of fresh rhubarb, diced/chopped
1-24.5 oz. jar of sliced peaches, well-drained (about 1 hour), then chop.
3/4 cup of white sugar
1 T. Flour
1-1/2 cups quick oats
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal
1/4 tsp. all spice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg, ground
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup cold butter, diced
1/4 cup coconut oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Mix peaches, rhubarb, white sugar and 1 T. white sugar in a bowl.  Pour into ungreased 9×13 pan.  Meanwhile, mix together the next 8 ingredients. Stir to combine.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork. Mix in coconut oil. Sprinkle topping mix over fruit.  Bake for 35-40 minutes until top is lightly golden and crispy.

 

 

May 28, 2014 / Asimplemother

Is there “Less” Stress?

5 appointments / errands in one day with a 4-year old and a 14-month old.  One would call me crazy.  Our stops even included 3 doctor appointments (I counted these as one).  Stressful…just slightly.  As our appointments ran late and lunch was approaching, I was nervously entertaining the baby with anything to keep him happy for a few more minutes.  But, long story short, we succeeded with only 1 causalty…a spilled bottle (the whole thing, of course) of apple juice, and one proud momma of her kids for being great troopers.

Our day yesterday got me thinking about the buzz and new study by Penn State that stay-at-home moms are more stressed than working moms.  As a mom who works 30 hours per week out-of-the-home, I am the last person to judge which is more stressful.  Instead, I ask the question, is there really, “Less stress”?

Our day yesterday was crazy-hectic, but I got to spend it with our kids, teaching them patience when our doctor appointments ran 30 minutes behind, or animal nutrition when buying bird and wildlife feed at the local cooperative.  And some days at the office, I get to tune-out the world and work on my to-do list, uninterupted…until I learn I must “train” a new boss and do the job of 2 people because of changes.

Stress levels fluctuate (like when both my kids take a 2 hour nap on Fridays), our stress management tactics change/grow, and our desire to allow stress to help us be better next time.  I haven’t determined for myself which is more / less stressful.  Maybe I am just one of the lucky ones that gets to have the most and least stress as a mom.

March 24, 2012 / Asimplemother

Breakfast on the Porch or Deck or Patio

With the recent unseasonably warm spring days, I’ve abandoned anything indoors for the inviting fun of the outdoors. Even our meals have been enjoyed on our porch. Yes, even breakfast.

There is something about the chirping, whistling and endless views of the valley that just make eating that much more of an event.

And this morning was no different. The light fog only added a layer of mystery to our breakfast adventure. So much so that traditional fried eggs turn into a gourmet, chef inspired breakfast.

Mushroom Fried Egg on Toast

1 egg
1 slice of rye toast
1/2 cup of fresh, sliced mushrooms (I used baby bells)
1 T fresh chives, snipped to 1/2″ strips
1/4 cup of shredded Frisian Farms Young Cheese (or farmer cheese if unavailable)
Butter
Cooking spray
Garlic salt and pepper

Spray a medium fry pan with cooking spray and turn to medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook about 4 minutes until soft. Seasoning to taste with garlic salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside.

Toast your piece of rye bread, spread with butter if desired (I recommend it).

Next, spray your pan again and return it to medium heat. Crack and add your egg. Cook either sunnyside-up or over easy.

To assemble, place toast on a plate. Place egg on top of toast. Then, place mushrooms on egg, sprinkle cheese and chives over the mushrooms. Salt and pepper if desired.

Grab a fork in your favorite spot and enjoy!

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