I can’t get enough of roasted vegetables!! Especially root vegetables and especially this time of year. They are so rustic and hearty and look beautiful on your table. The fun thing about them is that you can make them in any combination and it is ALWAYS good. So for the amateur cook it’s a no fail dish. Pick from your favorites or from what’s on hand, throw them together, roast ’em and like magic you have a dish to serve that makes you look like a pro! I have many of my own favorite combinations and I will be posting them but this one is my absolute favorites. It is perfect for the Fall and winter and holiday season and can be paired with just about anything. You can prep it ahead and roast it before serving and this is also one of my Healthy Selections recipes so it’s good…
I am a total vegetable freak! I love them and spaghetti squash is definitely one of my absolute favorites. You just can’t get easier…it is a very simple process to make and you can literally change it up anyway you’d like. You can serve it so many ways just use your imagination!
You will need:
-1 or 2 med to large spaghetti squash
-salt and pepper
-any seasoning blend you prefer or just stick with salt & pepper (my favorite to use is Tastefully Simple’s Rustic Herb Seasoning)
Line a sheet pan with foil and preheat oven to 400 degrees
Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out and discard seeds. Drizzle and rub olive oil thoroughly on the inside. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (I leave out the salt because we are on a low sodium diet) and any other seasoning you like.
Turn the squash up side down skin side up and bake for 30-60 minutes (depends on size and number of halves) or until your finger indents the skin when you press it. It should be a little squishy.
Remove pan from oven and using tongs flip them right side up to cool for about 5 minutes.
Using a fork “fluff” the squash “noodles” out of the skin. You can eat it right out of the skin (built in bowl!) or remove it to use as a side dish or mixed with anything you’d like! You’re favorite sauce, cheese, vegetable or salad…you name it! It is just DELICIOUS!
Looking back at all the former generations they all had children or procreated for different reasons. There was a time when families were much larger and stayed together on one farm. They had large families to CREATE financial stability. The more kids, the more workers, the more the farm or family business prospered. That was their life. They worked hard and had unity…one common goal. During the depression these families were hit hard and then it became about keeping enough food on the table and not losing the family business. I learned so much from my grandmother about this time in history. I loved her stories. To this day an elderly person will stop me in my tracks if I can hear a story from their time. It is FACINATING. And if you ever have the chance please take the time to listen. Not only does it make them happy to tell those stories but it teaches us so much if we choose to hear them and absorb it. (****This is my sweet friend from Tennessee, Jackie, how I miss her and her stories 🙂 )
Then time slowly changed and large families became rare. The time of “Suburbia” arrived with the 2.5 kids and the white picket fence. Possessions became a staple and started to define us so therefore parents started having less children to be able to afford them. The family dynamic in my opinion became more about a social statement than about procreation. Women were looked down upon if they couldn’t have a child or even if they chose not to have them…well, that had been the case for many generations but for different reasons along the way. We saw the rise of women fighting to enter the man’s world of having a career and being competitive in it. That alone began to change families, motherhood, and how we then and now define parenting.
Have you ever REALLY thought about how different parenting and families have become over just the last few generations? It’s mind boggling. There is really no one definition of it. Most of us were raised to believe that you find someone you love…you get married…you have children…work hard…grow old. Simple as that. But as we now see that was WAY left open to interpretation. Now we have, single Moms, single Dads, 2 Dads, 2 Moms, “Grandparent” parents, 2 working parents, no parents, etc. etc. I am not judging in anyway….let’s make that clear. I am a Christian and I believe what I believe and even if I don’t believe what you believe I love you anyway… until you hurt people, then I have to work on praying for you and forgiving you. But, the point I am getting to is no matter who you love or what you believe, what are our children to think, understand, or believe in? Traditional values are getting pushed away by Liberal mindsets…again not judging just feel as if there could be room for both with understanding and love. I feel if we don’t figure out a way to define all these family dynamics and\or learn to co-exist as a “human” dynamic of love and tolerance, we cannot possibly expect our youth to function and thrive as they grow up and begin to try to make their own ways and own decisions on how THEY will form their own families.
We have gotten so far off into a “do whatever you want or feel like” mentality that we have lost all structure and there are no guidelines for our children to follow. CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS NEED LOVE, STRUCTURE, DISCIPLINE, AND CONSISTENCY. I will say it til the cows come home!!!! Again, this is my opinion but a formed opinion from LIVING it. I feel like I’m old enough now to share advice because I’ve been through a lot for a lot of years and I will tell you no matter what you believe I made it through it all with God. I am so thankful I had Him. From a very young age I had a very strong relationship with God and I don’t know why but I would have hated to see what would have become of me if I didn’t.
I come from a family of major dysfunction, 2 divorces, and plenty I could write an entire book about… but I won’t get into details out of respect for the people involved. I grew up saying to myself, “When I grow up and have kids they will be loved, put first, and will always know I have their back…and I will MAKE SURE they have respect and love and whatever discipline and sacrifice it takes to make them good citizens…and they will LOVE Jesus!!” I promise you…it was my one goal. I wanted to be a wife and Mother. I think it was fueled by me wanting to show my parents how to do it right! I NEVER wanted my children to feel what I felt. I spent so much of my childhood not feeling loved or protected and I cannot tell you in words what that feels like but I can tell you I will never forget that feeling…never.
Now I didn’t always go about things the right way…I got married way too young, didn’t prepare myself with skills or education for a time when God forbid I had to become the breadwinner, and I have made many mistakes along my 35 year parental and marital journey. But, I have always believed a mistake is only a mistake when you don’t learn from it or make the best of it….and for goodness sake don’t repeat it!!
We did wait 3 years after getting married to start our family. I pretty much have to “cookie cut” everything. I HAVE to accomplish A-B- & C before I can attempt D. I didn’t want to have baby number one until we bought a house…and that’s what we did. We moved in our first house (loved that house) during the 5th month of our second pregnancy (we had a miscarriage with the first 😦 ) and we were sooooooooo excited! I had to have EVERYTHING done, set up, and tidy before that baby came….and it was. Those of you who know me probably aren’t surprised and are having a chuckle right now. 🙂
Every time I write I worry I will offend someone out there with my opinions and I apologize for that if I do. I just feel so strongly about some things and I write hoping it will make a difference to more than it doesn’t.
I watch all these young parents starting their families and I see joy and I see things that break my heart. I see everything from, overly attentive, spoiling parents to completely self-absorbed parents, to parents who have given up and just let the kids take over, to parents who are too hard and expect way too much, to parents who do this whole “free range” thing to.. you name it. It’s all over the place….and I will tell you it’s taking it’s toll on our youth and how they will grow up and serve this world.
Our TV shows are a really good example. Just take a look at what shows don’t make it and what shows get the ratings. I remember as a kid we had WHOLE nights of family shows we could sit and watch and our parents didn’t have to worry about the content. I was so excited about Fuller House coming back. YES!!!! A family, sweet, good show to watch! Wow….was I shocked. It honestly isn’t appropriate for small kids, (in MY opinion). There’s partying, drinking, adult subjects, sexual innuendos and jokes that are not for kids. But…they fell prey to trying to get that bigger audience and bigger ratings. Every good wholesome show they come out with ends up getting cancelled. I couldn’t believe how long The Middle made it. Such a good show. Funny AND clean. It’s almost as if people NEED the extreme to be entertained now. Don’t get me wrong, I like good ADULT humor but why the CONSTANT profanity? It’s every other word. My ears start to bleed! Between this, the video game content, social media and a completely unfiltered world our youth doesn’t have a chance without guidance and a watchful eye. But…how sadly I fear most are not getting it.****READING!!!! Real books=Real Reading…let children continue to experience the smell, look ,and feel of a good book 🙂
These are just some of the examples of what our youth sees and is exposed to and has very easy access to. I believe kids have WAY too much freedom these days and it’s a recipe for disaster in this over exposed world we are now in. With most parents working outside the home at jobs becoming more and more demanding unfortunately you are seeing more kids home alone WAY too much. I’ve seen it at every age level and I am ASTONISHED! Ask yourself….in today’s world do you honestly think it’s wise to let a child the age of 12 or 13 stay home alone everyday all summer? WAY too much time on their hands. Way too much time to delve into all the things they have inappropriate access to. And the one thing I have learned about teenagers…we are raising our 4th one.. is you CANNOT trust them until they prove you wrong. Now I know a lot of you will disagree with me…and that’s ok….it’s what I have discovered the hard way. Do NOT blindly trust a teenager. They are wired to make stupid choices and they need us to control the environments they are put in. It is not wise to just let them go and do whatever and say, I trust my child to do the right thing, this world is honestly pushing them and pumping stuff in their brains every day to NOT do the right thing. BECAUSE… NOW the WRONG things are idolized as the RIGHT things and they are more and more tempted to follow suit. I consider raising kids as a battle….survival of the fittest. As I stated in my introduction it has become harder and harder to discipline and stand up for the rules you want your kids to follow. I feel the majority of parents have just given up. They are tired and overworked and just don’t have the energy to deal with it. It’s a sad state of affairs that parents can’t parent because they have to work and work way too much and there is usually not a parent home to keep a watchful eye. ****My beautiful young Grandma ready to start her life as a Wife and Mother… would love to go back to that time and hear what she’s thinking 🙂
Then there is the new definition of a Mom. Don’t kid yourself…it has definitely been redefined. Think about when you were a kid…didn’t Grandmas LOOK like Grandmas???? My Grandma looked the same for 30 years and she was beautiful. She never felt the need to get plastic surgery or a facelift or a gym membership or to wear a bikini until she was 65! She was the most energetic, hard working woman who was fit and healthy and did it by helping others, gardening, walking, and keeping her house and yard in order. That sounds like a list of all the things we now don’t have time for. Mmmmmmmm??????? That sure makes ya think doesn’t it? There is such a debilitating pressure on women to stay the same after they have kids. Keep the same body, the same social life, the same hobbies, AND to work a demanding job, keep your mate happy, wear the latest fashion, keep your house clean and decorated, and don’t forget to log it all on social media…..ya know, portray that image that its all perfect and you have it ALL under control, and ooooooo yeah…BE A MOM. Do you see the difference from then to now? Another example of how change didn’t make things better. When things get overwhelming SOMETHING has to give and when you dissect this situation what do YOU think has suffered from it? Our youth….and I don’t see how you can deny it.
As Mother’s we have a role. It’s different than a Father’s but they are both very important. God made us the nurturers and men the providers. I know how basic and barbaric that sounds but that’s how it all began. Why do you think Mom is always the first one to hear the baby cry in the middle of the night? We were wired that way. Men’s brains were wired to sleep to rest to prepare for the next work day we are the opposite. We wake up because we were made to nurture the children. Again, sounds crazy and not the way of today but I think an interesting fact.
So with all this pressure to be a modern day woman/Mother most are just exhausted trying to keep up with it. Because remember???? We CAN have it ALL!! I don’t agree. And trust me I know a lot of you do and would love to show me proof but this is what I have not only experienced but seen first hand. I have a pretty firm philosophy to back my opinion. This, and how our newly defined roles as parents are affecting our children, our society, our family life and especially the state of our schools I will leave for Part 2.
“Mom! You are the weirdest Mom and you are making me look WEIRD! Everyone thinks you are crazy and I’m like a freeeakuuhhhh!” (All teenage words end in an “UHHHH”)
Words I hear basically on a daily basis…doesn’t phase me. This is the lovely reaction I normally get from our youngest daughter about our family rules she has to follow. I really think MOST of the time she gets it and accepts it but there are those moments when our rules get in the way of something “everyone else is doing” and she “hates her life”. The one thing I think she has learned is that I rarely budge and when I say it.. I mean it. I am very consistent. I think kids count on that even if they don’t like it….and I don’t think they realize it but they really do. I believe discipline and consistency IS love. When you show your kids you care enough about them to stick to it even when it would be a WHOLE lot easier to let them have their way they feel loved and protected.
Now as I continue to write I just know there will be parents out there who will disagree with my opinions on parenting and my outlook on today’s youth. But this is my OPINION and I feel compelled to share it. With all I see and experience everyday I can’t rest until I at least try to make a change…even if it’s just a small one.
With most families now having 2 parents working out of the home or being raised by a single parent the way children are parented has for the most part drastically changed. I believe that we have crossed over into a whole new way of parenting forced by today’s society and the crazy busy lives we lead. A life of an overbearing social media that in my opinion is really the one raising our kids…not us. A life of fast pace, never stopping, never taking a breath, never taking just a moment to see even the most simplest of things. A life that saddens me to my core. And trust me, I am just as guilty of it.
I am old enough to have lived on both sides. I lived my childhood with no technology….well we had tv’s and home phones and eventually came video games but that’s it. My mind was on ACTIVITY, CREATIVITY, and INTERACTING with people on a face to face personal level. I don’t have neck or back or eye problems from staring down at a phone screen for 12-18 hours a day. I had skinned knees, bruises and a sunburn all summer, every summer. And my Mom never had to worry about me or say “Gosh go get on your iPad or something.” I was gone all day every day PLAYING OUTSIDE and RIDING my bike. You RARELY saw a kid that was overweight because we never stopped. I would love to know how many calories we burned in a day. The scary part is we never wore sunscreen and didn’t even wear seatbelts until later in my childhood. When we were born there was no such thing as a car seat your Mom just held you in the front seat on the way home. Good Lord…
There is so much on this subject that weighs heavy on my heart that I have decided to start a series so I can take the time to touch on many things I feel so strongly about and then you can form your own opinions.
Some may say that I have an issue with embracing change. I don’t think so. I like change, but I don’t like it being at the expense of something else. Change should make things better. I am seeing such a negative downfall in our youth in so many ways and I think most of it has been brought on by change. Things CAN change, of course, that’s what makes the world go ’round but let’s take a look at who or what it is destroying or is paying the cost.
My opinions have nothing to do with a religion, race, who you love, who you support or who you vote for…It’s all about our future generation and what WE can do to help them.
If we don’t start opening our eyes and seeing…REALLY seeing you may not be able to reel them back in. Every generation had certain challenges with their youth. It’s been going on since the beginning of time. Youth will be youth and they will forever be our hardest most rewarding achievement. But we have lost sight of how to do it and have been blinded by today’s world sucking us in to it’s social media fast paced agenda. And I will tell you that my life experience on this subject spans over nearly 31 years of child rearing (my kids were pretty spaced apart) and I have seen first hand all these many changes and what it has affected. There were no cell phones when I started having kids and even when they manifested on to our daily lives they were just phones you could TALK on and were HUGE lol!! So it was basically a home phone you could take everywhere…nothing like what they have become today.
Do me a favor…take a day to notice, really pay attention to how much you, your kids and the people in your life are on their phones. We have become so immune to it that I don’t think anyone really sees HOW MANY HOURS we spend scrolling and not engaging in LIFE. I have a feeling you will be shocked. ***This is MY goofy kids on THEIR phones laughing about snap chat filters 😉
We moved to Tennessee as most of you know for almost 3 years and after we moved there I decided it was time for me to get on social media to be able to connect more freely with everyone at home. It definitely provided a forum for us to stay close all day every day in a way you could have never done in MY childhood. THAT is an example of change doing good. Facetime??? Just the most amazing thing when you live far away from the people you love. Again, technology that has a wonderful place. Look how amazing it has been with the military and their families. Our precious men serving have been able to experience their children being born….just incredible.
I personally do not think we have done enough to control all the bad in social media. Look at all the recent incidents with Facebook and all the hacking going on. Our PRIVACY????? It makes me ill to think that you will see the disappearance of this in our lifetime. And I promise you, you won’t appreciate privacy until its gone.
Privacy, social media, respect, discipline, schools, sports, deciding to have kids and values, are some of the many subjects concerning our precious youth I will be writing about in upcoming chapters.
I hope you will keep an open mind and maybe begin to see what I see. We are so blessed to know there are still many wonderful young people out there doing good and being lead with love, discipline and guidance. I think it is our job to get the rest down the right path and we can surely do that if we open our eyes and see, really see what they are silently crying out for. And guess what? It’s pretty easy. We just need to take the time to SEE it and DO it….because let’s face it they ARE WORTH IT 🙂
After my husband’s health issues, as many of you know, I decided to change our lifestyle and educate myself in heart health and label reading. It is ASTONISHING what is in our foods. Especially the HIGH amounts of sodium (please refer to the Sodium Epidemic article on my blog). I set out to create recipes low in sodium but high in flavor. I am a HUGE fan of chicken soup and wanted to continue to make it for my family but with a healthy version. I feel there is nothing more therapeutic than a day of stock and soup making…just makes me happy and the house smells amazing!!! So here is the beginning of your soup making day and I will also include my soup recipe in another post. Enjoy 🙂
You will need:
1-1/2 -2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
(Wash vegetables thoroughly and cut into large pieces, like 3rds or quarters include scraps and tops and bottoms)
2-3 large carrots
whole celery base and tops (save stalks for soup)
2 large yellow onions quartered leave skins on
1 or 2 whole unpeeled heads of garlic cut in half (use 2 if you like more garlic flavor)
2 tsp whole peppercorns
(herbs…sometimes I use fresh sometimes I don’t, depends on what I have on hand. I’ve included measurements for dried herbs but if you have fresh feel free to substitute :))
1-1/2 tsp basil
1-1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1-1/2 tsp rosemary
3 TBS unsalted butter
1/4 c olive oil
Put all ingredients in stock pot and cover in water (wash hands thoroughly after handling chicken) Put on high heat until it comes to a boil then drop to low heat and let simmer for at least 2 hours (you can let it simmer for up to 4 hours)…checking periodically to avoid boil overs. You can gently stir once an hour if you’d like.
Remove from heat and let cool for 30 min. With a large slotted spoon remove veggies and chicken from the pot and set aside. Run the remaining stock thru a strainer with a paper towel lining the bottom into another large pot. I save the chicken pieces to use for my soup (discard the rest)… shred chicken into smaller pieces and put to the side. If you aren’t going right into soup making refrigerate or freeze the stock and the chicken.
Also, you may add 2 quarter pieces of lemon to the pot while cooking if you like a little zingy tang of lemon with your chicken soup/stock.
You can put stock into containers and freeze for future use. It freezes well.
This is a really different apple crisp recipe but I love it! You get a little crunch and zing from the pomegranate seeds along with the rich sweetness of the apples and crisp topping. I am always pushed into the mood to make apple pie or crisp when I have those extra apples left in the produce drawer that no one wants to bother eating because they aren’t perfect. 😦 So, I tend to make apple recipes with a mix of different types of apples on their last leg and it hasn’t failed me yet! I REALLY hate wasting food, so sometimes I create great recipes because of it….win-win! 🙂
You will need:
8 cups of peeled, cored and sliced apples (any kind you prefer)
1 cup of pomegranate seeds (save a little for garnish)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup uncooked oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp of nutmeg or a cinnamon nutmeg spice blend
1-1/2 sticks salted butter softened (can also use unsalted butter or a mix of)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees…
Grease a 13×9 baking dish then add apples. Drizzle lemon juice over the apples and stir to coat. Add approx 3/4 cup of the pomegranate seeds (put the rest to the side for serving) and stir again.
In a large mixing bowl mix remaining ingredients until well blended (a pastry blender works well if you have one)
Sprinkle mix evenly over apples and bake approx. 1 hour or until crisp is golden and bubbly and apples are tender.
Let cool at least 15 min. Serve warm with ice cream, whipped topping or a topping you prefer and sprinkle with remaining pomegranate seeds. Refrigerate leftovers.
“Enter His gates with Thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” Psalm 100:4
Every year is the same as the last. I know Thanksgiving is coming but as it gets closer the same panic ensues thru me. It’s accompanied by excitement and just a sheer love of the holiday but the fear of not pulling it all together in time seems to always take over.
Although, I have to admit I have gotten much better over the years and in my “older” age of chilling a little more and just basically learning to suck it up and work around the challenges.. I have also in all my many years of entertaining learned what works and what doesn’t…and those of you who know me, know I LOVE to share my tips and knowledge! LOL!
Honestly, it took a lot of mess-ups and hard embarrassing lessons learned to come to where I am today. Hopefully, by me taking the time to share it all with you, it will save YOU all the blood sweat and tears and mistake making over your years of entertaining (although I will say the best ideas sometimes come out of the worst mistakes). 🙂
Usually, a few weeks before I stand in the middle of my house and say…”How in the WORLD am I going to pull this disaster together?”. My house is VERY lived in, to say the least. I have the usual clutter and scatter everywhere… bills and junk mail on my tables, shoes and coats lying around, toothpaste in every sink, cob webs hanging in the worst places, toys, unorganized drawers and cupboards, laundry piles in every room BUT the laundry room, all the usual suspects… and most definitely not an atmosphere for overnight guests or entertaining!
So, unless you are one of those people who are “super hero” organized you are probably in the same boat as me. I would like to share with you the things I do to prepare, that make it even POSSIBLE for me to pull off any event I host.
First, your planning cannot start far enough ahead of time. My motto is… “If it CAN be done ahead…DO IT!” Look at how much time most of us put into gift buying for Christmas…most start at least a month ahead. Yet when it comes to entertaining we start pulling it all together the week before…BIG mistake. I always envy those people who can pull an event together at the last minute…that’s not me! haha
4-6 weeks before Thanksgiving I like to think about the guest list and extend invitations. Most people have more than one place to visit for this holiday so you want to make it easier for them to schedule it all in. Once I have an idea of how many are coming then I can start really planning. I also become OBSESSED with cookbooks and cooking shows. Gets me motivated, inspired, and even more excited! And sometimes some great recipe ideas!
Lists…lists…lists!!! They are my life’s blood! I use them everyday of my life…and it’s not just because I’m getting older lol I have been using this system since high school. Every night before I go to bed I make a list for the next day of all that I want to accomplish. Now this doesn’t mean I will accomplish it all, but it gives me a “goal” sheet and a reminder of what I need to get done.
Approximately 3-4 weeks before my lists will begin. They get changed quite often, adjusted, and scribbled on throughout this process but it’s all for a great cause!**See? Piles of lists and scribbles lol 🙂 It works! (For me anyway :))
I have different categories I create lists for…
MENU- I list all that I would like to serve then after I have spoken with all my guests to find out what they are bringing I make adjustments and mark what I am responsible for making.
-GUEST LIST- this is very important if you have a larger group. Not only do you not want to forget anyone but when you do your tablesettings and seating you need an accurate number. I also separate this list by who will be attending dinner, who will be visiting later for dessert, and how many children for the children’s table.
-SHOPPING LIST- This is HUGE! There is nothing worse than going to cook the day of and realizing you forgot something at the store! This is not something you want to “wing”. I also like to shop early. No later than the Tuesday before. You need the extra time for getting the house ready and leeway for forgotten items. You also want to do as much food prep as possible. Shopping early allows you to have your refrigerator organized and have all your chopping and slicing etc. done and ready for cooking.
-TO DO- My tried and true favorite. This is my everyday list but I make a separate one when I entertain. I do a weekly “to do” up to the week before then it’s daily. The list you make for the Wednesday before is the most important. Your goal here is to be so organized by Thursday that everything just sails! Remember???…. “IF IT CAN BE DONE AHEAD.. DO IT!” EVERY single thing that CAN be done before Thursday SHOULD be done. It is truly a great way to be any kind of organized.
-TABLESETTING/BUFFET- Another crucial list especially if you have to create seating for more than what you use everyday. When you have a dining room that normally seats 6 and you decide to host 25 guests for Thanksgiving its going to take some planning and rearranging. Most of us don’t have one room that can seat this many so it will take some creativity to make things comfortable for your guests. Every home is different and I have always believed where there is a will there is a way and the more the merrier!!! Also included on this list is your buffet layout. I always feel better taking the time to do this one. It basically helps you day of, to set up your food in an organized quick way because you did all the thinking about it ahead of time. Think about where you will put beverages, desserts, food, etc. I like to keep these items separated. It makes things flow better. I usually have an area maybe in the dining room for adult beverages, and another area maybe in the kitchen for all other beverages, coffee, pop, etc. This will keep the kiddos away from the adult libations lol!
Now, these are the lists I prefer but you can always come up with categories that best fit what you need to accomplish.
A few weeks before when I can find the time I start to clean and organize the areas of the house that can’t be “re-messed” up before our big day. Maybe the guest bathroom cupboards, dusting down all the cobwebs, the frig, these types of tasks. Weekend before is when I do things like wipe down all the dining chairs, start to arrange things, even set all the tables if you have the room and can swing it, dust, put up any remaining decorations, do an inventory of dishes, flatware, glassware, etc. and make sure it’s freshly cleaned.
I personally could not pull this off without taking the Wednesday off before. I worship those who can. Maybe you should give me YOUR tips!! But, seriously that is the day I don’t leave the house! I get all the tables set, all my platters and serving utensils out and organized, bake all my pies, do all my food prep and have it in baggies ready to go, do a last inventory of ingredients and beverages, make sure all my place cards are written out and correct, check ice supply and make sure beverages are in frig and beverage areas are set up, clean the bathrooms, replace linens if I am having overnight guests, vacuum, set up turkey roaster and have all non perishable ingredients out on counter, do just a general straightening up and then threaten my family with bodily harm if they even think of touching ANYTHING! 🙂 No, Really….
Then there is the day of… if all goes well this will be stress free. I get up early and make a big pot of coffee, put on the cooking shows, (for some reason this calms me) and get started. I sometimes make an extra list if I have time of what I am cooking and in what order and I mark them off as I go. Just helps me along so I don’t get off track. Then when I get it all going I go get myself together and “beautified”… fluff up my special Thanksgiving apron, (Which by the way, I wear the same apron every year, stains and all!!) and get ready to get this party started! You will always have guests who come earlier than dinnertime so I like to be pulled together as early as possible.
It truly is the funniest thing… as soon as I get that meal served and everyone is situated and enjoying each other I literally feel the world lifted off my shoulders. It’s like when you give birth and you FINALLY push that baby out you get this huge sense of relief and you feel so relaxed (some of you may think that is a strange comparison!) 🙂 ..THAT’S all of a sudden when I don’t care about my house, cob webs, junk mail, toothpaste filled sinks, laundry piles, dust, dirt, or grime, I only care about looking around at happy faces, full bellies, laughter, love, and family and friends…..well, and the smell of pumpkin spice and turkey… And… all I feel is THANKFUL and it was ALL worth it. 🙂
Happy Thanksgiving to you all and I hope this helps you make YOUR “day of” a special, blessed, success! 🙂
My go-to is most definitely chicken thighs. It is the easiest most delicious part of the chicken to make in my opinion. You literally can’t mess them up….well, I guess you could, but it would be really hard to! They are almost no-fail and just so yummy! With our busy schedule I like to make ahead and throw it in the oven. All this needs is a salad or some veggies on the side. I didn’t set out to make this “spicy” but it just kinda went that way lol. My husband wasn’t complaining! This dish is probably medium heat as is but it would be easy to make it hotter or cool it down. Enjoy!
You will need:
Approx 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 28oz can Hunts No Salt Added crushed tomatoes (save can for tomato water)
1 24oz jar Great Value Salsa Verde Medium (Available at Wal-Mart)
2 medium- large yellow onions sliced
2 bags natural whole grain boil in bag brown rice (uncooked)
1 tsp garlic powder (I prefer Simply Organic Brand spices in my recipes)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tsp Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic
1-1/2 tsp Tastefully Simple Rustic Herb Spice Blend
Approx 3/4 cup tomato water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Spray a 13×9 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 of the can of crushed tomatoes across the bottom of the dish…. follow with 1/3 of the Verde Salsa, 1/2 of the sliced onions, 1 bag of the rice, and 1/2 of all the spices. Next place all the chicken thighs in a single layer. Repeat layer number one over chicken with remaining ingredients except for tomato water and olive oil. Press rice gently into last layer over the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil. Pour 3/4 cup of water into empty crushed tomato can and give it a swirl. Pour tomato water over entire dish.
You will save remaining Verde Salsa for serving. If you want to turn down the heat reduce amount of salsa and pepper flakes. If you want to turn it up increase pepper flakes.
Cover with foil and bake at 375′ for approx. 2-3 hours until it reaches an internal temp of at least 170 degrees and the rice is cooked. Let dish set covered out of oven for at least 15 min before serving.
I am so excited about this recipe!! I have been wanting to work on it for a while now. I eat avocado with my eggs every morning and my son says.. ” Mom you should make a recipe that puts this all together.. our 2 favorite foods in one!” He was so right!! It was worth waiting for and its a Healthy Selection too! Enjoy! 🙂
You will need:
2 ripened avocados cubed
1 lime for zest and juice
6 hard boiled eggs peeled and sliced
1/2 c red onion diced (dice a little more for garnish)
1/2 c Kraft Olive Oil Mayo
1/4 c sliced black olives (slice up a little more for garnish)
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp basil (I used organic dried but fresh is good too just use a little more)
3/4 tsp dill (again I used dried)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper (add more if you are a pepper person)
1/2 tsp salt (optional…I try to not use added salt in my recipes)
In a medium bowl put cubed avocado, about a 1/4 tsp of lime zest and the juice of half the lime and gently stir just to coat….we don’t want guacamole!! 🙂
Add the sliced boiled eggs, red onion, and all spices. Fold gently just to coat it all with the spices. Add mayo and black olives and again gently stir until all is blended. Garnish with more dill, red onion, and black olives. (Salad is better if you let it marinate at least 15 min in frig)
Scoop onto lettuce or into a tortilla. It’s also good on any bread or just by itself!
With the mayo and the lime juice this salad lasts up to 2 days refrigerator then the browning of the avocado begins. Recipe can be doubled or more for more servings. This recipe serves approx. 4.
It’s funny… when you start planning your family you always have different views and plans then when the family is actually here and going full force. We planned on having two…just two. We were going to magically produce a boy and a girl and be all done. Space them out by about 3 or 4 years and continue on with all our perfectly laid out plans. Well… God lets us know that we aren’t in control and He will bless us with what HE’S planned and what we need. So, baby number one came, a monstrous 9lbs 4oz and we couldn’t have been more thrilled. That boy was the center of the universe for 4 yrs! First grandchild on both sides and our first born. Spoiled isn’t even the word!
Then we decided to go for that girl. No problem! Remember.. we had our whole life planned! We went for the ultrasound and lo and behold found out we were having…… a BOY!!!! What????? Wait… a boy? How is this possible? That’s not the way it was supposed to go…BOY-GIRL..in that order. Mmmmmmmmmmm.. well… if he’s as amazing as his brother we will be very blessed. And I proceeded to scold myself for my selfishness and lack of gratefulness for even being ABLE to be pregnant and have a healthy baby. Shame on me. Then… we became very excited about our impending “boy world” and started planning.
Here came baby number two…another whopping boy at 9lbs 2oz and he melted our hearts just like his brother…and “girl” never even crossed our minds.
Another four years went by and I started to remind myself of the days I swore I wanted 6 kids. I wanted a big house in a suburban neighborhood and I wanted to be a stay-at-home-Mom. I guess you could call me a habitual planner. I mean.. how can life move on without many well laid plans? 🙂
We then made the decision to add to our family. We made our minds up that if we had more boys, we were more than good with it… the ones we had were the BEST and more of them would be awesome! But, if the girl came along that would be pretty amazing too.
So, as the boys acted like normal siblings and were at each other’s throats most of the time, we became pregnant with baby number three. We were petrified of the impending reality that we would, as parents, soon be outnumbered.
Then…whadayaknow??? Ultrasound came back… GIRL!!!! Whoa! I think we were in complete shock for weeks! We had kind of gotten it in our heads that we were going to breed a brood of boys and here came our first little princess.
So, long story short, the little princess ruled the kingdom for 7 years and her brothers learned to accept it….well, maybe. Then, God decided to change our world a little more and bless us with a little SURPRISE! We gave birth to princess number two 8 YEARS.. yes.. 8 YEARS after princess number one. WOW… 2 boys, 2 girls.. perfect. And guess what? We DIDIN’T plan it! 🙂
Years went by and life went on. We raised our babies the best we could. Far from perfect but our hearts were always in it. Our kids ALWAYS came first. We look back, of course, and wish we would have done some things different…who doesn’t? But, even though we WEREN’T perfect, we have some pretty amazing kids and we are very grateful and thank God everyday.
Our relationships with our kids are pretty stereotypical. We have Mama’s boys and Daddy’s girls. But, we are very tight as a whole and humor is how we roll. Wow…that rhymed!!! 🙂 Anyway, our goofiness is just what we ARE and I treasure it. You should really catch one of our family holidays if you ever have the chance. 🙂
So, as the kids attended college and then started their careers I honestly never thought past the sports, putting them through college and them becoming professionals. We were early on blessed with a beautiful grandson when our oldest son was 20.. another one of God’s plans…see?? HE is in control. We really never thought past anything that wasn’t going on at those moments. Boy…was that a big mistake. I am hoping all you young and aspiring parents out there will take a listen to this old experienced one and maybe consider my advice. Been there…done that… and have the battle wounds to prove it! 🙂
Our youngest son started dating a girl from high school that he was fixed up with at the school where they BOTH worked as teachers. Everyone could see they were perfect for each other and it became very obvious very quickly that they were meant to be. I knew it the very first time I met her.
As most of you know…my husband became very sick a little over a year ago and almost died and has had a long road back to where he is today. Sooooooo thankful. So, my parenting focus was lacking for a good year and there were many things that didn’t cross my mind as our older and grown children began to evolve into functioning mature adults. I was basically letting things pass me by because my husband needed me and that “Mama way” of planning that I based my whole existence on for so many years began to fail and I would soon feel it’s effects.
You’re buying a ring??? What?? Marriage?? Ahhhhhhhhhh… wait… you are how old??? Ummmmmmmm… don’t we have much more time before that happens?
NOPE.. Mama you don’t. I slowly realized that I wasn’t paying attention or “planning” and now my baby boy was GETTING MARRIED!
With 3 kid’s college expenses already consuming our finances and my husband’s illness we were not prepared AT ALL to help plan a wedding. In addition we decided to move back home from Tennessee to be closer to our family. To put it mildly, a wedding was nothing we were even remotely prepared for and I am almost embarrassed to say so.
We helped the best we could and thankfully my son and his fiancé and her wonderful parents picked up the rest.
And through all their wonderful help, our son became very close with them. They were there when we couldn’t be, physically and financially and as GRATEFUL as we were and are, we started to struggle with, in our minds, losing our baby boy….to his new bride AND his new parents.
So…we were almost to the big day. The happy couple bought their first house…we were so proud…and we helped in anyway we could. Everyday our son would tell us of all the things his future in laws bought and did and as much as we tried to stand back and be happy…and really just grateful, we continued to feel inferior and hurt that we weren’t able to do more. And really just felt more and more like we were losing him to them a little more each day.
It seems almost childish, doesn’t it? And why I didn’t see that sooner I don’t understand. But.. God saw I needed some adjusting as He always does, and I got it the night of the Rehearsal Dinner.
As my son stood up at the alter and giggled as he took his fiancés hand while we practiced the ceremony, God spoke to me by showing me at that moment how LUCKY and BLESSED we are. By showing us in seconds how ridiculous all these feelings we were having were and that we were NOT losing our baby boy…we were gaining wonderful, giving, generous people who love our son and would do anything for him. And, we already knew we were gaining another daughter who makes our baby boy happy and sees him as a man, a provider, and the future father of her children. And thank GOD they found our son and were ABLE to make him happy and secure. We realized instantly that these people and our new daughter-in-law were sent to us as a gift and we finally felt the blessing and I thanked God over and over and asked forgiveness for not seeing it all along. And, I also had a new empathy for how MY mother-in-law must have felt when I came in and infringed on her world with her baby boy.
You see… you DON”T lose your little boy, or your son, or even the man he has become. You can now stare at the marvel of what you created with all your good parenting, bad parenting, his hard work, God, and the compliment and addition of his new beautiful wife and her wonderful parents. We have only GAINED, and as with all our children are SO proud of what they are and what they will become. And guess what??? WE didn’t plan a bit of it 🙂