Quick and Simple 1 – Pasta and Sauce

Whether a working mom or a stay at home mom, quick and simple dinners are a must for busy days.  Not only does a good simple home cooked meal help the budget, it helps the waistline by not having to eat out!

This was exactly our dinner the other night.  We had fun pasta, picked out by Mr. Caleb himself, a jar of marinara, some meat and a salad.  I’ve mentioned before the awesome authentic Italian grocery store we have in the area.  I like to go with a friend every couple months and stock up on their great products.  This is where I purchase my bulk Italian sausage, breakfast sausage and fresh sliced pepperoni as well as a variety of fun pastas and cheeses.  The Muir Glen Organic Pasta Sauce is something I like to pick up at Sprouts, especially when it’s on sale.  They have a wide variety of flavors and we love all of them.

Here’s my quick and simple dinner:

1/2 lb italian sausage (or meat of choice)
1/2 package of favorite pasta (cooked according to directions)1/2 jar of favorite pasta sauce
Favorite shredded cheese to top
Salad of choice or other vegetable

First cook the pasta according to the package directions.

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While the pasta is cooking, cook your meat of choice.  Once done, drain any excess grease and return the meat to the pan.

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Add the pasta sauce to the meat and continue to heat while the pasta gets done.

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You can mix the pasta and the meat sauce together, but my son usually likes his pasta plain so we don’t mix it.  We choose fresh spinach and a little organic ranch dressing on top and sprinkled some fresh grated Parmesan cheese.  YUM!

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These items are usually staples in our home so that no matter whats going on that day, I can have a good home cooked meal on the table in under 30 minutes.

I’d love to hear what your quick and easy or go to meals are for those busy days?

My 21st Century Life – part 1

Last night I came to a heart breaking conclusion…my baby is not a baby anymore.  Ok, so that might be a little dramatic considering he’s only 2 1/2 years old, but over the past several months we’ve made several transitions from life with a baby / toddler to life with a big boy.

Our first transition was from our crib to our big boy bed.  Since Caleb has a love for all things Cars (Pixar Movie), we bought him a Cars bed.  We quickly learned there was a chance Caleb had not been sleeping through the night in his crib like we thought.

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After a month of no one in the house getting much sleep, we discovered that he “travels” in the bed at night when he sleeps and the cute little Car bed just wasn’t going to cut it.  We’ve since moved on to a full sized bed complete with a headboard and of course Cars bedding.

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As you’ve probably seen in some of my previous posts, we are in the process of adopting another baby.  We’ve continued our transition from baby Caleb to big boy Caleb by removing the rocking chair from his room and adding in his very own dresser (sans the changing table) and yes (no comments please :)) he has a TV where of course he watches his favorite movie Cars 2.  Although I’m pleased to say we are expanding our kids movie likes and now enjoy watching The Incredibles, Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2, and on occasion we can throw in some How to Train Your Dragon.

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Needless to say our “baby” is growing up and mommy is still trying to figure out how to slow time down.  People would always tell me before we had kids that time seems to go by so much faster, a fact I didn’t realize until we had kids of our own.

With all that being said, we are slowing getting things put together for the arrival of baby sister.  Although we’ve been talking about this with Caleb, I’m sure he won’t understand the full meaning of that until she’s actually here.  No new news to report on the adoption front.  Once you are accepted into the program, then comes the waiting.  In the mean time, people are always asking us what they can do to help.  Here’s what you can do.

  • Prayer.  If you are someone who prays, will you pray for us, for our family, for our future birthmom and for the child she is carrying and considering placing for adoption. Pray that our process will go quickly and smoothly.
  • Encouragement. Check-in with us. Help us to remember what the work and wait are for.
  • Financial. We are working to raise $25,000 to cover the costs (agency fees, legal fees, social workers, etc) involved with bringing our daughter into our family.  If you have the financial means to support our adoption, no amount is too small or too big; $5 to $5,000 – any and all funds will help!  100% of your financial support will go toward our adoption costs, thanks to Adopt Together. You can contribute by going to: www.adopttogether.org/babygeiger.  We have partnered with this great organization, Adopt Together, which is a non-profit specifically created to help families like ours raise the funds needed for adoption. They are an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) organization and donations are tax deductible.

We are beyond grateful to all those that have donated and helped us to reach just over $1600.  Such a blessing!!

I love breakfast!!

Breakfast is my most favorite meal of the day. So much so that we try to have breakfast for dinner several times a month. I usually always make some extra to be able to freeze and send to work with my husband so he can enjoy a yummy homemade breakfast.

What I make varies based on what I have in the freezer or just picked up from the store. We have breakfast muffins or casseroles, but this time I wanted to change it up.

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Breakfast burritos are fun and easy and can be made with a wide variety of ingredients. Here’s what I did for this batch.

Ingredients:
10 eggs (I used organic)
3/4 lb Chicken Breakfast Sausage (just discovered this at Trader Joes and it’s wonderful)
1/4 cup or less milk
1/2-1 cup shredded cheese
10 tortillas (normally make homemade, but found some decent ones at Central Marker)
Salt, pepper, dried cilantro; to taste.

Directions:
Cook sausage until just done. Don’t over cook as it will continue to cook with the eggs. Remove from pan and pat away excess grease.
Whisk eggs, milk and seasonings in a bowl.
Add eggs to the pan and begin to cook while adding the sausage. Once done add cheese and stir to mix. I put the lid on and turn the heat down and let the cheese melt while preparing the tortillas.
Slightly warm the tortilla in the microwave. This makes them easier to wrap up. Fill tortilla, wrap in cling wrap and allow to cool before storing in the freezer.

To eat, remove from freezer and thaw over night in the fridge and microwave at 50% for 2-3 minutes. If eating from frozen lessen the temp and increase the cooking time in the microwave.

Hope you enjoy.

Fresh vs Canned

Over the past year I’ve been working to eliminate the amount of items we buy in a can. We’ve all heard about the nasties that can be in aluminum cans that can then get into your food.

My favorite thing I’ve changed is refried beans. Buying beans in bulk is cheaper than reaching for the can and you can control what’s in your food. I’ll share with you how I make my refried beans and then my favorite thing to do with them after.

Here’s what you need:
1 medium onion,peeled and quartered
3 cups dried pinto beans, rinsed
3 garlic cloves,minced
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
7 cups Water

Directions:
Add all ingredients to a crock pot and cook for 8 hours on low. Remove the beans and mash, adding water from the crock pot a little at a time until the beans are as smooth as you like them.

Now for the fun part. I like to take homemade refried beans and make baked bean and cheese taquitos with them.

Take 1 cup of beans and add the following:

1/2 tsp each cumin, chili powder, salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Chopped fresh cilantro

You can use corn or flour tortillas for your taquitos. I had some bigger wheat flour tortillas I needed to use up so I cut mine in half to use. Spread a thin layer of beans and top with shredded cheese. Roll and put in a baking dish. Spray the top with a little olive oil. Bake in the oven on 425 for 15-20 minutes until the tops are crispy. You can serve with salsa, sour cream, guacamole, whatever you like!

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I didn’t get to take a picture of the finished yummy since my family dove right into them 🙂

These can be made in batches and frozen for a quick lunch another day.

I’d love it if you would leave a comment on things that you no longer eat from a can but make homemade!

I’m off to celebrate this week with my family. I’ll be back with you next week!!

http://www.adopttogether.org/babygeiger

Happy birthday mom!

It’s been a couple days since I posted because I’ve been working on a special birthday surprise for my mom.

One of moms guilty pleasures use to be a Hostess Snoball. Since Hostess was bought by another company, the recipe is just not the same. So when I asked mom what she wanted for her birthday,she said a good tasting Snoball was all she needed. So that’s been my goal the last few days to find a comparable homemade recipe.

Although I was able to find several recipes, this is the one I choose. Thanks to From Away for the recipe.

It’s definitely not the marshmallow texture on the outside as the original but the taste is spot on.

Here’s a couple of pictures from my baking process. I had fun making these and can’t wait to share them with my mom. Happy birthday mama!!!

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Adoption News:

We found out this past week that we have officially been accepted into the infant adoption program. We submitted our fee and are now eligible to be matched with a birth mom. What an exciting time for our family.

We have been greatly blessed by the prayers, encouragement and financial support from friends, family and complete strangers. If you would like to read more about our story please see my earlier blog posts or check out our fundraising page.

Adopt Together fundraising

For those celebrating next week from my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!!

A First for Me

My cooking and baking adventures started a little over a year and a half ago when I came home full time with my son. I’m typically a recipe conformist and follow it to a tee. I’ve tried on several occasions to branch out and tweek recipes I find, but they typically end up inedible.

So tonight I took a chance and tried it again…and voila SUCCESS!!!  Here’s what was left of it after my family got a hold of it 🙂

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I happened across a recipe on Facebook today (Original recipe:  https://www.facebook.com/TheNewHot899/photos/a.96216403705.86216.12759833705/10151510794968706/?type=1&fref=nf&pnref=story).  Here is my version I created tonight.

Ingredients:
1 pounds boneless, skinless chicken (I had a package in the freezer that contained a breast and 2 tenders)
1 large russet potato (I cut mine very small using this chopper)
Chopped broccoli (I chopped a partial head of broccoli, you could use froze, but thaw and warm before adding)
Olive oil
salt
black pepper
paprika
garlic powder
hot sauce (I used Frank’s and only in the chicken marinade)

Topping:
Colby jack cheese
Crumbled bacon
Diced green onion

I didn’t include any measurements because I just mixed in ingredients to what my families taste are.  Use your judgement and the likes of those who you are cooking for.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Spray a 9X13″ baking dish with cooking spray. In a bowl mix together the olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder. Add the potatoes and stir together. Scoop out the potatoes and leave the marinade in the bowl.  Bake the potatoes for 30 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes. While the potatoes are cooking, add the cubed chicken to the bowl with the left over olive oil mixture, adding hot sauce to taste, and stir to coat. If your chicken is not coated well, add additional olive oil and spices.  Once the potatoes are fully cooked, remove from the oven and lower the temperature to 400 degrees. Layer the chopped broccoli and then the raw marinated chicken on top of the potatoes. In another bowl mix together the cheese and bacon and cover the chicken.  Top with green onions and return the casserole to the oven.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the topping is bubbly delicious.

I haven’t tried it, but I’m sure this recipe could be further tweeked with different vegetables or maybe even a homemade cream of “something” soup.  Once I started taking the time to read food labels, I haven’t used a can of this stuff in more than a year.  This recipe is fairly simple and can be made with organic ingredients.  Highly recommended, especially for the upcoming holiday season where several family favorite recipes call for this soup.

I’m including a completely random picture of my son.  This made me happy tonight.  There’s nothing cuter than a boy and his dog.  Especially when said boy wants to cuddle with the dog on the dog bed and the dog just wants to go to bed!

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Adoption News:
We got an update today that our fingerprint clearances came back last Friday.  One more step closer to being able to start the matching process to bring home a daughter to add to our little family.  As I’ve mentioned, if you would like to hear about our adoption story or support us during our journey, please click the link.  www.adopttogether.org/babygeiger

So Thankful

We are visiting our second home and family this weekend for our next to last home football game of the season. I was surprised when I realized I hadn’t mentioned this before, but my husband and I are proud members of the Fightin Texas Aggies Classes of ’02 and ’04 (Texas A&M University). We are very proud of our alma mater and we spend a great deal of time there especially now that part of our family lives there as well.

Our Caleb loves to be helpful to others, whether it’s helping mommy make cookies in the kitchen or helping his Gigi feed the dog.

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When we adopted Caleb two and a half years ago, I never realized how truly our lives would be changed. He has such a personality and a kind little heart. A couple weeks ago in his gymnastics class there was a little girl in his class that was very upset and he went to her and gave her a hug and sat with her to comfort and help her feel better. It was such a precious moment.

I think when we get into the holiday season it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of things. But it’s so important especially as a parent to a little one to make sure that we are taking time out to be grateful and thankful. Kids are such sponges that they take in everything they see so it’s important for us to be the best examples they see. Whether that be giving at church or helping/supporting a charity or giving your time and talents to those in need. The lessons they learn early on will carry with them all the rest of their lives.

Every year we work with our church and another church to support an Angel tree. This is a way that we can help out local school children and their families in our community who are in need. This year our family has chosen a little boy the same age as Caleb and I’m looking forward to sharing this with him when we go to purchase clothes and toys for this little boy. I want to instill in him a giving heart and how we can take our many blessings that we have and to bless others.

I’d love to hear from you about any traditions that you and your family have that you do each year.

www.adopttogether.org/babygeiger