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Monday, December 28, 2015

4 Chicken Crockpot Freezer Meals- Gluten & Dairy Free

Crockpot White Chicken Chili
 Freezer Meal
**Gluten & Dairy 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 (leave off to keep dairy free).  Cornbread or tortilla chips are good side.

 Crockpot Chicken Taco Soup 
Freezer Meal

**Gluten & Dairy 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 (optional), shredded cheddar cheese (optional), and/or tortilla chips.

Crockpot Cilantro Lime Chicken 
with Corn and Black Beans
Freezer Meal
**Gluten & Dairy 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. I also make into burritos. 
Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken
Freezer Meal
**Gluten & Dairy 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

Entertaining, or Hospitality?

Anyone else ever binge-watch HGTV while you folded laundry? It can't be just me. Recently aI watched my 4th episode of Fixer Upper, I was struck by the same phrase popping up in almost every episode, 
 "I want to entertain in this house." 
All the Fixer Upper episodes follow a strict formula, so there will of course be a lot of repetition, but this phrase is something I hear in pretty much every other HGTV show.

Entertaining friends is great, I am a big fan. There is nothing wrong with the word or action.
 The problem comes when motivation underlying this word is contrasted 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? 

While thoughtful  preparations can make someone feel loved, is this avenue to entertaining robbing YOU of joy?   If I am slipping into 'Martha Grumbling Mode', instead of seeking what fills others, maybe that is a red flag 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".  

Biblical Hospitality is also not necessarily beautiful, let alone perfect.  It can be ugly, as you seek to authentically share your life and blessings with hurting souls. 

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 the needs of others 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. Pray about how to thoughtfully prepare your house to make others comfortable, without building your ego or wearing out your spirit?  

Hospitality IS NOT about the size of your house
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, and in many cases it's a huge blessing to friends to have a place to meet. In my wish for a bigger house, I am praying that if God wills that we move to a bigger house someday, we use that house for biblical hospitality, not wordly pride-fueled entertaining. 

Thankfully God has been working on me, and showing me how much I can show hospitality in this house.  It never looks like HGTV.

Each week, especially during the summer, we host half a dozen neighborhood kids for hours at a time.  Most of these kids' parents have no idea where they are, and have never met me.  They come from our street, and sometimes several streets away, mostly because 
1.) my kids aren't allowed to go to a strangers' house
 2.) I always have water and Popsicles.

 It is fun that my kids have playmates? Yes. It is comfortable to be the unpaid babysitter to kids who do not have the same boundaries and rules my kids do? No, it is definitely is not.  But this is where we are called.  During this season, my hospitality calling isn't to pretty people sitting at my table,  but to snot covered kids who play on our playground. God put us here for such a time as this to provide a safe space of hospitality, a popsicle ministry.

Hospitality IS about food (sometimes)
My friend Louise says, "Food talks!".  She is very right. Hospitality very often does include food (Thank you Lord for that).  When it does include food, the motivation for a shared meal is so that the person to feels loved and cared for. This can looks a million different ways.

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 necessarily 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. The kids who gather at my house don't care that I buy the cheapest Popsicles, but that I share them. 

I love to cook for others, but that isn't true of everyone.  Does insecurity in your cooking abilities  keep you from trying to bless others?  Hosting friends for delivery pizza or Chinese take-out at your house can be just as (if not more) fun for that tired mom who needs a break ,or lonely single who needs a friend.  Again, 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 the kid who can be too rough with your kids' toys, but needs a caring adult to set loving boundaries...while giving him a Popsicle. 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 by spending quality time with others.  Jesus liked food and wine, but he loved people.  He loved his devoted disciples, single people, married people, sinning people.....pretty much any type of person.

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

    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

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.

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
Gallon sized Ziploc and small Ziploc

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

  1. Place all the ingredients except lasagna noodles in labeled freezer bag:  
  2. Put noodles in small Ziploc bag
  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
Deep Freezer Pie pan
Aluminum Foil

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)

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.
  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
Gallon sized Ziploc bag

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)

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.

  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

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

  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.
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

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

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.

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

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

Homeschooling in the age of the internet is such a blessing.   
There are so many resources available for free, or almost free. 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.  On our daily agenda, I assigned 2 to 3 screens at a time, each lesson has between 10 and 12 screens. After they have finished their assigned screens, they are allowed to play one of the many typing games on the site for ten minutes. 

 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 to twelve 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. 

We spend the very small amount they ask for PDF of the printable materials &  practice MP3s ($20 for 20 lessons), and it is so worth it! They have recently upgrade their site, to where you can pay membership fee for many more practice extras.  So far, we have not felt the need to buy membership, and are still just enjoying the free videos and buys the printed materials each unit. 

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.