Wednesday, February 26, 2014

spinach cannellini bean dip

this might be my new favorite dip.
it's very close to a hummus but smoother and none of the usual suspects.
it's got tons of spinach, cannellini beans, basil, and olive oil...all healthy!
my toddlers gobbled it up, and honestly? i had a hard time keeping my spoon out of it either!

Spinach Cannellini Bean Dip
Makes about 2 cups
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup packed basil leaves, rinsed and patted dry
2 cups packed spinach leaves, rinsed and patted dry
1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, depending on how "loose" you want it
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste

Aaaaaand blend until smooth!  Easy as that!
Serve with carrot sticks, toasted pita points, or spread on a tortilla with some chicken for a roll-up!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

chia seed drink

what is chia?
let's begin there :)

chia is:
Salvia hispanica, commonly known as chia, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, Lamiaceae, native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. The 16th-century Codex Mendoza provides evidence that it was cultivated by the Aztec in pre-Columbian times; economic historians have suggested it was as important as maize as a food crop. It is still used in Mexico and Guatemala, sometimes with the seeds ground or with whole seeds used for nutritious drinks and as a food source.
Chia is grown commercially for its seed, a food that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, since the seeds yield 25–30% extractable oil, including α-linolenic acid (ALA). Of total fat, the composition of the oil can be 55%, 18%, 6%, and 10% saturated fat.
Chia seeds are typically small ovals with a diameter of about 1 mm (0.039 in). They are mottle-colored with brown, gray, black and white. The seeds are hydrophilic, absorbing up to 12 times their weight in liquid when soaked. While soaking, the seeds develop a mucilaginous gel-like coating that gives chia-based beverages a distinctive texture.

make sense? :)

all i know is that these little babies are crazy healthy for you, full of omega-3s and full of fiber!
they hold a ton of water and help keep you hydrated.
and when mixed into a drink, like our recipe today, they become a delicious, nutritious snack!

Chia Seed Drink
Makes 2 cups, enough for 2 people, generally
1 cup warm water
3 tablespoons chia seed
1 cup fruit juice of your choice (i prefer to juice something fresh with our handy dandy juicer! even healthier!)

Combine chia seeds and warm water and stir to combine.  You want all the seeds to be suspended in the water.  Cover and refrigerate for 4-24 hours.
Then, add your juice of choice and stir to combine.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

toddler meals!

let's have some fun today, eh?
toddler can be notoriously picky.
mine are pretty good eaters but it's still fun for a stay-at-home momma to exert her creativity sometimes!
hope you and your littles enjoy!

these are from valentine's day!

who says hearts are for girls? ;)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

our monthly menu

a lot of people have asked me recently and in the past how we plan our menus.
monthly? weekly? fly by the seat of our pants?
and grocery shopping?  how does that fit in?
are you on a budget?
all very good questions that i thought i'd address!

we plan a monthly menu and shop every week.
yes, we are on a budget.
this budget includes date nights and "emergency" nights.  i.e. mommy is too tired too cook.
but our budget is somewhat flexible right now so if something looks especially tasty at the farmer's market, i don't hesitate.
that being said, as you'll see below, we do not eat steak and lobster every night.

anyway, back to the planning.
i don't like repeating recipes so at the end of every month, i sit down and think out new recipes/ideas to change old recipes and fill in the days on a blank calendar.  i fill in when mike is going to be late (maybe a meat-free meal for the boys and i) or when we have a church function, date, or etc.
then, i bug mike until he tells me what he'd like to see on the menu for the month and fill in the remaining holes.

but you know what? life happens, people!
as you can see by the above calendar from this past summer *can you see it? iphone pic...sorry*, sometimes you just aren't feeling what you've got down.
or you aren't feeling it that night so you switch it up for a different meal during that same week.
or your hubby works late and it's grilled cheeses for me and the kids!
or his work schedules an expected (mandatory) spouse's meeting.
but, if you move it around and substitute a few things, your groceries don't need to change (too much) and you can still have whatever you happen to be craving that night.
make sense?

in general, we do have a pattern:
i do some sort of chicken dish every week.  and i make a lot.
this could be braised chicken, roast chicken, or grilled chicken.
then, that night after dinner, i divide the leftover chicken into lunches for mike the next day and shred some of the chicken into bite size pieces to use in another dish that week.  (he usually gets the dark meat and i use the white meat for round 2 meals...)
i take all the chicken off the bones and save the bones in the fridge for homemade stock for soup that will inevitably be simmering later in the week.

later in the week, i plan for a dish that involves said leftover chicken.  this could be a chicken salad, chicken enchiladas, or a pizza featuring chicken.
it also could be included in a third meal, like in that week's soup, if i have enough, like tortilla soup or chicken noodle soup.
we try to include a soup every week.  so healthy and cheap!!  and really, soups only take about a handful of shredded chicken!  if you have more chicken, make double the soup and freeze it for a night that you don't feel like cooking!  soup freezes beautifully.

so, that brings us up to 3/7 meals for the week.
not bad from one package of chicken!

we almost always try to have a salad per week.
it could be a "normal" lettuce salad, like my favorite, or it could be a salad that includes a healthy grain, like black bean quinoa salad.

and then we try to have a(nother) meat-free meal, like fried rice, for balance.
and it's a money-saver!

so, that brings us up to 5/7.

on Sundays, i try to cook a nicer meal.  Sundays are my favorite day of the week so shouldn't they be special? :)
this could be a roast, my hubby's fav.
or a really nice piece of fish.
with leftover roast, minus what i keep aside for his lunches, you can make roast beef sammies or carnitas.
really, the possibilities for leftovers are endless!  i am the queen of turning leftover meat/veggies into something brand new!
probably because i really can't stand traditional leftovers.  luckily, mike doesn't mind, for lunches!

and i haven't even gotten into casseroles!  they are a goldmine for leftover meats and veggies!
and they freeze so beautifully!

let me let you in on a little secret.
this is exactly what i'll be doing in july.
making double the soups and stews and casseroles and freezing the second one for when the new baby comes!
i do this every time and we usually don't have to cook, just add a salad and some cornbread, for a couple months!  it's great!

this type of planning also really helps with your budget.
without going into specifics, having your menu planned out in advance lets you plan your grocery lists in advance too.
that way, you aren't running around without a "plan" and buying things that you are craving instead of things you need.
you can even get very specific and actually just buy the amount you need as well.
but, what i try to do is get a lot of something that is really on sale and the amount i need of something that isn't.
does that make sense?
and i always include a "buffer" in my weekly budget for when we run out of things like toilet paper, olive oil, lightbulbs, or etc.

our budget also includes our date nights.
we have a wonderful system worked out with a close family of ours, of switching date nights so that we alternate when we watch each other's kids.
saves on babysitting costs!
and this way, we get at least 2 date nights a month, with free babysitting!
but, foodies are we are, those 2+ date nights have a hefty budget, since we like to try the newest and greatest restaurants in dc and surrounding.
but, you can totally save money but just heading to your local diner and enjoying time with your hubby.
that's the most important part of all, right?
we adore our kids but we both think it's vital for a marriage to spend some time away and adore each other too.

anyway, i hope this post was helpful to someone out there.
it's our system and it really works!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

snow ice cream!

okay, i think awhile back i promised snow ice cream!
and i hope it's not too late for you all to try!

Snow Ice Cream
Makes one serving
2 cups freshly fallen snow (as clean as you can get it!)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup cream (or milk would be fine too)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate syrup and whipped cream, optional

Mix, mix, mix!  As fast as possible to prevent melting :)  Then cover with chocolate syrup and whipped cream and enjoy!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

homeschooling wrap up: january

another great month in the School of DeSa ;)
here's our wrap up!

our Bible story for the month was Creation so we broke it down into the four weeks...
first was the galaxies, stars, planets, etc.
our first letter of the week was O.
each week we add to our letter book with images torn from magazines, papers, etc, and mv gets to glue them in and label!

O is (obviously) for Oreo.

textile letter of the week was O cereal...

and O for Onion rings!

our rotating center in our culture series was The Poles this month!

so, we studied the Inuits...

the Northern Lights...

polars bears with homemade puff paint!

added to our Northern Lights art with some salt outlines of Arctic animals...

learned about how blubber and fat keep whales and polar bears warm in icy water...

and had a major fail trying to build a marshmallow igloo.
but, he didn't really seem to mind too much...

our first felt song of the month was the Gingerbread Man.
so, naturally...

the second week of January, we focused on the Sea and Everything In It!
and our felt song was Deep and Wide!

our letter of the week was P

Popcorn was for the textile letter of the week...

P for Pecan Pie!

...and Pasta and Peas!

and Penguin!

during our third week, we learned about the Land and all the Animals that He made.

and our felt song was Teasing Mr. Alligator!

our letter was Q...

for Q-tips...

...and Quesadillas

and Quiche!

during the third week, we had a major snowstorm so we did a few snow activities...
snow volume experiment and more!

the following week was R week!
for Raisins...


and Raspberries and Red bell pepper, dipped in Ranch!

and the end to our Creation story...Adam and Eve!

another great month!

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