Saturday, February 9, 2013

Baked Potatoes "Reloaded"

We have always been a big leftover family....well, not a big family...well, sort of a big family...but really big on leftovers! My recipes were always tweaked to feed apprxiately four more people than we had at the time--so that we had leftovers for lunch or for "leftover nights" at the end of the week.

One evening when one of my littles did not want to eat their vegetable soup, one of his older siblings said, "You might as well eat it now, or Mom will just have you eat it tomorrow as 'vegetable soup reloaded,'" meaning that I would do something to it and serve it the next day!

Well, such is the case with my "Baked Potatoes 'Reloaded'" tip--except in this "recipe," nobody will ever know that you are "reloading" last night's food.

 Make a ton of baked potatoes on the night that you want to serve them.

1. Clean the potatoes thoroughly and prick them with a fork.
2. Liberally rub each potato with a rub made out of butter and seasonings (we use Mrs. Dash), and place in a large baking pan.
3.  Cover tightly with foil.
4. Bake until tender. {Or cook in crock pot all day!}

The "revisited" part: Put the leftovers in the fridge whole that night in a large ziplock bag. Then a day or more later, slice the baked potatoes thinly and layer in a baking dish with cheese, salt, pepper, and a little cream or half and half. Bake (or microwave) uncovered 'til bubbly. Doesn't take long since potatoes are already baked. Yum!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Crock Pot Wednesday--Chicken Noodle Soup

I told you that last week's chicken and rice soup was the easiest soup I ever make. Then this one is definitely a close second! It is the same concept--use the crock pot to cook the chicken over night. Stir it up to shred it (it shreds that easily in the crock!), cook your noodles in broth, add seasonings, and put back in the crock on warm. 

Here is the unofficial recipe:

Combination of boneless, skinless thighs and breasts (or just one or the other)

Store bought "homemade" noodles

broth (or chicken base to create broth above and beyond the broth created from the cooked chicken)

Seasonings--I used the following: garlic and herb seasoning, parsley, sage, onion powder, garlic powder, dried celery, and Forward (a combination seasoning containing heavy black pepper, paprika...and more...)

1. Cook chicken in large crock pot overnight or all day. 

I always start chicken on high for an hour, so it is really hot then turn it to low for the night. I read somewhere years ago that you shouldn't start chicken on low because it is too low at first, and the chicken could become spoiled--not sure if it's true, but I've always done my chicken this way.

2. Next morning or an hour before dinner: Boil "homemade" noodles in broth until they are al dente

I keep my soup in the crock all day for my teachers to eat out of, so I don't fully cook my pastas; they become too soft if they are completely precooked then kept in a warm crock all day. If you are serving this soup immediately and not putting it back into the crock pot, you might want to fully cook the noodles .

3. Optional: If you like more aromatics in your soup (as opposed to onion powder and garlic powder and dried celery), while the noodles are cooking, stir fry small amount of onion and garlic and lots of celery in butter or olive oil until onions are extremely translucent.

4. While noodles are cooking, take two large serving forks and dig into the chicken and shred it.  

This will go really fast (like two or three minutes) if your chicken is tender and not overcooked. (I cook my chicken for 8 or 10 hours on low after the hour on high, and it is never tough; you could definitely cook it faster on high, if needed.)

5. Once noodles are done cooking, put noodles, broth and all, into the shredded chicken. 

Add the aromatics and the rest of the seasonings. Taste broth and add more base and/or seasonings as needed.

6. Turn on low if noodles were truly al dente and let the flavors mix.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Character Training for Toddlers and Preschoolers--Boundaries, Simple Tastes, and More (partial reprint)

With the closeness of two of our parenting seminars in Indiana and the extremely high interest in training toddlers and preschoolers in character and obedience, I decided to re-run parts of two past posts today. Scroll all the way to the bottom for some other links, as well! And share our blog and FaceBook page with others who might be interested in learning about how to enjoy those years more than ever--from a Christian couple who LOVED ages two to six! Smile...

Question: How can I start some of the character training concepts and habits that you describe with a toddler?

Answer: If you are just starting out with your family and have only a toddler, you have the perfect opportunity to start out right in the character training of your children! I will offer some general tips below, but even more importantly than the “daily ins and outs” of the ideas I recommend, I suggest that you read Parenting Paradigms at this blog (soon to become "Character Training From the Heart"). Even if you take to heart some of the ideas for your little one given in this Q and A, in the end, you will be more successful at character training if you have a firm handle on what you believe about parenting and children.

                                        Toddler Character Training Tips

1. Start adapting the toddler to your schedule and your family’s lifestyle as soon as you can (six to nine months) rather than making your family’s life revolve around the little one’s “wants.” You want to enjoy your toddler within the dynamics that your family already has (with the addition of the joy and wonder that a toddler brings into the family, of course)—as opposed to making everything change to meet unnecessary and often chaotic demands that a toddler who is given his own way all the time can often make.(Check out our important material on discerning wants vs. needs. ALWAYS meet needs--in a timely, loving, and consistent way!)

2. Remember that you are setting the stage right now for your child’s “tastes” (follow us on PP 365 or schedule our seminar for more details about this important concept).

a. You can set his tastes for defiance (allowing screaming, throwing, thrashing, and “no” from him) or submission.

b. You can set his tastes for selfishness and meanness (allowing hitting or other forms of striking, giving in to him when he wants something that someone else has, always making his surroundings whatever he wants (i.e. no bedtime, no sitting in high chair, etc.) due to “fits” or for kindness, gentleness, sweetness, and tenderness.

c. You can set his tastes for hyper-stimulation and activity (too much running; no scheduled down times; television and videos all the time) or for simple things (books, healthy toys, rest, etc.).

d. You can set his tastes to lack focus and not enjoy learning (again, too much video, not starting out with books and simple music; an avalanche of cartoons and children’s programming (some of which are developed in two second bits to keep up with short attention spans, thus, causing kids’ attention spans not to lengthen as they should) or a love for learning (via books, strong family learning, and discussion times, etc.).

3. Decide ahead of time what your “behavior absolutes” are.

a. These are the behaviors or character that you absolutely will not allow in your home. What you allow now will become the “acceptable behaviors” to your child. These seemingly innocent actions include “fibbing,” hitting, running the other way when called, etc.

b. For us, these “behavior absolutes” included talking back (no toddler saying “no” without being punished); lying or deceit; temper tantrums; and striking (hitting, pulling hair, throwing things at someone, etc.). Obviously, we wanted our kids to learn to obey and submit to us and to learn the many character qualities that are crucial to living a Christian life, but these four things were things we never wavered on—and things that we made huge deals out of when they were not adhered to by the toddler/preschooler.

4. Start showing your little one the joy of doing what is right. Contentment in your own life, the blessing of work, the joy of loving God and His people—and all of the character that you want your little one to adopt in his life—love, longsuffering, diligence, responsibility, and more will more likely be realized in our kids’ lives when we ourselves embrace and model them.

5. Try to establish routines that will aid in his character development—bedtimes, rising times, little “chores” (putting his books in his book basket after you read), nap times, meal times, story time, etc.

For more tips on toddlers and babies, click on the links provided below:

Who makes the decisions for the children—starts here and goes for a few days:

Say what you mean—starts here and goes for two days:


Character Training Seminar in Bluffton, IN