Three times a week I go into local after school programs and teach an hour long STEM or character building class to elementary or junior high age children. It’s just enough time to get me out of the house and give me an opportunity to utilize all the curriculum I’ve written or hoarded over the years. In my Take a Break course we make items such as bath salts, body scrubs, or lip balms while discussing and doing activities related to a character building focus word. This week we made body scrubs and discussed responsibility.
We began by discussing what the word responsibility meant and then I had each child name something he or she was responsible for. These were fourth graders so I got everything from “call my mom when I get to my friends house,” to “try not to be crazy.” I then turned the focus onto making responsible decisions. I gave a scenario in which I chose to not feed my dog anymore and asked the children who would be affected by my decision. They named my husband because it was his dog too, the dog because they like to eat, and the mayor because, “he probably likes dogs.” They understood the concept so I moved onto a real world example, for which I had an experience earlier in the week that fit in perfectly.
As I was checking out at Big Lots on Monday I turned to look at the door just in time to see a man with a beanie pulled down low and a shirt collar turned up high pick up the stereo speakers in his cart, briskly walk through the front doors and run to a car in the parking lot waiting with the door open. He threw the box in first and jumped into the already moving car and they were gone. It happened so fast that I did not register what actually happened until I saw three employees frantically asking one another if anyone got the license plate number. I turned back in disbelief to the woman who had been ringing me up and she said, “It’s people that do things like that make prices go up.”
In theory I had always understood this concept but it affected me differently. Because I watched it happen and I saw the person who made the decision to take something without paying for it. That one selfish act, and many others like are one of the reasons prices keep going up and up. I then asked the students, “Who was affected by this man’s bad decision?” I was pleased to hear them all say, “Everyone!” They got it! (mental fist pump) There is nothing more satisfying then knowing children understand a concept and how it applies in real life. I told the students that I hoped they always stopped to think first about who might be affected when tempted to make a bad decision. I hope they remember. I also hope and pray that man has a change of heart and chooses a different way of making money or attaining electronics.
The Heart Shaped Soft Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
The above picture is my first batch of these cookies. You’ll notice empty space where a cookie was before I decided I needed to eat one right then. I regret nothing. I made them on a Friday and they were all gone by Sunday. They were soft and fluffy and everything I want in a sugar cookie. Obviously the sugary cream cheese frosting really brings things together but I did eat a plain one as well and they taste fantastic.
Beef Chimichangas (GF using corn tortillas)
Because it was a holiday and we were feeling fancy we used shredded roast beef for this recipe instead of ground beef. I just dumped all the seasonings into the slow cooker with the beef and when it came time all we had to do what shred the meat and fill the tortillas. We did leave out the refried beans as well but I imagine those would be yummy. Also I won’t lie, the corn tortillas made this tricky. They are small and break apart easily if they are not warm enough when you fill them so heat them up first! We will definitely be making this recipe again. It would even make great filling for tacos or enchiladas.
Below the dinners I hope you’ll be thrilled to see a Snacks & Sweets section. We usually have a dessert with Sunday dinners and I make a treat on Friday or Saturday. Some of the recipes in this section I already absolutely love, and some I have yet to try. Some are guilt free and some are reserved for cheat days, which tend to be Saturday and Sunday for me. Happy snacking!
*-Tried and true family favorite.
GF- Gluten free
B4D-Breakfast for Dinner (There isn’t lot of time in the mornings and we love breakfast food so we eat it for dinner instead)
CP-Crockpot/Slow Cooker recipe
YoYo- You’re on your own. (Because I don’t believe that someone should have to cook every day of the week)
Not sold on meal planning yet? Check out my crash course guide and I’ll have you convinced!
Sheet Pan Eggplant Parmesan / Buttered Garlic Noodles
Chicken Tikka Masala(GF) / Rice / Peas
We love Indian food around here but I I definitely haven’t mastered any recipes yet. My friend told me about a genius cheat that I can’t wait to try. Trader Joe’s has Tikka Masala Sauce and she told me to just dump some chicken into a slow cooker and pour the sauce over the top. Garnish with cilantro and easy peasy Indian dinner on the table.
Slow Cooker Chicken Cordon Bleu Soup / GF Cornbread
*Momma’s Clam Chowder / GF Texas Roadhouse-Style Rolls
I asked for this every birthday dinner growing up. I love my momma’s clam chowder. It makes a large quantity so we half the recipe.
1 c chopped onion 3 c chopped potatoes
2 c chopped celery 4 cans chopped clams
3/4 c butter 3/4 c flour ( GF use white rice flour)
1 qt. half and half 1 1/2 tsp salt
salt to taste 1/2 tsp sugar (1/4 tsp Stevia)
Put clams and vegetables in a large sauce pan. Add enough water to cover and cook until tender. Melt butter and mix with flour. Blend and cook 2 minutes, then stir in veggies. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and simmer 1-2 hours. You can always add milk if it gets too thick. Top with shredded cheese.
*Grilled Pork Chops (GF) / *Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa (GF_
We use this Marinated Baked Pork Chops recipe and then grill the chops. Instead of brown sugar, I substitute Stevia.
Did you know you can buy pizza crust from Papa Murphys? They are super cheap, so if I don’t feel like making the crust we just pick the dough up there and make pizzas at home. I’m hoping they have a gluten free one by now, if not I’ll have to make my own. Our favorite is chicken Alfredo pizza. I throw a couple pieces of chicken in the slow cooker with garlic, salt, pepper, and Italian seasonings about four hours before I need to make the pizzas. If I’m feeling really fancy I’ll whip up the sauce myself but I mostly just buy some Ragu and call it good. We layer the sauce on the crust, shred the chicken, add that and smother it with mozzarella. Sprinkle Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese on the top. If you want to go all out add some tomatoes and bacon. YUM.
*Slow Cooker Balsamic Shredded Beef(GF) / Mashed Potatoes / Steamed Carrots
B4D- Easy Lemon Blueberry Drop Biscuits(GF flour blend) / Spinach Egg & Cheese Omelettes
B4D – GF Waffles / Ham Quiche Cups (GF)
This waffle recipe comes from the How to Cook Gluten Free by Elizabeth Barbone cookbook. We still haven’t found a homemade GF waffle recipe we love so we keep moving on to the next one we find.
1 c white rice flour 1/2 c cornstarch
1/4 c sweet rice flour 1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp granulated sugar 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum 2 large eggs
1 1/4 c milk 1/4 c vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
in a medium bowl whisk together dry ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry. Blend with a whisk or handheld mixer until smooth. Spray waffle iron with nonstick spray.
Snacks & Sweets
I finally found a GF chocolate chip cookie recipe that doesn’t make me feel like I’m still missing out! There are different varieties besides chocolate chip for you to try too!
Easy Herb Crackers
This also comes from my Elizabeth Barbone cookbook
3/4 c white rice flour 1/2 c sweet rice flour
1 tsp chopped fresh herbs (1/2 if dried) 1/2-1 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 c unsalted butter softened 1 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg 1-2 tbsp milk (optional)
In a small bowl whisk dry ingredients. Cream the butter and cheese in a medium bowl until a thick paste forms, about 1 minute. If using a stand mixer with the flat paddle attachment beat on medium speed. Add egg and beat until light fluffy. Add the flour mixer and turn the mixer back onto medium-low. Blend until the dough comes together. It should be thick but not dry. IF the dough is dry add the milk.
Generously sprinkle your counter top with white rice flour. Turn out the dough onto the counter and roll into a log about 10 inches long. Wrap the dough tightly with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours. Adjust rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the dough into rounds about 1/4 inch thick and lay them flat on the baking sheet. If the dough crumbles when you cut it, simply squeeze it back together on the baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the crackers are lightly browned. Allow to cool on the pan for 3 minutes and transfer to a wire rack
What sounds good to you? Comment below!