Monday, November 7, 2016

A Great Big Tray of Delicious Nachos

I started making these nachos over the summer. I am trying to make some simpler meals that I can pretty much make from memory, and this one fits the bill.

A layer of tortilla chips, seasoned ground beef and refried beans, cheese sauce, and cheese broiled to perfection and then topped with some tomatoes and cilantro! YUM!

Easy peasy. Fairly quick. And delicious.

These are perfect for a family dinner or for an appetizer to share with company. I like to make them on the weekend especially.

Alter the ingredients and toppings to your delight, and you have something your family will enjoy!

A Great Big Tray of Delicious Nachos
Printable Version
1 bag of tortilla chips
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Taco Seasoning (1 t of each: paprika, chili powder, cumin, and salt. 1/4 t of cayenne pepper)
1 can of refried beans
1 jar/can of cheese sauce (I like to use Taco Bell's Salsa Con Queso)
1-2 cups of shredded cheese, your choice
diced tomatoes, optional
chopped cilantro, optional
sour cream, optional

Preheat oven to broil.

Spray a half sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Fill the sheet pan with tortilla chips.

Prepare ground beef:
Sauté beef in a skillet with onion, garlic, and taco seasoning until beef is browned. Drain.

Put ground beef back in the skillet and add the can of refried beans. Cook until it is warmed.

Spread the beef and bean mixture over the tortilla chips on the sheet pan.

Place cheese sauce in the warm skillet and warm through. After it is heated, pour the cheese sauce on top of the beef and bean layer.

Put shredded cheese on top of the other layers and stick in the oven to broil for just a minute or two, until the cheese is melted. This will cook fast so keep your eye on it!

Dress with your choice of toppings. I like tomatoes, cilantro, and sour cream.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Motherhood: Why I Am Treasuring Every Moment

The days are long, but the years are short.

I have heard this.
I have said this.
And these days I am feeling it.

The years are short.
Time is flying.
And these days I feel not only that the years are short, but the days are too!

Life is cruising at maximum speed.
Most everyone I talk to feels the same way.

Schedules are packed.
Activities are endless.
Choices and decisions abound!

Time is happening at warp speed.

This summer my oldest son spent half of his time away from home. He went to a Christian camp for a week, and to the Philippines for a mission trip for three weeks. These experiences, combined with the fact that he is now in his junior year of high school, keep reminding me that my days with him are to be treasured. I missed him tremendously when he was gone this summer, and in two short years, I will be sending him to college, most likely locally, yet I will see him less and less and soon enough, he will move out of my home.

Life happens. It continually happens. It doesn’t slow down and wait for us. It keeps going, keeps moving, and keeps presenting a challenge to us.

Will we treasure the moments we are given?
Will we savor the time with our loved ones?
Will we saturate our lives with thankfulness?

My kids are growing up, rapidly. I don’t want to miss out on the people they are now. I want to appreciate these days, and I am trying to do that.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

As Life Unravels, Remember: God Gives Good Gifts

Recently a decision was made for my family, a decision that brought a lot of confusion, frustration, and disappointment to be frank. It was a decision that was made for one of my children, yet, in the end involves the entire family.

As I analyzed and dissected the decision, it just didn’t make sense. And it hurt.This decision started a myriad of emotions and conversations in my heart that I had to settle and choose to walk away from.

Be still and know that He is God.
Psalm 46:10

In the midst of the confusion and the chaos, I had to step away from the entangled ball of yarn and see beyond it. I had to stop looking at the negative and see what good could come from this decision.

I had to ask myself:
How could this benefit my child?
How could this benefit my family?
How could this benefit the community of which we are a part?
How could God use this in our lives?
And I began to see good things.

I began to see how God could give us greater rest and simplicity through the decision.
I began to see how God could use this situation to bring growth in my child’s life.
I began to see how God sees the whole picture, and we only see a sliver.

In the middle of the entangled mess,
God and His goodness are there.

I admit… Right now, while the decision is fresh, I struggle. My disappointment is real.

YET, I confront that struggle with the reality that God is good and He gives good gifts to His children.

What are you facing right now?
Are you disappointed?
Are you heartbroken or frustrated or confused?

In the midst of your heartache, step away from it,
and ask God to help you see His goodness.

Ask God to help you remember that He loves you and has a plan for your life.

Ask God to help you remember that He does give good gifts,
and He will use your situation for good in your life.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
and comes down from the Father of lights.
James 1:17

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Our Whole30 Experience

Well, it has been a month since we have been off the Whole30 diet. I intended to write this post as soon as we got off the diet, but May is always one of the busiest months of the year for us as we juggle the end of our homeschool year, soccer season, music recitals, birthdays, our anniversary and other parts of life.

What is Whole30? A quick summary…

The basic gist for the Whole 30 is this.
No dairy.
No sugar.
No grains.
No legumes.
For 30 days.
For more specific details, check out the Whole30 web site.

Overall Feelings

Overall, I will say that our Whole30 experience was positive. It was very difficult at times, even though I did get used to it after the first several days. It still was hard to get over the feeling of deprivation and not look forward to some of the things I enjoyed eating.
However, because of the benefits we received, I would say the Whole30 program is a good option for people.

How the Journey Went

Week One was a difficult week, especially the first handful of days as we adjusted to our new way of eating. The difficulty of Week One led my husband to decide he would add his Dunkin’ Donuts coffee back in after the first week, and that is how he continued his journey.

Week Two was definitely the best week. We were getting used to the foods we could eat and had a lot more energy. We felt better, in general, and life felt easier.

Week Three. Hmmm… I thought this week would be fairly easy, but I was wrong. I didn’t feel great. I actually felt quite fatigued and around Day 20 my stomach hurt an entire evening and followed into the next morning. I thought my body was missing something and decided to have a piece of toast. I had one piece of toast and that seemed to do the trick. I know…. I know… According to Whole30 rules, I blew it… and so did my husband after the first week… and that means you START ALL OVER. However, I told myself that I would stick to it as best as I could, and I didn’t start over. I just kept going.
HOWEVER, I will say that even though this week proved harder than I thought, I also saw a good amount of victory. I hosted a tea party at the end of the week, and it didn’t even phase me to stick to my Whole30 eating.

Week Four. The last week was hard because we knew we were so close to the end, and we just wanted it to be done. We weren’t very patient, and the days seemed LONG. We looked forward to eating tacos and pizza and chocolate goodies.

Pros and Cons

Even though the journey was not a piece of cake (no pun intended), there were definitely many Pros of being on the diet.

Weight Loss – My husband lost 15 pounds, and I lost 10 pounds.
Renewed Energy and Stability – Overall I had more energy. I woke up feeling refreshed and felt less anxious and more stable throughout the day.
A Desire to Eat Healthier – Even now, after the diet, I have a desire to eat healthier. I have seen and felt how eating healthy makes me a better person, and I want to promote that!
”Glowing” Skin – I received remarks from people that my skin was “glowing”, and I could definitely tell a difference in the way my skin looked and felt.
Better Health – Most mornings when I wake up I have a lot of sinus congestion. I had much less of this during the Whole30. My body felt stronger and experienced less symptoms as a whole.

Some of the cons were:

Feeling Deprived – Truth be told it is just hard not to think about the foods you COULD be eating, especially when you are having a bad day.
Expense – Maybe I would get better at spending less money on groceries if I ate this way all of the time, but I was at the grocery store multiple times a week, partly because I wasn’t fully used to how we were eating to be able to plan well enough and partly because I needed to stock up on fresh ingredients again. Also, some of the ingredients we used: almond milk, almond butter, etc… are more expensive than their counterparts.
Time – Not only did I spent a good amount of time planning our meals for the week and shopping at the grocery store, I also spent a large amount of time in the kitchen. Fresh, homemade food comes with a price. Making salads and their dressings, having boiled eggs and cut veggies for snacks…. Basically cooking every meal from scratch and not being able to grab a bowl of cereal or eat out when life is crazy. It definitely takes time!
Very Extreme – The diet is very extreme, and to be truthful, we didn’t follow it as strictly as taught. For instance, the bacon I used was nitrate/nitrate free, and pretty good turkey bacon in my mind. It is what I always buy for my family. However, Whole30 says no to it because Sugar is listed on the label. It is very hard to find bacon without added sugar, and this is one of the things I chose not to make a big deal about. Also, the diet doesn’t want you to make smoothies or eat Larabars in general, but these are options we decided to keep for ourselves lest we became crazy at times.

What We Ate and Enjoyed

When we were on the Whole30, I did some posts about my meal planning. You can see some of what we ate there:
Day 3 and a Meal Plan
This Week’s Whole30 Meal Plan
Our Final Week

Some of our favorites:
  • Roasted Chicken with Mashed Potatoes
  • Sweet Potato/Potato and Bacon Hash
  • Lettuce Wrap Tacos
  • Asian Lettuce Wraps
  • Burrito Bowls
  • Beef Stew
  • Roast

How the Diet Affects Us Now

The Whole30 reminded me of the great value of eating healthy foods to promote a better life. We have always tried to eat fairly healthfully, choosing whole grains, fresh foods, quality meats, etc., but the Whole30 made me realize I have only scratched the surface.

The foods and recipes I have come across have broadened my horizon and stretched me. I continue to glean and grow and seek to make healthy, fresh foods for my family.

Now I am, all the more, trying to incorporate more veggies, protein, and better sweet substitutes into our weekly food choices. I am still trying to figure out exactly what works for us. It is a journey.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Hats Off to All Moms, Everywhere

Moms are amazing, and I don’t say that because I am one.

I say that because I see it in the lives of those around me -  my mother, my mother-in-law, my friends, the women at church, the women at my homeschool co-op, the women at the grocery store, the women at the soccer field … the women all around me.

Mothers have a tremendous concern for their children. When a woman becomes a mother, her heart is suddenly attached to another human being FOR LIFE.

Moms stay at home, work from home, and balance career and home life, trying to fulfill the needs of their family members.

Moms juggle schedules, energies, monies, and time.

Moms cook, clean, organize, run errands, shop, chauffeur, nourish, provide, work, play, and pray with and for their children.

Moms wear a badge of honor when their children succeed and a spirit of compassion and encouragement when they don’t, always hoping the best for their children.

Moms invest their resources and time to give their children opportunities throughout their lives.

Moms give and give and give.
And then they give some more.

Moms protect their children from harm and hurt, as much as they possibly can.

Moms discipline, teach, train, mentor, and love, planting seeds of truth and love in hearts that they hope some day will bloom to fullness.

Moms deny careers, interests, and needs for the sake of their children.

Moms carry grief, frustration, and emptiness when their children grow up and leave the values they taught them and explode with joy when their children make good, solid decisions and manifest high caliber character.

Moms lavish their children with generosity. They plan parties, celebrations, shopping sprees, and dates.

Moms sit in the audience and cheer, stand at the end of every performance with an “encore”, and run beside their children every step of the way.

Moms never stop caring. Period.

To every mom out there, I salute you.
Happy Mother’s Day!
You are special!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Whole30 Meal Planning: Our Final Week

Well, we are cruising into the final week of our Whole30, and I admit… We are glad. There have been a lot of pluses to this diet, but we do feel bored, restricted, and ready to get back to some of our old foods.

One more week! And here is what we have on the menu:


Roast with potatoes, and carrots 
White Chicken Chili - with potatoes instead of beans
Chicken Tikka Masala and cauliflower rice
Shepherd’s Pie – the mashed potatoes will be made with almond milk and olive oil
Cabbage Rolls
Paleo Sloppy Joe’s – without honey
Turkey-Bacon Meatballs with tomato sauce

Breakfast Ideas:
Monkey salad – banana, coconut, and almonds, and I add frozen fruit – usually strawberries, raspberries, and/or blueberries
Fried eggs with fruit
Bacon with fruit
Potato or
Sweet Potato Hash - Saute bacon, onion, and potatoes or sweet potatoes. Serve with fried egg, if desired.
Hash browns with fried egg

Lunch Ideas:

Salad, salad, and more salad - fattoush, tuna nicoise, simply vegetables with homemade dressing. Seek to add some sort of protein or fat - boiled eggs, avocado, bacon, nuts, grilled chicken...
Leftovers or breakfast options

Monday, April 18, 2016

This week’s Whole30 Meal Plan

Well, today is Day 17. I have made it halfway through the diet. I plan to write more about it when I have finished.

Below are some of the things we ate last week and will be eating this week. I hope to post some of these recipes soon!

I serve most of these with a side of vegetable, fruit or cauliflower rice.

Dinner Ideas:
Mexican Chicken Soup
Crustless Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken Skillet - sauteed chicken with onions, a can of fire-roasted tomatoes, and cilantro
Surf and Turf – Grilled London Broil Steak and Tilapia, sauteed mushrooms, steamed green beans, and Cantaloupe
Roasted Chicken with Mashed Potatoes – one of our savory favorites!
Chicken Fajita Bowls – Grilled chicken with onions and peppers. Serve with salsa and fresh guacamole.
Lettuce Wrap Chicken Tacos – Cooked chicken with taco seasoning, grilled onions and peppers, and fresh guacamole on lettuce leaves
Burgers - pile with sauteed vegs., lettuce, tomato, pickle, and mustard atop shredded lettuce or inside lettuce leaves OR top with bacon, mushroom, and avocado
Asian Wraps – ground chicken, vegetables, and spices inside lettuce leaves

Breakfast Ideas:
Fried eggs with fruit
Bacon with fruit
Potato or Sweet Potato Hash - Saute bacon, onion, and potatoes or sweet potatoes. Serve with fried egg, if desired.

Lunch Ideas:
Salad, salad, and more salad - fattoush, tuna nicoise, simply vegetables. Seek to add some sort of protein or fat - boiled eggs, avocado, bacon, nuts, grilled chicken...
Leftovers or breakfast options