Monday, June 15, 2009

Balance... and Soup

First off, I am honored to have been asked to post on Charlotte's blog. I have known Charlotte for a few years now, from that "other" Mom's club, and I am so glad to have met her. She is honest and candid and can laugh at herself (as well as others!) and I love her writing style, it cracks me up. While she really does "have her hands full" with three young kids, I think Charlotte does a great job at being a mom and a wife even more than all of that, she is also such a cool woman. She hasn't lost herself in her kids, which it seems like it is easy to do, and I admire that about her. She completely disproves the "stay home mom's mind goes to mush" theory. You can tell that she is having fun.

My name is Barbara, I am 29 and I have a three year old, Christopher, as well as a 35 year old, Jason. I have a blog here but it is mostly just recipes and a few other random things. I just started working full time again about a month ago, and it is kicking my butt! We are in a sticky situation with our house and it is pretty necessary right now, but I am hoping that it can be temporary. I am also working on my Masters degree and teaching credential, so that hopefully when this is all over, I will be able to find a more flexible, less than full time job, where I can have more balance in my life! That is one of my biggest goals right now- balance- and I am having a really tough time with it. But I have found a few things that work for me, and help me feel at least a little less stressed during the week. It's only reall three tips so far, but here is what I've got:

1. Set aside clothes for Monday through Friday for both me and Christopher. It only takes a few minutes and I stick his clothes in one of those shoe organizer things, and then they are there and ready for the mornings.

2. Use those little pill organizer thinsg for vitamins. I do it all on Sunday morning and that is it for the week.
3. Try to plan meals somewhat in advance. This has been one of my goals for at least a year or so, and lately, I feel that I am FINALLY making some headway. So far, I try to do the following:

- Heat and Eat Monday. This can be anything that you take out of the freezer or fridge and stick in the oven or on the stove. Monday's are hard enough, no need to make it any trickier.

- Taco Tuesday. This just means cooking ground turkey and either doing one of a million Mexican style things, i.e. tacos, taco salad, taco ring made with crescent rolls and taco meat, or doing anything Mexican, like bean and cheese burritos or better yet, easy chimichangas!

- Food Network Sunday. Try something new and adventurous.

Those days are pretty set.

I am debating how to handle the rest of the week, because I want to allow for plenty of variety- but these are some other ideas I am considering:

- Slow Cooker Wednesday. Just because it is easy and also makes enough leftovers that my boys don't end up eating Taco Bell every Thursday, since Thursday is:

- Boys Fend For Themsleves Thursday. I am at school from 4-10 so I end up packing two meals that day for me, and the boys usually end up eating fast food.

- Party Food Friday. Pizza, nachos with beans and cheese, nachos with chili, what else? I don't know what else qualifies as party food but I thought it sounded cute.

So, what do all of you do for food at your house? I would love any feedback people may have, and if you have any ideas, or any witty names for themes, please tell me. I just realized that I dind't actually invent "Taco Tuesday" since a lot of people do that, but I sure think it is clever!

Last thing- before I go, I wanted to share my favorite Slow Cooker Taco Soup recipe. This can count as Charlotte's Less Than 30 Minute Recipe for the week. I have no idea about points, sorry.

This takes about 10 minutes to put together in the morning and it is SO good. And if your chicken is still frozen, it works just as well- in fact I have never made it any other way.

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup

1 onion, chopped
1 can pinto beans
1 or 2 cans black beans
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 can or bottle beer (or 12 oz. chicken stock)
2 cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained (I use one can of Rotel and one can of plain diced, so there is a little less heat)
1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning
3 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts
shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)
sour cream (optional)
crushed tortilla chips (optional)

Place the onion, chili beans, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, beer, and diced tomatoes in a slow cooker. Add taco seasoning, and stir to blend. Lay chicken breasts on top of the mixture, pressing down slightly until just covered by the other ingredients. It is OK if the chicken breasts are still frozen! Set slow cooker for low heat and let it go all day, for 7 or 8 hours.

Any time after five hours or so, you should be able to remove the chicken breasts, shred them with two forks, and then stir them back in. Serve topped with shredded Cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips, if desired.



Charlotte said...

AS soon as I read taco crescent roll ring my stomach growled, that sounds insanely good.

Barb you are so organized and so caring for your boys, I am proud of you. I just can't imagine how amazing you will be when you get as old as me.

Thank you for posting for me!

Helen McGinn said...

I'll be checking out your blog, your recipe sounds yummy! xx

Nekidduk said...

Mmm...yummy recipe Barb! That planned meal thing is totally my goal. I'd love to do a bunch of cooking on Sunday and have lunch and dinner set for the week. Let us know what else you come up with!


jennifer from pittsburgh said...

Loved your post and I am sooooo going to try that soup recipe!

Charlotte said...

I am doing the recipe tonight, with substitions. I have no pintos so I am just using 2 cans of black beans. I had no tomato sauce so I just swished 12 oz. of chicken broth in a jar of leftover spag. sauce. I had no taco mix so I used one envelope of onion soup mix and added 1 tsp. of cumin and 1 tsp. of chili powder. And I just used 1 chicken breast, cause I really like beans.

Barbara said...

You guys are so sweet, thank you for the feedback! I am a little more motivated now to blog more so thanks again Charlotte for the opportunity and thank you everyone who read and especially who left comments! xxoo

Unknown Mami said...

I do the pill thing and it really helps. I have to get better about meal planning. I've been looking for good slow cooker recipes. I found one that wanted me to put in frozen meatballs and grape jelly. Yuck! Yours is much better. Thank you.