Monday, October 15, 2018

Keepers: Extremely FAST From-scratch Meals With Minimal Cleanup Part 3


We are half-way through his month-long series on FAST from-scratch meals with minimal clean up!  This week I thought we could talk chicken.

Fast and chicken, in my mind, most often go together when cut up and added to other dishes.  Roasting chicken, whether de-boned or bone-in, can easily take in the neighborhood of an hour.  I do like throwing chicken in a roasting dish and popping it in the oven for a no-fuss meal prep night.  However, this would not fall into our "Quick" category so I have not included those recipes here.

*Cutting Chicken Quick Tip You can mass-cut chicken when you first bring it home from the grocery store and freeze for quicker and less messy prep time.  Spending 30 - 45 minutes once every grocery shopping period doing a meat pre-cut will save you loads of time throughout the month during meal prep.  Remember, it isn't just the time butchering which you are consolidating, it is also the clean up of your cutting board, knife and work area.  Cut once, clean once! 

Whether cutting breast meat or thigh meat, I cut it into bite size pieces and then measure the pieces into a Ziploc bag by estimating about 1 handful of meat per person (if you have small hands you might consider 1 1/2 handfuls per person).  Lay bags flat in freezer for easier thawing.

With our quick-cutting tips in mind, I will proceed to the following recipes assuming this stage is done.  Choose breast or thigh meat according to your personal choice.  If you do NOT pre-cut your meat, tack approximately 5-10 minutes onto your prep time and an additional 5 minutes on clean-up with cutting board and knife.

Chicken Salad
I don't mean the shredded kind with mayo and sandwich bread!  Nope, literally, chicken and salad.  This is my go-to dish for summer time but if you like salad it can be good any time.  I put a few splashes of Olive Oil (or whatever oil you typically use) into my pan and begin cooking my chicken pieces on medium-high heat.  While chicken cooks I put on my multi-tasking hat and prepare my salad.  As with ground beef, when chicken appears about half-way done, I begin adding my seasoning.  
 Variations as follows:

Greek Style: Store bought Greek Seasoning OR about 1tsp each of onion powder, garlic, dill, oregano and a dash of salt and pepper.  Serve over green salad with cucumbers and tomato and a side of Cucumber Dressing.

Italian Style: Season with Italian Dressing OR about 1tsp each onion powder, garlic, oregano and basil.  Serve over green salad with tomato, green peppers, olives and fresh Parmesan cheese and a side of Italian or Caesar Dressing

Ranch Style: Dash on about 1 tsp each onion and garlic powders, dried celery leaves, a few shakes of Paprika, thyme, salt and pepper.  Pile on top of green salad with tomato, red onion, radishes, and grated carrot, Colby-jack cheese, bacon bits and topped with Ranch Dressing.

Southwest Style: Season chicken with the usual onion and garlic powders and add in about 1tsp each of cumin, chili powder, cilantro and dash on some salt and pepper.  When chicken is almost done cooking, pour in about 1/4 cup salsa per approx. pound of meat.  While chicken cooks you can heat up some black beans.  Thinly slice lettuce greens and add in chopped tomatoes and green onions.  Finish with Monterey-Jack Cheese and top with Ranch Dressing OR salsa, sour cream and avocado or guacamole.

For the first 3 salads you can make the meal more filling by serving with a side of pita bread, toasted garlic bread, bread sticks or rolls.  For the Southwest Style serve with tortillas or tortilla chips.

Dishes: Frying pan, spatula, (+ saucepan and spoon for Southwest Salad with Black Beans), cutting board and knife, possible bowl for holding salad

Cook time: approx. 20-30 minutes (add 5 minutes if using fresh onion and garlic)


Other cut chicken meals
Chicken salads are about as easy as it gets.  The following recipes require a few more dishes but with relatively similar cook times.
This picture is a variation of the recipe below

Stove-top Chicken, Broccoli and/or Cauliflower: This dish can be made with Broccoli OR Cauliflower OR Both!  I like to buy frozen veggies and steam.  While veggies steam, cook chicken in butter and season with onion and garlic, at least 1 tsp each, and a dash of salt and pepper.  Once chicken is cooked, reduce heat to medium low, drain veggies and incorporate into pan with chicken.  Top generously with one of three cheeses:
  • Just cheddar 
  • Cheddar and Parmesan (fresh or powdered)
  • Cheddar, Parmesan and feta 
Lightly incorporate the cheese and place a lid on the pan.  Let rest on low heat for a few minutes while cheese melts.  Serve and enjoy!

Dishes: Frying pan, spatula, Steamer pot, basket and lid, measuring cup

Cook time: approx. 20-30 minutes (add 5 minutes if using fresh onion and garlic)

In this picture the chicken is shredded, however, you can cut into small pieces or long strips.
Chicken Tacos/burritos: Cook chicken as the SW Chicken Salad recipe above calls for.  Once it is done, stuff into hard or soft taco shells with lettuce, tomato and cheese OR Line a tortilla with cheese, chicken and beans (black, pinto or refried).  Roll up and serve or warm in 375реж oven for 5 minutes and serve with a side salad.

Dishes: Frying pan, spatula, (pan and spoon for beans if cooking them, baking sheet if warming in oven), cutting board and knife

Cook time: approx. 20-30 minutes (add 5 minutes if using fresh onion and garlic)

Of all the chicken meals I cook, these are the quickest and least messy!  Can you suggest any chicken meals which take 30 minutes or less and don't require many dishes though still hold the benefits of from-scratch?

If you would like to see the first two articles in this series, click on Links in text to visit Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.  Next week we will be talking Slow Cookers.  These meals may not be "quick" but they are extremely time-efficient and low clean up which is why I love them!

Speaking of slow cookers, I finally got the next give-away assembled and it has been inspired by this month's Quick Easy Meals thread (as well as by autumn and Thanksgiving!):

The cookbook pictured here is mine, I used it for the image but the "New Revised" plastic comb bound edition is what will be sent to whomever wins!  The leaf place-mat is not included (it is old and ragged, you don't want it!!)  The details:
  • Fix-It and Forget It Cookbook
  • Coffee/cocoa mug
  • Cinnamon Spice scented candles
  • 2 metal turkey candle holders
  • Decorative hand-painted brick (double sided for TWO seasons!)
Drawing will be held October 31st.  Scroll down to see how to sign up.

That's it for this week's edition of Extremely FAST From-scratch Meals With Minimal Cleanup, I pray your kitchen adventures are blessed with good food, good times and good company!

Blessings,









By the way.....


*Are you subscribed to my newsletter?  You might want to be.  Why?  Well, the newsletter contains bonus material you won't find on the website... not to mention, in those busy months when I can't get regular blog articles up, you can count on this periodical popping up in your email in-box each last Thursday with all new content!  What exactly does the newsletter contain?
  • Encouraging articles on Faith, Home(making), and Homeschool
  • Free printables under different themes each month
  • Insider info on the latest goings-ons with all things on my blog and writing related
You won't find all this great bonus material on the blog so be sure to sign up so you don't miss out!  It's Ok, hop over real quick, right there to your right, see it on my sidebar where it says, "Subscribe to my Newsletter" with a  picture of the "Faith and Home Times" logo above it?  Ok, now enter your email in the box labeled "email address" then click "Subscribe"....(don't worry, it doesn't hurt and I promise not to spam you!). You should receive a confirmation email from me.  

Also, with your new subscription, you will be entered into my latest drawing AND I will send you October's newsletter which includes a FREE printable Bible Study and bonus PDF! 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

HMJ: School Break, October Snow and Teen Talk


It is rather scary how fast this school year is going already!  When planning out our school year I scheduled a week off for every 6 weeks of work.  Our homeschooling history dictates this to be a wise choice and rejuvenating opportunity!  Well, this was that week!  Yup, 6 weeks down and the only thing crazier is knowing, in 6 more, it will be THANKSGIVING!!!

Brooke ended up getting sick at the beginning of the week.  I felt bad for her having to spend her time off with a bad cold but appreciated her maturity when she commented to me, "At least I got sick on my week off and not during school!"  Love that girl!

Halfway through the week hubby and I celebrated TWENTY years of marriage!! 

We went out to dinner and then decided to come back home and hunker down in front of the fireplace with a date-night movie.  It was cozy and perfect.

I know, the math doesn't add up.  20 years with a 20 year old daughter and 24 year old son.  I'm planning a window of testimony on our marriage and faith this coming Wednesday. 

Speaking of planned articles, I got the curriculum review up on Thursday as promised last week!  Be sure to check it out if you or someone you know has younger kiddos since I am doing a give-away with this review. 

Snow was a big part of our week as well!
It came and went.... and came again!
I guess that is just part of Montana life!  I love it, no matter the time of year ♥️  We were going to take a trip into the mountains today to enjoy fall foliage but the snow and recovering sickies caused us to post-pone.

Brooke still had a study hangout Thursday.  She was desperate to get some friend time in despite her incessant runny nose.  She worked on her Geography Island project, chatted, and enjoyed some post-study video games with brother and sister joining in.  I feel so blessed to see my kids, even Brenden and Ashley as adults now, share such a valuable friend group.  I don't believe it is an accident...


Over the years, as the kids were growing up, we were rather guarded with the friends we allowed full-access into their lives. We limited interaction with kids whom we knew to be a bad influence and encouraged opportunities to hang-out with friends who shared values.  Along the way we have always had open discussions, assessing behaviors and influences realistically, and provoking our kiddos to think about what makes a good friend.  
  • Do they love Jesus with all their heart?
  • Do they lie?
  • Do they consistently deliberately disobey their parents?
  • Do they talk bad about family and/or siblings all the time?
  • Do they build you up or tear you down?
  • Do they ask you to do things you shouldn't?
  • Do they treat their other friends and even strangers disrespectfully?

I don't recall a time where we ever told them "NO" to having any given friend.  We didn't want to raise rebels, rather, we were aiming for thinkers and good choice makers.  Restricting them would not have taught them to think for themselves.  So, depending on the given situation, I would access one of the many questions like those listed above and ask my kids to consider.  When affirming negative answers resulted, the discussion was threaded onto how it made them feel, or others feel, around this friend and if the anxiety and negativity was really worth it.  I did have to point out once or twice that it would be better to wait friendless for the right friend to come along then to maintain a bad friendship which may ruin an opportunity for a better friendship later on.  I would also encourage prayer for God to send the right friend in HIS time and help my kiddo productively as they waited for their prayers to be answered. 

We would also consider how the Bible often discusses the importance of surrounding ourselves with like-minded believers as our core friend group.  The Bible also warns of the consequences when we choose otherwise.  
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
1 Corinthians 15:33 
If the Bible warns of these things, than, as Christians, we ought to take God's best plan for us seriously. 

I do have to digress here and articulate; when I say a "bad" friend, I don't mean a friend I personally don't like or I personally don't like their parents.  I mean, a friend who causes trouble consistently or deliberately behaves unbiblically consistently.  Everyone makes mistakes, especially young people as they learn the ropes of life, but I am talking about someone who plays in the mud of mistakes without a care.  I also wouldn't allow my kids to hang out at friends houses where a parent or sibling was abusive an alcoholic or a drug addict... NO exceptions.... not even if the friend was a good kid, if anything, I opened my home more to them to come over for a reprieve!

Having a bad friend or acquaintance didn't mean we snubbed our nose either.  It offered opportunity to discuss how to share our faith... how to be a good friend to someone who doesn't know how.  How to give grace and seek to understand; sometimes bad friends are that way because they are hailing from difficult home lives.  When our kids entertained the idea of a not-so-good friendship we simply encouraged them to choose less time in that person's company and offered alternative suggestions. When they were with that particular person, whether by choice or necessary proximity, we taught them to be more guarded so as not to be tripped into equally bad behavior.

When kids are young it is easy to distract them away from bad influences.  Doing so along with discussion and explanation grows in them a heart to seek out friends who truly have their best interests in mind.  When they become teens it is so important to keep the line of communication open.  Ask, listen and offer grace-filled council.  Not judgment or condemnation, rather, love and direction.  If they can trust you to not over-react when they share difficult situations they are facing with friends... then they will trust you to continue coming to you in all scenarios.

Raising teens isnt' easy.  It starts best by planting good seed when they are younger.  However, no matter when you find yourselves in a direction of deliberately trying to navigate the difficult waters of the teen years, breaking through IS possible with consistency and loads of prayer!  A bit of time and authentic investment in who they are and what they have going on will make this stage much more manageable. 

By the way, last year, just before my sabbatical, a reader asked me to write more on Teen issues.  I hope this can be a regular part of my Mother's Journal writing.  If you have any teen topics you would like to hear more on, let me know and I will see what I can do!

How has your week been?

Blessings,









By the way.....


*Are you subscribed to my newsletter?  You might want to be.  Why?  Well, the newsletter contains bonus material you won't find on the website... not to mention, in those busy months when I can't get regular blog articles up, you can count on this periodical popping up in your email in-box each last Thursday with all new content!  What exactly does the newsletter contain?
  • Encouraging articles on Faith, Home(making), and Homeschool
  • Free printables under different themes each month
  • Insider info on the latest goings-ons with all things on my blog and writing related
You won't find all this great bonus material on the blog so be sure to sign up so you don't miss out!  It's Ok, hop over real quick, right there to your right, see it on my sidebar where it says, "Subscribe to my Newsletter" with a  picture of the "Faith and Home Times" logo above it?  Ok, now enter your email in the box labeled "email address" then click "Subscribe"....(don't worry, it doesn't hurt and I promise not to spam you!). You should receive a confirmation email from me.  

Also, with your new subscription, you will be entered into my latest drawing AND I will send you October's newsletter which includes a FREE printable Bible Study and bonus PDF! 
Drawing details in Monday, October 15th's post.


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Curriculum Book Review of Mighty Reader Workbook

I love curriculum... I am a recovering curriculum addict!  When my kids were elementary age I would scoop up every single freebie I could get my hands on.  I had it all sorted by subject and then sub-sorted by grade and topic!  It is funny, of all the things I gave up when we went into missions and now that we have settled back down, my curriculum compilation is what I really miss!  I do gain comfort knowing it went to a dear homeschool friend who used it well!

So, while I am down to ONE homeschooling kiddo (and she is a High School Junior this year), my old curriculum habits and love for learning and teaching prompted me to welcome an opportunity for reviewing the Mighty Reader Workbook for  1st Graders by veteran teacher Heidi Cooley.

Flipping through this beautifully made sturdy workbook I found myself wishing I had a 1st grader to walk through it with!  The book is intended for public schoolers to use as extension read-at-home with a parent work to improve reading fluency.  However, I feel it could be a valuable asset to any homeschool curriculum as well. 


There are 13 lessons which cover 13 weeks of reading activity.  Each lesson is based on a story from the Bible and could easily double as family devotion time.



The author has provided thorough and clear directions for working with your young readers as well as a lay-out of how to conduct the daily lessons within each week.

 With Ms. Cooley's process, parents and children work together to complete reading goals progressively moving from tandem reading to solo reading by the end of each lesson week.

Activities for reading comprehension are also included for each day.  These vary by week and always seem fun, asking the child to circle and color words as well as draw pictures to reflect how they have comprehended the story.

I love this workbook so much I was tempted to keep it for my some-day grandchildren... however, I have NO idea when that will be since we haven't had any wedding bells for any of my adult children yet!  SO, I have decided to share this wonderful resource with one of my readers!  That's right, YOU get an opportunity to enjoy this lovely workbook with your 1st grader for FREE!  How?  Well, I have a few ways....
  • Comment below telling why you think you might like to have this workbook
  • Sign up for my monthly newsletter (details at bottom of article) and then send me an email letting me know you have signed up and what you are looking forward to most in my newsletter (overview of topics in each newsletter are listed below.  Email: amanda@faithandhome.com)
You can do BOTH: comment and Newsletter sign-up/email send: to have your name entered TWICE for a chance to win!  But don't delay, I will be drawing the winner on Friday, October 26th!  Be sure to tell a friend as well!

Blessings,






I received Mighty Reader Workbook at no charge from B&H/Lifeway blogging network in exchange for my honest review.




By the way.....


*Are you subscribed to my newsletter?  You might want to be.  Why?  Well, the newsletter contains bonus material you won't find on the website... not to mention, in those busy months when I can't get regular blog articles up, you can count on this periodical popping up in your email in-box each last Thursday with all new content!  What exactly does the newsletter contain?
  • Encouraging articles on Faith, Home(making), and Homeschool
  • Free printables under different themes each month
  • Insider info on the latest goings-ons with all things on my blog and writing related
You won't find all this great bonus material on the blog so be sure to sign up so you don't miss out!  It's Ok, hop over real quick, right there to your right, see it on my sidebar where it says, "Subscribe to my Newsletter" with a  picture of the "Faith and Home Times" logo above it?  Ok, now enter your email in the box labeled "email address" then click "Subscribe"....(don't worry, it doesn't hurt and I promise not to spam you!). You should receive a confirmation email from me.  

Also, with your new subscription, you will be entered into my latest drawing AND I will send you October's newsletter which includes a FREE printable Bible Study and bonus PDF!