Kumbaya Jambalaya

Are you sitting down? If you’re a mom, I know you’re not sitting down..unless you’re in the bathroom for a few minutes of privacy, and maybe you’ll spend extra time in there so you can quickly catch up on life on the outside. Or, if you’re a mom you might be hiding in the laundry room eating some chocolate from the now opened Halloween bags. Not that I have experience with either of these scenarios.

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Whatever you’re doing, I know you will be SHOCKED to see I am posting again! I have been INSANELY busy over the past few months starting and GROWING my Beautycounter business, working my other job, trying to be a wife and trying to keep children in somewhat clean clothes (I didn’t say wrinkle free) and fed. Check out this pic of me at a vendor event!

beautycountermolly

beautycountermolly

We’ve also been at the beach nearly every weekend, until this weekend where it is finally too “chilly” to be in the water. But a lot of our meals have been munchy food either at the beach or a picnic at home.

Johnson's Beach

Pensacola Beach

With all those things I’ve had ZERO time for hobbies, including this blog. Plus, I haven’t made time to do any real meal planning in months so that means our dinners have been a series of broken records – grilled chicken, tacos, quesadillas, nachos, chicken and pasta – rinse and repeat. A few times I’ve snapped a photo of a clever dinner for Instagram, which I am totally obsessed with (follow me @beautycountermolly), but that’s about it. Tonight, the kids are in bed, husband is out with work buddies, I’m at a good spot with Beautycounter, and we had a yummy dinner that I’d like to share!


Last night I made time for proper meal planning, and for this week not a single quesadilla! Although one night we will have bbq chicken sandwiches and nachos, but yeah, quesadillas are on sabbatical for now. I was trying to figure out an exciting way to cook the 2 cups of shredded, frozen chicken and jambalaya popped into my head. I planned to go food shopping in the morning (I do every Saturday or Sunday morning) and I decided to pick up the items for jambalaya, and get the shrimp at our fish market later in the day. My family has a joke about jambalaya. My grandfather used to get jambalaya and kumbaya mixed up. I think the story goes, he was talking about a baptism at church where the priest dipped the naked baby into the baptismal pool, and raised him up for everyone to sing jambalaya! (kumbaya) We all know his story was embellished, but it lives in our memories.

I did a quick search for jambalaya and my favorite blog popped up, Gimme Some Oven! Several of her recipes are on rotation in our house, especially the enchilada sauce.

My mods

-I used brown rice, which takes FOREVERRRRR to cook. Like, an hour people.

-I used my own homemade chicken stock. Yay!

-Andouille sausage = Aidell’s cajun sausage, precooked, nitrate free

-I bought headless, deveined shrimp from the local fish market and threw in the pot with tails ON

-I used petite diced tomatoes so we didn’t have chunks of tomatoes (thereby increasing the chances the kids would eat a taste).

The Result

Success! It’s by no means the kids’ favorite, but I didn’t hear any obnoxious comments. I served with fresh mango slices and french bread with fresh rosemary olive oil dipping sauce. And, there’s enough for tomorrow – win! AND it was a super cheap way to stretch only a pound of shrimp and maybe a cup of chicken!

HealthyKitchenHealthyBudget Jambalaya

 

 

 

 

 

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Healthy Inside and Out

As I sit here in the kitchen cooking a batch of our favorite waffles (the first I’ve made in a month, at least), I remembered not only had I neglected my poor children by subjecting them to cereal for breakfast (insert sarcasm <here>), but I had also neglected my poor blog. Where have I been? You probably started wondering if I had an unhealthy kitchen and unhealthy budget and that’s what kept me away! I can assure you, that is definitely not the case, although our dinners have been rather simple, to put it nicely. Let me explain why.

You already know my food story and how I became more aware and concerned about our diets after my oldest was born four years ago. The change wasn’t overnight and I continue to grow as a healthy cook. We kind of had a four year food revolution around here and now I feel like we are in a pretty good place, minus the fact the children hate veggies, but whatevs. What I haven’t shared is the other revolution in our house – no, not one being waged by the children, a beauty/personal care revolution! You see, for years I was so concerned about our food and what we were putting IN our bodies, I wasn’t paying close attention to what we were putting ON our bodies.

That all changed two years ago when a friend  introduced me to a new company called Beautycounter which focuses on creating and promoting safe beauty and personal care products. Their mission is “To get safe products into the hands of everyone” which means the company not only creates safe products, it promotes research and education so that people understand the choices they are making in the beauty aisle. CHOICE, my favorite word. I LOVE the power of knowledge and I was immediately drawn to the company because not only are the makeup and skincare products high performing, and at the same price point as department store brands, but I felt completely empowered by all the information I was learning about unhealthy chemicals lurking in all our everyday products.

Beautycounter Banner

So, just like with food, the revolution was not completed overnight. Even two years later it’s still not completely over, but I started reading labels on bottles and tubes hanging around the bathroom…and the baby room. The bathroom was full of potential carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and unspecified mixes of chemicals. I don’t consider myself an alarmist, but I don’t like being exposed to unnecessary chemicals especially if I can find a product that works as well, or BETTER, than the chemical laden one. As I ran out of something, I switched to a safer brand. Toothpaste without SLS (especially for kids), nothing with fragrance or natural flavors, no parabens, aluminum free deodorant, mineral based sunscreen for us and the kids are some of the major changes we’ve made.

Beautycounter-Just_the_Facts-1939

What does all this have to do with me ignoring my blog?? Well, a month ago I decided to join Beautycounter as a consultant because I wasn’t busy enough with a part-time job and two kids. I want to help the company share its mission and help it become successful in revolutionizing the beauty industry. Beautycounter has an unprecedented ingredient selection process that bans 1,500 questionable or harmful ingredients – that’s crazy considering only 11 are banned by US law. I have had very busy evenings launching my business and helping friends and family far and wide learn about this incredible company, so I haven’t had time for a hobby blog! Like I said, dinners have been simple. We aren’t perfect, but I feel good about what we are putting in and on our bodies.

Now, if I could just figure out a way to sleep past 6:30a on a Saturday.

Beautycounter Collection

 

Pizza Pizza!

Since I scored my $10 bread machine on VarageSale last year, I have been experimenting with different pizza dough recipes.The biggest criterion with pizza dough is: I have to be able to mix it ahead of time and refrigerate. I am not mixing up pizza dough after I walk in the door with the kids while they chill and what…play quietly? Do macrame? Not happening. Pizza dough must be completely ready, sometimes a day ahead, and rolled out before I pick them up. Continue reading “Pizza Pizza!”

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Healthy Kitchen Healthy Budget Cinnamon Bread6

One evening while I was tooling around on my tablet, waiting for my preschooler to fall asleep, a delicious sounding recipe for cinnamon swirl bread from Passionate Penny Pincher danced across my Facebook feed. It is a bread machine recipe, and we all know how much I am enjoying my $10 find! We love us some sweet bread ’round here, breakfast, lunch, dessert, you name it, so I tried the recipe for the first time last weekend. Continue reading “Cinnamon Swirl Bread”

1lb Chicken, Two Dinners

When you are buying organic chicken at $6.99#, or even the next best chicken that is anti-biotic free that is $3.99#, it’s important to stretch those dollars!  I have already shared how I often thinly slice chicken breasts to stretch a pound of chicken between the four of us (back then I was paying $5.99 at Publix so it was EVEN more important to stretch!). Here are two dinners we had this week using 1lb of chicken. Continue reading “1lb Chicken, Two Dinners”

Ciabatta Bread (aka sick day baking)

Today was day two I kept my preschooler home from school. My husband took our two year old to his class so he was happy to play with friends and not be cooped up at home, and picked on all day long. My oldest was actually fine so I had to think of things for us to do all day long here at home. One of those days we did everything – went for a walk, looked at the birds and ducks, played outside with our bunny, watched ellevenity million episodes of inspector gadget and batman, fixed a clock, cleaned the bathroom, did Melissa and Doug stickers, and…baked bread. Continue reading “Ciabatta Bread (aka sick day baking)”

Cinnamon Quick Bread

I enjoyed this lovely breakfast this morning while receiving parenting tips from Daniel Tiger’s mom. I’m not sure how old Daniel Tiger is, but she was encouraging him to fix his broken trolley and of course her message was a catchy little tune. As I sat at the table with my two kids, one of whom was sick and that’s why we had no school today, contemplating my parenting choices thanks to a cartoon tiger, and secretly hoping my oldest was taking note of the message, I decided I needed two helpings of bread and cinnamon schmear. Continue reading “Cinnamon Quick Bread”

Tostadas with Homemade Tortillas

When a four year old says, “Mmm these are wewy yummy Mommy! Mmm.” that’s code for, “you should make these every week until I go to college.” We eat A LOT of tortillas around here in quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas and taquitos. I always buy the tortillas, usually Mission corn in stacks of 80, and I’ve never made them from scratch. But, there is always a bag of Maseca in my pantry because my mother-in-law makes them from scratch when she comes to visit. Last week I forgot to buy the Mission tortillas at Publix during my weekly trip, so I decided to attempt to make them from scratch. Continue reading “Tostadas with Homemade Tortillas”

Mini-Pledge Week 3: Meat

The 100 Days of Real Food challenges for this week are to buy meat local/humanely raised (within 100 miles of your house) and to treat meat like a side dish rather than the main.

I already know I won’t be buying locally raised meat. I tried doing that one month and I realized how incredibly expensive local meat was. I think I’m pretty good at stretching our food dollar, but $12# for chicken and $9# for pork was too much to bear. Beef was the only semi-affordable option, but the farmer doesn’t frequent my farmer’s market anymore so I don’t have a good options. For a family of four with two small children, we aren’t able to feed the family, maintain my sanity and stay on budget with local prices.

Farmer's Market Bounty
Expensive local meat

The other challenge for the week is to reduce meat consumption to 3 or 4 servings, and to treat it like a side dish instead of the focal point. I would love to introduce a vegetarian meal once or twice a week because it will save us money, unless I’m buying ingredients that I don’t normally buy or go to waste (I’m a little concerned about the radishes in my fridge…) 90% of the time our main dish consists of meat mixed with something to stretch it across four of us – casseroles, rice, potatoes, tortillas, sandwiches, etc help me stretch a pound of meat. So, I already feel like we are #winning.

I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired by the vegetarian recipes provided, but I did find a slow cooker potato soup in her cookbook that sounded good. And we usually do homemade pizza once a week. Here’s the plan:


 

Monday: Leftovers from Sunday, Gimme Some Oven chicken alfredo

Tuesday: Homemade pizza. I used a new bread machine dough recipe and substituted WWW flour for AP.

Wednesday: chicken tostadas, using shredded chicken in the freezer and..wait..HOMEMADE TORTILLAS! More on that another day.

Thursday and Friday: Slow cooker chicken tortilla soup with homemade enchilada sauce (super easy)

Saturday: 100 Days of Real Food slow cooker potato soup, which isn’t available online. But I found a similar one from  Foodlets, which is a new blog I bookmarked

The soup days I will need to have a substantial side like quesadillas because I know the four year old won’t be interested, and the two year old is iffy.