Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Crock Pot Cowboy Beans

Because of its convencience I use my crock pot about three times a week - especially in the summer when I don't want to turn on my oven. The members of my family like beans, tomato products, Mexican spices and herbs, potatoes, and ground beef. I've combined these items into my version of Crock Pot Cowboy Beans


1 lb. ground beef (or ground turkey)
1 small onion, diced
1 teaspoon processed garlic
1 can Rotel
1 small can chopped green chilis (fire roasted and peeled)
2 potatoes, cooked, peeled and cubed (this is an optional ingredient. I had leftover potatoes from last night's meal)
1 can Dark Red Kidney Beans
1 can Pinto Beans
1 teaspoon Cumin
2 Tablespoon Dried Cilantro (I'd add fresh cilantro in at the end if I had it, but today I'll just use dry Cilantro)

Brown ground beef, onion, and garlic together in a pan. Drain and rinse off grease. Pour browned meat mixture into the bottom of crock pot. In a large bowl, stir together remaining ingredients. Pour mixture over meat in crock pot ingredience. Cook on low about six hours.

Productive Parenting

I taught 3rd and 4th grade students for twelve years before I became a stay at home mommy. Even with that experience, I am frequently at a loss on how to engage my eighteen month old twins and my three year old. We repeat the same activities over and over leaving us bored zombies. I want to take advantage of this precious time I have with my girls before they grow up and go to school.

Because I have three little ones, I need ideas that work, require little prep time, and use supplies I have on hand. I found an interesting free resource called Productive Parenting. Productive Parenting emails me age-appropriate activities for my children. I receive one email with activities for Sophie and a second email with activities for Piper and Riley. My children enjoy these new ideas. Here's a little snip it from their website.

  • Homepage featuring new activity for your child everyday
  • Option to have activities emailed on the days of your choice
  • Rate, review, and save your favorite activities
  • Contribute activity ideas to be featured on our site
  • Great ideas using minimal materials and little to no prep time
If you are looking for a resource of activities to do with your children, consider Productive Parenting. It's free and ideas are emailed right to your inbox.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Best Black Bean Burgers - Ever!

I really enjoy eating a juicy cheeseburger with my favorite toppings on a toasted bun. Nevertheless, in an effort to add more meatless meals to our dining repertoire, I've tested several veggie or bean burger recipes with some success. But, tonight I combined part Weelicious veg-wee burger with part La Bonne Cuisine black been burger and created the best meatless burger - ever!

Black Bean Bulgur Burgers

2 cans (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 egg
1/2 cup Bulgur Wheat
1 C water
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup salsa
Few shakes of garlic powder
Pepper to taste
1/4 cup shredded cheese of your choice
2 Tablespoons oil

Bring one cup of water and 1/2 cup bulgur wheat to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce and simmer 13 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, mash black beans with fork or potato masher. Add cooked bulgur wheat, onion, egg, salsa, garlic powder, pepper, and cheese; mix well. Using a 1/3 C. measuring cup, drop mixture into preheated skillet containing oil. I use a cast iron skillet which turns out beautifully browned burgers. Flatten the burgers slightly for better cooking and turning results. Cook on medium heat for 3 minutes. Carefully flip burger. Cook on second side until firm and brown - approx. 4 minutes. The secret is to only flip the burger one time or it may fall apart.

Top your burger with all your usual fixings and enjoy the best meatless burger you've ever had.

This recipe makes eleven mini burgers which are great for leftovers and freeze well too.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Photo Shoot Success

When Sophie was born we chose to hire a very expensive professional photographer to take her newborn, three months, six months, and one year old pictures. We went all out and ordered the posh photo book, gigantic framed portraits, a CD set to music, etc. Our final photo session, just after Sophie's first birthday, took place in an exclusive park only a handful of photographers from Tulsa are allowed (with a hefty fee) to use. When we went to the photographer's studio to view those photos, we were overjoyed at the quality. The photos were spectacular and the price tag was excessive. We ordered everything and the kitchen sink. Buying these photos was a financial sacrifice. We were investing in what we loved. We didn't go on vacations and Judd still drives a 1997 Honda Accord. But capturing our child and family in gorgeous photos meant the world to us, so we shelled out the big bucks. A few weeks later, when our photographer still hadn't called to set up a time for us to get our products, I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. Phone calls went unanswered so Judd stopped by the studio only to find it empty. Our photographer skipped town with our photos and money along with other families' treasures too. The local news reported the incident, but we were out of luck. It was bad enough she stole our money, but to show us such breathtaking photos and then disappear without giving us any was heartbreaking. Maybe it was because of all we went through just to have a baby in the first place, but I was crushed. She stole our opportunity to capture our family in that moment in time. Sophie would never be that little again.

When the twins were born we had my dad take a few pictures of our family. He did a good job and we certainly appreciated having a couple of shots while they were itty bitty. Time marched on. Piper and Riley turned one - still no professional pictures.

When the twins were sixteen months old I happened to be checking out items for sale on our local Craigslist. I came across a lady named Lori Boyd who wanted to barter. She offered a photo shoot at a secluded little park in exchange for a baby stroller. She was heading up a pregnancy outreach ministry at her church and needed baby items. I jumped at the offer. What did I have to lose? I still had Sophie's single stroller which we didn't use anymore. No money was involved and we received all the pictures on a CD with the release form to print them anywhere we wanted. My trust in photographers is becoming restored and I have some beautiful pictures of my girls. I am so thankful for Lori. She captured the essence of Sophie, Piper, and Riley and enabled us to freeze time, if only in portraits, of our precious daughters.

Thank you, Lori, for the amazing gift of captured moments in the lives of my children.

Zoo Outing Means 100% Chance of Rain

Pulling into the zoo's parking lot this morning we noticed how overcast the sky had become. But, as many of you know, when you've already gone through the effort to get your children ready, pack a diaper bag, grab snacks and drinks as well as the sunscreen (just in case), a few gray clouds would not deter us.

The flowers were beautiful. Most of the animals were out and about and the girls had a wonderful time.

Piper and Riley are almost eighteen months old. They were mobile enough to fully participate in today's activities. It was a delight to see them actually notice the various animals and squeal in delight while waving a joyful hello. We've been waiting for days like this - all three girls old enough to enjoy outings together instead of the twins just riding around in their stroller. We've reached a new stage in our family and I love it!

We rode the train and Sophie found her first carousel ride enchanting. Although it did downpour while we were inside one exhibit, the rain didn't hamper our excursion one bit. I'm glad we took advantage of Judd's day off from work. We had a great day today.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Birthday, America!

When I sewed these bandana skirts for my girls months ago I had today, July 4th, in mind. I don't dress my girls alike too often, but when I do, they sure look cute. Thanks to their Aunt Colleen they had matching shirts too. They received lots of smiles and compliments as they tripped along down the hallway at church today.

My family got together over at my Dad and Debbie's home to celebrate America's birthday. We had our traditional meal: burgers, brats, potato salad, baked beans, chips, and apple pie with vanilla ice cream. I love spending time with my family. I love getting to see four generations of relatives together.

I'm grateful to live in America. I appreciate the tremendous sacrifice soldiers like my brother (Iraq) and my grandfather (WWII) gave in honor of our country. I'm thankful for the many freedoms we have here in the U.S.A.  We're an imperfect country made of imperfect people, but it's home sweet home, and I love my country.

Happy Birthday, America!