Thursday, April 19, 2012

TOO much? Confessions from Las Flores Mommy

So when I started this blog I was all gung ho for the first few weeks and then.... I'm sure any and all of you can relate with the fact that sometimes life just takes over and its a struggle just to slog through the day to day tasks of school drop offs and pick ups, email, laundry, workouts, groceries, cooking, homework, etc. I know that there are PLENTY of you out there... we commiserate at MOPS, chat quickly at drop off, and vent with a Facebook status. And we judge, compare, & wonder "How does she do it all?" I'll admit it I compare myself to other moms all the time, sometimes  like" I'm SOOO glad that's  NOT me" and other times its "Why can't I be more like____________?"

I also struggle with being a perfectionist so when the photos don't turn out EXACTLY like I wanted I don't write the post at all instead of  just doing it with fewer pics. Completing tasks has been my cross to bear as a mom because in my experience very rarely do I have an block of time that goes on uninterrupted--this isn't a complaint, mind you-- its part of being a mom with 3 kids and a busy schedule, I know this is what I signed up for. Its just when I feel like I have everything half done then at the end of the day I'm like "WHAT did I do ALL day?"  

I often struggle too with too many choices. When I have some free time often times I get stuck trying to decide WHAT to do with it:   Fold laundry or People magazine? Continue with the novel I'm reading or zone out to the latest episode of Real Housewives? Organize the closet or add to my Pinterest boards? Then what happens is, rather than taking the time to DO something, I waste it in a fit of indecision.

And then I remind myself that while my projects may be "undone" my kids aren't! Prioritizing for them often times leaves my "stuff" on the back burner at this phase in our lives, and too soon this phase will morph into something else. I"m trying to be less critical of myself and more forgiving. Recognizing what I do get done--even just the everyday stuff--rather than chastising myself for not living up to my own unrealistic expectations. So what if I didn't get it ALL done today. It will get done eventually, and we will all be happier for it if I can give myself a break once in a while. Too often I think as women we are too hard on ourselves and it's okay to cut ourselves some slack.

 I saw this quote on Pinterest the other day & I think it speaks volumes about taking the time to be in the now

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Shrimp & White Bean Cassoulet

I had been working on getting recipes ready to post, then Lent hits...NO MEAT! Hubby has decided to forgo meat the entire 40 days, not just Fridays, so that means a lot more meatless dinners in the mix. I think this will be a good thing for our family, it'll at least force me to expand my repertoire. With that in mind, here's what I made for dinner last night. 
Shrimp & White Bean Cassoulet
Back in the days before Pinterest, I used to rip recipes out of magazines and then tried to organize them in a binder (not very successfully I might add, I just ended up with a stack of folded magazine pages shoved in said binder) This recipe is from one of those pages, and since I ripped it out I'm not exactly sure where it came from, but thanks to the wonder of the internet, you can find the original recipe here. I also doubled the recipe so we would have leftovers because the first time I made it we ate the ENTIRE thing, so if you are making this for 2-4 people halve the ingredients.

What do you need:
3-4 large leeks white and  light green parks only sliced thin
5 cloves garlic minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (a couple of good shakes)
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 lb uncooked  small/medium shrimp peeled/deveined ( I used the Costco bag of frozen shrimp defrosted and removed the tails myself)
4-15 oz cans white beans ( I used Great Northern Beans)
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 cup white wine  (you could use more chicken stock instead)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth.
A handful of fresh parsley chopped
1/2 cup seasoned breadrumbs
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 375. and lightly spray a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish with Pam.
Slice the leeks and place in a bowl of cold water to rinse, swish them around a couple of times to separate into rings and remove the sand. Meanwhile mince the garlic. If you sprinkle a bit of salt on the cloves and the cutting board they won't stick as much (saw this on Food Network-Thanks Sandwich King!)

Place a pan on medium heat on the stove add the olive oil-a couple of turns of the pan.
then add the garlic and red pepper flakes
Drain the leeks and then add them to the pan too. Cook on medium heat until softened, watch the heat you don't want them to brown. while the leeks cook, prep the shrimp if they are larger you might want to cut in half. Once the leeks have cooked down they will look like this.

At this point add the shrimp and the chopped parsley (save about a tablespoon or so to add to the breadcrumb topping later on)  
Stir everything together to combine and cook until the shrimp are just beginning to turn pink. then sprinkle the flour over everything in the pan then add the white wine (a couple of glugs)  stir to combine again.
 while this cooks, open drain and rinse the white beans, then add them to the pan.
Stir it all together and then pour the chicken broth over the top and bring it all to a nice simmer. It really smells heavenly at this point, season with additional salt and pepper to taste if needed.
While pan comes to a simmer, prep the breadcrumbs. I like to combine seasoned with the panko, seasoned for flavor and panko for crunch. I also add some of the fresh parsley for color and either olive oil or melted butter (1 tablespoon) to help the breadcrumbs brown. Make sure to stir well so that all the breadcrumbs  are coated with  a bit of the oil.

Carefully pour the shrimp and bean mixture into the casserole dish and then top with the breadrumbs. 

Place into preheated  375 degree oven and bake until the top is toasted and golden brown and the casserole is bubbling and hot throughout about 20 minutes or so. I used this time to throw together a quick green salad to serve alongside.

This is absolutely yummy, delicious, comfort food on a cold day.  It is  also relatively low in calories. I am currently using the my fitness pal app and after inputing the recipe I was happy with the calorie count, only 383 calories per serving!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent,  a season of 40 days for prayer and reflection leading up to Easter.  I thought I would share a couple of things that we are doing together as a family.

One of my favorites is an online devotional called Journey to the Cross. One of my MOPS friends  shared it with me a few years ago. As a busy mom it can be tough to make time for God during the day, but for 40 days I really try to make that happen BEFORE I click onto any other internet/media related stuff. What I like about this site is they send me an email reminder to check out that day's devotion (kind of hard to ignore when it's sitting right there in your inbox.) And the fact that it's not a long wordy message, it's simple and to the point. It's also something I can go to while I'm enjoying my first cup of coffee or waiting in the carpool line.

One other thing that I thought I would share is the 5 Finger Prayer which I found a while back in Catholic Digest This is a simple way to help teach your kids how to pray for others. I recently taught my second grade Faith Formation class this method and they enjoyed it. What I like about it is its simplicity and the fact that it involves a multi-sensory approach to learning-something the former school teacher in me appreciates. Basically you use your 5 fingers to lead you in prayer with each finger representing a particular group of people.

Here is the handout I created based on the article

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Sometimes you just need a quick easy dinner that can be thrown together FAST! This is one of those recipes.

On Sunday we made a quick trip to Costco to pick up some new hangers for a closet re-do. (More on that later) and in the process picked up a couple of rotisserie chickens.
I have often seen different cooks touting the quick and easy factor of the deli roasted chicken at the local supermarket, I have to agree! We were able to get 3 different meals out of the 2 chickens we purchased for only $5 each!

Now it does involve some prep ahead work, but the time saved down the road  was a hit in my book. When we got home and unloaded/put everything away, I got down to business and tore all the meat off the chickens, discarding the skin and bones, and then put the approximately 8 cups of cooked shredded chicken  the fridge for later in the week.  

Sunday we had shredded chicken burritos, Tuesday we had a Thai Coconut Chicken with rice (I'm planing on posting that recipe too later on-still needs tweaking) The pièce de résistance was Wednesday's Chicken Tortilla Soup.The ENTIRE dinner came together in less than 30 minutes!

What do you need:
  • 1-16 oz jar of Medium Salsa ( I used La Victoria Salsa Cilantro Medium )
  •  6 cups/48 oz chicken broth/stock ( I used 1 -32 oz Box Kirkland Chicken stock and 2 cups water with 2 chicken bouillon cubes. I needed more broth and didn't want to open 2 cartons. You could also use a 15 oz can.)
  • 1-15oz can black beans drained and rinsed.
  • 1-15 oz can corn drained.
  • 3-4 cups shredded cooked chicken (approximately 1 rotisserie chicken)
  • red pepper flakes OR dried green chiles (a small palm full depending on how spicy you want it)
  • Shredded cheddar & chopped cilantro for garnish
  • Toasted tortillas or  tortilla chips to serve on the side
red pepper flakes

dried green chiles
I do realize that there are a lot of other recipes out there and they are probably yummy too but they involve more steps/ingredients. The key here is this is FAST and delicious, homemade without the all day cooking.

What to do:
  1. Place a large pot on the stove on high heat, dump in salsa, and chicken stock then stir to combine. Heat until boiling  then turn down to simmer. If you use bouillon, add the water and the cubes, they'll dissolve as the liquids heat.
  2. Add the red pepper flakes OR dried green chiles. ( I had dried green chiles in my pantry that my parents brought back from New Mexico, red pepper flakes are an easy substitute)
  3. While soup heats; open beans, drain, and rinse then dump in the pot. next drain the corn and add it as well.
  4. Once everything is simmering, add the chicken and continue to simmer as you prep the tortillas.
  5. Ladle the soup into bowls to  top with a sprinkle of grated cheddar, chopped cilantro, and even some diced avocado ( if you have one on hand-I didn't.)
I happened to have a lot of tortillas so I decided to serve the soup with some warmed & toasted on the griddle. I did this while the soup simmered. I also dished up the kids soup first and then toasted the tortillas for my husband and I while the kids servings cooled at the table.
Heat dry griddle to medium & toss on tortillas.

Once they bubble up flip them over & toast the other side
Fold into  a wedge and then serve alongside the soup, they are super yummy and tasted great. 
If you want to go more traditional, you could crumble up a few tortilla chips and sprinkle on top of the soup instead.

I served this with a very simple green salad and the whole family really liked it.
 It made enough for our family of 5 with a good amount  for leftovers later.

Adapted from Sam The Cooking Guy. He happens to be one of my favorites for quick easy and delicious recipes

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Frozen Yogurt Sticks

So it's 83 degrees outside, in February no less, gotta love California! and I thought about sharing one of my kids favorite healthy snacks- frozen yogurt sticks.

Yogurt Tubes are a quick, easy, way for kids to eat yogurt on the go, but they can get a bit messy. I am NOT a fan of cleaning up dairy products from all manner of surfaces, so anything that's going to make my life easier, I'm on it. You can get tube yogurt at any grocery store and Costco carries them too. I have also found them at Trader Joe's.     

I'm partial to the YoKids and Trader Joe's versions because we try to have our dairy products organic, hormone, and artificial ingredient free. However; I did buy the Sponge Bob GoGurt  (with no high fructose corn syrup) at Costco last time they had them in their coupon book. I will say that the Trader Joe's and YoKids are WAY easier to open, Not sure why.

So how do they go from squishy to frozen? Pop them upright in the door of your freezer, and store there. Storing them upright helps the yogurt to settle at the bottom of the tube for easier opening down the road.

Once frozen, open them up & then peel the wrapper down (like a banana)

Wrap it up with a paper napkin to make it comfortable to hold & then the kids just eat them like a Popsicle. Except NO DRIPS! As they continue to eat it they can push more yogurt up from the bottom & roll the wrapper up like. a toothpaste tube.

They are a super snack on a hot day, or anytime for that matter. 

Added bonus:  Storing them frozen also means that if you decide to pack them in their lunchbox, the tube will still be cold by lunchtime! I'm curious, do any of you do this too? What are some favorite snacks for your kids?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Why a blog?

So it seems like everyone has a blog these days, and  I'm not a huge fan of being  "trendy."   However; as a someone who enjoys teaching/helping others and reading & writing I thought this would be a fun way to share. Frequently I'm asked to share a recipe & this is a place where I can, albeit on a slightly larger scale. I have also been known to come up with a good idea or two, or at least tweak something that I've read about/seen somewhere to fit for my family.  
This is also a place where I'm able to share with friends who are not on Facebook, Google+, or Pinterest, because believe it or not, there are people like that out there, and to be honest, sometimes I envy the simplicity of their digital media free lives.
One of my favorite sayings has always been "Why reinvent the wheel?" so if there is a recipe that we've tried & enjoyed, an organizational trick that's worked for me, a fun family tradition that's worth repeating, or a really cool website that I go too frequently, I'll post them here & maybe too an occasional opinionated commentary.
As a busy mom of 3, I'm not sure how often I'll be posting but I figured I'd give it a whirl....