Thursday, September 26, 2013

How to Make Supper...Without Losing Your Mind

I love to cook, but I enjoy cooking even more when I'm not rushed and stressed.  

I'm learning how to use my time wisely during the day, so I'm not super rushed at supper time.  

This especially comes in handy when we are having friends over for supper, like we did last night!  I don't like being the stressed out hostess who is running in a million different directions.  I'd much rather be able to focus on my guests.

I think it's equally important to not be stressed while preparing a regular meal for my family.  I want to be able to set the tone for a happy, engaged family meal even before we sit down at the table.


Our menu for last night:

Hawaiian Sloppy Joes (I doubled it)
Chips
Apples and Dip (recipe in this post)
Brownies (the winning recipe :))
Jolly Rancher Drink (aka Strawberry Watermelon Walmart Crystal Light drink)

While Maggie and Gracie were coloring at the table after Sesame Street, I chopped and cooked up a pound of bacon, drained it, put it in a bowl and popped it in the fridge.


I zipped up 2 green peppers and 2 red onions in the food processor.  If I make this recipe again, I would use just 1 green pepper and celery in place of the second green pepper.  I would also chop the veggies by hand.  The food processor made really irregularly sized pieces.


I minced 8 cloves of garlic and chopped up fresh ginger to make 2 teaspoons.


Don't be afraid of fresh ginger.  It's really inexpensive and packs a nice flavor punch!

I put 1 pound of ground turkey and 1 pound of ground beef in a big pot and start browning it over medium heat.  When it was cooked about half way, I added the veggies, garlic, and ginger.


Once it's all the way cooked, I let it cool for a bit, then put the cover on the pot and popped it in the fridge next to the bacon.


That probably took 25 or so minutes.  

Now, my morning is free to play with the girls, avoid folding laundry, pay my library fines...you know, the usual :)

As I was making PB&Js for lunch, I pulled out an 8 ounce package of lite cream cheese and set it on the counter to soften.



After lunch, Maggie and Gracie helped me make the apple dip!


It's really important to me that the girls know how to cook.  I would think the same thing about boys if we had sons!  We count, talk, work on fine motor skills, talk about nutrition, and more when we cook.  There's a lot of good things that come along with cooking with your kids!

Easy Apple Dip!  Only 3 ingredients: cream cheese, brown sugar, and vanilla!

All you need for the amazing Apple Dip is:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla

I had the girls cream the cream cheese before we added the brown sugar and vanilla.  I feel like that helps prevent lumps.  So, yeah, beat the cream cheese until smooth, add the brown sugar and vanilla and mix until well combined and creamy.  Refrigerate for about an hour before serving to chill.  You can top with chopped peanuts, but I didn't have any on hand.

I put the apple dip in the fridge until supper time.

Then, Maggie and Gracie helped measure the ingredients for the sloppy joe sauce.


I whisked the sauce together and let it sit on the counter for about 45 minutes.  In those 45 minutes, I read books to the girls and got them down for naps.

Around 2:00, I put the meat and veggies (not bacon) in the slow cooker and stirred in the sauce.


I cooked it on high for the first hour and switched it to low until we were ready to eat!

I talked to Aaron on the phone and had some down time until the girls woke up from their naps.

Leah had been asking to make brownies, so I let her make them when she got home from school!


This was her second time making the brownies, and she's getting quite good at it!  She still has questions and I still check to make sure she isn't getting egg shells in or under-measuring an ingredient.

While she was mixing, I was doing up some dishes, making the Jolly Rancher drink (I swear, it tastes just like a watermelon Jolly Rancher!), and slicing the buns.


Around 5:00, I stirred the bacon into the sloppy joes.

Evan and Bri came over a little after 5:00, so I talked to Bri while I cut apples, and she opened the bags of chips.


When Andy and Steph came over, we were pretty much ready to go!

So, there you have it!  That's how I made supper, with talkative kids underfoot, without losing my mind!

Now, if only I could be so organized every day...

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