katiejeancooks

Real Food For Families

Happy Belated Mother’s Day!

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The last time I posted something here it was snowing…my apologies to anyone who checks in regularly! Spring has finally sprung and baseball, first communions, bike rides and trips to the local ice cream parlor have nudged blogging time aside. I’ll try to get back to posting here soon! In the meantime…check out #5 on the Mother’s Day card from my son…that makes me smile! And here is a spring pasta recipe from BBC Good Food to try out. Katie gave me a chive plant for Mother’s Day and I am planning on putting it to use in this recipe. (If you make this, note that many of the commenters said that they needed to double the amount of sauce.) I hope you are all enjoying the Spring season!

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Merry Christmas!

Enjoy the time with your loved ones and the beauty of the season!

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Making My List and Checking it Twice

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Only eight more days left until Christmas…are you ready? I’m not. I did manage to get the cards sent off in the mail today. And I spent way too much time taking photos for the cute little collage that I made (see below) of some of our Christmas decorations. Don’t you wish you could edit out all of the clutter in real life the way you can in photographs? Someone really needs to invent a way to do that. Stop buying stuff, you say? Yes. Working on that. Anyways….this post is supposed to be about Christmas morning. What does your family typically eat that morning? After you’ve gotten up at 5:30 AM because your children or your dog could not wait to see what Santa had brought them and you’ve struggled to open 53 various toys and gadgets (my brother-in-law actually ended up in the emergency room one year after an incident with a toy package and a pair of scissors) and you’ve inhaled your cup of coffee…then what? Wouldn’t it be nice if all you had to do was take a baking dish out of the fridge and put it in the oven for an hour and breakfast was done? This Sausage and Egg Breakfast Casserole can be put together the night before so that Christmas morning you can just relax…until it’s time to get the kids ready to go to mass…okay, so you won’t really be doing much relaxing. And what’s that? You don’t have time to put it together the night before because you have to wrap all of the presents, put a doll house together and go to your in laws? Never mind. Just pour yourself a bowl of Lucky Charms and go back to soaking in the Christmas morning joy and merry and brightness and all of that. It’s all good!

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SAUSAGE AND EGG BREAKFAST CASSEROLE (about 10 servings)
~1 lb. sausage, cooked and drained
~8 eggs, whisked
~6 slices whole wheat bread, cubed
~2 1/4 cups of milk
~1 cup grated cheese (cheddar, Monterey Jack, pepper jack or a combination)
~1 tsp salt
~1 tsp dry mustard

Combine all ingredients and pour into a 9×13 inch baking dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from fridge about 15 minutes before you bake it. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a knife inserted into it comes out clean.

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‘Tis the Season

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We tend to lean in the direction of chaos casual when it comes to our dinner table. Since the dining room table usually looks like this, we most often eat in the kitchen. Lots of stuff spills, we have to defend our plates from dog sneak attacks, there might occasionally be a tiny, tiny bit of bickering…all in all, pretty much your average dinner time routine. But, there are a few weeks every year, when a peaceful sense of calm drifts down over our banged up pine table. That time of year started this week…Sunday marked the beginning of Advent…and in our home we light Advent candles every night during dinner from now until Christmas Eve. Something about that soft, flickering light seems to lull my kids into a trance like state (trance like state=5 minutes to eat in peace). I’m tempted to use candles all year, but then it might not seem so magical as it always does during this time of year. On this night, we ate a simple meal of pasta, shrimp tossed with a spice mix (from Dinner, A Love Story) and corn. These few minutes together each evening, watching the candles glow, is our counterbalance to the craziness of the season. Whatever your faith is and wherever your traditions come from…take some time today to sit and eat with the people that you love.

As I was taking the photo for this post, my husband asked, “How come their faces aren’t in the picture?” This is why not…

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Thankful For…

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As we get ready to begin the holiday season, there is certainly no shortage of things to be thankful for around here. This year, I am trying to go one step further. Yes, I am grateful for the blessings in my life. But how will I use those blessings to BE a blessing to someone else?

Thankful for…
My children, who have given me a second chance to experience the magic of childhood.
My husband, who is the exact combination of loving, smart and fun that I had always wished for.
My family, who was always, and still is, a safe harbor in a world of uncertainty.
My friends…old friends who knew me when I used “pasta toss” and called it “cooking” and new friends who are making this parenting gig seem less like a “job” and more like a “walk in the park”…okay, maybe not exactly like that…maybe a marathon with funny and helpful friends jogging alongside you?
My dog…if you have a dog, I don’t need to explain. If you do not have a dog…you need to get a dog.

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If you are looking for some inspiration for your Thanksgiving table, here are some things that caught my eye this week. These free printable placemats would be fun for the kids table. Here’s a mouth watering recipe for the classic side dish that kids (and grown ups!) love. And if you are feeling nostalgic, take a look at what was on the table in the 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM OUR KITCHEN TO YOURS!

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Trick or Treat?

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I’m sending you around the web today to check out some of my favorite Fall treat ideas. This from “A Life From Scratch” is just adorable. If you are a “real food” purist…can’t go wrong with these from “Eating From The Ground Up”. And finally, if you’re wondering what NOT to give out on Halloween night, check out this informative post. Drat! I have little packages of #1 all ready to go…who knew?! Have a wonderfully spooky and safe Halloween!

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Five Things I Learned From My Mom About Mothering

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My Mom probably probably thinks that she didn’t have time to teach me too much while I was growing up. I am the oldest of eight children and her days were a never ending whirlwind of changing diapers, preparing meals, doing laundry and struggling to figure out how to make ends meet. But teach me she did, whether she knew it or not…and now that I am a mother, I am grateful for the lessons she passed on.

1. Sitting down together as a family to eat dinner is not always easy, but it is one of the things that your children will always remember. We all sat down to dinner at 5:30 almost every single day of my childhood. It wasn’t usually fancy and something almost always spilled, but we were all there and we talked and laughed and teased and those are some of the best memories of my life.
2. It’s important to invest just as much in your marriage as you do in your kids. I don’t know how they managed to make this happen, but my parents almost always got a sitter for us on Saturday nights and they went out together, just the two of them.
3. Let your kids make their own, age appropriate decisions. I’m absolutely sure that I made many decisions that my Mom did not agree with as I was entering into my late teens and early adulthood, but she never pressured me or tried to use guilt to influence my choices. I gained a tremendous amount of self confidence by making more and more of my own decisions as I approached adulthood.
4. Your kids will remember the time you spent with them much more than the money you spent on them. There was never enough money, but there was always enough time…to go to the track meets and the concerts, to take us to story time at the library, to take us to church, to help us with our homework, to visit our grandparents, to set up the sprinkler, to show us how to make Queen Ann’s Lace turn pink and blue, to take care of a pet rabbit, to visit Mr. And Mrs. Briggs down the street. I know there were things that I wanted…that I thought I needed…that we couldn’t afford…but it’s hard to remember now, what those things were.
5. Things don’t always go smoothly…and that’s okay. I know that my Mom’s days sometimes didn’t go that well, and that there were a lot of struggles along the way…but in the end…things always worked out…and she trusted God’s plan for her and her family.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

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Does the Easter Bunny Believe in Real Food?

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The Easter Bunny and I have sort of a love hate relationship. While I am grateful for the annual joy and excitement his visit brings to my children…sometimes I question his judgement when it comes to picking out the treats that he puts in the plastic grass laden baskets. Sure, I have read all those colorful books he has written about how he and his helpers make all of the candy by hand and then painstakingly decorate everything with their paintbrushes. But sometimes, I am suspicious that he runs out of time and just swings by Target and loads up on goodies that have artificial dyes and…really…it is not easy to find candy in the stores that doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup listed as the first ingredient. I know the Easter Bunny must feel the same economic pressures and time constraints that we all have been dealing with…so I try to be understanding. For the most part, I just back off and let him do what he needs to do and don’t go all “crazy organic real food mom” on him. But this year, since I am writing a food blog about trying to cut back on processed food, I’m having a hard time just looking the other way. I feel that I must, at least, give him a couple of tips. So…Mr. Easter Bunny…I respectfully make the following suggestions for you to use, as you see fit, while filling all of your basket orders this year.

TIPS FOR THE EASTER BUNNY:
1. Go for quality over quantity. My kids really don’t need as much candy as you think they do! I’d rather you spend a bit more time and/or money on a few things made with better ingredients than giving them enough candy to feed a small nation.
2. Sprinkle in some non-candy items. Trading cards, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, new markers, hair accessories, jewelry, travel versions of games, nail polish, Pokemon balls (or whatever the small toy obsession of the month happens to be) would all be much appreciated at our house.
3. Include a gift card to their favorite ice cream shop (I know that may not be healthy either, but it helps to spread out the treats).
4. Toss in a couple of homemade cookies, brownies, or pieces of fudge, decorated for Easter.
5. Give them a special “coupon” or “ticket” for a non-food treat…I know my kids would love a ticket for some extra time on the iPad or a coupon that says they can sleep in a bit later some morning and be driven to school. I will, of course, help out with any reasonable non-food treats that you come up with.
6. Make the “looking for the basket” part of the morning more fun by sending them on a treasure hunt, with clues placed around the house, one leading them to the next.

So…I hope that you don’t think I’m meddling too much in your affairs…you are, after all, the Easter Bunny, and you certainly know what you are doing when it comes to “bringing every girl and boy a basketful of Easter joy”. Thank you for your many years of service, both to myself and my children. I’ll be sure to leave you an organic carrot or two. Happy Easter!

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