Recent Reads and Wondering if My Book Quitting Habit is Linked to Reading Digital Copies

I just finished the book, Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler.  The book gets compared to To Kill a Mockingbird, The Help and The Notebook.

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I really enjoyed this book.  And while it does bring to mind some of the books mentioned above, I wouldn’t put it in the same category.  It’s definitely a good read though, and if you like this genre of fiction I think you’ll like Calling Me Home too.

This week on the blog, one of the most clicked recipes has been Chicken and Dumplings.  Which makes me think of Crisco, since some people use Crisco to make dumplings.  And that makes me think of the wonderful Crisco scene in The Help.  I may need to watch this movie again soon!

I’ve mentioned The Noticer by Andy Andrews before.  I decided to start our school year off by reading The Noticer aloud to the kids.  I think there is a kid version of this book, but since my kids are older* and since I own this version, this is what we read.  They really liked this book.  We had a lot of good discussions prompted by the story.

the noticer collage

 

I’m planning to read The Noticer Returns later in the year, as well as The Traveler’s Gift, which is also by Andy Andrews.  I highly recommend all of these books.

*{Yes, I read out loud to my kids, even when they’re in high school.  And yes, they read for themselves as well.  One benefit is being able to stop to discuss things as we go.  There are other benefits too, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.}

Insight into my book quitting habit

I’ve shared before that I have a bad habit of quitting books part way through.  I’m a slow reader and if the book starts to drag or get long or I get distracted I will just quit reading it.  This is something I’m finding frustrating about myself.

Recently I gave up on The House at Riverton by Kate Morton.  I’d been reading it in my Scrib’d account, but decided to cancel the account.  I’d already put the book aside by then anyway, but I’m not sure why.  I was enjoying it.  Even now I remember where I left off in the story.

I do have a suspicion though – I read on my Kindle a lot, especially using the app on my phone.  It’s just so handy.  But I also think it makes it easy to quit the book.  In contrast, I read a paperback version of Calling Me Home.  I did get to  a point in that book where I felt like giving up, but I could see that I was half way through.  So I kept reading and finished the book.

The Kindle also lets you know how far you’ve read in a book, but that doesn’t have the same impact for me as seeing the physical pages before and after my bookmark.

Maybe I really need to be reading paper books instead of digital.  But I do love my Kindle too!  It’s easy to hold.  I can carry a whole library with me.  The books download instantly.

So, I’m conflicted.

Has anyone else experienced this problem of quitting books more often if you’re reading digitally?

 

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Give up on perfect and embrace good enough for weeknight dinners

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I know that picture is weird.  The cauliflower looks blue in places.  But I’m embracing the imperfect with this post and encouraging you to do the same.

That photo shows how I cut cauliflower quickly for a side dish to go with a weeknight meal.  It takes all of 1 minute to cut up the head and have the veggies in the pan cooking.

In an ideal world, we would all have time for elaborate dinner prep.  We’d make our time in the kitchen unhurried.  Sometimes those slow evenings happen and it’s wonderful when it does.

But many nights dinner prep happens fast and furious, either coming at the tail end of a long day or squeezed in between activities.

I’d much rather get the cooking done fast, even if it means it’s not perfect.  I want to have a nutritious meal with my family, preferably with plenty of time around the table to eat together.  And I’m willing to sacrifice the “right” way to do things for just getting it done.

As part of the 15 Minute Meal series, I’ll be sharing quick cooking tips with you.  This week though, instead of a tip, I wanted to share this perspective:

Dinner doesn’t have to be perfect or elaborate.  A simple meal with your family is a weeknight gift.  Enjoy it!

Whether your having pot roast or grilled cheese sandwiches, the important thing is that you’re having dinner together.

One more note:

Sometimes it’s hard to get everyone together.  Once kids grow into the teen years, they are busy with work and activities.  Just as dinner doesn’t have to be perfect, not everyone has to be home for it to count as a family dinner.

At our table, sometimes we’ve got 7 people for dinner.  And sometimes it’s just two of us.  Either way, we still make it a habit to sit down together with whoever may be home.  Whenever family members are gathered at the table – no matter how few or how many- it still counts as a family dinner.

 

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15 Minute Meal Series – Popcorn Chicken Parmesan

I’ve created a lot of recipes, but this one for Popcorn Chicken Parmesan is one of my favorites.

Popcorn Chicken Parmesan - 15 Minute Meal

 

A friend mentioned at church the other day that her family really likes this recipe too.  It’s not only quick and easy, it’s also full of flavor.

The frozen popcorn chicken is an excellent “cheat” for speeding things up.  It gets tossed with garlic, olive oil and parmesan cheese then put in the oven to bake a few minutes.

Meanwhile, you’ll whip up a homemade sauce and boil the pasta.  So easy, but it tastes like you really spent a long time fixing dinner.

Find the recipe for Popcorn Chicken Parmesan here.

15 Minute Meals for Back to School

This post is part of our new series on 15 Minute Meals.  You can find the other posts in the series linked here.

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Peach Chutney Chicken Salad – 15 Minute Meal

Peach Chutney Chicken Salad

 

This is some of the best chicken salad I think I’ve ever eaten.

The addition of peach chutney and curry powder really elevates this stand-by.

The Peach Chutney gets made in the slow cooker and then frozen in small batches.  I’ve loved having it in the freezer.  I’ve made 15 Minute Chicken Curry Skillet using the chutney several times already.

You can have this chicken salad ready in less than 15 minutes, providing you have chicken cooked and ready to go.  I keep chicken in the freezer for fast meals like this.

And although I used homemade chutney, you can also use a jar of store-bought.

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more...]

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3 Things that Work in the Kitchen this Week – August 25

3 Things that work in the kitchen

 

Chicken Party

Meredith and I have been having semi-regular chicken parties recently.  What’s a chicken party, you ask?

We hit up Costco and buy 4-5 chickens.  Then we bring them home and take the meat off the bones, pack it in zip top bags and stick it in the freezer.  This is one of my favorite quick cooking tips.

I used to cook chicken for stashing away, but since Costco is so close to us now I usually just buy theirs.  At $5 for a large rotisserie chicken, it’s hard to beat.

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Sometimes I buy the white meat that’s already packaged.  I then repackage that into 2-3 separate zip top bags.  Honestly, I think the taste is better when I use their whole chickens.  Maybe it’s because that also includes the dark meat.  And it’s a bit cheaper to use the whole chickens too.

We often drag other people into our chicken party.  Both Jim and Mia are great at picking the meat from the bones.  More people make for a better party ;)

One thing we haven’t tried yet is making broth from the bones.  I know this is easy and good and I have no excuse for avoiding it.  If you make broth this way, tell me about it in the comments.

Here’s a post I wrote on how to use and freeze the meat from a Costco chicken.

Picnic for the soccer game

Isaac had a soccer game in Louisville one night.  Instead of grabbing dinner at a fast food place, which would have taken more time (we were late to the game anyway!), I made a Pasta Salad.

This is one of my go-to game night meals.  I can fix it ahead of time and mix in either rotisserie or grilled chicken.  And the pasta salad recipe is so adaptable.  This time I used a little broccoli, carrots, a large tomato instead of the cherry tomatoes I usually use.  I was out of bow tie pasta, so I used shells instead.

We did stop at Culver’s after the game for frozen custard though!

New giant skillet

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I’ve been needing a large skillet for a long time.  My daughter had gotten one in a Christmas gift exchange a couple of years ago.  She kept it in her room, waiting and ready for when she was married, but I borrowed it several times.  Well, now she’s gone and she took her skillet with her!

I found this one on sale at Amazon the other day for just $18.65.  It’s a 5 quart skillet with non-stick coating.  Perfect for lots of things, including a big pan of Migas.  I don’t know how long it will be on sale, but I couldn’t resist snatching it up at that price.

What’s been working for you in the kitchen this week?

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Sausage and Corn Quesadillas – a 15 Minute Meal (and a giveaway!)

15 minute Sausage and Corn Quesadillas

 

One way to make quick dinners is to wrap something – almost anything, really – in a tortilla.  I keep tortillas on hand in the pantry, because they’re great for nights when I’m wondering what I’m going to fix.

Oh yes.  I have those nights too, where I stand in front of the pantry and fridge surveying the contents.  Some of my best recipes come from those forced cooking sessions.

Here’s how I create those recipes.  I’m going to share my system so you can do the same thing.  Some of you already cook this way, but for others it’s a new experience.

Let’s say you’ve got a pack of tortillas handy.  Knowing a quick meal can be pulled together using those, we’ll start there.

Sausage and Corn Quesadillas ingr

Next, check your fridge and freezer for any meat you may have.  Leftover cooked chicken, ground beef or pork and even sausage can be used.  For this meal, I chose Italian sausage.  It doesn’t have to be Mexican to be wrapped in a tortilla.  No rules here!

You’re also going to want cheese.  Tortillas and cheese are like peanut butter and jelly.  They belong together!  For this recipe, I grabbed a block of Monterey Jack and started grating.

You could stop there if you wanted.  Sausage and cheese would be filling all on it’s own.  But since I had half a jalapeño and some frozen corn, I decided to add those.  You could also use red or green bell peppers, onion, garlic, zucchini…let your imagination and pantry guide you.

Now it’s just a matter of deciding how to cook what you’ve got.  This would make wonderful enchiladas.  Just add a simple red sauce to the top and bake.

But I was in a hurry, so I chose to make quesadillas.  Crispy on the outside and melty on the inside.  Everyone loves these!

Here’s the recipe, but keep reading for the giveaway!

Sausage and Corn Quesadillas – a 15 Minute Meal

Yield: 6 servings

Sausage and Corn Quesadillas – a 15 Minute Meal

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Italian sausage
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeds removed and diced
  • 8 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 8 - 10 Azteca tortillas
  • oil or cooking spray

Instructions

  1. Cook sausage over medium heat in a skillet until done.
  2. Add corn and jalapeño and heat through.
  3. Spread sausage/corn mix on one half of tortilla.
  4. Top with cheese and fold tortilla over.
  5. Cook over medium heat in large skillet or griddle until toasted on the outside.
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http://eatathomecooks.com/2014/08/sausage-and-corn-quesadillas-a-15-minute-meal-and-a-giveaway.html

Azteca Tortilla Giveaway!

I love Azteca tortillas.  They have no preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup and no artificial flavors or colors.  Quick meals can be healthy!  Since I often shop at Walmart, I like that I can find Azteca products there.

Azteca is giving away a Back to School Prize Pack to one lucky winner.  The prize pack includes:

·         $50 Walmart Gift Card

·         Azteca Free Product Coupon

·         Meal Planning Notepad

·         Tupperware Container

·         Dry Erase Wall Decal Calendar

Azteca prize pack

To enter:

Leave a comment telling me how long you usually spend cooking a weeknight dinner.  Winner will be chosen randomly on 8/28 and notified by email.

Disclosure:  I have been compensated by Azteca for my time, but all opinions are my own.

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15 Minute Meal Series for Back to School (or any time!)

15 Minute Meals for Back to School

 

I love to cook for my family, but on weeknights I’m often in a time crunch.  It’s not uncommon for me to be working away and look up at the clock and realize it’s already 5:30 or after.

But I’ve learned that by using a few tricks, it’s possible to get dinner on the table in just 15 minutes.  A few years ago, I wrote an ebook with 15 minute recipes.

Feast in 15 needs to be updated, but that doesn’t keep me from pulling it out and cooking those recipes.  They work and they’re fast.

Now I want to share some more quick recipes and tips with you.  You can get dinner fixed and ready in just 15 minutes!

Tomorrow I’ve got a brand new 15 minute recipe for you.  Then starting next week and running through September, I’ll be sharing new recipes that I’ve created, as well as highlighting some good ones that have already been published on the blog.

I’ll also be sharing tips for cooking fast.  There are some techniques that help you move through the prep process quickly.

You can do anything for 15 minutes, even if you hate cooking.  Or think you don’t have time.  Or your day has left you worn out.

In fact, I’m not sure you can even get through the drive-thru in much less time, especially if you factor in your travel time.  Save your money and eat at home!  15 minutes is all you need.

I’ll be gathering the links right here on this post as we move through the series.  So save this page, pin it, share it on Facebook!  You’ll want to come back here for recipes and tips!

I’ll see you tomorrow for an easy Mexican recipe.   I’ve also got a Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup that’s made from scratch and done in 15 minutes.  And there’s much more coming too!

Eat at Home Weekly Meal Plans often have 15 minute meal recipes included.  If you’d like to save time on your planning and get organized, give the plans a try!

 Get a FREE week of Weekly Meal Plans and Grocery Lists sent to you now!

Click the image below:

15 Minute Meal List:

Sausage and Corn Quesadillas

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What’s next? Changes coming to the blog (hint: I think you’re going to like it!)

We are rapidly coming to the end of the 100 Days of Summer Slow Cooker Recipes series.

Whew!

This series has been a great one!  We’ve shared everything from fish, to desserts, to granola, to dips, to Indian food, to Mexican, to…well, just about everything!

I’ve had a blast with it, but in all honesty I’m ready to move on.  And I bet you are too.

Bookmark that post though, because all those slow cooker meals will come in handy as school gets back in session.

But let’s turn our attention to something else, shall we?

3 Things That Work

3 Things that work in the kitchen

I have struggled with my Monday posts for a while now.  I used to share menus with you.  For a long while, I shared what my family was eating each week.  I’ve found it hard to make these posts both useful and interesting for all of us.

After much pondering, I’ve decided to try sharing 3 Things That Work.  Each Monday, I’ll think back over the last week and post about 3 things that worked in my kitchen, for our family meals, for shopping for groceries etc.

I want to make this a fresh, easy to read post with tidbits of useful info.  We’ll see how it goes ;)

A New Series is Coming

15 Minute Meals for Back to School

For the last couple weeks of August and the month of September, we’ve got a new series starting.  This one won’t be an everyday series though.  Look for recipe posts a couple times a week, plus quick cooking tips posts on Thursdays.

The series kicks off this Thursday with a new 15 minute recipe.  Here’s to cooking quick after a summer of slow!

Looking Ahead…

During the month of October we’ll focus on repurposed leftovers.  Cook once, eat twice!

And of course, we’ll be sharing plenty of good comfort foods, fall favorites, baked goods and more over the next few months too.

Make Meal Planning and Shopping Easier!

eah weekly meal plans 3

If you’d like to make quick work of your meal planning and shopping, check out our Weekly Meal Plans.  They’re color-coded so they’re easy to use and a lot more fun than shopping with a spreadsheet.

Choose from Traditional, Slow Cooker or Whole Foods Plans.  Each plan is full of simple meals.  Find out more here! 

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Cranberry Apple Butter -100 Days of Summer Slow Cooker Recipes

Fall is just around the corner, and our summer slow cooker series is coming to an end!

Cranberry-Apple-Butter

Today is the very last day of our 100 days of summer slow cooker recipes series! It’s been such a great journey through so many delicious recipes and it’s been fun to show case just how much of a versatile, time saving tool your slow cooker really is. And it’s not just for summertime! You can take these recipes and use them all year long to free you up during any busy season.

Apple season is almost upon us, and if you want your house to smell like fall, this is the recipe for you.  It’s as simple as putting ingredients into your slow cooker and letting it do the magic of cooking it down. All you have to do is show up with a fresh slice of bread and spread on a taste of the new season.

Click here to go over and get this recipe.

If you love using your slow cooker–or just want to learn more about what you can do with it–I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of 100 summer slow cooker recipes. There are endless things you can do with your slow cooker.

This is day 100 of our 100 Days of Summer Slow Cooker Recipes series.  You can click here to find all 1oo of these great slow cooker dishes! 

Also, don’t forget to Check out our All Slow Cooker Weekly Meal Plan.  It’s got all the planning done for you (including the grocery list) so you can go enjoy summer!

100 Days of Summer Slow Cooker Recipes

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Chocolate Tapioca Pudding -100 Days of Summer Slow Cooker Recipes

Wind down your day with one of the most comforting desserts I know of!

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Sundays are the gateway to the new week. Even though they are often filled with a lot of coming and going, it’s a good idea to take a little time to unwind, relax and let yourself take it easy for a little while before another week of busy, busy, busy starts. I think dessert is a great way to do that. Tapioca pudding is an ultimate comfort dessert in my mind. Creamy, chocolatey and with some whipped cream on top? Sounds perfect!

Head on over to Simple Nourished to get this recipe.

We’re sharing 100 days of summer slow cooker meals.  This is day 99.  Keep your kitchen cool – don’t miss a single recipe.  Subscribe to the email list. You find the other posts in this series by clicking here.

100 Days of Summer Slow Cooker Recipes

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