We offer daily encouragement for women in the areas of faith, healthy eating, family friendly recipes, menu planning, gardening, parenting, and fun. Be strong. Pray often. Win the battles. Seek Jesus. Take naps.
If it seems too simple, that’s because it is. Today I am sharing what is so obvious, you probably already thought of it yourself. Still, it is worth taking the time to mention the idea to take the Simple Make-Ahead Parmesan Meatballs, add sauce, and make the meatballs into a brand new meal of Simple Saucy Parmesan Meatballs!
Oh how I love food that is versatile like this. When we can make one recipe, but turn it into whatever we need it to be – now THAT is a recipe to keep in our back pockets!
Like literally. Print this out and put it in your back pocket. Later, you’ll reach in and say, “Oh! I have something in my back pocket. Could it be a $5 bill I forgot about? No? It’s a recipe for Simple Make-Ahead Parmesan Meatballs? Well that’s even better than surprise cash!”
Yes, that is exactly the scenario that will happen when you put this recipe in your back pocket.
Now my friends, watch and see how easy it is to make a delightful (and ridiculously obvious) variation to our newly beloved Simple Make-Ahead Parmesan Meatballs. We shall now add sauce, serve them with our favorite pasta, and make everyone in our family very happy. But no one will quite be as happy as we are because we are the ones cooking the food and we are the happiest about the ease of this recipe idea!
Who gets excited about something silly like Simple Make-Ahead Parmesan Meatballs? This girl. Indeed, I get very, very excited.
I like beef. I like meatballs. I like anything that can be made ahead of time. No. Scratch that. I LOVE anything that can be made ahead of time. And if it’s also made from beef, well, that makes me one happy girl!
You can make this recipe ahead and store the meatballs in the fridge or freezer UNBAKED. Or you can PRE-BAKE up a huge batch and pull out a few as needed to reheat quickly. This recipe is flexible to meet your family’s needs!
Here’s an idea for you. Make extra Popcorn Chicken to serve in tacos for a super simple meal! Popcorn Chicken Tacos are surprisingly good and of course, super fun.
Here’s our very easy, very delicious Popcorn Chicken Recipe. I love making a double, or triple, or quadruple batch of this chicken and then freezing it to reheat at another time for a super easy meal. As an extra fun variation, I reheat it and we use it to build tacos any way we like!
If you don’t have these yet, or if you do have them and need to be reminded to pull them out again, here are our FREE Spring Learning Activities for Kids!
As a special gift to you as you might find yourself needing to little help getting over winter blues and spring fever, I’ve created March “In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb” Activity Packets. They are FREE.
There’s a packet for Pre-K to enjoy, as well as a packet for K-5 to enjoy. Use them in whatever works best for your family!
Just like the March Packets, there is a Spring Activity Packet for both Pre-K and for K-5. You can download one or both. (I mean, they’re free, right?) They include fun springtime learning activities and a few coloring pages too. I like coloring pages for read-aloud time. I always found that my kids listened better when I was reading if they were doing something to occupy their hands! Plus, your kids can give away their colored pages to someone to offer them some springtime cheer!
I’m super excited to share that signing up for these freebies will connect you to our new Heavenly Homemaker’s Learning Zone. It’s free, of course. You can unsubscribe at any time, your info will never be shared or sold, and being on this list means that you’ll be the first to know of the other fun (yes, FUN!) educational tools we’re putting together!
I taught all of his brothers. It was well worth the effort as now our 14, 17, 19, and 21-year-old sons are quite proficient in the kitchen. It only makes sense then that we would take our 5-year old Bonus Boy into the kitchen and start teaching him to cook.
About the time I started counting down to the empty nest years, as I joyfully started to say “that’s the last time I’ll ever need to XYZ for one of my kids,” while I was beginning to eagerly look into the very near future of life with no more intense parenting requirements, God showed me that He clearly had other, better plans. He provided for us a Bonus Boy. This one with chocolate brown eyes and a giggle that fills our entire house with laughter.
I’m learning to balance the needs of my adult and teen children with the needs of a little one. I find myself juggling two seasons at once, paying college bills with one hand while wiping a nose with the other. Somewhere in there, I’m squeezing in Government and History lessons with my high school and middle school aged sons.
Once again, I have found myself pulling up the stool in the kitchen for the little guy, showing him how to crack eggs without getting it all over the…oops. Too late. Let’s clean it up and try again. Meanwhile, my high schooler is scrambling his own eggs over at the stove. He used to be the one smashing eggs onto the countertop. Now he is capable and resourceful – and if I need him to, he’ll make an entire meal for the family.
Aww, it’s our little Malachi. The same Malachi who now shaves and is taller than me. Here he is now —>
I know this will be the outcome for our newest one too. So I patiently clean up the egg slime with Bonus Boy and we practice again cracking an egg without making a mess. I show him (again) how to stir the muffin batter without flinging the…oops. Let’s clean up the flour mess on the countertop and try again.
The messes? They are worth it. The effort and time and energy it takes to teach a child how to cook? My adult and teen sons prove that it absolutely is all worth it.
I never thought I’d again be teaching a little one to cook, but well, never say never. God’s plans are much bigger, much wiser, and much better than ours. My chocolate-eyed boy proves this to me daily, filling me with wonder at what else God has in the works.
I’ve said it many times but I’ll say it again: Teach your kids to cook.
Even if it’s just the basics, give them the know-how they need to be comfortable in the kitchen. It’s good for them, but it’s even BETTER FOR YOU!!! With all the major changes in our lives (fostering and adopting kids!), if my big kids didn’t know how to cook, there would be days we would be scrambling to eat because my time is so limited right now.
Need some resources to help you know where to start?
We have this great eCookbook package that is a huge help!
Get 5 awesome Kids in the Kitchen eBooks, cookbooks, and curriculum, all for just $20! You'll love all the kid friendly (real food!) recipes, the activities, the games, and the lessons provided to help you teach your kids to cook.
As soon as I’m able, I’ll share more details about how God has brought us to this surprising and beautiful time in our lives. My writing time is extremely limited now, and for some very sweet and tiny reasons. Whatever you do, don’t make plans. God makes plans. We simply get to learn to trust and obey Him as we walk our daily journey with Him!
I have a new favorite cheat meal, and I don’t even feel bad about it.
It was about this time last year that I wrote my Beyond the Free Range Chicken post. In that post, I expressed that while I still love and desire to feed my family as healthy as possible, I’ve learned that it is more important to focus my time and energy outside the kitchen loving people. What’s more important?
Raw milk and organic produce? OR
Loving God and loving our neighbors?
I’m going to go with The Greatest Commandment.
Learning to Love
Little did I know what God was doing in our lives as He was teaching us to take hold of His commands and the promises of joy that came with them! He’s helping us learn to love better, to see people, and to share the hope He constantly provides. Meanwhile, He moved a 4-year old Bonus Boy into our house. He’s the son of one of the “neighbors we were loving on.” The 4-year old turned 5, and after a few months, it was decided that our family would adopt him.
The busy lives we had been living became much, much busier – but no matter because God has been in every part, perfectly providing everything we need. He’s been showing us during all of this how to let go of what isn’t important for His Kingdom and to fix our eyes more firmly on what He has to offer.
I could share thousands of words about all we are learning. But today, regarding food? Here’s a biggie I’ve learned: Who cares if you sometimes need to eat a less-than-perfect meal if the tradeoff is having more time to share Jesus’ love with others? Pray over the food, throw out the mixed greens or easy veggie to go with it, and trust that God is still providing His best for you.
This leads me to share my current favorite cheat meal. Don’t get too excited. It’s not even something to pass out over.
My Current Favorite Cheat Meal
It’s homemade-ish pizza.
Sure, I can make homemade pizza crust. Here’s the recipe for the days you have time. It’s fabulous. I recommend it. But you know what else I recommend for the days you don’t have time (because you’ve been sharing God’s love with people)?
Pre-made Pizza Crust. Organic…or not. Whole grain…or not. God is bigger, my friends. It’s just a pizza crust. This should not make us lose sleep. God’s purposes for our lives are bigger than the occasional serving of white flour.
I now regularly buy pre-made pizza crusts to keep in my freezer. About once every week, between foster care meetings and court dates and diapers and bottles and therapy appointments, I ask my big boys pull some out and top them as they please. This is our lunch or our dinner and it is so easy!
How do I make it healthier?
First, I don’t stress over it. A peaceful heart is great for one’s health. Second, we pull out mixed greens and eat salad with it. Often fresh fruit too. Again – SO EASY. It’s also fun and tasty, an added bonus.
And there you have it: My favorite cheat meal.
In the tug of war for all that demands our attention, loving people should win every time!
There is no popcorn involved in the making of this Popcorn Chicken. You can simply pop it into your mouth as if it is popcorn, and it is definitely coated in butter. But otherwise, it is nothing like popcorn. So sorry for any confusion.
You can make these ahead and freeze them. You can eat them in a variety of ways. They are super kid-friendly, which is a plus whether you have kids or not. (What? Some grown-ups really like kid-friendly recipes, am I right?)
This Simple Popcorn Chicken tastes good hot or cold. I do prefer it hot, but made ahead and packed cold in a lunch box? Still great!
We love eating this Popcorn Chicken as-is with a few fruits and veggies on the side. But it’s also amazing in a tossed salad!
Just in case you have forgotten this truth, here it is again: Cooking meals for our families does not have to be a difficult job. This Simple 5-Minute Shredded Chicken is going to drop-kick the “cooking is hard” lie straight out the window.
Even if you don’t enjoy cooking, you can make this. Even if you don’t have time to cook, you can make this. Even if you can’t afford to spend much on groceries, you can make this. Even if you forgot to thaw meat, you can make this. Even if the idea of making a homemade meal brings tears to your eyes – wipe your tears, find 5-minutes, and make this. Even if you’re allergic to poultry…oh wait. That one is for real. If that is the case, please don’t make this.
To sum up, unless you are allergic to birds, there is no reason you should not make this (overuse of negatives, anyone?). Just make the chicken.
Let’s take a moment to get excited together about why making this Simple 5-Minute Chicken is a fabulous idea:
It takes 5-minutes of “work.” This was obvious, but worth shouting about because no one can even go through a drive-thru in 5-minutes.
You can make several meals worth of this chicken at the same time, storing it in the fridge or freezer, then pulling it out to add to meals as needed. This means that if you make 3-meals worth of this chicken at once, your 5-minutes of effort turns out 1.6666-Minute Chicken. #mathintherealworld
If you have made this chicken ahead of time and you are storing it in your fridge, you now have ready-made chicken which has now become 0-Minute Chicken.
Simple 5-Minute Chicken tastes really good and it is real food. We can’t say that about all convenience food, now can we?
Please note that the following recipe is barely a recipe. I am here to make your real food cooking life EASY. Simply get out chicken and get out spices. Place in crock pot, sprinkle, plug in, walk away, enjoy.
It all started when our oldest was about 2-years old. Seeing as that little boy is almost a college graduate and God has started us on a brand new journey of raising and fostering children – we thought it was time to bring back the Scripture Memory Cards our family has been using for so long. But we also thought they needed a make-over! Look how beautiful!
There are 12 Scripture Memory Cards in all!
For years and years, we have used our family meal times for Bible reading and Scripture memory. When our boys were little, while we sat at the table for lunch or dinner, we started a practice that got dubbed “Repeat Afters.” Mom and Dad would speak a few lines of scripture, the kids would repeat after us, and we’d continue phrase-by-phrase until the verse was complete. Like this:
Dad: In the beginning… Kids and Mom: In the beginning Dad: God created… Kids and Mom: God created Dad: the heavens and the earth. Kids and Mom: the heavens and the earth.
The kids and Mom all took turns leading “Repeat Afters” too. So when our first set of kids was little, we’d work together to recite six verses during each meal.
In no time at all, our little ones learned scripture after scripture in this way! The more they learned and the older they got, the more scripture we added to the repertoire. And as their understanding grew, we continued to add scriptures that helped us with parenting needs. Such as:
As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
Siblings sometimes need to hear that one, am I right? ;)
Scripture Memory Cards for you!
You can use these Scripture Memory Cards however you like. For a limited time, they are FREE for you to download and print and use with your family!
Peanut butter is a great source of healthy fat and protein, but also, it just tastes delicious. Pair it with chocolate, and all we need is a glass of milk and a smile. Today we’ve got 40+ Real Food Recipes that Include Natural Peanut Butter. But first, let’s talk about making homemade peanut butter. It’s incredibly easy!
As my life has become more full (ha, I didn’t think that was even possible!) – I’ve stopped making every single food from scratch. I’m looking at you Homemade Ketchup and Homemade Hashbrowns. But Homemade Peanut Butter? I can’t not make it. The homemade version is just too incredible. So I take 5-pounds of peanuts and spend the time turning them all into peanut butter. One mess, 6ish jars of homemade peanut butter. Fast, easy, and WORTH IT.
Here are the tutorials for making peanut butter. Be amazed at how easy!
See that recipe up there for Homemade Peanut Butter Captain Crunch? Ha! I’d forgotten about that one! If I’m not taking the time to make ketchup or hashbrowns anymore, I’m certainly not taking the time to make Peanut Butter Captain Crunch. But you’ve gotta admit: It’s fun to see how it’s possible. And it is super delicious.