I think it's funny how our approach to Halloween costumes has changed over the years as we have had more children and consequently have less time to devote to things like getting the perfect Halloween costumes for our kids.
I told a friend this story with no intention of posting it, and she said you should write about that. I thought it was such an ordinary thing, but maybe it isn't in our perfect pinterest world of high expectations.
So here is my story…I took the boys to a church Halloween party last week and when we pulled into the parking lot, the boys noticed children in costumes. Uh oh, huge Mom fail, I never even thought to have the boys put on costumes.
I had spent the time between school pick-up and the party trying to get my 8 year old to sit still long enough to do his homework and making homemade applesauce. This is no easy task. It is hard to get him to do his homework every night. We finally got something accomplished with him sitting on a stool in the kitchen reading to me while I peeled and cored apples. This was a potluck church party so I needed to get the applesauce done to have something to take.
Somehow I managed to make applesauce and get all four kids in the car and get there almost on time. We were less than 5 minutes late to a two-hour party, which is on time in Mom-time.
I was feeling pretty good about this, and then we pulled into the parking lot and saw THE COSTUMES! The boys were pretty let-down and I felt really bad so we turned right around and went home. Luckily we live about 5 minutes away, but I knew this would make us a half hour late so I let go of the need to be on time for this one. I pulled into the driveway and said run into the house and grab something out of the costume bin. (We have saved all of our costumes over the years and they are in a big dress-up bin in the little boys’ room, a benefit of having 10 Halloweens under our belt.) I never even got out of the car. I stayed in the car with the baby while the boys ran into the house.
A few minutes later, Captain America, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and a bat came bounding out of the house. I didn’t know what they would choose. We hadn’t even discussed Halloween costumes yet this year and here they were… three very happy boys dressed in costumes they have worn a million times.
Most of our costumes are hand-me-downs, homemade, or purchased after Halloween on clearance or second hand and they are the best. One thing life with four kids has taught me is that simple is usually best and that everything doesn’t have to be perfect all the time.
We have enjoyed an abundance of fresh peppers and tomatoes this fall. We actually still have a huge pan of green tomatoes gradually ripening on the counter. It's fun to see them starting to turn orange then red among the bright green sea of tomatoes.
We love stuffed peppers, although the kids find them a bit challenging to eat. Plus the work of stuffing the peppers (while not difficult) is a step I would rather skip so I make this kid-friendly casserole instead. I love making one pan meals like this stuffed pepper casserole. If you are a regular here, you are used to seeing my favorite pan in the world...my iron skillet. This baby can cook just about anything anywhere. It makes preparing this casserole a breeze transitioning from stove top to oven with ease. If you don't have one, no problem. Just use a skillet when cooking on the stove, then transfer to an ovenproof casserole dish.
I actually came up with this dish last summer when we had an abundance of pepper from the garden so we have enjoyed it a lot over the last year. It's one of our favorites and I hope you will enjoy it too.
Stuffed Pepper Casserole
4 medium bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 sweet onion, diced
2 cloves minced garlic
1 lb. lean ground beef
4 tomatoes, diced
1 heaping cup cooked rice
1 Tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese plus a little extra to sprinkle on top
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Brown beef with pepper, onion, and garlic in skillet at medium-medium/high heat.
3. Then remove from heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients.
4. Sprinkle top with extra cheese then bake about 25 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted.
As the weather turns cooler and the leaves start to fall I find myself craving the warmth of hot tea and fresh baked goods. These pumpkin chip muffins have been a family favorite for many years. You may have seen them on the blog before...this old post just needed an update.
I always feel like baked goods are healthier when they are homemade because I can control the ingredients. I have been baking with coconut sugar a lot lately since it has a lower glycemic index than regular granulated sugar, so I put coconut sugar in these and they are amazing. You would never know the difference. I also use coconut oil and often add ground flax to up the nutritional benefits of these muffins.
I don't use as many chocolate chips as I used to because they just don't need them, plus kids and chocolate equals messy faces and hands. You can easily double this recipe which if doubled uses a whole 15 oz. can of pumpkin. I like to just double it and then I don't have a half can of leftover pumpkin to store. Plus any extra muffins freeze beautifully.
3/4 C. Coconut sugar (or granulated)
1/4 C. melted Coconut Oil (or vegetable oil)
3/4 Cup Canned pumpkin
1/4 C. water
1 1/2 C. flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg (I just grate some whole nutmeg)
1/2 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup ground flax (optional for the added nutrition - does not change the flavor)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease and flour muffin pan or use paper liners.
2. Mix sugar, oil, and eggs. Whisk in pumpkin and water.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt. If using ground flax, you can add it here.
4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients stirring just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
5. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Place muffins in the oven and turn the temperature down to 350 degrees F. Bake for about 20 minutes for regular muffins and around 25 minutes for extra large muffins.
Makes 12-14 regular size muffins, depending on size.
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It's that funny time of year in the garden when there isn't much work to do except continue to harvest and use its produce. No more weeding or watering, it is October after all and the garden will soon fade into its winter landscape.
I love this time of year when I have piles and piles of peppers and tomatoes. Some we grew ourselves and some were given to us from very generous friends and my Mom (thanks Mom!)
So we have been making the most of this bountiful harvest. Fajitas are a really easy and delicious way to use lots of peppers and tomatoes. I made these with chicken, but you could use shrimp, pork, or beef - whatever you fancy. Or just make vegetarian fajitas which would be delicious with the sauteed vegetables and caramelized onions. Yum!
I tend to keep it simple when it comes to fajitas. In my opinion all you need for great flavor is onion, garlic, cumin, and salt and pepper, but this is one of those anything goes kind of recipes so feel free to experiment and have fun creating in the kitchen!
Olive or coconut oil
1 to 1 1/4 lb. chicken breast, cut into strips
1 sweet onion, cut into thin wedges
2 to 3 bell peppers, cut into thin strips
2 cloves garlic, minced or 1 tsp. jarred minced garlic
1 tsp. cumin
Fresh ground salt & pepper to taste
2 tomatoes, sliced (optional)
Serve fajitas with:
Pico de gallo
1. Heat an iron skillet or other heavy skillet at medium heat. Once warm, drizzle some oil in the skillet to keep food from sticking.
2. Cook, stirring occasionally chicken, onion, peppers, garlic, and cumin until chicken is cooked through. Salt and pepper to taste.
3. Turn the heat up to medium high to caramelize the onions for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently. Then add tomatoes, only cooking long enough to warm.
Serve hot with tortillas and your favorite condiments.
Welcome to Home Ec @ Home
Hi, I'm Faith, a former Family and Consumer Science teacher turned food blogger. I love God, my family, and food. You can usually find me in the kitchen preparing family friendly, homemade recipes and taking lots of pictures.
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