Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

My contribution to this week’s recipe roundtable is one of our favorites: Shepherd’s pie*. It is a frugal and tasty meal that’s easy to put together. I’ll often put it together earlier in the day and the just throw it in the oven to bake it off at dinner time.

Recipe: Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs cooked ground beef or turkey (I usually season my beef with salt, pepper and garlic powder)
  • 2 cans green beans, drained
  • 1 can tomato soup, NOT watered down
  • 2-3 cups prepared mashed potatoes
  • Grated cheese, to taste

Instructions

  1. Layer the beef at the bottom of a 9×13 dish.
  2. Layer the green beans on top of the beef.
  3. Layer the tomato soup on top of the green beans.
  4. Finally, layer the mashed potatoes on top of the tomato soup.
  5. Sprinkle grated cheese on top of mashed potatoes, if desired.
  6. Cook in a preheated 350° oven for 30 minutes or so until it is heated through and tomato soup is “bubbling” up.

Quick Notes

  • To half the recipe, use 1 lb of ground beef, 1 can green beans, and use up to the 1 can of tomato soup.
  • You can use fresh green beans, if you want. If you do, you might want to cook them separately first for a few minutes to start the cooking process first before adding to the pie. I’ve tried putting them in the pie without cooking them first but they didn’t soften and were too hard for the pie.

*I forgot to take a picture of the shepherd’s pie when I made it! Sorry! I will try and remember to take a picture next time I make it and post it. 🙂

(This post is also linked to Works for me Wednesday.)

Other recipes you may enjoy:

Deviled Eggs

Peanut Butter Playdough

Tasty Fruit Tarts

The Discipline Jar

For a long while we were having some major discipline problems with Andrew. He wanted what he wanted when he wanted it (don’t we all!) which would result in some terrible fits and tantrums. We tried everything: time-outs, taking away privileges and or toys, even yelling. It was making all of us miserable and we were at our wit’s end.

I know a lot of people do reward charts, but I didn’t think that would work with Andrew. He is very physical and visual and I didn’t think it would be an incentive enough, even with the possibility of an award. As I was thinking and praying about this, I decided to try doing an “rewards jar” or “discipline jar.” I talked to Michael about it and we both figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a try.

First, we went to the dollar store and picked up a jar (actually, all we could find was a plastic vase) and some decorative stones (Andrew loves rocks, so we went with the stones but you could use marbles or anything small).

stones

We let Andrew decorate the jar. He wanted to be able to see the stones so he only used a few stickers, and a picture of himself when he was a baby. Then we used a crayon to write his name.

Andrew Jar

Also, I typed up some house rules, a chore chart and a behavior chart. On the chore chart and behavior charts, I assigned a points system. I printed out the charts and taped them to the wall at Andrew’s eye level.

This is how it works: Each time Andrew cheerfully does his chores or behaves appropriately, he would earn stones that he can put in his jar. When he accumulated a certain amount of stones he can exchange them for a special treat. For example, every time he brushes his teeth he gets two stones or every time he does his school work or obeys mama and daddy the first time he gets 5 stones. The stone value depends on the difficulty and/or “unpleasantness” of the task. We also throw in a few extra stones in here or there when he’s been exceptionally good which is helping him stay motivated. 😉

It has been three weeks now and we are so happy how well this is working! He often looks for ways to be good and earn stones. We have been heaping on tons of excitement and praise when he earns stones, which has been making him want to earn more!

Of course he still “has his moments” and there have been days when  his behavior was so naughty he lost most or all his stones, but overall, he is like a new little boy! 🙂 And believe me, a happy, well-behaved child (for the most part!) works for me!

For the record, we make it very easy to earn a lot of stones quickly and we make it very easy to earn rewards. This way he can visually see his stones build up and he gets a special reward a couple days a week. As a matter of fact, I would say that on an average day, with minimal misbehavior, he can earn about 20 stones just for doing his daily tasks. On his exceptionally good days he has earned up to 40 or more! To balance that out, he needs at least 35 stones before he can start trading them in for points.

Now it’s your turn. What tricks or tips do you have for getting your kids to do their chores or behave as they should?!

Quick and Easy Chocolate Cookies

chocolate cookiesThis fantastic chocolate recipe (with a hint of peanut butter!) can be found on page 23 in “Jiffy’s” recipe book. My son and I made these on Friday and so enjoyed them! They are perfect if you need a little chocolate fix. 🙂

Recipe: Quck and Easy Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 package “Jiffy” chocolate muffin mix
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Cream butter and peanut butter together.
  2. Add the sugar and egg to the butter/peanut butter mixture and beat until creamy.
  3. Stir in muffin mix and chocolate chips.
  4. Drop by tablespoons on ungreased baking sheet.
  5. Bake in a preheated 350° F oven for 10-12 minutes.

Quick Notes

Check the cookies after 8 minutes. I have an electric oven, which may have baked them quicker, but 8 minutes was sufficient to bake them through.

Here’s a picture of Andrew enjoying some cookies. Trust me, they are quite good!

cookie fun

Other recipes you might like:

Peanut Butter Play dough

Peas and Macaroni

Sausage, Peppers and Potatoes

Organizing Your Kitchen Utensils

This week’s theme for Works for me Wednesday is “your best bathroom or kitchen tip (organization, cleaning, etc.)”.  I have a  tip that will free up some drawer space (and save you a little time, as well):

If you have a lot of kitchen utensils (whisks, spatulas, kitchen hammer, etc) mixed up in a kitchen drawer, use a pretty vase or container to hold them instead. Rather than fishing through a drawer of utensils, you’ll be able to see and quickly grab what you need!

utensils

I personally use a wine bucket that I received as a complimentary gift from the hotel we stayed at during our honeymoon. I keep it on the counter between the stove and my knife set. It’s handy and makes getting what you need a breeze. 🙂

Tip for Keeping Track of Online Passwords

key
This isn’t my usual kind of post, but I was changing/updating my passwords and thought I would share a little tip for storing and keeping track of all the passwords you have from the various websites, forums and groups you belong to. 🙂

A lot of people use Microsoft® Excel or other safe-guarded program on the computer. Personally, though, I’m not comfortable with storing my passwords on the computer. You never know when/if your computer is going to crash (mine has twice!) and if your backup fails, you’re in trouble.  Besides that, there is always the possibility of your computer being compromised, no matter how careful you are.

Here’s my tip:

Use an address book. Write in your user name and password for each site alphabetically in the address book and then you will have easy access to your passwords in case you forget. For example: I have my user name and password for my Facebook account filed under “F” and my user name/password for my Twitter account is filed under  “T”, etc.

For a long time, I just used a notebook dedicated to my list of passwords. It was convenient, but I would have to search through lists of passwords before finding the one I needed (if I couldn’t remember the password or where in the list I’d written it). The address book, on the other hand, is safe, convenient and organized – and that works for me!

Have your own system for storing and/or keeping track of your your passwords? Please leave a comment and share it with us!

10 Ways to Make Time for Prayer

clockAs Christian women, we know the importance of making time for prayer. We want to foster our relationship with Jesus and spending time with Him is the only real way to do that. As busy moms, we also know that finding time for prayer can be a challenge. We make excuses. We get caught up in all the details of homeschooling, running our homes and (sometimes) playing chauffeur for our children.

If you want to make prayer a priority but can’t seem to find the time, the trick might be to sneak it in! Here are some tips that have helped me fit prayer into my day:

1. Get up early. Yeah, that can be hard, I know; especially if your young ones are early birds. Until recently, my son would be up between 5:30-6:00am and getting up at 5:00am was HARD. Still, if you can get up even 20 minutes before your children and spend just 15 minutes or so with the Lord in prayer or reading the Bible, you will be amazed at how it can set your day right. You’ll be more focused and prepared for the day and have that extra boost to keep the Lord in your heart during the day.*

2. Make a prayer appointment. We make hair appointments, doctor appointments and all kinds of appointments so why not make a prayer appointment? When you are calendaring your other appointments, blot out a time for prayer each day or at least once a week. If you can leave your child/children with grandparents or mother’s helper for a while even better. Take that time for adoration before our Lord in the Eucharist if your church offers it. **

3. Pray as a family. Praying with your children is an awesome way to not only find time for yourself to pray, but also instill a habit of prayer in your children. It doesn’t have to be long. You can do five minutes of morning devotions before starting school or pray a decade of the rosary after dinner. Let each child take turns leading the prayers each day so that they feel involved.

4. Hide some aspirations around the house. Okay, this might sound silly, but it does help! Write little aspirations (such as “Jesus I trust in You.” or “Sweet Jesus, be my salvation.”) or scripture verses down on sticky notes and post them on the inside of your kitchen cabinets or doors, mirrors or any where around the house where you will see them frequently.

5. Pray while you work. Throw on a rosary DVD while you clean the house or tackle a household project. Or, put on some worship music so you can sing out your prayer to the Lord. (A fun homeschooling project would be to have each kid write his or her own “prayer song” to sing during devotional time.)

6. Exercise. Again, put on some worship music and dance before the Lord! You’ll get in a good workout and pray at the same time. Going for a run or bike ride? Don’t be so quick to put on those headphones. Use that time to pray and chat with our Lord, Our Lady and/or the saints. Lifting weights? Say an aspiration with each repetition.

7. Pray in the car. Going on a long trip? Listen to the Bible on tape for a while. Throw on a DVD of the Divine Mercy Chaplet or worship music while on your way to or from the store, appointments or activities. Dropping the littles off somewhere? Spend a couple of minutes in the car before driving off to your next destination. Picking them up? Get there a few minutes early and sit in silence before the Lord before it’s time to get them.

8. Turn off the TV. Believe me, I know how tempting it can be to plop down in front of the television after a busy day. You want to get off your feet and relax. Why not put off turning the TV on for 30 minutes and work on a bible study or read the Catechism or pray the rosary first? You may change your mind about turning the TV on at all. 🙂

9. Pray in bed. If he’s willing, take a few minutes to pray with your husband before drifting off to sleep. Having trouble getting to sleep? The cadence of the rosary or divine mercy chaplet is very soothing and easily can put your body and spirit to rest.

10. Join (or form) a mom’s prayer group. Getting together with other moms to pray for and support each other in your journey with the Lord can be an awesome blessing. If there isn’t a group already formed, get a few of your mom friends and see if they are interested. Each mom can take turns hosting or meet at a local park (weather permitting). The kids can play while the moms can pray!

BONUS! 11. Head for the restroom. Hey, sometimes you’ve got to get creative! 🙂 If all else fails and you’ve been too busy to even think, head for the restroom for a minute or two (even if you don’t have to “go”). Use that time to re-group and re-center In the Lord.

Obviously you can’t (nor should you, necessarily) do all these all day everyday. What’s important is to take time to strengthen your relationship with the Lord so take it slow and experiment with the different suggestions until you find the ones that work for you.

Do you have any creative ways for incorporating prayer into your every day? Do share! I’d love to find new suggestions for growing in my relationship with the Lord.

*If you are  having difficulty getting up in the morning, you may have to re-think your evenings! Are you going to bed too late? Can you re-arrange things so you can get to bed earlier? Of course, if You are a night person, praying at night instead of the morning will work for you instead. 🙂

**Another idea would be to do a “kid’s swap” with another mom. You take her kids for an hour or two one day a week and she takes your kids on another day of the week. This is a great way to give both moms a break. (Just try not to cheat and run errands or do other things when you could be praying!)

(This post is linked to WFMW and Top 10 Tuesday.)

(Photo Credit: Dennis Hill and Friends)

Homemade Window Cleaner

works for me wednesday at we are that family

A long time ago, I found the following homemade Windex® recipe on a blog that is now defunct. It works very well and  more frugal than paying full price for the original! Not only that, it also makes the house smell so good with the essential oil added. 🙂

Homemade Window Cleaner

1 Spray Bottle
Rubbing Alcohol
Water
Essential oil, such as Eucalyptus or Rosemary oil

Fill the spray bottle half full with water and half full of the rubbing alcohol. Add 10-12 drops of the essential oil of your choice. Mix gently.  Now you can clean your mirrors and windows per usual!

And that’s it for this week’s Works for me Wednesday. 😉