Black bean brownies for morning sickness

It sounds weird, and it took me a while to get up the courage to try.  But you know what?  They’re really good. No hint of bean flavor with unsalted homecooked beans.  Just a rich chocolatey brownie – and if you’ve had them before, mine are probably more chocolate-y because I tweaked the recipe to my own liking.  Mostly, that means more chocolate-y goodness.

The texture is a little different from normal brownies, probably because there’s no gluten to bind them.  Some of the kids think it’s a good difference, some don’t, most don’t even notice.  A bit on the crumbly side if you overcook or let them dry them out, but there’s an easy solution: eat faster.

For a better texture, add 1/3 cup of flour, 2 more tablespoons of oil/butter and an extra egg. They’re not gluten free if you do this, but the flavor and texture are almost indistinguishable from traditional brownies.  If you’re extremely sensitive to texture and still think you can tell the difference, or if you’re just looking for an excuse to add chocolate chips, do it.  You won’t be sorry.

If you suffer from morning sickness like I do, you might find that eating a few bites of beans every time nausea threatens is a magical cure for morning sickness.  If so, you really should keep some of these brownies on hand, because you’re going to get very tired of burritos 19 times/day.

Come on.  Don’t be a chicken.  Just try them.  You know you want to.

gluten free black bean brownies

Pregnancy Brownies (Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies)

makes 8 2×4 brownies, 223 calories, 10 grams fat, 9 grams protein, 5 grams fiber.  Yes, those are really big brownies.  You might feel better about it if you cut them in 2×2 squares and eat 2.

  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 2 tbs butter or oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup black beans (no salt), thoroughly drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp instant coffee
  • 1/2 cup walnuts

Combine all ingredients except walnuts in blender or food processor until smooth.  Add walnuts and process briefly.  Spread in greased 8×8 pan or similar size (I use a 9″ pie pan or 8″ round cake pan).  Bake 25-30 minutes at 350, just until done.  Cool thoroughly before cutting.

4 Moms serve dinner for 50 cents/person {linky}

4 Moms, 35 KidsYou’ve heard of $5 dinners, but they usually feed 4 or maybe 6 people.  Today, the 4 Moms are going to try to do better.  Really?  Is it possible to make dinner for $.50/person?

In an attempt to reduce our grocery expenses without sacrificing healthful eating, our family has learned to eat many meatless dinners.  This doesn’t mean we skimp on protein, though.  We are hearty eaters, and we love our protein!

Beans and homemade bread are one answer that is both obvious and hearty.  Two pounds of dry pinto beans from WalMart cost about $1.30 – call it $2 to allow for generous seasoning.  A pot of beans can be surprisingly varied if you learn to season them differently.  Meat is nice but not always necessary.  $1.50 would be enough to make 2 loaves of sweet rich Challah bread or a big pan of cornbread and a little butter.  That leaves us $2.50 for some fresh veggies – right now, that would buy 2 lbs. of carrots, 1 lb. of roma tomatoes, and 2 cucumbers.

Beans and cornbread together provide a substantial amount of complete protein, but not everyone wants to eat a pot of beans every day and maybe your family doesn’t like beans as much as we do.  Surely we can be a little more creative.

How about pizza? We can’t have all the toppings we want, but let’s see what we can do with our budget.

Let’s make enough dough for 4 large pizzas.  Sometimes I make more because I like to plan for leftovers, but 4 is plenty even when we’re famished and today we’re on a budget.  Salt is cheap, and since I get flour (8 cups) and yeast (2 Tbs) from Costco and I don’t always use oil in my pizza dough, that’s just 60 cents so far.  Let’s allow some oil for the pans, though, to make the crust nice and crisp:  50 cents will provide 2 Tbs. of butter or olive oil for each pan.

Easy Frugal Pizza Crust

makes 4 large pizzas

  • 3 cups warm water
  • 2 Tbs. yeast ($.08)
  • 2 Tbs. salt
  • ~8 cups flour

Combine water, yeast, salt and 2 cups of flour.  Let sit 10 minutes, until bubbly and active.  Stir and knead additional flour to make a firm dough.  Knead by hand or in machine until smooth and only slightly sticky.

Let rest 10 minutes or up to 24 hours.  Divide into 4 parts and pat onto large greased pizza pans or cookie sheets.  Top and bake immediately, or prebake 10 minutes at 300 to finish later.

Add pizza sauce made from a gallon can of tomato paste (we season and freeze 1 cup portions, then add water and simmer until we’re ready to use it) for 50 cents (19 cents is the paste; the rest is the cost of spices).

We’ll divide 6 cups of grated mozzarella ($3.75 from Costco) between 3 of the pizzas, and make the 4th into breadsticks to dip in the extra sauce.  Many people enjoy cheese pizza so let’s leave one plain.  We still have 65 cents for additional toppings – 2/3 lb. of turkey sausage can be divided between 2 pizzas, or we can afford 1/2 diced onion, 1/2 bell pepper and a few sliced mushrooms.

Breakfast for dinner can be fun and frugal.  We occasionally have pancakes and eggs when we find the dinner hour upon us without a plan.

Pancakes to feed a dozen

makes 50-4″ pancakes for $2.35

  • 5 cups flour ($.35)
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • 5 cups soured milk – 2 Tbs vinegar plus milk to make 5 cups ($1)
  • 5 eggs ($.50)
  • 1/2 cup oil or melted butter ($.50)

Combine dry ingredients.  Add milk, eggs and butter, then mix just until smooth.  Drop onto hot lightly greased griddle and cook until bubbles appear.  Flip and cook until done.

We like to top our pancakes with butter ($.50) and a little sprinkle of brown sugar rather than syrup that’s full of HFCS.

Add 2 dozen eggs ($2.50), fried or scrambled, and you have a fun & filling dinner with plenty of protein for less than $6.  There are no veggies this time, but maybe you had fruit with breakfast and a big salad for lunch.  :)

More Dinners for less than $.50/serving:

Bean & cheese burritos. Cook your beans from scratch, but buy tortillas if you have an inexpensive source.  We pay $1/20.  Serve with diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, cheese, and salsa.

Spaghetti, salad and fresh bread. Make your own sauce from that gallon can of tomato paste, and skip the meat if you can live without it.  Set out 1/2 lb. of grated mozzarella to sprinkle on top.

Taco salad.  Serve homemade seasoned black beans instead of meat, along with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, crushed tortilla chips, salsa, and a little sour cream if we have it.

The other moms are talking about it today, too.
  • Smockity Frocks
  • Common Room
  • Raising Olives
  • How does your budget compare?  How can you or how would you feed your family dinner for 50 cents/person?

    Link up with us, and please remember to play by the linky rules:

    1. You must link to a specific relevant post on your blog.
    2. Your post must include a link to at least one of the 4 Moms blogs.
    3. The post you link to must be completely family friendly.

    If your link is deleted, you probably didn’t follow one of the rules above. Please feel free to add your link again once you have fixed the problem. If you don’t know why your link was deleted, please ask.

     

    Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets — Easy-Linky widget will appear right here!
    This preview will disappear when the widget is displayed on your site.
    For best results, use HTML mode to edit this section of the post.



    Upcoming topics for 4 Moms:

    • March 15 – How to save memories without being overrun
    • March 22 – Q&A (watch for your chance to post questions on Facebook)
    • March 29 – Making time to manage the budget
    • April 5 – Do you plan out blog posts? How do you manage blog time?

    Recent topics:

    About 4 Moms, including a complete list of all past topics

     

    Easy Homemade Enchilada Sauce

    We love Tex-mex, and I especially love enchiladas.  They’re a great way to stretch meat and nobody will even think of complaining.  If your family enjoys beans, you can even skip the meat altogether.  Some call those Wet Burritos, but I think Bean & Cheese Enchiladas sounds much more appetizing.

    To make a good enchilada, you need a good sauce and it’s not hard at all to make it from scratch.  You can even make it a day or two ahead of time to make enchiladas a fairly quick & easy dinner.

    The stuff that comes from a can will do the job, but once your family tastes your homemade sauce you’ll never get away with the canned variety again.  Don’t try this recipe unless you’re willing to give up the canned option.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  By the way, does anyone want a dozen cans of store-bought enchilada sauce?

    ingredients for enchilada sauce

    Easy Enchilada Sauce

    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1/2 cup flour
    • 2 tsp. chili powder
    • 1 tsp. cumin
    • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
    • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
    • 4 cups broth or bouillon
    • 1 tsp. salt (omit if using bouillon or well-salted broth)
    • 8 oz. tomato sauce

    In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Stir in flour to make a smooth paste.  Add spices and continue to stir until bubbly.

    Whisk in broth and bring to a boil.  Cook and stir 1 minute, until thickened.  Stir in tomato sauce.

    Makes 5-6 cups, enough for (2) 9×13 pans of enchiladas.

    Super-flavor tips:

    For extra flavor, skim and save fat when making chicken broth and use a little [fat] in place of part of the butter.

    Try sauteing 1/2 diced fresh onion and 4 cloves minced garlic in the butter instead of using the onion and garlic powder.


    4 Moms eat too many sweets {dessert linky}

    4 Moms, 35 KidsOK, that’s not exactly the topic we agreed on.  We were going to talk about desserts.  If you must know, I’m projecting.  I eat too many sweets.  I like to skip the bread and rice and potatoes and all those evil empty carbs not so I can have a healthy diet, but so I can eat more dessert.  There.  The truth is out.

    I occasionally serve a healthy dessert, but to be quite honest they just don’t go over well.  I try to serve a healthy and well-rounded diet, but when the healthy invades the desserts, worlds collide and bad things happen.  I don’t want to be responsible for a tear in the time-space continuum.

    When it comes to desserts, we don’t serve them often but we have a few favorites that we always come back to.  I asked the kids if this was because we were boring or because those particular treats were so amazing, and was relieved to hear them answer correctly.  Yes, we love our Chocolate Peanut Butter No-bake cookies, toffee candy, brownies, and wacky cake.  We also love chocolate chip cookie dough, homemade, with or without the chocolate chips.

    Since I have already shared the first 2 recipes, today I’ll share my own personal brownie recipe and my grandma’s Depression era Wacky Cake.

    Moist Fudgy Brownies from scratch

    • 3 eggs
    • 1/2 cup melted butter
    • 1/2 cup cocoa
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 1 cup flour
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 cup chopped walnuts, opt.

    Combine eggs, butter, cocoa, sugar and vanilla.  Stir until combined.  Add flour, salt and walnuts and stir again.

    Bake in a buttered 9×13 for 25-30 minutes at 350, just until done in the center.  Serve warm.

     

    Grandma’s Wacky Cake (also called Crazy Cake)

    A rich, delicious Depression era recipe that contains no eggs, milk or butter.  I think everyone’s grandma had a recipe like this.

    • 3 cups flour
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 2 tsp. baking soda
    • 6 Tbs. cocoa
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 3/4 cup oil
    • 2 cups water
    • 2 Tbs. vinegar
    • 2 tsp. vanilla

    In an ungreased 9×13 pan, combine dry ingredients.  Mix with a fork until thoroughly combined.  Be sure to get the corners!

    Add water, vinegar and vanilla all at once.  Mix thoroughly again.

    Bake 35 minutes at 350 or just until cake tests done.  Don’t ice it, because the soft moist top is the best part! To make it special, dust with powdered sugar.

     

    The other moms are offering serving up sweets too:

     

    Got desserts of your own to share?  Share in the comments or link up with us!

    Please remember to follow the linky rules:

    1. You must link to a specific relevant post on your blog.
    2. Your post must include a link to at least one of the 4 Moms blogs.
    3. The post you link to must be completely family friendly.

    If your link is deleted, you probably didn’t follow one of the rules above. Please feel free to add your link again once you have fixed the problem. If you don’t know why your link was deleted, please ask.

    Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets — Easy-Linky widget will appear right here!
    This preview will disappear when the widget is displayed on your site.
    For best results, use HTML mode to edit this section of the post.


    Upcoming topics for 4 Moms:

    • Nuthin’ here. I admit it.  I am a deadbeat.  Hit me with a rotten tomato.

    Recent topics:

    About 4 Moms, including a complete list of all past topics

     

    4 Moms: snacks and appetizers for a crowd {linky}

    4 Moms, 35 Kids

    Snacks are a Sunday evening tradition for us.  After a big weekly fellowship meal at church, we just aren’t in the mood for a formal dinner.  We would rather share snacks and appetizers, and if we do it right we find that we have a party even when it’s just the 12 of us!

    A big part of what makes it a party rather than an evening snack is variety.  Instead of making enough of one dish to fill up 12 bellies, we like to create a variety of appetizers.  This may be a little more work, but work can be fun and the results are more appealing.  It also makes it easier to feed a crowd when you don’t feel the need to have/find enough ____ to feed everyone.

    Just picture it: one bowl of popcorn and a movie = family night.  Sausage balls, bacon wrapped jalapenos, apples with dip, cheese & cracker platter, veggie tray = Party!

    We love to work together in the kitchen as a family, with knives flashing, food flying, and music playing.  If we make a mess, we have enough hands to clean it up.

    I already shared our recipe for sausage balls.  Here are some of our other favorites:

    Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos

    Relax, and don’t let the jalapenos scare you.  With seeds removed, they’re just not that hot.

    • 12 small or medium sized jalapenos
    • 6 slices bacon
    • 6 oz. cream cheese

    Carefully slice jalapenos in half lengthwise.  Cut out center with seeds and webbing.  Wear gloves if you have very sensitive skin.  Use a gentle touch if you don’t like too much heat – it’s on and around the seeds, so the more they touch the walls of the jalapeno the hotter your end product will be.  If you like a little heat, let the 5yo do this job, but warn him not to pick his nose, rub his eyes,  or put his fingers in his mouth afterward.  Do you think it sounds mean to even let a 5yo touch a jalapeno?  Relax.  I’m probably just kidding.

    Now that your jalapenos are prepared, use a teaspoon to load them with cream cheese.

    Here’s the good part.  Wrap each jalapeno with half a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick.  Bacon makes everything better, right?  Even chocolate, but especially jalapenos.

    Place on a cookie sheet with sides or a baking pan.  Don’t use a pizza pan or cookie sheet without sides, because the bacon grease will drip, filling your house with smoke and setting off your fire alarm.  Then you’ll have to open the doors and windows even though it smells really good inside and it’s 38 degrees outside, and your smoke alarm will keep going off anyway while your family alternately laughs at you and complains about their burning eyes.

    So…bake on something with sides for 30-40 minute at 400.  When the bacon is done to your liking, they’re ready.  Enjoy, and try to share.

    Cream Cheese Fruit Dip

    Perfect with apples, or eat with a spoon when nobody is looking.  If they catch you, hand them a spoon and swear them to secrecy.

    • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
    • 1/4 to 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

    Stir and enjoy.  You won’t believe 3 simple ingredients can taste this good.

    What is your favorite snack or appetizer recipe?  How do you like to feed a crowd – one mega recipe or several smaller ones?
    Link up with your own post!

    1. You must link to a specific relevant post on your blog.
    2. Your post must include a link to at least one of the 4 Moms blogs.
    3. The post you link to must be completely family friendly.

    If your link is deleted, you probably didn’t follow one of the rules above. Please feel free to add your link again once you have fixed the problem. If you don’t know why your link was deleted, please ask.

     

    Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets — Easy-Linky widget will appear right here!
    This preview will disappear when the widget is displayed on your site.
    For best results, use HTML mode to edit this section of the post.

    See what the other moms are cookin’ up:


    Upcoming topics for 4 Moms:

    • January 19 – How to organize, shop for and maintain ALL THAT CLOTHING {linky}
    • January 26 - Q&A
    • February 2 – Scriptures and/or stories we rely on for comfort/encouragement as a homeschooling family

    Recent topics:

    About 4 Moms, including a complete list of all past topics

    4 Moms: 3 smoothie recipes and lunch linky

    About 4 Moms, including a complete list of all past topics

    Well, God is teaching me patience today.4 Moms 35 Kids answer questions about big families

    Did you see last week at the bottom of my 4 Moms post, where I said that this week we would talk about patience?

    First, I lost a half-completed post on patience.  I understood that God was teaching me the very lesson at hand and acquiesced willingly to His supreme sense of Humor and Irony.  What else could I do?

    Second, while I was composing a post on patience for the second time in the same day, Bethany pooped everywhere.  Well, not everywhere.  I think she missed one or two spots inside the house and one or two people.  Maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but my poop-o-meter has a very low tolerance (like, ZERO) and the alarm was going off like crazy.  Remember the scene in Daddy Daycare, when a little kid comes out of the bathroom and Eddie Murphy is looking at the aftermath?  Like all the best horror movies, you don’t actually see anything, but Psycho music is playing as he surveys the toilet, walls and ceiling.  That’s how I felt.  There was a lot of poo in a lot of places, and I was not very patient at all.  I read my post a few more times over the next hour and resolved to do better at practicing what I preached.

    Third, I learned that the other 3 moms are not, in fact, blogging about patience today.  Since we’re a team, I reluctantly decided that it was my duty to go along with them.  I was not as cheerful as when God preempted my post earlier today.  Now I have to write about lunch and try to sound like a fun, creative mom when all I really want to do is throw my plate on the floor and jump up and down on it, wailing like a spoiled 2yo.  “BUT THIS ISN’T WHAT  I WANTED!!!”

    Fourth, I can’t take solace in the fact that I am a week ahead on my 4 Moms post, because I’m not.  Since we already have big plans for the next 5 weeks, there is not a snowball’s chance in Texas that my patience post will see the light of day before September.

    God is really working on me this week.

    [cracks knuckles]

    Think like a fun mom.  Be a fun mom.  Be fun patient mom.  Deep breath.

    We live in Texas.  It’s summer, and it’s hot.  Lunch time comes in the middle of the day, when it’s hotter than hot.  What is our lunch of choice?

    Smoothies!

    Since we have these almost daily, we try to make them varied and healthy.  I can rationalize a koolaid slushy for lunch once in a great while, but my rationalization muscles get tired easily and I like it that way.  I’ll get worried if my rationalization muscles get big and buff.

    My go-to summertime smoothie lunch is Peanut Butter Banana.  If you grew up on peanut butter banana sandwiches, you understand.  If not, maybe you’re looking at me like I’m crazy.  I assure you, it’s good.  If you ask around, some of your friends will back me up and tell you I’m not making this up.  Others will shake their head at the weird blogs you read and ask why you were surprised.

    Peanut butter/banana smoothie
    • 3 bananas (I peel ripe ones and pop them in the freezer in a gallon sized bag)
    • 1/3 cup peanut butter (you’re not actually going to measure that, are you?)
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 1 tray ice cubes
    • milk or kefir to fill blender pitcher

    Blend til smooth and holler for the troops.

    It usually takes 2-3 blender pitchers to feed the kids and me, so we often switch to fruit smoothies for the next round.

    Fruit smoothie
    • 3 bananas (add natural sweetness)
    • 1 cup of other fruit – frozen strawberries, blueberries, mangoes, or anything else that sounds good.  A few tablespoons of very fruity jam is nice too.
    • 1-2 trays of ice cubes
    • milk or kefir to fill blender pitcher (the tang of kefir is much nicer than milk in fruit smoothies, even if your kids claim they don’t like kefir; do a blind taste test and you’ll prove them wrong)

    Blend til smooth.  Since this is the second round, you won’t even have to call them.  They’ll all be at your elbow begging to push the buttons on the blender.

    Later in the afternoon, while the little ones are napping, we sometimes have something a little more grown-up:

    Starbucks-style frapps
    • 1.5-2 trays ice cubes
    • 1-2 Tbs. instant coffee
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup cream if you have it on hand  :)
    • milk to fill blender pitcher
    • 1/4 cup chocolate chips, opt.

    Give it a shot. I make mine decaf, but you might be man enough for the real stuff.  Vary the amount of coffee or try brewing extra strong coffee instead of the instant.  Freeze in an ice tray and use in place of regular ice in the recipe.  Add more sugar if you like it as sweet as the ones you buy.  However you make it, you’ll never pay $5 for a cold-froo-froo coffee drink again.

    Want to share your favorite lunch recipe or tradition?  Link up with us!  When you join the linky at one of the 4 Mom’s, your link will show up on all 4!

    Please remember the linky rules:

    1. You must link to a specific relevant post on your blog.
    2. Your post must include a link to at least one of the 4 Moms.
    3. The post you link to must be completely family friendly.

    If your link is deleted, you probably didn’t follow one of the rules above. Please feel free to add your link again once you have fixed the problem. If you don’t know why your link was deleted, please ask.

    Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets — Easy-Linky widget will appear right here!
    This preview will disappear when the widget is displayed on your site.
    For best results, use HTML mode to edit this section of the post.


    The other moms are talking about lunch too:


    Upcoming topics for 4 Moms:

    Recent topics:

    About 4 Moms, including a complete list of all past topics

    Shrimp Boil

    At the beach this week, we had our first-ever Shrimp Boil.  My sister-in-law had told me about the boils her family enjoyed as a part of their beach-going traditions, and we were eager to try it ourselves.  It was a huge success, and we can’t wait to do it again with or without the seafood!

    I used the spices I found available in my area, and on the advice of a brother-in-law I used 2 or 3 times as much as the label suggested.  We like spicy food, and ours came out nicely spicy.  Any more would have been too much for the little ones, but as it was they all loved it.

    Shrimp boil

    serves 20-25

    • 4 oz. Zatarain’s Shrimp & Crab Boil (liquid)
    • 1/2 cup Crawfish, Shrimp & Crab Boil (powder by Louisiana Fish Fry Products)
    • 2.5 gallons water
    • 2 lemons, cut in wedges
    • 1 onion, cut in wedges
    • 4 lbs. smoked sausage, cut in 1″ chunks (can also use hot dogs or cooked bratwurst)
    • 5 lbs. small red potatoes
    • 16 ears corn, shucked and cleaned and broken into thirds
    • 4 lbs. raw shrimp
    • 1 lb. raw scallops (buy the extra large; little ones will shrink into oblivion. I wish we had used 2 lbs.)

    This is only half the food; we fed about 25 people!

    Cook outdoors if possible.  Combine seasonings, water, lemon and onion in a 5 gallon pot.  Bring to a boil and add sausage & potatoes.  While you wait, spread newspaper or other disposable covering on the table where you will eat.

    Return to a boil, wait 10 minutes, and add corn.  While you wait, melt 2 sticks of butter. Set a bowl at each end of the table.

    Return to a boil, wait 5 minutes, and add seafood.  Call everyone in from the water, and set out a couple loaves of bread for people to tear into chunks and eat with their dinner.

    Return to a boil, wait 3 minutes, and make sure shrimp are pink all the way through.  While you wait, think about how you’re going to drain a 5 gallon pot with a 2 quart colander.

    Drain.  Did your plan work?

    Dump all the food onto the prepared table and have at it!  No plates or utensils allowed.  This is finger food.

     

    Linky time: I want your best bean/lentil recipe

    Last week I paid over $3.50 for a gallon of milk, and my panic button finally went off. It’s been a while since I totaled my grocery expenses, and I really don’t want to do it now. I find it comical that the government excludes the cost of gas and groceries when they tell us we are not experiencing inflation on any significant level. It’s comical the same way a really, really bad day is comical: if I didn’t laugh, I would have to cry. Can they be any more obvious in the slant of their figures?

    But I didn’t start this post to complain about the economy. I just want to keep the food budget under control, and I want to do it without resorting to ramen noodles, so we’re going to eat less meat, more beans and learn to use lentils.  Beans are great for diabetics (we have one) and proved to be a miracle cure for my morning sickness, which I hope to experience again someday in the near future.  We already enjoy beans, but I know we’re missing a whole world of variety when we limit ourselves to pinto beans with ham or taco seasoning. I want you to broaden our world with your favorite recipes!

    Please join in by posting any or all of your favorite recipes for beans and lentils, then link up below.  Extra points for meatless recipes!

    Remember your linky manners:

    1. Link to a single relevant post on your blog, not the front page.
    2. Link back to this post so that your readers can join the fun.
    3. If you find that your link is deleted, you probably broke one of the rules above.  Feel free to try again.

    4 Moms practice hospitality, and YOU are invited!

    This week the 4 Moms are talking about having guests for dinner.  Not in a cannibalistic way – which would be forbidden in the Bible – but in a hospitality way, which is actually commanded in the Bible.

    Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. ~I Peter 4:9

    Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. ~Hebrews 13:2

    No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds. ~I Timothy 5:9-10

    We love to have company: the more, the better!  Perry’s family has always been exceedingly hospitable, having company nearly every Sunday.  My own family has had a midweek fellowship for at least 20 years.  We inherited it when Dad and Mom moved out of state a few years ago, and we have continued to the present, hosting potlucks of 30-60 people nearly every Tuesday.

    While it’s no big deal to feed a few extra mouths with our own crew, potlucks are my favorite way to entertain, both at home and abroad.  I love that it lends itself well to large groups, but it also allows everyone to contribute on their own level, sharing their favorites and specialties with those around them.  It’s also a fun way to garner new ideas and recipes, and the fact that the food is generally prepared beforehand allows participants more free time for fellowship.

    Nearly anything that can go in a crockpot is a good recipe for potluck meals - mexican casseroles (always a hit, especially if we go heavy on the cheese), homemade creamed corn (just corn in a white sauce; why do kids love corn so much?), chili (my girls are obsessed with one particular recipe that a member of our church brings, chicken of any sort as long as it’s in the shape of a drumstick.  Other shapes will work, of course, but all the drumsticks will disappear first.  It’s a fact of nature.

    Mother Hen and her brood often come, though it’s a long drive.  She’s a genius with the crockpot; they’re always good for couple of hearty dishes and some sweets.

    No potluck is complete without a salad or three, and you can always count on the health nut to bring one.  The nuttier they are, the better and more elaborate the salad will be!  ;) My sister makes a  killer salad in a 9×13 with lots of mayo, bacon, cheese and other goodies layered over a lettuce base.  Our friends at Plymouth Rock Ranch often bring a huge bowl of varied greens with feta cheese and other treats mixed in and a homemade herbed vinaigrette on the side.

    My mom is, of course, the best cook in the world, and when she comes we all rejoice – er, not just because of the food, though that certainly influences us.

    BBQ SANDWICHES

    One dish I love to serve a group in warm weather is BBQ sandwiches.  It’s almost too simple to call a recipe: just slow-cook nearly any meat til it falls apart.  We often use pork since it’s inexpensive.  We also do this with venison that is too gamy for our taste.  You can throw a big bag of chicken parts in the crockpot and debone it when it starts to fall apart.  Beef is delicious but expensive these days.

    When the meat is fork-tender, shred and add BBQ sauce to taste.  I like to add just enough for some mild flavor, then leave the bottle handy so those who prefer a stronger flavor can add their own.

    For maximum pleasure, serve on homemade challah rolls.

    Now you are invited.  What is your favorite warm-weather recipe for company?

    Join us with the linky below.  Please remember your linky manners: Link to a single relevant post of yours, and remember to link back to at least one of the 4 Moms in your post.

    Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets — Thumb-Linky widget will appear right here!
    This preview will disappear when the widget is displayed on your site.
    For best results, use HTML mode to edit this section of the post.

    The other moms are talking about it too:


    Upcoming topics:

    • May 19: Losing baby weight. I guess I need to shed a few more pounds by May 18, huh?
    • May 26: Q & A – leave your questions in the comments on my last Q&A.

    Recent topics:

  • May 5 - 4 Moms talk about you-know-what
  • April 28 – 4 Moms Q&A: sleep, exercise, and making do with one bathroom
  • April 21 – Large families & church, part 2: keeping them quiet
  • April 14 – Eating inexpensively on the road
  • April 7 4 Moms teach history
  • March 24 – Large families & church, part 1: getting there on time
  • March 17 – Bread baking linky
  • March 10 – Spring cleaning
  • March 3 Books for early readers
  • February 24 – 4 Moms Q&A: my first audio blog on potty training and more
  • February 17 – Individual time with children: scary stuff here.  Just kidding.  Let go of the guilt.
  • February 10Cooking with little ones without losing your sanity
  • February 3 -Teaching reading, because it’s so much easier than teaching them to use the toilet.  Do not request a 4 Moms post about potty training, do you hear me?
  • January 27 – Q&A: Must-have baby equipment and other nitty gritty stuff
  • January 20 – Top 10 Books for Preschoolers
  • January 13 – Soups and Stews
  • January 6 – Teaching Bible
  •  

    4 Moms: Eating inexpensively on the road

     

    So…funny story here.  I painstakingly squeezed one hour out of a very busy day because I had to do this week’s 4 Moms post.

    I worked on the post, even though there were other things I probably should have been doing.  These weekly posts are important to me, and I feel obligated.  I am obligated, right?  The 4 of us are a team, and our readers depend on us to dispense wisdom.  Wisdom.  hah.

    So I carved out an hour and worked very hard not to get distracted.  These posts usually take more than an hour, but I was diligent.  I was focused.  I knew what I wanted to say, and I was determined to make the most of my time.  When I was almost done, I rewarded myself with some chocolate.  I think better with chocolate.  Don’t you?

    A few minutes later I finished my post and scrolled down to update the info at the bottom.  You know the part where we list upcoming topics and past ones?

    That must be when the chocolate kicked in because I suddenly felt something happening in my brain.  I saw that this week’s topic was not about keeping children still and quiet in church.

    See?  Funny story, huh?  Well, I’m ahead of schedule.  I’ve got next week’s post all ready for ya.

    So now that you’ve heard this week’s excuse for why I’m a disorganized unprepared slacker, I’ll tell you how we eat when we’re on the road.

    First, let me say that the word inexpensive is subject to a wide range of interpretation.  To some, it means not eating steak or seafood.  To others, it means eating somewhere you aren’t expected to tip.  It may mean eating from a grocery store instead of a restaurant.  Some think it applies only to eating food you brought from home in an ice chest.

    To me, it means spending about what we would spend at home for a normal meal.  We all know that the tradeoff is often convenience, and on a road trip we might be willing to spend a little more on food than we do at home.  The idea is not to go broke or spend our gas budget on food.

    We like to pack foods that can easily be served and eaten in a moving vehicle with a minimum of grease and crumbs.  Some of our favorite inexpensive meals on the road:

    • Hard boiled eggs – A cheap source of protein, easy to eat in the car.  Just don’t store them too long, and never hand one to a toddler in a carseat.
    • Roll-ups – My 4yo calls these Robots.  Like sandwiches but with tortillas instead.  No crumbs!  This lends itself well to a variety of fillings – tuna, PB&J, bologne or deli meat & cheese, egg salad.  A tortilla also frees you of the expectation of mayo or other spreads which can be both difficult and messy in a moving vehicle.
    • Snackage – Lunch on the road may very well be more like a snack: items like carrot sticks, apples, almonds, raisins, bananas, animal crackers and PB, pretzel sticks (cheaper than potato chips and no grease), and grapes are easy to pack, easy to serve, and plenty filling.  They’re also easy to dole out in small portions during a long road trip.
    • Dollar burgers – Nobody said this was limited to health food.  After a day or two on the road, everybody is longing for a hot meal and this really isn’t such a bad way to go.  If we’re pinching pennies, we skip the fries (or split a couple of large orders among the 12 of us), drink free ice water, and order a big pile of double cheeseburgers or something similarly substantial from a dollar menu.  It really is a lot of food for the money and doesn’t cost much more than a home-cooked dinner that includes plenty of meat and cheese.
    • Green smoothies – Believe it or not, green smoothies travel well – if you’re into that sort of thing.  Just make them ahead of time and store in quart jars in the ice chest.  Drink directly from the mason jar like country folk.
    • Water – Except for adult drivers who may need a dose of caffeine now and then, we rarely drink anything but water on road trips.  To avoid buying bottles one at a time at the gas station, we like to buy a couple of gallon jugs and use them to refill individual bottles.  Don’t worry about bringing a funnel.  It’s fun trying to pour water from a jug into the tiny mouth of a bottle in a moving vehicle, and on a summer road trip in the south nobody minds if their clothes get wet.  It’s just a free boost for the a/c, right?

    Those are some of our favorite road eats.  What are yours?

    The other moms:


    Upcoming topics:

    • April 21 - Large family & church, part 2: Being still and quiet during worship
    • April 28 – Q and A: leave your question here.

    Recent topics:

  • April 7 4 Moms teach history
  • March 17 – Bread baking linky
  • March 10 – Spring cleaning
  • March 3 Books for early readers
  • February 24 – 4 Moms Q&A: my first audio blog on potty training and more
  • February 17 – Individual time with children: scary stuff here.  Just kidding.  Let go of the guilt.
  • February 10Cooking with little ones without losing your sanity
  • February 3 -Teaching reading, because it’s so much easier than teaching them to use the toilet.  Do not request a 4 Moms post about potty training, do you hear me?
  • January 27 – Q&A: Must-have baby equipment and other nitty gritty stuff
  • January 20 – Top 10 Books for Preschoolers
  • January 13 – Soups and Stews
  • January 6 – Teaching Bible
  •