Family, Surviving Chaos

Loving Abroad

Absence makes the heart grow fonder…

When my husband first started traveling, I thought I was prepared and would be comfortable while he was absent. The beginning trips were small, 2-3 days but as his achievements in career progressed, the business trips grew longer to 5 days and now 7 full days. When his role expanded to a global position, not only were the trips longer but we also had to coordinate the time difference, which really hindered phone calls. I thought I was prepared for this type of separation -I wasn’t. It was harder than I expected , sometimes more than I was able to handle and more than I wanted to deal with. So I needed to be creative…..how could stay connected while we were so far apart? So, I started putting cards with hand written notes in his suitcase. While he was busy working on logistics of his trip, I would go and hide them in his suitcase. I became an expert at finding good hiding places in his suitcase…..between shirts, inside shirt sleeves, in his toiletry bag, inside a pant leg, etc. The possibilities were endless! And these cards were not your run of the mill cards; I would specifically choose cards that were quirky, odd, funny, romantic or matched whatever was happening in our lives at that moment. He was so thrilled to receive a card and find it in the most unsuspecting places and when he was least expecting it. He would call me and tell me what part of his trip (or where he was in the world) when he found it and how he found the card, which was always the best part and the most hilarious! Thus started our tradition of writing cards to each other whenever one of us was traveling. He has kept every single card I have given him…..a whole drawer full (he travels a lot!) These cards gave me the opportunity to write all the things I hadn’t had time to say or the courage to say. To make up for missed opportunities. The idea of him reading a heartfelt note about what was on mind and on my heart brought me comfort over long distances and during the long separations.

Although I would write all kinds of things in his cards…appreciation, thanks, funny stories, etc, it wasn’t always about the content. It was more about receiving a personal note from a loved one, a small token of affection, or that I took the time during all the chaos to write something especially for him. If this note was going to be the last thing he would see or my last opportunity to say what was on my heart, why would I not take that opportunity? I encourage you to find ways to connect with spouse during travel times. What may seem like a small gesture or insignificant action makes a huge impact on someone else. It definitely gets us through the long trips and tougher parts of having a traveling spouse. How do you stay connected during times of travel?

Food, Surviving Chaos

Hearty Beef Stew

Beef Stew

For all those cold winter days, how about a beef stew to keep you warm. This recipe is easy to make, savory, hearty and easy to customize. Its super healthy because it is packed with lots of vegetables and its a family favorite all winter long. Bon Appetite!

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of beef for stewing (cut into 1 inch cubes)
  • 1/2 cup of chopped Carrots
  • 1/2 cup of Onion
  • 1/2 cup of chopped Celery
  • 1 cup of quartered Red Potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Onion Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Paprika
  • 2 tablespoons Dried Parsley
  • 1 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 & 1/3 cup of water

Let’s Make It!

  1. Place meat and vegetables into Crock-pot
  2. Combine spices together in separate bowl then add to Crock-pot mixture
  3. Add 1 and 1/3 cup of water to Crock-pot
  4. Mix ingredients together and cover with lid
  5. Cook on LOW for 7 hours or HIGH for 4 hours

Surviving Chaos

  • Freeze It: Divide up your beef stew for easy freezing and you’ll have quick weeknight meals or lunch options
    • Beef stew can be stored for up to 3 months in the freezer
  • Use slow cooker liners in your Crock-Pot for easy clean up

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Food, Surviving Chaos

Slow Cooker Taco Soup

Taco Soup

Tuesdays are for tacos or so the saying goes. But how about a twist….Taco Soup! If your looking to change up your Tuesday dinner routine, put some soup on!!! This slow cooker recipe is a perfect addition to your fall or winter Taco Tuesdays; the longer it cooks, the deeper the flavor. And don’t forget to pair it with some avocado and tortilla strips. Buen Provecho!!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 14.5 oz canned low sodium pinto beans, drained
  • 14.5 oz canned low sodium black beans, drained
  • 14.5 oz canned diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 14.5 oz canned corn, drained
  • 2 cups fat free low sodium chicken broth
  • 1.25 oz taco seasoning

Let’s Make It!

  • Add all ingredients to Crock-Pot
  • Cook on LOW 4 hours (up to 8 is fine)
    • The longer the soup cooks, the deeper the flavor
  • Remove chicken and shred/chop
  • Return chicken to soup. Enjoy!!!

Surviving Chaos

  • Vegetarian option: Leave the meat out entirely and add more of you favorite beans.
  • Don’t forget to freeze: This soup freezes really well for up to 2 months.
    • Freeze in small portions for quick and easy lunches.
  • Customize it: Switch out the chicken for ground beef or ground turkey.
    • Be sure to brown the ground beef or turkey first.
Food, Surviving Chaos

Slow Cooker Crock-Pot Chicken

Looking for a meal that can feed the family all week but only takes a day to cook? Check out this Crock-Pot recipe for a whole chicken. Yes, you can put a whole chicken in the Crock-Pot!!! This meal really comes in handy when I know we have a busy week of gymnastics, piano, work events, etc coming up. Make it on Sunday and you can use the leftover chicken for lunches or dinner the rest of the week. With all my recipes, this one is easy to customize, healthy and only takes a couple of ingredients. Bon Appetit!!

Ingredients

  • 4-5 pounds whole chicken
  • 6 stalks of celery, cut in half
  • 2 carrots cut in 1 inch pieces
  • 8 ounces of red potatoes cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 5 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons of olive oil

Let’s Make it!

  1. Arrange celery, carrots, garlic, rosemary and thyme into a 6 quart slow cooker bowl. The chicken will rest on top of the vegetables.
  2. Combine salt, paprika, black pepper, and olive oil in a bowl to make a seasoning paste.
  3. Remove giblets and neck from chicken (this items may have been removed before the chicken was packaged). Dry the chicken with a paper towel.
  4. Spread the seasoning paste evenly over the chicken.
  5. Place the chicken breast side up on top of the vegetables inside the Crock-Pot.
  6. Cover and cook on High for 4-5 hours or LOW for 6-7 hours.

Surviving Chaos

  • Use the leftover chicken to make chicken salad for lunch.
  • Add barbeque sauce to the leftover chicken and broil in the oven for 10 minutes for a quick weeknight dinner.
  • Make a gravy with the juices from the slow cooker by adding butter and flour.

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Food, Surviving Chaos

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

This Butternut Squash soup recipe is perfect when you’re short on time or get home late week nights. With all the activities we have going on (dance, soccer, piano, gymnastics) this is my favorite recipe that we can make when we get home and its supper health. Its a great source of Vitamin A, C, Magnesium and Potassium and helps us keep our goal of 1 vegetarian meal a week. And of course the kids love it, especially since its yellow!!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons (tbsp) of unsalted butter
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 green apples, cored and cubed
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 24 oz of butternut squash (frozen squash saves you time!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon (tsp) kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon (tsp) ground pepper

Let’s Make It!

  1. Melt the butter in a large pot, and cook the onion, celery, carrot, and apples for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  2. Pour in enough of the chicken stock to cover vegetables. Add butternut squash.
  3. Bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper.
  4. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
  5. Blend until smooth.
  6. Mix any remaining stock for desired consistency.
  7. Garnish options: sour cream, chives, nutmeg or cilantro!

Surviving Chaos Tips

  • You can freeze Butternut Squash soup for up to 2 months!!
    • Store in freezer bags (lay flat for better storage)
    • When your ready, add to your soup pot to defrost and reheat

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