Category Archives: cooking with children

The Ol’ Bag Lady Has Dinner in the Bag


New readers may not know that I am fondly called The Ol’ Bag Lady” by my husband.  Sometimes, he shortens it to just “Ol’ Bag.”  He may or may not be referring to my attitude, but certainly he is referring to my love for bags to organize my life.

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For years (OK, I have to admit, I should use the term decades here), I’ve sewn drawstring bags to organize toys at home, in the car and to use as gift bags for toys I give away.


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An organizing series I wrote a few years back was called Flying Frantic, which describes the lives of most women.  We have more people, projects and personal goals than we know what to do with.  The post on using tote bags to organize your life according to commitments was popular. I have one bag for church, one bag for homeschool coop and one bag of special things for my daughter in the car.

This Ol’ Bag Lady has found one more way to organize using bags – this time in the kitchen.

There are amazing women  who cook a month of meals at a time and throw them in the freezer.  Sounds like a great idea, but my family is not particularly fond of food that has been frozen.

“The noodles are mushy.”

“The hamburger tastes funny.”

And those were just my complaints.   I know, picky, picky, but there is nothing like a freshly cooked meal.  It’s just another thing to fit in a busy life. It’s easier to dream than do.

There are other amazing women who plan a week of meals and shop according to their meal plan.  I stand in awe.

Then, there are women like me.  I shop with a list and still forget items. The week I plan the entire menu is the week my husband ends up traveling out of town.  I grocery shop, but am too tired to cook dinner. I am embarrassed to admit how many days 4pm rolls around, or 5pm, and I’m slapping my forehead thinking, “UGH! Why do people in this house need to eat dinner every. single. night?”

We have a few standby crock-pot recipes, but it never fails, I run to the pantry and find I am short one item. Or I discover somebody put the spice jar back in the drawer, but it was empty. GGRRReat!

That’s when I had my Light bulb moment.

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Yep, I have children.  My stapler never works correctly.  And I was lucky to find the black Sharpie in my junk drawer without stabbing myself with a rusty nail or box cutter.  Not Pinterest pretty, but Got ‘Er Dun pretty.

White Chicken Chili Bag

The ingredients for one meal were bagged with the recipe, the ingredients to be added highlighted in case anybody else wanted to make dinner. Anybody? Anybody?

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The only ingredients purchased and added to the stuff in the bag.

Mindy’s White Chicken Chili

Sauté until soft, about 5 min:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium green pepper, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped

Add and sauté another minute:

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

Add and simmer:

  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 limes, juiced


  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans white beans(drain, mash one slightly)
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, remove skin and shred meat

Although this is called “chili” it is more of a chicken and bean soup.  It is quick, easy and filling on a cold, rainy day, which is nearly every day during the winter in the Pacific Northwest. We serve with sour cream and grated cheese.

The other recipe  I bagged up for the pantry is the Southwest Roast.

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It’s one of the few recipes I have blogged, I’m not really a recipe kinda’ girl.

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The Southwest Roast with the Special Ingredient was another popular post because the recipe is simple and delicious.  You start is 24 hours ahead of time, so when you’re cleaning up dinner one night, you throw the ingredients for tomorrow’s dinner in the crock and go to bed. 

If you get a little organized with your family’s  favorite recipes, you can have dinner in the bag.

Making your home sing Mondays               WHWButton#2

MOM! What’s for breakfast?

Why is it that kids always wake up earlier and hungrier than their parental units? 

It never seemed right that the most energy buzzed in the people with the least amount of responsibility.

I used to get up early and make a nutritional breakfast for my kids every morning.

Used to.

Somewhere between babies #5 and #6 and three bouts of thyroid cancer, it wasn’t easy anymore.  Yep, the kids had to eat, but it wasn’t going to be homemade waffles, muffins or pancakes.

We ate a lot of cold cereal, instant oatmeal, cold cereal, fresh fruit, cold cereal and whole wheat toast.

Sometimes mommas gotta’ do what mommas gotta’ do.

Of course, getting my kids in the kitchen greatly improved our culinary fare. One of the recipes that got us through many mornings was Baked Oatmeal.

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I blogged about having Kids in the Kitchen a few years ago.  It’s true.  Kids make a mess.  But, if you don’t let them mess up the kitchen, they can’t learn to cook for you.  Simple as that.

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Beka and I wanted to be ready for school this year, so decided to make those cool jars people are always making and pinningimage and giving away for gifts.

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All the dry ingredients were placed in the jar.  We’re “git’ ‘er dun” kinda’ people, not “perfectionist you can pin me now” kinda’ people.  The layers aren’t perfect, the lids don’t match, but hey, Beka finished this quickly.

I also learned the hard way, the more you demand perfection from non-perfectionist people, the less they wanna’ work with you. You can either allow the children to do a project and accept how they do it, or you can do it yourself and have it perfect.

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We  substitute the butter in the original recipe with applesauce, so one small organic (did that impress you?) no-sugar added cup of applesauce is placed on the top of the jar.

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Since I can never find my tape, why yes, I have blogged about that, thank you for asking, you can read that blog here,so my son, who just got his drivers license and will go anywhere if I hand him the car keys, drove to three different stores looking for blue tape.

I have just enough residual OCD that this look was really, really bothering me.

Yes, I know the jars will be in the cupboard.  I know nobody will see them. But, they were buggin’ me.

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I had these….

Northwest Christian Writers Renewal 2013 156

leftover from these quart milk bottles I’d decorated for our writers conference last May. The decorative fabric was slipped off and put in a scrap drawer.  The bottles are being decorated anew for an October wedding.

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Slipped them over the top, added the tag with the wet ingredients to add and we were dun.

D.U.N. dun.

We make a smaller batch now that so many kids have flown the coop, so this recipe fills an 8×8 pan.

Beka’s Baked Oatmeal

Place the following in the jar:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups oatmeal (we use quick or old fashioned

Tape to the top:

  • 1 – 4ounce unsweetened applesauce

Wet ingredients to add:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs

Bake 350° for 30 minutes in a greased 8×8 pan.  You may add any combination of nuts, fresh fruit,  or dried fruit to this. 

I love putting almonds and dried cranberries in one corner just for me.  The kids think it is yucky, so I let them eat theirs plain.  You can serve it in a bowl with milk or on a plate as a piece of breakfast cake.  Yea, tell ‘em it’s cake for breakfast.  It can also be topped with warmed applesauce as frosting. 

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Baked Oatmeal.

It’s what’s for breakfast.



What’s For Dinner?

The same  question haunts me daily.

No matter how many loads of laundry I’ve washed,
how many weeds I’ve pulled,
how many errands I’ve done,
it’s never enough.
There’s always demand for one more task in my day.

I could swim the seven seas,
scale Mountwashmore,
and cross off 29 things on my To-Do List.

Still the question buzzes in my ear
like a Kamikaze mosquito who comes out of hiding
after the bedroom light is extinguished.

Sometimes,the demands of life are so great,
I actually get annoyed when this
survival-of-the-fittest question is asked.

Remember, I’m the one who wishes the Wonka pill was real?

You can read about it here.

As if breakfast and lunch weren’t enough,
even though the kids often make their own,
they always gotta’ ask
“What’s for dinner?”

It’s not that I don’t wanna’ feed my kids,
it’s not that we are poverty-stricken and
need to beg for food from the starving kids in Africa.

Most of the time I just can’t come up with any idears.

Nothing sounds good,
nothing sounds easy.

Then one day I heard giggling in the kitchen.

Like handwriting on the wall,
I received my answer.

She looks so delicious,
 we might have to make this again.


(Please don’t panic.
No children were hurt or abused
in the writing of this blog.
A mommy trying to carry an adorably chubby baby
and a large gleaming kettle upstairs at the same time,
merely simplified her life.)

(Blue words are links to past blogs,
just in case you were too busy trying to figger’
out what to make for dinner to notice.

Why You Should Let Kids In The Kitchen

Time after time,
I’ve blogged about the messes my kids made in the kitchen.
I’ve had  burned steaks and
My burner covers have been charcoaled beyond salvation.
I’ve had spilled spices and
But, there’s
after all the cleanup.
The best pay-off comes at Thanksgiving.
I haven’t cooked in years.
In fact,
I don’t remember the last time I cooked the entire meal.
In fact,
I don’t know if I even have ever cooked the entire meal.
The kids are in the kitchen as soon as those
little hands can grasp the mixer.
Just because a little hair was also wrapped around the mixer,
I didn’t banish them from the kitchen.
No sirreee, not me.
This year our 15 year old son, Jon, took charge
of the entire Thanksgiving meal.
Well, let’s clarify. 
He didn’t want to get up early enough to put the turkey in,
so Dad started that for him.
But, the menu and the shopping were up to him,
with a help from the people with wheels and a debit card.
He chose very traditional Thanksgiving foods.
The day before he made
a double-batch of white dinner rolls.
Since we usually eat wheat bread,
he loved having an excuse to use white flour,
‘cuz he was in charge, ya’ know.
The rolls were amazing.
Jon was great about CAYG,
Clean As You Go.
By the time dinner was served,
the kitchen was clean,
with a little help from big sister.

Since we eat our meal at 2pm,
he even planned and prepared snacks for the evening,
including this delicious salmon dip.

We make our guests help in the kitchen.
Friend Josiah had to ladle the gravy and walk it to the table.
He also helped with the dishes.
Hubby also made the gravy.
Like previous years, I just had to set the table.
Since I’m still recovering from my Thanksgiving last year,
I went very simple.
Thanksgiving Dinner:
Herb Encrusted Turkey
Red Skinned Mashed Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Potato Casserole
Olives and Pickles
White Dinner Rolls
Spaghetti Squash
Homemade Stuffing
Evening Snacks:
Stuffed Mushrooms
Deviled Eggs
Salmon Dip
Cheese and Crackers
I hope you’re a wee bit jealous about my
amazing, handsome, 15 year old chef.
Maybe jealous enough to buy a fire estinguisher
and let your kids in the kitchen,
to spill, drop, break and burn.
There’s payback,
I promise.
you could be writing about your
amazing, talented kids.

May I Take Your Order Please?

The words were music to my ears.
“Mom, can I make lunch?”
Like I’m gunna’ say NO?!?!?!?!?
My youngest daughter loves to serve
and loves to be in the kitchen,
so I love to let her serve me by
being in the kitchen.
I like to avoid the kitchen.
We’re not always on speaking terms.
So, I continued to work on an article I was writing,
corrected Geometry and tried not to let Facebook
interrupt my day any further.
When she called me into the kitchen later,
I knew I was in for a fancy restaurant kinda’ experience.
A tablesetting with cloth napkin awaited.

After she seated me, I was given a menu,
just like in a real restaurant.
(We’ll talk about the spelling tomorrow, k?)
She wore an apron and talked about the menu items,
just like in a real restaurant.
My order was written down and the food quickly prepared.
I should have taken a picture of the food,
but I devoured it too quickly.
She fanned the whole grain crackers around the mound of chicken salad.
The egg salad was served with potato chips
because we like to use it as a dip, not a sandwich spread.
It was delicious!
Just like in a real restaurant.

The bill was just like in a real restaurant, too.
“And, Mom, you have to pay me in real money,”
she said graciously, but firmly.
This is as opposed to the fake money we use
with our fake cash register
when we’re studying money in school.
Real money?
Who’s she kidding?
I have two teenagers in the house,
I’m not allowed to carry money.
They can sniff out dollar bills faster than
pigs can sniff out truffles.
(I’ve been waiting for years to use that useful
tidbit of information I gleaned from my fourth grade reader.)

My wallet was emptied.
It wasn’t enough.

The piggy bank was shooken/shooked/shaken
until I felt like I was getting carpal tunnel.
The restaurant owner conceded to accept
the amount that slid out of Mr.  Piggy Bank,
who’s not the truffle sniffing kinda’ pig.

The change was tossed into the tip jar,
and I finished up the dishes.
Just like in a real restaurant.

What’s On Your Tongue?

My cupboards are always messy.
My burners always smoke when they’re turned on.
My stove is always  a caked-on mess.
But, all my kids cook better than I do.
I clean better, but that has been necessary
follow-up for their cooking endeavors.
Awhile back, Rebekah decided to make Strawberry Shortcake.
I’m not even sure how she got the idea,
but she just started baking it…
…with a recipe and without help from me.
Golden delicious shortcake cooling on the rack.

It was just waiting for the whipped cream and strawberries.

One delighted cook, enjoying the fruits of her labor.
They were so good, she whipped up a batch
for a dress-up tea party she was invited to attend.
For a special touch, we used small cookie cutters for our
slices of strawberries.

Adorable little shortcakes,
made by my adorable daughter.
This is why I keep wiping up my stove,
and over,
and over,
and over,
Occasionally, I fuss and crank at the kids for making messes,
then their creations fill my mouth,
 and there isn’t enough room for the complaints.

Do You Sacrifice Burnt Offerings?

As newlyweds, Scott and I cherished our new life together.
We loved being married,
we loved serving one another,
we loved serving the Lord together.
We were perfectly happy.
When an older man made the following comment,
I initially assumed my godly submissive attitude was showing.
“I hear you worship your husband…”
I was a tad confused, worship was for the Lord,
but I did adore my dear groom.  I nodded hesitantly.
He continued,  seemingly unaware of the doctrinal dilemna I was facing.
“…and you offer him burnt offerings every night.”
I think the word that was going around was more about my
lack of culinary skills,
not my abundance of godly character.
It seems my daughter, Rebekah, is following after me in the “worship” department.
Only now, I am the object of her affection.
(All you Box T campers, please notice the plate!
I bought these in honor of Florence and Lewellyn!)

Burnt to a crisp.
Apparently, she turned the stove on, put the bacon in the pan,
then went to do something else.
Don’t worry, I bought fire extinguishers this week.
Other people blog delicious recipes,
I blog about kitchen fires,
This sparked my memory.
Or should I say
My Amazing Grace in February 2006.
This is what happens when you turn the grill on high,
slap on some steaks,
and leave.
“Grace, do you know how to turn the grill on?”
“Grace, do you know how to grill steaks?”
“Yea, Mom, I watch Dad do it all the time.”
This is what happens when you delegate,
then walk away.
Considering she is now an amazing cook,
who rarely grills, it was a worthy sacrifice.
This is what happens when you put a microwave cake pan
in the oven.
Yea, a whole lot of
burnt offerings
sacrificed in our home!

Exodus 29:25
You shall receive them back from their hands
and burn them on the altar as a burnt offering,
as a sweet aroma before the LORD.
It is an offering made by fire to the LORD.
When the children of Israel made offerings,
the Lord was interested in their hearts,
and the scent of true worship arose to the heavens.
With kids in the kitchen,
their heart to serve thrills me,
 and as the scent of their endeavors reaches my nostrils,
I reach for the baking soda or  fire extinguisher.