Apr 29, 2016

Friday Feasting: King Arthur Flour Whole Wheat Pancake Mix

"This recipe has been a game-changer.  I double the recipe, so I’ll have a BIG bag.  It saves me in the morning, it saves me on nights my husband is working the evening shift and doesn’t need a meat-and-potatoes dinner.  It also makes a great gift for a new mom!  Pair it with eggs, a jug of buttermilk, a quart of strawberries, and a bottle of syrup, and you’ll make a tired new mama the “Queen of the Morning” when her other children eat these scrumptious pancakes.  

One recipe adjustment I make, I omit the oil in the dry mix.  I add it when I’m mixing the pancakes up.  I also add ground flax seed and wheat germ sometimes.  

I find that if you’re going to make a double recipe, you’re going to need a Really Big Bowl.  Also, I’ve found that using my hand-held stick blender is a great way of grinding up the oatmeal without having to pull out the food processor.

My thanks to the King Arthur Flour Company for this perfect recipe!"


3 ½ cups (12 ¼ oz.) old fashioned rolled oats
4 cups (1 lb.) white whole wheat flour (I use regular WW.)
1 cup (4 ½ oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. (1 ¼ oz.) sugar
3 Tbsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking soda


1.  Grind the oats in a food processor until they’re chopped find but not a powder.
2.  Put the ground oats, fours, and the remaining dry ingredients into a bowl and mix with a whisk until well-blended.
3.  To make the pancakes:  For one cup of mix, add 1 cup buttermilk, 1 Tbsp. orange juice, and one large egg, and ¼ cup of oil.  Mix all the wet stuff together, then add the mix.  I usually let it sit for the 5-10 minutes it takes the griddle to heat up.  That allows all the dry stuff to absorb all the wet stuff.
I’m going to assume you know what degrees to put your griddle on and when you should flip the pancakes. ;)


Apr 27, 2016

A Road Paved with Struggles Leads to Heaven

I was young(er), in love, and super excited about getting married. My husband-to-be and I talked endlessly about God's plan for us and for our future family. We agreed wholeheartedly to always be open to life, to let Him set the number of kids we would welcome. Early in our marriage we would go to daily Mass almost every day. We enjoyed Bible studies and prayer groups, choir practices and co-rec softball. Sometimes we would sneak away for a trip to a Cardinals game in St. Louis or for a dinner out with good friends. Then, just 10 short months into our marriage we had our first precious daughter. In that single moment, within the echo of her first cry our whole life changed – as a couple and as parents.

All of a sudden life became challenging in whole new ways. We went from worrying about what Chris would wear to work and what was for dinner, to praising God for having clean clothes at all and for take-out food!  We read all the books and listened to our friends that had kids already, but nothing at all could prepare us for being parents. Like so much of our lives, if we really knew how it was going to turn out would we do what's next? Would we take the next step, make the scary phone call, or send that important email? We all know the answer is NO!

Even though we wish God would write it all out clear as day, He's not going to.  If we always know how things are going to turn out, then we'll never step out in faith and trust. Instead He asks us to “walk by faith" and to “trust in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding.” We don't know what God knows. We can't see what He sees, yet, by stepping out in faith we can participate in His plan for us more fully.

I'm only 8 children and 12.5 years into my mothering journey, so definitely not an expert by any stretch, but I am certain about one thing: Being a mother is just plain difficult! Lately, it seems that being a mom has been harder than usual and I know I'm not alone. Countless mom friends have lamented about children's behavior, bad school days, spiritual dryness, etc. We all want to throw in that proverbial towel at times or maybe auction our kids off on eBay (just kidding)!

Like I'm prone to do, I've been seeking reasons as to why everything feels so off, especially as a mom. Am I doing something wrong or different? Is there something I'm not seeing or hearing? Do I pray enough, read enough, sleep enough, exercise enough? Are the kids getting enough of me? What about my husband? I could interrogate myself to death and still come up with no logical explanation for the seemingly endless drudgery of my days. So I said to myself, why not let the readings of the day  smack me upside the head instead? Listening to His word is a much more fruitful exercise than mental selfbeating! So in today's first reading Sts. Paul and Barnabas are preaching to a large crowd and they say this, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” There it is ladies and gentlemen, the answer to why things are so difficult lately – because that's my path or your path, the road I need to walk or you need to walk, to get to Heaven.

My vocation is marriage and motherhood and in theory I always knew it would be tough after the “I do.” In real life, though, I had no idea it could be so hard. As I get older (and wiser) I recognize my road to Heaven is paved by each and every struggle. It's easier going if I embrace those struggles and carry those crosses instead of weaving in and out of them trying to avoid them and instead tripping and falling flat on my face. Every cross that I pick up and carry (the sleepless nights, countless heartaches, homeschooling hardships, financial stress, etc.) is one that He is helping me carry. When I remember that I'm not walking this road alone and that I never have to, the crosses become lighter.

Our God is an awesome God (go ahead and start singing), but really and truly He is, especially in the
way that He knows us, you, me, our children. He knows exactly what we need when we need it and who to put in our lives to help us on the road. So my advice to myself (and to you) is to trust that God has it all figured out and keep on keeping on. It's easier said than done, of course, but always worth remembering. When we're in the trenches and it seems dark and lonely, those are the times He's right there ready to help we just need to ask Him and to trust Him.

Apr 22, 2016

Friday Feasting: Easy Taco Soup


"This Easy Taco Soup is one of our all-time favorites.  Don’t let the “secret” ingredient scare you off.  The zucchini adds a nice heartiness and makes this soup even more healthy.  Yum!!!"

Easy Taco Soup

Servings: 8


2 lbs. ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2­-3 zucchini, chopped in 1 inch cubes
1-7­oz can chopped chilies
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1-32­oz can diced tomatoes
4 C beef or chicken stock
1⁄4 C Tasty Taco Seasoning Mix (see recipe below)
Juice of 2 limes
2 squares frozen cilantro, or fresh to taste

Optional Toppings

sour cream
shredded cheddar cheese
chopped cilantro
1 block cream cheese (optional)
tortilla chips


1. Brown meat in large pan.
2. Drain off excess grease and set aside.
3. In same pot, sauté onions, bell pepper and zucchini for about 5-­10 minutes or until soft.
4. Add meat back to pan along with rest of ingredients.
5. Cook on medium ­low heat for 20 minutes.
6. Taste for seasoning.


Creamy Taco Soup: Add 8 oz. cream cheese to soup and stir until melted.
Crock Pot Method: Add cooked meat to crock pot along with rest of ingredients. Cook on low for 6
hours or high heat for 3 hours.

Tasty Taco Seasoning Mix

Mix ingredients and store in air-tight container.
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp black pepper

Apr 21, 2016

Prayer of the Unholy

I have a confession to make:  I’m awful at prayer.  I stink at prayer time with my husband, my children, and for myself.  I don’t set aside that quiet time with God to talk to Him, get to know Him and His Will for my life.  I turn on a litany of morning podcasts from the Laudate app while I’m grading papers in the early morning hours, and usually call that good.  Fortunately, He has been so good to me, despite our lack of communication, and given me very clear “Holy Spirit Moments” when I just know this is the direction I’m supposed to go.

Oh, and I’m just full of excuses (yes, I’m an excuses girl, boo hoo!):  it’s my parents’ fault because we never grew up praying anywhere but at a meal; my father was Baptist and my mother was Catholic, so I never knew the Hail Mary until I was an adult; my kids make prayer a most “unholy” time; I’m always nursing/changing/getting a baby to sleep; my husband works retail hours, and his schedule is never the same day-to-day or week-to-week; he’s no help either because he’s not Catholic and he didn’t grow up with the habit of daily prayer either.

I’m a sanguine temperament, and we sanguines need our hands held every time we start something new.  I just don’t have that person in my life right now.  Yes…yes…I know I need to rise above the detriments of my temperament, but I’m just not there yet.  I’ve had to confess this so many times and hear my sweet priest say, “You have to make prayer time sacrosanct every day!  Just stop everything and pray at a certain time every day!”  (See above for litany of excuses why this doesn’t happen.)

However, my son was studying about prayer in his catechism this week.  There are two types of prayer, mental and vocal.  The Divine Mercy Chaplet and Rosary are vocal prayers, of course.  I started thinking about the mental prayer, though.  How many times am I doing dishes, folding laundry, or just walking around the house picking up junk and thinking in my head of the friend of a friend whose son is in the hospital, the co-worker of my husband’s who was baptized yesterday or just people in my life who I love.  I don’t know why these people will be in my mind and heart, but I’ve concluded (or maybe deluded) that just THINKING of them – not even saying mentally “Father bless them and keep them.” – is praying for them.  God knows the desires of my heart.  I hope He accepts these scraps that are my prayers; I hope Our Sweet Mother catches them before they get to His Throne and wraps them up a little nicer for me.

My biggest hope and most frequent request is for you all who are MUCH better at it to please, PLEASE pray for me!

Apr 18, 2016

Monday Meme: Not Again!

How many times do we moms repeat ourselves to our children?  How frequently do we politely instruct them to do a task, only to repeat it because it remains undone?  We may not actually want to know the answer.  It may be depressing.

If only our kids knew all we did for them, then they’d do what we asked immediately.  They’d be grateful and want to help us.  Oh, the peace that would come, and life would be perfect.  Right?  One can only dream!  We may roll our eyes and wonder will they ever learn?

Well, that reality is probably shared by our guardian angels.  How many times do they nudge us in the right direction, but we don’t follow?  How many times do they guide us, but we don’t listen?  How many times have they helped us to avoid something bad, and then hoped that we’d “know better” next time?

I’m quite humbled when I think of how many times I have probably let my guardian angel down.  Yet, that guardian angel is still there for me, just like I’m still there for my children.  Our guardian angels are our most trusted, powerful allies, but we often neglect them.

Just like my kids tell me, I tell my guardian angel, next time I’ll do better.  I’m glad that Love never quits.  As long as my guardian angel is with me, I’ll be there for my kids too.

Apr 15, 2016

Ma Kim’s Five Favorite Go-to Recipes When Dinner’s in an Hour and You Have No Idea What You’re Going to Make

Today's post is linked up with Five Favorites.  
Click on over to Big White Farmhouse for more...


So I try my best to meal plan.  God sometimes will grant me the clarity of mind to be able to sit down with my phone and my recipe book (which is mainly on my Menu Planner app) and plan out how next week’s meals will go.  I have created another “calendar” on my iPhone and called it “Menu”, and then I’m able to look at the family’s schedule for the week ahead and plan accordingly.  (It would be SOOOO dreamy if the next week’s weather forecast would also pop up on that calendar, but I digress.)

I also love the fact that I have a “Grocery List” in my Reminders app, and I can just tell Siri to “add pasta to Grocery List”.  I adore hearing, “I’ve added it!” from my phone.

Then Life happens.  There is no clarity of mind.  There is no time before shopping to plan squat.  Sometimes it happens with 7 kids in tow (oh, the humanity!!).  So you just get the staples; your cart is filled with the same old stuff it always is, and you just have to work with it.

My husband is a retail manager, so some nights the pressure of a home cooked meal isn’t there, which is nice.  But the little guys still need to eat, and Mama does, too, so when I’m crunched for time and inspiration, these are my 5 go-to meals.  They can usually be reading in less than an hour.
These are listed in least- to most-abused order.  ;)  (Disclaimer: I like butter.  And allrecipes.com)
#5) Absolutely Ultimate Potato Soup – always better with leftover bacon from breakfast (is there really such a thing??  YES, if you hide it while you’re making it and put it in an opaque container in the back of the fridge.)

These are listed in least- to most-abused order.  ;)  (Disclaimer: I like butter.  And allrecipes.com)

#5) Absolutely Ultimate Potato Soup – always better with leftover bacon from breakfast (is there really such a thing??  YES, if you hide it while you’re making it and put it in an opaque container in the back of the fridge.)

#4) Pasta with Steamed Broccoli and Smoked Sausage
One or two pounds of pasta on-hand
Bag of steamed broccoli (I love the bags from Sams Club.)
One or two pounds of smoked sausage sliced up (I like the turkey stuff.)
One stick of butter, melted with garlic powder/salt, parmesan cheese, black pepper and parsley.
Mix it all together.
If you have some kind of bread on hand and/or your kids eat salad with it, YOU are officially Wonder Woman.

Even if I don’t have any shredded chicken on hand (you know about putting chicken breasts in the crock pot and then shredding it with your old hand mixer, right??) to add to it, you still get protein with the eggs.  I also buy the Sams Club mixed vegetable bags and use those.  Kids hate it because of the green beans, but they eat it ‘cause they’re hungry.

Love this one.  I always have lentils in the pantry and carrots and salsa in the fridge.  I will also buy the big boxes of fresh spinach from Sams Club and put baggies of it in the freezer when it starts to look like it may be starting to go bad.

This one works for breakfast, dinner, whenever!!  I will throw in broccoli or spinach, make with meat or not.  I also use garlic powder and dried minced onion if I don’t feel like chopping (ok, that’s most of the time).  I’ve thrown all kinds of things in this frittata, and the kids will take it down every time.  Especially with ketchup.

Bon appetit!!

Apr 13, 2016

Ma Katie's Favorite Things: Kitchen Gadgets

Today's post is linked up with Five Favorites.  
Click on over to Big White Farmhouse for more...


Out of all the rooms in our house, the kitchen is definitely one of our favorites - this is where we cook the meals that feed the 10 bellies in our family.  We have a large island where I can work while still socializing with my crew or even helping a kiddo with a math problem, not to mention enough space for many of us to cook together!  I could share so much about what I love about our kitchen, but I thought I'd start with sharing my five favorite kitchen gadgets ... 

#1 - Crockpot

I rely heavily on our crockpot for meals.  I think without it, getting a homemade meal on the table would be difficult.  My first crockpot was a circular one and was great when we only had a few kids. But we were needing to upgrade and this oval one has been perfect for our large family.  I even shared one of my crockpot recipes here for a recent Friday Feasting.  I actually own two of these because I'm known to have both going at the same time! 

#2 - Rice Cooker (new version found here)

We love to eat rice - topped with a yummy jambalaya, dijon pork, teriyaki chicken or just with a little butter and salt and served as a side.  When we first got married, I used the instant rice where you boil the water, dump in the measured amount of rice and then fluff with a fork after five minutes and eat.  It was easy and quick, but as we grew, it didn't make sense to use it any more - we were going through a box so fast and it was expensive.  So we tried cooking rice over the stove top.  Truly, I never could get it right.  Probably all the distractions and not cooking it properly, or maybe I was stirring it too much and peeking when I shouldn't.  Thankfully I found a great microwave rice cooker from Pampered Chef and we used that for  few years, but we outgrew it quickly.  Hubs suggested we get a rice cooker, looked at reviews and found this one for us.  And - wow!!!  Was I thrilled when we did!!  It is a piece of cake to make rice now!!  And, we still have leftovers when I make a batch and I've never even made the max amount yet.  So I think this cooker will suit our family for the long haul!  

#3 - Espresso Machine (new version found here)

I make myself a cup of coffee from this machine only a couple times a week (because I'm not really a crazy coffee drinker, but do love my coffee when I get one).  It's so nice to have it to have fresh coffee from freshly ground coffee beans when I do make myself a cup and it's SO fast and easy to use!  My favorite use of this machine is during my weekly prayer group gathering.  You see, I have this really cute Barista that makes lattes for my friends and I when we go through our Cursillo Reunion Group card and pray and share and discuss how God is working in our lives.  The good company, amazing coffee and gathering in His name make for one of my favorite nights of the week!!  

Oh the questions I get asked being a homeschooling mom of many - "are you done yet?", "do you have a tv?", "are you Catholic?", and I find this one the weirdest but one I still get asked often - "do you make your own bread?".  Mostly I say "no" to the last question, because I'm a cheater bread maker.  I just don't feel right patting myself on the back and answering yes to the kneeding and such when all I do is dump in a list of ingredients and hit the "start" button.  Anyways, this lovely machine gets its workout too.  Our crew can knock out a loaf of bread in one sitting!  We make the basic white loaf and banana bread the most - those are our two favorites!!

Okay, so this isn't really a kitchen gadget that helps with food prep or cooking, but it's one of those gadgets that make the time in the kitchen fun and enjoyable because it provides a little music for ya.  Or a podcast to listen to when you are preparing meals and doing dishes.  Or if you want to project the volume of the daily Mass readings/soul food so all the kids can hear, this makes a great option to plug your smartphone right into it and play them.  SO many options!  And it's so handy to have it right there in the kitchen and out of the way.  Ours definitely gets great use!!  

So there ya have it!!  What are your favorite kitchen gadgets?  
I'd love to hear from you!!  

Apr 11, 2016

Monday Meme: I Can Sleep Because God is Awake

Going to sleep and staying asleep are simple goals.  Sometimes, my brain does not know how to shut off.  In my mind, I constantly try to solve problems or schedule appointments. Or THE great comeback pops in my mind, and then I berate myself for not having thought of it ten hours earlier.

I look at my husband, ZZZZing away, and I am jealous.  I’ve asked him, “How do you just sleep?”  He replies, “Easy. I’m tired and close my eyes.  I sleep.”

I can only wish.

At night my brain can process.  There are no interruptions or new input.  I can focus.  That is such a luxury!! I can think of ONE thing at a time. The bad side is that I wake up tired, and the next day is upon me, when I have not finished yesterday.

Earlier this Lent, my dad told me that sometimes I need to let God have a chance.  That really hit me.  So I do what I can during the day, and then I give it to the Good Lord at night.

There’s certainly no sense in both of us being awake at night.

Apr 8, 2016

Friday Feasting: Minestrone

"The kids and I were invited to a sweet friend's house a few weeks ago for lunch and a playdate and it was a Friday during Lent.  For us, we are pretty simple with our Lenten meals - pancakes, fish sticks, egg & tuna sandwhiches, meatless pasta dishes, and more - super simple is the "name of our game"!  So, when we arrived to our friend's house to the amazing aroma of a yummy homemade soup simmering on her stove, I was overtaken with appreciation from the hospitality she showed to us by all the work put into it!  (She's an amazing friend, if you haven't got the hint yet!  I just love her to pieces!)  Anyways, I *had* to make the same recipe for my own family the next Friday.  So we searched online and found one very similar to hers and tweaked it a little.  Our kids gobbled it down at her house, that I actually had to make it a second time during Lent!  And once again, it was gobbled down!!  You can make the meatless version (see below) or even brown up a pound of ground beef or sausage to make it more hearty.  But the meatless version was amazing in itself!!  Enjoy, my sweet friends!!"


1/2 cup minced onion
1 small yellow zuchinni - diced
1 small green zuchinni - diced
1 bag frozen cut green beans
1 bag of crinkle cut carrots
1/2 cup minced celery
2 teaspoons minced garlic
4 cups of vegetable broth
2 - 15 oz cans red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
2 - 15 oz cans great northern beans (drained and rinsed)
1 - 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil


1.  Pour everything into your crock pot and stir.  Let cook on LOW for 8 hours.
2.  Serve with bread - store bought or homemade (you can even try Ma Lorij's homemade rolls!).
3.  Serve with parmesan sprinkled on top, if desired!


***you can add small shell pasta for the last 30 minutes, if you want (we did not, but it's a popular minestrone ingredient).
***you can also add meat - ground beef or sausage.  Up to you!!  Or the meatless version we ate was amazing too!
***you can also switch out the broth to chicken broth, for a meat version

Apr 6, 2016

The Power of Lent - Or Why I Choose To Make My Children Suffer

I found the perfect Easter dress for my daughter at Costco while shopping for fish sticks, fruits, vegetables and other Lenten fare. The dress was pink, and sparkly and twirly, everything my girly girl wants in a dress. I knew I better buy it quickly, or by the time I got back to the store, it could be gone. When I got back home, I spirited the dress away to my closet, to wait until Easter.

Katherine, my 4 year old and only girl, saw the dress right away.  I think she must have some sort of radar for beautiful clothes. She asked me, “Mommy, please??” It would have been so easy to say “Yes.” She wanted this dress so badly. But I knew there was something bigger at stake here.  So, I made one of the difficult parenting choices I seem to have to make every day, and I told her “No.” She cried. She fussed. She told me she didn’t love me. I told her I loved her so much, and no, she couldn’t have the dress. It was for Easter, a very Special day, and she had to wait.

Almost every day this Lent, she asked me for that dress. And every day I told her that she would have to wait. She cried, she wailed, she told me I didn’t love her. She tried to bargain. But of course, she didn’t know that this decision of mine had nothing to do with the dress itself.

This decision had to do with the time, a few years from now, that a group of friends would be making fun of the kid with intellectual disabilities and the easy thing, the thing that would give her instant gratification, would be to go along, to gain social acceptance by taking the path of least resistance.  Another little while, and the temptation to find “love” in the arms of a boy, who might not realize that he is taking something which does not belong to him, might overwhelm her. In myriad ways, the world will give her opportunities to take the easy path, to skirt the rules, to give in to temptation.

This girl needs muscles. This world is tough. It takes no prisoners.

I love her enough to tell her “No.” To tell her that there is something more important than our own gratification. To teach her that good things are worth waiting for, and, more importantly, she is worth waiting for.

Easter came, and my daughter knew it was time. The dress was waiting for her, and she was going to get ready for the Celebration. I helped her take a shower, braided her hair, applied a little lip gloss and a hint of eyeshadow. I painted her nails. Then, she put on the dress.

The joy she felt wiped away her sorrow at having to wait. And her joy was more complete for having waited. She was radiant, and in a small way, her sacrifice and eventual satisfaction gave her a taste of the Resurrection.

I am thankful to be a part of a Church which gives me a chance to experience a little piece of suffering, to carry a little bit of the cross, and to unite my sufferings to Christ. And I am so happy to have the privilege of sharing the same with my children – that their joy, and mine, might be complete.

Apr 4, 2016

Monday Meme: The Call to Faithfulness

I love this quote attributed to Mother Teresa (soon to be St. Mother Teresa!!) I think it applies to so
many areas of our lives including: marriage, motherhood, sisterhood, friendship, our finances, our
hobbies, etc.

We aren't always going to attain the goal we originally set out for and that's okay because God is
looking at the journey, too. How do we respond to the setbacks, the failures, the fear, the aches, the
suffering? Do we turn to prayer? Do we ask for help? Are we making use of the sacraments? Are we

God just wants us to keep going, to keep praying, to keep loving, to never stop being faithful to that
which He has called us. I promise you, without a doubt, that He is always there for you.

Apr 1, 2016

Friday Feasting: Island Pork Salad

Island Pork Salad

This Holy Week I was fortunate to have the opportunity to go on retreat. The retreat was so lovely. Meals were prepared which nourished our bodies while we spent time with God, getting to know ourselves and Him better in a beautiful atmosphere.  I love retreats – can you tell?

One of my favorite meals was the Island Pork Tenderloin Salad from Epicurious. The citrus vinaigrette combines with the rich avocado and spicy pork to create a wonderful, palette pleasing well balanced meal.  It is served on a bed of greens mixed with sweet bell peppers. For my family, I doubled the recipe found on the site.

My kids are adventuresome eaters, and they just loved this one.  I think it helps that there was so much variety to choose from, so if there was something in the salad they did not prefer, they still had a complete meal with the rest of it.  And fruit is always a hit in a salad at our place.  It turns it into such a treat.

I love looking for inspiration wherever I go, and I am so glad I asked for this recipe.  It is going to go into our rotation for sure.  All the kids loved it and so did the adults.  Couldn’t ask for more.