Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Night Gratitude Exercise

Each week on Sunday night, I sink into a terrible mood looking ahead to a week of workplace and familial obligations. It's not even that I hate my day job but I despise the requirement to sit in an office for eight hours each day when so many more rewarding tasks await me at home. I just love to serve my kids and my husband and wish that I had more time and flexibility to devote to them. Unfortunately I am daily accosted with solutions to this problem via continued education and entrepreneurial opportunities. My day job, however, provides my family's single income, good benefits, stability, and peace of mind in a troubled economy.
Instead of veering off the course set, I have learned to focus on what I can control and recognize the gratitude that is due to my current work-life situation. Could you benefit too from these little exercises on a Sunday night?

1. Write out a statement answering why you are on a certain course: I am currently working to support my husband's efforts in achieving higher education as he did for me through five long years of college. I am proud of his drive and his hard work and want to support him with a smile on my face (even if I am gritting my teeth a little).

2. Take an honest look at who you can help through your daily grind: instead of looking at business as business, look at clients as someone to serve and pay them the same courtesies that you'd pay your family at home. If you don't serve clients directly, look to your coworkers instead.

3. Consider one area of your day where you can work a little harder: sharpen your focus, set clear goals, and seek improvement of your situation. Then take pride in the results.

4. VIsualize your long term goals: my husband and I are working toward a time that he and I will support our family more equitably. I keep a picture on my desk of myself with my kids and enjoy looking forward to the day that I spend more time with them in the yard and less time at my desk looking at their picture.

With that, I'll pack lunches, pull out clothes for tomorrow and leave behind another week's Sunday night blues.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Ideas for Freezer Meals

In my family, we have struggled to find easy meals to cook at home within the constraints of our busy schedule. Most evenings include some classes, t-ball practice, or small group meetings with our church leaving an hour or less to get home, cook, eat dinner, and get out the door again. Unfortunately, without proper meal planning we eat out all too often.

Meal planning can simply be creating a menu and shopping list on the weekend so that you have a game plan throughout the week. Incorporating your dinner menu into your calendar makes it easier to plan quick dinners on busy nights while planning for a few relaxing family meals as they fit in throughout the week.

High achieving moms have taken menu planning to a new level stocking their freezer once a month with complete meals. 30 Meals in One Day provides software that can assist the techno-loving mom in this pursuit. The software provides hundreds of recipes with options to manage those that work for your family plus options to build menus and generate shopping lists.

My biggest complaint with freezer meals has always been the hour plus prep time it takes to thaw and reheat the meals, but 30 Meals in One Day provides several menu options that can thaw in the fridge during the day then be heated up quickly in the evening. Sample recipes are provided on the website, here are a few of my favorite:

Cream Cheese Chicken
1 .7-ounce envelope Italian dressing mix
1/2 cup butter
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
1 10.75-ounce can cream of chicken soup
1 8-ounce package cream cheese

Turn slow cooker on High. Place butter in bottom of slow cooker. When the butter has melted, add one envelope Italian dressing dry mix. Stir into butter until well mixed. Cut chicken breasts into 1" strips. Place in slow cooker and stir to coat with butter and dressing mix. Cover and cook on High for 2 hours. Remove chicken to plate to cool. Add cream of chicken soup and cream cheese. Stir to melt and mix well until smooth and creamy. Remove sauce from slow cooker and allow to cool. Place chicken and sauce into a gallon resealable freezer bag. Label. Freeze.To serve: Thaw. Heat until piping hot and bubbly. Serve over mashed potatoes, rice, or hot buttered noodles.

Honey Lime Chicken
2 lbs chicken tenders
1/2 Tbl garlic salt
1 Tbl peanut oil
1 20 oz can pineapple rings
1/4 cup honey
3 Tbl lime juice
2 Tbl soy sauce
1 Tbl cornstarch

Sprinkle chicken with garlic salt. Brown in oil. Drain pineapple. Add one fourth of the pineapple juice to skillet. Cover and simmer 6 to 8 minutes until chicken is golden. Remove chicken. Add honey, lime juice, soy sauce, cornstarch and remainder of pineapple juice. Bring to boil. Cook and stir until thick and clear, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Allow to cool. Place chicken, pineapple rings and sauce in freezer bag. Label and freeze.
To serve: Thaw. Heat until sauce is hot and bubbly and chicken is heated through.

Coconut Shrimp
24 large shrimps, uncooked
1/2 cup cornstarch1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3 egg whites
2 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
Marmalade Dipping Sauce

Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails on. Make a slit about 1/2 way through along the inner curve of each shrimp. Press open and gently flatten. In shallow dish, combine cornstarch, salt and cayenne pepper. In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Place the coconut in another shallow dish. Coat shrimp first in cornstarch mixture, then in egg whites, then coat with coconut. Heat oil to 375° in electric skillet or deep-fryer. Deep-fry shrimp 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with Marmalade Dipping Sauce. To freeze: Arrange prepared but uncooked shrimp in single layer on a baking sheet. Cover and freeze. Transfer to freezer bag. Label and freeze.
To serve: Thaw. Fry shrimp for about 2 minutes on each side or until golden.

Zesty Beef and Vegetable Soup
1 lb beef stew meat, cubed
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 tsp garlic, minced
2 cups frozen corn
2 cups frozen green beans
2 cups carrots, sliced
4 cups hot and spicy tomato vegetable juice
1 14.5 oz can Italian tomatoes
2 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp basil1 Tbl sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Place beef in slow cooker. Add onion, garlic, corn, green beans and carrots. Combine tomato vegetable juice, stewed tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, basil, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour into slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours or on High for 6 hours. Remove from slow cooker and allow to cool completely. Place in freezer bag or in containers for individual servings. Label and freeze.
To serve: Thaw, heat and serve.

Do you have any tips or recipes for freezer meals? What are your families favorite quick and easy dinners?
You are free to share, copy, and distribute the content of this page.
Please, always attribute this work to its original author at Flexible Workforce. The best way to do this is with a link to this web page.
You may not use this information for commercial gain or alter, transform, or add to this work in any way.

Flexible Workforce Solutions
State College, PA