Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Traditions and Sunday Dinner...and a great recipe too!

As parent, I think we all want what is best for our children. The unfortunate side effect of that can be over scheduled, over stimulated, over stressed, unhappy children. I think that kids today live in such a different world... immediate gratification, more opportunities and choices than ever, more activities offered than ever, and more pressures than ever. It is such a fine line between wanting to take advantage of all of the positive things offered, and overdoing it to the point that you have soccer moms on crack and burnt out kids.

I have been reading a book called Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. This is a phenomenal book. It is about why the need for simplification in our children's lives, and how things like making our home a sanctuary for our kids - a refuge from the pressures of the day can make a big difference. It makes me feel like I am doing the right thing by trying to not over-schedule, trying to keep things as simple as possible. Of course, the book goes way more in depth about things you can do to achieve this - and help your kids to flourish and to BE KIDS! It talks about streamlining your home - toys, books, sensory overload, establishing rhythms and routines, scheduling in time for calmness - for free play, and managing their stimulation in the form of screen time and media.

It has really made me think about the way I run our house and the need to streamline things and create more of a routine. I feel like sometimes I'm all over the place and I need to create more of a schedule for myself and my family so everyone knows what to expect.

On Sundays, we usually go to church and then out to eat. So I talked it over with Mimi and we decided to start a family tradition of Sunday dinners. I'm talking tablecloth, candles, the works. So we had a good time planning the menu and how we would set our "fancy" table. Then I got her involved cutting apples for the apple crisp (a butter knife works fine for little ones), and measuring and stirring the ingredients for the topping. She also helped make homemade egg noodles for the chicken stroganoff. I handled steamed broccoli with lemon zest and sauteed spinach. Then we lit the candles and had a fun family dinner. It was such a nice way to end the weekend and get ready for the coming week. And the funny thing is that I remember doing the same thing with my family growing up - I usually handled the afternoon tea (I loved breaking out my mom's tea set), then my sister and I liked to do candles for the table. And as I got older, I became more involved with the cooking too. I hope it is just one of the many new traditions we will start as a family. Clean up was easy, so we had time to all relax together after dinner too. Can't think of anything better!

And now the recipe!

This picture is of the leftovers...it really doesn't do it justice!

Chicken Stroganoff
see notes after recipe for low carb and vegetarian versions

I based my recipe on this version http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Chicken-Stroganoff

olive oil
2 chicken breast cut into strips or bite sized pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups chopped mushrooms
1 and 1/2 c vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 t paprika
2 T flour
3/4 c sour cream
1/4 cup milk or cream
egg noodles (we made ours homemade using this recipe http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/egg-noodles/Detail.aspx)

Heat 1-2 T olive oil in pan. Add chicken, onion and mushroom and saute until chicken is just cooked through. Add broth, garlic, salt, pepper and paprika. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook 10 - 15 minutes. Whisk flour, sour cream and milk together. Add to pan. Cook 2-5 minutes more until thickened. Serve over egg noodles.

For a vegetarian version, leave out the chicken. For a lower carb version, serve over mashed cauliflower instead of the egg noodles. We gobbled this up! I just had the noodles with the veggies, but I did taste a spoonful without the chicken and it was great.

The sweet potato biscuit recipe is coming soon!

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