Saving Time In the Kitchen- Giving Yourself A Break

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Over the last few weeks I have shared some of my favorite ways to save time in the kitchen. I have shared tips for menu planning, freezer cooking, and more. Today I wanted to talk about giving yourself a break. Because sometimes we all need to keep it extra simple.

I love encouraging people to make homemade food for their family, but I also know most of use have busy lives and getting meals on the table everyday can be a challenge.

So I want to encourage you to not be too hard on yourself. It is okay to occasionally use paper plates to save you time in the kitchen. Yes, I do occasionally pull out the paper plates for my family.

It is okay to keep things on hand like pasta sauces, frozen french fries, canned foods, cake and brownie mixes, pre packaged desserts, and other things that make kitchen life easier. I love to make homemade things, but I also keep food on hand for when I need something extra quick and easy.

I usually prefer from scratch homemade items, but it is okay to give yourself a break occasionally and do a few things that save you time and make life in the kitchen easier. A few years ago I shared some of my favorite kitchen shortcuts to keep on hand. I loved all the comments on that post because it reminded me that we all need quick and easy, but we often feel guilty about it.

So give yourself a break and don’t stress about those occasional times that you need super quick and easy.

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures

Gluten Free Summer Recipe Fix

Gluten Free Recipe Fix

Today I am excited to be part of Gluten Free Summer Recipe Fix. I love sharing tips, ideas, and recipes for making the gluten free life easier. Today you will find all kinds of gluten free recipes perfect for summer. If you are gluten free or know someone that is gluten free the Gluten Free Recipe Fix is a great way to find new gluten free recipes.

If you are a gluten free blogger you are welcome to link up. Be sure to read the guidelines below.

My submission for today is Triple Berry Spinach Salad. I love this recipe because it is simple to make and uses ingredients that are in season this time of year. It is also a recipe that is regular food that just happens to be gluten free!

Triple Berry Spinach Salad

Joining me for Gluten Free Recipe Fix are:

I can’t wait to see what everyone links up! 

Carnival Guidelines

  • All entries must be a gluten-free recipe. If it is a recipe with gluten-free options, those options must be listed in the recipe ingredients, not simply elsewhere in the text of the post.
  • Entries should fit within the theme of the carnival which is Holiday. 
  • Entries that do not follow the above guidelines will be deleted.
  • Linking up indicates you are giving permission for us to share your submitted photo and your link via social media.
  • While all of the links in this carnival should contain gluten-free ingredients, please verify that for yourself. In particular, people have differing opinions on what brands they consider safe. Keep this in mind as you view the recipes.

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures

Twenty Simple Summer Salads

Salads

Salad is one of my favorite quick and easy summer meals. It is easy to make and simple to change up with what you have on hand or what is in season.

Today I am sharing a few of my favorite salad recipes. Some are my recipes and some are from a few blogging friends. All of them are delicious!

Bacon Cheeseburger Salad 3 [Recipes]

Bacon Cheeseburger Salad

Pizza Salad

Pizza Salad

Chili Cheese Salad

Chili Cheese Salad

Enchilada Salad

Enchilada Salad

broccoli bacon salad

Broccoli Bacon Salad

Summer Pasta Salad--

Summer Pasta Salad

BLT Salad

BLT Salad

Taco Salad with Spicy Ranch Dressing_

Taco Salad with Spicy Ranch Dressing

Chicken Spinach Salad

Grilled Chicken Spinach Salad

Spicy Layered Taco Salad-

Spicy Layered Taco Salad

Chicken Salad with Tomatoes and Bacon

Chicken Salad with Tomatoes and Bacon

Strawberry Spinach Salad_

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Spinach Salad with Dried Cherries_

Spinach Salad with Dried Cherries

Barbecue Ranch Chicken Salad 2

BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad

Blueberry Spinach Salad

Blueberry Spinach Salad

And a few favorites from around the web!

Salads from around the web

Italian Salad from Good Cheap Eats

Quinoa Vegetable Salad from Good Cheap Eats

Green Bean and Tomato Salad from Eat At Home Cooks

Cornbread Salad from Humorous Homemakeing

Cajun Chicken Salad from Good Cheap Eats

Lettuce Wedge Salad from Eat At Home Cooks

What is your favorite salad to make? 

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures

Vacation, Beach, Peanut Butter, and Books (Everyday Adventures 75)

Ecola State Park

I am changing things up a little and am sharing an Everyday Adventures post today instead of on Friday like I normally do.

I have lived in Oklahoma for over 20 years, but I grew up in the far northwest corner of Oregon. My family all still live in Oregon and southern Washington. I am the only odd one that left the Pacific Northwest. So I love to visit that part of the country.

Oregon is beautiful. And I don’t just say that because I grew up there. It really is an amazing place with so much to do, especially if you love the outdoors.

We just got back from a trip to Oregon to see family. We stayed a few days at the beach and had wonderful weather. It was so nice, which is not something you can always say about the Oregon coast.

Saddle Mt.

We hiked Saddle Mountain. I am not sure my legs have fully recovered from that hike. If I had remembered what the hike was like, especially the last mile, I am not sure I would have suggested it for a fun family day. The picture doesn’t quite show what that trail was really like. It was a pretty rough trail.

However, my kids were at a great age for it and the view  from the top the day we went was amazing. You could see the mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean and Columbia River on the other. It was well worth the hike and the sore muscles.

Bookstore

We visited several used books stores and found lots of new reading material. Not that we need more to read, but it is always fun to find new books. And it will be great for a new project my daughter and I are working on.

berries

We ate lots of fresh berries. Oregon has had some warm weather so far this year, so the strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries were all ready and were delicious. Berries are one of my favorite things about visiting Oregon during the summer.

PB Bar

My oldest daughter is taking a few college classes this summer so she only stayed for part of the trip. We missed having her the whole time, but I will admit that day she left the tree nuts and peanuts came out. We went a little peanut and nut crazy.

I actually made a few new recipes with peanuts and tree nuts and I can’t wait to share them. The chocolate peanut butter bars pictured above are one of the recipes I will share soon.

Overall we had a great vacation. Reality hit though on this vacation.

My kids are 14, 16, and 18. My oldest has started college and our family vacations, with everyone together, are winding down. In fact, my husband and I had to admit that this might be one of our last vacations to Oregon with all three kids. I guess that is the sad reality of your kids growing up.

As nice as vacations are home is best. So I am glad to be back, even if Oklahoma greeted me with hot and humid summer weather.

My last morning run in Oregon was 53 and a light rain. Saturday when I ran in Oklahoma it was 85 at 9 am and 150% humidity. Ok, so not really on the humidity, but seriously the heat index was close to 100 even that early in the morning. It was quite the shock after running in Oregon.

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures

Menu Plan

Weekly Menu Plan

We just got back from vacation. We made a trip to Oregon. I will post a little more about that tomorrow. We had a great time, but now it is back to reality. That means catching up on everything from laundry to email. So I am keeping it simple this week.

Here is the plan.

Breakfast

Homemade Granola

Dark Chocolate Cherry Granola Bars and Yogurt

gf blueberry pancakes

Sour Cream Blueberry Pancakes and my gluten free version – Using the blueberries from my garden

Dinner

Spicy Layered Taco Salad-

Spicy Layered Taco Salad

Spicy Chicken with Texas Ranchero Grillin' Beans [Recipes]

Grilled Spicy Chicken

Grilled Twice Baked Potatoes

Grilled Twice Baked Potatoes and Salad

Bacon Chipotle Potato Salad

Hamburgers and Potato Salad 

grilled-nachos-

Grilled Nachos

Taco Fries from LynnsKitchenAdventures.com

Taco Fries

Dessert Of The Week

grandmas no bake cookies 2

Chocolate Krispies Crunch 

For more menu planning ideas see Menu Planning Mondays.

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures

Gluten Free Menu Plan

Gluten Free Meal Plan

Here is this week’s gluten free menu plan. I made notes next to the ingredients that need to be gluten free, but as always read labels to be sure the ingredients are safe for your family.

Breakfast

Chocolate Chip Coconut Breakfast Cookies

Chocolate Chip Coconut Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Gluten Free Pancakes without xanthan gum

Light and Fluffy Gluten Free Pancakes

Dinner

Slow Cooked Homemade Refried Beans_

Homemade Refried Beans and Quesadillas- use corn tortillas

Zucchini Pizza -

Gluten Free Zucchini Pizza

fold-over-enchiladas-

Fold Over Cheese Enchiladas– use corn tortilla

Easy Glazed Grilled Chicken 2

Easy Glazed Grilled Chicken

corndog cheesy muffins

Corn Dog Muffins– Use gluten free cornmeal and gluten free hot dogs

breakfast bowls

Breakfast for Dinner- Breakfast Bowls– Use gluten free sausage and potatoes. This also freeze great.

Gluten Free Dessert of the Week

chocolate craisins

Homemade Chocolate Covered Craisins 

For more menu planning ideas see Menu Planning Mondays.

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures

Saving Time In The Kitchen- Freezer Meals

Freezer Cooking Soups

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Over the years I have done various types of freezer meals. About ten years ago when I was struggling with a lot of health issues I froze thirty to sixty meals at a time. I would cook when I was feeling good, so that we had food to eat when I wasn’t.

Over time my health improved and I changed my approach to freezer cooking. I no longer need to have a month or two of meals in the freezer, but I do like the convenience of having at least a few meals made ahead.

My kids are also older and able to help in the kitchen more. I don’t need so many full meals in the freezer, but I do need to keep things on hand for those crazy busy days.

Instead of freezing whole meals I now focus more on parts of meals. I almost always have taco meat, cooked chicken, sloppy joes, and homemade refried beans in the freezer. During the winter I like to freeze chili, meatloaf, and meatballs.

I can easily put a meal together with any of those things. I can use taco meat as tacos, as taco salad, or even in enchiladas. Cooked chicken can be used in soups, casseroles, or even as chicken salad. Meatballs can be used in pasta sauce, they can also be served with gravy over rice, or in meatball sub sandwiches. Just by freezing part of the meal I save time on a busy night.

I also like to freeze chicken in the marinade. That way I can just defrost and grill it. One of our favorites that I have been making for 20+ years is teriyaki chicken. I shared this recipe a few months after I started blogging. I desperately need to update the pictures, but I still make and love that recipe.

freezer cooking

Not only does freezer cooking save me time on busy nights, it saves time in general. If I am cooking one pound of taco meat, I can easily cook two or three pounds with out spending much more time. Cooking multiple meals of the same kind at once to freeze is a great way to save time in the kitchen.

I often get asked what containers I use for freezer cooking. I love using Pyrex. I have a set similar to this one that I have had for years. They work great for freezer meals. I love this size because they are deep and they stack really well in the freezer. I got mine at Wal-mart several years ago and have used them a ton.

Freezer Cooking 1

I love these smaller Pyrex for lunches. I bought these plastic containers a few months ago and have been using them a lot for freezer lunches for my husband and daughter. I like the fact that they are inexpensive because if they lose them or break them I am not out much money.

Ziploc type bags also work great for sloppy joes, taco meat, chili, and shredded chicken.

Do you have meals in your freezer for days that you do not have time to cook? Do you like freezing a whole meal or dish, or do you focus more on freezing just part of the meal?

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures

Dairy Free Microwave Pudding

Pudding can be homemade, dairy free, and delicious! This easy dairy free microwave pudding proves exactly that!

Dairy Free Microwave Chocolate Pudding

Last week I shared an easy homemade microwave chocolate pudding. It is no secret that we love homemade pudding. I have a homemade chocolate pudding and a homemade vanilla pudding recipe that I have been making for years.

One of my daughters eats dairy free or at least mainly dairy free. Butter doesn’t seem to bother her, but pretty much all other dairy does, so she avoids it as much as possible.

She loves to make my microwave chocolate pudding dairy free. She makes it all the time with coconut milk beverage. The kind that you get in the dairy case. I am sure it would work with other dairy free “milk”, but she loves to use coconut milk.

She also uses dairy free chocolate chips or leaves them out altogether.

I know I have quite a few dairy free readers or readers that know people that are dairy free, so I wanted to be sure to let you know that microwave pudding recipe works great dairy free.

Diary Free Microwave Pudding

Doesn’t that look so good!

My daughter loves to make a quick batch of it when we are having a dessert that she can’t have. It is quick and easy to make herself and allows her to have a dessert that she can have.

Just take my Microwave Chocolate Pudding Recipe and use coconut milk and dairy free chocolate chips! Quick, easy, delicious, and dairy free!

We use coconut milk because my daughter has a nut allergy, but I think nut milk would work well in this too. I had a reader mention that she used hemp milk. So I am pretty sure just about any dairy free milk would work.

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures

Chicken Bacon Salad

Chicken Bacon Salad is a quick and easy dinner that my family loves!

Chicken Bacon Salad

I think too often we complicate our food and meals. Meals can be quick and easy. They can also be healthy and homemade without using odd or expensive ingredients.

Food doesn’t have to be time consuming and difficult to make. Some of the easiest meals I make are also some of our favorites. Sometimes simple really is best.

A few weeks ago I needed a quick and easy dinner. I had some leftover rotisserie chicken, a few slices of cooked bacon, and some lettuce in the fridge. I also had tomatoes that I needed to use up. I knew I could easily turn the leftovers into a salad.

I sliced up some olives that I had in the pantry. I added some cheddar cheese that I also had in the fridge and made some homemade gluten free croutons.

I put it everything out on the counter and everyone made their salad just the way they wanted it. It made for a quick and easy dinner. It also used up some leftovers and other food that I had on hand.

Chicken Bacon Salad

The reality is that Americans waste a ton of food. Food either goes bad because we forget to use it or we buy it and don’t know what to do with it.

Soups and salads are a great way to use up leftovers and odds and ends from the fridge, especially things like chicken and vegetables. You just change them up with what you have on hand.

And cooking doesn’t necessarily have to be cooking. Because I already had cooked chicken and bacon, this salad was a dinner that used what I had on hand and did not have to cook it.

It was quick, easy, and delicious!

 

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures

Ten Simple Stir Fry Recipes for Summer

Eight Stir Fry Recipes

Stir fry is a great summer meal. It is easy to make and contains all kinds of vegetables that are readily available this time of year.

Today I am sharing some of my favorite stir fry recipes. Some are mine and some are from around the web.

Sheet Pan Stir Fry from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures

Simple Chicken Stir Fry with Vegetables from Good Cheap Eats

Stir Fried Cabbage and Pork from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures

Summer Stir Fry from Humorous Homemaking

Chicken Pineapple Stir Fry from $5 Dinners

Shrimp-and-Vegetable-Stir-fry-GCE

Shrimp Stir Fry with Vegetables from Good Cheap Eats

Orange Chicken Vegetable Stir Fry from The Happy Housewife

Ground Beef Stir Fry from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures

Chicken Broccoli Pepper Stir Fry from Eat At Home Cooks

Skirt Steak Stir Fry from Mommy Hates Cooking

What is your favorite way to make stir fry? 

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures