Family Meals Around the Table {Day 28}

Family Meals Around the Table {how to do it and why they're important} @ AVirtuousWoman.org #mealtime

Family Meals are Important

In the picture above, my son had come home from college {he’s the one with the beard} and I can’t tell you how special it was to me to have all of my kids around the table at the same time!

There’s just something wonderful about sitting around the table, eating good food, and enjoying good conversation and laughter. It brings a family closer together.

Mealtimes don’t have to be elaborate to be special – although I love cooking big meals! Whatever you’re eating, whether it be oatmeal for breakfast, soup and sandwiches for lunch, or even spaghetti pie for supper, what’s important is that you are together.

For me, planning my menu each week really helps ensure that not only do I have a plan for what we’re eating, but we also are eating well balanced, healthy meals on a daily basis – even when we are gone from home all day.

10 Benefits of Family Dinners

We all know that most families are super busy and a lot of us have crazy schedules. But, eating on the run all the time isn’t healthy for the mind or body or the family. In fact, studies have shown that when families eat together around the table:

  • Everyone eats healthier meals.
  • Kids are less likely to become overweight or obese.
  • Kids more likely to stay away from cigarettes.
  • They’re less likely to drink alcohol.
  • They won’t likely try marijuana.
  • They’re less likely to use illicit drugs.
  • Friends won’t likely abuse prescription drugs.
  • School grades will be better.
  • You and your kids will talk more.
  • You’ll be more likely to hear about a serious problem.
  • Kids will feel like you’re proud of them.
  • There will be less stress and tension at home.

 Source: WebMD.com

10 Ways to Make Time for Meal Time

Since it’s so important to spend time around the table as a family, as moms we need to make it a priority. Here are some tips to help you find time to enjoy frequent meals together.

1. Simplify Your Schedule. – When you’re too busy, family time suffers. Sometimes we need to cut back on outside activities so that we can spend more time as a family.

2. Utilize your slow cooker on busy days. When I know I’m going to be gone for most of the day, I love to throw a quick meal together in the slow cooker. It only take a few minutes in the morning and supper is piping hot when we walk in the door!

3. Eat breakfast together if dinner time is hectic. If your teens are constantly on the go, why not make breakfast everyday a priority. If your family is usually still at home at 6:30 or 7:00 am, why not eat breakfast together everyday? You can even try using the slow cooker overnight and wake up to a hot breakfast!

4. Make it a priority. As a mom it’s okay to tell your kids they need to be home for supper.

5. Cook once, eat twice. Sometimes when I’m making a pan of enchiladas, a casserole, or one of our family favorites, I’ll double the recipe and have one for the freezer. Other times, I plan for leftovers for the next day. It saves time!

6. Insist that kids and teens eat with the family. Don’t let the kids scatter to their rooms or favorite place in the house as soon as they fix their plates.

7. Turn off the TV. Eating every meal in front of the television doesn’t build family relationships. It’s okay every now and then to have “dinner and a movie” but don’t do it every night!

8. Get everyone involved with the preparation and clean up. Assign kids dinner time chores from setting the table to fixing the salad to washing the dishes. Remember, families are a team and teams work together.

9. If you have to eat out, sit at a table together. Those when you aren’t home at mealtime and need to eat out, try to go in and sit together. Choose healthier options and talk to your kids about why certain foods are not the healthy choice.

10. Keep a picnic basket and blanket ready to go and add sandwiches, fruit, and water bottles for eating on the run at ball games or at the ice rink. On Wednesdays we head out early in the morning for a day at the ice rink. I like to pack our lunch and we sit together around a table and eat together.

Remember that meal time should be enjoyable so save stressful topics of conversation for other times. Keep things light and fun and laugh a lot! We want to create good memories around the table!

 Conversation Starters

Here’s a list of free printable conversation starters to help you:

How do you make meal time meaningful in your home?



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Sweet and Sour Rice Bowl

Better than Takeout: Sweet and Sour Rice Bowl @ AVirtuousWoman.org ----------- this is my husband's new favorite meal!!

On our recent trip to Florida, at about 8:30 pm as we were driving through the Chattanooga, TN area, and I had this craving for the Sweet and Sour Vegetarian “Chicken” at the Imperial Garden restaurant in Collegedale, TN. I hadn’t had it in years.

We are probably the only people ever to stop at a rest area at 9:30 at night to eat Chinese takeout.

Better than Takeout: Sweet and Sour Rice Bowl @ AVirtuousWoman.org

So, when we got home, with the memory of that amazing sweet and sour still fresh in my mind, I knew I had to try and replicate it. And this is what I came up with. It’s not exact, but it’s close enough and my kids and husband actually said it tasted even better than take out!

And, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy this Sweet and Sour Rice Bowl as much as we do!

This recipe is adapted from the Sweet and Sour Sauce recipe here.

Don’t be put off by the steps needed to create this recipe. It comes together easily and it’s now one of our regular good eats!

Sweet and Sour Rice Bowl

Vegetable Mixture

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large bell pepper chopped
  • 1- 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 small can mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
  • 1 small can pineapple tidbits, juice reserved
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 2 tbsp oil {I like sesame}

In a wok or large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onions and bell peppers and cook until tender but not browned. Add remaining ingredients and cook until broccoli is tender, but still bright green. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Nuggets

  • 2 cans vegetarian Fri Chik {You could use chunks of real chicken if you prefer}
  • 1 cup corn starch or tapioca starch
  • 2 – 3 eggs, beaten
  • oil for frying

Heat oil in frying pan until hot over medium heat. Open the can of Fri Chick, discard broth {or save for another recipe}, and cut each piece into fourths. {About 1 inch chunks}.

Coat each chunk, one at a time, in corn or tapioca starch and then dip in egg. Add coated chunks to hot oil and fry on each side until golden brown.

Drain onto paper towels and keep warm until ready to serve.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • 1/3 cup white vinegar {I used rice vinegar}
  • 1 cup reserved pineapple juice plus water {to make 1 cup of liquid}
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • dash of Salt
  • dash of Tabasco
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1/8 tsp. red food coloring {optional}
  • 1 -2  tablespoons Cornstarch combined with 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vegetarian Worcestershire sauce

In a medium size sauce pot, add first five ingredients and whisk together over medium heat. Stir in cornstarch mixture and whisk together. You will want to watch this closely. Bring it up to a simmer and whisk frequently, making sure it does not boil over. {Ask me how I know}.

Cook until thickened.

Toasted Cashews

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • dash of salt

In a small skillet, add oil and cashews and sprinkle with salt. Heat over medium heat, stirring to coat with oil. Watch carefully so the cashews don’t burn, but you want to lightly brown them.

For Serving

  • Cooked rice {I like Jasmine rice}
  • Maraschino cherries without stems

To serve, add warm cooked rice to bowl and top with a heaping spoonful of the vegetable/ pineapple mixture. Add a few crispy nuggets and top with toasted cashews and a generous spoonful {or two} of sweet and sour sauce. Top with a cherry or two if desired.

Enjoy!



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Homemade Crescent Rolls

Homemade Crescent Rolls - These rolls are so easy to make, light, buttery, and FLAKY - everything you want in a crescent roll!! The perfect replacement for Pillsbury Crescent Rolls! And you know what's in them. You have to try this recipe! @ AVirtuousWoman.org #realfood #copycat

I love crescent rolls. My whole family loves crescent rolls. But you know what? We almost never buy them. Now we don’t have to.

This recipe is slightly adapted from the recipe I found over at food.com. I absolutely fell in love with these rolls. I love to make homemade bread, but I’d never tried to make Crescent Rolls. These rolls are light, buttery, flaky – everything you want in a crescent roll.

Homemade Crescent Rolls - These rolls are so easy to make, light, buttery, and FLAKY - everything you want in a crescent roll!! The perfect replacement for Pillsbury Crescent Rolls! And you know what's in them. You have to try this recipe! @ AVirtuousWoman.org #realfood #copycat

Homemade Crescent Dinner Rolls {Pillsbury Copycat Recipe}

  • 2 tbsp. dry active yeast or 2 packages
  • 3/4 cup water {100-110 degrees F}
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup shortening, cubed {room temp}
  • 1/3 cup butter, cubed {room temp}
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar + 1 tablespoon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast and 1 tbsp of the sugar in the warm water. Let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. {I used my Kitchen Aid Mixer with the dough hook.}

In a separate bowl, combine remaining sugar, salt and 4 cups flour. Using the paddle attachment, once yeast is foamy, stir in beaten eggs followed by shortening and butter. Next, add flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, using the dough hook. Be careful not to add too much flour. Use as little as possible – you may not need to add all the flour.

Note: I ended up using a little more than 4 cups of flour until I had a nice soft dough. You don’t want the dough to be sticky, but the dough should feel light and airy – not heavy. If it feels heavy, there’s too much flour in there.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead a few times, incorporating more flour into the dough as needed.

Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top of the dough. Let rise in a warm place (85 degrees F) until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. My house is cold in the winter, so I like to turn on the oven for just a couple of minutes. Then I turn off the oven, place my covered bowl in there and leave the oven light on. It’ll be warm enough for the dough to rise.

Note: At this point if you want to use the dough for something other than crescents, such as other recipes using Pillsbury crescent dough, you can shape it as desired. Also, this recipe makes 32 crescent rolls – the same as two cans of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. If you are using this dough in another recipe just proceed as directed.

To form crescents: When done rising, divide in half, rolling each half into a 12-inch circle 1/4 inch thick. Spread with the soft butter and cut each circle into 16 wedges. Roll up each wedge beginning at the largest end and place, point side down, on a greased baking sheet. Curve to form crescents. Cover and let rise until doubled, approximately 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until rich golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with butter.



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