Shuga' Mommas

Shuga Mommas: Honey Soy Noodles

So, it’s my turn to share a recipe…and we all know that Mandy is the natural cook, not I.  :)  But here I find myself and I am excited to share another favorite from my handy little 4 Ingredients cook book.

Just last week we had a Graduate Wife dinner out at a local spot called Noodle Nation.  It  was so much fun and it also got me in the mood for noodles.  At the dinner a few of us talked a good bit about shopping on a budget (Mayra, I am awaiting your blog post with your tips!).  So in light of those two things, and the fact that the last 3 things Mandy has posted have been dessert items :), I thought I’d share this super easy, inexpensive, and delicious noodle dish.  If I can wow my family with it, trust me you can as well.  It costs a bit to buy the sesame oil and the manuka honey up front, but the recipe only calls for a small amount of each, so it pays off in the end with the many makings it offers. Enjoy! -M.C.

Honey Soy Noodles

  • 500 g pkt Hokkien noodles (or you can use the precooked egg noodle packs)
  • 1 tbs. sesame oil
  • 2 tbs. tamari soy sauce
  • 2 tbs. manuka honey
Soften noodles in a bowl billwed with hot water, drain an set aside.  Combine oil, soy sacue and honey togethger.  Heat a wok (or large pan) to medium temperature and add liquid mixture, quickly add noodles and stir continuously for about 3 minutes.
{I usually add chicken or tofu to ours and any random veggies I can find.  I have made it with spinach once and another time threw in some frozen broccoli.  I also double the liquid mixture.}
P.S.  IF ANYONE HAS ANY RECIPES TO SHARE FOR ‘SHUGA MOMMAS’ PLEASE DO SO!
Shuga' Mommas

Shuga’ Mommas: Red Wine Chicken (an anti-recipe)

Written by Tori – a former graduate wife

This dish is so easy and delicious.  I really can’t call it a recipe, because you can adjust all of the measurements and even the ingredients to your particular taste.  It is great to make for guests, or for a treat when your hubby needs a break from the studies.  We love it!!

Directions:

  • Two boneless chicken breasts, split down the middle (sliced while standing on one side, so you now have four thin cutlets), and sprinkled with salt and pepper.
  • Heat couple of Tablespoons of olive oil in a pan, and brown the chicken on each side.
  • Slice half of a yellow onion and two large cloves of garlic, adding to the pan with the chicken until the onions begin to soften.  If you like mushrooms, this would be a great time to throw some in as well.
  • Sprinkle the top of each chicken breast with around a 1/2 Tablespoon of brown sugar, and then add around 1 cup of red wine (I used a malbec, which was delicious, but you don’t need anything expensive!  I do not recommend “cooking wine”, but any cheap wine that you would actually drink is perfect).
  • Baste a little of the wine and onions over the chicken, cover, and let simmer for at least 15 minutes.  Give it a taste, adding more salt and pepper as needed- or maybe you want a little more brown sugar!  Be careful- it gets sweet quickly!
  • If you want the sauce to thicken up remove the lid to help it reduce down, or whisk in a teaspoon of cornstarch.

Simply boil some pasta, and when it has about a minute left, toss in fresh broccoli so that it became bright green and crispy-tender.  Drain it, cover it with butter and salt, and pour the chicken and wine sauce over it all.

 

Balanced Life? · Children

What Does a Balanced Life Look Like? Part VII (your average day)

The below question and responses were compiled by fellow graduate wife reader, Laura Lee.  She surveyed several women on the journey and is sharing with us their answers. You can see her original post here, where she outlines her journey towards discovering the answers of a ‘balanced’ life during this season of being a graduate wife and beyond. This is the last section of the ‘What does a balanced life look like?’ series.  Enjoy!


6) What is an average day like for you?  Do you wake up before the kids? How do you handle that “It’s 5pm and my child is hungry but I am cooking” time of day? What aspects of your days energize you and add fun to life? Do you do home-related things while your kids are awake or wait until naptime? When you need to distract your kids while you tackle something, what things work for you to do the distracting–playdough, kids DVDs, favorite toys? 

  • I do try to clean etc while our son is napping. It doesn’t always work out like that, but I’d rather be doing something fun while he’s awake, then have him be bored (he gets majorly destructive when he’s bored). Obviously, there are times when that cannot be avoided, so that’s when I let him watch Thomas the Train or Chuggington…which is a treat. Recently, I’ve also found that if I’m including him in with what I’m doing – moving groceries in from the pram, allowing him to help me cook – he’s much happier. Yes, it takes 3 times as long, but he’s learning in the process, so I think it’s a win-win for us all. On most days. :)
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  • Hmmm. . . average day. Usually, our daughter wakes at about 6 AM, and my husband gets her up and plays with her for the first hour or so of the day. He is also able to check email, make coffee and plan his day at this time. I get up and eat breakfast with them and our daughter then takes a morning nap, so I usually use this time to catch up on emails, plan/prepare the meal for that night (which is my greatest strategy for the whole ‘it’s 5 PM, and our daughter has had enough’ experience) and clean. When she gets up, we try to go do something (Monday Mums, open air market, flea market, go for a run, playground, etc.). Then, I get her back around 12 or so for lunch and a second nap. The timing of the second nap is good for phone calls to the US. And I can clean and organize while I talk. My mom is often asking, “What is that noise?” :) My daughter and I sometimes go out and do something after her second nap, which usually is just a walk or a run or something. Then, my husband comes home and plays with her while I either run or cook dinner. He tries to be home by around 5 or 5:30, which is sometimes pushed back due to various obligations (I am often annoyed with the meetings that are scheduled right at 5:30 or 6 – do people at the university have families?).
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  • A typical day for us usually looks like this…(i say ‘usually’ because things are always changing when you have a toddler and a husband in a demanding program).  My husband gets up with our son around 7/7:30am.  I stay in bed a little longer then get up and take a shower/get ready.  If it’s a work-out day I sleep longer and take a shower later in the day.  My husband leaves or starts working by 8/8:30 and I play with our son then get him dressed.  Then we go out for our morning errands, Mon. Mums, etc. by 9:30am.  He loves a change of scenery so he does pretty well in the stroller…but  I always make sure I have snacks!  We are home around 11:30/12:00.  We eat lunch and I try to clean up right away.  Luke goes down for a nap around 12:30 and sleeps until about 2:30/3:00.  During that time I workout, do laundry, catch up on emails, blog, listen to sermons, read, clean, try to relax for a bit, etc…When he wakes up from his nap I give him a snack, we play for a bit, then I get him ready to go outside (which takes a while, but it’s getting better).  I like to be out from about 3:30ish-5:00ish( again…depending on the weather).  We go to the park or play around our college…see the ducks in the pond, play at the playground, run on the grass, play in our courtyard.  We are back home around 5pm and I feed him dinner.  I usually feed him the left overs from the night before so I can get him started right away and start cooking for my husband and me.  If I have to prepare him something I usually start him on fruit or crackers to hold him over.  If he’s being really fussy I’ll put Sesame Street or a video on for him.  My husband usually gets home around 5:30, plays with our son, and starts him in his bath.  I try to finish up the meal, do the dishes, and meet them in the bathroom.  Our son loves his bath so it’s always a really fun time for our family.  We always have a lot of laughs so I don’t like to miss it!  Then we get his pj’s on and eat dinner in our living room so that Luke can play while we eat.  We play, give Luke his milk, read books, and sing songs.  Some evenings we Skype with family and friends around this time.  Our son goes to bed around 7:30pm.  My husban and I then spend from 7:30-9:30pm together.  Then I get ready for bed and read or go on the computer.  I try to be asleep by 10:30/11:00pm.
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  • I’ve been waking up before my daughter (7:00ish) but almost always stay in bed as long as she – or the day’s schedule – will allow.   We try to eat dinner around 5:30.  When my daughter gets hungry (as she inevitable will) I tell her that we are going to have dinner very soon but that if she is very very hungry she may have 3 (or whatever number) breadsticks or carrot sticks or grapes (or whatever) but only 3. Then I have her count them out.  (I used to do it for her – obviously.)  When she finishes them and asks for more I remind her of what I said before and say something like, “You already has some carrots.  Remember, you were very very hungry so I told you that you could have 3 carrots and then we counted them out, 1, 2, 3.  Remember?  Weren’t those yummy carrots?!  You ate them all up!  Good job!!  We’re going to have some dinner in just a little bit and then we can eat some more!”  It doesn’t mean she won’t still whine for snacks, but it’s important for her to know that A.) she can wait, that B.) I am a woman of my word, and that C.) the world does not revolve around her.  Plus I don’t want to spoil her appetite for dinner.  If left to her own devices she would eat nothing but pretzels for days!  Of course it helps if my husband is here and can be reading with her in the living room or can be outside with her or whatever, but that’s not always possible. Also, I try to do as much prep beforehand as possible (like during her nap or) even days before.  Like if I have 2 different chicken dishes that week, I might cook up all the chicken on one day so it’s ready to go the next time I need it.  Or grate enough cheese to last me all week or slice some of the veggies I’ll need for dinners that week on Sunday night and then just use them as I need them throughout the week.    I am currently loving gardening and am so glad to have a bit of a yard this year.  I am wanting to sew more.  I love taking our daughter to the library to pick out and discover new books together – we go to the Rhyme Time almost every week (Wednesday, 10:30 – 11am, central library) and then we go to the outdoor market to pick up fresh produce.  She really loves the library and I really love the market!  I’m also enjoying engaging with the very lonely old woman across the street… it takes so little to brighten her day and by extension to make mine feel a bit more significant. Do you do home-related things while your kids are awake or wait until naptime? Both, but no strong chemicals while my daughter is nearby.  She loves to help (I give her a clean cloth to wipe the sink while I’m cleaning the tub or a small hand broom and dustpan while I’m using the big broom.)  When you need to distract your kids while you tackle something, what things work for you–playdough, kids DVDs, favorite toys?  I just never know what’s going to grab her attention.  A video will almost always work but we don’t have many that will play on my computer so that doesn’t work while my husband is gone with his.  She’s always been a pretty independent player and so I usually wait until I see that she is already happily engaged in an activity and then I seize the moment to tackle something off my list.
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  • No, I don’t wake up before the kids and I am so over trying to make that happen! I absolutely love having the kids wake up at 7 (the boys have their own clocks now and aren’t allowed out of their rooms until 7) and then come pile in bed with us. It is one of my favorite times of the day. In fact, some days I do wake up and exercise early (usually Mondays and sometimes Wed) and I find that I really miss our snuggle time. What aspects of your days energize you and add fun to life?  Making my kids feel special, making our home a warm, friendly place, connecting with my husband, having a good conversation with a friend…all these things give me energy.  Do you do home-related things while your kids are awake or wait until naptime?  I’m a little old-school here, but I like for my kids to know that they are not the center of the universe and that I have lots of other things to do in addition to caring for and playing with them. I found (when the kids were young) that if I gave them 20-30 minutes of my undivided attention, then I could realistically ask for them to play on their own for at least that same amount of time. Playing on their own is a great skill for kids to learn. And they have to learn it the hard way….by doing it! My daughter is 3 now and can play on her own for an hour at time. And the boys can go for longer than that! So all that to say, I do house work and other responsibilities while the kids are awake and save their nap time as ‘my time’.

7) What are the ways you inject humor into your life and get some good laughs? :)

  • My ridiculously entertaining 2 year old and youtube keep me smiling.
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  • I find that my son is always making me laugh.  I love acting silly with him and making him laugh.  It’s especially fun to see my husband be silly with him since he’s usually so shy and reserved with everyone else.  We love listening to music and dancing around our flat.  My husband and I love to watch comedy sit-coms.  Some of our favorites that always make us laugh are Modern Family, The Office, Better With You, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, and Parenthood(this one also makes me cry every time…it’s my favorite show!).  It’s fun to watch them together and most of them are only like 20 minutes since there are no commercials.
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  • When we really need a laugh, we watch WipeOut.  (Or look at our budget.  Ha!)
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  • My daugher! That child cracks me up. My husband and I also love joking about the English. We must laugh at least once a day about some way that they are so very different from us! They surprise us regularly! And I love them for it! :)
Shuga' Mommas

Shuga’ Mommas: Iced Sugar Cookies

Who doesn’t love a good sugar cookie? And, with the added bonus of icing?

I know I do. But, I love sugar. The love affair began at a young age, and although I’ve managed to reign it in quite a bit over the years (mostly because of a failing metabolism), I still enjoy probably more than my fair share.

I’ve tried several sugar cookie recipes, and have finally tweaked a foolproof one…. one that I love, and one that loves me back. And, you can never go wrong if you find a recipe that loves you back. You need all the lovin’ you can get when you’re a graduate wife.

SUGAR COOKIES

  • 1.5 cups of butter (Note: use real butter – yes, I have an obsession with using real butter)
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 4.5 cups of flour

With a mixer (hand or stand), cream butter and sugar till smooth.

Beat in eggs, vanilla, baking powder and salt. Add flour and combine. Cover and chill dough in refrigerator for 2 hours, or even overnight! (Note: for less mess, I use a glass/plastic bowl to do all my mixing in, slapping a lid on top so it goes straight from mixing into the fridge).

Once dough has chilled, roll dough onto floured surface into 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut into shapes. (The ones photographed below are from a recent baby shower).

Preheat over to 400F (200 C), and bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 5-7 minutes. Do not let them get brown.

Once cookies have baked, cool on racks or wax paper.  DO NOT ICE until completely cooled.

ICING

(I would like to point out that while I enjoy baking, I am less than amateur when it comes to icing and decorating cookies. I definitely think there is a cake/cookie decorating class in my future)!

  • 1.5 cups of confectioner’s sugar (or icing sugar in the UK)
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • a dash of almond extract (or if you prefer the icing to have a bit more of an almond flavor, add more – I usually add 1/2 tsp)
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of milk (can add more, depending on the desired icing consistency)

Cream sugar and butter with mixer (hand or stand). Combine rest of ingredients till smooth. Depending on the consistency of your icing, you can either ‘paint’ your cookies, or just glob on loads of icing. I chose to paint my cookies, rolling on the icing till smooth, allowing them to dry over night.

For the baby shower, I made 2 batches of icing, dividing them into 2 separate bowls. Once divided, I added 1 drop of red food coloring in one bowl to make pink icing, and 1 drop of blue food coloring in the other bowl to make light blue icing. I used a decorating bag with a round tip 12 for the piping.

This is where your creative side can come in! You literally can take this recipe and use it for ANY occasion….Christmas, Halloween, birthdays…the sky is the limit!

Enjoy!

-Mandy

Shuga' Mommas

Shuga’ Mommas: Chicken Noodle Soup

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The Graduate Wife is delighted to announce a new series featuring budget & time friendly recipes for you and your family!  We hope these posts bring many a happy belly.  If you would ever enjoy submitting just send us an email!

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Written by Tori – a current graduate wife

As a trained chef, mom “on-the-way”, and the wife of a graduate student, I feel I have a great responsibility to feed myself and my husband delicious, healthy meals, and spend as little money as possible on groceries!  I love to use coupons and get freebies whenever possible, but depending on where you live, I realize that isn’t always easy.  I find myself in a huge internal debate every time I stand in the meat section, wondering if I should buy the organic chicken (yes, I should), or buy the chicken that’s on sale- I mean, I have spent hours matching up coupons with store sales, haven’t I? I can’t spend $12 on a few chicken breasts and ruin all my hard work, right? (I haven’t come up with a good answer yet).

Sometimes when I leave the store and my master coupon scheme hasn’t worked as well as I had planned, I feel like crying.  Is that normal?  Either way, I feel like I am not even capable of doing my job well (don’t even get me started on what happens when I “overcook” dinner!).

I like to imagine that I am not the only one that feels this way about shopping and cooking.  Because of that, I am sharing a delicious, simple, and budget friendly Chicken Noodle Soup recipe.  Chicken Noodle Soup isn’t the most glamorous or exciting meal, but it is such a comfort food: perfect for all you graduate wives far from home.

This recipe and the prices are not precise, as I don’t write them down.  Keep in mind that the amounts are estimates, and I was cooking for 2 only.

Here’s what you need:

  • Chicken: I pulled two breasts right out of the freezer – – $2 (you caught me- it’s obviously not organic)
  • 4-5 cups of Chicken Broth or Stock – – $ Free! (See below*)
  • Noodles of your choice: ½ a box – – $1 (Can be free, easily, if you have a sale and a coupon!)
  • 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
  • ½ of a yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Salt, pepper

Total: less than $5


Step 1: 
Place the whole chicken breasts in a pot of water and boil for 15 minutes or until cooked (no need to thaw).  Remove from the water, and chop or shred with a knife and fork. Set aside.

Step 2:  Boil the noodles in a fresh pot of water until almost done- it’s good to leave them a bit firm and let them finish cooking in the soup!

Step 3: Heat your chicken stock in a pot on medium heat; to a simmer (either store bought or homemade*)

Step 4:  Dice the onion, carrot, (a stalk of diced celery if you have it- I was all out) and garlic.  Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat, and add the onions and carrot and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Sautee the vegetables until tender, and then add the garlic (always add the garlic toward the end of cooking, as it burns easily)

Step 5:  Add all ingredients together in the pot of chicken stock, let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, and voila!

~If you have a can of peas or corn, toss them in at the end!

Serve with toast or crackers

*When I buy chicken, I often buy bone-in chicken breasts.  They are always cheaper than boneless/skinless breasts, and I use the bones to make homemade stock.

When you get home with the chicken, slice the meat off of the bone, and add the bones to a pot of water, just deep enough to cover.  If you have a carrot, a stalk of celery, half of an onion, and a bay leaf, toss them in, too.  No need to chop anything.  Cover this pretty mixture with a lid, and let it gently simmer on low-medium heat for a few hours.  The longer it simmers, the richer it will taste- but be careful not to let it boil dry!  This should be a gentle process. 

I store the broth in plastic containers in the freezer and pop them out when I’m ready to cook!