A Month of Menu Plans

Isn't it the way it goes? We get caught up in this and that, and rush out to the store to grab whatever happens to sound good at meal time. I do that sometimes. Towards the end of this past year, I was doing a lot of that. The kids had a lot of things going on, and I was spending the majority of my day driving around. Menu planning wasn't exactly on my radar, nor was I really in the mood to cook much.

I'd like to at least start out with some ideas to keep spending under control. Though it is a bit more work to actually cook something other than a frozen dinner, it can save money and everyone will eat a healthier meal.

Below are about a months worth of menu ideas that I'll be coming back to. Some are kid favorites and some of just good hearty meals.  I like to buy chicken and other meats in bulk when I can to get a more reasonable price. Other items are a staple in the pantry like chicken broth, flour and sugar, and various pasta types.

Perhaps you can take away some ideas for your own menu.

Turkey Meatballs, Rice, Veggie
Bean and Cheese Burritos 
Baked Ziti and Salad
Chicken Enchilada Bake
Risotto with Wild Mushrooms
Baked Chicken, Garlicky Pasta and Carrots
Ranch Chicken, Potato Casserole, Salad
Shepards Pie
Meat Loaf, Rice and Veggie
Balsamic Chicken with Brussels Sprouts, French Bread
Crockpot Beef and Broccoli, Rice
Pancakes and Sausage
Szechuan Chicken Pasta with Veggies
Alfredo with Chicken and Salad
Chili and Cornbread
Fried Rice and Pot Stickers
Ham, Cheese, Broccoli and Rice Casserole
Corn Chowder and Biscuits
Sausage and Beans
Sloppy Turkey Joes and Tater Tots, Veggie
Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese 
French Bread Pizza
Chicken Parmesan and Salad
Black Bean Soup and Quesadillas
Chili Baked Potatoes
Ham and Kale Quiche
Taco Bowls
Chicken Pot Tie
Orange Chicken and Stir Fry Veggies

Now to actually shop and cook! Wish me luck.


Shining in the Dark

 It's been raining cats and dogs, going on more than a week now. As grateful for the rain that we are, everyone I've run into has expressed a desire for a little bit of a break. There has been flooding and mud slides. People are facing disaster. 

The other night I had to run out in the evening for milk. It had stopped raining and I was grateful not to be getting soaked. I rushed in the store, and out again in a hurry. And then it struck me, really struck me, that it had stopped raining. I looked up, and though there were some clouds here and there, I could see the stars shining brightly.  I stopped in the middle of the parking lot and stared at the sky. And then someone else walked close by and looked up as well. 

"Look, they're still there!" the person stated. Indeed, they weren't going anywhere. We'd been walking around with our heads down for a while now, and it was nice to look up. The next morning it was overcast again. 

Isn't it interesting that sometimes, the things that are brightest that we don't appreciate enough, only really get appreciation once it's dark?



 Trust can be hard. But what if the one you are supposed to trust has proven time and again that he is trust worthy? Then trust becomes easy. 

Once you choose to trust then you can have peace and confidence in the future. 

 Grab your own copy of this quote from Hilary of Poirtiers and make it a prayer to trust. 


Beautiful, Like You and Me

Over the last few months I've been enjoying working more with my watercolors. I've done a few commissioned pieces, family portraits and some verses. I've not mastered the art of including calligraphy and lettering into my works like some people I've seen. Just do a search on Instagram and you'll find some amazing work. If there were more hours in the day I might have more time to spend practicing, but I'm enjoying it when I get to do it. 
The verse above from Song of Solomon jumped off the page at me the other day. I decided to write it out, and then caught myself when it was all done. I made a little *bloop* right in the middle of the page! How fitting, actually. God's love surpasses our bloops. The verse is still beautiful, even with my little mistake. You and I are still beautiful despite our mistakes and imperfections. 
Really think about it though...God calls you beautiful. You. And me. Let that soak in for a few minutes. You are beautiful
Humbling, isn't it...

Now....to fix that little *bloop*.


A New Year ~ 2017~

Here we are ringing in a New Year. I'm content with quietly welcoming it from my chair, sipping my coffee and letting my children sleep in. I'm relishing in the quiet. It's so rare, and I've found myself craving it a lot lately.

This past year was a whirlwind of change and conflict resolution, challenge and conquering fears, finding more of my voice, and trusting God is taking my hand and leading me in everything. My kids have watched the movie Chicken Little about 20 times too many and their recent prayers include "Closure" for some of the things we have faced this year. It makes me chuckle. But it is a magnificent prayer as well, especially when it includes God's will for our lives.

This year ahead will include much of the same, but much more as well. My resolution is to find peace amidst whatever comes our way. I realize I can't control certain aspects of life, parenting, and the actions of others. But if I seek peace, surely I'll find it.

Wishing you all peace and joy in the year ahead,


Advent Countdown

Advent us upon us! It's just around the turn. Having a visual count down to Christmas helps me and the family to prioritize. 

Click to download the printable version
A blessed journey to Christmas, friends!


Psalm 145 Printable

This printable coincides with today's readings for

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Please enjoy your very own download to print of Psalm 145:13.


Apple Cranberry Spice Bake

All I can say about this is....get on your stretchy-waisted pants.  
Really, though, you are going to want to eat this whole pan of deliciousness. 
This was a happy accident that resulted from wanting to use up some apples and cranberries I had on hand. They were both starting to go and I needed to save them with something delicious. 

I had previously made a crumble of sorts with both apples and cranberries, and it was really yummy too. But I wanted to try something a little bit different. We are huge fans of Pull-Aparts. Or as everyone else calls them, Monkey Bread. I had heard of someone adding apple pie filling to them, but I was curious to see how it would turn out with the addition of the cranberries. We were in a for a sweet surprise.

I did make use of the microwave for this recipe. As I do with my apple pie filling, I pre-cooked my filling so that the baking time was shorter. 10 minutes in the microwaves and it was smooth sailing putting everything together after that. When you do this it can cut down on your baking time by a pretty big portion of time. This is great for the holidays when you have several different things to bake.

Here is the recipe, and please take a look at the video for look at how it all comes together!

  • 3 Large Granny Smith Apples, Peeled and Chopped in 1/2 inch 
  • 1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries, picked over
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinammon
  • 1 1/2 tblsp corn starch
  • 4 cans of Pillsbury Biscuits, the small rolls
  • Butter, to butter your pan
  • 1 cup powder sugar
  • 2 tsp milk
13x 9 inch baking dish

Heat oven to 350 degrees. 
In a large microwavable bowel put your apples, cranberries, spices and cornstarch. Mix to coat your fruit. Microwave for 5 minutes. Stir. Repeat, for another 5 minutes. While your fruit cooks, butter you pan and set it aside. Open one can at a time of the biscuits, and cut them into small bite sized pieces. I like to use kitchen scissors. Spread the pieces evenly in the pan repeating with each can of biscuits. When your fruit it done cooking, it should be soft and have a slightly thickened juice. Carefully spread it over the top of the biscuits in your pan. Bake for about 35- 45 minutes, until the biscuits are cooked through. Set aside.

Mix your powdered sugar and milk to make a drizzle for the top. Add more sugar or milk to get the consistency that you like. Drizzle it over the top.

This is best served warm.

A video posted by Celeste Bowen (@artisticceleste) on


This is definitely on my to-make list for Christmas morning!


Switching as a Family

 My youngest has been Gluten and Dairy free since she was only a couple of months old. It's been a journey for me because I love food. Baking, cooking, recipes, beautiful food. If you've stuck around here long enough, you've witnessed some of my concoctions. It's been a huge challenge for me to find alternatives. My daughter doesn't want much in the way of fancy food.

 The challenge has been for me and my palate. The journey started with me cutting things from my own diet so that I could continue to breastfeed, (she had/has severe reflux),which I thought was super important for her growth and development. Hypotonia made learning to nurse a huge challenge, and the allergies added to the challenge. You can read about that journey here on the blog too. But anyway, the diet change has been a challenge in other ways as well. Having to shop separate, cook separate from the rest of the family. It's exhausting some times. So almost three years into this journey, (can you believe she's almost 3 years old), I'm making the decision to switch all of my baking to gluten free. Because who likes having to make two batches, separate in two containers, use two different kinds of ingredients, spend twice the money. No thanks. Think smarter, don't work harder.

I could just be lazy, too. There's always that possibility.

So I am a huge fan of pumpkin baked goods. I love that it is a super versatile food. One time I went to dinner with a friend at this little tiny restaurant in Berkley where the menu was different every time. The husband-wife team were of Indian (as in India) and Hispanic descent. As you can imagine the fusion of the two flavors was amazing. This particular day they had pumpkin enchilada's on the menu. I wasn't quite sure what I was in for by ordering this particular dish, but it turned out to be amazing. For the life of me, I could never repeat the dish. It was really a great mesh of flavors that enhanced the pumpkin flavor. Sweet and savory at the same time. Needless to say, I am a huge fan of finding new and different ways to use pumpkin. 
This is a perfect time to make one of my favorites, though. Pumpkin cookies. Now is the time to stock up on canned pumpkin. And cranberries. I like fresh cranberries, but dried are great for baking as well. I combine the two in these super yummy cookies. They're soft and moist, and the oatmeal gives them a really hearty bite. They are best eaten fresh, but they can keep for a week or so covered, and layered between parchment. Recipe is below! 

  • 1 cup all purpose flour gluten free
  • 3/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1½ cup rolled oats certified gluten free
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 15oz can pumpkin puree
  • 2 sticks Earth Balance Spread, or shortening
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking powder double acting
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup Dried Cranberries
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  1. In a large mixing bowl add flour, oats, brown sugar, white sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and cloves. Whisk together until well combined.
  2. In a separate bowl mix together egg, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, along with butter.
  3. Using a hand mixer, blend all ingredients together until well combined. Stir in the cranberries. Place dough in refrigerator and allow to chill for about 15 minutes.
  4. When dough is chilled, scoop 1-inch to 1½-inch balls of dough onto cookie sheet, leaving about 2-inches of space between each cookie.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cookies are golden brown and slightly firm to the touch. Remove and allow to cool before eating.
I hope you like these as much as we do! 


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