lifestyle


Ways to reduce stress

ways to reduce stress manage stress

Ways to reduce stress: Things which help manage stress levels from top left: A fun mug for decaf tea before bedtime / “Zumba” home workout routines to get moving at home and reduce stress / cozy blanket throw to snuggle up in while relaxing before bedtime / paper planner for getting re-organized (this is the planner I own, and I love it!) /  yoga mat for stress reducing exercise / sneakers for looking cool while talking a stress reducing walk

If you find your life is busy, stressful, and hard to manage, then welcome to the family! I am always looking for new ways to reduce stress in my life. As a working Mother of three who home-schools, and volunteers in the community, I have a lot of balls in the air.

In order to manage stress without drinking alcohol, or using any vices, one needs to get creative! If you search online for ways to reduce stress, often times the articles will give advice about meditating, taking deep breaths, and similar new-age type tips. If you are like me, these new-age tips are completely worthless. I don’t do meditation. I don’t listen to tapes with ocean sounds, and I certainly don’t sit crossed-legged taking deep breaths. No sir-re bob!

As an active person, I need active and calming practices to help me reduce stress; as well as time management. In order to juggle running a business, home-schooling two kids, juggling three schedules for three children, keeping my house in order, and maintaining my two, big volunteer jobs, I have created my five tips to managing stress. These work for me! I hope you like them and find them helpful!

5 ways to reduce stress in life

  1. Exercise: OK, I am sure you have heard this before, but exercise is my favorite way to manage my stress level. When you exercise, you release endorphins which helps to keep your spirits up. Exercising actually creates energy, making it easier to get through your busy day. My favorite stress-relieving exercises include Cardio Kickboxing (imagine punching things that stress you out), Spin Classes (spin out the stress!), and Cardio dance classes (nothing like getting lost in the rhythm and the music!).
  2. Get Organized: This may sound like a no-brainer, but sometimes we need to reorganize our personal organization systems. Try switching from an electronic to-do list to a paper planner, or vise-versa. Sometimes just using a new organizational system can makes things seem more simple. I use a paper planner with my daily schedule and to-do list. This helps me organize by the day, week, and month. If one day seems too busy, you can easily switch things up. I think a paper planner is easier to see at a glance versus using an app. I also like being able to take my pen and check things off after they are done.
  3. Relax at least one hour before bed: I don’t know about you, but I cannot get my much-needed sleep if I work up until bedtime. One hour before I go to sleep I zone out in front of the television. This is also a great time to chat on the phone with a friend, catch up with your friends on social media, or listen to music. Don’t do anything productive or your mind will still be spinning when you try to go to sleep.
  4. Schedule “Me Time:” When you work, raise children, and juggle everyday life, sometimes it can be hard to remember to schedule time with your friends, or to schedule alone time. What is fun and relaxing for you? Is it meeting a friend for lunch during a busy day? Is it strolling through the mall with your friends? Is it taking a long walk alone? Make sure you have at least one planned “me time” during the week, every week. It will help keep you sane.
  5. Stay away from addictive substances and sugar: No joke. Caffeine can make you jittery and elevate your heart rate when you are under stress. Alcohol can cause all sorts of headaches when you are stressed out; and I don’t just mean a hangover. Do I even need to mention why cigarettes cause stress even thought you think they calm you down? Just say no. Stay away from anything addictive. Sugar too! Sugar can make you tired, less productive, and groggy. There is no place for a lot of sugar in a busy day. Save sweet treats for your rest days; in moderation of course.

These are the ways I reduce stress in my life, and I manage my stress levels. What are some ways you manage stress in your busy lives?

Things I find comforting when I am stressed out:

Thanks for stopping by!

XOXO

Cathy


Cottage Pie recipe – alternate of Shepard’s Pie with beef

cottage pie recipe

Raise your hand if you love comfort food! My hand is way up! This is the time of year when warm, heavy comfort food is perfect for combating the cold weather. One of my family’s favorite recipes in the cold weather months is Cottage Pie; which is also known as Shepard’s Pie with beef.

If you are familiar with Shepard’s Pie, then you know it is a recipe made with ground lamb. I don’t eat lamb, so I created my own Shepard’s Pie with ground beef; which is commonly known as Cottage Pie. I made this Cottage Pie recipe myself over the years through trial and error with ingredients my family enjoys to eat. I hope you love my Cottage Pie recipe, also know as Shepard’s Pie with beef!

Ingredients:

1.5 lbs. grass-fed, 90% lean ground beef (for Shepard’s Pie, substitute ground lamb)

4 Russet Potatoes made into mashed potatoes

1 cup shredded mild cheddar

3/4 cup chicken broth

3 carrots chopped

3/4 lb. green beans OR 1 bag of frozen peas (my family seems to prefer peas)

2 cups sliced mushrooms or 2 cans of sliced mushrooms

4 teaspoons Paprika

2 diced or smashed garlic cloves

1/4 cup chopped onions

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

Yields: 8 servings

cottage pie recipe

How to make Cottage Pie or Shepard’s Pie with beef:

Start by boiling the four potatoes. When they are soft enough, mash up the potatoes, and mix in a half cup of milk, three pats of butter, and 1/4 cup chicken broth to help the mashed potatoes not get dry. The rest of the chicken broth will go into the meat mixture.

While the potatoes are cooking, cook the ground beef with a tablespoon of olive oil. Then, chop the carrots, onions, mushrooms (unless you use cans) and beans (if you use beans instead of peas). Throw all of the ingredients, including the garlic and paprika, into a mixing bowl. Stir until everything is mixed together. Keep the mashed potatoes separate.

cottage pie recipecottage pie recipe

Once everything is mixed together, scoop the mixture into a large casserole dish. Using a wooden spoon, smooth out the mixture so that it lays flat in the casserole dish.

cottage pie recipecottage pie recipe

Once your mashed potatoes are ready, scoop them into the casserole dish, on top of the meat mixture. You will want to smooth out the mashed potatoes on top of the mixture to make a flat top. This can be done with a wooden spoon.

cottage pie recipecottage pie recipe

When the mashed potatoes are nice and flat on top of the beef mixture, sprinkle the shredded cheddar on top of the mashed potatoes. Try to spread the cheese evenly on top of the casserole so that when it bakes, the cheese melts evenly on top.

cottage pie recipe

Cover your casserole dish. My casserole dish has a glass lid, but if you don’t have a lid for your casserole dish you can cover it with tin foil or aluminum foil.

Bake your Cottage Pie for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. After 30 minutes, remove the lid or foil and bake for another five minutes at 400 degrees. The total cooking time for Cottage Pie, from when you start boiling the potatoes, to when the casserole is done in the oven, is about 2 hours. Be sure to allow enough cooking time in your schedule. This is a dish you can always prepare ahead of time too! That is what I love about casserole-style dishes, you can prep them ahead of time, and then just bake them when you are ready!

This is an all-in-one dish, so you don’t need any side dishes. It is a complete meal! Love that! Serve with your favorite beverage, and enjoy!

If you would like to make Shepard’s Pie, you can substitute the ground beef for ground lamb, and this Cottage Pie recipe will instantly transform into a Shepard’s Pie recipe.

Things you might need to cook this Cottage Pie recipe at home:

I hope you love this Cottage Pie recipe, also known as Shepard’s Pie with beef. Enjoy!

XOXO

Cathy

cottage pie recipe


Crab Macaroni and Cheese recipe

homemade crab macarani and cheese recipe

pictured: Cathy’s homemade Crab Macaroni and Cheese recipe

Have you ever wondered how to make crab macaroni and cheese? Well, it’s really easy! If you love comfort food, and you love shellfish, and you love mac and cheese, then this is the dish for you!

I love, love, love macaroni and cheese. I also love Crab! Together, they make a grown-up version of every kid’s favorite meal from a box; without the box, and using real cheese.

In order to make my Crab Macaroni and Cheese at home, I use my personal macaroni and cheese recipe, then I add crab. It’s really easy. If you prefer substituting something in lieu of the crab, you can switch out the crab for lobster or shrimp. They both result in really yummy, grown up versions of macaroni and cheese! Yum!

how to make crab macaroni and cheese

How to make Crab Macaroni and Cheese. Start off by making homemade macaroni and cheese. Here is my recipe:

Cathy’s homemade macaroni and cheese recipe:

  • 1 lb. box of Barilla Elbow pasta cooked (you can use any brand-this is my preferred brand)
  • 16 oz. shredded Kraft Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese.
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika

Mix together the cooked pasta, Paprika, and shredded cheese. Place mixture in a large casserole. Cover and bake at 375 degrees, non-convection, for 25 minutes.

While the macaroni and cheese is baking, you can cook your crab mixture. You will need:

  • 1 lb. crab (shelled) (I buy it pre-shelled from the butcher) (Sub: lobster or small shrimp if you prefer)
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup pure virgin olive oil (the real stuff tastes best!)
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup chopped or diced onion (cut to your preference-I prefer diced)
  • 1 tablespoon Paprika

In a mixing bowl, mix all of these ingredients together until they are blended. Pour mixture into a medium saucepan and cook until the crab is done, and the butter is nicely melted.

crab macaroni and cheese recipe

After 25 minutes in the oven, remove the macaroni and cheese casserole, but leave your oven on, and the door closed. Uncover the macaroni and cheese. Smooth your crab mixture over the top of the macaroni and cheese. I always leave a section bare because my oldest daughter doesn’t like fish, so she only eats the plain macaroni and cheese. You can cover half, like I do, or you can put shrimp on one side, and crab on the other. The mixture is large enough to cover the entire top if you decide to not leave a portion blank.

When the top of the macaroni and cheese is covered by the crab mixture, cover the casserole dish and bake at 375 for another 10 minutes.

Before you serve the Crab Macaroni and Cheese, please let it cool for 5-10 minutes in the covered casserole dish, outside the oven. I leave the casserole on my cooktop. Then, serve it up!

My kids love my homemade Crab Macaroni and Cheese, I hope you do too! It is a delicious comfort food which is perfect for cooler weather. ‘Tis the season for comfort food!

This is also a great dish to make for holiday pot luck parties, or if you are throwing a large party at home. Although I serve it as a main course to my family, for a large party, it can be a hearty side dish in a buffet.

I hope you enjoy it. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Kitchen tools you might need to make this recipe:

Thanks for stopping by!

XOXO

Cathy

crab macaroni and cheese