Month: February 2011

Quesadilla Family Dinner for the Busy EntrepreneurQuesadillas are somewhere in between a tex-mex sandwich and pizza.  They are easy, versatile, almost everyone likes them, and perfect for the busy family and over-scheduled entrepreneur.

The key to making this a quick and easy dinner is to prepare and plan ahead.  Another “nice to have” is a quesadilla maker.  Funny thing is that I’m not big into extra equipment that takes up space, but received one as a gift and now I love the way it speeds up the process in making quesadillas.

Step 1: Plan the ingredients ahead of time.

By planning your meals once a week you can plan to make Chicken or Steak on Monday and then making enough to have leftovers saved later in the week to make your quesadillas on another day.  Personally, I like to grill my chicken or steak and then slice it up nice and thin.  Make sure you have any other ingredients you may want in your quesadilla and remember to have your favorite cheese and flour tortillas in stock!  (other ingredients could include: re-fried beans, sour cream,  variety of cheeses, salsa, olives, onions, and tomatoes)

Step 2: Organize ingredients to your family’s palate

Not sure about your house, but we all have different opinions on what ingredients make the best quesadilla.  Mom likes lots of veggies, dad likes lots of meat, my tween likes it simple with just chicken and cheese and my teenager… well, he packs it up with the “works” because he’s always hungry. Sound familiar in your busy household?

Step 3: Family who cooks together, stays together

Put all the ingredients on the counter, warm up the quesadilla maker (or a hot skillet works just as well,) and let everyone make their own.  Put a flour tortilla down on the quesadilla maker, add your best ingredients and don’t forget the cheese.  Place another with another flour tortilla on the top and close the lid until it’s hot, melted and ready.  (Be sure to lightly oil your skillet, if that is what you are using)

Step 4: Eat and Enjoy!

Now is the time to silence the phones, turn off the TV, sleep the computer and set the table.  Family time is important for busy entrepreneurs and working parents.  In fact, IBM conducted a study of 1,500 employees and found that the employees who made it home for dinner with their family felt better about their jobs and about their families.

So something positive for your career and your business…. make it home in time for dinner!

Betty Hakes is a working mom and entrepreneur. Her passion is to bring families back around the dinner table and to help business succeed locally and in the online space.

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Tricks and Tips for getting dinner on table on a busy schedule!

I’m all about the planning!  Planning your week’s meals is an important element to making sure that our family receives a balanced and healthy meal in today’s over scheduled world.

However…. Planning isn’t always done. In order to be ready for these crazy days where everyone is hungry at 6PM and you’re home at 5:55PM with no ideas for dinner you need to have some basics at home:

  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Chicken Tenders (homemade from previous dinner)
  • Black Beans
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Frozen potato wedges (Alexa’s recommended)
  • Frozen Shrimp
  • Veggie Burgers (we like the Chipotle Black Beans from Gardenburger)

Here are some quick & easy meal Ideas:

Cuban Style Black Beans over a bed of white rice
– heat up pre-made frozen black beans or open up a can of black beans. Make rice (25 minutes). Serve black beans over white rice with side of veggies or a salad.

Veggie Burgers with Salad
– Grill up some frozen veggie burgers and serve with a salad

Chicken Tenders
– heat up frozen (homemade) chicken tenders and serve with roasted potato wedges (from frozen, Alexa’s) and vegetable of choice (fresh or frozen, no canned veggies please).

Pasta with sautéed shrimp
– sauté some minced garlic in Olive Oil, add defrosted shrimp and add S&P and basil (fresh if you have it) and cook until shrimp is done.  Serve over cooked pasta.

These are just some of my ideas, what are your favorite quick & easy meals?

Betty Hakes is a working mom and entrepreneur. Her passion is to bring families back around the dinner table and to help business succeed locally and in the online space.

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4 Time Saving Questions to Ask Before Completing Any Task

Are all those little tasks on your to-do list eating away at your productivity? Do you find yourself struggling with organizing your day’s tasks effectively and completing them on time? If so, there are four easy questions to answer before starting any task- at home and at the office.

4 Time Saving Questions to Ask Before Completing any Task

1.       How relevant is the task to my priorities and goals? When daily tasks threaten to overwhelm your schedule, it’s important to keep your eye on the bigger picture and evaluate a task’s relevance when compared to your priorities and short and long term goals. This helps you get the biggest and most important task in motion before the smaller ones chip away all of your working time for the day. However, if you find that many lesser important tasks are being pushed from day to day on your calendar, it’s time to call in some help to tidy up these leftovers before they become a problem.

2.       Can I/Should I delegate this task? Effective time managers know that the key to productivity is to avoid being bogged down with micromanaging every task. If someone else in your family or office is capable and willing to perform the task, pass it on and move on to the next item on your list. Tasks that do not require high levels of performance, like taking out the trash, scooping the cat box, or stapling papers, should always be delegated, leaving you free to tackle the more sensitive tasks for the day.

3.       Am I capable of completing this task? This question encompasses the need to gather supplies or  equipment, recruit extra hands or brains, and identify weaknesses in your skills and ability to successfully complete a task before you get started. Gathering supplies, a creative team, or instituting the necessary training before tackling a task ensures that your total work time from start to finish is as streamlined as possible.

4.       Do I understand the task and its requirements? Nothing can kill your productivity faster than getting halfway through a task and then realizing that you misunderstood a crucial detail or don’t know what comes next in the process. Knowing and understanding what your job will be in completing a particular task is crucial to managing your time effectively.

These four questions will help you prepare, prioritize, and complete your daily tasks at home and at work with greater efficiency. Saving time lets you free up space for increased productivity and a little more time for yourself. By streamlining your productivity, you enrich your life both at work and at home.

Jamie Simmerman is a registered nurse and freelance writerFollow her on Twitter

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Your Top 3 Excuses for Not Exercising Destroyed

You’ll totally start exercising…tomorrow. Or maybe next week. When the weather cools down. When it gets warmer. When you can afford a gym. Someday.

Sound familiar? Almost all of us know how important exercise is and the ways that it can help virtually any problem yet we come up with reason after reason to put it off. Here are some of the most common reasons I’ve heard and a virtual butt-kicking to get you off your tush and moving.

1. I DON’T HAVE TIME.

Most of us do have the time, we’re just using it for other things. I know you’re tired, I’m tired, too but exercise is nearly guaranteed to give you more energy and stamina in the long run and it’s worth feeling exhausted for a couple of days or weeks to get more energy for life.

If you truly have a packed schedule, chances are good it’s time to reevaluate your life and do some thinking about what can be eliminated so that you can take care of yourself. Keeping yourself fit and healthy is not a luxury, it should be at the top of your list of priorities. Not just so you can keep going for everyone else, but because you are worth it.

2. I DON’T HAVE MONEY FOR A GYM OR SPECIALIZED EXERCISE EQUIPMENT.

You don’t need to join a gym to exercise and there are plenty of physical activities that don’t require expensive gear. Good workout shoes are pricey, but while you’re saving up look into low impact activities like walking that can be done with the shoes you already own or look into exercise that you can do barefoot like yoga.

Be creative and ask around. I’m amazed at how many churches in my area offer totally free gyms for the public to use, no strings attached. Some even offer free workout classes and free or low cost childcare. Do an internet search, ask friends and coworkers, ask your human resources liaison, call community centers and your city’s parks and recreation department – chances are good you’ll find a wealth of free or low cost resources to help you get in shape. Take some initiative and stop using money as an excuse.

3. I’LL DO IT AFTER….

You don’t have to immediately leap into a Rocky-style workout regimen, so why not start small, now instead of waiting for perfect conditions that will probably never come? Take a walk, do an easy work out tape, do some yard work, go for a swim, just get moving.

Start small and start today. What’s that old saying? The enemy of good is perfect? Don’t put off taking care of yourself until you can do it perfectly. It’s better to do a little now than to try and wait until you feel you are ready.

A caveat: Everyone should get a yearly physical to make sure that they are in good shape and have no serious health conditions. You’ve all heard that you should talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine and that is solid advice, however people in good physical health can’t use it as an excuse not to take a walk or do a little stretching! Go ahead and schedule your physical and in the meantime get moving.

For those with chronic conditions or serious warning symptoms like shortness of breath, go to the doctor first, but don’t put it off. Be proactive about your health by finding out how you can use exercise to help relieve or eliminate your symptoms and lead a healthier life going forward.

What are your excuses for not exercising? How do you get over them?

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