Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What I'm working with...

Stockpiling my freezer is well underway and I'm feeling great about my accomplishments. But I thought I'd share with you my little secret. I don't have a deep freezer, I know I really need one but instead we have another fridge/freezer combo out in the garage. It's the standard old top freezer. It works well enough, and prior to becoming boring parents who had no lives, the fridge part was really needed too. We have a pool table & darts in the garage, so the fridge was used for storing cases of cokes and beer. Along came baby #1 and the get togethers sadly ended and the fridge part is now empty, except for the occasional extra gallon of milk or packages of butter.

But I have found that as long as you're organized, my little outside freezer works. Prior to my "baby stockpiling" the outside freezer was used only for storing meats, while my kitchen side-by-side style freezer housed convenience foods and frozen veggies. Since I'm now stockpiling I'm slowly transforming the outside freezer into my "go to meals" freezer and hoping to use up most of our frozen meat since I know I WILL NOT be doing any scratch cooking for at least a month when baby #2 comes.

And until then I'm storing those scratch cooking basics in my inside freezer. So here's the progress of my baby stockpiling and what I'm working with....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Official "Feed the Freezer" List

So baby #2 will be here in January and I know that I will have my hands full with a new baby and a rambunctous two year old so I'm feeling the need to have a freezer full of fast go-to meals for our first few weeks at home. I will be trying to gradually cook the items on my list since I'm already exhausted after cooking normally nowdays. And of course if I find more items they'll be added to the list, some ideas of which I still need to find recipes too.

Gingerbread Waffles
Ham & Cheese Muffins
Breakfast Tacos/Burritos
French Toast Casserole
Ham & Cheese Quiche
Savory Breakfast Casserole
Pancakes (a couple of different varieties)
French Toast Sticks
Whole Wheat, Oatmeal, and Raisin Muffins
Applesauce, Bran, and Oatmeal Muffins

Chicken Taquitos
Sloppy Joes
Beef & Bean Chimichangas

Chicken Enchiladas
Manicotti & Sauce
Chicken Pot Pies
Shepherd's Pie
King Ranch Chicken
Veggie Meatloaf & Mac 'n Cheese
Chicken Spaghetti
Three Bean Chili & Cheddar Cornbread Muffins
Sausage & Spinach Soup
Chili Cornbread Casserole
LaBamba Casserole
Chicken Broccoli Casserole
Chicken Florentine Bake
Turkey & Artichoke Stuffed Shells & Sauce
Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage
Chicken Stroganoff
Beef Daube Provencal

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A quick update

So it's been FOREVER since I've done an update. Yes I'm still laid off but honestly not putting much effort into the search since we'll be having a new baby arrive in January. I mean who can really afford to put 2 kids in daycare unless you're making well over 6 figures? Anyways I've been loving staying home but it doesn't leave much time for me. The first 4 months of this pregnancy were really rough, the hubby and monster ate fast food everyday since the thought of food was horrible. But I have been feeling better now and have been cooking more so I wanted to share just a few of the recipes I've tried lately. I'm sure that I'll forget some but then I can blame it on pregnancy brain right?

Paula Dean's Cinnamon Rolls
Pioneer Woman's Orange Marmalade Rolls
Ina Garten's Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Seared Salmon with Sorrel Sauce & creamy horseradish mashed potatoes
Quick Roast Chicken
Bobby Flay's Veggie Meatloaf, Creamy Mashed Cauliflower & Steamed Green Beans
Kroger's Veggie Lasagna Roll-Ups
Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff
Paula Dean's Old Fashioned Meatloaf with Ina Garten's Mac & Cheese
Emeril's Chili Mac
Tilapia Fish Tacos

Flu Fighter Cookies
Bread Pudding w/Bourbon Sauce

Okay I'm back now for the recipes that I didn't get to before (9/13/09)

Quick Roast Chicken
3-4 lb roast/fryer chicken, preferably already cut up
1 to 2 small to medium quartered white onions
1 lemon
1 lb of quartered red potatoes (can use more if you want)
1 lb baby carrots (ditto)
fresh sage, rosemary & thyme
olive oil
salt & pepper

In a large roasting pan place the potatoes, onions and carrots. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Tossing well to coat. Layer the pieces of chicken over the veggies. Slice the lemon and squeeze the juice over the chicken. Quarter the squeezed lemon and place under the pieces of chicken. This will allow the lemon to steam through into the chicken. Generously sprinkle your fresh sage, thyme and rosemary over the chicken & veggies. Sprinkle the chicken with salt & pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Cover with aluminum foil and roast in a 400' oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue cooking for another 30 minutes or until the juices run clear.

Creamy Mashed Cauliflower (aka sneaky mashed potatoes)
1 lb fresh or frozen cauliflower
1/3 c cream
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp cream cream (optional)

Steam the cauliflower until tender, when tender remove from heat and shock in an ice water bath. When cooled, drain and place in food processor. Blend cauliflower until desired texture, should resemble chunky mashed potatoes. Place the mash into a stockpot and add remaining ingredients. Stirring occasionally until well heated. At this p
oint you can add the cream cheese if desired, blending well until melted.

Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff
1-2 lb boneless skinless ckn thigh meat
1 pkg sliced mushrooms
1 chopped white onion
1 can of mushroom soup
1 tbsp of worcestershire sauce
1 c chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste
dried parsley flakes to taste
1 tsp dried thyme
1 c sour cream

Cut the chicken into bite sized cubes and place in slow cooker. Add mushrooms, onions and remaining ingredients thru thyme. Slow cook over low heat for 8 hours, stirring occasionally. About 30 minutes prior to serving add the sour cream and stir until well blended. Serve over egg noodles.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I'll fell off the edge of the Earth!

Ok so not really but kind of. I apologize to those few people who might have actually enjoyed reading my nonsense. I have found that it's really hard to find time to play around on the internet when I'm staying home all day with my lil monster. I rarely have time to do anything but check my email and other most important things. Menu planning has become a struggle too - but I persevere, just not as far out planned. So here's a quick update about what I've been up to....

1. Laid off, yup.

2. I decided to start a direct selling business. I'm a Tastefully Simple consultant now and loving it! This is a great fix for my lack of menu planning. It's open and serve stuff that I can throw on chicken or veggies and I've got a meal!

3. Had a lovely trip to Mountainview Arkansas for the music festival. My grandpa was up there so we went to see him, some neat mountain scenery and hear bluegrass music.

4. I've made some new yummy recipes of course so I'll have to update you on them after my monster goes to bed tonight.

5. The CSA I joined is about up and running, the 1st bushels should be ready in May. I'm super excited since I'm not paying a lick for a year's worth of fresh organic fruits and veggies! They've also got free range chickens so I think this is where I'll be getting my chicken too!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Big News

I apologize in advance for the lack of the shopping list. I had some crazy events happen the week I posted my month's menu. I was (dum dum da dum dum) laid off! Yes tragic I know, however I'm actually much happier. Granted this is said while I'm still on the payroll and have a severance to look forward to in addition to collecting unemployment. I truly believe this was a blessing in disguise and I pray that God will provide for my family. In the meantime I'm loving staying home with my lil monster and playing the happy homemaker. I believe it's want I was meant to do. So in light of the changes to our schedules my menu has and will be changed. And for the first time in my life I'm having to plan breakfasts and lunches for us all. (Before monster was fed at daycare and the hubby and I skipped or ate out)

As if there wasn't enough change in our lives, the hubby and I recently went to see a dietitian to figure out what and how much he should be eating, and of course thus me as well. So after our meeting I'll be working hard to pack quality lunches and snacks for my man.

Since I have little experience when it comes to breakfasts and lunches any ideas for either one of my men would be greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Applesauce, Bran, and Oatmeal Muffins

I just have to rave about this recipe I tried today. I made a double batch so that I could freeze one batch. Super yummy w/o being bland. I was afraid they might be too heavy and "germy" tasting but these are great! I love the fact that they are sugar free (I used sugar free applesauce and agave necter instead of corn syrup). The bran and oats are a much better alternative to the flour based muffins for my diabetic hubby. You have got to try these, my lil monster just gobbled them up!

Please forgive my inadequate camera skills.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

It's that time again. Time to plan the menus for the month. This month I'm really trying to find a good balance between economical meals and healthy habits. The hubby is diabetic so we really should be limiting the number of starches and sugars he's eating, however as most realize, healthy food is not cheap. Foods that tend to stretch your budget seem to be those pastas, potatoes and rice. So in addition to finding this balance I'm working to incorporate new recipes. New dishes like the Cabbage Rolls really bring some variety and introduce our family to a variety of ethnic and cultural cuisines. Ok maybe that's stretching it but still, we're very Tex-Mex so maybe something different than that will be a change.

For this month I purchased the Angel Food ministries Regular box and February Special #5.
Here is what we will be working with....

Regular Box
1.5 lb Sirloin Strip Steaks (4x6)
2 lb Tray pack Chicken Breast
1 lb Boneless Pork Chops
2 lb Breaded Chicken Nuggets
28 oz Salisbury Steak Entree
12 oz Sliced Bacon
1 lb All-Meat Hot Dogs
1 lb Stir Fry (Broccoli, Red Peppers & Onions)
1 lb Carrots
8 oz Breakfast Cereal
32 oz 2% Shelf Stable Milk
35 oz Crinkle Cut Fries
7.25 oz Mac 'n Cheese
1 lb Rice
1 lb Bean Soup Mix
1 Dozen Eggs

February Special #5 (Fresh Fruit and Veggie Box)
3 lb Premium Idaho Baking Potatoes
3 lb Premium North Carolina Sweet Potatoes
2 lb New Crop Western Grown Yellow Onions
9 oz Premium Raisins
1 lb California Grown Carrots
1 Green Cabbage Head
3 lb Red Delicious Apples
2 Anjou Pears
1 Golden Pineapple
3 lb Valencia Oranges

Items from the boxes will be in blue

This month's baking and feed the freezer will be:
  • Applesauce, Bran, and Oatmeal Muffins x2 to freeze half, I will also be substituting the corn syrup for Agava Nector since the hubby is diabetic. (See Review)
  • Coffee Cake Muffins by Martha Stewart
  • Carrot and Sweet Potato Pancakes x2 to freeze half
  • New York Style Cheesecake (for the hubby's birthday) Review: Well this bombed, it cracked all over while cooking and then didn't even cook all the way through using the suggested time in addition to cooking for longer than suggested. I'm not sure if it was the change in ingredients or what but I WON'T be trying this recipe again. My full fat cheesecakes never have this problem.

Saturday, February 28th
Lunch: Sandwiches & Soup
Dinner:Hamburgers, Potato Salad and Grilled Corn on the Cob

Sunday, March 1st
Dinner: Chicken Fried Steaks, Mashed Potatoes (Idaho Potatoes) and Gravy

Monday, March 2nd
Dinner: Chicken Stir Fry and Brown Rice

Tuesday, March 3rd
Dinner: Paula Deen's Swiss Steak (onions) and Rice
Review: This was a pretty good quick recipe, the meat turned out very tender w/o having to cube it. Not high on the taste scale but a good solid meal.

Wednesday, March 4th
Dinner: Pasta e Fagioli (bacon instead of pancetta, carrots) and French Bread
Review: Well I butchered this one, I did it in the crockpot and forgot about the noodles. I put them in about 30 minutes prior to turning it off but forgot about it all together and so the noodles ended up mushy and ruined the soup. Overall I think I prefer a fagioli with spinach in it too.

Thursday, March 5th
Dinner: Mole-Style Pork Chops with Black Beans and Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes
Review: This was amazing! The mole turned out great, I thought it'd be a dry rub but while cooking it turned saucy and was perfect. The sweet potatoes were the perfect compliment to the pork. A real nice meal.

Friday, March 6th
Dinner: Steak and Blue Cheese Pizza with Mixed Greens Salad

Saturday, March 7th
Breakfast: Something Quick - Swimming Lessons at 9AM
Lunch: Family Fishing Ministry Day - Pack a Picnic
Dinner: Out to Eat, it's my Birthday!

Sunday, March 8th
Dinner: Breakfast for Dinner! Sweet Potato Hash (bacon and eggs) with Spicy Hollandaise Sauce
Review: I love breakfast for dinner nights, it just fills you up so well! This recipe was delish, I will definitely be trying this again. It was the 1st time I've poached eggs so I'll need the practice. I think the hash was a bit too sweet so I'm going to omit the maple syrup next time and just stick with the spicy savory combo.

Monday, March 9th
Dinner: Sausage and Spinach Soup with crusty French Bread
Fresh herbs are added after the soup cooks so they'll retain their bright color and flavor. You can substitute 1 teaspoon dried herbs for each tablespoon fresh, but add them with the tomatoes. Serve with a toasted baguette.
Review: This soup was SUPER. Quick and easy to make and choc full of nutrients. It's a broth base so its low on carbs and my hubby could eat his weight in it w/o worry about his sugars. I loved soaking up the crusty french bread with the leftover broth.

Tuesday, March 10th
Dinner: Traditional Tuna Casserole

Wednesday, March 11th
Dinner: Sizzling Salmon Salad and Crunchy Crackers

Thursday, March 12th
Dinner: Leftover (Frozen) Mexican Lasagna

Friday, March 13th
Dinner: Grilled Sirloin Skewers with Peaches and Peppers and cilantro lime rice
Review: Oh this was so yummy! We used deer sirloins (of course) so I soaked them in milk prior to skewering them (this gets rid of gamey tastes in the meat). The peaches just melted in your mouth and really added great flavor to the steaks. This was a great filling meal that didn't give you that overfull feeling.

Saturday, March 14th
Breakfast: Something Quick - Swimming Lessons at 9AM
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Smoked Paprika Pork Chops and Roasted Veggies

Sunday, March 15th
Dinner: Spanish Style Grilled Chicken with Spanish Rice Stuffed Peppers

Monday, March 16th
Dinner: Ham and Bean Soup with Biscuits and Greens

Tuesday, March 17th
Dinner: All American Chili Dogs Night (hot dogs)

Wednesday, March 18th
Dinner: Salisbury Steak Entree and Mashed Potatoes
Review: This was a boxed dinner, well except I made homemade mashed spuds. For a box meals it was great, my lil monster loved it! He's picky on meat textures but he ate this right up. Had lots of extra sauce to use as gravy on the potatoes.

Thursday, March 19th
Dinner: Stuffed Pork Chops and green beans, stay tuned for this recipe

Friday, March 20th
Dinner: Grilled Salmon, Sweet Potatoes and Orange Zest Broccoli

Saturday, March 21st
Breakfast:Something Quick - Swimming Lessons at 9AM
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Sirloin Steaks? and roasted cabbage side? stay tuned for this decision

Sunday, March 22nd
Dinner: Mock Thanksgiving - whole deep fried chicken w/cajun injector, creamed spinach, stuffing and glazed carrots

Monday, March 23rd
Dinner: Buffalo Chicken Chili and Blue Cheese Cornbread

Tuesday, March 24th
Dinner: Crockpot Breakfast Casserole and fruit salad

Wednesday, March 25th
Dinner: Honey-Pecan Crusted Chicken and veggie?

Thursday, March 26th
Dinner: Turkey Mini Meatloaves and Sneaky Smashed Potatoes
Feed six by doubling the ingredients and shaping the mixture into one eight by four-inch loaf. Bake time may increase to about 45 to 50 minutes; use a thermometer to check for an internal temperature of 165°.
Review: These were a great alternative to traditional meatloaf. I loved how they were perfectly portioned so I could keep the hubby from eating too much. Very flavorful with the hint of kick from the hot sauce.

Friday, March 27th
Dinner: Stomboli and Salad

Saturday, March 28th
Breakfast: Something Quick - Swimming Lessons at 9AM
Dinner: Out to Eat?

And as usual for other great menus check out the Organized Junkie!

Shopping List will be updated by the end of the day.

Photos courtesy of CookingLight, FoodNetwork and RachelRay.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Feed the Freezer and Pantry.

I can see the writing on the wall and hence I'm feeling the urge to stockpile. Plus I've just got that cooking feeling again. I've decided that I need to jar some of my own marinara sauces instead of spending $3.50 a jar for the store bought stuff. So this week I'm going to make a batch of various marinara sauces, some simple and some more fancy. I'm new to this whole canning/jarring thing so I'm just going to use a big stock pot since I don't have a canner. I however am going to invest in a pair of canning tongs.

Here's a great guide for how long to let your jars boil....

The National Center for Home Food Preservation has lots of tips and guides on how to can and jar your own foods. They as well have trusted recipes.

Following their advice I'm going to use the "approved" recipes and then I'll make some of the non-approved recipes and freeze those instead. Lord knows I don't want to mess with botulism.

Non-Approved Marinara Recipes:

Basic Marinara Sauce by Tyler Florence

Heart Healthy Marinara Sauce by Giada De Laurentiis (I say healthy because it has yummy carrots in it)

And I plan on finding a good marinara sauce with mushrooms, since this is what we always buy from the store brands, but I'm going to have to wait and find a good deal on mushrooms.

In addition to the canning, I am going to make some homemade ice cream. There's just something about the thought of making it myself that gets me excited. I absolutely LOVE ice cream and the hubby and I got an electric ice cream maker as a wedding gift that we have yet to use. I always thought it'd be a time consuming, and expensive process but after doing some research on it it seems like a piece of cake, or wait maybe a scoop of ice cream!

Ice Cream Recipes:

Butter Pecan by Elise at Simply Recipes

Fudge Brownie Ice Cream by

Better than Blue Bell Vanilla Ice Cream by Betty, the low carb guru (I'll be trying this one out for my hubby since he needs sugar free ice cream)

My goal by the end of the week is to have a stockpile of yummy ice cream and marinara sauce sitting in my freezer and pantry!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

D.I.Y. Friday - "Kiddie Kitchen Korner"

Ok so this posted early so happy Hump Day!

I love my lil monster and I love LeapFrog's refrigerator toys. However what I don't love is the obstacle that they create when I'm in the kitchen trying to cook. The Fridge Farm keeps my son busy and away from his leg warmer tendency but I'm the type of cook who gets things in and out of the fridge on an "as need" basis. So having my leg warmer sitting in front of the fridge poses a hazard. 1) I have to spend 5 minutes to manuver the farm and all its animals to one side of the fridge (we have a double door fridge) or 2) I scoot the leg warmer out of the way for a minute to open the door and he sees all the goodies, tries climbing in or grabs anything he can reach and refuses to move so that I can close the door. Either way something had to change. Idea! Magnetic Chalkboard.

I've seen sheet metal at a reasonable price for squares at the hardware store and I know that they have great new chalkboard paint as well. Thus my plan was hatched.

I started out by deciding where this chalkboard needed to go, I chose the end of our cabinets (obviously a lower cabinet as my son isn't 8 ft tall). This end happened to be opposite the stove/oven and far away from the fridge. There is plenty of room for him to stand in front of this cabinet and I can still get into any cabinet I want. After measuring the space where the chalkboard would go I headed up to Lowe's and purchased 2 sheets of 18x26 sheet metal, metal primer and chalkboard paint.

Now when painting metal surfaces it's very important to use a primer. I chose a simple gray spray paint primer. I laid the sheets out and lightly coated one side with the primer. Following the directions I let it dry for about 2 hours before applying the 1st coat of chalkboard paint.

I let the 1st coat of chalkboard paint dry for a day, because I had to work, before applying the 2nd coat. After the 2nd coat dried I grabbed my adhesive squares and went to work. Instead of attempting to cut the sheet metal (which you should only do if you have the right equipment) I overlapped my sheets to fit snuggly in the space. After the sheets were secure, I rubbed chalk on them and wiped it off. This sets the paint or something like that, hey I just did what the box told me to do.

I decided I need to add a piece of molding on the bottom to create a finished look, and catch any chalk dust so I'm working on getting that painted and attached. But for now I have a great place for my lil monster to play and stay safe and clear in the kitchen.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Calling out the Cabbage

So while rummaging through the fridge this weekend I realized, lo and behold I had a head of cabbage that I had forgotten about. It came courtesy of the Angel Food Ministries and I neglected to add it in my meal plan. It was about a week old and looked like it needed to be cooked quickly. But I've never bought, let alone cooked anything with a cabbage. I was really at a loss. So after scouring the internet I found a unique concoction called Cabbage Rolls. An interesting take on meatloaf was my first thought. This would be easy and I had all the ingredients in my freezer/pantry already. At first I was a little concerned about how to core the head but I found a great youtube video that showed how to make the rolls from start to finish.

After checking out the video I found my old buddy Emeril on and followed his recipe.

I was so surprised by how yummy these rolls were, even my picky toddler ate them up. Cabbage and all! This is a must for a hearty, pretty cheap and filling dish. I think next time I might add some celery and carrots to the meat mixture to sneak in even more veggies!

Of course so this means I've done a little rearranging of the menus but that's never set in stone and we'll make it up next month.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Going Organic

I feel comfortable to say that 2008 was the year of "Going Green", it became trendy and popular. Everywhere you turned everyone was talking about conservation and companies jumped on the band wagon. In addition to the "Going Green" trend, the market was flooded with the “organic” label. And with the fancy title of organic fruits and veggies doubled in price. I’m sure you’ve all read about the benefits and touts of how great organically grown items from fruit to open range meat so I will spare you. However since the economy is tumbling down most can’t afford to splurge on these new luxury items, and in turn many local farmers are having hardships. There is a solution and behold the CSA also known as “Community Supported Agriculture”. CSA’s are a great advantage to the community and yourself. For cheaper than you’d pay at the supermarket, you can get a bushel full of fresh, organic produce delivered or available for convenient pickup. And you’re helping out another family farm! What better satisfaction is there knowing that you’re helping to sustain a family’s livelihood.

Now I understand that sometimes the subscriptions/membership can seem steep, however I have found that if you are willing to put a little “sweat equity” into the farm they are more than willing to drop the price or work out a labor for food system. After all, these families would have to pay others to help harvest their crops otherwise.This barter system is what I have set up for my family this year, and I’m so excited. I come from a family of farmers/ranchers and am eager to get back out in the country and do a little work. The CSA that I am working with will be a one-stop shop will produce, fresh honey, open range poultry, pigs and cattle (Top Texas beef). So not only will we get these great fruits of our labor, my lil monster will have the fun experience of farm life once a week. I’m waiting for the picture perfect photo of him chasing those chickens, hehe.In addition to the CSA that I’m working with, I have found a Fruit Farm. And like the CSA Farm, this fruit farm needs helpers. So I will be working with them to help care for the peach trees and come berry season my lil monster can come get his fill on fresh peaches and berries of all kinds.

Now for the savings portion. By working together with these CSA’s I imagine that I will be saving at least $1000 in produce expenses alone. I’m looking forward to filling my pantry with preserves, jams and pickled items and saving on these items as well. Of course one could argue that time is money and though I might be saving money in my pocketbook, my hourly worth is much more than the benefits of produce. I am looking at it another way, this time will be quality time spent in a somewhat charitable contribution to my family and my community. And best of all it is time that we will be working together. And a family that does things together, stays together.

To find you own local CSA to get involved with or just become a member of one check out these links.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More on Angel Food Ministries

Since I've started using Angel Food boxes I thought I'd share a few other websites that have great recipes and ideas of how to make the boxes last and what meals they make out of them.

Jen has a great website with printable menu's and grocery lists as well.

The Hillbilly Housewife is an amazing site that not only lists great money saving recipes, she's got tips for cleaners and learning how to keep a cost-cutting home.

Of course like everything you can pay to have menus at your disposal found here at Menu Planning Central.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday, ok so Friday but whatever

It's that time again - Menu Plan Monday!

where you turn people are tightening their belts, and like the rest we are too. I posted earlier about my attempts to get a better handle on our finances and what I've been doing to help. While some things are a fixed cost like rent and our car payments, others can easily be changed. One of the easiest ways to cut costs is in the food bill. Granted we hadn't been eating out alot there are still ways to cut back even for us.

We're lucky that the hubby hunts and fishes for practically nothing and then can process and fillet the fruits of his labor so that we have a freezer full of meat. This enables us to cut our grocery bill in half I'd estimate. For any meal that uses hamburger, roast, stew or even steaks we can use venison and save the raising cost of beef. The only thing that I buy true hamburger meat for is meatloaf or hamburgers. So this leaves just pork and chicken for us to purchase out of pocket. Even so those pockets are running emptier lately and I needed to find a way to cut our costs even more.

The answer is AngelFood Ministries. I stumbled upon this by accident really and I believe this will really help our family cut costs. I compared prices and decided that purchasing 1 or 2 boxes (designed for 1 week's use) could help get us through a month of groceries. Granted I'll still have to make a trip or two to the grocery store but I believe we could come in under $150.00 for a month's worth of meals.

For the month of January I purchased the Regular box and the January Special #5. Items used from the box can be found in blue and like before you'll find the supplemental grocery list at the end.

Saturday, January 24th

Breakfast: Pancakes
Lunch: Tomato Soup and Grilled Tomato, Smoked Turkey and Muenster Cheese Sandwiches
Dinner: Steakhouse Night - Grilled Ribeye Steaks, Loaded Baked Potatoes, and Steamed Broccoli

Sunday, January 25th
Breakfast: Everything but the kitchen sink Omelets (eggs) and Toast
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Cheese Filled Manicotti with Homemade Marinara Sauce, Cesar Salad and Breadsticks

Monday, January 26th
Dinner: Pinto Beans, Honey Cornbread Muffins and Collard Greens

Tuesday, January 27th
Dinner: Chicken Fajitas with Bell Peppers and Spanish Rice

Wednesday, January 28th
Dinner: Slow Cooker Venison Stew and cheddar biscuits

Thursday, January 29th
Dinner: LaBamba Casserole (ground turkey)

Friday, January 30th
Dinner: Pork Ribs (recipe tbd), Scalloped Poatoes and green beans

Saturday, January 31st
Breakfast: Pigs'N Blankets, Blueberry Muffins and Oranges
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Lady & Sons Lasagna, salad and garlic bread

Sunday, February 1st
Breakfast: French Toast, Bacon and Scrambled Eggs
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Super Bowl Sunday dinner at my parents' house

Monday, February 2nd
Dinner: Pastor Ryan's Mexican Lasagna and a southwest salad

Tuesday, February 3rd
Dinner: Grilled Chicken, Chicken Flavored Rice and Brussel Sprouts

Wednesday, February 4th
Dinner: Fend For Yourself, Mommy's tired

Thursday, February 5th
Dinner: Fried Chicken with Red Beans & Rice

Friday, February 6th
Dinner: Take 'n Bake Pizza and salad

Saturday, February 7th
Dinner: Hamburgers and Potato Salad

Sunday, February 8th
Dinner: Fried Fish, Coleslaw and French Fries

Monday, February 9th
Dinner: Maple Glazed Salmon, Baked Sweet Potato and Broccoli

Tuesday, February 10th
Dinner: Venison Stroganoff

Wednesday, February 11th
Dinner: Chicken Pot Pie (carrots, peas and potatoes) and Spinach Salad (tangerines if left over)

Thursday, February 12th
Dinner: Spaghetti and breadsticks

Friday, February 13th
Dinner: Chicken Enchiladas and black beans

Saturday, February 14th
Breakfast: Waffles and fruit
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Out to Eat for Valentine's Day!

Here's this month's supplemental grocery list, and as always there may be items that I have in my pantry that I didn't include in the list so double check the recipes so that you don't miss an ingredient.

Grocery List

And as always be sure to check out the rest of the group's menus at the Organized Junkie.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Beef and Beer Chili

What a great long weekend! I wish everyone could have had Monday off, its so great to have MLK Day off because it really helps to break up the dull after Christmas. Anyways the weather was a bit chilly outside so we decided to stay home and what's better to curl up with on a cold day than a bowl full of chili? This is a new recipe that I tried and I think it turned out really great. Its a different spin on chili, it's not a red chili but it's not a white chili either. It's more of a broth chili, is that even a type? Anyways it was great and I think it would taste great finished with cilantro and monterry jack cheese but I didn't have either of those and it wasn't called for in the ingredients though. But trust me add these to your bowl!

Picture and recipe from

Beef and Beer Chili

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped red onion (about 1 medium)
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper (about 1 small) *I didn't have one so I omitted this
  • 8 ounces extralean ground beef *substituted venison
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 (19-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained *I used pinto instead
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (14-ounce) can low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle beer (such as Budweiser)
  • 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook 5 minutes or until beef is browned, stirring to crumble. Stir in chili powder, cumin, sugar, and salt; cook 1 minute. Add oregano and next 4 ingredients (through beer) to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in cornmeal; cook 5 minutes. Stir in juice.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Very Sneaky Veggies

I know we all struggle to eat our veggies, let alone the mountain of a task in getting a picky toddler to as well. With such a fast paced life I have found that we end up feeding Chase quick fix foods, and what's a quicker fix than chicken nuggets or raviolis? But I hate feeding him full of fatty foods and God knows what else is in those things. And of course who would want to eat those weird looking green things when you've got yummy chicken nuggets in front of you. I know that all mom's have a fun time trying to get our kids to eat fruits and veggies so I have collected a few of my no-fail tricks.

Jessica is an artist when it come to disguising food, her book Deceptively Delicious has great advice and recipes on how to sneak veggies into common foods. And likewise Missy, The Sneaky Chef uses purees to hide those important ingredients.

While making your own purees is a great idea, and maybe I'll start doing that this year. But I honestly just found it much easier to buy jars of baby food. But the recipes still work with the jarred stuff.

So one of my favorite recipes is from Jessica and it's making your own chicken nuggets! This is an ingenious idea and works wonders. Instead of using chicken chunks like her recipes called for, I blended my all of my ingredients together and made it the consistency of a crabcake or salmon patty. A quick dip in the skillet and they're ready to eat. OR you can make bunches (with different veggies) and freeze them. Then you've got your own go-to chicken nuggets. I did find however that they work best if you put them in the oven for reheating.

Pancakes with power are a great way to start the morning off right. Jessica also has a sneaky recipe for pancakes, or waffles work too, that includes blending sweet potato puree into the mix. This makes the pancakes a fun orange color, perfect for Halloween, and they taste great with cinnamon and nutmeg. Or is you have little girls, try using beet or plum puree for pink and purple pancakes. What better idea for a girls slumber party.

Of course I've already told you guys about my Pea-za. Where I sneak pea puree into spaghetti sauce for mini pizza. This is a fun way to cook with your kids too, just make sure they don't see the pea puree.

And what kid could resist a sloppy joe? Cooking Light has a yummy sloppy joe recipe that includes green bell peppers and corn. I just make sure to chop the peppers up really well, and even though you can see the corn, my picky toddler loves it.

Cauliflower is the miracle veggie. I say this because you can puree it, and then sneak it into almost any dish. It quickly takes on the flavor of anything it is used with. So stick it in your mashed potatoes or mac'n cheese.

I recently got an email from about some more easy ways to get kids to eat their veggies and I pulled out my favorites for you...

Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Puree a 12-ounce jar of roasted red sweet peppers packed in water (drain it first) with a garlic clove. Heat puree, 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth, and 3 tablespoons tomato paste on medium until warm, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon fresh basil, a smidge of honey, salt, and pepper.

Crinkly Carrot Fries
Slice 1 pound of carrots into 1/2-inch-wide sticks using a crinkle cutter. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 15 to 20 minutes, or until soft, on a parchment paper-lined pan.
Tip: Great for toddlers 12 months and up.

Mini Vegetable Cakes
Combine half an 8-1/2-ounce package corn-muffin mix with 1 egg white and 3 tablespoons water. Stir in 3/4 cup shredded zucchini and 1/2 cup chopped canned beets. Drop batter by the tablespoon into 2 tablespoons hot canola oil. Cook 2 minutes; turn and cook 1 to 2 minutes more, until browned.

Sweet Potato-Parsnip Mash

Peel and cut 12 ounces of sweet potato and 2 parsnips into 1-1/2-inch pieces. Boil in lightly salted water for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and return to pot with 1/3 cup apple cider, salt, and pepper. Mash until nearly smooth.

Pumpkin-Peanut Butter Soup

Cook 1/2 cup chopped onion in 1 tablespoon hot olive oil on medium for 4 minutes, or until tender. Stir in a 15-ounce can pumpkin puree, 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, 1 cup water, 1/4 cup peanut butter, 1/4 teaspoon curry powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; heat through. Swirl plain yogurt on top of each bowl.

Breaded Asparagus
Dip 8 ounces trimmed asparagus spears first in all-purpose flour, then in beaten egg, and then in panko bread crumbs. Drizzle asparagus with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake in a single layer at 450 degrees F. for 10 minutes, or until golden. Serve with honey-mustard dip. (I think this would work with green beans too!)

Cheesy Spaghetti Squash

Place half of a 2-1/2-pound de-seeded spaghetti squash, cut side down, in a baking dish with 2 tablespoons water; cover with wax paper. Microwave on high for 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender. Let cool slightly, then scrape strands from squash. Toss with 1 cup pasta sauce and 3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese.

Who knew there were so many ways to eat veggies? I hope these ideas help you as much as they have helped me fix my finiky eater.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Baby steps to resolutions

New Years Resolution number one is to cut costs and handle our accounts better. Its always a tough task when, honestly there's more money going out than coming in. And of course we've only ourselves to blame, I've never been great about controlling my spending. I've had my ups and downs, learned my lesson in college, paid my debts off after college and was doing great. Met my hubby and out came the downward spiral again. And to hubby's benefit, I don't think he was ever taught financial responsibility either. So entering a relationship with a spender enabled my "spender" habits and now here we both stand. And here are the things that I have done to work towards our 1st goal.

  1. I have made sure that I am contributing the percentage amount to my 401k to ensure that my company is matching. This has never been an issue, so instead I just increased it to match half of what my salary increase was. This was it'll be like I got a smaller raise than in actuality and I'll never miss the "extra" money I would have gotten each paycheck. I increased the hubby's contribution to ensure he recieved his company match, because that's free money and we'll need it in the future!
  2. I have gone back to the days before online banking and debit cards. I have a duplicate checkbook and use my register! For items that I pay online at their website, I still assign a check to and log it in my register. For gas and other expenses I use cash. I've chosen a bank that only has 3 locations in proximity and of which take 30 minutes of my time to get cash from. This has really helped in curbing my spending, I know I've only got so much cash and that I should save it should an emergency arise.
  3. I closed my Napster account. Yes I love music and it's what helps me get through the work day but alas I could just listen to the radio. And that $15 a month could be used for gas or my ever increasing toll fees.
  4. I drive close to 100 miles a day for work. Yup it sucks but that's life, and my job pays me good money. Much more money than could be found closer to home. And don't get me started on the benefits, I've looked around, been offered other jobs but when it came down to it I stayed because of the benefits. But I digress, so I spend enormous amounts of money in gas and because of where I live I have to drive a toll road. Driving this toll road daily equates to a weekly average of $40 spent in tolls. That's a ton of money just to use a road! I have determined that if I skip 2 toll booths and drive the side road for part of my to and from work each day I could save about $3 to $4 a day. What a savings! Now I just have to tell my brain that that money is really worth the extra 20 minutes in the car. :)
  5. Cable isn't all that it's cracked up to be, really. I mean what channels do you usually end up watching most of the time anyways? If you're like me its the standard Fox, ABC, NBC and PBS so why shell out the extra money for shows you occasionally watch but really won't miss. Now the hubby is obsessed with football so each fall we end up having to upgrade to at least have ESPN but I'm working on him for this one. But for now we're back down to basic cable.

Financially Fit

Just a quick heads up for those looking to get financially fit this year. Oprah has once again struck a deal with the non nonsense money adviser Suze Orman and Suze's latest book is available online until January 15th. So hurry up and download your copy!

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Year and New Resolutions

All I can say is I am thankful that 2008 is done and over with. Yes there were plenty of great times but more often than not it was a rough year and I'm hopeful that 2009 will like Obama's campaign (though I am a republican) will be the year of change! So here are my new years resolutions, better late than never....
  1. Get a better handle on our financial situation. Keep our accounts in the black; make sure that we're contributing to our 401ks even though it would be nice to have that $$ in our paychecks; if at all possible start actually saving $$; cut our expenses as much as possible; cut the debit cards and stop impulse spending.
  2. Prepare for the future. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the 1st resolution but meaning we need to get on top of our wills, setting a trust up and making sure the hubby gets his life insurance policy increased.
  3. Take charge of our health. The hubby is a diabetic and has not been doing too well with it lately, blood sugar crazy high, depending on the insulin and well he's a stick figure as a result. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, I am now heavier than I've ever been, excluding when I was pregnant. I was lazy after my pregnancy and ate whatever I wanted because it all melted off while I was breastfeeding. But 8 months after the nursing has ended and I'm a whale still eating like I was while nursing. I'm dedicated to eating better and starting to use my gym membership that I purchased!
  4. Have a happy and healthy relationship. I'll admit the hubby and I fight more often than not, and I strongly believe alot of it stems from stress. Stress about all of the above issues has taken its toll and we need to get back to enjoying each other and communicating. Even if we don't accomplish all of the above goals, if we just started communicating better I think it would help, so we're going to work on that.
So that's it, just 4 little resolutions right? Not some long drawn out list but I know these will be tough to conquer as they are deeply ingrained and inbeded in our everyday thinking. But I am determined and taking inspiration from Oprah, this is the year!