Sunday, December 27, 2009

Menu Monday!

Sunday~ Leftovers: burgers, dogs, baked beans, turkey sandwiches... whatever else suits our fancy
Monday~ FFYS... Mom's going to dinner & a movie with the girls!
Tuesday~ Breakfast for Dinner
Wednesday~ Chili mac
Thursday~ New Year's Eve... TBA
Friday~ Happy New Year! Lasagna, tossed salad, french bread (We did this last year, and it was a nice change)
Saturday~ BBQ pork sandwiches

I have a question about New Years celebrations: how do you ring in the New Year?
Our evening is always very low-key, and we toast with sparkling cider, but it's not a fancy going-out kind of night for us... and honestly, I always feel a little bad that I don't 'do it up' better because Christmas is such a big deal at our house. I'm on the lookout for new traditions, so if you've got some to share, I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Another Monday... another menu

Only this isn't just ANY Monday!
This is the Monday of the week of Christmas... and we are super excited.
BOTH of our military sons will be home for the holiday, for the first time in two years.
The very best present I could request.

So our menu this week is a little special too.

Sunday~ this yummy pasta tossed with tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, feta cheese (and shrimp for hubby), homemade bread
Monday~ tacos & my layered bean dip
Tuesday~ simply breakfast for dinner
Wednesday~ (the fun begins...) Out to dinner with extended family, then back to their house for dessert and presents
Thursday~ OUR BOYS ARRIVE!!!! We are taking them out to the Melting Pot - something we've wanted to do for a while, and decided Christmas Eve would be a great time to do it.
Friday~ Christmas dinner: turkey, beef tenderloin, stuffing, mashed potatoes, fried okra, swiss beans, homemade rolls, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and whatever else the boys request.
Saturday~ Cookout with the fam: hamburgers, hotdogs, sausages, baked beans, chips, deviled eggs, and cake

About last week...
the Chinese Orange Chicken was yummmm. I took a shortcut and just used chicken nuggets that I had in the freezer, and doctored it up with the sauce from the recipe. Very good, and better than the big frozen bags you can buy at the grocery store.
I never made the roast or lasagna (trying to use up leftovers in the fridge), but overall, a very good week.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday Menu...

Oh my goodness... I haven't posted in over a month and so many things have happened.
My grandfather passed away... and we are all still profoundly feeling the loss.
We celebrated Thanksgiving - without him - but we made it through.
We learned that our oldest son would be home in time for Christmas.
We learned that BOTH our military boys would be home for Christmas.
I took 60+ middle schoolers on a trip to Disney.
And school is out on Friday.
So I figured this would be a good week to get my hiney back on the wagon.

Monday~ Chicken w/ mushroom gravy (crockpot), egg noodles, Caesar salad, homemade bread
Tuesday~ Pasta fagioli
Wednesday~ Roast in the crockpot, mashed potatoes, broccoli
Thursday~ Lasagna from the freezer
Friday~ WHEW! Breakfast for dinner. True comfort.
Saturday~ Chinese Orange Chicken, rice, broccoli, mandarin oranges

See more menus at Laura's!

Monday, November 2, 2009

November Menu

Well here we are.
This week's menu is sort of bare bones - life is busy and I've got a VERY rough plan.

Sunday~ Burgers & dogs on the grill, with chips & dip. Fam over to celebrate ds#3's 9th b-day.
Monday~ Spaghetti (never got to it last week).
Tuesday~ Some kind of chicken. Any inspirations to share?
Wednesday~ Hubby has class, so ds & I do something simple.
Thursday~ Late rehearsal for me, which means out for ds & dh.
Friday~ Roast in the crock pot. A homey meal for the end of the week.
Saturday~ WHO KNOWS by then. :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Menu...

WOW.... when I looked at the date of my last post, I was slightly embarrassed... it was almost a month ago! Needless to say, life has been quite eventful, but I am going to try to get myself back on the bandwagon.

This week:
Sun~ Chicken in mushroom gravy (crock pot), rice, green beans, biscuits
Mon~ Must-goes: chili, beef tenderloin, tomato soup, and Sunday's food
Tues~ Ds#3's birthday. We are surprising him with a trip to a special restaurant.
Wed~ Hubby has class, so ds & I will fend for ourselves
Thurs~ I have a late rehearsal, so it'll probably be a pizza night.
Fri~ Spaghetti & meatballs (crockpot again. Have I mentioned how much I love my crockpot??)
Sat~ probably dinner at our local Fair.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Monday, Monday.... menu, etc.

After looking over last week's planned menu, let me just tell you that I feel like a big fat LIAR.
I did not cook anything after Tuesday. On Wednesday, my sweet grandparents provided us with an enormous dinner of a gorgeous tossed salad, rolls, burgundy beef tips and gravy over egg noodles, and bread pudding for dessert. On Thursday, we had Open House at our school, and our PTA provided dinner for the teachers. And on Friday, we had leftovers from Wednesday. Saturday, we actually did grill, but I didn't have hamburgers, so we grilled sausage, hotdogs, chicken breasts, and portobella mushrooms instead.

So...
it has been such a blessing to have so many loved ones provide my family with meals. And it was so appropriate for me personally that Laura posted this week dealing with this very thing: Food Tidings. Check it out - very useful tool.

On to the PLAN for this week...
Sunday~ Spaghetti (sauce in the crockpot), parmesan toasts
Monday~ Orange chicken, rice, broccoli (using chicken nuggets, but borrowing the sauce from Sunny Anderson) this is a carryover from last week
Tuesday~ Breakfast for dinner (one of our faves)
Wednesday~ Hubby has class, so ds#3 and I will figure it out when we get there...
Thursday~ Tacos and Macho Nachos!
Friday~ Pampered Chef party for me; hubby & ds#3 will fend for themselves
Saturday~ Crop all day, so I'll probably throw some chili in the crock for an easy dinner when I come home



Sunday, September 20, 2009

Post-surgery menu, week two

Well, last week, I ended up only cooking on Sunday. Every other day, dinner was delivered to us - what a blessing! I was much more tired than I could have imagined after Monday's first day back to work, and a dear woman in our lives called unexpectedly to tell me she was bringing dinner. I am a blessed woman.

On to this week...
Sunday~ Chicken with mushroom gravy (cooked the crockpot), over egg noodles. This was planned for Saturday, but did not get to it, so it moved to this week.
Monday~ dinner from Apple Market, courtesy of my grandparents
Tuesday~ Pasta fagioli (crockpot- I add ground beef too)
Wednesday~ Orange chicken, rice, broccoli (using chicken nuggets, but borrowing the sauce from Sunny Anderson)
Thursday~ Open House at school. Either leftovers or drive-thru.
Friday~ Hamburgers on the grill, tossed salad, chips
Saturday~ WHEW! If everything holds together, it may be a pizza night!

Share in the menu madness at Menu Plan Monday!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Menus, recipe, and an update...

Life, as of late, has been a little crazy.
I had surgery last weekend, and I expected to bounce back and be just fine by Tuesday, and that did not happen.
Which is extremely frustrating, because my life is very busy, and there are simply some things that must be done which no one else can do.
My family, my students, and my friends have been great... but I am beyond ready to get back to normal!!
That said, I cooked today for the first time in over a week - I really cooked. And I like cooking, so it was a good day. Here is one of the recipes I made - and it is a keeper.

5 Minute Individual Potato Gratins

Ingredients

  • Vegetable spray
  • 2 large russet potatoes, roughly peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese (I used white cheddar)
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped (I omitted, because ds#3 doesn't like)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream (I used milk instead)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Spray 8 muffin tins with vegetable spray. Layer potato slices, cheese, and onions into each muffin cup. Season with salt and pepper and top each gratin with 1 or 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. Cover with foil and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, removing the foil halfway through cooking time. Invert gratins onto plate and serve.

Now... the menus!
Last week's menu was at the kindness of family & friends:
Sunday~ A giant pan of a taco bake with rice, beans, corn, ground beef, and topped with cheddar cheese. Cornbread and brownies to go with!
Monday~ Leftovers
Tuesday~ Pizza
Wednesday~ Ham, potatoes au gratin, peach cobbler
Thursday~ Leftovers
Friday~ Stouffer's Lasagna, french bread
Saturday~ (I cooked!) Marinated flank steak and sausage on the grill, 5 minute individual potato gratins, Caesar salad, bread

And this week:
I'll be going back to work, so the plan is to have something in the crock pot ready so I can come home and rest a little bit before having to fool with dinner. Still a little help from family.
Sunday~ Roast with gravy in the crockpot, mashed potatoes, green beans, biscuits
Monday~ Open faced sandwiches with leftovers
Tuesday~ Grandparents bring dinner: KFC (ds#3's request)
Wednesday~ Just ds#3 & me (hubby has class) so probably leftovers
Thursday~ Out to eat using hubby's gift card to Chili's
Friday~ Chicken in the crockpot with mushroom gravy, egg noodles, broccoli
Saturday~ Spaghetti

Check out more menus at Menu Plan Monday.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

MPM- two for the price of one!

So I missed posting last week - hubby & I both had our first day with students on Monday, and ds#3 had 3rd grade to get ready for, so posting on the blog got left in the dust. This week, I'm posting our menu from last week (I did make the plan, just didn't post it), and the plan for this week!

Last week:
Sun~ ate at my parents' house - beef & chicken on the grill, Mom's famous scalloped potatoes, peas & butterbeans, and biscuits.
Mon~ Lasagna, tossed salad, bread
Tues~ Chicken nuggets, homemade mac'n'cheese, broccoli (ds#3's request)
Wed~ Fend For Yourself (FFYS). Hubby had class.
Thurs~ Roast turkey breast, homemade gravy, stuffing, green beans
Fri~ OUT to eat, to celebrate our survival of the first week of school!
Sat~ OUT with my fam to celebrate my upcoming birthday.

This week:
Sunday~ Hubby will grill burgers, sausage, & beef tenderloin. We will EAT the burgers today, with baked beans & chips.
Monday~ PAYDAY!!! Tenderloin (grilled on Sunday), twice baked potatoes, broccoli
Tuesday~ Hubby has an eye appt & I have a meeting at school. Some fast food fix somewhere.
Wednesday~ Hubby has class. Leftover turkey & gravy with rice for ds#3 & me.
Thursday~ My b-day... either breakfast at home or out to eat.
Friday~ Outpatient surgery for me. I probably won't be eating... my mom will take care of ds#3.
Saturday~ whatever my sweet family brings over. I'll be propped up recuperating.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday




I'm going to share a recipe today that I have not made, but I have eaten, and it's divine!!!

Tomato Pie
1 deep dish pie crust (pre-baked)
3-4 ripe tomatoes (peeled & sliced)
1 1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese
4 oz feta cheese
1/2 c. mayo
Salt
Pepper
Basil and oregano (I use fresh basil and oregano if possible- 4 or 5 leaves)
Green onions (1 bunch chopped)
Italian bread crumbs
1. Layer sliced tomatoes in crust.
2. Sprinkle with spices and onions.
3. Do another layer of tomatoes, spices and onions.
4. Mix cheese and mayo and spread over tomatoes.
5. Cover and bake (350) for 35 min.
6. Uncover, sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake another 15-20 min.
7. Cool and serve
Very good left over the next day.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

August Menu Plan - week 3

We go back to the school routine this week. Hubby & I are back at work, although students won't arrive until next week.

Can I just tell you that we totally loved the Potato Torte from Melissa d'Arabian? I made another, and subbed ham for bacon, and added a little swiss cheese. YUM. Perfect with a salad or a bowl of soup.

So for this week:
Sunday~ lunch @ church
Monday~ Crock pot roast, mashed potatoes, cucumber salad
Tuesday~ Leftover ham and potato salad from Sunday, field peas cooked with the ham bone (in the crock pot. LOVE IT!)
Wednesday~ French dip sandwiches using leftover roast
Thursday~ Penne with chicken & pesto
Friday~ Breakfast: French toast, bacon, fruit
Saturday~ Turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and Swiss beans (we'll use the leftover turkey in sandwiches for back-to-school lunches. Yum!)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Frugal Friday - CSA question




For those who do...
I have some questions for you about your CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).

  • Were your family members huge veggie lovers before you became a part of a CSA?
  • How difficult has it been to incorporate all the items into your menu?
  • For those purchasing meats, how have you had to cook differently? (Does the meat require different treatment than what you would get at the grocery store?)
We've found a local farm and I'm very excited about it, but I want to know fully what we're getting ourselves into. There are a couple of ways to look at this venture:
  • A small, local farm will not give WalMart-type discounts. They just don't operate the same.
  • BUT~ I am thrilled ~ and very much believe in supporting local industry as much as possible. So in that regard, I see this as a frugal move.
We've had a summer garden for years, and we grow what we like. But with a CSA, there is a wider variety. On one hand, I'm delighted to give my family a reason to eat different veggies than our norm. On the other hand, I don't want anything to go to waste so I know I'm going to need some new repertoire to be successful!

Thanks in advance for all the tips. I can't wait to hear them! Share more at Frugal Fridays!

Ultimate Recipe Swap - speedy quick!

When my youngest discovered the wonder of the world of Junie B. Jones, one of our favorite phrases became "speedy quick"! Because, well, you know, when kids are hungry, things need to happen that way.

When the boys are seriously hungry, quesadillas are my go-to. They are so easy to customize, and what's not to like about a toasted tortilla with cheesy goodness inside??? Our fave kid version is simply cheddar with sour cream and salsa for dipping, but here's a dolled-up grown-up version too!

Black and Blue Quesadillas

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 4 (8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced low-sodium deli roast beef (such as Boar's Head)
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic glaze (such as Gia Russa - if you want to get fancy!)

Preparation

1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion; sauté 3 to 4 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Remove from heat.

2. Top half of each tortilla evenly with beef, onion, and cheese. Fold tortillas in half.

3. Return pan to heat. Coat pan and both sides of quesadillas evenly with cooking spray. Place 2 quesadillas in pan; cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Repeat procedure with remaining quesadillas. Cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges; drizzle with 1 teaspoon glaze. Courtesy of Cooking Light.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday - The Next Food Network Star!

So around here, we love Food Network. Sometimes it annoys me, but usually it inspires me to try a few new things, or take a twist on something familiar (translation: tired).
I love watching The Next Food Network Star. The competitions are interesting to me, and I like to watch all the personalities come out. This year, from the beginning I was rooting for Melissa d'Arabian, and last week, SHE WON!!! She's a mom, not a chef. And although chefs are great (I love Iron Chef America), I can relate to another mom who's just trying to get it all done. So the recipe this week comes from Melissa!

5-Minute Individual Potato Gratins

Ingredients

  • Vegetable spray
  • 2 large russet potatoes, roughly peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Spray 8 muffin tins with vegetable spray. Layer potato slices, cheese, and onions into each muffin cup. Season with salt and pepper and top each gratin with 1 or 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. Cover with foil and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, removing the foil halfway through cooking time. Invert gratins onto plate and serve.

Share your temptations at Lisa's!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - August, week 2

This is our last official vacation week. We are planning to savor every day, and have some fun time before we go back to the daily routine of school and work.
Our menu:
Sunday~
Potato Torte (new recipe - from the newest Food Network star, Melissa d'Arabian!!! LOVE her... looking forward to more of her shows. I did not make the crust from scratch - that will happen another day.) Very good - hubby plans to pair it with a fried egg for breakfast!
Monday~ Pasta fagioli in the crock pot (I add ground beef to mine). Busy day with doctor's appointments for everyone.
Tuesday~ Morph the grilled chicken from Saturday into Barbeque Chicken, rice, cornbread and peas.
Wednesday~ Soft tacos and quesadillas
Thursday~ Hubby is going out with the Boss, so son #3 & I will fend for ourselves with leftovers from the fridge.
Friday~ Pasta toss with shrimp or chicken (a little like this one)
Saturday~ Homemade pizza or burgers on the grill. Depends if hubby feels like grilling!

I also plan to try these beauties sometime this week...they look great!
Share your menu and find inspiration at Laura's!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

WFMW - back to school edition

It's that time of year...
that restless, bittersweet time...
it's BACK TO SCHOOL TIME!!!!

Hubby & I are both teachers, so we head back to school as well. Our vacation ends when July ends - unofficially. Officially, we don't have to be at work just yet, but if you want to get all the things done that need to get done, ya gotta go early.

So here are my tips.
I plan the dinner menu for the whole month. Yes, I do. It keeps the days from getting too crazy. I plug in nights when I know we'll need to go out, and nights when it needs to come from the crockpot. And when I come home exhausted at the end of the day, I don't have to think hard about dinner. Because inspiration never hits me then.

I also pack lunches the night before. I've tried throwing them together in the morning, but I do my best to put them in the fridge, nicely packed, the night before we need them. That said, hubby never does, so I keep snack-sized containers around for his gotta-fix-my-lunch-and-get-to-work mornings. Here are some great tips for getting lunches together. And the Meal Makeover Moms have some great ideas for making lunches healthier - for kids AND grownups!

We lay out son #3's clothes the night before. This avoids the "Mom, is this item clean?" issue. It also keeps him from leaving the house looking like a homeless child.

Lastly, I never leave dishes in the sink when I go to bed. This may seem like an OCD issue, but it makes me feel like I'm getting a fresh start when I come into the kitchen and it's relatively clean. (Used, but clean.) And a fresh start is the best way to start the day.

Glean from the wisdom of everyone at
Works For Me Wednesday,
and share what works for you!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday - a recipe formula

I have often said how much I love being able to go my garden and pick my dinner. We have cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, along with basil, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and chives. So for today's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, I'm going to share a method I use often to throw together a quick dinner (or even lunch!).


Step 1~ Boil enough pasta to serve the ones eating that meal (this is not one you want extras to reheat. It's best fresh.) I like to use Ronzoni's Smart Taste for a little extra nutrition! (They have a newsletter you can sign up for, if you like, and get a coupon or two.) Then drain your pasta.
Step 2~ Pick whatever veggies you like - I use tomatoes & peppers from the garden, and usually toss in some mushrooms. Saute them in a skillet with just a little olive oil. Add garlic and onion, if you like.
Step 3~ When veggies are tender, toss your pasta back into the skillet. Now add your favorite herbs - I add chopped basil from my garden here. The smell is fantastic!! Then add a sprinkling of your favorite cheese. Parmesan is good, and feta is excellent as well. If you like a little heat, add a dash of red pepper flake. Toss it all together, and serve!

My family loves this meal, and you can customize it with the foods your family likes. Add a little chicken, shrimp, or sausage if you need some meat. It comes together so fast!

And may I just take a moment to say - I am so glad that Melissa d'Arabian won The Next Food Network Star!!! Did you watch her demo?? I loved her, and she has a million tips for getting great food on the table. (I'm done now.)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

It's August... and a menu

This month signals the end of summer for us. Although the temps will continue to soar into the 90s and we will undoubtedly see afternoon rain showers, our summer is, for all intents and purposes, over. Hubby & I will be working at school this week and attending a seminar; ds#3 will go to see his buddies at his daycare. There is a sort of bittersweet restlessness that overtakes us, as we prepare for the new school year, and say farewell to the last vestiges of our summer.

That said, I went on and planned the menu for the entire month. It will be busy, and I thought I'd get that out of the way. We have everything we need (except for milk & eggs), so I don't have to go to the store for anything else, unless there's just a deal I can't pass up. In which case, I'm flexible enough to change the plan, but the KEY is having a plan to start with! So here goes.

Sunday~ Leftover steak from Saturday's menu, pasta tossed with veggies on the side. (Although Dad treated Mom & Son to Mexican for lunch, and no one is very hungry. So this might be moved to tomorrow night.)
Monday~ Breakfast for dinner: eggs, bacon, blueberries, toast
Tuesday~ Oven fried chicken from Robin Miller's Quick Fix Meals, roasted potatoes, tossed salad
Wednesday~ Roast with pearl onions & baby carrots in the crock pot, rice, steamed broccoli
Thursday~ Meet my sister for dinner @ Chick-fil-A
Friday~ Meet my parents for dinner, TBA!
Saturday~ on the GRILL: Red wine & Pepper glazed chicken adapted from Robin Miller's Quick Fix Meals, baked potatoes, cucumbers from the garden

This week's Menu Plan Monday is being hosted by The Happy Housewife.
Stop in and share this week's plan for your kitchen!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Frugal Friday - clothing swap

I'm sharing this week one of the best ideas I think I've ever heard. My church is hosting a Clothing Swap! We did it at Christmastime too, but this one is, of course, meant to be in time for back-to-school.

Over the years, with my big boys, I've consigned, I've donated to Goodwill, and so on. But I love the Clothing Swap because I can pass along a good-but-not-perfect item to someone who can use it. I can't consign an item if it has a flaw - even if it's still in good shape, and even if the flaw is very minor - they won't take it. But my boys would still wear it if it fit them! So... with the Clothing Swap, someone who might use it has access to it. And I can find gently used jeans for this boy who has legs like Stretch Armstrong.

Here's how we organized this event:
Items are collected for about two weeks, and then sorted for the swap. Times are posted for daytime 'shopping' and evening 'shopping' so that everyone has the opportunity to look for clothing. No underwear or household items are accepted. Everything that is left at the end of the swap is donated to charity. You get to clean out the closets and everyone is happy!

What's your Frugal Friday tip?
Share here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday - the wisdom of moms


One of the things I have discovered with blogging is that there is a wealth of information available when you network with other moms. I have learned amazing coupon skills and gained knowledge about budgeting. I have found ways to earn money and points that I would never have known about otherwise. Thanks, Moms!
This week, I'd like to call upon some of that wisdom. I need to know about experiences any of you may have had with thyroid issues. I'm facing some things right now and will be making a decision about surgery, and I want to hear your experiences. I've heard it said that if you have to have something go wrong in your body, the thyroid is the easiest to fix. However, when it's in YOUR body, it's hardly ever a minor thing!! Please share, and help me make an informed decision. Tell me all about your thyroid experiences - whether or not they involved surgery. I'll share more details if you'd like - let me know - but I'd really appreciate your wisdom in this.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday - a tried and true fave

This week's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday is about menu planning - a subject that is near and dear to my heart. The recipe I want to share is a family favorite - it is always well received and there are never any leftovers!

Marinated Flank Steak

**the recipe calls for 1/2 c oil for the marinade, but I always omit it and it has never failed me**
  • 1/4 c sherry
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic
  • 1 flank steak, about 1 - 1.5 lbs.

Combine all ingredients in a resealable bag. Allow to marinate overnight (at least - I have let it go for 2 days). Grill over medium coals for about 8 minutes per side, depending on desired doneness. You can also broil this in the oven for about 6 minutes per side.

I serve this with mashed potatoes, a tossed salad, and fried okra if my big boys are home. It is their favorite.

One of the things I love most about this recipe is that if I find a flank steak in the reduced meats at the grocery store, I can bring it home, toss it in this marinade, and then into the freezer. Then, when we decide to eat it, I take it from the freezer and leave it in the fridge to defrost. SOOOOOOOO easy.

Share your temptations at Lisa's!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

July's last Monday.... and the Menu.

We did a really good job of following last week's menu. Yea us! Unfortunately, ds#3 came down with a middle ear infection so his appetite was less than stellar, but he seems to be perking up. The cookout for Marine Son's friends was a success, and the leftovers will make an appearance on this week's menu.

Sunday~ Out to eat for Grandpa's birthday. Too full for anything else after that!
Monday~ Leftovers from cookout: burgers, dogs, & sausages.
Tuesday~ Sandwiches & chips
Wednesday~ Hubby & Marine Son out to eat, so I just may treat ds#3 to dinner & a movie (he's been wanting to see G Force)
Thursday~ Family Dinner at Olive Garden
Friday~ Mom is going scrapbooking, so hubby & ds#3 will fend for themselves.
Saturday~ Steaks on the grill, cucumber salad (from the garden), broccoli, twice baked potatoes (from the freezer)
What's cookin' at your house?
Share at Laura's.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Frugal Friday!

I've been on the hunt for a local source of beef and I've found one! We paid a visit to this farm last weekend and were sold immediately. It's about 20 minutes from our house, and we saw firsthand how things are run. Ds#3 went all around with the owner's son and they fed turkeys, chickens, horses, goats, and collected eggs. How much fun could a little boy have?? He loved it, and hubby picked the owner's brain for taking care of our garden. We'll be buying eggs and beef, and perhaps veggies (we've not decided about that yet - we usually grow the ones we like). So I am happy with this find because it's frugal, it supports local farmers, and it is healthy for my family. If you would like to research what's available in your area, visit Local Harvest.
Share your frugal ideas here!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday - tomatoes!

This week, I'm going to share a creation that *I* came up with all by myself!

We have tons of tomatoes from our garden; I've made tomato/spaghetti sauce and we have them on sandwiches & salads, and still there are MORE.
So I needed an appetizer-ish thing to serve my family on Sunday while we were ravenously waiting for the chicken to grill, and I came up with this little number.



Roasted Tomato Dip


  • Tomatoes (I used grape but this method would work with any kind)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Toss tomatoes with olive oil, salt & pepper (I used about 1 tablespoon oil). Spread on baking sheet lined and roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. Remove tomatoes from oven, toss with 4-5 leaves of fresh basil and 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar. (You can pulse this in a food processor for a smoother consistency.)

  • 4 ounces cream cheese (any variety will work)
  • 2 Tbsp Parmesan (the stuff in the can is fine, but fresh is good too)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning

In a bowl, combine 4 ounces cream cheese, 2 Tbsp parmesan, 1 tsp Italian seasoning. Spread in serving dish and top with tomato mixture. Serve with french bread, cucumbers, or any other veggies you like. You can serve this dip warm or room temperature.

Hope you like it - my family ate it ALL.
Share your temptations at Lisa's!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

What a week. I had a migraine all week long. All week. YUCKO. This week should be better. So here's the menu:
Sunday~ ds#3 was baptized, so we invited the family over to celebrate. Chicken, sausage & hotdogs on the grill, rice, corn on the cob, cucumber salad, biscuits & cornbread. Cake & ice cream for dessert.
Monday~ Bourbon chicken (which has no bourbon), leftover rice and leftover cucumber salad.
Tuesday~ Chili with macaroni or baked potato.
Wednesday~ Roast in the crock pot with pearl onions & mushrooms, mashed potatoes & gravy, Caesar salad, biscuits.
Thursday~ Breakfast for Dinner.
Friday~ Must-goes (I am sure there will be some. If not, BLTs.)
Saturday~ Marine son will be home for the last time before his deployment. We will have a huge party for his friends, so we'll be cooking burgers on the grill for about 40.
Share your menu or get some inspiration at Laura's!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Frugal Friday!

This is my first Frugal Friday post in a L-O-N-G time.
But there are always lots of good tips and tons of inspiration!

Before I share, let me give a little explanation.

We have 3 boys. Yes, three. Boys.

However, two of those boys are out of the house and in the military. In fact, the oldest is scheduled to deploy in about 2 weeks.

Last summer, my youngest son & I were home alone all day for the first time. Because as anyone who has children knows, when they get to a certain age, you get yours, plus all their buddies. And when they start to drive, they can all drive to your house. And hang out, and play Halo, and eat you out of house and home.

And then they grow up.

So Little Man & I had to adjust to a much quieter house, and much boredom ensued.

This year, I was more prepared, and had explored many, many free (or inexpensive) activities to pursue, and yesterday was our first foray into one of those...
THE PUBLIC LIBRARY!!!
Now I realize that many of you have sung the praises of the Public Library for a long time, but I had not formerly realized the treasure trove it could be. My son LOVES to read, and Barnes & Noble gets expensive. So we went to our nearest branch. We both got Library Cards, and off we went. They actually had a children's activity too yesterday, but ds#3 decided it was wayyyy too loud and there were too many 4 & 5 year olds to suit his tastes (he is, after all, EIGHT...) so we stuck with checking out books and movies. And he is thrilled that we can go back now and check out FIFTEEN items if we so choose. I mean, FIFTEEN! How lucky can a kid get????

So that's my Frugal Friday tip - go to your local library! Check it out! If they don't have what you want at your branch, talk to them about getting it from another library. And let your kids read, and wonder that there can be so many books about so many interesting things all in one spot. It'll make you proud to be a mom. ;)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday

FREE MOVIES definitely work for me. I have read in several spots about movie theatres that offer free movies during the summer, but it's always a chain that we don't have in my area. Well, I did some research. Guess what??? I found one!!!! Rave Motion Pictures shows free movies every Tuesday & Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. Air conditioning (which is always a plus when the temps are 90+ and humidity is 90 - 100%), comfy seats, minimal $ spent on concessions. Wonderful if you don't mind the occasional toddler walking by to see what you're up to! We saw "Space Chimps" yesterday - a movie that ds#3 & I saw advertised last summer, but never got to go. It was cute - well suited toward a summertime kid audience. He was delighted and I had one more thing to entertain him - good for every mom. :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Blueberries... ahh.... Summer!

At the end of last week, we went blueberry picking. Our local Publix had bluerries on sale 3 pints/$5, but we could pick them for $1/lb. I'll let you do that math. :)
So we brought the berries home, and I sorted them and picked off the leaves and stems, etc., laid them out on a cookie sheet, and froze some. After they were hardened, I put them in freezer bags. This way, I can get out as much as I want and they won't clump together.

And I am making this recipe:
(the blackberries came from my yard)
Blueberry and Blackberry Galette with Cornmeal Crust (from Cooking Light)

Ingredients

  • Pastry:
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 7 3/4 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup fat-free buttermilk

  • Filling:
  • 4 cups blueberries
  • 2 cups blackberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free milk
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Preparation

1. To prepare pastry, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients (through salt) in a food processor; pulse two times. Add butter to flour mixture; pulse 4 to 5 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. With processor on, slowly add buttermilk through food chute; process just until dough forms a ball. Gently press dough into a 4-inch circle on plastic wrap; cover. Chill 30 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 350°.

3. Unwrap and place dough on a sheet of parchment paper. Roll dough into a 15-inch circle. Place dough and parchment on a baking sheet.

4. To prepare filling, combine berries and next 3 ingredients (through juice) in a medium bowl; toss gently to coat. Arrange berry mixture in center of dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold edges of dough toward center, pressing gently to seal (dough will only partially cover berry mixture).

5. Combine fat-free milk and egg white in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Brush dough with milk mixture; sprinkle turbinado sugar evenly over dough. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until pastry is golden brown. Let stand 30 minutes; cut into wedges.

Share your temptations here!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

It's Monday, and you know what that means...

... it's time for the MENU!!!!
But first, let's review last week.
We followed the menu relatively well. Lime chicken - think I'll make this one again. Use a tad less mustard - hubby said that was the flavor he tasted the most. But ahhhhh... that lime... it smelled divine. (And it was SUPER easy because I made it in the crock pot.)
Instead of having breakfast for dinner, we actually had a 'veggie plate' with produce that had either been given to us, or came from our garden. I made some rice and some cornbread, and we had cucumbers & tomatoes, corn on the cob, fried okra (okra was given to us). And it was yummy. My carnivorous husband said he did not even miss the meat. :)

This week, said hubby will be at an in-town workshop that will have him away from home at lunch and most dinnertimes. So I'm planning for ds #3 and me, with the chance that Dad may be home for dinner - or want something when he comes home late.

Sunday~
lunch:
tacos (hubby's request)
dinner: FFYS for ds & me
Monday~
lunch:
chicken tenders, broccoli, twice baked potatoes
dinner: chicken with pesto (make extra pasta for Tuesday's lunch), tossed salad
Tuesday~
lunch:
bowtie pasta (add veggies for Mom)
dinner: Taco salad (use leftovers from Sunday)
Wednesday~
lunch:
frozen pizza
dinner: BLTs & chips (that we never had last week)
Thursday~
lunch:
quesadillas
dinner: sticky chicken (I use bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts), mashed potatoes, cucumber salad (my grandfather's recipe, which is a lot like the link here)
Friday~
lunch: sandwiches & chips
dinner: hubby will be home, so probably his fave - roast in the crock pot with mashed potatoes!
Saturday~
TBA
- we may visit a local farm as I have been hunting for a source of local beef.

What's cookin' at your house?
Share at Menu Plan Monday.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Works for me Wednesday - Summer Tips

It's been a while since I've joined Works For Me Wednesday, but they're always full of great ideas!
My summer tip has to do with the 4th of July. I know it's over, but it worked so beautifully that I feel the need to share.
Our tradition is to attend our city's annual fireworks display downtown. It is always very crowded, so it is necessary to arrive early to get a decent spot. Translation: KIDS GET BORED BEFORE THE SHOW STARTS. So this year, I came up with an ingenious solution: bubbles. Yes! We've done sparklers (they last about 5 minutes) and snacks (5 more minutes) so you've got at least an hour to go. You can chase bubbles everywhere, and have contests to see who can blow the biggest, and even bat them with light sabers that Mimi (grandmother) bought for the boys. I don't know why I never thought of this before, but let me tell you - it was a thing of beauty to see it work.
(Picture of said lightsabers, my son on left, and nephew on right)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday - Triple Chocolate Cookies!

This is my first week participating in Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.
I'm baking Triple Chocolate Cookies this week - a recipe from Ellie Krieger. I use a small scoop to measure out the batter, so they're all uniform, and so I know how many calories I'm eating when I have one! I like most of Ellie's recipes because she incorporates healthier ingredients into dishes that my family will still eat. And these cookies?? Look out - they may become your new favorite.

**I have used egg substitute in place of the egg and it has worked fine. I have also used Splenda in place of granulated sugar with success. But I don't recommend changing both at the same time. It's a texture thing. **

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, optional
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate (2 ounces) coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup milk chocolate (2 ounces) coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans, optional

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mash together the butter and sugars with a fork until well combined. Add the oil and egg and beat until creamy. Mix in the vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Stir in the dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and the pecans and mix well. Using a tablespoon, scoop the batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

July Menu Plan Monday!

Last week's menu went surprisingly well. There were a couple of trips out to eat at lunchtime, which I expected and planned for, so no big shockers there. Dinners also went pretty much as planned. Amazing!

This week, Marine Son returns to base, so I am thinking we'll need a pick-me-up on the day he leaves. Might plan a special activity that day to keep us busy. Got any suggestions??

Sunday~BBQ pork sandwiches (meat in the freezer), potato salad, corn on the cob, seven layer salad, and baked beans (all leftovers from the 4th), strawberry shortcake for dessert. Yum!
Monday~Lime chicken (a new recipe - can't wait to see how it comes out!), rice, cucumber salad, honey wheat popovers
Tuesday~ Local baseball game at Marine Son's request. Will eat at the ball park.
Wednesday~ BLTs & chips or breakfast for dinner
Thursday~ Marinated flank steak (I leave out the oil), twice baked potatoes, sliced tomatoes from the garden, and green salad
Friday~ A pasta recipe loosely based on this one from Cooking Light (I use tomatoes and herbs from our garden), tossed salad, and garlic bread
Saturday~ Something from the grill!

I'll also be baking these YUMMY triple chocolate cookies from Ellie Krieger.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The "Dad's home and Marine's here" menu!


Can I just say for a moment that it is extremely easy to follow the menu when hubby's not here? :) His whims tend to cause changes, and since he wasn't home last week, we did exactly what Mom had planned. Woo hoo!!
So this week, hubby is home from his trip, and Marine son is here for a visit as well. This means that all plans are subject to change every day, but I *need* a plan, because if I don't, default = out to eat = $$$$$$ !!!!!! I've not yet figured out my husband's love of eating out, but we do it more than usual when our big boys are in town. That said, I'm listing the plan this week for lunch & dinner, but not assigning any days, except Sunday.

Sunday~ lunch: leftover roast, mushrooms, and gravy over mashed potatoes
dinner: Breakfast - eggs, bacon, waffles, toast, blueberries.

The rest of the week:
~~~LUNCHES~~~
Tacos, nachos & quesadillas
BLTs & chips
Sliders (from the freezer), salad
Chicken tenders, twice baked potatoes, salad or broccoli
4th of July cookout at the parents' house
I know there will be at least 2 days of lunches out.

~~~DINNERS~~~
Grilled steak, sliced tomatoes from our garden, corn on the cob, fried okra (fresh from the garden!), onion rings
Grilled chicken, fruit salad, baked potatoes
Spaghetti, bread with Italian dipping sauce, tossed salad
Appetizer night
Leftovers
And the out to eat for dinner option. Which hubby loves when Marine son is in town.

So there ya have it. Have a happy 4th of July, and get some menu inspiration at Laura's!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The "Dad's out of town" Menu

A review of last week tells me that we did a decent job of following the plan. As for dinners, we swapped chicken for leftover burgers on Wednesday, and on Thursday we had breakfast instead of tacos. Friday, my father decided to take my sister & me out to dinner for a Father's Day date at a local restaurant, so hubby & son fended for themselves (quite nicely, I think!). Saturday, Hubs decided he wanted to celebrate Father's Day before his trip instead of after, so he chose the meals all day and we ended up with BLT's for dinner, with tomatoes fresh from our garden, and another round of the now infamous oatmeal cookie peach cobbler.

This week, dear hubby is out of town at a workshop. So it's ds#3 and me... and a great time for a Lunch Challenge! (I did make breakfast every day last week, but did not always follow the plan for my Breakfast Challenge. I have decided to give myself permission to wing breakfast, because I always make it and have a variety of quick meals to choose from.) We have swimming lessons every day except Friday, and it is tempting to hit the drive thru on the way home because there are a BAZILLION fast food joints that we pass. And since Daddy's away, the temptation is even greater!!! So this challenge will help me immensely.

Sunday~ lunch @ my parents' house. Gorgeous grilled steak, twice baked potatoes, cheese and cracker salad, peas, crescent rolls, and watermelon for dessert. Who needs dinner????
Monday~ lunch: quesadillas,
dinner: chicken tenders, steamed broccoli, leftover twice baked potatoes

Tuesday~ lunch: ravioli, tossed salad,
dinner: out after going to see Up!

Wednesday~ lunch: cheese pizza,
dinner: sandwiches & chips

Thursday~ lunch: tortilla crusted tilapia (frozen - don't be too impressed!!), cucumbers & tomatoes from the garden,
dinner: nachos!

Friday~ Marine son comes home, so all plans are subject to change.
Saturday~ Marine son will take ds#3 to go see Airman son, so I'll be home alone to get ready for hubby's arrival on Sunday. I will definitely have some kind of CHICK FOOD!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

June Menu, week two

What an eventful week we've had. We learned this week that Marine Son will be deploying to Afghanistan in a couple of months, and son #3 broke his toe. So you know what that meant... extra movies and video games for him. He's supposed to keep his foot up as much as possible (how much is possible for an eight-year-old??!) but he seems to be getting along pretty well.

As for the food? Well, again, we didn't get to the roast chicken meal. So that will carry over again to this week. And when I was planning my menu, I totally forgot to schedule in time for hubby & me to celebrate our fifteenth wedding anniversary! He took me to a local Italian restaurant where I thoroughly enjoyed some scrumptious eggplant parmesan. YUMMMMM! I've been doing pretty well keeping the fruits & veggies in every meal, so I intend to continue that. Lastly, the oatmeal cookie peach cobbler was FANTASTIC. I highly recommend it.
Now this week:
Sunday~ Spaghetti (hubby's request) with sauteed mushrooms, Italian bread with dipping sauce, and fresh cherry cobbler (used the same recipe as the peach, just subbed cherries, because that's what we have!)
Monday~ the bug man is coming to spray. So if the smell is overpowering, we'll go out. If not, we'll have chef salads.
Tuesday~ Beef in the crock pot, rice & gravy, fresh corn, tossed salad
Wednesday~ Leftover burgers from Saturday OR the roast chicken dinner
Thursday~ Tacos & Quesadillas, refried beans
Friday~ BBQ Pork sandwiches, corn on the cob, onion rings
Saturday~ Breakfast for Dinner

I'm also giving myself a Breakfast Challenge this week, with inspiration from Joy and Amanda. (They are also doing a Lunch Challenge, but we'll be out for lunch this week due to workshops and VBS, so we'll give that a go next week.) Hubby usually cooks his own breakfast, but I make ds#3's and mine. So here goes:
Sunday~ big breakfast for everyone. That's the usual - no biggie here.
Monday~ Homemade waffle for ds, cereal w/strawberries for me
Tuesday~ Toast & bacon for ds, fruit & yogurt for me
Wednesday~ Eggs & grits, waffle w/fruit for me
Thursday~ mini-bagel & bacon, fruit & yogurt for me
Friday~ Homemade waffle, oatmeal w/fruit for me
Saturday~ Pancakes & sausage for everyone (except I'll have turkey bacon)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

School's out Menu!


School is officially out for the summer. I still have some odds & ends to tie up, but it will be at my leisure. I am beginning to relax a little, although still thinking about work quite a bit. Ds#3 will be going to VBS this week, so I'll be enjoying a little freedom in the mornings... I'm going to try to get back into an exercise routine... although I have a nasty scrape on my knee, so that might make it challenging. We'll see.
Last week's menu? Actually, it went fairly well, with just a couple of adjustments. The Spinach & mushroom smothered chicken was tasty, but just a tad bland. I will probably make it again for myself (I left out the spinach for hubby & son) and add something with a little kick to it. Rachael Ray's Texas chili-cheese fries were a fun change of pace, and we enjoyed them a LOT, on Saturday, instead of Thursday. I had some leftover beef from our black'n'bleu salad and the chicken, so I made foil packets with individual portions and added ingredients that each of us liked, so everyone had their own packet. Kind of fun and different.
Now for this week!
I have made it a goal to include fruits or vegetables with every single meal. So here's the attempt with dinnertime.
Sunday~ Pasta toss with fresh grape tomatoes and basil from our garden, tossed with some sauteed mushrooms and feta cheese. Add in your favorite pasta ... fresh and yummy.
Monday~ Baseball team party at a local restaurant. No cooking for mom.
Tuesday~ Roast chicken, roasted potatoes (baby new potatoes from our garden) , broccoli, corn on the cob (this is actually from last week's menu, but we never got to it)
Wednesday~ Spaghetti, tossed salad
Thursday~ BLTs & chips or chef salads ... essentially the same ingredients, just depends on what we're in the mood for
Friday~ Tacos and trimmings
Saturday~
Steak on the grill, baked potatoes, and something green which has yet to be determined.

I also made this delicious oatmeal cookie peach cobbler with fresh peaches that are coming in season now, so we'll be satisfying our sweet tooth with fruit. :)