Wednesday, December 30, 2009

January Menu Plan

Since committing to the Eat From The Pantry challenge, I have actually gotten excited about seeing how low we can go with our grocery budget this month. We have several things already prepared in our freezer and I have ingredients on hand to feed us healthy and flavorful meals all month. I will admit, yes, there's not as much variety as some months, but it's a challenge folks! We're out of town 4 days this month and will continue our weekly dinners at my parent's house also.

  • Chili and cornbread (2 times) - freezer
  • Beef stew with homemade bread - freezer
  • Chicken and corn chili with homemade tortilla strips (2 times) - freezer
  • Pork Chops with Raspberry Sauce, rice, broccoli
  • Creamy Ham Casserole, corn
  • Chicken & gravy over rice, corn
  • Chicken a la king over puff pastry, broccoli
  • BBQ pork (Boston butt), homemade mac and cheese, green beans
  • Pulled pork sandwiches, fries, coleslaw
  • Pork burritos with black bean salsa
  • Bean soup, homemade bread
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches and Quick Homemade Tomato Soup
  • Breakfast for dinner (2 times)
  • Baked pasta, green salad (2 times)
Baking, Freezer, Snacks:

Monday, December 28, 2009

Eat From the Pantry

I am constantly amazed at the way God works in my life. I have been fretting a bit over cutting our expenses further as I may be facing some changes at work this year. Then, while trolling around my favorite blogs tonight, I saw this post at Amy's Finer Things. I followed the links and ended back at one my all time favorites, Money Saving Mom. I have followed Crystal of and on for several years and am always inspired. So, I could not pass up this challenge. If you want to join us, go visit Crystal at Money Saving Mom!

My Goals:
  • A complete inventory of 2 freezers, 2 refrigerators, and one big pantry
  • Cap our grocery budget for January at $50 per week. We are in need of some paper products from our local warehouse club, but I will work to source those items at the grocery and use coupons to our advantage.
  • Get rid of all the complete junk in our pantry - how does this accumulate so quickly over the holidays?
  • I have been doing monthly menu plans for a little over a year now. My continued goal is to refine them, reduce trips to the store, and overall increase nutrition while reducing cost.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Menu Plan - week of December 27

We shared a wonderful long weekend with our family celebrating Christmas. We have 3 days of laughter, fun, stories, food, and love to reflect on. Little man is home from school for one more week and I am looking forward to spending some time with him. We'll be visiting our favorite children's museum, driving a few hours to visit a friend with a new baby, having a fun filled all day playdate, and much more this week! Meals will be simple and easy to prepare this week. I would much rather spend time playing with our sweet little man than over the stovetop. What's cooking at your house this week? Go visit Laura for hundreds more menu ideas weekly!

Weeknight dinners:
  • Spaghetti and green salad
  • Chicken enchiladas with rice
  • Ham and bean soup, green chili cornbread
  • Beef barley soup (using leftover prime rib bones to make the stock), rolls
  • Chicken egg rolls and Asian slaw
Baking, Freezer, Snacks:
I did not get everything done from last week's list, so I will try to accomplish the following this week -

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tackling the Pantry

I have posted time and time again about keeping our pantry neat and organized. Yet, time and time again, I end up with this ...Yep, total CHAOS - half empty boxes, unlabeled bags of random things, food purchased because it was "such a deal" that has lingered far too long. Please tell me I'm not the only one! So ... I set about organizing and cleaning out. Snacks went into individual containers and then into the snack basket, baking supplies were transferred to the right bulk containers, 3 bags were filled to take to a needy family at church, and order was restored! See ...I'm off to make a cup of cocoa, now that I know where the cocoa mix is - 2nd shelf, left side, behind the gourmet popcorn!

This post is linked to:

Beer Cheese Soup with Sausage

My sweet hubby made this for dinner over the weekend and the house smelled amazing. We both kept sneaking into the kitchen and tasting it :) That's the sign of a great recipe- one you can't stay away from! He made a few changes from the original recipe his co-worker gave him. DH's variations are below.

12 oz mild Italian sausage - ground/bulk
2 stalks celery, finely diced
2 large carrots, finely diced
1 medium yellow onions, finely diced
2 russet potatoes, diced into bite-sized pieces
1 bunch broccoli, diced into bite-sized pieces

2 sticks (1 cup) butter
2, 12 oz bottles lager style beer
4 C chicken stock

1/2 lb Velveeta cheese, cubed
2 C sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Garlic Powder
Hot sauce - we used Tabasco brand Chipotle flavor

1/3 cup butter, room temp
1/3 cup flour

1. Brown the sausage in a large stock pot
2. Remove sausage, do not drain pan. Add butter and melt. Add veggies and potatoes.
3. Saute veggies for about 8 minutes, until they begin to soften
4. Add beer, chicken stock, and add browned sausage back in
5. Bring to a rolling boil and add cheeses, slowly, stirring to melt
6. Add spices - I have no exact measurements on these. Just do it all to your taste. Start with a small amount and increase as needed, adjust heat to keep soup simmering
7. If needed to reach desired consistency, make a roux from the last portion of flour and butter. Add it in while soup is simmering, stirring constantly.


This post is linked to:
Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace

Monday, December 21, 2009

Menu Plan - Week of December 20

It's Christmas week!!! Little man is out of school for 2 weeks and I am so excited about spending time with him - watching movies, cooking and baking, visiting our favorite places in town, visiting friends and family. Somehow over the past 6 weeks, our house has been turned on it's head. So, I am certainly looking forward to some time to get things organized again. On to the food!

Weeknight Dinners:
  • Chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, broccoli
  • Pork Chops with Raspberry Sauce, rice, creamed corn (company's coming for dinner)
  • Spaghetti with No-Knead Fococcia Bread
  • We'll be at DH's parent's house for Christmas Eve and then going to church. We will likely have leftovers late Christmas Eve after church.
  • We'll be at my parent's house for Christmas dinner. Dad and DH do standing rib roast / Prime Rib and mom and I will make potatoes and salad. I am also taking a Dark Chocolate Cherry Cobbler for dessert.
Baking, Breakfast, Freezer Re-stock:

I go through highs and lows when it comes to keeping a stocked freezer and pantry. The past few weeks, I have been neglecting this all important area. So, back to it this week!
What's cooking at your house this week?

This post is linked to:
Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mocha Chip Muffins

This seems to be the week for adaptations in our kitchen - trying to use what we have rather than head to the store...again! I found this recipe at Someone's In The Kitchen With Daddy. It sounded wonderful, but I wanted to make it a bit healthier - I used olive oil for part of the butter, mainly whole wheat flour, and used sour cream instead of the yogurt since I did not have the flavor required. My variation is below. Enjoy!

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

8 T butter, softened
2 T olive oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1.5 C sour cream mixed with 6 T instant coffee

1 heaping cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375, spray 16 muffin cups with non stick spray or use paper liners
2. Mix first 5 ingredients in a bowl
3. Cream butter, olive oil, and sugar until creamy
4. Add eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Stop to scrape down sides a few times
5. Alternately add sour cream mix and dry ingredients, starting and ending with dry ingredients
6. Fold in chocolate chips
7. Scoop batter into muffin cups (I use an ice cream scoop), cups should be no more than 3/4 full
8. Bake in center of oven for 20-22 minutes

Creamy Ranch Pork Chops with Rice

This recipe has become one of or favorite comfort foods. It is an adaptation of this recipe found on Recipezaar. I am not a fan of condensed soups, so I try to make substitutions when they are called for.

4 boneless pork chops, cut 1 inch thick
salt and pepper
2 T olive oil
6 T butter, divided
1/4 cup + 2 T all purpose flour
8 oz mushrooms, fresh chopped or drained from a can in a pinch is fine
3 cups liquid (I use 2 cups milk, 1 cup chicken stock)
1 package dry ranch dressing mix

1. Heat oven to 350
2. Heat olive oil and 2 T butter in a large skillet
3. Season chops with salt and pepper and sear on both sides. They do not need to be cooked through, they are going into the oven also.
4. Transfer seared chops to 9x13 baking dish, set aside
5. Put remaining 4 T butter into skillet - do not drain or clean pan
6. If using fresh mushrooms, saute them in the butter
7. Add flour to skillet and cook 5 minutes until smooth and starting to brown
8. Add liquid and ranch mix, slowly, while whisking. If using canned mushrooms, add them now. Simmer until desired consistency. We like ours about the same as a gravy.
9. Pour sauce over chops and bake 15-20 minutes or until chops are cooked through.

I serve these with brown rice and broccoli. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Menu Plan - Week of December 13

Is it really less than 2 weeks until Christmas? WOW! Our season is staying busy as I am sure yours is too. We did not get to eat all the meals I had planned for last week, so there will be some repeats this week.

Sunday, December 13 -
B: Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
L: leftover soup - we have 2 kinds in the fridge to pick from
D: Chili with green chili cornbread

Weeknight Dinners -
For hundreds more menu plans each week, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Menu Plan - Week of Dec 7

This week will be busy for us as my dad is having surgery on Tuesday. I will be taking little man to the in-laws on Monday and staying with my mom all day Tuesday. DH has band practice Monday night, we have church on Wednesday, Christmas party at church on Friday, and are trying to stay available for mom and dad as the week goes on too. My meal plan for this week is a bit loose and has lots of flexibility built in. I have all the ingredients on hand for each of these recipes, so that's a relief.

The word of the Lord that I am holding strong to this week is from Proverbs: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." ~Proverbs 3:5-6

Weeknight Dinners:
  • Pinto beans in slow cooker with chopped peppers, onions, and rice
  • Chili with green chili cornbread
  • Toscano Soup in slow cooker with Italian Cheese Bread
  • Spaghetti with remaining bread
Head over and visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for hundreds more menu plans each week.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Chocolate Coated Popcorn Mix

I don't have a name for this concoction yet, other than yummy! I was wanting to make a fancy popcorn mix for little man's preschool teachers for Christmas, but found that I did not have all the ingredients to make any of the recipes I found. So, I worked with what I had :) You can adjust all the ingredients as need - the main thing to have is the popcorn, something salty and something sweet. SO ... no peanuts, use pretzels or another type of salted nut. No chocolate chips - shame on you! - but you could use M&Ms or those mini Hershey kisses. No raisins or don't like them - leave them out or how about cranberries, or Raisinets? This is essentially a double batch, so adjust as needed. Enjoy!!

2 bags microwave popcorn without butter, popped and cooled
1 heaping cup of salted peanuts
1 bag of Heath Toffee Bits
1-1.5 C raisins
1-1.5 C semisweet chocolate chips

2 bags white chocolate chips
5 T shortening, divided 4 and 1
1 C semisweet chocolate chips

wax paper
BIG mixing bowls - I mean HUGE ones!!

1. Stir together 1st 5 ingredients in a BIG bowl - I used the inside part of a cake carrier. You need something really big. Spread wax paper or parchment on your largest table - ours is 60" and this mix almost covers it.
2. Combine 2 bags white chips and 4 T shortening in a microwave safe bowl (use plastic if you can to prevent scorching). Heat at 70% power in 1 minute intervals until smooth and all chips are melted.
3. Pour white chocolate over the mixture created in step 1 and roll up your sleeves! Get out a big spoon and start "folding" everything together until most pieces have some chocolate on them.
4. Pour out onto the wax paper. Mix a bit more by hand if you find all the toffee pieces have settled to the bottom and fall out in one big clump (ask me how I know this!).
5. Head back to the microwave and heat the semisweet chips and remaining 1 T shortening in 30 second intervals on 70% power until smooth.
6. Use a fork to scoop up, then shake and drizzle the dark chocolate over top of the mixture. Resist the urge to lick the bowl! By the way, I use the same bowl as I use for the white chocolate. Why make more dirty dishes than needed?
7. Let it sit for at least 2 hours, then break apart and either devour it yourself or package it for gifts.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December Menu Plan

The plan for this month is to keep things quick, easy, and centered around things we love to eat. We'll also be preparing yummy treat boxes for a variety of people - preschool teachers, Sunday School teachers, our church staff, and our neighbors. I have several ideas in mind that can be made in advance and are simple - mocha mix, Peppermint Bark Popcorn, fudge, Frosted Pecans - I'm still looking for more!

* denotes slow cooker recipe

Monday, November 30, 2009

Prepare the Way

"In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God." ~Isaiah 40:3

As we enter the season of Advent, I wait eagerly for the celebration of Christmas. My heart has been convicted over the past several years to return my focus to the real reason we celebrate. Not the gifts, not the food, not even the time with our own family and friends. We are celebrating the birth of a sweet baby boy who grew into the man who wants to bring us all into a relationship with Him and with God Almighty. I have heard the verse above from the book of Isaiah for several years and every year I find deeper meaning in the words of the prophet. How often have I let my heart become like the desolate wilderness - barren, inhospitable, and uncomfortable? Why would Jesus want to hang out there? My challenge this year is to yield to the Holy Spirit and lay down a highway for Jesus to enter in on. Having grown up in Southern California, I am thinking about a huge, 20 lane highway - not just a little 2 lane road.

Jesus and His abundant love for me is the reason I want to clear out all the nasty stuff in my heart. His love for me is also the method to accomplish the task. I cannot change my heart on my own. I have proven that time and time again. The softening of my heart that has happened over the past 15 years has happened only through the incredible grace of God. That gives me plenty of reason to celebrate.

This post is linked to: Homemaker's Haven at A High and Noble Calling

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Menu Plan - Week of November 29

Whew! The whirlwind weekend is drawing to a close. We have had a wonderful weekend with our families and are eager to enjoy the rest of the holiday season. We're back to a normal schedule this week, which mean 2-3 nights away from home. Dinners will be quick, easy, and often in the slow cooker.

Sunday, November 29: We'll be at church all but 3 hours today, so I"ll have both slow cookers running!
B: oatmeal with raisins or cranberries
L: *Lasagna, Cheesy Garlic Swirls, and salad (carryover from last week)
D: *Ranch Chicken, rice, and green beans

Weeknight Dinners:
Head over and see Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie for hundreds more menu plan each week!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Menu

One of the most wonderful things about living close to our families is that we get to see both sets of parents over the holidays. Years ago, my parents decided to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas on the day after each official holiday since my in laws have a larger family. We've been doing 2 day celebrations for almost 10 years and it's been wonderful.

On Thanksgiving day, we will be at my in laws home and my mom in law will serve all the traditional Southern Thanksgiving foods - turkey, creamed potatoes, pinto beans, cornbread, and an assortment of veggies. On Friday, we'll be at my parent's house trying something new - a variety of appetizers throughout the day rather than another large meal. The menu includes:

Wishing you and your family a Thanksgiving richly blessed with laughter, hugs, and full of opportunities to make new memories - Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Vegetable Beef Soup

Well, it's just Monday evening and I've already deviated from my menu plan this week. But - it's okay since I had all the ingredients on hand. Mom and I decided I would bring dinner tonight during our normal Monday night visit and dad does not like lasagna. So, I started thinking about what else I had on hand and came up with veggie beef soup. This meal is a true testimony that with a well stocked freezer and pantry, you can pull off yummy, homemade meals in no time. And, the bonus for me was this required no additional grocery shopping.

Vegetable Beef Soup:
  • 1.5 lb ground beef (I had this in the freezer already browned with garlic and chopped onions)
  • 2 c tomato sauce (I had some of mom's homemade marinara in the freezer that I used)
  • 6 c water
  • 1 small box green peas, frozen
  • 1 - 16 oz bag corn, frozen
  • 1 c lima beans or butter beans, frozen
  • 2 small cans tomato paste
  • beef bouillon, 3-4 T
  • Mrs. Dash seasoning mix, original - 3-4 t
  • black pepper, 2-3 t
  1. Heat the ground beef in a large stock pot with about 2 T olive oil. If not pre-cooked, cook until beef is no longer pink.
  2. Add the tomato sauce, water, and bouillon
  3. Add frozen veggies and tomato paste
  4. Add 3-4 generous shakes of Mrs. Dash and approx 2 teaspoons black pepper
  5. Cook until everything is well mixed
  6. I did this on the stovetop, but you could easily do this in the slow cooker - just dump it all in and cook for 6-7 hours on low.
I served this with Cheesy Garlic Bread Swirls and a tray of Pillsbury simply Chocolate Chip Cookies.

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Sunday, November 22, 2009

30 Day Giving Challenge Update - week 2

What an amazing week we have had of giving! Many of you know I am an avid baker and it has been a pleasure to share some homemade goodies this week. I also turned back to a favorite hobby - writing cards to my dear friends. We have definitely been blessed over the past 2 weeks. However, I am not a believer at all in the philosophy of giving to receive. So ... I will gladly share ways we have given to other people, but will refrain from any sort of discussion about things received.
  • Continued our donations to the Salvation Army at our local Wal Mart. We probably should visit less so this does not show up on my weekly digest. Although, we did not spend much on this week's visit. I have been letting our 4 year old son put the donations in and it has been wonderful to see his smile.
  • Made a batch of Chewy Granola Bars for a dear friend and her son.
  • Made a batch of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins to share with the music minister at church and one of little man's preschool teachers.
  • Wrote a note of encouragement to a girlfriend from college who is going through a divorce.
Visit Kingdom First Mom to see how other bloggers are giving this month and to join in!

Menu Plan - Thanksgiving Week!

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." This passage from 1 Thessalonians is one of my favorites and is particularly inspirational at Thanksgiving is upon us. There will, of course, be food in abundance this week. There will also be many opportunities to model and share what we have to be thankful for - our families, friends, and the amazing grace of God. I pray you all experience joy and thankfulness in the small things this week.

Sunday, November 22:
  • Sunday School brunch for the adults, little man had a Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin
  • Chicken and cheese quesadillas
  • Spanish style chicken and rice skillet
Weeknight Dinners:
I will post our Thanksgiving menu a bit later in the week. We are trying something new this year with my family. We'll be having an assortment of appetizers throughout the day. There are lots of yummy sounding recipes that I will link up on Tuesday. Also, no baking this week - we have plenty of muffins in the freezer and bagels for breakfast.

Head over and visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for hundreds more menu plans each week.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Morning Routine

I thought I would share what I *TRY* to get done each morning to make our house run a bit smoother. Remember, little man is in preschool each day and I work outside the home while he's there. Your routine may certainly be different depending on your circumstances.

  • Prayer time
  • Shower, clothes, make up, etc
  • Pick up bathrooms after little man and I get ready - wipe counters, re-hang towels, etc.
  • Make beds - little man does his and I do the master
  • Unload the dishwasher and start loading it back up
  • Make lunches for DH, little man, and me
  • Check email and Facebook (sometimes spending far too much time online!)
  • Start a load of laundry (usually every other day)
  • Breakfast for me and little man - I am trying very hard to consistently be reading God's word while we settle in over Cheerios.
  • Help little man get ready - clothes, brush teeth, hair, etc.
  • Out the door by 8:50!
What works for you in the wee hours of the morning??? This post is linked to:

30 Day Giving Challenge Update - week 1

I started the 30 Day Giving Challenge a week late, but I am so enjoying being a part of it! We had many opportunities to give of our time and resources this past week, including:
  • Donated 3 complete Operation Christmas Child boxes and filled one half full for little man's preschool
  • Took lunch one day to my boss - we had 3 days of cold, rainy weather and Toscano Soup really hit the spot mid-day
  • Took the last of my maternity clothes to our local church run thrift store
  • Made Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins and gave them to preschool teachers and the administrative staff at our church
  • Donated to the first Salvation Army donation site we've seen this year at our local Wal Mart
It's been a great week and I look forward to finding more creative ways to give next week. Want to join in? Head over to Kingdom First Mom and sign up!

Menu Plan - Week of November 15

Is it really less than 2 weeks until Thanksgiving? WOW!!! The next 2 weeks - and the 4 afterward leading to Christmas - will be busy for us, as I am sure they will be for many families. I am planning to double up on certain foods this week and freeze them. It's so great to have dinner in the freezer as the holidays approach and our days get busier.

Weeknight Dinners:
Head over and visit I'm An Organizing Junkie for over 300 menu plans each week.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Baking Day - the "plan"

I am feeling the urge to have a baking day where I will precook and bake - duh! - several things to stock the freezer. This method of bulk cooking has been a wonderful thing for us. I will either get complete meals ready to do the majority of prep work so putting dinner together is a snap on busy days - or tired days. Here are some recipes I am considering for an upcoming day. I am hoping to fit in at least a half day session this week.
  • Brown 10 lb ground beef with garlic and onions; portion into meal size bags and freeze
  • Roast 10 lb split chicken with butter, salt, and pepper; shred and freeze in meal size portions
  • I have about 5 lbs of baby peppers that MUST be dealt with before a good deal goes dreadfully wrong
  • Oh, and some baby carrots too - probably should chop those up so as not to let another good deal get away from me
Breakfast and Snack Options:

Sunday, November 8, 2009

30 Day Giving Challenge

I am sitting here on our back porch while little man and DH sleep and am overwhelmed by how good God has been to me. I have an a amazing husband, wonderful friends, a supportive family, and the sweetest little man a mom could pray for. I was catching up on some of my favorite recipe blogs and saw the 30-Day Giving Challenge at The Finer Things in Life. I am going to join in this, even though it is now day 8. I'll do 30 days from today! The general idea is that every day for the next 30 days, I will give something to someone. I write down each day in a journal what I have given and also record things that come our way. I think this will be a great way to stay focused on doing God's work during this time of year and staying out of focus on the advertisements, decorations, and "must haves" of the approaching Christmas season. Want to join in?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Menu Plan - Week of November 8

Sunday, November 8:
Weeknight Dinners:
Baking, Breakfast, Snacks:
Need more inspiration? Go visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for over 300 menu plans each week!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Menu Plan - Week of November 2

I said to DH tonight over dinner ... "Sometime this week we need to talk about Christmas." YIKES!!! It's the first of November - this year has flown by for us (well, for me at least). We are finally having a consistent week of cooler weather here in the south also, so I will be pulling out some slow cooker and casserole meals. There is just something about a daytime high in the 50s that make the slow cooker very appealing! We are looking forward this week to an early Christmas present for ourselves - we're going to the Casting Crowns and Matt Redman concert - fun!!

Visit I'm An Organizing Junkie for over 200 menu plans each week!

  • Taco Casserole (use chicken instead of ground beef), green salad
  • *Toscano soup in slow cooker (see recipe below), French bread
  • Aussie Chicken, yellow rice, and roasted butternut squash
  • Homemade pizza with green salad
Baking, Breakfast, Snacks:
Slow Cooker Toscano Soup
adapted from Fix-It and Forget-It 5-Ingredient Favorites
  • 1 lb Italian sausage links (I use Johnsonville brand) - sweet or hot depending on your taste
  • 4-15 oz cans Great Northern Beans, do not drain or rinse
  • 1 large bunch of kale - remove tough stalks and tear into bite size pieces
  • approx 6 cups chicken broth, or water with boullion or base
  • pepper to taste - black or red flake are great
1. Slice sausage into disks approx 1/2 inch thick
2. Brown sausage in non stick skillet just to get a bit of color - they will finish cooking thoroughly in slow cooker
3. Place browned sausage, beans, broth, and prepared kale in a LARGE (5-6 quart) slow cooker
4. Cook 6-8 hours on low
5. Taste and add pepper if needed. It should not need salt with the chicken broth, but adjust the seasonings as needed.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

November Menu Plan

As we approach the holiday season with its inherent over-indulgences, I am setting my mind to keeping things simple in our home. From food to gift ideas to how we choose to spend our time these next 2 months, we will be focusing on how we can serve our Lord and celebrate with our families.

* Denotes a slow cooker recipe

I do not have a detailed plan yet for baking and snacks - I will post those from week to week. Stay tuned!

Enjoy this month with your friends and families and "Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done." Psalm 105:1

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Menu Plan - Week of October 26

Last week's menu plan didn't go quite like I had planned. When we returned from Florida, two of my cousins came into town to help my parents do some home renovations, so we spent 2 nights at mom and dad's for dinner. There are some carryover meals this week because of that. Also, I am trying hard to cut our spending as we approach the holidays so we can enjoy the season with friends and family without stressing about money. And, since I know what ingredients I have on hand, I'll be sticking with the plan this week - Lord willing!


Baking, Lunch, and Breakfast:
Head over and visit Laura for hundreds more menu plans each week!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Menu Plan - week of October 18

Fall has arrived!!! We spent a week in the "Land of Mouse" in central FL and returned to find beautiful scenery with changing leaves, cooler temperatures, lower humidity, and we are thrilled! I went to the grocery and the warehouse club today and have already made apple muffins, French bread, and DH has a pot of beef stew bubbling on the stove. As for the rest of the week ...

Snacks, Breakfast, Baking:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Menu Plan - Week of October 5

I am amazed that it is October already! Friends and family always tell me that time flies with children in the house and I firmly believe it this year. October will bring many fun things to our house. Little man is turning 4, we are heading to Florida for a dream filled vacation with our favorite mouse, a trip to the pumpkin patch, and much more. This is our favorite time of year in the South!

Weeknight Dinners:
  • Vegetable beef soup with Italian Cheese Bread
  • Chicken a la king over puff pastry with green salad
  • Homemade pizza and cut veggies
  • Beef tacos

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October Menu Plan

As promised! We will be out of town for a week, so the number of meals is reduced this month. I hope you find some yummy ideas for your own families!

Desserts and Treats:
Breakfast, Baking and Freezer Cooking:

Brisket in Slow Cooker

I had plans to make a beef brisket in the slow cooker on Monday. I had all my ingredients picked out and sent DH to the store for the meat. He came back with a large sirloin roast instead - brisket looked bad and was too expensive. The nice thing about this recipe though is the meat can be swapped out, no problem. This would be good with any large cut of meat - brisket, chuck roast, or sirloin roast. It would probably work well also with a hearty pork roast. Did I take even one single picture? NO! Many other bloggers photograph their ingredients, equipment, and final products. I probably should do that to - note to self. Anyway, I can definitely share the recipe with you though. Try it and send me a picture of what yours looks like!
  • 2-3 lb beef roast
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 large sweet onion, quartered
  • 4-5 carrots, cut into bote size pieces
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 2-3 cups red wine (something you'd like to drink - don't buy the really cheap nasty stuff; it will get sour after cooking all day)
  • 2 T Mrs. Dash or other salty free seasoning blend
  • 2 t black pepper
1. Put the veggies in the bottom on a lrge (5-6 quart) slow cooker
2. Put the roast on top of the veggies (this way the meat dripping season the veggies and the meat doesn't get too greasy)
3. Pour the beef broth and wine over the ingredients
4. Season with Mrs. Dash and black pepper
5. Cook on low 6-8 hours

Just before serving, DH took the liquid and reduced it into a yummy gravy. We served it with egg noodles and ate the carrots and onions also. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Menu Plan - Week of September 28

Another glorious week is upon us here in the South. We have had a few days will fall-like temperatures and the weather man promises more this week. Fall is my absolute favorite time of year - pumpkins, apple picking, clear October skies, breaking out the coat for the first time - I just LOVE this time of year. I am planning some yummy treats over the next several weeks to embrace all the wonderful flavors Fall has to offer - applesauce cake, pumpkin muffins, baked apples, and of course more regular use of the slow cooker. Head over to visit Org Junkie to see how hundreds more bloggers are celebrating Fall!

Weeknight Dinners:
  • Beef brisket in the slow cooker (I will post the recipe tomorrow, provided it turns out well!)
  • Sicilian Casserole, garlic bread, and salad
  • Pizza and cut veggies
  • Chicken Spaghetti with corn and garlic bread
  • At my parents house for dinner. We usually bring dessert. I will likely make pecan pie muffins (recipe coming later this week)
  • Cookout with church friends - We will take deviled eggs and some dessert. Maybe the rest of the batch of pecan pie muffins.
Baking, Freezer Cooking, Breakfast:

Friday, September 25, 2009

Chicken Spaghetti

So - 2 of my favorite cooking blogs have posted chicken spaghetti recipes just today! Must be that this meal is destined to be on the menu plan next week at our house. Check these 2 ideas out and let me know what you think - I will likely have a 3rd recipe to add to the mix after Monday night!

Chicken Spaghetti at Stolen Moments Cooking
Baked Chicken Spaghetti at $5 Dinners

Monday, September 21, 2009

Menu Plan - Week of September 21

We had a wonderful week last week capped off by the delivery of a new oven. Yes, I know it means I have moved to a whole new level of domestication that a new oven is thrilling to me. But - this oven is very cool! It is huge, for one. Beyond sheer size are all the cool functions - recipe storage library, convection bake, delay start, and on and on. Enough about the oven ... on to the food! Go visit Laura for hundreds more menu plans each week!

Weeknight Dinners:
Baking, Freezer Cooking, and Breakfast:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Gift of a Meal

One of my favorite things about cooking is being able to share with friends and family around us. Tricia just posted about this today and it is such a timely and heartfelt video that I have to share it. I am on my way shortly to deliver a meal to family with a new baby. Last week we shared with a family who had just lost their child. Next week - we'll see who God puts in our path.

I know that I will be able to pull something together though from our stockpile and freezer. It is such a blessing to share God's love in a tangible - and edible - way!

The Power of Gifting Food from Once a Month Mom

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Menu Plan - Week of September 14

Fall is in full swing in our house - all of our schedules are packed and that means one thing ... slow cooker meals!!! We are having a new stove delivered on Monday - an early Christmas gift from mom and dad. I will do some baking this week, but I am not sure how the new oven will work, so I am not really planning too many meals that need to be baked.

Weeknight Dinners:
Head over to Org Junkie to see hundreds more menu plans!

Monday, August 31, 2009

September Menu Plan

School has started back and there is a chill in the air this morning. Time for some of our favorite Autumn and Winter recipes to be dusted off! We have a pretty quiet month ahead of us, Lord willing. No plans for major travels again until October. I'm looking forward to cooking, cleaning out some areas of the house, and working in the yard.

Menu Plan - Week of August 31

Little man started back to 5 day preschool today and it has been all of 70 degrees here - Autumn is on it's way! I have thoroughly enjoyed this Summer - swimming, weekend trips, lots of field trips - but, I am feeling the "itch" for a change of seasons. I'll be bringing back some of our favorite slow cooker recipes and some soups this month. Look for the monthly menu plan tomorrow. Head over and visit Laura's site for lots more menu ideas! As for this week:

Weeknight Dinners:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - August 24, 2009

It's been a busy Monday so far at our house ... grocery shopping, cleaning, baking, and it's only 3:00 PM! Whew! I'm trying to get chores done early this week since we have a full weekend planned at church. Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for more inspiration each week!

Baking, Breakfast, Snacks:
  • Bacon cheddar biscuits
  • Homemade Pop Tarts
  • I'll be trying to make fruit leather ... I'll let you know how it turns out!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Over-run With Magazines

Does anyone else have a problem with magazines? Sure, they are shiny, colorful, and - sometimes - chock full of good information. Then, there are the rest ... they turn up when you least expect it, can't be recycled in the curbside box, and may have 1 good paragraph among 200 pages of drivel. There are VERY few magazines I love, but 3 that I adore are Consumer Reports, Kraft Food & Family, and Lowe's Creative Ideas. We keep 1 year of CR and I keep all of the issues of the other 2. So, what to do with them? Not this:

I spent less than 15 miunutes today and organized, separated, and put them in chronological order. The result - one happy lady!

Visit 5 Minutes for Mom for more simple projects you can tackle - on Tuesday or ANY day!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - August 17, 2009

I love having a food stockpile to choose from to help me make quick, healthy meals each night. One thing I am totally out of now though is ground beef. Hopefully someplace will offer it on sale this week and I can re-stock. So, lots of chicken the week!! I am also trying to use up am much as possible in the 'fridge since we're heading out of town this coming weekend - the last beach trip of the summer! That also means I only need to plan for 4 dinners :) Head over to Laura's site for hundreds more menu plans each week.

Weeknight Dinners:
Baking, Breakfasts, Snacks:

Monday, August 10, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - August 10

After an amazing week at Vacation Bible School last week, it's going to be a challenge to get back on track with cooking! Our church is blessed with several wonderful cooks and they fed us very well all week. I spent most evenings last week cooking and getting our freezer stocked with breakfast items. We have full batches of French Toast Sticks and Whole Wheat Cinnamon Waffles ready to heat up quickly for breakfast or snacks. Breakfast is always a hard meal for me - I don't eat much in the morning, but I know it's important for little man to start the day healthy. Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for over 200 menu plans each week!

Weeknight Dinners:
  • Chicken a la King over puff pastry shells, green salad
  • Shrimp Alfredo (using this sauce recipe), green salad
  • Egg Rolls and Asian style slaw
  • Cajun Chicken Pasta and corn
  • I have a girl's night out planned, so the boys will likely hit up Chick fil A

Friday, August 7, 2009

Finer Things Friday - Sheer Joy!

A few weeks ago, the wonderful lady I work for suggested we get little man a butterfly garden. He has seen one before, but that was 2 years ago. We ordered one, tended our caterpillars, fretted over the chrysalises, and waited. This week were so happy to see beautiful Painted Lady butterflies one morning! We fed them for a few days and decided to release them in the backyard. The result - sheer joy on our little man's face. It was wonderful - definitely a Finer Thing!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

August Menu Plan

Is summer really almost over? With our move and getting settled in, several weeks slipped by and I long for them back now. We intend to savor every late sunset, afternoon thunderstorm, and opportunity to swim and grill God grants us this month. A few weeks ago, after the move, I began to feel discontent with our eating situation again. It's amazing how quickly we slipped back into fast food, eating poorly, and scrambling for dinner come 5:00 every night.

So, even though it's still a relaxed time of year - it's definitely time for our structure to be back in the kitchen. We have several fun things coming up this month including a wonderful weekend event at church, Vacation Bible School (with dinner!), a party to welcome a new baby for our friends, and girl's night out. Here's what I have planned for this month. There are lots of links and recipes for you to use in your own homes also. Enjoy!


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Now What?

So, now what to do with the bounty of produce from our grocery trip this morning?

The strawberries have been cleaned and frozen for use in smoothies and breakfast ice cream (recipe courtesy of The Sneaky Chef). The grapes have been washed and cleaned and will be quickly eaten by the handful by DH. Bananas - I left 3 out for little man and froze 2 to use in breakfast ice cream. I will use several of the lemons to make a double batch of lemon blueberry muffins. Half of the peaches will be used for a peach cobbler for dessert tonight and the other half will be peeled, chopped and frozen to use in smoothies.

I wish I could say that we'll eat all this right away and not need to freeze any of it. Although, I'd rather stock up a bit now while the quality and prices are good so we can enjoy great produce this fall and winter too.

How do you handle great deals on produce? I'd love some other ideas!

What Can $75 Buy?

A LOT!!! We are fortunate to have a stockpile of meat right now, so I could indulge in some really great produce. I did get a rack of ribs and 5 packages of bacon at a great price - more bacon never hurts :) The rundown:

~ 4 lb grapes
~ 6 boxes frozen green veggies (peas, broccoli, spinach)
~ 2 quarts Coffee Mate
~ 5 lb bacon (buy 2 get 3 free at HT)
~ 3 lb baby back ribs
~ 1 package bagels
~ 3 boxes cereal (50% off at Kroger)
~ 2 big boxes Pop Tarts (50% off at Kroger)
~ 2 quarts Organic strawberry lemonade (clearance plus coupon - 50 cents each!)
~ 2 lb bananas
~ 2 lb organic strawberries
~ 2.5 lb organic peaches
~ 1.5 lb organic cherries
~ 6 lemons
~ 1 seedless cucumber
~ 1 quart organic yogurt
~ 1 loaf sourdough bread
~ 1 gallon organic milk

Harris Teeter - $35.14
Kroger - $33.26
Lowes Foods - $5.80

Total Spent this week- $74.20

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - July 27, 2009

We had company for most of last week and thoroughly enjoyed having a house full of friends. It will be a pretty quiet week around our house this week. I am leaving Friday for an overnight woman's conference - I am so excited! Our church group is going to see Beth Moore, Kay Arthur, and Priscilla Shirer at Deeper Still.

I am still trying to replenish our freezer and supply of homemade snacks. Please visit I'm An Organizing Junkie for hundreds more menu plans each week.

Weeknight Dinners:
  • Baked pasta with homemade spaghetti sauce and green salad
  • Cube steaks with pan fried potatoes and green beans
  • BLT sandwiches on sourdough bread with cucumber salad
  • Grilled fish (I'll wait until Wednesday to see the local store ads) or tequila lime chicken, rice, and grilled corn

Baking, Breakfast, Snacks:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - July 13

Our week is starting off with some much needed rain. Since we couldn't be outside, this was a good chance to get some freezer baking done. In a few short hours we have a supply of chocolate zucchini muffins, lemon blueberry muffins, and a banana chocolate chip cake ready to be cut. Not a bad morning at all!

As for the rest of the week ...
  • Baked pasta and green salad
  • Turkey breast in the crock pot with creamed corn and English muffins
  • Turkey enchiladas using this sauce recipe - I use black beans, corn, and spicy tomatoes as the filling
  • Homemade pizza with green salad
  • Grilled pork chops with grilled veggies and baked sweet potatoes
Head over and visit Org Junkie for hundreds more menu plans each week!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

July Menu Plan

It's summer!!!! This is a great time of year for our family - school's out, the days are longer, the vacations are abundant, and swimming is done almost daily. Our menu plan is pretty simple this month, with travel and the expected heat. I don't like to spend time in front of a hot stove or oven unless I have to.

Here's the plan, subject to change!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - June 29

I'm BACK!!! It's been a wild 2 weeks in our house with packing, settlement on the houses, and then moving. We are still nowhere near unpacked, but life must begin to return to normal. I have been surfing the internet looking for more yummy recipes to try and keeping some of our favorites in the rotation. With an empty freezer and full pantry, there will be lots of stocking up done this week. We leave Friday for a week at the beach, so I won't be posting a regular menu next week. I'll try to post some recipes for our beach favorites though. On to the food ...

Freezer, Breakfast, and Baked Goods:
Head over and see Laura for hundreds more menu plans!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Moving Weekend

It has arrived - this weekend is the big move into our new house. I am really looking forward to this process. Okay, not so much the hauling furniture on the hottest day of the year so far part, but the result! Our lives have been a little out of control lately and I know our family is suffering. Here are some of the many reasons I am looking forward to getting settled and getting back to normal ...

  • Spending time with little man and ENJOYING it - the past several weeks have been spent trying to keep him occupied while I clean, sort, and pack
  • Starting a Bible study at church - I have been far from God's word during this process and I miss Him desperately!
  • Menu planning - healthy, budget friendly, and easy meals have been few and far between the past 6 weeks.
  • Being truly happy in our home again - I mentally "checked out" of this house before we put it on the market and I have felt like I'm on an extended visit lately.
  • Getting over a feeling of discontent - I've been cranky, tired, irritable, and generally not pleasant to be around. I KNOW this and I am so ready to be OVER it!
I'll be back for Menu Plan Monday and will try to post more regularly from now on.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - June 8, 2009

We are back from a short trip to the beach and ready to hunker down and get serious about packing, cleaning up, and - my favorite! - cleaning out. Similar to last week, this week will be simple and easy in our house. Less than 2 weeks until the move! Visit Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie for more menu ideas.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - June 1

In the midst of summer fun and packing, we still have to eat. The past few weeks have been chaotic when it comes to meals - a lot of eating out, eating at grandma and grandpas, and eating not-so-healthy. This week, I'm back to a plan! We are heading to the beach on Thursday for the weekend, so I only have 3 meals planned.

For more inspiration, check out I'm An Organizing Junkie. Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

June Menu Plan

It's going to be a busy month for us - packing, moving, and settling in to a new place. I am planning to keep our meals simple and stick to our favorites while trying to use as much as possible from the pantry and freezer. There will be oodles of chicken used in the next few weeks since I have about 15 pounds of it in the freezer. I'm also turning back to my crock pot to help out while I spend as much time as possible with little man before the big move. I found a new recipe for banana bread also. It is much more decadent than our standard loaf and I'll use it more for a dessert than as a breakfast bread.


40 clove garlic chicken, egg noodles, carrots
Egg rolls and Asian coleslaw
Chicken quesadillas with refried black beans
Red wine and cranberry glazed pot roast, rice, broccoli with cheese sauce
Spaghetti, garlic breadsticks, salad
Grilled chicken - 2 or 3 times - served hot off the grill or chilled on salads
Homemade pizza - 2 times
Crock pot country style ribs, coleslaw, baked beans
Creamy Italian Chicken in crock pot with pasta and broccoli, cauliflower, carrot mix
Sour Cream Chicken with rice, mushroom gravy, and broccoli, cauliflower, carrot mix

Baking, Breakfast, Snacks:

Bacon and Cheddar biscuits - double batch for DH
Chocolate Chip biscuits
Waffles or pancakes - I'll make them this week and double the batch for easy breakfasts thru the month
Blueberry Lemon bread
Whole wheat banana strawberry muffins
Little man has been asking to make popsicles, so we'll be trying those later this week too!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - May 18

We didn't eat many of our planned meals last week, but we did eat every day! Most of the deviation came from our house being on the market and late afternoon showings. That's okay with me since it led to an offer! Hooray - under contract in 2 weeks. God is so good!!!! We also found a house that we love and the sellers accepted our bid. It's going to be a wild month here with inspections, packing, closing, and then moving. I am still planning to post a monthly menu plan for June, although it will be packed with easy meals and some tips for cook once, eat twice meals. Look for it later this week.

I'm going to be pretty un-inspiring over the next few week - head over to for more ideas!

Weeknight Dinners:
Baking and Snacks:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - May 11

I realized that I skipped last week. I didn't really mean to, but Monday got away from me and then it seemed silly to post on Tuesday. So - back to the routine this week! I am making a concerted effort this week to avoid the grocery store. I have more than enough food here, I just need to be creative in using it up.

Weeknight Dinners:
Baking, Freezer Cooking, Breakfasts:
I'll also be making 2 big batches of brownies for the youth chicken BBQ at our church. It will be a fun week at our house - little man starts karate lessons Monday and we'll be celebrating Daddy's birthday on Thursday.

For hundreds more menu plans, visit Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

To Bake or Buy?

I enjoy baking for my family. It's therapeutic and helps me to feel like I am fulfilling the role God designed for me as a wife and mother. However, the analytical side of me has wondered if some things are cheaper to buy (especially with grocers tripling coupon values). I saw this article on MSN yesterday and am thrilled that someone has done some of the work for me. I will wonder no more!