Sunday, November 29, 2009

From Mommy To Mom

I've been in denial for the past week. My little girl is growing up--no!! She turned 3 in October, and about a week ago, started calling me something I thought I wouldn't hear until she was about 9 or 10.

The word? Mom.

Growing up, I called my mother "Mommy" until I was 13 or 14 years old. I was a teen and had been feeling some peer pressure from friends because I called my mother "Mommy." I could tell it pained her when I started to call her "Mom," but I felt like I needed a more grown-up title for her (she had said many times that she didn't ever want to be called "Ma" or "Mama"). She took it in stride and tried to not let it bother her. I guess since I was her only daughter, she enjoyed being my "Mommy," not just my "Mom."

And I guess that I took for granted that I would be a "Mommy" for many years to come. My son is 5 1/2 yrs old and still calls me Mommy. But my daughter is my baby, for now at least until we have our next child (nothing on the horizon as of yet).

But out of the blue one day a week ago, she called me "Mom" and that term of endearment has stuck ever since. I have no clue where it came from. Her brother calls me Mommy, her cousins call my sister-in-law Mommy...maybe from a friend in her preschool?

I thought at first that it was just a phase, something she'd say a few times and that'd be it. But no, I've heard that word come out of her mouth every day ever since, and "Mommy" has ceased to be a part of her vocabulary.

I, too, feel some of the pain that my mother felt when I started calling her "Mom." And I, too, am trying to take it in stride. I know that my kids will continue to grow and try to do things their own way as they are their own unique person. They are both precious in my sight, and either way, I love being their Mommy/Mom.

Menu Plan Monday: 11/30-12/6/09

I'm so excited that the holiday season is here! A week ago today, I found myself surprised that Thanksgiving was so close and all the other holiday activities and traditions leading up to Christmas. Excited about them yes, but not really prepared for them. But I had a great 4-day weekend, and managed to get the Christmas tree and decorations up this past Friday. It definitely helped me get back in the right frame of mind, and it looks like we'll be able to do most, if not all, of the things on our list before year's end (without being stressed out trying to get them all done!).

Here's the menu plan for this week. Recipes will be posted throughout the week.

Monday--Chicken Fried Rice (an Angel Food Ministries meal, so no recipe will be posted), Sautee'd Cabbage, Squash
This is our weekly Family Home Evening night. We'll be discussing the gift of the Savior, and our activity will be making homemade ornaments to give as presents.

Tuesday--Turkey Shepherd Pie, Stuffing
This is one of the few "leftovers" meals that I can get my husband to eat. I use leftovers from Thanksgiving to make an entirely new meal. I was going to use extra chicken meat from a Rotisserie Chicken we had recently, but my mother-in-law gave me so much turkey leftover from Thanksgiving, so I'll just use the turkey instead and keep the cooked chicken in the freezer for another meal.

Wednesday--Family-Size Baked Burrito, Orange Slices, Celery Sticks

Thursday--Hotch Potch & Root Vegetables

This will be a busy day. My son has a field trip in the morning to see a condensed version of The Nutcracker ballet. I plan on taking some time off from work to go with him. My niece has a birthday party in the evening, and afterwards I'll be at my monthly girls' night out scrapbooking crop. I *think* there will be food at the birthday party, so hubs and the kids should be okay (if not, hubs will probably get some McDonald's or something for them). I'll eat when I get to the crop since dinner is provided.

Saturday--Country Ham and Macaroni Casserole, Tossed Salad
Another busy day! My daughter has dance class in the morning. Afterward, I'll take her and my son to a Gingerbread House Wonderland Breakfast at a local art gallery. We'll make gingerbread houses, drink hot cocoa, and eat some tasty muffins. In the afternoon, we'll go to the Christmas parade. Both of my kids get to ride on a float in the parade with their school!

Sunday--Chili Corn, Green Beans

For hundreds of menu plan options, visit!

Wok's For Dinner: Hamburger Vegetable Soup

I found this recipe over at A High And Noble Calling. I love homemade soup, but I don't make it very often since my husband is not a big fan of soup. But this recipe seemed really different and worth trying out. I am glad I did!

Hamburger Vegetable Soup

1/2 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
4 cups beef broth
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup chopped peeled tomato (I used one from our garden, so glad I grew these!)
1 medium carrot, diced or cut into thin strips (I sliced mine)
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp Worcestershire
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup pasta

Brown onion and bell pepper with ground beef in large skillet. Cook until ground beef is browned; drain fat. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, except for the corn, peas and noodles. Bring to a boil and add noodles. Reduce heat, add corn and peas and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

If freezing: After cooking, allow soup to cool then place in gallon-size freezer bag. You may want to split the soup into two freezer bags, depending on how much you made. Seal up the bag and lay flat then place in freezer. Thaw 24-48 hours in refrigerator. Heat in large saucepan then serve.

This soup was fantastic! I loved it! Hubs and even my son (the picky meat-eater) loved it! My daughter was in a weird mood and chose not to eat anything other than crackers, so I really can't vouche for her opinion. But it was really good, and I'm so glad that I found this recipe. The soup wasn't very soupy--the noodles had soaked up nearly all the broth. So it was more of a stoup (stew/soup) and really chunky, which I think contributed to receiving a stamp of approval from hubs. Great meal!

Wok's For Dinner: Cobb-Style Chicken Sandwiches

I've intended on making this meal several times (I've only held onto the recipe for about 6 years now!). You'd think I would have found time a long time ago, but it's just one of those recipes that I look at and thing "maybe" but never really get around to it. I had it on one of my monthly menu plans a few months ago, but it never made it to the table. But since I received several breaded chicken patties in my November Angel Food Ministries order, I decided to try them as a substitute for b/s chicken breasts and try out these sandwiches for a change.

Cobb Style Chicken Sandwich

4 slices bacon
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked (I used breaded chicken breast patties instead)
cheese slices (Swiss, cheddar, Monterrey Jack, etc.)
bread slices (Kaiser rolls would work great, but I used plain ol' white)
Dijon-style mustard
1 small tomato, thinly sliced (I used a tomato picked from our garden)
1/2 small ripe avocado, sliced
fresh lettuce leaves (I used some lettuce from our garden)

Cook chicken according to your preference (baked, sautee'd, grilled). Cook bacon over medium heat in a large skillet until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels; set aside. Brush cooked chicken with honey; top with cheese. Spread bread slices or Kaiser rolls with mustard and mayonnaise. Add chicken with cheese, bacon and toppings. Top with bread slice or roll top.

Delicious! Hubs really liked it, and it was an interesting change to supper. Why did I put of making it for so long??

Wok's For Dinner: Meatless Sicilian Supper

I've been a little behind posting some of the recipes from this past week. It seems like there is always something going on in our family. I can only imagine what it will be like when the kids get older and REALLY start having activities! We had this meal a few nights ago. I made several changes to the original recipe (found here) due to time and lack of motivation to make a complicated meal.

Meatless Sicilian Supper

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 sm. can sliced mushrooms
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
12oz pkg frozen beef substitute crumbles
15oz jar spaghetti sauce
8oz shell pasta
8oz shredded mozzarella cheese
Parmesan, grated

Heat oil in large skillet and cook onion, mushrooms and bell pepper until tender, stirring frequently. Add beef substitute crumbles and spaghetti sauce, stirring well to blend. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Stir cooked pasta into beef substitute crumbles mixture. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese and parmesan on top.

I was not impressed with this meal, sadly. I did not like the flavor at all. Maybe it was the beef substitute crumbles. Maybe it was the mushrooms. Maybe it was the "traditional" style jar of spaghetti sauce, and maybe it would have been different if I had doctored it up. Who knows? I will not repeat this particular recipe. :(

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

May you remember the blessings of this day and enjoy time spent with family and friends.

May your day be filled with happiness, kindness, love and gratitude.

Let us always give thanks to our God in Heaven above.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

And the winner is...

The winner of the Softsoap Nutri Serums Giveaway is...Lisa!
@ Simply Things Family
I would love either of them. My first
choice would be Vitamin E.

Congratulations, Lisa! I'll be contacting you by email shortly. :) was used to randomly select the winner for the giveaway.

Wok's For Dinner: Hot Pork Sandwich With Gravy

I wanted something hot to warm us up for supper this evening, since we'd be out at the downtown Christmas lighting event and it was supposed to get a little chilly. I had this meal on my monthly menu, and with the word "hot" in the recipe title, it seemed perfect. Plus, it'd be really easy and quick to make since I turned it into a freezer meal. The original recipe is here; I tweaked it a bit.

Hot Pork Sandwich With Gravy

1 package pork gravy mix, enough to make 1 cup gravy
3 pork chops, cooked
sliced bread, toasted

Prepare pork gravy according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat pork chops in microwave 1-2 minutes or until heated through. Serve pork chops over toasted bread and spoon some gravy on top.

If freezing: You can use pork chops or sliced pork roast. Whenever you make a pork recipe, prepare some extra chops or a larger roast. After cooking, take the extra pork and freeze in a food saver bag or freezer bag. Thaw 24 hours in fridge then heat & serve as directed above.

One word for tonight's meal: delicious! And so simple to make. Hubs is not a gravy fan, but even he liked this. (I think it's the homemade gravy he's truly opposed to because he thinks it's loaded with grease; good thing I don't make homemade gravy!)

Out of Stock? How About a Rain Check?

I didn't know what a rain check meant until a few years ago. I occasionally saw "sorry, no rain checks" in sales ads, but it wasn't until a trip to Michael's that I finally learned what it was. I had bought a Cricket (you know, one of those paper cutting machines for scrapbooking and cardmaking). I bought my Cricket from an infomercial, and it came with two cartridges. Soon after, Michael's had Cricket cartridges on sale for under $30 (a steal compared to regular price of $89.99!). I was determined to buy a cartrige, but the kind I wanted was out of stock. I happened to mention this to the cashier, and she offered to give me a rain check.

Sounds great...What's a rain check?

And she proceeded to explain that it's like a coupon. I get a little slip of paper that says I can buy that item at a later time for the sale price because it was out of stock when I tried to purchase it.


But I've been very bad about utilizing rain checks ever since until recently. It never occurred to me that I could use a rain check at a grocery or discount store, until I saw little rain check tear-off pads at Target in the grocery section. And then I read an article in the December '09 All You about a reader who uses rain checks.

And that's when I decided that I would do the same thing!

So this past Saturday, I did some stockpiling. Target had canned goods at rock bottom prices, like the Del Monte vegetables I bought. They also had Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup on sale for $0.49/each. I was really excited about the sale on the soup because I had two coupons that I intended to use, too. But I was really disappointed because there were only two cans left, and both cans were VERY badly dented.

There wasn't a rain check tear-off pad for the cream of mushroom soup, so I took a dented can with me to check out. I showed it to the cashier and asked for a rain check. She offered to give me 10% off. Uh, no way (not for as bad off as that can was!). And that's when I learned that Customer Service offered the rain checks. The cashiers can't do it at the register at Target.
So after paying for my purchases (not including the beat-up soup), I took the soup to Customer Service and got my first Target rain check! Both of my coupons will save me $1/4 cans, so I got the rain check for 8 cans of cream of mushroom soup. So assuming Target replenishes their cream of mushroom supply by 1/1/2010 (the expiration date on the coupons), I will end up paying $0.24 per can!

One final note: if you get a rain check, look out for an expiration date. I don't remember Michael's having an expiration date on that Cricket cartridge rain check, but the rain check from Target is good through 1/6/2010.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bargain Buy

I did some shopping this past Saturday. The deals out there were just too good to be true, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to do some stockpiling. Makes me wish it were Thanksgiving every week, so the sales will always be great!

Here are some highlights:


My kids love the breadsticks & cheese at Walgreens. They're only $1, making each little individual package only $0.20, so I grabbed every package they had.

Piggly Wiggly

This store isn't in the overly nicest part of town, but some of their sale items are rock bottom and too good to pass up.

Piggly Wiggly brand canned vegetables & beans were on sale. I picked up plenty of vegetables at Target, so I focused on canned beans. At $0.50, they were quite a steal.


Campbell's Select Harvest canned soups were on sale for $1.52. I bought 6 cans and used two coupons for $1.50/3, bringing the price of these soups down to $1.02 each.

Del Monte canned vegetables were only $0.45 each! Cha-ching! I really packed the shopping cart with these. No, we won't eat them overnight. They'll become part of our food storage supply, and we'll work our way through these and rotate them out as I find other great sales on canned vegetables.

My son is eating us out of house & home when it comes to batteries. I find it hard to believe that every battery-operated contraption in his room has gone kapoot all at the same time! But Target bailed me out by putting batteries on sale for $7.99, so I grabbed AAA, AA, C & D packages. We'll see how long these last...!


I've been eye-balling the Snack Pack puddings for a long time. IGA seems to be the cheapest at $1.08 per 4-pk. But the deal got even better when they reduced the price down to $1/4pk! So I stock piled these. They definitely won't last long. I used 3 $1/4pk coupons, so after buying 12 4-pk's, I only paid $0.75 for each 4 pack.

Even our kitties won't miss out on a good deal. They eat dry cat food, but they love having some wet cat food as a little treat every so often. It's been awhile since I last bought some wet cat food, so they're going to go crazy when they see me dish some up for them. Each 4 pack was on sale for $1.49. I used a $1/3 coupon, bringing the cost down to $1.16 per pack.

Duncan Hines cake mixes were marked down to just $0.88 each!! I haven't seen this great a deal in who knows how long. I bought almost every flavor they had. No coupons used, but didn't really need them with such a fantastic deal.
Boxes of Stove Top stuffing mix were marked down to $0.78 each! I don't make this very often, but it's nice to have on-hand when I get in the mood to make something like Stuffed Pork Chops.

3lb bags of apples were marked down. Granny Smiths were $2.99 each, and Red Delicious apples were $2.49 each. I weighed each bag, and got the heaviest bags. They may be labled as 3lb bags, but that's the minimum weight they have to weigh. So when I buy bagged fruit or vegetables, I buy the heaviest bag, excluding any that have badly bruised, rotten or molded fruit, which I rarely find anyways. Both of these bags weighed nealy 4 pounds!! Definitely a bargain buy.

Finally, I stocked up on some bottled water, another food storage item I purchase little by little. 24pk cases 1/2 liter bottles of Deer Park were just $2.99. I bought two cases and used a $1/2 coupon, which made each case only $2.49 each.

The nice thing about the deals at IGA are that they are good through Thanksgiving, instead of expiring this past Saturday. I may go back and snag some more bargains. :)

What bargains have you found recently? Please share your experiences with a commen below!

Wok's For Dinner: Ham Jambalaya

Tonight's meal reminded me of a gumbo, except without the okra. The recipe came from Ham: 365, a free cookbok I got in the mail a couple months ago. I was pleasantly surprised by how well it turned out.

Ham Jambalaya

1 1/2 cups cubed ham
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped green sweet pepper
1 stalk celery, diced (not in recipe, I added this)
1 tsp minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes (I used diced tomatoes)
1 14 oz can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp Cajun seasoning

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion, sweet pepper, celery and garlic in hot oil about 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in undrained tomatoes, chicken broth, ham and Cajun seasoning. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Serve over cooked rice. (The recipe suggests using quick-cooking rice and cooking it right in the skillet with the ham mixture.)

If freezing: Prepare as directed, excluding rice. After cooking ham mixture, place in gallon-size freezer bag, squeeze out the air & seal. Lay flat and freeze. Thaw 24 hours in refrigerator. Heat in a microwave-safe bowl for 4-5 minutes or until heated through. Serve over cooked rice.

Wow, this meal was really good! It was a definitely change from our usual way of eating ham, but it was a good change. While it was heating in the microwave (this was a freezer meal), hubs commened that supper smelled really good. Ah, blush! Everyone enjoyed it, excluding my son who chose to be picky. Oh well, I give this 4 out of 5 stars. **** :)

Wok's For Dinner: Chicken Divan

We had this meal for dinner Sunday evening. It got pushed back due to us not eating supper Saturday night. Well, hubs and I skipped supper and fed the kids sandwiches. We ate such a late lunch that night, that a big meal just didn't seem appetizing. Which was quite all right because this meal is definitely worth waiting for. I found this recipe in one of my aunt's cookbooks many, many years ago and it's been a hit with everyone I've ever made it for. It's one of my husband's favorites and he was definitely happy to see me serve it up.

Chicken Divan

2 cups frozen chopped broccoli
3 Tbsp butter or margarine
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
dash ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, monterrey jack, colby--your choice)
1 1/2 cups cubed, cooked chicken or turkey
2 slices of American cheese, broken into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange broccoli along the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch casserole dish. Add cooked chicken on top of broccoli. Meanwhile, for sauce, in a medium saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, nutmeg and pepper until blended with butter. Add chicken broth and milk. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Pour cheese sauce over chicken and broccoli. Place small pieces of American cheese on top and sprinkle with paprika. Bake in oven about 20 minutes, or until heated through.

If freezing: I think the best option for this meal as a freezer meal is to keep it simple. Cook your chicken ahead of time and freeze it. Then pull the chicken out and thaw in refrigerator for 24 hours. Use chicken as indicated in recipe.

After all these years, this is still a classic recipe that our family enjoys! Hubs had a few helpings, our daughter ate every bite on her plate, and our son finished off most of his (he's picky about meat lately). All-in-all, a great-tasting meal enjoyed by all. :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Softsoap Nutri Serums Giveaway: It's not too late!

If you haven't done so already, there's still time to enter my giveaway for two sample-size bottles of Softsoap Nutri Serums. The giveaway ends on Tuesday, Nov. 24. Click here for details & to submit your entries (you can enter up to 3 times!).

Menu Plan Monday--11/23-11/29/09

And so the holiday season truly begins...I'm looking at the calendar for the next 6 weeks and I am absolutely flabbergasted. We will be BUSY! Not that I'm complaining. We like having our annual holiday traditions (some of them listed below) and making memories for our children. But it's times like this when I could take 2 or 3 weeks off from work so I'll at least have time to relax! :)

Here's our menu plan for this week. As always, I'll post recipes throughout the week, so keep checking in. :)

Monday--Ham Jambalaya, Rice, Sugar Snap Peas (from the garden)
Mondays are our weekly "Family Home Evening" (FHE), where we have special activities and lessons with the kids. Our activity/lesson will be about giving thanks, and we'll read a few new books the kids got about Thanksgiving Day.

Tuesday--Hot Pork Sandwich With Gravy, Squash (from the garden), Homemade Applesauce
Hubs and the kids will pick me up from work so we can go to the downtown Christmas lighting celebration. The entire event is free, and kids can get a picture with Santa Claus. The Grinch is also known to make an appearance. There's hot chocolate & apple cider, crafts to make "reindeer food," and horse-drawn trolley rides. We'll eat supper when we get home.

Wednesday--Meatless Sicilian Supper, Oranges
Pie baking night! That's my task for tomorrow's dinner, so I know what I'll be doing until the wee hours of the night. Even my husband helps out. He makes a crazy good apple pie! Believe me, it's good! It's my aunt's recipe, which hubs has perfected. And he's not even comfortable making macaroni & cheese on the stove! But he does a good job on the pie. I'll be making pumpkin and pecan pies. Both come out fantastic every time. My mom was the best pie maker of all time. I wish that I had been smart and hunted down her recipes before she passed away.

Thursday--Thanksgiving at the in-laws'!

Friday--Cobb Style Chicken Sandwiches, Cucumbers (from the garden), Carrots, Celery
Black Friday. Normally, I do the crazy morning shopping, but I'm not interested in it this year. I'll be shopping tomorrow, so I'll give my husband the opportunity to go out, and I'll stay home with the kids for a change.

This day has become a traditional girls' out all-day shopping day. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law and I, and this year my aunt-in-law and cousin-in-law will all head to Fayetteville for shopping at craft stores--JoAnn's, Hobby Lobby and A.C. Moore (we don't have these stores in our area). Then the guys and kids will drive to Fayetteville and meet us to watch The Heart of Christmas Show.

Sunday--Hamburger Vegetable Soup, Crackers, Pears
Finally, a day of rest!

For all the best menu plan options, visit!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's A Date!

With our busy schedules, my husband and I don't always get a chance to have one-on-one time away from the kids (aside from sitting on the couch in the evenings after the kids go to bed!). We try to plan a date night at least once a month. Sometimes the date is within our own home where we pop some popcorn and watch a movie. Sometimes we get a rare treat of a babysitter so we can get out of the house and do something together.

Tonight was definitely a rare treat. We took the opportunity to let my husband's younger brother watch the kids so hubs and I could go see a play. I actually forgot the name of the play we were seeing and went into the theatre expecting to see It's a Wonderful Life, only to realize just prior to the first scene that we were seing Miracle on 34th Street!

Sometimes, I really have to wonder about my mind. :) Must be "Mommy Brain" syndrome! lol

Anyhow, it was a great evening out, and we even went to Dairy Queen and got a blizzard. Yummm....!!

A Frugal-Minded Husband

I can definitely tell that my frugal-mindedness has rubbed off. My husband has received several gift cards to Bass Pro Shops over the past year or so. He's been holding onto them like glue, waiting for the "perfect" deal to get.

After a trip to Charlotte (and to Bass Pro Shops) a couple weeks ago, he came home with a sausage stuffer and a couple packages of sausage mix. It was only a matter of time before he started cooking.

Since I went scrapbooking tonight and hubs would have some quiet time, he decided to try out the new sausage stuffer, seasoning packet and casings. I came home to a scent that was heavenly--it made my stomach growl!

He had several homemade summer sausage logs baking in the oven. I was ready to pull one out and dig in but managed to hold myself back so I could post a picture. :)

The reason this post is about a frugal-minded husband is because our family has appetizer-type food for dinner Christmas Eve each year. Those store-bought summer sausage logs are expensive! But not this year. The sausage stuffer and supplies were free since hubs used his gift cards, so the only real out of pocket expense was some ground pork and ground beef that he bought earlier today, which amounted to about $7. He made 5 summer sausages, and since a summer sausage usually costs well over $5 apiece...well, you do the math. Cha-ching, savings!

Did I mention that hubs cleaned up all the sausage stuffer equipment so I didn't have to?!! I guess that I've taught him well!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Money-Wise: Using Bulk Meat

Piggly Wiggly recently had pork loins on sale for $1.49 a pound, and with a sale like that, I quickly snatched up a large loin so I could take it home, slice it up and freeze it for future meals. I had enough freezer meals to last a month, so I didn't exactly need more meat immediately. But the deal was too good to let pass.

So tonight, since I was in a frugal mood (having made homemade chicken broth already), I went ahead and pulled the pork loin out of the fridge so I could cut it up into chops and freeze them for a later day.

When I cut raw meat, I place it on a large cutting board and whip out the electric knife from the top shelf in the cupboard. I bought this for my husband as a Christmas present many years ago (something he insisted he had to have if I expected him to carve the T-day turkey) but it's gotten a lot more use from me using it to cut up my bulk meat purchases.

In addition to cutting chops from the loin, I use the electric knife to slice off the thick layer of fat that's on the back side of the loin. It's not exactly the healthiest part of the pork loin, so I certainly won't miss it.

And after cutting up the whole loin (8.36lbs according to the package label), I divided the meat up into 10 meals. I had 3-4 chops for each meal, depending upon how thick or thin I cut each chop (the thinner chops were grouped in 4's and the thicker chops in 3's).

The chops were then sealed up in food saver bags, and voila! Ready for the freezer! You could probably use freezer bags or some heavy duty foil for the meat, but I prefer the food saver bags. In my opinion, the food saver keeps the meat fresher for longer than the freezer bags, since there's no sauce or anything to help preserve the meat in the bag.

So I may have spent $12.46 for the whole loin, but broken down into the actual cost per meal, it's just $1.25/meal! What a bargain!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Homemade Chicken Broth

Yesterday, I reported that we had a Rotisserie Chicken for dinner, a rather large chicken that my husband cooked up on the grill and had ready for us by the time I got home from work.

In years' past, if we had a whole chicken for dinner, I would have thrown out the entire carcass and not thought a thing about it. But that changed a couple years ago. Now, there is abosolutely no way that I will throw out the chicken bones without at least trying to make some homemade chicken broth. It's a simple and very easy way to save a little off our grocery bill, and I'm definitely up for any proven cost-saving method I can get my hands on!

So last night, after supper was over and long after the kids went to bed, I spent some time in the kitchen getting ready to make chicken broth.

I took all the meat off the bones, and set the meat aside for two meals, Chicken Divan, and Chicken Shepherd Pie. I also prepared the bones and the crock-pot and made some homemade chicken broth.

The first step after deboning the chicken is to place all the bones, skin, whatever-you're-not-going-to-eat pieces into a large slow cooker. Now, this is the simplest method for making homemade chicken broth. Scroll down below for the recipe to making Chicken Stock, which involves a little more effort.

After putting the chicken bones, skin, etc., into the crock, cover everything with water. Put your cover on, set the temperature to "LOW" and simply forget about the crock. Well, not exactly. Depending on what time it is in the evening when you get your slow cooker prepared, you can finish out your evening, or go to bed.

While you're dreaming, the slow cooker will gradually pull out all the wonderful, yummy, delicious juices from the chicken bones creating a tasty "stock" that will be waiting for you when you wake up in the morning. And, more than likely, you will wake up to the sound of your stomach growling (like mine this morning) instead of your alarm clock!

So when you get up, turn off the crock. Get a ladel or large spoon, a wire mesh colander or strainer, and a few quart-size freezer bags. Use the ladel to scoop out all the bones, chicken pieces, etc., from the crock and dump them into the colander as you hold it over the crock-pot. Sorry, I didn't think to take any pictures of the whole process.

Dump the chicken pieces into a large plastic bag, tie it closed and place it into the garbage. You're done with them.

Your chicken broth will still be really hot, too hot for freezer bags, so place your crock-pot into the fridge to cool it off. This will also cause all the chicken fat to congeal and float on top of the broth, so you can easily skim it off with a spoon later in the day when you're ready to finish packaging your broth. See below:

Back home from work, chicken broth has cooled down considerably from being in the fridge all day, and now I ca skim off the chicken fat. Yuck, yuck, yuck. Working with a chicken carcass and poultry fat is never a pleasant task for me, but the end result is worth it.

After skimming off the chicken fat, you're ready to bag some broth. Grab a few quart-size freezer bags, label & date them, and fold over the top edges. This helps prevent spillage from getting all over the bags. You might spill some, but I find this helps keep the bags from getting too messy.

Using a measuring cup, measure out 2 cups of broth for each freezer bag. Squeeze out the air, seal and lay flat, then freeze. And you're done!

To thaw, simply place a bag of broth onto a plate in the fridge and allow to thaw for 24 hours. Your homemade chicken broth is perfect as a starter for homemade soup, or a great substitute for water when you cook rice.

So as promised, here's the recipe for a "suped up" version of Homemade Chicken Broth. We'll call it Chicken Stock to differentiate between the two. :)

Chicken Stock


1 tsp olive oil

1 onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped leaves and tops of celery
1 cup coarsely chopped carrots
carcass from whole chicken, or 1 lb chicken backs and necks
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme or 1 tsp dried
4 sprigs parsley or 2 Tbsp dried
6 black peppercorns or 1 tsp ground black pepper
2 whole cloves
8 cups water


Pour the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrots and fry to release their voatile oils, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken parts, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, peppercorns and cloves. Pour in the water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2-4 hours, adding more water if necessary. Skim off any form that rises to the surface. Pour through a fine strainer, discard the solids. Strain off all the fat.

Remember that regardless of which method you use to make your homemade chicken broth, it can be frozen for up to 6 months. Enjoy your homemade broth! ;)

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