Sunday, January 31, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: 2/1-2/7/10

I'm back! And I am absolutely exhausted. I took a very long nap this afternoon, so long that I didn't even make supper. The kids had marshmallows, granola bars, raisins and pudding for supper, and hubs is munching on chips right now. Not anywhere close to being a nutritious meal, but what can you do? I totally failed to follow my menu plan for last week, so a few of the meals below are repeats. Now that I've gotten the long scrapbooking weekend over (I completed 75 12x12 pages--woohoo!), I can get back into the swing of things and a normal routine.

Here's what is on our menu for this week. I'll post recipes throughout the week, so check back often.

Monday--Baked Potato Soup for the Crockpot, Dinner Rolls
This is our weekly "Family Home Evening" or FHE night. We're having "Haircuts and Bubblebaths." The kids will get a haircut and a bubble bath afterwards. My daughter got a homemade bubble bath kit, so we'll mix up some of it for her to use in her bath. I'll also cut my hubbie's hair, but he'll probably just have a shower afterwards. :)

Tuesday--Rice Casserole, Pears, Vegetables Sicily
Hubs gets to put supper together since I'll need to leave early to go to Mutual, the Young Women's weekly activity at church. That is, if the weather holds up. We are undergoing very icy conditions right now. Our road is terrible, and there's no telling what I'll wake up to and when I'll be back to make it in to work (I'm thinking I'll have to go in late). We're due for rain on Tuesday, which will freeze over the snow and ice we have right now. It'll be an interesting week.

Wednesday--Chicken and Broccoli Casserole, Oranges, Squash
Hubs has a meeting at church this evening, so my plan is to get this meal whipped up and served before he has to leave. If it's not ready, he'll eat when he gets home. The nice thing about freezer meals is that we know what we're supposed to eat each night, assuming I stick to the menu plan. Before I started planning my meals, we played the "what's for dinner" game nearly every day. If hubs had a meeting or worked late, he would stop at a fast food place on his way home, which meant we spent more on food and eating out, and food would go to waste because it didn't all get eaten up. Anyhow, thank goodness for freezer meals!

Thursday--Thai Venison Burritos, Celery Sticks, White Rice

Friday--Chicken Pot Pie

Saturday--Potato Pizza, Green Beans

Sunday--Breakfast: Arme Ritter (German Poor Knight Fritters, which are kind of like French Toast); Supper: Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches, Garlic Oven Fries, Fruit Salad

For hundreds of menu plan options, visit!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Spectacular Sides: Pistachio Salad

Ha. I'm looking at this picture and I'm reminded of The Blob. Thankfully, this blob did not grow inside and digest people! It tastes rather good, actually!

Pistachio Salad

1 pkg instant pistachio pudding (you could use another flavor like banana, vanilla, or chocolate)
1 tub (12oz) whipped topping
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Using a wire whisk, mix pudding with whipped topping in a large bowl. Fold in nuts. Serve & enjoy!

This is also really good with a 20oz can of crushed pineapple (in pineapple juice) mixed in. I didn't have any, so I made do without, and it still tasted great. The kids, of course, loved it!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Cooking With Food Storage Made Eas

This book, Cooking With Food Storage Made Easy, by Debbie G. Harman, is awesome! I ordered it a couple months ago and have quickly grown to love it. It's an easy-to-read helpful guide to understand and utilize your bulk, long-term food storage in a practical and easy way. The recipes are designed to save you money, and there are plenty of helpful tips for growing your garden, preserving fruits, vegetables and meat, plus loads of recipes. The book has a really cute country theme, love it! I'm really curious about the recipe for Pinto Bean Fudge...seriously?

Right now, you can get the hardcover cookbook for just $17.06 (a 10% discount off the list price!) over here at

Happy Food Storing! :)

Conversions & Substitutions: Emergency Substitutes

It's been quite a long time since my last Conversions & Substitutions post. I found one labeled as "emergency substitutions" as I was sorting through some food storage paperwork. I don't know where it came from, but it was too good to pass up the opportunity to post it and help out anyone out there who might need some assistance.

If you're missing an ingredient, take a quick glance at this list before making a mad dash to the grocery store.

If you don't have...
Baking Powder, 1 tsp
Then Use...
1/2 tsp cream of tartar plus 1/4 tsp baking soda

Balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbsp...1 Tbsp cider vinegar or red wine vinegar plus 1/2 tsp sugar

Buttermilk, 1 cup...1 Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar plus enough milk to equal 1 cup (let stand 5 minutes before using) or 1 cup plain yogurt

Flour, self-rising, 1 cup...1cup all-purpose flour plus 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp baking soda

Half-and-half or light cream, 1 cup...1 Tbsp melted butter or margarine plus enough whole milk to make 1 cup

Onion, chopped, 1/2 cup...2 Tbsp dried minced onion or 1/2 tsp onion powder

Tomato sauce, 2 cups...3/4 cup tomato paste plus 1 cup water

Mustard, dry, 1 tsp...1 Tbsp yellow mustard

Cayenne pepper, ground, 1/8 tsp...2-3 drops of bottled hot pepper sauce

Apple pie spice, 1 tsp...1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/8 tsp ground allspice and a dash of ground ginger

Cajun seasoning, 1 Tbsp...1/2 tsp white pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp ground red pepper, 1/2 tsp paprika, and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Fresh snipped herbs, 1 Tbsp...1/2 - 1 tsp dried herbs

Poultry seasoning, 1 tsp...3/4 tsp dried sage and 1/4 tsp dried thyme

Pumpkin pie spice, 1 tsp...1/2 tsp...1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground allspice, and 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

For the following spice substitutions, start with half the amount the recipe calls for (unless directed otherwise) and add to suit your taste.

Allspice, ground...ground cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves

Chili powder...dash of bottled hot pepper sauce plus equal measures of ground oregano and cumin

Cloves, ground...ground allspice, cinnamon or nutmeg

Cumin, ground...chili powder

Paprika...cayenne pepper (just a dash since it is hotter than paprika)

For more Conversions & Substitutions, click here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here! :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Out of the Office

I will be "out of the office" for a few days so I can go scrapbooking at a retreat. I promise that I have posted recipes and helpful hints for the few days that I'm out so you won't miss a beat while I'm gone. Be back soon!

Game Day Recipes & Hot Coupons At Kraft!

Some AWESOME coupons to be had over at Kraftfoods, just in time for the big game (a.k.a. Super Bowl)--check these out!
  • $1/2 Capri Suns
  • $1/1 Clausen pickles
  • $1/2 Kraft Deluxe or Velveeta Shells and Cheese
  • $1/1 Kraft grated parmesan cheese
  • $1/1 Oscar Mayer bologna$1/1 Oscar Mayer meat
  • $1/4 Philadelphia cream cheese
  • $1/2 Planters mixed nuts
  • $1/1 Velveeta cheese

There's also great tips and recipes for game day.

Thanks, Melissa's Bargain Blog!

Spectacular Sides: Garlic Mashed Potatoes

If you've never made roasted garlic before, then you are missing out on a delicious addition of flavor to your meals!'s good!

Our family loves mashed potatoes, and although we all like the traditional version with just butter, milk, salt & pepper, we all go "ga ga" whenever I make this particular mashed potato recipe. It is that good!

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

2 - 2 1/2 lbs potatoes
1 whole garlic bulb
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp butter or margarine
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 Tbsp dried chives

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel potatoes and cut into even-size pieces. Place in a large pot of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, take grab your garlic bulb.

Separate garlic cloves, but do not peel them. Place in a bowl, add olive oil and toss to coat.

Place garlic cloves on a baking sheet.
Roast in oven until softened, about 10 minutes. Allow roasted garlic to coo slightly.

Drain potatoes and return to pot, or place in a large mixing bowl. Add sour cream and butter. Squeeze pulp from garlic cloves into pot.
Mash potatoes with either a potato masher, or do like I do, and use an electric mixer (I prefer mine creamy, not lumpy). Add salt, pepper and chives. Mash potatoes until combined and smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wok's For Dinner: Fleischpflanzl

I've reverted to my German roots. When I created my menu for this month's freezer meals, I kept thinking about the Germany recipes that were in my family cookbook. I actually got the original recipe from a college roommate who had put together a family cookbook for her family reunion (that's what gave me the idea to put together my own family cookbook, and I included this plus lots of other family & non-family recipes). Anyhow, thinking that "one day I'll make some of these recipes," I've overlooked them time and time again. But this time, I figured it was time to make at least one of the German recipes, and I thought this would be a good one to try out on the family. And in case you noticed, yes, I did change tonight's meal. This particular one didn't even make it on the menu plan for this week. It's a bit too warm to make potato soup, and I thought it best to avoid a family (hubs) revolt...for now. We're due for a wintry mix this weekend, and I might sneak in the potato soup when I get back from my scrapbooking retreat. We'll see!


1 lb lean ground pork (I used ground venison)
1 lb lean ground beef
4-5 slices stale bread
1 onion, diced fine
1 Tbsp parsley leaves, or 1 bunch fresh parsley, snipped fine
2 eggs
salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
pinch flour
cheese slices, optional

Saute' the onion and add parsley. Stir, then remove from heat. In a large bowl, mix onion and parsley with meatl, salt and pepper. Moisten the bread thoroughly with water; squeeze out, and stir into the meat mixture. When well blended, sprinkle with a little flour and mix again. Form meat mixture into small flat patties. Cook in skillet over medium heat until browned, cooked through & juices run clearn. You can also cook these up on a grill just like hamburgers.

Yummy! I liked the flavor that the venison added, much healthier than using pork, too. I guess this means that I should use some of the other German recipes, so I can feel like my ancestors and make recipes similar to what they would have made way back when.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wok's For Dinner: Crock-pot Chicken & Vegetables

This meal was bad. Bad, bad, bad. Not-enough-worth-posting-the-recipe bad! I don't know exactly where or how it went wrong. The vegetables were undercooked, so I had to mash 'em up and load 'em up with butter so we could at least swallow them. And the chicken was like eating saw dust. No good! Bad, bad, bad!



Monday, January 25, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons

What a weekend, and what a week. Things are just going terribly. It all started with my tin-can-on-wheels that broke down with me Saturday morning. Little Miss and I had gone to dance class, then went to our host church to pick up our January Angel Food Ministries order. While waiting in line, the car started overheating. It didn't get too hot, but enough that I could smell the antifreeze burning and see the smoke coming out of the engine. What...??!! I turned the heater on full blast, said and quick prayer, and the temperature--although it didn't go down--stayed the same. Whew! Or so I thought.

As we left to head home, the needle crept closer & closer towards the red. In less than a mile, the dashboard was dinging at me, the water temp was completely all the way up as high as it could go, and the heater was blowing cold, cold air. Ugh! I managed to pull over at the first thing I saw, a seafood restaurant. Little Miss had to use the facilities, and meanwhile, I was silently screaming and panicking that I didn't have my cell phone, what was I going to do, I had frozen food in the trunk that was going to thaw and go bad, and how in the world was I going to get home...?

I tried to stay calm, and that's when I noticed that, not only had I broken down in front of a seafood restaurant, I was also broke down in front of a mechanic shop!! A mechanic shop that was OPEN on a Saturday!! Halleluia! I was singing me some praises! I was still a bit panicked, but the shop owner was very kind, and the mechanic didn't charge me a dime. What a blessing. :)

So anyhow, enough rambling. There have been plenty of ups & downs since the car incident two days ago.

Still, I am optomistic. Even when things don't go as planned, I continue to remain focused and optomistic.

For instance, I planned on getting up at 5:30am today. That did not happen. I tried but could barely open my eyes and snoozed the alarm more than once. The good news? I still got up at a decent time, took a bath, put on make-up, fed the kids breakfast, got their lunches & my own lunch made, went through my son's homework folder, and managed to read a chapter from The Good Book.

And when my son came running into my bedroom this morning, naked as the day he was born...I didn't get angry, didn't snap at him for waking me up before the crack of dawn. I calmly asked him what happened ("I was sweaty") and instructed him to meet me in the bathroom so I could start his bath water.

And when I was swamped at work with the usual stuff that needed to get done, plus a re-hired employee orientation I needed to do, plus, plus, plus, I thanked my maker for the busyiness because it means I can provide for my family.

And while I sit here next to my Christmas tree, a semi-permanent living room least for now...I am thankful for One who sacrificed all He had. And I know that my trials are temporary. And really, in the grand scheme of things, does it matter that my car broke down, that my mind and body will not cooperate with my heart, that my almost-6-year-old son is a mommy's boy, that my husband loves his family and wants to do something for us, a little thing called a kitchen remodel, so that there's no room or space to walk around or put things so the Christmas decor can get stored away, or that I find work frustrating and overwhelming at times? I suppose, not in the eternal perspective.

So I will not let the occurrences of the past few days drag me down. Instead, I'll keep my chin up, and put my trust and reliance in Him, as it should be.

To-Do Tuesday: Week 3

I almost--almost--got everything checked off last week's list. Alas, I have given up putting away the Christmas decorations. There isn't any way the boxes can come down from the attic so long as my adorable hubbie has the kitchen and dining room in the state of disarray that they currently are. He's the kind of guy that gets "gung ho" about a project and doesn't want to put off starting, so he immediately begins the new project, forgetting that there might be something else that needs to get done first. I've always been attracted to my hubbie's gung-ho enthusiasm because it definitely gets done (I'm the procrastinator of the family). So at this point, the thought has crossed my mind to cut out paper hearts, put them on the Christmas tree with the other ornaments, and call it a Valentine's tree (and plastic Easter eggs for Easter, and little red white & blue flags for Memorial Day & Independence Day... ;).

Here's what I've put on this week's To-Do List. You can view Week 1 here, and Week 2 here.
  • I'm keeping the "put away Christmas decorations" task on the list, but I know that it won't happen this week. Still, I'll leave it on the back burner just in case a miracle happens and I can at least pull down the totes from the attic.
  • √Super clean the bathroom. I wipe down the sink, toilet & tub at least a couple days a week, but every few weeks I do a major cleaning job. I clean the baseboards, wipe down the outside of the cat litter box, rearrange some of the cabinets if they get unorganized...I've even been known to pull out a stiff toothbrush and use it to clean hard to reach places on the floor (a toothbrush used just on the floor, of course, not one for anyone's teeth! lol).
  • √Go to the New Beginnings Young Women's activity.
  • √Send back the Shoppers' Hotline scanner. We ditched our local & long distance phone service provider and got ourselves a Magic Jack several months ago. It was great for us, but not so great for the scanner. The scanner is not compatible, and the only option was to cash in my points for a rewards card ($20, woohoo!) and return the scanner. Aside from getting the money, there is one bright note. I no longer have to scan all my grocery purchases each week.
  • Wake up at 5:30am 4 days this week. I managed to conquer the comfy bed and alarm clock and woke up at 5:30am 3 days last week. Well, sort of. I woke up, but laid in bed about 15-20 minutes, then crawled out. So this week I want to actually get out of bed. I'm conditioning myself to get out of bed early so that I will have no excuse to not exercise in the morning. Right now, I am doing a good job of Maximizing my Mornings. I get up, read a chapter from The Book, and I even get to accomplish mini tasks like unloading the dishwasher and folding a load of laundry. Yea!
  • √Get some blog posts created in advance since I will be going out of town on a scrapbooking retreat. (Yes! Time to relax and rejuvenate and get caught up on one of my favorite activities.)
  • √Go on the scrapbooking retreat, enjoy myself, and get loads of pages done so I can get caught up.

This post is linked to Week 49 at Crazy Adventure's in Parenting.

Wok's For Dinner: Honey BBQ Chicken Thighs

I have this recipe in the "appetizer" section of a family cookbook that I put together many years ago. It's supposed to be a wings recipe, but I thought it would work out good for some chicken thighs that I had. To make this into an easy freezer meal, I separated the chicken meat from the bones after they finished cooking (this helps it fit in the freezer better).

Honey BBQ Wings

1- 1/2 lbs chicken legs or wings
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 cup barbecue sauce
1/8 cup honey
1 tsp prepared mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
hot sauce (Texas Pete, Tabasco, your choice), to taste, optional

Rinse chicken and pat dry. If using wings, cut off & discard wing tips, then cut each wing at joint to make two sections. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken in a slow cooker. Combine remaining ingredients together and pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours or on high 2-2 1/2 hours.

These are really, really good, even off the bone. Makes me want to go cook up some wings right now just thinking about it. If you noticed in the picture, there wasn't a whole lot of sauce on my chicken. I'm watching what I eat, so I opted for the flavor but less sauce. Still tasted good. :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Spectacular Sides: Sautee'd Apples

I found this particular recipe a year or so ago at and it's been a hit with the family every time. These apples are just as good, if not better, than the restaurants that serve a similar side dish.

Here's my version:

Sautee'd Apples

1/4 cup butter
4 large apples - peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick (I use any kind of apple--granny smith, red delicious...whatever I have on-hand)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup brown sugar (original recipe says 1/2 cup, but I prefer to cut it in half)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


In a large skillet or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; add apples. Cook, stirring constantly, until apples are almost tender, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Dissolve cornstarch in water; add to skillet.

Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and serve warm.

Menu Plan Monday: 1/25-1/31/1

I haven't had the best of weekends. My car broke down yesterday--my freezer meal cooking day, of all things--so I got a really late start and had to postpone several of the meals until today. In fact, I'm still not done. I have 2 more meals to make after this post. Crikey! And because I was so strapped for time and feeling the "pressure," I changed up a few of my meals and crossed out a couple (misplacing a couple recipes didn't help either). So needless to say, things didn't go quite as planned. But this is a new week, my Young Women (the youth girls where I attend church) are having their New Beginnings activity this week, and it is certainly a "new beginning" for me, too.

Here's what I have planned for this week's dinner meals. Recipes will be posted during the week. Breakfasts will consist of cereal or toast; sandwiches for me and the kids for lunch or leftovers (if any) for me. I'll be at a retreat this coming weekend, so I won't be making a homemade breakfast like I have been lately.

Monday--Crock-pot Chicken & Vegetables
Mondays are our weekly "Family Home Evening" (FHE) night. We will continue our activity from last week by talking about manners and doing some role playing (practicing sharing, saying "thank you", "my pleasure" etc.)

Tuesday--Turkey Legs, Carrot Sticks, Peas, Baked Beans
I was recently asked to be the Secretary in our Young Women's program at church. They are having their New Beginnings activity this evening, so hubs will make dinner and have it ready for when I come home for work. That way, I'll be able to eat before leaving for the YW activity.

Wednesday--Baked Potato Soup for the Crock-Pot, Dinner Rolls
Hubs has a meeting at church this evening, so a slow cooker meal will come in handy, allowing him to eat before he needs to leave.

Thursday--Chicken and Broccoli Casserole, Oranges, Squash

Friday--Hubs is on his own!
I'm going scrapbooking!! This is the 3rd annual scrapbook retreat that I've gone to, and I'm really excited. I didn't get much sleep last year (I didn't even go to bed that Saturday night and spent the whole time scrapbooking). I'm really looking forward to getting caught up on some pages.

Saturday--Hubs is on his own!
Still scrapbooking!

Sunday--Thai Venison Burritos, Oranges, Lima Beans
I'll be back home from the retreat sometime this afternoon. I won't make it to church, but I will probably be able to get a cat nap before the family gets home...maybe. :)

For hundreds of menu plan options, visit!

Spectacular Sides: Peppered Cottage Cheese

My husband introduced me to this side dish soon after we were married. It's one of two ways he'll eat cottage cheese voluntarily (the other way is to mix cottage cheese with chicken pot pie). I had planned to make Orange-Cottage Cheese Salad, but hubs offered to put supper together for me since I had an activity Tuesday night. I willingly accepted his offer, and with that came a twist on the cottage cheese side dish...

Peppered Cottage Cheese

1 cup cottage cheese
1 Tbsp half & half, or milk (whole, 2%, skim, your choice)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together. Serve & enjoy!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Wok's For Dinner: Cuban Pork & Black Bean Soup

This meal was inspired by the Kitchen Basics: Cooking With Stock cookbook I got for free in the mail several months ago. As you can see from the picture, I obviously didn't use black beans. I thought that I had run out of canned black beans, so I substituted a can of navy beans, only to find out long after supper this evening that I did, in fact, have a can of black beans. Go figure! I made a couple other modifications to the recipe and this is what I came up with.

Cuban Pork & Black Bean (Or Navy Bean) Soup

1 can corn
1 can black beans in water (or navy beans)
2 cups homemade pork broth
2 cups homemade chicken broth
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp jerk spice
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 lb cooked leftover pork roast, shredded

Place corn, beans, broths and seasonings in a Dutch oven or 6-qt saucepan on the stove. Bring to a boil. Add pork, and turn heat down to low. Simmer for 5-10 minutes and serve.

Hubs about had a fit that we were having soup once again this week. The weather turned unseasonably warm earlier this week, and now it's cooled down, but apparently not cool enough for soup in my husband's opinion (he is not a real soup "fan). Nonetheless, I made it, we ate it, and I did not like it. Maybe it was because of the negative comments from the peanut gallery. Maybe it was from the navy beans (I was so disappointed when I thought that I was out of black beans). Out of the four of us, only Little Miss enjoyed her soup. She smacked her lips and gobbled it down. So I guess I'm content that at least someone liked it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Friday Night = Date Night

This particular Friday Night = Date Night post isn't about a particular date night for hubs and I. It is, however, a helpful idea for you to give you an idea of an inexpensive but priceless gift idea for your significant other.

About a year & a half ago, a friend was explaining to me about a gift idea she had for her husband for Valentine's. Now, when she told me about this idea of hers, it was probably in September. I was really impressed with her true devotion to her spouse, and that even though Valentine's Day was super long away, it was already in the forefront of her mind. I caught her enthusiasm, and committed to do a similar gift idea for my own husband. I loved him, and I felt that this particular gift was a spectacular way to, not only show my love for him, but to say I loved him in a way that was different and unique.
The idea is that you take a small journal. At the end of each day, or even during the day as things come up, you record the things that your husband/boyfriend (or wife/girlfriend, if you're a guy reading this) has done for you that day. At first, I really didn't think that I'd be able to write much. I knew that hubs did things for me, but in no way did I think that I'd be able to write more than a short sentence or two.

But the more I wrote each day, the more I realized just how much he did, and continues to do, for me! Some journal entries were shorter than others, and some took up several pages.

I found new insight about the our relationship. A deeper appreciation for the "little things." A greater desire to serve my husband and do more to show my love for him.

You can start your own journal at any time. Start now, today, each day writing your thoughts and gratitude for the love of your life and what he/she has done for you that day. Then wrap up this little treasure and give to that special someone this Valentine's. Or save it as an anniversary present, birthday present, or Valentine's 2011.

I know that your loved one with deeply appreciate this type of gift, for they will see just how much you notice the things they do, and how much you appreciate their expressiosn of love. And you'll be inspired, in turn, to be a better partner in your relationship.

Freebies For Me

I love getting coupons & freebies in the mail. Love it! Normally, I find one here & there in the mail, nothing worth blogging about. But I recently found a good stack of freebies in my mailbox, definitely worth getting excited about!

It may not seem like much, but to me it was like finding buried treasure. I've been eagerly a-waiting the Home Made Simple coupon book (I love the coupons for the Cascade Action Packs), and I practically squealed when I saw it in the mailbox. From Vocalpoint, I received a BOGO Free coupon for Starkist Tuna fish pouches. The Target coupon wasn't exactly a mailbox find, but it was a treat that I didn't expect on a recent shopping trip.

As for the window cleaner...That came from Sam's and I did not request it, so it was a true surprise. I took a look at the label to see if perhaps it went to the wrong address. Nope, it was ours. But instead of being addressed to me or my husband, it was addressed to my father-in-law and the company that he and hubs owned but dissolved last year. My F-I-L is currently on vacation in Minnesota, nor does he live in our house, so needless to say, I am claiming the window cleaner for myself. :)

Have you received any freebies for you recently? Share your freebies by posting a comment below! :)

For some great freebie finds, click here to visit!

Wok's For Dinner: Kielbasa Sausage & Red Beans & Rice

I think the last time that I made this was nearly 9 years ago, during hubs & my first year of marriage. Actually, now that I think about it, I used ground venison that I friend had given me, not kielbasa. So I guess this is a brand new meal for us! I neve really liked Red Beans & Rice when I was growing up. Mom made it every so often, but I never liked having anything over my rice. I always wanted my rice on the side. Funny how things change when we grow up.

Kielbasa Sausage & Red Beans & Rice

1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, diced fine
1 lb smoked kielbasa, cut into slices
1 can kidney beans (I used dark red)
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cajun seasoning
1 bay leaf
1 can beef broth (I used 2 cups homemade pork broth)
1 can (8oz) tomato sauce
1 cup uncooked rice

Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add onion and celery; saute' for a few minutes. Add sausage, kidney beans, seasonings, broth and tomato sauce. Stir in rice. Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes or until rice is done. Now, my family prefers to have their rice on the side (like me when I was a kid...what goes around comes around, eh?). So I cooked the rice in a rice cooker. I still used the same amount of broth with the kielbasa, beans, veggies & seasonings. For myself, I served the Red Beans & Rice and sauce over the rice, and it tasted great!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wok's For Dinner: Cornish Hens in Sour Cream

This is a variation of a recipe for wild dove from an avid hunter that I picked up many years (I changed some things for this particular meal.) But since hubs hasn't gotten a license to hunt dove, I've never made it (there was one year that I accidentally hit a dove with my car on two separate occasions, but that doesn't count!). But my Angel Food Ministries order for December came with cornish hens, and since they're only slightly larger in size than dove, I thought that it was high time I gave this recipe a try.

Cornish Hens in Sour Cream

1 whole cornish hen, sliced in half lengthwise, skins removed
1/2 - 1 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 slices bacon, cut into pieces
chicken broth
salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Dry cornish hens thoroughly. Dredge with flour and brown lightly about 5 minutes in a small amount of oil in the skillet. Place bacon in baking dish. Place lightly browned cornish hen pieces on top of bacon. Add enough chicken broth to avoid sticking. Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 1 hour or until juices run clear when meat is poked with a fork, or the thickest part of the meat reads 180 degrees on a meat thermometer. Remove foil, pour sour cream over cornish hen and bake an additional 10 minutes.

If freezing: After baking for one hour, debone chicken (you could freeze without deboning the chicken, but I find that it takes up more room in the freezer). Do not add sour cream. Place chicken, bacon and sauce into a freezer bag. Squeeze out as much air from the bag, seal, and lay flat in the freezer. Thaw 24 hours in refrigertor. Heat, covered, in a saucepan on low for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in sour cream and serve.

Loved it, loved it, loved it!!! I prepared this as a freezer meal, and it was fantabulous, a great meal loved by the entire family. Absolutely yummy!

Wok's For Dinner: Frito Pie

I love this kind of meal, and having this meal was a rare treat for me. I grew up on Frito Pie in my hometown, but I really don't remember having it after I went off to college. It's super easy, very versatile, and delicious!

Frito Pie

Fritos corn chips
chili (your choice; I used Picadillo Chili, recipe here, except I omitted the tomatoes & green chiles and used black beans instead of navy beans)
Toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, chopped onion, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, black decide! :)

Place Fritos in bottom of a bowl. Cover with hot chili. Top with your favorite toppings. Serve and enjoy!

Wow, wow, wow, this really brought back some memories. Everyone loved it, especially Little Miss who kept going, "Mmmmm, I love it, I love it!" Really warms the heart. :-D

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Creating More Storage to the Kitchen

I found a way to create more space in my cupboards. I can't say that I "invented" any of this, but it was new to me, and I thought it up all by myself when we were at Lowe's Saturday night. So for me, this was a major project that took a lot of careful thought and processing. ;)

After moving the kids' dishes into the same cupboard as the grown-up dishes, I was really concerned about the excessive waste of space. And I didn't like the thought of having so many dishes stacked on top of each other (all the plates together, all the bowls together). It was just too much of something and didn't work for me.

I found this expandable wire rack. It just seemed perfect for stacking our plates and bowls in a more manageable way.

My dish towels and dish cloths were another concern for me. About the only good place for them has been in one of my upper cupboards. But they get all jumbled up whenever anyone digs through them. I've even been known to just "throw" clean cloths up there intead of taking the time to get a step stool and gently place the clean cloths on the top of the stack. But since hubs moved the cabinet the kitchen towels have been kept in, I thought it was high-time to get serious about how I was going to store these without creating chaos. Lowe's had copper wire baskets (the picture in the link to Lowe's does not do justice) with cute little handles on the side. They were reasonably priced, and I thought they would be really handy for storing kitchen towels and cloths. I didn't think that I'd be able to store them going cross-ways on the shelf, but lo & behold they fit, freeing up even more space to the right of them! And if I stand on my toes, I can reach up high enough to pull these down or put them up, so I don't have to worry about grabbing the step stool after all.

I found a whole lot more inspiration ideas, but I managed to hold myself back...for now. It's just too easy to try to do everything all at once, which really isn't easy because who has the time (or the money) to do that! So I keep reminding myself, "Baby steps, baby steps."

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