Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wok's For Dinner: Albondigas (Porcupines)

I found this recipe in the February 2010 All You magazine, and it sounded really interesting. I have a Porcupine Meatball recipe (that I've never tried) but this particular recipe was different. The recipe sort of indicates that the meatballs are served as a soup, but I decided to not serve it as a soup for our meal. There was a lot of rice and shredded carrots that had separated from the meatballs, which made for a nice homemade soup for lunch the next day. Here's how I made our Porcupines

Albondigas (Porcupines)

3 cans (14.5oz) chicken broth
1 lb ground venison (you can use ground turkey or ground beef)
1 large carrot, shredded
2/3 cup uncooked white rice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Place chicken broth into a 6-qt saucepan, and bring to a gentle boil. Meanwhile, combine ground venison, carrot, rice, garlic powder, salt & pepper in a large bowl, using fingers to mix gently & thoroughly, then forming into meatballs. Using a large spoon, gently place meatballs into boiling chicken broth. Add enough water to ensure meatballs are covered. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pan, and gently boil for 30 minutes. Serve meatballs as a soup, or reserve the soup for lunch the next day.

I have to admit, the meatballs had a fairly "gamey" taste to them, but that's more than likely due to using ground venison. There wasn't a whole lot of seasonings to cover the wild taste. It'd be interesting to see how the flavor changes using a different ground meat. I did enjoy the rice soup for lunch today, though. :)

Menu Plan Monday: 3/1-3/7/10

After last week's hectic pace, I'm really thankful that this week will be relatively quiet. I was taking a little inventory at some of my goals for this year, and realized that I am way behind accomplishing what I want to do in 2010. Not that I've given up completely and thrown my goals list out the door. No way! I still want to work on them, it's just taking much longer than I would like. The kitchen remodel is still going on, and that definitely set me back. Not just on the kitchen, but on other rooms that I want to organize and straighten out. For example, we got the kitchen & living room decluttered last week due to friends coming over for dinner, but then I couldn't work on the bedrooms because they got cluttered up with paint and construction stuff (hubs decided that the bedrooms were the perfect"hiding" spot for these items).

So this will, I will re-evaluate my goals yet again, and try to come up with a game plan on when and how I will accomplish the tasks, projects, goals, etc., that I have in mind for this year. As long as our weeks stay relatively quiet (haha, that's a good one! Weeks like this are rare), we'll see how it goes. :)

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

Monday--Pork Roast w/Plum Sauce, Mixed Vegetables, Oranges
Mondays are our weekly "Family Home Evening" or FHE night. Each member of the family has a special responsibility as we gather together to have a special spiritual lesson and fun activity. A couple week ago, I had intended on doing gardening stuff by planting some seeds to put in our new greenhouse on our deck, but hubs and the kids ganged up on me and we played board games instead. Then last week was the kids' school dinner auction. However, hubs agreed that we need to get crackin' if we're to get our garden ready, so we will definitely go through our seed inventory and start planting some that we'll let grow in the greenhouse & then transplant once the risk of frost is gone.

Tuesday--Grilled Brats, Cantaloupe, Green Beans
I have a meeting at church this evening, for the Young Women's (adolescent teenage girls' program) Mutual night. I am one of the leaders in the organization. Hubs has taken on the responsibility of preparing Tuesday dinner each week, so this was about as simple a meal as I could expect from him. We have a chance of snow/rain mix this evening, so there's a high possibility that hubs will change his mind and make something else for dinner.

Wednesday--Taco Soup, Sweet Corn Bread
I've pushed this meal back over & over for various reasons. We're supposed to have a really chilly night, so soup should be perfect. And it won't be much longer that we'll be having sauna-like weather, so I better take the opportunity now to make soup while I can before it gets too warm and my hubbie complains at the thought of having soup for supper!

Thursday--Trout Au Gratin, Sugar Snap Peas, Carrots

Friday--Rustic Stuffed Potatoes, Corn
We were supposed to have this last week, but got pushed back because I went scrapbooking.

Saturday--Kraut Bierocks, Carrot & Raisin Salad

Breakfast: Chocolate Buttermilk Muffins
Dinner: Chicken Angel Hair Pasta, Zucchini Squash

Hundreds of menu plan options are available at here to see!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Tip O' Me Hat To: Val's Junk Drawer

My long-time friend and one of my bestest BFF's, Valerie ( Hi, Val!!), recently started up her own blog, The Junk Drawer. Val and I go way back (how long has it been now, close to 15 years, if I remember right).

Valerie posts about her efforts to eat healthy, lose weight, and some of her projects along the way. In her own words:
Just call me a sheeple - a follower. The time has come that I am joining the
blog/internet world in posting my goings on in the kitchen and the bathroom
scale. The idea of this website is to give me a place to unload my meal planning
and weight loss journey. Probably some of my hobbies will make their way in to
this arena also. So, a little bit of this and a little bit of that and you end
up with a junk drawer :)

Those of you on Weight Watchers will also appreciate that Val includes WW points with her recipes!

Click here to give Val a little love and encourage her in her brand new blogging effort. :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Snapfish: Save 30% on Pics of Your Pet

Get 30% off photo gifts from the Snapfish Pet Store when you use coupon code PETSTORE at checkout. Hurry--coupon code expires March 3!

Wok's For Dinner: Creamed Chicken & Biscuits

We had friends come over for dinner tonight. It was so great inviting them and their children into our home, enjoying friendship and company over a tasty hot meal.

Creamed Chicken & Biscuits

1/2 large egg 1/2 large onion
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 can (10.75oz) cream of chicken soup
1 can corn
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped pimiento
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
canned refrigerator biscuits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 13x9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Chop the onion. Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet and saute' onion in heated oil until tender. Combine onion, chicken, soup, sour cream, milk and pimiento in a medium bowl and mix well. Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle baked layer with 3/4 cup of the cheddar. Arrange biscuits in a single layer over top. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar. Bake until biscuits are golden brown and the sauce is bubbly, about 20 minutes longer. Serve immediately.

If freezing: Cook onion, then combine with chicken, soup, sour cream, milk and pimiento. Place mixed ingredients into a gallon-size freezer bag, seal up, lay flat and freeze. Thaw 24-48 hours in the refrigerator. Place in prepared baking dish and bake according to directions above.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Better Breakfast: Banana Muffins

These muffins are so good, that you'll need to make a double batch just to please everyone in your family! lol

This recipe came straight from my husband's grandmother, who, legend has it, makes the most awesomest muffins. That is, until I started making these. My hubs, absolute love of my life, says that these are HANDS DOWN the BEST muffins in the world! He goes hog-wild eating them, so I can only assume that he is telling the truth.

The recipe below is for one batch, or enough batter to make about 12 muffins. I usually double the recipe because I know that these muffins will go quickly, especially because hubs and the kids just love them. That gives them all some extra muffins to eat the next day.

Banana Muffins (this version is slightly different that hubs' grandma's. I add more banana than she does. Maybe that's the secret ingredient?)


3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup shortening

1 egg

2 Tbsp sour cream

2 very ripe bananas

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

cinnamon & sugar


Mash bananas with a spoon or fork.
In a large bowl, cream together sugar and shortening with an electric mixer. Little Miss helped me make our muffins, and she had a blast helping me hold the mixer.

Some more sugar & shortening creaming.

Beat in egg, sour cream & bananas. Note there are 2 eggs--I was making a double batch when I made these muffins this past weekend.

Using a spatula, blend in dry ingredients.
Continue stirring until all dry ingredients are incorporated.

Place muffin cups in muffin pan. Fill each cup about 2/3 full with muffin batter. An ice cream scoop works perfectly for this step.

Mix cinnamon & sugar together, then sprinkle onto top of muffin batter in each muffin cup.
Sprinkle as much or as little of the cinnamon/sugar mixture on top of your muffins. This is how I like mine to look:

If you have any empty muffin cups, fill them about halfway with water to prevent scorching or warping of the muffin pan.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 17-20 minutes. I usually turn the muffin pan around halfway through baking to ensure the muffins bake evenly.

Wok's For Dinner: Chicken Breasts Dijon

Look at all those little bubbles of goodness, calling my name!

It's been quite a long time since I last made this recipe, and I thoroughly enjoyed tonight's meal. I didn't overdo it and kept my portion very small, but I savored every minute of it. Each little mustard seed bursted with juicy goodness with every bite, and the chicken was super tender and super moist--perfect in every way.
Chicken Breasts Dijon

2 large split chicken breasts
1/8 cup honey Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp chicken broth
pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp mustard seed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove skin and excess fat from chicken. Place chicken, meaty sides up, in a baking dish, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Mix Dijon, oil and chicken broth; brush over chicken. Sprinkle with pepper and mustard seed. Bake uncovered until chicken is done, about 40 minutes. Serve immediately with your favorite sides.

If freezing: Carefully remove chicken from bones; discard bones or use to make Homemade Chicken Broth. Place chicken into a freezer bag, squeeze out as much air as you can from the bag while sealing it up. Lay bag flat in your freezer to maximize storage space. Thaw 24 hours in the refrigerator. Heat in microwave and serve.

Note: This recipe can easily be adjusted, such as doubling the ingredients, to suit your family's size. :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Earn Free Stuff At My Coke Rewards

My family has one huge soda drinker, and that's my husband. Considering how much we spend on to support my hubbie's addicition love of all things carbonated, we started participating in My Coke Rewards during the program's early beginnings. I mean, they were getting our money, so why not let My Coke Rewards give us something back, right?

Since we first started participating, we've gotten several items for free. To name a few--a rice cooker (which I absolutely LOVE and use all the time), coupons for free movie and game rentals, free digital prints of all sizes, including 8x10, and more goodies.

The program is as simple as this: purchase Coca-Cola products, look for special 12- or 15-digit codes, and earn points as you enter the codes. Points range in value from 3 points for a 16- or 20-oz bottle, to 10 points for a 12-pk. Find points on products such as Sprite, Coke, Fanta, Dasani, and more!

So have I piqued your interest? Click here to register for My Coke Rewards or find out more information about the program and start earning those rewards. :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

To-Do Tuesday: Week 7

I didn't do such a good job of sticking to my list last week. I completely blew off anything garden-related. Hubs and the kids ganged up on me for our FHE night and decided that we would play board games instead of going through our seeds and doing some early planting. Play before work? Who ever heard of such a concept?!! :) But just because I'm not always able to accomplish every little item on my task list doesn't get me down. I let this be a guide to help me accomplish certain projects that need to get done...if not now, then eventually. I also have to take into consideration that I work full-time, have two little ones, and a high-maintenance hubby, and between the both of us, hubs and I have a lot of commitments & responsibilities. So although I may play something this week, thinking I'll get to it, it may actually be several weeks down the road before I'm able to add the project back to the To-Do List again.

Now, on to the list! (A very short one this week!)
  • √Re-declutter & re-cleanup the house to get ready for company for dinner Thursday night. I'm going through some serious deja vu here. I just did this when my aunt came to visit less than 2 weeks ago! But when Mommy's at work all day, the kids & even the hubs tend to turn everything upside down. It doesn't help that I abhor (literally, I loathe) having to clean up after someone else. Are ya' with me on that? Seriously, pick up after yourselves! Not you, readers, I'm talking about other members of this household who shall remain nameless at this time but they know who they are! ;)
  • √Go on a girls' night out and scrapbook 'til I drop, or at least until Midnight, Friday night. I just found out about this one today, so that means hubs & the kids will be on their own for dinner.
  • √Date night with hubs Saturday night!

This post is linked to week 53 at Crazy Adventures in Parenting!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spectacular Sides: Gruner Bohnensalat (Green Bean Salad)

Tonight was the first time that I've made this particular German dish. One word--Fabulous!! It was such an intriguing combination of flavors that really tempted my taste buds. I'll definitely make this again.

Gruner Bohnensalat (Green Bean Salad)

2 slices bacon
1 medium/small onion, chopped
1/4 cup water
1 can green beans, drained (I drain my canned vegetables to remove some of the salt content, but you can certainly use some of the water from the canned green beans, omitting the 1/4 cup water and 1/2 tsp salt)
1/3 cup vinegar (I used white distilled)
2 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Cook bacon in 3-qt saucepan, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Drain grease.
Chop cooked bacon up on cutting board into small pieces.
Meanwhile, cook onions in same saucepan as the bacon, stirring frequently.

Add remaining ingredients, stirring to loosen up brown bits on bottom of saucepan. Heat to boiling, stirring well. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until most of the heat is absorbed.
Serve & enjoy!

Menu Plan Monday--2/22-2/28/10

Can you believe that this will be the last week of February? Yikes! This month (and year) is just flying by. I can hardly keep up! Our family has another full week on the calendar. It seems like it never lets up. Hubs and I were just talking this evening about our commitments and responsibilities. It's difficult to say "no" when asked to do something, but then we feel guilty not being at home when we're out at a meeting or doing service work. It's doubly hard for me since I work full-time, and both kids will beg me to stay with them as I'm heading out the door in the morning. So I've been looking for ways to maximize my time with my husband and children when I am at home, such as reading to the kids in the evening, allowing my daughter to help me prepare our meals (my impulse is to holler "stay outta my kitchen!!" but I'm trying to not be that kind of momma), and helping my son with his homework even though my husband is home in the afternoons and can do that. About the only thing that's keeping me sane right now is planning & preparing our weekly activities and goals (including menu planning!) in advance. Otherwise, I'd be pulling my hair out!

Here's the menu plan for this week. I'll post recipes throughout the week, so check back frequently! :)

Monday--Preschool & Kindergarten Dinner Auction, so no meal planned for this evening
This is our weekly "Family Home Evening" or FHE night, and we'll use the dinner auction as our activity.

Tuesday--Chicken Sandwiches, Garlic Oven Fries, Pears
Both hubs and I have a meeting at church this evening. His parents will more than likely keep the kids. Hubs has taken over cooking & serving Tuesday dinner because I am guaranteed to have a meeting or activity at church as long as I continue to serve in the Young Women's Presidency (YW is a program for the teenage girls in our congregation). Because of the time YW starts, I won't have time to prepare dinner before needing to leave. Hubs asked specifically to make this meal, especially the homemade fries. He loves them! While not my preferred side dish since we just had these, I decided it wasn't worth getting uppity about.

Wednesday--Chicken Breasts Dijon, Cucumber slices, California Blend vegetables

Thursday--Creamed Chicken & Biscuits, Potluck sides
Friends of ours will be coming over for dinner. I'm making the main course and they're bringing the rest.

Friday--Albondigas (Porcupines), Lima Beans, Oranges

Saturday--Rustic Stuffed Potatoes, Corn

Breakfast: Apple Date Yogurt & Homemade Granola
Dinner: Ground Venison and Bean Tostadas
We're feeding the missionaries of our church this evening. One of them is a vegetarian. I wonder if he'll eat deer meat? If not, I suppose he can load up on beans and veggie toppings for his tostadas. :)

Want more menu planning ideas & recipes? Visit for hundreds of options!

Squeezing Water From Spinach

Squeezing water from thawed (previously frozen) spinach is really easy. After just a couple simple steps, and you'll have perfect spinach ready for your meal.
First, after thawing out your frozen spinach (I just let mine sit in the sink for several hours), place the spinach in a clean, dark-colored towel or cheesecloth.

Finally, gather up the corners & edges of the towel, twist the spinach into a ball, and squeeze the water right out of the spinach.

Ta-da!! Now your spinach is ready to use. :)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

February Freezer Meal Recap

Well, another month of making freezer meals is done! This one went by very quickly. I can attribute that to semi-preparing several meals in advance--a pork roast and chicken leg quarters that I had bought and cooked up in a crock-pot, freezing the cooked meat afterwards.

I made one slight change to my February menu, removing one of the chicken dishes. We have friends coming over for dinner this week, so I decided to double up one of the dishes and needed the chicken in order to do that. But that's ok, no loss in my book. I think we'll still have plenty, plenty of food in the house to get us through until the next monthly cooking day.

One thing that I find which makes a big difference on how my freezer meal cooking goes is to pull out as many of the nonperishable items I will use in my cooking the night before my freezer meal cooking day. It saves so much time to have everything right there next to the counter, my work service.

Another thing I like to do is put all the meat on the kitchen floor to thaw out while I'm preparing my meals. It's not the prettiest sight, but it's definitely functional. I've used broken-down boxes in the past; this time I just laid down a plastic garbage bag.

I definitely had a record-breaking finish this time. I started about 1pm and was done by 7pm--unbelievable! I don't cook with a partner, so finishing up early doesn't happen on a normal freezer cooking day for me. But it did this time, and I owe it to making the pork roast & chicken leg quarters in advance!

Bargain Buys

I didn't have a lot of shopping to do this week, but I decided to make a couple quick stops this morning to pick up some deals that I couldn't pass up.


I went to IGA to get some hot dogs for my hubs' lunches, and found these deals. Pinto and light red kidney beans were $0.50 each, and this huge bottle of dried parsley leaves was only $1!! (this was actually the last bottle of parsley in the $1 section of the store, so I think I lucked out :)

Food Lion:

White seedless grapes are only $0.88/lb! What a great buy for this time of year. This sale will continue through Tuesday, 2/23.

Select varietys of Libby's canned vegetables are also on sale for $0.39/lb (limit 12) through Tuesday. The stre I went to was completely sold out (it didn't look like they were carrying very many cans to begin with because the space for Libby's was very narrow). But, I decided to check with Customer Service to see if they would do a rain check, and sure enough they gave me one!

Wok's For Dinner: Upside-Down Deep Dish Pizza

This is a tasty, kid-proof meal! I hated, HATED spinach when I was a kid. It literally made me sick to my stomach to eat it. Even as an adult, I don't have the stomach for canned spinach. However, I will eat spinach raw in a salad or the frozen kind if prepared in a meal such as lasagna, or tonight's meal. My kids have had this before, but it's been a very long time. They both turned up their noses, but after their first bite, they were all smiles and ate very happily.

Upside-Down Deep Dish Pizza

1 lb ground beef, browned in a skillet & grease drained
1 jar (16oz) spaghetti sauce
1 pkg (10oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed & squeezed dry
1 1/2 - 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 refrigerator pie crust, or 1 refrigerated pizza crust dough

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cooked ground beef with spaghetti sauce and pour into a pie plate. Evenly top with spinach, then sprinkle with cheese. Cover with pie or pizza crust, and press dough down on edges of pie plate to seal, removing excess dough. Bake for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Friday, February 19, 2010

After A Long, Hard Day's work

For me, after a 10 1/2 hour day at work? A soak in a hot bubble bath.

For hubs, after hours of climbing up & down a step stool, measuring, stressing, cutting, and trying toget the "perfect" cut to put up crown molding, some epsom salts to soak the aching feet and a food massage by his Snugglebunny (me! :)

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