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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Email notification via Feedburner!

Please check out the link on the right that reads, "Subscribe to You, More Organized by email."  That will allow you to manage your subscription and allow me to send this to more than 10 people at any given time. 

T, if you want in on this too for your blog, let me know! 

Thanks to Cindy who didnt even know she was helping when I visited her blog the other day.  I noticed she was on blogspot too and that I could subscribe to her blog via email.  If she could do it, then I could too.  30 minutes later of googling around (plenty of frustrtation too) and I figured it out!  Hooray! 

For those interested, Cindy will be the speaker and leader at our fall women's retreat on 10/22-23 at Camp Buckner in Burnet, TX.  If you are considering coming to the retreat, check out Cindy's Testimony page for a peek at some behinds the scenes info on her.  Should be a great time.  More info will be posted around church as it gets closer, maybe here too. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

c takes on StLouis

First documented shopping trip. 
Our first trip was actually to the grocery store.  He was a natural shopper. 
First time to eat out
Second time out for ice cream
catching a few zzz's before afternoon nap starts.

a little father/son time

and a little Tio Hakay and c.

a fun time for all. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Random Pictures from Vacation

As many of you know we recently returned from our ‘big’ summer vacation to see this new addition to the family.

We jetted off to St Louis apparently so that a mother of six could bring a meal to all of us while Jnt appropriately rested on the couch, I sat at the dining room table working, c swung in the swing and slept (like the angel he is) and my youngest played wii for six hours. 
One of the seminary wives called and offered to bring a meal over for the family following the birth of c.  Very nice.  I didn’t realize how horrible I would feel after she left.  She asked if this was C & J’s first, yes it is.  J politely asked, if she had children?  Yes, 7, 5, 4, the twins are two and 11 months.  She left about 45 seconds after that and it was all J and I could do to not bust a gut laughing from shock and embarrassment.  We should be fixing HER a meal.  Yikes.  It was a fabulous meal of meatloaf, roasted potatoes, cucumber salad and a homemade peach pie. 
Here are some of the images that we captured.  Jk took most of the pictures. 
This is no random picture of the ceiling or fan.  The point is that the fan is in motion and Jk was fascinated with watching it in the screen of the camera and then seeing the ‘finished’ picture with stop motion.
This is how your feet can make a square.  Riveting pictures I know.
Finally I get a hold of the camera and we get a little more of what we came to see. 
Tio Hakay helps with tummy time. 
Lift your head up like this c.
Here you can see Tio Hakay showing me how c is being baptized. 
I stepped in to help calm c after a very long day of church, out to lunch and having his sins washed away.
More pictures to come.  You’ll get to see the ones I took of little c that are on my phone. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Who is it?

 It’s the plumber I’ve come to fix the sink.
Perhaps that line doesn’t mean much to you, unless of your husband is a plumber or you’ve had a major plumbing emergency recently.  But when I say it, it’s in a weird nasally voice and it reminds me of the Electric Company that I watched as a kid.  Yea for You Tube, you can watch it here. 
Anyway, I was sitting at my computer working, minding my own business and I hear this very weird sound.  I work from home; alone.  I don't keep the radio or tv on, because I’m working and it distracts me.  So it was quiet.  At first I thought there might be another mouse family in the house so I froze waiting to see if the noise happened again.  It did, and I realized it was coming from the door behind me. 
It was the plumber, she’d come to fix the sink.
I didn’t let her in. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Weekly Menu 7/30+

Saturday turkey burgers
red potatoes & green beans
chocolate cookies
Sunday paella
cantaloupe & blueberries
Monday frito salad
Tuesday king ranch chicken
Wednesday bruschetta chicken
garlic bread
Thursday beef sheppards pie
mashed potatoes
Friday sausage calzones

1.       Turkey burgers are a great recipe to double and keep the extras in the freezer wrapped individually in waxed paper
2.       These cookies were very good, be careful and don't over bake though.  J was able to make them 98% on his own.  I needed to show him how to measure cocoa and also how to measure baking soda, but beyond that he was flying solo while I made supper. 
Turkey Burgers(Taste of Home)
·         3/4 cup chopped sweet onion
·         2 teaspoons butter
·         1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
·         1 medium carrot, grated
·         1/4 cup dry red wine or Progresso ® Chicken Broth
·         1/2 teaspoon salt
·         1/4 teaspoon pepper
·         1 pound lean ground turkey (or beef)
·         1/2 cup barbecue sauce, divided
In a large nonstick skillet, saute onion in butter for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and carrot; cook and stir for 3 minutes. Add the wine, salt and pepper; simmer for 2-3 minutes or until liquid is evaporated.
Transfer to a large bowl; cool slightly. Crumble turkey over mixture and mix well. Shape into four patties. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  (if you are in a rush, you can skip this step)  Grill patties, uncovered, over medium heat or broil 4 in. from the heat for 8-10 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 165° and juices run clear, brushing occasionally with 1/4 cup barbecue sauce.

Red Potatoes & Green Beans
Dice potatoes and bring to a boil; cook for 15 min.  Add in green beans until potatoes and beans are tender; about 10 more minutes.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time and mix to incorporate.  Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.  Place the all-purpose flour, baking soda, kosher salt and cocoa powder.  The mixture will appear homogenous with no separate ingredients showing.  Add the flour and cocoa mix to the creamed butter and sugar.  Mix together until the dough appears completely combined - about 3 minutes.  Add all the walnuts and chocolate chips and stir them into the dough.  Drop by two teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Or roll into balls, place about two inches apart on the sheet, and flatten slightly with your fingers.  Bake for 11 minutes at 350 degrees.  The cookies will appear to be just barely firm with a sheen to their surfaces.  Allow to cool on the sheet for about one minute before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Store in airtight containers.
1.       If the extra seafood makes this dish too expensive feel free to just make it a sausage and chicken dish. 
Skillet Paella (Food Network)
·         Spice Mix for chicken
o    1 tablespoon sweet paprika
o    2 teaspoons dried oregano
o    Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
·         3lbs chicken thighs (skin removed)
·         1/4 cup  olive oil
·         2 Spanish chorizo sausages, thickly sliced
·         Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
·         1 onion, diced
·         4 garlic cloves, crushed
·         Bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, reserve some for garnish
·         1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed
·         4 cups short grain Spanish rice
·         6 cups water, warm
·         Generous pinch saffron threads
·         1 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed (optional)
·         1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined (optional)
·         2 lobster tails (optional)
·         1/2 cup sweet peas, frozen and thawed
·         Lemon wedges, for serving
Rub the spice mix all over the chicken and marinate chicken for 1 hour in the refrigerator.   Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.   Saute the chorizo until browned, remove and reserve. Add chicken skin-side down and brown on all sides, turning with tongs. Add salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove from pan and reserve.  In the same pan, make a sofrito by sauteing the onions, garlic, and parsley. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes on a medium heat. Then, add tomatoes and cook until the mixture caramelizes a bit and the flavors meld.  Fold in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains.  Pour in water and simmer for 10 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. Add chicken, chorizo, and saffron.  Add the clams and shrimp, tucking them into the rice.  The shrimp will take about 8 minutes to cook.  Give the paella a good shake and let it simmer, without stirring, until the rice is al dente, for about 15 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, when the rice is filling the pan, add the lobster tails. When the paella is cooked and the rice looks fluffy and moist, turn the heat up for 40 seconds until you can smell the rice toast at the bottom, then it's perfect.

Cantaloupe and blueberry salad

Frito Salad
·         1 lg. head lettuce
·         1 onion, diced finely
·         2 c. grated Cheddar cheese
·         2 tomatoes, diced
·         2 c cooked ground beef (seasoned for tacos if you want)
·         1 can red beans, drained and rinsed
·         1 bottle Catalina dressing (eyeball this so you don't soak it too much)
·         1 green pepper, diced
·         1 pkg. Fritos, crushed
Chop up everything, combine in a large bowl (except for Fritos) and mix in enough dressing to coat everything well.  Think chop salad at a restaurant.  Add in the Fritos for each serving so they don't get soggy. 

King Ranch Chicken
·         2-3 c cooked chicken
·         1 can cream mushroom soup
·         1 can mushrooms, drained
·         1 can cream of chicken soup
·         1 can Rotel (partially drained)
·         Corn tortillas (cut in wedges)
·         Cheddar cheese
·         Green onions for garnish
You can use the crockpot to simmer this all day (minus the tortillas, cheese and green onion) or put it in a saucepan before putting layering with tortillas and cheese and baking in the oven.  Bake at 350 for ~20 minutes, or until bubbly.

1.        Pound this chicken flat and dredge through flour, egg and then a parmesan/breadcrumb mixture or grill the chicken. 
Bruschetta Chicken
·         Boneless chicken pieces, pounded flat between pieces of wax paper
·         ¼ c flour
·         1 beaten egg
·         ½ c breadcrumbs + ½ c parmesan cheese
·         Olive oil
·         Finely chopped tomatoes
·         Basil chiffonade  (roll up the leaves and then thinly slice through all layers)
Dredge chicken through flour, then into egg and finally into breadcrumb mixture.  Pan fry in olive oil in medium hot skillet.  Top with tomatoes and basil.  Of course a little more parm is a good idea too. 

Garlic bread
HEB has a new ‘bake at home’ bread in the bread aisle that they have on special with one of their yellow coupons.  I actually tried it, and it is pretty good.  With the coupon it is down to $0.98 for two small loaves.

Beef Sheppard’s Pie
·         Cooked ground beef or cut up raw beef
·         16oz frozen mixed veggies
·         1 can cream of celery
·         1 packet brown gravy mix
·         1 ½ c water/broth or wine
Combine all ingredients in crockpot and let it cook for the day.  Top with mashed potatoes when ready to serve. 

Sausage Calzones
·         1 lb frozen bread dough, refrigerated pizza crust, home made crust, crust you buy from Sam’s etc
·         1-2 c Italian sausage
·         1 c frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
·         ¼ c Parmesan
·         ½ c cottage cheese
·         ½ tsp basil and oregano
·         1 c mozzarella cheese
·         1 c diced tomatoes
Combine spinach, cottage cheese, parmesan, basil and oregano.  Divide dough into four pieces.  Roll out each piece into a large rectangle.  Top each piece with ¼ of the tomatoes, sausage, and spinach mixture, keeping toppings on one end of the rectangle.  Fold over the non-covered half and crimp edges.  Carefully move to a baking sheet and top with olive oil and some kosher salt.  Cut slits in top of calzone and bake until crust is cooked. 

Grocery Deals 7/27+

While this isn’t a grocery deal in the traditional sense.  HEB announced a promotion to compete with Wal-Mart’s gas savings.  If you pay for gas with an HEB card, you can save 11 cents per gallon on fuel.  Down in our neck of the woods we’ll have to compare that with Mustang Travel who has kept their gas at $3.39 for the better part of July despite the increases all around Austin. 

HEB                        blueberries $2/pt, green grapes 1.97 (vs. 2.49 Randalls), carrots .48, cilantro .25, organic leaf lettuce .97, chicken breast $1/lb, boneless chicken 1.97/lb

Randalls               London broil 1.99/lb, boneless pork chops 1.79/lb, boneless chicken 1.99/lb, cherries 1.97/lb (vs 2.47 HEB), Friday-Monday only: brailla pasta .89 (1 lb)

Sun Harvest & Sprouts   their ads are now exactly the same starting this week
Cantaloupe .69, red grapes .99/lb (vs 2.49 Randalls), nectarines, plums and peaches .88/lb, oranges .69/lb, onion .49/lb, green bell peppers .49, green beans .88/lb, red potatoes .88/lb, celery .88, lettuce .88, zuchinni .88/lb (vs 1.27 HEB), cheddar 2.99 (vs 4.99 HEB)/lb, boneless chicken 1.67/lb

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Because I love my son (and why you need algebra)

So because I love my eldest son C, I have allowed him to take over this blog for this one time.  If you guys like it I just might allow him to contribute again.  So, C here you go...please be careful.

Thanks Mom for allowing me to share my experience with the loyal readers of You,More Organized.  This is the story of a wife whose only desire for the backyard was a nice place to sit and enjoy the cool of the morning and evening with our newly born child (more on that later).  And yes here in the great white north of St. Louis, MO we have the cool of the morning and evening.  You should be jealous at least until it snows 6 inches in April. 

All the wife wanted was a nice place to sit but I was not excited about a purchase that would sit here.

Small, crowded, uneven... not a place worthy of a large investment in patio furniture.  So after the wife and I got back from the farmer's market I unceremoniously began to work on this diappointment of a patio.  

If you are a frequent reader of this blog you that my mother is frugal, to say the least, and I am a product of her monetary policies.  I am a cheapskate too.  In order to make this the most economical patio rehab, I decided to use the bricks of the old patio and the stepping stones, similar to those in the foreground, that lead to the other side of the house. 

Here is where those miserable years of 7th and 8th grade math matter in your adult life (not that my math teacher was miserable).  Here is a word problem that caused many a tear in the More Organized household.  How big of a patio can a man make with 125 bricks without making any cuts.  The patio also needs to be either a square or a rectangle.  Each brick is 15.5 inches by 7.5 inches.  To spare you from any tears here is my work...

Well for those of you who don't care for math, it works out to be a patio that is 11x9 with maybe 3 bricks leftover.  So, with my algebra done and many thanks to Mr.G for teaching me I proceeded...

First I pulled up all the bricks to expose the sand underneath and the grass that had taken root.  And then all I had was sand.
Yes that is a SNOW shovel which worked really well for smoothing out the surface.  It looks like I have dug out all the requesite dirt and grass and have started to place the new sand for the expanded patio. 

Now begins the arduous task of replacing the bricks...

An hour-ish into the placement..  I tried as best I could to keep the lines straight and keep everything relatively level.  It turns out that my excavation work was a little less than perfect but I will end up putting the BBQ pits on the worst areas see end pictures.

Now a little later...
And I think this next picture is when the number of bricks laid was the same as the entire old patio or it is half way and the previous picture was to show the expanded size.  Either way you get the idea...

If you look carefully in the picture below you can see the hatchet which made a surprisingly good tool to cut grass in order to fill in the holes from the old stepping stones and a motivator for the bricks to fit together properly.

This Saturday was only kind of warm but I was hot and tired so I stopped and ate dinner.  I think it was a frozen pizza but I fully reccomend whatever the More Organized author suggested. 

This is the end result on Sunday

The end result did not match my algebra because things always work out better on paper than in real life.  Paper is not nearly as hot as the July sun or as difficult and dirty as a shovel.  If memory serves I had enough bricks for one more row on the far left.

When it was all said and done I spent ~8 hours of my labor and less than $30 on sand.  Moral of the story do your own manual labor and you get to write a blog for your mom and get a sense of accomplishment.

The wife did go and buy patio furniture the next weekend and it is spectacular...but I don't have any pictures of it. 

Thanks More Organized Mom for letting me do this.

-You are welcome son.  Thanks for giving me time to compile the next set of menus. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Weekly Menu 7/23+

Saturday chicken fajitas
beans & rice
grilled peaches
Sunday lasagna
garlic bread
lemon cake
Monday grilled fajita caesar salad
Tuesday chicken fried steak
mashed potatoes
green beans
Wednesday oven baked chicken
Thursday farmers casserole
Friday sausage wraps
mac & cheese

Last week was all of my favorites, this week it’s Clayton’s birthday and we’ll have three of his favorites. 

1.        Cook extra meat tonight so you’ll have some leftover on Monday.
Chicken Fajitas
Add-ons that you like
Rice & Beans
Grilled Peaches
Drizzle a tiny amount of honey on a pitted peach.  Place face down on the upper part of the grill where it is not over direct heat.   Somehow the cooking of the peach just brings out a little extra flavor.
Grilled Peaches
Drizzle a tiny amount of honey on a pitted peach.  Place face down on the upper part of the grill where it is not over direct heat.   Somehow the cooking of the peach just brings out a little extra flavor.

1.        This is a great recipe to double and put one in the freezer for later.  You will only spend an extra 10-15 minutes in overall prep, but you’ll save an extra 45 min to an hour later on by not having to start from scratch. 
2.       The key to making this second pan is to not cook it before you put it in the freezer.  That way it is fresh (good) and not a leftover (not as appealing).
3.       One more key here is that if you have teen-aged boys who are always trolling the fridge for something to eat, it is best to label any unbaked items in the fridge.  Particularly if it’s lasagna.  One particular guy cut himself a nice sized hunk of lasagna one day, heated it up in the microwave and thought it was a little crunchy.  It was; the no-boil noodles had not been cooked because the whole pan had not been baked yet.  When asked for menu suggestions this week, he wrote down fully-cooked lasagna. 
4.       If you have extra veggies that you want to work into the sauce you can grate or chop them up and your family will likely never know they are getting an extra bit of veggie.
Lasagna (single pan)
·         2 c cooked ground meat (beef, turkey, Italian sausage)
·         1 c chopped onion
·         2 cloves garlic, minced
·         16oz can diced or pureed tomatoes
·         8oz can tomato sauce
·         6oz can tomato paste
·         1 T Italian seasoning (basil, oregano)
·         ¼ tsp black pepper
·         No-boil lasagna noodles
·         2 eggs
·         2 c cottage cheese
·         ¼ c Parmesan cheese
·         2T parsley
·         6 oz provolone cheese slices
Sautee onions and garlic in olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add in meat, tomatoes, seasonings and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer covered for 15 minutes; stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile mix filling ingredients in a bowl: egg, cottage cheese, parmesan, parsley.  Spread about half cup of sauce on bottom of 9x13 pan.  Then layer noodles, overlapping as necessary.  Top with half of the filling mix, half of the provolone cheese and then half of the tomato sauce.  Repeat layers.  Sprinkle additional parmesan on top if desired.  This is the place to put your spare pan into fridge/freezer.  Bake 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.  Extend baking time to 45 min for a cold lasagna. 

Garlic Bread
Lemon Cake

1.        Hopefully you have some leftover chicken from Saturday for this.
Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
·         Chopped romaine
·         Grilled chicken
·         Garlic croutons
·         Parmesan cheese
·         Caesar salad dressing

1.       Clayton suggested this menu to counteract the salad of Monday night.
2.       Double the gravy recipe tonight and set aside half of it for Friday night’s mac & cheese. 
3.       Get your meat onto the ‘simmer’ stage and then you’ll have time to get the potatoes and other items ready too.  It might be a bit much for a Tuesday night, but feel free to shift things around. 
Chicken Fried Steak
·         1 lb round steak ½” thick; cut into serving sized pieces or use tenderized cube steak
·         1c flour+ 1 sleeve zesta saltines crushed + salt and pepper
·         1 egg, beaten
·         ¼ c milk
·         2T oil
Pound steak between sheets of waxed paper, if you didn’t buy tenderized meat to start with.  In shallow bowl combine flour and saltines.  In another bowl combine milk and egg.  Dredge meat through milk and then into flour.  A double trip through the milk and flour makes an extra thick crust.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat; place meat in skillet without letting pieces touch.  Cook about six minutes per side, turning once.  Add more oil if necessary.  Return all meat to skillet.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Cover and cook for 45-60 minutes or until meat is tender.  This is a step most restaurants skip today. 

Mashed Potatoes
·         ¼ c butter
·         ¼ c flour
·         2c milk
·         Salt & pepper
Melt butter, add flour salt and pepper let it brown just a little and then add milk.  Stir all around until the flour/butter mixture melts into the milk.  Then let it get bubbly and thick. 
Green Beans

1.        Clayton says this one is for old time’s sake.
Baked Chicken
Stove Top Stuffing

Farmer’s Casserole
·         3 c frozen hash browns
·         ¾ c grated Monterrey jack or cheddar cheese or Colby Jack
·         1 c diced chopped ham
·         ¼ c chopped green onions
·         4 eggs, beaten
·         1 ½ c milk
·         Salt and pepper
Coat 2 qt square baking dish with non-stick spray.  Arrange potatoes evenly in bottom of dish.  Sprinkle with cheese, ham and green onions.  In a bowl, combine eggs, milk and salt and pepper.  Pour over potatoes.  Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven 40-45  minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Sausage Wraps
Mac & Cheese
·         Using the leftover gravy from Tuesday
·         6 slices American Cheese
·         1 c cottage cheese
·         1 c grated cheddar cheese
·         2 c cooked macaroni elbow or shells