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Monday, January 30, 2012

Tuesday's Terrific Tip--Plan ahead projects


Shortly after I started the TTT section this year I received an email from a fellow school mom, J.  She has two kids, in 5th and 7th grade and for several years they have made Valentines for every kid in their grade over the MLK holiday.  

I called her and asked if she could take pictures, but then life came up and things didn't happen the way she planned, but I got this great tip to share with you.  Take it away J.... 

We aren't going to have any photos of the Valentines but, they are finished.  Here's a summary of what we do.

After Christmas, the next major holiday other than my husband's and my birthdays is Valentine's. J  Typically, I use the Current catalog after Christmas sale to place an order for Valentine cards right after Christmas.  My children love to give Valentines not only to his/her respective class but, also to the rest of his/her grade.  That means about 80 Valentines.  We start once the cards come in because if we wait the night before, it's chaos to get them all done along with homework and any activities that we have.  We usually have a three day weekend between Christmas and Valentine's and that's when we get a majority of the work done.  

To help with the process, I make a couple of pages of labels with a heart on them that say 'to' and 'from' my child. That way, it's easy to put a name on the label and stick it on the Valentine or goodie bag.  If time permits, we make some extra bags for neighbors or cousins.  Happy Valentine's, everyone!

Thanks J!  

This doesn't have to be limited to a kid driven or oriented project, especially if you don't have kids at home.  This can be helpful for anyone who has some big upcoming deadline.  

1.  Figure out when your project needs to be completed; sometimes it's not obvious.  Is there a deadline on cleaning out a closet??? While there might be ticking time-bombs in some, I've never seen one really go off.  In J's project it's pretty definite... the day school celebrates Valentine's day.  

2.  Think about how long you want to spend on it.  Does it need to be perfect?  Remember only Jesus is perfect.  Don't get hung up on some idea of perfection that it might keep you from finishing the project. Is fifteen minutes of work enough?  Will an organized junk drawer be enough??  Is cajoling your child to write his name 23 times sufficient to celebrate Valentine's day, or do you want to have him also write every kid's name too.  

3.  Think about your least busy days of the week and how many of those you have until you want your project to be finished.  For us that's Saturday and Sunday, but it could certainly be another day for you.  Divide up the work among them, leave a day in for spare time if you have that luxury.  

4.  Write down the next three things you need to do on the project.  Three is the magic number here because you won't get overwhelmed with there being 25 more steps to complete.  You've looked forward enough to see three steps... for J... order from Current, wait for stuff to arrive, wait for the holiday.  

5.  Do the very first thing you need to do on your project, either today, or on your next least busy day.  If it's order something, order it today, if it's make a decision, make it.  

Remember not making a decision is also making a decision.  It means you won't get to enjoy whatever your planning for as long as you delay.  

This might help too.  If the cost (time + money) of the decision is minor, then just make the decision.  Only if you're buying a house or a rocket ship should you fret over what to do.  Let the amount of time you spend making the decision be proportion to the investment you are making.    

6.  As you are putting your project up/away for a work day, write down the next three things you want to do.  Your mind is engaged in the project right then so write it down while you're thinking about it.  Later you'll appreciate your notes even more, especially if your project is a bit complicated; it helps with transition time the next time you want to work on the project.  It will be easy to pick up and get right back to work.  

7.  Keep working until you're finished or your deadline arrives.  When your deadline arrives, call it finished, even if it isn't.  Turn it in, drop it in the mail, check it off; whatever is appropriate for your project.  

8.  Start another project.  

I've actually been looking at some cute, and EASY, projects for Valentine's Day thanks to J's contribution and inspiration.  


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Time for Onions

It's time, here in the southern zones 8/9 to start working on our gardens.  In an effort to get out while it is still cool during the days this is a great time to plant onions.  After a $4 investment at the feed store for onion sets I hope to harvest at least 25-30 onions in the early summer.  That is of course, assuming Missy didn't leave instructions with the rabbits to eat and destroy anything growing in the garden.

My hope is that with all the green stuff to eat out in the pastures the bunnies will eat that and not the little onions stems that I so carefully placed.  Besides eating the onions will give them bad breath.

I started with a garden that I tilled over Christmas break and then generally smoothed out the soil with a rake.  How many other blogs show dirt as their lead picture?  Not many, I know.  Thanks for coming back here anyway.


Thankfully we've had rain so the soil is not completely broken up anymore, but as I started digging, things were still easy to turn over.


After I planted the white onions, I decided that it would be a good idea to sort the onion sets from largest to smallest.  Not because I need for everything to be sorted and organized, but because I wanted to have some measurable sort of way to see if the larger onion starts produced more onions in the end or if it was the tiny baby plants that produced the 'fruit' of my labors.

Just so I have a record of it here, the larger red onions are closest to the fence.
Just sayin, I might forget.
The white ones are in there all willy-nilly.

After breaking up the ground with my spading for, I used the fork to make little holes for these guys to drop right in, but apparently didn't bother to take a picture of that.  But three fork-widths across allowed for six onions per main row.

So here they all are, ready for what may come.
Oh but then just as I was leaving the garden I realized I had a small insurance policy against the rabbits, and their voracious onion eating ways and consequential bad breath.
I've had success with this tiny piece of wire protecting other plants from the rabbits, they don't like to be trapped under it, and so far they've not wanted to walk on top of it.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed this continues.

There's still all this garden space to fill, but that can wait until things warm up a little more.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Weekly Menu 1/28+


Saturday

chicken parmesan
pasta
salad
Sunday

orange glazed pork chops
rice
spinach
Monday

cheesy meatball skillet
peas
oranges
Tuesday

green chili corn casserole
Wednesday

sausage and spinach soup
Thursday

spoon venison
Friday

waffles
eggs
pineapple


Saturday
Chicken Parmesan
4 boneless chicken breasts
1 egg, slightly beaten
¾ c Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 c grated mozzarella
Preheat oven to 400.  Dip chicken in egg, then bread crumbs, coating well.  Place chicken in 9x13 pan.  Bake uncovered 20 minutes.  Pour sauce over chicken, then top with cheese.  Bake an additional 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. 

Pasta
Salad

Sunday
     I know at least one of you doesn’t like fruited meat, you could skip the marmalade. 

Orange Glazed Pork Chops (Mom)
2 thick bone in pork chops (3/4”)
1 tsp corn starch
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1T soy sauce
1tsp water
¼ c orange marmalade
1T lime juice
1 ½ tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
In a small saucepan, combine the cornstarch, ginger, soy sauce and water until smooth.  Stir in the marmalade, lime juice, oil and garlic until blended.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir mixture for 1-2 minutes until thickened.  Place chops in a greased baking dish.  Spoon glaze over pork, turn to coat.  Bake uncovered at 400 for 30-40 minutes. 

Rice
Spinach

Monday
Cheesy Meatball Skillet (Kraft Food & Family)
1 lb ground meat
10 saltines, crushed
¼ c Italian dressing (divided)
1 beef bouillon cube dissolved in ½ c boiling water
½ c sour cream
1 c grated cheddar
Mix meat, crackers and half of the dressing until well blended.  Shape into meatballs, or make a large rectangle about 1” thick on a sheet of wax paper.  Cut into squares and either form into round balls or cook as meat ‘cubes’.  Heat remaining dressing in large skillet and cook meatballs about 8 minutes until browned.  Add bouillon; simmer 5 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.  Stir in sour cream and heat through.  Remove from heat.  Sprinkle with cheese; cover.  Let stand 5 minutes or until cheese melts. 

Twisty Noodles (Rotini)
Peas
Oranges

Tuesday
Green Chili Corn Casserole (Texas Co-op Magazine)
¼ c butter
½ c onion, finely chopped
1 poblano pepper, finely chopped
Pinch of salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c sour cream
1 egg, beaten
1-2 c cooked chicken
1 can white corn, drained
1 can Mexicorn, drained (does this exist in MI??? J)
1 can creamed corn
3 cans diced green chilies
1 c grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 c grated pepper jack
9oz corn muffin mix (ie Jiffy)
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter and sauté onion, pepper and garlic.  Allow to cool.  Preheat oven to 350.  In large bowl add onion mix, sour cream, egg, corn, green chilies, and ½ c of each cheese.  Add corn muffin mix and stir until moistened.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour mixture into greased 2 ½ quart round (I bet square would work too) casserole dish.  Bake 45 minutes.  Remove from oven, top with remaining cheese, return to oven for additional 15 minutes. 

Baked Apples (Betty Crocker)
2 large crisp apples (Gala or Fuji)
2T raisins or sweetened dried cranberries
2T packed brown sugar
4tsp butter or margarine, softened
¼ c granola or crushed granola bars
Milk, cream or fruit-flavored yogurt, if desired
Cut apples in half lengthwise. Using spoon, remove and discard cores, making at least a 1-inch indentation in each apple half. In microwavable pie plate, arrange apple halves, cut sides up. If needed, cut thin slice off bottoms to keep halves from tipping. Fill each apple half evenly with raisins and brown sugar; dot with butter. Cover with microwavable plastic wrap, folding back one edge 1/4 inch to vent steam. Microwave on High 5 to 6 minutes or until apples are tender. Top each with granola. Serve with milk.

You can also bake these apples in the oven while you corn casserole bakes too. 


Wednesday
Sausage Spinach Soup
2 c Italian sausage, cooked
1 medium onion chopped
½ tsp minced garlic
1 tsp basil
½ tsp oregano
½ c water
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can chicken broth
16 oz diced mushrooms
2 ½ c baby spinach
Romano cheese
Sauté onion and garlic in 1T olive oil, add cooked sausage, add seasonings, water, tomatoes, broth.  Bring to a boil and cook until slightly thickened.  Remove from heat and add spinach and mushrooms (if you prefer you mushrooms cooked more you can use canned, or add them earlier).  Serve with cheese sprinkled on top

Crusty Bread

Thursday
Spoon Venison (or beef roast) (Tx Highways, 12/99)
1 ½ T olive oil
3lb venison
1 ½ T garlic
1 large onion, chopped
1 ½ lb mushrooms or 3 cans
Juice of 2 lemons + white wine = 1 ½ c total
1 ½ c beef broth
3 cans cream mushroom soup
6 banana pepper
3 sprigs rosemary
Combine all ingredients into a crockpot and cook all day.

Buttered Noodles
Green Beans

Friday
Waffles or pancakes
If you want to get fancy with the waffles or pancakes you can substitute 1 c cake mix for 1 c bisquick. 
Eggs
Pineapple (fresh or canned)

5+ Inches of RAIN

Despite a long sleepless night as the rain poured down from 2:30 to 5:30 in solid sheets, we are VERY thankful for all 5+ inches of rain we received last night.  The rain gauge worked great (see the bright orange disk at the top???, this was as close as I could get to it without getting into ankle deep water.

This is what the tank looked like after a full day of run-off.
It was much closer to the yard fence this morning, but it was too dark for pictures when we left for school.  People were surprised to see us, but we had very little traffic and no water in the road or anything unusual.

YEA GOD!!!! Thank You for the wonderful rain!!!!

Grocery Deals 1/25+


Sprouts      grapefruit .17 (vs .20 HEB), oragnes .77/lb (vs. 1.49 Randalls), tangelos .77/lb, blueberries 2.50 (pint), apples .88/lb, celery .77, sweet potatoes .77/lb, avocado .77, roma tomatoes .77/lb (vs. .88/lb Randalls), grape tomatoes 1.25, red potatoes .99/lb, green beans .99/lb, red/yellow peppers .88, broccoli .88/lb, Gluten Free Jubilee 25% off, chicken tenders 1.97/lb
 
HEB            blackberries .97, apples .99, mangos .50, Prego spaghetti sauce 1.79, roast 2.97/lb, pork loin 1.97/lb, boneless chicken 1.97/lb, potato chips 1.50
 
Randalls   Meat Sale… pork roast 1.29/lb, thick bacon $9/3#, 85% ground beef 1.99/lb, cross rib roast 2.49/lb, leg quarters .59/lb, grapes 1.48/lb

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Another 'Tough' Texas Winter

I know some of you out there in blog land are in the middle of winter.  Frigid temperatures, ice, snow and all of the other special things related to the coldest season, though apparently not five blankets on your beds (just sayin).

This evening we got home before dark, partially thanks to the days getting longer (yea!) and partially because I left work in just the 'right' window today and there wasn't as much traffic.  So instead of jumping into dinner prep right away I joined J outside as he sped around on his tricycle treating it as a scooter.  Bicycles are not permitted here, but that's another story and it's not mine to tell.

During our hike Sunday evening J mentioned that he just wanted to lay down in the green grass of where we hiked.  Tonight he did just that and while he was busy relaxing,  

you know for all of two seconds.

It dawned on him.
Hey, I can make a snow angel, but it's not really a snow angel, it's more of a clover angel. 
So he did.
Need more signs of winter?  He and his friend had a clover-ball fight Sunday afternoon too, but I didn't capture that on camera.  It's just like snow, but a little more difficult to get out the stains in the laundry.

Those of you in the Northern hinterlands, did you notice his short sleeves?  We put the shorts away (again) in favor of long pants, after all we had a cold front come in last night.  And that my friends is how we 'survive' winters in Texas.  


Monday, January 23, 2012

Terrific Tuesday Tip--Clean Sweep a Room

Before we get started on this week's tip I got a follow up on the ice cream from M that I thought was worth sharing.
I am sure someone else does this but just in case—a minute on defrost in the microware makes getting the ice cream out of carton so much easier. When planning to serve pie a la mode for eight or more, remove eight balls of ice cream and shape into a perfect round with gloved hands (plastic) and freeze in a separate container—all ready to serve!

This is a little bit of a stretch for a tip, but it might help someone out and that's the point.  I'm going to let you in on a little secret.  I'm not the best housekeeper.  If I know you are coming to my house, I can straighten it up.  I can even clean it up.  But here's the thing.  I don't like to do it.

There have been times over the years when I started a cleaning spree that my older boys would often ask, "Who's coming over?"  This my dear readers is how I have time to do so many other things.  :)

Don't get me wrong, I like having a clean house.  I just don't like being the one to get it to that state.  Whew.  I'm glad to get that off my chest.

So, because I'm not a fan of cleaning up there are days that things get a bit out of control and "I have had enough."  Full disclosure here.  I could not make myself take a picture of the before on this one, but we'll just say it wasn't pretty.  This is about the process when things are out of control.  You'd be too side tracked by the visual otherwise.

The living room, which in our house gathers LOTS of things that belong somewhere else, I start at one point in the room.  As you pick those things up, put them near the doorway that leads out of the room.  Don't go put them away one by one.  Just allow them to stack up in a pile sorted based on their final destination.

Oh did you notice there were quite a few toys in that one pile???  I did too.  They just walk in there on their own.  If S read the blog, he would see that we honored his request and saved some of his firecrackers.

Then work your way around the room, picking up, straightening up, folding blankets, putting more items near the door.  Once you've made it around the room it's now safe to take a picture to show to the world, ignore the excessive light pouring in the windows overexposing the picture.
Then you can address, or better yet have others help you put their things away now that you got them all gathered together for them.

Usually by the time I get to this state, I'm satisfied and I find something better to do besides continuing to clean.

It's about time to have visitors again, things are starting to get out of hand.  Anyone want to come over?  Love to have you, just call first.  :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Only the Lonely

A week in review....
Last Friday night was the last time anyone (including a couple of neighbors) saw Only Dog.
Yes, he looks like he just lays around, but since he was a stray who came to stay/live at our house 3+ years ago he is actually a 'man about town' in our neighborhood.  He takes/took himself on walkabout twice a day.  Usually he'd check in with several of the neighbors, including walking half a mile through a pasture to check in with how things are going at K's brother in law's house.

In the evenings, as we were heading home from work, we regularly saw him near the water tower two miles from the house or somewhere along the road.  If he saw our car, yes he knew our cars, he would turn around and come back home.  He never missed a meal and always spent the night at our house on or near this pillow.

There was not even a tuft of fur left in the yard.  At least the last batch of chickens left a feather.  There was no evidence of him anywhere that we could see on our place.

When I talked to B the other night she suggested we might have a  chupacabra eating everything.  I'm starting to wonder, and also starting to wonder if I should let J play outside.   

Instead, we are watching to see if he comes back.

But so far, nuttin. Perhaps that's just the tough life of livin in the country.

These two chickens

welcomed these four chickens late Monday afternoon.
They apparently have heard about what happens to chickens who wander too far from the coop.  Because these four girls are sticking close to home on their second day with us.

If you're curious, and I'm certain you must be, these new girls are a different breed of chicken than the ones we've been buying.  They are definitely taller, if one chicken can be taller than another.  These are New Hampshire Reds which is what eventually was bred into the 'nearby' Rhode Island Red.  I'm really hoping that whatever has been eating the previous chickens dislikes the taste of Yankee chicken.

When I went to the chicken farm and was taking the tour I came really close to bringing home the black and white chicken that lays blue/green eggs, but the guy said my neighbor D was headed over there to buy that one in a few days, but maybe next time.  Have you picked her up yet D?
Thanks to D we paid a few dollars less per chicken.  My cost per dozen eggs just keeps going up, but this isn't a Frugal Friday post, so I'm ignoring the costs at the moment.

You might have noticed the green 'grass' in the yard.  Yes, it is winter.


This is clover and it is coming up everywhere thanks to some wonderfully rain and a few 75 degree days every week.  The red cow and her baby are just not keeping up in eating it all down.  It is wonderful to see green again after the very brown and dry summer.

Finally,another project that I started and thought I could show some good progress on and provide a little positive news to an otherwise disturbing post.

I'd like to say that I remembered to take pictures at more stages, to show how things came together, but I didn't.  I was too excited while sewing things together to remember to get up and get the camera.


It's time for my favorite part, the quilting, to begin.

Until next time...
Only the lonely
Dum dum dum, dooby doo wah....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Weekly Menu 1/21+


Saturday

italian roast
carrots
butterhorns
chocolate pudding
Sunday
skillet chicken w/ creamy
pesto-mushroom sauce
pasta
squash
Monday

1-dish taco bake
ez refried beans
cherry tomatoes
Tuesday

shrimp scampi
angel hair pasta
broccoli
Wednesday

pork chop stuffing bake
Thursday

baked chicken
creamed corn
Friday

frito pie
broccoli strawberry salad



Saturday
1.   Mix this dough up the night before, it needs to chill.  The rising happens just before baking.
2.   The butterhorn recipe is from Kay.  I think she learned to make these in 7th grade Home Ec, but I didn’t write that part down.  We won’t mention what year that was, but Kay if you want to leave the origins in the comments, feel free to help me get it right. J 
3.   These are WAY better than Pillsbury crescent rolls. And this doubles really easily. 
Italian Roast
2-3lb roast
1 packet Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix
1 bottle of beer
½ onion chopped
1 c carrots
Place carrots and onions in bottom of crock pot, add roast, then beer, top with dry seasoning mix.  Cook on low all day. 

Carrots
Butterhorns (Kay’s collection)
1 tsp yeast
½ c sugar
½ c shortening
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
4 c flour
Butter
Dissolve yeast in 3T warm water; let sit for 5 minutes.  Combine next four ingredients with 1 c warm (130 degree) water.  Stir in yeast and remaining flour and mix well.  Refrigerate overnight.  Roll into a circle, brush with melted butter.  Cut into 16 wedges.  Roll like a crescent roll.  Place on a creased baking sheet.  Let rise till double.  Bake at 350, 12-15 minutes. 

Chocolate Pudding

Sunday
1.Later this year I’ll try to remember to list this for Halloween night.  9 cloves of garlic????
Skillet Chicken w/Creamy Pesto Mushroom Sauce
3T olive oil
6 boneless chicken breasts
Salt & pepper, to taste
15 oz sliced mushrooms
9 cloves of garlic, pressed
¾ c heavy cream
½ c chicken broth
½ c jarred basil pesto
Heat oil in large skillet with tight fitting lid.  Salt & pepper chicken, but don’t taste it yet, sauté until browned on both sides, but not cooked through.  Remove from skillet and keep warm.  Cook mushrooms until browned, about five minutes.  Add garlic, cream and broth; bring to a boil.  Add chicken, reduce heat, cover (why you needed the tight fitting lid) and simmer gently for 15 minutes (til chicken is cooked through); remove from skillet (yes, again) and keep warm (again).  Raise heat to high, cook sauce for 5 more minutes to thicken the sauce.  Remove from heat and stir in pesto and 1T lemon juice (if you like that sort of thing).  Serve sauce over the chicken. 

Pasta
Squash


Monday
1-Dish Taco Bake (Fleishman’s Yeast)
Taco Meat Mixture
2 c cooked ground beef
Taco seasoning + water
Batter
½ c corn meal
¾ c flour
2 envelopes rapid rise yeast
1T sugar
½ tsp salt
¾ c milk (very warm 120-130 degrees)
3T oil
1 egg
Toppings:
1 c chunky salsa
4 oz shredded cheese
1 c corn chips; partially crushed
Combine ground beef and taco seasoning according to package. Mix batter ingredients together in a pre-sprayed 8x8 baking dish.  Top batter with taco meat mixture.  Pour salsa evenly over meat; sprinkle with cheese and corn chips.  Bake by placing in a COLD oven; set temperature to 350 degrees.  Bake for 30 minutes or until done.

EZ Refried Beans
Combine canned refried beans with spreadable chive cream cheese.  So yummy and super easy.
Cherry Tomatoes

Tuesday
1.    This is a super easy recipe and you can thaw the shrimp in a bowl of cold water in less than 15 minutes.  So put the shrimp in to thaw before you go change your clothes from work. 
Shrimp Scampi
1 pkg (16 oz) frozen raw shrimp (31-35 per lb), thawed, peeled, and patted dry
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Melt butter and mix with pressed garlic; set aside. Heat oil in a large fry pan (cast iron is best). Toss shrimp with flour and salt until coated, then add to heated oil. Cook shrimp on first side until pink color creeps about 1/3 of the way up the side, then turn over. Cook until thoroughly cooked through. Add butter and garlic mixture and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes, stirring gently. Serve immediately over pasta.

Angel Hair Pasta
Broccoli

Wednesday
Pork Chops with Stuffing Bake (adapted from Kraft Food & Family)
1 package Stove Top
6 pork chops
Olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 onion, chopped
½ tsp thyme
½ c grated cheddar cheese
Prepare stuffing mix as directed.  Sauté onions in oil and brown seasoned chops 4 min on each side.  Add soup and thyme scraping up bits of pork chops left in pan; spoon over chops.  Top with stuffing and sprinkle with cheese.  Bake 20-30 minutes or until chops are done (160 degrees).  This all happens in your skillet.  Chances are very good your handle is heat resistant to 450 degrees, but if you’re not sure wrap it in several layers of foil before sending it into the oven. 

Green Beans

Thursday
Baked Chicken
Creamed Corn (menus4moms.com)
12 oz. bag frozen white shoepeg corn or yellow corn
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Thaw corn. Melt butter and in a blender, combine ½ of corn, butter, water, and sugar. Blend until creamy with bits of corn left in the mix (or you can skip this step).  In a frying pan, over medium heat, mix milk, cornstarch, salt and pepper, stirring constantly with a whisk to get rid of any lumps.  Add corn mixture, plus remaining corn and heat, stirring occasionally, until thick and bubbly.
Salad

Friday
Frito Pie
Fritos
Chili
Cheese
Chopped onions
Layer ingredients in individual bowls.     

Broccoli Salad (Quick Cooking)
2c chopped broccoli
½ c cheese cubes
¼ c slivered almonds
½ -1 c chopped strawberries (or another berry if the strawberries don’t look good at your store)
½ c mayonnaise
½ t apple cider vinegar
2T sugar
Combine broccoli, almonds and cheese.  In a separate bowl mix mayo, vinegar and sugar until combined.  Mix with broccoli.  Chill (if you have time).  Just before serving add strawberries.

Grocery Deals 1/18+


Sprouts     blackberries .88, oranges .88/lb, apples .88/lb, pears .88/lb, cherries 2.99/lb (vs 4.99 Randalls), celery .88, grape tomatoes 1.25, lettuce .88, broccoli .88/lb, boneless thighs 1.88/lb, pork loin roast 1.88/lb
Gluten Free Jubilee 25% off,
Fri/Sat/Sunday only:  boneless chicken 1.77/lb (vs 2.49/lb Randalls), bulk cheddar 1.99/lb, pineapple $1

HEB            strawberries 1.77 (vs $2 Sprouts), tangelos .47/lb (vs .88 Sprouts), bulk potatoes .50/lb, roast 1.97/lb, whole chickens .67/lb

Randalls     pork chops 1.49/lb (vs 1.97 HEB), campbell’s soup $1 (a good time to get the specialty soups)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Terrific Tuesday Tip-- I scream

I scream.  You scream.  We all scream for ice cream.  


We're screaming because it's a tough job to get the ice cream dished up.  Not that it stops me from buying ice cream, but...

My friend who lives in SoHo, that's South of Houston for you non-Yanks, came up with a great idea that I wanted to share with you.  I don't think she was pounding her head searching for anything more interesting than making the bed.  In fact she sent me the pictures to this idea a week earlier than that post.

I'll let S tell the story of how she pre-scoops BlueBell.  Any of those other air-filled-non-fat ice creams that aren't rock hard coming out of the freezer probably don't need this extra treatment, but then again would you eat something besides BlueBell?  Me either.

Take it away S...

While you are enjoying a bowl of ice cream, leave the half gallon on the counter.  When you are finished eating (and the ice cream is a little bit softer) scoop several scoops for your next eating expedition and leave them inside the container.  Put the lid on and put back in freezer.  The next time you want ice cream, your scoops are already done.  Just dislodge and put in your bowl.  Repeat for next time.




I don't make round scoops like at Baskin Robbins, because we don't use ice cream cones - just a bowl.  If you wanted it to be pretty, you could make your cone scoops nice and round first and then put back in freezer.  I just do chunks to go in a bowl.  If when you pull it out of the freezer, the chunks are stuck together, then wait two minutes, and they unstick. 




Thanks S!  


Mmmm.  Did we need two pictures of the ice cream?  Yes.  Because it looks so delicious! 


Great idea!  Anyone else have an idea?  Leave it in the comments, or drop me a note.  





Friday, January 13, 2012

It's Getting Lonely Out Here...

Isn't this a beautiful sunset?  I stopped on the drive home and snapped this, knowing it wouldn't be this pretty when I drove the remaining two miles to the house.
J was very concerned about whether or not we'd be holding up traffic what with me stopping in the middle of the road and all.  We didn't.

In fact we didn't see another vehicle driving on the road, the rest of the way home.  Mr.S was at his gate, but he was out of his truck so that doesn't count as traffic.

The sky was still nice when we got home, but after I changed clothes and started working on supper I looked out the window and was captivated by this...


and then this

But, my camera was just not capturing the magenta like I wanted it to.

But I kept trying....

Then I checked in on these girls, who are starting to feel alone.

Three more chickens disappeared Wednesday.

We have no idea what took them away, ate them or otherwise caused them to not be roosting with us anymore.  And L only found one feather of evidence, just outside the fence.

The good news???? J exclaimed as we got home, "At least my two favorites are still alive!"

Egg production is definitely going to be off.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Weekly Menu 1/14+




Saturday

chicken tenders
mozzarella cheese sticks
zucchini
Sunday

ham & cheddar loaf
cucumber/tomato salad
Monday

beef stroganoff
noodles
broccoli
Tuesday

crab cakes
squash
Wednesday

hearty taco soup
cornbread
Thursday

spaghetti
garlic bread
pineapple/banana salad
Friday

sausage wraps
tater tots
carrots

Saturday
Chicken Tenders
Mozzarella Sticks
Zucchini

Sunday
Ham & Cheddar Loaf (Kraft Food & Family)
1 lb frozen bread dough, thawed
8-9 oz shaved smoked ham
1 c grated cheddar cheese
1 /4 c miracle whip or mayo
1 egg, beaten
1 T parmesean cheese
Place dough on lightly floured surface; flatten slightly with hands, then roll into a 12x8 rectangle.  If dough is difficult to roll, cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling.  Top evenly with ham, leaving a ½” border around all sides.  Mix cheddar cheese and mayo; spread evenly over ham. Moisten edges of dough with water.  Starting at one of the long sides, fold over one third of the dough.  Repeat with other long side.  Firmly pinch ends of dough to seal.  Place, seams-side down on lightly greased baking sheet.  Cut three diagonal slits on top.  Brush with beaten egg; sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Bake 35-40 min at 350.  Cool 10 minutes. 

Cucumber/Tomato salad

Monday
Beef Stroganoff
1 lb roast; cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
2T flour
½ tsp garlic salt
½ tsp pepper
1-2 packages fresh mushrooms
1T butter
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 oz sour cream
Place all ingredients, except sour cream, into crockpot.  Cook all day.  Add sour cream, allow to heat through, and serve. 

Noodles
Broccoli

Tuesday
 I know, I don’t usually do ‘fish’ dishes, but these are really good and canned crab is not terribly expensive. 
Crab Cakes (Healthy Cooking)
2/3 c cornmeal
1/3 c milk
1 small sweet red pepper, finely chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1 tsp canola oil
2 eggs
1/3 c mayo (no miracle whip here)
¼ c  flour
¼ minced parsley
2T lemon juice
¼ tsp seafood seasoning
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
4 pouches (3.5 oz each) crabmeat, drained
1 c frozen corn, thawed
In a large bowl combine cornmeal and milk; set aside.  In a large non-stick skillet sauté red pepper and onions in oil until tender.  Remove from heat.  To the cornmeal mixture add eggs, mayo, flour, parsley, lemon juice, seasonings.  Fold in the crab, corn, and red pepper mixture.  Coat same skillet with cooking spray; drop crab mixture by scant ½ cupfuls into the pan.  Press into ¾” thick patties.  Cook in batches over medium heat for 4-6 min on each side or until golden brown. 

Squash

Wednesday
Hearty Taco Soup (CopyKat)
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1 packet taco seasoning mix
1(14 1/2 oz.) can beef broth
1(14 1/2 oz.) can peeled diced tomatoes with garlic and oregano (Italian style)
1 1/2 tomato cans of water
1(15 oz.) can Ranch Style Beans with jalapenos; undrained.
1(8 oz.) can whole kernel corn; undrained
2 small carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. ground oregano
salt to taste
dash Worcestershire sauce
1/3 c uncooked small pasta shells
grated cheddar or Monterey jack cheese for garnish
In large pot brown meat. Drain fat. Mix everything together except pasta and cheese. Bring to a boil, then simmer 5 minutes. Add pasta and continue to simmer until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes. Add more water to adjust consistency, if desired. Garnish with cheese.
CopyKat says, “I have tried this recipe and made some changes when I cook it. I leave out the cayenne pepper and I get the regular Ranch Style beans. My family doesn’t like hot, spicy foods. Also I noticed that the carrots do not get cooked enough in the short time it takes to stew. So I substitute a small can of carrots. I garnish with cheese in individual bowls, not the whole pot.”

Cornbread

Thursday
Spaghetti
Garlic Bread
Pineapple/banana salad
Combine canned or fresh pineapple with sliced bananas.  If you have a few fresh oranges that you can squeeze over the top, it will be an incredible dessert that will disappear. 

Friday
Sausage Wraps
Tater Tots
Carrots