Frigidaire and Jennifer Garner have teamed up to raise money for Save the Children. You can “Spin to Win” every day and Frigidaire will donate $1 to Save the Children, for every single spin. When you register and spin, you are entered into a drawing for a free Frigidaire washer and dryer, at the end [...]
Frigidaire and Jennifer Garner have teamed up to raise money for Save the Children. You can “Spin to Win” every day and Frigidaire will donate $1 to Save the Children, for every single spin. When you register and spin, you are entered into a drawing for a free Frigidaire washer and dryer, at the end of the campaign. Plus, there will be daily giveaways for all sorts of amazing prizes.
Last week, I posted about my new favorite blog, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, and was tickled to find this information on her site, today. She has been chosen by Frigidaire to test drive a whole new, stainless steel, Frigidaire Kitchen; so, you’ll want to check in with her blog occasionally to see how that is going.
Click on over to the “Make Time for Change” website, register and Spin to Win. Take a chance at some great prizes and do your part to help with Save the Children. Bookmark the page and visit it every day.
I have a renewed hope for spring. The seed catalogs are here! I would say by the time we moved last August, the most difficult thing for me to leave was my beautiful garden. We have never lived somewhere where I had the space and time to do it well, until then. And it became [...]
I have a renewed hope for spring. The seed catalogs are here!
I would say by the time we moved last August, the most difficult thing for me to leave was my beautiful garden. We have never lived somewhere where I had the space and time to do it well, until then. And it became a very therapeutic and relaxing project that produced a good crop for us and savings at the grocery store. I did 4×4 raised beds over an area that was probably 15′ x 40′. (This picture is the east half of it., right after planting.) Flowers, herbs and edible landscaping were interspersed through the gardenscape and it was so pretty as well as functional. It was a hard thing to leave behind. A great deal of the information I used in constructing it came from “Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space”. It is the best book on gardening I have ever read.
Here in Pleasant Dale we don’t have too much flat ground in the back yard. I desperately want to build a new garden, but can you put a garden in your front yard when you live in “town”. I use the term “town” loosely since at most, there are 50 houses in our little village and living at it’s southernmost edge, my front yard over looks “town”, but my back has a beautiful view of timber, creek and farm fields.
The backyard is a full on slope at a 35°-40° angle. Our house is also four stories tall out back, which means a couple levels of stairs to reach the back yard. The exercise would definitely be good, but I am afraid the garden wouldn’t get as much attention and it would definitely not have the protection from the abundant wildlife that frequents the creek and timber back there. I love the views from that side of the house and it would be absolutely gorgeous when it was finished. With an investment of time and money, we could eventually build in wide, flat terraces down the back slope and establish garden beds on them. I’m just not sure we are up to that kind of an investment, this year.
How do you all feel about front-yard gardening? The raised bed style garden can be extremely beautiful, but I don’t want to commit a gardening faux pas. I am considering taking out the four-foot wide flower bed along the driveway, that has been in dire need of attention the last couple of years, replacing the landscape timbers and creating some edible landscaping with blueberry bushes, rhubarb, strawberries, herbs and flowers. I even have one little section that I would like to dedicate to garlic since it would be confined there and not be able to spread into other areas. For the vegetables, I could create a sort of raised-bed “berm” with it’s trellises and maybe even a pretty arched arbor for a grapevine. What do you think? Too much for a front yard?
I really covet your opinions and suggestions. I am dreaming of heirloom tomatoes, fresh cucumbers, jalapenos and basil and these seed catalogs are calling to me in loud, persistent shouts. They are not using their indoor voices and I am about to succumb, but first I need a plan. Lend me your garden guru wisdom and I will make you proud.
This page will grow over time. It’s going to be a place for excellent ideas and tidbits that don’t really merit their own full blog, but are too good not to share. #1 Green Onion Tops for Free! I saw this tip on the Food Network (my secret obsession). They were having a competition to [...]
This page will grow over time. It’s going to be a place for excellent ideas and tidbits that don’t really merit their own full blog, but are too good not to share.
#1 Green Onion Tops for Free!
I saw this tip on the Food Network (my secret obsession). They were having a competition to find the next Food Network Star and the woman who won in the end, Melissa D’Arabian, shared this most amazing tip. It was blowing my mind that this might actually be possible, so before I proclaimed it as gospel to all of you, I tested it in my own kitchen. It absolutely works!
Cut the tops from your green onions and use them for cooking, but place the root ends in a glass of water in your kitchen. In a couple days, the roots will generate brand new green tops. I’m not sure how long this can go on, but I am on my second “sprouting” and having good success. Change the water every day or two, so it doesn’t get cloudy and enjoy fresh green onion tops to season all your favorite dishes.
#2 Bulk Cooking Rice in Your Crockpot and Freezing Successfully
I love fresh rice, but I don’t always remember to start it early enough to be done with the rest of the meal. I could buy the “minute” varieties, but they are SO much more expensive. You can make fluffy, delicious rice (white or brown) in your crockpot and large quanties of it are only pennies. The average 2 cup bag of rice is around 50¢ and will yield about 5-6 cups! Cooking it ahead and freezing in recipe portion sizes, means you will always have time to add rice to a “quick-fix” meal.
Start by rubbing a tablespoon of butter over the complete inside surface of your crockpot. This will help to prevent sticking and add a slight bit of flavor. Add 8 cups of water, a teaspoon of salt and 4 cups of the rice of your choice. Cover crockpot and set on high. Your rice will take 1½ to 2½ hours to cook as crockpots can vary somewhat. After the first 1½ hours, check at 30 minute intervals to see if it is done. Mine almost always takes the full 2½ and it will seem like it isn’t cooking at all until the last half hour or so.
When all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, immediately dump it into a large strainer and rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking. This step is critical if you plan to freeze it for future use. Forgetting to rinse it cool, now, will result in sticky rice, later.
Drain the rice thoroughly. Divide into zip-top freezer bags, pressing them flat as you seal them, so your bags store neatly in a small amount of space.
I freeze rice in quart-size bags. To use the frozen rice, I put the zip-top bag in the microwave for about 5 minutes. The bag puffs up as the steam builds and the rice reheats, perfect and ready to serve. If you don’t want to use the bag for reheating, any microwaveable dish with a tight-fitting lid should work great.
Well today is day 8 of our challenge and I haven’t blogged in a few days. I have been taking pictures along the way and so, will cover the highlights. Saturday my awesome husband brought take-out pizza, so I didn’t have to cook anything at all for supper! What a nice break. Sunday, I made [...]
Well today is day 8 of our challenge and I haven’t blogged in a few days. I have been taking pictures along the way and so, will cover the highlights. Saturday my awesome husband brought take-out pizza, so I didn’t have to cook anything at all for supper! What a nice break.
Sunday, I made a typical family favorite, “roast beast”. It’s been so long, I can’t even remember which one of our children started it, but at some point, one of them thought we were saying “roast beast” when we said roast beef. They would get so-o-o-o excited any time they knew we were having it and proclaim the wonders of “roast beast” to anyone who would listen. Over the years, the name has just stuck. Going through the freezer, I found a top round roast and fixed “roast beast” with potatoes and fresh string beans. Yum! The highlight of Sunday was a new recipe I found for brownies. No more box mixes for us.
I found this yummy brownie recipe at Recipezaar and I didn’t change one single thing. That’s a HUGE deal for me! They are moist, chocolatey and delicious! A big thank you to their contributor, Karen=^..^= . We doubled the recipe posted at Recipezaar and baked in a 9×13 pan with excellent results.
“Whatever Floats Your Boat” Brownies
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup cocoa
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 Tbls. vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
Melt butter in microwave safe mixing bowl. Mix in cocoa.
Mix in eggs and vanilla.
Add flour and salt and mix until incorporated.
At this point we added a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips and a half cup of pecans. The recipe author makes suggestions for other add-ins, like: chocolate chips (semisweet, white, butterscotch, peanut butter) or raisins or chopped maraschino cherry or chopped nuts or M&M’ or Reese’s pieces or miniature marshmallow.
Spread batter in greased 9×13 pan and bake at 350° for 25 minutes. Do not overbake or they will be too dry. Delicious! The perfect fix for a chocolate attack!
Monday, I tried something brand new with chicken and I love it, love it, love it! It was fast and simple to prepare, delicious and made tons of leftovers that will be excellent lunches! When I first read the recipe, it seemed like an unusual combination of ingredients, but it was awesome. The original recipe is at Recipezaar and posted below is the way we made it with my typical adjustments and changes. I did not have black beans in the pantry, but I cook my dry beans in bulk and then freeze them in quart bags, so I used red beans from the freezer instead. We also eat frozen corn, not canned, so I substituted that. We had a bag of 6 chicken breasts and so I increased amounts in the recipe to create leftovers. Our pantry never contains taco sauce, but spicy, thick picante sauce and it was amazing! The other great thing about this recipe is you don’t have to remember to thaw the meat – just throw the chicken in frozen.
Crockpot Chicken with Black Beans and Cream Cheese
- 6 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 cups Pace Picante Sauce (mild, medium or spicy)
- 1½ cups frozen corn
- 1½ – 2 cups cooked red beans (black beans would be excellent, too. Be sure they are drained.)
- (2) 8 oz packages of cream cheese
Put everything except the cream cheese into your crockpot. Set crockpot on high and let it cook for 4-5 hours, until chicken is tender and easy to break into bite-size pieces. Remove chicken breasts from crockpot.
Shred or chop chicken and add back to sauce in crockpot. Cube the cream cheese and lay it on top of the chicken/sauce mixture. Replace the lid and allow to heat for another 30 minutes. Once the cream cheese has melted, stir it into the chicken.
Serve over rice or noodles or serve wrapped in warm tortillas with your favorite “taco” toppings. Delicious!!!!
Keep exploring that pantry and freezer. You will be amazed at what you can create from what you already have on hand!. Happy Tuesday!
This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday.
It’s Day 3 of the Eat from Your Pantry Challenge and I decided to try a new recipe. We eat quite a bit of chicken and I am always looking for a new way to fix it. This turned out to be delicious and as tasty as anything we’ve eaten in a Chinese restaurant. I [...]
It’s Day 3 of the Eat from Your Pantry Challenge and I decided to try a new recipe. We eat quite a bit of chicken and I am always looking for a new way to fix it. This turned out to be delicious and as tasty as anything we’ve eaten in a Chinese restaurant. I served it with whole-grain brown rice and peas.
Spicy Chinese Chicken
- 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 3 Tbls olive oil
- 2 cloves of fresh garlic, crushed
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 2 tsp crushed red pepper (We like spicy. You can adjust the heat by adding less.)
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 2 Tbls red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup water
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Brown the chicken pieces and then set them aside in a heat-proof dish.
In the same skillet, mix all remaining ingredients. Heat to a boil.
Once sauce is boiling, add browned chicken pieces to sauce and reduce heat to a bubbling simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. Serve over rice.
Delicious and simple! This one’s a keeper.
We’ve completed the first two days of the Eat from the Pantry Challenge. We didn’t do anything especially earth-shattering — just simple, comfort food that is easy to prepare. No one gets too excited about eating since they aren’t feeling well, so I haven’t felt a huge level of pressure to be terribly creative, yet. [...]
We’ve completed the first two days of the Eat from the Pantry Challenge. We didn’t do anything especially earth-shattering — just simple, comfort food that is easy to prepare. No one gets too excited about eating since they aren’t feeling well, so I haven’t felt a huge level of pressure to be terribly creative, yet.
Breakfasts are very informal at our house and everyone eats at different times. We did toast with homemade bread and fruit, Monday and Tuesday. For lunch, on Monday, I diced some leftover smoked sausage into some macaroni and cheese and today, the request was for tacos. So, I browned up a two-pound package of hamburger and saved about a pound and a quarter for supper. The tacos were yummy and easy.
Supper on Monday was Easy Hamburger Stroganoff, homemade applesauce, homemade bread and black olives. I am not an olive fan, but I get the same “excellent mom points” for olives as I do for candy, with my kids. – lol
Is it just me or is there a lot of yellow dye in the name brand cream of chicken soup? I normally buy the store brand, but ran across a sale for Campbell’s recently, where it was 4o odd cents per can. I bought a case. Now, every time I prepare something with it, I am taken aback that it is so incredibly YELLOW! The store brand has good flavor, I actually prefer its texture to the Campbell’s and it is a lovely cream color that doesn’t distort the look of all my dishes. Ok, now I’ve got that little rant out of my system. On to Tuesday’s supper and the recipes.
Tonight, I used the leftover ground beef from tacos and made something our family calls Ragout (ra-goo). I have no idea why we call it that, but we like it because it’s simple and delicious. I served cornbread and steamed cabbage with it. We’re eating pretty well for just digging around in the fridge and pantry to use up what we already have. Plus, I am finding things that go to the back or the bottom as new items are put in. So, this challenge keeps produce from spoiling and being wasted, too.
Easy Hamburger Stroganoff
- 1 lb. browned and drained, lean ground beef
- 2 (10 oz) cans fat free cream of chicken soup
- 2 c. sour cream (light or fat free works just as well)
- sliced mushrooms (optional)
Mix the drained hamburger, soup, sour cream (and mushrooms, if desired), in a large skillet. Heat through and serve over noodles or rice. Yum! This one is a family favorite!
- 1 lb. browned and drained, lean ground beef
- 6-8 russet potatoes, unpeeled and sliced thin
- 4 large carrots, sliced thin
- 2 cups water
- 2 chicken bouillon cubes, crushed
- Salt and pepper to taste.
Add all ingredients to 4 qt pot or dutch oven.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender.
Salt and pepper to taste.
(The water in this will look like there is not enough, but don’t panic, 2 cups is right. That will be about an inch of water in the bottom of your pot. With the lid on, it will be enough liquid to steam the veggies and when it is done, it will actually have all been absorbed.)
Favorite Homemade Bread Recipe
This is our favorite bread and it is perfect for sandwiches, grilled cheese, toast, even french toast.
Gluten is important to get the best rise from whole wheat bread dough. If you have never used it, you will be amazed at the difference it makes in the size and texture of your loaves. It can be purchased in the baking aisle, usually near the flour. Lecithin is a soybean product and could certainly be omitted, however, this ingredient is what creates the wonderful soft, tender texture of your bread. When you fold a slice in half, it will actually fold, not crack and break. Lecithin also increases the shelf-life of your bread. Lecithin is not as easy to find at the grocery store, but you can get it at most health food stores. I buy it in bulk on Amazon and I use the granulated, just because it is easier to use and measure than the sticky liquid variety.
I always use my Bosch to mix and knead our bread. This recipe makes (4) 2 lb loaves or I have made 24 hamburger buns and 1 extra large (nearly 7 inches tall) loaf from it. I purchased my Bosch from Pleasant Hill Grain 5 or 6 years ago. It is the only mixer/blender I own, and if my 750 watt work horse ever retires, the only brand I will replace it with. It is without question, my favorite kitchen appliance, used on an almost daily basis for everything from cakes and cookies, to mashing potatoes and kneading bread! Available attachments make it one of the most powerful and versatile appliances you could own — mixer, blender, food processor, meat grinder, slicer/shredder, juicer, fruit and berry press, sausage stuffer and more.
- 5 cups warm water
- 1 cup brown sugar or honey
- 2/3 cup olive or vegetable oil
- 6 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup wheat gluten
- 1½ t. sea salt
- 1/3 cup lecithin, granulated or liquid
- 3 Tbls. yeast
- 5 cups white flour
- 1 cup grain, seed and nut mix (optional)
Mix warm water, yeast, oil, and brown sugar.
Add whole wheat flour, gluten, sea salt and lecithin. Mix thoroughly.
At this point, I begin adding the white flour, one cup at a time. Humidity has a dramatic effect on bread dough, so the required amount of flour will vary based on that. I continue adding flour to the dough as the mixer is going. At the moment when the dough begins to pull cleanly away from the sides of the bowl, (The sides of the bowl will be completely clean, no dough sticking and your dough will be pulled together in one solid mass.) I stop adding flour.
Add the grain, seed and nut mix, if desired. I use the Harvest Grain mix from King Arthur Flour. The bread is just as wonderful without it, but I am a texture fanatic and I love what the seeds and grain add to this delicious bread.
Once, you have added the grain, set your kitchen timer for 7 minutes and let the Bosch do the kneading for you. If you are mixing and kneading by hand, you will want to knead this for about 10 minutes.
Turn dough into a large, well-greased bowl. Cover with a warm, damp tea towel and leave to rise until doubled in size.
Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide into 4 equal portions. Shape into loaves and place in greased loaf pans. Cover with warm, damp tea towel and allow to rise until doubled.
Bake in 350° oven for 40 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when the top is thumped. It will be hard to buy a loaf at the store after you taste this yummy bread! Enjoy!
I’m talking about something much more powerful than a New Year’s Resolution. I’m talking about the kind of resolve that doesn’t fade away after the middle of January. I don’t have any. In my own power and on my own steam, I can’t accomplish anything worthwhile for very long. The power of Christ in a [...]
I’m talking about something much more powerful than a New Year’s Resolution. I’m talking about the kind of resolve that doesn’t fade away after the middle of January. I don’t have any.
In my own power and on my own steam, I can’t accomplish anything worthwhile for very long. The power of Christ in a human life is an awesome force and it occurs to me that all those failed New Year’s resolutions have more to do with not having Him in the planning and implementation, than not having a good resolution. And, while there will inevitably be “human failure”, to highly resolve means that I don’t have to count on my own power to “make it right” and start again. “5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. 8 It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.” — Proverbs 3:5-8
Now, to what I resolve, through the grace of God and no power of my own. I resolve to see the person, before I see the perceived offense — to consider what their circumstance might be, before I let them know how I perceive that they have messed up. Lord, when I get chicken nuggets instead of a cheeseburger, give me the calm spirit and words to correct the situation, not belittle the person. When the order that was supposed to arrive by Christmas, guaranteed, shows up on January 4th instead, remind me that the gift is still special and realistically, no one was harmed by the wait. When my order is slow getting to the table, or not exactly as I have ordered it, Lord, I pray that you will cause me to pause for one moment and become acutely aware of the “mere human” before me. Help me to remember the mercy and grace I hope to receive when I have been “only human”.
I have recently been made aware that it is impossible to know the circumstance that may have led to the minor infraction of another person — the one I have chosen to become so annoyed at and about. There are a myriad of examples. Our recent blizzards and snowstorms have rendered many people housebound and their positions at work unfilled. The duties of a six-person office have often been juggled by three or four people. Most people won’t see or ever know about the hardship of those dedicated workers, but will focus instead on the inconvenience of the extra time their appointment is taking.
Would you be as upset about a mishandled restaurant order if you knew that your waiter had suffered the loss of a child, recently; or the only car he depended on to get to work and support his family had been totaled in a collision that morning? How can you know what might be pressing so hard on his heart, that even though he is trying his best, he can’t focus on your order? And if we did know, wouldn’t you or I respond with compassion and patience? Unless we are actually foolish enough to believe that a waiter/ service technician/ office manager/ spouse/ child, etc., set out to intentionally target us for irritation, we will move into 2010 with new eyes. Like the song, Lord, “Give me your eyes for just one second. Give me your eyes so I can see, Everything that I keep missing. Give me your love for humanity. Give me your arms for the broken-hearted, Ones that are far beyond my reach. Give me your heart for the ones forgotten. Give me your eyes so I can see.”
There are multitudes of people who will be willing to berate, belittle, and humiliate those around them. As Christians, it is critically important that we allow Christ to lead us to do the opposite of what our human nature beckons us to. More important even than the positive effect we may have on someone who is hurting, is the picture we paint of the One we represent. Many in this world will only know Christ and Christians by the way we portray them with our words and actions. Has the world been seeing Christ, lately, when they are seeing you and me? Lord, please lead me to let my words and actions shine a light on You and Your love and Your mercy. Let them represent the truth about You and You living in me. Please give me a soft and compassionate heart. Let me pause long enough to see a person, someone You created and love, with circumstances I can’t begin to understand. When I am in a hurry or in a tizzy, wanting my “pound of flesh”, please stop me in my tracks and extend your mercy and grace to the person I am so tempted not to see.
“1 A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. 2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. 3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good. 4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” – Proverbs 15:1-4
“23 The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, And adds learning to his lips. 24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” — Proverbs 16:23 & 24
Lord, make my words like honeycomb. Let them heal the soul and bring health to the bones. Please put a soft answer in my heart and on my tongue, so those I meet will see You and Your love when they hear me speak. In Jesus’ Holy name, Amen.
Wow! I sure have missed all of you! Wouldn’t you know that as soon as the holidays hit, our entire family, (Yes, all five of us at once.) were hit with a ridiculously long-lasting and “knock-us-off-our-feet” bug of some sort. I am stir-crazy and still fighting the cough and congestion, but actually walking around and [...]
Wow! I sure have missed all of you! Wouldn’t you know that as soon as the holidays hit, our entire family, (Yes, all five of us at once.) were hit with a ridiculously long-lasting and “knock-us-off-our-feet” bug of some sort. I am stir-crazy and still fighting the cough and congestion, but actually walking around and sort of functioning, today. David and the kids are still in various stages of recovery and we are all looking forward to phlegmless, coughless existences. Until then, I am feeling like I can at least see straight and hopefully write in a somewhat coherent manner; and since I have been anxious and very excited to share an idea with you, passed on to me by my good friend, Kay; it seems like a good day for getting back to blogging.
I heard about the “Eat From the Pantry Challenge” because Kay sent it to me on facebook. I am completely excited about this idea and I am providing the link, Money Saving Mom) and another. (Beauty and Bedlam) here for you, with this proviso, “You are not competing with anyone else. The point of this challenge is to help you save money, stir up your creative juices and in general, make you feel great about your frugal skills. Do NOT think there are fast and hard rules, that you must do it like me, or pattern your challenge after anyone else’s. My challenge to you is to simply DO it, enjoy yourself and stretch your winter food budget.” You might choose to do this for a week or two weeks. You might try it for 30 days. You may not go to the store for any food items or you may have a select list of things you will continue to purchase. You make the plan for your own challenge and then put it to work. The links provided above give two very different ideas for completing the challenge. Visit them both and get some excellent tips and strategies!
The challenge I read about was for the month of January. I love the idea of eating from our pantry for 30 days, but since we have spent the first third of the month crouping, I have decided our 30 day challenge will begin on Monday, January 11 and end on Tuesday, February 9. I intend to prepare meals from the ingredients we have in our pantry with the exceptions of fresh produce and dairy products. This should be a substantial savings over the weekly trip to the grocery store and put a large part of the grocery money back into the budget. I’ll need you all to keep encouraging me and spurring me on. Sometimes, it’s just so much easier to think of what we want for supper and then pick up the ingredients we need to fix it, but I have a well stalked pantry. I can definitely do this. The only thing I can see getting a little “difficult” before the end of the thirty days, is meat. However, I still have two good-sized turkeys in the freezer from the last big sale which should help. Plus, I will just have to get creative with non-meat meals and casseroles. I hope to do a pantry “inventory” for you over the next couple days and start posting menus and recipes.
I hope you will get inspired along the way to challenge yourself, for whatever period of time. It will definitely take more pre-planning and thought, but I am hoping the savings will be excellent. Please share your experiences and creative recipes as we make this 30 day journey. I’m looking forward to hearing ideas and progress reports from all of you and I will post our experiences along the way, as well. Happy saving and good eating!