We have one last project to finish off our school year and I’m hoping to be able to receive assistance from you. You all are always so great to respond and I have one final “school year” favor to ask. Our third grader is going to do a “Flat Susie” project. She has made a [...]
We have one last project to finish off our school year and I’m hoping to be able to receive assistance from you. You all are always so great to respond and I have one final “school year” favor to ask. Our third grader is going to do a “Flat Susie” project. She has made a paperdoll, named Susie, that she would like to send on an adventure around the United States. Normally, these projects ask you to make Susie your “guest” for a few days, snap a picture or two, and add a few lines and the snapshots to a journal that is included in the envelope with Susie. This chronicles a “geography-style” adventure for our daughter and makes learning the facts a lot more fun. We are hoping to do this particular project with a slight twist, that will make it more fun for all of us and even simpler for those of you participating.
Susie would come to your home in the mail. If you visit a museum, bake some cookies, go to the park, feed your cattle, ride a horse, paint your deck, whatever you have the chance to do while she is “visiting”, etc. – lol – and can take a picture or two of Susie “participating”, that would be awesome. Then if you could email me the pictures and add a few lines to her online journal, you would just mail her on to the next address on the list included with her in the envelope. The final person on the list will send Susie back home. We will post her progress and share the fun with all of you, as she travels.
If you would be willing to have Susie as a guest in your home, please post it in a comment, below, and then send your mailing address to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Use this same address to email pictures and your journal entry, so we can post it in Susie’s online journal.
Once we have all the addresses, I will email you a schedule of Susie’s journey, so you have a rough idea of when to expect her. Thanks so much for your help in making this fun project a reality for our little adventure queen!
Congratulations #73, Katmagick! You’re our Giveaway Winner! …. These six runner’s up will each receive a $4.00 coupon for DiGiorno Pizza and Breadsticks! #391 Robin, #150 Lizzy, #266 Shirley, #54 Carol, #83 Sarah Hirsch, and #61 Emma L Horton … By now, you all know how much I love House Party and their marketing concept. [...]
Congratulations #73, Katmagick! You’re our Giveaway Winner!
These six runner’s up will each receive a $4.00 coupon for DiGiorno Pizza and Breadsticks!#391 Robin, #150 Lizzy, #266 Shirley, #54 Carol, #83 Sarah Hirsch, and #61 Emma L Horton
By now, you all know how much I love House Party and their marketing concept. That’s why, after a week of “entire-family stomach-flu” and having to cancel my recently scheduled party, I have been going out of my way to talk about and promote them and my latest party product, even though I missed the party. Today, I decided that if I can’t have a full-on party, what I can do is “party” with all of you and offer the gifts to you as “party guests” in a Giveaway.
We are all healthy, now, and have had a chance to sample all three varieties of DiGiorno’s new pizza/breadstick kits. In the words of my son, “It isn’t restaurant pizza, but it’s as close as you can get from frozen pizza. I really like it!” We did like the pizza; and the breadsticks were excellent, too. The Supreme Pizza comes with garlic/herb breadsticks and the Cheese and the Pepperoni pizzas each came with cheese breadsticks. As frozen pizza goes, I found these kits to be a good bargain at around $6.25 for each kit, at our local Wal-Mart Super Center. That’s $6.25 for the pizza, 8 breadsticks and marinara dipping sauce. Try getting that price at a restaurant!
So here’s how our party is going to work. You must be 18 or over to win. You must reside in the United States. Deadline to enter is midnight (CST) on Saturday, April 3.
What the First Place Winner will receive:
- DiGiorno Pizza and Breadsticks Chef Apron
- DiGiorno Pizza Wheel
- DiGiorno Refrigerator Magnet Clippie
- (6) $4 coupons for DiGiorno Pizza and Breadstick Kits
What Six Runners-Up will Receive:
- (1) $4 coupon for a DiGiorno Pizza and Breadstick Kit
Required Entry (None of the others count if you don’t complete this one.): Which flavor of DiGiorno kit do you think your family will like best? Supreme with Herb Breadsticks, Pepperoni with Cheese Breadsticks or Cheese with Cheese Breadsticks? Post it in a comment below!
Additional Entries: (If you already participate with our site in one of these ways, you can still use it to enter. Just say so in a separate comment below. Each entry must be a separate comment.)
- Post the recipe for your favorite side dish, salad or breadstick dipping sauce, etc. when your family eats pizza at home.
- Follow us on Twitter. (see sidebar for link)
- Join our site with Google Friends Connect. (see sidebar)
- Subscribe to our RSS feed. (see sidebar for link)
- Become a fan of Busy-at-Home on Facebook. (see sidebar for link)
- Tweet this giveaway once per day and post the link to your tweet in your comment below.
- Blog about the giveaway or post it on your Facebook page and include the link to your post in your comment below.
Mmm…can’t you already smell that yummy sauce and bubbly cheese!!??? Post your entries, tell your friends. I will draw for the winners at midnight (CST) on Saturday, April 3, so get all your entries posted before that deadline.
Winners will be randomly selected at random.org. Your comment number is your entry.
I recently posted a great buy on split chicken breasts at Hy-Vee stores — only .88/lb! That is definitely a stock-up moment. While split breasts are slightly more work than the flash-frozen, boneless, skinless we’ve all gotten used to, they definitely net a little more “bang for your buck” when it comes to budget, intense [...]
I recently posted a great buy on split chicken breasts at Hy-Vee stores — only .88/lb! That is definitely a stock-up moment. While split breasts are slightly more work than the flash-frozen, boneless, skinless we’ve all gotten used to, they definitely net a little more “bang for your buck” when it comes to budget, intense flavor and uses. Well, my friend Laura wanted to know if the sale meant that she could be expecting some new chicken recipes. So Laura, this post is for you – lol!
What do you do with 40 lbs of chicken purchased at amazing bargain prices, anyway? A mini-freezer cooking session, that’s what. I did put 16 lbs into the freezer, as is, but the other 24 lbs. were introduced to my slow cooker and my favorite stockpots. You won’t believe how simple (and tasty) this process is.
Look how little water I put in the bottom of the stockpot. There is only about 2-3 inches of water in the bottom of that very deep kettle. I wish I had taken pictures with the slow cooker, but the process is the same — just a couple inches of water in the bottom. You want to end up with rich, concentrated, delectable chicken stock.
Start layering the chicken into the stockpot and be sure to season with a little salt and pepper in each layer. You can see I came to within 3 or 4 inches of the top of my kettle and if I had to venture a guess, now, I would say that when I finished loading the pan, there were 12-15 chicken breasts in there. That’s all there is to it! Beautiful simplicity!
Put it on high heat until it comes to a full boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and put the lid on the pot. The size of your pot, your own stove, the number of pieces of chicken you are cooking and what you intend to do with them will determine how long you allow this to simmer. There is no magic time limit, but to start, go with at least two hours. Check the meat. It may well be done, but you want it to be nice and tender and you want to give enough time to the delicious, rich stock that is developing in the bottom of that pan. (If you are loading your slow cooker, do it the same way — layers with salt and pepper in between and fill the slow cooker as full as you can, while still being able to get the lid on.)
If you intend to shred the chicken, you can let it go until it has literally cooked right off the bones. I generally like to cube some and shred some, so I want it tender, but still firm enough to cut into pieces. In the stockpot on the stove, I left the chicken simmering for about 3 1/2 to 4 hours. In the slow cooker, on low heat, I let it go for between 6 and 8 hours.
The end result is a lot of chicken to cool, skin, bone and freeze PLUS the most rich delicious chicken stock you will ever taste. You won’t get that from boneless, skinless chicken. I generally lift all the chicken out onto platters or cookie sheets and let it cool until it is easy to handle. Strain the stock into a container and allow it to cool, cover it and put in the fridge so the fat will form a layer on the top that is easy to skim off.
Once the chicken has cooled, remove the skin and bones and discard them. Shred or chop the meat, as your family prefers. I usually put two and a half to three cups of meat to a quart-sized ziptop freezer bag, push out as much air as possible as I’m closing it and stack them flat, one on top of the other in the freezer. Once they are frozen, I have a plastic tub where I “file” the bags on end, as that works better space-wise in my freezer. I definitely need to do some rearranging in there, but you get the basic idea. You’ll notice on the top shelf there also rows of Spicy Chinese Chicken, Apple Dijon Pork Loin, Honey Orange Pork Loin, Maple Glazed Pork Loin and Beef Stew. The bottom shelf is a mess, but the flat package on the top left is Lemon Ginger Chicken Breasts marinated for the grill, and the center has about 8 cups of browned ground beef crumbles stacked on a bag of twice-baked potatoes. To the far right I have bags of pre-cooked brown rice and bags of pre-cooked white beans.
Once I have skimmed the fat from the top of the chicken stock, I put it into gallon ziptop freezer bags (I tend to make soups in large batches . You may be more comfortable freezing your stock in quart-sized freezer bags, if you want to use less at a time.), remove as much air as possible when sealing and then lay out flat on cookie sheets which I temporarily lay inside the top of my big freezer. Once they are frozen, these bags can be left lying flat or stood on end and “filed” as I did with the chicken. They take up very little freezer space that way.
Once you have a freezer-full of delicious pre-cooked chicken, the quick meal options are pretty much limitless, but here are a couple I hope you will enjoy trying.
Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup in Minutes
- a bag of pre-cooked chicken from your freezer
- a bag of pre-cooked chicken stock from your freezer
- a bag of frozen “homemade” noodles (Reames is a good brand that is easy to find.)
Empty the frozen chicken stock into your soup kettle. This stock will be a little concentrated. I usually add about ¼ again as much water. For instance, if you have 4 cups of stock, add 1 to 1 ¼ cups of water – 8 cups of stock, 2 to 2 ½ cups of water, etc.
Heat to a rolling boil and then add noodles. Bring to a boil again and then reduce heat to cook noodles.
Add pre-cooked frozen chicken in the last ten minutes of cooking. Let it simmer until noodles are tender and chicken is heated through.
Eventually, I will get around to sharing my full-version, Old-Fashioned Homemade Chicken and Noodles with Real Homemade Noodles. And we’ll do it over mashed potatoes just the way my favorite guy loves them. That recipe is a family favorite and a great way to sneak vegetables into a dish your kids will beg to have again and again. But, when I need that slow-cooked, wonderfully satisfying taste RIGHT NOW, this quick version is just the ticket. It never disappoints.
Creamy Chicken Enchiladas
This recipe is the bomb! It’s a hit at potlucks and get-togethers, an often requested family supper and makes the quickest, kids-can-do-it-on-their-own lunches with just the slightest pre-planning on your part.
- 1 or 2 bags of pre-cooked chicken from your freezer, thawed
- (1) 16 oz carton of sour cream
- (2) 10¾ oz cans cream of chicken soup
- 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, minced fine (this is to taste – we like spicy)
- 2 to 3 cups shredded cheddar, colby, cheddar-jack or colby-jack cheese
- 8 – 10 flour tortillas
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Make the sauce by combining sour cream, cream of chicken soup and minced jalapeno.
To assemble enchiladas, slightly warm a flour tortilla (We use the microwave for about 10 seconds.) Fill the center of the tortilla, lengthwise, with a narrow row of shredded or diced chicken. Top the chicken with a dollop of the sauce and some cheese. Roll the tortilla and place seam-side down in a lightly greased 9 x 13 pan.
Fill the remaining tortillas and line them up in your pan. Spread more sauce over the top of each rolled enchilada and sprinkle with a little more grated cheese. Cover and bake 30 minutes, until heated through and cheese and sauce are melted and bubbly.
We would serve this with rice and a salad at suppertime, but here’s a great lunchtime trick. I often make the sauce ahead and store it in the fridge along with the pre-cooked chicken, shredded cheese and tortillas. At lunch time, the kids can quickly roll their own enchilada, top it with some sauce and shredded cheese, put the plate in the microwave for 1 – 1½ minutes and enjoy a delicious hot lunch in no time! Serve it with a piece of fruit and they are good to go!
I have also substituted lowfat and/or non-fat sour cream and soup in this recipe with no problems.
Laura, my friend, there are so many other recipes swimming around in my head that will be great for summertime fare- chicken salad sandwiches, barbecue chicken pizza, chicken taco salad, southwest chicken layered salad, poppy seed chicken salad, etc., but it is 12:10 a.m and this post is already eight miles long, so those will have to be for another day.
Enjoy some chicken!!!
Congratulations, Cynthya P! #39! You are the Spa Pack and Yoplait Yogurt Winner! Please check your email and reply with your complete shipping address, so your gift can be shipped by My Blog Spark/Yoplait. It’s Spring and it’s starting to actually feel like it! Time to wash away the winter doldrums and enjoy the pampering [...]
Congratulations, Cynthya P! #39! You are the Spa Pack and Yoplait Yogurt Winner! Please check your email and reply with your complete shipping address, so your gift can be shipped by My Blog Spark/Yoplait.
It’s Spring and it’s starting to actually feel like it! Time to wash away the winter doldrums and enjoy the pampering freshness of a new season. That got even easier for me, yesterday, when I received a wonderful package to review from Yoplait and My Blog Spark. I unwrapped a luxurious Spa Pack and coupons for two Free Yoplait Greek Yogurt cups. Thanks to the great offers floating around online, recently, I had two store coupons as well; so we tried the three flavored varieties of this new Yoplait product.
We discovered that straight from the carton, our family was not as enthusiastic about the yogurt. The flavor was more tangy than regular yogurt, which immediately sent my mind spinning with all the recipe possibilities. Texturally, we found the yogurt to leave a chalky feeling in our mouth and it did not have the sweetness you would normally expect from yogurt with fruit. Recognizing that we were going to enjoy the benefits of Greek yogurt more fully in cooking, we immediately pulled out the recipe book and started baking. Success! I can smell the chocolatey goodness of moist, delicious cake wafting from the oven while I type this. I used the Honey-Vanilla Greek yogurt in this recipe for Dark Chocolate Yogurt Cake from Recipezaar.
I’m also excited to put the plain Greek yogurt to good use in one of my favorite sauce/dips – Tzatziki. I first tried it years ago, with Greek gyros and I honestly think I would eat it on just about anything. That recipe is a cinch to be amazing with Yoplait’s Greek Yogurt. Yum! Plus, Yoplait has more than a dozen recipes on their website, to give you even more ideas for incorporating their new Greek yogurt into some delectable dishes! Check out the recipes, here.
Are you ready to try some new recipes for yourself and wash away the winter doldrums? One lucky Busy-at-Home reader is going to receive the very same Spa Pack, courtesy of Yoplait and My Blog Spark. You’ll receive the luxuriously, soft terry bath wrap, exfoliating sponge and wash cloth, slippers, nail brush and massage brush, plus coupons for two free cups of Yoplait Greek Yogurt! I’ll even post my Tzatziki Recipe below to get you ready. Yum!
- 2 medium cucumbers, peeled, sliced in half, seeded and minced
- 1/2 white onion, minced
- 2 cups plain yogurt (drained overnight in a coffee filter. If you use Greek yogurt, you can skip this draining step.)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dill
- salt and pepper
- 1 garlic clove, minced
Combine all the ingredients and store in the fridge in an airtight container. You can eat it right away, but the flavors get even better if you can let it sit in the fridge for three or four hours. This is delicious in almost any type of pita sandwich you can imagine, or wraps, or as a dip or sandwich spread or just straight out of the bowl with a big ‘ole spoon (yup! I sorta like it. - lol ). The flavors are so fresh and summery and light. It’s creamy and crispy all in the same bite and one of my absolute favorites. I can almost taste it just writing to you about it! I can’t wait for cucumbers to be in season, again! I don’t have one of my own pictures, but here’s a great one from “the ‘zaar“.
So how do you win? The winner will be chosen in a random drawing, from all entries received by midnight (CST), Sunday, March 28. Entrants must be 18 or over and reside in the United States. Your comment number is your entry and the winner will be selected at random.org .
To register, visit Yoplait’s website and check out the great recipes to use Greek yogurt (P.S. Be sure to print a coupon). Come back and post a comment and include the name of the recipe you would like to try. (One entry per person, please. Duplicates will be deleted. Thanks!) That’s it! Couldn’t be simpler. Can’t wait to hear from you.
Thank you My Blog Spark and Yoplait, for the great gifts!
The message of using the whole armor of God to combat the confusing messages the world gives us about good and evil was clearly delivered in this DVD. Both that and the presentation of the Gospel, with the story of salvation, were the strongest points for this product. I would not recommend using this in [...]
The message of using the whole armor of God to combat the confusing messages the world gives us about good and evil was clearly delivered in this DVD. Both that and the presentation of the Gospel, with the story of salvation, were the strongest points for this product.
I would not recommend using this in an age-range beyond 4-8 year-olds. I believe in the end the effect could be more negative than positive, simply because the delivery device doesn’t measure up to the technological standards that even young children expect from a modern movie or drama. My eight-year-old is a child with a strong faith and one who loves movies. She will watch just about anything, if we allow it. I had to ask her to stay and finish this DVD. She found the production to be “cheesy” and she was speaking of the presentation, not the content. If I could rate them separately, I would give a 5 star rating-for content and 2 for presentation. To be fair, I could see that this DVD was filmed at some sort of interactive live event, which in my opinion is a much better medium. Children watching the DVD cannot experience the dimming of lights, feel the vibrations and rumbling of sound effects and be surrounded by the action the way the live audience was. The interactive nature of the live performance simply did not transfer to the DVD.
I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Just two more recipes to go for this first session of my freezer cooking weekend. I doubled both recipes. (Remember I started with a whole loin and cut it into four 2 1/2 lb sections.) I know it’s no surprise to you by now, when I reinterpret or otherwise alter a recipe, but keep in [...]
Just two more recipes to go for this first session of my freezer cooking weekend. I doubled both recipes. (Remember I started with a whole loin and cut it into four 2 1/2 lb sections.)
I know it’s no surprise to you by now, when I reinterpret or otherwise alter a recipe, but keep in mind as you read these, that my menopausal brain does not retain information for more than a blink, lately; and so the changes to these recipes, can only be attributed to that. As I was putting them together, the original recipe for Honey Orange Pork Loin called for orange juice, which I had neglected to purchase. No worries, I have one orange. I’ll just use the zest to give the orange flavor to the marinade. Why did it not occur to me that I could juice the orange?–I have no logical explanation. -lol- Then the recipe for the Maple Glazed Pork Loin called for orange zest, most of which I used in the first recipe -lol- , so now I think, “I can use the juice!” I juiced the orange and used the last little bit of zest in that recipe. They were very happy results! Who is it that says, “God protects babies and fools.”? I am NO baby.
Honey Orange Pork Loin
- 2 lbs pork loin (boneless)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons apple juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 2 Tbls orange zest
To bake this right away, you can mix the marinade ingredients and pour them over the pork loin in either your crockpot or a roaster.
For the crockpot, set the temperature on low and slow cook it for 6-8 hours.
To roast it in the oven, set oven to 375° and bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
To freeze: Place pork loin in gallon zip-top bag and pour marinade over the top. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible. Label and freeze.
To cook from frozen: Place frozen loin and marinade in crockpot. Set temperature on low and cook 8-10 hours.
Maple Glazed Pork Loin
- 1 (3 lb) boneless pork loin
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
- 1/4 cup maple syrup (I just used our pancake syrup.)
- 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
The original recipe calls for grilling this and using the marinade as a basting sauce. That sounds really delicious and the smoky flavor would really add to the dish. I think it would be awesome and we will probably try that this summer. You can also roast it in the oven or as we will do, in the crockpot.
Mix all the marinade ingredients and pour over pork loin. Bake at 375° for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or in crockpot set to low for 6 to 8 hours.
To freeze: Place the loin in a zip-top freezer bag and pour marinade over the top. Seal the bag, being careful to push out as much air as possible. Freeze.
To cook from frozen: Empty contents of bag into crockpot. Set temperature to low and bake 8-10 hours.
Thursday, March 11, I did my one-month grocery shop, which I blogged for you here. When I arrived home Thursday afternoon, I unloaded my groceries and got started putting some meals together for the freezer. I new I only had a couple of hours since it was already almost 3:00. The items I managed to [...]
Thursday, March 11, I did my one-month grocery shop, which I blogged for you here. When I arrived home Thursday afternoon, I unloaded my groceries and got started putting some meals together for the freezer. I new I only had a couple of hours since it was already almost 3:00. The items I managed to get made for the freezer by suppertime were:
- (4) meals of beef stew, one of which we ate for supper that night
- (4) meals of Apple Dijon Pork Loin
- (2) meals of Maple Glazed Pork Loin
- (2) meals of Honey Orange Pork Loin
That’s 12 meals in 2 1/2 hours! Needless to say I was pleased and after a couple hours of shopping, prior to that, I’m not going to kid you; I was tired. But it was definitely a good tired. Here’s how the actual freezer session worked out.
- Once the groceries were unloaded I put about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in my cast iron skillet and started browning all the stew meat I had purchased at Sam’s.
I chopped the vegetables while the meat was browning. My 16-year-old 17-year-old (darn menopausal brains – lol) peeled seven medium russet potatoes for me, at the same time.
- I got all the ingredients except the potatoes into my stew pot and while that was simmering and becoming flavorful and delicious, I got started on the large quantity of pork loin we had also gotten on that trip.
- They were whole loins and about
- With the marinades complete, I pre-heated the oven and pulled some of my freezer biscuits out of the freezer, arranging them on a cookie sheet to thaw a little.
- I moved enough of my beef stew “starter” into my 4 quart dutch oven and added the diced potatoes. The rest of the stew was left to cool.
While the potatoes cooked I folded over the tops of eight, gallon-sized, zip-top freezer bags and placed one pork loin section into each.
- The marinades were added to each bag and the bags were zipped tight with as much air removed as possible.
- I labeled all the bags (I would definitely recommend labeling the bags BEFORE filling them. That’s a tip I learned for next time. - lol) with recipe name, any cooking
instructions and a date. Each bag was placed in the freezer.
- I put the biscuits in the oven and in 10 minutes we had a deliciously comforting beef stew and biscuit meal.
- By the time dinner was done and the dishes cleared, I was able to divide the remaining stew starter into thirds, pour into gallon zip-top freezer bags and label them for the freezer, as well. That’s twelve meals prepared, eleven of them in
the freezer and a happily fed family to boot!
ten pounds each, so I cut each in fourths and then started making marinades.
Glenda’s Beef Stew Starter for the Freezer
- 6 lbs of beef stew meat
- 2-3 cups diced onion
- 2 cups diced celery
- 6 large carrots sliced
2 (28 oz) cans of diced tomatoes, undrained
- 2 cups water
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed or minced
- 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tbls. Spike seasoning
- 2 Tbls. olive oil
Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add the beef a little at a time, browning it on all sides and then removing it to a platter. Continue browning until all six pounds are
complete. Remove all browned meat to the platter.
Add onion and celery to the drippings in your skillet, sauteing them for 2-3 minutes.
Add the garlic, Spike seasoning and Worcestershire sauce. Continue to saute the vegetables for another 2-3 minutes.
Transfer beef and sauteed veggies to a large stock pot.
Add the two large cans of tomatoes, water and the sliced carrots.
Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for about one hour.
Remove stew starter from heat and allow to cool completely.
To freeze: Divide stew into fourths, placing each fourth into a one gallon zip-top freezer bag. Freeze.
To reheat from frozen: You can thaw
the stew starter in the refrigerator for 24 hours. I usually just put it frozen, right into my dutch oven and thaw it over low heat. Once it is thawed and you have plenty of liquid (you can add a cup of water or tomato juice if you like yours thinner), add 6-8 medium potatoes that have been diced. (Potatoes tend to break down in the freezer when frozen in soups and stews. The texture will likely be more pleasing to your family, if you add them as you reheat the meal. I have
been reading about a method where the raw potatoes are added just before freezing, but I haven’t tested it and so can’t recommend it, yet.) Simmer until potatoes are tender and serve piping hot with your favorite bread. Easy and delicious! One of the heartiest comfort foods ever!
Apple Dijon Pork Loin
(I found this recipe in the $5 Dinner Mom’s cookbook and only made some slight adaptations. – lol – They truly were very small. She used pork shoulder, I used lean pork loin. I used the unsweetened applesauce, I put up last summer and added 1/4 c. brown sugar. I did not have Dijon mustard, so the recipe below, shows my substitutions. I also multiplied this
recipe by 4 and bagged them for the freezer. We tested the results on Thursday night when the kids and grandkids were here for supper. This is going to be a family favorite!)
- 2 – 2 1/2 lbs lean, center cut pork loin
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1/4 cup apple juice
- 2 Tbsp spicy brown mustard
- 1 Tbsp Creole mustard
- 1 Tbsp yellow mustard
1/4 cup brown sugar
Place the roast in your crockpot.
Whisk together remaining ingredients for marinade and pour over roast.
Set crockpot on low and cook pork for 8 hours.
To freeze: Fold the top half of a one gallon zip-top bag down to form a shallow “bowl”. Place the loin in the bag and pour marinade over top. Seal
bag, removing as much air as possible. Freeze.
To cook from frozen: Place frozen loin and marinade (remove from bag) into crockpot. Cook on low for 8-10 hours depending on your crockpot. (Mine only took 8.)
This meat is moist and has a subtle sweet, spicy flavor. I strained the juice from the crockpot and then poured it over the sliced meat. Delicious!!!
Ok, this post has gotten VERRRRRY long and I am incredibly sleepy. – lol – Tomorrow, Part Two and the recipes for Maple Glazed Pork Loin and Honey Orange Pork Loin.
You saw them listed in the “Month o’ Meals” at the bottom of my last post and I couldn’t wait to share them with you any longer. So, even though these are not for the freezer, they will be the first recipe in my list of recipes for our Freezer Cooking series. (Actually, I suppose [...]
You saw them listed in the “Month o’ Meals” at the bottom of my last post and I couldn’t wait to share them with you any longer. So, even though these are not for the freezer, they will be the first recipe in my list of recipes for our Freezer Cooking series. (Actually, I suppose you could freeze them, but the texture of the strawberries would not be as good after thawing. Maybe if I am ever able to salvage even one, I will test it in the freezer for you.)
These are so delicious, you’ll have to fight for them to make it to your table. Your family is going to want to gobble them up as fast as you make them. They make me feel like spring is here and like I’m having a party, even when I’m not. – lol- They look pretty and they taste even better, plus you can whip them up in minutes, if you want to impress unexpected guests.
The original of this recipe came from my favorite recipe site, Recipezaar. As you will
see, I have altered it a little, (but only slightly this time. It’s hardly noticeable. – lol ) The original recipe calls for nuts and since we have those in our family who prefer not to associate with nuts (which I will never understand), I decided to try something different. The logical choice for cheesecake was graham cracker crumbs. It was a smash hit! You’re going to love them!
Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries
- 24 large strawberries, hulls removed
- 12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- 1 graham cracker, crushed for crumbs
Place cream cheese in a bowl, and microwave for 15-30 seconds, so that it’s soft.
- Whip together the cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar.
- In the center of each strawberry, using a sharp knife, make a hole in each one, as deep as you can without going out the bottom. For this I just used the tip of a vegetable peeler. With its curved sides, it “cored” the strawberries fairly easily.
- Spoon or pipe the filling into each hole. My handy-dandy decorator from Pampered Chef made filling these very simple. You could also put the filling in a plastic sandwich bag and snip off one of the bottom corners to create your own decorator bag for filling them.
- Sprinkle the cheesecake end of each strawberry with graham cracker crumbs.
- Chill, and serve.
The most difficult part of this recipe was trying to decide how to “stand” these up on the tray. I basically wedged them, one against another, to hold them up. But, I have been thinking about it and I think that a thick layer of graham cracker crumbs, sugar or some other granular product in the bottom of the tray, would allow me to settle the tips of the strawberries into the granules and help them to balance. I will try it next time and see how it works.
It also occurred to me, since making these, wouldn’t they be pretty dipped in or if the sides of the berries were drizzled with white or dark chocolate? Next time we make these, and there will definitely be a next time, I may try that. Do you have ideas for some variations? I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment about how you would “change them up”, or if you just want to eat some right this very minute, you can leave that in a comment!, too – lol - Enjoy!
Local Woman Changes Shopping Patterns and Increases Family’s Cash Flow! ….. It all started last Thursday, March 17. I realized that my Friday was going to be too hectic to do my usual grocery shopping, so I switched it up and shopped on Thursday. I should also mention that there is no grocery store in [...]
Local Woman Changes Shopping Patterns
and Increases Family’s Cash Flow!
It all started last Thursday, March 17. I realized that my Friday was going to be too hectic to do my usual grocery shopping, so I switched it up and shopped on Thursday. I should also mention that there is no grocery store in the little village where we live. My normal weekly shopping trip was to drive to our hometown to the Super Wal-Mart store and I would typically spend between $125 -$150 per week. I’m ashamed to say, that does not include the “quick trip” to grab something “easy” when I hadn’t planned something to make and we were in a hurry or the occasional “let’s just grab some fast food”, for the same poor-planning reason. I didn’t use coupons because I had decided they were such a nuisance to find and then keep track of. I watched for what was on sale as I walked the aisles and usually bought the store brand of most products. I kept a list of basics I knew we were out of, and with any luck, I remembered to bring it with me when I shopped. That was it. Not the smartest of routines, I realize, but the honest truth of the matter.
Over the last several weeks, I have been on a journey to put $250-$300 into our family’s budget. Working outside our home is not an option because of homeschooling and the need to drive (We choose to only have one car.) to even the nearest small town, even if work were available. I do some freelance writing, but it doesn’t consistently bring in that level of income every month. The rest of our budget has been cut pretty much to the bone except for our cable/internet package. Eliminating that would prevent me from being able to “talk” with all of you and would make my favorite guy pretty cranky on game days, so that’s our splurge. We have eliminated them in the past when it was necessary, but we can save in a different way, now. Ü The only part of the budget that really wasn’t a fixed amount was groceries and while I didn’t believe there was much wiggle room left there, I decided if the “super shoppers” we always read about were actually right, it would be worth a try to clip a few coupons. As I started reading and understanding what it is that these savvy shoppers do, I began to think it just might work, but it involved a lot more than just clipping a few coupons.
The first thing I would have to do was get organized. I used to be that person. You know, the one that could spin all the plates, was always busy, but would take on another project if asked — kept a schedule, made lists, got things done. Then the loss of my two most time-consuming “occupations” and the onset of peri-menopause left me in a state of “suspended animation”, wondering exactly what my purpose was now, and kept me from remembering it for more than a few minutes at a time when I did hit on it. I finally understand that it was a period of depression, that coupled with the lack of focus from peri-menopause, must have driven my family crazy and left them wondering who I was, too. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to go back to a focused, organized lifestyle. And I’m still not 100% convinced, but I’m definitely making strides in that direction. The first step is taking control of our grocery budget and deciding that groceries are the only place to really make an adjustment. The next step is cutting that area of the budget without sacrificing nutrition and taste. Those seem like two pretty overwhelming steps, but last week, I started the journey in earnest.
Recognizing that the most successful “super shopper” moms did more than clip a few coupons, I began reading as much on this subject as possible. I wanted the plan, the “formula” and I wanted to make it mine. I could see it had to do with planning menus, shopping once and saving as much as possible when on that one shopping trip. That also meant shopping at more than one store and buying only the least expensive items at each one. I read Frozen Assets, The $5 Dinner Mom, The Coupon Mom’s website and subscribed to the blogs of dozens of moms who had a system and were making it work. The first thing I realized is that these women were not paying for a huge percentage of their non-food items. Amazing! Was that really possible? I’ve discovered that it is. In these few short weeks, I have stock-piled shampoo, toothpaste, razors, eye drops, shower gel, lotion and other essential, but non-food items to last for nearly a year. I got them free or for pennies on the dollar at Walgreen’s, using a system of saving that these women shared with me. You can read about two of my Walgreen’s shopping trips here and here. There have been two or three others, but I haven’t gotten them blogged, yet. Once you remove the full-price non-food items from your shopping trip, you will be amazed at how the savings start stacking up.
Okay, I keep saying “the first step”. There can only be one. – lol – So, the first step is “the plan”. This involved something I simply never do – buying the Wednesday and Sunday papers, from “the big city”. – lol – Lincoln is about the same distance in the opposite direction from where I usually drive to our hometown Wal-Mart. “Super shopping” definitely involved turning the car around and heading into Lincoln. Local grocery ads for our area come out on Wednesday (note: The Walgreens ad comes out on Sunday.) I looked at the grocery ads and determined I would be shopping at two of them, Super Saver and Hy-Vee, and also making a stop at Sam’s Club. I almost never do a “full-grocery shop” at Hy-Vee , because over all, their total price for my groceries is higher; however, their loss-leaders are always great! If you have a store like that in your area, discipline yourself to purchase only the loss-leader items from the front page of their ad and nothing else. It’s a great way to save money. Anyway, I studied the ads, planned some “rough” menus (I need to get much more disciplined at this skill.), “shopped” my pantry and freezer for what I already had on hand, made a list for each store and then matched my coupons to the items I would be buying. Matching coupons with sale prices is such a rush! – lol
At Super Saver I purchased:
- (2) boxes of Chocolate Cheerios @ $1.98 each and used .55 coupons for each one (Cereal for $1.44 is a great deal! I have a stockpile from a sale last month, though so only picked up two.)
- (5) pkgs DelMonte Fruit Chillers Cups @ $2.73 each and used $1 coupons for each one (This was a splurge item and @ $1.73 for each pkg of 4 cups a so-so deal. I probably wouldn’t buy them again.)
- (1) 12 pack of Angel Soft double-roll toilet paper @ $6.42 and used a .50 coupon
- (3) Era he Laundry detergent 50 oz (32 loads) @ $2.96 each
- (2) store brand lasagna noodles (1 lb each) @ $1.12 each
- (2) store brand 1 lb. bags dry black beans @ $1.28 each
- (2) store brand 1 lb. bags dry beans @ $1.17 each
- (2) store brand 1 lb. bags dry red beans @ $1.28 each
- (2) large cans (are they 40 oz ?) store brand diced tomatoes @ .98 each
- (2) 1 lb bags of store brand brown rice @ .97 each
- (2) 20 oz cans of store brand pineapple tidbits @ $1.22 each
- (2) loaves Sara Lee classic wheat bread @ $1.48 each ( I do bake a lot of our bread – probably about 50%, because it’s cheaper and healthier, but do always keep a few store-bought loaves in the freezer for when I am short on time.)
- (2) 1/2 gallon bottles of Old Orchard apple juice @ $1.77 each and used .50 coupon on each
- (20) lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts @ $1.67 / lb
- (2) heads of lettuce @ $1.24 each
- (1) bunch green onions @ .66 each
- (1) head of cabbage @ .37
- (1) 1.07 lb bunch of asparagus @ $1.58
- (15) Gala apples ( 6.05 lbs) @ $1.46 lb
- (1) 3.7 lb Spaghetti Squash @ $1.24/lb
- (1) bunch of fresh cilantro @ .60 each
- (1) bunch of fresh parsley @ .78 each
- (3) bunches of celery @ $1.32 each
- (5) lbs of carrots @ $3.48
- (15) lbs of red potatoes @ $2.46
- (1) 1 lb bag of fresh baby spinach @ $1.87
- (3) 1 lb containers of fresh strawberries @ $1.37 each
- (3) 8 oz bags shredded Italian Blend cheese @ $1.98 each
- (2) 8 oz bags shredded Monterey Jack cheese @ $1.98 each
- (5) 8 oz bags of shredded sharp cheddar cheese @ $1.98
- (6) 8 oz blocks of low-fat cream cheese @ .98 each
- (4) store brand 1 lb pkg of butter @ $1.95 each
- (2) store brand 18-packs of eggs @ $1.92 each
- (2) 1 lb cartons store brand cottage cheese @ $2.32 each
- (2) 1.5 lb cartons of lite sour cream @ $2.88 each
- (2) gallons of skim milk @ $2.48 each
- (1) gallon of chocolate milk @ $2.78
There is no sales tax on food in Nebraska, so the detergent and toilet paper cost $1.07 in sales tax, for a TOTAL of $175.57 at Super Saver.
My next stop was at Hy-Vee, where I purchased:
- 16.5 lbs (approximately) of center cut pork loin @ $1.68/lb
- I rounded up my ticket .71 for a donation to the local Red Cross
TOTAL for Hy-Vee shopping was $29.00.
My last stop was at Sam’s Club which is why I was giving the wrong totals for my trip. Somehow, I simply didn’t calculate it into my totals. In my defense some of the things I purchased will last over a several month span, but the out-of-pocket cost still comes out of this month’s grocery budget. At Sam’s Club I purchased:
- (6) lbs of beef stew meat @ $14.44
- (10.5) lbs (approx) 93% lean ground beef @ $2.88/lb
- (2) 4 lb bags of frozen brocolli @ $4.98 each
- (1) 5 lb. bag of frozen corn @ $4.48 each
- (1) 5 lb. bag of frozen peas @ $4.88 each
- (2) 3 lb. bags of breaded flounder (There are usually a dozen fillets in each bag.) @ $9.98 each
- (1) 2 lb. Hershey’s cocoa @ $6.17
- (1) bottle of 100 chicken bouillon cubes @ $4.87
- (1) pint of vanilla @ $6.88
- 1/2 gallon soy sauce @ $4.76
- (1) 4 lb box of salt (.98)
- (1) 13.5 oz bottle of crushed red pepper flakes (That’s about a quart.) @ $3.86
- (1) gallon of extra-virgin olive oil @ $16.98
TOTAL for Sam’s Club $148.22.
That makes my GRAND TOTAL for the shopping trip $352.79!
I have a month’s worth of main dishes (31 of them) and ingredients for vegetable sides, as well as ingredients for breakfasts and lunches. I only spent $352.79 and I will only need to purchase milk and some occasional produce through the month. If I spend $400 for the whole month, I will be saving $200 on groceries + the money we would have spent for our “extra trips” AND fast-food drive thru’s. There is no last minute, I don’t know what to fix, because it’s already prepared. Planning ahead definitely saves money!
So, what does that mean we will be eating this month? Here are the main dishes I have put in the freezer, so far. (I say so far, because I still have ingredients to make more and items in the freezer that I will probably add in for variety and carry some of these over into next month.)
- (4) Apple Dijon Pork Loins
- (2) Honey Dijon Pork Loins
- (2) Maple Glazed Pork Loins
- (4) Beef Stew
- (4) Spicy Chinese Chicken
- (2) Ginger Lemon Chicken
- (4) Crockpot Chicken with Cream Cheese and Black Beans
- (2) Cheeseburger Macaroni Casseroles
- (2) Stroganoff Casseroles
- (1) Spinach Lasagna
- (1) Spaghetti and Meatballs
- (2) Meatball Suppers
- (1) Sweet and Sour Meatballs
- 7 cups of pre-browned ground beef for tacos, burritos, chili or quick throw together meals
- 7 cups of precooked navy beans
- 7 cups of precooked black beans
- 16 cups of precooked rice
- 6 cups of pre-cooked chopped chicken for tacos, burritos, salads, enchiladas, etc.
- 22 cups of macaroni salad (It’s not in the freezer, but pre-made for the week.)
- Cheesecake-Stuffed Strawberries (Delish and easy! Not for the freezer, but great for a party or an indulgent snack.)
- Egg salad for lunch sandwiches this week. Again not in the freezer, but from our grocery-shopping bounty.
I’m still a newbie at all this, but it can only get better. I plan to continue to challenge myself to cut more and more out of the grocery budget and put money back into our family’s savings.
So now, the cooking sessions and recipes — those, along with tons of pictures, will be my next several blogs. I can’t wait for you to see them!
(links to specific survey sites at bottom of post) The easiest way to increase the available cash in your budget is to stop spending. That’s SO easy to say and less simple to do. We live in a culture that constantly teaches that “more is better”, “bigger is best”, “you deserve it now”, etc. If [...]
(links to specific survey sites at bottom of post)
The easiest way to increase the available cash in your budget is to stop spending. That’s SO easy to say and less simple to do. We live in a culture that constantly teaches that “more is better”, “bigger is best”, “you deserve it now”, etc. If you have managed to block out those “spend-it voices” that permeate advertising, television, and conversations with your neighbor in America, then you are well on your way to increasing your income. But, if you have cut your expenses to the bone and still need to add cash to the family budget, there are a variety of legitimate options for doing that at home. The simplest is filling out surveys.
First of all, let me say, “Yes, I do surveys.” Secondly, no one is going to get rich or make full-time income doing surveys without neglecting the larger priorities in their life. Surveys are “extra income”. They are not going to be a “second income” for your family, in most cases. Steer away from any website that tells you differently. I see survey income as a simple way for a family to build an entertainment budget or to save for a purchase that doesn’t fit into their normal budget. My average month of survey income is between $20 and $40, depending on how much time I devote to it. The very best month was just under $100.
Typically, I don’t look at surveys until after my kids are in bed and I have some “down time” to just sit at the computer and unwind. I spend anywhere from an hour to two hours two or three nights a week, just filling out surveys that have been offered to me. You are in control of how much income you make from surveys, to the extent that you are in control of how much time you spend doing them. The more surveys you complete, the more you will earn. Once you are established with the reputable survey sites (I’ll list the ones I use, below.), you won’t have to hunt for surveys. They will send ones being offered to you right to your email in box. I personally recommend having a separate email account for surveys and free offers that you subscribe to. That way you are not sorting through every email you receive trying to decide what is personal and what is survey/offers. Gmail.com is a simple place to set up a separate account for that email.
The best advice I can give for getting a plentiful number of surveys in your email in box is to complete all the personal profile information each site requests of you. Who is picked for which surveys is directly related to this information and the more of it they know about you, the more you will match their survey criteria. Also, don’t let your account sit dormant. If you’re sent a survey, complete it. Show that you are interested and reliable and you will receive even more surveys.
I also have received free full-size products to review and then complete surveys about, which helps the household budget, too. So, I want you to see the potential in doing surveys, but to also be realistic about what to expect. They are worthwhile and of value “in their place” and I would encourage any of you to try it, with the expectation that, over time, this is great “extra cash”, but not a second income.
The survey sites I am currently subscribed to:
Pinecone Research – probably my favorite survey site. $3 payout for every survey, free full-size products to review on occasion and an additional $3 payout to complete survey after reviewing a product. It is by invitation only, so watch our Busy-at-Home facebook site (Become a Fan and you’ll be automatically notified.) and I will post when the new invitations come out. They send a check after each and every survey – no waiting for the total to accumulate.
Opinion Outpost – You accumulate Opinion Points for each survey. Each point is worth 10¢, so 20 points is $2.00, etc. You can cash out any time after you hit $5. I like them because they send many, many surveys and the payout is quick. It is easy to have checks from them every two to 4 weeks.
Global Test Market - another good cash payout site. The payout threshold is higher here, though. You must accumulate 1000 points for a payout. The good news is 1000 points equals $50!
e-poll surveys – pays in cash, gift cards or charity of your choice. Minimum payout is 3500 points. All cash payouts are made through PayPal.
Clear Voice Surveys – payout is minimum $10 and you select one of the four available forms – Amazon Gift Card, Payoneer Prepaid Mastercard, or Dining Dough Restaurant Gift Certificates.
MySurvey.com – payout minimum is $10 and can be redeemed as cash, gift cards, merchandise or charitable donations.