Monday, November 25, 2013

Meal Plan Monday: 11/25-12/1/13

Wondering how or why to meal plan? Read this first.

Happy Thanksgiving week! I hope everyone has a great time connecting with family and friends this week.

Here is what we will be eating this week:

Monday: Jalapeno Popper Chicken Chili

Tuesday: Slow cooker Asian glazed chicken over brown rice and broccoli

Wednesday: Grilled teriyaki chicken with roasted vegetables

Thursday: Thanksgiving Meal

Friday: Out to dinner for our 10th Wedding Anniversary!!!

Saturday: Thanksgiving leftovers -  Here are some ideas on how to use up all that turkey - turkey pot pie, turkey tetrazzini, turkey chowder. And if you still can't figure out what to do with the leftover turkey, freeze it. It will stay good for 3-6 months if sealed well.

Sunday: Pizza at my parent's house

Here's what's coming up this week on the blog:
  • How to roast vegetables - super easy and very delicious!
  • Week 2 in our "Countdown to Christmas" treats series

Have a great week and happy eating!!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thanksgiving Meal with Grandma's stuffing

I love Thanksgiving - the planning, the food, the family and great memories that abound. As someone who loves to cook I get so excited to start planning the meal once November rolls around.

I'm even more excited this year because I will be making my Grandma's stuffing for the first time. I have so many good memories tied to this stuffing. My Grandma passed away in September, so this will be our first holiday season without her. She loved all holidays and always put such special emphasis into decorations, especially table decorations. I was just joking with my cousin about how Grandma even had salt and pepper shakers for each holiday. As much as she loved to decorate, she loved having her family together even more.

My cousin is blessed to have a copy of the recipe for Grandma's stuffing in Grandma's handwriting. Thanks for sharing this photo with me, Amy Jo!

Here is what I will be making for Thanksgiving this year:
  • Turkey - I skip all the basting and brining and use an oven safe bag. I use Reyonld's Oven bags, turkey size. This is truly one of the most simple way to make a turkey. I remove the organs (disgusting I know), rinse and dry it, chop an onion and throw it inside, season the outside with salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme and poultry season, give it a good coat of olive oil and then put it in the bag and let it cook. It's done in nearly half the time as the normal way of cooking a turkey. It comes out moist and delicious without hardly any fuss at all. Check it out!
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Grandma's stuffing (recipe to follow)
  • Green bean casserole
  • Corn
  • Rolls
  • Pumpkin Pie
Grandma's Stuffing
  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 c. celery, diced
  • 1 loaf dry white bread (leave the bread out on the counter over night to dry)
  • 1 1/2 t. poultry seasoning
  • 1 1/2 t. salt (add some seasoning salt too if you like things a little saltier)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • milk to dip the bread in
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Melt butter in a sauce pan, add onion and celery and fry over low heat until tender.
  3. Dip bread in the milk and cut or pull into smaller pieces.
  4. Put bread into a greased casserole dish. Add vegetables, seasonings and egg. Mix until very well combined.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Countdown to Christmas: Kelly's No-Bake Cookies

I LOVE No-Bake Cookies. I love them so much that I can't make them all that often because I eat way way way too many of them at a time if they are in my house. If I smell or see them its like I lose all self-control. Must be that peanut butter and chocolate combo. Also, I love the fact that they are so simple to make and are done it no time at all. As a busy mom of four, I need to save time where I can.

I was telling my dear friend Kelly about this a few years ago and she gave me her recipe for No-Bake Cookies, and now it's the only recipe I use to make them.

The ingredients: sugar, butter, creamy peanut butter, milk, cocoa, and QUICK cooking oats (not Old Fashioned oats)

Put sugar, butter and milk into a medium sized pot over medium heat and combine. Stir frequently and allow the butter to melt.

 Add the cocoa and bring the mixture to a boil. Make sure you really stir in the cocoa to combine it.

Let it boil rapidly for 2 minutes.

Turn off the heat. Add the peanut butter and oats. Stir until everything is completely combined.

Spoon onto wax paper (or aluminum foil works fine too). This recipe makes 25-30 cookies.

 Let the cookies cool and set. 15-20 minutes is usually a good amount of time. Enjoy!!

Kelly's No-Bake Cookies         makes 25-30 cookies
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 5 T. cocoa
  • 2/3 c. peanut butter
  • 3 c. QUICK oats (NOT Old Fashioned oats) 
  1. Put sugar, butter and milk into a medium sized pot over medium heat and combine. Stir frequently and allow the butter to melt.
  2. Add the cocoa and bring the mixture to a boil. Make sure you really stir in the cocoa to combine it.
  3. Let it boil rapidly for 2 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat. Add the peanut butter and oats. Stir until everything is completely combined.
  5. Spoon onto wax paper (or aluminum foil works fine too).
  6.  Let the cookies cool and set for 15-20 minutes before eating.
Now will someone please come over so I don't eat all of these???

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How to Tuesday: Building a Pantry Stockpile (Part 2)

If you missed the first installment, read this first.

Now we know why it's great to have a well stocked pantry and items that it should include, but where should you even start?

Let me break it down...

  • Start by making a list of things that you keep in your pantry. Now highlight or star the things that you find yourself purchasing most frequently. If you purchase it more than once a month I would qualify that as frequent. In my house that would be pasta, flour, bread flour, chili powder, cereal, pizza sauce, canned tomatoes, Rotel, brown rice, peanut butter, etc...
  • Whatever items were your top 10 items are the ones that you're going to start building your stockpile with. 
  • Decide where you're going to keep your stockpile. This is definitely something you want to think about ahead of time in case you come across a screaming deal on something. I use two shelving units in a corner of my basement storage room. It could be in your actual kitchen pantry if you have room in there. Wherever it works, clear out the space and have it ready.
  • Start setting aside a part of your grocery budget to allocate to a stockpile purchase. If that's $2 a week great. If you can do more, even better. I realize every one's finances and grocery budgets are different, so do what you can and don't sweat it if you don't have a lot of wiggle room in your budget right now.
  • Decide either in your mind or on paper if that helps, a price-point of what you feel comfortable paying to stock up on a specific item. For instance I WILL NOT pay more than $1 for a box of pasta. It goes on sale almost weekly for a $1, so really there is never a reason to pay more than that. By purchasing 8 boxes at a time for $1/box I can almost guarantee that there will be another pasta sale by the time I need to purchase more. Most sales  run in 8-12 week cycles, so if you have room in your budget try to stock up on enough to last you that 8-12 weeks. I promise you that once you start to pay attention to the sales cycles you will start seeing the patterns and know when to stock up.
  • It takes time to build up a pantry stockpile. It will not happen over night. So start small and go from there. It took me about 6-9 months to feel like I really had a good amount in my stockpile. 
Here are some pictures from my pantry stockpile.

In my pantry stockpile you will see that right now I have a lot of baking supplies, pasta and canned goods as this is a great time of year to stock up on those items. Also, once you get a handle on building up your food stockpile, try your hand at toiletries. Depending on where you live in the country and what stores are local to you, you can get many toiletries for pennies on the dollar or even free.

Once you get to a point where you have a rockin' stockpile you will only need to purchase things when they are truly on sale, rather than paying full price for them when you run out.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Meal Plan Monday: 11/18-11/24/13

Wondering how or why to make a meal plan? Read this first.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Monday: Beef with broccoli over brown rice

Tuesday: Tacos, sauteed peppers and onions with Spanish rice

Wednesday: Leftovers for the family (I'm going out with my girlfriends!!!)

Thursday: Italian Wonderpot with grilled chicken and side salad

Friday: Homemade Pizza with fresh veggies

Saturday: Creamy chicken and spinach pasta

Sunday: Small group pizza night, I'm just bringing drinks

Here's what's coming up this week on the blog:
  • Part 2 of how to build your pantry. Here's part 1 if you missed it last week.
  • Week 1 in the series "6 Weeks of Christmas Treats". I'm really excited, but I think my family is even more excited because they get to sample the treats to make sure they're good enough to share with all of you. :)
  • Darcie's Thanksgiving meal - I LOVE Thanksgiving and now I'm hungry just thinking about it.

Have a great week and happy eating!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Frugal Friday: Stock Up!

This time of year, meaning the up coming holidays, is the best time to stock up on certain food items. The 6-7 weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas are the best weeks to stock up on baking supplies, spices, canned goods, turkey, ham, butter and eggs. I will usually try to stock up on enough dry goods and spices to last my family for the next 4-6 months. Around Easter they will have a sale again, although typically not as good.

Stock up on eggs, you must be crazy right?? Wrong. Even though they have an expiration date, they can last 4 to 5 weeks past their expiration date!  According to the American Egg Board:
  "The oil coating which seals the shell's pores helps to prevent bacteria from entering the egg and reduces moisture loss from the egg. RAW SHELL EGGS REFRIGERATED IN THEIR CARTONS WILL KEEP FOR ABOUT 4 TO 5 WEEKS BEYOND THE PACK DATE WITHOUT SIGNIFICANT QUALITY LOSS. (The pack date is usually a number from 1 to 365 representing the day of the year starting with January 1 as 1 and ending with December 31 as 365.)"

So stock up on eggs because they are a great source of protein that won't break the bank. I personally love to do a breakfast casserole on Thanksgiving and Christmas because they feed a crowd without killing my grocery budget.

Turkeys will be at their cheapest the last full week before Thanksgiving (this year that would be the 17th-23rd), and then on "clearance" after Thanksgiving until they get rid of most or all of their turkeys. Same goes for hams, only right before Christmas rather than Thanksgiving. I will usually pick up an extra turkey and ham to eat later in the year. They are both good in the freezer for at least 6 months to a year. And who says that you can only eat turkey on Thanksgiving?

So for the next 6 weeks watch your grocery ads and see what you can grab for a steal.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How to Tuesday: Building a Pantry Stockpile (Part 1)

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Having a well stocked pantry can relieve so much stress in your life.  If you keep most of the ingredients on hand that your family uses most, you'll always have something you can throw together. When you keep your pantry well stocked you'll always have something to eat which lessens the need to eat out or order in. And once you get your basic pantry started and can start a stockpile you will be prepared for that unexpected job loss, a time of less income or to be a blessing to someone in need.

So what entails a basic pantry? I've included a list of what we keep in our home. This list may or may not work for your household depending on preferences, food allergies, etc...

Here are a list of items I try to keep in my pantry at all times:

Baking Supplies: all purpose flour, bread flour, whole wheat flour, white sugar, yeast, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar, Truvia (Stevia sweetener), corn meal, corn starch (or arrowroot), vanilla extract, cocoa powder, shortening, cooking spray, chocolate chips, nuts (assorted varieties for snacking and baking), powdered sugar, old fashioned oats

Seasonings/Oils: salt, kosher salt, black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, ground ginger, seasoning salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, parsley flakes, basil, oregano, soy sauce, canola oil, olive oil, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, hot sauce, chicken bouillon, beef bouillon

Condiments: mayo, ketchup, mustard, various salad dressings, BBQ sauce, jelly, peanut butter

Canned: corn, green beans, tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tomatoes with jalapenos, artichoke hearts, pizza sauce, kidney beans, tuna, spaghetti sauce, tomato juice

Breakfast foods: various cereals, quick-cooking oats

Dry Packaged Goods: various cuts of pasta, stuffing mix, dry Great Northern beans, dry black beans, dry pinto beans, white rice, brown rice, quinoa, tortillas

Snack Foods: various crackers, popcorn (NOT microwave), pretzels, tortilla chips

I know this list looks overwhelming, but truth be told you probably have quite a bit of it in your cabinets already. Next week we'll talk about how to build up your pantry so you can have everything you need on hand, while saving money in the process.

Part 2

Monday, November 11, 2013

Kitchen Tip: Spices

Wondering what are the essential spices to have on hand? Or do you ever wonder what spice goes with what other spices or type of cuisine? Check out this handy little chart.

Meal Plan Monday: 11/11-11/17/13

Wondering how or why to make a meal plan? Read this first.

You'll notice that we're eating soup a few times this week. That's because it is freezing here now, and it even snowed today! Here's what we'll be eating this week:

Monday: Teriyaki chicken with mashed potatoes, broccoli and peas

Tuesday: Chicken tortilla soup

Wednesday: Tuscan white bean & spinach soup

Thursday: Spinach &mozzarella egg bake

Friday: Crock Pot chicken taco chili

Saturday: Homemade pizza and fresh veggies

Sunday: We are having appetizer night at our small group. I'll be making Buffalo Wing Hummus

Have a great week everyone and happy eating!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Meal Plan Monday: 11/4-11/10/13

I'm a day late on this but better late than never. :)

Monday: Pizza Casserole

Tuesday: Baked Spaghetti Squash with Zucchini and salad

Wednesday: Better than Panda's Orange Chicken over brown rice and broccoli

Thursday: Chicken Taco Casserole

Friday: Healthy Veggie Quiche and salad

Saturday: Homemade Pizza with fresh veggies

Sunday: Leftovers

Have a great week!