Thursday, December 13, 2012

[Crockpot] Rosemary Chicken with White Beans

A friend shared this recipe with me a couple of months ago and I loved it. For your enjoyment, I am finally getting around to posting my take on it. :o)

Chocolate Pumpkin Oat Cookies

I needed a quick "dessert" and came across this recipe for Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies using a cake mix and thought I'd give it a whirl. The original recipe was simply one box chocolate cake mix + 1 can pumpkin puree but I changed it up a bit.
  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup coffee
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Throw everything in a large mixing bowl, stir until thoroughly combined. 
  2. Spoon into baking sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Gluten-Free [Chocolate] Peanut Butter Cookies

I have been looking for some good gluten free recipes as I have a few friends who can't do gluten. When I came across a recipe for GF Peanut Butter Cookies I just had to give them a try. I was a little skeptical of the recipe as I love my gluten (yes, breads, cakes, cookies, etc. are all weaknesses of mine when it comes to food). However, I was completely blown away by how delicious these cookies are. They are quite literally THE BEST peanut butter cookies I have ever tasted or made (and Jared, who is not usually a pb cookie fan, agrees with me).

Gluten Free Banana [Blueberry] Muffins

Our church is hosting Financial Peace University right now and Jared is coordinating it. I volunteered to be in charge of refreshments each week and have been trying a few new recipes. I've done my chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, no-bake cookies, store bought snacks (I know, that's odd for me but it had been a busy week), chocolate pumpkin oat cookies, gluten-free peanut butter cookies (literally the best peanut butter cookies ever), pumpkin spice bread bites, and mini apple pies. This week I decided to do some chocolate chocolate chip cookies (cake mix) and gluten-free banana muffins.
You may be wondering why someone who so thoroughly enjoys breads would be interested in a gluten-free muffin recipe. The simple answer is this, I have a friend who is also taking the FPU class and she can't eat gluten. I decided a couple of weeks ago to start attempting at least one GF recipe a week so that she'd have an option.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Bread Bites with Spiced Cream Cheese Dip

There is something about pumpkins that make them almost completely inseparable from fall, especially as it gets close to Thanksgiving. It's hard for me not to think in "pumpkin" mode when it comes to baking during this time of year. You know what I mean, don't you? The memories that fill your mind as the smell of pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger wafts through your house when baking a pumpkin pie or even pumpkin bread. If you are like me (when it comes to pumpkins and fall), than this recipe is for you. It's a marriage of Monkey Bread and Pumpkin Quick Bread served with a side of Pumpkin Cheesecake.

Menu: December 3-30

Life gets super busy around our house between Thanksgiving and New Years Day. We have all sorts of Christmas get togethers, decorating, baking, and gift making. We also have several house projects to be completed (since Jared usually takes a week off between Christmas and New Years). All of these activities combined have kept me from actually writing out and posting the menu on time, which is why I will be keeping things a little more simple.

December 3-9
  • Comfort Food - Chicken Noodle soup and garlic parmesan bread sticks
  • Soup/Sandwich - Sub sandwiches, veggie tray, and chips with salsa
  • Crockpot - Lemon pepper pork loin, "baked" sweet potatoes, green beans, and dinner rolls
  • Spicy (Tex-Mex, Cajun, etc.) - Louisiana red beans and rice
  • Miscellaneous - Sweet potato waffles or pancakes with homemade mixed berry syrup
  • Italian - Lasagna roll-ups, mixed veggies, side salad, and bread sticks 
Still working on these and will post shortly...
I am finally finished writing this out after an insanely busy week at our house. I spent 5 out of the last 7 days patching, priming, and painting walls, doors, and trim in the kids' rooms and our living/dining room. Glad to be almost done with that task!

December 10-16 - We have Christmas Parties or dinner with friends every night from Friday-Sunday so I only have four meals planned.
  • Spicy - Mexican Gumbo - this is my Qdoba copycat recipe (I'm working at getting it posted and will include a link as soon as I do)
  • Misc. - Fish Sticks, potato wedges, and mixed veggies 
  • Comfort food - Rosemary Chicken with White Beans
  • Soup/Sandwich - Sloppy Joes, fruit salad, and french fries.
December 17-23 - We have 2 more Christmas parties and a homeschool field trip this week so it's another 4 meal menu.
  • Spicy - Tacos with black beans and rice
  • Comfort food - Chili and Cornbread
  • Misc. - Breakfast Grilled Cheese - either the eggs and bacon or the blueberry and cream cheese...
  • Soup/Sandwich - Peppery Beef Sandwiches and several appetizers/desserts - This is for our church's college/career group's Christmas Party. We really enjoy spoiling them with good food as Jared and I can remember how college food can be.
December 24-30 - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!
  • Italian - Spaghetti, mixed veggies, side salad, and bread
  • Misc. - Steak... still deciding on sides
  • Spicy - Quesadillas (at the request of Mr. R)
  • Comfort food - Chicken Not Pie
  • Grilled Chicken Salad - I figure that we will need this after all the high calorie foods during Christmas
Baking List for the Month
Sugar Cookie Mini Apple Pies (for a ladies' Christmas party)
Pumpkin Spice Bread Bites - but trying them as pull apart bread this time
Chocolate Pumpkin Oat Cookies
GF Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bites
GF Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
GF Banana Blueberry Muffins

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Green Bean Casserole with Porcini Mushroom Sauce

It went pretty quick

As my sisters and I were prepping Thanksgiving dinner at my parents, my youngest sister sadly informed us that she had grabbed the wrong cream soup for her green bean casserole, which is her hubby's favorite Thanksgiving dish. My sis' had all the other ingredients but sadly my mom had no cream of mushroom soup on hand. Just then I remembered repinning a recipe for homemade condensed cream soup. I exclaimed, "We can make our own! I just saw a recipe on Pinterest for it so we can at least try." It turned out fabulously and is really quite simple.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Permanent Marker Mugs

Right before turning the oven on
Since adding homeschooling Mr. R. and Miss E. to my list of jobs, I have struggled with including more of the extracurricular activities (art, music, etc.) into their school week. There just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day for me to get everything done, so when I do fit some such activity into the day I want it to be a little big and definitely memorable. This was one week where I really wanted to do a fun art (well, more craft than art) project with the kids.

Condensed Cream of [blank] Soup

While browsing different pins on Pinterest a few weeks ago I came across one for "Cream of [...] Soup". It was the simple recipe for a homemade version of canned condensed cream of [fill in the blank] soup. I thought to myself, "That might be a handy recipe to have on hand for several reasons." So, I repinned it. I didn't think that I'd use it as soon as I did or that it would turn out as well as it did.
Cream of Chicken for my Enchilada Sauce
As my sisters and I were prepping Thanksgiving dinner at my parents, my youngest sister sadly informed us that she had grabbed the wrong cream soup for her green bean casserole, which is her hubby's favorite Thanksgiving dish. My sis' had all the other ingredients but sadly my mom had no cream of mushroom soup on hand. Just then I remembered the pin! I exclaimed, "We can make our own. I just saw a recipe on Pinterest for it so we can at least try it." It turned out fabulously, as you can see from my Green Bean Casserole post, so I figured that I'd attempt it in place of condensed cream of chicken for my enchilada sauce tonight. Again, it worked beautifully and it's really quite simple.

Meatballs in a Sweet and Spicy Brown Mustard Sauce

I am a sucker for meatball appetizers. You know, the ones that you serve in some sort of sauce with pretzel sticks on the side? When my sister gave me the Thanksgiving menu and appetizers were on the list, I knew that I had to do a meatball appetizer. Most of the time, the sauce is barbecue or tomato based, but I didn't want either of those. I wanted a mustard based sauce, and not just any mustard. I wanted a spicy brown mustard because it goes so well with pretzels. It turned out to be quite delicious!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

3 Small Kitchen Appliances for $6 shipped *EXPIRED*

Ok everyone, I have got THE best "Black Friday" deal for you today. Kohl's has started their "Black Friday" deals online today (through Friday) and right now you can get 3 (yes, I said 3) small kitchen appliances for less than $6 TOTAL. (This deal is valid 11/21/12 through 11/23/12 and rebate forms must be postmarked by 12/23/12)

1 - Start by shopping through ebates, which offers 6% cash back on Kohl's purchases.
2 - Add any 3 of these items to your cart (no dublicates):
Crock Pot 4 Quart Slowcooker for $19.99 (reg. $39.99)
Presto Cool Touch 20-in. Electric Griddle for $19.99 (reg. $39.99)
Black & Decker 10-Speed Blender for $19.99 (reg. $39.99)
Bella Rotating Waffle Maker for $19.99 (reg. $39.99)
3 - Use coupon code BLACKFRI to get 15% off and shipping is free on orders of $50 or more
4 - Place your order.
5 - Watch your email for the $15 Kohl's Cash.
6 - Complete and mail your $10 rebate forms (remember limit one rebate per model purchased, 6-8 weeks for processing). :o)
I bought a 4qt. crockpot, 20" griddle, and 10-speed blender since all three make great housewarming, wedding, etc. gifts!

This is how my total looked:
59.97 (for 3 items) - 9.00 (15% coupon code) + 2.80 (tax) = 53.77
This is how much I should get back:
30.00 (for 3 - $10 rebates) + 15.00 (Kohl's Cash) + 3.06 (ebates cash back) = 48.06 
$53.77 (order total) minus $48.06 (cash back) equals a grand total of $5.71 for all 3!

Your Turn: What did you get?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Menu: November 5-December 2, 2012

We all got nasty head colds last week due to the weather change so I am behind on many things including this month's menus and a few recipes. We have lots going on during the month of November - Jared's birthday, deer hunting, Thanksgiving, and preparations for Christmas (cards, letters, and gifts). I will be back to a regular meal routine for the most part this month (comfort, Tex-Mex, soup or sandwich, grilled or crockpot, Italian)

Week of November 5-11
Week of November 12-18
Happy 34th Birthday to my wonderful hubby, Jared! Also, happy hunting to all on opening day.
Week of November 19-25
Happy Thanksgiving! We spend every other Thanksgiving with my family (the off year we all get together for Christmas). One of my sisters is in charge of organizing the menu for our time at my parents' and we each pick foods to bring based on her lists. I am in charge of the Turkey again the Thanksgiving, which I enjoy, but we don't have the rest of the menus together so I will post those as soon as I hear from her. :o)
  • Italian - "Spinach dip" stuffed shells, mixed veggies, and French bread
  • Crockpot - Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, mixed veggies and rolls
  • Tex-Mex - Quesadillas (black bean and rice, chicken, and cheese)
  • Comfort - Thanksgiving Dinner
    • Turkey... 
  • Soup or sandwich...I am sure one of these two or both will be on my sister's menu as there are MANY turkey something-or-other recipes for these dishes. One of my favorites is Turkey and wild rice soup.
Week of November 26-December 2

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fingerprint Fall Trees

This Fall I embarked on a new adventure...homeschooling Mr. R. (K5) and Miss E. (K4). This new adventure brings many joys and struggles. It is a continual learning process for me - learning how to teach each child (as they are VERY different in learning styles as well as personalities), learning how to balance family, school, work, church, and hobbies, and learning how to lean and depend more fully on God for wisdom and strength. Anyway, today after finishing up all our books for the day I decided to do something fun (and messy because to children the level of fun is directly related to the amount of potential for mess). So I got out the brown permanent marker, some cardstock, and the red, green, and yellow finger paints.
Draw a wispy tree on the cardstock with your brown marker

Then pour a puddle each of the red, yellow, and green finger paint into styrofoam bowls or onto paper plates.
Show the kids how they can get different colors, a marbled affect, etc. by combining the paints.

Let them create a fall scene of falling leaves using the paint and their fingertips :o)

Miss A (3), Mr. R (5), Miss E (4), and my pictures (in order from top left to bottom right)

There are lots of things that you can do with these pictures.
  1. You can laminate them and use them for place mats during the fall season.
  2. You can frame them.
  3. You can make a smaller one on folded cardstock and write a note to someone on the inside. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Crockpot Creamy Chicken & Rice Soup

I had Chicken Noodle Soup on the menu for the night but that just didn't sound as good to me as Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup, so I changed the menu. Here is what I came up with on the fly (and it was quite delicious if you ask me or Miss S, who ate 3 helpings).

Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

Here is a list of my favorite kitchen gadgets and appliances, things that I would have a hard time living without. With Christmas coming up, these are some good gift ideas for that someone special in your life who likes to cook.

Aerobie AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker - I have fallen head over heads for my aeropress. It is really easy to use and even easier to clean, which is great for this busy mom who dislikes doing the dishes. We use it to make delicious Americanos every morning for breakfast and I even use it to make lattes and mochas since it's way cheap than buying a good quality espresso machine.

Slow Cooker
- I have a whole month's worth of crockpot meals and they really do make the day a bit less stressful. I have several sizes but my 6-quart programmable gets used the most.

KitchenAid Mixer - the hubby bought it for me with his first big Christmas bonus the second year we were married, I was due any day with our first child and he wanted to really surprise me. It gets used a TON in our house with all the baking that I do. I use the whisk attachment to make up some killer whipped cream, the bread hook for all kinds of homemade breads (pretzels, dinner rolls, breads), and the paddle attachment for pretty much everything else. We just recently purchased the pasta roller attachment (which is really fun to do with the kids) and I'd love to get the food grinder and sausage stuffing kit.
From 11/24/14-11/28/14, Kohl's is having a HUGE pre-Black Friday sale on these babies!

Coffee Grinder - fresh ground coffee tastes incredible, so much better than pre-ground.

Large Griddle - these come in handy for French toast, pancakes, grilled cheese sandwiches, etc. when you have a larger family or company.

Large Sauté Pan, cast iron skillet or stainless steel pan with a lid  - we use one of these three items every Saturday morning when the hubby cooks up his traditional breakfast skillet.

Meat Mallet - I finally got one of these and I love it.

Waffle Maker - you have to make waffles from scratch or sweet potato waffles but do not use a pancake mix as it just does not taste as yummy. There is also a recipe on Pinterest for hashbrowns using your waffle maker. Who woulda thunk it?! :o)

Cuisinart Food Processor with a cheese grater attachment - I hate how long it takes to grate a block of cheese and my wonderful hubby bought me one for our anniversary in 2011. I use it for way more than just the grater as it is amazing!

Disclaimer: I have not been paid to advertise any of these products. I just really, really love them and think that you will, too! Of course, this post may contain affiliate links in case you choose to increase my meager income by your purchase. :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rotisserie Chicken - Crockpot or Not

I love rotisserie chicken, but it's expensive to buy at the store. About 3-4 years ago, I discovered a recipe for homemade "rotisserie" chicken in the oven and absolutely love it! It's fast, easy, and inexpensive. [Rabbit Trail - I usually buy and then freeze 2-4 whole chickens when they go on sale for less than $1/lb at the local grocery store (my preferred buy price is under $ .79/lb but with prices going up...). Or I get whole chickens on "clearance" at the local Walmart, Target, etc. and then freeze them right away.] Anyway, I'm back from my rabbit trail. For my Crockpot Meal Challenge, I came across a recipe for "rotisserie" chicken in the crockpot and found this to be delicious and simple as well. I am including directions for preparing your chickens both ways but using the same recipe.

Monday, October 1, 2012

[Crockpot] Salisbury Steak

Today was the first day of my "Crock Pot for a Month" personal challenge, as I am trying to build my slow cooker recipe repertoire. I decided to attempt "Crockpot Salisbury Steak" from Moms with Crockpots. I wasn't disappointed! It was a delicious blend of beef, onion, garlic, mushroom, and black pepper. I know you can finish this dish in the oven instead of the crock pot but it really does help during that dinner rush. You know, the time when everyone seems to call, the baby has an explosion, the toddler decides to get into your garbage can, and the preschooler and kindergartner are destroying the living and dining rooms. Yup, those times that you feel you will lose the last ounce of sanity you have because you have no control over anything and dinner will be late or destroyed yet again. I digress...the nice thing about finishing this dish in the slow cooker is that you can start it during naptime and then let it finish cooking while you prep every other part of your meal. You feel like you've got things under control because the main dish WILL BE DONE at dinner time. So here's what I did.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

[Crockpot] Menu: October 1 - November 4

I love my crock pots (I have four to be exact). This month is going to be slightly different from the rest in that I'm going challenge myself to make all my meals (at least the main entrees) in the crock pot. I will be following a slightly different format this month of tex-mex, Italian, comfort food, soup/sandwich, and a miscellaneous dish each week.

October 1-7
October 4th is Cinnamon Roll Day in Sweden (and since I am 1/2 Swedish) I decided that I need to make cinnamon rolls (in the crockpot) for breakfast.
October 8-14
October 15-21
October 22-28
October 29-November 4
This is what my 6 qt. Crock Pot looks like. It was a wedding present. :o)  

Cake Mix Pumpkin Muffins

I usually make some sort of quick bread or muffin for Sunday morning breakfast as they make for a great on-the-go meal. I will admit sometimes it just takes too much time with measuring everything, so when I came across this recipe for pumpkin muffins using a boxed cake mix I just had to give it a try. They turned out really good and were definitely faster.

Mini Caramel Cheesecake

While searching for a good 2-person dessert recipe for our "Dinner at 8pm", I cam across Mini New York Cheesecake by Dessert for Two. Both Jared and I love cheesecake so I thought I'd give it a whirl. I'm glad that I did. They turned out very nice and it made for a delicious and simple dessert. Here is my take on this recipe.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Caprese Chicken with Balsamic Reduction

I saw this recipe on Pinterest by add a pinch for Caprese Grilled Chicken with Balsamic Reduction and immediately thought of using for one of my "Dinner at 8pm" projects. I was practically drooling looking at the pictures from the original recipe. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed when I made it! It was phenomenal! The salty Chicken, gooey cheese, fruity tomato, and zingy vinegar flavors melded together with a beautiful overtone of fresh basil to create a flavor that is out of this world. We thoroughly enjoyed it and I was pleased at how quickly the dish came together. Granted, I made a couple of changes since I forgot to grab charcoal when I was at the store. I totally blame it on "mommy brain"!

Dinner at 8pm (September)

We had our "Dinner at 8pm" last night and it was so nice. We had a delicious dinner and watched "The Princess Bride", which is one of our favorites. This meal would have easily cost us around $50 at a restaurant after gratuity, and that doesn't even include paying a sitter to watch 4 kiddos for a 3-4 hours. Here is what we had for dinner, and keep in mind that I try to use time-saving recipes. Sorry about the picture quality, I couldn't find the camera and had to use the one on my phone.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Skinny Caramel Latte

I thoroughly enjoy a good latte but don't make it to a coffee shop very often for one. The other day I decided to try making my own. It turned out pretty good and I enjoyed it in the peace and quiet while the kids played in the other room.

Black Bean (and Veggie) Soup

Topped with cheddar cheese, light sour cream, and salsa.
As I've mentioned, more times than I can count, our family loves Tex-Mex food, even Miss S. who is only 14 1/2 months gobbles it down. We also like most bean dishes (if they're homemade and not out of a can). I have made black bean and corn salsa, black beans and rice, and many other dishes, so last night I decided to attempt my own take on black bean soup. It turned out deliciously and everyone except Miss A and Miss S had second helpings. We serve it a bit like we have our chili - topped with light sour cream, shredded cheddar, salsa, and crumbled tortilla chips. Yummy!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

We're on Facebook

Menu Ideas is now on Facebook, so check us out on there! If you've got a menu question or would like a recipe suggestion "Like" us and ask away.

[$4] Lazy Day Casserole

We'd already started to dig in before I remembered to snap a photo. :o)
I decided  to try something new (and not on the menu) the other day. It has begun to get chilly at night here and I just wanted something warm, comforting, and easy for supper. I'd seen the recipe on Pinterest for lazy Sunday casserole, it looked and sounded delicious (and easy). And as the recipe said, "Casseroles are perfect for cool nights..."

I did vary the seasonings just a bit, and  as the original recipe said, "The vegetables may vary—depending on what’s in my fridge—but somehow there’s always sausage, potatoes and carrots... Just relax, kick back and let your oven do the work!" So that's what I did. :o) By the way, I had gotten all of the ingredients from my garden, or the store for cheap or free so the entire dish came out to roughly $3-$4.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

[Southwest] Sour Cream Pork Chops with Vidalia Onions

Sour cream pork chops with vidalia onions, 
green beans, artichokes, and baby reds.
I love Vidalias and so I try to utilize them in every way possible during their growing season. During this year's Vidalia season, I tried a couple of new recipes. One was for roasted vidalia onions with herbed bread crumbs and the other was for sour cream pork chops with vidalia onions. They were both DELICIOUS! And I am finally getting this posted. :o)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Help! October Crockpot Menu Ideas

I am planning to attempt something I've never done before...a WHOLE month of solely crockpot meals. I'm getting lots of ideas from Pinterest but would LOVE to have some of your family favorites. Please comment with a link or recipe.

Menu: September 3-30

The new format for a monthly menu seems to be working fairly well for us. I am going to try it again this month to see how things go.

September 3-9
We are watching 4 of my nieces overnight (Friday/Saturday) so we're planning some fun meals.
  • Happy Labor Day Grilling - It is tradition around here to grill out on most holidays (including the ones where we have 2' of snow outside) and this is no exception - brats/hot dogs, potatoes, mixed veggies, corn on the cob, and most likely a jello salad
  • Comfort Food - Chicken stir fry over rice (I know this is not your "traditional" comfort food but to me it is)
  • With it being the first night of King's Kids at church, we may opt to have leftovers or eat out. 
  • Salad - Southwest grilled chicken salad - grilled chicken, black beans, red pepper strips, tortilla strips, corn kernels, red onions, fiesta blend cheese and still deciding on a dressing recipe
  • Tex-Mex - Tacos and black beans with rice
  • Soup/Sandwich - Subs, French fries, and fresh fruit
  • Italian/Pasta - Spaghetti, mixed veggies, side salad, and French bread
September 10-16
  • Breakfast for Dinner - Western Omelets and American fries
  • Tex-Mex - Stuffed peppers
  • Italian - Pizza (Caprese, veggie, and sausage/black olive stuffed crust)
  • Comfort Food - Chicken Pot Pie (I froze a second pie last month)
  • Salad - Simple Italian Pasta Salad (rotini, grilled chicken, olives, cherry tomatoes, peppers, onions, homemade garlic herb dressing, etc.)
  • Leftovers
  • Soup/Sandwich - Pulled pork and slaw and fresh fruit
September 17-23
  • Sandwich - Chicken salad sandwiches and veggie tray
  • Tex-Mex - Fajitas
  • Italian/Pasta - Calzones and salad
  • Comfort Food - Jambalaya
  • Night Out - Jared is attending a seminar and I'm spending the day with my sister and her family, then out for dinner with friends. 
  • Grilling - We've got a college/career's group activity and will be grilling steaks, baking potatoes in the crockpot, and enjoying some fresh veggies.
  • Salad - Grilled chicken salad bar and fruit salad
September 24-30

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cleaning the Bathroom, Pinterest Style

I am going to admit something to you. I HATE cleaning, and the two things I hate to do most are washing the dishes (we'll save the reason for some other post) and cleaning the bathroom. I just plain do not like cleaning the bathroom, it's dirty, smelly, and takes a good chunk of time to get really clean. BUT, thanks to Pinterest, I have found a better way to clean my bathroom. In fact, it's so easy (and almost chemical-free) that Mr. R., who's only 5 1/2, can do about half of it. This literally takes 15 minutes if you clean the shower and wash the floor, even less if you're just cleaning the sink, countertops, and toilet area.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How to Plan a Menu

Last week our assistant pastor's wife asked me to speak to a group of our church ladies on how to plan a menu. It was definitely something new for me as I have never done any sort of public speaking regarding my menu planning. I am including my notes from this as a post to hopefully be a help to you as you write your menus.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Twisted Cinnamon Rolls

Our family loves cinnamon rolls. I found an absolutely delicious recipe before we ever had the kiddos and would make them for special occasions. Since adding 4 to our family, I don't make them as often do to time constraints so I decided to try my own variation on the traditional cinnamon rolls.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Multi-Grain Bread

I decided not to use my loaf pans the day I took the picture,
which is why it looks more like French bread.
I decided to try my hand at making a multi-grain bread for Miss S.'s birthday. I wanted something that combined oats, wheat, flax, and something with a little extra texture so I included sunflower seeds. The bread turned out delicious and everyone enjoyed it! Love it when that happens. :o) Here's what I used:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cinnamon Craisin Oat Bread

I have loved cinnamon raisin bread ever since I can remember. It was always a special treat when we would visit my grandparents, who happened to live just up the road from us. I've wanted to attempt making some for quite a while now and today was the day, since I was out of bread and didn't want to take the time to load 4 kids in a minivan and run to the store for some. I didn't have any raisins on hand but had just picked up some craisins on Friday so I decided to try my own variation on the traditional cinnamon raisin bread.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Savor it!

Jared and I believe that God has completed our family and we do not plan to have any more kids. (We've heard it all where that topic is concerned so please do not judge, or at least keep your judgments to yourself with regard to our family's size.) With that said, my baby girl is now going on 14 months and I am officially done with the baby stage of life. I have never had one of those longing moments where I wonder if we made the right decision in choosing to have "only" the 4 kids, but I do think to myself quite frequently lately that I wish time would just slow down a bit... Mr. R. will start Kindergarten this year and Miss E. preschool. Miss A. is potty trained, and Miss S. is weaned and walking. They are getting so big so fast and lately I feel like they grow all the faster with each blink of an eye. I recently read an excerpt from a book and it made me think and reflect a bit, which I seem to be doing a little more of lately. 

The excerpt goes something like this, "life is not an is our only dessert - too brief, too sweet, too delectable to hurry..." (Ann Voskamp)

In all my extra pondering lately, I have come to the conclusion that life is just too busy and I must slow down and savor the moments. I rush through my day to get everything "finished" - the house cleaned, laundry done, sewing work completed, shopping lists and menus filled out, etc. but feel as though I've missed out on some much needed and neglected TIME with my little ones. 

Yes, there are days where I feel like I am on the verge of insanity with the constant pulling in 5 different directions by the people I love so deeply. Yes, there are days that time cannot seem to move fast enough toward bedtime for my four little blessings. Then I think about the time that my own mother spent with my sisters and I reading books, working in the garden, and just being there for us. I want to duplicate that for my children. I am just forewarning any of you who follow my blog on a regular basis that posts may end up being a little late from time to time as I am learning how to balance my hobbies in light of the need for both my children and me to have more time (both in quality and quantity) with each other. I must learn to savor the moments (both mundane and exciting) and lean more fully on God's grace for the difficult ones.

Monday, August 13, 2012

[Chocolate] Banana Oat Muffins

[Chocolate] Banana Oat Muffins
This is one of my "concoctions", of sorts. I've learned how much of this you can substitute for that and such so I decided to try something new for one of our usual breakfast-on-the-go Sunday mornings. It turned out wonderfully delicious! Most of the kiddos had theirs finished off before we were even halfway to church.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Men's T-Shirt to Peasant Top Upcycle

I happened upon a $3 men's t-shirt at JCP a few months back and finally got a chance to "upcycle" it. :o) First off, I wear an XL and decided to buy a XXL so I'd have more fabric to play around with, but going up a full size probably isn't necessary. 

I started the project by turning the shirt inside out. 
cutting out the shirt front and back

"Philly Cheesesteak" Pizza

Bottom: Completed and delicious!
(BBQ Chicken Pizza is at the top of the picture)
I was making up homemade pizzas for dinner on Friday and Jared just happened to get home from work a bit early so he decided that we would attempt some homemade Philly Cheesesteak Pizza.
1 pound pizza dough (I had some whole wheat dough in the freezer from the local grocery store)
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic herb butter (just minced herbs, garlic, and butter)
1 1/2 tablespoons of flour
2/3 cup skim milk
1 dollop of light sour cream.
1/2 lb steak, thinly sliced
1/3 of a green pepper, thinly sliced
1/3 of a medium onion , thinly sliced
1 cup Italian blend cheese, divided
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Menu: July 30-September 2

It's been just another crazy week, especially for not having anything really on the calendar. I guess better late than never. :o)
Here I go, another attempt at a monthly menu. I'm trying to save as much moola this month as possible since we will be remodeling our bathroom, which I'm very excited about. I'm trying to plan simple, healthy, and inexpensive meals so this should be interesting... I'm going to be following a new format this time around, each week will feature different types of food i.e. Tex-Mex, Salad (lettuce or pasta), "Italian", Comfort Food, and Soup or Sandwich. We usually have one leftovers night and one out-to-eat night.

July 30-August 5
  • Tex-Mex - Tacos with black beans and rice
  • Salad - Grilled chicken salad bar and fruit salad
  • Out-to-Eat Night
  • Soup or Sandwich - Ham and cheese wraps with fruit salad and chips
  • "Comfort food" - Pizza, side salad, fresh fruit and carrot sticks (we had bbq chicken stuffed crust and philly cheesesteak stuffed crust pizzas)
  • "Italian" - Tortellini with pesto, chicken, and veggies
  • Leftovers
August 6-12
  • "Italian" - Bowties with creamy pesto and chicken, carrots, green beans, and french bread 
  • Soup or Sandwich - Sloppy Joes, potato wedges, and fresh fruit (got to get as much in while it's in season) 
  • Tex-Mex - Beef and bean chimichangas (we top our chimis with shredded lettuce and all the usual taco ingredients - guacamole, olives, salsa, sour cream, etc.)
  • Salad - Taco Salad with homemade taco bowls
  • Out-to-Eat Night - planning a double date with some friends
  • "Comfort food" - Red beans and rice
  • Leftovers
August 13-19
  • "Comfort food" - Crockpot Italian Chicken, side salad, and fresh bread
  • Salad - Grilled chicken salad bar and fruit salad
  • Tex-Mex - Tacos
  • Out-to-Eat Night
  • Soup or Sandwich - Sub sandwiches and fresh fruit
  • We've got a family reunion today, which should be lots of fun.
  • "Italian" - Spaghetti, side salad, mixed veggies, and French bread
August 20-26
August 27-September 2
  • Tex-Mex - Cowboy Skillet (at the request of Jared)
  • "Comfort food" - Chicken pot pie (making up a double batch and then freezing one pie for next month)
  • Soup or Sandwich - Chicken enchilada soup
  • Out-to-Eat Night - I'll be heading to a birthday party with the kids while Jared is at the wedding rehearsal.
  • Leftovers  - We have a wedding tonight and Jared is officiating so the kiddos will  most likely be having leftovers with the sitter.
  • Salad - Simple Italian Pasta Salad (rotini, grilled chicken, olives, cherry tomatoes, peppers, onions, homemade garlic herb dressing, etc.)
  • "Italian" - Calzones and a side salad
Your turn: Do you have a usual pattern for you weekly/monthly menus?
As of late, I have had quite a bit of "menu" writer's block. Let me know if you have any recipes that might help. :o)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Temperance: Eating for Weight Control (Updated 8/2/12)

Update (8/2/12): On July 28, I ran my first 5k. I finished in 35:18 and really enjoyed doing it. Jared ran with me and only beat me by 1 second. I felt really good afterward like I could run another mile or two, which was very exciting for me considering the first time I ran for 3.1 miles I thought that I was going to die!

Unfortunately, my weight is up a bit (201.8) but I have been far busier than I should be over the last few weeks. I need to slow down some and focus more on doing what needs to be done.

Here are some pictures from our 5k.
Before the race

about 15 minutes after the race
I look just a bit different than I did at my heaviest.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Menu: July 23-29

So, we've been experiencing internet issues ever since getting back from vacation, which is why this post is  so incredibly late. We had a service tech out this afternoon and he got things back up and running. :o)
Just a heads up, I am going to attempt a month of menus for August, but in the mean time here is this week's menu.

  • Grilled chicken salad bar and fresh bread (Jared's request)
  • Pretzel-coated walleye, roasted baby red potatoes, mixed veggies, garlic herb parmesan French bread, and dark chocolate cream cheese brownies - we had my FIL over for a birthday dinner.
  • Spaghetti, mixed veggies, side salad, and fresh bread (Miss E's request was for "you know, the noodles that you swirl around your fork")
  • Grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, and tomato soup (Mr. R's request)
  • Tacos (pretty much everyone's favorite)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Honey Oat Bread

We love breads! I'm sure this comes as no surprise considering that there is some form of bread on the  menu at least once or twice a week. So I've been experimenting on different kinds of yeast breads over the last couple of months and this is one of my favorites.
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
This is where I deviate from most bread recipes. With there being a time factor in my house, I use my bread machine to do all the mixing and the first rising. So...
  1. In the bottom of your bread pan, combine water, oil, honey, and yeast. Top with flour and oat, then add salt. Set your bread machine for dough and press 'Start'.
  2. Allow the dough to go through the first rise and deflate cycle. Then empty dough out onto a floured surface, knead, and divide into two equal pieces forming into loaves.
  3. Place the loaves into two lightly greased 9x5 inch loaf pans. Cover the loaves with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. 
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until bottoms of the loaves sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans, brush with butter or coconut oil, and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Menu: July 2-15

My littlest, Miss S, turns the big "1" today, but we aren't celebrating till Tuesday. It's also America's birthday so we will be celebrating 2 days in a row. :o) I've decided to do a 2-week menu as things are going to be a bit hectic with several fittings and 3 wedding pickups in these next 2 weeks.

Week 1 (July 2-8)
Week 1 (July 9-15) - only 4 meals thiweek as it's just me and the kids most of the week so we'll be doing leftovers more often.
won't be planning a menu next week as I will be taking a menu-planning vacation to spend some time with my family, which is much needed after the craziness of the last feweeks. For some ideas, you can always check out the master list

Your turn: What are some quick, simple summer recipes that your family enjoys during these hot summer days?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Menu: June 25-July 1

I've decided that life is just gonna be busy for a little while (at least till wedding season is over). Thus meals need to be simple, which Jared prefers.
I'm working on a 2 week menu for July 2-15 as I have 3 weddings going out during that time. I will try to get it posted in the next couple of days. 

I've started updating the master list if you need some more ideas for your menu.

Your turn: What are some simple summer "go-to" recipes that your family enjoys?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Dinner at 8pm (June)

I happened to see this idea on a blog a few months ago (here's the original idea) and decided to try it. I knew Jared and I really needed a "date" Thursday night but had no luck finding sitter on the spur of the moment so I decided to try it. I will admit that it was a bit of a struggle trying to get me kids to go to bed early but I think better planning on my part would have helped with that. It ended up being a really nice evening for us to sit and an enjoy an elegant dinner and a movie.

Here is what we had for dinner (I did make a changes to all of the recipes and I'm hoping to get them posted on here soon but the original links will have to suffice for now):
Candlelight provided by some tapered candles, coffee beans, and champagne flutes.
Appetizer - Honey Oat Bread with black pepper & herb olive oil for dipping
Vegetables - Braised Zucchini with Red Pepper and Onion, and Steamed broccoli and cauliflower

Dessert - Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake and coffee (I baked my cakes in the oven instead of the microwave)