Monday, December 29, 2008

Weekly Menu: 29 December - 4 January

Monday: Chicken Tenders, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Applesauce

Tuesday: Chili Baked Potatoes, Green Salad, Steamed Broccoli

Wednesday: Chili Dogs & Hamburgers, French Fries, Melon Slices

Thursday: Baked Potato Soup, Green Salad, Rolls

Friday: Chicken Enchilada Casserole, Spanish Rice, Fiesta Salad

Saturday: Pizza (Meat, Cheese & Alfredo), Salad, Breadsticks

Sunday: Corn Chowder, Green Salad, Rolls

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons butter
2 (10.75 ounce) cans cream of chicken soup
1 onion, finely diced
2 (10 ounce) packages refrigerated biscuit dough, torn into pieces

Place the chicken, butter, soup and onion in a slow cooker and fill with enough water to cover. Cover and cook for 5 to 6 hours on HIGH. About 30 minutes before serving, place the torn biscuit dough in the slow cooker. Cook until the dough is no longer raw in the center.

*Note from Ranae - This is a versatile recipe. I use it as a base upon which to begin cooking. If using pre-cooked chicken, cook time would not need to be as long or even on HIGH. It would need to be turned to HIGH to cook the biscuits in the last 30 minutes or so. I have used chicken broth instead of water. I also use homemade biscuit dough cut into pieces. Vegetables add more nutrition to the meal and turns it into a one-pot meal.

Carrot-Pineapple Salad

I found this recipe on I was searching for an easy side dish salad to serve at a luncheon for 20 people. I am not a big nut-in-my-food fan, but I love this dish. I did not serve it topped with mayonnaise and still enjoyed it. This pretty salad takes less than 30 minutes to prepare which is nice too.

The can of pineapple shown is larger than called for in the recipe so there is more pineapple in the salad than the recipe states. That is what I get for making it when half asleep. IF I had paid more attention and done it right, the pecans would rise to the top with the orange and yellow of the carrots and pineapple underneath creating a pretty salad as appetizing to look at as it is to eat.

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup reserved pineapple juice
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped pecans
8-ounce can crushed pineapple, well drained, reserving juice
2 carrots, coarsely grated

In a large bowl, sprinkle gelatin over reserved pineapple juice and let stand 2-3 minutes. Then pour sugar and salt on top of gelatin. Pour boiling water over all and stir utnil sugar and gelatin are dissloved. Add lemon juice and stir to blend. Add pecans, pineapple, and grated carrot. Pour into an 8-inch square glass baking dish. Cover and chill 4 hours until firm. Cut into squares. Serve topped with a bit of mayonnaise, if desired. Makes 9 servings

All ready to chill in the refrigerator

Tuesday's Tip

Schedules can be busy with two or ten in your family. Tips and ideas that can help me spend more time doing what I want are always welcome. One thing I am trying to incorporate into my weekly meal plan is what I dub "Two for Tuesday."

What that means is what I prepare for Tuesday will be enough to make a second meal later in the week. That is where the two comes into play. For example, tonight will be beef post roast. I will place enough roast in my crockpot so that we may eat tonight, and that I have enough for a later meal. This week I will shred the extra beef needed for the Beefy-Vegetable Soup on Sunday. I found I have to freeze the extra meat as my family will eat it if I do not. I season my pot roast with onion soup as well as salt and pepper as needed so that I can use the meat in other dishes. From a roast I can also make barbeque sandwiches, beef burritos, shredded beef chalupas, Italian beef, beef and cheddar rolls and more.

The same can be done for chicken, turkey, ham, and pork loin or roast. I cook once and save time. I also do this on Tuesday because I can use my roaster or crockpot to cook. It frees my time which is good as Tuesday is usually my shopping day. I also have meetings or like to take a night off to go out and relax.

It does not have to be Tuesday (that just works for me and had a cool ring to the name). It can be any day that you find you are gone most of the day. It is easy to put a meal in to cook all day and serve with a couple of 5 minute sides at dinner time. Having the meat already cooked for a second meal is a nice bonus. It is a tip and idea that saves time and money. Who couldn't use a little of both of those?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Weekly Menu: 22 December 2008

Monday: Shrimp Toss, Salad, Green Beans, Garlic Toast

Tuesday: Roast, Potatoes and Carrots, Salad, Rolls

Wednesday: Roast Duck, Sweet Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli, Carrot-Pineapple Salad

Thursday: Broccoli Beef over Rice, Egg Drop Soup, Orange & Pineapple Slices

Friday: Chicken & Dumplings, Apple Walnut Salad

Saturday: Pizza (Sausage, Cheese & Chicken Club), Salad

Sunday: Beefy Vegetable Soup, Rolls

Shrimp Toss

1 pound spaghetti
1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 - 8 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
5 tablespoons sour cream
1 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Saute mushrooms, garlic and shrimp in butter 5-8 minutes until shrimp are pink. Stir in sour cream and cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix until blended and pour over hot pasta.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

AngelFood Ministry Meal Ideas

(three units shown in the picture with no specials)

Unit Contents:
  • Breaded Chicken Tenders
  • Lemon Herb Chicken Breasts
  • Pork Chops
  • Ground Beef Patties
  • Beef Roasts
  • Hot Dogs
  • Banquet Turkey & Gravy
  • Carrot Slices, frozen
  • Green Beans, frozen
  • French Fries
  • Potatoes
  • Eggs
  • Shelf-Stable Milk
  • Corn Muffin Mix
  • Chicken Broth
  • Rice
  • Macaroni & Cheese
  • Sweet Potato Pies

Meal Ideas:

  • Chili Dogs, French Fries, Coleslaw
  • Turkey & Gravy over Toast, Green Beans, Salad
  • Chicken Tenders, Mashed Potatoes with Gravy, Coleslaw
  • Grilled Pork Chops, Buttered Potatoes, Carrots
  • Herbed Chicken, Seasoned Rice, Tangy Carrots
  • Chili, Cornbread
  • Shredded Beef Chalupas, Spanish Rice, Fruit
  • Gravy & Biscuits, Fruit
  • Fried Rice, Egg Drop Soup, Fruit Slices
  • Chili-Cheese Fries, Vegies & Dip
  • Ground Steak with Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans
  • Scrambled Eggs, Pork Chops, Toast, Fruit/Juice
  • Beefy Vegetable Soup, Salad, Rolls
  • Chicken Parmesan, Salad

Many of the meal leftovers if your family is kind (or unkind depending how you look at it) enough to leave some can be used in other meals saving preparation time. Beef roast leftovers can be shredded and used in the shredded beef chalupas and/or beefy vegetable soup. Leftover chili can be used to make refried beans for the chalupas. It can be also used for the chili-cheese fries or chili dogs. Leftover scrambled eggs can go into the fried rice.

My family loves chicken tenders, but since I ordered extra units I can also use them in a shortcut chicken parmesan meal. I do not look at it only as chicken tenders. I looks at it as pre-breaded chicken and let my ideas go from there. I can bake the chicken tenders until crispy and then slice them using them for a yummy chef salad.

I hope these ideas can help or fuel ideas of your own. I know sometimes I need a little boost (& lots of sleep) to get my creativity running. Happy Planning!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Food Distribution Day

I pick up my food from both Angel Food Ministries and SHARE Foods the same day. This is my haul for today and should feed my family for a couple of weeks. It would probably last longer, but everyone will be home from work and school so food disappears at alarming rate.

This is my SHARE Foods order. It is three regular units plus 2 specials.

This is my Angel Food Ministries Order. It is 3 regular units.

This is all the food I received today. It cost me $167. That sounds like a lot (and it is), but that feeds nine people for two weeks. Groceries bought at a store will normally run me $150 a week. To put things into perspective, my table is over 7 feet long (88 inches).

What I received today:

  • Ham Slices
  • Italian Sausage, ground
  • Beef Steak Strips
  • Imitation Crab
  • Shrimp, pre-cooked
  • Breaded Chicken Tenders
  • Lemon Herb Chicken Breasts
  • Pork Chops
  • Ground Beef Patties
  • Beef Roasts
  • Hot Dogs
  • Banquet Turkey & Gravy
  • Carrot Slices, frozen
  • Green Beans, frozen
  • French Fries
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Iceberg Lettuce
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Eggs
  • Shelf-Stable Milk
  • Corn Muffin Mix
  • Chicken Broth
  • Rice
  • Macaroni & Cheese
  • Sweet Potato Pies

Monday, November 10, 2008

Beef Stew Bread Bowl

Doesn't it look just yummy? I subscribe to various e-zines as well as regular magazines for cooking. This particular recipe came to me from Pillsbury.

The recipe (included below) calls for pre-packaged and convenience items. It helps to put this meal on the table in 30 minutes. Some items can be be made from scratch like the biscuits or used fresh (vegetables). It is all a matter of personal preference.

It is a good meal that can have all the ingredients at hand for one-of-those days. That is one thing we all have in common.

1 lb. lean boneless top sirloin steak, 3/4-inch thick
1 teaspoon oil
3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (5/8-oz.) pkg. brown gravy mix
1 1/3 cups water
1 (15-oz.) can whole potatoes, drained, quartered
1 (9-oz.) pkg. frozen baby cut carrots, thawed, drained
1 1/2 cups Green Giant® Valley Fresh Steamers™ frozen sweet peas, thawed, drained
1 cup canned whole onions, drained
1 (16.3-oz.) can Pillsbury® Grands!® Refrigerated Buttermilk Biscuits

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease eight (10-oz.) custard cups or large muffin cups.

2. Trim fat from steak. Cut steak lengthwise into 2 to 3 strips and then crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices.

3. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add beef; cook and stir until browned. Add garlic salt, pepper, gravy mix and water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add potatoes, carrots, peas and onions; mix well. Simmer 5 minutes. Set aside.

4. Separate dough into 8 biscuits. Press each biscuit to form 5 1/2-inch round. Place each biscuit round into greased custard cup; firmly press in bottom and up sides, forming 1/4-inch rim. Spoon about 3/4 cup beef mixture into each cup.

5. Bake at 350°F. for 14 minutes. Cover with foil. Bake an additional 8 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown and beef mixture is thoroughly heated.

Weekly Menu for November 10-15

Chicken & Vegetables
White Rice
Mandarin Oranges
Green Salad

Eggplant Parmesan
Creamy Noodles
Green Salad

Chicken Salad Sub Sandwiches
Apple Slices
Steamed Broccoli

Baked Tilapia
Seasoned Rice
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans

Pizza & Wings
Caesar Salad


Tuesday, November 4, 2008


It wasn't until I was putting away the items I used for cooking that I realized I made an oopsie with dinner last night. I made carrot coins as a side dish. They tasted just fine, and dinner was just yummy. Then I cleaned up my kitchen.

I put the large container I have of vanilla extract up wondering who could have gotten that out. Then the light went on. I looked in my cupboard and found the cider vinegar still there. uh-oh. See the recipe calls for cider vinegar, but without thinking I grabbed the vanilla and added that instead. I guess I was on auto-pilot.

It was still good, and no one knew about the goof until later. I guess I found a tweak I am going to make as the carrots were yummy & just sweet enough. Now I look like a genius instead of a wreck of a cook. I will take that.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Weekly Menu for November 3-8

Barbecue Beef Ribs
Baked Potatoes

Venison Chili
Fresh Vegetables & Dip
Green Salad
Homemade Bread
Chili-Cheese Tater Tots
Melon Slices
Pizza (Cheese, Sausage)
Caesar Salad


Thursday, October 30, 2008

October's LOK Kitchen Challenge Entry

The challenge was to feed a family of 4 for $10 for all day. A family of 6 or more was allotted $15 for the day's meals. This is my entry for the challenge. The total cost was $14.31. It made the following menu:

Breakfast: Blueberry Waffle Sandwiches, Banana, Milk
Lunch: Toasted Bread, Tomato Soup
Dinner: Goulash, Broccoli

Grocery List
Waffles, frozen 10 ct -- $1.15
Eggs, dozen --$1.29
Milk, 1 gallon -- $2.50
Bananas, 3 lb -- $1.50
French Bread, 1 loaf -- $1.50
Tomato Soup, 3 10-oz cans -- $1.37
Macaroni, 2 lb -- $1.69
Corn, 1 cans -- $. 45
Chili Beans, 2 cans -- $ .90
Spaghetti Sauce, 1 26-oz can -- $ .98
Broccoli, frozen 1 lb -- $ .98

For breakfast, I used frozen blueberry waffles. While toasting the waffles, I cooked the eggs to make breakfast sandwiches as posted in this blog post. The breakfast sandwiches were served with banana chunks and a glass of milk.

For lunch, I used some store-bought french bread. I buttered the slices and baked at 350 until the bread is toasted. I mixed up the tomato soup with milk with a ratio of 3 cans to 2 cups of milk.

Goulash Ingredients for Dinner

For dinner, I made goulash as it is a favorite among my kids. I cook the pasta according to package directions and drain. I then dump in a can of spaghetti sauce, can of corn (drained), 2 cans of chili beans into the pot with the cooked (& drained) macaroni. Mix it well and serve. I serve with a steamed vegetable like broccoli (cook in microwave when pasta is cooking).

Dinner is served

Note: I used green beans for our meal since I had some fresh from our garden, but for costs I priced a bag of broccoli.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Budget Saving Tips

Below are some tips that I found on a site I had enjoyed (the site is no longer available). I follow these tips and find them to be good advice.

  • Plan your meals (including desserts, if desired), make a list, and stick to it. Plan meals according to your grocery stores specials.
  • Plan on using leftovers (Mondays Pot Roast turns into Tuesdays Roast Beef Sandwiches).
    Incorporate at least one or two meatless meals a week into your menu.
  • Reduce the amount of meat in recipes and increase the amount of another less expensive filler such as rice, beans, or pasta.
  • Make your own cookies, cakes and breads instead of buying them premade (they're tastier this way, too).
  • Compare prices. You may be surprised to discover a sale item isn't always cheaper than another brand not on sale.
  • Browse through the discontinued and damaged items. They are still good, and a lot cheaper.
  • Stock up when you come across an unbelievable buy. Spending a few extra dollars one week will yield high rewards in the following weeks.
  • Never shop hungry. You'll find more wanders into your shopping cart than normal.
  • Use coupons. Better yet, couple them with an in-store special for an even bigger savings.

I use coupons rarely because I simply do not use name-brand items much. Even with coupons I find name-brands are not cheaper most of the time. When I do I wait for sales and/or use a coupon if at all possible.

Another tip I can offer is to take advantage of a store's meat department slicing meats free. For instance, beef stew meat costs $4 a pound or more on a normal basis. I cannot bring myself to pay that price. When beef roasts go on sale I pick up a few and have the butcher at the store cut them into stew meat for me. So instead of $4 a pound, I can buy it for $1.60 or less a pound. That is a huge savings. I make the meat department my first stop on those days so while my meat is being cut I can pick up other items on my list.

I do the same for ham steaks. Around Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as Easter hams go on sale. Again ham steaks are $4 a pound, but I have been able to buy a whole bone-in ham for $1 a pound. I have it sliced free into steaks. The end portion that is left is good for White Bean and Ham Soup. Pork Loin is the other meat I get slice free when it is on sale. The boneless loin chops are best on the grill especially with an Apple Barbecue Sauce. Mmmmm!

Friday, October 24, 2008

AngelFood Ministries Meal Plan for October

I bought just two regular units from AngelFood Ministries this month. There were more processed foods this month so I cut back. I did purchase a fresh fruit & veggie box as well. In addition to AFM, I picked up my SHARE Foods order (2 units).

October Package (contents of one unit):
1.5 lb. Top Sirloin Strip Steaks (4 x 6 oz.)
4.5 lb. Split Chicken Breast Family Tray Pack
26 oz. Heat and Serve Salisbury Steaks and Brown Gravy
1 lb. Chicken Breast Fajita Strips
1 lb. Boneless Center-Cut Pork Chops (4 x 4 oz.)
1 lb. Fully Cooked Meatballs
1 lb. All Meat Hot Dogs
1 lb. Frozen Sliced Carrots
1 lb. California Blend Vegetables
1 lb. Pasta (spaghetti)
28 oz. Marinara Sauce
48 oz. Hawaiian Punch
32 oz. Borden 2% Reduced Fat Shelf Stable Milk
12 ct. Corn Tortillas
One Dozen Eggs
One Dessert Item (box of oatmeal cookies for me)

October Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Special:
1 head New York State Green Cabbage
1 head California Iceberg Lettuce (Cello wrapped)
1 bunch California Broccoli
2 lb. Medium-Large Idaho/East Oregon Yellow Onions
5 lb. New Crop Yukon Gold Potatoes
3 lb. North Carolina New Crop Red Apples
2 lb. Bag of California Fancy Lemons
1 Super Sweet Gold Pineapple
1 lb. Bag of California Peeled Baby Carrots

So what meals can I make to get the most bang for my buck?

Meal #1: Broccoli Beef over Rice, Fresh Pineapple
Uses: beef steaks, broccoli, onion and pineapple

Meal #2: Chicken Fajita Pizza, Salad
Uses: chicken fajita strips, onion, lettuce, carrots

Meal #3: Barbeque Chicken, Coleslaw, Mashed Potatoes
Uses: chicken breasts, cabbage, poatoes

Meal #4: Salisbury Steaks with Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Mixed Vegetables
Uses: salisbury steaks & gravy, potatoes, California blend vegetables

Meal#5: Chili Dogs, Coleslaw, Steak Fries
Uses: hot dogs, cabbage, potatoes

Meal#6: Steak Chalupas, Spanish Rice, Fresh Fruit
Uses: corn tortillas, beef steaks, apples

Meal#7: Meatball Sub Casserole, Salad, Steamed Broccoli
Uses: Meatballs, Marinara Sauce, Lettuce, Carrots

Meal #8: Sausage Gravy over Toast, Peas, Fresh Fruit
Uses: shelf-stable milk, onion

Meal #9: Fried Rice, Egg Drop Soup
Uses: eggs, frozen carrots, onion

Meal #10: Apple Barbecue Pork, Cooked Carrots, Buttered Noodles
Uses: pork chops, frozen carrots, pasta

That is for one AFM unit plus most of the fruit and vegetable special unit. With my second unit I can also make the following meals:
Meal: Chicken Tetrazinni, Salad, Cooked Carrots

Meal: Beef & Chicken Fajitas, Spanish Rice, Refried Beans

Meal: Meatball Subs, Fresh Vegetables & Dip

Meal: Pizza, Salad

Meal: Breakfast for Dinner - Waffle Sandwiches, Fruit

**The Hawaiian Punch will be used to make homemade popicles or slushes. The cookies will be a snack served with milk.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Soda Bread

This bread is yummy. My family didn't save me any either when I made it last night. I had a get-together at a friend's house I had to leave for before dinner so it is a good thing I had some yummy treats there.

I use the generic diet lemon-lime soda to make mine, buying a 2 liter and using the leftovers to make a 7-up Pound Cake. The crunchy outside is the best part of the bread in my opinion. It is also a bread Eric can eat although he preferred the chili I paired it with for dinner last night.

Soda Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour
3-3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons white sugar
12-ounces lemon-lime soda

In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add soda and continue to mix, first using a wooden spoon then your hands. The batter wil be sticky. Pour into a greased 9x5-inch loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees 50 to 60 minutes. The top will be crunchy, and the insides soft.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Weekly Menu for October 20-25

Beef Stroganoff over Rice
Peas & Carrots


Barbeque Chicken Sandwiches
Baked Beans

Baked Tilapia
Steamed Vegetables
Seasoned Rice

Ham & Bean Soup

Roast Pork
Potatoes & Carrots

Friday, October 17, 2008

When there is not enough frosting ...

My kids have the same bad habit as I do. We eat the frosting out of the containers. The down side to this besides the killer headache after the sugar rush is there is not enough frosting when I really need some. I mean for a cake not my own sugar rush, but I prefer vanilla frosting.

When I find myself low on frosting with cake batter already made, I make bundt cakes. I melt what frosting I have left and glaze the cake after baking. It looks pretty, is easier to spread and my kids love licking the "pools" of frosting. I have to fight for my fair share of them.

I like bundt cakes too as the cake last longer. Instead of 20 minutes, it takes 30 minutes for my plague of locusts to consume it. I can also slice smaller pieces for diet-friendly portions or to just make up for all the frosting I ate.

The other side is by glazing the cake, frosting lasts longer for those midnight snitches I ... er ... my kids take. It saves me money so I can get some medicine for those killer sugar rush headaches. You'd think I would learn.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chunky Chicken Soup

I tried a new dish on my family last night. It was a hit and definite keeper. Usually when I make a recipe for the first time I follow the recipe closely. I did veer from that a bit as I know my family fairly well. I knew that a whole can of chiles would be too much so I cut the amount in half. Also I had no vegetable broth in my pantry so used fat-free chicken broth. I made some pumpkin-zucchini muffins to accompany the soup and had some leftover shredded zucchini and added that to the soup. Other than that and using Parmesan cheese instead of mozzarella for topping, I followed the recipe as it was written in my magazine, Simple & Delicious. I found it easy to assemble with basic ingredients. It would be a good recipe to use up leftover chicken, vegetables or even white beans.

Recipe and picture taken from December 2008 Simple & Delicious

METHOD: Stovetop - One-Dish
TIME: Prep: 20 min. Cook: 20 min.

3/4 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup chopped onion
1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) vegetable broth
2 cans (15-1/2 ounces each) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1-1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 cup frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies
3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Directions: In a Dutch oven, saute the chicken, onion and garlic in oil until chicken juices run clear. Stir in flour until blended; gradually add broth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes.

Reduce heat; stir in the beans, vegetables and seasonings. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Garnish with cheese. Yield: 7 cups.

Nutrition Facts
One serving: 1-1/3 cups with 1-1/2 tablespoons cheese
Calories: 332
Fat: 6 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 44 mg
Sodium: 1387 mg
Carbohydrate: 41 g
Fiber: 12 g
Protein: 28 g

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lazy Day Lasagna

I found this lasagna recipe and loved it. Let me count the reasons I love it ...

1. Easy
2. Quick
3. Yummy
4. Easy
5. Freezable
6. Common Ingredients
7. Easy
8. Adaptable
9. Low Cost
10. EASY!

I found this recipe in one of my freezer manuals I enjoy using. I like to put meals in the freezer because it saves time, something I find in short supply. For one-of-those-days it saves my sanity, also something I find in short supply. I also like to be able to help friends. It is so easy to go to my freezer and find a meal to take to a friend who had a baby, surgery, loss or just an overall stressed day. I find adding a bit of love to the ingredient list makes the meal taste that much better.

This recipe makes a 9"x13" pan or 2-8"x8" pans. It serves 12. I always double the recipe and make one for dinner and one for the freezer. Once when I was having dinner company, I doubled the recipe but made a ooey-gooey monster lasagna. It was the best! The recipe is good as is, but I like adding more sauce and cheese to mine. I can also make it healthier (to make up for the extra cheese) by using fat free cottage cheese, whole wheat lasagna noodles and extra lean ground beef.

Lazy Day Lasagna

12 ounces cottage cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 eggs
1/3 cup chopped parsley (reduce amount if using dried)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
32 ounces spaghetti sauce
3/4 cup ground beef, cooked
9 lasagna noodles, uncooked
3/4 cup water (for firmer pasta decrease to 1/2 cup)

In a large bowl, mix cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, eggs, parsley, onion powder, basil and pepper until well blended. Set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together and cooked ground beef. In a 9x13-inch glass baking dish, spread 3/4 cup meat sauce on the bottom. Layer 3 uncooked noodles on top of the meat sauce. next spread 1/2 of the cheese mixture and 1-1/2 cups meat sauce. Layer 3 more uncooked noodles on top of meat sauce. Spread with remaining cheese mixture. Top with remaining 3 noodles and remaining meat sauce. Pour water around the outside edges.

To freeze, place dish in a 2-gallon freezer bag. If you want to wrap it in foil, cover the top of the lasagna with wax paper or plastic wrap and then foil. The acid in the tomato sauce will leave small holes in the foil. Label, seal and freeze.

To serve, bake thawed lasagna covered at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. uncover and bake additional 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. If cooking from a frozen state, add 30 minutes to the total baking time.

**More notes and changes from me ...

I add plain sauce to the bottom of the pan since I like the meat sauce to be in my lasagna. I also add shredded mozzarella to the top of the lasagna. I told you I like more cheese. I cook more meat and have more sauce on hand than the recipe states. I usually cook mine either from the frozen state or right after assembly. I rarely am thinking clearly enough or soon enough to have the lasagna pulled from the freezer in time for a complete thawing.

The recipe goes together very easily. The hardest part is waiting as you smell it baking.

Weekly Menu for October 13-18

Macaroni & Cheese
Apple Slices

Grilled Chicken Alfredo
Steamed Broccoli
Garden Salad

Ceasar Salad

Barbeque Beef Ribs
Roasted Garlic Potatoes
Baked Beans

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Ham Slices
Cantaloupe Wedges


Ham and Cheese Roll
Green Salad
Peas & Carrots

Friday, October 10, 2008

Eggplant Parmesan

I first tried my hand at Eggplant Parmesan last year when I had received some in a SHARE foods unit. I had never had eggplant before or at least that I can remember. I looked on-line for some ideas about how to prepare eggplant.

The first thing I found was that before cooking eggplant, it needs to be cut. I slice mine since I make the parmesan with breaded eggplant slices. The next step is to sprinkle salt evenly over the cut eggplant. Let it set for about 30 minutes. This brings out the extra moisture in the eggplant. I cut and salted mine before picking up three children for orthodontist appointments. That way I could start cooking when I got home. It didn't work out that way, but that is a different story. Oh yeah, two medium-large eggplants is enough for my family.

Once the eggplant has set, I pat it dry. Then it is dipped in whisked egg mixture followed by bread crumbs. I then cook the breaded slices in hot olive oil (couple of minutes each side). It can be baked by spraying the breaded eggplant slices with cooking spray and then baked for 3-5 minutes each side. After frying I drain off the excess oil from the cooked eggplant slices.

Now comes getting it ready for baking. My hubby doesn't like meatless meals. He thinks I am depriving him if I try to pull one off. He said this meal is filling, and he would never have guessed there was not meat. That is like scoring an 11 on a 1 to 10 scale around here. Back to getting the dish oven-ready, in a lasanga dish or other deep dish place some spghetti sauce enough to coat the bottom. Then I placed the cooked eggplant on the sauce. The next layer is sliced tomatoes and mushrooms (both fresh). I follow that with a sprinkling of shredded parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese. I spread on some more sauce and repeat the layers. This last time I had some extra cooked eggplant so finished off by placing those on top of the last layer and more sauce & cheese. Gooey cheese is always the best.

I then bake the Eggplant Parmesan at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. I served it with salad, steamed veggie (i.e. green beans or broccoli) and some garlic bread. It is yummy, filling and healthy too. Eric wasn't allowed to have the breaded portion of the eggplant or cheese due to allergies. He did love the tomatoes from it, but threw the mushrooms. Eh, can't win them all.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Weekly Menu for October 6-12

Eggplant Parmesan
Green Salad

Chicken Burritos
Fresh Fruit

Fried Rice
Chinese Salad
Egg Drop Soup

(Sausage/Pepperoni, Cheese, Supreme)
Caesar Salad
Dessert Pizza

Shredded Pork Sandwiches
Baked Beans
French Fries

Potato-Sausage Soup
Homemade Rolls


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Allergy-Friendly Birthday Dinner & Cake

My youngest is allergic to dairy, eggs, grapes, rice and we think we can add red dye now too (had a reaction this weekend). It makes for some extra planning when it comes to cooking. Eric loves food thankfully so doesn't seemed phased unless told he can't have it.

Yesterday Eric turned one so a cake was in order. Eric recently discovered Oreos (and can actually have them). So starts his love affair with chocolate. The trick was to find a cake recipe that he could eat. I found one (gotta love Google). It is on and called (surprise) Egg-free Milk-free Chocolate Cake. What the name lacks, the cake makes up for in taste. I am not a big sweets fan so the amount of sweet was just right for me. Hubby has a major sweet tooth so it wasn't sweet enough for him. There were no leftovers so that is the better judge. I didn't have it frosted (ran out of powdered sugar earlier making pancakes ... oops) so that would add to the sweetness.

Eric is a fan of peas, chicken and noodles. What else could I serve but Chicken and Noodles? I used this recipe using chicken instead of turkey. I had cooked up some chicken earlier so had it on hand. I had some egg-free noodles as well as peas & carrots. Oh, yeah I add more black pepper than called for as well as garlic powder. It is a quick and filling meal. Eric loved it. It does call for milk. Pre-Eric days I would make it using evaporated milk for a creamier taste. Yesterday I used plain soy milk and crossed my fingers. It turned out so yummy. Eric loved it as did the rest of the family especially hubby. I served it with a simple salad of Romaine with grated carrot and radishes.

So begins my journey into the world of cooking allergy-free for Eric. It was worth though seeing him enjoy the dinner and cake so much. It is good to have a success for the trial run. I'd hate to start discouraged.

Friday, September 26, 2008

AngelFood Ministries Meal Plan

I bought 3 units from AngelFood Ministries this month. What am I getting tomorrow at pick-up?

September Package (contents of one unit):
1.5 lb. Top Sirloin Strip Steaks (4 x 6 oz.)
2 lb. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
3 lb. Breaded Chicken Chunks
1.5 lb. Boneless Pork Filet
20 oz. Supreme Pizza
1 lb. Ground Turkey
1 lb. Cheddar Cheese Bratwurst Sausage
1 lb. Green Beans
1 lb. Stir Fry Vegetables (Broccoli & Bell Peppers)
35 oz. Crinkle-cut Fries
32 oz. Borden 2% Reduced Fat Shelf Stable Milk
7.5 oz. Macaroni & Cheese
15 oz. Pork & Beans
7 oz. Chicken-Flavored Rice & Vermicelli
1 lb. Pinto Beans
One Dozen Eggs
One Dessert Item

Next question is what can I make to get the most bang for my buck?

Meal #1: Beef Steak Stir-Fry over Rice, Fresh Fruit
This uses some of the steaks and stir-fry vegetables. If a fruit and veggie package was ordered, slices of pears and oranges would go well. Also peel and slice a carrot or two from the package for the stir-fry.

Meal #2: Beef Fajitas, Spanish Rice, Refried Beans
This uses some of the steak and some of the pintos beans. Onions from the fruit and veggie package (F/VP)will be used in the fajitas. Note: This also uses green peppers (not in package) which are needed in Meal #12.

Meal #3: Chicken Nuggets, Coleslaw, Mashed Potatoes
This uses some of the chicken chunks. Cabbage and carrots from the F/VP will be used for the coleslaw. Half of the potatoes will be used for the mashed potatoes.

Meal #4: Shepherd's Pie, Fruit Salad
This uses some ground turkey and green beans. The leftover mashed potatoes from Meal #3 are also used. Apples, pears and oranges from the F/VP can all be used in the fruit salad.

Meal#5: Sliced BBQ Pork/Sausage, Coleslaw, Green Beans
This uses the pork filet, cheddar bratwurst sausage and green beans. It also uses leftover coleslaw from Meal #3. If there is none, make some more from the cabbage and carrots in the F/VP.

Meal#6: Shredded Pork Sandwiches, Baked Beans, French Fries
This uses leftover pork from Meal #5. It also uses the Pork-n-Beans and some French fries.

Meal#7: Potato Sausage Soup, Salad, Homemade Bread
This uses up leftover sausage from Meal#5. It uses the shelf-stable milk. It will also use the rest of the potatoes and some tomatoes from the F/VP.

Meal #8: Parmesan Chicken Casserole, Salad, Garlic Toast
This uses the chicken chunks. It also will use up any leftover salad from Meal#7. Leftover bread from Meal #7 is used to make the garlic toast.

Meal #9: Chili Cheese Fries, Coleslaw, Fresh Fruit
This uses some of the French fries and some pinto beans. It also uses the cabbage, carrots and fruit from the F/VP.

Meal #10: Breakfast for Dinner (French Toast, Ham or Bacon, Orange Slices)
This uses eggs and shelf-stable milk. It also uses oranges from the F/VP.

Meal#11: Pizza, Salad, Breadsticks
This uses the pizza. It also uses some tomatoes from the F/VP.

Meal #12: Sweet & Sour Chicken over Rice, Steamed Green Beans
This uses some chicken breasts and some green beans. It also uses carrots from the F/VP.
Note: It also uses green peppers (not in package) which are needed in Meal #2.

Meal #13: Chicken Fried Rice, Grapes/Orange Slices, Egg Drop Soup
This uses some eggs, some chicken breasts, leftover green beans. It can also use onions, carrots and celery from the F/VP.

Meal #14: Chicken Salad Pitas, Apple Slices, Macaroni & Cheese
This uses some chicken breast and macaroni & cheese. It also use apples, carrots (I add shredded) and celery from the F/VP.

**These meal ideas are subject to being re-arranged as suits my fancy.**

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Food for Thought

In my other blog, I wrote my thoughts on an article I read pertaining to food budgets. It really is amazing the attitudes and even priorities you encounter.

Like right now my priority is a nap, but Eric is of the attitude that he is full of energy and not needing a nap himself.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Weekly Menu for September 22-28

Roasted Chicken
Seasoned Rice
Mixed Vegetables

Bean and Ham Soup
Green Salad
Homemade Rolls

Chicken-Rice Casserole
Green Salad
Melon Slices

Caesar Salad
Green Beans

Homemade Pizza
(Sausage, Cheese, Pepperoni)
Ceasar Salad
Dessert Pizza

Grilled Pork Chops
Mashed Potatoes
Carrots, Peas


Monday, July 28, 2008

Fun At-home Ideas (featuring food, of course)

It costs money to raise a family. Having fun doesn't have to though what with a little creativity which can be helped with lack of sleep. I seem to get my best ideas when I am tired. The thought process would leave you scratching your head, but the end result is good.

I like to come with ideas to make dinner time a bit more fun not that it isn't interesting enough with 9 people around the table. It is about laughter and creating memories. One of those is our Sunday Sundaes. The kids love that new tradition. They will let me forget to have them do chores, but not the sundaes. Since we eat a late lunch on Sunday, we just have sundaes for dinner. How good is that?

Did you know that August is Brownies at Brunch Month? It is also Catfish Month and Peach Month. The second week in August is Apple Week. National Mustard Day is the first Saturday in August.

My point is you can take some of these fun days and run with it. August 2 is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day. Why not have a dessert first meal and serve up some ice cream sandwiches? On August 6th you can enjoy some root beer floats with your cook-out for National Root Beer Float Day. My 11 year old Kalynne is looking forward to August 19th as it is Potato Day. Potatoes are her favorite food. She is calling for a potato bar featuring all types of potato dishes (i.e. potato soup, chili-cheese fries, tater tot casserole). By the looks of it with National Soft Ice Cream Day, Peach Pie Day, Lemon Meringue Day, Cherry Turnover Day, Banana Split Day and S'mores Day, it isn't a diet friendly month.

August 1: National Raspberry Cream Pie Day
August 2: National Ice Cream Sandwich Day
August 3: National Watermelon Day
August 4: National Lasanga Day
August 5: National Waffle Day, National Oyster Day
August 6: National Root Beer Float Day
August 7: National Raspberries in Cream Day
August 8: National Zucchini Day, National Frozen Custard Day
August 9: National Rice Pudding Day
August 10: National S'mores Day
August 11: National Raspberry Tart Day
August 12: Julienne Fries Day
August 13: National Filet Mignon Day
August 14: National Creamsicle Day
August 15: Lemon Merignue Pie Day
August 16: Bratwurst Day
August 17: National Vanilla Custard Day
August 18: National Soft Ice Cream Day
August 19: Potato Day, Hot & Spicy Food Day
August 20: Lemonade Day, National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day
August 21: National Pecan Torte Day
August 22: National Spumoni Day, Eat a Peach Day
August 23: National Sponge Cake Day
August 24: National Peach Pie Day
August 25: National Banana Split Day
August 26: National Cherry Popsicle Day
August 27: National Pots de Creme Day, Banana Lovers Day
August 28: National Cherry Turnover Day
August 29: More herbs, Less Salt Day; Chop Suey Day; Lemon Juice Day
August 30: National Toasted Marshmallow Day
August 31: Eat Outside Day, National Trail Mix Day

Weekly Menu for July 28 - August 2

BBQ Pork
Potato Salad
Baked Beans

Grilled Pork Chops
Baked Potatoes
Yellow Squash

Meatball Subs
Fresh Veggies with Ranch
Fruited Gelatin Salad

Barbecued Rabbit
Seasoned Rice
Green Salad

Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Fresh Fruit

Homemade Pizza (Cheese, Sausage)


Breakfast Options are pancakes, waffles, muffins, granola, toast all served with milk and fruit.
Lunch consists of either sandwiches or leftovers.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Money Saving Tips

There are some things despite the higher cost that I still need to purchase. I am big on produce as it still costs less per pound than the lean meat I use. I have a baby with a sensitivity to milk products which also adds costs to my food budget. What I do is find ways to cut costs in other areas.

A couple of tips that I used just this morning are with muffin mixes. Yeah, I could cut the cost further and make muffins from scratch. I do actually. The mix was from my AngelFood Ministries unit.

Tip #1: Add flour to the mix. I find I can use 1/4 cup per mix. It stretches the mix a bit. If you have seen my locusts eat (or fight over the last muffin for that matter), you realize that every little bit helps.

Tip #2: Bake the batter in a baking pan not muffin tins. It saves on muffin liners if you use those. It also allows for smaller portions without fits about "I don't want a broken one. I want a big one like so-and-so."

Another way I use muffin mixes is to make flavored waffles. It won't work in pancakes as the fruit pieces are still hard. Waffles work because they are thinner and cooked differently so the fruit cunks melt like in the muffins. I add the mix to 2 cups of pancake mix. I then add whatever the muffin calls for such as milk, eggs, etc. along with what is needed to mix up the pancake mix. So 50 cents for a muffin mix makes enough flavored waffles for an entire meal. That is not bad, and even breakfast makes a good dinner some nights as it is cheap and filling.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

July 21-26 Weekly Menu with Angelfood Ministries

July's Unit Contained:
  • Dozen Eggs
  • Bluberry Muffin Mix
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Spaghetti Pasta
  • Popcorn Chicken
  • Meatballs
  • Pork Roast
  • Beef Ribs
  • Meatloaf
  • Crock-Pot Pork Meal
  • Peas & Carrots (frozen)
  • Chopped Broccoli (frozen)
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Shelf-Stable Milk (not powder)
  • Lean Cuisine Cheese Pizza
  • Hawaiian Punch (46 oz)
  • Cinnamon Teddy Grahams

July 21-26 Menu

Mexican Corn
Watermelon Chunks

Sweet & Sour Ribs with Rice
Egg Drop Soup

Crock-Pot Pork Meal
Steamed Green Beans

Mashed Potatoes
Peas & Carrots

Pork Tetrazinni
Green Beans

Meatball Subs
Fresh Vegetable & Fruits

The Lean Cuisine will go with hubby to work for his lunches. The Hawaiian Punch will be used to make popsicles or slushes. The Teddy Grahams will be snacks. The Blueberry Muffin Mix will be used to make blueberry waffles. The Popcorn Chicken can be used for another meal, lunch or dinner.

I ordered enough units to not only make this menu but a second one as well. Other meals options inlcude: Shredded Pork Sandwiches, BBQ Ribs, Spaghetti & Meatballs, Muffins with Scrambled Eggs, Egg Salad Sandwiches, Pork Chimichangas with Baked Tortilla Chips, Fried Rice, Lo Mein, Meatloaf Sandwiches, Enchilada Casserole, Chicken Parmesan Casserole and Broccoli Quiche.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Green Beans

One easy way to save on the food budget is to grow your own vegetables, fruits and/or herbs. I am fortunate that I have room for all three. A lot of room is not needed to grow your own. I grow the herbs in conatiners on my back porch along with a bush tomato in a pot. They will move inside for the winter. I have seen a "Salad Garden" grown on a small balcony of an apartment. There were a couple of tomato plant, cucumber vine and small box of lettuce plants.

From just this small patch of green beans I picked over FIVE POUNDS of beautiful green beans. That was just the first harvest too.

I like my beans frozen (hubby prefers home bottled). I wash the beans and trim the ends. Then I place a layer of them on cookie sheets to place in the freezer to flash freeze them. I find I can pull them out of the bag easier that way since they don't all freeze together. Hubby and Oren cleaned and trimmed the first batch for me. I took care of the flash-freezing and packing (got 5 one-quart bags).

I like to sautee the bean in butter and garlic or just steam them. From this batch I took enough to make a side dish for our dinner of roast with potatoes and carrots. I sauteed some sliced red onion in olive oil. I then added the green beans, garlic powder, pepper and basil. I also added some apple juice so to give a sweet taste and steam the beans (done best with a lid on the pan). I then added some sliced tomatoes (also from our garden) and cooked for a minute or so longer.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fresh Berries & Granola

These yummy berries taste really good on this granola recipe.
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup honey
5 cups oats
1/2 cups raisins
1/2 cup dry milk
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

Mix brown sugar, oil and honey in a medium saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Combine dry ingredients except rasisins in large greased cake pan. Pour sugar mixture over dry ingredients; mix well. Bake a 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Let cool in pan. Add raisins. Store in an air-tight container.
I have also added wheat flakes, chopped dried apple, sliced almonds among other things depending what I have on hand and is in my budget.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Weekly Menu for June 30 - July 6

Teriyaki Riblets (crock-pot)
Mashed Potatoes
Steamed Broccoli
Watermelon Chunks

Bacon Wrapped Steaks
Buttered Potatoes
Cantaloupe Slices

Ham & Bean Soup
Fruit Salad

Restaurant Night (aka place all leftovers on the counter and have a buffet to clean out the refrigerator)

BBQ Chicken Legs
Baked Beans
Watermelon Chunks

Loaded Bean & Beef Burritos (more ways than one ;) )
Grapes & Apples

Spaghetti with Italian Sausage Chunks
Garlic Toast

Disclaimer: I do not have to stick to the order outlined due to circumstances beyond my control which include but is not limited to boredom, not liking to stick to lists (just making them), children eating the ingredients for that night's meal for snack, appliances breaking down and overall craziness, hectic lives and schedules.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Jiffy Jambalya

I found the recipe for this in my new issue of Simple & Delicious by Taste of Home. The recipe was both simple and delicious. It came together so easily which is no small feat with 7 children underfoot. My hubby loved it as did my 7 yo who had two big helpings. It wasn't hard on the pocketbook either. With more time it could even be made completely from scratch, but the red beans & rice mix was only $2 so not bad.

I chose this recipe because I had made Cabbage Sausage Supper a couple of days earlier. I had some smoked sausage leftover so decided to try out this recipe. I did have to buy shrimp and the red beans & rice mix. I also don't like too spicy of food so wasn't planning on using any hot sauce. I did have Creole Seasoning so added a dash or two of that to season it instead. I bought a 6-serving box of the Red Beans & Rice to use as with the extra add-ins, it would be just right. It sure was!

Prep/Total Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Method: Stovetop
Serves: 4

1 package (8 ounces) red beans and rice mix
1/2 pound smoked sausage, sliced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound cooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon Louisiana-style hot sauce, optional

Directions: Cook red beans and rice mix according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute sausage and onion in oil until onion is tender. Add the shrimp, tomatoes, brown sugar and hot sauce if desired. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until heated through. Stir in rice mixture. Yield: 4 servings.

Both recipe and picture were taken from Simple & Delicious magazine

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

June 2008 Cooking Challenge

Dollar Store Challenge: Meal for 4 for $15 or less

Cooking with Anne and Lots of Kids have teamed up to bring you a brand new family-friendly monthly cooking challenge! Check it out all the rules HERE and join in the fun!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Weekly Menu for May 19-25

Spanish Rice
Fiesta Salad

Baked Mostaccioli
Ceasar Salad
Garlic Bread

Homemade McChickens
Carrot-Radish Salad
Watermelon Wedges

Chicken Zuchinni Casserole
Steamed Broccoli
Green Salad

Pizza Night - pepperoni, cheese, sausage

Potato Pancakes
Cheddar Sausage Links

Sundaes for Sunday (new and much enjoyed family event)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Kid-Cuisine Vocabulary

This was sent home with my pre-schooler. It gave me a chuckle since I can totally relate to it having children who speak this language.

The article was credited to Vicki Lansky.

Casserole - Favorite foods that go uneaten because they are mixed together.

Cookie (Last One) - An item to be eaten very slowly, in front of a sibling.

Crust - The part of a sandwich saved for the starving chldren of China.

Fat - Microscopic substance detected visually by children on pieces of meat they do not wish to eat.

Fruit - A natural sweet not to be confused with dessert.

Jelly Bean - The only vegetable all kids will eat.

Lollipop - Snack provided by people who don't have to pay your dental bills.

Natural Foods - Food eaten with unwashed hands.

Water - Unpopular beverage consumed in underdeveloped countries.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Funnel Cakes

We all love funnel cakes in this house. It has to be my favorite fair food next to cotton candy. I just don't buy it at the fairs anymore since getting food poisoning from eating one at a craft show once. I make my own or try to as my 13 yo loves to make them too.

He likes to get creative. We are easily amused and entertained in this household. I want you can to be easily amused too so I included the recipe below. I got the recipe from the site (called Funnel Cakes IV). The recipe says it makes 12-20 cakes. Uh, well, I never get that many because we like to make ours HUGE with lots of powdered sugar topping.

3 eggs
2 cups milk
1/4 cup white sugar
3-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder

1. In a medium bowl, mix salt, baking powder, and half of the flour. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream eggs, sugar and milk. Add flour mixture and beat until smooth. Continue to add remaining flour, but use only enough to achieve desired consistency. Batter will be thin enough to run through a funnel.
3. In an eight inch skillet, heat the oil to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
4. Put your finger over the bottom opening of the funnel, and fill the funnel with a generous 1/2 cup of the batter. Hold the funnel close to the surface of the oil, and release the batter into the oil while making a circular motion. Fry until golden brown. Use tongs and wide spatula to turn the cake over carefully. Fry the second side one minute. Drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with sifted confectioners' sugar or cinnamon sugar.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Breakfast Sandwiches

We don't eat a lot of cold cereal. Let me correct that. We do, but not as breakfast too much. I keep some candy-types jars with scoops on my counter that I try to keep filled with cereal (cheerios, sugary one & granola). I encourage a bowl as a snack more than 3 or 4 as a meal. Then there are those mornings which cereal is what's to eat.

A quick and easy breakfast I make are breakfast sandwiches. If you have a minute to spare and a microwave, you can make these. The varities are numerous too! You can create a flavor and taste of your own.

In the above picture I used Pillsbury Frozen Waffles. They came in my AngelFood Ministries box last month. I do like the slight maple flavor but have used homemade waffles and English Muffins too. I like the sandwiches open-face as the bread portion goes further.

You will need a small microwaveable plastic container for starters. I use a square one for the waffles and a round one for the English Muffins. Spray the inside of the container with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. In another small bowl beat together one egg and about a teaspoon of milk. Pour into sprayed plastic container. Cook the egg mixture in the microwave for 50 seconds. Remove and dump out egg on to your heated waffle (I have them toasting in the toaster as I am cooking the egg). That's it!

Now other toppings I have used separate or together are sausage patties, bacon strips, slice ham, Canadian bacon, cheese (varity of flavors), tomato slices (good with Swiss cheese and ham), and salsa. Others I can think of are chili, hashbrown patty, vegetables. The possiblities can be endless as your creativity allows.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Leftover Chicken + Fresh Spinach = A New Dish

My 13 yo son said once that there was a reason why leftovers were leftovers. I think it was after I announced that was what was for dinner. He's not too big of a fan of leftovers if you didn't guess.

This morning while I was thinking of what to serve for dinner (haven't been too good at menus lately ... oops!), I decided on a leftover makeover. In the refrigerator were some seasoned chicken patties leftover from when I made homemade McChickens. I happened to have some linguine and fresh spinach too. All that equates to Chicken-Spinach Linguine. I ain't too good with coming up with cool recipe names.

I put water on to boil to cook the pasta. Next was cleaning and cooking the spinach. The rabbits got any wilted or bad leaves. They love me now. After the spinach was done and set aside. I sauteed some red onion and garlic in olive oil and butter. I added chicken boullion and water. Next comes the cream, milk, and parmesan cheese. Once that was done I added the spinach (I chopped it after cooking) and chicken, sliced thinly. I seasoned it with white pepper. The sauce was served over the liguine with a salad for a side.

I was able to use up leftover chicken and try my hand not only at a new recipe but add my own mark to it. Now here's hoping it tastes as good as it looks and smells!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

$40 Weekly Grocery Budget ... Living It!

I went grocery shopping on Monday so I could try out the $40 budget first-hand. In just a week's time I noticed the jump in price for a couple of things. I edited and adjusted the shopping costs to keep it current. Since I was still coming in lower than the $40 for 4 goal, I added a couple of items to expand my choices. I added baking cocoa for $1.94, raisins for $2.63 and turkey sausage for $1.56. That put me just under $75 for the week. In hindsight, I would add another gallon of fresh milk and 8 ounces of cheddar (for sprinkling on some of the meals). That still would be in my goal range. Also, I would stick to sandwiches for lunches for my kids if they are in school. I would eat leftovers (kids would too).

Day 1: I made the bread the night before (thank goodness for bread machines). I made the pancakes, and had more than enough for breakfast. There was enough for snack too for the kids after school. Except they didn't eat them because I wasn't home, and they didn't read the note I left. I had to take a child to the doctor for an unplanned visit. That also put a kink in the works of cooking the burritos for dinner. I swapped the meals and made goulash instead for tonight. Hubby was happy as he isn't a pasta fan and had a business dinner. The kids were thrilled as they love the meal. I served grapes with it instead of a salad.

There was enough goulash leftover for lunches. BUT I was up most of the night with a baby who was congested and having trouble breathing so I let them buy pizza at school for lunch (hanging my head but not too long or I might fall asleep) if they wanted. Two wanted goulash instead. I didn't dare ask hubby. If I had been more on the ball, I would have made bread for sandwiches instead for a second option.

The first day was very do-able. I did add a can of chili beans to the goulash (I am at $79.63 if I bought/buy extra milk and the cheese). It was a quick meal which was wonderful since I was/am a bit sleep-deprived.

Day 2: We had leftover pancakes for breakfast instead of the oatmeal. I hate oatmeal so wasn't upset to switch it. I would have had some peanut butter toast with the couple of slices of bread that were left from yesterday.

Lunch is leftovers. I did finish cooking the beans last night so will have the burrito meal tonight. I am not planning on any unplanned doctor visits ... knock on wood.

Day 3: We had the burritos. They were yummy! Homemade tortillas are so much better. I had more filling than tortillas because everyone kept eating the tortillas plain. I made 2 loaves of bread for this morning having programmed my bread machines last night. I also overslept. *sigh* At least the bread was made. Having sick kiddos and not a lot of sleep makes it harder to cook from scratch because of the time factor not to mention fatigue. It would be easier if I weren't so tired. I still think it is real do-able though. I am learning as I go.

I had leftovers for lunch, and got all the kids to take a lunch to school. I made the chicken gravy over potatoes for dinner with a salad and green beans. It turned out good. It is a low cost meal and light on meat. My family can easily consume 12 chicken thighs in a meal. With the chicken gravy, I was able to use only 4. That cost savings can add up. Hubby liked the meal too which is always a bonus.

Maybe it is a good thing I did this frugal budget this as I just balanced my checkbook. Yikes!

Day 4: It was one of those mornings where the saying "Light's on, but no one is home." I made rice cereal for breakfast using 3:1 milk to water ratio to cook it instead of water according to package directions. I added a bit more milk after cooking to mix in the ingredients from the recipe.

I also decided to use up some bananas so made some muffins. I accidentally put in twice as much salt so had to double the recipe. We had plenty of muffins for snack and breakfast the next morning plus some.

I made up some soup for dinner and had it with French bread. It turned out yummy although my kids would have wanted our usual pizza for Friday if given the choice. There was extra soup, but the bread was gobbled up. So far the food stuff is holding out which was my biggest concern.

Day 5: As mentioned above, we had muffins for breakfast. Lunch was just leftovers. Dinner we are actually going out because of a last minute appointment of hubby's. We are all going, and he is buying dinner. I couldn't let that arrangement go.

I plan on pancakes for tomorrow's breakfast. Shepherd's pie will be dinner as it is quicker to put together or at least requires less effort from me. Hubby grew up with a Sunday tradition of a nicer late afternoon meal with popcorn and apple slices for dinner while the extended family gathered to chat. I am all for new traditions especially since it means less cooking. We will do popcorn and apple juice for night snack. PB & J for those hungry beyond that.

Day 6 & 7: I made it. The budget is very do-able for my family. We didn't run out of food which was my concern. Some of the spices are enough to last a while too so go beyond a week.

What would I do differently? Perhaps not do it in a week when I have a sick baby, but that isn't exactly predictable, and a shortage of money doesn't exactly wait for the best time. Realistically I would add fresh apples. That would open up fried apples, Waldorf salad, baked apples and other dishes to the menu. I would add soft margarine in addition to the quarters. I would add basil as a spice ( I like to use it in soups and other cooking). For my hubby I would add more rice dishes or have it as a side more. He felt we had lots of potatoes.

I think that the budget would be easier if extended over a couple of weeks. For example, a three pound bag of rice is cheaper than a pound bag. Two pounds of macaroni was cheaper than one pound. I would take that into account better too.

Spending $80 for a family of 9 (one being an infant but two being teenagers so it balances) for a week is feasible at least in my neck of the woods where food is cheaper. It is extremely feasible with a pantry already kept stocked with basics. I think when doing it in a two week time period the average weekly cost can be cheaper. I'm just not going to test that theory any time soon.

Friday, February 29, 2008

$40 Weekly Grocery Budget ... Part 4

Here is the menu again ...

Monday - Pancakes, Banana, Milk
Tuesday - Oatmeal, Milk and Juice
Wednesday - Banana-Oat Muffins, Milk
Thursday - Waffles, Orange Slices, Milk
Friday - Rice Cereal, Milk and Juice
Saturday - French Toast, Orange Slices, Milk
Sunday - Oatmeal, Milk and Juice

Monday - Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, Carrot Sticks, Milk
Tuesday - Ramen Noodles with Egg, Grapes, Milk
Wednesday - Chicken Salad Sandwiches with Lettuce, Carrot Sticks, Milk

Thursday - Pigs in a Blanket, Grapes, Milk
Friday - Egg Salad Sandwiches with Lettuce, Carrot Sticks, Milk
Saturday - Macaroni & Cheese with Tuna, Grapes, Milk
Sunday - Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, Carrot Sticks, Milk

Snacks: Popcorn, Celery with Peanut Butter, Carrot Sticks, Muffins, Fruit, Cinnamon Toast, Biscuits and Jelly

Monday - Bean & Beef Burritos, Orange Slices
Tuesday - Chicken Gravy over Potatoes, Green Beans, Cooked Carrots
Wednesday - Shepherd's Pie, Coleslaw
Thursday - Biscuits & Gravy, Fruit Salad
Friday - Hamburger Soup, Garlic Bread
Saturday - Scrambled Eggs, Potato Pancakes, Applesauce
Sunday - Goulash, Salad, Garlic Bread

To save money any milk used for purposes other than drinking, re-constituted instant milk is used. Buttermilk is substituted using 1 tablespoon vinegar plus enough milk to equal 1 cup. When margarine is called for in a recipe, I use oil instead. For sandwiches, I make them open-face making the bread stretch further. Any leftovers from meals unless specified can be used for lunch or snacks.

Below are preparation instructions and recipes.

Monday: Make a quadruple batch of homemade pancake mix using half for this morning's breakfast. The other half will be for the waffles later in the week. While cooking pancakes, start bread dough to be baked and used for lunch today. When in a crunch, I like to make French Bread as it uses just basic ingredients. I use the bread machine (recipe in manual) to make mine. I do have a larger batch recipe (below).

Put the kidney beans on for a quick soak according to package directions. Plan cooking time according to the time you will have dinner allowing some leeway. Half of the beans will be used for tonight's supper. The other half will be saved for the Hamburger Soup on Friday (beans freeze well).

About an hour and a half before supper time make the dough needed for the tortillas. When you cook the tortillas, also start browning one pound ground turkey (used in place of ground beef). When adding the taco seasoning packet contents, add a can of tomatoes undrained and enough water, if needed, to equal liquid needed. Add beans and heat through. Shred some lettuce to go on the burritos.

French Bread Recipe
Tortilla Recipe

Tuesday: Mix up juice for breakfast, and cook oatmeal according to package directions for breakfast. Boil chicken to cook it for tonight's meal and tomorrow's lunch. Cool and de-bone chicken. Cut up chicken and divide it for the two meals. Save broth/liquid for tonight as well. Cool it in refrigerator so fat can be skimmed off the top if desired.

For lunch, prepare the Ramen according to package directions. I add a bit extra water and do not drain after cooking (making it like a noodle soup). Once the noodles are cooked whisk in two beaten eggs.

For dinner, peel 3 pounds potatoes and chunk. Add to water and boil for mashed potatoes. While potatoes are cooking, make a gravy using equal parts of oil and flour (1/3 cup each). In oil, first cook half an onion, finely chopped. Remove onion with a slotted spoon and add flour whisking until a paste forms. Add broth saved from this morning whisking continuously. Turn heat down to low and thicken gravy. Extra chicken bouillon, salt and pepper can be added for seasoning. Add onion and the chicken set aside for tonight's meal. Peel and slice carrots; place in a microwave-safe dish. Place enough water to cover the bottom of the dish and cover with a lid or saran wrap. Heat in the microwave for five or six minutes until cooked but firm. I like to season mine with margarine, salt and pepper (sometimes with a bit of maple syrup for sweetness). Heat green beans (2 cans). Any leftover mashed potatoes and green beans will be used for tomorrow's supper.

Wednesday: For breakfast make muffins using this muffin recipe. Instead of sour cream, I use the substitute for buttermilk in the muffin recipe. Also add in some oats and a mashed banana. If bread is needed for lunch, begin making it now using the French bread recipe. You can also make the chicken salad with the reserved cooked chicken or wait until lunch. For stretchers in my chicken salad, I add shredded carrot, thinly sliced celery and/or chopped hard boiled egg.

For supper, brown one pound of ground turkey; drain if needed. Add a can of tomato soup and pepper to taste. Place in the bottom of an oven-safe dish. Place a layer of green beans on top of meat mixture (be sure to use any leftovers plus the one can left, draining first). Mashed potatoes go on top of the green beans. Make more if needed to add to any leftovers from last night. Place in oven and heat through. I use a round Pyrex dish because it is smaller on the bottom so to hide I might have used less meat. ;) While Shepherd's pie is heating, make coleslaw using the recipe below.

Coleslaw Recipe

Thursday: For breakfast, make waffles using what is left of the pancake mix. It is prepared the same way, just cooked differently of course.

For lunch, make biscuit dough using the buttermilk substitute instead of real buttermilk and oil for the shortening (7/8 cup of oil per 1 cup of shortening). The recipe is below. Cut hot dogs into thirds. Wrap each hot dog piece in a biscuit. Place on a greased cookie sheet and cook at 400 until biscuit portion is lightly browned. This will make 24-30 pigs in a blanket.

For supper, make more biscuits. While biscuits are baking, make up gravy similar to Tuesday night's supper but using milk, the reconstituted kind, instead of broth. Season with salt and pepper. Make a fruit salad.

Biscuit Recipe

Friday: For breakfast, make rice cereal using below recipe. Remember to use reconstituted milk for all cooking. Mix up some juice. Start a batch of bread dough for today's lunch and dinner.
For lunch, hard boil some eggs for the egg salad adding diced celery and/or shredded carrot for nutritious fillers if desired.

For supper, brown a pound of ground turkey with some chopped onion; drain if needed. Add peeled and sliced carrots, potatoes, celery along with enough water to cover. Add in pepper and bouillon to flavor. Bring to boil and reduce heat. Simmer until vegetables are tender. Diced cabbage may be added as well. Before serving, add reserved kidney beans and heat through. While soup is simmering, slice a loaf of french bread. Butter one side of each slice and sprinkle with garlic powder. Place on a cookie sheet margarine side up. Toast at 350 until margarine is melted and bread is lightly toasted.

Rice Cereal

Saturday: For breakfast, I dip slices of bread into a mixture of egg, milk and some cinnamon. I then cook them on a greased electric griddle (350) until cooked.

For lunch, make macaroni and cheese according to package directions. Add can of drained tuna after having mixed in cheese.

For supper, start the potato pancakes. While the potato pancakes are cooking, make up some scrambled eggs.

Sunday: For breakfast, cook oatmeal according to package directions. Mix up some juice. Begin making bread dough for lunch and supper if needed.

For supper, cook macaroni according to package directions. Return to pot after draining. While macaroni is cooking, brown ground turkey and some diced onion. Drain and add to macaroni after it is cooked and drained along with spaghetti sauce and canned corn (undrained). Season to taste with pepper. Heat through. While goulash is heating, make garlic bread (see Friday's instructions). Can serve with any extra vegetables, salad or fruit.

*Note: Some of the ingredients for the recipes are not included. The recipes turn out fine without them so were not include for the sake of saving money for my budget experiment. I left the recipes in their entirety so they can be used at any time.