Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Family Matriarch

Almost a year ago... I married this man...

Along with gaining an amazing husband, I gained a sister, niece, nephew, brother-in-law, loads of aunts & uncles.. and a second set of parents.

A couple of months ago, my mother-in-law had testing done on a spot they had found on her kidney. I received a text "It's Cancer". The first person I thought of was my husband, this is his mommy, one of his best friends, someone he adores to no end... I called him and we cried on the phone together...

We spent the next few weeks finding out treatment was pretty easy, but at the same time... one of the people I've been closest to in life, died from cancer that originated from organs. I tried to hold myself together, support and give hugs and kisses where needed.

Thursday morning, we got up at 3:45 in the morning & spent the day in the hospital. As you can see, my father-in-law & husband found this to be a very exhausting day. Waiting.

We received word about 1:30PM that she had successfully come out of surgery. The doctor then came out and confirmed that he had gotten all of the cancer successfully and that she should soon be recovering in a room.

She came home on Saturday, while she's in a good amount of pain, she's here, and continues to be the one that makes us laugh, gives fun clothes, hugs, and keeps us all held together like a special glue.

Thank God, Sue... we love you so much!!

Monday, March 26, 2012


There are so many things I want to can this summer, I'm sick of spending money on stuff I can make my own, and freeze!

Strawberry Jam
Blueberry Pie Filling
Apple Pie Filling
Hot Damn Applesauce (it's amazing!)
Grape Jelly
Crimson Honey Grapefruit
Homemade Ketchup
BBQ Sauce
Spaghetti Sauce
Roast Beef

This book below is helpful for all homemade things in the kitchen, including how to freeze.

Green Beans

Also learning about green cleaning (if you haven't seen my post on that, click here) & how to use kitchen supplies and live off the "land", to save money with a little hard work is very important to me! I also have a book of Martha Stewart's that details cleaning. I'll share that soon, with some tips of my own that I've adapted from the book.

Cory might want to think about a bigger house :) haha.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Organizing Goods, Containers, Containers, and... More Containers!

One of the best things my husband ever did for me was add a second set of cupboards with a counter for my mixer, bread machine and... containers. I love having my primary use items quick at hand, and sealed up.

Here are some of my containers: Snacks, Flour, Sugar, & Coffee- which actually holds Koolaide packets, The tall cylinder in the background has tea bags.

We eat pasta as sides, I toss it with olive oil, tomatoes, and parmesan for a side. Or I'll make homemade mac & cheese, the possibilities are endless. Our local store has the 32 oz boxes on sale a few times a year 10 for $10.00, and I stock up!

We use rice, popcorn, risotto, and bread crumbs. Popcorn is a quick fiber filled snack, rice we use as so many sides, I'll toss garlic, onions, and some butter in and have garlic rice. Risotto is my creamy go to dish, I use extra asparagus ends, cheese and milk to make a delicious side!

What are your organizing tips? I can store a lot more when the ingredients are upright, it's much easier to buy in bulk and freeze the rices that don't fit in the container & not have to have the huge bags sitting around.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Favorite Summer Time Passion.. Sweet Tea

I'm trying to save money, by no longer drinking pop (soda, coke?).. however, I do need something to fix my caffeine fix. I'm not a coffee drinker, so tea is my natural replacement. When it's hot out, which, it's 80 here in Michigan in March!!

It's so simple to make and is cheap, or a penny saver! I use 1/2 sugar & 1/2 splenda

Sweet Tea

2 Cups of water, bring to a boil
Add and dissolve 1 Cup of sugar (more to taste, less if you aren't a fan of sweet)
Add tied 7 tea bags (3 large)

Let sit for 5 minutes

Pinch the tea bags & dump the warm mixture over ice cubes in a 2 quart container.

Add cool water to the mix, mix, refrigerate & enjoy!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Gee Wiz! Homemade Cheese Wiz?!

I was making cheeseburger meatballs the other night, and needed Cheese Wiz. I was not running to the store to buy a $5.00 bottle for 1/2 cup of something I "should" be able to make at home. So, I got on the trusty internet and searched for something I could find that was similar... In came my kitchen pantry!

4 ingredients & I was off, making something I needed quick!

I threw the extra's in a bowl for my husband to use with chips when I am mean and don't make dinner :)

Make your own today!

2 oz evaporated milk
1/2 t Vinegar
1/4 t Salt
1/2 lb velveeta (I used 8 oz of cheese)- cut up into cubes
1/4 t dry mustard

Heat up the milk on the stove, add the vinegar, heat to steaming (remember it's milk, no boiling), add the cut up cheese, cube by cube, once melted, add spices (mustard & salt).


Monday, March 19, 2012

Frugal.. Make your own.. Fajita Seasoning

Well, I didn't do well keeping you updated last week did I? Sorry about that, so here right off the bat is a recipe for you!

Homemade Fajita Seasoning, and why, yes it was a Pinterest idea! It also was one of my desires, because those little seasoning packets are horribly expensive! (still very convenient)

The majority of my spices come from Sam's Club, the Dollar store or, if they are on clearance, I'll pick them up in bulk. I have several of any kind, I should be more organized & keep a list, but I don't bother!
Here are the ingredients. I get horrible migraines, it's a way to avoid MSG, you have to watch bouillon, some have MSG.

Don't laugh at my pretty labels!

1 T Corn Starch
2 t Chili Powder
1 t Salt
1 t Paprika
1 t Sugar
3/4 t Crushed chicken bouillon
1/2 t Onion Powder
1/4 t Garlic Powder
1/4 t Cayenne Pepper
1/4 t Cumin

Use 2T per 1# meat (chicken, ground turkey, beef, etc)

I doubled the batch, I'd rather have a lot more than I need on hand then have to make it several times!

Good luck & enjoy!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cheeseburger Meatloaf

This was a great recipe! I loved a revamp on the everyday meatloaf, since I'm not a huge fan, but I love cheeseburgers!

1 LB ground Turkey sausage
1 LB lean ground beef
6 strips of bacon crumbled
1 hamburger bun- toast in the oven and let sit over night, crumble it in to your mix
1 onion diced
1 tomato diced
3/4 C sharp cheddar cheese
1 Egg
1/4 C of milk
2 T tomato paste
salt & pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic

Mix everything together in a bowl.
Have 6 mini loaf pans ready.
Fill with Mix, Cover w/a mix of bbq or plain ketchup.

Now. Freezing.. I just wrap with freezer paper and yet again with with tin foil writing the instructions to bake for 30 -35 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Green Cleaning

So a while back I said I was going to try some fun ideas from Pinterest. Fun = Cleaning? No.. not really... but it has to be done, and I prefer to do it as painlessly as possible.

Most of you know me personally, and know that I get horrific migraines from fumes of anything. So.. I've been trying to use baking soda and other ideas to clean, green and fume free.

I'm embarrassed to show you my tub.. however... here it is. Gross right?

Well.. I mixed:

1 C baking soda
1 T dish soap
1/4 Water

Made a paste and my scrub brush and I went to work.

5 minutes later......

I was pretty amazed. Thank you very much Martha Stewart. Really. :)

I also made a few of my pans look brand new by making a paste of baking soda & peroxide. It took off years of cooked on oven grease, which is disgusting, but.. it happens.

My two pinterest for this weekend were a list of weekly chores, to spend 15 minutes a day keeping the house clean and smore's cookie bars. I'll share how this goes on Saturday. I need all week to do the chores and see how that works, but.. the smore's bars, I wish I had some left, they went by quick!

See you tomorrow with the recipe for cheeseburger meatloaf!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Month of Meals Menu

I start with a Monday, always, since I'm cooking Saturday or Sunday, it's not hard to use one of the meals for that. Lunches are always a left over from a meal, or I keep things like Tuna, chicken for salads, etc in the ready. I always have frozen veggies, and every couple of weeks buy stuff for salad, Romane lettuce lasts forever!

Beefy Mac
Spaghetti w/meatballs
Slow Cooker Orange Chicken
Shells w/chicken and cheese
Beef Stew
Pork Chops stuffed w/apples
Marinated steaks
Cheesburger meatballs
Steak Fajitas
Chicken and Potato Bake
Chicken & Rice
Chicken Pot Pie
Marinated steaks
Maple Glazed Stuffed Roast Pork
Sheppards Pie
Strognaoff Meatballs
Beef Stir Fry
Chicken Noodle Soup
Pork Chops
Roast w/carrots & potatoes
Mini Meatloafs
Sheppards Pie
Chicken & Rice
Slow Cooker Orange Chicken
Marinated Steaks
Pork loin
Pineapple Chicken Stir Fry
Camper Hamburger Packs
Chicken Wings
Beef Stew
Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken & Rice
Chicken Alfredo
Cheeseburger Meatloaf
Chicken Wings
Marinated Steaks
Chicken Noodle Soup
Camper Hamburger Packs
Pork loin

I have rice, endless Pasta options, that is all so easy to toss with a veggie, olive oil w/fresh tomatoes and Parmesan.

Most things are self explanatory, and I do reuse stuff we like to eat a lot, if Cory had his way, we'd eat pizza every night! :) but since most nights, it's just me.. and I'm trying to avoid McDonalds, this is a start in the right direction.

I give myself some additional options on weekends, if I feel like digging in, in the kitchen, I'll do a special dinner. We do a big breakfast one morning on the weekend, I freeze extra's and use them during the week, but I did make 40 stuffed Breakfast burritos. This week I'll be posting recipes, right after I post my Pinterest results from the last 2 weeks!

Have a great week!

Friday, March 9, 2012

The day of cooking

I cannot begin to stress how important it is to plan. I am not a planner by nature, I have to force myself to sit down and create menu's and believe me, I start the day I end from the previous batch of meals. Little steps.

First things first:

Make sure you are well fed, not only will you want to eat everything you make, but it will take that much longer.

Keep hydrated. Coffee, milk, water, whatever your vice.

Take a few breaks, be willing, but do it in steps. I chop everything up and take a break, maybe watch a 1/2 hour of tv, do something other than look at food, this is also a good time to grab a snack.

Step Two: Cut. Be aware that this is going to take up every bowl you own, not me, Cory says I'm the bowl queen, I have 5 different sets, in all sizes. Just for this.

Chicken, I cut up a lot of chicken, sometimes I'll marinade it and then chop, but this time I had stuff like pot pies that called for plain chicken, so I cut it up first.

Next, I shredded, a lot. Cheese was on sale last week, this was 1 lb of cheese.

Since, we are prepared, I had bags to put the cheese in and they were labeled with dates, 3- 2 cup bags out of $3.69 of cheese. That's 3 normal bags, for 1/3rd the cost.

I wish I had gotten more pictures of prep, but this is what my kitchen looks like as everything cools. It has to be room temp before it hits your freezer. READ: Do not, I repeat not, put hot stuff in your freezer.

As our freezer loses space while we cook things, I try to keep it organized. My husband needs water bottles every day that are frozen so a special spot in the freezer is designated for them. I didn't put all the breakfast burritos in the house freezer, we have a freezer in our garage that I put extras in, but all this, plus some was all in the freezer, I brought all our chicken in.

Hopefully by now, you've done a little freezer cooking or omom (one month of meals) googling and looked at some of the recipes you'd like. You'll notice I still keep frozen veggies on hand, and everything is wrapped in freezer paper then tin foil and labeled.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Freezer Cooking..

As many of you know, I commute 2 hours a day. The *last* thing I want to do when I get home is cook. That has lead to a ton of processed crap and fast food, which.. lead to me never using the scale.

So.. a while ago I bought a ton of material on cooking for a month. We have 2 freezers, but.. I keep everything in pretty good order with over flow in the second one. The one thing you have to be about freezer cooking is organized. Don't worry, I'm not... but.. here's the steps I use to start:

1. Make a list of everything in the freezer, especially frozen meats.

This month I had:
  • Chicken thighs- 4 packs of 4, which I bought on clearance for $1 a piece.
  • Chicken Quarters, 3 packages of 2 a piece, don't remember what I paid, sorry!
  • 4 pkgs of variety steak, my husband is a sucker for those trucks that ride around? Yeah...
  • 4 pkgs of sizzlers
  • 4 pkgs of round steaks
  • 3 pkgs of pre-made hamburgers
  • 5# pork loin
  • 2# beef roast
  • 2 pkgs of 1 # of pork chops
  • Smoked sausage
  • Brats
  • Meat balls
  • Mixed Veggies, Broccoli, Green beans, Peas & Corn
  • 3 bags of mashed potatoes (a store in town has 5# bags on sale for $1 occasionally, I buy 20# and make homemade hashbrowns, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, etc.)
  • 3 loafs swirl bread (from the day old bread store, works great for french toast & only costs me $0.50.
  • 6 pkg 4 pieces of garlic toast (another thing I watch for $1.00 deals on & split up and repackage & freeze)
  • tater tots
Left overs from last meal plans, where we had plans that took the place of meals
  • Beefy mac
  • Cheesy chicken & Rice
  • Chicken Shells
  • Beef Stew
  • Pizza dough (which is something I usually have on hand anyways- homemade of course)
  • Chicken wings
2. Make a calendar- a list you can put on the fridge. I always go through & put what we already have on the list in days.

3. Research meals to use the things on hand you already have and make a list of what sounds good.
My husband always teases me about having 20+ cookbooks.. but they come in handy, I go online, pinterest is one of my favorite (fun things).

4. Plan out your month(s), I do two at a time, it saves me time in the kitchen. Tomorrow, I'll share my calendar with some meal ideas and through out the week share some of my recipes I've adapted in the last few months. Stay tuned!

Now... I'm backing away from the blog and working on my cleaning ideas I got from Pinterest! :)

Friday, March 2, 2012


I made it! That non-exsistant climb from Monday to Friday!.. So what are my fun plans you ask?

Tackling the kitchen wall paper. Hopefully. Plus, I've decided to try two new pinterest ideas every weekend, from recipies, to cleaning advice, decorating, it's all exciting!

This weekend I'm trying my hand at something I already use, baking soda. One is a tub cleaner from Martha Stewart, the other a way to fix old pans!

I am a fan of baking soda, we'll see if it proves to be this kind to the pans I have. If so I will be sure to share here!

Be safe, I know in the great state of Michigan we are supposed to get a lot of snow, so drive careful!