Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year's Eve!

Just because I had to do it before the New Year, last night I sent the last payment in for Hubby's truck. That's one less payment and one less debt to start of 2011!! I'm so excited :) I can't wait to tell him when he wakes up (he went to bed at 7am this morning after working nights again).

To add to the great day, it's going to be nearly 50 degrees here in NW Ohio today. And I am looking outside right now and the sky has cleared. I can see blue skies and white fluffy clouds. The sun is even peaking out a bit.

Now, if I can just get rid of the annoying headache, the day will be great. A day for me to finally get to some of those outside things I neglected in the fall. Here's to hoping my carrots are still good!

Have a Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, December 27, 2010

At a loss for words...

...and I just don't know what to write about! I'm just doing my best to try and keep up with everything and nothing exciting is going on.

I was going to take a picture of the disaster area that is my kitchen. There are dirty dishes everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE!! I was going to show you that I am not perfect, no where near it! HA! But, my camera batteries are dead and I don't have any charged to put in it, so I can't even do that.

I am getting things done now, just slowly. Very slowly. I spent the last two days doing laundry (over 2 weeks worth!), hemming pants, mending things and going through a very large pile of unread magazines. If you'll notice, that was mostly done from the couch :) I have two more days off and I'm hoping to get the kitchen caught up and the office cleaned up. Those are my not-so-lofty goals.

Though I do have much more energy now than I did in the first trimester, I'm still dragging. I'm not falling asleep at 8:30 to sleep for 11 hours, but I don't have the energy to be up on my feet all day quite yet. Needless to say, this is not how I thought pregnancy would be for me. But, I love it nonetheless!

Food and meal planning has definitely been an area of slippage for me. Big time. Most mornings I'm eating cereal. Eggs just still aren't sitting right with me first thing. And cereal is quick, easy and delicious. I craved it big time for a while in the beginning. I know it's not the best nutritionally, but the way I see it, it's better than not eating, and right now those are pretty much my choices! We've been eating out quite a bit more than I would like to. And it's mostly just because I don't have the energy to think about dinner, and that I'm hungry, now! I'm hoping these few days off work will allow me to catch up a bit more with the house so that I feel like I can use the kitchen and think clearly in there. A cluttered kitchen makes for a cluttered mind in this house. I'm not going so far as to make a meal plan this week, but I at least know what's in the freezer now :)

Adding to the difficulty is that Hubby is working nights. He leaves before I get home most days when I'm working, usually by 5pm and gets home when I'm getting up for work. Which means the only cooking I'm doing for him is occasionally packing his lunch (he's actually been doing it himself, which amazes me!) or leaving leftovers for him. Coming home in the dark to an empty house and cooking is just not appealing, especially when I know it's just going to make more dishes to wash!

As you may have noticed, dear readers, I'm in a bit of a funk. I'm working my out of it, I hope. Tuesday is my next appointment. They should be doing an ultrasound. I'm hoping that seeing our little one will motivate me to get off my butt and do something!

Oh, and Merry Christmas :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh my! It's been a while.

And I do apologize for that. But believe me, I've had my reasons :)

Hubby and I are expecting our first little one in June of next year! We've been keeping it a secret until just about a week ago. And I've been sooo tired. I'd come home, take a nap for a while before I make dinner and then, if I'm lucky, maybe clean up a bit before I head to bed...at 8:30! That hasn't left a lot of time for much of anything.

My house is a mess and I'm entirely unprepared for Christmas! I have finally started to get my energy back the last few days and I'm hoping to be able to catch up a bunch this weekend. Hubby' just got called in to work tonight, but he's off tomorrow and Sunday. So hopefully I'll have some help from him too!

He's really been working quite a bit lately. Anything over 36 hours is overtime for him, since we works 12 hour shifts. And he's had at least 12 hours over every week since he started on shift work. And the 12 hour shifts means he comes home, showers, eats and basically goes to bed to start over again in the morning. It's been a bit of an adjustment for us.

As for the garden, well, I didn't quite get it put to bed as well as I'd hoped. I was just too tired. No fall or winter garden for me this year. The hoses are still out and connected, despite it being constantly below freezing now and about 4 inches of snow that isn't going anywhere. The trees didn't get trimmed, and I still only have one apple tree planted. I'm hoping I will have enough energy to make up for it in the spring. And I may just have to buy new hoses, but such is life! I will be asking for my rain barrels to be set up for my birthday in April, so I'm hoping to not have to need the hoses on the spigots much next year!




I guess that's it for now. I'm hoping to be able to have the energy in the next coming months to keep updating. Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Adventures in Harvesting

This carrot was twisted all the way to the tip!
This past week I've been on vacation and so has my Hubby. We've gotten quite a few things done, especially outside. Not all that I had hoped, but still quite a bit. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of just about all of it! Most of it wasn't exciting anyway.

We ripped out a bed that had been neglected long before we took possession of the house. It was overrun with lily-of-the-valley and three large lilac bushes. As much as it pained me to do it, I cut down all three of the bushes and ripped up the lily mat that lay on top of the actual dirt over there. In it's place, we've planted an apple tree. I want to get two more dwarf varieties for over there, and find something that does well in semi shade until they get bigger.

I also dug my potatoes. I got quite a few and some much larger than I anticipated. I filled up my potato basket and kept a handful of green ones for seed potatoes for next year.

Last of the kohlrabi and some carrots.
Most of the green plant material got pulled up in the other beds. Spent squash vines and tomato plants and bean plants were pulled up. I even harvested about half of the carrots. And I'm glad I did. This variety got huge! A couple broke off in the ground and I couldn't pull them out. I'll leave those for the squirrels.

Adventures in Pop Tart Baking

That's right, I made my own poptarts. The real things, the ones from Kellogg's, are my Achilles heal. I lived on diet coke and chocolate poptarts when I was in college. The were my breakfast most days. I love them, I can't help it. Even now, when I know how terrible they are, they are my go-to breakfast when I'm running late. I can get one strawberry tart at the gas station for $0.69. And then I feel like crap the rest of the day. Hubby loves them too.

So, I set out to make my own and try and make them at least a little healthier. I found the recipe at Smitten Kitchen. I followed her recipe almost exactly, except I did the half whole wheat, half white flour version. And they were pretty good.

Homemade Nutella tarts
 I made two different kinds. One with raspberry jam and one with my homemade nutella. But, my nutella is very crumbly because I store it in the fridge and I made it with coconut oil, so they don't look as  pretty as hers do! I also made one that was half and half because I had just a little jam left from the first four. That one was amazing!
Raspberry tarts
 Apparently my fork pricks didn't make it all the way through the top layer, because they all puffed up quite a bit. And the tarts with the jam in them are a little soft still, they didn't bake up hard like the others did. I'm thinking they could've gone in for a little bit longer.
Baked and cooled the next morning. Not bad really.
The verdict: These are good, but they aren't the same. Which is okay I guess. They're good on their own. And if I keep some around, I won't succumb to the 8am frenzy that is the gas station!

This post is part of the Simple Lives Thursday and Pennywise Platter!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Best Homemade Ice Cream Ever

And I'm not kidding, at least that's what my husband says :)

This is a recipe based on an Alton Brown recipe, but entirely different.

Ingredients:
3 cups heavy whipping cream
3 cups 2% milk
1 1/2 cups rapadura or sucanat*
2 vanilla beans

Heat milk and sugar in a saucepan on medium heat. Scrape seeds from vanilla beans and place beans and pods in pan with liquid. Heat to 170°F or until the very first bubble appears. Do not let it boil!

Mixture heating on the stove.

Turn heat off and let cool on the stove. Once cooled down, strain and place in fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. Then process according to your ice cream maker's instructions.

Straining to cool. Yes, it was mostly cool at this point,
but my kitchen was VERY cold. I refuse to turn the heat on yet :)
After processing, it will still be quite soft. Place in freezer until hardened. This is where I add cocoa powder to some of it to make it chocolate. I mix about 1/2 a cup of cocoa with about 1/3 of the ice cream before hardening.

Then eat, both are delicious :) My hubby says the vanilla is so good that it's not worth making anything else! It has a little bit of a carmel-like flavor. It also isn't too sweet and, as my husband said, has a nice, refreshing taste. It doesn't leave you thirsty like some ice creams can. And, I feel good eating it. I know that there's only good things in it (for the most part anyway) and it's delicious. Enjoy!

*It is VERY important to use rapadura or sucanat, not regular white sugar. This isn't just for health reasons, but because it's what imparts the unique flavor to the ice cream and makes it oh-so-delicious!

This post is being shared as part of the Pennywise Platter.

New Tattler Winner

Congratulations to Sara, our new winner of the Tattler Reusable Lids. Our first winner never contacted me, so we are on to the next. Random.org picked comment #7:

Congrats to Sara. Please contact me with your info and I'll get them out to you!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Garden Update: Green Tomatoes

This weekend is really chilly in this neck of the woods. This morning it's 44°F at 9:30 in the morning. I haven't turned the heat on yet, but I am definitely baking today!

Last night we were in danger of frost. I don't think we actually got any, but I wasn't taking any chances. It was cold and raining most of the day, and I knew that covering my tomatoes wasn't going to do me any good if they were already dripping wet. So, I made the decision to harvest all of the tomatoes, no matter how green they were. It hurt! There were even new flowers on some of our plants. I felt so sad...it seems like such a waste. But seasons change and there's nothing we can do to stop it, no matter how small our baby tomatoes are.

Green tomatoes, as well as a few peppers
and a weird melon that I'm not sure of...

I got almost a bushel of tomatoes, some were red, but most were still green. It was a cold, wet harvest and I couldn't feel my fingers when I was done. But I do love smelling like the tomatoes :)

Ripened tomatoes, destined for pizza sauce and salsa!

Now I have over half a bushel of green tomatoes. I've pulled out the ones that I think will ripen over the next few weeks, but I'm left with quite a few that are still very green and underdeveloped. Now what do I do with them? I can't waste the food, I just can't. So much food is sitting here, I'm just not sure how to eat it!

I need help friends! I'm thinking about maybe making a ketchup or relish, or even a jam to give as gifts. But if any of you have no-fail recipes or other ideas, please share. Thanks!

And I never heard from our winner, so I will be drawing a new winner later today. Good Luck everyone :)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Last Chance!

Heyaheather. You won the giveaway, but I have no way to contact you! I know I said 48 hours, but I've given you a little while longer. Please email me at angelajiniel at gmail dot com with your contact info so I can have them send you your prize. Thanks.

I really, really will pick another winner after Noon (EST) Friday.

Stay tuned, readers, for the best icecream recipe I've ever eaten in my entire life!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

We Have A Winner!

As I guessed, I was gone all day yesterday and didn't get a chance to post the winner. But, I scored a lot of great whole food ingredients for very little and had a great time with friends. I love visiting the Amish stores in Ohio!

Anyway, on to the real reason you all are here, the giveaway winner.

And according to random.org, the winner is comment #22, heyaheather.

Congratulations! Please contact me within 48 hours with your shipping address so we can get the lids to you in time to use them this season! If I don't hear from our winner by Wednesday, I'll pick a new winner. I don't want to let these babies go to waste this season!

In other news, I canned three more jars of sauce which I made in the crockpot while we were away yesterday. Two of the three sealed...I've still got work to do to make them function properly. I think the problem this time was the ring I used. Looking at it, I don't think it sealed it down properly.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Last Day to Enter: Tattler Giveaway

Just a reminder that today is the last day to enter the Tattler Reusable Canning Lid giveaway.

From their site:
TATTLER Canning Lid's proven success, as a reusable product, has earned them the distinction of widespread customer satisfaction and acceptance since their origination in 1976.  The years of development of this product have brought to the home canner a jar lid that is truly reusable.  In fact, the longevity of TATTLER Canning Lids presents the likelihood they will be handed down to the next generation of food preservation enthusiasts!

Properly used, with any standard Mason jar and metal screw band, these reusable lids will last a lifetime. If you ever wear this lid out, we will replace it free! Follow standard directions and procedures, for two piece canning jar lids, with any normal home canning process, and obtain excellent results.
Tattler lids from their site.
Their lids are:
  • Infinitely reusable (thought the rubber rings may need to be replaced after a while)
  • Dishwasher safe
  • BPA free
  • Made of FDA approved materials 
  • And can be used with Pressure canner or water bath (boiling water) methods.
After I get some more canning done with them, I will post more about them and exactly how to use them, so you DON'T do what I did and lose half a quart of applesauce to the canning water!

Good Luck everyone!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tattler Reusable Lid Update

After cooling, three of the four jars sealed without a problem. The fourth jar is the one who's lid popped off during the canning process and 1/2 the applesauce left the jar. I didn't that that one would work!

I also know what I did wrong. Even after reading other reviews and seeing them make this same mistake, I've made it. Before canning, you need to loosen the ring a 1/4 INCH, not a 1/4 TURN. INCH!! I even reread the box to make sure I was doing it right and I did it the wrong way. Ugh. Lesson learned.

The best part? I don't have to throw a lid away and waste it because it didn't seal, just use it again!

Remember, the giveaway for your own Tattler Lids is open through Midnight on Friday. So if you haven't entered yet, do so soon!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Indian Summer

This weekend I picked all of the green tomatoes from the volunteer plant that came up by the compost. Since there was no support out there for then, they were all laying on the ground. And, consequently, every one that ripened was eaten by all of the lovely bugs that live back there. So they are now slowly ripening in my laundry room. It's been fairly cool for the last couple of weeks, hovering in the 70's and occasionally breaking the 80 mark. So they were ripening very slowly back there under all of the greenery anyway.

Today's high is supposed to be 88. Almost 90! And the rest of the week is hopping from 80 to almost 90. Isn't today the Autumnal Equinox, the first day of fall?

So the large box of tomatoes I have will most likely ripen quickly this week. And that's not to mention all of the tomatoes that are still out there on the vine ready to be picked. I've got some work to do! I'm thinking a few more batches of salsa made during the week and some sauce over the weekend. I hope I have time. We are going to Amish Country with friends on Saturday and celebrating a family birthday on Sunday. I need to make sure I come home and get things done on Sunday! Or maybe I'll dehydrate some while we're gone on Saturday and put the rest in the crockpot...hmm...

Either way, I'm still planning on canning more sauce this weekend. Hopefully I'll get the chance to perfect my use of the Tattler Reusable Lids. (If you didn't know, I'm giving away a box of each size! Tell your friends and family, share! Drawing will be held Saturday!)

I'm also hoping to take advantage of the warm and get some fall/winter seeds to germinate this week, if only I can get them planted tonight! And, I need to get the potatoes harvested. This warm, dry weather would be great to get them cured for storage.

What are you doing in your gardens this fall?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tattler Reusable Canning Lids (& a Giveaway!)

I recently decided to try some Tattler Reusable Canning Lids rather than continue to spend money on disposable metal lids the have (though very small levels) BPA on them. Every time I went to buy new lids, I just couldn't let myself spend the money, even when I had a coupon!

So I set out to search for a solution. And thanks to the power of google, I found these. I also found quite a few other bloggers who have talked about them recently and a while ago. They've apparently been around since the 70's (they're older than I am!), but I haven't heard about them until now.

I order three sets of each size and they arrived yesterday.

Lids in their shipping box. I've already pulled out one set of regular sized lids.
After my 5k this morning (my first! 36 minutes and I didn't die, woohoo!), I went and picked about a 1/2 bushel of apples from my mom and dad's house and came home and made applesauce. It was my first opportunity to test out the new lids.

Four jars of applesauce. The not-quite-so-full jar is one that didn't go so perfectly...
They're a little different than regular metal lids, as they come in two pieces. The rubber rings can be reused, but do need to eventually be replaced. The white lid part can be reused indefinitely unless it becomes damaged. Also, you have to tighten them and then turn back a 1/4" during processing. Then, once you take them out of the water, tighten them down while they cool. That part's a little tricky and my first run wasn't exactly, um, perfect. We'll see once they cool how it went!

And the good news is that Tattler has allowed me to give one of you a set! One winner will receive a box of a dozen of each size, rings and lids. I'm so excited for my first giveaway! (And, to clarify, I bought my lids so any review I do is just for information, I've not been compensated.)

How do you enter? Just comment here and tell me what kind of food preservation you've been working on lately. And, for an extra entries, share about this giveaway on your own blog or on facebook or twitter. Please put a separate comment for each entry (max. 4 per person). The contest will be open all this week, closing at 12pm EST on Friday night. I will announce the winner on Saturday (or maybe Sunday if I'm in Amish country all day Saturday :) Good Luck everyone!

For those of you interested in my applesauce recipe, it's painfully simple:
Apples, a bunch. I think I had about 1/2 a bushel.
1 cup (or so) of your favorite sweetener. I used rapadura


Wash and cut up apples in pieces and cut out bad spots. (Since I was using my mom's apples that have quite a few spots and bugs, I just cored them all, but you don't have to if you have a food mill.) Put a large pot on the stove on medium heat and cut your apples into the pot, peels on. Add a little water to get started. Every so often, put in a little sugar. Stir occasionally.


Once all the apples are cut, let it cook with a lid on for about 20 minutes until cooked down and softened, stirring occasionally. Then run through a food mill. I use a Foley food mill that I got at garage sale (or my mom got for me at a garage sale :)


I also put a few cloves in while it's cooking. Most people would put some cinnamon in, but my husband believes that cinnamon is the devil, so we don't put it in at this stage. I put on when I eat it :)
For more information, or if you don't have a mill, visit PickYourOwn.org for more info.

Reusable bags and dehydrator, I'm a winner!

My new dehydrator in it's home in the laundry room!

Recently I won a giveaway from the Green Bag Lady. A $60 giftcard to the CSN stores, with which I bought a dehydrator. I was so excited! I've already dehydrated a bunch of onions and made onion powder, dehydrated my first batch of home grown tomatoes, made jerky, dried a bunch of herbs and made chili pepper flakes. I love it!

Finished jerky. It was really good!!

They also sent me an awesome reusable bag, because it's what she does. Thanks so much!

My Green Bag Lady bag!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What I've been up to...

As I type this, I am taking a short break from making and canning a bunch of tomato sauce. I got a bushel from the farm stand (didn't pick myself this year since it's raining today) and then a few more quarts of my own when I got home. I know you're not supposed to mess with wet plants...but I couldn't let all of the beautiful red tomatoes go knowing I was making sauce!

My sauce recipe is really simple. I usually just clean and quarter the tomatoes (or maybe more pieces, if the tomatoes are huge like some of these) and then heat them for a bout 20 minutes. Then I process them through the foley food mill and simmer them for a while to thicken the sauce. I usually add a little salt then process in my water bath canner, according to the ball blue book. This way I can turn the sauce into whatever I need it to be when I need it.

Tomatoes from my garden! Finally, I am growing beautiful red tomatoes.
The pepper on top is one of my Sweet Chocolates.
I also got a dehydrator. I'm so excited.
It has helped so much with processing the harvest this year.

I've already made two batches of lacto-fermented salsa from Nourishing Traditions. I haven't had whey, so I doubled the salt. Makes the salsa a little salty for my taste, but Hubby loves it. And so does my boss. She bought a quart from me and added black beans and corn and said it was really good.

Swiss Chard all dried out for winter soups. I'm still a little scared to eat it fresh...
Zucchini shredded for some yummy bread. (Recipe coming soon!)
This entire food processor cup is filled, probably way too much, with zucchini
from one fruit. I got it from someone at work. Literally the size of a t-ball bat!
Meat marinating for jerky. I bought a large roast from the local butcher and sliced it up.
The rest of the roast was ground up and browned. This will be chili on Monday!

Friday, September 3, 2010

My High School

My high school was destroyed by an EF4 tornado on June 5 this year. Completely. Destroyed. I spent all 13 years of my school years on this campus.

The high school I went to.
I am asking you today to log in to facebook and vote at the Kohls Cares page to help my alma mater win $500,000 to help them rebuild. The district spent the summer fixing the elementary and middle school (yes, we're that small that they're all in the same place) in time for school to start, and they're just starting to rebuild the high school. 6 people were killed in the tornado and many, many homes destroyed. The all happened the night before graduation. The graduation ceremony was delayed a week and occurred right before the funerals of those that died. The class valedictorian lost his father.

Or township building and police station were also destroyed.
I'm not asking to spend money, I'm not asking you to even be my friend on facebook if you don't want to. I'm just asking you to go here and vote. You can vote 20 times, giving as many as 5 votes to any one school. The top 20 win money. Lake is currently hovering right around 20. We are one of the only public schools on the list. We aren't offering any prizes for voting. Just your thanks.

You can see the middle school in this one. The roof had to be replaced.
My youngest sister is a sophomore there this year. They started classes this fall in a borrowed building. No lockers. Very little room. Food is bussed in from other schools. Other districts have donated busses and computer equipment and books and everything. Very little was salvageable, everything was lost. They're calling the borrowed building "Fake Lake", at least there's some humor about it! The football field, which is just out of shot in the pictures above, had to have the top foot of dirt scraped off because it was full of glass and debris. Their first home game of the season is tonight.

My parents live less than a mile from the school. You can see the destruction from their back porch. I thank God every day that it didn't take a small turn to the South and hit my family, or to the North and hit a small town full of my friends. One of my other sisters drove past the school 3 minutes before it was hit, on the road you can see in the top of the last picture above.

Please everyone, vote, and share this with your network of online friends. Voting ends tonight at 12pm Central Time. We're desperate. Thanks again!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Busy Week(end) and a Menu: Harvest Time!

I feel like life is going full-steam-ahead, but my brain wants to nap in a hammock for a few days. And I don't even have a hammock! Oh well.

This week/weekend I did quite a bit of preserving. I've finally, FINALLY got tomatoes ripening, and a few peppers too. The sweet chocolates are coming along nicely. Nothing else pepper-wise seems to be ready yet. I made 3 pints of pizza sauce, a quart and a pint of lacto-fermented salsa from Nourishing Traditions and 2 1/2 pints of freezer peach jam from farmers' market peaches.

Also, I recently won a $60 gift certificate for CSN Stores from the Green Bag Lady and used it to get a dehydrator. I'm so excited :) Despite my desires for an excalibur, I decided to bite the bullet and use this opportunity to get one that's not quite so awesome, but still great. I got a Nesco American Harvest. I decided to splurge and get the square one. At the CSN store, the round one would have been just under my $60 and shipped for free. But, the square one cost me $12.99 with free ground shipping. It wasn't too hard to convince my Hubby to agree on the extra $$. One word: jerky :) I was really excited too when I got an email telling me that they had upgraded my shipping for free and I got it in just a few days! Awesome! I've already got a load of tomatoes dehydrating. And I promise, there will be pictures soon.

This weekend was also the CornFest in my little village. I didn't get to experience it much though. I played in the volleyball tournament, from 9am until 3pm. LONG day. Oh, yeah, and it rained the whole time. I was soaked, completely soaked to the bone. After the first few games, I had to continue to wring my hair and my clothes out. The sand became concrete by the end. It started out fun, but by the end I was just tired and hungry. It did let up finally after I was home and clean and dry, but by that time my feet hurt so bad that the last thing I wanted to do was walk around! I did get to enjoy a funnel cake during a break in the games though, so I got what I wanted ;)

There was also a sad time this weekend. I had to put my sourdough starter in the compost :( I'm not sure if it was completely dead or not, but I neglected it for way too long. It was starting to smell a little funny, and somehow fruit flies were invading. None of these thing are good. However, I've resigned to start a new starter and attempt to keep it in the fridge and only bring it out and feed it when I need it. It will take a little more planning ahead, but I think it will be better in the long run. I think I'll take pictures this time too!

Now, on to the menu! This week is a not-so-busy week schedule wise, but there is a lot I want to get done. Plus, I think we're having a party at our house on Sunday for our fantasy football draft, so I need to get a little cleaning done!

Monday - hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes. I also cooked up extra ground beef for Wednesday and 2 lbs with taco seasoning to make enchiladas for the freezer. 3 lbs were vacuum sealed for the freezer. I cut and packaged a bunch of chicken for the freezer too, including marinating some for Tuesday.
Tuesday - chicken stirfry with pac choi, peas and carrots and a side of couscous. Make enchilada sauce at least, if not enchiladas for the freezer. Make cookies.
Wednesday - spaghetti with meat sauce. Hubby requests no weird stuff like veggies in the sauce, just sauce...? I'm hoping I can use the tomatoes from my garden and simmer the sauce while I run! Cleaning time! Finish enchiladas if I haven't already.
Thursday -  fried chicken nuggets with butternut squash fries. More cleaning.
Friday - beef fajitas? Not sure what we're doing yet.
Saturday - pizza
Sunday - cookout, potluck style!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Menu Monday

I'm late again. Yesterday was a busy day, and I just didn't get to posting. I DID create a menu plan, just didn't get it up.

Monday - fried chicken nuggets with veggie stirfry
Tuesday - Tacos (& make freezer enchiladas)
Wednesday - Pot roast with carrots
Thursday - BBQ beef sandwiches and corn on the cob
Friday - dinner with friends
Saturday - birthday party
Sunday - Oven fried chicken

Tonight, however, is probably going to be reworked. My cousin who lives in Georgia is in town! I haven't even met his little boy yet, and I can't wait to do so. It's been way to long since I've seen them! So, we'll probably end up going out to eat...

Friday will most likely be grocery day. I plan on going at lunch time maybe, unless I end up meeting my Aunt for lunch.

Over the weekend I managed to get chicken stock done and pressure-canned, granola made, bread made and dog biscuits made. The granola bars didn't harden, though they're very good. I'm just calling it sticky granola :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Adventures with Summer Squash: Recipe

I don't have any pictures for this one, but it was very delicious! Hubby didn't care for it so much. He said he was tired of chicken stirfry. Whatever. I loved it. I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago.

1 c quinoa, soaked and rinsed
1 lb chicken, cut to strips
1 3/4 c chicken stock
1 c peas (I used my snow peas)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 T olive oil
1 T white wine
2 T tomato paste
1/2 c finely grated Romano cheese
salt and pepper to taste

I found this recipe (or the recipe this was loosely based on) because I had things on hand that needed to be used: chicken, a summer squash, tomato paste and mozzarella cheese. So I added some mozz and only put a little bit of the romano in. I also cut up the squash and added it, along with some fresh basil and oregano. It made it a little more Italian tasting!

The original recipe said to marinate the chicken in the oil, salt, pepper and garlic for about 20 minutes. I didn't really have the time, so I just sauted the garlic with the onion and cooked the chicken after that with the salt and pepper added to it. Deglaze the pan with the white wine (I think I used more like 1/4-1/2 cup, because I had just a little left in the bottle), then add the tomato paste and mix. Add the quinoa, veggies and stock. Simmer about 15 minutes. Mix in cheese and any additional spices. Serve.

It warmed up pretty well for lunch the next two days too.

This post is a part of the Simple Lives Thursday blog hop, The Pennywise Platter, and, because I got it up late, the Friendly Friday blog hop!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Menu Monday


Last week didn't go as planned, but I should plan for that any week!

Things I didn't do:

  • make granola bars
  • make burritos for the freezer
  • blanch and freeze carrots
  • eat with friends on Friday - we just ate leftovers instead
  • cook on Sunday - we went out for wings
  • make icecream
  • make buns
  • make dog treats
  • make peanut butter
  • replant the peas - though I did rip out the dying ones
  • work on the berry patches
Things I did differently:
  • made tortellini on Wednesday, not Thursday
  • made chicken Enchiladas on Thursday
  • spent Saturday in the basement of my shed cleaning it out (more on that later!) since it was supposed to rain...it didnt.
  • painted the fence on Sunday instead. But it is done, woohoo!!
Things that went right:
  • Monday, Tuesday and Saturday meal plans
  • the fence DID get painted, did I mention that yet?
  • made a very yummy chocolate zucchini bread. I will definitely be making this again, maybe in a muffin form for portability. It's very good with a little cream cheese, which is what contributed to the next item
  • managed to only spend like $7 on groceries (cream cheese for bread, dip for all the carrots, and 2-liter of Diet Dr. Pepper in a moment of weakness!)
  • blanched and froze the broccoli, which is good since that won't last like the carrots will
  • soaked and dried the oats for the bars
  • I won TWO different giveaways on blogland this past week. Which is awesome. I will definitely be writing about them both when I get the goodies!
Anyway, onward and upward. This Week's menu is as follows:
  • Monday - beef stew. It was supposed to be in the crockpot already, but since I didn't get up until almost 7:30 this morning, it didn't happen. I will start it on the stove before volleyball tonight, and then eat when I get home!
  • Tuesday - Breakfast! Sourdough waffles and bacon. I plan on making extra waffles for the freezer. I also hope to get some beef enchiladas made for the freezer. Hubby really like the chicken ones, but thinks beef will be even better. Better than the burritos.
  • Wednesday - Chicken stew in the crockpot. I'm making a large batch, and the leftovers will go to make some pasty-type things for the freezer.
  • Thursday - Chicken nuggets with...probably broccoli since we have a bunch. Maybe some corn-on-the-cob if I get to the farm stand! I will finally have some money in the budget for grocery shopping, so this will happen today. I'm pretty excited! We have a local butcher I have yet to get to and I want to go on my lunch break, then the farm stand, and then the grocery store for a few other essentials...like light bulbs!
  • Friday - still up in the air again this week. I will plan on grilling out. Burgers and corn. We'll see.
  • Saturday - Busy, busy day of cookouts, etc. Nothing planned.
  • Sunday - pizza! My to-do list for Sunday consists of everything on the not done list above :)

That's my menu for this week. Check out more menu's at The Organizing Junkie.


Friday, July 30, 2010

Garden Update: The Tomato Jungle

Last weekend, as I've mentioned, I wasn't very present at home. We were away most of the time, and the time spent at home, wasn't used for maintenance. And my garden shows it.

The tomato jungle, with some peppers thrown in for good measure.
This is AFTER I cleaned them up a bit. Hopefully some of them will ripen soon
The pond needs some TLC...badly.

The lily pads are taking over the world!
Kohlrabi is not a very good crop for square foot gardening.
And neither are turnips.
The peas are pretty much done. They're coming out this weekend.
We did get one last pea crop though!

Beans are growing nicely! I've only harvested once.
I've decided this variety is best as a dried bean.
Raspberries are popping up everywhere here.
I'm hoping I can transplant them all soon.
I. Hate. Crabgrass. These are strawberries, but you'd never know.
They will be transplanted soon also.

Stupid bugs. These are NOT onions, they are supposed to be rutabagas.
But the bugs have completely stripped the stems. They're coming out.
The cauliflower look a little better, but I'm not optimistic. I think I've found all the
bugs though,so it shouldn't get worse if I can keep up with them.
I've decided one of these, or maybe two, need to come out.
It would be a great place for my apple tree!


A volunteer butternut squash. It's making mowing a bit difficult.
There's also a tomato of some kind back there.
baby butternut

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Adventures in Sourdough: Pizza on the Grill

Since I have been so busy lately, my sourdough starter has moved to a smaller jar, a jar that lives in the fridge. So I'm not using it as often, but I also don't have to worry about feeding it as often. When I need it, I pull it out, stir it up and sit it out in the laundry room to warm up for about a day. Which I did Monday. Tuesday was BBQ chicken pizza day.

I mixed up the sourdough pizza crust recipe from gnowfglins and let it sit for about an hour while I tried to tame the tomato jungle on Tuesday. Then used about 1/2 the dough for the pizza and put the other half on the table to sour some more*. I rolled it out with some cornmeal on the pizza peel.

I also had a whole chicken in the fridge that needed to be pulled apart, which I did. I took about 1 1/2 cups of the already-cooked chicken and warmed it up in a skillet with a little bacon grease. Once that was warm, I added about a cup of tomato sauce and about 1/4 cup of some barbecue sauce. I stirred that up and spread it out on the pizza. Then I just shredded some cheese on top.

Usually, I would also saute some onions and peppers in with the chicken. But, I didn't have any peppers on hand and I really didn't feel like cutting an onion. Since I used pre-made sauce, I didn't think it would be missed too much. (And I confess, it was store bought sauce from Trader Joe's! Hubby loves the stuff, but I guess it's a step up from Sweet Baby Rays, right? LOL)

My grill was preheated and I just slid it right on the grate. I wasn't a believer in grilled pizza, but it does work, I promise! No gooey dough falling between the cracks. It helps to get the grill good and hot when you first start and then turn it down a little after you put it on. Moving it over to indirect heat can also help. You don't want too much of a flame because that can cause the bottom to burn before the top is done.

Despite my initial trepidation, it doesn't fall through!

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a finished picture, and we ate it all, so, I promise it was good! It should take about 15 minutes, but check it after 10. Depending on your grill temperature and the weather (hotter outside = hotter inside the grill!), it can take up to 30 minutes.

 I've had an issue before where I put too much cheese on and it melted over the side. Which, of course, caused it to flame up and smoke...which wasn't good. But no worries, I was able to save the pizza!

Almost ready, yum!!


*With the rest of the dough, we had cheesy garlic bread with dinner on Wednesday. Rolled it out on a stone bar pan, spread some of my whipped garlic butter on and topped with freshly grated parm. I baked it while the pasta was cooking on 400°F. It was DELICIOUS!


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Menu Monday - Eating from the Pantry


I usually keep a very well-stocked pantry and buy my groceries according to what's on sale. Then, I use what I have to create meals, not necessarily what I've purchased. (Other than fresh veggies that is!) However, for the next two weeks, I will be attempting to do pantry-only cooking. This will be make a little easier by our garden, which is currently still providing us with Pac Choi and snow peas (though I believe the peas are going to come to an end this week. There haven't been many to pick the last couple days.) I also replanted some lettuces and spinach that should be ready to start eating soon. I also have an abundance of carrots and broccoli left from this weekend. My brother-in-law was married and I provided relish/veggie/cheese trays. I over-estimated on these two items, but better safe than sorry!

Why the grocery boycott? Well, to put it simply, money. Hubby and I are finally, I believe, on the same page with money and are really trying to buckle down to pay down the mountain of debt we face. I will try to post monthly totals so we can be accountable to someone other than ourselves. Totals are better than they were earlier, but we haven't made much progress due to a lot of things.

This past week has seen us pay out $800 to fix Hubby's truck, which was barely drivable due to brakes that didn't work and I will be receiving a medical bill shortly for $350. I love it when you get the explanation of  benefits denying a claim a full month before you get the bill. The suspense is killing me!

Anyway, on to the menu!


  • Monday - Chili in the crockpot. This time I used more beans and only 1 pound of meat. I usually double the recipe and mix 1 lb ground beef with 1 lb cut up stew meat. I didn't this time, and I don't think he noticed! Need to make pulled pork for lunches from the leftover pork roast and soak and dry oats for granola bars.
  • Tuesday - BBQ chicken pizza on the grill. It's gonna be about 92 tonight, not factoring in the humidity. I'm trying to avoid using the oven or the stove if I can. Pizza on the grill is delicious, in case you didn't know! Need to make granola bars and assemble some freezer burritos for hubby. If it's too hot to make meat...I'll put it off until the weekend. I also need to blanch and freeze a bunch of broccoli (and maybe carrots?) left from this weekend. I'm also hoping to get out and tie up the tomatoes. We had a LOT of stormy weather this past weekend, and being away at the wedding the whole time, I haven't had a chance to get them upright!
  • Wednesday - Crockpot chicken and dumplings. I'm also hoping to make some icecream if I have time.
  • Thursday - Tortellini with meat sauce and yellow squash. This will be my LAST jar of tomato sauce from last summer. Thankfully, my mom has given me some of hers, so I have a few left, but she uses cinnamon in her sauce, and Hubby doesn't really like it all that well. I usually use it in things, like the chili, rather than as a stand-alone red sauce. I would like to get some zucchini bread and hamburger buns made. I've also got some more chard to harvest as well as basil, stevia, oregano and probably some other herbs.
  • Friday - Not sure yet, I'm thinking hamburgers and sweet corn with the neighbors.
  • Saturday - chicken stirfry with pac choi and snow peas. I need to make some more dog treats, probably a triple batch this time! I also hope to make some peanut butter. In the garden, the peas will get pulled and replanted for the fall and the fence will, I'm praying, get it's second coat.
  • Sunday - I'm thinking I'll make a lasagna to have for lunches next week to. If the painting gets done Saturday, Sunday will be the day to get to work on the berry patches. One side will be raspberries and blueberries and the other will be strawberries. I'd also like to work on some chicken pot pie/calzone type things for Hubby's lunches next week.



Looks like a busy week. Hopefully I can get it done!

For more menus, visit The Organizing Junkie!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Strike That, Reverse It!

So, what's the only thing worse than planning leftovers that don't get left over? Anyone, anyone? How about planning those leftovers on a pot roast in the freezer that turns out to be soup bones! Ugh. And there's no way I can promise my Hubby and his friend pot roast and potatoes as he walks out the door for to have him come home to...nothing in the crockpot! What's a girl to do?

Pic courtesy of Flickr Photo Commons, from the Library of Virginia


Well, I am very thankful that there is a Kroger in town. At 6:30am I threw on some yoga pants and put my hair in a ponytail and went grocery shopping. I found a beef brisket on Manager's special for 6.66. That'll do. Dinner was saved. Not my most proud moment though. They at it up, and even saved me some. I asked how it was and they said it was a little dry. I'm not sure how something with that much fat cooked in red wine and chicken stock all day in a slow cooker can be dry, but whatever. I didn't think it was dry!

But, alas, there is not enough left for bbq beef for 6 people. So, I still have to rethink that. And I'm pretty sure my idea of chicken stirfry tonight will not be looked positively by the rest of my household (that's just Hubby...the animals don't really care what I make for dinner. Though I'm pretty sure Tex just hopes I drop some of whatever it is!).

We've got lots of ground beef in the fridge, I'll probably do something with that. Or maybe the cauliflower soup and ham that's been in the freezer for a few months now. Soup doesn't usually sound good when it's 90+ outside and so humid it may or may not be drizzling. But, right now I'm drinking tea, so you never know!