Monday, September 24, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - 9/24

Well, best laid plans?  What a week, what a week end. I am trying to stay on track with my menu planning, and of course that means linking my post to Menu Plan Monday over at Organizing Junkie.  I really would recommend that you take a while and look over all the other post of menu plans as well. I love reading them and getting inspired and picking up great tips.

So...went camping over the week end.  I got sick, didn't even ride my quad any this time. I was able to sit in the cooler mountains, in the quite, while the rest of the family went out on a ride and got started working on a plan for a cooking session.  I want to get back to the OAMC and hope to do this in smaller batches, working up to cooking a whole month's worth of dishes in a weekend.  Then, in the middle of all this, I realize I have not figured out what we will be having this week.  I hate coming in after a week end, rushing to get cleaned up, something to eat, get some sleep and then run full out to start another week.  Hubby is off to work, but he informs me he has done something to his knee and needs help putting on his socks and shoes because he can't bend it.  Daughter has to be at school early because she has zero period and doesn't drive yet.  For those who don't period means that they are at school way early so that they can attend a class - a whole class period - before the actual school day starts. Then it is off to meet up with daughter-in-law to pick up Mister for the day. Not to mention that the house...once again...looks like a tornado ran through it from packing for the trip. I am behind on laundry, cleaning, and sorting through the rest of the boxes in our room.

That's how it goes around here, so this week is going to be simple cooking.  Here is what's cooking this week.
Mon. - Beef stroganoff, noodles, salad
Tue. - Out to eat for youngest son's birthday.  He turned 23 this past Friday, will be heading back to college this week.
Wed. - Fish, pea salad, corn fritters (from a very old recipe book)
Thu. - Sausage, potatoes, green beans
Fri. - Meatball soup
Sat. - Sandwiches
Sun. - Roast, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls

No new recipes, except for the corn fritters...also known as corn oysters, fried corn...which is from a really old cookbook I have.  More about that in another post.  The rest of the dishes are either old stand by meals or pre-cooked from the store that I am trying to use up so I can have the space for meals from scratch that I have made ahead.  Bring in the OAMC strategy.

So, I am off to see what I can get done today.  Thanks for stopping in and please leave me a comment.  It is always nice to know that some one reads this once in a while.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

One of Those Days

Do you ever have one of those days?  You know, you have planned all week for this day to get here because you have a list of things to get done.  The grand son, Mister, is visiting the other grand parents today so you have the house to your self.  Miss Zebra has an early dismissal today, she will be able to help you with the recycle things. I have a list of things to bake ahead, a list of things to get together for the up coming camping trip.  Then the morning gets here...just don't want to do crap.

I have been trying to come down with something.  Not sure if it is a summer cold, allergies, or just a flu bug but it is to the point that I would almost rather go down and get it over with than the day after day up and down of feeling good and feeling bad.  Guess I will just keep carrying my tissue box around from room to room.  Also, I have come to the conclusion that I am obsessing over the little things a little too much.  Mainly,  it is driving me crazy trying to figure out what I am going to do with a cat for two days while we go on a camping trip.

I REALLY need this camping trip.  I need to get away. I should be looking forward to it.  Instead, I am worrying about what to do with a cat...a kitten actually.  Hubby, smart as he thinks he is, suggested just letting the kitten have free run of the house.  In my mind automatically flashes images of the cat hopping up on the hutch and all the antique dishes from my mom being turned in to pieces best cleaned up and used for some mosaic craft project.  The other little nagging item in my head is the fact that I need to work on cleaning our bedroom up, catching up on laundry, mopping floors, dusting and so forth.

Daughter's kitten.  Angel

Son's visiting cat.  Boogey
Boogey has issues.  Lots of issues.  He is a really weird cat.  Nice to be around, loves to be petted and such.  Just really afraid of many, many things.  He is living in our bathroom until our son, Mr. College, goes back to school this week end.  In fact, he lives in a cabinet in the bathroom.  Let me tell you, it is a really weird feeling to be reading while sitting on the toilet and suddenly have some furry tail rub around you thighs and always flick at a really intimate junction of the body.  Enough said I think.  Also freaks me out a bit when he pops his head up beside the bathtub, between the tub and shower curtain, to say hello.  He is a rather vocal cat on to other topics.

This is the MOST AMAZING pastry.  It is some type of pastry that has an almond cream filling and baked with almonds on top. I buy them at the farmer's market from a vendor that comes over from LA.  I was trying to be all cool and ask her what it was called...thinking I would be able to Google it and find a recipe.  She told me it was called and Elfroy.  Thinking I was so clever, got home, brought up Google and found Elfroy.  Elfroy is the brand name of the cream filling.  Found tons of links for places to buy the stuff.  Great information to have, if I wanted to buy it for my bakery or restaurant, if I had one.  However, the pastry part is what I was really interested in.  I just cannot figure out what the dough is.  It is not really sweet or yeasty like a sweet roll.  It is flaky, buttery, like a croissant, but not crusty like a baked croissant.  Guess I still have a little research and trial and error cooking yet to go.

Well, Momma always said that getting your done made a person feel better.  Think I will just go see about that.  I think I will go get my hair fixed, pick up some dog food, then go to Golden Corral for an early lunch.  They make liver and onions week days.  I do love liver.

Thanks for stopping by, leave a comment for me, come back again.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Menu 9/17

Thanks for stopping by.  I am once again linking up to Organizing Junkie to post my Menu Plan Monday.  I missed staying on track a couple of days, but I cooked at home each day.  So, it is was a partial success.  I am thinking that instead of planning each day, maybe I need to plan just a week of meals.

So, this coming week is going to look a bit like this:

Monday - Taquito Enchilada Casserole from Crockin' Girls.
Tues. - Beer Butt Chicken, mashed potatoes, fried okra
Wed. - Sausage and Pasta, salad
Thu. - Clean out fridge
Fri. - Going Camping
Sat. - Camping
Sun. - Unpacking

This is all kind of tentative, but that is the plan.  I have to go hit the store early in the morning to pick up a couple of things I need for the Monday meal.  Crockin' Girls are pretty awesome.  They have written a cookbook, they are two friends. At any rate, they send a notice to their blog subscribers on Friday listing all the ingredients you need to fix the dishes on Monday.  Usually two dishes.  This week it is the Taquito Enchilada Casserole and Slow Cooking Smores cake.  Then on Monday they do a short video on how to put the dishes together.  I won't be making the dessert, I am making Chocolate Sheath Cake, recipe to follow in another blog.

On to other topics. I bought a couple of new crock pots this week end.  One was just a replacement, small 4 quart, basic crock.  The second one though is the coolest little thing I have seen.
Now, it really isn't so much a slow cooker as it is a warmer.  But the cool thing is that you can have three different items staying warm at the same time, individual controls, plus compartments for crackers, veggie sticks, decorative toothpicks or what ever you need.  It is on a turn table, lazy susan style as well.  Comes with little lids and a carry tote. My daughter saw it when she got home and immediately planned a party to use it.

I finally got the last of the bigger boxes unpacked so have my craft room, sewing room, studio, diva den, what ever I call it, back up and running.
I kept my mom's entertainment center because I like the glass door with the shelves.  I filled the shelves with beads, beading supplies, ribbons, machine embroidery threads, buttons, sequences and such. The opposite end opens designed to hold videos (yes, VHS tapes, it is that old) but I found that those shelves are the perfect size for my Cricut cartridges and Sizzix dies.

This is the closet, with out the doors.  Believe I will just leave the doors off to make it easier to access the whole closet easier.  I will be making some fabric curtains to hang over it so it will be closed off but quite easy to work in.

My cheap shelves. Adjustable to suit my whims.  That is my mom's Kenmore sewing machine in it's wooden cabinet.  All original.  My parents adopted me, they got me in February and Dad bought this for Mom for the following Mother's Day.  I know I should sell it, don't use it, although it works perfectly, even still have all the original cams to use for decorative stitching. When I was little, like 4 or 5 years old, this sewing cabinet sat in front of her bedroom window and when she was sewing she would pull it out from the window and let me stand behind it and pull the straight pins out as the item came through.  It is a powerful, sweet memory. Needless to say, I just can't bring myself to part with it.  The chair is hers too, but really is a bit too big for the room.  Even though it is comfortable, it just isn't working, but I have a little plan working in my head to move the chair in to the living room.  Will see how that works out.
These are my cheaper shelves.  They came with the house.  I have moved them around to three different rooms in this house, but am really glad I have them.  They hold so much. Yes...I know...two whole shelves of rubber stamps and inks is a bit...much...but hey, when I get an idea I like to have everything I need to work on it.

I still have a few (like about 6 - 7) boxes of various sizes of paper to figure out where to put. But for the time being I may just leave them.  Not really in the mood yet to work on paper crafts.  I will though, I do have all the rubber stamps, inks, embossing supplies and such up on the shelves.  I also do have empty shelf space on one end of the closet to slowly start bringing out the fabric.  LOTS of fabric. The room has a different feel to it, different furniture and different lay out.  I think it will work out well in the end.  I just sat and looked at it all, felt it all, it really felt calm peace.  I need that.

Now, I can work on sewing and crocheting.
This is the latest project.  Spiderman afghan for my #2 grand son.  Mr. W.  He just turned two.  I am actually quite a bit further on it than this shows.  The last time I took a photo of it was just before Mom starting getting ill.  I took it along to most of her doctor appointments, scans and such.  Then all my craft stuff was packed up to turn the room in to a bedroom for my mom, she passed in July, now it is a craft room again.  Side circle of life I guess.  But...even though it is still in the high 90's temp is fall.  Football nights, cooler weather soon, so it is crochet time.  I am actually planning on taking it with me this week end on our camping/dirt bike riding trip.  I don't ride as long as the rest of the family, so take little projects to work on, books to read, writing projects or such.  I use to take all my menu planning seems to have gotten a little too large to tote around.  Especially since I had to move it from file box to a metal file cabinet.

Thanks for stopping by, feel free to leave a comment.  I am off to tackle more chores and some baking...if Mister is in a good mood today.  Yeah, life with a toddler, loving every minute of it too.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Strange Days

It has really been some strange days around here.  I have been getting quite a bit done, the proof is in the collection of empty boxes I know have in my drive way.  One more large box to unpack and I think my little Diva Den will be back to normal.  I have found that things are not quite flowing the way I had hoped, but I will work on that.  Mainly, I just really need to figure out a way to get some little table or empty shelf by my chair that I can set a drink on and then find some way to keep up with the TV controllers.

Other than that, Miss Zebra has decided to bring home strep throat.  Had her at the doctor Tuesday.  And, now that she has her driver's permit, is driving me crazy with always wanting to drive me every where.  Of course we won't mention that she drove her dad to the drug store and almost drove through the wall of the store.  No...we won't mention that.

So, I haven't stayed on the menu plan very well this week, but except for Monday I have cooked at home each day.  I know, this is only Thursday.  But, it is a good, super duper job, for me.  The only reason I didn't cook Monday was because I was feeling bad, daughter (Miss Zebra) was home sick all day, had the grand son, was unpacking boxes, and the neighborhood Little Caesar's (as in literally 6 blocks from the house) was running a customer appreciation sale and was able to get the pizza for $3.99 each.  I can't make one for that.

I had planned to get back on my plan today. That would be the brisket, but I made that yesterday.  Only because I had not planned well and the meat had been thawed already. That is why my Monday meal was moved to Tuesday, the meat was thawed.  I have no idea why I planned Chicken scampi, well, probably to use my new pasta maker again.  At any rate, Thursday's brisket was made on Wednesday.  Now, I could just move everything up a day and make the ham and scalloped potatoes today, or go back and pick up either the chicken scampi or just make the egg rolls today.  However, Miss Zebra and I both have been craving enchiladas lately and since it is a tad bit cooler today, if high 90's is cool, I decided that will be our meal for this evening.  I have already checked the pantry and have everything I need, just need to buy some more cheese, which I have to get anyway no matter what I make.  Now, this week end it is supposed to be back in the 100's so will also be buying a new crock pot today.  Mine is cooking way to hot and am afraid it will burn the house down or something.

So, it is time to go pick up Mister, thankfully he is very good in the store.  Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, September 10, 2012

MPM - 9/10

I have had the most trying and most fun day in a long time.

First off, I am pleased to say that I have met my goal of keeping up with my menu plans.  I want to plan several weeks ahead, but at the moment doing one week at a time is at least forward progress after going so many  months with out doing them.  I will be linking up with MPM once again.

So, I am posting this menu plan for this week:

Sun. - Slow cooker Pork roast, Green beans, homemade pasta with pesto sauce
Mon. - Stuffed peppers, rice, salad (this may change)
Tues. - Garlic Chicken Scampi, homemade pasta, green salad
Wed.  - Egg rolls, fried rice, wonton soup
Thurs. - Brisket, beans, potato salad 
Fri. - Slow cooker scalloped potatoes and ham, pea salad.
Sat. - Left Overs

The beauty of menu planning is that you can be as strict with it or just use it as a tentative guide.  Here, we use it as a tentative plan.  1. I am still getting back in to the groove of menu planning, so things come up that I forgot to plan for.  2. Our routine for the family this time of year is always last minute kind of changes going on.  That's why, for me it just a kind of road map to follow but still has room for sight seeing.  

For example, I had planned out my first menu plan for the week, making up meals that would use up the left overs.  In other words planned left overs.  Only one problem, that little 2 pound pork shoulder roast just didn't have enough meat left over for four more meals.  Also, I used a different recipe tonight, wanted a less spiced up recipe so any left over meat could be used for different recipes.  Didn't want the flavors competing so to speak.  Normally, my family doesn't much care for pork roast so there is lots of left over meat. Not this time, they really liked it.  I have to say, in all honesty, I liked it too.  I had almost given up on cooking pork roast because they just never seemed to come out right.  This recipe is out of my new Fix It and Forget It Big Cookbook that is for slow cookers.  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK. The recipe was super simple and has changed my mind about pork roast.
It really was good. Guess I said that already. Don't you just love those slow cooker liners? I won't post the recipe as that would be against copyright laws.

Back to the point, as I said, I had already planned the week's menu, making use of all those left overs.  Realizing there just wasn't that much left over, I had to redo the menu.  The second attempt had like three days of chicken in a row.  That would just never go over in this house.  Also, I realized as I cleaned out the fridge that I had some items that needed to be used sooner rather than later, so menu plan number three was formed. That is what I posted above, that is what I am going with.  Unless I go to the spare fridge tomorrow and find that the peppers have gone bad.  Then I will figure out something else.  My family would love to have beef and potatoes every night of the week, however, I am just not creative enough to pull that off so I try to be sure and not have the same meat two days in a row, vegetables either.  Besides, I dearly love my chicken and potatoes are not diabetic friendly to my body.

Menu planning is a best friend for the budget.  1. You know ahead and can plan for it.  2. No impulse buying because you now have a plan. 3. You can take advantage of sales or great buys you happen on. I am hoping to use menu planning and once a month cooking or bulk cooking to cut my grocery bill.  My goal is to cut it by 1/4 for the next two months, then 1/2 after that.  That is going to be hard because of holiday cooking, but I think I can do it.  I am going to give it my best try at any rate.  I actually have a very well stocked pantry, fridge and freezer so it really should be easy to accomplish.  Of course, there seems to be always something I am finding I am out of that I thought I had.  Am sure there will be small trips to the store a few times.  Hopefully a minimum amount.  If you need some inspiration for your menu planning, head on over to Organizing Junkie where she host Menu Plan Monday, hundreds of creative minds post their menus each Monday to share with all.

This was tonight's dinner.
It was really good and since there was not much left over, I know the family liked it too.  

The beans have a really long name, Pennsylvania Dutch Green Bean Casserole, but when Mom shared the recipe to be published in a cookbook for the Airstream club she called it Marinated Green Beans.  When I see "marinated" I just automatically think of Italian seasonings, oil, like marinade for meat. This recipe is sweet and sour thing with the mix of sugar and vinegar.

Marinated Green Beans

2 cans french cut green beans
1 med. onion, cut in rings (I usually end up cutting in half rings, gives me a flat side to cut the onion easier)
8 strips of bacon (I find that four is fine)
1/2 c. slivered almonds
6 T. sugar
4 T. vinegar

Drain beans, put in casserole dish.  Place separated onion over beans.  Fry bacon strips, save drippings.  Cut bacon strips in halves, lay over onion rings. (I chop my bacon before I cook it, so it is more diced) Add sugar and vinegar to the bacon drippings.  Heat drippings and pour over casserole.  Marinate several hours or overnight. (overnight is the best, but is still flavorful after about 4-6 hours) Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Takes a little prep time, but well worth it.

My other triumph tonight was my home made pasta.

 OH AM I SO GLAD I BOUGHT THIS MACHINE. I admit, there is a huge learning curve with the dough, but I am looking forward to making more.  I was a little nervous about the whole thing after reading some of the reviews of the people that did not like the machine.  I wondered if it truly was the machine, or as one reviewer put it, just a problem with their dough.  I whole heartily believe it is the dough.  My research, and an earlier attempt at making noodles, convinced me that it is very important to use the recipe provided with your machine. The proportions are different for different machines.  At first my dough was a little dry, added some water, then it was a little too wet.  I kept working with it and was able to get it going fairly well.  If the dough is too wet, it won't extrude correctly.  If the dough is too dry, the pasta won't keep it's shape. All in all, I considered it a success.  In fact, I had way too much pasta.  I have some in the freezer and will bag it up, see how that works.  I have some of the dough left over as well which I bagged up and put in the fridge.  I have no idea how that will work, but I hope to do a little more research and see if I can find away to preserve it or store it so I could make a large batch and just pull off what I need for the meal.

I don't know if it is the cat I am babysitting (my youngest son's), allergies, a late summer cold, or a mix of all three but I am sneezing, blowing my nose while trying to catch it from running away and my head feels like it weighs a ton. I am off to soak in the tub with some eucalyptus salts and then doing a little reading before I hit the bed.  Morning routine starts early around here, and then I will get Mister M. too.  Also, I have managed to go through most of my boxes of craft stuff, just have the fabric to stack on shelves.  Hubby finally got my sewing table put together tonight as well.  The diva den, craft studio, is almost back in place and ready to start having some creating going on. Kind of bitter sweet though, found three projects that I was supposed to complete for my mom and didn't.  Now that she is gone, it kind of hurts to come across them knowing that I didn't finish them for her.

Thanks for stopping by, come again soon.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lazy Day

I had a really lazy day yesterday, went to church and that's about it.  I did look over a lot of blogs for menu planning and wandered around Pinterest looking at recipes and home decor photos.  Gotta love that Pinterest.

I am running a bit behind on my organizing, so haven't really gotten my meal plan refined, but this is what the week is shaping up to look like.

Mon. - Hubby's birthday - going out
Tue. - Pineapple Chicken meatballs, cheese tortellini Alfredo, salad
Wed. - Baked Chicken, carrots, green beans
Thu. - Sloppy Joe's
Fri. - Pulled pork, beans, pasta

I will be linking up with Meal Plan Monday over on Organizing Junkie.  If you need some inspiration, head over and take a look.  All kinds of menu plans are posted, some are special diet plans (gluten free, vegetarian, kid friendly)

I am still fine tuning the plan, am going to be getting a few more weeks planned out as well based on what I have on hand.  I am trying to knock down the budget, save where I can.  After cleaning, sorting and writing down an inventory of what I have, it will be much easier to use what I have.  I did do a massive buy on Saturday at the local WinCo store which is all the way across town, but went to the farmer's market and a couple of other errands that had me driving that way anyway. I will be having to go back to WinCo to talk to a manager about my receipt, they rang up an item wrong and I will be seeing if they will refund me the difference. Normally I wouldn't waste the gas, but this is a significant mistake, like about $7.  That is two gallons of milk, which is what I will be buying when I am there, along with some little things I forgot.  I spent $160, no coupons, mostly no sale items.  The meat was on sale, and there were two magazines.  Now that I am really seriously cutting the budget, I will be seeing just how long I can make this buy last.  If all goes as planned, it will be the end of the month before I have to do a large purchase.  I will have to of course buy the usual (bread, milk, pet food) items that I don't stock up on, that we go through quickly.

Speaking of my WinCo trip. I saw this and had to take a photo. Fifty Shades series.
Now, while I haven't read this series, I have heard a lot about them.  They have been on the top 100 books at for a long time.  I even, as bad as I hate to do it, had to ask my oldest daughter about the books.  She is who I go to, and my sweet daughter in law, when I need to know about current things concerning books, meaning of slang, or social issues.  All things I am some what sheltered from. At any rate, from what she told me about the books, they are NOT children's books.

Now, I told you I would post photos of my spice cabinet and product storage.

This is the before. Every thing was just thrown in where ever it would fit or land.  The products (foil, baggies, wax paper) was especially chaotic.

Now then, you have the after.  I am having a little trouble getting the photos to go where I want, but you can get the idea.So, now I have it all organized. I found that I had duplicate boxes of several items open and being used.  For example, slow cooker liners (Man I love those things) I had three boxes, all open and being used.  I took all of the bags from those boxes and placed them in to one box.  I did the same with my reusable bags. (gallon, pint, quart, sandwich and snack) Tried to put the most used at the front of the cabinet.  Kind of hard since almost all it gets used on a daily basis, sometimes several times a day. There just isn't any good way to store my baking sheets and cupcake pans. Put at least it looks a little better.  Of course, I went and bought a jumbo cupcake pan to add to the mess.  I love a big muffin for breakfast.  Cupcake size just seems a little small sometimes.  I had a mix for banana nut that I promptly mixed up to give the new pan a try.  I had a banana that was a few minutes away from needed to be trash, so I saved it and mashed it up in the mix, added a little bit of rum flavoring as well. The taste was AWESOME, the texture was not.  The bottom and sides of the muffins all stuck to the paper liners, really stuck as in 1/4 of the muffin stayed on the paper, and the texture was very dense and had large hollow spots.  Not sure what happened with that, have never had that happen to me.

On a brighter note.  My hubby finally got around to hanging one of the stain glass pieces my dad made.  This is one is called "The Cowboy" and is special because he framed it out and wired it for lighting.

When we moved my mom from Texas to California, my oldest daughter took it to her house.  That was about three years ago.  She never got around to getting it hung at her house.  When my mom passed away, we took her ashes to Texas to be buried next to my dad.  My daughter gave me "The Cowboy" to take to home for a while.  With the remodeling they are doing and two active boys, she was afraid it would get broken.  We did find a crack in the glass, but there is no telling when that happened.  It is only noticeable if you know where to look.  My dad was a veteran, so that is his flag from his funeral and then the shadow box has all the medals he earned during the war.  He also built the bookcase that we are now using to hold DVDs.  Guess my kids will tell me I have built a shrine to my dad, but I just don't really care.

Today is hubby's birthday, we will be going out somewhere this evening.  He hasn't said where yet.  Guess I better get moving, have some more cleaning to get done while I don't have the little guy.  Thanks for stopping by and drop in again soon.  Feel free to leave a comment, it is always nice to know that some one has read this.