BLOGTOBER – DAY 15 – MEAL PLANNING

Today’s topic is meal planning which is a topic near and dear to my everyday way of life, but the fall is especially a fun time for meal planning with all the holidays, parties and family get togethers.

Meal planning for me can be a rather in depth process as we don’t do fast food 99% of the time and I cook MOST of the time.  Cooking for me is from scratch – no boxes, no cans to speak of.  When I meal plan I try really hard to arrange my recipes back to back to make the most of my fresh ingredients especially when I need expensive fresh herbs or veggies.

For the past couple of years I had tried MANY of the more reliable and popular Dinner Home Delivery services out there – Blue Apron, Home Chef, Hello Fresh, Gobble… At first it seemed like a great idea while we were still working on A House From Hell.  I had an offer emailed from a friend for a nice discount to give Blue Apron a try…  Long story short the recipes started to repeat themselves, the selection of recipes dwindled to where I was skipping more weeks than I was ordering and the issues that required customer service became more and more while the service became slower and slower while also less accommodating.  I even encountered a customer service line that was outsourced to somewhere that English was not their first language and the communication barrier was unbelievable!

Well, all I can say after this last box is NO MORE!!! Gobble is the last one we tried and I was SORELY DISAPPOINTED!  There was a HUGE discount to give them a try and I STILL overpaid for what arrived.  NOT only were many of the ingredients NOT fresh, many were also pre-prepared and not well at that! The original goal was to save time and money while trying some new and innovative recipes, but since that is NOT the end result I’ve cancelled all the services and will be back to doing my own planning and shopping.

This seemed like a good time to re-run this section on how I menu plan and save money while doing it.

There is more to menu planning than just deciding what to make for dinner, at least for the average family. We’re a military family used to getting paid once a month and trying to make it last. So for me, menu planning also encompasses recipe scouring, coupon clipping (we love to read the Sunday papers and have coffee. One of the things I always go for first is the coupons to see what I can save for us – hubby always laughs when I get excited at a large coupon for something already on the list – LOL), sale ad reading and logical common sense planning. I do participate in Menu Plan Monday, but I actually prepare my menu for the entire month all at once and then just break it up for posting. A little organization goes a long way.

I start the last week of the previous month with checking out what I already have in the freezer inventory and then the ads for my local markets for the upcoming week. I see what meats will be going on sale and then scour my recipe file for recipes to match. One of the biggest things I do to help not only with cost of ingredients, but also waste is to make sure that I back recipes up to each other that use similar ingredients that I can buy in bulk.

For example if a recipe calls for half an onion for Monday night’s recipe, I make sure Tuesday night’s recipe uses the other half. I also know which meals we’ll probably have leftovers for so I plan to either freeze part of it for a future meal or plan a C.O.R.N. (clean out refrigerator night) within my plan if there is only going to be a little of this and that leftover. I write my list and then I match up the coupons for whatever staples (flour, sugar, eggs, butter, etc…) I need and then the luxuries if there is room within the budget. If there is a really good sale I buy in super bulk for the following month also. Now I know this sounds like a lot of work, but the whole process takes less than an hour and then it’s done for the month.

It seems I have every scrap of a recipe I have ever saved as well as many of my grandma’s too. It’s like an obsession with me. If a recipe sounds good in a magazine, I figure I can make it better based on my family’s likes and dislikes and tuck it away to try and manipulate at a later date. I recently decided it was time to clean-up this mess.

I found an old metal LP file box at a garage sale for 50 cents and dressed it up a bit so it didn’t look like a trash bin on my kitchen counter. (it was a beat up lime green with stickers everywhere). I have written 2 family reunion cook books in the past which helped some with eliminating the scraps of paper and I’m also in the midst of writing a Tastebook to use as family Christmas gifts that is helping to clean up this mess on a permanent basis.

I have a perpetual list on the counter and every time we use something or run out of something, everyone is trained (finally) to list whatever they used or ran out of on an ongoing basis.

We keep a pretty concise calendar with everyone’s activities, appointments, meetings and such on it. I also write what we will be eating on each day so they’ll know what to expect. If for some reason we have to cancel a night I will rearrange the week so that the meal actually canceled is one using something from the freezer, not the fresh ingredients I’ve already purchased. When I do the shopping I buy in bulk to cut the cost and since I have my menu planned ahead of time, I break down the bulk package into meal appropriate sizes before freezing when I get home.

I originally wrote this post years ago, but nothing has changed – I still do things exactly the same.

I start with LARGE bulk packs of meat.  I then break them down by size and meat right down to cutting certain recipes into bite sized pieces.  Then I wrap them in freezer paper because I really hate freezer burn!  And I package them into pre-labeled ziploc bags for the freezer.

PINEAPPLE CHILI MEATBALLS

This recipe makes 70 meatballs making it perfect for a crowd, tailgating party, church potluck or freeze in batches for quick weeknight meals.

HONEY GARLIC GLAZED MEATBALLS
2 pounds ground beef
1 cup PANKO bread crumbs
2 LARGE eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons each FRESH sea salt and black pepper
1/2 cup finely diced Vidalia onion
3 LARGE cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon butter

SAUCE
1/2 cup Smucker’s Pineapple Preserves
1/3 cup Sweet Red Chili Sauce
6 ounces orange juice
3 tablespoons Teriyaki sauce

  • Spray baking racks with non-stick cooking spray and place on baking trays. Set aside.
  • Whisk together the milk and eggs in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add bread crumbs, onion, salt and pepper, stirring to combine.
  • Crumble ground beef over milk mixture and combine well.
  • Shape into ping pong size balls.
  • Place each meatball on a baking rack.
  • Baked uncovered 12-15 minutes until cooked through.

While meatballs are baking start sauce.

  • Whisk together all the ingredients and bring to a SLOW boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes more.
  • Add meatballs to sauce, gently turning to coat.
  • Cook for 5-10 minutes.

BLOGTOBER – DAY 14 – FALL CLOTHING

Today’s prompt was fall clothing.  I absolutely adore fall and I especially love it when we’re living in the north and the weather has a REAL season.  I pretty much wear Levis year round, but come fall it’s all about what you put with the Levis that counts!  Lots and lots of layers and comfy sweaters and comfier shoes!  Here are a few pictures from Pinterest of some of my favorite fall styles.  Under those sweaters are soft and simple camis or lightweight cotton shirts.  I love going barefoot as often as possible, but come fall whenever I go outside I have to have seriously comfy and warm footwear!

HAPPY HOMEMAKER & MENU PLAN MONDAY week 42 of 2019

Be sure to join us and link up with
Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for Happy Homemaker Monday

GOOD MORNING dear friends.  I hope you had a wonderful week and weekend.  Ours was busy, but good. Hubby and I got a lot of projects accomplished and he’s about halfway through scrubbing all the gutters and covers down from the inevitable grunge that builds up in this type of climate.  We attended some local events, watched NASCAR and Football.  I did get some crafting time in as well as some “cookbook” time too 🙂 I was supposed to get some munchkin craft time on Sunday, but it was postponed to next Sunday.

We’re still dealing with illness around here and I’m really not sure how I have avoided getting any of it with my lack of immunity, but I guess staying in my ‘cave’ has paid off. 

My mom is doing better, but has a way to go.  My stepdad was finally moved from the hospital to a rehab facility to regain his strength and we have an appointment with his case manager later this morning.  Unfortunately, they are just not doing enough to keep him motivated and working forward in my opinion letting him wallow in his own self pity 🙁

OUTSIDE MY WINDOW & THE WEATHER OUTSIDE & WHAT I’M WEARING It’s cooler weather, gray and rainy again here in the Pacific North West and I’m loving it! I have on my normal ‘uniform’ of Levis,  a brown long sleeve tee shirt and pink plaid flannel with my beige POPS.

ON THE BREAKFAST PLATE Hot water, peach yogurt and a Tillamook medium cheddar cheese stick

AS I LOOK AROUND THE HOUSE, WEEKLY TO DO LIST, HOUSE & CRAFT PROJECTS, APPOINTMENTS

  • LAUNDRY, LIVING AREAS & KITCHEN… need a bit of sprucing up
  • YARD… HA HA we did have a flower bed that needs replacing that we planning on starting this week, but depending on the rain will probably wait.  The plant itself needs cut back so we will probably get that accomplished though.
  • APPOINTMENTS & TO DO… meet with stepdad’s case manager to work on getting him out of the rehab center, hubby has a VA appointment and last week’s fun day with the munchkins to make pumpkins was postponed until this week…
  • BLOG… BLOGTOBER, BLOGMAS, recipes
  • CRAFTS/PROJECTS… I finished my Pumpkin family on Saturday and you can find the directions here to make your own 😀 Also, it’s 72 days to Christmas Are you handmade gifts ready?

ON MY MIND  A post from my facebook memories from several years ago popped up the other day and I hate to admit I had second thoughts about re-sharing it despite it being about how I really feel.  The entire social media platform and how easily offended people are recently concerned me.  So I decided NOT to re-share it – at least not to re-share it there as I just don’t want to start any arguments or feel the need to defend myself or my beliefs.  I am sharing it here though because this is MY space and I believe this to be true.

“NOTE, CORRECTION & EDIT: LET ME BEGIN BY SAYING THAT THE FOLLOWING IS NOT AN ABSOLUTE ABOUT ALL PEOPLE. Just my perception at the time.

THANK YOU TO ALL THE WONDERFUL SAHM AND PARENTS WHO ALREADY FEEL AND ACT THIS WAY!

We have a cultural decay problem in this country. Life as we once knew it will NEVER be again. We have a lack of parenting problem in this country. As parents our jobs are to raise children into functioning adults first and to be their friend second. Teaching children to be independent, hard working, respectful, happy and gracious is the best thing you can do for them, you and for ALL the people they will encounter in the future. Teaching them about the ups AND the downs of life is realistic.

There is an apathy, a lack of respect, a lack of accountability, a lack of responsibility, a lack of courtesy… A silver spoon entitlement complex is taking over. Political correctness has become an insane concept trying to make life fair. WAKE UP PEOPLE! Life ISN’T fair and NO ONE every said it would be. Doing the best you can each and everyday is all you can really control.

Watching the news is not always just hearing the factual events as it once was. Commentary and social media have taken over – everyone wants to be the first to break the “NEWS” whether it is complete or correct. Fact checking seems to be a thing of the past in many cases. Spin doctors manipulate news every day.”

WHAT IS ON THE DVR, I LIKE OR ON THE LIST TO WATCH/SOMETHING INTERESTING I WATCHED I think we’ve tried all the new shows and have weeded things out quite a bit as of this last week.  Some of the old favorites are still at the top of the list and a few of the new shows made the cut.  Unfortunately and sadly some of the new shows I had high hopes for just aren’t holding up to the hype 🙁 Still on the list are:

  • COMEDIES – Young Sheldon, The Good Place, American Housewife, Almost Family, God Friended Me, The Unicorn, Perfect Harmony?, Bless This Mess?
  • MILITARY, POLITICAL & CRIME DRAMAS and a couple that qualify as comedies – NCIS, NCIS New Orleans and NCIS LA, S.W.A.T., Seal Team, Macgyver, Law & Order SVU, Blue Bloods, Hawaii 5-0, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Chicago Med, Bull, FBI, All Rise, Bluff City Law, 911, Evil, Stumptown, The Rookie AND for their final seasons Criminal Minds, Madam Secretary, Blindspot
  • DRAMAS & REALITY – The Good Doctor, This Is Us, The Resident, New Amsterdam, The Masked Singer, Dancing with The Stars
  • SYFY – Emergence, The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, Flash, Supergirl, DC Legends, Orville, Supernatural (Final Season)
  • HALLMARK – Cedar Cove, Christmas Movies, When Calls the Heart
  • COOKING – Guy’s Grocery Games, Beat Bobby Flay, Worst Cooks in America Celebrity, Holiday Baking Championship, Kid’s Baking Championship, Master Chef Jr., Master Chef
  • AMAZON – Mrs. Maisel

I’M READING Marie Force’s Deceived by Desire – I’ve read many of her series before, but this is the first period book of hers I’ve tried and I just started so am really undecided about it. 

FAVORITE PHOTO FROM THE CAMERA We got up early to attend a local FLEA Market that was raising funds for the Museum in their town and these are a few of the shots along the way that really tell the story about our foggy mornings up here 😀  Unfortunately the FLEA market itself was a bust, but the antique stores in town all took advantage of the FLEA market and set up vendor sales in the parking lots that were worth getting up early for 😀 along with these early morning pictures.

INSPIRATION & A FUNNY

HEALTH & BEAUTY TIPS

HOMEMAKING/COOKING TIP

MENU PLANS FOR THE WEEK
MONDAY – BEEF RAGU & SALAD
TUESDAY – CREAMY CHICKEN & TOMATOES over MASHED POTATOES
WEDNESDAY – RED CHICKEN CHILI & CORN TORTILLAS
THURSDAY – C.O.R.N.
FRIDAY – CHICKEN HOT DISH & SALAD with TARRAGON VINAIGRETTE
SATURDAY – MAMA’S RETRO MEATLOAF & SALAD
SUNDAY – PAN SEARED CHICKEN with McGILLUCUDDY SAUCE & SALAD

SUCCESSFUL RECIPE LINKS FROM LAST WEEK

FEATURED PARTY LINKS FOR THIS WEEK

RECIPES TO LOOK FOR THIS NEXT WEEK

  • PINEAPPLE CHILI MEATBALLS
  • BALSAMIC CHARRED GARLIC CARROTS
  • LEMON LIME BARS
  • MEXICAN SOFRITO
  • SMASHED BANANA BREAD
  • FARMHOUSE HOT DISH

BLOGTOBER – DAY 13 – CURRENT CRAFT PROJECT

I started doing Blogtober with Sandra, but needed a bit more structure.  I found some old prompt lists and made my own compilation of those prompts.  I will start following it for the remainder of the month and try to backtrack to catch the earlier prompts too.

Today’s prompt is CURRENT CRAFT PROJECTS which is fitting as I did a tutorial on making these cute little guys.  You can find the “HOW TO” here for making your own Pumpkin family.

 

BUILD YOUR OWN PUMPKIN FAMILY

I found this fun for all, mixed-media pumpkin project over at Salvage Sister & Mister that uses wooden door frame corner rosettes to create vintage-inspired pumpkins to decorate your home. I fell in love with their simplicity, but still took it a step farther and made them three dimensional by giving them a front and a back and adding a bit more embellishment. They only took about an hour or so to complete my family of four. 😀 even with having to wait for the paint to dry, which was the hardest part! These make a great hostess gifts and look great throughout ALL the fall months, Halloween and Thanksgiving! 😀

SUPPLIES

  • Wooden Rosette Trim Block Molding Pieces – any size you like – I used several sizes to make a Pumpkin “Family”
  • Acrylic Paints – dark chocolate (I chose a metallic), 3-4 various orange colors ranging from bright to dark (I chose the medium orange as a metallic)
  • Ribbons – assorted scraps of green
  • Dollar Store embellishments – I used purple Tule, brown and black bells from door hangers, feathers from a Halloween boa and leaves from some fall flowers
  • Paintbrushes
  • Glue Gun and Glue Sticks
  • Scissors
  • Tree Branch from the yard
  • Garden Pruning Shears

INSTRUCTIONS
Step 1

  • Paint the rosettes with a base coat of Dark Chocolate. Let dry.
  • Apply a second coat, if necessary.

Step 2

  • Randomly apply Weathered Wood medium with paintbrush. Painting it thicker and randomly will result in a variety of cracks on your finished pumpkins.
  • Allow medium to dry completely, about 30 minutes.

Step 3

  • Using a limited amount of strokes, apply a thick coat of orange paint with a very limited number of strokes and do not paint over the same area more than once. As the paint dries it will crackle.
  • Large cracks will appear where the medium was put on thick and small cracks will appear where the medium was put on thin.

Step 4

  • Using your glue gun put an even amount of glue on the back of one rosette along the outer edge.  Immediately press to the second rosette together.
  • Clean off any glue that has oozed out and allow them to dry completely.
  • Weigh them down with wood clamps, a brick or large book to press them together securely.

Step 5

  • Cut tree branch into 1” to 1 ½” lengths with pruning shears and then attach to top, the center of each pumpkin with a glue gun. Or use a selection of curled wired wood.

Step 7

  • Gather a variety of green ribbons, trimmed into 6” lengths and then knot in the center.
  • Attach at base of pumpkin stem with a glue gun.
  • Decorate as desired with spare bits and pieces from your craft room.

HONEY GARLIC GLAZED MEATBALLS

This recipe makes 70 meatballs making it perfect for a crowd, tailgating party, church potluck or freeze in batches for quick weeknight meals.

HONEY GARLIC GLAZED MEATBALLS
2 pounds ground beef
1 cup PANKO bread crumbs
2 LARGE eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons each FRESH sea salt and black pepper
1/2 cup finely diced Vidalia onion
3 LARGE cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup jalapeno ketchup
1/3 cup honey
3 tablespoons BRAGG’s liquid aminos

  • Spray baking racks with non-stick cooking spray and place on baking trays. Set aside.
  • Whisk together the milk and eggs in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add bread crumbs, onion, salt and pepper, stirring to combine.
  • Crumble ground beef over milk mixture and combine well.
  • Shape into ping pong size balls.
  • Place each meatball on a baking rack.
  • Baked uncovered 12-15 minutes until cooked through.

While meatballs are baking start sauce.

  • Melt butter in a LARGE sauce pan.
  • Add garlic, cooking until aromatic.
  • Whisk in the ketchup, honey and liquid aminos.
  • Bring to a SLOW boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes more.
  • Add meatballs to sauce, gently turning to coat.
  • Cook for 5-10 minutes.

BLOGTOBER – DAY 11 – Golden Light

I’ve joined Sandra over at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for Blogtober 2019.  I’m joining a bit late, but catching up as I can. 

Her prompt today is “Golden Light“.  I find myself laughing at this prompt.  This is a NO can do for me up here in the Pacific North West.  Where we are is literally a “MORNING FOG” area.  The good news is that when the fog does burn off we usually end up with gorgeous golden afternoons and evenings.

UPDATE:  I was able to get a couple AM photos that despite the fog have a golden light 😀

CHICKEN TAMALE PIE

This is a great recipe that is a super easy casserole replacement for the time consuming task of stuffing tamale husks.

CHICKEN TAMALE PIE

  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • Place a 10 inch cast iron pan on a baking sheet and place in oven to warm.

FILLING
3 cups chopped FRESH tomatoes
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced into a paste
1 tablespoon avocado oil
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon Wondra flour
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • Pulse together 2 cups of the tomatoes, onions and garlic until ALMOST pureed.
  • Heat the avocado oil in a skillet.
  • Stir in the chili powder and flour.
  • Whisk in the broth and tomato puree mixture and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
  • Season to taste with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Cool.
  • Reserve 1/2 cup of sauce.
  • Add in chicken and remaining tomatoes.

TOP CRUST
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon FRESH ground sea salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 LARGE egg
1 can SHOEPEG corn, drained
1 small can green chiles, drained
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 cups shredded cheese (combination of cheddar and jack)

  • Combine the cornmeal, 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
  • Whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter and egg.
  • Fold in dry ingredients to the wet ingredients JUST until combined.
  • Gently fold in corn and green chiles.

ASSEMBLY

  • Remove the baking sheet from the oven.
  • Add the butter to the cast iron pan.
  • Carefully pour the batter into the pan and bake 20 minutes.
  • Poke holes in cornbread.
  • Spread reserved sauce over the cornbread.
  • Top with chicken mixture.
  • Sprinkle cheese over chicken mixture.
  • Return baking sheet to oven and bake 10 minutes until cheese melts.

 

BLOGTOBER – DAY 10 – A FALL LOOK BACK THROUGH THE BLOG

Today’s prompt of ‘A LOOK BACK THROUGH THE BLOG‘ brought me a lot of memories, especially of more recent years past when we have lived in some more colorful places.  Fall is TRULY my favorite season and always has been.  Fall is the season where we truly welcome in all the cozy traditions, family holidays, comfort food recipes and cute clothes too!  Fall is also the season I do 80% of my canning in.

Here are a few fall pictures from recent years past. 



And here’s a recipe for one of my ALL time favorite fall recipes – Chicken Chili.

HARVEST STUFFED PORK CHOPS

HARVEST PORK CHOPS
8 boneless pork loin chops, 1 inch thick
2 cups small chopped celery
1 small red onion, chopped small
1/4 cup chopped Italian Parsley
2 cups crispy bread cubes for stuffing
2 cups chicken broth
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1/2 cup pineapple jam
1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons avocado oil

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Carefully cut a pocket into each pork chop.
  • Combine the celery, onion, parsley, bread cubes, chicken broth, melted butter and cranberries until well blended.
  • Add a large scoop of stuffing to each pork chop and close with a toothpick.
  • Spread remaining stuffing mix into baking dish.
  • Generously season each chop with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Heat oil over medium high heat.
  • Sear each pork chop on each side and place on top of stuffing in baking dish.
  • Cover with foil.
  • Bake 30 minutes.
  • Heat jam and remaining cranberry sauce for 30 seconds in microwave.
  • Uncover chops and spread sauce mixture over top.
  • Return to oven and and bake another 10 minutes until chops reach 160°.

NOTE: Dried cranberries can be substituted, but you’ll need to increase the chicken broth by 1/4 cup for additional moisture.

BLOGTOBER 2019 day 9

I’m joining Sandra over at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for Blogtober 2019.  I’m joining a bit late, but I’ll try to catch up as I can.  Her prompt today is “IN THE KITCHEN.

Joining in today is a bit ironic as Sandra described the kitchen as her favorite room of the house which is mine too! Ever since I was old enough to read I have had a fascination with recipes and cooking.  When I was young the kitchen was where my family always gathered for meals, but also to catch up with each other, celebrate or play board games.  Whether it was grams cooking Sunday dinner or my dad preparing Thanksgiving dinner, the kitchen is a place that holds a lot of GREAT memories for me.

The kitchen above is one of the designs in my head that I love to dream about having someday.  The kitchen no matter the house we’re in is where I brainstorm for new recipes, read cookbooks cover to cover and tag the pages I want to try, plan most of my blog posts and enjoy myself the most!  I’m a strange woman – I actually like to do dishes and clean!  So the kitchen is really my favorite room!  I LOVE all the aromas of simmering sauces or baking breads and sweets.  Each one gives me a sense of accomplishment or brings back a tender memory of a family recipe.

I really LOVE the antique recipes I have come across over the years and recreating them to the best of my ability or seeing one of the recipes written by my grams and the memories of making it again brings.  But, I also love technology, new gadgets and bringing those same recipes into the 21st century.