Monday, August 30, 2010

Menu Plan: Week of 8/30/10

I enjoyed my week of all new suppers last week and was so surprised that, for the first time in a LONG time, I made nearly all of the dishes on my meal plan! (the exception was the creamy corn chowder; an evening at the State Fair followed by a night of pizza delivery didn't allow for the poor lil' chowder to be made.) We all liked the Pizza Roll-Up Burritos which were easy, yummy and really good leftover! I also liked the Ginger Orange Chicken, which also kept well for leftovers.

I was saddened by the discovery yesterday that I pulled the last pound of ground beef out of my freezer. We split a purchase of a grass-fed, hormone-free, organic, good ol’ South Dakota cow every year with my mother-in-law. I love having a stockpile of good ground beef, roasts and steaks in our freezer. Well, so much for the stockpile. We are now left without ground beef for a while, unless I discover some good, organic, and reasonably priced (now there’s the kicker) ground beef at the grocery store or at a farm near the Twin Cities. So you’ll notice two big things about this week’s menu: (1) it’s unfortunately ground beef-free; and (2) I’m giving my CrockPot a major workout this week. Until we make our next trip to South Dakota, I think there will be lots of chicken and different cuts of beef on this girl’s menu.

Here’s what I have planned for the week:

Whole Wheat Banana Strawberry Muffins (from the freezer – the kids and I made these for the first time last week and they are awesome!)
Granola and yogurt
Cold cereal and toast
Granola bars

Picnic lunches (sandwiches, crackers, carrots, pickles, etc.)
Chicken strips, cottage cheese, apple slices, carrot sticks (this is where I need to give a huge shout out to Laura at Heavenly Homemakers for this terrific homemade Ranch dressing/dip simple, healthy, and my kids LOVE IT and now can't get enough carrots to dip in this yummy ranch!)

Monday: Crockpot Angel Chicken with broccoli, lettuce salad

Tuesday: Chicken Wild Rice Soup (made with Angel Chicken leftovers), Honey Mustard Salad, fruit

Wednesday: Chicken Tacos, chips and salsa, green beans

Thursday: Round Steak with black beans (new recipe), brown rice, mixed vegetables

Friday: clean out the fridge night

Saturday: Three Cheese Ziti (carryover from a couple of weeks ago), broccoli, lettuce salad

Sunday: leftovers or out to eat?

Please visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for more menu planning ideas.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Taco Soup

We love this super-easy soup in our house. Made with lean ground beef or turkey, beans and tomatoes and corn, it's a great way to get plenty of protein and even some veggies into my kids' diet. This soup is awesome served with sour cream and crushed tortilla chips on top (and my hubby and I enjoy a couple dashes of Tabasco in ours, as well). Enjoy!

(This photo makes me realize I need to research how to take good blog photos. I realize this bowl of soup doesn't look the most appetizing in this photo, but it's good...take my word for it.)

Taco Soup
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
32 oz. low sodium beef broth
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 pkg. low sodium taco seasoning (I use 3 T. of this homemade taco seasoning mix from Laura at Heavenly Homemakers)
1 can corn with peppers, drained

Brown beef or turkey. Drain.
Stir in broth, beans, tomatoes, and taco seasoning.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
Stir in the corn right at the end of simmer time.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Menu Plan: Week of 8/23/10

I’m in a rut…so this week I’m celebrating an “All New Recipes” for supper week! Since it’s supposed to be another warm week (which, in Minnesota, I’m thankful for because the snow will be flying before I know it), I also searched for recipes that required very little or no oven time. I’m looking forward to trying these new recipes and testing them out on my family.

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes (Freezer), bananas
Cold cereal and toast
Honey Crunch Granola (from Clay in His Hands)with yogurt and fruit

Picnic lunches with sandwiches, crackers, and fruit
Chicken strips, cottage cheese, apple and orange slices

Monday: Huevos Rancheros (recipe from a friend; hope to post it soon), chips and salsa, apple slices

Tuesday: Pizza Burritos (from Debbie Does Dinner), Caesar salad, green beans

Wednesday: Ginger Orange Chicken, brown rice, snow peas, fresh pineapple

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: Skillet Tacos, chips and salsa, fresh fruit

Saturday: Creamy Corn Chowder (from Our Best Bites), grilled turkey and cheese sandwiches, fruit

Sunday: Clean out the fridge night!

Extras and baking:
Raisin Bran Muffins (for freezer)

Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for more menu planning ideas and recipes.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My new fall wardrobe...for how much?

I did a ton of my fall/winter clothing shopping last weekend at my local consignment store. I cleaned out my closet earlier this summer and consigned quite a few items. Instead of cash, I opt for receiving store credit (which gives me 55% of what the store sells the item for, compared to 45% if I were to receive cash). I called the store and they informed me I had over $70 in store credit waiting for me. So, hubby stayed with the kiddos while they napped and off I went to happily shop (by myself - sans kiddos - bliss).

Here is what I got:

1 Josephine Chaus jacket (outerwear)
2 casual jackets (one was Talbots)
1 Express sweater
1 American Living shirt
1 pair of jeans
1 Arden B. jean skirt
1 pair of Liz Claiborne khaki pants
1 pair of Levi’s shorts for next year for my little guy
1 pair of Levi’s jeans for my little guy

And what did I pay out of pocket?? .... $12.05!!

Even my husband was impressed. I hit some great end-of-the-season sales where some items were only $2 (which, oddly enough, weren’t even summer items, like my boy’s Levi jeans, the Express sweater and the jean skirt.) Yes, I sadly used up all of my credit but that’s what it’s there for, right? This is better than garage sales!

This post is linked to Frugal Friday hosted by Life as Mom.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

31 Days to Build a Better Home Challenge Update

I've fallen miserably behind in the 31 Days to Build a Better Home Challenge hosted by Today's Housewife. I'm trying to keep up/catch up, and here's my progress:

Day 12 - Bless your church staff and volunteers.
I would've totally been on this one...if we actually belonged to/attended a church. Sadly, we haven't gotten around to making this part of our Sunday routine. We use the excuses of "not enough time," "kids are too young", and "I don't trust strangers in the nursery watching my kids." Well, this daily challenge was a great reminder that it's time to put those excuses aside and start visiting some churches to find one we like.

Day 13 - Have dessert.
Done. Completed. And then some. Thank you Dairy Queen!

Day 14 - Visit a farmer's market or road-side stand.
This didn't get done on this day, but we have visited the farmer's market twice this month. I always go overboard and buy too much, but I love me some affordable, fresh, organic produce.

Day 15 - Try a new recipe this week.
It's in the Crock Pot right now, as I type. I am making these pork chops (never tried them before but they smell wonderful!).

Day 16 - Clean out a closet.
Um, this was totally on my weekend to-do list while the kids would be away. Well, hubby's work schedule didn't accomodate so now he is not taking the kids to the grandparents. No mini-vacation for this SAHM, but hopefully I'll tackle this closet during tomorrow's naptime. Just too much cooking during naptime for me today to think about my messy closets.

Day 17 - Do something your husband would normally do around the house.
Check. Our van got broken into overnight. Windows smashed and stuff stolen. So I was the one that called the police, the insurance agent, and the glass company. Everything was cleaned up, replaced and ready to go by the time hubby got home from work. Normally he would like to take charge of these things, but this SAHM took care of it all.

Day 18 - Write a love letter.
I'm going to do this right now...bye bye. :-)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Menu Plan: Week of 8/16/10

So last week's menu plan was a bit of a bust. My husband ended up having a crazy week at work and really was only home for supper once or twice all week long, so I didn't prepare a lot of the things I had planned. I managed to make him the Vegetable Lo Mein with pork postickers a few days later than planned, which made for one very happy hubby.

Now on to this week - how short it is! This mama is looking forward to my second SAHM vacation at the end of this week. Dear Hubby is planning on taking the kiddos to South Dakota for a visit with the himself! I plan on staying home, doing a little fall/winter clothes shopping for the kiddos (I did my own clothes shopping on Saturday...more to come on that later this week!), cleaning out a closet or two, and relaxing a bit. I will miss my kiddos and hubby dearly but the time by myself will be awesome.

So, I only have three nights of meals planned this week - all simple but yummy, nonetheless. These meals are all based on things I already have on hand, as the only grocery shopping I did this weekend was for milk and bread! Here's our plan for the week:

Banana bread, fruit
Cold cereal, toast
Yogurt and bananas

I foresee picnic lunches all week long.

Monday: Spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce (sauce from the freezer), broccoli, cheesy garlic toast, caesar salad, canteloupe and grapes

Tuesday: Honey Mustard Lime Chicken Drummies, brown rice, romaine salad, leftover broccoli, fruit salad

Wednesday: Pork Chops (new recipe), hash browns, frozen mixed vegetables, leftover fruit salad

Thurs. - Sun.: vacation!

For more menu planning ideas, tips and recipes, please visit I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Need help with lunchtime!

So my daughter has been big into her "picnic lunch" this summer. We usually pack a lunch and eat it at a park or in our backyard. However, on the not-so-nice days, we find ourselves stuck inside with a mommy standing in her pantry, staring blankly at the shelves and wondering, "What to make today?"

I give in every so often and make Mac'n'Cheese from the box or Spaghettios (a very occasional treat in this house) but would really like to steer clear from processed foods. So Please Help Me!!

I'm looking for quick, yummy, healthy, toddler/preschooler friendly lunch ideas and recipes. Do you have a staple lunch item for your little one? Do you freezer-cook and make your yummies ahead of time? Any help is appreciated! Please leave me a comment and/or a link to your great (and much-needed) lunch inspiration!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

31 Days to Build a Better Home Challenge Update

Given the current state our home (or as I like to call it, "SnotFest 2010") I have fallen miserably behind with Today's Housewife 31 Days to Build a Better Home challenge. Here is my update:

Day 7 - Flirt with your husband all day (and all night)
- Miserable fail on this one. Sick kids. Husband working extremely long hours. Very tired mama. This one just didn't get done. Raincheck?

Day 8 - Bless your parents and in-laws
- I sent my mom a letter with pictures of our visit to their farm last week.

Day 9 - Do something nice for a neighbor
- I had every intention of baking chocoloate chip cookies to bring to our new neighbors who moved in across the street last week. Well, a heat index of 103 degrees kind of put a wringer into my plans, since I didn't feel like heating my house up to 90 degrees with the oven running. Plus I didn't think the new neighbors would appreciate my toting along my two snotty lil' kids (mmmm...that would really make the cookies look appetizing.) The forecast calls for only 80 degrees this weekend, so I PROMISE to do my baking then!

Day 10 - Take a picture
- I take pictures of my lil' ones almost daily so this one wasn't too challenging for me. Even snotty and sneezy and teething(are those three of the Seven Dwarfs?), my kids are still cute and photo-worthy!

Day 11 - Clean your computer
- Yikes, thanks for the reminder on this one. Lysol wipes and swiffer duster in hand, I got this job done. Now I just need some of the keyboard air spray stuff, though. Oh well, the job is 90% done.

To join the challenge or get inspiration from other's (much better) accomplishments, please visit Today's Housewife!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


What's been going on in this mom's life lately:

1. Two kids sick with bad colds.
2. A major lack of sleep due to said sick kids.
3. A husband that is super-busy at work and is essentially home only 4-5 hours in the middle of the night to catch a few winks of sleep.
4. Super hot and humid weather upwards of 100 degrees.
5. Numbers 1 through 4 above lead to number time to blog or be creative at all. Hope to return to normalcy soon...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Menu Plan: Week of 8/9/10

This week's menu was compiled a bit differently than normal. I went grocery shopping yesterday morning (the fridge and cupboards were pretty bare after the kids and I were gone for five days!) and then planned this week's menu this morning based on what I have on hand. (Perhaps not the most efficient way of doing it but time was limited this week.) I'm looking forward to trying two new recipes as well as making a favorite of my hubby's that I don't make too often (the Lo Mein!)

Here's what I have planned for the week:

Raisin Bran Muffins (freezer)
Parfaits (made with Honey Crunch Granola, plain yogurt with a little honey mixed in, blueberries and bananas)
cold cereal and English muffins

our standard picnic lunch on nice days (sandwiches, cheese sticks, crackers, raisins and juice boxes)
chicken strips, cottage cheese and apple slices


Monday: For mom and dad - Vegetable Lo Mein (hubby's fave request) and Trader Joe's potstickers; kids will eat buttered noodles and/or leftover pizza from Sunday night

Tuesday: leftovers

Wednesday: Salsa, Black Bean and Beef Skillet, tortilla chips, pineapple

Thursday: Slow Cooker Pork Chops, hashbrowns, frozen mixed vegetables, lettuce salad, pineapple

Friday: Cheeseburger Pie (new recipe and I'll try it using this homemade crust), carrot sticks, apple and orange slices

Saturday: Leftover buffet - It's "Clean out the fridge" night!

Sunday: Three Cheese Ziti (new recipe), broccoli, caesar salad

Freezer cooking extras and baking:

Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Banana Bread
Chocolate chip cookies (for new neighbors across the street)
HashBrowns (for freezer)

This post is linked to I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Raisin Bran Muffins

I love to have a yummy, healthy breakfast on hand and ready to pull out of the freezer at any given moment, and these Raisin Bran Muffins fit the bill. I've tweeked this recipe from a very popular, very yummy, but not-so-healthy recipe that calls for all white flour, a lot of oil and a ton of sugar. After a few tries, I think I found the winning combination to "healthify" this recipe a bit.

Raisin Bran Muffins

4 cups Raisin Bran cereal
1/2 c. Fiber One cereal (or All Bran, but I had Fiber One on hand).
1 c. white flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. oat bran
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. canola oil
1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 c. buttermilk

Mix all ingredients together in large mixing bowl. Bake muffins at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes (mine only took 15). These muffins freeze well, or the mix also keeps well in the fridge to bake as you need them. I make these in muffin-top pans and usually yield a baker's dozen.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Memory Game - free!

We survived the trip to and from my parents' farm this week. The kids and I enjoyed four nights/five days of fun and relaxation with the our family. It's always so great to spend time with family (my kids adore playing with their cousins!) and, although I love living in the Twin Cities, it makes me a little sad that we don't live closer to them so we could see them more often.

But - now we are back in full swing. I got up extra early this morning to make sure that everything was unpacked and put away before the kids got up so we could hit the ground running and get back into our "at home" schedule, routine, chores and fun.

Part of our at-home fun is playing the game Memory. I loved this game as a kid. My daughter is three years old and will be starting preschool next month and this is the perfect game for her to start developing some of the matching and memory skills that this game provides. However, I didn't buy the game - I made one myself for free. All it took was a quick trip to your local home improvement store and collect some paint samples (I chose the Disney colors because they come shaped liked Mickey Mouse!) I chose two of a few primary colors and there you go - your very own "do it yourself" Memory game!

This is a great way for my kids to practice matching and color identification. Both my preschooler and toddler love this frugal, fun game.

This post is linked to Today's Housewife - check out their "31 Days to Build a Better Home" challenge - as well as Life As Mom Frugal Friday!