Sunday, January 31, 2010

Menu Plan for 2/1-2/7/10

This weekend has been a busy one. I learned how to wire in new light fixtures! And now I'm on a mission to replace the 14 lights that are slowly driving me insane.

I'm convinced that it's the lights.

After all, what else could it be?

Since we have a few lights to replace, our meal plan for the week has been built around what's already in the freezer and pantry, and from the coupons I so carefully clipped from the newspaper. I'll be making some beef and chicken broths this week and am going to try my hand at homemade mayonnaise, since our chickens are so happy!

With all the money I hope to save at the grocery store, we'll be able to buy a few more lights!

It's all about the justification!

Here's what's cookin' this week...

Breakfasts: Baked oatmeal, Sunshine & Sausage Casserole, 10-grain waffles (Bob's Redmill mix that has been soaked overnight), Poached eggs w/ sourdough English muffins, Peach melba smoothies (Peaches, orange juice concentrate, raspberries), Red, White & Blue muffins, Sourdough pancakes

Lunches: Pb & J sandwiches, homemade vegetable/beef soup, Corndog muffins, Mango/Orange smoothies, homemade chicken noodle soup, breadsticks

Dinners: Hamburgers w/ oven baked fries; Reuben sandwiches w/ homemade Thousand Island dressing, Roasted Potato salad; Red Beans & Rice, cornbread; Slow-cooker Cheeseburger Soup w/ whole grain rolls; Chicken & Bean enchiladas, green salad; Venison Stew, whole wheat rolls

Superbowl Sunday: Spicy chicken wings, Artichoke dip with pita chips, veggie tray, assorted fruit, tortilla chips and salsa

Funny thing about Superbowl Sunday...we don't really care for football! [[*Gasp*]] My family and I are tried and true baseball fans...especially for our beloved and soon-to-be-back-on-top Seattle Mariners! We celebrate the biggest football game of the season for the food only.

On Sunday, we'll enjoy our chicken wings and other goodies, with our heads hung in shame.

And a big goofy grin plastered on all of our faces!

For more menu planning ideas, visit Laura at The Organizing Junkie.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Creamed Spinach

One of my favorite early spring vegetables is spinach. After a winter with pale, store-bought lettuce, spinach is a nice change with its hearty dark green leaves and mild flavor.

Unless you have a son named Matthew.

He thinks spinach is straight from the pits of hell. And that's no exaggeration! I've tried to "hide" spinach in salads by chopping it up very fine. I've added it to soups and called it "parsley or something like that", and have even added it into the meatloaf to no avail. The little punk is a smart one. He turns up his little nose and announces that, "I don't eat spinach and I don't like Popeye neither!"

So, imagine my surprise when I served up Creamed Spinach with Polenta and the little bugger gobbled it up!

Score one for mom!

So, here's what you'll need: unsalted butter, heavy cream, fresh grated Parmesan cheese, garlic cloves, nutmeg and fresh spinach. This makes enough for 6.

First, wash 1 bunch of spinach leaves. I don't use the packaged stuff if I have to buy it. It's expensive and not as tasty. Put them in a strainer and let them drip a little of the excess water off. Chop the spinach. (No stems). You'll need about 4 cups of chopped, but if it's a little more, it's okay.

In a large skillet, melt 1 cube of unsalted butter.

Add about 3 minced cloves of garlic and saute for a minute or two. Add the spinach leaves and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add 2 cups heavy cream and 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg and stir well. Turn down heat and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Add 1 cup of fresh, grated Parmesan cheese. (Not the fake stuff in the can!)

Stir until cheese is melted. Add salt and pepper as needed, but make sure you taste first. The cheese has some salt in it, so you may not need as much as you think.

Serve by the spoonful over polenta.

For the polenta, I use the organic, pre-formed tubes and sliced about 1/2" thick. I fry them on a cast iron griddle that I only lightly greased once with bacon grease. Cook on each side about 4 minutes, or until slightly browned.

Then watch it all disappear!

For more recipes, visit Gayle at The Grocery Cart Challenge.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Signs of Spring!

Spring is in the air! I realize that it is only January, but I am starting to see signs of it everywhere!

Today, on my way into town, I saw Camellia bushes with buds on them. Those will be followed by the magnificent displays of the flowering plum, cherries and apple trees. And of course, no one will be able to miss the unforgettable magnolia blossom show!

My crocus's and daffodil's are starting to poke up out of the dirt and the lilac trees and rhododendron bushes are swollen with the promise of spring. The bird's are chirping and the geese are returning in perfectly synchronized vee formations, on their way to greener pastures. Thankfully, our pasture isn't green yet!

Have I mentioned that I love spring?

Other signs of the changing season's are the gazillion seed catalogs that are starting to pile up on the coffee table. Not to mention the coupons from these companies that have managed to spring up in my inbox.

Here is some of my to-do's that need to-doing...

~order honeybees and get the hives started (this is our first year!)

~pick up some mason bees from the local nursery for our orchard area

~place a chick order either at our local feed store or order from an online hatchery.

~start looking for a heifer calf to replace Ms. Bailey, who will be retiring from motherhood after this next calf is born...she deserves to live out the rest of her life with a little peace and quiet, don't you think?

~order heirloom tomato seeds from Seeds of Change

~place order at local nursery for flats of petunia starts

~finish deer fencing around the garden area before the deer discover the budding fruit trees!

~build grapevine supports

~change chicken coop shavings (*yuck*)

~plant fir seedlings

~clean out the greenhouse and build a raised bed on the floor

~cover garden area with tarps to prevent weed seeds from sprouting

~get nursery order ready for blueberry bushes, marionberry vines, walnut trees, strawberry plants, and raspberry vines

~build strawberry bed

~build 2nd chicken yard for the chicks

~build chicken tractor

~start bringing in the cat food, so the raccoon mommies can't teach the raccoon babies how to get a free meal

~start locking the chickens in at night, so the raccoon families don't start looking at our "girls" as an all-you-can-eat buffet! I will say this about the raccoon family...they are a very hospitable bunch. They usually invite the coyote family to join them!

While some of these can wait a little, it's never too early to start planning!

And, if Old Man Winter rears his beautiful white head in February, well, I guess my list will just get longer while I enjoy one more dance with winter.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Slow-cooker Cheeseburger Soup

While thumbing through my crock-pot cookbooks, I came across a soup that called for a dill pickle, mustard and ketchup topping.

I kept thumbing.

For some reason though, this cookbook continually opens up to this page, no matter where I'm at.

It's a sign.

This soup, minus the bizarre toppings, was the tastiest soup we've had the pleasure to "slurp" in a long time. The entire family loved it so much, that it is on the menu again for next week!

As my children say, "It was AMAZ-A-ZING!!!

Slow-cooker Cheeseburger Soup

4 Tb. unsalted butter

1 lbs. very lean ground beef

1 cup diced sweet onion

3/4 cup diced celery

1/2 cup diced carrot

1 t. minced garlic

1 t. dried basil

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1-1/2 cups whole milk

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or use your own homemade)

2 cups peeled and diced potatoes

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Optional: ketchup, mustard, chopped dill pickles

Melt butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add beef; cook until meat begins to brown. Break up the beef as small as you can as it's cooking. Stir in onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and basil; cook 5 minutes. Add flour, stirring to coat meat; cook for 1 minute. Stir in milk until mixture is smooth. Bring mixture to boil; cook 2 minutes. Transfer soup to a slow-cooker. Stir in broth and potatoes. Cover soup; cook on low-heat until potatoes are tender, about 4 hours. Add cheddar just before serving, stirring until the cheese melts. Season soup with salt and pepper and garnish as desired.

*A couple of notes...this recipe says that it serves 6, but I would guess more like 4-5. I doubled this, and only ended up with enough leftovers for my Mister's lunch. Also, make sure that when dicing the vegetables, go small. This dish relies on a mirepoix [mihr-PWAH] for its flavor. That just means chopped up carrots, onions and celery that is sauteed and added to flavor dishes. I didn't know that, but when I used a little "French" on the family, they were impressed!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Birthday and a Cake!

This is where I would normally post my grocery results.

Since I'm a creature of habit, here goes...

Total: $0.00

I didn't even need coupons to arrive at that number. (***HAPPY DANCE***)

Grocery savings aside, today is a big day for another reason.

This is my daughter Melissa. Today is her 19th birthday. She is doing her homework after a long day at college.

She's smiling because she knows I made a cake. She's funny like that. She thinks that you would like this cake.

Make this and you're teenage children will be smiling too! Unless of course, they're allergic to peanuts. Then by all means, frost this cake with something else! Of course, you'll have to rename it, because without the peanut butter, well, the name just wouldn't make sense!

Mr. Reese's Eat Your Heart Out Cake
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 t. sea salt
1 cup strong brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup melted coconut oil (refined)
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 13x9" cake pan or two 9" round pans. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixer bowl. Add the wet ingredients and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes, making sure to scrape the batter off of the sides. (The batter will be thin.) Pour into prepared cake pans, bake 35-40 minutes for large pan or 30-35 minutes for round pans. Cool on rack before frosting.

Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3-4 Tb. light cream, or as needed
2 cups powdered sugar

Beat butter and peanut butter together until creamy. Slowly add powdered sugar and cream, alternating the two. After ingredients are mixed in well, continue beating for 2-3 minutes more. Frost cooled cake. Drizzle melted chocolate or decorate with chocolate curls or shavings.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Menu Plan for 1/25-1/31

After a couple of days of rest, relaxation and a little shopping, I'm ready for a new week to begin.

On Friday, we finished our school lessons early. I then spent the remainder of the day trying to tie a quilt that I've been working on for some time. The key word there is trying. I couldn't get the quilt stand to cooperate with me. After turning my fingers into Swiss cheese, I decided to ditch the tying and go straight to hand quilting. In a ring.

The quilt and I are much happier.

In order to give my poor fingers a chance to heal, I decided to spend Saturday shopping with Valerie and Melissa (2 of my girls), and my sister, Erin.

It was all for the fingers. Honest.

We found plenty of good deals on the clearance racks, overate at Red Robin, practiced self-control at IKEA and collapsed in a heap of exhaustion at the end of the day.

I discovered a few things however,...#1. My girls are wimps. #2. There will never be enough money to purchase everything we think we need. #3. Red Robin is run by evil tempters. #4. I have absolutely NO self-control in IKEA.

Note to it again soon!

Our meal plan for the week doesn't require any fancy ingredients. In fact, the menu is pretty simple. Thanks to our hard-working chickens, we have an abundance of fresh eggs, so I'll be getting creative with those. We currently have 12 dozen in our spare fridge, and there is no sign of the girls slowing down! Other than a couple of gallons of raw milk on Thursday, I'll be leaving the grocery store alone.


Here's what's cookin' this week...

Lunches: egg salad sandwiches, leftovers, quesadillas, smoothies

Monday~Salsa chicken, brown rice, birthday cake and ice cream (Happy Birthday Melissa!)
Tuesday~Slow cooker Cheeseburger Soup, whole wheat rolls

Wednesday~Polenta with creamed spinach, meatloaf, green beans

Friday~Chicken Linguini with Alfredo sauce, steamed broccoli

Saturday~Elk roast, mashed taters & gravy, sauteed green beans w/ garlic

Sunday~Beef stew, sourdough bread

I had planned to carry the Pork roast over from last week, but since I'm not shopping, I'll postpone it until the following week.

For more menu plan ideas, visit Menu Plan Monday at The Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tangy Barbeque Sauce

Last fall, we bought a "hamburger" cow to fill our freezer with. I figured that we could always use hamburger. While that part of the figuring was right, figuring out what to do with it has been uninspired.


Beef. It's what's for dinner.

Last week, we had barbecued meatballs on the menu. I haven't bought barbecue sauce from the grocery store for some time. The ingredients are a little scary. And mostly unpronounceable. One word that I do recognize however is high-fructose corn syrup. Followed by corn syrup. I guess that just means it's regular. (?????)

Since my family really wanted barbecued meatballs, I decided to make my own sauce. The thought of going with a different meal altogether wasn't even considered. My children are like rabid dogs when there's beef on the menu. Have you ever tried to take a bone from a dog's mouth? Kids are even more frightening.

Especially the girls.

Here's my healthier recipe for barbecue sauce. It's more tangy that store-bought, but it could be altered by leaving out some of the lemon juice and adding more molasses. Something that I've recently learned from the new TV show, "Worst Cooks in America", is to taste, taste, taste.

Yes. I have that part down.

1 medium roasted red pepper, peeled and chopped fine
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tb. butter
2 Tb. apple cider vinegar (the good stuff)
3 Tb. fresh lemon juice (I used 4, it was a little too tangy!)
2 Tb. sucanat (or brown sugar)
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
1 cup organic ketchup (organic doesn't have corn syrup)
2 Tb. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. dry mustard powder
1/2 t. sea salt
1 cup water
2 Tb. molasses (not blackstrap)
2 Tb. bacon fat (trust me, this is important for flavor)

Roast red pepper in oven until skin starts to turn black. Let cool. Peel pepper and chop into very small pieces. Set aside. Saute onions in butter until opaque. Add garlic and cook for a minute more. In a medium size saucepan, mix all ingredients together. On medium-high heat, bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Paint barbecue sauce onto uncooked meatballs. Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes. Turn meatballs over, apply more barbecue sauce and return to oven for approximately 15 minutes more. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the meatballs.

I forgot to take a picture of the finished product, so this is a picture of my plate before I dug in!
For more recipes or to share your own, visit Grocery Cart Challenge.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


So, today has been a little off. I feel like a newborn deer who hasn't quite found her balance today. Ever have a day like that?

I had planned for Crockpot Wednesday a Pork loin braised in a milk sauce. It looks heavenly.

In the picture.

Unfortunately, that's as far as I got. You see, when I work on menu plans, I simultaneously work on my grocery list. You know, "git er done" mode.

Apparently, my git er done, done got up and left. I dropped the ball. Missed the mark. Forgot to buy the ingredients for the recipe.


Soooooooooo, next week, we'll be having the Pork Loin braised in a creamy milk sauce with a side of Tomato-spinach orzo.

Tonight, we're having spaghetti.

However, the sauce was a crockpot recipe that I borrowed from The Nourishing Gourmet and froze for later use. Today qualifies for later. Try it, it's delicious!

If you double the sauce, use 1/2 and freeze the rest for one of those "oops" moments!

I had planned on making Cranberry muffins today for lunch. But it requires a food processor that works. Mine had a little 14-year-old-boy accident. No worries though, instead of cranberry muffins, we'll be having these. No food processor required!

Couple of side notes...Yesterday, I blogged about contentment. This morning, I woke up to this.

It's hard to not feel content with this as a wake-up serenade.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


There is a running joke in our family that says, "Never take Momma on vacation because she'll end up wanting to live there."

That's not entirely true.

I wouldn't want to live in the desert. Nor would I like to live in an area that experiences hurricanes, tornadoes or tsunamis. And Antarctica? Nope. No desire there either.

The places that I have fell in love with, are places that speak to my heart. Sure, some of them have been romanticized in my head, but while visiting there, I found other reasons to make me want to stay.

Lately, I've been learning to be content. Seems pretty easy when I type it out. Not so easy though in reality. My grandpa used to call me his "Gypsy girl". I'm always going to have that desire to see different places, but unlike a nomad, I have a place to always come back to.


After all, isn't this...

...what makes this...

...a home? (Yes, I know that our fence is sagging a bit!)

And when I feel that desire to wander the earth, or at least the Rocky Mountain states, I can put myself in a time-out until I am once again happy with where I am right now.

On my little piece of heaven on earth.

My favorite "time-out" place.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Grocery Results 1/18/10

After a wicked, wicked, stormy night last night, we were greeted this morning with a bright yellow orb in the sky.

I think it was the sun.

Shopping for groceries is a whole lot "funner" in the sunshine!

Welcome back sunshine...we, I mean, I have missed you dearly.

And I mean that.

Franz Bakery Outlet

~4 loaves bread
~6 packages of gravy
~4 free loaves of bread


Grocery Outlet

~Half & half
~organic granola bars (2)
~2 gallons whole milk


Fred Meyer

~2 cheddar cheese (4 lbs.)
~4 unsalted butter
~2 lbs. organic sugar
~spinach tortillas
~flour tortillas
~organic flour (10 lbs.)
~white wine
~bulk dehydrated chives
~organic bananas
~hot dogs (2) (Sometimes you just have to have the real thing...especially with a coupon!)
~nitrite/nitrate free bacon
~cream cheese (3)
~5 grapefruit
~organic apples (4 lbs.)
~2 lemons
~organic baby spinach
~toilet paper (24 double rolls)


Health food store

~1 gallon raw, organic milk


Total: $129.70

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Menu Plan for 1/18-1/25

As I sit here, typing up my menu plan for the week, I've got one eye on the TV and one on the window. The U.S. Figure Skating Championships are on, and this is the competition that will determine who will represent us at the Olympics. I can't help but be filled with pride for my country when I see these amazing athletes skate, jump, flip and fly, all while landing on 1 foot!

I tend to view a skating rink from the ice. On my back.

The other eye is keeping a weathered eye on the horizon...a major storm is coming in.

I'm second guessing my decision to buy groceries in the morning.

Thankfully, most of my shopping will be done in our garage. I've planned our meals around the freezer and pantry this week and will only have to shop for fresh produce and dairy. Oh happy day!

I get asked how I remember to soak grains, make yogurt/keifer and have bread on the days that I need it. I'll let you in on a little secret...I don't. After I plan our meals and make out the grocery list, I write on the calendar what needs to be done and when. The calendar I use is for this purpose only. No more juggling the menu around because someone forgot to soak the oatmeal!

Now it gets juggled out of pure laziness.

I'm not proud.

Here's what's cookin' this week...

Homemade cinnamon rolls, orange juice
leftover Chicken Tortilla soup
Italian Pork, Tomato-spinach orzo (Crock pot Wednesday recipe!)

~Tuesday: leftover Cinnamon rolls, orange juice
Turkey/cream cheese roll-ups, carrot sticks
German pancakes, Honey/Dijon baked chicken, fruit salad

Baked oatmeal
Mango/orange smoothies, Cranberry muffins
Spaghetti, garlic bread, salad

~Thursday: Poached eggs,
homemade Sourdough English muffins
Plum smoothies, homemade pizza pockets
Lentil burritos, salad

~Friday: granola
Corndog muffins, Chocolate malt shakes
Biram Ruz, Shish Kebabs, sliced oranges (Geography meal to finish our Egypt unit)

Baked egg casserole
Pb&j sandwiches, tortilla chips, salsa, apples
Pizza (from town!)

~Sunday: granola
Venison stew, homemade sourdough rolls

As you may have noticed, our menu has a few "junk" food items. I recently watched an author/health expert talk about food do's and don'ts on TV. He said that junk food is okay, if it is made from scratch. We are less likely to have it very often if it requires a lot of effort! How true that is! It is all about balance and as such, I've declared Friday as "Fun Friday" in our house.

For this week anyway!
For more menu plans, visit Laura at The Organizing Junkie.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Book List, Part 3...High School

Back in the "olden days", when I was a high-schooler, books weren't really read for pleasure. Textbooks, research & required reading books left me feeling dizzy at the end of the day, and I still had to muster the strength for an active social life. (Such as it was...)

Oh, the hardships of being a high school teenager.

Now that I have teenagers, it is very important to me to make sure that they have plenty of time for pleasure reading, and if pleasure can bring knowledge, well, then my job is done.

Some of it anyway.

Here's my list of books for the high school student. Next week I'll post my list of favorites for the over-worked, under-appreciated, stressed out mom.

Yes, I have issues...

Nothing a piece of dark chocolate can't cure.

~Uncle Tom's Cabin
~Great Expectations
~Oliver Twist*
~To Kill a Mockingbird
~Of Mice or Men
~The Grapes of Wrath*
~Jane Eyre
~Pride and Prejudice*
~The Importance of Being Earnest*
~The Three Musketeers*
~The Screwtape Letters
~My Antonia
~Murder on the Orient Express*
~And Then There Were None (my all-time favorite book!)
~Singing River series
~The Hiding Place*
~Seven Daughters and Seven Sons
~Where the Broken Heart Still Beats
~Nicholas Nickleby*
~The Scarlet Letter
~Little Women*
~The Blue Sword
~The Hero and the Crown
~The Books of Pellinor
~The Lord of the Rings series*

Some of these books have been made into movies. The ones with * next to them, are movies that I've watched and highly recommend!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Babbling Brunette...Oxymorons

Sometimes, I have a hard time falling asleep.

There's a lot going on in my head.

Forget the blankie, I sleep with a notepad and pencil.

It can get dangerous.

Thought I had it under control.

Then my dear husband sent me this...


1. Is it good if a vacuum really sucks?

2. Why is the third hand on the watch called the second hand?

3. If a word is misspelled in the dictionary, how would we ever know?

4. If Webster wrote the first dictionary, where did he find the words?

5. Why do we say something is "out of whack"? What is a whack?

6. Why does "slow down" and "slow up" mean the same thing?

7. Why does "fat chance" and "slim chance" mean the same thing?

8. Why do tug boats push their barges?

9. Why do we sing "Take me out to the ball game"
when we are already there?

10. Why are they called "stands" when they are made for sitting?

11. Why is it called "after dark" when it really is "after light"?

12. Doesn't "expecting the unexpected" make the unexpected expected?

13. Why are a "wise man" and a "wise guy" opposites?

14. Why do overlook and oversee mean the opposite things?

15. Why is phonics not spelled the way it sounds?

16. If work is so terrific, why do they have to pay you to do it?

17. If all the world is a stage, where is the audience sitting?

18. If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?

19. If you are cross-eyed and have dyslexia, can you read all right?

20. Why is bra singular and panties plural?

21. Why do you press harder on the buttons of a remote control
when you know the batteries are dead?

22. Why do we put suits in garment bags
and garments in a suitcase?

23. How come abbreviated is such a long word?

24. Why do we wash bath towels?
Aren't we clean when we use them?

25. Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

26. Why do they call it a TV set when you only need one?

27. Why do we drive on a parkway
and park on a driveway?

and last, but not least...

28. Christmas - What other time of the year
do you sit in front of a dead tree
and eat
candy out of your socks?

And there lies my dilemma. How can I sleep when there are so many unanswered questions in the world?

I don't plan on staying awake by myself though...
My dear hubby is going to give some serious thought to these questions too.

Maybe over a bowl of ice cream.

In a crazy world, turned upside-down by earthquakes, hurricanes, unemployement, diseases and illness, remember to take the time to thank God for your blessings.

And don't forget to smile.

Sourdough English Muffins

My family loves English muffins. We had been buying sourdough muffins from a bread outlet store for a great deal. 4 packages for $5.00. Not too bad. Then I read the ingredients.

Let me rephrase that. I tried to read the ingredients! Then I noticed the expiration date.

Somehow, I believe the two are linked.

My momma didn't raise no dummy. Okay, she did, but I'm learning.

Unpronounceable words, equals, food lives with no end. I'll call it "The Twinkie Phenomenon".

My new mission was to find a recipe for homemade sourdough English muffins, using ingredients that everyone could pronounce.

I think that this one's a winner.

Sourdough English Muffins

1/2 cup sourdough starter
1 cup milk
2 3/4 cup organic flour (I used organic white, but next time will substitute 1 cup wheat)
1 Tb. sugar
3/4 sea salt
1 t. baking soda
Cornmeal for dusting

Combine the starter, 2 cups of flour and milk in a large glass bowl. Stir to combine. Cover tightly with wrap and leave on the counter overnight.

Next morning, add remaining flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Mix well. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, mix for about 3 minutes. If not, turn onto lightly floured board and knead for 4-5 minutes. Roll our dough to 3/4-inch thickness. Cut with 3-inch biscuit cutter, or a glass. Before rolling out the scraps, rest the dough for a couple of minutes. Place the cut muffins onto a parchment lined baking sheet that has been dusted with cornmeal. (Semolina could be used for this also.) Let muffins rise for about an hour.

Grease (or spray) the griddle and heat to medium. Cook the muffins for 6-8 minutes on each side. If using a cast iron griddle, watch that the pan doesn't get too hot. Let cool slightly before splitting with a fork or bread knife.

See how puffy they get?

I forgot to take a finished picture before I slathered it in peanut butter and ate half of it! Lucky that my hubby reminded me through his mouthful of muffin!

For more recipes, check out The Grocery Cart Challenge!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Chicken Cacciatore and Lemon-Herb Pasta

Before this recipe, I had never eaten Chicken Cacciatore. I've heard of it, but only on movies that are filled with gangsters planning a hit.

I don't get out much.

It's a good thing that [kah-chuh-TOR-eh] was next to Cacciatore, otherwise I'd have never known what this was! Cacciatore is Italian for "hunter's style" and refers to the way the food is prepared. It's also important to note that the chicken still has it's bones. The bones add richness and flavor to the sauce as it cooks.

I don't think the guys prepare chicken like this in hunting camp.

Do they?

Chicken Cacciatore

3 lbs. bone-in chicken pieces, skin removed, seasoned with salt and pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tb. EVOO
3/4 cup dry red wine
1 (15 oz.) can whole tomatoes, drained and cut up
1 (15 0z.) can crushed tomatoes
1 onion, sliced
8 oz. cremini or button mushrooms, quartered
2 Tb. garlic, minced
1 Tb. Italian seasoning
1 t. anchovy paste
1 red bell pepper, sliced
Fresh oregano leaves
Parmesan cheese curls

Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off any excess. Brown chicken in hot oil on both sides over medium-high heat, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker.

Deglaze pan with wine, cooking until liquid is reduced by half. Transfer wine mixture to crock pot. Add whole and crushed tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, garlic, Italian seasoning, and anchovy paste to the slow cooker. (It's very important to drain the whole tomatoes. I only had home-canned, crushed tomatoes and used 2 quarts, so there was too much liquid at the end. BTW, I didn't mean to add 2 quarts!)

Oooo...I really love mushrooms!

Cover cacciatore; cook until chicken is tender, on low-heat for approximately 4 hours. Add bell pepper, cover, and cook another 30 minutes more.

Meanwhile, while peppers are cooking, start the pasta.

Lemon-Herb Pasta
8 oz. dried bow-tie pasta (or your favorite)
2 Tb. lemon zest
2 Tb. fresh lemon juice
2 Tb. unsalted butter
2 Tb. chopped fresh oregano leaves
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and transfer to bowl. Toss pasta with lemon zest, juice and butter. Add oregano just before serving.

I have to tell you, I am not a big fan of pasta. But this pasta was so delicious, that I'm going to use this recipe as a side-dish to other recipes.

And of course, I will be making this again!
*My advise on choosing the chicken for this dish...use the pieces that don't have small bones in them. I had some breast pieces with rib bones still attached and we were having to pick them out of our meal. Next time, I'll probably just use thighs and very clean breasts.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Gratituesday...The Lemonade Stand Award

Until this morning, I had no idea that such an award even existed. I'm pretty new to blogging and completely computer challenged, so navigating around blogsites is best done when back-up is around.

Yes, my daughter's real name is "Back-up". She helps me retrieve sites that I've "misplaced" and has taught me how to open new tabs before leaving one place for another. "Back-up" also explained what the bleep sound was and why my computer was making it. I still don't understand, but it has something to do with holding down the control button while clicking the mouse.

I suppose there is room for improvement. "Back-up" may need reinforcements.

Back to the award...Heather nominated me to be part of the list of blogs that she thought should get a lemonade stand award. I'm going to use her words because they are much more eloquent than mine.

"It is to be awarded to bloggers that show great attitude and gratitude."

Here's where I get to nominate my favorite 10 blogs. There are rules in accepting this award.

~Put the Lemonade logo on your blog or within your post.
~Nominate at least 10 blogs with great attitude and gratitude.
~Link the nominees within your post.
~Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
~Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

And in no particular order...

1. Heavenly Homemakers (because Laura inspired me with her meal plans, homeschooling and child raising. And she makes me laugh to boot!)

2. Grocery Cart Challenge (because Gail taught me that grocery shopping does NOT have to break the bank!)

3. Dining with Debbie (because Debbie is a sweet southern lady who can cook!)

4. Nana's Cottage (because Kym-Anne has a heart of gold and some mad scrapbooking skills!)

5. Real Food, Less Money (because Millie is not only from the beautiful state of Wyoming, she is a follower of Nourishing Traditions and doesn't just talk the talk, but walks in it daily.)

6. Finding Joy in My Kitchen (because I find joy in SnoWhite's kitchen too!)

7. Natural on a Budget (because Lori knows how to eat real foods without having to take out a loan!)

8. Peaceful Home (because Lainie has 8 kids, homeschools, and has fabulous ideas for keeping a...well, peaceful home!)

9. Life in a Small Town (because Michaela is another homeschooling mom who follows a "nourishing" lifestyle!)

10. Mountain Home Quilts (because Heather makes awesome quilts, loves the Lord and is a fellow "farmgirl at heart"!

Thank you Heather!

My Gratituesday is for all of my blogging friends who contribute to my daily dose of happiness. You are right up there next to my first cup of coffee!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Grocery Results 1/11/10

*Sigh*...'tis raining again. As I sit here typing, I can hear the rain hitting the windows. It's not enough to drown out the roar of the creek, but pretty close!

I love the roar of the creek.

It drowns out the noise from the kids.

Summertime is bittersweet.

I've been spending the rainy days planning our 2010 garden. It will be so nice to be able to dig in the warm, fresh-tilled dirt.

This is what our garden looks like now...

Not very impressive at the moment, but just wait...

In the meantime, I'll just figure out how to make my potatoes do this...

My potato is in the middle. The others are from Idaho. Show-offs. I may need to make a trip to Idaho and round me up some of that dirt.

Here's how the shopping trip went.

Country Village (health food shop)

White, organic miso paste $5.99

Red, organic miso paste $5.99

Subtotal: $11.98

Fred Meyer

2 quarts 1/2&1/2 $4.58

2 quarts buttermilk $3.38

Soba noodles $3.29

2.58 lbs. cauliflower $3.84

10 lbs. King Arthur all-purpose flour $6.98

2 gallons organic, whole milk $9.98

Subtotal: $32.00

Winco Foods

anchovy paste $1.89

2 lbs. Tillamook butter $4.98

bow-tie pasta $1.96

cherry tomatoes $2.78

2 Roma tomatoes $.39

baby spinach $2.48

whole wheat pita pockets $1.68

bulk sesame seeds (.46#) $1.23

fresh basil $.98

dried cherries (.77#) $4.80

Daisy sour cream $2.93

bulk, organic brown rice (5.63#) $9.94

bulk granola (3.34#) $8.95

grape tomatoes $1.28

5.5 lbs. cut-up fryer chicken $7.60 (for broth)

2 cream cheese $2.96

broccoli $3.98

tortilla chips $2.58

Greek peperocini $2.38

2 cans orange juice concentrate $3.96

2 cans evaporated milk $1.76

4 cans Thai coconut milk $7.80

fresh mushrooms (1.08#) $2.14

fresh ginger root (.38#) $.60

2 red bell peppers $1.36

4 large lemons $2.72

fresh, organic oregano $1.98

2 bunches green onions $.96

2 cucumbers $.96

bananas (4.27#) 2.48

2 cans pumpkin $2.80

Subtotal: $96.29

Grand total: $140.27

Sorry that the list is double spaced...for some reason my computer is "sassing" me today. It's probably trying to accommodate the Idaho potatoes.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Meal Plan for 1/11/10-1/17/10

One of my real New Year's resolutions was to eat more "nourishing" foods. I think we do a pretty good job, but the reality is that my back end tells a different story.

It's not a story that I like.

I'm not very motivated to exercise in the colder weather. We have a gym set up in the garage, but I would much rather be outdoors. In the sunshine. Or, at the very least, under the overcast skies. Not under the dim glow of the energy efficient lightbulbs, walking on the treadmill, to the hum of the 3 freezers. I'm not even going to mention breathing in the fumes of the newly parked car.

My rubber barn boots are for, well, the barn. They do not make good walking shoes. Especially when I'm "fun-sized". The top of the boots hit me at the mid-knee level, making it very difficult to bend my legs.

So now you know. I waddle.

But my cholesterol is good.

Other news on the homefront...My eldest son is turning 18. Now we are a family of 7 adults and 4 children. (Not including the sons-in-laws and grandbabies!) I'm not going to get my hopes up that they'll stay children either. I think I'm going to invent a time-freezer. Some mom's will thank me. Others will hunt me down and make me pay. Funny how birthdays bring on the "baby blues". (And then my youngest son runs through the room with the dogs, and just like that, the blues are gone!)

This week, I'll get back to soaking our grains. We'll add more soured dairy products and use less sweeteners. Even the natural ones. I'm not giving up my coffee though. Some things are just too dangerous to try.

~Buttermilk biscuits, poached eggs, orange juice
~Chili Nachos, fruit smoothies (leftover chili)
~Linguini with homemade pesto sauce, green salad

~Chicken Cacciatore with Lemon Herb Pasta, sourdough (Crock pot Wednesday's recipe)
***Birthday cake***Tres Leches Cake

~Sourdough Pancakes, marionberry syrup (homemade)
~Vegetable Lentil soup (Bob's Red Mill), apple slices
~Barbequed meatballs, Baked beans, cornbread

~Mango Orange Smoothie, homemade sourdough English muffins (if they turn out, I'll post)
~leftover Vegetable Lentil soup, leftover cornbread
~Elk roast, mashed taters & gravy, green beans

~Pumpkin waffles, orange juice
~Tuna salad w/sprouts in pita bread, apple slices
~Macaroni & cheese, Curry Broccoli salad

~Granola & yogurt
~leftovers or PB&J, fruit

~Chicken Tortilla soup, homemade tortilla chips, lacto-fermented salsa

For more menu ideas, visit the Organizing Junkie.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Book List, Part 2: Middle School

In what seems like forever ago, I posted a reading list for elementary age students. My "plan" was to post a middle school list the following week, but as usual, life happens.

In this case, it was the holidays. Clearly, not my fault.

Speaking of holidays, curiosity got me to wondering, who thought to bunch them all up like that anyway? Why not spread them out a little. Maybe into March. Nothing is really happening in March.

Just a thought.

Back to books...we love them. We read them. We sometimes go hungry, just so we can buy some more.

And like all good parents, we make the kids read too. Somewhere in the midst of "making" them read, they started to enjoy reading.

Funny how that works.

Here's a list of middle school books that we have loved. This is only a "sampler" list though. There isn't enough time or space to list all of the books! Most can be found at the public library. Others can be found online. But don't forget about garage sales, 2nd hand stores, book stores with a "trade-in" policy or a local (or online) paperback swap.

~My Side of the Mountain

~Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

~Carry on, Mr. Bowditch

~Snow Treasure

~Madeleine Takes Command

~A Murder for Her Majesty

~The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn

~The Gammage Cup

~The Sister's Grimm series

~The Twenty-one Balloons

~The Shakespeare Stealer series

~The Hobbit

~The Chronicles of Narnia

~Anne of Green Gables series

~Island of the Blue Dolphins


~The Wolves of Willoughby Chase series

~Number the Stars

~The Trojan War

~The Bronze Bow

~The Sherwood Ring

~The Lightening Thief

~Inkheart Series

~The Thief Lord

~A Wrinkle in Time series

~Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

~Swiss Family Robinson


~Black Stallion

~The Royal Diaries

~Ella Enchanted

~Esperanza Rising

~Listening for Lions

~Dear America series

~The Saddle Club series

~Hardy Boys series

~Nancy Drew series

Happy reading!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

HGTV and Chicken Farming

One of my favorite TV channels is HGTV. I don't know if I'm a glutton for punishment or if I need reminders to start/finish projects, but I just can't seem to get enough. Our DVR records every House Hunters episode and at any one time, holds at least 5 that I need to watch!

And I NEED to watch them.

We're not even planning to move.

It's not as if these shows make me feel good either. I can't seem to grasp how anyone can afford a 1 to 2 million dollar vacation house. It can't even be called a "home" because it's for vacation only! What do these people do for a living? One of the couples are home builders.

Someone needs to let their customers know that they've been robbed.

I'll build their homes for half. It might not be as pretty, or even upright, but they'll save some big bucks by going with me. Really, how hard can it be? Just some nails and a hammer, right?

Until I get "the call", I'll just continue punishing myself. Because I just can't seem to stop.

Meanwhile, on the farm, we've been thinning out our chicken coop. The chickens aren't the problem. The roosters are. Apparently, we're up to 8. We purchased "sexed" chicks, but Henny and Penny ended up being Lenny and Denny. Times 4. A couple of them have started cannibalizing the hens, so it's time for us to "farm".

I've realized that I'm not a very good farmer. I can process the birds if they don't look like birds.

I'll just leave the farming part to the boys.

Warning: If you're squeamish, DO NOT SCROLL DOWN. And please try not to notice the total and complete joy on my youngest son's face.

One of us is going to need therapy.

Probably me.

Matthew...a Future Farmer of America

My "Mister"...wishing he were on a beach somewhere else.

The greatest tasting, organic poultry...ever.

If I do say so myself.

Carmel Corn

My children once asked me , "If you could live on a deserted island, what are 3 foods that you would have to have with you?"

First, let me just say, that if I were on a deserted island, we would not be having this conversation right now. I would be basking in my birthday suit (after I made sure that the island was truly deserted!), drinking fresh, clear spring water from a coconut shell, and enjoying the peace and quiet. If I got hungry, and I would have to be REALLY hungry, I would signal a plane with my carefully crafted S.O.S. and wait to be rescued. (I would probably have time to admire my mad "MacGyver" skills first!)

But only if I were REALLY hungry.

Because I'm still enjoying the thought of having a little peace and quiet.

After all of that, I actually gave it some thought. What would I choose if I could only have 3 different foods with me?

I think I may have had a slight panic attack at that moment.

Just the thought....

But, if I had to pick 3, I would have to choose butter, coffee, and popcorn.

And here's why...Butter can be used to saute any seafood that I managed to catch, and face it, shellfish has to have butter. Coffee, because I would need the stimuli to wake me from my super-relaxed state. And finally, popcorn...for the fiber.

Since I'm pretty sure that my odds of landing on an uninhabited island are pretty slim, I'll just enjoy my 3 fav's in some homemade caramel corn.

Even better? This version has NO corn syrup!

Homemade Caramel Corn

2/3 cup popcorn kernels, freshly popped
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar (I used organic cane sugar this time, but will try Rapadura next.)
3 Tb. strong coffee
1/2-3/4 t. sea salt
1/3-1/2 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add sugar and coffee.

Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for approximately 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Meanwhile, pop the corn. I used a hot air popper because the popcorn needs to be dry.

The butter mixture should look like melted caramel at this point.

Remove the caramely mixture from the heat and add sea salt, stirring well. Very carefully, pour the mixture over the popcorn.

Stir the popcorn gently to "spread the love". Add the almonds and mix. This will be very goopey. Yes, goopey is a word. It's very technical.

Spread popcorn onto a cookie sheet (with sides) or a broiler pan and bake in preheated 250F. oven for 30 minutes, stirring half-way through.

Using a cookie spatula, quickly turn caramel corn onto waxed paper to cool. It will harden as it does.

If there is any left over after the cooling process, store caramel corn in an airtight container!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cuban Black Bean Soup with Tomato/Cilantro Rice

This winter, I kind of have a "theme" going. I am addicted to black beans! Besides the fact that they are low in fat, they have the added benefit of containing huge amounts of fiber!

Fiber is good.

This dish has 20 grams per serving. It is recommended that adults take in between 25 and 35 gram a day. Most adults don't even come close.

I'm here to remedy that.


Cuban Black Bean Soup

1 lb. dried black beans (2 1/3 cups)
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 onion, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (Be careful!)
1 Tb. paprika
2 t. ground cumin
2 t. dried oregano
1 t. ground coriander
2 0r 3 strips of bacon
1-2 Tb. red wine vinegar
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Soak beans in water overnight. (If you add a Tb. of buttermilk, whole milk yogurt, whey or lemon juice, it will break down the hard-to-digest proteins!)

In the morning, drain beans and rinse. Combine beans, broth, onion, celery, jalapeno, paprika, cumin, oregano, and coriander in a 4-6 quart slow cooker. Lay the bacon over the top of the bean mixture. It will season the beans. I doubled the recipe and it fit nicely in my 8 quart crock pot. Cover soup; cook on high-heat setting for 5-6 hours or on low-heat setting for 8-9 hours. When 1 hour remains, check beans for doneness. Remove and discard the bacon. Stir in vinegar; season with salt and pepper.

Puree 4 cups of the soup in a food processor. Add pureed soup back into the pot. Stir to combine. Serve with Tomato-Cilantro rice and sour cream. Serves 6.

Tomato-Cilantro Rice

2 Tb. EVOO
1 Tb. minced garlic
1/2 t. ground cumin
2 cups dry converted white rice (I only had jasmine, so that is what I used.)
2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (16 oz.) can tomato sauce
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
Sea salt to taste

Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Stir in garlic and cumin; saute 30 seconds. Add rice; stir to coat grains. Stir in broth and tomato sauce; bring to boil.

Cover rice mixture; reduce heat to low. Cook rice for 20 minutes and remove from heat.

Let rice stand, covered for 5 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork. Stir in cilantro and salt before serving. Serves 6

This was divine! With a "dollop of Daisy", it was heavenly. You're going to want to double this for the leftovers...I promise.