Follow Me on Instragram


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pantry Challenge - July 1st and getting prepared, sort of

So I plan on going home from work on Thursday night, determined that I will eat a real meal for dinner and THEN attack the pantry. The whole thing. Darn it, it needs to be done and I just need to do it.

Of course, it's been raining all day. Wind. Lightning. Special Flood Notices. The works.

It's the last day of the month. A BUSY month I might add.

I leave my office at 6pm. An hour later than normal, 2 hours later than I wanted. Ok, who am I kidding, I would have loved to have left at noon but there was no way that was going to happen. Granted, the last 30 minutes was spent reading a funny, and I mean, funny, as in laugh til your mascara is running down your cheeks funny, email. OMG. It was a goody. Nothing like reading an email at your respective desk and shouting back and forth through the walls (Joseph Mother Ducker) ... but anyhoo....

I get home. I'm hungry. Sonny Boy looks depressed. Princess is heading out to work. Hubby is STILL gone. My truck was giving me a red light on the dash and it read "check gauges" .... HUH?

So shoot, tell Sonny Boy, "sorry kid, need to drive Brutis tomorrow, can't drive Tahoe, overheating gauge is all funky on it" ... he says "oh, that's not good. whats for dinner?"

Boys. Princess gives me kiss, says bye momma, see you at midnight (uh, no Princess, I will be sleeping by then!).

Me and Sonny Boy hopped in Brutis, in the pouring down rain, and drove to local bar and grill down the street, ate bacon cheese burgers, fries, coke (for him) and a beer for me.

Home within an hour.

Open the bottom pantry to scope out WHICH shelf would need the least work. Notice that 'someone' organized the worse shelf (the snack/bread/cereal/cracker/kid food) ... found out that Sonny Boy was looking for HIS slim jim that I had bought last week (one for each, he opted to save his) ... and he couldn't find it. Never did find it, but certainly ORGANIZED everything on that shelf. Sweet.

So, here I am, sitting in Hubbys chair, laptop on lap, cat on the arm of chair, glaring at me (since I never sit long enough for him to hop in my lap and now the computer is there!) relaxing, typing and getting ready to flip through the channels, as a load dries 10 minutes (before hanging) and the washer washes.

So um, yeah, I need to get the pantry underway tomorrow evening. It is July 1st and the challenge is ON! 

Making Time

I remember staying home with the kids when they were younger (I've only been working full time since 2002) and the days where I could not wait for Hubby to come home and give me a break.
Now days, I can't wait for SATURDAY to come around.  I work HARD during the week, most times, and yeah, it's a law firm and it's a small law firm (meaning no pressure to meet billable hour quotas and such) but the days can be long and mentally exhausting. Plus talking to people on the phone all day long is draining in itself :)

So I try to be sure to make time for Myself! Where no ONE will bother me and I'm perfectly content.
Enter the pool. Yes. The Pool. If I get my raft out of the garage, and grab my book, towel and sunscreen, the whole household knows that Mom has a 1 hour break ... doesn't take a whole lot of effort, and it's only ONE hour, SIXTY MINUTES ... the world will not come to a screeching halt, trust me!

And of course, I need to make sure I'm safe so I use my sunscreen .... it's a spray that I really like.

Some of the sprays don't work that well, meaning the coverage is iffy, not to mention the clog factor. Nothing is more iritating than getting a little stream of sunscreen instead of a nice overall misting. To keep this from happening, shake frequently, try not to hold can upside down for long periods (hard, I know) and be sure to rinse and DRY the nozzle when finished.

I am a sun worshipper and in my younger days we would have tanning contests. My joke was I would have my first face lift by the time I was 40. When I turned 38 and had seen some of the facelifts around here (um, plastic surgery city), I changed my whole tune. Yeah, I lather up with sunscreen now and wear a hat and reapply all through the day. 

So how do you make time for relaxing by yourself?

Linking up to Works for Me Wednesdays!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Costco Trip

I disclosed over here that a Costco trip was coming up this week ... and yeah, it could sort of, kind of, maybe go against the Pantry Challenge BUT there really isn't a whole lot of pantry items.

I wanted to list a side by side of my shopping list and my receipt but I believe the receipt made it to the trash to the street already ... I can be too efficient apparently.

Ok. Here we go (and remember, everything is COSTCO SIZE):

Papertowels $14.99
Sunny D x 2 $9.79 less $3 each
Sunchip (24 pk) $8.79 less $2
Kirkland brand Fabric Softner
360 piece plastic cutlery set $10.99 (I've been delaying way too long in buying more and the last bbq we had to use REAL stuff)
3 dz xlarge eggs x 2 $3.69 each
24 pk Kirkland variety beer $18.99 (I've heard real good things about the ales so I'm excited to try)
6 pk romaine lettuce $4.29
5 lbs of large tomatoes $6.49
Organic baby spinach $4.29
Big stack of half steam trays $6.49 (these are party bbqs and part of  our hurricane supplies)
mini peppers $4.29
crumbled feta cheese $6.89
crumbled bleu cheese $7.29
pork chops (boneless) $15.52
New York strip steaks $26.35
lemons $6.99
limes $4.99
blueberries $4.99
mini cukes $4.79
honey roasted turkey breast (lunchmeat) $7.34 and $7.50
black forest ham $7.22
Beef Frank (like the ones served in the food court) $10.99 x 2
cottonelle 346 count wipes $14.99
pure protein (18pk for hubby work) $17.99
100 tab probiotic vitamin $17.49
Maple syrup $12.99
crumbled bacon bits $9.99
vanilla $6.89
panda sauce $4.99 (total impulse buy)
collagen vitamin $18.49
Kirkland tylenol brand $11.79 (fyi, you know there is a recall, right?)
Prenatal vitamins $18.49 less $3 ... NO I'm not expecting but the doctor had my MIL taking this after her surgery so figured it could help me out, ya know?
pomegranate juice, 100% $6.59
gallon skim milk $3.25
gallon 2% milk x 2 $3.45 each
4 half and half (quart) $1.79 each
3 heavy cream (quart) $3.39 each
KS Cibo $7.99 (need to go look and see what this is? I hate that when it happens.

Total $403.57 but I also had a $24.91 check to redeem (executive membership, only done for 2 months!) so $384.42 total.

I am bummed, yet again, could NOT find the carnation breakfast mix ... it's hit and miss alot of the times. Also, they were moving stuff around, as in re-arranging! Ack. Good thing too as I had Pelligrino on my list because I really enjoy it with a nice dinner. But seriously, sparkling water?? :)

So, been to Costco/Sams/BJ's lately?

July - Pantry Challenge?

I've been reading rumours about an upcoming Pantry Challenge for July.

This should not be mistaken for a No Spend Month, or perhaps, even a Severely Restricted Spending (SRS) month.

Ummm. I think I may qualify to do this:

(yeah, excuse the crappy pictures ... the kids are messin' with my stuff again and the settings on the camera were all for night shots)

This here is the bottom part of pantry. On my To Do List, I've got a shelf to organize ... that would be that 2nd shelf down, which is my baking shelf and the bottom shelf which is suppose to be condiments, salad dressings, etc. but everything else ends up there too...and seriously, I have every shelf listed (and an extra one apparently??)

And this here is the top part of the pantry. I think I called for the 2nd (which is really just the middle shelf?) to be organized. Um yeah. I think I need to do the whole thing!

Can you tell that I constantly have kids rooting around in here? I mean seriously, Hubby and I wouldn't DARE make such a mess! :)

All right, who's on board for a Pantry Challenge in July??

NOTE: Confession: I actually have a Costco trip planned this week ... I'll post my list and then post my real life trip for apples to apples comparison. Can I do it?? :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Nachos My Way

Yeah, I know. It's not the healthiest thing. But I do make it 'better' by using my fresh tomato mix to top it off with.

Ummm, I also know it's not a real recipe so much as a process...but hey, I stunned my girlfriend the other night when I told her what I was eating :) Here she thought I had a vat of melted cheese ... uh no!

Tortilla Chips (I love the blue ones)

cheese of choice, shredded (Ummm, did you forget that we are the CHEESE family?)

Lay chips out on a microwave proof plate.

Top with cheese, doesn't really take a whole lot to satisfy.

Put in microwave on high for 45 seconds.


Top with salsa and sour cream if desired. Best IF you have fresh salsa or tomato stuff that you made (NOTE: I can totally recommend that stuff at Aldi's in the refrigerator section, it's all fresh stuff, no preservatives whatsoever, I'm addicited to the garlic artichoke stuff!)

Grab a fork (for scooping) and a napkin.

Sit at a table.


Fend off the animals (and husband) when they try to grab a chip.
I do consider this a frugal snack as it's almost always stuff I have on hand anyways ...

Go ahead, fess up...what's your favorite non-nutritional snack?

Monday, June 27, 2011

The To Do List

Hubby is gone all week again. And you know what that means? The BIG To Do List reappears!

1. Closet floor. OMG. Yet again.
2. Closet rack. Ummm, somehow I've acquired a lot of clothes that do not quite fit. I appreciate the gifts from friends but need to make an effort to try on before hanging up. Way too cluttered and tight right now!
3. Garage freezer
4. Guest kitchen freezer
5. Main kitchen freezer
6. Grind coffee (breaking things up here)
7. Garage fridge
8. Guest fridge
9. Main fridge
10. Top pantry, bottom shelf
11. Baking shelf of pantry
12. Canned good corner
(these last 3 are needed for inventory purposes, as are the next 4)
13. Top shelf (pasta/rice)
14. 2nd top shelf
15. 2nd bottom shelf
16. bottom shelf (bottom part)
And then we move on the rest of the funnnnnnn stuff!
17. Laundry room, dust and mop.
18. Guest kitchen, dust and mop.
19. Guest bedroom: change sheets, dust and vacuum
20. Space bag extra pillows in guest room
21. Organizing goodwill pile. TAKE to goodwill?
22. My dresser top, PURGE junk, file papers and dust
23. Kitchen floor rugs, wash
24. Patio, clean table and hose out corners (we've finally had some rain!)
25. Clean master bath ....

And that's it ... trying to keep it simple.  I am hoping when I purge my closet rack, I'll have a nice pile to take to goodwill (I have a smallish pile going right now so...)

Any specific chores for the week on your end??

Menu Plan Monday - June 27th to July 2nd

Is anyone else freaking out that it's almost July AND the 4th is this weekend? I feel a small case of anxiety comin on!

Hubby travels all week, just left, matter of fact. Gets home about midnight on Friday. Uggg.

However, this does mean an easy as I want it to be week for feeding since it will be me and Sonny Boy for the most part ... woohoo!

Sunday - Grilled chicken breast (marinated in italian dressing) and tossed up some sweet vidalia onions and asparagus on the grill pan (this was the best asparagus I've had yet)

Monday - Chicken (leftover) with pasta for Sonny Boy. May make a few garlic bread sticks with the leftover hot dog buns to get them OUT of here. Hoping to get to the gym after work.

Tuesday - Baked potato bar. I'm betting the girlfriend will show up for this. (got a 10 lb bag of spuds at Aldi's for $2.99 ... best deal in a while). Hoping to get to gym again after work which means I need to remember to set up the oven to turn on by it's lonesome at 5:30pm so the taters will be ready by 6:30 AND the kids can eat when they want ... UPDATE: I now realize that this is the evening they audition for Battle of the Bands so I doubt they will be home for dinner ... I could make this EARLIER for all the kids to eat, potassium and carbs are GOOD for when you play hard (and bang your head).
Wednesday - sandwiches, just because I'll be home and probably exhausted!

Thursday - pizza bread for Sonny Boy and I'll have leftovers and/or salad. This is the last day of the month and I've got 5 closings scheduled. Uggg. I will probably be late getting out of the office AND most likely NO gym ...

Friday - So I really want to make these black bean burgers. And this could be the night to experiment .... and IF there is still gas in the grill, will do some fries in the grill pan .... banking the fact that it's the 3 day weekend AND my bosses thinking we worked way hard this week, lets close shop early!

Saturday - Hubby is back, he will be exhausted AND his boat guy is coming to work with him on the twins (just the usual maintenance stuff: fuel filters, etc.). I need to remember to take the italian beef out of the freezer for them to have for lunch. More than likely, this will be an easy dinner, leaning towards pizza just because he's going to be tired, it's a holiday weekend and well ... I'm going to be nice and not demand he cook ME something! :)

Linking up with Menu Plan Monday ... go check it out!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Easy Summer Dinner

I live in South Florida and we pretty much grill all year long. Except of course, when there's a hurricane coming (we do that like the DAY the warning comes out to cook up all the meat 'just in case') ... but I guess because we both grew up in the Midwest, Summertime definitely equates to more grillin'.

Lately, it seems every Friday, I am making the same thing, which is not to be confused with the same 'old' thing ... because most of us (ahem, with the exception of one boy) enjoy it and we eat it all up.

Chicken and grilled veggies.

Specifically, boneless, skinless chicken thighs AND onions, peppers and mushrooms.

Uh huh.

And if I'm really on top of my game, I go for the skewers ... because everything taste better on a stick, don't you agree?

Oh wait, do we need a recipe? Really? Ok. Here it is:

Boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into about 2 inch pieces
Handful of mini sweet peppers, sliced in 3 pieces (cuz they are small)
Onion, cut in 2 inch pieces
Skewers (wood ones need to be soaked in water for 30 plus minutes to prevent burning)
Seasoning of choice - currently I'm hooked on this stuff that I picked up at Whole Foods a while back (it's lasted a while, thankfully!)

Season the meat. Drizzle a little of olive oil on the veggies and season, mix up.

Skewer (if using), alternating meat and veggies. Just try to remember that some things take longer than others, so I wouldn't necessarily use squash with chicken thighs, you know? If you do, just put them on separate skewers. IF you are not using skewers, just take one of them grilling grates and toss the veggies in that. OR if you don't have that, you can lay the veggies on the grill, it's just way time consuming to flip them and try to rescue from slipping into the fire :) ... I know this from experience!

Heat grill and cook.

Take a picture.



Frugal? You bet! I've always got the chicken and the veggies on hand ... and heck, you can substitute whatever veggies you wanted! Just a matter of remembering to pull the chicken from the freezer in the morning ::excuse me, I'll be right back::
What is your favorite, fast and painless thing to toss on the grill?

Linking up with Frugal Friday!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mass Cooking for the Week

I work full time and then toss in the gym a few nights of the week and it's pretty hectic at times around here. Granted, the Animals are old enough to fend for themselves, Hubby knows how to cook and well, if you are that hungry, MAKE SOMETHING.

But, I'm still a mom at heart and WANT to feed the kids a nourishing meal at the end of the day. Plus I still like the thrill of feeding Hubby something he enjoys ... what can I say. Off subject: just what the heck will I do when they move out (kids)???

Anyways. I don't do freezer cooking per se because I don't have any room in the freezers to really do so. Trust me, once those babies are near empty, that will be my next project!

I AM a big fan though of pre-planning and prepping.  You know, prepare salads for the week, prep the rest of the veggies and so on. Menu Plan.

One of my favorite things is just fill the grill up.

Sometimes, it's just a matter of grabbing a few packages of meat with a small variety like the flank steak, smoked sausage and chicken breast.

Toss in a few skewers filled with peppers and onions and you are good to go for quite a few days.

Note: In my house, I have to pretty much set aside what I want for the rest of the week BEFORE I let everyone eat...we are quite big eaters around here and there's been times that the majority of the meat is GONE just because it felt like an all you can eat buffet! So normally, I will just set a variety up on a platter, place the rest in the oven (out of site) until it's cooled off enough to package up and put in the fridge. As the week goes on, just take out what you need, nuke (or heat any way you desire) and serve with a special fast prepped side dish.

Linking up with We Are That Family Works For Me Wednesday (say that 10 times real fast!)

Apologies as I've been trying to upload photos and yet again, Blogger is giving me some serious issues ... hope to be able to update and show you mass quantities of grilled MEAT!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Inspiring Reading

Ahhh, I'm in for such a RUDE awakening tomorrow afternoon.

My boss comes back from being OUT for over 10 days.

The other boss has been gone since last Thursday.

I've really enjoyed the QUIET time (at the office no less!) and have gotten a LOT of work done without interruptions ... ahem.

Seriously, lots and lots of work. It's been nice to see progress.

And of course, I've been able to leisurely surf the net and browse at my convenience.

And I found a pretty neat, informative, motivational and inspiring blog ... I'm only on page 14!

Mom On A Mission.

Seriously. The chickens. The camping. The cooking. The FREEZER cooking. The recipes. And on and on!

I want to go home, whip out the stockpile of ziplocs and have at it! Woohoo!!

Yes. I know. We all do little things with the freezer to get a little ahead of the game. Yes, I am having Tacos tonight. It's in the fridge, thawing.

But she has a PLAN! A real bonafide plan!

:) I'm thrilled .... I can't wait to follow along now!  You should go check it out!

Oh, and by the way...don't tell my boss, ok? I don't 'think' he'd can me for this but just sayin :)  ::Waving to TTC ... my favorite boss::  You all know I love my bosses and my job, right? :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Vanilla Ice Cream

A few years back, we got a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. Nothing fancy. Plug and play type thing. EXCEPT you have to stick the canister in the freezer for about 24 hours BEFORE making ice cream.

Since we've been working real hard on clearing the freezers, there was FINALLY room to put the canister in! Woohoo!!

Of course, the Animals just use it all summer long for slushies, be it sodas, koolade, gatorade, whatever they can get their hands on ... its in!  I want to try the Orangy Glad things ... I think that would be even better than trying to crush the ice in the blender!

Anyways. For Father's Day we wanted to make Hubby a shake. His favorite is Peanut Butter and chocolate chip. Regardless, we didn't get to the shake mode. But after a near disaster, we did make ice cream (see below for Sonny Boy's close call ... and my solution to scolding for not reading directions!)

2 cups cream
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar (I think this is TOO much)
1/2 tsp vanilla

With a mixer, mix sugar and milk til sugar is dissolved. Turn on machine, and pour in ingredients. Let it go for 20 minutes or til you see Ice Cream!

A few things that WE learned over the weekend.

1. Read directions. Really. Not just the ingredients.
2. Read directions. Again, not just the ingredients.
3. Be prepared to react QUICK if you do NOT read directions.

Here's what Sonny Boy did:
1. Gathered milk, cream, sugar
2. Dumped sugar in ice cream canister (with the paddle thingy in too)
3. Poured in milk
4. Poured in cream
5. Turned on ice cream maker
6. Jumped back when ice cream maker made horrible locking up freezing noise.
7. Looked at me and said "What?"

Ummm...the ingredients (sugar mostly) froze to the canister which in turn froze the paddle to the sides which meant canister could not rotate freely.

Poured all out. Lovely sugary mess on the bottom.
Ran hot water real quick inside.
Put back together, turned on machine and poured stuff back in. Grabbed the vanilla and free poured it in.

Sonny Boy had a snit. But I told him that was a perfect example of WHY you need to read and follow directions. Could have been something so much worse, I understand, but this was a PERFECT example of why you need to Read Directions. lessons and life experiences.

On a Frugal note: I don't think this is very frugal, the 16 oz container of cream was $3 plus dollars, and this doesn't make much at all ... I'd rather just buy the premade stuff on sale. This was a special occasion so it was worth it, but on a day to day basis, nah. Of course, there is the factor that you KNOW what's in your ice cream though!

So, have you all made yourself some homemade ice cream lately?

Menu Plan Monday - June 19th to 25th

It's Monday which means time to link up over at Organizing Junkies Menu Plan Monday! If you haven't checked it out before, you should, 100's of bloggers link their menu plan up and it's really interesting to see what other are eating (plus access to GREAT recipes and blogs you'd normally not come across!)

Sunday - Father's Day - made ice cream in the ice cream maker (watch for upcoming recipe, easy peasy), hot dogs and brats on the grill with some chips and mango salsa on the side.

Monday - Italian beef using some excellent crusty cubano rolls (Gym so everyone will fend for themselves but it's already cooked and ready to go!)

Tuesday - tacos (salad for me) with the works! These keep getting rolled over week to week but I'm determined! (Gym again, everyone fends for themselves, but it's all cooked and ready to go!)

Wednesday - leftovers of some sort or just soup and sandwiches

Thursday - Pizza Bread! This should make the Animals happy happy happy! (Gym. I think the kids can pull this off on their own though)

Friday - Chicken. Breast? Thighs? Wings? Not sure but it's definitely going on the grill!

Saturday - it looks like the Band has another gig which is pretty cool as they've had one every week since schools' gotten out, so we may opt to see if they'd like something to eat BEFORE they go (burgers, dogs, etc.). More than likely, Hubby and I will have steaks and taters.

So what are you planning to eat this week??

*I've had a few people email me about the Gym nights. I don't normally eat a full dinner because I get home around 8 or so ... I'm hot, tired, lacking oxygen and the desire to cook! I've slacked off a few times on dinner prep which is why some of the stuff makes a reappearance on the menu, so now I try to get most of the prep out of the way in the morning (or even during the weekend) so who ever is home to eat can whip it up themselves for the most part.

Friday, June 17, 2011

It's Not Easy

Being married.

I've been married going on 21 years (October) and I've been with Hubby since high school, so it's not like we don't know each other.

Yet, sometimes, we really don't. Or maybe we DO know each other, perhaps a little too well?

I've been being a snob to Hubby the past few days. There. I admit it. Out loud and in writing.

And I feel that I was within my rights.

He had said something to me the other night. Something totally out of line and for no 'apparent' reason that I could see.

It was uncalled for.


And I took serious, personal offense to it.

And decided right then and there, that he should KNOW that would hurt my feelings tremendously. How dare he?

After 48 hours of non-committal responses and just plain not speaking any more than necessary, I finally told him that I was DEMANDING an apology for his remark previously.

He said No. That if I took offense, then there was truth to what he said.

HUH? I said fine. Let it be then. But said, again, that I took offense to the comment and well, he needed to consider just how that made ME feel.

This morning, as he was leaving, came to say goodbye and a kiss on cheek and small hug (as it is every single morning, regardless of attitude), and he stepped back and said ...

"I also would like to apologize for what I said the other night."

Tears sprang to my eyes, but not because I 'won', but because my first gut reaction, and the words that came out of my mouth:

"Thank you. But I still don't think you realize what you are apologizing for. That you really aren't sorry."


And that makes tears come to my eyes again.  Because, see, Hubby isn't one to apologize. And that there is probably the number one reason.

Way to go.

I've since sent him an email thanking him for the apology and inserting my own apology for the reaction and not so kind words of acceptance. Did it fix it? No. But I'm hoping that it shows that sometimes, even when you think it's right, it's not.

Uggg. It's not easy whatsoever.

Energy Cluster Balls (Protein bar substitute)

I've no idea where I got this from (if it's yours, please let me know!) I am thinking that these might be an excellent quick snack to eat before the gym for that extra energy boost instead of those protein bars with a gazillion ingredients listed. That's the problem with going after work, been at least 3 hours since a meal and tired from the 8 hours of work.

I figure that since I have everything in house (stockpiled too with the great deals on peanut butter and Cheerios) it would just be a heck of a lot cheaper than buying the Pure Protein bars from Costco (at Hubby's request recently) ... plus I'm a little happier with the fact that it only has 6 ingredients (well, except the extra stuff in powdered milk and cheerios) ... so it's got to be healthier!

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup dry milk (oy, another recipe to use up this dry milk I have!)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cup Cheerios
2/3 cup sunflower seeds
Mix all everything except the Cheerios and sunflower seeds til well combined. THEN add in the other 2 ingredients.

Moisten hands and form into balls. Keep chilled.

*I'm considering swapping out the dry milk with Whey Protein but not sure yet*

*Also considering some chocolate chips - mini ones - for the Animals*

Linking up with Jessica over at Life As Mom Frugal Friday!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Brown Derby - Vintage Old Fashioned French Dressing

I've got this cookbook that belonged to my Hubby's grandmother.

The Brown Derby Cookbook, circa 1949. She got it for her birthday from the wife of the owner of Silvana Electric Products, Inc. Hubby's grandfather owned an appliance store outside Detroit MI back in the day. Wow. That would explain the pretty pink oven and stove we had for so many years in the house we live in now. How I MISS that oven :)

Anyways ... I love cookbooks. And most folks who know me know it's almost always a perfect gift. I can forgo the cheesy little cupcake books, but give me a genuine cookbook with a variety inside and I'm good to go ... I will sit and read it as a regular book...sort of embarrassing!

Anyways, here's the recipe from the Brown Derby. It should be noted that they use this dressing as the base for a bunch of other dressings which I hope to get typed up and posted soon ...

1 cup water
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 1/2 tbs salt
1 tbs black pepper
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce (that stuffs been around forever!)
1 tsp English mustard (? had to look up. Google says, HOT with ground mustard seed. I'm thinking any stone ground stuff will suffice)
1 bead garlic, chopped (that would be one clove folks!)
1 cup olive oil
3 cups salad oil (I'm using canola!)

Blend all ingredients except the oils. Then add oil and mix well again. Chill, shake well before serving.

Keeps well in refrigerator. Can be made ahead and stored in a 2 qt mason jar (seriously? I love that!)

Do you have any vintage cookbooks that you use recipes from?

Linking up to Life As Mom Ultimate Recipe Swap. Check it out ... always lots of good links!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Crunchy Granola

I've been making this recipe for years ... but it's been a little while since I've made it lately ... so it's on my list of June recipes!

I've tried to reduce the sweetness (I think it's a little too sweet) by reducing the amount of brown sugar, but then it doesn't want to hold together all that well, so I recommend the full amount as listed.

This stuff is GREAT over yogurt ...

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
4 cups oats (not the quick cook type)
1 cup nuts, if desired

Preheat oven to 275. Line 2 cookies with parchment paper (or wax)

Mix sugar and water, microwave for 5 minutes til sugar is dissolved. Mix well. Add vanilla and salt to this liquid.

Have oats in large bowl, add liquid and nuts, mix well. Spread evenly on cookie sheets as thinly as possible. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour til golden and crunch BUT still a little pliable (don't CRISP it!)
Let cool, then add dry fruit if desired. Store in tightly sealed glass jar(s).

Linking up with Beauty and Bedlam Tasty Tuesday ... great post on motivation for the garden (um, I am locking my door and drawing the blinds based on her comment about zucchini, but I will take them blackberries!) Just an fyi, I still have seeds and sprouts growing like crazy in the napkins and ziplocs on my kitchen counter ... I just know that I'm going to dig up the garden, plant this stuff, and it's going to WILT AND DIE in 12 hours. One day while I'm at work. I just know it.

Summertime and feedng Teens

Seriously, I sometimes think these other kids don't have food in their house. I say that jokingly but then again, maybe not.

Anyways. Summertime is upon us. That means kids are in the house. And for me, that means older teens.

Teens that should know how to prepare something healthy to eat instead of a bag of chips.

I do try to make it a little easier. Afterall, I am a full time working mom AND dedicated to being healthier with trips to the gym (although not as consistently as I'd like) ... so here are a few things that I try to keep on hand:

Fruits - strawberries, blueberries, grapes, melons, whatever is on sale. I don't do a whole lot of apples (most kids don't like them "as much") ... if I get good oranges, they will be devoured, but we are picky on oranges around here.

Veggies - lettuce (if I'm ahead of the game, shredded/sliced thin for sandwiches encourages them to use it), sweet peppers, sliced, celery, carrots (sticks), pickles and other hotter peppers. These can be snacked on OR added to sandwiches for more healthier bulk.

Bread and bagels. Doh. Used as egg sandwiches, grilled cheese, regular sandwiches and so on. Even better if I think ahead and make french bread for them, then they can make pizza bread, paninis or whatever they wish!

Lunchmeat. I'm hooked on the Costco (Kirkland) lunchmeats. So it's a bit more expensive at $3.59 to $3.99 lb but its vacuumed packed so I can buy 4 pkgs at a visit. I'd rather buy better quality for a little more money if it will ALL be consumed vs the cheaper stuff, less healthier (sodium and fat content) that will NOT all be consumed. This can be used for sandwiches, added to omelets, rolled with cheese for a healthier, non carb bite and so on.

Cheese. Yeah, Cheese. We LOVE cheese in this house. I do not buy the plastic wrap squares any more. I can get the real deal for just about the same price AND like I said about lunchmeat, it's just better to spend a little more on a better quality that's healthier.  We buy sliced and blocks and shredded cheese. Cheese and crackers, sandwiches, topping salads, nachos, or just plain ole cheese.

Chips. I know. But they need something on the side ... so chips it is. I try to keep tortilla chips in the house. Nachos are a huge hit. Spread chips on plate, top with cheese, cover with microwave thing, microwave 45 seconds til cheese mostly melted. Top with salsa and a little sour cream and looky there, you got a fast plate of nachos. I personally prefer to make the salsa fresh but the kids don't really care if it's jarred or not :)

Water and other drinks. Ok, here's where we fall into the trap. The kids all eat healthier for the most part so we do use the Brita pitcher quite a bit. But they like them water bottles too. I don't know if it's the convenience and the unconscious act of twisting the lid on and off? But we go through water bottles. My real pet peeve is the partially drank ones that are left. So I started buying these 10 ounce ones at Aldis for a lot less than the little chub ones. They will drink soda if its here, but not crazy like. Same with juice (I've gotten back in the habit of Crystal Light as it encourages ME to drink more fluid) and milk.

Sweets. I've been trying to eliminate the sweets in the house but there is tons of cookie dough, cake mixes, frostings, etc. to be made if they are so inclined. There was a chocolate chip baking fest the other night (Sunday) as it was raining and Sonny Boy and GF wanted to do something creative ...

So what do I suggest for foods that they can make? They do know how to operate the gas grill, oven, stove, toaster oven and microwave thankfully:

hot dogs (grill)
burgers (grill) - this has not happened YET
pizza bread
frozen pizzas
homemade pizza (using pillsbury crust from fridge)
grilled cheese
mac & cheese (oh yeah, the blue box and easy mac) ... need to leave them recipe for the rice cooker stuff from Lynnes Kitchen to try
Bagels with cream cheese
egg sandwiches
regular lunchmeat sandwiches (if I know there will be a lot of kids around for practice or whatnot, I'll set up everything in the fridge for a sandwich bar)
pasta (I've got the quick cook stuff for easier cooking as they seem to wait til they are starving to cook)
leftovers (I'll bet most of the ribs are gone by the time we get home tonight)

Linking up with We Are That Family Works for Me Wednesday ... everyone say a prayer, trip was cancelled and she's in the hospital with kidney failure ::shudder:: ... I've got a sister in law who had one removed and my neighbor just had hers removed.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Homemade Burger Buns

I got the recipe from Pennies on a Platter and she got it from Smitten Kitchen. Here's the link to Pennies On A Platter ... if you have bread issues, then be sure to check out this link ... pretty helpful!

and here is how I made them:

1 pkg rapid rise yeast
2 1/2 tbs sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
3 tbs milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tbs butter, unsalted and room temp

Mix everything but milk and butter in the big kitchen aide mixer using the paddle. I had to dig mine out of the laundry room cabinet and then dust it off and wash the bowl and all. But that's ok, I love my kitchen aide and am very sad that I haven't used it much lately. It's currently on the kitchen counter in it's new home.

So. Add the flour and mix. Once all combined, replace the paddle with the dough hook and let it go for 6 to 8 minutes to knead.

The dough is very very soft. Spray large bowl with non stick spray and dump dough in and turn over to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and say bye by for 1 1/2 to 2 hours til it's doubled in size.

Dump dough out on floured surface and separate in to 8 even pieces. Make into balls and press lightly on top to flatten for a bun like shape. Place on a baking sheet coverfed with parchment paper about 2 inches apart. Spray your plastic wrap and place lightly over these babies and let them ist for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours til doubled.

Place large pan with water in bottom of oven (lowest rack). Preheat to 400 degrees. Brush buns with egg wash and slip them in for 15 minutes or so, rotate pan half way through.

Cool on wire rack.  Once cooled, slice in half and enjoy. I toasted mine on the grill before eating with the burgers topped with swiss cheese and sauteed shrooms .... just remember that fresh bread seems to *toast* much faster than packaged bread ... in other words, you could have charred edges quickly so keep an eye on them :)

*I would try these again. They felt 'heavy' but were fairly airy looking once cutting in half. I didn't have bread flour which is specifically what the recipe called for so I may just add bread flour to my list and try again. I also need to be sure to flatten them a bit as mine got real fluffy (thought they would spread outward, not upward!)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - 06/12 to 06/18

Time to get the Menu Plan in gear! 

Sunday - ribs, hot dogs, baked beans and cole slaw (which we are rained out so this is being moved! Ended up eating leftovers and Orange You Glads :))
Monday - Chicken marsala and noodles. Will prep all in the morning to reheat after the gym
Tuesday - Fish and rice. I've got these Starkist Seasation things in the freezer to try out. Rice from the rice cooker
Wednesday - Tacos .... these are bumped from last week, ground chicken in freezer already seasoned and cooked
Thursday -  Asian Shrimp stir fry and potstickers (freezer)
Friday - Chicken thighs and peppers and onions skewers
Saturday - JIB Room ... gotta use up my $40 LivingSocial coupon ...

Looking for ideas or just want to know what others have on their tables? Hop on over to Organizing Junkie Menu Plan Mondays and check out 100's of others!  hehe...I'm like 178 or so at 12pm on Monday ... oh my!

Pizza Bread

I hate that I forget some of the easiest meals that please the masses ... Pizza Bread is one of them ...

Surely you've made this before ... it's been awhile but it's definately being added back on the rotation list ... another thing I'm teaching Sonny Boy how to make for his future as a college student.

Loaf of French Bread (or Italian, whatever you can find!)
Mozzarella cheese, shredded (or sliced)
Jar pizza sauce (or canned, or homemade)
a little bit of parsley (fresh or dried)
dash of garlic powder
dash of onion powder
Red pepper flakes *optional
Parmasan cheese (green can is acceptable for college kids) optional*

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut loaf in half diagonally. Spread sauce evenly on cut sides of bread. Top with cheese and sprinkle with seasonings. IF you have, top with pepperoni if desired.

Bake 10 minutes or til cheese is bubbly and melted. Careful when you eat, nothing is worse than burning the roof of your mouth!

This is assuming that they are still allowed to have a toaster oven in the dorm ... although I think Sonny Boy is aiming to live off campus somehow.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Orange You Glad (treat treat!)

*NOTE: Made this again and this time put 2 scoops of vanilla whey protein in (after a workout) and eliminated the vanilla ... yeah baby, that was an EXCELLENT post workout treat!*

Yeah, yeah, I know, my naming of thing stinks. Tell me about it.

But this is de. li. cious!  Got the recipe from Lynns Kitchen a while back, had written it down on a piece of scrap paper and tucked it away in the little recipe pile (you know the one!)

Hubby's driving me NUTS for ice cream. But um, I really don't have a whole lot of room in the freezer to put ice cream. Well, WHEN I get around to reorganizing the freezers, then I probably will as we've made good progress lately in eating stuff out of it (plus the kids took a 5 lb bag of wings and a 2 lb bag of fries on Friday for a fry fest at a friends house ... Hubby wondered if that was ok and I was like, HECK YEAH!).

Anyways, I remembered I had this so pulled out the massive Misc. file and sorted through 200 plus pieces of paper to find it .... TADA!

2 cups oj (I made the stuff from concentrate, cuz that's all I had, and it was ONE more thing from the freezer! I also wonder if I couldn't do frozen orange pieces instead or in addition?)
1 cup milk
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup (or more) ice

Toss everything in the blender and let it rip. Yummmmm......Hubby suggested a little yogurt next time for body and I agree ... maybe just a 1/4 cup or so ....

Enjoy (and thanks Lynne for sharing that recipe!)

Linking up with Beauty & Bedlam Tasty Tuesday ... this week is in honor of Father's Day and since Hubby is the one that pushed me to make it, I say it's for him (yes, we will probably have this again on Sunday!) ...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Frugal Entertainment - Movie Watching

We are Frugal, for the most part. Of course, I confessed over here how easy it is to fall off the wagon and have spent the better part of the week beating myself up over it. Seriously. But it is time to move on ...

I mentioned that some things I do, others would think were frivolous. And I also mentioned that each family and budget are completely different.

We have cable. Just basic cable, none of those movie channels that will bring your bill almost as high as your mortgage payment if you aren't careful.

We also have Netflix. Yes, Netflix. I get the DVD's in the mail AND can watch on the computer AND we also hook through the Xbox and/or Wii.

It cost me $16 (give or take a few pennies) a month.

And I say it's well worth it.

The kids and friends will plop down in the Florida Room and watch movies all night long. Some are funny (to me) and others are, well, ::shudder:: freaky. But hey, they are all grown kids now and if they want to sleep fitfully because of that scary stuff, so be it, just do it on THAT side of the house.

Hubby and I don't have movie night as often as we used to ... Life interferes. BUT we do watch the movies, and we do watch the online ones.

Is it money well spent? To me, yes. $10 a ticket to go to a theater? That's $20 just for the movie. I can make the popcorn, pour some soda in a big cup and be comfortable in my own living room (and not have the sound BLARING) ... pause if I absolutely MUST take a break ...

Do you do Netflix or Blockbuster online? I'm curious....

Linking up with Frugal Friday over at Life As Mom ... check it out!

Receipe Review - HG Hot Wings

I've had these on my to try list for a while and finally made them this past week.

I had to go buy FiberOne, and it was on sale b1g1f AND I had some decent coupons ... so I had it!

Can I just tell you....they look like Kibble ... as in animal food. No. I don't mean TEENS, but real live furry food.

AND, for some odd reason, the package contains TWO bags. Hmmmm

OK. So I'm off to do this ...

I had to hurry up and grind the kibble before anyone saw it...they certainly would have made comments and been a little less inclined to try the new recipe, so I grabbed the Magic Bullet, and had to do a quick wipe down as it was all sticky from one of the two legged animals...

I've got my 2 (plus, because I'm doubling the recipe) ounces of chips. Ummm. Do not feel like spending that kind of money for fat free chips ($3 for a can of pringles??)...again, Make Do!

Trust me, crush them in the bag (after you open bag), much easier...

Franks. Need to buy more Franks ::adding to list, hold on:: as apparently someone (animals??) have been using this stuff quite often that I didn't have 6 tbs!

Dip and pat. I put mine on a grate (cookie sheet) to bake ... and here's the end results ...

The end results? Not so bad. They didn't get as crispy as I had hoped. Hubby said next time to try cooking at a higher heat, say 400, instead of 375. Also, my pieces were frozen and I had them laying on this sheet to defrost some. I think maybe a little water on the tray may have acted to *steam* them a bit too ...

I would try them again, with totally defrosted chicken and at a higher heat ... Go ahead, give it a shot!
Here's the link (she's got some other cool stuff there too!)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Making Do

I came across this description of a sandwich:

Herb Roast Chicken Breast sandwich, with fresh mozzarella, portabella mushrooms, fresh tomatoes and a pesto sauce.

The picture showed it as a pressed sandwich.

Yummm....I so see this in my very near future!

Now, to just find an acceptable pesto sauce. Oh wait, I do have a small mini jar in the pantry that I could use. I probably WILL use that as I have almost everything else to make something like this, except for the yummy bread ...

BUT that's not gonna stop me! I will find something acceptable to replace it ... such as one of these lingering potato rolls (hot dog x 2 and sandwich x 5) ... which is actually sounding pretty darn good right now!

I don't have portabella shrooms, but do have plain white ones and then the canned ones that would fit in.

I also don't have the herb roasted chicken breast. But I have lots and lots of chicken and well, I'm sure I can come up with a suitable replacement to the herb roasted version ... what do you think?

I can make do with exactly what I have on hand!

I'm linking up with Works For Me Wednesday over at We Are That Family...this is SO working for me!  Today she's talking about packing and flying with 20+ suitcases for 5 people ... whoa nelly ...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Breaking the Habit

No, I'm not talking about the nicotine habit. Thankfully, we kicked that habit right out the door about 3 1/2 years ago or so (October 31st, whatever year it was that Hubby flew to Kentucky to the hand specialist for reconstructive surgery).  It's no longer such a big deal (either thing) that I don't remember just how many years it's been.

What I AM talking about is the Spending Habit.  And the need to constantly be aware of the Habit.

I consider myself to be a fairly frugal gal for the most part. Seriously.

Yes, I have certain things that I feel are necessary that others would certainly feel are frivolous ... I say the same about others, but really, each family, each budget, is totally UNIQUE in that regard.

Recently, I rediscovered how EASY it is to fall off the wagon and hop right back in bed with that SPENDING HABIT.

Vegas. Indiana. Woe Me.

First there was that sense of 'entitlement' I felt. I'm going to VEGAS baby! It's my BIRTHDAY! IN VEGAS!

So I went and bought some new jeans. 2 pairs. LUCKY brand no less. BUT I did get them for $80 for both pairs by matching a sale and the opening of a new American Express (which by the way has a zero balance BECAUSE as soon as she finished the transaction, I paid the bill ... savvy huh?)

Then came the shoes. Um. Yes, SHOES. $110 for one pair and $64 for another pair. NEITHER were practical. I took the $110 pair back with 3 days. Thankfully my conscious spoke up loudly.  The other pair. Well, I held on to them ... consulted with my two in-house fashion consultants (Princess and Sonny Boy). Both liked the shoes but questioned my being able to pull them off (walk gracefully). So continued to try them on and take them off, putting them back in the box each time, admiring how nice they looked on my feet, how tall I looked in them, how they made my calves look slimmer, etc. etc. etc.  Finally, LAST week, I returned them. Because seriously, I would be good for MAYBE one hour in them. I of course, still have a 3rd pair that I bought for $59 in the closet. I LOVE LOVE LOVE them, but again, not so sure I can pull it off (walk) gracefully. So they continue to hang out in their box too, coming out every few days to be put on my feet and admired. Odds are they will be going back too (sob).

Then recently, while Hubby was still in Indiana, I went to Bed Bath & Beyond. Hey, I had these awesome coupons for $5 off $15. Boy, did I rack that up! Total was $110.00. Yes, I got some real cool stuff. I THINK. The only thing off the top of my head I can think of is the Dust Buster thingy. Which was used non-stop for the first week and now it's sitting in the corner, UNPLUGGED. WTH?

I've noticed that I was walking out of stores (grocery, department, drug), I had a lot more stuff than I planned to buy.

I've gotten 3 pedicures and manicures since late April. Really. Wow. I usually get that many a YEAR. Of course, now I'm hooked on this gel nail polish stuff which is $25 a pop ... I did light light pink last time to see how it covers with regular color (I highly recommend this route) and it's beautiful. So I want to see how long it last ... 10 days so far.

I need to get my hair cut and highlighted. Um, yes I do.  And the grey is really starting to streak through again, it's been 3 months already...but at $150+ a pop (not to mention, I really like that it's getting longer again) I'm debating on just coloring it myself, even though I can never ever get it as nice ... but I do have some girlfriends who can 'probably' help me do highlights ... for about $10 and a few drinks?

Anyway. The reason this is all coming to light is it's time to start putting in the auto bill payments. And um, wow, I don't have much cash to play with at the moment (yeah, I do have a check in my purse to deposit, will have another check Friday, and another big check in one week but THAT's not the point) ... IF I was to look at my bank statement I think I would be appalled at all the frivilious things I've spent money on lately. I find it amazing that it's so very easy to slide right back in to bad habits. And how HARD it is to break those habits yet again.

But alas, it's time to go into rehab and kick that habit yet again. Which was the results of my suggestion to do a Reduced Spending month. So far? Not as well as I'd like it to be. Went to Publix twice, Aldi's once, Walmart once, we went out to Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza last night with Sonny Boy (graduation!) and well....I need to go to Publix AGAIN for milk. Good lord!

How about you, have you falled way off the wagon and find your self chasing after to get caught up again? Is it really as difficult as it seems once you realize it??

Baked Potato Bar

I've got one kid who is fairly picky about food. So to find something that HE likes that everyone else will enjoy too, and HEALTHY'ier' on top of it, well, I'm all in!

I buy the potatoes at Costco usually ... a big honkin 20lber. About $8. They are nice and big (size of your hand) and for the most part, pretty fresh and decent ...

Scrub the taters like wild. Um, I hate to say it, but they've been living in dirt for quite a while. Prick them with a fork, or cut an x shape in the skin (don't forget to do this, exploding taters in the oven really is a pain to clean!)

Place them all on a baking sheet and drizzle a little oil over them. Give them a massage with the oil, rubbing it all around.

Sprinkle all with course salt.

Bake at 400 for 45 to 60 minutes, til they squish a bit when you gently squeeze them.

Set up your bar. Go ahead, use some nice bowls ... don't just toss the containers on the countertop :)

Show a little love here:

Shredded cheese of choice
Bacon bits
Sour cream
Steamed broccoli (personally, I don't but if your gang likes, go for it)
green onions slice thin (or chives)
chopped tomatoes if handy
salt and pepper
and of course, soft butter
*Whatever you like or even just have on hand, add or omit to the bar. That's the beauty!

Slit taters on top, but not all the way to bottom or end to end. Now, with your hands (in towel, oven mitt, etc. as they are hot!), pinch the ends up and towards the middle to fluff up the slit part. Does this make sense? Thumbs on one end, pointer & middle finger on other end, and gently squeeze towards the middle of the tater. This is just how I was taught to do it all those years ago in a restaurant. It makes it a "fluffy" baked tater.

OR just cut the dang thing in half, fluff with fork/knife :)

Dress as desired and enjoy!

Gardening. The Frugal Way

I know, I know, our gardening season is pretty much over until like, October? Between the heat and the SUN baking everything around it, it's just useless to try and keep anything alive outside of grass. Even that is difficult this year (we are fast approaching severe drought conditions).

BUT I just couldn't help myself. I have no restraint.

I took the tomato seeds from a beautiful, delicious tomato and painstakingly placed them in a few pieces of paper towel. Lined them up. Folded the towel in half 2 times. Dampened with water and stuck in a large ziploc bag.

Added a few drops of water daily and then left them alone for about a week.

I've got sprouts. Woohoo.

I did the same thing with some excellent sweet mini peppers. Only I didn't painstakingly spread the seeds out, but they are sprouting in one large ball.

So this morning, I dug out my lettuce seeds. And the sunflowers, and the sugar snap peas. And the Roma tomatoes and did the same thing.

I also saved the root bottoms of the organic green onions I splurged on at Whole Foods a few weeks ago. Which reminds me, I need to go out and stick them in the ground NOW ...

I saved a 20lb cat litter jug. I am planning on putting about 15 holes all around in 4 rows with some in the very very bottom to try and do a self irrigating drip system. We'll see how that works. Ironically enough, I was just browsing and came across this post that shows the same thing I'm thinking, only with milk jugs. I'm thinking I need a LOT more water which is why I'm using this big honkin thing :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Ok, I'm back in business with a plan this week! At least I hope so!

After going on vacation and then having to fly out immediately for a funeral and THEN getting sick, I'm so very ready to get back on schedule with EVERYTHING in my life!

So first things first: Menu Plan!

Sunday: Shrimp cocktail (for me). Kids are all out and well, I'm taking the easy road!

Monday: Hubby is home at last. Making Sausage and peppers with onion skewers. Using the Apple Chicken Sausage from freezer. No side dish, unless anyone wants a salad too.

Tuesday: Sonny Boy graduation! I'm so excited for him. Unfortunately, it's at 7pm, he has to be at school by 5:30 and we probably won't be home til 9pm so seriously, may just make a sandwich bar up in the morning, stash in the fridge so it's ready at 9 when we get home. Luckily I have everything in fridge/pantry to do this!  I might just make up a small batch of potato salad too with the left over baked taters (2) that I have in the fridge. And maybe my favorite oriental salad ...

Wednesday: Gym? No Gym? I don't know ... But regardless, I'd like to make the Hot Boneless Wings with celery and carrots on the side

Thursday: Gym? No Gym? I don't know ... but I will be having tacos (with ground chicken, already prepared in the freezer) with the works. Meat is already cooked and I can prep all the rest that morning and have in the fridge for Sonny Boy and all to prepare earlier if they'd like to (the beauty of them being older...)

Friday: Burgers and fries. Will whip out the fryer, set it up outside by the grill and fry up some of these frozen fries and cook the burgers in the freezer. More room in the Freezer! Yes!

Saturday: We may be going to friends, or we may be staying here. We may be working on the boat for all I know :) As long as the tropics don't do anything funny, we will most likely be grillin and chillin ... and I'm thinking CHICKEN baby ... maybe chicken thighs as Satay, or just plain ordinary teriyaki, or ... I don't know ... will definately play it by ear!

So did you plan out your menu this week? If so, go link up with Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday ... 100's of others are!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Herby Rice Pilaf


That's the date stamp on this recipe from Stephskitchen. It's no longer an active website, although I really wish it was! She lived in the upper midwest and Hubby was in the service. But alas, I just googled it and nothing.

I prefer to make THIS when we have an herby type rice. BUT Hubby, for some reason, really likes that Rice A Roni (the San Francisco Treat) Herb and Butter stuff. Ummm, have you looked at the sodium content? 960 mg, 40%/44% of your daily recommended allowance. No thanks!

This, I think, is much healthier :)

1 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 tbs butter
2 1/2 cups chicken broth (really, any less than reduced sodium?)
1 envelope instant chicken noodle soup (which I never have, so I use a ramen package of seasoning, BUT see the note below!)
1 tbs dried parsley
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp sage
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 cup spaghetti or angel hair pasta (or vermicelli IF you have it), broken into little pieces

In large nonstick skillet heat over medium low heat, saute the rice, onion and celery in butter, stirring, til rice is golden brown (whoa, that's just like the Rice A Roni stuff!).
Stir in the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and cover, reduce heat. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to sit for about 10 minutes, covered.

Serve and enjoy.

NOTE: Ok, so after I've made my reference to the ramen season package, I felt compelled to pull a package out and look at the sodium count. I know it's high: ummm.... 1880 mg, 78% of your daily requirement. Whoops. I knew there was a reason I didn't eat this stuff! BUT ... I'm quite certain that half of that sodium is for the noodles too ... seriously.

So ... we DO have other options, and there are times when I don't have that stuff in the house (can you believe it?) ... Just skip the whole Chicken Soup mix/Ramen soup mix and dice up some carrots, add a pinch of salt, a bit of parsley (and if you have any, marjoram is excellent!) and any other seasonings to your taste.

Yields approximately 6 servings.

Oriental Salad

This recipe has been around forever, and actually, my copy came from my MIL which she had copied out of one of the local women's cookbooks ... I treasure it all the more now because I always think of her when I make it and now that she's passed on, well, it's still hard.

Most people like this, even if it's based on cabbage. Just an absolute delicious salad for those summer bbqs!

Bag of coleslaw (or just plain cabbage, shredded, small to medium size head)
8 green onions, sliced thin
1/2 cup peanuts (or other nuts you like), toasted and cooled
1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted and cooled
2 pkgs ramen noodles, crushed
1/2 red pepper, chopped


4 tbs sugar (I've used splenda and equal with no issues)
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup oil
2 tsp salt (I've always used less)
6 tbs rice wine vinegar
*or, you can do like I sometimes do and just use the seasoning packet and omit the salt & pepper*

Place all veggies in a large mixing bowl.

Just before serving, mix in the seeds/nuts, crushed noodles and toss gently with the salad dressing. Serve.

*Feel free to not dress the complete salad. Serve up smaller bowl and replenish as needed (only because the leftovers will be super soggy but still yummy!)

Linking up with that Fish Lady over at Life As Mom ... Ultimate Recipe Swap theme today is SALADS (my favorite!!)

Friday, June 3, 2011

While the Hubby is away

I've gone out with the girls, and now I need to tackle my LIST. Gads, what a list it is!

1. Clean South Windows (and sliding glass door)
2. Laundry: Wash, Dry, Iron, Fold, Hang
3. Grind coffee
4. Publix
5. Clean fridge out (Main, Guest, Garage)
6. Rearrange freezer (Main, Guest, Garage)
7. Menu Plan for week (Hubby home Monday, Sonny Boy graduates Tuesday, gym Wednesday and Thursday)
8. Pull recipes for menu plan
9. Clean closet floor (again?? Already?? Yes!)
10. Clean laundry room floor and countertop
11. Wash bathroom rugs (all 3)
12. Vacuum West side of house
13. Mop West side of house
14. Detail master bath: countertop, tub, shower, toilet, mirror, floor.
15. Clean mirrors on master bedroom closet doors
16. Clean off big table
17. Set postings (um, I never seem to get around to that!)
18. Clean big table. Once and for all
19. Organize those coupons (drats)
20. Make Graduation card
21. Set bill pay
22. balance check book
23. Remove checkbook from purse and stash
24. Remove debit and american express from wallet and stash
25. Place $20 for week in wallet and call it good (oh yeah, do you see this happening??)
26. Float in pool
27. Clean out swimsuit drawer. What? You don't have a drawer just for swimsuits? I live in south Florida folks, and swimsuits are pretty much part of the weekend wardrobe!
28. Clear garden (its cleared out, just need to put stuff away)
29. Figure out what to do with herbs ... plant in ground and keep fingers crossed? Continue to fight the heat and lack of water in little pots? Oh my, such decisions!
30. Dust bedroom. It needs it!

There you have it, my modified list with a few odd, fun things tossed in. And I still want to finish that book I'm reading (while floating in the pool of course!) I'm printing this out and putting on the counter to check off as I progress ... wish me luck!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Asian Chicken Soup

I got this out of an Everyday Food magazine a while back and everytime I make it, Princess devours it. That is one soup lovin kid. Easy and ready in no time flat. And most of the time, I have everything needed to make it, with the exception of the snowpeas ... but you can always modify it if necessary!

Yeah, I know it's officially summer time and most of us are experiencing high heat, but I'm still fighting a cold and well, this is so yummy ...

3 cans of chicken broth/stock
1 tbs fresh grated ginger (or if you are like me, just use the dry powdery stuff)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups water
4 oz of noodles (whole wheat angel hair, soba, rice, whatever you have)
2 boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced thin (I'm using chicken strips that I have in the freezer already)
1 red bell pepper cut in thin strips (using sweet baby peppers)
6 oz snow peas, trimmed and sliced in 1/2 inch pieces
1+ tbs fresh lime juice (I believe I still have some limes left)
2 green onions, sliced thin
salt to taste

Bring broth, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes and water to a boil over high heat.  Add noodles and reduce heat to a simmer, cook til noodles are tender, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Add chicken, pepper, and snow peas. Cook til chicken is cooked, about a minute or so (that's why you wanted it sliced thin). Add lime juice, salt to taste.


TIP: Use tongs to place noodles and other chunky stuff into bowl and then ladle soup broth over the top.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Beginning of Hurricane Season - a copy of email from the City of Fort Lauderdale


Today Marks the Beginning of the 2011

Hurricane Season.  Are You Ready?

As residents of South Florida, we are never far from the possible dangers associated with
hurricanes. The most important step everyone can take to survive a hurricane is to prepare. 
If you have not completed your hurricane preparations, the time to do so is now.

Prepare a Disaster Supply Kit Now!

Have enough emergency supplies to last for at least 3 days. At a minimum, be sure to include:
_ Water (one gallon per person per day)
_ Non-perishable, ready-to-eat food (manual can opener)
_ Disposable plates and utensils
_ Battery-powered flashlight
_ Battery-powered radio
_ Extra batteries
_ First aid kit
_ Cash
_ Prescription medication (two-week supply)
_ Eye glasses or contact lenses
_ Toilet paper, soap, wipes, personal hygiene items
_ Large plastic garbage bags
_ Change of clothes, gloves, sturdy shoes, rain gear
_ Blankets and pillows
_ Keys (home, vehicle, boat)
_ Tools (including rope, duct tape, tarp)
_ Unscented bleach
_ Supplies for those with special needs (infants, children, seniors and pets)
_ Important documents (driver's license, birth certificate, insurance papers, medical records)
_ Analog Telephone

Before Hurricane Season

. Develop a disaster plan for you and your family.
. Visit to determine if your home is in a flood zone or
mandatory evacuation zone.
. Obtain materials to secure your home's doors and windows.
. If you live in an evacuation zone, decide in advance where you will go and plan at least two
evacuation routes.
. If evacuating, make arrangements in advance for pets.
. If you plan to shelter-in-place, locate a safe room - an interior, first floor room with the
fewest windows and doors. Large closets and bathrooms often work best.
. Pick two places to meet if your family cannot return home.
. Select an out-of-state contact for everyone to call if the family is separated.
. Post emergency telephone numbers and teach children how and when to call 911.
. Check your insurance coverage and update if necessary.
. Make plans to secure your boat.
. Trim trees and branches.
. Consider taking disaster preparedness classes.
. Visit or call 954.828.8000 to sign up for the City's CodeRED®
emergency notifications.

During a Hurricane Watch

A Hurricane Watch is issued when there is a threat of hurricane conditions within 36 hours.
. Monitor local media for hurricane progress reports.
. Secure windows and doors with shutters or shielding materials (visit for
more information).
. Review your evacuation plan. Make sure your route is accessible as some roads may be
closed or blocked.
. Fuel and service your vehicle.
. Bring in unsecured items such as outdoor furniture, plants, trash cans, recycling bins,
bicycles and toys.
. Store tap water to use for cleaning and flushing toilets.
. Store important documents in waterproof containers.
. Check emergency supplies and stock up on any necessary items, including prescription
medications and items for those with special needs.
. Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings. Open only if absolutely
necessary and close quickly.
. Unplug small appliances.
. Get extra cash.
. Secure boats.
. Do not put bulk trash or yard waste out during a Hurricane Watch or Hurricane Warning.

During a Hurricane Warning

A Hurricane Warning is issued when hurricane conditions - sustained winds of 74 mph or
greater - are expected within 24 hours.
. Continue monitoring local media for storm updates.
. Complete preparation activities.
. Turn off utilities if told to do so by authorities.
. Close all interior doors. Secure and brace external doors.
. If you evacuate, leave early, take your emergency supplies and pets. Avoid roads that
are closed, blocked or flooded.
. Tell someone outside of the storm area where you are going.
. If you are ordered to evacuate and do not, you risk being cut off from police, fire and
emergency medical services for an extended period of time.
. Mobile home residents and those with special needs should always evacuate.
. If you shelter-in-place, take family members, pets and emergency supplies into your safe
room and remain there until local authorities tell you it is safe to come out.
. Use battery-powered flashlights. Do not use candles or other open flames as light sources.
. Do not go outside in the calm of the hurricane "eye." The storm is not over. Intense winds
will return from the opposite direction.

After a Storm

. Call the City's Hurricane Hotline at 954.828.8888 and listen to radio 1610 AM for
important updates.
. Return home only when local officials tell you it is safe to do so.
. Inspect your home. Call your insurance company if you have sustained damage.
. Stay off the streets. Do not drive until local authorities tell you it is safe.
. Report water main breaks, damaged sewer lines or blocked storm drains to 954.828.8000.
. Stay away from all downed power lines and report them to FPL at 1.800.4OUTAGE.
. Stay away from standing water as there may be live power lines below.
. Use telephones only for emergency purposes.
. Never drive through flooded streets.
. Monitor local media for boil water alerts.
. Throw away spoiled food and personal items that have come in contact with floodwaters.
. Never use a generator indoors.
. Use caution when clearing debris. Wear protective clothing and keep children and pets

Important Phone Numbers

City of Fort Lauderdale:
Hurricane Emergency Hotline - 954.828.8888
24-Hour Customer Service Center - 954.828.8000
Police Department Non-Emergency - 954.828.5700
Emergency - 911
City Commission Office - 954.828.5003
City Hall - 954.828.5000

Broward County:
Emergency Management Agency - 954.831.3900
Hurricane Hotline - 954.831.4000
TTY Hurricane Hotline - 954.831.3940
Special Needs Registry - 954.537.2888
TTY Special Needs Registry - 954.537.2882
Mass Transit - 954.357.8400

State of Florida:
Division of Emergency Management - 850.413.9900
FEMA - 1.800.621.FEMA (3362)
National Flood Insurance - 1.888.379.9531
Florida Power and Light (FPL) - 1.800.4OUTAGE (1.800.468.8243)
BellSouth (Repair Service) - 1.877.737.2478
TECO/People's Gas Company - 1.877.832.6747
American Red Cross (Broward Chapter) - 954.763.9900

Important Websites

City of Fort Lauderdale -
Broward County Emergency Management Agency -
State of Florida Division of Emergency Management -
Florida Power and Light (FPL) -
American Red Cross (Broward Chapter) -
TECO/People's Gas Company -
National Flood Insurance -
National Hurricane Center -

Hurricane Evacuation Map:

Generator Safety
Be sure to observe these guidelines when using a gas-powered generator:
  • Always observe the manufacturer's instructions for safe operation.
  • Run your generator outdoors in a well-ventilated area. Never run a generator indoors.
  • Protect your generator from exposure to rain. Operate under a canopy, if possible.
  • Make sure your generator is on a level, stable surface.
  • Keep combustible materials away from generators.
  • Never plug the generator directly into the main circuit for your home.
  • Keep up with your generator engine's maintenance schedule for peak performance
  • and safety.
  • Check the oil daily, or after every eight hours of operation.
  • Before refueling, turn engine off and let cool at least two minutes.
  • Keep gas fresh. Add a gas stabilizer when planning to store your generator unused
  • for 30 days or longer.  
Portable generators can be hazardous if used improperly. The two biggest risks are carbon
monoxide poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust and electrocution from connecting the
generator to the home electrical wiring system.

To avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning:
  • NEVER use a generator indoors or in attached garages.
  • Only operate the generator outdoors in a well-ventilated, dry area, away from air intakes
  • to the home, and protected from direct exposure to rain, preferably under a canopy or
  • carport or in an open shed.
To avoid electrocution:
  • Plug individual appliances into the generator using heavy duty, outdoor-rated cords with
  • a wire gauge adequate for the appliance load.
  • Observe the generator manufacturer's instructions for safe operation.
  • Do not plug the generator into a wall outlet.
  • If connecting the generator into the house wiring is necessary, have a qualified electrician
  •  hook up the standby electrical system, or have the local utility install a linking device
  • if available.
  • If at all possible, avoid connecting the electrical output of the generator into the
  • house wiring. Instead, connect individual appliances that have their own
  • outdoor-rated power cord directly to the receptacle outlet of the generator, or
  • connect these cord-connected appliances to the generator's electrical outlet via a suitable, outdoor-rated extension cord with a sufficient wire gauge to handle the electrical load.
  • Never store gasoline in the home. Gasoline, kerosene and other flammable liquids should
  • be stored outside of living areas in properly labeled, non-glass safety containers.