Sunday, May 03, 2015

Menu Plan May 3 - 9

I haven't posted one in a long time, but I have been maintaining some semblance of a menu plan.  My current goal is to clean out the pantry and start shopping from week to week.  I tend to be a compulsive when I see good sales, but if we never eat it, it's just money down the drain no matter how good a deal it is (case in point - I cleaned off the baking shelf yesterday and discovered I had jello mixes dating back to 2007 - that's right, the jello is older than my child). 

So, I'm starting to just buy the food we need for the week.  I'll probably still stock up on staples that don't go bad quickly, like pasta and rice, but on the whole menus will just be based on whatever's on sale or strikes my fancy that week.  My husband and I agree that in the long run it will save us money since we won't be throwing so much away. 

All that said, here's what's on the menu this week (in no particular order):

Steak and Pepper Sandwiches
Spaghetti and Meatballs (store-bought meatballs this time since nobody liked the ones I made last time)
Cranberry pork chops
Taco rice skillet
Chicken and Stuffing
Honey Glazed Chicken

Have a great week, everyone, and happy eating!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Can't Fight the Decluttering Bug

Anyone who's been reading this blog for any time can tell from my pictures that housekeeping isn't high on my priority list.  I can find 150 other things to do rather than clean on any given day.  Plus, I'm a packrat and I like to save things "just in case".  I'm also somewhat compulsive at the grocery store, and I love to buy deeply discounted and closeout food, some of which we actually eat.  I love the idea of magazines, and have a few subscriptions, but I rarely actually read them. 

For once all this is actually starting to get on my nerves, so I'm going to quietly start a decluttering campaign.  Nothing major, because I don't want to get halfway into a project and get burned out.  So starting this week, I'm going to pick two shelves, drawers, or piles, and give some stuff the old heave-ho.  Pantry, freezer, kitchen cupboards, book shelf, file cabinet that still has papers from before we were married, those two boxes of honeymoon souvenirs that have been unopened in the garage for almost 12 years...the only question is, where do I start???

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Caitlyn's Chocolate Chip Splash

My six-year-old is back in the kitchen.  It won't surprise me if she has a smoothie restaurant by the time she's 10 - she loves inventing new recipes!  She made this one up this morning and asked me to share it with you.  I told her that with that much chocolate, it will definitely be a once in a while treat!

Caitlyn's Chocolate Chip Splash

1 cup chocolate chips
2 pinches salt
1 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cup milk
Lots and lots of love (this can be accomplished by blowing kisses into the blender)
cinnamon sugar, for topping

Put all ingredients except cinnamon sugar in the blender.  Puree until smooth.  Pour into glasses and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Tuna Casserole

A friend of mine is looking for a good tuna casserole recipe.  I don't know that mine is any better than anyone else's, but we like it. 

Tuna Casserole

8 oz. egg noodles
1/2 medium onion, diced (OR 2 T. dried minced onion)
1 clove garlic, minced (OR 1 t. garlic powder)
2 7-oz. cans tuna fish
1 2-oz.  jar diced pimentos
2 cans cream of mushroom soup (I use the boxed soup from Pacific Natural Foods, or you could use three cups of homemade white sauce and 1 cup diced mushrooms)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 375.  Grease a 9x13 baking dish.

Boil the noodles in salted water according to package directions; drain and set aside.

If using fresh onion and garlic, saute onions (and mushrooms if adding fresh to homemade white sauce) over medium heat in a little bit of olive oil until soft.  Add the garlic and cook a few minutes more. 

In a large bowl, mix tuna, soup or white sauce, onions and garlic (sauteed or dried), and pimentos until well mixed.  Stir in noodles until combined.

Spread evenly in baking dish.  Sprinkle cheese over the top.  Bake for 35 - 45 minutes, or until bubbly throughout. 

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Helloooooooooo 2015!

And helloooooooooo sadly neglected blog!

All day today I've been thinking about resolutions.  What have I done in the past?  How quickly did I crash and burn?  What's the point?  Am I just setting myself up for failure by setting some lofty goal that I can't follow through with?

Truth is, I am a creature of habit who lives squarely in my comfort zone.  Resolutions tend to mess with that. 

So here I sit, thinking of all the resolutions I could possibly make.  Things like...

Lose 30 pounds
Save money
Clean the kitchen every night
Keep the house clean
Make a weekly menu plan and stick with it
Eat all the leftovers
Step away from the electronics on occasion
Read a book a week
Blog every week or more
Make more time for my friends
Have more patience.  With everyone.

Truth is, I'm tired.  2014 was an exhausting year.  New routines at home.  Stuff happened at work.  Stuff happened with friends.  The fact of the matter is that I've been doing life pretty half-assed lately because I'm so tired I just want to crawl in a hole.  So in truth, I need to do less, not more.  Figure out whats most important and do that.  Let the rest take care of itself.

So there you have it.  My resolution for 2015, or total lack thereof.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Freezer/Pantry Cleanout and Menu Plan

Without really even realizing it, over the summer I was working on cleaning out my pantry.  I have a computerized inventory system that my husband created, which prints out a shopping list that shows me what I'm low on for things that I've given a minimum required quantity (like chili beans - heaven help me if I run out of chili beans for my daughter, she can eat a whole can at one sitting).  It's been weeks, maybe months, since I printed out that shopping list.  Gradually, things are being used up and the shelves are becoming a little emptier and a little more manageable.  As fall stock up season is coming upon us (like canned and dry goods that always go on sale for the holidays), I need to make a more concerted effort in this area.  I've always been a bit compulsive at the grocery store, buying things just because they were on sale or they sounded good, without a real plan.  The upshot of this is that there's a lot of old food in my pantry that I've never worked into my meal plans.

I've also found my freezers to be bursting at the seams.  We were eating them down over the summer to make room for the chickens I was going to buy from my sister-in-law.  The chickens have arrived and they are ENORMOUS.  Once again, the freezer is filled!  I can't find much, and I want to make sure I have room for that free Thanksgiving turkey I am offered at the grocery store every year, but always have to turn down because there is just no room for it.

So, in an effort to eat what we have, I find myself once again needing to make a more concerted effort at menu planning, to use up what we have.  My goal for the month is to only buy bread, produce, and dairy.  I have plenty of baking supplies, breakfast food, and meat (though it appears we'll be eating a lot of sausage).  Unfortunately, other than tomatoes and tomatillos, our garden produce is just about done for the season (I planted cucumbers and zucchini a couple of weeks ago but I have no idea if anything will actually come of it).  I may get a few more raspberries but most of this second crop of the season has dried up before ripening. 

And here's our "let's use it up" menu plan for the week:

Sunday:  last night I made baked pork chops and gravy with spinach stuffing balls and salad
Monday:  Kielbasa and cabbage (I have purple potatoes in the pantry so this could look interesting!)
Tuesday:  Taco salad (I did buy Doritos for this one but everything else is already on hand)
Wednesday:  Pigs in a blanket (I LOVE this recipe!)
Thursday:  Spanish rice casserole (I have pre-cooked rice in the freezer so I'll add the turmeric and all the onions to the ground beef mixture).
Friday:  School fundraiser at Panda Express.

Have a great week everyone!  There are also tons of menu planning ideas over over at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Monday, September 01, 2014

Caitlyn's Ramen Egg Flower Soup

Hello!  I'm back!  I certainly didn't intend to take the summer off but it appears I've done just that.  I was brought back by a delicious soup my daughter made for lunch today, which she asked me to post.  I'm very excited that at the tender age of five, she already understands that, except for baking, it is perfectly ok to use a recipe as a guideline, not as a rule.  The recipe she was following in her cookbook called merely for ramen, six spinach leaves, three mushrooms, and 1/4 cup each of corn and peas.  Caitlyn's version is much more flavorful!

Caitlyn's Ramen Egg Flower Soup
(makes 3 large servings)

1 package ramen (I recommend pork, chicken, or oriental flavor)
1 large handful fresh spinach
1/2 c. corn kernels
1/2 c. peas
6 mushrooms, chopped
3 c. water (or two cups chicken broth and one cup water)
2 t. chicken base or 2 bouillon cubes (omit if using chicken broth)
1 t. garlic powder
1 T. dried minced onion
pinch dried red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten

Break noodles into a two or three quart saucepan.  Add water or chicken broth, ramen seasoning packet, vegetables, and seasonings.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes or until spinach is wilted and the vegetables are cooked through.  Slowly drizzle egg into the soup to form ribbons in the mixture.  Stir gently, and cook two minutes more.  Serve immediately.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Poblano and Cheese Enchiladas

I ran across this recipe the other day and was instantly intrigued.  I absolutely love chile rellenos and this sounded so similar I just had to try it.  Unfortunately, my salsa verde expired in 2011.  No problem, I thought, I'll just improvise with the sauce from my enchiladas recipe.  Oops, out of green chiles!  Fortunately I had some frozen roasted Hatch chiles.  And, I prefer flour tortillas over corn any day, so I swapped them out as well.  After all that, I ended up with something delicious!  The flour tortillas do get a bit soggy in the sauce so if you don't like the texture, go with the corn.

Poblano and Cheese Enchiladas
serves 4 - 6

1 c. chicken broth
1c. evaporated milk
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. chopped roasted green chiles (or one small can)
2 T dried minced onion
1 t. garlic powder
1 c. sour cream
4 poblano chiles, roasted, seeded and cut in half lengthwise
3 cups shredded cheese, divided (I used a mix of jack and cheddar)
8 flour tortillas, fajita size

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bring chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Meanwhile stir the flour into the milk until smooth.  Whisk the milk mixture into the broth and cook over medium heat until thickened.  Stir in the chiles, onion, and garlic powder.  Continue to cook five minutes longer.  Remove from heat; stir in the sour cream.

Spread 1/2 cup of sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Place half a poblano and 1/4 cup of cheese in the center of a tortilla.  Roll tightly and place, seam side down, in the baking dish.  Continue with remaining peppers and tortillas.  Pour the remaining sauce evenly over the enchiladas.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  Bake 25 - 30 minutes until the cheese is bubbly. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

In the Kitchen...Menu Plan May 12 - 15

In spite of my best laid plans, I did not stick to the meal plan last week.  The good news is, we still ate at home nearly all the time and only picked up fast food once.  Honestly, I can't remember what we actually ate, except I know I made bacon cheeseburger puffs with oven fries, ham and beans, and homemade weiner wraps and home fried potato chips.  Other than that, I honestly can't remember.  Ham and beans was the only thing I crossed off of last week's list.

Here's what's on the menu for this week:

Tuna casserole
Scalloped potatoes and ham
Chicken and broccoli impossible pie
Taco salad (Fred Meyer has an awesome Doritos coupon this week, by the way)

That's it for this week.  Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy, as my daughter would say.  Hubby will be on his own all weekend and goodness knows what he'll eat.

Hope everyone has a great week, and remember to visit Menu Plan Monday at for all your menu planning needs!

Sunday, May 04, 2014

In the Kitchen...Menu Plan May 4 - 9

I wonder how many of these "time to get back on the menu plan!" posts I have on this blog.  It's one of those things that I know I *should* do, but sometimes I just get lazy.  Actually, even when I don't have one posted here, there's usually a list on the "board of possibilities" on the fridge that I can work from.  At the moment, that board is empty as we've eaten everything that was on it.

About six weeks ago we looked at our spending and decided if we were going to move forward with any of our plans, we needed to really focus on sticking to our budget.  Next to the mortgage, food is our biggest expense (and depending on how the month goes, sometimes it even surpasses the mortgage.  So we're trying hard to stick to the budget.  Last month I was within $60.  This month, a trip to Costco with daughter in tow completely blew it out of the water. 

So now my focus is on using what we have.  I've been slowly whittling away at our over-stuffed pantry.  I found room to put my new ice cream maker in there, so that's progress.  Eventually I hope to have a whole section dedicated to kitchen equipment, because my cupboards are overstuffed with pans and small appliances (gadget girl here!). 

In a couple of months, I'm going to be getting five farm-raised local chickens, so I need to make room in the freezer for those.  I'm really excited about that - local chicken is hard to come by around here!

This week, I need to use up sprouting potatoes and broccoli.  Speaking of broccoli, which makes me think of broccoli beef (word association!), I need to find a new cut of beef for making broccoli beef.  We've been using hangar steak, which we LOVE LOVE LOVE, but it's $8 a pound now or something ridiculous like that, and I can't justify that while we're trying to scale back.  Flank steak would be perfect but it's even more expensive.  Thinking about bottom round but I need to do a little research online and see what other people are using. 

And so, without further adieu (er, total babbling), I present...our menu plan.

Scalloped potatoes and ham (this will only have two cheeses this time!)
Chicken and Broccoli impossible pie
Chicken Strips and Oven Fries
Grilled sausages with black bean and rice salad (salad recipe from this  cookbook)
Ham and Beans (I will likely use a different kind of beans as I'm not fond of limas, though I do have butterbeans (large limas) in my pantry).

What's cooking in your kitchen?

Have a great week!  And, as always, remember to visit Menu Plan Monday at for more menu planning ideas than you ever imagined!