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Saturday, December 8, 2012

December's Menu Plan

Menu planning is the first step in maintaining a routine for eating at home around the table.

I have tried MANY ways to menu plan and the one that works the best for our family is make a plan for the month. A month is twenty means for us. Every week we have a meal of leftovers and a pizza night.

I then just come up with twenty meals. I do not assign days to a meal. I just have the menu plan and ingredients ready. That way if I go to my menu plan and see fried chicken and I'm not hungry for that, I can just skip it. I also do not assign side dishes or vegetables. I just have the main dish and then add sides as we want. One of the many benefits of putting up vegetable in the summer. The are right at your finger tips as you want them. :)

Here are our twenty meals for December -

  1. Cheesy Chicken Lasagna
  2. Salmon Patties
  3. Meatloaf
  4. Oven Fried Chicken
  5. Chile Colorado Burritos
  6. Ham and Cheese Sliders
  7. Beef with Broccoli
  8. Mexican Chicken Casserole
  9. Crockpot Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti
  10. Sweet and Sour Meatball
  11. Baked Ziti
  12. Ground beef, Black bean and Cheese Taquitos
  13. Ground Beef Stroganoff
  14. Classic Patty Melts
  15. Chicken Pot Pie
  16. Chicken and Dumplings
  17. Tacos
  18. Soup and Sandwich
  19. Bourbon Chix
  20. Appetizer night for New Years! :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Last year we vowed to eat at home every day of the year last year. Well...

We failed miserably. We are no better off financially. We are over weight and tired. We are discouraged.

We were not as successful at bringing our family back to the table and I want to try again.

I could go into the long said story that sent us spiraling off course, but there is no time. I will spare you the details. :)

This year, we're going to try again but we're not going to be near as hard on ourselves. ...

Yes. We want to eat at home every day BUT if we mess up, we'll try again the next day. Not just quit all together.

Have you read Lysa Terkaurst's book "Unglued"? If not, you should. We're going to keep going. Make imperfect progress.

What should you expect? Transparency. And some recipes and reviews.

So please, try this again with us. As we try "Take Two!". :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies

How hard can chocolate chip cookies be?! Well I have the worst time making them. I always screw them up. Today I made a recipe that was so delicious and fool - proof that I had to share!

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup of sucanat or brown sugar
1/4 cup of rapadura or white sugar
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups of semi sweet chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugars. Add remaining ingredients. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.

That's all! Enjoy!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sick Kids and Chaos

We have a lot going on right now. Sick kids, house needs and more. I need just plain ol' time off the computer.

With that being sad, I wanted to let you know that we will be eating at home still but I just need a week or so to get things back together. After I get things caught up, I'm turning off the computer and spending time savoring my blessings.

So I will be back, I just need a break.

I need a week to renew and refresh and get back into some good habits.

I cannot wait until the next time we "meet"!


Friday, January 20, 2012

Sausage Gravy

Day 20 of 366... 

On of the biggest fears I had about this challenge was that I LOVE food and there are certain restaurants which have food that I crave All. The. Time.... 

Panera has soups and sandwiches that I love... 

A local family-owned restaurant has the best sausage gravy...

And the list continues on...

Learning how to make some of your favorite foods at home can be a big cost savings. Today I calculated just how much I was saving by making the sausage gravy from home... I was astonished!

But first - the recipe... :) 

Homemade Sausage Gravy

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/2 pound sausage
salt and pepper

Brown sausage in a pan. Take sausage out of pan with slotted spoon. Leave grease in pan. 

Add the 1/4 cup of butter. Melt on medium heat. 

As butter is melting, add the 1/4 cup of flour. 

Stir. It will be extremely liquid-y. Stir constantly until it begins to boil. Turn heat to simmer/low for 10 minutes and stir occasionally. Add sausage. Stir and serve.

This is a super easy and quick recipe. Almost always we have the ingredients on hand for a quick and easy dinner. We pair it with hashbrown potatoes and eggs. Delightful!

Now for the "break-down":
  • 1/4 cup of butter- that is half a $.69 item - we'll say 35 cents! :)
  • 1/4 cup of flour - there are 30 1/4 cups in a 5 lb. bag of flour - Bag of flour (not on sale) is $2.99 / 30 is about 10 cents rounded up as well. We are out to 45 cents.
  • 2 cups of milk - 16 cups on a gallon - milk is $2.50 around here. $2.50/16 is about 15 cents times 2 - 30 cents - up to 75 cents!
  • sausage - We pay about $2 for our sausage where we buy it. We used half. So that's $1 - up to $1.75.
  • bread to eat it on - We only get bread when it's on sale. We paid $1 and used half a loaf - 50 cents - up to $2.25.

Now granted a lot of times we have eggs and potatoes with them but the eggs come from the chickens on family farm and are given to us at no cost and the potatoes are raised in the garden so no cost for them. BUT we often have leftovers and have at times just eaten the sausage gravy alone. It's rich and fills my family's tummies! :)

Now let's compare the cost of the sausage gravy at the local family restaurant to that of the gravy made at home. We generally had to buy three plates of the sausage gravy and biscuit plate to feed our crew. Each one of the plates cost $5 and then you add drinks and tax and tip. Let's just go on the sausage gravy - at the restaurant we would have paid $15 plus tax and at home I fed my family for $2.25 and tax free! That is at least a $13.75 savings!

Finding "copycat" recipes of some of your restaurant foods could be a great way to get you back to the family table. 

How about you? Do you have any good "copycat" recipes?

I hope you have a blessed weekend and see you Monday!

*This post is linked to Frugal Fridays.*

Thursday, January 19, 2012

No Dining Out Diary - Jan. 19, 2012

We are now almost three weeks into our eating at home challenge. To be honest, I never in a million years thought it'd be going this well. I thought I'd be having cravings and I'd be throwing a hissy - crying, whining and stomping my feet - about not going out to eat. Nothing like that has happened.

Today was the first time when I had to tell myself "no". I was sitting waiting on my oil change to be finished and I looked over at McDonalds and thought, "I'd really like a hot chocolate and sausage biscuit. I forgot to eat breakfast."

I honestly think a lot of my over eating and dining out stems from boredom. I wasn't "starving" but I had nothing to do or think about so I thought about walking over. After I laid down the law and told myself "NO!",  it wasn't even an issue.

I have already seen a couple of HUGE positives from us eating at home...

Before when we were dining out regularly, I had horrible stomach problems. Every time I ate, I threw up and was miserable - whether I ate at home or dining out. Those problems are no longer existent. It is amazing!


I have lost  8 pounds in three weeks! Woot!!

Now I just need to be more diligent about cutting out soda and other sweets from our eating at home challenge. But if you ask me, I think we're doing pretty good! :)

Blessings to you on your journey!

Slow Cook Chicken and Dumplings

Day 17 out of ... 366 - We're making progress! :)

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, frozen
  • 2 Tablespoons of salted butter
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup of white cooking wine
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon chicken seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1 batch of drop biscuits

1. Put frozen chicken in slow cooker, cover with soup, broth and wine. Add butter, seasoning, parsley, onion and salt and pepper to chicken.
2. Cover and cook on high for 5 to 6 hours on High heat.
3. An hour before serving, drop biscuits in by the spoonful. Stir and cover. Cook until dough is no longer raw.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Eight Reasons to Get Your Kids Around the Table Tonight

Andy and I are working really hard to get our family around the table each night...

But why? Why is it so important to us to bring our family back together around that wooden sanctuary?
  1. Kids might learn to love veggies. A survey was found that 9 - 14 year old children, who ate dinner at the fa were eating more fruits and vegetables and not as much soda or fried foods. 
  2. It's the perfect setting to try new foods. My kids will barely sit down in a restaurant much less eat something other than chicken and fries. I would be less likely to allow them to get something they may not like and pay for it than serving it at home. I would expect them to try it and if it was not a favorite, I would not have to order another meal.
  3. You control how much they eat (portions). Restaurant portions are becoming larger than necessary. Often the kids eat too much and if they don't eat it all, it's considered waste. At home you can start as little or as large as you'd like.
  4. Healthy meals mean happy kids. Studies have shown that kids who eat with their families frequently are less likely to get depressed, consider suicide, and develop an eating disorder. They are also more likely to delay sex and to report that their parents are proud of them. When a child is feeling down or depressed, family dinner can act as an intervention. You are more aware of how your child is feeling when you are sitting across a table and watching them for 30 minutes or so an evening.
  5. Family dinners help kids “just say no.”  Eating family dinners at least five times a week drastically lowers a teen’s chance of smoking, drinking, and using drugs. Teens who have fewer than three family dinners a week are 3.5 times more likely to have abused prescription drugs and to have used illegal drugs other than marijuana, three times more likely to have used marijuana, more than 2.5 times more likely to have smoked cigarettes, and 1.5 times more likely to have tried alcohol, according to the CASA report.
  6. Better food, better report card. Of teens who eat with their family fewer than three times a week, 20 percent get C’s or lower on their report cards, according to the CASA report. Only 9 percent of teens who eat frequently with their families do this poorly in school. Family meals give children an opportunity to have conversations with adults, as well as to pick up on how adults are using words with each other, which may explain why family dinnertime is also thought to build a child’s vocabulary.
  7. Supper can be a stress reliever.  If you take the time to shrug off the day, let your worries slip away and sit down to dinner with your family - you'll probably relieve some tension and stress. Sit back and have a good time with your family.
  8. Put a little cash in your pocket. It costs less! :)
These are all reasons that we think bringing back the table works for us. Do you have any other good reasons? It would awesome to compile I huge list! 

Uncover your table, make it inviting and bring dinner and your family to the table. It could have a huge impact on everyone sitting around it! 

Enjoy and Delight in Your Family!

Here are some posts to help you find your kitchen table and bring your family dinner back to it:

*This article was paraphrased from a Fox News article and linked to Works for Me Wednesday.*

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Apples on sale "From The State Up North"

This past weekend as I walked through the grocery, I saw that apples were on sale for $.69/ pound. What an exciting and awesome deal to stumble across. As I gathered them up, my mind wondered back to my applesauce recipe. 

My family eats A LOT of applesauce. I make applesauce bread, pancakes and many other recipes with applesauce. It is also a much desired snack.

Today for Tempt Your Tummy Tuesday and Tasty Tuesday, I thought I would share my applesauce process with you. It's easy and everyone has the supplies on hand!

Remove stems, leaves and clean apples thoroughly. Core and slice. (You can peel them if you'd like. I have a Kitchen Aide mixer attachment that separates the apples from the skin after they are cooked. Sometimes, I also leave the skin on and use a potato masher. I then pull the skins out of applesauce. I, personally, feel like there are a lot of nutrients in the skin and I should keep them intact as long as possible. I might be right. I might be wrong but it makes me feel better! :) ) Put apples in pans and cover with water. Add 2 tablespoon lemon juice to keep the apples from turning brown.

On medium- high heat, slowly bring the apples to a boil. Boil for 25 minutes at a steady but not rolling boil. Cook apples until soft and apples are starting to fall off of skin. The next step is all up your personal preference. It really depends on my mood and what the kids have been eating. When the apples are of ample tenderness, assess the water level. Sometimes my kids like more fluid-y applesauce and sometimes that like chunky and think. If you like fluid-y, drain apples until water is just under the top layer of apples and mash using potatoes masher. If you like thicker applesauce, drain water to about two inches of liquid in pot and mash with potato masher. 

Spoon applesauce into clean and sanitized jars which have been expected for chips and nicks. Take a butter knife and press along side of jar to release air bubbles, wipe rim of jar mouth and wipe seal. Place on top and tighten ring around jar and seal.

After you put the applesauce in the jars, remove air bubbles, wipe jar rims, and put on lids and rings, the applesauce needs sealed. Some people freeze their applesauce. I choose to pressure "can" it. I don't really have a lot of freezer space so whatever I preserve through "canning" really helps.

Put the jars in a large stock pot or canning pot (needs a lid), cover with water (water needs to be one inch above jars) and bring water slowly to a rapid boil. 

When a rapid boil is reached, allow the boil continue for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes, turn off heat and leave to sit. When the jars are cool (Mine sit overnight) remove rings and make sure lids sealed. Applesauce is good, if sealed properly, for three years.

So if you see apples on sale in your area, grab a few and head home to make applesauce. It isn't hard and it has a great, fresh taste! Also remember this recipe next fall as apple orchards are coming alive!

An apple a day keeps the dentist away. So go and find some good apples!

This Journey Has Brought Me to You!

When Andy and I started this journey just two short weeks ago, I never thought we would get the out pour of support and love from so many people. We have met so many people and learned so many things from you.

Today I am so grateful for the encouragement and support from all of you. It means so much!

In order to continue on this journey of eating at home every meal and bringing back the dinner table, we will have to rely on your support and accountability to keep going.

I pray that the Lord uses this blog and we are trying to achieve for His glory and pray that it grows and reaches from the top of the sky to the bottom of the sea. I want this to be my testimony for Him. With your help and sharing about this blog, you can be a part of that as well.

Thanks again so very much from the bottom of my heart.


*This post is linked to Gratituesday!*

Monday, January 16, 2012

Isn't About Time to Know About Me?

As more and more different locations are popping up on my stat reader and I have more followers than just family and IRL friends, I think it's time that I introduce myself and tell you a bit about myself and what I love...

In simple words...

Wife. Mother. Daughter. Friend. Lover of Christ. Help- meet. Trying to figure it all out as the Lord guides my steps and I raise up my fleet of arrows.

More in depth....

* I am the daughter of the King. I do not deserve His forgiveness nor His love but somehow, He saw fit to cleanse my sins with His own Son's blood. How grateful I am to be His.

"O victory in Jesus, My Savior, forever. He sought me and bought me with 
His redeeming blood; He loved me ere I knew Him and all my love is due Him, he
 plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood!"

* I am wife to a wonderful, Godly man, Andy. I never saw him coming but I thank the Lord daily that His plan included Andy and I together.

"But there's nothing I can do. I only wanna be with you. You can call me a fool.
 I only wanna be with you."

* I am mother to three beautiful boys: Dylan, Lincoln and Kristian.

Dylan is six years old. I refer to have as my "life savor". Not only did he save my physical life and get me off the road of self-destruction, he brought me back to Jesus. The real life that needed saved. 

Lincoln is three years old. I refer to him as "God's Symbol of unconditional love and mercy". Lincoln brought my spiritual life to a whole new life. He showed me that God really does forgive and brings new mercies and blessings to you daily.

Kristian is one year old. Kristian showed me that God still is in the miracle business.  That's it simply put. :) 

* I have many passions but mostly I am on the journey of being a Godly woman, wife, and a mother in a world that sees little value in those ambitions.

In this year 2012... We have resolved to eating at home every meal and bringing our family back to the table. 

At the very end of 2011 we also threw in paying off $20,012 of debt in 2012. Those are both very challenging ambitions. So far we're off to a great start and enjoying every minute of it! 

Please join us as we embark on these journeys. Hold us accountable, give us advice and watch as we hit bumps in the road. A road without others is a very long and boring road!

Blessings to you and yours as you embark on your journeys!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Menu Plan #3 - Jan. 16 - 22

We are now headed into the third week of our challenge. We are going strong. So exciting and we're already seeing the positive affects it's having already. Thanks so much for following along and holding us accountable. It is MUCH appreciated! 

Monday - 1/16/12
ground beef tacos, homemade re-fried beans, homemade Spanish rice, salad

Tuesday - 1/17/12
slow cooker chicken and dumplings, green beans

Wednesday - 1/18/12

Thursday - 1/19/12
shredded barbecue beef, potato skins, peas

Friday - 1/20/12
pizza, fruit/veggie tray

Saturday - 1/21/12
chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, homemade white gravy, green beans

Sunday - 1/22/12
potato soup, deli meat sandwiches

Happy Menu-Planning Monday! :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Update and Concentrate

We are almost two weeks into our challenge and loving every minute of it. We have yet to miss eating out. It has been great. We have even endured sickness, exhaustion and crazy days already. Honestly, it has been so nice. As I browse the cookbooks, I get more and more excited about all the recipes I get to try. What fun!

Today I am going to pull out my soap box, hop up and hope you don't run away.

This journey/challenge was made for many reasons- bringing our family back to the table, health, finances and many more. Today I want to talk about something which I don't quite understand...

Juice vs. Juice Concentrate

I am a firm believer that high fructose corn syrup is NOT just "another sugar". I believe that it is slowly disabling and killing our bodies and minds. There are many studies linking HFCS to headaches, ADHD, diabetes and weight gain (just to mention a few).

Andy and I made it our mission to rid our home of it two years ago. And while we haven't done perfectly, we've made great strides.

One of the biggest struggles I had was with juice. My family loves juice. I LOVE juice. However it's extremely hard to find juice not containing HFCS.

I looked through pre-made juices and juice concentrates. I found one brand of juice concentrate which is generally healthy - Old Orchard. I really like it. Our local Meijer often has it on a 10 for $10 and get the 11th free. This is a really good deal for juice not containing HFCS.

This leads me into my next question. Why do we pay big companies to add water to our juice and pay an exorbitant amount of money for that water? Has our society gotten so lazy that we cannot add water and stir our juice? Just a "fruit" for thought... Get it? Fruit for thought?! Ha!

What kinds of juice do you buy for your family? With water or without? Why?  :)

Sweet juice thoughts until Monday!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Egg Burrito Casserole

This is one our favorite breakfast for dinner meals. We have it often. I hope you enjoy it!

Egg Burrito Casserole
1 pound sausage
8 eggs + 1/4 cup water, beaten
2 cups frozen hash browns
2 cups shredded cheddar, divided
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
8 -10 flour tortillas

Brown the sausage.

Cook the hash browns.

Scramble eggs. Mix sausage, hash browns, eggs and 1 cup of cheese together.

Mix cream of chicken soup and sour cream.

Spread 1/3 cup of prepared sauce in bottom of  9x13 baking dish. Spoon mixture into tortillas. 
Roll and place seam down in dish.

Spread remaining mixture of top of tortillas. Cover completely.

Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pineapple Bliss Cupcakes

We started Weight Watchers points this week and I needed to take a desert to our last Christmas event. I went over to Skinny Taste and started looking through the recipes. I found this one that I loved and I don't even like pineapple. It is easy and delicious!

For Cupcakes:
1 (18.25 oz) box of yellow cake mix (you could make this from scratch if you'd like!)
1 (20 oz) can of crushed pineapple - do not drain!

Mix together on medium speed. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake according to box directions. Cool.

For Frosting:
8 oz of cream cheese
1 (20 oz) can of crushed pineapple - drain well!
3/4 c marshmallow fluff

Combine and spread unto cooled cupcakes. Refrigerate until reading to be eaten.