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I am a lucky Woman, I have a Husband that loves me, a beautiful grown step-daughter, a 15 yr old son and a 8 yr old son. I try to create a home that is warm and will linger with memories of Mom's cooking and being home for my children. This isn't always possible, considering they rough house, I get tired and hit the Mcdonald's drive thru and sometimes buy clean socks for them instead of wash it.... I try to do a menu plan, hang our clothes out to dry, use coupons, go to Church every week.. and pretend I am a stay at home Mom while working 40 hours a week

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Winter Jam, Dust and Potato Soup

            So Friday Brian had the pellet Stove guys come out to take alook at it, we still aren't sure if the problem is fixed or not... it has been doing this low roar thing that sounds like a CATA bus passing the house, for all you local folk. There was a 2 hour delay, so I was home, trying to work when the guy showed up and Brian was here as well. All the sudden, Brian says " Can you get some blankets" or something to that effect I can not remember ~ my panic set in at that point, cause I knew what that meant, the electrical crap downstairs in the family room needed covered due to the massive amount of dust,soot and basically all the stuff that should have gone up the pipe or somewhere other than my family room. Needless to say, I was not dealing with it and neither was Brian at that moment. We covered the T.V and the Computer Monitor and CPU. 

           My plan for Friday night was to clean the basement, yea right NOT- my phone started beeping with texts about going to the Winter Jam, which I knew the kids would love it- and I wanted to see David Crowder. Brian got home first, bless his heart and made dinner..Chicken tenders and onion rings- all frozen- but heck that is why I keep that stuff in the house!!! I got thru the door and said - forget the basement, let's go to Winter Jam! So off to Winter Jam we went. Max had a blast, sayin we missed the best part- the News Boys, getting a ride home from Pastor Howard. Brian and I left early with Connor, being his ears are over sensitive due to his low vision.

              So - that brings me to Saturday morning, armed with my Mrs. Meyers, paper towels and my head in a "DooRag", Brian and I proceeded to clean the family room from 9:30  to 2:30 pm... that room is so clean- I don't even know who lives in this house. I swear by the Mrs. Meyers- it may seem like alot to put out in the beginning for the price- but it smells incredible and lasts forever and cleans like a dream..

                I am so grateful I have a husband who is willing to help me clean up, I would have puttered out after half the room, he literally washed the walls, dusted his heart out and joked with me the whole time, it was actually almost fun. The kids left us alone considering they might have to help, kinda like a cleaning date!

Tonight we had Loaded Potato Soup.. a recipe I sorta made up.. I have always used real actual potatoes, well I had a coupon for Oreda, and got the shredded hasbrowns, I saw a recipe that used them in a potato soup.. so of course I thought~ I can improvise this!
Here is the recipe~

Loaded Potato Soup
1 stick butter
1/4 cup flour
3 small onions chopped
2 quarts of milk (i am frugal I used my powdered milk, I was cooking and that is my rule.. when you cook use powdered)
1 bag of shredded hasbrowns
seasonings to taste~ celery seed, pepper, salt, oregano
2 scallions chopped
1 and 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Chopped Scallions
Sour Cream
Shredded Cheese

make roux of butter and flour in large stockpot, melt butter- add flour cook on med hot~ stirring constantly~ add chopped onions. Once onions are tender add milk, potatoes, seasonings, cheese and scallions. Stir often keep on med heat- even low heat.
I used an immersion blended right in the stock pot to smooth everything out- it isn't necessary. 
Serve with toppings!

This was my bowl- I added alot of the toppings- cause I love toppings, obviously this is all by taste preference!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Banana Bread and Oatmeal Cookies mmmmmm

            So I said the other day that I was making Banana Bread, and I would post. I use my Fannie Farmer Cookbook that I adore, the ingredients are always in the house and I never seem to have problem allowing my Bananas go passed the actual eating raw stage.. then the house starts to smell like my Great Grandmother's house in New Jersey~ over-ripe banana smell. "Grama Marty" my father's grandmother... I hate that smell of over-ripe bananas. I never thought Grama Marty was particularly nice to begin with, so I try to use up my bananas that are over ripe before the house is invaded by the offending smell...

The recipe~ Fannie Farmer Banana Bread
  • 3 ripe bananas 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 cups flour 
  • 3/4 cup sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/2 cup nut meats, coarsely chopped ( I never add these~ it doesn't mean you can't)
  • I always add a teaspoon of vanilla and a teaspoon of cinnamon.  

  Mix in a bowl 3 ripe bananas, well mashed, vanilla and 2 eggs, beaten until light. 

  Sift together 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, cinnamon and 1 teaspoon baking soda.
  Add to the first mixture.
  Add 1/2 cup nut meats, chopped.
  Stir well.
  Put in a buttered loaf pan 9 by 5 inches.
  Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees

               While it was cooking, Max and Connor were down stairs in the family room doing homework and watching tv- you can guess which one was doing what... they both came up stairs at least 3 times during that long hour to ask "What is that smell?"
and "When is that gonna be done?" Connor had 2 huge pieces and Max one.. both warm with butter mmmmm. I Love LOVE that I can make something so simple and have both the boys be so happy with it! 

                 I DID not want to bake over the Christmas Break~ Brian was the baker this Christmas, I was more content with making sure he had all the ingredients and being his wingman- AKA dish washer for his baking. Now- I feel more in the mood to bake.

                Last night I made Oatmeal Toffee Cookies at 7:30, which for me is late, but I realized I had two huge old school Tupperware containers of quick oats that need to be used up soon... so I see a google search for Oat recipes coming soon!
                I got the recipe from the Taste Of Home Website, their community bulletin boards are a wealth of older women posting tried and true old recipes, handed down for ages! I would print and print the recipes out, trying them, as I made them.. I would star the good ones and then attach them to index cards, to store in my Oh I love so much Longaberger recipe basket! 

Here is the recipe since the picture really isn't that clear~
Oatmeal Toffee Cookies
1 C Butter ( I never use margarine for cookies)
2 eggs
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups of flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups oats 
1 and 3/4 cups of toffee bits- I normally just use the whole bag of Heath Toffee Bits/Brickle
1 cup coconut - optional- I didn't have it so my option was to not use it!

Beat butter,eggs, sugar and vanilla until well blended. Add flour, basking soda, salt and cinnamon, beat until blended. Stir in Oats, Toffee and Coconut with spoon- I do no do this- I add them all to the mixer.. one cup at a time until it is blended in.
Drop lightly onto lightly greased cookie sheets and bake 8-10 min at 375.
I used my Pampered Chef medium sized scoop cause I wanted larger cookies. And I used the Spray Olive Oil lightly on the pan.

They flatten out nicely too

I left them on the pan to cool for about 2 min and then transferred them to a cooling rack.. I love my cooling racks. I bought them when I was pregnant with Max, now every time I use them I am reminded of how far my life has come and how much I love being a Mom and Wife.. ahhhh so little of a thing those baking racks, but I will never get rid of them!

So- try the recipes, let me know what you think or even shoot me off your fave Oatmeal Cookie /Banana Bread recipe.. I love Heirloom recipes and "This is my Great Grandmother's recipe" It is exactly what I am trying to provide for my kids so that they have those special treat recipes that need to be handed down:)

*on a side note- I have figured out how to create a post and set it to post anytime during the day - which I am loving cause I can set it to post at a time during the day instead of doing them at night then posting them at night.. when not too many people are on line:) Yea me!!! a Technical WIN

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2.99 for a pack of Jello cups? I think not....

            Today we had to take Connor to the dentist, he needed a cavity filled and a tooth pulled...I was worried he would not be able to eat anything this evening, being as I have had a tooth or two (okay like 8) pulled. The little guy loves jello- but only in little cups. All the boys seem to turn up their noses to jello in a glass baking dish like my mom used to do. I went to the store last night totally willing to purchase the jello cups for my soon to be brave little man, until I saw they were 2.99... are they nuts? I can get a box of jello for 69 cents!!!! But the cup- I know he won't like it in a dish.
            Feast your eyes on this Frugal Solution and sigh in "why didn't I think of this earlier" and if you had thought of it earlier- or before this post- don't tell me cause I will be mad that you didn't tell me! I feel as though I have been shorting my kids of Jello for the last 14 yrs!!!
             Brian likes the "YoCrunch parfait" yogurt, so when I have a coupon, I get it. I started keeping the containers in the thought that I would be able to use them for something, well I found my something! I had 3 of them and 2 of the mini gladware containers, I took this picture after Connor had already eaten 2 of them. 20 minutes later, Max ate one, Connor had another one and Brian ate the last one. I have Melon Jello in 5 of the mini gladware containers now...soooooo bring on the boxed jello baby- I am in business!

Tonight was HamPot Pie
            I had made a huge batch of this over Christmas time and froze it- I have never ever had enough to freeze of this so I had no idea how it would taste after being frozen... but it was just as good as the day I made it- okay, close but not perfect cause you don't have the huge pot on the stove simmering!
Here is the recipe, that mind you is a NOTRecipe, meaning I add, subtract and use alot of what I have on hand, adjust to your families likes and dislikes with the ingredents:
The Soup~ 
Cook a ham bone in water to make a broth, I use Peight's chicken stock base to add flavor as well- I have tried ham stock base- but none of the boys liked the taste.
add seasonings like celery seed, pepper,tarragon, parsley what ever you like. I add different stuff each time! I ALWAYS add about a cup of Peights Dried Soup Greens... 
Pull meat from ham bone add back to stock, bring to slow boil/simmer Make sure you have a decent amount of broth- I make this in a huge stockpot and I bet I have it only 6 inches from the top. 
Now - make the PotPie~
3 eggs slightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
enough flour to make a stiff dough
Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into strips, I use a pizza cutter.. be generous with the flour on your rolling surface and on the dough as you roll it out- this thickens your soup . Make sure your stock is close to boiling - if not already boiling, adding about 12 pieces of dough to the pot, giving a quick stir so they don't stick and repeat until all the noodles have been added. You wanna give the noodles a little time to cook, like once the soup returns to a hard simmer, add more noodles...
these noodles puff up a good bit, so make sure you are using a large pot!
I have Banana Bread in the oven right now.... I will post it soon!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A complete HodgePodge~ Entryway,Meatballs and Lazy

           So tonight is supposed to be spaghetti and meatballs. I have the meatballs made from when I had a insane moment before Penn State's Christmas break was over, I made like 50 of them. I think that I will actually make it, since I am feeling like I am ignoring the rest of the house. The laundry, the kitchen table, the floor oh and lets not forget the lovely bathroom .... I get on kicks, where cleaning and laundry come easy, other weeks? It is a total struggle to keep up, I want to sit after work, I do not want to participate in the mundane task of washing clothes. I need to rearrange a room every time I clean it- it tricks me into feeling like I am doing something creative, and you can't rearrange a room without cleaning it. But this week? I do not feel as though any of that is creative this week, and I want to run screaming from the vacuum .. or lay on the couch just pretending that the kids don't need clean socks...
          I was reading on a Frugal website about a 20 dollar grocery list( listing the meal and maybe even the recipe).. and what would yours be, assuming you have a well stocked pantry how would you feed your family for a week on 20 bucks? The responses were really eye opening to how our area, really isn't that hard on us compared to some places like California or an area that doesn't accept coupons. Alot of the people were literally eating ground hamburger meals for 4 out of the 5 days...My boys would freak out on me if I attempted that- I on the other hand adore Hamburger Helper and don't even get me started on Tuna Helper- mmmmm Tuna noodle casserole *swoon*. But my boys?? They will not touch a casserole, it is a mortal sin for me to attempt to make a casserole, so what's a Mom to do? I make stews and soups.. they are like liquid casseroles- and they eat them up! Plus, they are frugal. You can use just about anything in a soup or stew. Beans, veggies, chicken, sausage, hamburger, it is all fair game..if you have ample seasonings- you will make a killer dinner.
            My boys favorite soup/stew is my Ham PotPie recipe.. they adore it- Max tries to ask for it for his Birthday Meal- mmm his Birthday is in June and there is no way I am boiling a huge stockpot full of soup on the stove...

            I have my Menu plan- since my pantry is so well stocked, I really only needed Bread and Milk this month for all the meals I had picked out. I still went to the store- I used coupons, to replenish some of my stockpile, look for good deals on meat, ect. I have said it before, I will say it again- there is nothing wrong with buying something with a date of use by that says tomorrow- put it in the freezer! Every time I hit the Weis Market, I check the part of the meat dept. where they put all that stuff. It makes no sense not to put it in the freezer, as long as you are following the guide lines of freezing meat, you are in the clear!

             I cleaned this weekend- I had too there was no way around it.. the entry way~ I like to say entry way, like I have one.. the entrance into the kitchen is what I should really say, was a mess.. salt, dirt, boots to the point of me wanting to move rather than clean it. I think I came up with a semi soultion until winter is over- I can throw the rug into the washer and use bleach, to get any stains out. Plus there is a place for the shoes and a rug to soak up the snow.

           I also cleaned the boys shower~ I make no bones about it- I keep that spray stuff next to the tub for them to spray everyday, but that only keeps half the soapscrum away.. I use a brillo pad, I don't mess around, as far as I am concerned a brillo pad can clean anything, and it  is like survival of the fittest, if it doesn't make it thru a brillo pad cleaning- it isn't worth keeping- not like I can get rid of the shower... but at least I can pull the curtian if something goes wrong!!!
           I am hoping this coming week Brian and I can start on the Pantry Project! He keeps saying it won't take that long, and I suppose I trust that- but now I wanna do it... and get it done. To me- making a pantry is way more creative and satisfying than cleaning the Kitchen Table off.

             Today is a pork roast and homemade sauerkraut in the crockpot.. I made Meatloaf and Mashed potatoes last night for dinner and pretty much doubled the potatoes so that we would have them tonight. The roast is huge and compliments of my friend Penny who got a pig butchered this summer, and insisted she wouldn't use all the roasts she got. I wasn't about to turn it down. We make sauerkraut every fall with my in-laws, my Father in Law.. aka Pap said about 5 yrs ago "Someone needs to learn to make this so they can learn the tradition" of course ~ Brian and I wanted to learn! We even have the kids help/watch each year. Connor usually adds the salt to the enormous crock and Max has helped stomp it down with the wooden stomper..let me tell you - there is nothing better than homemade sauerkraut.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Robocalls, a Pantry Project and Roasted Cauliflower

            Okay- so 2 days in a row now we have had a 2 hour delay.. I am literally up earlier when there is a 2 hour delay than when it is a normal school day, the auto call happens around 5:30 am. I am not complaining .. We have Dish Network which means- no channel 4, for all you local people who realize that this is the best way to find out if there is no school or a delay.   
             Now I hear that there is to be snow Thursday night into Friday.. ughhhh how did we go from no snow to now there is all this ugly January snow all around us messing with our schedules!?
              Alright- enough complaining!... Dinner last night consisted of pretty much 2 new recipes.
              I don't know about you people- but I am horrible about making sure I use and make use of all my veggies I buy in the winter. It irritates me to no end to have to throw food out, to help me with not doing this I bought Rubbermaid's produce saver containers this summer when I found coupons. Okay - I have the containers- now... let try to use them, DUH...I washed my lettuce( I buy the romaine- cheaper by the lb and lasts way longer than the bagged), carrots( I buy the regular carrots and chop them it is cheaper than the baby carrots and they don't get slimey), cauliflower, celery, cilantro and scallions. I cut everything up and tried to fit it all in the containers... wow- did that feel good! I know I am nuts- but this way, I can find my veggies and they are clean and ready to cook with, and they will not be wasted. Not to mention- today's lunch of salad for Brian and I was sooo easy to throw together in a container!
             Alright- there is my ADD kicking in- or as Max says " Mom you have ' oh look a chicken disorder'" I was getting ready to tell you I made 2 new recipes.

             I used the newly cut up cauliflower( Brian's fav veggie which I never buy cause it is so expensive, but it was on sale for 2 bucks) to make Roasted Cauliflower.

Roasted Cauliflower
Cut up cauliflower
Olive Oil
Parm Cheese
In a bowl or resealable baggie put the cauliflower, olive oil, salt and pepper and mix it all up so it gets all over the veggie. The amounts- you can adjust to your liking. I used 3 cups chopped cauliflower, 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and about 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil. Bake at 450 for 25 min. Pull out of the oven, and put shredded Parm over the cauliflower and broil for 2 min.

Verdicts? Me, Brian and Max really liked. Connor faught his way thru it, not liking it at all - but then again the only veggie he will eat is cooked carrots. 

             I also made Ground Chicken burgers... which they all ate up and loved, Brian said it had a weird taste.. a good weird taste though lol.
I bought the Chicken burgers from Weis cause they were on sale for 99 cents for 4 of them.
I also made chicken flavored noodles - the boxed kind I keep on hand that I buy with coupons- the Knorr kind- which the kids love.

              Now I know what you are all thinking-" Wait- didn't this woman post a menu plan? That isn't what was on the menu plan!!" I make my menu plan with great intentions of following it- sometimes I don't but the best thing about having a menu plan, is that you have something to fall back on, for nights that you do not feel like improvising, or nights you think eating out would be easier. You have a meal.. right infront of you planned out- that you have all the ingredients for.

A Project!!
              Anyone who knows Brian and me, knows we need projects- especially around the house. When I posted about the leak in the closet in the family room in our basement, I had looked at it- and thought- this could be a pantry. Brian mentioned cleaning it out and painting it. I have always wanted a pantry, I love to look at all the neat organized pretty pictures all over the kitchen blogs of walk in pantry's. I talked to Brian, he was all for it... I am going to post before, during and after pics for everyone to travel the journey of a Frugal Pantry Creation! We already discussed that we are not purchasing anything - this won't be nearly as hard for Brian as it will for me- but I need to just look around, I have plenty of organizational holders, baskets and what not for the floor and shelves that Brian is going to install... I am keeping my fingers crossed!

Hopefully in the next few weeks, nothing major needs repaired in the house and we can get this pantry project started!!!
- Although that sure is a heck of a lot of wires to cover and not to mention the yukky lookin walls and the ceiling needs hidden or something I suppose Brian will know what to do hahahah!
We plan on adding lots more shelves to hold all the canned goods we do, as well as the ones I get from the store. I am also hoping I can store some of the less used but still needed mini appliances I keep in the cupboards, like the mini dip crockpots and vintage cakesaver tins...

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Clean kitchen, Chicken Soup and Becker Style

              I have been trying to organize and clean out my cupboards, I saw an interesting tip/statement to make sure you save money "A clean kitchen saves money". Sounds simple enough, makes sense right? Who wants to cook or prepare a dinner in a kitchen that has stuff all over the counter, dishes in the sink, stickiness on the island? I admit- it is easy for me to keep up with the dishes, Brian helps- when 2 people are doing dishes, it is alot easier to stay on top of them. The cupboards? Easy to keep up with- I find it soothing to clean out and declutter my kitchen cupboards, I know weird right?

             My kitchen table on the other hand- a true disaster area... try as I might- it stays cluttered, I love my kitchen table, a huge long farmhouse looking table with black chairs, it is one of my favorite things in the house- but as far as keeping it uncluttered? Well~ it would be easier to pass up a plate of nachos for me, the left side is filled with legos, books, unwanted things from the newly organized drawer or cupboard, magazines, this weeks Sunday papers, empty canning jars, you name it- anything that is to go downstairs to the basement or family room. Each trip I make downstairs, I try to take something with me. Usually I forget, I come back up the steps and look at the pile and think-" Wow- I should have taken something down with me". I am not perfect- I am sure of that- but I am thinking this is going to have to be a hardcore resolution to not allow anything on the kitchen table except the 2 vintage Amber Glass colored Princess House Fairy lights I have on it as a decoration. There is no other way around it! I will post a pic- so everyone can ewwe and ughhh at the table - knowing full well you all have a place like this in the house. It is okay- I understand, we all need to look at a cluttered area and think "I could clean that up in a minute" it is motivation!

I will obviously be adding the pics once the table is cleaned off- so I am not a total loser!

So- the Menu plan says tonight is Chicken Corn Soup- and believe it or not- that is what is in the crockpot, along with my Reynold's SlowCooker liner! Except- I used turkey meat I had in the freezer- shhhh- I see no reason to give this info to the boys.....
Here is the recipe:
Chicken (Turkey shhhhhh) Corn soup
3 Cups diced cooked Turkey meat
2 Quart jars of Chicken stock
1 Teaspoon of salt
1 Teaspoon of cracked black pepper
1/2 cup of dehydrated soup greens ( from Peights in Belleville- another entire post on how to shop frugally!)
3 Cups frozen Corn- this is from when we did corn in the summer, I had in the freezer.
put it all in the crockpot on low- I normally taste test the soup I make before feeding it to my boys- since all my soup recipes are a work in progress- to make sure the seasonings are right.

                 Don't forget to *like* Becker Style on Facebook- I am running a contest and when I hit  (as of today I had 36 fans) 50 fans I am going to randomly choose a fan as a winner to get a week meal plan of budget friendly dishes along with a box of Reynold's SlowCooker liners- thanks to Margaret's suggestion:) I am working on Reynold's to hand over the free box- but- in the chance that they think I am insane- I will just buy a box for the winner considering I love them that much! You can Like it from right here on the Blog to the left, so make sure to share the Becker Style page with your friends! and follow my Blog- More than likely  I will do the same sort of contest here on the blog once I hit 50 followers!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Repurposing and Redecorating

So I have this old wooden Ironing Board that I love - I got from my Mother. It was in the first house my grandparents house in Morrisdale when they moved in in the 70's, it wasn't theirs, it was in the house so it has to be from at least the 50's, it still has the adorable paper ad attached to the top of the loving housewife ironing.... I iron, I don't like it as much as the woman in the picture- nor do I wear such nice clothes while ironing- I am usually in a robe screaming at the rest of the household to finish brushing their teeth, find shoes, belts and brush hair OTHERWISE WE ARE GOING TO BE LATE FOR SUNDAY SCHOOL!!!!!!!
Regardless, I love that ironing board and what that ad looks like, I have often said I was going to give it to my friend Jenny for her mother to paint, which she does for a living~ I can't part with it, I want to be that happy ironing, I never will be, but here is how I found a way to utilize the Ironing Board .....
I love sofa tables, I have always thought they looked so ritzy though- I am sooo NOT ritzy, I am country and rustic, dare I say shabby? The Ironing Board works perfectly as a rustic country sofa table....
Brian hates the ironing board-basically cause it just floats around and I never know what to do with it. He also hates how everytime he is out of the house for longer than 2 hours, I rearrange the house or at least a corner of it, well I think that it keeps me from purchasing new stuff all the time- I move things around, I use different items for things that may not be used for their intended purpose. It is very frugal... think about it- all the decorating shows do it- they use what a person has already. In the closets, garage, attic. There is no reason to purchase tons of things to make the house look new and fresh. Look around in the things you have stashed.
When our bathroom upstairs needed redone- and beleive me it wasn't just for pretty reasons- the toliet wouldn't flush- I live with 3 boys- this is not an option... we knew we wanted to do it on the cheap but make it nice enough to be something we could live with for a looooonnnggg time.
Both Brian and I were impressed with the dresser looking vanities. Well- those run about 900 buckaroos- not actually in the budget! We had a antique dresser that we got at a yardsale for about 40 bucks ( they wanted 60.00~ but of course I offered less) Which Brian turned into a sink for about 200.00 it would have been less- but the actual faucet was so pricey. I was using the large crock looking thing as a trash can- but I couldn't keep the boys from slamming the lid, and I didn't want it broken- it's home is now on the Hearth next to the fireplace. I got it at the Goodwill for like 30 bucks- which when I saw how much they normally cost ( it has a a spout to use as a drink dispenser, i just had it turned around) I think I got a pretty good deal.

The summer before our bathroom needed fixed and redone, our dishwasher stopped working- actually it started leaking, I so rarely used it- cause I figured it wasted electricity, when I finnally did use it- the gaskets or something had dry rotted, our neighbor looked at it and said- "Unless you love this and want to spend about 200 dollars getting it fixed, I would get rid of it and get a new one"
I looked at Brian and said- rip it out, I don't want it- I can use more cupboard space..this is what he came up with- it cost all of like 25.00
The baskets I got at the Memorial Day celebration here in Boalsburg- a wonderful nice lady makes them - she is also at People's Choice festival. They are also dirt cheat the large one on top was like 22.00 and it has leather handles, I keep my bread in it. the small one- onions, the tall one- potatoes... and finally a home for my mixer.
I really didn't do much cooking today- I made cold cut sandwiches for lunch and chicken tenders for dinner- I was going to get the heck outta the house cause of the Steeler Game and Brian is a lunatic during it, but my plans fell thru. Thankfully, we have a family room in the basement- otherwise I am sure the neighbors would be calling the police about now......Lord help me and the kids!

Friday, January 14, 2011

I needed that

            Did you ever have one of those days? The kind where at 5:30 all I wanted to do was put my head on the couch and close my eyes. That was yesterday, so I did… I had dishes in the sink, dinner to cook and I did not care.
            Then the dog went nuts, I thought ‘really? Barking at Brian coming in the door?’ Only it wasn’t Brian, it was a good friend of mine~ with a 12 yes TWELVE foot poster of Jason Stackhouse…from True Blood! I was blown away- I had wanted it from the Gap- they told me no- not thinking me telling them my version of ‘Recycling’ the poster would be hanging it in my bathroom. My friend made no promises, just that she’d attempt to contact someone she knew from the Gap company and now- here she was with my lovely poster…..
Dinner still wasn’t getting cooked, dishes were still in the sink, 2 loads of laundry were still hanging in the basement and I was on the floor cutting out Jason Stackhouse’s profile to fit on a wall in my downstairs bathroom- and I was happy lol-
I am a 15 yr old at heart, I have crushes that only 8th graders should have, Brian puts up with it.. Probably cause I put up with him watching that insanely ridiculous Victoria Secret Fashion Show each Christmas- like that is really a fashion show?

             When Brian got home, he looked stunned like, where is Dinner and what in the heck are you doing?
I answered; the boys want boxed Mac and Cheese- do you? If not- I can make you a Peanut Butter Sandwich- he threatened to take pictures of him making the sandwich to post on my blog LOL… I explained to him that there isn’t one wife, mother or woman that hasn’t cracked and made boxed mac and cheese and made peanut butter sandwiches and to stop whining, no one was going to listen….
He made his sandwich and was soon off to a meeting at the church, I considered laying back down on the couch, and thought better of it- called my lifelong best friend Jenny and commiserated with her about cooking, money and not getting enough sleep, before I knew it- I had washed the dishes, taken down and folded the 2 loads of laundry and felt 110% better about the evening!
                Then to make the evening even better- I got a compliment on my blog, even though I had shirked every responsibility I had promised on my blog, it still made me feel good to know someone- one of Brian’s cousins thought we were a perfect couple together- mishaps and all… validation is nice- no matter who you are.

Anyway- I am making Panko breaded Tilapia tonight- I have to – I have it defrosting in the fridge and I know I cannot let that sit or go to waste!!!! I originally got the recipe – believe it or not from a  Martha Stewart magazine..

Panko-Crusted Fish Sticks with Herb Dipping Sauce

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 cups panko
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning (didn’t use- don’t have)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds tilapia fillets, cut into wide strips (see note, above)~ I use the individually wrapped frozen ones from Sam’s Club- they work just Finnnneeee
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
  • 2 teaspoons prepared white horseradish ( Didn’t use)
  1. Preheat oven to 475, with racks in top and bottom third. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil; set aside.
  2. Place egg in a wide shallow bowl; season with salt and pepper. In another bowl, combine panko, Old Bay, and oil. Dip tilapia into egg, shaking off excess, then into panko mixture, pressing to adhere. Place on prepared baking sheets.
  3. Bake until lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating sheets from top to bottom halfway through. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, parsley, mustard, lemon juice, and horseradish; season with salt and pepper. Serve fish sticks with sauce and lemon wedges on the side.
I used this recipe loosely- Martha’s recipes are good- just so stinkin involved… defrost the fish cover in bread crumbs and use extra seasonings you like- mix up some flavored mayo with mustard for dipping sauce and Bam- you have homemade fish sticks – seriously… no need for the “ place you oven racks here there and everywhere and garnish? Really? I am gonna garnish ?
I also made a different dipping sauce for me and Brian- I mixed 2 Tablespoons of Mayo, 1 Teaspoon of Cumin, 1 Teaspoon of Lime juice and a whole handful of Diced Cilantro- I almost ate the stuff by itself!!!

Here is a picture of our finished Dinner- I made Broccoli and these new McCain Simply Potatoes that I got a freebie coupon for - that Max and Connor loved!

I said I would try to post more on my money saving efforts...
* I use coupons... 
              Where do I get my coupons?
The Philly Sunday Paper 
The Pittsburgh Sunday Paper
Smart Source
Sometimes just by going to the product website there will be coupons
*I write to companies- if I love their product- I use the contact us button and let them know! If I feel like their product failed me some how- I let them know- more than likely - you will get a coupon!

* I regularly check the reduced meat area at my local grocery store- You know what- a pound of Jimmie Dean bacon for a buck that I am gonna put in the freezer tonight- 2 days before the sell by date is a beautiful thing.

* We buy a 1/4 of Beef we have done this for about 3 yrs now- we have meat all year, I know where it comes from, I never have to worry about a recall and we order it during Tax return time!

* We can foods- 2 yrs ago- it was mostly for Christmas gifts- now- this year we wisened up- and made just Jellies to give away- but made a boat load of Spaghetti sauce and Salsa and peaches from our Garden - minus the peaches they came from Jersey thanks to my cousins Maddy and Michelle.

* Reference above- grow a garden!!!

* Turn out the lights- use the incandescent ones!

* Unplug things that suck Vampire Power- the Microwave, the coffee pot, anything that has a blinking light when not in use is suckin power

* Join freecycle- you can declutter easier and get stuff via it - keeps stuff outta the land fill too!

*Use craigslist- with caution obviously- I used to use Ebay- but you know what, I have about enough energy to run to the post office every other night like I have enough energy to get a second job- craigslist is local and free too!

* Have one or 2 meatless meals a week.

* Use the crock-pot!!! The oven is the biggest electric hog you have in the house! 

Pics of my Coupon Holder:)

 These are envelopes that I cut the lip off of, added avery labels according to what is in the Envelope and it is organized by what makes sense to me -
 If the order doesn't make sense to you- you are not going to use it-I suggest placing them in isle order of your most frequented grocery store!
Then I used a pretty pretty Longaberger Basket- this is the Address Basket- to keep them all in- it fits in the from of the cart, right next to my purse- just because I am using coupons doesn't mean I can't have a stylish cute holder right?~ Brian is never to happy though when I forget it in the car and tell him to go get it for me, on the off chance he is in the store with me! he always says " The whole thing? Can't I just grab one envelope?"

I will think of more- what are some of your ways to save?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Stock,Roast,Barley and Contest

            Today we had a 2 hour delay- I really don't think that we needed it- I think that State High was jealous of Atlanta, Ga and their snow! My poor Brother in Law John~ had to shovel his driveway with a rake, he called it "Southern Engineering". Max offered to take the time off school to come shovel for him hahahahah.
              I said I made some stock the other night and instead of freezing it- I put in quart jars with plastic lids that you can purchase from Amazon/Ball for saving non-canned items in the fridge or freezer, knowing I was going to be using stock this week and next week, I thought I would give it a shot....
Don't they look so Homesteady and pretty?
I used the middle one obviously and the one on the right I haven't skimmed the fat off yet, which I will when I use it, doesn't hurt to cut a few calories of fat I suppose. Although, I also started keeping a pint jar of strained bacon grease drippings next to the stove to add some authentic home style cooking taste to my soups and the like...( I just make a lb of bacon, and grab a pint Mason jar when the bacon has been scarfed up, put a coffee filter just so it fits in the jar and tighten the metal ring around the jar, using the large batter bowl I have with a lid which I love. I pour the grease in- the filter catches and stray bits and I can save it for how ever long in the fridge- or for a good while next to the stove) so give some take some right?
                Tonight we will be having the Too Die For Crock Pot Roast.

.. I used a roast, a pack of Knorr Leek soup, Lipton Onion soup pack and Worcestershire sauce.. I literally dumped it all in the crockpot~ no mixing no nothing.. of course I used my Reynold slow cooker liner!
I turned this on Low at 7:30 am this morning- and it will stay on low until at least 5:30 tonight.
I found another recipe in my Taste of Home Dinner on a Dime cookbook that I am excited about a Mushroom Onion Roasted Barley dish.. here is the pick of the ingredients~
The recipe calls for Beef Bouillon and Canned whole mushrooms- but I am the queen of substitutions soooo I am using the frozen Mushrooms I have in the freezer and left over Chicken Stock cause you know homemade stock HAS to be better than bullion! Did'cha notice my adorable vintage glass salt jar? My mom gave it to me a few years ago from a vintage fridge she bought- it was still in the fridge.... I keep coarse sea salt in it- close to the stove.
Mushroon Onion Barley Bake
1/2 cup medium pearl barley
1 T oil
1 1/2 C water
1 t. Beef Bullion granules (I used stock in place of the Water above)
1/4 t salt
1/2 C sliced green onions
1 can whole button mushrooms (I used 1 C. Frozen mushrooms)
In an oven proof skillet, saute barley in oil until golden brown. Stir in water, bullion, salt; bring to boil. Remove from heat; add onions and mushrooms. Cover and bake at 350 for 40 to 50 minutes or until barley is tender. 2-4 servings-
I am rounding it our with cooked carrots- basically just get regular big carrots and slice them and boil them- sprinkle a little salt on them... lie to Connor that they are "Baby Carrots" since he is convinced this is the only veggie he likes! Speaking of Connor- I entered him into Chobani's contest to win a case of Chobani Champion Kid's Yogurt... he loves yogurt and I figure if I got a case of it for him- he'd be getting one heck of a good amount of good ole' Greek yogurt nutrition! If you haven't tried it yet- the Pomegranate flavor is incredible!!!! If you just click on the link ( the word Chobani above and the underlined words) and click on the heart <3 in the upper right hand corner- it is a vote for him!

Also - I have been reading the Hunger Games Trilogy- I have gotten thru half the second book- I am soooo addicted to this series- the first book- I litterally read in two days- it was so fast paced, I was flipping pages to the point of wishing I wasn't -it was better than Twilight- and I LOVE Twilight! I suggest this book to anyone looking for a quick intense fast paced read. Totally transports you into another world! Also Amazon is really the cheapest place to get the book- even if you have a Kindle- you can click the link and purchase the Kindle version. Don't have a Kindle? Well Max got one for Christmas - IT ROCKS... Brian bought me the first book- Hunger Games when I finished it at midnight over Christmas Break- I snuck into Max's room to order the second book in the series on his Kindle LOL! and Boom -15 seconds later- I had the second book Catching Fire, in my hands!
BTW- searching or using the Amazon Links on my Blog totally helps me!