Sunday, November 30, 2008

Progressing along

We are almost finished with the Tgiving Feast foods. MMMM I will have to make the sweet potatoe casserole more often. My son LOVES that stuff. Who wouldn't??

I managed to get some shopping in on Saturday. I am about to go wrap them. I want to say on top of things. I was shopping alone, so I was able to browze around for some ideas. I'm so excited. Today was lounging and catching up on the laundry and getting the kids ready for back to school.

I was so tired from the Tgiving feast, shopping, laundry and whatnots that I got some gumbo out of the freezer for supper. I make a small batch of potatoe salad. We used the left over turkey in our gumbo. MMMMMM

While things were warming up and the rice was cooking, I got out Home Binder and updated a few things:

Wrote down my 3-day plan for preparing for Tgiving Feast.

Updated my Tgiving Day menu card.

Updated my shopping lists of what I have purchased and the prices.

Gathered receipts and put in envelope in binder. Wrote on them what was purchased.

Updated the Rec'd list for Cmas cards. Can you believe I have started receiving Cmas cards already??? Some people are really on their toes!

Glanced over my menu for Cmas Day.

I'm off to wrap some presents. Hopefully, the tree should go up soon!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Our Thankful Feast & Okra Dressing

We had a great time. Seemed everyone wanted to stay home and cook. Our families had lots of little groups gathering. Usually our families gather in large groups. I called around to wish them all a happy tgiving and most of them had cancellations. I offered them to come here since everything was prepared already.. nah, they wanted to stay home. I don't blame them one bit!

We had us 5 and 3 guests. Richard's mom and aunt dropped by later than night to visit and we ended up talking until 11pm! It was so nice to sit, relax and visit.

I cook a Tgiving meal for us even if we go somewhere. We like to have our own Feast and our own leftovers. Heck, there are 5 of us. If we bring enough leftovers home to feed us.. that's a lot of food. When I cook our feast there is no rush, time limit or fancy smancy stuff. Its like a Sunday dinner, very relaxed. This time, I had guests coming. AH. How in the world do I get things to all be ready at the same time and still remain hot?

Somehow.. I DID IT! Well, we forgot the rolls, but we were so stuffed that I don't know where we would have put them. Plates were fixed, we sat and ate, then we waddled around and moaned and groaned the rest of the afternoon LOL No, not really, but we were so full that we skipped supper and opted to finally eat dessert. MMMM

Our Feast:
Smoked turkey
Sweet potatoe casserole
carrot souffle
green beans with bacon
okra dressing
cranberry sauce

cheeseball
crackers
chicken salad
cheese squares
pepperoni sticks

drinks

pecan pie with whipped cream
peanut butter cookies with hershey kiss on top

The okra dressing was given to me by a friend. We all like okra and it's a good way to eat it. I do not know the measurements, I really just eyeball it. But if you make rice dressing.. it's pretty much like that. The meat to rice ratio is your own call. Sometimes I like it more meaty than other times.

Here goes:

ground meat
onions
beef broth
okra
cooking oil
rotel
cooked rice
salt, pepper, garlic powder

Brown ground meat. Drain. Saute onion in the ground meat. Season meat. Smother the okra: I put a little oil in the bottom of my black iron pot, put in the sliced okra (I have used fresh and frozen). Cook down until tender. I usually add some vinegar to help with the slime. As it's cooking, I add some water to the bottom so it don't stick, stirring often, medium heat. I cook mine down until it is a.. hmm.. kinda brownish-green in color? It's in really small pieces with the okra seeds all over. Season okra. Then I combine the okra and ground meat. Taste and season. It's much easier to season the meat/okra before you add the rice. I do add salt to my rice before cooking. Once the okra and meat are well mixed.. add rotel. The amount of rotel you add depends on how spicy you like it. It also adds some moisture. Add rice, mix. If you add the rotel an it's not moist enough, you can add some canned breef broth. Mix well. Taste, season.

It really is good and it can be tailored to how you like it with the rice/meat/okra ratio. I just add whatever looks good.

If you try it.. lemme know! If you have question, please email me at rachelnla(at) yahoo (dot) com. I'll be happy to answer your question. Seriously, it's that good. Everyone who ate it could not believe it had okra. They all gobbled it up
and kept saying how good everything was.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Food prepping

I was able to get a lot of food prepped last night.

Rich will smoke turkey today and we will reheat tomorrow.

I got the bacon and onions cooked for my green beans.

I made a cheese ball.

Ground meat with onions is ready for the okra dressing.

Coolwhip defrosting in fridge.

Rolls defrosting in fridge.

I may measure/mix my wet and dry ingredients for my two casseroles from tonight. That way all I have to do is throw together and bake tomorrow.

I really should go bake the apple pie now, since it takes sooo long (1 hour). l can store it in my cake dome thingy.

I just need plastic forks!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Menu Monday

I am so glad I saved leftovers and froze them. They will feed us this week. I have much to do!

Monday - Freezer gumbo with rice, potatoe salad

Tuesday - Spag with garlic bread and corn.

Wednesday - Freezer red beans/rice with sausage.

Thursday - Tgiving!
Smoked turkey
Sweet potatoe casserole
Carrot soufle
Green beans w/bacon and onions
Okra dressing
apple pie
pecan pie
cookies
tea, cokes

Friday - Left overs!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stocking the freezer

My husband has a friend who raises cattle. There are babies everywhere this time of year. His friend called to say a baby had broken its back and asked if he could help him. My husband just loves this kinda stuff, so it was natural he wanted to help his friend. Our thanks? We got half a calf! Two huge roasts... 9 HUGE bags of ground meat (hubby did not measure the meat per bag before sealing them), I lost count of the steaks as he was putting them in the freezer. I can pretty much cross off needing beef at the store for a good 3 -4 months now! I do wish he would have put 3 pounds of ground meat per bag, but when you are allowed to bag for free... you don't push the issue!

Next... to snag a deer so we can make more deer sausage! I think we are starting to run low. LOL

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

zip, bam, foozle!

I made the chicken salad sandwiches last night. Easy breezy with the food processor. A few pulses and it was chicken chopped, onion chopped, egg whites chopped and dumped in a bowl. Mashed the yolks, added the mayo, mustard, salt, pepper, garlic powder and added to the bowl. Mixed well. YUM-OH!

It's even better chilled today. The flavors have mingled and boy is it good. MMMMM

The kids said we need to have it more often. I'm thinking I need to snag some whole chickens on sale and keep on hand! A quick cook using the pressure cooker and tada, instant sammies. Great snack for any occasion.

I also took the chicken bones, added some carrots, water, stock from cooking the chicken and put it all in the crockpot over night. I just strained it into jars... I came out with 8 cups of wonderful broth. I am getting addicted to doing this. I am soo looking forward to Tgiving so I can... hmm "broth" the turkey bones.

I am looking at everything in my kitchen wondering what else I use the food processor for. That this is awesome. My youngest suggested I get my MIL to get me one for Cmas. Heck, I'd be thrilled if she boxed this one up and gave it to me. She said she really don't use it as it's just her.

I need to make some carrot and raisin salad with the carrots before they go bad. I was going to make carrot suffle... but I don't have enough eggs. The hens are slowing down with the winter weather.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Menu Monday

Early, I know. But I probably won't have time tomorrow. Monday's are hectic at work. Here is the menu for the week.

Monday - Potatoe Soup with cooked bacon and cheese on top, chicken salad sandwiches - I have bonko, so something quick and easy for them.

Tuesday - Stuffed roast, carrots, rice/gravy.

Wednesday - Corny dogs and mac & cheese - CCD night, gotta be something quick.

Thursday - Homemade pizza.

Friday - Left overs - kids are usually going in every direction.

I made this on Saturday. I put it cooking before we went shopping. MMMMM Really good.

Easy Cabbage Roll Casserole

1-1/2 lbs. Lean ground beef or turkey
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 small can (7.5-8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 can condensed tomato soup
1/2 cup long grain rice
4 cups shredded cabbage
1/3 cup tomato juice or water
Sour cream

In a large nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat, combine ground beef, onions, garlic, salt, and pepper; cook, breaking up meat with a spoon, until meat is browned. Drain off any excess fat. Return to heat and add tomato sauce, water and half the can of tomato soup, mixing well. Add rice, stirring to combine. Into prepared slow cooker, place half of the meat mixture then half of the cabbage. Top with remaining meat mixture and remaining cabbage. In a bowl, combine remaining tomato soup with tomato juice (or water), mixing well. Pour into slow cooker. Cover and cook on Low for 8-10 hours or on High for 4-6 hours, until bubbling and heated through. Serve with sour cream.

We put shredded cheese on top. Cheese makes everything better.

Chop, chop!

I have a mini chopper. VERY mini. I borrowed my MILs Cuisinart food processor tonight. I'm excited. I want to just chop everything in site. I"m going to try what Melanie suggested: chop the veggies for the week and put in freezer. Do it once is my philosophy. Thanks, Melanie.

I am hoping to whip up some chicken salad sandwiches to keep in the freezer. Just take them out and thaw in fridge. MMMM so good. I use to do that when we had our pool. The kids were always starving when they got out and this seemed to be the only think I could make ahead and have it last.

I went to the other grocery store in town as they had a better sale than my normal store. I managed to pick up some paper plates, napkins and cups for Tgiving while they were on sale. I have the sweet potatoes cooking in the oven right now. When done, I"ll wrap them each in a paper towel and store in ziplock bags. The kids love to pop those in the microwave for an after school snack. So this week I spent 56.00~ Whoohoo! And that was including my xtras for Tgiving week. Not too bad.

I am feeling MUCH better. I have been drinking wheat grass every morning and I can tell the difference in my energy. It smells awful - kinda like a crushed vitamin and fish food (not so strong as fish food) I drink mine in apple juice every morning. Rich puts a spoonful in his mouth and then drinks. I'd gag. I gag just thinking of it. Ick.

Speaking of.. Rich will be home later.. so I'm off to get things done so that when he comes home I can spend some time with him :)

Lazy Sundays and Saturday discoveries.

I look forward to Sundays. It's a time of getting together with my friends and attending Mass together. I'm also lucky that my friends just so happen to be my neighbors.

Yesterday, the kids and I went shopping. ONE Cmas present has been purchased. YES! We put the crockpot on before we left. It was so nice to come home to a cooked meal. MMM cabbage casserole. YUMMY.

We have eaten another helping of cabbage csserole and are about to do some more shopping. Hopefully, I can snag a few more presents.

A few years ago, we took Daniel's PSP away for his report card. Well, we hid it so good that we forgot where it was. We tore the house apart for 3 days. AFter that, we figured it was gone forever. We bought him a new one since we misplaced his. Rich found it tucked into a winter sock. HAHAHAH

Off to shop!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Picture pages.

Looking on the computer for pictures, I realized how much I really need a new camera. These are from last Cmas.

This Sarah. She is 13. She is a mini me of her older sister.
















Richard loving his Cmas present!







Girls being silly!







Daniel being cool. He's 16.







Jessica. She's 19.









Earlier this year, we bought 20 acres about 40 miles north of us. Pictures don't do it justice. We plan to move our portable building that we converted into a house there soon. I cannot wait. It's shaped like a rectangle.. with a creek down the center.. and part of the creek comes across the back corner of the property. It's been cleared with lots of clumps of trees stilll left. There are trees that line the creek on both sides and clumps of trees all around the property. The land is flatter on the back side.. the front half has rolling hills. It has water and electricity already on it. There is even a house pad. It was all just meant to be! My husband loves it and has spent a good amount of time there relaxing - that makes it all worth it.









Daniel crossing the creek.









If you stood at the entrance gate and looked to your immediate left, this is what you would see.









Creek, house pad, the connection between the front half and the back half










He was walking along, looked down and saw this! Seriously.






Then he picked it up! Can you see the outline?








Below is what he found in ONE day on our property.



Hope you enjoyed!

ickies

I have been sick. Really sick. So sick that I think I may have even had the flu. I haven't been that sick in a very long time. It was horrible. And I"m not a good patient when I'm sick. Now? My voice is practically gone. Blah. Oh well.. it gives me more time to LISTEN instead of talk.

I keep having this feeling I am behind. It's not even Tgiving and I'm worried about getting my shopping in, decorating done, and having time to ENJOY the holidays. I know planning is the key. I also know my frustration comes from working every other weekend and not having time off. Yes, you read that correctly. I work every other weekend. There is NO time to recharge. Unfortunately, that's the way it is with work and the only way to change that is to quit, which I cannot do at this point. I love my job. I DO! But geeze, gimme a break. I know I also need some vacation time, which is also impossible to do around the holidays also.

I'll just do the best I can. With that, today I want to get out and do some shopping. I guess the kids and I will do some running around and hopefully I will get something purchased to help ease this knawing fear I have that I won't have it all done.

Time to get moving.. my hunny is supposed to be going to another rig today, so I want to spend some time with him while the kiddos are sleeping in. Then maybe we'll get some serious shopping done! Even if I cannot speak!! They should enjoy that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Is your foot in my shoe??

You know that saying when the shoe is on the other foot? Well, I think my daughter is wearing my shoes. Not literally. But this morning she was getting ready to go to school and then work. She wears scrubs. These were new. Pretty teal color. Makes her long legs look even longer, shows how thin she is, and kinda tones down the top heaviness. She's naturally pretty - even skin tone, olive complected, long dark brown hair and green eyes. hey, a mamma can be partial! She really is pretty. She rarely wears makeup and doesn't need it. She fixed her hair back in a ponytail with the tail half out the last band. She was telling me about her new scrubs and racing around the kitchen for something quick. She returns to where I am wearing her knee-high rubber boots saying how her friends are probably gonna laugh at her, but she has to walk through the flooded yard to her car, walk to the school, and then go on to work after school. Her scrubs are new and she does not want to ruin them. She also does not want to walk around with wet shoes and wet pants bottoms all day.

WHAT?????

Oh yah... I think she's finally getting it....

And she really don't care HOW she looks with her scrubs and rubber boots. Seroiusly. It does the job and that's all that matters.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

sparse cooking

Even though I planned the menus out it doesn't mean they get down. Even more so when I'm the one who is sick. Hubby cooks a lot and helps a lot... but him cooking what was on my menu for the past few days and weekend... not gonna happen. I teased him because when I am sick he will do take out. So much for cooking LOL He did grill the kids some hotdogs and had all the fixings. Right up there alley. But making chicken and dumplins...not so much his cup of tea.

Over the weekend we did a lot of sammies and cereal and grab/make what you can. My kids are not babies and are pretty self-sufficient. I wasn't worried about them starving. Which is a good thing because I was practically dying and totally unable to get up and move for any length of time. I lounged. LOUNGED and lounged some more all weekend. It's very different when you want to lounge and when you cannot do anything else but lie there in pain and misery. I was sick and tired of lounging by Sunday. ugh!

I am still not my old self and my standing/working around the house time is getting longer, but I knew there was no way I was up for cooking a huge meal and the kids were already in the process of making plans for going to friends since there was no school the next day.

Awhile back I made a mix for hamburger helper kinda stuff. I still had some of the mix left and I saw stroganoff was on there MMMM quick and easy. And let me just add... delicious! I was kinda skeptical.. but wow! I found another meal for us to enjoy.

Hopefully I can get back into the swing of things soon! I miss cooking. Moreso, I miss being organized!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

puffs

I am so glad I scooped up some Puffs a few weeks ago when they were on sale. I have almost used an entire box! My poor nose.

I feel like crud. Time to take some more Tylenol, Mucinex and hit the bed. I did drink a mashed clove of garlic in a mug of water zapped in the microwave with some honey in it. It got things moving around. ICK!

No place feels comfy for any length of time... sleep is hard to come by... i am constantly sipping water and running to potty. I took a shower, so that helps. I feel tired and achy and just down right miserable.

I know women talk a lot about how men are whiner when they are sick. My man is never sick.. so i don't know about all that. But on the other hand, me? OMGOSH... I'm all mushy and lovey and cry-y and whiney and i'm sure it's just miserable to be around me. My husband listens to me rattle on about how much i love him and thank him for taking care of things and holds me when i babble and cry about not being able to do things i need to get done.. and how much i love him and how blessed I am.

Annoying, right? EGADS! I really need to get a grasp on the emotion thing. He just laughs and says he's glad i have to give him control. That's the running joke between us... my and my control of things. I have to push the buggy in the store... i have to place the things in a certain way in the buggy... I have to group things togther on the belt.. etc.. he laughs. So.. yah.. i really am blessed.

I am taking my sneezing, sniveling, achy hiney to bed and maybe finish my book!

Friday, November 07, 2008

How I do it, and you can too!

I heard on the radio this morning that the cost of groceries will be rising 6% in the next year due to increasing costs of feed for pigs, cattle and chicken. Get your pocket books ready!

I have been couponing for a good while now, and I'd like to tell you how I do it:

I use to think generics were cheaper. If you hit a good sale AND have a coupon, it's usually as cheap as a generic. If you want to, you can try the site I use: thegrocerygame.com You can have a free trial... start NOW and save some weekly coupons.. just save the whole insert. After a few weeks, sign up for the free trial and you will see just how many coupons you use and how much you save. I was hooked right away. It's THAT worth it.

I take the weekly add and kinda skim through my pantry and freezers to build a menu** for the week. After deciding what to cook, I go through the recipe for each thing and make sure I either have it or need it and make my list based on that. You know there are certain things you buy over and over. See if that item is on sale. If it is, stock up! Why pay full price? It can sit a few weeks in your house. I buy what I need for that menu for that week, items we normally use if on sale, and the munchy things.

I shop once a week so if we run out of anything it's milk and Hubby will pick that up. I have been known to take 1/2 gallon of milk and add powdered milk to it to make it stretch.

I also no longer shop at Walmart - unless absolutely necessary! I get all my stuff - cleaning stuff, a/c filters, toothpaste, etc.. at Kroger's. It beats the stress and gas going to walmart and fighting the crowd. My sanity is worth way more than that.

Also, thegrocerygame.com will show you how to get free stuff at walgreens and CVS. If you sign up for the free trial make sure you click ALL stores in your area. It's free, so take advantage of it. I use to do CVS and Walgreens, but with limited time it's easier to grab it all in one place.

Enjoy!!!

** Menu - I made a list of all our favorite meals in categories: beef, chicken, pork, veggies, sides, quick meals, crockpot. Having a list handy reminds of things I had forgotten about. And I can mix and match meals instantly by looking at the list. OH! Potatoe soup! Haven't had that in a looong time. Guess what we are having? If it were not for my list I would have completely forgotten about it. I keep these categories on index cards in my coupon binder and look through them when planning my menu for the week.

Hope this helps.

It's always the case....

I had a zillion things I wanted to get done today; my day off. And? I have gone to the grocery store. That's it. I am feverish, stuffy headed and just tired!

I did manage to save 91.00 at the grocery store. My bill started at 241.00. I had 12.00 in coupons and 79.00 in store card savings! My total came to 150.00! Not too shabby for not having been in 2 weeks. I snagged a few extras for the kiddos and some early tgiving stuff (an apple pie!). Shhh, don't tell them or they will eat it! Kroger had some great sales. A lot of the buy 10 items and save 5.00 had coupons to go with them making for an even bigger savings. I made my list yesterday and matched all the sale items with a coupon. You were limited three 5.00 savings per transaction. After I matched the coupons with the items, I tallied how many items that made. I split the rest of the amount needed on various things that were on sale. I typed up my list according to the isles at the store, put my coupons in my envelope in my coupon binder and away I went. Having the items in order on my shopping list saved me mega time! No back tracking.

I use reusable bags at the grocery store. They really need to give the bag boys lessons in bagging with them. Just because I have 10 bags does not mean I want all 200-dollars-worth of groceries in them! THEY ALL WILL NOT FIT. And don't just cram everything in. It's a bag... just bag it like you do those funky plastic ones. You know.. all the cold stuff together, cleaning things together... shampoo, pads, toothpaste together. I do not want to find my shredded cheese in the bottom of the bag with all my canned goods on top! GRRRR I try to group my items together when I put it on the belt to help them out. LIKE items go together. It's really easy. Honestly.

We are having sammies and potatoe soup using a bag of hashbrowns. Anyone have a similar recipe?? I had the recipe years ago and now I cannot find it. Hashbrowns, broth... just a few other things...it was really good and easy. Maybe I'll come across it again. until then, I found something on the web.. hashbrowns, broth, milk gravy mix. Sounds good to me!

I froze my chicken broth in glade storage containers and need to get them out of the containers and into a freezer bag. They are pretty big chunks of broth. Next time, I'll freeze them in a muffin tin and that way they are uniform and will fit in a ziplock in the freezer. I just didn't have time and had way more broth than one muffin tin.

I also freeze bacon grease. When I cook green beans, I cut off a hunk and add it if I don't have any bacon on hand. Saves some cooking time and still gives the bacon flavor. MMMMM

What else do you freeze for shortcuts later on?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Reaping those rewards...

Heather, I knew you would understand about my wantin to get the store :) Hopefully tonight... or very early morning. I missed last week, but this week is so good I cannot afford to miss and don't want to be messing with rain checks.

My throat has been scratchy the past few days. Now it seems to be hurting. I should have gargled with salt water the moment it started scratching. Now I'm achy, running a low-grade temperature, tired, my eyes burn and I'm drinking and urinating more frequently.

I decided I needed soup. Hmm.. YES! I remembered I had frozen some chicken stock. Plopped that in a pot, added some carrots..seasonings.. it's simmering and I'm so eager to start sipping it. I tell ya, store bought has NOTHING over homemade. MMMMMM.

If it won't help my throat.. it sure boosts me ego!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

CAN.HARDLY.GET.THE.WORDS.OUT.

Okay, yes, I am what my kids lovingly refer to as....a NERD.

I cannot tell you how excited I was to see this week's Kroger ad. EGADS! I was shaking with excitement as each page loaded on the screen. The math, the coupons I had, the savings... it was almost too much to handle.

I do not like to shop, but for some strange, odd reason... I love to grocery shop and I love to get things dirt cheap!

I am getting better at clothes shopping and feeling a shopping splurge about to hit... cause.. well.. the holidays are coming and we need need clothes.

I must find a way to get to the grocery store soon, or I will not be able to sleep LOL

Yes, I'm nerdy!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Tick tock

Time to set your clock back if you forgot! I hate this time of the year. Blah!

T r T was fun. The kids had done the H-ween thing the previous week, so they were ready to just hang with friends. A friend and I went to dinner. We had a great time.

Saturday we went garage saling. Another great time! The kids liked all the things I bought. Hubby got some new hunting pants for 1.00. I couldn't pass that up.

Sunday was church and then a quick bite to eat. We ate outside, the weather was so nice. Then it was home for regular weekend stuff. Hubby BBQd, I made tater salad and the kids got things ready for another week of school.

I clipped the coupons, but never made it to the store. I was just too tired. Maybe tomorrow.

I'm gearing up for Turkey Day. I have my menu started and I've starting calling and inviting people. Hubby wants to cook and I want to stay home and enjoy the day. Gonna try and do what I can early enough so not too busy on T-day.
Plan, plan, plan! I'm trying.. and I'm getting better.

Off to do some reading. I need to get these books back to a friend.