Sunday, March 29, 2009

Menu Day

I have another VERY busy week ahead of me. I don't know when or if I'll have time to post later this week so, I decided I'd enter my Menu Day post a day early.
I also have a fabulous breakfast recipe to share with you using sweet potatoes, apples and maple syrup. OG loves this dish so much she recently said to me, "Mom, you should post this recipe on your blog. I just know others will like it as much as we do."
Sunday - chicken-a-la-king (made from last week's leftover chicken pot pie filling:, salad
Monday - crock pot meatloaf, mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus
Tuesday - stir fried noodles (, egg drop soup
Wednesday - leftovers
Thursday - crock pot pork chops & rice, zucchini, broccoli
Friday - grilled turkey & cheese sandwiches, tomato soup
Saturday - homemade pizza, salad
Now, a recipe to share ...
Sweet Potatoes & Apples
(photo above)
2 sweet potatoes
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 c. crushed cornflakes cereal
Bake sweet potatoes until easily pricked with a fork (this can be done on baking day or the night before, refrigerate until ready to use). Slice sweet potatoes into 1/4 in. rounds. Place a layer of sweet potatoes in a lightly greased 2 qt. casserole. Top with a layer of apples. Repeat layers. Dot top with 1 tbsp. thinly sliced butter. Drizzle with maple syrup. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. While sweet potatoes are baking, melt 1 tbsp. butter. Add crushed cornflakes cereal and mix well. Remove sweet potatoes from oven and sprinkle with crushed cornflake mixture. Return to oven and bake uncovered an additional 5-10 minutes, until cornflake topping begins to brown.
serves 4

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Sewing Lesson

Mr. B phoned this afternoon and asked, "What have you been doing this weekend?" Well, most of you know that I don't ever have trouble finding something to do ... it's finding nothing to do that I wish I could find more of.

To Mr. B's silly question I responded, "Friday I spent the afternoon sewing and in the evening I drove EJ to baseball practice. Yesterday morning I drove EJ to a baseball game and yesterday afternoon, evening and today after church I, again, spent my time at the sewing machine."

While I was working on my projects, OG decided she wanted to make a little stuffed pig. She recently hand stitched a little stuffed bear but today ... today was special. She was allowed to use my sewing machine for the FIRST time! She was so excited and thrilled. I am very proud of how well she took instruction and even more proud of how well her first machine projects turned out. (yes, I said projects, with an "s", because after she finished the pig she also made a duck). These sewing projects count toward her home school classes for "life skills", or what was referred to as "home economics" when I was in school.
Here's the photos!OG completely focused and really concerned that the needle is going to go right through one of her little fingers!
Trimming the rounded edges for a smooth seam.

Stuffing the pink pig ... "Since it's a baby gift I need to make it real soft".

Hand stitching the stuffing hole closed.

Finished projects: OG's proudly displaying her little pink pig and yellow duck. I finished two crib sized summer quilts (my dear friend Mr. M and his wife are expecting TWINS!), two tee-shirt dresses (OG LOVES, LOVES, LOVES these comfy little dresses - she's wearing one and the other is hanging on the line), and a new skirt (also hanging on the line) for OG.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Budget Friendly Recipes

Did you know that beet greens are not only edible but delicious? They contain high levels of vitamins A & K, and anti-oxidants Lutein and Beta Carotene. So, next time you purchase beets from the produce department or pull them from your garden, wash those greens and enjoy my Sauteed Beet Greens recipe.

I'd also like to share two other recipes with you today, Taste of Home's Vegetarian Moroccan Stew and my TexMex Quiche.

Sauteed Beet Greens
2 cups beet greens, washed and coarsely chopped
1/2 small onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Simply Organic all purpose seasoning
1 teaspoon sugar
olive oil
Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, all purpose seasoning and sugar. Saute until onions become translucent. Add chopped beet greens. Stir until greens are wilted.
Serves 2, recipe doubles and triples well.
Taste of Home's Vegetarian Moroccan Stew
2 cups cauliflowerets
3 medium carrots, julienned
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup sliced zucchini
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
Hot cooked rice, optional
Saute cauliflower, carrots and onion in olive oil for about 10 minutes. Add the zucchini, water, cumin, salt, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in garbanzo beans and tomatoes; continue to simmer 10-15 minutes. Serve over rice if desired. Serves 6, recipe doubles well. (note: This recipe can also be made in the crock pot: Combine all ingredients, omitting olive oil, in a crock pot. Cook on low 4 - 5 hours).

TexMex Quiche

5 or 6 corn tortillas
5 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh spinach
1/2 can chopped green chilies
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup bell pepper, diced
1 small tomato, diced
Toppings (optional):
sour cream

1. Line a greased skillet or baking dish with corn tortillas.

2. Sprinkle corn tortillas with shredded cheese, spinach, onion, bell peppers, green chilies and tomato.

3. Combine beaten eggs and heavy whipping cream. Pour over vegetable mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes OR until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve with sour cream, guacamole, and/or salsa, if desired.
Makes 6 servings.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It's In!

This year's spring/summer garden is in. If it weren't for OG's and EJ's help and hard work, it would have taken me at least two additional days of working by myself. As you can see in the photos below, we still have plenty of room to continue adding additional raised beds. We plan to add at least one more this coming fall and again next spring.In this raised bed, located at the back of the garden, we've planted zucchini, yellow squash and a few cantaloupe hills.
In these raised beds, near the front and middle sections, we've planted 18 tomato plants, 6 bell pepper plants, green beans, cucumbers, lettuce and spinach.
We still need to extend the bean trellis and we will plant flowers in the cinder blocks. The flowers will bring in honey bees, which are good for pollination, repel a few pests AND add some bright spots of color. We are very excited and trusting the Lord for a good harvest.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Over the last few days OG and EJ have been helping me put this year's garden in. As you can see from the photo at the right, part of my garden (actually most of it, now) has been converted to raised beds. For some reason, no matter how many cubic yards of soil amendments I've added to my yard, I still have rock hard clay. Crab grass and weeds are about the only things that grow well in it. Thus, a couple years ago I began converting my garden area to raised beds, one section at a time.

Most of the materials we've used have been salvaged - not real visually appealing but very functional and inexpensive. Several years ago we were blessed with quite a bit of steel panels measuring 2 feet wide and 24 feet long. They have been the perfect size for the raised beds. We've used cinder blocks to support the middle and ends and re bar to stabilize the outside. The cinder blocks make terrific individual planters for flowers and herbs.

Most of our raised beds are two feet deep. This depth allows us to successfully plant root vegetables, which in the past haven't done well in our hard as rock clay soil. When installing the raised bed, I remove the grass and line the bare dirt with a compostable weed barrier. Old cardboard boxes are my favorite. After last summer's hurricane blew down more than five of our trees, we had an abundance of tree bark. So, as an added weed barrier layer, we evenly shoveled all the bark on top of the cardboard. Then the hard work began. We had the task of filling the beds with a 4-part mixture of garden soil mix, organic composted humus, composted chicken manure and our kitchen compost. I did the heavy work of filling the wheel barrow and dumping it into the beds. OG used the garden rake to spread the soil mixture and EJ thoroughly watered each layer. We have two more to finish up tomorrow morning. Then we will be ready to begin planting!!

We love growing and eating our own produce and every year we are as excited as we were the first year we planted a garden. This year has been especially enjoyable as OG and EJ are finally old enough to be REAL help in the garden. Words will never express how wonderful it was to have them actually helping this year. I am so proud of how hard they both worked today - as hard as I did. (and their Aunt C will tell you that's pretty dog gone hard ... she says I work like man. I think she exaggerating. But boy, I sure look and smell like one when finished! ... hee, hee). I can't wait to share more photos with you as our garden progresses.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Frugal Feasting w/ the Crock Pot

With softball and baseball now in full swing and gardening season upon us, I know that for the next four months I will be running in high gear. One of my priorities for my family is providing home cooked meals that we can enjoy together each evening. When life gets busy, it is very temping to buzz through the local drive-thru, but it isn't healthy or budget friendly. Even when ordering from the value menus, I find our totals to be a minimum $4 per person and I don't know about you, but I often find myself feeling run-down and low on energy. No, the drive-thru is not a good value for my family.

During these busy seasons of life I often find my self using the crock pot and cooking extras for quick make-over meals later in the week. Today, I'd like to share a menu, that at less than $1.10 per person, is not only budget friendly but also time management friendly. Tonight I will feed seven people, 3 adults, 4 children the following.

Crock Pot Swiss Steak w/ Mashed Potatoes & Sauteed Zucchini You will need:
1 lb. sirloin steak ( $2.66 from the quick sale bin)
1 green or red bell pepper (.34 from the quick sale bin @ 3/.99)
1 medium onion, divided (.30 @ .43 per lb.)
1 lb. zucchini (.89 @ .89 per lb.)
2 lb. potatoes ($1.58 @ .79 per lb.)
1 can diced tomatoes (.88 ea.)

Pantry Items (approximately $1 worth)
3 cloves garlic
1/4 c. milk
1/4 stick butter
salt & pepper
vegetable oil

Cut steak into 1 x 2 inch strips. Place in crock pot and lightly sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Next, add 3/4 of a medium onion and the bell pepper also cut into strips. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Press garlic directly into crock pot.

Add one can of diced tomatoes. Again, lightly sprinkle with salt & pepper. Cover and cook on HIGH for 6 hours.
Serve with mashed potatoes (potatoes, milk, butter, salt & pepper) and sauteed zucchini (zucchini, 1/4 med. onion, salt & pepper, vegetable oil).
I hope this inspires you to use your crock pot as a time management tool also.