Nov 24, 2014

Menu Plan 11/24

Wow, has it been a week or what?  Grand kids and their mom have been sick, I have been sick, youngest daughter, Miss Zebra turned 18 this past Friday and had a party in the back cave...what ever you want to call it, and we had our Thanksgiving this past Saturday.

If you are visiting from Organizing Junkies page for Meal Plan Monday, welcome.  I do my planning a little differently for the blog, I post what we had for the week as opposed to what we are going to have.  Still trying to organize a system that will work for me with my crazy home life.  I love all the inspiration on the MPM links and I love all her other info about organizing, storage, time management and such. So, here we go.

I have to say, I can't remember what all I cooked this past week, will have to do better about that, but know that I did cook at home. I take that back, Tuesday hubby got stuck at work late and I had one of my stupid little heart episodes (at least no emergency room this time) and since I was all by myself I went over to the Crest Bar and Grill.  Tuesday is there Minestrone night so I had a bowl of that with a baked potato on the side.

On Wednesday,  I do remember making Chile relleno quiche.  Hubby loved that one.

All I remember about Thursday was spending most of the day, literally hours of the day, defrosting and cleaning my deep freeze and fridge.  I had to make room for all the stuff I intended to make ahead and get a jump start on the turkey dinner.  OH MY GOSH!  I bet I bagged up and threw away at least $200 worth of meat and vegetables all freezer burnt and I knew my family would not touch it. It makes me physically ill when ever I do that, feels like such a TOTAL waste of good money.  Something I am DETERMINED to change.  More about that later.

As I said, Friday was the party, we had pizza and cake.
I don't normally buy bakery cakes likes this, but since it was her 18th birthday, I splurged.  She's worth it.  I was however very disappointed at how dry and crumbly the cake texture was.  Especially for the reputation that particular bakery has as being the best in town.  Costco cakes are WAY better.

Saturday, I got up early, did my grocery shopping (three stores I walked through) for the Thanksgiving meal and for the house for the next week.  I am proud to stay I stayed with in my budget.  We got paid on Friday so it worked out great.  Except for the fact that either I have some new ailment going on or I am so terribly out of shape that I can barely function.  By the time I did the shopping, put it away, did the cleaning and cooking, I was one done chick.  I honestly can't remember hurting so bad before.  I was actually limping by feet hurt so bad.  To add grief on top of all the work I was doing, I found out (when we cut in to the turkey) that my stove is not heating correctly.  I had it set on 350 degrees, the turkey was still raw, the sides were not cooking, so we ended up eating an hour and a half later than planned.  EEK GADS, I have so much food left over.  Seems by then no one was much in the mood to eat, two of my kids were having stomach problems as well.  On the menu for our Thanksgiving dinner...a few days early...was turkey, dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, fruit salad, pistachio salad, buttermilk pie, cranberry sauce and a relish tray with Hawaiian rolls.

Sunday I slept in, did dishes, hubby helped me do the laundry, played computer games, and took some boxes to the storage unit.  We had lunch at Wendy's...since it is in the parking lot of the Home Depot and we had just finished up a little shopping in there...OH MY GOSH it was totally HORRIBLE.  I ordered the Asian chicken cashew salad...first they didn't give me any dressing, then there was not a single cashew in it.  Will not be going back there. Hubby grilled steaks for supper and I made seasoned new potatoes, and we grazed on left overs.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving Day.

Nov 17, 2014

Last Weeks Hits

Everything just kind of fell apart around here, and I do mean everything, as far as cooking, cleaning and organization.  The goal this week is to get back on track and hopefully do a mini cooking session for the freezer as well.

I wanted to get back on track with posting to Meal Plan Monday over at Organizing Junkie, but don't have a plan for the week as yet.  So...I figured maybe I would just share some recipes I tried this week that were hits.

Maid-Rite Copycat - or Loose Meat Sandwich.  OH MY GOSH!, this was crazy good.  I had never heard of these, guess they are a mid-west thing.  The ingredients sounded like something the hubby would like, I am focused on trying some new things, so I gave it a whirl.  It is a hit, the only change we will make is eating them in a tortilla instead of a bun.

Authentic German Potato Salad - Really great for a little bit of a change.

Here are few other dishes.  Don't have recipes for them, but can tell you how to make them.

Honey Buttermilk Bread...okay, so it stuck to the top of the bread machine, but it was still good.

Cheese enchiladas, Spanish rice, pinto beans and Frito salad.

Fry bread tacos.

Ham steak, sweet potatoes and green beans.

If you live here in central to southern California, enjoy the fallish weather and pray for needed rain.  If you live in the rest of the country...stay warm and safe.  Thanks for stopping by.

Oct 29, 2014

I am so behind.

I am so terribly behind with my blog post.  Might as well just say I have abandoned it all.  Kind of feels that way to be honest.

I have a famous, or maybe infamous is a better word, at any rate I have a "to-do" list.  You know the one.  All the things that need to be caught up?  I should be taking advantage of the break from taking care of my two grand babies, but it just ain't happening.  I won't get side tracked on that subject, want to stay on track with this.

Okay, so this is the food part of my blog.  Here it is in a nutshell.  All my grand plans for being organized, all my plans for grand cooking sessions, is all out the window.  I can't remember the last time I planned a menu, although I have been cooking more and eating less processed meals.  I am still terrible at resisting the urge to go out to eat, but working on it.

Here are my goals for the rest of the year.

1.  Get back on track with menu planning.

2.  Clean out freezer.  Purge what is no longer any good.

3.  Eat out less.

4.  Cook more.

Sounds simple, but for me it is not.  I really need to work very hard on getting back in control of this house.

Mar 10, 2014

Finally On The Mend - MPM 3/10-16

I can actually say that I am finally...FINALLY...on the road to recovery.  Still having coughing bouts at the stupidest of moments, but they are getting few and far between.  Am I ever glad, because it seems the older you get the harder it is to hold in the bodily functions when you are coughing, sneezing, and coughing.  Makes for a lot of laundry.  Grand babies are doing great and for that I am very thankful.  Would rather it be me that is sick and miserable than them.

Once again I am linking up with MPM over at Organized Junkie.  If you haven't looked it over, there are over a hundred blogs linked up all sharing what their menu plan for the week is.  Some are even thoughtful enough to post the recipes or links to the recipes.  I don't have recipes or links today, but am hoping to post some through the week.

So far, this is the plan for the week.

Mon. - Rolled Meatloaf, green beans, mashed potatoes
Tue. - King Ranch Chicken casserole, corn, beans
Wed. - Meatball tortellini soup
Thu. - Tilapia, rice, broccoli
Fri. - Beef tips and noodles
Sat. - Waiting to see if we will be in town
Sun. - Steak, potato, salad

This is not set in stone, but it is the general plan.  I have the freezer stocked well with a variety of meet.  Local grocery had ground beef (93%) on sale for $2.99 a pound, which is a savings of $2.50 a pound.  I loaded up, brought home just over 12 pounds and divided it up and packaged it in one pound packages for the freezer.  Sunday may change if I end up having a family dinner, I have a big ham but was planning on it for Easter.  The family has no clue, but I am implementing the "slash" plan this week.  "Slashing" fast food, bad food by cutting portions a little but cooking healthier and more from scratch.  "Slashing" spending as well.  I have gotten cash for my budget for the next two weeks.  Will be recording every penny I spend on a spread sheet to see where I am spending the most so I can figure out where I can cut the easiest.  "Slashing" time wasters as well.  At least where I can given that my day revolves around caring for a toddler and an infant.

This past week was pretty good as far as meals.
 Slow cooked brisket.  Man have I missed this.  Still have a big portion in the freezer, already cooked, just waiting to be eaten.
Rotisserie chicken and noodles with butter cracker crumbs.  My mom fixed this a lot when I was growing up and I was feeling a nostalgic so I made some.  Of course I was the only one to eat them since hubby will not eat pasta of any kind.
 My oldest daughter sent this box of heaven to me.  A really sweet note telling me she had some good memories of me and wanted to thank me.
I made roast beef sandwiches one evening as well.  They were good too.

No really great cooking went on, I was still a bit under the weather and it was a strange week with the little ones.  However, no meals out, nothing brought home, hubby is happy we had home cooked meals each night.  Okay, so the chicken was brought home from Costco, BUT...I can't buy chicken and spices  to cook it up for less money than I buy one, and there is always some left over for other dishes.

Well, that is it for today.  I have a huge stack of recipes printed out that I want to try so have to figure out how to throw them in the meal plan.  I have some bananas that have for sure seen better days so am hoping to get them made up in to banana bread or muffins in the next day or two.

Thanks for stopping in, hope you enjoyed the visit.  Come back soon to visit again.

Feb 25, 2014

Crazy Times.

So, I finally get my kitchen back up and running and here I am sick as can be.  So...this is going to be a short little posting just to make myself stay more current with my blog.  Hopefully.

First of all, my bulb garden (the store's word for it) is doing wonderfully. 

It smells so good when I go through the front door now.  Not sure just which one, or if it is a combination of several, but the flowers fragrance really is divine.  They are all still alive, except for the yellow tall ones (well the plant part is alive, the blooms have died off) and for me that is something.

The weather is starting to warm up finally and EVERYTHING in the town is budding, blooming and erupting with pollen and signs of life.  We have all been under attack from our allergies, not to mention this cough and flu crap, so we just keep passing it back and forth.

The menu planning has been going pretty well.  It has been fun finding all the gizmos I had put away for when I had my kitchen back. I was selling Pampered Chef, things got really crazy around here with the kitchen remodel, holidays, travel and illness I haven't been able to do much with it, trying to figure out if I want to continue with it, considering I am my best customer.
 This is called a "salad chopper".  You put a bunch of lettuce or spinach and stuff in a bowl, use this like a pair of scissors to chop up everything, right in the bowl. I saw a video where the demonstrator placed the chopper blade part straight in a can of tomatoes and just cut/chopped away, very interesting. However, I have to admit, I have not used it like that yet.  I had a small bunch of green onions that I needed to slice for a recipe I was making, and I really hate chopping or slicing those little buggers, so I tried this gizmo on a whim.  It worked WONDERFULLY!  I will definitely be using this to chop those onions from now on.
Now this little gadget is called a julienne peeler.  Also from Pampered Chef.  I LOVE this thing. Those are zucchini and carrot strips in the bag, ready for stir fry.  This thing just peels off a layer and cuts it in to strips at the same time.  I will have to experiment a bit and see what other veggies this thing works on.

On the subject of menu planning.  I have come to the realization that my current schedule is such that posting the menu plan for the coming week is just not going to work.  One of the posters to the MPM site list what they did have for the week and that seems to work well.  I will be trying that next week.

Thanks for stopping by, come back and visit often.

Feb 10, 2014

MPM 2/10 - 14 Finally...A Working Kitchen...All New

Finally, I am so thrilled, I have a working kitchen again.  My all new kitchen.  The remodel is finally complete.  I will add the photos shortly.  I am just so happy it is all completely finished and it has turned out so much better than the one in my head.

First, getting back to a normal routine.  I am going to link up with Menu Plan Monday over at Organized Junkie. I have not really had time to create the menu plans the way I wanted, but now that the kitchen is back up and running and I have my pantry, fridge and freezer all stocked pretty well, I will be working more on that.  My main obstacle is the mess I face in my sewing room slash office.  I can't even find the desk, have no comfortable chair to work out of, so that will actually be my priority this week.  Nothing is going to get done today, I am taking a day off for my birthday. I know, kind of silly but just being honest.  Another one of my goals for this year, honesty and being more realistic in my plans.  So, that being said, this is my plan for the week.

Mon. - Steak, baked potato and salad.  Hubby is grilling for my birthday tonight.
Tue. - Chicken enchiladas, beans. (using left over rotisserie chicken being)
Wed. - Roast, carrots, potatoes, green beans.
Thu. - Stuffed peppers, corn casserole
Fri. - Teriyaki Chicken and rice. (this is actually Hawaiian chicken that was on sale at Costco)
Sat. - Burgers and fries.
Sun. - Ham, broccoli cheese casserole, carrots, rolls.

This week end is Valentine's which has a totally different meaning for me than others.  I will share that story another time.  My son and his wife are going to a marriage retreat those days so I will have the babies all day and over night as well.  Miss Zebra will be gone with the church youth to winter camp those days as well.  I have had Mr. M overnight, when his little sister was born, but have not had baby girl over night.  It will be a rough weekend for sure, but am glad that hubby will be here and son and daughter-in-law really need a little get away.

Now...drum roll...the new kitchen.  Here is the post with all the before photos.  If you want to see the journey, just look back over the old post.  I will start out with one photo taken before we started to show what the old kitchen originally looked like.
Before, you the bar with the tan tile counters that divided the kitchen from the dining area. Notice the great glass door cabinet?  I hated that thing after about the second year of living here.  

One thing I did not plan on, or rather did not fully understand, was the fact that these cabinets were 15 inches deep while the new standard is 12 inches deep.  The whole layout flowed very poorly.  The pantry was next to the stove, but the only counter space to prep anything was by the sink and the bar area.  Which by the way, the bar was the only space large enough for pots and pans but the stove is across the room.  Granted, it is not a large distance, but still very awkward to work in.

Now, after moving the pantry to the opposite end of the kitchen, creating more prep area, moving the fridge to the opposite wall and end of the kitchen, centering the stove on that wall a bit more, moving the dishwasher as well, I now have a wonderful new kitchen.
Hubby finished all the trim and the nobs on his day off.  I have only had it fully working for a couple of weeks.  The last week of January I got the glass tile backsplash installed, so it has been kind of working and not working as the last of the work was done.
I have to say, I just love my new tile backsplash.  The brown colors just feel so warm and inviting to me.  I may be wrong, but it just doesn't feel so dated either.

The original window was a total mess, it is very strange to be able to see out once again. 

And, as you know I have added a few new small appliances as well.  Hubby was very skeptical of the Keurig, especially since I don't drink coffee I just wanted hot cocoa quickly.  Have to say, he is getting in to the whole K-cup experience though.  He had to go out of town for a week, work related, and he called to tell me he wished he had taken some pods with him because his hotel room had a Keurig machine in it.
 This is the view in to the dining area now.  The camera kind of played a trick here, making it look like a very small space between the walls.  The fridge and pantry could both have the doors extended and have walking space for a couple of people between them.  After all, the floor tiles are 12 inch tiles and there are six of them (6 feet) between.
The glass front china hutch is my newest purchase.  It has all of my mom's glass ware that I ended up with when she passed away.  Found out that one of the china trays dates back to 1840.  It was my great grandmother's, passed to my grandmother, passed to my mom and now to me.  I only knew these ladies through my mom.  The smaller hutch was built by my father and it has some little vintage odd pieces from my child hood and my souvenir coffee cup collection.

As I said, I have only had the functioning kitchen for a couple of weeks, but OH MY GOSH, WHAT A TOTAL DIFFERENCE.  It really is a pure joy to work in this new kitchen, the new design flows SOOOO much better.  I have to admit also, it is a lot more fun to clean up, now that I don't dread walking in it.  Still have to fine tune a few things, change up a few cabinet contents as I have found that some things that I use more often than I thought are located to high to comfortably reach often.  I am bound an determined that I only have to use the step stool occasionally to reach a pan or such instead of every day, which seems to happen now.  I will get it figured out though.

Okay, now for a couple of other photos to share.  Remember I told you about that window?  Well, the original window was a double pane.  The seal had deteriorated which made the glass milky between the panes.  While I could still see out, it was like looking through a window that had been smeared with white paint or such.

This is a closer look at the new window.  My little gnomes hanging out happy in the new window sill, my new cactus balls and now I have some colorful wind chimes hanging in front of the window to look at as well.

Aren't these just the cutest little things.  Should be very easy to care for as well and they are grown for indoor settings so don't need the heat and total sun that you think a cactus would.  I just love them.  The top one has a purple stone in it, so I naturally thought of my birthstone - purple amethyst - for February.  The bottom one doesn't show it clearly, but the red spot is actually a little lady bug.  My wonderfully bright grandson, Mr. M of course, noticed the bug first thing and wanted to be lifted closer to see it.  So funny.

Speaking of plants.  My front entry way is my on going new project.
It was a little bland.  I just wanted to dress it up a bit.  I had an old computer desk that is built to go in a corner that was no longer being used.  In fact, it will probably not last long at all on the porch, it was the victim of a flooding incident so the bottom wood is all warped, but hey...just couldn't toss it to the dump just yet.
I moved this old birdhouse out to it, added a wind chime bell, which Mr. M is totally fascinated with and won't come through the door until he has rang it a few times.
And then I purchased this "bulb garden" which is supposed to be a house plant but the florist told me that if it were in a protected spot with indirect light it would be fine.  She was right.  I need an updated photo, but all the little yellow flowers have bloomed out, the purple and red flowers have spread through the bottom of the stemmed plants making a flower carpet almost and the other two bulbs are about ready to have their blooms all open up.  Eventually there will be a lot more plants on this shelf unit, I hope to really load it down actually.  I need to get some more nails in the rafters to hang some plants from as well.  At the moment, we have had a little cold spell come back to us, so it is good that I don't have too much out there yet.  I do love seeing the pop of flowers every time I walk through my front door, kind of like that little bit of spring that hints at how wonderful summer will be.
It has been so dreary with the weather and the remodel that I just couldn't resist some fresh flowers for the table.  It was a really cheap mixed bouquet, but the colors are so vibrant and warm, just really love them.

Goodness, this posting has gotten long.  Thank you for stopping buy for a visit and please come back again.

Jan 6, 2014

Week 6 - Kitchen Remodel

So, here we are in to week 6 of the remodel.  Still about two or three weeks to go.
 The neighbor surprised me while we were gone for Christmas and installed the new window.  Still have to do some trim work on it but man is it nice being able to look out and see things once again.  Last week we had some warmer weather during the day, so it was nice to be able to open the window for a change and let some fresh air in.  Well, fresh as can be for our area. Ha Ha

We are slowly getting there.  The stove in the photo has been replaced.  The dishwasher is hooked up and working so I can at least wash dishes.  Still have to take them to the bath tub to rinse them off. LOL  The vent has been replaced as well.  This past Tuesday the guy came and did the final measure for the counter tops.  That paper work hit the New Year holiday, so was finalized this past Friday.  I was waiting for the call from Home Depot, knew that I would have to go pay a bunch more before they could start on them.  I originally paid for a color A price (A being the lowest price) and top mount sink.  Decided however to go with an under mount sink, which is an additional charge.  Then changed my mind several times on the color, ending up with one that was in color D price range (the most expensive group) but was on sale for the color B price, so knew that I would have to pay about $400.00 difference.  Well, after he did the measure, found out my designer measured heavy, then find out that the price of the counter top has gone down even more, I ended up getting about $25.00 refunded.  YIPPEE!

I had purchased a Hamilton Beach Toastation (is a toaster oven with a slotted toaster on top) thinking it would save counter space having two devices in one so to speak.  It was great when I first used it, the first few times actually.  Toaster slots worked well, had to do two cycles to toast a bagel, so was okay with that part.  The oven part worked great the first few times, then, the door quit working and became very difficult to open or close.  Best I can figure out, the brackets that move the shelf in and out as the door opens and closes was not made of metal strong enough to endure prolonged (more than 3-5 minutes) of higher heat temperature.  It would warp or bend just enough to keep the door from functioning.  I took it back and purchased just a toaster over.  Half the price, works ten times better.  Now to figure out if I am going to keep the big Faberware Toaster oven that I originally bought.  It works really well, has a rotisserie function, but am having a devil of a time finding bake ware to fit in it.  It is really too large for the regular toaster oven bake ware, but about a half inch short of smaller pans for a regular oven.  I guess I really should take it back and get my money back, but am really wanting to try that rotisserie function first.  OH MAN, would it be great to be able to cook rotisserie style chicken at home.  Although, they are really cheap to buy already cooked from Costco.  At under $5 bucks, can hardly buy the hen and spices for that.  AND, they are sooo good.

Actually, I have several small appliances that I am waiting for my counter tops to come in and the back splash installed to determine what I will be leaving on the counters.  Once I have that figured out, I will then determine where to store the rest and then possible get rid of some.  I am a gadget obsessed hoarder to be sure.  I have grills, waffle stick makers, processors, pressure cookers, rice cooker, steamer, I even have a slider grill that I have used twice.  It works really well, as I love those little burgers, but it is heck to clean up and since I am the only one that likes them I just wait until we eat out to have them. I swore I wouldn't buy any more such appliance gadgets, but during Christmas Walmart put out there odd little things, like chocolate fountains, for customers to purchase as gifts.  NO...I did not buy the fountain.  Thought about it, but knew that it would sure be a bear to clean.  I did however buy a doughnut maker (makes four cake doughnuts) because it seemed healthier than fried ones.  But then I bought a funnel cake fryer.  I will be taking it back, no one eats them around here, we are trying to cut back on fried food, but it is so cute in it's little blue size.  Besides, Miss Z would probably have fun using to make up some funnel cakes during a super bowl party or something.  If I ever get counter tops and sink back in the kitchen.

Oh, and we won't talk about the new deep fryer and bread maker that I bought and hid in the RV until the kitchen is finished.  I know it is terribly wasteful, but I did buy them just because I wanted new stainless steel ones for my kitchen.  I know, fried food, but some times a girl just has to have her fried okra and tater tots are so much better fried than baked. 

We have all been sick with the crud, even the grand babies - poor things, and thought we were getting over it, had a few nice days, then BAM! it has all come back.  Miss Zebra is done down with it in a huge way.  I am still, after four weeks of this battle, coughing like I smoke and those coughing fits lead to little accidents which lead to a load of pants being washed each night.  I am really seriously thinking about wearing a pad, if it weren't for the fact that the stupid things break me out.  Bad enough during "that time" but just not wanting to add fuel to the fire so to speak.

Since I only have a partially functioning kitchen, my meal planning has been put on hold.  While I can cook anything I want now, cleaning up and prep work is holding that back.  Am cooking very simple things, not many pans, not a lot of prep.  Hubby was sweet and has temporarily gotten me a piece of plywood over the dishwasher, so that helps some, plus we needed it to keep the dishwasher from tipping when we opened the door.  I took some old shelves and have then placed around the stove, they are not very big, but it at least gives me something to work on, leave a spoon on and such.

I am still in a quandary as to where to put everything back in the cabinets.  Not to mention all the Pampered Chef serving ware I went a little crazy on when it hit the clearance price. I have way too much stuff and as I posted earlier, the new cabinets are only 12 inches deep where the old ones were 15.  Makes some of my platters not fit and I am having a hard time figuring out where to put plastic left over dishes.  That is in the works for today, to empty a few more boxes of kitchen ware and then take what I am not using to storage for a time.  You see, I have two children going in to an apartment possibly in the fall and I just can't let go of some of this stuff until I see if they will be needing it or not.

Thanks for stopping in,  please come back again.  If I can get myself organized, I will be posting at least once a week here.  That is the goal anyway.  See you next time.