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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chicken and Kale Soup

I altered yesterday's meal a bit after picking up some kale this week. I decided to try adding it to a chicken vegetable soup. I really liked the results.

8 cups chicken stock or broth (I make my own and freeze it)
3 large potatoes, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2T olive oil
2 celery stalks, sliced
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
40z. mushrooms, diced
salt and pepper
2 cups cooked diced chicken breast
1 cup corn
1 head of kale, washed, dried, and chopped into small pieces
1t herbes de provence

In large pot on stove, heat 2T olive oil. Add celery, carrot, onion, garlic and mushrooms, and saute for about 4 minutes. Salt and pepper lightly. Add broth and potatoes, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, add chicken, and let simmer for 15-20 minutes until vegetables are soft.
Add kale, corn and herbes de provence, and let simmer for an additional 10 minutes, until kale is tender. Ladle into bowls and serve with crusty bread and a salad.

I just had a bowl of this today and it's even better reheated!

Friday, February 26, 2010


I apologize in advance if any of my photos look a little goofy....I got a new app on my iPhone I'm playing with...I think I like it....but when I decide for sure I'll share...in the meantime, if something looks off, it's because I'm playing. LOL

This is my 7yo with his best friend done in pencil effect and I just LOVE it.

First Steps to Spring!

Amazing the little things I get excited about. Here are my first seed purchases for this summer's garden. This weekend I start setting up shop in the basement, and getting my little seed babies up and running for the things I can transplant. So exciting!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Girl Scout Cookie Names...

Good thing I managed to lose a bit of weight over the past week. I'm bound to gain it back. Our 3rd grade neighbor and resident girl scout brought our order over today.

I laugh whenever we get Girl Scout cookies here in Omaha. We're from Missouri, and most of the cookies are the same, but NONE of the names are. And we find differences in what gets sold here versus home. My friend's daughter sells cookies in St. Louis and the list was quite different.

So left to right, we got the Thanks-a-lot, which is a shortbread cookie dipped in chocolate. Then the Peanut Butter Patties, in St. Louis known as the Tagalong, the Lemonades, which are shortbread cookies with a lemon icing, and Peanut Butter Sandwiches, also known as the Do-Si-Do.

What cookies did you get in your area and what do they call them? What's your favorite?

Chicken and Red Bean Enchiladas

I made a small variation to my normal Chicken Enchiladas recipe tonight so as to sneak some beans into the boys meal. They like beans, but tend to eat them better if they're in something, rather than a standalone side. I had thought about making rice tonight but decided not to, so I put the beans straight into the enchiladas.

10 flour tortillas
2 cups cooked, diced or shredded chicken
1 can red beans, drained and rinsed
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1 cup salsa
1t onion powder
2 cups cheese

Preheat oven to 350. In small bowl, mix soup, sour cream and salsa. In large bowl, mix together chicken, beans, half of the soup mixture, onion powder and 1 cup cheese. Heat tortillas in microwave for 30 seconds so they are flexible. Fill each tortilla with 2-3T filling and place seam down in a greased casserole dish. Pour remaining soup mixture over enchiladas, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and bake for 30 at 350 until golden and bubbly.

We served with additional sour cream and salsa, lime, corn, and salad with a honey lime chipotle vinaigrette.

This recipe has been linked to the Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap.

Another Omaha Blogger!

This past weekend, I stumbled upon OmahaCouponClipper. I was excited to find another blogger in Omaha dedicated to budget living, and Brandy's blog is very focused on specific local sales and match-ups, which is great! I try to do this from time to time, but I'm not very vigilant at keeping everything updated. Brandy is, and I'm thrilled to have her doing it! Stop by her blog and say "hi"! :)

Freezing Broccoli

Broccoli crowns without the big stalk are on sale at Fareway this week for .99/lb. This is a great price, and we eat a lot of broccoli here, but I'm not sure we're going to get to it for a few days, so I took 10 minutes when I got home from the store to make sure the broccoli will be ready when I am! First, you want to wash it and cut it into spears or florets like I did here. Next, bring a big pot of water to a roiling boil.

Once the water is boiling, you drop the broccoli in for about 90 seconds, til it turns a pretty bright green. Drain
To stop the cooking process and to keep the pretty green color, make sure you rinse well in cold water. Let the excess water drain, and then you can divide into freezer bags to your liking.
I purchased 2lbs. of broccoli exactly. I was able to divide it up for 3 dinners. .67 each for nice broccoli spears at dinner. I will pop this into a steamer to cook. Easy!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Time to start planning for the garden!

Hard to believe since my garden is still pretty snow covered that I need to start working on plants so that my garden will be like this again...

I start getting my seeds and supplies together this week, and I'll be designing a garden layout plan. Hubby is going to extend the bunny fencing to the front this summer as well, and try that instead of the water scarecrows, as they are just hellbent on getting to my green beans. This year I hope to end up with more than just a handful!

This year presents a bit of a challenge...I need to rotate where I had tomatoes last year, and because of the garden's shape, any of my options for where to relocate will have less space. Less space means less tomatoes. Bad because I won't have as many for salads, salsas and sauces, good because it will free up some space to try some new things. I will be doing lettuce and spinach this year, expanding my herbs, and perhaps trying some carrots. I will also be expanding my peppers, because hubby wants to try his hand at smoking jalapenos to make chipotle peppers.

I will post as I progress over the next week...what are you planting this year?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Menu Plan Week of 2/22

Starting 3/8 my workday will be changing. In so many ways it will be better. I will get to sleep in later since I will be going in around 7:30 or 8am instead of 4am. That also means I will get to stay up like a big girl at night and not be a wreck by 8pm. At work, the shift in my position will allow more focus on big picture items, which is awesome. I have, though, been quite spoiled by being home by 3 or 4 every afternoon. It has made mealtime with the family very easy. Going forward, it's more likely that I won't be home until 5 or 6, so I am going to need to start planning ahead. We've done so well at cutting fast food and processed foods out of our diet, and I want to make sure the change in schedule doesn't affect that.

I will be doing more OAMC and make ahead meals, plus utilizing hubby to help get things started before I get home.

This week I will be in practice mode. Tomorrow's dinner is cooking in the crockpot tonight. Monday and Tuesday I will be working on the chicken enchiladas and the stock for the chicken noodle soup. Hubby will have the smoker for Saturday's meal fired up on Friday, so I'll be cooking up a storm I'm sure over the weekend for the week ahead.

Monday 2/22
pot roast w/ potatoes and carrots $4.30
spinach and apple salad $1.00

Tuesday 2/23
pierogies w/ smoked sausage $3.75
coleslaw .75

Wednesday 2/24
chicken enchiladas $3.25
red beans and rice $1.00
corn .50

Tursday 2/25
spaghetti $3.25
green beans .50
salad .75

Friday 2/26
chicken noodle soup $2.25
grilled cheese $2.00

Saturday 2/27
smoked pork butt $2.50
roasted potatoes .75
salad .75

Sunday 2/28
pizza night $4.00
salad .75

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Roasted Broccoli

There is officially nothing that doesn't taste better after roasting. Well, okay, maybe not...but broccoli sure wasn't on my list of roasting no-brainers. I was actually a little skeptical. I felt better after watching my 4 and 7 year old inhale their broccoli. This will be going into regular rotation around here, and it's sooo easy!

1lb. fresh broccoli, cut into florets
2T olive oil
1t kosher salt
1/2 pepper
1T lemon juice

Preheat oven to 425....spray cookie sheet with no stick spray and spread broccoli evenly onto sheet. Drizzle oil over broccoli, sprinkle with salt and put in oven for 15-20 minutes until broccoli is tender and has some nice browning. After removing from oven, season with lemon juice, pepper, and if desired, an additional pinch of salt.

Raspberry Barbecue Sauce

Hubby smoked our pork tenderloin yesterday, and I wanted a dipping sauce to finish it, so I played around in the kitchen and came up with a wonderful sauce with a nice kick! I mixed 1/2 cup barbecue sauce, 1/2 cup of raspberry polaner all fruit, 2T raspberry balsamic vinegar and 1T habanero jam I have in a saucepan and heated it over low heat. WOW! Next time I will use either our chipotle Tabasco, or some adobo sauce from a can of chipotles in place of the habanero jam. This is a keeper!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Crawled through this week's coupons and sale ads today. Bubkus. Nada. Zilch. I don't want or need anything in any of the ads. What a great feeling!!!

I will stop tomorrow for milk, but otherwise will wait for the Wednesday grocery ads to see if there are any deals worth going out for. Otherwise, I will have some free time on my hands for other stuff! And some extra money to put into the Christmas account!

Menu Plan Week of 2/15

Monday 2/15
grilled pork tenderloin marinated in teriyaki $3.50
roasted broccoli $1.00
au gratin potatoes $1.00
(save 1 cup diced pork for Thursday)

Tuesday 2/16
chicken in lemon sauce over angel hair $4.00
asparagus .75
(save 1 cup diced chicken for Thursday)

Wednesday 2/17
pizza joes $3.50
french fries .50
apples .50
(remove 1 cup beef after cooking for Friday)

Thursday 2/18
chicken and pork fried rice $1.50
sliced cantaloupe .50

Friday 2/19
beef and bean tostadas $3.50
corn .50

Saturday 2/20
smoked bbq pork butt on buns $2.50
beer cheese soup $2.50
veggie platter 1.00

Sunday 2/21
pizza night

Blue Cheese and Bacon Mac n Cheese

Here's a nice change of pace for a more "grown up" mac and cheese. My boys also loved it.

8oz spiral pasta
5 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
2T butter
3T grated white onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2T flour
2 cups milk
2oz. blue cheese, crumbled
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
1/4t nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
diced tomatoes (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Cook pasta according to directions. Meanwhile, melt 2T butter over medium heat in saucepan. Saute onion and garlic for 3 minutes. Add flour, whisk to combine and let cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk, breaking up any lumps. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat slightly, stirring frequently until sauce thickens. Slowly add cheeses and whisk until well melted. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Drain pasta. Add to sauce. Add bacon, and stir to combine. Mixture will be a little soupy. This is good, as it will thicken while baking, but still be creamy and moist. Place pasta in a greased baking pan and bake for 25 minutes at 350 until top is bubbly.

I like to top with diced tomatoes. Enjoy!

Linked to the $5 Dinner Challenge

Tangy Dijon Dipping Sauce

Just a few simple ingredients you should already have on hand can give you a nice alternative to ketchup for fries, onion rings, etc. This would also be good with crab or salmon cakes.

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1T dijon mustard (I used horseradish dijon for an extra zing)
1T red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced (or cheat like I did and use jarred)
pinch of salt and pepper
Place all ingredients in bowl and mix well. Chill until serving.
I served this last night with oven baked fries. Delish!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Being the mom of boys can be so surreal sometimes!

Our dog Rory and I are the only females in the household. I love being the mom of boys, but sometimes, you can definitely tell there's a distinct difference between the sexes. The constant burp and toot jokes. The shock at the fact that I sit to go potty (and the explanations to both of my toddlers that no, I didn't have a pee pee like they did).

But today was one of those days that even rose above that. Before heading into the bathroom to shower and dress this morning, I laid some things on the bed to sort for laundry. When I came out, my 4 year old was holding my bra, much like a slingshot, while my 7 year old attempted to tear it away. The conversation went like this:

4yo: "I'm going to DESTROY Bra Man!"
7yo: "No, you can't! He's good!"

Yes. My boys had just turned my lingerie into a super hero, and my 4 year old had become his arch nemesis. What to do?

Tell them both they better put Bra Man down before his partner shows up. Captain Doubledee.

I love being the mom of boys. :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Wow- This never happens!

Grocery sale ads here come out on Wednesdays, so with my job and with family stuff, I find that I usually need a couple of trips through the week to get all the shopping done. I take advantage of big sales and coupon matchups on Wednesday, and then usually take a trip on Friday or Saturday to make sure I have picked up everything I wanted/needed to get through to the following Wednesday.

Somehow, I did everything I wanted to do on Wednesday! I was pondering what stops I needed to make and realized I don't have to do anything! We are completely stocked up on milk, produce, and have everything on hand for this week's meal plan.

I think I'll take that time and invest it in an extra trip to the Y for some cardio this weekend!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

You know I'm not feeling well when...

Yesterday I was feeling a tickle in my throat, and thought it might be sinus drip. Sure enough, I woke up with this month's sinus infection today. Lovely. A trip to the doctor confirmed that, along with a double ear infection. Even better, right? So I've sent hubby out for my antibiotics, steroids that they prescribed, and for dinner...yes....gasp....Mc Donald's. The kids think I'm the coolest woman ever. I couldn't tell you the last time I had a burger and fries from there. We really try to keep these kinds of meals to a minimum. Tonight, though, the last thing I wanted to do was cook. Standing over the freezer trying to decide on something quick and easy sounded equally horrid.

So, I get my french fry fix for the year tonight. :)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Menu Plan Week of 2/8

I put this disclosure on this plan at the very beginning---we've barely eaten any of our Super Bowl snackies and still have a ton of food yet to come, so I'm thinking we're going to have a fair amount of leftovers to dispose of. That could displace some of this plan. That could change, though, depending on what kind of damage my hubby, the "Munchie Monster", decides to do late tonight :)

At this point though, here's what the week looks like. A reminder that I feed 2 adults and 2 boys, and that we will eat all 7 dinners here. This week's menu comes in just under $35.

Monday 2/8
Tacos $3.00
corn .50
fresh pineapple $1.00

Tuesday 2/9
shrimp fried rice $4.00
potstickers $1.50

Wednesday 2/10
pork chop and stuffing bake $3.50
green beans .45

Thursday 2/11
chicken alphabet soup $1.50
grilled cheese $1.50
spinach salad $1.00

Friday 2/12
baked mac and cheese w/ potato chip topping $2.50
honey cinnamon baby carrots .50
salad $1.00

Saturday 2/13
Italian Beef on homemade buns $4.50
(well, hopefully homemade buns---first ever attempt- keep your fingers crossed
potato skins $1.50
corn .50

Sunday 2/14
Heart shaped pizza night $6.00
some yummy something for dessert. not sure yet.

Hot Artichoke Dip Tart

I had half a can of artichoke hearts in the refrigerator to use up, along with a refrigerator pie crust, so I decided to use them as I make Super Bowl munchies to graze on. The pie crust is basically a wonderful, flaky cradle for the hot artichoke dip. Here's what you need:

Preheat oven to 425.

1 refrigerated pie crust, brought to room temperature
1/2 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2T mayonnaise
3T cream cheese
1 tsp minced garlic
3T parmesan cheese
couple dashes of hot sauce
1/2 cup mozzarella

Lay pie crust on a pizza pan or cookie sheet. In a small bowl, mix together everything but the mozzarella. Spread the mixture onto the center of the pie crust. Sprinkle with the mozzarella, and then fold the crust over the edges of the dip. Place in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until it looks like this:
Use a pizza cutter to cut into slices.
Make sure there are other people around to eat this with you so you're not tempted to eat the whole thing by yourself like I was ;)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Using my last jar of home-canned Spaghetti Sauce

So sad. My last jar of homemade sauce with tomatoes from my garden until this summer. Once you make your own sauce you get so spoiled with the taste compared to store bought.

Wish this snow would melt and spring would get here already!!!

Look what you can do with 3 chicken breasts

...and this!

Hy-Vee is having another great weekend sale. One of the things I picked up this morning was bone in skin-on chicken breasts for .88/lb. I brought the 2 packages home, put one in the freezer, and decided to go ahead and cook up the other package. The package was about 2.5 lbs. and cost me $2.27.

First, I poached the chicken with water, celery, pepper corns, garlic cloves, carrots and onion. After it was cooked, I pulled it out, chopped it up, and came up with 2 nearly 1lb. bags of meat to use. I have one in the fridge for lunches, and the other in the freezer for a future meal.

Then I added the bones back to the pot, add more celery, some parsley and more water, and simmered for about 3 hours. I got 3 containers of broth that are in the fridge now, and when they're cold, I'll skim any fat off and put them in the freezer.

All of that for $2.27!!

Strawberry Syrup

I made this syrup today...it has less sugar than a typical syrup recipe. Instead, I utilized honey and fruit juice, with just a small amount of brown sugar. This is great for pancakes, waffles, and ice cream!

1 pound strawberries, washed and diced
1 cup apple juice
1/2 cup honey
2T brown sugar
1t vanilla
2T lemon juice
1t lemon zest

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan, and let cook for 15 minutes. Sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Store in refrigerator. Don't know how long it keeps because it doesn't last long :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Great Week for Produce at Aldi

I made my weekly trek to Aldi yesterday. Wonderful week to stock up on fresh produce at GREAT prices. Here's what I got:

1 head of cauliflower- .89
2 1lb. bags of baby carrots @ .49 each
5lb. bag of Navel Oranges- .99
7 avocados @ .49 each
1 bunch of bananas- $1.09
vegetable oil- $1.99
Maple Baked Beans- $1.29

Total was $10.65. I will be blanching the cauliflower and one bag of the carrots to freeze.

With this winter being so cold and snowy, I have just been craving nice fresh fruits and veggies like mad. Nice to be able to get them at such affordable prices!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Lancet Medical Journal Retracts Major Study

Yesterday, the medical journal the Lancet retracted a study it published back in 1998 that linked the MMR vaccine to Autism. The study kicked off a major discussion of vaccinations, and led many parents to leave their children vulnerable to preventable diseases for fear of consequences from the vaccine.

You can read more on the story from CNN here. As a parent, this reinforces my belief that you should be as informed as possible, but not overly reactive. I lost a childhood friend to measles because she wasn't vaccinated, and so I know that has impacted my views on vaccination.

I don't ever doubt that things we put in our food, products, bodies, can affect us in adverse ways. We have made more and more of an effort to eliminate processed foods from our diet, and to find more natural skin, hair and cleaning products. That being said, I look at how much vaccinations have completely eradicated childhood illnesses that were at one point in time commonplace and often ended many otherwise healthy lives very prematurely. My husband and I read as much as we could, discussed it with our doctor and each other, and ultimately decided that the benefits far outweighed the risks and that we must vaccinate our children. We have, though, spread some of the injections out a little further apart, rather than 4 or 5 different vaccinations all being given at the same time...that always seemed to be a lot for a little body to handle to me.

It will be interesting to see if this development will change any opinions.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

London Broil with Asparagus and Spinach Salad

After a long day at work and only an apple all day, boy was I ready for a good, easy, FAST dinner! We grilled London Broil that I had started marinating on Sunday. Cooked it to medium rare and sliced it across the grain. Joining the steak on the grill was some nice fresh asparagus which I brushed with some honey mustard. And to finish it all up, a spinach and blueberry salad tossed in a very simple vinaigrette. Yum!

Add this to my list...

Of things that I should never, ever buy again. Not if I want to fit into my pants. I buy the boys granola bars, usually reduced sugar or fiber one bars....but I saw these and thought I'd get a box to try because I got them so cheap. My children won't get to eat these because the grown ups will have them eaten before they ever realize there is such a thing as a candy bar masquerading as a granola bar. Oh my heavens.

One of Those Days....

It's 4:33pm...I've been here at work since 4am, and I've finally gotten a chance to eat. Yes. A whole apple.

Lovely, huh? Looking forward to dinner!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Lemon Roasted Potatoes.

Tonight's lemon roasted potatoes were courtesy of Closet Cooking. I have absolutely fallen in love with this food blog. Pretty much everything looks amazing.

We looooooved these. Definitely worth a try!

Menu Plan Week of 2/1

I finally cleaned out the deep freezer yesterday. I am ashamed to say that I had been procrastinating about it for quite some time. The freezer had been pretty full and it was all from some ***very*** old items down at the bottom from before I got my act together on meal planning and stockpiling. I knew they were down there but I just was dreading the process. So finally yesterday hubby and I pulled everything out, got rid of the old items, and reassembled the freezer with the items I need to use up first at the front and center. I feel much more organized now, and with the freed up space, it will be easier to find things for sure.

I created this week's plan around items that I need to use, as well as hubby's creations from the smoker. Sunday's meal is much more than we typically spend for one meal, but it's the big game, and it's still a lot less than we would spend to go out. 7 dinners for 4 this week work out to about $37.

Monday 2/1
Pulled pork sammies $3.25
roasted potatoes .25 (thank you .79 5lb. bag!)
fresh cantaloupe .75

Tuesday 2/2
London Broil in teriyaki garlic marinade $3.75
grilled asparagus .75
Spinach Salad $1.00

Wednesday 2/3
Fish sticks .50
clam strips $1.50
french fries .75
corn .50

Thursday 2/4
spaghetti w/ meatballs $3.50
green beans .45
salad .75

Friday 2/5
pork fried rice $2.00
potstickers $1.75

Saturday 2/6
chicken paprikash w/ egg noodles and peas $3.00
salad .75
corn bread .50

Sunday 2/7
baby back ribs $9.00
baked potatoes $1.00
beans $1.00

Check out what 100's of other families are having for dinner this week at Menu Plan Monday!

The new smoker is working at full speed

Hubby was at it again with the new smoker yesterday. He smoked a couple packages of italian sausage (yum!), some of which we had with tortellini pasta for dinner last night.

He also smoked a 7lb. pork butt that I had picked up for .99/lb this week. This turned out so well that I'm amazed there's any left today for dinner! Truly juicy, fall apart meat that we'll be having on sandwiches tonight, and freezing the rest before hubby can eat it as a late night snack for a couple other meals :)

I'm getting my spice rub for pork down pretty well. This can be used on ribs, roasts, and even beef or chicken.

2T kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
2T black pepper (I use Penzey's California Pepper Blend and it lends a lot of flavor)
1/4 cup paprika
2T mustard powder
1T ground coriander
(if you like spice, you could also add in cayenne pepper to your liking. With the boys, I don't go there :)

Mix ingredients in a bowl...Use about 2T per pound of meat. Letting the meat sit in the fridge overnight with the rub on it is even better, but not necessary.

With the pork butt, we brought it out of the smoker when the internal temp hit 160, and then put it in a roaster pan, poured over a mop sauce that I made (see below), and baked for 2 hours at 350. Heaven.

Mop Sauce:
1 cup cider vinegar
3T brown sugar
1T kosher salt
1T black pepper.

Bring mop sauce ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce thickens. You can use this to baste meat while it cooks for moisture and extra flavor.

Next weekend for football we're doing up baby back ribs in the smoker. My favorite!