Sunday, February 28, 2010

MPM

I've been slacking off here in the past couple weeks so I thought I best get back up on the horse. To take a look at these recipes, click here.

Monday - Pot Roast
Tuesday - Cheesy Chicken
Wednesday - Meat Loaf
Thursday - Tortilla Soup
Friday - Pizza Night!
Saturday - Beef Tips
Sunday - Dinner Out!

Have a great week!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Catastrophe

This week I had my first (that I can recall at this moment) culinary catastrophe! I've been following my crock pot recipes and I came to the Lemon chicken. When I went to the freezer to grab the frozen lemonade, I saw that I accidentally bough OJ instead. Simple, I thought...I'll just make orange chicken instead of lemon chicken. I've seen this at Chinese places before so I thought it was a no brainer! It cooked all day long and Nate fulfilled his crock pot responsibilities by turning it every other hour to make sure it gets cooked evenly. When I got home I was so excited for another great crock pot dinner. I got my rice all cooked up, the table set, and everything was ready. We sat down at the table, said the prayer, and it was time to dig in. Since I'm totally into carbs, I first went for the rice. With the aroma of the orange and the rice I thought we were off to a good start. It wasn't until I heard Ana say, "Mommy...this is a little bit of yucky!" that I knew we had problems. Everyone started to dig into the chicken only to confirm what Ana had discovered. It was absolutely gross. The frugal part of me wanted to see if there was a way to save it so I started to think of something we could put on it and when Nate said "steak sauce" I thought, "Why not?". It ended up not working like I had hoped and finally, it all ended up in the trash. It wasn't even good enough to let our dog give it a try! My hopes dashed in yucky orange sauce, we all opted for butter and bread and called it a night. Second thought, maybe we should say we called it a nightmare! Here's to finding another recipe with better results!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Debt

For the past few years we've been trying our hardest to get out of debt and start saving. We've been (not faithfully) following Dave Ramsey's plan for Total Money Makeover. Actually we've been doing his plan completely out of order but we have made a lot of progress. If we were to do it over again, it's definitely worth going in his order! I think I did this at the beginning of 2009 so here's our update for 2010:

Baby Step #1 - Save $1000 in an emergency savings plan
DONE

Baby Step #2 - Get out of debt with the debt snowball
ALMOST DONE $5,000 more on our car payment (should be paid off in June/July)

Baby Step #3 - Start saving 3-6 months of expenses in savings
STARTING IN AUGUST

Baby Step #4 - Invest 15% in a Roth IRA
CURRENTLY DOING 12% IN MY ROTH

Baby Step #5 - Future funding for kids
SAVING $100 PER CHILD PER MONTH

Baby Step #6 - Pay off home early

Baby Step #7 - Build wealth & give


So as you can see, we're all over the board! Each part is equally important and we felt that they all deserve attention! Once June & July get here, we feel our baby steps will start picking up. It's been fun to see our money working for us though instead of us working for our money. If you get a chance, read the book "Total Monday Makeover" by Dave Ramsey. I like this one better than "Financial Peace University" but it's your call. Both have really good info about debt, saving, and not being in bondage by money problems. Check it out!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Change

So a few weeks back I had said that I was going to get the book "The Makers Diet" and give it a try. I'm still on Chapter 7 but I'm determined to finish it up. Here's a few highlights that peaked my curiosity or made me what to ask more questions:

-We can make our bodies strong and more disease-resistant if we take the necessary steps to do so.

-The Israelites followed a diet established by God and were consistently healthier than all of their neighbors.

- We do everything we can to keep "Junior" from getting dirty. The sad truth is , our environment is too clean. Immune cells that do not have adequate exposure to soil microbes tend to overreact when they do come in contact with them.

- We over sterilize everything with disinfectant dish washing, hand soaps, and shower gels which destroys beneficial microbes.

- According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 95 percent of the children in the US will receive treatment with antibiotics for a middle ear infection by age 5.

- A healthy gastrointestinal system has a balance of approximately 85% "good" bacteria to 15% "bad" micro-organisms. Unfortunately, most of us show the reverse ratio.

- From biblical times to just before the Industrial Revolution, people used to go to sleep and rise with the setting and rising of the sun. We should do the same.

- Authorities tell us that one hour of sleep before midnight is equivalent to 4 hours afterward.

- Physicians have little to no training in nutrition.

There are a ton more little facts that I ran into and found interesting but I'd rather not share just because I'm sure there will be those who have their own opinions. I'd rather not have a knock down drag out fight on my blog or facebook page! If you're remotely interested in finding out more, check out the book "The Maker's Diet" by Jordan Rubin. Happy reading!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Relapse

To say that Nate had a relapse is putting it lightly. To say he totally fell off the "natural" bandwagon is getting a little closer. I sent Nate to the store tonight to get things for subs. Before I left today for work, I forgot to get things ready for our crockpot dinner. I just figured that subs would be easy for tonight. I gave Nate the list of items that we needed for subs along with some other things we needed like toilet paper and laundry detergent. What he came back with was very different. He came back with the things that were on my list but what he added to my list were very different than what I had in mind when he said he might pick up a few extra things. As I unpacked the grocery's, I stumbled first upon the Whoppers, then I located the Krispie Kreme donuts, and then the Lofthouse cookies. Next came the Twizzlers, the Miracle Whip, the Doritoes, and then the Pringles. Last but not least was the Entenmanns danish and the Kellogg's mini size cereals. Instead of being speechless, I instead came out with "What were you thinking?" I guess this is what happens when you need a diversion from natural. Lord help us this week...we're gonna need it!

Recipe's

Last night I said that I would share my recipes from the 12 crockpot dinners that I'm doing this month so here they are...ENJOY! Actually there are 13, after counting!!

(1) CROCK POT SNOWY DAY BEEF STEW
1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
2 medium-size carrots, cut into 1/4" thick slanting slices
1 pound small thin-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and cut lengthwise into
quarters
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2 to 2-1/4 pounds lean boneless beef round, trimmed of fat and cut into
10 cubes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dry thyme
1 can (about 14-1/2 oz.) stewed tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine or beef broth
1 package (about 10 oz.) frozen peas, thawed
salt


Directions:
In a 3-1/2-quart or larger electric slow cooker, combine onion, carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms. Coat beef cubes with flour, then add to cooker and sprinkle with thyme. Add tomatoes and wine. Cover and cook at low setting until beef is very tender when pierced (8 to 10 hours). Skim and discard fat from stew, if necessary. Stir in peas. Increase cooker heat setting to high; cover and cook until peas are heated through (10 to 15 more minutes). Season to taste with salt. Makes 6 to 8 servings.


(2) CHEESY CROCKPOT CHICKEN
6 chicken breasts (boneless & skinless)
salt & pepper to taste
garlic powder, to taste
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup

Directions:
Rinse chicken and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix undiluted soup and pour over chicken in the crock pot. Cook on low 6 to 8 hours. Serve over rice or noodles


(3) EASY MEAT LOAF
2 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup breadcrumbs or crushed crackers
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 small onion (diced)
1/4 cup water

Directions:
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Form into a meatloaf shape that will fit into your crock pot. Cut a strip of foil and place under the meatloaf in crock pot. Cut it long enough to cover the bottom and sides of meatloaf. Place meat loaf in crock pot and top with an additional 2 tablespoons ketchup. Cover and cook on low for approximately 8 hours.


(4) CHICKEN & DUMPLINGS
1 (3 lb.) chicken, cut up
1/2 cup chicken bouillon broth
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
3 stalks celery, cut in 1 inch pieces
3 small carrots cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups packaged biscuit mix
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp. parsley flakes

Directions:
Wash chicken pieces; cut away excess fat. Place raw chicken pieces in a crock with largest bony pieces on the bottom. Add bouillon broth; sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning. Add celery and carrots on top. Cover. Place crock into outer shell; cook. Cook on Low setting, 8 to 10 hours or High setting 4 to 4-1/2 hours. Combine biscuit mix, milk, parsley flakes; stir until just moistened. Drop dumpling mixture by spoonfuls (about 8) over steaming chicken; cover, cook on High setting 30 minutes in 3-1/2 quart; 15 to 20 minutes in 5-1/2 quart. Serve immediately.


(5) CHICKEN CACCIATORE
2 medium onions, cut thin
2-1/2 to 3 pounds chicken pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced, or garlic powder
1 can tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons crushed oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed basil
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup dry white wine

Directions:
Put onion in bottom of crockpot and add chicken pieces. Add remaining ingredients. Cook 6 to 8 hours on LOW heat. Serve over hot buttered spaghetti.


(6) BEEF TIPS
1/4 c. margarine
2 lbs. sirloin of beef cut into cubes
3/4 c. white wine
1/2 c. water
1 clove garlic, minced
2 (10 oz) cans golden mushroom soup
2 tbsp finely chopped onion
Cooked noodles


Directions:
Heat margarine in skillet. Add beef and brown on all sides. Place into slow cooker, add wine, water, garlic, soup and onion. Cook for 6 hours on low. Serve over noodles. Serves 8


(7) TACO SOUP - NOT MY FAV BUT IT WILL DO
1 lb lean ground beef
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can (15 ounces) whole kernel corn, undrained
1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, drained
1 envelope taco seasoning


Directions:
Brown beef in skillet. Put all other ingredients into crockpot and add drained beef; cook on low for 6 hours.
Serve in bowls garnish with crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheese, sour cream and black olives.


(8) CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 pounds chicken pieces
4 cups water
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste, depending on saltiness of broth
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 leek or small onion chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram or basil
1 bay leaf
6 ounces noodles

Directions:
Place all ingredients except noodles in the Crock Pot. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours. Remove chicken and bay leaf from pot; take meat from bones, dice, and return to broth, and add the noodles. Cook another hour or until noodles are done (about 1/2 hour on high). Or, cook the noodles separately and add them just before serving.


(9) POTATO SOUP
3 potatoes, peeled & cut into bite size pieces
1 lg. onion 1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
parsley
5 c. water
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 tbsp. salt Pepper to taste

Directions:
Cook on low 10 to 12 hours or on high 3 to 4 hours. During the last hour of cooking, add 1 1/2 cups milk. TIP: If you own a blender, it works well to chop all vegetables in it.


(10) CROCK POT ROAST
3-4 lb. boneless round roast
Dried chopped onion
Morton seasoning blend Garlic salt
Salt
Paprika


Directions:
Sprinkle dry chopped onion in bottom of crock pot. Sprinkle rest of ingredients on roast. Place roast in crock pot. Add no liquid. Cover and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours. (Will be brown and very tender.)

(11) B.B.Q. CHICKEN
1 lb. chicken parts
1 bottle B.B.Q. sauce (your favorite sauce)


Directions:
Rinse chicken. Place chicken in crock pot. Pour B.Q. sauce over chicken. Set crockpot on low for 8 hours. Serve with your favorite side dish.


(12) CROCK POT LEMON CHICKEN
4-6 pieces of chicken (breasts and legs)
1 (6 oz.) can frozen lemonade, thawed
2 tbsp. brown sugar
3 tbsp. ketchup
1 tbsp. vinegar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. cold water


Directions:
Arrange chicken pieces in crock pot. Combine lemonade, brown sugar and ketchup and mix well. Pour over chicken. Cover. Cook on high 3-4 hours or low 6-8 hours.
Remove chicken from pot, cover to keep hot. Transfer liquid to saucepan. Skim fat; combine cornstarch and cold water and add slowly to liquid, while stirring over low heat. When thickened, serve with chicken over hot rice. Serves 4-6.


(13) CROCK POT SPAGHETTI
2 (15 oz.) cans tomato sauce
3 tbsp. dry minced onion
3 tbsp. Italian seasoning
Pinch of garlic powder
1/2 c. pre-cooked ground beef
2 to 3 oz. dry spaghetti


Directions:
In crock pot, mix first 5 ingredients. Cook on low for all day, high for half a day. (NOTE: Raw beef can be used, but sauce will be "fattier".) No more than an hour before serving, boil spaghetti according to package directions, drain and rinse. Mix into spaghetti sauce.
NOTE: The spaghetti will absorb the sauce and swell over time. It will still taste good!. Serves 3 people.

Monday, February 8, 2010

MPM

Monday - Cheesy Chicken
Tuesday - Meatloaf
Wednesday - Spaghetti
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Pizza
Saturday - Roast
Sunday - Valentines Dinner :)

For the past two weeks now I've been doing all of our dinners in the crockpot. I'm totally convinced that this is the way to go. It has been amazing how much time it has saved me getting ready for dinner. Plus we get to eat all this good food for dinner that I never in a million years would have fixed two weeks in a row. I do everything in the crockpot but the veggies and I usually throw in a piece of Great Harvest bread. This week I'll post the 12 recipes that I'm going to use twice this month for a total of 24 dinners. So far it's saved me a ton of money and a ton of time. Cheers!

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