Thursday, August 26, 2010
2) Tonight the Fredonia Child Care Center will be selling raffle tickets at the Black and Gold to win a half a beef, processing and everything!! Now I could go on and on about how great it would be to win this prize, it's a locally raised beef that has been donated to the center for the raffle by DWO Ranch, and the processing has been also donated by B-W Meat Processing here in Fredonia, but I think everyone would agree this is a WONDERFUL prize. I would like to take one minute to tell you about the FCCC and why you should support them, even if you have no interest in winning the prize. The FCCC has been in business in Fredonia since the 1970's when a group of mothers felt the need to have a child care center for their children. These women literally fought tooth and nail to make it happen in a time when "good mothers" were to stay home and raise their children, and since that time families who use and love the center have continued to work to make sure the FCCC remains open and available to working families in Fredonia. This spring the FCCC came within an inch of closing, due to rising overhead costs, and lack of enrollment. The center had been reliant on the city of Fredonia for quite awhile to make ends meet, and the city was starting to face their own budget crisis. Since this spring the center has had a complete overhaul from management, staff, and board members, and has needed any money from the city in order to make ends meet. But we still struggle to make ends meet, which means every dollar of revenue goes back out to overhead and operating costs, leaving very little cushion and no money for new equipment or supplies. This is why the success of this raffle is so important, and your help will be greatly appreciated!! Tickets are $5 each or 5/$20 - and if you aren't able to come tonight and would like to purchase, just let me know, we will be selling tickets through Homecoming and the drawing will be the week after Homecoming.
3) Thanks if you managed to read all of #2. So for #3 we will have a prize. Share your favorite beef recipe in the comments below and I purchase $20 worth of raffle tickets in one lucky person's name :) Contest will be open for one week and then I will chose the winner!! Good Luck!!
Thursday, August 19, 2010
I have started working on some meal plans for next week, after studying the G&W sales ad for awhile, I think I have managed a pretty tasty and easy week of meals, many of which I will be prepping beforehand, so that they will take 30 minutes or less to prepare, because I don't get done with work until 5, so I have about a 30 minute window to get dinner on the table those 3 nights a week Devin has practice!
Monday - enchiladas, rice, and corn/bean dip
Tuesday - Philly cheese steak sandwiches and corn on the cob
Wednesday - grilled shrimp, baked potatoes, grilled asparagus - no practice on Wed
Thursday - Black and Gold, so we will be eating Hamburgers at the game to support the B&G :)
Friday - Spagetti and Salad
Pretty boring week of meals, but the nights I will be in a rush to get dinner on the table shouldn't be an issue since I did a lot of meal prepping this weekend.
What on your meal plan this week??
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
I will confess something right now - I am not a huge fan of leftovers, unless it's in the form of soup, because seriously it's just better the next day. But leftover cooked meat always leaves me wondering what in the heck to do with it besides serve leftovers. Then I remembered a chicken dish I had make a several occasions that was really good and would probably work well with pork chops, so Smothered Pork Chops was born. And actually I think you could even do these without using leftover chops, just brown them a bit first, and I also think it would work with other leftover meats.
Here is where I would insert pictures, but we were in such a hurry to eat so we could head to the Back to School Carnival at the First Assembly of God Church, I kinda forgot to take pictures until after we were done, oops.
Smothered Pork Chops
Leftover pork chops
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 16 oz container sour cream, you could use less, I used this much because I needed to use it up
1 package Lipton's dried onion soup mix - although I think next time I would just use 1/2 a package
Combine soup, sour cream, and onion soup mix. Put pork chops in the bottom of crock pot, pour mixture over top, heat on low for 1-2 hours until warm. You could also put in oven to warm, but I didn't want to turn the oven on. You could also use fresh pork chops or chicken breasts, I would brown them first and then cook longer, 6-8 hours on low, or whatever works for your crock pot. This would be one of those perfect meals to assemble the night before and then just put in the crock pot in the morning and come home from work to a nice yummy meal.
Serve over egg noddles, rice, or potatoes. Throw in a veggie and a salad and dinner's done!
**The sodium content on this one is high, so if you are suppose to be watching your sodium intake you probably want to pass on this one, or use low-sodium ingredients, and even then I would imagine it would still be high! It was a little salty for my tastes, but I ate it anyway ;)
After dinner we headed over to the Back to School Carnival, what a wonderful time we had, perfect weather, and great activities! Colten even won a scooter!! Fun fun, thanks to everyone at the First Assembly of God for a fun evening!
Monday, August 16, 2010
After a very busy and fun weekend at the festival, we headed home Sunday afternoon, on the way I was trying to think of something quick and easy I could make for dinner, something that would include a vegetable since the entire weekend we ate either fast food or festival food, with not a vegetable in sight! Really all I wanted to do was come home and order pizza, but then I thought of something easy and required very little active participation on my part - Shrimp Boil!
6-10 small new potatoes, cut in half
1 package kielbasa, cut into chunks
5-6 ears of corn
1-2 pounds shrimp defrosted, I used pre-cooked
Salt and pepper, some people use shrimp boil seasoning, but I usually don't have it on hand, and I also think it makes the potatoes and corn taste funny.
In a large stock pot cut new potatoes in half and fill pot with water. I have a huge pot and fill mine about 1/2 way up, add your salt and pepper and put on the stove to boil. Once the potatoes are about almost cooked, 20-30 minutes or so, add the kielbasa, corn, and shrimp and cook for another 10 minutes, until corn is done, drain and serve.
The best part - in the time it would have taken Pizza Hut to deliver I had a complete meal done with no more work than looking for pizza coupons and instead of $30 for pizza, I spent less than $15 and had a complete meal. **Tip - G&W often has their frozen pre-cooked shrimp and kielbasa on sale, so stock up when it's on sale and stick it in the freezer. ** I believe I saw in the ad that starts Wednesday both corn on the cob and shrimp are on sale at G&W!!
This batch finished off my box of just add water Hungry Jack mix, so now I am on the search for a better pancake mix, while looking at the list of ingredients this morning on our box I noticed that Hungry Jack uses partially hydrogenated soybean oil :( up until recently I thought as long as a product said Trans fat free, then it really was trans fat free, but this is not true, as long as the product has less than .5 grams per serving of trans fat then the product can be labeled as trans fat free, but several servings of seemingly trans fat free foods that really aren't can really add up!! I realize I can't manage to keep my kiddos from eating any trans fat, but I can try to limit their exposure to it as much as possible. Trans fat was once explained to me as plastic we put into our body, it is so far from anything natural that the body has a very difficult time dealing with it, which explain why it lowers your good cholesterol and raises your bad along with a whole bunch of other lovely side effects.
That batter looks a little strange, but just trust me. You might find you need to add just a bit more liquid to your usual pancake batter if you add the ground flax seed, I had to add 3-4 tablespoons more water until it was the right consistency.
Don't they look yummy??
Now with peanut butter, banana, and a bit of maple syrup ~~ swoon. . .
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
The heat has been very hard on our garden, and I was able to rescue some peppers, so I decided to stuff them for dinner with what I had on hand. I didn't know what the family would think of them, and right away Carl noticed something was missing.
'Honey, there is no meat on our table' ~ Carl
'I know, I was wondering if you would notice' ~ Me, looking sheepish
'Well the peppers are good, but it feels wrong to not have meat on the table.' ~ Carl
'Well, um, what should we do?' ~ Me
'If we have some bologna in the fridge we could put it on the table' ~ Carl
'Seriously, you think bologna would go with this meal? ~ Me
'No but I would feel better just having it on the table.' ~ Carl
5-6 bell peppers
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can tomato soup
garlic powder to taste
1 cup shredded cheese
Cook brown rice according the package directions, and add tomatoes, black beans, tomato soup, garlic powder, and 1/2 the shredded cheese. Cut the tops off your peppers and clean the insides out, use the tops by dicing them and adding to the rice mixture, cook the rice mixture on the stovetop on low, heating everything through. Bring a large pot of water to boil and boil the peppers for 4-5 minutes, take out and drain then and stuff with the rice mixture, I ended up with extra rice, but that's OK since my kids would eat the rice but not out of a pepper. Place the peppers inside a muffin pan, cover with cheese at bake 15-20 minutes at 350.
I would so LOVE to tell you this came from our garden, but our wonder dog Willie is determined to eat all our watermelons, lucky for him he has redeeming traits, otherwise I would be kicking him to the curb. Thankfully the watermelons at G&W have been delish.
What do you cook when it's hot outside?
English Muffin Breakfast Pizzas
These are so simple and a kid favorite, I make up a large batch and freeze them, the best part is you can make them to suit your children's tastes.
All you need is:
2 packages English Muffins, preferably whole wheat ones, although those are harder to find at G&W, sometimes they have them, but usually not
Scrambled eggs, usually around a dozen
Cooked sausage or bacon, or you can go meatless
Cheese - I prefer the Hiland shred your own, but any kind will work
Toast your English Muffins, this keeps them from getting soggy. Top with scrambled eggs, meat of your choice, and cheese. Quick freeze, which means put them on a cookie sheet in a single layer and put them in the freezer for a couple hours, after frozen then put into zip lock bags. When you are ready to cook, pop them in microwave for 30-60 seconds, top with salsa, or not and enjoy!! My kids LOVE them!
Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal
This is the only way I eat my oatmeal anymore, so wonderful.
I will usually make up several baggies of this at once, giving me the ease of the Quaker individual packages, but much tastier and cheaper! Not to mention that fact that I can pronounce all the ingredients!
In each baggie, for one serving put:
1/2 cup quick cook oatmeal, I really love the Organic Quick Cook oats available at G&W
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon brown sugar, or you can completely omit as the raisins really sweeten without the added sugar
3 Tablespoons raisins, more or less
1/2 ounce of Walnuts, more or less
Peanut Butter and Honey Toast
Pretty self explanatory here, but a kid favorite at my house!
Those are a couple of our favorites, not to mention the vast array of cereals I keep stocked in the pantry, although after learning more and more about the effects of sugar on our bodies, many of those will be getting to boot, in favor of less sugar more protein breakfast items. I am also going to experiment with making some whole wheat waffles in exchange for our Eggo's, and locating some actually maple syrup to top them. Say a prayer for my children, it might be a rough go for them :)
What are your favorite easy weekday breakfasts? Do you eat breakfast everyday? Do you worry about the amount of sugar in kid's cereals, or just figure we survived and so will they?
Monday, August 2, 2010
For quite sometime I have heard of people making their own yogurt, I have long wanted to try making it, but just never gotten around to the actual process. Then one day I happened upon Greek Yogurt, I was out of town, and saw it there in the dairy case of some big nameless store. I had heard about Greek style yogurt but had never came face to face with it. Greek style yogurt is basically yogurt that has been strained of the liquid whey which makes it much thicker, creamier, and a bit tarter than our traditional American version, also some Greek yogurts are made with goat milk instead of cow's milk. Greek yogurt has more protein than the usual variety and tends to contain less sugar per serving, 10 grams less than my usual Hiland brand, although I believe this has more to do with the added in sugar than the actual natural sugar found in yogurt.
After first taste I was in heaven, but I quickly ran out, at $1.25 per 6 ounce serving, I only bought a couple, being unsure if I would in fact like it. I looked around several places for more, but there just isn't a lot of places selling it around here, even on a trip to Wichita I came up yogurtless. So began my online search for an easy Greek yogurt that didn't require the purchase of a yogurt maker, I have enough unused kitchen appliances and would like to avoid adding additional pieces. Finally I came up with my starter recipe using tips for several sources, I say starter because I have a couple variations in mind to try on my next batch, and I have just never learned to leave well enough alone. This recipe was simple, used basic household items and produced a very creamy yummy yogurt.
What you will need:
~1/2 gallon milk, I used 2% because many sources recommended using 2% for a creamier end product
~3 tablespoons plain yogurt at room temperature
First start with 1/2 gallon milk, slowly warm this to 180 degrees stirring periodically, this helps break down the protein in the milk, this is fairly easy if you have a candy thermometer, but if say you forgot you broke yours during Christmas candy making last year a meat thermometer will do in a pitch, although I will be picking up a new candy one today at Steve's or Alco.
Once you have reached 180, then it is time to cool the milk, I did this in a sink of cool water, as recommended by several sources, once the temperature reaches 110 degree it's time remove from sink.
Double check to make sure the temperature is around the 110 mark, at 120 degrees the temperature will kill the yogurt bacteria, add 3 tablespoons of room temperature plain yogurt and stir. Now it is time to let the bacteria do it's thing, which is basically eat and multiple, the temperature needs to remain close to 110 degrees, in order for the cultures to do their thing, this is when if you had one you would put this into your yogurt maker, which I find the term yogurt maker a bit misleading, since in fact all they are would be yogurt incubators, keeping the yogurt mixture warm. So instead of going this route, I took my pot, set it on a heating pad in a nice quiet corner of the kitchen and put a nice thick beach towel over everything. Now for the hardest part of the entire process - leave it alone for 7-8 hours, no peaking, apparently yogurt cultures are very shy and peaking could mess the whole process up.
If everything turned out when you do open it, you should have yogurt, thinner than the store bought because it is warm, but the best smelling yogurt you have ever came across, seriously. Stir well and then put into containers and put in the back of your fridge to cool, the stirring and cooling stops the cultures from doing their thing. Let cool overnight and you have plain yogurt, if you want Greek yogurt after it's cooled strain the yogurt through a coffee filter for a couple hours, this will strain out the liquid whey resulting in a thicker, creamier yogurt. You can also use the liquid whey in bread baking, but since its 110 degrees outside this week, there will be no oven useage to my house, maybe another day.
You can also turn plain store bought yogurt into Greek yogurt just by straining it, so if you didn't want to go through the trouble of making your own but want to thick creamy texture of the Greek yogurt you could simply buy a quart container of plain yogurt and strain it through a coffee filter, but that would just be too easy for someone like me ;)
I do like my yogurt sweet thanks to years of buying the little cups of yogurt, so I made a blueberry compote made of 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, 1/2 cup water, and 1/4 sugar, cook for 10 minutes or so just until the blueberries start to break down and then you can add this to your yogurt for some sweetness along with a little fruit serving, just store in the fridge. I also added a little Kashi Go Lean cereal for crunch, and it was a breakfast worth getting up for!
Have you tried Greek yogurt, did you like it? Ever make your own yogurt?