Crock Pot Wednesday – October 28th, 2009

I pulled my chicken soup out of the freezer today to find out that it was my last bag. I’m going to have to make more soup kits next week, but it’s so worth it. What I like to do is make a “base kit” of broth and other goodies and freeze it. Then when I want to make soup I toss it in the crock pot for a couple of hours, add whatever leftover meat I have and some frozen veggies… or you can clean out the fridge if you have bits of leftover veggies from throughout the week. Tonight I even threw in a cup or 2 of leftover tomato soup. Tasted pretty good!

This is a picture of what we had tonight. Kind of turned into stew! 🙂

Here’s my base recipe…

4 cups broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable)
1 medium onion chopped
2 potatoes, scrubbed and diced (peel if you want)
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 cups of carrots, chopped
1/2 – 1 cup lentils
1/2 cup of barley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon pepper

Put all of this in a gallon sized freezer bag a freeze. Make sure to label them, especially if you make a couple of chicken and a couple of beef. 🙂

When it comes time to make the soup, pull it out of your freezer and dump into your crock pot. (It may stick to the bag a little. If this happens, either run it under hot water for a little bit or fill up a large bowl/container and plop it in there for a bit.)
Once it’s in the crock pot heat on high for 3 hours or on low for 6 hours. Then you’ll want to add your meat and any extra veggies. You may also need to add more broth at this point. Taste to see if you need to add more seasoning, then cover and cook for another hour on high or 2 more hours on low.

While it’s finishing up you can easily whip up a batch of biscuits or grilled cheese sandwiches to go with. Slice up some crusty bread, throw a salad on the table or just put some crackers out for everyone. I have 3 kiddos and they always look forward to this soup. Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by and have a flavorful week!
PS – For more crock pot ideas go visit diningwithdebbie!


Menu Plan Monday – October 26th, 2009

An another week has gone by… too fast. And I’m heading into another week of trying to keep things simple in this household. Wait… did you hear that sound? I think that was the wind blowing through my head. There’s nothing left. Guess we’ll just move right along to the menu…

And recipe {in brackets} is from the freezer

Eggs & Fruit +
Banana Bread
Applesauce bread – I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but really want to.

Lunch: usually includes cut veggies and fruit
Tomato soup with cheese and crackers

Dinner: includes salad or raw veggies
M – Roast Chicken w/ rice
Tu – {Chicken Soup}
W – {Caramel Apple Pork Chops} – got this at our monthly meal exchange
Th – Leftovers?
F – something simple 🙂
Sa – Spag. & MB
Su – Pizza

Remember to stop by for hundreds of other menu ideas.

Thanks for stopping by and have a flavorful day!

Crock Pot Wednesday

I’ve got 8 weeks to go, God willing, until the baby arrives. And I’m realizing how much I need to utilize my crock pot more over the next 2 months. So, I’m going to try and join up with Debbie @ Dining with Debbie for Crock Pot Wednesdays. If you need some more crock pot ideas, head on over to see what everyone else is making. 🙂

The meal I picked this week, I’m also going to make for Meal Makin’ Mamas. Some of you have been asking what MMM is, so here’s an explanation. A friend of mine started this group out with 6 participating. Each participant makes 6 of the same meal for the freezer, keeping within the guidelines of spending $5-$8 on the meal. Then, we all come together once a month and swap meals (preferably healthy meals). The idea is that you make 6 of the same meal, but come home with 6 different meals in your freezer. I can not tell you how much this group has helped me with my meals. There are currently 5 of us in the group (anyone want to join?) and somehow we never end up making the same things. If you’ve got some friends who you know would want to do this, I highly recommend starting your own group. In fact, we were down to 4 last month, so we decided to make 3 each of 2 different meals and swap them. It really doesn’t matter how many you have as long as you can make it work for you. 🙂

Since I’m having the baby in December I’m making 2 meals to give out in November. Then I can still receive the other meals from everyone else in December and they’ll have already gotten their meal from me. I thought it sounded like a good idea. 🙂

Any ways, one of the meals I stumbled across is French Dip Roast Beef for the Crock Pot. Doesn’t that just sound like something you’d want cooking all day in the crock pot? Yum! You could also dump it in your slow cooker early Sunday morning, set it on high, and you have roast beef sandwiches when you get home from church! I have a feeling that we might end up having these once a month. 🙂
Incidentally, I was able to get my roasts for $1.99 a pound at Super Target this week. So if you need a roast… 🙂

That’s all for this week. Thanks for stopping by and have a flavorful week!

Meal Plan Monday – October 19, 2009

OK so it’s not Monday, but I’ve still got my plan starting on Monday, so we’ll just run with it. 😉 Shall we begin?

Remember, there are hundreds of other menu posts over at Head over and take a peek. 🙂

Eggs +

Lunch: (plus baby carrots & fruit)
Fried Spaghetti on Sunday

Dinner: (plus salad or raw veggies or steamed veggies)
M – Black bean Salsa Chicken (from freezer meal exchange) + rice
T – Asian Shredded Beef (crock pot)
W – Beef Barley soup (with leftover beef?)
Th – Leftovers
F – Roast chicken or Pierogi SKillet
Sa – Spaghetti and MB
Su – Pizza

I had fun making a cake last week. It was for the Pastor at school for Pastor Appreciation month. I kept it simple and made some cupcakes to go with…


Pumpkin Cupcakes

Pumpkin Display

Forgot my camera so I had to use my phone. :-L
I have a really fun birthday cake scheduled for Oct. 31st. I’m inspired by these cakes, and am going to make one big cake. I’ll post pictures when I’m done. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you have a flavorful day!

Cleaning those nasty sponges

I had to repost this from the Hill Billy Housewife Blog. Head on over there for lots more great articles.

Even Our Cleaning Sponges Need Cleaning – Tidy Tuesday

Many of us have been trying to live a more frugal lifestyle, taking steps to eliminate wasteful things like using paper towels. Some of our frugal ways have actually brought up some subjects we may not have expected. Like germs.

We were used to wiping up a dirty counter top with a fresh paper towel, then throwing it away, along with the germs. Now, we have to stop and think as we reach for our sponges. I used to throw away bacteria… now what?

Yes, we’ve noticed that using sponges to clean our homes has raised an interesting question. It’s a funny thing that, even though we wouldn’t dream of using cloth rags over and over and over again without washing them, we continue to leave that old sponge sitting there for what seems like an eternity. For some inexplicable reason, a sponge gets thrown back where we keep it after we squeeze it out, but we don’t often give it any more attention than that.

What is the harm? Of course, it’s germs, bacteria, that nasty stuff that can transfer from place to place and eventually make us sick. Consider the fact that if you are using the same kitchen sponge to wipe meat juice off the counter that you are using to wipe off the baby’s high chair, you have a science experiment in the making – and not with a favorable conclusion.

You don’t have to discontinue using sponges, but how do you take care of them so they don’t harbor germs? Well, it’s not much different than you might imagine. Some good old vinegar and water, bleach and water, and soap and water will do the trick.

Here are a couple easy instructions for cleaning those hardworking sponges:

For your kitchen sponges – simply throw them in the dishwasher with your next cycle and they will be sparkling clean and disinfected. You can also fill a stainless steel or glass bowl with hot water, drop in just a tiny splash of bleach, and let the sponge soak in there for about 30 minutes. The same thing can be accomplished using hot soapy water and vinegar, just increase the amount of vinegar to about 1/2 the amount of water. Many people will take their washed sponges, rinse them under fresh water, wring the excess water out, and stick them in the microwave for about 1 to 2 minutes. Be sure to use a tongs to remove the sponge from the microwave. Let cool, and the sponge will smell fresh as new and be germ free, too.

For your bathroom sponges – you don’t want these sponges to go into the dishwasher for several reasons, one of which I’ll mention here; they will be somewhat embedded with hair. To wash and disinfect sponges used to scrub toilets, sinks, tubs, and showers, you want to wash them in your washing machine with other rags used for cleaning floors, windows, and even your car. I recommend washing them once without any detergent as they’ll have plenty of soapy residue that you’ll want to remove first. Just add a couple cups of white vinegar to the washing machine before the sponges and rags start the wash cycle. Let the machine go through the entire wash, rinse and spin cycle once. Then, for especially mistreated sponges, put them through the cycle again with a small amount of laundry detergent. When finished rinsing, let your sponges and rags dry outside. Don’t make the mistake of putting them away wet.

For your spa or body sponges – you don’t want to use any harsh cleaning methods. Avoid any bleach, laundry detergent, or dishwashing liquid or powder. A bucket filled with hot water and a little shampoo works well. Be sure to rinse thoroughly, then hang up where they will dry well. Don’t put them away wet. You can use a tiny amount of white vinegar in your rinse water to ensure that all the soup is rinsed out. However, be sure it’s just a drop or two of vinegar – not nearly as much as you would use for your kitchen sponges.

NEVER mix ammonia with bleach. This means several things – don’t use ammonia to clean sponges that have been used with any bleach product, and vice versa – don’t use bleach to clean sponges that have been used with any products that contain ammonia.

Furthermore, most common sense approaches would indicate that if you use a multitude of cleaning products, and some contain bleach and some contain ammonia, it’s best to wash your sponges, separately, in simple dish soap and water… just be sure your dish soap does not contain bleach or ammonia! This is not a complicated matter in homes that stick to one or two cleaners, but if your home has a closet full of different concoctions, you will need to heed these warnings.

If you keep your sponges clean, following these steps every couple times you use your sponges, you shouldn’t have to worry about spreading germs around from surface to surface. Of course, your sponges won’t last forever, so be sure to watch for signs of deterioration. When your sponges start to break down, it’s time to throw them out. You did the best you could for them, for as long as possible, so don’t feel bad. They served their purpose and you kept your home nice and tidy… and free of germs!

If this project gets you in the mood for more cleaning ideas, be sure to check out our Spring Cleaning Tips For Mom and get your whole house as sweet smelling and germ free as your sponges.

Meal Planning Monday – October 12, 2009

It’s snowing right now. Has been for at least 4 hours if not more. Just thought you would like to know. 🙂

On to the menu for week! Remember there are hundreds of other menus to choose from at Go check ’em out for some great ideas.

Recipe in {brackets} are from the freezer

Eggs +
Overnight Oatmeal

Tortilla Wraps

Dinner: Most dishes served with rice and veggies
M – Roast Chicken
Tu – {Chicken Soup} (using leftover roast chicken)
W – {Pierogi Skillet} (didn’t get to this last week)
Th – {Roast Beef Sandwiches} recipe to follow
F – Leftovers
Sa – {Charleston Chops} recipe to follow
Su – Pizza

Roast Beef Sandwiches
(courtesy of my friend Aimee)

1 Boneless Chuck Roast
1 Envelope Onion Soup Mix
1 Envelope Brown Gravy Mix
1 package sliced Provolone or Swiss Cheese
1 package Hard Rolls or Kaiser Rolls

Put roast in crock pot on low. Add a very small amount of water to the bottom of crock pot – just enough to cover the bottom. Sprinkle Lipton Soup mix over the roast. Cook all day (7-8 hrs). Flip the roast after 3-4 hours. When roast is done it should fall apart easily when you put a fork in it.

Once its done take it out and put it on a cutting board. Shred entire roast, discarding any fat as you go. Put the shredded roast back in the crock pot. Mix the brown gravy mix and 1 cup cold water and pour over the roast mixing well. Simmer 10-15 minutes. Serve on buns with a slice of cheese.

Note: I’m going to experiment with this one and try to make it without the mixes (trying to avoid msg). If I’m happy with the results I’ll post a recipe.

Charleston Chops
6 pork chops
3 TB of agave nectar (or other sugar)
5 TB prepared mustard
1 1/2 TB lemon juice

For Freezer: Place pork chops in gallon sized freezer bag and squeeze out any air, then seal the bag.
In a snack sized bag, add sugar and mustard. Squeeze out air and seal.
In another snack sized bag add lemon juice. Squeeze out air and seal.
Place all 3 bags into another gallon sized freezer bag, label and seal.

Removed bag from freezer and thaw in fridge overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pork chops in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Spread mustard sauce over chops and drizzle on lemon juice. Slowly add water to bottom of baking dish.
Bake for 30-45 minutes or until chops are tender and juices run clear.

Enjoy your week!

Menu Plan Monday ~ October 5th, 2009

What a crazy busy week! I took the day to rest though and think I’m (almost) ready for another week. 🙂 Shall we get right to it?

Remember to check out for literally hundreds of other menu ideas.

Blueberry Muffins
Scrambled Eggs
(and that’s all I’ve got so far)


M – Citrus Chicken (from the freezer that we didn’t get to last week; from monthly meal exchange)
Tu – Crock Pot Cranberry Chicken
W – Pasta E Fagioli (I’m making 3 extras of these to freeze for my monthly meal exchange)
Th – Leftovers
F – Crock Pot Garlic Chicken (I’m making 3 extras of these also to freeze for my monthly meal exchange)
Sa – Homemade pizza
Su – Pierogi Skillet?

Thank you for stopping by… I always appreciate the comments that are left. 🙂 Have a flavorful week!