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Feb 25, 2013

My "Meal Plan" this week

I know I just posted on meal planning in this house. Well, where does that put me this week? I have a ton of options from that master list, but what will I make this week?
I know one meal for certain, and that is tonight's meal. BG is sick and has not been eating, so I want to make something that she may consider eating. Something soft and not too strong taste wise.
Tonight's Menu: Spaetzles and tomato soup.
The rest of the week:

I would give you a collage of pictures from past times we have had these meals, but as you can see, many will be first timers for us. Ii am trying to mix things up and use what we have on hand, so meals are varied quite a bit and Pinterest has been my friend helping me out so much!

I am linking up this week with:

Feb 23, 2013

The Best Chocolate Sauce EVER!

I must say, Hubby loves his chocolate milk in the winter time. And LJ will only drink chocolate or pink milk; though this is partly due to us giving him two pediasure drinks each day. For many many years we have always had to have a fairly large container of Hershey's syrup in our fridge for those moments of chocolate need. 
As many of you may know already, I am a pinterest addict! A few months back I started seeing many ladies pinning recipes for chocolate sauce. Many said they would never go back to Hershey's because theirs was loved so much more in the house. Really?! Better than Hershey's? My curiosity was peeked. I had to try it at least one time. Wouldn't you know, not long after finding those recipes, our chocolate ran out. Time to try some homemade chocolate sauce!

I just used one of the first recipes I found. It only has a few simple ingredients and really simple directions. The recipe came from Jillee at One Good Thing by Jillee

Homemade Chocolate Syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • dash of salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (or less if you like darker tasting chocolate syrup)
Now, In a small saucepan, combine the first three ingredients. Whisk them gently just to mix them well. Now, put away that whisk! Add the water and turn on your heat. Bring the mix to a boil, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to over stir and add too much air. I have made that boo-boo  and while it doesn't change the taste, the air bubbles just don't seem to want to go away even once in the fridge for a few days. Once I even just used the whisk to save on the number of dishes and it worked way too much air in. 
The original recipe says to turn down heat and cook for 1 minute. I change that. I let it bubble (be sure to not let it boil over) on the stove for a few minutes until I can tell that it is thickening up nicely. 
Once it is how you like it, take it off the heat, and add the vanilla. 
Let it cool, then store it in the fridge. This recipe fits perfectly into a pint jar
Just look awesomely thick that sauce can be. I do not add quite as much Vanilla as the recipe calls for because Hubby likes the darker flavor of less Vanilla.  
Really, I don't know that we will ever have to buy the chocolate syrup in the store again.  If I use this to make chocolate milk for the kids, I can't help myself but add a little extra syrup to the spoon before licking it off. ;) 

One more way to save the family some hard earned money and make sure I know what we are putting into our bodies. 

Have you ever made your own chocolate sauce? 
What do you make homemade?

Until next time... Happy Cooking!

This post is linked with: Skip To My Lou

Feb 19, 2013

Meal/Menu Planning for the Unplanned Family

Being a mommy blogger, I have been following my fair share of other mommy bloggers. I see the events, enter the giveaways (only the ones I truly love, now), and I see the endless posts on frugality and menu/meal planning.
I am all for frugality. I need to be very frugal lately as we work to pay off credit card balances that crept up on us after moving and baby #2. I strive to be frugal anyway, as I see it as the way I should live the life He gave me. I love the frugal posts!
I have tried many tips on ways to be frugal with food and meal/menu planning. So often I read about planning out a week/month of food and then go from there. I see these really nicely printed our calendars with meals written in and hear of the grocery lists and prep work. I have tried it a few times, as typed out so nicely, and you know what? It doesn't totally work for us. To a point, planning is great, but as a family, we don't do a whole lot of planning in our lives. We do have some scheduling, but when it comes to meals, we fly more by the seat of our pants and it works, for us.
This year I have tried to hit hard my organization and frugal living ideas. Each room in our house is getting a major makeover, and the kitchen was the third room we hit. I even defrosted our chest freezer and did inventories of the freezers. We are still working on our pantry inventory, but we have like three pantries, so it takes some time. I am just glad that we have been able to re-organize the pantries so I have a better grasp of what I have in there at the moment.
Why do traditional menu plans not work for us? We are trying to keep the number of leftovers in our fridge to a minimum now. In the past we have become overrun with leftovers and many don't get eaten before going bad in their container in the fridge. This meas there are times when we need to eat leftovers after only two new meals. Other weeks, we can go almost all week until we have a "Leftovers" night.
Also, many times we get a call sometime during the day inviting us to dinner at my in-law's house. f course we accept as I love to let the kids see Mommom and Pop, and it is a nice change of pace. This makes planning dinner a challenge at times if you try to be by the calendar all the time. We keep ourselves very flexible. This is how we like to live, though. 
The picture is how I find it works best for our family. Yes, this is a white bard, and it has found a nice home on our freezer door. This is by no means a full list of meals that I can make at a moments notice, but it is a good working list of meals I want to make in the coming weeks.  One thing about these meals is that I already have everything I need to for them in the house. Those with"-P" after, mean they are new meals that I found through pinterest. I am addicted to that site!
As time moves on, I can share recipes for things we love and for those interested in some of the meals you see listed.

What kind of "Meal Planning" works for your family? 
Do you plan at all? 
Any recipes you are interested in? 
Feel free to share in the comments!

Until next time.... Happy Cooking!

Feb 13, 2013

Can baking bread really be This easy?

Pinterest is an awesome tool. The one problem is that I can always find a ton of things I really want to pin and remember for later, but never really end up doing. I am working on correctly that. Today I ventured into bread making. Not only bread making, but baking it in the crock-pot. Yes, you read right, the crock-pot. How did it turn out? Pretty tasty!
I will start by providing the pin I used as my inspiration...

Now, the recipe calls for making whole wheat bread. I do not have wheat flour, I have regular unbleached flour in my house. What did I do? Just used the white flour. It worked. Also, I used an equivalent amount of instant (rapid rise) yeast instead of regular yeast, because again, that is what I have. I made sure to reference a few different websites as to how to convert dry yeast to instant yeast before proceeding.
Otherwise, I followed the recipe using my Kitchen-aide mixer. After "kneading" my bread for a few minutes, I put it in my crock-pot, which I had lined with parchment paper to help with removing the bread. Line the lid with paper towels and let it go. When I thought it might be getting close to done, I would check it every 30 minutes or so until I liked the level of brown creeping up the edges of the loaf. 
Please note, that when baking bread in a crock, the top will not brown. When I thought the load was ready to be pulled out of the crock, I fired up the broiler. Then I a transferred the bread, parchment and all onto a pizza tray and put it under the broiler to brown up on top. This is a tip I found while cruising the many different crock-pot bread recipes. When browned, remove it from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack. 
I was going to let it sit on the rack until Hubby got home. I just couldn't do it. I did let it cool completely, but I had to cut into to see what it was like inside (hoping it wasn't a dense mess). It looked good to me, though I thought it might rise a little more, which I may let it do next time. Then I trimmed off a little slice to taste test. Yup, it's good! I have a feeling it will be eaten up tonight and maybe last to tomorrow. Who knows. 
One thing is for sure. Bread making will be happening in this house. And some of that will be happening in my crock-pot! I am thinking of those hot summer days when heating an oven is right out.

Have you ever tried making your own bread? Have you ever used a crock-pot to do it? Will you try?
Let's hear your thoughts, recipes, and ideas in the comments!

Feb 1, 2013

Has it been two years already?

It is hard to believe that my BG turns two today. As I right this, we are within on hour of her birth time. I can't believe how big she is now. She has to do everything her big brother does. And she does it with total cuteness. She is saying more and more understandable words each day. She becomes more independent with each passing minute. If LJ does it, she will be right behind him or even next to him. Before we know it, she will actually pass him weight wise. Is he in trouble then!
Happy birthday to my Baby Girl. You are no longer a baby. You haven't been for quite some time, but to me, you will always be my baby. We love you so very much and I can't wait to see where the Lord leads you.

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