Monday, February 28, 2011

It sure is Monday around here.

I think we all have a case of the "Mondays" today. William is cutting his first teeth, Dorothy is in fine form with fit-throwing, my indoor drying rack broke, and I've just been having an emotional few days. Church was good this weekend, though, and it was my week for singing on the worship team, which is always a good way to bring things back into focus. In fact, in the sermon yesterday, I was really struck when he spoke about the serenity prayer at one point. We can't waste our energy trying to change things we cannot, and we need the wisdom to see what those things are. All we can do is what we know to be right... what others choose to do is beyond our control. I do my best to be a loving, open, and supportive person, but how others respond to that is not my responsibility. I've also been really convicted lately about how I speak to my husband and children when I get stressed out. It's too easy to fall into being irritable, but it only serves to make things more stressful. This is something I really need to work on. I find that when I try to use a calm, soft voice with my children, they calm in return. Imagine that!

Speaking of children, David was watching all 3 of them while I was singing yesterday morning, and at one point he couldn't find the girls. Where were they?
Silly girls in their laundry hamper :)

I guess that was worth some hugs and giggles.

When we got home from church yesterday, we ate lunch and relaxed a bit before David cleaned the kitchen. I love him so much! And it was a great motivation to make him some chocolate chip cookies. Of course, we all enjoyed them.

Sunday's Sustenance
B: Cereal & leftover oven pancakes.
L: Spaghetti & green beans.
D: Hummus platters
Monday's Munchies
B: Multigrain Cheerios & apple juice.
L: Spaghetti
D: Stir fry (or perhaps something else, since I'm planning on going to Gleaner's this afternoon).

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Play Dough Success!

Instead of tackling the laundry right away when Charlotte laid down for her nap yesterday, Dorothy and I decided to make some play dough together. Their play dough from more than a year ago was finally too stiff to play with, so I wanted to take a crack at making my own. I remember my mom making it when I was little, and I always thought it was great fun.

I got this particular recipe from The Complete Tightwad Gazette.

Play Dough

3 C flour
1 1/2 C salt
6 tsp cream of tartar
3 C cool water
3 Tbsp oil
food coloring

Mix dry ingredients in a big cooking pot. Blend liquids in a bowl. Combine with dry ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat when dough pulls away from the sides of the pot and can be pinched without sticking (usually about 5 minutes). Turn onto board or counter & knead until smooth and play dough consistency. Store in an airtight container.

Dorothy got a chair and stood by the stove playing with the old play dough as I stirred the new batch. Man, that took some elbow grease to stir at the end of the 5 minute cooking time! I was not expecting such a workout!! In all, it only took about 20 minutes to cook the dough and knead in all the different colors. I separated it out into 5 sections and dropped the food coloring onto the top of each flattened dough-ball before kneading it in. I was able to fill up all 5 containers...

...and then some! Dorothy is still happily playing with the extra dough that wouldn't fit in the containers we have. One batch will easily fill 6-7 regular-sized play dough containers.

She wanted to make sure I showed you her pretty designs, too :)

Here is the small tote we keep it all in.

5 containers and plenty of accessories fit in there. It's simple, and the kids will play happily for long periods of time.

I just have to watch Charlotte, as she likes to eat things...

Saturday's Spreads
B: Oven "Puff Pancake" and smoothies.
L: Leftovers from last night's dinner.
D: Chinese stir fry with chinese-style noodles and stir fry mix from freezer.

Friday, February 25, 2011

First snow day of 2011!

We finally got some snow yesterday. It was only an inch or two, but for us snow-deprived Portlanders, it was nice to see even a little bit. The girls went outside to play twice. They both thought it was Christmas when they looked out the window in the morning.

Charlotte was so excited that she suited up before she even ate her breakfast!

Even William got bundled up and enjoyed his first snow. He seemed a bit confused about those little white things that were falling from the sky.

After a nice afternoon of playing in the snow, my evening spanish class was canceled, so the girls and I had time to play with potato heads before their bath. It was fun listening to them giggle when I put silly parts on the potato head, and they were happy to help me create our masterpiece.

On the agenda for today:
*File some of the papers I sorted the other day.
*Make some playdough for the girls.
*Sort through another box of books.
*Fold and put away a huge pile of laundry. It takes a bit more planning with line drying to keep a good rotation going, but so far it's working alright. I moved the drying rack into William's room, which is the warmest room in the house. Things dry within a day, which isn't too bad.
*Make a big ol' pan of lasagna.
*Relax with David tonight, and maybe try to play some games together.

Thursday's Tidbits
B: Granola with honey greek yogurt.
L: Bean & turkey burritos with sour cream & guacamole. Applesauce.
D: Clam chowder with cheese toast. Brownies for dessert.

Friday's Feasts
B: Oatmeal and apple juice
L: Grilled cheese sandwiches, mixed veggies, and mango.
D: Beef & veggie lasagna (I'm going to use spinach and summer squash, plus the rest of the mushrooms) and garlic toast.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My attempt at indoor line-drying...

Today has been a pretty low-key day here at home. Since my homework is done for the week, I've been able to focus more on things around the house. Yesterday I tackled the filing cabinet, and while I still have a box of papers to file and a box of papers to shred, I made HUGE progress in a few hours. A couple more hours and it should be completely done, aside from putting our medical insurance info. in order. What with the pregnancy, I had two surgeries, a 7-week hospital stay, weekly appointments, childbirth, another surgery, and multiple doctor visits for the kids (since they were in day care throughout the fall, we were sick all the time!). That will be a longer project to get organized, but it's at least all in the same folder in the filing cabinet now. Today's project has been figuring out how to effectively line-dry inside.

I actually started with a load of diapers on the drying rack by a heater vent in the living room night before last. After a day and a half, the all-in-ones were still not dry, whereas the flats were dry within a few hours. I have been using flats as inserts in our Flip covers since yesterday, so our all-in-ones will be saved for daddy or outing use. That way they will last longer and diapers will be dry faster, too :).

So, here is what I figured out for the rest of the laundry. I am utilizing the collapsible drying rack I have, plus the shower curtain rod with plastic hangers and wooden clothespins. I'm curious to see how fast things will get dry, especially since the heater vent doesn't really work in the bathroom.

Here's what the setup looks like in our small bathroom (the toilet and the sink are to the left of the laundry, and the washer and dryer are in alcoves on either side of where I am standing):
To save on space, I decided to pin one corner of each napkin, washcloth, and burp cloth, lining them up along a hanger (I also pinned some of the kids' clothes up like this as well).

The bibs I just fastened along the bottom of one hanger (yes~William goes through a lot of bibs since he's a big spitter).
I think this setup will work for a while, but I'd like to figure something else out eventually. It's going to have to remain indoors due to the amount of rain we get around here, but still be relatively out of our way.

Wolf-it-down Wednesday

B: Homemade granola and chocolate chip banana muffins.
L: Organic tortilla chips with salsa and "rockamole," as Dorothy calls it. The kids had shepherd's pie and David had the rest of the BBQ chicken pizza.
D: Clam chowder, toast, and veggies.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Last shopping trip for February

Yesterday morning I got to take a nice, hot bath while David watched the kids. I was able to lay in the tub sipping coffee. I had time to shave my legs, use some shea body butter, and clip and paint my nails. It was really relaxing with the lights off and candles lit, too.

Yesterday was also my last money-spending shopping trip for February (still have a couple of WIC checks), and I am happy to say that there is $89 left in our grocery/household envelope!
Here's what we got yesterday:

1 bag caesar salad
1 cheese pizza
1 jar beef baby food
2 lbs grape tomatoes
1/2 lb brussel sprouts
1 bag avocados
4 small summer squash
1 mango
lots of bananas!
1 pan freezer brownies
1 lg bag clam chowder
12 individual plain yogurts (I want to use some to make our own yogurt with WIC milk)
3 individual vanilla yogurts (going to the freezer for frozen yogurt)
2 6-packs unsweetened applesauce
1 box natural hummus mix
1 pkg sourdough english muffins
1 pkg whole wheat sandwich flatbread
16 oz organic cottage cheese
32 oz Tillamook sour cream
5 oz shaved asiago cheese
5 oz shredded romano cheese
1 container artichoke & jalepeno dip
16 oz dairy creamer
1 ziplock of cooked, shredded pork (going to the freezer for later use)
1 bag frozen cooked wheat berries
10 whole grain tortillas
1 can organic soy beans
4 oz contact solution
1 bag shredded coconut
1 box Triscuit thins
1 box chinese style noodles
1 jar Better Than Bouillon veg. base
5 cans soda
3 individual bags Pirate's Booty snack
1 bag all natural ginger snaps
reusable lunch bag for hubby
some clothes for William and Charlotte

3 gal. 1% milk
1 bag frozen cherries
1 bag frozen peaches
1 lb cheddar cheese

Safeway Purchase
cilantro $0.69
brown sugar $1.79
1 canister oats $3.32
1 bag yellow cornmeal $5.12
1 bag raisins $4.49
Total $15.41

I forgot to factor in David's store trip for Valentine's Day when I was adding up totals the other day. That trip was $21.74 in addition to the $121.55 total I originally posted. So, all things combined, we spent an out of pocket total of $158.70 on groceries and household items in February. I also cashed in $2 worth of soda cans to add to the piggy bank. I am planning on starting a separate money market account that I'll deposit the can money and change from cash purchases into. That will sure beat the piggy bank since it will accumulate interest :). Even though it's only a few dollars, it should add up to more that I'm expecting over time. Every bit counts!

When I was on my way to Gleaner's, I decided to stop by Target for some meduim sized glass jars. They were out of the large canisters (I'll be needing at least 5 of those), but I got 4 medium ones with my gift card $ and I still have just over $16 left in gift card $, with which I hope to get some larger containers for my grains and flours. It may not cover all of the cost, but my mom gave me $10 extra for the phone bill this month (she's on our plan) and I'm adding that to my misc. fund that I'll purchase some household items with. I also found another advantage to using cash envelopes... you can save on gas! Several gas stations have a lower price for gas when you purchase with cash. I got gas at the cheapest station I passed for $3.25/gal instead of $3.33. Even the Space Age station I passed before that (they're usually one of the lowest price-wise) was $3.35/gal. You can bet I was happy to be using cash when I bought that gas. I tend to buy in $20 increments and try to drive as little as possible. Any gas money that rolls over into the next month(s) will be used for vacation gas or as additional car maintenance $. So far, this has been working well. One thing we need to change is our electricity use. Our bill was $11 more than I budgeted for this time. I plan on trying to use more natural light during the day and line dry more clothing/diapers whenever possible.

Monday's Munchies
B: Leftover egg scramble and some cornmeal pancakes with molasses.

The girls ate them right down!

L: Shepherd's pie from the freezer.
D: Caesar salad and cheese pizza with the last of the BBQ chicken and some mushrooms, tomatoes, and english cheddar.

Tuesday's Tasties
B: Leftover cornmeal pancakes and bananas.
L: Caesar salad and cheese-toast.
D: Homemade salsa and guacamole to go with black bean and turkey (from freezer) soft tacos on whole grain tortillas. I'll be using grape tomatoes for everything :).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Winco Trip and the Weekend

I've been studying and doing homework all day today since we got home from church. David took the kids so I could have a quiet house. I was able to get all of my homework for the week done today so we can spend the day relaxing and having fun tomorrow (he's off for President's Day!). I need a day to relax, too, so tomorrow should be really nice. I may even get to go to Gleaner's early in the day so dinner won't end up being a rush tomorrow night. Who knows, maybe I'll even take a bath and paint my toenails.

So, on Friday afternoon, I took a quick trip to our local Winco. Their prices are really good and they have a huge bulk section, too. Although I didn't get anything out of their bulk section other than some chocolate chips this time, I now have a much better idea of what I'll be stocking up on when I go there... flours, grains, spices, raisins, nuts, and dried cranberries being some of them.

Here was my tally for Friday's trip:
1 bunch celery $2.07
5 lbs red potatoes $1.98
1 pks sliced mushrooms $1.48
3 lbs onions $1.48
2 lbs carrots $0.88
1.12 lbs chocolate chips $2.32
1 box Tillamook butter $2.28
18 ct. eggs $2.13
1 tub Honey Greek Yogurt $2.50
1 pkg C batteries $3.68
1 pkg. AA batteries $3.68
12 1-pint canning jars for storing baking goods $8.72
Total $33.20

Adding this up with the totals from earlier in the month, our total out of pocket so far for February is $121.55. There is $106 remaining in my envelope (some of that was leftover from last month's budget), but we're coming closer to the end of the month, so we're doing good! I still need some larger canning jars and glass cannisters for the rest of my baking goods and dried beans/peas, but I'm not sure if I'll get those this month or not.

Saturday's Spreads
Snack: I made some ranger cookies just because.

L: BBQ chicken salad pitas (BBQ chicken, onion, celery, and mayo) and butternut squash soup.

D: Not fancy! We had some triscuits with soft blue cheese, leftover whole wheat cornbread, and Top Ramen (I know! So not healthy!). The girls jumped up and down when we told them they could eat pb&j sandwiches (on whole grain bread).

Sunday's Sustenance
Homemade granola (Oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, coconut, raisins, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Sweetened with honey and brown sugar) with honey greek yogurt.

L: Egg scramble with onions, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, and mushrooms. Topped with some hot sauce and sour cream. Yummo!

D: It's fend for yourself night again, much like last night :). David and the kids are eating at the in-laws' house and I'm making myself a BBQ chicken salad... a spinach salad with tomatoes, mushrooms, and sunflower seeds.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A New Direction

I'm looking forward to the weekend and getting a bit of a break. You know, I've been thinking and praying a lot about what the right direction is regarding school--for both myself and my children. I've felt stretched really thin between classes and housework and family. To be honest, I was completely burned out before this term started. The past year has been really tough. I was right in the middle of my anatomy and physiology sequence when I found out I was pregnant with William. Last winter term is when things got really crazy. I was pregnant, morning sick, and going to classes full time. David was working out of town for weeks at a time and as a result of not being able to take it easy, I had to get my cerclage re-done. That made two surgeries in one term of full-time classes! Two weeks into spring term, the girls were in the middle of a bout of pneumonia when David had to leave for yet another week out of town. I was in the hospital with a second failed cerclage by the end of that week, where I remained for 7 1/2 weeks. While I was in the hospital, David and the kids moved into my parents' home, but most of the unpacking waited for me due to the fact that David was still working full time, visiting me at the hospital, and caring for the kids. Thank God for my parents. We would not have made it without them. After that, I came home on bedrest for a few more weeks and then unpacked the house, finishing right before William came. When he was born, I got my tubes tied since it was advised that I not try for another baby; it would be too difficult to make it full term again. Right around the time I was starting to feel physically better from that, I started classes again. It was just too soon with him being only 6 weeks old and just recovered from childbirth and surgery. I'm thankful that I made it through that term, but it was too much on my family and my sanity. Something had to give.

At the end of Winter term, we moved into our new rental home and now we're settled into our own place again. It definitely feels like home now. To cut down on the stress level and help out our finances, this term I have cut way back on my course load, taking only a Spanish class (that is mostly online) and two one-credit weekend classes. But it still feels like it's too much to keep up with. Weekends should be spent with my family, not trying to get homework done and studying for the next test. I want to keep serving on the worship team at church as well, but I am only one person doing too many things. I need to take care of myself if I am going to be a good mommy... and our marriage needs to be a priority as well. We've decided to be coached by a couple at church using the Marriage Team materials. We'll meet once a week for 8-10 weeks and the church is helping out by paying half of the $160 course fee. I think it will be a really good tool to get us back on track after all the stress. We're also feeling like it's a good idea for me to stay home with the kids from now on. It's not worth being away from my family and going into debt with daycare costs. I'll try to make some money from home as I can get freelance writing experience. But for the most part, I will hopefully use my doula training to get that business built up when William is a bit older and we're able to find a reliable on-call babysitter. Staying home should be a good move that will help me get a much needed break. I say "break" loosely, simply because we all know that staying home with 3 small children is no easy task! In addition, I am considering homeschooling the kids, so any advice in that area is always welcome.

So, that's where we're at as a family. In a month, I will (most likely) not be taking classes any more as I focus on my God, my home, and my family. This will also give me more time to figure out ways to be more frugal and natural so we can pay off debt and live a more healthy lifestyle. I'll talk more about some of my goals with that as things progress.

Thursday's Tidbits
B: Eggs and toast.
L: Broiled whole wheat bread topped with spinach dip and swiss cheese. Sliced oranges on the side.
D: Whole wheat buttermilk chocolate chip banana pancakes and spinach/fruit smoothies.

Friday's Feasts
B: Yay for leftover pancakes and milk!
L: Chili with cheese, sour cream, and organic blue corn tortilla chips. Applesauce on the side.
D: Butternut squash soup, chicken, spinach salad, and whole wheat honey cornbread muffins.

I've fallen in love with this whole wheat pancake recipe and have played around with it some (making additions, adjusting amounts) to make it even more tasty. I'm currently trying to figure out how to tweak it to add cornmeal since I love me some cornmeal pancakes with molasses. Anyway, we made these for dinner last night and the kids were still asking for them this morning. Dorothy actually giggled when she saw the chocolate chips in them. I don't have to tell her that they're healthy other than the sprinkle of chocolate chips ;). This makes a lot of pancakes, so you will have leftovers unless you have a large family.

Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes

3 c. whole wheat flour
3 tbsp honey
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3 c. buttermilk or plain yogurt (I make my own buttermilk with 1 tbsp lemon juice per 1 c. milk and letting it sit for 10 min)
2 tbsp oil or melted butter
3 lg eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1 lg banana, chopped

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix buttermilk, eggs, and oil. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients with a wire whisk until smooth. Add vanilla, chocolate chips, and banana and mix until combined. Spoon 1/4-1/3 c. batter onto greased or nonstick griddle (about 365 degrees). Pancakes are ready to turn when bubbles form on the top and edges appear cooked. Serve with butter and maple syrup. (I put honey on mine and it was really good that way, too).
This has been linked to The Grocery Cart Challenge

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's Laundry Time

I generally get around to folding laundry about once a week here. I have good intentions of folding each load as it comes out, but that doesn't often happen with life being so busy. So, when it fills the laundry baskets and then some, I know we need to get down to business. When Charlotte laid down for nap today, Dorothy was excited to help me with folding. I brought it all out to the middle of the living room, took the pillows and blankets off the couch, and started in. Well, right after we jumped on the laundry a few times....
William supervised quite well.
It took all of Charlotte's nap time between sorting, folding, and stopping to change and feed William, but we did it! Here is the big pile all folded and ready to be put away:

"Good job, mama! Now can I have some more milk? Can you see me wasting away? I need to maintain my figure."

Wolf it Down Wednesday

B: Cinnamon raisin english muffins with peanut butter and raspberry jam.
L: David took the leftover flatbread pizza, the girls had grilled cheese on whole wheat and fruit salad, and I had french bread with spinach dip and swiss cheese.
D: Leftover beef fajitas. Yum!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

This week's Gleaner's trip and some tasty fajitas

I made it to Gleaner's yesterday and went to Safeway for WIC items on the way home. Here is what we're working with for this week:

1 loaf whole wheat bread
1 loaf sweet dark whole grain bread
6 diet sodas
4 natural sierra mist
2 lemonades
1 jar chicken baby food
1 deodorant
4 rolls TP
3 rolls paper towels
6 glazed doughnuts
1 pkg cinnamon raisin english muffins
1 red bell pepper
1 lb strawberries
1 lg purple onions
1 can water chestnuts
1 box melba toast
2 6-packs unsweetened applesauce
1 box fruit snacks (treats for potty training)
4 small bags fritos
1 bottle almond coffee syrup
1 box breaded chicken pieces
1 box blueberry waffles
3 chicken breasts
1 box bread sticks
1 mango
1 handful mushrooms
1 sandwich ziplock of beef
10 oz whole milk cheese
7 oz english cheddar
1 lg bag butternut squash soup
1 lg bag tapioca pudding
16 oz spinach dip
1 pkg whole wheat flatbread

2 gal 1% milk
1 lb cheddar
1 doz eggs
1 jar pb
16 oz corn tortillas
3 boxes instant regular oatmeal
1 frozen apple juice
1 frozen grape juice
1 can pink salmon
3 cans tuna fish
1 lb cooking/salad spinach
3 lg naval oranges
3 avocados
2.5 lbs bananas

Tuesday's Tasties
B: Blueberry waffles, eggs, and apple juice.
L: Flatbread pizza topped with tomato paste, herbed mozzarella, swiss cheese, spinach, and tomatoes.
D: Fajitas (with the bag of cooked beef, the corn tortillas, and some sour cream left from last week's trip), fruit salad, and tapioca pudding.
For some tasty fajitas, chop and cook your choice of beef or chicken (about 1/2 lb should be enough). Slice and saute 1 red onion, 2 bell peppers (any color), and a handful of mushrooms (I did 6 good sized ones) in some olive oil. I also decided to throw in the remainder of my fresh green beans and it did not disappoint. Add the meat to the veggies once tender and season to taste with taco seasoning. Spoon into warmed corn or flour tortillas and top with sour cream.

The fruit salad turned out good, too. I sliced up a bunch of strawberries, a mango, and a banana. For the dressing, I tossed the fruit with just under a tablespoon of mayo and about a teaspoon or so of honey. I didn't really measure it, but it tasted awesome. My grandmother used to make a fruit/jello salad on holidays that we all loved and the dressing was made with mayo, milk, and honey. I figured it was worth a try with any fruit salad and it worked great!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

The girls and I worked on a Valentine's Day card for Grandma this morning. Dorothy was drawing her initials on some hearts for her and Grandma. She was really excited to pick out the pretty striped paper, and loved signing her name on the card.

Charlotte was even learning how to use her scissors!

Even William helped by holding somewhat still while I traced his hand on the back.

See, Mama, aren't I helpful?

I sure do love my babies <3

As for plans later today, if we have the time, I want to make some heart-shaped sugar cookies with the kids. I also need to go to Gleaner's and Safeway after David gets home from work. After the kids go to bed tonight, I have a few loads of laundry to fold and some spanish homework to get done online.
Monday's Munchies
B: Cold cereal and juice.
L: David and I had leftovers from last night and the girls had mozzarella bread sticks, peas, and applesauce.
D: Leftover Chicken soup and french bread.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

An Early Valentine's Day Dinner

We've had a good weekend. Friday evening and Saturday during the day I took a one credit stress management class and I loved it. It really forced me to relax and look at how I have so not been taking care of myself correctly. It's not that I haven't been wanting to relax for quite some time, but when it's homework, it's easier to make things happen. Sometimes life just gets in the way, but I really need to take care of myself better so that I have more to give the people around me (especially my family). So, for my "self-care" assignment on Saturday morning, I went to Target (which was practically empty at 9 am) and got a coffee at Starbucks with a gift card from my birthday. I also had some Target gift cards, so I shopped around and picked up some scrapbook paper to put on the walls of the girls' dollhouse, as well as some stickers for them for Valentine's day and some cups for the bathroom. When I was done shopping I went to school. I found a lonely armchair in a corner looking out a window and read my book while I drank coffee and ate my blueberry scone. Class was good, too. We even did a progressive relaxation exercise and some deep breathing (shhh, don't tell, but I may have even started falling asleep).

We ended up going to the later church service this morning since I was exhausted and David let me sleep in a little bit (yeah for some more "self-care"). I needed that, and it felt amazing what with William being sir fuss-n-nurse-lot at night (not to mention the 4-yr-old that still wakes up repeatedly). In fact, it was so amazing that I felt enough energy to whip up the Valentine's Day dinner I was planning for this afternoon. We got a babysitter for the girls and William hung out in the kitchen with me and watched me cook. He was impressed. David went to the store for a quick trip and a couple of things for the meal while I started on dinner. He spent just under $22 for:
1 lg. container coffee
1 small jug white vinegar
1 lb swiss cheese
1 loaf french bread
1 bottle merlot
a smoochy Valentine's Day card for me (aww!)
Of course, not everything was for dinner, so it was definitely not too bad of a total for a date night, and we have enough left over for both of us to have lunch tomorrow, plus almost a whole loaf of french bread and more than half a block of swiss cheese!

So, with the stuff we had on hand plus what he picked up, I created a romantic date at home:
Our favorite part of the meal had to be the french onion soup (topped with french bread and swiss cheese) that was finished off under the broiler. The cheese was toasted brown on the top and the onions just melted in our mouths....
For the main meal, I prepared fried chicken, sauteed veggies, and home fries...
Then came dessert: whole wheat chocolate chip pan cookies drizzled with chocolate syrup, which required a nice, cold glass of milk...
After dinner, we watched a romantic comedy while we cuddled on the couch. It was perfect.

Oh, and our menu for the rest of the weekend was tasty, too:

Saturday's Spreads
B: Eggs, toast, and apple juice.
L: Leftover wheat bread and chicken soup.
D: Baked potato soup, wheat toast, and sauteed spinach.

Sunday's Sustenance
B: Peanut butter oatmeal and milk.
L: Leftover potato soup and wheat toast.
D: See above!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Easy chicken broth, chicken soup, and fried plantains.

Yesterday I threw that package of chicken thighs in my stock pot and let them boil/simmer for an hour or two. Prior to boiling, I filled it to the top with water and added 1/2 an onion, salt, pepper, garlic powder, two stalks of celery, and 1/2 a large carrot, leaving them whole. When it was done simmering, I lifted out the handy straining pot with the chicken in it and let it drain before putting the thighs in a container for the fridge. I also put the broth through a colander and put it in containers in the fridge (to let the fat rise to the top). I used 3 thighs for last night's stir fry, but the rest of them I de-boned today and portioned out into meal-sized packages. I ended up with enough for 5 more meals. After packaging the chicken, I got out the broth, skimmed the fat off the top, and put it in some containers for the freezer, leaving out enough for a good batch of soup tonight (for which I will also be using one package of the chicken). For less than $6, you can't beat 6 meals of meat and a good supply of tasty chicken broth.

Friday's Feasts
B: Peanut butter and honey on wheat toast, fried eggs, and apple juice.
L: Chicken and brown rice stir fry leftovers.
D: Chicken, veggie, and brown rice soup with homemade wheat bread.... chicken soup recipe to follow, but baby is needing attention and I've got to put the bread in the breadmaker :).
The chicken soup turned out lovely.

Here's the recipe:

Becci's Kickin' Chicken Soup
1 med onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 med carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 lg potato, peeled and cubed
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1-2 C. cooked, chopped chicken
1/2 C. brown rice
1.5 quarts (6 C) chicken broth
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
sprinkle of ginger
sprinkle of chili powder
A lotta love

Sautee veggies in pan with olive oil until onions are tender. Add remaining ingredients and bring to boil, then turn to low and simmer for a good hour or so until carrots and brown rice are cooked through. Serve with buttered rolls or bread. The chili powder and ginger are to taste.

*I forgot to mention that there were some plantains at Gleaner's. The skins were dark, and the instructions on the sticker said to cook them green (which I have done in the past). I found that I liked them even better dark since they had a sweeter flavor. They cooked up just as well.

Fried Plantains
Heat oil in a skillet. Slice plantains into pieces about 1/4-1/2 inch thick and fry for 3 minutes per side. Remove plantains and blot with paper towels, then flatten with a plate. Return slices to hot oil and fry until golden brown. Dry on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. I sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar in addition to the salt and I have to say it was the perfect addition. I am totally doing this again! They were soft on the inside and crunchy, sweet, and salty on the outside.

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