Quick Update

I’m joining Sarah Mae this summer in her 31 days to clean challenge!  I’ll be posting what I accomplish as she posts challenges along the way.

I’ve also entered the give-aways at Growing Home.  I’d love a free blog make-over!!

I’m also still working through the Proverbs 31 bible study with Good Morning Girls.  My mom is working through it with me :o)

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freezer cooking, recipes

Fill Your Freezer: Potatoes

I LOVE MY NEW KITCHEN SINK!!  I could never have washed and diced 10 lbs of potatoes on my old countertop.  I am so blessed to have a handy dad (and father-in-law) to help out!
Today’s menu includes diced potatoes & twice-baked potatoes:
Most families would probably prefer homemade french fries, but we could eat homemade home fries 7 nights a week!  Sometimes I fry them in infused oil to add some favors, other times I just fry them plain.
Most of my freezer cooking is done to make meal prep easier and faster.  This method, however, probably takes longer than just making the fries normally.  That brings up another great benefit of freezer cooking:  You can cook large amounts of cheap food that would have spoiled otherwise!  I can buy 10 lbs of potatoes at a really good price and I don’t have to worry about where I will keep them (cool, dark place) or how long it will take to use them up!
Freezing potatoes raw can sometimes turn them funny colors.  To stop that from happening, I cut the potatoes (in whatever shape you like, french fries, home fries, curly fries, wedges, etc.) and toss them in boiling water for 10 minutes (or until tender).
Then, rinse them with cold water to stop them from cooking.  Space the potatoes out on baking sheets and pop them in the freezer to flash freeze.  Once frozen, transfer the potatoes to freezer bags in portions that work for your family.
While my husband would love it if I made 10 lbs of diced potatoes, I decided to use the other 5 lbs to make twice-baked potatoes.  I loved these as a kid — butter-flavored only!!  They are the very first thing I learned to make-ahead and freeze.
According to the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book (everyone should own this), you can bake four potatoes by microwaving them for 10-15 minutes.  I nuke four potatoes at-a-time and let them cool down.  Then I scoop the insides into my KitchenAid and I add a ton of butter.  I baked 12 potatoes today and used almost a whole stick of butter (but I could have used more!! Yummmmm…).  I mix it on a low speed for a minute or two, then slowly add milk until it’s mashed-potato-consistency.  Scoop that into your empty shells, cram them on another baking sheet, and flash freeze!  Again, once frozen, transfer to freezer bag or individually wrap.
I have to admit that my family is a little disappointed that there isn’t room in the freezer for ice cream right now!  I’m sure they’ll be thankful in a week or two when the baby is screaming, we’re all exhausted, and we still have yummy home-cooked food to eat for dinner!!
If you’re interested in how I will use my {almost} fully stocked freezer during my postpartum weeks, make sure you subscribe!

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amothersheritage.com Beautiful Thursdays Consider the Lilies http://www.yourthrivingfamily.com/ Laura Williams' Musings  
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Menu: May 29 – June 2

I finally have my gestational diabetes under control – and only 2 weeks left in my pregnancy!!  And this warm summer weather means we’re going to use the grill (when it’s not raining)!!  Here is what our menu looks like for this week:
Ham & Swiss sandwiches on Homemade Bread
Salad topped with sliced chicken and sunflower seeds
General Tso’s Chicken with rice
Spaghetti with meatballs and garlic toast
Grilled hamburgers with corn-on-the-cob
Chicken Teriaki with rice
Dinner at a restaurant

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DIY, remodel

Sneak Peak: Kitchen Update


Still to come:  wall cabinets, backsplash, lighting, and more!!
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What do you think?  
If you could change one thing in your kitchen, what would you change?  
Mine was to have a counter where I could do prep work.  Mission accomplished!!  
My husband was dying to have a faucet with a pull-down nozzle.  Check!!

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error, recipes

Trial & ERROR: The “Sandwich” Setting

This is what my kitchen looks like right now.  But, I still wanted to be productive today so I planned to make more Sandwich Bread.  I got it in the bread machine before my son left for school.. I also used up the rest of the wheat flour I had in the pantry.

Oops.  What happened?  Well… I mixed it up without even looking at the recipe – but I’m almost positive I got the ingredients all correct!  My guess is that I shouldn’t use the sandwich bread recipe AND the sandwich bread setting at the same time.
After the first knead/rise cycle, I restarted the machine like I always do with this recipe.  Except, this time I decided to try the sandwich bread setting.  Don’t do that.  If you use the sandwich setting, just trust the machine to make good sandwich bread.  Don’t try to out smart it by adding a knead/rise cycle.  Lesson learned!!
I froze the bread anyway and will use it to make bread crumbs for our favorite chicken parmigiana recipe.
Pictures of the new kitchen sink & countertop coming soon!!
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freezer cooking

Fill Your Freezer: Bread-Machine Sandwich Bread

The good news is — my sink is still functional and not completely disassembled — so I can wash some dishes today!!

I got a bread-machine for Christmas [from my mom].  I had been making bread “the old fashioned way” but I am way too impatient while it’s rising.  I can throw ingredients in the bread-machine and go on with my day (I don’t even have to be home!) and it kneads and rises all by itself.

At first, I was disappointed because the bread was dense and crumbly.  Then, I found this recipe at allrecipes.com that suggested a fix!!  Sandwich bread needs to be fluffier, which means it needs to rise longer.  This recipe calls for three rise cycles – but my machine only does two rise cycles (even on the “sandwich” setting).  So, after the first rise is over, I shut my machine off and start it over.  Works like a dream.

Here is my recipe~~

Ingredients: (this is the order my machine calls for)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup + 2 tablespoons water (1 & 1/8 cups)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 & 3/4 cups flour – I’ve used white bread flour, regular wheat flour, or a mix
2 & 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast

However, I do it a little differently than what the machine says to do.  I add the sugar, yeast, and water first.  I let it sit until it gets foamy.

Then I add the other “wet” ingredients, then the other “dry” ingredients.  I set the machine for “Basic” on the “light” setting.  That setting takes 3 hours – and the second rise cycle starts 30 minutes into it.  My machine beeps when it starts the next cycle, I get a reminder if I forget about restarting the machine.

We don’t eat bread too often, but often enough that we need to have some in the house.  I cut these loaves in half crosswise and freeze one-half.  I’m making 2 or 3 loaves (depending on how much flour I have on hand) to freeze for the next month.

And when my feet get tired, I set up a burrito filling station on a tray table in the living room… 🙂

If you’re interested in how I will use my {almost} fully stocked freezer during my postpartum weeks, make sure you subscribe!

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devotions, Proverbs 31

Proverbs 31 Book Club

Last fall, I joined a new bible study group at my church.  We are a very diverse group of ladies, but I thoroughly enjoy spending time with them every-other-Wednesday!!  We eat and chat about our families and discuss God’s word and how we can apply it in our lives.  But, because of vacations (and expected babies) we’re not going to meet during the summer months.

It will be nice to have a break.  But, I can’t help but be disappointed that I’m going to lose the accountability of a small group, at a time that I think I need it most.  With a drastic change of routine looming in the very near future, I need something to keep me motivated and accountable to spend time in God’s word on a daily basis — something more than skimming the “Daily Bread” devotional before I crawl out of bed in the morning.  Not that there is anything wrong with doing that — because I do — but I am so much more focused when I work through a study of some sort.

One blogger that I follow regularly is Courtney at Women Living Well.  When I learned about the Proverbs 31 study going on this summer, I was thrilled!  Courtney’s ebook, “The Proverbs 31 Woman – One Virtue at a Time”, has been on my reading list for awhile.

This Good Morning Girls’ study uses the SOAP method – which was new to me.  We only focus on a few verses each day, but have a chance to really dig into each verse!  SOAP stands for scripture, observations, applications, and prayer.  I’m really learning a lot using this method – even though we only focus on one or two verses every day.  Honestly, I was disappointed that the study skips the weekends!!

Yesterday on Facebook, Angela from Good Morning Girls, challenged us to invite a friend to join the study, because “you never know the difference you can make when you extend an invitation to someone.”  I had planned to do the study on my own because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to stay on the schedule right after the baby is born.  I’m always more-than-content working alone on something.  Maybe God has a different plan… I posted about the study last night on Facebook, inviting anyone interested to join me.  I’m excited to see what happens!!

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freezer cooking, menu

Fill Your Freezer: Lasagna Casserole

FINALLY!!  I finally made lasagna casserole.  This recipe has been on my to-do list since before my Third Trimester Freezer Cooking Session.  I’m not a fan of cottage cheese, so I don’t keep any on hand and I don’t know what a good price is.  Since I had so much ground beef to use up, I finally sucked-it-up and bought enough cottage cheese to make 3 casseroles.

Looks yummy!  While constructing casserole #3, I knocked over the strainer that held all of my noodles… and they scattered all over the floor.  Thankfully, it was only the last half of the last casserole.  And thankfully, my seven-year-old mopped last night.  Yes, Landon mopped the kitchen floor.  It’s amazing what a savings goal (some obscure Lego set) can do for someone’s work ethic!!  I never thought I’d hear, “Mom, do we need to work in the garden this week?”  [But, I digress]  So, I carefully inspected and rinsed everysingleone of the handful of noodles I spilled, and added them to the casserole.  Five-second-rule, right??
Unfortunately, my kitchen is being disassembled tonight…  I’m getting a new sink, garbage disposal, cabinets, and a built-in dishwasher!!  My freezer cooking plan for tomorrow is to fill some more tortillas for brown bag burritos, because I already have the filling made and I don’t have to stand up to do it!!

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freezer cooking

Fill Your Freezer: Pizza Casserole & More Taco Meat

Tuesday is still my “go in town” day — but before the stores opened, I got a little freezer cooking done!

I was surprised to learn that this pizza casserole recipe actually makes TWO casseroles.  Now, I’m really glad I didn’t plan to triple it!!

I used two more pounds of the ground beef to make more taco meat (without beans added). That means I only have two pounds of ground beef left to use!! I’m going to make more Brown Bag Burritos because I have some enchilada sauce left that needs to be used.  I just need to get some more tortillas…

I also managed to hurt myself.  My first freezer cooking injury:  I punched through a plastic container trying to get frozen ground beef out of it.  It looked a lot worse last night….

What’s left on my plan?

  • Lasagna Casserole
  • Brown Bag Burritos (1&1/2 recipe of filling to fill as many tortillas as possible)
  • Waffles (as many as I can crank out – this will feed my seven-year-old all summer)
  • Sandwich Bread (in the bread machine)
  • Make a freezer inventory list
  • Sit down with my feet propped up and relax!!
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dinner, freezer cooking, recipes

Fill Your Freezer: Chicken Cordon Bleu, Rosemary Porkchops, Sloppy Joes

I’m getting more adventurous in my freezer cooking sessions!  Today I made 2 pans of Chicken Cordon Bleu (one for tomorrow, and one to freeze), 3 recipes of Rosemary Porkchops, and 3 recipes of Sloppy Joes.

The Chicken Cordon Bleu was really easy.  I didn’t use nearly as much cream of chicken soup as it called for.  The bigger pan went into the fridge for tomorrow’s dinner and this week’s lunches.  The pie pan went into the freezer (once frozen it will go in a ziploc).

I had two big trays of porkchops that were taking up room in the deep-freeze, so I turned them into Rosemary Porkchops!!  This is my mom’s recipe and my husband LOVES it.

Rosemary Porkchops 

In a Ziploc bag, place:
4 boneless porkchops
1/2 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp dried rosemary

Shake bag to mix. [Here is where I freeze it.]
Marinate in fridge for 3 hours [Or, let thaw overnight in fridge]
Place in baking dish and cook for 30-35 minutes at 250 degrees.

Yes, when I’m running out of soy sauce, I cheat and use the packets from the Chinese take-out place.  Just FYI, fourteen packets get me the 1/2-cup of soy sauce that I need for this recipe!!  I also don’t use all the rosemary this recipe calls for because it seems like a lot to me.  I usually throw everything into the crockpot (frozen) before I go to work.  But if I’m not working, I cook it per the original instructions.

I browned 3 pounds of ground beef for the triple-recipe of lasagna casserole that I plan to make.  I also browned 6 pounds for a triple recipe of these sloppy joes.

That means I only have 6 pounds of ground beef left to use!!  Should I use the rest tripling this Pizza Casserole recipe?  Or do you have a favorite ground beef recipe I should try?

Next up?  Pizza Casserole & More Taco Meat

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