freezer cooking, recipes

Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf

I had never heard of this, but found it once while I was looking for low-calorie meals and it sounded like something my picky-eater-husband would like.  I’ve adapted it a little (probably adding calories) and we eat it at least once a month.  It’s also good if you mix up two batches at once:  eat one and freeze the other!  I heard my husband telling someone on the phone, “Yea, it’s great!  It’s just ground chicken, hot sauce, and an egg!”  Not quite, sweetie…
1 lb ground chicken {if you can get “lean” ground chicken, go for it… I have trouble finding ground chicken at all in some stores}
2/3 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup of 1% milk {I was out of milk once and used water… no one noticed}
1/3 cup of hot sauce
2 egg whites
1/2 cup of bleu cheese crumbles

Step One:  Combine oats and milk.  Let sit for several minutes until oats are softened.  Sometimes I add the hot sauce here, sometimes I don’t.

Step Two:  Add everything but the bleu cheese (chicken, eggs, and hot sauce if not already added).  Mix well.  Stir in bleu cheese crumbles last.  {The cheese can get gooey if added too early}.

Step Three:  Pour mixture into loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Allow loaf to rest/cool for at least 10 minutes before serving {or it will fall apart!}.

This makes about 8 pieces (4 servings).  Sometimes we sprinkle more hot sauce on top – sometimes we dip it in bleu cheese dressing… depends on the mood!  

Note:  I don’t like crunchy things in my meatloaf (or stuffing for that matter).  You can definitely add celery or carrots or onions or all three to this and it would still be delicious.  I leave them out as a personal preference, but I know I’m weird!!

Menu Planning Tip:  I always try to serve this in the same week as I serve pasta carbonara.  I use two egg whites here and two egg yolks in the pasta carbonara ~ so this way there is no wasted food!!

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cleaning, DIY

Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent

When I first started using coupons, I ended up spending a lot of money on a lot of laundry detergent.  That was before I figured out that coupons don’t always make products a “good buy” — even when the blogs say it’s “rock bottom price”.  If “rock bottom” Tide is more expensive that what you would be using anyway, don’t buy it!!
Then, I noticed all the recipes for homemade laundry detergent.  I read a lot of mixed reviews and different combinations before I decided to try it for myself.  There are different brands of soap, ways to scent the detergent, the choice between liquid detergent or powder detergent… and many, many more options for you to consider.
Here is what I do:
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
1 bar Fels-Naptha Soap
Step One:  Chop the soap up into cubes.  This soap is pretty easy to cut – I was expecting it to be harder, but I didn’t have to put a lot of effort into cutting it.
Step Two:  Add 1 cup of Borax, 1 cup of Washing Soda, and the soap cubes to a food processor.  I use my Ninja blender because it’s big enough to hold everything and mix it up really well.
Step Three:  I give the Ninja a few quick bursts (3 or 4?) and then I turn it on a let it go until all of the soap is chopped into very fine bits.

See how tiny the soap gets chopped up!!!  I store the powder in a Tide box and I use a measuring spoon to measure 1 tablespoon for each load.

I’ve been using this detergent for months and have made it several different times.  Here is what I’ve learned:
  • Powdered detergent:  I grew up using liquid Era.  That’s what I was using for my first year of homemaking.  However, I “stocked up” on some powdered Tide using my coupons and I was just as satisfied with the results.  The powdered detergent seemed a little easy to make and store.
  • Fels-Naptha soap:  I read a lot of recipes suggesting to use Ivory soap.  I also read a lot of reviews that said the Ivory soap left the clothes dingy but smelling good.  Ivory is a body soap.  Fels-Naptha is a stain-remover.  I’d rather have the stain remover in my detergent.
  • Chopping the soap:  Another hesitation I read about was how to break the soap down so that it dissolves in the wash.  A lot of commenters seemed to think that if they used a grater or food processor to chop up soap, they couldn’t use it for food anymore because everything would taste like soap.  Do we worry that washing our plates with soap will make our food taste like soap?  I don’t.  I’ve used a cheese grater and a food processor to chop up the soap and both have worked just fine afterwards.
  • Grater or Food Processor:  I have used both and found that the food processor is just so much easier to use and takes far less time.  Grating worked, but it took forever.
  • HE Washer:  I used this detergent in my old apartment sized washer.  I would start the load on “warm” for a few seconds to dissolve the soap.  When I got my new HE washer, I was worried about using this detergent.  I read that it’s fine to use in an HE  washer because it really doesn’t make any suds at all.  I was worried, however, about the soap dissolving.  Then, I learned that my new washer has this nifty feature where I can tell it to wash in cold water, but it will heat the water up at first if it’s too cold to dissolve a powdered detergent.  Very nifty.
  • Are the clothes clean?  Yes!!  And, we discovered that my husband actually loves the clean-smell that the Fels-Naptha soap gives to the detergent.  It doesn’t smell like flowers or a beach, but it does smell clean!!
  • Baby Clothes:  There are no dyes or fragrances in any of these ingredients so the detergent works great for baby clothes!


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devotions, Proverbs 31

Proverbs 31: Week 4

First, I want to say that I am learning so much through this study!  This week, I was reminded of a very important lesson:  We need to listen if we want to hear God.

The Proverbs 31 woman gets up and out of bed before the rest of her family.  Why?  Because she needs to prepare for the day before the craziness begins.  The first part of being prepared is focusing ourselves back on God.

When I started this study, I assumed that I didn’t need to do my short morning devotionals anymore.  But, I didn’t do this study early in the morning, either.  This study isn’t as easy effortless.  It involves looking up scripture (not already printed in the margins), writing out answers (where did I put that pen?), praying (something I didn’t do as often with the other devotional)… it is just more effort!  More often than not, I would do this study in the afternoon, after most of my day was already over.  Hey, at least it was getting done!

When I realized I had drifted away from my morning quiet time, I prayed for discipline to get up early and do this study in the morning, “like I’m supposed to”.  I had just bought Beautiful on God’s Eyes by Elizabeth George to compliment this study so now I had the perfect plan.  Bad idea.  I’m a bit of a perfectionist.  I’m not a detailed-neat-freak-perfectionist… it’s worse than that.  If something can’t be done right, or “perfectly”, I will put it off until it “can be done right” and it doesn’t get done.  It took one day after my “new plan” for me to completely stop working through this study.

Thankfully, I have been doing the study with my mom.  My accountability to her pushed me to catch back up.  I haven’t caught up in the new book I got, but that’s okay.  I don’t roll out of bed and do this study every day, but that’s okay.  I do recognize that I need to start my day off on the right foot, with the right focus.  If the craziness of the day has already begun, I read something quick and easy.  If I’m up before the sun, I take some quiet time to dive deeper into the Word.

I am going to be more intentional this week by focusing on God in the morning, before my day starts.

One thing I can do before I get out of bed every morning is pray.  I took the challenge from Sheila Wray Gregiore to pray for my husband every day.  Since I’ve been remembering to love him with his love language (words of affirmation), I chose the challenge to pray for him more often.

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Menu June 11-17

We should be adding a member to our family this week.. if she waits much longer I’m afraid she’ll be well over 10 lbs (six weeks ago she measured at almost 7lbs)!!!!  If we need seven dinners this week, I’ll be digging into my freezer stash..  If, however, I do end up in the hospital this week, I’m counting on family to feed my husband for a day or two — though we’ve been saving some of the “dining out” budget for just such an occasion.

Cereal and Poptarts

leftover pizza
hotdogs x2
ham & cheese sandwiches x2
tomato soup & grilled cheese
Father’s Day dinner with family

Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf (possibly turning this into a post)
Shrimp Scampi
General Tso’s (DH can’t get enough of this, apparently)
Southwest Roll-ups
Lasagna Casserole
Tacos (or Taco Salad.. salad is always nicer when it’s hot)
Dinner at a restaurant

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General Tso’s Chicken

This is one of my husband’s favorites!  We used to get Chinese take-out every Friday night… When we started trying to cut back, take-out was the first thing cut.  I tried so many different recipes trying to find one that tasted just like the Chinese take-out.  I accumulated quite the collection of Asian ingredients that I will probably never use again.  Each recipe was good, but nothing like take-out.  Finally I discovered the “missing ingredient”.  Hoisin sauce!  I have no idea what it is, or what is in it, but it’s the perfect consistency to make really good General Tso’s.

I always serve this dish with rice– either fried rice or a Knorr’s Rice Side.

Step One:  Marinade Chicken
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1&1/4 cup water
ground ginger to taste
1 lb chicken breast


Whisk these ingredients together in a container that has a lid.  Add 1 lb of boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces.  Close the container and refrigerate for at least one hour.

{I usually get this ready around lunch and let it marinate until supper time}

Step Two:  Coat Chicken

2 large egg whites
3/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
chicken from marinade
In one bowl whisk egg whites until foamy.  In a second bowl, mix cornstarch, flour, ginger, and baking soda until well blended.  Remove chicken from marinade (but keep the marinade!).  Pat chicken dry with papertowels.  Dip chicken in egg whites and dredge through flour mixture.  
{I usually have a lot of extra flour mix when I’m done, so I freeze it for next time}
Step Three:  Cook!
olive oil
4 cloves of garlic
ground ginger, to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste
marinade from chicken
In a medium sauce pan, heat a tablespoon of oil over medium heat.  Add 4 chopped cloves of garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes to the oil.  Cook until fragrant.  Add marinade from chicken to sauce pan.  Cook until sauce thickens and darkens, whisking often.
{I can’t eat this if I use more than a sprinkle of pepper flakes!}
In a skillet, heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add chicken to oil and cook for 5 minutes.  Turn chicken, add more oil if needed, and cook until no longer pink (165 degrees).
To Serve:
When the chicken is cooked and the sauce is done, combine the two in the saucepan to thoroughly coat the chicken.  Serve over rice with stir-fry vegetables.  

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31 Days to Clean, cleaning

31 Days to Clean REBOOT (Days 1-5)

Sarah Mae’s “31 Days to Clean Reboot” has come at the perfect time for me :o) It plays right into my nesting instincts.  This first week, we worked on our bedrooms.  Starting with the closet, we worked through our clothes in the dresser, the top of the dresser, under the bed, and the nightstands.

Martha Challenge #1:

We have two closets — a very small one in our room (so small the door won’t close when there are hangers on the rail) and a normal sized closet in the nursery.  The closet in our room is the go-to closet.  The nursery closet is for things that need hung but not worn regularly.  I sorted through my clothes in the nursery closet first and ended up with half of what was there before!  I had recently “decluttered” my clothes because I needed room for maternity sizes — but I still found things that I was hanging on to but not wearing.  I filled a small box with things to add to the yardsale pile. 
Nursery Closet BEFORE
Nursery Closet AFTER

Then I moved to our room.  I had barely anything hung in our room because I’m only wearing maternity clothes right now.  I switched sides with DH (moved my clothes from the right to the left) so I could hang my dresses in our room.  I hope my dresses will fit again soon!

Our Closet BEFORE
Our Closet AFTER

Martha Challenge #2:
I recruited DH to help with the dresser (since most of it was his) and I am so happy with the finished product!  Chances are, if it doesn’t take an hour to clean off, I will actually dust it now!
Dresser BEFORE
Dresser AFTER

Martha Challenge #3:

We have drawers under our bed, so I sorted through my clothes and reorganized them.  DH vacuumed along the edge of the bed.  
Martha Challenge #4:  
And finally the night stand… These are my favorite before-after photos….

{drumroll please}
Night Stand BEFORE
Night Stand AFTER!!!!!

That’s right… it’s GONE!  That’s my “oh-no-I’m-in-labor-rushing-to-the-hospital” bag, so that will be gone in the next few weeks, too!  The stand was full of textbooks that I had for sale online… but we also had an empty bookshelf in the office so out they went.  I actually couldn’t open one of my under-bed-drawers because the night stand was in the way, so I am so thankful that it’s gone.

Martha Challenge #5:
I’m trying to help DH tidy-up and organize his nightstand, too.  Other than that, our bedroom is clean!!

As for the Mary challenges:  I’m hearing the echoing message to set aside quiet time, every day, to listen for God’s direction.  I’m really struggling with waiting on God’s will and surrendering the “planning” to him.  One of my goals from the Good Morning Girls study was to memorize several verses.  I picked my first verse to memorize – Psalm 119:29 “Keep me from lying to myself.  Give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.”  It’s a verse that has become a prayer – Stop me from making the plans and convincing myself that I know best.  Show me your will and tell me what you want me to do.

I’m so glad the challenge started in our bedrooms.  This newly decluttered space is so relaxing and will be so much more welcoming to our newest roommate next week!!
Have you joined the Reboot Challenge?  How is your bedroom looking?  

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devotions, Proverbs 31

Proverbs 31 Study: Week 3

The most important lesson I learned this week is to bring my husband good not harm, all the days of my life.  In such a simple verse, Proverbs 31:12 says so many things!

How do we bring good to our husbands?  We can cook him good (and healthy!) meals.  We can compliment him (remember my plan to intentionally compliment my husband).  We can ask him what he needs and help him, eagerly

The challenge this week was to approach household tasks with an eager attitude.  Being 38 weeks pregnant and in full-fledged nesting mode, this challenge was easy for me!  I spent the week tidying the house and getting ready for the baby.  I cooked dinner most nights because I had a chance to rest during the day.  It is so much easier to serve my family with an eager attitude when I have a chance to recharge (instead of working all day and working all night).

Serving grudgingly does not bring good to your household — it brings harm.  A bad attitude is a poison that will infect the rest of your family.  This challenge would have been really tough if I had still been working.  It’s far too easy for me to adopt that negative-nancy, woe-is-me, martyr attitude when I’ve been at work all day and come home to work some more.  But, God called us to bring our husbands good all the days of our lives, even the days we’re working late and tired and pregnant.

Something that helps keep my attitude in check is Colossians 3:23 (NLT), “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than people.”  By serving eagerly, we’re showing God’s love to our family, setting a good example, and bringing them good.

To be more intentional this week I am going to prepare and serve dinner at least twice at the dining room table, where we can spend quality time as a family. a-wise-woman-builds-her-home friday favorite things | finding joy Blog Button Final Covered in Grace Photobucket Photobucket Growing Home Photobucket Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

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Pasta Carbonara

I don’t remember how I discovered this delicious dish.  I never had it growing up and we’ve never ordered it in a restaurant.  The first recipe I tried used all of my favorite foods:  butter, bacon, wine, cheese, eggs, spaghetti, and onions.  It’s always a little scary cooking something you’ve never eaten before.. you don’t know what it’s supposed to look like.. or taste like.  But, it was amazing!!  An instant favorite.

I’ve since simplified the recipe, drastically.  Here is my super-simple Pasta Carbonara recipe:

Pasta Carbonara


1/2 pound of bacon
1 box of spaghetti
4 eggs (2 whole, 2 yolks)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

  1. Cut bacon into 1-inch pieces.  In a skillet, fry bacon until crispy.  Note:  You can’t do it in the microwave or use precooked bacon because you’ll need to use the grease from cooking in the skillet.

  2. Boil spaghetti according to package instructions.
  3. Mix 2 whole eggs, 2 egg yolks, 1/2 cup of milk, and 1/4 cup of parmesan.  Whisk these ingredients until well mixed.

  4. Drain pasta and return to pot.  Add egg mixture to pot.  Stir immediately and mix well.  Note:  Yes, raw eggs.  The heat from the noodles is enough to cook the eggs and the heat from the pot is some added insurance.

  5. Add bacon and grease to pot.  Stir until well mixed and serve with extra parmesan or toasted bread crumbs on top.

Voila!  Enjoy!

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Menu: June 3 – 9

It’s the last week of school!  Starting Tuesday I’ll be feeding the boys twice a day instead of just once (they are self-sufficient at breakfast)!  Honestly, it makes planning lunches a lot easier.  And leftovers can be used as a dinner one night instead of being eaten for lunch every day!  I’m also 38, going on 39, weeks pregnant– so I’m trying not to plan too far ahead and eat mostly what we have on hand, without digging into my freezer stash.

Cereal or Poptarts

Macaroni and Cheese (Kraft) with hot dogs
Ham and Swiss Sandwiches
BBQ Chicken & Bacon Sandwiches
Chicken Strips & Fried Potatoes

Shrimp Scampi
Salisbury Steaks (looking for a good sauce recipe!)
General Tso’s (DH requested this, again)
Dinner at a Restaurant
Pork & Sauerkraut

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