Saturday, January 30, 2010

Introductions are in order

Meet Mutley, the newest member of our family!  She's a 10 year old girl who was in need of a forever home, and she picked me. She's doing great, and seems quite happy to be home.  She'd been at the SPCA since August, when her family had to surrender her because they were having to move into an apartment and couldn't take her with them.  (It's sad that that is a recurring story these days.)  Mutley was a staff favorite and was considered "too good" to be in a kennel, so she spent her days lounging on her own special bed in the boss's office - so you know she's a special girl!  The staff was funny - they thought we were joking when we said we were there for her!  They didn't want to get their hopes up that she'd be adopted, only to be disappointed again.  So when we said we'd take her, there wasn't a dry eye in the place!  They were making phone calls to say "Mutley is being ADOPTED!" and let people know to come say goodbye to her.  So, I'd say we've lucked out and got ourselves an awesome addition to our family!!
 
 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wow, I thought we had covered this

Day #1 of Kelton's school career: things went well.  Since this is his first school experience, the fact that he "didn't want to" do some things wasn't any cause for concern for the teacher, yet she did let me know that we would need to talk to him about school routines and expectations.

Good to know.  So we had a little chit chat with him, and I think he understood.

Day #2 of Kelton's school career: better...and worse.  He didn't say that he "didn't want to" do something.  So that's good - the conversation seemed to have registered. 

Oh, and then she told me that he peed on the play ground.

Really?

I really thought we had established (you know, because we do live in a house, and not outside) that if you need to go potty, you go to the bathroom.

I guess Kelton missed that memo.

I can't wait to hear how Day #3 goes.....

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Happy Birthday, Monkey

Five years ago, he looked like this....
Today he looks like this.
 
And he started school....


It's a pretty big day for him.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Why didn't I think of that?

I hate "duh" moments.  But I totally had one the other night.  I was sitting here at the computer thumbing through various money saving blogs.  I'd read so far and then I would click on a link to another post or blog, and before I knew it, I was 43 layers deep and had 2,743 savings tips swimming in my head. 

And then...

...there it was...

My "duh" moment.

I had read that it was cheaper to buy bone-in chicken breasts (on sale of course), and just de-bone them yourself.  Well, that part I knew.  I had planned on doing that this week since Safeway had bone-in chicken breasts for 99¢ per pound.  What I hadn't thought of was what to do with the bones when you are done removing the meat from them.....

Are you ready for this?  You could have your own "duh" moment here.....you boil them!  You get homemade chicken stock, and you can save all the meat that stuck to the bones. 

I'm serious, why didn't I think of that before?!

I bought 30 pounds of chicken for $30 ($29.58 if you want to get technical!), and saved myself $50 because it was on sale.  So far, so good.  I was eager to see how my new information would pay off in our favor.  David and I set up a little assembly line and got to work.  We had one bowl for meat (which turned into 2 bowls by the end of it), a huge pot for the bones, and another bowl (with a plastic bag for easy clean up) for the skin and fat.  You can see it up in the corner of the picture...


I'll admit, it was time consuming, but it didn't feel that bad since we were working together.  And the pay off would be huge (so I hoped.)  Well, right off the bat, I saved $50 just from the sale.  Had I waited for the boneless skinless to go on sale for $1.79, I would have paid out another $24 for someone else to do a little work for me.  I'd rather keep the money thankyouverymuch!

By de-boning the meat my self, what I got was:
  • about 10 cups of chicken stock and I can pronounce every ingredient that went into it
  • 5½ cups of cooked chicken that was stuck to the bones that I would have just thrown away - I can use that for soups, tacos, pizza ~ whatever I want.  I froze it in 3 packs - 2-2 cup packs and 1-1½ cup pack.  In case you missed that, I would have thrown away three meals worth of chicken!!
  • 3 packs of chicken tenders about 1 pound per pack
  • 15 packs of boneless skinless chicken breast, 2 per pack.

All that for less than $30 and a little work.  Yeah, I'd say that was a pretty good deal, and worth every penny saved!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Menu Plan - Jan 24


 

Oh my, the time is flying by!

We're still on track with the Eat from the pantry challenge.  As for the menu, I see that we will have meals that we won't get to this month, so I'm pushing them on to February's menu plan. I like having the menu done for the month, but it is time consuming to plan it all out.  It looks like I'll need to start this week trying to decide what we will be eating next month. 

Here is the recap of the monthly menu with the meals we've already eaten crossed out, and notations for this weeks plan.  Check out Laura's page for more menus and recipes.

1. Baked Spaghetti with Bread Machine Garlic Bread
2. Pulled Pork Sandwiches on homemade hamburger buns
3. Turkey Bundles using homemade crescent rolls
4. Homemade Pizza
5. Pizza Loaf
6. Sunday Chicken Dinner in the slow cooker
7. Mexican Lasagne
8. Pumpkin Pancakes
9. Chili Mac (freezer meal)
10. Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches (freezer meal) on Italian rolls
11. Pretzel Dogs
12. French Toast
13. Meat Mix
14. Split Pea Soup
15. Herbed Pork Roast **planned for this week
16. Creamy Pork Potpie
17. "Wacky Mac" spaghetti with meatballs (this will be on the 26th as this is what Kelton has asked for for his birthday dinner. He's also asked for "strawberry cake with chocolate on the bottom and a cherry on top" for the cake, and I'm still trying to figure out how to accommodate his request!!) **Tuesday's meal
18. BELTs That's a BLT with a fried Egg on it...
19. Spinach Lentil Stew **planned for this week
20. Turkey tenderloin
21. Sausage Tomato Soup
22. Pork Noodle Soup **planned for this week
23. Italian Chicken Rice Soup (substituting turkey for the chicken)  **planned for this week
24. Crock pot broccoli beef
25. Kris Kringle Pancakes

Monday, January 18, 2010

Green Rice


This wonderful side dish has a bit of kick to it, and we love it!  It's so easy to throw together too.  When I plan my menu, if a recipe calls for an unusual or hard to use item, I look for other recipes that can use the same ingredient and incorporate all of it in the same week to avoid throwing away food.  I love when I find other recipes that need fresh parsley, because then it gives me a good excuse to make this.

1 cup chopped green onions
1 cup minced fresh parsley
4½ tsp olive oil or vegetable oil
4½ tsp butter or margerine
1½ cups uncooked long grain rice
3 cups chicken broth
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (don't get adventurous here, this little bit does the trick!!)
1 bay leaf

In a saucepan, saute the onions and parsley in oil and butter for 1 minute or until tender.
Add rice; cook over medium heat until rice is coated with oil and translucent, about 3 minutes.  Stir in broth, cayenne pepper and bay leaf.  Bring to boil.
Reduce heat; cover tightly and simmer for 18-20 minutes and rice is tender.

Discard bay leaf and serve.

Goin' all crazy


If this works the way I think (or at least I hope) it will, I'm going
to be so excited! I'm posting this from my phone!! Multi-tasking,
here I come!! Now when I'm sitting at Honda waiting for the oil to
get changed on my car, I can be posting??!! I'm so stoked!!

As for the picture, this is my absolute favorite picture from my
sister's wedding. It needed to be shared =)

Ok, *fingers crossed*.....please work!!

Update...It worked!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Menu Plan Monday (Jan 18-24)

 
Ever have "one of those weeks"?  Oh, don't lie!  We all have.  Let me say, this has definitely been one of those weeks for us.  Here's the Reader's Digest version: I found out I have to have surgery within the next couple weeks (date TBD), David got his new duty assignment orders, both boys have been signed up for baseball, I'm trying to purge everything in my house, and oh yeah, I have to find $2k floating around somewhere by April.  Oh it's gonna be fun!  And menu planning is going to be a necessity...and probably key to my sanity.

So far, the Eat from the Pantry Challenge has gone well.  Last pay period, because I stayed out of the stores, I was able to save $49 in my "jars" budget.  That's huge for me, since I only started with $250 (divided into: groceries, gas, health & hygiene, cleaning/paper products/laundry, and miscellaneous money.)  So to save 20% is pretty good in my book.  We'll see how I do for the rest of the month.  The 14 pounds of ground beef that I bought last week have turned into 9 packs of all-ready-cooked/scrambled meat, and a double batch of meatballs all to go in the freezer....and a spontaneous burger lunch for us.

Now that we're up to speed on the challenge, let's get to the menu.  Here is my menu for the month of January.  See?!  I'm marking 'em off!  That means we're doing well!  (If you want links to a lot of these, you can go here.)  We will be childless for the weekend, so it's a Date Night for us on Friday, and Saturday we'll play by ear.....probably leftovers of some kind.

1. Baked Spaghetti with Bread Machine Garlic Bread The baked spaghetti was a huge hit, but we didn't get to the bread, and I do still plan to make it - at some point!  I wonder if this would work as a freezer meal?  Any thoughts if you have made this?  I mean, you can freeze lasagna, so shouldn't this be ok?
2. Pulled Pork Sandwiches on homemade hamburger buns OH MY!!  Both of these are definite keepers =)  However, the pork took forever to cook, so the kids ended up with mac & cheese for dinner, and we ate about 9:30 and it was totally worth the wait!!  So if you want to give this one a try, plan accordingly!!
3. Turkey Bundles using homemade crescent rolls
4. Homemade Pizza
5. Pizza Loaf
6. Sunday Chicken Dinner in the slow cooker
7. Mexican Lasagne **planned for this week
8. Pumpkin Pancakes
9. Chili Mac (freezer meal) **planned for this week
10. Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches (freezer meal) on Italian rolls
11. Pretzel Dogs **planned for this week
12. French Toast
13. Meat Mix
14. Split Pea Soup
15. Herbed Pork Roast
16. Creamy Pork Potpie
17. "Wacky Mac" spaghetti (this will be on the 26th as this is what Kelton has asked for for his birthday dinner. He's also asked for "strawberry cake with chocolate on the bottom and a cherry on top" for the cake, and I'm still trying to figure out how to accommodate his request!!)
18. BELTs That's a BLT with a fried Egg on it...
19. Spinach Lentil Stew **planned for this week
20. Turkey tenderloin ** planned for this week
21. Sausage Tomato Soup
22. Pork Noodle Soup
23. Italian Chicken Rice Soup (probably substituting turkey for the chicken)
24. Crock pot broccoli beef
25. Kris Kringle Pancakes

I'm kinda liking the menu being laid out for the month. So much so that I may have to try this next month too.  *Gasp* Do I see another pantry challenge in my future??  If you want more ideas, there have been around 500 people participating in Menu Plan Monday - there is bound to be a meal idea out there for you to try! =)
 

Saturday, January 16, 2010

End of an Era

For the last 12 years, this has been "home" for us.
  It was time for a change. 
Time to set him up for promotion. 
Time to be (and the best in my opinion) Non-Deployable
As with all changes, this one is a little scary - because it's different. 
Like a new pair of shoes, unsure of how they will fit. 
But the prospects are there. 
And the outlook is good.

Charlie Rock, we will miss you.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Menu Plan Monday (Jan 11-Jan 17)

 
 
Oh my!  At the rate I'm going, we'll be able to stretch this Eat from the Pantry Challenge into February. As you can see, we only managed to eat two of the meals from the list.  Between the boys (all of them, but mostly the biggest one) being sick and me being in pain (long story), we didn't do too well fixing dinners.  However, we didn't starve, and we only ate out once.  It wasn't planned, but it was for a good cause ~ there was a fundraiser at a local pizza place, and the money went to David's unit NCO Fund.  So it's all good!

Did I hear someone ask how my grocery shopping has gone so far?  In all honesty, not too bad.   I estimated $20 for the month just to put the main dish on the table.  That didn't include any milk, fruit or silly things like mayo that I didn't know we were basically out of.  So far, I've spent $8.  I'd say that's pretty good.  What have I spent total?  Uh, that would be $65.  However, $21 of that was on 14 pounds of ground beef that went on sale for $1.49 per pound.  I've been waiting for that sale, so I did stock up, and I was good - I usually get about 30 pounds.  Then $7 was stocking up on sausage.  If I'm lucky, I can catch the $1 pull-date sale and then I put it in the freezer....but it doesn't happen often, and I was due! The rest was spent on produce and milk.  I'd say I'm right on track.  Granted, I didn't have a cap on my grocery bill; my goal was stay home more, and spend less.  So far, I've accomplished both.

1. Baked Spaghetti with Bread Machine Garlic Bread (**planned for this week)
2. Pulled Pork Sandwiches on homemade hamburger buns (**planned for this week)
3. Turkey Bundles using homemade crescent rolls
4. Homemade Pizza
5. Pizza Loaf
6. Sunday Chicken Dinner in the slow cooker (**planned for this week) This was quite yummy and definitely a keeper.
7. Mexican Lasagne
8. Pumpkin Pancakes
9. Chili Mac (freezer meal)
10. Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches (freezer meal) on Italian rolls
11. Pretzel Dogs
12. French Toast
13. Meat Mix
14. Split Pea Soup (**planned for this week)
15. Herbed Pork Roast
16. Creamy Pork Potpie
17. "Wacky Mac" spaghetti (this will be on the 26th as this is what Kelton has asked for for his birthday dinner. He's also asked for "strawberry cake with chocolate on the bottom and a cherry on top" for the cake, and I'm still trying to figure out how to accommodate his request!!)
18. BELTs (**planned for this week, gotta use the bacon before it goes bad!) That's a BLT with a fried Egg on it...
19. Spinach Lentil Stew
20. Turkey tenderloin
21. Sausage Tomato Soup
22. Pork Noodle Soup
23. Italian Chicken Rice Soup (probably substituting turkey for the chicken)
24. Crock pot broccoli beef
25. Kris Kringle Pancakes

For more menus, check out Orgjunkie!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - January Edition



Last week I had said that I was going to try something new with my menu plans.  I was going to try to combine adding fewer new recipes each week and bringing back old favorites too.  Hahahaha!  It didn't go down like that at all. In red is what we actually ate last week...

Monday ~ Garlic Chicken Farfalle (new recipe) due to a very late lunch, no one was hungry for dinner.
Tuesday ~ we'll be out for friends' birthday celebrations
Wednesday ~ Soup & Sandwiches
Thursday ~ Mexican Lasagne we went to our friends' house for New Year's Eve, I made Chili instead to take over since it was a "soup & salad buffet" theme
Friday ~ Pizza Loaf (sorta new - going to try an old classic on a recently found recipe of french bread that we fell in love with and is delicious, so I shall call it a "new" recipe =) ) Since the chicken was thawed for dinner Monday that didn't get eaten, we were going to do Monday's dinner instead.  Then at 4:30pm we realized it needed to be in the crock pot 6 hours earlier...so we had Chicken Pasta Toss instead.
Saturday ~ Oriental Pasta (resurrected from the archives) lots of leftovers, so we ate those instead of make more leftovers...
Sunday ~ Turkey Noodle Soup (comfort food at its best!)

Now we jump ahead to this week.  I'm changing it all up this time around.   After my pantry debacle last week, I decided it was time to really challenge myself.  I'm going to try to cook out of our pantry and freezer for the month of January.  I was pleasantly horrified at how much I have stashed away, so this really shouldn't be too hard.  Don't get me wrong, I know I'm saying this on January 2nd, we'll talk again come the 30th!  But in all honesty, I tried to approach this with a logical frame of mind.  I took note to the various meats I have in the freezer to help determine what I had to work with, and we have a lot of pork!  There are a few new soup recipes we'll be trying, as well as meals from the freezer, "recycling" meat into other meals, and of course the obligatory "breakfast for dinner" meals that we love.  After I assembled together the meals for the month, I wrote down all the ingredients needed to put each main dish on the table.  (I figured I have enough rice and flavored rice mixes, frozen veggies and other possible side dishes in the cupboard that I'd only need to really focus on the main dish anyway.)  Then I totaled everything up and went to the kitchen to see what I had and what would be needed.  I'm quite pleased with my shopping list for the month!!  Excluding milk, we'll spend about $20 for the whole month for groceries...how cool is that?!?!?  After Christmas, I needed the bleeding in my wallet to stop, and this is certainly one way to do that.  We'll save all around ~ groceries, gas, whimsical shopping splurges, etc.  Gotta love that!

I have planned for 25 meals which will allow for leftover nights.  I'm not going to assign every meal to a night at this point because I'll need to group together certain meals so that everything gets used to try to minimize waste, since that is the name of the game.  So, in no particular order, here's the plan for the month:

1.  Baked Spaghetti with Bread Machine Garlic Bread (**planned for this week)
2.  Pulled Pork Sandwiches on homemade hamburger buns
3. Turkey Bundles using homemade crescent rolls
4.  Homemade Pizza
5.  Pizza Loaf
6.  Sunday Chicken Dinner in the slow cooker (**planned for this week)
7. Mexican Lasagne
8.  Pumpkin Pancakes
9.  Chili Mac (freezer meal)
10. Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches (freezer meal) on Italian rolls
11. Pretzel Dogs
12. French Toast
13. Meat Mix
14. Split Pea Soup (**planned for this week)
15. Herbed Pork Roast
16. Creamy Pork Potpie
17. "Wacky Mac" spaghetti (this will be on the 26th as this is what Kelton has asked for for his birthday dinner.  He's also asked for "strawberry cake with chocolate on the bottom and a cherry on top" for the cake, and I'm still trying to figure out how to accommodate his request!!)
18. BELTs (**planned for this week) That's a BLT with a fried Egg on it...
19. Spinach Lentil Stew
20. Turkey tenderloin
21. Sausage Tomato Soup
22. Pork Noodle Soup
23. Italian Chicken Rice Soup (probably substituting turkey for the chicken)
24. Crock pot broccoli beef
25. Kris Kringle Pancakes

If anyone has any ideas how to make Kelton's birthday cake come to fruition, please let me know!!

Check out more menu plans at Orgjunkie's page.