Sunday, September 26, 2010

Homemade Italian Dressing

I enjoy making my own mixes.  It seems silly to me to buy something that I have the ingredients to make.  Especially a spice packet.  Sometimes the "convenience factor" just isn't worth it.  I've been making my own Sloppy Joe Mix and taco seasoning for a while now, and I always have the ingredients on hand.  Here is a wonderful Italian Dressing mix:
1 Tablespoon garlic salt
1 Tablespoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon white sugar
2 Tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
¼ teaspoon celery salt

Mix everything together in a bowl.   Store in a tightly sealed container.
To prepare dressing, whisk together 1/4 cup white vinegar, 2/3 cup canola oil, 2 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons of the dry mix.

It tastes best if you let the flavors marry overnight. I don't normally like Italian dressing, but this one is delicious!

MPM 9/27

I have to say that I'm quite proud of myself for last week - we stayed on track.  It seems the norm that something will happen and the menu gets thrown off, but it didn't happen this week.  It felt really good.  Can we go two weeks in a row??

This week is my poor mans/eat from the pantry menu.  The grocery money is gone for the month.  David just went and spent the last of it on two gallons of milk.  But I have no fear!  We're really well stocked and won't be hurting for anything - milk was the only thing we needed.

Monday - Tijuana Torte and green salad with homemade Italian dressing
Tuesday - Pasta Bake, green salad, and homemade French bread
Wednesday - Breakfast for dinner
Thursday - Ham & Cheese Frittata and home fries
Friday - Red beans and rice
Saturday - Leftovers/FFA
Sunday - Chicken and Green Rice (not sure how we'll cook the chicken, BBQ maybe?)

Breakfasts - Pancakes, Eggs, Oatmeal, Baked Oatmeal, Smoothies
Lunches - Sandwiches (PB&J, Bologna, Egg salad), baked potatoes, leftovers
Snacks - Homemade granola bars, hard boiled eggs, banana muffins, yogurt, applesauce, raisins and graham crackers

Friday, September 24, 2010

Keeping my money in my wallet

There is a blog that I check daily.  Multiple times a day.  Well, there are a few of them that I check multiple times a day.  But one in particular - - and especially on Fridays.  She has a weekly thing called "Frugal Friday."  Other bloggers can link up their own blog post with tips for saving money.  Sometimes its a recipe, other times its a helpful tip like reusing your old peanut butter jars.  Whatever it is, it's going to be something frugal.

This morning, I was reading over the quick link notes and thinking to myself "what do I do to save money?"  My answer was simple:

Don't Shower.

Ok, before you jump to any conclusions, hear me out!!!

If I get up in the morning and get a shower first thing, there are a couple things that happen (past being clean.):  1) I do my hair, and 2) I put on makeup.  Those simple things can be a recipe for disaster.  They mean that I'm a pair of jeans away from shopping!  I live in comfy pants while at home.  If I'm post shower, and otherwise "put together", it's a simple change of the pants, grab the keys and purse and out the door I go.

HOWEVER!  When my will power is low and the urge to run to the store to buy this or that hits me...and I'm in pajamas, and my hair is mess and I look like Tammy Faye Baker after crying...I know it's going to take some time and work to get to a point that I could run out the door.  It makes me stop and think about what I was going to go buy.  Do I really need it?  Can it wait until I'm out running other errands?  Am I just caving to instant gratification? Shopping, for me, isn't down the street.  It's at least 20 minutes away for basics, and 45 minutes for everything else.  That's a lot of gas to not be combining multiple errands.

**Now that I've explained that, let me say this...I normally do get up and shower and "get ready"!!  But if I'm struggling to stay home, stay out of the stores and save money, this is something that works for me. =)

Monday, September 20, 2010

MPM 9/20

'Tis that time again - time for the menu...

Monday - Leftover Carne Asada
Tuesday - "Clean-Up" soup
Wednesday - Slow-cooked shredded chipotle pork tacos
Thursday - Stroganoff
Friday - Leftovers/FFA
Saturday - Dinner with my sis
Sunday - Turkey and roasted potatoes

If this wasn't inspiring enough for you, check out

Sunday, September 12, 2010

MPM 9/13

As I sit down to hammer out my menu for the week, I wonder how other people handle their menus.  How do you figure out what you are going to eat?  Does the family have input in the menu?  Does the menu get determined during the weekly family meeting?  Do you cycle through the family's 18 favorite meals and then...start over?  How do you post the menu for the family to see?  What do you do??!

Since I was wondering what all of you do, I thought maybe you wonder how my menu comes to be.  Let me start by saying I am very fortunate that my family will eat anything and be excited and happy about it.  Ah, I ♥ them!  I could just about deep fry a "road apple" and they'd eat it...and like it!  (Funny, that is actually an old family story, and yes, it did happen ~ and LONG before my time!!)  That being said, I don't normally involve them in coming up with what to eat for the week.  If someone requests something or suggests something, I try to incorporate it into the plan for the week.  If I can't get it in this week, I definitely try to get it into next week's menu for sure.  Sometimes it just doesn't work, but I'll try my best to accomodate.

Where do I get my recipes?  Some of them are from family, but mostly I find my recipes from blogs like yours.  I also have a love affair with Taste of Home since their recipes are submitted by real people in real kitchens.  We try at least one new dish each week, sometimes it can be as many as three or four new recipes in a single week.  One thing is for certain -it's never boring!  And there aren't a lot of repeats.  How many ways can we have chicken?  I don't know, but I'm willing to try to find out!  A common "problem" I experience is having too many ideas for a seven day week, so to counter that, I have a list on my desk (oh how I love Post-Its!) that I jot down dishes that I want to do soon.  It keeps those ideas front and center in my mind when I sit down to determine meals for the week.   

Once I have the meal planned out, there is the grocery shopping that has to be done.  I explained here how I handle that phase of menu planning.  That brings us to posting the menu for the family.  I have a magnetic weekly planner that I write down what we'll be eating each day (dinners only).  Each page is three weeks worth of plans.  Once the page is finished, I tear it off and I keep it on my desk, paper clipped to the other menus.  That allows me to look back through them for inspiration.  What haven't we had in a long time?  What were "keepers" that we loved but haven't had again?  I started menu planning October 19, 2008 and I can see all the meals we've had since then.  It's all at my fingertips, and it's what has worked for me.

Now that I've explained that, what are we eating this week?  We are going easy.  Sometimes simple food is the way to go.  Actually, it's how I roll when David is TDY!

Monday - Sub sandwich (Mondays are baseball nights, so I pick up a sub from Winco and call it done)
Tuesday - Chicken...not sure how I'll prep it, but it's thawed and needs to be used
Wednesday - Mac & Cheese with tuna and peas
Thursday - Burritos
Friday - French Toast (but it could turn into eating out since we'll be picking David up about dinner time)
Saturday - Pasta
Sunday - Ground Beef Gyros

There you have it.  How do you plan your meal?  Leave me a comment and share your strategies.  If you want more meal ideas, check out  You'll be glad you did!

Garden Report 9/12

Holy Cow!  Check out the bounty!  I can make a single serving of really hot salsa!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

MPM 9/6

Now that we've been back to school for a few weeks, I thought I was starting to get the hang of this new routine.  Then I found out about fall baseball.  Guess I'm going to have to re-figure my routine.  Hey, don't get me wrong, I'm all for Jordan getting practice and exercise...but who came up with this schedule? A man, I'm sure.......Saturdays from 4-7 pm and Mondays from 5:30-7:30pm?  Really?  Looks like we're going to be eating really early or really late on baseball days.  Goodie. 

Ooh, I'm trying to plan breakfasts better these days.  In the past, they just ate cold cereal for breakfast, but I'm trying to actually fix them something.  They need brain power, and I figure it starts with a good, solid breakfast.  Right?! So I'll be fixing pancakes, apple pancakes, eggs and toast and oatmeal - in no particular order!  As for dinners, we'll be trying three new recipes this week.  I sure hope they are as yummy as they sound!

Monday - BBQ Tri-tip sandwiches on sourdough rolls
Tuesday - Tijuana Torte (double batch and  freeze)
Wednesday - Sausage Crepes (double batch and freeze)
Thursday - Lemon Chicken (new recipe)
Friday - Mexican Potato Casserole (new recipe)
Saturday - Leftovers/FFA
Sunday - Pizza Bites (new recipe)

For more menus, check out