Thursday, December 30, 2010

January Menu

Well here is this month’s menu!  I have a few planned leftover days because I wanted less time in the kitchen so I could focus on getting my house organized.  But planning meals for my family is the first step in organization. So here are the meals planned for January….

1stmeatloaf, mashed potatoes, salad
2ndchili, cornbread, salad
3rdegg rolls, chicken chow mien 
4th – fish tacos, Spanish rice, salad
5th yummy pinto beans (make extra for tomorrow), homemade dinner rolls, salad
6th – leftovers
7th split pea soup made with ham bone saved (frozen) from Christmas dinner, dinner rolls, salad
8th Cajun baked chicken, cheesy rice, salad
9th – spaghetti, French bread, salad
10th – kielbasa cabbage & pasta, salad
11th salmon patties, garlic roasted potatoes, coleslaw
12th – tacos with all the trimmings
13th – crockpot beef stew (make extra), dinner rolls, salad
14th – leftovers
15th tuna noodle casserole, salad
16th lasagna, French bread, salad
17th – tuna melts, tomato soup, salad
18th – Pizza – Jacob’s birthday!!
19th Nachos for a Crowd, salad
20thpotato sausage soup (make extra), salad
21st – leftovers
22nd - white bean chicken chili (make extra), corn bread, salad
23rd – leftovers
24th – hot dogs, coleslaw, chips
25th – hamburgers, chips, coleslaw
26th chicken fajitas, salad
27th salmon chowder (make extra), biscuits, salad
28th – leftovers
29thbeef noodle soup (make extra), dinner rolls, salad
30th – leftovers
31stcrockpot chicken & gravy, salad

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's Almost the New Year!!!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I did not get a chance to post before the holiday like I had wanted to. Life just became a whirlwind of busyness. Prior to Christmas day we made a spontaneous trip up to Port Townsend, WA to visit Tobin’s parents. It was such a nice trip and we all enjoyed the break from our routine. It is always great to visit with the family.

The girls and I got right to work after we got back to prepare food for our Christmas dinner. Leanne and Sierra handled all the cookie baking and helped me with our Christmas dinner. This year Tobin had to work over the holiday so it was a little different than usual. We enjoyed what time we did have together. We had our big meal on Christmas Eve and then he left for work. We opened gifts in the morning when he got home. We had a relaxing day and munched on all the leftovers from our Christmas dinner. Later in the afternoon the kids all headed into town to see a movie.

I got all the Christmas decorations put away a couple days later and got my house back to normal. I like to do it soon after Christmas because there is just something refreshing about going into the new year with life in order. I do love starting a new year! It just inspires fresh goals and it inspires me to clean and organize my house! The winter months just seem ideal for digging into the closets and storage areas and going through the “stuff”. I plan on purging and eliminating as much as I can! ~smile~

The first thing on my organization list has been getting my January menu plan made up. I am fine tuning it now and will be posting it very soon. The new menu calendar for January is posted on my site. You can find it here:  I post a new calendar every month. You can write your menus on it and hang it on the fridge to help keep you organized! I find having my meals planned is the one of the best things I can do to stay organized!

I plan on chatting this month about organization! I hope to touch on everything from organizing our day to our houses.. Lord willing I will have the time to share with you all!!

Hope you have a blessed day on your homesteads today!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Updates from the Homestead

Hard to believe the month is flying by so quickly! Yesterday my daughters Sierra and Leanne and I went shopping and I finished up the last of my Christmas shopping. I still have one more gift to get out in the mail and now a lot of wrapping to do! :) I got my daughter Emily’s box packed and took it to the post office.. and spent half my life savings mailing it to her! LOL.. it was not that bad, but it was a bit of sticker shock! What a mama won’t do for her babes.. you know? ~smile~ .. But the best part of it all is she got it in one week and was just thrilled! It was worth it all to know how excited she was to receive all the goodies.

We have had a flu bug going through the house. It’s been the cough, fever, achy muscle type thing. I think we are all pretty much past it now. We rarely get this sick; in fact I told Tobin that it has been years since I can remember the whole household being sick with something more than that common cold. I guess our immune systems were due for a workout! LOL.. I just kept lots of herbal tea brewing, and encouraged everyone to drink lots of water and I stocked up on oranges for some extra vitamin C.  It is nice to be past this now, it is not the greatest time of the year to be sick.

We finally got our Christmas tree up and decorated it last night….

Always makes me feel more festive once the tree is up.

This week I am focusing on getting some Christmas baking done. I will share with you as I get it done.. I need to get my cookies baked and in the freezer. Dessert for Christmas Day is always cookies. I bake several types and freeze them so they will be ready for Christmas.

I thought I would leave this blog post with my latest favorite recipe, Fish Tacos. I absolutely love them! And so does the family. I also found something at Costco that I am pretty happy with.. You bake them tortillas. On the down side they are white flour. I use to buy whole wheat tortillas from Azure Standard and really loved them. However for reasons I am not completely aware of the cost of the tortillas almost doubled. I could not bring myself to pay $40 a case for them. It was just too much for my budget. I started looking for alternatives and what I found at the grocery store is, in my opinion, just yucky. I read the ingredients list on the tortillas on the shelf and they are loaded with junk.. so that was not an option. I can make them, but right now I needed something simpler.. So I was intrigued when I saw these tortillas at Costco. They had 4 ingredients, flour, oil, salt, water.. that kind of made up for some of the fact that the flour is not whole wheat.. LOL.. and they taste yummy! You fry them up yourself to cook them when you need them. They also freeze just fine. I froze some of them and they were fine after they defrosted.

Now onto the recipe…

Fish Tacos
3 lbs white fish (I use tilapia, but any type of white fish will work) this amount was what I needed to feed my family. This recipe is very versatile you can use less fish to suit your own needs
½ of a large onion, chopped
3T chili powder
3t cumin
1T lime juice
salt, to taste
taco trimmings – lettuce, tomatoes, sliced olives, avocado is good too..
flour tortilla
Cheese – I think cheese is optional, I like mine without cheese

Chop up fish into bite size chunks…

Cook fish and onion in frying pan until the fish is done and the onion is soft. Add the spices and lime juice and a little salt to taste..

Now serve like you would regular tacos….

And enjoy! These are easy to make and taste great!!

That is all from the homestead for now.. :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

This and That

Shipping food gifts outside the US..
One of my commenter’s left me a bit of interesting advice on shipping food items. When I wrote the article I was thinking about sending gifts to family members in the states. If you have family members in other countries you will want to check with the Post Office to see what kind of restrictions there are for the country you are sending food items to. For instance, I checked for Denmark and found I can’t send powdered milk or products made with it. No idea why, but now I know I can’t send my daughter any cocoa mix.

Speaking of Denmark
I don’t think I have ever shared my daughter Emily’s blog with you yet. She blogs about her life and opinions on issues. Currently she is blogging about her experience in Denmark. If you would like to check it out you can find her blog here:  She has recently posted some beautiful pics of Copenhagen and the snowy winter weather she is experiencing!

Cookie Making
Well, it is that time of year for making cookies!! I am thinking when we decorate our tree we should also have a little fun baking and decorating some cookies. Last year my friend Jennie share with me a recipe for Sour Cream Cookies. They were easy to make and we had so much fun decorating them. This makes a huge amount of cookies, but they freeze beautifully. We enjoyed eating them when we made them and then I froze the rest for my cookie platter for Christmas dinner (you can see the pic of the cookies at the top of my blog). Here is Jennie’s recipe:

Sour Cream Cookies
4 cups sugar
1 1/3 cup butter (approx. 2 sticks plus 6 TBSP), softened
4 eggs
2 cups sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. baking soda
9 cups flour
Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Cream together the sugar and butter. Add eggs, sour cream, vanilla and almond extract to the sugar/butter mixture. Mix. Add to that the baking soda and flour. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets and bake 8-10 minutes. This is a doubled recipe. A single recipe uses 2/3 cup butter. Recipe makes approx. 12 dozen cookies.

8 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 stick butter, softened
2 dashes of salt
2 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla
milk to right consistency
You can divide the frosting into 3 parts before adding the flavoring. Flavor 1 vanilla & color pink. Flavor 1 almond and color green. Flavor 1 maple and leave white. Sprinkle with chopped nuts and flaked coconut.

Congrats to my daughter in law, Lolot!!

Yesterday Lolot celebrated one year here in the USA!! It is so hard to believe she has been here a whole year now. The time sure has flown by quickly. I remember picking her up at the airport last year and then the whirlwind planning of her and my son’s wedding. Lolot has adjusted to life here in this country and life with our family so well. She told me the other day when we were talking about her one year anniversary that it has been an adjustment but it has also been made easier due to a loving family here for her.. kind of melted my mama’s heart.. :) She is currently working while my son continues to go to school.

Today’s To-Do List:

I have a busy Friday planned right here at home:
4 or 5 loads of laundry
Vacuuming, sweeping and mopping
Give my son Isaac a haircut – it is overdue!
Work on my Christmas card list – I need to get them out soon
Finish up the school week : check papers, give a spelling test, etc..
Dinner and food preps

That is all from the homestead today.. hope you have a great weekend! :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Options for Shipping Homemade Food Gifts

I got an email from a nice lady who had a great question for me.. this is the question…

Could you please make some suggestions on food gifts to mail? Like a lot of people, my gift budget is stretched, and I'd love to make some goodies for my family to ship. But what makes a good "shipper"?

Great question.. I have family in Illinois.. and over the years my nieces have said they always look forward to the Christmas box from Auntie Crystal.. (~smile~) .. I put a whole lot of homemade love and goodness into those boxes and I will share what I have done and what I think works the best.. and why I choose what I do..

Cookies.. you know, what is Christmas without cookies.. but in my experience cookies don’t really ship all that well .. they break and fall apart and by the time they reach the recipient they are at least a couple days old or more. Cookies taste the best fresh out of the oven. My solution has been to send cookie mixes.. give them what they need to bake a couple dozen delicious homemade cookie and enjoy them fresh out of the oven. I don’t have a cookie mix per se.. I simply take my favorite cookie recipe and combine the dry ingredients and pack them into a zip type bag.. then I write on a card what they need to add and mixing and baking instructions. You can find my fav cookie recipes here: 

Same goes for quick breads… take your favorite recipe and combine the dry ingredients and let them know what they need to add and the directions to bake. If you want some help on this one I have my pumpkin recipe and banana bread recipe on my site complete with printable cards that can be attached to help them finish up the bread. You can find the pumpkin bread recipe here: pumpkinbread.htm  and the card for this here:  and the banana bread recipe here:  and the card here:

Candy: I find candy ships better than cookies do. What I have shipped is buckeyes (recipes online), and peppermint ice (recipe here:  ) and I am sure things like peanut brittle would work too.. With candies just make sure to wrap them in plastic wrap so they don’t stick together. And then they can be packed in zip type bags also.

Pretzels.. chocolate covered pretzels are easy to make and inexpensive. You will need the melty type chocolate (or chocolate bark).. melt it and dip your pretzels in it and let them dry on foil.

Granola.. it makes a great homemade gift. I have made a big batch and divided it up into zip type bags. They pack easily into boxes and don’t add a lot of weight or take up a lot of space.

Homemade jam is another great one. Yes it does add weight with the jars (but I will discuss that in a minute on shipping your goods to your family). So you didn’t make any jam this last summer? Don’t worry.. you can always make some grape jelly from a can of concentrated grape juice. Instructions are here:

Cocoa Mix… I always sent cocoa mix.. and my nieces still tell me how much they looked forward to that. My recipe is here:  You can also add a few chocolate covered spoons for mixing the cocoa with.. they are easy to make. Use plastic spoons and dip them in melty type chocolate and lay them on foil to dry. If you want you can crush up a few candy canes and sprinkle that on the spoons while they dry. Makes for a little extra chocolate taste in their cocoa with a hint of mint..

Bean Soup Mixes… the internet is full of them. But again, what I do is take my favorite recipe (usually my chili bean soup recipe: ) and mix the beans and spices and give directions on what to add and how to cook.

If you sew.. add a homemade apron to the box.. :)

Now for shipping… I have come to love the post offices Priority Mail boxes.. the boxes are free, the shipping is not dependent on the weight of the box. You can send a medium size box for $10.20 (or so.. it is less expensive when you buy the postage online than if you take it into the post office) and a large box for $12.95. So weight is not really a big issue. You can go to the post office and pick up your Priority Mail box for free.. take it home and pack it up..

There you have it.. I am sure I have mailed other items but that is what comes to my mind this evening.. hope it gives you some ideas on sending your kitchen goodness to your family..

Thank you K for the email question and the idea to make it a blog post.. :)