Monday, April 30, 2012

This Week’s Menu

Manicotti (from the freezer), french bread, salad
Enchiladas (from the freezer), tortilla chips & salsa, salad
Pantry/Freezer soup (using foods from my freezer & pantry), dinner rolls, salad

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chicken Freezer Recipe Reviews

At the beginning of the month I shared 2 chicken freezer meals here on my blog. Since that time we have tried them both and I wanted to give you a review on the recipes. The first one was …

Peach Chicken – for the freezer 
(the picture seems a bit off in color.. I was using my son's camera and I guess I still need to figure out how it works a little better! )

This recipe can be found here:

My family and I really enjoyed this!! The flavor was not too sweet .. it was very yummy. I served it with fried potatoes (I had some leftover baked potatoes that I used) and a salad.

The second meal was…

Cajun Chicken – for the freezer

This recipe can be found here:

This one was sooo good! It was very flavorful. I served it with brown rice pilaf and a salad. We all enjoyed it!

Both recipes will be on my menu in the future!

Monday, April 23, 2012

This Week’s Menu

Better late than never..  been a great but busy day.. finally have a chance to sit and post the weekly menu..

Spaghetti, French bread, salad
Crockpot meatloaf, mashed potatoes, salad
Chili bean soup, chips & salsa, salad


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tomato Starts – Update

My tomato plants are growing great!! I reached the point of “2 true leaves” and it was time to repot them. I did that this afternoon.

As you can see the plants are really growing! And had their first 2 true leaves (the sign that it is time to repot them)…

I began by removing the little mesh bag from the seed starting pellets…

I put them in pots that were 2 1/2 inches wide, 3 1/2 inches tall…

Then filled them with potting mix. I put the plants in the little pots and try to make sure I cover them with soil all the way up to the leaves. I have read this helps make a stronger root base…

I chose the plants that looked the strongest and healthiest. I had a few good plants that I had to dispose of because I don’t have any place to continue to grown them. My little growing space only holds so many plants. If I had more space I would keep them and give plants to friends so they did not go to waste.. but since I don’t, I get rid of them..

When they were all repotted I put them back under the lights and put water in the trays …

Garden planting time is still a little over a month away and I will be repotting these plants once more in a few weeks.   I'll keep you posted! :)


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Homestead Moments for the Week

Here is a look at a few homestead moments from this week..

On Sunday we were blessed with a dry day (the second of two) and the garden was dry enough to rototill. I cleaned up some of the plants that were left behind in October and Tobin rototilled. I am so excited to get the garden season going!!

Muffins.. I had a few overripe bananas that needed to be used up. I made a double batch of my banana muffin recipe:  and used 3 large bananas and added a handful of chocolate chips to them. They make a great easy breakfast or a quick snack. I put a lot of them in the freezer.. muffins freeze very well…


Ever have a slow running drain? Well my bathtub drain was draining a bit too slow. I had Isaac remove the overflow and clean it up but it still drained slow. So I poured a ½ cup of baking soda down the drain and then poured some vinegar down the drain (did not measure.. just poured some in).. and it fizzed a lot..Then I followed this with a tea kettle full of boiling water.. and now the drain works just fine!! Yea for naturally solving problems! 


Changes again on the homestead! My daughter Emily landed herself a fantastic accounting job! We are super excited for her! It really was a God “thing”.. She was interviewed first on the phone, then in person and then finally a third interview with the man that had been interviewing her and 2 other accountants for the company.. the first man that interviewed her was rooting for her.. he felt she was perfect for the job.. There were 2 other applicants. The accounts wanted one of the other two (they had more experience than Emily). Then they all interviewed her.. it lasted an hour.. and in the end the other accounts said.. “she’s the one”!!!!! Two hours after Emily left the interview she was called and asked when she could start!! The job is a 2 ½ hour drive from our home. She has now moved in with a friend and is only a short drive from the job.. so my household goes down by one… Life does move forward!!

Finally for the week.. This morning I attended our county republican convention. Last month we had a caucus (our state did not have a presidential primary). I was nominated and voted to be one of my precincts delegates. All the delegates today voted on what 3 people to send to the state convention. I was very happy with the outcome. My two children, Jacob and Leanne, had been voted in as alternate delegates and they also attended with me today. It was a fantastic experience to see our political process in action. I was very happy to be a part of it. 

That is it from the homestead. Today is a beautiful day out and I have my littlest granddaughter here and we are heading outside to enjoy the heat and sunshine!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Isaac's Ballroom Dancing

I wanted to post this for fun.  My 14 year old son Isaac is a ballroom dancer.  He is currently practicing with his dance partner Carlie for an upcoming ballroom dance competition.  This is a video that was taken of him and Carlie last night.....

Monday, April 16, 2012

This Week’s Menu

Navy bean soup (using leftover ham bone), dinner rolls, salad – This was scheduled for yesterday meal but a few less kids in the house and few leftovers in fridge meant that I did not need to make dinner.  So the meal was moved to Monday)
Enchiladas (beef & bean filled tortillas from the freezer), tortilla chips & salsa, salad
Crockpot BBQ meatballs (meatballs from freezer), crockpot mac & cheese, salad
Peach Chicken (from freezer), fried potatoes, salad
Tuna patties, brown rice pilaf, salad

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Freezer Cooking for April (part 2)

Today my freezer cooking session was hamburger. It was a little more time consuming than yesterdays chicken session but well worth my efforts.

Yesterday I purchased 12lbs of hamburger from Costco. Here is what I did with it..

I started out using 10lbs of it to make crockpot meatloaf and meatballs. I do these items regularly as they both seem to be staples in my home. I have posted on this before so I won’t go into a lot of detail. I made two crockpot meatloaves. You can find my post that I describe how I shape them and how I cook them in the crockpot here: 

I began by mixing up my meatloaf recipe. You can find my recipe here:  I use this same recipe for meatloaf and meatballs. I tripled the recipe (tripling the recipe would be 9lbs of hamburger but I used 10lbs and tossed in a few extra veggies). 

I used 2 ½ lbs for each of my 2 meatloaves and put them in freezer bags..

The rest of the mixture was used to make meatballs. I put the cooked meatballs on trays and put them in the freezer to flash freeze. Tomorrow I will transfer them to gallon size zip lock bags. This allows me to pull out only as many as I need for a meal. My family’s favorite meatball meal is crockpot bbq  meatballs. I use the sauce recipe and follow the directions for cooking from this recipe: 

With the remaining 2lbs of hamburger I made enchiladas. I am not freezing these with the sauce on them as not only does it take it a lot of freezer space to have pans of enchiladas in the freezer but the tortillas can get soggy after they are cooked and that is not real appealing. Here is how I did this..

Enchilada Filling
2lbs hamburger
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cups cooked beans (you can use pintos, red or black beans. I used 1 quart jar of my home canned pinto beans: )
1T chili powder
1t cumin
1t salt
½ t pepper

Cook the hamburger and onion until the onion is soft and the meat is no longer pink. Add the beans and spices and stir to combine.

After the filling was done I softened my tortillas in a little coconut oil. I also grated 1lb of cheddar cheese. Once all these ingredients were ready it was time to make enchiladas..

I put a spoonful of filling and a little cheese on each tortilla

I rolled it up and carefully laid it, seam side down, on a tray..

I continued to do this until the tray was full…

When all was done this mixture filled 60 (5 dozen) tortillas..

I put the trays in the freezer to flash freeze. Tomorrow I will put them in freezer bags and can pull out as many as needed for a meal.

When I make enchiladas I put the filled tortillas (frozen) in a 9x13 pan and then cover them with enchilada sauce. You can find my enchilada sauce recipe here:  I sprinkle grated cheddar cheese over the top and bake at 350 until everything is hot and bubbly. This may take 45 minutes or so using frozen enchiladas.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Freezer Cooking for April (part 1)

I did a quick survey of my freezer foods this last week and saw I was down to 1 more meal of stuffed manicotti and 1 more meal of ranch chicken (which we had tonight), several quarts of veggie stock and 5 packages of hamburger mix. It was time to prepare a few more meals for the freezer!

Today was my Costco grocery shopping day and I purchased the necessary ingredients for several freezer meals. These are not complete meals but more like meal starters. Years ago I did “Once a Month Cooking” and found it way to exhausting. So now what I prefer is to prepare items for the freezer that make cooking day a little easier and less stressful.

In this blog post I will share my first 3 freezer meals.
This first freezer cooking session was chicken. I bought approx. 9lbs of chicken legs. These meals go together pretty quickly. My house was quiet this evening (hubby at work and kids all moving in their own directions) so I put on my favorite CD and got to work. I had all 3 meals in the freezer and the kitchen cleaned up as the CD hit the last song! Ha, ha!

The first meal was Peach Chicken. Here is the recipe:

Peach Chicken – for the freezer
2 ½ to 3lbs chicken pieces (I used legs, but thighs or breasts will work as well)
2/3 cup orange juice
¼ cup soy sauce
¾ cup peach jam (you can sub apricot or even mango jam for the peach, I actually used peach/mango/orange jam that I purchased from Costco today)

Put the chicken pieces into a gallon size zip lock bag. In a small bowl combine sauce ingredients. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Seal the bag and squish it around to cover the chicken. Label and freeze. The night before you want the meal put it in the fridge to defrost. The meat will sit and marinate as it defrosts. During the day you can flip the bag of chicken over a few times to allow the meat to be well marinated. At dinner time pour the contents of the bag into a large pan (11x15) and bake at 350 for 45 to 60 minutes. The time will vary depending on what type of chicken pieces you use. When you poke the meat with a fork and the juices run clear then it should be done cooking. Serve this meal with some rice pilaf and a nice green salad for a yummy and easy meal.

Assemble your ingredients:

Put the chicken in the gallon size bag:

Mix up the sauce and pour it over the chicken:

Seal the bag and squish it around and put in the freezer. I did this twice…

The second meal I made was Cajun Chicken.

Cajun Chicken – For the Freezer
2 ½ to 3lbs chicken pieces (such as legs, thighs or breasts)
1 small onion, chopped
½ green pepper, chopped

2T olive oil
1 t (heaping) minced garlic
1 can (14oz) diced tomatoes
1T red wine vinegar
1t dried basil
½ t salt
½ pepper
1 to 3t hot pepper sauce (such as the brand Tabasco), optional

Put chicken pieces in a gallon size zip type bag.  chop up veggies. In a small bowl assemble sauce ingredients.. Label and freeze. The night before you want to serve this meal take it out of the freezer and let it defrost in the fridge. The chicken will marinate in the seasonings as it defrosts. To cook pour contents of bag into a large pan (11x15 size) and bake at 350 until chicken is done. This can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour depending on the type of chicken pieces used. Serve with mashed potatoes or cornbread and a salad.
Assemble the ingredients (the onion I show in the pic is a very large onion so I only used half of it):

Put the chicken pieces in the gallon size zip bag and chop up the veggies…

Put the veggies in the bag with the chicken..

Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl..

Pour it over the chicken, seal the bag and squish it around so the sauce covers the chicken. Put in freezer..

Tomorrow I will do the hamburger meals…

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tomato Plant Starts – 2 Week Update

Two weeks ago I planted my tomato seeds and put them under the lights. I posted about that here: .  They are doing well!  I planted 144 seeds and at this point all but 14 have come up.  I always figure some seeds won’t make it but each year I'm surprised to see how many actually do. They are a little leggy which I believe is because they got a little too warm a few times, this has happened before but in the end they always survive anyway.  Here is what they are looking like this evening:

I suspect it in another week or so I will be transplanting them into bigger pots.    Some of the plants are beginning to show their first two true leaves (that is the point when I transplant them, the bigger leaves are not considered 'true' leaves)…

I'll keep you updated! 


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

One Ham, Five Meals

My Menu for the week has a couple of changes in it due to having more leftover ham than I had thought I would have.  Here is how I ended up with 5 meals from my ham.

On Easter I baked a large bone-in ham that I had purchased from Costco. It was about 13 to 15lbs.

The first meal was baked ham that we had on Easter….

The second meal was the next night, we had leftovers of the exact same meal. On that night we finished off all the side dishes of the Easter meal, except the ham.

By Tuesday it was time to cut up and divide up the rest of the ham. I cut up most of the meat and ended up with almost 8 cups of meat. I then put the bone that still had meat attached to it and all its juices into a gallon size zip lock bag and labeled it for the freezer.

I then made Baked Macaroni & Cheese with ham. I sautéed some sliced onions in butter and added 3 generous cups of ham to it and heat it up. Then I assembled the rest of the meal, adding the ham/onions to the macaroni. I baked it according to the recipe. I made a salad to go with this.

Here is the recipe for the mac & cheese..

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
3 cups whole wheat macaroni, cooked (I had some veggie pasta that I used instead and added about 4 cups of pasta since this was our main dish and not a side dish)
3 cups milk
4 cups grated cheddar cheese, reserve 1 cup to sprinkle on the top
3 eggs
2 t salt (or according to taste) (since ham is already salty I cut the salt in half to 1t)
1 t pepper (or according to taste)

Put cooked macaroni in a 9x13 pan. Combine milk, cheese, eggs, salt and pepper. Mix very well and pour over macaroni. Sprinkle reserved cheese over the top. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

The 4th dinner was Crockpot Sweet Potatoes & Ham Soup. I peeled and chopped up about 2lbs of sweet potatoes and used the remaining ham in the recipe (3+ cups)..

here is the recipe..

Crockpot Sweet Potatoes & Ham Soup
3 to 4 cups chopped, cooked ham
2lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes (14oz)
2 cans green beans (I used 1 quart of my home canned green beans), do not drain
¼ cup Sucanat or brown sugar
1T chili powder
1t cumin
salt & pepper to taste (I found this did not need any extra salt added as ham is salty)

Combine all ingredients in crockpot and cook for about 6 to 8 hours on low or until the sweet potatoes are tender.

I served this meal tonight with a green salad and homemade biscuits.

Finally the 5th dinner (which I have not made yet, it is on the menu for Sunday) is Navy Bean Soup. I will use the ham bone and add all the juices as well to the beans when I cook the beans. I have made this meal many, many times and it is a family favorite. You can find the recipe for this one here:

Monday, April 9, 2012

This Week's Menu

Leftovers – Last week when I made my weekly menu I totally forgot that Sunday was Easter.  Yesterday I made a big Easter dinner (ham, potato salad, sweet potatoes, green salad, hot cross buns, strawberries) and today I have a ton of leftovers!
Macaroni & cheese w/ham (leftover ham), salad
Ranch chicken (from the freezer), baked potatoes, salad
Spaghetti, French bread, salad
Navy bean soup (using leftover ham bone), dinner rolls, salad

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

"It costs God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things: but to convert rebellious wills cost him crucifixion." CS Lewis

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Canning Chicken Noodle-less Soup

Today was one of those busy days that it seemed I was moving from the time my feet hit the floor until this evening.. But, I got so much done and that is a great feeling! :) One of my accomplishments today was canning 14 jars of chicken noodle-less soup. I call it “noodle-less” because you can’t can noodles. They end up falling apart. So I canned the chicken, veggies and broth. When I go to use the soup I will bring it to a boil and then add a handful of noodles (any type of pasta will work) and cook it until the noodles are done. Because I plan to add the pasta after the fact I wanted to make sure there was enough chicken broth to do this. So I only filled my jars about half to two thirds with chicken and veggies and then filled with chicken broth. Here is how I did this….

I started off with 2 chickens that were a total weight of about 10lbs. I put them in my 14 quart stock pot…

I then added 2 gallons of water..

And 3 tablespoons salt..

I brought this to a boil and let is simmer all night, a total of about 12 hours.

I took the chicken out of the stock this morning, let it cool and then took the meat off the bone. I chopped up the meat and measured it. I had about 12 cups of chicken. I then peeled and sliced 3 pounds of carrots, 2 large onions and 1 stock (is that what it is called?) of celery…

Then I filled my quart size canning jars. I put a generous 3/4 cup of chicken meat in each jar, topped it with some carrots, onions and celery until the jar was 1/2 to 2/3 full.

I then filled the jar with hot, boiling, chicken broth (the liquid from cooking the chicken). I did not add any salt because I had salted the broth and it was just fine…

I filled 7 jars and canned it for 90 minutes at 10lbs of pressure. I had enough chicken, veggies and broth to then can another 7 jars (14 jars total)…

I know we will enjoy this chicken soup as a quick lunch or dinner. 

Having my own home canned convenience food is incredibly helpful!!