Monday, November 30, 2015

Menu Monday!

It has been a very busy few days in our home. My daughter Emily and her husband flew in on Thursday, Friday my daughter Sierra and her boyfriend came up to the house. We had a big houseful of family with lots of visiting time. I spent Friday preparing food in advance. On Saturday we enjoyed our holiday dinner. My daughter Hannah and her husband and children were also here. This morning everyone has gone home and my house will now settle into a more normal routine. I really enjoyed all the wonderful family time and will share a bit tomorrow on our holiday. Due to spending all my time with my family it is only now I'm sitting down to focus on the week ahead and what I'll be cooking in my kitchen.

We still have a few Thanksgiving leftovers and some leftover food from the day before. Tonight we'll be finishing all the food off for dinner.

The rest of week is looking like this...

Simple, easy and filling. I'll serve salad and garlic bread with this.

Not sure what type yet but I'm leaning towards sour cream enchiladas. I have some sour cream in the fridge that I need to use up. Tortilla chips, salsa and a salad will be served on the side.

Creamy Chicken Veggie Soup
I shared this recipe a couple weeks ago. It was delish. I also have a lot of veggies to use up and the recipe is so versitile that it will take care of that job. I'll serve biscuits or french bread with this.

I think that should do it!


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!!!


There are some businesses that just can't take a day off.. and the airlines is one of them.. it is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week type of business... they make it possible for those flying to spend time with their families to get to where they are going.. A shout out to pilots and mechanics and flight crews... that can't be home with their families today.. and such is the life of my hubby (an aircraft mechanic).. but we will have our dinner on Saturday!! :D .. Have a blessed day with your family!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Striving for a Heart of Gratefulness

This is a repost from a couple years ago..  but my feelings are still the same!!  Be grateful, be thankful for all of God's blessings..  the big ones and the little tiny ones..  God's love is everywhere when we take the time to look and see them.. 

Thanksgiving always means to me a time to stop and give thanks. I’ve seen many lists on the things people are thankful for in their life. I have my own list as well. But I have really been contemplating something beyond this. I’ve been contemplating and thinking about a heart of gratefulness.

How is this different you might ask? Well I’ll share my thoughts. In my mind a true heart of gratefulness goes beyond my list of what I’m thankful for. It is a deeper meaning that I am going to strive for in my life. I looked it like this.. if you were walking through a desert of heat you would be so thankful, deeply grateful for every drop of water you had. If you stood next to a huge lake, water would be taken for granted. How many things in my life do I take for granted? 

It’s not about looking at those less fortunate than I am and realizing my blessings. It is choosing every day to be honestly grateful for all my blessings. I remember something from several years ago. I was driving with my van full of children to Walmart. Now, I live in a beautiful area. It is so beautiful that is considered a National Scenic Area (The Columbia River Gorge). I’m driving to Walmart and my kids are being noisy and my mind is focused on my trip to Walmart, what I need to do after I get home, food to prepare and chores to be done. Then it hits me. It is a completely beautiful July day. The sun is shining, the sky is an intense blue, the trees and mountains beside me are a deep, rich, vibrant green and brown the Columbia River to my left is stunning in its colors and calmness. If a tourist was driving through they would have been in incredible awe by the beauty of it all. But on that day for me, up until that point, it was just how I got to Walmart. I realized that in the hectic pace of my life, I take things for granted. The beauty of God’s creation right in front of me goes unnoticed due to focus on other things. 


How many other things go unnoticed in my life? The laugh of a child, the quiet of an afternoon, the noise of a houseful of grandchildren, a cup of coffee shared with a good friend, the rain making my area so green and beautiful, the hard work of my husband to provide for us, a load of clean and folded laundry, the wood stove simmering and keeping us warm, the work of my husband and sons who gather the wood in and stack it and bring it into the house so I can make a fire and keep us warm and toasty all winter long, a pot of soup on a cold winters day, the blessings of being a stay at home wife and mother, a clean kitchen, dirty dishes (as they say it shows I have someone to cook for), a child who learns a hard concept in his/her school day, a quiet evening spent with my hubby, new toothbrushes, dirty windows that show the handprints of little grandchildren who’ve been at my house, a barn full of hay to feed my goats for the winter, and my list could go on and on, the big stuff and the little stuff. Lord may I never take any of it for granted. 


So many things go way beyond my list, it is a daily heart that wakes each morning and says, thank you Lord, I am alive today, and I have so much to be thankful for that it can bring me to tears. If you’ve ever lost a loved one or been close to losing your own life, then you know how incredibly grateful you can be to simply wake up in the morning and step into the day ready to tackle whatever God has in store. Let me live daily with a heart that is truly grateful to Lord and chose not to take my life for granted. As a Peanuts cartoon I saw the other day said, “What if today I was just grateful for everything”. That is my desire, to strive towards a daily heart of true gratefulness to my Lord and Savior. Not all days will be great days, some will be hard, some will be sad, some will try my patients, but every day there is beauty, there are blessings and there is a Lord that has blessed me with so many beautiful simple things. Lord may I never take any of it for granted.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Menu Monday!

This last week with the crazy power outages (we had 2 more after the one I posted about).. I've been afraid to plan to many meals. Loosing power for long periods of time means no cooking. We ate sandwiches for a few meals and I went out to Costco one night and bought pizza. Praying that this weeks goes much better.

We are having our Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday, after the holiday. My daughter Emily and her hubby Brandon will be arriving on Thursday but my hubby has to work and so does my daughter Sierra. But that is OK.. we are flexible. I typically like doing my holiday dinner on a different day anyway. So it works well for us.

I'll be planning regular meals for the week, a little extra because of my kids coming and then our holiday dinner. I'm keeping the menu super simple this week so I can focus on holiday preparations and more importantly, my family arriving and spending time with them.

Today my plan is simple. We are having fish sticks from Costco and tater tots and salad from a bag. Can't get much more simple than that.

For the rest of the week, this is my plan:

Chicken Chili
Made in the crockpot, super easy, super simple and enjoyed by all. I'll make cornbread and a salad.

Meatball Sub Sandwiches
Frozen meatballs from Costco and a jar of store bought sauce, in the crockpot for about 4 or 5 hours. Serve on sub sandwich bread, top with cheese and serve coleslaw on the side.

BBQ Pork Roast
Again, in the crockpot, with bbq sauce. Served with rice and green beans.

The Big Meal
We are traditionalists when it comes to Thanksgiving. I've served the same menu for years and my kids would not feel it was Thanksgiving with the traditional meals. Our Thanksgiving looks like this:

Stuffing (some in the bird, some in the crockpot)
Mashed potatoes (I make them the day before and put them in the crockpot in the morning to be ready and warm by meal time)
Sweet potatoes
Green bean casserole
Cabbage salad (this is new, my daughter Emily is making it)
24 hour fruit salad
Dinner rolls
Cranberry sauce
Pumpkin pie
Apple pie
Pecan pie

How are your Thanksgiving plans coming along? 

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Big Wind Storm

What a crazy couple of days. On Tuesday we woke up to rain and by the afternoon the wind was picking up. Then the wind really started blowing. It seemed to just get worse. Windy days this time of the year are normal but this was above normal.

At around 3:pm we lost power. At around 5:pm it came back on for a few minutes. We heard a big boom and the power was out again. We assumed it must have been a transformer. Around 7:pm the power came back on. But we started noticing the electricity doing weird things, the lights would get super bright and then dim really low. The fan on our wood stove would speed up and then almost stop. We called the power company but they were so busy they just told us they'd let someone know.

Around the same time we heard another big (kaboom) noise, we weren't sure what it was and it was dark out so we could not see anything.

By the next morning Tobin saw the reason for our strange power issue.. a tree had fallen and we had a line down. He was able to get a hold of the power company and talk to them and they told us to turn our power off at the breaker. They said it was neutral line and what we were experiencing was a 'brown out'. So we shut everything off and waited for them.

They finally arrived at 7:pm, about 28 hours after it all began and hooked up our line and we had full power again. On the downside, due to the brown out, we lost 2 microwaves and a printer.

We discovered, in the morning, what the big kaboom noise we had heard the night before. A huge walnut tree that we had down by our garden had literally been blown down, pulled out of the ground, by the windstorm. We lost a few trees but this was by far the biggest one.

Trying to see all things from a positive light we both just said, well.. now the garden will have more sunshine, our view is opened up and we have next years firewood!! :)

Here are a few pics of the downed tree....

Better for this storm to come in this week than next week when I'll have a house full of people for the holiday!!


Monday, November 16, 2015

Menu Monday!!


It's Monday!! Hope you all are ready to tackle the week. I have a lot of my thoughts on planning our Thanksgiving dinner. I'll have 6 of my kids here with family, grandkids, and friends. I haven't done a head count yet. I just plan on making a lot of food! Ha, ha!!

But in the meantime I still need to keep my weekly menu planning done too.....

I ended up not needing all the meals I planned last week. So one meal will be a repeat on the menu this week.

I made the chicken pot pie yesterday with enough made for leftovers tonight. So that is what's happening on Monday...

For the rest of the week...

Same plan as last week. With tortilla chips and salsa on the side

I'll make 2 large meatloaves (2#'s each) and that should last a couple nights. I'm planning on serving tater tots, green beans & bacon and a salad on the side.

If I need another meal it will most likely be Yummy Pinto Beans with cornbread and a salad.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Homemade Peppermint Flavored Coffee (YouTube)

Making your own flavored coffees at home is not only easy but very frugal as well. I've recently been enjoying an afternoon cup of peppermint coffee. It has been a nice treat to my day. This time of year, with the holidays right around the corner, peppermint is the flavor I start thinking about.

I made a quick video to show you how I do it. The recipe for the vanilla syrup (used for the coffee) is below the video. 


Vanilla Coffee Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1T vanilla extract

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan (or this can be done in the microwave as well). Heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract. Store in a canning jar in the fridge. Will last several weeks.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Pumpkin Chili

I made this a couple days ago. It was very good. Even my youngest son who says he only likes his squash when it's in a pie.. liked it!! It was a bit different than typical chili but a great change.

Pumpkin Chili

2T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
2lbs hamburger
2 cans chili beans (canned beans, 15oz size, seasoned with tomato sauce and seasonings)
2 cans (15oz) red beans
1 can (16oz) tomato sauce
3T chili powder
2t cumin
1 15oz can pumpkin puree
½ t cinnamon
2T brown sugar
2t salt
1t pepper

In a 4qt stock pot over medium heat add oil. Sautee onion, peppers and garlic. Add hamburger and cook until hamburger is no longer pink.

Add canned beans, do not drain beans of liquid. Also add seasonings, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, salt & pepper. Stir and let simmer to blend flavors. Taste and add more salt if you would like (according to taste).

Serve with tortilla chips & salsa and enjoy!!

NOTE: you can use 8 cups of home cooked beans in place of the canned beans... Or you can use 4 cans of the red beans if you'd like. You may want to play around with the spices and add more chili powder and cumin if you do.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Menu Monday!!


The rainy season is officially here in the PNW. After a very long dry summer, the rain seems to be here and cooler temps right along with it. Welcome fall! And welcome more time in the kitchen. Something about the rain and cooler temps makes me want to spend a little more time in the kitchen. Just feels homey I guess. There is nothing like the smells of soup and bread baking in the kitchen on a gray fall day. This weeks menu reflects a bit of this.

I'm planning 4 meals this week as I'm thinking some may not last us for more than meal.

Pumpkin Chili
Whenever I think of pumpkin of think sweet things, like muffins, cookies, pies, bread, etc. But pumpkin can have a savory side as well! :) I have some pumpkin in the fridge and decided this would be a good idea.  I'll share the recipe if turns out good. I plan on serving the soup with some garlic bread and a salad.

Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken pot pie
is a comfort food. Perfect for a cool fall evening. I'll make a big pan of chicken pot pie and will be able to warm up on my pie crust skills before the holidays! A nice big green salad will be served on the side.

Tacos w/all the trimmings
An easy quick meal for the week. I cook up and season the meat in one pan. I either make or use store bought refried beans and often mix them with a can of canned chili. My boys like that on their tacos. And then of course have chopped tomatoes, onions, and grated cheese on the side. Tortilla chips and salsa are must haves in our home to go along with this meal.

Lasagna Soup
If you love lasagna then you'll probably enjoy this soup. It is good! If I'm in the baking mood I may just make a batch of homemade dinner rolls to serve with this soup.

That is all for the week! How is your menu coming along?


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Making Homemade Pizza (YouTube)

I finally made another YouTube video. I had to make some upgrades in a camera and that took some time. My hope is to keep working on more videos. My son Isaac helped me (my great cameraman! :). Hope you find it helpful!

In this video I'm showing you how to make homemade pizza. Starting with making the crust to the finished pizza.

Below the video you will find the recipe I used for the crust and a recipe for pizza sauce. In the video I used canned spaghetti sauce but if you'd like to make your own the recipe is included.

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Pizza Crust
Makes 2 – 14inch pizza crusts

4t yeast
1 ½ cup warm water
4 to 5 cups flour
2t salt
3T olive oil

In a mixer such as a Bosch or a Kitchen Aid add yeast and warm water. Let it sit for a few minutes to dissolve and activate. Add 4 cups of flour and all remaining ingredients. Mix dough well adding the extra flour until the dough does not stick to the sides of the bowl. Knead for about 4 minutes in the Bosch and 6 to 8 in the Kitchen Aid.

Cover and let rise for 45 minutes.

Punch down dough and shape into a ball and roll out to fit a 14 inch pizza pan.

Pre-bake pizza dough at 475 for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, add sauce and toppings. Return to oven (475 degrees) and bake 12 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden brown. 

Pizza Sauce
3- 8oz cans tomato sauce
1- 6oz can tomato paste
1T Italian seasonings
1t minced garlic, heaping
1t salt
pinch or two of cane juice crystals (or sugar) - according to your own tastes

Heat this up on the stove on low until hot.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Menu Monday!!


Last weeks menu worked well. I did add another pizza night. I have another planned next week. My son's girlfriend wants to learn how to make pizza so we have an evening planned to do just that. I guess I'm on a pizza roll at the moment. Tomorrow I'll be sharing how to make pizza as well.

I made the roasted chicken legs, mentioned last week, on Sunday. We are having leftovers tonight. I made buttered pasta and salad to go with this.

The rest of the week looks like this:

Pork Chops
Last week when I was shopping I found pork chops on sale. I grabbed a big package (6+ lbs) and divided it half for the freezer. I'm not sure how I'll cook them. Maybe in the crockpot with some bbq sauce. I'll serve rice and veggies/salad along side.

Cincinnati Chili w/trimmings
It's been some time since I made Cincinnati Chili. It's bacially a flavorful all meat chili that you serve over spaghetti noodles and top with chopped onions, tomatoes, grated cheese, beans (any type). I use a recipe that a friend sent me years ago. You can find it HERE.

And of course, Pizza (more on that tomorrow)

How is your meal planning coming along?