Monday, April 24, 2017

Menu Monday!

What's on your menu this week? I have my basic meals figured out and a few recipes floating around in my thoughts that I'd like to try. I'll see how the week goes.

I'm working to make our meals more plant based, and less meat and refined foods (as I shared on Friday's blog post). My meals reflect this. Adding more beans, grains, and lots of veggies and fruit.

Today is a leftovers day. I have small amounts of food left from a couple meals that I'll reheat and add in sandwiches for anyone who may still be hungry.

For the rest of the week, this is my basic plan...

I'll be making these with mostly all beans and a small amount of hamburger. I'll serve these with all the typically trimmings.

Pork Stir Fry
A little bit of pork and a whole lot of yummy veggies. I'll serve this over brown rice.

Hawaiian Chicken
This is an Instant Pot meal that I shared this recipe in a previous blog post. It's really good and easy to put together. I'll serve the chicken over brown rice. I'll also serve butternut squash and a big mixed greens salad.

I'll make both regular beef patties and black bean burgers. Everyone can choose. I'll serve them with homemade baked potato wedges and a salad.

That should do it for the week..

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday in the Kitchen

Friday in the Kitchen is about sharing some of the food I've been cooking in my kitchen recently.

Plant Based Eating
I started out with the desire to add more vegetables and more fruits to my diet. That has now grown to eating a mostly plant based diet.

If you are wondering what this is and what it looks like I thought I'd share a little about that in this post.

Plant based eating is pretty simple: whole grains, beans, legumes, vegetables, fruit.. Pretty much like a healthy vegetarian diet.

But I have no desire to be a vegetarian, it is just not a choice for us. So I still serve meat but with the bigger emphasis on the plant foods.

Here is what a sample day of eating looks like....

Breakfast: steel cut oats with blueberries and a small amount of milk on the cereal, an orange

Lunch: Black bean sweet potato chili, salad

Dinner: Pork chop cut up in pieces, put on a bed of greens, topped with cooked black beans, cooked spaghetti squash (it was a black bean & veggie casserole, the recipe is posted is below), a chopped roma tomato. Sprinkled a little grated cheese on top and added some salad dressing.

I find the easiest way to eat like this is to make sure I have food to eat on hand. I keep cooked beans in my fridge, I cook up a sweet potato every day or two to have in the fridge. I keep brown rice or quinoa and other cooked veggies in the fridge to easily reheat. I also make up a bowl of greens (dark green lettuce, spinach, kale). This makes it easy to put something together when I'm hungry. I can always make a budda bowl or a big salad with added veggies and grains.

So far I have loved eating like this.  I feel full longer, I have lost some weight, I don't have cravings.  I feel like this way of eating is nourishing my body incredibly well.

I've also found having my Instant Pot to be so valuable. I can quickly cook up the veggies, beans, grains to have on hand.

Black Bean & Veggie Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
I made this recipe and it was amazingly good! I did not serve it in the squash as the recipe says. I just mixed it altogether and served it as side dish with my dinner.

My husband ate it along with his pork chops and I ate it as stated above.

Spaghetti Squash in the Instant Pot
I cooked my spaghetti squash for the above recipe in my Instant Pot. The IP makes cooking any type of winter squash super simple.

You can find my video on how I cook acorn squash in the IP HERE.

I cook the spaghetti squash the same way. I wash the squash, put it whole in the IP on the trivet. I added 1 ½ cups of water. I set the IP on “manual” and set the time for 10 minutes.

When the time was up, I did a NPR (Natural Pressure Release) and removed the squash. I cut it in half (very easily) and cleaned it out.. at this point the squash is about ½ cooked.

Put it back in to the IP, put the lid on and set it to “manual” and another 10 minutes (the time at this point may vary depending on the size of the squash). If it is not cooked enough, put it back in and redo it for another few minutes.

Remove and use a fork to remove the strands of squash.

Finally a delish spring salad that I've made a couple of times now and we all loved it!

Asparagus Salad

This is super easy to make and a great way to enjoy a wonderful spring veggie!

That is all for this week!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wednesday Snap Shot

Wednesday Snap Shot is a quick peek into my week.

If you'd like to join in on my Wednesday Snap Shot.. copy and paste my post, add your answers (you can also copy the pic..  BUT Please download the picture to your computer first..  do not just directly copy and paste..  otherwise you are using my bandwidth..  thank you! :).. link your post to my blog and then come back and let me know you shared your week. I'll come and visit you and read about your homemaking week!! :)

So Far This Week
It has been a great week. We finally had a little break in the rain. What a relief. We had 2 dry days in a row. The first for the year! :) Living in the Pacific Northwest can be a challenge for some of us. You can go months and barely see the sun. I know it can get to even the hardiest Northwesters.. ha, ha.. People you meet out and about are grumpy and don't smile much. But when the sun comes out and it warms up just a little suddenly everyone you run into is smiling again and happy.

I took advantage of the dry days and walked and worked outside. It felt so good.

Monday was raining again so hubs and I went to town to run errands and pick up a few groceries.

Yesterday was dry, although the clouds kept threatening rain, but it stayed dry all day. I did get out and walk again.

On My To-Do List
Rain returns today so inside work is my plan.

I need to do a few things around the house..

~clean the bathroom
~wash a few loads of laundry
~mop my kitchen floor
~vacuum the living room

Projects I'm Working On
I made some citrus vinegar for cleaning. I have not used it yet. I put the peels from 3 oranges in a quart canning jar, filled it with vinegar. It is sitting now for a bit to give my vinegar a nice citrusy smell. I'll put the vinegar into a spray bottle and use it for cleaning.

Today's Weather

High 61 Low 46
100% chance of rain

The View from my Deck (or window)

What I'm Reading
I finished the Innocence of Father Brown. I liked the book, it was different in that each chapter was its own story. But, I think I'm more of a fan of chapter books that tell one long story.

I have now moved onto: The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper (an American classic). I'm loving the book! Very engaging right off the start, which is different from many classics. I'm about 1/3 of the way through right now.

In my Bible reading I finished Nehemiah and read Esther. Job is next.


What I'm Listening To
It's a very peaceful and quiet morning. I can the sound of my neighbors dog barking in the distance

Something Frugal I've Done This Week
As I was doing the laundry I realized how many of the clothes I was washing, drying, folding and putting away were mine.. LOL.. I decided to be more mindful in determining if my jeans or shirts could be worn more then once. Are they dirty? Do they have spots on them? :) if not, wear them the next day. It's not a new concept, just something I want to focus on a bit.  It  saves money in laundry soap & dryer time, and saves time in not washing clothes that don't need to be washed, and eventually saves the life of the clothes as well.

Fitness and Health for the Week
This has been a very good week for me in the fitness area. With improving weather I have been able to get out and walk and work outside. My muscles feel it for sure but it is the best feeling in the world to me. I've easily hit and gone above my 10,000 steps more days then not. I feel like just maybe I'm getting back into my groove.

I'm continuing to cook more plant based foods to add to our diet. More beans, grains, veggies, fruit. It's amazing how much good tasting food can be made from these basics. My body is loving it and so am I.

That is all for this week!!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Menu Monday!

After a beautiful weekend we are back to more rain. I'm wondering if it will ever end. But nonetheless the week marches on.

Dinner tonight will be chicken enchiladas. I have some veggies and rice I'll add with the chicken and use green enchilada sauce over them. I'll serve this with chips & salsa and a slad.

The rest of the week is looking like this..

Pork Chops
I'll most likely cook them in the Instant Pot. I plan to serve them with a pot of veggie/bean soup and french bread.

Petite Pan Fried Sirloin Steak
I found the petite sirloin steaks on sale when I was grocery shopping last week. I plan to slice them thinly and fry them up and then add a little Yoshida's sauce to them at the end. I'll serve this with asparagus and buttered pasta.

Sausage & Rice
Jimmy Dean Sausage, cooked with veggies and mixed with cooked rice. It's a family favorite. I'll serve baked beans, roasted brussel sprouts and spinach salad on the side.

Tuna Patties
Tuna patties, roasted potatoes & sweet potatoes, cream of fresh broccoli soup, salad.

That should do it for the week!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday in the Kitchen

Friday in the Kitchen is about sharing some of the food I've been cooking in my kitchen recently.

Homemade Food
Years ago while I was raising my 8 kids I cooked and made everything from scratch. It was how we kept the food costs in budget. It was great. I taught my kids how to cook, how make anything they wanted. I taught them they did not have to depend on a box or can or bottle of anything. They could always make it themselves.

As the kids left home and the budget issues eased, I found I was exhausted from all the cooking and food making. I began to rely more on store bought options.

I've slowly been making my way back to cooking and making many of the foods we eat. Why? Well, first it is better on the grocery budget. But it also tastes much better. And it is healthier for us.

So this week I ran out of ranch dressing. We love ranch dressing and I was not planning on going to the store for a few days so I made a batch from my tried and true recipe. The one I'd made for years when my kids were growing up. It was so good. I realized how much better I like my own ranch.

You can find my recipe.. HERE

Buddha Bowls
Once again I'm slow to come around to the latest things.. Buddha Bowls would be an example of this. I have no idea why they are called this, but to me they are pretty much like a rice bowl.

You start with a bowl, add some type of grain, top with veggies, beans, meat or whatever you want. Add some sauce of choice.. and you have lunch or dinner.

I gave it a try and I loved it. So easy to make, so healthy, so good.

I started with the bowl..

Added about ½ cup of quinoa (rice would work too)..

Then I sautéed some veggies. In this batch I sautéed onions, peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, spinach. I spooned out those on top of the quinoa...

Then, I had some black beans in the fridge. I heated them up and put those on top...

Finally, I had ¼ of a small sweet potato (already cooked in the fridge). I cut that up and added it on top..

I sprinkled it all with soy sauce..

And have the most amazing lunch. I was stuffed when I was done. Kept me full all day....

You can be as creative as you want with a Buddha Bowl.. add whatever kind of grain you want, veggies, beans, meat (or not, your choice).. sauce of your choice.. and have an easy fantastic lunch or dinner.

Cooking Quinoa in the Instant Pot
Quinoa is abour as easy as rice is to make on the stove top. I wanted to see if I could make it in my IP. And yes, I could! And sooooo easy.

Here is the basic directions...

You will need quinoa and water in a one to one ratio (like 1 cup quinoa to 1 cup water).

Rinse the quinoa under cold water in a strainer.

Put it in the Instant Pot.

Cover with equal amount of water.

Salt to taste, if desired (I used 2 cups of quinoa, 2 cups water, 1t salt)


Put the lid on the IP

Set the knob to “Sealing”

Set to “Manual”

Set time to 1 minute (yes.. just 1 minute)

Walk away.. :)

When the IP beeps and lets you know the cooking time is done, don't do anything.. just let the pressure drop on it's own. This will take about 10 minutes or so.

Remove the lid and you will fluffy, perfectly cooked quinoa..


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Silk Dyeing Easter Eggs

I read about this from a few different websites and wanted to try it. Just something new and fun. When I was in Sacramento my daughter and I went to her favorite Good Will and I found a silk scarf. I purchased it to try dyeing some eggs.

You need something silk to do this. Men's ties work great, but were so expensive. I started looking at women's silk scarves and found one that was about $3. Better price then what I was seeing with the ties...

I cut the scarf into 5 pieces. They need to be big enough to wrap around the egg tightly. Then I had some cotton fabric and I cut 5 pieces of this..

I wrapped each egg in the silk...

Then in the cotton fabric..

I put them in a pot, covered them with water and added 2T of white vinegar..

I boiled them for 10 minutes. When they were done I used a slotted spoon to take them out of the boiling water...

When they had cooled enough I removed the fabric. And this is what I had..

Very pretty. Not sure if I had boiled them longer the colors would be more vibrant or not. I'll be on the lookout this year in thrift shops for more silk to try again next Easter.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wednesday Snap Shot

Wednesday Snap Shot is a quick peek into my week.

If you'd like to join in on my Wednesday Snap Shot.. copy and paste my post, add your answers (you can also copy the pic..  BUT Please download the picture to your computer first..  do not just directly copy and paste..  otherwise you are using my bandwidth..  thank you! :).. link your post to my blog and then come back and let me know you shared your week. I'll come and visit you and read about your homemaking week!! :)

So Far This Week
Seems like it was a busy week. I had a lot of little things I was working on, nothing real big.

My daughter's apartment was not ready so we did not move her in on Saturday. This week, it should be ready. But we did spend more time getting her stuff together. Stepping out on your own is a big life change. Lots of little details to cover when preparing for a move. I focused on kitchen things. I purchased some empty spice containers and filled those with various spices that I know she uses. And helped her organize cleaning supplies as well.

I spent another afternoon out on our property with my hubby helping in the limb and tree clean up. More progress made, more burn piles started. Pretty sure we are at least at the point that hubby can mow the grassy areas without threat of running over trees and limbs.

I also wanted to share this sweet gift I received for my birthday. My daughter in law to be, Julie, gave it to me. It is a pineapple wind chime. She knows my love of tropical things.. like heat, sunshine, palm trees, and pineapples.. :) I love this so much. Wind chimes are happy things. They make sweet sounds as the wind gently blows. I have it hanging by my back door. It is near my kitchen window and not only can I see it while I work in the kitchen, but I can hear its happy sounds.

On My To-Do List
Well.. hubby and I wanted to get out again on the property to do clean up. But, it's nasty raining out there (again!! I'm going to go insane here soon if I don't have some dry days and little sunshine).. and will be raining all day apparently.. sooo.. plan B.. we are going to go to town and do some grocery shopping and run some errands.

When I get home...

~food preps
~clean the bathroom

Projects I'm Working On
I had a lot of fun with this project. It is silk dyeing Easter eggs. I still need to perfect a few things, but overall I was happy with the results. I decided it would be better to share how I did this in a separate blog post. I'll be posting that tomorrow. But for now this is what my eggs looked like..

Today's Weather
High of 56, Low of 40
Rain today, and tomorrow

The View from my Deck (or window)

What I'm Reading
I made more progress this week through The Innocence of Father Brown. I also was able to make some good progress through the Bible. I finished 2nd Chronicles, finished Ezra and am about half way through Nehemiah.

What I'm Listening To
A quiet Wednesday morning.  I am listening to my hubby in the kitchen getting some breakfast and coffee.  And I can hear the echoing sounds of a train moving through the Gorge.

Something Frugal I've Done This Week
I've posted this before, but wanted to share something new I found. I also found many people already do this! I'm slow to come around. Cleaning with vinegar. It is a great cleaner. This tip is one I plan on doing... put orange peels in a jar, cover with vinegar and let is set for a couple weeks. Strain out the peels and use the citrusy smelling vinegar for cleaning. I have added essential oils in the past, but I like this idea better. We eat a lot of oranges so this will be something I'll try soon.

Fitness and Health for the Week
Aside from working out on the property I also had one rain free day that I got out and walked. My daughter was off that day and we had a little bit of sunshine and took advantage of it. It felt good to get my 10,000 steps in that day!

I'm also continuing to work on my diet. I've been looking at more plant based foods to make up the majority of my diet and then adding in meat and a small amount of dairy. I'm not a big dairy person as it is. I have a little half n half in my coffee, an occasional glass of milk and cheese with my meals now and then. Overall I'm feeling great with this plan and still loosing a bit of weight. So, it is a win-win.

One thing I discovered this week (I'm slow to discover things at time.. ha, ha as this has been around for a while) was Buddha Bowls.. basically they are a lot like rice bowls. I'll be sharing more about this on Friday in the Kitchen.

That is all for this week!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Menu Monday!

Happy Monday Everyone! :) Hope your week is off to a good start.

Today I'll be at home catching up around the house after a busy weekend. Tonight's dinner will be super simple, leftovers. I remember years ago whenever I'd ask my kids what I should make for dinner, my youngest sons answer was always.. Leftovers!! Ha, ha.

I have leftover baked chicken and a few more things to add with it. I like to call these dinners, buffet dinners.

The rest of my week is look like this....

Cuban Pork
This recipe is a crockpot recipe. I've made it a couple times and love the flavors. However I've converted it into an Instant Pot recipe. I'll serve rice, cuban black beans, and asparagus with the pork.

Soup & Sandwiches
Split pea soup, cuban pork sandwiches (made w/leftover Cuban Pork), salad

Greek Salad & Oregano Marinated Chicken
Sounds really fancy but it looks like an easy recipe. You can fine the recipe HERE. I'll serve this either rice or pasta.

That should do it for the week. My hubby has to work on Easter so I won't be making an Easter dinner for family. If I decide to make a dinner for us it will most like be ham, scallop potatoes, & asparagus. And if I'm ambitious I'll make some deviled eggs. :)

Have a great week!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Friday in the Kitchen

Friday in the Kitchen is about sharing some of the food I've been cooking in my kitchen recently.

Black Beans
I love beans. I know some people just don't like them and some do. I've cooked a lot of beans over the years. It was how I kept my grocery budget for 10 people on one income way down. They are an amazing food source. They are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. I've often, that maybe, just maybe, people have not had them cooked right, or had good bean recipes. Or maybe they just have a bad reputation that is hard for some to get over. But, regardless I love them! :) I've been cooking a lot of black beans lately. And working on ways to use them. Here are a couple ways I've used them recently..

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Patties
These were sooo good!! I served them as a side dish to our meal. They were tasty and filling. My family enjoyed them very much.

2 cups cooked black beans (or 1 can, rinsed), mashed
1 medium size sweet potato, cooked, mashed
1 egg
2 to 4 T flour
1t chili powder
1t salt
1t cumin
1t garlic powder
½ t pepper

Combine all ingredients until it is holding together and somewhat sticky. If you need to add more flour to get this consistency, that is fine.

Heat a frying pan on medium heat. Put some coconut oil in and let it melt. Scoop ¼ cup bean mixture and put it in the frying pan. Use the measuring cup to push the mix flat and make it a patty. Cook on each side for 4 to 5 minutes.

You can eat them as is or top with some salsa or ranch dressing or whatever your favorite topping would be.

Black Bean Chili

After making a big pot of black beans in my Instant Pot and making the patties I still had beans leftover. I had about 1 quart jar full of cooked beans and liquid. I made a batch of meatless black bean and sweet potato chili. I am in love with the combination of the flavors of black beans and sweet potatoes. This was a pretty simple recipe to put together. It could be served as a lunch, it could be a main dish, you could add hamburger or sausage if you wanted to. It is versatile.

4 cups cooked black beans and some of the bean liquid (or 2 cans black beans, do not drain)
1 sweet potato, cooked, cut up
1 small onion, chopped
½ cup sliced celery
1t chili powder
1t cumin
½ t salt
½ t red pepper flakes
salt to taste

Sautee onion and celery in a little cocount oil. In a stock pot add beans and sweet potato. Add sauteed veggies. Add spices. Simmer for a few minutes to blend flavors. It if is too thick, add water, taste and add salt if needed.

Serve and enjoy!

Other ideas for using beans...

Mashed up and added to hamburger to make meatloaf. This will stretch your meat, add fiber and other vitamins and minerals and be very frugal! Your family may not even know.. :)

Add beans (mashed or not, your choice) to spaghetti sauce, tacos, lasagna

I have a LOT tried and true bean recipes if you'd like more ideas..

If you'd like to see my tips on cooking beans you can find them here... 

Cooking Beets in the Instant Pot

As I work to put more veggies in our diet I saw beets in the store last week. I purchased a few and wanted to try cooking them in the IP. It was easy and they were sweet and good.

I washed my beets and put them in the IP with about 1 cup of water. Put the lid on, set it on “manual” and set the time for 20 minutes.

When they were done I peeled them. It was so easy to peel them after they were cooked..

I cut them in half and sliced them..

I served them as a side dish with a little butter and salt.. oh yummy..

I also used some of them to top our salads.

All in all, they were delish and I'll be buying them again..

That is all for this week!!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Wednesday Snap Shot

Wednesday Snap Shot is a quick peek into my week.

If you'd like to join in on my Wednesday Snap Shot.. copy and paste my post, add your answers (you can also copy the pic).. link your post to my blog and then come back and let me know you shared your week. I'll come and visit you and read about your homemaking week!! :)

So Far This Week
I've had a busy but good week. My middle son came up for a visit on Saturday. I love his visits. We talked all afternoon. I love spending time with my kids! :)

On Friday my daughter Hannah and grandkids came over and we went to a nearby town to walk. The town has a few great walking trails all around it. It was nice to have a dry day to get out and best yet, to get out with some of my favorite walking buddies. We live in Bigfoot country.. so it is played up. The town has a lot of these Bigfoot carvings all around the trails. My grandchildren love to find them.. and have their picture taken with them..

On Monday I spent a few hours outside with my hubby just doing property clean up. All those winter storms not only did a lot of damage but left a lot of mess. Downed trees and limbs. So we were working on cleaning it up. At least one area.

This was the area we were working on. There is still lots of cleaning left to do around here. 


On My To-Do List
My daughter Sierra is getting her own apartment. She moved out a couple years ago and found it a challenge. She moved back home and decided to work on getting a better job (which she did), saving money (which she has), and feels now she is ready to step out on her own. So, today I'm helping her get some packing done and ready for the weekend big move.

It's also her day off today and we are planning on taking a walk since it is a dry day.

Projects I'm Working On
Helping my daughter get ready to move! :) I purchased empty spice containers last week at the grocery store and some bulk spices. I need to get the containers filled and labeled for her. Just trying to think of the little things you don't think of when moving out for the first time.

Today's Weather
High of 58, Low of 39 – and hopefully no rain

The View from my Deck (or window)

What I'm Reading
For whatever reason I did not do a lot of reading this week. Just busy I guess. Not like me normally. I love reading. So not a lot of progress to report.

What I'm Listening To
Chatting between my daughter and hubby and the typical morning sounds of clocks ticking and a fire going.

Something Frugal I've Done This Week
Cooked beans in my Instant Pot. I use to cook a lot of beans to feed my big family. As demands eased I would buy canned beans. I did the math not long ago.. buying dry beans and cooking them, weighing them, comparing that weight to a can of beans. Cooking my own beans won out cost wise! So this week I cooked a big pot in my Instant Pot and have been using them in various ways throughout the week.

Fitness and Health for the Week
I am working on my diet. I am working on eating more fresh fruits and veggies. I am working on adding more clean eating foods, such as grains and beans. Eating less sugar. Less processed foods. I'm making good progress in this and feeling great. I've lost a few pounds of my added winter weight. So I will continue with this plan.

I've also gotten outside a few days this week, as the weather permitted. Worked outside on our property, walked with my daughter and grandchildren. My desire to be fit continues. :) 

A pic of my grandkids when were out on our walk.  The Pacific Northwest is known to be Bigfoot country and we were in a nearby little town that plays it up. They have great walking paths and lots of the Bigfoot carvings are along the path.  My grandkids love that part (finding the Bigfoot carvings along the trails).