Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cooking from Scratch

Amy from Redhead Diaries asked some great questions about cooking from scratch and saving money. I posted this comment on her blog and thought it might be useful to some you as well. I've been asked to give a presentation on this at MOPS in a couple of weeks, so I've been really thinking a lot about how I make cooking from scratch work. I may post more later, so I don't overwhelm you all. Here goes:

Making things from scratch is a huge money saver, plus it is better for you. The trick is, if you are going to make something from scratch, make a ton of it! You'd be amazed at what you can freeze. I freeze barbecue sauce, marinades, pancakes, waffles, tortillas and all kinds of meals. I seriously only cook dinner a dinner from scratch maybe 3 times a week. The rest of the meals are from the freezer because I almost always make enough to freeze. I hate eating the same thing twice in a row, so this really helps.

Also, add soups and stews to your menu. It is a great way to use up leftovers and you can make several gallons at a time, then freeze them in meal-size increments. In no time, you'll have a great selections of soups to choose from in your freezer on those busy night that you just don't have time to cook. A little bread and a simple salad and there is your meal.

Also, it is absolutely essential that you come up with a meal plan before you go shopping. I only plan one week ahead, but it keeps us from going out. I just had to get in the habit of looking at the meal plan before I go to bed at night to see what I need to thaw out for the next day. I just let things thaw out in my sink over night and I'm good to go for the next day. I use a small, magnetic dry erase board that I stick to my fridge. I can't tell you how much this helps me stay organized and save money.

Good luck!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Josiah's Turn

O.K., since I bragged on Hailey last time, now it is Josiah's turn. When he came home from AWANAS last night, one of his Cubbie leaders (who happens to be my neighbor) said that there was a new little boy there who was crying because he wanted his mommy. They asked Josiah to play with him since he has such a kind heart. She said he was so sweet with the little boy and got him to stop crying and get involved with the group. I was so proud of him! It does my mom's heart good to hear something like this when I've been wondering if anything I've been teaching him is sinking in. Sometimes his "leadership" qualities get him into trouble, but when it comes to matters of the heart (which are definitely more important) it is nice to see he's seems to be "getting it". I guess how they behave when you aren't around is the true test. I just praise God for this encouragement and hope it might encourage any of you mothers (or fathers) out there who are also in the trenches, striving to mold character and God's love into imperfect children.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

3 Cheese Whole Wheat Penne Pasta Recipe

I thought this picture was so cute. I've seen Josiah make this face many times!

Ok, Colette. Here is that recipe you were wanting. This recipe makes a lot, so you can freeze several casseroles from this one. This is a great one for nursing mothers. Kids usually like this dish, too.

3 Cheese Whole Wheat Penne Pasta Recipe:

1 lb penne pasta
2 Tbl olive oil
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, chopped finely
2 minced garlic cloves (more if you like a lot of garlic)
1/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
4 cups milk
2 tsp Celtic Sea salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
4 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups cooked turkey or chicken (optional)
2 cups fresh spinach (optional)
1 1/2 cups (6 oz) shredded Cheddar cheese
1 1/4 (5 oz) shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup (4 oz) shredded mild white cheese of any kind (can use Mozzarella Monterey Jack, or Queso Fresco)

Lightly grease casserole pan(s) with olive oil. Cook penne in pot with salted water until just tender. Drain when done. Meanwhile, heat oil and saute onion, garlic and mushrooms. Add flour, mix until it forms a thick paste, then add milk and stir until smooth. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and add spices, lemon juice and optional meat and spinach. Mix all cheeses together in separate bowl, reserve enough to sprinkle on top of casserole(s). Add sauce to large pan of drained penne, then add cheese mixture. Toss to coat well, then divide out into casserole pan(s). Sprinkle with remaining cheese mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Freeze extra uncooked casserole(s).

Monday, January 26, 2009

Jackie's 100% Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

I've had several people ask me about my homemade bread recipe. I use to use a bread machine, but now I use my Kitchen Aid. This is so easy and for those of you who can't do dairy, you'll love this recipe. I use ingredients for a 2 lb loaf, which I split between two bread pans. I've included trouble shooting tips at the bottom of the recipe. Good luck!

Jackie's 100% Whole Wheat Bread Recipe:

For 2 lb loaf (place ingredients in bread machine or Kitchen Aid bowl in this order):

1 egg

1 1/3 cup warm water

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup honey

2 tsp Celtic Sea salt (fine ground)

4 cup Hard White Winter Whole Wheat flour

1 tsp gluten

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

Put on Whole Wheat cycle, 2 lb loaf and light settings. Optional: butter loaf as soon as it comes out of cooking cycle for a soft crust or I like to put on dough cycle, place in pans, raise for an hour and then cook at 400F for 20 minutes.


Turn on Kitchen Aid (using dough hook) for one hour, on lowest mix setting. I like to cover my bowl and guard with a towel, to keep the heat in. When timer goes off, Let rest 20 minutes before removing from bowl and splitting dough between two well-greased bread pans. Let raise in a warm place for 45 minutes or until dough has doubled. Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes.

Trouble shooting: Because not all whole wheat flours are the same, here are some tricks that I've learned when my loaf isn't coming out the way I want it.

*If loaf raises nicely, then gets flat after it cooks, reduce the amount of water or add a little more flour next time.

*If loaf doesn't raise very well, and it comes out rather dense, then you either need to add a little water or reduce the amount of flour used.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Turkish Marinade (for any red meat)

Of all the marinades I've tried on my family, this one seems to be the favorite. You can use it with any type of red-meat and I bet it would even be good with pork, although I've never actually tried that. I marinate our lamb kabob meat in this and it is always a hit. If you are barbecuing, make sure you've got enough for the neighbors because this smells so good while it is cooking that they'll want some, too (LOL).

Turkish Marinade:
1 chopped tomato
1/2 of a finely chopped onion
3 or 4 minced garlic cloves
1 Tbl dried parsley
1 Tbl dried oregano
1 tsp cumin
2 to 3 Tbl lemon juice
1 to 2 Tbl honey
1/8 cup Bragg's liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
1/8 cup olive oil (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all these ingredients together and add your meat, making sure it is well coated. Cook however you want. I like to brush the marinade on the meat after getting it on the grill.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Scrapbook Camp

I just got back from a fabulous 4 day scrapbook camp at my mom's house in Pendleton. Stacie left all her kids with Steve and I did the same with Michael. We had so much fun! Aside from scrapbooking 61 (12 x 12) pages, we managed to go to the famous Hamley Restaurant and do some clothes shopping with my friend, Paulette. The advantage of being a twin is that you can go shopping for post-pregnancy clothes and be very pregnant at the time. I tried on a bunch of clothes for Stacie (of course we imagined the bust being MUCH larger) and she came away with some nice clothes that will fit her after the baby is born. Everyone should have an identical twin!

Michael had a great time with the kids as some friends of ours invited them to go on a wagon ride to see a wildlife viewing in North Powder. They invited him to dinner that night, so he didn't have to cook. Thanks Jodi and Joseph! It was really sweet of them.

Now, I'm just trying catch up on everything around here, although Michael did a great job of keeping the house clean while I was gone. What a guy.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Mexican Pot Roast (slow-cooked)

This recipe has become a family favorite around here. We always eat it as a pot roast the first night, then I shred the leftovers and use it the next day in tacos or quesadillas, or you can freeze and use later. Excellent with homemade whole wheat tortillas (can search my blog for that recipe).

Mexican Pot Roast

3 lbs beef, venison, elk or pork roast

Mix together:
2 cups salsa or Picante sauce (mild or hot)
1/4 cup vinegar
2 tsp garlic powder (or 4 freshly minced garlic instead)
2 to 3 tsp Celtic Sea Salt, depending on taste
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbl honey

Pour sauce over meat. Set slow cooker to high and cook all day. Shred leftovers and use in other Mexican dishes.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Blessing at the End of a Hard Week

I just had to write and tell you all about the blessing we just received. It has been a really difficult week and God knew we really needed some encouragement. We didn't think we'd be able to go on a vacation this year, but God had other ideas.

I just got a phone call from some good friends of ours (we love you Rick and Mindy!) and they invited us to go to a super nice resort called Sunriver outside of Bend, OR. They've rented a huge house or condo and invited us and another couple they know who has kids to stay with them for four days. Rick is about to go back to Iraq and it is Mindy's birthday, so they wanted to do one last big thing together. Their kids are about the same ages as ours, so I know they'll have a blast playing together. The timing is amazing as it comes right at the end of finals, and not on a drill weekend. I can't tell you how excited we are! After finding out the Subaru needs $1700 worth of repairs, Michael missing two and a half days of classes due to jury duty, finding out our home computer has a severe virus on it and has to be in the shop even longer, we really needed this! God is so good. I just had to share. I pray that if you are having a hard week, that you'll keep praying. I know God will show you he's still in control and has your best interests at heart.

P.S. I'm able to check my email on my work computer, so if anyone needs to email me, I'm able to reply now.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! We just back from a week of visiting immediate family in Dufur, The Dalles, Hood River and Pendleton. Unfortunately, a day after we got there, my back went into severe spasm. After three massages and some muscle relaxers, 8 days later, it finally released. If I was going to be incapacitated, I guess it was the best week for it, since I had Michael with me and lots of family to help with the kids. I didn't get to do anything, but I guess God knows how to get me to take it easy. I must have needed the rest.

My home computer is in the shop getting fixed and more memory added. I don't have email right now, so I apologize to those who may have emailed me and didn't get a response. I'm posting this using my work computer. My boss is so awesome! As soon as I get my desk top back, I'll post some Christmas pictures.

I've got a praise report. The learning therapy Michael is doing is really paying off. He got three B(s) and a C (in Agrostology - tough class!). I'm so proud of him. He started Winter term this week. He's taking 19 credits, doing the Guard thing and has jury duty, so he'll be busy for the next 3 months. He's starting to try to get a job lined up for when he graduates in June, so please pray for us! We still have no clue where we are going to end up.

I've started homeschooling Josiah again after a little break through the holidays. I just got done helping him organize and purge his room to make room for all the new toys he got for Christmas. He had a great Christmas and I'm really pleased that he seemed to understand that giving was more important than getting.

Hailey cut four eye teeth during Christmas and was a miserable little thing. As soon as they came through about 5 days after Christmas, she was fine again.

As for me, I'm back to working 3 hours a day, now that my back is better. I'm trying to get back into the swing of cooking, cleaning, helping Michael with the learning therapy stuff and homeschooling again. Tomorrow is cheese-making day, so I'll have to be careful with my back.

Well, that is about it. Hope you all had a Happy New Year!

God Bless


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