Sunday, September 27, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - September 28th

This past week was a pretty simple week as far as cooking goes. We only tried two new recipes, and one was a side dish. We did end up having the Basic Crockpot Chili on Tuesday, and it was delicious! Definetly a recipe I will keep. We also tried the Ranch Potato Wedges, and while they were good, they just weren't a huge hit.

This week we are cleaning out the freezer. I do my major grocery shopping after the first of the month, and like to spend the last week of the month cleaning out what we haven't used.
Monday - Tarragon Chicken, mashed potatoes, cauliflower with cheese sauce
Tuesday - Chinese Dumplings, steamed rice
Wednesday - Whiting Fillets (these are pre-breaded so I just need to fry them), Applebee's Onion Peels, Baked Beans, Hushpuppies
Thursday - Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana Soup, The Ultimate Breadsticks (I halve the recipe and mix in my bread machine)
Saturday - Breakfast for Dinner - Home Fries, Eggs, Bacon and Biscuits

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

At our house, it's not just the kids that pose for the camera.

For more Wordless Wednesay post visit 5 Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Homemade Garlic Breadsticks

I made these breadsticks last Saturday night to go with our Chicken Parmesan. I used this recipe from Recipe Zaar. I halved the recipe, and used my bread machine on the dough cycle to mix the dough. The recipe makes an extremely large amount of breadsticks.

Chicken Parmesan

  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 tablespoon freshly minced parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 can Prepared Spaghetti Sauce (I use my Homemade Spaghetti Sauce)
  • 1 cup Mozerella Cheese

Cooking Directions

  1. Mix mince parsley, dried basil, salt, black pepper, and bread crumbs in a small bowl.
  2. Cut chicken breasts in half.
  3. Put egg white in a shallow dish.
  4. Dip chicken breasts in egg white, and then dredge through breadcrumb mixture.
  5. In a large non-stick skillet fry chicken breasts.
  6. Place chicken breasts in a casserole dish, and cover with spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle with Mozerella Cheese.
  7. Bake in 350 degree oven for twenty-five to thirty minutes, or cheese is melted.
  8. Serve chicken breasts over a bed of spaghetti noodles.

The Best Baked Potatoes

I know what you are thinking - who needs a recipe for baked potatoes? I do! When I first started cooking I had to find a recipe for baked potatoes because I had no idea how to make this simplest of meals. I have tried several different baked potatoe variations, and this recipe has won me the most praise.

What you will need:
  • Potatoes, rinsed

  • Olive Oil

  • Kosher Salt

  • Pastry Brush

  • Aluminum Foil, I use the Reynolds Wrappers

1. Using potatoes that have been rinsed, cut an "X" on the top of the potato.

2. Using a pastry brush, brush potato with olive oil.

3. Roll potato in Kosher Salt, being careful not to get too much salt on potato. My kids like to mash up their baked potatoes and eat the skin and all so too much salt on the potato keeps them from eating the skin. 4. Wrap potato in aluminum foil

5. Baking times and temperature vary on a number of temperatures. Depending on what else I have in the oven I will cook the potatoes between 350 and 425 degrees. The amount of time it takes to cook the potatoes will also vary depending on the size of a potato, a small potato may only take 30 minutes to cook, while a larger one will take longer. Normal cooking times will vary between 30 minutes and 60 minutes. Cook until potatoes are tender.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook, September 21

For Today

September 21, 2009

Outside my's gray and cloudy.

I am thinking...about how much I love rainy days.

I am thankful for...being able to spend such an easy, laid back day with my family yesterday.

From the learning rooms....we are getting ready to start a new unit in Biology, and I am considering reintroducing the younger kids to lapbooks.

From the cooking today, we are getting to eat out. A real treat for us! Yippee!

I am pajamas.

I am creating...a crochet sweater (not the old frumpy kind, very trendy) for Sunshine. I hope to be able to finish the bodice on it today, and it will be all done! (Watch for the free pattern and pictures of the completed project this week.)

I am town today to run errands.

I am hearing....the voices of my children playing in their playroom.

Around the house...there is a lot of housework to do today. The result of yesterday's lazy day.

A few plans for the week...choir and drama for Sunshine, softball for Skateboarder, a fun field trip to the local state park with our homeschool group, and on Sunday we will be visiting a new church.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Menu Plan Monday, September 21-27

Do you ever cook something, and the whole time you are cooking it you are expecting it to be one of the most delicious dishes that you ever tasted but when you sit down to finally eat it, the meal just kind of tastes flat? That is exactly how I have felt this past week. I had some outstanding recipes picked out, my meals all planned out, but everything just fell short of my expectations.

I don't think it has anything to do with the recipes, they were great, but I just didn't have that wonderful experience I expected when eating the meal. Of course, it's been a busy week for me, and my heart hasn't always been in my cooking this week. It's been one of those weeks where I made the same recipe that I have made a hundred times but this week it just didn't taste right.

That said my kids gave a big thumbs up to the Chicken Parmesan we had last night. (Yes, I did tweak the recipe and will be posting my version of the recipes later this week.) The Shrimp Lo Mein was also good, but the Lo Mein noodles I bought just weren't what I expected them to be. The potato soup was outstanding, and really hit the spot now that the weather is getting colder. This time I left the sausage out of it, and only used bacon for the meat.

So here we go with this week's menu. I decided to keep it pretty basic this week, no over the top recipes that require a lot of work.

Monday: We will be in town - so we will be eating out

Tuesday: Basic Chili Crockpot or Taco Soup (I haven't made my mind up yet, I already have the ingredients for both in the cabinets)

Wednesday: Shrimp Fried Rice

Thursday: The Best Crab Cakes, macaroni and cheese, corn

Friday: Sloppy Joes (I have these frozen in my freezer from a previous meal - one of the reasons why I love freezer cooking), Homemade Hamburger Buns (made in the bread machine), Ranch Potato Wedges, Baked Beans

Saturday: Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Sunday: No cooking today. We eat out after church for lunch, and have leftovers for supper.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pajama Party Sew Along

I know it's getting late in the month but when I ran across the Pajama Party Sew-Along at Sew Mama Sew I knew I just had to join in. You see I have been meaning to make pajamas for my two youngest children for quite some time, and just haven't gotten around to doing it. Quite sad, isn't it?

You see what makes it so sad is that I already have all of the material and the patterns purchased. I won't go into details about how long ago I purchased it, but let's just say they were intended to be worn last winter, not this winter.

For Little Man I plan to use McCall's Pattern #M9638. I chose this pattern because I could use it to make matching patterns for Daddy and my oldest son as well. You see I have this dream of waking up Christmas morning with us all wearing matching pajamas, all in coordinating colors. Wouldn't that make the perfect Christmas morning pictures? The only thing is I never seem to be able to get the pajamas done. I have all these great plans but have a hard time finding the time to get them done.

I have a very cute lizard print material to make the pajamas out of. Perfect for a little boy!

For Sunshine I chose McCalls Pattern #M5744, or should I say she chose it. We plan to use the long sleeved, long nightgown.

For her nightgown we have a yellow fleece type fabric that is covered in monkeys. I originally purchased it with my son in mind, but she is in love with it, so she will get it.

So now I am off to get busy sewing!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Pit Kind of Girl

The Wednesday night Bible Study group I have been attending is studying Loved By God by Liz Curtis Higgs. I must say that I have really been enjoying the class, and the videos that Liz does are hilarious.

This past Wednesday night we were watching the video for week two, and I must say that Liz really hit a nerve with me. She was talking about a time when she was not walking with God, and it reminded me of my own story. I grew up in a Christian home, but strayed away from God when I entered my early twenties. I have since come back to God, but I am working on healing the wounds that were caused during that time and fixing the relationships that were destroyed during that time.

Liz mentioned that some women are smarter than others, they never have to get into the pit and never have to hit rock bottom the way some of us do. These women see a pit, say "Oh, there's a pit, I better walk around it" and completely avoid entering the pit. Then there are those of us who see a pit, jump into it like a small kid jumping into a water puddle, and exclaim "Yay, a pit!"

This really hit home with me. I am the pit kind of girl. I see a pit, and I jump in head first. This is something I have to work on. I have been to the bottom of the pit, and am now clawing my way out, struggling to find my way back to God.

But isn't that the amazing thing about our God? He loves us even when we are in the bottom of the pit, he is there with us, even when we don't realize it, and he is here with me as I climb out of the pit.

So what kind of girl are you? Are you the pit kind of girl or are you the kind of girl who is smart enough to avoid the pit?

Friday Fill-Ins, September 18th

1. My car desperately needs to be cleaned.

2. David and Katelyn's birthday's are coming up next.

3. Lately, things seem to be moving too fast.

4. My bottom drawer is one of my favorite 'hiding' places. Except now my kids are figuring out that's where I hide everything.

5. What happened to summer, I can't believe it's almost fall.

6. Spaghetti sauce on the ceiling is not impossible!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to family game night, tomorrow my plans include catching up on my work and Sunday, I want to rest!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Crockpot Wednesday - Easy Slow Cooked Asian Chicken Recipe

I'm always tweaking recipes, I have a hard time following recipe directions exactly as they are written. Maybe it's because I have always had a hard time following the rules, I don't know. Anyhow, last week in my Menu Plan Monday I included a link to Taste of Home's Slow Cooked Asian Chicken, which I tweaked to make my own. Here is the recipe that I came up with:

Again, this recipe is designed for a family of six, so please be sure to adjust as necessary.

3 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup soy sauce
6 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic or 2 garlic cloves that have been minced
2 teaspoons ground ginger

1. Cut chicken breasts into cubes, and put into the bottom of slow cooker.

2. Mix soy sauce, brown sugar, water, garlic and ginger in small bowl. Pour mixture over cubed chicken breasts.

3. Cook in slow cooker on low for 4 - 5 hours, exact cooking time will depend on your slow cooker.

4. Serve over steamed white rice.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook - September 14th

FOR TODAY(September 14th)...

Outside my window...the sun is shining, and the leaves are starting to turn colors.

I am thinking...I wish the playroom was already reorganized. We just moved the playroom into a new room, and I have a mess waiting on me.

I am thankful for...all of the blessings that I have been given in my life.

From the learning rooms...we are on school break this week.

From the kitchen...I am looking forward to trying some new recipes this week.
I am wearing...a navy blue tee-shirt, blue jean shorts, and am still sporting my cast on my leg.

I am creating...a more welcoming home environment for my family.

I am busy this week. Thursday is the only day we have to spend at home.

I am reading...Mommywood by Tori Spelling. I have never been much of a Tori Spelling fan but after watching her show a few times I am intriqued by her.

I am hoping...that the technician from Sony can get my laptop fixed. It's been down for two weeks now, and this is the second time they have sent a technician out, the first one couldn't get it fixed.

I am husband talking on the phone, the kids tv on, and my daughter cutting paper dolls out.

Around the a lot of housework going on. We switched the rooms all around this weekend, and everyone is trying to put the finishing touches on their new room.

One of my favorite things...was going to the Quintumbe Andean Ballet this past Friday. It was a lot of fun for the whole family.

A few plans for the rest of the week: A full week with choir and drama for Sunshine on Tuesday, bible study on Wednesday, and a park day with our homeschool group on Friday.

Menu Plan Monday

It's that time of the week again, time for Menu Plan Monday!

Monday - Whiting fillets, hush puppies, easy cheesy potatoes, corn

Tuesday - Slow Cooker Orange Chicken (a new recipe I am really looking forward to trying)

Wednesday - Cubed Steaks, baked potatoes, broccoli with cheese sauce, yeast rolls

Friday - Shrimp Lo Mein, my own version based upon these two recipes - Shrimp Lo Mein with Three Vegetables and Shrimp Lo Mein

Saturday - Chicken Parmesan, again my own version based upon these two recipes - Easy Chicken Parmesan and Herbed Chicken Parmesan

Sunday - No cooking on Sundays. We eat lunch out after church on Sundays, and reheat leftovers for dinner.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

No Buttermilk? No Problem! Easy Buttermilk Substitutes

Buttermilk is not something that I keep on hand, but so many of my recipes call for the use of buttermilk. There are several easy substitutes that you can make for buttermilk with ingredients you more than likely have on hand.

Lemon Juice
Add one tablespoon of lemon juice to one cup of milk. Stir and let sit for five minutes before using.

Same as the lemon juice, add one tablespoon of vinegar to one cup of milk. Stir and let sit for five minutes before using.

Cream of Tartar
Add 1 3/4 teaspoons Cream of Tartar to one cup of milk.

Plain Yogurt
Use one cup of plain yogurt in place of every one cup of buttermilk called for.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


I try to avoid deep fried foods but I just can't help myself when it comes to hushpuppies. This is my favorite hushpuppy recipe, it's a recipe that I have created from tweaking other recipes here and there. I think the Seasoned Salt in it makes a huge difference in the taste, it gives it just the little kick that it needs. Now, I am not one to add corn to my hushpuppies, but I am sure that you could add corn into this recipe without any problems.

2 cups yellow corn meal
1 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (see easy buttermilk substitutes if you don't have buttermilk on hand)
3/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons white sugar (optional - it gives them a sweet taste)
1 small onion, finely chopped
Canola or Peanut Oil for frying

1. Preheat oil to 350 degrees for frying. I fry my hushpuppies in a deep fryer but you can use a deep skillet.

2. Mix all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir in onion.

3. In a small bowl stir together the buttermilk and eggs.

4. Pour the buttermilk and egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir until well blended.

5. Drop the hushpuppy batter one teaspoon full at a time into the hot oil. Be sure to rinse your spoon in water between each hushpuppy.

6. Fry until golden brown. Be sure to turn them while they are cooking so they are browned each side.

7. Allow grease to drain from hushpuppies by removing them to a brown paper bag, newspapers, or paper towels.

Easy Cheesy Potatoes

My husband grew up in a family of picky eaters, they did not try a lot of different dishes, and he has carried that frame of mind over into his adult life. This has proved to be a huge obstacle in cooking dinner. Recently he has begun to try new things but still likes his basic meat and potatoes. I have tried to adapt my cooking to his tastes, but let's be honest there are only so many ways you can cook potatoes. I try to make the majority of my food from scratch, so I don't buy a lot of the pre-packaged potatoes in the box, they are pretty much a no-no at our house. However I do make a cheesy potato dish based upon those pre-packaged potatoes. It's really easy to make, and is a big hit with my family.

Just a note - all of my recipes are based upon a family of six, please be sure to adjust recipes according to the size of your family. If you need help scaling down a recipe please feel free to ask, I would love to help.

Easy Cheesy Potatoes

1. Peel and thinly slice eight medium sized potatoes.

2. On the stove top bring sliced potatoes to a boil. Cook potatoes until tender.

3. Drain potatoes.

4. In a well greased 9x11 cake pan (I use a glass pan) begin placing cooked potato slices. Once you have covered the bottom of the pan with potato slices cover the potatoes with American Cheese slices. On top of the cheese add another layer of potatoes, and cover it with American Cheese slices. Continue layering potato slices and American Cheese slices until all potatoes are used. I usually end up with two to three layers of potatoes and cheese.

5. Place potatoes in oven preheated to 350 degrees. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese is melted.

I have never used Velveeta or shredded cheese but I believe it would work as well as the American Cheese slices.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins

  1. That's a place where I want to be.
  2. Hello; I'm over here!
  3. The possibilities include: anything you want to be.
  4. Chicken and Dumplings is one of my favorite cool day recipes.
  5. How will you know where the sidewalk ends if you don't follow it.
  6. Summer nights and a stormy sky.
  7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to watching TV, tomorrow my plans include going to the Melonfest and Sunday, I want to REST!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

One of my goals this past week has been to implement meal planning. So with this comes my very first Menu Plan Monday post.

Monday - We will not be eating at home as we will be visiting my grandparents for a Labor Day celebration

Tuesday - Slow Cooked Asian Chicken (I will be using boneless skinless chicken breasts) served with stir fry vegetables and low mein noodles

Wednesday - Baked Tilapia with rice
I have a very simple way of baking tilapia. I line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lay the tilapia out on the foil. On top of each piece of tilapia I add a pat of butter, sprinkle it with Old Bay Seasoning, and then pour a little bit of lemon juice on it. Cover in aluminum foil, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until fish is flaky. Serve over a bed of rice.

Thursday - Beef Stroganoff

Friday - Tarragon Chicken

Saturday - Anna's Amazing Easy Pleasy Meatballs over Buttered Noodles the recipe as written is for 24 servings, but there is a calculator to adjust the serving amount which readjusts the recipe

Sunday - I do not cook on Sundays. We eat out after church on Sundays for lunch, and reheat the week's leftovers for supper.

Want to learn more about Menu Plan Monday? Visit I'm An Organizing Junkie.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Luscious Lemon Bars

I made these Luscious Lemon Bars for dessert tonight, and they are delicious! I usually end up tweaking all of the recipes that I use but this one needed no tweaking. The best part is that they are super easy to make!

Modern Domestic Goddesses vs. Older Feminists

I ran across an interesting article today from Australia that compares the views of older feminists with younger women who are trying to recreate the idyllic 1950's housewife lifestyle. You can read the article here.

While I do not agree with all of the views the younger women possess, especially the one about just accepting whatever amount of money her husband gives her to run the house, I do agree with many of their views and their wish to become more domestic instead of having it all.