Monday, October 26, 2009

Last Day to Sign Up!



Today is the last day to sign up for the ornament swap at This Southern Girl's Nest.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Menu Plan Monday, October 26th - November 1st

I am completely embarrassed to call this a menu plan this week, as there will be very little cooking going on around here next week. We are going to be traveling on Monday and will be eating on the road. Then on Tuesday our local Papa Johns will be hosting a fundraiser for the kids school so we will be eating pizza on Tuesday, and then on Friday afternoon we will be heading out in our camper for the weekend. The campground we are heading to has all kinds of cool activities planned for the kids for Halloween weekend, and then on Saturday they will get to trick or treat around the campground. So with all of this going on I will really only be cooking at home two nights this week. That's right, two nights! Now you see why I am embarased to call this a menu?


Monday - eating on the road

Tuesday - Papa Johns Fundraiser

Wednesday - Herb Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, lima beans, Buttery Bread Machine Rolls

Thursday - Moo Shu Pork with Mandarin Pancakes

Friday to Sunday - Gone Camping
Some of the goodies I am taking with me though are:

Baked Doughnuts

Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies (I add in a cup of coconut flakes which makes them yummy!)

Homemade Hamburger Buns (for sandwich rolls)

Beth's Spicy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

French Toast II

For more Menu Plan Monday ideas please visit I'm An Organizing Junkie.

One Halloween Costume Down (Almost), Two More to Go

I hate to say it but time has really gotten away from me this year. I haven't felt well the last few weeks, I have had a horrible sinus infection, and I haven't really felt like sewing. Believe it or not I am just now getting around to starting the kids Halloween costumes.

Back around Labor Day, yes that's how long I have been procrastinating, I bought this McCall's Pattern for the girl's Halloween costumes.

At first both girls wanted to be the pretty Renaissance princess but then, as usual, Sunshine changed her mind. She wanted to be a witch. Well, I had about nine yards of this shiny black fabric that I had purchased a while back that was just sitting in my sewing room, so I thought that would be perfect for a witch dress, and since I already had the pattern I thought why not use it to make a fancy witch dress.

And here is what I did today:



She absolutely loves the sleeves and the full skirt. She couldn't be happier. The witch hat we bought her has feathers around the brim, so I am going to go by Hancock Fabrics tommorow to see about some feathers to sew around the bottom of the skirt to maybe dress it up a little bit. But other than that I am done!
So that makes one costume down and two more to go this week!
Did I also mention I have five personalized Trick or Treat bags to make this week as well? I bet you can't guess what I will be doing this week!

Bread Machine French Bread

After playing around with many different recipes I have finally created a French Bread Recipe that can be mixed in the bread machine that is wonderful!

1 1/8 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil (you could also use vegetable or better blend)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast

Place all ingredients in the pan of your bread machine in the order listed above. Set bread machine to dough cycle.

When the cycle is complete, remove the dough from bread machine. Divide dough into two equal portions. Roll each portion out into a 9x13 inch rectangle. Pinch ends in and shape dough into a rounded shape. Place dough on a greased baking sheet and allow dough to rise for thirty minutes.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

***Optional***
About four minutes before bread is finished cooking remove bread from oven and spread the top with this Garlic Butter recipe. Return bread to oven and allow it to finish cooking. You can also use the Garlic Butter to spread on individual slices, once you have sliced the bread.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Christmas Ornament Swap - Only One Week Left to Sign Up


Don't forget about the Christmas Ornament Swap that is going on at Lisa's Chaos. If you want to participate you need to sign up by October 31st!

Highlights for Children - Remember These?

I remember getting Highlights magazines as a kid. My grandmother always bought me a subscription, and I loved looking over the books. The puzzles were always my favorite part, especially the hidden picture ones. Yet I still loved to read the Timbertoe cartoons.

We went this past week to get our flu shots, and while we were waiting my daughter and I started flipping through the Highlights magazine. She really liked it, and it brought back the memories of when I received my Highlights magazines. Tonight, I browsed over the Highlights magazine website and was amazed at the wide variety of products they now offer. They have the Hidden Pictures Playground which is chock full of the hidden picture puzzles (be still my heart), Which Way USA which is all about the 5o states which would be perfect for an elementary homeschool geography course, Top Secret Adventures which teaches world geography as kids pose as a super secret spy, and my daughters favorite Mathmania which is full of math problems

Right now they have a wide variety of offers on these new books on their website.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Show and Tell Friday - Sunshine's Tea Sets

After reading a blog post about Show and Tell Fridays on the blog A Little of This and That I decided to participate in Show and Tell Fridays myself.

Show and Tell Fridays is hosted by My Romantic Home, which is a very lovely blog. I love the photos of her home, and makes me wish that with my young children I could keep my home that lovely.

The week before this past Mother's Day I went with my daughter's to a local tea room. My girls absolutely loved it, especially Sunshine, who is the girliest girl I know. After our visit she was very insistent that she wanted a tea set for her birthday in August. I looked everywhere for the perfect tea set, I really wanted to find her the perfect, girly tea set, and I wanted it to be an antique.

Finally one Saturday I visited a yard sale where I found two tea sets that were ready to be painted, and the thought occurred to me that wouldn't it be even more special if I painted her tea set myself? I bought both sets, since they were a little different from each other. I found a local pottery studio who would fire them for me after I painted them.

This set didn't turn out quite the way I wanted it to, it was meant to be a more formal set but the paint didn't seem to take. When I picked them up, the lady at the studio told me they had been having trouble with this happening on some of their pieces, and believed it had to do with the paint they had gotten in.

Sunshine didn't care she loved it.


This yellow and orange set was meant to be her everyday set that she could play with. I painted it orange and yellow to match the sun since we call her sunshine. This set turned out exactly the way I wanted it to, and it is so pretty!

You will notice that one of the plates is missing a cup, it broke during the firing process.
My husband is making her two boxes to hold these. The boxes are made from cedar, with the inside covered in velvet, and little dividers to hold everything so that nothing gets broke. In the meantime we have been wrapping each piece in tissue paper after she finishes playing with them so that nothing gets broke.

For more Show and Tell Friday posts please visit My Romantic Home.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Crockpot Wednesday - Peking Pork Chops

I have been wondering for the past couple of days what I am going to blog about today for Crockpot Wednesday. I love my crockpot but I use so many of the same crockpot recipes over and over again when cooking in it. I have been using Stephanie O'Dea's blog A Year of Slow Cooking as a source for inspiration, she has some wonderful crockpot recipes on her site. I am actually cooking her Peking Pork Chops in my crockpot as we speak (well you know what I mean).

Doesn't it look yummy?




And the sauce smells so good. I think most of the smell comes from the 5 Spice Powder, which can be hard to find, I had to visit a Chinese Food Store to get mine. I also added some chopped onions to the mixture just for fun. Since there are six of us, I had to add more pork chops, so I doubled the sauce recipe. I am also using boneless chops instead of the ones with the bones, they were the ones that were on sale last week. I told you that I'm not good at following directions!


I hope they are as yummy as they smell!

For more great Crockpot Ideas and Recipes be sure to visit Dining With Debbie.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Madame Alexander Doll Giveaway at Frugal & Fabulous


Yes, another giveaway! My daughter is totally in love with the Madame Alexander dolls, and like Tori Spelling I believe they are to be played with. If you know of a little girl who would also love a Madame Alexander doll you should visit Frugal & Fabulous to register for a chance to win a Madame Alexander doll from Avon. If dolls aren't your thing, that's okay, Frugal & Fabulous is also giving away a basket full of Avon products.

The Princess and the Three Knights Giveaway

Have you heard about this new book from Zondervan Publishing yet? It is written by New York Times Best Selling Author Karen Kingsley and is one that I have been dying to get for my daughters. Right now Lisa at Blessed With Grace is giving away a hardcover copy. Be sure to visit her blog to find out how you can win!

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday....Peanut Butter Bars


You may not have been able to tell it by meal plans but I have been on a diet here lately. I usually fix a meat for supper that I can enjoy, and I eat a salad while my family enjoys their potatoes, homemade bread, and other carb filled goodies. My tummy has really been tempted lately, believe me.

Yesterday, while viewing other Menu Plan Monday posts, I ran across The Sister's Cafe blog. It is an awesome blog full of yummy, yummy recipes. I have so many that I want to try, and found one that I just couldn't pass up. It was their Peanut Butter Bars with Fudge Icing. My dieting, depraved tummy wanted some of these, and I knew my family would love these.

The one thing that struck me as odd when reading the recipe was the oatmeal that goes in them. I had never pictured oatmeal as an ingredient in peanut butter bars, so I was skeptical. However, I was suprised to learn the oatmeal gives them a delicious texture, and in my opinion is what makes them soooo great.

The only complaint I heard was that they were way too rich and that you couldn't eat a lot of them at once. I only had a very small piece and they were very rich but they were oh so good.

For more Tuesday Temptation please visit the Tempt My Tuesday blog carnival at Blessed with Grace.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook, October 19th


For Today

October 19, 2009


Outside my window....the sun is shining brightly.


I am thinking...about how much I need to get done but haven't gotten around to doing.


I am thankful for....the huge weight that has been lifted off of my shoulders by the events of last week and the opportunity for the weeks events to make a huge impact on my family's future.

From the kitchen....I just finished making homemade hoagie rolls for tonight's Meatball Hoagies.

I am wearing... blue jeans and an old long sleeved tee-shirt

I am creating....the girls Halloween costumes. It's down to crunch time and I need to get them finished this week.

I am going....to run a few errands before picking the kids up from school this afternoon.

I am hearing....nothing. Silence really is golden.

Around the house....I have a lot of laundry that needs to be done.

A few plans for the week....nothing. Isn't it wonderful?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Vegetable Soup with Hamburger

Ingredients:

1 pound low fat ground beef

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic

4 cups beef broth

4 cups water

2 - 14 ounce cans tomatoes (I prefer whole tomatoes but you can use diced)

16 ounce frozen mixed vegetables

3 potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

1/4 teaspoon thyme

3/4 cup elbow macaroni


Directions

1. Brown hamburger in a skillet. Drain off the grease and remove the meat from the skillet.

2. In the remaining grease in the skillet, cook the onion and garlic until translucent.

3. Place the cooked hamburger, garlic and onions in a stock pot. Add in remaining ingredients.

4. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and let soup simmer until macaroni is done. Remove Bay Leaf before serving.

Menu Plan Monday, October 18th to 25th

This past week was a very busy week for us. The kids were out of school on Thursday and Friday for fall break, and we had a family birthday dinner here on Saturday for our two oldest kids. As I promised last week I posted pictures of their cakes, and our menu from the dinner (along with the recipes). We didn't do anything too fancy, my husband has a new grill which he just had to use so he could show it off. Men really are just overgrown kids, aren't they?


Last Wednesday our local Papa Johns ran a special on large pizzas, which was a fundraiser for the kids school. So we ended up enjoying Papa John's pizza instead of our scheduled Meatball Hoagies, which have been bumped to this week's menu.

Here's what on the menu for us this week:

Monday: Super Easy Crockpot Meatball Hoagies

Tuesday: Peking Pork Chops, Spicy Red Roasted Potatoes from the Feeding the Healthy Vegetarian Family cookbook, Baked Beans, Sweet Dinner Rolls

Wednesday: Vegetable Soup with Hamburger, The Ultimate Breadsticks (I halve the recipe and mix in my bread machine)

Thursday: Baked Ham, The Best Baked Potatoes, Sweet and Sour Green Beans, Sweet Dinner Rolls

Friday: Pizza Braid

Saturday: Honey Thyme Pork Chops, Parmesan Steak Fries from Martha Stewart's Great Food Fast Cookbook, Grilled Bacon Wrapped Cabbage, French Bread

To learn more about Menu Plan Monday or to view more Menu Plan Monday posts please visit I'm An Organizing Junkie.

Grilled Bacon Wrapped Cabbage

This is one of our favorite foods cooked on the grill. It's always a crowd pleaser when we serve it at gatherings.

Ingredients:

Cabbage, cut into 8 wedges
Bacon
Butter

Directions

Wrap a wedge of cabbage with a slice of bacon and place on a piece of aluminum foil. Place 1 teaspoon of butter on top of cabbage wedge, and finish wrapping with foil. Cook on grill for about 45 minutes.

Homemade Honey Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients:

1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Directions

1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.

2. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-low heat, cook 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

It's Birthday Time!

Yesterday we had a family birthday dinner for our two oldest children. Our oldest son, Skateboarder, will be turning 16 on Tuesday and our oldest daughter, Bubbles, turned 12 last Saturday. On top of that yesterday was also my mother-in-laws birthday, and I will politely not mention her age. So on Friday I made three birthday cakes.


I normally make all of my cakes and icing from scratch but knowing that I had three to make this go around I decided to use a boxed cake mix and ready made icing for these cakes. The icing is where I messed up. I made Bubbles this purse cake:

The purse was suppose to stand up but the icing kept running, it was too thin or something. So I decided to lay the cake down. It ended up being a lopsided mess but she was still happy with it. Definetly not one of my best cakes.
David wanted a Mustang cake, so my first thought was to make him a cake in the shape of a Mustang but than after much thought, remembering that I had three to make in the same day, I settled on making him this round cake with a Mustang emblem in the middle. He was happy too.


Now for our lunch menu:
Grilled pork chops marinated in my homemade Honey Barbecue Sauce
Baked Beans
Greek Tomato and Feta Salad from the Feeding The Healthy Vegetarian Family cookbook

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Crock Pot Wednesday - Hot Fudge Cake

I love cake. It makes me very, very happy. And you know when momma's happy, everybody's happy.

I also love my crockpot. Actually I am addicted to my crockpot My family teases me quite a bit about it. I probably need to join a twelve step program to help me deal with my crockpot addiction, but that's a whole other post.

So when I found a recipe that combines my two greatest loves (cake and crockpots) you know I just couldn't pass it up.

This Hot Fudge Cake recipe on Disney Foods is unbelievable.

Go ahead, give it a try. You know you want to!

And head on over to Dining With Debbie for more Crockpot Wednesday posts!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Irritated with Blogger! Help!

I am so irritated with Blogger. When I type out my Menu Plan Monday post I format it and space it just like I want it but then as soon as I hit Preview or Publish it all gets squished up. Any ideas on what I am doing wrong or how I can fix this?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Christmas Ornament Swap

I never start thinking about Christmas until after Thanksgiving, it's a rule that I have always had, but this year has been an odd year. I've actually been thinking about it for months. I already know what I want to cook, where I want to put my tree, and I started making ornaments for my tree in August. For some reason I am really looking forward to Christmas this year. Maybe Santa has something extra special in store for me this year? Anyways, when I ran across this ornament exchange at Lisa's Chaos I just knew I had to participate. Anyone else want to join me? You have until October 31st to sign up if you do so hop on over to Lisa's Chaos and sign up! Maybe you will get to be my swap partner! Wouldn't that be cool?

Menu Plan Monday - October 12th - 18th


I really like doing Menu Plan Monday, it gives me a great idea of what to cook for dinner each week, lets me know what I need to buy at the grocery store, and forces me to get organized. The only problem with Menu Plan Monday is that the past few weeks I have had a hard time sticking to it, something has come up here, or something has come up there and there goes my menu! This past week I had planned on trying Peking Pork Chops, a recipe we hadn't tried yet but we never got around to it. My husband, who was in the mood for some red meat, ended up grilling steaks on the grill on Wednesday night instead. Then on Saturday night we were scheduled to have Dry Rub Chicken with Honey Barbecue Sauce but we decided to go to church on Saturday night this week instead of Sunday, so we ended up eating out instead. Oh well, maybe this week will be better. It will be better! Right?
So here's what I have planned for us this week:
Tuesday - Hamburgers with Homemade Hamburger Buns, Grilled Potato Wedges, Baked Beans (Yes we are still using our grill - my husband will grill in two feet of snow, he doesn't know the meaning of grill season)
Wednesday - Super Easy Crock Pot Meatball Hoagies (Movie Night - this week we are watching E.T.)
Thursday - The Best Crab Cakes (I just wanted to note that I use Imitation Crab Meat in this recipe and will use my food processor to make bread crumbs from last nights leftover Hoagie rolls), Mashed Potatoes, Cauliflower with Cheese
Saturday - We are having a birthday party for our oldest son and daughter who both have birthdays in October. Skateboarder will be turning 16 and Bubbles turned 12 this week. As always we will be having a full meal that day. I will post the menu with recipes later on this week, as well as pictures of their cakes.
Be sure to visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for more Menu Plan Monday posts.

Pizza and a Movie

We have been trying to implement a family movie night at our house, but it just keeps getting put on the back burner. Friday night we were suppose to go to the Halloween parade in town but the rain kept us at home. The kids were really looking forward to something "fun" (you know we never have ANY fun) to do. So we decided this would be the perfect night for our first family movie night.

I made homemade pizza dough in my breadmaker using this recipe, and I used a jar of my homemade pizza sauce (the recipe is here) that I had canned (it was actually my last jar so I am going to have to make some more soon).

We all like different toppings on our pizzas so I divided my pizza dough into six individual sized pizzas. I set up the toppings into small bowls, and had the kids come two at a time to top (I keep wanting to say decorate) their own pizzas.

After the pizzas were done we watched The Legend of Sleepy Hollow together while we ate. All in all it was a great night in with the kids.

Super Easy Crock Pot Meatball Hoagies

Normally I am all for made from scratch meals. It's my way of showing my family just how much I care, but then there are those times when you need those meals that are really easy to prepare. These Super Easy Crockpot Meatball Hoagies are perfect for a day when you need a break, or when you can find both frozen meatballs and spaghetti sauce on sale. Who doesn't like a sale? Right?

Ingredients
16 Ounce Bag Frozen Meatballs
26 Ounce Jar Spaghetti Sauce
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Hoagie Buns (I make mine from scratch using this Homemade Hamburger Bun recipe and cutting the dough into hoagie shapes instead of buns)

1. Mix frozen meatballs and spaghetti sauce in slow cooker.
2. Cook on low heat for about 2 to 4 hours.
3. Place meatballs and sauce on hoagie buns. Cover with shredded Mozzarella cheese.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sensational Peppermint Pattie Brownies

Last night's we had Sensational Peppermint Pattie Brownies for dessert and they were a huge hit. I found the recipe on the Hershey's kitchen website, and highly recommend it. You can find the recipe here. I would love to know what you think if you give the recipe a try!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - October 5th

You may have noticed I have been pretty quiet this week. It's been a long week for us. After homeschooling for several years my kids have made the move back into a traditional school. The transition, while smooth, has really upset our schedule, and has left us scrambling to work out a new one.

Despite the change in schedule we were still able to stick pretty close to last week's menu, however the Shrimp Marinara and Olive Garden's Zuppa Tuscana Soup got dropped this week. The Tarragon Chicken was delicious as always, and is definitely one of my favorite slow cooker recipes. Both the Applebee's Onion Peels and Chinese Dumplings were new recipes, and both recipes were pretty labor intensive as far as preparing them goes. The Chinese Dumplings weren't worth the effort to me, the dough was hard to work with, and the end result just wasn't what I had hoped for. However, the Applebee's Onion Peels were a huge hit, I think my kids could have made a meal off of just them.

I also tried two cookie recipes this week that weren't on my weekly menu but were a huge hit. The first was Lemon Sugar Cookies from Making a House a Home. My kids loved these and I loved the fact that they were so easy to make! The second cookie recipe was Beth's Spicy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, which has become my husband's new favorite recipe. The recipe makes a huge batch, which I made on Monday night, we froze the leftovers, and my husband ate some of the thawed out ones today. They were still tasty, even after being frozen.

Here's what we have lined up for this week:

Monday - Basic Chili Crockpot Recipe

Tuesday - Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana (dropped from last week's menu), The Ultimate Breadsticks (I halve the recipe and mix the dough in my bread machine)

Wednesday - Stir-Fried Chicken With Gingered Vegetables, Steamed White Rice

Thursday - Peking Pork Chops, The Best Baked Potatoes, Salad with Homemade Dressing, Sweet Dinner Rolls

Friday - We will be going to a Halloween parade in town, and will be eating out.

Saturday Breakfast - Banana French Toast from 50's Housewife

Saturday Dinner - Dry-Rub Chicken with Honey Barbecue Sauce, Oven Home Fries with Peppers & Onions , Sweet and Sour Green Beans, Sweet Dinner Rolls