Thursday, December 29, 2011

Blueberry Peach Baked Oatmeal

December 046

I don’t know about anyone else, but I have gorged myself for the last couple of months. I have been on the see food diet—see food and eat it! I realize that I need to do better and with the new year coming up in a few days it seems like the natural time to be the change I want to see! I was reading the latest issue of Healthy Cooking magazine and found an article about the Comfort Food diet. I had never really heard of it, but several recipes sounded yummy—especially the blueberry peach baked oatmeal. My family and I have been eating a lot of baked oatmeal since school started thanks to the abundance of good recipes on We’ve tried double chocolate baked oatmeal, banana baked oatmeal, pumpkin baked oatmeal, and peanut butter baked oatmeal. So, really it seemed natural to try the recipe from the Healthy Cooking magazine. I did modify their recipe some because I was missing several ingredients, but my version was scrumptious!! I also think this would be heavenly with raspberries or blackberries instead of blueberries Smile!

3 cups of quick cooking oats (original recipe called for old-fashioned oats)

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed ( I added a little less)

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon (not in the original recipe)

2 egg whites

1 whole egg

1-1/4 cups light vanilla soy milk (original recipe called for skim milk)

1/4 canola oil

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 can sliced peaches, drained (we just left them in slices but you can chop them if desired)

1 cup frozen blueberries

1/3 cup chopped pecans (original recipe called for walnuts)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine oats, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl. In small bowl, whisk together egg whites, egg, soy milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix together. Stir in blueberries and peaches. Place mixture in a 13x9 inch pan, sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Add the pecans to the top. Bake uncovered for 35 minutes.

Spoon baked oatmeal into bowls and add a splash of soy milk. ENJOY!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Menu Plan for the Week of December 26

I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas. I know our family sure did. We started some new traditions this year since my dear husband had to work on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. We had eaten a traditional Christmas dinner on Friday and Saturday night, so I made some homemade lasagna Saturday night and put it in the oven last night. It was so yummy—and it was red, so I think it was pretty festive! lol! I think I liked it so much I want to spread out the festivities with our families every year!! Anyhoo, on to this week’s menu plan…

Monday: leftovers—lasagna

Tuesday: leftovers—whatever’s left Smile

Wednesday: grilled London broil and veggies

Thursday: grilled chicken and veggies

Friday: bean burritos

Saturday: homemade pizza night-maybe

Sunday: something easy—with spinach (because I do not like collard greens) and black-eyed peas



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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Menu Plan for the Week of December 5

Monday: my chicken casserole, veggies
Tuesday: grilled chicken, rice pilaf, veggies
Wednesday: turkey and bean burritos
Thursday: crescent chicken
Friday: eat out for my birthday
Saturday: pizza night
Sunday: leftovers or soup

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Menu Plan for the Week of November 28

So…it’s been a while since I posted my weekly meal plan. I have been meal planning…the plans just haven’t made their way to the blog…After our feasting on Thanksgiving and living on the leftovers of that feast for the days after, I have decided that I want to cook again lol. Seriously, after all the cooking we did for our Thanksgiving meal, I thought I would never cook again (and it was potluck!). We did all the deserts and my husband and I came up with some pretty lofty plans that included two different cheesecakes , a gingerbread cake, a spice cake, and a trifle---all from scratch. I’m tired just typing that! Having typed all that, I don’t think that any of these meals are going to seriously strain me in any way. The spicy refried bean soup is a recipe I just came across and it looked so good on the blog I decided we needed to try it. The ingredients were cheap and I love a bean soup-yummy!


Monday: Spicy refried bean soup

Tuesday: scrambled eggs and hashbrowns

Wednesday: turkey burgers on whole wheat buns with sprouts and avocado, roasted sweet potatoes

Thursday: crescent chicken, creamed corn, green beans

Friday: homemade pizza night

Saturday: Christmas party

Sunday: some sort of soup or chili



This is linked to

Sunday Morning Thoughts

Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

~~Psalm 30: 4-5

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Even More to Be Grateful For...

13. Fall, my favorite season
14. a good sense of humor
15. the kiddos in my classroom
16. family joining us for Thanksgiving
17. the beauty of the Smoky Mountains
18. coworkers who have been my friends since we were kids
19. the ability to cook my family good meals
20. my Good Morning Girls group
21. freedom and to read my Bible
22. freedom and ability to pray anywhere

Saturday, November 12, 2011


12. I am thankful for all of the veterans who have served our country to give me the freedom to even be typing this right now!

Friday, November 11, 2011

More to Be Grateful For…

So…my plan to post one item a day hasn’t worked out so far, so here are 5 days worth to catch up.

7. my nieces and nephews

8. my family who I don’t see nearly enough

9. my church family

10. a warm home

11. three children who enjoy reading (which makes school and homework a little easier Smile)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Month of Gratitude

I’ve been inspired as I login to my Facebook account and read several other blogs. I am inspired by what others are grateful for. I know I’m a few days late, but I am going to try to post at least one thing I am personally grateful for each day of November.

Here is my first list (longer because I need to catch up):

1. My Savior, Jesus Christ, who lives!!

2. My loving husband

3. My child who was born to me and my two children who were not. I love them all three!

4. My parents

5.My in-laws

6. Nice, quiet Sunday afternoons to regroup and recharge

Monday, October 17, 2011

Menu Plan for the Week of October 17

Monday: fried chicken breasts, mashed potatoes, baked beans, rolls, dump cake and ice cream—made my awesome husband and my oldest daughter gets credit for the dump cake Smile

Tuesday: fried chicken breasts, winter squash casserole, green beans, rolls

Wednesday: chicken enchilada casserole, corn on the cob

Thursday: breakfast for supper—scrambled eggs, bacon, hashbrowns

Friday: pizza night

Saturday: bean burritos, rice

Sunday: leftovers or something easy

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Freezer Cooking Results for October 15

This month I did my freezer cooking a little different. I followed a lot of the recipes from the traditional menu at Once a Month Mom. I also found one recipe from the whole foods menu that sounded awesome. I shopped yesterday (dreading the check-out line the whole time) and was pleasantly surprised when the total wasn’t bad at all!! I chopped lots of veggies last night and cooked some of the chicken last night and had it ready to go for today. Having done that, I still cooked all day. I finally got done with cooking and packaging 9 1/2 hours later! I am pretty sure it wasn’t supposed to take me that long but this is quite an accomplishment for me because I am usually not done that fast and I don’t have nearly as large a yield of food. Everything that my family and I sampled was scrumptious…especially the muffins and the pasta!!!

Here’s the complete list of items making my freezers bulge right now:

  • over 5 dozen pumpkin chocolate chip muffins
  • over 3 dozen harvest pancakes
  • 3 meals of spinach artichoke pasta
  • 1 meal of chicken and wild rice soup
  • 1 meal of taco soup
  • 2 meals of Monterrey chicken
  • 4 meals of Mexican chicken lasagna
  • 1 meal of seasoned taco meat
  • 3, 3 cup containers of chicken broth
  • 5 lunch portions of taco soup
  • 9 lunch portions of chicken and wild rice soup
  • 3 meals worth of salsa chicken

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Making Your Home a Haven Challenge


I am going to be participating in the “Making Your Home a Haven “ challenge from this month. I participated last year and I must say it really was a calmer home to be in during that time. My personal challenge this year will be continuing well after the month of October is gone.

This week I am supposed to light a candle and pray for my family each time the flicker of the candle catches my eye. Sounds easy—right? Well, I found out really quick last year how I take a lot of things for granted—small things like the flicker of a candle. It was hard to notice it because I had grown so accustomed to it just being there. How many other things do I take for granted like that? Far too many, I’m sure.

Well, I have my candles ready and waiting…

Menu Plan for the Week of October 3

I love fall! I love the way the air smells outside. I love the way the leaves change color. I love watching the wind blow the trees and bushes around. I also love fall food—you know, the chili, the soup, the hearty meals that we all eat during fall and winter. Yum!! I can’t wait to implement more of that food into my meal plans in the weeks to come Smile .

Monday: homemade cheese pizza and salad

Tuesday: chicken fajitas and black beans

Wednesday: grilled chicken and veggies

Thursday: Not My Mama’s Chili and grilled cheeses

Friday: eat out

Saturday: eat out

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bullseye Pizza



I LOVE BBQ chicken pizza!! Actually the first one I tried was a Lean Cuisine pizza and it was pretty darn good for a diet meal! I never could talk my husband into ordering one if we were out somewhere and I don’t remember how he ever did come to like them but the homemade kind using Bullseye BBQ sauce is the BEST!!!!

I usually make 2 pizzas but you can adjust the amounts to what you like…

2 pizza crusts—I have used pre-made in the past and they have worked well, but recently I have discovered frozen pizza dough at my local grocery store. It’s so easy-just thaw, let it rise, shape it, and pre-bake a little.

1 lb. or less of either grilled chopped chicken or shredded chicken (I usually toss mine with a little extra BBQ sauce)

1 onion, chopped and sautéed

1 container of sliced mushrooms from the produce section, sautéed

1/2 bottle, Bullseye BBQ sauce

mozzarella cheese (can mix with sharp cheddar for a yummy tasteSmile)

parmesan cheese



Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. On each pizza crust, put an amount of BBQ sauce that you would enjoy on a pizza (if you like a lot of sauce, put a lot of BBQ sauce!) Top with chicken, veggies, cheeses, and oregano. Make a bulls eye pattern on the top of the pizza with extra BBQ sauce and put the pizza in the oven until the cheese and crust is golden. Cut and enjoy!

Menu Plan for the Week of September 12

This is simply gonna be an awesome week…We started yesterday with our nephew’s birthday; Wednesday is dd7’s birthday (she’ll be 8 of course!), and we have an early release day from school for parent/teacher conferences (which means I still have to work but I will have a sort of workday in between conferences to plan and get my room back in order Smile )!
Monday: Bullseye pizza and salad with ranch dressing
Tuesday: breakfast for supper—scrambled eggs, hashbrown potatoes, toast, and fruit
Thursday: Mexican chicken and rice skillet and salad
Friday: Black bean soup with cheddar cheese and sour cream
Saturday: beef and bean burritos
Sunday: something simple or leftovers

Monday, September 5, 2011

Menu Plan for the Week of September 5

Having just filled two freezers with food, I have the unique problem of not knowing what to fix for supper this week—not because we don’t have any groceries, but because we have a variety! I love it!! Here’s the tentative plan.

Monday: eat out for Labor Day

Tuesday: shredded chicken tacos and black beans

Wednesday: grilled chicken with Normandy veggies

Thursday: shepard’s pie

Friday: Mexican rice casserole

Saturday: beef and bean burritos and Spanish rice

Sunday: something simple or leftovers

Freezer Cooking Results for the Weekend of September 2-4

When I thought about freezer cooking this weekend I really hadn’t planned on too much—a couple batches of chili, a batch of waffles, and my usual pb & j sandwiches for the kids’ lunches. I’m not sure what happened after that but this freezer cooking session just kinda sprouted legs and came alive! It wasn’t one day or even a day and a half—over two days worth of cooking!!

Here is the yield from this labor-fest…

2 meals worth of white chili

1 meal worth of regular chili

25 whole wheat Belgian waffles

3 loaves of whole wheat cranberry bread (one of which has nearly been devoured by our family for breakfast!)

2 batches of chocolate protein bars—16 servings

2 batches of carrot cake protein bars—16 servings

1 batch of cinnamon swirl protein bars—8 servings

12 sandwiches for the kids lunches—Thank goodness for the 4 day week this week! I ran out of peanut butter!!

10 cups of chicken broth (besides what was used in the white chili)

2 (2 cup) bags of black beans

2 (2 cup) bags of shredded chicken

2 shepard’s pies

2 bags of breaded okra (fresh from the garden—really, I hadn’t planned on this item but my mother-in-law called and asked if we wanted any okra and we of course said—YES!)

4 (2 cup) bags of white rice

2 lunch-sized servings of white chili

4 lunch-sized servings of regular chili


Let me just add…I am completely worn out!!!!! And yes, I did post this after 1 am—I just finished putting the last of the food into the freezer! Thank goodness I didn’t fix any more food because the freezers are packed to the gills!!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Menu Plan for the Week of August 29

Another crazy week for the Brooks household…Actually, I think every week that we have school is a crazy week!

Here are my menu ideas for this crazy one…

Monday: grilled London broil, hashbrown potatoes, Normandy veggies

Tuesday: shredded chicken tacos and pinto beans

Wednesday: homemade Margarita pizza

Thursday: beef and bean burritos and Spanish rice

Friday: eat out with friends

Saturday: grilled chicken and Normandy veggies

Sunday: something simple or leftovers

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Menu Plan for the Week of August 22

Well school is off in full swing which means that things around my house are too. It’s so crazy around here that I dare not put a date to any of these menu ideas! Smile

So, here they are (in no particular order)…

grilled London broil and steamed veggies

California rolls, lettuce wraps, sauteed zucchini (my dear husband is experimenting with all of this—he is a fantastic cook)

grilled chicken breast and steamed veggies

breakfast for supper—scrambled eggs, toast, and fruit

beef and bean burritos

pizza night

slow cooker BBQ beef sandwiches

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Menu Plan for the Week of August 15

Well, we have officially all gone back to school! So far, our home hasn’t gone too crazy (thankfully). This is the first full week of school, though. We’ll see….

Monday—hotdogs, chili, tater tots
Tuesday—eating out for DS’s birthday!!! He’ll be 7 Smile
Wednesday—crescent chicken, garden veggies
Thursday—shredded chicken tacos, black beans
Friday—pizza and salad night
Saturday—grilled London broil, garden veggies
Sunday—something easy, maybe leftovers

Linked to

The First Day of School

first day of school

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Freezer Cooking Results for August 12

Well, I didn't do a ton of freezer cooking today, but we got some accomplished which was the plan! I made a huge batch of whole wheat waffles for my kids to have for breakfast before school. I think it made about 27 Belgian waffles. At 1 huge waffle each for breakfast with some fruit, that should last for 9 mornings! I don't think that's bad at all considering I have three kiddos and limited freezer space!
We also made enough peanut butter sandwiches for the kids to have for a week of lunches! Now I know it doesn't take a long time to make a peanut butter sandwich but when we are making three every evening and making coffee and laying out clothes and cooking supper and doing our chores and everything else we do to get ready for our day...well, you know. It's just nice to not have one more thing to worry about! We plan to do this most every week (my kids love peanut butter sandwiches).
Soooo, our tally is: 27 Belgian waffles and 15 peanut butter sandwiches for a very short amount of time on a Saturday afternoon--plenty of time left to play!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Menu Plan for the Week of August 8

Well, we go back to school this week…I started back Friday and the kids start back this Thursday. It’s gonna be crazzzyyyy around the Brooks household.
Here are the menu “ideas” for the week---very subject to change…

  • chicken fajitas on whole wheat tortillas and black beans
  • grilled chicken salad
  • beef burritos and Spanish rice
  • shredded chicken tacos
  • grilled London broil with fresh garden veggies
  • grilled chicken with fresh garden veggies
  • eat out

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Menu Plan for the Week of August 1

Well, this is another busy week in the Brooks household…I go back to my day job this week so I expect the days up until then to be busy with preparations for what comes this month---SCHOOL!

Possible Entrees for the Week (served with veggies, of course):
  • beef bbq sandwiches
  • chicken fajitas with whole wheat tortillas
  • shredded chicken tacos
  • grilled London broil
  • lasagna

Thursday, July 28, 2011

French Onion Chicken Wraps

I actually just made these up tonight--really...but they were soo yummy I thought, I have to share these!
In the next town over, there is an amazing little coffee shop that serves wraps and I guess that was the inspiration for this meal. When I go, I always order the black and blue wrap--lots of salad greens, blue cheese, and roast beef. Well, tonight I didn't have blue cheese or roast beef, so I went a little more low sodium lol. This was the perfect easy super for a hot summer evening. I even had the grilled chicken already cooked and sliced in the freezer. I just pulled the bag out of the freezer (I let it thaw for a few minutes) and into a little glass pan for a couple of minutes in the microwave--just long enough that we weren't eating ice cold chicken.

To make one wrap you will need:

1 whole wheat tortilla--just whatever size you have is fine
sliced, grilled chicken
1 wedge of light Laughing Cow French Onion cheese
salad greens

Spread the whole wedge of cheese onto one side of the tortilla. Cover that with salad greens. Along one side of that, put a layer of chicken. Starting with that end of the tortilla, roll the tortilla like a burrito. Hold it with a couple of toothpicks and cut into two pieces. Serve with a little cup of dressing to dip the wrap into. (I used Italian dressing.)

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Weekend Bloggy Reading

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Just to give you a heads-up, tax-free weekend in North Carolina is August 5-7. I just love the idea of not having to pay tax on something and if you buy a bigger ticket item or a lot of shoes or apparel, this can really save the money.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Going to Letterland

Well,I just returned from a two day workshop on implementing Letterland in my second grade classroom. It's always good to have the "bonding" time with colleagues that I work so closely with but this was a great workshop too. We had such an enthusiastic presenter--which is a definite plus if you don't sleep well in a different place like me and you tend to get super tired after lunch at workshops and such.
I taught using Letterland at the previous school system I worked in but the system I work for now is going to be implementing it in second grade starting this year. It's exciting because I know that it is a good program and it works.
In case you don't know, Letterland is a systematic, research-based phonics approach. Each letter has characters who represent the letter and its sounds--since we all know that the letters make different sounds in different words! :) There is a story for each different spelling pattern and it's easy for the kids to remember. They really enjoy "going to Letterland".
The program begins in pre-school and continues through second grade. Our emphasis is going to be on spelling in word study units with more complex spelling patterns. We'll sing songs, act the stories out, work on the computer program, and learn--all at the same time.
If you are interested, they have a website--
I don't how it would be to use if you are homeschooling or if it is at all designed for it; I've just never taught it to a few kids. I will say that I have a storybook about all the characters a-z and my kids have been know to sneak it off the bookshelf in my bedroom a time or two lol!

bloghopbutterflybutton Terrific Thursday Blog Hop! Week 25

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Menu Plan for the Week of July 25

Well, this is a crazy week—two weeks til school starts back for me and the kids are taking swimming lessons and we have Bible School. Ah, the joys of summertime. It’ll be over all too soon… Here’s the proposed plan for the week…


Monday—kids eat at Bible School, parents ??

Tuesday—kids eat at Bible School, parents??

Wednesday—kids eat at Bible School, parents??

Thursday—chicken fajitas, black beans

Friday—beef bbq sandwiches, bbq beans

Saturday—grilled chicken wraps in whole wheat tortillas, grilled zucchini

Sunday—shredded chicken tacos, corn


**By the way, all of the meat on the menu is either prepared and ready to cook or already cooked and in the freezer Smile!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Our Adoption Story—Part 5

Well, we moved on with life after the kids left but it just wasn’t the same. We had gotten used to having a household of five. It seemed so quiet-and our daughter seemed lonely. The kids went on to live with a great family just down the road from us-another kinship placement of sorts. Then they went back to the parents, then back to the great family, then back to the parents. The first time we saw them after they left our home, they were on an unsupervised visit with the parents. When the girl saw me, she came to me and said, “pick me up Mommy”. (We were always so amazed at the way that we were “Mommy and Daddy” and the parents were “Mom and Dad” and they kept it straight.) I picked her up and just held her tight. Her mom got so mad that she had to go to another room. We saw them ever so often but over time they forgot who I was. I told my husband that I’d rather not see them anymore because it was too painful-they remembered him and had no problem playing with our daughter (I think it was a spite thing with the parents as to why they didn’t act as if I were there and still knew my husband’s name).

A year and a half went by. We prayed for the kids’ safety because we knew that they had been back and forth with the parents and knew that it wasn’t the best of situations. I don’t even remember what day of the week it was or anything when it happened; I just remember that I had been going to walk around the high school track with a friend each evening and I was getting ready to leave. My husband was at work; he called home to tell me what was going on—the parents had been caught in a drug buy and the kids were with them. (That’s all I really say about that.) DSS wanted to know if we would take them back. I immediately said yes. This was the answer to our prayers—this is the way that God was telling us that the kids would be okay. I talked to the social worker on the phone and within 30 minutes the kids were at our home.

We were in a much better shape to take them this time. We owned our home by this time—a bigger place than the tiny two bedroom apartment we lived in when they had been with us the first time. We had a big yard to play in. I worked in the county where we lived—just a couple of minutes from home, too. We were also older and knew how things worked with DSS a little better.

The kids broke my heart when they came in the house. They were filthy and stank. Their clothes were in awful shape. They had been at daycare that day and I knew from experience that kids who have been at daycare all day aren’t going to be the cleanest kids—they’ve played all day-- but this was ridiculous! Their faces were filthy too. The trash bag full of clothes that the social worker brought stank and had to immediately be washed and gone through. They were torn and stained and mostly didn’t match. That first night, after supper and baths, the kids had a little sleepover in our daughter’s bedroom. We didn’t have enough beds for everyone. I remember staying up late washing clothes and trying to find some that matched.

We didn’t know how long the kids would be with us this time but we were ready for the journey.


The previous parts of this story can be found in archives.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Our Adoption Story—Part 4

Well, about a month after the first supervised visit, the children went for another visit with their parents. This turned into sporadic supervised visits. There was no rhyme or reason to when the visits occurred-the social worker would contact my husband, who would play phone tag with me because the children and I were in a completely different county and it was up to me to bring them back in time for a visit. We begged for a schedule since most of the visits were coordinated on the day that they were to occur. Our requests were ignored.

During this time, our family went through a whole range of emotions. Our daughter thought that her cousins were going back home each and every they went for a visit. She would get upset. We would get upset because we didn’t really know what to tell her or really what was going on ourselves. It is DSS’s role to preserve the family. We wanted the parents to step up and take responsibility but at the same time, we had learned a lot about the situation and really didn’t want them to go back. It was an agonizing time. Stressful doesn’t even begin to describe it. My husband was in school completing certification for his job during this time, we had just moved into an apartment, I worked in a different county as a teacher, I drove the children to and from daycare on a long commute each day, and it was pretty much just me at home with the kids each evening, Monday thru Thursday because of my husband being in school. To top it off, our social worker was very unsympathetic to any of our requests. It felt like nothing we said or did meant anything. We felt helpless to take care of these children and then watch them be put right back into the same situation.

We wanted so much to be strong and do the “right thing”, but when I started having excruciating headaches that wouldn’t go away and was having to go to the ER, it was all clearly too much. Our three-year-old daughter knew what DSS was and that they could take you away from your parents. We did what we thought was the right thing to do for our family (us and our daughter)-we made the call to the social worker and had the children moved from our home. If was the hardest thing we have ever done as husband and wife. We felt awful for it, but we knew that we couldn’t continue to jeopardize my health and our daughter’s emotional well-being. I’d like to say that we prayed about our decision, but I honestly don’t remember doing it. We did pray after they left-a lot-for their safety.


The previous parts to this story can be found in the archives.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Menu Plan for the Week of July 18

Ok, so I haven’t menu planned in a while--crazy summer at the Brooks house Smile! I’m not even gonna write days of the week on this one, but I am gonna write breakfasts and lunch ideas because we are on summer vacation from school still.

oatmeal with blackberries and walnuts
raisin pecan zucchini bread
oatmeal pancakes

leftovers from supper
peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
scrambled eggs and wheat toast

grilled london broil with grilled veggies and steamfresh rice
beef burritoes in low-carb tortillas
grilled chicken and BBQ baked beans
lasagna (from the freezer Smile)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Comments I am not sure what I was doing but I just deleted 24 comments from this blog...If you left a comment recently and I deleted it I'm sorry :( It was not intentional.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Our New Composter

My husband and I recently decided to give composting a try. We have lots of grass clippings, leaves, and such around the house PLUS lots of garbage that a family of five creates. We like to garden and would like to do more of it and have healthier plants and flowers. Sounds pretty win-win to me!
We purchased a small ceramic compost bin for our kitchen (it has a charcoal filter so we don't smell anything) and a larger compost tumbler for our back yard.
We are excited about this because it is frugal and green. We won't be throwing away nearly as much garbage--we'll be recycling!!
We don't know a whole lot about composting but I am sure we will be learning quickly...


Let's Just Give It Away


Smart and Trendy Moms

Cabbage Rolls

cabbage rolls
Well, we are so thankful to have an abundance of fresh produce from my in-laws. They gave us onions, cabbage, cucumbers, squash and zucchini, green beans and lettuce so far. I sure don’t want this to go to waste because 1) it’s really good, fresh produce, and 2) it’s FREE! So…I don’t eat cole slaw and I didn’t know what to do with the head of cabbage until I started thinking about the cooked ground beef I had in the freezer for just such an occasion. I am pretty sure I have never made or eaten cabbage rolls until tonight, but this won’t be the last time I’m sure. These were awesome! Even DS6 was excited when he saw his plate (and he’s a pretty picky guy). I found this recipe in my Betty Crocker Cookbook and tweaked it ever so slightly. We are watching our weight after all!
1 head of cabbage
1 lb. lean ground beef, cooked and drained
1/2 c. uncooked quinoa
1 c. water
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce (or two 8 oz. cans)
onion (as much or as little as you prefer—I added two small onions from the garden and they equaled about half a store-bought onion)
16 oz. container of fresh mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. olive oil
onion powder, to taste
garlic powder, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
Mrs. Dash, to taste

First, add quinoa and water to a small pot, cover and let boil about 10-15 minutes.
Heat olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the mushrooms and onions and let them cook down for a few minutes.
While those ingredients are cooking, add separated cabbage leaves to a pot of boiling water. Let boil until limp (about 10 minutes). Drain and set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, put ground beef, onion powder, garlic powder, Mrs. Dash, salt and pepper, 1/2 of the tomato sauce and the quinoa, mushrooms, and onions when finished.
In a small bowl, mix the rest of the tomato sauce, lemon juice, and sugar. Set Aside.
In a cabbage leaf, place a small amount of filling (about 1/3 c.). Roll the leaf around the filling much like you would roll a burrito. Place in a slightly greased 9x13 in. pan. Repeat this until all filling has been used.
Pour the small bowl of remaining tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls and bake until heated through and the cabbage is browned a little around the edges (about 30-40 minutes).

NOTES: You will most likely have cabbage leaves left. I just ate the ones I had left over Smile.
The original recipe called for uncooked ground beef and 1/2 c. uncooked instant rice to be combined in the filling. I had cooked ground beef in my freezer that needed to be used, so I changed the original recipe a bit.
I have recently found a love for quinoa because it is soo good for me (and you) and I can eat it on a diet easier than rice. Plus it is full of vitamins and protein.

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Weekend Bloggy Reading


Raisin Pecan Zucchini Bread

We got a bunch of zucchini out of my husband’s parents’ garden and some of it was too big to grill or sauté and I was sooo……EXCITED! Because big zucchini is PERFECT for making zucchini bread and I LOVE zucchini bread!!!
Around here, we are all trying to watch our eating habits since we returned from vacation where we all gained a bunch of weight!!! (and I mean BUNCH!) I this original recipe from my Betty Crocker Cookbook. I did change a few ingredients around, though. So here is my revised recipe…
3 c. shredded zucchini
1 c. Splenda
2/3 c. sugar (original recipe called for all sugar)
4 large eggs (or 1 c. egg substitute)
2/3 c. natural applesauce (original recipe called for oil)
2 tsp. vanilla
3 c. whole wheat flour (original recipe said either all purpose or whole wheat)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. chopped nuts (I used pecans)
1/2 c. raisins

Lower your oven rack so that your bread will be more centered. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray the bottom of two loaf pans.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cloves.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the zucchini, sugar, Splenda, applesauce, vanilla, and eggs.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, then add the nuts and raisins. Divide the batter between the two loaf pans and bake for 50-60 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick (if it  comes out clean, the bread is done).
Cool the bread in the pan for at least 10 minutes on a wire rack , then loosen the bread from the loaf pan with a butter knife. Let the bread cool completely, then wrap tightly. It will keep at room temp. for 4 days or refrigerated for 10 days. Or you can do like I am going to if any is left and freeze it.

NOTES: The original recipe says that 3 c. shredded zucchini is about 2-3 medium. I used 4 medium-large zucchini and ended up with enough to make four batches of this recipe (which I did all day yesterday Smile)!
I have found that this bread works really well with the disposable foil pans because it doesn’t overbrown and it comes out of the pan easier.
I have made this bread without the nuts and raisins and it was still super good.
The best way to shred the zucchini is in the food processor. If I had to shred all that zucchini with a cheese grater I would lose my mind!
I wrap my bread first in wax paper, then in aluminum foil to make sure it is tightly sealed.

zucchini bread

My oldest daughter helped me make my first batch of this yummy bread yesterday. I was so glad to have such an eager helper!

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Little Blogging Hiatus

OK, so recently I haven't blogged, or menu-planned, or anything else that I usually do...I have been on vacation. It started with a visit to the Army post where my husband was in OSUT. We (there was a bus-load of three adults, 1 teenager, and 5 kids) had family day with him, watched him graduate, and brought him home!!

family day--in front of a portion of the Berlin Wall
DD9 did not want to let her daddy go!
Well, we came home for a few days and then off to Charleston, SC we went for a week! It was awesome! We toured Ft. Sumter, Boone Hall Plantation, Patriot's Point, and lots of other places. We ate lots of good (but not good-for-you) food. We went to a great 4th of July Festival and saw some terrific fireworks (which was definitely a plus considering our town wasn't even doing a fireworks display for the 4th).

Our family at Boone Hall Plantation

DS6 and DD7 at the entrace to Patriot's Point Naval Museum

the kiddos waiting for our carriage tour

the awesome fireworks display in North Charleston

On our way back home, we detoured to Savannah, GA. We had a nice time there until it was finally time to come on home...and we are glad to be back!

the WWII Memorial on River St. in Savannah