Sunday, February 27, 2011

Menu Plan—Week of February 28

Well, last week did not go AT ALL like I had planned. This week I am starting out with a sick child—and hoping none of the rest of us get strep throat!! So, here is my menu plan in hopes that I will stay well enough to see it through!
Monday: Mexican chicken skillet
Tuesday: taco salad
Wednesday: church supper
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: pizza and a salad
Saturday: chicken fajitas
Sunday: something simple-very simple

And the Award Goes To...

Oh wow! I have been awarded a Stylish Blogger Award...and on the same day as the Academy Awards! Coincidence--I think not :)!
A special THANK YOU goes to Monica at "Older Mommy, Still Yummy".

Anyhoo, there are some rules that go along with receiving this award.
1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Award, up to 15, recently discovered great bloggers.
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!

Seven Things About Me:
1. I love peppermint mocha coffee creamer and am so glad they make it year-round now!
2. My oldest daughter and I just got back from the doctor. This is her thousandth case of strep. (just a small exaggeration!)
3. I clip coupons every Sunday evening.
4. I am slowly adding red into my kitchen because I love it as an accent color.
5. I am loving this beautiful weather that we have been having lately.
6. My family and I have recently gotten into old reruns of the A-Team.
7. I like to play Word Challenge on Facebook when I'm bored--which is hardly ever. Who can be bored with three small children?

My Choices Of Amazing Blogs to Receive this Award


Sunday Morning Thoughts

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Our Adoption Story-Part 2

I should go back a little now and tell explain that by the time these two children came to live with us, we already had our daughter-dd8. She was three at the time. My husband and I were both 24. (The girl was 2 and the boy was 14 months old.) Neither of us had ever dealt with the Department of Social Services, nor were we prepared for any other children. Sure, we had discussed becoming foster parents and how there were so many children who needed people to care about them, but we figured that would be YEARS down the road—like when our daughter was grown!

…..Ok, so after the children came to live with us, I took a day off of work to get them settled. Our daughter had a great daycare that she went to and it was also where we wanted these two children to go to because the staff were so good to our daughter and our family and they knew us—not to mention I could not add another stop to my morning commute because of time. After all the odds and ends were taken care of, we tried to go back to our daily routine—with two extra kids and a new apartment! When the kids came to live with us they had very little in the way of belongings. Most of what they did have had been purchased while they had been living with the other family member. Their car seats were atrocious! I was terrified to put them in my car—the straps were loose and could not be adjusted at all. We live in such a rural area we could not go right then and replace them-nor did we have the money to. At the time I was fortunate to work in a wonderful school full of compassionate people. They threw me a baby shower and provided lots of clothes, diapers, gift cards, and lots of other things that we needed. We used the gift cards that week to purchase the new car seats and immediately threw the other ones away!!

The day we replaced the car seats we dressed the children in a new outfit and headed out the door—we thought. The little girl got mad about something—I don’t remember what. The next thing we knew she flung herself backwards and started doing a variation of the crab walk with her hair sweeping the floor of the porch! Wow! I had never seen such a fit. I picked her up and put her into her crib. I told her she wasn’t coming out until she calmed down. I sat down with her and waited….About ten minutes later we immerged, ready to get into the car. Little did we know that was just the beginning of the “fits”…

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Our Adoption Story-Part 1

I am just really not sure how many parts this story will be yet…I guess til I have it told Smile. I really feel like by telling our story maybe we will be helping someone else.


I will never forget that day as long as I live. It was a Wednesday. At the school I was working at the secretary called on the intercom and told me I had a phone call. I told her I didn’t have any other adults in the room at the time and couldn’t go to the phone. She said it was about my niece and nephew. My heart pounded and I really didn’t know what to think. I found someone to cover my class for a few minutes and walked down the hall to the workroom, bewildered. The social worker told me that they needed my husband and I to take temporary custody of our niece and nephew (and told me a little of why they needed us to take them). I told her that we were actually looking at an apartment that week (thank you God!) but that we couldn’t take them til we moved in. We had been living with my parents for a few months because our rental house had been sold…Long story short, she was at school in less than an hour with the temporary custody papers signed by the mother. Wow! (Of course during this time, I had also been on the phone with my husband and his family in the town where we live.) You see, our niece and nephew that came to live with us also have two older brothers and an older sister. They went to live with my husband’s parents. I won’t be discussing them very much in this story.

It happened so fast! I got the call on Wednesday, we looked at and started moving into the apartment on Friday, moved more stuff Saturday, moved more stuff Sunday and picked the kids up in the county where I was employed on Sunday afternoon. (At this time, I worked in one county and lived in another. The kids had been living in the county where I worked, not where we lived.) We really had not seen these two children much since they were born. We really didn’t know them. I know it sounds strange because we were their aunt and uncle, but it is true. The day we picked them up (they were living with another family member until we picked them up) the little boy came right to us, but the little girl was very hesitant. She knew she didn’t know us!!!

Well, we had brought friends with us to help us move the children’s belongings, and they were such a blessing! They had been helping us move and helped us unload everything at the apartment when we brought the kids home. They helped us keep them entertained and helped us make sure everyone got fed that night. I will never forget when my husband said he was going to the car (to get another load of belongings) and the little girl thought he was leaving. She dropped her food and ran after him screaming and crying, “Daddy! Don’t go!” Keep in mind this was a child that just a few hours before did not even know us…

Women In the Word Wednesdays-February 23

Wow, what I have been learning about in James this week really hits home—the tongue. We all have one but James is not necessarily just talking about a tongue; he is talking about what you say—the words that roll off that tongue. Are they Godly words or are they sharp, sarcastic words? I am afraid that too often-especially if I feel stressed-the words that roll off MY tongue are not helpful to anyone. It is definitely an area that I need to spend some time working on and praying about. I can act Godly, read my Bible, be around Godly people, and call myself a Christian, but if what I say doesn’t match what I do or what I profess to be then what kind of example am I showing the world? What about the lost? Are they going to say, “man, I really want what she has! I really want Jesus. Tell me about Him!!” No, the answer is no they are not. The little tongue can cause so many BIG problems. Gossip…angry words…slander…belittling…sarcasm…I don’t see anything useful so far in this short list. As Christians—LET’S SHOW GOD OFF!!!


This is linked to Women In the Word Wednesdays @

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Little Catch-Up



Well, except for Sunday Morning Thoughts and a menu plan I have been kinda MIA around the blogosphere. I really like it here, but the real world of being a married single parent keeps calling my name. Sometimes it gets a little overwhelming! I have a newfound admiration for single parents who do it all the time or for longer stretches than I am going to do it.

Anyhoo…here is what has been going on in the Brooks household for the past few days…chores, Netflix, an impromptu trip to the new playground down the road with Nana and Papaw and cousins, more Netflix, a trip to the shoe store for dd7 and ds6, school, homework, more chores, writing letters, phone calls from my husband…oh yeah—almost forgot the furnace trouble. Yes, my husband goes out of town and we run out of fuel for our furnace!!! Until Friday I had NEVER dealt with the oil company except to pay our bill one time several years ago. My husband usually orders fuel, pays for it, and calls the repair man if we need maintenance. Not this time…the repair man left a few hours ago. It is so nice to know that you have heat even when it is a little warmer outside than usual. Until today the Edenpure and a couple space heaters filled in. They are just right in cool weather—not COLD weather!


I had always considered myself a fairly independent gal, but now I am understanding the meaning of independent! I guess during this next few months there will be lots more life experiences that I have never had besides dealing with the oil company!! Smile

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Menu Plan for the Week of February 21

Happy President’s Day!!

This is going to be yet another crazy week, but hopefully I will get to eat a home as much as possible. I apparently threw my “let’s save money and eat more at home” plan out the window this weekend because it didn’t happen. I guess I got bitten by the pretty Spring-like weather bug!

Here is the plan for this week:

Monday: eat with my parents Smile

Tuesday: chicken fajitas

Wednesday: spaghetti or lasagna with garlic bread

Thursday: eat out—long night at work again!

Friday: pizza night

Saturday:  eat out with family Smile

Sunday: something really easy and quick—probably leftovers

Sunday Morning Thoughts

The Lord is Almighty, able to take the bad or the painful and use it for good, for His will. Through Him, we are stronger than we ever thought we could or would be.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Women In The Word Wednesdays--February 16

Wow! James is such a powerful and meaty book. There is so much to learn there I am sure that I could read it through so many more times and learn something new each time--maybe I will do that!
This week I have gleaned from James that I can show other people my faith through my actions. There are so many people in this world who are not Christians. For a lot of them, the only Bible they have is what they see Christians living out. I desire to be a Christian who lives a life that God can get glory from. Daily He gives us opportunities to show non-Christians His grace and mercy. LET'S SHOW OUR GOD OFF!!!

This is linked to Women In the Word on Good Morning Girls.

Monday, February 14, 2011

MY Chicken Casserole

There is really something beautiful about recipes that you can play with and make your own. If you have been reading my recipes you already know that is the way I cook. I am always changing things around and adding this and taking this out.
A few months ago my co-workers and I were eating lunch and one of them had chicken casserole. It looked so good—like Thanksgiving in one bowl! I’d had it before but never thought of making it because I was afraid someone would tell me that mayonnaise was an ingredient (I am mayo-phobic!). Well, it got to be a trend at the lunch table to bring this. After a few different people brought it I asked them how they made it. I got similar answers from all (and from a friend in the grocery store also while I was shopping for the ingredients the first time I made this). All answers included a lot of butter and, while I love butter, I thought surely I could make it with little or no butter so it would be a little healthier. So, my husband and I played with the ingredients and put them together the way everyone said to and voila—we had chicken casserole! Yum! It is truly one of the easiest recipes I have ever made and requires very few ingredients.

2 c. chopped or shredded chicken
8 oz. package Pepperidge Farm dressing (I have tried both kinds, but I like the cornbread the best)
1 (10 oz) can cream of chicken soup
3 c. chicken broth

FIRST mix chicken and soup together. Add to an 8x8 in. pan.
SECOND mix dressing and most of the chicken broth in a medium bowl. Add to the pan over the chicken mixture. Pat down.
THIRD pour remaining chicken broth over the casserole.
FOURTH put casserole in the oven at 350 degrees until the dressing is golden brown on top and some of the flavorful liquid has been absorbed and evaporated.
I serve this scrumptious casserole with creamed corn.
NOTES: Although entirely optional but extremely delicious, sometimes I saute a little chopped celery and onion in olive oil. I add this to the dry dressing mix. I also add whatever spices strike my fancy at the time (parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, herbs de province, celery salt, sage, and rosemary to name a few). I usually add about 1/2 tsp. or less of whatever spice I use—maybe a little more sage. I mix well and then add the liquid.
Sometimes I double the chicken. If I do this I don’t add more soup. One can has been enough and still mixes well.


Linked up with: Mouthwatering Mondays

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Weekend Bloggy Reading

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Menu Plan for the Week of February 14

Ok, well last week did not go exactly as planned. I felt yucky all week with some sort of sinus problem and we didn’t have school two days that we were supposed to but we did have it on Saturday.  Oh, and I didn’t have any pizza crust for the calzones and I didn’t feel like going to the store to get any. So…I’ll do calzones some other time, I guess. On to this week!
One evening last week I was thinking about what to cook for supper this week. I came up with a lot of possibilities, but I also wanted to lower my grocery budget for this week. I ended up printing out a blank calendar (from $5 Dollar Dinner Mom) and writing a menu in each box. I limited myself to menus that could either be made with no extra bought groceries or only needed one or two small items. I came up with 28 menus!! I was so excited. I have really been trying to stockpile sale items that we use regularly. I guess I’ve been doing better than I thought. Smile  I think I’ll have to do that every so often (it is not a monthly menu plan, just a list of ideas).
Anyway, this week when I sat down to write the weekly menu plan, it was very easy. I knew what I could make and still stay under budget. So, here it is…

Monday: chicken casserole and creamed corn
Tuesday: pintos and cornbread
Wednesday: grilled cheeses and pinto beans
Thursday: eat out (long day and evening at work)
Friday: pizza
Saturday: beef and bean burritos
Sunday: leftovers

Sunday Morning Thoughts


So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Super Yummy Lasagna

This is a recipe that I have been making and playing with for a long time. I had a lasagna epiphany in high school. Really! That is when the first version of this recipe was born. I change it all the time, but the basic recipe remains the same.

1 box no-boil noodles (you can use the regular lasagna noodles, just add a little more liquid)
1 jar spaghetti sauce ( I use Ragu because it has a little less sodium)
1/2 to 1 lb. ground beef
1 small tub part skim ricotta cheese
1 egg
handful of grated parmesan cheese
1 (2 cup) bag part skim mozzarella cheese
1 tsp garlic powder (or to taste)
1 tsp Italian seasoning (or to taste)
FIRST, mix ricotta, egg, parmesan, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning together. Put in the fridge until ready to use.
SECOND, brown the ground beef, drain, add back to pan, then add sauce to the same pan. Mix well and let simmer.
THIRD, in a 9x13 in. pan add a little of the sauce on the bottom, then add several noodles, then ricotta cheese mixture, then sprinkle a handful of mozzarella, then start back with another layer of sauce. Keep layering until you end up with sauce on top.
FOURTH, cover the top layer with a good amount of mozzarella cheese. I like to sprinkle on a little extra parmesan cheese too – and a little garlic powder and Italian seasoning!
FIFTH, bake at 350 degrees until the lasagna is bubbly at the edges and the cheese is golden brown—usually about 30-40 minutes.


NOTE: This is the lasagna I put in the freezer. You can do everything up thru the fourth step if you are going to freeze it. I bake it from frozen just as in step five—it just takes longer to bake, of course!
Lately, I have been baking this in 8x8 in. pans. You could get two lasagnas this size out of this recipe.
Sometimes I play with the amount of cheeses and sauce that I add—do what works well for you here.


This is linked up to

Smart and Trendy Moms

Let's Just Give It Away

Friend Finding Fridays

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Women In The Word Wednesdays--February 7

Well, the book of James does not fail to disappoint. It is such a meaty book in the Bible. My shortcomings as a Christian are so obvious when I read this book. This week we have been reading in the beginning of chapter 2. It deals with partiality--which is not how God deals with us. God is not partial, but we can be and usually are. Usually when I read verses 2-4 of chapter 2, I am taken back to childhood. Especially as a child it is easy to treat others differently. There was so much peer pressure and I can remember being very much persuaded by what my friends or others in my classes thought. I was far too quick to judge other children by what they wore, who and what their parents were, and what other kids thought of them.
Yesterday when I read those two verses, we were up later because we were supposed to have a three hour delay for school (we ended up not going at all), so I gathered my kids around and read those verses to them and talked to them about not treating other kids differently for the reasons I mentioned above. We prayed together after that. I know it is a lesson that will need to be reinforced many times (since it is a lesson that I still need to keep learning over and over), but maybe all of us getting together on that snowy morning will make a difference.

This is linked to Good Morning Girls.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Freezer Cooking Results for February 5

Well, last summer I read all about freezer cooking and I thought, that sounds cool but I don’t have enough room for that—no way! I am happy to report that I cleaned my freezer out and rearranged what was left and surprise—I had TONS of room. Add to that the very small chest freezer that my husband and I purchased for the corner of our utility room and now I feel like I have loads and loads of room for freezer meals. They really do make a difference in our budget and in what we eat for supper and other meals. and are two blogs that proved to be invaluable in beginning this process. I had grandiose ideas when I first started of making a month’s worth of meals in a day. That just doesn’t work for me. I try to do it when I have time. That might mean making enough one night for two meals or finding a few minutes one evening to make a few homemade packets of instant oatmeal.  This past weekend I had a nice little pocket of time and ground beef was on sale—not to mention I had plenty of freezer bags, ricotta cheese, mozzarella that was on sale, spaghetti sauce, noodles, and freezer containers.
I’ll be sharing my lasagna recipe later on, but for now, here is what I yielded for my big freezer cooking day:
FIVE lasagnas—one is in a 9x13 inch pan and four are in 8x8 inch pans. These small lasagnas are plenty big enough for me and the three kiddos to eat—and leftovers for lunch the next day for me! These freeze so well.
EIGHT 2 cup bags of pre-cooked ground beef. We use this for so many meals it isn’t even funny! I could list them but this post would get ridiculously long!! Smile
I had planned on other things too, but I didn’t get to them because the crockpot was full of cheeseburger soup that day—YUM!

works for me wednesday at we are that family

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cheeseburger Soup

About three years ago we went to a church soup and sandwich supper before a revival and this wonderful potato soup was on the buffet line. It was love at first taste! I got the recipe (along with a lot of other people, I’m sure), but I have no idea what happened to that treasured piece of paper. This is the way I have made it for two years—without the recipe.
4-6 cups, uncooked potato cut into chunks
6-8 cups chicken stock
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 lb.  ground beef
16 oz. Velveeta, cubed ( I use the 2% Velveeta)
1 cup, milk
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
dash or two of Worcestershire sauce

FIRST, brown the ground beef. Add the carrot, celery, and onion as the ground beef cooks. When the beef is done, drain and add to the crockpot—or stock pot—I do this recipe either way.
SECOND, add the potatoes and chicken stock to the pot. Let this cook for at least 8 hours in the crockpot on low or until the potatoes are done in the stockpot. (If I have them, this is where I add a bay leaf or two.)
THIRD, turn the pot down and stir in the milk. Add the Velveeta a few cubes at time, stirring them in well. After the Velveeta is melted is when I add salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Finish with Worcestershire sauce. I made this one time and my husband added that to the pot and I really didn’t think it would be good, but it really added something special to the recipe.
Garnish with parsley and shredded cheddar cheese. Serves well with cornbread, garlic bread, or really any bread!
NOTES: This is not a smooth potato soup, though I am sure you could puree it if desired. Making this soup in the stockpot actually yields softer potatoes than the crockpot version (my picture was cheeseburger soup from the crockpot). Sometimes I just let it simmer in the crockpot longer and use my mixing spoon to smoosh some of the cooked potato in the pot so there are not so many chunks.
If the soup is too hot, the Velveeta can separate and ‘curdle’. The soup still tastes fabulous, it just doesn’t look as pretty.


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