Monday, February 27, 2012

Meal Plan Monday--February 27-March 4

I have been miserable the past week.  Digestive issues, a cold, now migraines have been keeping me out of my game for too long now.  I'm hoping that this migraine that seems to be tapering off will finish off my recent troubles and I can go back to my usual healthy self for a few more months or years.  Yes, I feel so guilty about not blogging for over a week that I'm braving a relatively minor (read: can be exposed to some light and can sit up for a while without a complete brain explosion) migraine to bring you this post. 

There may be some changes in my meal plans coming.  We splurged and got me a gym membership (since working out at home just wasn't happening, but being in better shape will ultimately save us money on health) that came with unlimited classes, so about three nights a week, I'm not going to be home when I usually would be to make dinner.  Yay for yoga and zumba!  This means that more of my meals are going to gravitate away from my somewhat typical staying in the kitchen for a long time preparing a meal and toward super quick dinners or, even better, slow cooker meals!

Monday: roast venison open faced sandwiches (shredded roast on top of bread, doused with leftover gravy) with leftover carrots

Tuesday: spinach and feta roll ups (experimental recipe, yet quick and easy for after zumba!)

Wednesday: slow cooker honey garlic chicken with rice and steamed veggies (perfect for after yoga!)

Thursday: quiche lorraine (with spinach instead of some of the bacon) and a side of homecanned peaches

Friday: grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup (for after zumba)

Saturday: "Mexican pizzas" (think Taco Bell, but homemade)

Sunday: clean out the fridge night

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Zombie Gardening

When I say the phrase "zombie gardening", I think the image that pops into people's minds is probably something like this
If you were hoping this is what I was talking about, they are available on Amazon
but I'm being more liberal with my definition of what sorts of corpses are being reanimated.  This is what I'm currently including in my zombie garden:
According to gems I've found on the best time-sucker ever, Pinterest, the corpses of all of these can be reanimated into new plants, that will eventually provide new food!

Chop off the top of a pineapple with a bit of core still attached and stick it in the soil:

Save the pit of an avocado and suspend it with toothpicks in water to grow a new tree:

Cut off the bottom of grocery store celery, stick it in the soil, stalk side up, and grow an easy new celery plant!:

For the sweet potato, cut it in half (longways) press into moist soil and cover them with plastic:

I mentioned my plan to start a zombie garden to my dad, and he told me there is in fact a whole book out there about it!  The book he mentioned is called The After-Dinner Gardening Book.  When looking for this book on Amazon, I discovered there is another book out there like this as well: Don't Throw It, Grow It!: 68 windowsill plants from kitchen scraps. I definitely will be seeking these books out from the library to try to grow my zombie (plant) army!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Meal Plan Monday--February 13-19

Ya know, it seems to me that most weeks, I have to juggle things around as to which day we have which dinner enough that I think I'm going to stop including the days of the week on these things.  Last week, we didn't even get to one of the meals because I forgot to included a much needed clean out the fridge night.  This week is another example of meals moving around because of circumstances.  I'm nearly positive we'll be using a certificate (see my sidebar or below for their latest deal, since they are a sponsor of this site) to go out for a nice dinner together.  I'm also pretty positive it will not actually be on Valentine's Day (because that would be insane) or on the weekend (also pretty insane) or tonight (my husband has a paper due for school today that he isn't done with yet).  However, I'm not sure which of the remaining days it will be so it is just floating out there.  Having rambled on about said all that, here is the meal plan for this week, in approximate chronological order

1. venison stroganoff Weekly Promo Offer 600 X 400
3.  Gonna use one of these bad boys to go out to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants to celebrate Valentine's Day (We had our wedding rehearsal dinner there too, so it is meaningful to both of us.  Really.)
4. Mexican casserole (new recipe)

5. slow cooker venison roast (take two.  The first attempt produced a melt-in-your-mouth roast, but not exactly the flavor I was looking for) with carrots and potatoes

 6. chicken cheese roll ups (another highly experimental recipe) with fresh veggies

Already I can see changes are going to be made in this order, since I don't want to have a chicken dish two nights in a row, plus my oldest son will be here this weekend and he doesn't like egg rolls (he's a strange boy like that, but I still love him!).  Not to mention, with my son here, I may not need to make a 7th meal, because we might go visit family.  See what I was talking about with plans constantly changing?  "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry", so I guess it isn't a surprise that mine would too.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Vegetable Lasagna

Vegetable lasagna is one of those things that seems like it would be difficult, but really isn't.  It isn't the cheapest meal I make either, but there are a number of ways to make it cheaper.  Some of those things are:
  1. Use coupons and/or only buy the ingredients when they are on sale
  2. Make your own ricotta
  3. Make your own mozzarella (I've heard this isn't hard but haven't tried it yet)
  4. Grow your own vegetables
  5. Make your own pasta (another thing I haven't tried yet, but I bet lasagna noodles would be the easiest pasta to make
Even if you don't do any of this, it is still probably going to be cheaper to make one of these (which is large enough I can usually get two family meals out of) than to buy a big ol' Stouffer's vegetable lasagna, and without the questionable ingredients like yeast extract.

Vegetable Lasagna
2 lbs ricotta cheese
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup diced onion
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic powder
4 cups vegetable mixture: fresh or frozen broccoli, shredded carrots, frozen & thawed spinach
1 package lasagna noodles (I like the kind that doesn't have to be boiled, since it's easier to work with)
4 cups mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375.  Mix together ricotta, cream cheese, onion, basil, and garlic powder.  Stir in vegetables.  Spread 3/4 cup of the vegetable mixture on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Place a layer of lasagna noodles, 1/3 of the vegetable mixture, and 1/3 of the mozzarella.  Repeat until all the noodles, vegetable mixture, and mozzarella are used.  Sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 50 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Mini Quiches

Even though I've been making quiches for many more years than I technically could cook, I'd never made mini-quiches before tonight.  They looked good, but how would my favorite base recipe for quiche translate into these diminutive delights?  As I found out tonight, quite well!

I decided to attempt this culinary feat (okay, it really wasn't that big of deal, but let me bask in my glory anyway, if you would be so kind) for two reasons:  I needed a quick and easy breakfast to go in the morning, yet I love quiche leftovers for breakfast and the kids only like quiche half the time, but they can never resist the power of cuteness inherent in things baked in muffin tins.

Can you blame them?
Mini Quiches
pie crust for 9-inch pie (my favorite crust recipe can be found here, but you can use whatever you'd like)
filling for quiche, either spinach feta, broccoli cheddar, or quiche lorraine

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Roll out pie crust and cut into muffin tin sized circles (I used a large biscuit cutter, but you could also eyeball it).  Press pie crust circles into ungreased muffin tins.  Spoon filling into each mini-quiche, filling no more than 2/3 full since it will poof when baked.  Bake for 25-35 minutes or until set through and starting to brown on top.  Can be served warm or cold. 

This post can be found on Frugal Ways, Sustainable Ways #14

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Some days.....

I have some catching up to do.  I need to quantify and update on my decluttering efforts, my simplifying of my life posts (ironic, no?), and I have about a bagillion recipes piling up that I need to post, but I keep coming back to this:
*sigh* Is spring here yet?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Meal Plan Monday--February 6-12

Every now and then, I have a week of meals that sound so delicious and inspired that I'm super excited just to be alive that week for the food.  This is such a week.  Maybe it is due to the sun shining so brightly today, something that just doesn't happen in Michigan in February and will be gone after today, but my meal plan for this week is brightening my outlook on things.

Monday: jambalaya

Tuesday: crispy cheddar chicken (new recipe I didn't get around to making last week), sour cream & "chive" (the "chives" are actually the tops of onions growing on my kitchen counter.  Yay for fresh food!) mashed potatoes, sweet baby carrots

Wednesday: crockpot venison roast (another culinary experiment)
Thursday: spinach & feta quiche

Friday: venison stroganoff on rice, green beans

Saturday: broccoli, cheddar, & potato soup with hearty, crusty bread (bowls?)
Sunday: shredded chicken enchiladas (yet another experiment)

Hopefully, with all these great new recipes, I'll get caught up on some of the other recipes I've been needing to post as well, like vegetable lasagna, slow cooker bacon & cheese soup, and more!

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Baker's Dozen of My Favorite Posts From My First Year of Blogging

Earlier today, in recognition of my one year blogiversary, I posted the top 10 posts of the year as determined by page views, but I noticed none of my favorite posts made that list!  (Okay, the video of the TPH was pretty cool, but other than that...) I don't know if that is because so many of them were early on, before I had many readers, or if they just weren't shared enough or what, but here they are, for your reading pleasure, edumacation, and enlightenment...or something.
Baby Stuff Overload: What on earth do babies need with all that stuff?

How to Stretch a Chicken (Part 1): In which I share how to make a whole chicken last 3-5 meals, plus give you several quarts of free chicken stock

Homemade Lip Balm: This stuff is soooooo nice on the lips!

Brakes and Bread:  Time is money and some of us have more time than money!

The Amazing Power of Baking Soda: My favorite 15 ways to use baking soda.

Preparedness 101--Surviving the first 72 hours: The time to get ready is not when an emergency has already happened!

Soapy Fun: In which I share many of the wonderful uses of Dr. Bronner's, including homemade laundry detergent that doesn't require shredding soap!

The Best $10 I Never Spent: A small idea to use $10 to save the world.

Homeschooling is Cheaper Than That "Free" Public School: If you're sending your kids to school because you think you can't afford to homeschool, think again.

Gardening in Small Spaces: I love the variety of ideas in this post, including my creative gardening solutions from before we lived here and the balcony garden of a friend.  (People on Pinterest will probably want to pin some of these!)

Before and During Pictures: What this place looked like before I started gardening on it and what it looked like at its peak (a level that will unlikely be obtained again this year because of that stupid driveway!)

My Top 10 Reasons to Garden with the Kids: Need I say more? (warning: extreme cuteness in this post!)

"I Can't Afford to Eat Healthy":  Um, I respectfully disagree and am willing to help make sure you can!

Happy 1st Blogiversary to Me!: The top 10 posts of my first year of blogging

I have now been blogging for one full year.  Yay me!  In honor this anniversary (and because I currently have no money to do a great giveaway in celebration), here's a recap of my top posts (as determined by page views) of the past year:

10. Dirt Cake:  Okay, this is not my cheapest idea ever, but it still probably way cheaper than buying a cake already made...and probably way cuter and mo...
9. What Can You Buy With $20?: This image, originally from My H.E.B Texas Life magazine 's January 2012 issue, caught my attention when it was shared in The Dinner Gar...

8. The Vampire Gardener Fries a Zucchini:  For those that haven't been following me on Facebook or Twitter , I've been referring to myself as a vampire gardener of late.  With this...

7. A "Green" Cleaner for St. Patrick's Day--White Vinegar:  Today, when I emptied the dishwasher, I noticed that there was a bit of film starting to develop on some of them.  Some people would say t...
6.  Order Up!--Making special meals for picky eaters without being a short-order cook:  The biggest source of food waste around here is me cooking up a great meal, serving it up to the family, then being met with a chorus of "...
5. Victory?--a Trailer Park Homestead update bonus post & action alert: We just met with the trailer park manager and her supervisor as planned.  Basically, they came out, took some pictures, and said they we...

4. Video Tour of the Trailer Park Homestead: I feel like when I give you photo updates, it might be kind of hard to visualize how all the random pictures fit together.  I'm hoping this ...

3. Feeding My Family Makes me a Terrorist?: According to Senator Rand Paul (and rampant internet rumor), "someone who has more than seven days of food in their house can be considered...

2. Mother of 6 Threatened With Jail Time for Front Yard Garden:  There are other words for it than "ridiculous", but I really do make an effort to keep this a fairly family friendly blog and keep the cussi...

1. You Want Me to Get Rid of My Garden By WHEN?--an EMERGENCY Trailer Park Homestead update:  As my followers on Twitter and Facebook already know, I received a notice this morning to "please remove garden & restore grass area" ...

Looking over this list, I noticed something a little strange to me: most of my favorite posts aren't on it!  I'm thinking maybe I should do a sequel to this (later today, so it is still on my blogiversary?) that is the "best of" as picked by me.  What about your favorites?  Did they make this list?