Thursday, December 31, 2009

Kid's CAN Cook!

I love to cook and I love sharing that passion with my boys. They have been cooking since they could reach the counter with a stool, I guess that would be about 18 months old. Over the years I have just made their tasks in the kitchen more complex.

Today we are busy preparing for our traditional New Year's Eve and Day Celebration. Our tradition is to have brocolli with garlic sauce and rice, spring rolls and sparkling grape juice on New Year's Eve and soups and fresh bread on New Year's Day. Since we always go on a hike on New Year's Day and Chuck's Dad and his family are coming around lunch time, I wanted to get things prepped ahead of time. So I put all four boys to work!
The little ones had the task of separating 14 bulbs of garlic into cloves. Yes, I said 14 bulbs! I needed 30 for the garlic sauce, 88 for garlic soup, and a few for pasta fagioli. They did an amazing job and in record time. The mess...that is another story! The point is they helped and learned about garlic at the same time and I think they had a little fun!

C was put in charge of browning two pounds of Italian sausage for the pasta fagioli. We aren't making that until tomorrow, but it is now cooked and drained and ready to be tossed in the soup tomorrow. He did the draining also!
(On a side note, check out the tool he is using to break apart the sausage. It is one of my favorite tools in the kitchen, makes the task of breaking up ground sausage and beef so easy even an 8 year old can do it! No more clumps. It is sold by Pampered Chef. Check out the link to my dear friend's business.)

Lastly, the other C was in charge of prepping the brocolli for dinner tonight. He chopped 6 heads of brocolli into bite size pieces, including peeling and chopping the stalks. That was about 8 cups of brocolli. Check out that knife, yes, it is a real one and a big one! That is the one I use. I have taught him how to use it properly and he does a wonderful job. For those of you that don't know him, he is 10 years old.
After this we made a cake and frosting, I forgot to take pictures. All in all, we were in the kitchen for about an hour and a half. But if I had done this all myself it would have taken me much longer and I would have been bored. When they are little, I will admit it does add to your cooking time, but if you invest then, they will be able to do what my kids are doing now and really be a help.
I am not sharing this to boast on my kids, though they are great kids ;), I am doing it because teaching kids how to cook is an importance skill. There is so much for them to learn about math, perserverance, diligence, working with others, and self sufficiency. Besides their future spouses will be thankful! I can't tell you how many people have told me that they can't cook, but their moms are great cooks. No one took the time to teach them. Cooking isn't learned by osmosis or by eating, it is learned by doing.
I hope to continue to share more about how the boys and I work in the kitchen together this year and more ideas about how I incorporate them daily into the work that goes on in our kitchen.
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Balsamic Maple Sauce

This sauce is insanely delicious. I love it for a couple of reasons, one is that it is insanely delicious (did I mention that;), but secondly I usually have all the ingredients on hand.

It comes Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan, from my favorite vegan cookbook by Dreena Burton. Her recipes are simple, healthy, and delicious. She classifies this as a sauce, as you can see in the title, and suggests putting it on sauteed greens, grilled veggies, or as a dipping sauce for tofu or spring rolls.

We use it mostly as a salad dressing and dipping sauce. I like to make my own salad dressing when I can because a lot of times the dressings that are made with all natural ingredients are expensive. When you have four boys eating salad almost everyday, it really adds up. Not to mention the "glug, glug, glug then uh-oh", I am sure you all familiar with. A plate full of dressing and a bottle half gone, when they usually end up accidently using too much.

Without further is how you make it.

Combine 1/4 pure maple syrup, 1/4 balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp Earth Balance (non-dairy butter), 1 minced garlic clove and 1/8 tsp salt in a saucepan on low heat. Heat for several minutes.

Meanwhile in a measuring cup combine one tsp corn starch (or arrowroot) and 3 tbs tamari (soy sauce) until smooth. (Forgot to take a picture of that step!)
Add tamari mixture to pan and whisk to combine and increase heat to bring mixture to a boil, stirring continually.

Let boil gently for one minute until thickened.

Remove from heat and let cool. It will thicken as it cools.

It becomes thick and saucy and I love it warm on my salad.

This stuff is so yummy, I could just drink it. Sometimes I just leave it on the counter with a cut up cucumber and passers by nibble on it! We all love it!
Give it a try and let me know what you think!
From Our Home to Yours,

New Coupon Organization System for 2010!

I've enjoyed couponing since I was a newlywed! I just love a deal! Over the years I have gotten more serious about coupons and like many others I have had periods of giving it up for several months, tired of putting in the work to maintain it. However, trying to feed my boys a healthy diet, on a budget is extremely difficult and therefore, I am most serious about couponing right now.

Before I get into my "new" system, there are a few things I want to share with you about how/why I coupon.

-There was a time that I would buy anything as long as it was a deal. I promise you, I would buy Fruity Pebbles! (Please don't be offended it you like this cereal! It is just not the best choice for our family.) Those of you that know me, will get a chuckle out of that. But at that time, I didn't know a lot about nutrition, or about boys and sugar :), and I basically didn't care what it was as long as I got a great deal on it. I am sure that those Fruity Pebbles were free or close to free.

Now, I am VERY different! When I see those free or almost free deals, it is still hard for me to pass them up, so sometimes I buy them and donate them. I do my best to buy foods that are free of artificial colors/sugars, high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oil. If I can I will buy organic foods, but normally they are not in my budget. I just do the best I can with what God has provided. Which is why I make most of our snacks, all of our bread and even at times yogurt!

I say all this to let you know that there are many deals to be had using coupons on food that is good for you. I hope to be able to share that with you on this blog. There are many coupons for healthy foods, more and more in fact. Whole Foods has a new flyer of coupons every month and you can sign up here to get coupons from Mamboo Sprouts. I have often combined those coupons with sales at Whole Foods to get free items.

-I shop at many different stores on a given week. It is the only way to maximize my money and feed my family the way I would like. I would still save money if I shopped at only one store and used coupons, but not as much as I could be saving. Stores that I will commonly hit up for deals include Super Target, Harris Teeter, Whole Foods, and Trader Joes. Maybe once a month I'll go to Kroger, B.J.'s, Walmart or Food Lion. I match their sales with my coupons to create the best deals. Note - Trader Joe's does not accept coupons, but their prices are great for the things I buy there. I should do a Trader Joe's post just sharing what I go there for as it is the same every time!

- I will buy coupons on ebay. One example would be for milk. Our family only drinks non-dairy milk. The boys favorite is Silk. They often have coupons, but the boys drink A LOT of milk, so one or two coupons doesn't help that much. And Silk is expensive! So when there is a coupon for Silk I'll go to ebay and buy a group of 20 or more. The price is minimal compared to the savings. When HT doubles coupons and has a sale on Silk, I am a very happy mama!

-Lastly I eat a vegan diet....most of the time. I also try to stay away from sugar. This adds some complications to our budget, but I just do the best I can with it. I can cheat with the best of them and I do when my options are limited and I don't feel guilty a bit...well...maybe a little bit.

Okay....I guess I have digressed from the original post on my couponing system. Without further ado...

This is the system I used when I did most of my shopping at one store. Many of you are probably familiar with it.

It is basically a binder with dividers that have the different categories of food.

After each divider there is plastic sheet that holds sports cards. You just slip the coupons it.

This system works great, I have used it for about 5 years, but when I started going from store to store it became difficult to sort my coupons by store. It also doesn't accomodate the size of some coupons. So I decided to make a change.
So.....Jesse and I began the task of creating a "new" system, new for me anyway.
I told you at the start of this blog that I am not an original thinker. I basically take others ideas and modify them to fit our needs and my style. That being said, the "new"system comes from Money Saving Mom, my FAVORITE blog for money saving tips. If you haven't checked her out, it is a must!! Here is the link for the coupon system. I only modified it slightly so I am not going to go into detail on how to create it, but more of what I like about it.
With this system I am able to sort coupons by store. There is an envelope for each store I go to in the front. If I have individual store coupons they will go in there. Also, as I get prepared to go to a store, I will pull the coupons for that store that match the sales and they will go in that stores envelope, saving me the trouble of doing that in the store.
Another thing I like about this system is that it allows me to break the categories down further. For example, I used to have toothpaste with personal items and I would have to go through all of the other "personal" coupons to see if I had a specific toothpaste coupon. Now toothpaste has its own category. Hopefully saving me some time.

Keeping receipts is something I am not particularly good at which bothers my husband. I am hoping that having an extra envelope on either side (one for general and one for grocery stores) will help me do a better job of keeping track of receipts.

Right now I do not have a lot of coupons since many expired on 12/31, but I am sure I'll be able to fill this in no time.

I will keep you posted as to how this is working out for me.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Pumpkin Pancakes

You see these on my menu plan a lot, so I thought I'd share them! They are yummy! I usually double or triple the recipe and freeze for a quick breakfast on school mornings.
They are also healthy, a delicious bonus! This recipe is made with whole wheat flour and is dairy free, with very little sugar and fat. Additionally, they are a good source for beta-carotene. Since, I don't care for orange veggies (sweet potatoes, winter squash, carrots), I struggle to get beta-carotene in my diet. The best place for me to squeeze it in is in baked goods, sweet and yeast breads, muffins and of course, pancakes and waffles!

Vegan Pumpkin Pancakes (original recipe is from here)
1 1/4 c. Whole Wheat Pastry flour (you could substitute AP flour)
2 tbs sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c soy or other dairy free milk
1/3 c. pumpkin puree (Remember, I have a ton!)
2 tbs Earth Balance (dairy free butter) melted
egg replacer for 1 egg

1. Whisk dry ingredients.
2. In another bowl whisk wet ingredients.
3. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together.
4. Cook on a griddle or in a greased pan for about 3 minutes per side.
From our home to yours,

Blogging in the New Year!

I have really been enjoying sharing ideas and recipes with you the past few months. I have especially enjoyed hearing when you have tried recipes and they have been a blessing for your family. Thanks for letting me know! It encourages me to keep sharing ideas.

I'd like to share more with you in the coming year. I have more ideas than I have time unfortunately. Though I hope to be able to share more posts, I have a fear of committment when it comes to blogging.... so let's just say I'll do my best!

Things to look for in the New Year:

-how I make sauce (most frequently asked question)
-how I make bread
-more about budgetting
-time saving tips in the kitchen
-cooking with kids

Thanks again for taking the time to read this blog.

Happy New Year!

Menu Plan Monday

We had a wonderful Christmas! I hope you did too! We definately had our fill of good food and sweets! Time to get back on track!
Our camera erased all the pictures we had from Christmas, so I am sorry that I don't have any to share with you for my cooking last week!
Here is our plan for this week:

Monday, December 28, 2009
Pumpkin bread, oranges
Pizza, celery sticks
Going to a Friend’s House (bringing homemade Italian Bread)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Banana pancakes and green drink
PB & J or tuna sandwiches, corn
M-mini meatloaves, mashed potatoes, broccoli

Wednesday, December 30, 2009
toast, pears, and milk
Peas and Macaroni, oranges
V-Latkes w/applesauce, salad

Thursday, December 31, 2009
Toast w/apple butter, green drink
Chick pea and pasta soup
V-Fried Rice, spring rolls, sparkling grape juice (our New Year’s Eve Tradition)

Friday, January 1, 2010 – Happy New Year!
Cereal, oranges
Soups – Pasta Fagioli and Garlic Soup w/assorted toppings, fresh bread
V- Pizza

Saturday, January 2, 2010
Papa is bringing us out for breakfast!
M-ham, white beans w/garlic and spinach, corn, salad

Sunday, January 3, 2010
PB & J or tuna sandwiches, fruits & veggies
V- crockpot – rice and beans

For more menu ideas check out
From Our Home to Yours,

Monday, December 21, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

We have a busy week this week, as I am sure you all have!

-On Wednesday we have our very dear friends coming over for dinner. I am doing the meat and dessert and she is bringing the sides. I will be making my mom's famous Anisette cookies for dessert. I'll try to remember to take a picture of them before they are gone!

-We spend Christmas Eve at my Mother-in-Law's home. I am going to be preparing some veggie sides and a vegan dessert.

-This will be the first Christmas that I am cooking by myself. Usually my mom and I do it together and have a blast, but this year she will be having Christmas in NY with my brother, nephew and some special friends, so I am on my own. During the Thanksgiving sales I purchased a couple of turkey's, so we'll be having one of those. Though the menu plan looks simple, I am going to embelish, just haven't done the research yet. I'll get back to you on that ;) All sides and desserts will be vegan that I can assure you.

Here is our plan for this week:

Sunday, December 20, 2009
cereal and green drink
toasted PB&J and tuna sandwiches, carrot sticks, applesauce
Pasta Fagioli (recipe coming soon!)

Monday, December 21, 2009
eggs, muffins, oranges
mac/cheese, cut up veggies
Chick Pea Pot Pie (I didn't get to it last week!)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009
cinnamon raisin bread, bananas
chick pea/pasta soup, pepper slices, oranges
spaghetti w/ sausage and peppers, salad

Wednesday, December 23, 2009
cereal, green drink
PB&J sandwiches, carrots and cukes, pears
Spiced Rubbed Roast Pork, Anisette cookies (mom's recipe)

Thursday, December 24, 2009
Whole Wheat pancakes, oranges
pizza, salad
Mimi's house

Friday, December 25, 2009 - Merry CHRISTmas!
Monkey Bread
leftovers from Christmas Eve
Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, roasted broccoli, apple pie
(I am excited to try some new variations of the above, I'll let you know how they work out!)

Saturday, December 26, 2010
eggs, toast
turkey sandwiches
latkes, salad

For more menu ideas, check out!

Merry Christmas,

Friday, December 18, 2009

Taco Soup

It is actually snowing here in Apex, NC!!! Amazing!

Here is a recipe from my friend Dawn that will warm your insides. My family loved it! Enjoy!

Taco Soup

1 lb ground turkey
1 pkg. Taco seasoning
1 can corn
1 can pinto beans
1 can hot chili beans
1 can stewed or diced tomatoes
1 can Mexican or hot stewed or diced tomatoes
1 small onion

Brown ground turkey and onion in a pan.
Drain and add the taco seasoning.
Then add all 5 cans with the liquid!!!
Simmer one hour and enjoy.

This is weight watchers recipe- 1 cup of the soup is worth 2 points.

From our home to yours,

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Slow -Cooked Tex-Mex Chicken and Beans

I know that this may not look that great, but it is always a winner in our house. My cousin was over for a playdate and said it smelled great and asked for the recipe, so here ya go Audra!

It is a winner with all the men in my life, they gobble it up!

It is a winner with me because it is filling and inexpensive to make. The recipe calls for chicken thighs, which is an inexpensive cut of meat. This is the only recipe I can get the boys to eat them in.

1 cup dried pinto beans
1 jar (11 oz.) salsa
2 tbs. flour
boneless, skinless chicken thighs (4-6)
1 medium red onion chopped
1 pepper chopped
1. In crockpot, stir together beans, salsa, flour and 1 cup water.
2. Season chicken with salt and pepper; arrange on top of bean mixture.
3. Scatter onion and bell pepper on top of chicken.
4. Cover and cook until the meat is done. ( I am hesitant to give times on that because my crockpot cooks very fast.)
5. Remove chicken and shred and return to crockpot. Stir it up and serve.

-today I was out of salsa and I used a small can of tomato sauce and added 1 tbs chili powder and 1 tsp. cumin. Turned out fine.
-I normally only use 4 thighs and it is enough for our family.
-My guys like it topped with sour cream, cheese, hot sauce and avocado.
-I live to serve with brown rice, corn muffins and salad.
-I often use beans right from my freezer that are already cooked.

Let me know if you give it a try!

From our home to yours,

Monday, December 14, 2009

Granola Bars

I LOVE this recipe! (wish my picture was better!)

My boys are HUGE snackers. I feel like they are always looking for something to eat. This is a snack that they all like and I don't mind them eating! It is also very easy to customize to your taste.

These amounts are for a square pan, I like to double it and use a 9x13 pan.

4 tbs butter (I used Earth Balance to make it dairy free)
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. honey

1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon

2 c oatmeal
1 c crisped rice cereal

Combine the first three ingredients and heat it in a small saucepan. Heat until boiling and then boil for 2 minutes. When you remove from the heat add vanilla and cinnamon.

Combine oatmeal and cereal and any other add in's you'd like (ie. raisins, cranberries, coconut, chocolate chips, nuts, nut butter, etc.). I just throw in handfuls of anything I am feeling like having at the moment! In the picture above I used coconut, cranberries, and chocolate chips.

Combine the contents of the saucepan with the dry ingredients. Mix well. (I usually add the chocolate chips at the end so they don't totally melt.)

Grease your plan and fill it with the mixture, flatten and put in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.

Take them out and cut and enjoy! I like to store mine in the fridge so they stay hard. They are easier to eat and less messy that way.

Let me know if you give this one a try!

From our home to yours,

Menu Plan Monday

This is a little late! I was not motivated to get a plan together last night. But when I sat down today to do it, I had more ideas than I had days!

I will be out two nights this week! I am very excited, but can't leave my men hungry. It is best to do my meat meals on the nights I am not home that is why you don't see my veggie and meat days alternating like I usually do it.

I am also excited to start some Christmas baking since this is our last week of school! Thus the "to-do" list at the bottom.

Sunday, December 13, 2009
Eggs, toast, green drink
Mimi’s house
V-leftovers from Mimi’s house!

Monday, December 14, 2009
Creamy cinnamon/raisin oatmeal
Almond butter/jelly, carrot sticks, tangerines
M-Chicken Noodle Soup and homemade bread
(Me-mushroom and barley soup)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Cereal and green drink
Lentil/spinach soup in crockpot
M- Slow-Cooked Tex-Mex Chicken and beans, rice and salad
(me- Cumin Lime Tofu)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Pumpkin Pancakes, milk
Quiche, salad, tangerines
V – Spaghetti w/ broccoli and carrots, garlic/basil muffins, salad

Thursday, December 17, 2009
Toast w/apple butter, green drink
Chick pea and pasta soup
M-chicken cutlets, maple pecan sweet potato mash, corn

Friday, December 18, 2009
Pumpkin bread w/cream cheese
Bean burrito’s, carrot sticks
V- crock – corn chowder, salad

Saturday, December 19, 2009
Eggs/toast (Dad makes breakfast on Saturday morning)
Pizza, pepper slices
V – Chick pea pot pie

To make/do:

Whole Wheat Bread
Kids dynamo hummus (LOVED this last week!)
Granola bars

Sesame cookies
Nutty party crunch
Crunchy chocolate treats

What do you have planned this week? I'd love to know!

For more menu planning ideas check out

From Our Home to Yours,

Monday, December 7, 2009

White Bean and Barley Risotto

I am going to try to start sharing a new recipe from each menu plan.

Last week, we made a family favorite, White Bean and Barley Risotto. We all love this recipe and so I need to double it if it is our main course. It is a pantry meal for us as I always have everything on hand.

White Bean and Barley Risotto
1 large onion chopped
2 1/2 c. broth of your choice
1/2 c. pearl barley
1 can or 2 cups white beans
parm cheese

1. Saute onion in olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes
2. Stir in broth and barley, bring to a boil.
3. Lower heat, cover and simmer until barley is tender, about 40 minutes.
4. Stir in white beans and season with salt and pepper. Heat the beans through, about 5 minutes.
5. Add parm cheese to taste.

From our home to yours,


Menu Plan Monday

Sunday, December 6, 2009
Eggs, toast, green drink
V-Tofu stir fry w/rice, cut up cukes and tomatoes

Monday, December 7, 2009
Pumpkin bread, green drink
Spinach rice casserole, apples
M-beef stroganoff, salad

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Vanilla soy yogurt, granola, oranges
lentil soup in crockpot
V- veggie pot pie, salad

Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Pumpkin Pancakes, Green drink
Pizza, veggie sticks, pears
M-chicken parm, spaghetti, salad, bread

Thursday, December 10, 2009
Toast w/apple butter, milk
grilled soy cheese (tuna) sandwiches carrot sticks, fruit
V-garlicky broccoli, corn, and bean burritos, cilantro rice

Friday, December 11, 2009
oatmeal, orange juice
spinach, rice casserole, fruit
M- chili, corn muffins, salad

Saturday, December 12, 2009
Chicken nuggets, cut up veggies and ice cream (Date Night for Mom and Dad, postponed from last week!)
For more menu ideas check out
From our home to yours,

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Yogurt Yeast Rolls

As I mentioned in a previous post, when I go on vacation, I like to completely clean out my fridge. The week before we left for Thanksgiving vacation we ended up with a gallon of regular milk. We needed some for a cooking project for our homeschool International Fair. Unfortunately, our family does not drink regular milk, so drinking it was not an option.

So I began the search to figure out what to do with all this milk, as I don't waste ANYTHING! You can imagine my amazement when I found a recipe for making yogurt in my crockpot!!! Check it out at this great blog! There is no need to repeat the instructions here as she does a great job.

The recipe worked great and left me with about a 8 cups of yogurt. Unfortunately, my boys ended up with some sniffles and little coughs that week, meaning that giving them the yogurt was not going to happen. What was I going to do with all this yogurt! I could have frozen it, but the boys don't like frozen yogurt. And so began the second search.....

I found a recipe for Yogurt Yeast Rolls modified it. They loved the rolls and I made a ton! Most of them went into the freezer to use as a side for soups.

Anyway....all that being said, here is the modified recipe. I only made a few small changes.

Yogurt Yeast Rolls

4 to 4 1/2 c. all purpose flour (I used WW Pastry flour)
2 packages yeast (4 1/2 tsp.)
2 tbs. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. plain yogurt (you could use soy yogurt)
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. butter or Earth Balance

1. In a large bowl whisk together 1 1/2 c. flour with the yeast, sugar, salt and baking soda.

2. Heat the yogurt, water and butter, but do not simmer.

3.Add yogurt mixture to the flour mixture and blend well.

4. Beat with a mixer (I used my kitchen aide) for about 4 minutes, gradually adding the remaining flour until you get a stiff dough.

5. Knead on a floured surface until the dough is smooth.

6. Place in a greased bowl and let rise for about 30 minutes. It should be doubled in size.

7. Punch down the dough and divide into the size rolls you want. We did some sandwich size and some dinner roll size.

8. Let rise on a greased cookie sheet for another 20 minutes or doubled in size.

9. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes or until brown.

10. Remove from pan and brush with melted butter.

All that from just a gallon of milk...

From our home to yours,

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Freezer Day Results

Freezer Day has come and gone and I am just now getting to post the results. Sorry about that.

We had a crazy week with C1's birthday, unpacking, a broken oven and art classes. Now that I finally have a few minutes I wanted to share with you what I was able to accomplish. It wasn't everything I had on my original list, but what I got done will certainly make things easier in the coming weeks.

Here goes...

With some help :), I was able to roast a large pumpkin and puree it.

We ended up with 20 cups of pumpkin! Most of it was frozen in two cup portions.

But some of it went into 4 loaves of yummy vegan pumpkin bread (Chuck said it is the best bread he's ever eaten!)and three batches of vegan pumpkin pancakes.

We also roasted up the seeds and snacked on those all week.

I also make 8 cups of soy yogurt in the crockpot. I turned half the batch into chocolate yogurt and we ate it for breakfast with the coconut granola seen below.

Beans, beans, and more beans. Beans are super easy to make in the crockpot and then put in freezer containers. I ended up doing 3 containers of white, 3 red, and 5 pinto (1 is missing from the picture because I used it for the veggie burgers pictured underneath.
I love this recipe for Veggie Chili Burgers from my friend Ruth. I made this whole batch and then froze them individually for when the family is having a meat dish.
2 Rye breads...

I also made 2 batches of whole wheat corn muffins, but I didn't get a picture of those.
We are loaded up with breakfast for a while now.
Did you do any baking this week?
From our home to yours,

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Freezer Cooking Day

One of my favorite blogs is She shares tons of tips for living frugally and shares all the great deals. She is hosting a blogging event and I am participating. It is a Freezer Cooking Day. She is pairing up with, another great blog.

I love to fill my freezer and as mentioned in last week's menu plan, I depleted it getting ready for our Thanksgiving trip. I hardly cooked last week, except for one gem I discovered, which I share later this week. It was a blessing not having to worry about cooking all week. But now, my freezer is pretty empty.

This Freezer day will cover mostly baked goods and beans. I actually have no beans in my freezer and that never happens, since beans are a staple in my diet. It will take place over two days. I will post pictures of what I actually get done at its conclusion.

Here is my plan so far:

-homemade veggie burgers (Thanks Ruth!)

-vegan gingerbread

-roasting, pureeing a large pumpkin

-vegan pumpkin pancakes


-pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

-rye bread

-beans- white, black, kidney, chick peas

-refried beans

Wish me luck!

From our home to yours,


Menu Plan

We were out of town for the Thanksgiving Holiday, so sorry this is a bit late.

Below you will see what we are having this week. As you can see we are having a special birthday this week. Our oldest son is turning 10! He is very excited. What you see on December 3rd are all of his special requests. I am not sure I can replicate my mom's mashed potatoes, but I'll try. I've tried so many times to make them like she does, but I just can't. I wonder if you have a recipe that only your mom can make?


Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Creamy raspberry oatmeal, pineapple juice
Chick pea/pasta soup, tuna sandwiches
M- meatballs, baked sweet potatoes, white bean/barley risotto, roasted broccoli

Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Pumpkin Pancakes, Green drink
Corn Chowder (made in Vitamix), kiwi
V-Toasted Garlic and Sweet Pea Pasta, salad, bread

Thursday, December 3, 2009 (Birthday Dinner for Boy #1)
Toast w/apple butter, pineapple juice
Pizza, carrot sticks, oranges
M-cheeseburgers/homemade veggie burgers, Nana’s mashed potatoes, corn, cake

Friday, December 4, 2009
Vanilla soy yogurt (made in Crockpot), granola
Kid’s Dynamo Hummus w/veggies and crackers, apples
V- Pepperoni/Cheese Pizza, salad

Saturday, December 5, 2009
Eggs/toast (Dad makes breakfast on Saturday morning)
Mac/cheese, carrot sticks (Date Night for Mom and Dad!)

For more menu ideas check out

From our home to yours,


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Coconut Biscotti

This is a great recipe! My whole family loves it and it is great for gift giving. I found some slender, cellophone bags at Michael's, like those for bagging chocolate covered pretzels. You can slip one biscotti in and tie it with a pretty ribbon. Together with an inexpensive mug and a small package of coffee, you have a nice gift.

Coconut Biscotti
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 c. unrefined sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup flaked coconut

1. Preheat oven to 300.
2.Combine flour, baking powder and soda, and salt.
3. Blend sugar, eggs, and vanilla at medium speed 2 minutes.
4. Combine wet and dry ingredients and add coconut. This will be sticky.
5.Knead dough several times on a floured surface and shape into a log, about one inch high.
6. Place on a jelly roll pan lined with parchment.
7. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown.
8. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
9. Slice with a serrated knife into about 20 slices.
10. Stand slices upright on baking sheet and bake 20 minutes more.
11. Cool on a wire rack.
12. Optional: Drizzle with chocolate or dip half in melted chocolate. If drizzling, simply melt chocolate chips in the microwave and place in a ziploc bag. Snip off the end and drizzle.

I like to make mine a little chewier than traditional biscotti for the boys. If you'd rather have it harder, leave in a little longer.

Enjoy with your favorite cup of coffee!

From our home to yours,

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Green Drink!

Many people ask me about Green Drink! I posted on our family blog a while back, but for those don't follow that blog, I'd like to post it here as well.

For us, Green drink is basically a combination of fruits and vegetables blended together in the form of a smoothie. It has really helped boost our immune system and we rarely get sick. If we do, I just make more green drink!

If you would like a recipe, here is the one I started with:

1 cup green grapes
1 orange, peeled
1/2 Bartlett pear
1 banana, fresh or frozen
1 cup kale or spinach
1/2 cup water
2 cups ice cubes

We would double it for our family of six.

Here is one I made the other day from start to finish.
-Frozen Strawberries
-3 bananas

Below is everything stuffed into my Vitamix. My husband bought this for me for Christmas last year. It is the best gift he has ever given me, besides my boys and the most expensive. It is a very expensive machine, but it can do so many amazing things. I LOVE it!

If you do not have a Vitamix, no worries, you can still make a Green Drink. I made one at my mom's house with a regular blender. You just might want to cut the pieces of fruit smaller instead of putting them in large pieces like I have below.
Blend it up and drink it! It is just that simple.

A few tips:
-Locally grow kale can be purchased for less than a dollar at local grocery stores
-If you do not think your children will like the green hue add lots of blueberries.
- We have used almost every green (spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, etc.) and the only one they haven't like are mustard greens.
-Add ice if you are not adding frozen fruit.
-You can really add any fruit or vegetable you like. i.e. carrots, pineapple, zucchini
-Instead of water you can add juice, coconut milk, milk or yogurt
-Seeds and nuts are also great additions. i.e. flax seed, almonds, walnuts
-I have also added oatmeal
-For protein, add any nut butter or silken tofu (creamy and no flavor)
The possibilities are endless. I'd love to hear your favorite combination!
From our home to yours,

Monday, November 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Sunday, November 15, 2009
Cereal and Green Drink
Lunch at church
M-chili macaroni (freezer meal), broccoli

Monday, November 16, 2009
Oatmeal bake, yogurt (homemade), oranges
spinach rice balls (never got to have them last week) and pineapple
V – Garlic Soup, salad & bread

Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Homemade Frozen waffles, green drink
Taco soup (freezer meal-Thanks Dawn!), oranges
M- Smothered chicken w/garlic, rice, sautéed kale

Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Toast, yogurt (homemade), bananas
Ham and cheese sandwiches, carrot sticks, applesauce (from freezer)
V-Spaghetti w/garlic and oil, salad

Thursday, November 19, 2009
Gingerbread (from freezer), Green Drink
Sandwiches (tuna or PB&J), pepper strips, oranges
M-meatloaf (freezer meal-Thanks Dawn!), roasted potatoes and carrots, spinach with garlic and oil

Friday, November 20, 2009
Cereal, banana
V- Pepperoni/Cheese Pizza, salad

Saturday, November 21, 2009
Thanksgiving Vacation
As you can see we are eating a lot from the freezer, as well as, a lot of GARLIC! Let me explain!

We will be heading up to see Mom and Dad for Thanksgiving and I want to take advantage of all of our freezer meals before we go. It will be a huge blessing to not have to cook as much while I am trying to pack and teach this week. This is a great benefit for having a freezer full of food. We'll also be able to take snacks from the freezer as well. for the garlic! When mom was here in October, she bought us a huge braid of garlic for $5 at B.J.'s. I should have counted the bulbs. I'm guessing about 30-40! We love garlic and have used up at least half of it. I'd like to use up the rest before we head out, thus all the garlic meals. I am sure none of my guys will mind. Usually, all they have to smell is garlic and they get excited for dinner.

Posts I am hoping to share with you this week:

-green drink
- A lot of you ask me what I eat being a vegetarian/vegan (I flucuate). I'll share how I work around the meat in my home at meal time.
-One recipe from above, if there is one in particular you'd like, let me know in the comments section

Please check out Organizing Junkie for more ideas and menu plans.

From Our Home to Yours,

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lentil Soup with Kale

I LOVE lentil soup, always have, even as a kid! My family on the other hand, not so much. However, it is so good for you and so inexpensive that I was determined to find a recipe that they would eat. I love this recipe for several reasons, #1 being it is in the crockpot and #2 because it has kale. Kale is hard to get into my boys unless it is in this soup or a green drink.

I found it in a book called, Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, by Robin Robertson. She is a vegan chef that I really like. She has lots of other cookbooks and a blog that are all very good.

Here is the recipe with my adaptions:

Lentil Soup with Kale

Throw the following into your crockpot:

-1 onion chopped
-1 or 2 celery rib chopped
-1 or 2 carrots chopped
-2 chopped garlic cloves
-1 1/4 c. lentils, picked over and rinsed
-6 c. veggie broth ( I used my garlic broth)
-1 tbs tamari or other soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Cook in your crockpot on low or high until the lentils are soft. (I am hesitant to give times as my crockpot cooks very fast.) I cook on high if I am serving for lunch and low for dinner. Sometimes I will also throw some barley in.

Chop your kale into bite size pieces, or even smaller as it can be tough to chew. Boil it in salted water for 5 minutes and add before you are ready to eat.

We serve with parmesan cheese. My husband puts hot sauce on it, but then again, he puts hot sauce on everything! I also serve with bread and maybe fruit.

All of my boys will eat this recipe and even ask for seconds. It used to be that whenever we served lentils, I would offer them a special dessert because it wasn't their favorite, but since I began making this recipe, I don't have to do that anymore and that is saying something...

This recipe is great for a cool, rainy day such as this. Let me know if you give it a try.

From our home to yours,

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Menu Plan Monday (well actually Tuesday!)

One of the things I do each Sunday to make my life easier during the week is make a menu plan for the week. It takes a bit of time, but it is worth it, especially as the week goes on. It takes the guess work out of dinner time.

I will plan on posting my menu for the week each Monday, but for this week, since I am just starting, lets go with Tuesday!

Sunday, November 8, 2009
Eggs and toast
Beans and salad
M-mini meatloaves, maple walnut sweet potato mash, frozen veggies

Monday, November 9, 2009
Cereal, green drink
sandwiches (tuna or pb & j) pepper strips, chips, fruit
V-Black Bean Soup in Crockpot

Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Homemade Frozen waffles, fruit
Lentil soup with Kale in crock, fruit
M- burgers, fries, corn

Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Toast, green drink
Frozen pizza, carrot sticks, fruit
V-Mashed potato pancakes, green beans, corn

Thursday, November 12, 2009
Banana bread, Green Drink
Sandwiches (Tuna or PBJ, fruit)
M-Saucy Mexican Chicken, Rice and veggies

Friday, November 13, 2009
Cereal, fruit
International Fair (homeschool event)
V- Pepperoni/Cheese Pizza, salad

Saturday, November 14, 2009
spinach rice balls and fruit
M – Spaghetti with meatballs, salad

A few notes...

I try to alternate between vegetarian/vegan meals and meat based meals, thus the V and M before each dinner post.

I will try to post a new recipe with each menu.

Please check out Organizing Junkie for more ideas and menu plans.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Baking/Freezing Day - Part 1

Today I participated in a Baking/Freezing Event with some other bloggers. Though I have done this sort of thing before, I am excited to be able to blog about now.

My original list of things I wanted to bake and freeze today was:
-vegan, chocolate almond cookies
-pumpkin chocolate chip muffins
-vegan ginger bread
-rye bread x2
-garlic broth
Here is what I was able to accomplish:

Not as much as I hoped, but I had to squeeze it in while homeschooling the boys. I made 2 large rye breads (they are stacked on top of each other), 2 dozen pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, 4 mini gingerbread loaves, and lots and lots of garlic broth. I also made 2 dozen mini pumpkin muffins, but they were devoured before picture time!

All but the large rye bread is going into the freezer. We ate half of that bread for dinner tonight and the other half will be for lunch tomorrow. It is so wonderful to have the ability to pull out healthy snacks for the boys at a moments notice.
As far as the broth goes, I know that seems a little weird. Let me start by saying that I make a lot of soup, which means I need a lot of broth. Store bought broth is too expensive for me to have for every recipe. If it is on sale and I have a coupon, I'll buy it. I have also bought it in bulk, but that is for another post. Therefore, most of the time, I make it from chicken bones, beef bones, turkey bones, veggies and this time from garlic. It is so simple, so inexpensive, so good for you, and so delish. My husband had two bowls full by itself before I got it ready for the freezer and the house smelled wonderful!
I don't really have a recipe to share, but this is what I did.

When I cut onions for recipes, I keep the ends and skins for broth. I just keep them in the fridge in a small container and when I make broth I throw them in the pot. Today I was using a crockpot, so I threw those in, along with a carrot, and 2 bulbs of garlic cut in half (skins on).

Then I added some spices, sea salt, multi-colored peppercorns and thyme. (I buy my spices in bulk, thus the large containers.)

Then I simply added enough water to fill the crockpot and turned it on low. By lunch time it was done. I strained out the veggies, cooled the broth and put it into containers. Then I did it all over again and by dinner I had another batch.
I am stocked for a while now. When it is time to make soup, I simply go to the freezer and pull out one or two and use it as my broth in whatever soup I am making.
In the middle of all this, I made dinner. That is what you see below. I sauteed some onion and green pepper, added it to some rice, cubed chicken, beans, and diced tomatoes. I stirred in some cheddar and then topped it with cheddar. That was our dinner. It was a hit and it was simple. I served it with some green beans and rye bread.
From our home to yours,