Showing posts from July, 2013

Cooking Question: Moist Chicken Breasts

Sarah wrote:
I am discouraged. When I cook chicken breasts they usually turn up dry inside. What am I doing wrong?

You don't mention if you're cooking boneless/skinless breasts or bone-in breasts, Sarah, but I'll lay odds you're cooking the boneless skinless.  You are right in thinking that too high a heat will dry them out and cooking them for too long will do the same.  I understand the reasoning.  No one wants to eat undercooked chicken, but the trouble is, too many of us swing too far in the opposite direction.  Boneless/Skinless breasts don't have bone or skin to prevent the drying out.  When you have bone and skin you're adding in much needed moisture (from the bone) and fat (from the skin).

Weekly Menu Plan

The grands are here...and I am blissfully tired.  The twins are walking and they've been all over the house this evening.  It was fun watching Zach trying to walk out of the back entry with one leg in Grandpa's work boot and one foot in Daddy's shoe.  Hailey still has a Weeble sort of walk.  Daniel is a the best picker upper of toys there ever was.  His 'job' at home is to pick up the play room each night and I can tell he knows his stuff.  He gathered up all the toys and put them away tonight.

So it's a little late and I'm more than a little tired.  Let me get this meal plan going and let's finish up for the night.

Almond Chicken, Rice, Steamed Snap Peas
This was meant to be an easy meal for me to prepare.  I forgot to string the snap peas so had to do that before I started cooking, but I did get the other vegetables prepped early this morning.   The babies liked the snap peas and so did their Daddy which was a huge surprise to me.  He's never been…

Staying Out of Debt for Good: The Last Little Piggy

Well here we are down to our last little Piggy, the one who cried "Wee Wee Wee" all the way home.

Now I don't know if you know anything at all about pigs but far more than "oink" they tend to squeal and it sounds a good deal like "Wee wee wee"...It's not a happy sound.  It's generally a form of protest, a complaint,  over being pushed away from the slop trough or herded back into the pen they happily rooted their way out of.  Nope, not happy in the least!

Now oddly enough you'd think the little Piggy family who had none was unhappy, but they were just being themselves and despite their grumbles and complaints over their self induced misfortunes they were content enough.  But this little piggy...Oh dear.

This little piggy had apparently been out somewhere since she is headed back home.  Perhaps to market with the first little piggy?  Or off to visit the little homebody piggy?  Or having tea and cake with the Roast Beef piggy?  I daresay sh…

Budget Stretcher: Leftover Makeover - Calzone

Last weekend I made meat sauce over spaghetti.  John loves spaghetti and I try to make sure and have it at least once a month.  I had a bit of leftover meat sauce, about 1 cup.  I debated the best way to use up that last bit and I thought Calzone would be ideal, especially since I had some cottage cheese that had been about to expire that I'd frozen.

As I shared with Louise last week, freezing cottage cheese works just fine.  The water in the cheese freezes and when you thaw, the curds of cheese are a little dryer than when fresh.  I like this dryer cheese to use in Lasagna and Calzone because it isn't watery.

Now this time I didn't photo the process, just the baked end product, so I can't show you step by step how I did this, but I can tell you:


1 batch pizza dough (I made my own)
1 cup leftover meat sauce
sliced mozzarella
grated Parmesan/Romano
1 cup 'dry' cottage cheese (you could drain well in a sieve if you don't want to freeze and thaw)
Pepperoni, …

A Year of Savings: 2013

July 15:  John and I seldom go out to eat breakfast these days.  Locally, our options are down to Subway and the local diner.  Well neither one is much fun for dining in and neither offers up a breakfast worth going out for.  Love both for takeout dinner or supper but not so much for breakfast.  However, John does surprise me now and then with a homemade breakfast that I don't have to cook myself.  Today was such a day.  Savings $11 what it used to cost us to eat out in our former local place.  These days it would be more, plus the cost of gasoline, but we'll settle for that old amount as savings since we did buy our own breakfast makings. By the way, the man makes the most awesome hash-browns from scratch! 

I cooked a big pot of pinto beans this morning. I'd meant to make Cowboy Beans, a recipe I found earlier last week.  Well I couldn't find that recipe for love or nothing!  In the meantime, my husband saw the cooked beans and exclaimed over them asking if I were ma…

Shabat Thoughts - Valley View

I said earlier this week that I was having a difficult time of late.  And so I am.  But, you know, the past five years have been harder than any I think I've experienced in my lifetime.  I had different expectations of where I'd be just now, of what my life would look like, of who I'd be.  Need I say that my expectations were apparently very far off target?  In fact, the past five years seem to have been all about subtracting out every single element of what I thought.  Being obtuse, I didn't begin to take the hint until this year when those mountaintop experiences began. 

I have been ready for a positive major life change for years.  You name it and I've dreamed it.  This past year, in that first experience on the mountain, I laid down  my dreams,  my plans, my wants and told God I'd be, do, whatever He wanted.  That was scary enough all in itself.  There's that old thing I hear from so many, "But what if God asks me to go to Africa?"  Well... …

Just a Filling Station

This Morning I was up bright and early.  I was mindful of all the things I wanted to get done in the kitchen before the day got too hot.  I was busy as I could be when it occurred to me that I don't run a home at all...I run a filling station!
 The cookie jar was empty.  So I made cookies to fill it up.

John worked all night and he gets up very early and is very hungry when he comes in...
I made biscuits to fill him up.

While I was busy...
I filled the sink.

While I waited on John...
I filled my body with coffee and my soul with strong words to carry me through the day.

After breakfast, I...
filled some empty space in my freezer with packets of fresh butter beans.

I cut off the ends and shucked a dozen and half ears of corn to cream Sunday morning. That job...
filled a big bag with compost.

I made dinner and...
filled the dishwasher.

Clearing the table I had to...
refill the water pitcher for the fridge.

And after all that filling up, I decided it was time to...
fill the coffeem…

Weekly Meal Plan

Another week...and do you realize that in just ten days more we'll be in August?  Indeed, school will be starting in less than 2 weeks time. 

I do not miss the days of getting children ready for the school year ahead.  I had plenty of practice at it with the five children and it was always a very fast paced couple of weeks, what with need to update shots, get haircuts,  gather paperwork, get school supplies, check wardrobes and purchase clothing items.  We'd trek from store to store in the most gosh awful heat and humidity and come home drained and worn out.  And why was it such a struggle?  Because my kids were adamant that we do everything in the least expensive way possible.  Their grandparents often gave them a sum of money towards the school expenses, which we matched and my children wanted to get the most mileage out of their money that they could.  It was they who perused sales sheets and spoke with friends and gathered information about sales on various needed items. …

Budget Stretchers: Leftover Makeovers: Corn Chowder, Squash Casserole

I have two Leftover Makeovers to share today.

I believe that we can get double mileage from our food dollars if we creatively use leftovers.  It's my theory that starting with a plain cooked dish and morphing it into a not so plain dish is the way to insure I get more for food dollar.

A couple of weeks ago, I steamed 4 ears of corn in the microwave.  We ate two as corn on the cob and I had two leftover.  I chose to cut the cooked kernels from the cob:
I made corn chowder.  I'm sorry to say that this was also the day I was preparing the Southern Style Cream Corn and I forgot all about showing you the finished product!  However, here's my recipe:

Corn Chowder

1 quart chicken broth
2 cups (more or less) cooked whole kernel corn
1 cup diced potatoes
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp (or to taste) minced garlic
1 tall can (15 ounces?) evaporated milk
1/4 cup flour
 Salt and pepper to taste

I started by slightly cooking the potatoes, onion, bell pepper in a li…

Iced Tea Chat - Calm Cool Collected

Now doesn't she just look like she's got it altogether?  Sigh.  I so wish I felt I did!  But do come on in and have some tea with me, won't you?  There's mint to go in the tea, or fresh lemon slices.  I like to do both. There are sugar cookies in the cookie jar, nice crisp, sugary ones.   I don't know why I don't make sugar cookies more often.  I really like them, simple as they are.  I'm finding more and more of late, I want simpler things.
I've been 'hiding out' the past few days.  I've spent hours upon hours reading the archives of a favorite but now closed blog of a gentle, sweet soul and a pile of vintage magazines.  Frankly I feel ill equipped at the moment to enjoy present day life. Nothing, I'm sure, that a decent night's rest and perhaps a deep hard news fast couldn't cure.  I am deeply saddened by the world at large lately, personal and otherwise.  News is enough to make me forget that there are still good, decent, kin…

Getting Out of Debt For Good: This Little Piggy Had None

You'll find me hard hearted with this little piggy.

Once upon a time I knew a family who worked  at two jobs and lived in the worst possible conditions at all times.  They hadn't a decent stick of furniture and what they did have that might have been decent was so ill treated and so abused that it soon fell to pieces.  The house was poorly kept.   Food upon their table was a strictly feast and famine sort of thing.  When they had grocery they ate every last bite, never bothering to stretch to cover more than one meal, were very casual about putting away any leftovers, and were wasteful as could be.  The adults never instructed by example and lacked the discipline to set rules.  There was no stocked pantry in their home nor even a full cupboard. Most meals were planned daily a half hour or so before one would normally eat.   If meals weren't forthcoming from their own resources they went off to visit friends and hung around waiting for a meal to appear.  I soon learned t…

A Year of Savings: 2013

July 8:  I've lost a day somewhere along the line...I kept thinking today was Tuesday all day long.  No clue why, but it's left me feeling very confused.

Made my own barbecue sauce earlier this morning.  I incorporated some jelly that was starting to sugar up.  It was a homemade jar of Blackberry/Apple jelly that was given to us.  It provided a nice sweetness to the homemade sauce.  Savings $.99 the current sales price of store bought name brand sauce.

Shopped at home today for ketchup and regular coffee.

Shopped online for two items I can't buy easily locally.  It sounds odd, but purchasing Tylenol is practically impossible at my area stores.  I can order online however, without a problem and without being tempted by a dozen other things.  I made this purchase with Amazon credit earned from Swagbucks.  That's a savings of $13.99 for us.

Also bought decaf coffee online.  I divide this over four pay periods and take the cash from the grocery budget.  We've not found…

Weekly Menu Plan

I know my photo is askew...frankly at the moment it is about how I feel, slightly not right.  Here's hoping whatever it is passes quickly, but as I've said a half dozen times or so: Neither hail nor sleet nor rain nor snow...Nope that's not it!  But it does fit in with that idea as well.  "The world may end and someone will still want  a meal, the dishes must be done."  That's it.  Does sort of fit in with that stalwart postal carrier's slogan doesn't it?  And isn't it a shame that today the postal service (not just picking on them, mind you, but lots of folks) can't see their way clear to keep to that old fashioned statement of duty?  Call me old fashioned, but I do believe that a woman's place in the home is head cheerleader, bottle washer, bed maker and in my instance this morning, turtle saver. 

Does it sound as though I'm rambling weirdly about?  Not at all, not at all.  Went out this morning to feed the pets and Maddie was barki…

Morning Song

Morning Song
Rise, oh Lark, on eager wings,
                                                     Above the night's dark hollow.
                                           Fly into the edge of Dawn --
                                                     I have wings to follow!
                                           Dip into the golden scent
                                                    Of cloud's ethereal flower.
                                           I have wings to touch the stars,
                                                     To race a comet shower!
                                           Sing, oh Lark, of sky and star
                                                     And the wind's soft thunder,
                                           And sing of how my heart shall leap
                                                     At seeing morning's wonder!

Edith Grames Schay

My Latest Pinterst Inspired Craft

I knew the moment I saw this wreath on Pinterest via Marlen Diaz-Sanchez

that I had to make one for myself.  I had all the components on hand...but ended up buying the wide burlap ribbon, instead of cutting a strip off my length of burlap as I'd originally planned.  Total cost to make: $1 for the section of ribbon used (you'll find it in Hobby Lobby in the sewing area for $5.99 for the spool).

Notice my little innovation there on the sunflowers?  One lost it's fuzzy brown center piece. I had other sunflowers I could use but I also have this sort of homespun fabric on hand that I thought would be cute.Perhaps it looks a bit more autumn-is than summer, but I like it all the same.

My grapevine wreath is a  little wonky but it's a genuine handmade wreath.  My kids and I went out to the backroads and cut wild grapevine about 10 years ago and wove them into wreaths.  It's a nice tight sturdy vine and has stood up to many uses.  You might recall that I used it for this w…