Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Day In Pictures

I love to read blog posts that show pictures of what the author does. It makes me feel like they have invited me into their home, and I get to experience the way they live, and what is important to them. They have inspired me to grab my own camera and document my almost every movement. I hope you enjoy my day, and hopefully are encouraged to share yours.

The first thing I do when I get up is check on my garden. The caterpillars have devoured my tomatoes, but my bell peppers are doing pretty good!

I also had to add algaecide to the pool this morning. Looks cool and refreshing, doesn't it!

Next I have to start breakfast, and clean the kitchen. Today for breakfast is peanut butter toast, scrambled eggs, and grapes.

Clean, clean, clean!!

After breakfast is when we usually start our lessons. We are using Rod & Staff for my 5th grader, and 1st grader.

While they are working on their lessons I get started on some salsa. This snack is so fresh and yummy!

These are all the ingredients I need to make this...

and here is the final product. Doesn't it look wonderful?

After the salsa was done, I got the girls started on their lapbooks. Lexi is doing TheHuman Body, and Cadyn is doing The Ants Go Marching.

While they are doing their lessons I made a batch of Banana Chocolate Chip muffins. Let me just say that they did not last very long!

Then I have to clean the kitchen.....again! It never seems to be clean! Do you see our science project up on the window sill? It is a Venus Flytrap! It currently has one fly in it's trap, and we are eagerly waiting to see what happens when it opens back up.

After I cleaned the kitchen we decided to go outside for a little while. You know, to get our wiggles out!

The girls were worn out by this time, so we all laid down for quiet time until it was time to make dinner. Dinner was Spaghetti with home made noodles, and french bread. Sorry, but I forgot to take a picture of it. I was too hungry!

I hope you all enjoyed my day! It was a lot of fun to put together for you, and maybe I will do it again. You will just have to keep coming back to see!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Whole Wheat Bread in the Bread Machine

This is a re-post from last month, but it is so good that I had to put in my favorites! This bread comes out moist and stays that way. Just what I like!

Perfect Sandwich Bread

1 cup lukewarm water
1 TB milk
2 TB oil (vegetable, olive, all works fine)
2 TB honey
2 TB brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp yeast

Put all ingredients into a bread machine in the order according to your manufacturer's instructions (the above list is how I add mine).
Set your machine to the Dough cycle (my machine takes 90 minutes).
After the cycle is complete, remove the dough and place it into a well-greased loaf pan.
Brush the top with a small amount of oil (optional, but gives the bread a nice shine & crust).
Cover the pan with a dish towel and place in a warm spot of your kitchen. (I put mine in an oven that I preheated to 200 degrees, then turned off).
Let the dough rise for 30-45 minutes.
Remove the towel and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rosemary Bread in the Bread Machine

I love the way this bread smells while cooking! It is my favorite snacking bread, but it goes well with soups and other saucy meals.

There are a lot of spices in this bread, but do not skimp! I promise that you will love the outcome! The pepper lends it a slight (very slight) spice, and the rosemary is perfect. I hope you enjoy this bread, and comment below letting me know what meal your paired it with.

-1 cup water
-3 tablespoons olive oil
-1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
-1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
-1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning or Basil and Oregano
-1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
-1/2-1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (dried will work fine, but the rosemary will not be as strong)
-2 1/2 cups bread flour
-1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1. Place ingredients in your bread machine according to the manufacturers recommendations. Select the white bread cycle, and press Start. That is it!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Chocolate Cake In the Bread Machine

When I first made this I did not anticipate it even turning out OK. I have made home made cake before, and I know the process is a little more than dump and go, which is what you do in the bread machine. So while this is baking I am thinking, "This is so not going to work", then "OK, that smells gooood!", and , "Wow, I really want to eat that! I hope it works!". Now, even though it ended up not looking like cake, and the texture was nothing compared to cake, the end product was something more! It was a not too sweet, chocolate bread that was to DIE for! You will love this bread, your husband will love this bread, your kids, your aunts, uncles, everyone!

This recipe will say to choose your cake setting, which I have on my machine. If you don't have this feature I would still give it a try on the regular setting and see how it works.

Chocolate Cake

-1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
-5 tbs unsweetened cocoa
-2tsp baking powder
-3/4 cup sugar
-1/3 cup oil or butter
-2 eggs lightly beaten
-1/3 cup water
-1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

When the sound beeps add in:
-1/3 cup chocolate chips (if you don't have this feature just go ahead and throw them in. Not sure why it's there anyway)

1. Measure all ingredients into the bread pan.
2. Insert baking pan securely into baking unit and close lid.
3. Select the cake setting if you have it.
4. Add the chocolate chips after about 5 minutes.
5. The bread machine will do the rest of the work for you, so kick up your heels and relax a little!

Enjoy, from my house to yours!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bread Recipe Week......Foccacia Bread Using the Bread Machine

This week I am going to post my seven top favorite bread machine recipes. So gather your essentials, and stay tuned!

When I made this for the first time I couldn't believe how delicious it really was! We all ate both loaves in one joke! The Triple Cheese topping will remind you of pizza, and may taste a little better too. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

Preheat oven to 375
Baking Sheet lightly greased

-1 1/3 cups water
-1 1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp sugar
-3 3/4 cups bread flour
-2 1/4 tsp yeast

1. Add ingredients according to your bread machine recommendations.
2. Remove dough to a lightly floured board; cover with a large bowl and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
3. Divide the dough in half. Stretch each half into a 10 by 8 inch rectangle. Dimple with flour coated fingertips. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft free place for 30 min. Re-dimple. Cover with preferred topping mixture (recipe follows).
4. Bake on the lowest rack of the preheated oven or hot baking stone for 20-30 minutes or until golden.

Triple Cheese Topping

-1-2 tsp olive oil
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 tsp dried basil
-1/2-1 cup prepared salsa
-1/2 cup shredded Asiago or Romano cheese
-1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
-1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-salsa for garnish

1. Mix together olive oil and garlic for a more even coverage. Drizzle over the dough; allow to puddle in the pimples. Top with basil and salsa. Mix the 3 cheeses together. Sprinkle over salsa.

Parmesan Walnut Topping

-2 tbs olive oil
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 cup chopped walnuts
-2 tbs grated Parmesan cheese

1. Mix together olive oil and garlic. Drizzle over the dough; allow to puddle in the dimples. Top the dough with walnuts and Parmesan cheese.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Real Life Homeschooling

I was thinking how cool it would be to post every week a life lesson that I have incorporated into our homeschool. I think life lessons are important for every child and easy to teach with minimal effort. These lessons will stay with a little one for the rest of their lives, and will make living away from home easier. Can you imagine how hard it would be to move away for the first time without knowing how to cook, or wash your own clothes? I definitely don't want any of my children feeling lost, or calling me on the phone to ask for directions!

The first life lesson I am blogging about is cooking. My eldest daughter(10 yrs.) loves to cook, and bake. After watching her become bored after her lessons I thought of a great idea that would take up some of her extra time. Once a week she would have to find a healthy meal, make a grocery list, budget under $10, and prepare her meal with minimal help. To assist her recipe hunt, I unearthed an old Christmas cookbook that was never touched, but is now loved! It is Molly's American Girl cookbook, and has a lot of fun recipes that are perfect for beginners. This was just the ticket to get my girl going!

For her first meal she chose meatloaf (from scratch!), and lava potatoes. I never doubted in my mind that she would fail, but she did outdo my expectations! Her meal was superb, especially the lava potatoes that were filled with cheese! You should have seen her beaming smile, while her family told her what a fine job she did! We not only taught her a valuable skill, she also felt very good about herself and knows now that she is capable. Knowing that she can cook a meal a week, and allow me to rest a little, makes her feel important and needed. Something everyone needs!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The last couple weeks have been real slow around here, and not much has been done. I was pretty sick, and we all know what happens when Mama is sick! The house goes, the kids go bonkers, and the hubby is stretched thinner than usual! It was not a pretty picture! However, I do need to give my hubby props for takin' care of business. I don't know how I would have done it without him!

So, I went to the cardiologist last week, and he doesn't think my symptoms are heart related. That's good news, but now I have to start at the beginning again. My family doctor thinks my hormone levels are out of whack, which would explain a lot of other things that I thought were unrelated. I have an appointment with my OB in a couple weeks, and I am hoping with all my heart that he can tell me what's wrong. Readers, I have been feeling like this for years! If someone can cure me I will be the happiest woman on the planet! Say a prayer for me!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

It Hits Me Like A Truck

Here I am, sitting in bed wishing I could muster up the energy to get up. But instead, my body has other ideas, so here I lay. Sometimes I think my body is failing me, and other times I think it's just the doctors incompetency in diagnosing me. I have worn heart monitors, had EKG's, ultrasounds, and nothing. The only person that can hear a murmur is the nurse practitioner, but what can she really do? If the cardiologist can't hear it, then it just isn't there, I guess.

For over a year I have had irregular heartbeats, and no one can tell me why. Usually I am fine with it, but times like now, it really hits me. I thought the only trigger was alcohol, but there is obviously another one I can't see. When I have an episode I am extremely fatigued, I got my first migraine last night, my vision worsens, I can't focus, and get the occasional sharp pain in my chest. You would think the doctors would know what to do! I am just so frustrated. We are supposed to be doing lessons, going to the store, or just having a great day. I hate that I can't do that right now! I need my body to be stronger for my family. I need to put a name to my condition. I need medication to fix me. I need to feel better.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Grocery Shopping on the Cheap part 2

This is a list of what I make by hand. I try to do as much as I can, but I rely mostly on my best servant.....the bread machine! If you have never tried to make bread, you must try! It is unbelievably delicious, the texture is perfect, and you know exactly what you did, or didn't put into your bread.

-Pizza Dough
-Sandwich Bread (the recipe I am using now is down below on my blog)
-Snack Bread (Foccacia, Pretzels)
-Dinner Rolls
-French Bread
-Salad Dressings
-Tomato Sauce
-Pancakes, Waffles
-Pie Crust
...and so on. There are too many to list, but I am sure you catch my drift.

Now for what I have spent in groceries...

Ground Turkey - 4.56
Sweet Italian Sausage - 3.88
Chicken Breast- 8.09
Rice Crispies(for granola bars) - 1.75
Cocoa Puffs - 1.88
Cinnamon Toast Crunch - 1.79
Pepperoni - 3.25
Applesauce - 1.99
Tomato Paste (2)- .82
Salsa - 1.78
Cream of Chicken Soup - .76
Cream Cheese - 1.78
Vanilla Ice Cream - 2.78
Crushed Pineapple - 1.39
Mozzarella Cheese 2.73
Pizza Sauce (2)- 2.92
Parsley Flakes - 1.84
Sour Cream - 2.96
Limes - .10
Lemon - .28
Flax Seed - 1 pound for .70
Almonds - 1 pound for 3.28
Bell Pepper (5)- 1.90
Popsicles - 1.65
Green Onions - .38
Banana - 1.76
Fuji Apples - 5.00
Vanilla Yogurt - 2.75
Farmers Market - 18.00
Basil - Free from garden
Oregano - Free from garden

Grand Total= $82.75 for two weeks

We buy a lot of our food in bulk, so I still have a lot of ingredients on hand. The next grocery shopping bill will include all my ingredients for baking. We buy 20 pounds of flour, 10 pounds of white and brown sugar, and our canned goods once a month from Costco. It is cheaper to do it this way, and I seem to never run out of flour!! It used to drive me crazy when I went to bake something and I had no flour! Such a bummer! I will also restock any other supplies, such as baking powder, yeast, baking soda, ect. Also, if I see something on sale that I usually buy, then I will get quite a few to have on stock. If you look at my grocery receipt, ground turkey is on there but I didn't plan on getting it. It was on sale from 5.00 to 2.28, so I bought two. Score!!

I am looking at what I bought, and it seems we have a lot of meat on there! We usually don't buy a lot of meat, but my husband requested his favorite meals, and it ended up being the ones with animals in them. I try to make at least four vegetarian meals a week, but that's just because we like our veggies!

I will start posting all my favorite recipes for you to try. I have a few really good ones that you will love!

If you made it this far, I am happy! Please comment any questions, and blog post recommendations are always welcome!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Grocery Shopping on the Cheap part 1

I am known among my friends for feeding my family of five for very little. Some think I am a little loopy for doing it, but the others are genuinely interested in the whole idea. I get great satisfaction knowing that if something horrible happened, like hubby losing his job (knock on wood!), I would still be able to make nutritious meals and keep us healthy. Not to mention our bellies happy! Food to me is everything, and when my pantry is stocked I am happy. It's when the food gets low that I start to stress a little. A grumpy mama is no fun, let me tell ya!

Here is the menu plan for the next couple weeks. I have everyone pick out their favorite meals, and will make them until I go shopping again at the end of the month. I am going to list each meal once, but it will be the same for the next week. Also, mostly everything you see will be made from scratch, and that is the secret for keeping your cost down.

-Applesauce Muffins
-Banana Muffins
-Biscuit and Egg Sandwich (identical to the ones you find at McD's but better!)
-Toast and Eggs
-Bagel(store bought) and Eggs
-Granola Cereal (hm)

Breakfast is pretty easy. I have a list of meals, and I let the girls choose for the most part. We don't eat cereal very often, so that is why it is not on the list.

-Rice Bowls
-Meat Sandwich(when it's on sale. I like the gooood stuff from Vons, but I can't justify $7 a pound)
-Chicken Salad w/ Blue Cheese Dressing
-Cheesy Chicken and Rice
-Pesto Pasta (pesto is usually store bought)
-Empty Cupboard Pasta (kids favorite!)
-Leftovers from the night before (my favorite!)

The lunch plan is pretty much the same as the breakfast plan. We choose whatever suits our fancy.

Dinner: September 6-September 20

Monday- Spaghetti (homemade noodles and sauce), salad, French Bread (hm)
Tuesday- Shredded Chicken Tacos, Spanish Rice(need to make enough for Thursday), black beans
Wednesday- Pizza, and bread sticks (hm recipe is the best! I will post it soon!)
Thursday- Chicken Enchiladas, Spanish Rice (from Tues.), corn
Friday- Stromboli, salad
Saturday- Taco Casserole, salad
Sunday- Meatloaf, potatoes, green beans

The dinner plan is the tricky one. If I don't write it down on paper, I get completely scatter brained and forget to even prep for dinner. So plan I must!

Snacks: I make all our snacks from scratch. It's so much cheaper this way, and healthier too!

-Salsa and Tortilla Chips
-Granola Bars
-Popcorn(air popped)
-Veggie sticks and Blue Cheese dressing
-apples & peanut butter (store bought)

I also plan my snacks since I don't buy any boxed foods(fruit snacks, Wheat Thins). The only boxed food I get is the occasional cereal treat, and oatmeal. This keeps my grocery spending way down, so if I want to spend a little on ice cream I can without feeling guilty.

Stay tuned for part two!


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Craft of the Day

I don't know about you but I find a ton of broken crayons all over the house. I am talkin' under couches, between cushions, in my car, in drawers, and shoved back into that poor cardboard crayon box.

So what did we do with those broken crayons?

We tore off the paper..

broke the crayons into smaller pieces, but not too small. I would say about a half an inch to an inch...

tried to group the crayons by like colors into a muffin tin. As you can see, that didn't go so well!

Then we put the crayons into a 400 degree preheated oven until melted. Result? Wala, big colorful crayons! But before you make these I have a tip for you that is very important. Leave the pan in the oven until cooled. If you try to remove it the colors will mix, resulting in a brown crayon. Not pretty!

The kids thought these were the coolest! They colored and colored and colored to their hearts content! That is until the three year old decided they were all hers, and she shoved them into her clothes while running away! Gotta love that girl!

Stay tuned for tomorrow. My camera is going to follow me so I can show you what we do in a day! That should be fun!

What's Cookin'

I kinda forget about menu planning this week, so that is why the lack of a menu. So instead, everyday I have to figure out what to make with what I have on hand, which is no easy task. I don't have that special gift of knowing what kind of foods to put together to make a great meal. I need a recipe to work with, and if I am lucky like I was tonight, I will find one that I can make without going to the grocery store. So, here is what I made that is always a great vegetarian dinner. That is if you already have your Chinese food essentials!

Chinese Fried Rice

Makes about 8 main dish servings

2 cups water
4 cups rice ( I used brown jasmine rice)
3 T peanut oil, divided
4 eggs beaten
2-3 cups veggies (whatever you have on hand. Carrots, zucchini, bell pepper, mushrooms, bean sprouts, get the picture!)
4 green onions, sliced
3-4 cloves of garlic (we love garlic, so more is best!)
1/4 t crushed dried chili
4T soy sauce ( I use Tamari. I find it has a better flavor)
4T rice vinegar

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add uncooked rice, return to the boil, reduce heat. Cover and simmer until rice is tender and water is absorbed, allowing 15 minutes for long grain white rice, and 35 minutes for brown rice.

Heat 2 T oil in a wok or frying pan. Add beaten egg and cook, without stirring, for about 2 minutes, or until set. Invert pan to remove egg; cut into strips. Set aside.

Add 2 T oil to the same pan and stir-fry your veggies until crisp-tender. Keep in mind that some vegetables cook faster than others. So, for example, your carrots will cook for a few minutes then add your broccoli. Remove from wok.

Add remaining oil; stir-fry green onion, garlic, and crushed dried chili for 30 seconds. Add rice and cook for 2 minutes more. Return egg strips and veggies to wok; add soy sauce and vinegar. Cover and cook for 2 minutes more, or until heated through. Serve immediately.