Friday, December 30, 2011

Hungry Man Chicken - Crock Pot

6 med potatoes - peeled and quartered
1 med onion - sliced
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 carrots - cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cans cream of mushroom soup (or sub 1 cream of chicken)

spray 4-5 qt crock pot with non stick spray
layer carrots, then potatoes, then onion, then chicken
pour soup over top
cover and cook on low 8 hours or 4 hours on high

like how my owl looks like he's going to eat it?

Until Next Time.....

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Menu #1 - lots of crock pot!

Remember that these menus are not all inclusive.  I am giving you 5 dinner ideas, plus the occasional dessert and side dish.  For ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides, snacks, and desserts check the "Menu plans" tab to the left or browse through the other category tabs to the left.  ENJOY!

Beef Bourguignonne (crock pot)

Chicken in a Pot (crock pot)

Easy Fish Fillet (crock pot....doesn't take long, just the method)

Chicken Hash (use leftover chicken from chicken in a pot)

Taco Soup (could use crock pot)

Random dessert = Crock pot sweet with cin/sugar or marshmallows, etc.

Until Next Time.....

$8 or Less Recipe - Frozen Pizza

I know! You clicked on this link 'cause you said "she seriously did not do a post telling me to make a frozen pizza!" Not Exactly!

Take your favorite frozen CHEESE pizza
Now add a ton of fresh toppings
Prepare per package instructions

Quick and easy and you can still make it good!  Cut up all the veggies you like, maybe add a second kind of cheese.  Don't forget the pepperoni and mushrooms!  Get 'bout ham and pineapple?  You can still have a pretty good pizza without going to a restaurant.

Give it a shot!

Until Next Time.....

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Proverbs 31 Wife - Week Fourteen

Question #14: How do you handle being in control (or when you're not)?

Well, here's another week where I want to quit this whole experiment!  Just remember that I'm being transparent to better myself....I'm a work in progress....No one's perfect, etc, etc!

How do I handle being in control....perfectly well, thank you!  Yep, that's right, my name is Franny and I'm a control freak!  Seriously, I'm a little more organized than some of the people in my life, so it just seems to naturally fall to me to be in control when it comes to the details.  I do like to offer control to them when it comes to a lot of the decisions, like what do you want to do, where do you want to eat, etc, but other planning is all on me.

I sometimes don't mind if I'm not in control, but most of the time I don't like be perfectly honest!  For example, if it is someone else's turn to be in charge of an activity, but they are a last minute, fly by the seat of your pants kind of person, I get very tense.  I want to know when and where as soon as possible, and if it is something that calls for it, I want to know plan B up front.  Then I can plan everything else accordingly.  If we were supposed to get together with another couple and it was their turn to plan it and they called one day and said let's do it tonight, my first reaction would to be to say no because I wasn't prepared.  I know, you're saying prepared for what? Just go have fun!  I know, I'm working on it!

The biggest lack of control, obviously is that which God has and we don't at all.  I can plan all I want to and God just laughs.  He has the power to change your day without a second's notice, and He can upend your life altogether whenever He feels like it.  I don't know the exact passage, but it says in the Bible, "who among you can add a moment to your life by worrying?"  I keep trying to tell myself that, and believe it or not, I've come a long way!  Look at the fact that I'm not working without having a safety net.  Yes, we saved up quite a bit before I did it, but COBRA is going to take a lot of that and it won't last forever.  What will I do then?  I'm not going to worry about it right now.  God is in control.  He made it very clear that this was what He wanted me to do, and I'm going to do it.

So is this easier said than done....of course!  It took me about 5 years to get to this point on just the one topic!  But I am getting better.  I'm trying to be more like the 2 sisters in the Bible where one was so focused on the details she didn't have any time to spend with Jesus (how I used to be) and the other who did no work, but just stopped to be in His presence (how I'm trying to be).  Want a perfect example?  I have a whole day of work planned.  My house is cluttered from all the Christmas presents and boxes and all the stuff we brought home from Grama's house, but my neighbor just texted me to ask to go shopping with her.  I'm dropping all my plans to do just that!  Baby steps, but steps nonetheless! 

Until Next Time.....

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Shortcut Stroganoff

serves 4-6

1 tsp vegetable or olive oil (only needed if NOT using ground beef)
1 lb boneless beef sirloin or chuck into strips or cubes
  OR 1 lb ground beef
1 10 oz can cream of mushroom soup
1 10 oz can beef broth
1 C water
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3 C uncooked spiral pasta
1/2 C sour cream

brown meat, let juices evaporate and stir often
(drain fat if using ground beef)
add all ingredients BUT sour cream
heat to a boil
cook over medium heat 15-20 minutes or until pasta is tender
stir often
add sour cream and heat through, do not let it boil

Until Next Time....

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas leftovers

Time once again for turkey least that's what we have for Christmas dinner.  There are some you could sub in leftover ham if that is your meat of choice.  Personally, not a big ham fan, so I apologize for the deficit in that area!  Hope you all had a very Merry and very Blessed Christmas.  Now let's use up those leftovers!

*CP* = can be made in the Crock Pot

Pot Pie (try ham)

Easy scalloped Potatoes *CP* (add diced ham)

Chicken Hash (with turkey, obviously, or try with ham)

Easy Chicken (turkey) Enchiladas (warm up turkey a little first)

Turkey Hand Pies (try ham)

Until Next Time.....

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Leftover Casserole

Clean out the fridge after any holiday dinner including turkey or chicken....I'm not sure about ham.

serves 4-6

2 1/2 C prepared mashed potatoes
2 C shredded cooked turkey or chicken
1 1/2 C gravy (12oz)
1 C prepared stuffing
salt and pepper to taste
(got any other veggies? throw it in, add more gravy if you need more moisture)

preheat oven to 350
in 2 qt casserole, place mashed potatoes evenly across the bottom
heat gravy if needed to thin a little
mix turkey, gravy and stuffing together
add salt and pepper to taste....add any other veggies
place on top of potatoes
cover and bake 25-30 min or until completely heated through

Until Next Time.....

Friday, December 23, 2011

Crock Pot Beef for Noodles

2-3 lbs beef stew meat or cut up chuck roast
1 10oz can beefy mushroom soup
1 10oz can golden mushroom soup
1 10oz can french onion soup
1/3 c bread crumbs
pepper to taste
1/2 c water

spray 4.5 or 6 qt crock pot with non-stick spray
add soups, water and crumbs and mix well
add beef and mix well
cover and cook on low 8-10 hours depending on your pot
serve over noodles

Until Next TIme.....

Thursday, December 22, 2011

$8 or Less Recipe - Bacon Cheeseburger Meatballs

2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb bacon - very small dice
1 small onion - minced
1/2 c bread crumbs
3 eggs lightly beaten
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
salt & pepper to taste

preheat oven to 400
saute bacon and onions until golden brown
remove to paper plate to drain
place rest of ingredients in large bowl
add cooled bacon and onions
mix with clean hands
tightly roll into just smaller than golf ball meatballs
place on jelly roll pan
bake 18-20 minutes until cooked through

makes 45 using the medium Pampered Chef dough scoop

serve with mustard and ketchup
this recipe comes in at around $ 7.00 depending on prices in your area

Until Next Time....

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Proverbs 31 Wife - Week Thirteen

Question #13: What's something fun you've baked?  What's your favorite sweet treat to serve to your family?

Well, this post won't take long!  If you've followed me for very long you know that I'm not much of a baker!  I do love the chocolate oatmeal pie, and so does everyone I've ever made it for.  I just made one yesterday!  (you can find the recipe under the Dessert tab) I like it best while it's still warm, and when it is the next day, I'll stick it in the microwave for about 20 seconds or so.  Oh, and we put cool whip on it for the first time yesterday, YUM!!

Compared to what Sara Horn did in the book, this is pretty boring!  I told you this wouldn't take long!  Be sure to read this section of the book....her story is way better!

Until Next Time.....

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Easy Potato Soup

1 16oz pkg diced frozen hash brown potatoes (or equiv fresh)
1 small onion minced
1 14oz can chicken broth
1 10oz can cream of chicken soup
1 10oz can cream of celery soup
2 C milk
2C water

combine potatoes, onion and water in 4qt pot and bring to a boil
cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 min
stir in broth, soups and milk and heat through, but do not boil

top with cheese and/or bacon bits

Until Next Time.....

Monday, December 19, 2011

2012 New Year New You - Financial Records

I can hardly believe it's almost time for a new year!  One of the first things I do for a new year is get a new accordion file for my financial records.  You've probably read a bunch of different opinions on what you should keep, burn, shred, throw away etc.  Let me just tell you how I do it.

My file in this pic has 21 sections.  I need at least that many, more is good too, but this size works really well.  I pretty much keep everything, then in January this file will go into a large Rubbermaid bin in the garage and I will pull out the one marked 2001 and burn it.  Yep, not only do I keep everything, I keep it for 10 years.  There are so many different rules.  Keep this for 7 years, that for three, the other for 10.  To make it easy, I keep it all for's all in one file, why take the time to pull out just what I need to destroy?  It doesn't take up much room in the bin!  And yes, I actually have pulled something out of a file from 10 years ago!

Here are what my sections are labeled.....
credit cards
phones and cable
electric and water
bank records
check stubs
car records
truck records
house records
my husbands health records
my health records
the "kids" health records
life insurance and retirement
my husbands misc.
my misc
Jan & Feb receipts
Mar & Apr receipts
May & June
July & Aug
Sept & Oct
Nov & Dec
Tax Deductible receipts

Within those labels I keep anything pertaining to that.  For example, under check stubs, when I got paid they started doing it electronically and I printed it out and put it in there.  I put bills that I paid in their respective slots, and I keep grocery and other receipts in their proper month unless it is something tax deductible which has it's own slot.

Yes, I know so much of this can be kept on a computer, even at the institution such as bank records kept on your bank's server.  Ever heard of a computer crashing?  I have seen people who were very vigilant about backing up their files lose tons of info.  And, yes I even keep grocery receipts especially if I used a credit or debit card.  I have had to dispute a double charge before and had my receipt to prove it.

I keep this file in a fabric covered bin in the closet in my office.  I also keep a tablet where I keep track of tax deductible doctors visits, donations, etc.  I have envelopes and return labels for when I pay bills.  Everything I need is all in one spot.

I have a friend who likes to laugh at this record keeping I do, but it gives me peace of mind and it has come in handy plenty of times.  Plus it's right there next to my desk and I file everything as soon as I'm done with it.  One of those large Rubbermaid bins easily holds 10 of these files, and that 1 bin doesn't take up very much space in the garage.

If you don't have anything at all, give this a shot and see how you like it.  It took a little getting used to when I first started doing this in 1996, but it very soon became second nature.  Let me know if you have any questions!

Until Next Time.....

Thursday, December 15, 2011

$8 or Less Recipe - Linda's Cranberry Salad

Best to do 24 hours ahead

12 oz fresh cranberries washed
1 C water
2 - 3oz pkgs cherry jello
1 1/2 C sugar
1 C chopped pecans
1 8oz can crushed pineapple in juice, not syrup
(drain juice and save it in a 2 C measuring cup)
2 C liquid : above juice plus rest water to equal 2 C

in saucepan place berries, 1 cup water,  and pour sugar on top
cook until berries pop
take off heat and set aside
in another saucepan, bring 2C water and juice to a boil
add jello
when jello is dissolved, stir into berries
add pineapple and pecans
pour into glass bowl or mold and chill

This recipe is from my good friend Linda K.  Thanks, Linda!!  This recipe comes in just under $8, less if you can get the cranberries and nuts on sale.

Until Next Time.....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Proverbs 31 Wife - Week Twelve

Question #12: Who is a woman you admire and compare to the Proverbs 31 wife?

This one was hard for me because I don't know a woman who is like that for a wife for sure.  We never know what goes on behind closed doors.  (that was a song wasn't it?)  My first thought though is of Connie B.

Connie is someone I used to work with.  She was in a supervisory position and was "in charge" of all the middle school and high school libraries in a VERY large county.  I think we had 77 schools all together.  Just like in any group of people you've got whiners, slackers, and the very needy along with the ones who work very hard.  Connie was worked to death.  She started her day early and it wasn't uncommon for you to get an email from her time stamped at 10 or 11 at night.  She always did what she said she was going to and in the 5 years I got to work for her, she never once said one bad thing about anyone that I ever heard.  Even when she had a perfect opportunity to tell someone off or to complain, she never did.  She would always try to put a positive spin on things and to see the silver lining in any situation.  She didn't try to avoid those trying types of people, if they needed her she was there for them just as much as anyone else.

I know she has been married for years and years and goes to church regularly, but I've only seen her interact with her husband once.  I know someone who is friends with her family though and once again have heard only good.  Given her attitude in a cut throat world of schools and budget cuts, I bet she's a great wife and mother.  Anyone who can put up with what she does on a daily basis with a smile and a word of encouragement for everyone has to be a good person!

Connie influenced me more than she knows during those 5 years.  I used to get upset over every little thing that went wrong or that I couldn't control.  Her example helped me to calm down....a little.

I would love to hear about the influence on your life.  Please leave a comment and tell us about her!

Until Next Time.....

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2012 New Year New You - Cleaning Schedule

I had a friend ask me recently If I could do something for her on a Friday.  I said sure that I only had laundry on the schedule and she gave me one of those looks and said "you schedule it?!?!"

Yes I do!  I have to schedule things or they won't get done....and I don't work outside the home!  When I did work it was even more important that I scheduled my chores or this place would look awful.  And there were times that it did!

I treat cleaning, cooking and taking care of my home as if it were my 9-5 job.  I like to get everything done while my husband is at work so that I have evening and weekends free to be with him, or do things with friends and family.  When I had a "paying" job, I scheduled things very much the same as I got home before my husband, and then finished other things on Saturday morning while he was out fishing.

So here is my cleaning schedule to give you an idea.  You might have busy days where you don't have time for any chores or you might not have any physical limitations and can do it all in one day.  Mine is spread out because I'm forced to rest so much every day.  I'd love to hear some of your schedules....maybe someone has a better idea for me!

Monday: vacuum, kitchen
Tuesday: vacuum, kitchen, bathrooms
Wednesday: vacuum, kitchen
Thursday: vacuum, kitchen, mop
Friday: vacuum, kitchen, laundry, clean laundry room

Yes, I do vacuum every week day and on the weekends if I feel like it.  I read a home-ec book that said you should vacuum 1 day per week per person and inside/outside animal in your household.  That equals 4 for us, but I kinda live in the woods so there's always stuff getting tracked in.

If you have a job outside of the home and can't do something like this, pick one morning that you can do laundry, then while the loads are going do your cleaning.  Then by the time the laundry is done so is the whole house.  If you suffer from Fibromyalgia, arthritis or other chronic pain or fatigue syndrome, please spread your chores out throughout the week.

Until Next Time.....

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fried Sweet Potatoes

Makes about 6 servings

2-3 large sweet potatoes

Peel sweet potatoes
slice between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick pieces
melt some butter in frying pan
place potato slices in one layer in pan
sprinkle with sugar
turn over when as brown as you like
continue frying until done
keep cooked slices warm in oven set very low or Crock Pot on warm

Until Next Time.....

Saturday, December 10, 2011

One Year to an Organized Life

Raise your hand if You make New Year's Resolutions.  Raise your hand if they usually fall away by February.  Raise your hand if you get disappointed with yourself because of it.  Hand tired?  Mine too!  Here is the answer!!! No, really!  

I am very excited to announce that starting in January of 2012, we will be going through this book together!  The author has graciously agreed to let us use her book in this "group" format and has even said that she would stop by to guest post from time to time.  She also has a Facebook page where she says that you can post any questions you might have and she'll be glad to answer.  If you look on Frugal Franny's Facebook page under the "like" section, you'll find a link to her FB page.  I encourage you to go there and "like" her page so you'll have quick access to it.

This book is so awesome because it breaks down everything into small easy to accomplish chunks where you do a little every week so you don't get overwhelmed.  And by doing this together we will have each other to lean on and be accountable to so that we don't give up.  Then, once everything is organized it's really very simple to keep it that way.  Author Sara Horn of "My So Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife" practices what she calls "Ms. Nancy's One Touch" rule.  If you touch it, deal with it only once, meaning put it back, file it, throw it away, clean it, etc.  If we would only take those few seconds (and it really is quicker....I did an experiment!) everything would always be in it's place and we would be much happier.  Happier?  Yep!  Scientific fact that people get depressed when stressed, worried and preoccupied with things that are piling up that need taken care of and sometimes that depression actually immobilizes us from taking action. Can you say never ending vicious circle!?!

So go right now to your local bookstore and get this title.  Don't have a bookstore? Order it from Amazon!  It would also make a great Christmas or Chanukah gift for that person who always wants to do something like this but just never follows through.  Have him or her do it along with us!

I'm going to start right after Christmas so that I can post on how I did the first week of January.  I'll do this book very much like the other one if you're following along on that.  I'll post the main ideas for the week from the book then I'll tell you how I did.  Then you will have that week to do that activity in your house and we can compare notes!

As soon as you get your copy, go ahead and read the introduction.  Oh and don't worry if you can't start the very first week of January.  Just read the intro when you're ready and pick up with us.  If it's further into the year, read the intro and January and February just to get a feel for what's going on, then pick up with whatever week it is.

I'm really excited to be doing this book.  It really was written for someone with my kind of personality I think.  Small activities that are easily accomplished!  So many times I think about all that I have to do and then just turn on the TV to forget about it!  Yes, on some things I am extremely organized, but I've got my piles and closets!  And don't say I'm too busy!!  My friends who use that excuse are also following about 8-9 different TV shows every week and go out to movies.  If you have that kind of time, you have more than enough for this!  Some things only take a matter of minutes and some things only need part of a Saturday afternoon.  Come on....let's so this!! Time to take charge of our lives and finally get on top of all the "stuff" holding us back.  Who's with me ?!???!????

Until Next Time.....

Friday, December 9, 2011

Crock Pot Mashed Potatoes


5 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters or smaller cubes
1-1/2 C chicken broth
1/4 C butter, cut into chunks
1 C sour cream
2 tsp (or more!) Lawry's Garlic Salt
pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 C milk, warmed

in 5-6 qt crock pot, place potatoes, broth and butter
cover and cook on high 4 hours or low 8 hours (less if your pot runs hot)
add rest of ingredients, except milk and mash
(place in large mixing bowl if using hand mixer)
add milk as needed for desired consistency
cover and keep on warm until serving up to 2 hours
stir before serving

Until Next Time.....

Thursday, December 8, 2011

$8 or Less Recipe - Tex Mex Burgers

1 lb ground beef
2 Tblsp diced green chilies
1/2 C crushed tortilla chips
1/4 C shredded onion
1/4 tsp cayenne or cumin
4 slices pepper jack cheese
salsa, sour cream, guacamole for serving
4 hamburger buns

Combine first 5 ingredients by hand in large bowl, be sure to incorporate well
shape into 4 patties
grill or fry as well done as you like (165 degrees for safe food!)
place cheese to melt just before removing from heat
top with desired condiments

depending on how many toppings you use, this recipe runs around $6.00 or less

I got this pic from the I could take that good of a picture!

Until Next Time.....

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Shipping Gifts

When shipping gifts, especially fragile ones, instead of packing peanuts, try rolled up sections of the newspaper.  These rolls act as cushions when the box gets thrown around and keeps the gift from ever coming into contact with the outside of the box which can get other boxes smashed up against it in the shipping process.

Wads of paper work for less fragile gifts, but depending on how thick you make the wad, they can get flattened out with a lot of jostling.  The rolls are a little more durable.

Plus, it's always fun to read a newspaper from a different part of the country....or world!

Until Next Time.....

The Proverbs 31 Wife - Week Eleven

Question #11: Have you ever done anything out of your element?  What was it and how did you feel after you did it?

I have done a lot of things out of my element this year....retired, volunteered for things at church, went to a retirement at the Pentagon, but most of all....THIS!  That's right not only am I blogging which I never thought I would do, but I'm putting my marriage out there for all to see.  I'm telling perfect strangers about the mistakes I've made to hopefully help them avoid those things.  That's one reason anyway.  Mostly it's to keep me accountable, because yes, while most of you are strangers and it would be easy to say I do everything right and so should you, I really want to be honest about this to improve my marriage.  Not that it is bad, I just believe that there is always room for improvement.  If there weren't we'd already be in Heaven!

How does it feel?  Some weeks are better than others, let me tell you!  I didn't feel very good about myself the week I told you about saying not very nice things to my husband, BUT it made me more aware of what I say.  But while I'm being perfectly honest, I'll say that it felt pretty good to see when I was doing something right....or at least better than I used to.

So, a new year is coming up.  How 'bout you do something out of your element?!  Pick something and go for it!!  Then come back and tell us how it went.

Until Next Time.....

Monday, December 5, 2011

Closet Organization

So I forget who said it (Stacey London?) but, "Dress for who you are now!"  I really, really didn't want to hear this.  So I, like quite a few women I know, had clothes hanging in 3 different closets throughout the house, but the amount of clothes that actually fit me, are in the pic above!  I got ruthless about cleaning out my closet one weekend.

As this is posting in December you might be thinking, you want me to clean out a closet when I've got Christmas or Chanukah to worry about?  Yes, especially if you're having house guests so your closets aren't all cluttered, and because you will feel better about yourself.  We all know there can be a lot of holiday guilt about many things floating around.  I don't have time to go into how you've got no reason to be feeling guilty, but anyway, yes do it now and you'll feel great!  But save the things you're getting rid of in bins if you are planning to have a yard sale this spring....more about that later....or if you want a last minute tax deduction, get those donations into Goodwill this month.

Here's what I did.  I took everything out and laid it on the bed.  That way I was forced to finish.  I put like things in piles.  All the tanks here, all the pants there, etc.  Then if you're not sure, start trying things on.  If it's really close to fitting, put it in a maybe pile.  If it fits and you still like it AND have something that goes with it, hang it back in the closet.  If it doesn't fit, put it in the bin for later or mark it on the list for Goodwill and put it in a bag.

Now grab the maybe pile.  Ask yourself the hard questions.  Have I been trying to lose 10 pounds for a year now and not getting anywhere....give it away!  Or I'm only 2 pounds from my goal weight and this is slightly snug, but I love it and know I'll wear it again soon.....maybe keep it.  I really love this, but it doesn't go with anything I have, and I would have to buy something just to have one single thing it goes with.....get rid of it!  You get the picture.

This sounds like a ton of work, but with the right mindset, you'll fly right through it, and trust me, if you're honest with yourself, you will feel so much better when you are done.  Not to mention gain some closet space!

Then when hanging stuff, keep like things together.  I go tanks, to short sleeve, to long sleeve, to pants that way all the short things are hanging next to each other so I have more space underneath of them. This pic is bothering me because I forgot to move my sweaters do as I say not as I photograph!

More about organization coming soon....and I'm really excited about it.

Until Next Time.....

Friday, December 2, 2011

Crock Pot Coq Au Vin (with variation)

1 fryer chicken cut into 8 serving pieces (or equiv. of bone in pieces)
1 Tblsp olive oil
1 med onion sliced (or 1 c pearl onions)
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp thyme
1 1/4 c (10 oz) chicken broth
1 c burgundy wine (or more chicken broth)
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
optional 10-12 very small new red potatoes with skin

optional: brown chicken pieces in oil
spray 5-6 qt crock pot
place onions, mushrooms, garlic and thyme in crock pot
add chicken, potatoes if using, broth (add all broth if not using wine), bacon and salt and pepper to taste
cover and cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours
at the start of the last hour, if on low, turn heat to high and add wine

serve over buttered noodles


instead of chicken, use 2 pork tenderloins equaling about 3 lbs
follow recipe as above
serve over mashed potatoes


Until Next Time.....

Thursday, December 1, 2011

$8 or Less Recipe - Hash Brown Pizza

  • to make this vegetarian, use soy crumbles or replace with vegetables

  • 3 med potatoes shredded 
  • 1 can cream of potato soup 
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 med onion, chopped
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 Tblsp tomato paste
  • 4 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 c shredded mozzarella cheese (or colby-jack)

  • Preheat oven to 400
  • In a large bowl, combine the hash browns and soup 
  • Spread into a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan (or eyeball it for whatever pan you have)
  • Bake for 30 minutes
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the beef, celery and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are tender; drain
  • Add the tomato sauce, paste, mushrooms, chili powder, salt, garlic powder and pepper
  • Remove potatoes from oven
  • Spread over the crust
  • Sprinkle with cheese
  • Bake 10 minutes longer or until the cheese is melted

  • This recipe can run around $7.50 depending on the ingredients you choose and if you get them on sale.

Until Next Time.....

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Proverbs 31 Wife - Week Ten

Question #10: How are your and your husband's personalities different?  The same?  How do they complement each other?

Well, it really goes without saying that the old adage "opposites attract" is pretty true.  I wonder why though?  Are we looking for something in another person that we know or subconsciously are aware that we are lacking?  More likely God programmed that into us to find the soulmate that completes us.

My husband and I are probably like a lot of you out there.  I'm pretty neat, he's not.  I get riled up, and he's laid back.  I tend to like shopping, he'd be happy to never do it.  And the truth is, I need that.  OK, not the slob part....although he really has improved.  But I need the calm person when I'm going crazy and I need the penny pincher when I want to buy something for every person I know.  So that would be the different part, AND the complement part.

The same?  First and foremost, in the most important way, we are both followers of Christ.  Not having that is going to put a huge strain on your marriage.  In other ways: we like mostly the same kind of music, we like some of the same TV shows, he doesn't watch sports (I know! How awesome is that?!) we like to do some of the same activities, and we're both homebodies for the most part.

Without getting too personal, there are a lot of reasons that he and I see why God brought the two of us together.  And isn't it so cool the way HE does that?  My husband and I are both from different cities from where we live now, yet we met church!  We both have the exact same view on children which is an issue I have seen tear couples apart, and a whole lot more.  God is so good.

Is our marriage perfect....of course not, I don't believe there is one perfect marriage out there.  But it's pretty darn close in my opinion!  Would our marriage be a perfect thing to copy for other couples? Nope.....God made this one just for us.

So next time you complain to your mother or girlfriend about your husband's bad habits, think first.  Is this a difference that really helps us if I weren't being selfish?  Or is it something worth discussing.  Sometimes it gotta have communication!  This question (#10 above) is also a great conversation starter with your spouse....give it a shot.  Let me know how it goes!

Until Next Time.....

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Price Comparison Chart

Use a price comparison chart similar to this one to save time and money while grocery shopping.

I keep my coupons in a three ring binder.  If you use something similar it's also best to pair that with using a price comparison chart.  Write down the best deals you see on the things you buy the most at the different stores in which you shop.  Then when you need these items and they are not on sale you'll know where to go for the best deal.  OR, if you are shopping at one store and they are having an unadvertised sale you can see if it would be worth it to you to pick up a few extra if it's cheaper than the best price on your chart.

This will take a little up front work if you have never done anything like this before, and it may take a few weeks to get in place.  It's also important to update it as you shop, so be sure to do it in pencil!

Until Next Time.....

Monday, November 28, 2011

Laundry Tips

Who likes to do the laundry?  Actually I kind of do, and I don't mind hanging and folding all that much.  But for some reason I really don't like putting it away...weird, I know!

Here are just a few ideas to save time and money while doing the laundry.

  • Schedule it! Yep, that's what I said.  I treat taking care of my home as if it were my day job...which it is.  Meaning I get all my work done during the day.  And to do that and not get completely worn out, I schedule in my tasks.  Even if you work outside of the home this would be a good idea.  Do a little everyday so it's not overwhelming.  So Friday's are laundry days.  I do one load right after the other until it's done.  Some people recommend doing one load whenever you have the chance, but unless you have a lot of people or a lot of baby clothes this is actually inefficient BECAUSE what tends to happen?  You try to squeeze in a load then you forget it's there.  If it's left in the washer it now smells mildewy and you have to do it again, and if it's left in the dryer it's all wrinkly and you'll have to run it again or iron...YIKES!! (I do not iron!!!)  Plus it will feel like a never ending job and I've seen people actually get very depressed.  Not good!
  • Do the loads in a certain order.  For example, I do colors in cold, then Darks in cold (darks second in case anything really dark like indigo jeans might leave behind a little ink in the wash tub) then comes the sheets in warm, and end with the whites in hot so that the last thing in the washer for the week is bleachy hot water, cleaning it out.
  • Have a separate basket for clean and dirty laundry.  I actually have 3 bins for colors, darks, and whites, then 1 basket that I put the clean clothes in when they come out of the dryer.  I know people that use the same basket to take their dirty clothes to the washer that they then put the clean ones in.  Take a look, and a whiff, of your dirty basket.  Do you really want your clean clothes in there?  Some of my husband's clothes smell like gas and have bits of grass and dirt on them that fall into the basket.  I don't want my clean undies touching that!
  • Take your clothes out of the dryer immediately.  How do you think I avoid ironing?
  • Leave the washer lid open after the last load of clothes.  For me this is the whites, so while they are in the dryer, I leave the washer lid open to air and dry it out.
  • YOU CAN PROBABLY USE HALF OF THE AMOUNT OF PRODUCT. Especially for fabric softener, both liquid and sheets.  I use 1/2 to 1/3 of the liquid softener it actually calls for and it's plenty.  I have the kind of machine where I can put it in at the start of the load.  I then put a capful or two of water in with it to dilute.  Some liquid fabric softeners can actually stain your clothes.  If you use dryer sheets, cut them in half.  I can get away with that for most of the year except deep winter.  There is a lot of static electricity in our house and it takes the whole sheet to not get continually zapped while trying to fold.
  • Use baking soda.  Add 1/2 to 1 cup of baking soda to the wash to make clothes whiter and brighter.
  • Think your bottle of detergent is empty? Probably not.  With the type of spouts they use you can get anywhere from 2-3 more loads out of them.  Turn the bottle upside down to let it drain. Be careful when opening.  This can get you 1-2 loads.  Then the next time, hold it under the water as it comes into the washer.  Put the cap back on and swish hard.  You might need to do this twice.  There's another load.
  • I have been told that fabric softener makes towels less absorbent.  If you don't want to use it on your towels throw in 2-3 clean tennis balls.  They will soften the towels without any chemicals.  I have never tried this on clothes....might be worth a shot.
  • And, of course, multi task!  Since I do one load right after the other, I use the time they are in the machines to take care of other tasks.  Vacuum, clean the kitchen, do research for the blog, cook, etc.  If you work outside the home, you could break your laundry into two evenings, unless you stay up later than I do and can get it all done while cooking dinner, making ahead lunches, paying bills, etc.  When I worked, Saturday morning was my laundry day.  I got up just as early as I did on a weekday (you should always try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day) and did one load after the other while cleaning and planning for the week ahead, then I had the rest of the weekend available for my family.
These are just a few ideas, and are just my opinion.  Some people think I'm crazy and some people have converted!  I bet you have some pretty good ideas too.  Leave a comment here or on the FB page to share your great idea with us.

Until Next Time.....

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sicilian Chicken Soup - 2 ways

Stove top and Crock Pot Methods
This is my copy cat version of Carrabba's  chicken soup

1 rotisserie chicken, shredded (or 2-3 C cooked and shredded chicken or turkey)
1 Tblsp olive oil
1 14oz can petite diced tomatoes (Red Gold!)
2 4oz cans chopped green chilies
8 C chicken broth or stock (64 ozs, 2 32 oz cartons)
3 med potatoes peeled and diced (try Yukon Gold)
4 med carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 -3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c chopped parsley optional
salt and pepper to taste, try white pepper
small pasta like Ditalini, uncooked

Heat oil over medium heat in stock or soup pot
add onions and saute until clear
add garlic and saute another minute
(I like to add carrots and celery here and sauté for a couple minutes)
pour in 4 cups chicken broth or stock (32 oz)
add carrots, celery (if you haven't already) and potatoes
on high heat bring soup to a boil
reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until vegetables are very tender about 45 minutes
add tomatoes
remove from heat and slightly mash vegetables into broth
soup should stay a little chunky
add chilies, parsley and remaining broth
add seasonings
bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium
add chicken or turkey and cook 15-20 more minutes
if adding pasta, add last 8-10 minutes before serving

Crock Pot:
place all ingredients in 6-7 qt crock pot, except pasta
cover and cook on low 8 hours
remove lid and slightly mash vegetables into soup
add pasta and cook additional 20 minutes or until pasta reaches desired tenderness

Until Next Time.....

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Leftovers

What a great Turkey!  But now what do I do with all these leftovers so that they don't go to waste, yet I don't get bored with the turkey?  Here are just a few ideas.  Also, if you have any recipes that call for cooked chicken, you can always substitute turkey....unless you smoked it!  Last time I let my husband smoke a turkey then he wanted pot pie.  YUCK!!!!!

*CP* = can be made in the Crock Pot

Chicken Hash (with turkey, obviously)

Easy Chicken (turkey) Enchiladas (warm up turkey a little first)

$8 or Less Recipe - Turkey Cassoulet 2 ways

1 lb cooked turkey - about 2-3 cups
1 15 oz can great Northern beans, or pinto, drained
1 small onion chopped
3 carrots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c chicken broth
1 6oz can tomato paste (Red Gold!)
2 slices bacon
1 c water
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried marjoram

optional: crushed cracker or bread crumb, parmesan, melted butter mixture as topping.

Stove top and oven:
In large saucepan, cook bacon until crisp, drain on paper towels then crumble
in bacon grease, cook onion and garlic until tender, stirring to loosen pan drippings
add everything except beans and turkey
cover and simmer 10 minutes or until all vegetables are tender
stir in beans and turkey
transfer to 3 qt casserole dish
bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly with topping if using

Crock pot:
cook bacon and crumble
place everything in 3-4 qt sprayed or lined crock pot
cover and cook on low 6-7 hours

This recipe comes in around $7.00 or a little more depending on how much you spent on your turkey.  You actually might have spent way less!

Until Next Time.....

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Proverbs 31 Wife - Week Nine

Question #9: Are there areas of your life you find yourself being selfish about? What are they?

Are you kidding me?  Now I really think it's time to call this experiment off!!  Yikes.  Well, a promise is a promise. *deep Breath*  here goes.....

Uh, yeah!  I am very selfish.  I want what I want when I want it.  And I think if we were all to be honest you would all agree.  NOT that we act it out....but it's what we want.  So what am I actually selfish about?  Here are a couple things.....

I have a bag of Chex Mix Muddy Buddies in the cabinet.  I do not let my husband have any!  They were kind of expensive and I shouldn't have bought them in the first place....although I did get them with a doubled coupon!  The bag is pretty small too.  My husband could eat the whole thing in one sitting.  This isn't something I would usually buy and I got it as a treat for myself.  I'm NOT sharing!  Now he loves peanut butter and the gracious thing to do would be to share with him when I get a few bites out.  I did that once.  I gave him a handful.  I get one handful and eat them one piece at a time and enjoy them.  He knocked back the whole fistful in less than a second.  No more for him!

The other area where I tend to be selfish is watching TV.  As you know I have some pain and fatigue issues, so once I'm worn out for the evening, I sit in my recliner with my feet up and scan the DVR.  I want to watch what I want to watch.  I love the channel Investigation Discovery....true crime!  Yeah, I don't know why but I do.  My husband, not so much.  He wants to watch things like Top Shot or anything to do with guns and their making.  He also likes, well, manly kind of shows....not sports so much, but Gold Rush, River Monsters, fishing shows....stuff like that.  I'm stuck in my chair for the evening so I want to pick.  And more often than not, he lets me.  That is starting to get to me.  He works hard all day long and he deserves a treat.  So we have gotten better at "it's your turn to pick a show".  But I still would rather watch my stuff!

I bet I do other things without even thinking about it.  My goal this week will be to be more observant of myself.  Where am I thinking of myself first?  Picking the best piece of pizza first?  Do I take up all the hot water?  Do I leave something for him like food or drink that's almost out, etc. Tomorrow is I giving thanks for my husband or am I taking his good nature for granted?  There's something to think about!  Let's try to do better....who's with me?!?!?!!!!!

Until Next Time.....