Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hawaiian Sweet Rolls

Last week I made a pineapple cheese ball.  I saved the pineapple juice and decided to try this recipe from I Heart Eating.  I did not have quite enough juice so I added some water to get to the amount of liquid needed.  I also made these in my bread machine.  I basically just dumped everything in and turned in on the dough cycle. 

After the cycle ended I shaped the rolls and covered them to allow them to rise.  After a little over an hour, they were ready to bake.  I cooked them for 20 minutes and then covered them lightly with foil and baked another 10 minutes.  I was rewarded with very light, fluffy rolls.

This recipe is definitely a keeper.  It was delicious with half pineapple juice and half water.  I know it will be wonderful with the full amont of pineapple juice.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Menu Monday

Last week W and I picked a small basket of garden peas from the garden.  I shelled those, and we had them for lunch the following day.  It was the first time W had eaten fresh garden peas, and he is hooked. Those will be a regular part of our garden each year.

I followed last week's menu plan for the most part.  I did spend $20 on groceries in the middle of last week.  That was milk, potatoes, cream cheese, whipping cream, and a few other items.  I have $24 to spend this week. 

The Usual (AKA: pizza & salad)

Spaghetti & meatballs, breadsticks, salad - I have meatballs and breadsticks premade in the freezer so this will be a quick meal to put together.  More lettuce from the garden is on this week's menu.

Cubed steak, twice baked potatoes, vegetables from freezer - I have ordered a meat tenderizer from Amazon and am anxious to try it out.  I will use some of the potatoes I purchased last week to make twice baked potatoes including extras to put in the freezer.

Baked fish, Parmesan noodles, cole slaw - I have half a cabbage to use up.  We purchased fish fillets at Sam's Club.  Rather than use box pasta mixes I prefer to make my own.  Angel hair pasta, a bit of butter, garlic, and Parmesan cheese make a delicious side dish.

Sloppy joes and chips or fries - Sloppy joes are W's specialty.  I have pre-cooked ground meat in the freezer so this is another quick meal option.

Pork tenderloin, potatoes & milk, green beans - We have fresh potatoes ready to dig in the garden.  These new potatoes are delicious in a thickened milk sauce. 

Big salads - A lighter meal is needed after some of the heavier ones on the menu.  I will add shrimp or chicken to lettuce from the garden.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


We have an egg eater among our chickens.  I try to check the nests a couple of times a day to get the eggs before they are eaten.  This morning I picked up these two eggs.  The white egg in the back is a regular size egg.  It would be considered a large egg if purchased at the grocery store.  The egg in the front is super small.   It could be from a new layer or perhaps someone was having an off day.  It was a cute and unusual find nonetheless.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Menu Plan & Grocery Spending

Last week W and I did a big shopping trip at Sam's Club.  We stocked up on quite a few things.  It will save money in the long run, but it stretches the budget for the immediate future.  To compensate I am cutting back on my spending for the next few weeks.  I am giving myself a budget of $20 per week which is plenty given the amount of food I have on hand.  Some of the meals are from last week's menu.  W had a work meal, and we ate out while we were shopping.

I skipped regular grocery shopping last week and stopped in today to pick up the current sale items.  I purchased Vidalia onions, grape tomatoes, two bags of chips, three packages of cheese, and a pack of pork chops.  I spent a total of $16.  I think the pork chops were my best buy.  I got nearly 5 pounds for just $3.70 (markdown plus a coupon).

Here is the menu for the coming week:

Pork chops, rice & gravy, peas or something from the freezer - I am going to try cooking the brown rice in the crockpot.  I will choose some sort of vegetable from the freezer.

Taco salads - I need to make tortillas so will keep two for the shells for taco salads.  I will use lettuce from the garden and some of the grape tomatoes I purchased.  I have avocado in the freezer. 

Barbecue Sandwiches and chips - I never got around to cooking the Boston butt and will do that this week.

Chicken, hash brown casserole, and veggie of some sort - Another carryover from last week.  The vegetable will depend on what I can put my hands on first in the freezer.

Turkey burgers & fries - I have premade turkey burgers in the freezer that I mixed up a few weeks ago. 

Big salads - I will continue to make use of the fresh lettuce from the garden.  These will be topped with either ham or chicken as well as hard boiled eggs.

Pizza and salad - Are you tired of seeing this on my menu?  I guess I should start calling it "The Usual". 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Furry Friday

I just have one picture to share today.  Last night W and I came home from a long day of shopping.  He commented that JJ was seriously guarding the catnip.  I rushed in to get the camera.  JJ stayed perfectly still until I snapped the photo and then hopped down.

The catnip has really grown in the past week.  The sturdy wire cage allows the leaves to grow through so the cats can enjoy them.  It keeps the plants safe from the same cats.

It seems that only 50 percent of cats love catnip.  All three of ours love it.  A few of the neighbor cats visit occasionally as well.  The trait is inherited, but not all of our cats are rescued from near here.  I guess they are just lucky to have a home with catnip in the yard.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

A week or so ago some neighbors brought by oranges from their tree.  W is not a big fan of oranges by themselves.  I was eating up some of the other fruits in the house so the oranges ended up just sitting on the counter.

One day while I was cooking lunch, I decided to juice all of the oranges to keep from losing them.  It did take a few minutes, but I ended up with 3 cups of free, local, fresh orange juice.  That was a definite frugal doing.  I composted the remainder of the oranges and stored the juice in a glass jar.  That made for a no trash product as well. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Weekly Menu

Last week's menu worked out pretty well except that the end of the week temperatures were warmer than when I planned the menu.  The soup and chili meals were skipped.  It seems we might be done with those until fall.  I am trying a bit different approach this week.  I am going to serve lunch later and plan a more snacky supper.  I found last week that we were not very hungry at night.  I think having light but healthy snacks in the evening will be a better option.

Pizza & Salad - This is a regular menu item for us as W loves pizza.

Chicken, hash brown casserole, & peas - I am still working chicken into the menu.  I want to try a new hash brown casserole recipe.  W normally will not eat the hash brown casserole, but I think this whole foods version will be more to his liking.

Turkey pot pie - I found a container of pot pie filling in the freezer and also two pie crusts.  This will be a good but easy meal.

Spaghetti & meatballs, salad & breadsticks - I made meatballs and frozen them earlier.  I also have breadsticks in the freezer.  Salad from the garden will round out the meal.

Barbecue sandwiches & chips - I have a Boston butt in the freezer to cook in the crockpot this week.  I will end up with several meals worth of meat to freezer.

Chicken tenders and french fries - This will be an easy weekend meal.  I fixed up my homemade frozen chicken tenders last week so these can quickly be put in the oven along with frozen french fries.

Taco pasta and salad - We have plenty of ground venison in the freezer.  I may half this to minimize the leftovers.  I will use my homemade taco seasoning to keep the sodium levels in check.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Furry & Feathered Friday

This Furry Friday post covers the outside animals.  We have two new rabbits - girls who do not have names yet.  They are separated from the boys as we have no interest in being overrun with baby rabbits. 

The chickens love being able to free range, and we benefit with the wonderful eggs.  The yolks are so orange that cake batter is practically neon in color.   Some of the girls were afraid they were going to miss a treat and followed me into the chicken pen.

We leave the main door open so they can go in when they get tired and need a break.  Often in the evenings, they will go into their pens if they feel we are too slow with supper.

Of course they enjoy roaming around the yard, eating bugs, and just hanging out.

One of their favorite nesting areas is a shelf full of onions that dried up.  The funny looking egg in the center is a wooden egg, which encourages them to return to the nest.  If no eggs are left, they tend to move on.  This saves us from having an egg hunt every day.

Finally I wanted to share our newest chickens who are in the small brooder.  In another week we will move them to the nursery pen.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Spray Paint Makeover

I had two large pots that are in generally good condition - one more so than the other.  Still both were usable even if they did not look the best.  I needed to divide the ferns that were in them so I decided to paint the pots.  Here is the before.

I wanted to paint them both red.  As I finished spraying one, the can of paint quit working correctly.  Maybe W can get it going, but I wanted to finish the product.  I had a can of gray paint and used it on the second.  They are far from perfect but do look much better.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Garden Update - Part 2

In addition to the main garden, I still have some things in the greenhouse.  I usually spend at least a month trying to get everything out and into its proper place.  I keep potted plants and flowers in the greenhouse over the winter.  Between those and all of the vegetables, emptying the greenhouse is no easy task.

I still have a variety of pepper plants in the greenhouse that are not quite ready to be planted.

The large pineapple plants are simply too big for me to move.  I will have to wait for W's help.  The largest has a pineapple that should start ripening soon.  I also have two more plants that are just blooming.

My lemon tree is doing well and has one lovely (though small) lemon on it.

Now for the main garden.  The first row has cucumbers.

Row number 2 has a variety of tomatoes that I did not have room for in the raised bed.


We have four double rows of corn.  The seeds are just starting to sprout.

W wanted a row of jalapeno peppers in the garden so I planted extra seeds in the greenhouse.  They are growing very well.

We have a few rows of potatoes.  Last year's potato crop did not do well so I hope for better results this year.

Last year we grew lots of string beans.  This year we planted enough for fresh eating.

The final row has some cabbage plants which are beginning to head.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Garden Update - Part 1

I decided to break the garden update into two parts.  Today's post will share the raised bed and containers.  First up are the garden peas I planted at the end of December.  They are covered with both blooms and garden peas.


The second raised bed has 24 tomato plants, 4 tomatillo plants and basil.  I also planted marigold seeds down the middle, but those have not sprouted yet.


The third raised bed has head lettuces, leaf lettuce, and radishes.  I have carrot seeds planted as well, but those have not sprouted yet.

I planted all of my herbs aside from the basil in containers this year.  Pictured are the oregano and marjoram also with a pot of unsprouted parsley seeds.  I also have chives, sage, and dill. 

The cats have a container of catnip protected by a wire cage.  Otherwise it would take them less than a day to destroy it.  My cats love catnip!

I am growing peppers in buckets again this year.  I have three jalapeno plants left from last year.  They are still producing so I see no need to get rid of them.  I have some new ones along with bell and poblano pepper plants.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Weekly Menu

I am trying to get back (again) to planning a menu.  This time of year I tend to stay in the yard much too long.  Before I know it W and I are tired and hungry, and I have no plan for a meal.  I am sure there will be some leftovers from several days to help finish out the week.

Pizza & Salad - I broke down and bought some frozen pizzas on sale.  The salad will be made from fresh lettuce from the garden.

Pork & beans with hot dogs & au gratin potatoes - I make my own pork and beans from dried beans.  I have a few hot dogs in the freezer that need to be used.  I need to use up some potatoes as well.

Cheeseburgers & chips - An easy meal to put together with venison from the freezer and homemade buns. 

Roast, rice & gravy, peas - I will put the roast in the crockpot along with some homemade cream of mushroom soup.  I will cook a large batch of rice and freeze the leftovers.  The peas will be from the freezer.

Big salads with shrimp - With the lettuce producing well, we will be eating more salad.  I will add some popcorn shrimp from the freezer, sliced eggs, and sprouts to the garden lettuce.

Barbecue chicken, macaroni & cheese, butterbeans, deviled eggs - We have plenty of chicken in the freezer so I need to make a point to include it in the menu more often.  The macaroni & cheese and butterbeans are from the freezer.  Our chickens are laying well so eggs are a necessary menu item.

Potato cheese soup - This time of year the temperature fluctuates up and down so soup is still a menu possibility.  I have ham in the freezer that I will add to the soup.

Chili - A rainy day will be the perfect opportunity to use up the last container of chili from the freezer.  I will make a pan of cornbread to serve along with it.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Preserving - Pumpkin and Strawberries

It is hard to believe that I still had a pumpkin on my front porch in March.  I know.  I know.  That was really pushing it.  We had a really cold weekend, and I finally decided it was time to cook the pumpkin.  I baked it in the oven and scooped out the very bright flesh.  This pumpkin sat long enough to be pure sugar. 
Once it drained I divided it into two cup portions to put in the freezer.  It will become yummy pumpkin cinnamon rolls.
At the end of March I was gifted a flat of six pints of strawberries.  About a third were past saving, but I managed to salvage nearly 3.5 pounds. 
They were very ripe, and I decided they were perfect for dehydrating.  I was pleased with the outcome.  Dehydrating enhances the sweetness of everything.  Even bell pepper tastes like candy once it has been dehydrated.
They are a yummy snack, but I can also see using them in muffins or breads.  I did not have room in the freezer for 3.5 pounds of strawberries so this was a nice alternative.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Stocking the Freezer

March was a very busy month since I started teaching part-time at a local technical college.  I expected that it would be three or four classes a month.  Instead I was teaching three or four a week.  It will not be like that every month, and April is already starting out much calmer. 

I knew that I was going to be busier than normal so I decided to work on some freezer cooking at the very end of February.  First I focused on a few easy treats for W to take in his lunch.  One of his favorites is oatmeal cookies.  I made a double batch so I had plenty for a few weeks.

I also knew that I would need a quick but filling breakfast/morning snack.  I turned to the banana oat cookies, which are not really cookies.  They are packed with whole wheat flour, oatmeal, raisins, pecans, and banana so they are filling and fairly healthy. 

Finally I wanted a quick meal in the freezer that would be easy to put in the oven since most of my classes ended at lunchtime.  I am trying to get away from processed foods but wanted to keep the convenience.  I ended up making my own frozen chicken tenders.  A two pound package of chicken breasts cost around $4 at the grocery store.  I cut those up into pieces.  I dipped them in whole wheat flour with a bit of salt and pepper mixed in.  Then I dipped them into beaten eggs (free eggs from my chickens).  Finally I coated them with bread crumbs I made from the end pieces of my homemade bread.  These were spread out on a pan to freeze.

Once frozen I put them in a gallon freezer bag. I bake them at 420 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  The coated gives them a crunchy texture without being fried.  It was work to prepare them prior to freezing, but we have enjoyed several quick, healthy meals.  This was also much cheaper than buying the premade chicken tenders. 

Each of these items saved me from buying a costly and less healthy alternative.  A little advanced planning can pay off in more ways than one.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Surprise - Happy Birthday!

This is what is left of my birthday cake from my surprise birthday party at church last month.  The funny thing is that my birthday is nowhere near the month of March. 
I always make a birthday treat for the children in my church Bible class.  One of the mother's of two of my Bible class children wanted to do something special for my birthday only she got the month mixed up.  I loved it.  Since my birthday was actually months away, I was completely surprised.  That is the point of a surprise party though, right? 
It was a very sweet gesture, and I truly did not mind that it was not near my birthday.  To me that made it more special.  I will be celebrating two birthdays this year, but I am only adding one year to my age. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Yard Sale Finds

I had a busy March while I was away from blogging.  I hope to catch you up on what I have been doing the next few days.  March was the time for the annual Peaches to Beaches yard sale.  I had a specific list of items on my wish list.  I was surprised that I found most of them.  A filing cabinet was at the back of my mind, but W spotted a two drawer for just $5. A definite need was a four cup coffee maker to replace the one we have which is on its last legs (or drips).  I actually bought two for a grand total of $4.  I have had a food mill on my Amazon wish list for quite some time and was thrilled to find one in very good condition for just $1.

I needed some new shelf liners for the cabinets and typically use wallpaper.  I have not had any luck at the local thrift stores.  I found two very large rolls along the yard sale route for 25 cents each.  This will last me for several changes.
I did have a couple of impulse buys.  I found a picture frame that I loved which will be repainted and get a new mat.  I also bought an immersion blender.  I have one that works perfectly but could not pass up a new one still in the box for just $2.

My best find was a large white serving platter.  I had mentioned several times that this was at the top of my list.  I had looked at a new one with a price tag of $30.  At one of our stops I found one exactly like my dream platter marked at $7.  My dad, who loves to negotiate, bargained the seller down to $5.  I cannot wait to serve a Thanksgiving turkey on it this year.