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We did it! We ordered a quarter of a cow!  Zoe believes that this cow will live in our backyard, no matter how may times I explain to her that this cow will not be a cute little pet (though I do think she would be adorable walking her pet on a leash around the yard, with little cow girl boots and braids) In Zoeland she still has plans for her cow.  I too have plans for her cow.  Wonderful meals and loveliness!

Recently we were given a few pounds of ground beef from a friend who raises their own cattle.  After tasting and seeing the difference in the meat, I am just not sure I can ever go back to the normal ground beef that they sell in the store.  So, that pushed me over the edge of thinking some day we should but meat in the next step above bulk…just buy the whole thing!

I now have to make sure we have enough room for this purchase.  SO, I went through and did a freezer inventory and made my menu off of what we have in the freezer.  We have about a month before the cow arrives, so here is the list.  I will only have to buy breads and fresh produce to complete these meals.  I am excited to see what this will do for our food budget this month!

April Menu

1-Grilled Pork loin with green beans

2-Pecan Baked french toast

3-Pizza

4-BBQ Ribs with mashed potatoes

5-Easter Dinner: Ginger Peach glazed ham, loaded mashed potatoes, PW green bean casserole, Spring salad, dessert

6-Baked ravioli with meat sauce

7-Chicken Gyros

8-Grilled steak and steamed veggies

9-Chicken and dumplings

10-Ham and cheese stuffed shells

11-General Tso’s chicken

12- Marlboro Man’s fav sandwich

13- Bang Bang Chicken and Shrimp

14- Burgers on the grill with baked beans

15- Steph’s Chicken with Cheesy Potatoes

16- Beach BBQ

17-Beef and Bean Burritos

18-Steak and rice Pilaf

19-PW Sloppy Joes

20- Raging Garlic Stir fry

21- Baked french Toast

There you have it……nothing too fancy this month, but looking forward to stocking up our pantry with the money we will save by eating out of the freezer and getting the freezer ready.  I plan on using the PW’s pantry stock up list as a guide to stock our pantry…I will let you know how that goes!

Blessings

~Nicole

I think I may have a slight addiction to these!

In a small saucepan heat

1C corn syrup

1C white sugar

heat until sugar is dissolved

Add

1C peanut butter

stir until completely smooth

Pour over 6 C Crispex cereal

Pour into 9X13 pan and pat down to cover pan

Cool and eat…yum

I make many different versions of baked french toasts, but this one honestly tastes the best and is the easiest!

In a small saucepan combine

1 C  brown sugar

1 stick of butter

2 T corn syrup

bring to a simmer while stirring constantly

pour into greased 9X13 pan

top with 2 layers of cinnamon swirl bread ( you can use any kind of bread but I love it with cinnamon swirl)

then mix together

6 eggs

1 1/2 C milk

1t vanilla

1/4 t salt

pour over bread

You may cover and freeze this for up to 3 months

or

Bake 45-50 min at 350

This sweet and tangy BBQ Sauce was a regular in my home as a child. We slathered it on everything from chicken and pork chops to meatballs. I enjoy many varieties of BBQ sauces, White, chipolte, Sweet, smokey, but this one always reminds me of our family table growing up. Most recently I paired  it with chicken wings for a freezer meal…yum!

1 bottle Heinz ketchup (regular size)
1C brown sugar
1/4C yellow mustard
a few shakes of tabasco sauce
a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce

This is a “to taste” recipe….taste, add and taste again. Then slather and enjoy!

I have been asked by many to explain my grocery shopping strategy.  I have ignored these request simply because though it is easy in my mind to follow, it seems difficult to put into words.  So now here we are, and I will try to explain why I am often asked at the grocery store “Is that item on sale?” or “What are you going to do with all that half and half”.

Now to start off, I plan. I plan a menu monthly.  I try to plan meals that I know my family loves and throw in a few new recipes to try each week.  Second, I buy in bulk and freeze.  Now, I don’t mean that I buy 20lbs of chicken and throw it in my freezer as soon as I get home from the store.  I mean I buy 20lbs of chicken and when I get home (or soon after) I will portion it out and cover it in marinade, or make it into a fabulous meal and freeze it for later use.  The third thing I do is buy what is on sale in bulk.  Be careful when buying in bulk.  Look carefully at the labels and cost comparison.  I am amazed at how often I find that if I buy 3 bottles of bbq sauce instead of the 1 large bottle, I save a bundle.  I used to run from one store to another to find the best deals on items, but I found  that was more of a time waster than anything.  I  found that cutting large amounts of coupons was a waste of my time as well.  I tried the on-line program that helps you with your coupon strategy and I found that I would buy more things that I would have never bought without the coupon. I just kept thinking, “Well, I have never bought this before, but it is such a good deal..”  And, most of the coupons were for processed foods, which we try to keep to a minimum around here.  I do, however use the coupon I get at the checkout, and I just signed up for Mperks at Meijer.  That saved me 19.00 the other day!

So, today at Meijer, my cart held the following

5 boxes of cereal-I like to make cereal bars for my kiddos breakfasts

18 cans of cream of potato soup- for making 9 chicken pot pies

8 pie crusts, tops and bottoms- again for the pies ( I have crust for 1 pie at home)

8 loaves of cinnamon bread-for baked french toasts, they were on sale

3 large bottles of ketchup- for bbq chicken wings for my freezer cooking group, also on sale

fresh fruits and veggies

48 eggs

2 gallons milk

3 half gallons of half and half- for both the pot pies and french toast

You see I buy what is on sale, in bulk, to cook in bulk and stock the freezer.

I buy most of my meat from Sam’s club, off my list from menu planning.  I also check the  mark downs they will have on meat and if that is a good deal I will buy as much of the sale meat as possible.

Is any of this making sense?

So, this week I am making pot pies and baked french toast in bulk.  For dinner we will have meals that have been previously placed in the freezer,  a new recipe I chose to try this week,  and every week we have a pizza night.   I’m sure you can see how after a while, you build up a supply in the freezer and only have to cook a couple of meals a week to keep it up.

Now, every so often I go a little crazy.  I will do a full week of freezer cooking and stock the freezer full. This helps keep a good variety of meals to choose from.  I rarely ever cook only one of anything.  If I am making enchiladas, I will make at least 2 or 3 and freeze the excess. I could go on all day about this, so  if you want to know more about freezer cooking, attend one of my workshops.  It seems as though the ladies I speak to gain a lot of useful information.

I try not to buy things that are overly processed or pre-made, if I can do them myself.  It cost much less to make them at home, and then I can control the nutritional value of our meals better.

So, buy doing this “method” of grocery shopping, I am able to keep a very well stocked pantry and freezer.  For instance, if you were to take a gander in my canning/pantry room right now, you would find plenty of ingredients for bbq sauces, marinades, and other things we use often as I buy those items when they are on sale.  If you looked in my freezer, you see several meals that are completely ready to reheat and serve.  You would also find frozen veggies that we often eat, and meat that was purchased by the case ( at case pricing) or on sale and is portioned out for meals.

I hope you find this helpful…I am always amazed at the looks I get when I fill my cart with a seemingly unnecessary amount of strange items…but I assure you, there is a method to my maddness!

I make a menu plan every month, now we don’t ever follow it to the “T”, but it helps so much with keeping cost down, and minimizing waste.  Anything listed with an * next to it means it is in my freezer right now ready to go!  Hope this inspires you…

1~Ham and Cheese Baked Ziti *

2~Cam’s Ribs*, Twice Baked Potatoes*

3~Coconut Lime Chicken over rice*

4~Homemade Pizza

5~Grilled Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo with whole wheat Pasta

6~Sub Sandwiches, Christmas Salad

7~Chicken Gouda lasagna*

8~Sausage Biscuits and gravy*, Peaches*

9~Chicken Caccitore

10~Beach BBQ, Stuffed Red Skin Potatoes*

11~Homemade Spaghetti Sauce and Bubble Bread

12~Cam’s ribs*, Asian Chicken wing*s, potato skins

13~Beef Pot Roast with Veggies

14~Pork Loin Ragout*

15~Shanghai Stir Fr*y with Brown Rice

16~Prime Rib* Subs and Tossed Salad

17~Ham and Potatoes Au Gratin*

18~Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza

19~Chicken wings*, Philly Cheese Steak* Crostini

20~Ribs*, Slow Cooker Baked Potatoes

21~Chicken with Roasted Red Peppers, Jacksonville Carrots*

22~Southwestern Chicken Pot Pie*

23~Hot Subs, spinach Chicken Curry Salad

24~Pioneer Woman’s Sloppy Joes

25~Road Trip with HSY

26~Road Trip with HSY

27~Ginger~Peach Glazed Ham*, Cheesy Potatoes

28~Pioneer Woman’s Beef and Bean Burritos

There are some new recipes that I try and think “eh..maybe I would make it again”‘  Then there are times when it is a home run for all, or most I should say.  Gavin, he’s my pickiest eater of the bunch, even pickier that Matt.  However, tonight something strange happened.  I have been joining my “dear friend” in cooking through a slow cooker article from Midwest Living and I tried something fabulous.  It was so simple and easy I thought it would be a dud (because quite often lots of fuss= fab dinners!) Everyone loved this dish, and Gavin…well he asked for seconds.  He licked his plate clean not once, but twice!  So here it is, we will be adding it to our “Family Favorites” list…

2lbs of boneless skinless chicken breast

place in crock pot

then mix

1/4 C butter

1 pk dry Italian dressing mix

1 can cream of mushroom soup ( I know, I NEVER use this stuff, but trust me on this one!)

4oz cream cheese spread with chives and onions (I used Meijer brand)

1/2 cup chicken stock or broth

Mix it all up and pour over the chicken and let it cook 5-6 hours on high

Now, here is where my recipe says to serve it over rice or angel hair pasta, but the smell coming from my kitchen was screaming egg noodles!  Try it and see if you hear the same thing.

I cooked the egg noodles and mixed them in to the slow cooker and served with steamed green beans with sea salt.  Yum!

I have no idea why this is called Christmas Salad.  I asked the friend who gave it to me, and she had no idea why it was named Christmas Salad either.  It is a wonderful dressing for any day…and I suppose on Christmas as well.

Spring mix salad greens

mandarin orange segments, cut in half

red grapes, cut in half

candied pecans ( melt some sugar, add warm pecans, and spread out immediately)

dressing;

cider vinegar

vegetable oil

sugar

So sorry, I have yet to write down the measurements for the dressing.  It was given to me as a “to taste” thing.  I will update once I measure it out.

I have a friend who makes great salads.  She gave me this recipe and the next time I made it…she asked for the recipe!  The only difference is the cheese I used in the salad itself.  Here it is, and you can switch it up by changing the toppings and cheese.

1/2C vegitable oil

1/2 C sugar

1/2C white vinegar

1t dry mustard powder

1t dry onion

1t poppyseed

mix together and store in refrigerator

As for the salad itself, I like to use

Spring mix or another darker lettuce blend

sliced  fruit, such as pear, green apple, or fresh strawberries

dried cranberries, or dried cherries

chopped pecans

and a lovely cheese such as shaved asiago or feta

We love biscuits and gravy.  This savory dish will fill your home with the aroma of Thanksgiving day!  Most of my family loves these biscuits, but I will also make a few buttermilk biscuits to serve along with the gravy for a couple of my boys.

Please note, this recipe makes 24 servings. You can divide and freeze accordingly.

2, 6-7lb turkey breasts. Roasted, and cut into chunks

Then in a large stock pot (or in large pan over 2 burners) ;

melt 3/4C butter

then add

2lbs diced carrots

6 diced celery ribs

cook till tender, then add

2T garlic

24 minced fresh sage leaves

4t dried thyme

cook 5 min, then add

1 C flour, stir in to blend

add

10C turkey stock (canned or homemade)

2C white wine

salt and pepper to taste

simmer for 15 min. and add turkey chunks to the mixture.  Cook for another 15 min at a low simmer.

divide and freeze

Cornmeal Biscuit mix

makes 24

Using a food processor, mix together

4 1/2 C flour

1C plus 2T yellow cornmeal

2T baking powder

2 1/4 t baking soda

2 1/4t salt

4 1/2T sugar

1C plus 2T butter

place 1 1/2 C dry mix in freezer bag for 4 biscuits

freeze

When ready to use bring to room temp, and place in bowl. Add 6T buttermilk, stir to form a ball.  On a lightly floured surface, pat into a large square, cut into 4 squares.  Bake on cookie sheet and bake @400 for 15min.