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October brings with it so many things that I truly love.   I love the cool weather and the colorful landscape.  I love the spices used, and I just love pumpkins!  This October I heard of “Crocktober Fest”. Using your Crock pot as much as possible through the month of October.  I have always loved finding a great recipe that can utilize this appliance, however I must admit, the crock pot has never had a good reputation in my mind.  I find the recipes filled with cream of’s and the meat funny textures and colors.  So here’s to the challenge!  I am always up for a new one!  I will try these recipes this month and see if my family can be satisfied with meals that come from this “too good to be true” cookery!

October Menu

Pioneer woman meatloaf and mashed potatoes, roasted broccoli and zucchini and Apple cream cheese bunt cake

Brown Sugar Balsamic Pork, leftover veggies

Healthy Mama BBQ chicken with carrots, sweet potatoes and zucchini

Cranberry Chicken

Drippy Italian Beef Sandwiches and Italian sausage soup

Cuan Pork Wraps

Chicken Caccitore

Smothered Pork Chops

Santa Fe Chicken

Jerk Chicken

Chicken and Dumplings

Homemade Pizza

Whole Roasted Chicken

5 layer brownie

Emeril’s beef stroganoff

Slow cooker encheladas

Orange Chicken

Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese

Red and White Chili

German Style beef roast

Italian Chicken

Meatball subs

Cashew chicken

Baked French Toast

Moroccan Chicken Stew

Ham and swiss stuffed shells

spinach and feta stuffed flank steak

So, by the end of the month we may love our new way of eating…..or never want to see the Slow Cooker again 😉

Happy Fall ya’ll

Every morning I begin with a cup of coffee with The Lord.  Soon after I run through my day and jot down the tasks that are the most urgent.  I love making this list, it gives my day direction.  I even add a few silly items that will be easy to check off, it makes me feel more productive! I do, however often abandon this list at some point in my day…and I’m ok with that.  That’s kinda how I fly.  This week in particular has been especially crazy.  We just came home from a wonderful vacation in the mountains as a family, and are preparing for our Sr High Connection Tour in one week.  So the list goes on and on…laundry, packing, cleaning, cooking, more packing, more cooking, gardening…and blueberries are in season on top of it all!  This is one of  those days when I could just pace around not even knowing where to start…so where did I find myself?  In the kitchen…making blueberry jam.  If you know me, if you understand me…if you “get” me, you know that I love to cook, I love to be “busy at home” and busy in the kitchen.  So, that is where I was…..dancing around the room with little ones who had their cheeks and fists stuffed with sweet berries.   There will always be a list of things that seem “urgent”….but I will only have the opportunity to kiss those sticky little cheeks for so long.  Soon school will start back up and the kiddos will be off leaning new things, and I will be at home (hopefully canning and freezing loads of stuff from the garden).  In those sweet times of coffee with The Lord, he has shown me the top priorities for my to-do’s for each and every day.

Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Psalm 127 2-4

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

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Ephesians 4:28-30

I Love this verse! It has revolutionized the way I have communicated.  I must say I have been around my fair share of negative folks, you know the ones who seem to be able to find the bad in any given situation and point it out to whomever will listen. Well, I decided I did not want to follow suit.  This verse pops into my head on several occasions.  Is what I am about to say wholesome….Is what is about to leave my lips going to benefit all of the people who are in ear shot of my words….Will it be helpful for building up others or breaking them down?

As you see here, I blog.  I also have a facebook account where I air many thoughts and randomness that comes to my mind.  Recently I have had some folks question the things I say on fb and my blog, so I must contemplate why…..why do I write about the things I do?  Well, when I look for things to read, weather it is a book, a blog or even an update on facebook…what is it I am looking for…encouragement..inspiration…something that will build me up according to my needs.   I enjoy sewing and crafting blogs, and many cooking blogs.    I also love reading about God.  What God is doing in the lives of others, Godly mothering, Godly homemaking, how to be a Godly wife, It builds me up and inspires me.  That is what I look for…

So, I guess I enjoy writing the things I choose because this is what God is doing in my life.  Sure, I have friends from far away places who want to be a part of my life and this is a great way to connect with them.  But I also write in hopes of inspiring others.   I hope that it helps a friend realize that if I can pull together enough energy to make a few batches of strawberry jam, so can she.  I hope that it inspires another woman to teach herself how to sew…or find a mentor to aid her in the process.  I hope that somehow, some way that God will use my thoughts to speak to others in a way only He can.

Now, this does not mean that my life here is perfect.  It does not mean that I never fall flat on my face and want to scream out and vent…but that would not benefit anyone.   I also in no way mean to make others feel inadequate, or like they are not doing enough.  The whole point in reading blogs is to find ideas, inspiration and encouragement.   I would love to see an end to the competitive nature we ladies have toward each other and begin to embrace each other and ourselves for who we are.  God has created us so unique…

So…here is the challenge to you…

Is what you are about to say “wholesome” ?

Are the things you are reading building you up?

It what you are posting on facebook  ” helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” ?

Just a thought….a “not so random thought from God”

I love the thought of having a garden.  I can just picture myself  in my flip flops and skirt ( a usual for me in the summer) with a pretty little apron in the kitchen thinking it would be lovely to have some fresh tomatoes to go with our dinner.  So I would head out to the back yard, Ice tea in hand, with a fun basket dangling from my arm to collect some tomatoes, peppers, and maybe even some berries for that new recipe I have been meaning to try.

I found myself in the garden today.  Plating our first garden ever.  I may have picked the hottest day to plant, but it did have a great breeze to go with the heat.  Well, maybe it was more of a gusty wind than a breeze.  Anyway, I set out to begin planting several different vegetables that I bought  in pretty little rows.  If you know anything about gardening, you know how much work they are.  I have never done a garden.

My first issue was with the hose.  We were recently given one of those long hoses wound up inside a neat little box, which is lovely when working properly.  Today, however it was not working properly for me.  My next issue was with the Preen, you know the stuff you put down around the plants to keep the weeds from coming up.  That lovely gusty wind kept taking my preen and whipping it around like a little flag in the hand of a two year old on the 4th of July.  After coaxing the kids into letting me take the sprinkler from them so I could wet down my hair once again to cool off, I managed to get 3/4 of a row of marigolds and tomatoes in by the time my hubby came home from.

He fixed the hose, and came over to survey any needs that I may have in my joyous venture.  He quickly pulled all the kiddos in to help plant the entire garden before the rain came at dinner time.  Before they stepped in to help I was wondering what I had gotten myself into.  I didn’t even have a clue what I was doing, let alone how I would keep it all alive.  ( I am still working on the whole “keeping it alive” thing).   At the pace I was going it would have taken me all summer just to plant the garden, no sweet  tea in hand.   They once again reminded me of how truly blessed I am to have such a wonderful family who comes along side me in my weakness and encourages me daily.

I can’t help but think about the harvest that we as Christians desire.  We want so badly to attain that close relationship with God that will pour out of us in our everyday lives.  We want to radiate Christ to those around us.  We desire to feel His presence in our lives, and see Him at work around us.  But do we really want to do the work?  Do we want to spend the time that it takes to build that relationship with God that can then radiate through us to others?  Do we see the need to cultivate His truth into our everyday lives?   Do we see it as a priority to maintain, feed, water, and weed our spiritual lives?

The fact is that though my wonderful husband and children can come and help me with tasks such as planting a garden, they cannot put in the work for me in my relationship with The Lord.  We hear it all the time “Well my family has always gone to church”  as though that has any bearing on our spiritual health.  True, my family can come along side me and encourage me in my walk with God, they cannot do the “work” for me.  I need to be the one digging in the word and taking it all in.  I need to be the one spending time with The Lord, building my relationship with Him.  Yes it can seem like so much “work”, especially when we live in a society that focuses so much on spending our time in other arenas.  But the blessings we will receive are worth the sowing….when we then reap those blessings.

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!

This is a lovely dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Great for Christmas or Easter morning, or even a brunch.  I love to pair it with my freezer peaches, as the tartness of the peaches compliments the sweetness of this dish.  You do not need to use syrup with this French toast  however,  when we moved in last fall there was a gentleman who gave us some of his homemade maple syrup, so we use syrup.  Oh mama….I think I look for foods that I can drench in homemade maple syrup just to get another taste of that stuff.  ahh…anyway…

12-14 slices of cinnamon swirl bread

6T butter

1t vanilla

1  1/2C   half and half

1C milk

1/2t cinnamon

dash of nutmeg

4 eggs beaten

1C pecans, chopped

1/2C brown sugar

2T dark brown corn syrup

Butter a 9X13 pan

butter both sides of the bread and line the pan with the slices with 2 layers of bread

toss brown sugar with pecans and sprinkle over the bread

drizzle corn syrup over pecans

mix the rest of the ingredients together and pour over bread

let set 15 min at least

(you can freeze at this point)

Bake @350 for 45 min or till brown

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!

Pour me a fresh cup of Joe and open a window…Spring is here! Oh..the plans I have! I have kept a list of things I wanted to learn, develop or master once I was no longer working outside the home…..And here we are. It has been a long, drab, and well..rather depressing winter. When we moved in last fall we basically unpacked enough to get through Christmas. To be honest, creativity felt as though it had abandoned my soul. I had little energy and even less inspiration to be creative and crafty.
Then we unpacked the basement. Oh the loveliness that poured out of those boxes! Matt had a plan to create a little place for me to be creative. It is still a work in progress….but it is still lovely! And oh the plans I have. Gardening…sewing…gifts….uhhh.

Now for that list.  There are tasks that I have dreamed of being able to do.  Ones that have been pushed aside while Matt was a full time student and I was helping him as a Custodian.  I fancy the thought of helping him with the planning, and preparing.  I also fancy the thought of getting to that list of things I would love to get to…so I must go…and get to it!