Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Faith and Hope in the Garden

I started this post on May 25.  That's more than a month ago.  I was going to tell you what I planted in my garden and how it still, after all these years of planting gardens, requires a lot of faith to put those seeds into the ground.  But now?  It feels too late.  I mean, it's never too late to talk about faith, but you see, those seeds have sprouted and grown and now I've got bona fide veggies in my garden.  We've even been harvesting eating-straight-off-the-vine sugar snap peas for over a week now.

But you might find it inspirational, so, here goes...

I planted the rest of my garden last week.  I put some seeds in the ground a couple of weeks ago, but held off on the plants because of low temps.  Finally last week, the forecast lows were far enough away from freezing for the entire 10 day outlook that I felt OK putting the plants out there.  And then it rained.  Isn't that perfect?

My garden has moved this year, to a more sunny location.  I am so happy about this.  Hubby, who agreed to make the garden for me, expected me to want a huge plot.  But honestly, even though there is no reason to believe my garden will do poorly again this year, I couldn't stand the disappointment if we put a whole lot of effort into it and it still underproduced.  So I went small this year.  To see if it'll work the way I hope it will.

Which is not to say I didn't plant a lot.  I'm using Mel Bartholomew's square foot gardening method, which is a "revolutionary way to grow more in less space."  We'll see, Mr. Bartholomew.


Anyway, I have two 4x4 foot beds, and 3 pots.  That's it.  In one plot, I have 2 squares of sugar snap peas, 2 zucchini, 6 tomatoes (mostly roma, because they're better for canning), 4 green beans, and 2 squares of pickles.  Bubby wanted me to grow pickles, so I am.

In the other plot, I have spaghetti squash, honeydew melon, watermelon, pie pumpkins, 1 square of lettuce, with another to be planted in a couple of weeks, and 2 more squares of green beans.  I'm hoping the lettuce and green beans will be done producing before the squashes and melons take over the space.  In my pots, I have a grape tomato (Hubby and AKD like to grab these as they're passing on the riding mower), sugar snap peas plus lemon cucumbers, and carrots.


Already, the peas and beans are up.  It's so thrilling to see their little green heads bending up toward the sun.

By now you know how I feel about gardening.  It is nothing short of miraculous to be able to produce life from dried and shriveled and dead-looking seeds.  It takes tremendous faith to plant a garden, and seeing the evidence of life gives me hope.  It gets easier every year, but planting a garden remains an act of faith for me.
Pea Seeds
{Source}
It makes me wonder what other areas in my life I need to practice faith?  What dried up, dead-looking corners of my being can bring forth new life if nurtured and cared for?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Making hay

In the spirit of making hay while the sun shines, I spent some time last week raking up grass clippings with Bubby.

Now, before you ask, yes, we have a mulching blade on our lawn mower.  The grass is just being really ... prolific ... at this point in the summer, and our lawn boy is having trouble keeping up with it.  In addition, I can use the grass clippings in my garden to suppress weeds and in my compost bin to make nutrient-filled new soil.  Otherwise, I would not be raking grass, even if leaving it will kill the grass underneath.  Less grass = less grass to cut.

Three take-aways from this experience:

1. It is easier to rake grass with a leaf rake versus a garden rake.  I was actually kind of happy when Bubby decided he needed yet another break, which happened with increasing frequency throughout the task, because that meant I got to use the leaf rake for a few minutes.

2.  It would be even easier if our mower had a collector on it.

3.  Three acres is a lot of grass to rake.

In this part of the yard, we raked the grass into long fat "snakes"
Later on, the lawn boy drove the tractor along-side
to make it easy for us to load the grass into the trailer.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Menu Plan for the week of June 29

Hey y'all.  This weeks' menu plan isn't so much a menu plan as it's a we-are-missing-a-good-chunk-of-our-family-because-they're-at-Boy-Scout-camp-but-the-rest-of-us-still-need-to-eat plan.  Anyone else have a hard time planning meals when it's not for the whole family?  I find this so strange.  I mean, I had no trouble at all planning meals when it was just me and Hubby, and then I had no trouble as we added each member of the family.  But now that I'm cooking for 5 or more most of the time, when we have much less than that, I almost feel like it's not worth it to cook.

We will not be eating Jackolope this week.
We also did not eat jackolope when we were in South Dakota

This does not bode well for our empty nest years.

Fortunately, I'm aware of this issue, so I can begin preparing mentally for that eventuality.  Also fortunately, we have at least 11 years before our nest can achieve full empty.  Whew.  I think that might be enough time to get used to the idea of cooking for 2 again.

So we're going with convenient food this week.  Food that I know the two remaining boys in the house will eat.  You might notice it's a little heavy on the guacamole.  Also Mexican-type foods.  It's a little repetitive.  But everyone who's still here will eat.  Here's what we got:

Supper:
--Corn dogs (taco for me), green beans, strawberries
--Hot dogs (taco bean soup for me), broccoli/cauliflower/carrots, cherries
--Tacos with guacamole and taco fixings
--Hamburgers with or without buns, but guacamole is not optional, salad, carrots, applesauce
--Nachos with guacamole and fixings
--Grilled pizza, salad
--Grilled chicken, corn on the cob, salad, pineapple


Other:
--Greek yogurt
--Granola
--Cinnamon swirl bread
--Chicken salad

In the Bad Lands
I didn't think they were so bad, but I do see those French traders' point.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hello? I'm still here.

I have so many little things to do.  You know how that is, right?  Those little things that have to be done, but they're kind of easy to not do, too.  And then they pile up.  Yup.

Apparently there's this guy.  He's probably an expert or a professional. At something.  In any case, he sounds like he's a very productive person and he uses his time efficiently.  And he says, if whatever you have to do will take 2 minutes or less, you should do it.  Right then.  Instead of putting it off.  And I think that's great advice in general.  I mean, if you do it right away, it's done, and you don't have to waste any more mental energy thinking about how it needs to get done.

But here's my problem.  I have so many things to do that will take 2 minutes or less each.  But all added up together, they will take much longer than 2 minutes.  Like, for instance, I've been doing 2 minutes or less things pretty much all day.  I'd say...a good 2 hours' worth, at least.

Yeah.  It's discouraging, and a little overwhelming.  Give me a good 15 or 30 or 60 minute job any day, over seven or fourteen or twenty-eight 2 minute jobs.

AKD and I took a bike ride out to the beach
This is the only picture I took on our first trip!

The kids have been out of school since June 5, and I feel like our summer hasn't even started yet.  See, the day after the last day of school, we headed out for a 9 day trip to visit with my parents and Hubby's family.  Then we were home for 4 days, during which time we feverishly unpacked, did laundry, and repacked (there were also medical appointments, soccer, and physical training) before leaving for a 6 day visit (the other way) with my brother and his family.  

Upon our return home, we did the whole unpack, wash laundry, and repack thing again, this time in 2 days, to get 60% of the family ready to head off to Boy Scout camp. And silly me planned an excursion an hour and a half away during those 2 days to pick up my Zaycon chicken (referral link--sign up to support this blog and get great prices on meat).  And since we were driving all that way, we decided to make a day of it, with AKD and his buddy biking 22 miles, and the rest of us hanging at a water park.  So really, those 2 days were just 1 (and on that 1 day there were two medical appointments, physical training, and snacks shopping).

Somewhere in South Dakota.  What a great looking family.
Except that guy in the back looks like he's trying to hide...
Is it any wonder I have so many little things to do?  We haven't been home much, and when we have been home, we've been rushing around getting ready to leave again.

Whew!  So I say again, it feels like our summer hasn't even started yet.  And at the same time, it's 1/3 over--the kids go back to school on September 1.  Crazy stuff.

I wonder if I will feel like summer has started this week, or if I will need to wait until all the boys are home to feel that way.

Anyway, just wanted to check in and let you know I'm still here.  I know you know how it is.  Lots to do, limited time, limited brain space to devote to little tasks.  I know it'll all get done.  Or not.  And it'll be OK either way.

How's your summer going?

Our attempt at copying Mt. Rushmore.  Not too bad.
They're all looking approximately the right way, and the relative heights are right.
Perhaps I should have had them remove their hats and sunglasses?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Lego Storage Problem

It all started when, a couple of weeks ago, I decided I wanted to build a Lego dump truck.  From the instructions.


It was, in fact, this dump truck.

OK, let's back up.  It actually started many moons ago, when 5 year old AKD received his first Lego set.  I am a rule-follower.  An instruction-reader.  When it suits me, that is.  I am concerned with doing things the right way.  And I wanted to keep all of the Lego pieces from each individual set in their own individual containers.  So we could easily find all the pieces and build the sets again.

AKD is not so much of a rule follower, at least when it comes to Lego.  He preferred (still does) to build the set once, and then cannibalize that set to make exciting new creations.  I admire that about AKD.  I really do.  But it drives my inner compulsive neatener bonkers.

And so we ended up, many years, and 2 more children (one of whom prefers to keep his Lego creations together and the other of whom prefers to tear his apart to recombine in new and interesting ways), later with a HUGE bin full of almost every Lego piece that's ever made its way into our possession.

So, back to a couple of weeks ago.  I found the instructions for the dump truck.  It was a little dump truck, with not so many pieces, and I figured it would be pretty easy to find the pieces and put it together.

I was wrong.  So, so wrong.

I don't know how many Lego bricks we have, but it numbers in the thousands, maybe even tens of thousands.  And finding the one small black or gray or yellow piece that I needed among all of those thousands of Legos proved ... difficult.

Enough, I decided, and I set out right then and there to sort the bricks.  I recruited some helpers, and they were, shall we say, less than enthusiastic about the project.

So here's the deal with Lego.  There are too many ways to sort them.  You can sort by set (my preferred method, obviously, but that boat sailed a long time ago).  You can sort by color.  You can sort by piece type.  You can sort by color and piece type.  Too many categories.

We went with color.  Because it's the least ambiguous of the methods.  A piece is either black or not black, red or not red.  Except the pieces that are black and gray or yellow and black.

And now, we have this:


Isn't it beautiful?  A tower of bricks, neatly organized by color.*

And I still can't find all the pieces for my dump truck.

The rule-follower in me feels a little thrill every time I see the beautiful order my team and I brought to the cacophony of Lego.  The realistic mama in me realizes it's only a matter of time before this system fails, becoming, once more, a jumbled mess.

And, if I'm honest, I think my Lego builders find that jumbled mess to be infinitely more inspiring than my beautiful organized drawers.

How do you store your Lego?  Do you build them and keep them together?  Jumble all the pieces together?  Or do something in between?

* Wondering where I got this gorgeous unit?  It's actually two 6-drawer scrapbook paper organizers that I found on clearance at Target.  They're similar to this (I can't find this exact one online, which, you know, makes sense, considering they don't make it anymore).

Monday, June 8, 2015

Hubby likes ice cream

Hubby likes ice cream.

Yeah, I know.  Who doesn't?  But Hubby likes a very specific concoction of ice cream components.  At least twice a week, and sometimes every day in a week, at the end of the day you can find Hubby enjoying a bowl of vanilla ice cream with peanuts and chocolate syrup.  He likes this combination so much, he gets a little cranky if one of these essential ingredients is missing.

Several months ago, we were out of chocolate syrup.  I don't want Hubby to be cranky, so I decided to make some, using this recipe.

It was a hit!  Everyone liked it, and some of them even liked it better than store bought.  So I kept making it.

Here's what I store it in.


It's a nice container for dispensing chocolate syrup.  Much less messy than the mason jar I had been using.

This is what I store my lime juice in.


They're remarkably similar.  In fact, they are identical in shape and color.  The only difference is the label.  And the fact that one has chocolate syrup and the other has lime juice in it.  If one was not paying attention, one might accidentally mistake one for the other.

That would be a bummer.  And sour.


Not that that's ever happened, or anything.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

{Revised} Creamy Homemade Greek Yogurt

Lately, I've been loving this combo for breakfast:


A cup of homemade Greek yogurt with a splash of vanilla extract and sweetener to taste, topped with chopped fresh strawberries and homemade granola.  I just love the flavor and texture combination of creamy, protein-filled yogurt, sweet, anti-oxidant and fiber-rich berries, and crunchy whole grain and omega-3 filled granola.

As you know, my Crock Pot fell victim to inertia earlier this year, and I got a new slow cooker (which I will tell you about some time--love it).  My old Crock Pot cooked extremely hot.  I liked using it, because it meant I didn't need a whole lot of hands-on time to get supper on the table, but I also had to be careful not to let it overcook our food.  And if I let the cooker go for even the minimum time specified in slow cooker recipes, the food would be overcooked.  It was frustrating.

The way I understand it, sometime in the '90s, food safety experts were concerned that food cooked in slow cookers was not getting hot enough fast enough, which allowed bacteria to multiply in the food, making it unsafe to consume.  So around that time, slow cooker manufacturers started making their appliances cook hotter.  Now, they've come back around again and the newer models heat up quickly, but modulate their heat better.

This means that I no longer have to worry about overcooked food in my new slow cooker.  I am seriously thrilled about this.

This also means that my original Creamy Homemade Greek Yogurt recipe doesn't work so well, as written.  So here it is again, revised for any slow cooker, whether yours cooks hot or slow.

What are your favorite ways to use yogurt?

Creamy Homemade Greek Yogurt
(for any slow cooker)

Heat the milk: 
This step denatures the milk proteins, which helps the yogurt gel

Place 8 cups of milk in a slow cooker, cover, and cook until the temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit.  My slow cooker has a temperature probe, so it's super easy to know when it's hot enough.  In my old crock pot, it was around 2.5 hours on low.  In my new slow cooker, it takes about 2 hours on high.

Cool the milk: 

This step takes the milk down to a good temperature for the yogurt-making bacteria to thrive
Turn off the slow cooker and allow the milk to cool to around 110 degrees.  There are several ways to do this.  You can leave everything in place.  If you have a removable crock, you can take it out.  You can put your crock in an ice bath, like my brother does.  Removing the lid will speed the cooling process.   
The last time I made yogurt, I removed the lid from the crock and the crock from the heating unit and left the unit on warm so I could keep using the temperature probe to monitor the temperature of the milk.  

Add the bacteria: 
Scoop out a cup or two of the warmish milk, and whisk in 1/2 c. of active culture yogurt (buy a cup the first time, then save some of your homemade yogurt to use for subsequent batches).  Add the milk and yogurt mixture to the milk in the slow cooker.

Incubate: 
This is where the magic happens
Put the crock in a warm place for the bacteria to do their thing for about 8-12 hours.  I put my crock back into its heating unit (remember, it was still warm because I left it on while the milk was cooling), then wrapped the whole thing in a couple of bath towels.

{Optional} Strain the yogurt:
If you want Greek style yogurt, strain.  If not, just stir the whey (separated liquid) back into the yogurt.
Line a strainer or colander with a couple of layers of cheesecloth, a dish towel, or even paper towels--just make sure your paper towels are not "quilted" or you'll end up with little bits of paper in your yogurt.  Ask me how I know this.   
Dump the yogurt into the lined strainer and let it sit for an hour or two, until it reaches your desired consistency.

Enjoy your yogurt:
That's why we did this, right?
This recipe makes 2 quarts of regular yogurt or about 1 quart of Greek style yogurt, depending on how long you strain.  Your yogurt will stay good in the fridge for 7-10 days.  Don't forget to save some for your next batch--if you need a little more time between batches than 7-10 days, you can freeze it. 
Besides just eating it plain or with your favorite mix-ins, yogurt makes a great substitute for mayonnaise or sour cream in recipes.


Monday, June 1, 2015

The last gasp

Y'all, I'm making chocolate ice cream right now.

Because some space opened up in the freezer.  So I immediately had to fill it.  I really do have a problem.

And also, a couple of weeks ago I made chocolate frozen yogurt.  And then I remembered that I don't really like frozen yogurt, (although it was yummy, as far as froyo goes).  Whoops!  Silly me.  So of course, now I have to make chocolate ice cream.  Next, I'll be making this.  Because y'all know how I feel about peanut butter and chocolate in close proximity to each other.  Peanut butter and chocolate in the form of cold, creamy ice cream?  Heaven.

I don't have an ice cream maker, so in the past I've shied away from making ice cream, but it really is easy to make without one.  Just follow your recipe up until the step where you put it into the ice cream maker.  Instead, put it in the freezer.  Pull it out every now and then and give it a good stir to discourage the formation of large ice crystals.  When it reaches the consistency of soft serve ice cream, transfer it to a storage container.  Done.  Takes a little longer, but tastes just as good.

So yeah. one step forward, two steps back on this not-having-room-for-any-more-food thing.

It's the last week of school, and I am limping toward the finish line.  And/or being pulled along at break-neck speed.  It's the last gasp, and I really can't think beyond Friday right now.  But you know, since I know all one of you depends on my weekly menu plans to help feed your family, here's what I've got for ya.

Supper:

  • Fend for yourself
  • Chicken bundles (from the freezer)
  • Rice burgler (ground beef mixed with brown rice and mixed veggies)
  • Spaghetti/zucchini noodles with meat sauce
  • Pizza


Snacks/Other:



P.S. I am definitely not posting a menu plan for next week, and I doubt I'll get to it much this summer.  If all one of you who depends on my weekly menu plans gets desperate, feel free to check out all of my past menu plan posts--should be enough inspiration to last ya.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I have a problem

My kids' fav: Honey Bun
{Source}
Yesterday, my Goldfish crackers source sent me a message.

Taking orders for Goldfish BOGO free :-)

What?  You don't have a Goldfish source?

See, I used to be able to get Goldfish crackers for $1/bag.  They would go on sale for that price around here fairly regularly.  Now, the best price I can get is $1.67.  Regular price at my favorite grocery store is $2.39.  Two Thirty-Nine!!  Unacceptable.

So when Goldfish go on sale, my source always checks to see if I'm buying.  And she knows I'm always buying.  My kids love those things.  It's probably a good thing they don't go on sale around here anymore.

So in addition to the four boxes of Raisin Bran Crunch that I bought yesterday and that I have no room for (right now they're sitting on the floor in my bedroom closet), I've got 10 bags of Goldfish coming my way as well.

And I'm seriously contemplating buying more cereal this week.  That deal turned out to be even better than I thought, because the boxes of cereal I bought have free Redbox codes.

I definitely have a problem.

***********

Local friends, you might want to check this one out.

County Market:
Buy 4 boxes of Kellogg's cereal, priced 4/$10.  Look for the boxes with free Redbox codes.  I saw free codes on Raisin Bran Crunch, Raisin Bran, and Frosted Mini-Wheats
{Source}
Use 4 $1/1 Kellogg's cereal printable (when you redeem points)
If you don't have Kellogg's Family Rewards points, use 2 $1/2 printable coupons (you can print up to 2 of each of these):

Plus use $4/4 coupon from the ad or here (scroll down to the picture of a milk jug).  
Note--this coupon states: Buy Any Four (4) Kellogg's Cereals and SAVE $4.00 on any gallon milk, but the coupon will take off $4 regardless of the price of the milk.  It'll even work without the purchase of milk.  However, with all that cereal, you're going to need some milk, so why not?   :)   
Final price: as low as $0.50 each, plus four free Redbox codes (each worth $1.50) = better than free!


Monday, May 25, 2015

Menu plan for the week of...not sure on the date, but it's the second-to-last week of school

Y'all!  We have so much food in our house!  The fridge is full.  The freezer is full.  The other freezer is full.  The "pantry," which is really a closet in the hallway, but it's labeled "pantry" on the blueprints, so we'll pretend that's what it is, is full.  I know.  First world problems.  We are incredibly blessed to be able to eat whenever we want to.  But in an effort to reduce our abundant food stores, which have expanded to fit the available space and are threatening to invade unavailable space, this week I'm only buying produce, milk and orange juice.

And a few deals that are just so amazing I can't pass them up.

I know.  I have a problem.  I just can't help myself.  When I can get Raisin Bran Crunch for $0.50 a box, I'm going to do it, regardless of whether I have the space for it.

We have so much food, and yet, according to my kids, there's never anything to eat.  Hmmm. Wonder how that works.

In other news, it's the second-to-last week of school.  It snuck up on me again.  It happens every year, but somehow, every year, I'm surprised.

I am soooo not ready for summer.  And those teachers aren't doing nearly as good a job of keeping me distracted from the fact that I'm staring down 12 solid weeks of togetherness with my kiddos.  Love 'em.  But you know how they say absence makes the heart grow fonder?  Truth.

Anyway, even though I'm not buying much food this week, we will eat things, including...

Supper:
Zucchini Pasta Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing | In Johnna's Kitchen
Zucchini "pasta" salad with creamy avocado dressing from
In Johnna's Kitchen

 The Best Low-Carb Cauliflower Pizza Crust Recipe
The Best Low-Carb Cauliflower Pizza Crust from
Gimme Delicious Food

Other:

Monday, May 18, 2015

Menu plan for the week of May 18

I was going to say that it's getting to be the time of year where I start thinking about making meals that do not require heating up the oven.  But the weather has been so sporadic that it's hard to say one day to the next whether or not I'm going to want to have that extra heat in my kitchen.  Luckily, pretty much anything that cooks in the oven can be made on the grill or in a slow cooker (love mine!), so even though I'm planning some oven meals this week, they can be easily adapted to not heat up my house.

You'll notice I'm planning to make donuts this week.  That's because the 1st Friday in June is national donut day.  (OK, why does my spell-check think "donuts" is OK, but not "donut"?  Personally, I think doughnut is how it should be spelled, but popular American usage dictates that donut be used...) 

{Source}

You may have noticed that the 1st Friday in June does not occur during the week of May 18.

If you don't believe me, take a look at a calendar.  I'll wait.  Back?  OK.

So, considering that the 1st Friday in June is not this week, you may be wondering why I'm making donuts now (if you are not wondering why I am making donuts this week, you are my people).

The reason I'm making donuts this week is that the 1st Friday in June also happens to be the last day of school for my kiddos this year.  That week is going to be crazy busy, so I'm putting it on the schedule this week in the hope that I'll get to it in the next two weeks.  If you also want to make donuts for national donut day, but are feeling intimidated, try this super easy recipe.

We've got activities this week, sometimes needing to be in more than one place at once, but thankfully, they're all later in the evening, so I can cook like a normal person (if there is such a thing) this week.

Here's what's on the menu this week:

Supper:



Other:


What are you eating this week?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

This is how cheap I am: cute napkin edition

Little known fact: last year, one of my very favorite sisters in law gave me cute napkins every month.  She even matched the napkins to the month, which is actually kind of difficult to do for months like September and May.  

{Source}
This is why she's one of my favorites: she knows what makes me happy.  It's the little things.  These monthly gifts made me so happy that this year, I'm doing the same for someone else.  Only different.  I'm not sure if she's caught on yet, which also makes me happy :)

Pink-Tulips-Paper-3-Ply-Luncheon-Napkins
{Source}
Anyway, cute napkins.  Love them.  However, since there are usually 18 per package, cute napkins will last our family for less than 4 meals.  That makes me sad (it's a roller coaster of emotion when it comes to cute napkins over here).  So here's what I do.  I cut them in half.

I do!  I really do.  I unfold once, then cut along the fold, so instead of 4 squares of napkin, each person gets only 2.  I've found this is plenty for our family's needs.  Unless we have tacos, in which case this is plenty for 4/5 of our family's needs.  I'm good at many things, but eating tacos without getting them all over myself is not one of them.

{Source}
In this way, that package of cute napkins will last for at least 7 family meals.  

You might have noticed I said they will last for at least 7 family meals.  'Cause here's what else I do.

Summer Pool Party Luncheon Napkins
{Source}
If the napkins aren't used (which happens more frequently around our dinner table than it should), I put 'em back in the pile to be used for the next meal.  

I cut my paper napkins in half and I reuse them.  Yup, true confessions, here.  And just in case it makes you sad to use up the last of the cute napkins, a handy tip.  My public service for the day.
Soccer Luncheon Napkins : The Party Cupboard
{Source}

A slightly more well-known fact (because I posted it to facebook, which confused some people): that same one-of-my-favorites sister in law recently sent me rocks.  In the mail.

That's how I know she loves me.  Love her, too.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Menu plan for the week of May 11

I picked up my order from Zaycon Fresh on Saturday, which means I have almost 40 pounds of 93% lean ground beef in my freezer right now.  Accordingly, I'm going to be making big batches of spaghetti sauce and taco seasoned meat this week to put in the freezer.  Because really, if you're going to eat spaghetti 6 times (and, let me assure you, we will be eating spaghetti more than 6 times in the next several months), why make 6 messes when you can just make one?  It's not that much more work to just sextuple a recipe.

Of course, some of you would say, why make a mess at all, when you can use Ragu?  The answer?  Because homemade sauce tastes so much better.  And you're still making a mess with Ragu.  You have to heat it up.

Anyway, I've gotta tell ya, I'm super impressed with Zaycon Fresh so far.  In case you're not familiar, Zaycon Fresh offers a range of fresh foods (mostly meat) to over 1,200 locations nationwide, direct from the farmer, or as near direct as they can get it.  The "catch" is, they only sell by the case, so you're committing to 20-40 pounds of meat at a pop.  Oh, and you also have to pick up your meat from the back of a truck in a parking lot, which some people might find a little strange.  

The driver yesterday was very polite and efficient.  I didn't even have to get out of my car (I did get out, but I didn't need to)--I just drove through the cones set up near the truck, stopped, and popped the trunk.  The whole operation took less than a minute.  The ground beef seems to be good quality as well, and the price was excellent.  Oh, and the weight was accurate, which I can't always say about my grocery store meat.  Yes, I weighed my meat when I got it home.

If you want in on high quality meats for low prices, check it out.  Right now, Zaycon Fresh has 93% lean ground beef, boneless applewood smoked ham, bacon, pork sausage links, hamburger patties, and boneless skinless chicken breasts for sale.  I've already placed my chicken order for June.  Can't get much better than $1.69 a pound.

In the meantime, here's what's on the menu this week:

Supper:
chicken-fajita-quesadillas-4
Chicken Fajita Quesadillas from Jo Cooks
  • Chicken fajita quesadillas, roasted broccoli
  • Hot dogs & brats with buns, green stuff, grilled broccoli
  • Spaghetti or spaghetti squash with meat sauce, salad, green beans
  • Taco seasoned meat with tortillas and taco toppings
  • Pizza and cauliflower crust pizza (I'm making individual crusts and will freeze the extras), carrots, salad
  • Cub Scout year-end celebration 
  • Grilled bone-in chicken breasts, mashed potatoes, mixed veggies

Other:
Reese's Easy Freezer Friendly Oatmeal Cookies
Reese's Oatmeal Cookies from Mom on Timeout
What's on your menu this week?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Non-menu plan for the week of May 4

Well, y'all, it's starting to get busier.  Our spring sports have started up, and we're already getting the notices for end of the school year festivities.  That, coupled with some unplanned excitement over the weekend, has derailed my schedule, and I decided to go with a non-menu plan for this week.

I pick up our ground beef (from Zaycon Fresh*--check it out.  Very reasonable prices on high quality meats, for instance, boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.69/lb and 93/7 ground beef for $4.49/lb) on Saturday, so this week, I'll be using up as much of the freezer contents as I can to make room.

Zaycon Fresh

Said freezer contents, which may or may not make their way to our table this week, include chicken casserole with mashed potato topping, hot dogs and brats, taco seasoned beef/turkey, and bone-in chicken breasts.

I'm also hoping to make some kind of cookies, mini chocolate chip muffins, and chocolate frozen yogurt this week.  Yes, I know that I'm trying to make room in the freezer, and frozen yogurt will take up space in the freezer.  I just feel the need to make frozen yogurt, regardless of the consequences in the freezer-space arena.  Since my schedule has been derailed, it might not happen anyway.

My friends, it is possible that this is the beginning of sporadic summer menu-plan posts.  I was hoping to be consistent until much closer to the end of school, but this might be it.  Consider this fair warning.

What's on your menu this week?

*Referral link.  If you sign up through this link, and then order something, I will get a small credit to use on my next order, at no extra charge to you.  Thanks for supporting this site!
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