Home > Archive: January, 2014

Archive for January, 2014

Snow Day #4 -- Tidying up around the house

January 28th, 2014 at 08:10 pm

School was called off today because of the cold temps. Someone posted on Facebook that the Farmer's Almanac is calling for 40 inches of snow in February. Not sure if that is true, but if the book says it, I hope it is wrong! That's a lot of snow! Yikes!

This morning was spent cleaning. I cleaned the bathrooms and wiped down the walls. I disinfected toothbrushes and door handles and washed rugs and towels.

This afternoon was tidying papers and cleaning up different spots. I did the coffee maker cleaning thing with vinegar and water and then more water. I need to scrub the pot and I'll be ready to put a filter, coffee, and water in it for tomorrow.

DH delivers books to a shut in once a month and he did that while I was cleaning. This afternoon he took some clothes to donate to the food pantry (they have a free clothing room) as well as egg cartons. They get large containers of eggs and need the cartons to use to give them away so we always save them. It's nice we can help out with something like that. It was on his way to the mall for his 4 mile walk. It is too cold to walk outside!

Judging from the comments on Facebook, my teacher friends are ready to return to work.

Lunch today was the leftover sloppy chicks. There isn't enough for DH's lunch another day so I'm going to add some tomato sauce and red beans for chili for my lunches this week. I fixed ham and beans yesterday for tonight's dinner so he will have leftovers of that for his lunch. I also need to brew tea for iced tea. We usually have 3 pitchers going. A few years back we used to meet some friends at a local sandwich/soup shop and when we would get ready to leave, the woman would always empty her glass of ice and take a glass of their tea home. I thought maybe it was because she liked the tea so well or the blend or something like that. Nope, she said it was too much trouble to brew tea at home so she would have it for a glass later. I tease DH that he is working me to death because I seem to make a lot of tea. We chuckle over it. We drink that with our meals...far more economical than soda and a lot healthier too!

Snow Day Number 3

January 27th, 2014 at 08:53 pm

School was called today due to the extreme temps. Although not a true "snow day", we are out.

My day has been spent getting caught up on all those little projects I have put off. We have to make up these days so it really isn't a "free" day.

I read a murder mystery that had some recipes. One was called a "hot dish" and I take it they call casseroles that in Minnesota. Is that true? Anyway, I am going to copy it down and see if we like it. If so, I will share it.

Since I'm staying in, I thought I could use the ham pieces we have in the freezer from Christmas and make ham and beans. It is bubbling away and will make a hearty meal tomorrow night, not to mention a cheap one. I made chicken broth Saturday night using bits and pieces from some chicken we had and some vegetables and herbs.

I didn't care for ham and beans growing up. In hindsight, I think it was because my mom didn't add anything but beans, water, and ham. I decided to revisit ham and beans this year with the huge amount of ham we had left and worked up my own recipe. I do the whole bean soaking thing ahead of time. Then, I saute some onion in a pot with canola oil, and then add the beans, chicken broth, and ham and let it simmer until the beans are soft and the broth has cooked down to what sort of looks like a gravy. I add cumin and tumeric to the cooking as well. Served with cornbread, it makes a hearty and easy meal. I can say, the flavorings do make the difference.

Busy and beat

January 20th, 2014 at 02:25 pm

Yesterday was a busy day. We went to church and afterwards came home and I fixed brunch. We buy sausage patties from an Amish bulk goods store and we don't eat them all at one meal. So, I thought instead of cooking them all, I would reserve a couple to add to my ground beef for meatloaf. After eating and cleaning up, we went to Walgreens to get a few things that were on sale. I have their card and I wonder if they notice we only buy stuff on sale.

Anyway, the rest of the day was spent working. I did housework and laundry. And I got a few of our meals ready for the week. Last night was sloppy chicks (sloppy joes made with ground chicken). The leftovers will be a couple of lunches for DH. I put beef and barley vegetable soup on the slow cooker for Monday's meal. This will give us leftovers for lunches. I also mixed up the meatloaf to bake off Tuesday night. I will add potatoes and a friend gave me some homegrown and canned green beans so we will have that. Saturday night we had a pork tenderloin roast so I used that to make pork stew. I was cutting up vegetables for the soup so I just chopped a few more. I checked the freezer and we still have frozen tilipia so that will also be a meal.

We had hit some thrift stores Saturday and found a few items for our booth. My only complaint is one store doesn't seem to wash their items so they were sticky and grimy. I spent some time washing everything. I usually wash everything anyway, but I hate it when it is filthy. I marked the items after this.

At Christmas time my church has a bazaar and we usually go to the luncheon to support the women's mission work. While there I perused the second chance room of donated items for sale. I found one of those mini Crockpots that you can take with you for lunch. It was brand new in the box for $7. I have used it 5 times already and it is handy. It keeps soup hot, but not scalding and sure beats waiting for a microwave. Hence, the reason I am making lots if soups so I have lunches.

I went to bed pretty beat last night. I am glad I have today off for a holiday to rest up. I have already fired up the slow cooker and am ready for another day.

Planning and Pancakes

January 19th, 2014 at 03:44 am

Another weekend has come and it means I had to plan meals and then plan the grocery lists. Thursdays around here before we hit the grocery on Friday are usually clean out the fridge type meals. Last Thursday I used some leftover sausage patties, eggs, and thought I would change things up and make pancakes. I tweaked a recipe I found. This supposedly makes 8 servings so I cut it in half, but it was a hit with DH.

Old fashioned pancakes
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 1/4 cups of buttermilk (made my own with milk ans vinegar)
1 egg
Cooking oil

Mix ingredients except cooking oil. Put oil in heated skilled and drop pancake mixture by desired size. I use a measuring cup and pour it in ...less than 1/4 of a cup for each, but go with what you want. Brown on both sides. I served with syrup and fruit as well as scrambled eggs and leftover sausage.

DH was a happy boy. Plus I used many of the items we had.

Someone on Friday asked me what we had for supper, I told them and they said it sounded good. The next comment was how did I know what we would have. I told them simply...planning.

I know from reading many blogs that thre is a lot of planning going on in other homes so I know I am not alone.

Article on spending more in 2014

January 16th, 2014 at 09:37 am

Since I cannot sleep, I was looking for some articles. The new year always has a plethora of articles on saving money.

This one states there are 5 ways stores can get you to spend more money. Some of them I've seen before, but all kind of interesting and worth a second look so I can be prepared. One of them talking about the flooring and shopping I thought a noisy shopping cart was a way to drive me nuts,

But, overall a quick read and another way to prepare for battle in the marketplace:

Turkey Tuesday

January 15th, 2014 at 02:11 am

Supper tonight was a turkey casserole made with leftover turkey, gravy, dressing, and creamed corn. Pretty tasty on a cold, winter night plus enough leftover for DH's lunch. Tomorrow night is the turkey soup I blogged about earlier.

Lunch today was potato soup I made with turkey broth and leftover mashed potatoes. I was repeatedly asked if it was homemade.

We celebrated my birthday last night with friends last night...a week and a day delayed due to the bad weather. Finances came up and it was mentioned how people don't get it on how to save money. I see it every day. And yet, the spending is always rationalized...I worked late, it is only a dollar, I deserve it...our friends said they are seeing the same thing. We discussed how few folks actually cook and how many eat out every day. We don't because it costs extra, but also, eating out no longer is special when you eat out all the time.

Prepping to Eat

January 12th, 2014 at 08:42 pm

Before Christmas a gal I work with did a staff invite to one of the hottest home parties in our area: you pay a set fee and attend the party and then when you get there you put together meals to stuff in your freezer so you have meals available. Supposedly you get ten meals at 5 servings each. The price is about $120.

I guess I'm an old prude, but it just doesn't appeal to me. I'm sure if you broke it down, the price isn't outrageous, but one is at the mercy of the host/hostess on what the chosen meals are. We don't like hot/spicy stuff and if that was on the agenda, that would be money wasted.

I'm all for free enterprise, but personally, I'm not paying someone to chop some vegetables and cut up meat and this sort of thing. And, I kind of wonder about the 5 servings, but alas, I'm a skeptic.

I have noticed quite a few sites popping up about cooking for a month or making stuff to put in jars. Someone posted this link on Facebook today and I did look at it and it looks like it has some possibilities:

First of all, I like the fact jars are used. I do use plastic bags, but I really prefer using glass. But, I'm also kind of liking so much isn't in the freezer. Right now my freezer is kind of full of chicken stock, tomato sauce, and turkey breasts.

Anyway, eating at home saves money and I'm sure my friends probably saved money by heating up some of the stuff they did at the party, that is, if they remember to fix it. But, do you cook for a month or make many freezer meals in advance?

A little this and that...

January 11th, 2014 at 10:53 pm

We actually saw a little sunshine today here in Central Illinois...after all the snow, frigid temps, high winds, and dreary was a welcome sight. We had some rain yesterday and although folks were complaining about it, it did make a bunch of the snow go away!

I was upset last night because I thought I lost my scarf. In the winter I keep one with me because cold air bothers my breathing and I often have it over my mouth and nose. I did find it...not only did the expense of replacing it bother me, I'm not sure I would find another. This one is kind of old and it does not contain any acrylic. My skin breaks out when I get around acrylic.

We went to the grocery store last night. DH had hit Aldi and got most of the items we needed there, but there were a few things we needed that Aldi didn't provide. I left in a bad mood. I know the Feds claim there is no inflation, but it seems like we get less and less each time we go to the grocery.

I wanted a new Crockpot to replace one I have. Read: want, not need. DH walks at the mall in bad weather and he found one he thought I wanted, but we weren't sure it was the right size. Maybe on new ones they list the size, but on mine which is kind of old, I could not find the size. He chose well. We went to Sears, bought it, and I used a rewards card and got another dollar and some change off of it as well. I guess what shocked me was this chain store is like a third smaller than it used to be. I knew they hadn't been handling clothes like they used to, but it was scary. I wonder if Sears will be another store filing for bankruptcy soon.

We hit some thrift stores today. It doesn't seem like they are putting much new things out. One in particular we know has a huge storeroom full of things because they take things in year round and keep things for when the specific season is upon us. Are any of you finding the same thing?

We did treat ourselves to brunch out. It was nice to get out and visit before we did our running around. I put a turkey breast in the Crockpot this morning and that will be supper with potatoes and a vegetable and some fruit for dessert. We will have something else with the leftover turkey...I like to think we get our money's worth. I usually make a casserole with stuffing and the leftover gravy. Someone mentioned to me the other day they made turkey soup so I might have to look into that as well.

Hot Pot Pleasures

January 7th, 2014 at 08:27 pm

Years and years ago when in college, I remember asking my mom for a hot pot. She found one on sale. I think I got it for Christmas or my birthday. Since they are so close together, it is hard telling.

I was covetous of this white metal electric pot before I received it. It barely held two teacups of hot water, but this magic little pot in the dorm room meant hot tea or hot chocolate or hot water for instant soup. And believe me, when I got one, it was well used by both my roommate and me.

Back when I was in school, we had pop machines (soda vending to those of you not from Central Illinois) and that was about it on our college campus. My snack cache' consisted of a jar of peanut butter and saltines and an air popcorn popper and popcorn. I didn't have a fridge so I couldn't have butter and didn't know about the salt with the artificial butter. Money was tight for me back then. My parents didn't have a lot either. So, having the pleasure of hot tea or instant hot chocolate was such a treat.

I believe I wore that hot pot out and by then I was out of school. I thought I wouldn't need one because I had a stove and tea kettle.

And there's some pleasure to having the tea kettle boil and whistle...but it isn't as efficient or economical as a hot pot.

So a few years ago when a store was going out of business I decided to buy a hot pot to use at home. I got quite a bit off of it and I bought a Rival because I have had such good luck with Rival Crockpots. This puppy has to be almost ten years old and I use it frequently.

I brew tea for iced tea quite a few times a week. I love a cup of hot tea so I often use it for that. When I need hot water for something, out comes the hot pot and it is pressed into service.

A friend gave us some hot chocolate mix and DH loves anything with chocolate. He shoveled around the mailbox and said he was really cold. I suggested a cup of hot chocolate and he was all for it. I return to work tomorrow and I told him how he could use the hot pot for hot chocolate himself. He was astounded it was that easy.

I love DH dearly, but he's not a mechanical type of guy. He can make toast and reheat in the microwave, but other than that, I'm not sure he feels comfortable with appliances. He was pleased the hot pot was as easy as putting in some water, plugging it in, waiting for the water to get hot, and unplug and use.

I do think it saves us money. I can't imagine buying already made iced tea. And although you can put tea bags in water and it makes tea, I do think brewed tea has a little different flavor. Plus, since it doesn't take a lot of power and time to heat water, I think it is more economical than using the stove. I know someone could say use the microwave, but I'm always unsure of heating water in the microwave. I either get it too hot or it isn't hot enough. But that's just me.

So, something as simple as a hot pot is such a pleasure. And I think I hear another cup of tea calling my name!

Baby, it's cold outside!

January 6th, 2014 at 09:16 pm

I live in Central Illinois. We had a snowstorm yesterday and like much of the country, we have extremely cold temperatures. Wind chills are in double digit negative numbers. Brrrr!

Friday night and Saturday were interesting in our city; people posted photos of the run at grocery stores. I guess many of them ran out of things on the shelves.

Yesterday was my birthday and we originally had planned on going out for pizza with some friends. We changed our plans with the blowing snow, cold temps, and terrible conditions. Since I had anticipated going out, I didn't purchase buns at Aldi for our normal Sunday night sloppy chicks. We had them, but I had no buns, so I baked bread yesterday. I baked small round loaves that after cooling, we sliced for buns. Not too bad and certainly pretty reasonable money wise. I did not plan on hitting the stores Friday night or Saturday just for a package of buns! We had been watching the weather and did our grocery shopping Thursday since I'm off from school.

I imagine most of you have stuff in reserve in your pantry and freezer. I know we do. We eventually would need to replenish some things, but DH was talking last night about how we didn't have to brave the craziness at the grocery stores. I like to find things on sale and stock up.

We are going to pay someone to plow out our driveway. I'm sorry, with over 8 inches of snow received, and then drifting, I am not going to shovel in weather with wind chills of -35. The hospital bill will be more than what we pay the guy to plow our driveway. Maybe that's a weird way of looking at it, but I know it will make me sick if I get out there with my asthma. DH has a little heart condition that we don't want to make worse so I don't want him out in it either plus he froze his lungs a couple of years ago and can't handle extreme cold like he used to.

Hope everyone is warm and safe.

Hearty meal on a cold night

January 3rd, 2014 at 12:29 am

Like much of the country, it is cold out there! Brrr!

We received 5 inches of snow over night and did shovel the driveway and sidewalk up to the front door. We did it in two stages. We went out and did half and then came in and warmed up and then went back out and finished. We didn't want to overdo it because neither of us are in the best of health.

Lunch today was leftover soup from Tuesday which was great the second time around, and sandwiches made from the turkey breast we had last night for supper. Tonight's supper was a casserole made with the remainder of the turkey. DH said it was a hearty meal on a cold night. I think he liked it. It was a recipe I came up with simply to use what I had on hand.

Turkey and macaroni

2 cups of elbow macaroni -- cooked according to package directions or however you like it, drained
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 Parmesan -- shredded
Leftover turkey -- I believe I had about a cup or so
Buttery crackers -- one sleeve
1 cup turkey gravy
1 tablespoon of cornstarch

After cooking the macaroni, drain and put to the side.

Heat up milk and melt cheeses. If it is still soupy, add the cornstarch to thicken. When it gets to the consistency you like, add turkey and macaroni and stir until coated. Add this mixture to a greased casserole dish.

Crush the crackers and add to the top.

Depending on the depth of your casserole dish, base your baking time to this -- if it is a less deep dish, bake at 350 for 30 minutes, covered. If it is deeper, add some time, but be sure it covered.

It was pretty tasty and I think adding different cheeses could change the flavor. We have enough leftover for another meal. If you don't have the gravy, I imagine you could subsititute cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup.

For lunch tomorrow we are having pork stew -- just love using those bits and pieces from the fridge and pantry to make a hearty, reasonably priced meal. It is simmering on the stove. I had turkey broth from last night's turkey, so I am using it. DH made a comment that I certainly got plenty of meals from one small turkey breast.

Stay warm!