Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mini Ham Loaves with Apricot Glaze, Gluten Free and Dairy Free

I have made this recipe for my family in the past and decided to give it a try again to use up some ground ham I had in my freezer.

3/4 cup soft bread crumbs (sub oatmeal)
1/2 cup milk (sub almond milk)
1/3 cup onion, chopped finely
2 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 t. mustard
1/3 t. sage
dash of pepper
2 eggs
1# ground ham
1# bulk sausage
3/4 c. apricot preserves
1 T. vinegar
1 t. mustard

First I chopped oatmeal up to make faux bread crumbs.
Rolled Oats
Finely chopped Rolled Oats
 Mixed oatmeal, almond milk & onion in a big bowl
Added Worcestershire, mustard, sage, pepper & 2 eggs

A heaping pound of ground ham and 12 oz sausage.  I was at my mom's and she only had 12 oz. 
This is the fun part - take off your rings and mix the meats into the egg mixture.  Or let your kids do it.
Shape the meat mixture into 1/3 cup mini-loaves.  I use a measuring cup because I want to be sure they cook evenly.
Put in a 325 oven for 50 minutes.  While they are baking, make the glaze.

Apricot Jam I made last summer.

Added mustard & vinegar

Glaze is ready

50 minutes
Approximately 1 Tablespoon of glaze on each loaf
Put mini-loaves back into the oven for 15 more minutes



Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday Menu Plan - Freezer Focus

Freezer Focus!  The garage freezer is getting heavier frost every day and I am digging through it.  One of the biggest challenges is how to use some diced up meat I was given.  It just tastes kinda funny, but I know it hasn't gone bad or anything because we've eaten some of it with no negative results.  A friend was also given the same meat and she agrees it tastes funny, but no ill effects. 

Anyway, it's supposed to be diced turkey but it's pink like ham.  I think I'm going to try cooking up with spices before adding it to anything and see how it helps.

Monday - Farmer Casserole (ham from freezer)
Tuesday - Macaronada *skipped last week
Wednesday - Barbequed Beef Sandwiches (rump roast from freezer)
Thursday -Steak & Mashed Potatoes (steak from freezer)
Friday - Stuffing/Turkey/Veggie/Creamy Soup Casserole (turkey & veggies from freezer)
Saturday - Mini Ham Loaves (ham & sausage from freezer)
Sunday - Baked Pasta (ground beef from freezer)

Monday - French Toast (sliced rolls from freezer)
Tuesday - Pizza (GF crust from freezer)
Wednesday - Taco Salad (ground beef from freezer)
Thursday - PBJ Sandwiches
Friday - Potato Soup (ham chunks from freezer)
Saturday - Leftovers
Sunday - Bagels/Sandwiches


Sunday, April 27, 2014

2014 Week 17 Groceries - 79.32

This week was low on the shopping trips, but still big spending with the purchase of a gallon of blueberry honey for $49.00.

This was a small trip to Costco.  I met my honey supplier in the parking lot and then picked up lettuce, pears, & bananas for $10.19. 

This was a trip to QFC because I needed mayo in a hurry.  I committed to deviled eggs for a potluck, but had no mayo!  Whoops!  Of course once I was at the store I found all sorts of things to buy for $16.15. 
Mayo $2.49 after Buy 4/Save $4 deal - seriously, even on sale I hate to pay this much for mayo
Creamer $1.62 each after Buy 4/Save $4 deal and $0.75/2 MC
Classico - $0.99 after Buy 4/Save $4 deal
Organic yogurt - $2.50
Bananas  - $0.69/lb
Tomatoes - $0.99/lb
Sour Cream - $1.34
Parmesan Rinds - $0.89
Cottage Cheese - $0.69
Pepperoni - $1.00

No milk delivery this week since we still had lots from being out of town.  Eggs were $4.00.

Total Groceries week 17: $79.32
Total Groceries Year to Date 2014:  $1081.62
Average Groceries per Week 2014: $63.62

I expect next week to be low-spending, too.  I'm really focused on getting food out of the icing-over freezer so most of my meals are based on what's in there.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Another Thrift Shopping Trip

Did you think I only went to one thrift store while I was visiting my family over Easter?  Sometimes that's the case, but I was really happy to be able to visit 3 different thrift stores this trip!  And go to a few garage sales!

Here were the finds from that day:
It was a pretty slow start with the garage sales.  I only bought those 5 canning jars and box of new lids for $2.00 total.

Next was the Salvation Army.  It was a quick visit, but I found a few things:
$8.50 - Crockpot that looks brand new with instructions.  Mine has a big crack, but still intact.
$0.75 - Tupperware colander.  Mine melted (ahem) on the stove top about a year ago and I've been missing it sorely.  It's a perfect size.
$0.25 - Sugar Creek Gang mystery
$0.50 - jelly jar with corn handles in it

We also stopped at Goodwill and found a few more things.
$6.99 - Sketchers for Yours Truly.  I was so pleased to find a pair of shoes for myself. 
$3.99 - summer sandals for DD#1
$1.99 - shoe hanger for closet
$0.99 - a good peeler

Overall I'm super happy with the finds in this small city.  =)


kitchen Tip - Cutting Cherry Tomatoes in Half

I saw this great video yesterday and thought I should share it.  It shows a simple way to slice multiple cherry tomatoes in half all at once.  I haven't tried it yet, but it looks like it might work.

Click here for the video.  Sorry I don't know how to embed a video right onto the page.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Freezer Fiasco

We came back from our 5 day Easter weekend to find our garage freezer door open about 2 inches.  The freezer had worked hard to fill the gap with ice, but now we're pretty frosted over. There's also some mess from a couple things defrosting in the door.  I know, it's not really a fiasco.  I just luuurve alliteration.  It's awfully awesome. 

I didn't think I'd manage to unplug this year, but now it looks like I might as well with all the ice I have to fight through now.  Look for very freezer-heavy meals the next few weeks.  I've got lots of bread, berries, beef, and a whole ham in here to use.

Eventually I'll move everything left into our inside fridge.  That's only a little crowded.  I can really pack that sucker when the time comes . . .
Goal will be to combine in one month or less!  That means a lot of cooking from the freezer in the next 4 weeks.  I don't even really know what's buried in both freezers.  Time for some organizing and planning.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Thrift Store Finds

I had a fun visit in my hometown over Easter.  I took DD#4 out one afternoon and we hung out at a local thrift store for almost 2 hours!!!

Here's what we found:
 $0.50 - Clipboard
$1.00 - The Children's Bible on record!  There's a great illustrated book, too, so I see many hours of record player fun in my future
$0.25 - Toile shopping bag (I heart toile!)
$0.25 - Johnny Appleseed storybook
$0.25 - First Ladies of the United States coloring book
$0.50 - His Princess book of prayers for girls (DD#2 like to read prayers)
$0.25 - Peter Rabbit book that is part of our language arts curriculum
$0.25 - Davy Crockett book
$0.50 - Pilgrim's Progress - in Marvel graphic novel form.  So cool!  DH liked this one.
$0.25 - God Bless America song, illustrated in this book
$0.25 - Old Hat, New Hat book that is also part of our LA curriculum
$0.25 - Bedtime for Frances book that is a part of our LA curriculum
$0.25 - Read the Pictures workbook - DD#2 jumped right into this one and was quiet for over an hour
$0.25 - Farm book that was DD#4's choice
$0.50 - box with 4 Doc McStuffins posters in it.  DD#3 loved this one.
$2.00 - Converse All-Stars that are see-through.  These are for DD#1 who is excited her new tye-dyed socks will show when she wears them.
$3.75 - Pajama pants for DH since I forgot to pack his - Whoops!  (not pictured)

And the really big find were all these canning jars for just $0.25 each!  I bought 36 and cleared the store out.  Yes!

 Hooray for fun shopping!  Hooray for a small town and lower prices.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Oh - My Sad Garden!

I came home determined to whip my garden into shape this week so I can plant this weekend.  I always try to plant the last weekend of April.  This is shaping up to be a warm year so I don't want to miss any sunny days! 

For perspective, check out my garden last May when I just getting things into the ground.

And today it's completely overgrown.

I hacked away at it today and now it looks like this.

I'm going to try and do a little more every day.  I have a junky cold right now that makes my voice croaky, but my body is working just fine other than being tired. 

Here are some photos of what turned up today:
Several of these guys were present - any ideas on what it is and if it's a pest?

Maybe a larval stage?  Or albino?

Biggest root of the day
Really big earthworms
Wish me luck!  I hope to put at least the tomatoes and lettuces in this weekend. 


Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday Menu Plan

Oh goodness, I am tired!  I got up at 3:15 this morning to hit the road at 4AM.  My husband wanted to be in his office by noon and we made it at 11:40.  YES!  Seriously 7 hours, 40 minutes is a record with 4 kids. 

Exhausted, yes, but I know the week will roll more smoothly if I can just spit out some menu planning ideas so here goes-

Monday - leftover ham & potatoes
Tuesday - pulled pork (GF bread for DD#2)
Wednesday - Macaronda (GF noodles for DD#2)
Thursday - Pot Roast
Friday - Potluck side dish (undetermined since I don't know what the main dish is yet)
Saturday - Popcorn & smoothies
Sunday - Crockpot Cassoulet

Monday - Nachos
Tuesday - French Toast (need to use up dry GF bread)
Wednesday - Pizza
Thursday - Chicken Nuggets (sub for DD#2)
Friday - Cheesy Bread
Saturday - Sausages
Sunday - PBJ

That'll do.  DD#3 needs to fall asleep right now so I can go to sleep too. 


Sunday, April 20, 2014

2014 Week 16 Groceries - $35.34

This week was pretty mild in my grocery shopping world.  Visiting my family for Easter meant taking some of what we had on hand, but not a whole lot otherwise.

Monday night I went to Albertsons for get the 2# cheese for $4.99.  I was pleased to find the 1# ham on clearance and I had a coupon.  The broth was on sale for $0.50 each so I bought 10 cans.  A lot of the GF/DF recipes call for broth and I don't have much stockpiled.  I spent $15.97.

 I picked these up at Target on Tuesday night.  The crackers were $1.00 each after coupon and the coffeemate - 16 oz were also $1.00 each after coupon.  So $4.00 total.

My Aunt made spaghetti one night so we got some GF noodles for DD#2.  They were $2.50.

The milk delivery was $12.87 and no eggs this week.

Total spending week 16 - $35.34
Year-to-date 2014: $1,002.30
Weekly Average in 2014: $62.64


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Small Project - Hanging Cleaning Supplies

The house is so much easier to tidy up when everything has a home to be tucked away into.  A few weeks ago I finally put a nail in the all for this little hand broom.  I'd been kicking it around the kitchen and laundry room for weeks.  Now it has a home on the laundry room wall.  Bonus: My kids can reach it AND the dustpan to tidy up their messes or help mom by putting them away.

I've had this clip-on rack hanging for several years.  It takes up very little space and keeps everything out of my way.  Now, if only I can figure out a way to hang up my Shark . . .

Friday, April 18, 2014

Gluten Free Bread #3 - A Win!

This recipe is from Gluten-Free on a Shoestring.  The author, Nicole Hunn, gives great instructions for getting the bread to rise.

3 cups all purpose gluten-free flour
2 1/4 t. xantham gum (I left this out since my flour, Namaste, has the xantham in it already)
2 t. kosher salt
3 1/4 t. active dry yeast
1/4 t. cream of tartar
2 T. sugar
1 1/2 cups warm milk
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 t. apple cider vinegar
2 extra-large egg whites, beaten

Dry ingredients: flour (with xantham gum), salt, yeast, cream of tartar, & sugar
Dry Ingredients - Mixed
Warming the milk to just 100 degrees Farenheit.  No hotter or you risk killing the yeast!
Vegan spread instead of butter

Two large egg whites
Add liquid ingredients slowly, mixing thoroughly.  Then beat it as fast as possible (without dough flying out) for at least 6 minutes.  This is important to activate the xantham gum!
Pour into greased, floured loaf pan
Cover with saran wrap
Cover with a steaming hot dishrag.  I used my hot pot to boil water to wet the rag.
Put it in the microwave for 25 minutes to rise.  Don't open the door during that time.  Reheat the rag and put the bread back in the microwave to rise some more.  This second rise should be 15-20 minutes.  Do it a 3rd time if needed.
A nice rise after two hot sits in the microwave.
The saran wrap sticks to the dough.
Bake in a preheated 375 oven for 45-60 minutes.  I lean toward the higher end of that range.

55 minute perfection
Remove from the pan after 10 minutes to cool on a wire rack
Looks good and tastes good, too.  Yay!


Monday, April 14, 2014

Week 15 Groceries - $72.96

I had a quick trip to Target all by myself on Monday night.  I only had 20 minutes until closing and I had a headache, but this introvert mama couldn't pass up the opportunity for a few more minutes along doing something I love.  I bought this brown sugar for $1.39 on sale with an MC & oregano for $0.69 on clearance with an MC. 

The girls and I went to Costco on Wednesday.  It's spring break and we're all a little stir crazy.  The carpets were cleaned in the early afternoon and I planned to get out of the house for the rest of the afternoon & early evening so the carpets could be left to dry in peace.

Has anyone else been to Costco with 4 kids?  It's like purgatory except you have a pretty good idea when it will end.  At least it wasn't busy.  We got a primo parking spot and there weren't many witnesses to the bedlam happening in my cart's vicinity.  I spent $54.01 on all this.  I needed more GF flour and Daiya cheese for my GF/DF kiddo.  I also picked up chili powder because I'm going to make my own taco seasoning.  I couldn't believe my old taco season had milk!  Dumb Whey.  I give raspberries in your general direction.  We did discover the veggie straws this trip.  One kid was particulary whiny so I looked for something we could all share.  Hooray for vegan snacks that are kinda potato-chippy! 

Our milk delivery was $12.87 and I bought 2 dozen eggs for $4.00 total.

Total groceries this week: $72.96
Total groceries year-to-date 2014: $966.96
Weekly Average in 2014: $64.46


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Diary-Free Tip: Bacon Grease

How can I do without butter?  My first option was to pick up margarine.  I hated that because margarine is so far from real food.  I just didn't want to use it to make my kids cookies, you know?  And what do I grease a pan with?  How do I keep my eggs from sticking? 

So a seasoned friend with a dairy-free kiddo recommended Earth's Balance.  It's a vegan spread and it does the job nicely.  But it's about $5.00 a pound. 

And it turns out margarine isn't dairy-free.  Doh!

Another friend suggested I just save my bacon grease and use that to grease pans & for non-stick.  It's genius and FREE.  I don't know why I didn't think of this earlier?  I could've saved a lot on shortening, olive oil, & cooking spray. 

A couple days ago I used it to grease my egg pan.  Last night I made the kids french toast and greased the griddle.  Today I'm going to try it for my bread pan.  Will it make the bread taste like bacon?  I'm going to find out!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Small Project - Homeschool Posters

I  know it doesn't seem like much, but even a small goal met is an accomplishment around here!  I got all our homeschool posters reorganized and rehung so I could include fit more on the walls. I wanted to hang:
  • Pledge of Allegiane
  • Cursive Alphabet
  • Days/Week & Months/Year 
  • Biblical Family Tree
  • Government Posters
Here's the old family room/kitchen/schoolroom:
Colors, Manners, & half of Numbers 1 to 10

Alphabet missing OPQ, UVW, & XYZ.

World Map & United States Map
 Here's what it looks like now:

Colors, Alphabet wraparound, Days/Week, Months/Year
Pledge of Allegience, States/Capitals, Goverment, Bible Family Tree
Cursive Alphabet, Manners
 Phew!  It's nice to get some of these posters out of the office and hung up!  I also feel much better have the whole manuscript alphabet up again since my 4 year old is learning her letters.