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Menu Plan Monday: February 10 – 16, 2014

MenuPlanMonday

I’ve been terrible at sticking to my plan. I admit. I’m great at making a plan, but sticking to it is another thing entirely. I am trying to get back on track, though. Last week I went to Sam’s and stocked up, so we should be good. I found some great prices on meat – I love it when the meat is “Reduced for Quick Sale”. Those are my favorite stickers to find! I found ground sirloin and ground chuck for $2.54 a pound! So I bought almost 10 pounds. I really need to get a second freezer so I can really stock up when I see those prices.

For this week, there are a few meals that were on the schedule for last week that we didn’t actually do, so we’re trying again.

Now, on to this week’s menu!

February 10 -16

What are you cooking up this week?

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Menu Plan Monday: February 3 – 9, 2014

MenuPlanMonday

Last week was crazy! There was madness here in the Atlanta Metro when we were hit with a major snowstorm that basically shut down the entire region. Yes, I know it was only 2 inches, but it turned to ice and…well, I’m not going to get into it. Anyway, because of it, everything was topsy-turvy and I didn’t really stick to last week’s plan. But we ate, we played in the snow, we slept in, and we had tons of fun.

Now, on to this week’s menu!

February 3 – 9

What are you cooking up this week?

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Tasty Tuesday: Shannon’s Easy Beef Enchiladas

enchiladas

I don’t even know how or when I started making this recipe, but I whipped it up one time for my parents back in my single days, and it’s been a hit in my family ever since. My kids even love these enchiladas, and that’s saying a lot right there. The recipe has been adapted a little bit over the years here and there – sometimes rice and/or refried beans will be added – but for the most part it stays pretty basic. I hope you love it as much as we do.

Shannon’s Easy Beef Enchiladas

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pack soft taco size flour tortillas
  • 1 cup of water (for taco seasoning)
  • 2 cups chredded cheddar cheese (I prefer Sharp)
  • 2-3 small cans or 1 large can Old El Paso Red Enchilada Sauce (my fave) – amount depends on how saucy you like your enchiladas
– Brown ground beef with onion until cooked through. Mix in taco seasoning and about a cup of water and simmer until water is cooked off. Remove from heat.
– Pour about 1/4 cup enchilada sauce in bottom of greased baking dish and spread around. I usually use a 9×13 glass dish.
– Place one tortilla on a plate, and spread about a teaspoon of sauce around entire tortilla. Scoop seasoned meat and onion mixture on tortilla, then sprinkle with cheese. Roll, and place seam down in pan.
– Continue with the rest of tortillas until you either run out of meat or space in the pan.- Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas, making sure all of them are covered. I also like to make sure the sauce gets down in between the enchiladas – if they’re packed tightly in the pan, I just scooch (technical term) them aside a bit as I pour the sauce. Use your judgement on the amount of sauce; I like mine saucy. If you’re freezing the enchiladas to cook later, STOP HERE. Cover the pan in foil, then wrap in foil again. If you’re using a smaller pan, like an 8×8 foil pan, cover in foil, then slip into a freezer bag. Make sure you mark the package somehow that it’s Enchiladas. No one likes a mystery pack in the freezer! When you’re ready to bake the enchiladas, thaw, remove foil, then continue the steps below.

– Top entire dish with shredded cheese according to your taste. We love cheese in this house, so I usually use a full 2 cups on the top.

– Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes or until it’s nice and bubbly and the cheese on top is melted. Tip: If you like crispy, or slightly burnt cheese, leave them in a bit longer. We happily discovered this one time when using an unfamiliar oven timer.

Dig in and enjoy!

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s easy to adapt to your tastes. The measurements aren’t exact; use as much or as little sauce and cheese as you like. Add more vegetables, use chicken or turkey instead of ground beef if you like.

If you try it, I’d love to hear what you think!

Menu Plan Monday: January 27 – February 2, 2014

MenuPlanMonday

If this week’s menu looks a little familiar, it’s because it’s kind of a mish-mash from things I didn’t make over the last two weeks. Oops! We veered a bit and I didn’t end up making everything that I had planned, but that happens sometimes. I had to plan a leftovers night midweek because the fridge is going to fill up fast, this week. And that is a good thing!

Now, on to this week’s menu!

January  27 – February 2

  • Monday: Cheeseburger Meatloaf / Mashed Potatoes / Asparagus
  • Tuesday: Shannon’s Easy Beef Enchiladas – check back tomorrow for the recipe!
  • Wednesday: leftovers
  • Thursday: Butternut Squash Soup / Grilled Cheese
  • Friday: Homemade Pizza (Pizza/Movie Night!)
  • Saturday: BBQ Chicken Quesadillas, with shredded chicken from the crockpot
  • Sunday: Football Party Food! Meatballs and cheese dip are planned, so far…

What are you cooking up this week?

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Turtle Talk: I Wasn’t a Turtle Person

sleepyturtle

I have nothing against turtles, really I don’t. I actually kind of like them. Well, sea turtles anyway. Whenever we go to St. Simons Island, we hop over to Jekyll Island and visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. I have a t-shirt. I have a hat. The kids have stuffed sea turtles, and we even have a Turtle tag on the front of our van. We’ve talked about “adopting” a sea turtle at the Center’s hospital to help support it’s treatment. But if you asked me 2 weeks ago if I wanted to have a turtle in my house, you would have gotten a firm “NO”.

Enter my son’s Pre-K teacher. One morning as I was dropping him off, giving hugs and so on, I heard his teacher talking to another mom, and I could tell they were talking about turtles, but wasn’t paying that close attention. Then she looked at me and asked if my boy would want a turtle. A turtle? Sure! We love turtles, so of course he would love a turtle toy, especially a stuffed one. So I nodded, and said, Oh yeah, that would be fun. So she ran out of the door and caught that other mom, telling her to bring it at pick-up time in the afternoon. She comes back and says something I didn’t quite catch, like she’ll bring it and it’s box and stuff in the afternoon. At that point, by brain clicked on, and I said, Oh, wait, you mean a LIVE turtle? She says, yeah, is that a problem? Ummmm….

So, we have a turtle. In the house. And, I have to admit, it’s pretty darn cute. The kids have determined that it’s a girl, so her name is CeCe. She came to us in a little plastic box with about an inch of water, a couple of rocks, and some aquarium gravel. Word spread throughout our extended family, and I was quickly informed by my sister-in-law, the turtle expert (apparently), that we now owned a Red-Eared Slider, that the gravel would have to come out, it needed a bigger home with lights and plants and a “basking” rock. A what? She sent me pictures of her setup, and I immediately thought: I should have kept my big mouth shut.

We managed to keep CeCe alive for a week, then we decided that we should probably do something about her living situation. Luckily, the pet store actually has people that know about these things, and even have an “Aquatic Turtle Kit”, complete with everything turtle-dumb people need. Put it on plastic, please.

The setup
The setup

After some rearranging and managing to keep the kids calm and their hands out of the turtle aquarium, CeCe was in her new home. She seems to love it. She stretches out on that basking rock and stays there all day, nice and toasty under the heat lamp. She swims around and plays in the stream from the filter, hangs out on the rocks we took from her old home (note: not the gravel). I’ve become a turtle person. I’ve sent pictures of the turtle to my parents and other extended family. The family turtle expert approves.

Isn't she cute?
Isn’t she cute?

Uses for Lemon Essential Oil

lemonuses

Lemon: There is a lot of power in this fresh little fruit. Which also means there is a lot of power in pure Lemon Essential Oil. Did you know that it takes approx 3000 lemon rinds to produce 1 kilogram (about 35 ounces) of essential oil? That’s a lot of lemons!

Lemon is one of the most-used essential oils. It can be used cosmetically, in the home for cleaning, aromatically to help with illness, and so many other uses! Want some ideas?

Brighten your face blend:

Acne Blend:

Mix in small glass container and “push” several cotton rounds to absorb all the liquid. Apply to face day and night.  Adapt and use other EOs until you find the right combination, like adding Frankincense, Geranium, Grapefruit, and/or Clove.

Lemon ~ Most Common Uses:

Dietary ~ Add 2 drops in your water daily

  • Fights Inflammation
  • Fights Cold Symptoms
  • Promotes a healthy Circulatory System (see below)
  • Easing the pressure of Varicose Veins

Digestive:

  • Calms Heartburn
  • Relaxes the Digestive Tract Muscles
  • Eases Constipation & Diarrhea (balances PH levels)
  • Tones the Liver

Respiratory (Topically, Aroma, & Internal):

  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Throat Infections

Also, according to Jen Valent, MD:

  • Lemon is used for Improving Circulation issues
  • Tones the Heart
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Helps Remove Toxins from Blood

Protocols you might not be as familiar with:

  • Use Lemon for Gingivitis and Mouth Ulcers
  • Remove Corns and Warts (Use a Qtip directly on area of concern)
  • Apply to Cold Sores (again with Qtip directly on the sore)

Cost Per Drop ~ this a very inexpensive and powerful tool to have in your home.

Household Uses:

  • Remove Gum / Sap
  • Polish your Silver
  • Mix in spray bottle to rid your plants of Aphids
  • Laundry Booster
  • Soak & Clean your Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (dilute with water)
  • Soak your Dish cloths overnight

Have a runny nose? Swipe a drop of lemon down each side of your nose to help slow it down.

These are just a sampling of the uses of lemon oil. It’s definitely a must-have in your wellness arsenal!

SparkCouponCode

 

Sources:

Oilsandplants.com
Essential Oils Desk Reference
Modern Essentials
Mayo Clinic

Tasty Tuesday: Oreo Stuffed Brownies

oreobrownieheader

I was bloghopping one day a while ago when I stumbled upon this sinfully delicious-looking recipe over at Moms of all Trades: Oreo Stuffed Brownies. Brownies? Oreos? Marshmallow Creme? I’m all over it. And boy-oh-boy, I did not regret this one little bit. Do you want to try it?

Here’s what you need:

  • Brownie Mix – any brand/variety will do
  • Oreo cookies, or other chocolate and cream-type cookie – I used the store brand because I didn’t have a coupon for regular Oreos (I’m thrifty that way). They taste just as good as the real thing for this project. Next time I’m going to try the Mint Oreos for that extra little kick
  • Marshmallow Creme – usually found in the baking aisle, or maybe even close to the peanut butter
  • Standard muffin pan

Step 1: Spray muffin tins with Pam, making sure to cover completely

Step 2: Mix brownies according to package directions. Add 1/2 cup marshmallow creme, mix well.

Step 3: Open up your cookies. Try not to eat them all…

Step 4: One cookie at a time, dip into brownie batter, making sure cookie is completely covered.

Step 5: Place in muffin tin. I also scooped a little extra batter on top of the dipped cookie, just to make sure there was enough.

Step 6: Bake according to package directions. Mine got a little charred around the edges, but I didn’t mind. I like the crispy brownies.

Step 7: Let cool, them pop them out of the muffin tins. From the outside you can’t even tell there’s a supersweet surprise inside…

Once they’ve cooled just a little bit, take a bite, and enjoy!

You’re welcome. :)
Since I originally made these, I’ve also tried Fudge-Covered Mint Oreos, Girl Scout Thin Mints, and Peppermint Patties. All of these were great, except the Peppermint Patties; the peppermint creme actually left the middle of the brownie hollow! Very strange. I still want to try Peanut Butter Cups, so I’ll post an update.
Enjoy!

Menu Plan Monday: January 20 – 26, 2014

MenuPlanMonday

My husband has been asking me to make more soups for a while now, but generally the only soup I attempt is chili. And I have to admit, I think I make a mean chili. At least the kids eat it, so that’s a score in my book! A couple of weeks ago, I decided to attempt to make Tomato Bisque. It was cold outside, and a warm creamy soup sounded delightful. So, I gave it a shot, and it was a big hit! I’ll be adding that one to the menu again soon, so stay tuned for the recipe and pictures! After my success with the bisque, I decided to try butternut squash. I’ll be sure to post how it turned out!

Now, on to this week’s menu!

January  20 – 26

What are you cooking up this week?

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Homemade Taco Seasoning – Forget the Packets!

tacoseasoning

We’re a big fan of taco seasoning in this house. If we don’t have tacos on Tuesdays, or some variation of tacos, the children will mutiny. So, taco seasoning is used at least once a week. For years I would just succumb to buying the little packets, not even thinking twice about all of the added sodium, preservatives, and numerous other ingredients I can’t pronounce. In my ongoing quest to eat a little better and save money in the process, I decided to start making my own taco seasoning. I was leary, at first, thinking there’s no way the homemade stuff could be as tasty as the store-bought wonderful-ness. I was pleasantly surprised, and very pleased with the result. Here’s the recipe I use:

Homemade Taco Seasoning

  • 1 part chili powder
  • 1 part cumin
  • 1 part garlic powder
  • 1 part onion powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 part crushed red pepper

Note: a part can be whatever unit of measurement you’d like to use. I generally add 1 or 2 tablespoons of each ingredient (except for red pepper flakes), depending on how much I’m making at the time.

Mix all ingredients together, and you’re done! I make it up in batches and keep it in a mason jar. And yes, that is the top to a parmesan cheese bottle that I have on my mason jar in the picture above. It fits perfectly!

To Use:

– Add 2 1/2 tablespoons to 1 pound of browned ground beef; stir in 2/3 cup of water. Bring to a boil, and simmer until water is cooked off, stirring regularly.

Yum!

Get Crockin': Slow Cooker Lasagna

I’m always on the lookout for new recipes, especially new slow cooker recipes . My old friend Jennifer posted photos of this recipe on Facebook a few weeks ago, and I knew I had to have the recipe so I could try it myself. Sidebar: When I say my old friend Jennifer, I mean old friend. I’m talking way back in the day at Carroll Elementary School in Shermans Dale, PA. Funny story: in first grade I broke my leg on the playground (don’t ask), and Jennifer’s mom was the one who carried my 6-year old self, screaming, into the school office. It was awesome. The internet is a powerful thing, and I’m glad Jen found me after all these years! Anyway, now, on to the recipe! I haven’t tried this, yet, but it’s on the menu plan for next week. I’ll update this post with my thoughts, and most importantly, how the kids liked it.

 

Slow Cooker Lasagna

-originally from Crockin’ Girls

Ingredients:

  • 2 Pounds Hamburger Meat, fully cooked
  • 2 Jars Marinara or regular spaghetti sauce
  • 1 Package Uncooked Lasagna Noodles
  • 2 Pounds Ricotta Cheese
  • 2 Cups Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • Fresh Baby Spinach
  • Italian Seasoning to taste

Directions

  • Brown hamburger meat and add marinara sauce. Let simmer for 20 minutes.
  • While simmering, in a bowl combine your ricotta cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, and egg, Italian seasoning to taste and mix well
  • Spray the crock with cooking spray, and start your layers of 1) meat sauce 2) uncooked lasagna noodles 3) ricotta cheese mixture 4) spinach.
  • Repeat layers one more time.
  • Top with remaining meat sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Cook on low for three hours, any longer will overcook the noodles!

Your kids may not be thrilled with the addition of spinach, so you can leave it out if you choose. Jen made this in a 6-quart slow cooker, but assured me that a 5-quart should be just fine.

Enjoy!