March 28, 2011

Meal Plan 3/28 through 4/3

We've been without power for about 24 hours now.  One of the less pleasant things of prairie life is the tendency toward power outtages, even when the storm is nowhere near you!  Fortunately we've got generators so we can still take hot showers! 
The good thing about the power being out is I was able to make time to plan my menu for a month.  This should ease the burden a little as we head into the second part of calving season (the older cows).  
Here's what's cooking this week. 
3/28 Mon- Beef Taco Soup
3/29 Tues- Beef Fajitas (slow cooker) w/ avocado, tomato
3/30 Wed- hot dogs (I think they're uncured), baked beans
3/31 Thur- steak, fried potatoes, sautéed broccoli
4/1 Fri- broiled salmon, roasted potatoes, peas
4/2 Sat- cavatini (from freezer), steamed spinach
4/3 Sun- leftovers

March 25, 2011

The Green Omelette

I once ate this dish at a breakfast restaurant.  They used only egg whites and called it "White Lightning".  I've kept the yolks because the fat keeps me fuller longer.  You could make this into a proper omelette, but I find it easier just to scramble everything together in the pan.

For each person you'll need:

1/4 cup chopped cooked  spinach (I use frozen)
1/4 cup chopped cooked chicken (preferably seasoned with Mexican seasonings)
2 eggs
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I like Monterey Jack)
1/8 cup chopped avocado

1.  Heat butter in skillet over medium heat.   Add spinach and chicken.  Cook until heated through.

2.  Break eggs into pan.  Scramble all ingredients.

3.  When eggs are almost done, add cheese.  Cook until cheese is melted and eggs are cooked to your liking.

4.  Top with chopped avocado.  Serve immediately.  Also works great as a filler for a breakfast burrito.

March 23, 2011

How to Dice an Avocado

It is possible to cut up avocados with minimal mess!

Cut an avocado in half and remove the seed.  Leave the flesh in the skin.

Slice the flesh lengthwise.  Cut gently so you don't puncture the skin.

Slice the avocado horizontally.

Scoop out as much as you want with a spoon.

So easy!

March 22, 2011

Have a Counting Party

Are you trying to teach a little one about numbers and counting?  Why not throw a counting party? 

There is a Barney episode called "A Counting We Will Go" in which Barney and his friends throw a counting party.  My son wanted to watch the episode over and over again.  I was inspired to throw my own counting party for him.  My parents, mother-in-law, son, and daughter were the only guests, but we had a great time.  I plan to do it again when my daughter starts learning her numbers. 

To set up the party atmosphere, we decorated with balloons and put on crazy hats and beads.  We also got out the New Year's Eve noisemakers to make it more exciting.  You could even send out invitations to family members, decorate with streamers, and set out finger foods that can be easily counted (berries, grapes, and carrot sticks are healthy choices, but my son really liked the chocolate chips).

So what do you do at a counting party?  You can:

- sing songs about counting
   - The Ants Go Marching One by One (be sure to march around the house while you sing)
   - 99 Bottles of Pop on the Wall
   - Knick-Knack-Paddy-Whack
   - Roll Over (There Were Ten in the Bed)

- write out the numbers 1 to 10 on a big piece of poster board and let the kids color in the numbers

- count things like stuffed animals or toy cars

- read books that mention counting or numbers, such as
   - Ten Little Puppies by Marian Harris
   - 1 is One by Tasha Tudor
   - The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey (the puppies count themselves)
   - Baby's First 1-2-3 Book by Amy Barton

- recite the nursery rhymes "One Two, Buckle My Shoe..." and "Ten Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed..."

- for older kids, play games involving counting and numbers, such as Hide-and-Seek or Hopscotch

Our counting party only lasted about an hour but we had a lot of fun.  Doing something out of the ordinary such as having a party makes learning exciting.  Let your imagination run wild and you too can create a fun learning atmosphere for your child!

How do you teach your kids to count?

March 21, 2011

Meal Plan 3/21- 3/27

Ahh, spring is really here!  The snow has mostly all mnelted, although there still are a few tiny patches here and there.  The mud is drying up, and there was actually dust last night when I herded the heifers into the corral.  I didn't mind in the least!  The fields have all been flooded, and now the creek is starting to go down just a little. 

To do this week:  get my seeds started!  Yikes!  I can't believe it's almost April!  I've been so busy working outside that I just haven't had the time or energy to think about the garden!  I need to start my brussels sprouts at least, and maybe some broccoli.

My parents came in last week and helped around the house so I could help outside.  We had a counting party with my 2-year-old, which I'll tell you about tomorrow. 

Yesterday we cut up some beef, so fresh beef is on the menu all week.  Here's what we'll be eating:

Monday- Beef Enchiladas, Corn
Tuesday- Hamburgers, Fried Potatoes, Sauerkraut, Fresh Fruit
Wednesday- Shepherd's Pie with asparagus
Thursday- Beef Ribs, Beer Batter Cheese Bread, Peas
Friday- Fish Chowder (from America's Test Kitchen- new recipe)
Saturday- Homemade Pizza, Spinach
Sunday- Leftovers

March 14, 2011

Meal Plan 3/14-3/20

I'm starting with Monday this week since I didn't get my menu planned until this morning.  We are knee deep in mud, but that's okay!  The snow is finally thawing and it's warming up!  I'm hoping to take some pictures today to post later this week. 

Monday- Manicotti stuffed with venison and cottage cheese, with homemade pasta sauce, served with fresh apples and oranges
Tuesday- eat in town
Wednesday- Homemade Pepperoni Pizza, oven-roasted broccoli
Thursday- Chicken Breasts over Salad, quinoa
Friday- Broiled Tilapia Parmesan (except I'm using Cod), salad, leftover quinoa
Saturday- Meatloaf, served with carrot sticks and fresh fruit
Sunday- Roast Beef with Potatoes and Carrots

March 9, 2011

Frugal, Homemade Facewash for Sensitive Skin

My mom has extremely sensitive skin.  For years she used this homemade facewash, until she found one product she could use.  This is a frugal, simple, easy to use recipe.  It takes seconds to mix up.  Just keep a container of oats where you keep your facewash, and you'll be good to go!

Homemade Facewash:
Mix 2-3 tsp dried oats (instant or whole) into 1/4 cup water.  Let sit for a few minutes (use this time to brush your teeth and put on your pajamas).  Rub oat mixture onto face.  Rinse. 

Frugal facewash

That's it!  So simple, so easy.

And using it will make you so happy, as you can see in this picture of me:

I love my homemade facewash!

Okay, I was just goofing around in that picture, but I think you will enjoy using it!

Linked to WFMW.

March 8, 2011

Mardi Gras King Cake

Are you looking for a G-rated way to celebrate Mardi Gras?  Look no further than the King Cake!  It's called a King Cake after Christ the KING.  Traditionally, a little plastic baby (representing Baby Jesus) is baked inside the cake.  Whoever gets the piece with the baby gets to make the cake the next year.  I just set mine on top because it's less mess.  A King Cake is really just cinnamon bread dough baked in an oval, topped with a powdered sugar glaze and green, gold, and purple sprinkles (the Mardi Gras colors).  I like to let the kids help with that last part!  I also like to decorate with beads like they hand out at Mardi Gras parades.  Here is the recipe I used for King Cake.

Happy Mardi Gras everyone!

March 7, 2011

No Meal Plan This Week

Sorry if you were hoping for a meal plan, but I don't have one for you this week!  I knew I should get my act together and just plan for a whole month, but I didn't.  We are busy calving and packaging cat litter, and it's bitterly cold to boot.  I'm planning to pull casseroles from the freezer, eat leftovers, and mooch off the in-laws.  Have a good week!

Make-Ahead Breakfast Ideas

I am always looking for recipes that can be made ahead (or at least part of them can).  My family enjoys a hot breakfast in the morning, and I enjoy the nutritional advantage over boxed breakfast cereal (in fact, I can't remember the last time we ate cereal for breakfast as a family).  Here's how I do breakfast ahead of time:

1) Freezer Breakfast Burritos
For each burrito, I use 1-2 slices of cooked bacon, 2 scrambled eggs, shredded colby jack cheese (probably 1/4- 1/2 cup), and 1 flour tortilla (or use your own healthier homemade Soaked Tortillas). 


Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Lay out bacon on cookie sheet.  Layer eggs and cheese on top of bacon (as if you were laying them inside a tortilla).  Freeze about 15-30 minutes.  Place frozen bacon mixture in the middle of tortilla.  Roll up.  Wrap well in aluminum foil.  Label and freeze.  When ready to eat, bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes.  Unwrap and enjoy a hot breakfast burrito! 

2) Mix up dry components the night before
I make a German Apple Pancake on Christmas morning.  The night before, I mix up all the dry ingredients in a tupperware container.  I even slice up the apples and put lemon juice on them, and store in the fridge.  I set my skillet on the stove and put my stand mixer on the counter (I use it to whip up the eggs).  Then in the morning I only need a few minutes for prep time, and I can enjoy a relaxing Christmas morning with my family!  The same thing goes for biscuits, pancakes, waffles, and muffins- you can easily mix up the dry ingredients the night before...

3) If you follow a Nourishing Traditions style diet, you should be soaking your grains.  I've found soaked pancakes and oatmeal to be the easiest.  For soaked oatmeal, just mix your oats, acid medium (1 Tbsp whey, lemon juice, or vinegar) and water in the pot you'll be cooking them, cover with a clean cloth, and leave on the stove overnight.  In the morning, cook as usual.

4) Make a double batch of waffles or muffins and freeze them.  They are best reheated in the oven or toaster oven.  The microwave tends to make them mushy.

These Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins can be frozen and reheated in the oven.

5) Breakfast Strata- Most strata recipes need to be assembled the night before and baked in the morning.  My favorite recipe is adapted from Cooking Light's Goat Cheese, Artichoke, and Smoked Ham Strata. I make it with whole milk and eggs, double the ham, and use feta instead of goat cheese. 

How do you make breakfast ahead of time?
Linked to Tasty Tuesday.

March 5, 2011

Seed Order 2011!

I am so excited!  I just ordered my seeds from Burpee!  I went a little wild I think, but I know I won't use all the seeds this year.  I love gardening and cannot wait for summer, especially since this winter has been so dreadfully cold. 

Last year's giant pumpkin

Here's what I got:

Seeds (tried to get organic and/or heirloom):
- broccoli
- spinach
- butternut squash
- black beauty squash (zucchini)
- brussels sprouts
- marigolds (for pest control)
- cornflowers (for beauty)
- cilantro
- dill

Plants (just bought the smallest amounts at the best prices they had):
- 25 asparagus roots
- 10 russet potato tubers
- 10 shallot sets
- 300 onion sets (100 each of red, white, and yellow, to split with my neighbor)

Reusable Supplies:
- 25 plant markers
- 2 Tunl Covers (to extend the growing season)

I can't wait to start the broccoli and brussels sprouts in my garage!   My dad got me a lighted tray and it is so great for starting seeds indoors.  Last year I successfully started over 20 tomato plants inside.  This year I'm going to try making my own individual containers out of newspaper, as shown in this video, so I can plant the whole thing directly into the ground.

That is not all I'm growing this year!  I already had quite a few seeds:
- carrots
- corn
- tomatoes
- basil
- kale
- cucumbers
- green beans
- pumpkin

Another exciting new addition is apple trees!  I am planning to order 2 trees through our county's natural resource something-or-other.  We have a terrible time growing trees out here, but I'm hoping that since our county is selling these, they'll have a fighting chance.  I'm planning to get a Lodi tree and a Golden Delicious tree.  Wish me luck, because I'll need it!

Tell me about your garden plans for 2011!  Are you trying anything new?  What's your favorite thing to grow?

March 3, 2011

Shameless Plug

Hey everyone, check out my friend Jenny's Etsy shop!  She sells handmade jewelry, and she recently added homebaked chocolate chip banana bread!  Yum!

The Osh Kosh- Complete!

In this post I told you about the Osh Kosh- the monster truck with a snow plow on it.  For the last 2 months my husband has spent every "free" moment rebuilding it.  It is finally ready for service.

To give you an idea of how big this thing really is, here's a picture of my son standing next to it:

He calls the truck the Gulf-11, which is what it was called when the Army used it.

The truck itself is taller than my house.  The plow is taller than me. 

This thing will push LOTS of snow.

Just for fun my husband had fake decals made.  He named the plow the Polar Expressway 19 Foot One-Way:

Now we just need a huge snowfall!