Menu for the week of August 24-30th 2009

This is week 2 of my full Menu Planning. I was inspired by Menu Plan Monday which is hosted by Organizing Junkie.
The first week went mostly well. I did have to move some things around from one day to another because of unforeseen things going but at least I had a plan and it made the swaps much easier. I really like being so organized during the week. I’ve linked as many meals to the recipes listed here on my blog or online that I can.

B-Cereal, toast, juice
L-Quesadillas, snap peas, fruit
D-Spaghetti, garlic bread, salad

B-Muffins, yogurt, fruit
L-PB&J spirals, Sunchips, fruit
D-Chicken Puffs, Potatoes, mixed veggies

B-Oatmeal, fruit
L-Ham and cheese sandwiches, carrot sticks, juice
D-Teriyaki Pork Loin, rice, broccoli

B-Pancakes and sausage
D-Spaghetti Pie, green beans, rolls

B-Cereal, toast, fruit
L-Grilled cheese, Ramen soup, some kind of veggie
D-BBQ Beef cups, corn, salad

B-Smoothies, English muffins
L-Pizzas, fruit
D-Pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad

B-something quick before church
L-Brunch with eggs, sausage, hash browns
D-Mexican Bow Tie Pasta

So, what is on your menu this week?

Chicken Puffs

I found this online at one of the great menu planning sites I’ve found recently. I wish I could remember where so I could give credit.

Chicken puffs
(from E-mealz)

2-lbs. chicken breasts, cooked/cubed
8 oz. cream cheese
4T. melted butter
1t. salt
1/2t. pepper
1/2c. milk
2T. chopped onion
2 cans crescent rolls

Cover chicken in water and boil for 20 minutes. Drain; dice. Mix all ingredients, except for rolls. Separate rolls into 8 rectangles. Mash with hands to seal perforations. Spoon 1/2c. chicken mixture into center. Pull 4 corners together and seal. Brush top with melted butter. Bake on cookie sheet at 350* for 20-25 minutes.

BBQ Beef Cups

This is going to be on our menu this week so I thought I would share the recipe.

3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup barbeque sauce
1 tablespoon dried minced onion or fresh onion
1 (12 ounce) package refrigerated biscuit dough
1/3 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease the cups of a muffin pan.
2. In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, cook beef until evenly brown. Drain excess fat. Stir in barbeque sauce and dried onion. Simmer for a few minutes over low heat.
3. Flatten each biscuit, and press into cups of the prepared muffin pan. Make sure the dough comes to the top of the pan. Spoon a portion of the meat mixture into each dough cup.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese, and bake for 3 more minutes.

Bubble Pizza

This is one of the quickest, easier recipes in my collection. We have been eating for years and even the kids enjoy it. If you know our kids, you know that is saying a lot.

Bubble Pizza

1 lb. Hamburger (or ground chicken or turkey if you prefer)
1/2 diced onion
1 diced green pepper
1 jar (16oz.) pizza sauce (Spaghetti sauce will also work if that is what you have on hand)
2 tubes refrigerator biscuits – regular size (not jumbo)
mozzarella cheese, shredded

Brown the hamburger, onions, and peppers. Drain and stir in the pizza sauce. Tear each of the biscuits into 6-8 pieces, and stir into the mixture. Spread the entire mixture into a greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cover the entire dish with a layer of cheese over the top, and bake an additional 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Serves 4-6. Add a Caesar or green salad to this and you have a complete meal!

Yes or What?

I cannot even count the number of times each day my kids ask the question….Mom? Or maybe it is more like MMMOOOMMMM? as they are yelling across the house at me.
I know, just 3 little letters and yet such a powerful question. I used to get a bit aggravated by this question after the 157th time it was asked. I could feel my blood pressure rise and my heartbeat quicken. I could feel the scowl take over my usually happy face and I sometimes I would snap…..WHAT?!?! Even if I was calm and it wasn’t on my last good nerve, What? is what would always come out of my mouth.

Over the last 2 months I see how much my behavior and stress effects my kids. I can see that when I answer with this 4 letter word, they would sometimes wonder if they had done something wrong. It was probably my tone, or the look on my face but I did NOT, do NOT want my kids to be afraid to ask me anything….ever.

So recently I have changed my answer to “Yes?” I catch myself a lot, pausing before I respond to the “Mom?” question. But I am trying, hard, and it seems to be working. Since I am more relaxed, the kids seem more relaxed. I don’t go into the conversation my kids want to have, whether it is just a quick question or a long, drawn out story with a tense feeling of “What do you want now?” but rather the thought “What is it that you need and I can do for you. What you wonder or want to say is important and deserves my attention” This is not to say that I am here to serve my children. But I do believe that they deserve to have an environment that is as positive and builds as much self-assurance as possible. Do I slip and spout of the occasional “WHAT?” Of course! But those are less and less frequent and the “Yes?” response is becoming more and more natural

So I am just curious, how do you respond this this question when you get is 322 times each day?

How can anyone feed a family of 4 dinner for only $5 a DAY?

This was the question that came to my mind a few days ago as I was searching the web for meal planning ideas. That just isn’t possible, is it? I never imagined that it would be something I could do but after spending a chunk of time at this website I’ve realized maybe it isn’t so hard.

If you take the time to shop only the sales, stockpile, use coupons on every item you can and plan a weekly menu I think it might just be possible. Now, I understand that prices vary around the country and since we are still new to this area maybe I can’t do $5 per dinner but if I could even do $7 per dinner how much could we potentially save? Mind boggling isn’t it?

So I am going to start keeping track. Of course I will need to guess for a while on the actual cost per use of spices, oils and the like but if I can figure out 9/10th of a meal cost that would be a pretty big accomplishment for me. I will keep you posted and I will share my successes with you. If you have any tips or tricks on things that work for your family in lower costs please share them!

How can I serve you?

This was the question that was on my heart this morning when I woke up. And let me tell you that waking up this morning, came well, early. I too am trying to get on the back to school schedule and have not used my alarm in months. So after my shower and with my first cup of coffee I headed outside to another beautiful Boise morning for my prayer time. My daily devotion was the verse Matthew 15:7-20. The premise of the verses was “Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart. —Matthew 15:18” So if you are saying mean, slanderous things then you are holding onto mean and hurtful things in your heart.

I did a great bible study last year at our old church that was centered on this and it today’s devotion was a great reminder for me. I have been trying so hard with all of the changes that have come our way in the last year to really let the Lord lead me. I ask often that he be the One in charge of my life. When you become a Christian as an adult, everyone is watching what you say and what you do. I’ve cleaned up my mouth, that is for sure but I still have times I stumble and fall. I’m human after all.

As I started my prayer time I prayed for my friends and loved ones who have needs. I prayed for people I’ve never met that have needs. I prayed for my family, myself, for our needs.
And then it came again…that question. How can I serve you? It was like a ton of bricks. I wasn’t starting my day off focused on Jesus but on myself and what I think my needs are. And if I only turn it around and focus on what can I do TODAY that would serve the Lord all of my needs would be met.

My opportunity would come later in the afternoon. The family and I packed a picnic and went to a local favorite park. As we were finishing up our lunches a disheveled man approached us and asked if we might have a cell phone he could use. Our first response was “No, sorry I don’t have it with me.” But then I heard the voice in my heart that I can only identify as the Lord telling me to trust and reach out. This person had a need and was being placed in my path for a reason. We gathered up our things, went to the truck and got the cell phone. The man who had approached us was across the way with 4 or 5 other homeless looking people. I put aside my fears that this man would call Hong Kong, or grab my phone and run off with it. Fears that one request would lead to another need and another and another. I approached the table and half joking asking if he needed to make a “local” call or did he need to call Hong Kong. He smiled and kind of laughed. I handed him the phone but then he looked at me with kind eyes and asked if I would dial it for him. Turns out he just needed to make a call and see if they could get a ride from another friend to the next place they needed to be on their life journey. He made his call and quickly gave the phone back. With a wide smile he and all of his friends thanked us. We offered them a cigarette and some accepted, others were proud that they had recently quit. We chatted with them for a few moments while the kids ran off towards the fountain. As we were getting ready to part ways the one women of the group asked in a quiet voice if she too might be able to make a quick call. Her dad has been ill for some time and she just wanted to check on him. My heart broke for her. As I dialed the number it turns out that the area her father lives in now is the very same small town that I worked in right before our move. The fact that I knew the area code she needed (she was having a hard time recalling it) and that I knew the town he was in was sure a ray of light to this lady that I knew we had done the right thing. Unfortunately she was unable to reach him at that time but she did leave a message full of love, and tears. As we walked away I told them “God Bless you guys”.

Had I followed my first instinct I would have judged that man and the other people he was with. I would have been creeped-out by the request and I would have blown them off. Instead I chose to listen to the voice that was very clearly telling my how I could serve Him today.

Did you do something today that served Him? If so, I would love to hear about it. If not, then I hope tomorrow you will start your morning as I did with this question and see what he puts in your path.

Spaghetti Pie

This was shared with us by our Miss Mary and well…it’s a huge hit!

Spaghetti Pie

For the Crust you will need:

6 oz spaghetti
2T butter or margarine
1/3C grated Parmesan cheese
2 well-beaten eggs

For the “Pie” Filling you will need:

1C/8oz cottage cheese

1lb of ground beef – optional

½ C chopped onion
¼ C chopped green pepper
1 8oz can tomatoes, cut up
1 6oz can tomato paste
1t. Sugar
1t. Dried oregano, crushed
½t. Garlic salt or powder
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce

½ C. shredded mozzarella/cheddar cheese

Cook the spaghetti as usual; drain (should have about 3 cups spaghetti). Stir butter into hot spaghetti. Stir in Parmesan cheese and eggs. Form spaghetti mixture into a “crust” in a buttered 10-inch pie plate. Spread cottage cheese over this crust.

In a skillet cook ground beef, onion and green peppers until veggies are tender and meat is browned. Drain off fat. Stir in undrained tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar oregano, and garlic; heat through.

Pour meat/sauce mixture over spaghetti crust. Bake uncovered in 350 degree preheated oven for 20 minutes. Sprinkle cheese atop. Bake another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

*Side Notes*

This recipe is so adaptable; adjust any ingredient to suit your family. Can be prepared very quickly by omitting the meat and using jarred sauce.

Need to feed a big family? Just double the recipe and make 2 pies. Short on time? Make it the day before, and keep well covered in the fridge. Makes great leftovers!

Let me know if you and your family try it out and how it goes!

Mexican Bow Tie Pasta

I don’t recall where I found this recipe but it’s become a tried and true favorite in our home. I wanted to share it with you to give you another option in the difficult land of dinner planning.

8 ounces bow tie pasta (or whatever other pasta you prefer)
8 ounces lean ground beef
1 16-ounce can pinto beans — drained (or equivalent homemade, 2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes, undrained
1 8-ounce cans whole kernel corn — drained
1 small green bell pepper — chopped
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (I use low-fat)
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 cup low-fat sour cream
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup broken tortilla chips

Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain.
In a medium skillet, brown ground beef and drain. Add beans, cumin and chili powder; heat through. In large bowl, combine pasta, meat mixture, tomatoes, corn, green pepper, cheese and onions. In small bowl, combine sour cream and salsa. Add to salad mixture and toss well. Serve warm, garnished with tortilla chips and additional salsa.

If you try this, let me know how it goes over at your house!

This is my first attempt at participating in a blog hop so I hope this works!

MckLinky Blog Hop

Snack Basket

Last week as I was buried to my eyeballs in all kinds of great blogs about meal planning, couponing and organizing I came across the idea of a snack basket.
This is a small plastic basket that lives in the pantry. It hold snacks for the kids. When snack time rolls around, all you have to do is pull out the basket and have the children choose and item. To keep this fresh you can switch it out every week with different items. This is something brand new for us, and we still need to establish the rules but I see them going something like this
1. You can choose 1 item out the basket at each snack time
2. You need to choose a different item for morning and afternoon snack
3. The items in the snack basket are your only choices

At the moment the basket is filled with granola bars, fruit snacks, animal crackers, Goldfish, pretzels and maybe one other thing. I just put all of the 1/2 empty boxes of stuff and threw them in there. In the future I’ll be a bit more mindful of the portions that are in there and what is included each week.

I will combine the item chosen from the basket with fruit, yogurt, juice etc to try and keep things balanced.

I’d like to give full credit to Glimpse of Sonshine and her snack basket post for this wonderful idea!