Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday 12/30

Birthday Party Gifts
I don't know about you, but one of the most frustrating parts of all the birthday parties my children get invited to is finding time to get a gift. In my hectic scheudule I end up forgetting about the gift until the last minute and I have to make a quick trip to Walmart on the way to the party and just get whatever is on the shelves and I usually spend way more than I would like.

Several years ago, I created a birthday gift box. As I see cool possible birthday gift on sale I pick it up and add it to the box. After Christmas sales are the best times to stock up. After a trip to JoAnn's and Walmart yesterday I came home with 2 craft kits and a bubble bath/lotion gift set for under $5.00 each. I am all set for the next 3 birthday parties. Works for me!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Two Pantry Recipes

In keeping with my January Kitchen Goal of eating from our pantry, here are two recipes that I can always make from my freezer and pantry. Since Jen at Beauty and Bedlam is participating in the Pantry Challenge as well, I am going to link up with her Tasty Tuesday post for today.

Chicken Pot Pie

2 - 10 3/4 oz. cans reduced fat and sodium cream of chicken soup
1 - 15 oz can Veg-All no salt added mixed vegetables, drained
1 1/2 c cooked, diced chicken ( I keep this in my freezer ready to use)
1/2 c skim milk
1/2 t Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1 refrigerated pie crust (I use Pillsbury - one day I might get brave and make my own!)

Preheat oven to 375* and prepare crust according to package directions (sometimes I just use a top crust, sometimes I use a top and bottom. My family prefers both, but if I only have one left from making a pie, they just get one.) Combine first 6 ingredients; place in 9" pie plate with prepared crust. Cover with top crust, crimp edges to pie plate. Slit crust to vent. Bake for 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving. (6 servings)

Taco Casserole

1 lb ground beef ( I do this ahead of time with onions and garlic and keep in freezer)
1 can black beans
1 small can corn
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 can tomato sauce
1 pkg taco seasoning mix ( I make my own)
3/4 pkg. tortilla chips, crushed

Mix hamburger, tomato sauce and taco seasoning. Heat over medium heat until flavors meld, about 5 - 7 minutes. Add beans and corn, heat 2 - 3 minutes more. Place in casserole dish. Add chips and toss. Top with cheese and bake in 350* oven until cheese melts and casserole is heated through.

January Kitchen Goal - Eat From the Pantry

My January Kitchen Goal is to eat from our pantry and reduce the number of trips and amout of money spent at the grocery store. I am in good company, as Money Saving Mom and FishMama are doing this as well and even hosting a challenge. So, I am signing up.

My goals are
  1. Only 1 trip to the grocery a week. Ideally this will be for milk, eggs, bread and fresh produce. However, I am not going to let really good deals go by that we need - the key word being need. For example, I am out of butter. If a really good deal for butter comes along, I will stock up on it.
  2. Shop from my pantry first, not my cookbooks. I have a bad habit of choosing recipes first and then having to buy alot of ingredients at the store. I am hoping this will change my menu planning behavior.
  3. Use my leftovers! I am the worst about saving food and then a week (or more) later throwing it away. This one will be hard.
  4. Use up the processed food we have in the house in order to focus on February's goal - Use less processed food.
I will be making one last grocery trip this year for the items we need for our New Year's Eve and New Years's Day Celebrations. I will be including milk, eggs, OJ and bread to get us started on our Pantry Challenge. Wish us luck!

Kitchen Goals for 2010

In my recent blog surfing I came across a great idea. I do not remember where I saw it now, but please know this is not my original idea. Instead of creating a list of goals/resolutions for the year, she created a list of 12 things, one to focus on each month. I thought this made a lot of sense and certainly takes the pressure off trying to implement changes all at once. Below is my own list of twelve kitchen goals for the year.

1. Eat from the pantry. (January's Goal -Completed)

2. Use less processed foods. (Year long goal - great progress!)

3. Reduce takeout/delivery emergency/I'm just too tired to cook meals (February's Goal)

4. Menu plan consistantly and stick to the plan (Year long goal - good progress)

6. Add 5 new WW recipes to our menu rotation (not WW Recipes, but several new ones added)

9. Enlarge my garden and utilize it (March Goal - completed)

10. Preserve more this year. (Summer Goal - completed)

11. Type up all family favorites and add to cookbook (April Goal - completed)

12.  To Be Determined

Linked to Frugal Fridays at Life as Mom

Monday, December 28, 2009

Meal Plan Monday 12/27

Time to get back into a regular routine now that our holiday traveling is over. Here is our meal plan for the week. I am incorporating some of our favorite Weight Watchers recipes through out the week to get us back on track.

Sunday - BBQ Pork and Ribs, Mac and Cheese, Broccoli Salad, Tossed Salad, Fruit Sala

Monday - Bourbon BBQ Salmon, Couscous, Tossed Salad, Green Beens

Tuesday - Beer Soaked Beef using Skirt Steak (WW), Leftover Couscous, Salad, Fruit

Wednesday - Layered Mexican Chicken (WW), Salad, Fruit
Thursday - New Years Eve Party - Bourbon Meatballs, Colby-Pepper Jack Cheese Dip, Chex Mix, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and one other finger food, just haven't decided yet, but either stuffed mushrooms or tortilla roll ups

Friday - Traditional Southern New Years Dinner - Pork Tenderloin - not sure how I am going to prepare it just yet, Hoppin' John, Collard Greens, Au Gratin Potatoes, Cornbread, Pound Cake

Saturday - Leftovers!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Meal Plan Monday Week of Dec 7th

So, I didn't have a meal plan in place last week, but it did not go as badly as I feared. We ended up eating from the pantry and freezer and other than Monday's trip to Zaxby's after a longer than expected basketball practice, we ate at home. Hoping to stick to this week's plan...

Chicken Noodle Soup, Grilled Cheese and Fruit

Going to see Santa and eat at Maggiano's, our very favorite Italian restaurant. This is a holiday treat for us. I can taste their Shrimp Oreganata now!

Dirty Rice, Salad and Fruit

Teriyaki Chicken, Sesame Noodles and Broccoli

Leftovers or Chicken Pot Pie if not enough leftovers

Christmas Dinner with Friends

Broccoli Cheese Soup - did not make this Thanksgiving week as it was 75* and not soup weather at all, Homemade Foccacia, Brownies or Kentucky Sugar Cookies