Secrets of Mom Search Results

Friday, April 20, 2012

I've moved- Check out my new site

Hey everyone! Sorry I've been a little MIA. We've had a lot going on here. We had 2 funerals, my husband quit his job and got a new one, for awhile we were talking about moving and of course there's all the business that is involved with mothering three small children. The good news is that I'm back in the game and I have a new website. So if you want to follow my cooking and mothering adventures, follow me at Tell me what you think. Thanks for reading.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Update 2

Another death in the family...when it rains it pours.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Last weekend I ran a half marathon. This weekend we have a family funeral. But, next week I will have many worthwhile things to say.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Few Tricks for Healthy & Delicious Waffles

We love waffles. It's one of the few things that everyone here eats and doesn't bother my breast-feeding infant with reflux, plus it's a quick, easy and low-cost meal. Here are a few tips that I have found to make them healthier and tastier.
  • Add a heaping tablespoon of ground flax seed to the batter. It help you get your Omega-3's, some extra fiber and protein and you can't taste it. I also throw a tablespoon of wheat germ into the batter for extra Vitamin E and fiber and no one can taste that either.
  • Substituting almond milk for regular milk adds a slightly nutty flavor and decreases calories.
  • If you use a professional waffle iron it will improve your waffles regardless of your batter recipe. The flipping motion introduces more air into the waffle. I was surprised that they only cost about $10 more than a good quality standard waffle iron.
  • Putting a couple tablespoons of applesauce on your waffle moistens them without a ton of syrup, reducing sugar without sacrificing taste. (I got this idea from a friend. When she was growing up her grandparents didn't keep sugar or syrup in the house, so they put applesauce on their waffles so they weren't dry and tasteless.)
  • Recently I tried some of my homemade applesauce (it's brown from the cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg) with just a little bit of real maple syrup drizzled on top. It was so yummy.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Food Storage Friday: Potato Pearl Soup

Ok,  if you have potato pearls you have to try this. To quote my husband "It tastes like Thanksgiving in a bowl." And it's EASY! If you don't have potato pearls, go get some.  I found this winner in Food Storage for the Clueless by Clark and Kathryn Kidd, which a friend recommended to me. Unfortunately it is out of print and it was awhile before a copy was available for less than $40. I eventually found one and I haven't really started reading it, just trying a few recipes. This soup is fast, easy, yummy and uses mostly food storage ingredients. I can't say that it's healthy, but it tastes like comfort food and sometimes you need when everyone in the house has had a cold sometime in the past two weeks. Just saying.

Potato Pearl Soup
Food Storage Ingredients:
4 & 1/2 cups milk
2 Tablespoons dried chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
dash of garlic salt
dash of pepper
2 cups potato pearls
2 & 1/2 cups broth/stock

Fresh Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup water

1. Heat butter, onion, salt, milk and pepper until scalding. 2. Gradually stir in potato pearls. Keep cooking and stirring until smooth. 3. Gradually add the broth & water. 4. Garnish with paprika and parsley if desired.

The original recipe called for more salt and butter. I cut them down and still added the water to get it to a place where I liked the taste. I also used turkey stock that I made and froze after Thanksgiving last year. Hence the strong Thanksgiving flavor and the small bits of carrot. So yummy. The original recipe calls for chicken broth, so I'm sure that that is good too. You *could* use fresh milk for this, but when I make recipes that call for cooking more than 2 cups of milk, I mix it up from my food storage. It's cheaper, no one can taste a difference and I need to rotate the stuff anyway.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


 Last weekend I was talking to my husband about something I found on Pinterest that I wanted him to make. (He's pretty handy when it comes to building things.)
 "Wait, you're using Pinterest?"
 "Yeah, I've found lots of great ideas there."
 "What exactly is Pinterest?"
 "It's a social networking site for sharing webpages and ideas. Why, what did you think it was?"
 "Well, a co-worker said it was soft porn for women."
 "Wat? No. Why do you think that?"
 "It's just women looking at a bunch of stuff they can't have."
I laughed. "Ok, I can see that. But I use it to get recipes and other ideas. Well, ok I do have a thing for pretty cakes too."
 So, yes I finally jumped on the bandwagon that is Pinterest. If you are so inclined, you can follow me here. Oh, and Happy Leap Year!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wedding Apparel for $10- No Sewing Skills Required

Last August I found myself in a predicament. My husband's little sister was getting married.  I needed to find something for myself and my newborn to wear to her wedding reception. When looking for dresses for my baby, I couldn't find the right colors. Everything that was white was  a) too big, b) covered in sequins c) cost a lot more money than I was willing to pay for something she would wear once or d) all of the above. I couldn't see myself spending $60 on something that she was going to pee, poop and/or throw up on and had to be dry-cleaned. Fortunately, my best friend came up with a brilliant idea. Make her a tutu. She can wear it with a white onesie, it's comfortable and if she poops on it (which she did), I can easily change it out.  I got the materials for the skirt for $2, watched an internet video and had a tutu in less than 2 hours. Tada!

 Originally my sister-in-law had planned on having her wedding a couple weeks before my due date, but when I said that we would not be able to travel she changed her wedding to a week and a half after my due date. I appreciated her consideration so that we could be there, but either way it left me having a hard time finding something to wear. (My MIL insisted it didn't matter what I wore, but I didn't want my SIL forever looking at her wedding pictures and thinking, 'Remember that time I got married and Heather wore a hospital gown to my wedding reception? Yeah, that was something.')  How do you find formal wear when you are nine months pregnant with your third child or for that unknown size you are going to be immediately after having said child. I was pretty sure that after having the baby I would be smaller than pregnant, but how much smaller? Not down to pre-pregnancy size. One size? 3 sizes? How do you plan for that? (Also in one department, smaller is not the size direction that you go.)  I spent dozens of hours in stores and online trying to find a dress that would work. I found one dress with an empire waist that almost fit at Dillard's when I was four months along and called their website looking for a size or two up. No luck, they had sold out of those sizes in every store across the country. Awesome.
 After I had Miss Cindy Lou Who I called every clothing store in town. "Do you have something formal or semi-formal in green apple or royal blue in my size?" One girl responded "Are you fifteen?"
"Then you probably wouldn't wear the only thing I found in royal blue. It has spaghetti straps and a mini skirt."
 "Um, no. I can't say that that would work."
 There is another store on St George Boulevard that always has lovely dresses in the display window. I called them and they had one dress in each color. And because they close before my husband gets home from work I went down there with my infant and my three-year old. (Yes, crazy. I know.) Each dress was around $165 and both of them were several sizes too big and would need to be tailored, drastically. I looked at them on the hangers while Thing 2 ran in circles around me and the racks of dresses, and said "This isn't going to work."
 The shop lady responded with a very patronizing tone "Well, we could have helped you if you had given us a few weeks more notice."
 "Well, a week ago I was pregnant and couldn't tell you what dress size I needed anyway." Not to mention I can't see myself spending that much money on a dress that I am not absolutely in love with.
 Then I tried a second-hand store that I had called earlier. Second-hand stores have changing inventory, so it was worth a shot. I found a blouse in royal blue for $8.50. Cha-ching!!! And I had a 20% off coupon. I paired it with my favorite black skirt and we were in business.

  So there we go. My husband had the rented tux provided by the groom's family, Thing 1 had her green apple Easter dress, Thing 2 had the tux that I bought him for the last family wedding (this time he had grown into the smallest size available), baby and I were covered and I did it for under $10.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Food Storage Friday: Sweet Pepper Rice

I found this recipe on Skinny Bovine's Kitchen. She says this rice is drool-worthy. I have a hard time drooling over anything that isn't cheesecake, but it was definitely yummy. And unlike the Sweet Chilean Rice that I did a few weeks ago, it was actually sweet, but not too sweet. I served this with burritos, but it would lend itself well as a side to anything Mexican.

Sweet Pepper Rice
Food Storage Ingredients:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups white long grain rice
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Fresh Ingredients:
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 red bell pepper
1/4 cup cilantro
1 Tablespoon butter

1. Finely chop onion, pepper and cilantro. (Or if you're lazy like me, pulse them in the blender for a few seconds.) 2. Melt butter in a large pan and cook onion mix until onions are soft. 3. Add salt and garlic powder, cook for one minute 4. Add rice and cook for another 5-10 minutes. (Until most of the moisture is gone.) 5. Dissolve sugar in broth. Add to rice. 6. Bring to a simmer and then turn to low and cover. Cook for 25-30 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Serves 6.

Notes: I used half of an onion, instead of a whole onion, to increase my odds that my children would eat this. They tried it, but they weren't fans. My husband said that even half an onion made his eyes burn. I tried it with some peach salsa and that was yummy too. At some point I'll have to experiment and try this with brown rice.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Visit from the Cleaning Wizard

So as I have mentioned before, there has been a fair amount of havoc around here. I'm a mom of three kids, I'm not getting enough sleep and as those who know me well can testify, I am a chaos magnet. A side effect of all of this is that I have been losing the constant battle of me versus the mess.
 A few months ago I made a new friend at play group, we'll call her Sarah. :) She has three very active boys and newborn baby and still manages to keep the chaos to a minimum. For awhile whenever I went over to her house I was fairly amazed at the fact that she managed to keep things clean. And I have seen and heard plenty of examples of destruction from these boys, it's not like they are low maintenance. (Meanwhile when she came over to my house she said it was like seeing a vision of what her life would be like post-baby. I told her not to worry, it would only be this bad if she's crazy enough to have 4 surgeries right after having that baby.) One day Sarah showed up on my doorstep with her cleaning caddy and while our babies laid on a blanket and our kids played together we attacked Thing 1's room. The progress that we made in an hour and a half was nothing short of astounding. I snapped a picture and sent it to my husband. (I'd post the picture, but it doesn't mean very much without the before shot.)  He asked me if a wizard had visited our house. Almost. Here are some tips that Sarah gave me as we cleaned.
  • Tackle one room at a time, and if you can, do it with a friend. :)
  • Take at least half the toys and pack them away. Rotate them when the kids get bored or request one that they can't find.
  • Throw things away. Be ruthless. (Apparently throwing things away is one of Sarah's favorite-st things to do. And she always throws away all McDonald's toys. It made me think, instead of buying the Happy Meals in the first place, I may just pay my kids $1 every time to not get the toy. Then they can save up for something nicer.)
  • Don't leave the room to put things away. You're wasting time and energy. Give yourself 3 (or 4) containers. 1. Put away (elsewhere in the house) 2. Throw away 3. Give away (4. Pack away- toys or seasonal clothes.) 
  • Teach your children not to hoard. It's a tough thing, kids like to collect things with little or no value. And Thing 1 is the 'hoardiest' child I have encountered. Really, I adore her, but she wants to save every ribbon, every paper, every broken balloon, every rock and every leaf.  It's not conducive to keeping her room or the rest of the house clean.
  • Hangers are your friend. Kids have a tendency to 'dump' shelves and drawers. Hang up as much stuff as you can.
  • Clorox tabs help keep your toilet clean between scrubbings. (Sarah said without them and with three little boys she had to scrub her toilets daily.)
  • Pumice stones are great for removing any hard to remove spots on the inside of your toilet bowl.
  • Energy efficiency toilets are much harder to clean. We have a regular toilet in the bathroom that gets used the most and a "low-flow" toilet in our master bath and I couldn't figure out why I spent twice as much time scrubbing our master toilet with lesser results. Sarah enlightened me. So I may be saving some water with that toilet, but not to make up for the wasted time, energy and cleaning supplies that I have to put into maintaining it. This is a case where I don't think trying to save the environment pays off. If only dual-flush toilets were easily available in our area like they are in Europe.
I think that the biggest enemy to maintaining a clean house is clutter. At first when Sarah was strongly pushing me to throw stuff away, it was slightly uncomfortable. I felt like the guests on 'What Not to Wear'. They know that they don't dress well, but they have a hard time parting with their old clothes that are what make them poorly dressed even though someone is giving them $5000 to spend on new better looking clothes. There's an emotional attachment to the old clothes. I feel the same way about the clutter. I know that if my house is ever going to get clean I have to get rid of a lot of the junk. Part of me says 'But I spent money on this junk! How can I throw it away?' or 'But (fill in the relative) gave them that toy, sometime I will get around to fixing it.' Yeah, well I have to get over that, uncomfortable though it may be. The reality is that I am not going to get around to fixing broken toys and having a clean house is more important to me than having a bunch of junk.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Food Storage Friday: Squash and Bean Quesadillas with Apple Salsa

This recipe doesn't contain a "ton" of food storage ingredients, but it's tasty, healthy and a good way to mix it up. I found this recipe when I googled "the best thing to do with butternut squash". My husband hates squash and really liked this, so you know it's good. I have to apologize for the lack of picture. I made it when my family came to visit, and all portions were inhaled before I had a chance to take a picture, but here's where I found it. (Of course I changed it some.)The quesadillas without the fresh salsa are ok, but the apple salsa is what really makes this.

Squash & Bean Quesadillas
Food Storage Ingredients:
1 can (14.5 oz) beans, rinsed and drained (I used kidney)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Fresh Ingredients:
3 cups of cooked and peeled squash (I used butternut, the original recipe called for acorn)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups spinach, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
12 small tortillas
2 medium apples, diced
1 large handful cilantro, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons lime juice

1.Mix salsa ingredients and store in fridge. 2. Cook chopped onion & garlic in oil in a large skillet until onions are clear. 3. Add squash & spinach. Cook for 10 minutes. 4. Stir in beans, cumin, salt and pepper. 5. Spread 1/6th of squash mixture on a tortilla. Sprinkle with cheese and cook in skillet until cheese is melted. Cover with a second tortilla, flip and cook until second tortilla is toasted. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Cut tortillas into wedges and cover with apple salsa. Serves 6.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What Happily Married Couples Do

Recently I read an article in a Church publication called "What Happily Married Couples Do: Ten ideas for enriching your marital relationship". (Click on the link if you want to read the entire thing.) It has ideas that can help every married couple to improve their relationships.

  1. Have positive conversations. I think this is a part of any healthy relationship.
  2. Show affection. Everyone needs to be touched.
  3. Remember that you are each other's therapists. You are the one that knows more back story than anyone else.
  4. Be humble and cultivate Christ-like attributes. Christ knows that your spouse is a person of worth with great potential, talents and someone who was worth sacrificing for. Something to consider.
  5. Date frequently. Something that is often hard with small children, but so important!
  6. Enrich your intimacy. This made me smile. What a delicate way of saying, 'Make sure you and your spouse get it on.'
  7. Spend time with children and grandchildren. Family is a mutual interest and inherently part of your relationship.
  8. Seek feedback and help each other. It's important to communicate and work together.
  9. Eliminate anger. How can you be happy when you are angry?
  10. Be sensitive to each other's stress levels. Ditto to my comment about #1.
I think that this is pretty sound advice. I don't think these ideas will solve all domestic discord, but I can see them making things better for a lot of people. If you value your relationship with your spouse, you have take actions to maintain and improve it. Happy marriages don't happen by accident or by magic. They require thought and effort. And you don't have to do all of these ideas at once, try focusing on one each month. Hopefully they will bring smiles to the face of you and your spouse.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Food Storage Friday: Sweet Chilean Lime Beans and Rice

Recently I got a recipe exchange chain email from a friend of mine. I passed it on to several people in my address book including an old nursing instructor. She's currently serving a mission so declined to participate, but did give me this recipe for Sweet Chilean Lime Beans and Rice. I tweaked it so it worked well in my crock pot and had a stronger lime flavor. My husband (one of my toughest and most important food critics) loved it. This with a side of fruit makes a complete meal, but it would also go great as a side with enchiladas, tacos or chipotle seasoned and grilled meat. The lime and sweetness is subtle, but gives it a nice flavor. Honestly it has more of a pepper, garlic and onion flavor than sugar and lime.

Sweet Chilean Lime Beans and Rice
Food Storage Ingredients:
4 (15 oz) cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
7 cups broth (chicken, vegetable, whatever)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 Tablespoons white sugar
2 cups brown rice or 3 cups instant white rice
salt to taste

Fresh Ingredients:
2 green bell peppers, seeded, 1 diced
2 yellow onions, quartered
2 cloves garlic 
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup champagne (I used sparkling red grape juice)

1. Put 6 cups of broth, beans and diced bell pepper in crock pot on high for one hour. 2. Blend onions, remaining pepper, black pepper, cumin, sugar, 1 cup of broth and garlic until smooth. Add to beans. 3. If using brown rice, stir into beans and cook for three hours. If not, just cook for three hours and add instant white rice ten minutes before done. 4. Half an hour before finished slowly pour in champagne (or juice) and lime juice. Makes 10 servings.
Notes: The original recipe called for instant rice. I really prefer brown, so that's what we used with my adjustment, but the instant white rice should work.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Book Review: How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America's Cheapest Family

To give me some ideas to make it through my pantry challenge, I read How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America's Cheapest Family: So Many Innovative Strategies You Won't Have to Cut Coupons by Steve and Annette Economides. I enjoyed reading it. It has lots of great suggestions, even if sometimes it's a little on the cheesy side. I love that the authors emphasize that your time is at least as valuable as your money. They spend $350 each month feeding their large family, and they don't do it by hitting the loss leaders at 6 grocery stores per week. The strategies that they use work for them because they provide them with more time with their family. And their basic suggestions aren't new or revolutionary, but they do elaborate with lots of examples that have worked for them and other families who read their blog.
  • Have a plan- plan your grocery list, plan your meals, plan your money
  • Look at ads, then coupon and price match 
  • Stock up on good deals
  • Shop once per month
  • Cook once per month & freeze multiple meals
  • Get your family involved
  • Organize your kitchen/pantry/freezer in a way that makes shopping & cooking efficient
  • Learn to cook and eat at home
  • Garden
 That's the basic premise of their book. These down-to-earth ideas are all things that we have heard before, but I think the key that really brings it all together is having a plan. This is true when it comes to most things, whether you're talking about feeding your family, saving for college or running a business. You have to decide that your are going to save money on your groceries and how you are going to do it.
 At the end of every chapter they have suggestions for which ever level you're at. If you're a beginner there are suggestions for you, there are suggestions for those with some experience who are trying to do better and then there are even tips for the experts. In one of the book reviews I read, someone complained that all of the ideas in this book were great if you have a large family, but irrelevant for most people. I have to disagree with that. They have suggestions that work for the young, old and in between. There are ideas that can work if you live by yourself or are part of a family of 12. You just have to pick out the ideas that are relevant to your situation.
  Here are some of my favorite tips from the book:
  • Buy produce in bags, you get more for your money. Produce bags have to be a certain minimum weight, but often weigh more than that and are usually cheaper per pound than loose produce.
  • Share recipes with friends to get new cooking ideas.
  • Put a small plastic basket in your cart where you put all of your "impulse buys". Before you get to the check-out evaluate if you really need any or all of those items.
  • Picky eaters can easily sabotage frugality. Find creative ways to get them to eat what the rest of the family is eating.

Monday, January 30, 2012

End of the Pantry Challenge

Spending for last week:

  • $21.50 for Bountiful Basket and extras that I split with friends (that's what I ended up paying)
That means that I went over my $100 goal by less than a dollar. Not too shabby. As long as I can stay out of the grocery store until Wednesday.
 For the last two days of the pantry challenge lunches are (have been) consisting of soup, sandwiches and mac and cheese. (Someday they'll get over this food jag.) For dinner tonight I made Chilean Lime Beans and Rice, it went well. Then we made cookies from ingredients in the pantry for family night. Tomorrow we'll have beans and rice again, because goodness it made a lot. I put a bunch in the freezer and we still have quite a bit in the fridge.
 I was hoping that this experiment would use up lots of the contents of my pantry. We didn't use as much as I hoped. We did however, try four new recipes using food storage that were successful, eat lots of fresh produce, cleared out some space in my freezer and saved a fair amount of cash. Looking at my pantry I feel like I need to do this for another month to get things cleared out and rotated. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. I hope that my experience encouraged you to try a few new recipes and make use of the things that you have in your pantry.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Food Storage Friday: Cranberry Upside-Down Breakfast Cake

I found this recipe in the newspaper a couple weeks ago and made it for my family last weekend (adapted using food storage). It was delicious and helped me use some of the very large bag of cranberries that I have in my freezer. (That's three experimental recipes in a row and they were all winners! Score!) My family made this disappear fast. We will definitely be making this again, but only for special occasions, because it is very sugary.

Cranberry Upside-Down Breakfast Cake
Food Storage Ingredients:
1/4 cup of chopped almonds
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose white flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar

Fresh Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, divided & softened
1 tsp orange rind
5 Tbsp fresh orange juice
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used rice milk with vinegar.)
1 & 1/2 cup fresh cranberries (or frozen and defrosted)
1 heaping Tbsp ground flax seed

1. Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 9" square or round pan with cooking spray and dust with flour. 2. In a small bowl combine almonds, cranberries, and orange rind. 3. In a small saucepan combine three Tablespoons orange juice, two Tablespoons butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir constantly for three minutes and pour into pan. Cover with cranberry mixture. 3. Whisk flours, salt, flax seed and baking soda in a medium bowl. 4.In a large bowl, beat white sugar and remaining butter until creamy. Add vanilla, egg and flour mixture. Spoon over cranberries. 5. Bake for 40 minutes or until passes toothpick test. Cool in pan for 5 minutes while making glaze. 6. Mix remaining orange juice and powdered sugar until smooth. Pour over inverted cake.
Notes: I was surprised that it turned out looking as well as it did, because after I inverted it about 90% of the sugary coating was stuck to the bottom of the pan. Wha? I used a non-stick silicone pan and sprayed and flour it. So I scraped the sugary mess out of the pan with a fork and then arranged it back on the cake. Most of the cranberries had migrated into the cake, but the nuts were left behind in the pan with the sugar. Now that won't do. That orange glaze really helped with the appearance of the cake. So just make sure that you HEAVILY grease your pan.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pantry Challenge Week 4

I meant to put this up yesterday, but family and friends come before blogging.
Grocery spending last week:
  • Whole wheat hamburger buns- $2.45
  • 2 cans pinto beans- $1.08
  • 2 gallons milk- $4.25
  • package of tortillas- $1
  • package of pretzels- 50 cents (after coupon)
  • package of Yoplait- free (after coupon)
  • can of Carnation Instant Breakfast- $3.70 (after coupon)
  • Bountiful Basket (apples, bananas, pears, oranges, cauliflower, broccoli, kiwis, pomegranates, lettuce, corn on the cob)  + bread pack that I split with my mom- $12
Total- $26.36 after tax
Total for the month so far- $79.36

Now I have to admit that I cheated. My family was visiting from out of town and we took them to lunch. Lunch for 5 adults and 2 children came to $59. Not really compatible with the $100 challenge. But I'm not going to be a bad hostess just because I'm doing some crazy pantry challenge. And I did make them eat food storage experiments for their other meals, which actually turned out pretty good. And I never got around to making the BBQ beans because I had too many other leftovers.

Menu Plan:

Ramen noodles (my kids love them)
shells and cheese

BBQ beans
Whole Grain Vegetable Lasagna*
Mac & Cheese with Cauliflower
Cream of Vegetable Chowder If you want to add chicken, be my guest.
Taco Salad

Sides & Snacks
Corn on the Cob
roasted vegetables
fresh fruit
homemade bread and jam

*If you live in the Utah county area there is a Stouffer's thrift store near the plant in Springville, UT. Anything that isn't perfect goes to the thrift store. This could mean that they messed up the product, but most often it means that the package is under or overweight. Recently when my mom was there she found frozen Whole Grain Vegetable Lasagnas for $1.99 each, so she brought a few down when she came to visit. They tasted great. Hope that helps someone who is trying to get dinner on the table for less without spending their lives in the kitchen. :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Food Storage Friday: Reuben Pinto Burgers

I found this recipe in the newspaper last Sunday. My burgers don't look as pretty, but they were very tasty, and really that's all that matters. (Ok, they are healthier than a standard burger, and I suppose that matters for something too.) If you are not fan of sauerkraut, you can easily change the toppings to make it whatever burger tickles your fancy.

Reuben Pinto Burgers
Food Storage Ingredients:
2 cans (15.5 oz)  pinto beans, liquid drained, 1 can mashed with a fork
1 can (14.5) sauerkraut, drained
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup light mayonaise or Miracle Whip
2 Tablespoons of chili sauce

Fresh Ingredients:
1 & 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 thin slices Swiss cheese
6 whole wheat hamburger buns

1. Mix beans, bread crumbs, eggs, pepper, and garlic in a bowl. Form into six patties (Roughly 4"). 2.Mix chili sauce and mayo, set aside. 3. Place a slice of cheese on each half bun. Toast at 300 degrees F for about 5 minutes. 4. While toasting buns, heat oil in a large skillet. 5. Cook patties in hot oil until crisp on both sides (8-10 minutes total). 6. Assemble burgers with sauce on each side of bun and sauerkraut on top of patty.

Notes: The recipe I read said to drain and reserve liquid from canned beans, then add it to patty mixture for moisture. I found them to be plenty moist without it. I'll have to try this recipe with cooked dry pinto beans and with various burger toppings. I made my bread crumbs by toasting a couple of smashed freezer burnt Kaiser rolls that I found buried in my freezer and added a dash of Kirkland's organic no-salt seasoning. I highly recommend. I also used Monterrey Jack instead of Swiss, because that is what I had in my fridge. Still good.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pantry Challenge Week 3

Did you have a great holiday with your kids? We did. House cleaning and blogging didn't happen, but we had fun. So Heather had dreams of books I was going to review and various prizes I was going to give away this month, but I was forgetting 'I am a mother of three now'. I never have as much time as I am hoping for. And things always come up. Anywho, moving forward.
 Here was my grocery spending breakdown for last week:

  • Cilantro, a pepper and green onions- $1.90
  • milk- $2.89
  • greek yogurt- $3.59 ( I used it to make tzatziki sauce out of my cucumber. That recipe was a failure.)
  • bread- $2.34
  • ice cream- $2 (It was a prize on the chore chart.)
So that's roughly $13.

 No complaints from my family yet on using the things that we have. Of course the kids just finished the last of the chicken nuggets and I'm not buying anymore before February. We'll see how that goes. I still have a fair amount of fresh produce including a squash that's been in my fridge since before Christmas, so I'm trying to use up those things.

Here's the meal plan for this week:
Upside Down Cranberry Cake- If it turns out well I'll put it up here.

shells and cheese
stir-fried veggies with brown rice and plum sauce

Reuben Pinto Burgers- Another new recipe
Hippie Tacos (Vegetarian style)
BBQ Beans  (Again, sans meat)
Squash Quesadillas with Apple Salsa- Looks good, going to give it a whirl
Cream of Mushroom soup- good ol' standby
Green eggs and Spam- The green eggs are made with pureed spinach. My daughter is a big fan of sauteed Spam; it tastes like thick bacon. I'm not so much.

More tangerines, pears and apples
Homemade bread (universe willing)

What fun things are you eating? And how are you trying to use what's in your pantry?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Some Days Are Hard and Some Days Your Kids Actually Listen

 One morning, a couple days ago, when my alarm went off I wished that I could be someone else. Someone without a splitting headache. Someone without an appointment for a root canal. Cindy Lou Who (4 & 1/2 months) had woke me up four times because she had an ear infection. Thing 2 (4 years) peed the bed twice and woke us up one other time wanting chocolate milk. (Which we didn't give him.) Of course, the three times he woke us up didn't coincide with the four times that she woke up. Life working out the way it does, the root canal cost a lot more than they said it would and my mouth didn't start feeling numb until 10 minutes after the procedure. Fantastic.
 I was certain that considering Murphy's Law my children would bicker all day and be totally uncooperative. I have heard many times that the greatest influence that a woman can have on the world is through raising her own children to be good people. As I drove home from the endodontist I was considering if that is really true. I have a friend from nursing school who went on to be a nurse midwife. She has not had the opportunity to marry and have children and now volunteers in third world countries helping to deliver babies. Right now she's in the Philippines. (Did you know that in many countries girls are more likely to die in childbirth than go to school? On that topic, here is an awesome video if you have the time to watch it.) So I was thinking 'Am I really making more of a difference going through all that have been going through for my family, than if I were volunteering somewhere and saving lives all day every day?' The past five months have easily been the hardest of my life. I have been hit by one crisis after another.
 After I got home my husband looked at me in my pathetic state on the couch and said "If there was anyway that I could stay home from work today and help you out, I would." But he has a job to do and we need him to do it. I just prayed that I wouldn't snap and yell at my children. I was ready for the worst day ever.
 But that's not what happened. Soon after I got home Cindy Lou Who woke up and gave me an enormous smile like she was so excited to see me. My children have a tendency to not want to clean up after themselves. Yes, I know that is typical for their age, but they tend to be a little worse than average. But miraculously they actually cooperated. They each cleaned their rooms for ten minutes without a fight. They each picked up all of their things that were in the living room. Thing 1 (6 years) let me brush her hair without running and hiding. Thing 2 didn't put his pants on backwards.They ate a balanced lunch and Thing 1 got to school on time. Cindy Lou Who let me set her down long enough so that I could vacuum the living room and load the dishwasher while Thing 2 quietly played with Play Doh at the table. After school Thing 1 did her homework without threats. At dinner we had fresh veggies and dip and she tried one of every kind. Thing 2 wasn't so bold, but he ate a banana and the insides of his sandwich. It was like all of the lessons (battles) that I have been trying so hard lately to teach my kids were actually sinking in. I am actually making a difference. They may actually turn into healthy productive adults. Wahoo! Someday when my kids are older I may do my part to save the world, but I would not trade my time with them right now for anything.

Monday, January 9, 2012

$100 Challenge Week 2 and giveaway winner

So spending $100 or less looks like it is going to be harder than I thought. Partly because I didn't do much grocery shopping for most of December because we were out of town so much. The end of week 1 and I've already spent almost half my budget. However, I now have enough produce to last me at least a couple weeks.
Here's the breakdown:

  •  Bountiful Basket- $15 (cucumber, radishes, lettuce, spinach. avocados, broccoli, tomatoes, oranges, apples, bananas, pears, grapes, and blackberries)
  •  Italian Pack- $8.50 (eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, garlic and fresh herbs. If you have never tried this you should, it makes my fridge and kitchen smell like heaven.)
  •  38 lb case of tangerines- $15
  •  BB handling fee- $1.50
 But then I split the case of tangerines with two friends, so they each gave me back $5.
Produce total= $30
  • milk- $1.61 after coupon
  • olive oil- 2 (17 oz) bottles @ $1.99 each (How can I resist that price?)
  • Yoplait yogurts- 10 @ 40 cents each (When my children request healthy snacks I really try to make it work. And this is a challenge, not a punishment.)
Grocery total $40.03 (including tax)

I never made Taco Soup last week, because we had enough leftovers to cover meals without. Nor did I make wheatberry salsa, but both of will hit the menu again this week because I opened  tortilla chips for the BBQ Wheat salad and I want to use those before they go stale. In fact BBQ Wheat salad is making a reappearance because I have all the ingredients for it and Thing 1 has decided that she really likes it (as do my husband and I). Also my children requested (and gobbled) scrambled eggs with mushrooms and toast. Fine. Little do they know that I made it with half dry powdered eggs. (I'm still getting them to eat healthy meals built around my food storage, so I'm happy.)

Breakfast and Lunch are more or less the same story as last week. Variety is not a priority for my children. I will also make muffins out of one of the instant mixes that is in the pantry.

Eggplant Parmesean
Fresh Pesto and Pasta (Pasta and Red Sauce for the kids)
Tomato Basil Soup with toasted rosemary sourdough bread
Green Eggs and Ham (Made with spinach)

Snacks and Sides
fresh fruit
Wheatberry Salsa
roasted zucchini with caramelized tomatoes
fresh veggies and dip
green salad

And the winner of I Dare You to Eat It by Liesa Card is April Evans. Congrats! Now you are on your way to tasty and realistic adventures with food storage. Stay tuned for another giveaway later this week.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Food Storage Friday: Baked Apple Pancakes

I based this recipe off one that I found in a food storage cookbook a few years ago. I know I found it in a food storage cookbook, but that doesn't mean that I would consider a food storage recipe since the only food storage ingredients that it called for were white flour, white sugar and spices. That's not really using your food storage, those are just common baking ingredients. It's like saying that living off Cheetos and breadsticks makes you a vegetarian. All-purpose white wheat flour is not meant for long term storage, it loses it's nutritional value too quickly. This dish is however tasty, and I changed the recipe so that it does actually incorporate food storage ingredients by substituting oat flour. I make my own oat flour by throwing oats in the blender for 10 seconds. Oats have a significantly longer shelf life than white flour. I make this whenever I have apples that have gone a little soft, but haven't gone bad yet. It is a favorite of Thing 1's. As I am currently doing the pantry challenge I used powdered eggs from my food storage. This time I used almond milk, but I have also made this with reconstituted powdered milk and it has worked just fine.

Baked Apple Pancake
Food Storage Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash nutmeg
1 cup oat flour
1 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar (optional)
maple syrup (optional)
1 heaping tablespoon ground flax seed (optional)

Fresh Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons butter
2 apples, cored and diced
1 cup milk
6 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 2. In a frying pan saute diced apples with butter, cinnamon and sugar until tender. Transfer to a sprayed cooking pan. 3. In a blender whip eggs, flour, milk, salt, nutmeg and flax seed. Pour over cooked apples. 4. Bake for 16-18 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar or top with syrup. Serves 6 and reheats well.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Preparedness Wednesday: December in Review

Oops! Took the kids to the pediatrician this morning and had this set to publish automatically before I finished it. 
For those of you just tuning in, every week of 2011 I tried to do something to get my house in order (fix things, get out of debt, etc.) and purchase something to add to my emergency supply. If you are interested in following deals as I find them I post them on my public facebook profile.

  • Installed a coat hook rack in my entry way. *Hopefully* this will make finding coats and getting out the door a little easier.
  • Did a little research on supplies that are good to have in an emergency. Besides food, water, and toilet paper, a few suggestions that I repeatedly saw included: iodine water tablets, tarps, solar blankets and a shovel. I also bought some heavy duty plastic pins to put these items into.
  • Bought several plastic bins to put toys in. At some point I will have enough time and motivation to organize all of the toys, so they will be in these bins and not on the floor. Someday...
Emergency Preparedness:
  • Pompeian Olive Oil- $3.99 for 48 oz @ Albertson's
  • case of Charmin from Amazon- 21 cents per roll
  • more peanut butter from Amazon- I can't remember how much it cost, but when I signed up for it to come automatically it was a great deal.
  • brown rice- $13 for 20 lbs @ Costco
  • #10 can of freeze-dried strawberries- $8.79 @ Costco

Monday, January 2, 2012

$100 Challenge and Menu Week 1

Happy New Year everyone!
 So it's a new year and one of my resolutions is to organize (and maintain) my pantry. In order to do this I need to clean it out, which from what I've read is something that you should do once a year anyway. So I'm going to try to live off my pantry this month and to make it slightly more realistic I'm giving myself a budget of $100 for groceries (food storage meals go down easier with some fresh produce). So this month I'll give you a rundown of how much I'm spending and what we're eating. Hopefully it will give you some ideas to use your own food storage and save some money. And there will be prizes!
 So here's what we're eating this week. (I have to have multiple meals sometimes because my husband is a vegetarian and I have my own dietary restrictions.) On weekends and holidays, I tend to make big batches of breakfast foods like waffles and use the leftovers throughout the next week. This week I'm also focusing on using a lot produce that's in my fridge.

Pumpkin Waffles
Baked Apple Pancakes
cold cereal

mac and cheese (for the kids)

BBQ Chicken and Wheat Salad (without the chicken)
Stir-fried Green Beans & Brown Rice and Tropical Sweet Potato Casserole
Hawaiian Haystacks
Red Pepper Pesto and Pasta
Taco Soup (Vegetarian style)

Wheatberry Salsa and chips
fresh apples
canned peaches
crackers and cheese

Now for this weeks giveaway: I'm going to give away a copy of I Dare You To Eat It by Liesa Card. This is my favorite food storage book. If you have no idea where to start with your food storage, this book is a great starting place. It's full of tips and ideas that make using your food storage feasible. Here's what you have to do to enter:

  1. Be a follower of Secrets of Mom (required) and comment on this post.
  2. Join the $100 Challenge and comment.
  3. Share your favorite food storage recipe.
  4. Share this post on twitter.
The winner will be chosen using a random number generator. The giveaway ends at midnight on Sunday January 8, 2012. The winner will be announced Monday morning. Keep checking for more recipes and giveaways throughout the month.