Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Super Bowl Sliders

Man are these making my mouth water. Sliders are almost bite size gourmet burgers. Some restaurants have them on their menus. I make these up every once in a while and they are a big hit. My husband works for a bakery that makes these little tiny buns. If you can't find them in your local grocer then check out a local restaurant food supplier, like Cash n Carry (at least that is the name of ours), where restaurant owners purchase from. The general public are usually welcome to purchase too. You could also make them from scratch.

The Slider pictured is a sauteed mushroom and swiss with grilled onion that I had made (the slider looks big but is just sitting on a salad plate). They are just wonderful and are the hit of any party or family night. You can make a bunch up and have your guests top them with their favorite toppings. Other ideas that you could make are mini bacon burgers, sloppy joes, a chicken slider using half of a grilled chicken tender, chicken salad.... or what ever your hunger is in the mood for. My kids like Peanut Butter and Jelly Sliders, the perfect size for little hands or big mouths. You can't just eat one.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Fast Food Breakfast

I have three kids that love pancakes and french toast. Sometimes, I don't have the time to get out the griddle and begin breakfast with a big mess. So I spend a morning and make up about a 100 pancakes and about 75 slices of french toast. I love this idea because I make only one big mess in the kitchen. I let them cool on a wire rack then flash freeze them on cookie sheets (this way they won't stick together, when stacked). I stack them into gallon size Ziploc bags and freeze.

Whenever I need a quick fix breakfast for my toddlers I just grab a few from the freezer and pop them into the microwave. Our preteen loves getting them and microwaving them himself. We have even taken them with us on vacation. I don't buy the frozen brands from my grocery store anymore. You see.. Mama Angie makes them with love and they are cheaper to make too.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Plan C

We all have those days where we get so busy or we have forgotten to take something out to thaw for Dinner. Then you have to go to plan B which might be having to go to the store, go out to eat or it's soup and sandwiches for dinner. I have plan C on hand, and it sure comes in handy.
About every four months I brown up ten or twelve pounds of hamburger and/or ground turkey and season with Garlic Salt, Lawry's Seasoning and Parsley. Just enough to give it some taste. Then I drain beef in a mesh strainer. Let cool and package into Ziploc quart size bags, which is about a pound each. They stack flat in the freezer and are nice to have on hand.
In a pinch I grab a package from the freezer and thaw in the microwave in a matter of two minutes. I can throw it into some spaghetti sauce, or into a soup or casserole, or add some taco seasoning and have tacos or nachos. This really helps on those nights that you don't want to be in the kitchen very long and want to spend it with your family instead. It is my way of saving a step by being prepared in advance.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Getting ready to Garden

While at Michael's craft store I found more treasures in their bargain bins. I picked up a Gardener's Journal and metal plant label stakes. The journal was $5 and has tabs and sections for monthly calenders, notes, planning/planting grids to design your space, garden notes, photos, etc.. The metal labels were only $1 each and the gardening gloves were free (I got them at a home and garden show). I'm going to enjoy my new treasures this Spring and Summer. These would make a good gift for some one for less than $10.00, just toss in a gift bag or flower pot with a couple of packets of seeds and whaalah!

P.S. They also had a Travelers Journal for those who would like to journal about their trips and adventures and add their photos too.
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Shopping Treasures

This week I stopped in at my local Michael's craft store. I had some spare time to take a look at their newly opened location, and wanted to see what deals they had. I am in the process of cleaning out drawers and the area where our homework/sewing station is, that is in my kitchen. I am looking to do a makeover of sorts and am trying to find some spring colors. At Michael's I found a long isle with bargain bins with prices ranging from .50 cents to $7.00

Everything pictured here was only $1.00 each. I found weekly menu planners, matching recipe cards and glass magnets. I bought enough for me and extras to give as gifts. For three dollars you can give someone a menu planner, recipe cards and a set of matching magnets. That is a great frugal idea and gift. If you are crafty you could make a apron to go with the gift and maybe a wooden spoon or wisk from the dollar store.

I plan on making push pins for a message board out of the magnets with the birds and flowers. Of course I plan on making the message board too, if I can't locate just what I'm looking for. There were tons of other items but, I was trying to not spend too much. So another day awaits a frugal find of shopping treasures.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Homemade Croutons

What do you do with left over bread? I had made four loaves of garlic toast for a Spaghetti and Meatball Dinner/Potluck for a friends birthday and had this many slices of garlic toast leftover. Normally I would have just tossed them out into the garbage because cold buttered garlic toast is just nasty tasting. However.. I decided to be frugal and make croutons out of them. Since they were already seasoned and cold, I just sliced them into thin strips and then into cubes. I tossed them with a little olive oil and parsley and toasted them at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, turning twice. Once they were crispy I let them cool and then bagged them up in Ziploc bags. Since there was butter on them originally they needed to be used up within the week. I kept a bag and then gave a bag to a friend.

So save your day old bread or left over garlic toast and make croutons out of them. Great on salads or just snacking on.

Tri color Cauliflower, who knew?

Cauliflower doesn't come only in white anymore. I was at my local Grocery Outlet last week and noticed these colorful cauliflowers in lime green, purple and orange. The labels said rich in beta carotene and vitamins. I would assume they were colored from the juices of other veggies. I just had to buy them, because they were so beautiful and different. I thought that they would look lovely in a salad. Buying three will inspire me to research cauliflower recipes also. I plan on roasting some florets this week.

Do you have any ideas or recipes for cauliflower you want to share?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Chicken Corn Chowder

3 baked or boiled Chicken Breasts, sliced in semi-thin one inch slices
10 Fingerling Potatoes, sliced in rounds
1 cup of sliced Carrots
1 1/2 cups of Frozen Sweet Corn
2 cups of Cream
1 cup of Whole Milk
1 cup of shredded Cheddar Cheese (optional)
1/2 cup of bacon bits
Salt and Pepper to taste

Bring a pot of water to boil and add fingerling potatoes and carrots, simmer until fork tender. Drain most of the water leaving about 1/2 a cup of water. Add cream, milk and sweet corn and heat until hot. Add chicken, bacon and cheese and heat until hot. Salt and Pepper to taste.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Homemade Gifts are from the Heart

I know Christmas has passed, but I want to mention the homemade gifts I made this year for friends and family. Not only are they frugal they come from the heart. Homemade gifts are great to give and receive. You don't have to wait for Christmas to come around.. you can make some up and give them for birthdays, valentines day, secret friend gifts, welcome a new family to the neighborhood or even welcome a couple with a homemade gift for the birth of a child. There are so many possibilities.

For Christmas I made up several homemade and semi-homemade gifts for my friends. When they all came over for coffee and brunch I told them they each got to go shopping and pick out their gift. That way they could choose a gift that fits their need and desire. I had homemade fudge, bottles of olive oil, soup in a jar mixes, Winter Cocoa Jars, Pedicure sets, Movie Night In bags, and Mugs of Devotions and Decadence.

I found the soup in a jar mixes online. Some were Split Pea Soup, Confetti Bean soup and Cowboy Chili. I printed up the quick recipe and tied it on the jar with raffia. (I had received a Cookie in a Jar mix from a young friend that works for me and does house cleaning and yard work). The cocoa recipe I had for years and made up a few batches. I put them in plastic jars that I got at the dollar store and printed up instructions and tied it on with ribbon. The Pedicure sets had nail files, callus remover tool, nail polish and a mini bottle of sparkling cider in it. The Movie Night In had bags of microwave popcorn, big boxes of movie candy, individual popcorn tubs and mini cans of soda. I was going to add a movie rental gift card to them, but was trying to keep the cost down. The Mug of Devotions and Decadence was a large snowman or Santa mug with packets of gourmet flavored hot chocolates, cappuccino packet, hot apple cider packets, chocolate dipped biscotti and a Bible on CD (from the dollar store).

I also gave homemade gifts to our family. I put in jars of apple and pear butter that I made up in the Fall. I had made Carmel Corn with peanuts and made tags for them and called it "Koch Krunch" using our family's last name. I also put in bags of walnut fudge, the jars of soup mix and Winter Cocoa jars. I added some fragrant tea lights as well. They were frugal and from the heart, all made from love.

Our children received homemade gifts from their grandparents this year. Our pre-teen received a treasure box that was stained, had hinges, a lock and brass corner covers. He can use it as a secret storage box for his journal or treasures. The little ones received handmade wooden cars. All made by their Grandfather.

My Dad is a widow and my Uncle in Law is a bachelor and I found the perfect homemade gifts to give them. I made two big pots of Cowboy Chili and Navy Bean Soup (my Dad's favorites). I put two cups of hearty soup into disposable and microwaveable plastic containers and added a label and date on the top. I gave them each three which they can freeze and eat when ever they want. I put them in a gift bag. You can do this to stew, vegetable beef soup, etc.. What a great gift for a guy that doesn't cook much.

Do you know what is a good gift to give a couple that just brought home their newborn baby? A big tall jar of homemade soup. Wrap it in a receiving blanket, tie it at the top with ribbon and add a rattle for decoration. Remember to make the soup nursing friendly for the mom and baby, like Chicken Corn Chowder or Potato Soup. Stay away from Chili or Taco Soup, or spicy foods that can be discomforting.

A few years ago I received a knitted afghan from my Grandmother. It is absolutely beautiful. She made each of her girls one. She knitted all year long and made sure that we had something made from her to treasure forever.

There are so many other possibilities like knitted dish cloths, aprons, wooden toys, a meal, baked goods and treats, jams and jellies, home canned salsa, home sewn place mats and napkins etc... The ideas are endless. I think that we need to get back to the basics and make gifts from the heart that mean much more.

Do you have any homemade gift ideas that you want to brag about, that either you made or received?

Be Inspired to Make a gift from the heart.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Years Resolutions

Well it's that time of year to sit down and reflect on life. Time to reflect on the previous year and what was accomplished, what was put on the back burner, what made a difference, what would I want to change and what was most memorable? We shouldn't focus too much on the past but do need to reflect back on the year and then move on into the future.

And.. so the list begins for the New Year and our resolutions we want to focus on. Mine looks something like this. I have some direct ideas and then I have questions for myself that can be answered after some more in depth thought and prayer.

Spend more time with the Lord.
Spend more quality time with my children.
Schedule date nights and alone time with my hubby.
Create a schedule to get fit and healthy.
Lose weight so I can look great on my 40th b-day.
Read more and turn off the TV.
It's OK to say No or Sorry... I need to spend more quality time with my family.
Make changes in family traditions and holidays, to be more Christ Centered.

How can I be a better person and friend?
How can I help and/or donate my time to others?
How can I give back or pay it forward?
How can I make a difference in the lives of others?

These are just a few of the things on my list this year. What is important in your heart and life that you want to focus on or make changes in the New Year?

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year to all of you. How did you celebrate the New Year? We don't go out to parties or whoop it up on New Years Eve. We stay home as a family, have snacks, enjoy a special dinner and play games. Last night we had a Bowling tournament on our Wii. It was a lot of fun. I buy the kids a six pack of mini bottles of sparkling cider, and they get to use my fancy champagne glasses (from our wedding), it makes them feel special. We choose to not be out on the streets at night on New Years, knowing that others could be intoxicated and put our family at risk. It just makes more sense to us to stay home, be safe and enjoy our family.

Hope that you all enjoyed your New Years. We wish you many blessings and prosperity in 2009! God Bless.