Southwest Baked Ravioli

Ravioli

By Liz

Don’t you love one pot dinners?  After a long week of homemaking and spending most of my Friday’s house cleaning in time for the weekend, this is my favorite way of cooking on a Friday night; the only thing that would beat it would obviously be take out.

However, if you are like me, having to use many dishes to prepare dinner on ANY night of the week, is too many. Any chance to cook a one pot meal is always a win in our house, because, let’s face it, dirty dishes are not anyone’s passion.

Here is a simple, cost effective, filling, one pot dish that was a big hit with my brood:

Southwest Baked Ravioli

Ingredients

16 ounce jar salsa, mild (or hot, depending on how you and your family like it)

10¾ ounce can tomato sauce

½ teaspoon ground cumin

28 ounce bag cheese ravioli, frozen

1 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1 ½ cups frozen corn

½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

½ cup green onion (about 1 bunch), thinly sliced

2 cup sharp cheddar cheese or Mexican blend, shredded

Sour cream and fresh avocado chunks for topping (optional)

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Mix salsa, tomato sauce and cumin together in a bowl.

3. Spread ½ cup of salsa sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 11 baking dish.

4. Layer frozen ravioli over the sauce.

5. Layer black beans and corn over the ravioli.

6. Pour remaining sauce over the black beans and corn.

7. Sprinkle cilantro and green onion over the sauce.

8. Layer cheeses on top.

9. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.

10. Remove cover and bake for 5-10 minute more or until cheese has melted and begins to bubble.

11. Serve with a little sour cream, pico de gallo and avocado chunks.

Due to the size of my family of 7, I double this recipe when I make it, but the above should keep a family of 4 more than satisfied.

Enjoy the printable recipe card below and give it a try and let me know what you think.

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Southwest Baked Ravioli
Serves 4
A Tex-Mex twist on an Italian favorite.
Write a review
Print
854 calories
86 g
111 g
44 g
37 g
22 g
703 g
1652 g
20 g
0 g
18 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
703g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 854
Calories from Fat 383
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 44g
67%
Saturated Fat 22g
111%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 15g
Cholesterol 111mg
37%
Sodium 1652mg
69%
Total Carbohydrates 86g
29%
Dietary Fiber 18g
70%
Sugars 20g
Protein 37g
Vitamin A
60%
Vitamin C
43%
Calcium
71%
Iron
34%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 16 ounce jar salsa, mild (or hot, depending on how you and your family like it)
  2. 10¾ ounce can tomato sauce
  3. ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  4. 28 ounce bag cheese ravioli, frozen
  5. 1 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  6. 1 ½ cups frozen corn
  7. ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  8. ½ cup green onion (about 1 bunch), thinly sliced
  9. 2 cup sharp cheddar cheese or Mexican blend, shredded
  10. Sour cream and fresh avocado chunks for topping (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix salsa, tomato sauce and cumin together in a bowl.
  3. Spread ½ cup of salsa sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 11 baking dish.
  4. Layer frozen ravioli over the sauce.
  5. Layer black beans and corn over the ravioli.
  6. Pour remaining sauce over the black beans and corn.
Notes
  1. You can make this dish as mild or as hot as you like.
beta
calories
854
fat
44g
protein
37g
carbs
86g
more
The Fort Worth Homemaker http://thefortworthhomemaker.com/


Easy Cheesy Danish Recipe

danish

By Liz

Our Monday through Fridays are rush, rush, rush but thankfully come Saturday mornings, our vibe in the house is relaxed.  I treat the family with some sort of continental breakfast one day a week making it interesting and tasty for them, and really easy for me.

On this day of the week, our breakfast usually includes fresh coffee, juice and some sort of pastry that was either store bought or just really easy to make.  Here is the pastry I made this past, dreary, rainy Saturday.

I doubled this recipe for my large brood to make a total of 16 Danish, however, the recipe below is for 8 Danish.

cheesy-danish

Easy Cheesy Danish

*Makes 8 Danish

Ingredients:

1 can of crescent rolls

4oz cream cheese (softened)

¼ cup Granulated Sugar

½ tsp. lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*Fruit jam or jelly, optional

Instructions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

cheesy-danish

2. Beat together the cream cheese, lemon juice, sugar, & vanilla.

3. Remove the crescent dough from the tube. Do not separate into triangles! Slice the roll of crescent dough into 8 rounds. Place the rounds on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

cheesy-danish

4. Press an indentation in the center of each crescent round with your fingers. Fill the indentations with a big dollop of cream then a small addition of jam or jelly if desired.

5. Bake at 350 for 16 to 18 minutes, rotating pan during ½ time of cooking (8 minutes).

cheesy-danish

6. Serve warm or at room temp.

7. Store any leftovers in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Enjoy the printable recipe card below.


Easy Cheesy Danish
Serves 8
Delicious and easy morning pastry.
Write a review
Print
88 calories
9 g
17 g
5 g
1 g
3 g
26 g
64 g
7 g
0 g
1 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
26g
Servings
8
Amount Per Serving
Calories 88
Calories from Fat 46
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g
8%
Saturated Fat 3g
14%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 17mg
6%
Sodium 64mg
3%
Total Carbohydrates 9g
3%
Dietary Fiber 0g
0%
Sugars 7g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A
4%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
2%
Iron
1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 can of crescent rolls
  2. 4 oz. cream cheese (softened)
  3. ¼ cup sugar
  4. ½ tsp. lemon juice
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. *Fruit jam or jelly, optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat together the cream cheese, lemon juice, sugar, & vanilla.
  3. Remove the crescent dough from the tube. Do not separate into triangles! Slice the roll of crescent dough into 8 rounds. Place the rounds on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
  4. Press an indentation in the center of each crescent round with your fingers. Fill the indentations with a big dollop of cream then a small addition of jam or jelly if desired.
  5. Bake at 350 for 16 to 18 minutes, rotating pan during ½ time of cooking (8 minutes).
  6. Serve warm or at room temp.
Notes
  1. Store any leftovers in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
beta
calories
88
fat
5g
protein
1g
carbs
9g
more
The Fort Worth Homemaker http://thefortworthhomemaker.com/

 

Do you have to much Stuff?

 

chaos

By Liz

“Everybody’s gotta have a little place for their stuff. That’s all life is about. Trying to find a place for your stuff.” — George Carlin

When I was making my first cup of coffee this morning, I went to retrieve a coffee mug from my see through glass paneled pantry cabinet and as I looked up, noticed that these cabinets were housing an array of coffee mugs, vases, cookbooks, pitchers, popcorn bowls and several other items that don’t get used on a regular basis and while my coffee was brewing, I thought to myself, “I really need to weed out all the junk in these two cabinets”. After I poured my coffee, I thought about the cabinet space directly below it that is closer to the floor.  That space is occupied by more cookbooks, large serving trays that only come out on holidays, old food storage containers and place-mats.  I realized that we only really use 2 of the cookbooks on a regular basis that occupy the space in these cabinets and maybe 2 or 3 sets of the place mats come out into regular rotation.

stuff

So I started to make a mental inventory of what I could get rid of from that space, but as I was making that list in my mind, I would veer off to the unused tablecloths and tea set in my dining room sideboard and the pile of refrigerator magnets in my junk drawer and some of the Christmas presents that I received months earlier still sitting in their original boxes on a shelf in my bedroom closet. All of a sudden, I was feeling completely overwhelmed and my head was spinning with thoughts of where I should start this purge?, and when do I have the time?,  and just like that, it usually gets put on the waaaay back burner and this exercise is in jeopardy of not getting accomplished.

My husband, myself and our brood moved into our current house, only a few short years ago.  Our previous house was approximately 1600 square foot, and as the kids started to get much bigger, we always seemed to be on top of one another. So we moved into our current house that has approximately 2800 square feet, much better when it comes to breathing room and personal space for all of us. When we were getting ready to move from our old house, we needed to get rid of a lot of stuff, after all, there were many years of accumulated crap.  We had at least two garage sales, donated countless boxes of clothes and household items and threw out bag after bag of trash, and this was all before we even packed our first moving box. At the time, it was overwhelming and a huge hassle.  I never wanted to have that undertaking again.




I dislike clutter and as I have mentioned before, my home decorating style is minimalist. There are not a lot of knick knacks donning the flat surfaces in the rooms of my house, simply because I despise cleaning all of it.  However, it appears as though my closet and cabinet spaces area a different story. So, because I didn’t learn my lesson during the time of our move, we apparently, still have a huge abundance of stuff.

The problem is the thought of spending the time to go through it to get rid of it.  When I think about it; I get discouraged and feel completely overwhelmed.  I know I have to do it, but it becomes something I procrastinate on. However, then it becomes this double edged sword, and then seeps into my thoughts, day and night and I think…”yeah…I really have to get to that”.

Yes, I am aware of the “one in…one out method” and I really do try to adhere to that, and I also am very aware of designating a specific day to tackling this clutter dilemma. The problem is working up the ambition to do it, because that feels like such a massive undertaking.

So I have decided to take a slightly different approach.  This upcoming weekend, I plan on picking up at least 2 moving boxes, assembling them and come Monday afternoon, plop them down in the middle of my kitchen, bedroom closet or in the middle of my living room.  I am going to start my timer and give myself 30 minutes to physically touch items and determine if it is something that has seen the light of day in the past 6 months and if it stays where it is, goes into the box designated for donation or the box marked for trash.  When my 30 minutes is up, I will be done with this exercise for the day and I will put the boxes into the garage and if they are not full, pull them out on Tuesday, Wednesday, etc…until the two boxes are full.

car

Once I have filled the two boxes, they will go to their final destinations either out on the curb on trash day, or dropped off to the donation bin at our closest Goodwill.  Then I will repeat the process the following week.  Even though it is going to take me quite some time to go through my house using this method, I know that I will still feel a sense of accomplishment and I will be achieving my goal of decluttering my “stuff”, albeit 30 minutes at a time, and I will certainly be making a more contentious effort, while I am out….not to bring home more stuff!




My Menu Planning System

 

schedule

By Liz

I often get asked how I come up with a variety of nutritious, delicious, cost efficient meals for me and my family of 7. Unlike most meal and money saving plans, we really, really like to have variety. So one thing that you might notice here, is we don’t have pizza or rice and beans on our menu once a week, each of those is more like once a month.

My system maybe old school, but it is what works best for us.  On our fridge, there are two empty, monthly, block style calendars.  One is for the kids to post their work schedules and school hours and any kind of extra activity that may arise that is out of the norm.  The other is used for dinner planning, as it is the main meal in our house. Also on our fridge is a note pad to be used when I do our weekly grocery shopping.  This is a running list of items that we are either out of, or we are low on.  I have tried to challenge myself to go grocery shopping once a month, but our family goes through a lot of milk, fresh fruit and vegetables.

For our family of 7 we have the fridge in our kitchen, however, its design lacks optimal storage space on the inside, but it came with the house, so it is ours until it dies. We also have an extra fridge that is in our garage that holds mostly beverages, overflow of milk, eggs, juice and coffee creamer as well as meat that needs to be thawed or cut to portion size pieces; the top freezer portion contains bread, rolls, bagels muffins and buns.  In addition we have a 12 cubic foot chest freezer that holds primarily meat, batch cooked meals, ice cream, frozen vegetables and any kind of convenience food that we found worth our hard earned dollars and passes our personal, nutritional guidelines. Also worth mentioning is that we have a good size walk in pantry for all of our dry goods and staples.




Once a week, I will sit down with the kids’ and menu planning calendars and start filling in my dinner menu. I will browse my chest freezer for meat, chicken or fish, check my vegetables and dry goods to pair it with and start building my week of menus. Since the kids’ schedule is ever changing, I do this on a weekly and not a monthly basis, but it is nice to see what we had to eat in a month’s time. It also helps me fill out my running grocery list. If I am in need of an ingredient or will be using the last of a staple, then up on the list it goes.

I don’t plan out our breakfasts. Our house contains mostly adults and not all of us are morning people. I myself, rarely eat breakfast, I know it is the most important meal of the day, but I have always struggled with eating in the mornings.  I am good with just a cup of coffee or two. Some of the family however does like eating early in the morning and because of that there is always a supply of eggs, fruit, bread, jam, peanut butter, oatmeal, yogurt, premade muffins, breakfast sandwiches or burritos (that I make up in batches every two weeks).  We do share a weekly breakfast together, after Sunday service; I will cook brunch for the family that usually consists of a meat, toast, potatoes and eggs made to order, fresh hot coffee, juice and or milk. Once a month I will make either French toast or pancakes served with fresh fruit in place of the toast and potatoes.

Lunches are not planned out either, due to different schedules.  Our house has a revolving door between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to midnight, between work, school and socialization. So our lunches tend to be mostly leftovers, either as is or reworked a little. For instance, if the previous night we had chicken or steak, lunch then becomes either fajitas or quesadillas or if we have leftover baked potatoes from the night before, this easily becomes a broccoli and cheese stuffed potato for lunch.  We also, always have tuna, peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese on hand in case someone wants a sandwich.

market

My system makes it easy for me make the most of the money we spend on groceries. Since we have a freezer full of bread products, I only shop for this once a month. Since we have a freezer full of meat, I only pick more up if I come across a great deal (and I usually do) during my shopping trip. Since we have extra fridge space in the garage, I can stock up on milk, juice and eggs for the week and since we have pantry space, I can stock up on dry goods when they have reached rock bottom prices.

I love to cook and even though I have a formal education in culinary arts, it is not always very practical when operating a large household.  My menu planning contains mainly easy, healthy dishes that require minimum ingredients, time and most important….minimal clean up. Again, it might not work for all, but this is what works for us.




Five Frugal Friday

piggy-bank

By Liz

This was an odd week here; the weather took on a very bi-polar tone.  The beginning of the week we saw severe storms with tennis ball size hail, mid week we pushed a 90 degree, muggy day, then the next day the weather was cloudy and we did not break the 60 degree mark. The household seemed to be in tune with the weather as well, the week went by pretty quickly, although it felt like I did not do much or get much accomplished.

Well despite the instability of the week, I still managed to do 5 frugal things before Friday:

books

1. I  went to the library and checked out a book “The Color Purple”, by Alice Walker and the movie.  I finished the book and was able to find time to re-watch this wonderful movie. (Maybe this is part of the reason I did not get much accomplished this week).

cake-mix

2. My husband came home from the grocery store with 4 boxes of discounted Ghiradelli, dark chocolate, cake mix. They had been marked down to 75 cents each.  So I pulled up my recipe for 3 ingredient muffins and used one of the mixes to make a batch.

sophie

3. As much as she hates, it; I hate it even more….I trimmed my dog, Sophie’s nails instead of taking her to the groomer to do it.  Sophie has black nails, so it is really hard to see the quick and I am always afraid I am going to cut her.

nail-bag

4. Gave myself a pedicure.  Every 2 to 3 weeks (depending on how long the color lasts), I make a fresh cup of coffee, (sometimes have a glass of wine) put on a movie, and get my nail bag out and settle in to pamper my toes.

money

5. I had managed to come under my cash budget for groceries. I still had a whopping $17.00 to spare.  I know this does not sound like much, but whenever this happens, the remaining cash goes into our “secondary house fund”.  Scoff all you want but, it adds up over time.

So that is my fiver for the week, what did yours look like?




50 Pound Weight Loss, 10 Minutes at a Time

weight-loss-01

By Liz

No one needs to tell you how to save money, the equation is simple, spend less than you earn. The same common sense formula applies to weight loss, burn more calories than you consume. It is that simple. You have to eat in moderation and you have to exercise.

However, in today’s, quick and convenient world, many of us choose to find the fastest, easiest and in many cases costliest ways to achieve weight loss. Procedures such as; starvation diets, diet pills, meal replacement shakes,  bariatric surgery, gastric bypass surgery, cool sculpting, diet food subscriptions, and the list goes on and on and so do the prices.

weight-loss-04Unfortunately, many of the above named procedures are not always a success story.  For instance, when I worked in the white collar world, I knew of 2 rather large women who had both undergone the costly, surgical route.  While at first, they each seemed to be melting away in front of our eyes, as they had each approached their one year anniversary date of their procedures, their old lifestyle ways were back and so was the weight. They were once again, back to a sedentary lifestyle, in addition to poor eating habits.  Not only did each of these ladies gain the weight back they had lost, they had both gained extra to boot.

I too, like so many, struggle with my weight, I always have and I probably always will.  I never had the resources for any of the above methods of losing weight and I probably never will.

About a year ago, I had to undergo total knee replacement surgery.  No big shocker, at the time, I was overweight and according to my doctor, not by a little, but by about 50 pounds. He had explained to me that generally most patients get this operation done when they are in their 60’s and 70’s because this kind of procedure should really be done only once in one’s lifetime.  Due to me being only in my mid forties, this new knee was going to have to last me the rest of my life and for obvious reasons, the less weight it had to carry, the longer it was going to last me.  So, like it or not I had to lose weight.

I had put the surgery on hold for 3 months, because I wanted to lose at least 20 pounds before going under the knife and what they say is true; it DOES get harder to lose weight as you get older. I have never had an issue with the diet portion of my weight loss battles (except the will power segment at times).  I love to cook, and I have always been able to find or create lower calorie and lower fat food options without sacrificing flavor. Even with this knowledge, I am still aware, that whatever it is I eat, has to be in moderation and it has to be well balanced (you know what I am talking about; imagine the food pyramid image).

weight-loss-05

My downfall would always come by way of exercise. I hate to exercise. I can’t say that enough, so I will say it again, I hate to exercise!  I would rather scrub toilet bowls with a toothbrush than exercise.  However, being an intelligent woman, I know I have to. To me, it is a necessary evil in maintaining my health.

When my orthopedist told me I needed to lose weight, I took it seriously and maybe, finally, this was the wakeup call I needed to lose weight and maintain my weight loss for the long haul.  In the past, all of my weight loss attempts had been for pure vanity reasons but now my longevity health was at risk.

Anyone with knee problems will tell you, when you place stress on that joint, no matter how much or how little… it hurts. You might be fine while engaging in the exercise, but afterwards is a pain filled nightmare.  I was limited in the kinds of exercises I could do; this made the whole process even harder.

Swimming is the best option for people with joint problems, however, not everyone has access to a pool and joining a health club gets very pricey. Instead, I invested in an elliptical machine. The motion on my knee was fluent without the shocking impact on the joint that I would have gotten from walking or using a treadmill. So once it was assembled, there it sat in my bedroom, waiting to be used. I can’t tell you how many times I really just looked at that thing and wanted it to just become a clothes hanger, but I knew I had to start using it.

weight-loss-02

So one morning I decided it was time to start on this journey. I started off with no resistance setting at all.  I just needed to start moving.  I got on for 10 minutes.  The time went by rather quickly, considering it was so short, yes my knee was a sore afterwards, but it wasn’t horrible.  After lunch, I decided to do another 10 minutes, same feeling, same results, and then another set before dinner.  At the end of the day, I had done it; I had exercised for 30 minutes.  You can probably imagine that the next day, I was in pain! I did not use the elliptical that day, but the following day I did, I felt better and repeated the same 3; 10 minute interval way of exercising and kept up this method for months.

In the beginning, I was using my elliptical 3 times a week, 30 minutes a day in my 10 minute “exercise blasts”. After about 3 weeks of doing this, I noticed my body was starting to get used to the routine, and it didn’t hurt as much.  I decided to try to challenge myself.  I started doing my routine 4 times a week.  My eating habits were also improving and after about 6 weeks of eating well and some regular exercise, I got on the scale to see that I had lost 7 pounds.  I know, a lot of you are saying “that’s it!” But I tell you this, it was a true 7 pounds, it wasn’t water weight so I knew it wasn’t coming back after only a few days.



My surgery was scheduled almost 4 months to the day I originally gone to see my orthopedist, and by that time, I had managed to lose 25 pounds.  I was still only half way to my ultimate goal. The recovery was long and I won’t lie, physical therapy was hard and painful.  I think it was “tough love” on their behalf, because I was so young to have had this procedure, my therapy sessions were rigorous. During that time, physical therapy had replaced my use of the elliptical.  I was going to the therapists’, 3 times a week, for 3 months, plus I was doing some of the exercises they taught me at home. Oh and did I mention that my orthopedist wanted me to be walking at least 30 minutes a day? (Yeah…he was tough). So there I was, each night, my husband by my side and me clinging to my walker, taking a 30 minute walk in my neighborhood and re-learning how to walk.  You can imagine that in the beginning, I was moving at a snail’s pace, it would take me 30 minutes to go 4 houses up and 4 houses back, it did not seem as though I was gaining much ground.  Funny thing though, after a few weeks, I noticed I could go 8 houses up and back in 30 minutes.  I finally lost the walker and in another few weeks and I could make it all the way up the street and back in 30 minutes, and so on and so on, I just needed to stay at it and after some time, I was able to go farther and longer.

I am proud to say that 8 months after my surgery, I had reached my weight loss goal.  I had lost a total of 50 pounds with sheer diet, exercise and time; no magic formula, no weight loss surgery, no starving or depriving myself, no harsh workouts that push me into the ground,  just a plain old common sense approach.

weight-loss-08I am glad to say, that I don’t mind exercising so much anymore.  I just needed to find the right exercise for me, one that I enjoy and doesn’t feel like a chore to me.  I have since replaced my elliptical with a stationary bike (recommended by my orthopedist to ensure flexibility and mobility in my knee).  In addition to using this piece of home equipment, (still in 10 minute intervals…..hey, I’m not a fanatic!) I take regular daily walks with and without my dog, most of the time while listening to music, but sometimes, just to take in the sights, sounds and glory of nature and use it as the “me time” part of my day.

Most people that struggle with weight loss want instant results.  That is unrealistic. Think about it, you didn’t instantaneously gain the weight; it took time to put it on, so why would one think taking the weight off would be different?  I now know and understand the severity of maintaining my current weight and I am fully aware that my lifestyle must contain movement and moderation each and every day all in efforts for a long and healthy life.




Savoring Coffee and the Weekend

french-press

By Liz

Like most, our Mondays through Fridays are extremely hectic. That’s not to say that our weekends aren’t busy either, but we tend to tackle those two glorious days with more of a laid back vibe.

Even though we are family that tries to tighten our belts every chance we get, we do have some luxuries that we enjoy.  As I have mentioned in a previous article, my husband gave me a Keurig coffee machine many Christmases ago that gets a lot of use in our house as you can imagine with the 7 of us.  In fact, it seems as though our Keurig is always hard at work brewing a cup of coffee, tea or cocoa.  What I like most about it, is that it produces a hot, fresh cup of whatever our palates are craving at any particular time.  For example, I enjoy a regular medium roast cup of coffee, my husband enjoys hazelnut coffee, while the older boys enjoy some very strong, alternate flavored, gourmet coffees (that they buy with their own money) and while our teens turn their beverages into iced coffees now and then, they mostly stick to cocoa.




When my hubby and I got married, we received a French Press coffee pot as one of our gifts. It was the first time I had tried a cup of coffee from a French Press.  At the time, I was skeptical, because it reminded me so much of the same process used when making instant or peculated coffee, which is what I grew up on, needless to say, I was not a huge fan of either of those methods back in the day, but it was all we had. But from that very first sip of coffee that was brewed from the French Press coffee pot….I was hooked. The aroma, the intense, smooth flavor, the rich color….OMG!! I was in café heaven!

Mondays through Fridays, I start my days at 6:00 a.m. with a fresh cup of coffee every morning, brewed from my Keurig. While my Keurig is starting up, I will flip open my laptop, log on and start checking emails, start to work on an article for my blog, throw in a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher, etc… before the rest of my brood even starts wiping the sleep crud from their eyes.  On an average day, I typically enjoy 2, sometimes 3 cups most mornings, another cup late in the afternoon and sometimes a cup at lunch, depending on what is on the menu.




Weekends however are another story when it comes to java. I sleep in on Saturday and Sundays (usually until about 6:45 a.m.) on these 2 days, my beloved French Press Coffee pot comes out.  I brew a fresh, hot pot of coffee and then spend some overdue, quality time, relaxing and enjoying my java.  Depending on what kind of weekend it is, I pair my cup of coffee with a good book and a blanket, curled up on the couch. Then there are times when I sip on my java and watch an old movie; but my favorite is when the weather cooperates, I will sit out on my back patio and just enjoy another beautiful day that God has created, just taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the fresh morning air while sipping on my cup of heaven.

After well over a decade in the corporate world, which also included those rushed,” squeeze in all those tasks on the weekends because you were working all week”, and even now, though I am our COO and Home Manager, of a hustling and bustling household,  I purposely find time to savor the flavor of my coffee and weekend mornings.




Food Subscription Boxes

mail-box

By Liz

Talk about all things trendy.  If you haven’t seen or heard about food subscription boxes yet, then you must be living under a rock. This is not a new concept, I mean, take Omaha Steaks for instance…they have been around since 1917.  But nowadays you can get just about any kind of food, delivered to your door with easy step by step instructions, with little to no waste and without the hassle of visiting your grocery store to pick up the ingredients.

Types of boxes available are fruits, vegetables, and snacks, jerky, chocolate, bacon, cheese, full meals, seasonal, regional and the list goes on and on.

Sorry to say, I think this trend, is a waste of your hard earned money!

We as a society already spend so much money on food, whether going out to eat or at our local grocery store(s), so it seems to me that this kind of service is really irrelevant.  However, like most trends, these companies are trying to convince you, that you need their product to be hip, trendy, creative, and money savvy; but do you really need their help?

I decided to do some research on these companies, because many of my fellow, “frugal” bloggers have wonderful things to say about them, (although, I personally believe that if you are calling yourself a “frugal or money saving” blogger and promote or purchase these kinds of subscriptions…..you’ve missed the mark).

There are so many companies trying to cash in on this latest trend, it is overwhelming, so I decided to just concentrate on just produce boxes, but most of this information also applies to most of the other subscription boxes and this is what I have discovered:

produce

1. Many are locally based, so they might not deliver to your zip code, or you will be paying very high shipping costs for this convenience.

2. Your going to pay for this kind of convenience, anywhere from $11 to $110 (and these are prices for produce boxes).

3. Most offer both traditional or organic products.

4. You really don’t get what you pay for. If you were to do a price comparison, you would see that in most cases, you are paying double and in some cases, triple what it would cost you at the grocery store for the same or very similar products.

5. Packaging can sometimes be environmentally unfriendly. Some of the organic products being purchased, come packaged so as they are not bruised or damaged; all well and good, but many of the materials used for packaging, are not good for mother earth. (Ironic…..huh?)

6. Some of the produce subscription services are selling “recovered”, produce, meaning fruits and vegetables that are perfectly fine to eat, but would have otherwise been thrown away. It’s often discarded because of aesthetic imperfections or logistical inefficiencies. They don’t try to hide this; in fact, for some it is on the main page of their website.




So it has been pointed out to me is that these kinds of services  are helping local farmers and business owners  not to mention the convenience it brings to the consumer of not having to go the store to pick these items out for themselves.  My argument is this….you have to go to the grocery store anyway, right? So while you are there picking up the myriad of other items on your list, why aren’t you taking a few extra minutes to purchase fresh, traditional or organic produce from the same place you shop in the first place?

farmers-market

It has also been argued that these kinds of services offer more natural choices, help many with diet restrictions due to health, and offer step by step instructions with just the right amount of ingredients to make a gourmet meal at home.  My argument for this is the following:  just about everyone owns or has access to a cookbook, (these resources also come with step by step instructions) or the internet, which offers an endless supply of recipes.  Natural and organic produce can be found not only at your local grocery store(s), but also at specialty stores and especially local farmer’s markets.

No matter how old I get, I am always looking for ways to save money, as much money as I can, because my dream is to retire with my husband somewhere close to the ocean and be able to travel, volunteer, relax, and really to just wake up on any given day and do whatever we want, when we want.  We don’t want to realize one day that we don’t have enough for our retirement, and we have to keep working until we are 75 or 80 years old, or that any one medical condition that myself or my husband might encounter down the road, will wipe us out financially.  So we are all about saving as many pennies as we can for as long as we can. My husband and I are both foodies, and we both enjoy cooking, but we also know that, throwing money away on the latest band wagon of what is hip and trendy today, will not help us achieve our goals for tomorrow.

couple

If you too are financially conscience, and not only want to eat healthy, but well; I suggest that rather than subscribe to one of these, trendy, overpriced and under stocked box services, you should take a little time each week, plan out a few meals, list your ingredients, purchase only what you need for these dishes and keep the money you have saved in your wallet.




Open Faced Portabella Salmon Burgers

 

salmon

by Liz
This is one of my new favorites and is a quick and healthy lunch. As usual, the idea of this recipe came to me while looking around my fridge, thinking I really had to use up some of the stuff in there.

I use salmon burger patties for this recipe, but you could easily swap this out for a veggie, black bean or a regular beef burger….whatever your preference.

salmon

Ingredients:

2 frozen salmon burger patties

2 large portabella mushroom caps

2 slices of cheese (I used Muenster and Pepper Jack)

Fresh Spinach leaves (optional)

Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat oven (I used my toaster oven) to 325 degrees.

2. Wipe mushrooms clean of debris or dirt (never rinse a mushroom, it will make it soggy).  With a spoon gently scrape off as much of the mushroom gills without digging into the meat of the mushroom, on the underside of the cap and level out any protruding stem pieces.

salmon

3. Place cap topside down on your lined baking sheet and lightly spray the gill side up with an oil, non stick spray.  Lightly season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Bake portabellas until slightly soft about 7 to 10 minutes.  Set baking sheet aside and let cool momentarily.

salmon

4. Meanwhile, in a non stick pan, over medium to high heat, cook the salmon patties thoroughly on each side, and season each side lightly with salt and pepper. Salmon patties should cook at least 6 to 7 minutes on each side to ensure proper doneness.

salmon

5. Place 3 to 4 spinach leaves on each, cooled mushroom cap. Then slide a burger patty on to each portabella.  Top with cheese slices (any kind will do). Place back into the oven for another 3 minutes to melt the cheese.

6. Serve immediately and enjoy by itself, or with a side salad.

salmon

This lunch is oddly satisfying, because of the protein of the burger patty and the “meatiness” taste and texture of the portabella.  This recipe is not only good for lunch, but makes for a really good dinner option as well.

Enjoy the printable recipe card below.



Open Faced Portabella Salmon Burgers
Serves 2
A healthy twist for a burger.
Write a review
Print
359 calories
24 g
52 g
20 g
25 g
7 g
370 g
541 g
3 g
0 g
10 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
370g
Servings
2
Amount Per Serving
Calories 359
Calories from Fat 180
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 20g
31%
Saturated Fat 7g
37%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 7g
Cholesterol 52mg
17%
Sodium 541mg
23%
Total Carbohydrates 24g
8%
Dietary Fiber 5g
21%
Sugars 3g
Protein 25g
Vitamin A
325%
Vitamin C
80%
Calcium
39%
Iron
35%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 2 frozen salmon burger patties
  2. 2 large portabella mushroom caps
  3. 2 slices of cheese (I used Muenster and Pepper Jack)
  4. Fresh Spinach leaves (optional)
  5. Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven (I used my toaster oven) to 325 degrees.
  2. Wipe mushrooms clean of debris or dirt (never rinse a mushroom, it will make it soggy). With a spoon gently scrape off as much of the mushroom gills without digging into the meat of the mushroom, on the underside of the cap and level out any protruding stem pieces.
  3. Place cap topside down on your lined baking sheet and lightly spray the gill side up with an oil, non stick spray. Lightly season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Bake portabellas until slightly soft about 7 to 10 minutes. Set baking sheet aside and let cool momentarily.
  4. Meanwhile, in a non stick pan, over medium to high heat, cook the salmon patties thoroughly on each side, and season each side lightly with salt and pepper. Salmon patties should cook at least 6 to 7 minutes on each side to ensure proper doneness.
  5. Place 3 to 4 spinach leaves on each, cooled mushroom cap. Then slide a burger patty on to each portabella. Top with cheese slices (any kind will do). Place back into the oven for another 3 minutes to melt the cheese.
  6. Serve immediately and enjoy by itself, or with a side salad.
Notes
  1. Can also be made with a beef, tofu, veggie or black bean burgers.
beta
calories
359
fat
20g
protein
25g
carbs
24g
more
The Fort Worth Homemaker http://thefortworthhomemaker.com/

 

How to Heat your Home for Free…..or Almost Free




By Luis

It’s springtime and that means many things to many people; spring cleaning, landscaping, gardening and picnics.  All of those things conjure up bright and happy images for a multitude of people.  Springtime, for me, however get me thinking about heating up my house.

fire

Wait, before you click away let me explain.  My household loves a roaring fireplace during the cold dreary winter months.  If you do too, then you know exactly how wonderful it is to hear the crackle of a wood fire while basking in its radiant warmth.  This kind of heating source always comes with a price, most notably the cost of the firewood.

Anyone that has purchased firewood as a cord, half-cord, quarter-cord or even a prepackaged bundle from your local hardware store can agree that firewood is expensive! A cord of firewood is defined as cut firewood stacked 4ft. tall, 4ft. deep, and 8ft long.  Depending on the type of wood, a cord of firewood can range anywhere from $300 to $700 dollars.  That’s exactly why springtime to me means FREE firewood.

 


This is the time of year that several people perform tree trimming.  Some people trim their own trees; others hire someone to do the trimming, either way most are faced with the trouble of getting rid of those trimmings.  This leads to a win-win situation.  Many people will post online ads on sites such as Craigslist or Freecycle for “free firewood”; the only catch is that you have to go pick it up and haul it away, it might seem like quite the effort, but the payoff is the huge savings for free heat in the cold months that lie ahead.

I recently responded to such an online ad and after meeting with the homeowners, I learned they had trimmed 6 oak trees on their property and happily encouraged me to “take all you want”.  I loaded all our family van could carry which ended up being just over half a cord of oak (the best) firewood. My family enjoyed the free warmth of many a fires this past winter, and because this past season was unusually warm, we still have quite the large stockpile to start off this upcoming winter season.

spring-haul

So if you are willing to answer these ads, put in some muscle and bring home free firewood, whether a trunk-load, or pickup truck-load at a time; you can start to amass your own source of free winter heat  without paying the high prices of ordering firewood from a vendor.