Aug 30, 2012

Bacon Hater

My husband loves bacon! He could probably eat it every day and be perfectly content.

I hate bacon! I really do. But I love my husband. So I buy it and cook it every once in a while. When I cook it for my husband I close all the doors in our tiny home to keep the fumes as contained as possible. I also have to change my clothes if I smell of bacon. I know. I'm weird. But my husband doesn't mind too much because it means he gets my bacon as well as his.

I can eat bacon. But only if it is nice and crispy. Mr. WB doesn't understand this, but since he loves me he puts up with it. If the bacon is not up to my crispy standards he puts it out of it's misery for me.

I've discovered the best way to cook bacon is in the oven. It's easier to clean up and you don't get bacon fat burns nearly as often. To cook bacon in your oven line a baking sheet with foil, lay the bacon strips down on it, place it in your oven, and turn the oven on to 400*. Let the bacon cook for 17-20 min. (Shorter or longer depending on how quickly your oven heats up and how crispy you like your bacon.) For more tips or pictures click here.

All this talk of bacon has your stomach rumbling. I'm sorry. I promise I have a purpose. Thank you for your patience. It will pay off.

Introducing Mom's Chowder

Ingredients: 6 - 8 potatoes, 1/2 lb. bacon (cooked), 1 c. frozen corn, 1.5 - 2 c. milk, salt and pepper.

I love this recipe because it is super easy to make, delicious, and budget friendly. I usually make this chowder when I have potatoes that need to be used quickly, there is bacon in my house, or I just want to make a quick hearty meal.

Peel the potatoes, dice them into small wedges, add them to a pot of boiling water.
The smaller you dice them, the faster they cook. Add them gently because boiling water hurts when it splashes your skin.

Cook the potatoes until they are perfect for mashing. Drain the potatoes in a colander.
Potatoes are usually ready for mashing when you poke them with a fork and they break apart. But you don't want them to be too mushy or it can make draining them difficult. 

Pour the potatoes back into the pot. Mash them.
This job is usually given to my husband. :)

Add the corn. Gently stir in the milk.
The frozen corn should cook perfectly in the hot potatoes. Add the milk in slowly. I like my chowder nice and thick so I use less milk. Think loaded mashed potatoes. When my husband makes this recipe he adds a little more milk for a creamier soup texture. Find what works for you and your family.

Cut or tear the bacon into bite sized pieces. Throw them in the pot.
I always use kitchen scissors for this. (But then again I hate bacon.) Put as much bacon as you'd like in the pot. I usually cut off all the crispy parts and leave the wobblier parts of the bacon for my husband to snack on.

Add salt and pepper to taste.
You will need to add quite a bit of seasoning to counteract the potatoes. Please taste as you go along. There is nothing worse than an over seasoned meal.

Give it one last stir and serve.
Some people like to add cheese or green onions. But I love this chowder just as it is.

Tried my recipe? Have a tip to share? Let me know in the comments below. Thank you and enjoy!

For those of you that don't know I also blog about teaching at Life with Mrs. L. One of my teacher blogger friends is hosting a recipe linky party and I just had to contribute. See what else teachers are cooking up in the kitchen HERE.

Aug 27, 2012

Weekly Menu Plan - 8/27

Last week our favorite dish by far was Lion House's Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
Mr. WB and I both went back for seconds!

I cannot wait to break the leftovers out on a day when I don't feel like making dinner. I totally took a page from all the tips I read on Pinterest and tried freezing my leftovers. The most delicious looking hockey pucks I have ever seen. :) Just make sure you spray the pans down before you ladle the soup in so everything pops out in one piece.

This Week's Menu Plan

Monday: Mr. WB has it covered 

Can I tell you I have the best husband in the world? Because I totally do. Today he made me breakfast in bed, took me out to Indian food for lunch, and volunteered to make dinner. You know you are jealous. I love my man! 

Tuesday: Mom's Potato Corn Chowder 
Look for a recipe later in the week. It is one of my favorite meals to make. I plan to freeze the leftovers just like I did for the extra soup. Got to get ready for the baby! One frozen dinner at a time.

Wednesday: Mac N Cheese, green beans, and polska kielbasa
This time I am totally caving and making it right out of the box. Last week's recipe was not my favorite and needs some tweaking. I've discovered I don't like nutmeg in my Mac N Cheese. Must be the revolutionary in me. :)

Thursday: Chicken melts with salad
Keeping it simple and using up some of the delicious garlic bread we bought.

Friday: Italian chicken, rice, and steamed corn
Easy and healthy. Count me in. (Yes, I am aware corn is a starch.)

Saturday: Tri-Tip at The Dog House Grill
My husband begins drooling just hearing the name.

Sunday: Visiting family

Want to find more ideas for a weekly menu plan?

Visit the orgjunkie or just click on the picture below.

Aug 26, 2012

Checking off goals

I recently finished reading Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie, the creator of the shoe TOMS. I loved it! If you are looking for something to read make sure you add this to the list. I would even say this is worth buying, which is a lot coming from me. For every copy purchased a book goes to a child in need.

This book has been pressing on my mind the last couple of days, forcing me to reexamine what I am currently doing with my time and how I might better serve the world around me. It is something that I need to continue to think about, but I hope to get back to you when I have reached some conclusion.

The reason I bring this book up? Mycoskie spends time in his book discussing passions and actively seeking for goals. I don't know about all of you but sometimes actively seeking for my goals can be quite difficult. Life seems to always get in the way. One thing that has brought some focus into my day is the website, Daily Feats. Have you heard of it?

If you answer is yes, I challenge you to sign up and use the site. If you answer is no, then by all means please pull up a chair so I can educate you. Daily Feats is a free site that rewards you for doing small things to make your life and the world around you better. Each time you check in on a feat you get points. Those points can then be used to redeem coupons, receive giftcards, or donate money to charity. Daily Feats partners with different companies like Starbucks, Barnes and Nobel, and Groupon.

The reason I love the site? It has a tracking feature for feats that you want to focus on completing. At the moment I have six different goals. Each day I check them off I can see my progress, my momentum, my recorded highs, the last time I checked in, etc. I love it because it is a subtle nudge for somethings I should be doing any ways.

It also has weekly or daily challenges that I find extremely fun to complete. For each challenge completed you get points for each feat and then a bonus amount for finishing them all in the time frame.

I haven't been using the site for long, but I have already received a couple of giftcards. I use them to help pad my budget. Yesterday I used a giftcard to help pay for our date night. Before that I used a giftcard to help my husband afford a new pair of shoes he has been wanting. Before that I donated some of my points to one of the charities.

The best part? It only takes a couple of minutes to check in every night and you can do it on your phone or your computer. Take a minute and check it out. (Search for the Daily Feats free app in the app store.) Pretty soon you will be smiling as you open doors, pay rent, eat leftovers, take the stairs, and reach out to a person in need. All feats you can check off at the end of the day.

What is one goal you are working on this week? Want to do good and earn some extra cash? Check this site out today.

*I am not paid by this site in any way. I think it is just an excellent way to improve your life and your budget.

Aug 24, 2012

Saving Money with Mint

I love learning things that help me take care of my family better. On Monday I mentioned I was reading America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money: Your Guide to Living Better, Spending Less, and Cashing in on Your Dreams. The book teaches the value of budgets. I love my budget! Some people feel that budgets are constricting, but I find it empowering to not have to worry about having enough money at the end of the month and be able to save and afford the things that I want. This quote makes me laugh. I feel so blessed. We are not poor. :)

With that said, keeping a budget can be hard. It requires you to actively keep an eye on where your money goes. Some people like to use spread sheets and others like to use paid programs. I am still trying to figure out what works best for me.

My favorite program to use is Mint. It is a free online service that I can access on my computer, ipad, and iphone. (It also works for those in the android market.) I love that Mint shows all my accounts. I don't have to log into my bank, savings and credit cards sites but can see it in one convenient place. It helps me see trends in spending, set goals for saving, and warns me when bills are due or I am hit by a fee. Mint automatically categorizes what I spend and shows me on a quick scale where all my money is going. I can set my own categories and change the amounts easily.  I check in on it daily to see how I am doing and categorize the few things that Mint did not understand.

Mint helped me realize how much I was spending on groceries and it gave me the necessary encouragement to cut out some of the extras. (I plan to read Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America's Cheapest Family: Includes So Many Innovative Strategies You Won't Have to Cut Coupons next to find even more ways to save.)  It also helped me realize what we were spending a lot of money on as a couple. It is a lot easier to realize you have a problem when you can see it visually.

We are not perfect but we try to make Mint work for us. Mr. WB and I each have a rolling allowance. So if we over spend one month the next month we start with our normal amount minus what we overspent the month before. I find this extremely helpful. Mint helps me set goals on what I want to save up and purchase next. This is my current goal.

How do you budget?  What are you currently saving up for? Leave me a comment and let me know. :)

Aug 20, 2012

Weekly Menu Plan 8/20

In an effort to spend less money at the grocery store I am trying to plan my weekly menu so that I only make one trip instead of four. It is something I read about in America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money: Your Guide to Living Better, Spending Less, and Cashing in on Your Dreams. Ridiculously long title but I actually learned a lot from reading the book. I am trying to implement that learning in small steps. (Saving on groceries, budgeting, car insurance, etc.) Look for more updates about that in the future.

No, I did not buy the book. I checked it out from the library. But I am considering purchasing it to add to my shelf of books I think every mom should read at least once. This week I plan to read the next book Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America's Cheapest Family: Includes So Many Innovative Strategies You Won't Have to Cut Coupons. Which my husband is thrilled about because coupons have been a bump in the past. I will have to let you know what I think of it when I am done reading.

The whole idea of shopping once is every time you go in for the one thing you always end up coming out with more. So if you only go in once the amount of impulse buying decreases significantly. Kind of like Target. (I try not to go without Mr. WB because the dollar spot is very dangerous.)

Source: via Madison on Pinterest

For more funny pictures and stories check out the original source here. I digress, back to menu planning.

Setting a weekly menu can be tough. I like to look at my cupboards, think of what I like to eat, consult my husband (rarely helpful), look at my schedule, and end up spending a good hour on Pinterest perusing my boards of recipes to try. No joke. Sometimes I only make one meal that I planned. Life happens.

This Week's Menu Plan

Monday: Revolutionary Mac N Cheese
with salad and green beans
Tuesday: Crockpot Mexican Tortilla Lasagna
Wednesday: Curry
Thursday: Pizza
Friday: On Your Own / Leftovers Buffet / Dinner Out (It all depends on how lazy I feel)
Saturday: Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup with Bread Sticks
Sunday: Breakfast for Dinner - Breakfast potatoes, eggs, toast, and fruit

I didn't include breakfast or lunch because we generally eat cold cereal and leftovers. :)

Want to find more ideas for a weekly menu plan?

Visit the orgjunkie or just click on the picture below.

Aug 10, 2012

Pretty Pistachio Pie

I love finding new recipes online and trying them at home. Thank you Pinterest! My husband usually doesn't complain because it means more yummy food for him. Recently he started bugging me about making a recipe from one of our mutual friends. She is an amazing woman who is famous in our friends circle as making delicious food for huge groups. 

I got the recipe! And it took me 3 months to make it. Not bad considering my husband has been asking me to make this since we got married.  In my defense it was not online. So finding it was not an easy task. Especially if you consider the fact that we just moved. Any ways. I decided to put it online so that you could make this delicious Pretty Pistachio Pie for your husband and make him smile. Enjoy!

You will need flour, butter, sliced almonds, cream cheese, powdered sugar, cool whip, milk, and pistachio pudding mix.

Pretty Pistachio Pie

1 c. flour
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. sliced almonds (and extras for the top)
8 oz cream cheese
1 c.  powder sugar
1/2 c. cool whip (and extra for the top)
3 c. milk
2 small packages of pistachio pudding


The Crust
Mix the flour, butter, and sliced almonds together. Press into a lightly greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350* for 15 min. Let it cool completely.

Cream Filling
Mix cream cheese, powdered sugar, and cool whip together. Spread evenly on the cooled crust.

Pudding Layer
Mix 3 c. cold milk with two small pudding packages. Spread over crust and cream layers. Place in fridge until pudding is set.

Add a layer of cool whip and almonds on top before serving. Enjoy! 

Aug 2, 2012

August Holidays

I love finding out National Holidays and celebrating them. It gives each day a special feeling and focus. August hosts several important holidays.

The first seven days (August 1-7) are National Clown Week and National Breast Feeding Week. I'm not quite sure why those are grouped together. But today in order to celebrate I ordered a new nursing cover from Udder Covers for just $12. When you enter in the code FREE you can pick the style of your choice and only have to pay the $12 in shipping. Since baby boy is coming in less than 99 days I snapped one up for myself.
I also went online and found a cute picture of a clown. Growing up my dad made the choice to show his four children the movie, Killer Clowns from Outer Space. Between that and reading Stephen King's It as a teenager I have never really liked clowns or cotton candy. My dad loves to find pictures of creepy clowns and share them with me. Luckily for you I had a hard time finding some of the best ones. So you get this cute clown instead.

The second week of August is dedicated to smiles. 
The third week of August is dedicated to friendship.
And the fourth week is my birthday week
I plan to do something special for each of these weeks so stay tuned.