Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sorry about the Break in Posts!

Hello everyone,
I have been away, and extremely busy once we got back. I am hoping to get to my menu plan this week and possibly some other posts, but for now, I can't make any promises.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Condensed Soup...is there another option?

I love a lot of recipes that require using Canned Condensed Soup. The problem is that its not very good for you. Many of the Cream of "Add Flavor Here" use extremely processed foods and additives, and some also contain MSG (click here to learn more about MSG and why it's....notsogood.)

Since I am trying to buy all whole foods, and nothing processed. I wanted to try to find some alternative recipes for this very popular ingredient. I will then add some recipes that I want to try that include this ingredient.

Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup- Substitute Recipe- Found this recipe here
Made a few changes of my own... Try not to use Bouillon Cubes either...many of them are VERY high in sodium and also contain MSG.

  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup wholel milk
  • 1 1/2 cups-mushrooms, chopped and sauteed
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Melt butter in a saucepan over Med-Low heat.
2.Stir in flour a little at a time until smooth, then remove from heat.
3.Add broth and milk a little at a time, stirring to keep mixture smooth. Then, stir in mushrooms.
4.Return to heat and bring sauce to a gentle boil; stir constantly until sauce thickens.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Here is the base recipe for a Condensed Soup where you can add any flavoring you like. The most common ingredients are celery, mushrooms, broccoli, chicken- It's kind of like making a white sauce, then you just add the flavors you want. If you can use everything organic...all the better too!

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • salt and pepper
  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
  2. Stir in flour; keep stirring until smooth and bubbly.
  3. Remove from heat and add the chicken broth and milk, a little at a time, stirring to keep smooth.
  4. Return to heat. Bring sauce to a gentle boil; cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens.
  5. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed.
  6. Use in casseroles in place of condensed cream soups.
  7. Can be varied by using vegetable broth, sauteéd chopped celery, celery seed, or sauteéd chopped mushrooms.

Hope this research helps you as much as its going to help me!!

Here are some recipes with condensed soup as an ingredient:

Mushroom Sauce Baked Pork Chops

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

No Time to Cook Chicken

Chicken and Pasta Casserole w/ Veggies

Here's a quick thing I found: Make your own Onion Soup Mix- (Like the ones that come in the dried powder packages!) Not sure about the beef boullion granules, but you may be able to find them without MSG?


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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Menu Plan Monday- Week of July 14, 2009

I was pretty unhappy with our share from the Organic Buying Club we belong to. We now have about 4 bags of celery, and 4 bags of Dandelions, which are really bitter and a little difficult for children to eat. I really feel that the share we got last week didn't lend itself to being worth all of the money, but that's another topic, not to mention half of the things the list said it was to include were not included, but replaced with a bag of celery.

Here is my menu plan for this week:

Monday: Hamburgers, Cous Cous, Zucchini, and Baked Kale Chips

Tuesday: Turkey Spaghetti w/ Mixed Veggies and Bread

Wednesday: Baked Chicken w/ Quinoa Side Dish and Baked Sweet Potatoes

Thursday: Black Bean Burgers w/ Side Salad -VEGETARIAN

Friday: Shepherd's Pie - Recipe Below

Saturday: Pizza w/ Pineapple and Peppers- VEGETARIAN

Sunday: Zesty Slow Cooker Chicken BBQ

For more amazing recipes and meal plans check out Orgjunkie.com

Pantry Pull Outs- This is a new thing I am going to start posting, that will t
ake some things out of my fridge or pantry that I want to get rid of, and use them in a random recipe:

Orange Marmalade: Going to make Orange Whole Wheat Pancakes

Celery: Sweet and Sour Celery
Cream of Celery Soup

I'll probably only get around to making one of these celery recipes, but I really need to clear out my fridge of celery...for real!!!

I'll let you know how it was on Wednesday!!

Here's my recipe for Shepherd's Pie:

1 lb ground beef-
6-7 potatoes peeled and cut into quarters
2 carrots diced
3 celery sticks chopped
1/2 c. water + more if needed
1 med onion
1-2 cloves garlic minced
4 T. oil
3 T. Bragg's Amino Acids
3/4 c. milk
3/4 t. salt
4T. butter
1 c. Cheddar Cheese- Optional

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Fill large pot with water, and add peeled and cut potatoes. Bring to boil and cook until potatoes are tender with fork. Drain and cool.

2. In pan, bring 2 T. oil to med-high heat and add onions and garlic. Saute for approx. 5 min. Add ground beef and brown.

3. In different pan, bring 2 T. oil up to med-high heat and add carrots and celery. Saute' for approx 5 min, add water and cover to steam till tender. Add more water if needed.

4. Drain beef and add Bragg's Vinegar. Place in 8x10 casserole dish to cover bottom. Next, add carrots and celery to casserole dish.

5. To cooled potatoes, add butter, milk and salt and mash to desired consistency. (I like to do this in the kitchen aid to get a whipped-like mashed potato)

6. Spread mashed potatoes over the top and add cheese if desired. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and cheese is melted- approx 25 minutes.


This week, I'm going to be writing about a few different things:

1. Quinoa and its benefits- for me, its a lot faster than cooking brown rice!!! I'll share some recipes and other interesting facts!!

2. Condensed Cream of "whatever" soup... so many recipes include these items, but they are so bad for you -msg, really fattening, etc.. I am going to explore a few different options for using homemade items in their place.

3. Family Meal Table: Things have been a little hectic here, so I am behind of my study, but I will be posting soon!!


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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Try It! Tuesday- Making your Meat go Further

Well, I realized in my last post that I was making a lot of meals with chicken breasts, and not a lot of vegetarian meals. I guess in part this is because our family eats a lot, and even when eating a whole vegetarian meal, we end up still hungry in the late evening...wanting something more, perhaps a protein.

My husband ends up making what he calls..." a mess", which I think is literal for what he does in the kitchen, but also what he concocts in a frying pan with eggs, hot peppers, onions, and whatever else he can find.

So I decided to do a little research and try to find ways to make meat, since we are still eating a lot of it, go further.
Here are some things you can add to a meal to make your meat go further for your family aside from the simple fact of having an all-out vegetarian night:

  • Slice your steaks to feed your whole family. Use the strips for a stir fry, or fajitas
  • Include some sort of protein throughout your day and don't just rely on protein for dinner.- ie- eggs, nuts, beans etc.
  • Try cubing your steak to make kabobs, or add to a heart rice meal.
  • Try Casseroles- these usually include rice, or some sort of pasta and beans. You will end up using less meat than serving it separately
  • Have a pizza night, where you use a lot of other ingredients and only one breast of chicken, or one link of sausage.
  • Search around for less expensive cuts of meat. Often times if they are cooked correctly, they actually taste better and are more flavorful than the expensive cuts
  • When making spaghetti, add a lot of vegetables to your sauce. This will make the sauce last well into leftover territory, which is what we want when we are trying to save!
  • Make a soup! Last night I took all the leftover veggies from the past two weeks(even bok choy) and added it to some chicken stock. I had one extra chicken breast from the night before. I chopped it up and added it too. I then added some egg noodles and I had a pretty darn good soup! Don't forget to add a dollop of peanut butter (just make sure kids aren't allergic) for a great rich flavor and no one will even know you did it!
  • Fill your plate with more veggies and starches, cut down the portion size if serving a piece of meat separately. I find that if we have chicken breasts, if I cut them into small pieces, I can use two breasts to feed us and our oldest child. This then leaves a whole breast to make another meal with the next day!!
  • Add a second or third side dish. If you are used to having one veggie, one carb and one meat serving on your dinner table, why not try two veggies at night?
Here are some links that may be helpful and give you more information to cut your budget buy still eat and live healthy!!

5 Dollar Dinners- Blog- With Great Recipes!!

Healthy Frugal Dinner Recipes- Blog

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes Recipe

Porcupines Recipe- Meatballs w/ rice

Budget Friendly Recipes for Ground Beef- AllRecipes.com

Budget Friendly Meals- Allrecipes.com

Cuts of Meat that are Cheaper + Recipes

Vegetarian Meals w/ Beans and Rice


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Monday, July 6, 2009

Menu Plan Monday- Week of July 6th, 2009

Last week, I brought back an old time favorite that I had forgotten about until I had nothing in my fridge and pantry except lentils... the Snobby Joes.

I can't tell you how much we truly enjoy this meal. It is so delicious served open faced on a flaky hamburger bun. I know I didn't have it on my menu-plan, but by the end of the week, I hadn't gotten to the store to get the pineapple and other ingredients to make pizza for Friday. So I think the pizza will be moved to this week since I am getting pineapple in my produce share.

I also am going to start getting eggs and additional produce from the organic buying club I belong to. Here is a list of the items I will be receiving:

Baby Bok Choy
Vidalia Onions
Red Peppers
Sweet Potatoes
Gold Zucchinis

White Nectarines
Yellow Peaches
Strawberries, golden pineapple, cherries!

and 4 dozen eggs!! Yay!! I will try to post a picture of everything tomorrow. I almost always forget once I get home to take a picture of everything.

Here is the menu for the week:

Monday: Chicken Noodle Soup ( delicious!) w/ Baked Sweet Potatoes

Tuesday: Herb Yogurt Grilled Chicken w/ Strawberry Spinach Salad

Wednesday: Turkey Spaghetti w/ Golden Zuchini & Salad

Thursday: Sweet BBQ Tater Tot Casserole w/ Broccoli

Friday: Pizza w/ Pineapple, Onion and Green Pepper mmmmmm

Saturday: Slow Cooker Butter Chicken w/ carrots

Sunday: Leftovers

Well, that's about it... I have a lot of new recipes that I am trying this week, but I wanted to spice it up a bit! We'll see how everything turns out!!


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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How Was It? Wednesday- Family Meal Table

This week starts off the first two chapters of The Family Meal Table study by Nancy Campbell. I am truly enjoying this study, and am learning a lot already. I would encourage you to purchase this study from the Above Rubies website and do the study as well. I am only going to touch upon a few key points every week, and there is so much more to get out of this study from the manual.

Chapter 1- Where Do Tables Originate?
The first chapter is called Where Do Tables Originate? Many verses in the bible tell stories about families or people conversing or having a meal around a table. God sees that table as a place for happiness, community, conversation, fellowship and yes, even worship.

Psalm 128:1-4 explains how blessed is a man who has children like olive plants all around his table.

As I said in the previous post about this study, Jesus often times would make a meal for someone, sit with them and talk to them about important truths. Jesus thought the table was important and so should we!!

Enjoy Your Meals
Often times, especially in the morning or at lunch, I find myself rushing to feed the children, then I end up shuffling my meal down while standing at the counter.

Firstly, this does not show my children that I care about them and want to spend quality time with them.
Secondly, it does not show my children the importance of fellowship in the morning or while we are together at lunch.

Nancy stresses the importance of enjoying our meals. One way to do this is to sit all together around the table as much as possible.

What does Your Meal Table Look Like?
In the study questions, Nancy asks, "If someone looked through the window of your home at mealtime, what kind of picture would they paint?"

This question really hit me because my mealtime is not a time that I am proud of. In fact, it is one of my most stressful times of the day and I am truly dedicated to changing that. Last week I said that I am going to try to have the family sit down at the table after I have the food out. I am also going to try to set the table before-hand too.

After a week, I have been about 50% successful. One reason for my lack of total success is that Brian has been working late every night. So I am having a meal with the two girls by myself. This has been a difficult transition and hopefully it is only temporary. Once we are back on schedule with all of us eating together as a family, things should be better.... right?

Chapter 2- The Table- A Place to Feed the Body

In this chapter, Nancy discusses how God wants us to renew our vision for the Family Meal Table. It is a feeding place where we nurture the physical bodies of our family as well as their souls and spirits.

I feel that this chapter is truly at the heart for me. I love cooking and making dinner for my family.

Nancy stresses the importance of making every meal count, which means feeding your family well balanced, healthy homemade meals.

We as mothers should be responsible with our husband's earnings and our family's income by using every penny for the nourishment of our bodies, not just feeding our families empty food that is super processed, not nutritional and actually toxic.

Nourish Your Family
As mothers, we are ultimately responsible for what goes into our family members' bodies. Try not to let your children be picky and dictate what you will serve them- ie- only eating Mac N Cheese every day for lunch is not a healthy choice.

Try to have your children sit at the table for every meal. Once in a while, you can mix things up a bit and have a picnic inside, or out on the porch or outdoors at a special location.

Finally, here are her 6 tips to remember when cooking your meals:

1. Make it simple.
2. Make it nutritious.
3. Make it tasty.
4. Make if full of aroma.
5. Make it attractive.
6. Make plenty.

She goes into a lot more detail for each one of these, but just those simple sentences are food for thought. Let's continue on this journey together to try to bring back the Family Meal Table in our country.


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