Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Crock Pot Yogurt                                

Today I am making some crockpot yogurt.  Normally I pull out the big crockpot and make a large batch but today I am making a smaller one because I am going to try making some in the dehydrator later this week.  This yogurt is so yummy with a tablespoon of homemade strawberry jam on top or some fresh berries.

For this recipe, you will need:

1 gallon milk
1/2 cup to 1 cup yogurt (this can be store brand or a bit saved from your last batch)
1 cup dry milk (optional)
sweetener (optional)
1 TBL vanilla (optional)

You will also need a crockpot, a thermometer, a small bowl, and spoon for mixing.

Pour the milk into the crockpot and set it to low.  Let it sit for about 2-3 hours.  Unplug.

Let it cool to about 95-110 degrees. This will take about 2 hours.

Take 1 cup of the milk out and put it in your bowl.  Mix in your yogurt well.

Pour this mixture back into the crockpot and add your optional ingredients, if you choose.

Put the lid on and cover the crock pot with a large towel or blanket to keep the heat in and leave it to sit.  This should take between 4 hours to overnight.  I usually leave it overnight.  Make sure your crockpot is not plugged in.

After it has thickened, store in the refrigerator.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

What we got accomplished today                                                     

     Our local grocery store (HEB) has split chicken breasts on sale for $1 a pound.  Awesome deal, but my family doesn't eat chicken on the bone so I bought 3 family sized packages and got to work.  It cost me about $16-17 dollars.  I started to skin and debone the chicken.  This doesn't take very long and saves you alot of money.

     The skin and bones go into my stock pot and I make that into a chicken stock.  There was plenty of meat left on the bones, so that will be made into something for dinner tonight.  The chicken stock will be canned in the morning.

     With the chicken breasts, I made 7 "dump" chicken freezer bag dinners.  What is that, you ask?  The chicken is placed in a freezer bag (I cut mine up into large chunks so the marinate soaks in better) with the ingredients and frozen.  When you are ready to have them for dinner, you thaw and dump into the crock pot and let it cook throughout the day.  At dinner time, I will either make rice or pasta, and salad and/or veggies.

I don't have exact recipes on some of these so I'll do what I can.  In each bag I added about 3 large chicken breasts.

Teriyaki Chicken
About 3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 large tablespoons local raw honey
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic

Lemon Garlic Chicken
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 large tablespoon minced garlic

Honey Dijon Chicken
This one I didn't make, I used a small jar of honey dijon salad dressing.

Sweet BBQ Chicken
about 1/2 homemade ketchup
1 tablespoon worcestershire 
2 Tbl white vinegar
about 1-2 tsp crushed red peppers

Italian Caesar Chicken
This was another bottled one.  There was a few tablespoons left of italian and then I added about 1/2 cup Newmans Own Creamy Caesar (my favorite dressing....so good on meats).

Cranberry Chicken
1/2 pint homemade cranberry sauce
1-2 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbl soy sauce

Citrus Ginger Chicken
1/2 pint homemade orange marmalade (minus what I put in the cranberry chicken)
1-2 tsp ground ginger (you can use fresh also)
1 tablespoon local raw honey

As these freeze and thaw, they absorb the flavorings and turn out wonderful.  I dump them in the crockpot with all the marinate.  Often I will add whatever is in the fridge at the time or whatever dressings or sauces I want to use up. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Chicken Broccoli          


     I decided to try something new for dinner last night and it turned out to be a hit.  We served this with a Ceasar salad, pickled beets (home canned), and dinner rolls.

1 10-oz package frozen, chopped broccoli (can probably be subbed for another vegetable or for fresh, cooked as well)
4 cups cooked chopped chicken  (would work out great for home canned chicken as well)
1 10-1/2 oz can condensed cream of chicken soup (next time I want to try homemade)
1/2 cup mayonnaise  (I used homemade)
Mushrooms- the original recipe called for a 4 oz can.  I added about 4 ounces of fresh, diced
1/4 tsp curry powder - I added a bit more "accidentally" and it was wonderful
Parmesan cheese - 1/2 cup for inside and about 1/4 cup to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook broccoli and drain.  Spread into the bottom of a 7x11x2 baking dish treated with nonstick spray.

Mix Chicken, soup, mayonnaise, mushrooms, curry powder, and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.  Spread over the broccoli.

Sprinkle with a bit more Parmesan cheese and cover.  Bake for 35-40 minutes.  Makes about 6 servings.

NOTE:  We dove in too quickly to get a picture.  I will definitely be making this again, so I will take a picture next time.
This recipe was adapted from an original recipe posted in Once-a-Month Cooking by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Homemade Mayonnaise


    I have tried a few different mayonnaise recipes and have found quite a few I didn't like. My kids like store bought everything. This starts my attempt to make as much homemade products as I can, that will taste like store bought, so they will eat them.
Since I am out of mayonnaise at this time, today is mayo making day. I keep mine in squeeze mayo bottles I reused from a major brand we had been buying. A double batch of this recipe fits in one bottle (I have two bottles).
    Here is the recipe I have tried and the kids don't seem to notice the difference. Yes, I did tell them I made it and they ate it willingly.


Homemade Mayo
1 egg (these are eggs my chickens laid in a container my neighbor brought me)
1 tsp mustard
½ tsp salt
1 ½ teaspoon vinegar (I used white distilled since I had plenty on hand from canning.)
1 cup oil
1 ½ Tablespoon lemon juice


    I start with adding all the ingredients except the oil. For the oil, you can add whatever kind you want. I have been adding vegetable oil. I have tried olive oil but the kids don't like the flavor.
    This can be done in a mixer at a higher speed, the blender or, like I do, with the hand blender. The oil is added, while blending, in a very slow stream. It needs to be added very slowly while you blend for it to mix up right. 

    My first attempt, I added half the oil, blended, then added the other half and that was a true waste of ingredients. It turned out this runny mess that I couldn't save.


    My husband wants me to make a garlic mayo next.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Budget Challenge Menu Plan    

      As previously stated, last week was a disaster on the plan.  This week, I hope to make it a bit simpler.  I actually had more plans then days.
     I did my main shopping yesterday and it came to a bit over $110.  I will probably have to pick up another gallon of milk before the week is over and perhaps more vegetable and fruit snacks, but the main part is done.  I did purchase ten pounds of ground beef.  I usually have half a dozen lbs canned on my shelves but I am down to one, so we will be canning this week.  We are getting a break in this heat this week.  It is due to rain on Wednesday! Yeah!  I will probably be saving bread making for that day.

Granola Cereal
Pop Tarts
Yogurt w/granola

Steak Salad
Shrimp Spinach Salad
Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Turkey Sandwiches
Egg Salad Sandwiches

Saturday- Tacos, homemade tortillas (so they weren't round and perfect, but it was fun)
Sunday- Steak, steak fries, salad (Fathers Day, so it was hubby's choice)
Monday- Shredded BBQ pork on hamburger buns, potato salad, vegetable
Tuesday- Chili Cheese Dogs (making double batch of chili for Thursdays dinner too)
Wednesday- Ham and Swiss Quiche
Thursday- Chili Mac (Thank you to my sister, Joan, for getting my kids begging for this)
Friday- Homemade Personal Pizzas (everyone makes their own)

What are you having for dinner?

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lessons Learned

     In doing this challenge, we jumped in full force and I don't think we really thought it out well enough. As I had planned on cooking three times a day and baking breads every other day, Mister Weather decided to set the temperatures outside at over 90 degrees all week. Needless to say, the plan failed totally and we ended up buying fast food more then I would like to admit.
           I will be redoing my menu plan today and posting either tonight or tomorrow to include more crock pot cooking and precooking that I can grab from the freezer. My kids are out of school for the summer, with the exception of my son, who has two tests and a report to finish up this week (he is homeschooled so we are a bit more flexible with end of the year dates). I had planned to cook them warm meals, but with this heat, they don't even feel like eating, so I hope to switch it to more cold fruits and veggies and sandwiches.

    This week, I also hope to learn how to upload pictures from my phone onto here so I can share with you some of my meals and recipes. Well, I am off to redo that menu.

   I will be seeing you soon,


Oh, I wanted to add on here a tally of our food budget envelope.  My husband got $34.97 for the junk food her purchased when we were weak.
I spent the following:
$33.56 at HEB
$10.34 at HEB
$50.40 at Walmart
For a total of $94.30.
We didn't go to the farmers market or Sprouts this week.

I have $25.70 left in my food envelope for the week.
As a bonus to this, my husband said if I get enough saved, we are purchasing a wheat grinder for making bread.  We have a hand powered one but it is a bit tiring, so we decided to upgrade to an electric one.  Goals always push me more :)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Menu Plan for the Week

Here is the menu for the week.  I see a lot of changes I need to make in following weeks to make meals simpler.  I know some of you have your days planned out for bread making, baking, and other things that are done weekly.  Tips and suggestions are welcome.

B- fruit, granola cereal (homemade)
L-homemade hoagies (made the rolls fresh), potato salad (made with homemade mayo)
S- pretzels, cheese
D-Tacos (we ended up having leftovers)

B- fried potatoes, eggs
L-winter squash soup (made with cashaw squash from the garden)
S- Veggie slices
D- Shredded (canned) chicken in gravy over mashed potatoes, greens (spinach from farmers market), rolls (homemade yesterday), and cranberry sauce (home canned from cranberry sale after thanksgiving)

B- Homemade poptarts
S- fruit
L-Chicken Salad Sandwiches (homemade bread, canned chicken, homemade mayo)
S- fruit or jello
D- Potato Chowder, homemade rolls
Desert- Pudding w/homemade whipped cream

B- Orange Cranberry Muffins (homemade)
S- Smoothies
L- Leftovers
S- Jello
D- Kielbasa, sauerkraut, beets (canned), rolls (homemade)
Desert- cookies

B- Granola (homemade), Yogurt (homemade)
L- Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (homemade bread & jelly/jam)
D- Pork Stew (canned pork cubes from a roast), rolls (homemade)
Desert- Peach Cobbler

B- fruit platter, granola
L- stir fry veggies, rice
D- Sheppard's pie, rolls
Desert - melons

B- Cinnamon Rolls (homemade)
L- Leftovers
D- sketti soup (kids favorite - noodles, tomato juice or vegetable juice, ground beef)

For the budget challenge, I will be using items I have canned, but as I run low, I will be refilling my supply.  I noticed that I have only 3 lbs of ground beef left on the shelf so either later this week or next week, I will be getting 10 lbs and canning it.

I usually like to make my menu after Wednesday because that is the day the sales come out here.  And I hit the farmers market on Saturday mornings.

How is your menu planning and food budget going?

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Food Budget Challenge

     I thought I would kick off the start of my blog with a little challenge my husband and I are doing.  We tend to buy whatever we feel like when grocery shopping.  If we have a craving for junk food...into the cart it goes. With that comes no idea of how much we spend on groceries.  I suggested we need to budget a bit more responsibly in order to get all our bills paid off before we move (more on the move later).

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

     Not only do we have my husband and I, but our 14 year old son, who eats like an adult and a half, and an 11 year old daughter that can eat as much as me on most days.  Since we have no child portions in this house, we decided our food budget was for 4 adults.
     I did some research online and found that a family of four in my state (Texas) gets $155 a week on government assistance, so we decided that was our budget goal.  To me, that doesn't seem like much, but I have determination to make this work.
     These are my guidelines:
1.)  This will not include any paper products or other non food items, animal feed, or for going out to eat.

2.)  Our menu will be balanced (no ramen noodles every day because they are $0.17 a package).

3.)  I will try to make as much from scratch as I possibly can.

4.)  Payday (for my food budget) is on Friday.  My menu will state meals from Sat-Friday so Friday's meal money comes from the previous week.

5.)  Money not spent (if there is any left over) will be carried over to add with the money for the next week. I have a special bag I bought just for a money bag.  Every week, I will add $155 to whatever change is in it.

To add to the challenge, I have a separate bag that I will be adding $20 a week for eating out money.  Most places I like to eat (besides Subway) cost twice that, or more for our family, so eating out may be something we only do every few weeks or so.

What tips and suggestions do you have?  Care to join this challenge?