Sunday, April 6, 2014

Asking for Prayers

I'd like to ask that any of you that may be out there reading send some prayers my way for my sweet dog Rocky.  He is the one laying in front of the fireplace in the photos.  He has had arthritis for a couple of years, but has some other issues now.  He sleeps almost all of the time, has a hard time walking not only from the arthritis, but everything is a great effort for him now.  He was a rescue I found on the street.  After seeing  him for three weeks, I finally got him to come to me for food.  He slept for two days straight and has lived in our home ever since.  That was in 2005.  We don't know how old he was when taken in, but the vet guessed about seven.  He has been a joy.  He is funny, smart and gets along well with our other dog and kitties.  All we can do now is make him comfortable.   I've had many dogs and kitties in my life and it never gets easier to see one age and eventually pass on.  I know all the animal lovers understand he is my baby.  There have been rough days and better ones recently.  Yesterday was pretty good.  Today, not so much. 

Thanks to any one reading.

Gina

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Favorite Stamping Website

I wanted to do a quick post to mention a favorite art stamping website that I have followed for years.
Jennifer McGuire Ink is written by the very talented Jennifer McGuire.   She has great tutorials, card samples and videos.  I had goofed up and mistakenly blocked the emails I was getting from her blog for a while (and a few other blogs I subscribe to by email).  When I corrected my mistake and started getting the blog posts in my email again, I had forgotten how much I enjoy reading her posts and watching her videos.  Many stampers probably know about her very popular site, but for any one that doesn't, you are in for a treat.  The rising cost of greeting cards is so crazy now, that I need to get back to making my own.  I have also used her idea for making some card sets as gifts and did so two years ago at Christmas.  They were very well received.  When I was working outside the home for so many years, having cards and the gift sets set aside were life savers for co-worker gifts.

See you soon,
Gina



Sunday, January 19, 2014

Thrifty living

As the one in my family that has the chores of all shopping and paying the bills (among other things), I am always looking for ways to stretch my dollars.  I use coupons when I grocery shop and it usually saves me $20 or $30 per trip.  Using the coupons for things I am going to buy anyway, gives me savings on the total for things like produce and meat that have no coupons.  I will share what I use to keep my coupons in and take with me to the store, in a future post.

I have a plan for my freezer to help me cut some more costs on my grocery bill and as a time saver for me.  I am a fairly organized person, but my efforts can always improve.  The freezer is one place that needs an overhaul, so I don't have to dig around looking for things on nights that are short on cooking time or I just don't feel like making dinner.  Or finding things that get pushed to the back and finding them later when they aren't eatable any more.

Being a coupon user, I do use some for a couple of store bought frozen dinners for the nights that making dinner is more of a chore than usual.  But the coupons are getting smaller for these frozen meals or require buying more than we need to get a little off the price.  We are also finding that brands that we used to think were pretty good, such as Marie Callendars or Stouffers aren't that good any more.  The side dishes aren't bad, but the full dinner versions just aren't close to as good as our home cooking.  I don't want to pay almost $4.00 per dinner any more for something that we don't even enjoy eating.  For two of those meals, I can make a pot roast with vegs and get three meals out of it, and no comparison on taste to the store bought meals.  So, this is the plan for this year.


                                                                                      BHG.com

Getting my freezer organized, where I can see everything at a glance.  I'm going to get some of these little baskets and some disposable baking pans at the dollar store.  I haven't been storing soups, or chili in the zip lock bags like this.  It has to been easier to find things this way and will save a lot of room in the freezer instead of using so many plastic storage containers, as I do now.  I also usually cut any casserole recipes in half for us.  We are good left over eaters, but a couple of nights of the same meal is enough.  Making a roast or whole chicken can be transformed into new meals with the left overs, but a casserole will always be the same meal again.  This year, I'm going to make the full recipe versions, bake half for dinner that night and put half in the freezer for a later meal.  I'm hoping to use these frozen meals for our busy night dinners instead of buying store bought meals.  A lot less sodium for my mom on blood pressure meds, and much better quality food for the same time savings on busy days.

I love cooking with fresh herbs, but they can be pricey and I may not always use them up, since they don't keep very long.  So another freezer plan is to freeze some in ice cube trays. 

                                                                     Source unknown

Super easy to put a cube of frozen herbs in any recipe I may be making.  I also plan to make up some flavored butters such as berry butter for weekend breakfast treats, lemon butter and garlic herb butter for fast week night cooking.   I even plan to put some "meat loaf mix" in to use for meat loaf, and meat balls, as well as some uncooked hamburger patties.  I like to mix in some flavors to hamburgers before cooking.  I have tried finding some decent store bought patties and have not liked any of them, plus they are more expensive than using a good quality meat and making my own flavored like we want.

Much of this is probably not new to many of you.  I also know people with more than two in the house already do some of this.  I don't like to go to the grocery store more than every two weeks.  There are times when I have to go for just milk or lettuce that expire soon, but those are very quick trips and I don't buy anything else during these short trips.  Using my freezer enables me not to go to the store each week and keep the monthly grocery bills in budget.  When I was working full time out of the house for over 30 years, I hated going to the grocery store and I still don't enjoy having to go.

I'll share how my plan is working for me in a few months. 

See you  soon,

Gina

Monday, January 6, 2014

My New BFF

I am a lover of using slow cookers.  Since I live in Texas, I will do anything to avoid turning on the oven in summer.  Summer for us is usually early May until much of Oct. 

I was lucky to win a great slow cooker from Pioneer Woman's blog.  I used it between one to three times a week for about six years.  After being a faithful friend, the heating element on one side started going out.  I ended up with whole chickens that weren't cooking on one side.  So, I had to say good bye to my friend.

Meet my new BFF.  The Ninja 3 in 1 cooker.


Besides being a great slow cooker, a feature I love about this one is that I can brown my meat right in the cooker using the Stove Top feature.  As someone that doesn't have a dishwasher, I am always looking for ways to cook using the least amount of pots and pans to clean afterwards.  My Ninja came with a decent cookbook and there are some recipes using the Stove Top setting and an Oven setting (different from the slow cooker setting).  I haven't tried those yet, but I know I will try some once it gets hot again here.

Clean up is a breeze with the great non-stick lining. 

What I did make on New Year's Day was a turkey breast.  I put a 6 pound  turkey breast (thawed) in on the slow cooker setting for about 5 and a half hours on high.   I used the juice of two oranges, a cup (or a little more) of water and a package of dry onion soup mixed together.  I put the used orange halves on the bottom, along with some chunks of fresh onion under the turkey and poured the liquid over the top with salt and pepper.  At the end of cooking time, I decided to brush the turkey breast with some melted butter and put the turkey in the oven on 375 for about 40 minutes to brown up, while a small pan of dressing was baking. 

This is what came out:


This beauty was so moist and tender and with browning a little afterwards in the oven, it was easily the best turkey we have ever eaten.  Such a simple way to make a lovely meal, with none of the basting and fussing that can go with baking a turkey.   This will be a go to holiday meal for us.

See you soon,

Gina

I'm linking up to Tweak It Tues at Cozy Little House
and Between Naps on the Porch

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Lovely Surprise

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas Eve and Day. 

We had a great day and got a beautiful surprise that I wanted to share.

 
Thanks Kathleen!!

Friday, December 13, 2013

My Winter Mantel

I'm back today to share my winter mantel.  I wanted something that I could keep up until spring. 




Here is a day time version.


Thanks for stopping by!

Linking up to Christmas Extravaganza at DEBBIEDO'S
Between Naps on the Porch's Met Monday
Cozy Little House's Tweak It Tues
Thrifty Decor Chick's Christmas Party


See you soon,

Gina

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Favorite Go To Meal



My quiche recipe is one of our favorite go to meals.  It's always a hit at dinner, reheats well for breakfast or is a great brunch dish. 

I actually make several versions with the same custard base.

Custard base: 

3 Large eggs beaten

1 cup milk

3/4 cup good mayo (NOT Miracle Whip!)

1 Tablespoon flour

Salt and Pepper to taste. 

Whisk all together.

 Versions I make:

Grated Swiss cheese, and vegetables.  We like mushrooms, chopped red bell pepper and zucchini.  Cook and drain your veggies first or they will make your quiche watery.

Tex-mex version of browned and well drained ground sirloin (season with your favorite spices), shredded Mexican Four Cheese blend or any shredded Cheddar cheese, 1 can chopped green chilies drained, chopped red bell pepper and green onions.

Grated Swiss cheese, browned and very well drained breakfast sausage (Owens or Jimmy Dean), and
green onions.  This was the first version of this quiche I learned from a friend many years ago.
It is the biggest hit at any potluck and people always ask for the recipe.  My father used to request this version for Father's Day every year.

Standard grated Swiss and bacon, very well drained.

I use one of the 9 inch pie plates I have.  One is more deep dish than the other, so I use between
6 to 8 oz of a shredded cheese bag.  I usually use most of the package of sausage and save the rest to freeze and use for eggs or on pizza another time.  Probably 3/4 a pound of the ground sirloin.

Fold in your selected meats, cheeses and vegetables to your custard base.

Use any favorite pie crust recipe you have or as I sometimes do, pie dough from the grocery store.

Bake any version for between 50 to 60 minutes at 350 degrees.  It's done when it's puffed, golden and knife comes out clean from center.  Depending how full you have filled your unbaked crust, it is a good idea to put your pie plate on a baking sheet. 

I have seen many quiche recipes and this is the best (just saying)!  So many have 8 or more eggs and to me are too "eggy" or solid.  The mayo addition makes this one puff like more eggs would, but it also gives the quiche a little more of a creamy texture. 

I hope you will try it and like it as much as everyone I've made it for always have.

Linking up to Between Naps on the Porch for Met Monday

See you soon,

Gina