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Archive for February, 2012

I think it’s close enough to Spring for a new front door wreath…

Spring Wreath

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Is it the end of February already?  That is hard to believe, and since it is the end of the month, this week is clean out the pantry/fridge/freezer week.  In trying to save money on groceries, I have started a new routine this year.  At the end of one month, I take a calendar and write down supper ideas for the next month.  Yes, that’s right, the WHOLE month!  Then I make one big grocery list that allows me to have the ingredients for all of those meals on hand.  That way I only have to buy perishables the rest of that month.  How is it working?  So far so good.  C & I did have a couple of extra events this month that I really wasn’t expecting so I had to pick up a few things, but all in all, it is working great.

Since I am cooking for just the two of us during the week, I also try to plan suppers that have leftovers and we have those for lunch the next day.  That doesn’t always happen, but I usually end up with lunches for 3 or 4 days which helps out a lot.  The next two weeks probably won’t have any new recipes since this week is grocery week and next week we will be traveling a few days for C’s job.  In fact, I will probably skip next week’s menu plan because I won’t be cooking too much then.

Biscuit Bubble-Up Pizza

Grilled Hamburgers with Oven Baked Fries (We ended up having leftovers last week so I didn’t make this then.)

Pizza Night

Grilled Pork Chops & Oven Baked Fries

Grocery Night

Basic Meatloaf with Butter Roasted Potatoes

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Cheesy Au Gratin Potatoes

Mmmmmm, creamy cheesy potatoes.  This is comfort food at its finest. I have tried to make au gratin potatoes in the past, but they have always turned out too dry for my taste.  I was looking for a recipe that resulted in tender potatoes with loads of creamy sauce and this is it!  These could be a meal by themselves, but if you wanted a little protein, just throw in some diced ham and it would be an awesome casserole.

The original recipe came from allrecipes.com again.  Can you tell that is one of my favorite places to search for food? 

4 Idaho potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch slices

1 onion, diced

salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Butter a 1 quart casserole dish. Layer 1/2 of the potatoes into bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Top with the onion slices, and add the remaining potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a medium-size saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Mix in the flour and salt, and stir constantly with a whisk for one minute. Stir in milk. Cook until mixture has thickened. Stir in cheese all at once, and continue stirring until melted, about 30 to 60 seconds.

 

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Pour cheese over the potatoes, and cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake 1 1/2 hours in the preheated oven.

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Please join me at Miz Helen’s Country Cottage for Full Plate Thursday.

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I can’t wait to tell you about the book I am reviewing today!  It is so good! Please join me over at A Few More Pages for today’s Book Beginnings link party to see what everyone else is reading, too.

Usually I am not a big fan of young adult fiction just because I am definitely not a “young adult” anymore, but sometimes there is a special book out there that spans the generations and this is one of them.  It is “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins.  Now I know this book has been out for a while, but I just discovered it in the last few months and I am so glad I did. 

Here are the first line(s):

“When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.  My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress.  She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother.  Of course, she did.  This is the day of the reaping.”

The reaping?  Does this sound ominous or not?  It definitely is as you will find out by reading this awesome book. 

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We have arrived at the beginning of another week, so it is time for another menu plan.  Do you menu plan and do you find that it helps save time and energy by knowing what you will fix that week?  I know it helps me tremendously!  After working all day, the thought of coming home and having to wrack my brain for something to fix for supper is just a pain.  By planning a week’s worth of dinners, I know I have options. 

I don’t list my meals by the day of the week on here, but on my kitchen calendar I do.  That doesn’t mean I stick with it exactly, but at least I know what I can make and that makes life a lot easier!

Taco Soup (new) with cheesy bread

Grilled hamburgers and oven fries

Sausage bake (2 nights)

Hamburger Stew

Pizza or Eat Out Night

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A1 Swiss Steak

I am always searching for new ways to use my slow cooker, especially with beef because C loves his beef.  He also loves A1 steak sauce so this was a great combination.  I made this on a Sunday and used the leftovers for shredded beef sandwiches during the week.

2 lb. boneless beef chuck eye roast, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup A.1. Original Steak Sauce

1 onion, sliced

1 can  (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained

2 Tbsp. flour

1/4 cup water

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Toss meat with steak sauce; place in slow cooker. Top with onions and tomatoes; cover with lid.

Cook on LOW 9 to 10 hours (or HIGH 4 to 5 hours).

Mix flour and water. Stir into meat mixture; cook, covered, 5 min. or until sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally.

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Please join me and other food loving bloggers for Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen’s Country Cottage.

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Today I am going to show you how I made the Valentine’s Day wreath that I posted a couple of days ago.  There is always a wreath on our front door during fall and Christmas, but I didn’t have any for the rest of the year.  When I looked at home stores, I found that finished wreaths can be really expensive so I decided to try to make some myself.  Of course, one of the first places I looked for inspiration was Pinterest and there were many ideas to peruse.  It looked like a Deco mesh wreath would be the easiest to start off with so that’s what I did.

All of the supplies I used came from MardiGrasOutlet.com.  They had the cheapest mesh and wreath frames that I could find.  They also stock the “Work Wreath” frames that are made especially for the mesh, but I just bought the plain frames and put florist wire on them to hold the mesh to the frame which I will show below.

Here are the supplies that I started with:

Needle-nosed pliers

Scissors

Florist Wire

Wreath Frame

White and Metallic Red Deco Mesh

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See the short cross-wires on the frame.  I started by putting pieces of the florist wire on all 3 circles of the frames at those locations.

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Then I started running the mesh.  Grab the end and bunch it up.  Pick a starting point (I started on the inner most ring) and wire the mesh to the frame.  Work your way around the frame by bunching up some of the mesh then attaching it to the frame at the next florist wire location.  How much you bunch is up to you.  The bigger the bunches the bigger and fuller the wreath.  Since you don’t cut the mesh, this is very forgiving.  I restarted at least twice because I didn’t like the size of my bunches.

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I put the red on the inner and outer rings and the white in the middle ring.  I then added a bow made from Valentine’s Day ribbon and ran the remaining ribbon around the wreath.  I also bought some puffed glittery hearts at Hobby Lobby so I hot-glued them to the white mesh and they really stand out against the white.

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I was so happy with the results!  My next project is a spring time wreath that is yellow and turquoise with daisies.  This is one of the easiest ways to make a wreath, and I am not a big crafter so if I can do it, anyone can!

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