Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lighter Cooking - a success and a dud

I tried a couple of "light" dishes for dinner last night. The dessert wasn't all that good. I really dislike going to the trouble of making a healthy dessert, and then just wishing I had eaten a yogurt or an apple instead. Such a waste! Oh well. The cupcakes actually looked delish, but...

...weren't even worth the lowly 100 calories that they each had. The cupcake had 4 ingredients... canned pumpkin, chocolate fudge cake mix, sugar-free/calorie-free chocolate instant pudding and water. Bleh. The glaze was a bit better, but that's only because it had powdered sugar and milk in it (it made me want to lick off the good stuff on the cupcakes and toss away the rest). I guess when it comes to dessert, I'd just rather have the real thing. I'll keep trying, but really... eating sweets now and again is the whole reason I find the motivation to exercise.

Don't ask me why I have a photo of the cupcakes that I didn't like, while not having a photo of the dinner that I did like. Hmmm.

For the main dish, I made a light taco casserole. It was actually good (despite the "lightness"), and I would make it again. I got the recipe from, and made a few changes.

Light Taco Casserole Recipe

tortilla chips (I used Baked Tostitos, so they had lower fat)
1 lb. extra lean ground beef
onion powder
garlic powder
3 T. taco seasoning
1 can black beans, drained
1 cup crushed tomatoes
2 c. shredded fat-free or reduced-fat cheese
other toppings to taste: fat free sour cream, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, salsa

In a large skillet, cook ground beef until browned. Add onion powder and garlic powder -- just a shake of each. Add taco seasoning, and continue stirring and cooking to mix in the seasonings. Add black beans and crushed tomatoes. This is part of where I changed the recipe. The original recipe called for salsa instead of crushed tomatoes, but for whatever reason, I really don't like salsa when it is cooked. The peppers take on a weird taste to me. Weird, I know. So, I substituted crushed tomatoes, and it is perfect since the dish has plenty of taco seasoning to give it that spicy flavor.

Mix well while cooking to thicken and blend all of the ingredients.

Line the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish with tortilla chips. Gently press down the chips to break into bite-sized pieces. Spread the meat mixture over the chips. Top with cheese.

Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling.

Let individuals add their own toppings once they have scooped the hot meat and cheese mixture out of the pan. Yummy served with additional tortilla chips.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Valentines Day Mantel and Garland

I wrote a blog post yesterday about the Valentines decor on my mantel. After I looked at the finished post, I realized it just didn't cut it. It definitely was lacking, even by my low-key Valentines decorating standards. So, re-routed the post and decided to make a garland to spruce things up a bit. I wanted to use things I had on hand, and I LOVE vintage book pages, so I decided to start there. A few years ago I bought a box of tattered old books that were literally falling apart. They cost next to nothing on eBay. So, now when I want to make things out of old book pages, I don't feel bad using them.

To make the garland, I removed twelve pages from one of my books and cut a "V" out of the bottom of each one.

The I folded back the top edge about 1/2".

Through the years I have collected vintage Valentines. They are perfect for this, although I didn't want to attach them directly to the banner (I hate to do anything permanent to them). So, I made color copies of some of them on card stock and then cut each one out.

I then used double stick tape to attach the copies to the little book pages.

To finish it off, I laid red and white bakers twine across the fold at the top of each page, then put some double stick tape under the flap and sealed it down.

So easy! I did the whole thing from start to finish while watching Biggest Loser last night.

And there are lots of ways you can display garlands... doorways, walls, bookshelves, windows, mantels, etc.

I've got a few other things to put around, but just enough to whisper "Its Valentines Day".

Monday, January 28, 2013

Week-by-Week Food Storage Plan

This week is basically the 5th week of January, so we have a week off from gathering our food storage items. This is a good time to make sure all of the January items are gathered and/or bought. If you need to work on clearing space for your food storage, it would also be a perfect time for that! We'll start February's list next week, so enjoy the "breather" this week, and we'll get right back at it in a week!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Baby Blanket Tutorial

Wow. What a week! I'm still floating around a bit... unable (and unwilling) to stop thinking about the birth of our grandson. He is a beautiful baby and he is blessed to have been born in such a sweet, loving little family. And we are so excited to be his grandparents!

I'm slowly but surely getting back to reality and recognizing that there are things to do around here. Contrary to what you may think, my "nesting" only covered so much... I've got oodles of things on my list to clean, to make, to do, to create. And I love it!

I have got to think about getting some Valentines decorations up. I'm pretty sure last year it came and went without me putting up a single Valentine item. I've got to get things in gear this year... we have a pretty major event happening in our home around Valentines Day. I'll get more into that in a later post.

You may be surprised to know that I have all four of my baby blankets finished to the point of binding, and one of them completely bound and finished. Now that is progress!

Since these are pretty quick baby blankets to work up, I thought I'd do a tutorial. I've made ten or so of them -- Bob and I give them to the ladies in the ward and neighborhood who have just had babies.

You will start with two pieces of coordinating fabric -- one in cotton and one in cotton flannel. In this photo, the little birds are the flannel piece. You can make your blanket any size you want, but I generally make mine about 1-1/4 yards by the natural width of the fabric (about 44").

I also don't use batting. This is a light type of a baby blanket that can be folded small and stowed easily in a diaper bag.

Next, square the top piece of your blanket (which is the regular cotton piece, NOT the flannel piece) so that all sides are square and the edges are straight.

The next step is where your fabric stash will come in handy...

Find two or three pieces of coordinating fabric (be sure it coordinates with both the front and back of your blanket pieces) that you can cut some small decorative circles from to add to the top piece of the blanket.

To make the fabric circles, make 3 circle templates out of card stock that are 6", 4-3/4" and 3-3/4". Trace the circles onto the wrong side of the coordinating fabrics, and cut out with pinking shears. Cut one large, two medium, and one small circle.

Next, pin each of the circles in place on the top piece of your blanket. I usually place the largest one in a corner (keeping it about 4" from the sides), and then place the others in close proximity, wherever it "looks right".

Sew the pieces in place, removing the pins as you go. Do a straight stitch about 3/8" from the edge of the circle.

Now lay the flannel piece down (right side down), and the top piece of the quilt on top of it (right side up).  Flatten it out nicely so that there are no creases in the fabric. (Iron the pieces if you need to.) Match the sides the best that you can, then pin along all four sides. Using the squared top as your template, trim away any excess fabric from the back piece. Both pieces should be the exact same size at this point.

Sew around the edge of the blanket about 1/2" in from the edge, removing pins as you go. These stitches will not show -- they are there to hold the blanket together as you are binding it.

These are my four blankets all at the point of needing to be bound.

The next step is cutting the binding strips. I cut my binding on the bias so that it doesn't fray and get all stringy when it is washed. The ruler shows the angle I should use when cutting -- a 45 degree angle. Cut the strips 2-1/2" wide, and cut enough to make about 200" of binding. When you cut the binding, use a rotary cutter with a pinking edge to give the binding a decorative edge.

You can use any coordinating fabric for your binding. I like the looks of mixing and matching binding, and having the strips being a variety of lengths.

After cutting the strips, cut off the ends so that they are a straight edge (instead of an angle edge) and sew together strips.

Press seams open along the strip of binding.

Next, fold binding in half, and press.

Start sewing binding around edge of quilt, starting down about four inches from the beginning edge of the binding so that you leave a "tail" of binding that isn't sewn to the quilt.

Sew about 3/8" from the edge of the binding.

When you come to the corner, sew down to the bottom edge of the quilt, and then stop.

Fold the binding over the next edge of the quilt so that the quilt edge is lined up with the center fold of the binding. Fold binding up and pin to keep in place. Continue sewing binding starting from the corner of the binding where the two corners meet.

When you come back around to the place where you started the binding, check your lengths and cut the end edge of the binding (not the tail that you left at the beginning) so that it is about an inch away from where you originally started attaching the binding. It will be overlapped by the "tail" that you left as you started sewing the binding. 

Finish sewing the binding down. Take the tail that you left at the beginning and fold the end under about an inch. Pin it in place and then sew down the binding down so that it is completely attached all the way around.

At this point, sew one more time around the whole blanket between the original line of stitching and the edge of the binding.

And this is the finished product. Scrappy and cute!

Now to finish the other three.... I'll get to them in a while. For now, I'm off to hold my grandbaby for the afternoon!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wyatt makes his debut today!

Photos are going to do this post way more justice than any words...

Bob and Wyatt

Dayna and Wyatt

Life doesn't get much better than the way it is this moment, this day! Wyatt Ash was born this morning at 9:40-ish and weighed in at a healthy 8 lbs. 9 oz. He is as beautiful a baby as they come, and it was instant love for all of us. Whitney and Mike are going to be amazing parents for this sweet little baby!

On the way home from the hospital this afternoon, Bob mentioned that its amazing how instantly and completely we have an unmeasurable love for a little baby that we are just laying our eyes on for the first time! I remember that same exact feeling when each of our four children were born. My heart could not possibly be any more full!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January Week 4 - Paper Supplies

First things first... no grand baby yet.... still waiting....

How is your week-by-week food storage going so far? Again, don't get discouraged if you fall behind a week or two... just pick up with wherever you should be in the schedule. You can always pick up the missed weeks later on, or next year, when they come back up in the schedule. Its just good to keep on working on whatever you can!

This week we're on January Week 4.  The items to collect and store this week are as follows:

Paper supplies: paper towels, paper plates, paper cups, plastic utensils, napkins, Kleenex,
toilet paper

Store the items you will need on hand for the upcoming year. Weigh each item as to what your family would use, but keep in mind that long-term emergencies may require some different items than what you would normally use. If you don't really use paper towels, you probably won't need many rolls, but you may want to consider storing some (because they may come in handy for some emergency use). Same with plates, cups and utensils. 

If storing a whole year's supply of toilet paper seems overwhelming, just buy a few large packages and start with that. You can add to your stockpile later on, but get at least a few of everything in storage!

One thing that is nice, is that once you've collected these items, you don't necessarily have to rotate through them, which means next year, you wouldn't need to buy anything additional this particular week. Sometimes I will run out of something and run down to get a box of Kleenex or some napkins, or something. If I don't get around to replacing it, I know that next year, when I go through the inventory, it will show that I'm one package down from what I should have, and I'll know I need to restock.

So, now we are done with January! To go back and review what January's items are, go to the "Week-by-Week Food Storage Plan" tab.

Again, if you would like a complete copy of the plan, as well as the coordinating inventory sheets, just leave a comment along with your email address, and I'll send one off to you!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Blue Frosted Sugar Cookies

Not much time to write... I've been making blue heart sugar cookies (in honor of our little grandson who will be born within the next two days. Whitney is still feeling great! In fact, she's down in our exercise room on the treadmill!

Whit had a craving for sugar cookies, so it gave me an excuse to make some!

I've got to run... I need to make our Biggest Loser dinner before everyone gets home! At least I have the dessert made already, so all is well!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Baby Waiting Game

For those who are wondering, we are still on baby watch. No baby, and nothing to say he's even close to coming today. So, we're literally waiting and wondering. I was woken up this morning at 6:30 with a text from a friend (who obviously doesn't know me enough to know that I'm NEVER awake on a Sunday morning at 6:30). Anyway, I awoke with a start, thinking that it was baby time, but I was sadly mistaken. And at church, I sat with my phone on my lap (don't worry.... it was on silent mode.... I'll not make that mistake again!). Lindsay and I kept looking at my phone and making sure it was working, etc. I think we're all getting a little crazy playing the waiting game, but I know what we're going through is nothing compared to what Whit and Mike are feeling!

We're having fun while waiting, though. Bob and I put the baby "pack and play" crib up yesterday. Whitney was there watching, so she would know how to put hers together. We got the exact same one as she did. We figured with all of the research she and Mike had done, we didn't need to do any more, and we could just go with their choice. It's fun trying to imagine little Junior in it. Which reminds me of something.... What are they going to name the little fella? They have decided on a name, but haven't told anyone yet, so he has been called "Junior" ever since we found out he was a boy. I can't wait to first see him, and then to find out what his name is!

And... Whitney just let me know she is craving my frosted sugar cookies. I love making sugar cookies, but I don't make them often enough! So, if Junior doesn't make his appearance before I get a chance to make the cookies, it looks like I've got a great Biggest Loser dessert planned for tomorrow night. Does that sound like an oxymoron?... Biggest Loser dessert? It probably is, but ever since the creation of the show, we have watched it as a family, and I always cook a big (sometimes I'll even go for something "light") dinner, and ALWAYS a good dessert. Its just tradition. May not seem like something Bob, Jillian or Dolvett would recommend, but we DO get inspired by the show, and we have been eating better and doing better at exercising, so it all works out in the end! 

The weather is still bitterly cold. I snapped this photo out my front door yesterday. My wisteria is becoming encased in icicles. Its such a miracle that every spring, that vine begins pushing little buds out of the dry vines and the buds turn into gorgeous blossoms! Hard to even imagine in the state it's in now!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cabinet Transformation

Just in case you're wondering if our new grand baby has been born yet, this is what my calendar looks like for today.

I am a little paranoid about getting sick from all of the flu bugs and colds going around, so I don't want to go out too much and be around people. It would be the worst if I was sick and couldn't be around Junior (still don't know what the baby's name will be!).

To pass the time until we have our new grand baby, I have a list of projects as long as my arm, so I don't have to look around much to find something to do. I decided this morning was the perfect time to finish one of the projects.

A while ago, I picked this gem up at D.I. (a local thrift store). It was $15.00, so I figured I couldn't lose. I bought it, brought it home, and it served as a stowing place in our garage, right by the garage entrance into the house. Not really what I had intended to use it for, so we decided it was time to give it a second life. Bob took all of the doors off, and this is what it looked like. It was kind of a conglomeration of shelves and doors and inserts. It looked like it had been added to throughout the years.

I spray painted the hardware silver. I love how it all turned out. It originally had been a brownish, old aged metal, and just needed to be brightened up a bit. You'll notice in the photo there are toothpicks sticking out the sides of the handle. That is a trick I learned a while ago. It worked beautifully! Before I spray-painted the handle, I jammed those toothpicks in the sides, and it forced the handle to stay up while painting and drying. That way, you don't have the handle flopping over as you're trying to paint.

I painted the cabinet a soft robin's egg blue. I love the color!

The bottom two doors had openings where they had previously been covered in an old sagging paper. We removed the paper, and Bob cut two new board inserts (with his magic laser machine). I scored a great fabric remnant at Joann's. It would have been $10.00 regularly, then was marked down to $4.00 as a remnant, and then the remnants were 70% off yesterday. So, that brings the whole piece of fabric to just over $1.00. Not bad. 

I cut the fabric so that it was about an inch larger than the board.

I hot-glued the fabric down to the board, gluing one side first, and then the opposite side, so that I could stretch it nicely across the board.

I am going to get another type of fabric to cover the back side of the board so that if I want to, I can switch the boards around and have a different look. I'll show you that later on after I get the fabric and put it in place.

And this is what the piece of furniture looks like all painted up, hardware finished, and new fabric-covered inserts in place. Pretty cute, actually... and it cost me about $17.00 total! I am going to put it upstairs in one of the bedrooms. It should go perfectly up there! When I have that room done, maybe I'll share a photo of what it looks like in its new home.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gifts for the mommy to be

Today our daughter is officially 9 months pregnant! I can't possibly relay to you how ecstatic we are around here! The poor little fella is going to be smothered with love and attention!

The other day, I gave Whitney a few things from back in the day when I was expecting her. I gave her the little quilt I pieced and my sisters helped me quilt. The quilt is definitely not feminine colors, since we were told we were having a boy (the ultrasounds weren't quite as clear and accurate in those days, apparently).

I also gave her the journal I kept while I was expecting her. I made copies for myself, and gave her the original sheets. I kept it from the moment we found out I was pregnant, to several years after she was born. She was our third child, and those first three kids came quickly -- three in 30 months, to be exact. Soooo, I think I was doing pretty good to even have a few details of life back then. It was so much fun to go back and read through the pages. Sometimes I look back at that time in our lives, and it truly is a blur, and I wish I could remember more of the day-to-day things. This little journal, along with the others that I kept for the other kids, and for our family, serves as a great way to remember so much more of our lives. I wish I had been better through the years, but I'm grateful for what I have!

Oh, and I gave her her baby book, too. I copied the pertinent pages, and gave her the original book.  I remember when my mom gave me the things that she had from when I was born. I loved being able to look through it and see the little cards and things that she had kept.

And if you're wondering, I haven't stopped nesting. In fact, I was thinking to myself last night that its a real shame I don't nest more often. I am getting a lot of things done, albeit random things. Tuesday night, Bob was at his meetings, so I thought it a perfect time to clean our bathroom (which, incidentally has been on my list for far longer than I care to admit). I know, I know. Just because I cleaned the bathroom doesn't mean that I am nesting. But I did more than just the basic cleaning. I got a ladder out of the garage, and climbed up to the top of the columns and took the vacuum to them (large dust bunnies had collected in the unseen openings in the tops). I'm pretty sure I have never done that in the 13 years that we have been in this house, and I don't know why it seemed so important to do right then. I took my duster and went over all of the walls and doors, I cleaned the air vent, I cleaned the light fixtures, etc, etc, all in addition to the regular scrubbing and mopping of the bathroom. It is sparkling now. And I mean sparkling.

And you may also be wondering if I have been able to finish those two baby blankets yet. Why no, I have not. They are on my list, and if I can take a few hours out of my nesting, I will get them done. I can say that I did start on them last night, so we're making progress!

On a completely different subject, it has been sooooo cold around these parts lately. Whenever it hovers around 0 degrees, that is too cold, even if it is winter! I guess the up-side to it is that the snow stays around, and things look pretty and white. The down-side is that it's very, very cold. We have a feral (feral, but after a few years of feeding him, we can pet and hold him) cat that LOVES our old, 19-year-old cat. We've fed and sheltered the feral cat (Skippy) in our garage along with Scout for several years now. Even after all these years of knowing us and eating our food, Skippy can be a bit skittish. He ran out of the garage the other day when Bob was getting the snow-blower out, and hasn't been seen since. Its been several days, and the weather is too cold for him to be out in it, especially when he has spent the last several winters snuggling with Scout on their heated cat bed. I've been keeping a lookout for him, but haven't seen hide nor hair of him. I'm worried for Skippy.

This is what our porch looked like a few days ago, as the snow was beginning to gather...

And just a few minutes after I took the photo, the man of my dreams appeared out of nowhere (okay, he appeared out of the garage) to shovel and snow-blow and make sure things were nice and clear. He just never stops.

Brrrrrr. Makes me day-dream about spring!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Weekly Food Storage Plan: January Week 3

This week's food storage item is below, highlighted in pink. We are in the third week of January. To find the original plan and the prior weeks, see the blog post dated January 10, 2013.

January Week 3: Medicines: Excedrin, aspirin, Advil, Pepto Bismol, cough drops, Tums... whatever YOUR family will need as far as medications in the coming year.

January: Week 3
As with other weeks, you can assess what you want to store, and go as basic or complete as you desire. For my family, I have a bottle or package of each of the medications. I keep them in a container up on a shelf in our food storage room and I rotate them into regular use. Today, when I did my inventory of those supplies, I took the medications that were going to expire this year out of the container, and put them on my regular medicine shelf in my kitchen so that we'll use them. I also wrote those same medications on my shopping list for this week, and I'll get them back up on the food storage shelf and "inventoried" as soon as I have a chance to pick them up from the store.

Keep in mind that some weeks there won't be anything to "re-buy" since not everything expires every year, AND since there are many items on the list that never expire. 

If you get busy and find yourself behind on the lists, just pick up wherever you are and start again. The point is to just keep on working on having things in supply, and ANYTHING is better than NOTHING.

Once you have this system in place, it shouldn't take more than ten minutes a week to maintain it.

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. You can then click on any single week and it will take you to the blogpost that featured that week's items. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Grandma Nesting

Alrighty. I know I went through nesting as an expectant mommy back in the day, but would you believe I'm nesting as a grandma who is expecting her first grandbaby? Believe it... I am nesting. We're expecting our first grand baby any day now. He is due this Thursday, so when I say "any day", I couldn't be any more accurate. So, back to my nesting. I woke up on Saturday fully intending to work on two baby blankets that I need to finish for two new babies in our ward (I know, Bob... I'm using the word "new" very loosely here). To be absolutely honest, I not only need to finish them, but I need to start them, too. But, that morning, the first thing that popped into my head was a cleaning solution I had seen on Pinterest that boasted being able to clean stove tops, ovens, and just about everything else you can think of. Since that thought wasn't going anywhere, I decided I would give it a shot. I pulled all of the racks out of my oven, and put it on the Self-Cleaning mode. Then, I went to work on the racks. I made a paste out of baking soda and peroxide and applied it to the whole surface of each rack, let it sit for about 10 minutes, then scrubbed off the baked on gunk. Worked like a charm.

As I was working, I happened to glance at my stove top and thought that that, too, could benefit with this wondrous mixture. I have a stainless steel stove top that gets a brownish ring around the burners -- even when its clean. [Let me make one thing absolutely clear. I would not use this paste on a brushed stainless steel surface. I am pretty sure it would leave scratch marks, as it is an abrasive cleanser. The area around my stove burners has a different surface, and it doesn't show scratches, so I felt pretty sure it would take this treatment just fine. I wouldn't use it anywhere else on my stove top, where there is regular brushed stainless steel!]

The ring is a real pain to get off, so I usually leave it until someone like my son-in-law has had enough of it and starts scrubbing away. It really is hard to remove.

After finishing my oven racks, I applied the paste to the area around my stove burners, let it sit for several minutes, scrubbed a bit, and Voila! 

Looks pretty good, doesn't it!?  That is definitely a Pin that I would recommend trying. You probably have the ingredients already on hand, so its worth a try. Remember... baking soda, and enough peroxide to make a paste.

Sooooooo, back to my nesting. Have you ever heard of a grandma-to-be nesting? I mean, I know its real, because I'm doing it. I keep looking around for something to clean or organize, and my husband can attest that I can't sit still for two minutes without having something to occupy my time. I'm calling it nesting, but now that I think of it, it could very well be plain old anxiousness. Hmmmm.

Gotta go. I have two baby blankets to make... actually come to think of it, I think the microwave needs cleaning.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Mini S'more No-Bake Cheesecakes

The kids are all coming over for dinner and FHE tonight, so I thought I'd try a few new recipes. I made the dessert before anything else. It seems like if the dessert turns out great, everything else seems good, too!

I tried the recipe for Miniature S'more Pies from Chef-In-Training. I LOVE her recipes, and many of them have become staples in our meal repertoire. Check out her website ( for the original recipe. I tweaked mine a bit (I always do!). I also would call them Cheesecakes instead of Pies, since the filling is much more cheesecake-ish. 

The recipe calls for 6 mini graham cracker pie crusts. These are the ones I bought:

I really don't know if there are other types out there, but these are the only ones my grocery store carried, so the choice was pretty easy. When I made them, I doubled the recipe so it would feed the masses.

The slightly tweaked recipe is as follows:

Mini S'more No-Bake Cheesecakes
Makes 6

6 mini graham cracker pie crusts (they come in a pkg of 6)
8 oz. cream cheese, slightly softened
1 c. Cool Whip
1 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. marshmallow cream/fluff
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  *I used half milk chocolate, and it was still fairly dark
1/2 c. heavy cream
chocolate shavings

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, Cool Whip, powdered sugar, marshmallow cream and beat until well combined.

Evenly distribute the cream filling into the 6 graham crusts.

Smooth tops with a knife.

Pour heavy cream into a small saucepan and heat on medium heat, stirring constantly, until it reaches a boil. Remove from heat and stir in chopped chocolate until it melts and combines evenly. Let cool almost completely.

Spread chocolate ganache evenly over the tops of the pies, covering all of the cream cheese mixture.

Sprinkle with chocolate shavings, if desired.

This is a very simple dessert to make, and the individual cheesecakes are a perfectly satisfying portion. When I bought them, I thought they seemed so tiny, but since the filling is mounded into them, there is much more in each little crust than would appear!

Yummy, simple, and even looks a little fancy! We all loved this dessert!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Chicken and Fruit Lettuce Wrap

We are trying to eat lighter this year. We are pretty good at going down to the basement workout room to exercise, but we haven't worried too much about what we eat. So, since I'm the one who provides the meals, it seems like its up to me to get some lighter fare into our diets. I can't say that I make sure every single meal is purely healthy... we're getting there slowly but surely.

The other night, I needed to make a quick meal that we could eat between Bob getting home from work and running off to his Tuesday night meetings.  I had seen a chicken and apple lettuce wrap on Pinterest, and thought it might be just the thing.  I tweaked the recipe, and made it something we would love, and of course didn't take any photos of the finished product (but then I'm not really a food blogger, so I guess its okay).

We each ate one lettuce wrap and had some baked sweet potato fries to go along with. It was a perfectly satisfying and quick meal. The leftover chicken mixture was really good for the next couple of days for lunch. I'm sure if you are really cutting back, there are ways to make this even more healthy, but it was a good compromise for a husband who isn't really into diet food. :)

The recipe is as follows:

Chicken and Fruit Lettuce Wrap

1 rotisserie chicken (or 3 cooked chicken breasts) cut from the bones and chopped
1 Fuji apple, chopped (leave peel on)
1 c. red seedless grapes, cut in half
1 T. light mayo
1/2 c. coleslaw dressing (Lite dressing is best, if you can find it)
salt, pepper, onion powder
iceberg lettuce

Mix mayonnaise, coleslaw dressing, salt, pepper and a little dash of onion powder together in a bowl. Add chicken, apples and grapes and mix until everything is coated with the dressing.

Remove a leaf of the lettuce, and place some of the chicken mixture down one side of the lettuce leaf. Roll the leaf up like a wrap. Makes 6 lettuce wraps.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My tried and true week-by-week food storage and emergency prep system

Since its January, its time to start my food storage rotation all over again. I have been using a system that I have fine-tuned for a few years now, and I'm pretty sure I have most of the kinks worked out. The thing I really like about this particular system is that it breaks it all down to week-by-week. I also like that you can jump in wherever you are in the year, and just start from that month. Its a good, "non-overwhelming" way to get started (and continue!) on your food storage!

This is the sheet that I use that shows each month with four weeks listed and the items to work on each of those weeks:

The first year I implemented it, I just stocked our shelves with whatever was on the list for the week. The next year, at the beginning of each week, I checked my inventory of each item for the week, rotated if needed, tossed out expired things, and then made sure that my stock was up-to-date and consisted of the correct amounts for what our family needed.

To go along with the above week-by-week sheet, I have a corresponding inventory sheet (notice how the colors match up with the colors on the weekly schedule). It has all of the items in my food/emergency storage. This is one page of six in my inventory sheet set:

Every year I tweak it a bit according to our needs. Bob and I are pretty much empty-nesters (until our son comes home from his mission in May, and also not including the times our other kids come around), so we have adapted it all to the needs of two people, more or less. I also look at other lists that come across my desk and add things that aren't yet in our emergency storage. So, the list is ever-changing, which is good. I hate to throw food out, so I don't want to store more than I need to be storing. I try to store what we will use in the coming year. That way, it turns out to be about a year's supply of everything.

I'm going to post the food storage "items for the week" on this blog so that it will remind me and maybe spark something in somebody out there in blog-land to make sure you and I both, are ready for any upcoming emergency. One thing you need to know is that items for the week are guidelines. You can decide what in that particular category you would really want to have in your food storage. For instance, in the 2nd week of January, the items are cleansers. This could be just the basics that you might want to have set aside in case of an emergency, or the full-blown array of cleansers you might use in a year's time. I decided I wanted to do a true "year's supply" for my family, so I try to keep the basic items that I will use within the year. I may or may not include stain remover, or floor cleaner. It all depends on what you want to have in your supply. You also may want to start out with the very basics and then add to the list as the years go on. (A bit easier on the pocketbook!)

The first week in January, the items are easy...

January Week 1: Watch for and buy 50% off on Christmas items, cards, paper, ribbons, etc. If you don't care to score on any of the Christmas buys, then you get a pass this week!

The second week in January, the items are as follows:

January Week 2: Detergents, bleach, cleansers, laundry detergent, dish detergent, bathroom and window cleaners. Many cleansers last for several years, but I like to rotate through mine so that they don't get old or stale. You may not think of dishwasher detergent as an emergency item, but I like keep enough in stock so that I never find myself running out or in extreme need to run to the store. :)

Notice I've highlighted these in pink. They will correspond with the items on my inventory sheet set (6 pages) so that I can find them right away on the list, know how many I should have in storage, and then know how many I need to put on my shopping list for that week. On my inventory sheet set, I record the quantity I have, the size of the package, the expiration date, and the amount I should have in storage. There is also a place to mark off if I have enough of the item and the date that item was checked off.

Does that all make sense? Clear as mud, right? It makes perfect sense to me, but I KNOW I don't think the same was as everyone else, so it might just be a bunch of jibberish to all of you. If any of it is helpful, then its all good.

If you would like me to send you copies of the inventory sheet set, and also the week-by-week item list, just leave a comment below with your name and email address, and I'll zip one off to you!