Thursday, October 22, 2020

Cooking Up Some Fun & Yum

 Fall is in the air here in the northern hemisphere!  We look to comfort foods and tasty treats.  I have a few ideas for simplifying and saving a few dollars and still be tasty.

Mix all your pizza toppings together in a skillet and cook up.  I add meat (ground beef and/or sausage) first then pop in onion, peppers and mushrooms - or anything that needs to tender up a bit.  Add whatever ingredients that you put on top of pizza and a jar of pizza sauce.
You can use this on top of toasted buns or bread, pita, fry bread or tortillas.  Use with tortilla chips or corn chips, crackers, over pasta or rice or just put it in a bowl and eat!!
Top with cheese of choice.

Skillet pizza on toasted buns.  So easy and tasty.  No heating up the big oven is necessary.  ENJOY

No need to spend extra for a ham with those glaze packs.  Get a cheaper ham and make your own glaze.

1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C honey
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Mix together and drizzle or spread over ham.  Mmmmmmm

It is apple time!
Nothing like a wonderful apple pie or apple crisp.  Love fried apples.
If you don't have luck making pie - try a crisp.  It is one of my favorites - regardless of fruit!

When it comes to frying or baking I am not particular to type.  I will use what I have and it always tastes good.

1 C flour
1 C brown sugar
1/2 C soft or melted butter
** 3/4 C oats & chopped nuts (combo)
** optional
Mix together and top your filling and bake at 375* for 30 minutes to crisp it up.

Here is a fun tip I sometimes use when making an apple crisp.  I mix in an 8oz. can of cranberry sauce with the apples.  Adds a great bright taste to the fruit.  Would be good with pears as well!

Don't throw away those 'past their prime' apples.  Peel and cut out spots and use for baking or frying.  Waste not want not!

We have all seen those small containers of caramel apple dip at the grocery.  Usually those containers are in the produce department real close to the apple display.  Not sure about your area - but they are are pretty pricey here.   They tend to run $3.50 - $4.50 for a little container.
Make your own - it is fresh, tasty and so much cheaper!!

8 oz. pack of cream cheese - softened
1C brown sugar - packed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Cream ingredients together, cover and refrigerate over night for flavors to meld.  Makes about 2 cups of YUM!
Slice up your apples and dip away.

**I like sliced apples with peanut better as well - another fun treat!!

Warm, comforting  and oh so good. 
8 oz. pack of cream cheese - softened
10 1/2 oz. can of chili without beans
2 C shredded cheddar cheese (or what you have)

Spread cream cheese in the bottom of an ungreased 9 x 13 pan - top with chili.  Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake at 350* for 20 minutes.
Serve with tortilla chips or corn chips.
Don't know about you - but this could be a meal or two for me - not just an appetizer!

Hope this gives you a few time saving and money saving ideas for food fun and yum.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Shopping Excursion and Prepping

 Last week I made a trip to Aldi.  It is on the outskirts of the park (where library is), I hadn't been in ages, so I decided to stop.  I am so happy I did - as it surely eased my mind.
I also ran into our local WM Market (just a grocery) and picked up some birdseed until I got back to the feed store.  I checked out everything and ended up helping my deep pantry.

I KNOW - my results are not the same every where.  I do believe that living where I do - makes my results different.  My city seems to be a real crossroad  for the country.  I guess that is we used to be known as the mid-west.  My city is centrally located in the state and all major interstates come through here.  Major trucking route from the east to the west.
So, that being said, I understand many places are still seeing stores low on product.  Just realize that things are turning around (at the moment).

At Aldi I was pleasantly surprised at how well stocked everything was.  There were no limits on anything except paper products (2 of any size packs of each TP and PT) and a limit of 2 of scented candles. LOL
I saw new items, holiday items, gift ideas, and lots of all the normal stuff.  Prices were great.  Most were the same or lower than the last time I was in there.
I love to buy snack foods there - so inexpensive and the flavor is great.  I am not brand loyal, so I try a lot of things.

I got individual flavored yogurt for .32 each.  Bought some extra chili beans for stock at .50 a can.  I got extra large eggs (marked L - but were huge!) for .89 a doz.  Milk was 2.29 gal.
They had lots of 3 packs of dry yeast on the shelves for .89 pack.  Canned pumpkin was .85 a can.  Lots of sugar, flour and baking products.  I found my favorite smoked Gouda cheese I get for the holidays.  I got enough to last a while for 2.99 a half pound (best price around here).  Bar cheese of all types - mozz., parm, cheddar, colby, pepper jack, etc. were 1.69 a half pound.  Taco shells were .89 for a box of 10.

Aldi - ranch chips 1.19 bag,   Corn chips - .75 bag,   Kettle chips - 1.29 bag.  SO much cheaper than brand name and they are tasty.  I use for Mexican meals and for sandwich days.

I ran into WM grocery for birdseed.  Made my way through the store - so many shelves were full and many items that have been lacking at ALL stores around here for months were available.
My big splurge was canned meat!  
Tuna and larger cans of chicken have been about the only thing available for ages.  I found it ALL at WM.

Smaller cans of white chunk chicken - .98 can.  Cans of chunk ham - 1.00 each.  Larger cans of roast beef - 2.75 each.  Pulled pork - 3.28.  I have tried all of these in the past and they are great to keep on hand.  All were dated (best by) well at the end of 2023.  The luncheon loaf (like Spam) is from Aldi and was 1.95 each.  Actually I like Aldi brand better than brand name Spam and it is much cheaper.  
I know many HATE it - but I like it fried with eggs, or chunked up and put into beans - really tasty that way.
I have some of those little canned hams in my pantry as well.  I generally get them at either Big Lots or Aldi.
It just really nice to know that there is meat on the shelf (just in case).  I can use it, I can help others, I have a feeling of preparedness an peace of mind.  I also have lots of canned tuna and salmon and many larger cans of chunk chicken.
I like having shelf stable meats and I have not ventured into pressure canning yet (to do my own), so I feel happy to have this.

Also found this at WM.  Marked down to .25 bag!!!!  I got 8 bags.  This is not individual bags, but full size.  I can't really make popcorn with butter that cheap.  Nice snack!!

Here is another fun idea.  This is a great way to make S'mores!  2 cookies and a large roasted marshmallow - YUM!

                                                    .95 a pack at Aldi.  Super fun treat!!!
Like I said earlier - I was just really happy to see so many great items on the shelves.  New items, older items that have been missing, and great prices.

I do believe that my pantry is good for a LONG time - except pet food which is an ongoing thing.

I noticed my neighbor carrying many large Aldi bags in yesterday (a single man).  He said he finally decided he should make a deep pantry and stock up with things he uses regularly.  I was smiling and he said "yeah - you finally convinced me it is important."
Keep on preaching gals - it may take time - but if your preaching about prepping makes one more person get busy - it is worth it!  

I sure do hope things start looking better in all areas of the country and world.  I am blessed to live in this location at this time.
Happy hunting and shopping.  Happy stocking!!!!!

Be encouraged by my adventure!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Some Days You Just Have to Laugh

 Good morning all.
I have a couple stories to tell you.  I am sure at least one will ring true to some of you.  A story of "well that didn't go as planned" and a story of an angel on Earth.

The Light Bulb Saga

It is dark here until at least 7:30AM here every day and it gets dark about 7:30PM.  Last week I was getting kitties fed and working on my morning drink when the kitchen overhead light burnt out.  I finished what I was doing with a kitchen night light.  Thinking I will get that changed after I watch the morning news.
Well, as all things go on - I get busy and forget.  
Come evening and I ran into the kitchen to get some ice cubes and flip the light switch.  Well, crud...I forgot to change the bulb.  Let's do it now and get it done.  Mind you it is 8PM.

Coody is in the bedroom on the bed (other side of house).  I turn on the dining room light so as to have some light and I position the adjustable flashlight to aim on the kitchen light.
I bring in my stepstool and get busy.  The globe is held in with 3 'tiny' screws.  Number one and two come out (I am being so careful not to drop them or the globe) - and oops - screw number 3 falls to the floor.  INSTANTLY Coogy is in the kitchen and sees it and smacks it!!!!!!
Under the washstand (microwave stand) it goes.  Well, crap.

I set the globe down and get off the stool.  Move the flashlight and can't see the screw.  So I get my yardstick and rubber band a micro fiber cloth in the end.  Reaching under stand I try to fish out screw - no screw - just what looks like baby kittens!!!!  Dust bunnies galore!!
I move the stand out from wall - and finally see the screw and LOTS and LOTS of dust bunnies.  Oh my word.  So now I need to clean under and behind while I am down there and know what is there.  
As I am working (on hands and knees) I kick Coogy's water bowl and water goes all over.
I put a towel down to soak up that - and then decide that I may as well 'mop' the floor after I get all the dust cleaned up.  My kitchen is small - so I clean the floor on hands and knees.
I pick up throw rug and figure I might as well step outside and shake it - dust bunnies all picked up - floor swept and them mopped.
FINALLY I get back on the stool and change the bulb and work to get the globe back on.  One screw doesn't fit as well as the other two and it is all I can do not to drop it again (mind you Coogy is watching intently).
Light bulb changed and globe in installed!  I have light!  Floor is clean!   It is now 9PM!!!!!!!  UGH

All that and I forgot to get my ice cubes!
Some days you just have to laugh and just shake your head.

Angels Among Us

I was at Aldi and I happened to notice an elderly women trying to open one of those plastic produce bags the stores have.  Of course she has on a mask - so no licking fingers!
I see her struggling.  I walk over and hand her an antiseptic wipe (I carry a baggie of them always).  I told they help me wet my fingers, so as to open up those little bags.  She said "what a clever idea, thank you".  We got to talking about masks, precautions and ventured to life, death and God.

I told her I was cautious but I believe my God has control of everything and only He knows when my day will come.  Her eyes got wide and she smiled and said "I love to hear you young people testify to your love of the Lord".  YES - she said "young people"!!!!
I had to laugh out loud - and I told her I was a senior citizen.  She seemed surprised and she said - "it doesn't matter to me, you are still a young person in my opinion."
We finished our conversation and gave each other blessings and went on our way.

I smiled all the way through the store and to be honest she made my day.  I have told this story to several since that day.  A small gesture on my part - a lovely conversation - and a common love of the Lord.  We were meant to cross paths.  Things happen for a reason.
I hope she smiled all day as well!!!!!

So there you have my stories.  I hope this 'young-in' gave you a smile or two today as well.
Blessings to all.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Weekly Wrap-Up 10/18

 Happy Sunday to all.  Hope you had a good week.

We have had a mish mash of weather this week.  Thursday and Friday nights got down into the 30's and we had heavy frost.  We have had rain (YAY), sun, wind, warmer and cooler temps.
This coming week is to be in the 60's and low 70's again and night in 40's and 50's.  We are supposed to get light rain many days -we'll see if old Jim (weather guy) is right.

The crimson maple trees are at their peak around my area and they are just glorious!  I do believe that is one of my favorite trees for fall color.  The critters are all hungry and eating lots - makes me wonder if winter is just around the corner.  Mr. Woodchuck looks like a tiny bear cub!!!!  I told me neighbor that Chuck's fur sure would make a nice warm hat or gloves!!  LOL  His fur is so thick and pretty.  He has really bulked up in the last week.
The kitties have enjoyed their warm beds this week.  They have been napping and sleeping in the greenhouse a lot more.

My week:
  • Got the hose out back all drained and put away for winter.
  • Got more of the garden and pots cleaned out.  Doing a bit each week
  • Did a color touch up on my hair
  • Used dehumidifier water in laundry
  • Kept a parmesan shaker lid and a shaker lid from a cheap spice bottle
  • I am on the budget plan for my lights and gas (you pay the same every month - 12 mos. a yr.) and this time I had a $88.05 CREDIT on electric and a $14.15 CREDIT  on gas.  WOOHOO
  • Ran to the library.  It is in the park and boy was it pretty!!!!!
  • Ran up the street from park to Aldi (haven't been in ages).  Happy to report they were FULLY stocked and NO limits - except paper products and scented candles!!!!  Yep, scented candles!  The prices were fantastic.  I went for chips/snacks (always so cheap), eggs, and yogurt - got a lot more goodies for deep pantry - will post this week.
  • I also ran into WM Family Market to get some birdseed until I get back to feed store.  I looked around and was so pleasantly surprised how well stocked it was.  Saw items I haven't seen in ages and many new items as well.
  • I came across some mixes I received in a gift basket at Christmas, that I had put back.  I figured I better get busy and use some of them up - (pretty sure I will more in a couple months - fingers crossed).  I used  a potato soup mix and added cauliflower, peas and bacon to it.  YUM.  I also used a mug cake mix I had, and it was a very tasty treat.

  • I have become so frustrated with my glasses I got a year ago.  They just never seemed right - but I kept thinking I just needed to give them time - then everything shut down.  I figured I was going to bite the bullet and spend more money for a new exam somewhere different.  Nothing seemed to line up right for clear viewing.  I always moving the glasses around, turning my head, etc.  In desperation (I figured what did I have to lose) I just messed with them a bunch this week and realigned and bent frames and ear 'thingies' a bunch and OH MY GOODNESS - so much better.  Geesh what a nimrod I have been.  I will continue to tweak, but I am much happier.
  • I got to go to my brother/SIL's for a cookout yesterday.  Saw all of their kids and grands that I haven't seen since the end of Feb.  I even got to meet my newest gr. gr. niece (born during shut down).  Golly, I love hugging babies!  It was a fun time.
  • Brother sent me home with a bunch more bell peppers!  I brought home some cookie cake as well!
Meals this past week:
Baked spaghetti and garlic toast
Baked spaghetti leftover and fried green tomatoes  (froze balance of spaghetti)
Loaded up potato soup topped with sour cream and crackers
Cup of potato soup and a chicken sandwich
Stir fry veggies over veggie pasta
Dinner at brothers - chili and chili dogs and goodies!
Had popcorn, apples and peanut butter, cheese and crackers all for snacks

So there you have it.  Nothing exciting or dramatic - just a day in the life!  No big anything going on  - just tidbits of this and that.  How was your week?  What has been everyone been up to?
Love hearing from you all.

I have a grocery store/pantry update this week and a sweet story and a laugh for you all!
I pray you are all safe and healthy.  
Blessings from my humble little home to yours.

Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Psalms 119:105

Thursday, October 15, 2020

CRISIS - Make a Plan

 A crisis can be anything - it depends on you and your life.  We have all had a crisis at some time in our lives.  Some have had many.  
FIRST we must take a moment and just breath - then make a plan.  You can deal with anything that comes your way with persistence and determination.

A crisis can be anything.  Loss of job or income, health crisis, family death, loss from weather event, etc..
How you deal with it is up to you.

1.  MINDSET - is so important.  Just try to calm down for a moment and know you HAVE to make a plan.  Analyze the situation and what you already have lined up, just in case.
Do you have a pantry to cover food?
Do you have an emergency fund to cover finances?
Do you have  some plans in case a death happens?  (Life insurance, wills, joint accounts/property, etc.)
Do you have a plan on where to evacuate in case of weather event or plan on sheltering in place?
Whatever the situation is - you HAVE to move FORWARD!!!  
Remember that and your mindset is better.

2.  MAKE A ROUTINE - don't just flounder and do nothing.  It is easy to do.   
Make yourself get up each day at a certain time - have meals at set times - pay bills on a schedule - take care of pets at certain times - maybe make phone calls at a certain time - go do errands on certain days and times - garden  at specific times - check on others, etc.
MAKE yourself follow a routine and stick to it.
Trust me it is easy to let yourself get down (no matter the situation) and get depressed.  We have to move and plan and DO!

3.  REASSESS - your life.  Depending on the crisis - your life may have just changed forever!  Older plans may not be practical now.  Regardless of your situation - you need to look at life and future life and probably make new plans, at least for the short run.
If you lost an income or job - well, vacations may need to be gone, budgets will need re-vamped, fun will look differently, cook at home and from scratch, etc.  You will have to do things differently at least for now.
If you lose a partner - your future will be totally different.  You have to alter your plans to take care of yourself.
If you go through a bad illness - others may need to help and pitch in for a while.  You may have to learn to accept help.  You will surely look at things and people differently.

Life will surely give us all detours at some point.  That is a given.  We just have to get past our momentary melt-downs (we all do it) and go forward.
All the worry and stress you do - fixes nothing!!!!!!  It makes you feel worse - but fixes NOTHING!

We all have the chance the get creative no matter the situation.  Creativity equals learning.  Learning equals moving forward and at some point contentment.   You have to push yourself and not give up.  Giving up is easy - pushing yourself forward is work, but my oh my it is worth it all!
You have to give 100% of yourself - no matter the situation.

Think back to the worst day in your life.............  Now realize you are still here!  You made it past that worst day.  I know we have all had many "worst" days.  Each time we think nothing could be worse - then at some point the horrible happens.  Yet you are sitting here reading this TODAY!  You got past that day.  It wasn't easy, it wasn't enjoyable, it was hard - but you are here.

We can get through what we need to get through.  We need to be persistent, move forward, calm down and breathe, make a plan and do it!

Prayer helps me get through all bad situations.  I known not everyone is the same, but I believe everyone is spiritual on some level.  Work hard and ask for spiritual guidance.  I truly don't know where I would be without it.

Look at a crisis as a learning situation.  From all bad things something good comes (it really does in some way).
Be the strong person you CAN be and THRIVE!!!!!

Blessings to all.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Yep - It is Fall

 Fall isn't just in the air - it seems to be every where.  Colors are really gearing up, animal behavior is different, leaves are falling, temperatures are changing - yep it is fall!

Crisp, chilly and dark mornings are now normal with temps warming during the day.  Sunshine and wind have been normal.  Predictions of frost are in the picture now.
It is still so dry here - we got very little rain the other day.  It was a HUGE wind occasion, but not much rain.  We are still on burn bans here and it is "camp fire" time.  

Next door and across the road.  Color is really starting to pop.  This picture doesn't do justice at all.
My tulip poplar out back.  I wish the camera did color the way I see it.  The tree is so yellow and bright
Squirrel nest in the middle of picture!  First time in 34 years that the squirrels have put a nest in the tulip tree!!  I always have (and do have) 2 or 3 in my maple tree.
A fall favorite.  I love Pay Day candy bars - one of my favorites.  Mix candy corn and salted peanuts together and get that taste by the handful!!!!   I know many people say YUK to candy corn - although it does come in flavors now.  If you like a Pay Day candy bar - give this a try.  Just tasty, tasty!!!!  Sweet and salty.
                                          Momma sunning her belly.  Kitties are loving the weather.
Hmmmm does anyone else see the face on the tree!!!  LOL  Seems the shadows of the leaves and the sun made for a face on the back tree!  LOL.    I see eyes and a nose - or maybe it's just my imagination!

New England asters.  The plant is huge.  As tall as me and at least 7' - 8' across.  Butterflies absolutely love it as do the bees.

The blue jays are back in force and yelling for sunflower seeds and peanuts - they sure let me know if they are out!  My big woodpecker is back as well - he disappeared for a couple months.  Squirrels are sure having fun.  Mr. Woodchuck (Chuck) is gorging up before hibernation begins.  I have tried to get rid of him to no avail (this is #2).  Guess I won't worry till next spring now.  He will be easier to catch then (he'll be hungry!)

Love getting to have the windows open a lot.  Fresh air is so nice.  Cool nights and no heat on and window open a bit - makes for good sleeping.
Cooking is changing up some.  I fix different things when the weather is cool.  Thinking about baking more - although I do not need sweets.  Maybe I can bake for the neighbors, they always like it.
An afternoon nap or curling up reading a book with an afghan thrown over me - is a favorite activity.  Fall scented candles burning - just comforts me.
Eating fresh apples and drinking cider or hot chocolate - other favorites.


Click on any picture to enlarge and see it better

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Enchilada Sauce and other Knock-offs

 Good morning.  There seemed to be some interest in the enchilada sauce I canned last week.
It is very easy to make.  You can use fresh tomatoes (as that is what the recipe called for) or you can use canned - whole, diced, crushed or add in plain tomato sauce.  What ever you have you can use.

It calls for the sauce to be very chunky - I used the stick blender on mine as I wanted it pretty smooth like the kind you buy.

ENCHILADA SAUCE - for canning
12 C of tomatoes (with a cup or so of water added)

Lemon Juice

6 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt

Cook up your tomatoes until soft and smooshy and some of the liquid is cooked off!  Like I said I blended mine up to a sauce consistency.  I also ONLY added about 1/2 C of water to mine - as they were juicy.
ADD 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice to each JAR and then add 2 tsp. of spice mix to each JAR (pints).  Add in tomatoes -   leave 1/2" clearance.  Clean tops and add lids and water bath 40 minutes after boil begins.
That is it!!!!!!
If using half pints - adjust the lemon and spice mixture added to each jar accordingly.
This was 2 batches.  So easy.  I did the 2 half pints, as I had a little left of tomatoes and spice for each batch.

I mentioned I made a BIG MAC type sandwich at home last week.
2 all beef patties, lettuce, cheese, NO pickle for me (don't like on sandwiches), added tomato and "special sauce".
My sauce was  a mixture of Thousand Island dressing, pickle relish and a squirt of catsup.  Tasted just like McD's sauce!  Just mix together till you get the right taste!  
Simple and homemade!!!!

I hade a 'poor mans' Philly beef and cheese and baked beans on day as well.
BAKED BEANS - was a little can of Bushes beans - a little brown sugar, a nice squirt of catsup and some onion powder.  Tasted pretty darn good  jazzed up.  Not like homemade made but sure better than just emptying a can!!!
I got these little individual cans on clearance a while back for .69 each.  Use what you have and jazz it up a little.  

I used lean ground beef.  Add beef and sliced peppers (from freezer) and some sliced onion and I even added a few frozen mushrooms to pan.  Seasoned and let it all cook together.  Drained fat.  Gave a good dash of Worcestershire sauce and a good dash of Italian dressing.  Let it all simmer together so flavors meld together.  Perfect!
I placed on open face hamburger buns (what I had) and topped with Swiss cheese.
Sure made for one tasty and hearty sandwich.

So there you go.  An easy-peasy canning recipe.  And a couple knock-offs I made for dinner.  Some days I see something on a commercial or a show and it just sounds good.  I figure I can use what I have and get close to the same results.
We all get into the mode that we want something different - just experiment a little.

Hope this gives someone some ideas.  Use what you have and have fun!