Monday, June 16, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 6/16/2014 - Black Bean Salsa Chicken Soup

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Hello to everyone in bloggyland.

It's time again for Menu Plan Monday.  It seems like each week, I am getting busier and busier.  Not to mention more and more broke.  Accordingly, my menu plan for the week includes cleaning things out of my fridge/freezer and pantry.  The only thing I need to go to the store to buy is a potato for my TJ tacos on Saturday.

My plan is to only make the one store trip this week. We will see how that works. 

In addition to the meal planning, I am also trying out some new software for budgeting.  I plan on blogging the ups and downs with that experiment in the upcoming weeks. 

But for now, here is my menu plan for the week:

Tamales and mexican rice 
Easy Stroganoff served with rice
Chicken Fried Rice (made with the left over rice from the stroganoff)
Black Bean Chicken and Salsa Soup (recipe below)
TJ Tacos (other wise known as beef and potato tacos- recipe next week)
Bacon and onion Quiche

Grilled cheese sandwiches

Scrambled eggs
various cold cereals
fruit smoothies

Now, the recipe for the Black Bean Chicken Salsa Soup.  A coworker gave me this recipe many years back.  It's easy, inexpensive and really, really tasty.   This makes enough for 6+ good size servings.

Black Bean Salsa Chicken Soup

2-3  boneless, skinless chicken breasts (frozen works just fine)
2 cans black beans, rinsed
1/2 jar Salsa (I use Pace medium)
1 carton low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon Cumin

Place the chicken in the crockpot. Add the beans, salsa and cumin.  Cover with the chicken broth.  Cook on low 8 heat 8 hours or on high 4-6 hours.

Prior to serving, remove chicken breasts and shred with 2 forks.  Reserve.

Take out about 1 cup of the black beans. Mash and return to crockpot.  Add chicken back to slow cooker.  Cook an additional 30 minutes on high to thicken the soup.

Serve topped with your choice of sour cream, cheddar cheese, chopped onions or crushed tortilla chips.  


What's on your menu this week?

This post was shared over at:

Friday, June 6, 2014

Easy Trick for Hemming Pants

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Diva is short.  I mean, like 4' 11" short.  And according to her doctors, she isn't going to get much taller.    That means she has a problem with pants.

As she's getting older, she's starting to get curvier.  Little girl pants aren't fitting that well anymore. And junior sizes are waaaayyyy too long on her. 

I ran across this tip today for hemming jeans and keeping the original hem.  I can't wait to try it out to see if it works.  

You can find the original post here over at Do It Yourself Divas.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Easier Baked Potatoes (Or Why didn't I think of that?)

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A better title for this post might be "Duh! Why didn't I think of that earlier?"
I love baked potatoes.  Whether they are a side dish or the main meal, they are filling, delicious and relatively easy.  You can cook them in the oven, the microwave or on the grill.   The most difficult time I have with them is pricking the skin to make sure they don't explode all over where I am cooking them.
To keep them from exploding, we are told to prick the skin multiple times to let the steam vent.  Most people do that with a fork, which seems to always get stuck; or with a knife (just plain scary!) 
As I was getting ready to prep my potatoes for the grill last week, I opened the cutlery drawer and saw this:

Hello lowly corn-on-the-cob holder!

So I thought...hmmm....

And to my surprise, it worked! 

 It was fast easy to make multiple pricks in the skin, with no trouble to get the prongs back out and move on to the next spot.  I was able to go at least 3X faster with the corn cob holder than I ever would have with a fork or knife.

Not the potato I made, but pretty darn close.  Yummy!!!

I told you this was easy.  Don't you just want to slap yourself in the forehead for not coming up with this sooner?

I will be sharing this post over at:

We Are That Family

Monday, May 12, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 5-12-14

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Good morning, Sunshine.  It's a gorgeous day here.  The sun is shining. The birds are singing.  The breeze is blowing.  It's too nice to be in doors, so I'm just going to have a quick post this morning.
Here is my meal plan for this week.  And like always I will be sharing it over at I Am An Organizing Junkie's place.
Spaghetti with meatballs, salad and garlic bread
Chile Colorado (recipe to be shared later this week)
Cheese burgers,  baked potato salad
Grilled chicken, corn on the cob
Chicken pot pie
Tuna macaroni salad
Cheese enchiladas, rice and beans

Monday, May 5, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 5/5/14

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Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone.  

In keeping with the date, I will cooking Mexican food tonight.  There is a fantastic little Mexican market downtown that sells an incredible Fajitas Adobada (a marinated skirt steak that makes an awesome carne asada).  15 minutes on the grill is all it takes.  A little rice, refried beans and tortillas and dinner is good to go.  

The rest of the week is a mix of Italian, Southern and just plain old easy!

Monday- Carne Asada, rice, beans and tortillas  (if you can't find pre-marinated meat, you can find a great recipe here!)
Tuesday- Deep dish pepperoni and sausage pizza with a salad
Wednesday- Knock off Alice Springs Chicken, baked potatoes
Thursday- Baked brie (wrapped in crescent rolls), fruit salad 
Friday-  Pulled Pork BBQ sandwiches (made in the crock pot!)
Saturday- Cajun Chicken Pasta, salad

This menu has been shared at I am an Organizing Junkie

Monday, March 17, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 3-17-14, Grilled Chicken Quesadilla Recipe

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Happy Monday to everyone.
I hope you all had a great weekend.  Mine was filled with errands and laundry, just like every other day.  
This week promises to be crazy, like usual.  My menu has to be full of quick and easy meals if any of us plan to eat until Saturday.  So without further ado, here it is:
Monday: Corned Beef (cooked in the crockpot) served with boiled red potatoes seasoned with garlic and dill.
Tuesday:  Philly cheese steak sandwiches, salad 
Wednesday: Cajun Chicken Pasta, garlic bread, salad
Thursday:  Pancit and Lumpia
Friday: Sloppy Joes (crockpot meal)
Saturday:  Orange Chicken, fried rice
Sunday: Waffles with fruit topping
Breakfasts this week will be the usual fare:  Oatmeal, pancakes, yogurt with granola.
Lunches:  PB&J, Tuna salad, Chicken Quesadillas.
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned making shredded chicken in the crockpot.  It makes a great base for tacos, burritos and quesadillas.  Perusing the frozen food aisle at Costco, I saw that they had microwavable chicken quesadillas.  I knew it would be simple enough to replicate.  I've done this several times now, with rave reviews from my kids.

Crockpot Shredded Chicken:

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken pieces (breasts and tenderloins work especially well)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can diced green chiles (chiles, not jalepenos!!)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 onion, chopped.
Place all of the ingredients in a crockpot with enough water to just cover chicken.  Cook on low for 
6-8 hours or high for about 4.  When chicken is done, remove chicken with the chiles, tomatoes and onions in to a bowl.  Use 2 forks to shred the chicken. Serve as burritos, soft tacos, tostadas or quesadillas.

Freezer Chicken Quesadillas:

Shredded chicken cooked chicken (see recipe above)
18 medium sized tortillas
1 pound mexican blend cheese.
Add a small amount of cheese to each tortilla (depending on taste).  Top with shredded chicken.  If desired, you can add chopped onion or jalepenos.  Fold tortilla in half and wrap in plastic wrap.  Store wrapped quesadillas in a freezer bag.

To heat:

This one is up to you.  You can microwave them straight out of the freezer for about a minute.  You can also pan fry them in a teeny bit of butter on the stove top.   Diva's favorite way is to cook them in a panini press.  Any way you do it, they are yummy. 

These make a great quick snack or light meal. Serve with your favorite salsa or sour cream.  Enjoy.
This post was shared over at I Am An Organizing Junkie

Monday, February 24, 2014

Meal Plan Monday 2-24-14

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I hope everyone had a great weekend.  My week promises to be crazy-busy again, so there will be quite a few crockpot meals in this week's menu.  Thank goodness for the crockpot; it's a busy mom's salvation some days! And yes, I did plan this week's menu using the my iPhone on the go

Dinner Menus:
Monday: Meatball Subs (crockpot friendly)
Tuesday: Gulumpki and Mashed Potatoes ( a Polish stuffed cabbage dish.  Time intensive)
Wednesday: Chile Colorado (crockpot)
Thursday: White Chicken Chili (crockpot)
Friday: Pancit and Lumpia
Saturday: Beef Stew and cornbread (crockpot)
Sunday: Cheese Burgers
Left overs
Chicken Quesadillas (from the freezer- see post later this week)
Tuna Salad
Pancakes and sausage

Have an awesome week!  I will be sharing this post over at:
I Am An Organizing Junkie

Monday, February 17, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 2/17/14

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I didn't post my plan last week because I was stuck in a Code White at my hospital.  All I can say is, having a plan saved my hide.  I managed to get the shopping done and my kids and hubby were all set for the 3 nights I spent away at work sleeping on an air mattress!
This is the plan for this week.  Hopefully there won't be any snow to mess with things!
Monday: Chili and cornbread muffins
Tuesday: Fish Tacos, rice and beans
Wednesday: Shredded chicken burritos
Thurs: Pigs in a blanket, mac & cheese
Friday: Chicken Tortilla soup, salad
Sat: Chorizo Nachos
Sun: Sloppy Joes, salad
This post was shared at:

Organizing Junkie

Monday, February 10, 2014

Menu planning to go...

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Hello everyone!  I've missed the bloggy world!  My life seems like non-stop chaos these days.  Working full time again has kept me on the road and constantly sleep deprived.
Because I'm in constant go/panic mode, meal planning has kind of fallen by the wayside again.  It's one of those things I know I should do,  but it seems like inspiration strikes at the oddest times.  When I actually sit down to make the list out, I never come up with any ideas. To combat this, I've created a master go-to meal list of my family's favorites.  I keep it in a note on my computer and on my phone.  Why on my phone?  I'll explain more in a minute.
Like I've told you before, I work night shift. When I am home, I'm either sleeping trying to get ready for a shift or sleeping trying to recover from a shift.  My "awake time" is in the middle of the night when I am on my break.  I don't want to think about what I am going to make for dinner by standing in front of the fridge in between shifts.   Therefore, having a plan is the only thing between my kids and eating frozen pizzas 5 nights a week.
To make my planning easier and to keep up with my weird hours, I've started keeping my menu on calendar.  I use the calendar that comes on my phone and my Mac, though using Outlook or Google Calendar will work just as well.  To do this, I created a new calendar in my main calendar called "Menu plan"

Then, I add an "event" and apply it to that particular calendar.  It shows up in my monthly and weekly print outs.

Monthly view

Weekly view

Because I am using iCloud Calendar, it automatically "Syncs" with my phone when ever I add a new item.  It also works the other way around, I can add the plan from my phone on my lunch break at work and my home calendar is updated.  Cool.  No more writing the menu on the back of an envelope  and losing it between work and the car.
And the best part?  When I go shopping, my meal plan is there with me.  I just switch my view to "List"  and there it is in all it's glory to make sure I pick up the right things from the store on my way home.
If I'm feeling a little more organized or have more time, I can print out a "Day" view instead and have spots to write down all my ingredients to make sure I have everything I need.

This is saving my time, sanity and dinner!  It works for me.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Rolled Pillow Case tutorial with 3 options for the seams.

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I'm back to having a sewing room. Yay!  It's not quite set up yet. In fact, it's still a giant mess.  But that didn't stop me from getting the urge to sew something, anything!  Since it's been a while, I decided to start with these simple pillow cases.  They are fast, easy and inexpensive.  I chose fabrics to coordinate with Pumpkin and Diva's rooms.  Pumpkin is in a brown and teal phase. Diva, on the other hand, loves anything and everything Parisian.  I love these cases because they can be done in under an hour (including setting up my machine)  There are also several options for finishing the seams, depending on how detailed I want to be.

Rolled Pillow Cases with 3 options for the seams

(straight, French Seam and Serged)

For standard size pillow:
  • Main fabric (body of pillow)- ¾ yard
  • Cuff- ¼ yard
  • Trim (optional) 2 inches to ¼ yard, or ribbon/lace the same width as your fabric. This piece doesn't affect the finished length of you pillow, so it can be as narrow or wide as you desire.
 King sized pillow:
  • Main fabric- 1 yard
  • Trim and cuff as above
In addition, you will need thread to either match or contrast your fabric. Scissors and/or a rotary cutter.
Wash, dry and iron your fabric.  I’ve found it easiest to was the material inside a garment bag to keep it from twisting and the frayed ends from knotting as much.
Trim selvedges and any frayed ends so that your fabric is even. If you are using a trim piece fold it in half length wise and iron it. 
Lay the cuff fabric piece face up on your work surface.  Line the unsewn edge of your trim piece up to the top of the cuff piece and pin in place with just a few pins.
Cuff good side up with trim piece.
Next, lay your main piece wrong side up, lining it up with the top of the cuff and trim. You are making a fabric sandwich.  Pin through all layers.
Don't let it slip. Make sure all the edges line up and are pinned!

Starting from the bottom of your main fabric, roll like a burrito until you are about 2 inches from the top edge.  Do not mix the cuff or trim in to this roll.
Wrap the bottom edge of the cuff piece over your roll and pin in place so that you have one long tube of fabric.
Sew with a  straight stich along the pinned edge with a ¼ inch seam allowance, pulling out your pins as you go.  I am using a Husqvarna machine, so my plate is measured in millimeters.  I do my first seam with a 10 mm margin.
Now you have one gigantic tube of fabric!  Carefully pull the fabric until you have turned the whole thing inside out.  At this point, you may want to give the whole piece another quick touch up with the iron.  If you’ve used a wide piece of trim, you may want to run a row of stitches along the free edge just to save yourself some ironing next time you wash the pillow case.
Different case, but you get the idea!

Sewing this edge down now will save you lots of time later. The trim has a habit of flipping up during the wash cycle!
Now it’s time to finish the case.  If you are going to use a regular machine, you have 2 options.  If you don’t mind an unfinished edge inside the case, fold the fabric, width wise,  printed sides together and pin.  Sew around the pin edges and bottom using a ¼ inch seam allowance. Turn right side out, iron and you are done.
If you’d like a more finished edge, a French seam might be more to your liking.  Fold your fabric so that the wrong sides are together and pin. Run a row of stiches along the pinned side and bottom using a ¼ inch seam allowance.
Now turn your case so that it’s inside out and press along your new seams. Make sure your turn your corners out.  Now, using a ½ inch  (15 mm on the Husqvarna) seam allowance, run another straight line of stitches around the edges of your case.  This will enclose the previous seam inside the new seam and give you a finished edge.  Press and you are done!

A finished French Seam

The third option for this case is to use a serger to make your seams. Fold your material so that the printed sides touch, pin and serge the pinned edges using the serge stich of your choice.  I used a 3 thread narrow overlock stitch. Turn case inside out and press. Voila.

Diva is happy!

I'll be sharing this tutorial over at:
Hope Studios
Nap Time Creations
Crafty Creations


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