Monday, March 22, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: March 22nd

Last week, I stuck with my menu plan for only half of the week.  And even then, a couple of the days were switched around.  Leftover night was moved up a couple of days since we needed to run out one day too close to dinner time.  We each grabbed something from the fridge, heated it up in the microwave, ate and ran out to go shopping.  Gotta love leftovers for nights like that! 

Rice and Beans was skipped on Friday night.  I didn't get around to presoaking my beans and didn't want to do the quick soak method this time.  So, Rice and Beans was replaced with McDonald's Filet-O-Fish sandwiches.  Mmmmm!  I love junk food!  :) 

This week, I'm going to TRY to stick to the plan a little better.  And try to remember to soak my beans for the rice and beans for Friday. 

  • Monday:   pasta with vegetables, chicken, garlic and oil
  • Tuesday:  ham steak, Colcannon, corn
  • Wednesday:  chicken croquettes, rice pilaf, vegetable
  • Thursday:  chicken ala king
  • Friday:  rice and beans
  • Saturday:  leftover buffet
  • Sunday:  to be determined
The chicken with pasta a vegetables,  as well as the chicken ala king, will be made using diced chicken from the freezer that was cooked in February.  The chicken croquettes were also prepared and frozen in February. 

The colcannon and rice and beans are new recipes I'll be trying and posting either here or on my other blog:  My Vintage Kitchen

Read this post to learn about recipes that were included in last week's menu plan. 

I'm participating in I'm an Organizing Junkie's weekly blog carnival, Menu Plan Monday.  For recipes and menu planning ideas, go take a peek!

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Week of Food

Some weeks it seems to be all about food!  Do you ever feel that way?  Between the weekly menu planning, shopping lists, preparing and cleaning up the meal.  That's not even counting the actual eating of the food! 

Anyway, since it's been a while since I participated, I decided to a "week in review" all about food!

Last Saturday, we had company for dinner.  When I planned last week's meal plan, I decided to make All Day Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce on Saturday.  I figured Joe and I would have that for dinner over pasta and whatever sauce was leftover, I'd divide into smaller portions and freeze. 

Since I was already planning on making the sauce and knowing it makes a lot, we invited our very good friends over for dinner.  Having the sauce cook all day in the crock pot really made getting dinner to the table easy when our guests arrived.  All I had to do was pop the garlic bread into the oven and boil the pasta. 

This week, I planned a few meals knowing that I wanted to use my new Le Creuset baking dish that I received from CSN Stores to review.  You can read about it here. 

In the dish, I made an apple crisp.  The recipe I found online was too sweet.  It was tasty, but a bit too sweet.  Even for me!  So, I'm looking for an easy, not too sweet, apple crisp recipe.  Anyone have a tried and true recipe they'd like to share? 

I also made green bean casserole in the dish.  Mmmm.  I love green bean casserole.  I make it every year for Thanksgiving and try to remember to make it a couple more times through the year.  I usually have all the ingredients on hand, too.  I just need to remember to make it more often! 

I made stuffed peppers this week.  I misplaced my notes that I scribbled as I combined two different recipes, plus a few of my own ideas when I made them.  They turned out just a bit dry, so I want to make another batch of them soon and tweak the recipe just a bit more.  I'll try not to misplace my notes the next time! 

After reading my friend Lisa's post about twice baked potatoes.  I just knew I had to make some soon!  Since I follow a recipe that calls for 8 potatoes, I usually make them in the summer when we have friends over and barbecue.  Eight potatoes is just too many for the two of us.  Rather than cut the recipe in half, I decided to freeze some before the second baking.  Mmmm!  You can read about them here. 

I made a tasty and easy Ham and Cabbage Skillet dinner for St. Patrick's Day.  It's traditional in flavor and ingredients, but a little different in method. 

After dinner,  I filled my crock-pot with frozen vegetable scraps to make homemade vegetable broth.  I have more frozen scraps in the basement freezer too.  I should plan to make more next week. 

So, that's the week so far.  Lot's of talk about food. 

For more recipes, be sure to check out my other blog:  My Vintage Kitchen

I'll be linking this post to the following blog carnivals: 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Make the Most out of Limited Cabinet Space + a coupon.

I have a very small kitchen.  Not only is it small, the layout was poorly planned 50+ years ago.  And there is very little storage/cabinet space. 

Grace's things take up an entire cabinet.  This cabinet holds her quart-sized formula bottles, containers of juice, baby food jars, boxes of baby cereal, assorted baby/toddler snacks, sippy cups, plastic dishes, her utensils, etc. 

Every time I would put Grace in her high chair, I would have to run to her bedroom to grab a bib.  We live in a rancher, so it's really not that big of a deal to run down the hall to grab a bib, but with every meal, it was just getting to be annoying.  Besides, I would usually remember that I needed to grab a bib after Grace was already in her high chair and once she's in her chair, she wants to eat right away!  She doesn't want to wait for me to run to her room. 

I didn't want a pile of bibs sitting on the kitchen table all the time and I just didn't have any more space in "her" cabinet.  Or so I thought. 

A couple of months ago, I had an idea.  Attach a hook to the inside of the cabinet to hold Grace's bibs.  I started to make a mental note to call Joe and ask him to stop at the hardware store for some sort of hook to screw into the cabinet door.  I was thinking a cup hook or some other small hook. 

I then remembered that we used some of those Command Hooks by 3M to attach our garland to the top of our mantel over the holidays.  So, I went out to the garage and grabbed one and attached it to the inside of the cabinet. 

I can squeeze about 5 or 6 bibs on that hook and as long as I remember to replace the dirty ones with clean ones, it saves me running down the hall while Grace is making it known (loudly) that she's ready to eat! 

Here's a picture of the Command Hook by 3M in use: 

I love that this can easily be removed once Grace refuses no longer needs to wear a bib!   And there won't be any holes left once it's removed like there would be if I used a cup hook like I originally planned. 

When I went to link to the Command website, I found a couple of printable coupons.  One for $1.00 off Command Picture Hanging Strips and another for $1.00 off Command Hooks. 

Click here to download and print the coupons.  Act fast, these coupons expire 3/31/10. 

I'll be linking this post to the following blog carnivals:  
Be sure to read my CSN Stores / Le Creuset product review that I posted on Thursday afternoon! 

CSN Stores / Le Creuset Product Review

Jessica, from has recently given me the opportunity to choose an item from one of their many online stores to review.

I was given a $30 price range (to include shipping) to shop for something that I'd like to use and review.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I LOVE to shop.  Online, out of a catalog, at the mall.  It doesn't matter.  I LOVE TO SHOP!  And I LOVE a good deal.  So, even though I was shopping with money that wasn't mine, I still wanted to get a good deal. has over 200 stores to choose from!  So, it's like a huge shopping mall right at your fingertips!  So much easier than taking a cranky 10 month-old to the real mall!  (Grace hates the mall.  She must get that from her daddy!) 

Jessica directed me first to the kids bedding section at since that's her department.  I loved looking at all the wonderful things for kids' rooms, but since Grace's room is the only finished room in the house, I knew I wouldn't be needing anything for her room.

So, I moved on to one of  CSN Stores other online stores:  I cook everyday (okay okay, maybe not every day, but close), so it seemed that I'd get the most out of the $30 price range and the most use from a kitchen item.

I've always wanted to own something from Le Creuset.  Most of all, one of their enamel coated cast iron dutch ovens.  But I've never been able to figure something that costly into our budget.  I was so pleased to see that offers Le Creuset stoneware items in the $30 price range, some even with FREE SHIPPING. 

After lots of thought, I chose the Le Creuset 12" x 9.5" rectangular dish.  The list price was $36 and was on sale for $29.95.  It also happened to be one of the items that offered FREE SHIPPING. 

I chose the Caribbean color since it reminded me of the vintage Fiesta Ware dishes that my great-grandfather had.

After placing my order with Jessica, my package arrived 2 days later!  Wow!  That was fast!  And just so you don't think it arrived that fast since the order was placed with Jessica let me tell you:  after reading my preview post, my friend, Lisa, ordered something from CSNstores and it also arrived 2 days later!  (More about that in a later post!)  

I've used the baking dish 3 times since it arrived on Friday.  I really wanted to  put it to the test in order to give an educated review of the product.   

On Saturday, we had company for dinner.  I decided to make an apple crisp for dessert.  I've never made one before and had no idea that the recipe I used called for WAY too much sugar.  The extra sugar caused the apple crisp to really stick to the pan and I thought for sure that I ruined it. 

Here's what the dish looked like after the apple crisp was eaten: 

I let it soak overnight and it cleaned up great!  Whew!  I don't know what I was thinking trying a new recipe in the baking dish before trying something I knew would turn out!  Especially, since I'm not much of a baker!  But I was anxious to use it and All Day Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce was already planned for dinner that night. 

Monday night, I made green bean casserole using the dish.  I make that recipe all the time, so I knew it'd turn out perfect and really show how great the baking dish really is! 

This time, clean up was a lot easier.  I let it soak for just about 1/2 an hour and then washed it with a soapy sponge.  Perfect! 

Tuesday night, I made stuffed peppers for dinner.  I had a bunch of peppers that needed to be used up before they spoiled and I was looking for something else to make in the dish!  Perfect! 

This time, clean up was even easier!  I simply rinsed it and put it in the dishwasher!  I wouldn't normally put something like this in the dishwasher, but the care instructions that came with the dish, said that it is dishwasher safe.  And it is! 

In the past, for the recipes I prepared using the Le Creuset baking dish, I would have used a clear glass, rectangular Pyrex baking dish.  And while I still like the Pyrex baking dishes, the Le Creuset looks prettier on the table and cleans up a bit easier.  

You'll probably see this being used a lot in future recipes posted here and on my other blog, My Vintage Kitchen.    

I definitely recommend the Le Creuset 12" x 9.5" rectangular dish. 

Also, my experience with CSN Stores was so great, I just ordered Grace's birthday present from them last night!  I can't wait for it to arrive! 

Disclosure: The product I received was provided by  The opinions and views of this product mentioned in this post are my own.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ebates: Earn money when you shop online.

Have you heard about Ebates?  If you have, then you already know that all you have to do is sign up and start shopping to earn a percentage back from your online purchases. 

I just signed up tonight, after reading a post at Colie's Kitchen.  Before tonight, I never heard of the Ebates and I'm really sorry I didn't know about them sooner!  I've been doing so much shopping online since Grace was born.  And many of my favorite stores (Barnes and Noble, Old Navy, Baby Gap, Babies R Us, Oriental Trading and many more) participate in this great program. 

It's not a huge savings, just a small percentage.  But for items I'm planning on purchasing anyway, it adds up.  It only takes a few seconds extra to log onto the website to see if the online store I'm planning on making a purchase with is a participating shop. 

They keep track of your earnings and send you a check at the end of the designated time period.  Currently, checks will be sent out on May 15th. 

Use this link to sign up and start earning some money back from your online purchases! 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: March 15th

I'm a bit late posting my menu plan this week.  I was having a bit of trouble deciding what to make this week.  The challenge was in trying to plan meals that will allow me to use up some vegetables in my veggie drawer in the fridge before they spoil, planning a meatless meal for Friday (Lent), and planning something for St. Patrick's Day. 

Just when I thought I had it all figured out, Joe called from work requesting Shepherd's Pie one night this week.  He doesn't make requests often so even though I already had a plan, I really felt like I should switch my plan around and include Shepherd's Pie.  

I'll try to post recipes for some of these meals sometime this week.  Either here at Under the Big Oak Tree or on my other blog, My Vintage Kitchen.

  • Monday:   roasted chicken breast, twice baked potatoes, green bean casserole.   
  • Tuesday:   stuffed peppers
  • Wednesday: ham steak, potatoes, cabbage 
  • Thursday:  shepherd's pie, biscuits 
  • Friday:  beans and rice, corn muffins 
  • Saturday:  birthday party
  • Sunday: leftover buffet 

I'll be trying a new recipe on Wednesday.  I have two recipes in mind and haven't chosen which one I'm going to make yet.  I'll be sure to let you all know what I decided on and share the recipe with you!

This week's menu plan is being shared with Menu Plan Monday hosted by I'm an Organizing Junkie

Be sure to check back later this week to read my review for a Le Creuset item from

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Another Sneak Peek: CSN Stores Product Review

I am so excited!  My package from arrived on Friday (Wow!  That was fast!)  with my Le Creuset item that I am going to review! 

This isn't the review yet...just another sneak peek! 

Can you guess which item I picked? 

Tart Pan in Cherry

Rectangle Baking Dish in  Caribbean

Mortar and Pestle Set in Caribbean

Multi-colored Prep Bowls

So, did you guess? 

I'll only tell you that I've used it once already!  I want to use it a couple more times before I give the official review. 

Also, I'll have you know that looking over the website, I had a very difficult time choosing what item I wanted to review.  I finally had it narrowed down to the four items listed above and still had a difficult time choosing! 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sneak Peek: CSN Stores Product Review

Are you familiar with CSN stores?

I had heard of them before, but never took the time to really check them out until last week.  Jessica from CSN sent me an email to invite me to take a look at the  kids bedding that they offer in one of their 200 stores! offers a wonderful selection of baby and children's bedroom furniture, decor, toys and lots more!  Even though it will be a while before we need to turn Grace's nursery into a "big girl" room, it was still lots of fun "window shopping"!  I'm sure I'll be doing some birthday shopping for Grace in their toy selection very soon! 

Jessica also invited me to choose an item from any of their 200 stores to review and keep.  Of course, I had to choose something for the kitchen! 

I'm not going to tell you what I chose....not yet, anyway!  But I will give you a clue:  Le Creuset! 

I can't wait for it to arrive in the mail, so that I can test it out and tell you all about it!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: March 8th, 2010

Hello, everyone! 

Just wanted to pop in to post this week's menu plan.  I've been really bad about menu planning the past couple of weeks.  The winter and the snow has been really getting to me, to the point that I couldn't even SOUND cheerful when I typed! 

This weekend was so bright and sunny and we all enjoyed it!  Especially the dog!  She has most of her yard back now that the snow is almost completely melted, I don't even think that she minds the mud! 

I'm hoping that the sunny days will hang around for a while and get me motivated to get stuff done and even keep me cheerful and positive for my blog posts!  I have plenty to talk about, just lacked the motivation!

For now,  let's start with this week's menu plan: 
Since I'm not sure what the weekend will bring, I only planned meals for the weekdays this week.  If we're home, we'll eat leftovers. 

I'll be sharing this post with Menu Plan Monday hosted by I'm an Organizing Junkie
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