Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Crock Pot Potato 3-Bean Soup

A few weeks ago, I read an article about a blogger (and her family) that lives on a $14,000 a year income.  Being a food blogger, I immediately had to check out the recipe section of Danielle's blog, Blissful and Domestic.  Of course, I wanted to find some frugal meal ideas to add to my weekly menus!

Since we love beans and I'm always looking for new meatless meals, I knew right away I'd be trying this crock pot soup recipe!  I made a couple of small changes based on what we had in our pantry and since I'm not too fond of cilantro, I left it out.

Potato 3-Bean Soup
     adapted from Blissful and Domestic

  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained/rinsed
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained/rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, drained/rinsed
  • 4 cups beef broth 
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 Tbs. taco seasoning
  • 1 small can diced chillies
  • toss all ingredients into crock pot, and allow to cook on high for 3-4 hours.  

  • This soup was delicious!  I'll admit that I wasn't sure about the combination of beans with the potatoes, but I loved it!  So tasty and filling at the same time!  
  • Dry beans, cooked ahead of time (as Danielle suggests) would make this recipe even more frugal.
  • This was a super-easy soup to throw together.  I decided to make it on a very busy morning and had it assembled in no time!  My only problem was that I forgot to plug in the crock pot and didn't notice until 2:00.  My crock pot had this soup ready by 5:30 when set on high!  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring: A New Season Brings New Changes

Happy first day of Spring, everyone!

I don't know about you, but I sure am looking forward to some nice weather!  We've had snow TWICE this past week!  Not the weather I expected leading up to the first day of Spring!

But, as much as I am looking forward to the new season ahead, I cannot help being reminded that the first quarter of the year is almost over.  What have I accomplished since the start of the year?

With every new year, I make the same three resolutions:
  1. Lose weight/get healthy. 
  2. Get Organized. 
  3. Save Money.  
Every year, I fail miserably.  

This year, I've only followed through with my third resolution.  Thanks to this 52 Weeks of Savings plan, I've challenged myself to put a few bucks into our savings account each week.  So far, I've succeeded.  

Getting organized and getting healthy?  Not so much.  Aside from considering my options, nothing else has even been attempted to bring myself closer to these goals.  How depressing!  

I'm overwhelmed with the clutter in my house and just don't know where to begin.  I have a feeling I'll be purging another 500 items (maybe more) from our home.  I'll try to do better at documenting my progress once I start.  Last year, I succeeded in removing over 500 items in a month's time.  I just failed in reporting back here each week.

Would anyone be interested in doing the 500 Item Challenge with me this year with a weekly link-up?  April 1st would be a good day to start.  

While I sit here, snuggled on the sofa with the dog, I find it difficult to believe that Spring and Summer will be here soon.  As much as I won't miss the cold, grey and dreary weather, I find comfort in my bulky, warm layers of clothing.  Spending many months as a couch potato, I am in no way ready for short sleeves, shorts and let's not even talk about bathing suits!

Over the weekend, I picked up two books,The Digest Diet: The Best Foods for Fast, Lasting Weight Loss    and The Digest Diet Cookbook as they were recommended to me from a friend.  Each week, she's been checking in with her results and she is doing great!  

I'll be spending the rest of this month gathering my games plan (and my courage) to tackle the clutter and the calories that are keeping me from achieving my goals for 2013 as well as making plans for our vegetable garden.  I'll be trying my best to come back here with updates as well as tips and tricks along the way!

*Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  I will receive a small compensation if you purchase the books linked in this post.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Menu Plan Monday 2013 ~ Week of March 18th

Due to a variety of different reasons, one being that I was knocked on my butt by a stomach bug, we didn't get to most of last week's planned meals.  This week, you may see a couple of the items repeated, but some will appear at a later date.  

Although, it's only Monday, I really feel as if the week is almost over.  I guess since there's so much that needs to get done around here for my HP Wake Up Your Walls House Party for this weekend and then, of course, there's Easter just right around the corner.  

The house needs a good cleaning.  I've been slacking around the house for the past several weeks while I focused on other things.  Grace is anxious to get the house decorated for Easter (or as she says:  "Let's decorate for Spring!") but we can't decorate an already messy house!  So, tonight I plan on getting some cleaning done after Grace goes to bed. Then hopefully tomorrow we can pull out the "Spring" decorations!  

I'm keeping the menu super-easy this week:  


Turkey Corn Chowder 
A busy afternoon at the mall,
then back home to do laundry
calls for some leftover soup!  


Ham & Cabbage Skillet 
I need to make room for the leftover Easter Ham,
so this is a good way finish up the ham from Christmas.  


One Dish Chicken Dinner
This is one of the dinners that didn't make it to the table last week.
I'm looking forward to enjoying it this week!


Leftover Night


Crock Pot Ravioli
Just a couple more meatless Fridays
until Easter.


HP Wake Up Your Walls House Party
As of this moment,
I'm still undecided on the menu for the party.
I'm pretty sure I'll make use of my crock pot, though!


I'm longing for some "summer" foods!
This dinner should do the trick!  

Now that you know what we're eating this week, let us know in the comments what's for dinner at your house this week! Or, if you need more menu planning inspiration? Follow me over to Menu Plan Monday hosted by I'm an Organizing Junkie! Or, if you like what you see here, you can check out my past menu plans.

You can also find this week's menu plan linked to On the Menu Monday hosted by Yvonne at Stone Gable. If you haven't checked out Yvonne's blog before, I suggest you drop everything and head on over to check out her delicious recipes, inviting tablescapes and stunning photographs!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Turkey Corn Chowder

I can't remember where I first had my first taste of Chicken Corn Chowder.  It could have been at a local deli when I first started working at the flower shop oh-too-many years ago to count.  Or, it could have been on a day trip to Lancaster, PA when I first started dating my hubby.  Either way, I was hooked ever since!

While the trips to Lancaster didn't happen too often, I could always count on the deli to serve up my favorite chowder at least once (sometimes twice) a month.  Soon, that wasn't enough to satisfy me!  I decided I'd try to make it myself.  Someday.  

Looking through my trusty Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, I was excited to find there was a recipe for corn chowder without the chicken.  Of course, I had to have the chicken, so I always added it near the end of the cooking time.  A few other small changes led us to our favorite Chicken Corn Chowder recipe...or in today's case, Turkey Corn Chowder!

Turkey Corn Chowder
     adapted from  Better Homes & Gardens

  • 3 slices bacon, diced 
  • 1/2 c. onion, diced
  • 1/2 c. red bell pepper, diced 
  • 1 medium potato, diced 
  • 2 cups chicken broth (canned or homemade) 
  • 3/4 cup diced turkey breast
  • 2 T. all-purpose flour (or Wondra) 
  • 1 1/2 cups milk 
  • salt & pepper, to taste 
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes 
  • Chipotle Tabasco sauce, for garnish (optional) 
  • In a dutch oven, cook diced bacon until crisp.  
  • When bacon is done, remove from pot with a slotted spoon. 
  • Drain all but 1 Tbs. bacon grease from pot.  
  • Add the onions and peppers to the hot oil in the dutch oven, cook until tender.  
  • Stir in broth, potato and corn.  
  • Bring to boil. 
  • Stir in the turkey.
  • Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes (until potatoes are tender).  
  • In a small bowl or glass, mix together the flour and milk.  Once well combined, stir into the chowder.  
  • Season to taste with the salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes while allowing to cook uncovered until thick and bubbly.  
  • If desired, use an immersion blender to lightly puree the chowder to desired texture.  
  • Stir in crumbled bacon.  
  • Once chowder is thick and bubbly, allow to cook for one minute longer before serving.  

  • You could easily use bacon leftover from the morning's breakfast or from the BLTs you enjoyed for lunch, just be sure to reserve some of the grease to cook your veggies.  It brings that wonderful smokey, bacon flavor throughout the entire pot of soup! 

I make corn chowder several different ways, but this recipe has continued to be our favorite even after all these years! 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lazy, Snowy Saturdays and St.Patrick's Day

Grace and I are enjoying a lazy Saturday morning on the sofa.  Looking out the back window, we're watching snow fall.  As pretty as it looks, I really do hope it's the last of the snow before spring arrives.

Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, so later today Grace and I will whip up a batch of Irish Potato Candy and tomorrow Joe will enjoy some Corned Beef and Cabbage that will cook in the crock pot while we run a few errands.

Later in the week, I'll make my favorite Ham and Cabbage Skillet with the last of the Christmas ham from the freezer.  That should make some room for the leftover Easter ham I'll be needing to freeze in just a couple of weeks!

How are you spending your weekend?  What's on your St. Patrick's Day menu?  Share with us in the comments!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Inspired by Pinterest ~ Sesame Soy Pork Chops in the Crock Pot

I don't cook pork very often.  Personally, I'm not a huge fan.  I do add it to our menu every now and again just for a change from our usual beef or chicken dinners.  Especially, when it's on sale cheaper than chicken at times.

Talking to a friend a few weeks ago, I wanted to try a recipe for Maple Glazed Pork Chops.  For some reason, I assumed that the recipe was for the slow cooker.  Instead, it was a grill recipe.  Not the cooking method I was prepared for today.

While the kiddos played nicely together, I decided to search Pinterest for Crock Pot Pork Chop Recipes and came up with quite a few options.  This recipe for Peking Pork Chops seemed to be the easiest for the time frame I had to throw it together and get it cooking.

Sesame Soy Pork Chops in the Crock Pot
     adapted from

  • 4 bone-in pork chops 
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger 
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce 
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 heaping tsp. minced garlic 
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • Place chops in bottom of crock. 
  • Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl. 
  • Pour over meat, flipping chops to cover both sides.  
  • Cover, set on low for 4 hours.  
  • To toast the sesame seeds, I just sprinkled them into a nonstick pan over medium-high heat and shook the pan to toss the seeds a bit until they turned golden brown.  

Oh, goodness!  This dinner was so delicious!  The pork was so moist and tender, not dried out which is usually how pork chops turn out when I cook them!  The meat fell right off the bone as I served up our dishes!  I do think this will be our go-to pork recipe.

I've linked this recipe to the following blog carnivals and linky parties:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Menu Plan Monday 2013 ~ Week of March 11th


Corn Chowder 
We love corn chowder and make it often throughout the year.
This is our favorite version of the hearty soup! 


One Dish Chicken Dinner 
Such an easy and delicious dinner.
Perfect dinner for a busy weeknight!


Leftover Night

Corn Dog Casserole,
Oven "grilled" Potatoes
It's been a while since we've made this meal.
Leftover baked beans is the perfect excuse
to serve this dinner favorite!
Comfort food at it's best!


Crock Pot Spicy Cannellini Soup
I can't wait to give this meatless, crock pot soup a try this week!
It's budget friendly and looks delicious, too!


Pasta with Easy Bacon Tomato Sauce
Bacon!  Need I say more?!

Corned Beef and Cabbage 

Now that you know what we're eating this week, let us know in the comments what's for dinner at your house this week! Or, if you need more menu planning inspiration? Follow me over to Menu Plan Monday hosted by I'm an Organizing Junkie! Or, if you like what you see here, you can check out my past menu plans.

You can also find this week's menu plan linked to On the Menu Monday hosted by Yvonne at Stone Gable. If you haven't checked out Yvonne's blog before, I suggest you drop everything and head on over to check out her delicious recipes, inviting tablescapes and stunning photographs!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Inspired by Pinterest ~ One-Dish Chicken Dinner

I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest.  I love that I can find new decorating tips, craft inspiration, new recipes, etc. all in one place!  I hate the fact that I lack the self control it takes to limit my pinning time, resulting in hours and hours browsing through all of the wonderful tips and tricks shared by other "pinners".

Every once in a while I manage to drag myself away from the computer screen and actually prepare one of the delicious recipes that I've pinned.  Sometimes, like this time, I need a nudge from a friend!  The recipe I am sharing with you today was highly recommended by a friend of mine.  Kristen has made this recipe for her family several times already and it was especially loved by her two year old!

Kristen told me that the original recipe called for a pack of Italian Dressing Mix but said the recipe works well with Ranch Dressing Mix or Onion Soup Mix.  Since I already know that Joe and I LOVE making our roasted potatoes using the onion soup mix, I decided to use that for this meal.  I was not disappointed!  This recipe is a keeper!

One-Dish Chicken Dinner

  • 3-4 russet potatoes, scrubbed and diced
  • 4 boneless chicken breast
  • frozen green beans 
  • stick butter, melted
  • 1 packet onion soup mix

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Place chicken in a line in the center of 9x12 baking dish. 
  • Arrange potatoes in a line on one side of chicken and green beans on the other side. 
  • Sprinkle onion soup mix over the entire dish (as evenly as possible). 
  • Pour melted butter over the top. 
  • Cover with foil and bake for one hour.  


  • The original recipe called for canned green beans, I used frozen since that's what we had on hand.  

This was good!  Really good!  The aroma from the kitchen while this was cooking for an hour was torture!  It smelled so wonderfully delicious that I just had to sneak a bite before getting this to the table for dinner.  As a result, I burned my tongue!  It was well worth it!  I really loved how easy it was to put this meal together.  I have a feeling that I'll be preparing this meal a few times in the weeks ahead as we'll be a bit busier around here than usual.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Menu Plan Monday 2013 ~ Week of March 4th

While I'm not one to wish my days away, especially when I'm already feeling like Grace is growing up too quickly.  But after a pretty rough day around here yesterday (the reason I'm late posting this week's menu plan) and another not-so-great day today.  I'm really looking forward to snuggling up on the sofa tonight to watch some TV.  Quiet time for mommy is very much needed and I'm counting the hours until Grace's bedtime.  Seven and a half hours until the peace and quiet I need so very badly.  Of course, I may have just jinxed myself and she'll be awake all night...much like the past 2 nights.  sigh.  

So with that said, I'm trying to keep this week's menu pretty simple while also trying a couple new recipes.

Here's what's on our menu this week: 


Cheese Steak Wraps,
Oven-baked Fries, 
Yesterday was a disaster of a day.
Nothing major, just a bunch of little things
that added up to a very exhausting day.
Something simple was needed for dinner.
Good thing I thawed a package of
shredded steak the night before!


Braided Spaghetti Bread 
This was on last week's menu,
we just didn't get around to it.
Another easy meal for another long day!
k ,.mnu7kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk  /l;lfbnm.//jjjjjjjjjjjjjkkkkkkn nkk nn
'uhh    <<<-------- Grace's first attempt at blogging


Ham Steak
Baked Beans

I'm looking forward to summer meals.
Burgers and dogs on the grill.
Corn on the cob, potato salad, baked beans
and all that good stuff!
For now, we'll have to settle for just the beans!


Creamy Black Bean & Salsa Chicken 
over rice.  
While looking for dinner inspiration,
I came across this recipe.
I love this combination of flavors,
so I'm sure this recipe will be a keeper.


Veggie Fried Rice 
Vegetable Stir Fry
I've never made fried rice before.
I'm hoping to have the chance
to give it a try this week.

Pizza Night 
We've been wanting to try Papa John's
Steak and Cheese Pizza
ever since we first saw it advertised
a few weeks ago.
We're hoping it will be similar
to a Steak Pie we miss from Philly.


Now that you know what we're eating this week, let us know in the comments what's for dinner at your house this week! Or, if you need more menu planning inspiration? Follow me over to Menu Plan Monday hosted by I'm an Organizing Junkie! Or, if you like what you see here, you can check out my past menu plans.

You can also find this week's menu plan linked to On the Menu Monday hosted by Yvonne at Stone Gable. If you haven't checked out Yvonne's blog before, I suggest you drop everything and head on over to check out her delicious recipes, inviting tablescapes and stunning photographs!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Inspired by Pinterest ~ Banana Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chips

I ate cookies for breakfast this morning and I don't feel the least bit guilty, thanks to a recipe I found on Pinterest last night!

The base of this fabulously easy recipe contains just two ingredients (bananas and oats) plus whatever add-ins you want to include to jazz them up a bit!  I added chocolate chips to the batch of cookies I whipped up this morning, but there are so many great ingredients that you can add to personalize them to your cravings!  I'm thinking raisins, coconut, nuts!

To find out more about not-so-precise measurements and cooking times, check out the original idea over at The Burlap Bag.

note:  I know I already shared an Inspired by Pinterest post earlier today, but I am just so darned excited about this one, I didn't want to wait until next week to share it with y'all!

I'm linking this post to the following blog carnivals and linky parties:

Inspired by Pinterest ~ Heart Shaped Carrots

My almost-four-year-old (I cannot believe she is almost 4 already!) is an extremely picky eater.  I mean, really picky!  There are only a handful (maybe two) of foods that I can get Grace to eat.  I serve those foods to her over and over and over again.  Every couple of days I try to sneak something new onto her plate but she never tries anything new.  It's frustrating.

She won't even try carrots.  I was a picky eater when I was a kid (this must be karma) but even I remember loving carrots when I was a kid.  But nope, Grace won't even consider giving them a try.  Sigh.

After seeing the idea on Pinterest, I thought maybe some heart-shaped carrots would help get her to taste just one crunchy carrot coin.  Nope!  Didn't work.  She's brutal.

But they sure were cute floating around in the Chicken Noodle Soup that I made last week!

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