Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wordless (or Wordful) Wednesday ~ Bitstrips

I've been obsessed with my iPhone ever since taking advantage to the free upgrade on our plan a few months ago.

If I'm not cooking, cleaning or caring for Grace, you are sure to find me playing with my phone.  Whether it's checking Facebook, reading emails, or playing a variety of games.  Although, I've given in to the Candy Crush Saga temptation, Words with Friends remains my favorite game to play on my phone!

My latest phone activity is Bitstrips.  I had fun creating a cartoon image of myself and only wish I was really as skinny as my cartoon self!

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to share this cartoon here since it pretty much captures the food blogger side of myself!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Jiffy Corn Fritters

Since we're a single income family, we rarely go out to eat.  We do make it a point to hit the local breakfast buffet once or twice a year, but once we're home, I always feel regret about spending so much money for breakfast foods.

One of my favorite items from the breakfast buffet is Corn Fritters.  It's probably the only thing from the entire buffet that we don't already make at home.  Knowing it will be a while before I'm tempted to spend the money to visit the all-you-can-eat buffet again, I decided to give them a try.

I had a box of Jiffy Corn Bread mix, so it made sense to check out their website to see if they had a recipe for Corn Fritters.  I figured that was the easiest option since I was a little out of my comfort zone with this one.  As you know, I dislike measuring out baking ingredients so having a boxed mix is always a plus for me!

While their recipe for Corn Fritters didn't taste exactly like the ones from the restaurant, I was still very pleased with them and pleasantly surprised at just how easy they were to make.  Instead of using a deep fryer, I just filled my dutch oven with some oil, about an inch deep, and fried the fritters in small batches until both sides were nice and golden brown.

I served the corn fritters with hot bowls of Potato Bacon Corn Chowder in place of biscuits or sandwiches.  And although I didn't try this, I thought they would be really good placed in the bowl with the soup ladled over the fritter!  Joe also suggested that I sprinkle them with sugar while still hot and serve as dessert...I will have to try that the next time!

The boxed mix (along with the added ingredients the recipe calls for) yields about 12 fritters depending on how big or small you make them.  That didn't sound like a whole lot, but after seeing them piled on the plate, I knew we wouldn't be able to eat them all in one night.  I was concerned that they wouldn't be good the next day.  But, just a minute in the microwave covered with a paper plate, they were great!  Not as crispy, but still very delicious!

If you prefer to stay away from the boxed mixes, you could sub the boxed mix for these copycat Jiffy mixes:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday ~ Beautiful Fall Day

We found ourselves with some free time over the weekend and decided to take Grace to the park for a couple of hours.  Grace enjoyed playing at the playground with Joe while I took a nice walk around the walking path for some exercise.

After a little more playtime, we all walked over to see the geese in the pond.

What a wonderful way to spend a beautiful fall day!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Potato Bacon Corn Chowder

The end of the year and all the added expenses it brings is almost upon us.  That means it's time for us to really buckle down and save some cash for anything unexpected that may pop up.  I find that making and serving homemade soups for lunches and dinners really helps us to keep our grocery bill low, allowing us to save some money while enjoying the best comfort food possible!

Potato Bacon Corn Chowder 
    Yield: 4 servings
    adapted from Mashed Potato Cauliflower Soup


  • 3 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 4 Tbs. Butter 
  • 4 Tbs. Flour 
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 12 oz. evaporated milk 
  • 1 cup frozen, whole kernel corn 
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper 
  • 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes 
  • 1 cup shredded taco cheese
  • In a large soup pot or dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp.  
  • Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.  
  • Drain grease if necessary, leaving about a tsp. in the bottom of the pot.  
  • Cook onion and celery in the reserved bacon grease until onions are translucent.  
  • Add butter to the pot and once melted, stir in the flour.  Stir constantly until thickened. 
  • Stir in the broth, water and evaporated milk.  Simmer until thick and bubbly. 
  • Season with pepper, to taste.  
  • Pour in the corn, allow to cook for another minute or two.  
  • Stir the potatoes into the soup, breaking up with the spoon as you stir.  
  • When the potatoes are heated through, whisk in the shredded cheese.  
  • Soup is ready when the cheese has melted.  
  • Serve immediately.  Soup thickens as it cools.  
  • You could use leftover bacon in this soup, using reserved bacon grease to cook your vegetables.  If you don't save your bacon grease in a jar, just use a small amount of vegetable or olive oil to cook the celery and onion.  
  • This is a very thick, hearty soup.  If you prefer it a bit thinner, add more broth.  
  • Any cheese could be used with this soup, we really liked the taco flavor in this soup.  It wasn't over powering but delicious when combined with the smokey flavor of the bacon!  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Menu Plan Monday 2013 ~ Week of October 21st


Polish Cabbage Noodles
I wanted to make this last week.
Just as I was getting ready to start dinner,
I discovered we were all out of egg noodles!


Leftover Night. 
On Sunday, I made a super-yummy
Potato Soup for dinner along with some corn fritters.
We'll be enjoying the leftovers tonight!  


Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken
I noticed that I have 2 bottles of Buffalo Sauce
taking up space on the door of the fridge.
I'll finish one of them up and pour it over
some chicken in the crock pot
for a very easy meal!  


Lemon Fettuccine with Carrots 
Quick, light and easy.
Can't go wrong with this dish!  


Buffalo Chicken Salad 
I'll set out fixin's for a salad that Joe
and I can customize to suit our own tastes.
I'll probably enjoy my salad plain, without dressing
while Joe will probably dress his with some
Blue Cheese or Ranch dressing.  




Whole Chicken in the Crock Pot 
Mashed Cauliflower Potatoes 
Green Bean Casserole 

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.

Wisk® Deep Clean® Original HEC

Monday mornings are so busy around here with errands and housework.  After a couple days "off" on the weekends, the housework really seems to pile up.  One thing that I've really been trying to keep up with the most is the laundry.  Especially our bed linens. 

Until recently, I didn't realize just how dirty our wash gets.  In the past, I just worried about the obvious dirt/stains in our laundry.  But after reading that the average wash load contains 20x more body oils and sweat than the visible stains.  That got me thinking about our linens.  I hate to admit this, but they don't get washed/changed as often as I'd like.  So our linens must get pretty dirty.  Add in the fact that Remmy, the family dog, sleeps in Grace's bed during the day and our bed at night...after lying around in the yard for a couple of hours a day.  Yuck! 

As you can see in the photo above,
Grace plays pretty rough in her room. 
Aside from the toys and, of course, the dog,
we also have a problem with her sneaking snacks
and juice boxes into her room! 

I received 10 one-load packets of Wisk® Deep Clean® Original HEC from a Smiley360 (you can sign up to receive future missions, too using my referral link) mission and knew right away that I was going to put them to the test with our sheets, blankets and pillow cases!  And although Joe's employer sends their work uniforms out to be cleaned, his undershirts that he wears with his work shirt must get pretty gross!  So, I used some of the packets on those too! 

As I said before, I never really considered the hidden dirt and oils that gets trapped in our laundry and knowing that there is a product out there that can tackle the stuff we can't see, makes me feel confident that I am putting nice clean clothing and linens back into our closets and dressers. 

Disclaimer:  I'm a member of, where I qualify to try brands for free in exchange for sharing my authentic feedback. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Easy Beef Barley Soup

You all know that I can enjoy soup any time of the year, but I am so excited that soup season has official begun!  

I've been wanting beef barley soup for a couple of weeks now and was pleasantly surprised to find that roasts were on sale at our local market a couple of weeks ago.  We didn't check the add before going into the store, since we hardly ever pick up meat at this market as it's usually a lot more expensive than the supermarket where we usually do our grocery shopping.  

We couldn't help but notice the bright orange sale stickers in the meat department as we walked by on our way to show Grace the lobster tank. 

Right away, I knew how I was going to use that roast!  

First, I made Spicy Chipotle Pot Roast.  This is the only roast recipe that I have ever successfully made, so it's a go-to meal when we find sales that are too good to pass up!  We had sliced beef with mashed potatoes and veggies for 2 nights before I diced the remainder of the meat for other recipes.  

After that, I made Beef Pot Pies.  Normally, when I make a pot pie, I make it in a casserole dish.  This time, I made 6 individual mini pot pies that we enjoyed 2 nights in a row!  

With the remaining 2 cups of the prepared roast beef, I made Beef Barley Soup.  In the past, I've followed this recipe for Crock Pot Beef Barley Soup-starting with raw London Broil.  But since I was starting out with leftover pot roast, I decided a quicker, stove-top soup would be the way to go.  

I was right!  The result was a very meaty, delicious soup that I served for 2 nights' dinner.  I also had enough for lunch for 3 days!  

While I'm super-excited to have another great soup recipe to share with you, I can't help but be very pleased with how far we stretched that single cut of meat!  Can't beat all of these meals from one less-than-six-dollars roast!  

Of course, my only complaint is that we only picked up one of those roasts while they were on sale.  With each meal, we've been kicking ourselves for not stocking our freezer for the winter!  


Easy Beef Barley Soup

     6-8 servings


  • 1/2 cup celery, diced 
  • 2 potatoes, diced 
  • 6 1/2 cups water (see notes below) 
  • 2/3 cup pearl barley
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce 
  • 1/2 - 1 1/2 tsp. Chipotle Tabasco 
  • 14 oz. can diced tomatoes 
  • 2 cups leftover Spicy Roast Beef, diced 
  • 2 cups frozen mixed veggies (peas, corn, carrots, green beans, lima beans) 
  • Add all ingredients except for the frozen vegetables to a large soup pot. 
  • Bring to a boil. 
  • Cover, reduce heat.  
  • Allow to simmer for 40-50 minutes, until barley is tender but still chewy. 
  • Add frozen vegetables and allow to cook for another 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are done.  


  • Since I used leftover Spicy Chipotle Pot Roast for this soup, I replaced some of the liquid in this recipe with the juices/broth from the pot roast (about 2 cups).  The salsa and chipotle add nice flavor to the soup broth. 
  • I usually use longer cooking barley when I make soup.  This time, all I had was pearl barley. According to this article, pearl barley is a quicker cooking barley and is not a whole grain.  If using medium barley, use 1/2 c. barley and increase the liquid to 7-7 1/2 cups.  You'll also want to increase the cooking time to 50-70 minutes.  
  • This was a very hearty, meaty soup which we loved!  Next time, though, I think I will double the rest of the ingredients, for a bigger pot of soup (stretching the next roast even further)!  

Wordless Wednesday ~ Mommy's Girl

I've been going through a rough patch with Grace lately.  Having a 4 year old that "knows everything" has left me feeling burned out and frustrated and I've been going back and forth between feeling either like a bad mom or just the bad guy in general.  

Since I spend the most time with her (I can count on one hand the number of times I've been away from Grace), obviously I am the one to discipline and correct her the most throughout the day.  And when Joe comes home from work, he gets to be the good guy.  

I often wonder what goes on in her little head...if she really knows just how much I love and adore her...even when I'm feeling a bit tired and grumpy over having to tell her over and over again day after day to keep toys out of her mouth or to not leave her juice box on the couch or to eat her spaghetti with a fork and not her hands!  

And while this picture isn't the best, I think it really does capture just how much I love my baby girl.  That even though she may be A Daddy's Girl, she will always be Mommy's Girl.  <3

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Menu Plan Monday 2013 ~ Week of October 14th

I don't know about you, but I can never seem to get anything done on Mondays.  This includes getting my menu plan posted for the week.  It's not that I'm unprepared.  Honest!  Usually, by Thursday or Friday I'm already contemplating the following week's menu.  It's just finding the time to post it before Monday rolls around that seems the most challenging. 

Some Mondays it's just Grace and I at home.  Some Mondays Joe is home too.  Either way, I never seem to have the time or energy to get my menu posted.  Yesterday was no different.  Errands in the morning and a massive headache in the afternoon (not to mention the hubby that was hogging the computer) kept me from blogging.  Oh, and that headache knocked me out for a few hours!  With Grace playing nicely in her bedroom and Joe keeping an eye on her while catching up on some computer time, I decided to sit down to watch some daytime TV (something I rarely get to do) before starting dinner.  With the afternoon sun pouring through our big living room window, I dozed off for THREE HOURS!  

When I woke up, I was in a fog.  I felt as if I had taken a night time pain reliever and couldn't shake the sleepiness!  Thanks to a late lunch, no one was interested in dinner!  

Here's what's on the menu for the rest of the week!  


Spaghetti with Crock Pot Meat Sauce 
Toasted Ravioli 
Rhodes White Bread
Tonight's dinner is an easy one.
I picked up a box of frozen toasted ravioli
since I've really been wanting my favorite
Olive Garden appetizer.
I'll serve half the box tonight
and save the other half for later in the week!


Taco Pizza 
Last week, I made a taco pizza for the first time.
We enjoyed it so much that we're having it again this week!


Polish Cabbage Noodles 
I picked up a huge head of cabbage
at the local market on Monday
making me think of this dish right away!
I'll probably make cabbage stir fry
for lunches this week, too!


Spaghetti Bread
Toasted Ravioli 
I've really been in the mood for take-out
but it just hasn't fit into our budget in a few months.
This meal should help kill the cravings for a little while!


Potato Soup
Leftover mashed potatoes (from the freezer)
 will be perfect for this comforting soup!
Especially after a busy day of fun with Grace!
I'm thinking maybe a Halloween parade
and a walk in the park if the weather is nice!


Leftover Potato Soup 
Corn Fritters
A local restaurant serves corn fritters at their breakfast buffet.
The buffet is a bit pricey, so we don't go very often.
This week, I'll be looking for a recipe for corn fritters
and see how they match up to the ones I pile on my plate at the restaurant.  

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.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Menu Plan Monday 2013 ~ Week of September 30th

Lately, I've been really slacking in the kitchen.  I've been cooking....I mean, we DO have to eat, right?  And since we aren't wealthy, we don't have a personal chef.  We also can't go out to eat every night.  So, that means I cook.  But I haven't been enjoying my time in the kitchen...probably because I haven't been trying anything new.  I'm hoping that my mood about cooking will change now that the weather is getting cooler.  

To help get me into the mood for cooking, I decided to start menu planning again.  While this week doesn't include anything new, it does include a few of our favorite fall meals...


Hamburger Macaroni


BLT Wraps 


Spicy Chipotle Pot Roast in the Crock Pot  
Baked Potatoes 

I follow this recipe for the beef.  In Katie's recipe, the beef shreds.
Each and every time I have made it, it hasn't shred.
I'm not sure why, but for us, it works.
We like the thin slices of roast beef with roasted veggies
or mashed potatoes.
The thin slices also work nicely as a sandwich on a crusty roll.


Corn Dog Casserole
Mrs. T's Pierogies

Normally, I serve Sliced Potatoes with this casserole.
But this week, I'm really in the mood for pierogies.
If I didn't come up with a meal to serve them with,
I would probably devour the entire box
for lunch one myself!


Leftover Night 


Chicken  Corn Chowder 

Chicken Corn Chowder is my absolute favorite soup.
In all of the times I prepared it, I've never gotten a decent
photo...probably because I am too eager to eat it!
I'll try to get a picture this time around!  


Beef Pot Pie 
What a perfect way to use the leftover Spicy Chipotle Pot Roast!  

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 great menu inspiration 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!

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