Tag Archives: One Little Thing

One Little Thing… Crockpot pork chops and gravy

Standard

I really love those days during the week that I am able to browse Pinterest for some really great recipes. I get so excited, and dive in head first. This is what happened the other day when I planned pork chops for supper with one such recipe.

However, I didn’t have any cream of chicken, and cream of mushroom is the go to… And I wanted something different. The result was so good, and easy.

The pork chops I used were bone in, but if I had to do it again, I would probably use boneless because the bones fell out anyway, and I had to hunt them all down… And some still ended up on plates! I have also changed up how it’s put together because the gravy was a little gloppy in parts, so mixing with water before its cooked fixes the issue.

20130505-092611.jpg

Pork chops, cream of celery, ranch mix, Italian seasoning. Crock pot. 3 hours. Yummy. bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

4 pork chops
1 can cream of celery
1 packet of ranch mix
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 cup water

Spray crock pot with non-stick spray, or place crock pot liner. Place pork chops on bottom of pot. In mixing bowl, mix ranch packet, Italian seasoning, cream of celery and 1/2 cup water. Pour over pork chops. Cook on high 3-4 hours.

Once pork chops are done, remove from pot, leaving as much gravy as possible. Some of the meat staying with the gravy is a good thing! Remove any bones at this point. Stir in 1/2 – 1 cup of water, whisk together to thin out gravy.

Everyone raved about this recipe, and I served it with mashed potatoes and corn. The gravy was awesome, especially with little bits of pork chop mixed in.

20130505-095501.jpg

These awesomely moist and tender pork chops tried to fall apart on me, but managed to mostly stay together long enough for me to get a pic! bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

Advertisements

One Little Thing… Sweet Crescents

Standard

Yesterday I was in a breakfast mood that didn’t include a Slim Fast Shake or cereal. Again. I was really craving cinnamon buns but had none in the house. So I peeked in the fridge to see what I DID have, and came up with a brilliant idea.

(I haven’t checked Pinterest yet to see if it exists already, be right back! Nope!! Moving on.) I did this two ways in my experimenting. I took 1 package of crescent rolls and half were separated into the regular triangles, the other half was halved again to form 2 squares. The square ones had to go back in the oven a couple times, so I really prefer the regular crescent ones.

20130427-101130.jpg

These Sweet Crescents take 3 little things and turn them in to a whole whack of delicious!

Sweet Crescents

1 package crescent rolls

cinnamon (maybe 1 tsp total)

8 Tbsp leftover maple cream cheese frosting (recipe to follow)

Preheat oven to 375 (or as directed on crescent roll package).

Separate crescents and sprinkle with cinnamon.

20130427-101406.jpg

Unroll, sprinkle, squeeze, roll.
Easy peasy!

Squeeze about 1 Tbsp of frosting along big end of crescent.

20130427-101519.jpg

Rolled up and ready for a suntan.

Roll as normal.

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes.

Let cool (VERY IMPORTANT – those things are HOT!!!).

Enjoy.

20130427-101144.jpg

This, my friends, is 4 bits of goodness.
bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

Also, I saved one for later and it was a little deflated but really very good. Like something from a pastry shop. SO good.

20130427-101646.jpg

This was one of the square pastries that didn’t make the cut. Sadly, it had to get eaten as punishment. bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com.

Maple Cream cheese Frosting

This is what I use on buttermilk cupcakes and top with bacon. I’m sure any other frosting would work too. Bet chocolate would be awesome! Oooh, or Nutella! Anyway…

1/2 C butter, softened

8 oz cream cheese, softened (I use 1/3 less fat and it is fine)

1-2 tsp maple flavor (near the vanillas)

4 C powdered sugar

milk as needed

Cream together butter and cream cheese. Add maple and sugar (in increments, otherwise you’ll wear it). Add 1 Tbsp of milk if needed for consistency.

I load mine into a gallon size zipper bag (held up by a big tumbler cup because it’s easy to spoon in that way), snip the tip and frost my cupcakes. I put the whole gallon bag into a smaller zip top bag to save any leftovers. This keeps quite a while in the fridge.

One Little Thing… Weekly Menu Plan

Standard

One of the things that I must each week is plan my menu for the next week. I have gone through a few different ways, all of which really work for me, to make and post the menu.

I have a weekly tear off on my Mommy calendar hanging on the fridge that combines both traditional calendar with by-person planner, with an extra line for my menu for the week. It is really how I started with the menu planning, because it let me see what is going on each day as I decide what to make. For instance, on my 10 hour hospital clinical day, I can choose leftovers or Jake cooking something, because I am wiped afterwards. If it is a day that one of the boys is spending the night elsewhere I can plan something that they don’t like, but the rest of us do so everyone is happy. The downside is that it’s big and a little unwieldy, so I have slacked on using it. I still jot down stuff in the top bit of real calendar because it’s easy to get to and easy to remember since it’s on the fridge. It it comes to a time where each person has a lot of things to remember for themselves, I will go back to it.

20130424-132156.jpg

A calendar like this with a line for each person (and an extra for Menu in my home) is a great way to see what’s gong on if everyone has different schedules, or schedules that change.

Another way I choose what we are eating, and always post the menu, is my dry erase board. I love this for a few reasons. First, you can see it from the table and anywhere else in the kitchen so I (mostly) don’t get asked THAT question anymore. I also love that it has my freezer inventory list attached to it so I can see what I have when making the menu, which helps save time and money. Better to use whatcha got instead of buying stuff you don’t got. I try to buy big when sales are good, so shopping my freezer helps me get the best price for my meals.

20130424-132222.jpg

This is a way that everyone can see what we are having and I can see what we need!

And finally, the new way I have been planning, has been with sticky notes on my Day-Timer ruler thing, I started using the little tabs a couple weeks ago, and kept them as the week passed. Then, while I was waiting for a store to open, I filled out a bunch more with meals that my family likes. Now what I have been doing is emptying the old week, putting those tabs on the Day-Timer folder they live on, and picking new meals for the next week. Once I got home, I put the meals on the dry erase so everyone can see it, and also making sure I have all the meat that I need for the week, and if there is any other items that I need for the meals. In this case it was potatoes and French bread for the sloppy Joe boats.

I use the ruler in my Day-Timer so I can see what we are having when I'm not at home.

I use the ruler in my Day-Timer so I can see what we are having when I’m not at home.

The beauty of this is many-fold. I don’t waste tabs because I reuse the ones I have, it is easy to weed out stuff my family doesn’t like or add new things to try, and its portable.

20130425-062657.jpg

Using and reusing tabs makes quick work of figuring out a menu plan for the week.

Do you plan a menu? How do you do it?

One Little Thing… Outta the freezer

Standard

20130412-102905.jpg

Last night I grabbed a bag of cilantro lime chicken out of the freezer. I intended to make it on Wednesday, but the kids ate with their grandparents and I wasn’t going to make a big meal for just the two of us. At 10 I put it in the crock pot, should be ready at 6. That’s the beauty of these crock pot freezer meals.

Pull it out to defrost. Empty bag into crock pot. Turn it on. Wait. Serve.

Easy peasy!

20130412-102652.jpg

We’re currently in the wait portion of the meal. Fingers crossed that the hubby and kids like it! Now to get some cleaning done.

One Little Thing… Get To Know Your Kids

Standard
This is my 6 year old's answers. He's pretty funny, and enchanting.

This is my 6 year old’s answers. He’s pretty funny, and enchanting.

I decided a couple months ago to get to know my kids with a 20 Questions inspired by a post on Reaves, Party of Four. I really loved that idea, and I wanted to recreate it on my own. I was just starting to play with some new found fonts, but I had a blast asking these questions and hearing their creative and, uh interesting answers!

Jake is 11, dramatic, funny, full of himself, and sweet.

Jake is 11, dramatic, funny, full of himself, and sweet.

I sat with them at the dinner table when they were finishing diner and I had already finished (slow, those two!) and started asking these questions. I asked Jake if he wanted to write his own answers and he said no. I don’t think Sean could swing that much writing yet, maybe next year! I would like to do this every year, perhaps on their birthdays. It will go well with their birthday morning photo! Tradition… I like it.

So do a little something to make your Mommy heart swell – get to know the little people living with you!

One Little Thing… Cook Day!

Standard

Planning a cook day

One of the things that I do when I’m on Pinterest is write down recipes that I find interesting. I write them on long strips of paper that are scraps, and if they are liked and I plan to make them again, I put them in my recipe binder on normal notebook paper. My scrap recipes don’t have to be pretty, or neat, they only have to tell me how to make what I want to make. Last week I gathered 6 of these recipes and decided to do a cook day.

These sites are the ones I chose from (with the recipes from each):

Over The Big Moon – Garlic Lime Chicken

Six Sisters Stuff – Maple Dijon (although I followed the ratios of Man Pleasing Chicken), Cilantro Lime Chicken, Beef Stew

McCormick Rosemary Chicken & Potatoes (I can not find where I found it on Pinterest, I tried!! I’ll give the recipe here. If it’s yours, please let me know so I can link properly!!)

Rosemary Chicken & Potatoes

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced

1 lb potatoes, diced

1 package McCormick Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Potatoes (a spice card in the spice aisle!)

2 Tablespoons EVOO

*Mix all ingredients together until well coated. Freeze in gallon zipper bag. To cook: thaw bag, put ingredients in baking dish. Cook at 425 for 20-30 mins.

So in my planning, I wrote each recipe on a page in my little notebook – so I could keep track of any changes or notes for that recipe. On one page, I wrote how much of every ingredient that I needed. Then I poked around the kitchen, marked what I had, and made a list of what I needed.

Make a list and check it... eleven times.

Make a list and check it… eleven times.

As an Aside, Walmart does PRICE MATCHING! I spent some extra time noting what (I needed) was on sale and where, marked the flyer and page # on my list, and did most of the shopping there. I also went to ALDI because there is so much that I get there WAY cheaper than any sale price that Walmart will have.

Starting My Cook Day
After I dropped the boys off at school, I went to the stores and got my day started. It took extra time at the register to deal with the price matching, but I figure that I saved about $15, so I think it was worth it. I spent about $55 total for the cook day items that I needed.
When I got home, I put the meat packages in a cooler, washed my veggies, and took another look at my recipes. I went to label the bags with a sharpie and noticed that I only had 4 bags. No bueno!!

It is vital when starting your cook day that you make sure you have enough freezer zipper bags to store your food!

So another trip out to the Dollar General and I had a brand new box of 40 zipper bags, and an extra $4 to my bottom line. Whoopsy. However, it did give me a chance to get some tacos on the way home. Add another $4.28 to my bottom line. Willpower – not my middle name.

No Cooking on Cook Day
Mostly, cook day involves sorting, measuring, chopping, cleaning, smushing. There is no actual cooking. Well, not on this cook day. I wrote the name and directions on each bag with a Sharpie. For instance: “BBQ Ribs. Thaw. Low 6 hrs, Hi 3-4.” That way I know what it is and what to do with it. I’ve seen the fancy food labels that claim to stick to frozen zipper bags, but I’ve never had any success in this. I have also seen some brilliant people write the name of the meal on the side so you can see what it is when the door is opened. That is awesome!

Use Whatcha Got!

Use Whatcha Got!

Anywho, I started with the beef stew because it had the most chopped ingredients, and the more that is off my counter, the more room I have to work! So I put a bag on my cookie jar – sturdy, solid, wide mouthed, and it fit. Perfect! The stew beef that I was using for this was already frozen from a previous shopping day when I bought a hunk of beef and cubed it up into 2 meals worth of stew. I added the beef last, but if I did it again, I’d do that first. I chopped all of my veggies first, including the potatoes for the other recipe. Only wanted to chop once!

After that, I took one recipe at a time – one ingredient at a time. Put in the bag, put in the protein, put in each ingredient. Mush together. Lay flat, remove as much air as possible. Seal. Stack.

Pile of Done, the First

Pile of Done, the First

Freeze, Organize, List

If this is going to do anything for your grocery bill, you need to be able to use what you have. Keeping a detailed list of what is in your freezer is vital so you don’t over shop, and really helpful in creating a weekly menu plan. Menu plans stop the anxiety in the mornings about what to thaw for dinner, and severely limit our need to going out.

So make a list of the meals that you have on hand. I do it in the same manner that I do my freezer inventory, hash marks for available, x through when used. I will pin this sheet on my menu board with the freezer inventory.

Being organized is the only way to go!

Being organized is the only way to go!

In the end, I took about 4 – 5 hours including shopping to make 12 meals.

1: beef stew

2 each: Cilantro lime chicken, garlic lime chicken, rosemary chicken & potatoes, BBQ Ribs

3: Maple Dijon chicken

I still had some Italian marinaded chicken and 2 bags of Chicken Alfredo Pasta in there from last month. Now I have to make it a priority to use at least one or two of these a week!

It was a long day, and I actually finished by 5. I’m not sure how I’d do very much differently, except the forgotten bags, and doing better on my sales. I feel like it went pretty smoothly. A thing to note though, and it makes total sense! Some of the books that I got from the library says to do the cook days based on “Tray Sizes”, or “Reverse Planning”, meaning that you cook what is on sale, or for a Warehouse tray (big). It is a no-brainer! If you find boneless skinless chicken breast for $1.69, get 10 pounds and make 6 or 7 meals out of it. The goal is to make this as much about saving money as it is about convenience!

Let me know what your favorite freezer, crock pot, thrifty meals are!

One Little Thing… Mixes

Standard

I thought my system was working. It wasn't. bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

I had a slight problem with my gravy/taco/sauce/marinade mixes. I had them nice and contained, or so I had thought, in a basket and reused bourbon box. When I did this update (a year ago, maybe?), it really did work. I had 3 little rows in the box, and the bigger stuff was in the basket. I’m not sure when it all went to heck, but there you have it.

you need to see what you have, purge what you should, and go from there. bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

you need to see what you have, purge what you should, and go from there. bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

I pulled everything out with the intention of tidying it up and putting everything back in the same box. I like the look of the box, and really wanted to use it. The problem is that the narrow part was too narrow to hold the mixes properly, even the small mixes. So I looked around to see if I could find something that would work to make it more contained and I saw the Coke box sitting next to the recycle bin. It was wider than the bourbon box, but not pretty, At All! However, right now I am aiming for done over pretty.

Organize in a way that makes sense. You could also put little dividers if you were so inclined.bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

Organize in a way that makes sense. You could also put little dividers if you were so inclined.
bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

I was able to get rid of a few things (Pampered Chef from 8 years ago… I’m lookin at you!), and I kept everything organized by type. I arranged it by frequency of use, and put the bigger mixes sideways in the back so they fit better. I thought about making little dividers so that I could really see what I have, and I may still do that. Probably once I figure out what to cover the thing with.

Put your new system into place. I will probably cover that with some scrapbook or contact paper, later. bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

Put your new system into place. I will probably cover that with some scrapbook or contact paper, later. bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

Then, I put it back. Easier to use, not prettier to look at, takes up less space.

I was able to find something to do with the bourbon box though… it fits 3 boxes of Pop Tarts perfectly! Also, note to the Pop Tart people… if you labeled the flavor on the foil wrapper, I wouldn’t need to keep the box! That’s just dumb.

One Little Thing: Recycle, garden style

Standard

I have a long list of things that I want to do around my home. The cleaning is coming along, and so is some of the organizing. With more of a “normal” becoming established, I really wanted to think about what else I wanted to accomplish.

One of the things still needing to be done is my back patio. It’s a crazy mess, a lot of trash with the added aesthetic of my oldest son’s bunk bed set that was removed to make room for his new bed.

20130327-154431.jpg

On my list of things to do… Find my patio!!

I see that bed standing on end from my spot on the couch, and it pretty much makes me crazy. Many thoughts have been tossed around about what to do with the bed pieces, from reprinting and selling it to burning it in the fire pit.

After seeing a few Pinterest posts showing raised bed gardens and how easy they can be, I thought about turning this box into a veggie garden. My husband saw the “holes” in the box, and grumbling about how much work it would be, so I really told him to never mind I’d it would be too much trouble.

In his defense, the grumbling may be justified, as I have had a black thumb of death since he’s known me! Of course, I hope this time will be different…

He went to the tool store and got some wood, and I believe he plans to make my garden anyway. He hasn’t said anything, but I’m hopeful!

So hopeful, in fact, I bought some seeds today. (Shh!)
Tomato, peas, tarragon, carrots, pumpkin, and green onions. I’d also like to add rosemary (in its own container), parsley, and basil, also some celery, but I’ll do that from a celery stalk in my fridge (thanks Pinterest for showing me this was possible!).

Once I have something more gardeny to show, I will share. Wish me luck!!

One Little Thing… Freezer Inventory

Standard
Keeping track of what you have makes it easy to see what you can make!

Keeping track of what you have makes it easy to see what you can make!

I organized my freezer and decided that I needed a better way of keeping track of what I had and didn’t. I used to use that white board and write down what I had by category(ish) and use the Xs like I do here. Line one way for each item you have. Line the other way as you use them – making an X. It’s so much easier than changing a digit each time you grab something out of the freezer.

I took the one from this one from NW Edible (scroll down a little) and changed it up. The awesomeist thing about this printable is that it can open in Word, Pages, or as a PDF. I changed it up to make it something more usable to me by adding another column, changing the fonts a bit, and giving it smaller margins. It’s perfect for my needs.

If it were mine, I’d share my changes… but it’s not. Sorry.

I put mine in a sheet protector so I don’t have to reprint or erase. I also used a wet-erase market instead of dry erase so it is less likely that my marks will go away just by writing on the thing. It would suck to put all that work into counting to have it rub off! I also have this on my Menu board. I make a menu each week so that I can see what I need, and most importantly so I don’t have to answer THAT question 15 times a day! Posting a menu also helps me remember to get out the meat in the morning. MUCH easier than deciding what to make that night, seeing if I have all those ingredients, and then remembering to get the meat out!

Of course Pinterest has eleventy seven other freezer inventories, depending on what you like and how your family eats. Print one, protect it, fill it, out, use it.

It’ll help – trust me!!

Plan for tomorrow

Standard

Today I bought 2 soda can dispensers at Walmart to help get my fridge under control. It’s still not wonderful, but it is better and nothing is falling out when you open the door!

Tomorrow I will go through everything to see if anything is expired and can be chucked. I did chuck a few things, but probably not enough. I would also like to do something about the disaster that are my freezers, but that will have to wait until the Christmas turkey gets eaten for Easter and stops living in my big freezer.

Tomorrow, I also plan to start working on a pantry re-do. The biggest challenge In my pantry is that it’s in 3 rooms and very disjointed. I have already made a list of the categories that I want to separate everything into.

I don’t really want to do cans with cans, boxes with boxes – but more along the lines of breakfast, baking, international, side dishes, etc.

I have been trying to figure out how store the extras – condiments and such.

I also need to consolidate the service/cookware. I was thinking about using a couple of the rarely used serving/mixing bowls as storage containers for things like snacks for lunches.

It’s a thought.