Monthly Archives: May 2014

Menu Plan and Goals

3 day weekends are the best! This ones couldn’t have come at a better time. We were able to make good progress on Herb Fest crafts. Hopefully everything will be done by Friday and then next week I can work on table display ideas. Less than 2 weeks to go!

Here you can see a little of what has been happening:

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

I’m not what I’d consider a creative crafty person, so I was a little surprised to find myself actually enjoy sitting down and putting together earrings and planning for this. It’s been a fun experience so far and I’m sure the actual craft show will be an adventure too.

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

Our little guy that turned one last week has cut two of his molars and is working on the others and is walking more and more everyday. He already quickly makes a mess of things and I have a feeling that will only be getting worse.

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

My yummy pizza from the grill! Feta cheese makes anything better.

Suppers:

  • Graduation Party
  • Chicken Burgers, Sweet Potato and Russet Potato Oven Fries, Fruit
  • Popcorn and fruit snacky supper
  • Leftover Slow Cooker Chicken Curry
  • Leftover Tostadas
  • Cheese Pizza on the Grill

Lunches:

Breakfasts:

  • Smoothies from the freezer
  • Pancakes from the freezer
  • Oatmeal

Goals:

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

Staycation Ideas Across the Country

We aren’t going on any big vacations this summer – a short trip to our daughter’s favorite vacation destination at the beginning of the summer and another hopefully in September. Between those two trips though, I hope to still have lots of summer fun even closer to home.

Yesterday, I shared a fun list of things to do in North Central Oklahoma and today I have list of staycation ideas across the country. There are great posts to make the most of your staycation in 60 other cities! Even if you don’t live near any of them, you might want to save the list for future reference when you are planning your vacations.

What are your favorite things to do in your city?

Staycation ideas across the country!

This list is alphabetical by state:

A – D

Phoenix-Metro, Arizona ~ Mom Endeavors
Scottsdale, Arizona ~ Saving For Someday
Tucson, Arizona ~ Desert Chica Ramblings
Bentonville, Arkansas ~ This Sweet Life
Fullerton, California ~ More with Less Today
San Diego, California ~ Southern Cali Saver.com
Denver, Colorado ~ Bargain Blessings
Washington, District of Columbia ~ Kidventurous

F – I

Jacksonville, Florida ~ Saving The Family Money
Orlando, Florida ~ The Educators’ Spin On It
Tallahassee, Florida ~ SwagGrabber
Tampa, Florida ~ Not Consumed
Chicago (and suburbs), Illinois ~ A Savings WOW!
Chicago, Illinois ~ Entertaining Chicago
Fort Wayne, Indiana ~ Simplified Saving
Indianapolis, Indiana ~ Chaos Is Bliss
Des Moines, Iowa ~ Eat, Play, Love Des Moines

K – P

Northern Kentucky (Boone, Kenton, Campbell Co) ~ Simply Sherryl
Annapolis, Maryland ~ The Happy Housewife
Boston, Massachusetts ~ Maven of Savin
Grand Rapids, Michigan ~ Give Me Neither
Metro Detroit, Michigan ~ Saving Dollars and Sense
Oakland County, Michigan ~ Everyday Savvy
South Haven, Michigan ~ Bargain Briana
Twin Cities, Minnesota ~ Creative Couponing
Kansas City, Missouri/Kansas ~ Kosher on a Budget
Kansas City, Missouri/Kansas ~ Kansas City Mamas
Southern Missouri ~ Getting Freedom
Omaha, Nebraska ~ Family Fun in Omaha
Reno (& Northern), Nevada ~ Premeditated Leftovers
Buffalo/Niagara Falls, New York ~ Anns’ Entitled Life
Syracuse, New York ~ I am THAt Lady
Cincinnati, Ohio ~ Adventure mom
Columbus, Ohio ~ Cleverly Simple
Dayton, Ohio ~ Savings Lifestyle
Northeast Ohio ~ Raising Lifelong Learners
Northeast Ohio (Canton, Akron, Cleveland) ~ Sisters Shopping on a Shoestring
North Central Oklahoma ~ From this Kitchen Table
Portland, Oregon ~ Frugal Living NW
Erie, Pennsylvania ~ Growing Kids Ministry
Harrisburg/Central, Pennsylvania ~ Family Balance Sheet
Lancaster, Pennsylvania ~ Pandora’s Deals
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ~ The Coupon High
Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) ~ Bucktown Bargains

R – W

Providence, Rhode Island ~ Everyday Family Living
Beaufort, South Carolina ~ Kathys Cluttered Mind
Chattanooga, Tennessee ~ Living Chic on the Cheap
Nashville, Tennessee ~ The Hands-On Homeschooler
Arlington, Texas ~ Baby Boomer Rants
Bryan/College Station, Texas ~ How to Homeschool My Child
Dallas, Texas ~ Surviving The Stores
Fort Worth, Texas ~ Coupons and Freebies Mom
Houston, Texas ~ Melissa’s Bargains
Katy, Texas ~ Moms Confession
Rio Grande Valley (McAllen), Texas ~ iLoveMy5Kids
Salt Lake City, Utah ~ Teach Beside Me
Charlottesville, Virginia ~ How to Have it All
Richmond, Virginia ~ Vacation Maybe
Williamsburg, Virginia ~ The Talking Suitcase
Seattle, Washington ~ Thrifty NW Mom
Oshkosh, Wisconsin ~ A Little Bit of This and That

Linking up to these fun parties!

Staycation Ideas in North Central Oklahoma

Staycation ideas in North Central Oklahoma

Sometimes when you live in a small town staycationing means taking day trips to locations within a couple of hours of you. The town we live in doesn’t have any big attractions or sites that draw tourists but we’ve found several fun (and affordable) activities that we can take day trips to in the North Central Oklahoma and Southern Kansas area.

Oklahoma City Zoo

When you have little kids, the zoo is a must on the summer staycation list. We made a couple of trips to Oklahoma City Zoo last year and used their list of free/discount days to get in free and almost free. Every Wednesday in July and August you can get in for $1 each. Or if you give blood with OBI during certain months this summer you’ll receive two free adult admission tickets. Even if you don’t live in Oklahoma, be sure to check out your nearest zoo’s website to see what sort-of discount days they offer.

Staycation ideas in North Central Oklahoma

Another perk of the Oklahoma City Zoo is the little river in the children’s zoo area made for kids to wade in. Come prepared for your kids to get wet and to not want to leave. You might even want to pack swimsuits or a change of clothes.

Salt Plains – Jet, Oklahoma

If you live in Northern Oklahoma or within a couple hours of Jet, this is something you need to do at least once! Plan your trip for a cooler day or arrive as early as possible because there is no shade. Beware that the salt plains are in the middle of nowhere so pack plenty of food and water for drinking. You’ll also want to bring gallons of water for rinsing off your hands and arms before you get back in the car to head home.

Staycation ideas in North Central Oklahoma

You will spend the day digging on a salt plain trying to find selenite crystals. Bring tools for digging. Both big shovels to start the holes and small shovels or objects to scrape the walls with. However, to find the most crystals be sure to dig around on the sides of the hole with your hands after you’ve attacked the ground with a shovel. Our first hole was a dud, but in the next one we found dozens of crystals.

Kiddie Park – Bartlesville, OK

Most evenings during the summer this little park is open and you can go on one of 18 rides and attractions for 1 ticket each (tickets are just 50 cents)! Granted, this isn’t going to be anything super fancy or have big rides but it could be a fun and affordable evening especially if you have younger kids. If you are looking for something else to do during the day before you head to the Kiddie Park, check out the next staycation idea.

Woolaroc – Bartlesville, OK

Adult tickets are $10 but children under 11 are free. Woolaroc is a wildlife refuge and as you head onto their property to the lodge and museum you might see one of the many wild animals that make that land their home. We went here several times growing up and enjoyed walking through the museum, but for us kids our favorite was a picnic outside on the grounds and the petting zoo.

Botanica, The Wichita Gardens – Wichita, KS

Staycation ideas in North Central Oklahoma

We went here for our first time last month and we all enjoyed it more than I thought we would. There are beautiful flowers for the adults and the 3 and 6 year old we had with us enjoyed it as well. They had a blast in the children’s garden playing on the structures, watering flower beds, banging on large instruments and didn’t mind wandering around the rest of the garden either. 2 and under are free, kids cost $5, and adults $7. If you live close enough that you think you might be able to visit to more than once, be sure to check out the family membership for 2 adults and all the kids under 18 in your house.

Exploration Place – Wichita, KS

This is a science and discover center we spent hours and hours at and the kids could have stayed even longer. There were sections our just turned 3 year old loved and other sections that were great for older kids. Our daughter loved playing in the castle, sitting in the airplanes, and splashing at the water table.

Staycation ideas in North Central Oklahoma

This is another location that if you think you might go to it more than once during the year you will want to buy the family membership. You can pack a lunch and eat at the picnic tables inside of the museum. Another great thing is that there is a park out behind the museum if your kids have even more energy to burn at the end of the day.

What are your favorite things to do for a staycation? Have you traveled in northern Oklahoma before?

Linking up to these fun parties!

 

 

Menu Plan and Goals

The countdown to the Herb Festival and my first craft booth ever continues. Less than 3 weeks to go! I got all the earrings finished, earring cards in, started the room sprays and mason jars. This week the plan is to finish the jars and room sprays and tackle the lip balms.  If I have time, I need to come up with display ideas for my table. It’s will be here before I know it and we will be gone 4 of those days. Aack.

These days have been relatively uneventful as far as the calendar is concerned. It’s a good thing though because we have enough projects around the house and getting ready for the craft sale to keep us busy enough. In fact, it’s kept us so busy we had leftovers for dinner 5 nights last week. Getting through the next 3 weeks and then hopefully we’ll find a new kind-of normal. For a few weeks anyway.

Our little guy is turning one tomorrow! I can’t believe that it’s been a year already since he was born. We keep celebrations pretty simple around here, especially when he’s little enough he won’t know the difference and things are so crazy! He’s getting super close to walking. He’ll take a few steps here and there but his record is only 4 steps. One of these days he’ll take off.

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

Suppers:

  • Cookout at a friend’s home from church
  • Sweet Potato Chicken Curry
  • Cheese Pizza on the Grill
  • Leftovers
  • Graduation Party

Lunches:

  • Asian Chicken Salad
  • Graduation Party
  • Salads
  • Sandwiches

Breakfasts:

  • Yogurt
  • Oatmeal Pancakes
  • Fruit

Goals:

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

Creamy Mac and Cheese

Creamy Mac and Cheese! Tasty and yummy and on the table in under 30 minutes!

Today I have another guest post up on The Best Blog Recipes! We were gone all day and I needed something fast to put on the table for supper and an added bonuses was that my daughter had leftovers to eat for lunch all week.

Imagine with me for a moment. You are gone all day running errands in a nearby city. Not only are you gone all day but you also run into car trouble and your trip is extended by several hours. You arrive home after 7 and no one has eaten since lunch. The kids are tired and hungry and you really don’t want to do anything. What options are there? Buying take out. Frozen food from the grocery store. Eating out. Looking in the pantry and finding something quick and easy. This was a scenario that recently played out in our home. I didn’t want to spend any more money than we already had that day and wanted to feed my family something quick and healthy.

I opened the pantry and saw noodles and knew I had milk in the refrigerator. Macaroni and cheese it would be. I seriously had this ready to eat in under 30 minutes. The secret is to make the most of your time in the kitchen. Noodles will take the longest so the first thing you are going to want to do is to start the water to boil. Once you’ve done that move on to quickly chopping some onions and garlic and getting them sautéing. By the time the noodles are cooked, your cheesy sauce will be ready and you can mix them together. Steam some broccoli while you are already at the stove or cut up some raw vegetables and you can have a rounded meal on the table in no time. Our supper was done in the same amount of time it would have taken to go to the store and cook frozen pizza or pick up take out from the restaurant down the road.

Head over to The Best Blog Recipes to see the recipe!

I’d love to know what your favorite meals are you can have on the table in under 30 minutes!

Linking up to these fun parties!

Chicken Spaghetti without Velveeta and cream soup

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I first ate this dish. My siblings were in town visiting and a friend had us over for supper. My brother loved the chicken spaghetti. The problem was, though, that it contained Velveeta and cream of chicken soup. Both items we don’t buy. Cream soups were something my mom never had in the house growing up. In fact, the only time I remember her using cream soup was for beef stroganoff. Even though my friend passed her recipe on it has since sat in my recipe box never being used.

Recently, I decided that there must be a way to remake this dish not using processed ingredients and to keep it as simple as the original.

The experiment was a success! This is my recipe for chicken spaghetti without velveeta and cream soup.

A couple of comments:

– Use whatever type of noodles you like – spelt, wheat, brown rice, or gluten free.

– If you don’t have access to Rotel (a can of diced tomatoes and green chilis), you can make your own! I’ve done it a couple of times. The Humbled Homemaker has instructions here. I like to use some jalapenos and to roast and peel the peppers before I chop them. (I also de-seed the jalapenos)

– If you or someone in your house doesn’t care for cream cheese, you can’t even tell it’s in the recipe. It just adds a little extra creaminess and depth of flavor. My husband doesn’t like cream cheese and he doesn’t even know it’s in this dish.

Chicken Spaghetti without Velveeta or cream of chicken soup! Yay! We love this and the leftovers are awesome.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Chicken Spaghetti (without Velveeta and Canned Soup)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10
 
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces noodles
  • 1-2 cups diced onion (I used two)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can Rotel or 1 cup homemade (regular or mild)
  • 2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 cup cream or half and half
  • 1 Tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cup diced cooked chicken
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar (can use more)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook noodles to al dente. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet or a soup pot, saute the onions. Add garlic and cook until tender.
  3. Add Rotel, chicken broth, and salt and bring to a simmer.
  4. Mix the arrowroot powder in the cream and stir into mixture in the pan.
  5. Add the cream cheese and gently heat the mixture and stir to melt the cream cheese and let the arrowroot powder thicken.
  6. After thickened, stir in 1 cup of shredded cheese and the chicken.
  7. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Add the cooked noodles to the pot and stir to combine.
  9. Pour into a 9x13 pan (it will be full) and top with the remainder of the cheese.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

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Menu Plan and Goals

Happy Mother’s Day! We spent the day at church, washing and waxing the car, running errands, working on earrings, and eating. I just needed to find a way to sneak a nap in there! When you are an adult, holidays are for being productive it seems. I can’t complain though because it’s always nice to get things done.

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

We actually had a fairly relaxing week and I was able to spend time visiting with some friends. One of them even gave the little guy his first hair cut. He was starting to look pretty shaggy! The kiddie pool also got pulled out of the shed and the kids are wanting to be outside almost every waking moment.

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

I’m looking forward to another uneventful week (crossing my fingers it stays that way) and hopefully being able to get the earrings, lip balms, and room sprays finished up for my booth at the herb festival. I need to have everything done 2 weeks from Friday and know it’s going to come up fast.

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

Suppers:

  • Chicken Spaghetti (Velveeta and cream soup free) – Recipe coming! x 2
  • Chicken Chow Mein x 2
  • Bean Tostadas
  • Leftover Mexican Chicken Rice Casserole
  • Leftovers

Lunches:

  • Mexican Chicken Rice Casserole (from one of the Heavenly Homemakers e-books)
  • Taco Salad
  • Salads
  • Sweet Potatoes

Breakfasts:

  • Green Smoothies
  • Mango Lassi – Recipe Coming
  • Pancakes from the freezer

Goals:

What are you eating this week? Any goals you need to tackle?

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

Easy Homemade Yogurt

A favorite breakfast and snack in our house is homemade yogurt. My daughter eats it plain without any sweetener. We put it in smoothies, top it with fruit or granola, and add it to muffins. I’ve been making it for several years now.

Thick and Easy Homemade Yogurt (with or without a slow cooker) We LOVE this!

Why make yogurt? It’s cheaper and there are no added ingredients. Plain yogurt is one of those products you shouldn’t have to read the label on when you are shopping. Unfortunately though, you do. It’s so simple. The actual labor of making yogurt is pretty much nothing. Most of the time you are just ignoring it. Yogurt is something you should add to your “make from scratch” list.

I use my 6 quart slow cooker from start to finish to make my easy homemade yogurt. A friend uses the same method but does it on the stove in a heavy pot. The slow cooker would give a little better insulation during the setting period. You can also place it in a warmer location – such as a (turned off) oven when the light turned on.

Options for Thicker Yogurt:

Use Whole Milk – I always use whole milk and my yogurt thickens enough for our tastes. It does turn out thicker in the summer when the house stays warmer though. If the yogurt isn’t thick enough for you or you choose to use a lower fat milk, you can do one of the following options.

Strain  – Strain it to your desired consistency using a tea towel or cheese cloth. Obviously you’ll end up with not as much yogurt using this method but you can still use the liquid you strained off for baking, smoothies etc.

Gelatin – Add 1-2 teaspoons of gelatin (details on how to do that when we get to the recipe) to have your yogurt set up really well.

 

Step 1:

Slow Cooker Method: Pour 8 cups of milk into your slow cooker, cover, and turn to low.
Stove Top Method: Pour 8 cups of milk into a heavy pan and turn stove to low.

Step 2:

With Thermometer: Heat to 180-185 degrees and turn off heat.
Without Thermometer: A thermometer takes the guessing out of it but you can also just go by looks. Turn the slow cooker or stove off shortly before you think it’s going to boil. (It might be just starting to slightly bubble around the very edges of the pan.)

Slow Cooker: This will take 2 – 2 1/2 hours covered depending on the temperature of your house.
Stove Top: If you do it on the stove, stir it occasionally during the process to keep it from scorching on the bottom.

Step 3:

With Thermometer: Let the milk cool down to 115 degrees. I like to make sure mine isn’t any cooler than that because I’ve found it won’t set up as well for me. You don’t want it to be too hot though otherwise it will kill the cultures in the yogurt when you add it.
Without Thermometer: Go by touch! You should be able to easily stick your finger in without burning it. The milk should feel a little hotter than just warm though.

Step 4:

Scoop out 1-2 cups of the warm milk and stir 1/2 cup of plain yogurt (with active cultures) into it. Pour back into the slow cooker or pan and stir together.

Optional Step:

If you want to add gelatin for a thicker yogurt, now is the time to do it! Simply sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons of gelatin over the top of the milk and gentle whisk it in. Then proceed to step 5.

Step 5:

Replace lid on the cover slow cooker or crockpot with several heavy towels to keep it insulated. I cover my slow cooker with 3 big towels and leave it on the counter over night. If you are using a pan, you might want to cover it with towels and place in the oven with the light on or in a cooler to help keep it insulated better.

Let your milk/yogurt sit insulated for 8-12 hours. I’ve found closer to 10 hours is better for the yogurt to turn out thicker.

Step 6:

After the 8-12 hours are up, remove the towels and transfer the pot/slow cooker insert to the refrigerator and let cool completely. (Again, you can eat it sooner but I’ve just found it sets up thicker if I let it cool completely first.)

This is how well my whole milk yogurt (made with only milk and yogurt) thickens up:

Thick and Easy Homemade Yogurt (with or without a slow cooker) We LOVE this!

Thick and Easy Homemade Yogurt (with or without a slow cooker) We LOVE this!

Step 7:

Transfer yogurt into your food storage containers and keep in the refrigerator.

Top with fruit, granola, jam or even eat plain. If you want, you can sweeten to taste using a drizzle of maple syrup, honey or other sweetener of your choice.

Do you make yogurt? What’s your favorite method?

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Easy Wheat Free Meal Ideas

We’ve been talking wheat free the past couple of weeks. I shared about our wheat free experiment and gave 9 suggestion to make going wheat free easier for your family (and on a budget). One of the hardest things can be coming up with recipes. A comment I heard several times from friends was “I just don’t know what I would do if we had to go wheat free. I wouldn’t know what to eat”.

Today, I’ve compiled a list of easy wheat free meal ideas to help make your menu planning a little easier.

Easy wheat free meal ideas that the entire family will love. Budget friendly as well!

They are recipes that use ingredients you likely already have in your house or can easily purchase at your local store. Hopefully you can find some great meal ideas whether or not you are wheat free and also see that there is an abundance of food you can still enjoy even if you are cutting out wheat.

Breakfast:

Lunch:

Supper:

Snacks:

Desserts:

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Menu Plan and Goals

Life is crazy! I always think things are going to slow down and get better but I’m beginning to think that we might just have to find a way to make things work for our family going at this pace, at least for a while. After the craft show is over there won’t be a never ending to do list of things that have to be accomplished by a certain date. When life gets like this, I’m thankful for simplicity.

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

On a side note, I’ve found making earrings to be quite relaxing and enjoyable. It’s a fun way to spend an hour or so each evening and the perfect time to catch up on watching movies or television shows online. I need to have everything completed 3 weeks from Friday. I will be selling the earrings, lip balm, room spray, and mason jar lidded straw cups with a chalkboard paint rectangle. The lip balms and room sprays should come together pretty easily. I just need a couple hour block of time to work on them.

I’ll try to remember to take pictures of the earrings and other products to share soon!

Oklahoma is crazy! I think we’ve completely skipped spring. The number of perfect temperature days we’ve had are minimal. It went from cold to 100 degrees today. It’s only the first week of May! I’m a little scared for what the rest of the summer is going to be like.

I’m thinking the next month our menu might become even more basic than normal. On top of being busy and lacking time, hot weather also seems to decrease the desire to cook.

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

Suppers:

  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Small Groups – brought a dessert and chips and salsa
  • Ladies’ Bible Study for me and pizza bread at home
  • Crockpot BBQ Chicken with Sweet Potato Rounds
  • Leftovers

Lunches:

  • Salads (for me and Shaun)
  • Leftover macaroni and cheese
  • Pizza Bread

Breakfasts:

  • Oatmeal Banana Muffins
  • Pancakes from the freezer
  • Smoothies

Goals:

Here’s hoping for the little guy to have a couple good nights of sleep this week. I’m thinking I’m going to need it. :-)

What’s on your menu? What are you goals for the week? If you have any quick and healthy recipes (not using the oven is a huge plus) to share or advice for my craft show going ons I’d love hear from you too!

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday