Wednesday, May 27, 2009

In-Season Recipe Swap: Rhubarb Dumplings

When I saw that the theme for this week's In Season Recipe Swap was rhubarb, I knew I had to share the recipe for rhubarb dumplings.

Even better, I had to make a batch so that I'd have a picture to post. Yum!

This is a family favorite from when I was a child. Mom would often make these sweet-tart rhubarb dumplings throughout the spring and summer when rhubarb was in season. Now when we visit, Mom will usually make these for a special treat!

Where I live now, I don't come across rhubarb often. So it's a treat when I do find some. Last summer, I was fortunate to find rhubarb at a local produce stand. Hopefully, I'll get some more this year!

This recipe is good with either fresh or frozen rhubarb. I used frozen from last summer's find for this particular batch.

This is good served warm with milk or cream or can be eaten cold for breakfast the next day!

Rhubarb Dumplings

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 T. shortening(I use butter.)
7/8 cup milk

Soft margarine or butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups chopped rhubarb

Mix together flour, baking powder, salt and shortening. Add milk. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick on floured surface.

Spread with margarine, sugar and rhubarb. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Roll up. Cut into approx. 9 pieces and place in greased 9-inch square (or round) pan.

Make Sweet Sauce and pour over unbaked rolls:

In saucepan mix:

1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot water
1 tablespoon margarine or butter
dash of nutmeg

Stirring often over medium-high heat, bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Pour over unbaked rolls.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Makes approximately 9 servings.

**Note: If pan is pretty full place on or over a larger baking pan when baking to catch drips.

Hope you enjoy this family favorite!

**To view more recipes featuring rhubarb, visit the In-Season Recipe Swap at Tammy's Recipes!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: Following Recipes

Today's kitchen tip is a very simple one. But it has helped me so much as I cook and bake!

1) Pull out very ingredient that you will need for the recipe you're using. You'll know if you have everything.

2) Add each ingredient in the order the recipe has it listed.

3) As you use each ingredient, put it away. You'll be able to easily tell which ingredients you've already used!

These steps may seem like no-brainers, but whenever I do not follow my own advice, I invariably will leave something out or find that I'm out of a certain ingredient.

As a side note, one of my pet peeves is recipes that do not list the ingredients in the order you will add them to the concoction. This drives me nuts! If I need to combine all the wet ingredients at the beginning, then why is the vanilla listed way over at the end of the cookie recipe with the optional chocolate chips?!? I re-write recipes quite often so that they are easier to follow!

**This post is part of Tammy's Recipes Kitchen Tip Tuesday.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Worth Reading

Here's a few great reads I found while blog surfing this past week. Enjoy!

7 Tips On Leading A Balanced Blogger Life @ Mom Advice.

Adventures In Couponing: 8 Great Ways To Find Coupons @ Life As Mom.

How I "Do It All" @ Keeper Of The Home.

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Memorial Day to all of my U.S. readers! I hope you take a moment today to remember those who have fought and are fighting for our freedom. Without their sacrifice, we would not have all the privileges that are ours in this wonderful country!

To my non-U.S. readers, Happy Monday! I'm glad you're here, too!

I'm telling you, I'm loving my new meal rotation that I posted about last week. It is so easy to plan! Plus, I really don't have to think much about breakfast!

Here's this week's supper menu:

Sunday-cheese melts, carrot sticks, watermelon

Monday-eat at church meeting. I'm taking watermelon and coleslaw to go along with BBQ ribs. Yummy, yummy!

Tuesday- stir fry(chicken, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots,mushrooms), brown rice, applesauce

Wednesday-pigs-in-a-blanket(hot dogs wrapped in bread/roll dough and baked), carrot sticks, pineapple

Thursday-beef stroganoff(crock pot), egg noodles, peas, applesauce

Friday- picnic. Menu TBA.

Saturday- egg casserole**, pineapple

**Indicates already prepared freezer item.

For more menu planning inspiration, click on over to Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Frugal Handmade Gift

We were invited to a college graduation party for two lovely young ladies last weekend.

What do you give for a graduation gift besides money and cars?!?

I decided on something small (and frugal)that they would be able to use.

These notebook holders looked like fun to make and use so I whipped up two of them for gifts. These were very quick and easy to make!

I love Hobby Lobby's fabric section. Unlike my own stash of fabric, they always have a nice selection of coordinating prints. I love this funky flower and stripe combination!

The directions are written with European measurements/size notebooks so I skipped their measurements and figured out my own measurements for a standard journal or medium-size notebook. (I used a smaller notebook for the gift since that's what I had on hand but the pouch will hold a regular-size journal.) This can be easily adapted to any size notebook or coloring book.

I can't wait to make one for myself to use for my Bible study materials! And some more for sweet and frugal gifts, too!

**This post is part of Life As Mom's Frugal Fridays!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Summer Of Picnics #2

For our second picnic of the season, we traveled a long distance to our front porch!

I've been wanting a table for our porch for a while. A table makes for a nice place to sit and eat and also gives a charming cottage look. We found a sturdy card table at a yard sale this spring. The only problem was that the top is damaged and needs to be covered to look nice.:-) We went ahead and brought it home since I would use a tablecloth anyways! For $5, it will serve us well until we find something nicer.

All that to say, we ate at our front porch table for this picnic!

Because we weren't going anywhere, I didn't bother packing our meal in a basket. Instead, I just filled our plates and took them outside.

A candle and wild rose decorated our table.

The menu:
--Ham and Swiss quiche
--Sliced strawberries
--Chocolate Chip-Raspberry cookies

Simple and sweet!

We definitely will be eating outside more this summer!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Happy Homemaker Monday

On my bedside table:
--Only a candle, alarm clock and lamp since I've decluttered in there! I'm not reading any books at the moment; need to make a trip to the library.
On my TV:
--Probably not much today!

On the menu for tonight:
--We are eating at our usual Monday night meeting. I'm taking leftover coleslaw and corn muffins from yesterday. Easy no-cook day!

On my To Do List:
--clip and sort coupons
--make a batch of meatballs to freeze

New Recipe I tried last week:
--No new recipes but used leftovers and what I had to create a casserole of sorts one day: a concoction of leftover rice, mixed veggies, cooked and chopped chicken and then topped with cheese and baked. Pretty good! I liked mine with salsa on top for extra flavor!

In the craft basket:
--a new skirt
--need to decide if I'm going to make another baby shower gift

Looking forward to:
--seeing how God will work through me this week

Homemaking Tip for this week:
--Simplify, simplify. I've been on a rampage going through my home trying to see how I can simplify and make my space as user-friendly as possible. I'll be writing a post on this soon.

Favorite Blog Post of the week (mine or other):
--What Is A No-Spend Month? at Small Notebook.
Favorite photo from last week:
--None this week.

Lesson learned the past few days:
--Ask God. This is an ongoing lesson of course, but one that is so important! I'm learning to ask God about the the little things in daily routine. What does He want me to do next? How would He have me plan my day? What is truly important to Him? This is a small way that I am learning to hear His voice and to know Him.

On my Prayer List:
--my husband
--direction for our family
--families in our fellowship
--that God will show me who I can encourage this week!

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
Along with our church fellowship, I've been reading Matthew 8-14 this week. Our main focus chapter was Matthew 10. What jumped out at me in that chapter was verse 30.

Matthew 10:30: "Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered."

God knows and is interested in even the smallest details of our lives.

**Thanks to Sandra for hosting Happy Homemaker Monday!

Menu Plan Monday and New Meal Rotation

My schedule has really changed lately and in trying to bring some kind of order and simplicity to my meal planning, I've written up a simple meal rotation for breakfast and supper that I will follow every week.

I've been following the breakfast schedule for several days and really like it! We had been eating a whole lot of cold cereal because of lack of planning ahead and this schedule should help with some of that.

Several years ago, I made up a supper meal schedule. I've mostly gotten away from it over the past few years except for "breakfast for supper" on Saturday nights. I've pretty well held to that and plan to continue to do so. I love to cook and try new recipes so this is a themed meal plan that still allows me lots of flexibility.

As always these plans are not set in stone. I will change these from day to day as it all falls into place.

Breakfast Rotation:
Sunday-yogurt/cottage cheese, fruit, toast

Monday-eggs, toast, fruit

Tuesday-grits/oatmeal, fruit

Wednesday-pancakes/waffles, smoothies

Thursday-eggs, toast, fruit

Friday-muffins/baked goods, smoothies

Saturday-cold cereal, fruit

Lunches- Leftovers or something very quick and easy.

Supper Rotation:Summer Edition(I'll tweak it accordingly for fall and winter.)

Sunday- whatever!(snack foods, salads, leftovers, etc.)

Monday-eat at church meeting most weeks(I usually take something for the meal but don't cook a whole meal on this night.)

Tuesday-stir fry/skillet dish/ casserole

Wednesday-quick and easy


Friday-picnic date night

Saturday-Breakfast for supper

Without further adieu, here's my supper meal plan for the week:

Sunday- cheese grits

Monday-church meeting(I'm taking leftover corn muffins and coleslaw from Sundays lunch.)

Tuesday- red beans and sausage with rice (Cook extra beans and rice to freeze.)

Wednesday- hot dogs, carrot sticks, grapes

Thursday- Rotisserie-style chicken(crockpot), mashed potatoes**, gravy, green beans

Friday-chicken salad sandwiches, tortilla chips, veggies, dessert

Saturday- pancakes, scrambled eggs

**denotes ready made freezer item

For more menu planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Triple Coupon Weekend at Bloom!

Bloom stores are running their triple coupon sales this weekend. If you have a Bloom near you, there are many great deals to be had. Lots of free or nearly free items this time around. Southern Savers has some coupon match-ups here.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to go this morning but Andy encouraged me to go. My excuse was that I only had $13 of grocery money left and I still needed milk, eggs and produce. (Never fear, my pantry and freezer are well-stocked with about everything else!)

I got all of this(nearly $100 worth of groceries) in two transactions for a grand total of $5.27 ! This included eggs, some fruit and frozen veggies that we needed. My second transaction ended up being negative so I added the two packs of Orbit gum to bring my total up to $.34. Now that's what I'm talking about!

I still have money leftover for milk and a few other items. God is good!

See how excited the dog was over my great triple coupon haul! Hmmmm....not so much!!!

**This post is linked to Southern Saver's Friday Finals and Money Saving Mom's Super Savings Saturday!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Summer of Picnics #1

For my husband and I, picnics are a favorite date activity. When we were dating, we often went on picnic dates. Our favorite picnic spot in those days was the lake at Furman University. We whiled away many Saturday afternoons there.

These days it seems that going on picnics requires a bit more intentional planning. Maybe it's because we don't often have that many afternoons to while away anymore. There's yard work to do, a house to clean, always something to be done!

This summer I'm determined to dust off the picnic basket(s) and go on many picnics with my sweetie!

I'm planning on a picnic once a week. That may seem ambitious, but I figure that if I shoot for one a week, we should at least actually do a picnic at least twice a month that way. Instead of other years when we vowed to go on lots of picnics again and ended up going on one or none at all.

Picnics can be had just about anywhere and can be very easy on the budget. They can be simple or a bit more extravagant. I like to make our picnics a bit on the charming side because it's fun! A wicker basket, pretty tablecloth or old-fashioned picnic blanket and some fun foods can do a lot to add a touch of beauty to a simple lunch.

For our first picnic of the season, we headed out to a local garden just minutes from our house. Using ingredients that I had on hand, I packed a simple supper of egg salad sandwiches, veggie chips, cheese cubes, homemade pickles, celery sticks and brownies.

I've never used these silicone cupcake cups(a gift) for baking, but I've found that they are great for dividing small bits of food and condiments in larger lunch containers.

There are no tables at this garden but plenty of benches and wide retaining walls to sit on comfortably and set out a picnic on.

This garden is a prime spot for photo shoots. Often we'll see wedding photos being taken. This particular evening was "Prom Central". It took us a bit to find a spot away from the cameras so we settled in on a brick amphitheater-type stage away from the center of the garden.

The food was good and the scenery quite lovely!

Picnics. For us, they're definitely a finer thing!

**This post is part of Amy's Finer Things Friday!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

My Best Frugal Tip: Don't Let Food Go To Waste! or What I Did With Two Loaves of Not-Quite-Good-Enough Bread

How's that for a title!?!

One of the best ways that I can think of to save money in the kitchen is to not let food go to waste. This means that I save leftovers and try to creatively stretch them to make new meals.

Leftover meats and veggies get made into salads, soups or casseroles. Chicken bones are simmered with spices and veggie scraps(well-cleaned) in a pot of water for delicious homemade broth. The water that I use to steam veggies is saved in a freezer container and used for adding great flavor to soup when enough is collected. Leftover pasta makes pasta salad, etc, etc, etc.

Some leftovers make for good dog food.

I know you won't be able to believe it, but I have "flops" or recipes that don't quite turn out as expected sometimes. What do I do with them? Well, I try to figure out how to use them and make them edible before just pitching it.

Last week, I made a batch of bread. This recipe makes four loaves but I think next time I'll make five loaves instead. Two of the loaves turned out way too large and didn't bake properly. I baked them a long long time and they were still doughy in the center. But because I baked them so long, they were really dark on the outside, almost burnt.

Then one of these mammoth loaves broke in half. What to do? I started thinking of what I normally do with stale bread and came up with a few ideas.

I took both loaves and began to cut them into cubes. An electric knife makes this very easy!

We love homemade croutons so I made two batches of those. Not only do we use croutons on salads, but they also work well on top of casseroles or instead of crackers for soup.

Next, I remembered how much we enjoyed homemade stove-top stuffing so I mixed up two batches of that. I am trying to not use MSG-loaded chicken bouillon so I'll add my own broth or soup base when preparing the mixes. I'll also add fresh celery and onion when I cook it. I put the bread cubes in the oven to dry the same as I did the croutons.

I also made one recipe of egg casserole which uses cubed bread as a main ingredient. This makes a 9 x 13 pan so I divided it into two smaller pans-one to freeze and one to bake for the next day. I forgot to take a pictures of the baked casserole so you'll have to imagine it all fluffy and browned!

Do you know how many bread cubes come from two HUGE loaves of bread?!??

A LOT!!!

I still had enough bread left for two more batches of stuffing mix. Plus I made bread crumbs from 2 slices to use in that night's salmon patties.

Some other ideas for using stale or extra bread:
--Feed the birds.
--Feed the ducks.
--Feed the children.:-)
--Bread crumbs for recipes.
--French toast.
--Bread pudding.

Any other ideas for using bread or other leftovers? Please share in the comments!

Getting creative with food leftovers, flops and extras saves me a whole lot of money each year!

This frugal tip works for me!

**This post is part of Works For Me Wednesday and Frugal Fridays!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Planting Time!

For the past 3 summers, we have planted a big garden with friends at their house. Several households go in together to buy the plants, help with planting and the upkeep of the garden. At harvest time, of course, we all get to share the produce! It works pretty well and we all profit from it.

This summer, like last year, I'm doing a small garden of veggies and herbs at my house to supplement what I get from the big garden. It's nice to have some plants growing right outside my own door!

We all got together last Saturday to plant the big garden. We didn't plant as much variety as other years, since we've figured out what does and doesn't do as well plus what the individual households like! We planted zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, peas and peppers.

The kids were quite helpful with planting and watering. They have helped every year and it's exciting to see them grow and learn throughout the whole process! After the planting was over, they had lots of fun making mud muffins and turtles as you will be able to see in a few of the pictures.

We also were all treated to some grilled hamburgers and hot dogs! Yum!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Menu Plan Monday!

B-hard-boiled eggs,toast
L-I took Crockpot Chicken and Rice Casserole to our church potluck.
D-smoothies, popcorn, cheese slices and veggies

B-scrambled eggs, toast, sliced apple
D-eat at church meeting

B-grits with cheese, smoothies
D-hot dogs at Sam's Club while doing monthly grocery shopping

B-baked oatmeal with strawberries and milk
L-salad, cottage cheese
D-macaroni and cheese, veggie

B-leftover baked oatmeal, sliced apple
D-French Bread pizzas, salad

B-muffins, smoothies
D-Picnic Night! Menu TBD.

B-cold cereal, milk, fruit
L-salad, leftovers, etc.
D-Something small and quick as we're going to a graduation party.

**Visit Organizing Junkie for more Menu Plan Monday posts!

To-Do List For The Week

Here's my list of 5 projects that I hope to complete this week. I completed almost everything on my list for last week. I didn't get to my skirt sewing, but I did help to plant the garden that we share with our friends each summer. Busy and fun times! This list helps to keep me focused.

1)Help my husband research new banking options.

2)Reorganize my coupon binder: weed out expired coupons and clip and file new ones.

3)Plant my small gardens here at home.

4)Decide what to do with 5 pound package of sale-priced ground beef and freeze.

5)Make gift for a graduation party that we'll be attending. Skirt-sewing will have to wait again!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Restoring Order: Organizing the Pantry

I was glad to be able to join in with Monica and Rebecca's Restoring Order weekly carnival this week. To participate, you choose an area of your home that needs organizing or straightening and post before and after pics.

First on my list was to reorganize my pantry. So that was my project this week.

My pantry is a couple small bookshelves in my laundry room. Not totally ideal but it works for now.

I seem to never have enough room on those shelves but lately I have gotten really lazy and disorganized. With all my couponing deals lately, I was starting to just throw groceries on top of everything else when I brought them home. To get to anything, stuff would fall as I rooted through to find what I was looking for.

This really bugged me but yet I didn't do anything about it! This week, I'm happy to say that I finally restored order to my pantry!

I took everything off the shelves and wiped the shelves down with a wet rag. Then I sorted everything and evaluated the best way to go about reorganizing.

Throughout the process I discovered several things:

1) I had way too many processed items. This is not helping my goal to eat healthy and eliminate most items containing high fructose corn syrup and MSG from our diet.

2)I don't need to buy any more pasta, tomato paste or corn starch for a very long time. Thank you, coupons!

3)Buying basic food items instead of pre-packaged food items (even if they're free with coupons) would be a better use of my limited pantry space. For example: a box of Quaker instant oatmeal is only good for oatmeal for breakfast. A container of oats can be made into oatmeal or used for cooking and baking. Eventually I would like all my jars and containers of dry beans, fruit, oats,rice, etc. to be in my pantry. For now however, they're scattered throughout my kitchen and dining room, which is why you don't see them in this picture!

I filled a big box with items to donate. I did keep the Betty Crocker Warm Delights and brownie mixes. One must have priorities, you know!

A few items were rather old so I threw them out. Other boxes were opened so I put them aside to use up first. I found that I had several sample boxes of cereal, so I set them out to be eaten before we open any more boxes of cereal!
Lastly, I lined everything up on the shelves in neat rows. Much better!

**Visit Rebecca's blog for more Restoring Order posts!

Baby Shower

I was privileged to attend a baby shower for my sister last Saturday. She's due to have a little girl in early June and we are all most excited!

Kathryn and Robin.

This was a double baby shower for Kathryn and her friend Robin from church. Their babies are due right about the same time!

I really enjoyed being at this shower and experiencing the love and support these ladies are receiving from their church family! Not only did they receive many wonderful gifts for their little ones, but they had a special time of prayer before the party was over, asking God to bless these ladies and their new babies.

Kathryn's gifts.

Isn't this a pretty cake? It was delicious, too.

My sister and I!


My nephew Knox was so excited to be able to come home with us for overnight when we visited them last weekend.

This picture was taken Saturday morning when we said it was time to pack the car. He ran to get his pillow, "Spot", and both of his special blankets!

Contrary to his facial expression, he was quite excited to go! Isn't he cute?!

We had a great time together and are looking forward to his next visit!