Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Menu Plan Monday 12/30

Monday- Chicken Wings with hash browns or turkey and rice soup
Tuesday- Steak and baked potatoes
Wednesday- ???  At a friends house for most of the day so something quick when we get home
Thursday- Chicken and Rice Casserole
Friday- Cheese Ravioli with garlic bread
Saturday- Burritos/Chicken Finger with fries
Sunday- Leftovers/Chicken Paninis with mac and cheese

I thought that I scheduled this for Monday but with everything going on, it fell through the cracks.  We are still using leftovers in the fridge and trying to freeze all of the things that we aren't going to eat right away.  Sadly, some things had to go into the garbage because they didn't get eaten soon enough but with so many different people eating and leaving, there were things left that we didn't like.  I feel bad about it most of the year because I don't like to waste but there isn't much you can do around the holidays when you are making food that not everyone eats. 

Monday was my last day of trying to use up leftovers and everything else is going in the freezer or trash.  We got free chicken wings and drumsticks with Chinese food so I put some buffalo sauce on them and baked them in the toaster oven.  I got the wings with hash browns and my husband got the Turkey and Rice soup made from a bunch of leftovers in the fridge with the drumsticks.

We try to have a nice dinner on New Years Eve and this year we got Omaha Steaks for Christmas so we are going to be having those for dinner.  My husband picked out his cuts and put them in the fridge to thaw so that they would be ready.  I have to head to a dentist appointment tonight right around the time that I usually start dinner so I am going to get the potatoes started before leaving and let him do the rest.

I realized that when I turned the page on my calendar that there weren't any more pages!  Ugh.  I didn't order my free Betty Crocker or Pillsbury calendar and they are all out!  Time to figure out plan B.  I went on the internet and found a free calendar that I could print out.  I typed in lunch and dinner on the weekends and expanded the size a little to be the whole size of the page.  I decided to put it in a plastic sleeve with the items in the freezer on the back side.  I really like the new system and I guess that I will be using this all year and just putting the new month in the front.  I will try to share a picture next week.  Getting my act together with a calendar helped me to pull together the rest of the week's meal plan.  Hope that you have a great week planned to end the year and start the new one!!!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Cloak of the Light Book Review

Cloak of the Light: Wars of the Realm, Book  by Chuck Black was my next choice from Blogging for Books.  I wasn't really sure about it from the summary that I read and I didn't remember what it was about when it showed up in my mailbox.  I was just finished reading my other book so I grabbed it to check it out.  Although I spent the entire book forgetting the title of the book, It was a great pick.

In this book, Drew Carter lost his father at the age of twelve and he met his father's friend, Jake.  Jake became his good friend and took him camping to teach him survival skills while enjoying a little bonding time.  Jake convinced him to try out for football at his South Carolina school which he was really good at and enjoyed.  It helped him fit in and start to feel like he had a normal life.  Then his mother lost her job and they had to move across the country to Kansas.  He had to start over which was hard but he started playing football again.  He tried to fit in with his teammates but they weren't as nice as he was so he found a new friend, Benjamin Berg.  After a rough childhood, he gets to start over in college where even more interesting things happen including an accident in the physics department with Ben where they both fight life threatening injuries and their lives change again permanently.  You will have to pick up the book to find out what happens next!!!!

I thought this book was amazing.  I am hooked and I really need to read the next one now and this one isn't even released yet since I got a pre-released copy!!!  I am in trouble if I have to wait a year for the next one.  I hope that this series is going to come out faster then most because this was a real cliffhanger.  If you like resolution at the end of your books, this isn't going to be the one for you.  I had trouble putting it down, especially at the end and then it was quickly over before I was ready (as many good books are).  I was left wondering what was going to happen next.  I hope that you pick up this book at your local library or bookstore when it is available with the release date on March 19th (but available for pre-order on Amazon).  Let me know if you have read anything else by this author because I am going to start looking into some of his other book series!!!  Stay tuned for my review on Good Reads too!

** I was provided this book from Blogging for Books for my honest review.   All of the opinions here are my own.  If you are interested in Blogging for Books, please check out their website here.  Review on their website can be seen here.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Weekly Goals 12/29

Not only the end of the month but the end of the year!!!  Happy New Year to everyone and I hope that you have great plans for this week.  I had a crazy week with all the company in town and didn't get a lot of other things done but hoping to get back to a calmer life next week.  I started to think that things were getting better but I came down with a full force of my TMJ again and couldn't sleep on Friday night at all.  I took medicine, did my exercises and things weren't getting better.  I finally passed out at 3 am which made for a tough morning.  Saturday was worse and earlier because I melted down when I was watching a family movie but I guess they started to understand the pain that I was in for the last almost 6 years.  I am going to be calling the dentist, doctor and ENT next week and trying to get into physical therapy in the new year since that is the only thing that has helped to this point....and maybe my massage that I got a gift certificate from my aunt and uncle before my husband goes back to work :)

Last week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with family and the whole extended family for the holidays- We were super excited to welcome Grammie into town on Sunday night with a pizza dinner at her house and Grandma and Grandpa into town on Monday.  We had a busy week with so much excitement.
  • Go to movies at the library program- We went to see movies at the library which has been ages since we have been able to go since they are normally on Friday and we are in school. 
  • Go to Legos at the library- My son loved this last time so it seemed like a great thing to get him involved with so that he would be out of the house and not bouncing off the walls with all the Christmas excitement.  He was mostly just bouncing off the walls at the library and seemed to pick the worst kids to hang out with.  Do you ever have that problem when you go to the park or somewhere else where kids are playing?
Personal Goals
  • Cut coupons- Decided to do cleaning instead of cutting coupons before people got here and I didn't get a lot of free time to do them when everyone was here.
  • Get coupons on Friday- I actually got papers/coupons on Friday before I realized that they were last weeks coupons and there wasn't a local paper this week.  Oh well, a break because I didn't get last weeks cut yet anyway :)
  • Shut off computer 6 nights to save energy- I didn't get a lot of time on the computer so it was off a lot!
  • Cut and freeze chicken- It wasn't as bad as I made it out to be with only two packages, I cut and froze all of the chicken on Sunday morning while my husband was busy cleaning the dishes.  Once I was done, I got to clean the counters and then the kitchen (and the fridge) was amazingly clean until everyone got here and then it was a mess.
  • Go to Jazzercise (?)- I didn't get to go because there was so much going on but I guess that is the price for family in town and now I am not sure with my TMJ but hoping to be able to go next week.
  • Clean house for company- We made a lot of progress cleaning the house on Sunday.  My husband cleaned out some weird parts of the washing machine and did a cleaning cycle per the instruction book.  Does anyone else have the front loading HE washer?  It is a pain but my husband did find two pennies in the hidden compartment so make sure you read the manual.  We vacuumed, dusted, and moved toys away to get ready for company.  There were a few more things that I needed to be done like laundry and clean the microwave which started late on Sunday and into Monday.
  • Finish reading the Blogging for Books novel- I don't know what I thought the book was about but the title still had me confused the second time (I couldn't remember it) that I picked the book up.  I finished it and posted the review so check it out.
  • Start reading the next book in the pile or on the shelf because I think that I am at the end of the library check outs and with all of the company coming probably not enough time to get to the library :)- I started reading a book off the shelf so I was super excited to get to that part of the list and find a good book!  Probably finishing on Sunday night :)
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 5 days of the week- I have to say that my kitchen is a mess.  I tried to keep it clean and then gave up.  I had some time to clean the counters and the floor and decided to lay down instead!  It is impossible to keep ahead of that many messes but I am going to get some cleaning done at the beginning of next week when everyone leaves and then stop eating...okay, maybe just stop messing up the kitchen.
  • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning- Haha!!!  We didn't stop washing dishes.  Every time I walked through the kitchen, I had to wash dishes, run the dishwasher or fill it again!  I was exhausted from all the dishes and it makes me wonder why I don't use more paper plates.  Right because it isn't eco friendly :) My husband cleaned dishes in the times that I wasn't doing them too and it was still overwhelming (just want to give him credit).
Blog Goals
  • Post one post everyday (schedule 7 posts so that can spend more time with family)- Done.  I got most of my posts up at the beginning of the week except one recipe that I needed to get added which I didn't get done until a little later in the week but with plenty of time to schedule.
  • Review book reviews completed during the week (if done)- Done
  • Work on a few posts to work ahead for the coming week- I didn't get to do a lot ahead but I did make the framework for all the posts that I needed to get up in January so there are lots of drafts that I need to add a little work and get posted.
  • Post Sunday Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, Kid Wednesday and Thrifty Thursday Tip- Done
This week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with family
  • Go to Rainbow Readers at the library
  • Go to Rocknoceros at the library
  • Sister in law and brother in law coming for dinner on New Years Eve
  • Exchange presents with friends
  • Ready for school storytime at library
  • Lakeshore Learning for craft and play (depending on how I feel by the end of the week)
Personal Goals
  • Cut coupons (from the week before)
  • Get coupons on Friday 
  • Shut off computer 6 nights to save energy
  • Go to Jazzercise (? depending on doctors advice)
  • Make reading list for 2014
  • Finish reading Light on Snow
  • Start reading One For The Money
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 5 days of the week
  • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning
Blog Goals
  • Post one post everyday (schedule 7 posts so that can spend more time with family) 
  • Write End of the month reviews of budget, reading and cooking
  • Review book reviews completed during the week (if done)
  • Work on a few posts to work ahead for the coming week
  • Post Sunday Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, Kid Wednesday and Thrifty Thursday Tip 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Marshmallow Surprise Cookies (or Peppermint Hot Cocoa Cookies)

I had a cookie exchange and I was trying to look for something that I had around the house that I could make (and that might be a little more interesting).  I ended up using a combination of cookie recipes after finding this one from Let's Dish Recipes and the recipe on the box to change up the Pillsbury Chocolate Peppermint cookies by adding additional flour.  I had two boxes which I needed because I was making 3 dozen cookies for the exchange (just got 36 out of the mix).

I also had a box of peppermint bark that my husband decided he didn't like because it was a little thick and not very peppermint-y.  I chopped up some to add it to the batter since I was saving the peppermint candy to add to the frosting and what is better then chocolate chip cookies!

I put the butter in the microwave safe bowl and then put it in the microwave to melt it.

I followed the directions on the box which was hard to mix in at first.

But after a little more muscle, I got it to all mix together and it was pretty liquidy.

I added the peppermint bark.  If you don't have leftover peppermint bark, feel free to skip or add chocolate chips or any other leftover candy to the mix.

It mixed up and I thought it looked like there was enough but I did have everything out to add more if I didn't think that it looked like enough. Then, I added the flour which was suggested on the back of the box.

It was supposed to make the cookies more stable so that they didn't spread out like a chocolate chip cookie.  I used my cookie scoop to put them on the cookie sheet.

Then, I flattened them down with the bottom of a glass which was really easy and it didn't even stick once I got the rhythm going.  I have never done that before but it made the cookies very uniform.

I put the cookies in the oven and started to cut the marshmallows.  I used a sharp knife and cut them in half with a little bit of a sawing motion.  The original recipe suggested using scissors which I think would be horrible to clean up.  If you have really fresh marshmallows, I suggest leaving them out for a little bit to get them a little more dry so that they don't totally crush when being cut.

I baked the cookies for 6 minutes and then pulled the tray out and smooshed the marshmallow half in the middle of the cookie and put them back in until the top was lightly toasted. 

It took a little longer in my oven then the recipe said so it was about 4-5 minutes.  They came out of the oven very fluffy but went down as they cooled.  But isn't it a nice tan color like you just made s'mores.

When the cookies were cooling, I mixed up some peppermint icing.  I had these frosting creations starters so I decided instead of using one of the flavor packages, I would make my own.  I added peppermint extract (per the package instructions) about 1/4 tsp to the frosting. 

Then, I dumped in an entire package of the peppermint pieces from the cookie package.  If you don't use the same box of cookies, feel free to crush up candy canes or starlight mints to put into the icing to add that extra flavor.

When I mixed it up, it made a nice thick icing with some great peppermint scent just calling for me to taste it but I knew that I would need it all for the three dozen cookies so I didn't take a taste.

My friend, Ann, said that the cookies looked fine without frosting but I thought that they needed a little something.  I was going to do a chocolate glaze but that didn't work out as expected so I frosted the cookies.

I was really happy with the final product and my son and father really enjoyed them.  I hope that you try them out and see how much you enjoy them!!  Make sure you check out all the sources for my inspiration including the recipe on the back of the box found here on the Pillsbury website.  There was another one on Let's Dish which added the marshmallow and icing which was the end part of the recipe which you can see here.  I hope that you try your own take on one these cookies and use some holiday candy leftovers to make some tasty cookies.  I promise you won't regret it (except that the cookies might be gone a little too fast).

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Marshmallow Surprise Cookies

(or Peppermint Hot Cocoa Cookies)

      2 boxes Pillsbury Chocolate Peppermint Cookie mix
1/2 cup flour
 2 eggs 
2 sticks of softened or melted butter 
Peppermint bark or chocolate chips (optional)
16 large marshmallows
1 can Plain Frosting 
1/4 tsp Peppermint Extract
Peppermint pieces from cookie mix


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large microwave safe bowl, add two sticks of butter and microwave for 15-30 seconds to     soften or melt.  Add the box of cookie mix and eggs to the bowl and stir until combined.   Add additional flour.  Add peppermint bark or chocolate chips and finish stirring cookie dough.

Form dough into small balls using a cookie scoop or your hands and place on baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly with the bottom of a glass or the palm of your hand.

Bake cookies for 6 minutes, then remove from oven.  While cookies bake, cut marshmallows in half with knife or kitchen scissors.

Place 1/2 a marshmallow, cut side down, in the center of each cookie. Return cookies to oven for another 4-5 minutes, until marshmallows are puffy and just beginning to brown.

Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

While the cookies are cooling, mix 1/4 tsp of peppermint extract into the frosting and add one or two packages to the frosting to taste.  Stir until combined.  When cookies are cool, spread about 1 teaspoon of peppermint frosting over the tops of the marshmallows. 

Got Lots of Books for a Quarter!!!

We headed to the library for a day of fun with my son and grandma (my mom, his grandma).  We got to watch movies based on fairy tales.

I noticed on the way into the program that they had extra books out for sale with their holiday book sale.  While we were watching the movie, I dug around in my wallet and found that I had my summer reading certificates and it gave me $10 in free books!  I was so excited to finally use my summer reading program coupons (especially since they expire December 31st) to get free books at one of my local libraries.  For the above pile, I paid a quarter!!!  I got three for my son, one for me, three magazines for my dad and the rest for my mom.  Super great Christmas present for my parents with only a quarter out of pocket!!! 14 items for $0.25 makes me happy!

How did you get these certificates?  I read a bunch of books this summer and brought back the list to the library and they gave me a coupon to get books later.  Make sure you check on reading programs through libraries because there are some great deals you can get from doing reading that you want to be doing anyway!!!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Month End Coupon Printing and Organization

Can you believe that it is already the end of the month?  I am not sure where the time has gone but that is what the calendar says!  The holidays have a way of stealing time away but hopefully you had a wonderful holiday and still have a few days off work to clean out your coupons because there are always a lot that hit at the end of the year.  Remember to print coupons because some go away at the end of the month....also remember to check back in a few days and see what new ones have appeared!!

Check the following sites:
This is a good time to remind you to clean out all of the expired coupons and put them in the recycle bin!!  I try to remember to clean out my coupon basket but I usually end up going to the store and realizing that so many are expired that I can't find the ones that I am looking for before I get organized.  Make sure that you get cleaned up so that you can find the coupons you need to save money!!  I love to do this a few days before the end of the month to make sure that I don't miss using any that might expire at the end of the month.

Make sure you don't miss printing a coupon!!  Keep this list for next month too because the new coupons are normally loaded at the beginning of the month so it is a great time to go back and check.  Please let me know if there are any other coupon websites that you like to visit and I will gladly add them to the list.  Hope you all had a wonderful month and I look forward to hearing all about it!!!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thrifty Thursday: Pumpkin Seeds

Since I made pumpkin puree, I had a small pile of pumpkin seeds that I decided to roast.  I have made them before and sometimes they turn out great and other times they turn out chewy and yucky so I looked on the internet to find the answer.  There was a recipe on Pioneer Woman which seemed easy and I decided to make them, especially since she linked it to the pumpkin puree recipe and I can take a hint.  I didn't get that many seeds but I figured that I might as well use what I had....isn't that the thrifty way?

The first step was to wash the seeds which I did in the bowl that I was using already because I was too lazy to clean the strainer for such a small project.  I swished them around and got off a lot of the pumpkin gunk.  It would have been much easier in the strainer because then I needed to use my hand to strain the water which was too much of a challenge so I ended up picking up the seeds in my hand and letting the water sift through my fingers.

I put them on a cookie sheet to dry out.  They will start to stick so don't put them on towels or paper towels to dry or they will get stuck.  Every time I went through the kitchen, I gave them a swish around so that they didn't stick to the pan.  I left them overnight because they were still not dry until then.

Do you see the water on the pan?  Luckily, they were the pretty clean.

The next morning, I got out the olive oil and sea salt from the cupboard after piling all of the seeds into the middle of the cookie sheet. Making sure to preheat the oven to 250 degrees since I wanted to pop these in and get them in my lunch box.

I poured the olive oil in the middle of the seeds and moved them around with my hand while the oven was preheating.

They cooked at 250 degrees for a little less than one hour.  I would have cooked them a little longer but that was all the time I had before I had to leave the house.  I poured them right into my container and packed them in my lunch.  They were a great little snack and the salty crunchy flavor was a really nice treat and way more healthy then eating a bag of chips.  I did use a little too much salt because when I made them before, the salt didn't stick but they actually did this time so don't overdo the salt.

I hope that you make these the next time you have a pumpkin whether it is a jack o lantern or for pumpkin puree like I made.  Make sure you dry the seeds completely because I really think that this is the key to the best final product.  They were a tasty treat and I am super glad that I didn't throw them away like I have so many times in the past.  Much more thrifty to use what you have and not have any waste.

I hope that you make the extra effort and try some for yourself soon!!  My little container lasted me two days and they were a great addition to my lunch.  If you want to make your own, check out the recipe below.


Pumpkin Seeds


  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt (or salt of your choice)
  • Any Seasonings You Want (optional)


As you clean out the pumpkin, keep all the seeds (and pulp) in a bowl.  Trash any large chunks of pulp and whatever pumpkin you can clean out by hand.  Put them into a colander and rinse them under cold water, pulling away the chunks of pulp as you go and trashing.

Spread the rinsed seeds out on a baking sheet to dry overnight. Don’t place them on paper towels or towel because they will get stuck when drying.

When they are dry, preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Drizzle the seeds with a couple teaspoons of olive oil.
Use your fingers to toss the seeds around to coat.  Then salt and season the seeds to taste.  Bake for an hour or until the seeds are light golden brown.  Let them cool for a few minutes and eat.  Store in an airtight container if they last beyond the first day.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Kids Math: Elevator Magic Book and activities

Elevator Magic, Level 2 (MathStart Subtracting) (MathStart 2) by Stuart J. Murphy was in my pile of books that was recommended.  I picked it up at the library and was really excited to check it out.

In this book, Ben meets up with his mother and they take the elevator down but they have to make a few stops.  The first stop is the bank which is two floors down so he chose the 8th floor because 10-2= 8.  When they got off the elevator, there was oinking and mooing because it was the Farm Bank and Trust.  My son laughed and I asked him if we had animals at our bank and he said no.  Then, back to the elevator to drop off a package at the Speedway Delivery.  They were on 8 and 3 floors down meant that they had to go to the 5th floor.  There was rumbling and screeching when the elevator opens and there is a race about to start.  After that, they make their next stop at the Hard Rock Candy Store which is only one floor down and he does the math and presses the 4th floor.  There was lots of banging and booming and there was a rock band playing.  Ben got a treat and they were going to meet his dad on the first floor.  They only had three more floors to go.  There was honking and beeping noises from the street and he couldn't wait to tell his dad about all the fun stuff he did.

We really enjoyed the book because it talked about.  My son liked talking about all of the stops that the elevator made and all the fun that the kid had riding the elevator with his mother.  We didn't have any plans to travel to an elevator anytime soon so we did the next best thing, we decided to do an activity at the house.  In the back of the book, there are some other questions and activities that you can do with the book and after reading it.  You can work math into anything like having a snack and asking them if they eat two of them, how many will be left.  There is also a list of other books that you can read that talk about the same concepts in this book including Anno's Counting House by Mitsumasa Anno, or Number One, Number Fun by Kay Chorao or A Bag Full of Pups by Dick Gackenbach.  It is always great to work a few other books into the lesson plan at the same time.

I found a blog that had some activities that she suggested.  If you would like her original forms, please check out her website here.  We decided to do this activity.  My son said that he was on the 10th floor and went down 5 floors to be on the 5th floor because he wanted to go to the bank.  He drew a picture of him getting a lollipop at the bank which is his favorite part.  He wrote some of the words at the bottom and asked me to write some of the others.

 I hope that you check out this book and do a few fun activities like visit a building with elevators so that they can press the button to go up some floors and another to go down some floors.  I don't know about you but I don't have all my errands all in one building so it does take me a little longer to get them done but hopefully their is somewhere that you can travel in the elevator even if it isn't to go to the bank!  Pick this up the next time you are at the library or bookstore.  I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Bones of the Lost Book Review

Bones of the Lost: A Temperance Brennan Novel by Kathy Reichs was on my reserve list at the library for a long time but I moved up the list quickly.  The previous book was on my list and I read it in August (see here for review).  I was excited to get it in and couldn't wait to start but I had to wait until I finished my previous book and wasn't going to be reading mostly at night because sometimes these books are a little creepy to read before bed.

In this book, there are a few Peruvian mummies of dogs that were brought through customs and Tempe had to make sure that they are no human remains so that they can be classified with the antiques but she was continually distracted by a dead teenage girl that was found near a highway.  There is an airline club car for a local business man who died months earlier.  The girl is unclaimed and linked to more questions then answers.  At the same time, Tempe is dealing with her daughter being enlisted in the Army and posted in Afganistan after grieving the death of her boyfriend.  She wants her daughter to check in more often because she is afraid for her safety in the middle of war, especially because she has seen what it does.  Tempe is always working to finalize her divorce from Pete because he is getting remarried.  There is lots of different things going on at the same time in this book and it keeps you interested from the start to the end.

I really liked this book and it was a good mix of interesting story and suspense.  I didn't know where the story was going to lead until it was there because there were so many little clues to put together.  If you like the mix between the suspense and character development, the Kathy Reichs books are a perfect blend.  I had a hard time putting it down but I was disappointed when it was over.  This is really far into the series so I would suggest starting from the beginning to find out about all the characters that lead them to this point but the rest of the story does stand on it's own.  I hope that you check this out at your local library or bookstore soon.  Let me know if you have already read it and what you think!!

Pizza Roll Ups

I got a great deal on some refrigerated Crescent Roll and I was working on doing some different things with them to get creative and use something that I got free after sales and coupons at the store.  I already made my blue cheese crescent rolls so I decided to make some pizza roll ups for dinner because I was looking to use up things that I already had in the house.  I pulled out all of the ingredients from the fridge.  I had some Marinara sauce in the fridge which I needed to use up.  I also had some mini pepperonis that I got my son and the thrill had worn off so he wasn't interested anymore.  Then lastly, I had my block of Mozzarella cheese which I got on super sale for under $2.50 for the block.

I opened the dough which I think we all know how boring this dough looks when it comes straight out of the can.

I rolled them out into the triangles like the can says and I placed them on my baking sheet.

I cut my huge block of cheese and placed them on the triangles towards the bottom or the bigger side.  Not everyone is sitting around with a huge block of mozzarella but you can use string cheese or shredded cheese.  I always suggest using what you have in the house and what you can get the cheapest so feel free to try whatever you can get your hands on.

Then, I put on sauce.  Just a little because I didn't know how much messier that would make it but you can always skip the step and just dip if you prefer but I thought that it would also help me stick the pepperonis to the cheese.

I put the pepperoni on top.  Feel free to use the normal sized pepperoni which you can use whole or cut based on your tastes. You can also put any other topping you like but my son only likes pepperoni so we were looking for something he would eat.

I started to roll up the dough and realized that I didn't have enough dough at the edge because I put my cheese and toppings too close to the edge.  I moved the pile up the dough so that there was some dough at the edge to fold over so here is my helpful tip so that you don't have to do that later in the process but start at the beginning.

Wrap the dough around and if you want to, you can stretch the dough to seal but we wanted it to cook out because the gooey cheese is great!  They looked just like crescent rolls from the top but the side showed the secret inside.

I baked them until they were golden brown which was a little longer then the package directions to cook the rolls.  They came out nice and golden brown.

There were a few that had some spilling out the side which was super tasty and made it taste even more like pizza.  I just used the spatula and put it all on the plate.

Here is what we had for our dinner.  It was super tasty and a special treat.  Sad part is that my husband and I had two each and we probably could have eaten a lot more but we just had it as a little snack before dinner since we weren't sure how much we would like it.  I can tell you that next time I am going to be making a tray full of treats like these!!!

I hope that you try this easy meal sometime soon!! It is a great last minute meal to pull out of the fridge if you don't have a lot of time at home but need dinner on the table and who doesn't like a flaky pizza roll up!

Pizza Roll Ups

Refrigerated Crescent Rolls
Mozzarella Cheese
Pizza Sauce
Pepperoni or other toppings

Roll out the refrigerated dough on a cookie sheet.  Cut mozzarella cheese to fit towards the end but leave a little bit of dough to roll over.  Top with a little bit of spaghetti, pizza or marinara sauce.  Add toppings.  Roll up dough around the toppings.  Bake per the package directions and add a little more time if the dough isn't golden brown.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Menu Plan Monday 12/23

Monday- Baked Potato Soup (organic soup that I got on sale with added potatoes) and bread or rolls
                Whole Chicken with rice and Hawaiian sweet rolls (frozen)

Tuesday- Buffalo and Mango BBQ chicken slidders pm pretzel rolls with chips or fries
                 Tacos with saffron rice and corn bread

Wednesday- Cinnamon Rolls, Egg and Sausage Tortillas, Ham, Sausage, and Pancakes
                     Turkey with stuffing, rolls, mashed potato, cranberry sauce, gravy, veggie

Thursday- Fried Rice and Leftovers
                  Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes

Friday- Turkey and Rice soup (leftover turkey and saffron rice with some carrots and celery from fridge)
             Chicken Apple sausage with Olive Oil Pasta with fried zucchini

Saturday- Leftovers
                 Sweet and Sour Chicken with white rice

Sunday- Leftovers
               Cheese Ravioli with garlic bread

This week is a little out of the ordinary because we are going to have both sides of the family at the house for most of the week so I am planning a menu to serve between 3 and 9 people any day of the week because they are both horrible at planning and I don't know who will be here when. 

I am also planning lunch and dinner and making a bunch of things for breakfast so that people can help themselves.  This helps me from going into a panic when I have 9 people looking to me for lunch.  My husband suggests that I tell them to figure it out themselves but I just can't do it.  First line it lunch and second line is dinner.  On Christmas day, we are going to do a brunch in the morning since we will be doing presents and then dinner early.  I am planning on leftovers as the crowd thins so hopefully we will have enough room in the fridge to fit everything that we want to do for the week but I am trying to at least most of the lunches in the crock pot to make it a little easier for everyone's schedules (especially my own).

I hope that you have a plan if you are having out of town guests.  I know that it makes my life a little less stressful at this time of year which is always helpful.  The back up plan is Chinese food and/or Little Caesars pizza which will both easily serve the whole family without me lifting a finger.  I always need an emergency back up plan.  How about you??

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Weekly Goals 12/22

Another week which seemed to go really quickly and I didn't get anything done.  Okay, I got a lot done but there were a still things that needed to be done every day when I ran out of energy to get them done.  I can't believe that company is going to be here next week and it is already Christmas. I had so many things to do but just didn't have the energy to get them all done.  I have to cut chicken to freeze and wrap Christmas presents tomorrow before my mother in law comes to town.  Plus, clean the house.  I am not sure that I am going to get this all done but there is always hope.  How did your week go??

Last week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with family- We got to spend time together while we waited in line for Santa for over 2 hours and we got lots of family dinners together this week with my son falling asleep a little after dinner.
  • Get to preschool on time every day- It was the last week of school before the two week holiday so my son was excited to get there and do everything that he could while in school.  Santa and a puppet show kept them busy too!  He really enjoyed giving the teachers cards and gifts.
  • Go to Holiday library program- We went to a storytime this week and it seems like it was a million years ago and I couldn't even remember how it went until I looked at the calendar to see what it said.  It was a puppet show with marionettes and a nice little one woman show.  It was a little interesting for my little man because he hadn't seen anything like that before but it was a little dated with a Shirley Temple puppet and some songs from the 60's so it was interesting that the kids stayed interested through some of the older stuff.
  • Go to Playdate at a friends house- We had a great time playing at our friends house and exchanging presents.
  • Go see Santa hopefully- We went to see Santa on Tuesday and was really glad that we made it to see Santa before the rest of the family got in town.  It was a pretty calm event once we all made it there.
Personal Goals
  • Cut coupons- I got all my coupons cut on Friday.  There were three inserts so it took a little bit of time but I was glad to get them all organized and put away.
  • Get coupons on Friday- My husband found my papers for me since I didn't have a chance to get to the store and library to see if they had it because my little guy was a little tired by the end of the errands and I knew that I didn't have another stop before he had a meltdown.
  • Shut off computer 6 nights to save energy- I got the computer off a lot and even shut it off when we left the house this week.  The great news is that my husband changed out the battery so it is able to last a little longer off the cord so that was another exciting update.
  • Cut and freeze chicken- I didn't get it done and put it off every day.  I got everything done
  • Sub at preschool- I subbed two days which put a crimp in getting things done but will be nice when the check comes in :)  Plus the little ones are super cute!
  • Drop off donation at NVFS- I had part of the stuff pulled out since October and finally got the rest of my act together and made it over there.  I knew that it would be a good idea to get stuff out of the guest room before having guests again since I was using the bed to pile them.
  • Get gift cards for teachers from the class- I got the gift cards and made cards from the class to put them inside.  I was really happy to get everything done even though it was last minute waiting for a few people in the class to send stuff in.  I decided on one stop to get them all and that made it pretty easy.  I have one more to get but she is out for a few weeks on disability so I thought that it could wait until I was driving by the restaurant that she liked over the break.
  • Bring in teacher gifts- Brought all of the gifts in to school and my guy handed them all out and was able to get lots of hugs from the teachers.  I did wait until the last day which really isn't my style normally but I was glad to get them all in (except the gift card for the one teacher but I did bring the rest of her stuff before she went out).
  • Go to Jazzercise- Yeah, that didn't happen this week.  I was going to go on Thursday and I woke up feeling horrible and I couldn't breathe so I decided that it wouldn't be a great idea to exercise since I couldn't breathe sitting down.  I was going to try on Saturday morning but I had a lot to do before the cookie exchange so I just decided to pass and get everything done that I needed at home.
  • Clean house for company- Haha!  I didn't get to clean a thing but I am hoping for Sunday cleaning before
  • Go to Cookie Exchange (after making cookies)- I finished my cookies and made it to the cookies exchange which was a lot of fun and I ended up with a ton of great cookies.  It is great timing with family coming into town because I get to make one kind of cookie and serve a bunch of different ones.  I am sure that my company will dig in and enjoy!
  • Finish reading the new Kathy Reichs book- Finished and posted review.
  • Start reading the next book in the pile- I tried to start one of the homeschooling books that I bought but it was really boring so I grabbed one that I got through my blogging for books.  It seems really interesting so you should see the review on that soon.
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 5 days of the week- I cleaned up the kitchen a lot this week and I made just as much of a mess.  I have no idea why there was so much to do in the kitchen but I was getting ready for company.  I didn't get a lot of stuff done but there is still so much to do so I guess we will see how much I get done tomorrow before family arrives.
  • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning- I don't have a clue which night I stood in the kitchen cleaning the dishes all night but my husband fell asleep on the couch again and then I watched the TV in the kitchen to keep myself entertained :)  I felt like I ran the dishwasher a million times and I am not sure why but it was a busy week.
Blog Goals
  • Post one post everyday (schedule 7 posts so that can spend more time with family)- Done
  • Review book reviews completed during the week (if done)- Done
  • Work on a few posts to work ahead for the coming week- I did this one a little but not enough!!
  • Post Sunday Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, Kid Wednesday and Thrifty Thursday Tip- Done
This week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with family and the whole extended family for the holidays
  • Go to movies at the library program
  • Go to Legos at the library
Personal Goals
  • Cut coupons
  • Get coupons on Friday 
  • Shut off computer 6 nights to save energy
  • Cut and freeze chicken
  • Go to Jazzercise (?)
  • Clean house for company
  • Finish reading the Blogging for Books novel
  • Start reading the next book in the pile or on the shelf because I think that I am at the end of the library check outs and with all of the company coming probably not enough time to get to the library :)
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 5 days of the week
  • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning
Blog Goals
  • Post one post everyday (schedule 7 posts so that can spend more time with family)
  • Review book reviews completed during the week (if done)
  • Work on a few posts to work ahead for the coming week
  • Post Sunday Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, Kid Wednesday and Thrifty Thursday Tip 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Roasted Pumpkin to Pumpkin Puree: How to Make Your Own Homemade Pumpkin Puree

I had a pumpkin from my son's school creation which was brought in by one of the other mom's from their pumpkin patch in their yard.  They gave them a bunch of things to glue on like foam pieces and feather so he made his masterpiece.  Then it sat on our porch for Halloween and a little longer until he was over the excitement.  I brought it inside and took off all of the decorations and cleaned the outside off because I had a plan for this pumpkin!!

I wanted to make pumpkin puree.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it but I knew that I had a free pumpkin and I might as well try.  Pretty frugal right?  I looked online and decided to use this recipe from Pioneer Woman.  It seemed easy enough and I had made other of her recipes and she has yet to steer me wrong.

Didn't my pumpkin clean up nice?

I cut the pumpkin's top off and got this.  There was a little bit of a squishy part so I did remove that while cutting because I just wasn't sure whether that was good or not.

I used my favorite knife because it is the only one that I can fight through things this tough to cut and I cut in half just like the Pioneer Woman showed. Easier said then done but push your way through it and change knives if you have to because you need a sturdy blade.

Then, I cleaned out the middle part.  I put the yucky part in the trash and the seeds in a bowl (stay tuned for pumpkin seed recipe).  I just used my hands but you can use a spoon to clean it out better.  I did some more cleaning when I cut the pieces up because it was a little easier to get inside the pumpkin.

Then, I cut the pumpkin halves into quarters or strips depending on what my knife decided.

I roasted it in the oven and they came out looking a lot the same but a little less brightly colored.  I wasn't sure that I did them right or long enough because I expected some huge change and there really wasn't any.  I left them to cool on the counter while I finished a few other things around the kitchen.

Then, I got a phone call and I decided to peel the meat of the pumpkin off the skin.  It was much easier then I thought and I got them all done while talking on the phone.  The skin was hard and easy to pull against.  I ended up with this crispy pile of skins.

I put all of the pumpkin into the blender to mix it together because the pieces were still pretty solid.

This being my first time, I wasn't sure if I needed extra water or not but the pumpkin looked pretty intact and dry so I tried the blender and it really didn't do much.  I added one tablespoon at a time but it took 4 tablespoons before the whole batch would mix up to the puree consistency.  I ended up with a much brighter looking pumpkin then the canned version.  There were still a little stringy pieces which you don't see as often in the store bought kind but I was sure that they would cook right into the bread or pie that I was going to make with this.

I scooped it all out of the blender and put it into a container in the fridge so that I could make my pumpkin item later in the week when I had a little more time.  I wish that I had more pumpkin to show for the end result but I did only make one really small pumpkin which was a little over 1 cup of pumpkin so I used what I needed for pumpkin bread and put the rest in the freezer for later.

I hope that you try this really easy recipe and I am currently waiting for the pumpkin bread to come out of the oven so that I can try it!!!  I am sure it is going to be even more flavorful then the normal loaf and I can't wait to try making this puree when I have a few more pumpkins.

Pumpkin Puree

Whole Small Pumpkins


Select a couple of small (or pie) pumpkins. Cut off the top piece with stem and then cut the pumpkin in half. With hand, spoon or scoop, scrape out the seeds and pulp from the center. You don't have to be too thorough with this.

Place all the seeds into a bowl (you can roast them later and make pumpkin seeds). Repeat until all the pumpkin pieces are largely free of seeds and pulp.

Cut each pumpkin into quarters or whatever is easiest to cut.  Place pumpkin pieces on a baking sheet (face up or face down) and roast in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes, or until pumpkin is fork-tender. They should be nice and light golden brown when done.

Let cool for a little bit.  Peel off the skin from the pumpkin pieces and discard skin. In a food processor or blender, put in the pumpkin meat. If you don't have either, you can mash it up with a potato masher, or move it through a potato ricer, or process it through a food mill.

Pulse the pumpkin until smooth. If it looks too dry (or won't mix in the blender), add in a few tablespoons of water during the pulsing to give it the needed moisture. Add one tablespoon at a time and mix in between.  If the puree is overly watery, you should strain it on cheesecloth or over a fine mesh strainer to get rid of some of the liquid.

Dump the pureed pumpkin into a bowl, and if you have more continue pureeing until all the pumpkin is done.
You can either use this immediately in whatever pumpkin recipe you’d like, store it in the freezer for later use.
To store in the freezer, spoon about 1 cupful of pumpkin into each plastic storage bag. Seal the bag with just a tiny bit of an opening remaining, then use your hands to flatten out the pumpkin inside the bag and push out the air and then seal. Store them in the freezer until you need them.