Sunday, September 30, 2012

Healthy options at IHOP plus #breakfastlove

I must be a bad mother because my boys don't remember every going to an IHOP. Well, I will let them slide since the last night either went they were both pretty young.  Thankfully I remedied that by taking them to IHOP for a healthy breakfast on our way to a recent homeschool field trip.
IHOP now has a healthy options menu for adults and for kids with options including whole wheat pancakes, turkey bacon, and egg substitute. 

whole wheat blueberry crepes
I had to try the blueberry whole wheat crepes if nothing else. For being whole wheat, I really didn't notice that much different. I did notice the filling was over the top sweet, but had kind of expected that. While they were nice, it would have been nicer to have some extra protein with it, such as eggs to balance out the meal. 
The boys ordered of the kids menu.
Cameron is not a breakfast eater, so was happy to find a grilled cheese and fruit available.  Having fruit available as a side is an awesome way to promote healthy eating.

Nathan loves pancakes so he ordered a full on breakfast with scrambled eggs, but also wanted fruit. We ordered a side of fruit and ended up with a HUGE bowl of fruit we all ended up sharing.

Having hot sauce on eggs has become a new favorite thing for Nathan so our waiter brought him the selection. 
So IHOP has all these wonderful new Simple & Fit options featured through out their menu, not just the wonderful whole wheat blueberry crepes. IHOP joined forces with Quaker Brand oatmeal to create amazing flavors of Oatmeal including Super Fruit Oatmeal, oh my goodness, it looked heavenly, I'll be trying that next time for sure.
Now if your mouth is watering for some amazing Simple & Fit options under 1,00 calories many under 700 calories, do I have a surprise for you, an IHOP $50.00 giftcard for one of my readers.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Scripture Sunday 9/30/12

This week I am blessed by the weekly lesson, especially this verse:

Isaiah 45:22

22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth:
for I am God, and there is none else.

Freezer meals, to precook or not

This is something I have thinking about.
I recently prepared 13 meals for freezing and cooking in the crock pot, but now I am wondering, should I pre-cook before freezing them, or continue freezing and cooking them after the fact.
So far I've cooked 2 freezer meals on the BBQ, 3 in the crockpot, and 2 in the oven.
There are pros and cons for both making the decision that much harder. The biggest pro for not cooked is saving space in the freezer because they are in gallon freezer bags.
The other pro is the cost of freezer bags is a lot less than baking pans.
The biggest pro for precooking is time saving on the day I serve it.

What are your thoughts, do you precook or just freeze?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Wine or Not?

I recently atended a series of talks on fermentation in McMinnville.
Friday afternoon I  received a small package of water kefir grains from one of the speakers. I was grateful for the gift and to meet another homeschooler in the community.

I made my first batch of juice as soon as I got home.
I used organic sugar, fresh ginger, lemons, and homemade raisins. I was surprised how easy it was to put together and how quickly it brewed.  It took 18 hours to brew on the counter  for the first batch. The second batch pictured here is brewing faster, partially I think because I added an extra lemon slice and there was more kefir grains. I didn't realize they would multiply so quickly. I think my third batch will end up being in a half gallon instead of the quart.

I decided to do a secondary ferment on part of the batch with some of my grape juice from last season. I let it brew for another 12 hours and then poured a glass before dinner while I was writing a couple of posts for our homeschool blog. There is very little alcohol content (I suppose I should test it to find out the exact percentage, but not tonight). Tonight I am going to just enjoy the drink and enjoy my homemade sauerkraut with campfire hot dogs.

I am enjoying this new adventure and will continue to share as I find new goodies to create.

Scripture Sunday 9/23

I have so many verses this week, but will share just a few.
Psalms 119: 90 NKJV Your faithfulness endures to all generations.

Psalms 119: 142 NKJV Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness.

1 Corinthians 2:9 KJV ... Eye hath not seen nor ear heard neither hath entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

I pray you have a blessed week.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Traditional pickling or Lacto fermentation?

I was blessed to attend a local day of talks about Fermenting.  Since this is new to me, I decided to share my experiences with you. I am by no means an expert, I’m just learning and experimenting to see what will work for my family.

So far I have a jar of saurkraut, a jar of kimchi, and a jar of leeks fermenting in the pantry.


The leeks have a weight holding them down so I wrapped a towel and rubber band around them. The saurkraut is almost done maybe another 2 or 3 days before I move it into the refrigerator.  The kimchi is new today so I am guessing a couple of weeks.  I am very interested in the natural advantages to lacto fermenting as well as the cost savings in that I don’t have to process it, just store it.

I also started a small batch of milk kefir that I am excited to try for breakfast smoothie on Monday.  The next on my fermentation bucket list is kombucha and I will hopefully have a batch going tomorrow night.

I still have traditional pickles in the pantry and will continue to process some of our food stores in the traditional manner like the Dilly Beans and Salsa.



So while I explore lacto fermentation, I’m not totally abandoning my traditional methods.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Harvest Season part 2 Homemade broth saves money

We recently purchased a half a beef from one of my husband's customers. We split that half into 1/3 and 2/3 and shared it with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. So I know have a freezer stocked with beef. Lots of ground beef in 2lb packages, steaks 3 to a package as the boys share 1, roasts in a variety, and misc stew meat, and soup bones.  We ended up paying about $3.00 lb for the beef which worked out to be a good deal especially since the ground beef is very lean.  How does that fit into the harvest season? Well, the beef was ready the beginning of August just like the beginning of the harvest season.
Now what are we going to do with all of this?
So far I have made spaghetti sauce only once,  hamburgers several times on the BBQ,  taco casserole, homemade sausage and hamburger jerky. 
We had a wonderful Italian pot roast last night with fresh garden veggies simmered with Italian Seasoning.  
Before I made the roast though, I made a batch of Beef Broth. I have mentioned making broth on our Facebook page before and thought this would be a perfect opportunity to share how I do it.
I LOVE using broth for rice, veggies, pasta, soup, etc. I don't love the price or the sodium content.

I started with 1 package of soup bones (neck bones this time) and my crock pot.
I added  1/2 glove elephant garlic, 1/2 sweet onion, 1 bay leaf, and 1 Tablespoon of salt to the crock-pot and filled it with water (3 1/2 qts) turned it on high and walked away.
I cooked it all day Sunday (from 1:30 until 7:30) and then turned it onto the "keep warm" setting over night as I didn't want to deal with it that late Sunday evening.

Monday morning I skimmed the fat off the top and put it into pint jars.
7 pint jars of strained broth into the pressure cooker.  Refer to you canning/ preserving books for guide (pressure and time can vary)

Now I have 7 pints of beef broth ready for soups, rice, pasta, veggies, etc...

I have been known to buy some broth in cans when I find an amazing sale (usually with coupons during Thanksgiving) but beef is always more expensive. This way I have it ready and it didn't cost nearly what it would have otherwise.

Do you use your own broth? How do you save it?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Harvest Season part 1

Harvest season is here in a BIG way this year.
Our garden is blessing us, our friends' gardens are blessing us,my parents' garden is blessing us,  and our local gleaners group is blessing us.
Yes I used the word blessing four times. Truly the harvest is a blessing.
So far this year we have harvested and put up: cherries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cauliflower, brocolli, kale, corn, greenbeans, apples, and peaches.
On the coming list cabbage, leeks, garlic, squash, pears, more corn, more cauliflower, more broccoli, more kale, and hopefully beets, and root vegetables.

What do I do with all these things?
Can, freeze, and dry them.

I steamed apples for juice. Round 1 on the steamer gave me 4 qts of juice and 5 qts of applesauce as I ran the cooked apples through the Folly Food Mill after the fact so we didn't waste anything.
I added a teaspoon of honey and 1/2 a teaspoon of citric acid for a preservative to each jar.
I still have 8 gallons of apples to juice, dry, and freeze so there will be more to come. I am also hoping for a few more varieties later in the season.

I purged the pantry in late July to get ready for the harvest and took my 18 qts of tomatoes from last year (that is what I had left) and slow cooked them in my electric roasting pan with some italian seasoning for a basic spaghetti sauce. I ended up with 11 freezer containers (a little larger than a pint) ready to go. Now I have the top shelf of my pantry ready for other goodies and I have 11 package of sauce in the freezer ready to add meat , veggies, and past to.

I purchased 4 boxes of peaches (22lbs each) through our gleaners group. I have been putting them in qt and pint jars. I cut them in half, pitting them and stuffed them in the jars. I used a combination of citric acid and honey and water for each jar. We ended up with 13 qts and 7 pints of peaches so far. I am also drying some for snacks and flash freezing the rest for smoothies. I am still planning on at least 1 batch of jam and 2 pies before all is said and done with the peaches.

Later this week I will post more of the harvest season. Kale, veggies, pickles, pears, and organizing it all.


Cleaning up, on the blog that is

Over the last few months I have wanted to clean things up on the blog a bit, so this weekend I did.
I switched to just 1 sidebar and the footer (still tweaking on that a little). I love my header and blog button and decided to keep a variation on the header the Danielle did last year for me. I added the tabs back to the page top rather than the header and made the blog post space a little larger, I wanted to show off the food pictures so needed a larger post space.
I am working on adding a few new pages over the coming weeks to help sort the posts a bit for everyone. I am thinking of a tab for reviews, scripture, PR/ media kit, about us, recipes, and frugal living. The idea that my readers all come from different seasons in their lives and I want you to be feel like you can find what you are looking for quick and easy.

Hope you have a great week