Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Menu Plan Wednesday

I have many a recipe to post from past menus.  We had the Chicken Cordon Bleu from a crock pot last night.  It was okay.  I am still trying to debate if I would make this again.  I think I would totally have to have all the things on hand and probably would not go out of my way to make it again.  I don't know.  The jury is still out.

Husband will be happy this week as there is a bit of red meat in this week's menu.

  • Spaghetti, veggies, bread
  • Tacos
  • Italian Meatloaf, veggies, pasta? (it was a serving suggestion, but I am not so sure)
  • Hamburgers
  • Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps
  • Bourbon Chicken over a rice & veggie mix

Sunday evening will be filled with leftovers, quesadillas, or hot dogs. Pretty simple this week.  I am hoping over the long weekend to finally get more green chile sauce made (we ate all the rest!), make up a couple of extra Italian Meatloaves for the freezer, and a couple of trays of Pioneer Woman's Chicken Spaghetti.  I need to get some prep stuff done in the next couple of days so we can just rock it out.  We'll see.

What are you having for dinner this week? 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Whew...What a Weekend!

I knew well in advance that this weekend was going to be packed full of fun, work, and celebration which in turn would probably wipe us all out... in a good way.  It worth it all.  I learned a few things which is always good but it didn't take away from all that was going on around us.

Friday, Husband and I celebrated five years of marriage!  Amazing.  He is my best friend and there is no one else that I would rather be doing life with.  Yeah, I am not even sure that words can adequately express all that he means to me.  I was a little concerned in the morning that I wouldn't be up for our evening out as I had a severe headache that was causing a disturbance in my sight as well.  Miss L understand when I say, "Momma is sick."  I think Miss A clued in that something was wrong and was pretty content on her own most of the morning.  Miss L kissed my head, gave me her dog and elephant to cuddle with, and put a blanket on me to make me feel better.  Sweet girls.  I was doing better by lunch time and was good to go by late afternoon.  I was doing all I could to make sure we made it to our reservations at The Melting Pot.  It was a delightful time in our private booth partaking in the goodness that is fondue.  It turned into a long night with Miss L awake when we got home -- she had to go potty -- and then having a hard time going back to sleep.  Such is life.

Saturday, Miss A turned one!  I spent the day getting a small cake ready for her to tear through and cupcakes for everyone else.  I spent a lot of time in the morning baking, prepping frosting, and decorating.  My pregnant feet and back were shouting at me from time to time so I tried to sit at a table to decorate, etc.  I should have done this earlier in the week but I was unsure as to where to store things and for how long.  It worked out fine in the end.  It just made for a tired mama.  Grandparents arrived not too long after the girls woke up from their afternoon naps.  We opted to do gifts at this point.  She was SO funny.  She was kind of liking the paper but once we got the first toy out (an elephant shape sorter) she just wanted to play with it!  She was so intrigued!  However, Miss L was more than happy to help with the presents and show Miss A how everything worked.  We had dinner (chicken nuggets with mac & cheese) and then brought out the cake as we were nearing bed time.  It was such a fun time watching Miss A dig into the cake!  I'm pretty sure she would have been fine to play in it all night.  After a good 10 to 15 minutes of playing in and eating (some) cake we put her in the shower which she also thought was great fun.  We are still finding cake bits in her high chair and Husband found some cake I missed in the shower.  So funny.  The day ended by both girls zonking out from all the stimulation and laughing.  It was also a fun day watching Miss L learn more about birthdays and sharing the limelight with her sister.  She's ready for her birthday!

Sunday.  Miss L loves Sunday.  She knows that is when we go to church and she loves going to church.  I love how excited she gets.  This Sunday was a big day in the life of our household as we were joining as members after being "church-home-less" for a little over a year.  What a sweet day, indeed.  Of course, as Murphy's Law goes Miss L and Miss A had some small issues here and there during the service.  Laughable that it's Monday!  But really, nothing too big.  Littles being littles.  We are so thankful to be a part of a congregation again that values children in all stages being in the worship service.  A sweet moment during communion was when Miss L looked up and said (without being prompted), "Jesus died me" -- Jesus died for me.  Yes, I cried.  After church the congregation was having a monthly gathering at a deacon's home.  As we were leaving for the party Miss L says, "Church fun, Daddy."  Sweet girl.  We weren't sure how long we would stay at the party with the girls being so close to nap time and all.  We just went into the whole thing understanding they may be cranky and we may need to leave early.  The girls did great.  Miss L swam with Daddy and I hung out inside with Miss A -- and about 50+ other people!  We left around 2:30.  Both girls fell asleep on the way home... Miss A well before Miss L.  We got them both in the house and settled in for naps.  Husband and I snoozed for a bit as well... you know, until about 5:00!  We had a nice quite evening and the girls, for the most part, were ready to go back to bed around seven.

It's a pretty down day around here today.  Some laundry, dishes, food prep for the week, etc.  We probably won't get out of pajamas until later.  I'll post pictures of Miss A's cake in another post.

Blessings to you all!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Freezer Meals: Keeping Inventory

Obviously you have seen that I have quite a few things planned to go in my freezer over the next few months.  How in the world will I remember what is in there with a newborn and two other littles in want of my attention -- which I am sure will take up all the remaining sleep deprived brain cells.  (It's only for a short and precious season)  Also, we want to make sure we use things up in a timely manner and not find some lone meal  hanging out a year later.  No, no, no.

I am not sure where I came across this originally but I thought it would work for me beautifully!  Just write down the name of the item and the appropriate number of hash marks.  Then when you take on out you complete the "x" to note that one has been used.  I will slip this into a sheet protector and tape it to the top of my freezer.  Handy, handy!  You can download this Freezer Inventory free here.

I have read about people just using a dry erase marker to write on the top or on the door of their freezer with their inventory list.  However, my freezer is in my laundry room and naturally attracts things that are constantly placed upon it.  That would quickly be the end of my inventory list!  I already have my laundry list taped in a similar fashion to the top and that has been great.  What's one more list?

How do you manage the inventory of your freezer?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Menu Plan Wednesday

It's been awhile since I have done one of these.  Mostly because my menus, in essence, have been fly by the seat of my pants.  Also, the menu was at the mercy of how I was feeling from day to day.  Cooked vegetables are still a nemesis and so there has been a slight suffering nutritionally in that area.  It makes me sad.  So, I am trying to remedy that and kind of just suck it up.

I don't usually put days of the week to go with the meals but this week we are going to because certain meals this week need to go on certain days.  Some are flexible and others are not.  This gets us to the end of the month!  YAHOO!

  • Wednesday - Chicken, Spinach, Alfredo Pockets
  • Thursday - BBQ Chicken & Corn (Crockpot Meal)
  • Friday - Hot Dogs & Veggie Fries (only the girls will be having this, Husband & I are going out to celebrate!)
  • Saturday - Chicken Nuggets, Veggies, Mac & Cheese (Miss A's Birthday Dinner and of course cake)
  • Sunday - Leftovers, Sandwiches (It's a big day for our household and I am pretty sure we will be wiped out!)
  • Monday - Hashbrown Crusted Quiche with Bacon & Biscuits
  • Tuesday - Ham & Cheese Sliders with Veggie Fries
  • Wednesday - Chicken Cordon Bleu (Crockpot), Broccoli, Red Potatoes  

What are you having this week?  I know you want to share your recipes!  FYI:  At least 4 of these meals came from Pinterest.  Thank you!

Freezer Meals: Update

This month has been full of a variety of changes.  Miss L is now potty trained so we have a few less diapers to change and purchase.  Miss A is in the process of being weaned from formula and the bottle.  So, less formula to purchase for a few months and then a break from washing bottles for a few months.  I have also gone back to cloth diapers on Miss A almost full time so as to build up that part of our budget.  Good times.  We also have an anniversary to celebrate this weekend and a birthday.  So, while I wanted to get more meals in the freezer this month I am satisfied with what we did get done.

I changed "My Chile" to two batches rather than three.  If I get another batch in that's fine.  If not it is SUPER easy to make on a whim.  In my had written notes I had it down to make three trays of Husband's Lasagna.  However, when I transposed them here I had it as two trays.  It worked out that I purchased supplies for three and we just ate one for dinner that night as it was a lot of work along with all the other things we had going on that day.  It was good stuff.  Also, it was nice not to have to cook more after that adventure.

One of my dear friends who is also expecting a baby in a few weeks told me about a deal she found at Costco.  She bought a package of 30 half steam trays that would be used for catering purposes.  Well, wouldn't you know they are the same size as most casserole dishes!  Score.  For 30 trays was just over $6.  They take up a bit more space in the freezer but I love not having to clean up much when using them.  I looked at the individual trays at the grocery store and even on sale they run about $2/tray.  Totally worth the savings even if you don't use them all you can store them away for a potluck or taking a meal to another family.  While these are pretty heavy duty always use a cookie tray when cooking or transporting.  Just in case.  I learned the hard way when taking a meal to a new mama in a lower quality tray.  Oy.

So, here's my list.  Hopefully, more will be crossed off by the end of September.  I post this now because I know that more will not be done by the end of this month with another full weekend ahead of us.  I have found some more sites with yummy meals.  More may be added to this list.

Husband's Lasagna x 2
Italian Meatloaf x 2
My Chile x 2
Veggie Chile x 3
Ren's Chocolate Muffins x 2 (has good stuff like pumpkin, flax, etc -- it's not ALL sugar)
Chicken Pot Pie x 2
Fiesta Chicken x 2
Fiesta Chicken (Green Version) x 2
Spaghetti Sauce x 3 or 4
Spinach & Artichoke Mac & Cheese x 2
Green Chile Enchiladas x 3 (or more at the request of Husband)
Spaghetti Pizza x 2
Turkey & Vegetable Meatloaf x 2
Meatballs (not sure how many yet)
Brown Bag Burritos x 1 (makes 20-ish)
Chicken Spaghetti (Pioneer Woman) x 2
Pulled Pork x 1 (more if meat comes on sale again)
Breakfast Burritos x 1 (will probably make more - cranks out about 16)
Chicken & Rice (Quinoa) Burritos x 1 (makes about 8?)
Baked Ziti x 2
BBQ Beef & Bean Corn Bread Casserole x 2
Bacon, Egg, Cheese Biscuit Cups x 1
Ham & Cheese Pockets x 1
Sausage Biscuits x 1
Twice Cooked Mashed Potatoes x 2
Cranberry Chicken x 2
Broccoli & Cheddar Soup x 2
Healthy Mama BBQ Chicken x 2
Lactation Cookies x LOTS!

From Costco:
Ravioli (will probably give us three meals)
Fish (will probably make fish tacos a few times)
Chicken nuggets (easy lunch for the girls)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mayoral (Hopeful) Meeting

On Saturday, we all headed out to cast our vote for our city's next mayor.  Yes, some early voting places were open on a weekend.  Yes, they should just combine it with other elections to improve voter turn out and lower overall cost -- but obviously the country's fifth largest city hasn't clued into this common sense.  However, the candidate that we voted for has clued into this.  YES!

We heard good things from our candidate on the radio and then watched the debate.  While he didn't start out as the most poised speaker I thought that he came into his own by the end of the debate.  We were still confident that he was the man for the job.  While anything would be better than current administration this man would be MUCH better for our city.

Anyway... that was a bit of a tangent.

When we were approaching our voting place we encountered a man.  Husband recognized him right away and called him by name.  I had never met a political candidate before.  It was more exciting that it happened to be the person that we were voting for in this election.  Husband shook his hand and introduced me.  At that point W.G. looked at Miss L and asked her name.  She went right up to him and shook his hand.  (Proud mama moment!)  He asked he how old she was -- at this point she has never been really consistent in answering this questions -- she promptly said two and held up the appropriate number of fingers. (Proud mama moment!)  So, W.G. chatted with us some and with Miss L until she pointed out that he had blue eyes as did her sister.  It was a humorous conclusion to say the least.

We walked in and did our civic duty.  Miss L all of a sudden wanted to see the "baby" which meant trying to expose my tummy.  Ummmm... thanks!  HA!  She put my envelope in the box and all was good to go.

As we were leaving Miss L caught sight of W.G. and pulled Daddy along with her to talk to him again.  I appreciated that he found her so entertaining and worth talking to.  He got down on her level and they had their own little conversation again.  At the end of the conversation W.G. gave Miss L his sticker off his shirt.  She was SO excited.  Why?  Because it was a BIG sticker... at least in her world.  She took off her "small" sticker and gave it to Daddy.  She was a pretty happy girl.


Needless to say she spoke about the encounter all day.  She mentioned it a few times Sunday.  She cannot say his last name very well but I can generally figure out the "g" and "t" sounds and put it all together when she randomly references W.G.

We hope W.G. makes it to the run off and is ultimately elected to office.  However, beyond his political stance we found him to be a very kind man.  Someone that we would most likely be friends with in every day life and would love to have as a neighbor.

Yes, so that was our brush with political fun.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bright Spots

Moments that I want to remember of my girls right now.  Things that I will most likely forget by next week and will feel bad for not remembering.  I need to cherish these little things.

Miss L

  • Trying to do the cha-cha with Angelina Ballerina. "1, 2 cha-cha - 2, 2 cha- cha"  I hope to get a video.
  • Hugging and tickling her sister without being prompted.
  • Trying to help set the table with an enthusiastic and happy heart.
  • Not wearing diapers
  • Wanting Daddy to chase her and the giggles that ensue

Miss A

  • All of a sudden catching on to how the sippy cup works (we are weaning in a couple of weeks!)
  • Following her sister everywhere.
  • Learning how to take some steps with the toy grocery cart and being so excited about it.
  • Sleeping with Baby Moose.
  • Belly laughs when people take a deep breath like they are going to blow really hard, or when Miss L blows on the harmonica.
The laughter that floats down the hallway while I finish making dinner and my three favorite people are having a tickle fest on our bed or playing in the fresh laundry.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Green Chile Sauce

Well, I am making some progress in my freezer meals.  One goal that I mentioned was to make a whole bunch of green chile sauce.  We have had quite a bit of chile in our freezer waiting to be used.  I have been hesitant to use it much because it is way too hot for little mouths.  Sometimes I can barely handle it!  However, Husband and Papa think it's perfect.  A couple of weeks ago I chopped up a lot of green chile and had some stock that I had just made from a left over turkey carcass.  So, I just started making as much sauce as I could as that is ultimately how we end up using it.  Eventually, I ran out of stock and onions about the same time but the chile is still in abundance.  Unfortunately, the sauce is too hot to make enchiladas for the whole family to make.  I may make a tray for Husband to use as lunches when the baby comes.  For now Husband and I eat it on our eggs just about every morning and sometimes out chicken at dinner.

I hope to crank some more sauce out this weekend along with three trays of Husband's yummy lasagna.  We'll see.  Some of the meal prep has been put on hold recently since we were potty training, etc.  This weekend could be interesting as we are supposed to go vote (they have limited voting areas for this particular election) and just other weekend goings on.  I have lofty goals.  HA!

Funny thing, it is now green chile harvest season in New Mexico and it is popping up (finally) in all the stores around here.  Few will actually roast it for you.  It's the best smell ever!  Of course, Husband wants to stock up again.  We will see.  Maybe some more mild ones will yield a sauce that the girls can eat.  That would be lovely.

Anyway, here is the recipe that I use.  It is from Cocinas de New Mexico (Kitchens of New Mexico).  Oddly enough it is published by PNM which is the gas service company of New Mexico.  Oh well.  It has some pretty great traditional recipes from NM which in my world is awesome!

Chile Verde (Green Chile Sauce)

Yield:  Approx. 2 cups
Cooking Time:  20 minutes
Freezes Well

1 T shortening (I used EVOO)
1/2 C chopped onion
2 T flour
1 C chopped green chile*
1 C chicken broth** (I generally use about 1/2 C more as this recipe makes a thick sauce and we like it a bit more... well... saucy!)
1/4 t garlic powder
3/4 t salt

*varied amounts may be used
**Two cups tomatoes with liquid may be substitued

Heat shortening in a medium skillet on medium heat.  Saute the chopped onion in shortening.  Add flour and cook for 1 minute.  Add all remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes. (Cover if you want to retain a saucy sauce, leave open if you want it thicker with less sauce)

When I make a multiple batches I just do the whole process in a stock pot.  It's great for one pot cooking!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Potty Training - Days 2 through 6

I think that days two and three are a bit of a blur.  In a nutshell, I really wanted to quit and go back to diapers.  However, everything in me was telling me that Miss L was indeed ready to learn how to use the potty.  It was very hard to keep up the super-positive attitude when my child was yelling at me and just not happy.  However, we were seeing small victories in her staying dry overnight, during nap (except once), and generally making it to the potty about every other time.

The perk to the method that we are using is that there is a help desk where you can ask as many questions as you like and you always have access to the questions and answers in your thread.  So, you can access them if you need them for future children, etc.  We used this once.  If anything, it was just the encouragement we needed to keep going.  We needed to do something to get her to go more.  I had not done a good job in figuring this out with Miss L.  Husband, on the other hand, found a way on Day 3 and at the time we didn't really care what it entailed.  Miss L loves certain chips and will do just about anything to get them.  For each chip she had to take three sips of beverage.  It worked!  Granted, it basically ruined dinner but we didn't care at that point either.  We were starting to see small glimmers of hope as Miss L was a little less dramatic about sitting on the potty.

Day 4 I stayed home from church with the girls.  I bribed her once again with certain things that she liked to get her to drink so as to afford us more learning opportunities.  It was a hit and miss again as to if we made it to the potty.  But we were getting there.  Still she has amazing bladder control and would just hold it in forever.  In the evening I read an e-mail from a dear friend detailing how she does a trial run to see if her kiddos are ready.  I capitalized on a moment that evening to add a part in to what we were doing.  I took "Mama Moose" through the whole rigormarole and asked if she could do the same thing.  "Yes, Mama!"  Well, she took the moose through it rather than doing it herself.  Quick, think fast!  "Can you show Baby Moose how you do it?"  After talking through it all she finally did it with very little drama.   We were a bit more hopeful by the end of this day.

Day 5 was amazing!  No accidents!  We began the day again with the moose as a reminder which was fine.   I finally had to reel in my little girl and some of her tantrums and let her  know that I was the Mama and she just needed to do as I asked.  That seemed to click with her (most of the time.)  No drama sitting on the potty and she would just go once she sat down.  Since then she is quick to tell me if she needs to go and she knows that even though she may not have to go if we are heading out of the house or just waking up we need to at least try.  Surprise, surprise (not really) she generally needs to go.

Day 6 (today) was the big test as far as I was concerned as we had a standing appointment to make.  <big deep breath>  I asked her to go before we went but nothing.  Okay, no big deal.  At the end of our appointment Miss L was asked if she needed to use the potty to which she responded yes.  Okay!  Now I was wondering how this was going to fly without the potty seat we had at home.  After a bit of drama I got her on the potty facing backward, told her to just put her pee-pee in the potty and voila... she went!  I was SO.PROUD.  I almost cried in the bathroom because I was so proud of Miss L.  No.  For real.

BM's have been another story and we had our first small success this afternoon which was awesome.  She totally gets being dirty and tells us if she has the accident even if it happens at night.  But we made it to the potty this afternoon so I am hoping this leads to good things in the coming days.

All this to say is that I did and do appreciate the model we chose to use.  I like that it's pretty short term instead of unforeseeable long term stuff.  I am not sure that Miss L would have been ready at 22 months as this method claims.  However, we may give it a go with Miss A this time next year.  We'll see.  It's an intense time but it has been worth it all.  I would recommend the method to others with the caveat that something may need to be added or changed for your particular child or household.  However, I do think that it is a good method in general.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Potty Training - Day 1

It's a big week around here.  Miss L is learning to use the big girl potty!

If you didn't know there are about as many methods and philosophies on how to potty train your child as there are on parenting.  Oh my.  Thankfully, awhile back a friend of mine inquired of her Facebook friends about potty training methods.  I just watched the conversation unfold.  There was one particular method that caught my attention.  The Official 3 Day Potty Training by Lora Jensen. I read through the website and waited until we were a little more ready to take the plunge.  Then on Mother's Day this year she offered a discount on her e-book and I bought it.  It was almost half off! It was a really refreshing take on things.  Plus, I am a such a method girl that she just broke it down in "here's what you do next" type of terms.  Jensen also offers personal support once you have purchased the book for trouble shooting.  It's intense but we are hoping to be done so we can make it to church on Sunday.  But there is grace if it takes a fourth day.

So, we had one accident so far and thankfully it was on the tile.  HA!  My dad is here to help with Miss A so I can pay full attention to Miss L.  Which means I probably need to be done with this post, too.  Lunch needs to be made and liquids to be consumed!  We'll see how the next couple of days go.

Has anyone else used this method?  Or do you have a favorite method?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Team Pink

Yep.  Baby #3 is a girl!

It will take us awhile to come up with a name.  :)

We had taken a gender test early on and it said boy so we weren't quite expecting to hear little girl.  We are totally excited, though!

She's breech right now which always makes me a little nervous since Miss L was breech.  My doctor knows that I will be watching this like a hawk and will want to work on making sure she's head down soon rather than later.  So, you can be praying that she turns so I have a better chance at a second VBAC.  This helps us to plan a little more for a variety of things so that is nice.  I am excited that even the ultrasound tech though that I would be back to see her because I am notorious for having babies a bit early.  Which means more peaks at Baby Girl!  YAY!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Toad Frog

Yes, I know that it's actually Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel but this is what sweet Miss L calls it these days and it is by far her favorite book.  Well, let me clarify, she likes Frog and Toad in general but loves one particular story titled, Cookies.


When she is getting ready to go take a nap or go to bed she always asks for "Toad Frog."  Then if you ask her which story she wants to read (it's better to just pick one really) she always says, "Cookie."

What's funny about the whole thing is that she knows where certain words belong in the story.  If I pause to let her fill in the blank, she does.  But seriously, what 2 1/2 year old knows the phrase "will power?"  She's all over it and thankfully the story does an okay job in explaining what it means.  It's pretty funny to hear her say the phrase and then be seriously disappointed when they give all the cookies to the birds -- you know, in order to have LOTS of will power of course.  It's one of those slap your hand on the head type deals and she looks like, "They did what?!?!"  So, funny.  However, all seems to be redeemed when Toad decides to make a cake.  I guess in her world cake trumps cookies.  Let me assure you though, she won't turn down a cookie.  Although, recently she just likes saying the word "pie" so I am guessing she just like dessert.  ha!

I'm doomed.  I hate pie (unless it's chocolate, pumpkin, or a small slice of pecan) and it seems as though my family loves it.  Husband keeps egging me on to make one and now he's turning the young ones on me.

Doomed, I tell ya, doomed!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pulled Pork with Spice Rub

Well, I am starting to work on some of the "simple" meals in my Freezer Meal plan in order to crank out as many as possible.  Part of me just wants to do it all at once the other part of me doesn't want to do it at all.  But I have to take into consideration time, budget, and the fact that we still need to eat other things.  So, we will take small steps so as not to overwhelm me or my family.

I did the pulled pork first because it required minimal hands on attention from me.  I found a website that recommended a spice rub.  Honestly, I have never done a spice rub on anything before.  I will say, I will be looking for more because this was AWE.SOME.  I didn't have the cayenne pepper but I don't think I was any worse for the wear in not having it.  However, I was a little perplexed that I didn't have any and added it to the spice list.

I will say that I was wishing that this was what was for dinner that night rather than the chicken that was already in the oven.  I set aside some for Husband to have for lunch in a BBQ sandwich.  I was a little envious of his lunch today.  HA!

The recipe called for bone in pork shoulder.  Well, I had a smaller tenderloin that I got on super sale and used that.  I also halved the recipe because I had far less meat to cover.  So, my ultimate measurements were semi-estimates.  I didn't have liquid smoke so I just used the water -- plus, some people have a love or hate relationship with the stuff.  I personally do not care one way or the other.  I froze my meat without the BBQ sauce so I have the flexibility to use for BBQ sandwiches or some other meal.  YAY!!

It is a little spicy and I wonder how my girls will react but I think with other flavors they will be just fine.  So, if you have super sensitive kiddos you may want to cut back on the spicier things.  But overall.... YUMMMM!!

(And of course, I neglected to get a photo of the final product.  Let me assure you it was beautiful!)

Pulled Pork (From The Way the Cookie Crumbles)
(for sandwiches, tacos, pork fried rice, or whatever)

Spice Rub: (from Cooks Illustrated)

1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons table salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground white pepper

1 (6-8 pound) bone-in pork shoulder
½ teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
2 cups barbecue sauce

1. Mix all spice rub ingredients in small bowl.

2. Massage spice rub into meat. Wrap tightly in double layer of plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (For stronger flavor, the roast can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

3. Unwrap roast and place it in slow cooker liner. Add liquid smoke, if using, and ¼ cup water. Turn slow
cooker to low and cook for 8-10 hours, until meat is fork-tender.

4. Transfer roast to cutting board; discard liquid in liner. “Pull” by tearing meat into thin shreds with two forks or your fingers. Discard fat.

5. Place shredded meat back in slow cooker liner; toss with 1 cup barbecue sauce, and heat on low for 30-60 minutes, until hot. Serve with additional barbecue sauce.

Let me know if you try this or if you have a spice rub that I should try!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lactation Bars

These have, by far, created the most buzz from my Freezer Meal Plan.  There are a few comments alluding to it but I have also received several e-mails about them and what they are exactly.  I think I mentioned something to my mother-in-law about seeing them advertised in specialty bakeries for some ridiculous price.  Something like $40 a dozen! (The more I looked it seemed to be the going rate)  My sweet MIL looked online and found a couple of recipes for lactation bars and finally settled on Mama Jeeper's Lactation Bars.  Basically, they are a yummy snack that help promote milk production.  How?  They are chocked full of things that have been known to help with milk production -- flax, Brewer's yeast, oats, etc.  This is helpful to someone (ME) who has a hard time eating a whole bowl of oatmeal of any kind (which is supposed to help with milk production as well).  It's suggested to eat 4 or so a day.  Note you may have to share these with children and husbands. :)  While I have extreme issues with milk production these helped some.  Others swear by them.  I like that they are an easy snack during the ravenous time of nursing that can actually help the issue.  Some people have complained about the extra calories -- I don't worry about too much when nursing. Worry about weight loss, etc after nursing.  Although, some people (not me) tend to lose a ton of weight anyway while nursing.  No, I'm not jealous.  ;)  (Can you say tangent?)

A friend mentioned giving these to new mama's as gifts.  I think that is a lovely idea!  I mention this below but I would suggest this as well for gift giving, wrap them individually and let them know they freeze well if needed.

Mama Jeeper's Oatmeal Lactation Breakfast Bars 
2 c. butter, Crisco, or margarine (can mix and match to equal 2 c.) (I'm all for the butter and not that other stuff)
1 c. granulated sugar
2 c. packed brown sugar
4 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. wheat germ
1/4 c. brewer's yeast (not baking yeast or what's used for brewing beer) or nutritional yeast powder  (use 1/2 Cup)
1/4 c. flax meal (or whole flaxseed milled fine in a coffee grinder) (use 1/2 Cup)
4 c. oatmeal (old fashioned, or as thick-cut as you can find) (We used Steel Cut Oats)
1 bag mini semi sweet chocolate chips 
1 c. nuts (optional)

Cream butter and sugars well, then add eggs and vanilla. Beat until well blended. Mix all dry ingredients (except for oats, chips, and nuts) in separate bowl. Combine the wet and dry ingredients all at once, stirring as well as possible by hand. Mix with beaters until smooth. Add oats and chips (and nuts, if desired), and stir until well blended. Divide dough into five parts.

Line a 10 X 7 cookie sheet (with shallow sides, like a jellyroll pan) with foil. Spray foil with nonstick spray. Spread 1/5 of the dough into the foil-lined pan and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

When done, simply lift out foil to remove the bars. Place another piece of foil into the pan and spray for the next batch. Allow to cool at least slightly before cutting each pan of bars into eighths.

Makes 40 bars 

The dough freezes well so you can make a bunch up and then bake later.  Just thaw dough in fridge and then let warm up a little out of the fridge before putting in the pan.  The final bars freeze well, too.  However, I would recommend wrapping them individually to help keep them fresh when they are being used.  But that is just my preference and it makes them easy to pick up on the way out the door.

I read that someone put a vegan spin on these which if you are creative enough you can totally do.  She mentioned using Mother's Milk Tea as the "wet" part of baking-- which would be another good way to add lactation helping goodness.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Freezer Meals: The Plan

Well, we are gearing up to get ready for baby around here.  There are things that we will need to purchase this time around.  Basically, we will need to get another crib because Miss A will not be ready to move out of her crib when #3 arrives.  That's the biggie... oh... you know... and moving the girls into one room.  That should prove to be entertaining!  HA!

I am planning to make a whole lot of meals to fill our freezer.  We have some things already in there that are being stocked up.  Okay... one meal and some dough for lactation cookies.  However, I am trying to figure out what we need and start cranking things out so I am not waiting until the last minute when I will be large, tired, in the midst of Advent, Miss L's Birthday, and Christmas planning.  I am also trying to find the balance where it won't be in the freezer too long either.  However, now that I think about it I think we are in a good place with that now.

For this week I am working on making some chicken and turkey stock, green chile sauce with all the green chile we have in our freezer, and some pulled pork for sandwiches.  The stock will be an ongoing process as I use chickens for other meals, etc.

So, here's my long term plan... ambitious?  Not enough??

Husband's Lasagna x 2
Italian Meatloaf x 2
My Chile x 3
Veggie Chile x 3
Ren's Chocolate Muffins x 2 (has good stuff like pumpkin, flax, etc -- it's not ALL sugar)
Chicken Pot Pie x 2
Fiesta Chicken x 2
Fiesta Chicken (Green Version) x 2
Spaghetti Sauce x 3 or 4
Spinach & Artichoke Mac & Cheese x 2
Green Chile Enchiladas x 3 (or more at the request of Husband)
Spaghetti Pizza x 2
Turkey & Vegetable Meatloaf x 2
Meatballs (not sure how many yet)
Brown Bag Burritos x 1 (makes 20-ish)
Chicken Spaghetti (Pioneer Woman) x 2
Pulled Pork x 1 (more if meat comes on sale again)
Breakfast Burritos x 1 (will probably make more - cranks out about 16)
Chicken & Rice (Quinoa) Burritos x 1 (makes about 8?)
Baked Ziti x 2
BBQ Beef & Bean Corn Bread Casserole x 2
Bacon, Egg, Cheese Biscuit Cups x 1
Ham & Cheese Pockets x 1
Sausage Biscuits x 1
Twice Cooked Mashed Potatoes x 2
Cranberry Chicken x 2
Broccoli & Cheddar Soup x 2
Healthy Mama BBQ Chicken x 2
Lactation Cookies x LOTS!

From Costco:
Ravioli (will probably give us three meals)
Fish (will probably make fish tacos a few times)
Chicken nuggets (easy lunch for the girls)

My plan is to buy three turkeys around Thanksgiving.  One for the celebration meal and then the other two hopefully we will cook as soon as possible and just store the meat for whatever.

I will post recipes as I move through them and adjust them.  I am also looking into the best way to post them here.  I continue to find more recipes so I will add them here as I add them to my master plan.

Do you have a recipe I should add to my list?