AsylumMom

Life on the inside. I've been sentenced 18 years to life and The Wardens are doing their best to drive me even crazier.

Rough Week! B’s Real Name is “Clark Kent”

First, y’all should know that cooking from scratch was the clear winner of the “Pick Your Topic” post, and I will do it, however, this past week was a little different and I didn’t do near enough cooking to do the post.

This post will be over something that has been ruling our world this past week. About a month ago, B was diagnosed with autism. It’s a mild case but it has its struggles. We are learning about what this means for us. We are having to change some things. We are having to plan a lot of new things, like speech therapy. This past week, we have had our eyes opened to another issue that can often come with autism: SPD. Sensory Processing Disorder can come in many forms, and for us it’s proprioceptive. My son is a crasher, a lifter, a jumper… He is Clark Kent in a two year old’s body. He NEEDS the feeling of lifting or moving heavy objects, the sensations of climbing up to high places, the feeling he gets when he suddenly hits the ground (or a pillow) after jumping off of something. All of these sensations help calm his nervous system, which is what is out of control. He can’t process “normal” feelings so he needs the extremes. Living with this has made our lives very complicated. On a daily basis we have to deal with furniture being moved or turned over, objects being climbed on and jumped from, off-limit zones being constantly intruded upon, and the fear the one day, one of B’s moments of sensory input will cause Row to get injured.

We’ve been dealing with these habits for quite some time, but only recently have I come to the conclusion of SPD after looking at autism and some of its problems. We are currently looking for safe activities and sensory clothing (weighted vest and backpacks, heavy blankets, pressure clothing) to help calm him. But until then, we have had to screw all of our furniture to the walls or floors to prevent any accidental injuries. I want people to understand that THIS IS REAL. He’s not “just being a boy” and it is VERY hard to live with.

When you take this desire for pure destruction, add in my son’s genetic strength and his inability to communicate properly, then you are left with very frustrating daily lives. I will keep you up to date as we walk this road but for now, we are just learning to deal with it and make our home safe. Here are some photos of what is my daily life.

Disclaimer: I DO NOT condone or encourage any of this behavior, I take photos for evidence because no one believes me and because I’m not worried about his safety. He has impeccable balance and I get him down immediately after I take the photos. I do, however, make sure it’s not immediately dangerous before I take the pictures. There are many incidences without photo because I needed to act IMMEDIATELY. This is my life. And B is only 2.5. Also, please excuse my messy house and his nudity. He doesn’t like diapers.

20130805-185640.jpg

20130805-185848.jpg

20130805-185918.jpg

20130805-185954.jpg

But then he has to go and be absolutely adorable with the hat he just HAD to wear even though it was 90+ degrees outside. I love this kid, even when I don’t know what to do with him. He certainly keeps life interesting. And my love for The Wardens is the only thing that stops me from going completely insane when they suddenly decide to literally shred their mattress. The only thing.

20130805-190541.jpg

Next-Morning Update: As I was writing this post, B slammed Row’s hand in their bedroom door. I had to stop editing so we could take him to the ER to make sure it wasn’t broken. Luckily, no bones were broken, however, it did burst one of his blood vessels. So now he has a club hand where we ace-bandaged a cooling gel pack to his hand. He kept pulling at the bandage so we put one of his favorite socks over it. Now he has learned to use his club-hand as a weapon for revenge and is chasing B around the house, whacking him with it. If it weren’t so cute and if B didn’t find it so funny, I’d make Row stop. But for now, they’re happy. So I am, too.

20130806-090359.jpg

Advertisements

Pick a Topic!

Happy Monday everyone! (Not)

So, this week I have a few ideas on topics, which one do you want to hear about? Maybe I will find time to do two, even! Let me know!

Autism – a scary word for most parents, relief for me. (Potential for a guest post!)

Babywearing versus strollers – some of the more obvious differences

Cooking from scratch – is it REALLY cheaper?

Escaping reality – what books have I read lately that help me get away?

Bad baby, Good baby – a look at babies and why the differences in their personalities don’t matter!

Let me know what you want to read about this week! You don’t have to give your opinions on any of the topics just yet, wait for the post! ūüôā

In the mean time, enjoy this picture of B with my Father-in-Law working on Dad’s truck!

20130729-190705.jpg

Animal

This is a little tid-bit post for the night! So, in my spare time, I like to write-

-HA! Spare time, like I have any of THAT.

Okay, in reality, I do a lot of thinking while I’m doing dishes, and with my habit of constantly baking and cooking, I do a lot of dishes. Some days I think about hot celebrity men, my favorite tv shows, and clothes I wish I could afford to buy… But other days, I think about things with a little more ground. Maybe it’s because someone said something that irked me and I feel like retaliating or maybe I read something profound. Either way, about a week ago, I had one of those days and decided to actually write out what I thought. I titled it, posted it on fb, and moved on.

Okay, you got me again, I didn’t move on! I anxiously awaited the replies of people, hoping I’d said something that touched someone. So what if I like the idea of changing someone’s life, that’s not unreasonable is it? (Is it?)

But what I got instead wasn’t going to touch someone else, it touched ME. An old friend of mine took it upon himself to give my musings a voice… and it was beautiful. It really did mean a great deal to me to actually hear the words with that level of emotion. Below is a screenshot of the conversation following his recording.

20130724-222714.jpg

Josh, I do thank you for what you gave me.

Here is what I wrote as well as a link to the recording of Josh’s reading of it. Please enjoy and give me any thoughts.

ANIMAL

You, incapable of seeing the suffering of others beyond your own kinship of mind, with even the thickness of blood not sufficient enough to render your accusations null, cannot possibly comprehend the thousands of incidences of pain and choice lived through by every other being around you. You, who chooses so easily to cast aside all value outside your own, who so quickly passes judgment on souls you’ve never been so blessed to know, cannot ever receive the privilege of loving an undeserving life. Oh! What a joy it is to feel compassion for a life that would take yours without guilt! How freeing it is to know that your choices are not hindered by the heaviness of a hatred unbridled! You, who live in those shackles of darkened emotion, cannot fully understand what it is to walk in lighted paths. While there are times for disrupt and unkempt hearts, for without darkness the light would not shine so bright, I much prefer to live a life in the sun with my heart soothed and my mind softened by joy’s gentle hand. How I wish I could lead you, hand in hand like a child, to a place where your hatred would suddenly crack and spill open, revealing a small and broken flower to which could be tended until stable enough to love on its own. How I wish I could, but hatred so strong grows chains in the earth of your soul, choking the broken flower until it is all but a shell, a shadow of the child you once were. You were not born to hate, no, a child is born knowing only how to love and wishing only to be loved in return. Eyes wide and shining, he ventures fourth into the world, one wobbly leg at a time, and reaches for the joy in others. No, you are not born to hate. You are taught. There are fortunate few who escape the torture of surrounding souls attempting to snatch the light from within them. As if the light of a child’s heart is offensive to the darkness in their own, as if they must dim it some to be able to keep company, and it is far easier to smother a single light than it is to try and match the brightness. Those fortunate few that have escaped such torture have been blessed with a source of light so strong that it can never be extinguished. Oh, but how I wish it could be shared! Alas, I am limited to merely show it to you and hope that you do not recoil in disgust. But I have shone brightly in my own right and you have recoiled. Revealing your nature while taking care to attempt and convince me of my wrong doing. It is your actions that are wrong. For how can loving another be wrong? It is your walls that you built, caging yourself, that is the abomination. Only animals live in cages. And you have made an animal of yourself.

http://vocaroo.com/i/s0b2gpF8qoOz

Please take the time to listen to the audio version. It brings the emotions I felt while writing this to life. If you don’t hear anything, be patient, it has a few seconds of silence before he begins reading.

The Very Best Peach Crumble Pie with Caramel Whiskey Sauce

20130724-115422.jpg

My poor dilapidated blog will be making a comeback! (Again?) starting with this amazing recipe! Do you like peach cobbler? Do you like whiskey? How about honey or dark brown sugar? Do you like pie? Well, welcome to heaven! Last Saturday I went grocery shopping and decided to check out a farmers market and surprised myself with a bunch of fresh peaches intending to make a cobbler! But after a while, I started to go another direction, thinking I’d like to add whiskey, then caramel, and make it a pie, but crunchy… My brain went around and around like that until I finally landed on a crumbly pie with a sauce. ūüôā I do have a favorite whiskey that this recipe was built on. Fresh peaches and whiskey were the founding stones of this pie and everything else was just designed to encase them in the best way possible. I apologize in advance for the photo quality here, my camera was dead and I didn’t realize it until I got started! So I just used my phone. ūüėõ Bust first, a shot of the lovely whiskey!

20130724-113956.jpg

Now, for the recipe!

For my pie crust, I used a recipe for a super flaky crust that I found here at completelydelicious.com, however, where the recipe calls for vodka, I used my honey whiskey instead. I was determined to squeeze that honey flavor in anywhere I could!

For my filling, I created my own recipe after looking over too many recipes that weren’t what I wanted.

Ingredients for the crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose Gold Medal flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1/2 cup buttermilk, cold
1-2 tablespoons water, cold
1 large egg, beaten, for the egg wash
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on top of pie

Ingredients for the peaches and sauce
6-10 large, ripe, fresh peaches (I prefer more peaches for a fuller pie, use 6 for basic, 10 for fuller)
1/2 C lemon juice
1+ C of American Honey Whiskey (71proof)
2 C packed dark brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 C whipping cream
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Ingredients for the crumble
3/4 C all purpose flour
3/4 C brown sugar (dark or light, your choice)
1 stick unsalted butter, slightly salted
1 C old fashioned oats

You want to assemble the crust first! Once you reach the part of the recipe that calls for chilling for an hour, that is where you will begin to assemble to pie fillings! The instructions below are copied and pasted from the website, so remember the changes I made! Replace the vodka (or water) with whiskey!

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add the cubed butter and toss to coat. Dump the mixture out onto a clean surface and use a rolling pin to roll the butter into thin sheets, combining it with the flour. Use a bench scraper to scrape the rolling pin and to bring the mixture back into a pile as necessary. Continue until all of the butter is incorporated into the flour. Mixture will be very flaky. Return mixture to the bowl and place in the freezer for 15 minutes to chill the butter.

Remove from freezer and add the buttermilk. Use a spoon and then your hands to stir the mixture until it comes together into a ball. If mixture is too dry, add the water a tablespoon at a time. Divide the dough in two and flatten into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

When ready to roll out, let the dough rest at room temperature for five minutes. On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a rough 13 inch circle. Dough should be about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer dough to pie dish. Fill pie with peach filling. Repeat with the second disk of dough. Cut dough to form the covering of your pie in the design that you wish.

Now that the crust is chilling you will want to begin assembling the fillings for the pie. First, rinse the peaches well. Cut each in half and peel the halves, removing the core. After they are peeled, slice the peaches into thin slices and place in a large tub. Pour the lemon juice and about 2-3 tbsp of whiskey over the peaches. Add cold water until the peaches are just covered. Set this aside while you prepare the sauce.

20130724-114332.jpg

In a large pot, pour 1C of whiskey and turn to med-hi heat. Bring the whiskey up to just before boiling, where a few bubbles are forming on the bottom, add in 1/2 C of the brown sugar, whisking constantly. When the mixture starts to foam and bubble, start adding in 3 tbsp of butter, 1 tbsp at a time, allowing each to melt inbetween additions. Continue to whisk. Now add 1 more cup of the brown sugar and whisk! The sugar with foam furiously, whisking will keep it under control. After the sugar is dissolved, turn the heat to med and continue to gently whisk and stir for another 10 min. Now, slowly add 1 C of whipping cream, whisking it in until it is all an even color. Turn heat to med-low and let sit for 5 min, stirring occasionally.

While the sauce is resting, strain the peaches. You want to lightly press them and move them around as to get as much of the lemon water off of them as possible. Once they are strained, add them into the sauce, stirring lightly to coat them all. Bring the peaches up to a med-hi heat. Add in the last 1/2 C of brown sugar, 2 tbsp of butter, and the nutmeg, stirring lightly until it is all dissolved and mixed well. Slowly allow the mixture to come to a slight boil then reduce the heat to low and let stew, uncovered, for 10 minutes gently stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and allow mixture to rest while you prepare the crumble.

20130724-114441.jpg

For the crumble, combine the flour and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Cut butter into flour and sugar mixture until crumbly. I used a fork to help break it all up! Now, use your hands and add in the oats until combined and you have a nice, evenly crumbly mixture!

Now that the peaches have settle, strain the sauce into a separate bowl, pressing peaches until all the sauce is out. Set sauce aside (it’s liquid heaven!!!) and allow peaches to stay in strainer, I placed it back over the now cooled pot so any left over sauce could drip out on its own.

At this point, I was ready to remove my pie crusts from the fridge and roll them out, following the instructions from the recipe above. Follow the link to her post for detailed photos of each step. It helped me a lot to have the photos for reference!

Once the pie crust is rolled into the pan, you are ready to assemble the pie! At this point, set your oven to 350F to preheat. This picks a layered pie. Starting with a layer of the crumble. Make sure you coat the entire bottom! No gaps!

20130724-114639.jpg

Then you add the strained peaches…

20130724-114722.jpg

Resist the urge to snack on them! Next, add almost all of the crumble, leaving about 1/4 cup (or less) for sprinkling on top of the pie for decoration.

20130724-114823.jpg

Sorry for the blurry photo! I was using my phone :P. next, you will take 1 1/2 cups of the caramel whiskey sauce and drizzle it over the crumble. Take the last 2 tbsp of your stick of butter from the sauce recipe, and cut it into little cubes to place all over the crumble.

20130724-114905.jpg

Next, I rolled out my remaining ball of pie crust and using a pastry cutter, cut out little hearts for my top layer of crust. You can do whatever design you like! Most peach pies traditionally have a lattice design, but I’m hopeless with those so I went another route ūüėČ

20130724-114944.jpg

Now, you will coat the crust dough with an egg wash (per the instructions from the pie recipe) and then sprinkle the remaining crumble on top for decoration!

20130724-115024.jpg

Now pop that baby in the oven! Let it bake for 40 minutes or until the crust is a deep amber brown. Don’t go golden! Golden isn’t done enough! This is a dark recipe with dark sugars! You want to let it bake until it reaches that secret spot where sugars seem to caramalize and darken and let out bits of heaven! ūüôā but, while it’s baking, take all that left over sauce and can it! You will want to pour some over each slice of pie you eat! But it makes a lot, so can it because it makes a great ice cream sauce too! Use it how you wish or just drink some of it (not that I did that or anything……)

20130724-115239.jpg

Heaven in a jar right there.
Now that the pie is done, stare at it while it cools a little! It needs to cool for about 30 minutes so it all settles. Trust me, it will still be plenty warm for a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream, but if you cut into right away, it won’t hold it’s form and you will have bits squishing out everywhere! Marvel at the glorious pie that you made! Marvel at it!

20130724-115348.jpg

20130724-115803.jpg

MIA – An Explanation(Well, An Excuse)

Hello everyone! I’m so sorry I just dropped off the edge like that. I got incredibly sick and it came with a migraine. I still have it but I felt too guilty. I’ve been avoiding technology to save my eyes the strain. The Wardens don’t understand migraines so they have been screaming and crying away! Insanity, here I come!
Here’s what has happened since I went missing:
1) We got our tax return!
2) Dad and I each purchased one personal item. He got a steal on his dream truck (a 1958 Chevy Apache that he plans to remodel) and I got my very own iPad! Yay! Now I can blog-on-the-go.
3) I got sick (as I mentioned) and I’m still sick. It’s awful. That’s all on that subject.
4) Because I got sick, I’ve been sticking to easy or backup meals so you aren’t losing out on any recipes from the meal planning.
5) Along side my new iPad, my new phone will be here Friday. A birthday present from my family (thank you everyone!) I’m excited to have all my new technology!! But alas, that is all I have for you today. I have to stay away from the screens for a while. They make my migraine worse. So, I bid you ado.

Shopping Results and What to do The First Day – Month Under $300

I’m finally here! I know I’m late but I can finally take the time to write up this post. And prepare yourself, it’s going to be a doozy.

To start things off, my shopping trip yesterday. I have included my receipts below and I know the totals are higher than expected, but let me remind you, this bit is about¬†groceries. My receipt includes other¬†household¬†needs (like dish soap and toilet paper). Therefore, I have marked out the things that weren’t groceries but left the prices. Below each picture I will put how much I spent on food or food related items and then will give you my total. Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I forgot to get the receipt for the gas but I spend $63.00. This amount would bring my total cost slightly above $300 for the day, but, it was well worth it.

First, I went to Walmart.

Walmart, trip one: $208.53

These trips costs also include the cost of formula for Row, and some snack items for B. Such as hot dog weenies, a box of packaged animal crackers, a box of packaged fruit snacks, and some Nutella to trick them into eating breakfast. There are also some extra veggies and fruits there to make baby food with. Those things weren’t on my shopping list from my previous post but I needed them for The Wardens. My total will still be under $300.

Sam’s, trip two: $66.09

After deducting the unrelated items, I added the two together to get a total of:

$274.62!

 

Now the fun part can begin!

After you get home with your groceries and you have taken the thirty minutes (or more if you have stairs or are alone) it takes to lug it all into your house, you can start putting things away or setting them aside. My trip lasted late yesterday so I simply put my meats on the bottom shelf of my fridge until morning. I put away the things that were already frozen and the dry or other cold goods. This morning, I got up and got ready to take care of the longest and most complicated day of this process. I promise the other days aren’t nearly this difficult!

A quick look at my tiny pantry trying to look organized without busting at the seams:

Teeny-tiny pantry

Teeny-tiny pantry

First, I got ready to¬†separate¬†and pre-prep the beef related meals. The bag meals for the Teriyaki Chicken and the Stew can be found in a link in yesterday’s post. I don’t have to explain those here. And you can scroll past the part where she talks about the shopping lists and such, we took care of that part already.

The other beef things called for certain amounts of beef per recipe. Because I want to save money, I buy my beef in the largest packages I can. Which just so happen to be 5lb rolls.

10lbs of beef

10lbs of beef

So, in order to get the meat I needed, I made a short list on a scrap piece of paper to take to the kitchen with me.

4lb – Goulash

2lb – Shepherd’s Pie

2lb – Spaghetti

2lb- Meatballs

Then I grab a sharpie, some gallon size freezer bags, plastic wrap, and get ready to go. (I use plastic wrap and plastic bags for several reasons; you can re-use the bags later, the wrap makes it easier to separate the meat, and double wrapping prevent freezer burn.)

First you need to label your bags. I only used three and labeled one “Goulash-4lb”, another with “Shepherd’s Pie-2lb and Spaghetti-2lb”, and the third with “Swedish¬†Meatballs-2lb”

Because I plan on prepping the meatballs, I don’t care how the meat is. And because I want to keep my beef easy to package, I want to others to stay in rolls. This means that I cut about 1lb (don’t worry about being exact! Just guess about a fifth of the roll) off of the end of one roll to create my 4lb package for my Goulash. Wrap that is plastic wrap and toss it in your labeled bag. Make sure to squeeze the air out. It’s easy, just roll it!

4lbs for Goulash!

Next, you take the other roll and do the same to the end of it! That gives us our second pound for the meatballs and leaves us with 4lbs. Now cut that in half. Wrap each of those rolls and put them in your Shepherd’s Pie/Spaghetti Bag. Easy-peasy!

The two 1lb ends for the meatballs.

The two 1lb ends for the meatballs.

Easy-peasy!

Easy-peasy!

Then comes the fun part. Take the two 1lb ends and dump them in a large bowl. Throw in some seasoning (whatever you like), some bread crumbs if you want, an egg, and anything else you think you might like.

It's not an exact science!

It’s not an exact science!

Then, mix it all up until it’s nice and even. I used my hands. (Yes, they were clean, I wash them before and after every handling because meat is¬†slimey.) You can use a spoon if you like but I’m from the south and here, cooking is hands on. Once it’s mixed well like this…

…we can start making our meatballs.

Meatballs! Meatballs!

Meatballs! Meatballs!

And yes, I used my hands for those, too. They aren’t perfectly round because I didn’t measure or use an ice-cream scooper. Just use your hands! It will all be fine! When we are done with this, we can put them in their own bag and place them in the freezer! Make sure to lay them flat first so they don’t get squished. But once they are frozen you can move them. When I’m ready to cook with them, since this recipe has been doubled, I can just break off half and thaw them and use the other half when I’m ready!

Freeze flat!

Freeze flat!

Finally! We can clean up our mess from the beef. Make sure you clean everything really well because we are working with the chicken next. However, because chicken is SO NASTY (in my opinion), I just got in and got out. I didn’t stop to wash my hands just to take a picture. So, unfortunately, I only have an end result for you. However, I will explain how I got there.

Once again, I made a list of what I needed for each bag.

4 breasts – Teriyaki

6-8 breasts – Spanish Chicken

6 chopped fine – Quesadillas

4 chopped – Alfredo

And once again, label the bags. I only used 4 bags (two for each of the Teriyaki and Spanish chicken) and used plastic containers for the chopped ones. You can go to the previous post for the Teriyaki recipe. The Spanish Chicken recipe is also in a link in the previous post, however, I made it a freezer meal so here is what I did:

First, I trimmed the breasts of any extra fat. Then I placed them flat in the bag (4 in each). I then poured the enchilada sauce, taco seasoning, and about a half a cup of shredded cheese¬†per bag. After that, I added in a half a can of drained and rinsed black beans to each bag and a half a can of whole kernel corn to each because I had some spare in my pantry. When I’m ready to cook it, I will thaw it about halfway and then dump it into my stew pot and cook on a medium heat while stirring (and adding a little water as needed) until almost fully cooked and then will turn the heat to low and allow it to sit until the chicken is easy to shred. This will then be served with soft tortillas and Spanish rice! (You can use your crock pot, this was originally a crock pot recipe. I don’t have a crock pot anymore/at the moment so I use a stew pot. Because I’m home all day, it’s fine. I just stir it more often.)

After that is done we can trim and chop the other breasts for the last two meals. Here are the end result containers of chopped chicken. Notice the two together are a darker color and chopped finer. This is because I seasoned them with cumin and paprika and a little season salt because they are going into my quesadillas and we like our tex-mex spicy in my house. The other container is for chicken alfredo, though, and therefore was seasoned much more lightly and chopped into larger pieces.

Tex-Mex Style

Tex-Mex Style

For the Alfredo

For the Alfredo

 

Whew! Finally! I can put this all away and go do something else! I had dinner with family tonight so I didn’t actually cook which means no recipe tonight, darlings. But, alas, I fear you might gladly accept that! A recipe added to all this mess would just be entirely too much. Tomorrow I have church and then possible lunch with Dad’s family that may even turn into dinner. If it’s late at night ¬†before you hear from me again then you can bet it was a good day. But I WILL¬†post again. I have to give my weekly roundup and weekend recap!

So until then, goodnight!

 

Menu, Shopping List, and Some Information – One Month of Food Under $300

The way I start my plan for the coming month is I sit down and make a list of meals that my family often likes or that anyone requests. After I have my list, I go through and weed out any that may require some special or random ingredient that could be more expensive, unless I have a reason for that certain meal (like company). I end up with list of meals that looks something like this: (P.S. this is my actual menu for the month of February)

1) Texas Goulash ‚Äď x2&Freeze (4)

4lb ground beef, 4 cans of corn, 4 cans ranch style beans, 4 boxes mac-n-cheese, 2 cans rotel.

2) Chicken Spaghetti ‚Äď x2&Freeze (4)

1 whole chicken(or 6-8 chicken breasts), 2 can cream of chicken, 1 small box velveeta, 2 cans rotel, spaghetti noodles shredded cheese

3) Stew ‚Äď Freezer Bag (2)

1 green bell pepper, 2 onions, 2 cans corn, 1 bag baby carrots, minced garlic, 3 lbs beef stew meat, 2 6oz can tomato paste, paprika (noodles)

4) Teriyaki Chicken ‚Äď Freezer Bag (2)

1 bag baby carrots, 1 red onion, minced garlic, 4 chicken breasts, 1 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce (served with rice)

5) Spanish Chicken ‚Äďx2 Freezer Bag (4)

6-8 chicken breasts, 2 cans enchilada sauce, 1 bag taco seasoning, shredded cheese (served with tortillas and Spanish rice)

6) Shepherd‚Äôs Pie ‚Äď x2&Freeze (4)

2lb ground beef, 2 cans green beans, 2 cans corn, 1lb potatoes, 2 cans ranch style beans, shredded cheese

7) Swedish Meatballs ‚Äď Pre-prep Meat (2)

1lb ground beef, 2 cans mushroom soup, 1/2lb potatoes

8) Spaghetti ‚Äď x2 for lunch (2)

2lb ground beef, spaghetti noodles, 2 jars spaghetti sauce

9) Quesadillas ‚Äď x2&Pre-prep Meat (2)

6 chicken breasts, 1 can rotel, 1 can cream of chicken, shredded cheese, tortillas

10) Chicken Alfredo ‚Äď Pre-prep Meat (2)

4 chicken breasts, noodles, 1 jar alfredo sauce

11) CrockPot Corn Chowder ‚Äď x2&Freeze (4)

6-8 potatoes ,1 Can cream corn, 1 Can whole kernel corn, 2 Cups chicken broth, 4 chicken breasts, 1 onion, 1/4 Cups butter, 2 cups half and half

12) Frozen Pizza ‚Äď 2 (2)

13) Chicken Strips ‚Äď David‚Äôs (10)

I know that looks a little daunting but I will decode it in a moment. First, I need to give you some links! A few of these recipes have come from other blogs.

The Stew and Teriyaki Chicken come from the Melissa Fallis Test Kitchen where I tried all 5 of the recipes last month. The only one I personally didn’t like was the BBQ chicken. I’m only using two this month but they were really good and she gives amazingly detailed¬†instructions!

The Spanish Chicken was something I stumbled upon on pinterest and I have hopes of adapting it to a freeze and dump meal just like the Stew and Teriyaki Chicken. The link is from a blog called “Healthy Food”. It doesn’t really show a recipe, but like I said, I’m just going to wing this one. I cook with chicken a lot so I’m sure this will be pretty easy to pull off.

Finally, the Crock Pot Corn Chowder was another I found on pinterest (most of my newer recipes are) and I haven’t tried it yet. This one is entirely new to me so be prepared for updated comments after I make it! The recipe comes from a website called “CrockinGirls” and since it’s something new, I haven’t yet explored their site, but the food looks great so I have high hopes!

Now, to decode my list (that is, if you haven’t figured it out already). I’ll use an example below:

2) Chicken Spaghetti ‚Äď x2&Freeze (4)

1 whole chicken(or 6-8 chicken breasts), 2 can cream of chicken, 1 small box velveeta, 2 cans rotel, spaghetti noodles shredded cheese

On top, where it says “x2&freeze”- that’s where what I mentioned yesterday comes in. This simply means that I double the recipe and freeze half. Simple enough right? Now the number out to the side means how many meals this will last my family¬†total. Therefor, My chicken spaghetti will have half in the oven and half in the freezer. When I pull the one out of the oven, Dad, myself, and B will all eat it for supper(and Row will share with me because he doesn’t eat very much). Then, it will get covered, and reheated as lunch the next day. Totaling 2 meals (Supper and Lunch) from 1/2 of the recipe. The second half will be the same way when I decide to use it again. Am I making sense? Ok. After that is pretty self¬†explanatory¬† It’s how I compile my shopping list! I write out what I need to make the meal below each one so that when I’m ready to make my list I don’t have to try and remember everything, I just count it up!

After I have completed that step, I take a break. Ha! Seriously though, it makes your hand hurt! When I’m done with my break, I count everything up and make my shopping list. It’s¬†really long but don’t let it scare you, remember, it is going to last me the¬†entire month. And to make it as clear as possible, I mean I don’t ever go back for “something fresh” or whatever. I will have everything I need for every recipe. I don’t put spices down in my list unless I know for sure that I don’t have it and if the recipe calls for a lot or if it’s vital. Many spices I just fake with what I have because the recipe is still good if I use “Italian Season Blend” instead of “fresh cilantro” and “fresh basil”. I promise. It’s fine. In my grocery list below, I actually have quite a few of the ingredients on hand and therefor they won’t be on my¬†receipt¬†tomorrow, but I’m putting them on this list for you anyway.

Item #
ground beef 9lb
canned corn 10
ranch style beans 6
mac-n-cheese 4
rotel 5
whole chicken 1
cream of chicken 3
velveeta 1
shredded cheese 3
green bell pepper 1
onions 5
bags baby carrots 3
minced garlic 1
beef stew meat 3lb
6oz tomato paste 2
paprika 1
chicken breasts 26-28
teriyaki sauce 1
rice 2
canned enchilada sauce 2
bag taco seasoning 1
large soft tortillas 20
spanish rice 2
frozen green beans 1
potatoes 3lb
cream of mushroom 2
spaghetti noodles 2
spaghetti sauce 2
penne noodles 1
alfredo sauce 2
cream corn 2
chicken broth box 1
stick butter 1
half and half 4
Digorno frozen pizza 2
box of frozen chicken strips 1

I am cheating a little with the last two items. Those are for lunches on days when things are busy or Sunday dinners because we are often not home until late on Sundays. But I promise, it’s not going to hurt my budget! Also, I need to add that there are more things on my actual shopping list but they aren’t relevant to this segment about the cooking. They are just household items everyone needs. I will be “editing” my¬†receipt¬†to exclude those items from my total tomorrow, however, I will be including my cost in gas, just to prove that this one trip is well worth it.

Also, yes, you saw that correctly, I’m buying 9 lbs of ground beef and nearly 30 individual chicken breasts. These are things I often buy in bulk at Sam’s and I¬†separate¬†and¬†freeze¬†them at home. Because I like to do a lot of my meat prep¬†before I freeze it, this works just fine for me. For instance, in my menu you will see next to “Chicken Alfredo” that it says “pre-prep meat”. This simply means that I will take the chicken breasts, clean and trim them, then dice them to size for the recipe and put them in a bag or container, then I will season them with a few things before I freeze them. This means that when I am ready to cook, I can thaw it out in the fridge over night and dump it right into the pan without ever having to actually touch the meat more than once. I¬†hate handling chicken so I like cooking like this much better.

 

Okay. Now for the shopping trip.

As I mentioned yesterday, I get a babysitter for this, and yes, it is absolutely necessary. I have two kids under the age of two and I’m going shopping for a month’s worth of food. I’ve tried to take them before. It was a disaster. It took me nearly five hours and by the end of it Row was screaming at me and B was trying to eat all the packaged food. There was not enough room for both of them in the cart so I had to carry Row with one arm while using to other to¬†simultaneously¬†push the cart, grab items, and keep B out of the products. So, I repeat,¬†Babysitter.¬†After I drop The Wardens off with their grandparents, I load my cooler up in the back of my suburban (we have a really large cooler and I still don’t have enough room sometimes), fill up with gas and off I go! Once I get where I’m going I make two stops. I usually shop at Walmart and Sam’s. (Please don’t judge me for this! They are my best options where I am.) I go to Walmart first, since the majority of my Sam’s purchase is usually cold or frozen. I use a shopping list app on my phone (ShopListFree for iPhone) that sorts my grocery list into categories. This makes it easier once I’m in the store to know where I need to go and to get everything in one trip without walking around like a chicken with its head cut off. All of this is very important so that the trip takes a minimal amount of time and I don’t miss anything. Remember, I won’t be going back. Getting everything is important. If you are doing this because of your schedule and not your location, then it may not be as big of a deal, but I know there are many people that live in rural areas like I do and have to shop this way.¬†Lists are important.

It usually takes me about and an hour and a half to two hours¬†just for my Walmart run.¬†And after I check out, I take everything back to my car and arrange it so that none of it can slide or break, putting the cold or frozen goods in the cooler with a bag of ice. Don’t forget the cooler if you have to drive as far as I do. Trust me. After you finish your second run for the bulk items, then you can finally go home! I usually stop and get myself a reward from a fast-food place, because we don’t have any at home, and enjoy it on my trip back.

 

I hope that this wasn’t entirely too confusing for any of you! I know it’s a lot of information to take in, but I promise it will be easier to understand once I start posting the recipes as I make them instead of all at once. You will see just how truly easy it is!

I can’t wait to post tomorrow with the proof that this really works!

P.S. I almost always have food left over at the end of the month just because of those random meals out with my parents or Dad’s family that come around! Yay!

Intro to: “Feeding my Family of 4 for a Month Under $300” (Also D6 & D7)

Today will be short because it’s only an¬†introduction¬†to something I will be working on over the next week or so.

If you have read my “about” page, you have seen that I live in a tiny town with no options for shopping (at least not within a limited budget) and I might add, we live an hour from any other decently-sized civilization. If you haven’t read my “about” page, go now!

Did you go? Good, now we can really start. All of this may leave you wondering, “Well, how do you afford the gas to go grocery shopping? Wouldn’t that break your budget?”, to which my answer would be, “Yes, it would, especially since I drive a Suburban. But I don’t go grocery shopping often enough to cost me too much in gas.”. At this point you are staring at me like I’ve lost my ever-loving mind. I mean, really, how the hell do I not go grocery shopping!? I’ve got kids to feed!

Okay, let me clear things up. I said I don’t go grocery shopping¬†often. Not that I¬†never go. I go once a month.

That’s right! One day a month, I get a babysitter (yes, it’s necessary), put my big ass cooler in the back of my suburban, ¬†grab my shopping list, and off I go to do my grocery shopping for that entire month. In fact, this introduction is coming right now because I’m going for the month of February on Friday! Yay! Isn’t that just perfect timing? It’s almost like I planned it…

How do I do this? Well, I buy everything I need for the entire month in one trip (the only thing I don’t buy is milk because we get that at the convenience store as needed) and that means I need to have the entire month planned out, to the day, to the meal, to the second!….Right?

WRONG

Wrong? Yep. I don’t have my menu planned for each and every day. I do, however, have a menu. This is what I will be posting tomorrow as well as my shopping list. I make a list of meals that my family likes. I then double or triple them as needed. I do a lot of freezer meals but I’m pretty lazy so that means I like to do things the easy way. I use easy recipes and easy methods. I figure up how many times one batch of food can feed us (I do a lot of leftovers for lunch) and shop accordingly.

One of my favorite¬†examples¬†is when I make chicken spaghetti, I double my¬†ingredients¬† then I¬†assemble¬†one in my 9×9 baking dish and another in a foil catering dish (I bought 20 of them with 20 lids for around $10 at Sam’s). Then I place one in the oven, and cover the other and put it in the freezer! It’s that easy. When I’m ready to eat it, I get it out the morning of, place it in the cold oven (so it’s not taking space on my¬†counter tops) and by the time I’m ready to bake it, it’s thawed out! Easy-peasy.

With that in mind, you can come back tomorrow to find my menu for this month as well as my shopping list for Friday. Then, Friday evening, I will post a copy of my receipt so you can see the proof! After that, I will be posting the recipes as I make them (screw that cooking once a month thing, I go with the flow!) and I will be posting the instructions on how I save them for later and how I go about re-heating them! This should be fun!

As a side note, I’ve been doing things this way for about 4 months now. I looked into many variations before I kind of stumbled into this method that works well for me. I understand that most people don’t live this far from a grocery store and that’s fine. But I do. And I have to keep my family on a VERY tight budget. This was the best way for me to do it. Another way this would help someone is any parent with a schedule too busy to shop often or think about meals every day could easily chose one day a month to shop and spread the work out accordingly. It really is a flexible plan!

 

Now! For D6 and D7!

D6 said “from some place low”….

A shot of my son's toy shelves in his room.

A shot of my son’s toy shelves in his room.

D7 said to take a picture of fruit… this will have to do.

I didn't have any fresh fruit (or fake for that matter) on hand so my smoothie raspberries would just have to be good enough.

I didn’t have any fresh fruit (or fake for that matter) on hand so my smoothie raspberries would just have to be good enough.

Baby Friendly Recipe (That My 2-Year Old Also Loved!)

The other day my friend, Joanne, posted a recipe on facebook that caught my interest. It seemed easy enough and was really open to adaptations. Here is my version of what she made based on what I had left over in my freezer and pantry.

Fast and Light Baby/Toddler Meal

Ingredients:

*You don’t have to be exact on these and you can¬†substitute¬†just about anything! Have fun with it!

5-6 baby carrots- cut either into small rounds or thin slices (I did slices)

1 1/2 c baby twist noodles

frozen vegetables of choice (I had about 1/8 c of mixed veggies and some sweet peas that I used)

a pinch of salt

2 tbsp olive oil (or butter)

1 tsp cilantro (her original recipe called for pesto but season it however you want!)

1/4 c Orange-Ginger marinade or sauce

about 2 c water

Get out a small saucepan. Add water, salt, and olive oil/butter to pan and bring to a boil. Throw in the carrots and set the timer for 10 minutes. Once the 10 minutes are up, add the frozen vegetables (I ended up adding around 1/2 c total) and the baby twists. Set the timer for 5 minutes. When the timer is done, remove the pot from the heat, add cilantro, cover, and let stand for 5-10 more minutes or until everything is soft. Drain and rinse with cool water twice. Gently stir in the Orange-Ginger sauce. Serve!

This recipe made enough for me to feed both B and Row as well as store two more small bowls in the fridge for later.

Warden-Approved!

Warden-Approved!

Give it a whirl! My kids loved it and it was so easy to make. I made it according to what I had on hand and to¬†accommodate¬†B’s lactose intolerance. Joanne’s original recipe called for pesto and a soft cheese in place of the cilantro and the¬†marinade. She also used corn instead of peas. But really the idea is the same: carrots, noodles, small frozen vegetable, seasoning, sauce, and you’re rolling! Tell me what you thought or variations you tried!

Monday’s Aren’t All Bad… (and D5)

Seriously, this week’s bad moment award goes to Sunday!

Today’s post will be short, since it is, after all, late and I am tired from a long day. The Wardens chose today to refuse naps and scream loudly simply to enjoy the echo. And through all of that, yesterday was worse. Why you ask? Let me tell you a little story.

It begins in a sunny meadow. The Wardens were enjoying some worry free play while Mom frolicked alongside them.

Okay, so it wasn’t a meadow, it was my dead-weeds-back-yard and we weren’t frolicking, I was chasing B with a camera in one hand and Row in the other trying to get pictures. Then, B decides to play on the tire swing. I sit down near him with Row in my lap and begin snapping my photos.

Shit.

Literally.

Shit on my shoulder and on Row’s arm and in his hair.

A bird shit on us.

At which point I jump up, exclaim “Are you¬†freaking kidding ME!?” and run into the house in search of baby wipes to clean us off.

So a happy Sunday full of pictures and a warm sunlight turned into shit.

I’m going to find that bird and shoot it. (Not really, I didn’t get a good look at the suspect. Now a vicious, shitting bird is loose on the streets just waiting for his next victim.)

 

On another note, today is D5 of the photo challenge and I was supposed to take a picture from “somewhere up high”. I am a mom, this is a mom blog, so what did I take a picture of? My kids’ messy room, of course! Look! Look, and relish in the fact that you aren’t the only person with toys and random boxes strewn across you child’s floor!

It will probably be an entirely new kind of mess tomorrow. We like to keep things fresh here.

It will probably be an entirely new kind of mess tomorrow. We like to keep things fresh here.

Post Navigation