Sunday, January 30, 2011

Menu Planning - Week 5 & Month in Review

I had a ROUGH week dealing with a horrible cold and some LONG days at work, so a few of our menu plans got shuffled around or totally skipped last week, so you might see some repeats this week & some EASY stuff to just throw together since I'm still recovering and honestly, just feeling lazy!  Luckily, a lot of this stuff is already in our house, so that means our grocery bill will be cheap!

1.29.11 - Eating Out
1.30.11 - Jennifer's Meatloaf & Mashed Potatoes (a la Supper Swap)
1.31.11 - Chick-Fil-A Date (FREE sandwiches with your church bulletin!)
2.1.11 - Tacos
2.2.11 - Lorraine's Beef Stroganoff (a la Supper Swap)
2.3.11 - Homemade Calzones
2.4.11 - Baked Ziti with girls from work for me & hubby on his own!

This week's menu doesn't have anything new on it, but I thought this was as good time as any to go ahead and review the few new recipes I did try this month:

Mexican Chicken Casserole  - This recipe turned out good, but Ryan and I agreed it is TOO similar to the another casserole we make with Crescent Rolls, so we probably won't do the one with the corn tortillas again.  

Zuppa Toscana - LOVE IT! Tastes just like Olive Garden, maybe a little spicier, but still super! The only complaint I had was that Publix only sells Kale in a giant bag, so if anyone knows where I can find it in a smaller quantity, that info would be greatly appreciated!  It made enough for us to have lunch for another day, too, and it was great re-heated.

Baked Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas - I've been looking for a recipe like this for a while now and this hit the nail on the head!  I'm clearly a mexican-food lover, and these were a dream come true!  Great as leftovers, too!

Cream Cheese Chicken in the Crockpot - I LOVED this recipe.  Ryan was not a fan, he likes more tomato-based sauces for pasta.  I'm thinking perhaps I'll serve it with rice next time instead and he might like it better.  Any other suggestions??

Pioneer Woman's Perfect Potatoes Au Gratin - YUM YUM YUM.  Probably not the healthiest in the world, but these potatoes are awesome!  Definitely something I'll make to take with me to holiday meals and our monthly dinner club if I'm in charge of a side dish!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Memory Verses

A little late on posting the last two weeks' verses, but here they are.  I think the greatest thing about scripture memory is just having the Word of God on the tip of your tongue whenever you need it.  The more I work on scripture memory, I realize more and more how God has a way of bringing just the right verse to my mind at just the right times.  

1 Timothy 3:11
"Women must be likewise dignified, not malicious gossips, but faithful and temperate in all things." 

2 Corinthians 12:9
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Menu Planning - Week 4

Crazy, another week is here already!  We have our Supper Swap tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to an easy week or two since I'll have some meals ready to just toss in the oven or crockpot.  So... here's what we are eating this week:

1.22.11 - Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Venison Tenderloin & Pioneer Woman's Perfect Potatoes Au Gratin
1.23.11 - Supper Swap Sunday - Mexican Chicken Casserole (this is what I'm making to give away)
1.24.11 - Jennifer's Meat Loaf & Mashed Potatoes (a la Supper Swap)
1.25.11 - Leftovers/Fridge Cleanout/Find-Your-Own Dinner Night
1.26.11 - Salads & Zuppa Toscana (I hope it REALLY tastes like Olive Garden!)
1.27.11 - Date Night OUT
1.28.11 - Taking dinner to the newest parents we know & meeting their sweet baby boy!

When we get to the end of the month, I'm going to go back and review the new recipes we tried, which ones we liked, disliked, and whether we're ever going to make them again.  

Have a great week!

A Giveaway & Chili Goodness

First things first, head on over to Leigh's blog and enter the Seeking Love First Giveaway.  You can read all about Gray & Leigh's adoption journey on her blog as well!  This is Leigh's 500th blog post and she's celebrating by giving away a precious fabric wreath and one of their super cute fundraising T-shirts.  Head on over there to see how you can enter-to-win, and spread the news to your friends for a chance to have more entries!

Last night was our Sunday School Chili Cookoff..... I've never been a big fan of Chili, but Ryan has always raved about his mom's Chicken Chili and so I used her recipe for the cookoff.  And, get this, we won the SPICIEST category and tied for BEST ALL AROUND.   Not to mention getting to taste a whole bunch of other great chilis like this recipe and this recipe.   You can check out our recipe 

Ryan's Favorite Chicken Chili

1 ½ pounds white boneless chicken**
3 (14 ½ oz) cans diced tomatoes with onions and green pepper, undrained
2 (15 oz) cans kidney beans, undrained
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 ½ tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp ground cayenne pepper

**The recipe calls for chicken to be cooked & cubed, but I shredded the chicken and everyone loved it.  (I think it would probably also be good if you used shredded rotisserie chicken).

If cooking on the stove, cook/shred chicken, then, mix all ingredients in a pot and cook until mixture comes to a full boil.  Then reduce heat to low for 30-40 minutes.  

If cooking in crockpot, use cooked or frozen chicken pieces, mix all ingredients in a crockpot and cook on low all day.  Remove chicken and shred, then re-mix chicken with other ingredients.

SERVE with cheese, sourcream, and crackers/chips/cornbread.  ENJOY!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Our New Favorite Place

Saturday was the GRAND OPENING of our new favorite place, The NoMA Bark Park.  Just a short ride or walk from our house, Earlewood Park is now home to our city's newest dog park.  We went for the first time Sunday afternoon just to find out how to join and check it out.  We quickly filled out the paperwork and mailed in our dues because this place is a dog's (and dog-owner's) dream come true!
Basically, it is a HUGE fenced-in area where dogs can run, off-leash, play, socialize, and our favorite part, get TOTALLY worn out.  Ever since Beaufort has been with us, we've tried just about everything to let him get out his pent-up energy.  We walk the neighborhood, play fetch, run around the yard, throw balls/toys inside and outside the house, etc, but sometimes a puppy just needs room to RUN, and that is what the bark park is all about.

The RESULTS of a visit to the park .....

We've met lots of other dog-owners and their furry friends and look forward to going to the Bark Park often.   One lesson I've already learned is to wear "play-clothes" because Beaufort and the other dogs not only play with each other, but they get the owners involved, too!   If you live in the Columbia area, the $25 annual fee is well worth it for this fun place to take your pup.  You can learn more about how to join, here

And, don't forget to let us know when you're going, because puppy play-dates are the best!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Menu Planning - Week 3

They say it takes 21 days to make a new habit permanent, so this 3rd week should be the charm, right?

1.15.11 - NY Strip Steaks & Baked Potatoes
1.17.11 - Date Night Out to Thirsty Fellow
1.18.11 - Breakfast for Dinner...bacon,eggs,grits,the works 
1.19.11 - Cream Cheese Chicken in the Crockpot (I'm loving this slow-cooking site!)
1.20.11 - California Turkey Burgers --- for real, going to make them this time!
1.21.11 - Sunday School Chili Cookoff

We are definitely already seeing the benefits of planning our menus a week at a time.  We have saved extra money each week so far, too!

Monday, January 10, 2011


Wow, we've had snow twice in two weeks here in South Carolina. Of course, the city is pretty much shut down, and since we live in the most hilly part of town, we are "snowed in". We took a walk around the neighborhood and saw one guy trying to leave, but he ended up having to all the way back down in reverse to his driveway. We woke up to about 4 inches of snow on the ground and piles of snow still falling from the sky. We have about 5-6 inches total, I think.

Beaufort had a blast running and jumping and rolling in the snow this morning, but he got little icicles all stuck in his fur, especially around his paws and face. He looked like a little polar bear!

I'm fairly antsy when stuck inside all day, so I've already unpacked and re-organized the bottom of the china cabinet, and I think the rest of the house is gonna get at least the once-over this afternoon. They're calling for freezing rain and ice tonight and in the morning, so if the city stays shut down, this could last another day. That could make for a giant goodwill donation bag and humongous trash pile if I keep it up at this rate! Here's the view out the back of the house and down the hill out front. At least the snow makes for a beautiful view!

And I'm off to the next project, I think I'm going to attempt some closet cleanout!

This week's verse

"Listen to my words, Lord, Consider my lament. Hear my cry for help, my king and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, lord, hear my voice. In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly."

Psalm 5:1-3

I especially love this verse because it reminds me that an important factor in prayer is waiting for God's response, and having the faith to wait expectantly. Expecting him to answer, to act, and realizing that it might take time, but he WILL respond.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Menu Planning - Week 2

Week 2 Menu
Saturday 1.8.11 - Monthly Dinner club -- making Yummy Spinach Dip for the appetizer
Sunday 1.9.11 - Cheesy Chicken & Corn Chowder in crockpot (we didn't get to make last week)
Monday 1.10.11 - Watching National Championship Game w/ friends... not sure what the food plans are yet!
Tuesday 1.11.11 - 3-Cheese & Venison Sausage stuffed shells (a twist on this recipe)
Wednesday 1.12.11 - Dr. Pepper BBQ in the Crockpot w/ cole slaw and potato salad
Thursday 1.13.11 - Pizza & Game Night with friends
Friday 1.14.11 - Celebrating my Dad's birthday with our family

Seems like we have a lot going on this week, so we planned lots of stuff for the crockpot, things that will make leftovers, and kept some stuff in reserve in case plans change (which, inevitably, they do!). I'm trying to come up with more stuff for the crockpot especially for Wednesdays because there is so little time between work and Bible study to cook, and it's too late to cook afterward. Send all your good crockpot recipes my way :)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Yummy Spinach Dip

We have our monthly dinner club tonight and I'm in charge of bringing the appetizer, so I'm making this yummy spinach dip recipe I got from a co-worker after she brought it to a work luncheon. It's a little different than any spinach dip I've had before since it has some other vegetables and it's made with greek yogurt instead of sourcream. I guess that makes it healthier for you, too! So enjoy this recipe next time you host a party or need something quick and easy to throw together and take along with you:

1 Knorr Vegetable Mix packet
16 0z Nonfat Greek Yogurt
1 cup Reduced fat mayonaise
1 lb plum tomatoes (diced)
1/4 cup red onion (diced)
10 oz frozen chopped spinach (thawed & squeezed dry)
1/3 cup green onions (thinly sliced)**

Stir together yogurt, mayo, and Knorr vegetable mix until smooth. Fold in tomatoes, onions, and spinach until evenly mixed. Cover and chill for 2+ hours. Serve with bread, crackers, chips, and veggies for dipping.**

**I left out the green onions since there are already red onions and I didn't want to buy a whole bunch of green onion since I didn't have a use for the leftovers. I'm serving it up in a white mountain bread loaf from Publix with extra bread, veggies, and chips for dipping**

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bible Reading & Memorizing in 2011

This year, I'm planning to read my Bible daily, in order to read it completely through in just one year. The plan I'm using splits the reading into 2 Old Testament and 2 New Testament passages daily. In the past, I have tried and failed to read "cover-to-cover", so I'm hoping this different plan will make it easier.

I also hope to increase the amount of scripture I have memorized because I find the more verses I commit to memory, the more I find their applications in my life. Last year with my Bible study, we memorized verses weekly, and Psalm 1 was one of my favorites. I know this verse will encourage me this year as I endeavor to read all of God's word and tuck away more and more of it in my mind and heart. My aim is to have 52 passages under my belt come 2012 and I'm starting by re-committing Psalm 1:1-3 to memory:

"Blessed is the one who does not walk in the steps of the wicked, stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord and who meditates on His law both day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers."

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 Christmas Decorations in Pictures

This year was our first Christmas with all our decorations out, and I got a few pictures with the blackberry since my camera decided to quit life right before the holidays. Sorry for the poor quality photos, but just for the sake of remembering what 2010 Christmas looked like, here they are!

We have a tradition of collecting nutcrackers in our family, my mom gives us each a new one every year.... this year, I set them up on top of the entertainment center, but we have two more from this year, so looks like they might have to move them around next year....

We also have a Fontanini Nativity Scene which we collect new pieces to every year. (AND, in case you're curious, the pieces are rubber so they won't break if your puppy or child knocks them off). I think one day when we have a family, this will be a great thing to use to teach our kids about the Christmas story.

We hosted our first Christmas Eve dinner, so we brought out all the Christmas china for the first time. It was really nice to get out the holiday dishes and set up a fancy table. We also figured out we can seat 10 people (it's a squeeze) around the table, which will come in handy in 2011 for our supper club and other dinner parties!

We had a white day-after-Christmas and our boy Beaufort really had a blast playing in it....

I forgot to take pictures of our outside decorations, but my mom and I headed out to Michael's and made all new ribbons for our garland and a beautiful new wreath for the front door this year..... I'll be sure when Christmas 2011 rolls around to get a picture of it. Hopefully I'll have a better camera than my blackberry by then :)

Until next year, Merry Christmas!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 is here!

Well, the new year is finally here! We've had a crazy busy holiday season, and have enjoyed the first day of 2011 simply relaxing at home, enjoying the chance to simply do nothing. I've got lots of things I've got in mind for "resolutions," but want to really commit to them before I write more. Probably more to come on that as January moves in....

However, one thing we have already decided on for this year is to work on our budget and one major place we decided to focus was on food. In the last year, my checkbook register was filled with the MANY restaurants we frequent. We tend to do better cooking at home when we have a plan, so I've decided to get back to menu planning, especially inspired by Leigh, who posted 52 weeks of menus in 2010. (You'll probably be seeing a lot of links to her recipe blog, too, since she makes some fabulous food!)

My thought is that if I post my menu weekly, I'll be more likely to stick to it, and when I'm stumped as to what to fix, I can go back and look at past weeks for ideas. The girls from work are also starting back up with our supper-swap this month, so we'll have a good set of meals every few weeks to throw in the mix!

So, here we go for 2011.....

Week 1 Menu
Saturday 1.1.11 - Leftovers and sandwiches/soup
Sunday 1.2.11 - Venison cube steak, rice & gravy, salad
Monday 1.3.11 - California Turkey Burgers w/ Guacamole, Chips & Salsa
Tuesday 1.4.11 - Paula Dean's grilled pork tenderloin w/ Spicy Sweet Potatoes
Wednesday 1.5.11 - Taking dinner to friends... probably Lasagna Casserole
Thursday 1.6.11 - Cheesy Chicken & Corn Chowder with sandwiches
Friday 1.7.11 - Date Night Out and/or Date Night IN with Leftovers .... depending how we feel at the end of the week :)

Let me know what you're eating in 2011, so I can try some new stuff, too!