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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Freezer Cooking Day Master Recipe List

I am participating in the March Freezer Cooking Day for the first time.  I've attempted Once a Month Cooking one other time - and it was wonderful, well the results were wonderful!  I'm attempting it again and feeling much more prepared and excited that last time.

So here's my Master list of recipes I'll be preparing tomorrow.

1.  Waffles (x2 or 3)
2.  Bulkokee (a yummy korean beef dish)
3.  Haystacks
4.  Chicken-n-Gravy with Noodles
5. Enchiladas
6. Spanish Rice
7.  Taco meat
8.  Lasagna
9.  Oatmeal muffins

I'm starting my preparations today by cooking the chicken I will need to shred for the haystacks.  The chicken and the broth have to cool overnight so I'll be able to move faster tomorrow by doing this prep work today.

I'm still working on the order I'll be doing the variety of steps I need to do.  Wish me luck!  To see other plans for tomorrow's big event, go here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Chicken Azteca

And one final recipe for today - this comes from Joella Shanklin.  I love it but my family doesn't because they can't stand black beans (or any beans for that matter).  But they allow me to make it once or twice a year and pick out the beans.

2 c frozen corn
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and divided
1 c salsa
1 clove garlic (I normally use dried minced garlic)
1/2 t ground cumin
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 pkg cream cheese, cubed
Hot Cooked Rice
Shredded cheddar

Combine corn, beans, 1/2 c salsa, garlic and cumin in slow cooker.  Arrange chicken over top; pour remaining salsa over chicken.  Cover; cook on High 2-3 hours or on low 4-6 hours.

Remove chicken, cut into bite-size pieces.  Return chicken to slow cooker.  Add cream cheese and stir.  Cook on High until cream cheese melts and blends into sauce.

Serve over rice.  Top with cheddar cheese.

Kelly's Crockpot PorkChops

This recipe came from Kelly Hull during a phone conversation one Sunday morning (it was what she was preparing for dinner).  You can also use a pork roast instead of pork chops and it's still yummy.

Season pork chops with pepper, garlic powder and seasoned salt on one side.  Brown.

Mix 1 can cream of mushroom soup with 1 packet dry onion soup mix.  Add 2-3 T water to thin.

In crockpot, place 2 T sauce, then pork chops.  Continue, alternating layers.

Cook on low (I don't have a time but it works fine if you start it before church and then eat after you get home so 3-4 hours).

Swiss Steak

Here's another crockpot favorite.  I grew up on this as one of my favorite meals.  Sadly, when I got out on my own, I discovered that most people think swiss steak is tomato based so I had to get this recipe from my mom!

Swiss Steak

2 lbs round steak (cut 3/4 inch thick)
salt and pepper to taste
1 lg onion (I usually use dried onion)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 can water

Cut steak into serving pieces; season with salt and pepper and place in crockpot with sliced onion.  Spread soup and water evenly over top.

Cover and set to High for 1 hour then turn to Low for 8 to 10 hours.

Serve over rice.

Linked to What's in Your Crockpot?.  Go check out all the wonderful crockpot recipes.

Italian Beef recipe for the crockpot

A friend asked today for crockpot recipes.  So here's my first one - this is actually the main menu item for Sunday's birthday dinner for Princess2.  It comes from my friend Denise and we love it!

Italian Beef

3 cups water
1 t salt
1 t ground black pepper
1 t dried oregano
1 t dried basil
1 t dried onion salt
1 t dried parsley
1 t garlic powder
1 bay leaf
1 (.7 ounce) pkg dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
1 (5 pound) rump roast

Combine water with salt, pepper, oregano, basil, onion salt, parsley, garlic powder, bay leaf and salad dressing mix in a saucepan.  Stir well and bring to a boil.  Place roast in slow cooker and pour salad dressing mixture over the meat.

Cover and cook on Low for 10 to 12 hours or on High for 4 to 5 hours.  When done, remove bay leaf and shred meat with a fork.

Serve on hamburger buns with provolone cheese.  For an even more scrumptious sandwich, put sandwich under broiler to melt the cheese.  You could also serve it with the juices in a small bowl for dipping.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday Meditation - Philippians 4:13 and the Parable of Canning Sugar

I love technology!  I have figured out how to "schedule" my posts and that makes a world of difference with keeping this blog up, especially these Monday Meditations.  I don't have to wait until Monday to write the post.  I can write it as soon as the "meditation" occurs.

I am reading First Things First: the rules of being a Warner by Kurt and Brenda Warner.  So far, it's a very good read.  I'm already getting some ideas that I want to incorporate into our family and I'm in chapter 4.  What struck me just a moment ago is Brenda Warner's thought on Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  She says "But I've come to understand that just because I can doesn't mean I should."  She also mentioned the Proverbs 31 woman, you know, the one whose worth is above rubies.  As I went to read that, I "accidentally" opened to Ecclesiastes 3 and started reading, not noticing I was on the wrong page.  Do you know what it says?  "To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven."

Do you think it was an accident that I ended up on that page?  It fit in perfectly with what I was "studying" and Brenda Warner's thought.  My thought on Philippians 4:13 is I'm surprised there isn't a footnote to say I can do all things that Christ desires of me through Him which strengtheneth me.  We can't do EVERYTHING.  We often hear the phrase "He won't give us more than we can handle."  We're not required to deal with EVERYTHING at one time.  But we can know that the challenges dealt to us can be handled when we rely on Him because He will provide what we need to handle it.  That doesn't mean we don't cry or feel the weight of those challenges sometimes.  Jesus cried and He was/is without sin so I'm not going to feel guilty about crying myself.  There's nothing wrong with it.

I have another parable from my life to share.  It's the Parable of Canning Sugar.  One day I was at the Church canning some sugar with a sister from another ward and her husband.  I knew that the church cannery said that I could get 6.1 lbs of sugar in each can.  I had 4 lb bags of sugar.  So that meant 3 bags of sugar would go in 2 cans.  I put one bag in each can.  Then took my 3rd bag and started pouring in to each can until I thought it was full.  I would look at the two cans and think there is no way I can get any more sugar into either can but there was still sugar in my bag.  So I would tap my cans to get the sugar to settle and pour a little more in.  And I repeated this until all the sugar was out of the bag.  Amazingly, I went through this exact process many times (I did 12-18 cans of sugar).  And each time I was amazed that all the sugar fit.

I had the thought as I tapped those cans - this is like my life in the Gospel.  Heavenly Father wants me to do this, and this, and this, and this.  I can't do everything but I know I should.  But as I rely on Him, take time to settle my schedule and priorities, like I settled the sugar in the can, then it's amazing the things I can accomplish that He desires me to do.  But it has to be the things He has in plan for me or the sugar spills all over the counter.  And He doesn't have me doing EVERYTHING.  There is a season and a time.

One final thought.  A few years ago, many friends kept inviting me to scrapbook with them.  And I would go and fight and struggle to do the scrapbooking thing. I bought supplies and tools.  It was hard.  It wasn't fun.  My stuff didn't look very good when it was done.  But I kept trying.  Then finally I realized I didn't HAVE to.  Not all of my friends felt the need to knit, crochet, cross-stitch like I do.  Why did I think I HAD to scrapbook.   And I let it go.  Wow!  It was like a major boulder was removed from my back.  It was a reminder of the principle above - I don't have to do everything.  He will let me know what is essential in my life and as I follow that, He will strengtheneth me and I can do all those things!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wacky Cake

Another recipe.  And again this is one I grew up with my Mom making  (This recipe card is actually in my Mom's handwriting).  Yeah Mom!

Reasons I love this recipe - it's easy, it uses only one pan (no bowls for mixing), it's moist, and it's fun!

Wacky Cake

1 1/2 c flour (Note: I have not tried using 1/2 whole wheat, but will next time I make the cake)
3 tb cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1 c sugar
1 tsp baking soda

Sift above ingredients in 8x8 pan.  Make 3 wells.

5 TB melted butter/margarine/oil (I wonder if applesauce would work to decrease the fat)
1 tsp vanilla
1 TB vinegar
1 C water

Mix butter, vanilla and vinegar in separate bowl.  Note:  I normally use a glass measuring cup to melt my butter and then add the vanilla and vinegar to the cup (less dishes to wash).

Pour into those 3 wells you made.

Pour water over top of everything and stir.

Bake in ungreased pan at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Another reason I love this cake is because I don't feel so guilty eating it - it doesn't need any frosting!  And it's perfectly delicious still warm - no waiting for it to cool.

But I realized I need to do some experimenting for replacing some ingredients as I typed out the recipe.  Guess my family will be guinea pigs next FHE.  Hope it turns out yummy!

Oatmeal Muffins

Growing up my Mom made muffins basically every Sunday.  It was wonderful!  Sometimes they were mixes but often, she would make homemade oatmeal muffins.  So in high school Home Ec class, I started copying down recipes and this is one that I copied down (and still have my original recipe card that I made).  Over the years, I've made some changes that I'll note in the recipe as I go.

Mom's Oatmeal Muffins

1 c quick cooking rolled oats (I actually prefer regular rolled oats over quick)
1 c milk (sometimes I use 1/2 reg milk and 1/2 c from powdered milk)
1 c sifted flour (I never sift and often use 1/4 to 1/2 whole wheat with the rest being white flour)
1/3 c sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 well beaten egg
1/4 c vegetable oil (my family actually prefers the muffins if I replace some or all of the oil with applesauce)

1.  Combine rolled oats and milk.  Let stand 15 minutes.

2.  Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into bowl.  (Note:  Adam knows what a sifter is and uses one - but I pretend not to know)

3.  Combine eggs, oil and oatmeal mixture.  Add all at once to sifted dry ingredients.  Stirring just to moisten.

4.  Fill greased muffin pans 2/3rd full.

5.  Bake at 425 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes (watch that time because these will overcook easily).

Yield:  1 dozen decent sized muffins

When substituting 2 T applesauce for 1/2 of the fat, these are 122 calories per muffin.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

WFMW - Free (or Cheaper) Federal Taxes E-File

For years, I did our taxes.  At one point, we were both working outside the home, plus I was selling tupperware which meant self employment tax paperwork.  It was too much.  So we turned to a tax accountant for our taxes.  Norma was wonderful!  And we continued using her after I quit working and our daughter was born.  And then I started realizing how much we were paying her (not that she charges mre than others).  And I have a degree in Economics!  Why was I paying someone to do something that I should be able to do myself?  Because if I have to buy $70 software, plus an additional $30 to file state taxes, I might as well spend a little more for Norma to do it all.

Then I discovered the IRS's free e-file program.  We used this for several years and it's wonderful!  You must go through the IRS's website and follow the link to the software you want to use.  If you make less than the maximum specified income, your federal e-file and use of software is FREE!  You only pay for state e-file (which was cheaper than the charge the software at the store said it would be).

For 2009, we made more than the free e-file allowed.  So I started checking out software at the store and doing the taxes online.

Software at Sam's Club (seemed cheaper than other stores) was $50 + $30 to file my state taxes.  Going directly to the H&R Block website and also to TurboTax, I didn't like their prices either and wasn't sure which version to use - Free, Basic ($15), Standard ($30), Deluxe, etc.

So even though I thought our income was going to be higher than the free e-file program allowed, I tried it (using the H&R Block link who I've chosen for the last several years).  I input all our information and at the very end, it said we made too much AGI to qualify to file our federal for free BUT it told me I only needed to buy the Basic Federal online taxes for $15.  State e-file was $30.  I still saved significant money over buying the software at the store.  The price was not cheaper than if I had just bought from the website - BUT I probably would have purchased the deluxe instead of the Basic.  Not sure how it would have worked if I selected Deluxe and then only really used the features of Basic.  But I think I saved money :)

Finally, a new feature I saw this year but didn't try - the IRS has free forms that you can fill in online and submit electronically for FREE, regardless of your income.  It is not software.  It does not do the calculations for you nor does it hunt for deductions.  But if you're comfortable with the paper forms - this is a way to do them electronically and e-file, thus getting your return faster, for FREE.

Overall, if you make less than $57,000 AGI in 2009, the Federal Free E-file program is the way to go!

And one last tip for you, use this link to find out when you will get your refund based on when you e-file.  I had hunted and hunted for this before we filed and couldn't find it.  So of course, H&R Block provided it after I filed - and it told me that if I had filed 24 hours earlier, I would have received my refund a week earlier.

These tax resources definitely Work for Me and I hope they work for you.  For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, check out We are THAT Family today!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday Meditation - 1 Nephi 8 and the Parable of the Down Escalator

All the females in our house are sick, including me, so today's post is from an old journal entry about Lehi's vision of the Tree of Life.  At the time, I was studying using Preach My Gospel.  I recorded some questions and my thoughts.  Some answers are "easy" but at the same time, I didn't catch the first years of reading this scripture.  And each time I ponder it, my testimony is stronger and reminded of how I need to prioritize.

#1 - What did Lehi desire after eating the fruit?
Lehi wanted his family to partake also.  He looked for them and beckoned to them.  But he did NOT chase after them or drag them to the iron rod.

#2 - What do we need to do to be able to partake?
You must stay on the strait and narrow path - clinging to the iron rod.  So keep the commandments and feast upon the scriptures.  Each step on this path comes by our making and keeping our commitments and covenants and brings us closer to Heavenly Father.  Being closer to Him gives us strength which makes it easier and possible to take the next step.  That next step is never an easy step.  Each step takes work.  At the beginning of our journey, that next step would probably have not been even possible, but it IS possible now because of our current position, strength, understanding and abilities that have come from the previous steps.

#3 - What is your duty in helping others find and partake of the fruits of the Gospel?
First, we need to be working on keeping ourselves on the strait and narrow path and partaking of the fruit.  Then we need to beckon to our family as Lehi did.  Offering, but not forcing or coercing.  Encourage those already on the path to keep moving forward and ignore those who ridicule or attempt to distract us from the path.

So that's it from my journal entry.  But I am being reminded of thoughts I have had many years ago which I have titled "The Parable of the Down Escalator".

As kids, it was always fun to try to go up the down escalator.  Picture yourself trying to go up those steps as they continue to make their way down.  This is how I picture the Gospel.  Our goal is to get to the top of the escalator but we must use the down escalator (I'm not even sure there is an up escalator).  To get closer to the top, we have to work really hard to get our momentum going faster than the stairs are going down.  If we slow down, often times our momentum will match the speed of the stairs and we become stagnant - not moving forward.  Then there are those times when we like ourselves tired and stop working.  If we pause for only a moment, we lose our position, but can make up the loss easily.  But if we pause for anything longer than one moment, we quickly lose position and can slide to the bottom of the escalator.  This is why it's essential that we have DAILY scripture study time, DAILY prayer, weekly FHE, attend our church meetings and regularly attend the Temple (the Fab 5 for my fellow 3rd Ward friends).  These keep us moving forward so that we can get to the top!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

WFMW - Sore Throat Remedy

As I was growing up, any time we got a sore throat, this was the remedy we used. Once I was out on my own, I remember the first time I thought to use the remedy. I was working at a large medical group practice in Florida. I knew I didn't have the remedy at home so I headed over to the orthopedic department (I was friends with one of the doctors and several of the nurses) to see if they had some. They did. BUT, they were astonished with what I wanted to do with it. I assured them I would be fine and they finally relented and let me use some of the item. The next day, I was back at work without any sign of a sore throat. They were amazed. I wonder if any of them ever thought to use it themselves.

Once I got married, it was time I bought some of this magic cure. My husband, like those nurses, was skeptical the first time he saw me use it. But now, after almost 15 years of marriage, it's his first thought when his throat gets scratchy. And he was most disappointed the other day to discover we didn't have any - I had cleaned out the medicine cabinet and thrown it away because it was expired.

So what is this magic sore throat remedy? Betadine!

The other day I saw on the internet that it used to be an accepted treatment at home but is one of those that people don't know about any more.

Directions - fill a bathroom cup (8 oz) with warm water. Add about 4 drops of betadine and swirl. Then gargle with this warm solution and spit it out into your sink. Do NOT swallow! Repeat as needed.

I generally do not use the whole cup unless my throat is already really sore. If I do this at the first hint of a scratchy throat, I generally don't get a sore throat. I use warm water because it is more soothing to a scratchy throat than cold water. And I make sure to rinse my cup thoroughly after I'm done.

Betadine is normally with the first aid supplies at your local discount store. The 8 oz bottle I bought last week (to replace the one I threw away) was around $11. But it lasts for years, or until it expires. You can also use it on cuts.

For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, click here.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monday Meditation - Mark 14:19 - Is it I?

I love the scriptures. And I really enjoy it when a verse that I've read time and time again over the years all of a sudden stands out with a poignant thought. That happened earlier this month while reading about the Last Supper. I put the verse of Mark 14:19 in this post title but it also applies to Matthew 26:29. Context - Christ and his disciples are preparing to celebrate the Passover. As they sit down and start eating, christ tells them that "One of you which eateth with me shall betray me". In verse 19, "And they began to be sorrowful and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I?". I assume that everyone reading these Monday Meditations knows that Judas Iscariot was the one who betrayed Christ. But that's not the point of my Meditation. It's not Judas' response, it's the response of all the apostles.

If you were sitting at a table with people you served with closely at church in leadership roles and the Bishop (or Pastor for those who are members of other faiths) said someone here is going to betray their faith today, would you ask is it me? I don't believe so. I think I'd be confident that I'm striving to choose the right and would know it isn't going to be me. So I'm more likely to be thinking "Who is it?" or "I don't believe that. We're all strong in our faith." So as I read this verse this month, that question caught my eye. Were they not as confident in their faith as I try to be? So I did a little research.

Pres. Boyd K. Packer, in 1965, said this:
"I remind you that these men were apostles. They were of apostolic stature. It has always been interesting to me that they did not on that occasion, nudge one another and say 'I'll bet that is old Judas. He has surely been acting queer lately.' It reflects someting of their stature....

"Would you, I plead, overrule the tendency to disregard counsel and assume for just a moment something apostolic in attitude at least, and ask yourself these questions: Do I need to improve myself? Should I take this counsel to heart and act upon it? If there is one wek or failing, unwilling to follow the brethren, Lord, is it I?"

Application - So instead of being weak in their faith, they were strong enough in their faith to question if they were doing something they needed to change. If the apostles questioned themselves with Christ's statement, I definitely need to question myself whenever we hear counsel from our leaders, especially the prophet. I need to ask how I can improve in this principle of the Gospel, not simply disregarding it as something I've got under control or am living pretty well. Every time the prophet and the apostles speak, we need to listen with an open heart and follow the examples of Christ's apostles at the Last Supper "Is it I?"