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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

WFMW - Scheduling Posts

For those who haven't played around with the Post Options on blogger, I'm here to encourage you to use it!  It has really helped my posting.  I've had SO many times when I've found something that works for me and think "I need to post that for Works for Me Wednesday!".  But then by the time Wednesday rolls around, I'm either super busy or I can't remember what the tip was.  I'd heard others mention writing a post in advance but I didn't know how to do it.  I figured it out a few months ago and it really Works for Me!

So here are the steps....

Click Post Options at the bottom of your draft post.  It will open up some options for you.

If you are using the updated version, in the expanded area, on the right, you'll see "Post date and time" with the options of "Automatic" and :Scheduled at". 

Click Scheduled At and then set the date that you want it to publish, even the time.

Then click "Publish Post".

If you are using the older version of blogger, when you click Post Options, you'll see a post date - just change it to be the date you want it to publish your post.

Note:  When I was figuring out how to do this, I tried using Help because I wasn't always successful.  The Help section said they were trying to figure out why it didn't work for everyone.  Not helpful at all.  But then I realized the truth.  If you click Publish Post before changing your Post Options, you can NOT go in and then change the date and have it unpublish your post and save it for the future.  As long as I set the Schedule at date BEFORE I click Publish Post, it always works for me.

Writing the posts as soon as the idea hits me definitely Works for Me!  For more Works for Me Wednesday, check out We Are THAT Family!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - May 24 - 30

Here's our meal plan for the coming week...

Monday - Italian Beef

Tuesday - Ribs (from the freezer - but maybe next time, I'll add the recipe)

Wednesday - Fish (Recipe TBD)

Thursday - Chicken Tortilla Soup (scroll down for the recipe - also a chocolate cake recipe)

Friday - Fettucini Alfredo

Saturday - CookOut

Sunday - Homemade Pizza

This menu is being posted to Menu Plan Monday on OrgJunkie!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fettucine Alfredo

I found this recipe in an Italian cookbook while I was living in Florida.  I started making it then and it has become a family favorite.  It's also a signature dish for me so I must really love you guys to be sharing it!

The alfredo can be tricky as sometimes the butter and the cheese separate - it's a timing thing but I haven't figured it out enough to tell you how to avoid it, even after 16 years of making it, except to say do not overcook it.  But it's still good even when the butter separates.

One thing about this recipe - I can't eat fettucine alfredo out anymore because 90% of restaurants use black pepper in their recipes instead of white pepper and no nutmeg.  It's just not as good.

Classic Fettucine Alfredo

3/4 lb uncooked dry fettucine*
6 T unsalted butter (I've also used margarine)
2/3 c. heavy whipping cream
1/2 t. salt
Generous dash ground white pepper
Generous dash ground nutmeg
1 c grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Cook dry fettucine in large pot of boiling water 6-8 minutes; remove from heat and set aside.

2.  Place a large, heavy skillet on the burner used for the boiling water**.  Place butter and cream in skillet over medium-low heat.  Cook and stir until butter melts and mixture just starts to bubble.  Cook and stir 2 minutes more.  Stir in salt, pepper and nutmeg.***  I tend to put the pepper and nutmeg (individually) in my hand and then rub my hands together over the skillet.  The rubbing seems to release some of the fragrances.

3.  Remove from heat.  Gradually stir in cheese until thoroughly blended and smooth.  Return briefly to heat to completely blend cheese if necessary.  (Do not let sauce bubble or cheese will become lumpy and tough).

4.  Drain water from fettucine and then dump into skillet with sauce (or pour sauce over fettucine in pot).  Stir and toss with 2 forks for 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve immediately.****

*  I just grab what it looks like my family will eat.   I also tend to go a little less than probably the recipe calls for because we like it heavy on the sauce (opposite of the way I like my spaghetti).

** I've learned this trick - the sauce will cook much faster this way and my family can never wait for this to be ready.

*** Don't procrastinate gathering your ingredients until it's time to put them in!  You will end up overcooking the butter/cream and it could separate.

**** I love freezer cooking and meals that can be prepared ahead of time but this is NOT one of them!  It does not reheat very well (butter and cream definitely separate).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

WFMW - Works for Me Wednesday

Today's tip for Works for Me Wednesday is to participate in Works for Me Wednesday!

Does that seem silly?  As I was writing last week's post, I realized that by participating in this each (or almost each) week, I am focused on the positive things in my life, things that are working and not where I need to improve.  For the areas I need to improve, I browse through everyone else's tips for ideas.

I find that as I go through my week, I am always on the lookout for those things that DO work for me.  My poor husband and mom get lots of comments like "Oh!  I need to remember to post this on Wednesday!"  And now I simply go ahead and type the post and schedule it (how to do that will be next week's WFMW post).

So look for those things in your life that are working and share them with the rest of us!

For more Works for Me Wednesday, check out We are THAT Family!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - May 17 - 23

We cleaned out the freezer section of our refrigerator this afternoon.  Not an ordinary Sunday afternoon activity but I needed to figure out our meals for the coming week to decrease my to do's.  We found quite a few freezer meals so that will be what our meals come from.

Monday - Spaghetti (sauce from freezer)

Tuesday - Bul-ko-kee

Wednesday - Enchiladas

Thursday - Asian BBQ Chicken

Friday - Rosemary Pork Roast (from the South Beach cookbook)

Saturday - grilled hamburgers

Sunday - Lasagna

The enchiladas are leftovers in the freezer (so already cooked).  The lasagna, pork roast, chicken and bul-ko-kee are in the freezer prepped so I'll just need to take them out 1-2 days ahead to defrost in the refrigerator and then cook them.

I'm posting to Menu Plan Monday at Org Junkie - go check out some great menus!


In a recent post, I promised my lasagna recipe.  Fair warning - I don't like meat in my lasagna so you won't find it in the recipe but you are more than welcome to add some to your's, just please not when I'm coming to dinner :)  My idea of lasagna is it's purpose is to combine pasta and melted cheese.  The original recipe came from my Mom (I seem to say that a lot in my recipe posts).


24 oz can of Hunt's Garlic and Herb Spaghetti Sauce **
16-24 oz cottage cheese *
1/4 c parmessan cheese
2 c. mozzarella and cheddar cheese ***
9 lasagna noodles

Cook noodles according to package directions.

In 9x13 pan, lightly cover with spaghetti sauce.  In a bowl, combine cottage cheese and parmessan cheese.

Then layer in the following order:
3 lasagna noodles
1/2 of cheese mixture
1/3 of sauce
2/3 cup mozzarella and cheddar cheeses
3 noodles
1/2 of cheese mixture
1/3 of sauce
2/3 cup mozzarella and cheddar cheeses
3 noodles
remaining sauce
sprinkle with mozarella, cheddar and parmessan

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

* 16 oz cottage cheese will work but I like lots so I try to buy the 24 oz container.  I generally make lasagna when I can combine a sale and coupon on the 24 oz container to make it really cheap, or when I find one marked down because it's Sell by date is approaching.  I then just make the lasagna to eat within a day or so or I freeze it for some future date (See note about freezing it below).
** I have been trying to eliminate high fructose corn syrup from our foods BUT this sauce is staying, at least for now.  Over the 15 years I've been making lasagna for my husband, I have tried different sauces.  If I use anything but this one, both of us notice the difference and it's just not as good.
*** Mom's original recipe calls for 2 cups of shredded mozarella.  A long time ago, I started using cheddar also.  I never measure either of them.  I just have a package of each and sprinkle what looks good of each on the mozarella layer.

Freezing Note:  When I freeze this, I tend to make it in two 8x8 or 9x9 square pans instead of one 9x13..  This requires more lasagna noodles - last time I used 12 or so but it really needed 1 or 2 more.  So try 14-15 noodles if you're going to make the smaller version.  My family of 4 is easily well fed with an 8x8 or 9x9 and maybe have a piece or two left over.

Chicken Enchiladas

Many years ago, a friend shared her chicken enchilada recipe with me (Thanks Jas!) after she mentioned that's what she making for dinner.  So untasted, I requested the recipe and our family loves it!  I have made a few adjustments to the recipe recently which have made them even better.  Here's my current recipe for you...

Chicken Enchiladas

1 pkg flour tortillas (soft taco or burrito size - your preference or what's on sale)
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz shredded cheddar or mexican blend cheese
1 can Ro-Tel (original works but the Mexican version with cilantro and lime is best)
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken
1/2 recipe Enchilada Sauce (scroll down to the enchilada sauce recipe)

Cook chicken and dice or shred.  Combine chicken, soup, Ro-Tel, 3/4 of the cheese and 1/4-1/2 of the enchilada sauce.

Spray bottom of 9x13 pan.

Put 2-3 large spoonfuls  into each tortilla.  Wrap tortilla around filling and place seam side down in 9x13 pan.  Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas and cover with remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

WFMW - A Wonderful Mother's Day

I had my best Mother's Day this week!  Part of it is due to attitude compared to previous years and part of it was due to prep work.

To explain attitude - as an adult, I've struggled with mother's day.  When I was single and living away from my Mom, it didn't mean much.  Once we started trying to have kids, unsuccessfully, it was a miserable day, more so when attending church.  So much focus on mothers makes it hard when you don't have children and want them.  Thankfully I've noticed that the church has started placing more of an emphasis on women, not specifically those with children, over the past few mother's days.  I also never liked it when they asked all the mothers to stand and then they'd hand out the mothers day goodies.  I was uncomfortable standing up when I wasn't a "mother".

Then Mother's Day at home wasn't great either.  Sometimes my husband forgot.  Or he'd try to make me a meal, but he'd make it the way he likes it, not the way I like it.  As Princess1 has gotten older, she definitely makes Mother's Day important and doesn't let ANYONE forget that it's coming.  As a result, Love doesn't forget anymore.  The presents have also gotten better over the years - Love still struggles at Christmas and birthdays to think of something for me but he's doing really well for Mother's Day (he must pay attention more for Mother's Day).  Sometimes he thinks I'm really weird for what I ask for - a shower head (the one that you can hold and move around, plus has the different streams), an undercounter radio/cd player for the kitchen, etc.  But both of those presents really made my everyday life more enjoyable and for me that's more important than flowers that die 2 weeks later (although I do like flowers too).

This year's present - a hammock for our back yard.   I've wanted one for years and now I have one.  Love and the princesses took me to Lowe's on Saturday (NEVER go to Lowe's on a Saturday and definitely NOT on the Saturday before Mother's Day).  We were going to get peat moss.  But they took me to pick out a hammock first.  We came home and set it up.  So of course, Sunday we were gone all day and then it was to rain on Monday so the hammock had to come down.  Now I need to set it back up again (Love was told to take it down before it rains to help it last longer).

So why is all this a Works for Me Wednesday tip?  Because what I did this year to make my Mother's Day great was to plan my own menu.  Love asked a week ago what I wanted for breakfast on Mother's Day - cinnamon rolls and strawberries.  I had Rhodes Cinnamon Rolls in the freezer - easy, YUMMY.  So I bought strawberries on Friday.  We would be having dinner with my mom, grandmother, sister (and family) and sister-in-law (and family).  I offered to make lasagna (using the cottage cheese I got for cheap, cheap).  So I made lasagna (recipe coming soon) and homemade italian herb bread on Saturday.  This was in addition to working on building our garden.  I also set out the cinnamon rolls to defrost and rise when I went to bed.  Saturday was crazy and exhausting.  But it was SO worth it on Sunday.  Saturday night, my sister stopped by and took the lasagna (layered but not cooked) to Mom's with her.

Sunday morning, my husband just had to put the rolls in the oven and cut up the strawberries.  It was delicious!  Easy!  Low stress for everyone!  And off to church we went.

After church, we picked up Nana (my grandmother) and drove out to the farm to meet everyone.  Mom and my sister put the lasagna in the oven and it had just finished cooking when we arrived.  I threw my bread in the microwave to heat it up.  Mom and my sister had made a salad and my sister-in-law bought some cake and cheesecake.  I had also brought some ice cream.  Again it was delicious!  (I LOVE LOVE LOVE my lasagna.)  It was easy!  And we had a great time visiting and no one spent a whole bunch of time in the kitchen (although Mom did do the dishes - but that would be worth it if you didn't have to do the cooking).

So my Works for Me Wednesday tip, if you can remember it for next year, make your own meal ahead of time and let your husband or family heat it up for you.  Then you relax.

For more Works for Me Wednesday, head to We are THAT Family!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Free to almost free Cover Girl Makeup

I went to Dillon's today (5/11) to catch some deals  (I expect they'll probably be repeated next week - I'm waiting for my ad to arrive to know).

Dillon's is doing the P&G deal where you buy 4 items and get $4 off your order.  I did the deal twice in my transaction.

Here are the great deals I got....

Crest Kids' Hannah Montana toothpaste gel - $2.49 (minus the $1 deal, minus 75 cent coupon, doubled) so 49 cents!  If Princess1 likes this, I'll go buy some more.

Crest ProHealth 4.2 oz toothpaste $2.49 (minus $1 deal, minus 50 cent coupon, doubled) = $0.49

CoverGirl Nail Polish $2.77 (minus $1 deal, minus 2.50/2 any Covergirl products) = $0.52 each

CoverGirl Eye shadow (singles) $2.24 (minus $1 deal, minus $2.50/2 any Covergirl) = FREE

CoverGirl Cheekers (single color) $2.96 (minus $1 deal, minus $2.50/2 any Covergirl) = 0.71 each

CoverGirl powder $4.46 (minus $1 deal, minus $2.50/2 any Covergirl) = $2.21

The initial prices above are sale prices.  I didn't buy 2 of everything; I mixed and matched products.  The coupons are from last week's (5/2) P&G insert in the Sunday paper.  In addition to the $2.50/2 coupon, there is a $1/1 coupon.  You will notice that I bought the single eye shadows.  The quad shadows were $2.77 after the P&G deal so I stuck with the singles since they were free.

If you need them, they also had brushes and sponges that would be free or close to it.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday Meditation - Freedom to Worship

Yesterday during Sacrament meeting, our Stake President made a comment that started me thinking.  He made a comment about being excited to worship this day.  I asked myself Am I excited?  How should I be excited?  I started imagining living in a country where I didn't get to choose which Church to attend, or maybe didn't even get to attend any Church.  Imagine a country where you are punished if you are caught praying, even in your home (examples are in the scriptures).  Imagine a country where you can't talk to others about the Gospel without it being punishable by law.

I worry about where our country is headed.  Many schools have limited dress codes to prevent kids from wearing clothing that would publicize their religious beliefs in case it would offend.  We hear stories of kids being prevented from praying while in the school, even if they aren't trying to get others to participate.  There are many interpretations of what the separation of Church and State means - some thinking that our government can not recognize any organized religion's existence, which in my mind means they are endorsing atheism.  This is not a political blog normally.  And I don't intend for it to become one.  But I have to say stop trying to push a lack of belief in God because by doing so it is definitely violating separation of Church and State.  In my family (parents, siblings), we have a variety of religions yet we are able to function lovingly, recognizing each other's religion as legit and an integral part of how we live our lives.  We have those who don't go to any church so Sunday is basically the same as Saturday in their lives.  We have those who go to Church, but also will shop, go to the lake, etc. on Sunday.  And then we have us Mormons who go to Church and don't shop on Sunday.  When we plan family activities, we look at what everyone's abilities/interests are.  If we're going to gather at someone's home, Sunday is fine and we work around travel schedules and church meetings.  If we want to go out to eat, shopping, an amusement park, etc., we pick a Saturday.  It's called respect.  And I am blessed to have that with my family.  That's what our founding fathers intended with the separation of Church and State - not requiring everyone to believe the same thing and not punishing someone for believing different than you.

I get tired of being told that I'm intolerant because of what I believe.  I'm not forcing you to believe as I do, don't try to make me accept your decisions as acceptable for my family.  And I will vote my conscious.  Today, I have that right as do you.  I won't threaten you or harrass you if the vote doesn't go my way.  I love that we have the right to vote and make our voices heard.  And then we need to accept that vote.  If we don't like it, then we can continue to work to get our opinion heard and change things.

Sorry for the soap-box diversion.  Back to my thoughts from yesterday.  Looking at my life, I think too often I have taken for granted my right to attend the church of my choice.  I do tend to attend every week.  But do I celebrate that ability?  Do I wake up on Sunday morning excited to get ready to attend Sacrament meeting and worship?  Or am I bogged down by all the preparations of getting my family out the door with everything we need, trying to be on time..  Do I truly praise the Lord?  I know that I seek to learn what I need to learn from the lessons.

When we go to a party at a friend's house, everyone tends to walk in happy, joyful, excited to be there and celebrate.  We should have a similar joy, excitement to attend our church services.  We can do this!  There are currently places in this world where you can't.  This is one of our freedoms.  Not only do we need to work to protect it through political means, we need to celebrate it through spiritual means.  Let Heavenly Father know you appreciate that right by exercising it and by telling Him in your prayers.

And if you are reading this blog and don't happen to believe in Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father or you don't belong to the same Church that I do, or you believe but don't think that requires attending a Church, this still applies to you.  You can still celebrate and honor and protect the right you have in the United States to follow that personal belief.

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own cconscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.  11th Article of Faith

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

WFMW - Good, Better, Best

A few years ago, Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave a conference talk entitled "Good, Better, Best".  This talk really has changed my life and I use the principle he taught CONSTANTLY.  It applies to everything in our lives.  How we spend our time, what items we have in our home, what we purchase, what we eat.  Everything.

I'm in the process of purging our home and we're using this principle again.  I want simple.  I want less stuff so that I can take care of the stuff we have.  I don't want to settle for the Good - I want the Better and the Best.

I started this process with my daughters' room.  We pulled out all the toys, all the books, all the stuffed animals and will be pulling out all the clothes.  Books and stuffed animals were easy - We laid out the books ALL over the living room.  I had no idea how many books we had!  Then I had each girl pick their favorite 5 books.  And we repeated that until they had each picked 20 books.  I had them look at the remaining books - "Are there any books that you are going to be broken hearted over more than the ones you have in your keep pile?"  Princess1 swapped out 1 or 2 books.  Princess2 had to have some help with swapping out some books that we wanted to keep for ones that we didn't feel were the Better or the Best (sorry Dora books).

I put away the books we decided to keep - about 100.  And then I laid out the remaining books all over my couch and took pictures.  They were then posted on Craigslist to sell them.  My husband and I picked $20 to sell them.  He wasn't confident we could do that.  But then I counted the books as I put them into boxes - just over 100 books!  So I made sure the Craigslist ad said there were 100 books - so 20 cents per book.  I had SO many responses to this post.  But the more important part - we are moving closer to the Better and Best and simplifying our home and lives.

Interestingly - the girls have 1/2 the books they used to have and are reading MORE!

We did the same thing with the stuffed animals.  When I gathered them all up, I had 2+ large garbage sacks full of stuffed animals.  The girls picked their favorites - about 5 "large" and 3-4 "small" stuffed animals.  It's just enough that will fit in a single file across the foot of their beds.  The rest?  I recently heard that the local Juvenile courts will accept stuffed animal donations to give to children who have to go through the courts.  We experienced this ourselves when our adoptions were finalized and the girls loved receiving their animals.  So I suggested this to our family and the answer was a resounding "Yes!".  Now I just need to call the Court and find out when I can bring them the stuffed animals.

Why is this working when previous attempts to clean out didn't?  1) The girls are involved in picking the Better and Best items to keep.  2)  I've asked the girls if they like cleaning up everything that gets scattered all over their room.   Their answer is no.  So let's have less stuff that we need to clean up - their response "Okay!"  3) The items we're not keeping are leaving our home quickly and are not given the chance to make it back into circulation.

So I have been successful with the books and stuffed animals.  Toys are still making it out of the box where they are being stashed.  The problem with them is I'm trying to find all the pieces/parts for the girls to be able to pick their favorites and then to either sell or donate the remaining.  Guess I better get the remaining rooms done to find those parts.  And do it now!

This process is working for Me!  For more Works for Me Wednesday, check out We Are THAT Family!