Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Pizza Burger Mix :: Easy Large Family Lunch

Seems just when breakfast is finally cleaned up everyone is hungry for lunch.  And whether you have 3 kids or 12 staring at you wondering what's for lunch, having something quick and easy is a necessity.  This Pizza Burger Mix is quick and easy to prepare and keeps well in the fridge for 1 week or frozen for 3 months.

Pizza Burger Mix
1 lb. hamburger
1 medium onion chopped
3/4 t. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 can tomato soup
1/2 t. oregano
2 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
1 c. shredded Mozzarella cheese
Chopped black olives, optional

Brown burger, onions, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Drain grease if needed.  In medium bowl mix together soup and oregano, add meat mixture.  Cool slightly.  Add cheese (and olives) and stir gently.  Spread mix on split English muffins and broil 4 inches from heat for about 5 minutes.  We like ours quite dark on top and the muffin nicely toasted.  Makes enough to spread on one 6 pack of muffins - 12 pizza burgers.

Favorite Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

When I make these I always double or triple the recipe.  Warren and Nick can and will eat 4 pizza burgers at one meal.

Affiliate Links included in post.  I make Pizza Burgers in this vlog.

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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Quick & Easy Chocolate Torte

This delicious and super simple Chocolate Torte is highlighted on today's vlog.  This recipe is from my mother-in-law's hand typed recipe binder.  It can be made as lemon torte or Warren's favorite, chocolate torte.

Chocolate (or Lemon) Torte
1 pkg. dry cake mix (chocolate or lemon)
1 cup flaked coconut
2 T. water
1/4 c. melted butter
1 egg

Mix all together and pat into greased 9x13 pan.  Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes.

1 large pkg. chocolate or lemon instant pudding
Handful of toasted coconut

Prepare pudding, pour over baked crust.  Then cool completely.  Frost with 8 oz. container of Cool Whip.  Garnish with toasted coconut.  Chill.  Keep leftovers refrigerated.

That's it!  Not much to it.  Vlog can be seen here.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

New Vlog | Day in the Life | Cooking & Swimming

On today's vlog I shared my plan to make chicken salad, chicken fried rice, dirty rice, and taco meat.  I also had big plans of making a couple desserts, rhubarb dessert and chocolate torte.  Even though I never actually got to my big cooking day until the next day, I'm sharing all these family favorite recipes with you because they are all super simple and make for easy homeschool lunches or short on time suppers.  Large family life is unpredictable most days, but that doesn't mean I need to give up completely, but just postpone my plans for another day.

Click here for the recipe and to see how I make Chicken Salad.

Chicken Fried Rice
This recipe is so delicious, but a little bit putsy.  If the chicken is pre-cooked and all the vegetables diced then it goes much smoother.  Although, I always double this, I'll post the original recipe and you can decide how many "batches" will feed your family.  We can polish off a double batch in one sitting.

Mix together and let sit:
2 cups diced cooked chicken
2 T. soy sauce

Heat oil in skillet (I use an extra large electric fry skillet).
1/3 cup oil
1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
Add rice to hot oil and stir fry until rice has browned nicely.

Add broth and vegetables.
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 small onion, diced
1/4 c. chopped green pepper
1/4 c. thinly sliced celery (we like more)
Cover and cook until rice is tender (20-25 minutes)
Uncover and cook a little longer until moisture is absorbed.

Add chicken/soy sauce mixture.
Push everything to one side.
Whisk 2 eggs and pour into open side.  Let cook just until the bottom is set and top is still liquid.  Stir eggs.  Cook a little longer and then mix throughout rice/chicken.

Shred or thinly slice 2 cups lettuce.  Stir into chicken fried rice and cover just until lettuce is wilted.  Serve immediately with extra soy sauce if desired.  Yummy!!

Dirty Rice
This is simply a box mix I get from Aldi.  I always make two boxes and add 1 large onion to the meat as it cooks.

Taco Meat
Here's a video of how I make taco seasoning and taco meat.

1 lb. ground venison (or beef)
1 medium onion OR 1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 cup water

Fry meat, add spices and water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer for about 10 minutes or less if you're in a hurry.  Then I always add a can of re-fried beans and extra water to get desired consistency.

Questions regarding large family cooking?  Add them to the comments.

Favorite large family meals?  Add those to the comments, too.

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Weekly Meal Prep for the Large Family

Nine people.

Three meals a day.

Seven days a week.

189 individual meals a week.   Plus snacks.

Those numbers can be daunting to even the most experienced kitchen hand.  But they don't have to be.

Preparing meals for the large family begins with a plan.  It doesn't have to be on a fancy spreadsheet.  It doesn't have to be well balanced (kids don't care).  It just has to be written down.  Currently, I'm using this great little notebook (affiliate link) I won at a bridal shower.  I write LUNCH on the top of one page and SUPPER on the top of a second page.  I write the days of the week with a few lines in between and then just start filling it in.  Once all the days have meals, I tear out the sheets and clip them to the side of a magazine holder on my kitchen counter.

So let's go through this step by step.  Find a notebook or dry erase board or chalk board or blank calendar.....whatever it is you desire to write up your meal plan.

Label the pages.

Start adding meal ideas.  My best tips are to look at your calendar and pick meals that will work with your schedule for that day and have a mix of everyone's favorites.  I like to try new recipes, but I spread them out between family favorites, usually. πŸ˜‰

Keep this part simple.  For lunch I might plan hot dogs and applesauce.  Then on the day of I'll throw in any other leftovers if I have them.  And if I don't have any extras to add, it's really no big deal because I have a basic plan and there's nothin' wrong with a basic lunch.  Same goes for supper.  If I'm planning Taco Tuesday, I'll write tacos and rice, then when I'm making supper I'll look around for some canned fruit or cottage cheese to add to it.  And again, if I don't have anything extra to add, no biggie, tacos and rice is plenty.
Sometimes I mix up the meals because a day turns out differently than expected.  In that case, I just cross off the meals I use so I always know what's still available.

Of course, now you make a shopping list and shop.

The fun part is having a cooking day.  I really like cooking everything for the entire week on one day.  I also prep veggies, cheese, muffins and desserts, and fruits.  It simply makes the rest of the week go so much smoother having all the meals prepped.  This summer it's been Monday.  The four teens all work and I'm left with just the three youngest and they can usually keep themselves busy playing/destroying the house for quite a while.  I shared a little of my last cooking day here.  I had another cooking day today.

I focused on ground venison recipes:  2 pounds taco meat, 2 pounds tater tot casserole, 4 pounds BBQ.  I also shredded cheese, chopped veggies for tacos and made 2 dozen cranberry blueberry muffins and cranberry cake.  I planned, but didn't get to, boiling and mashing 5 pounds potatoes and making Cole slaw.  Tomorrow's another day with one dental appointment and BMX practice with a lot of hours in between so hopefully I'll get to it then.

Make the most of your cooking day.

Thaw meat the day before.

Start with a clean kitchen.  Didn't happen today.  Yesterday the pump (we think) went out on our dishwasher.  I ran the same load with the same dishwasher pod three times.  I was in denial.  Then this morning I unloaded it all and washed it by hand; after an hour of kitchen cleanup I was ready to start cooking.

Put on comfy clothes and shoes.  Maybe I'm showing my age, but supportive shoes go a long way to a productive day.

Wear an apron.  I find that whenever I put on an apron I just feel more like getting it done.  Since I wipe my hands on my apron and even wipe up little spills with it, I don't have to waste time rinsing and wringing out washcloths.

Listen to a good podcast.  Homeschool Snapshots  The Homeschool Solutions Show

Think about all the fun you'll have with your family because your meals are ready to go.

Happy Summer!  I hope and pray you are all having a great summer and finding ways to renew and relax.  πŸŒž

Monday, July 10, 2017

Why I Started Ordering Household Supplies From Walmart

The mention of Walmart brings one of two reactions:

1.  Ugh.  It's so huge; it takes me forever to get through the store.

2.  Love it.  Love the prices.  Love that I can get everything (almost) in one place.

I side more with the second reaction, unless of course I'm toting along three youngsters.  Then I'm more like ugh!

I've seen a lot of hype online about ordering household supplies from Walmart.  Amazon vs. Walmart price wars has also been a headliner in the news.  So I knew I had to check it out.  I've been an Amazon Prime member for years.  I've used the Subscribe & Save feature, the 2-day free Prime Shipping option, and Amazon Pantry.

Even though I was already familiar with the Amazon way, I really wanted to check out Walmart.com because I buy most of our household supplies and a few specific grocery items at Walmart every month.  I typically head into town for one giant grocery shopping trip to Aldi and then drive South to the Walmart.  

It's not such a bad gig if I'm alone or with only teens, but with the younger ones it pretty much adds up to misery.  They want to sit in the cart, but there's no room.  They don't want to sit in the cart, but they're getting into the way of other shoppers.  They have to go potty.  They're thirsty.  They want ice cream and cookies and fruit loops and a papaya and yogurt tubes and, and, and.....

Two or three hours of shopping just isn't their thing.

Enter Walmart.com 2-day free shipping.

I've been placing orders since May, I think.  And I have it down pat now.

Here's how I use Walmart.com to order our household needs for a family of nine.

Most importantly is I have an account that I stay logged into.  Then instead of writing down items we're running low on, I just go straight to Walmart.com, shop for the item I need, place it in my cart, and then go about my day like nothing happened.  Adding to my cart instead of writing on a list has revolutionized my shopping.  I'm always watching for things that we're getting low on instead of waiting until we're out and running to the store.  I've only had to make one stop at Walmart and that was to get a few meat items and some jeans.  But, guess what?  Now that I know what size, style, and brand works for Nick, I can just order him another pair of jeans.

Right now my cart looks like this:

When I have enough for free shipping, I hit the purchase now button and in a couple of days my items arrive at my front door.

I use scrip to support our church and this still works perfectly.  I purchase our monthly Walmart budget amount in scrip cards and then use them to pay for my online order.  It's so simple!

So that's how I've been ordering household supplies from Walmart.  Here's a look at my latest shipment.

This last order was divided into a number of boxes.  I do understand separating food from cleaning supplies, but this seemed a little over the top.

Box #1 - pretty full

Box #2 - huge box, not much in it, a couple boxes were squashed (didn't have any effect on the contents)

Box #3 - not too full

Box #4 - another big box for not a lot of stuff

Box #5 and #6 - Really?

Here's a look at what was actually in all those boxes.

A few squashed boxes, but nothing that hurt the product inside.

I buy most groceries at Aldi, but there's always a few things I can't get there like:  coffee, Knorr seasoning, corn starch, bulk black peppercorns, self-rising flour (I'm reading the Rachel Yoder books to Peter and Maria, Rachel makes a birthday cake for her brother and the recipe is included in the book.  They want to bake the cake so I bought self-rising flour)

Joseph and Maria packed it all back up and got it into 2 medium sized boxes.  I'm sure Walmart has their reasons for separating it out into so many boxes and I still got free 2-day shipping.  Ordering this way has been such a time saver.  The closest Walmart is 30 minutes from home making home delivery quite a treat.

Shopping this way has also saved us money.  The typical quick trip to Walmart for a few things can easily turn into a long, pricey excursion with endcap specials and unnecessary extras.

Have you made the jump to online ordering?  Yes?  No?  Why or why not?  Share your experiences with me and all my other readers.  We'd all love to hear about them.