Sunday, May 20, 2018

Bedtime Books | Go to Sleep, Sheep! book GIVEAWAY

I don't know about you, but bedtime at our house can turn into complete chaos in an instant.  Take last night for example.  The evening was moving along normally.  I was planning out next year's curriculum so Warren took the four youngest fishing.  Emily was gone.  Nick was working on his truck and Amber was working.  The house was QUIET!!!

I was working at wrapping things up so I could get out the pajamas and put toothpaste on the toothbrushes when Peter came running in with a full bucket of Perch.  He and Maria were each telling stories about fish caught and lost and how they out-fished Dad...at the same time.  It was loud and completely disrupted my nice peaceful evening.

One look at the clock told me it was going to be a late night.  There were fish to clean, toys to pick up, and bodies to bathe.  All while the kiddos were hyped up and reliving every fish's story.

Warren cleaned each and every fish while Peter jabbered a mile a minute, the toys were put back onto the shelves and I filled the tub with kids and soap disregarding age and gender.  Everything got done.

The kids know we always read bedtime stories so they each had a pile of books, but I just wasn't up for it.  The clocked showed it was past 9:00 and I still had a few things on my to do list.  Joseph opened a book and said, "read, Mama."  So I described a few of the pictures and then it was prayer time and lights out.

But you know what, it didn't feel right.  I missed our snuggle time where they dishevel my bed blankets and whine about their book being read first.  A routine is a routine and life doesn't feel the same when that routine isn't followed.

Tonight we're going to sit down to a pile of books (even if it's late I keep telling myself).  One of the books we'll definitely read is Go to Sleep, Sheep!  It's a super cute book about sheep who just don't want to go to sleep.  They're not tired, they're hungry, they're thirsty, they want tuck in time.  Sound familiar???  As Mama urges them to go to sleep they meet up with all the other barnyard animals, too.  But, after they pray and snuggle in the hay they finally fall asleep.

We love farm books so this board book, although new, is already a favorite.  Maria especially loves it.

Frontgate Media sent me a copy to review and they also have 5 copies to giveaway on 6/10/18.

Don't be shy, click here to enter to win one of 5 copies of Go to Sleep, Sheep!


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Sunday, April 8, 2018

Homemade Granola Bars {Large Family Food on a Budget}

Yikes!  Granola bar prices just keep going up at Aldi.  It was time to leave those grab and go snacks on the grocery store shelves and make our own.  Like just about everything I do in the kitchen we did this big time.  At last count we made a total of 80+ bars and one bowl of delicious granola chunks.  But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Amber and I spent some time on Pinterest looking for granola bar recipes similar to the kind I've been buying.  We settled on four recipes, grabbed our coats (and Joe) and headed to the grocery stores for all the ingredients. 

I'll share links to each recipe and any changes we made.  We doubled all the recipes because we're a lot of people.

5 Ingredient Dark Chocolate Almond & Coconut Homemade KIND Bars {Beaming Baker}

I have to be honest after mixing these up I had my doubts as to how they would turn out.  Come on nuts, coconut, salt and maple syrup will some how turn into granola bars???  Yes, some how it happened and they were delicious.  They turned out very crunchy, yet chewy in the middle.  So good!!  These were by far my favorite.  However, we did not dip them in chocolate or add the chocolate drizzle - they just didn't need any more sweetness.  They also didn't cut well into bars.  I think I was only able to get about 6 bars; the rest cracked and crumbled into what we ended up calling granola bites.  We gobbled it up in one sitting and I have BIG plans on making this again with other nuts and 85% chocolate bits.

Homemade Granola Bars:  No-Bake {Creations by Kara}

Kid friendly describes these to a "T".  No nuts, no dried fruit just regular chocolate chip granola bar stuff with flax hidden deep within the peanut butter and brown sugar.  Emily and Amber doubled this recipe and pressed it into my Nordic Ware 1/2 sheet pan
They were very thick and once cooled, set and wrapped made for a very filling snack.  The kids ate these up so fast.  Next time I really need to "quad" the recipe which would be so easy to do.

Blueberry Vanilla Greek Yogurt Granola Bars {Half Baked Harvest}

These were definitely the most putsy of all the recipes and if we'd made them correctly it would've taken 5 days to be completely finished.  My crew doesn't want to wait that long for any food even a super yummy granola bar.  So after freezing them down we simply put on the greek yogurt frosting drizzle and didn't do the dipping.  I'm sure they would've held together better if dipped, but they still got eaten up.  Oh, and I substituted what else, cranberries for half the blueberries.

Homemade Clif Bars {Liv Lives Life}

These were sticky so we packaged them in snack size baggies, then stored in fridge.  Maybe because they were in the fridge they didn't get eaten as fast as the others.  Nick took complete advantage of that eating nearly every one himself.

How much did we actually save?

Well.  Granola bars at Aldi range anywhere from $0.16 each for the basic up to $1.00+ each for the knock-off Clif and Kind bars.  Since I added all ingredients and divided by the total number of bars my average price per bar is.......

1 Homemade granola bar = $0.30 or less even with the expensive box of cereal added in.😉

This was really a fun day spent in the kitchen with a number of my kids.  It was loud and chaotic, but isn't anything when moms, teens, and littles are involved??? 

Want a peek into our granola bar escapade check out our YouTube video.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Venison Pepper Steak {Stove Top Recipe}

I think the second time Warren cooked for me (way back in our dating days) he made Pepper Steak.  I really liked it, but if you know me, when it comes to food I can't leave well enough alone.  I'm always trying new twists on old recipes.

Somehow (Pinterest) I found this recipe.  The picture sucked me in and since I'm always on the lookout for new ways to use all the deer we put up each year, I just had to try this version of Pepper Steak using venison.   I also adapted the recipe slightly for my large sized family.

Original Recipe is credited to South Your Mouth blog.

Here's my adaptation.

Venison Pepper Steak  (serves 8-12)

3 lbs. venison steak, sliced very thin (1/4" or less)
5 T. soy sauce
2 t. black pepper
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
2 green peppers, thinly sliced
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 t. minced jarred garlic

2 brown gravy packets
1/2 t. ginger paste
1 t. black pepper
2 cups cold water
4 T. soy sauce

Here's the process for those of you who like written details.  Remember the video explanation is on YouTube.

Slice meat into thin (1/4") pieces.  The length of strips doesn't really matter.  For the tenderest meat cut across the grain (opposite the muscle fibers) 🤔

Slice all the veggies, too.  Set aside until the end.  But don't wait until the end.  Once you start the cooking process this goes very quickly so everything needs to be ready.  If you have a helpful teen around they could cut the veggies while you slice the meat.  Just saying.

Make the sauce mixture.  Set aside, but stir it a couple of times while doing other things.

Here's the Ginger paste I use.  It really add fullness and richness to the overall flavor. (Similar item at Amazon) I bought mine at Walmart.

Heat very large cast iron skillet (link to mine) with a few T. lard.

Add all the meat at once.  It should sizzle fiercely.  Let meat cook for a couple of minutes, then stir around until done.  Transfer to warm bowl.  Foil.  Set aside.

Add veggies and garlic to skillet.  Stir fry for about 4 minutes.  

Add meat and sauce mix to veggies.  Cook until sauce thickens.  This happens in under 1 minute.  Turn heat off.  Serve over hot rice, which I should tell you to start cooking right away so you're not messing with it while you're stirring, transferring, and focusing on the pepper steak.

This is so incredible.  The venison stays so moist and is ultra tender.  Enjoy!!!😋

For the full video click here.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Mock Chop Suey {Large Family Food}

I love old time favorites when it comes to recipes. This one's been in the family for 60+ years.

Mock Chop Suey

1 1/2 pound ground beef (I use venison)
2 onions, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup water
4 T. chop suey sauce (soy sauce)
1 can cream of mushroom
1 can cream of chicken
1/2 cup uncooked regular rice
salt and pepper
1 bag chow mein noodles

Brown meat, onions and celery in bacon grease (or lard).  Place in large casserole.  Add remaining ingredients except noodles; mix well.  Bake, covered, at 325 degrees for 1 hour, 20 minutes.  Remove cover; top with chow mein noodles.  Bake for 10 minutes longer until noodles have crisped.

I like to save on dishes by browning the meat and baking the casserole in the same pot.  I use Lodge Enameled Cast Iron all the time.

I have the YouTube version of this recipe available, too.

Share your favorite frugal family casserole in the comments below.  I'd love to try out a new recipe or two.