Thursday, August 25, 2011

Beans, Beans What do do with Beans? HUMMUS

Have you ever had hummus? I am unsure of how prevalent it is, my mom used to make it when I was younger to put on pitas, but I had never heard of it outside of home until about 6 years ago when I worked for Challenger School. Right next to our school was a "Great Harvest" and they sold the BEST sandwiches I have ever had.. HUMMUS SANDWICH. I had their grain bread, and they would put a layer of hummus, then provolone cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, grated carrots and sprouts on the sandwich and I'm telling you... HEAVEN in between bread. It was sooo good! I found out later that the hummus they used was sold at Costco for a pretty reasonable price... but when you know what it is, it's hard to spend much money on it..

Garbanzo Beans.
Yup! That REALy is what hummus is made of. Puree'd garbanzo beans. It seriously takes less than 10 minutes to make a few jars worth and you are set. It's a GREAT replacement for expensive nitrate filled lunch meats....(... I can't help but to use that expensive nitrate filled, brown sugar ham lunch meat on egg ham and cheese sandwiches though.. you win some, you loose some, right? :) hehehe) It's also an excellent dip for chips and crackers, vegetables or you can serve it the way my mom did.. spread on pita bread with a few garnishes = SO simple and SO good! :)

My mom's Hummus
I'm starting to think this should be her blog with how many of her recipes are on here! :) See how wonderful it is to have a mother to teach you these things? I so want to be that way for my children :)

I am totally bummed about this picture - I had a really pretty one taken and i somehow deleted it... Sorry for the "blah" factor - It really is good, I swear! :)

1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans

6-8 green olives

1/4 c olive oil

2 T tahini

Italian parsley


Put it all into a food processor, pure' and ..taaa daaa!! Hummus! I alter it to my taste - this is a great recipe and you can also use it as a base then tweak it to your liking! - I like to add a little lemon juice, garlic, cilantro, and red onion instead of the parsley ... MMMMM...Sam and Claire BOTH love this. I think Mike could eat the whole jar plain. :) hehe. I don't always have all of the vegetables for the Great Harvest hummus sandwich, but we usually put peppers, tomatoes and cheddar or pepperjack cheese and it is amazing -

I hope you enjoy! This really is so much healthier then what the norm is, it tastes fabulous and is SOOOOO inexpensive! :)

PS - If you don't know what Tahini is, it looks like this and you can find it at regular grocery stores, I got this at Smiths :).

Tahini was created in the middle east and it's simply a paste made from ground sesame seeds.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Cleanliness is Close to Godliness": Homemade Body Wash

I totally wish I had some visuals for you! I am again "nap time blogging" and the naps are VERY close to being over! But I wanted to get this posted!

This is so simple. There are three general ways to go about this that I know of. The first option is not so frugal, but natural and better for your skin. People use essential oils, real shea butter, real flower petals.. etc... how awesome! :) I won't be posting the recipes that I have found for this though! This is a blog about being frugal and being REAL. I know, I know, those ingredients are SO REAL.... but where I am at in life right now, REAL to me is that I have about 5 or less minutes to devote to making body wash... So! Feel free to google them! There are a lot of really awesome recipes out there! :)
In most places I found that people go and buy inexpensive shampoo.. like Suave or inexpensive baby shampoo and mix it with water and Epsom salt. Interesting hu? But! A lot of people do this and swear by it -

1 c shampoo

1/2 c water

3 T Epsom or table salt

The 3rd way is probably the most cost effective and simple. This is what I like :) - I just get my favorite smelling bar soap... I personally like to be "Zestfully Clean" or feel like I've just bathed in an "Irish Spring." hehehe :) - The smell smells SO clean to me... maybe not so luxurious, but it does the job!:).If you like to pamper yourself every once in a while, buy a body wash you love and only use it when you are pampering yourself - the rest of the time, this does the job! :)

- I grate 1/2 to 3/4 of the bar and place in a container and fill the container with really hot water to the 18 oz mark, give it a really good shake or stir, then I let it sit over night to gel. You may need to tweak it to make it the consistency you want- then put it in a convenient bottle and Voila! Homemade body wash 20 oz for 10-20 cents! Can't beat that! There is no science to this, so just mess with the portions until you have a consistency you like :) I've known that bar soap is the least expensive way to go, but I always have the image of soap that is supposed to be white but the person who used it before you left it a bubble brown. Ew. Body wash really does go further than bar soap anyway! :) I know! SO simple right?? It's amazing how much we really can do on our own!

Now - of course I would rather use fancy body wash - but there is a time and a season for everything! - As much as I love Tide, fancy body wash, expensive clothes, CONVENIENCE - those things are out of season for me :) - In this season, I want to make sure I do all I can for my family to ensure a secure future. - It's certainly not the easy road, and I LOVE EASY, but it's worth it! I promise! :)

Happy showering!! :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chicken Fajitas - EASY, FAST, SO GOOD.

(okay, i didn't take this picture.. i totally forgot to, but here's a visual for ya any way! :) Is that a beer in the background? ha!)

So, I had a few red peppers that were starting to moan from my fridge... they were getting a little sad and were close to being thrown out - I could NOT let that happen. - I've been fortunate enough that my son LOVES peppers. He eats them like apples. Buuuttt.. you can really only have so many peppers. I was racking my brain to think of a recipe I could use the rest of them all at once when I remembered a recipe for Chicken Fajitas I came across a while back. I couldn't find the recipe, but honestly, you don't really need one :).

Have you ever made these? I haven't had too many good fajita experiences, so I was a little leery, but Mike LOVES them. I had never made them before, but I wanted to give it a try.

SO-oOOO good! And SO EASY. I feel kind of silly, you are all probably pros at Fajitas, but this was my first try, and to the rest of you, who like me had never thought to make them... here is an AWESOME recipe I put together.


1 Chicken Breast cut in 1 inch strips (remember to slice the chicken laterally, then slice into one inch strips)

About 6-7 medium sized mushrooms slicked thick

2 Red bell peppers sliced

1/2 medium sized yellow onion sliced

2 T butter

2 T oil (I used olive)

1/4 c water

1/4 c flour (wheat or regular)

1 Fajita seasoning packet ( Keepin' it real here.. I just used a walmart brand packet, and it was still AWESOME)

6 inch flour (wheat or white) tortillas

Heat oil and butter at medium high heat in large frying pan. Chop up all vegetables and chicken and place it in the frying pan. Toss too cook. Add the fajita packet and keep tossing. The goal is to have thoroughly cooked chicken and tender vegetables. Once it looks tender, add 1/4 c water, then 1/8-1/4 c flour and continue to toss until well Incorporated. Turn heat to low and serve on 6 inch flour tortillas. It is delicious with cheddar cheese and sour cream. I didn't have avocados, but sliced avocados would've been awesome as a topping as well :). This seriously was SO fast and SO easy. Sammy, Claire and Mike devoured this ... and so did I! - Serves 4-5. -- Not bad for just ONE chicken breast ay? I hope you enjoy!

Monday, August 8, 2011

"Let the Record Show......"

Did you guys ever watch the Cosby Show? I LOVE that show. "Mrs. Huxtable" (I'm drawing a blank to her first name) always said "Let the Record Show" when she was trying to clear something up! :) ... So... I have to say something that has been bothering me.... I am always so worried I am giving the impression that I have a handle on all of this! - I decided to start this blog to help me on my journey to being more real.... I am finding AWESOME things that have really helped my family... Buuuutt... I am SO far from perfect at it all. I am just learning. :) Real life is so unpredictable ... No matter how well you planned your menu or how hard you tried... what ever... life happens :) --- I guess the goal is making an attempt and going in the right direction and being more aware of your daily decisions. I hope that is more encouraging that discouraging. That's all! :) Have a fabulous night.....

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Monthly Menu Plan.

A few of you have been wondering about my monthly menu plan. - Before I begin, I have to tell you that this month was a flop. I had my sweet Sam "take care" of the shopping list/menu list while we were at Costco, instead of poking my Claire Bear to death. - Well.. it was "death" to the month's menu because when we got back into the car and on our way to the grocery store we realized he had dropped it somewhere. - Mistakes happen - I tried my hardest to remember what was on the list, but once I wrote it down, I forgot it. Just keepin' it real.- So! We are making due with what we have to avoid MORE shopping trips.. better luck next time right? ---- I still feel able to post on the subject because I DO this and it has proven to be VERY helpful and save LOTS of time, effort, energy and money.
Monthly menu planning does a few wonderful things. - One - You only have to go major grocery shopping ONCE A MONTH!! What? How cool is that? - Not only does that save on headaches, but it saves SO much money with gas and impulse buys. Any way - I say major, because you will still need to go once every week or two to pick up the fresh produce you will need for your recipes- but these are fast ONLY get what you need for your menu stops. It's a good idea to have your husband stop at the store on his way home from work to pick up the list of produce for you. That way you save in gas, unnecessary purchases and headaches with the kiddos ;). Have you ever felt like this? :The only problem with this picture is that the lady is smiling... maybe I shouldn't put that on a REAL blog :) hehehe... just kidding. Shopping can be fun, and it was when it was just Sam and I could strap him in... but let's be honest.. now, that is a rare occasion.
Now, before I get into how I put my menu plan together, you have to know.. this is a REAL menu plan. "Plan" meaning, plan for days where you don't feel like cooking. Remember that just because you are on a tight budget does not mean that you have to throw out some of your more expensive meals. Having a plan gives you the control. For example. If you know that your husband's birthday is coming up, or you just want to go out to eat some time... just have less expensive meals prior to make up the difference. (This is where getting familiar with the millions of ways to use beans comes in handy) Same thing with more expensive recipes. Another thing, the glory of only going shopping once a month is that you have enough ingredients to make a months worth of different dishes! One of the reasons I don't make a cute, fancy menu sheet is because I know I will end up making changes as life can be pretty unpredictable.... changes are okay! For example, if it has been one of "those" days and you don't feel like making the meal you have planned, draw an arrow to switch nights with another meal and follow through. You have 30 meals you can make, just make sure to make one of them and you are still following your plan! We have to plan for REAL life. If something comes up and you don't have time to make the dinner you planned, keep burrito stuff on hand and eat that instead and save the ingredients for the meal for next month (of course I would swap things to make sure the ingredients to the recipe I don't make are non perishable.)

Do you need a potty break? Maybe get a glass of water? This is turning into a novel. I'll wait.............

My menu plan is NOTHING fancy.... I Just draw lines to make a sort of calender, put the dates in each box and make a plan. Like I said, changes happen and if I spend time making something cute, I want it to stay cute.. not be messed up with a lot of scribbled out words and arrows :) - I have heard of people making stickers or magnets with all of their recipes and organizing it that way, I just haven't had time to and this seems to work for me :) - Do what works best for you! :)
The trick that I find helpful in menu planning is making a "theme" for each night of the week, for example: Monday nights at our house is "breakfast for dinner" night. That one stays consistent, but the rest change each month. You can have an Italian Tuesday, Mexican Wednesday, Comfort Food Thursday, Vegetarian Friday, Soup Saturday and Sunday Meal Sunday. This takes the overwhelming feeling out of the process. (I learned this from "The Food Nanny" on the BYU channel. :).. not my favorite show, but I have learned a few things from it :). hehe.) Here is an example of what I mean:

You didn't know how serious I was when I said it wasn't fancy hu? :) (as I was posting the picture I noticed a few spelling errors. I was multi tasking while planning the lesson..apparently spelling wasn't a priority.. hehehe)- Do you see how useful it is to have themes? You just need to pick 4 or 5 recipes from each group .. that seems easier then thinking of 30 recipes of whatever. Waiting until the last minute to decide what to make for dinner was always a "recipe for disaster" for me, Like the Food Nanny says ... 1/2 the battle of making dinner is deciding what to make.
Now! Dinner is ONLY one meal of the day. You still have snacks, breakfasts, lunches, desserts to make, etc..... I am a lot less organized with those because they seem to be easier to do. Knowing I have a stocked pantry of hot cereals that I rotate through out the week along with toast, eggs, fruit, and other things so I don't need to plan toooo much for that meal. (cereal can be so expensive, even when it's on a super sale... a dollar a box is still much more expensive than what you can get out of hot cereals.) - Lunch can be leftovers, sandwiches, kabobs... the list goes on, still not too hard. - BUT, if you are only going shopping once a month, you need to make sure you account for these meals on your shopping list as well. Just make a quick list of things you eat and rotate them through out the month - At the begining of the week I write a 'plan' for breakfast and lunch for the week, but not for shopping, just to keep my head on straight.
Look over your budget and decide what you have to spend for groceries ... make sure to define what "groceries" mean in your budget. For some it is just food, for others it is every thing you get at the store, and for some it's everything other than gas and bills. - Just make sure you know what it is. - Then take the amount of cash for the month and don't spend a cent more. With your shopping trips, be sure to save money to be used through out the month for produce. Having the cash on hand (something I am really working on implementing, but not perfect yet) really helps. It's not a magic card connected to all of your income, it is what it is. X amount. It keeps you in the right mind when you see that 75 cent candy bar or the SUBWAY sign because you also see money disappearing. You know that if you spend 8 bucks on Subway, it's 8 dollars less you have to spend on fresh healthy produce, or meat for your family.

It does take self control (again, something I am SOOO working at.. it's all about the journey right? :) hehe) - But where and when did we turn "self control" into a bad word? Think about it..... SELF CONTROL ...... YOU have CONTROL -

That's the goal right?

GOOD LUCK TO YOU!!!! :) :) :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Butters in the Kitchen: Mango Salsa

HOLEY MOLEY.... You HAVE to check this recipe out!!

Blue Skies Ahead!

I LOVE the "good" of the internet - Through this blog, I want to share some of the "gem" websites that I have found - There is so much talent and know-how out there ...... Here is one AMAZING blog!

"ABOUT ME: Tonii
Welcome to Blue Skies Ahead! This is my place to celebrate the ups and downs of motherhood, marriage, and all the stuff in between that makes life so fun! I am passionate about enjoying my life, exactly where it is RIGHT NOW! I love to come up with ways to better organize my life, fun treats, activities to teach and motivate my children and so much more. Thank you so much for stopping by!View my complete profile "

You HAVE to visit my Sister in Law's blog!! It is truly a treasure! She is one of the most sincere and REAL people I know. Her blog is FULL .. of wonderful FHEs (did I say wonderful? Because I meant AMAZING!!! If anything, check out her FHEs! :).. and her.. well.. check it all out!), Activity, Themed weeks, ways to better organize your home with her "Cutting the Chaos" posts, Fun holiday crafts, treats and activities to do with your kids....

I've been going through it for the millionth time trying to copy and paste different links of my favorite posts of hers, but! There are tooo many!

This blog not only inspires me to go the extra mile with my own children, but makes it seem much more doable. :) I hope you ENJOY!