Monday, May 30, 2011

Shoe Fly Cake

This is a repost of a recipe I published in September 2009.

...or muffins. I grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch country where Shoe-Fly Pie is a specialty. While I like Shoe-Fly pie, I LOVE Shoe-Fly cake. It is a recipe that takes me back to my childhood. My grandmother always made it for me because she knew how much I loved it. She sent it along every time I left for college and she makes it for me for my birthday every year. She is such a good Nanny.

The starring ingredient in Shoe-Fly cake or pie is Molasses. The cake reminds me of a coffee cake. Actually I eat it a lot for breakfast or a mid-morning snack with my coffee.

The muffins...they are my experiment. Muffins are good portion control for us and easy to freeze. Portion control...who am I kidding, I ate 3 as soon as the cooled down.

Breakfast, Snack, Lunch, Snack, Dinner, Snack, whenever you choose, just Enjoy!

Shoe Fly Cake
  • 1 C Molasses
  • 1 Tbsp. baking soda
  • 2 C. boiling water
  • 4 C. Flour
  • 2 C. light brown sugar
  • 2/3 C. Butter (room temperature)
  • pinch of salt

Combine the Molasses, baking soda and boiling water. Set aside an let it cool.

Mix together flour, lt brown sugar, butter and salt in a separate bowl. This flour mixture will have a crumb texture. Set aside about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of crumb mixture.

Mix the two main parts together in the largest of the two bowls.

Bake at 350 degrees, in a 13 x 9 pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle the crumb mixture, that you set aside, on top of cake and bake about 15 minutes more or until toothpick comes out clean.

If you do decide to bake muffins instead of cake, bake for 15 minutes, sprinkle the crumb mixture on top and bake for another 12 - 15 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. This recipe makes about 24-30 muffins, depending how you fill the muffin tins. I'd recommend filling the tins 1/2 full. I filled some too much and they baked over the pan.

Print Recipe for Shoe Fly Cake or Muffins

Have you ever eaten Shoe Fly Cake or Pie?

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Picnic Planning for Memorial Day and Beyond

Grills will be firing up this weekend to kick off summer with Memorial Day.

Do you need some inspiration for your picnic menu? Let me help you out.

The Main Course
Red Pepper & Feta Turkey Burgers

Apple and Blue Cheese Feta Burgers

How to Grill Chicken Breast and Not Dry It Out Like the Sahara

Grilled Garlic Lemon Shrimp

Grilled Salmon with Peach Mango Salsa

Grilled Sausages with Peppers and Onions Hobo Pack

Super Side Dishes
Purple Cabbage & Broccoli Slaw

Black Bean, Tomato & Feta Salad

Watermelon & Feta Salad

Grilled Garlic Rosemary Red Potatoes

Delicious Desserts
Grilled Peaches with Homemade Whipped Cream

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

Homemade Brownies with Homemade Whipped Cream

What is on your menu for this weekend? Let us know in the comments. Have a wonderful, relaxing and safe holiday weekend!

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This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Number One Way We Save Money on Organic Food

Something very exciting happened at our house this week. We picked up our first share of local, fresh, organic produce from our CSA for the season.

CSA stands for 'Community Supported Agriculture and it is a commitment between local farmer/s and community members who pay the farmer for a seasonal membership. Each week the member receives a pre-purchased and pre-determined amount of produce and the farmer receives upfront money to run their operation. Some CSAs might require the members to volunteer hours on the farm in return for the produce.

This is our ninth year as a member of a CSA and it has proven to be the most cost-effective way for us to afford organic produce. During the May-November harvest season, we receive a weekly share of produce. We supplement with produce we grow ourselves and I rarely need to buy produce at the grocery store during those months.

This year's price for our half-share comes to about $14.21 a week in organic produce. Obviously, prices will differ by farm. The above photo is the share that we received this week and it included baby lettuce mix. broccoli, spinach, new red potatoes, spring onions and carrots. The share at the beginning of the season is always lighter than what we will receive as the harvest season goes into full swing.

Our CSA also offers ‘OPEN Farm Days’ one Saturday each month from June through October. On these days, members can pick up any free extra produce that the farm has an overrun on. They also offer some extra produce at an extremely reduced rate. Last year I bought several 19 pound boxes of organic Roma tomatoes for $6 each. Again, each CSA will operate differently.

Every year, I consider quitting our CSA. I have dreams and delusions that I am going to expand our garden. But I have limited space and the variety of produce and herbs that I receive each week from the CSA is much larger than I have room to grow myself. So every year we sign up again and I never regret it.

How important is eating organic food to you? What is the number one way that you save money on organic food?

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This post is linked to Frugal Friday at Life as MOM.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Organizing With Baskets ~ Ultimate Blog Swap

Today I’m participating in the Ultimate Blog Swap. You’ll find me posting over at Adventures of Life, Love and Librarianship about Asking for a Discount in Today's Economy, and I’m excited to welcome Liz from Hoosier Homemade to Family Balance Sheet:

Hi there, Family Balance Sheet fans! I'm Liz from Hoosier Homemade, and am so excited to be chatting with you today. I cook and bake...A LOT...and have tons of cookbooks too. I find my inspiration and recipes from many of them, especially my cupcakes.

But sometimes, stacks and stacks of cookbooks can be messy and pretty annoying. I found the easiest way to store my cookbooks, is in baskets.

Big ones...small ones...pretty much any size, any shape, you name it...I use it! Do you see the Baker's Rack in the picture too? I painted it and added some fun baskets to it for organizing as well.

The picnic basket on the bottom was passed on from my Mom, and I treasure it. The picnic basket in the middle was an estate sale find and the little one on top...came from a garage sale.

I love those little books that you can pick up at the checkout of most stores, many times they have lots of great recipes, and often even pull out recipe cards.

They fit perfectly in the small basket! Close the lid and the mess is out of sight!

Do you use baskets to organize your house? What is your favorite tip?

You can find Liz over at Hoosier Homemade where she cooks, bakes and decorates your home. When she's not serving up cupcakes, she is joining her husband over at It's A Blog Party, where there is a different linky party everyday. And watch for her new blog...Pocket Change Gourmet, launching in July! Follow Liz on Twitter and Facebook.Visit Life...Your Way to see all of the Ultimate Blog Swap participants!

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Fun Staycation Ideas From All Across the Country

I am joining over 85 other bloggers in almost all 50 states in The Year of the Staycation project, hosted by Toni, The Happy Housewife and Carrie, of Springs Bargains. We are all writing about fun and low cost summer ideas in our respective areas of the country.

Here are the links to the other bloggers' sites for you to plan out your summer staycation or vacation:

New England
Connecticut - Parenting Miracles
Boston, Massachusetts - ‎ Maven of Savin'
Manchester, New Hampshire - Common Sense with Money
Western Maine - Bubblegum and Lollipops

Erie, Pennsylvania - Growing Kids Ministry
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania - Somewhat Crunchy
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania - Family Balance Sheet
Buffalo/Niagara Falls, New York - Coupons, Deals and More
New Jersey - Oh! Diane

Cedar Rapids, Iowa - Indoor Garden Musings
Mansfield, Ohio - Live the Adventure
Cincinnati, Ohio - Savings Lifestyle~Cincinnati
Mount Vernon, Ohio - Living Better One Day at a Time
Dayton, Ohio - Savings Lifestyle~Dayton
Grand Rapids, Michigan - Kitchen Stewardship
Metro Detroit, Michigan - "Cents"able Momma
Oakland County, Michigan - Bargain Shopper Mom
Warren, Michigan - Saving Dollars and Sense
Grand Forks, North Dakota - Frugal Front Porch
Indianapolis, Indiana - Bargain Briana
South Bend, Indiana - Excuse The Mess
Kansas City, Kansas/Missouri - Kansas City Mamas
St. Louis, Missouri - The Pickledpigsfeet
Branson, Missouri - Getting Freedom from Debt
Springfield, Missouri - I Think I Can
Rochester, Minnesota - Everyday Notions
York, Nebraska - Heavenly Homemakers
Omaha, Nebraska - Mom Endeavors
Madison, Wisconsin - Many Little Blessings
Oshkosh, Wisconsin - A Little Bit of This and That
Chicago, Illinois - Chicagoland Homeschool Network
Champaign, Illinois - Chambanamoms
Black Hills, South Dakota - Little House on the Prairie Living

South Central
Checotah, Oklahoma - Blessed With One Income
Tulsa, Oklahoma - Lynn's Kitchen Adventures
Gadsden, Alabama - Aint Mimi
Dallas, Texas - Funky Faith Girl
Dallas, Texas - Grocery Shop For FREE
East Dallas, Texas - Surviving The Stores
Fort Worth, Texas - Smockity Frocks
Austin, Texas - Stetted
Houston, Texas - Moms Travel Tales
McKinney, Texas - Wisdom Begun
East Texas - The Full Pantry
Murfreesboro, Tennessee - Life in a Barn
Nashville, Tennessee - The Country Chic Cottage
Mobile, Alabama - A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned
Birmingham, Alabama - iGoBOGO
Brunswick & the Golden Isles, Georgia - Teri Lynne Underwood
Alpharetta, Georgia - Cuponeando
Atlanta, Georgia - See Jamie Blog
Augusta, Georgia - Hyperactive Lu
Athens, Georgia and Mississippi - Tractors and Tire Swings
Little Rock, Arkansas - It's Real Life

South Atlantic
Lake Norman, North Carolina, Stretching Pennies, Saving Dollars
Brunswick & the Golden Isles, Georgia, Teri Lynne Underwood
Ft. Bragg, North Carolina - Military Wives Saving
Charlotte, North Carolina - The Carolina Clipper
Charleston, South Carolina - The Tween & Me
Greensboro, North Carolina - Mrs. Happy Homemaker
Jacksonville, Florida - Saving The Family Money
Orlando, Florida - Orlando's Best Deals
Virginia Beach, Virginia - The Singley Fam Blog
Richmond, Virginia - Daily Dwelling
Hampton Roads, Virginia - A Home Made by Kiki
Charlottesville, Virginia - How to Have it All
Blackwater Falls State Park/Davis, West Virginia - Holy Spirit Led Homeschooling
Treasure Coast, Florida - The Cardamom's Pod
Saint Augustine, Florida - Jypsie Visions
Lake Norman, North Carolina - Stretching Pennies Saving Dollars
Washington, DC - The WiC Project
Baltimore, Maryland - The Happy Housewife

Tucson, Arizona - Saving with Pam
Phoenix, Arizona - Mom Endeavors
Albuquerque, New Mexico - The Chou Life
Kalispell, Montana - Our Family Adventures
Salt Lake City, Utah - Just the 2 of Us
Thermopolis, Wyoming - The McDonald Family
Denver, Colorado - Denver Bargains
Colorado Springs, Colorado- Colorado Springs Bargains

San Diego, California - Life As Mom
Yosemite National Park, California -Handbook of Nature Study
Seattle, Washington - Queen Bee Coupons & Savings
Whidbey Island, Washington - Manning the Homefront
Olympia, Washington The Coupon Savant
Portland, Oregon - Frugal Living NW
Willamette Valley, Oregon - An Oregon Cottage

Frugal Vacation Tips
Vacation or Stay-cation: Eating without Busting the Budget - Eat at Home

What are your summer plans? Let us know in the comments.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Plan a Staycation or Vacation in Harrisburg, PA

With gas prices inching closer to $4 in many parts of the nation, a lot people are staying close to home this summer for their vacation. Or maybe they are traveling to visit and stay with family members or friends to avoid a hotel or rental property. If you are staying close to home this summer, try exploring your home town or city to see what low cost fun and adventure you can find.

I am joining 85 other bloggers in almost all 50 states in The Year of the Staycation project, hosted by Toni, The Happy Housewife and Carrie, of Springs Bargains. We are all writing about fun and low cost summer ideas in our respective areas of the country. I will be posting all of the links to the other bloggers' sites for you to possibly plan out your summer vacation or staycation.

Harrisburg, Pa.

If you didn't know, I live in central Pennsylvania, very close to the state capitol of Harrisburg. Harrisburg is conveniently located right in the middle of Pennsylvania, in between the states two largest cities: Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Harrisburg and the surrounding communities offer a variety of activities during the summer to make your 2011 Staycation exciting, fun, adventurous, yet inexpensive. There are activities for the whole family.

If you are looking for historical and educational activities, take a tour of a National Historic Landmark, the Pennsylvania State Capitol. Built in 1906, the "Capitol's centerpiece is a spectacular 272-foot, 52 million-pound dome inspired by Michelangelo’s design for St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome".

Not far from the Capitol is the State Museum of Pennsylvania. The State Museum offers "four floors of exhibits that represent Pennsylvania's story, from Earth's beginning to the present", a Planetarium and a 'hands on' play area, Curiosity Connection, for children 5 and under. Admission is $4-$5, depending on your age and there is FREE admission on the third Saturday of every month.

Also located downtown is the Whitaker Center , that offers an IMAX theater, Science Center, and a performance theater. The science center is 3 floors of exhibits, experiments and programs. It also offers a play/imagination area just for kids under 5. The performance theater is an intimate venue that hosts everything from national acts to local performers. Prices for the IMAX theater range from $8 - $9.50, depending on your age and prices for the science center range from $12.50 - $15, depending on age as well.

The National Civil War Museum As stated on the website, "the only museum in The United States that portrays the entire story of the American Civil War. Equally balanced presentations are humanistic in nature without bias to Union or Confederate Causes." Admission prices range from $7-$9, depending on age. There is a family pass available for 2 adults and up to 3 students(immediate family members).

If you are interested in military history, visit the Army Heritage and Educational Center located west of Harrisburg, in Carlisle.

Harrisburg throws some amazing outdoor festivals with the Susquehanna River as the backdrop:

The Patriot-News Artsfest is located at Harrisburg's Riverfront Park right along the Susquehanna River. It runs May 28 - May 30, 2011. Admission is $5 and is good for all three days and benefits community arts projects and scholarships. Children under 16 are admitted free. Activities include: Over 275 Juried Artists and Craftsmen from across the United States. Free Nonstop Entertainment on two stages in cooperation with Harrisburg Midtown Art Center. Kidsfest with a Children’s Stage/ Children’s Artist Market and a Children’s Activities Area hosted by Popcorn Hat Players.

Harrisburg Jazz and Multi-Cultural Festival. July 2-4, 2011.

The Kipona Celebration runs Sept 3-4, 2011 and is right along the Susquehanna River. Admission: FREE. Activities include Artfest featuring 150 different artists and craftspersons, live music and entertainment, Chili Cookoff, Classic Canoe race, a traditional Indian Pow Wow, and SO much more.

You could also venture just a few minutes west of Harrisburg to
83rd Annual Jubilee Day - the largest one day street fair on the East coast. Date: June 16, 2011 from 10 am to 9 pm. Location: downtown Mechanicsburg. Admission: FREE. The event features wares from local artists and craftsmen, as well as great food, fun games, and exciting amusement rides.

Amusement Parks and Zoos
Hershey Park -Located about 14 miles east of Harrisburg. From roller coasters and water rides to kiddie rides and music shows, there really is something for every one at Hershey Park. Other attractions at the Park are ZooAmerica and Chocolate World. Discount tickets can usually be found at Giant Food Stores. Picnic lunches and food are not permitted inside the park.

Dutch Wonderland is located about 40 miles east of Harrisburg, the heart of Amish Country/ Lancaster County. It is a great park geared more towards children ages 12 and under. Food is not permitted inside the park, but there is a Family Picnic Pavilion right outside the park. Old Mill Stream campground is right outside the park, within walking distance. My family camped there last year and we had so much fun. The cleanest bathrooms, I have ever seen.

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park is located about 25 miles north of Harrisburg. From a Safari tour to a petting zoo and reptile exhibit, this park is an exciting destination.

Knoebels is the largest free-admission park in America. It is also north of the city. Personally, we have never been there, but that is our loss as I have heard nothing but good things about the park, the campground and the whole experience.

The Great Outdoors
Harrisburg's City Island, right in the middle of the Susquehanna River, offers activities for just about everyone. Choose from an arcade and batting cages, miniature golf, a beach, a Carousel, a train, horse-drawn carriage tours of the island and the city, Riverboat cruises and so much more. It is also home to the Harrisburg Senators, the city's AA pro baseball team.

Gifford Pinchot State Park is located south of Harrisburg. It offers hiking trails, swimming, boating, picnicking, camping and so much more.

If you will be traveling to central Pennsylvania this summer, check out the inexpensive activities in Gettysburg, PA at Somewhat Crunchy.

Have you ever visited Central Pennsylvania? What are your plans this summer? Will you be traveling or staying close to home? Let us know in the comments.

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Photo Credits: Allie's Dad

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Choosing Thrift First: Thinking Ahead

I have two daughters and one benefit of having same sex siblings is that my youngest is the beneficiary of a mighty fine wardrobe, season after season.

I don't have that luxury with my oldest daughter. She doesn't receive any hand-me-downs, so I find myself building her wardrobe at the beginning of every season. I guess I could go to Target or Children's Place at the beginning of every season, but that could get expensive. Also, I rarely frequent the mall and I'm trying to avoid Target, so I usually miss out on the end of season bargains.

I am having a lot of luck with thrifting this spring. We found summer jammies and shorts at our favorite thrift store a few weeks ago. I also stumbled on a yard sale recently that had girls clothes in great condition marked at 3 for $1. I hit the jackpot and as of right now, her summer wardrobe is pretty much complete.

As I was sorting through the clothes at that last yard sale, the mom said to me, "do you need a winter coat? It is size 6 and $2". Two dollars for a winter coat; let me take a look. It was in beautiful condition and the size we will most likely need next winter. My daughter also told me recently that her new favorite color was red and I knew she would love the faux fur lining. Major score at $2.

Even though we are really looking forward to sunny days, the park, the pool and bike rides well into the evening, I am looking ahead to the colder months. And I can now cross off one of the more expensive items from the list.

Are you thinking ahead when you are thrifting? You just never know what you might find. Let us know what you are finding in the comments.

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This post is linked to Your Green Resource at The Greenbacks Gal.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Growing Herbs in My Garden

I was able to plant my herbs in my square foot garden on Monday, before the rains came in. My veggies will have to wait another day.

I expanded my herbs this year. I have always planted parsley and rosemary, but this year I added a few more. Along with those two, I have dill, thyme, basil, oregano, pineapple sage, and lemon verbena. A few of them are labeled 'tender' perennial, so we'll see next year if they make it through the zone 6 winters.

I want to preserve some of the herbs for the fall and winter. I don't know much about drying and preserving herbs, so I'm going to need to do a little reading on the subject. I'll be sure to write about it.

I found the cute little ceramic herb markers at a yard sale. I have seen them in stores for several dollars a piece. I think I paid $2 for all 5 markers.

What herbs do you grow in your garden? How do you preserve them? Let us know in the comments.

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This post is linked to Tuesdays Garden Party at An Oregon Cottage and Works for Me Wednesday at We Are That Family.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Muffins

These muffins make a hearty lunch or snack. My daughter even ate the leftovers for breakfast.

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Muffins
  • ¾ cup uncooked orzo
  • 2 cups finely chopped broccoli
  • 2 cups chopped or shredded cooked chicken
  • ½ finely chopped red onion
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • Parmesan, paprika, optional

1. Cook orzo according to package directions. In the final two minutes, add the broccoli to the pasta water to cook. Drain.

2. In a large bowl, combine the orzo, broccoli, chicken, onion, salt, cheese, parsley, and eggs. Stir well to combine.

3. Grease the muffin pan liberally with non-stick cooking spray. Fill the muffin cups and sprinkle with Parmesan and/or paprika on top. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 12 muffins.

4. Let pan set for a few minutes, then use a knife to carefully loosen the muffins from pan.

The muffins go well with a salad, fresh fruit or homemade applesauce.

Print recipe for Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Muffins

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This post is linked to $5 Dinner Challenge and Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Front Yard Landscaping: Take 3

We have done a lot of renovations around our home in the last ten years. The DIY project that we are most proud of is the landscaping in our front yard. I wrote about the process 2 years ago and it is still my most popular post. Read more about our Front Yard Landscaping: We Did It Ourselves.

Before May 2009:

After May 2009:

Moving on to 2010, we needed to replace 3 of our new shrubs that didn't make it through that winter. Read more about Front Yard Landscaping: Take 2.

And now fast forward to 2011 and 2 more of our shrubs didn't make it through the winter, so we replaced them this past weekend. I'll be crossing my fingers next winter.

This picture lacks color. The tulip blooms have faded. The 3 shrubs that we planted last year under the bay window have buds and should bloom in the next few weeks. The shrubs and tree that have survived are all thriving and my husband just trimmed everything back.

Do you have a landscaping project on your to-do list? Check out 15 Tips to Help You Design Your Landscape and Save Money...and hope for less destructive winters.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Square Foot Gardening: Starting Over With New Soil

Last year, I chronicled my box garden conversion from random planting to the more calculated method, known as Square Foot Gardening. I had great success, but at the end of the season, I vowed that in 2011, I was going to replace all of the dirt in my box with new soil following the Square Foot Gardening recipe for a soil mix.

When I first set up my box garden about 9 years ago, I naively used soil that was dug up from another project on our property. Even though I amended the soil in my boxed garden with compost over the years, the majority of the soil was thick, heavy clay that made pulling root vegetables, like carrots, very difficult. The soil also made it very difficult to pull the massive weeds that thrived in the box. I couldn't keep up with the weeds and by the end of every summer I had a few choice words for all of the weeds, but this is a family site, so I'll keep those conversations private.

So this was the year that I was going to replace my soil. I asked my husband if he would mind if I moved the existing soil to our back yard where 10 holly trees mark our property line. He didn't have a problem with it, but he also had no desire to assist me with this nutty project. Besides, he would be working on spreading the 3 cubic yards of leaf compost that we ordered around the front yard landscape and other flower beds around our home.

The leaf compost was delivered on Friday morning and we started our projects by the afternoon and worked all weekend.

I started removing the dirt from my box about a week ago, because I knew it would take me several trips with the wheel barrow. Several is an understatement; I lost count!

The soil mix that is recommended in the Square Foot Gardening book is 1/3 blended compost, 1/3 Vermiculite, 1/3 Peat Moss. I admit that I didn't use blended compost. I used leaf compost, because we had 3 cubic yards sitting in our driveway. I will add my own compost to the box in the future.

The book recommends mixing the soil on a tarp. I used a hoe to mix together and when I was finished, my husband helped me dump each load into the garden.

I totally missed the first spring planting, but I'm okay with that. This project was a lot of work, but I noticed immediately the difference in the soil and I don't think I will ever regret my decision. The soil is lighter and so easy to maneuver. The last date of frost in my area is May 15, so this weekend I will be planting my summer vegetables and herbs. I'll post pictures next week of my finished garden.

Do you follow the Square Foot Gardening Method? How is the soil in your garden? Have you ever replaced all of it? How is your garden growing this spring? Let us know in the comments.

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This post is linked to Garden Party Tuesday at An Oregon Cottage.

Disclosure - This post contains affiliate links that help support this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Family Balance Sheet! You can read the site's full disclosure here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cajun Red Beans and Rice

This is a hearty meal that cooks up really fast. Enjoy!

Cajun Red Beans and Rice

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb sausage, casings removed (I used turkey sausage, but you whatever type you prefer.)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 - 3 tsp Cajun seasoning, (I use 2 tsp, because my kids don’t like food too spicy)
  • 2 (15 oz) cans red beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup homemade chicken stock, or store bought
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 3-4 cups hot, cooked rice

1. Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage, garlic, peppers, onions and celery. Saute until until sausage is cooked through, break into bite-sized pieces as it is cooking. About 5 minutes.

2. Add seasoning, beans, stock and tomatoes. Stir well to combine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

3. Serve over cooked rice. I served with a tossed salad and homemade applesauce.

Print recipe for Cajun Red Beans and Rice

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This post is linked to: $5 Dinner Challenge

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hanging Clothes Outside To Dry

Finally, I have been able to start hanging the laundry outside this past week. Prior to this week, my backyard looked like a marsh after several days of rain. We have had record rain fall this spring...not conducive to hanging clothes outside to dry.

I don't have room for a line in our backyard, so I use 2 wooden drying racks. Not the best set up, but it works for me.

I do a load of laundry every morning in the warm weather during the week. By the early afternoon, the first load is dry and I hang a second load. I throw the wet clothes in the dryer for about 5-10 minutes to 'fluffen'(is that a word?) before I hang outside. But those minutes prevent the laundry, especially the towels from being 'crunchy'.

Hanging clothes outside to dry makes our electric bill far more manageable when the temperature spikes and the air conditioner is turned on.

Do you hang your laundry outside to dry? Tell us about your set up in the comments.

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This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

How To Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too ~ An Ebook from Life...Your Way

Is your passion to be or become a work-at-home mom?

Do you look at successful, online mom-trepeneurs and wonder how they manage a successful career, nurture their husband and children, run a household and maybe even home school?

Have you also wondered how these women get all of the above done in the same amount of time that we have all been allotted in a day?

My answers: Yes. Yes. and Yes.

Mandi Ehman, from Life...Your Way, is one of those mom-trepeneurs. She is a married mother of 4 young daughters, runs a successful blog network, and has now written an ebook, How to Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too, that she graciously sent to me to review.

The ebook takes you into the life of a successful mom-trepeneur. It isn't a business building ebook; it is a guide designed to inspire and encourage the aspiring work-at-home mom. And she doesn't paint it as being easy-peasey either. She flat out tells you that we need to be prepared to work very hard to have our cake, but there are tools and tips that can make our life a little easier and run more smoothly.

The ebook is divided into 3 parts. The first part is designed to inspire us to follow our personal passions while raising our children and managing our homes. The second part focuses on time management and productivity tips. The third section offers home management tips so that you can spend more time on the more important things in your life.

I am going through a mid-life phase in my life right now. My kids are growing so fast and my husband and I are very grateful that I am home with them. But I am a former career girl and there is a deep part of me that is searching for my next 'career', something where I can follow my passion (I am still trying to determine what that is), stay at home to raise my girls, love my husband and manage our home and office. I got to take a peek into a very successful mom-trepeneur's life and see how she manages her day, home and family and I very much enjoyed this ebook.

If you looking for inspiration to follow your dreams of being a successful work-at-home mom or parent, this ebook might be for you too. The ebook is $12, but you can get a coupon code with the following link and pay just $9.

Click here to view more details

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Disclosure - I did receive a free copy of this ebook, but all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links that help support this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Family Balance Sheet! You can read the site's full disclosure here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Save Up to 50% Off or More at Your Local Bread Outlet

We go through a lot of bread at my house. Jelly toast, peanut butter toast, grilled cheese sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, fried egg sandwiches, chicken salad sandwiches...well, you get the picture.

For many years, we have eaten 100% whole wheat bread. But it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I actually read the ingredients on that loaf of 100% bread. I gasped, right in the middle of the grocery store, "High Fructose Corn bread!". I started to look at the labels of every brand of 100% whole wheat bread and I saw 'high fructose corn syrup' in the ingredients of almost all of the brands, except for two and they were priced at least $2 more than the "HFCS" loaves.

Since we try to avoid as much as possible processed sugar ingredients, I made the switch to the more expensive bread. Aside from the occasional sale, I cringed every time I bought them too.

Normally I don't shop at more than one store per week, but I checked out the bread/bakery outlet near my daughter's school and I was very pleased. I found the non-HFCS loaves of 100% whole wheat bread marked at $1.50. That is about $2.50 less than my grocery store. And since it really isn't out of my way, I don't mind making a separate trip.

My bread/bakery outlet also has English Muffins, sandwich thins, flat bread, kaiser rolls, hamburger rolls, hotdog rolls, tortillas, baked goods, snack foods and more at prices of 50% off or more off the grocery store price.

The only caveat is that you need to check the expiration date. I have noticed the expiration date on the bread is usually within a few days, so I take the loaves home and put them in our freezer right away. I just take out what I need and I have never had a problem.

A handy trick when thawing the bread is to wrap what you need in a cloth napkin and microwave for 10 seconds. If it isn't thawed after 10 seconds add another 5-10 seconds. The bread/rolls shouldn't dry out if you wrap in a cloth napkin.

Do you shop at bread/bakery outlets? What kind of deals do you find?

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Mediterranean Orzo Pilaf

This is a re-post from 2009. Enjoy!

The first time I had Rice-a-Roni was in college when my roommate made it for me. I thought she was a gourmet cook when she added chicken to the rice while it cooked and voila...chicken and rice dinner. Wow, I was so impressed. I didn't know a thing about cooking back then and I didn't have an interest to cook either. But I made that chicken and rice dinner many times after that thinking I was really cooking.

Fast forward many, many years and I love to cook and most of the time it is from scratch. I haven't eaten Rice-a-Roni in many years, but when I made this Mediterranean Orzo Pilaf, it reminded me of the Rice-a-Roni. Although, this dish is made with fresh tomatoes and spinach, feta and Kalamata olives, not dried powder.

Mediterranean Orzo Pilaf
adapted from San Giorgio

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz. uncooked orzo - (my box was 16 oz, so one box will make two batches)
  • 2-1/4 cups homemade chicken stock or store bought
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup chopped fresh tomato
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, cut into thin strips
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped Kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat, add garlic and orzo. Cook, stirring frequently, until orzo turns golden brown, about 3 minutes.

2. Stir in stock and seasoning and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

3. Stir in tomato and spinach. Cover to wilt spinach. Cook 5 minutes or until almost all liquid is absorbed. Continue to stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

4. Remove from heat and add olives and feta. Stir to combine.

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