Menu Planning, Recipes

Weekly Menu – May 19 through 25

We’re out of town for Memorial Weekend, so we’ll have meals through Thursday planned.  We’re going to our cabin and I might precook and plan meals for that, so will post another set of “transportable” foods for the weekend.

Saturday – Grilled Pork Chops, roasted potatoes and brussels sprouts, blackberry or peach cobbler with homemade cinnamon ice cream for dessert

Sunday – Grilled Shrimp, Roasted Corn Salad, Baked Beans.  I found a crock pot beans recipe I want to try and freeze the rest.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Monday – Breakfast casserole – this is really different from anything I’ve done before but it looks yummy!

Tuesday – Bacon Cheeseburgers

Wednesday – Spaghetti & Meatballs, Fresh Salad & French Bread

Thursday – Pizza – white for me and pepperoni for the kids & Todd.  I LOVE pesto pizza with mozzarella, artichokes, and spinach – yummo!

Menu Planning, Recipes

Weekly Menu May 14 to May 20, 2012

We’ve been crazy busy, and I haven’t been helping myself out and creating menus.  Time to get back on the wagon!  Here’s what we have planned for this week:

Monday – Got some nice Ribeye at the market – will pair those from the grill with brown rice and quinoa stuff I found at Costco (easy and tastes pretty good) and salad and corn.

Tuesday – Grilled pork chops, leftover quinoa, salad and assorted veggies

Wednesday – OMG Chicken.  My good friend Danielle pinned this recipe to my shared wall on Pinterest.  I have some leftover greek yogurt and a big pile of grated parmesan, so I’ll give this one a try tonight.  I have a head of green leaf lettuce from my Bountiful Basket and some tomatoes and peppers, I’ll make a salad and maybe bake or roast some potatoes on the grill.

Thursday – Sloppy Joes – Believe it or not, we love Manwich here.  I’ve made them from scratch, but the kids really only like Manwich, and its cheap, so I’ll give in on that convenience food.  I have some Alexa Sweet Potato fries in the freezer to pair with this.  Will make a salad or steam up some frozen veggies, too.

Friday – Breakfast night!  Pancakes, bacon and eggs – easy peasy.  I usually buy pancake mix, but I doctor mine up with a splash of vanilla extract and some cinnamon.  I have strawberries in the freezer so might make some strawberry syrup for these.

Saturday – We MIGHT play poker Saturday, if so I generally just make a few appetizers.  I want to try something new, so I might try these spicy shrimp and avocado bites that my friend Erin pinned to my board.  They look yummy!

Sunday – Lazy day I think, will be warm so grilled Nathan’s Famous with mac and cheese sounds awesome.  We’ll see if that mac and cheese is homemade, or not…..sometimes you want the neon orange stuff, its comfort food 🙂

Menu Planning, Recipes

Weekly Menu 4/21 to 4/27

This week we’ll have to see how it goes – I have a lot of work to get done and Maddie has a late band practice one night.  Last week we had to improvise Thursday night – Maddie went to a Soccer game and I got home later than usual.  Todd started breakfast for dinner before we got home and had the bacon all done – so we didnt get to try Alton Brown’s Gyros.  We’re going to do those Monday night this week.  Here is the plan.

Saturday 4/21 – Homemade Pizza.  I use Wildtree pizza dough mix and it was dead easy.  Mix it up – knead for 2 minutes, let rest for 10 minutes, roll out.  I’ll set out italian sausage, pepperoni, sauteed mushrooms, cheese and sauce and let everyone build their own.

Sunday 4/22 – Grilled Chops, basted with honey, soy and garlic.  I’ll serve with roasted brussels sprouts and Maddie wants me to try a parmesan potato dish from this month’s Taste of Home.

Monday 4/23 – Tonight we’ll try to do Alton Brown’s Gyros again.  I’m super excited and found some nice Pita (a rarity around here.)

Tuesday 4/24 – Hamburgers on the grill with grilled zucchini and summer squash.  Yum!

Wednesday 4/25 – This is usually pasta night, but this is Maddie’s late band practice so I might grab a rotisserie chicken on the way home.

Thursday 4/26 – Day 2 rotisserie chicken and noodles.  I have the frozen dumplings we like in the freezer right now so that’s a great plan.

Friday 4/27 – Skillet Rosemary Chicken.  I modify this recipe some – I don’t have rosemary handy so might do something slightly different.  Honestly the chicken is great without the herbs, and I have lemons left from last week’s veggie box so that should work well.


Weekly Menu – Quick and Yummy

Lots of bloggers post their weekly menu plans, so I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and let you all know what’s going on the table in Hillville this week.

I just got back from picking up my Bountiful Basket of fruit and veggies, so that will deinitely figure prominently in my menu.  If you havent checked out this food co-op, give it a loo – i save about 60% on veggies for the week when I order, and their breads and case quantities are great.  This is where i got the case of apples for my Apple Butter.

So here’s what we’re having this week:

  • Saturday 4-14 – Nachos – with everything but the kitchen sink…the kids are weenies, so we put all the toppings on and everyone builds their own.  For dessert, chocolate brownies – This is a recipe from A Flexible Life and I’d NEVER heard of it before – I’m so trying this!
  • Sunday 4-15Pork Green Chile – A recipe that I found over at but have tweaked a lot, I’ll be rewriting and posting it here shortly.  I got some tomatoes and onions in my basket that will go into this – need to get some green chiles at the market tho.
  • Monday 4-16 – Leftover Green Chile – either with eggs or beans and tortillas
  • Tuesday 4-17 – Chicken Caesar Salad – I got a really nice head of romaine with my veggies – so this will be perfect!
  • Wednesday 4-18 – Spaghetti with meatballs – the sauce is made from the Wildtree Spaghetti Sauce mix I love – try out their stuff – you will love it too.
  • Thursday 4-19 – I’m craving street food from NYC – since that’s not going to happen this week, I’m going to try Alton Brown’s Gyros – with beef.  This recipe has lots of steps, including an overnight step, so i might improvise a bit.  Note:  I don’t do lamb.
  • Friday 4-20 – Grilled Cheese (Maddie Specials, of course) and Sweet Potato Fries….yum……
Homemade Not Storebought, Recipes

Homemade GORP or Trail Mix

My kids are nuts….about nuts….

Well truthfully they like trail mix, but I was really tired of spending a ton of money and getting baggies of raisins back in their lunches.  I finally got smart, asked them what they LIKED in trail mix, and started making my own.

I dont even get the baggies back anymore…..

It’s pretty straight forward – the mixture above has M&Ms, chocolate chips, roasted & salted almonds, dried cranberries, salted cashew pieces and dry roasted peanuts.

Mix well, put in a jar, send in lunches……the end!

Budget Friendly, Canning & Preserving, Recipes

Amazing Apple Butter Recipe

My mom taught me to can when I was pretty small.  We put up lots of jams and vegetables when I was a kid.  Store-bought was expensive and we usually had a garden, and we never threw ANYTHING away.

This recipe grew out of another recipe and Mom & I tweaked and fidgeted with it for awhile to get it right.  There arent many ingredients, but you’d be surprised how much a little more cinnamon, a different type of apple, and not enough allspice can change things.

The complete directions will be in the recipe below, but I wanted to give you photos of the process and my tips as we go along, so I’ll put them in the body of the blog here.

You need to be sure you get the right apples.  Delicious apples are ok for this – but not my favorites.  This batch was made with Pink Lady apples.  I also like Gala, Braeburn or Johnathans.  I think Granny Smith’s would be too tart, you’d need to add more sugar than what we have outlined here.

First get your gallon of cider on to reduce.  Right in your canner and bring to a boil, reduce it in volume by half.

Next, you need 4-gallons of apples – that’s 16-quarts – I cut up some apples and measured them in my quart jar to see how many made a quart.  For these apples – it was about 4 per quart, but you will need to measure yours, some are bigger than others.

I then counted out all my apples and laid them out on the counter.  I filled the sink with cold clean water and got to work with my wedger.  You dont need to peel your apples, but you do need to core them.

Once I got them all wedged and clean and my cider was reduced I dumped all the apples in my canner.  This filled it up to the top, so I had to keep smushing them down and stirring them around until they were all cooked, soft and mushy.

Once they’re all cooked to a pulp, I started running them through my food mill.  If you don’t have a food mill, borrow or buy one – you CANNOT use a food processor for this – the food mill turns your apples into applesauce and removes the skins from your mix.  This takes awhile and I only have the one canner/pressure cooker so I mill into about 3 large mixing bowls.  You’ll need to scrape the skins out of your food mill after every few batches.

Once you’ve got it all milled, dump it back into your canner and add the rest of the ingredients.  Be sure you just SIMMER this – don’t boil it – because the bottom will burn.  Stir often while it cooks together.  I think I cooked mine for a good 30-40 minutes on a low simmer.

Note – If you do burn the bottom, its okay, just be sure not to stir to the bottom or scrape that up into the rest of your apple butter, it will make the rest of your batch taste burnt.  If you have a 2nd canner, dump the good stuff over into the clean canner and get that burned on stuff soaking – it will take awhile to get it off.

To test your butter, put a glob on a plate and let it cool down a bit – if it slides around in one big blob and “looks” like a loose jelly, it’s ready to jar and process.

I sanitize my jars and rings in the dishwasher to get them ready when i first start and let them sit until I need them.  Use a canning funnel to ladle the apple butter into the jars leaving about 1/2 inch at the top.  Wipe your rims, add a lid that you’ve boiled for a few minutes and removed from the heat.  Screw on a lid until it’s just hand tight – you don’t need to permanently affix the ring onto the jar.

Process your jars 15 minutes for 1/2 pints, 20 minutes for pints.  I had one quart because I ran out of jars – that one I did 20 minutes plus I left it in the hot water (burner off) for about 10 more minutes.

This batch made a whopping 20-PINTS of Apple Butter.  I’ll have gifts and yummyness in the pantry for a long time.  It took quite a long time – probably 4-5 hours start to finish with waiting time while things cooked – but it was totally worth it.

Get the recipe below – but you might want to bookmark this whole article for the instructions.  If you get stuck or have questions, just post them below and I’ll answer as fast as I can.  You can also email me at carrie (at)

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