Friday, August 20, 2010

Not for me...

Hello all! Yes, it has been a very long time since I've written in this blog. I've been extremely busy, but I also have not been inspired to write. I've been giving it a lot of thought and have figured out that while I LOVE reading other people's blogs and learning from them, I am just not a blogger myself. For a while I think I was in denial, but now that fact is very clear to me. So, I won't be posting on this blog anymore. I will keep reading all of your blogs and other informative blogs out there though, because that is really what interests me. I think I kept blogging for this long because I know how much I've learned in the process from all of you! I hope that all of that learning continues. Take care, Greta

Monday, July 26, 2010

This Week's Menu Plan

Hey there! Long time, no write! It has been such a busy time for us. Most likely you've been busy too! We just returned from our week at the cabin in Wisconsin and are settling back into our normal routine. Here's what's cooking at our place this week: Monday: B- Apple granola D- Hot dogs, beans and corn (dogs leftover from the cabin week) Tuesday: B- Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins from the freezer D- Taco Tuesday with Homemade Refried Beans from the freezer Wednesday: B- Apple Granola D- Cheesburger Macaroni, Green Beans Thursday: B- Breakfast Burritos from the freezer D- Hot Dogs, Beans and Corn (again! we have a lot of hotdogs to eat) Friday: B- Toast, yogurt with fruit D- Pizza night with homemade dough Saturday: B- Butter Braid D- Steaks and Potatoes on the grill, Corn on the cob Sunday: B- Perpetual Pancakes, sausages D- Hobos, Fruit (mmm, I'm already missing our cabin week menu, so that's why I threw in these hobos) This week's menu is all about easing back into things here. I love Kitchen Stewardship's Cheeseburger Macaroni recipe for that purpose. It's easy, healthy AND my guys love it! I also love the Apple Granola from Finding Joy in My Kitchen. Yum...a great cereal substitute. What are your favorite go-to recipes when you're taking it easy?
For more menu plans and recipes, head over to I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Friday, July 9, 2010

We're Back!

We had a great 5 days together with both my family and my husband's family and now we're getting settled back into our normal routine...wait a minute. That's not exactly true. Although we're home this week and next, starting a week from tomorrow we'll be gone for another week. It seems our vacations this year are scheduled very close together. I'm still cooking and trying to provide as healthy a life for our family as I can, but it just seems like there hasn't been time in the day to post any recipes lately. It must be one of those busy times of life... How do you other bloggers deal with the busy times in life? How do you find time to live life and to document it through your blog?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

On Vacation!

I forgot to mention earlier that our family is going to be on vacation this week. That's right, no meal planning or grocery shopping for me, as my mom, grandma and mother-in-law are treating us to great meals through the 4th of July holiday. Aside from helping cooking, I'm looking forward to swimming, fishing and enjoying all of the holiday festivities. You can expect my return sometime after Monday, July 5th. Have a happy holiday!

Monday, June 21, 2010

This Week's Menu Plan

Ah, another week...and I really didn't even have time to share any recipes last week! Things are really starting to pick up with summer activities here, so I will try to post as much as possible. I am cooking up a storm though these days, so if I could carve out some time, I would have good things to share. Here's what we're having this week: Monday: B- toast with peanut butter and honey D- Chow Mein Casserole (new recipe) Tuesday: B- Scrambled Eggs D- Leftovers Wednesday: B- Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins from the freezer D- White Bean and Apple Chili (new recipe) Thursday: B- Apple Cranberry Granola D- Egg Salad Sandwiches Friday: B- Breakfast Burritos (new recipe) D- Pizza Night Saturday: B- Pancakes D- Sunny Broccoli Salad for a potluck Sunday: B- Egg Bake (new recipe) D- up in the air, we may be visiting family for this meal For more menu plans and recipes, head on over to I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Monday, June 14, 2010

This Week's Menu Plan

Ah, another Monday and another menu plan and grocery shopping day. Today is my bigger shopping trip to our neighboring town, while next week's trip should be fairly small as I will pick up most items today. We have a family camping weekend coming up this week, so I have a few dishes to make for a group of about 20. The women in my family really got detailed with our menu plan this year, which I think is great! A weekend of fun and great food sounds amazing to me! Last week we had some delicious dishes. Top on my list were homemade refried beans and skillet enchiladas. If you're looking a dish that is a 10 out of 10, those enchiladas from Amy are your best bet! I will share the refried beans recipe this week. Who knew making your own refried beans was so easy and tasty!
Mmm, the best enchiladas!
Oh-so-yummy refried beans
Here's the plan for this week
B- Granola
D- Homemade Chicken Nuggets and French Fries (moved from last week)
B- Scrambled Eggs
D- Leftovers Wednesday: B- Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins (from the freezer) D- Spaghetti with Homemade Sauce and Meatballs (new recipe) Thursday: B- Apple Cranberry Granola (new recipe) D- Dinner Our (we will be gone all day and evening) Friday: B- Perpetual Pancakes Camping Weekend: Appetizer- Cowboy Caviar Main Dish- Seasoned Chicken for Tacos Snacks and Desserts: Crockpot Yogurt Oatmeal Chocolate Cake (new recipe) Homemade Chewy Granola Bars (new recipe) Oh, did I mention that I scored a TON of rhubarb at our Farmer's market no too long ago? I froze it and am so excited to use it all up!
Do you have any foods (like my refried beans) that you make from scratch and are extremely easy to make? I'd love to give them a try! Now I know that some of you make everything from just one idea will be plenty :)
For hundreds of menu plans and recipes, head on over to I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Windowsill Garden is Growing

As we have limited space in our garden, I decided to try growing some herbs on my windowsill this year. We have a wonderful window in our kitchen that is very sunny and I hope it will be perfect for this purpose. Last weekend I planted parsley, thyme, basil, cilantro and chives and as of yesterday, all five had showed their little green heads! I just love that I can be doing dishes AND be admiring my little herbs too.
Have you had any luck growing herbs indoors?

Monday, June 7, 2010

This Week's Menu Plan

Last week was filled with some great recipes and some not-so-great recipes. We loved the granola bars I made, the Amish Oatmeal Bake, the spinach and blueberry smoothies were tasty, as were the apple squares. Also, this recipe for egg salad sandwiches was a big hit with my husband.
What didn't work for us was grilling artichokes. We looked for weeks for artichokes in the grocery store and after finally finding them, the end result was disappointing. They just did not soften up and so we ended up wasting most of them. I also tried out making fruit leather from apple sauce. While my husband and I thought it was great, our son just was not liking the texture.
Aren't they pretty though?
Tough artichokes (the chicken and dip were great though)
Apple Sauce fruit leather...not so tasty for an 18 month old

Well, I do think they taste great, but since the little one didn't care for them, they don't make for a very good fruit snack substitute. I'll have to ditch that idea and try to think of something new.

We did try grilling up sweet potatoes this week. WHAT AN AMAZING DISH! I didn't take pictures, but trust me, slice those things up, put them in tin foil with some butter and salt and you will have a GREAT side dish for steak or any other grilling fare. Here's our menu for this week: Monday: D- meatloaf, baked sweet potatoes (both new recipes) Tuesday: B- Granola (new recipe) D- Leftovers Wednesday: B- Scrambled Eggs D- Skillet Enchiladas (new recipe), salad Thursday: B- Perpetual Pancakes D- Tuna Salad Sandwiches on Whole Wheat Rolls, Carrots, Apple Slices Friday: B- Granola D- Baseball Game...dinner at the stadium Saturday: B- Potato Pancakes, Sausages D- Birthday Party for some friends' kids Sunday: B- Butter Braid D- Homemade Chicken Nuggets and French Fries (new recipes)

What do you have planned for this week? Are most of your recipes tried and true, or are you adding in lots of new dishes? For more menu plans and recipes, check out I'm An Organizing Junkie.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Amish Oatmeal Bake

We were going to have oatmeal with raisins this morning, until I found this recipe for Amish Oatmeal Bake while blog hopping on Monday. It sounded tasty and I liked that you could make it ahead of time and have it ready to go in the morning. We had it this morning and it was so delicious! I adapted it from the original recipe to cut down on the sugar and add raisins.
Amish Oatmeal Bake
modified from RecipeZaar
1/3 cup butter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t vanilla
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1 cup milk
2 T milk
3 cups oatmeal (regular or quick)
1/2 cup raisins (that's just approximate)
1. Melt butter. Grease a 1 1/2 quart baking dish and drop eggs into it. Beat eggs well. Add brown sugar, baking powder, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Mix well until there are no clumps.
2. Whisk in butter and both measures of milk, then add in oats and raisins. Stir well and refrigerate for 8 hours (either over night or prepare it in the morning and bake it later in the day so it's ready quickly in the morning).
3. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes, or until set in the middle. Serve with hot milk poured over.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

This Week's Menu Plan

Last week's dishes were outstanding...the Cheesy Mushroom and Broccoli Hotdish, Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins and Potato Pancakes were all highlights of our family's meals. By the second week of our no boxed cereal efforts, I'm hardly noticing the lack of cereal and milk (although I have noticed that we're drinking less milk now).
This week, we're starting off Memorial Day by grilling and it continues to look like a promising week from there. Here's the plan:
D- Cheeseburgers, Grilled Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus
B- Scrambled Eggs with ham and veggies
D- Leftovers
B- Oatmeal with Raisins
D- Meatloaf (new recipe), Baked Sweet Potatoes, Salad
B- Oatmeal Pancakes (new recipe)
D- Egg Salad Sandwiches, Carrot Sticks, Apple Slices (going to watch husband's softball game)
D- Homemade Pizza
B- Fried Eggs, Sausages
D- Date Night (husband's choice)
D- Steak, Grilled Sweet Potatoes, Salad
Snacks and Desserts:
Root Beer Floats with Homemade Ice Cream
Apple Fruit Leather (new recipe)
Granola Bars (new recipe)
Blueberry and Spinach Smoothie (new recipe)
That's what we have planned! What are you excited about for your menu plan this week?
As always, check out Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie for hundreds of menu plans and even more recipes.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

As promised, I'm sharing my strawberry rhubarb muffin recipe with you this week. This is actually the strawberry rhubarb recipe I tried, as the first one was OK but just not amazing.

Well, these muffins were really good! I did try to cut the brown sugar by a bit, but I'm thinking I could even cut some more and it would still taste great. Both my husband and son liked them too (My son mostly liked the top of the muffin, which had the topping. He wouldn't touch the first version though, so I take this as dramatic improvement!). I made this as part of my efforts to eliminate boxed cereals from our diet. Since I can make them ahead of time, they make breakfasts so easy!

Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

modified from AllRecipes

Ingredients: Muffins

1/2 cup vanilla yogurt (I used plain homemade yogurt)

2 T butter, melted

2 T oil (I used coconut oil)

1 egg

1 1/3 cup flour (you can use any combination of all-purpose, whole wheat or white wheat...I used half white and half whole wheat)

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

1 cup diced rhubarb

1 cup diced strawberries

Ingredients: Topping

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 t ground cinnamon

1/4 t ground nutmeg

1/4 cup crushed walnuts

2 t melted butter


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12 muffin tin, or line with paper liners.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the yogurt, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, oil and egg. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix until just blended. Fold in the rhubarb and strawberries. Spoon into the muffin tin, filling at least 2/3 full.

3. In a small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, walnuts, and 2 teaspoons of melted butter. Spoon over the tops of the muffins and press down lightly.

4. Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Cool in the pan about 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Grilled Broccoli

We've been grilling up asparagus for the last few weeks and this week we wanted to try something else. Knowing that my toddler sometimes will eat broccoli, I thought it was worth a try. While he did not eat it (not because it wasn't delicious, just being a toddler), my husband and I really enjoyed it. It has such a nice hint of lemon and the Parmesan cheese adds such a great flavor. I'm definitely going to make this again soon!
Grilled Broccoli
modified from AllRecipes
6 cups of fresh, chopped broccoli
juice of one lemon
2 T olive oil
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Place broccoli in bowl. In another bowl, combine lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper. Drizzle over broccoli and toss to coat. Let stand for 30 minutes (10 was all we had and it turned out fine!)
2. Put cheese in a large Ziploc bag. Add a few pieces of broccoli at a time, seal the bag and shake to coat.
3. Place broccoli in a single layer on a doubled-up piece of tin foil with the edges turned up. Grill 8-10 minutes on each side until broccoli is crisp-tender.

Monday, May 24, 2010

There is Life in the Garden!

So far, from the seeds we planted, we've seen all but the cucumber seeds pop up through the ground. How exciting! I'm doing my very best to be patient, but I do check the garden several times a day for progress. Here are a few pictures of my babies...
Our onions were the first to say hello.
Teeny, tiny lettuce- soon to be delicious salad

You can do it little bean plant!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

This Week's Menu Plan

Last week we had some great meals here in our home. I hope yours were tasty too! A new thing for us was planning out breakfasts instead of eating boxed cereals. This was a great success for us. All but one day we had homemade breakfasts...eggs, pancakes, granola and muffins. We did run out of steam this morning, so we ate some of the cereal we still have leftover, but that just shows me we need to plan something easier on Sundays before church.
Some of the menu highlights from last week were the apple granola , a new taco seasoning recipe , delicious strawberry rhubarb muffins and yummy broccoli on the grill. Stop back later this week for the muffin and broccoli recipes.
This week's plan was easy! I planned for two weeks last week, so we're all set for our meals this week. We're trying several new recipes, so I will plan on sharing them once I know that they are as tasty as they seem. For this week:
D- yummy leftovers from last week...tacos!
B- Scrambled Eggs with veggies
D- dinner at my grandma's house
B- Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins
D- Cheesy Mushroom and Broccoli Hotdish (new recipe)
D- Macaroni and Cheese (we didn't get to make this last week due to a change in plans)
D- Steaks on the grill
B- Potato Pancakes (new recipe)
D- Homemade Chicken Nuggets and Fries (new recipes)
B- Apple Squares (new recipe)
D- Cheeseburgers, Grilled Potatoes and Asparagus, Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns
I got a lot of good ideas from you last week for breakfast options...thanks!
This week, I'm wondering if you have any easy and healthy side dish ideas that pair well with steak. We recently purchased beef from a farmer. My husband's family all went in on a whole cow and now we have WAY more steaks than we're used to. My husband is just giddy about all this steak and I want to make sure we have other great foods to go with all this beef. Any ideas you have would be much appreciated!
As always, head over to I'm an Organizing Junkie for hundreds of menu plans and recipes.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

On It's Way!

I have been seeing this everywhere in recipes lately...

White Whole Wheat Flour

I searched my local grocery stores for it without luck. 

Then today I decided it's worth ordering online and took the plunge.  I'm sure it's going to make my bread and buns (for hamburgers, of course!) softer and more appealing to my white bread loving husband.  I can't wait!

Do you already use this in your baking?  Have you had good results?  Do you have any other tips for making bread healthier AND appealing to those who have grown up with white bread?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Our Garden

Even though my new camera hasn't arrived yet in the mail, I couldn't resist taking some pictures after we planted in our garden this weekend.  It's my first time gardening, so it felt like such a great accomplishment to get those plants and seeds in the ground.  We're starting small, 8' x 4', but we're trying tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, carrots, lettuce, onions, eggplant and cauliflower in that small space.  We also are trying the hanging basket of strawberries, two rhubarb plants and two raspberry bushes.  Now let's just see if anything grows!! 

Since this is my first garden, I was ecstatic to find out that I won a copy of Heavenly Homemaker's Guide to Gardening and Preserving in Kitchen Stewardship's giveaway!  My first time winning any blog giveaway. 

What about you: do you garden?  What is your number one tip in keeping your garden healthy AND organic?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

This Week's Menu Plan

This week I'm way ahead with my menu plan, so I thought I'd share.  I'm actually trying to plan two weeks in advance, but I'll just share this week's breakfasts and dinners.  I've found that our town's grocery store selection is ok, but for many things I prefer to go to the larger stores in neighboring towns.  So to limit the number of trips I take, I'm going to plan out my menu for two weeks and only go on the second week for perishables.  We'll see how it works! 

Here's the plan:

B- Scrambled Eggs
D- Taco Night with Homemade Tortillas and Seasoning (new recipes)

B- Apple Granola (new recipe)
D- Leftovers

B-Perpetual Pancakes (new recipe)

B- Eggs in a Hole
D- Tuna Sandwiches

B- Apple Granola with Crockpot Yogurt
D- Pizza Night

B- Scrambled Eggs and Sausages
D- Dinner out with Family

B- Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins (new recipe)
D- Grilled Steak and Grilled Broccoli (new recipe)

As you can see, I've got a lot of new recipes up my sleeve this week.  I'll share them if they turn out well. 

You'll also notice...NO CEREAL!!!  My husband and I are working out our morning routine to make breakfast together as a family possible.  Not only will we eat healthier, but we'll be able to share more time together! 

I wish all of you the best for this week...I hope it's delicious! 

If you want more menu plans and recipe ideas, head on over to Org Junkie for her Menu Plan Monday

Friday, May 14, 2010

Starting the Day off Right

For the last 20 years or so, I have always started my day with a bowl of cereal.  Granted, I tried to choose the ones I thought were healthy.

Raisin Bran...not Fruit Loops

Recently though, I've really been examining the areas in my diet where refined sugars sneak in. 

19 grams of sugar in that Raisin Bran?

No wonder I have an energy slump mid-morning! 

Starting with next week's menu plan, I will be adding breakfasts other than cereal to our daily menu.  Some of the options I've been brainstorming are:
I know this will be more work than simply pouring a bowl of cereal and milk, but since these breakfasts will be so delicious and healthy, I'm ready to give it a go! 

What is your favorite breakfast recipe?  Do you have any tips for making wholesome breakfasts a little easier?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

From Fruit Snacks to Fruit Leather

Ever since Easter, my son has been in LOVE with fruit snacks.  He asks for "nack" (how he says snack) all the time.  I've been giving him some just about every day, but I just hate how much sugar is in those things.  So, I've been looking for a good subsitution.  I think I may have found a new one...fruit leather.  I made my first batch yesterday and it turned out pretty well.  I followed the recipe, but think that our oven must be a little hotter, so they were a little dried out.  My son still gobbled them up though so I called it a success.  Once I perfect the process I will share my recipe (they are super easy to make!). 

Do you have any fruit snack type recipes that you'd recommend?  I'd love to try them out. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Moving Matters: How Much Physical Activity Do Families Need?

Now that we're getting settled into our new home, I've been thinking about our family's daily routines and which activities should take priority over others.  I am keeping in mind that my ultimate goal for our family is to be happy and healthy.  I feel like often times in trying to keep our family healthy, I focus mainly on the nutrition side of health.  The fitness side often gets pushed to the side.  This is probably because we have to eat, so it's much more obvious that good nutrition is important.  Also, when you're busy all day either working, making good food, and taking care of busy children, fitting in fitness is many times the last thing we want tackle. 

I really feel though that our family's physical condition is crucial to maintaining health.

Before I discuss how our family is making an active lifestyle a priority, I want to highlight how much activity the experts recommend. 

For my son, who's almost 18 months old, recommends 1 1/2 hours of minimum daily activity.  Of that, 30 minutes should be planned while 60 minutes can be free play.  The link will also take you to the recommended activity amounts for older children. 

For my husband and me, the American College of Sports Medicine and American Heart Association tell us that we should be getting:
  • moderately intense cardio 30 minutes per day, five days a week, OR
  • vigorously intense cardio 20 minutes per day, three days per week, AND
  • 8-10 strength exercises, 8-10 repetitions of each, two times per week
Well, now that I know the guidelines, I will use them as goals for our family to meet as a part of our daily and weekly routines. 

How about you?  Did you know about these recommendations?  Does your family already follow them or do you (like us) have room for improvement?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Homemade Ice Cream: First Time!

This past Christmas I asked for and received an ice cream maker in our family's gift exchange.  Since we had our house on the market and were in the process of moving until just recently, I didn't have a chance to use it until this week.  On Monday, after my grocery shopping, I started the process of making (delicious) homemade ice cream.  The ice cream maker is from Aroma, and I really have no complaints about it so far (after one use :)  I know there are tons of recipes out there for making ice cream, but I wanted to start with the basics, so I made the vanilla ice cream recipe from the Aroma manual. 

Yum, yum!  I love the vanilla flavor and the richness of the ice cream.  My husband says he loves the taste too.  My son loved watching the whole process, especially when I layered the ice and rock salt in the wooden bucket.  He kept saying, "peam," which is his word right now for ice cream.  And boy did he love it!  I can definitely envision this as a fun family activity for years to come. 

I froze the leftovers in plastic yogurt containers, which didn't work out the best.  Tonight when I went to scoop up a bowl, I tried to use a knife to loosen some of the ice cream from the edge of the container.  Well, I poked a hole right in the side of the container, so I'm going to have to think something more sturdy to put these delicious creations in.  Maybe just a regular ice cream bucket?  What do you use?

I'd love to hear from some of you experts out there.  What are your favorite recipes?  Now that I've made my first batch, I'd love to experiment with something new!      

(I apologize for the lack of pictures in this and upcoming posts.  My camera is currently out of commision and I'm trying to convince DH that we NEED a DSLR!)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Getting Back Into The Swing of Things

It really has been a long time since I last wrote here.  For a while in December, I took a break from blogging and reading blogs completely.  We put our house on the market and were so busy with cleaning.  We also bought a new house that was in desperate need of a deep cleaning.  In early April we sold our house and we're now settling into life in our new home.  It is a big change for me because I am now staying home full time.  I do work part time still at my job, doing scheduling for a large hospital in the metro area, but they are letting me try working from home.  This is wonderful because we get to keep our son home full time (no day care costs!) and I am still bringing in some additional income for our family.  Although it's been challenging trying to get my work hours in with a busy toddler around, I have managed so far.  I am mostly doing my work during his nap time and a little during the early mornings and late evenings.  My husband and I love our new home and look forward to spending many years here.  In another post I will include some pictures of our place. 

As for healthy living...we are still doing our best.  It is definitely a challenge trying to fit in workouts and they have taken a back burner as I adjust to being a full-time stay at home mom.  I do take my son for walks to the park every chance we get, but I have yet to set up my workout area in this new house.  This is something I'm looking forward to doing in the next month or so. 

I am still trying to make great meals for our family and gradually improve upon the quality of recipes I cook.  One challenge we have had recently is that we're travelling to see family quite a bit and that lends itself to eating out more often.  I'd like to have a better meal plan in place to try and avoid some of those restaurant stops when possible.  My kitchen is amazing though!  Our last house had such a tiny kitchen and eating space, and I'm just ecstatic to have a more spacious place to prepare our family's meals.  It has been so much fun to cook there and I really feel like I'm starting to get into a great groove with cooking. 

So, that is the update from our household.  Where are you with fitness and nutrition in your life right now?  Have you had any big changes in your life that have caused you to change your routines? 
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