Beautiful Work

Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands…. Psalm 90:17a

Happy Thanksgiving November 27, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate @ 12:22 pm

Let them give thanks to the LORD
for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for men.
Psalm 107:8

I hope everyone is having a wonderful thanksgiving day and able to celebrate with friends and family!  Amidst all of the great food, the excitement for the holidays and the fun with friends, it is good for me to remember that today is a day to give thanks to God for all that he has done.  Not just for the things that He has given us, but for His love for us. 


Some like it Tart – Remix. November 26, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leah @ 6:00 am

I somewhat randomly decided to change up my favorite Thanksgiving recipe yesterday….(crazy, I know!).  :-)  Here’s what I ended up with….and I Love It!!!

Cranberry Orange Relish – the Remix

1 orange

1 12oz. bag fresh cranberries

2 apples

1/2 – 1 cup chopped pecans

3/4 -1 cup sugar

Put orange (peel and all), apples and cranberries through your kitchen grinder (or food processer – pulse to a coarse chop).  Stir in sugar and pecans, refrigerate several hours (if not days…) before serving.  Stir and enjoy!


Free Your Space Friday November 21, 2008

Filed under: Free Your Space — Andie @ 6:43 am

Okay, here is a challenge for all of us. Take 15 minutes to go through some clothing (be it in a laundry basket, a child’s drawer, your closet, or your bag of winter mittens) and put the stuff you don’t need or want in a plastic bag to give away. If it is covered in stains or a mitten missing it’s match, probably no one will want it, so throw those away :)


Dinners for the month November 20, 2008

Filed under: Meal Planning — Kate @ 11:17 am

I have been doing freezer cooking for a whole year now!  Before that I tried everything from not doing any planning, to writing out a dinner menu each week … but the freezer cooking has worked really well for our family during the last year!  I do a big cook day (and put 35-50 meals in the freezer) about every other month.  This has allowed me to have more time with my family during the pre-dinner hours, to not have to sit down and plan meals every week, to not eat leftovers all the time (or throw away leftovers that didn’t get eaten), and to have fun cooking together with other friends on a cook day.

At the beginning of each month I print out a calendar for the month.  I look at my kitchen calendar and put in any trips we might have planned or dinner plans that have been made in advance and figure those into my planning.  Then I begin to fill in the dinner meals for each day (sometimes dinner and lunch on Sundays,) using the meals that I have in my freezer as a guide.  I probably use about 5-6 frozen meals per week since usually we do homemade pizza one night a week, we may do dinner with friends one night, a date night out, or actually make something easy together (we love mac n/cheese, nachos, or breakfasts for dinner!)  So then I have my plan (note: I do not stick to this totally, and many times rotate what we eat on what days, but it helps me to have it all out there if I don’t have more time to plan!) and I tack it up on the fridge.

An example of my monthly menu.

An example of my monthly menu.

Each week I sit down with my monthly menu and write out my grocery list based on the dinners planned and restocking for lunches, breakfasts, staples, and snacks.  I try to buy things that are on sale and use coupons to get some great deals!

Side note: When Matt and I were both working, I was doing a weekly meal plan and putting that up on the fridge.  This was helpful because even if Matt got home before I did, he could still get a jump start on dinner!


Don’t tie me down!!! November 19, 2008

Filed under: Meal Planning,Uncategorized — Gretchen @ 9:13 am

When it comes to meals I HATE PLANNING!!  However, this hatred does not serve me well when I have to have dinner ready for 6 plus people every night or want to extend hospitality which I LOVE doing.  I have discovered that I really like being creative with food.  I love trying new things and knowing how to tweak a recipe to make it better.  So with so many conflicts for me to sift through I will just share my general philosophy :)

  1. I always keep my pantry stocked with common/seasonal items.  For example, during soup season I usually always have carrots, celery, onions, all kinds of beans, chicken stock and canned tomatoes.  During the summer months I make a lot of cold salads so I keep farmer’s market produce, cous cous, pasta and tuna.  I have learned what I like to make during the different seasons and adjust the groceries accordingly.  We have people over enough that really nothing I buy goes to waste.
  2. I have some simple, basic recipes that are my fall back recipes.  This provides me a platform to branch out but not always feel the pressure of having to come up with something new every night.
  3. I do plan meals for nights when I know we are having guests or for the holidays.
  4. My current favorite meals are those I can pop in the oven and set the timer and leave it :)
  5. I always have different recipes running through my head, so I will have an idea for the recipes I want to make for like a 2 week period so when I go to the grocery store I keep those in mind and buy accordingly.  I have made so many recipes that I can now go to the grocery store and if there is a mega sale on hamburger rather than pork and I can adjust (or whatever).  I am trying in general to cut back on meat and cook more with beans and such to save money.
  6. Friday night is NACHO night!!!!
  7. I have trained my older daughter to make pancakes for Saturday morning or breakfast for dinner :)

Meal Planning: The Card With Some Flex Method

Filed under: Homemaking,Meal Planning — Leah @ 8:00 am

Yes, I know the title is a little dorky.  I am lacking in creative juices at the moment…

Meal planning in our home involves me sitting down with 2 index cards, my pile of current magazines (Rachel Ray, Sunset, & Cooking Light), my favorite 2 cookbooks, and my recipe box FULL of recipes from friends and family members.  Because I love to try new recipes whenever I can, I pull recipes from the magazines first- listing them on the lined side of my first index card.  Recipe names on the left (with any applicable side dishes) and where that recipe can be found on the right.  Next I pull recipes from my cookbooks and then last I complete any empty lines on the card with recipes from my box.  As I go, I list out the groceries I need to make the meal on the blank side of the other index card- produce and bulk goods separated from the rest.  Lastly, I rummage through my collected coupons for any that might be of use and check ads for any deals I might need to take advantage of.

I tried to put my meals on specific days, but this was a little too structured for me.  I like the flexibility of picking an easy meal off my list for a busy (or lazy!!) day, and a more complicated one for those days I am excited about cooking.  I try to grab something for a fun Saturday AM breakfast (a coffee cake, overnight french toast, or fritatta) as well as a few nights of homemade pizza (Fridays!) while at the store too.  If I am making meatballs or some kind of taco meat (crock-pot!), I usually make 2-3 batches at once and freeze the rest for a busy day that lays ahead.  This method of meal planning lasts us about 3 weeks of our month, so we do end up doing a small trip at the end to replenish some produce to get us through to the next payday.  And of course, with small kids, there are always those trips in the meantime for things like milk and bananas!  :-)

Whew.  That was a mouthful.  Thanks for reading, I hope our methods encourage you to also find the plan that fits your family best!  Happy eating!


Meal Planning: the keep on keeping on method November 17, 2008

Filed under: Meal Planning — Andie @ 3:55 pm

Now I have collected my brain and remembered that this week’s topic is: meal planning. We’ll all describe how we go about planning our meals each week. Then, next week we’ll each give you a sample of a week’s meal plan. 

Meal planning is definitely a style thing. I have probably tried every style on for size… plan dinners a month ahead, plan dinners a week ahead, cycle weekly meal plans through until we run out and lastly, buy a bunch of groceries and decide daily what to eat. I don’t feel that I’ve found my perfect solution to meal planning. I just keep trying different things and trying to find a sustainable model!

What I’m currently doing is taking some time each week to  finding about 4 recipes I’d like to cook. Then, I come up with my grocery list (last week I used ALDI’s planner). I add our staples to the grocery list, which are things like bread, tortillas, multigrain pasta,  yogurt, milk, eggs, frozen chicken breasts, fresh produce that’s on sale, etc. Then, I have all these things on hand for breakfast, lunches and simple dinner nights. Usually I find that 4 recipes is enough to give me some structure in my meal plan, but also enables me to be spontaneous on the 3 other nights I haven’t planned for.

After buying the ingredients I need for my recipes and buying our staples, I usually decide daily what recipe to use. I take into consideration what items will go bad quickly and use them early in the week. If something comes up and my dinner prep time is more cramped than I expected, then we go simple with  quesadillas and canned fruit, or breakfast burritos and sliced apples. Or I pull out one of the freezer meals I have made with my cooking group

I’m a big fan on one pan/pot dinners. I do not feel the need to have a main dish, two side items, salad and dessert for every dinner. At my table you will often find  a hearty soup and bread or stir fry with rice, or some sort of casserole that ties in multiple food groups. 

So, this is what works for us, based on my personality and my husband’s meal preferences. He is totally okay with those breakfast burrito nights and is usually not too particular about what’s for dinner. Again, I’d like to emphasize that meal planning is not “one size fits all.” We hope you will be helped by hearing what each of us do and gleaning ideas to use in your unique home.