Sunday, November 23, 2014

Menu Plan November 24-30

Yes, here we are, the last week of November. How in the world have we gotten this far in such a short time? At least it seems to me like this year has been shorter than usual. Time really does fly as you get older, I guess.

Of course, this week is Thanksgiving, so a lot of my time will be spent preparing for that. The turkey is already taken care of - a friend smoked ours in his big smoker. Ahhhh, it's going to be delicious!

I'm making my homemade mac and cheese with pepper jack, sausage stuffing and some cranberry sauce. Friends who are celebrating the holiday with us will be fixing other sides and desserts. It's going to be so much fun!

We will also spend some reflecting on what we have to be thankful for. We are so blessed, aren't we? We have a roof over our heads, food on the table for every meal, and countless other luxuries the rest of the world goes without.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving season and remember to count your blessings, too!

Now, here's what we've got on our menu:

Baked egg rolls, sesame garlic noodles

Brunswick stew (a friend's recipe), pretzel bread

Beef and potato hash, oven roasted zucchini

Happy Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving leftovers

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Turkey and rice soup in a crockpot

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Menu Plan November 17-23

After a cold weekend, it's going to get even colder here in the Deep South. Tuesday's forecast says the high is supposed to be 37 degrees. In November. We usually don't get temperatures like that until January or February, if at all. I'll be making some soup and some other comfort foods to keep us warm!

My brother and his family are going to visit on Saturday and Sunday because we won't have time to get together for Thanksgiving. So Sunday's dinner will be a mini-Thanksgiving feast. We've got a friend who's smoking a turkey for us, and I'll be preparing some other sides in my many crockpots. Should be fun!

Here's what I've got planned:

Beefy Spanish rice, corn

Oven roasted sausage and potatoes

Jambalaya, cheddar biscuits

Beef bourguinon, mashed potatoes


Creamy ham and potato soup, crusty bread

Smoked turkey, crockpot potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Homemade Rye Bread

I've always liked rye bread - the crunch of the caraway seeds and the overall tang in the bread.

I've made it my bread machine before, but it always turned out dense. This recipe, however, is lighter and not dense at all. It's not a dark rye loaf. And I really, really like it that way.

We eat this bread along soup or as the base for a good pastrami or BLT sandwich. It's perfectly tangy, too, from the addition of pickle juice! So good!

Here's what you need:

1 cup warm water
2 1/2 teas yeast
1 1/2 TBSP sugar
1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter
1/4 cup dill pickle juice (I just strain it straight from the pickle jar)
2 cups unbleached bread flour (I use King Arthur)
1 cup rye flour
2 TBSP vital wheat gluten
2 TBSP caraway seeds
1 1/2 teas sea salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, yeast and sugar.  Allow to stand for about 5 minutes or until puffy.

Stir in the remaining ingredients. Using the dough hook, mix the dough until it's combined but still a little sticky and shaggy looking. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, knead with the dough hook again until smooth, adding a little more flour if necessary. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour.

Punch the dough down and shape into a loaf. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Alternatively, you can shape the dough and put it into a greased 9x5 loaf pan. Using a sharp knife, make a slash down the center of the loaf lengthwise. Cover and let rise for another hour.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Brush with melted butter to soften the crust a little.

Here's a closer look so you can see the caraway seeds:
After enjoying this bread, my family never wants to go back to store bought rye bread again!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Menu Plan November 10-16

It seems like our lives are getting busier and busier as the holidays approach, so this is going to be an easy meal week. I've got some casseroles on the menu, as well as some crockpot meals. I'm only trying one new recipe this week, and I hope it's a winner!

So here's what I've got:

Zucchini casserole, roasted carrots

Chicken cordon bleu casserole, broccoli

Crockpot beef tips with gravy, mashed potatoes

Pancakes, bacon and scrambled eggs

Deep dish pizza

Vegetable beef soup, crusty bread

Crockpot cowboy casserole, green beans
For more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Some Family Photos

Two weeks ago we had our family pictures taken by a former student of mine who is now a photographer. The last time we had pictures done by a professional, the children were small enough to sit on our laps. Yeah, it was time.

 This picture pretty much encapsulates what our family is like. I love it!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Menu Plan November 3-9

We hosted our annual soup party on Saturday and it was a huge success! We sampled 11 different kinds of soup, including chicken gnocchi, chili, broccoli cheese, and chicken enchilada. And the weather was perfect - crisp and cool. We had 38 people in attendance, including kids. We enjoy hosting, but I'm going to lie when I say I'm glad it will be a year before we do it again!

Here's a blurry pic of the soup table:
I thought maybe my family would be souped out, but when I was planning this week's menu, they were all very eager to have more soup. And I'm very happy to prepare it.

Here's what we've got on the menu:

Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread

Italian sausage sandwiches, fries

Beef and beef taco casserole

Girls Night with friends, hubby and kids will fend for themselves

Homemade pizza

Seafood chowder, rosemary Parmesan bread

Roast beef sandwiches, crockpot roasted potatoes
For more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Need Help Planning a Disney Trip?

You all know I love, love, love going to Disney World. But I'll be honest, planning a trip to Disney can be hard, especially if it's your first trip. There are so many things you need to think about - when to go, what resort to stay at, where to eat. What exactly are Fast Passes and how do you use them? And of course, everyone wants to get a good deal, right?

Then please, let me direct you to a dear friend of mine who has become a certified Disney travel agent. Her name is Shannon and she loves Disney as much as I do. She knows all the ins and outs of Disney vacations. And she'll be able to get you the best deal on your family fun!
Just click on the button above to go to Shannon's website. She can give you a free quote on any Disney vacation - not just Disney World.

I know Shannon personally and can tell you she has the highest integrity and desire to help others. She will look out for you as if you were her own family. If a Disney trip is in your future, let her do the leg work for you. You don't pay her a cent. She gets paid by Disney. 

So why not let Shannon help you plan your family's perfect Disney vacation? Tell her I sent you!