Monday, February 25, 2013

Garlic Pork Roast with Sweet Potatoes

This was on my Once a Month Mom schedule for February and we've eaten it twice in two weeks and devoured it. Its amazing, so I wanted to share.

Garlic Pork Roast with Sweet Potatoes
Author/Source: Get Crocked, adapted by me.

Makes 8 servings.

1tsp olive oil
About 3 pounds of pork, I used pork chops, you could use a roast
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 medium onion, sliced into thin rings
5 tsps garlic, minced
1/4 tsp poultry seasoning (?? I skipped this)
1/4 cup apple juice or white wine (I used apple juice)
3 1/4 cup sweet potatoes, cubed (about one large one)
1 cup chicken broth

Divide the ingredients into two freezer bags. Freeze/Thaw. Cook on low in crockpot for 7-8 hours.

I served it tonight with CousCous (husband) and Macaroni & Cheese (kids). It was a hit, again. I need to double it next time so we have enough for leftovers.

Race Report: Sentinel 8k Run

I just love going into a race knowing I am going to PR. Of course, it helps when I am running a brand new distance! Today I ran the Sentinel Chase 8k on Fort Huachuca. An 8k race is just shy of 5 miles. My goal was to do it under 1 hour, I was SO CLOSE! My Nike+ watch said I crossed the line at 1:00:55, the clock at the finish line said an even 1:01:00. I'm still awaiting chip times, but even so, I'm very pleased with this race.

While the logistics of the race were a bit frazzled (it was the first time this group had done this race) the course was great. It was something I was very comfortable with, as I've run pretty much every road on this installation this year.

Mile Splits:
Mile 1: 10:30
Mile 2: 12:22 (a few walk breaks, mile 2 is always the hardest)
Mile 3: 12:18
Mile 4: 11:59
Mile 5: 11:51

The average pace was 11:43, which is significantly faster than my last race. I'm well on my way to hit my sub 3hour goal at my half-marathon next week.

As I get pictures I will add them here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cooking for the Month, Lasanga Soup

Since this got a lot of comments on my Facebook page, here is the Recipe.

Lasagna Soup
Adapted from A Farm Girl's Dabble, taken from Once a Month Mom (and some revisions from me)
Serves 8

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound lean Italian Sausage, chopped into 1-inch sections (I just used ground sausage)
  • 3 cups onions, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1.5 cups carrots, finely chopped (I omitted these entirely)
  • 2 cans (28 oz) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups chicken broth
Cheese Mixture
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 8 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 2 cups part-skim mozzarella  cheese, shredded
Pasta - 8 ounces crushed lasagna pasta (for serving day)

Directions (if you are serving right away, then don't freeze....)
Mix the cheeses together, separate into two sandwich bags, freeze flat, (with minimal air inside them).
Heat oil in large pot over medium heat, brown sausage  then add onions until they are softened. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for one minute. Mix in tomato paste, for a few more minutes. Add carrots, tomatoes, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce for 30 minutes on simmer. 

Then, when it cools, I divide it into 2 gallon sized freezer bags and then freeze it. And, right now, I think it tastes so good, I may not even add the pasta!

Nutritional Facts: Calories 282, Total Fat 15g, Sat Fat 6.6g, Total  Carbs 15.1g, Fiber 2.4g, Protein 21,9g, Weight Watchers Points: 7

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cooking for the Month, Step One

This morning, Abigail and I went shopping for our month of food. The best part about Once a Month Mom, is the detailed shopping list. It comes in an Excel spreadsheet (can't you hear my yelling yay! all the way over there?) and you can alter the recipes by the number of servings. I cook for 4. This gives us at least one leftover portion for lunch.

The list is broken down by section of the store, produce, meats, grains, canned, etc. And it gives you the amount you need. Luckily, I have a math brain because the list says things like .67 cups of spinach. I know this is 2/3 cup, but some of you may have to utilize the handy conversion chart.

After pouring through my cupboards  meat stash in the freezer, and my coupons, I pared down my list and was ready to shop. Abigail was my shopping partner today and she asked to bring a snack and Fancy Nancy, her newest book obsession. The commissary was pretty empty, I went about 15 minutes after they opened, on the first day after payday weekend. It was heavenly. We only backtracked once because I had some issues finding beans. We had an interesting discussion about baked beans, which Abigail asked that I buy so she can have them with chicken nuggets and broccoli. I obliged, because she's never asked for broccoli before. An hour in the store, just under $100 (thanks coupons!) and I had everything I needed for these meals. There are 15, by the way, and most of them make enough for two meals. A few are snacky/lunch type foods and 3 are breakfasts. I plan to utilize one of the breakfasts for dinner, though.

I unpacked, cleaned the kitchen, fed Abi and put her down for a nap. Then I turned on my latest Audiobook (Gone Girl - its fantastic!) and got to work. I found the Chopping List to be distracting, and not entirely helpful. I think I prefer to go through recipe by recipe and complete one at each time. This process is different from my crockpot meals, because some of them need to be cooked partially or fully before frozen. This takes longer, but I'm ok with that because variety is good.

I started with Spinach Mac and Cheese cups, baked in a muffin tin, that flash frozen, and stored in plastic bags to accompany soup or sandwiches. I cooked the whole box of pasta for another easy meal later on, and froze the rest of that.

Then I moved onto the easy assembly meals.

  • Garlic Pork Roast with Sweet Potatoes
  • Chicken Provencal with White Beans
  • Tuna Stuffed Bell Peppers (which are frozen in an aluminum 8x8 pan with a top. This is new for me.
Then I made the Pasta e Fagioli Soup. This was much more time intensive, a lot of chopping and about 30 minutes of time on the stove. But, once it cools and I divide it out, I will have another 2 meals. 

Tomorrow I will tackle the rest, I already have some of the meat defrosting that needs to be cooked, and tonight I will cook up some bacon that is needed for a casserole dish. But, for today, I'm enjoying my afternoon coffee, making a game plan for efficiency in tomorrow's kitchen and trying to decide what we are eating tonight. Happy Cooking!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Freezer Cooking, Once a Month

A friend of mine received a membership to Once a Month Mom, a wonderful website where they give you recipes, shopping lists, printable labels, and directions for your food for the month. I'm always looking for new freezer recipes, so I took a look at the website, and last night, at the shopping lists and recipes she had printed out. I was hooked. This site does it all for you. They have multiple options for meals, gluten free, paleo, diet, traditional, whole foods, and even do a baby food menu. All the recipes are free, the membership gets you the extras. The shopping list that you can alter based on how many people you are cooking for, the recipe cards so you can make it easy on cooking day. For $8 a month or $72 a year, (and you pay via paypal for immediate satisfaction and access to all the good stuff) they do all the preparation for you. That's about an hour of your time (I'm using the average minimum wage here) and you would spend MUCH more time gathering recipes, preparing the amounts you need to buy, etc. This is well worth it.

I'm cooking this week for the next month. Lucky for me, we hit Costco last month and are well stocked on meats. So I think I have to buy maybe one pound of sausage for this month's worth of meals. Ok, I can handle that. I'm now scouring through my pantry and cabinets to determine what I actually need to buy. I love knowing that I have things, it cuts the price way down. Oh, did I mention the Google Docs Spreadsheet they give you for shopping has places you can include the cost, so you get an accurate idea of how much you are spending on food? Yeah, its pretty awesome.

Abigail and I will go shopping on Tuesday, and then I will cook a few meals as we go through the rest of the week. Then my freezer will be full again, and we'll be set for another month. Stay tuned for all the recipes I'm making and how much this endeavor actually cost me.

Monday, February 11, 2013

February Project - Purchases

I'm so excited that I have gotten so much work done on this section that its time to purchase some items to make it easier to maintain.

From this wonderful website, I ordered these two items.

The black, flat, mail in/out tray will be perfect for sorting mail and our paperwork that needs to go somewhere. And the charging station is just perfection. It can charge a tablet, a laptop, and 3 smaller devices (our two phones and the ipod) without the ugly cords and they will all be in one place.

Halfway through the budget and almost halfway through the month. Even better, I think I'm more than halfway done with this project! All that is left is filing the stack of papers I've decided are important enough to keep.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

52 Week Money Plan - Week 7

Remember this? We started 2013 with an envelope, a list and $1. Well, we are now starting week 7, so you should have $28 in that account, or envelope. 

If you did it in reverse, you should have $343. 

How are you doing? Have you forgotten? Do you know what you're going to do with this money? Is it in a savings account somewhere or in cash?

(This is your friendly reminder to keep saving!)

Monday, February 4, 2013

More Freezer Cooking

I've really embraced this Freezer Cooking and I'm so glad that I have! We are eating out less and eating healthier in general. I wanted to take the time to share some new recipes with you.

Lemon Pork Chops
4 boneless pork chops
24 oz tomato sauce
1 onion, quartered and sliced
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1T lemon-pepper seasoning (I use Mrs. Dash)
1T Worcestershire Sauce
1-2 Lemons (halved)

Put everything in the crockpot (or freezer bag and then crockpot) and cook on low for 8 hours. It is recommended to serve with rice or couscous, but I just steamed some broccoli and mixed it all together. It was awesome, and the reserve sauce would be perfect on some (veggie) spaghetti.

1.5 pounds ground beef
2 large onions
1 3/4 cup stock
8oz salsa
1 T tomato paste
1 T chili powder
1 t cumin
1/2 c raisins

Cook the onions and ground beef and then add everything else to the bag. Freeze. Thaw and cook for 7-8 hours on low. Serve with rice, pasta, or tortillas. (I split the recipe into two bags.)

Brown Sugar Chicken
6 chicken breasts
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup lemon-lime soda
2/3 cup vinegar
3 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped
2T soy sauce
1t pepper

Cook on low for 6-9 hours or high for 4-5. The chicken falls apart in the crockpot. So yummy!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

February Project: Step One

So, I decided to tackle the project by dealing with what is currently in the "home office area." Then, as I get that organized, set up the way I like, I can add the rest of the stuff (ie, paperwork, office supplies, computer wires) to an already organized area.

I'm starting with the baskets/bags/boxes of stuff underneath. As I find paperwork, I am putting it either in the plastic bin I am using as file cabinet OR directly into the shredder. This should truly make life easier. At least, I hope.

After the bottom half is done, I am moving to the mounds of paperwork on top of the printer. Same concept, in the box to be filed or shredded. And, I already have a cup for pens, a few baskets for envelopes, stamps, etc.

This blogger, highly suggests a Home Mail System Organizer. Awesome! I have one! It has enough slots for:

  • bills to be paid/checks to be cashed
  • outgoing mail 
  • And a "to be dealt with later" section
  • And, it has a spot for our keys, which is key

Now, I fully plan on color-coordinating and organizing our file system, but right now, I'm focused on getting it all in one place and off of the desk.

And, look at all this open wall space! I have tons of room to add shelving, wire baskets, etc to make things more functional. I have some idea of things I want to purchase, but I'm going to try to reuse as many things in my house as possible, so I can come in under budget. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

February Organization Challenge

I've decided to take each month and work on one room/section of our house. I want the house to be clean, organized, easy to clean, functional, and rid of stuff we don't need. This month I'm starting with the computer area/home office.

Here is the before picture.

Obviously there is a lot to consolidate and organize. We have more computer wires than any family every should have. I still have a box of paper to shred (I'm so embarrassed to say it was actually packed up and moved with us in a box.) And I have a stack of "semi-important" papers to file/shred/etc.

I'm giving myself $100 budget to complete this task. I plan to use things we already have in the house as much as possible, but want to be able to buy functional, nice looking things to make the area more efficient. I've even got a Pinterest board dedicated to this month's project.

I bet you just can't wait to see the final result!

Friday, February 1, 2013

January Recap

January was a very busy month for this family. Declan started pre-k and absolutely loves it! Abigail goes part-time to a neighbor while I go to work. Yes, that's right work. I'm now gainfully (part-time) employed. Husband had surgery to remove the hardware from his icy-fall in 2010. I put in 50 miles of half-marathon training in January, hit a personal record on a 10k race, facilitated three workshops, and read 10 books.

February is a short month, but today is the first day and my calendar is packed already. I have two local workshops, one where I am travelling to New Mexico, another new race distance, 8k at the end of the month, and hopefully I get to read a few more books.

Health and Exercise:
50 miles in January is the most miles I've ever run in one month. By far, I may add. Before his, the most miles in a month was 37 in February of 2012. Wow, just looking at the numbers shows how far I've come in this running journey. My goal for February is 75 miles. And I'm going to continue to focus on other aspects of my health/exercise. A fellow runner/busy mom/fitness friend is doing a few other challenges and I'm going to hop in with her on that. Also, I'm cutting out all soda. That is right, making a HUGE commitment to that now. NO SODA FOR FEBRUARY. NONE. If you see me with a soda can, take-out cup, etc. Please, take it from me, through it away, and then make me do 10 burpees. Right there, no excuses.

I'm still reading the Scarpetta Series in order, I'm going to hit the library today and pick up numbers 8 through 10 and start on them after I clean the house today. I'm also hosting Book Club tomorrow and hope to meet some new people who enjoy reading and get some new ideas on books. I'm about 6% ahead of schedule on my 75 books in 2013 goal.

All in all, January has been excellent. I'm thoroughly enjoying work and getting much more comfortable dressing up every day. I'm very happy with our new house and our life here, but I am looking forward to seeing old friends and family in the coming months. Hope you all had a wonderful January!