Pinterest challenge – mason jar gifts!

First let me tell ya that I will be moving to WordPress! Yay! And you know what? You can add this link to your reader feed:
I will be here for a few more weeks and I’ll keep reminding y’all so all my sweet followers can, uh, follow me in my new online home.

Okay, NOW we continue our regularly scheduled post.

Yeah, I am a few days late, but seeing this challenge pop up in some of my favorite sites got my butt in gear. That, and the fact that the pears on the tree were finally turning a gorgeous golden yellow.

I got plenty of canning and packaging inspiration from Pinterest:

Source: via Amy on Pinterest

I would LOVE to have a pantry filled with canned goods!

Source: via Michelle on Pinterest

These are ADORABLE all packaged up for Christmas!

Okay, seriously. WOW. If I ever manage half of this, I will be so proud of myself!

Source: via Kristin on Pinterest

I started to think up ideas for the extra jars I had – scrubs would be great, don’t you think?

Source: via Kelly on Pinterest

How cute are these with their color-coordinated tags?

I was lucky that my mother-in-law came over to can pears with me because I sliced up my finger with a fruit corer and she had to take over – no worries, we cleaned the corer and threw away the pear I’d been working on – but we had a good morning, chatting as we processed the fruit, and me planning in my head how I’d package up the finished goods.

This is what we picked from the tree the night before, my oldest was a super helper:

Soaking in their Fruit Fresh so they’ll keep their pretty color:

Cooking down – we did some in sugar and some in Splenda. We did lots of tasting and they were yummy!

The smaller jars in front are pear butter, so good!

I also made some sugar scrubs – there are lots of great recipes at Tip Junkie.

I chose to go with a simple label I made in Photoshop, some ribbon/yarn and bits of a Christmas (fake) branch we had from last year’s decor.

While I don’t have an entire pantry full of canned goods, I do have a couple of small shelves full of these, and they make me happy. Maybe next year I’ll get many more tomatoes and I’ll be able to can lots of yummy sauce!

Hope you enjoyed my Pinterest Challenge!

I'm topsy turvy tuesdays

Nuh-oh is so good for you

My youngest’s love for oatmeal cannot be denied. It is a love that is all encompassing, and it is also a love that keeps him regular – win/win! It started with my oldest, in fact, who started eating some of the oatmeal my mom would make for her own breakfast, and then it became a ritual. He outgrew his love of oatmeal but once my youngest started eating it, he was hooked.

Because of his autism, my little boy was slow to speak, and when he wanted his favorite food, he couldn’t say oatmeal, so he settled on “nuh-oh”. Now he has no problem saying oatmeal but he still prefers to call it nuh-oh and I think it will be nuh-oh until he’s all grown and out of the house.

My mom uses the packaged instant oatmeal but I’ve switched to the quick 1-minute oats that come in the big tubs. And I know, I know, everyone knows how to make oatmeal, but I just wanted to share what I do to make my boy’s breakfast as nutritious as possible.

This is about twice the amount that would be in an instant packet
The gorgeous canister label is from Leen’s shop, I love them.

We use rice milk because of my son’s (and my) allergies
Trader Joe’s has the cheapest price in rice milk, and since my son eats oatmeal 3 times a day AND drinks it as well, I make sure to stock up.

After two minutes in the microwave
I add a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter for some good protein.

The bulk oatmeal has a lot less sugar than the instant packets, but I do add some honey
both for flavoring and because it helps his allergies.

The last touch
is a bit of cinnamon, yum yum.

I usually add a sliced banana, but the ones I had were super green, so this was Sunday’s breakfast for my little guy:
Warm, hearty, flavorful, and it fills his belly with lots of goodness.

It’s so good that I’ve been known to make myself a bowl to warm up on a chilly morning. I usually skip the banana, but it gives me a good start to the day. As I was editing this post, my son came over and smiled as I showed him each picture in sequence. When I showed him the last one, he threw his hands in the air and said, “nuh-oh!”. He REALLY loves his oatmeal.

BTW, have you heard that peanut butter prices are going up? I’ve stocked up, just in case!

Beauty and Bedlam

Results of the Pinterest menu week!

Last week I decided to make some meals from the items I have pinned on Pinterest – I didn’t get to make all of them, but here are my opinions on the ones I did make:

The 3-ingredient (pork tenderloin, root beer, bbq sauce) pulled pork was pretty tasty. Both my husband and I enjoyed it. It wasn’t spectacular by any means but I think we would have needed other ingredients for that. The meat was tender and juicy and you could not taste the root beer at all. It is a very good base recipe and I would add some other spices next time.

This sandwich was underwhelming for me. The bean/avocado puree makes for a very nice spread and I will use it again, but it needed stronger flavors. My husband enjoyed it, though.

I made these as an accompaniment to the pulled pork sandwiches and they were very good. You could go a whole bunch of different ways with these depending on what you put on top.

We both enjoyed this pasta dish, but the sauce really merits something more succulent. Maybe next time we will serve it over a nice filet.

So there you have it, a nice batch of meals overall, we didn’t have one bad meal although a couple of them I would play around with and change up a bit. It was definitely nice to have a few new meals in our rotation!!

What’s the use of pinning . . .

if you don’t put your pinning to good use? This week’s menus are taken straight from Pinterest, I’ve been collecting recipes for a few weeks now and figured it was time to use them – I’ll report on the results next week, but here are the meals my family will be (hopefully!) enjoying this week:

Wish us luck!

Veggie lasagna

On Saturday night we had some friends over – my oldest and their middle child met at preschool and became friends and now we’re friends with the parents. I decided to try a veggie lasagna and came upon this recipe, but I had a hankering for spinach, so I added two bunches of spinach to the mis:
I was shocked that my oldest had a few bites, he is very anti-sauce when it comes to his pasta, but I think seeing his friend and the rest of us eating it was a good incentive. My little one sat on my lap and ate piece after piece, but then again, he’s always been up for trying new food.

One of my habits when I make something like lasagna is to double the recipe. It is not hard to make at all but it is a little more labor intensive than my usual dinners, so I figure, make twice the amount and enjoy some later in the week. Same whenever I decide to make roast chicken, I roast two and enjoy the second one in soups, salads, tacos, etc. Even if I am just sauteing chicken breasts or making a beef roast, making a double batch is a great way to save time later on.

My poor husband was quarantined in the bedroom so he didn’t eat with us, and I figure when he is feeling better I’ll have some yummy veggie goodness for him to regain his strength.

Organizing: Meal Planning

I’ve been slowly getting into the Once a Month cooking idea. Not completely, because with my boys being picky eaters and my husband needing lunch as well as dinner (he works from home) I couldn’t possibly cook an entire month’s worth of meals in one day. But, three times now I have cooked and made more than one “batch” of the same meal, twice to freeze for future meals and once to share with a dear friend.

The two meals I made to freeze were from Fix, Freeze, Feast and they were both delicious, but you can find freezer recipes throughout the web, and of course, at The Martha’s website. Some recipes I will try next week are Chicken and Rice soup, Mini Meatballs, and her Basil Pesto, with one modification: I prefer to make mine half basil and half spinach. The original recipe with all basil can be a bit overpowering to me, and I like the idea of squeezing in some extra veggies wherever I can.

Got any freezer-friendly recipes you’d like to share?

Organizing: Menu Planning

I have been planning weekly menus for the past few months and I have to say it has made a difference. From the amount of money we spend to the quality of the food my family eats, it’s a difference for the better.

I like to use AllRecipes because the reviews are real as opposed to a place like, where you have people praising the shit Sandra Lee “cooks” and Rachael Ray’s “recipes“. Come on.

Also, at AllRecipes, you select the recipes you want to cook and it creates a shopping list for you. Easy peasy. I recently made lasagna for the very first time – for a couple of foodie friends, no less – and it was pretty tasty, if I do say so myself.

My goal this year is to fine tune my menu planning process and try different cuisines. My husband loves Indian and Thai food so I will be trying some of those recipes this year. What are your favorite recipe sources?

Well Preserved

Well Preserved is the title of an awesome book I got a couple of weeks ago – I am so excited to try some of the recipes! It’s all about preserving food, which is something fairly new to me. I have made fruit jam and frozen lots of stuff but am new to canning/dehydrating.

The author is pretty no-nonsense, there is no pretentious bullshit, the recipes look yummy and the preserving instructions crystal-clear. It’s a really good book if you want to try your hand at preserving food in small quantities.

One I mean to try as soon as the main ingredient is available is the Cherries in Wine recipe – for every preserving recipe there are three recipes on how to use your newly preserved item. Did that make sense? For example, you get a Cherries in Wine preserving recipe, then recipes for Cherry Tenderloin, Seared Duck Breast with Cherries, and Cherries in Wine Soup with Mascarpone. Yum.

Between this book and my newly acquired dehydrator, I think we are going to have some very happy bellies this year!