What’s for Dinner?

Funny enough, this new series called “What’s for Dinner” was a suggestion a few months ago by my husband. He knew I struggled sometimes with what to have for dinner and he knew everyone probably had days they struggled too.

We both decided that using my store’s ad to plan these meals would not only give inspiration but also be a tool to see how much each meal would approximately cost.

I have given you 7 meal choices this week. Pick and choose any that sound good to you. These are just suggestions and can be modified to fit your lifestyle, food preferences and budgets. Also in the summer with your own  home gardens and farmers markets the costs of these meals with be even less.

I have typed the meal suggestions into a Word document for easy printing. They each include a shopping list, breakdown of costs and the instructions or recipe needed to prepare the meal.

Hopefully these suggestions will give you some inspiration and help make your evening meal planning less stressful. Believe me I have heard plenty of times “I don’t know” or “whatever you want to make honey” more than my fair share.

I would love some constructive feedback if you are willing. I would also welcome any meal suggestions that are favorites of your family’s .

Here is the link to What’s for dinner week 1

Enjoy! -MM

 

If I was 20 Again…

20 year old me
Me, my mom, grandmother, and sister at my sister’s wedding

I often think to myself, what would the 20 year old me say about the 40 year old me? Would I be happy with what I saw?

I think so. To a point.

I think I would be happy with my 40 year old body. I only weigh 5 pounds more than I did at 20. Not too much is sagging yet. I color the gray hairs. I definitely have better hair since I didn’t know a thing about a flat iron when I was 20. After having my son, my body didn’t have tons of stretch marks so I would be happy about that. I wouldn’t be happy that I am too lazy to wear my contacts though. I would not have been caught dead wearing my glasses when I was 20.

At 20 I was engaged to my now ex-husband. I think the 20 year old me would be sad that it didn’t work out for us. As far as my wonderful current husband? I think the 20 year old me would be a little creeped out that I was married to a man 10 years my senior. Haha sorry honey. You know how kids are.

Would my 20 year old self be happy with my now almost 14 year old son? Heck yeah! He’s such a cutie and he’s athletic (not like me) and super smart (kinda like me).

How about career? Um, probably not. For one thing I work for my ex-husband and although the 20 year old me would think it was great we could get along she would still think it was weird. Secondly, at 20 I was studying to be a Chiropractor. Chiropractor…baker…nope not the same thing. Thirdly, I would have been disappointed that I wasn’t making a million dollars a year salary. Our 20 year old selves can be a bit naive.

I am not sure how the 20 year old me would feel about living in her grandparent’s house which means living next to her parents. At the time I was really worried that the house was going to be willed to me some day and I wasn’t sure I wanted it. Now if you asked the 30 year old me I would have said absolutely NOT! I wanted an 1800s home to fix up with a fireplace and a huge yard and I wanted to live in the village and walk to church. I did get that home in my 3o’s but sadly had to sell it. So here I am owning my grandparents house living next to my parents. The 20 year old is rolling her eyes.

If there was one thing the 20 year old me would not be please at all about it would be the financial debt we are in. It would have terrified her. She would be scolding me right now. “What is WRONG with you?” “How could you have let this happen?” “Here I am working my butt off at 3 jobs so you won’t have any student debt and this happens?” “I am very disappointed in you.” I know, I know. Life happens and that is something the 20 year old doesn’t understand yet.

I would most definitely be pleased with my car in 2015. It kicks ass!

Sounds like there are a few things that need to be modified in my life. The debt being number one. The others are decisions I made, good or bad, that I will not apologize for. They have made me a stronger wiser woman.

40 year old
My wonderful husband and me

Now going forward. I need to ask myself what would the 40 year old me say about the 60 year old me? I am going to work on that right now.

How about you? What would the 20 year old you say? -MM

 

 

 

The Last Four Weeks

We have been so busy the last month or so that by the time we had some quiet time I was either sleeping or just doing absolutely nothing.

Here is what we have been up to.

My husband Scott turned the big 5-0 in November and I threw him a big surprise party. I started planning for it in July and it took lots of planning and telling fibs and lots of behind the scenes chatter with our friends and family to get him to his party without him knowing what was going on. Yes, he was surprised and I was so happy that he was happy!
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The weekend after the big party I jumped into being the chairperson for our Rotary Club’s Pancake Breakfast. We had a great time, served lots of pancakes, and Doug got to play a minion for the morning, which was the theme for the breakfast.
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Doug and I had another date night but this time we cooked at home together. We did shop first, to buy all of the ingredients for our meal. Grilled salmon, Swiss chard, cheesy rice and then we got a sampler box of cookies from the store for dessert that we had fun rating from 1-10. I love date night with my son. He is a great cook too!
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I also spent the last two weeks in October canning and juicing and trying to put the garden to bed for the year. Here are a few pics of my preserving accomplishments this fall.
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Here is quick video link of my favorite sound while I canned my grape jelly. Wait for it…

The Professional Domestic Facebook Video

I also have been working diligently on my project for my sweet Mom-in-Law’s Christmas present.
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Almost done!

Of course between work, soccer games, Church, Rotary meetings, errands, bills, cleaning, preserving, date nights, cooking, etc., life has gotten a little overwhelming.

In the month of October both Scott’s mother and my father were in the hospital. Scott’s mom with a nasty bout of cellulitis and my dad with his second go around with colon cancer. They both are doing well and we appreciate all of the prayers and cards of encouragement we have received.

God has blessed us with so many small moments of joy these last few weeks. We are truly grateful for the good and even the not so good because in those darker times we have learned to persevere and enjoy the moments we have with our loved ones.

I will eventually get caught up on my Pie Challenge with you but until then I leave you with this beautiful night shot from our fall garden. Scott, Doug and I wish all of you a very happy, restful and thankful Thanksgiving this week! -MM
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Week 7 Operation Pie Challenge

I was starting to have a problem coming up with an interesting variety of pies to use in this challenge and then I asked myself why I was limiting myself to just sweet pies? What about savory pies? This opened up a whole new world of recipes for me to try!

Have you seen this photo circulating on Facebook?  taco pie

I thought it looked very yummy so I tried it one night for dinner.

Have you also seen those Facebook posts called “Nailed It” where the picture shows the epic fail of the person attempting to make what they saw in the photo?

Yeah, well here is my attempt to make the above mentioned taco pie.

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Nailed it! Um no.

I was pretty disappointed. I did everything the recipe said to do and it turned out like this.

Just before writing this post I googled “taco pie” instead of going on Facebook to get the credit info for the photo and up popped the WordPress blog of Teresa Warner with the same photo. I thought that was interesting so I started to read some of the comments to see if anyone else had a problem with the recipe like I did. Every single person who commented said theirs looked just like the photo. “I must really suck,” I thought. Everyone else got theirs right.

Then one of the comments said that someone else was distributing this recipe and photo on Facebook with an altered recipe. Now we were getting somewhere!

I looked at Teresa’s recipe and sure enough the crappy dehydrated potato flakes the Facebook recipe called for as the bottom crust is actually supposed to be crescent roll dough. **Mental Head Slap**

I bet if I tried the recipe again using Teresa’s recipe it would look just like the photo and most likely taste a whole lot better my friends! I will be trying it again and I will give you an update soon. Moral of the story, do your research on these Facebook recipes that are circulating. From now on, you bet your sweet bippy I will! – MM

P.S. If you would like to check out Teresa Warner’s blog and the correct Taco Pie recipe click on the Taco Pie link below.

Taco Pie

Weeks #5 and #6 Pie Challenge Update

Week #5 of my pie challenge was a no brainer. We had apples coming out of our ears from our 3 trees so I made an apple crumb pie. I love the crumb topping once in a while when I just don’t feel like rolling out a second crust.

I didn’t take any pictures this time other than the finished product. Looks super yummy doesn’t it? The bottom crust was my standard pie crust that I posted about for the Maple Brown Sugar Apple Pear Pie. The apple filling in this recipe is really to your taste as far as how much sugar and/or cinnamon you prefer. The crumb topping is super easy and I really had never made a crumb topping until I had to make one for a pie one time at the bakery. I don’t know what took me so long to try a crumb topping but I am glad I did!

For the crumb topping I use a stick of butter, not too hard and not too soft, a cup of packed brown sugar and a cup of flour. I work the butter into the brown sugar and the flour until it resembles chunky sand. You don’t want it too finely worked into the dry ingredients but you don’t want big chunks of butter either.

Just spread the crumb topping over the apples in the unbaked pie crust and bake for close to an hour at 375 degrees or until the filling starts to get bubbly. Cool for at least an hour before serving (if you can stand to wait that long).

apple crumb pie

Week # 6 was Doug’s favorite Banana Cream. I was excited to try my old Betty Crocker Vanilla Cream Filling recipe with my newfound confidence of making the filling the way I had done the Mississippi Mocha Mud Pie. I had learned to make that filling by dumping the egg yolks in at the beginning of the process instead of adding them in slowly at the end like the older publications recommended doing. I couldn’t wait to try this new method with the old Betty Crocker recipe. Guess what? It worked out beautifully just like I thought it would! Woo hoo!

Here is the recipe from the old 1950s Betty Crocker Cookbook.

Vanilla Cream Pie for 9″ Pie

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch (I changed it from 3 Tbsps)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups milk (whole milk is best)
  • 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla

Measure out the milk and then pop it in the microwave for a couple of minutes just to bring it a little warmer than room temperature. Doing this helps to jump start the process instead of standing there stirring it for an extra five minutes.

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Using David Dial’s method in his blog Spiced add the dry ingredients in a saucepan and then add the milk and egg yolks to the dry ingredients using a whisk to combine. Heat all of the ingredients over medium heat, whisking constantly until it starts to boil.

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Once it boils, boil for about 30 more seconds taking care not to let it stick and burn. It will get nice and thick and custardy. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.

To prevent a skin from forming, lay a piece of plastic wrap right on top of the filling and chill until firm.

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To assemble the pie, slice firm bananas into the bottom of a pre-baked pie shell. Next spoon over the bananas the vanilla cream filling. Then either pipe on (if you want to get fancy) fresh whipped cream with a pastry bag or spoon the whipped cream on top before serving. Yum! I highly recommend David Dial’s Blog, Spiced. Here is a link to his articles Spiced Blog

Banana Cream Pie

I have been struggling to find good pie recipes. I am not sure why. Most are too sweet or involve too much chocolate which Doug isn’t a big fan of. Then I thought why am I limiting myself to sweet pies? Why not explore savory pies? Ah I got your attention didn’t I? Until next time! -MM

Has Anyone Not Been Touched by Cancer?

Tomorrow my mom and I will be traveling to the VA Hospital to sit and wait while my Dad has his large intestine removed due to another go around with colon cancer.

At the age of 42 my Dad had part of his small intestine removed after his first diagnosis of colon cancer. For almost 30 years he has lived with a colostomy. Now at the age of 70 he once again is fighting cancer and all of his large intestine must be removed due to a cancerous tumor blocking the flow through it.

I am writing this post not only to ask for your prayers of healing for my Dad but also to tell you that this could have been prevented.

It had been five years from his last colonoscopy and for a man with this kind of history with cancer, waiting five years in between exams could have proven deadly. No excuse in my opinion, justifies not getting regular exams and preventative check-ups with your physician.

My Dad has not been the only member of his family diagnosed with colon cancer. His mother was also diagnosed in her fifties with it. That many years ago the treatment was not terribly kind. Although she did not have to have a colostomy she suffered decades of stomach and intestinal irregularities because of the massive amounts of chemo they flooded her small body with.

With this kind family history of colon cancer it was recommended that I start having colonoscopies in my thirties. At 38 I had my first colonoscopy and everything was fine.

Please, PLEASE if you have any family history of cancer or any other kind of preventable disease keep up on your yearly exams. It could be a life saver! -MM

Week #3 and #4 Pie Challenge

I apologize for my late delivery of week #3 ‘s Pie Challenge. We had a week of mind numbing busyness and Internet connection problems which will hopefully be resolved soon.

So here goes! Week #3’s selection was a Brown Sugar, Maple, Apple, Pear Pie. I made the recipe up myself because I had plenty of apples and pears on hand from our trees. I chose brown sugar instead of granulated sugar because Doug loves brown sugar. I thought “let’s try it!”

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Both the apples and the pears were under ripe and very tart in my case so please adjust the sugar to your taste.

The filling:
About 2-1/2 cups sliced pears
About 2-1/2 cups sliced apples
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup pure male syrup (not the fake stuff people)
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp soft butter
6 Tbsp all purpose flour
A little extra butter to use for brushing on the top crust at the end along with cinnamon sugar

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Combine everything into a large bowl and set aside to prepare the crust.

The crust:
2/3 cup shortening
2 cups all purpose flour
About 6 to 8 Tbsp ice cold water

This pie crust my Granny taught me is a very standard crust. In her day lard would have been used instead of the shortening.

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Incorporate the shortening into the flour with either a hand pastry blender or a fork until the shortening is well distributed throughout the flour.

Add the ice cold water a Tablespoon at a time using the fork to blend just until you get the crumbs to start to stick together. Do not stir! If you over mix you will get a tough crust and if this happens throw it out and start over.

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Roll half of the dough (reserving the other half for the top crust) out on to a lightly floured wooden surface. Always flour your rolling pin as you go not your surface after the first initial flouring. If you mess up do not re-roll the crust it will be tough.

Using a metal spatula gently slide underneath the dough after you have rolled it out freeing it from the surface you rolled it out on (Maybe I should do a tutorial on pie crust technique).

I roll the crust up onto the rolling pin and then lift it over the pie pan. That’s one of the easiest ways to get a crust into the pan.

Fill the bottom crust with the pear and apple filling and then roll out the second crust and crimp the edges to seal everything in. Brush the top crust with melted butter and sprinkle on a little cinnamon sugar mixture

Bake at 375 degrees for at least 45 minutes. In my opinion the pie is done when you insert a knife through the filling and it doesn’t hit a hard apple.

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We loved this combo although I didn’t really get a lot of the maple flavoring. I might increase that or outright remove it the next time. This was a sweet pie but the apples were so tart that it worked our perfectly. Again if you like a tarter pie then decrease the sugar to your liking. Also you can always use your own pie crust recipe or even a store bought crust if you like.

Week #4 Pie Challenge -Key Lime Pie

My husband loves Key Lime Pie. Everytime I make it though it’s not what he really pictures. I found this recipe for Key Lime from the Smitten Kitchen. Let’s see what he thinks about this recipe.

http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2015/01/key-lime-pie/

The Smitten Kitchen does such a great job of explaining how to make this pie that I think I will save myself the time and let you check the blog and recipe out for yourself. I added my own pictures below to prove that yes I did actually make the pie haha!

Although this recipe was the best scratch recipe that I have ever tried for a key lime it still did not satisfy the picky husband. I have come to conclude that  the kind of key lime he wants is really the tacky green dyed stuff from a box. Sigh…. I do hope you try this recipe though! -MM

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Week #2 of Operation Pie – Pineapple Cream

In honor of Labor Day and the hot and humid temps here in Western New York, I decided that the second pie of my pie challenge should be my pineapple cream. It is virtually a no bake pie, especially if you use a store bought graham cracker crust.

My Great Aunt Leona used to make this pie and as a child I loved it’s cool, fruity, creamy flavor on a hot day just like we are having now. Hope you like it as much as we do!

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According to the box’s directions the graham cracker crust is 1-1/4 cups of graham cracker crumbs, a 1/4 cup sugar and a 1/3 cup of melted butter.
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Mix the three ingredients in a bowl until incorporated thoroughly. The result will look like moist sand.
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Press into the bottom of an ungreased 9″ pie pan. Bake at 375 degrees for about 6-8 minutes until lightly browned.
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For the filling: in one bowl combine 1- 8oz container of whipped topping unthawed and 1-1/4 cups of sour cream. Stir to combine thoroughly.
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In a second bowl combine and stir together 1 box of vanilla instant pudding (3.5 oz) and 1 can of crushed pineapple in heavy syrup drained.

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Put both bowls of ingredients together into one bowl.
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Stir together
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Spoon into the cooled pie shell. Chill for a couple of hours in the fridge and serve cold. Easy peasy huh?

Doug eats this pie for breakfast. He claims it is fruit and dairy. How can you argue with that?

Here is the complete recipe:

Crust:

1-1/4 cups of graham crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter melted

Filling:

1 box of instant vanilla pudding

1 regular sized can of pineapple in heavy syrup

1- 8 oz. container of whipped topping unthawed

1-1/4 cups sour cream

Directions:

For the crust: Mix the three ingredients in a bowl until incorporated thoroughly. The result will look like moist sand. Press into the bottom of an ungreased 9″ pie pan. Bake at 375 degrees for about 6-8 minutes until lightly browned.

For the filling: in one bowl combine the whipped topping and sour cream. Stir to combine thoroughly. In a second bowl combine and stir together the vanilla pudding and pineapple. Put both bowls of ingredients together into one bowl. Stir together. Spoon into the cooled pie shell. Chill for a couple of hours in the fridge and serve cold.

Happy Labor Day Everyone! -MM

Week #1 of Operation Pie – Mississippi Mocha Mud Pie

If you ask the males in our household which they would rather have for their dessert, cake or pie, they would probably say “pie” about 95% of the time. So when I brought the subject of a pie challenge up to Doug his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree in a Chevy Chase movie.

I plan to feature a different pie every week for the next 52 weeks. Pretty big deal huh? If you have a favorite pie recipe that you would like me to try out in the next 52 weeks please feel free to e-mail me at marymargaretripley@yahoo.com with your recipe and story (I love a good story behind a recipe) and I will try it out and feature it on the blog if all goes well. With that, here is the How-to and recipe for Week #1 Mississippi Mocha Mud Pie. Enjoy!

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Start with 18 Oreo cookies, fillings removed. Grind along with a 1/4 cup of chopped pecans and 1 Tbsp of sugar in a food processor or mini-chopper.

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In a bowl add a 1/4 cup of melted butter to the cookie, sugar and pecan, mixture
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Remove 3 Tbsp of mixture and set aside to use as a garnish later. Press remaining mixture into the bottom of a 9″ pie pan and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. No wonder they call it a mud pie it looks like potting soil!
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For the filling, using a medium saucepan, whisk together 3-1/2 Tbsp of cornstarch, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1/4 tsp salt until combined well.
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To the above dry ingredients add 3 large egg yolks, 1-1/3 cups of milk (I only had 2% on hand but the original recipe calls for whole) and 1/3 cup of brewed coffee.
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Whisking all of the wet and dry ingredients together in the saucepan, place over medium heat whisking constantly until it begins to boil. As it starts to boil it will get thicker and harder to whisk but keep whisking for another 30 seconds after it starts. Remove from heat.
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After removing from heat immediately add 2 Tbsp butter, 1/3 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips, and 1-1/2 tsp of vanilla.
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Whisk together until the butter and chocolate have melted and the whole mixture is smooth and silky.
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Pour the filling into the cooled pie crust and cover with plastic wrap. Chill it in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. Looks great already doesn’t it?
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Before serving the chilled pie, top with whipped cream. Combine in a stand mixture or use your handy dandy hand mixture, 1-1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream, 1-1/2 Tbsp powdered sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla. Whip until soft peaks form.
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Spread the whipped cream over the top of the pie and if you like you can pipe it on with a pastry bag like I did. Sprinkle the toasted pecans and reserved cookie mixture over the top of the whipped cream and drizzle chocolate sauce over all of it. Yum!

Over all this recipe trying it for the first time was fantastic! There are a couple of things I think I would tweak though. One being, add more filling. I would have liked it a little fuller. Either that or use an 8″ pie pan instead of a 9″ pie pan. Two, I used walnuts instead of pecans and I wished I had used the pecans. Three, I really didn’t taste a lot of the coffee so next time I will use a stronger brew. Four, I will chill it overnight. It was even better the next day .

This was one of the easiest cream pies I have ever made and I hope to use these same methods with other cream pies. I have never put the egg yolks directly into the mixture while it was cold. Most recipes and methods call for putting half of the hot mixture into the egg yolks separately then dumping the whole egg mixture back into the original mixture. This recipe eliminated that extra step and it worked beautifully!

As far as the taste and how it went over with the guys? Scott gave it two thumbs up and Doug…well he likes banana cream pies better. Ha! Next time Doug!

I will definitely make this pie again. Here is the link to the original recipe for easy printing. Posted by David on his blog, Spiced-One Dash at a Time. Thanks for a great recipe David! http://spicedblog.com/mocha-mississippi-mud-pie.html

Until next week! -MM

A Pallet Garden Fence and My Latest Reads

A PALLET GARDEN FENCE

My husband Scott has been saving wood pallets for quite some time now and a few weeks ago while I was at work one Saturday he and Doug made me a fabulous fence made of the pallets.

I was stunned when I got home though he had texted me a few progress pics during the day. It was beautiful! Also, everything he used we already had in the garage so it didn’t cost a thing.

What a wonderful husband and son I am blessed with.

What do you think?

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He will finish the front when he finds more pallets and he plans to add a gate.

I think a bird bath, or water fountain and some white lights will make it a hangout as well as a peaceful place to garden. Thanks boys!

MY LATEST READS

Scott and I signed up for the Summer Reading Program at our local library and have been reading some really great books.

The reading program always gets me to read books I wouldn’t normally try if not for the categories it specifies.

So far I have read GI Brides, by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi, The Reluctant Widwife, by Patricia Harman, Top Secret 21, by Janet Evanovich, and currently I am reading My Mother was Nuts a Memoir, by Penny Marshall. All great reads!

Our library is the best. They always have what we need and if they don’t they can transfer it in from another library in the system. They have great adult, teen and children’s programs, wonderful book sales and a friendly staff. You can’t beat it!

If you would like to check out any of these titles I just mentioned you can go to my new Amazon.com store. I also have a few canning and baking items I can’t live without also available.

Here is a link

http://astore.amazon.com/marymargare07-20

-MM

One Hundred Dollars a Month

I am your typical housewife living in high maintenance suburbia. I have a handsome husband, 2 kids and a flock of pet chickens. I try and feed my family with $100 a month. With the help of coupons, gardening and bartering I am able to squeeze the most out of our grocery budget and still manage to have a little fun along the way.

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Sharing my journey in and out of the garden

The Snail of Happiness

small steps to a kinder world

Cocktails In The Library

Talking about great books while enjoying tasty libations!

Autumn Leaves & A Spring Breeze

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just living my best life in the midwest.

Sewing Beside the Sea

All things made with my needle and thread

thecraftycreek

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Sewing Etc.

Sharing my adventures in sewing and needlearts

Debt Free Hopeful

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” — Maya Angelou

theuntoldblogofeli

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The Journey to a Debt-Free Life

Reshaping your Financial Future

Cottage Garden Trio

The daily life and times of a thirty something couple and their toddler

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Claire93's Blog

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Ever The Crafter

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A simple, easy & cost effective approach to cooking!

life on less

living life with less debt

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