Super Mom – No Cape!

One mother sharing her knowledge with others

Archive for January, 2009

The Bloggies – One of My Favourites is a Finalist

Posted by supermom on January 29, 2009

One of my favourite bloggers is a finalist in the Bloggies in the category of Best Kept Secret.

I discovered Chickens in the Road by romance writer Suzanne McMinn last spring and soon became a daily visitor.   Hers isn’t the usual writer’s site.  In fact, she very rarely talks about her writing.  Instead she posts about her life after moving to a small farm in rural West Virginia.   I started following her site about the time she was describing her adventures in hatching her first chickens.  Since then, she’s acquired three goats, a giant puppy and a pair of ducks, soon to be joined by at least one lamb.  She writes about it all with a quirky sense of humour that keeps her readers coming back to discover her lastest adventure; not to mention the delicious recipes she posts complete with pictures and easy to follow instructions.

I encourage you to go check out her site.  Have a good explore through her archives and once you’re done there, head over to the Chickens in the Road forum which in just the past six months had grown to over 300 members.  And then once you’ve done all that, if you like what you see (and I’m sure you will) take a moment to go here and vote for Suzanne’s site in the Best Kept Secret category.

Note:  You’ll need to scroll sideways to find the Best Kept Secret category.  Along the way, maybe you’ll discover other blogs you know that have made the finals.  Be sure to vote for them too.

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SuperMom Tip of the Day – Cook Extra to Freeze

Posted by supermom on January 27, 2009

Out there in blogland, you wouldn’t have to search far to find posts about cooking meals ahead and freezing them.  In fact, many posts you find talk about setting aside one day a week or every few weeks to cook and freeze meals.  There are even sites that will show you how to make enough meals for a whole month.

I do occasionally have all day meal prep sessions.   Perogy making days are actually two day events.  The evening before to cook and prep the filling and extra potatoes for the dough and the second day for actually making the perogies.   Our last perogy day yielded almost 400 perogies.    As well, Kalua Pork needs to have a day set aside for it in order to prep the four to five roasts and then after the cooking  to shred the roasts and bag them for freezing.

But those kind of marathon cooking sessions aren’t something that I have any desire to do very often.  Many years ago I discovered a cook and freeze ahead meal solution that works best for our family that I can and do practice on a regular basis.

If you don’t have the time or desire to set aside an entire day to prepare, cook and then freeze meals, you can achieve the same result simply by cooking extra a few nights per week.  Sometimes will I freeze an entire meal that then just needs to be popped into the microwave or oven to be reheated.   But because I really do like to cook supper every night, most often I freeze items separately so that I have the option of using them to make meal prep faster.

For example, on Sunday I cooked a whole chicken in the slow cooker which I then served for supper with rice and veggies.   Now there’s no way the three of us could eat a whole 5 ½  lb chicken at one meal, but I cooked a whole chicken with the intention that I would have lots leftover to shred and freeze for use in future meals such as enchilladas, chicken stir fries or fried rice.

And rather than cook only the amount of rice we’d eat that meal, I made an extra large batch of rice so that I’d have enough to freeze.  It doesn’t take that much longer to cook 12 cups of rice than it does to cook 3 cups.   When I cook ahead like this, not only am I saving in future prep time, I’m saving the extra energy it would take to cook 4 separate batches of rice because from 12 cups, I had enough for Sunday supper and for three packages of rice with approximately 3 c per bag.bags-of-rice1

Those bags of rice are now ready and waiting in the freezer to be used in soup, chili, fried rice or simply as a stand alone side dish, perhaps dressed up with a few spices or some veggies.

This can be done with all sorts of meals.   Stews, soups and chili are easy meals to double or triple for freezing.   Or even something as simple as when you’re making tacos.  Instead of browning 1 lb of meat, brown 2 or 3 and then freeze the extra to use next time you make tacos or burritos or when making a quick lunch of taco salad.

In addition to saving time and energy, an added bonus of cooking and freezing ahead is that when you know you have entire meals or the individual components needed to throw together a quick and nutritious meal, you’ll be less tempted to order take out or go the fast food route, which depending how often you resist that urge, could be a huge money saver.

Want more money saving ideas?   Be sure to check out:tightwadtuesday-thumb

And for more kitchen tips, be sure to check out Kitchen Tip Tuesdays.

This post has also been added to all the other great ideas that you’ll find over at Frual Friday as it fits right in with Crystal’s post on menu planning.  I don’t use a formal plan.  I’m the type of person who needs lots of flexibility and my informal plan involves having a stock-pile of ingredients on hand in the cupboard and the freezer so that I can make whatever meal I feel like making that particular day.

Posted in Budget Savers, Household Tip of the Day, Recipes | Tagged: , , , , | 9 Comments »

Crock Pot – Whole Chicken Cranberry Bake

Posted by supermom on January 25, 2009

After baking my Cranberry Coffee Cake with whole cranberry sauce leftover from Christmas, I remembered that I had the jelly type of cranberry sauce leftover from Thanksgiving that I’d popped into the freezer.   So today we’re having Whole Chicken Cranberry Bake cooked in the crock pot.

Wash and drain one whole chicken.  (For this recipe I used a 5 lb fryer.)  Place chicken breast side up in crock pot.

In a bowl, combine 1 can cranberry sauce, ½ c orange juice and 1 envelope onion soup mix.cranberry-onion-mixture

Spread over chicken.  I also spooned a generous amount into the chicken cavity and spread it around.pour-cranberry-mixture-over-chicken

Cook on high for 2 hours and then low for 4 to 5 hours, until done.

If you need to start this first thing in the morning before leaving for work or other activiites, cook on low for 8 to 10 hrs.

cooked-chicken

This came out fall-off-the-bone tender.  I served it with rice and a veggie.  Then I shredded the leftover chicken, put it in a quart freezer bag and froze it for future use in enchilladas or soup.

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Christmas 09 is 11 Months Away

Posted by supermom on January 25, 2009

That’s right… as of today there are 11 months until Christmas 2009.

This year, as last year, we’re going to be having a mostly homemade Christmas.  But this year, we’re going one step further and in order to get everything done so that I’m not rushing those last weeks, I’m starting now.

So what am I adding to this year’s homemade list that wasn’t on last year’s?    Gift bags!

This past Christmas, we used up almost all of the Christmas wrap that I bought on sale in January, 08.   When I went to buy paper on sale this year, I found that the after Christmas sales on wrapping paper weren’t any better than the before Christmas sales and to be honest, I wasn’t able to find any that I thought were all that pretty.

However, our local fabric store had some gorgeous Christmas fabrics that they put on sale for 75% off in the week after Christmas.   And while it’s true that the upfront cost of buying fabric on sale versus buying paper is more, buying fabric is a one time cost as the gift bags will be used over and over for many years to come.

Christmas fabrics

Christmas fabrics

Of each of the fabrics pictured above, I purchased between 1 to 1 ½ yards depending on the fabric and how much was left on the bolt.   I’m still hoping that the fabric will be further discounted to 90%, but I knew if that did happen, unless I was there when they posted the sale signs, I wouldn’t have much of a selection left from which to choose.  So for fabrics that I really liked, I decided to go ahead and buy them at the 75% discount rather than wait for a possible 90% that may never happen.

Over the next couple of months, I’ll be sewing up various sizes and styles of gift bags.   I’ll be posting pictures and tutorials, so if you’re wanting some easy sewing projects to get a head start on Christmas, while at the same time eliminating the need to ever purchase wrapping paper again, bookmark this post because I’ll be updating it with links to those projects as I complete them.

Posted in Budget Savers, Sew easy projects | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Creamy Shrimp Pasta

Posted by supermom on January 25, 2009

1 – 2 lb package frozen shell on shrimp

1 package of No-Yolks Pasta

1 – 12 oz package of frozen peas

½ large onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 tbsp minced garlic

1 c heavy cream

½ c parmesan cheese

Thaw and peel shells off shrimp.

Cook pasta and peas in pot of boiling water.  Drain.

In a large fry pan, sauté onion, celery and garlic for 2 minutes.  Add shrimp.  Add a ½ tsp sea salt and a ¼ freshly ground pepper.

Sauté until shrimp turns pink.  Remove shrimp.

Add cream to pan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.   Add parmesan cheese.  When sauce is thickened, add shrimp, pasta and peas.  Toss until well mixed.  Serve and enjoy!

Creamy Shrimp Pasta

Creamy Shrimp Pasta

Posted in Recipes | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Baking Day – Company is Coming

Posted by supermom on January 21, 2009

We have out of town guests coming on Friday.  I’m not sure if they are just stopping for the day or if they’ll be here for Saturday as well.  They are good friends so either way, they’re welcome.

Our family only likes cakes and cookies, etc as occasional treats.  But our guests like to have dessert after every meal.  And since tomorrow is my regular sheet and house cleaning day, today was baking day.

I started with these Ginger Cookies.

Here’s how mine turned out.ginger-cookies

Slightly flatter than hers, but I think that’s because I started out with really soft butter.  Next time I make these, I think I’ll pop the batter in the fridge for a bit to firm it up.

I did make two changes to the recipe.  I omitted the raisins because you couldn’t pay my family to eat anything with raisins in it. And I used Demerara sugar rather than the Turbinado that’s called for because that’s what I had on hand.

While the cookies were cooling I made up a batch of Blueberry Oat Bran Muffins.blueberry-oat-bran-muffins

1 c. flour (I used all purpose, but I don’t see why this wouldn’t work with other flours)
1 c. oat bran
1/2 c. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1 egg
1 c. milk
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

1 c blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Combine dry ingredients. In measuring cup, beat together egg, milk and oil.  Stir liquid into dry ingredients.   Add berries, stir until just blended.

Spoon into muffin pans lined with paper cups.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and skewer comes out clean.  Makes 15 to 18 muffins.

Note:  Before baking I sprinkled each of the muffins with the Demerara sugar I had leftover in the bowl from coating the Ginger Cookies above.

And finally… Cranberry Coffeecake.  This recipe I make once a year to use up those leftover cranberries from Christmas.  Yes, I had whole berry cranberries sauce leftover from Christmas still in the fridge.  It’ll last about a month in a sealed container, but that month is almost up so it was time to get this recipe made.

½ c shortening

¾ c sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 c flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

1 c yogurt  (I didn’t have any yogurt, so I soured 1 c milk with 1 tbsp lemon juice and let it sit until thickened )

1 c whole berry cranberry sauce (or whatever is leftover from Christmas as long as it’s at least 1 cup)

Cream shortening with sugar.  Add eggs and beat until light and fluffy.  Stir in vanilla.

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add half of flour mixture to creamed mixture.  Add half of the yogurt.    Mix.   Repeat with rest of flour and yogurt.  Beat until smooth.

Spread half of the batter into a very well greased spring form pan.  Top with half of the cranberries.  Spread remaining batter over cranberries and then top with remaining cranberries.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until skewer inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool for half hour.  Run knife around edge of pan.  Remove ring of spring form pan.  Cool completely.  Run knife between bottom of cake and bottom of pan.  Transfer to plate or cake stand.cranberry-coffeecake

And you know, I just had to make sure that the cake turned out okay with my substitution.  The rest is wrapped with plastic wrap and in the fridge.   But I’m not sure it will make it until Friday!cranberry-coffeecake-2

Posted in Recipes | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Every Household Should Have a Button Box

Posted by supermom on January 13, 2009

One of the best ways to save money is to make minor clothing repairs yourself rather than paying someone else to do them for you.   And one of the easiest repairs of all is to replace missing buttons on shirts, coats or pants.   You can buy cards of buttons at any fabric store.   My local fabric store has an entire wall of buttons in various sizes, shapes and colours.

But what if you only need one or maybe two buttons?

That’s where having a button box comes in handy.   I’ve been collecting buttons since I first started sewing.   But if you don’t already have a button box, it’s super easy to start one.

In fact, just this past Christmas, I made each of our daughters their own button box as one of their gifts.

I started out with a big pile of buttons.

A pile of assorted buttons

A pile of assorted buttons

Some came from my own button box.  Some I got after placing an ad on Freecycle.  And then, since I wanted our girls to have a really nice selection of buttons, I bought two bags of buttons at Michaels.

I filled these Christmas tins with the buttons I had gathered.

Tin boxes filled with buttons

Tin boxes filled with buttons

But you can use whatever container you may have around the house that has a lid that fits securely.

Then the next time you discover one of your or your spouse’s or your children’s clothing is missing a button, you can search through your button box for a match and make the repair.

And while you’re making one for yourself, make some to give away as small gifts to friends or family who are just starting their own households.    Or if you’re needing a bigger gift, you could add one to a basket filled with thread, scissors and other sewing accessories to give as a wedding or house warming gift.

For more frugal ideas, head on over to BeingFrugal.net and check out:tightwadtuesday-thumb

Posted in Budget Savers, Gift Ideas | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

How to Darn a Sock

Posted by supermom on January 9, 2009

My blog Super Mom – No Cape and all its content has moved to

www.supermomnocape.com

For the contents of this particular post click on the link below:

How to Darn a Sock

 

 

 

Posted in Budget Savers, Conserving Resources, Sew easy projects | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Save Time and Money by Flash Freezing

Posted by supermom on January 5, 2009

One of the ways that I save both time and money is to flash freeze certain foods in order to be able to pull them out of the freezer in the quantities that I want, when I want without having to pry things apart.

To flash freeze anything, simply lay out individually whichever food you are freezing on a cookie sheet and then pop into the freezer until the food is frozen through.  Then remove and store in freezer bags or containers.  When you’re ready to use it,  take out the number of portions that you need for the particular meal you are making.

For instance, yesterday we found green peppers on sale.   We bought what we thought we’d be able to use over the next few months.  When we got home we flash froze them.

First we chopped them to the right size for using in chilies and soups.   The chopped peppers were spread out in a single layer on a cookie sheet.

Peppers chopped and spread on cookie sheet

Peppers chopped and spread on cookie sheet

Once they’d frozen overnight, I packaged them ¾ c per snack size bag.

Packaging frozen peppers

Packaging frozen peppers

Hubby sucked out as much air as possible before sealing them.  And then I placed them inside another plastic container in order to keep the pepper smell from permeating into other foods.  This step is only necessary with pungent smelling veggies.freeze-inside-another-container

Many foods can be flash frozen; peppers, onions, all varieties of berries, as well as,  individual cuts of meat, hamburger patties and poultry.

For other frugal, money saving ideas be sure to check out Tightwad Tuesday over at BeingFrugal.net.tightwadtuesday-thumb

Posted in Budget Savers | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »