Monday, January 28, 2013

Ingles 4 Under $40

I'm skirting with my totals again this week, but we're looking at less than $2 over, and you may have a bit of this in your cabinets that you won't have to buy, so that way you can keep it under $40! There are also a few ingredients for the salmon recipe that you might not have, but I recommend using the "real" ingredients to get as authentic a flavor as you can. Sure you can substitute olive oil for the coconut and sesame oils, but you might find some really fun uses for the other two in recipes you can make even better. And, since I don't usually include pantry "staples" in my totals anyway, all the other "stuff" you need will come out at $40. I figured since this week many of Ingles' "spices" were on sale it was a good week to splurge in that department.

Monday - Thai Salmon 
I chose this for Monday so you won't have to let the salmon ruin in your fridge all week. If you wait to do this one then wait to buy your salmon later in the week.

Preheat broiler and oil the bottom of an oven safe dish. Cook noodles according to package directions, drain and drizzle with sesame oil (or olive oil) so they won't stick.
Wisk honey, soy sauce together. Place salmon into - mixture turning to coat both sides. Let sit 5 min.
Place salmon in the oiled baking pan, reserving honey/soy mixture. Broil for 6-7min, until cooked. Heat large skillet over med-high heat and toast sesame seeds for about 1 min until golden brown. Remove seeds from the pan and set aside. Add green onions, bell peppers and spinach. Saute 3-4min then add noodles and honey-soy mixture. Toss until heated through. Add 1t or so of soy sauce if needed. Serve noodles and vegetables with salmon and sprinkle with sesame seeds. 

Tuesday - Taco Soup
Brown ground beef, turkey, and chopped onion. Drain. Add to pot with all other ingredients. Bring to boil and simmer for 1h.

Thursday - Baby Back Ribs
If you follow this link you'll find the original recipe for these ribs that will allow you to make your own rub. For today I did add the cost of one McCormick rub because if you don't already have these spices in your rack you'll spend a bit of money adding them, even if they are on sale. Choose whichever rub you prefer to go with your BBQ sauce and you'll get out a bit easier.

Lay ribs on a double layer of aluminum foil big enough to wrap ribs. Rub spice rub into ribs on all sides. Seal ribs tightly inside foil. Refrigerate overnight. 
BBQ Sauce: Mix bottled sauce with brown sugar, Worcestershire & hot sauces. 
After ribs have rested with the rub, open packets and pour BBQ sauce mix over them and reseal packets. Place onto baking sheets and bake on low at 225 for 8 hours or 250 for 6 hours. Extra BBQ sauce can be warmed and served with ribs. You can also throw them in the CrockPot on LOW for 8 hours without wrapping in foil. 

Prep your potatoes as you like. I enjoy them cubed, drizzled with Olive Oil and salt and roasted at 425 for about 45min to an hour.

*For a bouns cheap meal with left over rib meat - Take one can of Grands Biscuits ($1 this week) and flatten. Preheat oven per biscuit directions. Place flattened biscuits into well greased 6-well muffin pan.  Place remaining rib meat into biscuits. Bake per package direction adding shredded cheese the last 3 or 4 minutes of baking time. Voila.

Friday - Pintos and Cornbread
Y'all know we LOVE this at our house and after a week of rather more expensive meal this one fits the bill for cheap and filling! I don't season my beans with meat, but rather Goya seasoning. But, do it as you prefer. The canned beans are actually 10 cents cheaper this week than dry, but I like the dry ones.(Prep per package directions.) And the LL corn muffin mix would likely be just as good as any of the others (just add 1/2 c of milk) so I went that route. A great deal if you don't already have cornbread fixings in your own pantry. (Don't really know why you wouldn't, but that's a discussion for another day.

Here's this week's list Excel style. Let me know which way you prefer and if this makes any sense. If not, I'll get it redone. Still toying with the best way to do this!

Ground Turkey
Ground Beef
Baby Back Ribs
Red Bell Peppers
Med Onion
Green Onions
1 bunch
Baby Spincah
1 bag
Idaho Potatoes
Thai Kitchen Thin Noodles
1 box
Soy Sauce
Sesame Oil
Coconut Oil
Sesame Seeds
Ranch Dressing Packet
Taco Seasoning Packet
LL Tomato Sauce 15 oz
LL Diced Tomatoes 28 oz
Hanover Kidney Beans 15oz
LL Yellow Corn 15oz
Garlic Powder
Chili Powder
McCormick Seasoning Rub
LL BBQ Sauce
Brown Sugar
Worcestershire Sauce
Hot Sauce
Grand Biscuits
LL Dry Pinto Beans
Hanover Pinto Beans
LL Corn Muffin Mix
Grand Total


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Excitement that is Tomorrow

Six am will see me on the highway headed to a hospital to work with a staff I don't know and to teach students I've never met. I'll take a giant leap and return to the world I know and love dearly; the world of women's health. 

I'm thinking we'll all need some Chick-fil-A coffee and biscuits. 

This is the part-time job I've been looking for and praying about; God provided  in a mighty way. (Don't you just love jobs that "fall into your lap?") And though I know He provided this job at this time, can I tell you a secret? 

I am petrified. 

Yep, this gal that had Mother/Baby nursing whipped several years ago is scared to death to take 5 students into the clinical setting. On one hand I'm thankful it's only 5. On the other, when I screw up (and I know I will) they'll all know about it. And, horror of horrors, they'll probably talk about it in class!

But . . .

I will go. Clinicals will be figured out. Students will be taught. And I will take one more step into this life's unexpected. 

In this adventure I choose life of the abundant sort. Yes, I'll still quake on the inside, but I'll be ready to teach and to learn. Most importantly I'll continue to be humbled by a magnificent God who's given me this life and the fact He's transforming me into something Remarkably Whole. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ingles 4 Under $40

I think I've hit on another good 4 Under $40 this week. I’ve tried out (most of) these recipes and they are yummy and kid friendly. Tuesday's meal is for the slow-cooker and Friday's meatballs you can make ahead and cook when you're ready. Give yourself time to thaw your pizza dough (Monday) and remember that brown rice takes about an hour to cook (Thursday).

Monday: Homemade Pizza ($14.04)

Adapted from The Fresh 20

NOTE: Instead of using pizza crust, you can use Portobello mushroom caps (4), brushed and bottom gills removed. Arrange top down on a foil lined baking sheet and follow direction from there. I didn't see any that looked very good today, so I opted for frozen pizza dough and Baby Bellos as a topping.

Frozen (Brooklyn Pizza Dough $4.28) or premade (Mama Mary’s $3.88) pizza dough/crust 
2 come in each of these packages
15 oz can Cannillini beans (Bush's $1.12)
4 c baby spinach ($3.38/bag or $2.84 organic box - yes, that's right. Check for it!)
1 T dried oregano
1 c part-skim Ricotta cheese (LL $2.48/8oz or Sorrento 2/$5)
2 Roma Tomatoes (grape tomatoes 2/$3)
Baby Bellos ($2.28/qt or $2.98/qt organic Leaving out 2 or 3 for Friday)

NOTE: If you use frozen you will need 6 hours to thaw at room temp or thaw in fridge overnight. So for you this is a later in the week meal!

Prepare crust per package directions. Puree beans and spinach in a blender/food processor until smooth. Stir in s&p (salt & pepper). Spread puree onto pizza crust. Combine oregano and ricotta. Spread layer over spinach blend. Top with tomato slices. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper. Bake according to crust package directions and until tops start to brown.

If you’re more of a traditional pizza type of person then mozzarella (LL chunk $2.76) and pizza sauce (LL$1) will set you back about another $4, but it will be a trade-off for some of the others.

After trying this tonight I have two suggestions: 1 - Unless you're using both pizzas from the dough or premade, don't use all the Ricotta mix nor all of the spinach/bean mix. It's wonderful, just too much of a good thing. 2 - when they say "lightly" coat the frozen dough with oil while thawing give it a "good coating" so your dough won't become crusty. Otherwise I LOVED this. The kiddos, not so much, but there was a LOT of green to get through. We ate ours with Ranch dressing!

Tuesday: Mango-Chicken Tinga ($14.33)

Adapted from BHG slow cooker meals

1 onion in wedges ($0.75 +/-)
1 mango – halved, seeded and cubed ($1.50 organic or $1.98 regular)
2# chicken thighs – skin removed (2.7#/$4.54)
3 cloves garlic (bulb $0.42)
14 oz can diced tomatoes (LL $0.81)
14 oz chicken broth (LL $1.98/32oz and store remaining broth in fridge)
1 c mango nectar (Jumex $0.58/can)
Hot cooked rice (LL Brown Rice $0.93/lb) cooked per package directions
Pineapple wedges (slices $1.18)
Lime slices (Limes $0.33))
Tortillas (La Banderita Corn Tortillas $1.78)
1 ½ t chipotle chili pepper
1 t salt
½ t cumin
½ t ground ginger
¼ t cinnamon

Place onion and mango in the bottom of your CrockPot. Top with chicken, chipotle pepper, garlic, salt, cumin, ginger, and cinnamon. Pour undrained tomatoes, chicken broth, and mango nectar over all. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or high for 2 – 2 ½ hours. Remove chicken from cooker, debone, and return shredded chicken back to cooker. Place chicken mixture into serving bowls including some broth. Add cooked brown rice. Serve with pineapple, lime and tortillas.

It sounds exotic, but it’s very flavorful and even my pickiest liked it.

Wednesday – off night

Thursday – Pasta ($8.67)

Celentano has all their frozen pastas (manicotti, stuffed shells, ravioli, and tortellini) 2/$6 this week at Ingles. I was just going to do the large Stouffer’s, but my other meals are a bit steep and at nearly $14 for a large and $11 for a family size, the Celentano looks like a much better deal. And besides that, they’re super yummy too!

Celentano Pasta ($3)
LL Pasta Sauce ($1.50/24oz)
Whole wheat dinner rolls ($2.68)
Artisan lettuce ($1.49 Manager’s Special)

Cook pasta per package directions. Top with heated pasta sauce. Leaving out 3 dinner rolls for tomorrow night’s meal, heat rolls. Tear Artisan lettuce and top with favorite dressing for salad. Voila!

Friday – Turkey Meatballs ($4.50)

Adapted from The Fresh 20

1 whole wheat roll (use 3 dinner rolls from last night)
1 c broth (use remaining from Tuesday)
½ onion finely chopped ($0.75 +/-)
1.5# ground turkey ($2.50/lb = $3.75)
1 egg yolk
1 Portabella cap (use remaining Baby Bellos from Monday)
Fresh parsley (used dried from your spice rack)
1 T (whole wheat) flour
1 T unsalted butter
1 c chicken broth (use remaining)
1c milk

In small bowl place bread and ½ c broth to soak. Set aside. In large bowl combine onion, turkey, egg yolk, mushrooms, s&p, and parsley. Add soggy bread to turkey mix and form into 1-inch round meatballs. Makes 20-40. (If you make these ahead you can store them flat in a ziplock, otherwise proceed with directions.) Head ½ c broth in large sauté pan on medium heat. Add meatballs and cook for 10 minutes rotating frequently. Transfer meatballs to paper towel lined plate. On high heat add butter to the bits of browned meatballs remaining in pan. Wisk in flour and cook until mix becomes slightly brown (2 minutes). Wisk in broth. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in milk. Allow to thicken. Add cooked meatballs to gravy and simmer 5 minutes stirring frequently.

Use last night’s lettuce and make a side salad or grab another on sale veggie this week (the multi-colored peppers look amazing or a can of green beans will cost you another dollar.

So my grand total is $41.54. I’m nearly $2 over, but the Mango-Chicken Tinga will be SO worth it – I promise! And actually, if you count you only use one of the frozen dough balls ($2.14) for pizza then we're UNDER!! Yay!


Friday, January 18, 2013

Day 28 - Goodbye

It's taken me all week to write this post. I've just been "blah." We all have. This journey has been wonderful and we've all loved every minute. If my family and The Preacher would let me, I would do this again in a heartbeat . . . especially with a kiddo from the same place Denys lives. And we are completely at peace with God's sovereignty and sending him home to the amazing Larysa. But, the fact remains, we miss him. He added something to our home and without him here we're just sad.

Three a.m. came very early Tuesday morning. We had clothes laid out and Denys was packed. A quick shower, everyone dressed and off to the ATL we rode. Surprisingly most everyone remained awake on our trip over. Check-in was a breeze and the NHFC staffer on-site was incredibly helpful. I took a couple of pictures of the crew and it wasn't until I was home that I saw the face.

(Oh, and do you see this? I made sure to get a picture just for all of you who prayed so diligently those last few hours. The bag came in at FIFTY POUNDS - even. Thank you, Jesus!)

I knew he wasn't thrilled about going home, but I was surprised at the pouty face he gave in those last moments. What he couldn't say in words I think he was trying to tell us by his looks. When asked via Google Translate was he ready to return to Ukraine, he always said, "No." But was unable to elaborate on what he was really feeling. But, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. (Can you see the humor here, too? He's such a funny kid!)

 Then we waited.

At first we were a solemn bunch, but then Denys pulled out the juggle balls (Koosh balls are WONDERFUL for juggling) and he and J quickly began playing. In a short while he caught a glimpse of some of his buddies and was absolutely THRILLED to see those boys. They began talking non-stop and introducing us all to one another. Interestingly, their families had the same things to say about them we had to say about Denys. I believe their director, Larysa, does a fabulous job with her her children. She has taught them to be polite and loving. They are respectful and joyful and love to have fun.

From the time the friends arrived, he was involved with them and then it was time for them to leave. My children were broken hearted. J wept. We thought Jason was going to have to carry him to the vehicle. MG began sobbing also and AR chased Denys down and kept saying, "Bye, Denys." They were certainly a sad crew and it broke this mama's heart to see her babies hurt.

We watched them descend the escalator and turn the corner into security. And that was that.

We headed home and have all be mopey ever since. We know that God is BIG and will have his will accomplished in the life of Denys.

We would love to see Denys find a forever family here, in the USA. And if you're interested in learning more about Ukrainian orphans we would love to help you get into contact with the right people. Also, we have found out that Denys will be available for summer hosting. We have decided to opt out (for now) since we don't want to deprive a family who may be very interesting in having him in their home on a long-term basis. (hint hint) There again, please let us know if you're interested in more information.

Denys is a precious 14-year-old Ukrainian boy with a high-wattage ready smile. He is conservative in dress, but very ready to play and have a good time. He is energetic and is a bit of an acrobat and hip/hop dancer. He rides bikes, swims and likes fancy cars. Drawing is a passion for him and he can freehand nearly any illustration he sees. Denys plays well with children of any age and does an amazing job keeping a close watch on the youngest ones; making sure they stay safe and out of harm. He is empathetic and kind to others and animals. He was delighted to spend time with our extended family and loved on them as much as they loved on him. Video games are perhaps his favorite quiet time activity and he is quick to figure out any type of electronic device - even the ones in English. 

Please help us pass the word to anyone you think might be interesting in learning more about Denys or any other older Ukrainian orphan! He is a wonderful kiddo and certainly our favorite Ukrainian!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Day 27 - The Final Hours

Solemn. Somber. Rather uneventful. These are the adjectives I would use to describe today. Monday's are always busy here and today was no exception: piano lessons, errands, gymnastics, and any number of other small necessaries that pop up.

Denys opted to stay with Mimi and the girls while I took Jonah to piano lessons early this morning. He has enjoyed playing with this piano during this trip. Were he here any longer we would be talking with Mrs. Sue about piano lessons times two!

Home to begin packing was next on the agenda. I finished all the ironing. We stuffed what we could into Space Bags. Those suckers are great for fitting just a few more things into a very cramped space, but too bad they can't do a thing in the world about weight!

Pouty faces packing 'cases.
And speaking of suitcase weight - Prayer Request - please pray now that his suitcase is not over weight. We got word this morning that the cases were supposed to weigh 44 lbs. That SIX pounds under 50. Six whole pounds. We are mighty close to being right in between those numbers. Please pray Delta's scales are kind in the morning.

He also packed his backpack and it is tight as a tick! A few more people have asked these last few days could they give him something for the return trip. We have been begging them not to give anything. We knew we were close and he doesn't even have an excessive amount of things to take back to Ukraine. I did find a cell phone in his backpack. Those are one of the "contraband" items, but this is one I am pretty sure came over with him. (I don't know where he's had it hidden all this time. I searched diligently for one when he arrived!) I've not seen one of these mp3/slim/flip phone styles in several years so no one I know gave it to him. In that case, it gets to return home!

Before gymnastics this evening we stopped by an auto parts store because Jason needed something for the truck. The kids and I knocked around just to see what was there. Denys found a display of key chains. He asked me to show him a "T" and then he asked for one. Please note that this is the first and ONLY thing he has asked for on this trip. When offered he would accept or decline something and might choose one style over another, but, other than water, he has not, outright, asked for a single solitary thing since arriving. And this "T" key chain was not for himself, but for a friend, Toni. Wow. (And of course it was purchased immediately!)

At the end of gymnastics the boys were given the opportunity to jump on the trampolines and into the "Pit" for a few minutes. They enjoyed it, but wanted more time to play. We headed back to Mimi and Pops for dinner. I finally had a chance to fix a Ukrainian-style meal. Well, it wasn't the cabbage rolls I was hoping to fix (btw - if you need some cabbage, I have plenty!), but a nice Kielbasa and veggie "roast" was easy and very good. He ate a plateful and promptly put his dirty plate into the sink. (I'm gonna miss this kid for more reasons than one! lol)

He did not want to leave when it was time to head home, but got into the vehicle anyway. We talked for bit, went through all his photograph and I marked them with people and places as best I could. (I had to explain that The Varsity was not McDonald's!) And he asked again were we leaving at four. I told him, "Yes," and he held up ten fingers and said, "No. Six!"

If my Ukrainian is incorrect just don't even tell me.
I finished up a little goodbye card and sneaked a couple of very small goodies into his backpack for him to find during the day tomorrow. The candy I purchased will not fit, so off to The Preacher's office it goes. We are heavy-hearted, but still holding up well. Prayer for the early a.m. appreciated.