Monday, June 25, 2012

Freezer Meals: Turkey

While I'm a big fan of having ready-made freezer meals waiting for me, I haven't had much success with any cook-for-the-month meals.  I get exhausted about five meals in, and the thought of 25 more to go is just too much!  One way I have had success is by cooking one-meat-at-a-time freezer meals.  They're not all complete meals, but they help speed up meals later on.

Today's meat is a turkey.

Now, before you get too overwhelmed at just the thought of cooking a turkey, here's a brilliant way to make it simple: cook it from frozen!  Busy Cooks has a great article on it - it takes longer (5 hours for a 12 lb bird) but no need to think ahead.

Once the bird is done, carve it up, shred most of the turkey & save the carcass for stock.  My bird (12 lb) gave me enough for 8 cups shredded turkey and 2 meals worth drumsticks, wings & extra bits.  Including the soup from the carcass, that's 8 meals for a family of 4.

Meal 1: Traditional Turkey Dinner

Now, since I'm busy making other meals today, it's not Thanksgiving-worthy.  We're talking instant mashed potatoes, stovetop stuffing & frozen veggies.  It's good enough.  Actually, it looks downright impressive when hubby walks in the door from work!

Meal 2: Turkey Sandwiches

I know it's not for everybody, but our family loves leftover turkey sandwiches, so we don't skip this one!  If they're not for you, just shred this meat up as well.  We make them with lots of miracle whip, cranberry sauce and the secret ingredient of poultry seasoning sprinkled on top.  Try it - it's delicious!

Meals 3&4: Turkey Soup

Mennonite Girls Can Cook have delicious turkey stock recipe that's worth making.  If it's one step too many, just throw the carcass into a bag and freeze it for later.  I save the soup in the freezer until a sick day comes up.  Turkey soup just isn't special right after eating a turkey meal, but weeks later, when a sore throat hits or a rainy day shows up, it becomes such a treat!

Meal 5: Turkey Quesadillas

We top a tortilla with thawed turkey, shredded cheese & salsa, fold it in half, and grill it on the stovetop.  Served with sour cream and guacamole makes for a quick & tasty lunch!

Meal 6: Pineapple Turkey Salad.

My husband grew up on a turkey farm, and they stretched looking for new & fresh tasting ways to eat turkey.  This one is a favourite!

In a small bowl, mix together:
1 cup miracle whip
2 tablespoons dijon mustard

In a large bowl, toss together:
 1 can pineapple tidbits, drained
1 can mandarin orange segments, drained
2-4 cups chopped turkey

2 cups chopped celery
1/2 bag Farkay Chow Mein Noodles

Add dressing and toss until coated.  Serve immediately.  (Note: if  you omit the noodles, this keeps well in the fridge for a few days.  The noodles will go soft if in the salad over night, and we like the crunchy texture, but other than that there's no reason not to make lunches for a few days from this meal).

Meal 7: Thai Curry

One ziploc bag is perfect for this thai treat. 

Meal 8: Turkey Burritos

Eating Well's low calorie turkey & bean burritos

See?  Not so bad, was it?  And now you have ideas & meat ready to go for your next busy day's meal.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Happy Mom's Weekly Menu: week 2

Well, last week went alright: I can't say I stayed on the diet wagon too well, but having a plan to follow really helped, so my breakfasts & dinners I rocked at... just need to work on the snacking!  It also made a big difference in grocery shopping blues (I only went to the store once.  Incredible!), budget (I didn't even try to make cost-friendly meals, but not going grocery shopping multiple times helps a lot), and the "I don't know what to make and everybody's crying" stage of the day.  All in all, a good experiment!   So, it's time for round two:

Happy Mom's Weekly Menu: WEEK TWO


Make Ahead Monday

Farmer Sausage Borscht from Mennonite Girls Can Cook.  It's meant for a crowd and makes 8 quarts so there's plenty for our supper, the freezer, and friends of ours who just came home with a newborn daughter (congratulations L&D!) (Weight Watchers Points Plus: 4)


We're expecting warm weather on Tuesday, so I know I will feel like something light and cool - Light Buffalo Chicken Wraps from Shrinking Kitchen sounds delicious. (Weight Watchers Points Plus: 7)






Meatless Wednesday

Baked Falafal Sandwiches from Weight Watchers (Weight Watchers Points Plus: 9)





Slow Cooker Thursday

Slow Cooker Carnitas from Allrecipes (Weight Watchers Points Plus: 6)


Shrimp Skewers from SkinnyTaste with grilled vegetables and garden salad (lettuce is growing in our garden already! Hooray!)  (Weight Watchers Points Plus: 4)





Tuna Burgers from Can You Stay For Dinner (Weight Watchers Points Plus: 4)

And Sunday is my day off...

Happy cooking!

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Happy Mom's Weekly Menu Plan: Week One

I enjoy cooking.  I enjoy new things.  I love deciding at the very last minute what I feel like, running to the store and surprising myself.  Well, I used to.  That was 60 pounds and 2 kids ago.  Now, I'm trying to lose weight and deal with crying kids who are hungry and trips to the grocery store don't happen without an hour or two or planning, so I am learning to do things a little differently!

I'm still trying new recipes & striving for creativity in the kitchen, but these days I need to plan ahead, make sure I have ingredients on hand and my waistline loves me if I take into account the Weight Watchers points.  And you know what?  As much as I fought changing my cooking style, I'm really enjoying being prepared.  I'm finding it really does make me a happy mom!


Mongolian Beef stirfry with brown rice & asian vegetables (WW Points Plus: 12)


Pork Chops and Potatoes in Mustard Sauces, rice and salad (WW Points Plus: 7)


Lentil Taco Salad (WW Points Plus: 8)


Apricot Lentil Soup (WW Points Plus: 6) with brown bread & butter (WWPoints Plus: 3)


Grilled Chicken Breasts with Balsamic Vinegraitte, garden salad & asparagus (WW Points Plus: 6)


Spinach Chicken Salad (WW Points Plus: 12) (Personal moan: I think there should be a rule that salads never have more than 6 points plus.  C'mon - it's a SALAD!!!  But I love them too much to give them up, and they are healthy points...)


chai steel-cut oatmeal and banana: eat 1/2 of a serving to keep the WW points plus down to 5!
 or hardboiled egg with toast & margerine (WW Points Plus: 5)

Do you know of other weekly or monthly online menu planners?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Friday, May 4, 2012

DIY Gift - Garden Markers

Just in time for Mother's Day!  I knew we all had caught the early spring gardener's itch, so something for the garden was definitly what was needed this Mother's Day.  After perusing the 'net for some garden markers inspiration for Mother's Day gifts, I finally settled on a colourful & simple design!

I had tongue depressors on hand (really, I did!) so I pulled out my dollar-store acrylic paint, and gave each of them a cheerful coat of colour.  After a chance to dry, I used my sharpie to label them, with a nice dot where the pen lifts off the stick for a "scrapbooking" look.  A coat of polyurethane was really the ticket that sold me on this simple design - it adds some shine & weatherproofing to prevent against rot, so it felt like I was giving more than just tongue depressors!  Thanks, Katy Harper, for that bit of genius.  They turned out pretty, used what I had on hand, & I'm making another set for my own garden!

DIY Vintage Sign

We inherited a cottage from my husband's family: mostly because everyone else in the family said "burn the thing" - that tells you something about the state it's in - and only my husband & I are crazy enough to think we can make something of it.  Well, a complete cottage overhaul needed a new name.  I christened ours: the Silver Lining (appropriately tacky since it's situated in Silver Harbour.  Yes, we are shouting "TOURIST" and we're okay with that!)  I loved the vintage feel for a cottage, and so with the help of Pinterest and a few good tutorials, here's how it turned out!
Total cost: $3 for paint.

I started with an old fence board (once in a while I am very grateful for my husband's "I might need it one day" attitude!)

I caught him while he had the table saw out anyway, and had him cut my a 2 foot length.  Then I was ready to paint!  Funky Junk interiors has a great tutorial on how to make old signs (found on pinterest!)
I started with a coat of bright blue paint (I used acrylics, from the Dollar store), let it dry, then another coat of white paint over top.

Here's where I went wrong: I first painted my letters, then sanded.  Note to other not-intuitive-DIY-ers.  Sand it NOW.  I used a belt sander, sanding right down to the wood to distress the wood.

Next (if you are doing it correctly) I used another pinterest tutorial, this time from That's My Letter, on how to paint letters on wood: simply print out what you want, place the paper on the wood, then go over it with a ballpoint pen, pressing heavily.  It leaves a faint indent in the wood, that you can paint inside - it's genius and it works!

This is where I sanded... and sanded most of my letters right off.  So I repainted the letters, and added a free-handed a silver shadow for effect, then sealed the deal with a can of spray-on polyurethane to weatherproof it (this step is not necessary for indoor signs, but I want mine proudly on the driveway of our cottage).

I think it really looks old & professional - not like a hack I did in my backyard one afternoon.

Did I mention I love pinterest? 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

6 free & easy diy garden markers

I'm looking for ideas for Mother's Day - in a DIY fashion!  I have one mother who appreciates anything DIY, and another who needs nothing and DIY, while appreciated, is sometimes strange to her.  But they're both gardeners, so I'm on the lookout for some ideas.  Here's some faves so far:

 I am in love with free art!  No purchases necessary.  The only problem: I have a handicap when it comes to wire and it always looks horrible when I'm done!  Find it at In My Own Style - a website I totally have to go back and browse through later on!

 This is one I can do: I have neat writing, a sharpie, skewers & clothespins... but will it stand up to the elements?  And is it sturdy enough for our cat-filled, toddler-romping garden?  Glue & Glitter's version of this marker makes it sound easy & look pretty.

I actually am in love with the stamped spoon look, but I don't own a stamping kit and don't think I want to invest in one just for this! But Magic Onions has a reasonable alternative to stamping: decoupage!  I think I'll skip the magazine cut-outs (though including the children in this craft is a great idea, mine are too young anyway) and with my own art and see what happens.

Apt Garden wins the prize for the simplest - a plastic knife & sharpie - and I really like the look of it.  I might use it for our garden, but I'm not sure if it's pretty enough to be a mother's day gift!
Apartment Therapy shares this genius link: I like the look of metal, since to me it looks "store bought" or "too hard to actually make" - but it's super easy! 
Do I love Katy Harper's garden stakes because I'm a sucker for colours, or because they really are that cute?  Who knows, but it's also a cheap/free option, and she solved the issue of rotting wood with a coat of polyurethane.

Find out what I ended up with for my own DIY garden markers here.