Creamy Corn Chowder

I have a go-to corn chowder recipe so almost passed up this one.  However, this one is lower in fat and calories and a bit quicker to fix so went ahead and gave it a try.  It’s really yummy!  I didn’t want to use up the rest of my half-and-half so I substituted a 12-ounce can of fat-free evaporated milk I had in the pantry; you could also substitute any other milk product.  For convenience, I chopped the onion, celery and red pepper in the food processor.  Try the Herb Bread with this soup!

Creamy Corn Chowder

  • 6 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 medium potatoes, diced
  • 1 pound frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup half-and-half (or substitute)

Cook bacon over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.  Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat.  Add onion, celery and bell pepper; cook 5 minutes.  Add potatoes, corn, thyme, salt and pepper.  Sprinkle flour over; stir until thick, about 3 minutes.  Stir in broth and bay leaf; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, then simmer 25 minutes.  Remove bay leaf.  Stir in half-and-half or substitute.  Cook until warmed through.

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Herb Bread

You will love this recipe!  It makes the whole house smell like an Italian bakery.  Mix and match herbs to fit whatever dish you’re serving with it.  This version with rosemary, oregano and basil goes well with Creamy Corn Chowder.  You can also substitute 3 teaspoons of an Italian seasoning blend to make it even easier.

Herb Bread

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary or 2 tablespoons fresh, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon each dried oregano and basil or 1 tablespoon each fresh
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons yeast

Place ingredients in machine per manufacturer instructions.  Bake on large loaf, light crust.  Use any combination of herbs.

Makes 1 loaf

Menu Plan Monday

I can do this!  I can get back into the habit of planning meals ahead in order to manage our food resources better.  I feel much more efficient when I have a plan made ahead of time, although I’m flexible enough that I don’t mind to toss something out if plans are changed or we just feel like having something else.  It makes me feel better just having it down on paper to look at throughout the week and also really keeps me focused on what to purchase at the grocery store.

Part of menu planning is taking into account what activities your family has planned for the upcoming week and plan accordingly.  If we’ll be getting home later in the day, perhaps a slow cooker meal would be best.  If there is a special holiday, such as a birthday, we probably want a bit of a fancier meal that night.  So this week I have an errand day Wednesday afternoon and church that evening, fellowship Friday evening and a party Saturday afternoon.

In addition, successful menu planning includes using up what you have on hand, which takes us back to food management.  If I have a plan made ahead of time and grocery shop accordingly, then I am much more likely to use up what we have, rotate our pantry and freezer items and generally waste less food.  I feel terrible when I find vegetables or leftovers in the back of the fridge that I have to throw out!

Menu Plan, 1/20 through 1/25

Breakfast Choices:

  • Smoothie
  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Cream of Wheat
  • Sausage Breakfast Muffins
  • Eggs & Toast
  • New Recipe:  Breakfast Bowls (make ahead freezer food)

Lunch Choices:

  • Leftovers
  • Sandwiches ~ Lunchmeat
  • Sandwiches ~ Grilled Cheese
  • New Recipe:  Broccoli-Cheese Bread Casserole
  • New Recipe:  Broccoli-Cheese Soup

As you can see from the lists above, I don’t formally plan each breakfast or lunch.  This is what we have on hand or what I would like to try so those are the options.  Our older daughter eats lunch at school, and my husband usually takes a packed lunch that includes a lunchmeat sandwich.  Only myself and our younger daughter are home for lunch.  The new lunch recipes are included this week because I have an entire gallon-sized bag of broccoli stems to use up from taking fresh broccoli florets on vegetable trays to last weekend’s ladies’ retreat.  The new breakfast recipe is a make ahead meal for the freezer, as I am trying to build up some grab-and-go breakfast foods for the pantry/freezer so the teenager and hubby will eat something for breakfast.

Dinners:

  • Monday~ Creamy Corn Chowder (I have corn on the cob from last summer’s garden in the freezer), Herb Bread (bread machine), Peach Cobbler (slow cooker)
  • Tuesday~ Chicken Pot Pie (making extras to give away), Fruit
  • Wednesday~ Spaghetti (homemade sauce), French bread (using up loaf in freezer), Vegetable (from freezer)
  • Thursday~ Minestrone Soup (slow cooker; using up rind of Parmesan cheese block), French bread (using up rest of loaf from freezer), Fruit
  • Friday~ Free Night (Gigging for my husband and fellowship for me.  We may each have to take something for these events but not sure yet.)
  • Saturday~ Deer Roast (slow cooker), Scalloped Potatoes, Vegetable (from freezer)

I’ll post the new recipes if they are keepers!

Send free faxes

I know this doesn’t happen very often but every once in a while I end up with a form or something that can be faxed rather than mailed.  This saves an envelope, postage and delivery time, not to mention the time and gas spent for me to drive almost 20 miles one way to the nearest fax service plus the fees charged for sending it.

But what if you don’t have a fax machine at home?  I certainly don’t, but I do have Google and searched one day for free faxing online and sure enough it is possible.

So I have now used two services to send free faxes.  The first is Fax Zero, which allows a max of 3 pages plus the cover.  This is usually the one I use because most items are only one page.  However, I ended up having one that was several pages and searched for a service that allows more pages while still being free and found MyFax.  (Only the first fax may be free with MyFax.)  I have had success with all of the faxes I have sent with both services.

Don’t you just love free?

Vegetable Beef Barley Soup

I found this recipe in an email newsletter and have adopted it as my go-to vegetable soup recipe.  It’s so yummy I made it for our annual ladies’ retreat and got rave reviews over it.  And, if you are watching your caloric intake, it’s very low in calories.  You can see the original recipe with nutritional info here.

*Note:  I have made this with several different cuts of beef and also with deer (venison).  It’s always yummy so just use whatever cut you have on hand or can find.  I usually throw in a mixed Italian seasoning instead of just the oregano or basil called for.

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 12 ounces lean beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 cans (14 ounces each) beef broth
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or basil, crushed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick cubes
  • 2/3 cup quick-cooking barley

In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat.  Add meat; cook and stir until meat is browned.  Stir in broth, onion, celery, herbs, garlic, pepper and bay leaf.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 1-1/2 hours or until meat is tender.

Stir in frozen vegetables, undrained tomatoes, potato and barley.  Return to boiling; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer about 15 minutes more or until meat and vegetables are tender.  Discard bay leaf.

Serves 8

Sausage Breakfast Muffins

I first came across this recipe when I was looking for quick, easy breakfasts for busy mornings.  I haven’t adapted the original recipe at all, and you can see the nutritional facts if you go here.

*Note:  I do not use paper liners.  I spray the pans with nonstick spray, but you could also wipe with oil or butter.  They come out of the pans just fine.  I haven’t tried a homemade Bisquick substitute, but it’s on my list.  Please let me know if you try it and pass along your recipe!  I use large eggs, whatever kind of milk I happen to have on hand, and cheddar cheese.

  • 2 pounds bulk breakfast sausage
  • 4 cups Bisquick
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 6 eggs
  • 3-1/2 cups milk
  • 3 cups shredded cheese

Brown sausage, crumble and drain.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix together Bisquick, cornmeal, eggs and milk.  Add drained sausage and cheese.  Stir well.  Fill the muffin tins almost to the top.  Bake for 11-15 minutes.  Allow to cool completely.  Store in freezer in freezer bags.  To reheat, microwave on high for about 90 seconds.

Serves 48 (I usually get a few less because I guess I fill them higher)

Savings potpourri

finance_piggy_bank_coins_lineartI’m always looking for ways to cut costs and love to share ideas with others.  That’s why I an excited to share this neat package of lots of money saving ideas put together by the University of Missouri Extension.  Living on Less gives a comprehensive list of cost cutting ideas in several areas.

I have yet to try every possible way of saving money so I am committing to trying all the items on this list (that apply to my family and our lifestyle) before the end of 2014.  I will post details here when I try something on the list so stay tuned, and please feel free to share out any of the ideas that you try!

Oh, and I love the cool little check boxes next to each one!  (I cannot control my compulsive tendencies, which include the need to check off things on a list.)