Suki Yaki

This is one of my all time favorite meals, hands down. I'm not sure if it's because it's nostalgic, or because it's so darn good, probably both. The whole family loves this meal. One of the nice things about this Japanese dish is that all the ingredients you can get at normal stores, which makes it a little less intimidating for someone who wants to try a Japanese dish for the first time. I hope you love it as much as we did.

Here are some helpful side notes about some of the ingredients. If your store has a good quality beef roast on sale for a great price, I'll usually buy that. Take your meat to the meat department in your grocery store and ask them to slice it thinly for you, this will save you A LOT of time and hassle and most store will do it for free, so why not!?! The bean threads, I think I was able to find at Walmart with the other Asian foods, they are dried, white/clear noodles. You can also check your local grocery stores, but mine didn't carry them. Follow the directions on the back of the package on softening them, which consists of covering them with boiling water and letting them sit. Mine came in a three pack tray of noodles, which is way more than we need for our family of 5. This last time I just cut one of the dry bundles of noodles and used that, and it worked and I stored the rest of the dry noodles in a ziplock for another use. Some of us in our house like the noodles more than others, so for us I think next time I'll use one of the three bundles instead of a half, so I can get my noodle fix. Also this is more of a technique than a recipe, the only recipe is really for the sauce that the ingredients are cooked in, you are more than welcome to try your own mix of veggies or other things that you like.

Suki Yaki
1 1/2 lbs beef tenderloin - thinly sliced
green onions
sliced fresh mushrooms
carrots, sliced
broccoli, cut into bite size chunks
onion, thinly sliced
napa cabbage, sliced into stripes
tofu, medium firm, cut into 1 inch cubes
bean threads

1 c. Soy Sauce
2 c. Water
6 TBS. Brown Sugar (you can use white sugar, but I like the flavor better with brown)

In a large deep pan, combine ingredients for the sauce and bring to a simmer and make sure the sugar is melted. Add the other ingredients in based on cooking time, making sure the sauce comes back to a boil. I like to add the meat, noodles (so they can soak up the flavor of the sauce), carrot and other firm veggies first. Once they have cooked for a couple minutes I'll add the rest and let them cook until the meat is done and cooked through. It shouldn't take the meat too long to cook since it is cut so thin. Stir the ingredients occasionally so they all get cooked evenly. I like to throw the green onions in close to the end so they don't loose their color and get limp.
Used a slotted spoon or something to get out your cooked ingredients so you don't get too much sauce and serve over rice, you can always use a spoon to get a little more sauce to put with your rice.

Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup

This is a recipe we have made several times, and we love it. This last time I forgot get mushrooms, so we made it without and was still equally good. I came across this recipe on a food blog I enjoy, this lady used her crockpot every day for a year. There are quiet a few recipes I've found on here that are still waiting to be made, I go here often, go check her out.

Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup

1 pound chicken (I used frozen breast tenderloins)
--2 can cup black beans, drained and rinsed (you can even used dried beans, go to her recipe to see how to do that)

--4 cups chicken broth
--1 cup sliced mushrooms

--1 cup frozen corn
--1 jar prepared salsa (16 oz)

--1 1/2 tsp cumin
--1/2 cup sour cream (to stir in at the end)

--shredded cheddar cheese, avocado slices, cilantro (all optional)

Put everything in the crock pot except the last two ingredients and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-5

For those that we have made this for we had a few changes from the above recipe. Add one cup chicken broth, 1 dried hot pepper whole (taken out before eating), and half the beans.

Oatmeal Pancakes

Oatmeal Pancakes

2 c. oats

2 c. buttermilk

½ c. flour

2 Tbs. Sugar

1 tsp. Baking powder

1 tsp. Baking soda

½ tsp. Salt

2 eggs, beaten

½ c. butter, melted then cooled

Combine oats and buttermilk in a bowl, cover and let sit in the fridge overnight.

Combine the dry ingredients.

Add eggs and butter to the oat mixture. Stir in dry ingredients.

Cook pancakes.

These were super yummy. We have made them several times and you should too!

Beef Stroganoff

This is one that I grew up with and love. It's a simple recipe, and I know it by heart. It uses the crockpot which I love finding ways to use my crockpot! -Erin

My mother made something like this all the time. I think that it must have been something to do with the little bit of leftovers in the fridge or something. Ether way it is great. Good down to earth home cooking. If you have never had it you must to be from around here. So give it a try. You will not regret it. -Jer

Beef Stroganoff
1 lbs. of beef stew meat (I found a roast at a great price, so I used that and cut it up into pieces)
1 packet of onion soup mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 can of campbells beef consumme (found in the soup aisle, not sure what to do with the rest? freeze it for next time)
8 oz. package of sliced fresh mushrooms
8 oz. sour cream

Combine meat, soup mix, cream of mushroom soup, beef consumme, and mushrooms in crockpot. Turn on low and let cook 4-6 hours depending on the size of meat. My new crockpot has the option of setting the amount of time it cooks for and once it hits that time it goes to warm. If you don't have this option you can start it in the morning and just let it go until you are ready to eat. A half an hour before you eat, or if you don't have that amount of time when you start getting water ready for your noodles, add the sour cream. Serve over egg noodles.

How to not make a Birthday Cake

Well today is my sister-in-laws birthday (Happy Birthday Miss). So I am going to use that as an excuse to talk about birthday cakes. I know everyone loves some sort of birthday cake. It might be a great chocolate cake or maybe it is a white cake with lemon frosting. But I think that all of us can remember the great cakes that our mom's made for us when we were kids. I know I remember how much effort my mother put into making sure our cakes were perfect.

Around here Erin does that for our kids. I thought we should do a little review.

Here is a great cake She made this last year for Stirfry. I think we were on a cupcake kick this last year, so you can see the awesome ball cupcakes she put together. The amazing attention to detail and how much work she put into them.

Here is buluga's stunning elegant yet simple cupcakes. They turned out so perfect and were pretty good to boot. I think we should make some more.

Lastly we have Speedy's. She went all out with this train cake. It was impressive. She put so much work into something that was just eaten.

This brings me to my last cake. The other night Speedy was eating with us at the table. You know the Sunday dinners that you mom or wife puts all the effort into. Getting up at the crack of dawn to sear the roast. Then puts it into the crock pot for hours on end to make a simple piece of meat tender as butter. Then slave over a stove for hours making the most delicate mash potatoes. Then puts some greens in for good measure. That was our night. About half way into it we saw that Speedy was doing a little something with his dinner. When asked what he was doing his response was, "Its my birthday. I'm making cake." So here you go. How not to make birthday cake.

How to lower your food budget - Part Two

So last week I talked about how to save money on your food budget by using coupons. If you missed it or need a refresher go here.
This week I'm going to talk about my ALL TIME favorite website! It's called grocery smarts. It list local stores and what they have on sale. They give the items on sale a star rating, 1 being the worst and 5 stars being the best price you'll probably ever see for that item. You need your states code, that you enter on the right side under "enter a passport". Here are some state codes that I know... Utah is g84ctm or g84cem, Arizona g85ro1, Eastern Washington g99ro1, Idaho g83ro1, Nevada/Las Vegas Area g89cjm, Nevada g89csb, Southern California g92ro1. If you don't find where you live on here go to Pinching Your Pennies and go to State Forums and go to your state and see if you can find your local store ad listed.
Both of these sites are great resources when it comes to shopping. Often times I have a hard time remembering what is a good deal for things. Grocery Smarts tells you on their star scale how good of price it is, and it'll tell you where you can find coupons for those products either online or in newspapers. If there is a coupon listed the star rate is based on the price after the coupon is used.
So how do I use this website? I go on and see what the great deals are and try to plan my menu around that. Or if I know I am almost out of something and it goes on sale for a great price, I stock up, so when I do need it I don't have to pay full price. Did you know that sometimes stores list things in their ad to make you think they are sale and they really aren't on sale or that great of a price?
So go check out my favorite site and see what is on sale for an unbeatable price at the store near you!

Glazed Lemon Sugar Cookies

This was a recipe I found online this weekend, when I was looking for something quick to make for a family member who watched our kids kind of spur of the moment, just to say thank you for taking time out of your schedule to help out our family in a time of need. I have several boxes of cookie mix, that I got for FREE so I figured I'd see if I could find some way to use them. This recipe turned out perfect because it also called for lemons, which I had some my mother-in-law gave me from off her tree, that needed to be used. Jeremy says this is now his favorite type of cookie, since he is a fan of lemon. I'm sure they'll be even yummier with homemade sugar cookie dough, although I think next time I make them I might double the amount of lemon juice and zest in the dough. So give these a try!

Glazed Lemon Sugar Cookies
1, 15.5 oz package Krusteaz Sugar Cookie Mix
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 egg
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Lemon Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 375°F. For Cookies: Place cookie mix, butter, egg, lemon zest and lemon juice in medium bowl. Stir until dough forms, hand kneading if necessary. Using rounded tablespoon dough for each cookie, place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes. Cool cookies completely and spread with lemon glaze. For Lemon Glaze: Place glaze ingredients in small bowl. Stir until smooth.
Makes 24 cookies.

How to to lower your food budget - Part One

Some of you might wonder how I feed my family of 5 for $200 a month. This week and next week I'll talk about the two things that save me the most money at the grocery store.

Take a look at all this stuff I bought at the grocery store a while back, go ahead I'll wait....

Now that you have looked it over, how much would you pay for all of that? Go a head look it over and see how much of all the items I got and do the math, how much would you pay? I'll help you break it down. I got 6 boxes of Krusteaz cookie mix, 3 boxes of 20 count Electrasol dishwashing packets, 2 bags of Kraft shredded cheese, 3 boxes of Ritz crackers, 1 box of Wheat Thins, and 5 bags of Quaker Quakes Rice Snacks. I'm serious I want you to come up with a number in your head, before I'm going to tell you what I paid. Once you got one, you can scroll down and I'll let you know what I paid.

A lot of people think, is using coupons really worth my time? That's what I used to think, but now I know the truth...In most cases yes using coupons are worth your time and the money you spend on newspapers or buying ink and paper for your printer.
When you are using your coupons, make sure to wait to use a coupon until that item is on sale, to get the most for your money. I'll talk next week about how to know how good of a sale it is. Also just because you have a coupon for something doesn't mean you should us it, if you don't use the product and your family doesn't like it why buy it just to save money, if it is just going to sit on your shelf.
Most of the coupons I use are from the newspaper. At our house we get 5 newspapers on Sunday, so that I can get more than one thing at a great price. There are also places to get coupons online. I do print a few every month, like a coupon for cheese, so I never have to pay more than $3 for 2 pounds of cheddar cheese. The resource I'm going to talk about next week, will give you some links on where to find some online coupons.
So by now you are probably thinking I forgot to tell you how much I paid for those 20 items above. Don't worry I didn't forget, I just wanted to make sure you weren't cheating and came up with a number and had time to think about it. So if I would have bought all of these items not on sale without coupons I would have spent $63.83, which is $3.19 an item!!! So how does that compare to your guess? This purchase was made at a store, where you have to use a card to get the sale prices, so after I used my card I saved $31.58, which would bring the total to $32.25, which is now $1.61 an item, not to bad right!?! But then I had coupons from my newspapers, I used $22.25 in coupons, which then brought my total down to $10 for 20 items, pretty easy to do the math right? That is $0.50 an item! Now this isn't the kind of receipt I see all the time, but every once in awhile. But on a normal trip to the store I use several dollars worth of coupons, and use them on sale items which definitely adds up and helps us save money.
I challenge you to try to cut back on your food budget, too. If you have any questions let me know. Also if you live Utah I can give you contacts of people that can help you get better prices on Sunday newspapers. So if you have questions feel free to ask, and I'll do my best to help you!

Orange Rolls

This recipe is a family favorite. Growing up my mom would make these, and one of my brother's would count how many there were, to make sure someone didn't get more than another. If you aren't comfortable with bread making, go check out our post on basic bread to kind of get a walk through on bread making.

1 1/2 c. warm water
1 Tbs. yeast
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 Tbs. soft butter (or you can use shortening)
1 egg
5 c. flour

1 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, melted
Orange zest, from 4 oranges

For the dough, combine the water, yeast and 1/4 c. sugar, and let sit for 10 minutes. Add salt, softened butter, egg and flour. Mix until you have a soft dough, then knead it. Let the dough rest for half an hour.
While the dough is resting melt butter for the filling, then mix in sugar and orange zest and let it cool so it's not hot. After the dough has rested for a half an hour, roll it out into a rectangle so the dough is about 1/4 inch think. Spread filling all over the top of the dough.

You can shape the dough 2 ways, you can either roll it up and cut it like cinnamon rolls, or you can cut the dough into 1 1/2 inch strips, then layer them 3 high, and then cut them into squares, and layer them into a greased 9x13 pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let the rolls raise until doubled.
Cook rolls in a preheated 325 degree oven until very lightly browned. My mom says she cooks her's for 12-14 minutes, but whenever I've made them they have always needed longer. So start with 12 minutes and go from there, when I make them I usually have to cook mine for 25-30 minutes.
I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Having Fun on a Budget

Us along with most of a America are living on a budget, for various different reasons. Just because we are on a budget doesn't mean we can't have fun. It just means we have to do more planning to get the most out of our dollar, and maybe not go out as often.
This last week was Jeremy's birthday. I'm a very indecisive person which I'm sure he'll attest to, so it was easy to make him think I didn't really have anything planned. But the truth be told, me and a friend had been planning our night out for about a month. Jeremy's birthday and one of my best friends birthday are a day apart. So myself and her husband decided we would surprise our spouses with a night out. We went and picked up Jeremy from work, he had NO IDEA I got permission for him to leave early. We then went and got some pizza sandwiches (which were super yummy and HUGE!). We then went to see/participate in a murder mystery play, and have dessert.
We had a fun time and did it all on a budget! So how did we do it? If there was no advanced planning we would have paid over $50 in what we did. But since we planned in advance we spent just under $30. We went to a fabulous website called City Deals where you can buy gift certificates to different places at a discount. You don't have to plan a month ahead maybe a week or two for shipping. If you are living on a budget you have probably learned that sticking to your budget does require planning so it shouldn't be too hard. So if you are wanting to save some money on your fun go check out City Deals, and if they don't have it for your area, they do have some things for national brands you might be able to use in your area.

Taco Soup with Black Beans

My kids used to NEVER eat soup, one day we were at the store and they had a sample of this and they ATE IT! So we made it and they ate it at home and I think that started them on eating other types of soup. It has a little different twist from the normal taco soup but it's good.

Taco Soup with Black Beans
1 lbs. ground beef, browned and drained
15 oz. can black beans, drained
15 1/2 oz. can red kidney beans, drained
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
12 1/4 oz. can corn, undrained
1 packet ranch dressing mix
1 packet taco seasoning
1 small onion, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a crock pot. Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, and corn chips.

Pigs Bladder - Are you kidding me?

I often am reading blogs around the web. I follow maybe two dozen every day. They don’t post ever day but when they do I follow them. I have recently started reading some cooking blogs. I would bet that there are as many cooking blogs as all other blogs put together. (If you don’t count blogs about how to create a successful blog.) One of the blogs that I do read recently visited a restaurant in New York. You know that kind of place they are talking about. One that doesn’t have prices on the menu and when you get your bill you just pay it with looking. But really is some where in the range of a hundred bucks a plate. The kind of place they make fun of on cartoons because of the portion size. They ordered Poularde de bresse en vessie which turns out to be chicken cooked in a pig’s bladder. You heard me right. You take a pig’s bladder clean it out, put a bunch of chicken in it with a few spices and use it to steam cook the chicken. This causes the bladder to fill up like a balloon. Which is how it is server.

I’m sure there is some guy in Europe somewhere that thinks this isn’t all that crazy. They eat like that every Sunday. You just kill yourself a pig on Tuesday and save the innards Fill said innards on Sunday and your good to go. Where I come from in no where towns Utah this isn’t how it is done. We might eat some crazy things here, you know like pizza and wings from the local wingers. But we don’t pay a hundred bucks a head to eat something that is cooked in the pee holder of a pig. Nope not me.

Why do big time restaurants feel they have to do this. Didn’t they learn anything from ratatouille? (The one with the rats.) People want food from there childhood. Things that remind them of there mom, not something that reminds them of how crazy other people must be. Give me some great corn chowder, or a good meat loaf and I am in heaven. A little sushi is about as adventurous we need to get in my house. Then again a few of the things we do eat might not be your cup of tea ether. I guess we all have our own tastes and are a little crazy in what we eat and wont eat. So next time your coming over to my place make sure you got your pigs bladders ready to go. Because we are having Poularde de bresse en vessie at our place and you have to bring the bladder.


I'm not much of an organizer, I wish I were but I'm not. There is one thing I purchased a while back, that I love and use regularly. So what is this item? It's a white board that is magnetic so I can have it on my fridge.
I keep telephone numbers on there that people might need, and basically everything else has to to do with food. I have written what freezer meals or part of meals I have in the freezer so I know and they don't just get lost in there and forgotten. I have my menu you on there. And last but not least, I have what I need to get at stores. Has this ever happened to you?...You use up the last of something, only to forget to buy it at the store and you remember that you are out of it the next time you go to use it. I do this ALL the time. But now the minute I use something up or know I am getting close (in most cases, sometimes I still forget) I write it down under the store I buy it from. So I usually have 3 to 4 stores on my white board. Also when ads come out I write items that are on sale that I need to get that week.
So here is the challenge for this week...find a way to be a little more organized so you know what you have, where you have it, and what you need, so you don't let things go to waste. Good Luck!

Bread - A Short How-To

2 c. warm water
2/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 Tbs. yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. oil
6 c. flour (plus more if dough is still sticky)

Mix together warm water (to see if your water is right temperature, test it with your hand, it should be warm, just on the verge of hot, so you feel a little burn in it), sugar, and yeast in whatever bowl you plan on making it in (kitchenaid, bosch, in big bowl if you are making it by hand). Let sit for 10 minutes until foamy.

Mix in salt, oil, and flour. If you are using a mixer add everything in and mix it up. When everything is incorporated the dough should be slightly sticky and soft, but when you touch it barely any should stick to your finger, if any. If it sticks a lot add a little more flour and mix it in and test it again. Once you get the consistency, on the kitchen aid turn it to medium speed, for a bosch speed 1, and let it knead for 5 minutes. If you are making the dough without a mixer, after you let the yeast get foamy, add oil and salt, and half of the flour, stir to incorporate, Slowly add the rest of the flour.

When it get to the point you can no longer stir the dough, dump the dough on a floured counter and knead in the rest of the dough. To knead fold dough in half on top of each other and push down with your palms, rotate dough and and fold dough in half and push down with your palms. Repeat this process until your dough is the consistency stated above and knead it for another 15 minutes. Once dough has been kneaded, pour a small amount of oil (a couple teaspoons) in a large bowl and use your hand to coat the whole bowl with oil. Put the dough in the bowl and turn it over, so both sides have oil on it. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise for one hour. Once it has raised punch the dough down and take it out of the bowl. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Use your hands and karate chop the dough into a slight rectangle, then roll up into a log.

Pinch all the ends closed and put in a grease bread pan. Repeat the process with the other half of dough. Cover with a damp towel and let raise 60-90 minutes until it's raised an inch over the top of the pan. (In the summer it will raise faster than the winter when it's colder.) Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Take bread out of the pans as soon as you take them out of the oven. Put them on a cooling rack. While they are still hot, take a stick of butter and rub them over the top of the bread. While you are at it eat a piece or two, warm out the oven, because that is the best thing EVER!


Some days you wake up and know that things are going to go wrong. That it would better for the world if you crawled back into bed. Today felt like one of those days. You know the days were you do more harm then good. I feel like I was further ahead yesterday then today. So what do you do when you have a bad day? Me, I think of my childhood. A little nostalgia of the "good old days". One of the greatest things from my childhood is creamsicles.

Tonight I decided I would attempt again to update the old creamsicle and make it a little bit more adult. You know I have tried and tried to make a great orange cream shake. But I have never gotten it right. Tell tonight. I found it, that secret ingredient that you need for it to turn out just right and taste perfect. Hold tight and on another day I will give you pictures and the recipe. Promise.

Ah okay, here you go. Pictures will come later.

1/2 cup of Vanilla Yogurt (Its the secret)
3/4 a can of orange Soda
1 Tsp of Vanilla Extract
Vanilla Ice Cream

Add it all into a blender and blend tell you like the consistency. It will taste just like your childhood.

Saving money by saving food

As Jeremy said he isn't a fan of leftovers, so often times food gets thrown out. Awhile ago I would just make the whole recipe of something, and whatever we didn't eat that day or as left overs later would get thrown out, which would be a lot! One day something just clicked and I thought, why am I making a whole pan of something, when my family doesn't even eat half of it? What a waste of food! So I have started just making half of the recipe. Or where the recipe permits I make the whole recipe and put half in a small pan, and the other half in a disposable pan from the dollar store and cover it and put it in the freezer. It takes as much work to make a full recipe as it does a half, so why not make it all and have some in the freezer for later. If the whole recipe wouldn't work well in the freezer I do the parts I can that will freeze well, like the meat, sauces, beans and things like that, and put them in a freezer bag, and write on it what recipe it's for and what's in it. So I challenge you to stop throwing away so much food and save yourself some money while you do it.

Sushi (California Roll)

I'm sure there are a lot of you out there that are not fans of sea food. If this is you but you're up for a little adventure this recipe is for you. It doesn't really have any seafood in it. There is Nori, but that is anything from real seafood. It is also the hardest thing for anyone to get past. I love these and wish we had them more often. Good luck and you might as well give it a try, what do you have to lose?

Sushi Rice

1/3 c. vinegar
5 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. salt
4 c. Japanese rice
4 c. water

Heat vinegar, sugar, and salt in a pot on the stove over medium heat until everything has dissolved. Let cool.

Rinse rice several times. Then let drain 30 minutes in a strainer. Put rice and water in rice cooker and let sit (not cooking) for 15 minutes. Cook the rice. If you don't have a rice cooker use this link to help walk you through cooking it on the stove, but make sure you use the same amount of water and rice as called for on in this recipe. (I have not tried this method since I have always used a rice cooker, so I hope it works.)

Put cooked rice and vinegar solution in a big wooden bowl (I don't have one so I always use a cookie sheet and it turns out fine). Use a rice paddle or some similar device like a spatula or large spoon to carefully use a cutting motion and stir rice and vinegar. Continuously stop and fan it to help cool. Or if you are lucky to have someone help you, you can have someone fan while you cut and stir. Once rice has cooled to room temperature it is ready.

Scrambled Eggs
2 eggs
1 tsp. sugar

In a bowl beat eggs with sugar. Heat a small frying pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray over medium heat. When hot pour eggs in it. Let it cook without stirring. If air bubbles form you may break them, but make sure some of the raw eggs fill the hole. Once the egg is set, use a spatula and flip it to the other side to cook all the way through. After it is cooked and cooled, cut the eggs into strips the same size as your carrots and cucumbers.

California Roll

Nori (seaweed sheets)
Sushi rice
Cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into long strips
Steamed Carrots, cut into strips (you want it to still have some bit to it)
Scrambled eggs

Lay out a sheet of nori shiny side down, horizontally, on a bamboo mat (I'm sure you can just do it on the counter if you don't have one, but the mat does help roll it). Spread out a thin layer of sushi rice on the nori. In the middle lay the cucumber, carrots, and eggs so you have some all the way across. Take the edge closest to you, bring it up and roll it over the eggs, cucumber, and carrots and continue to roll tightly until it is all rolled up. If you aren't eating it right away wrap it in plastic wrap, or you can cut it and put it in tubberware and put it in the fridge.

Cheese on a Plate

That's right I said it. I said, "cheese on a plate". The delectable amazing gooey mess pulled out of the microwave. For those of you that don't know, I love cheese. There isn't a cheese that I have meet that I didn't like. I am always looking for ways to try new cheeses. If I had more money, a little more time, and there was a few places close to me that made it, I would buy a lot more cheese then I do.

When I am in Seattle I love to go to a little hole in the wall pub and order a chicken blue cheese burger. Next time I am there I will give you a review with pictures. Oh, I could go for one right now. My close friends have thought about starting a fondue restaurant. I would love them to follow that dream. If only so I could show up and try all the amazing cheeses they would put out for me. On many occasions I have asked for cheese as presents from my beautiful wife. My passion for cheese does run deep.

As a tribute to a good friend I am posting his recipe tonight. So here you go, Cheese on a plate.

1 chunk of cheese
1 plate
1 microwave

Put cheese on plate and put in microwave tell gooey. Cooking time may very depending on the cheese. Through much trial and error a porcelain plate works best.

Call me crazy

I hate shopping (any kind), but I love to find a good deal.

Things haven't always been easy around here when it comes to money. Without getting into too much detail, money used to be super tight around here, and I think that is making it sound glamorous. Things have improved recently (they aren't perfect, but they are good), and we count our blessing for that.

When we were struggling, I had a minimal food budget, but when I think about all those years of struggling, I don't feel like we sacrificed tons when it came to food. We didn't indulge in things that weren't needed but most of the time we ate pretty decent food, and I don't remember having to live on top ramen (although I don't have a great memory, and when you are going through hard times you try not to focus on things like that, so maybe the hubby might chime in remind me that things aren't quiet like I remember them.) I did my best to make the most of my food budget, and waiting until things were on sale to buy them. I felt like I did pretty good.

Now that I have more money to work with when it comes to my food budget, I still love finding a great deal and saving money and spending as little as possible. For our family of 5 I typically spend $50 a week on food. I plan our meals based on what I have in my food storage, in my freezer, and what's on sale at the store.
With the economy the way it is, every one can make their food expenses lower just by planning ahead and not eating out as often. After all, who doesn't want to save money? I DO!

One of the things I think will probably be shared by me on Wednesday is deals I've found or ways to save. And if anyone has any of their own ideas or deals, I'd love to hear them. I don't feel like I'm an expert, and always love to learn new things from others.

"Healthy" Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

These cookies are divine. We where sitting around one night about a week a go talking about this blog and the things we wanted to do with it. Then the idea of making cookies came up. We didn't have an oatmeal raisin cookie recipes on hand so we hit the internet. Which is where we found this gem. The reviews where really mixed. With most people complaining that they were not sweet enough. It isn't your traditional cookie and it isn't all the sweat. But with a the few additions we have put in, like brown sugar. I would say it is one of the greatest oatmeal cookies we have come across and it uses up our great storage of apple butter. It also doesn't hurt that they are a little on the healthy side. Its a Win/Win in my book. I hope you enjoy them as much as we have.

3 c. oatmeal
1 c. raisins
1 c. water
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. apple butter
2 eggs
1/4 c. oil
1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. flour
1 c. wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375.
Put oatmeal on a cookie sheet and toast for 15 minutes. Meanwhile put raisins and water in a pot and bring to a low simmer and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain off the water, and let the raisins cool along with the oats after they get out of the oven. Mix together brown sugar, sugar, apple butter, eggs, oil, and vanilla for 5 minutes. Sift together flour, wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Add dry ingredients to the wet. Stir in oatmeal and raisins. Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough on a greased cookie sheet. Bake cookies at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

Originally posted on "The Food Network" - Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. We have modified it somewhat.

The Dry Ingredients:

Should look like this after mixing:

Onto the cookie sheet:

It an't paridise every night.

Around here Erin does a great job of stretching our budget. She is always finding little things to do in order to save us money. From coupons to just using things in ways you wouldn't think. Like zucchini in brownies. Healthy and yummy. One of her greatest ways she saves us money is she plans. She is always trying to figure out what things she can make with the sales that are going on. It's an art. Like writing a great piano concerto in dinners.

In her list of dinner is always a few nights for left overs. These nights are my least favorite. You might be wondering how I could not love those nights. We have amazing food all the time. Who wouldn't want to eat it a second night right? I must be crazy. Well I am a little crazy and all geek. You have to understand that I also eat the food each day for lunch. So on a days like the last few which had a left over nigh, if you don't include breakfast I ate the same meal for three days. No matter how good that food can be three days can get old. I like variety. It has taken me a long time to get to where I will even eat the left overs the next day. (Remember geeky and crazy...) Now don't go thinking that Erin makes me eat the same thing everyday. That is just me. I could easily have grabbed the food from two nights before the three nights before. It is a choice. I'm no complaining. My wife is beyond amazing and does things with food and money that very few people anywhere can do. So thanks love. You are a great wife and mom.

Then nights like tonight happen. The nights that as parents you wonder where you went wrong raising your kids. That you think it can only get better right?

"In my house it is good to try new things."
"Three bits chewed and swallowed."
"It will be there when you are hungry later."
"You can't have more juice until you have five more bits."

Those are things we say in my house. You might say things like that also. But it is an attempt to keep our kids eating new things. It is to cut down on the amount of work the person making dinner has to do. If you can just make one meal for everyone you are going to save time. But tonight we added a new saying in our house:

"That's fine, if you don't eat it tonight we will have it for breakfast!"

Now I am not saying it was the right thing to do, or say. I don't know if I would have followed through with it. But in the end the threat was enough to get them to eat more of there food. Our dinner wasn't that bad.

At one time I did catch myself saying, "Your right it is gross, but you can eat it." The laughter that came from Erin really made my night. In the heat of the moment we as parents say some of the dumbest things.

So how do we over come our weakness? I don't have all the answers. But laughter and joy can set the tone for every meal. Keep an open mind and mouth. If you do those things then the same thing can be great every day and when you get a meal that isn't all that stellar you will look on the brighter side. Good luck trying new things. Those are the true pearls that come from cooking.

Who knew it would change my life? (Well almost.)

First off I want to say welcome. I hope that the ride continues for a very long time and you can enjoy every post and minute of the ride with us. I hope you to can walk hand in hand with us on our journey.

So a little background on myself. I am a guy. Lets get that out there. I do my fair share of the cooking around here. I love to cook. I love to cook things out of my garden and cook new things. But is hasn't always really been that way. See that picture down below. It contains what started it all. Can you see it???

All the way in the back you see that tome. Ya in the back. That huge chunk of dead trees. The one that any librarian would be happy to have in the encyclopedia section of there book vault. That book is the Joy of Cooking. If you have never heard of it or don't have it go get it. Go get it now. Stop reading click this link. I'll wait....

Okay you back? Great. That book will tell you everything you ever will need to know about cooking American food. It has done to American cooking what Julia Child did for french cooking. We use that book almost every night in our home. Want to know how to cook dumplings? Page 321. How about Chutneys? Page 63. You get the idea. But guess what. That wasn't it. That is part of my love. It was a present when we got married, and we use it more then almost anything given to us on that great day.

But go look again. See that white bowl in the front. The one with the chip on the rim and a crack just forming in the front and a little to the right. That is really what did it. How could a bowl give me my love of cooking. Well you wouldn't know that because you haven't used it. If you had, you like me would seek opportunities to use it again. Its porcelain and heavy. Right there in the front is a second bottom, an edge you can set it on when your mixing your goods. That is right it has two bottoms!?! One for straight up and one for about 75 degrees. The perfect mixing bowl. I want to use it. I want to use it again and again. When I start cooking I grab it first. I want to make pie (page 856 in JOC) in it. I want to make some Hollandaise sauce (page 55 in JOC) in it. That got me cooking. Strange I know.

When we got married that was given to us. I started using it for simple things. You know, like eating my cold cereal in it or a hand full of screws. But I found I like it, so when Erin needed something mixed I volunteered. So it got me in the kitchen. After that it was easy to keep me there.

So thank you bowl. Thank you. May you continue to make my life happy, I am pretty easy to please.

The Introduction of Us!

We are a married couple, that have been married happily since 2001. Things haven't been perfect, or even what we could have imagined, but we love each other and stand by each other hand in hand. We have three wonderful kids, who we love more than we thought possible. They keep us on our toes and sometimes test our patience, but at the end of the day we wouldn't trade them for anything; they always find some way to melt our hearts. Jeremy is a computer geek by trade and choice. Erin (me) gets to be a stay at home mom. We enjoy cooking and food. We don't consider ourselves to be expert, but are always looking for some new recipe to try. For some crazy reason we decided to start blogging together about food. I hope you enjoy our posts and try some of the recipes we are going to share.
We've committed to posted three days a week, so here is our schedule: Monday's we'll post a recipe that we have made recently. Wednesday's will be a post by Erin on whatever she feels like. And last but not least will be Jeremy's turn on Friday to share his thoughts. Although we might surprise you and post more often, but you can at least expect something Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.