Dinner is served!

Tonight’s menu: Beef Stroganoff over rice (hubby prefers that to egg noodles…but, if you like egg noodles, put it over them!); green beans; homemade biscuits. GIANT homemade biscuits.

I know my neighbor thinks I burned dinner because the smoke detector went off as soon as the oven hit 450 degrees. It happens every single time I go over 400 degrees. Every. Single. Time. Apparently, it’s a heat detector not a smoke detector. It does not detect smoke. I won’t tell you how I know that.

Here’s the link to the recipe for the beef stroganoff. 🙂


Have a great night!



Dinner is served!

Here’s what’s for dinner tonight…easy peasy. With a side of oven-roasted potatoes. 🙂

Homemade Sloppy Joes


  • 1 pound extra lean ground beef or sirloin (or 1/2 pound ground beef and 1/2 pound ground turkey)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. ketchup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. prepared mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Brown ground beef, onion, and bell pepper over medium heat in large skillet; drain well. Stir in ketchup, water, brown sugar, mustard, and garlic powder; mix thoroughly. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and let simmer 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Add salt and pepper and stir.

Dinner was served! (Plus recipe)

Our Version of Outback’s Alice Springs Chicken
Source: http://www.favfamilyrecipes.com
Serving: 4-6
Honey Mustard Marinade:
1 c. Grey Poupon Dijon mustard

1 c. honey

1⁄2 c. mayonnaise

1 tsp. lemon juice
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

2 c. sliced mushrooms (10-12 mushrooms) *I used a small can of organic sliced mushrooms because that’s what I had. I just drained them well before using.

2 Tbsp. butter

salt and pepper

paprika * I totally forgot this!

8 slices bacon cooked

1 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese

2 tsp. finely chopped fresh parsley

(I used Colby Jack cheese.)


Use an electric mixer to combine the mustard, honey, mayonnaise, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Whip the mixture for about 30 seconds. Place chicken in a Ziploc bag and pour in about 1/3 of the marinade. Seal the bag and press out as much air as you can and marinate in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.

Chill the remaining marinade until later. After the chicken has marinated, remove chicken from bag and discard the marinade that it has been soaking in. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and heat an ovenproof frying pan large enough to hold all four breasts and 1 Tbsp. oil over medium heat. (If you don’t have an ovenproof frying pan, transfer the chicken to a baking dish).

Sear the chicken in the pan for 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown. Remove pan from heat but keep chicken in the pan. 
As the chicken is cooking, in a small frying pan saute the mushrooms in the butter. Brush each seared chicken breast with a little of the honey mustard marinade being sure to save a little extra that you can serve on the side later with the dish.

Season the chicken with salt, pepper and paprika ( I am usually pretty generous with the paprika, I love the flavor). **Again…left this out, though I wouldn’t have been generous. 🙂
Stack two pieces of cooked bacon, crosswise on each chicken breast. Spoon the sauteed mushrooms onto the bacon, being sure to coat each breast evenly. Sprinkle 1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese evenly onto each breast followed by 1/4 cup of cheddar.
Bake the pan of prepared chicken breasts for 7-10 minutes or until cheese is thoroughly melted and starting to bubble. Sprinkle each breast with 1/2 teaspoon parsley before serving. Put extra honey mustard marinade into a small bowl to serve on the side.

Dinner was served! (Recipe included!)

This was what was for dinner last night. It was great for a quick meal since I had church/work and small group yesterday. I did make some substitutions/changes so I didn’t really have eight cans, but it was yummy!

“8 Can Taco Soup”

Source: http://www.highheelsandgrills.com

Serving: 8


1 (15 oz.) can black beans drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes drained*
1 (15.25 oz.) can sweet corn drained*
1 (12.5 oz.) can white chicken breast drained*
1 (10.75 oz.) can cream of chicken soup*
1 (10 oz.) can green enchilada sauce
1 (14 oz.) can chicken broth
1 packet taco seasoning*


Mix all ingredients together in a large pot.
Heat until warm, stirring occasionally.
Serve with tortilla chips.

  • *I totally forgot to drain the tomatoes; it was fine.
    *I cooked a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and diced them rather than using canned chicken.
  • *I used frozen corn.
    *I usually make my own cream of chicken soup but I didn’t have time and I had a can, so…
    *I made my own taco seasoning mix.

Serve topped with grated cheese (I used Colby Jack) and a dollop of sour cream. (Thanks, Darya!) Cornbread muffins or tortillas chips…or both! 🙂

Also, I made this on the stove top, but I’m guessing it would do in the slow cooker. We’ll find out next time.


What’s cooking today?

This is what’s cooking in the Crock Pot today. Recipe from the Betty Crocker website.

Smelling yummy!

Slow Cooker Bacon Ranch Chicken


  • 1 lb chicken breasts
  • 6 slices bacon cooked and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 package (1 oz) ranch dressing and seasoning mix
  • 1 can (10.75 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 12 teaspoon pepper
  • 12 cup water
  • 8 oz spaghetti cooked


1 Spray 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray; place chicken breasts in cooker.

2 In medium bowl, mix remaining ingredients except spaghetti. Pour over top of chicken.

3 Cover; cook on Low heat setting 6 hours or on High heat setting 3 to 4 hours.

4 When about 15 minutes are left, cook and drain spaghetti as directed on package.

5 Just before serving, shred chicken with 2 forks, and toss creamy chicken mixture with cooked spaghetti.

Introducing: The Schedule


1. a plan of procedure, usually written, for a proposed objective,especially with reference to the sequence of and time allotted for each item or operation necessary to its completion;
2. a series of things to be done or of events to occur at or during particular time or period;
3. a timetable.
Synonyms: agenda, itinerary, lineup, list, docket, order of business
Antonym: DISORGANIZATION (Preach!!!)
I know some people don’t like the idea of having a schedule.
  • It’s too constricting.
  • It leaves me no freedom.
  • I like to be spontaneous.
  • I’d rather just fly by the seat of my pants.
WHY? A schedule is the opposite of constricting – at least for me. A schedule gives me a sense of peace. Please note that the schedule is written on a piece of paper. It has not been carved in stone. Please also note that the schedule is not full. There are empty spots. Free spots. Room for spontaneity. Room for fun. Room for rest. Room for a nap!! 🙂
And though the schedule does have times on it, most of them are pretty flexible. Unless it is a set appointment (like with the trainer at the gym at 8:30 on Wednesday mornings), most things can be moved around. I think of the schedule as more of a guideline…a general idea of how the days should flow if I want to get things done and not feel overwhelmed. It can also serve as a wake up call. If there are no empty spaces at all, busyness has taken hold of you and you have lost your margin…your free space is gone.
Now, I have two adult children and work part-time outside the home. When I worked full-time, the schedule looked a lot different. When I homeschooled those two now-adult children, it looked different. Everyone’s schedule will look different from yours. And that’s okay. It’s more than okay.
And some days, nothing on the schedule happens like it should. Nothing. That’s also okay. Probably very stressful, but okay. But if you generally keep a schedule and stick to it most days, one day will not throw you into a downward spiral toward total disarray and disorganization. You just get up the next morning and start over.
See that antonym for schedule at the top there? Disorganization. Know what the synonyms for disorganization are? Chaos. Confusion. Disarray. Disorder. Disruption. And my personal favorite: unholy mess. Who wants THAT? Not me!
I have my schedule. I have a chore chart. I use the Daily Docket which is a “to do” list. I try not to do chores on Saturday because my main work day is Sunday and I like to rest up. I usually don’t do laundry on Saturdays. Unless it was raining on Friday and is sunny on Saturday and I can hang my sheets outside.:) Some weeks things don’t go as planned and I spend the whole day Saturday doing laundry and other chores. Then I’m tired. And grumpy. And I drink excessive amounts of coffee. (Excessive even for me!)
If you work full-time, Saturday may be your laundry day. But if you can find a way to do it during the week, do. When I worked full-time and had two under the age of three and a half, I threw a load in before I went to bed at night, then put the load in the dryer when I got up and let them dry while we got ready for the day. Then I folded them after dinner. You have to do what works for you.
Every couple of months, I’ll spend part of a Saturday deep cleaning a particular room. Vacuuming blinds. Wiping down window sills and baseboards. Washing curtains. The things you don’t get to every week and really don’t need to. Occasionally, when Hubby works day shift on the weekend, I’ll have one day of a great cleaning frenzy. He usually comes home to rearranged furniture on those days. 🙂
The point is that everyone needs some sort of “outline” of their days. Some people account for every single minute. Some people just need a list that has five things that just need to get done that day, not in any particular order or timeframe. What works for you is what’s right for you.
When I started working on this new schedule a few weeks ago, I didn’t realize how much I’d missed having one. I had gotten out of the habit and I felt out of control. I was tired. I was grumpy. I was drinking excessive amounts of coffee. Then I sat down and started looking at this…at what matters to me and what I need to get done. I can’t tell you how many schedules I wrote and tossed. Lots. I really, really had to think hard about it. And these pictures show what I ended up with.
The schedule. http://highland.hitcho.com.au/schedule.pdf
The chore chart. http://highland.hitcho.com.au/householdchores.pdf
 Chore Chart pic
The Daily Docket. http://theartofsimple.net/downloads02/
 Daily Docket pic
So here’s my challenge to you. I’ve given you the links to the schedule, the chore chart, and the Daily Docket that I use. You can Google or go on Pinterest and find many (many, many, many) more options. Find one you like. Take some time to think about it. Write down a list of your priorities, absolute must dos (like go to work!), and things you’d like to do. Make several copies of it or write in pencil.  Then make yourself a schedule. You can make your kids a schedule.
When you’ve gotten one on paper, share it with us in the comments. Or you can join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Simplify2013?fref=ts. You should join us there anyway. 🙂
I look forward to seeing what you come up with!
(whose schedule indicates that it’s about bedtime!)

Meal Plan for the Week

A few days ago, I posted a picture of the schedule that I have been working on for myself. I’ll share more about that tomorrow and include a challenge for you – yay! (Did you know that “schedule” is NOT a four-letter word? I think many people feel that way about one. But more on that tomorrow!)

So today – according to my new schedule – is menu planning day. I set aside an hour for that, but it took a little less than that to plan and prepare a grocery list. I took a quick “inventory” of my pantry and freezer before I made this meal plan and list. I mean, why spend money if you don’t have to, right?

Thursday is payday and that’s when I get my grocery money for the week. I budget $100 – $125, depending on whether I need money for the Fresh Market’s $2.99 Tuesday meat sale that week. My plan is to do my grocery shopping early on Friday morning right after my morning walk. (I walk at 6:30 am; you get to see amazing sunrises if you do that!) This is a test to see if that’s a better time to shop. Friday afternoon…definitely NOT! If Friday mornings aren’t it either, then I’ll try another day.

Anyway, here’s what’s on the dinner menu for Thursday – Wednesday.

*Thursday – Leftovers (always – Mama needs a night off!)

*Friday – Slow Cooker Bacon Ranch Chicken, Pasta, Broccoli or Cabbage (or both!)

*Saturday – Taco Soup, Tortilla Chips, CHEESE (and a dollop of sour cream for me!)

*Sunday – Baked Spaghetti, Corn on the Cob, Bread/Rolls (Since Sunday is a work day for me, I’ll prep the baked spaghetti on Saturday so it will just need to be popped in the oven and cooked on Sunday)

*Monday – Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower Soup, Cornbread Muffins

*Tuesday – “Alice Springs Chicken” (like at Outback), Mashed Potatoes (w/ garlic & herb butter), Peas or Green Beans

*Wednesday – Slow Cooker Smothered Pork Chops, Rice, Roasted Veggies (cauliflower, carrots, butternut squash)

We eat leftovers or sandwiches for lunches. Thursday nights are basically for cleaning out the fridge. If there are leftovers after leftover night, I will usually freeze them in individual serving sizes for something quick for lunch or when the plan doesn’t work out. (By the way, it doesn’t always work out.)

Breakfasts are pretty much an “on your own” kind of deal around here. If I’m feeling particularly kind, I’ll make breakfast on Saturday. I have been making breakfast muffins for the week that can be microwaved or put in the toaster oven and heated. Hubby leaves for work at 4:30 in the morning. I love him, but I’m not likely to get up and fix him breakfast. Sorry. He’s not a big breakfast eater, anyway, so I hope his feelings aren’t hurt. smile emoticon

I use an online meal planner, but really all you need to do is sit down with a couple of cookbooks or cooking magazines (not your entire collection), your calendar (so you can see what days are your busiest), and a piece of paper. Oh, and a pen or pencil!
Be sure to include at least one night for leftovers if your family will eat them. You can see that I use my Crock-Pot Slow Cooker as often as possible! Best kitchen appliance ever. Ever, I say! On those busiest of days, it’s awfully nice to walk into a great smelling house with dinner simmering away.

crock pots

If you’ve never meal planned before or if you’re not used to cooking at home, plan 4-5 simple meals, a leftover night, and a night to eat out/carry out. Start with what you feel you can REALLY accomplish and go from there. Don’t plan seven elaborate meals and then feel disappointed in yourself and give up. Please. Pretty please.

Cooking from scratch really isn’t hard…and it’s easier on the pocket book than eating out. And easier on the body that processed, pre-made foods. (Though there are days when that’s just what happens and it’s okay.) Having a couple of hours on Saturday or Sunday afternoon to do a little prepping (chopping veggies, mixing marinades, etc.) also helps reduce stress during the week.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! I’d love to help you with your meal planning!