Friday, December 31, 2010

Freezer Friday!

freezerfridaysm Remember my last post on Tuesday about my Freezer Cooking ambitions for the week?  Here's the breakdown of what's back in my freezer so that I can defrost & heat for the next five weeks, instead of cooking.

- 24 Ham & Cheese Rolls (The recipe is coming!)

-2 Pans of Ravioli Alfredo with Broccoli & Grilled Chicken

- 2 Pans of Chicken Stuffing Casserole

- 2 containers of Chili (for Chili Dogs later)

- 4 containers of Butternut Mashed Potatoes

The added bonus is that the only grocery shopping I have to do this month will be for produce, milk and eggs.  What a great way to start off the new year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Menu Planning Madness!

When I made my December menu, I had only planned through Christmas and then New Year's Day with a big honkin' gap in between.  As much as I would like to go on kitchen strike for the next five days, that's not realistic.  Then I looked at the calendar and realized that I needed to top out the freezer with ready to cook meals for January since my time will be dedicated to ventures other than cooking.  So, there went my delusion dream of a kitchen break.

frzplsSo instead I will be combining my freezer cooking with a "clean out the freezer/pantry" challenge, similar to last year's challenge.  I worked to find dishes that will freeze well and use up stuff I already have on hand.  I was given  Taste of Home: Freezer Pleasers for Christmas which was very helpful with some new meal ideas to mix things up a bit (great index by ingredient!).

Christmas Ham remainders were repurposed to soup and Ham & Cheese Rolls that made it to the freezer.  I'm really looking forward to the rolls  as they are similar to a hot pocket and will go great with soups!

I will be cooking up a chicken which we will have for dinner and then will be used to make double batches of Chicken Stuffing Casserole and Chicken Potato Casserole and broth.   I also plan to pull some grilled chicken from the freezer and make Ravioli Alfredo with grilled chicken and broccoli to go to the freezer.

Also on the planning board is Beef Stroganoff and Chili.  Check in for Freezer Friday to see how far I get! (Oh, and for New Years Day on Saturday, there's a large pork roast who's travel plans include a stay in my slowcooker, a meet-up with homemade rolls & homemade BBQ sauce and then the freezer)

I'm hoping with a little extra work this week, my freezer will be stocked with meals, instead of ingredients, and I'll be done cooking for the next month!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Little Star

little star Little Star by Anthony DeStefano  is a charming story of Christ's Birth, as recounted by a father to son.  The age old story is told with a twist: it is from the perspective of the stars in the night sky.

There is a lot going on in this short little story.  You have a parent retelling the Christmas story in a new light, but in symbolism, one can also see story of redemption through Christs death and the true gift of life everlasting.  All these threads are woven together into a great tale of determination by a little star to shine out for what he believes in.

I was captured by the illustrations by Mark Elliot.  Mary and Joseph are portrayed as very young people, which they were.  The characterization of the faces in the celestial bodies are well done to show the emotions written into the text.

Overall, it's a wonderful book to share the true gift of Christmas with your child, young and old alike.

I received a complementary copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday Sunshine

sunflower Practicing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

It is Sunday night and my brain is fuzzy - so this post may be a bit scattered.  One of the biggest blessings of this week was the arrival and installation of my new washer and getting caught up on laundry.  One emergency load of laundry ended up turning into an impromptu gathering with friends - it was fun to catch up.

Christmas eve was spent with family and friends and Christmas day was blessedly low key.  Although GBaby was pretty sick, it was fun to watch her eyes light up when she found a gift that was on the hearth, unpackaged and not wrapped.  I also loved watching her enjoy the simple toys and basic play, in the midst of all the lights and noise that came with some of the other gifts.  Christmas was pure with GBaby this year.  Delight in new things to play with, but no hint of the "gimmes" or "mines".  There are even still gifts on the hearth -once she wore out, she didn't have the desire to explore any further.  So we left them for now.  Theres 11 more days of Christmas, right?

Saturday night finally brought a break in a fever that GBaby had been fighting since Thursday and again I'm thankful for the guy who said "lets give people this obscure mold and watch them get better".  Ammoxicillian, ibuprofen and tylenol are great.

Tonight as a tired me reached the end of my nice-mom rope, I'm glad that HandyMan was willing to be home and take over the parenting so that I can have some space to work on regaining some patience.

As the Christmas season continues, I'm so thankful for all that we have: food on the table, warm house and bills paid.  I hope you can find a moment to remember the blessings found in the little things this week.

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

nativity Merry Christmas!

About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire.  Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David's town, for the census. He went with Mary, his fiancĂ©e, who was pregnant.

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.
There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

From Luke 2 (The Message)

May you find peace, love and hope this Christmas and cherish the gift of family!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Simple Christmas Menu

SweetStashI love the week(s) surrounding Christmas and New Years because usually they are filled with family and friends and a break from the normal routines.  This year, I keeping the menus simple so that I can enjoy GBaby's Christmas adventure and the friends and family who will be crossing our threshold.

We're joining friends for an early dinner on Christmas Eve before the service at church.  When we get home, I'll have cheese and crackers, fruit and goodies to snack on with a glass of wine (probably while I finish wrapping gifts!)

Christmas morning will bring a "normal" breakfast for us: scrambled eggs and biscuits or some other such meal of ease.

At our house this year, Christmas Dinner will be a mid-afternoon affair: a small gathering. I picked mid afternoon for a couple reasons.  First, I really enjoy having a large meal midday instead of in the evening.  Second, I can cook in peace while GBaby naps!

Up on the dinner menu: Honey Baked Ham (ordered by Mom-In-Law and delivered to my door- Thanks!), a variation on these Acorn Squash Bowls , homemade Parker House Rolls and asparagus.  A friend who's coming is bringing a pineapple-jello type salad.  For dessert: more goodies from the never ending Sweet Stash hiding on my freezer!

I'm getting hungry and can't wait!  I'm also percolating my New Year's Menu - check in next week for that yummy-ness!

Linked up at Life As Mom's Ultimate Recipe Swap: Christmas Dinner

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

9 Years Ago...

Nine years ago, I set out on a journey as I walked down that church aisle.  At the end of the short walk down the aisle, I fell in beside my best friend and oh the places we've walked since.

Louvre. . . freshman dorms a I finished my tenure as a Residence Hall Director  . . . around camp as we transitioned to our next season . . . Pasadena, CA . . . hard work, long hours and wonderful friends . . . a completed MDiv and PHT (Putting Him Through) . . . to the hills, the open arms of camp once again to clear the LA smog . . . my cancer. . . around the world . . . along beaches with sea-lions in New Zealand . . . along the city streets of Prague, Sydney, Paris, Dublin, Venice, Berlin, Krakow and Oslo and the small villages along the way. . . a small town in NY . . .a home for your gifts . . . our first house. . . starting my business . . . your soccer coaching . . . our daughter. . . my clean bill of health . . .

. . . So many places the road has taken us the last 9 years.  I can't wait to see where we will go in the next nine!  Happy Anniversary HandyMan!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Sunshine: Christmas is In the Air

DSC04507 Practicing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

Christmas is right around the corner and I am so blessed to be surrounded by a loving community and looking forward to time with family.  I am cherishing the wonderful simplicity that is Christmas in our home this year, and am enjoying the giving of the season.  (I have lots of cookies & goodies - anyone want some?)  Like everyone else, our calendar has been jammed with activity, but I've been able to hold to the peace of the season, and for that I'm grateful.

This week has brought less leisure computer time [read: less blogging] and more time with friends in celebration of the Christmas season, more baking, and more time crafting and playing with GBaby.   We had a fun play-date/cookie decorating morning with friends this week as well as a grown-up evening out.

I'm grateful for the "neighborly kindness" of friends who have let me run laundry through their washers and am thankful for my new washer-wherever it may be!

I took Charity's Candles out for a fundraiser on Saturday and did well for everyone.  I've started a new job and am loving the technical challenges that it is giving me to work my brain and trouble-shoot outside the daily stuff.

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cooking Up Family Memories

Many family memories are often centered around food.  I spent the morning cooking up some recipes that have been handed down through my mom and thinking about my grandparents: two who have been gone for a number of years and two who live halfway across the country from me.  (I cheated and found similar or identical recipes on my favorite recipe site and linked them through.)

famgoodies1Peanut brittle always makes me think of my dad's Dad - my Grandpa George.  Every Christmas, peanut brittle was his trademark treat and he had a microwave recipe that was awesome.  I remember one Christmas when I was in high school, making this recipe with my dad in the kitchen of our house, finagling the hot syrup and putting the cookie sheets in the garage to set.  After that my mind wanders to playing cards with my Grandpa, learning how to drive in his little red Dodge Shadow and a particular "kid in the candy-store" moment when he was told that we had frozen yogurt on hand for his dessert.  Peanut brittle also makes me think of my Grandpa Bud - he always has a jar of peanuts between the front seats in his car.  He's always tinkering and we've played a fair number of card games with him too.

famgoodies3Peanut Butter Balls and another treat called Frying Pan cookies were a Christmas favorite that my mom would make from recipes that her mom handed down to her.  Grandma Jean would send us a package at Christmas complete with homemade jam, lefse, and other goodies.  Grandma's jam and jellies were always the best and we looked forward to them all year!  When we visit Grandma, everyone takes a break from activities for coffee and a treat in the morning.  For us kids it was usually cookies and milk.  Grandma's health doesn't allow her to cook so much any more, but what goes around comes around and I'm looking forward to sending off a box of goodies for her and Grandpa Bud this week.

famgoodies2I remember the feasts that would accompany the holidays at my Grandma Foy's house.  She would make pies by the dozen and they would all be lined up on the pass-through between the kitchen and dining room.  In the back room you could find the tins that were packed with fudge and cookies.  I'm sure there was turkey or ham or other healthy foods, but that's not what my childhood memory held on to.  (Oh, except for Grandpa George's chili and he always had some around with hot dogs for us.)  I remember Grandma teaching me how to crochet and summer days in their back yard.

So many generations are often represented in our traditional Christmas goodies.  Make sure you take a moment and share these memories with your children and loved ones this Christmas season.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Sunshine: Silver Lining

27245042207_ORIGPracticing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

This has been a week in which the silver lining has just obliterated the clouds that have tried to come our way.  A crunched car door has resulted in a super speedy insurance payout. A dead washer has resulted in an early Christmas/Birthday present for Handyman and me, leaving our money in the savings account for when the next major appliance decides to go off to the Great Recycling Center.

I think I may have mentioned before how much I adore Christmas lights. I had an after-dark drive home last night and there were Christmas lights all over the country-side drive between a neighboring town and home.  I see a glow ahead and turn a corner to see a house all lit up with little twinkling lights.  Sometimes white, sometimes multi-colored but always brightening the dark evening sky.  Love it!

I had a peaceful, early morning on Friday.  Usually I sleep in until  GBaby wakes up and then stay up later after she goes to bed to get stuff done.  Friday, I woke up early and couldn't go back to sleep.  So I had some alone-baking-time, and quiet work/blog/organize my world time in front of the fireplace before the rest of the house woke up.  As nice as it was, I know myself and to enjoy it when my body wakes me up for it - it's never as fun when I try to wake myself up early to get a jump on things.

I've found myself in a rather lackadaisical state this week.  While that can also be read as "unmotivated", it's been a pretty relaxing/go-with-it type of week.  I think it's going to hit me in about 48 hours that Christmas is less than two weeks away and I have gifts to ship and cards to get in the mail and baking ... and... and...  But for now - eh, whatever.

May you escape to a lackadaisical moment in the coming week, and appreciate the fun, lights and family as we approach Christmas!

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Advent Calendar

Last week I shared a hint of the Advent Calendar project that has taken up much of my spare time recently.  I started with this amazing pattern over at ShannonMakesStuff.  While the pattern is intended to make a Christmas tree background and ornament advent calendar, I've adapted it to fit our home, budget, and storage space.  Instead of the Christmas tree background, I've strung the ornaments on ribbon along our mantle.  Instead of felt, I've used paper and Mod Podge.   The project is a bit less than half way done.  Here are some pictures of how it's turned out:

[gallery columns="2" orderby="title"]

This post is linked up at Life As Mom's Frugal Friday and Amy's Finer Things Friday.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Best Made Plans: December Freezer Cooking

I made a great freezer cooking plan last week.  I was going to go shopping on Friday and then be off and cooking for the weekend.  It was a great plan, and then life happened.  Very early morning, grumpy toddler, and a lost grocery list started Friday off.  Finding that someone had hit my car and the following paper work finished out Friday in the late hours of Friday evening.

Motivation on Saturday was slim, but I did manage to get some of my list done. Easy Sugar Cookies and Molasses Cookies are in the freezer.  I got my three batches of beans cooked up, measured and to the freezer yesterday.  I also got two taco-bakes to the freezer.  The rest of the list will wait until another day.  There's always later.

I'm with LifeAsMom: January will be a Pantry/Freezer challenge month.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday Sunshine: First Snow

27241113550_ORIGPracticing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

Today, I woke up to the sounds of the first "real" snow: the snow plow.  It really wasn't much - maybe an inch - but G had fun exploring the weird, cold white stuff that stuck to her shoes.  Now as I sit in front of a raging fire in the pellet stove, I appreciate the quiet of the afternoon.

I'm so glad to be well from the bug caught me last Sunday and kicked me in the pants for three days.  A full night's sleep last night was great too!

Friday I was invited to a Ladies' Christmas Dinner held at a local church which was amazing.  Decorations were beautiful, company was great and it was a wonderful time of soaking in the peace and joy that surround the True Meaning of Christmas.

This time of year, I'm always blessed to see generosity extended to meet the needs of others in the community.  It's always amazing to see what a small group of dedicated, thoughtful people can make happen!

Finally, today was especially blessed by the willing hands of friends to help out.  While I was busy with one project, others were chasing after my daughter, and another was fixing the door to my car so that it would open and close properly.  Yet another reminder to me that we're not meant to go it alone in this world.

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Freezer Friday: Stashing Christmas Goodies

christmasstorageBetween now and Christmas, most households will bake more than they do at any other point in the year.  I'm sure none of this comes as a surprise as images of fudge, cookies, candy and family favorites dance in your heads!

Baking really can be a lot of work: mixing, baking, clean-up, repeat.  If you bake smart and store safely, you can take a lot of the chore out of baking, and just enjoy the results.  Here are a few tips to take the stress out of baking this Christmas.

Smart Storage

The best way to keep your goodies fresh is to bake them as freshly as possible.  Air and moisture are the enemy of most baked goods.  Air tight containers, plastic wrap and zip-top bags are your best defense against stale goodies.  In some cases, you may want to double your defenses.


Cookies can be a real pain in the neck and keep you tied to the oven for hours on end.  However, if you scoop and freeze your favorite cookie dough, you can have fresh cookies on hand in about five minutes longer than your baking time, whenever you need them.   Sugar cookies can be made, rolled and frozen on a quiet evening, and then baked and decorated with half the mess later.  Slice-type cookies, like my Coconut Fudge Cookies, can also be a wonderful time saver as the "logs" of cookie dough can be frozen ahead of time.  Thaw, slice, bake and you're ready to go.  Just remember to wrap cookie dough logs in plastic wrap tightly and then store in a freezer zip-top bag to keep them fresh.  Cookie dough balls can be frozen on a cookie sheet and then placed in an airtight container or zip-top bag once they're hard.  I layer my cut-out sugar cookies between wax paper in an air-tight container.  Your darling child forgot to tell you that they need a dozen cookies for a party on Saturday, no problem.  An impromptu gathering and you need to bring something to share, no problem.  Sugar craving after a day of shopping, no problem!


Fudge is also a great prep-ahead goody.  Prepare it as you normally would, but do not cut it.  Remove it from the pan in as large of pieces as you can and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and then in a freezer zip top bag.  Fudge can be refrigerated happily for about three weeks.  For longer storage, put it in the freezer but allow it to thaw as slowly as possible before cutting.


Many candies can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator or in air tight containers.  Brittles and Peanut Butter Balls are two that come to mind that our family loves.  Most can be made weeks in advance, and stay very fresh with the proper protection.

With a little planning, you can bake in peace and fully enjoy your Christmas!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

December Batch Cooking

(photo credit)

December is here and around here, that means baking and stashing.  This Christmas I'm bringing back some of the candies my grandparents made and some goodies that bring back so many memories!  Here are a few of the things on my batch cooking list for the beginning of this month.  Stay tuned for more recipes as the month goes on!

-Grandpa George's Peanut Brittle

-Grandma Foy's Fudge

-Grandma Jean's Molasses Cookies

-Easy Sugar Cookies

-Reduced Sugar Strawberry Spread

-Cranberry Orange Scones

It's also time to restock the freezer of beans so I will be cooking up white, pinto and black beans.  The Cowboy Beans from September's batch cooking were a hit so I'll be making up more of those and Burrito Bakes (everything you like in a burrito, layered between tortillas lasagna style and topped with lettuce, salsa and sour cream).

On the breakfast front it's time to make up more Drop Biscuit Mixes and oatmeal packets.

Friday will be grocery day (while one batch of beans are in the crock pot!) and then I have my work cut out for me on Saturday and Sunday, but hopefully it will lend itself to a bit of ease later this month!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What I'm Working On. . .

advent The liturgical season of Advent began on Sunday.  This is a season of waiting and anticipation of the arrival of Christ on Christmas.

As a child I have vague memories of opening little paper doors on a glittery display as we counted down the days until Christmas.  This year I am working on our advent calendar.  I'm making a variation of this advent calendar and so far (I have two days done) it's looking pretty good!  Instead of felt, I'm using paper and mod-podge.  So, with Advent and the anticipation and preparation for Christmas underway, some of my creative juices are heading towards projects rather than blogging... I'm sure you understand!

I will post the project when I'm a little farther along.  In the meantime, if you have an older child -one that can handle scissors, intricate patterns and glue- you may want to print this out and enlarge it as a great craft project during the advent season.  I particularly like that it incorporates all of the symbols of the Christmas Season and ties them back to the True meaning for Christmas.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Sunshine: A Happy Statistic

sunflower Practicing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

This week was filled with joyful thankfulness!  We safely traveled to be with friends for Thanksgiving - such fun to gather from across the country to share a holiday.  Because of change of services, we were able to sneak a way for two nights and spend Thursday completely with friends (instead of in-transit).

The biggest joy of this week (and I think of the year) is that I was officially discharged from my oncologist on Wednesday. This marks 5 years free of cancer and cured as far as their records go!  Even with catching the 24-hour bug going around, I'm still so thankful for my health and to be part of a "good" statistic!

After that, everything else seems so minuscule - but I am thankful for a few online deals I caught and a few things I was able to unload on ebay.  G and I watched the first snow showers of the winter on Saturday, and watching her fascination was great.   G has been fairly cooperative with my "sick day" today.

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving

This week, I hope everyone will be able to enjoy their family and friends and recognize the blessing amidst the chaos of the holiday.  I'll be taking a break from blogging this week enjoy my family, my friends and my health.  I hope you'll take a break, and do the same.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Sunshine

sunflowerPracticing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

Ahhh... the normalcy of sitting down on a Sunday afternoon to write my Sunday Sunshine post.  It seems like it's been a while - I guess it really hasn't.  I'm happy to say that after my systems failure of earlier this week, things began to come together and I'm starting to have a better feel of which way is up.

I'm thankful for deals - especially JCPenney who gave me $20 this week and Shutterfly who has given me our almost free Christmas cards.  It really is the little things that bring life back inside the budget when it starts to stretch!

On Saturday Gramma B came to stay with GBaby as HandyMan and I both had to work.  It's not often that our schedules collide as horribly as they did on Saturday, but it's great to have family close enough by to bail us out!  I had a craft fair on Saturday that went well:  good crowd, minimal clock watching and moderate sales.

GBaby continues to babble around the house, and occasionally she's blurt out a sentence that's understandable amidst the babble.  This morning was one of those moments.  Since most of her chatter sounds like she's trying to talk around a mouth full of marbles, it took her saying twice for me to realize that she was saying "Bye, bye, love you" as she waved out the door at Daddy as he was leaving for work.

Warm brownies on chilly afternoons and hot chocolate with marshmallows were also bright spots in my week.

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

HV Fudge Brownies

I know, I know - why mess with a good thing, right?  I have to say, I had some horrid less than successful experiments with this recipe before I got to this version.  Too dry, too fudge-y (yes, it is possible), too yuk.  Are you getting the picture that I'm a bit particular about my brownies?

So, after much experimentation, I'm happy to share with you this Fudge Brownie recipe that has taken into account a few healthy alterations.

HV Fudge Brownies

1/4 cup Canola Oil

3/4 cup Sugar

1/4 cup Water

2-1/2 cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (or darker!)

1/2 cup Squash puree (zucchini, butternut, pumpkin, yellow)

1-2/3 cup Flour

3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda

1.  Dissolve sugar, oil and water over low heat in a saucepan.  Once dissolved, remove from heat and add chocolate chips to the hot mixture, stirring until the chocolate chips dissolve.

2.  Once chocolate mixture is cool enough to not cook eggs, add beaten eggs and squash.  Mix thoroughly.

3.  Add dry ingredients to the batter (right in the sauce pan if it's big enough, otherwise switch to a bowl).  Mix until silky smooth and glossy.

4.  Pour into a greased 9x13 pan and bake for about 30  minutes at 350 until center is set.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Freezer Friday: Marinara & White Bean Chili

freezerfridaysmThis week I restocked my freezer with marinara.  I think it's different every time I make it depending on what I have for veggies that need to be used.  I started with my HV Marinara and twisted it a little by adding carrots too since I had some in the freezer that needed to be thrown out hidden somewhere.  I ended up with about nine quarts of marinara all portioned out for future meals-all for less than $6.  More reasons why I love making my on marinara!

I also put together this Chicken and White Bean Chili that was great!  We at half the batch this week and the rest went to the freezer for later.  I used broth and chicken from a Chicken Cooking Day and beans from a day of cooking and freezing beans.  This recipe came together very quickly and was quite yummy!  Today I'm making a stock pot of Beef and Veggie soup which will make quick meals this weekend and in the coming months.

White Bean & Chicken Chili

    6 cup White beans, cooked and divided

    6 cup Chicken Broth

    2 medium Onions

    4 cups cooked Chicken, chopped
    1 can of  RoTel diced tomatoes (or regular diced tomatoes & chilies)

    1 tsp Chili powder
    1 Tbs Salt
    1 tsp Black Pepper


1.  Puree three cups of the white beans.

2.  Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot or your slow cooker.  Since all ingredients are cooked, you can just heat it through low and slow to combine all the ingredients.  If cooking on the stove, be sure to stir regularly as the pureed beans tend to sink can burn to the bottom of the pan.

This post is linked up at Life As Mom's Frugal Friday.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tis The Season...

to start thinking about Christmas cards.  I love getting Christmas cards from friends and family.  Catching up on the year through photos and letters to see how children have grown and what adventures life has brought to our loved ones far away.

I have to confess, we don't do Christmas cards every year.  In this electronic age, those who usually get Christmas cards from our family live many states away and are not [for the most part] online.  The last time we sent out fun updates to this contingent in our address book was right after GBaby was born and she will be 2 in January.  So, it's time for me to think about Christmas cards.

giftcard When what to my wandering eyes should appear, but a deal too good to pass up this year!  Shutterfly has some great  Christmas Cards this year.  This is not the first Christmas card offer that has come across my inbox, but quite frankly, the other's didn't have Christmas cards.  I'm not one for politically correct when it comes to Christmas cards, and choose to share Christ as the center of Christmas.  This card does that beautifully!

They also have lots of other fun things like calendars, mugs, stationary and photo albums that make great gifts for grandparents and family members you may not be able to see this holiday season.

If you're interested in turning some of your memories from 2010 into gifts this holiday season, check it out.  And if you want to save a little bit of cash, consider blogging for Shutterfly and always check for current coupon codes.
Please note, this post is part of a promotion sponsored by, providing bloggers with product credits in return for promotional posts.

Erasable Organization Binder

Some of the blogs I follow talk about binder systems and planners to help keep moms organized.  They have great printouts and resources – really, they’re neat.  However, they just don’t work for me.  If I print out another piece of paper, it’s going to get lost in the great paper vortex of clutter that end up in the recycle bin, and does nothing to get me organized.  I have used a few different methods for taming the paper and clutter and I think that I’ve finally been able to combine them into a system that may just work.

A few years back, HandyMan and I worked at a great summer camp (who I’m now working for again, remotely from NY- how cool is that!)  Oops, sidetrack.  Anyway, the camp had daily and weekly to-do lists that they would put into clear 3-ring page protector sleeves and we’d mark stuff off with dry erase markers.  It worked great – print once and use over and over and over.  Taking this idea, I created a weekly template with a rough schedule and the three categories that my tasks generally fall into: Chores, Menu/Meal Prep and Projects.  I also filled in permanent "chores" on the weekly schedule, as well as time blocks that are taken by the same activity every week.

The second component is a folder system.  I realized earlier this fall that the majority of the paper clutter that accumulates in my kitchen was from the mail.  In October picked up a folder thing that had a bunch of folders all bound together.  When I would go through the mail I could sort it into the folders (Bills/Attention, Filing, Shredding, Work Related, Banking and Other) and the pile of mail was neatly contained.

So, when I combined these two systems here is the resulting contents of a 1-inch, 3 ring binder that was reclaimed from a box of old college notes:

::Write-On Pages forNBook3

  • Shopping Lists & Errands (because stuff always gets scribbled down somewhere before it makes it on the “take me to the store” list)

  • 2 – 2 page spreads for Weekly Planning

  • ThrivingMama blog notes page

  • Cleaning lists (also incorporated in the weekly page- but not as detailed)

  • Blank pages in sleeves for random notes that pertain to online tasks – to eliminate all those little slips of paper.

::Folders for the categories I talked about before.

::Cute dry erase markers that have magnets so they stay in the middle of the binder.

All this fits neatly in a binder that I can stick in my corner of the kitchen counter and access easily.  I debated putting something decorative in the front cover or leaving it blank to use as an extra note surface – I opted for both:


As I mentioned before, the binder, as well as the card stock, and sheet protectors were things I had around the house.  The folders and the markers were compliments of a Staples rewards certificate from recycling my ink cartridges.  So, no money really out of my [current] pocket to implement this system - so if in three months it falls by the wayside for a different system, no loss.  For me, that works for me too!

This post is linked up at's Works for Me Wednesday.

Monday, November 15, 2010

System Failure!

systemfailureAfter our wonderful break last week, I've come home to find that it's the middle of the month and all my systems seem to have broken down.  I was cruising along so nicely and I'm not sure what happened.  It is sort of like when you're working along on your computer and all the sudden you get the blue screen of death and the machine  just shuts down.

My menus are all messed up, the Toddler Tornado has made quick work of destroying the house and I'm treading quicksand trying to make order of the chaos.  I have to get things in order because I have a craft fair on Saturday and have to have our lives organized enough to leave GBaby here with Grandma while HandyMan and I are off to our respective tasks for the day.

So, this week, I am working on fixing my systems: housekeeping, work, meals and other projects.  I'm hoping to implement a few new ideas in hopes of getting things done and stop a few things from falling through the cracks - stay tuned!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Sunshine

Practicing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

My little girl loves balls:  Soccer balls, beach balls, tennis balls -you name it.  If it's round it's a winner.  Even onions and apples have fallen victim to the pitching arm of my toddler as she declared them a "ball".  This week I was able to watch her awe and wonder as she was introduced to a ball-pit for the first time.

[caption id="attachment_2071" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Mom, what do I do with all of them?!"]Mom, what do I do with all of them?![/caption]

More fun and cookies than she could handle!

This week we were blessed with a few days away at a timeshare that was shared by family.  We slept in as late as GBaby would let us (or as late as HandyMan would let me), stayed in our pjs and watched cartoons and Food Network and  just played.  We also ate some yummy cookies.  It was a much needed respite for our family.

In our absence, our dog got to play with another doggy friend for the week, and for our friends who dog sat, we are very appreciative!

As we head into the week before Thanksgiving, I hope you can look back, and forward, to find the joy dotting your story! Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Clean Fridge Stare Down

I am good at a lot of things, and when I set my mind to it, I can be good at cleaning. But it is not a strength, nor something I really enjoy. Often a mess will keep compounding until I finally suck it up and deal with it...or until HandyMan can't take it any more! Remember as a kid having “stare-downs” or playing Mercy (crush your opponent's hand and dig in the fingernails and see who cries for mercy first)? Some cleaning tasks in my house are like this. And sometimes, I don't even know that the game has begun.

This was the case with the refrigerator. On Monday after lunch HandyMan started, or more appropriately, finished emptying out the fridge. I looked up from what I was doing and he was pulling shelves out. “Are you cleaning the fridge?!” I asked in awe and amazement. I had wiped down a shelf or two a couple months ago – it wasn't that bad. Ok, maybe it was. And HandyMan, my hero, took care of that mess. He removed and disassembled all the shelves and cleaned out the bottom of the fridge and the crisper drawers. What an awesome surprise to my Monday! Now I really have to do my best to keep it clean. Thanks honey! (And no, I won't send him to your house to clean your fridge.)

[gallery columns="2" orderby="title"]

This post is linked up at The Diaper Diaries Things I Love Thursday and Finer Things Friday.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pumpkin Applesauce Bread

Here's the Pumpkin Bread recipe that I promised forever ago.  With two of the best flavors of fall,  this hearty quick bread is another favorite in my hearty breakfast bread collection.

Pumpkin Applesauce Breadfreezebake2

1 cup Sugar

1 cup Brown Sugar

3 eggs

1/2 cup Oil

2 cups Pumpkin Puree (or 1-15oz can of pumpkin)

3/4 cup Unsweetened Applesauce

1-1/2 cups White Whole Wheat Flour

1-1/2 cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour

2 teaspoons Baking Soda

1 teaspoon Salt

2 teaspoons ground Cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground Nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground Cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground Ginger


1.  Cream together oil, sugar and eggs.  Add pumpkin and applesauce and blend thoroughly.

2.  Sift all dry ingredients together into the liquid batter and mix thoroughly.

3.  Pour into two prepared loaf pans.  Bake for 40-60 minutes at 350 degrees (until a toothpick inserted comes out clean)  You can also bake as muffins for about 20 minutes.

Linked up at An Oregon Cottage's Tuesday Garden Party and Life As Mom's Ultimate Recipe Swap for dishes that travel well. Check them out for more great recipes.

Friday, November 5, 2010

November Freezer Cooking

freezerfridaysmIt's hard to believe that it is November already!  Since this is a full month and my freezer and pantry are pretty stocked, I'm just replenishing things that I've run out of and replenishing my soup supply.  I will be putting

away our garden potatoes to make side dishes easier later on.  I'm experimenting with a couple bread recipes that I'm hoping will freeze well enough to batch them up later.  Here are a few of the things that I'm working on that I know will go to the pantry and freezer:

:: Biscuit Mixes

:: Chicken Broth

:: Mashed Potatoes

:: Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (just separated club pack & bagged)

:: Ground Beef  (just separated club pack & bagged)

Also on the menu this month to be prepared in batch freezing quantities HV Marinara, Beef & Barley Soup, Black & Pinto Beans and White Chili.   What are you cooking this month?

Linked up at Life As Mom's November Freezer Cooking Party

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Baking for the Holidays

Holiday Planning

Over at Life as Mom today they're talking about foods that make great gifts.  Usually there's so much food around the holidays that I don't often gift food, but here are a few recipes that gift very well:

:: Easy Sugar Cookies are usually a quick go-to for parties or hostess gifts. The are pretty and present well on a holiday plate (usually from dollar store), holiday plastic wrap and a bow.

:: Reduced Sugar Fruit Spreads that I made this summer will be great for gifting this holiday season.  Add a ribbon to the jar and they're ready to go.  Or pair it with a Biscuit Mix in a breakfast basket.  The recipe works beautifully with frozen fruit too!

:: Quick Breads [HV Blueberry Bread, HV Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread, Cranberry Orange Bread] also gift very well and there are often holiday tins that you can bake them in to make them a bit more festive.  Or wrap them in a holiday plastic wrap and you're good to go!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Drop Biscuit Baking Mixes

At some point a while back, one of the blogs I follow (don't remember which one) featured the idea of mixing up all the dry ingredients of things you bake often, so when you make them you just have to add the wet ingredients.  I love the concept behind this because then I know exactly what is in my baking mixes.  With the winter months falling quickly upon us I decided that it would be worth the prime real estate in my pantry to keep three containers of biscuit mix and three containers of cornbread mix.  I have to refill then once a month - and I usually do this when I go to make said bread the 4th time and there's no mix ready.  So one portion to a bowl, three portions to my containers.  Ingredients out once.   Priceless.  It may seem like a little thing, but these little things make things so much easier at dinner time when the Toddler is melting down and hasn't napped and your head hurts and... I digress.

So, I started with this recipe for biscuits and have modified it a bit and end up with perfect, Whole Grain Drop Biscuits every time.  I've even started substituting in 1/4 cup of applesauce, pureed pumpkin or pureed butternut squash for 1/4 cup of the butter/margarine just to cut the fat down a little bit and I haven't noticed a difference in the final product -besides the applesauce adding a little sweetness.

Without further ado, ThrivingMama's Drop Biscuit Mix:

biscuitmix1Drop Biscuit Mixes

1 cup Unbleached All Purpose Flour

1 cup White Whole Wheat Flour

2 teaspoons Sugar

1 Tablespoon Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tartar

1/4 teaspoon Salt


Combine all dry ingredients in a 2-3 cup storage container.  Be sure to labelyour container with the contents, wet ingredients to add and baking directions to keep things super simple!

When it's time to bake, add

1 cup Milk and

1/2 cup Butter or Margarine, softened

and enjoy a meal time that 's a little bit easier!

This post is linked up at We Are That Family's Works for Me Wednesday Fall Recipe Swap

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cream of Veggie Soup

As I eluded last week, the destination of many potatoes in my home is soup.  While I have yet to bust into the garden potatoes, I made a great Cream of Veggie Soup yesterday that made great use of about five pounds of potatoes, and carrots and broccoli. It will freeze and reheat great.

Most folks will probably need to cut this recipe in half as I used my huge pot to make it and it will be serving as dinner for a crowd this week.  It made about two gallons. I used the inspiration and method from my [Green] Potato Soup and added a bit more color. When everything was cooked, I blended it up with my immersion blender and it was great with saltines. I'm planning on pairing it with a Ham and Cheese Breadstick experiment. We'll see how that turns out! (and don't mind the photo - it for some reason the photo is really yellow)

Cream of Veggie Soupcream of veg soup

    1/2 pound of Bacon
    5 pounds of Red Potatos

    3 medium Onions

    5 large Carrots, raw (about 4 cups chopped)

    8 cups Vegetable Broth
    6 cups chopped Broccoli
    6 cups Milk

    6 cups Water

    1 Teaspoon Garlic Salt

    1 Teaspoon Pepper


1. Boil your potatoes and carrots  in a large stock pot until fork tender.

2. Drain potatoes and carrots and put them in a different bowl.

3. Cook your bacon and onions in your stock pot.  When bacon is done, add broth and bring to a boil.

5. Add milk, salt, pepper, water and to the pot. Add potatoes and broccoli and bring to a boil.

6.  Once the broccoli is cooked, Puree this mixture with an immersion blender.  (For a chunkier soup: Hold out the potatoes and carrots and add after pureeing the broccoli into the base.  Then use a potato masher to break them apart.)

This post is linked up to An Oregon Cottage's Tuesday Garden Party.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday Sunshine

sunflowerPracticing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

In a week that has ended with large, dark, metaphorical clouds in our world.   I am glad that I took a few minutes to reflect on the finer things on Friday, because I think that I would have completely overlooked them today.  I'm thankful for friends who help out, for family and health.

For the quick emails of encouragement, for the brief moments of generous recognition, for the community we live in.  All these things get me through the week.  That and a coming vacation.

I hope you can look back, and forward, to find the joy dotting your story!

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Nuances of A Developing Personality

The last few days, I have been relishing a lot of the little things around me.  I picked up a box of Celestial Seasonings India Spice Chai tea on an impulse.  Brewed up with a bit of milk and a dash of sugar - absolutely lovely!

finerthingssmI've also cherished the nuances that are making up my daughter's personality.  The closed- mouth "o" she makes with her lips when she's really proud of what she's done (especially if she wasn't supposed to do it!).  The almost reflexive action with which she leans over to smell the paper as soon as I draw a flower - I think Daddy was teaching her how to smell flowers.  The way she brings her step stool over and starts "doing dishes" with me or pats the same step stool when it's by her table and she wants me to come color with her.  In the wee hours this morning when I was up with her and I smoothed her hair away from her face and she reached up and smoothed my hair, and then snuggled up to rock.

I've been reminded by all these little things what a wonderful gift my daughter is and challenged as well, wondering how many other things I've missed because I've been too busy with things I had to get done.  I'm going to work on cutting back the busy.  In the next few months, you'll probably see a few less posts as I will be working hard to keep the computer shut during GBaby's awake times-because the computer sucks me in is a black hole of distraction.  Given most of my recipes and many of my friends are in that little black box, it will be tough, but I think that the rewards in all the finer little things, will be worth it!

This post is linked up at Finer Things Friday.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Potato Piles

Way back in July, we had these little piles with some vines sticking out:

[caption id="attachment_1615" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Potatoes - getting ready to get buried again."]Potatoes - getting ready to get buried again.[/caption]

August brought blossoms:


The potato piles continued to grow.  We stacked them a total of three tires high and let them go.  This week HandyMan dug them up and filled a table with spuds!

2010PotatosI wish I could tell you what kind of potatoes we planted - but it was HandyMan's gig and I don't remember - and that gardening notebook bit- lasted about three weeks.  Oops.

Anyway, I think I smell some Garlic Cheddar Smashed Potatoes and some [Green] Potato Soup in my future.  I also want to experiment with these Potato Crescent Rolls.  What are your favorite fresh potato dishes?  Leave me a link - I can always use more ideas!!

This post is linked up at An Oregon Cottage's Tuesday Garden Party

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Sunshine

sunflowerPracticing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

This started off with the much awaited (by mom and dad anyway) removal of GBaby's cast.  She's now sporting a little boot-brace for two more weeks but the bone is healing beautifully.  After that the week was pretty much a blur.  All I know is that we're healthy, we've been well fed and have slept uninterrupted for a few nights now - thank you GBaby!

After that the rest has just been details-laundry (the washer & dryer are getting run into the ground), dishes (so glad we have a dishwasher!), cleaning (ok, well maybe not as much of that as I should be doing) and just being mom.  I'm squeezing in work and candles wherever I can.  I feel like I'm trying to stretch time, like a balloon, to accommodate way too many things.

I hope you can look back, and forward, to find the joy dotting your story!

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

It's Saturday. Really?

Do you ever have one of those weeks when you look at the calendar and it's Saturday and you have no idea where the days went.  The living room looks like the destructive path of the Toddler Tornado has been through it, with various touchdowns in other areas of the house.  Baskets of laundry in various stages of processing are stashed in corners around the house.  Dirty dishes have taken over the kitchen and the dust bunnies are invading from every corner of the house.  I just look around and shake my head and ask What Happened?!

This was that week.  Today I'm going to try to take on the dirty dishes, dust bunnies, aging produce and Mount Laundry.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Salt & Balsamic Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

pumpseedIt's October and here is the United States, that means it's pumpkin season! Whether you're stocking up on pumpkins to bake with or to carve up and decorate with, you will inevitably be faced with one messy decision: to roast the pumpkin seeds or to toss them. Pumpkin seeds are loaded with nutrients like zinc, iron and low in calories. What's not to like?

It seems that almost every time I've cleaned out a pumpkin, I've tediously separated out the seeds from the muck with intentions for a healthy, yummy snack. Inevitably, I roast the seeds and they're alright. I nibble on them them fresh from the oven, throw them in a container and they're never “good enough” to be a draw when I want a snack later. Eventually the container will end up emptied in the trash.

This year, I did some research, changed my method and had to hold myself back from eating the whole tray of seeds from the oven!  The best part, a week later stored in a sealed jar and they're still super crunchy!  Here are some of the tips I found and implemented for this year's pumpkin seeds:

  1. Rinse the Seeds: Once I had separated the pumpkin seeds from the orange muck, I rinsed them thoroughly to remove any remaining bits of pumpkin flesh. I couldn't rinse them enough to remove the sliminess but did get all the orange off.

  2. Boil the Seeds: After rinsing my seeds, I boiled them in heavily salted water (1 Tablespoon salt to 1 cup water) for 20 minutes. This removed a little bit more of the sliminess and infused the seeds with a little bit of salty flavor.

  3. Dry the Seeds: I drained the seeds and spread them out on a baking sheet. I let them dry overnight. They didn't dry completely but did dry down.

When ready to roast the seeds, I mixed my marinade and tossed the seeds in the marinade. Spread the seeds back out on the baking sheet and baked them at 325. I stirred them after fifteen minutes intervals at a time and roasted them until they were golden brown and completely dry.

For about 3 cups of pumpkin seeds I used this marinade:  2 Tablespoon Olive Oil, 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.  Shake it all up and pour it over the seeds and toss them thoroughly.  The vinegar didn't come through quite as much as I would have liked, but they're still pretty yummy!

Check out my guest post at Quick Easy Cheap Healthy for my Pumpkin Pie Spice Roasted Seed recipe!

This post is linked up to An Oregon Cottage's Tuesday Garden Party

Monday, October 18, 2010

Freezer Baking Wrap Up

After about three bags of flour, a bunch of butter and margarine and a good bit of sugar.  My freezer baking is caught up for this month.  Here's the low-down:

Pie Crusts: Handyman has made a bunch of pie crust to get ready for a dinner at church. He's the the go-to guy for pastry in my house so from best I can tell, he mixes it up, rolls it out, layers it in wax paper and wraps the stack in foil.  I've had pie crust in residence in my freezer for up to three months and couldn't tell the difference when the final pies were done.  This is a great time saver if you're one of those families that has multiple pies on the  menu for the upcoming holidays!

freezebake1Pumpkin Bread: This week I cleaned out five of my little pie pumpkins from the garden and cooked them up.  The yield was ten cups of pumpkin  puree.  Four cups of that have already ended up in Pumpkin Bread.  I made four loaves and one 9x9 pan. The loaves went to the freezer, the pan went to our tummies!

HV Zucchini Bread: A friendfreezebake2 needed zucchini bread made for the same dinner HandyMan is making pies for.  She said she'd bring me zucchini if I'd make bread.  So after some baking: four loaves for her, two loaves for me-all residing in my freezer right now.

freezebake4Cookie Dough: This is the time of year when ready to go cookie dough is a "must-have" in my freezer.  My supply was completely depleted so it was time to restock.  I put some great Double Chocolate Pecan drop cookies and Sugar Cookie dough into the freezer.  I rolled and cut out the pumpkin sugar cookies to use for the few trick-or-treater's we'll get on Halloween.

Butterhorns: Ack!  These didn't get done.  I really need to move them to the top of the list.  Any list! But I think if I have time to play in the kitchen this afternoon they're at the top of the list

Sloppy Lasagna: This turned out pretty good.  Using the basic idea from this recipe - my own marinara, no hamburger, and making up my own white sauce - I ended up with a pretty decent pasta dish.  I put it in my square non-stick pans, flash freeze and then pop out the whole block-o-pasta from the pan and put it in a Food Saver bag to freeze.  I love this method because it's so easy to see what's in the freezer and they stack great!  When it's time to eat, take the pasta out, remove from bag while still frozen and put it back in the square pan to thaw and cook.


Hope everyone's freezer cooking nets them an easier week this week!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Sunshine: Friends & Frosting

sunflowerPracticing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

This week was one of those weeks where everything just seems to go smoothly.  I got ahead in my baking, I got a good bit of real paid work done and I got the house cleaned up.  I realized as I finished folding a huge pile of laundry, that I had only had to fold it once since GBaby was napping.  (Note to self...)

New friends and old friends have made appearances brightening this week as well.

I have had particular fun with GBbaby this week as she has taken to independent play againgspat and I often find her sitting in the living room happily looking at books while I work.  She's also, more than once this week, swiped my spatula while I was baking.  She is becoming so much more animated and has just seemed happier this week.  It's good.

I hope you can look back, and forward, to find the joy dotting your story!

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Freezer Friday: Sugar Cookies Made Easy

Sugar cookies are such a festive cookie adaptable for as many occasions as you can invest in cookie cutters or decorations.  Rolling out the dough and frosting them can be such a fun family activity too!  Most times, I get them rolled out, baked and decorated with the butter cream frosting and stand back and think "now what?"  I can't stack them up on a tray or storage bag or all the frosting will get mashed up.  I could throw them all in the freezer and then stack them and freeze them - but they just wouldn't be as good frozen and thawed later.

A couple years ago I came upon a great frosting recipe that sets beautifully and dry on the surface but moist underneath.  Bingo!  That takes care of part of the dilemma.  But what about the mess of mixing, rolling, and cutting?  This year I decided that I could mix, roll and cut all in one big party, and then freeze the cut out cookies before I bake them.  Pull what I need for a given occasion and bake them.  Mix up frosting and voila! Ready to go with half the mess.

So, here's how it breaks down:

1.  Make a batch (or 2) of your favorite sugar cookie recipe.  I use The Best Rolled Sugar Cookie recipe and it has always turned out great.  When I mix two, I'll mix the first, empty the bowl, and then mix the second - in my world of dish loathing there's no point in washing in between if you're making the exact same recipe.


2.  Roll, cut, layer, freeze.  Repeat. Repeat.  Repeat.  Until the dough is gone.  A round cookie cutter (glass) will give you an all occasion shaped cookie.  I am working with pumpkins and fall leaves as I have three parties coming up for which fall theme will be appropriate.  Once the cookies were frozen between layers of wax paper, I stacked them in a plastic container before they found their somewhat temporary home in the freezer.

sugcookie2 sugcookie5

3.  Pull and bake what you need and mix up an adequate amount of icing.  I love this recipe because you can dip your cookies in and it dries glossy.  Take a bit of the remaining icing and add a little more powdered sugar to thicken it up and it pipes on nicely for accents.  If you don't have a pastry bag or decorating tips, no problem.  Put the frosting in a freezer zip top bag and cut a tiny opening in one of the corners.  Decorate away.

4.  Once the frosting has set, your cookies can be stacked and displayed on a tray - party perfect!


Then, the next time you need a cookie tray, repeat steps 3 and 4 until your freezer stash of cookies is gone.

This post is linked up at Life As Mom's Frugal Friday: Gearing Up for the Holidays.