Monday, November 24, 2008

Frugal Recipes

I'd like to share two yummy recipes I made this week. They both include rice, as we have been consuming more rice in an effort to save money. Savory and fairly easy, they are healthy and kind to the budget!

Cabbage Roll Casserole (Adapted from Taste of Home)
TIME: Prep: 20 min. Bake: 55 min. (or cook in crock-pot)
2 pounds ground beef (I used less- on the short end of 1 1/2lb)
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (15 ounces each) tomato sauce, divided (or use canned tomatoes; I used a mixture of fresh tomatoes and tomato paste, because fresh tomatoes are cheaper here than canned)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dill weed (feel free to use seasonings you have)
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups cooked rice (I used more)
4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled (I substitute this for a pork seasoning cube)
1 medium head cabbage (2 pounds), shredded
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (or any cheese)

Directions: In a large skillet, cook the beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in one can of tomato sauce and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat: cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in rice and bacon; heat through. Remove from the heat. Layer a third of the cabbage in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish. Top with half of the meat mixture. Repeat layers; top with remaining cabbage. Pour remaining tomato sauce over top. Cover and bake at 375° for 45 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with cheese. Bake 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Yield: 12 servings.

To make in crock-pot (this turned out wonderfully!): I made the rice and cooked the tomatoes (because they fresh) the night before. I followed the directions in cooking the beef, and adding auce and rice. Then I layered it into the crock-pot. When I came home from church, I realized I had not used enough tomato sauce, so I added more paste and water. When it was finished, I sprinkled the shredded cheese on top and let it melt. Because the crock-pot hold in more liquid than the over, the cheese melted beautifully and mixed in well when served. Yum!

Dijon Rice & Egg Skillet Supper
This recipe uses eggs as its source of protein. Here is the link.
The only thing I did differently from this recipe was using home-made Italian dressing. I also forgot to add the parsley, though I will do that next time, as we have fresh parsley in a pot on our porch. :)

I will definitely be making both of these again and adding them to our "frugal favorites!"

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cold and Rainy

It's cold and rainy today (like 65, the kind of weather where everyone's bundled up in hats and mittens and no one wants to go out; although when most people in town drive a motorcycle, I don't blame them). I'm actually weating pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a hoody! When we lived at our other place, I rarely wore long-sleeved shirts. Because we lived in a second story with a tin roof, the house trapped the heat (which made for really hot summers!). I'm very glad this house is cooler and shadier, but it has it's downsides: 1)things don't dry as well, so lots of things mold (dishcloths, our wedding picture...) and 2) it will be very chilly in the winter nights! Granted, it doesn't get anywhere near as cold as in the States, but at night time in the mountains in January, the temp. can drop, and when you have windows that don't really close, the house doesn't retain heat very well.
I know, I know, none of you feel sorry for me. And that's ok. It will just mean that I may need to ask for my warmer clothes, as I only have a few long sleeved shirts here. And I'll be drinking lots of tea in the morning. But during the day, if it's not rainy and the sun is out, it generally gets pretty warm, even in January. So, I think I'll probably survive. ;)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Jer Update

Alright, now to what I'm guessing most of you want to read: news of Jer. He's "grown" a lot since I last wrote a Jer update (almost a month ago).

Activity and Play:
He's walking well (and occasionally backwards), and sometimes "runs." He attempts to draw with crayons or chalk. Sometimes he wanders into his room, picks out a book, hands it to me, and signs "please." I'm glad he likes books! He also loves his puzzles. Right now he has two wood puzzles out- a dinosaur puzzle, and a farm animal puzzle.
Jeremiah is a great helper! He "helps" me put away laundry. He picks up his toys before bed (with lots of help, of course), and thinks it's the best thing in the world to feed the dog. I tell him (in Spanish) to get the dog food. He walks to the door, points to it if it's not open, goes to the food, signs "please," gets the food in the cup (unless the level is too low; he can't reach the bottom of the bin), carries it nicely to the door, makes a noise for me to open the door, and pours the food into the correct bowl. If any falls on the ground, he makes sure to put them in the bowl. Sometimes we catch Jeremiah trying to feed the dog when it isn't time!

Through the farm puzzle and a few animal books, I've been teaching Jer animal names and sounds in Spanish. It's amazing how fast they learn! His favorite sound is the "cluck" that a chicken makes (he actually clicks his tongue on the roof of his mouth). He also likes to "woof" and sometimes will "moo" or "baaa." Usually, though, he'll just click for the animals. And the dinosaurs. And sometimes inanimate objects. He's beginning to talk a little more. His "grunts" are sounding more human (they have inflection, and you can tell when he's asking a quesion). I know this is a stage before talking, and it's fun to have him "interact," even if it's just with grunts. He's starting saying "Hola" more often, has said "Amen" a few times again, and sometimes says "byebye." He also says "Awa" for Agua.

Lately, he'll randomly like foods we don't expect (things with cumin and hot pepper, for ex.), and then turns down foods that he liked just the day before. It makes it hard to know what to feed him! He's still a good eater, in general, though, so I'm not too worried. And he'll never turn down bread and a banana (or guacamole).

I know all of the above it normal for toddler, but it amazes me how quickly they learn and develop. They are so aware and smart at this age; it is truly a blessing to watch him grow!

He can get in and sit in his chair like a big boy!

Wearing Daddy's helmet!

I blame the diaper hunt

Wow, it's been a long time since I posted! Since I don't spend much time sitting at the computer, I've spent most of my "internet" time on the cloth diaper hunt. (It's only through November) It's been fun to hunt through cloth diaper sights looking for the diaper icon, and discover what all is out there in the cloth diaper/natural baby products world. But, tonight I set aside time to blog, as Jeremiah is in bed and Daniel is outside making our dining room table.
What all have I been up to lately? Well, for those of you that wonder (and that's ok if you don't), here's a "loose" schedule I follow:
Monday, Wednesday
-Wake up at 6:30, make breakfast and eat with Daniel
-Daniel leaves, baby wakes up
-Play with baby, feed baby breakfast
-Put diapers in the washed
-Walk with a neighbor
-Do chores (laundry, dishes, plan tutoring, water plants, etc.)
-Read to Jer, Jer goes down for nap (11 or 11:30)
-Have quiet time, eat lunch, get Jer's lunch ready
-1:30 tutor; Jeremiah wakes up, feed him while tutoring
-2:30-3:30 play with Jer
-3:30-4:30 Algebra II tutoring
-Make dinner, Daniel comes home (Mon. Daniel makes dinner and I go to a women's prayer group at church, 5-6; Wed. Daniel and I have date night)

-Get up a 6, quiet time
-breakfast, Jer wake up, etc.
-I exercise with another neighbor (run or video)
-Come back, do random things, put Jer to nap
-Bake, sew, write, work outside, etc.
-Tues-lunch, feed Jer, more baking or other work, or Jer play
-Thurs- Jer wakes up, go to school to have late lunch with Daddy
-E/o Tues night- "dinner party" with friends

-non-eventful morning
-shopping in afternoon
-Bible study after dinner

Ok, that's fine if you skipped all of that. But, if you really wanted to know what I'm up to, there it is. :)
And I'll leave you with some pictures from our Costufallaween Party (Daniel's a clown, Jer's a leopard, and I'm the ring leader. It's our own family circus.).

Monday, November 03, 2008

$5 Dinners in

I just had to link to this post. wrote an article on $ I enjoy reading this blog (even though frugal things in the States don't always transfer here) because it is written by a friend of mine. Daniel and I spent the first week at her house when we moved down to the D.R. We also enjoyed many of her meals first hand at the "Tuesday Night Dinner Parties" we had with her family and another dear friend. Some other fun memories include "camping" out at their house after Thanksgiving, roasting marshmallows over a campstove at our house, and driving up a very steep mountain for a picnic.
Congratulations $5 dinner mom!

More Jer pics

I tried to put these on the past post, but it didn't work. Now that it's been a while, I thought I should make a new post rather than editing the previous one.