Archive | January 2013

Cherry Coffeecake

I follow a lot of money-saving blogs.  One of them is called The Path to Frugality.    I love her ideas.   She thinks an awful lot like me.  At the bottom of one of her posts that I read, it said something like “you might also like” and there was a picture of her cherry coffeecake.  It didn’t look all that special, but I had some cherry pie filling I was wanting to use up as it was in the pantry for a long time.

This was absolutely delicious.  I ate like half of the 9 x 13 pan by the time it was gone.  The ingredients were already in my pantry or refrigerator, so no extra trip to the store to get extra items.  I used margarine in it as I had some left over from making Christmas cookies.  We use butter normally, but I find margarine works better with cookies.  I also didn’t use the nuts because I didn’t have them on-hand.

This coffeecake had a delicious taste and the topping was crunchy.  Pure heaven.  Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed…at least I wasn’t.

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Cheesy Ham And Potato Soup

I have been trying some new recipes around here just like I stated in my goals.  I have a ton of ham in my freezer.  When I was cleaning out my freezer which was a mess and needs to be defrosted terribly, I found 12 hams…12!  That is a lot of ham.  I am trying to defrost the freezer, so we need to eat the food in it soon.  So, I have been looking for recipes that use ham.

This recipe came from food.com and I thought it was delicious.  I doubled it and we had some leftovers.  The kids ate it, but weren’t all that thrilled about it, but my husband and I liked it very much.  He said I should add some more cheese, but I thought it was awesome just as it was.  We had all of the ingredients on hand, so that was nice.  I made a loaf of homemade white bread and it was a delicious meal.

I hope you enjoy.

Sickness All Around, But Working On The Goals

We have been sick…well everyone except me, thankfully!  It started with the kids, went to the baby, then my husband got sick, then back to the kids…It has been circling around for more than 2 weeks now.  I think we are better, finally.

I have been healthy, which is miraculous considering I am up with the baby several times a night.  When she was sick I was feeding her plus doing breathing treatments every 4 hours…not much sleeping going on for a while.  She was at the Pediatrician’s office 4 times in one week.  Thankfully, she is better now.

I have continued on with my goals.  I have canned 4 quarts of chicken broth.  I have also used the canner to cook beans and chicken leg quarters.  The beans ended up too soft so I will have to adjust my cooking times, but it was a good experiment.  The chicken leg quarters turned out awesome.  I had a huge 10# bag and I cooked them in the pressure canner for 10 minutes after it reached 15# of pressure.  They smelled great cooking and the end product was great.  From a 10# bag I ended up with 3.5 pounds of chicken, 3 pounds of broth, and 3 pounds of skin and bones.  I got the bag of chicken for $3.99.  So I ended up with chicken for a little over a dollar a pound.  I am happy with that!

I have been baking about 2 loaves of bread in my bread machines each week.  I have 2 machines, so I make 2 loaves at a time.  I put them on the dough cycle.  After they are done in there, I grease my loaf pans and let them rise about 30 min and bake.  They turn out delicious!  My kids love having this bread with soup.  I love toasting it and eating it with butter on it.

We have been eating almost all of our leftovers.  The kids have been really doing a great job.  This alone has really helped to stretch the grocery budget.  As a reward for eating all of the leftovers, I have been trying to make a couple of homemade desserts each week.  The kids are loving that!

I have been faithfully walking 2 to 3 times for an hour or more.  Today I even ran for about 5 minutes.  I was breathing like a freight train…I am so out of shape.

I am happy to be following through with my goals.  I hope it continues.

Fitness In 2013

My running group met this morning to talk about our fitness goals for this year.  Each of us wants to maintain or better the shape that we are in…me included.

One of my goals is to be able to run a 5k without stopping by the end of the year.  Considering I just had a baby 6 weeks ago, I think that is a pretty good goal.  I used to be able to do that, no problem, but with no exercise since the end of May, I am really in need of improving my fitness level.

I am planning on doing a group training session 2x per week with some of the running girls.  Also, I am planning to walk 2x per week with a different couple of girls in the group.  I have to do something that keeps the baby out of the Y’s daycare as I don’t want her to get sick from being around all of the other children.  Our Y has a stroller that we can use around the track.  Right now I carry her in a sling or if there isn’t anyone else on the track, leave her sleep in her car seat while we watch her as we go around the track.  There is clear plexiglass, so I can see her at all times.

I still have 13 pounds to lose from this pregnancy.  I have done pretty well so far, but the holiday treats have really stalled my progress.

It is nice that it is the beginning of the year and I will be able to track my progress to hold myself accountable.

With this plan, I will get 4-5 days a week of strength training and aerobic conditioning.  Hopefully by the time the weather gets warmer, I will be able to get outside with the jogging stroller that my running friends gifted to me.  My goal is to start jogging when we are able to get outside.  I think that would be April at the earliest.  That gives me January, February, and March to get into better shape aerobically and strength wise before even attempting to run anywhere.

What are your fitness goals for 2013?

Learning To Use A Pressure Canner/Cooker

My husband got me a pressure canner/cooker for Christmas this year.  I wanted one several years ago, but when I started to read about them, I was easily overwhelmed.   First off, I didn’t realize that they could do two different things…cook foods or can low acid foods.  I put it on the back burner for a while, but after reading a blog where the lady does a lot of pressure canning, I wanted to try it to see if I could save us some money.

I used if for the first time yesterday to cook 2 pounds of beans.  I wanted to try something easy so I could build my confidence.  The beans turned out beautifully.  I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it went well.

The first thing I did was follow the directions for the quick soaking method.  For my beans it said to bring the beans to a boil for 2 minutes, remove from the heat, put a lid on, and let sit for one hour.  So that is what I did.  During that hour I reviewed my instruction book again.

The next step was to rinse the beans.  I rinsed them until the water was clear.  Then, as per the directions that came with the pressure cooker, I put the beans with just enough water to cover them.  I added one tablespoon of vegetable oil to help prevent foaming and one teaspoon of salt to help keep the skins on the beans.  This was in the recipe and instruction book.  I live in a lower altitude so I needed 11 pounds of pressure for 6 minutes to cook the beans (only 6 minutes!) to the desired softness.  I wanted to put them in soup, so I cooked them on the longer side of the scale versus 4 minutes (the shorter side of the scale) to have a harder beans to put in a salad.

It took forever to get the gauge to get off of zero.  Once the pressure started it wasn’t too long.  Actually,  it snuck up on me.  I looked away when it was at 8 pounds and when I looked back a couple of minutes later, it was at 13!  I didn’t know what to do so I moved it off of the heat and set the timer since it was above 11 pounds.  The minimum is 11 pounds for the entire cook time.  If it had dropped below 11 pounds at any time I would have had to restart the timer to 6 minutes.  I think this is to be sure they had enough cooking time to be safe to eat.  Does anyone know for sure?

I learned that once the pressure is up there, it is really slow going back down.  I never did get back to 11 during the actual cook time, it stayed at 13 for the whole six minutes.  I let it cool down on its own as per the owner’s manual.

After the pressure was down, I took the lid off of the canner and to my surprise the contents looked exactly the same!  I spooned out a couple of  beans to make sure they were soft, and they were!  Amazing to me.  There was no less water in the canner that I could see.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but apparently beans that hadn’t absorbed the water and looked exactly the same wasn’t it!

I found a website that did a conversion of dry beans to canned etc.  Here is the link if you are interested.  As per this chart, the 2 pound bag would be 12 cups of beans after cooking or eight 15 oz. cans of beans.  I love it!  I need this many to make a nice big pot of soup for our family.  I had these beans for a long time, but I think they were $1.99.  The cans of beans at the grocery are between 59 and 99 cents, so that is a big savings over buying store-bought beans.

Here are a few photos of my bean experiment.

These are the soaked beans that have been rinsed with clean water.

These are the soaked beans that have been rinsed with clean water.

These are the beans in the canner before cooking with the water, oil and salt.

These are the beans in the canner before cooking with the water, oil and salt.

Here I am lining up the arrows to be sure to close the canner properly.

Here I am lining up the arrows to be sure to close the canner properly.

These are the beans after cooking.  The water level is still the same.  As I look putting these on the blog the coloring is different, but the amount of liquid was about the same.

These are the beans after cooking. The water level is still the same. As I look putting these on the blog, the coloring is different because it was later in the day and I had the kitchen lights on, but the amount of liquid was about the same.

This was fun for me.  I am usually afraid to try new things.  Next, I want to try to can something in the pressure canner.