Monday, April 30, 2018

Mealplan Monday #191

Monday - Omelettes with bacon skillet potatoes (eggs from Brenham chickies)
Tuesday - Hearty Beef Soup, garlic toast
Wednesday - Freezer pizza, chopped salad
Thursday - Jamaican Rice and Beans with pork roast, sauteed cabbage
Friday - Creamed Chicken with peas on Biscuits
Saturday - Mom and Dad to Highlands where we will grill
Sunday - Honey Pork Chops, Sunshine Corn*, carrots
This is a recipe given to me by a lady I used to work with at Laura Ashley.  Basically it is frozen corn, diced green chilies, butter, and cream cheese, simmered until bubbly and melted.  DIVINE.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Crockpot Southwest Flank Steak

I can't remember where I found this recipe - probably on a blog, of course.  It's a good routine for dinner when you make a pot of rice to serve it over.  It's really more like a very thick stew.
Crockpot Southwest Flank Steak
1 1/2 lb. flank steak (I used blade steaks this time)
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 16 oz jar of your favorite salsa
1/2 t. oregano
2 t. chili powder
salt and pepper
1 can black beans, drained (I cook my own black beans in the crock and freeze in baggie portions)
1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced (baby peppers were cheaper this trip, so that's what I bought)
Spray the crock with Pam, then pour a little of the salsa in.  Layer pieces of steak with the veggies and pour the beans over.  Then shake up the rest of the salsa with the seasonings and pour over it all.
It smells so good!
Cook on low 7-9 hours.  Stir well and ladle over hot rice.
{I didn't get a pic of the finished meal as they had eaten all but one serving by the time I got home!}
Hubby and I may be "economically challenged" the next few weeks... so I have a new plan for meals that will hopefully keep us to around $100 a week for groceries for four.  Since I also include tp and soap and such in that budget, I will have to get creative.  So here's the new menu plan:
Monday - sammies (but not fancy deli meat or bread)
Tuesday - beef (probably ground beef or very inexpensive cuts)
Wednesday - Leftovers if we have them from Sunday, otherwise freezer pizzas
Thursday -  a pasta or rice meal - here's where casseroles come out to play...I will use my crockpot to cook and shred chicken/turkey/pork for those, and will do meatless meals like quiche, too
Friday - chicken (probably chicken thighs)
Saturday - Hubby and I go to Highlands and grill for two unless I am on call
Sunday - family meal night, Mom's Choice.  Depending on whether I have stayed within the budget I will fix a nicer meal with a couple of sides.  Scout and Dutch usually join us, too!
Hubby and I have lived with a smaller grocery budget before, feeding four kids and buying I'm not going to worry about it, just forge on!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Weekend re-cap - Dig Pub, Highlands R&R

On Saturday, Hubby repaired the laundry room door and putseyed, while I got a few minor chores done.  But it was threatening rain and we had no intention of hanging out around the house all day.  We both had a rather yucky week, so we loaded up the truck and hit the road.
First stop was The Dig Pub in Cedar Park for a dark beer and some apps - onion strings and scotch eggs.
I've heard of scotch eggs but I guess I've never had them - boiled eggs coated with sausage and crumbs and deep fried.  They served theirs with grainy sweet mustard...
Oh, man they were good.  We have a Fry Baby now so we need to learn to make these.
This was a nice quiet place on a Saturday and the waiter was friendly and knowledgeable about the beers - we will definitely return!  From there we headed to TNL for a glass of wine on the patio. (a freebie glass as a perk of our wine club membership)
 Along the way, we detoured to get a look at Oatmeal - a tiny community just outside of Bertram.  (pop. 20.  People.  As in twenty people.)  Hubby has been wanting to go to the Oatmeal Festival forever.  I think this will be the year we do, as he recently met someone who lives there.
 This heartwarming scene was located just outside of someone's gate on what looks to be a ranch.  Oatmeal gives Austin a run for it's money in the "keeping it weird" thing.
After the winery, we built a fire and sat in our chairs relaxing and watching the smoke waft across the yard.  So peaceful...And once it burned down a bit, we grilled a freezer pizza over it.  {Smoked pizza is wonderful!}  The next day, we had some sausage biscuits in the freezer we had forgotten about, with a couple of mandarin orange cups, so breakfast was thrifty.  We spent the day staying close to Highlands, eating chicken salad sammies for lunch, then taking our chairs to one of the meadows to sit and enjoy some raspberry wine we found in the barn's fridge.   We are trying to keep our weekends a bit lower budget for a while so this was a relaxing and low cost one ($40ish), with not much driving and eating out.  Just our speed.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Mealplan Monday #190

Monday - Sammie Night (mom's choice)
Tuesday - Crockpot Southwest Flank Steak*, with rice, in bowls
Wednesday - Pizza and salad
Thursday - Baked Shells (from freezer), peas, garlic toast
Friday - Buttermilk Herb Chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans
Saturday - TBD
Sunday - Chili Mac, Mexican corn
*will post recipe!

Friday, April 20, 2018

5 thing Friday - driving, shelf liner, bluebonnets, chairs, quail

I haven't written one of these posts in a while...
Hopefully we will staying closer to home this weekend than last.  I want to get some things done around the house, and I want to relax.
So. Much. Driving.
I always offer to do some, Hubby always says no.  I'm not even sure where I took the above pic,but it was my view all last weekend.  It's supposed to rain in the Austin area tomorrow - maybe I will take him to an afternoon movie and I know he'll let me drive for that!
I purged and cleaned in my tiny laundry room the weekend I was on call.  Tossed some decor stuff I wasn't going to use anytime soon, wiped down the shelves. Vacuumed all of the dust bunnies and wiped down the washer and dryer, inside and out.  And yesterday I got around to lining the shelves above with new shelf liner from Dollar Tree.  It's those little things, ya know...
 Shutterfly woos me with freebies frequently, and mostly I don't bite because I don't have time or inclination to sit there and create something "free" they're going to charge me ten bucks to ship.  But sometimes I cave...ordered a new set of playing cards for Highlands with a fav bluebonnet pic from last year.  Shipping was $8.  Still expensive, but Hubby and I play cards often and the pic is sweet!
These rusty vintage-y chairs - I LOVE THEM.  They are on the balcony at the Whole Foods we go to for beer and people-watching.  These would be so great for the porch at Highlands...I need to find out where they got them.
I finally got around to spray painting the little quail I found at a thrift store.  She sits sweetly in the tray on the dining table with her hollow, creepy eyes...I like her, so she stays.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Weekend re-cap - traveling, grieving, and eating

{Disclaimer:  I have plenty to say about "family time" from this weekend, but I'll save that for the other blog}
Hubby and I started off our weekend by traveling to a happy place:  Hamilton, Texas.
We were on our way to Dallas for a funeral on Saturday, and thought we might spend the night in Hamilton so we could relax a little, including eating some pork butt sammies (so freakin' good) at a favorite little meat market.  The lady behind the counter seemed a little distracted and not as friendly as before, but they were doing a big business at lunchtime.
 Oh look - three other customers.  In her defense, we weren't locals, so...
We also had plans to enjoy one of our favorite wineries; a little getaway time for us.  We enjoyed said sammies, then made our way over to our Deluxe accommodations for the night.  The Hamilton Budget Inn.  Woo. Hoo.  I took zero pics of the inside of it.  It was pretty loud at night being right on the highway, but we were pretty worn out from the week in general so we didn't care.
 Isn't it swank?  
After we checked in, we went over to Red Wing Dove.  Too bad they are so far away in Hamilton!  The owners are super friendly and the wine is reasonably priced and very good.
We arrived around 4 p.m. under sunny skies and reminded the owner that last time we were there (St. Pat's Day) we left during a raging storm, complete with lightening and downpours.  He assured us it had not rained since.  So we parked ourselves on the patio, playing cards and listening to jazz, fully intending to enjoy a sunset on a quiet day.  "Honey, what is that in the distance?"
"Looks like rain...but it's pretty far away"  (note: how do people in Texas even judge how much "far" is?)  We sat and watched it roll closer.
"Are you sure that's only rain?  Oh wait...that looks and sounds like hail hitting the metal roof."  Cue downpour...We stayed until it let up, then tried to get rainbow pics with the few folks that were also on the patio - no luck.   And of course, Hubby made a friend in the form of an elderly gentleman who wanted to know what we were drinking (ruby cabernet) then proceeded to tell us all about happenings in the area.
 Around 7 we headed back to town for dinner at a Mexican restaurant on the square that was friendly with pretty good food.  I had fajita quesadillas, Hubby had the taco salad.  Again, no pictures...we went back to our deluxe room and cranked up the a/c and were asleep by 10 p.m.
The next day was a long one.  We got up early and ate chicken fried steak and eggs for breakfast (hey, it's Texas), then drove to Dallas, visited with family, went to the the funeral, did more visiting, then hit the road to head back.  Getting from one end of Dallas to another is not a walk in the park.   It was a freaking long Saturday. {As I said, more about all of that on the other blog.}
 Around 8 p.m. we stopped for dinner at George's, a Waco tradition for us.
 Come to mama.
 I didn't just eat all the delicious fried or Mexican things all weekend - at George's I had salmon and okra and sweet potato casserole.  HUBBY ate all of the fried things.  But their onion rings are legendary, so...
We rolled up to Highlands at midnight, took an Alka Seltzer plus and CRASHED into our bed.  Hubby said it was the best sleep he's gotten in days.  I let him stay in bed until 9 a.m., but we had to get up and at 'em for another fun thing to do - the picnic in the meadow at Torr Na Lochs.  We ate a roll and had coffee, then headed over.  It's literally three miles from Highlands.
Everyone met at the winery and caravan'd  down the road a bit to a separate entrance into their property where there was a meadow and lots of space under the trees for tables and chairs.
 It had a creek running through it - so pretty!
Lunch was deli sammies and homemade potato salad.  And of course, wine.
The picnic included several new wines that wine club members got to try first, along with tasting notes and stories provided by her husband.
The weather was perfect, we had a great lunch, and we met a couple who we had lots in common with...well, the "lots" being love of wine.  It was interesting to hear where all they had been - several places we had wanted to try - and give suggestions about places they might want to try.
The picnic ended around 2 p.m., but we could have sat under their oaks, sipping wine all afternoon.  Just lovely.  On the way out, we got to see the longhorns again,  up close and personal.  We only had a couple more hours of freedom before we headed home, so we made up a pretty appetizer plate and sat out at Highlands, sans wine.  Just enjoying the weather and a lawnchair snooze...
 And *snap* the weekend ended. 
When we got home I made meatloaf with scalloped potatoes and some green beans.  Bubbie's gf joined us.  They had gone to her prom on Friday night so she had pics to share.  And we all enjoyed a good meal, then generally pooped out.  We covered a lot of ground, ate a lot it seems, and grieved with our family.  It was very full, and had it's yin and yang of sad and happy, but I am hoping this coming weekend is closer to home...

Monday, April 16, 2018

Mealplan Monday #189

Monday - Grilled Roast Beef and Cheese with carmelized onions, coleslaw
Tuesday - Enchiladas, salad
Wednesday - Super Easy Elgin Sausage with Baked Beans, corn muffins
Thursday - Seasoned Pork Loin Chops, carrots, mac and cheese
Friday - Apricot Chicken, couscous, mixed veggies
Saturday - TBD
Sunday - The Tuna Casserole from Miz Helen

Friday, April 13, 2018

Taco Mac and Cheese

I had some leftover Cafe Rio Taco meat in the freezer and decided to make Taco Mac for an easy meal. {Taco Rio taco Meat is ground chuck, Rotel, a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix, and taco seasoning - so good!}
I've been trying to add more veggies into meals, so this time around I added some frozen roasted corn (thawed out), a red bell pepper, and a few grape tomatoes (not shown).  I had about a cup of leftover taco meat, and about a cup of grated monterrey jack cheese, too.
While I boiled the macaroni, I sauteed the peppers in a little oil, then added the corn and the tomatoes, sliced.  Then I heated it all up a bit and set it aside.
The cooked meat was thawed and didn't really need to be heated - I am making this meal early in the day before I go to work.
 After I made the mac and cheese per the box instructions, I stirred everything else in, plated it up, covered with saran wrap. and put in the fridge. All my peeps need to do is heat their plate at whatever time they straggle in from school or work.  I enjoyed mine that evening, for sure!
After I was done I realized what a wreck the cooktop was getting to be so I gave it a deep clean.  I guess I never had because it was pretty grungy.  I wiped everything down - so shiny and clean now!  Dinner and a spring cleaning item done in the space of about an hour - not too bad.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Weekend re-cap - Somewhat dreary

I was on call this past weekend, so we stayed close to home.  I didn't get called in, so I used my time off to get a LOT of things done that I had been putting off, and just generally staying busy around the house.  Including filing and shredding {I hate it so}, cleaning the bathrooms, buying groceries, taking all of the Easter down, doing some laundry, mopping floors, changing sheets, cooking.  By the time 7 p.m. rolled around on Saturday night it was around 38 degrees, so I even built a small fire in the patio firepit and enjoyed some mulled wine - in April!  I couldn't start any big projects, but being a homebody sometimes is it's own reward.  I cooked for all of us, made a pie, got to sleep in on Sunday.
On Sunday morning,  Hubby and I enjoyed a breakfast out here, then he made a quick run up to Highlands to check on things since Burnet had some wild weather earlier in the week.  He left Austin under drab skies and arrived to full sun.  The bluebonnets are there {you can barely see them in the photos!}  but they are not as prolific as last year...and come to think of it, I missed them last year since I was still working weekends.  Maybe it has to do with the elevation on the hill?
 I'm hoping I will get to see them before they fade out for the year.  Even a few bluebonnets sprinkled here and there are pretty. 
The cacti are going great guns - if it weren't for a few blooms on the stick cactus, you could mistake them for, well...sticks.  And there are tiny buds on the prickly pear.  Eventually we will have to thin out some of the cactus patches - especially the ones that are near the roads in and around Highlands.  Cactus spines can penetrate tires and shoes!
The weekend wasn't any more exciting for Hubby than it was for me - he worked on some things for his job, and stayed in constant communication with his nephew, who's father passed away on Saturday night.  So a trip to Dallas will happen this coming weekend.  And the week started off with some sadness, of course.  In his youth, Hubby was very close to his brother-in-law.
By Sunday we will be back on our hill, hopefully enjoying some downtime...and planning the spring projects we need to get started on.


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