Saturday, December 27, 2014

Ground Beef Casserole

I was first driven to this recipe because the ingredients are all staples at my house.  This is a great dish to keep the ingredients in the freezer and pantry. But, it turned out to be a great recipe for us. It originally called for salsa, but all the salsa was gone. I used seasoned tomatoes and it was a hit.

Adapted from

Ground Beef Casserole
  • 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey                                                 
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans, drained                                               
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained                                         
  • 1 can of tomatoes with seasoning                                                      
  • 1 cup cheese, shredded                                                                           
  1. Heat the oven to 375.
  2. Cook the beef or turkey in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it's fully cooked through (about 10 minutes.) Drain any remaining fat.
  3. In a 8x8 baking dish, mix the meat, beans, and tomatoes together.
  4. Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes. Remove from oven and remove foil. Stir, and then top with the cheese. Bake uncovered for another 5 minutes to melt the cheese.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

How to Keep Up Your Milk Supply

Nursing my daughter had been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. But, it is also one of the most difficult as well. I work 3-4 days per week and need to pump enough for her to have on those days. We need about 20 ounces per day, but I don't usually make 20 ounces every day. That means I have to pump on my days off too, which sucks, literally. I have found some tricks to make more milk and help in general.

1. Snuggle, skin to skin contact can help produce more.  The first few weeks all I did was sit on the couch and snuggle!!!

2. Nurse or pump more.

3. Set a pumping schedule for work and stick with it!!!

4. Eat foods to increase milk supply. See below.

5. Stay hydrated. You need fluid going in to keep fluid coming out.

6. Eat a healthy balanced diet. The biggest dip in supply I have had was when I was eating bad.

7. Use a hospital grade pump. I have access to one at work and it makes a huge difference.

8. Manage stress. Easier said then done, but very important.

9. Dr. Browns preemie bottles. Princess would guzzle milk, then throw up half of it. Then she was hungry again.  Dr. Brown bottles made her slow down and keep it down. Dr. Browns bottles are also compatible with medulla pumps. But after a few washes, they leak if knocked over. Medelas bottles won't.

10. Paced feeding. Start with 2 ounces of milk, then put her down. Only feed more if she is truly hungry.  Even when older breast fed babies usually only eat 4 ounces.

11. An experienced babysitter. Experienced with breast milk.

12. Fresh milk is better. I only freeze milk if I am not working for 4 or more days.
13. Take a prenatal vitamin.

Foods to increase supply

1. Oatmeal (not the packet kind)
2. Almonds
3. Oatmeal cookies or lactation cookies (mix works)
4. Mothers Milk tea
5. Flaxseed
6. Luna bars (probably because they have oats)
7. Milky

You also might like this post, Simple Homemade Baby Food

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Best Stuffing Ever

I discovered this recipe by accident one year when I stuffed it in the turkey and surrounding pan. When I basted the turkey with maple syrup it absorbed into the top layer of stuffing. The result was amazing and we have added maple syrup every year since.

Maple Syrup Dressing

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temp
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon butter
1 medium size yellow onion
12 corn bread muffins
2 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 can (14.5 oz.) Chicken broth

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mash together butter and sage.

3. In a skillet, heat sage butter. Add onion and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.

4. Transfer to large bowl. Add corn bread muffins. They are better a couple of days old, stale and dry. Add salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

5. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, syrup and broth. Add to corn bread mixture, until well combined.

6. Bake in a baking dish for 40 minutes. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Christmas Gift for My Coworkers

We had our annual Christmas Party last week and many of my coworkers give holiday gifts to everyone. I thought about making baked goods, but I don't have time. Instead I made a beautiful basket full of K-cups for the Kuerig.

I filled a basket with 6 boxes of kcups, wrapped it in a bag I purchased at Michaels and put a bow on top.

$3 Party Tray

I was home with one of my little men and he was sick. He is not a big eater, so I went to the grocery store to find something he would eat. Our grocery store sells the ends of deli meat at a discounted price. I got the ends of sweet bologna for $1. If your grocery store does not sell like this, just ask for two thick slices of meat (1 in or 3/4 in slices). I also had block cheese I bought on sale for $2, it was muenster. You can use any cheese. Two varieties of cheese makes it a $5 tray. The crackers are left over, but they are not required.

$3 Party Tray

2 ends of deli meat, cubed $1
1 block cheese, cubed $2

Total Price $3

Assemble on a tray.

You might also like these party trays.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

3 Christmas Tree Party Trays

Veggie Tray

On this tray, broccoli makes the body of the tree.  We were in a Community Supported Agriculture program and that is the lighter color green veggie. It is a cross between cauliflower and broccoli. It was really the hit of the party.  There is also cauliflower and grape tomatoes.

Fruit Tray
I love a fruit tray at  holiday party.  We eat so much junk at the holidays, but fruit makes it a little better. Make sure the berries are purchased just before your party so it remains fresh. I used the apple slices to keep all the fruit from rolling away, then filled in with grapes and berries. Of course, it is topped with star fruit.

Cream Cheese Tree
This tray is probably my husbands favorite. Take a block of cream cheese cut in to two diagonal squares and arrange in tree shape. Pour red pepper jelly on top. I like to serve this one with wheat thins.

If you are a lover of party trays like I am, try this one too.  

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Grammi's Lasanga

My moms lasagna is the best and I certainly wanted to include her recipes in this blog. Pinterest is alive with lasagna roll ups, but I think they are to much work. Traditional lasagna is so much easier. I usually eat one and freeze one. I buy the 8x8 square pans at garage sales.  They freeze well, fit in the freezer well, and take meals to others.

Grammi's Lasagna

2 lbs ground beef
1 jar of spaghetti sauce
1 package of ricotta cheese (mom used cottage cheese)
1 package cream cheese
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 box lasagna noodles

Brown the ground beef, drain and allow to cool. Cook noodles according to package directions. While the meat and noodles are cooking, mix ricotta, cream cheese, green onions, and garlic powder. Mix meat with spaghetti sauce. Layer starting with meat sauce, then noodles, then cheese mixture. I only use one layer, but you can do one or two. For the top, after the last noodle layer top with more meat mixture. Make sure all of the noodles are covered or the will become dry in the oven.  Top lasagna with mozzarella. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

If your family is anything like mine, include a couple loaves of Italian Bread and ENJOY! 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Craft for My Thanksgiving Turkeys

We eat Thanksgiving dinner about 2 in the afternoon. Which means lunch is late for my boys and boy do I hear about it!! I try to have snacks available, but I don't want them in the kitchen. This year we made snack for them to eat anywhere, especially no the kitchen. Take a glove and fill the fingers with colored gold fish. Then fill the hand with popcorn. We wrapped a rubber band from the rainbow loom kit around the bottom to close. The boys drew faces with a sharpie. They clearly have never seen a turkey face.   Hope this helps keep your turkeys out of the kitchen!!

Check out how to make your own butter!!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Make your own butter!!

We are starting a new tradition this year. The boys are making their own butter! We filled a baby food jar with heavy whipping cream and shake. If you don't have an empty baby food jar handy, you can use any glass jar. We filled it up about 3/4. The kids take turns shaking for about 10 minutes. There will be some whey and a ball of butter in the middle. The butter will be white, the store bought kind is dyed yellow. The butter does not have preservatives and will last about a week in the fridge. Enjoy!!

Check out my other suggestion for keeping your kids busy, A Craft for My Turkeys

List of the My Favorite Blogs

Blogs have really become a part of everyday life. They are a great source of information, recipes and others on the same journey.

For healthy real/whole food eating, 100 Days of Real Food

The Alpha Parent who has Timeline of a Breastfeed Baby

Making homemade baby food, Wholesome Baby Food

For the best freezer meals, Once a Month Mom

For frugal living tips and recipes, Pennies and Pancakes

For decorating, The Yellow Cape Cod
For amazing recipes

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Chicken Corn Chowder

Chicken Corn Chowder

1 onion, chopped
6 slices of bacon, chopped
1 butternut squash, chopped
6 cups of chicken broth
2 cups of milk
2 bags of frozen corn
1 rotisserie chicken, deboned and cut into pieces

Fry bacon in a Dutch oven. Remove bacon and let drain on paper towels. Sauté onion in bacon fat until soft. Add squash, broth, milk, corn and chicken. Cook on medium heat until squash is soft, about 45 minutes. Add chopped bacon back to the pot and eat!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Gift For Our Teachers

Our teachers gifts are a little different than gifts from other families!!! I believe sometimes it is more about what your students don't give you that really counts. For my children's teachers, I give them disinfecting wipes, tissues and alcohol hand foam.

They usually get this gift at the start of the year and at Christmas. Actually, I usually forget to send it in time for Christmas and send it after the start of the
New Year!!!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Keeping Salad Fresh

My kids actually like salad, and we eat it quite often. They mix salad dressings like other kids mix soda.  But, when we have leftover salad it is so difficult to keep it fresh. I found a little trick to keep it fresh longer. Place a dry paper towel in a gallon size zip lock bag with the salad. It soaks up the moisture and it won't get sticky slimy!! You can do this with cut veggies like carrots and green peppers.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Cancers Dirty Little Secret

Britney Maynard ended her life today. She had battled a stage 4 glioblastoma since her diagnosis in the spring. Britney and her family even moved to Oregon where assisted suicide is legal. While there is no debate about the outcome of her cancer, there is no telling how long she would have lived or what her quality of life would have been.

Britney certainly had every right to make her choice, she was in fact supported by her family. She would like to use her life and death to raise awareness for assisted suicide. Her mission is to make assisted suicide available to all terminally ill patients in every state.  This, I believe, is were she goes wrong. I have been a cancer nurse for more than 12 years and have watched one patient after another die from glioblastoma. Research is a more proactive answer.
Research is health cares dirty little secret; or lack of research. We are the most advanced nation in the world, but our people die getting the same old treatments.
If a child is diagnosed with cancer, they are most frequently treated on a research protocol. This practice has drastically improved the survival rates of some cancers, think 95%. This is not the case with adult cancer patients. Adult cancer patients don't want to be the "guinea pig." This makes it difficult to fill and complete research studies. Many times in a study you may only need to fill out a survey, donate blood or be treated with the standard of care.
God bless Britney Maynard and her family. In her honor, enroll in a medical research study.
If you are a female nurse, please enroll in the nurses health study. Here is the link, If you are not a female nurse, ask your doctor.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Review of Milky Lactation Supplement

My princess is seven months old and I have been back to work for 5 months. When I went back to work I had a freezer full of milk for back up. I thought we were holding our own on milk supply, but I opened the freezer and there were only 5 bags left.

After panicking, I started pumping an extra time a day at home. This helped some, but after feeding princess I would only have a couple of ounces left. She eats 4-5 ounces per feed, so it took several days of extra pumping to add one fed. At this point, I am sick of oatmeal and mothers milk tea.

So I decided to try Milky by Tia and Tamra Mowry. I bought it at Motherhood Maternity. I got a box that would last 6 days for $35. I almost had a heart attack. It is no longer available on their website, which was less expensive. sells it online for $29.99 plus shipping.  

It only comes in one flavor Strawberry. It has a strange herbal flavor only partially covered buy strawberry. Many of the ingredients are organic, maybe that is why it is so expensive. Several of the ingredients that I could not pronounce. The only active ingredient for lactation is fenugreek, but there are several others in the drink.  You only take Milky twice a day. I assumed this would help produce milk all day, but mostly you get a boost a few hours after taking the supplement. I definitely got better results taking it twice a day, I just tried to time them a few hours before pumping,  I went from producing 8-9 ounces in my first morning pumping to 10-12. I pump two more times in my work day and each of those times increased 1/2 ounce.  It was about the same as eating oatmeal, twice a day everyday.

Overall, it was expensive but I made the milk that I needed to fill my freezer!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, October 24, 2014

Scary Shirley Temple

This summer we went on vacation in Nashville at the Embassy Suites. They have a cocktail hour and the kids all had Shirley Temples and loved them. When I saw this idea on Pinterest, I knew we had to try it!! You can get syringes at the pharmacy when you get prescriptions.

Scary Shirley Temple

1 cup of Sprite, chilled

5 ml of cherry flavor syrup

Fill your cup with sprite, wait until the bubbles subside. Put cherry syrup in another cup and draw up in syringe. Put in cup with sprite. Serve.

Most recipes call for grenadine, but I used cherry flavored syrup. I purchased the syrup at a restaurant store. I paid $6.99 for a large bottle. The grenadine was in a smaller bottle and was the same price.

Cherry Syrup

Friday, October 17, 2014

Nurses aren't disposable!!!

This post is inspired by my sister living in Dallas.

An old doctor once told me nursing was the second oldest profession.  Nurses might have in fact been the second oldest profession, because there has always been a need. Since the beginning of time, caring individuals have stepped forward to care for the sick and dying. For centuries, nursing was not a respected profession. Nurses were invisible and disposable. Nurses were exposed to illness and disease often in terrible conditions putting their own lives in danger. Florence Nightingale, changed the face of nursing. She began to make us respected professionals and cleaned up hospitals.  

America is in a total up-roar, because three people have been diagnosed with Ebola. Two of these individuals were nurses. In Africa, your chance of surviving Ebola is 10%.When diagnosed and treated in America, your chances of surviving Ebola is still only 50%.  But, nurses stepped up and cared for their patient. They put their lives at risk and the lives of their families at risk. All in an effort to save a man they did not know. A man seeking treatment where he had a 50/50 chance. As the news reported the CDC removing waste from Thomas Duncan's apartment in hazmat suits, nurses (and all health professionals) at Texas Presbyterian were caring for him in gowns and double gloves. No fancy hazmat suits for those on the front lines.

All the nurses who are cared for Thomas Duncan are heroes!! Nurses all to often continue to be invisible and disposable. So the next time you are in a doctors office, hospital, nursing home or where ever, remember that nurse maybe putting there life on the line for you. We are human too, we can catch Ebola!!!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Shrimp and Avocado Salad for Lunch at Work



I found months ago, this zesty lime, shrimp and avocado salad on Pinterest.  My mom made it for me after Chloe was born and it was so good. We ate it all. But, I have never been able to take for my lunch at work because the shrimp goes bad. Then it occurred to me that if I froze the shrimp in individual portions, I could make the salad ahead and top it off with shrimp.

Shrimp and Avocado Salad

1 lb Shrimp divided into 3
1 medium tomato
1 avocado
1/4 cup chopped red onion (can use green onion)
juice of 1 lime 1 tsp olive oil
3 tbsp cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Chop tomato, onion, avocado and cilantro. Combine in a bowl. Juice lime. Add olive oil, salt and pepper to lime juice. Top salad with dressing. Make sure to coat avocado well, so it does not turn brown. Makes 3 servings.

If you go to the seafood counter, ask for a pound of shrimp divided into 3 bags. They don't blink.

Chop your salad.

I cut avocado, by cutting the avocado in half, removing the seed, then cut the flesh of the avocado each way, finally spoon the avocado out of the peel and into your bowl. No messy fingers.

Make the dressing, by juicing a lime, olive oil, salt and pepper.


Healthy and Fast Candy Corn Breakfast

It is October and we are already in a breakfast rut. My kids eat the same breakfast foods every morning. We try to eat healthy foods for breakfast. I scramble eggs a lot. At this rate, they won't eat eggs after December.  So I had an idea.


Healthy Candy Corn Breakfast

1 can of mandarin oranges
1 can of chunk pineapple
1 container of yogurt

I layered mandarin oranges, pineapple and yogurt. Oranges on the bottom, then pineapple, then yogurt.  It was a hit and a fun fall breakfast. Makes two servings.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Yummy Easy Cheesy Corn

I took these to a party at work today. It is quick and easy to make in the crock pot.  I think they were a hit.

16 oz of shredded cheddar cheese
1 block of cream cheese
4 tbsp. of butter
2 lbs of corn
salt and pepper to taste about 1/2 tsp salt and1/4 tsp pepper

Cut the butter and cream cheese into chucks. Throw everything in the crockpot. Put on low for about 4 hours. Stir every hour or so. Enjoy!!

Here is the original recipe, I took out 1/2 the butter and added salt and pepper.

Friday, September 12, 2014

8 Tips For Mommies Going Back to School

(This is our princess helping me with my homework.)

1. Find a school for working adults. Shop around for the right fit. My school allows me to take one class at a time. Ask people were they went to school. Finding the right fit will make you a more successful student.

2. Shop for price.You want a degree in the end, not student loan debt.

3. Plan ahead. Freeze meals. Buy toilet paper. Anything you can do ahead of time or on break helps.

4. Don't get behind!!! Keep up with assignments and readings. Ask your instructor what you can do ahead.

5. Dress professionally. When I was in undergrad, students wore work out clothes to class. Sadly, those days are gone.

6. Buy books on Amazon. Try not to buy at the bookstore. Get the ISN code and shop on line. It will save you a ton of money.

7. Make friends in class. Connections are important in the real world after school, but also connections help at school too. A classmate can take notes for you while your sick. Also, others may have a different point of view that is helpful.

8. Do homework together or at least at the same time. I let my children see me study. They are usually quiet while they do their homework.

Good luck!! You can do it!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Simple Homemade Baby Food

Eight years ago I had twins. I stayed home with them a while and they ate a ton. They still do. The solution was to make their baby food. It is more simple than it seems and very inexpensive. My boys now are great vegetable eaters and I think it is from the good early start.

 Princess won't be six months old for a little while, but I wanted to feed her local, in season, food. This time I am only cooking for one baby. I have just been using left over food. These apples above are ready to become baby food.

Before you start make sure everything is very clean.  Be careful not to contaminate the baby food.  If your baby has a food allergy, you might not be able to tell what they are allergic too. 
I fill the pan with water to cover the bottom. Then put in sliced up fruit (or veggies). Steam them until soft. Allow to cool.

When the fruit cools put it in a food processer. (I have used a blender in the past, but you need lots of liquid. Include in the food processer the cooking liquid remaining.) The liquid will contain some nutrients. I have put formula in the mixture to add nutrients for foster children in our care. Process until smooth. Smaller babies prefer less texture.  It may take babies longer to get used to homemade food, because it won't be as smooth as store bought. My babies would not eat store bought food.

When complete spoon into ice trays and freeze.  When frozen, place in Ziploc bags for storage.

So far, I have made zucchini, yellow squash, blueberry, blueberry banana, apple, plums (which are not worth the work) and green beans.
A great resource is

Monday, August 18, 2014

How to Make Sausage Gravy

While I was pregnant, I craved sausage gravy and biscuits.  We now live in Pennsylvania and there is no where to get good biscuits and gravy. Luckily, my mom taught me to make them from scratch. The last time I made them I thought about my sister who makes gravy from a packet you buy at the grocery store. This is written for her!!
Also, this gravy with eggs and biscuits are a good quick supper!


First I start with a large skillet and sausage.

Then I brown the sausage on medium heat. I brown the entire package. I will only use two patties for the gravy.  I usually save the rest for another recipe, if I can keep the boys from eating it all. When it is brown I take out the sausage and leave the rendered fat.

Then I add about 3 tablespoons of flour. Sprinkle it evenly around the pan as above. The flour should soak up the sausage fat. You want the flour to slightly brown, which takes about 3-4 minutes. I always get nervous at this point, that it will burn. But, don't add the milk too fast or your gravy tastes like paste.

Then add the milk, about 2-3 cups. I use skim milk, because it is what I have. You could use any kind of milk.

Then whisk to combine browned flour and milk. I don't like lumpy gravy, so I stir like crazy. When you get all the flour incorporated. Then remember to add salt. I frequently forget and that is not good. It does not taste as good if you forget the salt.

Continue to whisk as it heats and begins to bubble. Then crumble a few pieces of sausage back in the pan.

When the gravy has thickened it is ready to eat.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Hauling Around Sports Equipment

This week we picked up football equipment for our 8 year old twin boys.  Our family is from Oklahoma were football is king. The start of football is a big deal in our family. Although, one of them has a broken wrist and won't be hitting for a few weeks. 

With the start of practice, comes tons of stuff!!!! I somehow become responsible for said equipment.  I don't even know what pads go where.  And apparently, you are not supposed to wash uniforms with bleach. Oops!!

This year I have found a solution. Thirty one large utility tote holds everything.  I bought one for each boy in team colors, one with stripes and one without. They can haul them to practice and they have a spot in the house.

One small thing that makes my life easier!