Friday, February 27, 2009

Recipe Review...Cheesey Hashbrown Potato Chili

We were supposed to grill last night for dinner, but the wind really picked up and I didn't particularly feel like it. Instead, I had all items on hand for this "frugal" meal. It received thumbs up all around and requests that I double the recipe next time so we have plenty of left overs. Looking at the recipe, I would imagine it would also freeze well. It took a bit longer than I normally like for a recipe, but it wasn't that much effort, so it really balanced out.

The original recipe
aired on the Rachael Ray show and of course I made a few modifications to make it even cheaper than her version :P


* 2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional)
* 1 onion, chopped
* 2 tablespoons chili powder
* 2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 1 small can tomato paste
* 1.5 pound ground beef
* Salt and pepper
* 1 15-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
* 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
* 2 large baking potatoes, shredded* in order to keep the potatoes from turning color be sure to store the potatoes in water until just before adding. drain and pat dry.
* 2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

yield: 6 servings

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

If you are using a lean ground beef, add 2 T EVOO to skillet. If not, skip it. Brown ground beef in skillet and drain if necessary. Add in diced onion and seasonings. Cook 5 minutes.

Add tomato paste, kidney beans, and diced tomatoes with the juice. Bring to boil. Lower to simmer and cover loosely with tin foil. Allow to simmer about 20 minutes to soften the beans.

Transfer to a casserole dish. Top with hashbrowns and cheese. Bake in 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes to cook the potatoes through.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

As Seen On TV junkie

I admit it. True confession time. I love As Seen On TV products.

Some fifteen years ago, I worked at a dollar store and we got this As
Seen on TV product called AWESOME. It was an all purpose cleaner. It's still on the market today at finer dollar stores across the country. But it works! The product line has expanded and now includes an orange based cleaner that is beyond incredible. It works better than any other cleaner I have ever purchased. And for $1, who can go wrong?

D has been taken in by Sham Wow. I wasn't wowed. You can't put them in the dryer. If you do, they don't soak up nearly as well. We spent $20 on four towels. My kids are still smitten by them, taken completely in by the hype. They also just toss them in with the regular wash and I don't always sort through to see if there might be a sham wow in with the wash. So, all of them have been washed and dried. Seriously, it is way too much effort for a towel.

This week, I purchased what Alex referred to as the cheese grater for feet. Yes, I became a lemming and purchased a ped egg. Having only attempted it a few times, the jury is still out whether or not it's a superior product. To be honest, it's rather hard to tend to the heels of your feet when you're 34 weeks pregnant.

Today's shopping venture for a shower curtain did yield a rather pretty curtain, but I also came home with a floor renewer. The one by Billy Mays wasn't available at the As Seen On TV store, but this one also boasted an "As Seen On TV" label, so it has to work, right? A package of Might Mendit also found it's way into my shopping cart. Hey, it's worth a shot.

And it isn't just the As Seen On TV label that grabs my attention. On a recent episode of Rachael Ray's daytime talk show, she did a human lab experiment and tested Downy Wrinkle Releaser. Yes, I was completely lured in by the celebrity endorsement. But if it works and I don't have to iron then it is well worth the $2.50 I spent on the travel size to test it out!

But to prove I do have some self control, be assured I will never ever buy a Snuggie.

Wacky Wednesday

I'm up. That's about all I can say this morning. I didn't sleep well last night, but that's not all that unusual.

This morning, Kari is taking her magnet school test. I also have to make runs to Target and Home Depot, two of my oh so favorite places to go.

Also to do today:

Tidy Kitchen
Tidy Living Room
Fold Clothes
FINISH at least one unfinished sewing project

In my living room "organizing" yesterday, I managed to get through a single stack of papers. The project I really want to do will involve finishing a project in another room first. This means I really ought to wait til this weekend to do it so I can put the worker bees on it.

Meanwhile, D is taking on an after school tutoring gig. He won't be home til after 5 now. But, I have to look on the bright least he's getting to help kids.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday catch up day!

I actually got quite a bit accomplished yesterday! I feel very proud of myself. I didn't even attempt the laundry in the girls' room but I saved that for today.

Today, I need to tackle the living room which is a bit more challenging for me given my current state. I have been sweeping things in to a pile, sitting down and sorting in to boxes and dumping those in to the kids' rooms. But I really need to tidy up the bookshelf, clean the glass, dust...

I also have two unfinished sewing projects I absolutely need to finish. If I don't do them, I may never get them done. I purchased enough fabric yesterday to start on my layette stuff. I figure at this point, I might want to start getting things together! I found the onesies and actually bought a pack of diapers. Other than that, I haven't done anything and it's getting down to crunch time. I got an Ottobre in the mail yesterday so I feel really motivated to sew...and my rule is nothing fun til the chores are done.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday!

Whoooo we're getting back in to the swing of things around here. The bathroom sink is installed and now I just have to pick out paint colors. As indecisive as I am this is a big problem. I have to make a decision quickly. A friend is coming over this week to help me prime the cabinets. D gently suggested that I finish the kitchen before I move on to other painting projects. For once, he's probably right!

So on to the menu planning :)

Monday: Mu Shu chicken from a pouch
Tuesday: Cheesy tater topped chili
Wednesday: French Toast
Thursday: Gourmet burger night!
Friday: homemade pizzas on pita bread
Saturday: spaghetti

We got really lucky this week as the grocery store down the street had a really good sale on ground beef and we actually had enough room in the freezer to stock up! That never happens. We also stocked up on whole roaster chickens. I broke one down last night and I'm not sure if I want to break down a chicken again. They make it look so easy on Top Chef. bwahaha

Saturday, February 21, 2009

being a good little consumer

Today is Saturday, which means all those errands I've been putting off were getting done today.

We had so many stops and I really ended up overdoing it. I am beyond exhausted and we're having taco salad for dinner. Taco Salad is my big "I'm too lazy to cook real food" meal.

I have been working so hard on the Dave Ramsey thing. We paid off our very first credit card as part of our debt snowball yesterday. It is just killing me that we actually needed to spend a big chunk of money today on things that needed to get done.

First stop was Home Deposit...err Depot. We didn't get everything we needed because someone who will remain nameless didn't think we needed to bring twine to tie the foot molding to the top of the van and wanted to stop there first. I wanted to go there last. We left with a new faucet, a new sink for the bathroom, and assorted repair/revitalize items for the house.

Next, Circuit City's going out of business. We escaped unscathed because there was nothing we really couldn't live without.

Then, my wallet took a big hit at Costco. But it always takes a hit there. Bu this point, the back of the van was completely full and we had to start stacking things on the back seat. To me, this is the sign that it is now time to stop, go home and take a break from capitalist society for a few hours.

Of course, I'm not the only one on the trip and there was another store going out of business. This store tended to be overpriced to begin with and some of the fifty percent off prices were still higher than normal prices at walmart or target. We did pick up a few good deals and stocked up on school supplies. And, I'm going to be a good girl and steal Orgjunkie's recipe organizing plan. My one file folder will probably hold up better in the long run the way she does it. So, at the office supply store, I picked up the tools needed to accomplish this task. I also realized this is one of those things I can do sitting down that will also satisfy that need to nest that is overpowering me lately.

I still need to pick out a paint color for the kitchen and living room. If anyone has a good suggestion for a tannish color that will look good with the denim blue counter tops D picked out and the red accents. I'm thinking we can go for a western look. D suggests the Americana look. I just hate the blue counters, but I'm stuck with them for awhile. This is why you should NEVER EVER throw up your arms and say "I don't care honey, you just pick"...because you may end up with denim blue counter tops.

This next week, I have to start priming the walls. I can do the kids' room but I can't do the living room or kitchen. Maybe the hall... We have three weeks to finish this remodel/revitalizing house project. I am afraid we aren't going to get done in time.

Friday, February 20, 2009

101 things that won't be getting done today

I had wonderful intentions for today. I was going to reorganize more in my kitchen. I had shopping to do. Paint to pick out.

I was completely derailed by a dead battery in my van. The dead battery means I had no way to get the kids to school. That means I have now have five very bored children to keep occupied today.

It's one thing to know the kids are going to be home and I can plan activities but in a situation like this I have nothing. I'm still trying to save gas, so I was saving all my errands for the week for today. I had a completely full schedule. Now, I have to wait til 2 p.m. when D gets his planning period for him to run home and jump start the van. All my neighbors are gone already.

I am praying the weather warms up enough to send them outside.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

home organization

I am a big fan of organized homes. I am in awe of them. I keep thinking, when I grow up, I'm going to have an organized home, too! Actually, it's more along the lines of "when the kids are out of the house, I'm going to have an organized home!"

I've been taking some help lately from organizational blogs, like Org Junkie. Her monthly organizational challenges are really fantastic.

This month, the theme is recipes. This was a big challenge for me. My recipes were "organized" but not really done neatly. I love to cook and collect recipes. Unlike other projects I collect with the full intention of completing and never follow through with, the recipes are things that get used. But, I'll have an issue I'll cook from for an entire month and unless a recipe really grabs the family, it sits on the shelf gathering dust.

I combined all my magazines into magazine holders. I had *four* of them. Some of the magazines were back issues dating back to 1994! Others were more current. Maybe 8 had been used beyond that first month. Another dozen or so contained really fabulous themed party ideas or some other goodie that I know my family will really love...eventually.

I pulled out the cookbooks I *really* wanted to keep and gave the rest away on freecycle. And, to push the envelope further, I gave away nearly *all* my magazines.

Here's a big confession. I love freebies, especially free magazines. Sometimes we'll get a magazine that is a big hit. Other times, I get duds. Either way, we get about 15 magazines a month, none of which I paid for. So, each month, I am stacking the magazines together and sending them off to clutter up someone else's home.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

These should come with a warning label

On one of the message boards I frequent, someone posted a link to Mock Skor Bars. I have a love hate relationship with skor bars. I love to eat them but hate what they do to my weight loss efforts. Yes, i know that's not a worry at this exact moment, but I'm trying not to gain a huge amount of weight.

I have been having salty cravings lately, so the skor bars haven't really been on my radar. I've really been wanting popcorn sprinkled with ranch dressing. I used my whirly popper to make super fantastic popcorn. If you don't have a whirly popper, get one. Really. It takes just as long as microwave popcorn and not nearly as many funky chemicals.

Anyway, having satisfied my salty cravings, I succumbed to the temptation of the skor bars...and I really wish I hadn't. Being off my meds right now, I have some problems with impulse control when it comes to food. I can't really stop myself. I have been really trying to direct my food impulse issues towards healthy things, like fresh-made juice. It's a good thing these skor bars need to be chilled, because if they were on the counter where I could see them...I don't think they'd be here in the morning. I'm exaggerating, but you get my point.

Make these, but use caution. Don't make them alone. Make sure you have a large group to share them with. So there's my warning label for this treat. :)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

hot dog hot dog hot diggity dog!

D was able to get the computer working with help from his brother who works for Intel! woot!

That means the ADD housewife is back in the swing of things.

so much has been going on. Homeschooling Kari is going very well. We finished kindergarten in like three weeks. The standards here are so pathetic. No science or social studies standards at all. So we're going to be learning science and social studies on our own. Real basics like the life cycle of a butterfly, the planets and important things like address, phone number, city and state and where we are in the world. She is so excited to learn. We had food poisoning a few weeks ago and Kari complained to Leelee that I wasn't able to do school with her!

We also made the decision that we were applying for kindie again at one of the magnet schools. This particular school is an academically advanced school. Kindergarten there is equivalent to first grade in the rest of the district. She has to pass a test to get in. With her late birthday (less than a week before the cut off), the staff at the school recommended testing for kindie instead of first (which would be second grade work). The advantage to us being there are 108 kindie spots vs less than 20 first grade spots.

Also, if Alex bombs his audition in the performing arts magnet, we'll be homeschooling him in the fall! They are rezoning for junior highs and the one we are likely to get rezoned to, is one D taught at and well, there's no way he'd let one of our kids go there.

I am going to be very very busy this fall! I'm hoping it all works out smoothly.

One other noteworthy item...we're almost done with our kitchen remodel! New floors went in last week. We're finally in the home stretch. We just have to install the new sink, paint walls and cabinets, install foot molding and a chair rail and it's done. After 2.5 YEARS. I'm ready for it to be finished!