Saturday, October 24, 2009

"USDA Certified Organic" - What it means...

A few words about what "USDA Certified Organic" really means and you can expect when you see this seal on products (from Delicious Living):

1.) Prohibits the use of GMOs, most conventional pesticides and herbicides, sewage sludge, antibiotics, growth hormones, and irradiation.

2.) Organic producers record procedures and maintain cropland free of prohibited substances for three years before earning the seal, which varies in price based on the certifier.

3.) The seal is permitted on commodities that are 100 percent organic or made with at least 95 percent organic ingredients. The USDA’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances identifies synthetic substances that may be used and nonsynthetic substances that cannot be used in organic production and handling operations.

4.) For meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs to be USDA Certified Organic, animals must have been fed 100 percent organic feed; never given growth hormones or antibiotics; and not have been routinely confined. Cloned animals or their offspring also cannot qualify for the seal.

5.) You'll see the seal on : Produce, dairy, eggs, beef, poultry, body care products comprised of plant ingredients, wine, and processed or packaged foods.
For more information, click here.

Menu Maker Mom ~
Makin' Yummies. Stuffin' Tummies.

Friday, October 23, 2009

DAY 2 - Update on our change to organic

Hi Friends!

Thanks so much for joining me on this new food adventure ~ eating whole, organic foods as much as possible. I added "as much as possible" because I discovered yesterday that finding products that fit that category can be a challenge! We live in a small town, in a rural area. I shop at HEB and Wal Mart. I hit Wally World yesterday and was surprised to find that the organic items were few and far between.

Here's how things are going so far:
1.) During my trip to Wal Mart, I was able to purchase organic milk, crackers, and yogurt.
2.) I ordered a meat grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer. We'll be grinding our own beef from here on out.
3.) I signed up with Mambo Sprouts for some great coupons. Also found a couple of blogs, that I've listed below. Also went to Delicious Living for some more coupons!
4.) The kids returned to carrying their own lunches to school starting today. They are grossed out by cafeteria food as much as I am.
5.) Thanks to a local reader, Misty, I checked out to investigate sources of locally grown, organic veggies and meats. I'll continue that investigation and share what I learn as time goes on.

I'll go to HEB this weekend looking for organic foods, where I anticipate having a much easier time finding what I'm looking for. The last trip I'll make is to Whole Foods. Whole Foods has fabulous foods and personal items, but they are a full hour's drive from my home.

I love the comments that you've made! Thanks for reading! Here's what Karin said, followed by my reply:

"I really like your blog, and I am doing the same for my family. I am anxious to hear what you do. My only concern is that buying organic, etc. is so much more expensive, and I am an extensive coupon-user."

Menu Maker Mom:
While my first hurdle is to FIND the food items in the desired category, the next hurdle is to find COUPONS!!! After all, the organic Stonyfield Farms yogurt I bought yesterday was over $3.00 for a 4-pack at Wal Mart, compared to the ultra low price of Yoplait, when combined with a coupon.

I'll be visiting the following blogs to find the latest and greatest sales and coupon matches for Whole Foods and then decide if it's worth the drive.

We will definitely have some major adjustments to make!!!

Menu Maker Mom ~
Makin' Yummies. Stuffin' Tummies.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

No, Minnie Mouse Doesn't Live Here

But two tweenagers do! And they love to paint their nails just like Minnie Mouse!

I just love having girls. I'm sure if I had boys I'd say that I love having boys. But, I don't have boys. I have girls. It's cool.
Here's a few things I love about my girls:

My Girls are really silly. Almost always. I like that.
My Girls like to shop. Sometimes. I like that.
My Girls like to cook. Sometimes. I like that too.
My Girls like to talk. Sometimes. I like that.
My Girls like to have their nails done. Sometimes. I like that... sometimes.
My Girls share their emotional side. ALWAYS... I SOMETIMES like that!!!

Yes, having girls is a good thing.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

What a busy weekend! Sleepovers, Junior High Dance, Saturday shopping trip, hubby and I went to a dinner/dance, then took the kids for a fun-filled day at Sea World. Glad I’m at work so I can get some rest!

I’ll be cooking a couple of meals from my new favorite cookbook, Southern Living’s “Busy Moms Weeknight Favorites”. I just love all the delicious recipes from this picture-filled cookbook. Everything is super-easy and very quick, while being extremely flavorful and kid-friendly. If you’d like a copy, I’ve got a link to the left.

Our week will start off super-busy, but then will ease up after Wednesday. The girls have volleyball games tonight, then I’m going to see the musical, Rain, on Tuesday (YIPEE!!!), and to wrap it up the girls have the usual showmanship practice followed by CCD on Wednesday. Looks like we have no scheduled activities for the rest of the week! WOW!!!!

I hope you’ve been sticking with me long enough to learn how important your menu planning is. On busy days, if I didn’t have a menu and ingredients, I just wouldn’t be able to get anything on the table and we'd be eating at Dairy Queen!

Here’s the lineup for the week:

Monday – Porky Stew and biscuits, baked apple dumplings

Tuesday – Crocked Polish sausage, white rice, steamed green beans, cookies

Wednesday – Chicken Burritos (from Southern Living’s Busy Moms Weeknight Favorites cookbook), Spanish Rice, Black beans and pinto beans (from cans), ice cream

Thursday – Chicken & Rice Bake, steamed carrots, sliced tomatoes

Friday – BBQ Muffins (from Southern Living), garden salad, corn on the cob, quick apple pie

Saturday – Chicken Paninis (from Southern Living), potato soup, Root Beer floats

Sunday – Pork Loin Chops with Cinnamon Apples, buttered & parsleyed noodles, steamed peas & carrots, warm brownies with ice cream.


Menu Maker Mom ~
Makin' Yummies. Stuffin' Tummies.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Apples, Apples, Apples! It's an Apple Party!!

Apples sometimes get a bad rap. Didn't the serpent give one to Eve, who gave one to Adam? While we don't know that it was actually an apple, as a child I remember that pictures always showed Eve standing at an apple tree. So unfair. Poor apple tree.
Let's take poor little Snow White, for instance. Wasn't she tricked by that mean 'ole witch, who used an apple as her weapon?
Even the English language has attacked the humble apple. When women have a figure that is somewhat round, aren't they said to have an "apple" shape?
Yes, apples have taken a bad rap. Apples... who have magical qualities. Yes, "magical"! I mean, what other food, when eaten once a day, can keep the doctor away??? What other food is said to represent the American lifestyle: "Baseball, hotdogs, and apple pie".

Fall around much of the country means it's apple-pickin' time! Even here in South Texas, the apples are ready to be picked. My favorite place to visit during the fall is Love Creek Orchards up in Medina, Texas. During the month of October they host a fun Pumpkin Patch and Harvest Celebration that includes a pumpkin patch for the kids, storytellers and other entertainment, pumpkin painting, a petting zoo, hayrides, a hay maze, scarecrow building, TONS of CUTE photo opps for you and your little ones, and of course lots of yummy apple goodies! My favorites are the apple pic (of course) and the apple ice cream. MMM-Good!

If you'd like to check out Love Creek Orchards, click here for more info.

Yes, it's Apple Season! But besides for the daily healthy munch, what else can we do with all those apples? Well here's a list of ideas:

Apple Chip Cake
Apple Dumplings
Fried apples served with Pork Loin
Apple Enchiladas
Apple Ice Cream
Crockpot Apple Butter
Apple Pie Filling (fill the freezer with this stuff for year-round apple pies!!)
Dried apples for snacking or for MYO (make your own) Instant Oatmeal Packets
Apple Vodka
Fresh apple salads
Apple Chutney

The list could go on and on! In fact, click here for even more recipes, ideas, kids coloring pages, and general information about the good 'ole apple!

Do you have any recipes or ideas to add? Please comment with your links!

Since apples are on sale this week at HEB, I'll be posting a few YUMMY recipes. Think I'll include the freezer Apple Pie Filling recipe (use for pie or Enchiladas), instructions for drying apples (and a recipe for the Instant Oatmeal Packets), Apple Vodka recipe, and Apple Ice Cream recipe.

Menu Maker Mom~
Makin' Yummies. Stuffin' Tummies.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Does anyone out there know what kind of mushrooms these are??? They just sort of popped up over the last couple of days. They are so weird!

These 'shrooms are huge! I wear a size 7 shoe, and look at how big those fungi are!!!


Menu Maker Mom ~
Makin' Yummies. Stuffin' Tummies.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The MAKE-A-MENU Summary

Hi Friends,

For those of you who have been using my Make-a-Menu system, and for those of you who are new to the Make-a-Menu way of life, I thought I'd offer up a quick summary. Sometimes having just a few abbreviated steps helps to keep it all in order. You can print this out and hang it on your fridge or put it in the front of your Make-a-Menu Notebook.

By the way, I'll be starting a quick series next week on cooking for the holidays. You can either add this to your Make-a-Menu Binder or you can create a separate binder just for holidays. Hang with me and we will make life in the kitchen easier step-by-step!


How to Make-a-Menu:

1.) Print out a blank calendar.
2.) Make a list of what everyone in the family likes. Don't guess. Ask them.
3.) Using your calendar, assign a theme to each day of the week. (Mon is soup, Wed is Mexican, etc.)
4.) Using your list of favorites, start filling in your calendar, taking your busy schedule into consideration.
5.) On shopping day, check to see that you have all the ingredients necessary. If not, add them to your shopping list.


If you'd like to learn more details about the Make-a-Menu Calendar or the Make-a-Menu Notebook, click here. I'll teach you to start saving time in the kitchen and how to save mucho dinero by shopping the loss leaders.

Menu Maker Mom ~
Makin' Yummies. Stuffin' Tummies.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Okay, Okay.... Please forgive me... I'm sorry... I never posted those blasted chicken recipes! My day job really gets in the way of my recipe posting! I just wish I'd win the lottery... Okay... I know... You have to actually play the lottery if you expect to win!!!

Well, I promise to get you some new recipes this week. Really!

In the meantime, here's what we'll be eating around here this week:

Monday - Volleyball Game Day - Venison Chili (Thanks, Deanna, for the venison!!)
Tuesday - Spaghetti and meatballs, garden salad, garlic bread
Wednesday - Enchilada Casserole, green beans, tortillas
Thursday - Chix 'N Dumplin's!
Friday - Stuffed Taters and Salad, lemonade!
Saturday - Mom & Dad are going out!


Here's a recipe I think you'll enjoy:

Enchilada Casserole

2 lb. ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1 (10-3/4 oz.) can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 (10-3/4 oz.) can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 (15-oz.) can Enchilada Sauce
2 cups Cheddar cheese, grated
1 pkg. (12) corn tortillas

1. Brown ground beef and onion.
2. Stir in Enchilada sauce and soups.
3. In a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish, layer the tortillas, sauce, and cheese. Be sure to start with a thin layer of sauce. Ending with cheese.
4. Bake at 325, covered, for 45 minutes; uncover and bake 15 minutes longer. Makes 8-10 servings.

** You can make this in two 9 x 9 pans and freeze one for eating later. Just thaw and bake as directed.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

This week we're going healthy at Menu Maker Mom's house. I've started the Flat Belly Diet, or as I'll call it, the FBD, and I'm looking forward to some tasty and healthy MUFAs. "What in the world is a MUFA," you ask? Well, it's monounsaturated fat, but it's more FUN to call it a MUFA! You say it like this: "moo-fah".

I just love saying it. It's so much fun!!...


Mufas are yummy, delicious foods like avacados, olives, nuts and seeds. Oils like olive oil and canola oil are also included. These fats are good for you and make foods taste yummy. Two of the principles of the Flat Belly Diet are that you consume one MUFA with each meal and that you consume four 400-calorie meals per day. Cool. I can do that!

I started the FBD this morning, and I'll re-evaluate it in 32 days, which will be on November 5th. Hopefully by then I will have lost at least 15 pounds and be almost near my goal of 25 pounds of weight loss.

I hope you'll follow me over the next few weeks! Be sure to comment with ENCOURAGEMENT, as I will need it. If you want to join me, let me encourage you too! If you want more information about FBD, you can pick up the diet book or cookbook. (I have a link in the "MMM Favorites" section of my sidebar).


Monday: Marinated and Grilled chicken breasts, steamed green beens, oven-roasted red potatoes (MUFA - olive oil)
Tuesday: Pan-seared tilapia, herbed brown rice, sauteed mushrooms, steamed English peas (MUFA - olive oil)
Wednesday: Leftover/freezer buffet! (Busy night)
Thursday: Grilled herbed salmon in foil packets, sauteed yellow squash and onions, herbed brown rice, yellow corn for kids (MUFA - olive oil)
Friday: Chicken Tortilla Soup (MUFA - avacado)
Saturday: Out to dinner with hubby and kids (I'll choose wisely!!)
Sunday: Chix n' Dumplin's, Walking Salad


Menu Maker Mom ~
Makin' Yummies. Stuffin' Tummies.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hard Life Lessons ~ To Everything There is a Purpose

“Mom, why do people take what isn’t theirs?!”, my daughter, who was hurt and feeling disbelief at being robbed, begged me to explain. She continued, “I worked hard to get that phone, and now someone has taken it away. I don’t understand why someone thinks they have to right to steal my stuff!”

Last Monday evening, during both my daughters’ volleyball game, one of their cell phones was stolen. For both my daughters, this was their first experience with the theft and the blatant dishonesty of others. How could I give a good answer to her questions that would make sense out of it all? How could I help her understand that we live in a world that doesn’t always respect the hard work of others? How could I explain that a segment of society believes, “If I want it, I’ll just take it”? And how could I settle my own gnawing disappointment in knowing that bit-by-bit, my daughters’ innocence is being chipped away?

My husband and I had our girls wait until the ripe old age of 12 before they were given the privilege of having the luxury of owning cell phones. They each saved their birthday money and hard-earned report card earnings until they had enough savings to purchase the phones they’d been planning and waiting patiently for. We agreed to purchase the monthly service as their reward for earning awesome grades (all A’s!) and having great behavior. The phones were definitely earned by both hard-working girls!

Work. As parents, we have modeled the value of work, and they have seen us work for what we have. They know that to have something means to work and earn it.

Yes, they earned the phones. Now someone else has robbed them of their earnings, and we feel violated. Yes, the phone is just a material thing, just a belonging. But, it’s OUR material thing, OUR belonging.

We’ve already replaced the phone with another. Unfortunately, the “new” phone isn’t really new. It’s one of our old phones and not the nice touch-screen that she worked so hard to buy. Our daughter has accepted the circumstance, and is moving on, but the sting is still there.

I feel saddened that my daughters experienced this crime. (Yes, it is a crime.) But, since I believe that God has a purpose in everything, I’m grateful for the unfortunate lesson they learned, but saddened to be reminded that we live in a world where these types of lessons are necessary.

My girls learned that in this world, there are those who work and those who take. They learned that material belongings are temporary. They learned that they will have to be wary as they go through life, for while there are many who are good; there are many who are not good.

Finally, they learned what it feels like to be victimized. Fortunately, this knowledge will lead them to have compassion for others who are also dealt with the negative circumstance of being victimized in some way.

It is true that character and virtue are developed through trials. It is true that to everything there is a purpose. And as hard as it is sometimes, we give thanks for everything.