Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: CROUTONS!

Don't you just love croutons?  I mean really, what's a garden salad without those little crunchy squares of flavored bread?  Luckily for me I almost always have a stash.  After all, there's always a couple of slices of left over bread or rolls to be dealt with.  With these little bits of bread, my freezer stays stocked with bread crumbs and croutons!

Here's last night's leftover sliced and buttered bread.  It sure was good!  Now, it just sits and waits to be forgotten and thrown away.  But not in this house!  I'll give it a second life as crunchy croutons.

This is so simple!  Just cut the bread into small 1/2" squares.  Spray the bread cubes liberally with non-stick spray and sprinkle with your favorite seasonings.  I used garlic salt and italian seasoning.  Mix the bread cubes with your hands to distribute the spices.  Spray some more and sprinkle some more, if you need to. 

Spread the bread cubes evenly on a cookie sheet, broiler pan, or any other flat pan that can go into the oven.  Set the oven temp at 250 degrees F.  Bake for about half an hour to 45 minutes.  Basically bake until the bread cubes looks like croutons!

Cool your croutons before storing them in a tightly sealed container.  I store mine in the freezer, just to be safe.  Can't wait to add them to my salads this week!


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

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Menu Plan Monday:: Sun, June 27 - Sat, July 3

Welcome to Menu Plan Monday at Menu Maker Mom!  For those of you who are new, Menu Plan Monday is hosted by OrgJunkie.  Stop by and visit!

It'll be an easy week for the cook (that's ME!  Menu Maker Mom!) around here.  Taking the girlies to Camp Nana and Grandpa for a few days of fun and games, which will give MMM time to paint the hallway.  I love having a summer painting project, big or small.  It makes the house smell fresh and somewhat new for a couple of weeks.  When I head back to work in the fall, I will look back at my painted hall and feel like I really accomplished something.  It's proof that I was productive!

I'll be cooking just for my man this week, until the girls come home.  I say that I'll be cooking "for" him for two reasons:  First, truth be known, when the kids are gone I wouldn't cook at all if hubs didn't need to be fed.  I could survive on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and bowls of cereal easily!  Second, I LIKE doing this for him.  He appreciates it, and it makes me feel good to make him happy.  I hope he feels the same happiness knowing that I appreciate it when he mows the lawn or washes the dishes!

To those of you who aren't married, or maybe are newly married, it might seem rather silly to find so much joy in mundane tasks like cooking a meal or washing a dish.  It took my husband quite a few years to begin to understand that the way to a woman's heart is not by buying her expensive jewelry, even though a nice bauble here and there is VERY appreciated.  Truly, the way to her heart is through the dish water! 

Yes, it's those mundane tasks like cooking, mowing, washing dishes, and folding clothes that when done for each other can lead to warm, fuzzy, loving feelings... sometimes even HOT feelings!!  If so many couples would understand this concept, think of all the marriages would be saved.  :)

Sorry for being so sappy.  Hmmm....  Sappy rhymes with happy. 


Well, here's what I'm servin' up this week:

Sunday - Homemade pizza made on crescent dough, Garden salad

Monday - Bean and Cheese Nachos with fresh, homemade salsa

Tuesday - Chef Salads with fresh rolls

Wednesday - Grilled Hamburger Patties, Country Green Beans and fresh New Potatoes

Thursday - Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders, sliced fresh tomatoes, macaroni-'n-cheese

Friday - Spaghetti and meatballs, salad, garlic bread

Saturday - Beef Tacos, Layered Bean Dip, fruit salad


Coming next week:  My Camping Menu (includes breakfasts)


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

Friday, June 25, 2010

9 Ways to Stay Cancer Free - from the Environmental Working Group

~Quoted from the EWG website~

"According to a new report from the President's Cancer Panel, environmental toxins play a significant and under-recognized role in cancer, causing "grievous harm" to untold numbers of people. EWG's own research has found that children are born "pre-polluted" with nearly 300 industrial chemicals, pesticides and contaminants that have been found to cause cancer in lab studies or in people."

"Four of every 10 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes, and two of every 10 will die from it. Beyond talking to your doctor about lifestyle changes that are known to make a difference -- stopping smoking, reducing drinking, losing weight, exercising and eating right -- there are things you can do to reduce your risk."

"Here are some simple ways you can reduce your exposure to potentially cancer-causing chemicals:"

"1. Filter your tap water. Common carcinogens in tap water include arsenic, chromium, and chemical byproducts that form when water is disinfected. A simple carbon tap-mounted filter or pitcher can help reduce the levels of some of these contaminants. If your water is polluted with arsenic or chromium, a reverse osmosis filter will help. Learn about your tap water and home water filters at EWG's National Tap Water Database."

"2. Seal outdoor wooden decks and play sets. Those built before 2005 are likely coated with an arsenic pesticide that can stick to hands and clothing. Learn more from EWG."

"3. Cut down on stain- and grease-proofing chemicals. "Fluorochemicals" related to Teflon and Scotchgard are used in stain repellants on carpets and couches and in greaseproof coatings for packaged and fast foods. To avoid them, avoid greasy packaged foods and say no to optional stain treatments in the home."

"4. Stay safe in the sun. More than one million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year. To protect your skin from the sun's cancer-causing ultraviolet (UV) radiation, seek shade, wear protective clothing and use a safe and effective sunscreen from EWG's sunscreen database."

"5. Cut down on fatty meat and high-fat dairy products. Long-lasting cancer-causing pollutants like dioxins and PCBs accumulate in the food chain and concentrate in animal fat."  (Addition from MMM:  buy organic, grass fed beef and organic, free range chicken when possible.)

"6. Eat EWG's Clean 15. Many pesticides have been linked to cancer. Eating from EWG's Clean 15 list of the least contaminated fruits and vegetables will help cut your pesticide exposures. (And for EWG's Dirty Dozen, buy organic.) Learn more at EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides."

"7. Cut your exposures to BPA. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a synthetic estrogen found in some hard plastic water bottles, canned infant formula, and canned foods. Some of these chemicals cause cancer in lab studies. To avoid them, eat fewer canned foods, breast feed your baby or use powdered formula, and choose water bottles free of BPA. Get EWG's tips to avoid it."  (Addition by MMM:  Remove plastic from your kitchen.  I use good old-fashioned glass and pyrex containers.)

"8. Avoid carcinogens in cosmetics. Use EWG's Skin Deep cosmetic database to find products free of chemicals known or suspected to cause cancer. When you're shopping, don't buy products that list ingredients with "PEG" or "-eth" in their name."

"9. Read the warnings. Some products list warnings of cancer risks -- read the label before you buy. Californians will see a "Proposition 65" warning label on products that contain chemicals the state has identified as cancer-causing."


Stay Healthy!

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

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Take a look at that!!!  Do you know what it is?  BEES!!!!  Millions of them!!  And guess where they were?  On a branch of a tree in my front yard, right next to my driveway... where I had just parked my car!!!  Yes ~ They were right next to my car which held 3 noisy teenage girls, who poured out the doors, laughing, yelling, slamming those doors, and running.  YIKES!!!

The bees formed a dripping ball around the branch.  I'm assuming they were surrounding their queen.  They were calm and didn't to fly about much.  I prayed that if they decided to swarm about that they were not the aggressive type.  My mother-in-law had some bees chase her a couple of years ago.  She was mowing the lawn with the riding lawn mower, and the vibration must have aggravated some nearby bees.  As they began to swarm her, she hopped off the mower and ran toward the house.  All the while, the bees continued to chase her and swarm around her head.

She ran through the house toward the bathroom, still being chased.  A few bees still swarmed around her head as she ran.  After she dropped to the carpet and began to roll, the last remaining bees flew off.  My mother-in-law stood up shaken and stung.

As I looked at our buzzing, branch hugging bees, the thought of them possibly deciding to chase me gave me the chills, so I quickly went back into my house after snapping this photo!

After about an hour, I went back outside to take another look at our buzzing bees.  They were gone.  I guess our tree was just a rest stop for them as they travelled to their final destination.  Wherever they ended up, I hope the honey was good!

In honor of our flying guests, I offer my favorite bread recipe.  I make my bread in a automatic bread maker, and it makes my whole house smell so yummy.  Once done, it doesn't last long around here, as my hubby and daughters quicly slice the warm, yeasty bread and slather it with real butter and local, organic honey.  YUMMM!!!



1 pkg. yeast
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2-1/2 cups bread flour
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. butter
1 egg (room temperature)
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. warm water

Put dry ingredients into automatic bread maker.  Mix wet ingredients in a small bowl.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mix.  Bake the bread on the Whole Wheat setting of your bread maker.

Serve with butter and honey!


If you enjoy making this bread, you might consider getting several Zip-Lock baggies and filling each with the measured out dry ingredients.   You can be making bread every few days, if you like, and your family will once again give you the MAMA!!!  (Don't forget ~ that means Most Awesome Mother Award!!!)

There are lots of bread makers on the market, and you can spend a little or a lot.  Here are a couple of examples:

And Soooo  M-M-M Good!!!


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

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Father's Day Shrimp Boil

Hello, my old friends! It's me, Menu Maker Mom!!

I'm sorry it's been so long since I've shared. As an apology, I offer you my recipe for our shrimp boil!

This is such a fun party, and everyone has a great time. You can never go wrong when you offer shrimp and cold beer to your family and friends! Oh, and don't forget the mimosas... That's what we had, and they were so very refreshing!

This is a fun activity for a summer evening, and really pretty easy to do.  The aroma is very strong, so I recommend that you do this outside in a turkey fryer, and not in your kitchen with a large stockpot.  The most important part of the process is the timing.  Follow the timing that I list and it will all be cooked to perfection!

Gallon-size zip lock bags
Kitchen Timer
Boiling Basket
Turkey Fryer

INGREDIENTS (I put the meat and veggies into large Zip-Lock bags, so they are ready to be emptied at the right time) :

2 Crab 'n Shrimp Boil bags by Zatarain
1 bottle Crab 'n Shrimp Boil oil by Zatarain
1 cup salt
3 large onions, peeled and cut in half
2 bulbs garlic, top cut off (don't separate the cloves, leave whole)
2 lemons, cut in quarters
10 ears corn, shucked and cut in half (can use frozen halves)
3 pounds link sausage (down here we like Polock's Wedding Sausage!)
4 pounds raw shrimp, large size without heads
3 pound bag small red potatoes

Cocktail sauce
Lemons, cut into wedges

1. Set up the turkey fryer with the boiling basket. Fill with water and set it on the fire. Bring water to a boil.
2. Once water boils, add the 2 bags of Crab 'n Shrimp Boil, the bottle of Crab 'n Shrimp Boil oil, the salt, and the garlic. BOIL 15 MINUTES.
3. Add the potatoes. BOIL 7 MINUTES.
4. Add the corn. BOIL 5 MINUTES.
5. Add the sausage. BOIL 5 MINUTES.
6. Add the lemons and onions. BOIL 3 MINUTES.
7. Add the shrimp. BOIL 3 MINUTES.
8. Strain out the water and empty all the goodies in one of the following two ways:
     (a) If you are serving from a buffet-type table, pour the shrimp and goodies into the aluminum turkey pan. You can see from our photo that we served this way, as we had other salads and sides that required a plate and fork.
     (b) If you are serving the traditional way, cover a table with several layers of newspaper. Pour the shrimp and goodies down the table. Everyone eats with their hands! When done, wad up the paper and all the mess and toss into the garbage can! Easy!

Be sure to have cocktail sauce and fresh lemon wedges on the table.  A little Tobasco sauce is good too!

Hope you have a chance to try this out. It is so much fun and gets everyone involved in some way. Be sure to have lots of ice cold beer on hand and take plenty of photos.

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