Mama Duck
I had a head start this week as one of my SIL's had their new baby girl 6 weeks early. I wanted to make a few nights worth of meals to help her as this was quite unexpected. Thankfully mom and baby are doing just fine. What I did last night was to make doubles of 5 meals. This gave me 5 for her and her family and 5 for us.

Sunday - Beef stroganoff over noodles
Monday - Moo shu beef with rice
Tuesday - Homemade chicken noodle soup
Wednesday - chicken enchiladas
Thursday - beef stew
Friday - take out
Saturday - spaghetti and meatballs
Mama Duck
I need 5 large baskets and 3 small ones. The large ones are for families and the small ones for couples or individuals.

Throughout the year I've tried to come up with ideas for different baskets.

I'm now thinking of drawing on my access to excellent quality, inexpensive spices.

I figure I'll make a couple of different types of cookies, Amish Friendship bread, artisan bread, maybe a pie or 2, and then tuck bottles of these spices or hand blended spice mixes into the baskets.

Spritz - always one of my signature Christmas cookies
Pecan Pie bars - I love pecan pie and this is a less expensive version
Kirsten's white choc/cranberry cookies
No fail Sugar Cookies
Something gluten free for one SIL's boyfriend and one of Joe's cousins

oh and if you like to bake cookies and find yourself scrambling to make them for bake sales, school parties or unexpected times... I saw a great tip today. Make a batch.. bake half and freeze half. This will save you the hassle of making a from scratch batch every time. No special need? then spoil your family with fresh baked cookies for a before bedtime snack.


Amish Friendship Bread - a friend, appropriately enough, introduced me to this yummy cinnamon bread 3 or 4 years ago. Makes a wonderful treat to give along with some starter batter. first link is for the starter... this is the recipe to make the bread

Kolaches? or pies - have to look on this one as well. Apple? Lemon? chocolate peppermint?

Spice jars or mixes:
Greek Seasoning
Bouqet Garni - I'll make small bundles and put them in a larger container
Cocoa BBQ mix
Garam Masala - I;ll admit that this recipe is going here.. but I'm cheating and using the organic mix from my fav natural food store
Dry rub for ribs

Jar of Homemade eggnog - note that I am not going to use the amount of rum they have in here. I'm afraid I'd get drunk from the smell, lol.

*added 11/28*
Found some cute additions in a Woman's Day Special Edition magazine I picked up tonight. I'm also adding small bags of homemade marshmallows and peppermint marble fudge and a few gingerbread men to each basket.*

Now to also cut costs I need to come up with low cost packagings. Hopefully the dollar store will contain all I need. If I can find it I'm thinking of using a large inexpensive bowl in red or green. I have one that I bought for $1 and the sides are very flexible.. however it makes a great garbage bowl. Rachel Ray uses one on her show and it made so much sense to me that I found a cheap bowl for the same idea. The bowl I have is large and would actually fit all that's listed above.

If not the bowl I want to get larger, sturdy carboard boxes and then wrap them. This way it's less clutter which is another thing I try not to contribute to.

*added 11/28 - I also was looking for ideas while at the store tonight. I realized I have large plate chargers (large decorative plates that go under a regular dinner plate for a little more pizazz) in a distressed gold color. They will make PERFECT gift plates. I think I have 8 of them. I don't use them and the dishes I bought them to go with are being given away. Partly for space, partly because we never use them and partly because I've decided that I want fine china.. even if it takes me years to get a full set.*
Mama Duck
recipe #1 - Au Gratin Turkey Skillet

recipe #2 - Turkey enchiladas

recipe #3 - Turkey pot pie

recipe #4 - Turkey soup

all of these will be made and then frozen at the time the turkey is cooked. In the past I've just put extra meat in the freezer, but I never like how it cooks up after. I actually have a long weekend next week and will probably cook the turkey on Thursday and prep and freeze all of this on Friday. I like turkey.. but not every night for a week, lol.
Mama Duck
Yummmmmmm.... I love turkey and have a nice little 15lb bird sitting in my freezer. Of course I'm going to a SIL's house for Thanksgiving dinner...and there are only 3 of us here. Thats a lot of turkey to plan with, lol.

The drumsticks and some breast meat will go to my mom. Her over recently broke and she's still deciding on what new one she wants.

That still leaves a lot of turkey. I'm going to be starting 2 new categories with links on the side. One will be for turkey leftovers and the other is for my Christmas treat baskets that I prefer to give as gifts.

Let's get this week's menu done:

I have to admit I've gotten off easy the last few days. Joe's bday was yesterday and we had dinner at the IL's last night. Friday he wanted  a stromboli instead of sandwhiches and tonight my mom wants to take us out to dinner for Joe's bday.

Sunday - Dinner out thanks to my Mom
Monday - Spaghetti and Meatballs - salad
Tuesday - Sweet and sour pork over rice - steamed veggies
Wednesday - sandwiches with potato chips maybe.. we'll see how willing I am when I get to the store
Thursday -Turkey and all the trimmings!
Friday - turkey enchilada's
Saturday - chicken parm
Mama Duck
Sunday - Frozen lasagna/tossed salad. Joe asked for this and who am I to argue a night off, lol
Monday - left overs - i'm working late this Monday
Tuesday - Slow cooker Chicken Stroganoff
Wednesday - take out
Thursday - BBQ Pork Sandwiches
Friday - sandwiches and potato soup
Saturday -Dinner at the IL's for Joe's bday
Mama Duck
I made the garlic soup this evening for dinner. Joe liked it, I thought it was ok. Remember though that I'm not a big fan of a lot of garlic.

a couple of hours later we are in agreement that it was too much for us. Neither of our stomachs are feeling really good. It was just too heavy on garlic for us.
Mama Duck
This week we have inspiration and ideas from a few places.

The first being one of our preferred grocery stores that is offering 4 different bulk meat packages. I just had to order 1 day in advance. I chose the largest because you know how much I like to save money and buy meats in bulk. For $79.99 + tax I got:

(all weights are approx)
4lb 80% ground beef
3.6 lb beef shoulder steaks
4 lb beef chuck roast
7.75lb butt portion ham
3.5 lb assorted pork chops
2lbs beef hotdogs
2lbs smoked bacon
8lb roaster chicken
4lb split chicken breasts

so thats about 41lbs of assorted meats for $1.90lb! I know some of them I can get on sale for less then $1.99lb, however others I can't and I think this is balancing out nicely.

My other preferred grocery store is having some great sales as well
bnls chicken breasts $1.79lb.
and 80% lean ground beef - $1.79lb

I can only buy one package of each at a time, but thats ok.

Next inspiration was from a coworker. She was talking to a patient who was telling her about some awesome cream of garlic soup she had at a local restaurant. So while I'm not generally a huge fan of strong garlic taste.. I am now in search for a recipe. This is the next one to try

My biggest challenge is now deciding what to make with all my options, lol.

Sunday - Meatloaf with mashed potatoes, green bean almondine
Monday - Moo Shu Pork, veggie undecided
Tuesday - Cream of Potato Soup with cheddar cheese and bacon
Wednesday - Hot dogs, corn
Thursday - Malaysian Fried Chicken, rice, steamed veggies
Friday - Chicken Breasts with Balsamic Glaze , broccoli - if I have to eat green beans.. Joe can eat broccoli
Saturday - Cream of Garlic soup and sandwiches
Mama Duck
I have a big package of chicken breasts and 1 small steak. Let's see how I do...

Sunday - Garlic baked chicken breasts with french onion soup
Monday - Best baked chicken with major changes as suggested due to the extremely high salt content
Tuesday- moo shu beef
Wednesday - baked potato soup - recipe below
Thursday - malaysian fried chicken

this is still a work in progress this week. I'm just feeling very indecisive and unmotivated to plan this week. maybe my planning brains is still on 'vacation' from last week, ,lol

Baked potato soup:

1 large onion
3 medium potatoes
4 tbsp butter
4 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp dill weed

1 cup milk with 2 tbsp corn startch

sour cream
cheddar cheese
crumpled bacon

Sautee onion in butter till transluscent over medium heat
add peeled and chopped potatoes and bay leaf
sautee for another 2-3 minutes, you may need to stir to keep from burning
cover with chicken stock (please use stock - not broth) and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked thru.
stir in salt and dillweed
take out bay leaf.
stir milk and corn starch together and add mixture to soup

i used a potato masher to make it a creamy/chunky texture

top with sour cream, cheese and bacon as desired
Mama Duck
Yep, I'm slacking again this week.

I havent' been feeling great and had a week where I needed to work 2 late nights. We decided to mostly do sandwiches and leftovers. Last night I did splurge and made a nice meatloaf with baked potatoes. Tonight is dinner at the IL's.

I'll work on next week's menu and stop slacking ;)
Mama Duck
Brrrrrrrrr.... we had a lovely week and a half or so of perfect weather. Mid to upper 70's during the day and down to the 50's at night.

Now we're in the 50's for the day and 30's at night. Definitely time to break out the cold weather recipes! The nice part about warm weather recipes means running the oven more... which helps heat my house and lowers the use of that oh so expensive fuel oil, lol.

I'm going to make this for a cold weather treat. Hopefully I'll be able to refrigerate it so I can make a large batch and then heat up in the microwave.

You may have noticed that last weeks menu changed a bit. It was a weird week. I had a HUGE work event on Wednesday night. That wore me out and left me just flat out exhausted for 2 days. Plus Tuesday was our wedding anniversary and we ended up buying an Olive Garden Dinner last night. I didn't really want to, but Joe was determined.. I've come to realize he's the one that likes to eat out more then me. The good thing is that I tried a couple of great comfort food recipes that were so easy!

Sunday - sausage and penne pasta with steamed broccoli tossed in oyster sauce
Monday - Beef Stoganoff over noodles
Tuesday - Kate's baked mac and cheese - recipe below
Wednesday - Frozen Bertolli meal - will update after grocery shopping today
Thursday -Salisbury steaks and mashed potatoes
Friday - Slow cooker turkey chili with home made taco bread
Saturday - Slow cooker Jambalaya

Kate's Mac and Cheese - very easy and oh so good. The cheese sauce also makes a nice cheese soup however I'd recommend using 2TBS of cornstarch so it's not quite as thick.

4tbsp corn starch
1tsp salt
1tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp pepper
3 3/4 cups milk
4 cups (16 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
entire box of elbow mac (16 oz)

1. in med saucepan combine first 4 ingredients; stir
in milk; stirring constantly, bring to boil over
med/high heat and boil 1 minute. remove from heat
2.stir in 1 3/4 cup cheese until melted. add elbows
(already cooked). pour into greased 2qt casserole
dish. sprinkle with reserved cheese.
3.bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 25 min or until
lightly browned.
4-6 servings
Mama Duck
Sunday - Quiche Lorraine
Monday - Dinner at In-laws
Tuesday -Kates Mac and cheese
Wednesday- Take out at arby's for me.. Joe was supposed to have soup, ended up with sub from pizza shop
Thursday - Salisbury steaks with leftover mac and cheese
Friday- Malaysian Fried Chicken with rice
Saturday - take out from Olive Garden

Broccoli rabe is on SALE!!! whoooo hooooo! up to 4lbs for only $.99 lb. yummmmmmm

Shopping list:
dishwasher detergent
fabric softner?
toilet paper
lysol wipes?
Mama Duck
This morning I was packing lunch for my son to take to daycare. He went to the dr yesterday and has a very sore throat from the looks of it. I wanted to pack soft, soothing foods to eat.

I remembered that I had a container of cottage cheese I wanted to use in the stuffed shells. JP was so sick on Sunday I never made them. I pulled the container out to use for some of his lunch and noticed it looked funny when I opened it.

Turns out I'd bought cottage cheese with pineapple in it, lol. Fine in general as I love that... but not exactly stuffed shell friendly.
Mama Duck
I don't have to do much grocery shopping at all this week. I think I'll keep planning to shop for 2 weeks at a time. Right now I'm only running low on bread. I may take JP to Panera Bread tomorrow and see if I can tempt him with a healthier bread.

I got a bunch of coupons from my mom and now need to clip them. I think that's my least favorite part of saving with coupons. I also still need a coupon holder. I want to get a big super organizer.. but let's face it... i'd be smarter to start small and see if I keep with it. I'm actually going to start with a few envelopes, can't get much simpler then that, lol.

Sunday - stuffed shells
monday - pizza or take out - may make something instead - we did take out twice last week
tuesday – moo shu beef
wednesday - frozen encore entree - i don't get home till 7:30.. at least JOe can microwave
thursday - soft chicken tacos - not using a recipe for this... just some chicken cooked in taco sauce, soft tortillas, olives, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream
friday - beef stew
saturday - Kate's bbq chicken pizza - just pizza dough topped with bbq sauce, shredded chicken and mozz cheese. thanks for the recipe and idea Kate :)

I'm also looking for a specific recipe. If anyone reading this can help he I'd be so happy.

I am continuing to make weekly treats for our office. This past week was apple squares and they went over very well. Next week I'm making oatmeal cookies. However I'd like to do them with a twist. This is the recipe help I need. I actually want to make a soft gingerbread oatmeal cookie. Anyone have a good recipe?

Sigh... I asked Joe to pick up 2 things on his way home. $45.00 later and he forgot one of them. NO wonder i have to keep cutting costs, he's the one overdoing them.
Mama Duck
Ahhhhhhh colder weather is finally here. I know in a few months I'll be complaining about heating costs, but for now I'll enjoy the seasonal weather.

Joe and I are in a battle of sorts these days. I'm for cutting costs more and more and he thinks our spending is fine. I highly disagree. I think that with what we each spend on 'little things' or extra trips we probably spend $150.00 a WEEK on groceries... that is just way too high for 2 adults and a toddler.

I went shopping on Friday since I knew my usual grocery store was having good sales. I was thrilled with my positive trip. Step one was getting the spending to around the idea of what I want budgetted. With the sales I decided to shop for 2 weeks. Funny but thats what my mom always did when we were growing up and it was just as easy. If I time it right I'll always hit the sales. I also have decided to become a coupon fan. I spent an insane amount of time on Thursday trying to find coupons. I found many and printed them out. Then remembered my list and forgot the coupons. Oh well.. it's once again a first step. My grocery total for 2 adults and one toddler.. for a little over 2 weeks worth of dinners.. breakfasts.. and most lunches....was $138.00! I've been spending that or more each WEEK! To me this is a big thing.. but it usually doesn't take much to excite me these days, lol.

Sunday - Chicken Breast with Balsamic Glaze
Monday - Pizza
Tuesday - Kielbasi and sauerkraut
Wednesday - Chicken and dumplings - slow cooker
Thursday - Spaghetti and Meatballs
Friday - Beef stroganoff over noodles
Saturday - Mediterranean chicken wraps

as usual a couple of other trips have been made by Joe. I wish he'd just tell me what he wants s I can pick it up when I go. He spent about $32.. still keeping us at a new lower level... around $75 per week. Hopefully we can get thru to next week without spending much more.
Mama Duck
This is cross posted from my regular blog as it was too funny not to share, and I know some people don't see the other.......

The following conversation came to me in an email this morning and just cracked me up. Granted I am working on sleep deprivation... and its my morning to be at work by 6:30am (6:38 was today - but I was still in first, lol).

The conversation was started last night btwn some friends and I over what we made for dinner last night. Since I do meal planning, I've gotten back into different dishes. The majority of these are very easy but sound impressive. Sunday's I do try to do something a bit more special....

......I know! Talking to Kelly is like being in one of those Lean Cuisine commercials.

Me: I had sloppy joe's

Kate: I had frozen ravioli

Kelly: I had Balsamic chicken with Balsamic reduction fancy stuff and mashed things (the mashed things were seasoned and mashed chickpeas)

If it makes anyone feel better tonight's meal is ....... Pizza, lol

Mama Duck

My boss has expressed an interest in my providing a fresh baked treat in the office for our patients. Not too overwhelming as it's any day I choose and only 1 day a week. As I'm trying to re-establish a name as a baker it benefits me as well. This week I chose to make No Fail Sugar Cookies with a topping of granulated white sugar and granulated evaportated cane juice. The cane juice gives the cookies a mild maple flavor. They went over very well. here's the recipe I used, this was found on Cake

No Fail Sugar Cookies

Difficulty: Easy

This recipe is GREAT when using complex cookie cutters. The dough holds its' shape and won't spread during baking. Make sure you let your oven preheat for at least 1/2 hour before baking these or any other cookies.
6 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract or desired flavoring (I like almond myself)
1 tsp. salt
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Mix dry ingredients and add a little at a time to butter mixture. Mix until flour is completely incorporated and the dough comes together.

Chill for 1 to 2 hours (or see Hint below)

Roll to desired thickness and cut into desired shapes. Bake on ungreased baking sheet at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until just beginning to turn brown around the edges. This recipe can make up to 5-dozen 3" cookies.

HINT: Rolling Out Dough Without the Mess -- Rather than wait for your cookie dough to
chill, take the freshly made dough and place a glob between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll it out to the desired thickness then place the dough and paper on a cookie sheet and pop it into the refrigerator. Continue rolling out your dough between sheets of paper until you have used it all. By the time you are finished, the first batch will be completely chilled and ready to cut. Reroll leftover dough and repeat the process! An added bonus is that you are not adding any additional flour to your cookies.

The hint at the bottom works wonders, not only is there less mess.. but it;s faster and more efficient. I actually added my topping after they were baked and cooled. I used a simple sugar glaze brushed on with a pastry brush. I had the cookies on a cooling sheet over a baking pan and then liberally covered them with a half and half mix of sugar and evaporated cane juice. Shake off the excess.. put back into your container holding the mix and repeat until all cookies are covered. I'm making another batch of these this week to send to troops overseas for Hope the officer rcving them likes them as much.
Mama Duck
Sunday - Penne pasta with sausage - I had to dig to find this again. It's a great hearty meal.
Monday - Pizza - you get better prices on a Monday then on a Friday or Saturday
Tuesday - lol -my world renowned Beef Stroganoff - hey if you can't laugh at yourself who can you laugh at? we love this with lots of sauteed onions
Wednesday - frozen lasagna - not mine.. store bought
Thursday - malaysian fried chicken
Friday - Macaroni and cheese
Saturday - Eggs, pancakes, sausage or bacon... we have always enjoyed a big breakfast out, but our schedules never allow us to do it anymore. Maybe I'll even make omelets, lol
Mama Duck
What the heck - let's toss everything in one post, lol.

The weather is turning cooler and my thoughts are going to heartier, warming meals. This time of year is so changeable that I may be starting too early though, lol.

Lost the shopping list somewhere btwn the house and the store... menu has changed...

Sunday - turkey chili with rice
Monday - Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup - ok I know you're looking at the grilled cheese sandwich link and thinking I'm nuts. A 'RECIPE' is needed for grilled cheese? its more for a different way to cook them that I'm trying out, lol.
Tuesday - Slow Cooker Chicken and dumplings
Wednesday - chicken parm and mac and cheese - frozen entrees
Thursday - moo shu chicken - oops - corrected wrong link, now this goes to the moo shu recipe i use, lol
Friday - kielbasi and saurekraut
Saturday - chicken enchiladas

Shopping List
Ground turkey - $1.99 per frozen tube - 2 tubes = $3.84
Split chicken breast - $1.49lb - $7.50
26 oz can diced tomatoes - $2.00? - $2.00
1 can each pinto and kidney beans - $1.00
3 cans cream of chicken soup $1.50
2 refrigerated containers of bisquit dough $2.48
kielbasi - $2.44
4 oz can green chilis - $1.34
chili mix $1.76
tortillas $2.09
dish soap $1.76
napkins $1.97
McCormick mixes (future meals) $4.00
milk $3.06
peanut butter - organic $3.88
sauerkraut $.62
premade small lasagna - $4.98
misc fruits/veggies $4.97

'planned' list - $51.19

2 caramel apples with nuts - $2.00
espresso coffee - loving my $3.00 yard sale find espresso maker :) - $3.16
oyster sauce - for our always popular malaysian fried chkn $1.78
matchbox cars for "JP" (suuure Joe) $6.00
Deodorant - $1.88
light bulbs - $1.44
funtensils for JP - $2.12
new toothbrish for JP $2.87
parchment paper $ 2.34
candy for Joe $4.98
lipstick (splurge for me) $9.97
water $1.38
mysterycharge - can't figure out or remember what these are - on the receipt its listed as: pfbabybag 2 @$1.50
Pert 1RL 2 @ $.72

$44.36 - I either need to get MUCH better at lists, or I need to set an 'extras' budget. 50% of grocery costs should NOT be 'extra's.

now there is a missing receipt and I've no idea what I did with it. I went to another store for a few more things. I'll up date this when I find it. Some of the items above were updated as I remember what I spent at the other store. The nice thing is that while still way too high for my liking i was determined to do very little shopping next week. I went thru everything we have and planned next weeks meals with whats on hand. The only thing we 'should' need is milk, eggs and bread.. the usuals in the life of a family with a toddler, lol.
Mama Duck
Yes i took a week off, lol. Now to work on this weeks.
Mama Duck
Oops seems I'm a bit late in planning this week. I was so busy on the holiday weekend I never found time to squeeze this planning in. I found recipes that used ingredients I already have at home. We went shopping yesterday with no menu plan in mind so I'm going to keep that as our weekly shopping.

Sunday - easy as we were at a BBQ and didn't have to cook, lol
Monday - Had a late lunch out so we just had ice cream sundaes for dinner.
Tuesday - Honey Baked Chicken
Wednesday-veal parm with frozen veal patties - Joe can handle this one
Thursday-Maple Garlic Marinated Pork
Friday- Cheeseburger pie - good thing Peanut and I are taking up jogging
Saturday- sauteed (we need a grill) chicken breast over salad - malaysian fried chicken? lol

I had a brain storm this week with the malaysian fried chicken we eat so often. I cleaned out a glass salad dressing bottle and made the marinade. I added the oil (1/4 for the pan) to the mix so that it would be pourable. Now I can whip up a dish of this even faster and easier, lol.
Mama Duck
Once again I went over my estimated budget. This was my estimate from the other day with the actual #'s in bold

shopping list: estimated at approx $50 - actually spent: $85.49
frozen veal patties $2.19 $0.00 - didn't have
rolls for meatball parm hero's $2.00 $2.00
small sour cream $.99 $1.19

the meats weren't on sale as expected, I was a day early. Changed some choices based on not wanting to shop twice.
chicken (bnls breasts $1.99/lb) $7.00 Bone-in $1.49lb - $7.73 and $6.23 - 2 pkgs
Ground beef (1.99lb) $6.00 - didn't get
london broil (1.99lb) $4.00 - didn't get
meatloaf seasoning packet - hey not everything is from scratch, lol $2.00 $2.29
butter $2.00 $2.50
half gallon milk $2.00 $2.04
bread $2.00 had to get a couple of varieties - total $6.58
soda $5.00 $4.32
mozz cheese? $2.00 $2.50
peanut butter - health food store $3.50 - had more then i thought - not getting this week
sliced cheese - swiss? $5.00? $5.06
bologna? $4.00 $3.02
bake trays - Gladware microwave safe $2.74 - .90 more at this store - didn't get
foil broiler tray - $2.00 - didn't get
cereal for JP $1.50 $3.19 - got a larger size
lettuce - didn't get
cucumbers - didn't get
tomatoes -$1.76
fresh fruit $ 4.72 - bananas, peaches, mango, orange
choc sauce - sugar free $1.66

actual cost: $56.79

items not on original list:
veggies $4.89 onions, corn, carrots
laughing cow baby cheddar cheese wheels $2.49 - don't go shopping hungry
soy sauce $1.99 - on sale
sink strainer $3.29
magazine $1.99 - article on saving money at the grocery store
bisquick pancake mix - $1.99
Pasta sauce for meatball parm $2.09
Dawn direct foam $3.99 - this better last longer then the less expensive ones
nice and clean wipes $3.49
chinese 5 spice mix -$2.49 - I keep seeing this for recipes and found it. Picked up before I forgot where I saw it

additional cost: $28.70

not bad, but over what my goal is again. This is partly due to me not having a complete list every time I go shopping. I'm going to keep working on this and also set a buffer budget for things that aren't on the list like the sink drain thing or the chinese 5 spice.
Mama Duck

I love ham and this just looks and sounds amazing. I have to grab the magazine from work, there's an entire menu with this that sounds devine. I'll post the works when I can.

Honeycomb spiral ham


1 (8- to 10-pound) bone-in, fully cooked, spiral-cut smoked ham half
1 (11-ounce) honeycomb square
1 tablespoon orange zest (from 1 orange)
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
Freshly ground black pepper
Rolls or mini croissants


Unwrap ham and place in a roasting pan. Gently separate the slices.

Drizzle 3 tablespoons honey from honeycomb or honey jar over the ham. Bake ham, uncovered, at 325° for 25 minutes.

Remove ham from oven, and transfer to a serving platter. Slice honeycomb into 1/4-inch-thick slices with a sharp knife dipped in hot water. Place slices of honeycomb between slices of ham. Sprinkle with orange zest, cranberries, rosemary, and pepper. Serve with rolls or mini croissants.


Makes 10 to 12 servings

Coastal Living, SEPTEMBER 2008

while looking for one of them I found this. Dark choc is my fav and pot de creme is so decadent... another must try

Dark Chocolate Graveyard (halloween theme) Pot de Creme
Mama Duck
Sunday - Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, string beans, sliced cucumbers
Monday - Broiled honey chicken breasts
Tuesday - Malaysian fried chicken - spring rolls? still haven't made them but have the wrappers
Wednesday - Beef stroganoff over buttered noodles
Thursday - Meatball Parm or spaghetti and mb's
Friday - veal parm
Saturday - chicken and peach tossed salad with ginger dressing

shopping list: estimated at approx $50
frozen veal patties $2.19
rolls for meatball parm hero's $2.00
small sour cream $.99
chicken (bnls breasts $1.99/lb) $7.00
Ground beef (1.99lb) $6.00
london broil (1.99lb) $4.00
meatloaf seasoning packet - hey not everything is from scratch, lol $2.00
butter $2.00
milk $2.00
bread $2.00
soda $5.00
mozz cheese? $2.50?
peanut butter - health food store $3.50
sliced cheese - swiss? $5.00?
bologna? $4.00
bake trays - Gladware microwave safe $2.74
foil broiler tray - $2.00
cereal for JP $1.50
rye bread
fresh fruit
choc sauce - sugar free
Mama Duck
Homemade Oreo Cookies

Cookie Wafers:
1 (18.25 oz) box Dark Fudge Cake Mix (Do not follow directions on box!)
1/3 Cup Water
2 tablespoons Shortening (no substitutions)

Creme Filling:
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup shortening (no substitutions)
3 tablespoons HOT water

Preheat oven to 325*F. Blend all ingredients for wafers, then knead with you hands until pliable like dough. Form 3/4 inch balls and press flat (the bottom of a glass works great for this.) space 1/2 inch apart on cookie sheet. Bake 4-6 minutes or until cookies are crunchy. (I do 7, but that's just my oven).
Now, combine the filling ingredients and mix well. Form into balls about 1/2-3/4 inch. Sandwich between two cookies and press until filling is almost to the outer edge of cookies.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies (I got away with 3 dozen though..depends on how thick you want them.) or 4 dozen wafers.
Mama Duck
I can't believe how much we spend on food. There has to be a better way and I am determined to cut our grocery bill to $50-$75 weekly. .....somehow. I kept my receipts from this weekend beacuse there was no reason to spend that much! I only needed a few things to finish out the weeks already planned meals and STILL spent $80.00!

Hannafords Grocery Store $87.38

$22.13 was for ingredients for raw Food recipes for my presentation on Monday night .

$6.25 for a coworkers bday cake

Grocery total of $60.50. Acording to my estimates this should have been no more than $25. Which puts me about $35.00 over budget.

What was needed:
Milk $1.90
eggs $1.42
bread $1.39
cheese for 2 different dinners - $10.00
chkn nuggets $4.99
bologna and cheese $9.23
elbow mac $.75
sour cream $.89
4oz can green chiles $1.39
cream cheese $1.19


conditioner $1.76
veal patties for Joe $2.19 - has some thought he was low
cukes $1.78
soda $1.34 - joe's big weakness, i can live on filtered tap water mostly
disposable casserole dishes - $2.74 - makes freezer meals so easy
potato salad $2.07 - don't go shopping hungy
smoked ham $4.27 - don''t go shopping hungry
stage 3 veggie mix $1.29 - trying to get JP to eat veggies again
gerber turkey sticks $1.19 - snack idea - JP says never again, lol
buttermilk pancakes $1.69 - me being lazy and not making the mix I have at home
box mac and cheese $1.00 - tired and thinking of lunch
salad dressing 2 for $4.00 - not necessary, but we did need some new bottles


adds up to $86.35 but the difference is tax.

Not terribly over budget, I just estimated wrong. One meal I did make though was an add on of homemade mac and cheese. I'm sick of how I'm letting my weight go up again so that will be a rarity. I'm going back on my Take Shape For Life Program of which I already have a ton of meals.
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Mama Duck
I decided to take stock of what I have on hand. I know I've been buying meats regularly on sale over the summer. Good side is I get them on sale.. bad news is that my grocery bills are always higher then they should be. For the family size that we are, our grocery bills are terrible. Partly because Joe goes shopping because he can't make anything.. or so he claims. (This is not a Joe rant.. just the way some men .. or women are) Joe likes foods that are easy to prepare (microwave or cold cuts) and because he's picky I let him do his shopping. This past week that resulted in total spending of somewhere around $200.00 with other incidentals tossed in (diapers, flexible cutting mats I want for working with meats, and a few other things) My goal this week is to have the smallest shopping bill I can. I want it to be under $50.00. I do NOT need meat even if it's on sale, lol. I have 7 meal size pckgs of boneless chicken breasts, one pkg of bone in chicken breast, 1 london broil and ...NINE packages of ground beef, lol. I am NOT buying any meats unless its $1.50lb or less. Plus I have several boxes of rice mix in the pantry, so they can be used with the meats.

Sunday - lasagna based off of this recipe, but not exactly like it-making 2 small lasagnas - tossed salad - and maybe the homemade italian bread experiment I'm determined to win, lol
Monday - chicken enchiladas - this was a really good recipe and I'm going to double or triple it to make meals ahead. - red beans and rice. steamed squash
Tuesday - moo shu beef - not multiplying this - spring rolls? maybe this time?
Wednesday -Frogmore stew - I have to try this , lol
Thursday - spaghetti and meatballs - again making multiple batches of meatballs for future use - tossed salad
Friday - malaysian fried chicken - can you tell this is a favorite in this house? - spanish rice and misc veggie
Saturday - No clue as we're at Sesame Place all day - will most likely be takeout of some kind if we're home for dinner.

seems i went over my budget goal for the weekly meals. However I forgot that I needed to get some ingredients for doubling some meals and I also picked up some lunch foods for Joe and JP.

I decided to go ahead and plan the following weeks meals so that I know I don't need to pick up more than a couple of things. For 8/17 - 8/23:

Sunday - MIL's bday - family dinner at their house
Monday - Lasagna as I forgot I had a presentation after work and got home late
Tuesday - Sauteed chicken breast for Joe - leftovers for me.
Wednesday - If Joe did what he was supposed to I'm making enchiladas when I get home... if not then it's sliced chicken breast over lettuce wedges.
Thursday - Homemade pizza
Friday - sandwiches from favorite deli
Saturday - freezer restaurant specials (AKA leftovers)
Mama Duck
Sunday - MB's Chicken Stuffed Shells (see recipe below) with green beans and brussel sprouts (Joe hates brussel sprouts and I hate green beans)
Monday - Southern Fried Chicken and tossed salad
Tuesday - Steak tips in marinade with fresh corn salad
Wednesday - Meatloaf with steamed carrots
Thursday - Chicken enchiladas with beans and rice
Friday - malayasian fried chicken over salad
Saturday - misc sandwiches - Joe is now working a 16 hour shift on saturdays. he'll grab something at work and I just want something easy

MB's chicken stuffed shells:
Cook stuffing shells, use leftover baked chicken or broil, bake or boil some chicken - or even use the canned stuff (but I think the canned stuff makes it way too salty), mix it with Stove Top stuffing (instant stuffing/dressing), stuff balls of it into the shells and pour cream of mushroom soup over it all and bake.

Time for a minor soapbox vent. I look for a lot of recipes online, specifically No particular reason except that I tend to end up there all the time. Some people that write reviews are just not making sense. They will review a dish as terrible... or say they didn't care for it.. then go on to explain how they altered the recipe! You can NOT critique a recipe properly unless you have made it as directed. It's ridiculous to say something is terrible because it wasn't made as written.
Mama Duck
Sunday - Swedish Meatballs over buttered noodles - tossed salad
Monday - Boo's Apricot Chicken
Tuesday - Indonesian Satay
Wednesday - pizza bagels
Thursday - Crepes with turkey and swiss filling
Friday -homemade chicken nuggets
Saturday - Moo shu beef? chicken? with spring rolls

Boo's Apricot Chicken:

4 chicken breast fillets
french onion soup mix
14oz can of apricot nectar.
frozen stir fry veggies
2cups cooked rice

cover chicken in flour. Mix soup mix and nectar together.
spray oven dish with oil
place chicken, veggies and rice in dish and cover with nectar soup mix. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40min or until chicken is cooked thru.

I ended up serving the rice on the side as I wanted to get this cooking in the oven. All I can say is you have to try this recipe! If you're worried about it tasting too fruity, it's not. In fact you don't really taste any fruit, Just a delicious sauce. I almost wish I had doubled the sauce. Mental note for next time. Thanks for the idea and recipe Boo!
Mama Duck
I've learned a wonderful money saving trick for your kitchen/pantry. I will no longer buy my herbs at a store in a pre-packaged bottle. I buy them at the health food store near us for a lot less money. They are fresher... organic.. and amazingly cheap! In general I pay less than $1 to fill a regular tall spice jar. Bay leaves cost me $.15... fresh nutmeg? about the same. Today was a real surprise though... I needed vanilla which I hate buying because it's so darn expensive. I didn't feel like going to the regular store so I decided to see what they charge. Now I don't know about where you live, but here a 1oz bottle of real vanilla costs me about $7 at the grocery store. At the health food store it was $5.25 for 2oz of organic real vanilla! Yup.. that went into my cart really quick. I thought for sure it would cost $9 or more.
Mama Duck
Sunday - Stuffed shells with tossed salad or broccoli rabe and mushrooms and homemade cherry pie
Monday - grilled chicken and nectarine salad - going to make this one up as I go, lol
Tuesday - raw chili - fruit slices drizzled with agave nectar and cinnamon
Wednesday - chicken salad wraps with cucumber/onion salad
Thursday - spaghetti and meatballs with tossed salad - homemade italian bread - try #3, lol
Friday - malaysian bbq chicken with spring rolls and ginger dipping sauce
Saturday - take out or leftovers

I'm also doing something different this time. I'm doing all the heavy cooking today so the oven is run once. I'm tired of overheating the house, lol.
Mama Duck
Since I've gone back to menu planning I've started getting back into baking and experimenting. Earlier this week I made pretzels that were yummy. Today's adventure is homemade Italian bread.

Sunday - Spaghetti and meatballs/tossed salad/homemade italian bread/ cinnamon walnut ice cream for desert - also homemade.
Monday - Moo Shu chicken - Joe worked a double so we never had this Saturday and I froze it
Tuesday - Hot dogs and corn salad
Wednesday - quick and easy mac and cheese (frozen mac and cheese - with a few extras to beef it up)
Thursday - Rawtatouille - this is a raw version of ratatouille- so much more flavorful and colorful
Friday - herbed chicken breasts over tossed salad with italian dressing and fresh rolls
Saturday - meatloaf/green peas and carrots/mashed potatoes
Mama Duck
So last week I was lazy and didn't plan .. or at least adhere to my menu plan. I'm back this week to write it down.

Sunday: homemade pizza's. 1- pepperoni and mushroom 1- onion and pepper
Monday: spaghetti and meatballs - recipe below
Tuesday: Pierogi casserole see review below
Wenesday: malayasian fried chicken - recipe below
Thursday: arepas with an italian shredded beef and cheddar filling
Friday: taco bake
Saturday: Moo shu chicken

Meatball recipe:
1.5lbs ground beef
1cup breadcrumbs
1Tbsp Parmesan cheese
1Tbsp dried parsley
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 egg

mix well with hands, form into desired size meatball and bake. I usually make them slightly larger then golf balls and bake for 20-30mins.

Malaysian Fried Chicken
3lbs chicken - we use bnls chicken breasts
4Tbsp Oyster sauce
2Tbsp curry powder
6 cloves garlic -minced

mix oyster sauce, curry powder and minced garlic, place in dish with chicken and marinate for 30 min minimum. Saute, broil or grill till done.

Peirogi Casserole - I was hoping for a different vegetarian type dish for a change. Granted it's not figure friendly and I knew that, but I was in the mood for something different. I just did not care for this that much. It basically seems like a mashed potato deluxe type thing... with some pasta thrown in. Next time I'll just make the pierogi.
Mama Duck
I started doing this via email with some friends a few weeks ago, then thought hey.. let me share with the few wandering souls that read my blog, lol. This started as a way to cut down on costs of food and to really cut down how much we ate out. It's been really successful and I'm glad I'm taking the time to do meal planning. I got off track last week with Joe being in the hospital, so it's time to get back on track.

Sunday - Steak Tip Marinade
Monday: leftover steak over tossed salad
Tuesday:Yummy Honey Chicken Kabobs
Wednesday: Simple Malaysian Fried Chicken
Thursday: Moo Shu chicken w/ purchased wonton soup and egg roll
Friday: chicken pot pie made from rest of roast chicken used on Thursday
Saturday: Take out
Mama Duck

I'm a 39 year old mom of 1...well 3 if you count the dog and the husband. I enjoy cooking but don't seem to make enough time for it unless I have a plan. I do work outside the home in a challenging and never boring job as a clinical coordinator. Hubby's idea of cooking is take out and that just wastes too much money for my tastes. I'd prefer to eat out once every 2 weeks, but we still average once a week. I've found that menu planning takes a bit of effort, but saves me greatly in time, energy and money. Knowing what I 'll be making for the week allows me to plan around sales, use coupons and anticipate a delicious meal instead of the "what on earth am I going to make??" terrors at the end of the work day. I also work hard to incorporate a more involved Sunday Dinner as thats a tradition I think is worth keeping. We run around so much in our daily lives, shouldn't we take one day a week to have a special meal with the good dishes to appreciate our families? Of course there are times that life gets in the way, but at least I'm trying, lol. I hope that this blog will inspire some, make some laugh with my adventures and here and there hand out some good tips.

Happy Reading!!!