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