Category Archives: cooking

More Freezer Meals!

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You all know that our family has been making meals for the freezer for over a year now. I wanted to share the most recent set we’ve done using MyFreezeasy.

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Each recipe you see named above gives us 2 meals for the freezer, and we actually ended up with enough to make four of the Lazy Lasagna Bake. We used one of those for a church potluck on Sunday. 🙂

My main working partner during this process is usually “The Artist,” and one or another of his brothers goes with me to do all of the pre-prep shopping.

Here, “The Artist” and I are putting it all together . . .

 

And here, the bounty of our efforts!

  • Lazy lasagna Bake – 4
  • Chicken Fajita Bake – 2
  • Bacon Wrapped Chicken – 2
  • Sloppy Dogs (topping) – 2
  • Slow Cooker Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin

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Plus, I now also have in the freezer a gallon freezer bag with the extra chicken in BBQ sauce! Not bad for just a couple of hours in the kitchen!

As always, I would just love it if you would join me in all of “My Journeys Through Life.” Just go to the subscription box at the top of the blog and enter your email information. After that, you will always know when there is something new happening. I hope to see you here very soon! -)

 

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Filed under cooking, family, food, Freezer Meals, Freezer Prepping, My FreezEasy

America The Beautiful . . . a T.O.S. Review

Oh my, were the boys and I excited when we opened the box from the Notgrass Company containing the complete American History curriculum we were going to review!

Book after book came out of that box, beginning with two thick hardcover books containing 75 lessons, which are put together in a series of 30 units between the two. “America the Beautiful: Part 1” covers the year 1000 to the year 1877, while “America the Beautiful: Part 2” covers the late 1800s to the present. We also received another large, hard cover book, “We The People: Words From The Makers of American History”, a wonderful collection of excerpts from biographies, articles and pieces of American literature. Next, we found the America the Beautiful Student Workbook, a very nice wire bound book, and the America the Beautiful Lesson Review, also a very nice wire bound book, which we will use in later years when we re-do this curriculum at a time my boys can do more in-depth work. Next out of the box was the book “Maps of America the Beautiful“. This book is full of very nice outline maps to be used in the different lessons. We are liking that we don’t complete a whole map at one sitting, in fact, we go from map to map, depending upon the lesson we are in. Next, we have the “Timeline of America the Beautiful” book, which I just love! I’ve wanted to do some form of timeline work in our home-schooling, but really wanted it to be in a book, and this perfectly fits what I wanted, and what my kids can handle. Last, but not least, I found the “America the Beautiful Answer Key” book, with answers to everything. From the website:

“America the Beautiful by Charlene Notgrass is a one-year American history, geography, and literature course designed for students in grades 5-8. It combines the flexibility and richness of a unit study with the simplicity of a textbook-based approach to history. Daily lessons guide your child chronologically through American history, highlighting key events, people, and places.”

This curriculum is absolutely beautiful, and so very easy to use! I really don’t have to do any teacher prep, other than to make sure we have the materials for the family activity listed for each unit, if we choose to do it. So far, we’ve done just one of them, because the others either didn’t interest us or were a bit overwhelming for our household.

We’ve chosen to work on this as a group, since my boys are at different levels of ability due to ages and varying special needs, and we take from two to four days per lesson. I read the actual lesson out loud, while we all look at the illustrations and photos given (which takes perhaps more time than it’s supposed to, because my boys love to ask questions and discuss what is in the lesson as we go). Then, there is generally a selection to read from “We the People: Words From the Makers of American History”, which is also a read-aloud. After that, we do the various end of lesson activities, which range from “thinking biblically” (for which they each have their own 3-ring binder), to vocabulary (which we often do orally), to a map page, and a page in the Student Workbook. All of this, as I said, usually takes us anywhere from two to four days, but we stretch it like that primarily because I have found that for my boys, the knowledge will stick better that way. The author of this curriculum, Charlene Notgrass, makes a point in the introduction to tell us not to be a slave to the written schedule, but to make it work for us, so that’s precisely what we are doing, and it’s working! Therefore, although this is written as a one year curriculum, we will be stretching it out for as long as it takes to go through it, and then, perhaps go back and do it again, using the “America the Beautiful Lesson Review” Book when the boys are older.

There are ten novels assigned at different times during the course of this curriculum, beginning with Unit 4. They are:

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare (Units 4-5)

Amos Fortune: Free Man by Elizabeth Yates (Units 6-7)

Brady by Jean Fritz (Units 9-10)

Bound for Oregon by Jean Van Leeuwen (Units 12-13)

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt (Units 14-15)

Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Units 16-17)

All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (Units 19-20)

Blue Willow by Doris Gates (Units 21-22)

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey (Unit 25)

Katy by Mary Evelyn Notgrass (Units 29-30)

The first five books go with “America the Beautiful: Part 1”, with the second five going along with “America the Beautiful: Part 2”. To get us started, I purchased the first three novels, and will get the rest as we get close to needing them. All are easily available at bookstores or your library, with the possible exception of the final book assigned, which was written by the daughter of the author of this curriculum.

I was a little bit nervous about whether or not my boys would (a) enjoy this curriculum, and (b) be able to do the work involved, but they really do like it, and because we are doing it together, and they are taking turns on each map lesson and student workbook lesson, they are handling the work quite well. Of course, if anyone looked at either of those books, they would immediately be able to tell that four different people had written on each and every page! 🙂 Doing the workbook and map book this way makes it much more manageable for my children. We do the timeline book orally together, and then “The Artist”, who has the easiest time with writing things down, actually writes the entry into the space provided.

If you would like to view samples of the different books in this curriculum, you will find them here. You will find the table of contents and a sample unit from “America the Beautiful: Part 1”, the table of contents, a sample unit and the index from “America the Beautiful: Part 2”, sample pages from “We the People”, sample maps from ” Maps of America the Beautiful”, sample pages from “Timeline of America the Beautiful”, and you may view the “America the Beautiful Answer Key”.

The Notgrass Company also offers a family newsletter, for which you can sign up using your email address here. It is emailed every couple of weeks, and includes “family activity ideas, articles, information about our products, and special offers.”

Here is “The Artist”, copying an entry into the timeline . . .

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“The Batman”, coloring in a section of one of the maps . . .

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“Mr. Loquacious”, also doing map-work . . .

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and “The Puzzler” working with “The Artist” on one of the Student Workbook pages . . .

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One of the end of unit family activities was to make Navajo Flat bread, which we did one evening when my husband had offered to make “breakfast for dinner”. It was very easy, and the boys and I all worked on it together.

This is all that we needed to make a batch of Navajo Flat Bread . . .

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Here are pictures of each of the boys taking a turn at hand mixing the dough . . .

First up, “The Artist”

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“The Batman” . . .

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“The Puzzler” . . .

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and “Mr. Loquacious”!

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Then, I kneaded the dough . . .

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after which we were instructed to let it rest for ten minutes. Then, we divided it into ten balls and began rolling!

“Mr. Loquacious” . . .

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“The Artist” . . .

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“The Batman” . . .

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and “The Puzzler”!

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Here are the boys with all ten circles rolled out . . .

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and finally, a piece of Navajo Flat Bread in the process of being fried!

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The bread was soft, and tasted very good with butter and honey on it. It was a tasty addition to our scrambled eggs with sweet onion and ham!

The “America the Beautiful” curriculum is available to purchase here for $99.95, and includes the following books:

“America the Beautiful: Part 1”
“America the Beautiful: Part 2”
“We The People: Words From the Makers of American History”
“Maps of America the Beautiful”
“Timeline of America the Beautiful”
“America the Beautiful Answer Key”

The “America the Beautiful Student Workbook” is available here for $11.95, and “America the Beautiful Lesson Review” is available here for $9.95.

For the most part, “America the Beautiful” is definitely a hit in our house, and we highly recommend it! The only thing I wish would be different would be to have (especially in the workbook!) Bible verses to be from the KJV. That’s the only Bible my family, and my church uses, so when a workbook page uses a different version, I either have to re-create the page, or go ahead and do it, using it as a lesson in why we believe as we do. I chose to do the latter here, because the only way the rest of the page worked was by using the verse as given.

Other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed this and other products from the Notgrass Company. Please cruise on by and see what they thought!

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Simplified Pantry . . . a TOS Review for the Mamas! :-)

I was so excited to be chosen as one of the reviewers for Simplified Pantry written by Mystie Winkler!

As a reviewer, I was given access to three different products, and asked to choose one to use during the review period so I could tell my readers about it. I chose Mystie Winkler’s e-book Simplified Dinners, because I am ALWAYS looking for some way to simplify this part of my life, while at the same time, making sure my family is well fed with meals they actually enjoy. Well, Simplified Dinners is a definite winner with us!

This is a 30 page e-book, which I chose to print out and put into a three-ring binder. This is not a “cook-book” like I was used to, rather it is more of a how-to book. In her e-book, Mystie has given us first an explanation as to how and why she came up with this system, an explanation which really struck a chord with me. She was really tired of thumbing through and bookmarking cookbooks, recipe cards, etc, and having to keep track of ingredients needed. This system helped Mystie to pare down her pantry, purge her recipes, and even made it easier to let her children help in the kitchen. That last one turned out to be important for me, as during the review period I had surgery, and am currently unable to stand at the stove and cook, so my husband has had to take over a lot of what I normally do, with at least one of our children (“The Artist”) helping some. More on that later!

Mystie then gives us a master pantry list, which I went over when deciding which meal ideas to use during this review. I wanted to see just how much I could do without actually needing to go out and buy a ton of special stuff. I was surprised to discover how many things I was already set to make, with only minimal purchases! The reason for this is (from the Simplified Dinners website) “Simplified Pantry is all about encouraging homestyle cooking with basic ingredients. It is possible to cook good, healthy food without a pantry full of specialized ingredients, and it is possible to make easy dinners without shortcut, pre-prepared products. Simplified Dinners (and the gluten- and dairy-free edition!), enables anyone to transition toward home-prepared, real, whole foods cooking—even those less confident in the kitchen. Simplified Dinners helps keep dinner streamlined while allowing flexibility.”

Mystie also points out on her website how essential menu planning is in helping to promote peace in our home and our mind. However, we rarely think much about all the steps that are involved in menu planning. Also from the website:

“But do you realize how many steps are actually involved in menu planning? Typical menu planning involves multiple dependent steps:

1.Find out what’s on sale or what coupons you have.
2.Find recipes you can cook and want to eat.
3.Figure out what ingredients you need to cook those recipes.
4.Try to mesh the ingredients you need with what’s on sale.
5.Make the grocery list.
6.Shop.
7.Remember what you’re going to make for dinner when, and pull it off.
8.Use the perishables before they go bad.

No wonder we often dread it, forget to do it, or procrastinate.”

That was me, before this review, to be honest.

The e-book Simplified Dinners is SO easy to implement . . . if *I* could do it, anyone can do it, believe me! I make no claims whatsoever to being a “domestic diva”, lol!

Mystie has broken it down into categories:

•Slow-Cooker Roasts
•Slow-Cooker, No-Defrost Chicken Pieces
•Chicken-in-a-Pot
•Skillet Cutlets with Pan Sauces
•Marinades for Grilling or Broiling
•Foil-Packet Fish
•Stovetop Pasta
•Bean Pots
•Fajitas
•Quesadillas
•Taco Bar
•Burritos or Enchiladas
•Taquitos
•Frittata
•Oven Omelette
•Pizza
•Simple Stir-fry
•Potato Hash
•Baked Potato Bar
•Bean Soups
•Stews
•Blended Vegetable Soups
•Quick Soups
•Main Dish Salads
•Vegetable Side Dishes
•Side-Dish Salads
•Starchy Side Dishes

What Mystie has done, rather than create yet another recipe book, is to give a basic method for each of the above mentioned categories, along with anywhere from three to six or more alternative ways to make the same basic dish into something different. For example, Chicken-in-a-Pot gives the basic method for cooking a whole chicken, but then gives us three other ways to do it, called “Sassy”, “A More Interesting Basic”, and “40 Cloves of Garlic”. Each alternative idea switches up some ingredients, while using the basic method.

At the end of the e-book, Mystie even gives us a sample winter menu plan and a blank menu planner.

If you’d like to get a better look at what you’ll be getting, you can download a sample here, but really, I’m telling you that at the price of $12.99, Simplified Dinners is well worth the purchase!

Here are some of the dinners we had during the review period:

Peanut Butter Chicken (in the slow cooker) . . .

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and on the plate!

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Here, we have the Oven Omelette, which was a huge hit at my house!

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Orange Honey Chicken . . .

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Chicken-in-a-Pot (sassy version) . . .

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Now then, as I said above, I am now recovering from surgery on both of my feet, and unable to do a lot of what I usually do. My husband was able to take this method, with ingredients I had made sure to have on hand, and with “The Artist” as his assistant, he made the Flexible Frittata for our supper one night!

Here are the ingredients . . .

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The process . . .

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And the finished product!

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I think they did a great job, don’t you? Just so you know, that was my plate, and I only eat small servings since my bariatric surgery. There was enough for a family of six, with the other five being pretty big eaters, and nobody went hungry! 🙂

Mystie also offers a Simple Gluten Free & Dairy Free Meals edition of her e-book, also at the reasonable price of $12.99. I know a lot of people who need to find ways to feed their family without using gluten or dairy . . . this one is for you!

The third product reviewed by members of the crew was Paperless Home Organization, which is available for only $3.99!

I do intend to give this one a try when I’m feeling more recovered from my surgery, but I am more of a hard-copy schedule and list maker type, to be truthful. I know a lot of people who are really more likely to go paperless if given an easy way to do so, though, so here is the product if that description fits you!

The prices for Mystie’s e-books are very good as they are, but right now, she is offering a discount to my readers of 30% off any or all of the e-books! Just use the code TOS2013, and you will receive this discount. You do need to hurry though, because this code will only work until June 3, 2013!

Click below to find out what my fellow crewmembers thought of Simplified Dinners, Simple Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Meals, and Paperless Home Organization!

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