What’s Your Plan?, Week 4

It’s that time again – time to share what we’ve got planned for our menu for the coming week…

Here’s the plan: Every Saturday (okay, and occasionally it won’t happen until Sunday!), I’m going to publish our menu for the week here – on this blog – as a means of accountability. I’ll try to give links to recipes whenever possible. I’ll share links to resources as I come across them. And if you want to join in – and please do! – leave a comment in the comments section here telling us what YOU are planning for your dinner menus for the week. Maybe if we all join in – we’ll get inspired to try something new and different – or just maybe forgotten for a while!

For the week beginning today, Sunday, August 29 through Saturday, September 4th, 2010 our plan is….

Sunday – Beef Pot Roast with Roasted Veggies; evening meal is DIY.

Monday – Jonathan’s Chicken Surprise with Spanish Rice and Corn. Yes, it’s true. Jonathan has volunteered to cook dinner Monday night. He’s a pretty good cook, and we’re looking forward to whatever it is he’s got up his sleeve!

Tuesday – Breakfast for Dinner. We’re gonna do omelettes and hash browns. We typically customize each omelet for each individual. It works out well, that way everyone has exactly what they want. I’m seriously leaning toward sautéing some squash fresh from the garden to put on mine!

Wednesday – Chicken Stir-Fry with Yakisoba Noodles. The boys really like this meal – I love it because of all of the veggies.

Thursday – Some sort of Soup in the Crockpot. William has bilateral knee surgery at Shriner’s Thursday. It will probably be a day surgery – but there’s no knowing for sure if it will be, and if it is, no knowing when we’ll arrive home. So this will have to be one of those crock pot recipes that holds well at a low temperature! We’ll know more at his pre-op appointment on Wednesday what to expect – and that will affect what we plan for this meal. (But this one is looking mighty good!)

Friday – Homemade Macaroni & Cheese. I can admit it. I’ve tried making it roughly a bazillion times – and well – none of them have been anything worth trying again a second time. (Although the chickens have enjoyed my failed attempts immensely!) Anyone? You got a good homemade mac & cheese recipe that I should try this time out?

Saturday – Burgers on the Grill. I’m thinking we’ll have to see if we can find some corn on the cob to grill, too. Hard to believe our grilling days are winding down…

My big insider tip for this week is a web site that I probably turn to at least three, maybe four times a week. It’s Cook’s Illustrated. It’s one of the few web sites that I feel it’s worth paying the subscription for a higher tier of access on the web site. I am – to be perfectly honest – a little put out that they’ve added yet another tier of service – requiring yet another level of subscription – to access *everything* at the site… but I’ll likely get over it. The one plus about this highest tier of service is that it includes the contents of their many – admittedly fabulous – cookbooks. (Several of which I already own – but I’m just too cheap to buy too many more, as lovely and fabulous as they may be!) I may break down eventually to bump up to that higher tier of service – but frankly, given our current economic status – it’s WAY down at the bottom of the list of possible things to fork out cash for!

And because I think it’s kinda lame that you gotta subscribe to Cook’s Illustrated – one other fabulous web resource for recipes: Epicurious. I’ve been turning to them for – gosh – at least 10 years. Their web site – even way back when – has always been a fabulous way to kind of get an idea if you’re heading the right direction with a new recipe – or if you need to learn a technique. Great place!

How about you? Any web sites you wouldn’t consider cooking without?

And of course…

What’s Your Plan?

I’d love to know!

free range eggs | Cage-Free? Free-Range? How Egg Carton Claims Relate to Salmonella Risks | Rodale News

free range eggs | Cage-Free? Free-Range? How Egg Carton Claims Relate to Salmonella Risks | Rodale News

Does the whole egg label thing confuse you?

It should.

What one thing seems to mean may not – at all – have anything to do with the generally accepted understanding.

Read this article!  It will help make sense of the whole mess.

If you buy eggs from us – you know without a doubt that our girls are pastured and allowed to be chickens!

Not only that – because our eggs are so popular – when you buy eggs here the eggs you receive are rarely more than 24 to 48 hours since being laid.  That’s fresh!

So…  pay attention to where your eggs came from.  Just because they’re cheap doesn’t neccessarily mean they’re good for you!

What’s Your Plan? Week 3

It’s that time again – time to share what we’ve got planned for our menu for the coming week…

Here’s the plan:  Every Saturday, I’m going to publish our menu for the week here – on this blog – as a means of accountability.  I’ll try to give links to recipes whenever possible.  I’ll share links to resources as I come across them.  And if you want to join in – and please do! – leave a comment in the comments section here telling us what YOU are planning for your dinner menus for the week.  Maybe if we all join in – we’ll get inspired to try something new and different – or just maybe forgotten for a while!



Do you ever have one of those weeks?

The kind of week where you kinda forget that your whole world is heading straight for a major shift in the world as you know and understand it?


That was me this past week.

My baby girl is heading to college 3,122 miles away – mere hours for now.

All of the things I had planned to do this past week just didn’t happen.

Oh well.

Life happened.

I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

All of the recipes that I was going to get around to typing up and blogging about – still untyped and unblogged about.

I’m okay with that.

BUT – I do need to get back in the swing of things.  It’s not that long until William’s next surgery at Shriner’s (11 days), and until school starts again (16 days) and I just need to be consistent and in the habit of doing these things for when things get a little crazier with all that comes with the Fall.

So – here we go!

For the week beginning today, Sunday, August 22 through Saturday, August 28, 2010 our plan is….

Sunday – Beef Stroganoff with Squash from the Garden!!!  Yes!  Our first squash from the garden!  Woo Hoo!  One Romanesco zucchini and one yellow crookneck squash.  I adore squash.  I’d hoped that Jess would get to have some before she left for college.  Yay!

Monday – Chicken Tenders with BBQ Sauce.  Yes.  This will be the beginning of that phase in life when our children at home are male teenaged persons who really believe that everything is better with BBQ sauce on it.

Tuesday – Burgers on the Grill.  It’s gonna be hot – and who knows how long we have optimal grilling weather – must not waste the opportunity!

Wednesday – Tacos.  A classic Wednesday night meal – with youth group activities – it’s a breeze to throw together and is a meal the boys simply adore.

Thursday – Cheesy Hammy Pasta.  This is William’s new favorite dish.  It’s got lots of cheese, it’s got chunks of ham.  It makes him a happy boy – so it’s on the menu!  Some day – when he’s developed real taste buds – I’ll be able to throw in all of the fabulous vegetables I long to and he’ll still eat it!

Friday – Dinner out – at a friend’s Birthday Bash – it’s gonna be great fun!

Saturday – John & Dina’s Chili con Carne with Scoops.  This is a great meal option – warm, comforting, and absolutely yummy.  AND – another great opportunity to use up some of those fabulous real home canned beans!

Okay – so this may be grossly obvious – but for me, it was one of those “ah ha” moments when I realized this could help my menu planning significantly.

It’s a wonderful thing called the Weather Forecast.

I usually go to Weather.gov – and then, just to see if it’s pretty close, I also go to Weather.com to see what the weather is going to do for the week.


Here’s the forecast for our corner of the world for the next 10 days.


Chance Sprinkles
Lo 45 °F

SunnyHi 83 °F

ClearLo 52 °F

SunnyHi 92 °F

ClearLo 53 °F

SunnyHi 87 °F

Partly Cloudy
Lo 53 °F

Partly Sunny
Hi 72 °F

Mostly Cloudy
Lo 51 °F


10-Day Forecast for Portland, OR


High /
Low (°F)
Precip. %
Aug 22
Cloudy 49° 10 %
Aug 23
AM Clouds / PM Sun 78°/53° 10 %
Aug 24
Sunny 89°/56° 0 %
Aug 25
Sunny 86°/55° 0 %
Aug 26
Sunny 69°/51° 0 %
Aug 27
Partly Cloudy 68°/50° 10 %
Aug 28
Partly Cloudy 72°/52° 20 %
Aug 29
Mostly Sunny 71°/54° 10 %
Aug 30
Partly Cloudy 68°/54° 10 %
Aug 31
Few Showers 70°/53° 30 %

Knowing that it’s going to be near 90° F on Tuesday makes Tuesday the obvious grilling day.  And seeing that the high on Saturday is only forecasted to be 72° F makes me feel so much more confident about planning chili for dinner that night!  Know what I mean?

Elementary, right?  Don’t know why it took me so long to factor that in to the whole menu planning thing!

Now – tell me…

Any insider tips?

And of course…

What’s Your Plan?

What’s Your Plan, Week 2

It’s that time again – time to share what we’ve got planned for our menu for the coming week…

For those of you who may have missed last week – here’s a recap:

Every Saturday, I’m going to publish our menu for the week here – on this blog – as a means of accountability. I’ll try to give links to recipes whenever possible. I’ll share links to resources as I come across them. And if you want to join in – and please do! – leave a comment in the comments section here telling us what YOU are planning for your dinner menus for the week. Maybe if we all join in – we’ll get inspired to try something new and different – or just maybe forgotten for a while!



Here goes! With the hot weather we’ve had the past couple of days, and that which is forecasted for the coming week – we do lots of cooking on the grill. We’ve found that most things can either be done on the grill or in the slow cooker when it’s inching up toward 100 F – that’s a really happy thing!

For the week beginning tomorrow, Sunday, August 15 through Saturday, August 21, 2010 our plan is….

Sunday – DIY at lunchtime after church; Burgers/Dogs on the grill for the evening meal. (Yeah, I know, we were supposed to do that today – but, well, plans have to change now and then, and it didn’t happen. We ended up having shrimp on the BBQ and green salad – it was yummy.)

Monday – Teriyaki Chicken on the Grill. This is a modification of LeeAnn’s Killer Teriyaki Wings – pretty much all you do is have an aluminum pan to set on the grill, put the chicken inside, then pour the sauce on top, cover, and then let the grill cook away! It turns out beautifully – and we typically serve with either rice or noodles and veggies.

Tuesday – Steak Quesadillas on the Grill. We buy the uncooked tortillas at Costco – cooking them directly on the grill takes maybe a minute. We thinly slice steak that we’ve found on sale, give it a quick cook and set it aside. Then since I’m pretty much the only one who gets into the onions – I’ll throw some slices onto the grill; John will do the same with a pepper that’s been sliced up. Then assembly is easy, quick, and finished results are just a few minutes away!

Wednesday – Mom’s World Famous Meatloaf. Yeah, really. They’re saying it’ll only be 80 on Wednesday. Even so, I may opt to make this on the grill, too. Love those aluminum grilling pans! Instead of mashed potatoes (which we almost always have with meatloaf), I’ll probably put together potato packets on the grill… I’ll probably post the recipe for that on Tuesday. Super easy – but fabulous!

Thursday – Ravioli’s with Chicken in Alfredo Sauce. I’m going to make this one up as I go along. I’ve got some ravioli’s in the freezer that need used up, the weather forecast says a high of 74 F, so I think I’m safe for resuming cooking indoors by Thursday! If I’m feeling industrious – and if I don’t have to work that day – I’ll try and make garlic bread sticks, too. Jess loves them, and well – she leaves for College next week. 😦

Friday – the forecast right now says a high of 70F for next Friday. I just don’t know if I can believe that or not when it’s about 90 at 9pm in my living room right now. BUT – if it’s true, then we’ve got “Meat, Rice, Gravy Thing” on the schedule for Friday. In essence, sautéed onions, celery, garlic, browned ground beef meet a lovely beef gravy, then served over rice, or noodles, or potatoes of some sort. Since it’ll just be a couple of days before Jess leaves – and rice is her fave – then I’m guessing rice it will be!

Saturday – Jess’s request: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce. We actually use angel hair pasta, and the sauce is from scratch. I’ll see if I can’t get around to writing it up and getting it posted before Saturday. I’ve had several people ask me recently how to make a meat sauce from scratch lately – and well, it couldn’t be any easier. So I’ll get that done, promise!

And now – here’s my biggest insider tip/helper on menu planning: Microsoft Outlook. I love it. I’ve been deeply attached to it for actual decades. I set my window to week view, and then we try to eat dinner at about 6pm each night. I just make my dinner plan an appointment for 6pm each evening. It works out wonderfully.

Part of what makes this so wonderful? The fact that my phone gets plugged into my CPU each night and synchs the calendar in Outlook. Then I know what the plan is no matter where I am or what I’m doing. Isn’t that great?

Now – tell me…

Any insider tips?

And of course…

What’s Your Plan?

Tomato and Black Bean Salsa

…and it’s Fight Back Friday!

It’s HOT here. Like 94 F hot. I know – we don’t really understand hot here on the West Coast with our onshore flow and lack of humidity. And honestly – I don’t mind the hot. It just requires some adjustments to daily living… especially when you live in an OLD house with no air conditioning!

One of those adjustments – for our family at least – is cooking and eating outdoors.

Oh we love the grill!

Oh we love al fresco!

So – in honor of the season, and a lovely gift from the folks at Daregal – I decided to throw together a little salsa to enjoy with in the warm weather.

Tomato and Black Bean Salsa

I should tell you up front – this couldn’t be any easier to put together. It will take you all of about 15 minutes – tops – and will be worth every last darn second of the investment of your time!

Remember these?

The REAL canned beans I canned not so long ago? They’re fabulous and amazing – just had to tell you.

That’s what I started with….

…one can of black beans. These are kind of thick and gooey – and so yummy. That’s good. If they were commercially canned they’d have a lot more fluid on them – and in that instance, I’d definitely get rid of the majority of that fluid.

Next, I added 1 and 1/2 cups of frozen corn.

You could use canned or fresh. Fresh would be mind-blowingly amazing, of course – and if I had any, well, you know what would be here instead! As it is, the frozen works just fine.

Next, 4 medium tomatoes, diced:

A bunch of green onions, sliced fairly thinly…

This was about 7 green onions, with the majority of the green included.

Next, two large avocados seeded and peeled, then diced. I always sprinkle salt on top of my avocados – my Mom must have taught me that decades ago when I was a little girl living on Lamer Street, finding ripe avocados that had fallen off of the tree in the back yard and munching on them…

Anyway – about half a teaspoon of the Kosher salt sprinkled here.

Now – this is so cool – Daregal sells fresh frozen chopped herbs. I’ve used 4 Tablespoons of the fresh frozen chopped Cilantro.


I *hate* chopping fresh Cilantro. All of the stems and time and trying to figure out measurements! UGH!

This stuff is awesome!

This was SO easy!

Then I add the remaining 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, add 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and mix together!

It looks yummy, doesn’t it?

Well looks are deceiving.

It’s life-alteringly fabulous.

You’ll have to excuse me now… I need to go eat a large quantity of this stuff!


Tomato and Black Bean Salsa


1 can

Black Beans (approximately 15 oz)

1 1/2 cups

Corn (Canned, Fresh, or Frozen)

4 medium

Tomatoes, diced

1 bunch

Green onions, sliced

2 large

Avocados, diced

4 Tablespoons

Daregal Fresh Frozen Chopped Cilantro

1 1/2 teaspoons

Kosher salt

1/4 cup

Lemon juice


  1. If black beans and/or corn are canned with a lot of fluid, drain most of the fluid off before placing in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add tomatoes and sliced green onions.
  3. Dice avocados and then sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt. Transfer to mixing bowl.
  4. Sprinkle Daregal Fresh Frozen Chopped Cilantro and remaining teaspoon of Kosher salt over ingredients in mixing bowl.
  5. Add lemon juice and mix thoroughly.


Cover and refrigerate for about an hour prior to serving.

Serve with tortilla or pita chips.


All in a Day’s Work…

Every girl should have fresh, ripe, luscious, sun-kissed walls of blackberries out her kitchen door…

…lots and lots of fresh blackberries.

Just waiting to be picked…

Like these ones were…

Seven pounds worth in very short order.

7 pints

12 half-pints worth.

A very good day’s work.

Lots more berries yet to be picked…


I love summer!

Sur La Table Platinum Bakeware, 7-Piece Set – Sur La Table

Sur La Table Platinum Bakeware, 7-Piece Set – Sur La Table.

Sur La Table® Platinum Professional Bakeware, 7-Piece Set

Some day – when I’ve figured out a way to make a living from home once again – and I have something that some people apparently have in their lives…  it’s called disposable income.  Anyway – someday if I ever have any of that disposable income stuff – I’m gonna get me some of these!

And if I’m super duper blessed I’ll buy an extra set and give it away here, okay?

Just saying…  too cool to not share, you know?

Now – back to trying to decide what to do with the 7 pounds of blackberries I just picked outside the kitchen door…  go on with your regularly scheduled programming.  🙂

Important bottom line….

Today – much like last week – Carl (our pastor) did an amazing thing.

He worked through half of a whole chapter!!!! (You have to have some history at CMBC to understand how monumental this is. I mean – it took the guy something like 4 years to make it through Ephesians!)

But I gotta tell you – even though it was at a pretty brisk pace – it was a sweet thing to get this portion of scripture all together in a bigger chunk. Context is SO important here.

I guess one thing that has been coming to me – over and over and over again – in recent weeks is a vitally important bottom line truth:

God is God and I am not.

What a sweet, beautiful, profound, and blessed thing!

I find myself taking a deep breath, and thinking, “Phew! What a relief!”

‘Cause – honestly – too much pressure for it to be any other way, right?

I don’t want that kind of responsibility!

I guess that’s why this just resonated so incredibly with me this morning:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
      How unsearchable his judgments,
      and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
      Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
      that God should repay him?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
      To him be the glory forever! Amen.

(Romans 11:33-36)

All in all – an amazing morning of worship. It was a wonderful call to worship this morning with Dave Lubben leading. One song in particular spoke to my heart – hope you are blessed, as I was!

What’s Your Plan? Week 1

As I may have lamented a time or two – menu planning is no joy ride at our house.

But menu plan we must.


Because it saves us a TON of money.

Because it spares us copious quantities of stress.

Because it brings a little bit of cohesion to what could be a very chaotic schedule.

Because it helps us factor in the different individuals needs.

Because it really is the right thing to do.

Why we buck it so much, I just don’t know. Honestly – it doesn’t take that long. Particularly if we happen to remember to incorporate the kids when we’re sitting down to plan.

So I’m gonna try something kinda revolutionary.

Every Saturday, I’m going to publish our menu for the week here – on this blog – as a means of accountability. I’ll try to give links to recipes whenever possible. I’ll share links to resources as I come across them. And if you want to join in – and please do! – leave a comment in the comments section here telling us what YOU are planning for your dinner menus for the week. Maybe if we all join in – we’ll get inspired to try something new and different – or just maybe forgotten for a while!

(Little confession here – I consider it raging success if we can get dinner menus planned, I’m not even going to go anywhere near planning breakfast and lunch menus. We’re all old and skilled enough in our household to fend for ourselves for those two meals each day.)

So – here it is – Week 1 of this resolution of sorts, and for the past week our kids have been away from home. Jess has been in Hawaii with friends. Jonathan has been at high school camp. William has been at middle school camp. John and I have used this less complex week to enjoy some peace, quiet, and quite a bit more risky menu options in the kids’ absence. It’s been quite an experience – this little foretaste of Empty Nest Syndrome. And you know what? I will miss my kids whenever and wherever they go – but just the two of us, John & I – it’s a-okay in my book!

Sunday – DIY at lunch time after church; Turkey wings & thighs on the grill at the evening meal

Monday – Chicken Stir-Fry with Yakisoba Noodles

Tuesday – Spaghetti either with meat sauce or carbonara – I can’t decide

Wednesday – Tacos

Thursday – Fish (probably on the grill)

Friday – Raviolis with chicken in Alfredo sauce

Saturday – Burgers/Dogs on the grill

Typically each meal has a vegetable dish and/or salad, and some sort of starch on the side as well. Don’t tell my kids, but I’m gonna give quinoa a spin this week – it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out and what they think of it!

So that’s all there is to it!

In coming weeks I’ll share some tidbits that we’ve learned over the years to help take some of the pain out of getting a menu planned and successfully executed.

Now – tell me…

What’s Your Plan?

August 6, 1993

Funny how 17 years can go by in just a flash.

Seventeen years ago today I was in Columbus, Ohio.

Eleven days prior I’d met John McBride – face to face – for the first time.

We’d met “online” some months before – by chance.

He was a recent widower with a baby daughter named Jessica. When we met he was finishing up his last semester of seminary, was pastoring a church in rural SE Kentucky, and caring for his daughter and mother.

I was a committed to being single young woman who had moved home to care for my Dad, who had a terminal diagnosis, and had asked me to come home and be his primary care giver – with the hope of freeing my Mom of some of the things she’d been having to juggle.

We’d formed a friendship, John and I.

I had an airline ticket that needed used before it expired, and so I was planning a trip to visit my much-loved cousin, Bobby, in North Carolina. As it turned out, John and I met – had a great time getting to know one another, and even went through a crazy adventure involving car keys locked in a car, over 100 heat, multiple calls to AAA, hours and hours of waiting for AAA – and a resourceful Marine who ultimately came to our rescue. Boy was I sun burnt!

I’d always heard, “You’ll know when it’s the right guy!” Yeah – I wasn’t so sure. I’d met plenty of nice guys. Just none that had a commitment and heart willing to go and do ANYTHING that God called them to – from that moment through the rest of their lives.

I think my biggest fear was that I’d marry someone whose love for the Lord would wane over time – and who would cease to be willing to be obedient – no matter the cost. So I’d resigned myself to the fact that I would be single – hopefully contentedly so.

Silly me.

When I met John face to face that first day I knew I would marry him.

No – he hadn’t asked.

No – there was no implication that he would.

No – there were no expectations headed that direction.

I just knew. Not a me thing. Totally a God thing.

My goodness, God is amazing, isn’t He?

So there it was, August 6, 1993.

We were headed to dinner with Brad and Alcy – pretty much life-long friends of John’s, who I’m happy to claim as friends now, as well. (Although – just a warning – take your blood pressure medication if you need that sort of thing before you ever ride in a car that Brad is driving!)

He had a ring, that John McBride.

A lovely little diamond solitaire.

He asked me if I’d consider marrying him.

I assured him that I’d be most happy to.

No fear.

No worry.

No concern.

Just peace.




Not a day goes by that I wonder anew why God would choose to bless me so. There certainly has not been a single thing that I have done or could do that would merit the blessings of having a husband like John McBride. The man is amazing.

He’s loving.

He’s kind.

He’s hilarious.

He’s my best friend.

He’s exactly the partner I want leading me through the rest of my life.

He’s a man of honor and integrity.

He’s conscientious.

He’s an amazing father.

And above all – he’s a man who is committed to following his Savior faithfully.

So – today, August 6, 2010 – we celebrate 17 years since our engagement to be married.

I am an incredibly blessed woman.

1 John 4: 16b – 19: God is love. Anyone who leads a life of love shows that he is joined to God. And God is joined to him. So love is made complete among us. We will be bold on the day God judges us. That’s because in this world we love as Jesus did. There is no fear in love. Instead, perfect love drives fear away. Fear has to do with being punished. The one who fears does not have perfect love. We love because he loved us first.