Friday, April 18, 2014

One Pot Sausage and Tortellini

Recently I've been experimenting with one pot meals. Usually they consist of a meat/protein along with a starch like pasta, rice or potatoes. Only one pan is used in cooking the dish, hence the one pot name.

I have to say, I resisted this idea for awhile. I've always cooked pasta separately, then added it to the dish I'm making. It's just the way it was done. At least, in my house. But I decided to give this new method a try. I'm glad I did. Clean up is a breeze, and the pasta had a very rich flavor from simmering in the sauce.

Here's what you need:

1 lb Italian sausage links, casings removed
2 teas minced garlic
1 cup chicken broth
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 (19 oz) pkg frozen tortellini

In a large saucepan, heat a little olive oil. Cook the sausages, breaking them up into smaller chunks. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute. Drain any excess grease from the pan.

Stir in the broth, tomato sauce and heavy cream. Bring to a low boil, stirring often. Add the frozen tortellini and stir to make sure all of it is coated with the liquid. Cover and simmer for 12 minutes, or until the tortellini is tender.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Menu Plan April 14-20

This is going to be a busy week for us. I'm administering achievement tests to my nephews, who are also homeschoolers. It will take us three days. Then I'll meet my sister-in-law halfway between our house and theirs (they live in South Carolina, about 4 hours away) and give her angels back.

In addition to that, we're doing some spring cleaning in preparation for a dessert party we're hosting for our Sunday school class on Easter evening. We've done this for several years now, and it's always been a fantastic time of tasty food and Christian fellowship. Every family brings a dessert to share with the entire group. It's a great way to try some new desserts and share our favorites, too.

I'm grateful for a husband with the gift of hospitality who loves to open our home and entertain along with me. In fact, it's because of his efforts and planning that we even do this. I'll post some pics of our yummy desserts after our party.

Now on to this week's menu:

Monday
Pretzel dogs (nephews' request), tater tots

Tuesday
Spaghetti and meatballs, crusty bread

Wednesday
BBQ chicken sandwiches (crockpot), roasted potatoes

Thursday
Italian sausage sandwiches, corn

Friday
Chicken and wild rice soup with bacon (crockpot), cheddar biscuits

Saturday
Ham, potatoes, green beans (Easter dinner)

Sunday
Out to eat

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Oven Roasted Sausage and Potatoes

I adore simple meals like this one. No fuss. Just stick-to-your-ribs goodness. And so easy to prepare!

The most difficult thing is dicing the potatoes. I don't peel mine, just scrub them really well to remove any dirt. But leaving the skins on adds to the yumminess of the dish, I think.

Here's what you need:

1 lb smoked sausage, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
3 lbs small potatoes, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 onion, diced
2-3 TBSP olive oil
2 teas Creole seasoning
salt, to taste

Brush 1 TBSP olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet. Place the sausage, potatoes, pepper, and onion on the baking sheet. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with the Creole seasoning and salt. Stir to coat. I just dig my hands in and combine it all.

Bake at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My New Fridge

Here's a picture of the old one.
And here's the new one:
We gained 12 cubic feet of space and I've got a water and ice dispenser in the door.

I'm a happy girl!


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Menu Plan April 7-13

Tomorrow I'm getting a new fridge! Our refrigerator is over 13 years old, it's missing a handle, and it's starting to make scary noises. We decided to make a pre-emptive strike and purchase a new one before we absolutely had to - in other words, before the old one died and we lost all our cold stuff! Or do things like that only happen to us?

Want to hear something really cool? After we had made the purchase on Saturday (we had to dip into our savings, but felt in the long run it was worth it), Charles got a phone call from his boss. Who told him he was getting a bonus. And the amount was slightly greater than what we had just paid for the new fridge! Isn't that amazing? We had no idea the bonus was coming! And now we can replenish our savings with it. God is so good!

Now on to this week's menu plan:

Monday
Roast beef (left over from Sunday), crusty bread

Tuesday
Sausage & tortellini skillet, broccoli

Wednesday
Beef stir fry, rice

Thursday
Pretzel dogs, fries

Friday
Homemade pizza pockets

Saturday
Leftovers

Sunday
Chicken and wild rice soup with bacon (crockpot)
For more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Favorite Essential Oil Company

Over the past several years I've used essential oils in making homemade beauty products and cleaners, but I decided I really wanted to do more research and find out what essential oils could do for me and my family.

I've seen a lot of bloggers touting the essential oils from a few big name brands, but it seemed like to get the best prices, you had to join those companies as a "rep" even if you didn't want to sell the oils to others. And the oils were pretty darn pricey, too - because the oils were so pure, I was told.

So I quickly learned to research outside of the big companies and find sources that weren't intent on selling me something or getting me to make a financial investment. One of my favorite informational websites is Learning About EOs. The founder of LAEO is Lea Harris, a certified aromatherapist. Her mission is education about essential oils, not selling a product.

I've also read some books on aromatherapy, all of which DO NOT recommend ingesting oils unless you're under the direction of a qualified health care provider or certified aromatherapist. Whoa! That was an eye opener for me, especially since some of the big companies promote internal usage as a daily routine. Eek!

So that became a huge red flag for me. If a company promoted internal usage, I was very wary of them. It seems quite simple to me why they do it. More usage equals more need for their products.

And so I came across Plant Therapy. Their oils were affordable (please don't confuse higher price with higher quality - you might just be paying for someone's Hawaiian vacation or some slick marketing tools). And they were very clear that ingestion without a qualified health provider's direction was a bad idea. They also offered free shipping in the US and a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

My husband ordered this set of 14 oils for me as part of my birthday present. I have loved getting to know these oils and their uses! I also ordered the Top 14 Synergy set as well. I have really enjoyed diffusing the Tranquil synergy in the evening after a long day.

I have been very pleased with the oils I've purchased from Plant Therapy. Their customer service is also amazing! They are very responsive and willing to answer any questions a consumer might have. They've earned my loyalty as a customer.

Now I know everyone has their favorite companies. I'm not trying to change your mind about whom you prefer. I'm just offering my opinion. Since it's my blog, I get to do that. ;)

Some helpful links:

What to Look for in an Essential Oil Company

Common Essential Oil "Mythstakes" Part One

Common Essential Oil "Mythstakes" Part Two

Can Essential Oils Be Ingested?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Menu Plan March 31-April 6

Spring has finally arrived in the Deep South, and I hope it's here to stay. My folks up in West Virginia got snow last night and this morning - perhaps winter's final farewell?

One of the things I most look forward to about warmer weather is grilling. My husband is the grill master around here. He's got chicken, steaks and burgers perfectly timed so they're tender and delicious. We often cook up several kinds of meats then use the leftovers throughout the week for quick lunches.

You want to know the best marinade for chicken and steak? Italian dressing. No kidding, it's amazing on both. And it will work for pork, too. You can use bottled dressing from the store or you can whip up some of your own. I'll share a great recipe later this week for that.

Now on to the week's menu:

Monday
One pot spaghetti, garlic bread

Tuesday
Oven baked chicken fajitas, Mexican rice

Wednesday
Baked egg rolls, garlic sesame noodles

Thursday
Chicken meatball soup, crusty bread

Friday
Loaded jambalaya

Saturday
Grilled chicken

Sunday
Roast beef sandwiches

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.