Cookbook Giveaway: Once-A-Month Cooking Family Favorites

cookbookcoverWhen I read about the opportunity to review a new cookbook from the Once-A-Month Cooking (OAMC) gals – I was REALLY excited.  While I do love to cook, I do NOT enjoy the daily cleanup.  I wanted to see what tips & tricks – as well as recipes – the Family Favorites cookbook had to offer, and I was pleasantly surprised.

I immediately dug into the Introduction section, and found the tips and recommendations to be DO-able!  I was glad to see that I wasn’t being told to invest in a lot of containers and new products that required more storage space – but instead was advised to use good freezer bags and my regular freezer to store everything.  Yay!

My favorite part of the cookbook, as I was reading it page by page, was the layout.  Broken down into One-month cycles with coordinating pantry list, freezing supplies, shopping list, and preparation order – I could see how simple preparing a month’s worth of meals could really be.  And there are 2 One-month cycles, as well as several Two-week cycles.  One of the recommendations in the Intro section is to cook with a friend, so for someone like me with a small prep space, that idea is very workable!

authorphotoThe authors of the OAMC books, Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg, have much experience with cooking, and have developed a very friendly system for meal planning, in my opinion! The coordinating recipes for each month’s cycle contained many recipes that my family would actually eat and enjoy.  No bizarre recipes or unusual ingredients.  Recipes like:

  • Creamy Chicken Enchiladas – p. 36
  • Chicken Broccoli Casserole – p. 32
  • Macaroni – p. 118

Not only that, but I was actually intrigued by many of the fish dishes since I don’t cook fish.  However, I’m considering the Tilapia Fillets (p. 134) because we want to eat more fish, more often, and this recipe seems very simple.

Since the cookbook also offers several Two-week cycles (which appeals to me as I’m usually buying groceries every two weeks, and would be more manageable to prepare ahead in my own kitchen), I’m going to start with one of them and see how it goes.  The Two-week cycles include a Gluten-Free plan, a Summer Two-week plan, and even a Gourmet plan!

I’m so thankful for my free copy of this cookbook – it’s one I’m really excited about not just reading but applying to help with meal planning, and planning ahead for my family!

Giveaway!

So here’s the fun part!  Not only did I get a free copy to review, but I got one copy to give away to one of my readers!  If you enjoy cooking, the recipes are very friendly – and if you’re looking for a Do-able plan for freezer meals and menu planning, this could be a great tool in your kitchen!

How to Enter:

Required: Leave a comment telling me if you’ve ever tried Once-A-Month cooking – how it has worked or not worked for you – and/or how you handle meal planning for yourself or your family now. Make sure your email address is included in your comment entry.  (If you don’t leave a comment for this, you won’t be entered.)

Extra Entries:

1. Twitter about this giveaway once daily thru 10/15/09 – leave your twitter id/link for each entry. (1 xtra entry per  Tweet).

2. Link to this post on your blog. (1 xtra entry)

3. Share on Facebook and leave me a comment with your FB link. (1 xtra entry)

***Contest ends Thursday, 10/15/09 at 11:59 pm.  Winner will be contacted via email and announced on Friday, 10/16/09.***

You can read my disclosure policy here.



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A Home Keeper? Who ME???

So, I’ve personally seen a mini-tranformation in myself over the past month.  Incorporating a “planner” to guide my days has really had an effect on my attitude, my energy level, and my purpose.   WHO KNEW???

Not only that, but I’ve rediscovered my LOVE for baking.  And now I CAN’T STOP!!!  (But it’s okay – Roy & I just bought new walking shoes and we are going to start walking with the girls…)

Last week I made Banana Sour Cream bread. YUMMO!  I also mixed up my first batch of Amish Friendship Starter and Sweet Sourdough Starter.

I also tried a new recipe, Cheeseburger Meatloaf – and we loved it!  I did not use chili sauce (don’t care for it).  I didn’t have quite a full pound of ground beef, so I added in about 1/2 cup of diced ham.  I thought about wrapping it in bacon, but our bacon was not usable (bummer!) so I skipped that part!

Over the weekend I mixed up a batch of Amish Sugar Cookies (with a few modifications) from my Mom’s Favorite Recipes book.  DEE-lightful.  (Recipe below.) And my first batch of Sweet Sourdough Bread is rising in the oven.  So I’ll be a Baking Mama this afternoon and I’m looking forward to it.

Our problem is we LOVE baked goods far too much, but I already have a plan to give some away.  We do not need all the calories – and it’s a nice way to say “Thank you” or “I’m thinking of you” and HOPEFULLY everything turns out well so we CAN give it away. LOL

AMISH SUGAR COOKIES

cups sugar*
1 cup shortening*
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract*
5 teaspoons baking powder
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

Cream sugar, shortening, and eggs; add sour cream and vanilla. Gradually blend in remaining ingredients; mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets; flatten slightly with the bottom of a sugar coated glass. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes; cool completely on wire racks. Frost if desired.        Makes about 4 dozen.

* I used just less than 2 cups sugar – it seemed like a lot.  I just didn’t fill the measuring cup full.  I also used 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup margarine, and 1/4 cup solid coconut oil for the shortening.  I used 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla cuz I love it…  Don’t plan to use a sugar coated glass, either – just drop by teaspoonfuls…

I will be baking my first Friendship bread recipe this week, and will share that recipe later.  We are taking a family mini-vacation to southern Kentucky to visit Roy’s family (grandma, aunts, cousins) for a few days, and I hope to take some goodies with us.

If they last that long…  =)

Until next time…

have-a-blessed-day

Friday Faves: My Home Keeper’s Notebook

So are you an expert Notebooker?  Are you new to the idea?  Are you still trying to figure out why anybody would take the time to put a “Home Keeper Notebook” together?  Just like any other organizational system, a Home Notebook is great for some and useless for others (although I tend to lean more for the “great” for just about anybody).

The Flexibility of your system is entirely up to you.  If you prefer everything preformatted and coordinated, a  Mom Agenda or The Fly Lady Control Journal would  probably work nicely for you.  If you are spontaneous (like me) and like to keep things fresh, putting together your own Home Notebook can be fun (or challenging) and creative.  And with the TONS of forms & templates available online already, if you don’t have time to create your own, a little research can set you up nicely!

After many (feeble) attempts at settling into one system, I’ve found one that works for me.  What inspired me to get here were the pictures I saw at Homekeeping Heart’s blog.  When I saw her pics, I was like “OOOOHHHHHHHHHHH!  I get it!”  (Visual learner here!)

And I copied her general layout.  I have  pretty covers on my binders.  I use a zippered penkeeper.  I have colored tabbed dividers with pretty divider inserts.  Efficiency is important to me, but so is beauty.  And my content is entirely personalized for efficiency for my Home Keeper duties & responsibilities.

I continue to modify the actual forms I’m using.  It’s fun for me, so I try new ones.  I’m finding that my daily routine changes so often for one reason or another, but that I have a general task list that should be accomplished weekly.  As long as my bathroom, kitchen, & floors are clean – I am easier about the rest on a daily basis.  The trash gets picked up. The dust gets wiped away eventually.

I think that has been where I’d get hung up in all the previous “systems” I’ve tried to use to be organized.  Trying to stay within the box of each system, and not really formatting it to FIT ME and the way my family lives and the limitations of our house, etc.  Since I’m not relying solely on one system or website or resource, I’m finding that the creativity is allowing me some breathing room and I’m settling in nicely.

I’m baking more and spending more time in my kitchen, and that is both creative & messy.  With my new bread starters, and trying new recipes, the kitchen has been my home.  And I’ve loved it.  BUT – I’m doing dishes all the time it seems, and washing dishes is my VERY least favorite chore.  I’m leaning to establishing a system of major baking / cooking once a week to start, and when I get better at it, I’d like to be cooking 2 times a month.  That’s a goal of mine.  Once a month cooking seems impossible at this point, but it’s something I’ll still strive for – only because I can make one large mess and then clean it up.

Wow Wow Wednesday! Baking Bread

Here is a scrumptious banana bread recipe that I have to share with you. I only made half the recipe (2 loaves), and I will play with the ingredients a bit to reduce both the fat and the sugar, and when I create something successfully, I’ll post that version, too.

This sounds like a terrific Friendship Bread starter, so I’ve got a batch “brewing” and found some yummy recipes to play with at allrecipes.com, too.  I’ll make the bread with my first batch, and then move into muffins, cakes, etc.

My next project is to make this Sweet Sourdough Starter.  We all love sourdough bread at our house, and I found some other recipes to use this starter in, too.

Do you like to bake?  Do you enjoy the bread making process?  I enjoy baking bread – the whole process – whether it’s a quick fruit based bread, or a slow, delightfully yummy yeast bread. The fresh ingredients, the smell of bread baking – Mmmmmm – smells like “HOME” doesn’t it?

What keeps you from baking (or cooking) the things you love?  Is it time?  Is it space? Until now I’ve used my lack of counter space as an excuse NOT to do much baking, but since implementing My Home Keeper’s Notebook, I’m finding more time to get dishes done & off the counter (amazing how that works), and am really enjoying my kitchen more than I have in the past.

If you enjoy coffee (hot or cold) with your freshly baked bread – check out these recipes!

Well, I hear the pitter patter of little feet, so it’s time to go get started with our day!