Do you like Okra, Gumbo?

I'm so excited to find this recipe for Okra-Gumbo Freezer Mix. My family is going to love this one! But I'm wondering if there will be anything left to freeze? My garden has a lot of Okra, and I'm glad.

Okra Gumbo Freezer Mix

5 Pounds fresh Okra sliced
6 medium onions, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 15-ounce can of tomato sauce
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper

Combine all ingredients. Spoon into 2 13 x 9 inch pans. Cover with foil.
Bake at 300 degrees for 2 hours, stirring after 1 hour. Let cool completely. Spoon into 4 1-pint freezer containers.

Can freeze up to 4 months.

Cream of Cauliflower Soup

I saw this recipe and it looked so yummy....and easy (my two favorite things). Enjoy!

3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion -- chopped
1 1/2 quarts chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 10 oz. package frozen cauliflower
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper to taste

In a soup pot, melt butter and add onion. Cook till onion is translucent. Add flour and incorporate, making sure flour isn't lumpy before adding chicken broth. Add broth and bring to a boil.

Add cauliflower to broth and simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer cauliflower to a blender and puree (use a slotted spoon). Add back to the soup pot. Mix well and add milk, salt and pepper to taste. Heat to a very low simmer, but do not boil or soup will break.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS: A big green salad and some whole grain rolls (if you don’t mind the carbs) will do the trick. Also, calorie count is low so feel free to have a couple of bowls.

From our good friend Leanne Ely at:

Weightwatchers--It is gorgeous!

Cinnamon Peach Pie from Weightwatchers!

Oh my heavens! Have you ever seen anything more beautiful than this pie? I love it--not only does it taste good, but it makes you look like a chef! Presentation, presentation, presentation!

2 pound(s) peach(es), yellow or white variety
1/3 cup(s) sugar
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp butter
4 oz gingersnap(s), about 18 cookies

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Cut peaches in half and remove pits. Cut each peach half into four slices. Combine peaches, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and cornstarch in a medium bowl; set aside.

Melt butter in microwave or on stovetop. Crush gingersnaps into crumbs; place in a small bowl. Pour melted butter into crumbs and combine thoroughly.

Pat crumb mixture into bottom of a 9-inch ceramic or glass pie plate; make sure crumbs are evenly distributed.

Starting at edge of pie plate, arrange peach slices in concentric circles so that they cover entire surface of pie and form a petal-like pattern. To form center of flower, arrange several peach slices in a small circle. Pour any remaining liquid from peach mixture over top of pie so it is evenly distributed.

Bake pie in bottom 1/3 of oven for 20 minutes; reduce heat to 325ºF and bake for 40 minutes more.

Remove from oven and cool completely in pie plate on a wire rack (about 2 hours). Slice into 8 pieces just before serving. Yields 1 piece per serving.

You can peel the peaches but do not have to — the choice is yours. This pie can be made up to 1 day ahead, refrigerated and then served chilled or at room temperature.

For a really exciting presentation, use a yellow peach for the center of your flower design and white peaches for the petals. Serve with a dollop of light whipped cream

Now that we are getting back into the habit of GREAT breakfasts!

I love Leanne Ely's belief about the family dinner table. It's all right there--just like the family that prays together stays together, the family that eats together has it all. Where else can you get the true story of what is really going on in your family's lives? That extra 30 minutes a day will create family memories and give them the armour of God when they are away from home.

Breakfast for Dinner

by Leanne Ely, C.N.C.
My passion in life is that everyone would understand just how important the family dinner table is. That simple piece of furniture represents an intimate ministry in the home that will leave a legacy. To lose this focus and become driven by all kinds of extra curricular activities (both for the kids and the parents) is to lose your family vision. Those are some sharp words, but the consequence of skipping this ritual in favor of another activity is to invite chaos into your home and influence that you don’t want. Statistics have proven over and over again that the family that eats dinner together at least 4 times a week, at the family dinner table (not in front of the tube or in the car) will have children who are less likely to do drugs, drink, have premarital sex and do better in school. What parent doesn’t want that? And all because of a simple thing like dinner. Amazing how un-complex it all is, isn’t it?

The family dinner table represents the connection we have with each other. Each person sitting at the table isn’t there by accident, but is (I believe) a God-given gift and a specific fit for your family. If I had the opportunity to give every woman on the planet a gift, it would be a vase of flowers for the middle of their dinner tables to remind them that this is a sacred place where their families are not only fed, but nurtured and loved. Where heart strings are tied and relationships realigned. I invite you this week to make that sacred place pretty. Even if you are facing a raging schedule, at least attempt one dinner there this week. Are you up to the challenge? I know you can do this! Splurge on some flowers, or just a big bowl of apples in a basket you love. You could EVEN do candles if you wanted! As a matter of fact, why not have Breakfast for Dinner this week? It’s quick, easy and your kids will love it.

My children have many fond memories of sipping orange juice from a stemmed glass and listening to Vivaldi by candlelight while diving into a stack of pancakes! It will take 5 minutes to set the table and will create a lifetime of memories—I promise. Sometimes those old fashioned breakfasts of pancakes, waffles and eggs are near impossible to pull off even on weekend mornings. Why not have it for dinner?
Here’s a recipe to get you started:

Crustless No Recipe Quiche
Serves about 6
• 1 dozen eggs, beaten like for scrambled eggs
• 1/4 cup milk
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1 small package of frozen, chopped spinach; drained
• 1/2 a small onion chopped and sauteed
• 1 cup ground beef, cooked (I use just about anything from leftover spaghetti meat to leftover taco meat--use whatever you have)
• 6 oz. shredded sharp cheddar (I use lowfat)

In a bowl, beat your eggs and add milk, salt and pepper. In a lightly greased 9 x 13 pan, put meat, spinach and cheese down then top with egg mixture. Bake @ 350 for 20-30 minutes, but check it often. I have noticed a great deal of difference in cooking times on this. Serve it with a great big salad and some whole grain bread and you have one wonderful supper.

For the spinach, you can use broccoli instead if you like. I’ve substituted the meat for turkey ham or sausage even or left it out. You can do anything in the cheese dept. This (un)recipe has served me very well and guess what? It will work for you low carbers, too! That's all there is to it. Simple, easy, cheap and quite good! Enjoy!

Breakfast Mixes
by Leanne Ely, C.N.C.

To make the most of our days and to really start off right, it’s important to remember that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This is when you break your fast from not eating all night. Your blood sugar is low—you need fuel. To start the day fuel-less is akin to taking a car on a long journey hoping the reserve tank will get you there and back—I promise you, it’s not gonna happen. Most likely you will end up eating something greasy from a drive-thru because your blood sugar has crashed or waiting till lunch and then eating out of control because you’re starving. Let’s not even talk about our foul moods due to our blood sugar being in the can. This is not how we’re meant to operate and we deserve better.

The wonderful thing about breakfast is that it’s a cheap and easy meal. I’m not talking about the artificially colored, overly sugared breakfast cereals. That stuff is so over priced, you’ll need to take a second out on your house just to keep up with the expense! Not only that, but the only thing those cereals are good for is getting your kids hyper—there is NO nutritional redemption in that expensive stuff. Let me say this again: YOU are the parent and YOU can control what goes in your child’s cereal bowl every day.

Pancakes and waffles are more “weekend” food. Who has time to make them during the week? YOU do if you can get these mixes together. Even better, you can make extra pancakes or waffles on the weekend, freeze them in big freezer zipper topped bags and use them instead of those expensive and less nutritious toaster waffles in the freezer section in the store.

Here’s a terrific mix:
8 cups flour (if you’d like an all whole wheat mix, use whole wheat pastry flour from health food stores)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour (at some markets, but for sure at health food stores. Optional; use more whole wheat flour if you can’t find it)
1/2 cup cornmeal (stone ground)
1 1/2 cups oatmeal (blend in your blender till powdered)
2 cups buttermilk powder (this is in the baking section of your market)
5 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 cup sugar (or sucanat—natural sugar at the health food store)
2 tablespoons salt

This will make four quarts. Mix all together in a very large bowl and divvy up into gallon sized freezer storage bags. I would mark the date with a Sharpie pen and keep it in the freezer although you can keep in your pantry.

To make pancakes or waffles:
1 cup pancake mix
1 egg
1/2 to 2/3 cup water (start with the lesser amount first and add if you need to)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
In a medium bowl, stir mix with water, egg and vegetable oil. Heat your griddle and make your pancakes as usual! To make waffles, double the batter and follow the directions for your waffle iron.

Basic Muffin Mix
Makes 11 cups
8 cups flour (again, if you prefer whole wheat, use whole wheat pastry flour)
3 cups sugar (can use sucanat if you prefer, see note on pancake mix)
3 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
Combine everything in a large bowl and divide into freezer zipper topped bags. Mark date with a Sharpie pen and store in the freezer or cool dry place.

To make muffins:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, mix together 3 cups baking mix, 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, 2 eggs, 3/4 cup milk and 3/4 cup berries, raisins, chocolate chips or whatever else you’d like. Bake in a prepared muffin pan—that means lightly greased (I prefer the cupcake papers—easy clean up!), filling cups 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until nicely browned. Cool for five minutes in the pan then turn out on to a rack to cool. Makes about 12 muffins, depending on the size of your muffin tin.

While we are on the topic of vegetables....

Since we are on the topic of vegetables, have you tried my favorite green bean recipe, compliments of my sister Connie? Here is a great way to introduce your children to the taste of the good life--green beans!

Frozen green beans (I like the "big bags" for sale at Sam's Club or Costco)
Sliced almonds
Butter--oh yeah, the good stuff!

In a large pan, saute the sliced almonds in butter--don't be too stingy with the butter--until they are just turning brown. Add the frozen green beans and stir to coat with the butter and almonds. Put a lid on the pan, turn down the heat and let cook until the beans are just tender. Don't let it go too long or they will get mushy. Ahhhh, they just melt in your mouth.

Simple Sautéed Spinach

I love spinach! When I saw this recipe I thought about how easy it is to prepare--so put some Zing in your step today--take regular spinach and make it Super Spinach!

2 tablespoon(s) extra-virgin olive oil
4 clove(s) garlic, thinly sliced
20 ounce(s) fresh spinach, (see Note)
1 tablespoon(s) lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
1/4 teaspoon(s) crushed red pepper


1.Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add spinach and toss to coat. Cover and cook until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add lemon juice, salt, and crushed red pepper. Toss to coat and serve immediately.

Tips & Techniques

Note: Baby spinach is immature or young spinach — it's harvested earlier than large-leaved mature spinach. We like the sturdy texture of mature spinach in cooked dishes and serve tender, mild-flavored baby spinach raw or lightly wilted. Baby and mature spinach can be used interchangeably in these recipes (yields may vary slightly); be sure to remove the tough stems from mature spinach before using.

Frugal Breakfast Foods

If you are looking for a little more variety for that all-important first meal of the day, try some of these ideas. They are a much more economical option that hitting the drive-through of your favorite fast-food place but still give you some of that same taste (just better of course because it’s homemade.

1. Have a piece of casserole. It takes time to cook eggs and bacon for breakfast. No one wants to ruin their clothes with the mess it can create. On Sunday night, get breakfast done early. Put together a casserole using your favorite ingredients. Fewer eggs are needed in a casserole than when frying or scrambling them for breakfast each morning. Depending on the size of your family, the casserole may last two to three mornings.

2. Yogurt. Yogurt is a healthy and economical breakfast choice. When you are eating on the run, grab a container of yogurt and some dried or fresh fruit. Cutting up fruit on top of the yogurt adds carbohydrates to fuel you for the morning in addition to the calcium and protein in the yogurt itself.

3. Breakfast shake. This is even quicker and can be ingested while driving without taking your eyes off the road or both hands off the wheel. Put together some frozen fruit favorites, ice cubes, frozen yogurt, and unsweetened juice in a blender. Pour into Styrofoam cups to keep it cold. Everyone can grab a cup on the way out the door. The nutritional effect is about the same as yogurt, but without the spoon.

4. Pigs in a blanket. This is the homemade version. Whip up a batch of pancakes and freeze them in short stacks of three. A package or two of frozen link sausage is needed to create this quick and economical meal idea. Thaw out a stack of pancakes. Heat up three sausages in the microwave. Wrap a pancake around each sausage. Voila! You�ve got an instant pig in a blanket. Eat it as you watch the last of your favorite morning show or as you walk to the bus stop. It can be eaten in the car without too much fuss or mess. For a sweeter taste and less mess, add a little maple syrup or honey to the batter when making the pancakes.

5. Breakfast sandwiches. In the evening, while you are getting things ready for the next day, grill up a few breakfast sandwiches. Choose whatever you like: turkey slices, ham slices, cheese, tomato, bacon, etc. When the sandwich cools, cut it into bite size pieces and put it in a container. In the morning, just grab a container; pop it into the microwave for fifteen or twenty seconds and breakfast is served.

These breakfast ideas are time saving and money-saving too. They make use of items you buy normally and also whatever you have around the house to create delicious fare for a morning rush. No more excuses for skipping breakfast or swinging into the fast food restaurant every morning.

Great freezer jams from our friends at

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Because this is made with berries, it does not need to be cooked—which makes for a super quick and easy jam. The fresh strawberry taste really shows through.


3 1/4 cups strawberries sliced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 package pectin, MCP brand or equal
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup


1.Wash and dry the five pint-sized jam jars or plastic containers. Make sure the lids fit tightly.
2.Wash and hull the strawberries and slice them. Measure the fruit to make certain that you have the right amount. Place the measured fruit in the bowl of your stand-type mixer. Add the lemon juice.
3.Using the paddle attachment, stir in the pectin thoroughly. Turn the mixer to the lowest setting and let the mixer run for ten minutes. Let sit for 20 minutes.
4.Add the corn syrup into the fruit mixture. The corn syrup reduces the likelihood of sugar crystallization. Add the sugar and stir with the mixer until it is completely dissolved and no longer grainy, about five minutes.
5.Immediately, pour the jam into your prepared containers leaving 1/2 inch clearance for expansion while freezing. Let the jars stand on the counter for 24 hours to allow the pectin to set then freeze.

1.Using the paddle and your stand type mixture will incorporate air in into your jam. The jam will be opaque and lighter color but quite attractive.
2.Once the pectin begins to set up thickening the jam, do not stir. Continuing to stir will break down the pectin and make for a syrupy jam.

Pineapple Peach Freezer Jam

You can make peach jam without cooking the peaches but minimal cooking does release the flavor. In this case, we enhanced the flavor with the addition of crushed pineapple.


2 1/2 cups chopped and cooked peaches
3/4 cup crushed pineapple
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 package pectin, MCP or equal
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup


1.Wash and dry the five pint-sized jam jars or plastic containers. Make sure the lids fit tightly.
2.Peel the peaches and chop them into fine pieces. Cook the peaches until bubbly and soft. Measure the fruit to make certain that you have the right amount. Place the measured fruit in the bowl of your stand-type mixer. Add the pineapple and lemon juice.
3.Using the paddle attachment, stir in the pectin thoroughly. Turn the mixer to the lowest setting and let the mixer run for ten minutes. Let sit for 20 minutes.
4.Add the corn syrup into the fruit mixture. The corn syrup reduces the likelihood of sugar crystallization. Add the sugar and stir with the mixer until it is completely dissolved and no longer grainy, about five minutes.
5.Immediately, pour the jam into your prepared containers leaving 1/2 inch clearance for expansion while freezing. Let the jars stand on the counter for 24 hours to allow the pectin to set then freeze.

If this doesn't make you hungry....Balsamic Chicken Salad Recipe, so easy!

MIX mayo and dressing in medium bowl.

ADD chicken, peppers and onions; mix lightly.

SPOON onto spinach-covered plate; top with cheese.

1/4 cup KRAFT Mayo with Olive Oil Reduced Fat Mayonnaise
1/4 cup KRAFT Classic Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2-1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken breasts
1 Red pepper, chopped
4 Green onions, chopped
4 cups Baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup ATHENOS Crumbled Reduced Fat Feta Cheese

Along with that thought....waffle makers are pretty handy!

If you have taken my cooking class, you've shared our recipe for Chocolate Waffle Cookies, but in case you missed it....heavenly!

Mix together:
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
6 Tbls. cocoa
1 cup flour
Cook for EXACTLY 1 minute in a warmed waffle iron (no more than 1.5 minutes)

Top with chocolate frosting, yum, yum! Just a thought, one batch is never enough, it's easier to just double the recipe from the get-go! :)

Well I never would have thought!

See how smart our friends at Pillsbury are... Mini Biscuit Waffles.

Spray your waffle maker with cooking spray and heat. Use a can of Pillsbury biscuits and separate the dough into 10 biscuits. Place up to 4 biscuits at a time (1 per square) and close lid. Cook 1 to 2 minutes until light golden brown. Serve with syrup, peanut butter or jam--or just good old butter!

Now how fast is that for a quick breakfast--or a great after-school treat. Thanks Pillsbury!

Is breakfast getting you down? Try these!

Quick Cinnamon Rolls

•3-1/4 cups Biscuit Mix (homemade is fine)
•1 cup milk
•1/3 cup softened margarine
•1/2 cup brown sugar or Sucanat
•1 teaspoon cinnamon
•1/2 cup finely chopped nuts, optional
In a large bowl combine the biscuit mix and milk. Mix the milk and biscuit mix together until you have a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a large sheet of waxed paper. Knead the dough gently for few second. Pat the dough into a rectangular shape. Using a rolling pin or a heavy jar or glass, roll the dough out so that it is about half an inch thick. Try to keep it in a rectangular shape as you roll it out, this is a little challenging at first, but becomes very easy with practice.

Spread the margarine over the dough like spreading peanut butter on bread. Sprinkle on the brown sugar, breaking up any large lumps as you come across them. Scatter the cinnamon over the brown sugar. If you are using nuts, then sprinkle them on now too.

Now comes the part that takes a little skill. Lift up one side of the waxed paper and use it to help you roll up the dough like a jellyroll, with the filling on the inside of the roll. Pull back the waxed paper as you go so it doesn’t get inadvertently wrapped up in the roll. When the roll is nicely formed, use a sharp knife to cut it into about a dozen slices. I cut in the center first and then I cut each half in half again, making even quarters. Each quarter is then divided into 3 or 4 slices depending on how thick I want my cinnamon rolls to be. I prefer the rolls thicker rather than thinner.

Arrange the cinnamon rolls in well-greased muffin cups, or side by side in a well-greased 9 by 13-inch rectangular pan. If desired, squirt a little Pancake Syrup in the center of each cinnamon roll for flavor and stickiness. Bake the rolls at 400° for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before eating. You may be tempted to eat them sooner, but if you do, you will burn the inside of your mouth. These are also good cold, and make good lunch box desserts.

Breakfast Scones

•2 cups whole wheat flour
•2 tablespoons sugar
•1 tablespoon baking powder (3 teaspoons)
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1/3 cup shortening or margarine
•1 medium egg
•1/2 cup milk or yogurt or buttermilk (powdered is fine)
•1 tablespoon sugar, for sprinkling

In your favorite large mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a fork or your hands to cut in the shortening or margarine like you would for biscuits. Be careful not to over mix. The mixture should be crumbly, and the fat should be in chunks the size of peas or dried beans. In a measuring cup, measure the milk of your choice. Crack in the egg and beat until smooth. Pour this into the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl. Stir the mixture with a fork, forming a soft dough. Scatter a little extra flour about the dough and form it into a cohesive ball. Knead the dough in the bowl about 8 or 10 times. Do not over mix. Pat the dough into a large circle about 1/2-inch thick on a well-oiled pizza pan or cookie sheet. Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut the circle into 8 pie-shaped wedges. Sprinkle the sugar on top if desired. Bake at 425° for about 15 minutes. The scones will be well-risen and golden brown. Serve hot right away with margarine and jelly. I prefer these with orange marmalade. Serves 8.

Donut Muffins

•1/3 cup shortening
•1/2 cup sugar
•1 medium egg
•1-1/2 cups flour
•1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
•3/4 cup milk

For The Topping:
•1/2 cup powdered sugar
•1 teaspoon cinnamon
•1/4 cup melted margarine

In a mixing bowl mash together the shortening and sugar. Add the egg and whisk it all up until it is smooth. Make sure you use shortening, Not Margarine. The shortening gives this recipe it’s special texture. Measure the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg into the bowl. Pour in the milk. Mix the batter with a whisk until it is smooth. Drop the mixture into 12 oiled muffin cups. Make sure not to over fill the muffin cups, 1/2 to 2/3 full is full enough. Bake the muffins at 350� for 25 minutes, or until the muffins are brown on top. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool slightly.

Mix the powdered sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.

Take the muffins out of the pan. When they are cool enough to handle, dip the tops of the muffins into the melted margarine. Then dip them into the powdered sugar/cinnamon mixture. Arrange the prepared muffins on a large plate and serve while still warm. Makes a dozen. Very good for breakfast and after school or midnight snacks.

This recipe is at least 80 years old. It was created by a cook with leftover donut batter who didn’t have time to deep fry them. She added a little milk to make the batter thinner, and cooked it in muffin cups instead of deep frying it. The nutmeg is the secret ingredients which gives these muffins their special old fashioned donut flavor. Necessity is the mother of invention, and bless the cook who invented these. My family is grateful.

Sweet Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Now here is a recipe that will become a favorite with your family--hands down! Our friends at have provided us with a great recipe that can really stretch. If you watch for pork roasts to come on sale--at $.99 per pound, this becomes a very economical dish. And you can easily have enough for at least two meals. This also serves well as meat in a taco salad, or in burritos. Your family will ask for more, and more, and more! And the real joy is that you cook it in your crockpot. (Whatever did we do before crockpots?) Enjoy!

1 (5 lb.) pork should roast or butt roast

dry rub:
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

3 small yellow onions cut into large wedges

1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, crushed or grated
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Put the onions in the crockpot first. Blend dry rub ingredients with fork and gently press and rub over the pork roast. Then put the pork roast in the crockpot on top of the onions.

In a glass bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients until smooth. Pour 1/2 the sauce mixture over the pork roast in the crockpot, coating the meat well. (Store the remaining 1/2 of the sauce mixture in the refrigerator for later.)

Cover the crockpot and set on LOW temperature. Cook, undisturbed, for 8 to 9 hours.

Remove the meat from the crockpot to a platter and shred with a fork. Pick the onion out from the crockpot and discard. Return the shredded meat to the crockpot, add the sauce mixture you refrigerated earlier to the crockpot and stir to combine well. Put cover back on crockpot and let heat through, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Keep warm and serve on hearty buns. You can make another small batch of the sauce to serve alongside the sandwiches if you wish. Just heat the sauce in a pan for about 15 minutes on low, then pour into a serving bowl with a ladle.

School Starts Today!!!

And if school starts today, what does that have to do with cooking? Everything! Now is the time to "rise to the occasion"! It's sort of a double edged sword, isn't it? We have more time because at least some of our children are at school, and less time because we are busy getting them to school and trying to organize ourselves. Starting school is kind of like spring cleaning for me--either use it to my advantage or just stress that I didn't get it all done. With paper and pen in hand, now is the time to decide to plan ahead for school lunches and start planning menus for the week. Not only is it less stressful, but you give yourself the gift of time. I have attached an article published by What great tips to save some time and money! Now those are two words that should get your attention. Enjoy.

Make Meals in 30 Minutes or Less
by Jill Cooper

I was having dinner at my son's house the other night and my daughter-in-law had fixed "old fashioned" baked potatoes. You know, the kind you make in the oven and not the microwave. Boy, they were good. It seems that so many things taste better slow cooked in the oven.

We started talking about how much longer it took to cook them in the oven compared to the microwave. That started me thinking. Yes, it does take longer in actual cooking time but in some ways it is easier. When I bake potatoes in the oven, I get them ready and in the oven an hour before dinner and then just forget about them until dinner is ready. Then, all I have to do is set them on the table and dinner is served. When I microwave them, I tend to start cleaning them and preparing them at the same time that I'm trying to make a salad and heat up the veggies. While I'm doing all of that, I have to remember to keep turning the potatoes and if I am cooking several, I have to put a few in the microwave and when they are done, pull them out and add more, all of this at the same time that I am trying to prepare the rest of the meal.

Why is it that, even though we have faster methods of cooking our meals, they seem to have become more frenzied and hurried than years ago? Then it dawned on me -- With the introduction of the microwave and the idea that meals can be prepares in 30 minutes, most people do nothing to prepare or plan their meals until 30 minutes before they are going to eat. Then, 30 minutes before dinner you find yourself trying to thaw something, cook it, and slap it on the table and at the same time talk and deal with tired, hungry, cranky kids. Let's not forget how exhausted you are at this time of day, too.

We need to warm up our ovens and start using them again the way our grandmothers use to do. Here are some tips and ideas that prove that cooking meals in a conventional oven instead of a microwave can be just as quick and easy, not to mention how much more delicious they taste and smell. I think we underestimate the power of coming home and smelling something yummy cooking. We automatically seem to relax, feeling that "all is well with the world". I really think it can change the whole atmosphere of your home for the evening.

I am not living in a dream world. You can fix meals the way our grandmothers did. I hear some readers saying, "Our grandmothers weren't ever as busy as we are and so they had time to fix large meals." I can hear our grandmothers chuckling at that statement. My husband's grandmother had to help on the farm from early in the morning until evening. She took care of a large home garden, canned, cleaned house every day, did laundry without a washer or dryer and still provided meals not only for her family, but up to 20 farm hands as well. She had to do it all without a refrigerator, microwave, or a grocery store and the nearest water was a mile away from her house.

My mother-in-law would go to work as early as 7 am and work until 9 pm 6 days a week, but she still managed to make three large meals each day. If you're thinking, "That's great if you want to spend all your spare time in the kitchen," consider that they spent less time in the kitchen than we do with less of the conveniences and still managed to have well balanced delicious meals each day.

What was their secret? -- They had never heard of 30 minute meals. Even if they had they would probably have laughed and wondered who would spend so much time on a meal? They knew that the key to a quick meal wasn't how fast you could cook, but how organized you were. You can easily have a meal on the table in 15 minutes if you are organized and plan ahead.
No, this doesn't mean you have to microwave or fry everything to have a quick meal. Slow cooking something in the oven not only makes things taste better but sometimes is quicker.

Our grandmothers' secret to quick meals:
• Keep your meals simple.
• Be organized.
• Decide what you are preparing the night or the morning before.
• Thaw anything you need the night or the morning before.
• Prepare as much of the meal as you can during the slow time of your day and when you are most refreshed. (This is very important.)
• Slow cook meats in the oven or in a crock pot.
• Keep your kitchen clean so you have an uncluttered work area.

Here are some ideas on what to prepare. These aren't elaborate gourmet meals. If you are too busy to cook dinner, then you are to busy to make gourmet dinners. Stick with the basics and keep it simple like our grandmothers did.

Slow Cooked Roast: Place a roast in a crock pot or pan. Peel five potatoes and carrots and drop them in with it and turn on the oven. This takes five minutes. Clean and cut broccoli, celery and cucumbers for a salad -- five minutes. At dinner time, chop lettuce and tomato for the salad, adding the already prepared veggies. Then put the meat and the fixings on a platter -- five more minutes. Voila! Dinner in 15 minutes.

Stew: It takes me seven minutes to cube meat*, peel five potatoes, carrots and onions, toss it into a pot and to season it. At dinner time, I put bread or dinner rolls on the table -- one to two minutes and I have dinner in nine minutes.

*Ask your butcher to cube or slice all your meat for you. They usually charge nothing or just a few cents per pound. It saves not only time in cutting but in clean up too.

Chicken: Toss a chicken in a pan or crock pot -- two minutes. Clean potatoes to put in with chicken or to bake in the oven -- three minutes. At dinner time, warm a veggie -- two minutes. Slice some fruit -- three minutes. Dinner in 10 minutes.

Lasagna: Put noodles in a pot to boil -- one minute. Fry hamburger, get out cheese, tomato sauce and the rest of the fixings; mix sauce while noodles boil, 7-8 minutes. Layer everything -- two minutes. Cover and put in the fridge for dinner the next day or that evening. Put the lasagna in the oven to heat while getting out of your work clothes, checking the mail, etc. Set the table and cut a salad -- five minutes. Dinner is served; 15 minutes.

Beef stroganoff: Make your beef stroganoff in your crock pot. (If you don't want to use a crock pot, this recipe usually takes very little time just stirring it up in a pan.) Dump everything but sour cream and noodles, into the crock pot -- three minutes and simmer all day on low. Clean carrots, celery sticks and broccoli for a relish dish (five minutes) and put it in the fridge. At dinner time, boil egg noodles (5-7 minutes). While they are boiling, add sour cream to sauce and set the table. Total time: 15 minutes.

Chili: Mix everything in a pot the night before. Depending what you put in, it should take 5-10 minutes. Simmer throughout the next day.

Soup: Do the same as with the chili.

These are just general example of ways to make quick and easy meals. It isn't really a matter of time as much as it is a matter of being organized and getting things done before you are too exhausted to think.

If you have meats thawed and the ingredients on hand, most things can be tossed together in about the same time as it takes to order and wait to get your food at a fast food place.

Also, remember when you have your oven going to try to cook more than one thing in it. For example, if you are going to be baking a casserole, bake a pan of brownies, muffins or baked apples at the same time.