How to Feed Your Family When Your Oven is Broken

How is it that I feed my family all summer without turning on the oven, but right now I’m like, “Oh no! My oven is broken! What will we eat? How will I cook?”

I’d grill but it’s been rainy and drizzly for several days. This rain makes me want to bake. Of course. Poor me. I’m stuck with only my stove-top, electric skillet, fryer, blender, food processor, and crock pot. As you can see, I’m practically without any options.

Heavenly Homemaker's Messy Kitchen

The good news:

I think I’m getting my dream stove/oven out of this!!!

When the oven went out on Sunday, producing banana bread that was crispy on top but more like tepid, stringy banana pudding in the middle (so yum), Matt spent some time (once again) trying to fix it. Could he fix it? Yes. But after a while, he was over it. He surprised me with an offer. “How would you like to go shopping for a new oven?”

I thought he was kidding. We always just make do. If it breaks, we fix it. If it’s barely hanging on, we hang on with it. Therefore I kidded back with, “Yes! I want it to be a double oven! Also, I want to get rid of the electric hook up and instead hook up gas! Let’s go shopping for a gas range with a double oven!”

And Matt was like, “Hmm. Sounds good.” {Laura passes out.}

I’d never shared these dreams with him before. But knowing how much I cook and bake (which of course benefits him greatly), and how lame our stove/oven have been for so many years, I think Matt decided it was time to fork it out for a quality appliance.

I might have started acting like a five year old who was getting a double oven for Christmas. Sure, it was hard for me to think about paying extra for my dream range. But we were going to have to drop some money on a new range anyway. Might as well get the one that benefits our family and guests the most.

More good news:

You guys, not only am I going to have a double oven – I’m gonna have gas. I’m also going to say it like that to everyone I meet because it catches people off guard and makes us all giggle. I’ll say, “I haven’t had gas for years, but Matt is awesome and surprised me. So now I have gas. Finally!!” And then my friends will say, “Laura has gas! We are so happy for her.”

Won’t that just be so much fun? 

In the meantime, I still don’t have an oven.

One doesn’t drop that much money without first doing research to decide which is the best option for purchase. (We’re looking at one like this. It’s one of the least expensive, if you can believe it. Cha-ching!) While I’m waiting for the range to come in and be installed, I decided to make a list of non-oven great food options. There are hundreds. I’ll just make a list based on what I have on hand and what is on sale this week.

Funny, by the way, that since I know I can’t bake, all I can think of are foods I want to bake. That’s the main reason I’m making this list. I have to get my mind off of cake.

Meals You Can Make Without an Oven

Food I Can Make While My Oven is Broken

I had decided that breakfast is the trickiest, but as I look through this page of Breakfast Recipe Ideas, I’m finding quite a bit to work with. I have no idea why I’m making this hard. I’m just spoiled, that’s all.

Links to My Favorite Non-Oven Appliances

In case you’re interested, this is what I have in my kitchen. These will all be used double time this week, you can be sure!

  • My Crock Pot
  • My Electric Skillet (This is 60% off right now!)
  • My Cast Iron Griddle (Also being offered a huge discount right now if you need one. Only $22!)
  • My Blender (Pricey but worth it)
  • My Waffle Iron (It’s a cheapo)
  • My Fryer (Mine is actually a little different than that, but they don’t seem to make mine anymore.)
  • My Toaster Oven (I do NOT recommend this one. It’s cheap and burns toast. I had one like this before but when we broke the door I was too stingy to pay that much again. I regret the “money savings” – something I’m trying to keep in mind while shopping for a double oven.)

As you can see, I’ll still be able to make huge messes in my kitchen and my children won’t even starve while I am without an oven. There are loads of options.

As soon as I have gas, I’ll let you know. If that isn’t something to look forward to, I don’t know what is.

Do you have any non-oven recipe ideas to share? How about double-oven purchasing advice? Gas related thoughts? Really. I’m open to just about anything you’d like to share. 

Get Your Kids Into The Kitchen This Week! (What Malachi is Learning)

I tell you, when my older boys were little I had them in the kitchen learning with me all the time. It’s amazing, though, what Malachi has missed out on by being the youngest of four. Poor kid. I read to him less, took fewer pictures of him – basically he has all the “baby of the family” issues. You can see how sad and miserable he is as a result:

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There. We can’t say I never took his picture.

One thing that has been nice the past few months is that while the older boys have been at basketball practice on Tuesday/Thursday nights – Malachi has had quite a bit of one-on-one time with the parents. We’ve used these nights to work on special projects – one in particular has been in the area of cooking. (He’s also been dreaming of and planning a state-wide Lego Convention with Matt, because when Malachi has an idea it’s go big or go home.)

I’ve been pulling him down onto my lap (because yay, he still fits!) and together we’ll watch a cooking video from the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse that came out in January. We talk about what we watched. We make plans for what to cook, based on the skills he just learned. We practice the skills together. This kid has made huge strides in just a few weeks!

In fact, he and I got so excited about what he’s learning that we spent part of the month of February writing a little cookbook together! I’m not even kidding. (More about his book later!)

Malachi's Favorite Cookbook small

Score one (or one-thousand) for being intentional. That’s really all it takes: Deciding you’re going to teach your kid something – then actually following through with it. (That is profound parenting advice, right there.)

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Free 3-Part Kids Cook Real Food Videos

This all started for Malachi and me back in January when we took advantage of Katie’s FREE Knife Skills Training Lessons. He learned loads in those lessons alone. Now Malachi confidently cuts everything from apples to strawberries to carrots – and I confidently hand him the sharp knives. (I am totally working myself out of a job.)

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I’m so happy to share that Katie opened up access to these FREE video lessons again just for Heavenly Homemaker readers. They are completely free – so grab the videos, grab your kids, then grab some knives. ( <—For your fruits and vegetables. Oh, you know what I mean.)

What You Can Expect This Week

All this week we’ll be focused on getting our kids into the kitchen. Why?

  • Our kids need to know how to cook.
  • Our kids need to know about cooking nutritious foods (not just about putting a frozen pizza in the oven).

Even if you don’t have kids at home, I think you’ll still enjoy the posts during the next several days (because recipes and a craft!!!). Here’s the line-up for this week:

  • Kid (and everyone else) Friendly Recipe: Crustless Pizza Pie
  • Kid (and everyone else) Friendly 3-Ingredient Recipe: Homemade {Real Food} Tootsie RollsI am not kidding!
  • Easy 5-Minute Recipe Card Holder Craft Tutorial for Kids and Adults Alike (If I can make it, you can make it. Wait until you see how cute!)
  • Lists of easy recipes (with links) your kids can learn to make on their own
  • And don’t forget that this week only, you have access to the FREE Knife Skills Videos and Lessons.

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A Word About the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse

Registration for Katie’s Kids Cook Real Food eCourse closed right after Malachi and I signed up in January. Since that time, it has benefited our family more than I ever imagined it would. Malachi wasn’t super thrilled to watch the first video with me and get started in the kitchen (because it’s easier to let someone else do the work, right?). But in just a few weeks, he has gone from knowing very little about cooking to being able to do dozens of kitchen tasks. Now each week when a new lesson hits our inbox, Malachi actually gets excited!

“Did we get a new cooking video? I really like those, Mom. You should tell Katie that I really like the videos and the lessons. What’s this new one about?”

That is why I emailed Katie recently – to let her know that her eCourse has been a huge blessing to our family, and to ask her if she would pretty please open up her cart for a few days in Feb/March so more of you can jump aboard this amazingness with Malachi and me. She said “sure!” You need to know that we scored big to be given this privilege, because the cart doesn’t open back up for the general public until May!

What Surprises Me Most About The Kids Cook Real Food eCourse

I’ve been cooking since I was about 8-years old. I’ve been researching nutrition and real-food eating for over 10 years. I consider myself to be pretty good in the kitchen and pretty knowledgeable about food in general.

But I have learned oodles of facts I did not know while working through this eCourse with Malachi.

I didn’t know the thing about the garlic! I didn’t even know the thing about the rice. (I can’t tell you which things because that’s not fair to Katie.) If your kids are taking the course and you read/hear the things about the garlic and the rice, please email me to tell me if you knew. Did you know??

I Have a Bunch of Free Stuff for You To Go With This eCourse

You might remember me saying that I’ve been wanting to put together a Kids Cooking eCourse for years. I was even a little bit disappointed when I heard Katie was making one because I wanted to make one! (<— best read in a whiny voice.) Then I saw what Katie had put together, and I was like, “Well, wow. This is a million times better than I would have/could have done. This is incredible.”

But if I would have made one (which I didn’t), I would have geared it around my Teaching Your Kids to Cook and Learn to Cook ebooks. They would have gone hand-in-hand because those books have a lot of basic cooking information and of course – many easy-to-make real food recipes.

Katie’s class is perfectly set up to teach your kids to cook the real foods you regularly make in your kitchen. This means that if your family has allergies, your child learns to make allergy friendly food your family can eat. It means that if your family has favorite recipes, your child learns to make your family’s favorite recipes. This means that no matter what cookbook your child has, he/she can read it and cook from it.

That’s why it’s fun to be able to give you all 212 pages worth of my Teaching Your Kids to Cook and Learn to Cook ebooks FOR FREE when you buy the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse this week. Then you and your kids will have even more great real food recipes to work with!

Free Teaching Your Kids to Cook eBooks

Additional Freebies!

I’ve been creating some simple activities for Malachi to complete as he has been working his way through the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse. They are fun and effective – reinforcing the skills and nutrition tips he’s been learning. So I packaged them up for you to enjoy with your kids too! Get the Kids Cook Real Food Activities Packet for FREE when you buy Katie’s eCourse this week.

Kids Cook Real Food Activities Packet - Free with Purchase

A Special FREE Copy of Malachi’s Favorite Cookbook

Malachi and I had so much fun working together to write a cookbook. Wait until you read, “Malachi’s Best Cooking Tips!” on page 2 of his book. (He actually used the word, “duh!” which I edited out then put back in because he is eleven and adorable and I couldn’t not include it.)

I’m guessing Malachi’s favorite recipes will soon be your child’s favorite recipes. The book includes 16 of his favorites. Of course, now that we’ve completed it and we keep cooking together, he keeps thinking of more. “We should have added that recipe to my cookbook!” Good thing we included extra pages at the back of the book for your child (and mine) to add new favorites as he/she discovers tasty recipes he/she enjoys!

Malachi agreed that we could give this book away for free this week to anyone who buys the eCourse. “People should get these classes, Mom. They’re really good. Tell them it’s really good.” <— Malachi has spoken.

Malachi's Favorite Cookbook Samples2

So Let’s Review

  1. Everyone can sign up this week to enjoy the FREE Knife Skills Training Videos with your kids. Do this now! You’ll love it!
  2. I have some really great recipes and a craft tutorial ready to share with you this week. Homemade tootsie rolls? Absolutely, yes!
  3. The Kids Cook Real Food eCourse is open just for Heavenly Homemaker readers, just through Monday, March 7. It is well worth your money and time investment.
  4. To sweeten the pot, I’m giving everyone who purchases the eCourse a free Learn to Cook eBook (102 pages), a free Teaching Your Kids to Cook eBook (111 pages), a free copy of Malachi’s Favorite Cookbook (15 pages), and a free KCRF Activity Packet (10 pages)!

To get your freebies and to be entered into our drawing, you’ll just need to email me to let me know that you made the purchase. I’ll have your name in a ledger, but I won’t have your email address. So I can check the ledger, then email you back with the goods!

It’s going to be a great week! At home we’ll be starting with Malachi cutting broccoli, carrots, and zucchini for stir-fry. See? Told you I was working myself out of a job. :)

Look forward to fun kid-friendly recipes coming right up!

Learn More About the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse Here.

This post contains my referral links.

Kid Cooking Skills and Character Training – At the Same Time! (A Fun Freebie for You!)

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I’m so excited to give you all this freebie today! I mean, you get a book, not the cute kid making muffins up there. He’s mine. All mine.

I’ve been getting Malachi into the kitchen with me more and more since we started working our way through Katie’s Kids Cook Real Food eCourse a few weeks ago. (The class isn’t open to join right now, but I love it so much that I’m sweet talking Katie into offering you a special promo here in a couple of weeks.) I’ve been amazed to watch Malachi’s skills improve and his confidence grow in just a short time.

I’d say I’m working myself out of a job, except that I’m finding that more than turning over the kitchen to my kids – I much prefer working side by side with them there. Some of our best conversations, our most fun inside jokes, and our most relaxed opportunities for teachable moments have come when we’re working in the kitchen together.

Parents – pull your kids into the kitchen with you! For so many reasons – from cooking skills to conversation opportunities – I feel this is important.

This leads me to the freebie I want all of you to have today.

FIll Em Up Coversm

Fill ‘Em Up! is one of the very first eBooks I wrote – based on fun and meaningful experiences I have had with my own kids or with teenagers from church. It is written for parents or teachers of children ages 4-18 (give or take). And actually, some of the ideas work for adult Bible lessons too. I’ll be using the “Homemade Butter in a Jar” idea this weekend with a group of ladies I study with.

Fill ‘Em Up! contains seven recipes, and each recipe is accompanied by two Bible lessons (one suggested for use with children ages 4-10, the other suggested for use with children 11-18).

The recipes and character lessons included are:

  • Pizza Casserole (A Lesson on Building Our Faith)
  • Honey Wheat Muffins (A Lesson on Using Our God Given Gifts)
  • Peanut Butter Fudgies (A Lesson About Following a Godly Leader)
  • Homemade Butter in a Jar (A Lesson About Being Transformed)
  • Fruitie Smoothies (A Lesson About Filling Ourselves with Goodness)
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies vs. Sugar Cookies (A Lesson About Not Comparing Ourselves with Others)

While you spend special time cooking and baking with your kids and filling their tummies…you also experience the joy of discussing God’s word together, which will fill their hearts with His wisdom. Thus the name…Fill ‘Em Up! What a fun way to study God’s word together!

This eBook is for sale in our shop here.

But wouldn’t you rather get it for FREE?

Well, of course.

For one week only, we’re giving this eBook away for free to anyone who wants it! Click here to access this freebie.

I’m super excited to share that signing up for these freebies will connect you to our new Heavenly Homemaker’s Learning Zone. It’s free, of course. You can unsubscribe at any time, your info will never be shared or sold, and being on this list means that you’ll be the first to know of the other fun (yes, FUN!) educational tools we’re putting together! 

P.S. If you are already subscribed to Heavenly Homemaker’s Learning Zone, you should have received an email yesterday giving you instant access to this freebie. Look in your inbox for the subject: A Free Kids Recipes and Character Training Book For You!

That One Time I Handed Out Knives to All My Kids

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It is a real thing that once your kids know how to cook, you can holler at them at meal prep time and say, “Hey, I need you to go cook dinner for us tonight please.” Then you can go about your business of running other household tasks while your children efficiently cook a meal.

It’s one of the coolest things ever, and I’m not just talking about handing them boxes of mac-and-cheese.

As the mom of four sons currently ages 11, almost 14, almost 16, and 18 – all of whom can cook at various skill levels – I can’t say enough about the importance of teaching your kids to cook. Is it easier to just go into the kitchen and do it yourself? When the kids are younger, absolutely. There were many times I banned all my little boys from the room so I could just get it done. But allow me to remind you about sentence number one up there. Our kids need to know how to cook! It is worth taking the effort to teach them to cook when they are young so that when they are older they can wait on you hand and foot (and also feed themselves well and all that).

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Boy #2 always walked around on the counter-top (close to the stove) while cooking.
He has grown out of this habit. We are grateful.

It’s been fun to revisit some pictures of my little cooking angels from back in the day. For some teenage reason, they don’t like me to take pictures of them cooking now. I mean, I think they’re still cute when they’re slicing and scrambling, but they usually say something about “hair not fixed” and “really, Mom?” so I put the camera away and let them go about their boiling and chopping. But cooking with these little guys has led to being cooked for by big guys, so I’ll just treasure it in my heart and leave my camera in my office.

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My children with knives…

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Walking on the counter-top by the stove aside, let’s talk about kitchen safety. Knives are almost always involved in cooking. There are so many questions about this! At what age is it safe to give kids a knife? What is the best way to teach them to cut safely? What should they be allowed to cut?

At this point in the mind of a parent, we get too scared to risk it and banish the kids from the kitchen (to play in the street). It seems safer.

Don’t give way to fear, and don’t hide the knives! You simply need to teach your kids how to use a knife safely. Just released today, here’s a fantastic free tool for us!

kids cook real food 1

Katie from Kitchen Stewardship put together a FREE Knife Skills Training for Kids Video Series. In fact, she has put together an entire, incredible eCourse on teaching kids to cook because she is nothing short of amazing. Through January 18, Katie is kicking off her eCourse by offering this Knife Skills Training course for FREE!

Malachi (my 11-year old) and I just signed up and watched Video #1 from start to finish. It is super! I love how Katie put catchy names to the different knife safety rules and methods to help kids remember the safe way to hold and use knives. (My favs are Top Chop and Up and Over Soldier – you have to watch the video to know what these are and to see how her methods make so much sense!) She created free downloadable flashcards to use along with the lesson too.

Sign up for the FREE Knife Skills Training for Kids Video Series here. It is so good!

This is how we work ourselves out of a job, help our kids appreciate the hard work it takes to prepare a meal, and keep all their fingers intact. Join me?

What have been your experiences with your kids in the kitchen?

This post contains affiliate links.

Easy Ways to Cook Once – Eat Twice (Some Pictures of My Kitchen Last Week)

I have taken it upon myself to write what I consider to be insightful kitchen proverbs worth living by. I highly recommend that you pick your favorite and immediately begin to stitch it into a needlepoint creation for your wall.

Life is full. Cook extra chicken.

Life is Full. Cook Extra Chicken.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 You Cook Some. You Cook Some More.

You Cook Some. You Cook Some More.

Ain’t that the truth?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And my personal favorite:

Why dirty up more dishes tomorrow
when tomorrow will have enough
dirty dishes of its own?

Dirty Dishes Proverb. So profound, yes

This is so beautiful. We all want this in our homes. 

None of what I am about to tell you or show you is all that impressive. (I’m pretty sure my stitched proverbs have the impressive part of this post covered.) The following tips are simply how I survive in the kitchen. It is what makes sense to me.

When preparing any food, I always think to myself, “Self? If I cooked at least twice as much of this particular food, how might that make my work load lighter?”

It was in asking myself this question that I came up with several ways I find myself working half as hard for twice the outcome. (Perhaps we should stitch that one also.)

seriously

Cooking Once, Eating Twice (or More) Ideas

Cooking once and eating twice or more is my most productive way to multitask. Here are a few tricks that worked in my kitchen last week when cooking for my family:

1. On Saturday, I cooked three pounds of hamburger meat with two pounds of chopped bacon and a bunch of onion. I put 1/3 of this cooked mixture away to make Calico Beans another day. I stirred the remaining mixture into two huge Bacon Cheeseburger Casseroles (from {Healthy} Make-Ahead Meals & Snacks eBook) to serve to guests on Sunday.

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2. A few days later, I soaked enough beans for two big meals (plus a few leftovers). I cooked all the beans the next morning. That night we had Calico Beans. While that dish was cooking, I put the remaining beans in a large pot and made a huge batch of Chili.

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3. For lunch that day, I cooked several plain, boring chicken breasts. I chopped a couple of them up for a chef salad bar to eat immediately. Then I chopped up the rest and made a big bowl of Chicken Salad for the following day’s lunch. 

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Boring.

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But perfect for a chef salad.

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And Chicken Salad.

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4. I made a batch of Whole Wheat Stir-and-Pour Bread on the night I served Calico Beans. While we could have eaten both loaves in that one meal, I intentionally set one aside to use for the following day’s Chicken Salad lunch.

The thing about bread is that if I let us go crazy with it, we will go crazy with it (I feel a cross-stitch coming on). I want us eating more fruits and veggies than bread, so I’ve found that putting out a limited amount is best for us.

5. Friday morning we scrubbed and baked about 15 pounds of potatoes. We ate some for lunch that day (see #6 below), then put the rest in the fridge to eat in a variety of ways during the next week. This will save so much time and offer so many meal options!

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6. On Friday, I also I made a triple batch of Real Food “Velveeta” and Rotel Dip. We ate one round of it on our baked potatoes for lunch that day (see #5 above). I set aside the second round for an easy nacho meal. Then I’ll use the third round for Spicy Mac and Cheese. I love how versatile this dip is…and how delicious.

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7. Last but not least, I made three rounds of Gatorade. We had quite a few weekend soccer games and plenty of bottles to fill. I’ve started making at least two if not three or four batches of Gatorade at once just to get on top of our needs. Plus, just like everything else, if I’m already getting out the ingredients and I’m already dirtying a few dishes, I might as well save myself time and energy later by tripling up now!

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If you have any athletes in your house, I very much recommend you make this Gatorade. We have gone through many gallons already and have saved sooo much money since I learned to make it. This recipe incredible. (We also learned that it’s very nice to have this on hand if you have a stomach bug going around your house. It’s so much better to replenish electrolytes with than the sugary variety!)

Are you a “Cook Once, Eat Twice” kind of cook? What are your favorite ways to get ahead in the kitchen? Which of the above proverbs is your fav?

How to Store Leftovers in Jars

This post was originally published in June, 2011. I still love jars.

It is no secret that I love jars.

Big jars, little jars, tall jars, short jars…they’re all useful. One of my favorite ways to use jars is to store leftovers.

Many have asked how in the world it works to store leftovers in jars – isn’t it hard to get the food in and out of the jar?? I have two words for you:  Wide Mouth. (No-no, I’m not calling you a Wide Mouth. Oh dear. I’m just saying that wide mouth jars are my favorite and the most wonderful for storing leftovers.)

The regular jars are fine and I like to use them for canning produce and such, but give me a wide mouth jar and I can do all kinds of things with it. You can fit your whole hand into a wide mouth jar, making it easy to wash or to put food in and take food out.

The best thing about having leftovers (and other food) in jars is that you can clearly see what is in the jar, unless of course the jar somehow got shoved to the back of the fridge and forgotten, causing it’s contents to change somewhat in appearance.  Not that any of us would ever let that happen.  But really, I can open my fridge and easily see if I need to make more Ranch Dressing, if we have any homemade sour cream, if we have enough cooked chicken to make dinner and what kinds of leftovers are available for lunch.  As you saw in this post, my fridge is full of jars of all shapes and sizes. Let’s talk just a little bit about those jars, because many of you have asked what kind I have and where I get them.

Pint and Half Pint wide mouth jars are wonderful for storing leftover vegetables, small bits of casserole, little portions of leftover meat, etc. I have a nice variety of wide mouth pint and half pint jars that I can grab depending on what I need to store. These wide mouth pint jars are great for my homemade dressings and homemade peanut butter.

Someone gave me this set of Ball Wide Mouth 1/2 Pint Elite Jars for Christmas last year and I LOVE them. They are short and perfect for small amounts of leftovers. They’re also quite cute, not that it matters, but shucks cute jars are fun.

My favorite, favorite, absolute all time favorite kinds of jars for leftovers are the Elite Pint Sized jars When we were going through my mom’s canning supplies after she died, I found loads of them and brought them home. I love canning with them and using them for leftovers. They are the perfect size for me to use at least 80 different ways in my kitchen. And they are from my mama.  Of course I love them best.

I also use Quart Sized Wide Mouth Jars constantly, both for canning and for storing leftovers. I find the quart sized wide mouth jars work great for storing leftover soup, sloppy joe meat, cooked chicken, creamy mac and cheese, etc.

In addition, I have several sets of Wide Mouth 1/2 Gallon Sized Jars, which I use mostly for our milk, but also for chicken broth and large amounts of soup. I buy these Wide Mouth 1/2 Gallon Sized Jars from Azure Standard, but you can also get them from Amazon or sometimes at hardware stores.

Which leads me to:  Where is the best place to buy jars? That’s hard to say. You can get several different kinds from Azure Standard if this is accessible to you. The best place to find jars for very little money is yard sales or auctions.  I’ve also acquired many jars from people who are simply not canning anymore. It pays to ask around to see who might have jars they’re not using anymore – they are usually happy to get rid of them!

If you’re going to purchase jars, like some of the specialty sizes I mentioned such as the Elite which are harder to find, I’d say you are making a pretty good investment. They’re less expensive than tupperware, and because they are glass, they are safe and will not leach plasticy chemicals into your food. Being able to see your food in the fridge is an invaluable time saver.

By the way, I love having a drawer full of Wide Mouth Plastic Lids, which makes it super simple to fill the jar and throw leftovers in the fridge. I have Regular Mouth Plastic Lids as well, I love having both. They’re so clean and nice!

One last thing:  for storing leftovers like lasagna or hamburger patties – foods that would be hard to put into a wide mouth jar, I love having these Pyrex dishes with lids. They are fantastic for storing leftovers and warming them up in the oven or toaster oven right in the dish.

Phew. Well, you just found out way more about my leftovers than you ever wanted to know. Again, let’s just be clear that I was not calling you a Wide Mouth. Although, after reading my post, you would realize that even if I was calling you a Wide Mouth (which I wasn’t), it would have been a compliment.

How do you store your leftovers?

Be Efficient in the Kitchen – {Eat Healthy ~ Save Time}

I am often asked, “How do you do it all?” 

Oh my. Without a doubt, my answer to that question is always, “Mercy, have you seen my closets?”  (or cabinets, or laundry pile, or toilets, or pick your messes depending on the day…)

I don’t do it all. I don’t even do half of it all. In fact, it’s almost 6 pm as I’m trying to write this. I still haven’t done my breakfast dishes and I haven’t started to make dinner.  For the first time today, I finally got a chance to sit down and work on my website at 5:35 – and I’ve had three interruptions since I started. I think I forgot to have the boys put the laundry into the dryer, which means that the clothes might start to smell sour soon. I didn’t make my bed this morning. I didn’t hang my dress up after wearing it on Sunday. My hair looks kinda funny. And it seems that I have misplaced all of the pens that are supposed to be in my cute pen basket in the kitchen. (FYI:  It does not work to write a check with a fat sharpie or an unsharpened pencil.)

But for all of my unmade bed and missing pen issues, one thing I feel that I am getting figured out is efficiency in the kitchen. I believe that one of the reasons I am able to feed my family a (mostly) healthy diet while keeping up with a very busy schedule is because I try to make very good use of my time in the kitchen. I’m not sure I could make it work otherwise. (Although some days, no matter what I do, nothing works, of course.  Those are my pancakes and creamy mac and cheese fall back days.)

Here’s what works for me:  Hardly ever do I just stand and do one thing at a time. I grind flour while I’m washing dishes; prepare a casserole for dinner while I’m making lunch; bake breakfast muffins while I’m finishing dinner; chop veggies while I’m waiting for butter to melt; shout out spelling words while I’m stirring noodles; get out ingredients while going back and forth to the stove to brown meat…

(And if my boys are capable of doing any kitchen or cleaning chores that need to be done – and at their ages, they definitely are capable of much! – I pull them in with me to help cook or cleanout the dishwasher, or send them upstairs to do some cleaning. It’s multi-tasking at it’s finest! Those of you with little bitty ones, hang in there.  It does get easier as your children get older!)

Want to know one of my favorite ways to save time in the kitchen? Make one big mess. (This sounds sooo efficient doesn’t it?)  What I mean is – there are some kitchen tasks that are pretty messy or take a while to clean up after.  Take homemade peanut butter for example. Making peanut butter isn’t difficult at all, but I have found that washing my food processor afterward takes quite a bit of time. Therefore, I have begun to make two or three or even four batches of peanut butter while I’ve got the food processor already peanut buttery. It keeps just fine in the fridge, so if I’m going to make a mess, why not make plenty of peanut butter so that I don’t have to wash the food processor as often? Makes sense to me. (Kinda sounds like my lasagna making process, huh?)

Oh, and since we are on the topics of peanut butter and kitchen efficiency, you will be glad to know that while my peanuts are whirling about in the food processor becoming peanut butter, I am busy stirring up a batch of muffins, slicing fruit for a salad, or standing on my head trying to get a pyrex dish out while it sits at the bottom of a heavy (and slightly unorganized) stack of dishes in the cabinet. Why not? The peanuts don’t need help turning themselves into peanut butter. A watched food processor never boils you know. Or at least I believe that is how the saying goes. 

What tasks have you found that you can do in the kitchen to keep you efficient with your time?

Funky Fresh Kitchen – The “Do You Really Need It?” Challenge

What is all that stuffed crammed in the back of your utensil drawer? When’s the last time you used that fancy Blitzamachoppit that promised to make your life easier? And how many used twist-ties and drinking straws does it take to change a light bulb?

Oh wait. I think I just mixed two unrelated questions.

But still – I do believe it is time for some of us to take control of what is lurking in our kitchen drawers and cabinets. If you took advantage of the Do the Funky Kitchen ebook sale, you may have already started plucking unused items out of your kitchen and worked at finding them a better home (like in someone else’s kitchen – mwoohaha!!). If not, let me suggest to you that your kitchen will be a lot more fun and a lot more functional (funky!) if you get rid of items you are not using.

Here is a check-list of questions to ask yourself as you clean out cabinets and drawers in your kitchen (taken from the Do the Funky Kitchen ebook):

  1. Do I use it often?
  2. How many do I have?
  3. How many do I need?
  4. Did someone special give it to me?
  5. Does it work?

If you don’t use it, get rid of it. If you have too many, the extras need to go. If it doesn’t work, what is it still doing there anyway? And if you don’t even know what it is, you won’t miss it after you say goodbye. Keep only items that you use or items that are special to you.

If you are having a hard time deciding if you should get rid of something, do this:  Put the item in a potential “Garage Sale” box for a few weeks, but don’t get rid of it yet.  Next Tuesday, if you’re preparing some food and suddenly remember the reason you had the Ultimate Onion Slicer (with built in tissues for inevitable tears, batteries not included) then by all means, go get it out of your box and put it back into your kitchen for future onion slicing and tear wiping needs. But if in fact you see that gadget in your “Garage Sale” box three months later and have to stand on your head while holding a flashlight so that you can try and figure out what in the world it is, I’m pretty sure you never needed it anyway and you can feel free to give it away or try to sell it.

Your Funky Fresh Kitchen Challenge today is to clean out at least ONE cabinet or drawer. Get rid of all items that are not useful to you. You’ll feel so much better, I promise!!

Leave a comment on this post letting us know one thing you can throw out or give away that will lessen any kitchen clutter you may have. Your comment will serve as your entry in the giveaway for one of five $10 gift certificates to our Heavenly Homemakers Shop.

 

Funky Fresh Kitchen – Join the Fun!!

 

I haven’t attempted to turn a cartwheel since I was in my early twenties. I actually almost pulled a muscle just picturing myself turning a cartwheel today. BUT, I am so excited about the next two weeks I really am tempted to do some flips. After a lot of emailing, planning, organizing and brainstorming, I have a lot to tell you about. Where should I start?

First maybe I should explain what Funky Fresh Kitchen is all about.

Fall is almost here. I don’t know if you are like me, but this time of year I’m always looking for a fresh start. I want to get into a nice, organized routine. I want to set new goals for my family and for my kitchen. I want to enjoy all the wonderful, fresh food of harvest time. I want to start baking again as the weather turns cooler. I want to try new recipes. And I want my kitchen to be funky.

Funky? Yes, funky. Functional, if you really want to be technical, but I like calling it a Funky Kitchen, mostly because it makes me giggle. (Obviously, I’m easily amused.)

Make plans to join us here for the next two weeks of Funky Fresh Kitchen fun! I have new recipes to share, I’ll be offering up some challenges (are you ready to get your game on?), I’ve got some incredible giveaways and there will be some majorly discounted items in our shop.

I’ve got so many posts and so much excitement, I’m going to suggest that you may want to subscribe to Heavenly Homemakers and/or join my Facebook page so that you don’t miss anything. Trust me, you don’t want to miss anything.

The giveaways I have lined up? Well, you may just want to join me in the cartwheel attempts after you hear about these. Are you ready?

Cultures for Health has agreed to give away an Excalibur Food Dehydrator!! It’s true. AND (yes, I am screaming here) Paula’s Bread has offered to give away my most favorite Funky Fresh Kitchen item ever:  a Nutrimill!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Let us all pause now for a moment of synchronized cartwheel turning and screaming.)

And don’t forget the new recipes I’ll be sharing. Some are chocolate and some include broccoli and all of them are easy and will inspire you to make fresh, healthy changes in your kitchen. Goodness, I’m so excited while I’m typing, I’m realizing that I have forgotten to breathe. You are all still breathing aren’t you? Okay good. We can’t all pass out before we even begin all the fun.

Share this post with all your friends on Facebook and in your neighborhood and tell your sisters and cousins and friends at church and college roommates and your bff and your bff’s sisters and cousins and everyone you can think of who could and should join us as we pursue our Funky Fresh Kitchens.

funkykitchencoversmTo get us started, we are offering our Do the Funky Kitchen eBook (which is regularly $4.95) for only $1.00. Yes, a buck. Read my favorite tips and suggestions for achieving a funky (functional) and organized kitchen, fresh and clean for fall.  But hurry – our discounted price of $1.00 will only be available for the first 100 purchasers. As of now, you can purchase Do the Funky Kitchen eBook for just $1.50 – available for the next 150 purchasers!! After that, the price will creep up little by little throughout the week. Take advantage of this deal while you can!

Watch for specials and discounts like this for the next two weeks during this Funky Fresh Kitchen feature.

Also:  By leaving a comment on ANY post with the above Funky Fresh Kitchen button featured, you will be entered to win one of five $10 gift certificates good for anything downloadable in our Heavenly Homemakers Shop. Because the button is featured on this post, comments right here and now will be added to the drawing for our gift certificates! Let the commenting, the Funky Kitchen eBook purchasing, the facebooking and sharing begin!

Watch for frequent updates, new ideas and recipes, discounts and giveaways – you don’t want to miss a thing. Thanks for joining me! It’s gonna be a great two weeks!

Healthy Foods for the Freezer

One of my big Two Week Tackle projects was to pre-make some healthy convenience items for our freezer. This way, on busy days all I have to do is grab burritos or pizza pockets out of the freezer and warm them up quickly for us to eat.

I didn’t do all of this cooking at once.  This is the result of 14 days of off and on work in which I simply made one extra batch of food to put into the freezer, whenever I could find a spare moment. Sometimes, I just doubled what we were making for dinner and froze half. This is the best way (in my opinion) to do freezer cooking without stress!

I feel like it’s possible that I’ve broken some sort of tortilla making record during the last few weeks. I lost track of how many tortillas I rolled out and cooked. I think I made at least five double batches, in which we ate or made into burritos. We now have loads of frozen burritoes and around 18 plain whole wheat tortillas in our fridge for easy quesadillas next week! (Just doing some quick math, I think this means I may have made 120 tortillas between last week and this week. Not that you cared. I just felt like multiplying it out. Why do I do these things?)

I was excited to try making Chicken Burritos and will be sharing the recipe soon.

And, not that you can tell them apart, but because I somehow feel the need to prove my tortilla making madness, here is a big batch of meat and cheese burritos. (Are you bored with my tortilla picture parade yet?)

I hate to disappoint you, but the rest of the pictures have nothing to do with tortillas. Instead, we have a pan full of lovely pizza pockets that are now frozen and ready to bake for a quick lunch.

I made a batch of homemade hamburger buns and didn’t let us eat any of them. Buns in the freezer means easy burgers, sloppy joes or even turkey/cheese melts.

I made a quadrupal batch of Whole Wheat Waffles – these are the BEST for toasting in the morning when we need a fast breakfast.

One of my favorite main dishes:  BBQ Meatballs. I intentionally made way more than we needed for one meal so that I could freeze the leftovers. Meatball subs anyone?

I needed a batch of homemade rolls for something last week. Therefore, I made bunches. I have no idea what happened to the rolls in the upper right-hand corner. Mysteries like this happen in my kitchen regularly. We may never get to the bottom of it.

I surprised the boys one morning with homemade donuts, then because we had quite a few leftover, I froze them for another breakfast soon.

Last but not least, I shook up a jar each of Taco Seasoning, Ranch Dressing Mix and Italian Dressing Mix. I LOVE having these in my pantry to grab and use in a moment’s notice.

And that, my friends, is the result of the intentional extra cooking I have been doing in an attempt to get ahead before August begins.

What are your favorite ways to get ahead in the kitchen? (Yeah, yeah…I know. Getting ahead in the kitchen is almost like getting ahead on laundry – next to impossible. But still.)

In case you’re curious, here are a few posts that might help answer some of your questions about how I freeze foods and try to get ahead in the kitchen: