I also make damn fine soup…

This recipe is derived from my grandmother’s and my mother-in-law’s recipes for vegetable beef soup.

I never actually saw my grandmother’s recipe, but I know what she put in it.  My mother–in-law actually helped put together a cookbook for her Woman’s Club and included her vegetable beef soup as well as other family favorites.

My own version is a combination of the two with a little extra zing thrown in..

  • 1 package of stew beef from your supermarket meat counter (about 1-2 pounds of meat)
  • 2 large cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 large can of tomato sauce
  • 1 large bag of frozen veggies (about a pound).  Stay away from California blends with cauliflower and broccoli - they just don't hold up and get mushy
  • 2 tablespoons of garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon of oregano or Italian seasoning


  1. Cut the stew beef up a little if you like it in bite size pieces, cover with about an inch of water and boil for about 30 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, the tomato sauce, the spices and the veggies.
  3. Cook for about 2 hours or until you can't stand smelling it anymore.
  4. Serve with fresh hot cornbread.

This recipe FREEZES BEAUTIFULLY and makes a LOT of soup so it’s good to put some in your freezer!  It is so good and perfect for a cold day. 

To freeze, dish up into the container of your choice.  If you want, you can also dish into zipper top bags and lay on a cookie sheet in your freezer to freeze flat.  Then, they stack up.

To reheat, you can thaw if you like or just pull the container from the freezer, run a little hot water over to loosen the soup and dump into the pot of your choice.  Heat on low until thawed and hot.

The most delicious thing you’re going to read all day

100_0232 Seriously.

Moo would eat this recipe EVERY SINGLE DAY if I would cook this… and the thing is, this recipe is ridiculously easy AND very economical if you buy chicken when it’s on sale.

I originally got this recipe from Once a Month Mom but I’ve altered it slightly. You can try my version or go with hers… mine is UNBELIEVABLY delicious and for those of us watching our carbs, it’s pretty healthy.

Chicken Tacos in a Bag100_0223

  • 1-1/2 pounds of chicken breast – diced, sliced like fajita strips or just cut into bite size pieces.
  • Package of taco seasoning – this is on sale at my Kroger almost all the time 10 for $10… your mileage may vary
  • 3 tablespoons of Lime Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • Tortillas
  • Taco toppings of your choice like tomatoes, sauce, salsa, cheese, rice, etc.
  • Zip top bag


  1. Cut up the chicken and put into bag
  2. Pour lime juice and taco seasoning into bag and mush around to coat chicken
  3. Now you can either let this marinate for at least two hours (overnight is better) before cooking or you can freeze it. If you freeze it, thaw it out before the next step.
  4. Warm a large skillet with 100_0228the oil and sauté the chicken. Cook about 15 minutes or until cooked thoroughly. I cook it until it is almost dry and actually starts charring a little bit. Those little burnt bits add a lot of flavor!
  5. Serve hot with your taco toppings. This is also delicious in a taco salad.

Seriously. That’s it. You’ll thank me when you eat this. And we almost NEVER have leftovers of this because it is THAT good.

I buy chicken cheap and package up 4-6 of these things at a time and freeze them. Since I also freeze tortillas and cheese, I pretty much always have everything I need for a quick and easy and DELICIOUS meal.

100_0226 To maximize your freezing space, mush the chicken and marinade down into the bottom of the bag and roll the bag up. Then use tape or a label to keep the chicken rolled. It saves a ton of space in your 100_0227 freezer and you have all these delightful little rolls of chickeny goodness in your freezer.

Fill your freezer with goodies

As I discussed a few weeks ago, I intend to have a full freezer and pantry by the time Nugget makes his arrival. 

As I have the Gestational Diabetes and will also have another c-section, the date of Nugget’s arrival will be sometime around the 18th of February which is the beginning of the 38th week.

So that means that there’s only about 11 weeks to get everything ready.  The loss of my part time gig will greatly impact my plans but as I’ll tell you, not too badly.

Yesterday (Saturday), Moo and I and little girl went to the grocery store.  Not an unusual experience in and of itself, but it was the contents of the trip that may surprize you.

We had a big trip.  Not because we’re planning for guests or anything like that but because meat was on sale.  Specifically chicken breasts and stew beef were on sale at stock up prices.

I use a variety of websites for my information but the most useful site for tracking pricing is Couponmom.com.  This site lists the major grocery stores in the area and will give you the low down on their sale papers and how the prices listed compares with regular pricing.  It also gives you the date and location of any coupons that can lower pricing even more. 

Now I hear what you’re saying - “I HATE COUPONS” well so did I until I started hearing about people getting stuff for almost nothing or free. 

Food is one of the few things that we have nearly complete control over on our budget.  We can go eat prime rib every week or we can cut back and eat ground beef and chicken thighs.  We can go out 5 times a week or we can cook a few economical things and still have the cash to go out once a week.

At one point, we were spending more on restaurants than we were on groceries and it was really hurting us financially.  We couldn’t see it, but it was.  And do not get me started on the cost of diapers and the fact that as the kid gets bigger, the package sizes shrink (size 4 Pampers, you get 27 diapers, whereas with size 5, you only get 23) for the SAME PRICE!!!

So finding a way to eat healthy and cheap has become an obsession for me.  Call it my own way of nesting if you want.  But if I’m able to cut my grocery budget in half in time for a kid who’s gonna need diapers and new clothes every 6-1/2 minutes, then I will clip whatever coupons I need to.

So back to our grocery trip and the cheap chicken and stew beef.

We came home and started to work.

First, the stew beef.  I did a little prep work and then put on a double batch of vegetable beef soup.  A double batch makes about 6 meals for us.  These are generous servings so plenty for those cold winter nights coming.  I serve with hot cornbread. 

Then, I started on the chicken.  One meal, I’m planning to make cranberry chicken – I posted the recipe previously here.  We’ll have this later in the week.

The rest of the chicken got cut into bite size pieces and will be turned into chicken tacos.  That recipe is coming later this week (it’s already written and ready and will post Dec 8th).

In about 4 hours of cook time (the soup takes a while) and about 1 hour of prep, I made 14 meals all for about 3 dollars per meal.  Not too shabby.

And beyond that, this is all simple stuff that tastes good and is easy to prepare come dinner time.


Trimester that is…

I should have posted this yesterday, but I was having a meltdown.

Since August, I’ve been working a job with a contractor for a MAJOR website. 

For the most part, it has been an ok job.  I can’t share most of what I did because of a non-disclosure agreement, but I can say that I’ve looked at the internet way more than I should have.

The job is mentally very challenging.  There are complex rules and quotas for the amount of work that need to be followed.  Training is provided and is pretty good.  However, training is UNPAID.  Only time you are actively working is paid.  So if you take a break and get a glass of water and a pee break, then you don’t get paid.

It has been a blessing to have this position.  The car payment we took on in June stretched our budget to the limit and this has made up for that payment and allowed us a little leeway in our budget and has allowed us to do stuff like purchase a new chest freezer.  I had also planned to use this cash to help pay for things the baby will need as well as some child care in January and February for Phoebe.

With the gestational diabetes, I’m taking two shots a day with two different kinds of insulin.  This has also meant more doctor’s appointments which has meant more co-pays and more parking fees and more gas for the car. 

So we’ve had a lot of extra medical bills and the cash has been really helpful there too.

Starting at about 32 weeks, I’ll have to go to the perinatologist twice a week and CHILDREN ARE NOT ALLOWED!!  They banned kids last year during the H1N1 stuff and just decided to keep it to protect their patients from germy kids.

I decided the best way to deal with this was to find a mama with a kid about Phoebe’s age to play with.  I also decided I’d pay a set amount a week – basically the going rate for baby sitters around here for 6 hours of babysitting each week.

I could have worked something out with several mom’s I know and the few relatives who are fairly close geographically that I have around here.  But I was trying to make things easy on myself and just get it all set-up in advance and not have to worry about it.

So that was the plan until yesterday.  But then I, along with a goodly number of people were released.  So there goes my plans.  There goes the feeling of security I had about dealing with the upcoming wave of doctors.  There goes the extra cash I was planning to use to pay for stuff like… oh I don’t know.. like a crib for the baby boy to sleep in or bottles to feed him?

I have been putting off all kinds of prep for this kid because we just haven’t had the cash to do it.  I have a few gender neutral onesies and t-shirts that I got at a friend’s yard sale.  I also have a few things from when Phoebe was born that are still serviceable – you know, all those little things like nail clippers and first aid kits and all the other almost useless things that everyone says you’ll need.  I’m also happy that I kept the majority of Phoebe’s swaddling blankets (I’m hoping that Nugget will let us swaddle him – Phoebe loved being swaddled).

So here I am, at the beginning of the third trimester, feeling bad that I am WOEFULLY unprepared for my baby boy and now the financial rug has been pulled out from under me.  Don’t get me wrong – there are a lot of people who have things a LOT worse off than we do.

We are up to date on all our bills.  Our mortgage is paid to date and we’re in no danger of losing our home.

Moo’s job is busy and his company is actually making money right now.  Hell, they are hiring like crazy right now.

Our car is still so new that we are covered by the warranty for almost everything and we even have free maintenance.

So we are better off than just about everyone we know.

But we have a very tight budget and EVERY penny is accounted for.

I have enough faith to know that everything WILL come.  I have enough faith to know that we will have a crib in time for Nugget to make his appearance the end of February.

With the exception of the nightly leg cramps and the gestational diabetes and the occasional heartburn, I’m doing pretty well.  I went to the doctor day before yesterday and the doctor was very happy with me.

I just have to concentrate on everything good and have faith that God will bring us through this little tight patch.