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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Honey Pork and Peppers


1 pound boneless pork, cut into cubes(I cut my cubes from a boneless pork loin)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 envelope(.87ounce) pork gravy mix(may use beef)
1 cup water
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 medium onion chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 medium sweet red pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium green pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
Hot cooked rice


In a large skillet over medium heat, cook pork in oil until browned, about 15 minutes.

 In a small bowl, combine gravy mix, water, honey, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic powder.

Once mixed, add to pork.

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

Cut the onions and peppers into roughly the same size or a little smaller than the pork pieces.  

 Add onions and peppers; cook another 5 or 10 minutes longer.  
Serve over rice.  Makes 4-6 servings.        

Friday, March 29, 2013

18 lbs of ground beef purchased for .99cent a lb

This week I lucked out at Kroger and purchased 6 3lbs rolls of ground beef on clearance for $2.99 each.  The cheapest I have been paying lately has been around $2.50lb.  I purchased all 6 rolls they had, as I could not pass up paying $17.94 for 18lbs of ground beef.  I placed them in the fridge and they next day, pulled them out to break them down into meal size portions:
I used one roll and made Salisbury steaks.  3 lbs made a total of 12 patties, which for my family is 3 meals.  I actually made Salisbury steak with 4 of them that night.  The picture is not great because I put all 4 patties on one plate and poured all of the gravy over them, so it is hard to see what they truly look like; however, they are delicious and I have been making this recipe for years.  Here is the recipe I use:

I then used one roll and made 14 hamburgers.  We add onions, green peppers, 1 pack of onion soup mix, and Worcestershire sauce to our burgers.  We do not measure ingredients as we add, so I have not added this recipe to my blog, it is up to everyone's family taste as to what and how much they add to hamburgers.  We divided up the burgers into 3 packs of 4 burgers and 1 pack of 2 burgers:
For the Salisbury steaks and burgers above, I put them in the freezer on a baking sheet to freeze until firm before I put in freezer bags, so they hold their shape.

I weighed out 5 bags of raw ground beef into 1 1/2lb meal portions.  I also cooked up 4 lbs of ground beef with onions and peppers, so I would have quick starters for dinners.  I portioned up this into 2 packs.

I broke up 18lbs of meat into 12 Salisbury Steaks, 14 hamburger patties, 5 1 1/2lb packs of raw meat, 2 2lbs packs of cooked ground beef.  This will be 14 meals, with leftovers for my family, not bad for under $18!  This took me about 1 1/2 hours to repackage, but this will last us several months.

Salisbury Steak with Mushrooms

First, I want to apologize because the pictures did not come out great, because I put all 4 Salisbury Steaks on 1 plate, dumped all of the gravy over them and then took a picture. I thought I had taken another picture on the plate with just one steak, but when I sat down to post, realized I did not have the picture.  I will update the picture the next time I make these for dinner.

2 onions, divided
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs*
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoons cornstarch, blended with 1/2 cup water
1 beef bouillon cube or 1 teaspoon beef base
1/8 teaspoon pepper 

Servings: 4 Salisbury Steaks.  These salisbury steak patties are pretty big, so you could make smaller ones by making 5 or 6 patties per pound, if you prefer. 

*I make my own breadcrumbs and this time put some potato hamburger rolls in the food processor, which added a nice taste. I also, make bread crumbs with any other leftover bread and store any leftovers in the freezer.  I mix all leftover breadcrumbs into one bag for a nice mix of flavor.   
Mince 1/2 an onion(or chop fine), mix with ground beef, bread crumbs, salt, and nutmeg.  Shape into 4 patties, and saute in a skillet until cooked.  Once cooked, remove patties from skillet and keep warm. Drain fat from pan.

Slice remaining onions.  Saute onions and mushrooms in butter until tender.  

Add cornstarch mixture and bouillon to onion mixture.  Cook and thicken on low. I was running low on time and energy the day I made these and used a jar of mushroom gravy in place of the cornstarch, water, and bouillon.  Both work fine, in fact you can also make powdered gravy for this step as well. 

Add pepper and spoon onto steaks.

This is a great recipe to make ahead of time and freeze for a quick dinner.  I tripled the recipe and made 12 salisbury steaks out of 3 pounds of ground beef:
  I made up the patties and then put them on a baking sheet to freeze until firm.  Once frozen, I packaged 4 patties per pack and labeled for future dinners.  To make from frozen, start with above directions to saute the patties in the skillet and continue with recipe.  


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lower back pain from Lymphedema

I have had lower back pain from all over lymphedema for years now.  Most likely the cause is that as I have my limbs compressed during the day, have my limbs drained daily with my flexitouch machine; but do not have anything that compresses or drains my lower back.  I am currently at the lowest weight I have been at, since being diagnosed with lymphedema 8 years ago; however, my lower back pain is the worse it has ever been.  It feels that now that I do not have so much weight and fluid sitting on my lower back, the fluid that I now have pushes directly on the nerves in my lower back.  This pain interferes with my everyday activities and my ability to sleep through the night.  I currently have been on 40mg ER Oxycontin twice a day for about 6 or 7 years and take 50mg Nucynta for break thru pain.  Even with these doses of medicine, my back pain is debilitating.  I have also added ibuprofen, instead of the Nucynta, which helps but does not take the pain away enough so that I can keep up with my daily activities the way I would like.  I have several options at this point, increase the dose of my medicine, which is my least favorite option; get new pieces for my flexitouch machine if I can afford it, gain some weight back, or continue to deal with the pain.  I have an appointment tomorrow with my lymphedema therapist and a flexitouch representative to look at my current flexitouch setup and take measurements.  We think due to the change in my measurements, since I purchased the machine 5 years ago and the fact that the new pieces cover my lower back area, that my insurance should cover a replacement.  I hoping with that option, if approved, that my 20% copayment will be affordable.  I am trying not to put all my hopes on this option, but in truth, I am and hope that it works out so I can purchase it and that it takes care of my pain.  I do not want to gain any weight back, that has been so hard to come off and like that I am in a size 12 now and feel so much better.  I can also not continue to deal with the pain, as I have only slept thru the night twice in 3 months and there is so much that I am not able to do now, that I want to do.  Dealing with a chronic illness, means many different challenges come up and must be worked around, dealt with, or knocked down and I am determined to knock this one down.  Stay tuned as I update after I go see my therapist and flexitouch rep and go thru the insurance maze.  Wish me luck!
Update after LE therapist appointment and meeting with Flexitouch rep:   I had a very productive appointment yesterday at Retreat with my LE Therapist and our Flexitouch rep and wanted to share a couple of things we discussed.  Our main focus was on my increased trunk swelling and severe back pain that has impacted my daily mobility and pain levels.  I brought in existing pieces that I currently use with the Flexitouch machine I have had from 5 years.  I was hoping that I could keep the machine and just replace the pieces; however, with the changes they have made to the machine and pieces I will have to purchase a new machine.  The rep and therapist seem to think I have a strong case to submit to the Anthem fep insurance for approval, since I have had the machine for 5 years, the new pieces will address my trunk swelling, specifically under arm(my measurement has increased 5cm since last July, which is significant), lower back swelling, and genital swelling; the increased swelling is affecting my sleep(I have only slept thru the night twice since the beginning of the year).  The only concern we have is that the new pieces will not meet enough to address the lower back swelling and we plan to meet again to trouble shoot once the pieces come in.  In the meantime we rigged my existing pieces o that they will fit snugger on my lower back and decided I would drop back my machine time to 2 cycles per day, instead of the 3-4 cyles(hours) I have been doing.  They now have studies, that show it is not necessary to do all cycles per day, when you have all over LE.  The studies were not available when I first received the machine, so I am happy to gain back 1-2 hours of my day, not being attached to Flexitouch.  It will take 2-3 weeks before I hear if the insurance approves the new purchase, in the meantime they will work up a price and I need to find a way to afford this, because right now with my daily life impacted I don't feel I have another valid option.  I will update again when I hear something and praying it will be good news that the insurance has approved the purchase.

Time saving Kitchen tips-meat

I started looking for kitchen time savers, once I became disabled and had good and bad days.  The time savers help me get food on the table when I have my bad days, or just busy days.  On my good days, I will try and do some time savers, which allow me to get thru my bad days or enjoy my good days longer, because I am able to get in and out of the kitchen faster.  I try to make as many of our meals from scratch, so that I know what is in our foods, but also because I have the time.  Nothing is wrong with convenience items, when you are under a time crunch, and they normally beat fast food any day. 

Ground Beef-
1.  I buy ground beef in family packs, cook, and divide up into meal size portions. I will divide up the meat into 1 lb. 1 1/2lb, and 2 lb packages and either put in foodsaver(generic from walmart) or ziplock bags.   These can be frozen for months.  I season the ground beef, by adding onion, green pepper, and some times garlic:
Cook these in a skillet until softened and then add package of ground beef.  I added one large onion, green pepper, and 1 clove of garlic to almost 5 lbs of ground beef.  After I cooked this up, I drained and ran hot water over and put on a cookie sheet to cool:
You can either put the cookie sheet in the freezer for 15-20 minutes or leave it on the counter to cool.  After it is cool, I will divide up the meat into 1 lb. 1 1/2lb, and 2 lb packages and either put in foodsaver bags(generic from walmart) or ziplock bags.   These can be frozen for months.  By having this on hand, I can always whip up spaghetti or tacos in less than 15 minutes.  Also, how many recipes do you make, start with ...cook ground beef.... Saves that step.  

I also buy family packs of ground beef and go ahead and make up our hamburgers with seasonings and freeze them in serving size packages.  It is so much cheaper buying family packs, that 95% of the time that is what I buy and then split out what I need.

Beef Roast:
I buy multiple roasts when they are on sale for $2.99 or less.  I normally find roast for this price at Kroger, Martins, or Food Lion, at least once a month.  I will take some time before freezing to process these roasts.  We do stirfrys, so I will cut one or two roasts into thin strips and repackage into meal size packs.  I also will take 1 or two roasts and cut them into chunks, for soups, stroganoff, or other beef dishes requiring beef cubes.   If you do not have room for this much meat, then cut 1/2 a roast into strips and the other 1/2 into cubes.  Since I have room in my freezer, I would rather process several roasts and only have to do this every couple of months.  I do leave several roasts whole to make roast beef(check out the roast beef recipe on The Hungry Mouse site and you will never buy deli roast beef again) or pot roast.  I tend to cut up the majority of our meat, so that we use less beef and more veggies in recipes.

Rib eye Steaks:
We love rib eye steaks on the grill, so when we catch them on sale for $5.99lb for whole or half boneless rib eye and are running low, we head to the store.  I normally find them at this price at Kroger.  The last one we bought, was about $52.00 and we asked Kroger's butcher to cut them for us into 3/4 inch thickness , giving us 16 large steaks.  Even with that thickness the steaks are pretty big and 2 steaks can feed 3-4 people, so after we cook them, we normally cut them in half so you won't feel like you need to groan and finish it all in one sitting.  Where can you go and get 16 large boneless good quality steaks for $52?  What a deal if you have room in your freezer!

Split Chicken Breast:
 I buy split chicken for .99 cent and again buy a large quantity at a time.  These I always repackage these either by putting 1 or 2 per package, depending on their size.  I like to cook with chicken broth for flavor, so I make chicken broth every 1 to 1 1/2 weeks and throw 1 or 2 split breast in for flavor and also so I keep shredded cooked chicken on hand.   Here is the recipe I use to make chicken broth with split chicken breasts:

Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts: 
I buy these when they are on sale for $1.99 lb.  The breast that come in the packs are so big, that i use a kitchen scale and cut and repackage them into individual 4oz size pieces. I have been doing this awhile, so I am pretty good at judging the size as I cut, but if I cut too big or too small, not a problem as I also cut chicken chunks and chicken tenders and package into meal size portions.  I either buy two big family size packs or several regular size packs.  I try to buy and cut enough, so that I only have to do it every other month or so.  I wrap the individual pieces in plastic wrap and lay on a cookie sheet and put in freezer until freezer.  Once frozen, I put all the individual pieces in a big gallon size bag, so I can keep them together.

Boneless Pork Loin: 

I buy these when they are on sale for $1.99lb.  I do not cook these as is, because it is just too much pork at one time for us.  I cut thin slices, to cook up as pork cutlets, cut small cubes or strips for stirfrys.  I repackage these into meal size servings. I normally only buy 1 at a time, because my family does not eat very much pork; however, if you family eats more, this is a good price to stock up when you can.  I bought one the other day to repackage up:

 I have a meat slicer that I purchased 7-8 years ago at Bass Pro Shop for about $35.  My husband hunts, so the purchase makes sense to us for processing deer meat, but we also use it to slice up this pork.  If you do not have a meat slicer you can ask the store butcher to slice this up for you in any thickness you want or use a sharp meat knife.  With the 3.68lb pork loin, I sliced some up for boneless thin pork cutlets, cut 1lb into thin strips for stir frys, and cut 1.25 lbs up into chunks for a recipe I am using this weekend for honey pork and peppers.  Here is the recipe for Honey Pork and Peppers:;postID=6307662502041697474

Monday, March 25, 2013

Chicken Nuggets-Baked not Fried

This recipe for low fat baked chicken nuggets appeared in The Parade several weeks ago.  I ripped it out and have been waiting for the perfect day to make these.  Today was the day and I am so glad I did.  This recipe was a winner with my family and next time, I plan on making more to freeze.  

1/4 cup of flour
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into chunks
1/4 cup fat free milk
1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs(preferably wheat bread)
Olive oil cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, onion and garlic powders, salt and pepper.  Toss chicken with flour mixture.
Pour milk into a shallow bowl.  Dip chicken pieces in milk.
Pour bread crumbs onto a large plate.  Roll chicken in bread crumbs.

Arrange chicken on baking sheet, spritz with cooking spray.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Turn nuggets and spritz with baking spray, before cooking another 10 minutes, or until thoroughly cooked.  Serve with ketchup or honey. 

Nutrition:  220 calories 17g carbs, 26g protein, 4g fat, 65mg chol, 220mg sodium, 2g fiber

Monday, March 18, 2013

Nana's Banana Bread

What do I do when I have some bananas that have gotten overripe, or if my family allows them to go overripe in hopes that I will make their favorite banana bread, go to the store and see if I can find more overripe bananas.  Love this recipe, that my mother-in-law gave me several years ago.  The ingredients below will make 1 loaf, but I normally make multiple loaves, since I have the ingredients out and the loaves freeze really well.  I have frozen these for as much as 6 months and they taste like the day I made them, once thawed.

4 mashed bananas
1/3 cup melted butter
1 Egg
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Add Ingredients in order in a mixing bowl , mixing after each ingredient.  After mixing, put in a greased loaf pan and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Chicken a la King

My family loves this recipe and I had lost it for several months, so was happy to find it before my son went back to his Navy Base.  We had this as our last family meal together, and his last home cooked meal until he comes home again.  I love cooking for my family and love the fact that recipes can be like songs.  When you make them again, it sometimes makes you recall memorable times together with loved ones.  One of the reasons I decided to include recipes on this blog is so I will have them all in one place. I have recipe boxes, file folders, book case full of cookbooks, recipes on 4 or 5 computers; thus favorite recipes would be lost in the past, but now they will be together in one place, easy to pull out when needed.  On to this great tasting recipe:

6 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup diced green pepper
1/4 cup diced red pepper
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups half and half*
1 1/2 cups milk(we use skim in our house)*
4 cups cubed or shredded chicken
1 4 ounce jar diced pimentos, drained
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon sherry
1 teaspoon salt
cooked egg noodles or rice

* you can use 3 cups half-and-half or all milk; I choose to use 1 1/2 cups of each, to cut the calories some but also keep the creaminess of the dish


In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter.  Once melted, cook mushrooms and peppers for 5 minutes or until tender.

Stir flour until blended.  Gradually stir in half-and-half and milk.  Stir constantly, until thickened.

Add chicken and pimentos.  Heat to boiling, stirring often.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
In cup, stir yolks until mixed.  Stir in a little of the hot sauce from pan, then slowly stir mixture back into sauce, stirring rapidly to prevent lumping.  Cook, stirring, until thickened.
Stir in sherry and salt and spoon mixture over cooked egg noodles or rice.   

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Importance of putting my LE self-management first

I had a busy and stressful weekend and was not able to do my Flexitouch.   Let we reword that more realistically, I did not make time for my Flexitouch.  I had a busy weekend, but I was home for each day for a least 3 hours a day and chose to not do my Flexitouch when I was home.  I could have done it while I was sleeping, when I had an hour here or there; or when I was totally exhausted physically and emotionally at the end of day.  I ended up going about 2 1/2 days without my daily machine and it is times like this that I realize how much my Flexitouch helps me keep mobility and by reducing my lymph fluid, it lessens my pain as well.  Before I stopped and decided to sit down and do my machine, I was barely able to walk and that was already after taking 2 as needed pain pills.  Because I had not done the machine daily, it took a good half a cycle before the pain lessened.  I felt so much relief when I had finished my 4 hours and completed all 4 cycles.  You would think I would have learned by now that no matter how stressful or busy my day is for my overall well being and health....I have to make time to do my machine--PERIOD!!!  Maybe next time I want to forgo my time on the Flexitouch I will take a look here and see why I have to make the time everyday.  Hopefully, lesson learned!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Beef Hand PIes

This is very easy and hardy meal.  If you have leftovers, these freeze well and also reheat in the microwave or oven.  However, my kids have also eaten them straight out of the fridge.  The above picture shows pretty big ones, from the first batch I made; however, I made them about half this size in the next batch, and prefer the smaller size.  I normally make my own pizza dough, but had coupons for free pillsbury Artisian pizza dough, so used that for this batch.

1 finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped carrots
2 finely chopped potatoes
1 pound chopped beef chuck roast
1 cup finely chopped mushrooms
1 jar beef gravy
1/2 to 1 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 PIllsbury pizza dough

  Add carrots, onions, beef, and potatoes to saute pan and add 1/2 cup beef broth.  Cook on medium high until soften and cooked through. Add additional broth as needed.

Add mushrooms and cook until soften.  Allow to simmer for additional 10 minutes.

Add gravy and parsley and cook an additional minute.

Preheat oven to 400. Cut each pizza dough roll into 3 equal pieces for large hand pies, or 6 pieces for smaller(my family preferred the smaller size).  Divide mixture between dough and fold over and seal edges.  Cook for 12-15 minutes. I ended up with more mixture left over and since I had grands biscuits in the fridge I rolled some of those out and filled them with the beef hand pie mixture.  These were really good too and also a hit with my family. 

Home made chicken broth with shredded chicken

 I make chicken broth several times a month. I use the broth in place of water when making rice, use it for a base for soups, use broth in stir fries , and etc.  I use the shredded chicken for various recipes, such as stir fries, enchilladas, soups, and chicken salad.
 2 Split Chicken Breasts
1 cup chopped  carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons chicken base or chicken boullion
enough water to fill your pot

You not need to chop the vegetables, unless you plan on using them when using your broth.  I normally chop mine to add extra veggies to my dishes; however, you can just cut them in half if you plan on just using them or the broth and then straining them out. You can also add as many split chicken breast as you want.  I sometimes make more and shred the chicken and freeze for later use.

Dump all above ingredients in a stock pot and bring to a boil.  Once the pot reaches a boil, simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. 

Skim chicken fat off top of pot and you can add more water if some evaporates, during the first 30 minutes of simmering.

 Remove chicken breast, remove skin and bones and shred chicken.  Allow to cool and either put in fridge to use in next couple of days or freeze for later use.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

 Makes 10-12 servings
1 1/2 pounds cooked and shredded Chicken breasts
4 cups cooked wild rice
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped carrots
1 cup finely chopped onions
1/3 cup finely chopped green pepper
1/3 cup finely chopped red pepper
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
2 cups chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
16 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
12oz can evaporated milk


Heat 2 tablespoons butter in large saute pan, set over medium heat until hot.  Increase heat to medium-high and add celery, carrot, onion, green pepper, and red pepper.  Cook until onion is tender. 

Stir in corn and mushrooms.  Cook until mushrooms begin to turn golden brown and shiny wet, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat.  Bring broth to boil in large stock pot.
While broth is heating up, heat 1/2 cup butter in skillet, set over medium heat until hot; stir in flour.  Cook over low heat 2 minutes stirring constantly-do not brown.  Stir butter and flour mixture into broth.  Simmer until thickened, whisking to prevent lumps. Stir in cooked vegetables, parsley, salt, black pepper, white pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne.  Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  Add chicken, rice, and evaporated milk.  Cooked until heated through.