Jessica's Jottings:

On faith, food, family and frugality

The Breakfast Post

Hello, Friends!

This is the post where I brainstorm breakfast ideas – you know, so that I have them all (ideas and links, if applicable) in one place while I’m doing meal planning. Which I’m a tad behind on. Again. :p

If you have other ideas/recipes/etc., *please* share!

Here goes:

That’s what I’ve got so far. Please chime in with some of your favorite breakfast recipes.

Leave a comment »

How do you feed 15 middle school boys?

This coming weekend, we are hosting 15 Middle School boys for their Walking Wisely Weekend through Browns Bridge Community Church. Wow! I am going to be in extreme food prep mode all week.

These are kids that are used to eating and drinking LOTS of processed food and drinks…which I try REALLY hard not to serve any more. I’ve already made the concession to buy soda ( 😦 ), but I want them to have lots of other options too. So I’m going to be making sweet tea concentrate and lemonade, and have lots of water bottles available. That way, they at least have healthier options around – which could make all the difference. 🙂

For the food…well, I could really, really use an infusion of ideas. We will be serving a post-session large snack on Friday night, Saturday morning breakfast, Saturday lunch, snacks all throughout, and Sunday morning breakfast. Here are the recipes I’ve compiled thus far, most of which have some component that I can get ready days in advance and throw into the freezer.

Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls

Slab Apple Pie

Homemade Sandwich Rolls (I figured I’d also buy some different kinds of deli meats and cheeses).

Freezer Biscuits

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Baked Oatmeal

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Veggie tray with Homemade Ranch Dressing (again, they need non-sweet, non-junk options, people!) 😉

BUT, I still need some lunch ideas. Here’s where you come in. If you could PLEASE share some tasty, healthy options that will appeal to 6th grade boys, I would be most grateful! Also, if you have any other easy, tasty snack ideas, please share those, too.  Comment below with your ideas, your web sites, or your Pinterest pins.




Fruit and Root Chicken Soup

As you will see (should you click through), the following creation is very roughly based off of this.  I wanted to do something a little different for dinner tonight, so, after a quick fridge perusal,  I googled “Fruit and Root Soup”. The recipe linked earlier is what came back and caught my eye. I took it and tweaked it…a lot. We didn’t have parsnips or rutabaga and I knew I wanted to add chicken and use up chicken broth, so there was no way it was going to be vegan.

While it was simmering, I whipped up a double batch of biscuits. Well…I attempted to “whip up” some biscuits. Then, I popped the lid off of the baking powder container to find that it was empty. /sigh

Thankfully, I remembered reading that you could mix up your own baking powder. To my surprise, we actually had some Cream of Tartar, so it was just a matter of measuring it and the baking soda out into the old baking powder container. The biscuits even seemed to rise a little more than usual. Works for me!

FrFruit and Root Chicken Soup

This was amazing with some quick homemade biscuits!










Fruit and Root Chicken Soup

Expeller-pressed coconut oil
1 small onion, slivered
3 carrots, cut into rounds
1 potato, roughly chopped
1 med. sweet potato, roughly chopped
3/4 – 1 c. frozen cherries
3/4 – 1 c. frozen peach slices
1 1/2 c. cooked chicken pieces
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp orange zest
1/2 – 3/4 tsp. cumin (we were almost out and I just dumped the rest of the jar into the pot)
garam masala, to taste ( I started with 1/2 tsp., but added more)
hot madras curry, to taste
ground allspice, to taste (I probably used about a tsp to 1 1/4 tsp after I added too much chicken broth and it diluted the flavor down more than I wanted.)
Redmond Salt, to taste
chicken broth


Heat some oil in your stockpot. Add all of the veggies. Cover pot and let the steam cook them, stirring occasionally until they’re soft. Add the fruit and chicken. Cover again, stirring occasionally until everything is heated through. Add the garlic and spices and stir to distribute them evenly. Add enough broth to get it to your preferred soup thickness. Cover again until thoroughly heated. Taste. Adjust spices as needed*. Insert immersion blender and puree to a mostly smooth texture. Serve and enjoy.  This is REALLY, REALLY good served over the homemade biscuit recipe I linked above. (And you can always sub expeller-pressed coconut oil for the lard, should you not have any pastured lard available.)

*Because I use homemade chicken stock, I always need to add more salt than a recipe calls for. For this, however, I was trying to use up a lot of broth and I ended up needing to add a lot more of the spices to regain the flavor I so adored. It worked out, though, and my husband said that it tasted like it would come from an Indian restaurant. Woot! 😀

Leave a comment »

Miscellaneous Goals for 2013

I know that this a little later than most of the 2013 goals posts. I’m okay with that. 🙂

I’ve been juggling sick kids and sadness, 2 Chronicles and sleepless nights. I’m okay with that, too. At least I don’t have to worry about what we’re eating at our next meal, right?

I’ve been absolutely enjoying our “Eat Down the Pantry” Challenge for multiple reasons, some of which I know I’ve mentioned before:

  • There’s soooo much less stress involved with meal times. Knowing what we’re going to eat in advance allows me to prepare necessary ingredients the day before, be it pulling meat out of the freezer or soaking oats. Less stress = happier Mama!
  • We’re spending less money at the grocery store because we have a list we can stick to. Since moving to Georgia a few months ago, I’ve consistently blown my grocery budget. I haven’t figured out the least expensive places to get the types of food we’re trying to eat, leading to paying premium at the big box grocery stores.  This is getting better as I’ve made headway in locating the local version of a Farmer’s Market, but I haven’t actually ordered anything from their website yet.
  • We’ve been having SO. MUCH. FUN trying some new foods! Well…Nathan and I have been enjoying it, anyway. 😉
  • And, last but not least, this was the kick in the pants to start meal planning again. I’ve been meaning to for quite a while. In the past, I’ve purchased printable calendars, a meal planning guide book (“Plan It, Don’t Panic”), and even pre-made meal plans, hoping against hope that by closing my eyes and opening my wallet, I would mysteriously have workable for our family meal plans magically appear. Uh…yeah…I’m not always the sharpest tool in the shed. And, let me hasten to add there’s nothing wrong with any of these solutions – I purchased the Life As Mom calendar pack again for this year – but, and it’s a BIG but, if you don’t put the time into using the solution you’ve purchased, you might as well have flushed your money downa ze toilet.

So, with regards to goals for 2013, I feel like I’m already off to a great start because I’m meal planning again and have been for the past four weeks.

That doesn’t mean I want to rest on my laurels, though. Hubby and I started the Couch to 5K program on December 31 and we’ve been faithfully following it, fully intending to run a 5K later this year. Which one remains to be seen as we’ll need to look up the annual races for our new locale.

2013 Goals

As I did with my 2013 Reading List, I’ve loosely modeled it upon what I’ve seen work for Money Saving Mom.


  • Actively take steps on a weekly basis to build community in our new community.  (Some weeks, this may look like a Birds on a Wire meeting for me. Other weeks, it will be playdates with the new homeschool group or, Lord willing, a community group.)
  • Send two cards a month to loved ones, friends or family, to keep the channels of communication open. (Relationships are like muscles – if you don’t give them attention, they will atrophy and die.)
  • Write a love note to my husband at least once a month.


  • Complete the Couch to 5K running plan with my husband, shooting for at least a 15 minute mile.
    • Run at least one 5K this year.
    • Continue to run 3-5 times a week.
  • Complete a T-Tapp boot camp.


  • Finish paying down my college loan. (Almost there!!!)
  • Pay off our mini-van.
  • Ideally, we’d also like to sell a house (or two)! However, that’s not something I have any control over, so we will continue to pray for a buyer.
  • Continue researching local food options, with two purposes in mind:
    • Cut our food budget, and
    • Send more of what we do spend to support local farmers.


  • Work through one of our “Five in a Row” books.
  • Keep going to the library every two weeks.
  • Be intentional about spending at least 10 minutes alone with each child per day.
  • Make at least one play date a month, as able, so that the kids can start making some new friends.
  • Continue to daily fill out our Family Gratitude Journal.
  • Include the children in more chore and kitchen activities.
    • I find that I’m naturally doing this as I start to get more energy back, but I would like to be more intentional about it. 🙂
  • Continue working on Scripture memory verses.
    • Finish up Psalms 1 and 23.
    • Review verses they’ve already learned.
    • Work through oh Amanda’sArmor of God” and “Truth in the Tinsel” studies.
      • I actually purchased “Truth in the Tinsel” last December, but didn’t dive into it except to print it out. The kids colored the ornament pages, but that’s about as far as we got.


  • Start and finish a web site that I committed to design and build a few years ago. (It’s a long story…/sigh)
    • Watch the Learnable classes that I purchased to assist in said design and creation before my access expires.
  • Purchase a domain name and hosting. If I’m going to be writing anyway, it would be nice to use affiliate links within my posts – something that wordpress doesn’t allow in their free hosting.
  • Re-do the “Scripture Memory” book I wrote for the LifeGroup I led last year. As we were working through the book, I felt several times that I could have done better in my Scripture selection – targeting some of the basics that were such a HUGE help to me as a new believer.
  • Memorize Romans 1, 8, and 12 with this plan.
    • I have it printed and cut out. Now I need to paste and read.
    • Ideally, I will include my children in this practice. I want them to see how much it means to Mommy to hide God’s word in her heart.
  • Learn to knit.
  • Finish up my participation in the 2013 Pay it Forward Creativity Challenge.
  • Determine a home school mission statement, a home school name, and get all of the necessary paperwork filled out before August.
  • Get a new will and power of attorney filled out for the state of Georgia.
  • Write at least one “Faith” post per month. These take so much longer and require so much more than most of my posts!
  • Finish the shirt that I started making for my sister’s 2012 Christmas present before this Christmas. 😉
  • Pull out my guitar and play at least once a week.
    • Finish two songs. Attempt to determine what chords they use. (Ahem. This will be a challenge I’ve always been able to take my songs to some highly skilled guitarist friends. That’s not really an option now.)

Some of these have been long time goals that I’ve never made traction on. Some of them are goals that I’ve attained in the past, but have lost ground on due to one thing or another and just not making it a priority. Some are moving targets that I’m trying to pin down and some are brand new. Regardless, as the late Zig Zigler said, “You hit what you aim at and, if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” Even if I don’t accomplish 1/3 of this list, I’ll have accomplished 2/3 more than I would have without writing it out and taking aim.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Your own goal lists? Bring ’em on! I enjoy hearing from you. 😀


Eat Down the Pantry, Week 4 Menu Plan

Wow! This is the last full week of our “Eat Down the Pantry” challenge. In many ways, our cupboards and freezer are starting to get a little bare. But, as spring is coming and we’ll want to start preserving our fresh food finds, this is a great place to be.

What I’ve learned so far:

  • I heart knowing what every meal is going to be in advance – even if I end up changing it. We’ve had a TON of leftovers, so I definitely need to include more “clean out the fridge” days.
  • I heart having the Tasks list to help me prep for the next day’s meals. I have SO many other things batting around my brain, that I just need a list to tell me what to do.
  • My husband is liking that I’m not stressing over food. He’s noticed a difference. Whee!

Sunday, January 20

Breakfast: Leftovers
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Chili

Tasks: Pull Split Pea Soup and a container of applesauce from the freezer

Monday, January 21

Breakfast: Eggs with toast and yogurt
Lunch: Leftovers for grown ups, sandwiches for kids
Split pea soup, cheese, and homemade bread with dipping oil

Tasks: Make bread, check kombucha, and pull zucchini and bacon out of the freezer

Tuesday, January 22

Breakfast: Banana smoothies and zucchini pancakes with bacon
Dinner: Crock pot baked potato for baked potato bar

Tasks: Grate some cheese, cook some extra bacon to go with dinner, pull okra out to thaw, and soak oats for breakfast

Wednesday, January 23

Breakfast: Oatmeal with butter, milk and honey
Lunch: Leftovers
Okra raita, Indian fish and potato stew and biscuits

Tasks: Have the kids help make biscuits. Double or triple the recipe and freeze some before baking. Pull pork chops out of the freezer.

Thursday, January 24

Breakfast: Pancakes and sauteed apples
Lunch: PBJ’s or leftovers
Apple sage pork chops and Sunshine Cole Slaw

Tasks: Pull some pumpkin puree out of the freezer.

Friday, January 25

Breakfast: Pumpkin Pie Casserole and Banana Smoothies
Lunch: Leftovers


Saturday, January 26

Breakfast: Pancakes or waffles, chef’s choice
Lunch: Leftovers
Leftovers or homemade pizza

Leave a comment »

Eat Down the Pantry, Week 3 Menu

In case you’re just now joining us, we’re participating in Good Cheap Eats‘ January 2013 “Eat Down the Pantry” Challenge.

Week 3

This weeks sees us upping the amounts of rice and beans as we continue eating through our stockpile. I did cheat a little bit and buy 4 gallons of super awesome non-homogenized, grassfed cow’s milk from the creamery when we went up to NC last week. They’ve been added to our freezer stash to be pulled out as needed for baby. I also stocked up on organic sucanat from Bryson’s Farm Supply as it’s a much better price there than anything I’ve seen online. Since I was in town anyway, right? 😉

Also, it’s time to tackle some of our more exotic oddities. Grape leaves and pine nuts, arborio rice and lamb necks – it’s time to work them in. We also get to take advantage of bringing our bucket of mint plants with us as Friday night’s dinner calls for a teaspoon of fresh mint.

Sunday, January 13

Breakfast: Fried Mush…no, really. That’s what the recipe is called. It’s a way to use all of our leftover oatmeal and have pancakes at the same time. Win!
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Spinach and Carrots Pullao (on the stove top), cornbread and Crockpot Arborio Rice Pudding

Tasks: Pull out two jars of chicken broth for tomorrow’s soup, pull out a bag of chickpeas for tomorrow’s dinner, boil extra “about to expire” eggs for snacks, make coconut flour muffins

Monday, January 14

Breakfast: Eggs with toast and yogurt
Lunch: Chicken Soup
Vegan Dad’s Cajun Chickpea Patties with Tahini-Tamari sauce and salad

Tasks: Make bread, make breadmaker deli rolls, check kombucha

Tuesday, January 15

Breakfast: Banana smoothies, coconut flour muffins, and breakfast rice*
Dinner: Snobby Joe’s with deli rolls and butternut squash fries

Tasks: Pull lamb necks out of the freezer, soak oats for tomorrow’s breakfast, save butternut squash seeds for roasting

Wednesday, January 16

Breakfast: Oatmeal with butter, milk and honey
Lunch: Leftovers
Lamb neck stew with lard biscuits

Tasks: Have the kids help make biscuits. Double or triple the recipe and freeze some before baking.

Thursday, January 17

Breakfast: Pancakes and sauteed apples
Lunch: PBJ’s or leftovers
Date night!

Tasks: Soak oats for breakfast, soak flour for pita bread, pull grated cucumber and ground meat out of the freezer for tomorrow’s dinner.

Friday, January 18

Breakfast: Baked oatmeal
Lunch: leftovers
Stuffed Grape Leaves with Pita Bread, Hummus, Black Olives, and Tzatziki Sauce

Tasks: Re-read grape leave tutorial, make pita bread, hummus, and tzatziki sauce

Saturday, January 19

Breakfast: Pancakes or waffles, chef’s choice
Lunch: leftovers
leftovers or homemade pizza

*Breakfast rice is something we while had growing up that is highly reminiscent of Horchata, a Latino rice milk drink. It tastes remarkably similar, but is much less exotic, in that it’s only cooked white rice with a little bit of cinnamon and sugar, topped with milk.

Leave a comment »

Eat Down the Pantry, Week 2 Menu

Ahem…so far, I’ve thrown away 1 opened bag of roasted peanuts that expired in January of 2011, found a can of…something (I don’t know because the wrapper’s been peeled off), and used most of a 6 lb can of whole, peeled tomatoes. I’ve found anchovy paste, condensed two opened canisters of coca powder down into one, and – this is important – I’ve used our menu chalkboard consistently throughout the challenge.

Oh yeah. I have a menu chalkboard. Don’t hate.

It’s actually a bit of a sanity saver. My oldest has been reading for awhile now. She can look at the board and see what we’re having, as opposed to asking me over and over and over and over…well, you get the idea. 🙂

Sunday, January 6

Breakfast: Homemade bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits
Lunch: Leftovers (for easy meals after we get home from church)
Dinner:  Everyday Yellow Dal, Thalipeeth, and Okra Raita

Monday, January 7

Breakfast: Oatmeal with butter, honey, and milk Uh…yeah, this didn’t happen. My son was up and down throughout the night and then, when I had finally gotten him settled back in his bed, I tripped on a jingle bell toy and woke up the baby. Mama said there’d be days like this. My awesome husband made pancakes and let me sleep in.
Lunch: Leftovers/sandwiches
Yellow Squash Casserole with Rice and Chicken

Tasks for the day: Make crockpot yogurt, Boil eggs, Make coconut flour muffins and grapefruit clafouti

Tuesday, January 8

Breakfast: Frozen banana smoothie, Citrus fruit topped with yogurt, toast
Tuna salad sandwiches
Dinner: Crockpot Baked Potato Bar

Task for the day: Make hamburger buns in the bread machine, pull meat for tomorrow’s meatloaf out of the deep freezer.

Wednesday, January 9

Breakfast: Oatmeal with butter, milk, and honey
Lunch: Deli sandwiches
Meatloaf, leftover baked potatoes, and salad

Task for the day: Soak oatmeal for tomorrow’s breakfast.

Thursday, January 10

Breakfast: Baked Oatmeal
Lunch: traveling

Friday, January 11

Breakfast: traveling
Lunch: traveling

Saturday, January 12

Breakfast: Pancakes or waffles, chef’s choice
Lunch: leftovers or sandwiches
Homemade pizza and butternut squash fries

Leave a comment »

Eating Down the Pantry, Day One

Menu planning! Depending on the day, I vacillate between loving and loathing it. Generally, I’m loving it after the meals are planned out and loathing it at all times before that. 😉
In an eat down the pantry challenge, though, it’s absolutely vital to make the challenge (and desired budget cuts!) feasible. So…without further ado, here’s the week!

Tuesday, January 1

Breakfast: French Toast
Lunch: Homemade Meat and Cheese Platter, Cracker and Bread Platter, and Veggie Platter with Homemade Ranch Dressing (It’s the second dressing down – I didn’t have chives and I used 1/2 c. sour cream + 1/4 c. yogurt – it’s amazing! Add some yogurt cheese and it’s the perfect base for a veggie pizza. YUM!)
Dinner: Potato Soup with Homemade Boule Bread

Wednesday, January 2

Breakfast: Oatmeal with butter, honey, and milk
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (I, ahem, bought jelly yesterday as we were totally out.)
Dinner: Slow cooker Taco Soup, subbing homemade taco seasoning for the store bought packet, frozen pintos rather than a can, and opening up a 6 lb can of whole, peeled tomatoes, using what I need and packaging/freezing the rest.

Thursday, January 3

Breakfast: Frozen banana smoothie, Citrus fruit topped with yogurt, toast
Lunch: leftover soup
Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs and salad

Friday, January 4

Breakfast: Mushroom, onion, and cheese omelet, Coconut flour muffins from deep freezer
Lunch: leftover spaghetti
Apple sage porkchops with salad, coconut rice, and baked sweet potatoes

Saturday, January 5

Breakfast: Pancakes or waffles, chef’s choice (That would be my husband! When he was growing up, he and his brother alternated making breakfast on the weekends. I’m looking forward to passing that tradition on to our kids! 🙂
Lunch: leftovers or sandwiches
Homemade pizza and butternut squash fries

So far, so good. I did do some grocery shopping yesterday, but, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I knew that weekly updates on perishables would be apart of this.

The challenge will be incorporating more rice and legumes into our diet as my kids don’t always care for them. (Admittedly, I don’t always care that they don’t care – if it’s on the table, it’s what we’re having for dinner, like it or not. I would, however, like dinner time to be pleasant if at all possible.) We have a LOT of rice and a nice variety of beans, some of which have already been cooked and stowed in the deep freezer.

Another challenge…using up some of my weirder impulse purchases. If anyone has recipes for sardines or pepperoncini, please let me know in the comments below. Thanks in advance!  🙂


Eat From the Pantry Challenge, T minus 1 Day

So…I will admit up front that I’m getting a late start on this. I still need to menu plan, but there’s a lot to be done before I can begin.

Today, I will be making an inventory of our cupboards and all of the wildness contained therein. Rice pilaf mix that I bought years ago because it was pretty and I wanted to display it on my countertop? Check. Three boxes of canned sardines that were marked down? Check. Organic wheat kernels that I bought from Tropical Traditions over a year ago when they had a free shipping sale because I was convinced that I would be getting a grain mill soon? (Sigh.) Check.

Either today or tomorrow, I will be doing an inventory of the deep freezer. We have pounds and pounds of bananas in the deep freezer, because well…I buy them in bulk for smoothies and banana popsicles. Except that we’ve gotten out of the smoothie habit lately and they’re now taking up a ton of space in our new-to-us freezer. (Hooray for Craigslist!)

And…I must also inventory the wilderness that is our refrigerator. Radishes languishing in the produce drawer because I hate radishes, but found a thyroid-boosting recipe using radishes? Check. Unidentifiable jars of forgotten food experimentation? Check. Honey and sugar that are in there to protect them from the ants? Check. :p

After I make the inventory, I will be looking for common threads to family favorite recipes. I already know that we have four boxes of einkorn spaghetti noodles, so we’ll likely be having spaghetti weekly.

My goal for the month is to cut our grocery budget in half – and more than that if I can manage it! I know that we’ll have to buy milk, eggs, cheese, and fresh fruit/veggies weekly, but by getting a plan in place, I’m sure we can do it.

More to follow on the morrow! See you then. 😀

Leave a comment »

Eat down the pantry? Pare the grocery bill? Sounds good to me!

I’m in! How about you?









One* of my 2013 goals is to start meal planning again. I’d been doing really well, but between pregnancy, juggling our new baby and three other kids, and moving, I totally fell off the wagon.

So…let’s eat down the pantry, save grocery money, and have fun at the same time! Who’s with me?

Tomorrow, let’s make an inventory of what’s actually in the pantry. If you need a nifty planning page, you can find one here. Just scroll to the bottom of the page to find it – but if you have time to read the article, please do. Crystal Paine is an amazing woman and a fabulous writer and frugality resource.

*There are many other goals floating around in my brain. I’m still working on verbalizing oodles of them and I fully expect to make bunches of them known here – accountability and all that, what, what?

Others, like starting the Couch to 5K program with my hubby tomorrow, have already been vocalized and committed to. Whee! Thank you, God, for our awesome $50 Craigslist treadmill!!!