The Art of Brown Bagging.

The Art of Brown Bagging.

I am dedicating this post to co-workers at my office. Often when I am in the lunch room heating up my lunch I am asked what I brought because it smells and looks good. I share with my co-workers that I try to plan and pre-make my meals. If not the entire meal, at least the proteins and then it is a quick rummage through the well stocked pantry to make my lunch for the day. I was asked by a co-worker, our AMAZING Training Administrator, if I gave cooking lessons. I laughed and said I would like to but I have the best job ever already.

I thought about this request and the need we all have to eat well, nutritiously and on a budget. I told my co-worker that when I prepare my meals for this week, I would take time to blog it and do my best to show the steps.

Some tips for your pantry to remember:

  • Buy proteins on sale.
  • Stock your pantry with sauces, pastas, beans, rice.
  • Keep fresh, canned or frozen veggies on hand.
  • Canned crushed tomatoes and canned petite diced tomatoes.
  • ALWAYS keep beef, chicken and vegetable broths on hand.
  • Chili seasonings, gravy mixes, herbs and spices.
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder are basics.

I would show  you my pantry…but then I would need to organize it and I would not have time to blog.

Here we go, I made these four lunches in about 1 1/2 hours, plus I have one chicken breast left over to make a couple of quick dinners for my husband and me after work this week.

20170218_173015This is Teriyaki Chicken  With Cabbage. I use cabbage because it is more filling and healthy than white rice and fewer carbs. Just pop it in the microwave until it is hot about 1 minute on high.

20170218_173949This is Chicken Parmesan with egg noodles and sauteed Kale with Bacon. Again I am using a veggie to fill me up and less noodles. Microwave 1 minute on high.

20170218_173404Barbecue Chicken With Sauteed Kale and Bacon with tomatoes. Use your favorite sauce, I like Famous Dave’s. Microwave 1 minute on high.

20170218_174508Buffalo Chicken with Baked Parmesan Cauliflower and a side of Cucumber and tomatoes with Blu Cheese Dressing. Heat chicken and cauliflower in the Microwave 1 minute on high.

Here is how I made these four meals and more in 1 1/2 hours.

I bought split chicken breasts on sale at Basha’s grocery store for 89 cents a pound. This gave me 4 nice size breast for just over 4 dollars.


I put the chicken skin side up on my baking pan added salt and pepper to the chicken and baked it at 375 degrees Fahrenheit  uncovered for one hour.

During the hour the chicken was cooking I prepared my sides. I chopped the cabbage, and boiled some noodles, sliced my tomatoes, cucumbers and green onions. I prepared the cauliflower to go into the oven as soon as the chicken came out.

  • My prep for the Cauliflower was to break off the florets and then slice florets into three slices. Toss the slices with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese. When the chicken comes out of the oven put the cauliflower in the oven to bake for about 30 minutes. 

I want to show how to make the Sauteed Kale and Bacon.

20170218_165426 Wash the fresh kale or you could use frozen. I bought this at my local produce store for 69 cents.

20170218_165501Cut out the middle stem and then chop the kale into small pieces.

20170218_165356While you are getting the Kale ready begin cooking your bacon and onions in a skillet, this is a 9 inch skillet.

20170218_165759 When you have the kale chopped and ready put it on top of the onions and bacon wait a minute before you begin stirring. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder not too much salt as the bacon will be salty.

20170218_170250When the kale turns bright green and is just tender it is done, about 5 minutes.

The chicken is done!20170218_164920

Take the chicken off the pan and place on a plate to cool. See the chicken drippings on the pan? After you remove the chicken off the pan, put about a cup of hot water in this pan and begin to scrape the drippings on the bottom of the pan. Save this aside, I will show you what to do with it in a moment.


This is the chicken breasts on the plate. After it has cooled enough to handle I took the skin off and took the breasts off the bones. This is all very easy since the chicken is cooked it comes off the bone easily. Do not throw he bones and skin away, I will tell you what to do with them shortly.

Notice I have also pictured here the sauces I used to make the meals I mentioned.20170218_175812


I used this for the chicken Parmesan.

When you are ready to make your individual lunches slice the chicken breasts, put the chicken into your plastic lunch container, pour your chosen sauce over the chicken, put your chosen side in the other section of the container. This takes literally less than 5 minutes for each meal. Now put on the lids and place into the refrigerator.

The extra chicken breast I did not use for my lunches, I will make a chicken quesadilla for dinner one evening after work.

20170218_171340Now to use the chicken drippings in your baking pan you set aside earlier, bones and skin. Place all of these items in a sauce pan add water just to cover the bones. Place on the stove to cook for about 30 minutes, while you make your individual meals.

By the time you have made all of your individual lunches as I have pictured above, your home made chicken broth is done.

20170218_175638 Remove the bones and skin from the pan and pour the broth into jars or plastic container and put in the refrigerator to make soup with later instead of using a box broth. This made two pints of broth for free!

20170218_175901Another product from the chicken is a little of the broth and small pieces of chicken that can still be taken off the bones and saved aside to add to our doggy’s food, she loves it, I keep it in the fridge. Free dog food!

I hope these directions are easy to follow. Just remember to keep your pantry stocked with staples and buy your proteins on sale, schedule a time on your off time to prepare head and you will always eat well, they will be nutritious meals and they will cost less than two dollars per lunch.

Some times I buy pork loin roast or brisket that is on sale and cook the whole thing and make my lunches and dinners for the week. When I do this pre-planning I can literally have dinner on the table in 20 minutes after I get home from work.

Of course you can do the same thing using a crock pot, crock pot food is not my personal favorite. I am not a good cook with Crock Pots I can not seem to get the flavor I enjoy, but they are great for warming food for a buffet.

Let me know if this blog was helpful in any way or if you have suggestions.

Happy Brown Bagging!



Posted by on February 20, 2017 in Cooking


Well These Turned Out Well…

Well  These Turned Out Well…

Here is another ornament I was able to make today. This is not a new idea and it is not my idea, but it’s a good one.20161126_184112

I went to a Holiday Festival today and a vendor had some of these she was selling. I remembered I have a couple of dozen clear plastic ornaments I got at the dollar store that I used last year and saved. 

I pulled those ornaments out and all of my paints. I used some tempura paint I have and some poster paints along with some acrylic craft paints. I made these dozen ornaments in about an hour. 

The key is to not use too much paint at one time, be purposeful where you place the paint in the ornament. Use the color you want to be the focal color first then fill in with the minor colors. 

If you want the paint feathered and swirly then move the paint along bu tapping the ornament. If you want less blending of color this is when you want to be more clear in your decision where to place the color to begin with. 

I liked using the glitter tempura paint first then placing a few other colors then swirl the paint around this caused the glitter paint to show and gave glitter to the whole ornament. If I used an opaque color first and then used the glitter paint last the glitter only showed in the windows that were left over after swirling the opaque colors first.

This is a very easy craft to make and using the ornaments at the dollar store it is an inexpensive craft. I did not ask the vendor how much she was selling her ornaments for but I feel $2.50 dollars would be fair. 

I like going to art and craft festivals seeing the creativity of others, the creative energy is so great! Fine artist and home crafters all sitting in the same area showing and selling their wares and being vulnerable to exhibit their creations that demonstrate their desire to produce items that never existed before, that cause joy in those that view their creations and then happiness to the person who may eventually end up with the creation as a gift. It is a nice feeling to know that our creations will be enjoyed by others as they use them in their lives.

I came away from the festival with a list of ideas to try or build on….when I have time.

I hope you will try to make these beautiful ornaments.



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Posted by on November 26, 2016 in Did You Ever Think...?, General, Jewelry


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I’m on vacation! It’s time to create!

I’m on vacation! It’s time to create!

We downsized about a year and a half ago and I was limited on what I could keep from my craft supplies. I decided to keep the 6 burnt out light bulbs I have had in my craft drawer for at least the past 5 years. Remember, I went back into the work field just over 4 years ago, I have done very little in the way of crafting if it was not actually for my work.

I knew exactly what I saved these bulbs for, it was to make these little penguins. I think they are very sweet and I am able to reuse a throw away item, I am re-purposing, that is always good. Well, you say there are 8 penguins…Yes and I have 8 more I am completing. I could not just have 6 of these little guys so I went to the dollar store and bought some more, yes they are perfectly usable bulbs, however they are incandescent bulbs and they are going out of style, I mean I don’t use them in my home any more so why not make penguins out of them. At the dollar store I can get two bulbs for a dollar…they are CHEAP!

Here is how I begin the process and they you can dress them how ever you like. I have made hats out of children’s socks and as you see I have even hand crocheted little red hats. All of my embellishments I got at the dollar store.

These penguins can be table decorations the way have have presented them or if you want them to be tree decorations just add a hook to the hat and do not add the washer to the bottom of the bulb.

20161126_140913these are the tools I used. Primer, black acrylic paint, a large metal washer for weight, all purpose adhesive that will adhere to glass and my paint brush.


Glue the washer to the bottom of the bulb. You will need to let the glue dry at least 30 minutes but 12 hours is best. Hot glue does not work as well as it tends to pop off of glass surfaces.


Paint the bulb with the primer


After the primer has dried then paint the entire bulb with the black acrylic paint leaving a white space that it where the penguin’s tummy is. I used spray adhesive to attach the white felt it is quite permanent and attaches smoothly and quickly.

You will see that I have used a piece of white felt for the tummy and a small orange felt triangle for the beak.

I have had a lot of fun making these little guys, I will give them to my co-workers for a small Christmas gift a a token of my appreciation.

The little fat penguin you see at the top of the picture and the snow men that are made out children’s size 4-6 socks and rice, NO sewing needed. I will post those directions later next week. the snowmen I will be helping my grandson’s first grade class to make next week.

Happy Holidays everyone, let me know how you like these little guys!

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Posted by on November 26, 2016 in General


We had Weddings!

We had Weddings!

In the past year, from last November to June, we had four children get married we are expecting two more weddings next year one in Missouri in February (maybe) and one in in Utah in July…whew!

We are happy our children have found wonderful people to marry and are all happy and doing well.

Three of our children asked me to make their wedding cakes  and here are the pictures we took.


This is our Nov. 2015 wedding. Each tier is a lemon cake with lemon filling. I slice each layer after it is baked so each tier is four layers of cake and three layers of filling. The tiers are all 6 inches tall.


This cake was our May 2016 wedding. this cake is white cake with a strawberry fluff filling.  Again I sliced each layer after it is baked so each tier is four layers of cake and three layers of filling.  The tiers are all 6 inches tall. The emblems are all created with fondant.


This is our June 2015 wedding in Missouri held at the Civil War Ranch by Carthage Missouri. We drove so I was able to take all of my supplies and I used my sister’s kitchen while she was at work and created this cake. This case is a combination of a yellow tier with a butter cream filling, Strawberry tier with strawberry filling and a chocolate tier with of course a chocolate filling.

Again I sliced each layer after it is baked so each tier is four layers of cake and three layers of filling.  The tiers are all 6 inches tall.

The sunflowers are all hand  made one peddle at a time out of gum paste and a gum paste center, then assembled to make these really life-like sunflowers.

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Posted by on November 11, 2016 in Cakes


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Happy Veteran’s Day

Happy  Veteran’s Day

My father and brother are both veterans, luckily they were not in during a time of war but they served with honor and dignity and I am proud of their service. We have many friends and other family members who are also veterans and to them thank you for your service and sacrifice  we are happy you made it through so we can benefit from knowing you.

We have 5 children who were in the armed services we are grateful for their service. Two did not deploy, three did deployed, one to Germany and two the war zones in the Middle East. All survived physically and we are grateful they are with us. Some are doing just fine. Some suffered emotional scars that will be with them on-going, that is a heartbreak for parents as well.

We never know how life’s twists and turns will affect us and those around us in the moment. I know we all are doing the best we can in the moment and always hope to be doing what is best for other’s around us.

It is my hope that as a part of humanity, we will have that extra measure of empathy for those who have suffered the traumas of war or even any trauma in life and will reach out to give them a hand up and hope for the future.

God Bless America.

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Posted by on November 11, 2016 in General


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Venna’s Mexican Sundae

Venna’s Mexican Sundae

I saw a post by a new follower this morning stating she was about to have her first dinner party and she was serving enchiladas. I immediately thought about this dessert I often make when I am serving Mexican food for a dinner party.

I had to run out to the market and get the needed items so I could post this today. My poor husband had to eat the sundae I created that you see in the picture….how he suffers for my hobbies…lol

I used to work at Taco Bell many years ago, at that time they had Cinnamon Crispas on the menu. I used to buy those and make this dessert. Now I make my own Cinnamon Crispas and here is how I do it.


I use small fajita size flour tortillas, cinnamon sugar, vegetable oil


As your oil is heating to 350 degrees,


Prepare your tortilla by cutting them into six pieces. One tortilla will make two sundaes.


When  our oil reaches 350 degrees place two or three chips in your pot to fry.


When the chips have cooked about one minute on each side and are crispy remove them from the fryer and place them on a rack to cool. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar immediately after you place them on the rack.

To create the sundae you can use your favorite ice cream and toppings. Fruit that is in season is always best but you may have other preferences.

I will usually opt for either strawberries or raspberries mixed with a little sugar to get the fruit juices flowing. We like to drizzle a little chocolate syrup on top and then top the sundae with whipped topping and mini chocolate chips. I hope you will enjoy this dessert it has been the hit of many dinners.

20161111_095939 I wanted to show the thermometer I have to monitor my cooking temperatures. My husband bought this for me a few years ago and I enjoy using it about everyday.

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Posted by on November 11, 2016 in Cooking, Crochet


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Easy Tom Yum Soup made with Lemon Ginger Lipton Tea

Easy  Tom Yum Soup made with Lemon Ginger Lipton Tea

This is what Wikipedia has to say about Tom Yum soup

“Literally, the words “tom yam” are derived from two Thai words: “tom” and “yam”. “Tom” refers to boiling process, while “yam” refers to a Thai spicy and sour salad. Indeed, tom yum is characterised by its distinct hot and sour flavours, with fragrant spices and herbs generously used in the broth. The basic broth is made of stock and fresh ingredients such as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce, and crushed chili peppers.”

I had this soup at a little restaurant one day last summer. It was so delicious, warm lemony and spicy with wonderful vegetables and shrimp. One day a couple of weeks later I wanted to have this soup again and I figured I would make some for myself. I looked up the recipe and it was quite involved and I would need to make a trip to the Asian market. I was too impatient for all of that so I had my husband take me out to the restaurant again.

Last week when I was at my local grocery store I looked on the marked down isle and found a box of Lipton Lemon Tea. I had a cold at the time and thought this would be a nice herbal tea to help me feel better. I had the tea for my cold and as I was drinking it, a thought came to me and I made this recipe.

My version has chicken because that is what I had in my fridge already cooked but you can also use cooked shrimp.


I make this soup to take to work with me in just this way.

3/4 cup precooked chicken chopped or shrimp

1/2 cup frozen veggies your choice

1/4 cup mushrooms

1 green onion chopped

1 chicken bouillon cube

1 1/2 cup chicken broth

2 Lipton Lemon Ginger tea bags

2 tblsp. chopped cilantro

2 tblsp. Wonton strips

I place the first 7 ingredients in my microwave cup (I got it at Bed Bath and Beyond).  I put the soup in my fridge at work. At lunch time I microwave the soup for 3 minutes.


When the soup is hot, top the soup with the cilantro and wanton strips.20161107_055428

The Lemon Ginger tea give the soup a very similar taste of the Tom Yum soup without having to go to the Asian market and doing all of the prep work to make the authentic soup.

When I have the time and the funds I will go back to the little restaurant and have the real thing, but in the mean time I will make this quick yummy fake Tom Yum soup.

I hope you enjoy, let me know!


Posted by on November 7, 2016 in Cooking


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