"If it ain't broke" and saving money

This year we're hosting Christmas Eve dinner with the fam after the Christmas Eve service at church. Normally this job belongs to my aunt but this year we are doing Christmas at her newly-constructed masterpiece on Skidaway Island. Plan B was to go to a nice restaurant but with two kids, no-thank-you-very-much so I volunteered our home. And since Ryan is working both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year, it just makes sense: he can join the fun when he's not dealing with emergencies.

Anyway, I decided to make my White Chili. This stuff is so easy and everyone loves it; it can be cooking while we're at church and ready to eat the minute we get back. The crockpock is always empty after I serve it. And it doesn't have beef so I'll be able to make it without throwing up and eat it - an added bonus. Hopefully no one will be bored, but really, if it ain't broke...

The only downside is that it calls for navy beans, which are kind of pricy. I have yet to find a generic brand and the cans at most stores are around $1 / can. And considering I need about 15 cans for the 3 crockpots full of chili that I'm going to churn out on Christmas Eve, this meal could end up being quite expensive. So to cut costs, I'm going to use dried beans. I have never met a bean I didn't like and cooking them fresh is something I enjoy (obviously, given my obsession with slow cooker black beans!). I bet I'll be able to get all the beans I need for less than $3.

How are you saving money this Christmas?


A little something

I've been busy cutting, measuring, sewing this week and with a little help from Sarah (thank you! thank you!), here is what I came up with:

My first applique project! I'm pretty happy with the result. And making things, creating, brings me so much joy!
Hopefully a smaller version will sport an "E" later this week...and I'm hoping to turn out a few more for Christmas gifts so shhh, don't tell anyone.


Menu planning Tuesdays

The next few weeks are going to busy so *easy* is the name of the game for our meals around here. I want to have time for all the fun things Christmas brings including the first annual Moody Make-a-Gingerbread-House party next week (more on that later).

Here's What's for Dinner:
Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings using Whole Wheat Drop Biscuits

Pesto Gnocci with Green Beans & Ricotta (sounds hard but is SO EASY--and gnocci can be hard to find so I use tortellini)

Pork Tenderloin, Steamed Spinach (from my farm box), Risotto

Three-Cheese Pasta Bake from Southern Living Busy Mom's Weeknight Favorites (a fabulous cookbook, complete with shopping lists and menus)

Chili Corn Stack-Up Salad (huge favorite of mine, it's made an appearance here before :))

Zippy Shrimp Spread, for the church Christmas Buffet this Sunday evening

Today I'm going to Wal-Mart and Sam's. That thought makes me want to crawl back into bed but unfortunately, we are out of toilet paper, diapers and milk so I must press on.

Have a great Tuesday!


Looking for yummy appetizers?

If you are in the market for easy, delicious and festive appetizers to make for your upcoming Christmas soirees, you have come to the right place! I have made both of these in the past two weeks and received rave reviews. People begging for the recipes. And both are so incredibly easy.

First, Savannah Sin, courtesy of the Junior League of Savannah:

Savannah Sin
2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 Lb. loaf round French bread
½ Cup chopped green chilies*
1 ½ Cups sour cream8 Oz. cream cheese, softened
½ Tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 Cup chopped green onions
½ Cup chopped cooked ham (I used lunch meat ham)
Combine the cheddar cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, ham, green chilies, green onions and Worcestershire in a bowl and mix well. Cut a thin slice from the top of the bread loaf and set aside. Remove the center carefully, leaving a shell. Cut the bread from the center into 1-inch cubes. Fill the bread shell with the dip; top with the reserved bread top. Bake 350 for 1 hour. Serve with bread cubes, crackers, or chips.

*Chilies are optional. I didn't use them.

And secondly, Zippy Shrimp Spread, from someone in the WOC at First Pres Augusta -

Zippy Shrimp Spread
Beat 2 8-oz packages cream cheese (softened) until smooth. Beat in 1 t. seasoning salt, 1 t. Worschester sauce and 1/2 t. onion powder. Spread onto a 13" platter. Combine 1 12-oz bottle of cocktail sauce and 1 T. horseradish and spread over cream cheese. Top with 2 6-oz cans of tiny shrimp, drained and rinsed. Sprinkle dried parsley on top.

This one is especially fun at Christmas: people think shrimp are fancy and the red sauce combined with the green parsley is oh-so-Christmasy.



This week

This week I didn't really do much that would qualify as blog-worthy, just been busy decorating for Christmas, preparing for a party at my house this week-end, hanging out with girls in my neighborhood and cleaning up throw-up. But I did make one meal that I just had to share. It was delicious and took about 3 minutes to prepare, from start to finish. It's from a blog that I found a couple of months ago, called A Year of Crockpotting. So far I've found a few keepers on this site, including the stand-out Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup. I used 2 frozen chicken breasts and canned black beans. I used an immersion blender at the end and it was fabulous. We have plenty of leftovers. Make this: you won't be sorry. Oh, and I cooked mine on high for 6 hours. And that was plenty.

And from last week, a picture of Charlie and Elliot, on the day we stayed home from church to do Elliot's eternal cold. This was just after half of our living floor was had to be replaced due to water damage. Charlie was quite pleased with the glue bucket that took up residence in our house and called it his "tuffet." Hilarious.

PS - The only day since Halloween that Charlie hasn't worn his Sir Topham Hat costume was Thanksgiving, when he wore his indian costume. And Elliot is sometimes tricked by Charlie into wearing his Halloween hat...


One more time

Georgians, we need to vote one more time...the run-off tomorrow is so important. Don't forget to vote!