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Bacon Gravy {A Trim Healthy Mama S Alternative to Biscuits and Gravy}

I’m going to be completely honest with you.  Any “diet”, Trim Healthy Mama included, loses it’s luster pretty quickly if you have to make separate meals all the time. {affiliate link} That’s why I try very hard to make the THM meals and snacks I serve just as appealing to rest of my family as they are to me.  Sometimes this means no changes at all because the food is great just the way it is (S meals tend to be a favorite here).  Sometimes it means I tweak my portion with a bread that is “on plan”.  Sometimes this means changing just a few ingredients to get it in line with THM.  Whatever I do, it had better be yummy!

Bacon Gravy - a Trim Healthy Mama biscuits & gravy alternative the entire family will love! | RaisingArrows.net

How about some Trim Healthy Mama Biscuits and Gravy?

Biscuits and Gravy probably seem pretty untouchable in the Trim Healthy Mama world.  Flour, milk, fluffy biscuits – its a blood sugar nightmare waiting to happen.  But, this S version will keep you from feeling yucky or left out of all the fun!  Plus, it is a family favorite that is sure to please EVERYONE!

You have a couple of choices when it comes to the bacon – real bacon or turkey bacon.  Both will work, so the choice is yours and needs to be based on preferences and pounds you need to lose.

You’ll also need to decide what bread to pair this with (that is, if you want bread at all!).  I tend to make regular biscuits for my family and eat mine plain, but all you need to do is pair this gravy with a S bread and you’re golden!  Perhaps the Country Biscuits recipe on page 267 or the Basic Sandwich Buns on page 269?  You could even smother some eggs with this lovely gravy!

I will also tell you this stuff is RICH – eat s…l..o…w…l…y!  You will fill up – especially if you’re choosing the regular bacon option (Deep S).  Take your time, mama!

Bacon Gravy - a Trim Healthy Mama Alternative to Biscuits & Gravy | RaisingArrows.net

One last notation:  I’m a large family mom; therefore, this recipe is going to reflect that (and will end up on my Large Family Recipes page).  Half as needed. ;)

Bacon Gravy
2 pounds bacon (pork or turkey), chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 pint heavy cream
2 tsp. ground black pepper

Fry bacon until crisp.  Remove bacon to a plate and drain off the excess grease, leaving about 1 Tbsp in the pan.  Add onions and sauté until onions are tender.  Add the bacon back in and pour in the cream and add black pepper.  Bring the gravy to a boil and then turn the heat to low and stir like crazy!  Cook (and stir) until the sauce thickens.

Serve alone, over biscuits, toast, or eggs.  To keep this in line with a Trim Healthy Mama S meal, serve over eggs or a plan-approved bread.

How I Flagged My Trim Healthy Mama Book

How I Flagged my Trim Healthy Mama Book | RaisingArrows.net

Not long after I purchased my copy of Trim Healthy Mama {affiliate link} a friend of mine who was also “on plan” came over to visit and shared with me how she had flagged her book.  She had used Gwen’s instructions on flagging, but she didn’t have quite enough flags for my taste, so I added several more flags and separated my categories in a way that fit my style so I could find exactly what I needed quickly.

How to Flag Your Trim Healthy Mama Book | RaisingArrows.net

Today, I’m going to share with you my flagging system, along with page numbers for each flag just in case we have the same “style.” :)

First of all, you need to get a set of these flags:

See the clear adhesive?  That’s what you want so you can stick it to your book and still read the recipes through it.

You’ll also need a pen.  It doesn’t matter what kind of pen, just be sure it is something with a fine tip so you’ll be able to fit everything you want to write on the flag.

OK, let’s go…

How to Flag Your Trim Healthy Mama Book | RaisingArrows.net

I first flagged the specific S, E, and FP sections:

S – page 65
E – page 77
FP – page 103

As Gwen mentions, you will want to flag these pages with each flag a bit further down on the page than the last flag.  For the main S, E, and FP sections, I separated them quite a bit.  For the other sections, I did not separate them out as far.

Next, I flagged the Breakfast Section.  Again, as Gwen suggests, I used the same color scheme for each section of the book I wanted to flag.  So, starting at the top of page 215, I flagged the Breakfast Section in hot pink like this:

Breakfast Eggs – page 215
Breakfast Grains – page 221
Smoothies – page 241
Greek Yogurt – page 251

The next section I flagged was Breads, and I did it in yellow.

Muffins – page 257
Breads – page 265
Pizza – page 275

Then, I did Lunch.

Lunch Salmon – page 283
Lunch Soup – page 289
Lunch Sandwiches – page 297
Lunch Salad – page 301
Lunch Miscellaneous – page 307

Next, was Supper (or Dinner – depending on where you’re from, my friend).

Supper Crock Pot – page 309
Supper Oven – page 317
Supper Stove Top – page 329
Supper Skillet – page 339
Supper Mexican – page 347
Supper Pasta – page 349

Then, I marked:

Dessert – page 367
Snacks – page 391
Dips – page 403
Quick Snacks – page 407
Sauces & Such – page 411
Cultures – page 415

And finally, I finished off by flagging the Fuel Cycle pages.

Fuel Cycle – page 429

I also have a huge paper clip holding pages 497 – 542 shut as suggested by Serene and Pearl.  I have kids who will read anything they can find, and those pages are for Mommy & Daddy’s eyes only. ;)

In a later post, I’ll share with you another way I keep my in-book THM recipes at-the-ready, but hopefully, this gives you a jumping off point if you haven’t already flagged your book!

Is your Trim Healthy Mama book flagged?  What are some other ways you keep the recipes easily accessible?

Click the link to read more about some of my favorite Trim Healthy Mama Tweaks!

Oven Pancake Dutch Baby

Quick & Easy Breakfast Idea - Dutch Baby (aka Oven Pancake) | RaisingArrows.net

Some mornings I’m too tired to think about breakfast.  OK, truth be told MOST mornings I’m too tired to think about breakfast.  A lot of times everyone gets breakfast on their own, but when we have a little more leisure time (like on weekends), I like to make something we can all sit down to that warms little tummies.  However, even then, I really don’t want to have to think very hard about what I’m making.

Enter Dutch Babies or Oven Pancakes!

Quick & Easy Breakfast - Dutch Babies (aka Oven Pancakes) | RaisingArrows.net

I was first introduced to Dutch Babies by another large family.  I had never even heard of them.  Imagine my surprise when I poured the eggy mixture into a casserole dish and out of the oven popped a crazy yummy breakfast that nearly jumps out of the pan!

Top them with just about anything you can think of (we like maple syrup or powdered sugar or fruit).  They are wonderful served up with a side of fruit or some bacon.  And cold leftovers are tasty too!

Here’s the recipe:

Easy Breakfast - Oven Pancake (aka Dutch Babies) | RaisingArrows.net

Dutch Babies
aka
Oven Pancake

8 eggs
2 c. milk
2 c. flour
1/2 c. butter

Preheat oven to 400º.  Put 1/4 c. of butter into each of two 9×13″ casserole dishes.  Put the pans into the oven to melt the butter as the oven preheats.

Mix together eggs, milk, and flour in a medium mixing bowl.

Once butter is melted, pull the pans out of the oven and tip pans to allow butter to coat the entire surface.

Pour 1/2 of the egg mixture into each of the pans and bake 15-20 minutes.  Mixture will brown and puff up as it bakes.  Cut the oven pancake into squares.  Serve with maple syrup, powdered sugar, or fruit.

Now wasn’t that easy?!

Finger Food Lunches for Busy Moms

Finger Food Lunch - having a snack lunch is a quick and easy homeschool meal! | RaisingArrows.net

Once a week for many years, we’ve had what we call an Amish Lunch or Finger Food Lunch.  This meal, which consists of, you guessed it – finger foods – was a concept we were first introduced to while reading The Amish Cook syndicated column in a local newspaper.  The Amish Cook would talk about her daily activities as well as the meals they were having, and often, one of those meals was this very simple, yet delicious finger food concept – thus, the reason we have always called it an “Amish Lunch”.  This type of meal always sounded so yummy and easy, so I began to brainstorm how we could incorporate it into our homeschool lunch menu.

Lunch for the Busy Homeschool Mom

Homeschool moms have a lot on their hands – especially around lunch time.  It is VERY difficult to break away from studies and make time to eat, let alone make time to cook.  Most homeschool moms I know choose to make very easy lunch meals or use up leftovers.  The Amish concept of a finger food lunch fits in perfectly with these!

Finger Food Lunch - a quick and easy way to serve lunch in a busy homeschooling household! | RaisingArrows.net

While you can certainly plan to buy specific foods to have for your Finger Food Lunch, you can also simply use up foods in your refrigerator and pantry that meet the finger food criteria.  Serve them on plates and platters and let everyone dig in.  You could even get fancy and give them toothpicks to choose their foods – but then again, toothpicks might end up being used as swords…or is that just my household?

Ideas for Finger Food Lunches

Meats – deli, summer sausage, hamburger patties, pepperonis, Canadian bacon, etc.

Cheeses – cheese wedges, string cheese, cheese slices or cubes, etc.

Cut Veggies – carrots, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, jicama, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.

Fruits – grapes, apples, oranges, strawberries, kiwi, cantaloupe, blueberries, bananas, etc.

Dried fruit

Pickled foods – beets, olives, onions, cucumbers, you might even want to try my pickled green beans!

Crackers

Jelly/Jam/Fruit Butters

Relishes

Dips – this Autumn, try my Caramel Apple Dip!

Nuts – at Christmas time, we like to have Sugar-Coasted Roasted Nuts - YUM!

Breads – see my Large Family Recipes page for some of our favorite bread recipes!

Drinks – water is easy, but we like to do homemade lemonade because I have a daughter who really enjoys making it for the family!


 

Megan’s Famous Homemade Lemonade

2 cups of sugar (or comparable sweetener)
2 cups of lemon juice
1 gallon of water

Mix all ingredients well in a gallon pitcher.  Watch it disappear!


I have a friend who calls this type of meal Snack Lunch; however, one complaint she has about it is that it does not seem to stick with her kids, and they are soon hungry again.  I have a couple of suggestions to remedy this:

1.  Be sure you have put enough food and enough caloric density on the platter.  You may want to add popcorn, denser breads, and plenty of meat and cheese to your platter.  Maybe you have a great roasted garbanzo bean recipe or you’ve made some savory oyster crackers – throw those in the mix!

2.  Have your Finger Food Lunch on a day when you are able to have a heavier snack or an early dinner.  Finger Foods may not be a good choice if you are going to be out all day shopping with the kids.  It all depends on #1.  If you can’t pull together a more caloric dense lunch, then save those lunches for days when you are home and snack time will be some homemade yummy or when dinner time will be early.

So, what would you put on your Finger Food Lunch platter?

2014 Canning Season Recipes

2014 Canning Season - so far, we've made salsa, spaghetti sauce, pickles and pickled green beans, freezer green beans, and sandhill plum jelly!  Recipes included in the post! | RaisingArrows.netThis year, we were blessed with abundant produce that was free or nearly free to us.  We had a small garden and very generous landlords.

I’ve admitted in the past that I am not a gardener.  I like to blame it on my sensory issues – there is nothing about playing in the dirt that intrigues me.  However, I REALLY like having fresh produce that WE grew.  So fun!  This year, we grew peas, onions, tomatoes, green peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, corn, green beans, and there are cantaloupe on the vine as we speak.

As for our generous landlords – they are an older couple who plant WAY more than they could ever eat (as in 60 tomato plants!).  They have sent tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, and green beans our way in bucket-fulls!  And I am sure not going to waste it!

Tomatoes!

And then, to top it off, this has been a stellar year for the sandhill (or wild) plum!  These little beauties grow roadside and are usually free for the picking by whomever makes it there first!

sandhill plums

As promised last week in my Pregnancy Update, here are the recipes we’ve been using this canning season.

Sandhill Plum Jelly – Apparently, I’m one of the few sites out there with this recipe because this time of year, I get a lot of hits on this post.

2014 Canning Season - sandhill plum jelly, spaghetti sauce, pickled green beans, and more! | RaisingArrows.net

I mention in my plum jelly post how I was running my pulp through mesh with a spoon.  Well, thankfully, I found my sieve!  This isn’t the cleanest job in the world, but that tart jelly is oh so worth it!

Freezer Green Beans – Early on, we froze our green beans.  This is a nice, simple process that yields beautiful, bags full of bright green veggies!

1.  Wash your beans.
2.  Trim the stems off your beans and cut them in half.
3.  Blanch the beans in boiling water for 1 minute.
4.  Dunk in ice water for 1 minute.
5.  Pat dry (we used paper towels).
6.  Bag in “meal sized” freezer bags.  For our family, this means full 1 gallon bags, but that may be too much for your family.  Adjust accordingly.

Pickled Green Beans – As the season wore on, and the landlords had more and more and more green beans, my kids begged for pickled green beans instead of freezing them.  Now for some of you, the idea of pickled green beans seems pretty “out there”, but you really ought to try it!

You can use any pickle recipe, but this one is very similar to what we use for our pickled okra (when we have it) and has been a favorite for a very long time.  It includes dill, garlic and red pepper flakes, and ends up quite yummy.  By the way, if you ever want to hear my “angry okra” story, fell free to read all about it HERE.

Cucumber Pickles – We didn’t end up with very many cucumbers, so what we did end up with became pickles that went straight into our refrigerator.  When you do this, you really need to let them set in the refrigerator unopened for about a week (more would be ideal) to get the full flavor.  It was all we could do to wait a week, and they were gobbled up all in one setting!  The recipe we used came from Sheri Graham.

Salsa – When the tomatoes first started rolling in, we did up huge batches of our favorite salsa.

Fresh & Tasty Homemade Salsa - nothing like it! | RaisingArrows.net

This is a very chunky salsa with some surprising ingredients like balsamic vinegar and soy sauce!  The acid content in the salsa was plenty high enough to be able to water bath it (the only kind of canning I do), so we ended up doing about 3 gallons.

Later, we moved on to a less chunky salsa that we found HERE.  However, I don’t think either salsa is really going to be hot enough.  I need to put more heat in them next time.

Spaghetti Sauce – I had never canned spaghetti sauce, and frankly, we don’t use the stuff.  For years, we have simply used tomato sauce with spices in it.  That’s it.  However, I thought it would be nice to have some real homemade sauce for our italian meals, so I dug around for a recipe and came up with THIS ONE.

Canned spaghetti sauce

It was VERY tasty, but by the time we had done up a dozen quarts (plus the salsa we had already done), my kids (and myself) were sick of tomatoes.  I happened to mention on Facebook how we were all tired of peeling and seeding tomatoes, and my Facebook blew up with people chiming in saying they didn’t peel or de-seed their tomatoes and I shouldn’t either!  I was astounded.  I was under the impression this was a RULE.  So, when the landlords called and asked if I wanted yet another round of tomatoes, I exasperated my children by saying Yes…because I really wanted to try this little experiment!

Well, the truth is, I will be trying this little experiment later today.  HERE is the recipe I’m going to use. Now, I know the woman in the post freezes hers, but I will be adding some tomato paste (to thicken) and lemon juice (to up the acid content) and water bath them for 20 minutes.  I will also probably run them through the Vita-Mix…just in case people are pulling my leg about having the skins and seeds in there being ok.

Once I’m through the last of the tomatoes and the sandhill plums, we will be finished until apple season…which also looks like a bumper crop.  We buy seconds at a local orchard and turn them into all sorts of yummy treats!  We’ll be freezing slices for pie, making applesauce to can, making apple butter (probably in the crock pot), and maybe even some apple pie filling!

Until then, the rest of the tomatoes on the vine will be picked green and fried.

How We Feed Our Family of 9 with 2 pounds of Hamburger

How We Feed Our Family of 9 with 2 pounds of Hamburger + Unstuffed Cabbage Roll recipe | RaisingArrows.netWhen I wrote about my bulk taco seasoning recipe, I mentioned we only use 2 pounds of ground beef for our family of 9, and that I only started using the second pound about 2 children ago.  Several of you were shocked and wanted to know how this was possible, so I thought I’d write a little bit more about how we manage this.

First of all, THIS is what 2 pounds of ground beef/hamburger looks like (plus some onions from our garden…more on that in a moment):

How We Feed Our Family of 9 with 2 Pounds of Hamburger + Unstuffed Cabbage Roll recipe | RaisingArrows.net

The skillet is a 15″ cast iron skillet from Lodge.  As the meat cooks, we season it and often throw in onions and/or peppers to add flavor.  From here, the possibilities are endless!

Let’s say you are doing something with a Mexican flair…
Add tomatoes, beans, rice, and some type of sauce (tomato sauce is the most often used one here).

Italian?
More garden veggies, noodles, and sauce.

Sandwich meat?
Oatmeal, veggies, beans, lentils, and yes…sauce!

And don’t forget CHEESE!  We use a lot of cheese, sour cream, and veggies to add to our meat to create a heartier meal.

You can easily double the amount of pasta or rice you put into a dish and still keep the ground beef amounts the same.  Casseroles and stove-top meals (like the Unstuffed Cabbage Roll recipe below) are the easiest to stretch.  We rarely do something like meatloaf or a meat by itself (unless we are cooking up steaks, pork chops, or homemade brats).  Meatloaf can be bulked up with oats or rice, but not many in my family are fans of meatloaf, so I don’t even bother.

We often make quesadillas for a quick lunch (<—take a look at that post – it’s from when I was pregnant with Baby #7 and there’s a sonogram picture!)  We will start with the 2 pounds of hamburger meat, but when that runs out, we finish off with cheese-only quesadillas.  And again, we encourage the kids to add sour cream, lettuce, and salsa to bulk up calories.

Another thing we do is set out bowls of “sides” that add an element of fun to the meal.  It is not uncommon for there to be pickles, black olives, or a bowl of cut up cucumbers on the table to serve as finger foods to supplement the meal.  Sometimes I serve a traditional side (mainly for the evening meal when Daddy is home), but usually for lunch, the main dish is supplemented only by the extra finger foods.

And in case you are wondering, yes, I do serve snacks.  Around 3 o’clock is snack time and it helps to carry everyone through to suppertime.

Now let me give you a real life example from a meal we had a couple of nights ago…

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls | RaisingArrows.net

I set out to make the Trim Healthy Mama Stuffed Cabbage Rolls from the book, but realized too late they were supposed to be in the crock pot for 7-9 hours!  (Please tell me I’m not the only one who does stuff like this!)  So, I went with an unstuffed version from a recipe online.  Of course, there’s no way an online recipe is going to contain the right amounts for our family (unless of course, it’s from my own stash of Large Family Recipes), so I set out to tweak it.

The first thing I noticed was that it had 1.5 – 2 pounds of meat listed to serve 5-6 people; however, the cabbage was supposed to be a small head with the addition of only one small can of tomato sauce.  That’s where I grabbed my bulk.  The cabbage I used was large, and I used 2 cans of sauce, but could have used more if I wanted a soupier mixture (which works really well when putting it over something like rice or noodles!).  I could have added other veggies too like zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant or peppers.

Because this was going to be a THM-friendly dish, I had my son cook a large pot of rice as a side for the children.  If you aren’t watching your carb intake, then cook the rice and add it right into the dish itself.  You could even turn this into a soup by adding more tomato sauce and some water or broth.

And that was our meal.  Everyone tanked up and there was only a tiny bit of leftovers that Baby Creed will eat for lunch tomorrow.

Here’s my large family (with only 2# of ground beef) version of Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls:

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe (stove top using a 15" skillet) | RaisingArrows.net

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, diced
2 cans diced tomatoes (or fresh)
2 cans (8 oz each) tomato sauce
1 cabbage, coarsely chopped
seasonings to taste

In a large skillet, brown ground beef with onion and season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic, or other favorite seasonings.  Add in the diced tomatoes and the tomato sauce and mix.  Next, add the chopped cabbage and rest a lid on top of the pile of cabbage to encourage it to steam and cook down.  (I promise, it WILL cook down and fit in your 15″ skillet.  If you don’t have a large skillet, transfer the meat to a large pot before adding the cabbage.)  Once the cabbage cooks down a bit, stir to mix the meat and sauce in with the cabbage.  Continue to cook down until cabbage is tender.

Now, it’s your turn!  How do you stretch your meat?  What sorts of things do you add for bulk and calories?  And don’t forget to mention how many you are feeding!