Saturday, July 28, 2012

Giveaway Winner!!

Alright, sorry this is a little later than anticipated, but the winner of a new handmade chrisalis scarf is BLUE STRONG!!!! So, congratulations! Look for an email within the next 48 hours for more information :)

Sorry I didn't have more to give away today, but keep an eye out for the next giveaway!! It will be something a little different! Have a great weekend! I know I will, my darling husband will finally be home tonight!!

Mushroom and Barley Risotto

OKAY!!! The Winner of the giveaway will close a little later today, so keep your eyes peeled for the results!!

I have yet another mushroom recipe. I hope you guys like mushrooms, I know they are a highly debated fungi :) Not always so popular, but I love them, and they are a great way to fill foods for vegetarians because they don't have many calories or fats or anything. Anyway, this recipe turned out really well! It's quite yummy if I may say so myself. I'm pairing it with some panko fried tofu, but really any protein or protein substitute would work well! Check out the original recipe at Brown Eyed Baker.

2 Tbl olive oil
1 white onion
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbl parsley
1 Tbl Thyme
1 cup barley
6 cups vegetable broth
1 Tbl butter
goat cheese to top
salt and pepper to taste

Place saucepan over medium heat with olive oil. Slice onion and saute for approximately five minutes. Then add the mushrooms and let them cook until their juices are released. This takes about ten minutes. If the mushrooms stick, add a little water. I didn't have that problem, but it might depend on your cookware. Once the mushrooms are done, add the crushed garlic and herbs. Stir thoroughly and then add the barley and continue stirring. Add four cups of the broth and turn heat to high. Bring to a boil and continue boiling until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Then reduce heat to medium and add the remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time letting it absorb. One it is finished, add the butter and the cheese! Season with salt and pepper if desired.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Mushroom and Leek Pizza

Today I tried another experiment with things I love, but Josh doesn't particularly enjoy. So, I made a creative Kara pizza! It turned out really yummy!

1 pizza crust
2 Tbl olvie oil
2 cloves garlic
1 leek
1 container mushrooms
1 Tbl pesto
2 oz goat cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
3 fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I used a premade pizza crust for my pizza, so it was pretty easy and quick to make. Cut mushrooms and leeks to desired pizza size. Chop garlic. Place a medium sized skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. Saute the leeks and garlic for approximately five minutes and then add mushrooms. While they are sauteing, spread pesto over the pizza crust. Then cut goat cheese into pieces and sprinkle on crust. Chop basil. When the mushrooms begin to become darker in color and appear juicier, add to the top of the pizza. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top, then the basil. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until cheese is nicely melted. Remove from oven, cool, then cut and serve!

Mandy‘s Recipe Box

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Homemade Fluffy Pretzels

Ok, when I found this recipe, I was sooo excited!! I love giant pretzels. There is something about them that is just so tasty! I especially like them with mustard, so when a friend of ours brought us some spicy mustard from their vacation, I knew it was time to finally try it! Josh doesn't like mustard, since he is gone I thought this would be a good time to try them. Plus, if they didn't turn out he'd never have to know about my mishap :)

Before we get to the goods...don't forget! We have a giveaway from Kara's Knits going on, and it ends on Saturday!! So get check out my first ever giveaway here!!!

Alright, here's some carb goodness! Makes 4 pretzels! Original recipe was for eight. You can find it at Fifteen Spatulas.

1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/8 tsp instant yeast (half of a packet)
1/2 cup warm water

1/4 cup warm water
1/2 Tbl baking soda
salt for sprinkling pretzels
cooking spray for baking sheet
butter for spreading

Mix together all of the dough ingredients (the first list) in a large bowl with a spoon. Then knead the dough for approximately two minutes by hand. You can use a stand mixer, but mine is packed away until we move into a house :( Anyway, the dough should be soft, but not sticky. Sprinkle it with flour lightly and place in a bag to rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Remove dough from bag and place on baking mat. Cut into four pieces and let rest for five minutes. While waiting, make the baking soda wash. Mix together the warm water and baking soda and mix until mostly dissolved.

Roll each piece of dough into long ropes and shape into a pretzel! If you need help with that, I didn't take step by step pictures because I had to hurry a bit (had to go to work) but the original post does a great job showing how to do it, so check that out for help!

Once you have your pretzels, dip them into the baking soda mixture and place on your sprayed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and bake for approximately 8-9 minutes. Keep an eye on them though because ovens can vary. When nice and brown, remove from oven and spread butter on top while they are still hot. YUM!

I enjoyed mine with the mustard, but they were amazing by themselves too!

Mandy‘s Recipe Box   

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Meal Plan 12

Hello! Ok, so this week is weird yet again! I am sorry for the inconsistency, but that is what life gives us, isn't it? This week is a little odd because I am only shopping for myself :( My wonderful husband is away being an amazing youth pastor in South Dakota on a missions trip. I am sooo proud of him and so happy that he is all mine, but I am sad to be cooking for myself all week.

Meal Plan 7/23-7/29
                Breakfast: PB/chocolate Greek yogurt
                Lunch: sandwich, dried fruit, and sweet potato chips
                Dinner: rice with black beans, cilantro, lime & veggie taco, dried fruit

                Breakfast: yogurt blueberry bread
                Lunch: spinach, avocado, goat cheese grilled cheese
                Dinner:  Soft Pretzels with mustard and dried fruit
                Breakfast: yogurt blueberry bread
                Lunch: mushroom, barley risotto and “chicken”
                Dinner:  leftover pretzels and fruit

                Breakfast: blueberry bread
                Lunch: mushroom and leek pizza
                Dinner:  mushroom/barley risotto
                Breakfast: blueberry bread
                Lunch: Panko Crusted Tofu
                Dinner:  mushroom and leek pizza
                Breakfast: bread or cereal
                Lunch: mushroom pizza
                Dinner: whatever Josh wants :) and cheesecake (his favorite)
                Breakfast: cereal
                Lunch: leftovers
                Dinner:  youth frozen pizza probably

Groceries: avocado (.89), goat cheese (3.99), mushrooms (2 packages) (1.29), garlic cloves (.89), coconut oil (5.98), veggie crumble (3.99), pizza crust (2 pack) (2.99), 3 leeks (2.48), mozzarella cheese (2.99), apple cider vinegar (1.99), strawberries (1.29), cheesecake mix (2.49), gelatin (1.25), whipped topping (.89), ice cream (2.69)

 Grand Total: 37.68

Monday, July 23, 2012

Peanut Butter Graham Cracker Treats

DONT FORGET!!! My giveaway is going on this week....check it out here :) Now, on to the goods!

My husband is gone this week on a missions trip. I am super excited for him and the youth group because I am sure it will be a great trip, but super sad that I am unable to go. The good part is that I cannot go because I got a job, the sad part is that I will be away from my amazing husband for the first time since we got married. I am missing him dearly already. To quell my longing heart, I decided to make something tasty for myself. I know that Josh is not thrilled by peanut butter like I am, so I'm taking advantage by making peanut butter graham cracker balls!! They are similar to buckeyes in a lot of ways, but also different :) Check it out!

1 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cup crushed graham cracker
3 oz of chocolate bark
Topping of your choosing (I used crushed oreo and different types of sprinkles)

Mix together the peanut butter and crushed graham cracker until fairly dry. Roll into balls and place on a wax paper lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate and dip the chilled treats into the chocolate with a fork. Add any toppings! Chill and eat when completely dry! YUMMY!

I am keeping mine in the freezer so that I can just grab one from time to time when I want, but they won't go bad since I will be eating them by myself for the next few weeks until they are finally gone!

The original recipe can be found at Baby Gizmo.

Mandy‘s Recipe Box 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My First Ever Giveaway!!!

Alright, it's FINALLY time! It's my 100th post and I am ready to do a giveaway :) It's not huge, but it's pretty and fun! Plus, it would make a great gift. it is!

A beautiful chrisalis scarf!! These are really great for all seasons, they are nice and light for spring/summer evenings, but also a great covering in the fall and winter! They are fun and different, and I love making them! So, this first giveaway is from my shop Kara's Knits :) How to enter you ask. Well, there are a few ways.


1) Like Kara's Knits! (1 entry)
2) Repin your favorite post from Midwestern Wife (1 entry)
3) Follow me on Pinterest! (1 entry)

Now, once you do any of those things, comment back here that you did them! It's as simple as pie! I will be keeping this entry open for ONE WEEK! So, check back here next week to see who the winner is. Also, don't forget to put your email address somewhere so that I can contact you if you're the winner :) Don't forget to tell your friends!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Autumn Wreath

Ok, so a few things today :)

First of all...tomorrow is my FIRST EVER GIVEAWAY!!!!! Make sure to stop by tomorrow morning to find out how you can enter and win my first giveaway!!!!

Second, I finally started a full time job this week! I've worked twice which has been nice, but it also means I may have less time for blogging. I'm one of those people who likes to plan ahead, so hopefully I can stay pretty regular with posts by getting prepared on my days off. I am terribly sorry if I start slacking, but as you might have seen in an earlier post, I don't make money from this blog, and while I do really enjoy having it, I also have to help my family pay the bills. I'm sure you can relate.

Alright, with that being said, today I am sharing something sort of random. It doesn't really fit with the season, BUT I've been on a big wreath kick on Pinterest. You can check out my wreath board and leave me suggestions or links to other awesome wreaths, or wreaths you've done :) Anyway, the only wreath I've ever made was a nice fall one, so I am excited to get started making some inspired wreaths from Pinterest. It is surprisingly easy to make a wreath, so that is at least happy! Check it out!

So, you just need a wreath from the store. I'm not exactly sure what this kind is called, but it looks like it's made with twigs basically. The other items I got were dried flowers, raffia, and some decorative items from the fake flower section of Michaels.

I arranged the flowers and accent items in a way that I found appealing and then tied them all together in a nice loose arrangement. Then I glued that arrangement to the wreath itself. I then use the raffia to make a nice little bow which looks way nicer than string, and tied that around both the wreath base and the flowers.My last step was to glue the three flower heads onto the bow for a nice final touch.

I know we don't all have the same tastes, but I hope this can at least inspire you to get creative on a wreath for fall. It will be coming up before we know it! It's already almost time for school to start, so get a jump start on your fall decorating so you will be prepared when it actually gets here!!

Have a great day!

I Heart Nap Time

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Meal Plan #11

This week is a little different for grocery shopping. You may notice quite a few blank spaces on our meal plan this week. We have decided to fast for part of this week. This is not something we want to shout out to the world, but for one, I needed to explain why we had no food plans for a few days and two, I thought it would be an interesting topic to just discuss briefly. We have chosen to fast this week to focus on prayer. We want to pray for the house we are looking for, and for other more general things in our lives. Since I don't know any of you personally, I figured I could discuss this a little bit. I won't be telling anyone we know, we want it to be a personal thing for us. Anyway, if you've never fasted before, it is a great way to grow close with God. If you are like me, you spend a lot of time making meal plans, cooking, cleaning up dishes, etc. Without all of that you have hours extra for prayer and meditation. Let me know if you have any questions :)

Meal Plan 7/16-7/22
                Breakfast: cereal
                Lunch: out with friends
                Dinner: leftovers
Dessert: None

                Breakfast: cereal
                Lunch: hummus, veggies, fruit
                Dinner:  sloppy lentils

                Lunch: sandwiches
                Breakfast: cereal
                Lunch: leftovers
                Dinner:  youth group, something quick and easy! Aka frozen pizza or sandwiches

Groceries: peanut butter (2.29), shredded cheddar cheese (2.79), bread (.99), greek yogurt (3.29), eggs (1.29), fruit (2.98),  brown sugar (1.49), chocolate milk (3.38), orange juice (1.29), V8 (2.49), cocoa powder (3.99), frozen pizza (1.98), sliced cheddar (1.99), olive oil spray (1.79), balsamic dressing (1.29), ranch dressing (1.29), BBQ sauce (1.99), cranberry juice (1.79), applesauce (1.29), salsa (1.69), instant pudding (.55), tortillas (.99), sweet potato chips (1.99), tortilla chips (1.19), BBQ chips (1.49)

Grand Total: 47.69

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July Date

It's date time again! Saturday was our official date day and boy, was it beautiful out! We were originally going to go on Friday since Josh took that as his day off during the week (he gets Saturday and one other day off since he is a pastor all day Sunday) but while I was running I got really sick. My vision started to get blurry and dark like I might pass out so I stopped running and walked thinking it would pass, but it just kept happening. So, I got freaked out and went home to relax. My vision finally cleared up, but by then I had a terrible headache and stomachache and ended up sleeping and watching movies with him all day instead. It worked out though! It ended up thunderstorming, so our date wouldn't have worked anyway.

The reason it would not have worked is because this month's date was a picnic! I planned July and chose for us to do a picnic in a fun place (a new park we'd never been to here), play card games, and make a together list! Check out how it turned out :)

All of the goods for the trip!

Our together list paper, card games (5 Crowns and Phase 10), and the books we are currently reading!

Lots of food...weren't sure how long we'd be gone. Cream cheese/jelly tortilla, yogurt, veggies/hummus, chips/salsa, fruit leather, snack bars, and oreos...we definitely didn't eat all this haha

Our lake view. We were on a little cliff, very fun!

We picked a nice shady spot since it was 90 out :)

To see the rest of our dates for the year, and to see how this whole thing started, check out my post on our wedding gift to one another!

Monday, July 16, 2012

How I Saved Money working at a Pet Store with a $700/mo loan payment

Ok, I know this title is obnoxious, but I wanted it to grab your attention. When I graduated high school I went to undergrad at Purdue University and received lots of academic scholarships which helped with all my tuition, books, and school fees and I worked and used part of my savings to pay for living. When I graduated with my BA I continued on to graduate school for my PhD, knowing there was no way I'd keep from accruing loans, especially at a private grad school. I hated the idea of having debt, but really wanted to pursue my education. So, I only took out loans for my tuition. I used my savings and worked (which was stressful, but sooo worth it) to pay for my living. Now, that meant I had to live quite frugally to stay within my means, but I wasn't as stressed because I knew I didn't have too much of an option. Then I decided to graduate early with my MA. The program wasn't a great fit for me, I wanted my life to go in other directions, and lots of other random reasons. Either way, I left with much less debt than I would have with five years of school instead of two, but more debt than I ever wanted.

When I got home, I began the process of looking for a job. I lived pretty close to Chicago and began there and the surrounding suburbs, but couldn't find anything in my field. So, I finally began to look for any job I could find, knowing my loan payments were coming up quick. I applied everywhere I could in my hometown, but either didn't get called back or was told I was over qualified. Finally, I got hired. It was not my ideal job, nor was it what I imagined I'd be doing with a BA in Behavioral Neuroscience and an MA in Forensic Psychology. I would be working at a local pet store for minimum wage. I realized that it really didn't matter, God had put me there for a reason, and I needed to be thankful for any income at all. It stretched and grew me quite a bit, I knew that with a loan payment of $700 and only making about $900 a month I'd really be pushing it. Luckily, God blessed me with a free place to live during this time which meant that all I needed to pay for was groceries, gas, and my electric. I decided I didn't need anything extra and THIS is how I did that...

1) NO cable or internet, it's annoying, but libraries have internet for free and you can get movies/TV shows for free there. I saved almost $100 a month by cutting those expenses out of my life.
2) My grocery budget was $12 a week when I first started working (I got a raise after 3 months and I moved my budget up to $15 a week) I only shopped at Aldi. I was a little worried because I liked to eat healthy, but had an advantage because as one person I was able to make food go far. I used soy milk instead of milk since it didn't spoil nearly as fast (more expensive for a family who goes through milk quickly),  I planned my meals so nothing go wasted. I bought weekly to make sure I could get fresh things on sale. It worked somehow, and it helped me stay healthy. I was very careful about portion control so that I wasn't eating a lot of food, but still getting enough calories. I didn't snack when I wasn't hungry because I rarely had extra money for snacks. So, all in all it was good in a lot of senses.
3) "Fun Money" was something I pretended didn't exist. I made sure that when I hung out with friends we did free things, I suggested we take walks, play with our pets, do crafts that we had at home, or go to parks, free events and that sort of thing. It worked well, no one really wants to spend money they don't have to, and who wants to get coffee and lunch with everyone they know every time they want to hang out. Doing free things causes you to get out and get creative, everyone appreciates doing something different :)
4) Reuse things! One of the biggest ways I have saved money is reusing sandwich baggies. I know it may sound silly, but in all seriousness, there is no reason not to. Admittedly, a lot of baggies get destroyed depending on their content, but baggies that hold things like chips, pretzels, crackers, or veggies can definitely be reused. I always took some sort of grain with me in my lunch and used the same baggie for that, and I had a veggie baggie, and a sandwich one. I hardly ever buy baggies. I wash them and use them until they seem too old or get ripped or something along those lines. I also reuse plastic bags (like wal-mart/target), foil (sometimes), gift bags, jars, and containers with lids. Keeps from buying all these items which can add up quickly.
5) Save on electricity!!! Easy to do...hang your laundry to dry, use natural light (no lamps/lights during daylight), and unplug EVERYTHING when you aren't using it. When I say everything, I mean it! Since I didn't have cable, I unplugged the TV and DVD player most of the time, only plugged in phone charger when using it, along with toaster, blender, and all other kitchen appliances. If you live in a house with rooms you don't use (we have a second bedroom that's mostly storage right now) unplug everything in there...lamps, clocks, everything. We only plug it in when people visit and stay in that bed. Keep the thermostat temperate. I only turn on the AC when I am like seriously uncomfortable, otherwise I embrace it. Same with the heat, I layer up like crazy, use blankets and open the oven door after I bake to let warmth out. Then when all else fails, use the heat. I also keep all blinds open in the winter to let as much sun in as possible and keep a lot of blinds closed in the summer to keep out the heat when I'm not home or when it's excruciating out (I'm thinking the past week's heat wave).
6) Do things to make extra money for fun. When all else fails, try to find money in surprising places. This time period is when I did a garage sale, sold extra furniture on Craigslist, began my knitting sales, and began survey taking. It may seem like something little, but when you spend less than $50 a month on food, a little bit of money seems like A LOT! I was able to sell a few hundred dollars of knit goods during that time and in less than a year I've made $100 from surveys. I like Synovate, but haven't tried anywhere else. That is like an extra month worth of funds without going to work! Just some suggestions :) I also use swagbucks which doesn't make much money, but without trying I've made about $25 in gift cards so far and I signed up in October. Not as much as the surveys, but I also don't spend time using it. I just use it to search instead of google and if I remember I do the daily poll which takes a total of 5 seconds of my day. This program is great because you can get gift cards which come in handy to buy anything off amazon OR to have some fun money to go to coffee or lunch with friends :)
7)Free Samples. Enough said. I LOVE free samples. They are so easy to get and can help you save a lot of money. I know it sounds silly, but it doesn't take long to sign up and it really can help. I can't even remember the last time I bought shampoo or conditioner because I get so many samples for it. I also get a lot of lotion samples and food. I know it sounds silly, but when you are almost out of cereal a free box of cereal or a free meal bar in the mail is the best!
8) If you tithe, don't stop. I know it is really stressful to pay out money you feel like you don't have, but God blesses your obedience and I think it is well worth it for that alone.

After years of living frugally I am married and we are now able to buy a home, looking into purchasing a new to us car, and paying off my loan quickly. With that being said, it takes time to save up and be frugal and to yield results, but now we are in a great place. We still live frugally, and keep a tight budget for ourselves, but it is so nice to see what God has done with our obedience with his things.

Hope this can help. Let me know what you do to save money!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sweet Chili Lime Tofu

If you haven't eaten tofu, or even ever tried it...for shame! :) Especially if you are a vegetarian. Just kidding, but seriously it is worth a try. It doesn't actually taste like much, but if you can make a yummy sauce for it, it's tasty!

This is a block of tofu...pretty boring and gross...scroll down for the goodness :)

Dry saute the tofu

Add yummy sauce

Cook until sauce thickens


1/2 block of tofu, firm or extra firm
3 Tbl soy sauce
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 Tbl sugar
1 Tbl lime juice

Cut tofu into preferred shape (I like triangles) and place into skillet over high heat. As you saute, press down firmly on tofu with spatula to let natural juices release. While it is cooking, mix together the soy sauce, sugar, red pepper flakes, lime juice, and garlic thoroughly. Pour mixture into the skillet and cook until sauce thickens. Then serve! We served this with tortilla chips and a fruit salad!

Everyday Mom's Meals  


Saturday, July 14, 2012


Good News!! I finally have a button!!! I had made the actual picture, but now you can grab it if need be :) So glad I finally figured it out. Also, made it easier to subscribe to my blog, so make sure you do that if you stop by regularly, or want to start! Thanks so much for all the support and patience as I update my page and attempt to make it better for my viewers. Let me know if you have any suggestions!


Oh, and don't forget, the giveaway will be coming soon! I changed what the first giveaway will be, so what i was advertising before will now be the second one :) We are working on some different things with the original one, but I just can't wait, so I thought I'd do a different one too so I can do it sooner! Keep an eye out!

"Royal Red" Burger

My husband and I enjoy Red Robin from time to time. It's a really yummy burger place. Plus, they substitute all sandwiches with a boca patty AND unlimited still my heart! Anyway, my husband happens to enjoy this burger I find very odd called the "Royal Red" its a burger with a fried egg on it. It couldn't sound less appealing to me, BUT he loves it, and I've heard good things from others who have tried it, so I attempted my own version of such a thing. Check it out...

1/4 cup ground turkey (shh..don't tell my husband it's not beef)
1 egg
1 slice cheese (your choice)
1 bun (or 2 slices of bread if you're us)
any other burger toppings you fancy

Shape ground turkey into a patty shape and using a glass, punch out the middle of the patty and add to the edges of the burger. Place onto skillet and begin to brown. Crack egg into the middle of the burger and cook until cooked all the way through. Place on bun, add condiments and enjoy!

Finished burgers! Husband loooved them :)

Also, I'd just like to say that I am a big advocate of making things the way you like them! Get crazy and add other weird toppings, this blog is just a way to get our family favorites out there so that you can be inspired to create your own version, and hopefully, it's a hit for you too!!

Chef In Training