Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Breakfast Skillet

Here is a recipe I have been making at home for quite sometime now and finally remembered to take pictures as I was cooking it. This is also the first time I have wrote one of my own recipes down! Yay! Go me!! Anywho, here it is.... The Breakfast Skillet! (Any suggestions for names would be appreciated). This meal is great because its not too expensive to make and it is super filling! Plus I don't have to make toast with it because of the potatoes. The basics of this recipe I learned while I worked at the Forest History Center in Grand Rapids, MN. (Which should be opening again soon now that the MN Government is open again!!)

Part of my job there was to dress as a cook and of course... work in the cook shack. As part of making guests feel more like they were "actually" back in time I had to cook potatoes, onions and salt pork daily. The smell was awesome! I had to expand on it though as eggs, milk and butter were never brought to a logging camp. 

We also like eating this when camping. Its super easy to make over a fire, is excellent hangover medicine, and the wood smell adds to the taste. 

Sara's Breakfast Skillet 
(Or whatever witty name my followers come up with)
  • 5-7 Medium Potatoes peeled & sliced
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Onions
  • 1/4 C Butter or Margarine
  • 1/2 Pound Bacon (Your favorite flavor will work), chopped. 
  • 1/8 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 3-4 Slices of cheese
  • 5-6 Eggs
  • 3 Tbsp Milk
  • Pepper

In large skillet:
On medium heat, add half the butter and all the potatoes. Fry 1-2 minutes until butter has melted. 
Add Onions and the rest of the butter. Stir. 
Add sliced up bacon to skillet. I usually just take a pair of scissors and cut it over the pan. 
Add small amount of pepper. 
Cover and cook, stirring occasionally to ensure potatoes don't get stuck to the pan. 
Continue to cook until potato are soft and bacon is done. 
Drain entire mixture in strainer to get most of the grease off. Put back in skillet and continue to cook on Warm/Low. 
Potatoes, Onions, Cut Bacon 

In second (small) skillet: (Scrambled Eggs)
On medium heat, combine eggs, milk, and pepper (to taste). Cook until almost firm.

Add Scrambled Eggs to Potato Mixture and stir until combined. Mix in Brown Sugar. Layer cheese over entire mixture. Cover and let warm until cheese is melted. Enjoy!

Possible Variations:

  • Try Ham, Sausage or all three instead of just bacon!
  • Add salsa, chives, or purple onions for more color. 
  • Milk can be removed for those who cannot have it, the eggs just won't be as fluffy. 
  • Red potatoes can be used with their skins still on. 
  • Use any type of cheese you like (or none at all)! This time we used a mix of provolone and mozzarella. The best in my opinion is regular American sliced cheese. 
  • You don't have to use the brown sugar, I just like the sweetness it adds to the potatoes and bacon. 

Goes great with Orange Juice!
Overall Cost: $6.00. Meal Serves: 4 ($1.50 per serving!)

***Check back soon for new posts!!! Thanks for stopping by! ***

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Stuffed Pork Chops

Its been a couple weeks since I actually made this recipe but I still wanted to share it. I did alter the ingredients slightly so I will post the original recipe and my changes in parenthesis. These turned out excellent! 


4 double thick pork chops
2 tbsp. drippings or fat (2 Tbsp. Butter)
1 med. onion, chopped
1 c. chopped mushrooms (1 small can sliced mushrooms)
1 c. bread cubes or coarse crumbs (I used Pepper-ridge Farms)
1 tbsp. chopped parsley 
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. sour cream  (1 cup- Philadelphia Cooking Creme- Original)
1/4 c. water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut pocket in chops. Saute onion in drippings (butter). Add mushrooms and onions, cook about 2 minutes. Add other ingredients. Add enough sour cream (cooking creme) to moisten mixture. Stuff chops, close with toothpicks. Arrange chops in baking dish.
Add any extra stuffing on top and around chops.
Cover for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for another 30 minutes.

Don't be afraid to over stuff them, you will probably have extra stuffing. We also had mashed potatoes and corn with them and were "stuffed" as well! I apologize that I do not have a picture to go with this one. I cooked the chops until they were no longer pink and the stuffing was golden on the edges (it was closer to 40 minutes after uncovering). The cooking creme added a cheese flavor that went well with the sauteed mushrooms and onions. 

Overall cost for the meal: $13.50  (4 servings and side dishes).

I would recommend this recipe, but save it for a cool day... not only will your kitchen be pretty warm, you are going to want a nap after this one! 

Kind of like this.... 

Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to comment as well. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Build on a Budget

Home improvement or remodeling as we all know can be a major investment. Building from scratch or renovations to an existing home usually comes with a hefty price tag. My family and I are currently attempting to work through issues such as this and hopefully this entry will also give you and your project a couple of money saving ideas. 

Since the beginning of this year, our family has been diligently working on renovating a house out at the family farm. although its been a lot of work and still even more to come, we are very much looking forward to moving out here. We will be out of town! Finally able to get away from annoying neighbors and pesky juveniles, lame city ordinances (did you know its unlawful to have grass on the street in front of your house after you mow???), and traffic speeding by while kids are at play. We look forward to quiet starry nights on the prairie, privacy from the general public, and I don't have to worry about the kids getting hit by a car. 

The house we are fixing up is in pretty good shape although it needs a lot done. I have never been a homeowner, nor have I ever had to be responsible for my own upkeep (the bonus of renting), this experience has taught me the massive amount of care needed.... and trips to the hardware store. Our main repairs we are doing are basics that will allow us to live in the home comfortably and safely they include: 

  • Clean out the home- it was being used as storage for the family. We are working on removing and sorting the items. 
  • Fix water main and heating element- this we found after putting the water in our name. 
  • Clean entire home top to bottom- obviously.
  • Remove cabinets/counters/ appliances from kitchen- the ones in there now are made out of panelling.... I think the manufacturer would have used card board but people may have complained. 
  • Replace sub-floor and floors- we have torn up carpet/linoleum already.  
  • Replace kitchen amenities- so we can eat.
  • Paint- I am super excited for this, I get to paint any color in any room and no manager can tell me no!! (Well Cully can say no, but he would have a good reason to do so).
Then we can move in..... which I have our goal as the end of August... so its going to be a busy summer!

As you can see we have plenty to do and because of that we have a huge materials list. Most of the expense is going to be the floor and kitchen, but I think I may have come up with alternatives to an expensive kitchen set and that is why I am writing on this subject. I want to share the resources I use to save us money.... because like most of us we don't have much extra to throw away on solid mahogany cupboards or granite counter tops. 

Here are a few tips I use to find affordable building products:

This is a great site for buying anything small. I emphasize the word "small".  Ebay is where you go to find bulk boxes of drywall screws or lighting fixtures. Prices can be pretty affordable, but buyers need to watch shipping costs. Obviously the heavier the item, more cost for shipping... Ebay would not be the place to purchase lumber. Also keep an eye out for sellers listing something for extremely cheap, only to hit you with a insane shipping cost. (I once saw a swing set for a dollar... with a 399.99 shipping rate) Auctions like this are illegal and should be reported. On the other hand, many sellers now offer free shipping. 

Not everyone on Craigslist is a killer, I would like to start by saying. However, it is important to play it safe when using this site. Basically, find your state/city/suburb on the list and browse what people are getting rid of. There are items for sale and to give away it all depends on the day. You can also post for items you may need. Here is a sample of what I have posted in the "free" and "materials" sections:

Renovating a modular home outside of town and we are on a tight budget.
We are looking for some used lower cabinets with or without counter tops. We are not picky on materials, color, design... we just need cabinets :) Current ones are 24" deep, we have a space of about 12 feet in length. 
We have very little to spend, so the ideal find would be use-able items from someone who recently upgraded their kitchen/floors and would otherwise be throwing items away. Please contact me with specifics, we would be able to pick-up/haul. 

A few clicks, some post moderation, email confirmations and you are set! Just wait for people to respond. As I mentioned, very few people on Craigslist are killers/kidnappers, but you still need to use common sense. If someone is posting a "1994 Olds Sierra" to "give away" its most likely a scam. Ads like this will ask you to email them (like every other ad on the site), but when they respond it asks you to click a link and watch an advertisement/video.... DO NOT CLICK ANY LINK SENT TO YOU IN AN EMAIL!!!! I cannot stress this enough!!! Links like this can be harmful to your computer and your personal identity. If the seller cannot send you information and pictures within the email.... its most likely a scam.

Craigslist is a touch and go source for items, but the more you get the word out the better chance you have of locating stuff you can use for more than half the cost. 

This is one of my favorite places to look for building materials. The ReStore specializes in home improvement items and relies purely on donations. Also, the proceeds they raise from selling the donated products is put towards construction of new Habitat for Humanity homes in the area. Most items are new at a huge discount. Items will vary by location of course because they are based off donations. For example, the store in Sioux Falls, SD usually has a a large surplus of paint and carpet remnants, but they also carry cupboards, vanities, doors, windows, etc. 
Sioux Falls ReStore

First step for anyone interested is to check out their local store. Some locations (like Sioux Falls) have email newsletters you can sign up for. Every other week I get an email showing a new or on sale product. This option is really nice as Sioux Falls is about 90 minutes away. If I see something that peaks my interest I just email the store, ask what the cost is and see if it is worth the trip. Normally, by checking here you can save at least 40% off retail prices. 

This is my favorite way to find things I may need. Freecycle is a group sponsored by Yahoo. Every item listed is completely free. Basically its an online garage sale, where everything is free! Their mission statement:

"Our mission is to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community."
The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,958 groups with 8,524,583 members around the world. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers (them's good people). Membership is free (From 

Upon your first visit you will want to find a group that is near you and join it. You may need a yahoo user name, but I am able to login with Facebook so there is a good chance that should work as well. Sign up for the group closest to your home, that way you aren't driving across states to pick up stuff. Occasionally there will not be a group near you, just pick the closest and any time you post mention your location. 

Depending on how populated your area is will depend on the amount of posts. Watertown is pretty active, but I notice a lot of the same people are posting. I use free cycle for pretty much anything I need and don't want to pay for. I also post bulk items I have (like baby food jars) that I just cannot bring myself to throw away. As an example, my last post went something like:

WANTED: Cardboard Boxes
Looking for some small to medium cardboard boxes in Watertown area. It would be great if they were broken down, but I can do that as well. I also can pick up or meet somewhere.

It is really that simple. Make sure you list if you are "Giving away" or "Wanted/Needed" so people know by the post title what your intention is. Also, if you have posted something, keep it updated. Giveaways should always be changed to "Taken" or "Picked up". If you want something, its always an added bonus to be willing to pick it up. People will contact you through the Freecycle post which will be delivered to your personal email. 

I hope this has been a useful guide, in my experiences all of these outlets have been helpful. Hopefully they will be an asset to you as well!


Looking Ahead:
With the holiday weekend I didn't get as many post done as I would have liked to. I am hoping to get more done this week. 

Recipe Review- (Pulled Beef Sandwiches) & (Stuffed Pork Chops)
Dollar Store Shopping
July Freebies 
Entertaining Small Children
Multitasking at Home

Become a follower and check back often for new posts!!