Cheesy Hamburger Potato Casserole


  • lb ground venison or 2 lb beef
  • cups potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • cup milk
  • cups cheddar jack shredded cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp minced Garlic
  • Preheat oven to 350.  Brown meat in skillet with garlic.  Drain.  Mix soup, milk, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Spray 9×13 pan with cooking spray.  Make a layer of sliced potatoes on the bottom.  Add the meat as the next layer.  Sprinkle 1 cup of the cheese over this.  Top with remaining potatoes.  Pour soup mix over pan, trying to cover the whole top.  Sprinkle remaining cheese over it.  Cover with foil, dull side down.  Bake for 1 hour.  Remove foil and bake another 20 minutes.  

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    What a Lifesaver

    So, the other day my son was driving and ‘accidentally’ shifted his car into park before it stopped, spilling my coffee right into my purse and on my phone.  I freaked a little, knowing my phone may be a goner.  Tried the phone.  Yep, speaker was shot.

    Now, I have U.S. Cellular as my carrier and have had them for years.  I’d switched to one of their premium plans a couple years ago, knowing with two teens it would be beneficial to have phone replacement included in my plan.  Boy, was I glad I did.  It was 7:30 PM and the store here closes at 8 PM.  I flew over and the rep who helped me switched my phone out in 10 minutes!  RECORD TIME PEOPLE!  No cost to me because it’s included in my plan and I didn’t have to wait for a phone to be shipped to me from insurance replacement.

    Just another reason I love being a U.S. Cellular customer and now a part of the USCC Customer Crew!

    And it’s attempt number……..

    I have no clue what attempt it is.  I do know this.  I’m done.  I’m over it.  I have the willpower to beat this addiction.

    What addiction?  Well, nicotine, of course.  I’ve been a smoker since I was 13.  I’ve quit many times.  Sometimes for a day.  Sometimes for a week.  I made it three weeks, once.  But, something was missing in my efforts.  I know what it is now.  It’s the genuine desire to beat this and move on.  I have that desire now.

    I know what it costs me to smoke.  I’ve known for some time.  And, yes, I know it goes up almost every year.  Would you like to know what I spend?  Here’s the breakdown:

    1 pack of Camel Blue  $4.79
    Tax on that pack         $0.34
    Total                           $5.13

    Take that times 7 –      $35.91
    Times 52                $1867.32

    $1867.32 per year.  Yeah, that’s a vacation.  That’s my Mac.  That’s a lot of things.  But, what non-smokers don’t understand is it’s not enough to just know what you’re spending.  You have to be ready.  You have to want to quit and you have to NOT give in to the cravings and return to the addiction.

    I’m done.  I need to be.  I want to be.  And I’ve got the ability to do it.  I have my plans for when I crave.  I have my stress relievers when things start to get to me.  I have my ‘time out’ place to relax.  I have my exercise plan.


    Food Stamp Challenge

    I watch The Chew.  I love the show and all of the recipes they share.  I especially love the personalities on the show.

    Mario Batali caught my attention more than the others the other day, when he shared that he was doing the Food Stamp Challenge.  Listening to a skilled and well known chef talk about his family trying to stick to a strict budget when he’s used to higher priced meats and produce.  No more lattes, beer, soda, wine.

    I know I brought this up briefly in another post, but this one is my ‘I’m Accepting the Challenge’ post.

    My family will be participating in the Challenge from June 3rd through June 9th.  Perhaps longer, just so my kids get the idea that we have it pretty darn good.

    Update:  I needed to change the dates due to my daughter’s illness.  We’ll be doing the Challenge from June 23rd through June 29th.

    Here’s some details.

    The SNAP Challenge gives participants a view of the struggle to obtain adequate food that is faced by millions of low-income Americans. By living on the average food stamp benefit, Challenge participants find themselves forced to make food shopping choices on a limited budget, and learn how difficult it is to avoid hunger, afford nutritious foods, and stay healthy without adequate resources.
    While living on a food stamp budget for just a week cannot come close to the struggles encountered by lowincome families week after week and month after month, it does provide those who take the Challenge with a new perspective and greater understanding.  (taken from here)

    The guidelines my family will be using are as follows:

    1. Each person should spend a set amount for food and beverages during the Challenge week. That amount
    is $29.47 for all food and beverage. I got this amount from here. (Iowa average monthly benefit per person = $126.33/30= 4.21 x 7 = 29.477)
    2. All food purchased and eaten during the Challenge week, including fast food and dining out, must be
    included in the total spending.
    3. During the Challenge, only eat food that you purchase for the project. Do not eat food that you already
    own (this does not include spices and condiments).
    4. Avoid accepting free food from friends, family, or at work, including at receptions, briefings, or other
    events where food is served.
    5. Keep track of receipts on food spending and take note of your experiences throughout the week.

    Join me.  Comment below with your name, state and amount for 7 days.  Each day of the challenge, I’ll post my family’s update for that day, including food breakdown and cost.  I encourage you to comment on each day’s post with your updates.

    I hope to have many accept the challenge with me!

    Santa Fe Rotini

    Santa Fe Rotini

    I had no idea what to make for dinner.  I just knew I wanted to use black beans in it.  So, here’s the result

    1/2 bag Whole Wheat Rotini, cooked al dente and drained
    1 container Philly Santa Fe Cooking Creme
    1 can Corn, drained
    1 can Rotel, drained
    3 C Black Beans (If you use canned, drain and rinse)
    1 med Onion, chopped
    2 Tbsp Garlic Salt
    2 Tbsp Cumin
    2 Tbsp Butter


    In a large sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion.  Saute for about 5 minutes.  Add corn, Rotel and black beans.  Saute another 5 minutes.  Add Philly Santa Fe Cooking Creme and seasonings.  Thoroughly mix.  Add pasta and heat thoroughly.  Serve.

    Baked Churros

    Thanks to the Hy-Vee Cooking & Lifestyle School for this recipe.

    Baked Churros

    1 C Flour
    1 C Water
    4 oz Butter
    1/2 tsp Salt
    4 Eggs
    1/2 C Sugar
    2 Tbsp Cinnamon

    1. Combine cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl and set aside.
    2. Bring water and butter to a boil.  Add flour all at once and stir in.  Continue to cook for about 2-3 minutes to remove excess moisture.
    3. Transfer to a mixing bowl and let cool.  When it’s no longer hot, but slightly warm, mix in the eggs one at a time.
    4. Chill the dough for 30 minutes.
    5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    6. Place dough in a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.
    7. Pipe long strips about 4-6″ long on a sprayed sheet pan.
    8. Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes.
    9. Remove from the oven and toss in the cinnamon sugar mixture.
    10. Enjoy.

    I would have taken pictures of these, but the family swarmed the kitchen as soon as they were done.  I ended up getting one for myself!

    Can you do it?

    A blog I follow is participating in a challenge.  It’s called Live Below the Line.  It got me thinking.  Could you do it?  Could I?

    I plan our meals very carefully, because we do work on a very tight budget.  I can make a whole chicken last 4 meals by adding fillers and such.  But, I don’t think I could do it.  There are a few things that I like to have and those would put me over the daily dollar limit in the challenge.

    Here’s the jest of it.  The challenge figures those who live in extreme poverty in the U.S. live on $1.50 a day.  That’s a pack of gum, a cheap coffee from the convenience store down the road, that mini container of ice cream that’s just not enough for a snack.  Get the picture?

    So, do you think you could do it?  Even for 5 days, the time frame for the challenge?

    My family of 6 would get $45 total for groceries for 5 days.

    We would each have $7.50 a week for our own portion.

    $1.50 a day.

    No ‘charity’ food.

    Unlimited water.

    Talk about having to think creatively on how to eat 3 meals a day, let alone in a healthy way.

    Well, could you do it?

    Homemade Laundry Detergent

    So, my supplies came in this morning and I got right to work.  It took all of about 20 minutes to make my first batch of homemade laundry detergent.

    1/3 bar Fels Naptha (can use Ivory, I did)
    1/2 C Washing Soda (Arm & Hammer)
    1/2 C 20 Mule Team Borax

    Use a grater or food processor to grate the bar soap.  Put 6 cups water and bar soap in a pan.  Heat, stirring frequently, until soap is dissolved.  Add Washing Soda and Borax.  Mix until it is completely dissolved.  In a 2 gallon or larger bucket (I used a stock pot), add 4 C hot water.  Add mix to bucket.  Stir.  Add another 1 gallon plus 6 C water.  Stir again.  Cover and let sit for 24 hours.  It’ll be semi gelled and resemble egg noodle soup.

    I transferred mine into old, washed out, laundry soap containers for easier storage.  I also added about 5 drops of pink grapefruit essential oil for a fragrance.  I’ll be testing it out tomorrow.  Then, I’ll update again.

    How do I do it?

    I have friends and co-workers ask me how I get things for little to nothing.  Practice, patience and time.

    I coupon.  I love it.  I recently returned to couponing after a 3 month break, where we barely bought any toiletries (TP only) and still have quite a stockpile to live off.  Hubby said I needed to take a break so we could use some of our stuff up.  Ok. Back at it again.

    I belong to survey sites.  I earn gift cards for Amazon on them.  I love Amazon.  I’ve made over $300, won over $250 in cash and gifts and have gotten tons of coupons for free products.

    Now, there are those that frown on me.  That’s fine.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.  I’d hate to live in a cookie cutter world.  How boring it would be.  However, I have a family of 6 that uses a lot of things.  We like nice things.  So, if couponing and survey sites help me save money and get those nice things without touching our $$, I’ll do it.

    So, that’s how I do it.

    On to where I do it:
    Search & Win
    Swagbucks is awesome.  You do the daily poll, complete the NOSO, watch videos, complete offers and surveys.  You earn bucks.  You then cash them in for stuff or gift cards. 

    Superpoints is easy.  You make an account, verify your email and click the Super Lucky Button every day!  You win random points, get emails with points in them, get survey offers for points, etc.  You cash them in for gift cards!

    I’ll share more later on.  Have a great day!