Recipe For A Simple Life

Simplify your life, one day at a time

Fried Rice Experiment

Homemade Fried Rice

On Saturday we had Chinese take out with relatives.  The only problem was that the restaurant would not substitute fried rice for white rice for us and the kids don’t like white rice unless it has cinnamon and sugar on it.  So we ended up with a lot of leftover rice.  I’ve often wondered how to make fried rice and have bought some “add water and simmer for 8 minutes” convenience versions, but they are never very good.  Since I figured this rice was likely to go to waste, I decided it was the perfect time to try my hand at homemade fried rice.  Now I wish I had know how easy it was a long time ago.  The kids loved it!  I used the basic recipe below with a few modifications.

Next time (and there WILL be a next time since it was so simple) I’ll probably tweak it a little more until I find the perfect balance.  I added a small handful of baby carrots to saute with the onion and a handful of peas when I added the eggs.  I think next time I’ll add a little bit more of each of those, a little more onion and maybe a few mushrooms.  I might even try it sometime as a main dish and add some diced pork.

If  you have a recipe that’s very different, I’d love to hear it so I can experiment again.


Fried Rice


1/3 C. Chopped Onion

¼  C.  Butter or Margarine

4 C.  Cooked Rice

3 T.  Teriyaki Sauce (I didn’t have any so I skipped this)

2 T.  Minced Fresh Parsley (I used dried)

1 tsp.  Garlic Powder

1/8 tsp.  pepper (just now realized I didn’t add this – oops!)

1  Egg, lightly beaten (I used leftover scrambled eggs from the frig, already cooked)



In a skillet, sauté onion in butter until tender.

Stir in the rice, teriyaki sauce, parsley, garlic powder and pepper.  Cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the egg; cook and stir until egg is completely set, about 3 minutes.


Like I mentioned above, we had this as a side dish, but it could easily be a main dish if it was bulked up with a few more veggies and maybe some pork or chicken.

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Bean Burger Success!!

Black Bean Burgers – Success at Last!!

I’ve been trying to make a bean burger for over a year with no success.  They always fall apart or the kids see them and refuse to even taste them.  (I really didn’t think it would be that difficult.)  At first I was just trying to make something healthier.  Then I had success substituting black beans in other recipes that called for ground beef and realized how much money I could save.  One pound of ground beef is over $3.00.  One can of black beans is $0.55 cents.  (Big savings if you consider we used to eat ground beef at least three times a week.)

Unfortunately for me, the black bean burger just refused to cooperate – until today.  I finally found a recipe that makes a black bean burger that holds it’s shape and isn’t immediately identifiable as a bean burger.  (This last point is important when you need to get to kids to taste it and admit they like it before you let them know what’s in it.)  I’m really excited about this because it’s been such a challenge for me.

Just in case you would like to try a black bean and mushroom burger, here’s the recipe I used:


Black Bean & Mushroom Burger


6 oz. of mushrooms, chopped (I used baby portabello)

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1-2 cups bread crumbs (I was out and subbed rolled oats)



Heat  1 Tbs oil or vegetable broth in a sauté pan on medium high.

Add chopped onions, mushrooms, & garlic to pan and sauté until mushrooms release their liquid. (approx. 5minutes)

Spoon mixture into a food processor, add the beans and process until well mixed. (At this point, mine looked a little like sludge, but smelled good, so I knew it was still okay.)

Stir in bread crumbs, starting with 1 cup and adding until mixture thickens and can be formed into patties.  (Mine took closer to 2 cups, maybe even a little more.

Form into patties.

Cook according to your preferred method. (I used a Foreman Grill, but you can use an outdoor grill or pan fry also.)

Heat until each side is firm and crispy – about 5 minutes.


Next time I make these, I’ll probably add some seasoned salt.  Otherwise, I’m pretty happy with the way they turned out.  Even the kids ate them and admitted they liked them before they knew what was in them.  Hopefully they’ll remember that next time and will be willing to eat them again.

Do you have a favorite black bean recipe?  I’d love to hear it.  Have a great night!


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A Return to Menu Planning

It’s been a while, but I’m going to try to start menu planning again.   We’ve been “winging it” for most of the summer because we’ve been so busy with the kids’ summer sports schedule.  Now that our summer sports schedule has slowed down we won’t need to include cold sandwiches (to be eaten in the car or in the bleachers) twice a week.

I was thinking about the way we eat as I sat down to plan out the week today.  We’ve really changed a lot in the past year with the way I cook and the foods we eat.  A year ago we ate meat almost every day, now we can easily go almost a whole week without it.  It’s been good for us.  We aren’t vegetarian by any means and never will be since we love a good burger, but we’ve found that there are healthier and cheaper alternatives to red meat.  We’ve also gotten away from boxed and canned foods, which I feel really good about.  I’ve even started trying to cook without always using a recipe and had some pleasant results.

Last week I took advantage of the great produce sales at Aldi and snapped up some cheap veggies that I’ll be using in this week’s menu. –

Sunday:  Black Bean & Mushroom Burgers, Fried Rice, Cucumber Slices

Monday:  Ring Bologna, Fried Potatoes, Baby Carrots

Tuesday:  Chicken Taco Bowls, Lettuce Salad

Wednesday:  Spinach Berry Salad, Summer Sausage, Broccoli & Cauliflower with dip

Thursday:  French Toast, Scrambled Eggs, Applesause

Friday:  Veggie Stir Fry, Brown Rice, Fruit

Saturday:  Leftovers from earlier in the week

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Financially Fit Friday

Here’s the Sunday edition of Financially Fit Friday – an update…

“When real faith grips you, you develop a mind-set that looks for the best in everything, refuses to give up, finds a way around or through every obstacle, and presses on to victory.”

– Norman Vincent Peale

Have you started a money makeover? What are you planning on paying CASH for? What bill are you paying off? Share a bit of your story! No story is too small to share! Real life stories keep Carrie motivated 😀 Catch up on Our Story to see how far we’ve come.

Emergency Fund – $1000 – Stocked!

Teeth Fund – Hubby needs some major dental work done.

  • Currently Saved $0
  • After finding out through a few dentist visits that my husband’s dental work can wait until the insurance kicks in, we took the money and bought my husband a boat so he can prepare better for tournaments.  Then shortly after, he had another follow up visit only to find out the dentist misquote by $2000-$4000!  We were devastated.  But God will provide.  The work needs to be done.  We will be calling around and finding a dentist who can do the work for less.

House Fund – Goal $30,000.00 by 3/31/2013. We went to a second showing for the house, and after that visit we determined that the house was not right for our family.  I’m so thankful we did a second showing and didn’t put an offer in on the house after the first showing!  I highly recommend that!  We’ll keep looking.  We also decided to spend a little more and redo the flooring in the rental unit.  Renters move in August 1, so I’ll have updated totals on everything hopefully by this coming Friday!  The damage to our savings so far has been acceptable!  We also have to move Baby Sylvia into a big girl bed, which means we had to buy another set of bunk beds in order for all the kids to fit in their rooms.  Thankfully Ryan works at a furniture store so we got good ones for a decent price!

  • Deposited $50 work bonus
  • Deposited $11.38 in spare change.
  • Currently Saved $?

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The following are the other loans we currently have, but will put them on the back burner as we save for a house bigger than a 2-bedroom for our family of SIX 😀 We plan on keeping the duplex we currently own, and renting out the side we currently live in, thus earning more money each month that will pay these off for us 😀

Hubby’s Student Loan as of 10/01/2011 $9395

  • Outstanding Balance is $8,978.44

My Student Loan as of 10/01/2011 $6480

  • Outstanding Balance is $6,250.82

Family Loan $3000 – I was told to keep this and put this towards a new house, since the person doesn’t need this money right now 😀 Bonus 😀

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Financially Fit Friday

So, we want to put an offer in on the house, but we’re hitting road blocks due to the rental property we currently own and not being able to use that income as reported income. Now, if the government says it’s income, I’m confused why the bank won’t use it. So prayers all the i’s get dotted and the t’s crossed! We hope to have news this afternoon before I leave for the weekend, otherwise it will be Monday.

This whole process is crazy. Talk about paperwork!

Again, details on our balances and stuff will be updated once we know what’s goin on with the house. We are both back to work fulltime as ofnext week, so our paychecks should be normal again.

BONUS! Ryan found out his vacation doesn’t roll over. We didn’t even know he had vacation saved up! So we are just taking a cash payout for that. Hey, it’s a week’s worth of hourly pay we didn’t know about! God is good!

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House Offer – Prayers Please

So, on Sunday Ryan bought a boat using up a large chunk of our House Fund.  We chatted and decided that it’s totally fine to save up for another 9 months and buy a home in the spring with a larger down payment.  We were at complete peace with this.  Until Sunday night when I showed Ryan a link to a house that just came on the market.  He said we had to see it.  He hasn’t said that since we bought the place we currently live in.  So I messaged our realtor and said we needed to see it ASAP.  It’s in our 2nd favorite neighborhood, just down the street from our church.  We looked at it yesterday and I was ready to move in.  We both LOVED it.  So, we are putting in an offer this afternoon – prayers that things work out smoothly if this is in God’s plan for us 😀  It’s pretty darn near perfect for us.

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I have been using Shopkick for a few weeks now.  I love how easy it is to use.  If you have a Smartphone or something similar, I suggest downloading this app.  I earn “Kicks” by just walking into stores, along with bonus Kicks for scanning products.  Every morning you can get 1-3 bonus Kicks just for clicking on that store on your phone.

If you have any questions, just ask!  It’s very easy.  Use my referral link to get a bonus 50 Kicks for new members! 

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Financially Fit Friday

Again, I won’t be posting totals until August once the remodel is done on the other side of our duplex.  I just took before pics, so I’ll have fun showing off how ‘homey’ we make it feel once we are done remodeling.  We have about two weeks to get it all done.  It’s nothing major, but still time consuming.  And the HEAT right now is just about killing us as there’s no a/c over there.  So we’ll wait until this heat wave passes and we can tolerate being over there for more than 5 minutes.

I did deposit over 8 bucks in change this week 😀  I’m starting to work more, which means more money coming in, so hopefully our House Fund won’t be effected too much with the remodel.

Another confession…Since we thought we were moving, I didn’t do as much stock pile shopping as I like to do as I was trying to use up what was in our cupboards.  However, now that we are staying for a few more months, we need to catch up again.  So our grocery budget is almost double what it normally has been.  I’m ok with that, since we are stocking up and I’ll be able to cut back in a few weeks and drop way back down.  I’m so thankful for all the debt we paid off in the last year so we are able to afford to ‘splurge’ and buy more.  Now that our 8 year old is eating like he’s a teenager, we need the extra wiggle room since our other 3 kids are following suit lol

We are also getting ready for a garage sale to get rid of more items and put some money aside.  We don’t have large items to sell, mostly clothes and toys, but it’s still money 😀

OOOHHHHH and the best news, my hubby went to the dentist.  He does need major work – as in getting all teeth pulled on his top row of teeth and getting dentures.  This is seriously humorous to me as he’s in his mid-30s, not 70s that I always associate dentures with.  lol  But it’s genetic for him.  Anyways, his insurance will start kicking in money in about 6 months, with the majority of it in one year.  Ryan decided he’d be happy with just getting the one main tooth done in the front that people can see, and waiting for the insurance to kick in to get the rest of it done.  I’m so thankful for his decision, as it will save us thousands of dollars. So all that money saved up for his teeth – it will pay the kids’ tuition due in three weeks and the rest will go towards his boat that he’s buying on Sunday 😀

Thanks be to God for all our blessings lately.  I’m seriously overwhelmed on how He’s blessed us over the last several years in particular.  We’ve tried to be good stewards of the money he has blessed us with and even though we are by no means rich and financially stable, we are so much further ahead than we were just a few years ago.  I’m so humbled by all this.

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Finding Money – Consignment Shops

There is a great store in Old Town Mankato called Encore.  Their address and phone number are 311 N Riverfront Dr, Mankato, MN  and 507-386-0861.  I love this store.  It’s like Once Upon a Child but for women.  They have stylish clothes, shoes, jewelry, handbags as well as household items.  And all of their items are on consignment.  So for each item you buy, the previous owner earns some cash.  I just took two buckets of clothes, shoes and jewelry down there.  They took about a buck full of them 😀  In three months, I’ll get my check from what’s sold.  I’m kind of excited.  For one – my closet is cleaner and I already don’t miss them all and will probably just donate whatever is left.  So head on down there and check out all the cool stylish stuff they have at a price not like in a normal store.  It’s all name brand items, they don’t take items from Walmart or Target, it’s quality items.  If you have a wedding to attend to this summer, this is the perfect store to buy your “I’m only going to wear this once” kind of outfit.

For those of you younger, hipper kind of people – check out Plato’s Closet up on Madison Avenue across from Walmart.  This is the place for you to sell your Junior’s style clothes, shoes, purses and jewelry.  Now go clean out your closet and make some cash.

Has anyone ever consigned items before?

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Itty Bitty Pizza Bites

These are by far our favorite pizzas.  And so easy to make.


What you need…

Pizza Sauce, but in all honesty, I’ve used Spaghetti also

Mozzarella Cheese, shredded – or a Pizza Blend of shredded cheese

Pepperoni slices or whatever pizza toppings you normally eat on pizza

Ritz Crackers – I’ve tried el cheapo brands before, they do not taste the same, and get soggy very quickly

On a pizza pan or cookie sheet, place Ritz Crackers – however many you want to eat.  Plan for more as they are addicting.

Put a dab of pizza sauce on each cracker, top with a slice of pepperoni and sprinkle with cheese.

Put in over on broil just until cheese melts/browns.  Seriously, it’s like one to two minutes is all.

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