Sunday, April 23, 2017

80 lbs of chicken - 9 ways

Get fresh chicken breast for as low as $1.49 / lb by using promo codes FLASH423 (good through 11:59pm 4/24/2017) or promo code PR20 extra 20% off new customer orders (good through 4/30/2017). Sign up for Zaycon Fresh to get your unbelievably fresh meat!  

Often I am asked how do I save money for my family. Our food budget is something that I rarely skimp on because I think it's one of the best investments we can make for ourselves. However, there are a ton of ways to be able to save money without skimping on quality.

I learned about Zaycon Fresh a few years ago and am a believer! We order chicken breast, chicken fritters, pork tenderloins, wild Alaskan Salmon and a few other meat products. 
The chicken breast comes fresh and straight from the farmer, so it ends up being a lot fresher than what you buy at the grocery store. For example, my last case of Zaycon Fresh chicken breast had a bar code with a time stamp for the butcher date that was 3 days prior to my receiving it. I recently went to my local grocery store to see what their time frame is - and their chicken was 15 days old and also had 3% water injected. It's really not much of a discussion on which chicken I prefer to buy!

What is Zaycon Fresh? It's super easy. You sign up, enter in your zip code and it will populate "events" near you. Each event will bring fresh or frozen meets to an agreed upon place and time. You place your order for what you'd like and then on the day of the event you bring your order slip and they put your case of bulk meats in the trunk of your car for you. You don't even have to get out of the car! Throughout the year they will offer different products; such as delicious bacon, fresh ground beef, fresh chicken breasts, frozen breaded chicken fritters (I like to make this), select steaks, even turkey and ham! Our all time favorite is their salmon. They are constantly adding more.

When you sign up, they'll send you non-spammy newsletters letting you know what they're adding, great recipe ideas and you can refer friends to get credit for your next purchase. Truly, I haven't bought meat any other way for a long time now.

Ok but then the question comes up with what do I do with 40 lbs of fresh chicken breast? Friends, let me show you what I did for this last order, which I am using to prepare for Baby Boy due this summer.

First, when I receive my chicken I cut it down to different sizes to help spread the meat a little further. Each lobe of chicken breast becomes a cut of breast, a tender and I slice the breast to an even thickness and save the top portion as a "cheek," which is great as Chicken Parmesan Cutlets.  For our family of 2 adults and 2 small kids I package a dinner meal either as 2 breasts, 5 tenders or 6 cutlets. I also use a Foodsaver instead of freezer bags. For each of the recipes below I used 1/4 c of marinade per "dinner package." Some of the recipes are larger than others so adjust the ratios as you need. 

Without further adieu, here are my most recently used recipes:
Brown Sugar Balsamic Chicken

I used about 1/4 c of marinade per 2 breasts.

Lemon Garlic
Chicken TacosUsing a grinder attachment, grind your chicken breasts
taco seasoning recipe

Chicken Enchiladas

1 large can of enchilada sauce
directions: boil your chicken breasts, shred them either with forks or with the paddle attachment on your kitchen aid, pour the sauce in! Freeze the meat as is or prep into enchiladas and freeze individually.

Tangy Teriyaki:
2T of grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce
makes enough for 2 breasts

"Hawaiian Style"  / Moana1 can of sliced pineapple
2 cups of orange juice
4T ketchup
4T soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2T of grated fresh ginger
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c Balsamic Vinegar 

Tangy BBQ
1/2 c Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce
4T ketchup 
2Tbrown sugar
4T balsamic vinegar
1 cup chicken stock

Lime Sweet Thai Chili1 c stock
1 bottle sweet thai chili sauce
1/4 c lime juice

Spiced Rub with Apple Cider Vinegar2t paprika
1t chili powder
1t cumin
1t thyme
1t salt
1t garlic powder
1t pepper
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
Mix all of the ingredients, pour over 12 chicken breasts and rub it in. It should be a loose paste.

Ready to save some moolah? Sign up here

Monday, April 3, 2017

My hometown favorite - Just Between Friends Marysville - Mount Vernon Spring Sale

Hey Skagit Mamas!

My little family and I have officially lived in Skagit County for A YEAR and I am reminded of this because my first blog post last year about our move was also about the Just Between Friends Marysville - Mount Vernon Spring Sale! Since then we have gotten to know the community a lot better, have completed a year of pre-school, Awana, met local readers and found all the awesome places for kids to explore (especially to break up those winter blues and cabin fever).

Now that Spring is here, and I literally looked out my window for a break of rain and a hope of sunshine, I am ready to start prepping for warmer weather. I've been going through the girls' clothes - and in more exciting news; thinking ahead of our upcoming Summer Baby BOY - I am looking forward to this edition of my local JBF sale.

So you already know from following my blog that I love JBF for many reasons; it saves us money, it saves the environment and supports local families too. I've been a shopper and consignor for the better part of 5 years and my consignor check sort of rolls into the next sale for what I'm going to need to buy for the next size up for my kids. It's such a blessing to not have to worry about that sort of thing.

Over the years I've seen a ton of stuff for sale at these events and I am always surprised with something new. One year I got a play circus tent, which has been perfect for summer outdoor imaginary play. I've gotten tons of Disney Store brand clothing at a fraction of the cost. Keens & Crocs shoes are a staple in my house and I always am shopping for bigger sizes and consigning the smaller ones, because those shoes are seriously indestructible and work well in our climate for most of the year. "Standard" items in my two girls wardrobe is always leggings, long sleeve and short sleeves, Columbia style zippies and sweat shirts - also really easy to find and shop around for an awesome deal; usually $3-4 a piece. Pretty soon I know we'll be entering the arena for sporting equipment and from what I've seen the selection and condition are great at these sales.

Do I need to go on to show you just how pumped I am??!! 

The Just Between Friends Marysville - Mount Vernon team is partnering with me to get two winners an awesome prize package - each winner will get a PRIME TIME PASS + $10 JBF bucks to spend at the sale!! Woop woop! The prime time pass gets you in the door as early as Thursday April 27 from 3pm - 9pm, but if you can't make it that day you can shop anytime during the sale and still be able to use your JBF bucks. So check out the giveaway widget below; remember there are tons of ways to increase your odds of winning by coming back daily too!

April 28 - 30, 2017
Skagit County Fairgrounds, Mount Vernon Wa

Find out more details on the full sale schedule here

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Pierogie Peepers Vol. 2

Last year I wrote a little blog post chatting about the new chicks that had landed on our new homestead - Pierogie Peepers Vol. 1. I've been keeping chickens for about 3 years but Spring 2016 was my first batch of chicks. I went a little crazy (well, at the time I thought I was!) and got an assortment of 11 chicks and 3 broad breasted turkey poults.

Over the course of that summer, two of the chicks were lost to an overnight raccoon attack and I ended up with three roosters. Life and loss are something to be expected out in the country; it certainly wasn't easy dealing with their loss but you have to move on.

In November the turkeys were at their ideal butcher weight and we slaughtered them ourselves, along with one rooster that didn't end up getting rehomed. Some might ask if that was a hard thing to do, and initially I planned to not be a part of the slaughter process. At the last minute I decided that it was my responsibility to see it through; because it's not fair or responsible for me to continue to want to raise them for the future and not be fully aware of the entire process. You can read about our first year of raising turkeys (I did not include any graphic pictures, I promise), but I found that because of the equipment we had rented it made the process quiet, easy, not traumatic for anyone and the animals passed without incident.

That left me with a dozen hens for the winter and it took until past the Winter Solstice for most of those chicks that were hatched in May to begin to lay.

I am a part of several chicken keeping facebook groups and it was recommended to me to see about raising chicks in the winter. The idea is that those chicks are hatched from hens who have the hardy gene to continue laying through the winter and a big plus is that I'm done with the hard part of raising chicks before the summer! And for those of you following along... I am due with Baby #3 (a boy!) in June so that is really ideal for me this year.

So I set out with the idea that maybe I'd get 6-8 new chicks this winter. That doesn't really work out well when your good friend raises Black Copper Marans and hatches an incubator full of gorgeous dark chocolate colored eggs on New Years Day. So 6 peepers came from there. Naturally, one is always looking to add color to her egg basket so I also decided that this year would be my year to get some "olive egger" chicks, which are a mix of a blue laying hen and a dark brown gene rooster to create a stunning olive green colored egg. 6 Olive Egger babies came a couple weeks after my Marans.

A photo posted by Bianca @ The Pierogie Mama (@thepierogiemama) on

Then finally to round out this craziness, since I was already knee deep in it, I decided to order 6 Cinnamon Queens from Cackle Hatchery. I had added two Cinnamon Queens to my flock in 2015 who started laying at the tender age of 14 weeks, which is crazy in comparison to the Peepers from 2016, who started laying at around 28+ weeks! These girls were added as my power layers.

Those babies arrived after a perilous journey from Lebanon, MO all the way to Skagit Valley, WA on the one day that it has snowed in the past 5 weeks. Great! So we hurried those little peepers home, put them under the heat lamp with their first drink and meal since their birth. As it turned out, I got an additional production red baby to tag along too.

Silly me, I thought I was done. After all, I had made myself promise that I would only do 3 rounds of my favorite and "must have" breeds for 2017. But chicken math does not work that way!

Around 5 weeks of age I had each of the phases moved to outside in a segregated run underneath my chicken coop and main chicken run. This gives the 2017 chicks the opportunity to see and interact with my existing flock of 12 laying hens but protects them from being pecked on.

Sadly a couple weeks ago I lost two cinnamon queens who got smooshed at the bottom of a cuddle puddle overnight. I was so sad, because the cinnamon queens breed is "sex linked" which means boys and girls are different color right when they hatch so you know immediately if you have pullets or roos. I tried to stay strong; every year chicken farmers experience a little bit of loss and I knew something was probably going to happen that is outside of my control. Then I found a stellar deal on free shipping + $5 off for 10 chicks through Tractor Supply; so a friend and I split an order of 10 cinnamon queens. This time I PROMISE, I am done for the season!

More sadness.. the shipment of 10 cinnamon queens (plus an extra, just in case) suffered major losses. 10/11 of the chicks died in less than 24 hours. Thankfully Tractor Supply gave me a full refund immediately, but it is a bit traumatizing to see so many chicks die for apparently no reason so quickly. The remaining chick will be going home to my friend's farm.

Where does that put me? 12 original hens and 17 Vol. 2 Pierogie Peepers = 30 chickens. I have gone off the deep end, haven't I? I do have to keep in mind that my 6 Marans and 6 Olive Eggers each have a 50% chance of being roosters, because they were purchased "straight run", and as a certain troll on my instagram feed learned this past week - roosters don't live for very long at my house. My primary goal for raising chickens is for pleasure and the second is because my family loves eggs and we sell our excess. In a free range or breeding program setting roosters are valuable members of a flock, but in my case our chickens are always kept in a protected area as we have many predators and I'm not breeding chickens, so roosters are unnecessary. I do my due diligence to try to rehome them if someone else has a breeding program.

Are we all entitled to differing opinions on where food should come from? Yes. Is raising animals for meat for everyone? No. So to put to rest any questions on what happens to roosters at my property - they get humanely and efficiently slaughtered and my family eats their meat. I don't do it heartlessly, I look back at pictures of my rooster, Babcia, fondly and remember how cute HE was when he was little. But the truth was, he wasn't able to be rehomed and he kind of became a jerk when he was the only rooster in the pen. I couldn't risk having him attack me, or my kids, whenever we go into the run. Which is every day. I've been trolled by several people and baited into arguments - and the fact of the matter is that all of my animals are given a loving life and I make sure that their last moments are not filled with fear. That's saying so much more that what the meat that we buy at the grocery store can say.

...End rant.

Anyways, that's the start (and end) of this year's fuzzy butt journey!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Just Between Friends of Everett/Monroe consignment Spring sale!

Good morning, Snohomish County friends!

Each Spring and Fall I get a little bit of an extra buzz because it's that time of year where I do most of my kids clothing shopping. And I don't despair because to outfit 2 growing girls it is literally a steal to do my shopping at Just Between Friends consignment sales! Let me tell you why -

I've gotten this shopping thing down to a science. I go through my girls' clothes a few weeks before to see where we stand on the condition of our standard options - leggings, sweat shirts, t shirts and long sleeves. I set aside what my 3 year old has grown out of; deciding if the clothing item is acceptable to consign or if it can be donated or passed on to a friend. I store my 5 year old's outgrown clothing for a season so that her little sister can grow into it a little. Then I inventory where are the gaps that we need to fill and what we may need for the upcoming season. 

With that little list in hand, I head over to the JBF shopping venue and am able to look through the well organized racks of clothing for the cutest and best deals.  Eunice, the owner of JBF Everett/Monroe and her team, are sticklers for making sure all of the consigned items are in excellent used condition - it's rare to find any items that have even the lightest little grease stain on them. The prices are extremely fair and the best part is - it's a local family who consigns those clothes so your purchases are literally helping a neighbor. 

Have you ever heard of what is affectionately called "JBF"? It's a bi-annual sale held across the country where you can shop for family related consignment items - the most popular items being baby and kid clothes, though you can find anything from nursery furniture, babywearing gear, cloth diapers, maternity & teen clothes, movies, games, and so much more. 

Over the last 5 years I've been to over a dozen JBF sales throughout the North Cascades region and I've snagged so many awesome deals! Here's a snippet of what you can find at a JBF sale.

Even my kids know what it means when we go JBF shopping!

As an ongoing relationship with JBF Everett/Monroe, I am so excited to get to share another awesome giveaway from Eunice and her team! I've got three prizes - $25 JBF bucks to spend at the sale or two prime time tickets (valued at $10 each) to get in before the public! Check out the giveaway widget below.

To get your shop on, mark your calendar for

April 5- 8 2017

Evergreen State Fairgrounds
Monroe, WA

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Pierogie #3 is a boy! --26 week ramblings--

Like most moms who are chasing around kids during pregnancy, I just haven't had the time to sit down and reflect on this little one a whole lot! So here's a brief run down of the first 2/3 of my third pregnancy.

First trimester:
  • tired and nauseated. Surprised, anyone?
  • cravings for steak and soft cheeses like NONE OTHER.
  • Interviewed two birth centers and picked our favorite. What a totally different experience it is to be in the position to interview your midwife and make sure that her scope of care fits into what I want. Being a 3rd time stand alone birth center, water birthing mom, I had a lot of specific questions and preferences! I was so happy to find the perfect fit between the two birth centers and have been loving the care that I've been receiving, feeling supported and also the recognition that I'm a "no muss, no fuss" kind of pregnant gal. 
Second trimester:
  • The love for food came back with full force! Woo hoo!!
  • Energy to play with my kids came back too! Yippeee!!
  • 20 week ultrasound - the only one we plan to schedule - revealed that we will be adding a BABY BOY to our family! Big Sister Penny (age 5) had guessed that baby is a boy and is really excited about it. Big Sister Ruby (age 3) was hoping for a baby sister and has recently warmed up to the idea of a brother. What a fun and exciting new journey this will be for all of us.
  • Alas, starting around 24 weeks my hips started to ache. Thankfully I already knew about the benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy and was able to meet with a well recommended chiropractor in our area. She's been working on getting me aligned and subluxation free to help carry this baby effectively and comfortably.
  • Pierogie #3 loves to move around the most in the evenings when we are relaxed in bed and quiet. It's become very obvious when he is doing somersaults and rolling from side to side. 
  • We celebrated the big sisters' birthdays - they are two years and a week apart so the first part of March is a birthday extravaganza for us! It was so sweet to reflect on my births for each child and how the experience of being pregnant changes as your children get older.
    // Read Penny's birth story // Read Ruby's birth story// 
  • At 26 weeks weeks and over this past week I've had to be very proactive about taking care of my hips and pubis. Thanks to a few specific stretches, hot tub date nights, more chiropractic adjustments and a ring sling I've been able to keep the pain and discomfort at a manageable level but the pregnancy waddle has started early!


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