Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mac n Cheese n Peas

This recipe was filed under "must-try way to make food I love." I finally tried it and OH MY it was yummy and oh so easy.

First, I put 2 cups of dry rotini in the rice cooker with 2 cups of chicken broth.
While it cooked, I shredded 2 cups of cheese, a mix of cheddar and monterey jack.  Food processors make life better.
The macaroni is done when there is no more liquid in the rice cooker.  Mine just popped up from "Cook" to "Keep Warm."
At that point, I added some milk and the frozen peas and put the top back on to melt the peas.
The last step was to mix in the cheese.  The heat and steam of the "keep warm" function melted it perfectly!


Monday, June 7, 2010

Frolicks in Frozen Dough

We used to buy frozen dough for pizzas, calzones, garlic knots, and other things.  It was around $1.50 for each baggie, and we would make 2 personal pizzas out of it.  It was pretty inexpensive, and the ingredient list was short.  

That didn't stop me from wanting to make it from scratch.  I mean, I have a zillion kitchen gadgets, how hard could it be?!

Answer?  Not hard at all.  

I gathered the ingredients:  3 cups whole wheat flour, 1 cup water, a squeeze of honey,  a splash of olive oil, 2 t yeast, and some grinds of salt. 
The breadmaker was the appliance of choice.  It kneads, lets it rise, punches it down, and lets it rise again.  So I threw it all in the pan.  
It kneaded, rose, was punched, and rose again.
When it was all finished, I put it into a baggie.  Mission complete.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Meal Plan Monday!

This week is the busiest, most stressful, and most FUN week of the year for me at work.  In case you didn't know, I am a dance teacher.  I also help run the studio of a few hundred students.  This week is our dress rehearsal and recital week, and I will be on my feet at the theatre and running errands all day every day from Monday-Sunday.  WHEW!  To make it through, I pack TONS of snacks.  There usually is not time for proper meals, but when the snacks are packed well, I rarely get hungry. 

Some of the things to cook/ prep for the week:
Wilted Kale Leaves Salad (using this recipe, but not baked)
Kale Chips
Apple Chips
Sliced Pineapple
Nut n Fruit Mix
Baba Ghanoush
Something with Beets.....

Now, to make sure I have time for all of this, I have to break it down.  I will be checking off items as I complete them.  You are basically getting to see my list!

So.. what do i have to do?
Slice Pineapple
Clean Grapes
Clean Lettuce
Snip Lettuce
Mix Salad
Clean Kale
Snip Kale
Soak Kale
Bake Kale
Clean Apples
Slice Apples
Flavor Apples
Bake Apples
Soak Chick Peas
Bake Eggplant
Peel Eggplant
Slice Plantains
Saute Plantains
Mix Granola
Bake Granola

Easy Stuff:
Mix Fruit and Nut Mix
Slice Plantains
Saute Plantains
Slice pineapple
Clean Grapes
Mix Granola
Mix Salad
Stuff that Takes Wait Time:
Soaking Kale
Soaking Chick Peas
Eggplant Cooling

Baking Stuff:
Bake Apples
Bake Kale
Bake Granola

I try to multitask as much as possible to save time.  John will be assisting by making the Hummus and Baba Ghanoush (and HOPEFULLY some yogurt, too!).  Stay tuned!!

This is also posted here!


Saturday, June 5, 2010

'Tater Chips

I have a confession to make.  I had never made real potato chips.  I usually made too-thick baked potato slices.  Blech.  I slice them too thick, oil them too much, and cook them at too low of a temperature.  So I stopped making them. 

The other day, I felt like making John some yummy snacks, and I know how much he loves good potato chips.  We had potatoes, so I figured, why not?

First, I sliced the potatoes in half so I had a manageable pieces of food to handle with the mandolin. 
Then, I sliced them.  Really thin.  In the past, I have had a problem with the mandolin.  I end up hurting my hand because it is not slicing easily.  This time, I checked the thickness thing and realized I had it backwards.  In other words, I was making it thicker when I wanted it to be thinner.  DUHHHH!  So this time, it was EASY.  The slices were really thin.  
The next decision to be made?  What to fry them in.  I settled on duck fat.  We had purchased it a few weeks ago and hadn't used it yet. 
When the fat was all liquidey and hot, I placed the potato slices in a few at a time, making sure not to overcrowd them.
When the edges started to buckle, I flipped them carefully.  I say carefully because I burned my finger on the first one.  Ouch. 
Eventually, they all browned up and were ready.  I salted them as they were removed from the pan. 
John ate them in five minutes flat.  I think that would make it a success, don't you?

This recipe was also posted on Two For Tuesday at A Moderate Life


Friday, June 4, 2010

Beef Stock Success!

I'm not sure if I shared by past beef broth failures.  I wasn't aware that beef broth was not made the same way that chicken broth was.  Oops.  

Our apartment smelled like decomposing animals for about a week after that.  


This time, however, I was armed with the frozen scraps of my dad's rib roast, a thick marrow bone, and Kelly the Kitchen Kop.  Well, not in person, but still, she helped... by writing a post....

Anyway.  I started by defrosting my dad's frozen bones.  

RIB bones.... 

from a cow...  You know what I mean. 

I roasted the marrow bone at 400 until it started to smell really good.  After discarding the grease and choppping off the extra fatty parts, I added it to the crock pot with a sliced up carrot, some celery, an onion, and some potato bits (from a future post).  Then, it was seasoned with roasted garlic, sea salt, oregano, and too much parsley.

I somehow always forget that the parsley jar doesn't have a shaker top.  I shake it as if it's going to come out slowly and lose about 1/4 of the jar before I realize that is it POURING out.  Good thing I like parsley.

The ingredients were then covered in water and cooked overnight.  In the morning I strained it and froze it into 2 cup baggies.  The house smells good, like beef stew!!! Whoo hoo!!!


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Budget Time

Food shopping together has been something that John and I have enjoyed since we first moved in together (3 years ago this month!).  When we returned from our honeymoon, we knew that diving headfirst into eating Real Food would cause a shift in our food shopping.  We planned our first food shopping trip before we even left Hawaii!  There were quite a few changes that we needed to consider.  For one thing, Real Food IS pricier.  For another, our old supermarket is open 24-7, the one we now frequent is only open until 10.  That may seem late enough, but considering I don't even get home from work until 7:30 on a good day, 10 is not that late.  

Before Real Food (BRF), we were spending about $35/week at the supermarket and about $20 every other weekend at the Farmers' Market.  In total, we were spending about $120/month.  The first shopping trip After Real Food (ARF), we spent $120.  In ONE SHOPPING TRIP!  Yikes!  The next week we spent about $100 again.  Although we could technically afford it, quadrupling our food budget was not in line with our savings goals.  To boot, these expenditures DIDN'T INCLUDE our trips to the Farmers' Market.  We needed to re-think things.  

We decided to get certain staples at the regular store or online every few weeks.  Things like nuts and dried fruit we order from A Nuts.  The might not have the best selection, but they have really good prices and service.  Paper and personal products we buy from Alice. We still frequent the Farmers' Market every 2 weekends, at least we try to.  That's where we tend to get the majority of our ingredient veggies, like garlic, onions, and leafy greens.  They sometimes have great deals on fruit as well.  Frozen produce, canned goods, grains like macaroni and rice, and dry legumes are purchased at our conventional supermarket when we need them.  We tend to buy a whole lot on sale occasionally.  We have been going there MAYBE once/month.  

That leaves the fresh produce, dairy, eggs, and meat products.  That we get at our new supermarket, Fairway.  We load up on decently priced produce, usually a mix of conventional and organic.  Then we swing to the cheese section and grab a few delicious cheeses.  We've found that a good cheese can take an average meal and make it sparkle.  Then we mosey on over to the meat and seafood.  We'll grab one type of seafood, usually what is on sale, and one cut of meat.  We only buy enough for the week, and we don't freeze it.  It is only the two of us, so when we bought clams, we bought a dozen.  We get 2 fillets of fish, not 5 pounds.  Our meat and fish are supplemented by veggies, grains, and sauces.  Lastly, we pick up eggs, milk, and butter.  

Since we make many of our foods at home, we don't require very much from the supermarket.  As we starting paring down the amount we would buy, and exercising enough self-control to only buy 1 week's worth of fresh food, we have gotten our weekly food spending down to....

About $50/week.  

Yes. Including Fairway, the Farmers' Market, online shopping, and the conventional supermarket, we are spending a mere $50/week.  While it is more than what we were spending, it is worth it.  The food is much more delicious, we are feeling better, and it is better for us.  

What we do might not work for everyone, but is sure works for us!!

This post was added to
Pennywise Platter @ Nourishing Gourmet!
Fight Back Fridays @ Food Renegade!


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Starting a Plan...

John and I will hopefully be moving this month.  Our apartment is a wreck right now, with boxes everywhere.  I am not motivated to cook a single thing.  Today I started to pack John's lunch, and realized we did not have a single thing he could eat.  I felt like such a failure as a wife!  By the way, it is still SO WEIRD to say "wife" and be referring to myself.  

In light of the chaos, I am trying to pat myself on the back for what I AM able to do.  I also wanted to keep track of the things I make from scratch so in the new house I can develop a schedule.  I don't ever want to wind up like we did today. 

A List of Home Made Things.
  • Bread
  • Yogurt
  • Granola
  • Granola Bars
  • Hummus
  • Baba Ghanoush
  • Waffles
  • Chicken Stock
  • Crackers
  • Vegetable Stock
  • Fish Stock
  • Beef Stock
  • Peanut Butter
  • Almond Butter
  • Potato Chips
  • Apple Chips
  • Baking Mix (Bisquick Type)