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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Something I wish I'd had a long time ago....


One of my Christmas gifts this year was a beautiful red Kitchenaid immersion blender to go with my stand mixer. I'd been wanting one for a while, but it seemed a little silly given I have such a nice blender.

Now I am just kicking myself that I didn't get one sooner. What a help in the kitchen! Creamy Potato Asparagus soup? Smooth in just moments, right in the pan. Gravy with a couple of lumps? Not anymore! The biggest advantage to having this is a picky kid. Chili Mac tonight was easy. I just used the immersion blender to smooth out about 2/3 of the beans. It still had texture, but was easy to serve to R, and he ate it right up, beans and all! :)

Crockpot Turkey Chili

I made this chili in the slowcooker on Sunday, and will be using it in a couple of this week's meals, plus I'll have a little to freeze for another meal. It calls for my secret ingredients, don't laugh- strong brewed coffee, and a dash of cinnamon. I like to cook it and then let it sit in the refrigerator for at least a day. It helps the flavors blend.

1lb. lean ground turkey
1/2t salt (you will likely only need if using cooked beans, not canned)
1/2t pepper (I like to use the Penzey's California Blend)
1 can pinto beans (or 2 cups cooked)
1 can black beans ( or 2 cups cooked)
2 cans diced tomatoes (I used rotel cilantro lime)
1 can whole tomatoes, break up with wooden spoon in crockpot
2 cups strong brewed coffee
1T garlic powder
2T chili powder ( I used Penzey's Ancho Chili Powder)
1t cumin
1/4t cinnamon
3 beef boullion cubes

Brown turkey in skillet over medium high until cooked through and no longer pink. Meanwhile, place all other ingredients into slow cooker. Add turkey when cooked. Let cook on low for 6+ hours, or high for 3-4.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 12/28

I got a couple of cookbooks over the holiday, so starting this next weekend, when I get a chance to go through and lay out some of the recipes I want to try, I will be sharing some of the new dishes and my review. For this week, keeping it fairly simple, although I have to say I am LOVING my Kitchenaid Mixer for making pizza dough. Last Sunday's pizza rivaled many that we've had from little places around here- and made in my kitchen. Pretty cool. I'm posting last night's meal so that I don't feel so late :)

Monday 12/28
oven fried buttermilk chicken drumsticks $3.00
buffalo chicken wings $2.25
green beans .40
Harvest Salad $2.00
$7.65

Tuesday 12/29
slowcooker turkey chili over spaghetti with cheese $2.25
corn .50
cantelope slices (nice sweet cantelope on sale at Fareway this week for $1.50. Yum) .75
$3.50

Wednesday 12/30
ham and broccoli quiche (.36 ham steak from Target LOL) $3.50
spinach and apple salad $1.00
$4.50

Thursday 12/31
bean and cheese quesadillas $3.00
tomato soup $1.25
leftover corn .00
$4.25

Friday 1/1
steak and potato skillet $3.50
asparagus .75
$4.25

Saturday 1/2
chili cheese nachos $2.00
fresh fruit salad $2.00
$4.00

Sunday 1/3
Pizza Night $4.00
salad $1.00
$5.00

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Waffles


Check it out! The first waffles I've ever made, in my first waffle iron! Really not sure why it took so long to get one, since I think waffles are a food group if you're 7 and 4. I like the healthier waffles, too, so those get pricey without sales and coupons. I played around and combined a couple of different recipes and adjusted for what I had for this recipe. Turned out great! I might toy with adding some ground flax seed or wheat germ in the future, but I was out of both this time around.

1 1/4 cups white flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup steel cut oats ground in coffee grinder to a nice oat flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups buttermilk (also used about 3/4 cup of skim milk to thin batter after mixing)
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine flour through salt in a large bowl and mix. In separate bowl, whisk buttermilk through cinnamon. Add to dry ingredients and stir until combined. Let rest for about 5 minutes. Heat waffle iron. Cook according to your iron's directions. For me, I used about 1 cup of batter per waffle, and they cooked for about 4 minutes. Perfect!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Snow


Lots of it. This picture shows the drift at the deck door yesterday. More than 3 feet of snow there. Dog was like, "no way, nuh uh, fuhgettaboutit", and walked away after not having peed for 12 hours. I didn't blame her. LOL. After today, totals in the metro are 13-18 inches, with drifts taller than my 7yo. (I know because I saw him in them in the backyard. Crazy.)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

EASY cheater Ham glaze


My mom and I were having this discussion last week as my sister prepared to make her first ever ham. She was asking us both the best way to glaze the ham. We both gave the same answer- a can of Coke. Seems to be too easy to be true, but this has become a big go to for our family. Put your ham in the roaster. Pour Coke over ham. Cover with foil. Bake. From time to time pour the Coke up and over the ham. Done. And YUM. :)

Change in Plans

We had planned on being in St. Louis this Christmas. Through the weekend we were eating all the perishables, getting everything ready to go, getting new tires on the suv, etc. At the same time, we were monitoring the weather, as a big storm was set to head in to the area this week, and we wanted to make sure we got out before it got here.

Things then started getting complicated. My mom was put in the hospital last week for double pneumonia---they caught it when she went in for her latest round of chemo. Initially she was to be in for the weekend, but she's now there through Christmas.

Ryan caught a tummy bug on Sunday night. His little brother had gotten it earlier in the week, and I had gotten it as well. This now ruled out any chance of the boys seeing their grandma, as she's on a floor that is very protected for low immune systems, and we can't risk her being exposed to any new germs right now.

By Monday night, when Ryan was still sick, my gut told me to cancel the trip. Hubby went along with it, but I don't think he agreed with me 100%. My concern was that we could still be passing the tummy bug around to each other, and if we got sick in St. Louis we wouldn't be able to go back home because of the snow. Meaning the boys would spend a miserable Christmas in the basement of the in-laws. No fun.

So early Tuesday I ran out and restocked all the fresh stuff we'd been clearing out- milk, eggs, produce. Made sure to get plenty so we wouldn't have to try to get out during a storm.

My gut proved to be correct Tuesday night when both Jonathan and I came down with the tummy bug. Bad. I'm still not back to normal. Snow is now coming down. But I'm about as happy as can be. We can rest in our own home. The boys have been able to keep themselves entertained pretty well here at home, which would have been much more difficult to do in St. Louis. Hubby just carried a ton of wood upstairs, and now we'll be able to enjoy nice fires in the fireplace.

So I will be posting the meal plans I've been hastily putting together for the rest of the weekend, since none had been needed before.

It is a nice reminder of the things that are important. Sure, I would have loved to have been able to visit all of the family, but I would much prefer to have a nice, warm, snuggly Christmas inside with my boys and hubby while the snow comes down. Oooh. Note to self---make hot chocolate :).

Hope you and your families have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

What a week....

In 6 days, a pretty violent, although thankfully fairly short, stomach virus has ripped through here and hit 3 of us---me first, then the 4yo, and now the 7yo is up in our bed with a bowl. Only hubby has escaped- so far.

It has me pretty nervous about Christmas, as Mom was admitted to the hospital Friday for pneumonia..the chemo treatments have her immune system pretty screwed up.

Since hubby hasn't gotten it...I'm not sure whether to think of him as invincible, or a contagion for the rest of the family this holiday season.

Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Craziness! Menu Plan..um...Wednesday

So busy that I've been keeping a list of meals here, but never actually posted it!

So here's the rest of the week:

Tonight-
Boneless pork chops $3.75
baked sweet potatoes .50
cheesy spirals with broccoli $1.00
$5.25

Thursday-
Company Christmas party...grilled cheese and chips with fruit for boys
$2.50

Friday-
macaroni and cheese bake
maple glazed carrots
salad

Saturday-
corn chowder
bread sticks
apple slices

Sunday-
Pizza night
salad

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Baby Steps Challenge- Baby Step 2

If you've been following along here and here, I've been discussing how you can make major long term adjustments in your food expenses and the way you shop by taking very small steps that are not difficult to do.

I asked you back in November to just start making a list of the items that you use regularly in your household.

Now, I'd like you to look at that list. I'm sure it's not a definitive list. Especially if you're like me and got caught up with other stuff :) But you should have some solid basics that you use regularly in your meals, regardless of the week's meals, based on your family's tastes. Here's what a list of basics looks like for us:

  • whole wheat pasta
  • refried beans
  • black beans
  • chicken
  • bacon
  • eggs
  • skim milk
  • flour tortillas
  • tortilla chips
  • sugar
  • flour
  • ground beef
  • frozen corn
  • frozen broccoli
  • canned green beans
  • boxed stuffing
  • canned turkey chili
  • crackers
  • breakfast cereal
  • coffee
This is not a definitive list for us, but certainly a good starter list of things we use regularly and always like to have on hand.

Your next baby step is to get a spiral notebook and write each item on a page. Yes. One per page. Take that book to the store with you every time. Every time. Seriously. When you buy one of those items, write down the price, the store, and whether it was a sale price or regular price. What you will have after a while is a natural list of high and low prices for the items you use. That will get you ready for your next baby step.

Happy note-taking!!

Easy Make Ahead Meals- Sirloin and Mushrooms in Gravy

As we head into the last few weeks before the holiday, it seems it is especially crazed around here. I have a TON of deadlines at work, along with client parties and other things that will have me away from home more often. So as I gear up for the next couple of weeks of shopping, baking, and all of the aforementioned work stuff, I want to have dinners ready to go as much as possible.

I will be sharing some of the recipes along with my menu plans as I go. I like to use fresh unprocessed ingredients as much as possible, but in times like this you will see me use a few convenience items to help cut the prep time down. This is one of those recipes. It uses a jar of beef gravy. I'm the first person to tell you to make your own gravy, but in this case, it helps me put this recipe together much faster, and right now, I'll take the time!

I made this dish in about 20 minutes this morning. It will go into the freezer, and then later this week, all I have to do is thaw, heat, and serve over egg noodles. Mashed potatoes work too.

Sirloin and Mushrooms in Gravy

3/4lb. sirloin, cut into small bite size pieces ($2.50)
10 oz. container white button mushrooms, sliced ($1.00)
1/2 onion, chopped (.15)
2T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (.10)
salt and pepper
1T worcestershire sauce
1T sherry
1 jar beef gravy (.50 after coupons and holiday sales- I stocked up)
3T chopped fresh parsley (optional but adds a lot) (.15)

In large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, mushroom and garlic, and saute, about 4 minutes, until onions are translucent. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper here. Add sirloin, and continue cooking until beef is no longer pink. Add gravy, worcestershire, sherry and parsley, and heat through. Serve over egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

With egg noodles, this dish comes in right around $5.00 for me. Easy and economical for a beef dinner!

****This post is linked to Simple Saturday

Have I showed you my early Christmas Present?

Isn't she pretty?!?!?!?! I have been seriously drooling over these for years. In fact, I generally have strayed away from recipes calling for a mixer because I disliked mine so much. So hubby surprised me early, figuring (correctly) that this could get a LOT of use over the holidays!!

He did his homework, and got me the 600, at a better price than I've seen anywhere, and I got a ton of attachements: can opener, food grinder, shredder/grater, pasta plates, plus the pasta roller and cutters.

I've used the mixer several times for cookies/cakes/mashed potatoes, etc...and I've started using the attachments. I feel a little silly about the can opener. I love the convenience of an electric can opener, but I never liked having one on the counter, so I've always used a hand opener. This gives me the best of both worlds, because it stores in the drawer when I'm not using it. The graters are GREAT for cheese, and I've been able to do large amounts in just a short period of time.

This weekend I start playing with the pasta roller. I've been told it's best to just have a few trial runs that you don't plan to eat so you can figure it out, so I'll be doing that this weekend.

I'm also going to make my first attempt at pizza dough this weekend. Wish me luck :)

I am on record in this blog as saying I'll probably never be someone that makes all my own bread. I still think that might be the case, but the mixer has me thinking about making some bread at least a little more often.

I am amazed at how one appliance can radically impact your time in the kitchen. If you've been like me and been thinking about this, I can tell you I have no regrets...only that I didn't get it sooner!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The tree


I took this yesterday morning at 4am when I came down the stairs and discovered hubby left the lcd's on overnight. It was pretty breathtaking in the dark quiet house at such an early hour.