Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Week of (Healthy) Bare-Bones Meals

Today's day five in my week of super-frugal recipes. You'll notice I don't use much meat this week. It's much less expensive to eat a plant-based diet. Therefore, my frugal tip for today:

Frugal Tip #5: Treat meat as a side dish or a tasty addition to a meal, not the main course.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to cut your grocery budget, rethink your meat & potatoes approach. Even if it's what you've been doing your whole life, you can change now, and so can your spouse and/or children.

Today's meal uses up some of the scraps of foods leftover from other days. I encourage you to switch things up a bit with whatever you have around.

I don't have a recipe for you; just a set of instructions. Open up a bag of tortillas (flour, hopefully whole wheat). Spoon on any leftover beans and vegetables you have. Maybe you have some salsa and cheese in the fridge. If you don't, I suggest adding chili powder, salt, pepper, and garlic to the beans before heating them up. Anyway, you're making a leftovers burrito. It's easy, it's practically free, and it's tasty. As a matter of fact, I have a sixth frugal tip for you today:

Frugal Tip #6: PLAN to USE your LEFTOVERS.

Don't waste food. Plan to use them. Leftovers don't have to be the same dish just warmed over. Take your leftovers and transform them. Chicken becomes chicken soup and chicken burgers. Beans become Mexican pizzas and bean burritos. Change it up a bit. Add new spices. Make a main dish into a salad. Be creative.

And enjoy your quick and easy lunch. :)

Here, I've taken a whole wheat tortilla and stuffed it with my beans (leftover from Mexican Pizza), lettuce, and tomato. Filling, nutritious, and easy!

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Week of (Healthy) Bare-Bones Meals: Day 4

Welcome, Tuesday Tag-Along friends and welcome to all of my wonderful readers. :)

Today's day 4 in my week of meals that cost very little but provide lots of taste and nutrition. On today's menu: a sandwich that uses up the leftover chicken from the past two days' menus.

Day 4

Breakfast: scrambled eggs & biscuits with jam
Lunch: Leftover Fried Rice or Soup
Dinner: Chicken Burgers on Soft Rolls with Lettuce, Tomato, and Onion

Chicken Burgers on Soft Rolls
Makes 6 chicken burgers and 16 rolls

What You Need:
  • 1 lb cooked, boneless, skinless chicken
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups bread crumbs (just toss the heels of your homemade bread into the food processor for this)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (or 1 tsp garlic powder, if that's cheaper or easier to get)
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 1 Tbsp oil plus more for cooking
  • rolls for serving (recipe follows)
How it's Done:
  1. Combine chicken, eggs, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, and 1 Tbsp oil in your food processor or blender. Process until smooth, adding tiny bits of water if needed.
  2. Form the mixture into 6 patties.
  3. Fry in oil over medium heat for 2 or 3 minutes per side. They're already almost completely cooked -- you just need to heat them up completely and brown both sides.
  4. Serve on rolls with your choice of toppings.
Yummy, Cheap, and Easy SOFT Rolls for Sandwiches

What You Need:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar (I used honey, but for cost purposes, I'm listing sugar. Use honey if you have it.)
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp honey or sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 tsp sea salt
How it's Done:
  1. Heat milk on stove or in microwave until steaming (about 4 minutes in microwave for me). Add oil and 1/4 cup sugar or honey. Let this cool down.
  2. Meanwhile, combine yeast with 1 tsp honey or sugar AND 1/4 cup warm water in a large mixing bowl. I used my KitchenAid stand mixer. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. After 10 minutes, pour the milk mixture into the large mixing bowl. Turn beater on or stir by hand. Add 2 cups of flour and 1 tsp salt. Stir briskly 2 minutes. Then, let this sponge sit undisturbed for 10 minutes.
  4. Now, add in 3 cups of flour, slowly, beating all the time. You want to form a soft, smooth dough. Add additional flour as needed.
  5. Knead for five to eight minutes on a lightly floured surface.
  6. Move the dough to a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour.
  7. Punch the dough down and divide into 16 roughly equal bits. Roll out into ropes, then spiral them around themselves like snail shells, pinching the ends securely. Cover and let rise 30 minutes.
  8. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden in color.
  9. Brush with melted butter if desired.
Frugal Tip #4: Use your time and energy wisely. Why make only 6 buns for one meal, when you can make 16 and use the rest over the next few days? Baking in large batches saves time, effort, and energy cost.
Who says livin' cheap has to mean eatin' junk?

This post linked to:
Tuesday Tag-Along

Menu Plan Monday 6/28 - 7/4

Wow! This week's sped right by so quickly I'm feeling a little dizzy! Looking forward to the next seven days, there's no respite in sight. We're a month away from school starting, so that means eye exams, hearing exams, shopping for clothes (one in uniforms, the other not), attending Sneak Peek days at two schools (one in elementary school and the other starting middle school), hair cuts, orthodontist visits, grandparent visits, and family fun days galore! Plus, this weekend it's Independence Day -- a favorite holiday of mine.

If you're new here, why not look around? You might just find something you like. I'm in the middle of a week of bare bones, but healthy, recipes, complete with pictures and money-saving tips.

Here's what I hope to make this week:

Breakfast: toast with jam & yogurt
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Bean Burritos on homemade tortillas

Breakfast: toast with gravy & oranges
Lunch: egg salad sandwiches & corn puffs
Dinner: Chicken Burgers & lots of veggies

breakfast & lunch unknown - shopping day, so I will plan as I go
Dinner: Crock Pot Corn Chowder

Breakfast: Peanut Butter & Jelly French Toast
Lunch: unknown, hair appointment
Dinner: Chicken Pizza

Breakfast: Baked Donuts & Juice
Lunch: Fried Egg Sandwiches
Dinner: Meatball Sandwiches with Cole Slaw and Beans

Breakfast: whatever's leftover
Lunch & Dinner @ our 4th of July celebration (for some reason, held on the 3rd!)

Breakfast: Strawberry & Blueberry Pancakes
Lunch: Bacon & Blue Cheese Burgers, Grilled Potato Skins, & Fruit Salad
Dinner: Appetizer Spread & Desserts

As for my garden, it's doing well. Look at what we harvested last week:

For more menu plans, visit orgjunkie.com today.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Week of (Healthy) Bare-Bones Meals

It's day 3 in my week of bare-bones meals. I want to take a minute to talk to you about something I see a lot of people do that wastes quite a large percentage of money. So here's today's frugal tip:

Frugal Tip #3: Learn to buy, cook, and use dried beans.

Now, hold on. I can hear the groans already. But you're looking to cut your grocery dollar, aren't you? Then why is it that you keep spending 75% MORE on the same foods? Dried beans average $1 per pound. One pound of dried beans is equal to four cans of beans. One can of beans costs around $1. So why are you paying $4 for the same food you could be paying $1 for?

What? You don't want to heat up your house, you say? Worried about energy use, you say? Dump them in your slow cooker, cover with lots of water, and let them cook overnight while you sleep. No kitchen heat, less energy. Big savings.

Oh, and guess what! Beans cooked from dry taste so much better than canned beans. It's true. Not only are you wasting your money, you're also hindering your recipes. Yup. Try it. Cook your beans from dry.

On to today's meal plan:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar
Lunch: Chicken Soup from leftover chicken carcass (SAVE the rest of the chicken for tomorrow's meal, though)
Dinner: Mexican Pizzas (recipe follows)

Mexican Pizza
Serves 4

What You Need:
  • 8 corn tortillas (make them yourself if you have a press)
  • 2 cups cooked, rinsed, and drained beans (any type will do -- I used small red beans)
  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • 2 to 4 peppers (whatever's on sale or cheapest -- I used bell and sweet banana peppers from my garden) 
  • 1/2 a large onion
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 green onion, chopped
How it's Done:
  1. Cook your beans. Save half for another recipe. Of the remaining two cups, place 1/2 cup in a food processor or blender with 1/4 cup water and puree to make "refried" beans. Set aside.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion and peppers and tomato. Stir until the vegetables are soft. Add chili powder and remove from heat.
  3. Heat the other 2 Tbsp oil in a separate skillet. Fry the tortillas, cooking 30 seconds per side. Remove to drain.
  4. Assemble the pizzas like this: place a tortilla on a plate. Spread with some refried beans. Top with a second tortilla. Spoon the bean & pepper mix on top. Sprinkle with cheese and green onion. Serve right away.

Bites Around the Blogosphere..and an Award!

Happy Sunday to you all! I hope today finds you refreshed for a wonderful week ahead! I have lots planned for this week, including school shopping, hair cuts, and the big monthly grocery shop. I'll be continuing my bare bones series and dishing up some fantastic treats. Plus, I'll be announcing another giveaway soon. :)

In the meantime, pull up a chair and check out some of the posts that have piqued my interest this week. Then, scroll down and see my newest award. :)

April at Angel Foods Kitchen gave me the Versatile Blogger Award! and check out her cute apple pies! Thank you, April! :)

Angie at Angie's Healthy Living Blog made meatless "meatballs" that look delicious.

Check out this Linguine with Bacon, Spinach, and Sage at Finding Joy in my Kitchen. YUM!

Cool down with Haniela's Coffee Granita

Mandy from Mandy's Recipe Box asked me to Guest Post, and I was happy to do it. :) Check out her Baked Potato Wedges with Parma Dip.

Check out Mare's Refried Black Beans with Avocado & Fried Egg and Jicama-Cucumber Slaw at Meet Me in the Kitchen. Wow!

Fat-free Blackberry Frozen Yogurt at Neo Homesteading has my mouth watering.

Go and see the recipe for Pea, Parsley, and Walnut Pesto at Pink of Perfection. It's a frugal masterpiece!

OH MY...Michelle at Real Life Foodie Adventures has captured my attention with her Chai Spice Cookies.

Feel badly about indulging in too many sweets, but still need something sweet? Check out this milkshake recipe at The Fat Girl's Guide to Living.

The Spinach and Ricotta Pasta by Liana at Tomatoes and Basil looks scrumptious!

The Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle Cookies by Allyson at Wee Veg look like the perfect lunchbox or after school treat. Yes, I'm already thinking about school, since it starts back up in just over a month. :)

What Megan's Making is a blog I check in on regularly. There's a recipe for Sugar Cookie Bars that are perfect for when you have a house full of children this summer. Turns out, it's a guest post, so check out Fake Ginger, written by Amanda. I know I will!

And now, for my latest award. Thank you so much, Yenta Mary at Food Floozie, for bestowing this honor on me. Everyone, go check out her blog for some lovely eats. I recommend you start with her Peanut Butter Pie. Go for the recipes, but stay for the wit and humor that abounds.

On to the guidelines for this lovely award.

1. Accept your award. :o)

2. Post the award image to your blog (right click, save as on the image) and leave a link back to me. ;)

3. Pass this award on to seven more bloggers deserving of a good Sunday back-pat. Don't forget to let them know they've received an award!

Only seven? Ick. I hate choosing amongst friends. However, in the spirit of the award, it wouldn't be fair if I didn't, so here goes...

  1. Brae at I am NOT a Volcano and Other Such Stories is working very hard right now. She's growing a human in addition to all her other baby human responsibilities and more. She hasn't been around much lately, owing to first trimester woes, but I hope she knows her blog is loved by many. :)
  2.  Shannon at What's For Lunch at Our House blogs about bento lunches. Her creativity and dedication to fun, healthful lunches for her family earns her this award.
  3. Michelle at Girl Gone Granola is raising her kids naturally, growing chickens and gardens and happiness.
  4. Andrea the Kitchen Witch strives to keep unnatural "foods" out of the bellies of her family. I know it's not always easy, since it's my goal as well.
  5. Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom blogs about food, family, great deals, and more.
  6. Joy from Joy of Desserts has such a welcoming demeanor that comes through on her blog...and I'm sure in her home as well.
  7. And finally, Heather at Out of the Box Into the Kitchen. I've spoken of her before, I know, but it's true! She's spectacular. Down to earth and on the same mission as me: eliminating the junk!
Come on back later for day 3 of A Week of (Healthy) Bare-Bones Meals.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hot Outside? Time for Ice Cream!

Head on over to Mandy's Recipe Box where you'll find me talking about three different frozen treats to keep you cool this summer. :)

A Week of (Healthy) Bare-Bones Meals: Day Two

One of the key ingredients to make it through a food hardship is variety. I've seen many blogs and websites geared toward bare-bones recipes, but they all seem to focus on the same ingredients, with little variation from day to day. A big part of surviving hard times with your sanity intact is having variety and feeling like you have choices. You aren't going to be very happy eating Ramen-style noodles, oat porridge, and beans everyday, are you? You need variety. It will make you feel better, both physically and mentally.

Variety doesn't have to mean buying more ingredients. It can be as simple as changing the way you present them or the way you use them. Take flour, milk, and eggs, for example. You can turn them into egg noodles, muffins, breads, pancakes, or popovers. All different. All the same. See how that works? Take this new trick and make this delicious, pretty, fun to eat breakfast that costs very little to throw together.

Day Two

Breakfast: Popovers with Eggs & Cheese (recipe follows)
Lunch: Leftover Vegetable Fried Rice
Dinner: Roast chicken, rice, and carrots, yeast rolls with butter or margarine

Popovers Stuffed with Eggs & Cheese
serves 8

What You Need:

for the popovers:
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp melted butter or margarine (or cooking oil)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • cooking oil for greasing pan
for the egg filling:
  • 8 eggs
  • splash of milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • butter, margarine, or cooking oil for the pan
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese (shredded) & 1 green onion, chopped, for garnish
How it's Done:
  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Stick your muffin tin(s) or popover pan(s) in the oven to warm up.
  2. Mix all the ingredients except greasing oil in a blender. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. Remove pan(s) from the oven and oil them well. Pour batter into the pan(s) to 3/4 full.
  4. Bake at 450 for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes.Popovers will be high, hollow, and golden brown when done.
  5. After reducing the heat, beat the eggs with milk and salt and pepper for the filling. Cook in a hot skillet until done. Sprinkle with cheese and green onions.
  6. Cut them open as soon as you remove them. This is to allow steam to escape. Cut the tops off almost all the way. Fill with the eggs, cheese, and green onions. You can add some cooked leftover vegetables if you have them for even more nutrition and variety.

Frugal Tip #2: Buy some things in bulk. Namely, cheese, eggs, and baking supplies. Buying cheese in large bricks, then slicing or shredding at home saves money and takes very little time. Always check unit cost, but bulk buying gives your money more power.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Week of (Healthy) Bare-Bones Meals

Last week, I talked about ways to get by during food hardship periods. This week, I'm going to practice what I preach. I'm going to show you a week of rock-bottom recipes that you can pull out of your reservoir in hard times. Each day, I'll give you one recipe, along with a basic meal plan. I am not a dietitian, a doctor, or a financial expert. I'm just a gal with a kitchen, a computer, and a knack for saving a few bucks. Your mileage may vary.

Day One

Breakfast: oatmeal made with a banana and milk, not water
Lunch: peanut butter & jam on wheat bread & an apple
Dinner: vegetable fried rice

Recipe: Vegetable Fried Rice

This isn't so much a recipe as a basic set of instructions. What you include will depend on what you have. It's a forgiving recipe, so amounts are not exact. use what you have.

What You Need:
  • 1 1/2 cups raw rice (at least use brown rice -- mine was a mix of brown & wild rices)
  • 1/4 cup oil (I used olive, because I had it. use what you can afford and what you have on hand)
  • 5 cups chopped vegetables (cabbage, carrots, onions, green onions, and peas are all cheap. I added green bell pepper, banana pepper, both from my garden)
  • soy sauce to taste
  • if you have it, fresh ginger is great. 2 Tbsp minced is enough (I will not count this in my grocery list at the end of the week)
How it's Done:
  1. Cook the rice according to directions. Let it cool slightly before using it.
  2. In a large skillet, heat half of the oil. Cook the vegetables in the oil until crisp-tender. remove them to a platter.
  3. Add the remainder of the oil and fry the rice until it's browned a bit and smells nutty. Add the vegetables back in and stir-fry the food, adding soy sauce to taste.
  4. Serve right away. This recipe makes a large amount, perfect for lunches throughout the week.

Frugal Tip #1: Plan meals that use similar ingredients. If you plan for 4 meals that use rice, you only need to buy one package of rice. That will cut your grocery bill significantly.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

How to Host a Dinner Party

How to Host a Worry-Free Dinner Party

courtesy of All Home Cooking. All Year Long., Buitoni Riserva Pastas & Sauces, & FoodBuzz

  1. Prepare. Invite guests. Plan a menu based on the number of guests, your chosen theme, and your time constraints. Be sure to choose an appropriate number of hot and cold appetizers, beverages, main courses and salads, and desserts. A theme makes this easier, as it gives you a place to start and keeps you on track throughout decorating, choosing menu items, and choosing music.
  2. Be everywhere all at once. Be the cook, the server, the cleaning crew, and the enchanting, charming hostess. Stay clean, stay fresh, and stay on the ball. Remember, you're doing it all alone, but you must make it look easy!
  3. Serve delicious foods right on time to a fawning crowd of appreciative diners.Keep smiling like it's effortless.
Before you throw your frying pan at my head, read on. Dinner parties can be home-prepared AND easy. Really! Thanks to Buitoni, I was able to single-handedly pull off a dinner for ten people without being frazzled, frustrated, and feeling left out of the fun. Here's how I did it:

I picked my theme. I knew my dinner would focus on Buitoni Riserva Pastas & Sauces, so I went for a charming, homey Italian dinner. I decorated in red and white and had Italian music playing softly in the background. I served on white plates.

I planned my menu. I chose a variety of foods I could either prepare ahead or that went together effortlessly minutes before serving. Here was my menu:
  • A platter filled with marinated cherry peppers, kalamata olives, hot peppers, and bruschetta -- I bought the peppers and olives. The bruschetta I made from scratch. It took 15 minutes thanks to some prior planning and preparations.
  • Toasted Buitoni Riserva Wild Mushroom Agnolotti: These took 15 minutes to fry.
  • Pasta & Salad for the main course: I chose Buitoni Riserva Chicken 7 Four Cheese Ravioli with Alfredo Sauce, alongside the Spicy Beef & Sausage Ravioli with Marinara Sauce. I chose the Quattro Formaggi Agnolotti, with both sauces, for the vegetarians in my party. Keeping with the red & white theme, I served a stacked tomato-mozzarella salad drizzled with olive oil. The pairing was beautiful and delicious. Using prepared pastas and sauces makes a dinner party come together with simplicity and ease. Using prepared items doesn't have to mean sacrificing flavor, value, or quality. Buitoni pastas are high-quality, high-flavor, good value items. The ingredients lists contain all items I recognize and am comfortable serving. The pastas are stuffed to the gills with delicious fillings, allowing you to taste everything in them, unlike other ravioli products that have only a tiny bit of filling. The flavor combinations are unexpected, both simple and complex at the same time. A dance for your taste buds.
  • For dessert, an assortment of classic yummies: cheesecake, tiramisu, cannoli, and strawberries with strawberry-pecan cream. Again, prior planning and preparations minimized kitchen time when I would rather be mingling with guests.
I served my guests. Since Buitoni did part of the work, and most of the rest was done ahead of time, I was free to have fun with my friends and family. Easy as a pizza pie. ;)

Thank you, Buitoni and FoodBuzz, for this unique opportunity. It was amazing.

Toasted Buitoni Wild Mushroom Agnolotti. Simple to make. Just dip them in egg, then Italian breadcrumbs. Fry in hot oil 3 minutes. Drain. Serve with Marinara Sauce. This was a favorite among guests. The agnolotti is absolutely stuffed with pieces of mushroom. The aroma is excellent and the flavor is mouth-watering. Perfect!

Appetizer platter with cherry peppers, hot peppers, olives, and bruschetta

These cute tomato dishes from Pier One made the perfect server for my Pesto Bruschetta. To make this appetizer, simply slice a baguette into 3/4" slices and toast under the broiler until crispy. Top with pesto (either homemade or prepared)m sliced, seeded tomato, and fresh mozzarella. Place back under the broiler for a minute or two to melt the cheese.

Want a salad that looks great, tastes great, and goes well with red & white pasta? Try this simple tomato stack. Simply slice a ruby red tomato. Alternate tomato, fresh mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. Drizzle with olive oil and serve! It's eye-catching, fresh, and delicious, but simple enough so as to complement, not overpower, the main dish. Bonus points: It uses the same cheese as the appetizer, cutting your entertaining costs a little bit.

The main course. For our vegetarian guests, Quattro Formaggi Agnolotti in place of the Chicken & Four Cheese and Spicy Beef & Sausage Ravioli. Both groups were served this way, with red & white next to one another. It made a stunning presentation and was gobbled up quicker than I could snap pictures!

The pasta & salad together. A stunning presentation of red, white, and green, don't you think? The flavors worked wonders together. Simple red & white place mats and white cloth napkins kept the mood casual and inviting.
Strawberries & Cream. The cream is simply cream cheese, sugar, strawberries, and pecans blended together.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

A crust of rich chocolate on the tiramisu

Tiramisu. Yum!

*note: I was compensated for my efforts and provided with free Buitoni Riserva pastas and sauces. However, that in no way impacted my opinions, nor was I, at any time, told what to write. My opinions are genuine and completely my own.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Where Have I Been?

Oops! I missed two days of blogging! Sorry for the absence. I was here:

Providence Canyon in Lumpkin, Georgia. What a view!

We were the first people on the trail that morning. It wasn't too hot, but it sure was humid. We hiked to the canyon floor and explored for a few hours.

It was so much fun romping through the woods, splashing in puddles and observing nature with my sister. In the end, I was hot and sweaty and dirty and tired. But it was more than worth the discomfort. And the ruined sneakers. It was a memorable day spent with the sister I don't spend enough time hanging out with -- and I hope I get to do it again soon.

Me. Hot. Sweaty. Having the time of my life. :)

I've also been cooking and decorating and planning for a dinner party, which I'll share with you within the next couple of days. Italian food and good company: What could be better? For now, it's after suppertime. Would you like some dessert? My Picky Eater and I threw this together today. We hope you enjoy it. See you tomorrow!

More Than Oats Bars
Because they started out as oat bars. But we added to them.

What You Need:
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or other nut)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
How it's Done:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x11" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Beat butter with sugars until creamy. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions. Add vanilla and beat to incorporate.
  3. Stir together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add to batter and beat until it's all blended in. Stir in the rest of the ingredients: the wheat germ, the oats, the coconut, the walnuts, and the chocolate chips.
  4. Spread the dough into the prepared pan. Press it down with the palms of your hands to even it out.
  5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until a pick inserted near center comes out clean. The top will be a golden brown.
  6. Let cool for 20 minutes or so before cutting into squares and serving.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I made corn tortillas today!

...and it was easy!


Wow! Have I really been at this venture for 170 days?

Anyway, yes, I made corn tortillas. I thought it would be an intimidating process, but it was very easy. Here are the steps I took. Tomorrow, I'll tell you about the enchiladas I made with them.

What you need: Maseca Masa, some salt, some water, a tortilla press, a skillet, and a turner.

First, you combine 2 cups of masa, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1 1/4 cups water and stir it up until the water's all soaked in and the masa is a nice soft dough reminiscent of moon sand...only less gritty.

Then, you divide the dough into sixteen even-ish pieces.

...and cover them with a damp cloth to keep them from drying out while you work.

You place a ball of dough between two GREASED pieces of plastic wrap...

...and you press it flat.

The dough gets cooked for a minute per side on a dry skillet over medium-high heat.

And here's your reward. Store them covered if you won't use them right away.

They smell wonderfully sweet -- nothing at all like the bitter-smelling store-bought type, which makes me wonder if the store-bought type might have gone rancid by the time they arrive in our homes.
Anyway, I'll never go back now. Nothing beats homemade. Now, I can add corn tortillas to my list of things I no longer buy from the store.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Nicknames and Dogs

Day 169.

How many names does your dog (cat, ferret, gerbil, toad, parrot, gecko, turtle) have?

My Chihuahua's name is Diego. But he answers to Diego, Digger, Digger Do, Lil Cheech, Yowie Wowie, Angel Food Cake, Do Dah Day, and Pound Cake.

Pound Cake was a result of weight gain, so we could no longer call him Angel Food Cake. He gets called Pound Cake when his weight is too high, and Angel Food Cake when he loses his exess. And sometimes he gets called Angel Pound Cake.

He was a stray, too, so Pound Cake has a dual meaning.

Today, I was puttering in the kitchen, trying to decide on a dessert for tonight. I decided to make a pound cake. I told my husband.

And Diego came running.

Does anyone else give their pets more than one name, or is it just my nutty crew?

Enjoy dessert!

Chocolate Pecan Pound Cake

What You Need:
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 cup unsalted sweet cream butter at room temperature
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 6 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (full fat is better for the cake, but use what you have)
How it's Done:
  1. Grease and flour a Bundt pan. Sprinkle the pecans evenly over the bottom of the pan. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cocoa, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well in between additions. Add the vanilla extract.
  5. Now, alternate adding in the yogurt and the flour mixture. Beat well, scraping the bowl down as you do.
  6. Pour batter over the nuts in the Bundt pan.
  7. Bake until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. This can take anywhere from 70 to 90 minutes.
  8. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes or so before inverting onto a plate.
  9. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar, or make a glaze with milk and powdered sugar to drizzle on top.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Step Into My Office...

Day 168.

Sometimes, it's nice to see where a person works. Here's where I do my best work:

My Army-issued kitchen. One of the nicer ones I've had so far in life.

Badly organized pantry. This is how it usually looks. You didn't catch me on a bad day. I just don't keep it organized.

The doors of my fridge & freezer

The inside of my fridge. Note the frugal items: half-consumed glass of milk, margarine tub that holds shredded cheese, monster jar of pickles.

My beloved Cutco knives. You can tell I use them a lot since half of them aren't in place! Bananas: ripest one on top so it's grabbed first. In the front: a bowl of fresh picked produce from the garden.

Dinner tonight: A test-run of some Buitoni Riserva pasta I'm serving at a FoodBuzz dinner party soon.

Where I spend most of my kitchen time. The dishwasher gets used twice a day. This is my favorite "station". Salad being prepped for dinner. Brita pitcher filtering nasty tap water.

Extra storage for all of my contraptions: one of my slow cookers, a deep fryer, waffle iron, rotisserie, mini prep, quesadilla maker, iron, cherry pitter, tortilla press, blender, air popper, and popsicle maker. Not all of my kitchen toys are here.

My two favorite kitchen appliances, hands down.

Lest you think my kitchen is so pretty and perfect, here is my cabinet.

My downstairs is all Americana decor. Lots of red white and blue everywhere.

So there you have it. That's where I do all my cooking...for now, at least. Until the Army moves us into another home with another kitchen and its own set of limitations and benefits. For now, I have to get going. My sister is visiting and I need to lay the smackdown on her in Scrabble.

*NEW!* Stay current on what's cooking!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


Related Posts with Thumbnails