Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fascinating Spice Information!

This post on how long spices really last and how to find spices less expensively is well worth the read. There is also a link to making your own spice mixes.

I've got 4 little "baskets" full of jars of spices in my kitchen cabinets right now. The only "blend" I buy is lemon pepper. It's easy enough to blend my own for other seasoning mixes--and I just save my old spice jars to hold them. An old oregano or basil jar is great for Italian seasoning. When a cinnamon jar is almost empty, I fill it halfway with sugar and have one of the kids shake it up. Instant cinnamon-sugar for topping waffles or muffins!

Spices are pricey, so any little way I can save on them sounds good to me (here's one that wasn't mentioned: buy it in bulk and share with a neighbor!)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pasta For a Crowd

Last night Big Brother's cross-country team gathered here for a pre-race pasta dinner. I was making baked ziti and spaghetti and meatballs for 20 runners.

I used my 18-quart Nesco roaster (not as nice as the one pictured above--mine is an older model, in white. But it works great, so I won't complain!)

I was able to get 4 pounds of cooked pasta into the 18-qt with plenty of room to spare. There was lots of baked ziti for all. With this I used about 4 quarts of homemade spaghetti sauce, 2 15-oz tubs of ricotta, and 2 8-oz bags of shredded Italian-blend cheese.

I put the hot pasta right into the cookwell that was heating to 225, with a little sauce on the bottom first. Mixed in the sauce and cheese, lined the sides with lasagna noodles (2 rows) and covered. I only stirred once or twice in about 1 1/2 hour of cooking at around 225. It was nice and hot, not dried out at all.

One of the hungry runners told Big Brother that his mom is an awesome chef. We didn't wind up with 20 kids, but if word gets around that I fed them well, we may have more than 20 next time. I'm glad they enjoyed the dinner.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Menu Plan for September 22-28

Looking back on last week, we did OK with the plan until the weekend. Then it all went off the plan. Thursday I tried a new salmon dish that I won't even post--it was NOT a hit (and I followed the directions to the letter). Since I can't figure out how to cure it, and salmon is too expensive to ruin more than once, that was the end of that! Friday we had the Hoisin-Molasses Pork. Saturday I made some Wendy's Copycat Chili. Sunday we had Chicken Parmesan with pasta.

On tap for this week...TheDad "may or may not" be here on any given evening, depending on how things go with his dad's surgery today. It's hard to know what to plan, so this plan may go completely out the window as the week goes on. But here's where I'm going to start.

MONDAY: Chicken & dumplings

TUESDAY: Chicken piccata

WEDNESDAY: Pot roast

THURSDAY: Hash-brown quiche (on recommendation of Barbara at Bless Us, O Lord)

FRIDAY: Pasta party for Big Brother's cross-country team. Pasta for 20 teenagers!! Baked ziti, spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread and plain bread, salad and dessert.

SATURDAY: Luau chicken on the grill (never had this last week)

SUNDAY: Fajitas (never had this last week)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Menu Plan week of September 15, 2008

Last week we did pretty well, sticking to the plan until the weekend. FRIDAY we had Linguine with Shrimp and Scallops and SATURDAY we joined our in-laws for pizza.

MONDAY: Chicken Chili Blanco with salad and tortilla chips

TUESDAY: Chicken lo mein

WEDNESDAY: Hoisin-molasses roast pork, roasted potatoes, vegetables

THURSDAY: Spaghetti and meatballs

FRIDAY: Homemade pizza

SATURDAY: Beef fajitas (never had these last week)

SUNDAY: Luau Chicken on the grill

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Linguine with Shrimp and Scallops--quick and easy!

If you buy the individually-quick-frozen scallops and cooked shrimp, and defrost the seafood in cold water, this dinner is done in the time it takes to cook your pasta!

This is an original recipe--my own!

1/2 lb EACH bay scallops and cooked shrimp (tails off)
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
1/4 cup white wine
olive oil for the pan
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp oregano
pinch red pepper flakes

Heat oil in pan and cook garlic for 2 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients EXCEPT scallops and shrimp. When sauce comes to a boil, add seafood and cook just until it is heated through.
Serve over linguine.

Friday, September 12, 2008


I love trying new kitchen gadgets. I love it even more when they work as promised! So I was happy to be asked to review the Absorb-Ease from Intromark.

Basically, this is a way to drain a greasy pan without dripping grease down your sink or aiming for an old can (and winding up dripping most of it down the sink). You just choose the right size Absorb-Ease pad and hold it into the pan, and it sucks up all that cooking grease, leaving you with nothing in the pan but your food.


From the manufacturer's press release:
Intromark Incorporated introduces the "Absorbease," a
disposable sponge-like pad that absorbs grease after cooking.

The product, featured on QVC, is a sponge-like pad that is a quarter-inch thick, and is designed to collect large or small amounts of grease during cooking. The "Absorbease" can be placed directly in the cooking pan over the grease - just simply lay the pad down and it will absorb all of the grease in the pan. Once finished, it can be thrown in the garbage, avoiding the usually messy disposal of grease.

The product consists of a 7x7 inch pad that features two layers. The inside layer is made of a grease-absorbing material, while the outside layer consists of a grease permeable material that will trap the grease inside the pad. The "Absorbease" provides an alternative to dumping the grease down the drain, which causes plumbing problems. It also prevents outdoor disposal, making it environmentally friendly. Suggested retail price: $17.33 for a 64-count pack.

The product website says that these are also handy for cleaning up liquid spills. I haven't tried that yet, but surely odds are good that someone around here will spill something soon, and then we'll test it out!

**I received no compensation for this review.**

Sunday, September 07, 2008

MENU PLAN for September 8-14

How did we do last week? Well, we wound up having unexpected company on WEDNESDAY so I switched the planned dinner to Chicken Marsala. On FRIDAY we had homemade pizza (again, we had guests, so I needed something I could "expand.") On SATURDAY I made a roast chicken, so the Mexican Steak was pushed to today.

MONDAY: Cajun Chicken Strips (new recipe) alfredo noodles, broccoli

TUESDAY: Teriyaki pork, rice, green beans

WEDNESDAY: Chicken piccata, roasted potatoes, vegetable of some kind

THURSDAY: Spaghetti

FRIDAY: homemade pizza

SATURDAY: Beef fajitas

SUNDAY: Easy Chicken Puffs (new recipe)

Monday, September 01, 2008

Menu Plan for September 1-7, 2008

First of all, we never had those shrimp and scallops last week. We'll be trying them soon though.

MONDAY 1: Visiting friends for a cookout. We're bringing Portuguese Easter Bread, Dr. Pepper Baked Beans, and brownies.

TUESDAY 2: Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes

WEDNESDAY 3: Hawaiian Chicken with pineapple; jasmine rice

THURSDAY 4: Spaghetti (time to make the big batch)

FRIDAY 5: Baked flounder

SATURDAY 6: Mexican Steak on the grill

SUNDAY 7: Beef fajitas


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...