Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: Mix in the Jar!

Here's a tip I learned on the Food Network show Quick Fix Meals.

When you're making a sauce or dressing, and the jar containing one of the ingredients is nearly empty, use that jar instead of a mixing bowl. Just put all the other ingredients into the jar, close the lid tightly and shake.

This also works if you use jarred soup bases to make broth. When the jar is almost empty, pour a cup of boiling water right into the jar. This way you won't waste a bit!

Thrifty Thursdays is featured at Amanda's Cookin' each week.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Menu Plan February 22 - 28, 2009

SUNDAY: Pork with Spanish rice, corn muffins

MONDAY: Beef paysanne with noodles, broccoli

TUESDAY: Honey mustard chicken, orzo with garlic and onions, mixed vegetables

WEDNESDAY: our traditional Ash Wednesday meal: grilled cheese sandwiches and clam chowder. Yikes, I just discovered that someone has been into the American cheese--I'll have to hit the supermarket tomorrow.

THURSDAY: Spaghetti

FRIDAY: Baked flounder, Alfredo noodles, green beans

SATURDAY: Takeout for the kids; TheDad and I are going to a Beef & Beer that supports a local charity. In my case, it will be a Beef & Soda!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Go Meatless!

Next week Lent begins, so it's time to start thinking about meatless meals.

I do try to serve a meatless meal on Fridays anyway, but in Lent it's non-negotiable.

The Faith & Family bloggers are compiling some Lenten menus. This roundup is my contribution. With the exception of ONE recipe that I have not yet tried, all of these are tried and true and a regular part of my family's dinner plan. Yes, my kids eat fish. Actually, they love fish. But not all of these are fish recipes, so if fish is not going to be on your table for whatever reason, you can still find plenty of options here.

Pasta with marinara sauce (add shrimp or scallops if you like)

Cheese ravioli with marinara sauce

Cheese-and-salsa quesadillas

Grilled cheese sandwiches with soup (tomato or clam chowder)

"Vegetarian Flips"--like a quesadilla, but add some refried beans and salsa

Baked fish

Teriyaki salmon (Easiest way EVER to make salmon!)

Spanish Garlic Shrimp


Veggie calzones (this is a recipe I intend to try soon. You can fill these with just about anything! I'm planning on peppers, onions, cheese and marinara.)

Saffron risotto with shrimp

Shrimp fried rice

Potato and cheese pierogi

Salmon burgers

Homemade macaroni and cheese

Arroz con habichuelas (great with quesadillas or tomato soup)

Pasta e fagioli (you can make this with vegetable stock instead of chicken broth!)

And there's always the "breakfast for dinner" option. French toast and fresh fruit make a nice change of pace.

Wishing you a blessed Lent!

Menu Plan week of February 15 - 21

On Valentine's Day we ate Chicken Divan, since we went to 5:00 Mass and there was no way I could make a roast.

SUNDAY: Belated Valentine's Day dinner: filet mignon roast, baked potato/yam, green beans.

MONDAY: Italian Veal Stew with linguine.

TUESDAY: Apricot-Glazed Pork Tenderloin, rice, mixed vegetables

WEDNESDAY: Cajun Chicken Strips, hashbrown casserole

THURSDAY: Spaghetti

FRIDAY: Eat on the road!

SATURDAY: dinner at my uncle's

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Cookbook Contest

The How To Cook Like Your Grandmother blog is hosting a contest! The prize: the ILLUSTRATED edition of the cookbook of the same name.

I have the non-illustrated edition and it's great. Adding pictures is the icing on the cake!

Go here to find out how to enter. Three lucky winners will receive a copy of the cookbook--well worth the purchase price, illustrated or not.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

More on the Sourdough

I made some more sourdough bread today. I did divide it into 2 loaves and after about 45 minutes they were already at the top of the bread pans. BUT then my husband wanted to go out to dinner (surprise!) and to leave NOW. So I put some oiled plastic wrap over the bread and slid the pans (carefully!) into the refrigerator and CROSSED MY FINGERS! 2 1/2 hours later, we came back and I took the pans out to warm up a bit while preheating the oven, and then baked as usual.

Did not get to experiment with any egg wash on the crust this time. The refrigeration does not seem to have done any damage to the finished bread.

Menu Plan Week of February 8 - 14

SUNDAY: Spanish rice and pork, peas rustica, Sourdough bread

MONDAY: Roast chicken

TUESDAY: Tacos, refried beans, arroz con habichuelas

WEDNESDAY: Barbara's BBQ Chicken Pizza and probably one "traditional" pizza for those who don't feel like being adventurous

THURSDAY: Spaghetti

FRIDAY: Salmon burgers and homemade mac & cheese (we didn't have this last week)

SATURDAY: Valentine's Day! Filet mignon roast, baked potato or yam, vegetable, bread

February 2009 Grocery Budget Challenge

My February budget is "under $500."

WEEK OF FEB. 1 - 7
Sam's 17.35
Shop Rite: 129.22
(total out of pocket) 146.57

WEEK OF FEB. 8 - 14
Shop Rite: 101.40

WEEK OF FEB. 15 - 22
Shop Rite & Sam's: 74.60

WEEK OF FEB. 23-28
Shop Rite: 99.10

WEEK OF FEB. 1 - 7:

WEEK OF FEB. 8 - 14
Shop Rite: 46.07

WEEK OF FEB. 15 - 22
Shop Rite: 30.38

WEEK OF FEB. 23-28
Shop Rite: 52.71

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

BIG Sourdough Bread!

Here's the recipe for the starter AND the bread (mixed in the bread machine!)

SOURDOUGH BREAD STARTER from the Tyler Hill Bed & Breakfast Cookbook

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups warm water
1 TBL yeast

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a VERY large bowl. Stir in flour. Cover loosely & let stand in a warm spot for 3 - 4 days.  On the first day, check every 6 hours or so and stir down.  Then check once a day.  After 3 or 4 days it should begin to smell tangy.  You can use it right now or refrigerate for later. Stir down & refrigerate in a sealed container. (My note: Make sure this is a LARGE container. The recipe book says 1 quart but I needed a half-gallon container after I spent one early morning cleaning up what TheDad thought was "stinky pancake batter" all over the fridge.)

You have to use this starter once every week to 10 days, or at the very least waste some and replace with a like amount, or the starter will die.

Every time you use starter you have to feed it.  If you take out a cup of starter, replace with a cup of warm water plus a cup of flour.  Stir it in to the remaining starter, let it sit at room temp for several hours, and then return to the fridge.

SOURDOUGH ITALIAN BREAD from the Yahoo Breadmachine Group (invitation only--but it's worth asking about!)

1 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 T olive oil
1 tsp salt
3 cups bread flour
2 T sugar
1 T instant yeast

Note: Amount of water will depend on the thickness of your starter.

Process in your bread machine on DOUGH cycle. Remove and shape into loaf. (Mine got so big I could have split it into 2 loaves! Next time I will.) Allow to rise at least 1 hour--I let it go 1 1/4 hours. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

I tried this recipe yesterday. This is the HUGEST loaf of bread I've ever baked! For the rise I let it go 1 hour 15 minutes and it was over the top of the pan at that point. After a giant oven spring, it is SO big that I will have to cut the slices in half to toast it in the morning. Let's just say it was a good thing I already had lowered the oven rack for some other thing I baked last week. If I hadn't, there would have been a mess for sure.

Just make sure that the starter you use is at room temperature before adding it to your bread machine recipe. You can take the whole container out of the fridge a few hours ahead, stir it, and when the starter warms up, use what you need in the recipe, feed the starter, let it sit out a few more hours, then put it back in the fridge.

It's a bit of a hassle but it does make the most awesome toast ever. Probably next time I will experiment with an egg wash on the crust, or melted butter on the crust when it comes out of the oven. I did think the crust "needed something."

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Moms, Check Your Pantries!

I just had to throw away a brand-new carton of ice cream.

I found it listed on the FDA's peanut-recall list.

That is one BIG list and getting bigger all the time.

Unfortunately, the only advice for the consumer is to throw away the affected product in a safe manner.

However, I will choose to be grateful that my family hadn't opened and eaten this ice cream yet. No one here has gotten sick from eating contaminated peanut products. So I wasted $2 worth of ice cream (I got it on sale!)

I think I got off cheap.

Now please go and check your pantries.

Menu Plan February 1 - 7, 2009

Here's the week's menu! I'm participating over at Menu Plan Monday.


MONDAY: Tandoori Chicken, pickled beets, roasted potatoes

TUESDAY: Taco Skillet, tater tots

WEDNESDAY: Kielbasa with Sauerkraut. That's doctored-up sauerkraut, not the nasty stuff in the can. I'll post the recipe later.

THURSDAY: Spaghetti. OR maybe we'll attend Chick-Fil-A night (it's a school fundraiser.)

FRIDAY: Salmon burgers, homemade macaroni and cheese

SATURDAY: "Pizza, Pins and Pop" church fun event at a local bowling alley. I'm a terrible bowler but this is always a good time.


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