Saturday, May 30, 2009

Weekend laziness

Yesterday was my last official day at the YWCA and, as such, I ended up in the office for about 10 hours. It's scary when you have one day to finish everything unresolved. Unlike when you quit a job, my "seasonal" position will resume in August and I will have to finish what I started then. So, if I make a mess, I'll be the one cleaning it.

So I called my husband at 5 p.m. to tell him I hadn't left the office yet and he asked if he should start dinner and I said sure. He made fried egg sandwiches on bagels.

Then after our daughter went to bed, we each had a glass of Veuve Clicquot (from a small $25 bottle I bought for my birthday) to celebrate my summer vacation. We spiked it with Chambord (kir royale, anyone?) because oddly, these last two bottles of champagne had tasted more like sweet beer. Blasphemy, I know.

This morning, my husband made us each "magic toast." (See the last grocery entry involving the Giant...) And for lunch we'll have the leftover bag of Dole salad, with something to make it an entrée. (I so wish we had sunflower seeds.) For dinner, we have friends coming over that offered to buy pizza while we watch the first season of LOST...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

PB&J Taster's Platter

My daughter has enjoyed a lengthy repetition of PB&J for lunch lately. To spice things up, I made a peanut butter taster's platter for lunch (with a side of corn). I sliced the baguette my husband bought into thin slices and prepared three mini peanut butter sandwiches: JIF Natural Peanut Butter and honey, PB and the American classic of grape Smucker's jelly, and PB and organic raspberry fruit spread (that shockingly has vitamin A & C). The preschooler selected PB & honey as her favorite and has eaten two PB & honey sandwiches, the two others, the corn, and a glass of chocolate soy milk and is now on a glass of water.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


It's the 27th. Yesterday's take out probably pushed us to $310 for dining out and groceries for the month of May. Just a couple more days and we have a new month... a clean slate... but I caved, and sent my husband to the store for peanut butter and salad. He spent close to $45.

Have you noticed my nasty habit? Once I break the budget I do so repeatedly, that's why I fight so hard that first time. I know myself.

We had ice cream for dinner, at our favorite creamery, because the owner there asked us to stop by... And our daughter tends to have the run of the place. It's the Purple Cow in downtown Easton and their ice cream is heavenly. Today I had a strawberry sundae with tiramisu ice cream. The fruit made it dinner.

But I remained very aware that my daughter had a grilled cheese for lunch and I needed to get some vegetable matter into her, hence the salad. Which got eaten very reluctantly. My daughter and her daddy went to the store for salad and as she has been on a peanut butter and jelly kick lately, I suggested a splurge for store-bought bread.

My husband picked up Giant's bakery multigrain sandwich bread, which I adore but will not buy because it's up to $4.29 a loaf (I swear a few months ago it was $4.59). It makes the most perfect toast. I could literally eat it every morning for the rest of my life. We call it magic bread.

My husband put the magic bread in the basket and my daughter grabbed a baguette, shook it, and yelled, "No, Daddy. Mommy said buy bread."

Well, when they got home, my husband augmented a Dole salad in the bag with some extra stuff and served with bread. He apologized, because he bought two bags when it always turns out that we only need one... But the bread was delicious. At the same time, it seemed weird. Then I noticed he used Smart Balance and not butter. I choked up the different to that.

But I looked at the baguette and it looked soft. I turned it over, to read the label, wondering if it was indeed a French-style baguette or something else. It was a Nature's Promise loaf, no preservatives, made with unbleached flour.

Then I noticed it: "Finish baking at home. 5-10 minutes at 375 degrees." A-ha! That explains it...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Take Out! Naughty Mommy...

I have a library board meeting today, and although I'm already at the end of my monthly food budget, I opted for takeout. I had a friend who visited until 4:30, and in-laws who popped in unexpectedly, so I used my birthday money lingering in my wallet for food.

We have a neighborhood bar, Shruty's, less than a block away. We ordered a large taco pizza (sour cream, lettuce, tomato, and chip steak as toppings... Tomatoes and lettuce, vegetables, right?)

Chili, it is cold and rainy... Turned out to be enough for all of us.

Breaded cauliflower (greasy indulgence, but a vegetable, right?)

And their homemade peorogies (Which we never had before: incredible)

Total: $21

Creative but quick lunch

Who said it could be cold and rainy in late May? Grrrr...
For lunch, I started some chicken/sausage gumbo soup, the Aldi brand, that I diluted with some water and added a whole bunch of frozen peas and corn. I took the last of the loaf of homemade bread we thawed over the weekend, sliced it, buttered in lightly, sprinkled it with garlic powder and browned it in the skillet. Then I added a dollop of tuna leftover from yesterday. Not my usual gourmet style, but more interesting than plain old tuna sandwiches and Campbells.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Coffee Drinks

Daughter started her day with some Aldi Kids Crunch, their version of Peanut Butter Captain Crunch. Around 10 (it is a holiday after all), husband made scrambled egg wraps and flea shampoo potatoes. The recipe for flea shampoo potatoes (named after the smell) can be located under Eileen Breslin in the links below. It's one of her recipes from her vegan cooking course at Northampton Community College.

For dinner, I used the last batch of frozen spinach-cottage cheese-ricotta mix (at least I think that's what it was) that I preserved in February when I made calzones with my own dough. I created a lasagne that tasted great and got nice and crispy on top the way I like.

But the treat was this afternoon's coffee drink.

My husband saves all the partial pots of coffee we never finish. He keeps them in the fridge in a pictcher and instead of Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts he mixes up our own special iced coffee drinks.

Like iced decaf with milk and Chambord.
Or iced coffee light and sweet like a frappucino.
Or a shot or two of coffee with soymilk for extra protein between meals.
Or, like today, a big cup of coffee with vanilla ice cream in it.

Waste not, want not.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dinner for Two at Nawab

Last night, as part of my birthday surprise, my husband and I went to one of our favorite restaurants: Nawab, on Fourth Street, Southside Bethlehem. We ordered some mango lassis and the Nawab chef's special dinner for two. It was $37.95 and ended up being more like dinner for four. We just had the leftovers for dinner tonight... with the child.

The dinner itself consisted of soup (I had the mulligatawny-vegetable, my husband ad the chicken), appetizers (shrimp, two types of chicken, and lamb meatball-like things), bread, lamb curry and some vegetable dish, rice (of course) and tea/coffee and dessert (my husband had the honey-milk balls and I had the rose-flavored ice cream.

I felt like I barely touched my food and by the end of the evening I was painfully full. (The service was way too fast and they kept serving each course before we finished the previous.) The food was amazing, as it usually was, and the dinner for two cost less than $10 more than us ordering our normal two meals with one appetizer, and we got enough leftovers for a second dinner.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Brought to you by the letter P: Pork with raspberry sauce

I didn't intend it, but dinner became "brought to you by the letter P."

I got home from work and prepped some peas by thawing them in the microwave. Then I sliced about two tablespoons of fresh spearmint from my garden and added it to the peas. I stirred it up, covered it, and set it in the fridge. (Great picnic item, originally from Eileen Breslin's vegan cooking class at Northampton Community College.) Serve the peas chilled.

Then I made some green tea, also with loads of spearmint and poured it over ice in my Princess House glasses. I also got out a bottle of Italian sparkling raspberry wine. I even allowed by daughter to have a small taste for a special post-birthday toast. That was our apéritif.

First course was canned pears (packed in juice, juice reserved for recipe) with some of the sauce from the meat, served over yogurt. (See below for recipe.)

The pork recipe is a variation of Pork Chops with Raspberry Sauce from

Pork with Raspberry Sauce, Angel-style

4 thin pork chops
Mysterious herb seasoning packet from Aldi spinach rigatoni

pinch of fresh ground course sea salt

pinch four-color peppercorns

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 tablespoons juice, reserved from a can of pears

4 tablespoons champagne vinegar, a gift from my mom at Christmas

3.5 tablespoons Chambord

almost 1/4 cup organic raspberry jam from Wegmans

1. Preheat oven to 200. In a skillet, melt butter and olive oil.

2. Combine seasonings, salt and pepper. Rub on pork.

3. Cook pork in skillet on medium, about four minutes per side.

4. Place on plate and keep warm in oven.

5. In warm skillet, with meat juices still present, combine the juice, jam, vinegar and Chambord. Cook until the sauce reduces significantly. It will thicken when it cools. I put about have the sauce on the meat right away and left in in the oven as I served the first course. Then when I served, the sauce had thickened and I placed more on each.

My daughter ate TWO.

For dessert, we had some pumpkin roll. I didn't make that, Gayle brought it for my birthday. Her friend makes it.

Grocery Update

I spent the last half hour in Quicken paying bills and trying to plan our summer survival since my upcoming vacation is unpaid. I was happy to see that the budget appears on target, unless I forgot to include some food purchases. NOT including alcohol I have spent $225 on groceries this month and we bought pizza twice, adding another $47 to the budget. I am very pleased with that figure. Now if I can make it one more week without going to the store.

Of that, $107 was spent at Aldi.
$42 left our wallet and traveled to Wegmans (not including the $20 my husband spent on an ice cream cake, that was classified under gifts).
The remaining $76 or so went to our neighborhood Giant.

Sometimes I think I spend less if I go to the store once a week instead of once a month. When I go once a month, I feel pressured to buy everything and end up forgetting important stuff. When I do a small order, I rush and I don't care if I forget things so we do without.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Open Faced Mini Sandwiches

Breakfast today was leftover birthday goodies, banana cake and pumpkin roll. For dinner last night we had those Aldi spinach rigatoni with some gruyère on top to spice them up. Then my family surprised me with an ice cream cake.

For lunch, I sliced homemade bread into hors d'oeuvres sized pieces and made one small can of chunk light tuna. Half of the slices got a heaping tablespoon of tuna. The others got a slice of bacon. Each then got either gruyère or cheddar. I heated them in the oven.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Purple Margaritas

I hesitate to even share this as it is NOT cheap. But the whole point of running a rigid budget, or as close to one as we can, is to splurge as desired. Like the recent cheese fest. I *still* have plenty of smoked gouda.

I have a business meeting tomorrow, but everyone in the group is friends AND tomorrow is my birthday. As the meeting pertains to my personal business, I am responsible for the tab. Normally, we would do lunch. But I have proposed purple margaritas.

I spent $65 for the ingredients for purple margaritas. But when you consider the cost of taking three adults and one child for a light meal, with alcoholic beverages and tip, $65 is the right ballpark. And by entertaining at home, I still have some alcoholic left in the bottle at the end of the day. So, depending on your perspective, it is cheap.

My purple margaritas stem from a girlfriend's divorce. We tried for months to make the perfect margarita. They always turned out too sour or too alcoholic. Then someone told me to try blue curacao instead of triple sec or grand marnier. Didn't thrill me. But when I added chambord, the sweet raspberry flavor was perfect. The blue curacao and the chambord combine to make an incredible purple color.

Be warned: These margaritas will knock your socks off if you're not careful.

Angel's Purple Margaritas
(recipe as printed makes two)
4 ounces margarita mix (or homemade, I have not found a good margarita mix)
2 ounces tequila (my girlfriend is into José Cuervo)
2 ounces blue curacao (it is very blue, Bols makes one...)
2 ounces chambord

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake to mix. I serve with the ice. Wet the rim of the glass and roll in bartendar's salt, if desired.

Breakfast for dinner

It's been a hectic day. We started out the morning with a trip to the car dealership to get an oil change and an unexpected $450 worth of repairs. My daughter had some Peanut Butter Kids Crunch cereal from Aldi before we left. My husband packed some trail mix with yogurt covered raisins and dry cereal for me. My daughter ate most of it.

Lunch was leftover sicilian from the weekend. I love sicilian from Pizza D'oro. Not only is it a pizza I adore, but it feeds my family for three meals. Usually one dinner, the following morning for breakfast and the second day after for lunch. Plus a free two liter which we pretty much save for parties or mixers for alcoholic beverages. $17.

But dinner tonight was a real treat! Not only did my husband make dinner without being asked to... (Daughter had kindergarten orientation and we got home at 5 p.m.) but he made waffles. I added chocolate chips to the batter when he wasn't looking. And we cooked up some Morningstar vegetarian sausages. And then some sliced apple. With real maple syrup of course. The leftover waffles went into a freezer bag and there's another day's breakfast or maybe a lunch.

Waffles from the Betty Crocker Cookbook

2 eggs

2 cups flour

1/2 cup oil or melted butter (we used canola)

1 and 3/4 cups milk (we used soy)

1 tablespoon regular or brown sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat waffle iron. Beat eggs. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour into the iron and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Burgers and fries

I have had a long day today. As I went to the liquor store to gather ingredients for my world famous purple margaritas for my business meeting Wednesday afternoon, my daughter and husband went into the Giant for potatoes, salad and apples. I don't know exactly what they got, but they spent $10 and my husband made this delicious dinner.

He made small burgers with smoked gouda and bacon on homemade bread with thin sliced potatoes cooked crispy in the oven. And Dole Southwestern salad. I made the purple margaritas. A test batch.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bacon wraps

I made bacon/salad wraps for lunch. I think this is a good example of how I stretch the food budget. Remember all that cheese for the dinner party and the croque monsieur? We still have a fairly nice chunk of gruyère left. And since I bought about $12 worth of gruyère, that makes me happy.

So, I started with some real smoke flavored bacon (not vegetarian, how odd is that?). I fried it in an ungreased skillet. Two slices for each wrap. Then, I heated each tortilla shell in the drippings. I placed each heated shell on a plate, and arranged the bacon inside it. I used salad leftover from Wednesday's dinner party for some vegetable matter. Next I grated some gruyère, sprinkling less than two tablespoons of cheese in each wrap. For dressing, I used a hair more than one teaspoon organic ranch for each. I rolled them up and served with a side of canned peaches (using up the can from the other day) and some potato chips which actually came free with some takeout sandwiches a while ago.

Dinner à la Daddy

I forgot to blog last night! And my husband made a great dinner. Okay, not great as in five-star restaurant. But great as in unexpected and hit the spot.

He took the leftover plain alphabet pasta, mixed in one serving of the cheesy pea alphabet pasta from the night before, and warmed some broccoli, cauliflower and carrots in a skillet in some olive oil. Then he mixed it all up. He added some vegetarian chicken for some protein, which was also fried briefly in the skillet. Somehow, it hit the spot. I loved it.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The problem with a strict budget

A strict budget works for the purse strings, but no so much if you like variety. I have eaten enough ham and cheese for a lifetime. I have $50 left in my grocery budget for the month. We may be repeating the infamous $20 Aldi trips, especially the way this tribe's been eating lately.

Breakfast today: Leftover Bob's Red Mill cereal with jelly for the child and husband

Morning snack: My daughter wanted some vanilla yogurt (I buy only the 32 ounce containers) and leftover raspberries from my dinner party. I had my breakfast: the final serving of Bob's with the wine sauce from the raspberries.

Lunch: leftover peaches from yesterday and omelets of the leftover ham, some cheddar and a taste of gruyère with the ham heated and browned in butter and garlic pepper. So good we all wanted more.

Dessert: homemade sticky buns with super amounts of raisins and pecans (from the freezer)

For dinner, I need to make something chock full of vegetables as we've had lots of fruit and grain... Maybe a salad with vegetarian meat? Or bacon? I bought bacon (hard to believe, me, bacon) because I'd been reading about French potato casseroles... Mmmmm...

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Breakfast: Our daughter had vanilla yogurt with some of the leftover raspberries. My husband and I had the strawberry shortcake torte cake. Yeah, we could learn some good habits from the child.

Snack: I had half a piece of the ethnically confused chicken from the other day. The child had 1.5 pieces of chicken and half a can of peaches packed in pair juice.

Lunch: The child had a leftover croque monsieur. I had the other. Then, my husband made hot ham and cheese on a baguette with smoked gouda. So I made a small version with dijon mustard and gruyère instead of smoked gouda.

Dinner: (more cheese! eek!) Alphabet noodles with the leftover cheese sauce from the croque monsieur, peas, a tad of garlic pepper and shredded extra sharp New York cheddar.

Petit Écolier cookies

I mentioned that I bought the Petit Écolier cookies, which at $4 for a box of 12 cookies is total splurge... But in the midst of my "the salad greens all look yucky at Wegmans" panic, I added extra items in case the salad course failed. We never served the cookies, but after everything was cleaned up last night I sat down with one and had a cup of decaf.

I had a terrible case of dejà vu (I'm probably spelling that wrong, but it's too early in the morning for my French brain to function). And I swear, I've eaten these before.

Bottom line was: Despite the expensive price, they were good cookies. And I did not feel compelled to eat half the box. Cookies with real chocolate on top. Yum.

My daughter made a good choice.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fancy Dinner with Mark and Julie

Last night, my husband confirmed that our friends Mark and Julie would be coming for dinner... tonight. So, with 24 hours to prepare, I had a dinner party to whip up. This would mark the fourth time this week we went to the grocery store, and I believe our grocery total for the month is about $200 (and it's not even the 15th yet) and we spent $25 on eating out (pizza one night). If I try really hard, I can survive the next two weeks without hitting the store again. And be on budget...

My husband had mentioned croque monsieur to our guests, so they were interested. And I figured it was scrumptious last night so it would be yummy again. And I thought I'd get some raspberries and make some Vouvray-lavender honey sauce to complement them. And a prepackaged salad. A baguette. And voilà, simple multi-course dinner.

And the guests said they'd bring dessert.

I had enough cheesy bread left to make a couple small sandwiches. I needed a little more of everything, so I headed to Wegmans. I spent about $42, way over what I wanted to but I bought double what I intended. Ham, 1 lb., $6. Gruyère, 1/2 pound, $6. smoked gouda, $5. baguette, $2. batard, $2. The salads looked awful, so I opted for a hunk of La Chaume cheese instead ($5). If I couldn't whip up a salad, I'd serve a cheese platter. Two quarts of raspberries, $10. Maille imported French dijon mustard, $4. And my daughter insisted on petit ecolier cookies, $4. Yes, I caved. They're French and dark chocolate.

My husband agreed to stop on his way home for salad. Mark and Julie would get a cake.

Plus a bottle of wine I had on hand means I made dinner for five for $5o. Not so bad...

The recipe for fruit salad with white wine-honey sauce can be found under the "French" link and probably under "Vouvray" too. I followed those basic instructions, cut back the sugar and used only raspberries.

I prepped the sandwiches so they just needed to bake. I got 11 or 12 sandwiches. But my cheese sauce wouldn't thicken so they were a tad dry. I needed another tablespoon flour, but ran out of time.

My daughter set the table with the Royal Doulton Isabella. We got out the silver. We even went to the rose bush and picked the first buds of the spring for a centerpiece. We filled the princess house glasses with water and when the guests arrived there was Vouvray for everyone.

Two types of bread were on the table.
First course: raspberries
Second course: croque monsieur
Third course: Dole Spring Fling Salad with almonds and berry vinagrette dressing
Fourth course: International Cheese Flight of Swiss gruyère, German smoked gouda, French Chaume and New York Extra Sharp Cheddar (from Aldi no less!)
Fifth course: (here's where the courses get funky, order wise) chartreuse
Sixth course: decaf with coffee mate Parisian Almond Cream creamer and strawberry shortcake torte

Full bellies, happy bellies. Very sleepy grown ups...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Croque Monsieur

I've been dying for Croque Monsieur for days... but it's not an easy thing to solve a craving like this... For one, buying the proper cheese can be very expensive. In this case, $6-plus at the Giant. For a tiny hunk of Gruyère.

So, you economize where you can.

I based my croque monsieur on Ina Garten's recipe in Barefoot in Paris, but where she uses two cheeses, I used four. Sounds fancy, but really, it was an attempt to keep the gruyère from making my daughter turn up her nose, and an attempt to cheapen the overall cost of the sandwich.

Step one:

I sliced 12 slices of homemade cheesy bread that I had thawed from the freezer. I arranged them on a very large cookie sheet. In an oven preheated to 400, I toasted each side of the bread for five minutes.

Ingredients for the sauce: 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon flour, 1/2 cup light cream, 1/2 cup soy milk, 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground coarse sea salt (from Aldi), 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground four-color pepper, pinch nutmeg, 1/8 cup grated asiago (also from Aldi), 1/8 cup grated parmesan (Aldi), 1/8 cup grated gruyère, and 1/8 cup grated smoked gouda.

Melt butter over low heat, stir in flour and stir with wooden spoon for two minutes. Heat milk and add, slowly, whisking constantly until sauce thickens. Remove pan from heat and add other ingredients. Set aside.

Step two:

Take toasted bread and if desired, spread dijon mustard on one side. I skipped this as my husband hates mustard.

Ingredients for the middle: ham slices (I used tavern ham, one long slice per sandwich. It used more than 1/4 a pound but not 1/2 pound), a slice of smoked gouda for each sandwich, and slightly more than 1/4 cup grated gruyère. Go crazy with the cheese if you wish, but I can't afford it.

Method: On one side of the bread, fold a slice of ham, then add the gouda. I then added a thin layer of sauce and put the second side of the bread on. Smother the top of the sandwich with sauce, I used close to two tablespoons for each of my little sandwiches. Then sprinkle the gruyère on top.

Bake five minutes in the oven. Then, turn on the broiler and broil three to five minutes until bubbly and golden brown.

Chicken à la diable

The last few days have been a blur of unexciting food. Hamburger-helper style pasta, broccoli-cheese omelet wraps, breakfast of Bob's Red Mill hot cereal. Snack of canned pineapple and graham crackers with peanut butter.

I was surfing the 'net this morning thinking I would make something with that nice organic chicken breast my husband bought last week. So I did some random searches and ended up on's French cooking area. Chicken Veronique sounded interesting, but I don't have grapes... I technically don't have the ingredients for this either, but I'm going to wing it.

Big surprise, eh?
(As a side note: Last night my husband went to the store and spent $20. The tortoise needed greens. I may stop later today because I'm dying for Crôque Monsieur... though I don't think Giant carries Grûyere...)

Chicken à la diable
"Spicy deviled chicken is breaded and then fried in butter for an amazing taste explosion. The secret to its mildly fiery flavor: mustard and cayenne."
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes

* 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
* ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 2 eggs, beaten
* 6 boneless chicken breast halves, cut in half lengthwise
* ¾ cup dry breadcrumbs
* 3 tablespoons butter


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Melt the butter in a roasting pan. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard and cayenne pepper. Brush the mustard onto the chicken, and then dip the chicken in eggs and dredge in the breadcrumbs. Arrange the chicken breasts in the roasting pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, turning once. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

Okay, where's the frying?
Let's see what I can do with this...

Angel's ethnically-confused chicken
So... I cut the chicken breasts in three slices each because they seemed thick.
I made a sauce of 1 tablespoon soy mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard and 1 tablespoon saffron-ginger-mango Indian dipping sauce.
I slathered the chicken with this strange concoction.
I mixed my homemade breadcrumbs (which some are breadcrumbs and others are more like tiny croutons) with parsley about 3:1. (Three being breadcrumbs.)
I rolled the chicken in the crumbs and arranged in my biggest pyrex dish.
And now I'm baking at 400 degrees for 2o minutes and then flipping and baking some more.

I plan to serve with greenbeans. I think I have a new favorite way to serve greenbeens. I cooked them in the microwave, poured a drizzle of olive oil on them and fried them on high until kind of crisp.

Note: I would cut the mustard for the sauce on this chicken in half next time. The family devoured a pound of chicken in about ten minutes so I suppose it was yummy...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mothers Day Oatmeal Cookies (Guest entry)

Uh-oh, the husband's in the kitchen again! In light of Mothers Day my daughter and I gave Angel the morning off. We decided to bake one of her favorites... oatmeal cookies. I had consulted Angel's ancient Betty Crocker cookbook and discovered that the recepie required shortning (which we didn't have) so I scouted around online until I found one that looked appealing and used butter instead of shortning.

Yep, it came down to good ol' Martha!

Jumbo Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies

  1. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  2. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  5. 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  6. 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  7. 2 large eggs
  8. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  9. 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
  10. 2 cups raisins
  11. 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut (I skipped this since we don't like it)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add flour mixture; beat just until combined. Add oats, raisins, and coconut; beat just until combined.
  3. Drop level 1/4-cup measures of dough, 1 1/2 inches apart, onto baking sheets.
  4. Bake until cookies have spread and are golden brown and soft to the touch, 18 to 20 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Cool 5 minutes on sheets; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. You can also freeze unbaked cookies and bake them later. Place unbaked cookies on baking sheet and freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Transfer to resealable plastic bags (label and date); keep up to 6 months. Bake as many as you need (without thawing); place 1 1/2 inches apart on a baking sheet. Bake 20 to 25 minutes.
They're a tad on the HUGE side --some wouldn't even fit through the opening in our cookie jar-- but I believe that YUM is an apt description of the finished product!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mommy's scrambled eggs

Yesterday I had a blood sugar meltdown and it wasn't pretty. It was a reminder that I need to pay closer attention to my own meal schedules. I more or less need six small meals a day, but lately I've been skipping snacks. It caught up with me yesterday. It usually starts with breakfast... I skip that thinking I'll eat mt ten o'clock snack at nine and be fine... Well, yesterday I didn't eat until 11 and it threw my whole day out of whack.

By five, my husband ran to Giant to get a rapid, high protein dinner involving salad because I had in my head I wanted salad. And when I get screwed up like that, I often refuse to eat unless I get something that "looks good."

So he went to the store and bought two pre-packaged ceasar salads in the bags (on sale 2/$7), vegetarian chicken and buffalo wings (because it heats in the microwave super quick), and real chicken breasts (in case I had in my head that I wanted the real thing, and he got organic thinking I would approve... what a sweetie... and he had no idea how to read the price so he paid WAY too much, but it's the thought that counts.)

He spent $22. And made a delicious salad with the buffalo wings strips and laid into it. And the kit included shaved slices of asiago cheese... Mmmmm... We're having the second batch for lunch today.

I'm trying to be more careful today. We had homemade raisin bread toast with 

coffee at 7:30. (The loaf of sticky roll dough that I didn't ice or cut into buns.) At 9, I made myself two scrambled eggs (with soy milk) with parsley, the leftover garlic pepper seasoning from the salad last night, and grated asiago. Served with a side of ketchup and a pinch of coarse sea salt. And technically, I used extra virgin olive oil in the pan instead of no-stick spray. Figured I could use the healthy fat.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sticky buns

I wanted to make sticky buns today, so I started them before class and worked the dough after...I need to work this afternoon, so I plan to leave them in the oven and set the oven timer to have them cooking when we get home... These photos are from the last time I made them, which is probably a year ago. Yes, I'm serving these for dinner. Maybe with scrambled eggs. The base recipe is from the Betty Crocker cookbook.

Caramel Sticky Rolls
3 1/2 to 4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 packages yeast
1 cup very warm milk
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 egg

1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
3/4 cup pecan halves

2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Phase 1: Mix two cups of the flour, 1/3 cup sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Add warm milk, 1/3 cup butter and egg. Mix for one minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough flour to make the dough easy to handle.

Phase 2: Knead on floured surface for five minutes. Place in greased bowl and let rise about 1.5 hours or until doubled in bulk.

Phase 3: Heat one cup brown sugar, and 1/2 cup butter to boiling, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add corn syrup. Pour into bottom of 13x9x2 pan. Sprinkle with pecan halves.

Phase 4: Punch down dough. Flatten into rectangle about 10" by 15" . Spread with two tablespoons margarine. Mix remaining ingredients and sprinkle evenly over dough. Roll from the 15" side and pinch to seal. Shape as desired. Cut into 15 one-inch slices and arrange in pan slightly apart. Let rise 30 minutes in a warm place until doubled.

Final phase: Preheat oven to 350. Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately invert onto heatproof serving platter. Let stand one minute until sauce drains.

How I changed it: I swapped out the chopped pecans for loads of raisins and golden raisins. I also used almond milk instead of milk, and applesauce instead of egg. And I got way more than the original yield, so I left the end of the roll a "loaf" and figured I'd cook it on it's own. And I omitted the corn syrup (just used water).

Monday, May 4, 2009

Open Faced Meatball Broccoli Garlic sandwiches

I took the meatballs I made last night and made strange sandwiches for dinner. I cooked the leftover meatballs in plain tomato sauce with some four-color pepper and italian seasoning. While they simmered, I melted some butter (about 1/3 of a stick) and added a tablespoon or two of garlic powder and a teaspoon of parsley. I took the last few slices of the homemade French inspired cheesy bread and slathered on the butter sauce.

I broiled the bread until the edges got crispy, then I pulled them out of the oven and covered them with tiny bits of fresh broccoli. On top of the broccoli, I piled the sauce and then two meat balls. Finally, I sprinkled on grated cheddar (liberally) and returned it to the oven to bake.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Broccoli Meatballs

Since I went to the store today and we have a selection of food available, I let the child select tonight's fare. She picked spaghetti and meatballs. I don't think I've ever made meatballs, but that does not dissuade me.

I opened up my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook (can't go wrong with Betty for the good old American meat staples). Spaghetti and meatballs is on page 227. Of course, I had to adapt it.

The process is simple: mix all ingredients, shape into 1.5 inch balls and bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes. The yield of Betty's recipe is 20. Mine is about 17.

Betty's Meatballs
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 egg

Angel's broccoli meatballs
3/4 pound ground beef
1 cup fresh broccoli, cut small and cooked lightly
1/2 cup homemade breadcrumbs
about 1/8 cup ketchup
about 1/8 cup creamy Italian salad dressing (plus an extra squirt for good measure)
1/2 salt
1/2 four color pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon pizza and pasta seasoning
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon honey
1 egg

At a preliminary taste test, 20 minutes in, the meatballs taste good. They weren't the color I would have liked, so I put them in for five more minutes... and the bottoms caramelized.

Open-Faced Tuna Melts and Sweet Salad

For lunch, I took some lettuce from the butter lettuce bagged greens from Aldi, mixed in some shredded asiago, raisins and Wishbone Spritzer wine mist dressing. Meanwhile, my husband cut some homemade cheesy bread (I'm almost getting sick of bread for every meal) and made open faced hot tuna sandwiches with cheddar melted on top.


I ended up at Aldi. Spent $90. For the first time, I bought Aldi meat. I'm not big on grocery store meat... I read Fast Food Nation and that leaves me prone to avoid me. I will only get sausage from a real butcher. And when I can, I get meat from the farm. I don't know what made me change my tactic.

Here's my haul:
Produce: broccoli crowns, $1.49; head of cauliflower, $2.29; bagged spring mix, $1.69; bagged butter lettuce, $1.69


Post Blueberry Morning Select Cereal, $2.69 (over yogurt?); sausage-chicken gumbo, 2 cans (an emergency, rainy day lunch, paired with something more wholesome), $1.39 each; crushed pineapple, 89 cents; chunk pineapple, 89 cents; chicken broth, 2 cans, 39 cents each; oats, $1.79; boxed processed mac n cheese, two boxes, 35 cents each; Aldi brand Ritz crackers, $1.69; graham crackers, $1.29; black beans, 59 cents; garbanzo beans, 59 cents; two bags of flour, $1.81 each;
Dairy: Smart Balance spread, $2.29; shredded asiago, $1.99; salted butter quarters, $1.99; unsalted butter, $1.99; parmesan cheese (spaghetti kind), two bottles, $2.39 each; eggs, 95 cents; two 8-ounce blocks New York cheddar and one block Monterey Jack, $1.29 each;


One Spinach-Artichoke dip (makes a quick hot lunch and has enough vitamin content to count as a veggies), $1.99; two boxes of jalapeno poppers, great for feeling indulgent but still counting as a green vegetable, I judge by the RDA of vitamins per serving, $1.99 each; corn, 95 cents; spinach rigatoni (a meal for three, and it also counts as a green veg!), $2.99; peas, 95 cents; California medley, $1.19; tomato sauce, the small cans of plain sauce, seven at 25 cents each;
Meat: thin sliced pork chops, 8, $4.19; and 80/20 ground beef, 2 lbs, $3.71 (spaghetti and meatballs tonight)
Other: flour tortillas, two packs, 99 cents each; 64 ounces apple juice, $1.39; slivered almonds, $1.99; box of raisins, $1.79; white vinegar, 79 cents; large black pitted olives, 99 cents; White Mountain trail mix, two bags, $1.99 each; baking soda, three little boxes, 49 cents each; strawberry yogurt-covered raisins, $1.49; parsley flakes, 99 cents; chili powder, 99 cents; condensed milk, $1.39 (cheaper than coconut milk but may do nicely for curry next time); honey, $3.79; and one bag tortilla chips, 99 cents.


Honeyed Toast

Today I indulged in pure carbohydrates for breakfast... My homemade cheesy bread toasted with lavender honey. Then we started a discussion of what need to be done today and the need for groceries (grrr... didn't we just go to Wegmans last week?) stares us boldly in the face.

While the grocery budget came in under the target last month, we ate out way more than we should have. So this month I want to maintain vigilance. I had pondered heading to Wegmans, but the reality is, I can't afford the splurges I would buy there. So then I considered Giant. But really, I know I can get a good deal of what we need at Aldi and save some bucks on the basics... so off I go. Wish me luck.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Funky French-inspired Cheesy Bread

After reading with great lust the Joie de Vivre catalog, I got inspired to make some different bread. I retrieved Patricia Well's The Paris Cookbook and opened to her Parmesan Bread. Except, as happens when I mount these expeditions, I didn't confirm I had all the ingredients before I started baking. So I embarked upon my own funky French cheesy bread...

Pain au parmesan (according to Patricia: an ode to Gruyère bread)
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 and 1/3 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons extra fine sea salt
3 and 3/4 cups bread flour
3/4 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese, freshly grated
*egg wash

2 teaspoons active dry yeast (the way my family eats, it makes sense to double from the start)
1 teaspoon organic sugar
1 teaspoon lavender honey
2 and 2/3 lukewarm water
1 teaspoon idiozed sea salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
7.5 cups white flour
about 1/2 cup grated parmesan
about 3/4 cup finely grated extra sharp cheddar
about 3/4 cup grated ricotta salata

*egg wash

1. Combine yeast, sugar (and/or honey if using) and water. Stir to blend. (Patricia recommends using a heavy duty electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. I do everything by hand.) Let stand until foamy, about five minutes.
2. Stir in oil and sea salt.
3. Add flour and cheese all at once. Mix until all the flour has been absorbed and dough forms a ball. Knead four to five minutes until dough is satiny but still firm. The dough should spring back when indented with your finger.
4. Place dough in clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise about an hour until doubled in bulk.
5. Punch dough down and shape into a rectangle. Place in non-stick one quart bread pan. Cover with a cloth and let rise until doubled in bulk, about one hour.
6. Preheat oven to 425.
7. Brush top of dough with an egg wash. With kitchen scissors, snip the dough with tips all over to allow it to expand evenly while baking. You should snip about fifteen times. Place bread on bottom shelf of the oven. (I wonder if the water bowl would help? When cooking baquettes, one places a bowl of water in the oven with the bread. I don't think that would work with egg wash.) Bake until firm and golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. The bread should be firm and golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

NOTE: It says to use a non-stick loaf pan. This is important.

Also, I got four loaves from my doubled recipe. One of which I added garlic pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. I intended that one for myself. I ate a couple slices and my husband finished it.

I served it for lunch with the leftover port salut and cheddar, plus my husband had brought home a chunk of medium brie and a chunck of soft blue from his work wine and cheese party.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Curried Vegetables with whole wheat pasta

I lost two days?!?!? How did I lose two days?
Okay, let's not talk about that. But I will admit that I was chagrined to note that I spent $200 on dining out in the month of April. Not good. My grocery budget was $220, which normally would be good had I not splurged so much with the take-out/dining. My job is seasonal and I don't work in June and July. Basically, I could have saved that money and used it to buy groceries in June. I'm mad at myself.

We all came home starving today and my in-laws had served my daughter crappy grocery-store bakery-made pizza for lunch for the second time this week. She had an apple for breakfast, some grapes mid-morning and no other real food that I know of so I needed something fast and full of vegetables.
Curry popped into mind.
I've never made curry.
But that's never stopped me before.
I whip out my vegetarian cookbooks, but quickly feel like I'm looking for a proverbial needle in a haystack. With a hungry family, that's not a good feeling. I grab the laptop and google "curry pasta sauce." Get several hits. Like this one:


(as originally listed)

8 ounces dry pasta
3 tablespoons slivered almonds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 cup diced tomato
1 1/2 teaspoons mild curry powder
Pinch cayenne, or to taste
1 cup frozen peas, rinsed briefly in hot water to thaw
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Okay, I look around my kitchen. I have:
13.25 ounces of whole wheat penne pasta
1/4 cup slivered almonds
olive oil
cumin powder
one can diced tomato with garlic
curry powder
[I forgot to look for cayenne]
frozen peas
frozen cauliflower, carrots and broccoli
1 cup soy milk and 1 cup dehydrated milk which I add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to so it "cooks" more like buttermilk.

1. Prepare pasta.
2. While pasta cooks, toast almonds in skillet and set aside.
3. Thaw vegetables.
4. Put spices and tomatoes into skillet. Add a drizzle of olive oil as needed to keep from burning.
5. Add vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil and heat until hot.
6. Reduce heat and stir in milk, simmer until a consistent temperature.
7. Drain pasta. Combine pasta and sauce.
8. Sprinkle almonds on top.