Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Tradition

Every year my husband's office cooks a ham for their holiday luncheon and ever year, we get leftover ham from this luncheon. We've developed our own holiday tradition of ham and cheese omelets, using leftover ham and the leftover cheese from the cheese and cracker platter.

This year the six-year-old ate TWO for Christmas breakfast.

Now I can finally reveal that I made my stepmom and my dad pork with apples in individual portions and probably the smoothest batch of mac and cheese I've ever made. I used cheddar and whole milk for the base of the sauce, with lots of chives from my garden, and some grated Parmesan and asiago.

I also made some of my homemade granola for my husband's brother-in-law and sister. This batch used my standard sauce of blackstrap molasses, brown sugar and canola oil. Fruits included raisins, dates, dried pineapples and prunes. Nuts included some unsalted cashews and several lightly salted nuts. Some candied ginger... Some peanut butter kid's crunch cereal...

Tonight I used some of the leftover beef from the Christmas dinner my stepmom had catered to make some chili as the family is all sick. I used the beef, my usual seasonings, some black beans, some light red and some dark red kidney beans. Then, I made vegan cornbread in my Le Creuset skillet. Delicious, if not a tad contradictory.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Chicken Salad

Today is my little Christmas mixer with one of my editing clients. He told me he'd prepare hot mulled cider that we could mix with rum, cheese and crackers. When he interviewed me, he served me real tea. With loose leaves and a tea pot. That's when I knew I could work with this guy.

So, he said I could bring something but no hinted as to what.

What would complement but not upstage cheese and crackers, preferably with some fruit/veg matter?

I decided on chicken salad.

Today's Christmas Chicken Salad
- one can white meat chicken, chopped (12.5 ounces)
- half a large cucumber, diced
- one box 'sour' peach infused golden raisins
- 1/4 cup blueberries and raspberries, frozen, and thawed (reserve about two to three tablespoons berry juice for dressing)

For the dressing:
- less than 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons lemon-dill mustard (Archer Farms)
-1/2 teaspoon organic four-color pepper
-1/2 teaspoon country herb blend
- juice reserved from berries

Mix dressing. In a bowl, mix salad ingredients. Apply dressing. Stir and chill long enough to allow flavors to blend.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dad's almost steak dinner

Dinner with Grandma and Pop-pop on the mountain was an awesome success. My stepmom was still raving about the pork from our previous dinner, and one again she could not believe that she ate vegetables! In this case, asparagus.

I kept things as simple as I could since I was cooking in a strange kitchen-- a new experience for me. My step-mom's stove has a slight slant opposite the one my stove has and in sink is across the room from her stove, which in my house, the sink and stove are neighbors.

Now, the ingredients for dinner probably cost between $16 and $20, to serve 5. Most of the ingredients came from Aldi. I splurged and bought a $12 bottle of French brandy (St. Remy, since I can't afford Hennessey).

The menu: steak au poivre (pepper steak in a brandy cream sauce), mushrooms, parsleyed potatoes and asparagus in lemon-dill sauce. 

Problem strikes right off the bat when I open the meat and see I got some sort of flank steak instead of real steak. It looks like the kind of meat you use to a make a real steak sandwich that's not a chip steak.

I worried what my dad would think, but I couldn't waste time on that. This was dinner and I had to make it. My husband trimmed the fat off and I turned my attention to my work-in-progress. I started the Le Creuset skillet on low with a smidgeon of extra virgin cold pressed olive oil from Forks Mediterranean  Deli. I spread it with my fingers to cover the whole pan and when it got hot I added a tablespoon of butter and the small can of mushrooms I picked up at Aldi. I sautéed them for a few minutes and added probably about three tablespoons of brandy and about 2 teaspoons of my organic four-color peppercorn that I've had for a while.

I opened three cans of whole new potatoes and drained them. I'm a relatively large saucepan I melted six tablespoons of butter with close to a tablespoon of dried parsley and a sprinkle or two of Italian seasoning. Then I added the potatoes and let them cook on low for the entire remainder of the cooking time. 

In a Pyrex dish, I arranged one bag of frozen asparagus spears (also Aldi) which I thought had thawed out during the drive. In a small saucepan, I combined about three tablespoons butter, the juice of one small lemon, and a teaspoon or two of it's a dilly seasoning, a former favorite McCormick spice that I'm almost out of. I poured this over the asparagus and the fats instantly re-hardened. Yeah, the asparagus was still frozen. Oops. So I put it in the oven on 250, my temp for holding the steaks.

So, now the steaks. I removed the mushrooms from the skillet and put them on the holding plate to go in the oven. The steaks have been seasoned on both sides with more four-color peppercorn, thanks to my husband's help.  We toss them in the skillet and their thinness and their lack of fat make them stick in the now hot pan. I quickly add two tablespoons of butter. 

I flip each piece of meat every two minutes because they are so thin, removing them to the holding plate when I think they're done enough not to make anyone ill. By the time all the steaks are done, I add some olive oil to the skillet and try to loosen the glazed bits. I add another 3 or 4 tablespoons butter, drain the meat juice from the holding plate into the skillet and replace the meat in the oven.

The asparagus is still frozen. But the plan is to microwave briefly and "fluff."

Back to the sauce... The butter and meat juices bubble and when they start to boil, I added the 1/2 cup brandy.  I reduce it down as the recipe says, 2-3 minutes, by half I think, and then I add 3/4 cup whole milk (my step mom doesn't have the constitution for heavy cream.). I repeat the boiling down. 

Then, we microwave the asparagus and serve everything. Everything disappeared. Everyone had seconds of everything. Except me. I don't like mushrooms. 

Over the mountain... To Target on the way to pop-pop's

Before heading to my dad's to cook dinner, I had to stop by the liquor store and buy a bottle of French brandy ($12).  Then I stopped by Target for milk and a few last minute Christmas items.

Spent $53.47 before my discounts: $5.35 as a team member (10%) and the red card discount anyone can get $2.43 (5%). more than half of that cost was for food-related Christmas gifts. So, I can't tell you that stuff...

But for my husband's Christmas party at work there is Rold Gold sourdough pretzels ($2.33) and more buffalo blue cheese dip ($2.69-- we also got a second one for us). Market pantry rice kris pies, $2.34, and my husband asked for Market Pantry raisin bran, $2.34. and then there was that New England blueberry cobbler coffee that I like, at $5.57. 

A bottle of garlic powder for $1.47
A bag of dried pineapple for $2.49
Some individual box of "peach infused" golden raisins, $1.99 
Half gallon of whole milk, $1.94
The big box of trash bags, $6.49
The 100-count box of snack bags, $2.19

Pre-holiday Aldi trip

To motivate myself to get out of the house and do some grocery shopping of the kind to facilitate food Christmas gifts, I called my dad and asked if I could come make dinner for my family, him and his wife. What fool could say no to that?

So, I headed to Aldi to get a few staples.

I spent $43.04 which surprised me because I thought I was closer to the $60 I had in my pocket.

I got:
- aldi's version of peanut butter captain crunch, $1.69
- graham crackers, $1.19
- animal crackers, 99 cents
- flour tortillas, 99 cents
- 2 big boxes of elbow noodles, $1.49 each
- old fashioned oats, $1.99
- 64 ounces soy milk, $2.39
- one pound salted butter, one pound unsalted butter, $2.29 each
- whole new potatoes in the can, 4 cans at 59 cents each
- small can of mushrooms, 50 cents
- four Anjou pears, $1.89
-Parmesan cheese, $2.29
- thin sirloin steak, 4 steaks, $6.34
- pint of heavy whipping cream, $1.59 ( I would have preferred plain old heavy cream but they didn't have any )
- aldi's version of dark chocolate little schoolboy cookies, $1.29
- brown mustard, $1.19
- steam-in-bag broccoli florets, 99 cents
- frozen peas, 89 cents
-semi sweet chocolate chips, 1.29
- frozen asparagus spears, $1.99
- large pitted black olives, $1.19
- marshmallow creme, 89 cents
- large eggs, $1.55


Friday, December 17, 2010

Betty Crocker's lemon bars

Betty Crocker's Lemon bars

I have a love affair with my old 25th anniversary Betty Crocker cookbook.  It's a testament to the prepared foods so central to American household cuisine. The marketing guru that decided, "hey, let's make up a woman who's a great cook and have her be our branding device..." The cookbooks are an obvious attempt to develop trust in dear old Betty and I'm sure to get one you had to eat a boatload of Betty's scalloped potatoes and pancake mix...

But despite the falsity of dear Betty, I love the cookbook.

I let my daughter do most of the work for this lemon bars, and for once, I followed the directions.

Betty's lemon bars

1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel, if desired
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, butter and powdered sugar. Press into ungreased square pan, either 8x8 or 9x9. Bake 20 minutes. Beat remaining ingredients until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Pour over hot crust.

Bake about 25 minutes or until no indentation remains when touched in the center. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Buffalo broccoli quesadilla

The other night when I got home from work, my husband made me a quesadilla of white sharp cheddar, Archer Farms buffalo blue cheese dip and Morningstar vegetarian buffalo wings. Today we repeated it for lunch with fresh broccoli and a touch of Velveeta.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lavender tarte tartin

Last week, I attended a party for my local library staff and somehow they got the idea that I made "bitchin' desserts." So, I made a pear tarte tartin and added some lavender to the sugar syrup as I boiled it in order to "perfume" the pears. It works well, though I could have increased the lavender. I used about a half teaspoon and I could have done a full teaspoon I think. I also didn't have eggs, so I substituted applesauce and it worked fine.

Note though: if you don't boil down the syrup enough it can lead to runny bits that don't set under the fruit.

I apologize to any devoted readers looking for ideas. Between working retail at Christmas, final exams, a sick kid and the holidays, I have not cooked. And with no Internet at home, updating the blog is tricky.

Friday, December 3, 2010

My stepmother ate broccoli!

I have had a difficult week, and for some odd reason I thought it would be a good idea to invite my dad and stepmom over for dinner on Friday night. My parents have treated me to a lot of meals and it felt like time to return the favor.

I haven't slept much this week, and our finances and my gumption for heading to the grocery store are not promising. I had eight thin pork chops in the freezer and thought I'd make a variation of my pork with apples.

Pork with apples and berries

- 8 thin pork chops, lightly browned in the Le Creuset skillet and arranged nicely in a large Pyrex dish

In the skillet, make the sauce:
- one cup apple cider
- one 1/4 cup brown mustard
- two tablespoons Dijon mustard with lemon and dill
- less than 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon organic four color peppercorn, ground
- 1 teaspoon country herb mix, a blend of sea salt, Rosemary, parsley,
Oregano, basil, mint, sage and thyme (I found it in a grinder at Aldi.)
- 1 fresh sage leaf, chopped
- 1 gala apple, chopped
- 1 cup mixed berries (frozen and crumbled before added to the sauce) These were blackberries, raspberries and blueberries

Boil until well combined

Pour over pork chops and bake in the oven about 30 minutes at 350. If they dry out, add more apple cider 20 minutes in. I had run out so I used about 1/2 cup white grape raspberries juice instead.

The crowd loved it.

I served with corn, a boxed apple walnut rice stuffing, wheat brown and serve rolls, a Beaujolais Villages and an invented recipe: buffalo blue cheese broccoli with cheese curls.

Now, my stepmom HATES broccoli. She loved this. I'm still shocked and complimented.

Buffalo blue cheese broccoli with cheese curls

Start with about 10 large spears of broccoli, cooked a little less than done. I used frozen Giant brand broccoli florets and they were still kind of cold, but thawed in the microwave.

Arrange broccoli in the bottom of an oven proof dish in a single layer.

For the sauce:
In the bottom of a small saucepan, combine on low heat
- about 1/4 cup 2% milk
- about an ounce sharp cheddar, crumbled
- about two ounces Velveeta
- about two tablespoons Archer Farms buffalo blue cheese dip

Cook, stirring constantly until melted and combined.
Pour on broccoli.
In another dish, melt two tablespoons butter and mix with about 1/2 cup Cheetos crumbs

Sprinkle on top of broccoli and bake in the oven at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Super leftover sandwich

I wait and wait for this beauty:

Heat up some turkey leftovers for a sandwich and a 1/4 cup of your favorite leftover stuffing (mine is homemade with apples, fresh sage and a pinch of lavender). Meanwhile, get two slices of bread and arrange a slice of cranberry sauce (my husband's Nana makes yummy cranberry sauce). Pile on the stuffing, then the turkey. Cap the sandwich and there's a Thanksgiving dinner on a sandwich.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Classic escargot

I served escargot for Thakgsgiving. Wegmans Classic Escargot in the shell with garlic-butter-parsley sauce.

They were good, but a tad too buttery and they slid backwards into the shell and had to be cracked open. My daughter ate about eight. My husband's grandmother ate three and then realized they were snails and refused to eat any more.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Meat as lazy cooking

Perhaps today is the wrong day to ponder this, but on the other hand... It's perfect.

I spent about a decade as a vegetarian and a few months as a vegan. I hate cooking meat. Always have. The only way I can force myself to touch meat is to prepare French recipes. Because the French will eat anything they can catch.

But I cook primarily vegetarian. Own mostly vegetarian & vegan cookbooks. I've taken vegan cooking classes and subscribed to vegetarian and vegan publications.
(The Vegetarian Resource Group ~ ~ is the BEST... My dream is to attend their annual vegan fundraiser dinner in Baltimore)

Anyway, my veg*nism stemmed from my own dislike of meat, my health concerns & distrust of modern factory farming practices. I try to buy meats from local farms now, and I still don't use much meat (maybe once a week). Being unemployed also reduced some of my commitments... But eating veg*n is way cheaper than meat... And I still try not to feed my family food with ingedients I can't read.

I fail often. But I try.

Today, I made my apple stuffing. I converted my recipe to one for the crockpot, and that meant adding broth to it to keep it moist. I used chicken broth. I would prefer vegetable, but I didn't have any and to tell the truth, I'm confused why I had chicken broth.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Crockpot apple stuffing

My stuffing recipe is an apple variation of the basic version in Betty Crocker's cookbook. Tomorrow I plan on using this technique from "All Recipes" to open some space in the oven... The Thanksgiving link should take you to last year's feast.

Wegmans, before Thanksgiving

The items I had on my list did not require a trip to Wegmans.  Though my desire for sushi and curiosity about the new "Classic Escargot" appetizer... I had to...

I spent $62.61, but $15 of that was silver polish, $5 dryer sheets, $5 seafood forks and $22 between escargot and sushi.

  • Giant loaf of Wegmans white bread, 99 cents (for stuffing)
  • three packages of green giant green beans with almonds, $1.47 each?
  • two boxes of classic escargot, $6.99 each
  • Wegmans "super pasta," 14.5 ounces, $1.69 minus a coupon to make it free
  • 160 dryer sheets, $4.99
  • Pomodoro pasta sauce, $2.49 minus 50 cents "shopper club" special, minus a coupon to make it free
  • Celestial Seasoning Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride herbal tea, $1.99
  • McCormick cinnamon grinder, $1.79
  • Hodgson's Mill Stoneground Rye Flour, $3.19
  • 2 five-pound bags of unbleached white flour, 99 cents each
  • three types of silver polish, $3.99 each
  • four seafood forks, $4.98
  • Sushi, $5.49 and $2.99 minus $1 coupon
  • three pounds of gala apples, $2.49
  • fresh sage, $1.99
minus $1 for a produce department coupon

Broccoli and fish, a quick dinner

Tonight I finally sat down and listed my recipes and my ingredients needed for Thanksgiving. I have quite the menu planned... but more about that later.

I had a Target dinner, their battered pollock filets and steam-in-bag broccoli. I made a garlic, lemon and butter sauce for the broccoli and mixed 1 part Archer Farm lemon-dill mustard to 2 parts sour cream, with one teaspoon Aldi country herbs. That was a pretty cool dinner...

I also discovered that Wegmans has new escargot appetizers in the shell. I am soooo serving these for Thanksgiving.


I haven’t done any real grocery shopping since I started at Target. And let’s face it, while Target has some good stuff (especially in their Archer Farm brand) paying $2.69 for a bag of tortilla chips that I know I can get for 99 cents at Aldi... Well, I have to get back into routine. Mind you, those $2.69 chips are organic, have blue corn and flax seed and have a rich nutty flavor...

I lost count of how much money I was spending by the end of the first row at Aldi. So I said the heck with it and went crazy. Apparently, even if I buy everything I want, it’s still only $100. Or in my case today, $102.20.

One of my goals was to lay off the cheese a little bit. I failed. Miserably. I got different cheese.

What did I get? Well, stuff for Thanksgiving and staples.

And a few impulse buys...

71 items...
  • Clancy Hot & Spicy Potato chips $1.29 (when I was a kid I used to devour bags of Red Hot potato chips. That’s what these are trying to be. Blame PMS)
  • Cheddar Jalapeno Kettle Chips $1.99
  • Tortilla chips, two bags at 99 cents each
  • Plain soymilk and chocolate soymilk, 64 ounces each, $2.39 each
  • juice concentrate, frozen, 100% juice, white grape raspberry, 3 cans at $1.14
  • butter, one pound unsalted and one pound salted, $2.29 each
  • medium salsa, 2 jars, either 16 or 24 ounces, $1.69 each
  • evaporated milk, 2 cans at 69 cents each
  • big bottle of honey, $4.49
  • five pounds of granulated sugar, $3.09
  • premade refrigerated pie crusts, two boxes of two crusts each, $1.89 each
  • thin pork chops, close to a pound, $3.91
  • 2 small boxes of baking soda, 45 cents each
  • 2 blocks of New York sharp cheddar, $1.79 each
  • shredded asiago, $1.99
  • macaroni and cheese, four boxes, 29 cents each
  • sweetened condensed milk, one can, $1.29
  • Rice stuffing, $1.29 (was curious to see what this was and if we’d like it. I can replicate it once I try it)
  • Small wheel of American cow’s milk brie, $3.29
  • brown sugar, $1.29
  • split top wheat bread (to break into cubes for the stuffing) 99 cents
  • Pitted dates, 3 bags at $1.69 each
  • pint of heavy whipping cream, $1.59
  • pitted prunes, $1.99
  • chopped pecans, three bags, $2.89 each
  • salt grinder, pepper grinder, $1.69 each
  • tiny cans of tomato sauce, four cans, 25 cents each
  • canned sweet potatoes in syrup, three cans at $1.19 each
  • four cans of light tuna in water, 52 cents each
  • two cans of whole potatoes, 59 cents each
  • broccoli crowns, fresh, $1.49
  • head of cauliflower, fresh, $1.59
  • jar of minced garlic, $1.49 (I hate jarred garlic, yet once every two-three years I buy a jar because I keep running out of fresh)
  • 4 cups of shredded mozzarella, $3.19
  • flour tortillas, 2 packages, 99 cents each
  • dozen large eggs, 89 cents
  • small can of tropical fruit salad, 79 cents
  • jar of mayo for my husband, $1.89
  • a very large bottle of canola oil, $1.99
  • sour cream, $1.19
  • country spice grinder, $1.69
  • Italian seasoning, $1.09

Monday, November 22, 2010

Turkey salsa sandwich

I made myself a delectable pre-Thanksgiving treat:
My turkey salsa sandwich.
(my husband did a bagel and milk run yesterday morning and he wanted smoked turkey lunch meat.)
- half a jalapeno bagel, toasted
- for the condiment about 2 tablespoons Wegmans mango salsa
- two slices turkey
- lots of spinach and romaine

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Vegetarian Buffalo Chicken Pizza

This is one of the first few entries I’ve attempted without a home internet connection. So, bear with me if my entries are sporadic. Monday’s rice krispie treats with nutella and peanut butter came out beyond delicious by the way. I used about 3/4 cup total split evenly between nutella and peanut butter.

Tonight, I am making homemade pizza. The dough is currently rising (multigrain: 1/2 cup rye flour, almost one cup whole wheat flour, slightly more than one cup unbleached white flour). The one pizza will be a rather thin crust with Wegmans extra chunky pizza sauce (has the highest vitamin A content of any pizza sauce I can find) and extra sharp white cheddar. In my Le Creuset skillet.

A second, smaller pizza will be vegetarian buffalo chicken. Same cheese, but Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo sauce instead of tomato sauce and some Morningstar vegetarian chicken products (probably the buffalo wings) and a few dollops here and there of Target’s Archer Farms Buffalo Blue Cheese dip.

It was delicious, but I overdid it on the Red Hot sauce. Also, I had a feeling I didn't need the veg. chicken and I would have enjoyed this so much more with fresh broccoli instead of fake meat.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Crazy Target trip

Because I've been working about 22 hours a week in addition to school, doctors' appointments and household duties... I have not done any shopping. My mother-in-law and I started planning Thanksgiving and I realized I had to get something into the house before we all starved to death.

I exaggerate but only slightly.

So, since I worked until 5:30 last night, my family and I walked through the store and did some shopping. There is way more processed crap in this list than usual, but it's Target. I did the best I could. Keep in mind that including this trip, we spent about $150 on groceries thus far in November and we've spent about $175 on eating out. That figure is high because we've been trying to change some routines and it's effected our planning/budget.

The list, prices regular prices with my discounts subtracted at the end:
  • shoelaces, $1.99
  • Tortilla chips with flax seed, $2.69
  • potato chips, two bags at $2.69 each
  • the giant container of cheeseballs, $4.99
  • JIF Peanut Butter, $4.39
  • funky peanut butter my husband picked out, $1.77
  •  Dole salad $1.34
  • some Market Pantry product I can't remember $3.99
  • three regular sized cans of hunts sauce, 69 cents each
  • Archer Farms buffalo blue cheese dip, $2.69
  • 24 ounces of Market Pantry medium salsa, $2.29
  • Something Reese? 99 cents
  • Market Pantry rice cereal, $2.34
  • New England Blueberry Cobbler coffee, $4.99
  • Archer Farms Pumpkin Spice coffee, $6.99 (not impressed with the flavor, never again)
  • Tazo Rose tea, $3.29
  • Battered fish fillets, $3.99
  • Archer Farm multigrain bread, $2.89
  • marshmallows, 96 cents
  • 1 lb strawberries, 2.99
  • 4 small lemons, $1
  • Green Giant vegetables, one almond and green bean, one broccoli and cheese sauce, $1.27 and $1.38
  • Archer Farms steam in bag broccoli florets $2.29
  • Old Orchard Apple Raspberry juice concentrate, $1.17
  • Market Pantry Apple Juice concentrate, 97 cents
  • whole milk, half gallon, $1.94
  • Silk Very Vanilla, half gallon, $2.69
  • Half and Half $1.19
  • two containers of heavy cream, $1.99 each
  • frozen Archer Farms crème brûlée, $5.29
  • Morningstar meat analogs: one bacon, two breakfast patties, one chik'n nugget, one buffalo wing, $3.39 each
  • Tom's of Maine Sensitive toothpaste $3.69
  • Five pack of protein bars, $3.99
  • Up Aluminum Foil, a GIGANTIC role, $6.39
  • cat litter, 20 pounds, $7.89
  • Archer Farms fruit bars and granola bars, 3 boxes at 2.50 each minus $1 off coupon
minus 15% (10% employee discount and 5% red card) $113.04

Looking at this list, I'm a tad mad at myself for not doing an Aldi run and saving another $10 or so off some of the items on this list. Live and learn.

Daughter feeds the babysitter

Guest blog entry from my friend Gayle who watched my daughter for a couple hours yesterday:

From the mouths of babes ....

Today I child sat while mommy went to work.

As we were driving to Target the Angel mentioned that my car, Aretha, was very, very dirty. During the discussion the child mentioned she would make lunch. I thought, sure, right. She's six.

Our first stop on the way home was the car wash. She had never been to the drive thru kind. [Mimi] uses the the one where you do-it-yourself. We came out and parked at the vacs. I gave her a hose assuming she'd know what to do. She did. The middle of every area. I went and followed her and did the sides and corners.

Our next stop was mommy's other favorite store, Aldi. Her first favorite is Wegman's. Talk about extremes. I needed paper towels to do the car windows. Angel had mentioned her father-in-law makes a mean window cleaner. I usually use vinegar and newspapers. I knew Angel wouldn't have the paper. The child reminded me numerous times "that mommy didn't use paper towels, and that they were wasteful". "Yes", I assured her. "I don't use them as a rule either, but for some things they are best for the job". "But mommy says they are wasteful". And so it goes.

We get into Aldi and she asks for cereal. "No, mommy has very specific things you are allowed to eat. I don't want to buy the wrong thing. We came for cheap paper towels." They had started stocking up on the Christmas toys and she spied a doctor Barbie. Again I said "no". We get the towels and she says "I bet you'll say yes" and headed down the aisle for the fruit and veggies. She was right, I did. We bought tangerines to eat with lunch.

So we got back to her house and she starts making lunch. Calling out the nutrition play by play.

Cheese: We cut this into three squares each, 2 colors. It's protein and milk. Cheese is good for you.
Crackers: Pick those because all the colored spots are nutrition. Three one for each piece of cheese.
All on one plate. I tried to put it on our plates and she said no, you have to take it from the common plate, at the table.


Trail Mix in little plastic cups: Raisins and red things (strawberries) because they are fruit and they are sweet. And these yellow things (ginger) because they are spicy and that's good with sweet. And nuts because they are good for you. And chocolate covered raisins because they are yummy.
[Angel's note: They were chocolate covered dried plums]

Plus I heated the thyme bread that Angel left out for us.

So it works. If you start young, they understand what's important. I wanted to mention it was a bit of a carb overload, but she's six. It wasn't PBJ.

Rice Krispies Treats

My daughter has discovered mass produced rice krispies treats for sale in the school cafeteria for 75 cents each. She likes them. At six, she doesn't quite get that they are not free and that they suck all the money out of her lunch account, especially when she buys them without my permission. One day she may go hungry because she wasted all her lunch money.

I told her we could make real rice krispie treats if she stopped buying them in the cafeteria and she said okay.

I don't like the plain ones, I prefer the peanut butter. So, I needed the recipe. And we disconnected the internet at home so I'm now in the library on the Rice Krispies web site.

Rice Krispies treats from the official Rice Krispies site

Summary of the original recipe:
3 tablespoons   butter or margarine
1 package   (10 oz., about 40) regular marshmallows
- OR -
4 cups  miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup  peanut butter
6 cups   Rice Krispies®

1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter until melted. 2. Add KELLOGG'S RICE KRISPIES cereal. Stir until well coated.
3. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. Best if served the same day.

For best results, use fresh marshmallows.
1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow crème can be substituted for marshmallows.
Diet, reduced calorie or tub margarine is not recommended.
Store no more than two days at room temperature in airtight container. To freeze, place in layers separated by wax paper in airtight container. Freeze for up to 6 weeks. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

Comments from others that I took to heart:
-There's always a weak peanut butter flavor. So I usually add just a tad bit more. 1/4 cup or so, or I add some peanut butter chips to liven up that taste!
- I made this recipe with Nutella instead of peanut butter

so we'll see what daughter and I do after school!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ravioli in Leftovers

On Wednesday, while my daughter was in dance class, I recycled the leftover chicken stuffed with broccoli from Williams' on Monday night into a fabulous ravioli with cream sauce dish.

I started by heating two tablespoons butter over low in my Le Creuset skillet. When it melted, I whipped in two tablespoons of flour my stirring it around with the bottom of a plastic measuring spoon. Then I added one cup half and half and one cup 2% milk, a pinch of nutmeg and a pinch of four color peppercorn. I used a wooden spatula to stir until it boiled.

Separately, I prepared one bag of Wegmans Ravioli Florentine. I always get raviolis with green vegetable matter inside. It's an easy way to increase our vegetable content.

I chopped the remaining chicken breast until the chicken, broccoli and ham were all diced into small pieces. Then, I added this to the cream sauce and let it simmer. I added the cooked ravioli and let it soak over very low heat, stirring frequently, until everyone came home from dance class.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ten Minute Shopping

So, last night on my half-hour meal break I ran through Target and grabbed a few things.

The cat needed some wet cat food. He doesn't like the chicken flavor and that's all we have. So I got him five cans of fishy flavors. (4 cans at 42 cents, 1 at 37 cents).

Neither us nor the tortoise has had greens lately, so I checked out the produce aisle. Sad really, the state of that green stuff. But, it's very cold and the tortoise is picky about eating right now so I grabbed the least brown romaine lettuce on clearance for $1, regularly $1.99. After all, I'm feeding it to her right away and it was still in a state I would eat so...

Then, I got into the fruit because I noticed raspberries. They were a tad wet, so they were reduced to $1.50 for the 6 ounce container. They didn't look moldy or rotten, just overwet. And raspberries last five minutes in my house. So, I bought 2 containers. Ate one last night when I got home. Shared some with the tortoise. They were fine, just wet.

Bought a pound of strawberries, $2.49 (sale price, but not clearanced)

Four bananas at 19 cents each.

Some flavored water, four bottles for $1.99. Primarily purchased because I forgot my water bottle. Disappointed because they have sucralose and I was hoping for no artificial sweeteners.

And panty liners.

Total: $13.07
Employee discount: $1.31
Red Card discount: 60 cents

New total: $11.37

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Once a week?

I don't know what has happened that I haven't cooked... I made a pot roast in the crock pot yesterday with a combination of beef broth and vegetable stock. I didn't like it. The family loved it.

Today's school lunch:
  • Leftover beef with jus in the thermal container
  • raisins and chocolate covered dried plums
  • carrots
  • 100% juice fruit punch juice box
  • A slice of whole wheat processed sandwich bread with butter
Breakfast was milk, banana cake with almonds and an apple.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Pecan Crêpes

I finally got a chance to revisit pumpkin crêpes.
I forgot the thing I always forget. When I make crêpes, they work best if I get the Le Creuset skillet and grease in lightly but completely with butter, get it good and hot- a hair over medium, and then do not add more fat as I could. Dry and hot seems to be the secret to keeping crêpes from sticking. At least for me.

Today, I made half the recommended sauce for these crêpes, and added about 1 or so cups of chopped pecans. I also reserved some extra pumpkin from the can to substitute for one of the eggs in the traditional crêpe recipe. So where my traditional crêpe recipe calls for two eggs, the pumpkin recipe only has one. More details in the second link below. 

The pumpkin filling and sauce:

The pumpkin crêpes:

Envious of my daughter's lunch

I want my daughter's lunch.

I packed her a juice box, an apple picked from a local orchard, a snickers mini, and the entrée is a special salad:
  • romaine
  • organic ranch dressing
  • sunflower seeds
  • dried pineapple
  • smoked pork
  • sharp cheddar

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What we've eaten and what we're plotting

Breakfast lately has been multigrain toast from Target, with real butter, apples from the local orchard, chocolate soy milk and cashews. Do I need to say mornings have been hectic?

My husband has been eating a lot of peanut butter, because when he doesn't come home for lunch he prefers not to heat up his lunch since they removed his preferred microwave.

My daughter has grown enamored with school lunch, so that's why you haven't seen any posts on that.

My culinary genius is going under-used.

The leaves have turned. Halloween is just around the corner.
I want pumpkin.

Maybe these:
or these:
or these:

I had planned to make a white pizza with spinach for dinner tomorrow, a frozen one from Target I got on clearance, since tomorrow is dance, but I may have more time to cook then and be able to make some sort of pumpkin crêpe... Stay tuned

Monday, October 25, 2010

Provolone and pork mac and cheese

Tonight I made a quick mac and cheese with some smoked pork chops my mother-in-law brought over from the butcher.

The mac and cheese sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1.5 tablespoons flour
  • about three tablespoons heavy cream (all I had left)
  • about 1/2 teaspoon mustard
  • about 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • about 5-6 ounces extra sharp provolone
  • 2 cups two percent milk
I heated one fairly large smoked pork chop and cut the meat into chunks and added that and about 1.5 cups frozen peas into the cheese sauce. I also included about three tablespoons pork drippings from the skillet in the sauce.

I used a regular box of rotini, mixed it up in a pyrex casserole dish and baked it for 30 minutes at 375. Because I wasn't home to watch it, it got a tad crispy on top but the bottom was juicy so mixing it all up before serving solved that problem.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Target shopping

Okay, so I spent $26 on groceries and $10 on an 18-pack of double roll Cottonnelle and $2 on cat food at Target today. My TargetRED debit card came today and I had to try it out. The RED card, either credit or debit, allows anyone to get 5% off all Target purchases everyday. I also have my 10% employee discount which allowed me to buy:

  • Archer Farms Organic Tortilla Chips with Flax Seeds, sale price $2.50 minus an additional 15%
  • Archer Farms General Tso's Potato Chips (damn impulse buy!), sale price $2.50 minus an additional 15%
  • Dole Romaine Lettuce with carrots (bagged salad), $2.24 minus an additional 15%
  • Hunts small cans of tomato sauce with oregano, basil and garlic, two cans at 37 cents each, minus an additional 15%
  • Market Pantry 16 ounce cans of tomato sauce, three cans at 57 cents each, minus an additional 15%
  •  Market Pantry multigrain sandwich bread, $2.75 minus an additional 15%
  • Diet Coke with lime, the 12-can pack I think, $3.66 minus an additional 15%
  • Two percent milk, half gallon, $1.84 minus an additional 15%
  • Eggs, 18 large, $1.94 minus an additional 15%
  • Archer Farms soymilk, half gallon, $2.44 minus an additional 15%
  • Silk Almond Milk, vanilla, half gallon,  $2.69 minus an additional 15%
  • Market Pantry cheddar cheese, two eight ounce blocks, at $2.19 each minus 50 cent Target coupon, minus an additional 15%
  • Frozen pizza, white with spinach, $4 minus an additional 15%
  • Morningstar vegetarian breakfast patties, two boxes at $3.34 each, minus an additional 15%
  • Sauve kids, 22 ounce of shampoo/body wash, $2.51 minus an additional 15%

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Crazy Carrot 'Taters

Comfort food with a twist...

On the plane to France I had a special purée of potatoes and carrots. I liked it. So, tonight when I was faced with some potatoes at the end of the line and a plethora of carrots, I decided to mash them all.
  • six potatoes, sliced and cooked (skins still on)
  • 1 pound carrots, cleaned and cooked
  • About 1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy cream (decadent I know, but I ran out of milk)
  • 1 teaspoon organic four color peppercorn
  • 2 containers of Papa John's garlic sauce
The cream and garlic sauce probably contradicts the healthfulness... but they were yummy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lessons at a diner

Wednesday night is dance class for the little one. She does her homework, gets her dance gear on, we pick up Daddy at 4:30 and head to the dance studio for 5 p.m. class.

The original process was one parent got dropped off at home while the other went to dance. That way, dinner could be on the table when dance class dismissed.

But Wednesday is a CrAzY day in this house. I have two classes, E has school, Dad works and when we finally get homework done and dinner eaten, it's time to collect the garbage and sometimes I have meetings.

So, I decided to try eating out on Wednesdays. Especially now that I have a job. It takes some stress and craziness from our lives and creates a new family night.

Tonight, we went to Williams Family Restaurant on William Penn Highway, a place we typically go to for late night snacks or breakfast. Husband and I both got burgers (which were disappointing) and E read her menu carefully. It had lots of pictures, and one photograph caught her attention. We couldn't ascertain what it could be.

Our six-year-old asked the waitress. She answered that it was chicken stuffed with broccoli, topped with raspberry sauce. Daughter announced she'd like that. It came with bread, soup and salad bar. Daughter had a feast.

The chicken breast was stuffed with large pieces of broccoli, swiss cheese and proscuitto. It looked incredible, smelled even better and when she let me have a bite, I was totally impressed.

Goes to show that asking questions can yield nice surprises.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Avocado Recycle: Green chicken salad

I made some chili for dinner tonight and when I went into the cupboard for the roasted tomatoes, I noticed a can of chicken. I received the canned chicken as a gift, and I like having it around for impromptu batches of chicken salad (cravings do happen).

So yesterday, since I didn't have avocados firm enough for the avocado salad, I mashed them into a dip which my husband enjoyed snacking on with crackers. I commented that it would make an awesome topping for a turkey breast sandwich on a big bun.

Enter can of chicken. Remove last loaf of English muffin bread from freezer and toss in oven. Mix chicken and avocado-mustard dip and pile on bread with romaine.

So, I mixed:
  • the can of chicken
  • the avocado dip made from two avocados
  • about 1 teaspoon it's a dilly
  • the remaining dressing from the attempt at avocado salad
  • about 1 teaspoon four color organic peppercorn
  • about 1/4 cup cucumber
And what I've created is some really green chicken salad!

I love it! It's fabulous.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Avocado Salad

This is my first shot at replicating the avocado salad I had at a French household.

This sounds similar:
At least in terms of dressing... so...

I made a good dressing of:
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, cold-pressed
  • almost 2 tablespoons lemon dijon mustard
  • 1 TBS champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsps. fresh parsley
I like the way the dressing turned out, but my avocados are overripe and mushy. I threw them in the fridge to chill will the dressing, but it's a futile attempt. I have a feeling I'll be mashing them and making avocado mustard dip. 

Vegetarian Provolone Garden Club Wrap

I made yummy vegetarian garden wraps today with Morningstar breakfast strips (bacon) and extra sharp provolone. I layered in them:
  • Romaine lettuce
  • carrots
  • cucumber (from the garden)
  • one strip Morningstar vegetarian bacon
  • extra sharp provolone
  • sunflower seeds
  • organic ranch dressing

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ethnic food in Paris

First night in Paris. Evening meal was Algerian. Soup and couscous Merguoz (sp?).

Second day in Paris. Roasted corn on the street corners. One Euro for an ear of corn that's been cooked over an open fire in a metal can inside a shopping cart until it's crisp and chewy.

Last night in Paris. Dinner at a random Arab restaurant. Fast food-- Paris style. Lamb chawarma dripping with Harissa (according to google it's a Tunisian chili pepper sauce).

Most of these items were so delicious they disappeared before I could photograph them.

Two weeks! (and Paris)

It's been two weeks since I wrote in this blog, in part because of my trip to Paris. Ah, what culinary delights. I'm going to tease you now, by sharing some of my adventures and starting with my first lament.

Why can't Americans make a decent breakfast pastry? And a good cup of coffee? Starbucks exists in France now, and that confounds me. Why on this green Earth would you need Starbucks in France?  In the land of warm croissants, brioche, pain au chocolat, pain au noisette, pain au raisin, brioche au chocolat... Really, Starbucks?

Today I attempted my own café crème. My research suggested a tablespoon of warm cream in coffee brewed like espresso would do it. I pulled the cappuccino machine out of the basement and gave it a thorough cleaning. Then I prepared some Trader Joes whole coffee beans via the grinder. I measured out a guess of how much coffee I would need and brewed some Trader Joes coffee in my Krups machine. I warmed up some heavy cream, spooned it into demi-tasse cups and added the coffee and sugar.

It was good, but it felt thin. I'll keep trying.

Before I reflect more on Paris, I have to let you know I have completed two shifts at the Target café, my new part-time job. I purchased two of the turkey clubs I made and served with leftover Asian-style salad from dinner last night. Our Target is a "PFresh" which means it carries groceries and fresh produce but isn't a full SuperTarget. My employee discount is 10% and as soon as I get my Target Debit card, I'll get an additional 5%. This is cool news since some of the "splurge" items we like (like our blueberry cobbler coffee) are available at Target.

Avocado salad chez Célia's grand-mère
But on to food... in Paris. Some of these meals you will see me try to replicate. Like Célia's grandmother's avocado salad. I believe this is a vegan dish, if the recipe they told me is complete. It was very simple: avocado cut in chunks and a dressing of oil, vinegar, mustard and parsley. Good stuff. Really good stuff. I bought avocado and an Archer Farms lemon dijon mustard to try and do this.

frog with escargot in the background. I had already eaten one leg.
Something I won't be replicating really soon is my "tourist dinner" from Saint Michel. I ate escargot in this fabulous green sauce, frog, and rabbit in mustard sauce.

Pot au feu, so tender...
I would love to make pot-au-feu as succulent as Célia's grandmother prepared hers, but I have always viewed this as a dish for real chefs with lots of meat products that I'm not ready to deal with.

We'll call that post one from France. My next post will have to recount the ethnic foods I enjoyed.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Crazy Zucchini Cakes

Crazy Zucchini Cakes and mango slices
The Crabbiless Crab Cakes from the Imus cookbook are a favorite in this house, but no one -- until today -- has shared zucchini with me.

Clicking on the Imus link should take you into the recipes from that cookbook.

Tonight, I'm nervous as my mixture is feeling too wet and I mixed up some ingredients big time. Using up leftovers.

So, instead of regular cheese (they recommend soy cheese), I mixed cottage cheese, cheddar and smoked gouda.

Instead of breadcrumbs, I used homemade bread crumbs, cornflakes and wegmans whole grain breadcrumbs.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Apple & Potato Pancakes

I got the idea today to make apple-potato pancakes for dinner. So, first the research: standard recipe from Taste of Home and vegan recipe from VegWeb. Mr. Breakfast has a baked version.
The standard version:


  • 2 large potatoes, peeled
  • 2 medium apples, peeled
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Oil for deep-fat frying
  • Sour cream, optional


  • Finely shred potatoes and apples; pat dry. Place in a bowl; add the eggs, onion, flour and salt and mix well.
  • In a skillet, heat 1/4 to 1/2 in. oil over medium-high heat. Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls into hot oil. Flatten to form 3-in. pancakes. Fry until golden brown; turn and cook the other side. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately with sour cream if desired. Yield: 10-12 pancakes.
 The vegan one:
Apple Cinnamon Potato Pancakes

Ingredients (use vegan versions):

    5 tablespoon flour
    1 cup shredded potatoes
    chopped apple
    cinnamon to taste
    sugar to taste
    salt to taste
    water - enough to make pancake batter
    oil to fry in


Mix potatoes, apple, cinnamon, sugar, salt, and flour in a bowl. Add enough water to make pancake batter. Taste test to make sure its sweet enough.

Heat oil in a frying pan and spoon in the batter. Cook until bottom is golden brown with a few darker spots, then flip until the other side is the same.

I experimented with what to serve this with, but powdered sugar didn't exactly please my taste buds. They were okay alone, but they need something... vegan margarine topped it for me.

I took the recipe for potato pancakes from the vegetable section and tweaked it... I am a new vegan and was desperate for breakfast. Thats why I don't have specifics on the cinnamon, sugar, and salt. Sorry about that.

Serves: 6

Preparation time: 30 minutes

And from Mr. Breakfast:

Apple-Potato Pancakes
(4 servings)    

  • 1 and 1/4 cups unpeeled apples - finely chopped
  • 1 cup peeled potatoes - grated
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Preparations: Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Spray cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray; heat over medium heat until hot. Drop rounded Tablespoons of batter 2 inches apart into the skillet. Cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.

Place pancakes on prepared cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until crisp. Serve with additional apple sauce or apple slices.

Healthy and tasty. You'll love these groovy suckers.

Mr Breakfast would like to thank Mr Breakfast for this recipe.

Angel's Apple-Pear-Potato cakes
  • 4 potatoes, grated
  • 2 jersey mac apples, grated
  • 1 sugar pear, grated
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon local honey 
  • 1 teaspoon four color pepper
  • about 1/4 cup unbleached flour
  • canola oil and Le Creuset skillet for frying
I patted the potato dry, but left the fruit wet. Mixed it all up and fried.

Quick and hearty

Breakfast today was fruit juice and biscuits with peanut butter and blackberry jam.

For lunch, our daughter has chicken and dumpling soup in her thermos (canned variety), grapes, the big carrot from our garden, and goldfish crackers. With a juice box.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Biscuits and corn

Made skillet biscuits and vegetarian sausage sandwiches for dinner, a request from the family.  I haven't made biscuits in a while... and the child especially asked for them. I like them made in the Le Creuset skillet.

For a side, I made a mix of white and yellow corn. Then, I sliced some green pepper from the garden very tiny. I melted in a small skillet two tablespoons of butter, added a pinch of four color peppercorn and a pinch of garlic salt. Heated that on low and added the pepper. Used that as sauce for the corn.

Pasta two times

Last night, we had some pasta, with plain tomato sauce, herbs from the garden (oregano, lots of basil), fresh tomato, crumbled Morningstar vegetarian breakfast patties and romano from Calandra's Italian cheeses.

Today for lunch, I was feeling like a needed a hearty meal, so I fried some honey ham, tore it, and dropped the leftover noodles in the frying pan with the ham. As it heated, I added shredded gruyere. Perfect for this rainy day.

Egg sandwiches

Yesterday morning I went for blood work. I came home and had breakfast with a neighbor: half-caff coffee, cheerios with skim milk, cranberry juice and grapes.

Because I had started the day with a fast, I was starved by noon, so I made my husband and I egg sandwiches with ham, gouda, and egg on a bagel. With Girl Scout Cookies from the freezer for dessert.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Packed Nachos

My daughter wanted nachos for lunch. Since I'm always up for a challenge, I heated some of the black beans I made in the crockpot and melted some monterey jack cheese over them. (The cheese is the only part of this lunch that isn't vegan.) I put the beans/cheese in her thermal bowl.

Separately, I gave her tortilla chips, black olives and mango salsa.

I also gave her a dish to prepare them on.

Drink is a juice box as with all those containers there is no room for a thermos.

Nachos were such a big success they were requested again today.
Apparently, she made her own little nachos in the dish I gave her and then decided to pile the olives and salsa directly onto her remaining beans and ate it without the chips. Then she had the chips by herself.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I didn't eat nearly enough the other day. I ate, but in the busyness of the day I merely did not eat enough. So, at 8ish, I made a can of Spaghetto-Os (which ironically, my daughter hates) and I ate them as my mom would serve them: directly out of the pot.

Washed it down with a glass of rooster wine. I originally purchased the wine for my stew. It was cheap and I loved the look of the rooster.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Breakfast for school lunch

Today my daughter has a strawberry pancake in her thermal bowl with real maple syrup and a morningstar vegetarian breakfast patty. Beverage is some unsweetened Silk soymilk. A side of grapes. Simple lunch that should thrill the little one.

Monday I'm packing nachos. Seriously.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Asian inspired salad

Tonight my husband started and I finished these Asian-inspired salads. Bagged salad with carrot, cabbage and lettuces. Cashews. Sunflower seeds. Dried pineapple. Wegmans Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette. Green pepper from the garden. These would have been vegan, but my husband added cheddar and extra sharp provolone.

Yellow local watermelon

My in-laws bought a yellow watermelon from a local farmer yesterday. My daughter says it tastes just like regular watermelon, although I felt like the fruit itself had less flavor but the juice was richer.

Lunch today, for the little one, will be beef stew in the thermal bowl (she seemed to have a hard time getting the chunks out of the bottom of the thermos so the bowl may be better), more mandarin oranges, and a tastykake from her grandmother. A peanut butter kandycake. So that will be a huge, out-of-the-ordinary treat.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A week?

Where did the last week go?

Well, over the weekend I made a HUGE crock pot of beef stew with loads of leftover fresh veggies on the verge of turning.

Lunch on Monday for school lunch was half a tuna sandwich, boxed mac and cheese with broccoli, an orange-tangerine juice box and an apple that Dad packed.

School Lunch at Tuesday was a thermos of beef stew, a fruit punch juice box, mandarin orange slices, and some candy.

Today was half a cheesesteak leftover from dinner last night (which was take out cheese steaks, salad and leftover baked potatoes), an apple, a tangerine-orange juice box, and her last bag of fruit snacks.

We're having leftover beef stew ourselves for lunch and my husband's mom is bringing dinner in one dish and banana bread for dinner.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Broccoli slaw

I bought broccoli slaw at wegmans to use as filling for egg rolls and forgot the egg roll wrappers. I decided to prepare a cold broccoli slaw salad using this dressing from

1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. Miracle Whip
1/4 c. oil
1/4 c. vinegar

But we all know I won't stick to the recipe so let's see what I throw in my pot.

- left the sugar at 1/2 cup because my family doesn't like vinegar, so the sugar will balance that.
- not quite 1/2 cup Miracle whip (the Aldi kind)
- oil: split 50/50 between olive and canola, with a tablespoon of walnut
- vinegar: 50/50 apple cider vinegar and champagne vinegars

Now, the recipe says to heat until combined and add nuts, golden raisins, carrots etc. as desired.

I have 12 ounces of broccoli slaw, which is strips of broccoli [stem], carrots and red cabbage. I'm going to use some really good peanuts I have and chopped some of my dried pineapple. I don't know if I'll add anything else. Probably sunflower seeds.

Chill 1 hour before serving.

Okay, so I ended up adding three grated organic carrots and I probably could have added more. I added about 1.5 cups unsalted kettle cooked peanuts, about 1 cup sunflower seeds (unsalted), about 1/4 cup raisins, 2 dried pineapple rings chopped into tiny squares.

This could easily be vegan if you use a soy mayonnaise instead of Miracle whip style product.

I ate THREE servings. Got my veggies for the day.

Special Request school lunch

My daughter told me in the car last night that her "mouth was watering for boxed macaroni and cheese." So, I packed some Wegmans spirals and cheese dinner in her thermal bowl. With what else? An organic carrot, some of the Terra chips she didn't try yesterday, half a tuna sandwich on whole grain white, a 100% juice juice box, and some chex mix for dessert (or in case she doesn't like the chips).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cheesy Stuffed Peppers

I made a cheesy version of stuffed peppers which is in my Pfaltzgraf (sp) casserole dish in the oven now.

I started with seven peppers picked from the garden after a hail storm Monday. I cleaned them, cut the tops off, took the seeds out and boiled them for five minutes.

Then, I steamed (as in my steamer) some Israeli couscous with some garlic salt. Israeli couscous is huge compared to its "standard" cousin.

Next I made a sauce:
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, cold-pressed
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon four color organic pepper

Heat. Add:
- 1 can plain tomato sauce
- 5 torn basil leaves from the garden
- About 1/2 cup torn homemade bread, stale

- The couscous (I made one cup dry = hell of a lot prepared)
- About 1 cup shredded cheddar
- About 1/4 cup grated romano
- About 1/8 cup grated parmesan
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 2 tomatoes from garden, diced

Stir. Stuff peppers and arrange in casserole dish. Plop extra filling around the peppers. Pour a second can of tomato sauce all around. Cover with lid. (My casserole dish is ceramic)

Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

An almost standard lunch.

Today almost got away from me, with lateness kicking us in the face. Husband and daughter made it to school on time, but barely.

Daughter enjoyed her lunch yesterday and I was worried it was a "fail."

Wednesday's special:
- Fruit cup of cantaloupe, watermelon and red grapes
- pepperoni, monterey jack and extra sharp provolone on whole grain white
- 100% juice box
- sliced peppers (from my garden) and organic ranch for dip
- Terra chips (the bag with the potatoes of various colors and sweet potatoes)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

School lunch fail?

This week has been nuts in our household already.

I'm not real proud of today's lunch. By special request, apple butter and cottage cheese in the thermal cup. A big bowl of watermelon. A slice of homemade cinnamon raisin bread. And a special kid size water bottle with refreezable ice cube with apple juice.

Too much fruit, not enough protein perhaps.

But she'll love it.

Tomorrow we'll pack salad and carrots and something "junky" for dessert. We'll see her opinion after school.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pasta and sushi

My daughter loved her sushi lunch... so much that she wants sushi again tomorrow but I told sushi needs to be fresh and we need to eat it today since it's fish. So we had an appetizer of sushi with dinner.

Dinner was a simple pasta with red sauce and basil and tomato from the garden.

And dessert will be leftover pear-molasses cake and coffee.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Because of my anemia this summer, I have not done a major shopping order since... I don't even know when. I've done the medium kinds of orders that were meant to be small orders but ended up bigger than anticipated... but...

My family volunteers with the Mary Meuser Memorial Library. This weekend was the library's annual book fair, so we spent a total of something like $30 on food and we bought some cookies, soda, hot dogs and tomato pie for lunch, plus a molasses pineapple upside down cake for my husband's birthday. AND a GIGANTIC bowl of fruit salad that the Friends of the Library made at my suggestion and no one but me bought, so I bought it all.

Then we got home last night and since it was my husband's birthday, my husband bought Papa John's pizza for the family. Two extra large pizzas and a calzone, some of which we plan on freezing.

Now, before I get into this grocery order, after all the cake and junk we ate this weekend we had big salads with garden tomatoes, monterey jack cheese, HUGE amounts of broccoli and pepperoni for dinner.

And for my daughter's school lunch, my school lunch and my husband's work lunch we have eel sushi from wegmans and fruit salad. Plus, for my daughter, a thermos with soy milk and a bag of Boo Berry so she can make a bowl of cereal to go with her fruit and sushi.

To the groceries:

- Wegmans White Made with Whole Grains sliced bread, $1.69 - Wegmans coupon so it was free
- soy milk, $2.69
- individual 6 ounce container of Wegmans organic super yogurt, 75 cents - Wegmans coupon so it was free
- large curd cottage cheese, $1.99
- 2 boxes of wegmans feta and spinach peorogies, 2 boxes at $1.69 each
- bag of frozen peas, 99 cents
- bag of frozen french cut green beans, 99 cents
- bag of florentine ravioli, $2.99
- two boxes of frozen spinach, 89 cents each
- whole wheat flour, five pounds, $2.39
- unbleached white flour, five pounds, $1.69
- box of raisins, $1.99
- four cans of chunky soup, 4/$5 minus manufacturers coupon
- blueberry cobbler whole bean coffee by Fasig's, $4.99
- various cambell's soups, purchased because I had a coupon and my daughter is on a soup kick. I bought them for when I don't have homemade ready or in the freezer and she says she wants soup. I think I bought nine cans and have three coupons. One coupon was for kid soup, why were all the kid's soups chicken? Kids don't like tomato or beef or vegetable? Weird.
- 2 jars of organic mango salsa, $2.99 each minus $1 wegman's coupon
- several cans of cat food, many salmon flavored, which came up on the receipt as "Weg Salmon" and I'm thinking, "I didn't buy any salmon..." and "Why was the salmon $1.28?"
- NUTELLA! 16 ounce jar, $3.98 minus $1 manufacturer's coupon. I smell crêpes and nutella and bananas in my future. Except I forgot eggs...
- 2 cans of garbanzo beans, 65 cents each, for hummus!
- 3 cans of spaghettos and meatballs at $1.09 each, minus a manufacturers coupon, except, funny thing is, the kid hates them. They are for her dad and I.
- large can of crushed pineapple, 99 cents
- OKAY - IMPULSE BUY - one box each of Frankenberry, Booberry and Count Chocula, because once a year I can't resist, $1.89 each
- clover honey, $2.69
- chex mix, four bags at $1.99 each minus two manufacturers coupons
- Juicy Juice 100% juice orange tangerine juice boxes, because sometimes her thermos doesn't fit in her lunch box, $2.49
- 3 cans of dark red kidney beans no sodium added, 59 cents each
- one large can pineapple chunks, 99 cents
- Pepperidge Farm goldfish, $1.50
- Ziti, 3 boxes at 69 cents each
- one can peach slices in light raspberry syrup, 99 cents
- nugget-shaped pasta, 89 cents
- light red kidney beans, 59 cents
- Pear halves in pear juice, large cans, 3 @ $1.59 each
- six boxes Wegmans spirals and cheese dinner, at 3/$1
- Quaker yellow corn meal, $1.39
- Libby sliced mango, $1.29/can
- 2 cans wegmans tomato sauce, 55 cents each
- rigatoni and rotini, 89 cents each
- V8 cream of broccoli soup, $2.49 minus manufacturers coupon
- fruit cocktail, small can in juice, 99 cents
- 2/ 32-ounce containers of Wegmans vegetable broth, plus one of the thai culinary broth, at $2.99 each
- 2 cans of large pitted black olives, $1.29
- Libby's mandarin oranges, one can, 79 cents
- sliced peaches packed in juice, 99 cents
- 2 small cans of wegmans chicken broth, low sodium, 69 cents each
- 2 small cans of wegmans beef broth, 64 cents each
- Dawn dish detergent, $1.79 minus coupon
- Terra vegetable chips, $3.99
- 2 bags of Goya dry black beans, $1.29 each, to which my six-year-old said, "YUM!"
- 20 ounces of ketchup, 99 cents
- 2 liter of wegman's mountain, 79 cents (for him)
- 6-pack of 20-ounce bottles of Wegmans Zero, $1.50 (for her)
- 2 boxes of Quaker Goya Farina, $2.29 each
- 12 pack of liter bottles of plain seltzer, $5.99
- stew beef, $5.03 minus $1 wegmans coupon
- Extra sharp provolone, $5.03 minus $1 wegmans coupon
- 8 eel rolls from the sushi bar, $5.49 minus $1 wegmans coupon
- 2 bags of wegmans bagged salad blends, 2/$5
- broccoli crowns, $2.12
- red seedless grapes, $4.12
- broccoli slaw, $2
- apples, $2.37
- organic carrots, 1 pound, 99 cents
- 10 bounds of potatoes, $6.89
- Israeli couscous, $1.61

Friday, September 10, 2010

A trip to Forks Mediterranean Deli

So, at lunch time I went to CVS to get Zyrtec for my daughter and some household items. I had a coupon for free Zyrtec but they didn't have any, so I had to buy the big bottle of generic at $14.

But I also stopped at Forks Mediterranean Deli, where I got a 16 ounce bottle of extra virgin cold pressed olive oil for $5.99. Last bottle was 25 ounces and I believe it was $7.99. But they didn't have that size. I also got Zaatar bread, two packages with two flatbreads each, for $3.25. They even had Zaatar spices, but I'm not ready to venture into making my own Zaatar bread.

I also bought unsalted cashews, dried strawberries and dried pineapple rings. My total was $$22.69.

School Lunch recycled leftovers

Today I sliced the pork from last night into narrow blocks and used the gravy like a condiment and made a sandwich from it for dear daughter's lunch. In the insulated bowl, I put hot sweet potato crunch. Snack of dried fruit: raisins, dried strawberries, sunflower seeds and the chocolate cover dried plums. And a juice box since there's no room for the thermos.

Editor's note: Daughter didn't like her sandwich. She called the meat "hard," which I interpret as dry, and suggested next time I add cheese.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Snacks and plans

So, I pick up my daughter from school and she tells me she didn't eat her lunch because someone threw up in the dining hall and she wasn't hungry.

I open her lunch box. Salad: gone. Animal crackers: gone. Banana: gone. Juice box: consumed. All that remained was the emergency "she's still hungry" mixed nuts.

For snack after school she had raisins, sunflower seeds and we finally opened the chocolate covered dried plums (aka prunes). She loved it.

Dinner for tonight is pork with apples and a side of sweet potato crunch (some of the topping is sunflower seeds, not just pecans). I'm considering a dessert of chômeur pudding.

More chicken salad lunch

Yesterday's chicken was a hit with everyone. I gave my daughter the option of having chicken salad or something else for lunch today and she picked chicken. I told her she could have chicken salad wrap like yesterday, chicken salad with crackers or chicken salad with greens.

She chose greens. I put some greens in the bottom of the dish with a touch of ranch dressing, and topped it with chicken salad. Other items include a banana and animal crackers and some mixed nuts. With a juice box, because there was no room left for the thermos.

I am floored by this choice. I expected crackers to be the winner. A wrap is hard for a kid to handle and keep the food inside. A salad is so grown up and boring. Crackers combine the idea of making tiny sandwiches with the concept of dipping, which is very kid-friendly. But she chose salad. How about that?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chicken salad experiment

I made chicken salad for our lunches tomorrow. I was originally thinking wraps with greens and chicken salad, but I could also do homemade cinnamon raisin bread from the freezer. Either with tomatoes. We got tons of tomatoes.

I started with about 2 cups of chicken, white and dark meat.
I added:
- 1.5 tablespoons mayonnaise
- about 1 teaspoon It's a Dilly
- about 1/4 cup shredded carrots
- about 1/4 cup petite diced green pepper from the garden
- less than 1/4 cup diced cucumber
- less than 1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
- less than 1/4 cup raspberries and blueberries (frozen)
- about six dried strawberries chopped

Tomorrow will tell what it tastes like.

'Standard' school lunch

Yesterday, my husband went to the store to get the contents of a surprise lunch-- school lunch for me and picnic for him and the daughter.

For $13, he got buy one get one free bagged salads, cream of wheat, smoked turkey breast from the deli counter and honestly I don't know if he purchased anything else. Oh! Gala apples and bananas.

But I do know he made smoked gouda and turkey wraps with greens and garden fresh tomatoes that make my mouth water even now.

For dinner, he made strawberry pancakes to use up the last of the strawberries we bought at the warehouse club last week. With a side of morningstar breakfast patties and real maple syrup.

For the little one's lunch today, I decided to go basic. Or my take on basic. Thermos with vanilla soy milk. Sides include a small bag of cool ranch doritoes, a Gala apple, a bag of 'fruit snacks' (a birthday gift), and one Hershey kiss. The sandwich is a small one, about the equivalent of half a standard sandwich. It's my homemade English muffin bread with mayo, turkey, vermont cheddar, spinach (carefully picked out of the bagged salad of mixed greens) and a thin slice of garden fresh tomato.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Another Mac and Cheese

Okay, so I had a craving for mac and cheese. Guess that means Thursday's event was a success.

I used up all my noodles on this.

I started with a saucepan:
- two tablespoons butter
- about 2 cups garden fresh tomatoes, diced
- 3/4 teaspoon four color organic pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
cook until bubbly.
I added:
- one crumbled Morningstar breakfast patty
cooked a while.
- 1 cup heavy cream
Simmered. after five minutes simmering I added
- I cup milk.
Meanwhile, I layered broccoli in the bottom of the casserole dish, and topped with the noodles.
Brought the milk base to a boil as the oven preheated to 325.
Removed milk from heat and added:
- About 2 ounces mozzarella
- About 3 ounces extra sharp provolone
- About 2 ounces vermont cheddar
- About 2 ounces smoked gouda
Once melted and combined I mixed the pasta and broccoli with the sauce and stuck about 1 ounce worth of mozzarella chunks between noodles. It's in the oven now for a half hour.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Exotic Mac and Cheese

Why do I always have dinner parties on the hottest days of the year?

I have guests coming tonight for the mac and cheese party, but due to some confusion and some scheduling upheaval, I appear to be the only one cooking. I made about 4 quarts of mac and cheese. 2 varieties. One rather plain and French/ croque monsieur inspired. The other artery-clogging and Italian-inspired.

Neither are cheap.

The French-inspired Mac and Cheese

mixed in saucepan, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes:
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon four color organic fresh ground pepper
Once bubbly, add
- 2 tablespoons flour, still and heat until bubbly
Warm separately
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
Add to the butter base and heat to boiling.
Remove from heat and add
- 1/3 pound shredded gruyere
- 1/4 pound smoked gouda, grated or chopped
Stir and add to noodles. Bake in oven as you would with normal mac and cheese.

The Italian-inspired mac and cheese

- Two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- one teaspoon garlic powder
- about 1 teaspoon fresh oregano
- about 8 leaves fresh basil, chopped
cook until fragrant and sizzling and add
- two tablespoons flour
cook a few moments and add
- about 1 cup diced proscuitto (spelling?)
- about six pepperonis, diced
when the meat seems glossy and done, add
- 2 cups milk
slowly bring to a boil
remove from heat and add
- about 6 ounces extra sharp provolone, chopped
- about 2 ounces mozzerrella
Combine with noodles
Top with chunks of mozzerella
Add pepperonis.

How to make basic mac and cheese, according to Betty Crocker:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Soup Lunch

Yesterday's lunch was a hit. I know because my daughter told me and a friend who volunteered in the lunchroom confirmed it. The other kids thought she was a little strange for bringing a drumstick, but she was thrilled.

Today's lunch requires some fine maneuvering to get it into the lunch box. One thermos filled with chicken rice soup (ah, my freezer reserves are getting depleted). Several Ritz crackers. One fruit punch 100% juice juice box. And the best part-- at least to my daughter-- is the watermelon for dessert. Even sent a reusable ice cube to keep it cold.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Second School Lunch

Yesterday my daughter was quite clear with what she wanted for lunch. Today she gave me leeway to surprise her. Today's lunch was strawberries and bananas in a thermal cup, one carrot (she likes them whole so she can eat them "like a rabbit"), one marinated chicken drumstick (that was still kind of frozen when it left the house, I hope it thaws in time), one organic raspberry lemonade juice pouch, and some mixed nuts. The mixed nuts are an emergency protein since I'm afraid the chicken might be frozen or even that I should have packed two.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Meatballs Fortano/First school lunch

Today was the first day of school.

For my daughter, we packed:
- peanut butter and blackberry jam on homemade cinnamon raisin bread
- banana
- white grape raspberry juice in a thermos with the same juice made into ice cubes to keep the thermos cold. They were Christmas tree ice cubes.
- About ten animal crackers
- a banana
- two Swedish fish

We packed something similar for my and my husband's lunch. Except we had cupcakes instead of Swedish fish.

For dinner, I got some tomatoes and basil from the garden and made bruschetta before I left for school.

When we got home, I got two everything bagels out of the freezer (last two). I thawed and toasted them, put the last of the cheddar cheese on them, and melted it. I stirred some grated romano into the bruschetta and piled the bruschetta on the bagels.

I got the leftover basil-mango-meatballs from the freezer and served them with the bruschetta bagels.

My daughter called this meal, Meatballs Fortano. She said the bagels reminded her of forts.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Angel's doughnut holes

I decided to try the doughnuts I've been thinking about for a week. School starts Monday here so we only have a day or two left to do something crazy.

This is the recipe from that inspired me:


1 c. milk, scalded
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 pkg. yeast
3 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 egg
Confectioners' sugar

Pour milk over butter and sugars; stir until melted and cool to lukewarm. Add yeast, stirring until dissolved. Sift flour, salt and nutmeg. Gradually add half the dry mixture to milk; add egg and beat well. Add remaining flour and leave dough in warm place for 1 hour. Knead gently, roll to quarter inch thickness and cut into diamonds. Allow to rise 30 minutes to 1 hour. Fry in deep fat, 375 degrees and dust with confectioners' sugar or use confectioners' sugar glaze if desired.

As you can imagine, I deviated from the recipe.
I didn't scald the milk. Merely warmed it to near boiling in the microwave. Matter of fact, I used half soy milk and half two percent milk.
I didn't sift all the dry ingredients together, I simply put two cups of the flour in, mixed it, added the nutmeg, mixed it, added the egg, mixed, added the other cup of flour and before I mixed it I added the salt.

I used about 3/4 to 1 cup of canola oil in my smallest sauce pan to fry these suckers, and I could have probably used a little less than that, more like the 3/4 cup mark. Because I made doughnut holes usually slightly smaller than a golf ball that was plenty.

For toppings, my daughter's favorite was local honey and powdered sugar. I liked brown sugar and cinnamon. I even made an "adult" doughnut by thickening the honey white wine sauce from the fruit salad the other day and then rolling it in granulated sugar. I made cocoa doughnuts with baking cocoa, chocolate sprinkles, granulated sugar and powdered sugar. And mix every other combination among them...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

End of August trip to Aldi

Had $26 plus change to my name. So, I went to Aldi.

Spent $26.36 (and will need to go to the store before Monday to get bananas for Lil Miss's school lunch)

- 2 bags tortilla chips, 99 cents each
- Broccoli crowns, 1.39
- Graham crackers, $1.25
- Kid Cuisine chicken dinner, one, at $1.79 (we have leftovers for our dinner tonight that are spicy so we thought we'd spoil her with some processed junk)
- Hazelnut nondairy creamer, $1.99
- 2 boxes of baking soda, 49 cents each
- Spinach rigatoni or something like that, $2.99
- chopped pecans, $2.89
- apple juice concentrate, 92 cents
- harvest vegetables in the steam in bag, 4 servings, $3.49
- flour tortillas, 99 cents
- white grape raspberry frozen juice concentrate, $1.24
- evaporated milk, 69 cents
- chicken and dumplings soup, 2 cans, $1.39
- Eggs, 99 cents