Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Garlic Multigrain Biscuits

This afternoon I made my multigrain yeast biscuits that I invented a couple weeks ago. They are in the oven now. I changed the liquid from 1.5 cups warm milk to 1+ cup warm soy milk, one container papa john's garlic sauce and 1/2 cup warm water.

I hope to serve them tonight with a meat and cheese platter, dates, and organic spring mix with bacon dressing (I got out of the freezer).

A friend stopped by today with various meats, some cheese and some vegetables so any shopping I do in July will be skewed if you're tracking how much I spend.

Cherry Yogurt

Today, we went with a red, white and blue breakfast.

Vanilla yogurt, chopped maraschino cherries ( yes, shame on me for not having fresh ones here at the tail end of cherry season. And I do so love cherries-- real ones not maraschino ) and a dollop of whipped cream.

Big pile of fresh blueberries and a side of cashews.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Vegan stirfry

I didn't get a photo of today's lunch, a simple and plain affair for which a friend joined us.

I heated the Le Creuset skillet with about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, cold-pressed, and a teaspoon of sesame oil, swirled around the pan with my hand. I fried the last serving of homemade seitan. Added a bag of the steam-in-bag spring vegetables with citrus sauce from Aldi.

Had rice cooking (1 cup) in the steamer. Combined it in the skillet (only about half the rice). Heated and stirred. Added about a 1/2 teaspoon four color organic pepper and a teaspoon of garlic salt.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

End of June update

It's amazing to think that I used to write in this blog 2-3 times a day. Since I've been doing this for almost two years, I guess it only makes sense that my entries would peter out.

But the anemia/anxiety issues I've been dealing with lately have also affected this, as they have affected my attempts at limiting the budget. It's hard to convince oneself not to use the charge cards to eat out when one can no longer remember how to prepare something as simple as chicken. And when the iron deficient anemia-related fatigue kicks in, it's probably dangerous to be in the kitchen.

For safety and flavor.

So, let's summarize June.

I spent about $200 on groceries. It's $190-something right now but hubby needs deodorant, we're out of sugar and nearly out of cooking spray. Husband will probably head to the store tonight.

I'm proud of that figure, especially since I don't have my full wits about me to shop aggressively and in an organized fashion.


We spent 13% of this month's income (nearly $260) on dining out which is unacceptable when I had to withdraw $400 from the savings account to survive this month. Again, I "blame" my poor planning and inability to function, but my goal this month is to curb that. No more credit cards! Not when we're so close to making ends meet.

That also said, $23 of that dining out bill was to treat a friend who spent several hours working on a substantial project for me. And $32 was my daughter's birthday dinner. And $35 was lunch out with the family at TGI Fridays for the last day of school when the bill came out unexpectedly high.

So, if we can act fiscally responsible for a week or two, I may allow a dinner out for Bastille Day, but a cheap one. Though we do have a 30% off coupon for Mex Tex Trio...

My goals for July:
- Desired goal for grocery budget: between $150-$200
- Desired goal for dining out budget: $75-100 ($0 would be nice but it ain't happening)
- Desired goal for food preparation: bake a large batch of bread and biscuits for the freezer. The only bread products I have left are tortilla shells from Aldi, one multigrain biscuit, and crackers.
- Brainstorm meals for these 100 degree days we've been having

Successes for June:
- While we have not eaten many formal meals, in it summer, so we've indulged in some cheese, cracker and fruit platters. This is a simple and quick dinner for the heat.
- We have eaten salad with/for at least one meal every day, keeping our veggie count up even when we got low on fresh veggies.
- My husband has brought home strawberries, blueberries, blueberries and raspberries from the store. I have served one of these at least once a day and had them available for snacking. My in-laws have brought watermelon several times as it is dear daughter's favorite, and I refuse to pay $5 for a watermelon. I also picked up dates at Forks Mediterranean Deli because they are one of my favorites and I love them.
- I have had cream of wheat with berries made with almond milk for most breakfasts.
- I have increased my red meat intake from once to twice a month to once a week.

For my final commentary for this entry (as I wait for the ginger pork I recreated from the recipe at the end of May-- I had more pork in the freezer thanks to a concerned friend, I had frozen the leftover sauce from last time, and I still had steamed baby carrots in the freezer from work) I wanted to bring up soy.

Three people have mentioned soy to me this week.

One believes it's evil and unable to be digested (um... the Japanese?). One read an article on processed soy and the chemicals used to extract "stuff" out of soybeans (which I believe is the same way they get oil from olives if you buy commercial olive oil. I'm told cold pressed is the way to go if you want to avoid olive oil processed with lye). The final person is working toward a cruelty-free diet and is now "down" to free range organic poultry and sustainable seafood.

So, my thoughts...

Any food product, whether carbs, soy, analog meat products, dairy or meat, needs to be part of a healthy balanced diet. Everything in moderation. To me, this includes homemade baked goods, ice cream and the occasional bag of commercial chips.

I have never used analog meat products in place of meat. When I use them, I use them as an ingredient in its out recipe, not as a simple replacement for meat. I may crumble Morningstar vegetarian sausage products into a scramble of potatoes and corn as a protein source as for the flavor, but I don't usually try to make a vegetarian meat loaf with some sort of soy product instead of ground beef. My mentality has never been to replace meat, but to use less of it and find other foods to become the center of meals.

My goals in meal planning are simple, at least to me. I try to include fruit, green veggies and orange veggies at least once a day. I usually use one protein source-- for instance if I have eggs, I won't have meat and cheese, too. If I have beans, I'll save the cheese for another meal. I don't serve meat more than every other day (thereabouts), more like once a week.

My daughter drinks one glass of chocolate soy milk or vanilla almond milk a day, one glass of 100% juice, and sometimes a glass of juice diluted with seltzer, and water the rest of the day. I use soy milk/almond milk for my daughter because there are no artificial ingredients (like but not limited to high fructose corn syrup).

I also use minimal processed foods. My big weekness is boxed mac and cheese, which we have about every other week when Daddy cooks. Usually with broccoli, cauliflower or peas.

And we have pasta about once a week and rice about once a week.

And we never have American cheese, though when given a chuck of velveeta we eat it. But my daughter prefers extra sharp white cheddar.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Baby's 6th Birthday

June babies mean a lot of sweating while baking birthday cakes...

Today's yellow cake is a kid-crazy chocolate chip, blue swirl number that started with the batter from last year's cake for Tracy. Only substitution is cutting the sugar back to 1 cup and using vanilla almond milk instead of milk.

After I mixed the batter, I divided the batter in half and added 1/2 a bag of chocolate chips to one half and poured it into the bottom of the cake pan.

The other half I took a LOT of blue food coloring and some rainbow sprinkles and mixed that. I poured it on top of the chocolate chip mixture in most places, along side in others, and swirled gently in others.



Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Salad with chicken strips

I intentionally flipped meals today-- I knew it was going to get hot and that I was probably going to burn out before the end of the day.

So I made the mac and cheese for lunch, before the house got hot, and planned salad with chicken for dinner.

Iceberg lettuce and romaine mix with cabbage and shredded carrots from the warehouse club, mixed with spring mix from Aldi. Used organic ranch dressing, the Nature's Promise Giant brand.

And I poured Frank's red hot buffalo sauce in with my ranch dressing to give it a kick.

Now the chicken. Boneless, skinless tenders from the freezer. Cooked slowly in butter with a pinch of four color organic pepper and fresh ground garlic salt.

Pasta days

Last night, my husband made spaghetti with herbs from the garden (basil and oregano) and morningstar vegetarian sausage. It was incredible.

During half time of the French/South Aftica game, I whipped up savory baked mac and cheese. Since it's going to be another hot day, I thought I'd turn the oven on for lunch.

I used my basic Betty Crocker recipe, but altered it to use as the cheese about 3 ounces sage derby, about 2 ounces monterey jack, and about four ounces Velveeta. And I used chives from the garden, fresh ground garlic salt and fresh ground four color peppercorn instead of onion for the base.

I'm baking it in the Le Creuset skillet with a heap of broccoli.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Refreshed Mexican

I took last night's leftovers from Mex Tex Trio and piled them on top of fresh nacho chips with some extra cheese and black olives and our favorite wegmans mango salsa.

To do that, hubby had to run to Aldi first for chips. He spent $17.41 and got a nice assortment of groceries. He was given the list, "greens, chips, soymilk, sauce, fruit?"

He came home with:
- 64 ounces of soymilk, $2.29
- 8 small cans of tomato sauce, 25 cents each
- 2 bags white tortilla chips, 99 cents each
- the Aldi brand of Peanut Butter Captain Crunch, $1.79
- small bag of spring mix, $1.69
- jalapeno cheddar kettle chips, $1.99
- Broccoli crowns, $1.49
- strawberries, $1.69
- raspberries, $2.49

Doctored Brownies

So, I had hoped to watch the World Cup (France vs. Mexico) at the local mexican restaurant and introduce my daughter to world soccer, but the restaurant did not have enough interest and canceled the showing.

We used the laptop to stream the game live from ESPN to our television and thus began our new obsession. And after Mexico trounced France, we had dinner at the Mexican restaurant.

The American game today was full of drama and emotion. It ended a few minutes before lunch so I fried up some of those Wegmans spinach feta peorogies.

While I did that, I had my daughter whip up some Duncan Hines brownies. In the house for those emergency chocolate attacks.

The fun with boxed brownies is all about the substitutions.

Instead of two eggs, you could use applesauce. (4 TBS for each egg)
Instead of water, you could use coffee.
Instead of pure vegetable or canola oil, I was wondering what would happen if I included some walnut oil.

Now, in this batch, I stuck to the directions but added lots of chocolate chips and some caramel candies. Then I scooped them into muffin tins since I don't own a brownie pan.

We baked at 325 for 30 minutes.

When they cool, I'm having one with a BIG glass of almond milk.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Midnight corn snack

I was in the mood for something salty. So, at 9 p.m., having not cooked a real meal since Friday, I whipped up the following in the Le Creuset skillet:

- 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, just enough to grease the pan
- about two teaspoons it's a dilly
- 1/2 teaspoon butter (omit if vegan)
- one Morningstar vegetarian sausage pattie, crumbled
- one can corn, rinsed
- one can sliced white potatoes, rinsed
- 1/2 teaspoon four color pepper
- another 1/2 teaspoon butter

Packed Lunch

Okay, so once again days have evaporated with us eating boring things like pasta, take out hamburgers and lots of salad.

Tomorrow, I am 'working.'

I am helping answer the phones at my stepmom's business. Just as a favor.

8:30 to 4:30. Now I haven't worked a traditional eight hour day in more than a decade. I was a journalist. We don't sit in an office. We go OUT. And about.

I got the call last night. Asking me to do this tomorrow. With the anemia and the finances and dentist appts for the whole family, I knew there would be no stopping by the store.

So I scavenged to pack a lunch that would provide enough food. For me.

I packed my Sigg water bottle, empty, knowing they have a water cooler. Meanwhile, my husband mixed up one of his coffee drinks (mine's mostly soymilk). I also packed a raspberry leaf tea bag. And a juice box-- the Organic Kids Raspberry Lemonade.

Beverages done.

Next: breakfast and morning snack.
- cottage cheese and apple butter
- one of my homemade oatmeal-strawberry-molasses breakfast bars

- Zaatar bread from Forks Mediterranean Deli with Greek feta (a friend brought some cheese and meat the other day, hence last night we had a cheese platter with sage derby. The child loved it.)
- BIG salad with raspberry vinaigrette dressing
- a piece of cashew nougat candy from the deli

Afternoon pick me up:
"trail mix" of
- dried strawberries
- raisins
- dark chocolate covered expresso beans
- candied ginger
- mixed nuts

Friday, June 11, 2010

Shrimp Scampi?

So we stopped at the Purple Cow Creamery since Little Miss got money from her grandparents for her kindergarten celebration.

We were on the way home and talking about the possibilities for dinner when my husband and daughter selected pasta. Now, I'm a once-a-week kind of pasta gal so I didn't really have interest in pasta. But I didn't have any better ideas so I asked the fateful question, "Pasta and red sauce pasta or pasta with butter/olive oil pasta?" To which my husband replied, "Oooooh. That would be good with shrimp."

Now, my anemia is proving a problem but I decided to be a good mom and said, "Tell ya what. If you don't mind waiting as long as it takes for me to make it, I'll make pasta with shrimp. But it might be 7 o'clock by the time I get it on the table."

"I'll help," he replied.

"I know," I said. "That's with your help. Otherwise it'd be breakfast."

Since I don't like shrimp, I got two small pieces of chicken out of the freezer for me and about 15-20 shrimp for them.

I sent hubby to the garden where he collected:
- chives
- spinach
- oregano
- parsley
- basil

I prepared the Le Creuset skillet with about:
- one tablespoon butter
- one tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- one clove sliced garlic

Simmered on low and added the herbs (and spinach) in ripped pieces. Once they got nicely cooked and aromatic, I added:
- the shrimp
- chicken
- the juice of about 1/3 a lemon (from my freezer and thawed in the microwave)
- another tablespoon butter

When I flipped the chicken I added to the "meats" in the skillet:
- about 1/2 teaspoon four color organic peppercorn
- about 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground garlic sea salt

Started a pot of spaghetti: half regular, half whole wheat

Once the chicken cooked, I added a can of peas to the skillet (ran out of frozen)

When the spaghetti finished, I drained it and returned it to the pot with the contents of the skillet and another teaspoon butter plus 1 teaspoon olive oil.

Then I mixed the juice from the remaining 2/3 of a lemon with a tablespoon butter (All in all the whole recipe was about 1/2 a stick of butter for 3 large servings and 3 small servings) over medium low in the skillet, stirring constantly until the color starts to change. Poured that over the pasta.

Dished onto plates, sprinkled asiago on top.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Groceries... Again?

I wanted a nice salad with my dinner and I thought we should pick up a few things. To avoid last week's fiasco at Giant, I took my daughter AND my husband.

It was exciting to find out Giant still hand the special on Almond Milk and a cheese sale!

I spent $52.32 and I wasn't trying to be economical as much as fill in some blanks in the pantry. What did I get? The following:

- 32 ounces of yellow cornmeal, $1.19
- Nabisco cream of wheat, $3.15
- Dry black beans, $1.07
- The big, big container of raisins, $2.69
- Dole American Blend salad, $2.50
- Dole Very Veggie salad, $2.50
- Dole Premium Harvest salad, $3.50
- 1.35 pounds Angus beef in stew chunks, $4.24
- 2 boxes Morningstar vegetarian sausage, $3.49 each minus $1 store coupon
- two frozen cylinders of Apple juice concentrate, $1.29
- Almond milk, vanilla, two half gallons at $2.99 each plus two 55 cent coupons
- Coffee mate, 32 ounce bottle, three at $3 each minus $1 store coupon
- 8 ounce blocks of cheese, four at $1.50 each (muenster, sharp cheddar, extra sharp cheddar and monterey jack)
- 8 ounces shredded cheese, two at $1.50 each (mozzerella and mexican)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Beans, Rice and Green Beans

I'm fairly certain I mentioned this is one of my leftover posts last week, but I'm not sure where it is so I'm uploading the picture here.

This is the quick meal I made when I thought I was making sausage and rice with greenbeans and I discovered that I didn't have sausage so, at my husband's suggestion, we made greenbeans, rice and black beans. I tried to whip up a seasoned white wine sauce, but it failed. The meal was bland so I topped with some garlic salt to salvage it, though the rest of the family liked it bland.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Salad and peorogies

Tonight we had salad with peorogies for dinner.

For salad:
The last of a romaine bagged salad with shredded carrots, some green leaf lettuce, and cucumbers with ranch for the kid and ginger-sesame vinaigrette for the adult.

Food You Can Feel Good About (Wegmans store brand) Spinach-Feta Peorogies, which I fried in the Le Creuset skillet in a mix of olive oil, canola oil and butter.

The family loved it. Lots of vitamin A, iron, protein and fiber too.

Killer turkey sandwiches

I made killer turkey sandwiches for lunch today.

On my homemade multigrain biscuits I lathered the homemade pesto mayonnaise, stacked green leaf lettuce on top, added cucumber and roast turkey. On the "lid," I sliced Jarlsberg cheese and melted it.

Served with a side of Italian vegetables (steam-in-bag from Aldi) and more cucumbers with dippings. Apparently, the cucumbers are a hit with my daughter. She's devouring them today.

I'm trying to make up for some vegetable deficiency while I haven't felt well.

Pesto Mayo (Picnic)

Yesterday while our daughter was in school, my husband (who took the last of his vacation days this week) suggested a picnic dinner.

I had been hungry for a turkey sandwich so this was A-okay with me.

He went to Giant and picked up a half-pound of smoked turkey breast, some green leaf lettuce, multigrain bagels, a bag of Cool Ranch Doritoes and a 2-liter of some funky blue Mountain Dew (not that we took THAT on the picnic.)

Today, we're having more turkey for lunch, but this time we're having them on the scrumptious biscuits I made yesterday a.m. and I added homemade pesto mayo.

In the food processor I mixed:
- 2.5 heaping tablespoons mayo
- about 1 cup fresh basil leaves from my garden
- about 3 tablespoons baby spinach from the garden
- about 3 tablespoons fresh parsley from the garden

photo is my garden.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Experimental Yeast Multigrain Biscuits

I have a batch of skillet biscuits, one of my first attempts at really cooking in a while. I greased the skillet with butter, more for flavor than need and topped the butter with some cornmeal.

This experiment is based on some of my other biscuits.

I started with:
- 2 cups unbleached white flour
- 1 cup wheat flour
- 1/2 cup rye flour
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1/4 cup flax seed
- 1/2 stick butter
- 1 heaping tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon iodized sea salt

Mix just until incorporated. Then I mixed in a separate container:
- 1 1/2 cup warm soy milk
- 1 teaspoon yeast
- 1 teaspoon honey

I let that rest until bubbly and combined the two mixtures. Then I kneaded briefly, rolled about 3/4 inch thick, cut with a glass, and put in skillet. I let the skillet rest with a towel over it on the oven for 15 minutes while it preheated to 400 degrees. Put the skillet it for 13 minutes.

12 biscuits (I think) that we hope to have for breakfast with Jarslberg cheese and Morningstar vegetarian sausages.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Catch up/ grocery shopping

Wow. I knew it had been a day or two since I posted, but Tuesday? Really?

Wednesday for dinner I made a broccoli and black olive pizza in the Le Creuset skillet.

Last night I was going to make sausage with rice and greenbeans, but I didn't have sausage. So I used black beans instead.

Today, I had the worst shopping experience of my life.

I spent close to $90 and got next to nothing. Let's blame the iron-deficient anemia and associated health problems. $25 of that was for two bottle of beaujolais. For the iron. Of course.

I prepared a shopping list on my iPhone and headed to Giant. My original plan was to get the things I can only get a Giant there, using a couple store register-generated coupons, then head to the liquor store and to Aldi. The list of things I needed, from all THREE stores, was about 15 items.

I lost my keys and had to use the spare car key. Strike one.

I checked the bank balance ($85) and tossed my wallet in my pocket. Took husband to work and realized I forgot the MAC card. Had to disturb hubby at work and borrow his.

Went to store. Forgot half the items on the list, despite making THREE passes through the damn store. After the second pass, I opted to skip Aldi and get everything at Giant. Even if I could have saved $5 at Aldi, because at this point I've been in the store an hour. Forgot the coupons in the car. Didn't have a "bonus" card because it's on my keychain, which, remember I lost. Used the store card.

Went way over budget (I was thinking $40, spent $63.01) so used the visa instead of the mac card.

Good news is the liquor store is next to the Giant so I managed to do that right.

So, the purchases:
- 3.15 pounds of Purina Kitten Chow, $3.89 (for the older cat who's vomiting a lot, cheaper than a cheap to the vet, I figure.)
- 10 juice boxes of minute maid 100% juice fruit punch, $2.79
- 8 juice pouches of organic Honest Kids berry lemonade (no high fructose corn syrup) $3
- 5 liters of Giant seltzer, $2
- Nature's Promise Organic Ranch Dressing, (no MSG) $2.50
- cinnamon, $1.79
- 6-pack of Giant Mac and Cheese, $2.79
- Giant 100% cranberry juice, no sugar added, 2 @ $2.69
- grated cheese, $2.49
- Giant coffee, 11.5 ounces, one French roast, one breakfast blend, $2.49 each (I can't remember what we like)
- one box of penne regate, 16 ounces, and one box rotini, 89 cents each
- Country Acres apple butter (good stuff!) 19 ounces, $2.73
- almost 2.5 pounds of bananas, $1.43
- one cucumber, 99 cents
- 2 packaged salads, $5
- 2 boxes of Morningstar vegetarian sausages, $3.29 each
- the big container of Light and Lively cottage cheese, $3.24
- 64 ounces of vanilla almond milk, $2.69 minus 55 cent manufacturer coupon (really? should have bought MORE)
- dozen jumbo eggs, $1.65
- 64 ounces of Nature's Promise soy milk, $2.39
- 8 ounces of extra sharp cheddar cheese, $1.99
- Barbasol shaving cream, 89 cents

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Funky Food Day

I didn't cook for the holiday. We marched in a parade and stopped at the diner for burgers.

This morning, we had the last sausage cheese waffle.
Then for snack we had the chocolate coated matzo.

For lunch, the child had:
- greens (with added baby spinach from the garden) and peppercorn ranch
- mixed nuts low sodium
- the last of the canned pears, sprinkled with blueberry juice and thawed blueberries
- that seasoned pita from the Mediterranean Deli (kataar bread?)
- apple juice
- water

I had:

- unsweetened black iced tea with peppermint
- the seasoned pita
- salad of spring mix, extra baby spinach from the garden, Wegmans sesame ginger vinaigrette, and hot wasabi bar mix

and maybe a handful of mixed nuts...