Friday, February 26, 2010

Crockpot Pork Tenderloin, Cole Slaw, Homemade Rolls, and Dairy Free Mac-N-Cheese

Crockpot BBQ Pork Tenderloin
No need to take this down, you can remember it without even having to come back. Open a package of pork tenderloins (they come two in a packet). Drop them into the crockpot in the morning. Add a cup of your favorite BBQ sauce. Stir it all together to get the sauce on the meat. Cover and leave it for 8 hours. Take the top off after 8 hours and, using tongs, remove the tenderloins to a bowl and with two forks, pull it apart. Pile onto buns (store-bought or home made) and serve with Cole Slaw - see recipe. In SC, we serve the slaw right on top of these sandwiches.

Cole Slaw
Combine 3/4 Cup Mayonnaise, 1/4 Cup White Wine or regular White Vinegar, 1 T Sugar, 1/4 t Dill Weed and Salt and Pepper to taste. Chop or shred a small head of green or red cabbage. Add to the dressing and toss to coat. Let this sit for a while - at least 30 minutes because the vinegar will break down the cabbage some to make it more tender and absorb the flavor.

Homemade Bread Rolls
I have a bread machine that I use pretty regularly and today I used it to make bread rolls for tonight's dinner. If I truly made them from scratch, I would add that recipe here. If you have a bread machine, it is likely that you have a recipe for rolls that came with it.

Dairy Free Mac-N-Cheese
My son is lactose intolerant but Friday is mac n cheese day! The challenge is finding a cheese sauce that both boys will accept that isn't complicated. The secret is out now. Please try it if you have a dairy issue, it really is delicious.

2 T Oil
2 T AP Flour
1.5 C to 2 C Chicken Stock
3 Slices Cheddar Flavored Veggie Slices Soy Cheese. Rice Cheese also works well for this

Heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the flour, whisk the flour and oil together until it starts to smell nutty, just a couple of minutes. Slowly add the chicken stock whisking together until the lumps are all gone and it starts to thicken - you have just made gravy, by the way. Add the cheese and let it melt completely. DONE! Add this sauce to elbow macaroni or use it to top broccoli, potatoes, really anything you would use a cheese sauce on.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Breaking the rules breakfast for dinner

Tonight was scheduled to be pork tenderloin with delicious patient, it is coming. Instead, I made breakfast for dinner because, quite frankly, it was easier and more desired by the youngens. So, while the raw pork tenderloin sat thawing all day, I decided to give it another reprieve. Even though it was simple, I do have a recipe for you.

For Christmas, I made up a bunch of gifts with my son's friends for their parents and this pancake mix was one of the jars that was shared with friends. It is called "Christmas Morning Pancakes" but it obviously can be eaten any time of the year. The following is the recipe for the mix and then the recipe for making the pancakes from the mix which will make many, many batches. So, this is really an investment in future easy breakfast, brunches, and dinners! I served these up with the rest of those turkey sausage links that I had and some tangerine segments. The kids really loved them (my almost-two year old ate two pancakes and three sausage links along with his tangerines!)

Christmas Morning Pancake Mix

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Scoop into a quart jar, shaking down to fit it all in.

Attach the following recipe to a gift tag:

Christmas Morning Pancakes

Makes 12 medium pancakes.

3/4 cup milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups Christmas Morning Pancake Mix

Heat a lightly greased griddle.

In a medium bowl, combine the milk, egg, and oil. Add 1- /3 cups pancake mix, and stir just until moistened. It should still be somewhat lumpy. Cook on the heated griddle or in a waffle iron.

Best if used within 6 months.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thai-Style Chicken Fried Rice

There are some dishes that I won't make without leftovers - soup is one of them, chili is another. This dish is one that I make whether I have leftovers or not. It is also a dish that can be adapted for the veggies and meat that you have on hand. There are several things that I find necessary in this dish or I will not make it. Those items are noted with an asterisk below.

2 T Vegetable Oil
2 Cups Cooked Chicken. It can be freshly cooked, if need be or can be leftover or rotisserie.
*2 Cups Cooked and Cooled Rice - the best bet is Jasmine for its aroma.
2 Cups Fresh Snow Peas
*1 1lb Bag Asian Style Frozen Vegetables (this includes broccoli, snow peas, carrots, and water chestnuts)
*2 T Fish Sauce
*2 T Low Sodium Soy Sauce
*2 T Sweet Chili Sauce
1 Cup Red Cabbage chopped or shredded or 1 cup of bean sprouts
*2 Eggs
*1 Green Onion, chopped
1 lime, cut into segments

If you are working with cooked meat (you can use pork, beef, or chicken), this process moves really quickly. So, make sure you take care of all of the interruptions that may come up in a 10 minute span, kick the kids out of the kitchen, and let the dog out.

Heat a wok or large, high-sided skillet until it is smoking hot. Add the oil and IMMEDIATELY add the meat (if you are using meat since this can be a veggie only dish if so desired), cooked or not. If the meat it isn't cooked, cook it now! Once it is cooked, add the rice. Toss this mixture around occasionally but allow the rice to actually fry and get crispy on the bottom.

Let this cook for 1 minute before you add the fresh peas. The object is to have the fresh vegetables still be crispy but cooked so the earlier you add them, the softer they will be when you are done. Next, add the bag of frozen veggies and fold it all together. At this time, add the three sauces and stir everything together until you are sure that those delicious sauces are coating every bit of rice. Note: Even if you are tempted; don't leave out the fish sauce, it adds a depth of flavor that makes this recipe restaurant-quality. If you want it to be spicier, you can add more chili sauce or even dried chili flakes. Finally, add the cabbage and stir or toss to combine.

Reduce the heat and cover the pan for 3 or 4 minutes to allow the veggies to thaw and steam. Lift the lid and breathe in this glorious are almost there. Create a well in the center of the rice so you are exposing a section of the pan large enough to scramble a couple of eggs in (about 3 inches in diameter). If the pan is dry, spray it with nonstick cooking spray and crack a couple of eggs into the space. After about 15 seconds, begin to scramble the eggs and continue to scramble them until they are almost done and then stir the rice into the eggs and mix it all together again.

Turn off the heat on the burner and cover the pan to allow the flavors to marry for about 10 minutes. Top with chopped green onion just before serving and serve each plate with a wedge of lime. I cannot stress how fresh this dish tastes with those onions and the lime juice. It is good without them but it is great with them. Trust me!

Alternatives and additional suggestions:
If you have it on hand or just want to play with flavors, you wouldn't go wrong if you added large chopped onion pieces, chopped garlic, grated ginger, chopped fresh cilantro, chopped fresh Thai basil, or fresh chili peppers to this dish. You can also top it with chopped peanuts. YUM, YUM, YUM!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lessons Learned and New Rules

I am learning a lot about our family's eating habits and my daily processes in planning and preparing meals.

Lessons learned:
1. In our house, everyone has choices for breakfast and lunch
a. Every morning, I ask both children what they want for breakfast. They know the options already since they have lived with me for their whole lives. These options are: cheesy eggs, cheesy grits, oatmeal, cereal, and or toast and any combination of the above. Sometimes, they can have a muffin or a pop tart but we usually don’t have those in stock. I usually have cereal or oatmeal and my hubby goes for the same with two slices of toast (hence the three loaves of bread on the grocery list)
b. At around 11:30, I ask the same question about what they want for lunch. The list of lunch options isn’t much longer than the list of breakfast items because they just aren’t interested in having anything else. Today’s lunch was an exception (I will talk more about that in a minute). Usually, they have hotdog(s) or Ham with cheese cubes or slices, crackers, a grilled cheese sandwich, or chicken nuggets, with fruit of some sort, and a pickle. Sometimes the older of the two will want a fluffer nutter (peanut butter and marshmallow fluff) but usually not. Today, the older one wanted to be like Curious George and have a jelly sandwich so he had that and the little one had a half of a peanut butter and honey sandwich. They both had a pickle and some pretzel bits.

2. I don’t like cooking every day
a. I THOUGHT that I cooked every day. I was wrong. What I did was prepare 3 meals every day. It isn’t the same. Now that I have been working from a strict menu, I realize that some days I am less enthusiastic about tackling a recipe than other days. I also noticed that last Wednesday (spaghetti night) I could have gone for making something different. This is leading to a change in the rules of the project.

3. Some days I want something different that isn’t anywhere on the menu
a. Right now (shh, don’t tell anyone) I am making soup. If you were to have a gander at the menu, you will notice no mention of a second soup in this pay cycle. Well, I am also nursing a head cold right now and fettuccini with marinara sauce isn’t going to help me tonight. I had all of the stuff on hand for this soup: I used the stock from that delicious chicken last night and a soup mix that I got from a friend that had loads of dried beans in it called French Market Soup. I soaked those beans all day yesterday and threw it all into a crock pot this morning. Honestly, I feel better just knowing that soup will be waiting for me tonight. The desire to make something new from what I have on hand that may not have been part of the original plan is leading to another change to the project rules.

New Rules:
 Plan 8-10 different dinner menus without designating when they will be eaten and plan on a couple of dishes that can be made ahead
 Expect to use leftovers of the planned meals to make additional meals and to have a leftover night. This will obviously mean that I will have to do a little planning of when I make which items but I can handle that.
 Expect some of these recipes to change as taste and time commitment variables present themselves.
 Make a grocery list of items that I will need for the two weeks (including breakfast supplies, lunch items and general household needs) and add to this list throughout the two weeks the things that I use in the pantry so, in the future; I can recreate the week’s menu with the ready-made list.
 Post daily recipes or instructions to explain how the food made it from the fridge to the table.

My expectation is not that anyone else will be following along with me, shopping the same day as I do and making this food along with me but I wouldn't be surprised to hear if some of these recipes are tested out. If anyone is crazy enough to do a whole two week project that I have done, it would be best to do a set from the past so the shopping list is complete. Oh, and feel free to send me recipes! I will try it out and give you credit for passing it along!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Roast Chicken, Rice, Gravy, and Veggies

If you can buy a whole chicken, you can roast a whole chicken - I am just saying. I have a friend who still has not had the "nerve" to try it. Really, it is a very economical way to make a meal that gives you seemingly endless leftover possibilities. This chicken cost me just over $6 and fed us dinner tonight, will feed at least Chris lunch tomorrow, and at least will feed us again on Wednesday night when we will have chicken fried rice.


1 Whole Chicken (you can get the really big roaster if you want but I just did a regular old bird)
Your seasoning of choice (this can be as simple as salt and pepper if you so desire)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional)
1 Cup Rice (I used a combination of Basmati and Jasmine since I will be reusing for fried rice)
Frozen Corn
Frozen Peas
Frozen Broccoli
2 T flour
1 C water
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grease a shallow roasting pan (I used a 13x9x2 inch pan).

Remove chicken from the plastic bag and pull the neck and "goodies" out of the inside. You can discard these or see the footnote for suggestions. Rinse the bird and pat it dry. Season under the skin and inside with your choice of seasoning or just salt and pepper. I actually am lucky enough to have some Tastefully Simple "Garlic, Garlic" seasoning and used that as my seasoning tonight. If you don't have that particular brand, you can use minced garlic or dried flakes of garlic and dried onion flakes paired with Italian Seasoning.

Tuck the wing tips across the top and behind the bird. Rub the skin with olive oil. Place the chicken, breast-side up, in the roasting pan. Bake for 2 hours or until an internal meat thermometer reads 180 degrees. If you find the skin is browning too quickly, "tent" a piece of aluminum foil (shiny side down) over top of the roasting pan. - by "tent", I mean, don't tuck it tightly on top of the bird.

Cook the rice according to package instructions. I am usually simple with my sides and tonight was no exception. I combined some frozen peas with frozen corn and heated them until they were warm. The broccoli was also heated on the stovetop.

How I make Chicken Gravy:

When the chicken was done, I poured the drippings into a saucepan. I added the flour to the water and whisked them together in a small bowl until there were no lumps and poured the flour and water mixture into the saucepan with the drippings. Once this is brought to a gentle boil, the gravy thickens, like, um...gravy. If it is too thick, add more water. If it is too thin, just cook it a little longer and the extra moisture will evaporate. At this point, I tasted it and added a little salt.

At this point, the only thing to do is to carve the bird. I will leave that instruction to the experts because I don't think I would do a great job explaining it. Meanwhile, I like this guy and he has the same knife rack as I do, so he is okay in my book :)

Footnote Tip:
Chicken Stock:
I always make stock from my roast chicken or store-bought rotisserie chicken bones. Here's how: Place chicken carcass and those goodies from inside the raw chicken - sounds great already - into a large stockpot and cover with water. Cook over medium-low heat for about 2 hours or longer if you have the time. Remove from heat and pour the stock through a collander. You can pick the meat off the bones and make a chicken salad or throw it into a chicken soup or just discard the carcass and store the stock.

If you want to keep it for a while, place the stock into a freezer bag and lay the bag flat on a jellyroll pan or cookie sheet and put this whole thing in your freezer. Once frozen, you can stack the stock for easy storage in the freezer. This also makes it easier to thaw since they are thin.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Grilled Salmon with Herb Crust

My husband has high cholesterol and I may too...plan to get checked soon. Either way, I am starting a weekly fish meal so we can increase our Omega-3 intake. Here is the first of many, hopefully.

Adapted from The Sonoma Diet Cookbook

12 Ounces of Fresh or Frozen Skinless Salmon Fillets
1 T Chopped Dried Cilantro
1 T Chopped Dried Italian Seasoning
1 Green Onion, finely chopped
1 t Chopped Garlic
1 T Lemon Juice
2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 t Kosher Salt
1/8 t Ground Black Pepper

Thaw salmon, if frozen. Rinse fish; pat dry. Portion fish into 6 ounce pieces. The ones I bought were oddly shaped but it was okay because I gave the boys small portions from one of the fillets. Set the fish aside while you prepare the herb coating.

Combine all of the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and let sit for a few minutes while the herbs rehydrate (I took this time to make couscous and ready my steamed veggies - edamame and brussel's sprouts). I used a grill pan on my stove top but you can use a charcoal or gas grill. Either way, now is also the time to preheat to medium heat.

Generously coat both sides of the salmon with the herb coating and place on the preheated grill. I also spray my grill pan with some olive oil spray to prevent sticking. Unfortunately, that didn't do much to help prevent my herb crust from being left behind on the grill. Sadly, my salmon had no herb "crust" rather the flavor of the herbs and garlic but only bits of actual herbs on the fish itself when it made it onto the dinner plate. At any rate, grill the fish for 6 to 8 minutes or until the salmon flakes easily when tested with a fork.

I served it with couscous brussel's sprouts and edamame. My almost-two-year-old gobbled it all up and my four-year-old ate it all after much coaxing. Either way, the bellies are full of good stuff.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Homemade Ravioli

Thursday night, we had crepes stuffed with spinach, mushrooms and mozzarella cheese. I noted that I had held back some of the stuffing for tonight's ravioli. There was about 1/4 cup of filling that I finely chopped and added 1 cup of thawed frozen spinach. I also removed turkey sausage from the casings of 4 breakfast sausage links and browned it in a pan before adding the spinach mixture.
As easy as that, I had the filling for my homemade pasta. The other easy part was the pasta. I used eggroll wrappers (found in the produce section). For this particular recipe, I used 9 wrappers.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt.

Cut eggroll wrappers into 4 squares. You can cut through a stack of 4 or 5 at a time. For ravioli, place about 1 T of filling into the center of a square and, using your finger, spread water along the edges and top with another square, pressing from the center and removing as many air pockets as possible.

After you have 4 or 5, place into the boiling water for about 1 minute. The filling is fully cooked and the pasta only takes about a minute to cook. If you leave it longer, it may fall apart.

Option #2 is to make beggars' purses instead of ravioli. For this, use slightly less filling and line the edges with water but gather the sides up and pinch them together at the top like a little bundle.

Either way you package them, you can serve them on a plate (serving size is 4 or 5 ravioli), top with a drizzle of marinara sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.


Leftover night became out to eat night!

Chris made it home from work early yesterday (before 5 o'clock early) and asked if I wanted to go out to eat. I said, "YES!" So, leftover night became out to eat. Either way, I wouldn't have had a recipe for you.

Stay tuned, though...home made ravioli tonight!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Crepes filled with Mushrooms, Spinach, and Fresh Mozzarella

Today is my oldest son's birthday and there was no convincing him that he would enjoy this as his birthday meal. He wanted spaghetti again so he had simple Angel Hair Pasta from the pantry and a little jarred marinara sauce. He and his brother really enjoyed that in spite of the lacking effort on my part. I did make a box mix cake and frost it with store-bought icing, again, the lacking effort didn't impact the enjoyability of this meal for the birthday boy. I still stuck to the menu and made these crepes (reducing the portion size) for my hubby and I to enjoy. As prescribed on the menu, I reserved some of the filling for this coming Saturday's home made stuffed pasta. So, without further adieu, here is the recipe. Sorry, no pictures this time. As a side note, this is really an easy recipe since I managed to make the crepes and filling, spaghetti and sauce, baked and frosted a cake and kept two toddlers occupied. If I can do it...well, you know the rest.

Adapted from a recipe in The Sonoma Diet Cookbook
Serves 4

1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 pounds assorted fresh mushrooms
Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 T Minced Garlic
2 T Balsamic Vinegar
2 Cups Fresh Baby Spinach
2 oz fresh mozzarella cheese cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 Recipe Basic Crepes or eight 8-inch whole wheat tortillas
1/4 Cup finely shredded Parmesan Cheese

Basic Crepes Recipe:
In a blender, combine 2 eggs; 2/3 cup water; 1/2 cup low-fat milk (I use Soy); 1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil; 1 T Herbs De Provence; 1/4 t Kosher Salt; 1/8 t freshly ground black pepper. Add 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour. Cover and blend on low speed until combined; blend on high speed for 1 minute. Pour into a medium bowl; cover lightly and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. I used this time to make the filling. The batter should be the consistency of heavy cream. If too thick, thicken with a little water or milk. To make crepes, lightly coat an 8-inch nonstick skillet with flared sides with nonstick olive oil cooking spray. Preheat skillet over medium-low heat until a drop of water sizzles. Spoon in about 1/4 cup of the batter; lift and tilt the skillet to spread batter. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until browned on bottom and top looks dry. Carefully turn crepe; cook about 1 minute more or until the bottom is lightly browned but crepe is still pliable. Carefully invert onto waxed paper. Repeat with remaining batter. Makes 8 crepes.

1. In a very large skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. add the mushrooms; cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper. Add the garlic; cook for 1 minute. Add the balsamic vinegar; cook and stir for 1 minute more. Add spinach, cheese, and basil; cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes or until spinach is wilted.

2. Preheat broiler. Divide mushroom mixture among crepes or tortillas, using about 1/2 cup for each and spooning along the centers. Roll up crepes or tortillas. Place in a broiler proof 13x9x2 inch baking pan. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat for 1 to 2 minutes or just until the cheese starts to brown.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Spaghetti Night

Tuesday has become Spaghetti night in our house and we skipped it last night so Spaghetti hit the table tonight. In the spirit of full disclosure, I want to note that I had leftover sauce and noodles in my refrigerator from a meal that we recently had with our guests so I used both for leftovers. I will give the instructions to duplicate my normal sauce and the ingredients were on the shopping list so you should be all set.

If you are happy with the amount of veggies in your jarred marinara sauce, I say go with it. I, however; like to add other veggies to disguise them in the sauce. Carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, and onions are a few of my favorites but feel free to add other squash or broccoli even. I use an immersion blender to puree it all together. Sometimes I add meat and other times I don't. Tonight's sauce had turkey meat in it. I have turkey sausage for home made ravioli and some of that could have been used tonight if I didn't have this sauce already on hand. You can even take that sausage out of the casing and make tiny meatballs for your sauce. YUMMY! Boil your noodles and top with the sauce. Serve and be happy that you were able to sneak in a lot of veggies tonight. Beware, too much green stuff makes it a bit more obvious.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mushroom Risotto

Tonight's meal of Mushroom Risotto is also a technique dish that can easily be altered to accommodate tastes and pantry supplies. For example, sometimes I use frozen peas instead of spinach. Surprisingly, my oldest (just days away from 4 years old) ate a whole bowl, spinach and all! If you are worried about the lacking meat in this meal, worry not! Protein can be found in unusual places, like the spinach (bringing 2g. per serving here). The Rice itself has nearly 6g. per serving and the stock has 1g. per cup and we have a total of 4 cups in this recipe. Finally, the pine nuts have 4g of protein for 1/4 cup. Not to mention the cheese! So, if you want to make this a vegetarian meal, you can swap the chicken stock for vegetable stock without worrying about adding any protein.

1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 oz Mixed Mushrooms (I use an Exotic Mix with Crimini - a.k.a. Baby Bellas, Shiitake, and Oyster) roughly chopped
1 T Chopped Garlic
1 Small Onion, Chopped
1 1/2 C Arborio Rice
32 oz Chicken Broth
2 C Water
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 heaping hand fulls of Baby Spinach
1/4 C toasted Pine Nuts
Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese - for topping each serving

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions, mushrooms, and garlic until the mushrooms are soft and the onions are transparent. Add the rice and one cup of the stock. Stir the rice and cook until the liquid is absorbed then add another cup. Continue to stir the rice and add the liquid one cup at a time until the stock and the water are fully absorbed. This process will take about 30 minutes.

As you stir, the liquid will thicken from the starch being released from the rice. This creates a creamy consistency without the use of any dairy. Don't be tempted to raise the temperature. The idea is to let the rice absorb the liquid, not to let it evaporate. There are better ways to get a facial. While you are adding the liquid, taste it and add the salt and pepper. It is important to add the seasoning before all of the liquid is absorbed. It is hard to add flavor after the rice is done.

If you think the rice is done, taste it. You will know it needs more time if you feel thirsty. It is done when the rice is soft and melts away in your mouth...perfect. Once it is done, add the spinach and stir until it cooks down. Finish it off with the pine nuts, stirring them into the rice and top each serving with a sprinkling of cheese. Serve with warm crusty bread and butter.

Grocery List for February 15th - February 26th


• Scallions
• Bean Sprouts (I a head of cabbage for this since my store was out)
• Clementines/Tangerines
• Bananas
• Potatoes - a bag of Yukon Gold and two baking potatoes
• Onions - a bag of sweet onions
• Mushrooms – assorted for crepes and risotto
• Basil (the store didn't have it so I didn't get any)
• Baby spinach
• (P) Chopped Garlic
• (P) Garlic Cloves
• 2 packages of soy cheese
• (P) Eggroll Wrappers
• 2 lunchables for the kids' shopping day lunch
• Hotdogs
• Ham
• Turkey Sausage Links (the breakfast kind)
• 12 ounces Fresh or Frozen Skinless Salmon Fillets about ¾ inches thick
• Frozen White fish fillets –appropriate for fish sticks (I got Ocean Perch)
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil - for my pantry
• Kosher Salt - for my pantry
• (P) Pepper
• (P) Herbs De Province
• (P) Dried Basil
• (P) Dried Oregano
• (P) Pine Nuts
• (P) Whole Wheat Flour
• (P) Low Sodium Soy Sauce
• (P) Fish Sauce
• (P) Sweet Chili Sauce
• (P) Fire Roasted Red Peppers, in a jar
• Cupcake Mix
• Cupcake Cups
• 1 Can Tomatoes with Chiles
• 1 Can Okra, Tomatoes, and Onions for my pantry
• (P) Marinara Sauce
• 2 Resealable Cartons of Chicken Stock (for my pantry and for Monday's soup)
• 3 assorted packets of soup mix (for my pantry and for Monday's soup)
• (P) Arborio Rice
• (P) Breadcrumbs
• Linguine
• (P) Spaghetti
• (P) Elbow Macaroni
• Couscous
• Cereal (4 boxes - two for the kids and two for the adults. This will last more than 2 weeks)
• Grits
• 3 Containers of Apple Juice
• (P) Lemon Juice
• Whole Roasting Chicken
• (P) Pork Tenderloin
• London Broil - for the pantry
• Mixed Frozen Veggies – including broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, peas, Brussels sprouts, etc.
• Mozzarella Cheese
• Parmesan Cheese - finely grated
• 2 packages of sliced cheese for lunches
• Margarine
• 2 gallons of milk (usually I would get 3 but we just opened a gallon this morning)
• 2 cartons of soy milk
• 2 cartons of Orange Juice
• 18 eggs
• Hamburger Buns
• Hotdog Buns
• 3 loaves of bread
• Crusty bread

Key: (P) Indicates items that I have on-hand in the pantry or refrigerator/freezer.

TOTAL: $201.85

Grocery Shopping Trip - oh boy

Today I took the boys with me to the store to get the groceries needed for this pay period's menu. I had my list (which will appear in the next post) and was ready to go. One of my tricks is to order the list the way the store is organized. Most of the stores that I shop in have produce, meat, pantry items, frozen food, dairy, and bread. So, that is how I do it. You can organize your list the way your store is and it helps when you have children in tow. I had several pantry items for the menu so my list wasn't as long as it may be for other folks. I will also list my pantry items in the next post so anyone else using this menu can add the pantry items to the grocery list if they don't have them in their personal stockpile.

I explained what I was doing to the guy at the check-out counter and he was impressed. I was impressed that my bill totalled $201.85. I hope that I can feed the brood for just over $100 per week. That would be remarkable. I guess now is as good a time as any to mention my "bargain" shopping. I love BJ's Wholesale, Aldi, and other discount, big box places. I cannot go to these stores for every shopping trip, though. Aldi doesn't carry grits (an important staple in our house) and BJ's doesn't have everything on my list in the sizes that I need. Both of my children are fighting head colds and I couldn't bring myself to go all over town to do my bargain shopping today. In the future, I may do that. Sometimes, though, I will get it all at one store (a grocery store) and call it a day. I may also try shopping online and having it delivered. I have done this in the past and loved it. Today, I shopped at Food Lion and they didn't have basil or bean sprouts. So, I will use dried basil or skip it altogether in my recipes for the next two weeks and I substituted the bean sprouts for the chicken fried rice with some broccoli slaw mix. It will give the nice fresh crunch that the bean sprouts would have brought to the dish. Otherwise, I did okay with my list. The cart was absolutely overflowing and now we are ALL STOCKED UP!

In addition to the menu, my son turns 4 on Thursday and I had to pick up supplies to make cupcakes for his class and will have to go back to the store to pick up a birthday cake from the bakery but I am not counting that as a shopping project, my rules :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Pantry and Refrigerator Soup (starring leftover Chicken Stroganoff)

Since I haven't made it to the store for this pay period, I decided to use the items that I had on hand to put together some Pantry and Refrigerator Soup.

I always have a large resealable container of Chicken Stock on hand and try to keep at least one packet of generic soup mix. Today, my only option was Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup. I buy these types of things when they are one sale or being discontinued. They last for a long time and are a big help when it comes to making a meal without going to the store. Alas, today I am using my last container of stock and my last packet of soup mix. You will see these items on my shopping list tomorrow! Finally, my pantry always flows forth with a variety of rices. Today, I am adding Brown Basmati to the Wild Rice already in the mix.

As for the refrigerator/freezer: my best friend was visiting last week and she made a delicious Crockpot full of Chicken Stroganoff (you will see this recipe sometime in the future). It was yummy with chicken bits, chicken gravy, delicious flavorings and aromatics, and cream cheese and made for a great item to add to my Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup. I also keep a bag of frozen peas and a bag of frozen corn on hand for additions to soups and casseroles and to be eaten as side dishes too.

Please don't restrict yourself to this recipe, though it is delicious and may reappear one week in the future after a meal of Chicken Stroganoff. I want you to see what I did with what I had on hand and translate this to what you have in your pantry. If all you have in your pantry is a can of pumpkin puree and some chicken stock you will still be able to make soup (think: pumpkin puree, chicken stock, minced onion, and some milk, add some mashed potatoes if you have them to thicken it up and serve in a bread bowl - yum). I am not sure I can help if you only have cherry pie filling, though.

SO, here you go; Tonight's Pantry and Refrigerator Soup: Chicken and Rice Chowder

1 32oz container of Chicken Broth.
3 Cups Water
1 packet of Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup Mix
1.5 Cups Leftover Chicken Stroganoff
.5 Cup Brown Basmati Rice
1 Cup Frozen Corn
1 Cup Frozen Peas

Add all ingredients to a stock pot and simmer on low for 2 hours. Serve with grilled cheese on bread or inside tortillas (a.k.a. cheese quesadillas)

Note from the Mom:
My children still aren't interested in eating soup, stews, chili, or chowder despite my attempts to get them to drink with a straw or eat with fun spoons. As a result, I hold aside the peas and corn and serve them as a side to thier grilled cheese sandwiches. My little guy gets the lactose free cheese on his sandwich.

First Attempt Menu February 15th through February 26th

I have gotten waylaid over the past weekend by a Gala that I hosted and redecorating my son's bedroom but am now trying to get back on track. I have composed my menu and plan to go to the grocery store tomorrow. I will post the menu here but will wait until tomorrow to post the grocery list. Check the next entry for my "recipe" for tonight's soup.

Week 1:
Monday – Soup and Grilled Cheese
Tuesday – Meatless - Mushroom Risotto and crusty bread
Wednesday – Spaghetti, bread, fruit and salad
Thursday – Meatless - Mushroom, spinach, and mozzarella cheese crepes (make extra filling for pasta on Saturday)
Friday – Mac N Cheese for the kiddos, leftovers for the adults
Saturday – Leftover Remake - Egg roll wrapper ravioli (make filling from Thursday’s leftovers and some sausage meat) with marinara sauce and spinach salad.
Sunday – Fish Day – Grilled Salmon with Herb Crust, couscous, and steamed veggies
Week 2:
Monday – Roast Chicken, rice, mixed steamed veggies (save some rice and veggies for Wednesday)
Tuesday – Meatless - Linguine with Spinach Marinara Sauce, bread, fruit and salad
Wednesday – Leftover Remake - Fried Rice with leftovers from Monday
Thursday – Pork Tenderloin, scalloped potatoes, and broccoli with fire roasted peppers and goat cheese
Friday – Mac N Cheese for the kiddos, payday chili for the adults
Saturday – Loaded Baked Potatoes with leftover chili for the adults, hotdogs for the kiddos
Sunday – Fish Day – homemade oven fried fish sticks, mashed potatoes (make extra for Monday’s Gnocchi), peas and carrots.

Friday, February 12, 2010

PROJECT update

We have had record-breaking snow: the kind that I mentioned needing a stockpile of food on hand to survive. Truly, it was necessary. My best friend and her family came up to be snowed in with us and we are on our last of 5 gallons of milk that we had on hand. Good thing too, since we went to get another gallon yesterday and the store was still out. SO, since we still have house guests, I have had little time to plan my menu. I still plan on doing this project starting this pay period; I just have to postpone my shopping until Sunday afternoon. I will post more then!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Apocalypse. Now?

I have been thinking about this project and narrowing down my goal and part of it, obviously, is to use fresh food when it is fresh and not have it go all moldy in my refrigerator. I also want to serve and consume healthy food that is heavy on vegetables and lean protein and light on fat and empty calories. Finally, I want to take as few trips to the store as possible, spend as little money as possible, and not spend half of every day wondering what I am going to cook for dinner. So, in summary: I want fresh, healthy food, with minimum kitchen and grocery store time.

One of my friends mentioned her fear in buying only 2 weeks worth of groceries to then use up siting the fear of an apocalyptic scenario. More likely in my area is the threat of severe winter weather or a hurricane...both of which could leave us in a lurch. I am also aware of threats to our water and food supplies but I don't buy drinkable water now so this project won't lessen my family's preparation for that.

At any rate, my inner hoarder does shiver at the thought of having empty pantries and freezers at the end of a two week period so I will explain during my "shopping receipt rehash" the items I bought outside of my shopping list to be added to my stockpile of emergency rations. This will also satisfy my penchant for buying in bulk. I also want to have some make-ahead items on hand so I will be using some of these items for that (i.e. make two lasagnas and freeze one). I will account for my stockpile usage when making my shopping list. I will also account for the make-ahead meal consumption when I make my bi-weekly menus.

Nothing warms my heart quite like knowing that we are all stocked up. Just today, I went to my local Wholesale club and stocked up on TP, Laundry Detergent, Bleach, Dryer Sheets, and Diapers. I feel full just thinking about it.