Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Dinner & Bountiful Basket

Have I told you about Bountiful Baskets?  It is a co-op of fruit & vegetable buying that costs $16.50 a week to participate.  For my family of 5 (since one child is at college) I get it every other week.  This week we had the following bounty:
Fruits: Mangos, bananas, plums, blackberries, Crenshaw & nectarines
Vegetables: Cucumber, green onion, tomato, broccoli, kale, cauliflower

We ate the blackberries immediately and are gradually eating the nectarines, plums, bananas and mangoes.  My sous chef cut up the Crenshaw into bite size pieces.  What is a Crenshaw you ask?  Well when a mommy honeydew and a daddy cantaloupe love each other very very much, they produce a Crenshaw.  Seriously, if you close your eyes you aren't quite sure what you are eating.  It is DELICIOUS!

My almost-college daughter said she likes cutting up vegetables so we think maybe she will be a sous chef someday.  She has problems with baking and cooking sometimes so a sous chef would be a great job for her to have.  So, sous chef then cut up the broccoli (which we used in Broccoli Beef for Sunday dinner) and cauliflower for easy snacking.  I cut up the green onion and put it in a Ziploc bag in the fridge and used some in the Orange Chicken for Sunday dinner. 

Oh, and while prepping all the food yesterday I made Kale Chips.  Found the recipe here: Kale Chips

So we had Broccoli Beef & Orange Chicken with rice and the leftover Crenshaw fruit cut up.  It was a most delicious dinner and with the help of my 16-year-old son, who loves to help me cook and the help of my neighbor that had vegetable oil for me to borrow (sometimes my prepared pantry is missing an item) we ate in mighty fine style.

As we were prepping the food yesterday, my girl said that since starting the bountiful baskets we eat healthier than we did before.  She said she loves having the fresh food on hand.  I agree.  See if your neighborhood has a Bountiful Basket co-op!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Too much to do and so little time to do it!  Have I shared how I do my meals and shopping plan for summer?

1. Make list of 14 dinners and put it on the fridge
2. Make sure all ingredients are on hand to make those items
3. When kid asks "what's for dinner?" tell them to look at the list and start making whichever meal they want

This works well for teens... or they go grab a pack of ramen noodles.  Either way I do a lot less work during the summer.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Another fun experience with Food!

Yes, it has been awhile.  Things happen, life goes on... mom has a lot of things to do!

I got myself into another one of the "House Parties" to provide fun goodies and food for friends so I decided to make a luncheon out of it and hosted my friends on the Finance Committee of Utah PTA.  After all, the Utah PTA office in Murray is my home away from home!

This was for Philly Cooking Creme Cheese.  I decided to make a one-pot pasta... a Pampered Chef recipe I like.  Since the meeting was 2 hours long, though, I made the dish the night before and put it in a casserole dish to warm in the oven during the meeting so it would be ready to go.  I honestly was sad that it was a bit dry. Not the product's fault, but mine.

Kraft sent all kinds of goodies for the guests: a wooding cooking spoon, notepad, fridge magnet, coupon for the product and recipe book!  As the host I got a new fry pan (that my 16-year-old son says is the best pan ever!) and a cute oven mitt!  You should sign up to do a house party!  I have done Oscar Mayer and Chex Mix ones. House Party!

I am sharing the recipe with you along with a fun picture of the food and our cute receptionist at the office who keeps us smiling and laughing... Candace!!

Pampered Chef's One-Pot Pasta (adapted by Lisa Anderson)
4   garlic cloves, peeled
1   jar (7 oz or 210 mL) sun-dried tomatoes in oil, undrained (DID NOT USE - I cut up cherry tomatoes and guests added them if they wished)
3   cans (14.5 oz each) vegetable broth (5¼ cups/1.25 L)
1   lb (450 g) uncooked penne pasta (I used bowtie)
1   head broccoli (2 cups/500 mL small florets)
2   medium carrots, peeled
4   oz (125 g) reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufch√Ętel) (I used the new Philadelphia Italian Cheese and Herb Cooking Creme) 
1/2   tsp (2 mL) coarsely ground black pepper (did not use)
1/4   tsp (1 mL) salt (did not use)
   Grated fresh Parmesan cheese and snipped fresh basil leaves (optional)
I doubled the recipe and used the entire 10 oz. container of the Philly Italian Cheese and Herb Cooking Creme.

Original Directions (I am not affiliated with Pampered Chef or their products, though I love using them):
  1. Slice garlic using Garlic Slicer. Place garlic and 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil from sun-dried tomatoes into (8-qt./7.6-L) Stockpot; cook over medium heat 2-3 minutes or until garlic is golden brown, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; add broth. Return Stockpot to burner; increase heat to high. Cover and bring to a boil. Add pasta; cover and simmer vigorously 8-10 minutes or until pasta is almost cooked but still firm, stirring occasionally using Mega Scraper.
  2. Meanwhile, cut broccoli into small florets; place into Classic Batter Bowl. Cut carrots in half lengthwise; thinly slice crosswise on a bias. Drain tomatoes; pat dry and slice into thin strips.
  3. Cut cream cheese into cubes. Add vegetables, cream cheese, black pepper and salt to pasta; stir until cream cheese is melted and fully incorporated. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook an additional 2-4 minutes or until vegetables are tender. If desired, top with Parmesan cheese and basil.
Yield: 6 servings

Our FABULOUS receptionist Candace!
Shauna made the best chocolate carrot cake with creme cheese frosting!  Ginger was getting her plate ready to be dished up.
This photo shows the Philly cooking creme cheese tubs.  They have 4 varieties and I found them at Macey's with all the other creme cheese.

I casually asked guests to bring desserts... and we had 4 kinds of chocolate desserts... OH BABY they were ALL good!!!

It's good to get free stuff... especially FOOD!!!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Saving Money - Yes!

A few months ago we went to a cash-only system for groceries and household supplies.  It has worked out pretty darn good so I am going to give my husband kudos for that idea. 

It forces me to really purchase the essentials we need every two weeks and then if I save enough I use the leftovers to stock up my prepared pantry.  Last pay period it was meat... pork roasts and beef roasts.

Speaking of pork roast, I took one of the ones I purchased last week and cut it up to make sweet and sour pork for dinner.  The family loved it... I had issues with the sweet and sour sauce - it just didn't taste right to me.  I'm still sharing because 4 people did like the sweet and sour sauce.  Must be that I am weaning off caffeine so things taste weird to me.

Sweet & Sour Chicken - Courtesy of Judi Bulkley (thanks Aunt Judi!)
7 oz chicken or pork
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
4 carrots
2 onion, quartered
1 green pepper
30 oz pineapple, chunks
1 garlic clove
1 egg
1 tablespoon flour
1 pint oil, cooking

3 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ pint water

Cut meat into 1 inch squares. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Set aside. Boil carrots until tender, cut onions, peppers, pineapple and chop garlic. Coat meat with the mixture of eggs & flour. Heat the oil in saucepan.  Deep fry meat until crisp. Drain. Mix the catsup, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar & cornstarch. Cook until thick and boiling.  Add pork and vegetables.  Serve with rice.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Grilled Pork Chops & Scalloped Potatoes

Easy shmeasy dinner tonight.  My 15-year-old son asked what was for dinner about 4:30.  I had planned broiled pork chops and Betty Crocker Scalloped (yes, from a box... can't be from scratch every night) Potatoes and canned green beans.  Simple, fast and relatively nutritious.

He asked if he could grill the pork chops for me on the barbecue.  I was hesitant but agreed to let him do it.  All we added was seasoned salt to the chops.

After quickly scarfing down dinner (he is in charge of young men's stake basketball tonight) My HUSBAND said "juicy, flavorful chops tonight".  I would say my son has a new job.  He is going to be my official griller. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Kalua Pork - YUM-O!

We have this about once a month.  This past Sunday I set the crock pot for 4 hours.  This really needs to go 6-8 hours in order to become pull apart/fall apart pork.  The flavor was still delicious!  I took the drippings and made a delicious gravy adding cornstarch & water as a thickener.

Kalua Pork Roast
4 pound pork shoulder or butt roast
4 tablespoons salt, sea or kosher
4 tablespoons liquid smoke
2 tablespoon ginger, grated
4 garlic cloves, crushed (We like more garlic so I tend to add 6 cloves)
4 tablespoons soy sauce

Sometimes I take the mixture and inject it with a big meat injector I have into the pork roast to give more flavor. 

Oven: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rub meat with salt, liquid smoke, ginger, garlic and soy sauce. Wrap securely in foil. Roast about 3 hours or until very tender. Remove from oven; let stand about 15 minutes. Shred, removing slabs of fat, and serve.
Crock Pot: Set for 6 or 8 hours. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Yummy Dinner Recipe!

Here is the recipe I made for dinner tonight:

Baked Chicken-Bacon Alfredo
16 oz. Bow tie pasta
16 oz. Alfredo Sauce
2 chicken breasts, grilled and chopped (about 2 c. chopped chicken)
6 oz. (1/2 package) cooked bacon, chopped
1/2 c. chopped green onions (about 1 decent-sized bunch)
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Prepare pasta according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking, prepare Alfredo sauce. When pasta is done, drain and add to the sauce. Toss with chopped chicken, bacon, green onions, and 1/2 c. mozzarella. Season to taste.

Transfer mixture to an 9x13" baking dish and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is bubbly.

Serve with a green salad and bread sticks or a loaf of garlic bread made with Garlic Bread Seasoning.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Meal Plans & Recipe

Having a family meal plan is just that, a plan.  A good plan does take time to develop in order for it to work.  My last blog post I gave the list of meals I planned for the two first weeks of January and the prep work I did in order to make it go smoothly.  I am happy to report that it was fantastic!  The only glitch was I didn't make beef stew one day and we ate "whatever".  That usually means Ramen Noodles or Nachoes for the family but everyone could pick their own.  I just opened a can of Progresso Italian Wedding Soup. 

So the next two weeks' plans have been set.  Here are the next two weeks:
  • Creamy One Pot Pasta
  • Kalua Pork & Rice
  • Chicken Bacon Alfredo 
  • Hamburger Helper (need an easy night)
  • Chicken Enchiladas
  • Pork Chops & Scalloped Potatoes
  • Beefy Vegetable Soup
  • Frito Casserole
  • Hawaiian Haystacks (Others call it Chinese Sundaes)
  • Garlic Pasta
  • Sweet & Sour Pork
  • Taco Bake
  • Lasagne
  • Potato Chowder
This two weeks I have three recipes that are new to our family.  I have either eaten them at one time or saw the recipe and saved it thinking it sounded good.  Last night was Creamy One Pot Pasta.  I think I had it at a Pampered Chef party years ago.  It reminded me of the Bird's Eye Chicken Voila! Garlic Chicken but since I made it from scratch (well, I did use bagged pasta spirals from Costco) I felt really good about it!

Here's the recipe:

4 cloves garlic peeled
1 T olive oil
6 cups chicken broth
1 pound penne rigate uncooked (I used a 17 oz. pasta bag from Costco)
1 head broccoli (2 cups small florets)
2 medium carrots peeled
8 oz regular cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil snipped

Thinly slice garlic using paring knife.  Place garlic and oil into an 8-qt stockpot.  Cook garlic over medium heat 2-3 minutes or until garlic is golden brown, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat; add broth.  Return to burner; increase heat to high.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Stir in pasta; cover and simmer vigorously 8-10 minutes or until pasta is almost cooked but still firm, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cut broccoli into small florets; place into bowl.  Cut carrots in half lengthwise; thinly slice crosswise on a bias using knife; add to bowl.

Cut cream cheese into cubes.  Add vegetables, cream cheese, salt and black pepper to stockpot.  Stir until cream cheese is melted and fully incorporated.  Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook an additional 2-4 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Serve immediately.  If desired, top with grated fresh Parmesan cheese and snipped fresh basil.