Food

It’s just bacon, y’all.

File Apr 28, 11 08 33 AM

 

Y’all, I have a Culinary Arts degree from (what was at the time I graduated) the second-best culinary institute in America. And yet, this morning, I burned turkey bacon in the microwave. I hadn’t made it in a while and cooked it for 1 minute a slice when it should have been 30 seconds a slice.

This doesn’t make me a rotten person, a bad mom or incompetent. I made an error in judgement and learned a lesson. I made a mistake that didn’t harm anyone and didn’t set off the smoke alarm.

I didn’t beat myself up, I merely dumped the paper towels and bacon in a plastic bag and threw it out the back door so the smell did not permeate the house (when the hubs comes home he’ll put it in the outside trash can). And B & I had a good laugh about it. I use to be THAT person who literally cried over spilled milk. But I decided to stop that shit in 2015. It’s been hard, but worth it: to not get upset with myself nor my child when accidents happen. I’m happier. He’s happier. Our home is calmer. Eliminating these particular emotional roller coasters from my life have been good for me and those around me.

It’s OK if you burn bacon, too. You’re human and accidents happen. Take a deep breath, throw it out the back door and start again.

Now excuse me, I need to make B some more bacon.

Because…pants. 

It’s been one of those weeks. We’ve been running hither and yon constantly. We haven’t been home long enough for me to make real meals until today. And when I tried to make breakfast this morning, I realized we had no food! Thank goodness the hubs forgot to take his leftovers from last night’s drive-thru dinner to work. However, the boy chose to go hungry rather than eat the cold, popcorn chicken. So I typed up a grocery list while eating the cold, popcorn chicken and dreaded going to the store.
“Don’t you want REAL food in your house,” you ask. “Don’t you want to be able to nourish your family with wholesome goodness so they have go-power and live long, healthy, prosperous lives?” Yes! Yes, I truly do!
But here’s the thing: it involves putting on pants. I don’t need every hair in place, flawless makeup nor stain-free clothes to leave the house, but I do need pants. And I’ve “panted” enough this week. I panted all over the DC Metro area this week: interacted with strangers while volunteering at a concession stand, having conversations with other basketball parents before, between and after games, matching the loud cheers of the other parents so well that I caused my own hearing aid to squeak and whistle and ensured the uniforms were washed daily so the teenager didn’t leave the house in stinky pants. I’ve even shamefully tried to convince my son to skip at least one, if not all three, of the 4-H activities he has this weekend, by telling him he’ll miss out on playing with his neighborhood friends, so I can stay home. So, TODAY, I need a break from panting. I just. Don’t. Want. To pant today. 
I went upstairs to shower and pant but put it off by visiting the boy in his room, instead. “You know what I’m in the mood for,” he asked. Please say staying home all weekend, I thought. “Pizza!” I didn’t explain to him that we are NOT going to get food out AGAIN, that we are going to the grocery store, because I knew couldn’t be convincing. I left his room and, instead of going into mine to pant up, I wandered back downstairs. 
I saw I had a missed call from the hubs so I called him back, if only to put off the inevitability of panting a little longer. 

 
Me: Sup?

The hubs: Back from grocery shopping?

Me: No. I’ve been busy. Going to get ready now. 

The hubs: Oh, good, I caught you! I’m in the mood for sushi!

Me: Ugh! The boy’s in the mood for pizza, but we need real food in the house!

The hubs: I’ll bring home sushi & pizza and then do the shopping tomorrow while you and the boy are at 4-H. 

And just like that, I got a “buy” (yup, I’m a sports mom, now). A buy that includes sushi. And I’m taking it. Because…pants. 

UPDATE: The boy just walked by with something crinkling in his hand. “What’s that,” I asked. “I found a cheese stick and ate it,” he replied. 

I burst into tears. “I’m sorry we don’t have any food but I just can’t pant today!”

He wrapped me in his arms and patted my back. “You don’t have to pant today, Mom. And it’s OK that we don’t have any food. You know why? Because we have ingredients and we’ll make food.”

Thrifty Thursday: FoodSaver

My FoodSaver

My parents gave me this TOTALLY AWESOME FoodSaver for Christmas!!!! It came from Costco and included reusable zipper-top bags and a roll of make-your-own bags (shown in the picture, above) as well as a small container for quickly infusing foods with marinades. They also bought me an extra box of bags & rolls, which I’ve broken into since I used up the roll that came with the FoodSaver already!

I wanted one of these for SO LONG, but truly worried how soon, or even if, I’d make back my investment in saving food. Do I really have that much food waste? Yes. Yes, I do. And I’m going to show you how I’ve prevented throwing bad food out and kept foods fresher longer in the 5 weeks since I started using it.

My husband is a hunter and we have the meat from 2 deer in our freezers. All the meat comes back from the processor, broken down into roasts, steaks, ground, etc., wrapped solely in butcher paper. That is not enough to protect it from freezer burn. And I have tried several different brands of zipper-top freezer bags and none of them have been able to protect my foods completely nor for any period of time more than a month or two. I have lost foods that I bought in bulk when they’ve gone on sale at stores because a freezer bag could not protect my foods. Look at this beautiful venison roast, completely sealed up with no air inside the plastic with it. I was thawing it in order make a delicious stew.

Photo Feb 17, 10 07 20 AM

Something really strange happens with lunch meat in my house. If I buy 1/4 lb or 1/2 lb of lunch meat at the store, it is devoured in 24 hours and the beasts howl and pound their chests until I go back and get more. If I buy 1 lb of lunch meat, it will sit in the fridge for weeks until it starts to smell! *sigh* I haven’t thrown out any lunch meat since I started using my FoodSaver and their zipper-top bags. I bought 5 different kinds of lunch meats and 3 kinds of cheeses and sealed them up in the bags. When someone opens the bag to get out lunch meat, I simply use my attachment to reseal the bag before putting it back in the fridge. Yes, I have to reseal after each times a bag is opened, but it’s better than throwing away bad meat I paid for and going to the store for more.

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I made a loaf of French bread in my bread machine last month and we only used half of it. Being homemade without preservatives, it won’t last long, so I sliced it up and sealed it in a bag that I custom cut from the roll. I also made a batch of pumpkin spice muffins for snacks. We ate half and I wanted to preserve the rest for another time. I know what you’re thinking: if the food saver sucks hard enough to remove all air out of a bag, won’t it crush your baked goods? Nope, because my FoodSaver came with a Pulse Vac option! I select Pulse Vac, slide the end of the bag in and then I use the Pulse Vac button to slowly remove the amount of air I want to. I can suck out most of the air, get the bag to a point where it’s hugging my baked goods but not crushing them, and then seal the bag. The next pix is of my first lot of sealing: chicken thighs I bought in bulk, the French bread and the muffins.

Photo Feb 17, 10 07 37 AM

Besides lunch meat, another item that is wasted a lot in this house are bagged snacks, such as chips and pretzels. Even on those rare occasions when my guys do close a bag up with a clip, it’s still not sealed and they will never taste as crisp and fresh as they did when the bag was first opened. My FoodSaver has solved this problem for me with the Pulse Vac option! I can suck as much air out of a chip bag and I want, starting and stopping to check how close the bag is coming to the chips, and then seal it up until we’re ready to eat chips again. We haven’t lost a single chip nor pretzel stick! You can see in the picture, below, that plenty of air has been removed from the chip bag, but there is still room around the chips. This Pulse Vac option alone is so worth pulling the FoodSaver out onto the counter to use (we have very little counter space, so I don’t leave it out all the time).

Photo Feb 11, 5 04 20 PM

And I’m still not done! This machine has 2 other things it can do to save money or add convenience. Remember that green & black attachment in the lunch meat picture, above? I pull that out and set it on a particular spot on the zipper-top bags to seal them. However, I can also pull the top off of it and, along with a reusable bottle stopper, reseal a bottle of wine! I don’t drink wine, but the hubs does. He won’t drink a whole bottle by himself and sometimes we’ll just open a bottle and use a little wine in a recipe. Yes, you can stick the cork back in and keep the wine in the fridge for another day or two, but the quality & taste of the wine suffers. My FoodSaver attachment will suck out the air and seal that bottle back up for when I’m ready to use the rest.

Photo Feb 17, 11 36 05 AM

I mentioned in the beginning of this post that my FoodSaver included a small container. You can store fragile items in it and seal them up, like my lunch meat in the picture below, or fresh berries that tend to start dissolving as soon as you bring them home from the store or farm. But you can also quickly marinate food in it! Were you looking forward to having a specific dish for dinner, only to come home in the evening and find you forgot to get your meat or veggies in the marinade before leaving the house in the morning? No problem! Put your marinade and food in one of FoodSaver’s containers, snap on the lid, pull out the attachment, place it directly on the gray oval in the lid and press the Marinate button on the FoodSaver. Once’s it’s sealed on there, you can let go of the attachment. It will cycle through a bunch of sucks and releases (for lack of a better description) for 10 minutes, infusing your marinade into your food.

Photo Feb 17, 11 44 17 AM

So there you have it: all the reasons I love my FoodSaver and am so glad my parents gave us one for Christmas! I am not associated with FoodSaver in anyway, nor did they ask me to review their product. I just like to share products I love. If you have been thinking of getting one, and you’re a Costco member, why not go for it? Costco has THE BEST return policy and you can just bring it back if you don’t like it or don’t use it enough. Part of me wishes we’d gotten one sooner, but I’m so glad we waited. These extra functions and accessories offered currently make my life easier and my wallet thicker.

Review of Frozen Butternut Squash Risotto Bought at Aldi

  
I picked this up the last time I shopped atAldi. You just heat it up on the stove or in the microwave. I was looking forward to trying it with pork chops for dinner. I made it last night and have mixed feelings about the risotto. 

If you’ve ever made risotto, you know how time consuming and labor intensive it can be. I loved this frozen shortcut of making risotto for a weeknight dinner. It took longer than the 5-7 minutes reported on the package, but was easy-peasy to do, ready in 15 minutes or less and the texture was perfect. It was also made with brown rice. 

However, the wrong spices were added to it. The brown sugar, cinnamon & nutmeg made it taste sweet, like a pumpkin pie. I wanted a savory side dish! I think those ingredients were added to make it palatable and attractive to someone who wouldn’t normally eat butternut squash. However, I don’t think those people would even buy this product. All of us were disappointed in the flavor. 

I won’t be buying this one again, because I don’t think I could doctor it up enough to cover those unwelcome flavors. But I would try another another flavor of frozen risotto from Aldi.

(Butternut Squash Risotto with my phallic pork chop. 😉)

 

Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo was the perfect dish for day 5 of being snowed in!

File Jan 26, 4 41 49 PM

This is how my pot of Damn Delicious’ Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo turned out.

I found Damn Delicious’ recipe for a lightened up version of Chicken Broccoli Alfredo over the weekend. We’ve been snowed in since Friday, but I had all the ingredients on hand (thankfully), so I made it for lunch today. Fabulous! The lighter sauce (all cream in other recipes but part milk and part chicken stock in this one) was just as flavorful and satisfying as the the full fat version, without the food coma afterwards. The recipe says it’s 4 servings, but this could totally feed a family of 6, IMO. You want to bulk it up, add a salad and a loaf of crusty bread. This recipe is dinner party worthy!

You know me, I rarely follow a recipe to the “T”, and this was no exception:

  • I didn’t have rotini, so I used penne
  • Instead of 2 chicken breasts, I used 5, small boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Wegmans Basting Oil instead of olive oil
  • I don’t buy unsalted butter, so I used salted
  • And I added more Parmesan cheese (but I’m not willing to admit to how much more)

I highly recommend this dish and am adding it to our dinner rotation!

 

Thrifty Thursday: Saving of Keurig K-Cups

No matter what brand nor type of pod you use for your Keurig coffeemaker, the costs can really add up! I received this money-saving tip from my father-in-law; it’s how he and my mother-in-law make their coffee at home and now, so do we.

We use each K-cup twice! The hubs likes a bold roast and I prefer a weaker blend. Instead of buying two different kinds of pods, we just buy the bold roast he likes. He makes his coffee with a new K-cup and then I’ll reuse it for a weaker brew that suits my palate.

I don’t drink as much coffee as the hubs. However, if I drank a cup per day like he does, we’d save 50% on the cost of K-cups!

Thrifty Thursday: Onion Dip

I’m so sorry I didn’t post this past Thursday, the 3rd Thursday of the month, when my Thrifty Thursday posts are supposed to appear! I was at the beach with my boy, enjoying a few days off.

Love dipping your chips in onion dip but hate the strong taste in your mouth hours later? Here’s a tip to save your palate and save you money!

Your typical dry, onion soup mix says to mix one envelope with 16 oz of sour cream. Instead, mix it with a 24 oz container of sour cream. It cuts the onion flavor, so you aren’t brushing your teeth several times that day, and you have more dip!

Cooking Rice in the Microwave

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The Hubs wanted rice with dinner tonight. No biggie, except I was already using the pan that I needed for cooking rice. So, I decided to search the Google-sphere for a way to cook rice in the microwave without requiring a special container.

It took me about 15 minutes to find one, but I did and it turned out great! I used this fabulous recipe from Steamy Kitchen.

I cooked the rice in my large, glass bowl from Pampered Chef and just sat the lid on top. I used a scoonch too much water (my fault, I didn’t follow the 1 inch rule in the recipe) so some boiled over onto the rotating plate in my microwave, but it easily wiped up.

My rice cooked in half the time of doing it on the stove, so I am sticking with this way from now on!

Easy-Peasy, 3-Ingredient, BBQ Ribs in the Pressure Cooker

 

Ribs in Pressure Cooker

I *love* using my pressure cooker! Perfect for someone like me who thinks I’ve got everything going for me and I’m having a productive day, only to be brought up short in late afternoon with, “When’s dinner? I’m hungry.” Oh, right…dinner.  Forgot about that.  And you can’t pull out your crockpot at that late hour! So here’s another easy-peasy pressure cooker recipe, with only 3 ingredients, that produces tender, sticky ribs you thought you could only get from a low & slow professional!

I could’ve sworn the ribs were in the fridge, but I was wrong. No worries! I dropped the frozen ribs in my 2-gallon jug, full of hot water, and they were thawed in half an hour.  😀

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Remove baby back ribs from their wrapper and cut into 4 sections. Place the elevated cooking rack inside the cooker, pour in 2 cups of ginger ale and then lay rib sections on top of rack.

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Set pressure cooker timer for 25 minutes and ensure vent is sealed.

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When timer is up, vent out the steam completely before opening up the cooker. The ribs might not look pretty without their dousing of BBQ sauce, but try the meat here. So tender and juicy! Now we’re going to add the sauce and make the ribs sticky. You can do this on your grill, if you prefer. We’ve done that, but it’s faster and stickier under the broiler. You chose!

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Turn on your broiler, remembering that your oven door needs to be cracked when you are broiling. My oven rack is 7 inches below my broiler. This gives the sauce time to get sticky and really adhere to the ribs. If the rack was closer to the broiler, the sauce would blacken more. Pick your preference!

Remove meat to an oven-proof dish, underside of ribs facing up. Spread on your favorite BBQ sauce – ours is currently Sweet Baby Ray’s Sweet & Spicy!

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Keep an eye on your ribs under the broiler; they can go from zero to burnt pretty quickly when left alone, but take forever to caramelize when you stare at them. ;o) Ours were under the broiler approximately 7-9 minutes per side.  When you have achieved your desired level of color and stickiness on the underside of your ribs, remove from broiler, flip, sauce the other side and back into the broiler for another 7-9 minutes. Do you see how the sauce just fused to the underside of the ribs, below?! It was so hard to put them back under the broiler for the other side because I just wanted to dig in!

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And…voilà! RIBS. ARE. DONE! To be honest with you, we could have left the top side of the ribs under the broiler longer, to achieve the same, infusion of matte sauce the back got, but it smelled so good, we couldn’t wait any longer. ;o) And they were still deliciously sticky! 

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Give these a try and let me know how they turned out! And check out my other Easy-Peasy Pressure Cooker recipes.

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