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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Baby Beef Stew

This recipe comes from a baby and toddler cookbook and is recommended for kids 12 months and older. I made this tonight for my daughter for lunch tomorrow. I hope she likes it. Despite my hatred of onions, I am determined not to curse her with that so I chopped up the onion myself and added it to the stew.

Ingredients:
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb beef stew meat, cut into 1/2 in chunks
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
2 Yukon gold or red potatoes, cut into chunks
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium tomato, cored and finely chopped
1 1/2 cups Veggie/Chicken broth (I used more) 

Makes about 4 cups

Directions:

  •  In a small stockpot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Sprinkle the beef lightly with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Cook, turning as needed, until browned, 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Leave the juices in the pan over medium-high heat. 
  • Add the onion, garlic, rosemary, and 2 tablespoons water and cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes, stirring to scrape up the brown bits in the pan. Return the beef to the pan, along with any juices accumulated on the plate. Add the potatoes, carrots, tomato, and stock and stir to mix well.. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the beef and vegetables are very tender, about 1-1.5 hours. 
  • Depending on your toddler's age and chewing ability, shred or mash the beef and vegetables into a size your toddler can handle. Let cool slightly, then ladle into bowls and serve. 
  • Store it: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days, or free for up to 1 month. 

This picture was taken before I add more water and broth. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Quick, Easy and Cheap Popcorn

I love those bags of popcorn at the store but they're pretty expensive for what you get. Also, many times, the bags are huge and I feel obligated to eat the whole bag so that I don't waste it. Here's a solution:

Take one of those brown paper lunch bags. Put 1/4-1/3 cup of plain popcorn. You can get a big container of it much cheaper than the bags. Add any dry ingredients you want such as salt. Microwave just like you would the bagged popcorn. I always listen to my popcorn to tell when it's done. When it's done, add whatever you want. You can make all of those fancy popcorns you see in the store. Be creative.

Essentials and Ingredients: Toum (Garlic Sauce)

This can be added to meat, vegetables, or whatever you want. Use sparingly because the base is garlic, which is very strong. Also keep in mind that the longer you have this sauce, the spicier it will be.

Toum

Ingredients:
1 head of garlic (Peeled) - remember to save the peel for your vegetable stock
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup oil

Blend garlic, salt and lemon juice in a food processor until it is a paste. Then add the oil and blend again.

You can vary how much of each ingredient you add depending on your personal preference.

There you have it, a simple and delicious condiment.

Essentials and Ingredients: Stock

This applies to vegetable stock, or any meat stock:

Save the scraps of whatever kind of stock you are making.
If you are making vegetable stock, save all of those scraps from vegetables that you won't eat such as onion and garlic peels, the leaves of celery if you don't eat them, literally any part of the vegetable that you will not eat.

If you are making chicken stock, save all of those bones and fat and any part of the chicken you will not eat. (Don't forget if you go out for fried chicken or chicken wings, don't throw that stuff away, RECYCLE)

You will want to keep these separate. Have a vegetable stock zip lock bag in the freezer, have another bag for chicken, another for beef, etc. Freeze this stuff until you are ready to make your stock.

When you have enough to make the stock, put the scraps in some water and add salt and any other spices you like.

If you have a crock pot, leave it overnight in the crock pot on the high setting.

If you do not have a crock pot, put it in a pot on the stove and bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour.

Strain out the scraps and store the liquid in the refrigerator. 

There you go, now not only do you not have to buy the stuff, but you will cut down on your food waste.

Also, if you have a garden, you can put the vegetables that you just made into a compost pile along with egg shells and expired canned good for double recycling. Do not, however, put the meat scraps and bones in your compost.

Essentials and Ingredients: Fruit Soda

Instead of buying soda that has a ton of chemicals and HFCS, make your own.

Save the parts of the fruit you wouldn't eat such as the peels of oranges or the core of pineapples. Collect it in a zip lock bag that you keep in the freezer. Once you have enough or are ready to make some soda, buy some club soda. If you're a big soda drinker, it is more cost effective to buy the 2 liter bottle but if not, the cans are better so that you avoid wasting your soda.

Put your fruit scraps in a medium sauce pan. Cover it with sugar. You're going to use quite a bit since you're making a syrup. Add enough water to submerge the sugar. Put on medium heat for 15 minutes and then check the thickness of the mixture. Stir and heat for another 15 minutes if necessary. After you're done heating it, add the syrup to club soda. Add as much as you want. Taste it to see how sweet you like it.

Cooking School

I've mentioned my friend Allie before. Well, I'm finally going to learn the basics of cooking that we have both been talking about me learning for years. She is breaking up the curriculum into three parts:

1. Ingredients and Essentials- This is where I will learn about how to make staples such as breads, jams, sauces, stock, etc. This will include anything you can make to use in recipes. I will also learn about how to avoid food waste by recycling and substituting ingredients.
2. Meals and Takeout- This will be simple meals, meal planning, and how to make food that I would ordinarily want to go out and eat.
3. Pastries- This one is pretty self explanatory.

I may have missed something in my explanation but I will elaborate as we go through.

How to get Mildew off your Shower Curtain Liner

I am very allergic to mildew so when it shows up, I just want to discard whatever it is on. Well when my mom was visiting, she mentioned that my aunt takes her shower curtain liner and washes it with a few towels. I tried this. I used the Arm & Hammer laundry soap, no bleach and it came out like new. I put it in the dryer on the low setting just so it wasn't soaking wet when I put it back. I only left it in there for about 10 minutes or so. It worked great!

My aunt is a clean freak so I'll be posting some of her ideas. Her house is always spotless.

Chicken Bruschetta and Herbed Angel Hair Pasta (So Delicious)

Once again, I am so bad about posting. I need to designate a day to post so that I am consistent. I made this recipe last Friday and had to share it. I served it to five people and everyone loved it. It was gone that night. It was also very easy and I happened to have most of the ingredients on hand so that was also a plus. I was able to use some tomatoes that might have otherwise gone bad. Yay for no food waste! 

Here's the recipe including my modifications:

Chicken Bruschetta

Ingredients:
14 oz can diced tomatoes, drained (I used fresh)
1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese (I used pizza cheese because I had some leftover from when we made pizza)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used about 3 large ones and it was more than enough for 5 people)
8 oz of tomato sauce (I only had the spicy kind on hand and it was actually really tasty)
1 teaspoon minced garlic (I used fresh)
2 cups garlic cheese croutons, crushed slightly (I left this out)

Combine diced tomatoes, cheese and basil; set aside. Pound chicken breasts to 1/2 inch thick. Combine tomato sauce and garlic in large skillet with cover. Add chicken breasts. Top each breast with tomato and cheese mixture. Bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Top with crushed croutons and serve.

Here's the recipe for the pasta I made with it (Also very delicious):

Herbed Angel Hair Pasta

Ingredients:
12 oz angel hair pasta (or any kind you want)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (I ran out of fresh so I used about 1/8 cup of the dry stuff)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Cook pasta by package directions then drain. In a small skillet on medium heat, cook garlic in olive oil and butter for 2-3 minutes. Stir in Parmesan, basil, salt and pepper then pour mixture over cooked angel hair pasta while pasta is still warm. Lift and turn pasta to coat with herb sauce.


On another note: My progress in my quest has been slow but steady. I managed to get a good schedule for my daughter and I so that has definitely helped. I'm also in the process of creating a cleaning schedule. My mother came to visit and helped me clean the whole house. It's so nice that I want to keep it up. I'll post some cleaning tips on here that I find. It seems like I'm forgetting something. Oh well, if there's something else, I'll save that for a future update.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I must confess...

I haven't been cooking lately...I know I'm horrible. Thats why i haven't updated. The truth is, everyone has been cooking for me. It's been pretty awesome. Tonight, my mother-in-law made her home made spaghetti sauce, which is by far, my favorite thing that she cooks. I love pasta. Last night, while I was working, my husband made red beans and rice with sausage. (Also one of my favorite things to eat.) Sunday, we ate at the in-laws. It
was some type of stuffed salmon, which was quite tasty. Saturday night, Jon (my husband), Joe (our friend) and I went to Jon's parents' house because both of their birthdays were earlier in the week. Jon made chicken Alfredo from scratch and I made a German chocolate cake from scratch. (Even the icing) they were both quite delicious. We all ate too much food. I can't remember what we had before all of that awesomeness. I'll update when I actually cook something, which should be soon. This can't last forever right? On a side note, we still haven't figured out the bread. However, I need to take a trip to Allie's house so I can get a bread-making seminar from her and Ross. I can't wait.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Everyone Makes Mistakes

I'm adding this post to show one of my mistakes. I attempted to make bread this evening. It did not go so well. The bread tasted ok but was not the intended texture. The picture shows the ending result and no, it is not pretty at all. It did not rise properly first of all. The lesson I take from this is to read my recipe thoroughly BEFORE attempting it. The recipe called for 2-3 tsp of iodized salt and 1 tsp of sea salt. The recipe then said to add salt. So I added ALL the salt. Later in the recipe, it said to sprinkle the sea salt on top of the bread. I'm sure that did not help. And it tasted a little salty. Another problem here is that it was not cooked all the way. I now see this. When it first came out of the oven, it was hard for me to tell.

So to sum it up, here's what I take away from this:

1. Read the recipe before beginning.

2. The bread was undercooked.

3. I did not let it rise long enough.


More to come on my adventure with bread. I will try again tomorrow. Good night.

Cleaning Products

I mentioned earlier that I will now be making my own cleaning products. It's actually pretty easy and SO cheap. I will never again buy pre-made stuff at the store.

Today I made laundry detergent (which is very expensive but cheap to make). It takes a little bit of time and effort but nothing unreasonable. Here's the recipe I used.

I also made all purpose cleaner, which is even easier than the laundry soap. There's tons of recipes out there. I used this one. I'm making glass cleaner next. I usually like to have an all purpose cleaner and a cleaner specific for glass.

I don't know about you but I am horrible about cleaning my bathtub. It always seems to get skipped every time I clean because I spend so much time on other more pressing things. I recently made this as a potential solution. I will update on how it works out.

Here's another good one to get the water stains off the ice/water dispenser.

I found all of this on Pinterest by the way. I've found tons of good stuff on there but you can just google it if you do not want to set up an account.

That's all the cleaning stuff for now. I will be adding more as I run out of things such as dish washing soap.

Post Holiday

Now that the holidays have come to a close, I'm actually home on the weekend. We've been out of town the past 2 or 3 weeks so it's been pretty crazy. There was lots of cooking going on over the holidays but mostly not my doing so nothing significant to report there.






On New Year's Eve, I decided to start by making some Cuban bread. A friend of mine, Joe, who is from Florida (and half Cuban) brought some of the pig they roasted for "Noche Buena." From what I understand, it's a traditional Cuban celebration around Christmas time where a pig is roasted in someone's backyard and lots of good food, fun and family time is had. I'm not sure if it is their family that does this, but I think it's a Cuban thing. Joe and I had been talking about making Cuban bread for awhile now. According to my friends from south Florida, the bread is what makes the Cuban sandwich so I knew we had to master this. I found a website awhile back: Taste of Cuba. This website has authentic Cuban recipes and of course had the recipe for Cuban bread. I'd never successfully made bread before so I was a bit nervous. It came out great. Those of us who didn't know any better thought it was perfect. Joe, however, said the taste was spot on but the texture needed to be changed a bit. We brought in the new year with delicious Cuban sandwiches and a good time.