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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.