Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Breakfast Cornbread

Cornbread is a staple of Southern life, and not that sweet almost cake textured stuff.  It has to be a tad dense preferably made with yellow cornmeal, and served hot with melted butter.  Everybody knows baking it in a iron skillet is the preferred way to assure the crisp crust, and according to my grandmother you needed a dollop of bacon grease in the bottom of that pan.  I won't go that far with the purity of "real" cornbread, but you do need at least a couple of teaspoons of oil heated to sizzling in the bottom of the pan just prior to pouring the batter in it.

 When I happened on a recipe for Breakfast Cornbread I was very excited.  It sounded like the perfect lake food.  I am finding I really like a one dish meal for breakfast there and especially one that can have at least some of the components processed at home for a quick throw together meal .  I want to be able to sit on the porch drinking coffee while the meal virtually cooks itself.

Breakfast Cornbread

3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk ( regular, no fat or buttermilk)
2  eggs beaten
1/4 cup oil ( I used sunflower)
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 log breakfast sausage cooked and drained ( I am not sure if it is sold in 12 or 16 ounce logs)
1 medium onion, diced

In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients and stir to blend well.  Add the milk, egg and oil then stir to combine well, but do not over mix. (Use a wooden spoon here, it's just easier).  Stir in the sausage, cheese and onions to evenly distribute. If using a cast iron skillet preheat the oven to 400 degrees.   Put a couple of teaspoons of oil in the pan  and stick it in the oven to heat, then pour the batter into it.  Bake until it is uniformly golden brown and the center is set. ( 20-25 minutes)
I was at the lake and don't have an iron skillet there__yet.  For a pyrex dish preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Wipe the pan with oil and pour the batter into the pan.  Bake for about 30 minutes until it is golden and the center is set.  Let cool a few minutes before cutting (or cut it piping hot but it WILL crumble badly)  We ate it exactly as it was without added butter or syrup (?) and called it delicious.  I can see making this quite a bit there.

We wrapped the leftovers and stuck them in the fridge to bring home.  Son3 ate it the next day and he thought it was fantastic also, and he is our pickiest eater.  Don't tell him he ate minced onions or he will declare it was not good!

If you have access to Martha White or White Lily Cornbread mixes you might want to use them to save a bit of combining stuff time.  I will probably combine all my dry ingredients at home, and will have the sausage cooked and drained and the cheese grated and refrigerated to just grab and pack.  Once there I will only have to dice the onion and add the wet ingredients.

If you like cornbread and like to try something different, I suggest you give this a whirl.

Monday, April 28, 2014

No Food Shopping Week 4

Day 22

Breakfast: Coffee, Clementine
Lunch: Leftover Tequila Lime Chicken, Leftover Squash Casserole
Dinner:  Hamburger (Bought on the way home from the lake.  Had to run meet the gutter guy)
Sugar Cookie Squares (Son2 and little friend Morgan made these)

Used: clementine, last serving of chicken, remaining squash casserole, 1 cup butter, 1 egg, 2 1/2 cups flour, remaining confectioners sugar.

Day 23

Breakfast: Coffee, Clementine
Lunch: Tossed Salad,
Dinner: Cuban Chicken Stew, Cauliflower Salad5 Minute Brownies

Used: 1 clementine, large portion of the leftover Easter salad,  1/12 packs frozen chicken, 4 red potatoes, 1 onion, 5 cloves garlic, 1 can tomato sauce, 1/2 pack frozen mixed peppers, 1 cup frozen early peas, 1/2 head trimmed less than stellar cauliflower, 1 small yellow pepper,  whole cherry tomatoes I snagged from the Easter salad,  couple of teaspoons chopped onion, 1/2 can ripe olives, 1/2 cup raisins 2 eggs 1/2 cup cocoa. 3/4 cup flour.

As of today, I have nothing left for a salad, except maybe a carrot and raisin salad. Boo!

Day 24

Breakfast: Coffee, Jam Filled Muffins ( oops! I burned them so ate the tops of the 2 least burned ones.  Burned muffins are not very good at all)
Lunch:  Small Serving Cuban Chicken Stew
Dinner: Chicken With Black Bean Salsa, Green Beans, Leftover Asparagus, Strawberry Shortcake

Used: 2 cups flour, 1 egg, 1 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup oil, 1/4 cup cherry jam ( have about 6 jars left from last summer), small serving of leftover cuban stew, 1 1/2 pack frozen chicken breasts, 1 can black beans, 1 can rotel tomatoes, 2 ears leftover corn on the cob, 1/4 onion, remaining strawberries, last of a box of Bisquick, part of a Cool Whip container I didn't know I had in the freezer, 1/2 cup reconstituted dried milk, 1/8 cup oil

Day 25

Breakfast:  Coffee, Clementine
Lunch:  Bits and Pieces Of Various Leftovers
Dinner: Grilled Steak, Spinach Souffle, Pasta Salad, Banana Pudding

Used: 1 clementine, the remaining little bits of leftover whatever from the fridge, 1 small package steak from freezer, frozen Stouffer's spinach souffle, 1/2 box elbow macaroni, 1/4 onion minced, 1 small red pepper minced, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 overripe bananas, 1 box pudding mix, 2 cups reconstituted instant milk, small pack vanilla wafers*

Day 26

Breakfast:  Out To Eat ( Woke at the lake to no electricity)
Lunch: Ham and Cheese Sandwiches*, Clementine
Dinner: Pasta Bake, Home Baked Rolls, Green Beans

Used: leftover ham, cheese slices,  4 slices bread* 1/2 box rigatoni, 1 small pack frozen precooked ground beef with onions and garlic, 1 jar spaghetti sauce, spices, remaining mozzarella cheese ( 2 ounces maybe) generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese, 2 clementines, 1 banana

Day 27

Breakfast: Breakfast Cornbread, Clementine
Lunch: Ham Sandwiches
Dinner:  Chinese Take Out ( Left the Lake Later Than Planned)
              Son3, Leftover Pasta Bake

Used: 1 1/2 cups corn meal, 1 cup flour, 1 pound frozen sausage, remaining cheddar at the lake, 1 egg,1 cup reconstituted instant milk, 1 onion, leftover ham, remaining sliced cheese, 2 clementines, 4 slices bread

Day 28

Breakfast: Graham Crackers and Cookie Butter (Thanks Trader Joe's!) Coffee
                 Son3, Leftover Breakfast Cornbread
Lunch: 2 Clementines
Dinner: Odd Cheeseburger Macaroni Casserole with Green Peas, Tomatoes and Okra

Used: 4 graham crackers, 2 tablespoons cookie butter, remaining breakfast cornbread, 2 clementines, 1/2 bag elbow macaroni, remaining 1/2 bag of frozen peas, 1 bag precooked ground beef (someone left the laundry room refrigerator freezer compartment open and it had thawed) 1 small pack frozen queso cheese, remaining garlic powder, various herbs, 1 can stewed okra and tomatoes (Vegetable options are getting slim)  Also used a box of tea bags over the course of the month.  I still have 3 boxes of tea bags remaining.  I don't need to buy them until the end of the summer.

* Forgot to take sliced bread to the lake, again, so we stopped and got some.  TheHub wanted banana pudding so he bought vanilla wafers also.  I probably should have made them but we had a lake work weekend scheduled and had a lot more to do than bake.

I now have enough flour for 1 more recipe of French bread and maybe 1 small baked good.  I still have a few eggs remaining at home and I have about 1/2 dozen at the lake. We are going there this weekend so I will bring any left over home. ( Forgot to bring the eggs home.  I also have about 2 pounds of flour at the lake but didn't bring it here either. Bummer!)

I am getting tired of having what we have on hand vs. what we would like to eat, but this has honestly not been a huge struggle.  I have learned a few things, such as TheHub  is not very flexible.  When we were going to the lake it was a tragedy that I forgot the bread so we HAD to stop and get some.  I could have just as easily had a cup of soup ( We have about 4 cans of soup at the lake) but we had planned on ham sandwiches so we had to have ham sandwiches.   I have also learned this takes time and planning, both in the thawing time but also the time required for cooking mainly from scratch.  Homemade rolls taste better but take much longer than reheating deli rolls.  I have also learned that I don't have to purchase BOGO's from Publix unless it is something I will use fairly quickly. ( See tea bags mentioned above)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Cuban Chicken Stew

Of all the ethnic foods I have eaten, Cuban is by far my favorite.  There is something so appealing about the fusion of Spanish and Caribbean cooking.  I love the taste, the smells and the textures of it.  Today I was looking through the freezer to find what we would be eating tonight.  I pulled  out some chicken breasts and noticed a medium size bag of frozen sweet pepper strips.   I usually flip through my bookmarks to see if I have saved something the might work with whatever ingredients I have on hand.  I didn't have to go far to find this recipe for Cuban Chicken Stew.  I figured since I knew I loved traditional Cuban flavors I might as well try it.  As usual I veered off the recipe a little, so I am writing what I did rather than what the actual recipe called for.

Cuban Chicken Stew

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion julienned
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup green pepper slices (I used frozen)
1/2 cup red pepper slices ( I used frozen)
5 chicken breast halves, cut in 2 inch pieces
1 teaspoon mexican oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 small bay leaves
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 can whole ripe olives, drained and sliced
1/2 cup raisins, minced finely
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 red potatoes in 1/4 inch slices
1/2 cup frozen peas

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. ( I prefer enameled cast iron.) Add the onions and saute till wilted but not browned, add the garlic and peppers and cook until the peppers are just wilted.  Remove from the pan and add the chicken.  Cook until it just begins to color then cover with the oregano, cumin and bay leaves.  Pour the tomato sauce on top of the spices and return the vegetables to the pot.  Add the olives and the raisins.  Stir to blend.  Add 1 cup of white wine and 1/2 cup of chicken stock.  Cook on medium low heat for about 30 minutes.  Add the potatoes and cook until almost cooked through then add the peas.  By the time the potatoes have finished cooking the peas will be ready.  Serve in a shallow bowl.

Oh my goodness, this was incredibly delicious.  We gobbled it down!  I can't think of anything I would do differently to this.  Although it is stew, it is not one that should be eaten as just a winter dish.  The flavors were intense but not heavy.  I used fewer potatoes than the recipe called for, and next time I might leave them out entirely and use jasmine rice instead.  It would alter the consistency a little but I think it would still be good.  When summer hits and tomatoes are at their peak I will probably make this using fresh Roma tomatoes rather than tomato sauce.  I can't wait.  This is going to go in my monthly rotation because everyone loved eating it.

p.s. The leftovers the next day were even more delicious!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

5 Minute Brownies

There are things in life that are deadly to know.  This recipe is one of those things, so of course I am sharing it with everyone.  Whenever we crave need something sweet and chocolaty and quick this is our go-to "fix".  I can't guarantee this will be ready in 5 minutes at your house since each microwave is different, but I can promise you within 10 minutes you can be eating warm, delicious chocolate brownies.

Sometime between the invention of color TV and cell phones a wonderful creation called the microwave started creeping into homes across America.  I was beyond thrilled to have one so I could bake a potato in 5 minutes.  It came with a cookbook and I tried a few of the recipes, but could not get on board with the concept of eating colorless meats, Then I found this recipe for brownies.  Finally I had a worthy recipe from the book.  I copied the recipe and tossed the cookbook so I can't tell you the name of it.  It was so long ago I don't even remember what brand the appliance was.  Sorry for that, because I would like to give credit where it is due.

                                                     5 Minute Brownies

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional

In a medium bowl add the melted butter and sugar.  Stir  with a spoon until well blended, then add the eggs and vanilla.  Mix well before adding the cocoa, flour and salt.  Stir to mix through.  Add nuts if desired.  Grease an 8x8 glass microwave pan.  Spread the batter evenly.  Cook for 5 minutes (if microwave does not have a turntable cook 2 1/2 minutes, turn one quarter turn and cook 2 1/2 more minutes.

That is pretty much it!  Now just eat!

I have made these variations of the basic brownies.

1. When the brownies are still very warm sprinkle 2 tablespoons of dark rum over the surface of the brownies.  Let it sit until cool then frost with a basic vanilla buttercream frosting.

2. When hot out of the oven sprinkle crushed peppermint pieces over the surface of the brownie.  Push them down into it then frost with chocolate buttercream. (Putting peppermint extract in the batter would work fine, but I always do this after Christmas when I am looking for ways to get rid of candy canes)

3. Frost with chocolate buttercream.  Cover the frosting with pecan halves and drizzle caramel over the pecan halves.

You are only limited by what you can imagine.  Enjoy! In fact, enjoy some 5 minutes from now!

Monday, April 21, 2014

No Food Shopping Week 3

Day 15

Breakfast: Coffee, Clementine
Lunch:  Son2 and me, Roast Beef Sandwich on Whole Wheat Bread
Dinner: Easy, Delicious Slow Cooker Stew, Waldorf Salad

Used: 4 Clementines (Son2 ate several) 4 Bread Slices, 6 Slices Sirloin Tip Roast (From 1/2 Frozen Roast) 1 lb Frozen Stew Meat, 1/2 lb Frozen ground Beef, 4 small potatoes, 1 onion, 4 carrots, parsley, 1 large apple, 4 stalks celery, 2 Tablespoons Chopped Walnuts

Day 16

Breakfast: Coffee, Clementine
Lunch: Roast Beef Sandwich on Whole Wheat Bread, Pineapple Chunks
Dinner: Tequila Lime Crock Pot Chicken, Green Beans, Oven "Fried" Okra, Pineapple Chunks

Used: 3 slices roast beef, 2 slices bread, 1 clementine, 1/2 pack frozen pineapple chunks, 1 frozen whole fryer, 1 onion, 1/4 cup lime juice ( bottled),  remaining green beans from a frozen pack, small pack of breaded okra

Day 17

Breakfast: Grapefruit Half, Coffee
Lunch: Leftover Tequila Lime Chicken, Fries (purchased) Clementine
Dinner:  Smoked Sausage, Lady Peas, Corn on the Cob, Oven "Fried" Okra, Cornmeal Biscuits

Used: 1/2 grapefruit, serving of leftover chicken, 3 clementines (son ate 2) 1 lb package of smoked sausage, 1 pack frozen lady peas, 1 small pack frozen okra,  1 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal, 1/3 cup instant milk, reconstituted.

Day 18

Breakfast: Coffee, Cornmeal Biscuit, Clementine
Lunch: Leftover Chicken Sandwich, Pineapple Chunks, Single Serving Bag of Pretzels
Dinner: Grilled Steak, Baked Potato, Tomato and Lettuce Salad with Oil and Vinegar, Steamed Asparagus.

Used: leftover biscuit, 1 clementine, the last of the tequila lime chicken, 2 slices of bread, 2 small packs of frozen steaks, 4 potatoes, 3/4 bunch asparagus, 1/2 large tomato, the rest of the lettuce, couple tablespoons butter for the potatoes, 1/4 cup oil for the dressing

Day 19

Breakfast:  Sausage and Cheese Biscuits, Coffee, 2 Scrambled Eggs and 2 Slices Bacon (TheHub)
Lunch: Ham Sandwich, Strawberries, Chips***
Dinner: Take Out Chicken Salad (me)  Grilled Chicken Sandwich (TheHub. We stayed at the lake later then we meant to)

Used: 4 home made and frozen sausage and cheese biscuits, 2 eggs, 2 slices pre cooked frozen bacon, sliced ham. (*** I forgot to take  bread for sandwiches to the lake  so we bought some bread, strawberries and TheHub bought chips.  We all ate them.  Brought the remaining strawberries and bread home, but the chips were devoured)

Day 20, Happy Easter!

Breakfast: Coffee (No time before church, plus it was Easter and I knew what was coming)
Lunch: Baked Ham,  Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb, Rice Pilaf, Nana's Squash Casserole,  Super Quick Yeast Rolls,  Asparagus, Tossed Salad, Carrot Cake, KeyLime Cookies
(You might wonder how I pulled off this meal during a no shopping month. It was easier than I thought it would be.  I had the ham already, found a forgotten leg of lamb in the freezer and had a carrot cake mix in the pantry.  With the exception of the asparagus and salad stuff I had everything else on hand.  My  Beloved Sister brought asparagus and key lime cookies  and Mother brought the salad.  Win/win situation.  We had salad and asparagus we would not have had plus they felt good about contributing to the meal.)
Dinner: Duh! Leftovers!

Used: frozen boneless leg of lamb, 6 cloves garlic, 1/2 cup parsley from the garden, rosemary from the garden, part of a ham (tons of leftovers), 2 cups rice, 1 lemon, 1 pack frozen chicken broth, 2 packs frozen squash,  1/2 cup cheese, shredded, 1/2 onion, 1 8 oz pack cream cheese, 2 cups confectioners sugar, carrot cake mix, 3 eggs, 1/3 cup oil, 3 1/2 cups bread flour 3/4 cup butter.

Day 21

Breakfast: Coffee, Clementine
Lunch: Peanut Butter and Graham Crackers
Dinner: Leftover Ham, Leftover Tossed Salad, Au Gratin Potatoes

Used: 1 clementine, few graham crackers and about a tablespoon of peanut butter,  4 small potatoes, 4 oz shredded cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup reconstituted instant milk.  TheHub picked up bananas and clementines at the store.

*  I used the ingredients in the recipe but cooked the entire thing in the crock pot, so nothing was sautéed or browned.  I also had no jalapeno. Instead, I sprinkled a generous amount of chili powder on the top of the chicken before adding the onions.  I also put a couple of shakes of dried hot red pepper flakes in the crock and added 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. No idea why I added the sugar.  I think I was thinking of something completely different , but once it was added I couldn't take it out.  Surprisingly it worked.  It added a touch of sweetness and a little thickness to the sauce.

Nine days are left for this challenge.  With the exception of 4 onions, a few potatoes, a less than stellar head of cauliflower,  a couple of sweet peppers and a handful of carrots I am totally out of fresh vegetables.  I have 3 lemons, 1 grapefruit, the new bag of clementines and some bananas for fruit. (TheHub takes fruit to his office daily which is why he continues to buy it)

I have used a good bit of the vegetables I had frozen last summer.  I still have a couple of packs of field peas, squash, frozen bell pepper strips and corn on the cob.  I also have a few bags of Bird's Eye frozen veggies.  It will be interesting to see what I can do with them.

I have barely made a dent in the meats and poultry in the freezer.  I might have to continue the challenge allowing myself to only purchase produce and dairy.  Not sure yet, but I am considering it.
Piggly Wiggly had a tent sale last week though, and it was so hard to NOT stock up on lower priced ground beef.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb

Just when I think it is impossible to shock me with anything I have hoarded stored, I move something in the freezer that has yet to be moved and find another surprise.  About a week before Easter I was rearranging the freezer shelves and found a boneless leg of lamb.  I had completely forgotten I had it. It was stuffed under the very neat packs of ground beef so I didn't even count it in my previous inventories. I guess I had just counted it as a large package of hamburger meat.  I remembered buying it.  Well, when I realized I had it I remembered buying it,  After 5 days in the refrigerator it finished thawing just in time for Easter.  So in addition to ham we had lamb!

To be really delicious lamb needs to cook at a high heat and be on the rarer side.  I personally like a bit of savory flavor to lamb so I made a simple gremolata to stuff it. (I don't get the lamb and mint jelly thing when you can do savory.)

Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb

4 pound boneless leg of lamb
butcher's twine
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup  fresh parsley, minced fine
2 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves ( remove from stem and chop finely)
zest of 2 lemons ( be careful to use just the zest and not the pith) either grated or minced fine
2 tablespoons olive oil
freshly cracked black pepper

Remove the netting from the lamb.  I then rinse mine and I have no idea why.  It's just something I do.  Place the lamb on a cutting board and flatten it out as much as possible.  You want the side where the bone used to be facing up. Remove as much fat, gristle and silver skin as you can.

Stir the minced garlic, parsley, lemon zest and rosemary in a small bowl to mix well.  Add the olive oil salt and pepper to taste. ( I tend to under salt because we are not a salt loving family.  I possibly use 1/4 teaspoon of salt in this and just grind in pepper until it looks and smells good)

Cut about 6 15 inch lengths  and 1 2 foot length of twine.  It is so much easier to have it ready than to start tying the roast while trying to cut it.

Spread the herb mix over the lamb, making sure to fill the former bone hollows.  Roll the lamb like a jelly roll.  I start tying it in the middle and work my way out in about 1 1/2 inch intervals to about 2 inches from the end of the roast.  ( You are supposed to use just one very long piece of twin and make it  look like a pretty package but that is way above my skill level)  Tuck the ends into the center of the lamb roll.  Take the long length and tie it lengthwise down the center of the roast.  Rub olive oil over the outside of the entire roast  and lightly salt.  Bake on a roasting rack in a baking pan.  Cook at 400 degrees until a meat thermometer in the center reads 140 degrees ( about an hour)  Let the meat rest for about 10 minutes, remove the twine and slice.

Even though we had 2 meats for only 8 people, there were only 3 small slices of lamb left.  It was a big hit with everyone.  I might start having this as my go to Easter main dish.  Hope you day was splendid and filled with family!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Cornmeal Biscuits

I seem to be doing something I have never done before.  I inventory the big freezer every week, especially now that I know exactly how much food I have stored in it.  I was once again moving packages around and refining my freezer list when I noticed I had one remaining bag of okra, about 3 large bags of corn on the cob and 5 packs of lady peas. I decided it was time to do some serious attacking regarding the remaining vegetables I had frozen last summer. It was a no brainer to pick the okra for the meal.  Now I can cross okra  off my inventory list completely.  Yeah!!!!!

We grew up in the south and love peas with okra so I grabbed one of the packs of lady peas.  I could have taken out just the 3 ears of corn needed for dinner since I freeze them individually first,  but I decided to go ahead and cook the entire pack.  I have a plan for the leftovers later.  There was a pound of misplaced smoked sausage among the vegetables and rather than putting it in its proper place I took it out for dinner also.

Though I had not intended to have anything else with the meal, I saw a recipe for cornmeal biscuits here at The Iowa Housewife and thought this might be a good time to try them.

Cornmeal Biscuits

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow corn meal*
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup firm butter ( I used 1/2 cup shortening** as the Iowa Housewife suggested)
3/4 cup milk

In a medium bowl mix all the dry ingredients well.  Cut in the butter/shortening until it resembles coarse bread crumbs.  Add the milk and mix until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl.  Turn out to a floured board and knead about 10 times. Roll or pat the dough 1/2 inch thick.  Cut with a floured round cookie cutter.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

This was a mixed bag of nuts.  I loved the flavor but hated the consistency.  I used an organic corn meal and it was too coarse.  While the biscuits themselves were fluffy and tender, bits of the meal were hard and crunchy. It made eating them a little unpleasant  I think if this were made with corn flour rather than meal it would be delicious.  I have a bag of the flour in the freezer and will try them another day.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Week 2 NO Food Shopping Challenge

Day 8
Breakfast: Coffee*, I forgot to have anything else
Lunch:  Leftover Pimento Cheese and Triscuits
Dinner  Stuffing Filled chicken roll ups, Turnip Greens with Garlic, Onions and Peppers, Cooked Carrots

Used: Remaining pimento cheese, 2 packs frozen chicken, leftover chicken broth, remaining stuffing , 1 package frozen turnip greens, 2 cloves garlic, 1 onion, 1 bell pepper

Day 9
Breakfast: Cold Leftover Chicken Roll Up ( I had taken it out of the fridge to take a picture for the recipe posting) Coffee
Lunch: Grapefruit and Crackers
Dinner: Spaghetti, Salad, super quick yeast rolls

Used: 1 grapefruit, 3/4 pack spaghetti, i jar spaghetti sauce, assorted herbs, 3/4 pound of frozen ground something ( unsure if it was ground pork or turkey), 1 onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 head lettuce, 1/2 pack cherry tomatoes ( last of them) 2 scallions.  (Salad fixings are getting scarce) 3 cups flour, 1 egg,  4 1/2 teaspoons yeast (from a big bag of it kept frozen), oil for salad dressing and dinner rolls.

Day 10

Breakfast Leftover Roll:Grapefruit Half
Lunch: Peanut Butter and Crackers
            Son3 Leftover spaghetti noodles mixed with leftover chicken fried rice
Dinner :Pastitsio, tossed salad

Used: 1grapefruit, leftover roll, few crackers and peanut butter, small frozen container chicken fried rice, leftover spaghetti noodles, 1 pan frozen pastitsio, 1/4 head lettuce, 1 small bell pepper, oil and vinegar dressing

Day 11

Breakfast: Coffee, Grapefruit half
Lunch Son3 and me  Leftover Chicken Roll Up
Dinner:  Tossed Salad with Cheese and Crackers

Used: 1/2 Grapefruit ( down to 1 1/2 grapefruits) 1/2 head lettuce ( down to 1/4 head remaining) 1/2 small pepper. last scallion, 1 tomato, 2 inch cube leftover jarlsburg cheese, remaining chicken roll ups, remaining almond crackers.

Day 12
Breakfast: Blueberry Pancakes, Clementine**, Coffee
Lunch: Dandelion Salad, Tea, Triscuit
Dinner:  Hamburger with Lettuce, Tomato, Onion and Cheese on Home Baked Hamburger Buns, Peach Cobbler

Used: Remaining pancake mix, 1 clementine,  1 tomato, 1/2 onion, 2 slices cheddar cheese, 2 lettuce leaves. 1 pack frozen peaches, 2 tablespoons butter

Day 13

Breakfast coffee
Lunch: B-B-Q Turkey Sandwiches on Home Made Buns
Dinner: Chinese takeout

Used: 2 frozen smoked turkey legs. 2 homemade buns

Day 14

Breakfast: Toast, Clementine
Lunch: Leftover Chinese Food/ Leftover Pastitsio
Dinner: Sunday School Class Dinner

Used: 1 clementine, 1 slice bread, leftovers in fridge

* For Christmas 2012 TheHub gave me a Keurig as a present.  I had griped about not wanting one since I have a perfect brewing system.  What a nut I was for complaining .  It is one of the 10 greatest wonders of this world. I am now a K-cup addict, so you might wonder how I am managing my 4-6 K-cup daily habit and not going to the store.  Several months ago I got tired of the waste from the plastic cups.  If I was using 4 cups a day that was 28 K-cups I was contributing to a landfill weekly.  Doing the math for the yearly total is astounding, so I brought some of the copper mesh refillable K-cups.  Several months ago The Pig was selling coffee that had reached it's "sell by " date for 99 cents a pound.  I bought 10 packages and sealed them with the Seal-A-Meal and stuck them in the freezer.  I still have 3 pounds, so my coffee habit can stay intact and my Keurig addiction has not suffered at all.

** I was out of all fresh fruit with the exception of 1 apple and 1 1/2 grapefruits (plus a couple of lemons I use mainly for cooking) .  We are having issues with our water right now.  I refuse to drink yellow water.  TheHub stopped by Publix on his way home yesterday to pick up a few gallons of drinking water.  He saw the clementines and knows how much I love them.  They came home with the water.  I did allow for buying some fresh fruit so technically I am still maintaining the no grocery statute, but I personally would have waited until the remaining fruit was gone and I had used the 2 cans of pineapple in the pantry.  Oh well!

Added Bonus!  Son2 has been at the beach for a few days.  When he came home he brought back 2 tomatoes and an additional bag of clementines. Score!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Weed or Feed? Dandelion Salad

I am going to ask a question of any of you "Stay At Home Moms" who might be reading this.  Exactly how many of you plan and eat whatever sounds delicious for lunch?  How many just look in the fridge, see whatever is left over and eat that?  I fall in the latter camp and I have had many leftovers lately with the exception of salad, and I miss it. Since starting this no food shopping for a month I have been very conscious making just enough salad for our meal with none remaining.  Smart planning? Yes, and it does stretch lettuce and salad fixings but it is also cutting into my lunch options.

Today was a glorious day, so I spent part of it outside puttering in yard.  I noticed my parsley bed was huge and needed to be cut immediately.  While I was harvesting it I spied a gigantic young dandelion plant* in the center of the bed.  Being the hipster that I am (not) I thought a big dandelion might equal lunch, so I brought it in the house to prepare to eat.

I washed it well, then tore it into bite size pieces and plated it. A half of a tomato and about a quarter of a Texas sweet onion in cut large julienne strips went on top of it.  I tried topping it with a drizzle of oil and vinegar with ground pepper and a dash of salt.  After tasting it, I found it too bitter for my liking so I topped it with a little Ken's raspberry walnut vinaigrette dressing.  The sweetness in the dressing offset the bitterness of the greens and created a really nice lunch salad.  After reading about them I understand the closer they are to blooming the more bitter they will become.  This one had not yet bloomed and it was still fairly bitter so I think the blooming ones might be almost inedible.

If you have any dandelions growing in a place untouched by pets or pesticides you might want to try this.  * These were in a raised bed the dog doesn't bother and is not sprayed with chemicals, so I felt safe eating it.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Super Quick Yeast Rolls

Last week I tried making French bread.  We all thought it was delicious and thought I would be baking it weekly, but a funny thing called life happened and I have not always been hanging right around the kitchen to punch down rising dough or start early enough in the day to have it ready for dinner. Yesterday was one of those days.  We were going to have spaghetti and what would have been better than French bread with garlic butter?  The only problem was, I didn't think of making it until noon and just did not have time for 3 bread risings. Punt!

 I found this recipe for quick yeast rolls I had cut from a magazine many years ago.  I have no idea what magazine and am very sorry I can't give them credit for it. They actually called them Quick Yeast Rolls, but I thought they were quicker than just quick, hence...

Super Quick Yeast Rolls

1 1/8 cup lukewarm water
4 1/2 teaspoons yeast ( that is equal to 2 individual packages)
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter*
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg

The recipe had basic bread making directions for mixing by hand  ( mix the first 4 ingredients in a bowl and let rest for 15 minutes.  Add the flour, salt and egg and mix well, turn on a floured board and knead) but I am going to write how I actually made it, because I don't think I should do anything by hand if my Kitchen Aid will do it for me.

Using the paddle, mix at a low speed the water, yeast, melted butter and sugar.  When thoroughly combined turn the mixer off and let the yeast start to grow for about 15 minutes.  Add the flour salt and egg and mix to just combine with the paddle.  When it begins to hold together change to the dough hook and let it knead the dough at a low speed for about 3 minutes.  Let the dough rest for about 5 minutes then form it into 12 balls.  Put them in a greased 9x13 pan. ( My advice is to use a metal pan.  I used a clear pyrex dish and the bottoms were too brown).  Cover with a towel and place in a  warm place for 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Bake the rolls for 10 minutes and enjoy.

This is not as light as a traditional dinner roll, but it is much lighter than a biscuit. The rolls were slightly sweet and very yeasty tasting.  I had one for breakfast and they were just as good a day later. Easy Peasy and delicious.  I am going to experiment using various herbs and spices and cheeses to see what other flavors will work with this dough.

* I used sunflower oil in mine.  Since I am not going to the grocery store until May, I wanted to use something other than butter for baking.  It worked perfectly fine.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cornbread Stuffing Chicken Roll Ups

Tonight I decided at the last minute to use some of the chicken I had thawed.  When I cleaned the pantry yesterday I found a ziploc bag of Pepperidge Farms cornbread Stuffing.  So chicken and stuffing was kind of a natural conclusion except ___I had under a cup of stuffing, about 1/2 cup of chicken broth in the fridge and 2 small packs of chicken breasts.  Hmmmm.  I also knew I had a bag of frozen turnip greens in the freezer and about 5 carrots I had cooked over the weekend.  That would have to be the bones for dinner.

Cornbread Stuffing Chicken Roll Ups

1 cup ( more or less) Pepperidge Farm Cornbread Stuffing
3/4 cup chicken broth (or less plus water to equal about 3/4 cups liquid)
1/2 small onion chopped in small cubes
1 rib celery minced
4 boneless skinned chicken breasts
adobo seasoning

Chicken gravy ( Homemade or from a jar) optional

Put the dry stuffing in a bowl and pour the liquid over it.  Stir lightly and let it sit until the liquid is absorbed.  You should be left with a soft paste like consistency.  Stir in the onion and celery and blend together well.  Take each chicken breast and put it flat on a plate.  With the back of a spoon spread 1/4 of the cornbread mixture over the chicken breast.  Starting at the small end of the breast roll it like a jelly roll.  If you would like stick a plain wooden toothpick in it to hold it together.  I simply put it seam side down in an 8x8 oiled baking pan. Repeat with the other breasts.  Sprinkle with adobo seasoning. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Check for doneness and bake a bit more if needed.  Serve seam side down on a plate.  Top with warm chicken gravy if desired.

Super  Freezer Turnip Greens

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion julienned
1 seeded small bell pepper sliced thinly. ( a red or orange looks best)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 thawed bag of frozen turnip greens
2 tablespoons bacon bit (real bacon not that fake stuff) optional

In a saute pan, heat the oil to hot.  Put the onions in the hot oil and wilt.  After wilted the onions add the pepper strips and continue cooking for about a minute to wilt them also.  Turn the heat to medium and add the garlic, stirring constantly for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and add the frozen spinach and stir well to mix all ingredients.  Put the lid on the pan and let the greens steam for about 4 minutes.  When nice, hot and well wilted remove from heat and serve immediately.  If you have them and would like, top with a smattering of bacon bits.

This was a pretty big hit with everyone here.  I had no gravy and no pan drippings to make any with.  I think it would have sent this over the top but it was dang good without it.  The next time I roast a chicken I am going to deglaze the pan and stick the liquid and chicken bits in a small container in the freezer so I will be able to whip up a small amount of gravy whenever I want to.

I was skeptical of how the turnip greens would be.  I really do hate frozen greens.  I had bought these for New Year's Day but then found gorgeous fresh collards to cook instead.  I cooked these just like I do fresh greens and they were surprisingly delicious.  I am honestly not sure I could tell the difference.  Next fall, when they are in their peak season, I am going to do some serious greens freezing.

Another day of not shopping and eating decent food accomplished!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Week 1 No Food Shopping Challenge

Day 1
Breakfast Grapefruit half        
 Lunch crackers and peanut butter
Dinner Turkish  baked chicken breast, squash casserole,cole slaw

Used: 1 grapefruit, crackers ,1 tablespoon peanut butter,1 pack frozen squash, 1 egg, 2 frozen chicken breasts

Day 2 
Breakfast Blueberry pancakes ( not because I wanted them but because I had a box of blueberry complete mix and it took only water to create breakfast.  Glad I had some sugar free syrup in the fridge. grapefruit half

Lunch Son3  2 grilled chicken breasts,  chocolate milk shake. 
Me, leftover broccoli salad

Dinner Cottage pie, steamed asparagus salad, french bread

Used: 1 serving pancake mix grapefruit, 2 frozen chicken breasts, last serving vanilla ice cream, 3/4 lb ground beef, 4 potatoes 1/2 bag frozen mixed vegetables 1 bunch asparagus.

Day 3
Brunch son3  leftover cottage pie
Lunch p band crackers 
Dinner  (Drats)  Purchased olive oil. (We were at the lake. Thought I had a bottle of olive oil there but didn't.  Would have taken on from home had I realized it was not there)
White BBQ sauced grilled chicken breasts, pasta salad, carrot raisin apple salad  French bread

Used: grapefruit,crackers, 2pks frozen chicken breasts, 2 carrots, 2 apples 1 tablespoon raisins

Day 4
Breakfast Leftover apple carrot raisin salad
Lunch Son2 Son3 leftover grilled chicken, couscous
Lunch me crackers and 1 slice cheese
Dinner pork tenderloin, succotash , leftover couscous, cucumber onion and tomato salad, French bread

Used: 1 box couscous, frozen pork tenderloin, 1 slice cheese, 1 sm pack frozen Lima beans, 1 pint h.c tomatoes, 2 frozen corn on the cob ears, 1 cucumber, 1 tomato, 1/2 onion

Day 5
Breakfast Sausage and Cheese Biscuits, Clementine
Lunch  Chicken Salad and Pimento Cheese Sandwiches on homemade French bread
Dinner Grilled steak, Asparagus, Baked Potato, Tossed Salad Homemade Greek Dressing

Used: 1/4 pound frozen sausage, 1/3 lb cheddar cheese, 1/4 lb Monterey jack cheese, 1 cup Bisquick, 1 clementine, 1 pack frozen cooked shredded chicken, 1 small jar pimento, 2 small packs frozen steaks, 1 bunch asparagus, 1/2 head lettuce, 3 green onions, 1/2 pack cherry tomatoes, 1 small bell pepper, 4 potatoes

Day 6

Breakfast Bacon and eggs
Lunch leftover chicken salad on crackers Son2 and Son3 frozen pizza
Dinner hamburger (purchased at Jack's)

Used: 5 slices bacon, 3 eggs, 4 slices toast, remnants of chicken salad, 1 frozen Pizza

Day 7

Breakfast Blueberry Pancakes, Grapefruit half, Son2 2 slices turkey bacon
Lunch  me Leftover Cottage Pie, Son3 Hamburger on sliced bread ( no buns in the house)
Dinner Sliced potatoes, onions and peppers  with smoked sausage

Used: 1serving pancake mix, 1 grapefruit, 2 rogue slices of turkey bacon (freezer find) 1 frozen hamburger patty ( I buy pounds of ground chuck on sale make individual patties and freeze them on a cookie sheet, then pack into ziplock freezer bags) 2 potatoes, 1 bell pepper, 1 onion 1 pound frozen smoked sausage.

It has been pretty easy to plan meals using what I have here, but a little more difficult to implement them.  It requires planning what I am going to cook in the morning, so whatever we are eating has time to defrost.  I decided I would like a little more flexibility cooking so today I took 4 items out of the big freezer to thaw in the meat section of the refrigerator.  I think by doing it that way I will be able to be a bit more spontaneous with dinner prep.  I never know in the morning what I want to eat at night anyway.

The one thing I will do on a somewhat regular basis is to continue making French bread.  Since it was so easy, all I really need is a day when I will be available to punch the risen dough down a couple of times and a couple of hours for shaping and the final rising.  It really takes only about 15 minutes of hands on work, the rest is simply rising times.
  I cleaned the pantry and the kitchen fridge so I know how much of each thing I have for the rest of the month.  The freezer does not look like even a tiny dent has been made in the food stored there.  I had forgotten how much produce I froze during the summer so I need to be using it a bit more.  Hopefully this week I will use more!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Julia Child's French Bread, Almost

When I started this No Food Shopping challenge, I mentioned having many pounds of butter in the freezer but no bread to use with said butter.  Well, that all changed this afternoon.  I found an old Youtube video of Julia making a very simple recipe she referred to as a French type bread.  I have never lived in France but all the long thin loaves of bread in the bread aisle here are called French bread.  If it is good enough for Publix and The Pig it is good enough for me.

Easy French Bread

Notice this photo is less than half a loaf.  I had to have everyone stop eating it so I could get a quick picture.  Even the dog loved it.

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4  teaspoons salt
1 package instant yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons if using loose yeast.  Sorry Julia but I only had instant yeast)
1 1/2 cups warm water (between 120-130 degrees F.)

I used my Kitchen Aid mixer* because it makes everything so much easier.  Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly with the paddle. ( use a very slow speed)  Slowly add the warm water and mix until the flour is mostly incorporated.  Turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for a couple of minutes.  Swap the paddle for the dough hook and knead for about 3-3 1/2 minutes.  The dough will feel rather elastic, but is not a dry dough at all. Move the dough to a slightly floured board and let it rest another couple of minutes.  Put it into a clean large glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise to about 3 1/2 x's its original size.  ( About 3 hours) On a lightly floured wooden board punch the dough down, put it in a clean bowl, cover and let it rise again.(This time is will rise about 3 times it's original size.  About 1-1 1/2 hours) Remove  to a floured board and divide it into 3 parts.  Fold each part into thirds, let rest a couple of minutes and then pat it down and  shape into desired size.  ( I chose shorter fatter loaves.  See here for explicit directions for making baguettes.)  Put a piece of parchment on a large baking pan.  Sprinkle lightly with corn meal and set the shaped loaves on the pan.  Cover and let rise until the dough is 3 x's its original size.  Make slash marks in each loaf right before putting in the oven.   This is where Julia and I parted ways.  Instead of spritzing the tops of my loaves with water, I brushed them with a tad of oil ( I wanted it a bit softer).  Bake in a 425 degree oven until golden brown.  I think it cooked for about 25 minutes. You are supposed to wait until it is perfectly cool to cut it. (Right!!  We ate it hot with butter.  Yum!

This was incredibly easy to do, but I would recommend starting this very early in the morning.  Since the dough requires 3 risings it takes a bit of time in between steps.  It was so easy that I am starting another recipe of this tomorrow morning.  We are going to the lake for the weekend and I am going to pack the rising dough to take there.  I will bake it tomorrow night .  So worth the little effort it too to make this.

*Very doable without a mixer.  Stir to mix all the ingredients together.  Turn out to a floured board and knead for about 5-7 minutes until the dough is elastic.  Then just follow the remaining steps

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

No Food Shopping Challenge Day 1 Pitfalls

I was sitting here today wondering exactly why I thought it might be a good idea to even think about not going to the grocery store for a month!  First things first!  I decided ( perhaps a day late) to inventory the pantry and freezer just to see what foods are available.  I realized I had NOT thought this through completely from the beginning.  It is very typical of me to launch into something without truly seeing what my options are before beginning.  This morning it hit me, I needed to assess the food here so I could make plans for use.  I don't usually have to think about rationing items.  After all I have 3 large grocery stores within a mile and a half of my home.  Additionally I have a husband who calls me every afternoon on his way home from work to see if he needs to pick anything up. (TheHub has a love affair with Publix)

( Truth here:  I did notice I had only 1 onion before starting this journey so I bought a 3 pound bag yesterday. We were out of eggs and I purchased 2 dozen.  Son3 has been cooking a lot of omelets, so buying them was  an act of sheer kindness on my part. Luckily I also remembered that Easter was upon us so I bought a small ham in advance.  I understand that is kind of cheating, but our extended family usually comes here for Easter lunch.  I will still be at the mercy of whatever is in storage for the remainder of the Easter meal, and thought it would not be fair of me to invite them to a possible Easter Tamale Pie lunch.)

For storage I have a closet pantry, refrigerator/freezer combo in the kitchen, small fridge in the laundry room and an upright freezer.  That is a lot of space where food can hide.  To say I was surprised at what I found and also surprised at what I don't have is an understatement.

I thought I had many packs of broccoli in the freezer. Wrong! There is only one.  Vegetables are going to be challenging this month.  Hopefully some of the lettuce seed I planted will start producing soon.  If not we may have to call rosemary leaves and mint vegetables, cause that is the only thing currently growing.  On the other hand the 9 cans of green beans in the pantry will come in handy.

 I have steaks, roasts, chicken, ground beef and pork tenderloin out the wazoo plus I found a surprise package of bacon. There are a few frozen fish filets also.  Proteins should not be a huge problem but TheHub is already talking about cold cuts for lunch Saturday afternoon and there are none. (Who, besides him, has to worry on Tuesday what they will eat for lunch on Saturday?)

Because of a recent sale at Aldi there are about 7 packages of butter in the freezer, but zero bread products to butter.  Ditto for jelly and jam, as a result of home canning last summer.  I also have an extensive pickle and hot sauce collection.  Nine 8 ounce packages of cheddar, monterey jack and swiss cheese live in the freezer.  Aldi had a $1.49 sale a while back and I stocked up.  No milk! But there were a couple of pouches of instant milk in hiding to reconstitute as needed for cooking.

It turned out to be lucky I inventoried everything.  I was getting hungry this morning and found 6 grapefruit  in the very back of the small refrigerator.  They were completely forgotten and looked a little wonky but were perfectly delicious to eat.  Guess what breakfast will be everyday this week?

This next month is going to take a lot more planning and structure that I thought it was, and this is just day 1!  I may be in over my head plus this is going to be a lot of work.  I guess time will tell if this is a really good or really bad idea. Who knows?