Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Food Storage Challenge

I have given myself a little challenge. For the next few months I am going to prepare one evening meal per week with only food storage items. I’m great at using food storage for breakfast, but I don’t have too many dinner recipes in my repertoire that come only from food storage. And who can eat pancakes and oatmeal everyday? Well, maybe Kirk. But not the rest of our family.

I feel a need to build up the number of recipes that I enjoy making, we like eating, and come mainly from food storage and pantry items. I am asking for your help. If any of you out there reading this have some favorite recipes that you could share, please email or call me with them. PLEASE! My only requirement is that the meal must be something (1) made mainly from food storage items & must be a food that (2) your family likes to eat on a regular basis.

Here is one that I do make often. It came from my great sister-in-law, Molly. I hope you like it!

Black Bean Stew

1 onion (you can use dehydrated onion)

3 cloves garlic

1/8 tsp. red pepper

½ tsp. cumin

½ tsp. thyme

2 cans chicken broth

1 large can green chilies

14 oz. can stewed tomatoes

3 cans black beans (I use my dried beans and cook them the day before)

Sauté onion, garlic, and pepper. Add herbs, broth, beans and simmer for 1 ½ hours. Remove half of the stew and blend until smooth. Return to pan and heat till warm. Serve over rice with lemon, cilantro and sour cream.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Crib for Sale

Do you know of anyone that needs a crib? We have moved beyond it now that Izzy is in a big bed. Here are the details:
Natural Maple hardwood
Good condition
Mattress can be raised or lowered to desired height
Mattress included, but well used
I also have several sets of white and cream crib sheets

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Garden Finale

We had our first frost this week. The tomatoes got hit before I could get the last few green ones picked.

I didn't have too much luck with the garden this year. We just didn't have a very long or warm summer. I had great carrots, swiss chard, lettuce and peas. But everything else was pretty sad.

This was going to be my big tomato year. I planted 6 plants in hopes of having enough to make some great salsa. I may be able to make a batch or two, but definitely not the quantity that I had imagined.

I tried a few different varieties this year. The Matina tomatoes that I plant every year did well, as did the Sun Gold variety. But my Roma, Isis Candy and Supice all looked pretty sad. Maybe next year. Do you have a favorite variety that can grow in a short, cooler season?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lunch Money

I have three girls packing a sack lunch to school everyday. For some reason adding Maren into the morning lunch routine this year got me to thinking.... About Ziploc baggies. I figure I use about 4 Ziplocs per kid, per day (to hold sandwich, fruit, vegetable & chip or treat). That comes to 12 Ziplosc per day or 60 Ziplocs per week (wow!). Average cost is about 5 cents per Ziploc. That adds up to $3 per week - or roughly $108 per school year. That's a lot of money in plastic! Actually, it's not really the money, but stuffing everything into those little bags every morning that got me thinking. Is there a better way? Do I always need a supply of Ziplocs on hand - what if I ran out? Is it wasteful for my kids to throw out so much trash after lunch everyday? I really hate stuffing food into those things every morning! So, I got some inspiration from this cute blog, another lunch, written by a mom who does amazing things with some pretty ordinary lunch items. She gave me this idea... the metal lunch tray from Planet Box. No more Ziplocs. Their cute little metal tray has individual compartments to keep food separated, closes into a nice little package, and is dishwasher safe. Unfortunately, it is a little out of my budget at $35. Maybe some day I'll splurge. In the meantime, I opted for a less expensive option...
This nifty little find from The Container Store was only $10. It also has individual compartments, plus comes with a water bottle that fits perfectly into one of the pockets. The kids come home, clean out the crumbs and stack it on the counter for the next day. It's been a great alternative to the traditional sack lunch.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Kitchen Art

I've been trying to think of ways to keep Izzy occupied while I work in the kitchen. There are many times when she is standing on a chair beside me scrubbing carrots or mixing pancakes. But sometimes I need her busy doing her own thing.
I think I found something when I ran across this free printable...
You can find it at babalisme. Download it. Print it onto Avery Magnet Sheets. Cut it out and VOILA...
Instant entertainment.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hillary’s Pita Pockets

WARNING: If you try this recipe you'll never be able to eat another dry, hard pita pocket from the store again!

Here's the basic recipe and some tricks to make it work. For a more detailed explanation and better pictures check out Cassi's blog.

Pita Pocket Bread

1 3/4 c. warm water

2 1/2 t. yeast

2 t. sugar

2 t. salt

2 T. oil

2 c. whole wheat flour

2 3/4 – 3 c. white flour

Mix water, sugar and yeast together. Let stand for five minutes. Add salt, oil and wheat flour; mix well. Add white flour one cup at a time until dough is soft and slightly sticky. Knead for five minutes. Let dough rest for 30 minutes, well oiled and covered.

Roll dough into eight balls (10-12 for smaller pitas). Roll out into circles on a well floured surface until 1/4 inch thick. Place on a floured cookie sheet without sides. This is important as you will need to slide the pitas into the oven with as little handling as possible. Let rest for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place baking stone or baking sheet in oven to preheat. VERY CAREFULLY transfer bread to oven and bake until lightly browned. This takes about 4 minutes in my oven. Cool and cut pockets in half.


* Do not rest unbaked pitas on top of each other or touching in any way.

* Do not push down on or disturb pitas after the rest period.

* Pitas freezer very well. I often double the recipe and freeze what we don’t eat for another meal.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What's for Dinner?

I am in mourning.

I sunk into a real life, honest-to-goodness depression the other night when I looked in my freezer and realized it was empty of freezer meals. What was I going to do for dinner? It was a busy day and I really didn't have time to plan. I just needed something I could pop into the oven in a hurry.

For the past several years, my friend and I have been exchanging freezer meals on a monthly basis. We would each make up several meals, freeze them in disposable containers and swap them. She recently moved. So now I am on my own, her freezer meals long ago eaten.

I decided I better pick myself up and get to filling my freezer again. I started with Emeril’s Chicken-patty Pockets. A delicious recipe from my Everyday Food magazine.

To make as a freezer meal, simply shape the patties and freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. When they are frozen, transfer them to a freezer Ziploc bag, label with instructions and a date and store in freezer. When you are ready to use, pull them out of the freezer, put them on a cookie sheet and broil as directed. From frozen they only take a minute or two more to cook.
You can purchase pita bread from the store, but it’s about a zillion times better if you make it yourself. I have a great recipe I’ll share later this week. You’ll never go back.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A New Do

Hannah has a 'new do'. Actually, we all have new haircuts thanks to a recent visit to Aunt Verna (who is the best hairdresser ever)! But that is not the point. Hannah's 'new do' is a little more drastic than the rest of ours because she decided to cut 10" off and donate it to Locks of Love - a non-profit organization that provides hair pieces (made from donated hair) for children with long-term medical hair loss.
Hannah loves having long hair and has grown it out for several years. So this was a big deal. She was a little nervous. But there was no turning back after that first cut.

After the 10" was gone, but before the real haircut... a nervous smile. She's not sure she should have done this.

Finished! Thanks Aunt Verna!

There were no regrets after a day of compliments and the sense of self confidence that comes with a new hair cut.

Isn't she cute? They are all pretty cute with new hair cuts.