Monday, January 18, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

  • cereal & milk
  • pumpkin choc chip muffins
  • bagels & cream cheese
  • leftovers
  • apples, oranges, bananas
  • yogurt
  • cheese & crackers
  • chili pie
  • sweet 'n' tangy chicken with brown rice & broccoli
  • bacon cheeseburger pasta with green beans & fruit
  • pork chops with buttered noodles, mixed vegetables & fruit
  • breakfast! -- pancakes or waffles with turkey sausage & eggs
  • taco soup -- because we didn't have it last week!!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Waffle Recipes

I've made 2 types of waffles so far and shown you pictures of one. Now, here's the thing. Real Belgian waffles are made where you mix up a yeast batter with separated eggs. Then you whip up the egg whites and fold those into the batter after its risen. That's so too complicated for me. I am an "average cook" after all!

But if you ever go to a fancy hotel and order room service and it includes a Belgian waffle, it should be made with the yeast batter and whipped egg whites. Don't settle for less when someone else is doing the work!

I do have one tip, also mentioned on the post of just pictures. If you intend to cool your waffles to eat at a later time or to freeze for much later on, then cool them on a cooling rack. That will keep them from getting soggy. (Also works well for fried green tomatoes, though I put a towel under those.)

Basic Waffles
  • 2 C flour
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 C milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 T vegetable oil
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Whisk the wet ingredients in a separate bowl and then whisk into the dry ingredients just until blended. Pour 1 cup batter onto the heated waffle grid and cook according to maker's instructions. Mine took 4 minutes each. Simple and easy to double.

Here's a link to the recipe I used for the blueberry waffles. My big alteration to this recipe was the addition of cinnamon, just 1 tsp. Cinnamon and blueberries were meant to be together as often as possible. Try it. It's well worth it!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Potato Soup Cost Breakdown

Cheap, easy and delish. Every cook's dream dinner.

Cost Breakdown:
  • 1 tsp olive oil (4 cents)
  • 1 small onion, chopped (32 cents)
  • 4 slices turkey bacon, chopped (63 cents)
  • 6 potatoes, peeled, diced & rinsed (50 cents)
  • water (basically free)
  • garlic powder, salt, pepper, to taste (10 cents)
  • 1/4 cup half-n-half cream (12 cents; you can use milk if you prefer)
  • 1/8 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (32 cents)
  • 1/4 shredded cheddar cheese (25 cents)
  • 6 slices turkey bacon, chopped (95 cents)
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (25 cents)

Total Cost: $3.48

This made enough for 1 meal for us. Admittedly, I used potatoes of varying sizes. I bought a 10lb. bag about 2 weeks ago and some were going soft. They were stored well, but stuff happens. This was a good way to use up the softies. $1.16 per person and there were no leftovers in my family of 3!

How I Made It:
  1. In a soup pot heat olive oil over med-high heat. Add onion and saute for a couple minutes. Then add bacon. When onions are translucent and soft, add potatoes and add water. I don't even fully cover my potatoes. Lots of ends are sticking out here and there.
  2. Season with garlic powder, pepper and salt. Turn heat to high and allow potatoes to boil for about 8-10 minutes, until soft.
  3. While the potatoes are boiling go ahead and saute the other 6 slices of chopped bacon. When thoroughly heated through and crispy to your liking, set aside.
  4. When potatoes are soft, turn heat to low and, using a potato masher, mash up some of the potatoes. I only mash up about 2/3 of mine and not too much either. I like it chunky.
  5. In a small bowl add the cream and a ladle-ful of the hot soup. Then pour this mixture into soup pot. Do not allow the soup to boil from this point on! Add 1/8 cup Parmesan and 1/4 cup cheddar cheese and blend until melted and mixed through.
  6. Serve hot with extra cheddar cheese and bacon to garnish.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Menu Plan... Tuesday?

I started my new job yesterday! I gotta say that I already love it. I also gotta own up that I'm not used to working! LOL I'm too pooped to party let alone remember to post my menu plan. Anyway, here it is -- and I'm including other meals, too!

  • Blueberry Cinnamon Waffles
  • Cereal
  • Bagels with cream cheese
  • Leftovers (Were you expecting something different?!)
  • Bologna & cheese/ PBJ /cheese & crackers with yogurt, fruit, and/or fruit snacks
  • Pork Roast with potatoes & carrots
  • Pork bbq sandwiches (made from roast leftovers) with potatoes & carrots (also leftovers) and apple slices
  • Potato soup with bacon & cheese
  • Hamburgers with seasoned potato wedges and green beans
  • Taco soup

We are having potatoes a lot this week. I bought a 10lb. bag a couple of weeks ago and they are stored well but still wanting to sprout. Since we already had the pork roast, I need to go through them and separate the firmer ones for wedges from the softer ones for soup. By having both pork bbq sandwiches and hamburgers this week, it ensures we'll use the whole bag of buns.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


No recipes today, but I had a couple great pics of my first ever batch of waffles. I will be sharing waffle recipes later though -- a nice basic one and also one with blueberries.

Yummm. A fresh steamy stack of deliciousness.

My trick for keeping waffles from getting soggy -- a cooling rack. Look at the golden perfection!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Getting Away From Aerosol Cans

I've been doing some reading lately trying to figure out a way to reduce my consumption of cooking spray. In addition to being bad for the environment, I've been having "personal issues" with the cans lately. They keep leaking on me and making a mess when I spray. I've tried cleaning it off, storing it in a different area, but the results are the same. I think I must've grabbed a bad batch since I normally purchase 2 or 3 cans at time when they're on sale. Anyway, I only use cooking spray when baking or making waffles/pancakes. I almost exclusively use extra virgin olive oil for all my skillet cooking unless a recipe specifically calls for something else and it's my first time through. So here's what I considered and what I'm choosing.
  1. Cupcake liners -- Obviously these are for cupcakes or muffins, but I actually don't like them. I often replace the oil in a recipe with applesauce so unless I spray the liners, they will stick to the cake/muffin and the pretty factor is lost once the peeling begins. Of course, I could leave the oil in the recipe and on occasion I do, but I do try to make most of my baking healthy most of the time.
  2. Spray pump -- You can purchase these for around $10, but there are pricier ones. You fill them with the oil of your choice, pump with a air a few times to build up the pressure inside the container, and then spray as you would an aerosol can. This is my second option.
  3. Pan Release -- This is a recipe that combines oil, shortening and flour that you apply with a pastry brush to your pans and it makes releasing baked foods from the pans super easy. I like it because a) it's got *very consistent* high praise reviews; b) I have all the ingredients on hand so there's no extra money out on my part for the time being; c) I have a high heat tolerance silicone pastry brush that needs to be used more often; and d) because I'll have more control over where it goes in the pan, it'll stop me from dealing with the burnt blackened portions of my pans where the cooking spray has landed and gets baked on despite my best attempts to remove it (or just lessen it) with a paper towel. The biggest obvious downside to the pan release recipe is that it will add some marginal calories and fat to my cooking and it will add a couple minutes to my prep time. Seeing as how I eliminate the oil from most recipes, I don't think this will have a huge impact on our health and the time issue doesn't really bug me. What's 2 minutes for something that get rid of so many negatives?
I was excited to find this recipe and couldn't wait to share it with you. The recipe also has an option for making the pan release with cocoa powder instead of flour so that it can be used for chocolate cakes or darker baked goods without leaving any white residue behind.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

When The Schedule Is Off A Bit...

Ever have one of those weeks? *sigh*


The Plan: Turkey & Dumplings

What We Had: Spaghetti with homemade sauce from the freezer

Why?: We had some unexpected (but happy they came by!!) company. I was more interested in spending time with them than worrying about dinner. So after they left to go home and get their own dinner, I realized it was already 6:00 p.m. It was faster to grab some spaghetti sauce from the freezer, thaw it out and heat it up while some noodles boiled on the stove, than to make turkey & dumplings. First time recipes take me longer.


The Plan: Waffles & Oranges

What We Had: Cereal

Why?: I had a migraine. I get pretty frequent migraines, but most are mild and OTC meds work just fine. My dr & I are on the same page about keeping me OFF prescription meds as long as OTC meds continue to work. I also go through periods of time where migraines can be more or less frequent. I suppose I had one coming. I didn't get hardly any in December despite hosting dinner for my husband's entire family. The particular migraine I had last night was not mild. I was in bed before 7:00 p.m. and couldn't walk without excruciating pain. Good news though: I'm starting to feel better!

So, here's to Wednesday! May it be bright and productive even though we are not having Wednesday's meal either. LOL I already have out the stuff from Monday's original dinner and I don't want it to waste, so I'm making turkey & dumplings tonight. I find that a meal plan is a great tool, one of the best you can have in a kitchen, but it helps when it's flexible and contains a few easy meals that can be manipulated to suit the cook's personal needs for the day.