Thursday, July 31, 2008


My day was jam packed with events. In an effort to start acclimating myself to actually waking up and going to work again, I am trying to get up earlier (than 11, which is my current wake-up time...) Yesterday I set the alarm for 7:45. I got up around 10. There are two ways to look at this situation. You could say I failed, as I got out of bed over two hours after my alarm clock went off, or you can say I was successful because I still woke up an hour earlier than I usually do. If I am trying to start waking up earlier, clearly I achieved that goal.

I had a lunch date with my college roommate and her newborn, and then a dinner date with one of my HS friends. Both outings were fun. As far as the actual food is concerned, lunch was eh, but dinner was excellent. There were only two tables at the restaurant where we ate lunch, and it took a really long time to get anything. We waited for a long time to order, and then to get food. Our food came out at nowhere near the same time. Jen was almost finished with her pizza before my sandwich came out. (She even waited, until I realized that is what she was doing and told her to eat, so be sure to add on the several minutes she waited to the total delivery time.) It is an Italian restaurant and I ordered mac and cheese as a side with my sandwich. It was Kraft Mac 'n Cheese, from a box. We were always out of water. I would be a lot more sympathetic if it were busy, or if it looked as though we came in right after a busy spell, but it wasn't and we didn't. Grr.

For dinner, I went to a Japanese Sushi place. I have gotten really into the If you create an account, which is free, they will periodically send you coupons to get certificates at an even more discounted rate, like $25 certificates for $3.We like it because we save money, but it also forces us to try new places. I had said coupon for the Sushi place, so that is where Grace and I went. I don't like the raw fish aspect of sushi, but I like everything else they have there... It isn't that I am opposed to eating raw fish, as I eat my meat practically raw, but the texture of it weirds me out. I don't like smoked salmon for the same reason. I love salmon, but the texture of smoked salmon, even when I slather it with cream cheese and capers and sandwich it between two sides of bagel, still makes me cringe.

We had some shrimp, and soft shell crab rolls, some dragon rolls, and some Philly rolls, some tempura and some crab cakes. Yum. All for the bargain basement price of $35 after coupon.

For supper for Brad, I used up some freezer supplies. I made pierogies and sausages. The sausages were from a meat market ( we visited when we took our mini trip to Hermann after Christmas. This particular package of sausage was a garlic herb chicken sausage. I defrosted the sausages in the microwave, then put them in a hot skillet. I poured 1/2 cup water into the skillet and covered it. When all of the water evaporated out, I uncovered the skillet, and browned the sausages on each side.

Pierogies...(I am slowly going through not one, but two huge boxes from Costco that I have. I bought one, not realizing I already had one. Oops)

1 large or 2 small onions, sliced like an orange
1 1/2 Tablespoon butter

Bring an appropriate sized saucepan of water to a full boil. Drop desired number of frozen pierogies into the water. Like tortellini, once they are floating on top of the water, they are done. This takes anywhere from 4-8 minutes depending on how many pierogies you are making much surface area you have in your pot.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet. Add onion slices. Saute on medium for about 2 minutes. Add pierogies and saute until browned and crispy on the outside.

This was good, not too difficult, didn't dirty too many dishes, AND used up freezer items.

Tonight I see some sort of salad in our future - nice green salad with veggies and homemade croutons. Yummmm...

Post Boating Meal

Brad and I went boating today with my uncle. On the river. In the 100+ degree heat. On the river. During the hottest part of the day. On the river.

I know Mark Twain had a spiritual relationship with the Mississippi River, but I just don't. I respect the functionality of it and empathize with the romantic notions of the freedom the river allows, but to me it is just geography -- and right now it is debris laden, flooded geography. That's fine, though. I don't have to actually get INTO the river. I got to spend time with my uncle and my fiance, two men of whom I am very fond.

Enter the weather. 99 with a heat index of over 100. Nice blue sky with minimal clouds and bright hot sun beating down.

Needless to say, I was not hungry much when it came time to decide on supper. Normally, this would be a perfect excuse to dine out. The problem, though, is that we ate out ALL DAY the previous day. (Hardee's breakfast sandwiches, Chinese for lunch, Outback for supper) I didn't want to spend the money to have a really good meal, and I certainly didn't want anything fried. We decided to stop at the grocery store and pick up some lettuce and just have a nice salad... minimal effort, cool, light, healthy...

Then Brad offered to grill. This is where we cheated a bit on the challenge. We bought fresh salmon and shrimp. I feel as though this wasn't cheating terribly, though, because we bought it last night and cooked it last night. We didn't ADD anything to the freezer, and if we had dined out, we'd be in the same place (having not used any freezer food...)

We had...
Salmon with dill sauce
Sauteed Shrimp with cocktail sauce
Steamed green beans
Fresh tomato and mozzarella salad
Rice Pilaf

Sadly for me, it started raining right as we were walking in the door, so no grilling. I ended up just cooking the salmon in the oven.

Slammin' Salmon
1 pound piece of salmon
Chesapeake Bay seasoning from Penzey's spices

Preheat oven to 350 F. Sprinkle both sides of salmon with seasoning and pat into fish. Spray a piece of aluminum foil with cooking spray. Place the foil on a baking sheet, and place fish on foil. Loosely fold foil over the top of the fish. Bake about 10 minutes per inch of thickness. (It took about 20 minutes to bake last night's piece).

Dill Sauce
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon dill
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup sour cream.

Mix together. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until needed. It takes about an hour for the flavors to truly meld together.

Sauteed Shrimp
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, chopped

Melt butter in small skillet. Add garlic and cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add shrimp and toss with garlic butter mixture. Saute until shrimp is thoroughly cooked, stirring occasionally.

Cocktail Sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

Mix together. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until needed. It takes about an hour for the flavors to truly meld together. (If you are feeling a little deja vu, you aren't crazy. you have seen this before. I just copied it from up above. They are the same directions as for the dill sauce.)

Fresh Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
2 ripe tomatoes, free of salmonella, sliced
Equal number of slices fresh mozzarella
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil

Slice tomatoes and mozzarella. Place mozzarella slices on top of tomato slices. Mix oil and vinegar, and sprinkle over tomatoes and cheese.

Steamed Green Beans
Fresh Green beans
Pad butter
Salt and pepper

Wash and trim green beans. Place in a Ziploc steamer bag and cook for 90 seconds. Remove from bag and toss with butter and seasonings.

Rice Pilaf
Box of Organic Rice Pilaf from Trader Joes

Follow the package directions.

Dinner was Yummy! The only pantry/freezer item I used was the Trader Joe rice pilaf box.

Brad wanted to look at the ice cream at the store; I told him we couldn't get any because it was a freezer item. "'s ice cream..." he said with a pouty face. Too cute.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Zots and Puppy Chow - Both are Edible!

Last night for dinner... The much awaited Zots!


Yeast Bread, which consists of...
2 Tablespoons yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 stick butter or margarine
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk

1 pound lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 head green cabbage, finely chopped
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 8 oz. bag shredded cheddar cheese

Sprinkle yeast over warm water. Melt margarine in a large bowl. Add milk, salt, sugar and egg. Microwave for about 30 seconds or until the mixture is warm. Add yeast mixture and stir well. Add flour, until mixture is no longer really sticky. Pour mix onto a well floured surface, and knead until the bread is of the right consistency. I'm not sure how exactly to explain this, but you will just have to take my word for it... or if you are actually attempting to follow this recipe, call my mom. She taught me.

Pour 1 tablespoon oil into bowl. Coat bread ball with oil in bowl, cover and place in a warm area for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, put ground beef and onion in a large skillet and saute on medium heat until beef is thoroughly cooked. Drain excess grease. Add cabbage and continue to saute for about 5 minutes, or until cabbage is cooked. Add mushrooms soup and cheese. Mix well.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. flatten each dough ball, like pizza crust, so it is thicker in the middle than on the sides. Put 1/2 cup of mixture in the center of the dough, and wrap the dough around it. Seal tightly. Place on a cookie sheet, seam side down. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until dough is golden brown. Let cool, and enjoy!

The zots only used a can of cream of mushroom soup, but they were tasty, and an old family favorite.

Puppy Chow
9 cups Chex, any flavor
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Melt chocolate chips, peanut butter, butter and vanilla in a large stock pot. Add Chex, and gently mix well. Pour 1/2 of powdered sugar in a paper grocery sack. Pour chocolate concoction into bag. Add the rest of the powdered sugar. Roll the top of the bag over to seal well. Shake to mix. Store in an airtight container or plastic bag.

*This* used Chex (I have two huge boxes, for reasons passing understanding...), and chocolate chips. Yummy!

In other news, Brad and I saw My One and Only at the MUNY tonight, and it ROCKED! I love tap dancing.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The 28 Meal Plan

When I was in college, you could either get the 20 meal plan or the 14 meal plan. The college charged you for the 20 meal plan, and then gave you a $40 credit if you only wanted 14 meals, so almost everyone had the 20 meal plan. However, the cafeteria was only open from 4:30 - 630 pm, and as we all know, college students rarely go to bed early. Usually around midnight, we were all hungry again. In College Town USA it was never difficult to remedy the late night munchies, but we all used to joke that we were on the 28 meal plan, because we ate breakfast, lunch, dinner and what Taco Bell has now copyrighted as "Fourth Meal." Ironically enough, many of our "fourth meals" actually were at Taco Bell.

This summer, I have been on the 28 meal plan, again, and it is never a good plan to revert to the way you were in college...ever. Brad doesn't eat breakfast and works second shift, gets up at 10, leaves for work at 12:30 and eats his first meal around 4:30 or 5. Then, when he gets off work at 10, he is hungry. That would be all fine and good, EXCEPT...

I do eat breakfast. I eat a little something around the time I wake up, an English Muffin or a bowl of cereal. Then, a couple of hours later, I am hungry again, so I eat "lunch," though it is usually at around 3 or 4. I try really hard to wait until 11 when Brad gets home for supper, but I inevitably give into the growling tummy around 8.... and then he comes home hungry.

Today, for what we will call "dinner," I had some of the frozen pot stickers (thus depleting the freezer supplies...)

For "Fourth Meal," I made a delicious pizza.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention Pizza
1 Jiffy pizza crust mix

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 pinch sugar

1 8 oz. pkg. fresh sliced mushrooms
1 4 oz. can sliced black olives
1 small onion, sliced
1 8 oz. pkg mozzarella cheese
1 8 oz. pkg 6 Italian cheese blend

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Make crust per package directions. Lightly butter pizza pan and sprinkle with garlic salt.

Mix all sauce ingredients together and stir well.

Spread sauce on top of pizza crust. Top with onions and black olives. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over toppings. Sprinkle mushrooms on top of cheese and then top entire pizza with Italian cheese blend.

Bake for 18 minutes or until crust is crispy and cheese is golden brown.

From my supplies I used... the Jiffy pizza crust mix, can of tomato sauce and a can of sliced black olives.

It was really good. I ate 3/8 of the pizza. Brad ate the rest. This is a bit sad, because I was going to pack it in his lunch for tomorrow. Now he has to have a ham sandwich.

If I were to make pizza like this again, I would add more garlic, and maybe sprinkle some of the Italian seasoning over the top. It was really good, but it needed a bit more of a kick.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

And This One's For Katie...

The deal I made with myself is that I will catalogue one area of the freezer or pantry and then work on my thesis for an hour and a half...repeat... so here is the baking section of my pantry...

Baking Candies
4 semi sweet baking squares
1 unopened 72 oz. gargantu bag of semi sweet chocolate chips
3 12 oz. bags semisweet chocolate chips
1 bag mini semisweet chocolate chips
2 bags milk chocolate chips
1 bag bittersweet chocolate chips
1 bag butterscotch chips
3 bags peanut butter chips
5 bags white chocolate chips
1 bag white chocolate chips with red and green holiday swirlies
1 bag milk chocolate mint chocolate chips
1 bag Andes creme de menthe chips
1 bag Andes peppermint chips
1/2 bag Heath toffee pieces
1 14 oz. bag peanut M&Ms
1 14 oz. bag Hershey's Kissables Mini Chocolate Kisses
1 11.24 oz. bag Milky Way fun size bars
1 bag Rolos
1/2 bag caramel filled Hersey's Kisses (used when I can't find Rolos)

1 bag mini marshmallows
1 bag marshmallows
1 jar marshmallow fluff

Canned Goods
2 cans tart red cherries, pitted
1 can pumpkin
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 cans evaporated milk

Graham Cracker Crusts
7 Graham Cracker Crusts

20 oz. vanilla extract
4 oz. lemon extract
2 4 oz. jars orange extract
1/2 oz. peppermint extract
1 oz. anise extract
1 oz. rum extract

Jello (3 oz. packages)
3 pkg. cranberry
1 pkg. raspberry
1 pkg. strawberry daiquiri
1 pkg. margarita
1 pkg. pina colada
1 pkg. sugar free orange

Pudding (3.4 oz packages)
3 pkg. chocolate
3 pkg. vanilla
2 pkg. cheesecake
2 pkg. pistachio
1 pkg. chocolate fudge
1 pkg. white fudge
1 pkg. lemon
1 pkg. coconut creme
1 pkg. coconut

Pudding (5.1 oz packages)
2 pkg. vanilla
1 pkg. Oreo
1 pkg. chocolate mint chip
1 pkg. vanilla chocolate chip

Baking Mixes
1 pkg. Cinnabon strudel muffin mix
1 pkg. English apple scone mix
1 pkg. raspberry scone mix
1 pkg. cranberry orange bread mix (from Trader Joe's)
1 pkg. pumpkin bread mix
1 15 oz. pkg. corn bread mix (from TJ's)
1 8.5 oz. pkg. corn muffin mix
2 7 oz. blueberry muffin mixes
1 7 oz. raspberry muffin mix
1 7.75 oz. pkg. cheese garlic biscuit mix
1 40 oz. box Bisquick
1 40 oz. box Jiffy Mix

Pancake Mixes
1 opened box Hungry Jack pancake mix
2 unopened boxes Hungry Jack pancake mix
1 opened box TJ's chocolate chip pancake mix
1 bag apple cinnamon pancake mix

Cookie and Cake Mixes
1 17.5 oz. oatmeal chocolate chip cookie mix
1 unopened gargantuan box of Ghirardelli brownie mix
1 box fudge brownies
1 box TJ's truffle brownie mix
1 box TJ's chocolate orange cake mix
1 white cake mix
1 cinnamon swirl cake mix
1 carrot cake mix
2 red velvet cake mixes
2 golden butter recipe cake mixes
2 lemon cake mixes

2 tubs chocolate
1 tub vanilla

In my own defense, some of this was purchased with a goal. I purchased all of the ingredients for my annual holiday baking frenzy, but simply ran out of time. At least 10 of the bags of baking candies plus the Rolos were intended for that extravaganza. That is it, though. I really have no explanation for anything else. I see myself experimenting with pudding and graham cracker crusts, though.

This One's For You, Sarah...

On Edamame... my 3 year old nephew loves it, so it's gotta be good, right? I've had it several times, usually at sushi restaurants. It is good. I've only had it as an appetizer, though, I've never put it in anything.

I do in fact have the ingredients on hand for my gooey butter cake, and will gladly make it for you. When are you coming over to enjoy it with me? Here is the recipe for your own culinary enjoyment, as well.

Gooey Butter Cake
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Mix cake mix, melted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 2 eggs with a spoon. Pat into a 9 X 13 inch pan.

Mix cream cheese, 2 eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla with an electric mixer. Slowly beat in confectioner's sugar. Pour over cake layer.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Lightly sprinkle powdered sugar over top of cake. Cool.

You can mix it up, too, and use other types of cake mix. I anticipate a Red Velvet Gooey Butter Cake in the future; as it turns out I have 2 Red Velvet cake mixes.

Thursday and Friday

I am a little embarrassed to share with you what we had on Thursday and Friday, but I used lots of pantry and freezer items.

On Thursday, we had...

Adelle's Teriyaki chicken meatballs (from the freezer - precooked- just sauteed in a skillet)
A Teriyaki noodle pouch (from the pantry- followed package directions)
Fresh steamed green beans.

I know I have mentioned this before, but I am loving the Ziploc steamer bags. I cut the recommended cooking time at least in half, because I like my veggies to be crisp and not mushy, but they really do cook quite well, and create no dirty dishes to wash.

Today's menu was even worse. I had a pizza kit. I spread a bit of butter on one side of the crust, and then sprinkled it with garlic salt, and set that side down on the cookie sheet. I topped it with the included sauce packet, followed by some pepperoni and then some 6 Italian Cheese Blend cheese. I baked at 400 F for 5 minutes. It was really good, but each little pizza was like 6 inches, so they weren't very satiating. We ended up snacking afterwards, which is never a good sign immediately following dinner.

Tomorrow I am going to make zots, I think. This will be an exciting culinary experience for all involved. What is a zot, you may ask. Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Dilemma

First, it is important to note that I just had a dandy of a time spelling dilemma. I typed and deleted five times. After the third time, I actually changed the word from dilemma to "problem," but then determined that was a cop-out. I finally had to type it down here so I could spell check it, find the correct spelling and then type it correctly in the title. That friends, is also why kids who grew up in the computer age can't spell. They don't have to memorize how to spell words or use a dictionary on those they forget. The just keep altering the spelling until the computer shows them the accurate spelling. I clearly just demonstrated I am guilty of this, as well. To what is the world coming? (I had to use the inversion there, otherwise my sentence 'what is the world coming to?' would've ended in a preposition, and we can't have bad grammar here.)

So the dilemma...

I have approximately 5 pounds of frozen cranberries and about the same amount of frozen blueberries. I will get a specific and accurate count tomorrow, but as an estimate I have 20 bags of various types of baking candies. The problem? I am out of brown sugar. I only have one bag of flour left in the freezer. Should I be able to purchase more of these staples if I have a specific recipe in mind that will utilize freezer or pantry goods, or should I remain hard fast to the "nothing but fresh foods" rule? On the one hand, I will be able to provide very exciting recipes if I have these specific baking ingredients, but it could be good reading to see what I do without them. I realize only like 5 people read this, including myself, but I have set up a poll, so you can vote yes or no on the left side of the screen. I will go with the majority rule.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The House Guest

We had company today, so I made a delectable meal AND used up supplies.

Warning... There is absolutely nothing healthy about the first recipe. In fact, it probably has more fat and calories than the double Whopper at Burger King, which I've personally never consumed. Sadly, though, I ate this, and man was it good. I actually created this recipe for Father's Day after learning that one of my brother's favorite Italian dishes (spaghetti Carbonara) essentially has raw eggs in it. Ew. Apparently the eggs actually cook because the noodles are so hot, but that isn't as reassuring to me as perhaps it is to others. Anyway, here is what I created.

Carbonara-Esque Pasta
1 pound pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound of bacon, diced
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 8 oz. package cream cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup cream
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or more to taste

Prepare bacon.

In a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta until al dente. Drain well; toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet add butter to 3 tablespoons of the bacon grease. Once butter has melted, add onion and cook over medium heat until translucent. Then, add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Stir in cream cheese until smooth. Add cream, milk, pepper and Parmesan cheese.

Add sauce and bacon pieces to pasta. Toss to coat thoroughly.

We also had sauteed vegetables and garlic bread.

Sauteed Vegetables
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow squash
1 onion, sliced
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
dash of Italian Herb Seasoning

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add vegetables and seasoning. Cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables are cooked throughout.

*One way I've learned to prepare this which allows the squash to cook without turning the other veggies into some sort of overcooked mush is to cover the skillet and turn the stove to low for a few minutes at the beginning. Then, remove the lid and return the heat to medium. This steams the veggies so they are cooked all the way through, but also allows them to brown a bit.

Garlic Bread
1/2 Italian loaf
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Garlic salt to taste

Preheat the oven's broiler. Slice the Italian loaf in half, and then in half horizontally. Butter the cut side of both halfs of the loaf and distribute the cheese evenly. Add Garlic salt to taste.

Place bread on a cookie sheet and place 6-8 inches under broiler. Broil until bread is golden brown and cheese and butter are melted.

and for dessert....

Pineapple Upside Down Cake
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 10 slice can pineapple rings in pineapple juice
1 jar maraschino cherries
1 package yellow cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Melt butter in a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Add brown sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Spread as evenly as possible over the bottom of the baking pan. Place pineapple rings in sugar mixture with two rows of 4 pineapple slices each. Divide remaining 2 pineapple slices in half, and place circle side in above the other two rows. Place a cherry in the circular part of each piece of pineapple.

Pour remaining pineapple juice into a measuring cup. Add water until total pineapple juice mixture equals 1 1/4 cup. Add this, oil and eggs to a medium sized mixing bowl and stir. Add cake mix and stir. Pour batter over pineapples. Bake according to cake mix directions for 13 x 9 inch pan, or until toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes. Turn cake out (up-side-down) onto a cookie sheet.

Brad and our Guest loved the meal, and I used 1 box of pasta (Gemelli) and one yellow cake mix from the pantry, one pound of bacon from the freezer, and finally used up a jar of maraschino cherries I'd had in the fridge since last time I made Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

Success all around.

Miss Saigon

This week, the MUNY is featuring Miss Saigon. I was excited to see the show. Having seen the movie several times, I know the basic plot line and several of the songs. Furthermore, this season of the Muny has been quite excellent, more than making up for the catastrophic production of my personal favorite musical, "The Fantasticks," which lead to my sojourn from the Muny for several seasons. As such, I expected a fabulous performance. I wondered if it would have the "Disney" ending of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical or the more realistic ending, as is the case in the 1999 movie with Jodi Foster.

Either way, I was shocked when the show began with scantly clad Asian girls dancing on poles. Hm, I thought to myself. I don't remember this part. I watched, wondering when the English nanny would come in to educate the children. When would she meet the king? I continued to watch in enjoyment and utter confusion until a fleeting phrase passed through my mind, clearing up the mystery... The King and I. The show I was imagining was The King and I. I was at Miss Saigon. Oh well. Bring on the scantly clad teenagers!

The show was great (it turns out I've never actually seen Miss Saigon), but kind of a downer... Nothing says fun and excitement on a Monday evening like children trading their bodies to members of the US Marine Corps in hopes of being magically transformed from pole dancing prostitots in Saigon to military wives in the glorious land of milk and honey.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mom's Birthday Celebration Dinner

Saturday was mom's birthday celebration dinner. I used very few of my stockpiled ingredients, but the meal was great.

Strawberry and Feta Salad (from, modified)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons raspberry balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil

1 head romaine lettuce, torn
1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

In a bowl, prepare the dressing by whisking together the garlic, honey, Dijon mustard, vinegar, brown sugar, and vegetable oil.

In a large bowl, toss together the toasted almonds, romaine lettuce, strawberries, and feta cheese. Cover with the dressing mixture, and toss to serve.

The main course was beef tenderloin, which my brother expertly prepared. He got the grilling genes. I did not get them. (Sad Face). We also had fresh sugar snap peas, which I heated in a Ziplock steamer bag and then tossed with butter, salt and pepper.

Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Couscous Salad (from Cooking Light cook book, modified)
2 cups diced tomato
3/4 cup diced fresh mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed

1 1/4 cups water
1 cup uncooked couscous

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl; cover and marinate in refrigerator at least 30 minutes.

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually stir in couscous. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fuff with a fork. Cool. Add Couscous to tomato mixture; toss gently.

and for dessert... (duhn dut duh duuuuhhh)

Southern Peach Cobbler (from, modified)
8 fresh peaches - peeled, pitted and sliced into thin wedges
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons cornstarch

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup boiling water

3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

In a large bowl, combine peaches, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Toss to coat evenly, and pour into a 2 quart baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend in butter with your fingertips, or a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in water until just combined.

Remove peaches from oven, and drop spoonfuls of topping over them. Sprinkle entire cobbler with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake until topping is golden, about 30 minutes.

I used up some couscous in the birthday meal. Everything else was fresh. The first week of the challenge is complete. I haven't used many of my supplies, yet, but I have been eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, which was one of the goals of "the challenge."

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Day 4 Success!

Friday's Supper

Beef Burgundy (from, modified)

2 pounds sirloin, cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
16 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 (10.75 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup red wine (nothing too sweet! I used a Cabernet from Australia)

Over medium-high heat, sear beef on all sides. Stir in onion and saute until golden brown. Add mushrooms, butter, mushroom soup and wine. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 2 hours.

I served this over egg noodles (boiled per the package directions), and with fresh green beans that I steamed in one of those new Ziploc steamer bags. I have found that the steamer bags' "suggested cooking time" is about twice as much as needed for the veggies to turn out the way I like them. I added a little butter, and grated salt and pepper. Delicious!

This recipe used a sirloin from the freezer, egg noodles and cream of mushroom soup from the pantry. As far as the challenge goes, it was a success.

Also, for lunch I made myself a box of Betty Crocker instant mashed potatoes (from the pantry), so all in all that aspect of the day was a success.

Other parts of the day, though, not so successful. I finally dragged my lazy rear end into the shower, gathered up my stuff and headed to my friend Sarah's house to work on my thesis. She also lacks motivation to work on HER thesis, so it was destined to be really productive or a colossal waste of time. Despite falling asleep intermittently on her couch, I was able to get a book read, and she got some work done as well. We did have to take a short break, though, when her neighbor backed into my car. Oops. As the result of a crazy series of events, I was driving the Civic, so the dent is in the car that just turned over 100,000 miles, and not in the brand new, still sparkly, smells like new car, I'd cry if anything happened to it - Accord.

I'm off to prepare my mom's birthday supper (and therefore lots of recipes are on their way!)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Day 3 and a Commentary on How Much I Hate Summer

I despise summer. My favorite season? Fall. Second favorite? Winter. Least favorite? Summer. I don't like being hot. I don't like sweating. I don't look good in tank tops, and I HAVE NOTHING TO DO!

My life needs more structure than this.

My friend Sarah and I went out for lunch, so I had salad, about 2/5 of my Fettuccine Alfredo w/ grilled chicken and 3 pieces of garlic bread. I had an English Muffin and some watermelon during the afternoon/evening while waiting for Brad to get home from work. Then, we had pot stickers when he got home. They were the Costco ones, from the frozen section, and were not nearly as good as the Goyozas from Trader Joe. That was it for the freezer reduction. I was going to make some Terriaki meatballs from the freezer with some rice from the pantry, but Brad wasn't in the mood for meatballs. Alas. It is another day and I have to figure out what I am going to myself eat for lunch and dinner. I need a better plan than this.

I need a routine. Grr.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Day 2

Not much to report on the reduction of supplies.

On Wednesday, I used the rest of the rotisserie chicken in my lunch, but that doesn't really count because it wasn't out of the freezer or the pantry. Brad took the leftover stir fry for his lunch.

For supper, I made bacon, french toast and scrambled eggs. It was delicious, but did not use any freezer or pantry items. I guess it used bacon from the freezer, so that is something.

Bacon... cooked in a square skillet on medium. Is there any other way to cook bacon?

French toast
6 pieces of french bread, cut diagonally
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pad butter

Whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla (I use a glass pie plate for this process). Set bread in mixture. Flip bread piece over and let soak for a few minutes. Meanwhile, heat skillet on medium. Add butter. Once melted, add bread pieces. Cook for several minutes on each side until thoroughly cooked and browned to perfection.

Scrambled Eggs
3 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup shredded cheese (today I used Colby Jack)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 pad butter

Heat skillet on medium. Melt butter. Meanwhile, Whisk together eggs and milk. Add salt and pepper. Stir in cheese. Pour into heated, buttered pan. turn eggs periodically with spatula until eggs are cooked throughout.

I just realized that my directions aren't all that helpful if you don't already know how to make what I am describing. Hard to imagine that I actually make a living teaching people how to do things, huh?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day 1

Today is the first official day of "The Challenge..."

For lunch, I made wraps and served it with fresh fruit (watermelon and cantaloupe)

The "recipe"...

Red romaine lettuce
Chopped chicken from a Costco Rotisseried Chicken
Grated Colby Jack Cheese
Ranch Dressing
Spinach and Herb Tortillas

Mix. Wrap. Serve.

The reaction... Yummy! (And filling and healthy... didn't use much Ranch)

For supper, I am making stir fry, or in the words of my aunt Jan, Chicken Slop. Unlike lunch, which did not utilize ANY of my freezer or pantry items, supper utilizes several.

The recipes:

Chicken Slop
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (from freezer) marinated in Sesame Ginger marinade (from pantry)
Bag of stir fry veggies (from freezer)
Fresh mushrooms

I am not sure how I am going to actually prepare these items, so I will update after supper when I post the verdict to the meal.

Brazilian Rice (from - altered)

2 cups long-grain white rice
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups hot water
2 cups vegetable broth

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion in the oil for one minute. Stir in the garlic and cook until the garlic is golden brown.
Add the rice and salt and cook and stir until the rice begins to brown. Pour hot water over rice mixture and stir. Reduce heat to low, cover the saucepan, and allow to simmer until the water has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes.

I have a disturbing amount of rice and chicken broth in the pantry, so this also helps deplete the mammoth supply.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Challenge

Is Jimmy Hoffa hiding back there? You could feed a developing nation... Do the survivalists know about you? You could wait out a nuclear war with the supplies in your pantry.

All of these are comments that have been made about the contents of my dry goods pantry and/or my deep freezer. And they are on target. (As an English teacher, I understand that the previous sentence is not grammatically correct, as it begins with the coordinating conjunction 'and,' which means it would need to be attached to an independent clause in order to function properly in a sentence. However, because I have demonstrated that I know the rule, I can break it for emphasis. And I did.)

The contents of my freezer include but are not limited to... 2 packages of frozen french cut green beans, 1 package frozen peas, several pounds of frozen cranberries, Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches, some precooked chicken terryaki meatballs, cream cheese wontons from the Schwann man, 3 sundae cones from the aforementioned Schwann man, 2 eye of round roasts, 5 New York Strip steaks, at least 10 pork loin "chops" 2 actual pork tenderloins, boneless skinless chicken breasts, bacon, sausage links, a brisket, a whole chicken, pork ribs, a sirloin, some burger, tenderloin tips leftover from an Omaha Steaks purchase my fiance made this past winter, a fresh (but now frozen) Costco Chicken Pot Pie, Several bags of "Open and Saute" Asian cuisine... orange chicken, I think, and perhaps some Beef dish... A tray of muffins from Costco, several frozen pizzas, an enormous box of all beef hot dogs leftover from a National Honor Society function that I am housing until the next National Honor Society function that requires an enormous box of hot dogs...

My dry goods pantry includes but is not limited to... 15 cans of chicken broth, some beef broth, some cream of ... soups, at least 8 different bottles of 30 minute marinade, the required canned goods to make chili, some canned crab, every possible type of Italian or Asian noodle imaginable, every Asian condiment an adventurous Midwestern girl could own... plum sauce, fish sauce, coconut curry, peanut sauce, masala ingredients..., noodle pouches, and noodle pouches, and more noodle pouches, cake mixes of every flavor, an enormous bag of freeze dried exotic mushrooms from Costco, every baking candy known to man... chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips, red and green swirled mint chips, butterscotch chips, mini chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips, Andes mint chips, raspberry chips, cinnamon chips, toffee chips...

So here is the challenge...

I am going to see how long I can feed myself and my fiance without grocery shopping for anything but fresh produce, bakery and dairy items. I will replace fresh fruits and veggies, breads, cheese and milk. I will purchase no meat, no frozen items, no snack foods, no canned or boxed goods... nothing for the pantry or the freezer.

This challenge has three major benefits...

1. I will eat food I've already purchased.
2. My future grocery bills will decline
3. It has to be pretty healthy.

I will post all details... (Recipes, success:flop ratio, mood of the fiance as we are reduced to eating the Costco chicken pot pie in the middle of July because we are sick of pork chops...)

I really like the European/ big city notion of stopping at the market every day to purchase the items you need for that day only. Once I clean out my cache of frozen and pantry items, I can begin doing this with a clear conscience, and the knowledge that there is nothing else in my home to eat, so I have to get the makings for dinner.

I am leaving for vacation in about 3 hours, so the challenge will begin when I arrive home, on Sunday, July 13!