Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Get organized to relieve holiday stress...

Yes... I actually practice what I preach.
We are going away for a week soon, and I have been prepping for the last 5 days for it.
Just made all the lists, did the shopping, and now it's time to assemble the food
I am going to prepare during our stay.
Here is my menu, and how I am prepping...
Chicken Enchiladas & Rice
**
I am making them all ahead of time, cooking them, then we will reheat on site.
To make it easier for when I actually assemble... I've preshredded the cheese, and pre cooked the chicken. Easy Peasy.
I've precooked the rice, and all I have to do is add the seasonings and the frozen corn and it's done! It freezes really well.
***
Salmon Spread
**
Pre cut the green onions, drained the canned salmon.
***
Hot Dogs
(Hebrew National, pricey... but the ONLY ones not made with butts or noses)
**
I chopped all the onions and bought a can of chili to top them with.
***
Corn Chowder
**
Cut all the onions, made the chicken stock, bought the potatoes.
***
Corn Bread Bake
**
Chopped all the onions, peppers, bought the chicken and apple sausage, and the best cornbread mix ever, Trader Joes brand.
***
Tuna Salad
**
Chopped all the onion
(see a pattern here??? I did all the onions ALL AT ONCE. saved me a lot of time.)
Chopped the sweet pickle
Mixed the mayo with Dill mix, grainy mustard, and salt and pepper so it is flavorful.
***
When I actually begin to do the cooking and assembling... all I will have to do is grab the items out of the fridge, and do it. It won't take me hours and hours, just maybe about 1-2 hours,
and I will have 7 days worth of meals, for pennies on the dollar.
These are just the main meals, and we will have fruit, lunch meats, salads etc...
to round out the meals.
It sounds like a lot of work... but when it is done over days and spread out into manageable parts, you hardly feel it!
The last thing I want to do is do all kinds of cooking and slaving over a stove just before leaving for a holiday... that's too much torture.
Breaking it down into bite size pieces is much more fun, and it doesn't feel so overwhelming.
More tomorrow!
Going to go back to the archives and get some of the basics for ya... stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Get ready... get set... DON'T STRESS!

Christmas is almost upon us.
Are you overwhelmed by all you have to do?
Are you wondering how you are going to get it all done?
Are you stressed about how you are going to be able to afford to buy the food and
specialty items you want and need?
***
Please don't worry about such things... and let me help you.
But first... remember this...
No one ever died because the table wasn't just so, or someone forgot to make a certain dish.
Breathe.
It's gonna be okay...
***
Oh! Just had an earthquake! A little one... but I felt it... Oh.. there are the kids yelling to let me know we had one...
***
Okay where was I...
Oh yes...
let me help you.
***
Are you the baker?
Get those pie doughs made and FREEZE THEM NOW! Yes, they are freezable,
and turn out lovely!
***
Are you responsible for side dishes?
Stock up on frozen veggies and create your own medley when the time comes to cook!
I microwave my frozen veggies in my Rice Cooker Plus for about 8 minutes
Drain the water that accumlates, and add a little butter and my favorite
Seasoning... All Purpose Dill Mix. Yum! and SO EASY AND QUICK!
***
Need to bring or make something sweet?
here is the Pampered Chefs Recipe for
2 step Fudge.
Ready?
**
1 can chocolate frosting
1 12 oz. bag chocolate chips.
Melt the chips on low heat in a non stick pan... take off the heat when they are all melted.
Stir in the frosting...
I SWEAR YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO TELL YOU DIDN'T SLAVE OVER THE THAT FUDGE! I PROMISE!
Love nuts in your fudge?
Stir them in with the frosting!
Spread it all out on a baking sheet or casserole pan (8x8)
Put it in the fridge to set and cut the pieces in the size and shape you want.
***
You can make peanut butter flavored fudge by stirring and melting 1/2 cup peanut butter
into the chocolate chips!
Try different flavors and colors!
White chocolate chips and white frosting!
Pink Frosting and White Chips
or swirl them!
TOO EASY AND DELICIOUS!!!
***
I know.. I know.. you love me...
Send money. No coins please.
Applause is good too...

Monday, December 08, 2008

PREP 101 AGAIN....

So many people feel the crunch of the Holidays... and get a case of the Have to's and Need to's.
You know... the
Have to... shop, wrap, visit, shop some more, cook an 8 course meal, clean, blog, knit, sew,
and on and on and on...
And all the Need to's ... I need to lose weight, cut my hair, do all the laundry, clean out the cupboards, iron all my clothes, etc...
CHILLAX!
The only NEED TO'S AND HAVE TO'S ARE THESE...
***
Love our family...
Be kind to yourself and others...
Do what you can/want to do, and don't stress the rest!
***
Dinner is NO EXCEPTION!
LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of people hate to cook.
I get told this by at least 2 people at every single show.
They, inevitably, buy the most products.
Every time.
Here's what I believe...
A lot of the hatred of cooking is really the stress and worry of not knowing what to cook and not having the ingredients at the ready.
Really, it's all the steps leading up the to the actual cooking that people don't like.
Cooking is the easy, less time consuming step.
Well... if you have been reading this blog for some time, and you haven't taken my advice and haven't been trying to look at cooking from my perspective... well then... I don't know what to tell ya. Hop on board.
Prep is the way to Kitchen Nirvana.
I promise.
Meal planning is great.
It's a great first step.
You MUST go one step further though... to really get in the swing of things.
You must PREPare yourself ahead of time.
Let's face it... you wouldn't go for a drive without your car... would you?
Or go shopping without your wallet?
or play baseball without a bat? would you?
No... of course not!
So why enter your kitchen every night and start from scratch every. single. time?
Why do that to yourself!
Right now...
Go get an onion.
Go on... I'll wait...
Tick tock... tick tock, tick tock... tick tock...
Okay... now get a knife. Hurry!
Chop it up or slice it now. Now! Go on!
Put those bits into a zip lock bag and put it in the fridge. Go ahead... it won't hurt.
DONE!
Now... got grab some frozen chicken or ground beef from the freezer.
Defrost it and cook it up, and place THAT into a zip lock bag.
Now... how long did that take you?
You are now free to cure cancer and promote world peace.
See what I mean?
It does NOT TAKE UP YOUR WHOLE DAY to prep food for another day or 6.
The first time is ALWAYS the hardest. ALWAYS!
You have just prepped the beginnings of either
Tacos
Chilimac
Sloppy Joes
Meat Sauce
See what I mean? Once you PREPare yourself, the possibilities are ENDLESS!
No go on...
Get your prep on... and report back here and tell me what you chopped, sliced, diced or precooked.
I'll post my menu in a bit.
Letti, this one was for you.
I know you hate to cook... but girl... you need to make it easy on yourself.
You live 2 doors down from me.
Get your butt over here and watch what I do... and do it at home.
I don't enjoy cooking either... believe me.
I just like buying the tools and selling the stuff.
I'm waiting...come on now...
USE ME!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Stock up on Frozen Goodness

Make mealtimes quick and easy...
I shop at Smart N Final or Costco for almost all my groceries.
I stock up on
frozen corn
peas
strawberries
blueberries
and
chinese type veggies.
That way... in a pinch, I can add... oh I don't know... say...
Frozen strawberries to my blender with a little fruit juice and make my own
"syrup" for pancakes. It only takes a second and it TASTES FABULOUS over pancakes or a white BOX cakes mix, instead of frosting.
The frozen veggies can be plopped into a microwave safe bowl, and nuked for a few minutes.
Add a pat of butter and a little salt... and viola! Veggies side dish!
***
I love the Pacific Sea boxed soups from Smart N Final, but they are boring for the kids...
so while it's cooking, I throw in some frozen veggies and it bulks the soup up.
Add some crusty bread and a beautiful salad... and Yummy Yum Yum!
Easy supper!
***
With all the running around, shopping, kid parties, soccer tournaments, practices, school functions etc...
Dinner needs to be quick, easy and delicious!
Frozen FRESH foods...
They are a Great Thing!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Stock up lists for Christmas

Man... I have really got to get on the ball here, and get to posting on this more often.
Things are crazy!
***
I'm cookin' just not posting!
Allow me to rectify the situation...
***
Prep for Christmas...
Start buying now and freeze if you are not Italian...
Cranberries
Turkey
Frozen Veggies
Pie Crusts (if you don't bake)
Make your own crusts and freeze it too.
Butter
***
Non frozen goodies include...
Stuffing mix
Celery
Powdered Sugar
Flour
Sugar
Food coloring
Sprinkles
Cookie Cutters
Canned or homemade frosting
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you are Italiana and do the Feast of Seven Fishes...
Stock up on these now and buy a little each week because it can get really expensive...
Shrimp
Baccala
Mussels
Clams
Swordfish
Crab
Lobster
Nutella
Panettone
Reggiano Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano Cheese
Good Olive Oil
Sun Dried Tomatoes
Crush Tomatoes (no seasoning)
Eggplant
Carne
***
Last minute
Buy your bread or make your bread fresh no more than one day before the feast.
More later!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Prep for Thanksgiving meal

Thanksgiving is upon us!
Are you cookin' for 25 or are you keeping it simple with under 10!
No worries either way!
TODAY IS THE DAY TO PREP FOR THURSDAY!
***
Yeah... I know... I harp on prep ALL THE TIME! But do you see where that simple habit could have gone far by now? uh huh?
Today you can...
1. Chop your onions and celery for stuffing.
2. Get that frozen turkey in the fridge to defrost slowly.
3. Make that homemade cranberrie sauce, and get it in the fridge...
SOOOO EASY!
1 CUP WATER
1 CUP SUGAR
1 BAG CRANBERRIES
BRING TO BOIL, COOK FOR 10 MINUTES...LET SET A COUPLE OF HOURS, THEN REFRIGERATE!
4. Make your dough for bread and put it in the fridge!
5. Wash, clean and store your veggies and just cook them the day of!
See?
Simple!
All you'll need to do on Thursday is make a salad, buy a pie or two ( I would... I don't bake)
and mash some potatoes!
It's the little things that turn into huge jobs if left till the last minute...
Enjoy our holiday...
grab a glass of wine... and sip and cook for your family with ease!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More prep steps

Oy!
It's been a while...I know!
I have been cooking and taking pictures galore...but the upload isn' working.
***
Are you doing you prep?
Are you spending 5-10 minutes each night getting ready for the next day's meals?
Even if you pre cut an onion... you'll be pleasantly surprised how much time that saves you tomorrow.
***
I have been setting out the breakfast dishes and utensils the night before, to cut down on the morning rush. We have to take the freeway to school each morning... and it is becoming increasingly more jammed each day... so saving a few minutes of bowl and spoon getting really saves precious minutes the next morning.
If you can stand it... set the table for dinner in the morning either before you get ready for work, or just before you leave for the day.
I swear, you will thank me!
One more thing you won't have to worry about doing just to get dinner on the table.
Hope this helps!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Breakfast for Lunch

Todays lunch... French Toast. I always get these backwards. The men wanted pancakes this morning, and I just didn't want to spend the time, so I had a leftover, going stale, loaf of homemade bread just sitting there looking pitiful and ready for the breadcrumb heaven it was destined for, and made a lovely french toast instead. I paired it with fresh mangoes and juice, and OF COURSE! I forgot to get a picture of the finished product... and they inhaled them so fast, the plate was empty before I remembered. Tonight is chicken with my Apricot/Pineapple glaze.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fake out Enchiladas

Made "enchiladas" last night, with some unorthodox ingredients.
Crud... I did this backwards.
After this layer, the cheese went on.
chicken and apple sausage, onion, peppers and taco seasoning whole wheat tortilla, beans on the first layer and a sour cream and green sauce mixture on top

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Broccoli Salad Simple

I know, it LOOKS like just a plain ole' bowl of broccoli...
But NNNOOOOO it's not!
It is so much more, and so tasty, my kids and I fight over it!
Saundra's Broccoli Salad
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
8 quarts of water
2 tbs salt
1/2 huge bag of fresh broccoli florets
or 2 big heads cut into smaller florets.
Olive Oil
Lemon Juice
Salt
Pepper
***
Boil the water with the salt. When it is boiling, throw in the broccoli.
Cook for only 2-3 minutes.
Take them out and plunge them into a large bowl of water filled with ice cubes.
(So they stop cooking instantly)
Drain and dry well.
Dress with olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste...
and ENJOY!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I made Homemade Veggie Stock!

Sunday Prep has just gotten even more money saving!
Last week I made my famous (to my family) 2 bean veggie soup.
It's hot, spicy, topped with cheddar cheese, crushed tortilla chips, cilantro... mmm.mmm good.!
But to make it, I needed chicken stock. Lots of it!
So, like any other wifey poo, I send Bill to the store to get some.
Those cans were so expensive!
4 Flavored cans of water for $12!
Yikes!
Just for soup?
Yeah. I had to say yes, because I had everything else ready to dump into it.
That was one expensive soup that night, with all the veggies, beans and all.
***
So today... I was making my regular prep ahead things... the salmon spread, dough, slicing onions, chopping celery, julienning roasted red peppers etc...
when I had a light bulb moment.
I'll make my own stock.
How hard can it be!
Water and bunches of herbs and veggies and that's it! Right? Right.
So I did, and here's what I got.

It maybe cost me $5 for this entire 24 cups of veggie stock!

It'll last me 2 full weeks!

Here's what I put into it...

***

6 quarts of water

3 cut up carrots

Leafy ends of celery stalk

Handful of parsley (from my garden)

Handful of Rosemary (garden)

Handful of Lemon Thyme (garden)

Oregano (garden)

onion chives (garden)

5 huge garlic cloves cut into two halves

20 whole peppercorns

4 dried tomatoes

4 bay leaves

1 cut up onion

broccoli florets

cut up green peppers (garden)

Bring to boil, then simmer for 2 hours until the veggies have given all they can.

If you want to make your own stock, and live close by, come to my herb garden and pick till your hearts content.

Otherwise, instead of buying them from the store, use dried herbs the last 10 minutes of cooking the stock.

Strain well, discard the veggies, cool the stock and refrigerate until you need some!

I have never made stock before. I love it! It tastes awesome, not salty or oily like the store bought brands, and it made a ton!

I'll be making rice, soup, lots of other things with it!

Try it! It makes the house smell divine!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Our Pizza Parade Night!

Getting ready to put the toppings on...

This is the cream cheese/powdered sugar one, with Apple pie filling on it.

Ready to bake, and afterward, drizzled with powdered sugar icing.

My favorite "sauce" Olive oil and Garlic.

Johnny is very proud of the Pizza Parade!

With toppings on, waiting for their date with a 500 degree oven and a super hot stone.

The green and red one was done just like that. With Sundried Tomato Paste I made by rehydrating sundried tomatoes in water, and whizzing them in my mini food processor with a drizzle of olive oil.

Make your own Pizza night!

Boule dough rolled out for pizza

I like "white" pizza's, (no sauce) this is pesto... mmmmmm

Everyone made their own pizza last night. I just got all the dough ready.

This pizza was the dessert pizza. Same dough, spread with light cream cheese and powdered sugar mixture, and topped with apple pie filling, then baked.

Johnny did this all by himself. Looks good huh?

Now it just needs toppings.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pictures of meals.

My version of Pasta and Alfredo
My kids LOVE this.
It's the Mockfredo recipe in my archives.

I always forget to take pictures of the food I prepare.

A LAVASH I unwrapped to show the ingredients. It wrapped up like a burrito and looks much nicer when wrapped. Ingredients include, turkey breast, roasted red peppers, spicy hot honey mustard, romaine lettuce, pepperoncini's, campari tomatoes, salt and pepper.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Cream Cheese Mix ins

Have you ever run out of cereal at your house?
Is your house is like mine... when that happens, it's like the entire world has come to a screeching halt!
I'm tired of buying cereal. I wanted to shake things up a bit and get a little creative with breakfast for my men.
No... nothing extravagant... just maybe some pre made on Sunday night pancakes one day,
or an super easy scone recipe I have.
Lately it's been my Cinnamon Raisin Bread that gets 'em out of bed in the morning.
I don't mind being creative... I just don't want to have to get out of bed to make stuff for them all the time.
So that's where prep comes in really handy.
Absolutely everything that can be done ahead...is. Then it isn't a drudgery to make.
So... this weeks homework is...
***
MAKING FLAVORED CREAM CHEESES FOR TOAST, RAISIN BREAD OR BAGELS.
Well, of course I know you can buy a tub of flavored bliss in the stores... but those containers are expensive and my kids would go through one a day! They cost almost 4 bucks a pop!
No thank you... I'll just do it myself.
***
So... might I suggest you purchase a large block of cream cheese from either Costco or Smart n Final. WWWAAAAYYY cheaper than the little 8 oz. things. It's either 2 bucks for 8 oz, or you can spend 6 bucks for 48 oz.
Let it sit out for about 20 minutes to take the chill off, and cut 4 oz blocks for each flavor.
I like to use my PC Prep Bowl Set for storing the mixed cheese.
Then just mix away.
***
Brown sugar and cinnamon
Fresh strawberry preserves
Blueberry preserves
Onion and Chives
Fresh Chopped Veggies and Dill
THE SKY IS THE LIMIT!
***
My favorite mix in? Sweet/Hot Chili Sauce from Trader Joes!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Sunday Lunch

I wrapped Hebrew National Hot Dogs with a thin layer of my Boule Dough and made my own Hot Dog Buns! Yum! This was yesterdays lunch after cleaning and winterizing the back yard.

Then I got a little bit creative. I had an apple, and some fresh Mozzarella Cheese.

I sliced the apple really thinly, and layered cheese and apple in a thin piece of rolled out Boule Dough, (enhanced with whole wheat flour and Flax Seed Meal)

Sound gross? No way, this is pretty popular in France. I had something like it when I was in Paris, many years ago.

I sliced up a little piece for each of us to try. It tasted okay. Next time, a sharper cheese, like a sharp Provolone, or a Chevre (goat) cheese or Feta will be better.

My men all still asked for more, so it wasn't THAT bad.

I guess I should have posted this on my Bread Blog.

We included celery sticks, carrot sticks and cucumber slices as a side dish.

Every plate was empty when it was all said and done.

Friday, October 03, 2008

10 MINUTE PREP... 101

I know most of you ladies and gents work full time, everyday... and to me,
that makes your life ten times as stressful as mine.
YOU have TWO full time JOBS!
Parent AND worthy employee!
I have also personally heard from many of you that you would love to do some sort of prep
to ease the burden of getting a meal on the table.
***
I might have solution for you. Why not break up prep time into 10 minutes spurts every morning or evening?
For example... Sunday evening, jot down a rough list of "Dinners for the week", just some things you know you have food on hand for, that won't require a long shopping trip for multiple things.
Then, set a timer for 10 minutes and do something that will prepare you for the next meal. Don't stop prepping until the timer beeps. Then... PUT DOWN YOUR UTENSILS, and put things away, and WALK AWAY FROM THE KITCHEN!
Do the same thing the next evening.
You are already in the kitchen making dinner anyway, so use 10 minutes to do something for the next day. Chop an onion, peel potatoes, defrost something, pre cook something, set the table, gather all ingredients and put them within reach for the next day, make the Sangria, Make the iced tea,
just DO SOMETHING TO EASE THE TIME CRUNCH THE NEXT DAY! in only 10 minute spurts!
I hope this helps you!
I have been doing this with breakfast for my men.
I set out the bowls, spoons, cereal, toaster, oatmeal, pre mix eggs, pre chop veggies or prep all ingredients for scones, and have the wet ingredients in fridge, and all I have to do is mix the dry and wet and bake them off in the morning.
OH! and NO! They do not eat all that stuff every morning. They usually have one from that list, but I prep what they want the night before, or I have them do it.
TRY IT... YOU MIGHT LIKE IT!
LOVE TO ALL YOU MAMA'S THAT WORK SO HARD!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Corn Chowda

This week is soup week. I don't care if it is still 100 degrees outside.
I WANT SOUP!
It's Autumn! It is supposed to be a little cooler! But NO!
Johnny went swimming today!
***
My favorite "go to" soup is my Corn Chowder.
I make a HUGE vat of it. It is great the next day cold, or hot off the stove.
Sometimes I keep it simple and sometimes I add Chicken N Apple sausage, or baby shrimp, or asparagus to the soup.
***
Here it is...
Corn Chowda
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
8 red potatoes or 5 russet potatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
3 cups frozen corn
1 Large onion, chopped
1/2 cup chicken stock
***
Cook potatoes and corn with stock until onions are translucent and potatoes are tender.
add 1 tsp salt.
***
Add 8 cups Chicken stock to the pot and heat through.
Then mix 1 cup milk and 2 Tbs flour to a cup and stir until it is a slurry.
Add to the pot.
Add another cup of milk or cream.
Continue cooking until it starts to thicken a little.
Get a hand held blender and start pulverizing the soup into a thick creamy yellow soup.
You can keep some chunky, or all of it chunky and not blend it at all.
Add a pat of butter to it at the very end, and sprinkle some Dill Mix over the top
Stir and serve hot or cold the next day.
So yummy.
***
You can add hot dogs, sausage, shrimp, veggies, lobster, crab, clams.... whatever you like!
I love it sprinkled with fresh green scallions or chives.
Buon Appetito!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

William's Favorite Salad~~ Carrot Raisin

Start with crunchy, bright, beautiful orange carrots.
Peel them and...

Cut them into manageable pieces so they fit into the barrel of a food processor

and...

Shred like nobody's business...

Add raisins and touch of mayo and store.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Shiny happy chef!~

I realized something the other day, after reading a comment on this blog.
First I had to stop laughing!
I, apparently, gave the impression that every night in my kitchen is filled with
blissful inspiration, laughing and dancing around to the delightful smells and sounds of gourmet food cooking in a timely, orderly fashion, with smiles and witty quips galore!
Thanks Adrian!
That was really, really funny!
Then I read some past posts and... OMG... SHE WAS RIGHT!
It did kinda sound like that!
I would like to officially dispel the rumor.
I don't actually enjoy cooking all that much.
Don't get me wrong... I like it okay, but my passion lies in the teaching of cooking, and not so much with the having to come up with a dinner every night.
My passion lies in the needing to give my family the very best I can in their meals, without breaking our budget, and while making sure the meals are healthy and preservative free.
Having to figure it all out ahead of time is a real drag, which is precisely why I had to come up with a way for me to continue my quest. I had to come up with the Prep Day, or I would be in a looney bin by now!
All the chopping, mincing, slicing, dicing, shopping and such gets me down... so doing it all at once free's up my mind for the week.
***
It was so funny thinking about Adrians comment. It made me literally imagine us all laughing, floating from task to task blissfully, smiling all the while.
It would be so nice if it were that way!
I'm just a Mama, trying to save a lot of money, feeding my hungry brood, trying to teach them manners, help their palates become international, and teach them to cook for themselves, and do it well. There's nothing sexier than a man that can cook!
So there you have it.
I cook because if I don't someone else will, and I just won't have that.
I am a control freak...hear me roar!
Love ya Adrian!
I so appreciate the eye opener!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Eat in

I heard, on a talk show today... someone said...
"Cooking for your family is a tough job. Mom's are responsible for what the family eats, and it's tough to make it all matter."
Or something to that effect.
I AGREE!
I take it as a an important aspect as my job as Mother.
My families health and well being begins and ends with me.
If I were a lazy woman, my kids would be eating take out every night.
I don't always enjoy cooking. Sometimes it is a downright drudgery.
Sometimes I hate it.
But I do it.
Why?
Because if I don't, someone else will, and I know what goes into the food I prepare.
How do we know if the guy making the burgers at the burger joint just picked his nose, or sneezed? I know... gross, but oh so true!
When I was taking a food handling course, we were shown a film of actual workers in a busy restaurant setting being filmed by hidden camera.
Cured me from eating out for a lllooonnnnng time. Don't be fooled by an "A" grade on restaurant window.
***
It's time we sat around a table together and ate as families again.
It's time we see the value of breaking bread together.
I had a friend once who invited me over for dinner, just a few years ago.
She ordered in, which was fine, but I was so surprised to see that she made her three childrens plates, and they got them, and carried them into their rooms or family room and ate the meal on their laps.
I assured her they didn't have to leave the table just because I was there, and she said
"No, are you kidding? We eat dinner like this every single night! We can't do the Leave it to Beaver way like you do at your house. My kids like eating while playing video games."
I wanted to cry. Not because she offended me, nope, I'm proud of the way we eat around our table every night, together, TV off, and nothing but our conversation as noise.
I wanted to cry because she was missing a huge opportunity to get to know her family, to connect with them, to learn about their days.
Their memories of mealtime would be reduced to which video game they remember playing while they ate pot roast.
***
Mom's job is hard.
Let's face it. Most Dad's just aren't going to cook every night, so it is our cross to bear.
Learn to delight in it.
Get excited about the amount of money you can save, get glad that your family still lives at home and wants to be there!
Get excited about finding some produce at a great price and make the most of it for that nights meal!
Try a new recipe and give the naming rights to the first one to try it without whining, so if little Edgar tries it and names it
Edgar's gross, squishy, Barbie Cake, then that's it's name in the recipe file!
Even if the recipe has fish and it's not cake!
Eat with your family this week!
The stock market sucks,
Everyone wants us to be scrambling for our lives and yelling doomsday...
but as long as we have our families...
WE ARE RICH!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fillable cake pans

I own these pans. They are such fun!
I haven't done many desserts in them, but I have done chili in cornbread, and Corn chowder.
They also make wonderful ice molds. You can hang shrimp over the edge, make a mold out of Jello...
I bought them online.
They are a hassle to clean, but a small brush does the trick.
Something different!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Easy Sausage Dinner

Yummy quick meal.
Cut up any and all veggies you have,
slice up some Aidells sausage
sprinkle with Olive Oil, salt, your fave seasoning and toss it all together.
Roast veggies in oven at 400 for 20 minutes, then add sausage on top for last 10-15 minutes.
Make a side salad and cut some bread and you are in business!
I used 2 HUGE onions, baby carrots, broccoli florets and baby red, yellow and green peppers.
I do veggies like this about twice a week in the fall and winter.
Enjoy!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Lock n Lock

I've had a lot of hits recently on my blog about Lock n Lock containers.
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THEM!
They are excellent value, and so darn sturdy!
***
I own so many pieces, I am starting to give them away as gifts with food in them.
I order them exclusively from QVC because they sell them in sets that you can't get anywhere else. I just recently bought a set that will not be sold mass market for 1 full year, and my delivered today. I got the new Stack n Go containers for my lunch making extravaganza's every night. It will make it much more streamlined for myself.
***
Soo, if you are thinking about food storage containers... think Lock N Lock. Those imitations are not the same. I've tried them. Lock N Lock's do not come apart unless you open them, and I am hard on them.
They are perfect for camping, storing, everything.
Ants and other weebles can't penetrate them, and neither can rodents.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Saundra's Risorta!

Okay, so yeah, I'm sorta starting a trend in my house where all the food is Mock this, or Mock that. I have only one reason why...
I HATE GROCERY SHOPPING!
So...I use what I have in my house to make what I want for dinner, no matter if I have the right ingredients or not.
So... I really wanted to make Risotto one night. We hadn't had it in a really long time... and it sounded good.
I didn't have have Orzo. Ya kinda need Orzo Pasta to make Risotto... or so I thought!
I ALWAYS have brown rice around, either cooked or dry... so I decided to try it, and give it an American twist.
It was sooo yummy!
The kids LOVED IT!
Now, I can't truly call it a Risotto, so I will call it a Risorta. Get it? Risotto sorta? Risorta?
Oh whatever!
So here's the recipe for Risorta Saundra Style.
1 recipe of Bechamel Sauce (that's fancy words for white sauce)
{{{5 tbs butter, 1/2 cup flour, 4 cups milk = melt butter, add flour and cook it down for 2 minutes stirring constantly, add milk slowly while whisking, stir until thickened and bubbly... that's Bechamel!}}}
To the thickened Bechamel Sauce add
3 cups cooked Brown Rice
1&1/2 cups cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shrimp (or not if you don't like 'em)
1 cup chopped broccoli
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Stir until all thickened a bubbly and hot.
That's it! Serve with green salad!
***
You can add anything you like... mushrooms, peas, chicken, Parmigiano cheese, gruyere cheese,
Salmon, the sky is the limit!

Monday, September 01, 2008

School? I'm READY!

I went ahead and did Prep yesterday, even though tonight is technically my "Sunday Night".
I have to say, I feel almost prepared for the onslaught of lunches I have to make again.
My main goal with school lunches is to make them UNTRADEABLE.
SO awesome, they wouldn't THINK of trading their lunch!
Mine swear they have never done that, and so do the lunch attendants at the school, but I don't know. Once in a while I'll spot a wrapper of some forbidden snack in their lunches.
When will they learn you have to trash the evidence?
This weeks bevy of menu items are as follows:
***
Macaroni Salad
Salmon spread w/ crackers of choice
Cuke spread/ w/ crackers of choice
Nutella Sandwich
Sandwich skewer
Fruit skewer
Wrap
Pita
Stuffed breadstick
Granola bars
carrots n dip
ants on a log (Johnny)
Pb&J
Lunchmeat sandwich
Green Salad
Carrot/Raisin Salad
Tuna
So, I feel prepared for the week.
New lunch pails at the ready, new clothes, new backpacks, pens, pencils, folders, coloring pencils, 3 ring binders and copious amounts of paper.
The lunch pails I got them this year are awesome.
I got them from QVC, and the entire thing is lined with pillows of water, so the entire lunch pail gets frozen, no messy gel packs to take out, just stick the entire thing in my back freezer everynight, and lunch stays cold and healthy all day.
Now Bill wants one.
I'm going to go enjoy our last day of summer...by doing laundry...
Yeah, I know... I'm one wild and crazy girl!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Picky Eaters Part 2

Let's turn picky eaters around.
One day a week, if the child is small, bargain with the child.
Say something like... "Little Suzy, if you promise Mommy to try one new food and not say Ewwwww! or NO! or Gross! and act like a big girl at the table, you can choose a new hair goodie from the store this week (or whatever will motivate the child).
Yes, it is bribery, but bribery can be weaned.
If the person is older, just make a deal with him/her. "All I ask is that you act like an adult for one night and try the food. If you don't like it... practice your skills at not letting me know, and politely disregard the food."
You see. It's not the "Not liking the food" that bugs me. It's everything that goes with it that bugs me. Kids that are allowed to say EWWWWW, and Yuck! and Gross! at the table grow into adults that tend to say and do the same things at dinner parties and business meetings. Ask me how I know!
Case in point. I abhor mayonaisse. I mean... even the sight of it makes me gag.
BUT! If it is in a food when I am at someones house, or they used it in huge amounts in a food, I will just politely way 'No, thank you'. If I am asked why, I will just say I don't care for Mayo.
I avoid like the plague buffet tables full of mayo based salads.
***
I have a friend that absolutely hates shrimp. I didn't know this, and when she came over for dinner, what was I serving? Shrimp Scampi. Of course. I said I didn't know!
Anyway... she made a HUGE deal over it. I mean... tons of guffaws, tsks, literally stamping her foot, and telling me she is starving and can't eat that.
I. Was. Dumbfounded.
I was so embarrassed for her. I wanted to slap her mother!
No one taught her how to refuse food or how to eat around the unsavory food!
I quickly asked her if she was allergic, and she nearly shouted and sounded like a 5 yr old and said..."Noooo, I just can't staaaannnd Shrimp! and I'm so hungry!"
I almost dropped my drink.
I made her a nice sandwich, we all ate our Scampi happily, while she kept making faces and squishing her nose.
Thank God I wasn't married or had kids then, although it would have been a great lesson for my kids after she left.
Needless to say, I never cooked for her again, and my boyfriend at the time just about kicked her out the door.
So being a picky eater can actually be curbed just by curbing the attention the whining gets.
Teach them to refuse food gracefully, from a very early age.
Their future employers, in laws, family and everyone else they eat with in the future will thank you. The food is secondary to the manners.
Thank you and Good Night.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Soup Recipes Request

I know it hasn't cooled down yet... but I am so excited that Autumn is near.
Why?
Because I LOVE to make soup.
All kinds of soups.
Hearty soups, thin soups, quick soups and soups that take forever and a day to make.
I could eat soup every single day and be happy.
I am always happy to add to my soup making repetoire.
Sooooo...
I would like you to e mail me your favorite soup recipes, and I will post them!
Sharing is Caring! lol!
I'm going to try and post each Saturday or Sunday under the heading Saturday (or Sunday) Soup.
I think soups are a great way to start a meal.
Don't you?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Yummy Cucumber Spread

I over purchased on the Cucumbers this week.
I didn't realized I already had 3 in my backyard fridge, and just bought three more.
I really hate it when they get all soggy and slimy if I can't use them fast enough, and I really hate throwing money into the trash.
SO...
I decided to make a Cucumber Dip with one of them.
I looked up a bunch of recipes online, and I didn't have one ingredient or another, and most of them had Mayo as an ingredient, and we all know how much I ADORE (yuck) Mayo, so I came up with my own little recipe...
***
Saundra's Cucumber Spread
*********************
1 whole hot house cucumber,
grated and pressed between layers of towel to rid excess water.
1 cup low fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup low fat sour cream
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Dill Mix
1/2 tsp celery seed
Fresh cracked Black Pepper to taste
3 garlic cloves, pressed or grated finely
***
Mix all ingredients until well blended, and place in an airtight container.
Refrigerate 1 hour or more before serving.
Can be molded into pretty designs or in cupcake molds for individual servings.
Serve with whole grain crackers, veggie spears, or spread on toast points for appetizers.
Bon Appetito!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Picky Eaters... Part 1

I am a firm believer that picky eaters are made...not born.
Oh sure... there are always things that each of us inherently hates to eat... my particular choice of food to despise is Mayo, Will will eat raw Cauliflower, but won't eat it cooked, Alex loves raw spinach and not cooked, and Johnny likes raw carrots, not cooked.
I'm sure there are a host of other things they would choose not to eat, but if I am serving it in a dish, they wouldn't dare complain. Why? Because I am a mean Mama, and don't take any crap from my kids.
I know... I know... I should be sweeter, kinder, more tolerant....more willing to go with the flow...
EEEHHHHH!
Not gonna happen!
I just don't have that kinda time!
I'm the Mama, I'm the one cookin', it's my way or the highway.
***
Now... don't get me wrong... I don't just make food I know they will dislike,
but I do reintroduce
foods into our meals that they may have disliked last year,
that their palettes may enjoy this year. I refuse to make Pasta every night
just because I know Johnny will eat it and he asks for it every night.
When William gets all bent outta shape because he sees me buy a huge head of cauliflower, what he wants to do is say he won't eat it... then he sees my eyes and chooses his words wisely and says instead "Are you going to try a new way of cooking it for us?" To which my reply is
a resounding "Yes, I'm going to roast it this time, not steam it and make a salad" (OOOHHH! you should try Cauliflower Salad with fresh Lemon Juice!!! So yummy)
***
So, I cut the Cauliflower into thick breadlike slices, slather a little olive oil on them, sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper and my favorite steak rub or other seasoning, cut up a huge onion into rings, throw on some baby carrots and roast them at 400 for 20 minutes or so.
Voila! Cauliflower William now fights over for the last piece!
Why? It's taste profile completely changed when it was roasted. It took on a sweet
flavor and was mixed with the sweet onion and carrots.
Do the same with Broccoli, except instead of a rub, sprinkle grated Italian hard cheese over the top the last 5 minutes of roasting.
(Broccoli Salad with Lemon Juice is awesome too!)
***
So... todays lessons were as follows...
***
You are the Mama/Daddy.
You decide what and how your family eats.
You don't have time to be a short order cook.
Don't beg your kids to eat a food they don't like.
Be in control... just expect them to eat it... with a smile.
Refuse to let them make you think you are doing it to egg them on...
Realize it is your responsibility as a provider to give their palettes chances to bloom as they grow.
Introducing foods that aren't the norm is OKAY!
More another time!
Go Mom! Rah! Rah!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sandwich on a stick.

" Mamala! Can I eat the blog lunch?"
"Hmmm, which do I eat first?"

Friday, August 22, 2008

Time for Fun Food for School!

Okay... so Back To School is either here, or just around the corner... depending on the school and district. Either way... kids are goin' back some time.
Time to dust off the lunch pails, skewers sticks, pretzels, cheese cubes and 2 oz cups for dips!
Make lunch fun and nutritious!
Those Lunchables are the Devil.
Have you ever read the labels?
62 grams of fat!
No kid needs that!
I have NEVER purchased them, but I did read the labels and it was scary.
One Mom, last year at my kids school, gave 2 to her son every day.
He was about 60 lbs overweight and only in 4th grade.
Make your own!
Press N Seal is the best stuff ever invented!
Cut a large plastic ice cube tray into 6 compartments or buy a smallish tray, fill with fruit, veggies, small meats, cheese etc... and cover with Glad Press n Seal and voila!
Wholesome, nutritious, homemade lunchable!
(I haven't seen this anywhere else... but I thought of this when I saw a bunch of metal trays with lunches on them for home use, and was thinking of a way to make it lightweight and easy for lunchpails.
6 inch wooden skewers are the best!
You can make an entire "sandwich" on a skewer! See Above!
Use your imagination!
Fruit,
assorted cheeses
fruit and cheese
veggies
the list goes on and on and on!
Kids love these!
You can even string them on thread or unflavored dental floss.
They will have kids BEGGING them to trade... and all the other Mama's will hate you!
Fun Fun Fun!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cherry tomatoe Pasta Sauce

Pasta with Cherry Tomatoe Sauce & Mozzarella Chunks
2 cups halved Cherry Tomatoes
1 small onion chopped
3 garlic cloves pressed
Olive Oil
Saute all of the above in a skillet until tomatoes are soft and onions are translucent.
Set Aside
***
Cook 1 lb pasta al dente
When done... add to tomatoe sauce
Cut up Fresh Mozzarella (It won't work with the hard stuff from the grocery store.)
or eliminate it all together.
(I would actually prefer the recipe without the cheese, but my men ADORE cheese... so...)
Serve hot with bread and salad...
Sooooooo good and soooo simple!

I made Monday's dinner on Saturday... Sue me.

Cherry Tomato, Mozzarella Cheese and Onion Sauce with Spaghetti.

Yeah... I inadvertantly made a bollo tie with a few strands. Of course... Johnny notices and says... 'Hey Mom, get a picture of this!!!"

This is called... "Hey Mom, take a picture of me stuffing my face!!!"

Yes, he really did say that... this IS Alex we are talkin about!

Not to be outdone, or out eaten... Will HAD to join the fray. I am so proud all my manners training is working so well with my men. My daughters in law will be so thrilled with me!

My oldest (LOL)... enjoying his meal like a good boy. Elbows off the table and everything!

Isn't he cute? And so mannered!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Meatball Sandwiches for Friday Night Olympics

The fresh, homemade Rosemary Bread. My Mama's meatballs, cut up ready for the bread.

Ready to go into the oven to melt in broiler. Topped with freshly grated Pecorino Romano Cheese, and Fresh Buffalo Milk Mozzarella.

My salad maker extraordinaire!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Roasted Veggie and Haddock Dinner.... in a flash!

My boules rising this morning... 2 for the dentist office and one for us at dinner.
I slashed them just before I put them in the oven... they turned out lovely...
The specks on them are the Flax Seed Meal I add to the dough each time.

I forgot to take the picture with the Haddock fillets on top of the veggies, after the veggies were cooked for 20 minutes.... but still....

Yummy! I roasted the veggies in my outdoor oven at 400 for 20 minutes, then added the marinated fillets for another 10 minutes in the oven... on top of the veggies.

Our salad.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

TIME TO START STOCKING UP FOR LUNCH!

OOOOH! School is just around the corner in our house...
so it must be close, if not already happening in yours!
***
I am already starting to stock up on lunch staples, a little at a time, every time
I shop.
So is what I have so far...
Granola Bars
Pretzel sticks
Dry Ranch Dressing Packets
Bags of Granola clusters
Beef Jerky
3 oz clear plastic containers with lids
Plastic Forks
Mini Packets of treats such as 100 calorie M&M's, & other chocolates
100% juice boxes (when they are on sale only)
So, I have lots more to get... but I find that buying a little at a time helps the weekly
budget better, because this stuff can get expensive.
Now that Will is a big bad High Schooler, I thought he was going to want to buy lunch everyday
and go out with his friends that drive and such... but... he knows how much we
pay for tuition, and he already told me he knows he needs to take his lunch.
He said he calculated what $5 a day for lunch came out to in a month, and even he felt it was a waste. He said he could think of other ways for us to spend that money.
He HATES that we are the only family left on the planet that doesn't have a big
screen TV and is mortified that our TV is so small (27") that we can't even see all the scores
for the Olympics, and he informed me that he would love to forego buying lunch to save up for a Big Screen TV.
I tell him all the time we can get one anytime we want... cash... but I just don't see the need.
His reply was ... "Oh, it's a CHOICE? AWWW MAN!" I just smiled and laughed.
***
So, Will will be taking his lunch to school everyday, whether he likes it or not. Whether we get a TV one of these days or not. I refuse to allow him to use any of his Ref money on
food. He is only allowed to buy things with lasting value.
***
Closer to the beginning of school, I will be stocking up on
Baby Carrots
Celery
Peanut Butter
Jam
Cheddar Cheese blocks
yogurts
string cheese
melons
apples
grapes
or whatever fruit is on sale that week.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I love Prep!

I was so very excited to hear one of my dear friends is
using this method of madness... prep.
Kathy, in a sweet email, mentioned to me, that while she may not be cutting and chopping,
and mincing and slicing one day a week, SHE IS setting aside time to get her shopping
and other kitchen duties done. She noticed a difference when she didn't do her
particular prep routine, and it hit her that planning ahead makes for a much
more relaxed and enjoyable experience in the kitchen.
HALLEUJAH!
***
It is such a treat to have something work out!
***
Prep can be anything you deem important.
I read a comment that Dee Dee posted on another blog recently, and she quoted
the Flylady. I LOVE THE FLYLADY! She says we should "Shine our sinks" "Put on our shoes and be ready for the day, everyday" "27 fling boogies" and all sorts of cool things.
Way back when... a few years ago, when I would visit her website and get email alerts, it really helped me with getting a routine down, a much needed thing in my house when I had 3 under 5.
***
Prep is meant to be a helper to you. To help you "just get it done" so you don't have to worry about it during your busy week. Whether your prep is paying your bills up, ravaging the freezer for items that will expire soon, shopping for staples and food needs for the week,
or cutting and chopping all my dinner and lunch items for the week, so all I have to do is dump and cook it, as long as it creates peace for you...IT'S PREP!
***
Since my job is about food prep, and my kids are human garbage disposals these days,
my food prep has become my "peaceful place". When it's done... I feel like all I have to do for dinner is put it together... all the brain work is done on Sundays.
I just don't fret anymore. I rarely ask myself... "What am I going to make for dinner tonight?"
And now... I frequently have an answer for my men when they ask "What's for dinner?"
***
I have taken the whole prep thing to other parts of my life too.
If I know I am going to do lots of laundry the next day... I will sort EVERYTHING the night before, and just eliminating that one little step ahead of time, so all I have to do is
place the clothes in the washer and press start.
Sometimes... I'll even pre measure 10 loads worth of detergent and put it in an egg crates I cut up into individual little cups on the top of the washer, again, eliminating a step, so all I have to do
is dump the cup into the appropriate area of my washer and press start.
Okay, that's a rarity, but it works great when you are gone and you want the person watching your house to use the specified amount of detergent for your new fangled washer and make it easy as pie for them.
***
Onward and upward with prep... IN ALL AREAS OF OUR LIVES!
Have stress free day!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Thursday things

Staters had Chuck Roast on sale yesterday... so I bought a couple of them and promptly
deposited them into my Crock Pot with 4 sliced onions
a bag of preshredded cabbage, a tablespoon of Lipton Onion Soup Mix and splash
of Worcestershire Sauce.
I nuked some red potatoes in my Rice Cooker Plus and made a killer green salad
with, of course, some freshly made bread.
Angela came over with Cole to deliver a uniform, and she left with a warm slice with butter
on top.
***
Today I am baking up the Pumpernickel I stirred together yesterday, for sandwiches
this weekend.
We'll see.
***
Tonights dinner will be Mockfredo sauce.
What are you having for dinner?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Tonights impromptu dinner

Thank GOD I had my prep done!
***
I have been sooo lazy to go grocery shopping this week!
Tonight was the first Soccer practice for 2 of the kids and I had to get William from
football practice at 6:45... and still, I had no idea what I was making for dinner.
I hate when that happens!
It was my own fault for not going shopping!
So...
I improvised and perused my fridge and pantry.
***
I found a box of cornbread mix from Trader Joes...
I already had peppers and onions chopped up,
I found 2 Hebrew National Hotdogs, a small box of cheddar cheese,
and some fresh lunchmeat.
I know... it doesn't sound too appetizing.
***
So here's what I did...
I made the cornbread just like the box said...
but added a tablespoon of Flax seed meal to the combined mixture.
I saute'd up the onions and peppers I had already chopped and added 1 cup of frozen corn to it.
I seasoned it up with a little salt, pepper and some PC Southwestern Seasoning Mix.
I chopped up the hotdogs and lunchmeat and heated them up in the onion/pepper mixture.
I had Will grate some Cheddar... about 2 cups.
***
I put half the cornbread mixture on the bottom of a 12x9 baking stone (with sides)
layered on the onion/hotdog/pepper/corn mixure.
Put about half the cheese over that,
put the rest of the cornbread mixture in dollops over the filling and sprinkled with left over cheese.
Baked it at 350 for 25 minutes.
My family LOVED IT!
I'm gonna call it
"Mom is too lazy to go shopping, use whatever you have in the pantry"
Casserole.
Enjoy!

New Bread Blog

Okay... so today was my very last Bread Blog.
At least on this blog.
***
I have opened up a new blog...
Dedicated to baking bread
called
"OH! FOR THE LOVE OF BREAD"
It's at
***
I have invited other authors to post on this blog too.
So far I have invited Andi and DD, and if they take me up on it... they can post all they want on it and it will show up on the front page...not the comment section!
Adrian... I would love to invite you too, but I don't have your personal e mail address to invite you with. If you would like to be included, just e mail me at
and I will invite ya!
***
I want all my bread buddies to be involved with this particular blog!
Post pictures, successes, failures etc...
I want this to be interactive!
I am not the only one with enthusiasm for holes in bread... giddiness about crumb and just
being a bread baking cheerleader!
There are others like me... and it feels great!
Bread Nerds Unite!
Love ya!

Weekend Food Pictures!

Bill was putting up rain gutters yesterday... so I made quick Pizza with Boule dough, Sun dried tomatoes whizzed in my mini food processor, and saute'd onions, outside in my backyard kitchen oven. It kept the house cool, and they could eat it as soon as they smelled it was done!
The black thing it's on is a Stoneware Bar Pan.

What my containers look like, and what 2 hours rising on the counter does! Yum!

I decided to try quick cinnamon rolls with the left over dough from the huge pizza. So I slathered rolled out dough with butter, generously sprinkled brown sugar and cinnamon over it, added raisins, and rolled it up. This picture is before I cooked it.. while they were rising. I baked them outside too, so when they were done, I didn't get a chance to take a picture... I frosted them, and then they were GONE! I just used boule dough again. They said they were fantastic.

Ooey... Gooey... 2 hour dough. I like using it more after a refrigeration.

I add Flax Seed meal from Bob's Red Mill, in every batch now. 2 Tablespoons.

I got these containers from Smart n Final. 2 for 8 bucks.