Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Freezer Cooking

We decided to invest in a "square" waffle iron. Buying waffles guaranteed nut and peanut free is expensive. The waffle iron I have, my mom's, is a huge round Belgium waffle iron. I can't make them and then fit them in the toaster. We are scattering in all directions in the morning and being able to pop waffles in the toaster is nice. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Date Bars

This was the first time I had ever tried to make these. My old "bar" recipe has peanut butter, which is now a no-no. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Knitting And Crocheting Again

One of the things my growing family does is keep me knitting. My youngest niece and nephew were both overdue for a gift.  Yes! In my family I am that crazy aunt who sends sweaters. 

For my nephew in his favorite red.

For my niece in a yarn of my choice.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

White Lasagna (noodle testing)

While I was picking up some supplies from Dollar Tree, I found these oven ready lasagne noodles.They cost  more than $1 at the regular grocery store, but I am not familiar with this brand. I picked up two boxes -- one to use immediately and one for the pantry.

I started with 1 1/2 pounds of ground turkey and 1/2 of a large bell pepper diced. I cooked those together and while they were cooking I made a simple white sauce to which I added garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and Italian seasonings. In a bowl I mixed 6 ounces of shredded mozzarella with a small tub of low fat ricotta cheese and an egg. ( I reserved 2 ounces of my cheese for the top.) Layer all this in the usual way and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if you want.

At that point I covered it and refrigerated it. Half an hour before I wanted to cook I took it out and poured 1 cup of milk over it.  I baked it for 45 minutes with a foil cover and then 15 without.

The results were.....

Quite yummy!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Long Weekend

Chocolate cake with buttercream frosting. Dessert for the long weekend.

Homemade English Muffins

From the library I checked out the cookbook Miserly Meals by Jonni McCoy. These were an attempt at her English muffin recipe. I am not certain, but I think there may be a typo in the recipe. It took considerably more flour to make a dough I could handle.  I know it isn't unusual for a recipe to require varying amounts of flour, but I used not quite a cup more.  However, these muffins were a hit with my family.

English Muffins by Jonni McCoy with my notes in parentheses)

1 cup milk (I used water and powdered milk)
1 1/2 tbsp. of dried yeast (I used 2 1/2 tsps quick yeast)
1 tsp. Sugar (I added two)
1/4 cup butter melted
2 cups flour (I ended up with closer to three)
1 tsp. Salt

Do the usual mix, knead, rise until double, etc. shape into circles about 1 1/2" thick. 
Let rise again for 20 to 30 minutes. Cook one side at a time on a hot skillet. (5 to 8 minutes each side)

My notes -- I am babysitting most days and I want home baked, but need easy. I put it all in the bread machine on dough cycle. At the end I let it rest five minutes and then I patted it out to about 1 1/2"  thick on a floured surface and used the biscuit cutter to cut them out. I let them rise, covered for about 30 minutes. I then cooked mine on a griddle, 8 minutes per side. I ended up with 12 English muffins.

When I make these again I will pay closer to 1", but beyond that these were a hit. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Filling the Freezer Hodge Podge

A double batch of chocolate chip pancakes for quick breakfasts for my daughter. 

Yellow onions on sale now chopped and frozen.

I actually froze two bags of these brownies -- individually wrapped. Easy to toss in lunch box or for a quick 30 seconds in a microwave and you have a warm snack.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Intentional Leftovers

One of the things I like to do to make weekends easier is plan around intentional leftovers. 

Friday night we had crockpot steak with gravy, rice, and broccoli with brownies for dessert. I cooked extra rice and we had extra broccoli. The next morning I pulled a bag of stir fry veggie mix from the chest freezer and four chicken breast halves.  A quick stir fry of the cubed chicken, add the veggies, rice and seasonings (in this case teriyaki) and I had a quick lunch for 6 with enough left for two lunches this upcoming week.  I even cooked enough brownies for us to have an afternoon snack the next day. 

Fast forward to Sunday night and I have a shepherd's pie baking. While I was cooking the meat and veggie filling (using ground turkey bought on sale and my home canned veggies) I added a little extra for a cup or so for soup. I used my homemade mix for cream of whatever soup (I added mushrooms from my storage), and while it was cooking I turned that extra cup of filling into a jar of soup for my husband to take with him this week.  All I did was add a little onion, some turkey stock I had and some barley. Since he has a three day workweek in the office and two days of traveling, this will be perfect for him. He will need three lunches and two suppers. He will be having soup, stir fry, and leftover casserole. I'll add fruit to his bag and he will make oatmeal for his breakfasts.  Since he will be closer to home on the nights of his conference he will eat here with us. 

Easy, nutritious, frugal, and created very little extra mess for me to deal with. Can't beat that!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sweet Potato Biscuits Recipe(s)

I have two favorite sweet potato biscuit recipes.  One I use with savory dishes and one I treat as a sweet.  This is the recipe as it is written. However, I do see it as a versatile, frugal recipe because it is adaptable.  I grew up not eating pumpkin because in my area of the South almost everyone grows, or knows someone who does, sweet potatoes.  However, I made the biscuits pictured here with pumpkin (from my Halloween decoration) and they turned out wonderfully. So basically, to keep costs down I used reconstituted powdered milk, pumpkin from the freezer, and shelf stable fat.

The dough is soft, but it makes for a soft end result, too.

They bake up with a lighter color.

Sausage and egg in a pumpkin biscuit for my husband's breakfast.  Sorry the orange tint doesn't show well.  The sun wasn't up and the lighting wasn't the best.

As always, I never leave a recipe exactly as it was written, but this one I follow pretty closely.  Well, kind of.  I'm putting my notes beside the ingredients.

Savory Sweet Potato Biscuits

1 1/4 cup of all purpose flour (plus 1/4 cup or so set aside)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 cup cold mashed sweet potatoes (I cook mine and freeze them in one cup portions, thaw overnight, and then use.  Also a great use for leftover sweet potatoes.)
3 tbsp. of shortening (I use coconut oil or butter)
1/4 cup milk (more or less)

Sift flower, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in fat until crumbly.  Add sweet potatoes.  Mix well, add enough milk to make a soft dough.  Knead several times on a floured board.  Roll and cut biscuits.  Bake at 400F for about 18 to 20 minutes.

Now for additional notes --
Sweet potato water content varies so this is a soft dough.  I often add a little extra flour to get the right consistency.  I like coconut oil in these, but I have used other fats based on what I had on hand. In fact, sunflower oil can be used, but will slightly change texture...not bad -- just different.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Wednesday's Yarnalong

QI've actually been knitting and crocheting up a storm.  Rarely do I have huge blocks of down time, but I have -- and I have been determined to use every minute of every day doing something.
I've finished two pair of socks, a bountiful supply of dishcloths, and three sweaters. 
These darling sweaters are for a little girl, who is a new addition to my brother's family through some sad circumstances.  She is such a sweetheart.
This is modified drop shoulder sweater -- 26 inch chest. I used Big Twist Baby Yarns in various shades.
This crocheted cardigan is made using the same brands of yarns.

Then I continued to practice my loom knitting and finished my first sweater on the loom.
This is for my grandson.  I had such a hard time getting him to be still for me to take a good photo.  Oh to have that kind of energy.

My daughter in love, who knows the way to my heart, gave me a wonderful new book for Christmas and I have been slowly savoring every story.

Go over to Ginny's -- Small Things -- to see what everyone else has been making.

Monday, January 4, 2016

16 in 2016

One of the groups I participate on in Ravelry is doing a 16 in 2016 "along" and I made my list.  It isn't a set in stone list, but one of the things that I decided to do was put a few practical things on there, too. That included updating some of my handmade dishcloths. I retired those that had developed holes and shuffled those that looked horribly used up over to the car washing and rag stack.  I took advantage of a yarn sale and came home with 15 ounces of worsted weight cotton to use.  My husband is happy because he now has car washing cloths that aren't shot and I am happy because I now have a dozen knew dishcloths and five scrubbies for about 80 cents each if I had paid full price for the yarn.  However, I had a $10 off coupon, which knocked my yarn down to $5 -- so these ended up costing me less than 20 cents each to make.  I doubled up my time while I was watching PBS and BBC shows I had been saving to see, kept my hands busy, and added a little beauty back to my daily life.  A win win situation for me.  I also am happy knowing that the thicker yarns hold up well and I will get a lot of use from these.

Friday, January 1, 2016

YouTube Creator Tag

This just shares a little bit about me and how/why I set up my YouTube channel.