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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Saturday pork potato goulash
squash
Sunday hamburgers & hotdogs
potato salad
baked beans
Monday brisket
BLT Salad
flag cake
Tuesday pollo asado
pico de gallo
tortillas
cantaloupe & blueberries
Wednesday layered meatball bake
watermelon
Thursday spaghetti
garlic bread
salad
Friday sub sandwiches
chips
carrot sticks & dip


For those of you who were paying attention last week I did switch desserts between the summary menu and what was actually typed out.  I did that well mostly because I couldn’t find the recipe I wanted to include and the pressure was on and it was getting late and I wanted to go to sleep; you know it was pushing 9:30. 

Saturday
1.        Hopefully you have some leftover pork roast that you can use. 
Pork-Potato Goulash
·         2 c diced roast pork
·         1 onion, chopped
·         2 c diced cooked potatoes
·         2T butter
·         1 can cream of mushroom soup
·         2/3 c milk
·         1 tsp steak sauce
·         ½ cooked peas, green beans, or other left over veggie
Cook pork, potatoes and onion in the butter until lightly browned.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer about 5 minutes. 
Squash

Sunday
1.        Please note the very technical nature of the potato salad recipe.  I wanted to point out how specific it is. 
Hamburgers & Hot dogs
Baked Beans
Potato Salad
·         Diced potatoes (slightly larger than you want for the finished product)
·         Celery, minced
·         Hard boiled eggs (yolks removed if you really don't like that part)
·         Dill relish; never chop a pickle again
·         Onion, minced (don't let anyone see you put it in there)
·         Mayo & mustard (until they combine to create the perfect shade of very pale yellow)
·         Salt & pepper
·         Paprika (cuz it’s not done until this is sprinkled on the top)
Boil the potatoes, don't let them cook all the way to mush.  Drain and then cool in a large pot filled with ice water.  You want to do this early in the steps because the potatoes will just keep cooking.  Combine all your other ingredients, add potatoes until it looks and tastes like potato salad. 

Monday
1.        This is a great day to have a brisket.  My best advice is that you find the best deal on a brisket and then hand the slab of beef over to your better half and ask him to smoke it up for y'all.  If that’s not a viable option you can cook it yourself or buy one at HEB, or any of the four Lockhart BBQ locations. 
2.       The only advice I can offer after many a ruined slab of beef is to cook it fat side down.  It seems to protect the meat the most. 
Brisket
BLT Salad
Combine bacon, lettuce and tomato serve with home-mixed ranch dressing
Flag Cake
Frost a white sheet cake and then use strawberries for stripes and blueberries for the star area.  If you want to get really creative use food coloring to color portions of the cake red, white and blue.  Pour it into the cake pan either in layers or into a swirl pattern.
Tuesday
1.        I know some of you don't like fruited meat, but this might not be too sweet.  Of course you can skip the fruit and just make BBQ chicken.
Pollo Asado (Tasty Kitchen)
·         ½ cups Olive Oil
·         ½ cups Orange Juice (freshly Squeezed If Possible; Save Juiced Orange Halves)
·         2 whole Lemons, Juiced
·         2 whole Limes, Juiced
·         4 whole Garlic, Cloves Peeled And Smashed
·         2 whole Onions, Peeled And Quartered
·         1 teaspoon Salt
·         1 teaspoon Black Pepper
·         16 chicken legs or thighs
In a bowl, combine olive oil, orange juice, lemons, limes, salt, pepper, and garlic cloves, saving juiced fruit. Whisk together. Place chicken legs, juiced pieces of fruit, and quartered onions in large plastic bags or bowl. Pour marinade over the top, tossing to combine. Cover with plastic wrap (if using bowl) and marinate for at least two hours–several hours is better. Toss a few times during the marinating process. Preheat broiler to high—or cook on grill. Arrange oven rack toward bottom of oven.   Lay chicken legs on a broiler pan, or other baking dish with a drip tray. Broil for 25 minutes, turning once and marinating other side halfway through. Remove pan from oven when done.
Tortillas
Pico de gallo
Dice tomatoes, onions, a little jalapeno and cilantro
Cantaloupe & blueberries

Wednesday
Layered Meatball Bake
·         Stove top stuffing
·         Cream of mushroom soup
·         ¼ c milk
·         ~2 dozen meatballs
·         2 c frozen peas
·         1 c grated cheddar
Prepare stuffing mix as directed on package; set aside.  Combine soup and milk in a 9x13 pan,.  Stir in meatballs and peas; sprinkle with cheese.  Top with prepared stuffing.  Bake 20-25 min at 400 or until heated through. 
Watermelon
Thursday
Spaghetti
Garlic Bread
Salad
Friday
Sub Sandwiches
Carrot Sticks & Dip
Chips

Grocery Deals 6/29

HEB                        chicken or pork fajitas 1.97/lb, peaches .88/lb, blueberries 1.98/pt, mangoes .44, cantaloupe 1.34 (vs 1.99 Sprouts, 1.50 Sun Harvest), onions .88/lb

Sprouts                                seedless watermelon 1.99, strawberries 1.99/lb, mangoes .49, tomatoes .77/lb, lettuce .99, celery .88, spinach .88

Sun Harvest        blueberries 1.49/pt, strawberries 1.99/lb, grapes 1.99/lb, red/sweet potatoes .88/lb, corn 3/$1, lettuce .88, 50% off ground beef (I have no idea what it costs at the regular price), leg quarters .79/lb (vs $1HEB), pineapple 1.99

Randalls               bi-color corn 4/$1, seedless watermelon 3.49, boneless chicken 1.99/lb, Vidalia onions .99/lb

Friday, June 24, 2011

Nobody here but us chickens

Have you ever noticed that sometimes the most expensive projects are the ones where you get some part of it for free?  Free carpet turns into a whole garage enclosure project, free windows turns into a back porch conversion to a sunroom, free pontoons turns into a well portioned floating dock, free chicken wire turns into the Taj Mahal of chicken coops. 

Maybe this stuff just happens to my family and friends, wait those are the only folks reading this blog, so it’s bound to have happened to you too!

Anyway back in the spring, before it was 100 degrees everyday—you know 5-6 weeks ago-- L and S built a chicken coop and I scored some free ready to be recycled chicken wire.  Our coop was fashioned like the one Bobbie & Brent created out of leftover scrap lumber from building her house.  She told me that the most expensive item in her coop was the wire.  So when I had the opportunity to score free wire, well I jumped on it.  That was of course the only thing she bought for her coop, but don't let that fact get in your way, I certainly didn’t.

I have some pictures of the coop in progress, but have no idea what happened to them.  I'll work on that. 

When I went to Callahan’s to buy the feed, feeder and waterer (yes, that’s a word) the girl at the counter wanted to know how many chickens I had.  Well, none right now, but we are planning to buy six. 

She started cracking up; never a good sign because you know you are/ are going to be the butt of a joke.  Well that feeder that you are buying will feed about 30 chickens.  You could go on a five day trip and the chickens will have plenty of feed.  Yeah, that was my plan all along.  J

Back to the store the next day to actually buy the chickens and we got six.  J and I were so excited about getting them home.  We put a chair in the coop so he could sit and pet them and play with them.  He didn’t hug them and squeeze them or call them George, maybe because we only bought hens? 


I’m working on names for them, but it’s hard to tell them apart with any degree of consistency.  But here are the names I’ve been working with: Millie, Hilda, Helga, Bertha, Eunice, Pauline. 

They also answer to chick chick when you walk outside with something they think they can eat. 

It’s fun stuff so far, and we’ve been getting eggs! 
Yes, these are on floor.  J was in charge of putting up the eggs, but was so excited we had a full dozen he wanted to take a picture of them.
Breakfast is served!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Weekly Menu 6/25+

Saturday meatloaf
roasted potato medley
green beans
Sunday 1 dish chicken parmesan
salad
Monday taco salad
banana split dessert
Tuesday dr pepper shredded pork
cole slaw
Wednesday grilled chicken
squash/okra
Thursday cheesy spirals
garlic bread
Friday rocket dogs
tater tots
carrots



Saturday
Meatloaf
·         2lb ground meat
·         1 package stuffing
·         1 c water
·         ½ c bbq sauce
·         2 eggs
Combine all ingredients except ¼ c bbq sauce and shape into an oval in a 9x13 pan; top with remaining bbq sauce.  Bake at 375 ~1 hour. 

Roasted Potato Medley
Cube a combination of sweet, red and russet potato.  Mix with 1-2T olive oil, salt and pepper, onion wedges, garlic.  Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes at 375.
Green Beans

Sunday
1-Dish Chicken Parmesan
·         1 ½ c flour
·         2 tsp sugar
·         ½ tsp salt
·         2 pkg or 6 tsp yeast
·         ¾ c very warm water (120-130 degrees)
·         3T olive oil
·         3 c fully cooked, frozen, breaded chicken tenders, chopped
·         16 oz spaghetti sauce
·         1 c grated mozzarella cheese
·         1 tsp Italian herb blend (basil, oregano, parsley)
Mix batter ingredients (thru olive oil) in a pre-sprayed 8x8 pan.  Let rest 5-10 minutes.  Top batter evenly with chicken, then pour sauce over chicken.  Sprinkle with cheese and herbs.  Bake by placing in a cold oven; set temp to 350; bake for 30 minutes, until baked through. 
Salad

Monday
1.        You can bake a burrito sized tortilla over a cereal bowl to create a ‘shell’ for your salad or you can use tortilla chips, or fritos
2.       Dessert needs time to chill, so you might bake the crust Sunday evening to get the ‘oven’ part over with and you can keep your kitchen cool today. 
Taco Salad
Layer the following in tortilla shell:
·         Shredded lettuce
·         Diced tomatoes
·         Seasoned taco meat
·         Cheese
·         Sour cream
·         Guacamole
·         Picante sauce

Blueberry Torte Squares (Healthy Cooking)
·         2/3 c butter
·         3T + ½ c sugar (divided)
·         1 ¼ c flour
·         8 oz cream cheese
·         1 c powdered sugar
·         12oz cool whip
·         2T cornstarch
·         ¾ c cold water
·         3c fresh blueberries
In small bowl, cream butter and 3T sugar.  Add flour and mix well.  Press onto the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 min, or until set and edges are lightly browned.  Cool on a wire rack.  In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and powder sugar until smooth.  Fold in cool whip; spread mixture over crust.  Refrigerate for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine cornstarch, water until smooth.  Stir in blueberries and remaining ½ c sugar.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Cool to room temperature.  Spoon topping over cream cheese layer.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  Cut into squares.

Tuesday
1.        I’ll be skipping the jalapenos in the cole slaw, but the rest of it should be a tasty recipe.

Dr Pepper Shredded Pork (Pioneer Woman)
·         1 whole Large Onion
·         1 whole Pork Shoulder ("pork Butt") - 5 To 7 Pounds
·         Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper
·         1 can (11 Ounce) Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce
·         2 cans Dr. Pepper
·         2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.   Or load up everything into the crockpot and cook it up that way. 

Peel the onion and cut it into wedges. Lay them in the bottom of a large dutch oven.  Generously salt and pepper the pork roast, then set it on top of the onions in the pan.  Pour the can of chipotle peppers over the pork (include the sauce.) Pour in both cans of Dr Pepper. Add brown sugar to the juice and stir in.

Place lid tightly on pot, then set pot in the oven. Cook for at least six hours, turning roast two or three times during the cooking process. Check meat after six hours; it should be absolutely falling apart (use two forks to test.) If it’s not falling apart, return to the oven for another hour.

Remove meat from pot and place on a cutting board or other work surface. Use two forks to shred meat, discarding large pieces of fat. Strain as much of the fat off the top of the cooking liquid as you can and discard it. Return the shredded meat to the cooking liquid, and keep warm until ready to serve. (You can also refrigerate the meat and liquid separately, then remove hardened fat once it’s cold. Then heat up the liquid on the stovetop and return the meat to the liquid to warm up.

Jalapeno Cole Slaw (Pioneer Woman)
•½ heads Cabbage, Sliced Thin
•½ heads Purple Cabbage, Sliced Thin
•1 whole Jalapeno, Halved Lengthwise And Thinly Sliced
•½ cups Whole Milk
•½ cups Mayonnaise
•1 teaspoon White Vinegar
•1 Tablespoon Sugar
•¼ teaspoons Salt
•¼ teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
•2 cups Cilantro Leaves, Barely Chopped
Combine shredded cabbage and sliced jalapenos in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix milk, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, and cayenne. Pour over cabbage. Toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate two hours.
Before serving, toss in cilantro leaves.

Wednesday
Grilled Chicken
Grilled squash and/or okra
Rice

Thursday
1.        Hopefully tonight’s main course is something you have in the freezer and can just pull out and pop in the oven.  If not, here’s the full recipe again which makes a double batch. Oh and be careful when you are filling your second bag, those Ziploc bags are tricky and like to roll off the counter and pour pasta sauce all over your shoe, kitchen rug and cabinet door.  At least that’s what I’ve heard could happen. 

Cheesy Spirals
·         16 oz pasta spirals, cooked
·         2-3 c cooked ground beef
·         2-16oz spaghetti sauce
·         1 can cheddar cheese soup
·         1 tsp black pepper
·         2 tsp Italian seasonings
·         2 c mozzarella cheese
Put half of the cooked pasta into a 9x13 pan for tonight and the other half into a Ziploc bag.  Put half of remaining ingredients (except cheese) into the 9x13 pan and the other half into the Ziploc bag.  Mix everything until well combined.  Top with cheese.  Bake tonight’s pan at 350 for 30-40 minutes, or until bubbly. 

Garlic Bread

Friday
Rocket Dogs (Family Fun)
·         hot dogs
·         prepared breadstick dough (they used Pillsbury brand)
·         skewers
·         cubed cheese
·         mustard/ketchup
 Simply wrap hot dogs in prepared breadstick dough (we used Pillsbury brand) and insert a skewer, letting it protrude at the top.
Bake the dogs according to the dough package's instructions. Add a triangle of cheese for a topper, tie on a tail made from ribbon or aluminum foil, and squirt on stripes of ketchup and mustard.


Grocery Deals 6/22

HEB                        cantaloupe .88, strawberries 1.47/lb, yellow squash .88/lb, corn 3/$1, HEBuddy chicken nuggets (if you buy them for Sunday’s meal, you might as well get the free WW pasta too)

Randalls               grapes .99/lb (vs 1.99/lb Sun Harvest), legs/thighs .88/lb (vs HEB $1), Friday only: 2LB blueberries (yes, pounds) $5

Sprouts                                blueberries 1.49/pt, corn 3/$1, bell peppers .69, lettuce .88, celery .88 (vs HEB $1.88 and they were SO small), tomatoes .99/lb

Sun Harvest        peaches .49/lb, pineapples 1.99, plums .99/lb, red bell peppers .49, celery .88, cukes .49 (vs .69 Sprouts), sweet potatoes .88/lb

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Canning Tomatoes

Since 20% of my followers were looking for something more than just menus and grocery deals that didnt apply to him, I mean them.  Today I thought I'd walk you through how to can tomatoes. 

First off, you have to succesfully grow some fruit.  I completely took this step for granted until last year when every tomato I grew ended up wtih blossom end rot.  Basically every tomato was ruined before it started to ripen.  It was tough to throw out tomato after tomato.  This year, I've had some instances of that again, but God was gracious to my harvest this year and over the last week I picked this sink full of beauties.  Well, I've kept them in the fridge all week as they ripened, not just in the sink.  


I have some nice volunteer basil that came up too, so I'll be making Italian flavored tomatoes as well. 

The bunnies like to eat tomatoes so this is what has ripened out of their reach.  I don't like bunnies anymore. 

The first step is to get your dishwasher empty and fill it with enough jars and bands and run the dishwasher so that it santizes the jars for you. 

Isn't that a lovely dishwasher?  It's the new one after the great dishwashing incident of January where water went everywhere while the old was disconnected.   

Next wash all of your tomatoes, basil, peppers (for Rotel).  Then get a very large pot of water on to boil.  It takes a while to get hot enough (just don't watch it or it never will boil) so you'll need to get it started while you are preparing your tomatoes.  You'll need a second pot of boiling water as well, but it only needs to be as deep as the tomatoes are tall.  Then get a large container filled with ice and cold water.  Pay no attention to the swimming goggles next to the coffee pot.

Cut off the top of the tomatoes where the stem goes and any obvious bad spots.  Place the tomato into the boiling water for about a minute and then using your slitted spoon remove the them to the cold water bath. 


By the time you have all of the tomatoes out of the boiling water, they will be ready to have their skin slide right off. 


After you have all of the tomatoes peeled, which took me just under 20 minutes for this batch, you are ready to fill your jars. 


Oh and another container to catch all of the skins, stems and bad spots is another good idea.  These you can throw into the compost or feed your chickens with, they eat EVERYTHING including baby birds, but that's another post. 

Since I've forgotten to add salt in previous canning sessions I've adopted the practice that the salt must go in the jar first.  I don't know if that is 'right', but it's what I do.  I'm filling pint sized jars so that means 1/2 tsp salt per jar.  I also had enough pepper from the garden that I was able to make 2 jars of Rotel.  I also chopped up an onion that I dug up this morning too.  So I put those items in after the salt.  I picked enough basil to add to four jars and then I had four more jars ready with just salt. 


Then it's time to dice up the tomatoes.  There's plenty of juice on these fruits so periodically you have to dump the extra juice into the current jar you are filling.  Also because the tomatoes don't just fill all the empty space you have to mush them down every once and a while into the jar to be sure that all of the space is taken up. 

When the jars are full of tomatoes with just 1/2" of space left at the top (called headspace in canning lingo) you are ready to get a clean dish towel, or if you are a wild spendthrift a paper towel, and wipe the edge of each jar so that there is no tomato goo or juice left on any of the jars.  Then place the fresh canning lids on top and then use your bands to lock 'em down. 

After that they are ready for the water bath canning in the giant pot.  If you dont have a pot this large, you can get the same affect/effect (ugh) by boiling the jars upside down in a pot that is more shallow, but mostly covering them.  You want the food inside to actually come to a boil as well. 

You can see I've used my trusty sharpie to write on the lids which ones are Italian and which are Rotel.  Yes, you'll still be able to tell once they are canned, but it takes the guessing away that will come in December when you are using these. 

Oh one more tip.  You'll notice in the picture of all the jars in the pot that one jar is off to the side and sort of laying on the top.  Turns out that you shouldn't do this.  About half way through the water-bath processing we heard a pretty loud clink.  It was that jar breaking open from the bottom.  Opps.  I've never had just 8 jars to process and my canner only holds seven.  So that's what I get for being impatient and not wanting to do the processing twice. 

The jars will need to process for 35 minutes at a full boil.  You'll want a lid on your pot just to keep the steam down in the kitchen and you'll also want to turn your A/C on a little cooler as you go sit down to wait on the canning process. 

Canning tongs will help get your jars out, but if you dont have those, well be creative, but be careful those jars are REALLY hot when they come out of the boiling water; it's my scientific side coming out. 

After you take your jars out, place them on a towel on the counter and using pot holders tighten down the lids/bands a little more.  You will also need to check to make sure the jars actually sealed, you know to avoid botulism and all that jazz.  Press down on the lids to check them if they dimple back (a technical term I just made up) they aren't sealed yet.  The seal often happens as they begin to cool off, just keep checking them.  Any jars that don't seal should be either used right away or put in the fridge.

Let the jars cool completely before you put them in the pantry.  If you had a mini catastrophe in your canning process, like me, you might need to wash off the jars before they go in the pantry as well you know to get off the extra tomato juice from the outside.

So for eight seven jars of tomatoes I spent about 30 minutes in the kitchen and at ~$1 per container of tomatoes I saved myself $7, but I also have something freshly packed to eat this winter and there's plenty of satisfaction in that.