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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Weekly Menu 12/3+


Saturday

okra gumbo
rice
sliced bananas in orange juice
Sunday

shrimp scampi
angel hair pasta
spinach
 Monday

el rancho grande
corn
banana pudding
 Tuesday

pork roast
rice
green beans
 Wednesday

chicken alfredo
noodles
broccoli
 Thursday

ham
eggs
pancakes
Friday

sausage wraps
tortillas
chocolate chip cookies

 Saturday
Turkey and Sausage Gumbo (365 Ways to Cook Chicken)
§  2 tsp black pepper
§  ½ -1 ½ tsp cayenne pepper (depending on how hot you like it)
§  1 ½ paprika
§  1 tsp dry mustard
§  1 tsp garlic powder
§  1 tsp salt
§  ¼ c (1/2 stick) + ½ c (1 stick) butter
§   ½ c flour
§  ¾ c chopped onion
§  ¾ c chopped celery
§  ¾ c chopped bell pepper
§  2 cloves garlic finely chopped
§  1 ½ quarts chicken/turkey stock
§  2 c sliced sausage (andouille or kielbasa)
§  1 bay leaf
§  2-3 c cooked chicken or turkey
§  2 c frozen or fresh okra

Combine all spice ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.  Melt ¼ c butter in a large dutch oven add chopped veggies and cook until tender.  Remove to medium sized bowl.  Melt the ½ c butter and add flour.  Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the mixture turns nut brown; up to 30 minutes.  Whisk in 1c of stock to the roux; until smooth.  Add remaining broth, stirring with a whisk until well blended.  Add veggies and seasonings, chicken, bay leaf, sausage; cook 40 minutes.  Add okra and cook for an additional 15 minutes or until thickened.   Serve over rice. 

  1. This is a super easy recipe and you can thaw the shrimp in a bowl of cold water in less than 15 minutes.   
Sunday
Shrimp Scampi
  • 1 pkg (16 oz) frozen raw shrimp (31-35 per lb), thawed, peeled, and patted dry
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Melt butter and mix with pressed garlic; set aside. Heat oil in a large fry pan (cast iron is best). Toss shrimp with flour and salt until coated, then add to heated oil. Cook shrimp on first side until pink color creeps about 1/3 of the way up the side, then turn over. Cook until thoroughly cooked through. Add butter and garlic mixture and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes, stirring gently. Serve immediately over pasta.

Angel Hair Pasta

Spinach Salad
  • 2-3 c washed spinach leaves
  • 2 boiled eggs, sliced
  • fresh sliced mushrooms
§  2-3T bacon bits

Monday
1.       This is so much fun to say, especially if you really roll your R’s.  Reminds me of Sra. Chapman’s Spanish class…Erre con erre cigarro…. Sorry I got side tracked. 
2.       If you want to get crazy indulgent with the pudding you can substitute ½ cup of cream for the ½ cup of the milk.  You can finish using the rest of the cream on Wednesday. 
El Rancho Grande
·         2 c cooked ground beef
·         6 tsp (1 packet) taco seasoning mix
·         1 small bell pepper, chopped
·         1 small onion, chopped
·         ½ c chopped celery
·         16 oz can of diced tomatoes, undrained
·         2 c water
·         1 c egg noodles (6 oz)
Sautee the veggies, then add in remaining ingredients and simmer 20 minutes.  Top with American cheese if desired
Corn
Banana Pudding
Layer vanilla or banana flavored pudding with slices of fresh bananas and ‘nilla wafers. 

Tuesday
Pork Roast
§  3-4 lb pork roast
§  1 can green chile enchilada sauce
§  Salt & pepper
§  Onion, chopped
Combine all ingredients in a crock pot and cook all day.

Rice
Green Beans

Wednesday
1.       This cooks up very quickly and is SO good. 
2.       If you used some of the cream for you banana pudding, you’ll use up the rest of the pint tonight, plus that means you won’t need to get a measuring cup dirty tonight; one less dish to wash!

Creamy Chicken Alfredo
·         ¼ c flour
·         6 boneless chicken
·         1t salt
·         2T olive oil
·         3 cloves garlic
·         1T minced onion
·         1 ½ c whipping cream
·         1/3 c parmesan cheese
·         ½ t pepper
·         1T chopped parsley

Sprinkle chicken with salt and dredge chicken through flour in shallow dish.  Heat 2T oil in large skillet.  Add chicken and cook, turning once until golden; about 2-4 minutes per side.  Chicken does not need to be fully cooked.  Place chicken in a 9x13 pan.  Heat remaining oil in skillet add garlic and onion; cook until garlic is fragrant and onion is tender about 1-2 minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high; add whipping cream, parmesan and pepper.  Cook until sauce is bubbly and slightly thickened; about 2-3 minutes.  Spoon sauce over chicken in dish.  Bake about 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees or until chicken reaches 180 degrees. 

Pasta
Broccoli

Thursday
Ham (perhaps leftover from Thanksgiving?)
Eggs
Pancakes
Grapes or Oranges

Friday
Sausage Wraps
Heat your favorite sausage link and wrap in a tortilla with mustard or ketchup
Carrot Sticks
Chocolate Chip Cookies
§  1 c butter, softened
§  ¾ c brown sugar
§  ¾ c sugar
§  1 tsp vanilla
§  2 eggs
§  1 tsp baking soda
§  1 tsp salt
§  2 ½ c flour
§  1 c chocolate chips
Cream butter and sugars together, add vanilla and eggs.  Mix until very creamy almost fluffy if you can get it to that stage.  The softer your butter the easier it is to get there.  Add in soda and salt, then slowly add the flour.  Finally chocolate chips.  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. 

Save some for later: place a piece of wax paper on a rimmed cookie sheet.  Scoop dough onto paper and place in freezer until frozen.  Move to a Ziploc bag or other storage container.  Next time someone wants a freshly baked cookie you are ready to go with just extending the baking time a few minutes.  

Grocery Ads 11/30+


Sprouts announced yesterday that they will be closing three (Anderson Ln, Brodie Ln, BeeCaves) of their six Austin locations.  If you have a chance to go by one of the stores that are closing you’ll find everything marked down 30%, but the regular sale prices will not apply there.  The Anderson Ln store had a lease expiring at the end of the year and they chose not to renew it with the Great Hills location just a mile or so up the road.   This is a great opportunity to get the unique ingredients that you might not otherwise want to splurge on.  The last store closing I went to I picked up several jars of artichoke hearts, olives and a specialty mustard, in case you were wondering. :) 

Sprouts in Great Hills, Round Rock and S Lamar will remain open.  Here are their ads for the week:  Blackberries .69 (vs .97HEB), grapefruit .49, pears .99/lb, apples .99/lb, red grapes 1.50/lb (vs1.77 HEB), avocado .69 (vs .88 Randalls), roma .69’lb, squash & zucchini .77/lb, red/yellow/orange  peppers .77, cucumbers .49, green bells .49, grape tomatoes 1.50/pt

HEB:  zucchini .77/lb, organic potatoes 1.97/5# (one of the dirty dozen), apples .97/lb, clementines $5/5#, blueberries 1.97, pork ribeyes 1.97/lb,
My favorite ‘new’ item of the week?  Microwavable potatoes, washed and ready to be cooked.  Uhhh, all potatoes are microwavable, but thanks for the special packaging.

Randall’s  pork rorast 1.29/lb
Friday only $5 each: wild caught lobster tails, 5# clementines

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Frugal Feast Fiasco

Many of you know that I work really hard at finding the best deals on every little thing.  It's not that I am unwilling to spend money, it's just that I want it to be a wise purchase and if I can find it for the lowest possible price, then all the better.

Now it's time to apply that same logic to Thanksgiving dinner.

I bought a turkey for 74 cents a pound.  It wasn't the lowest price out there, but I didn't need to buy $35 worth of other stuff at the store that had the lowest price per pound so I felt like I had made the wisest choice.

I bought an enormous bird, 22.5lbs, because we had 17 people to feed.  When I brought it home Saturday before the holiday I didn't even bother putting it into the freezer because our fridge works so well I knew it would take all these days to defrost it.

By Tuesday it was still solidly frozen.  We, L & I, wanted to brine the turkey starting on Tuesday night, Wednesday morning at the latest.  So I started the water defrost on Tuesday morning. All was going well until this cutie showed up...

Ok, that's not really fair to c, but it makes for a fair excuse on my part.  AND he IS really cute; in my highly biased opinion.

Have you heard that too many cooks spoil the broth?  Well it could apply to a turkey too.  There was a definite miscommunication between the two cooks working on this bird, but I did get it into the fridge Tuesday night, and it was finally thawed.

Anyway, Wednesday morning when I opened up the fridge at O-dark-thirty to get J and L some breakfast there was a horrible smell.  I tried desperately to ignore it.  It smelled like bad poultry.  Accck!  Again, be thankful there's no smell-o-vision here.

You know how when something smells bad, you just have to get someone else's opinion?  When L came into the kitchen I had him smell the fridge too.  Yep, it smelled bad.  I would have to buy another turkey.  And this one would have to be fresh.  The first thing out of my mouth?  Do you know how much a fresh turkey is?  I bet they are $1.50/lb!!!!  I didn't even KNOW how much a fresh turkey was.  Well, L did have a point, we couldn't poison everyone.

That was a fair point so DDIL J and I headed to town to pick up a fresh turkey, they were $2/lb.  She also scouted out that if we needed to buy turkey #3 we could buy one already smoked, and we would only have to heat it up.  Should a fourth be necessary she pointed out that we could get that at the BBQ place that had them already cooked, and warm.  Thankfully we didn't need to use either of those plans.

Here's where the story takes a funnier turn.  Later that afternoon after turkey #2 was in the brine getting all ready for the smoking it was to get starting that night, I started to clean out the fridge to make room for the leftovers that would accumulate after the big feast.

What did I find that was interesting?  A bag full of rotting bean sprouts.  In fairness, they 'looked ok' from the top, but when I picked them up they smelled like rotten poultry!  Seriously!

I quickly took them outside to the compost pile (only stopping to snap a picture after the bag was empty) and when I came back the smell, ALL of the smell, was gone!  Really! There was nothing wrong with turkey #1, except that it was keeping company with fowl smelling bean sprouts (pun intended).  All we could do was laugh, and we did!


Some of us more than others!

After baking turkey #1 yesterday, and eating it for dinner, I have a baked and de-boned turkey in my freezer ready to use for whatever I can come up with.... oh and 3 quarts of turkey stock.

I guess it all worked out with the two turkeys, and these two turkeys were pretty good together too over the weekend.  I'm sure thankful for both of them.  


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Weekly Menu 11/26+


Saturday

hamburgers
tater tots
Sunday

baked chicken
buttered noodles
green beans
 Monday

Italian roast
cream cheese potatoes
carrots
 Tuesday

chicken spaghetti
salad
garlic bread
 Wednesday

broccoli soup
crusty bread
orange slices
 Thursday

cheesy spirals
salad
pudding
Friday

taco cresscent bake
apple crisp


Saturday
Hamburgers
Tater Tots

Sunday
1.       Bake extra chicken pieces tonight, remove them from the bone for Tuesday night’s dinner.
2.       As you prepare dinner tonight you can also get everything ready and into the crock pot for tomorrow’s meal.  Remove the crock from the fridge in the morning, turn it on and you’ll be set for the day. 
Baked Chicken
Place bone-in chicken pieces on rimmed cookie sheet.  Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, plus any other spices you might like.   Bake for about an hour at 350 degrees. 
Buttered Noodles
Green Beans

Monday
1.       Tonight we use the crock-pot.  You can get things started in the morning or have it all assemble the night before and have most of your meal ready as soon as you walk in the door. 
Italian Roast
·         2-3 lb beef roast
·         12 oz beer (I like Shiner Bock)
·         1 onion, coarsely chopped
·         1 packet Good Seasons Italian dressing mix
Add onions then roast to crock pot, pour beer over the top, sprinkle entire contents of mix over roast.  Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours.  If you’d like to make gravy when you get home, pour juice from roast into a saucepan, reserving about 1 c in a measuring cup.  Add 1-2T cornstarch to this and ensure all lumps are gone.  Bring juice to a boil, add cornstarch mixture and simmer until thickened. 

Cream Cheese Potatoes
·         1-2 lb red potatoes, cut into cubes if larger than quarter size
·         4-6 oz Cream cheese with chives
Boil potatoes until tender.  Add cream cheese, blend and serve. 

Carrots

Tuesday
  1. This recipe makes a LOT of chicken spaghetti.  This is a good one to share with a neighbor or friend, or put in your freezer. 

Chicken Spaghetti
  • 1 boiled or otherwise cooked chicken removed from the bones ~3-4 c.
  • 1c chopped celery
  • 1c chopped onion
  • 1 chopped bell pepper
  • 16 oz spaghetti, cooked in chicken stock
  • 1 stick butter
If you need to boil the chicken today, reserve the liquid for cooking the spaghetti.  Melt butter and saute celery, onion and pepper; combine with chicken in 9x13 pan.  Add in spaghetti. 
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 c flour
  • 4 c milk
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 lb velveeta
Stir these ingredients over a low heat until well blended.  Pour sauce over chicken,veggies and spaghetti mixture in pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 

Salad
Garlic Bread

Wednesday
Broccoli Cheese Soup
  • 1c chopped onion
  • 4T butter
  • ½ c flour
  • 4 c chicken stock OR 4 c water + 6 tsp chicken bouillon
  • 3-4 c broccoli, chopped
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 c milk
  • 2 c chicken (optional)
  • 4-5 slices American cheese
Saute onion in butter until translucent.  Add flour until just slightly brown.  Add chicken stock all at once and stir until flour mixture is well blended into broth.  Add broccoli and simmer for 15 minutes until broccoli is tender and soup is thickened.  Add chicken if desired until heated and cheese. 

Beer Bread (All Recipes)
  • 12 oz beer
  • 3 c self-rising flour
  • 3T sugar
In large bowl mix together flour and sugar.  Add beer and continue to mix.  Batter will be sticky.  Pour into a greased 9x5 loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes
Oranges

Thursday
1.       This recipe is another one that doubles very well. 

Cheesy Spirals (Menus4Moms)
§  16 oz. package pasta spirals
§  2 cups cooked ground beef
§  28 oz. jar spaghetti sauce, any flavor
§  1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup, undiluted
§  1 tsp. black pepper
§  1 ½ tsp. Italian seasoning
§  2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Cook pasta spirals according to package instructions. Drain and rinse; return to pan. Add 4 cups cooked beef, spaghetti sauce, cheddar cheese soup, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Stir over low heat until well mixed and mixture is of uniform consistency. Remove from heat and stir in shredded mozzarella cheese. Spray 1- 9”x12” pan and 1- 8”x8” pan with non-stick cooking spray and pour mixture into pans. Bake the larger pan at 350°F for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly. Wrap the smaller pan for the freezer and label as "Cheese Spirals: Thaw. Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes or until heated through."
Salad
Pudding

Friday
1.       This is a good night to bake dessert, because you’ll have the oven on already.  The crisp will bake a little longer than the taco bake, but will still be warm when you are ready to serve. 
Taco Crescent Bake
·         1 can Grands biscuits; flaky layers
·         1 c cooked ground beef
·         1 c ranch style beans, or pinto beans
·         1 packet or 6 tsp taco seasoning mix
·         ¾ c water
·         ½ c cottage cheese
·         ½ c picante sauce
·         1 c grated cheddar cheese
Simmer beef, beans and seasoning mix with water for about 10 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Meanwhile, press biscuits into the bottom and up the sides of a 9x13 (or slightly smaller) baking dish.  Mix cottage cheese and salsa and spread onto biscuit dough.  Top with ground beef mixture.  Top that with cheddar cheese.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. 

Apple Crisp
·         3-4 apples, cut into small pieces (skin still on)
·         1 c Bisquick
·         ½ c oatmeal
·         ½ c brown sugar
·         ¼ c melted butter
·         1 tsp cinnamon
Place apples in a baking dish.  Combine remaining ingredients until crumbly.  Spread over top of apples.  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. 



Thursday, November 17, 2011

A few thoughts on the Thanksgiving Ham


If spiral sliced ham is important to your Thanksgiving meal I’ll ask you to consider this option that I recently noticed.  HEB has a deal currently where if you buy one of their fully-cooked spiral sliced hams you can get a ‘free’ turkey. 
 
Of course there is a limit that the turkey must be less than 12 lbs to be free.  IF a 12lb turkey is good enough for your family, great.  Also consider that the lowest priced turkey I’ve seen with no other restrictions has been $0.69/lb.  So if you got an exactly 12 lb turkey you would save a grand total of $8.28.  Those savings would have to offset any ham that you might purchase. 
 
I noted that the HEB spiral sliced ham, the one in the fancy wrapper, with the cup of ‘maple’ sugar attached to make the glaze cost 2.99/lb.  On average the hams weighed 10 lbs. 
 
Then I was wandering through WalMart and noticed that the non-fancy foil-like wrapper spiral ham cost 1.88/lb.  You miss out on the glaze of course, but you could also save $11.10 on that same 10lb ham.  Which by the way would more than offset that ‘free’ turkey you received. 
 
So if you don’t need a fancy piece of mylar wrapped around your ham, you could save $1.11/lb. 
 
If you were willing to bake your ham, HEB has those for $1.57/lb.  It is not a complicated process and only requires placing it in a pan and turning on the oven.  Oh you do have to do some math to figure out how long your particular ham needs to bake so that it gets cooked all the way, but that is calculated on weight and is available on the internet here or here or in a general purpose cookbook. 
 
Be wary of the tradition of lopping off the ends of the ham the way you saw your grandmother and mother do that.  Someone had a small pan back in the day and it doesn’t actually make it taste better.  J