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Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

“Free” Chicken Wings

19 May

My husband’s engine  on his truck that he loves dearly went a few weeks ago.  That combined with some other extra expenses and  hiccups in income, are encouraging us to become creative with our thriftiness, getting that truck up and running as soon as we can.

One thing I do is use whole chickens.  I often roast one for a meal and have leftover for soup or a thrifty chicken dish like this.  Then I use the bones for stock.  Another trick to get even more out of one of these little guys is,  taking off the wings, I take them off before I cook the chicken, split them and throw them in a ziplock. You get 4 pieces off of each chicken.  I use at least 2 chickens a month, so in two months, I have 16 chicken wings to cook up.  Easy as that!

I’ll probably have some more good money saving tips coming up, I’m getting pretty good at making breads, not eating out, preparing menus, so some of this should be coming soon!

Head back to We are that Family for more tips on Works for Me Wednesday

 
 

We’re having that? Ewwww!

20 Apr

Does anyone else wonder how those “crunchy” moms get their kids to eat and enjoy all that good stuff? I see other kids happily eating hummus, I read about how they love their raw —-  bar, etc…  I hope to give you a few tips and maybe you can give me some in return.

We’re not super healthy here, but we try to eat mostly whole foods, although the occasional Chips Ahoy gets snuck in.  ;)

Here are some of my tricks:

Dips!! Kids love to dip.  I try to make my own ranch for veggies, or buy it as natural as I can.  Yogurt is great to dip fruit in.  My oldest son used to dip rye toast in yogurt-they will dip almost anything!

Sour cream/Cheese/Chips (I know, I know…)   I am desperately trying to get my kids to eat beans and rice about once a week.  It’s like a torture session.  I can tell the difference between “I really don’t like this” and “It’s not my favorite, I’d rather have chicken nuggets”.  Although they don’t say it, mamma knows. I know they don’t hate the beans and rice, so I am firm.  We had some leftover the other day with quesadillas, I put cheese on it and had them dip it with tortilla chips and they both ate most of it.  I think slowly getting them to eat new things gets them more comfortable with it and eventually, they will be more willing.

Dessert only after good food is eaten-self explanatory.

Crudite before meal-When dinner is finishing up, sometimes I’ll set out carrots, celery, etc.. with ranch for them to snack, it keeps the  hunger away and gets some raw veggies in them.

Give them a small portion of the food they enjoy along with the veggies, or beans, or whatever.  When the plate is clean they can have more of the food they enjoy. My kids (and pretty much every other kid) will inhale the chicken nuggets and leave the carrots.  So we give 2 nuggets and some fruit and vegggies.  When all that is gone they can have 2 or 3 more nuggets.

Nothing else until you eat what I gave you. Sometimes it’s a battle of will.  When I started working oatmeal into our breakfast menu they were miserable,   it was new, it was different and they didn’t WANT  to like it.  If they didn’t eat it for breakfast, it was reheated later for snack, lunch, or whenever they got hungry.  I’m trying to get them to understand we can’t eat our favorite foods every day.  Not everything will be great and exciting.

Another thought I have is feed them whole foods when they are young.  We have so many convenience snacks available now.  My opinion is that these condition their tastes for dry “fake” foods.  *Full disclosure, I use these and they can be lifesavers*   I’m thinking-cereal bars, puffs, these BEYOND overcooked jarred veggie and meat cubes, “Graduate” type foods.  I REALLY try to limit these sorts of snacks, but do use them.  It can be hard to find good foods when the little ones are in that in between stage.  One thing I would use as an easy breakfast are these whole grain waffles, they would be a great snack too.  Bananas, Cooked frozen/fresh veggies,  applesauce, casseroles, mashed potatoes mixed with veggies or cut up meat. I used a baby food grinder too before they ate the pieces-great for any type of pasta or potatoes mixed with veggies. The boys just ate what we ate.  I used some jarred food, but after the initial one food at a time, I switched to mostly table food (saves so much money and they really like it!)

Prayer-In The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omoarian,  there is a chapter where she talks about praying over our children’s eating habits.  Pray for them to be attracted to healthy foods and have a desire to exercise and take care of their body.

Some of these are pretty similar but take a slightly different approach.  It’s good to be firm and consistent, try to make it appetizing and be sensitive.  I always have them try a couple of bites with a good attitude, if I see they really don’t like it, I won’t make them eat it.  I also try to work just one new thing in at a time.  Right now, we’re doing beans and I try to have them once a week, with a yummy dessert that night too.  :)

So what tricks do you have?

We are linked up with Works for Me Wednesday.

 

Healthy and Filling Sandwich *kid approved*

16 Apr

This seems to becoming a food blog, but I thought about it and realized that I’m in a house with 4 boys who eat

ALL. DAY. LONG.

I came across this recipe a little over a year ago, I think it came from Paula Deen, but this is how I do it.   I have never had more than a quarter of one of these, it is sooo fattening.  Little Jeremy has never had much interest in food (until recently)  Around 1 yr of age he went through the “failure to thrive” thing, or as I like to call it “he’s just little!”  thing.  I’m always trying to get something that can fill them up and put on some pounds.Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich

Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana

Mix together:

2 tbs natural peanut butter (enough for a good slathering)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp honey

Spread on your bread ( I use whole wheat)

Slice up half a banana

Top with the other slice of bread and butter each of the outsides

Put a little butter in your pan and grill the sandwich

I have a cinnamon/sugar shaker I shake on each side when it’s done, or you could mix some cinnamon and sugar and coat the sandwich.

This is a couple of times a month sandwich and my boys are very active.  Made with whole grain bread, raw honey, cinnamon, it is high calorie and good for them!  Better than the dr’s suggestions of adding more butter and oil to their foods.. ugggh.

Enjoy!

 

For the love of soup (and homemade stock)

10 Apr

I love soup!  I fell in love while I was in culinary school.  I made potato chowder and all I could think of was watery mashed potatoes.  I was amazed when I tasted it, such a basic recipe but so creamy and full of flavor!   As I went from restaurant to restaurant I branched out more and more.  The last place I worked, the evening “chef”  made beef vegetable, beef vegetable and beef vegetable soup.  It wasn’t bad, but wasn’t anything special and finally I got to show my stuff and snuck something else in.  I had to fight tooth and nail to get him to stop making this stuff in 5 gallon buckets (seriously).  When I went on vacation, I would make batches of soup up and freeze them so he wouldn’t make anymore beef vegetable!

I have recently started making more soup at home.  It is frugal and so yummy and healthy. What I make most frequently is Chicken Vegetable with Brown Rice-pretty basic, but easy to make and the kids like it.   I often make a roast chicken in the crock pot, so here are a few tips on being frugal with your time and budget.

Take a whole chicken and pull the skin up and rub seasoned salt under, reach back into the legs, get it all over.  Place in your crock pot with a half cup-cup of water, maybe some veggies if you’d like, but you don’t have to.  Cook it for 6-8 hrs on low, 4-6 on high.  The juices make a great gravy, if you don’t do gravy, leave the liquid in the crock pot.

When it’s done, Take the meat off the bone and stick the bones back into the crock pot.  Fill with water to cover the bones and throw in any veggie scraps you have around, some salt, a couple bay leaves and peppercorns.  Cook on high for another 6 hours or so (even low overnight).  I just strain mine through a colander into another pot, then dish it out into small containers.

Maybe I’ll share some of my soup recipes soon, I’ll think about it….

*TIPS*

Washed out Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter jars-GREAT glass storage containers, we’re getting away from plastics here.

When I’m making soup, or anything else with celery, onions or carrots, I put the scraps into a ziploc in the freezer, when it’s time to make stock, I throw the veggies in my crock pot with the bones and put the bag back into the freezer, ready to fill again.

 
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Homemade French Fries

02 Apr

These are good and fairly easy.  I didn’t think I could make really good french fries from scratch, even though 5 Guys does…..I googled a recipe and tried it not expecting much, I was pleasantly surprised!  I’ve had lots of potatoes and no french fries in the house, so we’ve had these 3 times already.  I made them with red potatoes once and they weren’t as good as the russets.

Here is how I’ve been doing it:

Cut potatoes into 1/4 inch strips and put into ice water for about 10 minutes.

Heat oil on medium heat, put the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil, if it bubbles up around the handle, it is ready to fry.

Place your first batch of potatoes onto paper towels to remove excess water, then place into pan.  Fry about 10 minutes, they will float when cooked through.   You are not browning them at this point.  Remove from oil and place on another set of paper towels.  Fry up the rest in as many batches as you need to.

Turn up the heat to med-high, wait a minute or so, and place some of the fries back into the pan (I’ve found you can fit a bit more in this stage).   Cook them until they are brown and crispy as you’d like them, put onto paper towels and let them drain a bit.

Salt or season them as you like and enjoy!
A few tips:

I used about a 2 inch deep pan and only had about an inch of oil in it.  Obviously you could use more and cook more fries at a time.  I did 2 batches for 4 people and had plenty.

Also, if you use your oil often for fairly clean foods (like french fries)  you can reuse it.  Restaurants use the same oil for about a week (depending on how busy, but I’ve found that to be a general rule) it more has to do with how much it is used and what it is used for not how old it is.   Breaded items like chicken and fish will get the oil “dirty” quicker.  After it cools, I put mine into an old glass jar, I’ve used it 3 times now and it still looks good.  It’s a good idea to strain out some of the little pieces left behind, but not a big deal.  I”m not sure how long to keep it, but I would say at least a few weeks.

 

3 Grain Waffles

16 Mar

Before I had kids, I was a chef.  I ran the kitchen at an old mansion turned restaurant  for breakfast and lunch .  Our big deal was waffles, and not  your ordinary waffle.   A huge Belgian waffle,  piled high with strawberries, fresh fruit, pecans, ice cream, whip cream, or chocolate chips. You could get any of these or all of the above, then top it off with gooey, warm, homemade caramel syrup.  Besides the fresh fruit, there was nothing healthy about these.  At our house, we do these super yummy 3 grain waffles.  I’ll be straight and say the hubby does not approve, but I think the pickiest of kids would like these, mine all love them.  They’re a great finger food for babies babies who are at this stage.   My littlest had nothing to do with baby cereal, these were great for him to get a decent breakfast.  I make a double batch,what we don’t eat goes into  Tupperware or Ziplock and into the freezer, pull one out when I need one and stick it in the toaster and that works for me!

3 Grain Waffles

Mix:

1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour

1/2 C Unbleached All Purpose Flour

1/4 C rolled oats

2 TBS  ground flax seed

1 tsp baking soda

pinch salt

Then add:

1-1/4 Cups low-fat buttermilk (I usually use regular milk)

2 TBS maple syrup

1 LG Egg, lightly beaten

1 TBS canola oil

1 tsp vanilla

Mix together and let set a couple minutes.  Cook according to your waffle makers directions.  This recipe also makes great pancakes.   Serve with butter  and maple syrup, or Strawberries and Chocolate Chips, or Whip Cream, or…..you get the picture.

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday hosted by We are That Family



 

Weekend Baking and Gardening

15 Mar

Friday night the hubby and I got to go on a “date”, we went to a small, local homeschool convention.  It was good and I am looking forward to attending  the big one in Orlando next year.  We did pick up Old Boy’s 2nd grade math curriculum, we decided on Singapore. Since we couldn’t wait and were done with all his first grade, we started it today.  I love his love for learning!  OK, it’s not always that perfect, try to get the boy to write a 3 sentence summary, he’d rather pick up all his brother’s toys for a month.  Seriously.

This weekend I tried homemade hot dog  rolls-easy and soooo good.  Sunday we used them for Philly Cheese Steaks and I even got the hubbies approval.  Not the healthiest, made with white flour, but without all the preservatives and such.  Did I mention they were good?  The article mentions they aren’t cheaper than the store bought, but our store brands are at least $1 and a decent pack of rolls is $2-$3.  I roughly figured the price of the homemade is less than $1 and you get 12 vs. 8 of the store brand, so they’re pretty frugal too.

We have a tiny spot in front of our house where I have an attempt at a garden.  Old Boy and I dug it up and planted 2 blueberry bushes, and 2 tomato plants, I know, why so much???  I intend to plant some cucumbers and lettuce in the next few days, we shall see what happens.  I won’t plant anymore for now because so far, I haven’t had the greatest results.

That and some grocery shopping, reading, relaxing and playing outside in the gorgeous weather sums up our weekend .