Saturday, June 22, 2013

Muffins and my summer meal plan

My goal in the summer is to not turn on the oven. I use the oven a lot so I don't have to work to hard at the supper hour. My kids are nuts after 4 pm and I am usually cranky. So I like to put supper in the oven at nap time, and pull it out ready to eat at 5pm. It looks like a hot week is coming. So my meal plan for this week is Tonight -hamburgers and hot dogs. Sunday -BBQ pork chops and potatoes, salad Monday - Stew in the crock pot, Tuesday - Spaghetti (with extra meat cooked for taco's) Also use these leftovers to make chili for next week. Wednesday - Taco's or Taco salad. Thursday - Chicken breast on the BBQ, rice, and salad, Friday - extra Chicken cooked from night before in a Caesar salad plus eat up leftovers out of the fridge. We will eat fruit and muffins for snacks. Lunch is usually sandwiches, kraft dinner, or soup with cheese and crackers. Another great meal is stir fry. I love stir fry but my family doesn't. Also eggs, bacon breakfast style supper. This is a great summer meal. I made muffins this morning. I hope to get baking done this weekend in the morning while it is cool. Then we will have snacks without the kids eating all the fruit up on Monday. Also I suggest making a quiche while you are baking since it is a great lunch that can be kept a few days and eaten cool. This recipe is from 'Let's break bread together' United Church cookbook. This is my favorite cookbook and every recipe in it turns out for me. I make 'Blueberry bran muffins' I use the last cup of raisin bran cereal instead of all bran. The end of the bag that no one wants to eat. Today I put in one cup of chopped rhubarb in it instead of blueberries, Also i used 3/4 cup of milk and 1 -100gram expired container of yogurt. All the individual cups of yogurt that don't get eaten up in time I use in my muffin batter. Also I split 1/2 white flour and 1/2 whole wheat flour. Here goes. Blueberry Bran Muffins 2 eggs, 1 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, 1 cup all bran cereal. Beat eggs, stir in milk and oil. Add all bran and let stand for 5 mins. Combine 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of white sugar, 4 tsp of baking powder, 1 tsp of salt, Add to bran mixture, stirring until just blended. Fold in fruit. Spoon into greased muffin tins, 3/4 full. Bake at 400 for 20 mins or until brown.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tips for canning

I am not an expert on canning. My mother has made me paranoid about contamination and exploding jars. Every summer I can jams and salsa. They are both so high in sugar (and salsa has vinegar) that the risk is less than canning say - stewed tomatoes or unsweetened applesauce. I have done pickled beets, dill and bread and butter pickles too. They keep for YEARS. I know this cuz my family won't eat the ones I canned 3 years ago. I have gotten much faster at canning. The prep is always a lot of work but I enjoy cooking so it is fun for me. In the last two years when the kiddo's were babies I did all the prep one day and the cooking in the next. Today one of the local strawberry farm opened. Emily and I picked 2 - 4litre baskets. They cost $13. I bought 1 box of certo and 2 bags of sugar totaling $10. I made about 12 cups of jam. It is still cheaper than buying jam at the store but it is a lot of work. I always think that canning is not necessarily cheaper but I do it cuz I enjoy it. Plus homemade tastes SO much better. The best reason to can food is because you have a garden. This keeps your healthy vegetables year round. It cuts down on your grocery bill and you can feel good about eating less preservatives. I love opening a jar of food out of my cupboard and knowing this was something I provided all on my own. It feels like I cheated 'the system'. My trick for canning is to use the dishwasher. It saves me a lot of hassle and time. I fill it up with the jars, sealers and lids. I run the dishwasher first. While it is running I clean and prep my food. Jam doesn't take that long to cook so don't put it on the stove til the dishwasher is starting the sanitation cycle. The dishwasher gets so hot I take the jars and lids out as I need them. Keep the door closed as much as possible. The jars pop with in the hour of sealing the food in them. It works really well for me. I also freeze my tomatoes whole, fresh from the garden. When I pull them out of the freezer I just run them under hot water and the skins fall right off. Perfect for chopping into salsa for caning. Blanching tomatoes is a lot of work. This freezing way means that if you don't have enough tomatoes to make a batch of salsa all at once you just keep adding them to the freezer til you do. genius. Another super tip is if you have a friend that cans as well - do a trade. Trade jam for pickles. My friend make green tomato salsa and I make red spicy salsa so we split a batch. My aunt makes a beef chutney. I have a couple jars but I don't need a whole batch. My mom makes raspberry jam and chili sauce and I trade with her my salsa and strawberry jam. Canning also makes great thank you gifts. Who doesn't love homemade food!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Homemade Pizza

I used to own a pizza place. It seems a long way from the daily grind I live now. But yes I used to have staff and an income. I didn't make pizza for a couple years after I sold it. I didn't think my oven could do justice to my recipes compared to stone oven I had at the pizza place. My friend Kate gave me her homemade pizza dough recipe and I am trying to make it my own. I have made this few times now and though it is nothing like 'Village Pizza'. I do like getting the kids involved and we have made it a rainy day, use up the leftovers in the fridge favorite. Pizza 2 1/2 cup flour, 2 1/4 tsp yeast, 1/2 tsp sugar, and salt, 1 cup warm water, 2tbsp olive oil. I put yeast, water, sugar in mixer and let sit. Then add oil, salt, and 2 cups flour mixture. Add the rest of flour until soft ball forms, not too sticky, then kneed for a few min. Set aside until ready to use. I use ragu spaghetti sauce for pizza sauce. Then canned pineapple, sliced meat, pepper, mushrooms. Ashley likes to make 'pizza faces' and Emily like to eat the toppings and not eat the cooked pizza. Bake 450 for 10 to 15 mins.

cleaning out the fridge

Well my husband (who I like today) watched the kids so I could do a quick run to the store. I needed juice, fruit and potatoes. I forgot potatoes. Monday's I clean out my fridge. When I got back the kiddo's were napping so I started cleaning. I found my veggies getting soft. I made Beef Stroganoff for supper but while I was prepping that I chopped and peeled onions and carrots and divided them into 2 large ziplock bags, one for chili and one for beef stew. I also chopped celery and added it. I cut carrots and celery sticks to go with supper. I had leftover beef stock and one soft tomato so I added that to the beef stew bag. I put that in the freezer. My plan is to add the leftover beef stroganoff to this bag when we are done supper tonight. I put 1 tbsp of chili powder into the chili freezer bag with some opened salsa from the back the fridge. Later this week we will have spaghetti and I will add the leftovers to the chili bag. I wrote on the bags what I put in them. I will need to add meat and potatoes to the stew and beans to the chili but this will make supper easier when I pull it out some busy morning. It will be hot soon and I have been thinking about using my crockpot more. I hope this helps you think about how to use up what you have in the fridge. I hate wasting food. Most soft veggies can be froze straight from the fridge in ziplock bags. I have froze raw squash, onions, carrots, peppers and celery. They can easily be used in soups and stews. Unfortunately they will squishy but the nutritional value is still there. When I cook my noodles for Beef Stroganoff I will be making a greek pasta salad for tomorrow's lunch. I still have cucumbers and tomatoes and peppers to use up. If i plan ahead I should have enough meals out of my fridge to get us to the weekend before we need to get more groceries. Good luck to your family meals. I hope these ideas help.