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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

I put this together last night, using ingredients from my pantry. It was very easy and delicious.

6-ingredient Crockpot Stew

2 large pork-chops, cooked and chopped into small pieces

4 potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and chopped

1 pkg. (10 oz)  frozen spinach (you could also used fresh, I just happened to have frozen spinach on hand)

1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes

1 1/2 to 2 cups of beef broth

1 (14 oz) can of chickpeas (or any type of bean will do)

Put the ingredients in the crockpot and stir well to combine. Cook on low for 8 hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper. I didn’t add salt and thought it was just fine. Serve with a crusty bread.

You could also serve this over rice. If you want the soup to have more liquid, simply add more broth. My children really loved it.

If you want to try your hand or spoon at kneadless bread which is seriously so easy that a child could do it, this is the recipe I use.  http://steamykitchen.com/168-no-knead-bread-revisited.html  The column is a little long, but the recipe at the end is more than worth the read. Just remember to plan ahead. You have to start the bread about 24 hours before you want to eat it. Yesterday, after eating dinner with the family, I chopped up the remaining pork chops (minus the bones) and assembled the stew in the crockpot. I put the crockpot in the refrigerator and then mixed up the bread. It took me all of 15 minutes to make the stew and mix up the bread.

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Two new recipes

You are in luck my friends. I created two recipes this weekend that were really great. The first, a cookie recipe, is based off a cookbook recipe, but I have adapted it so much that I consider it my own. It may not be unique, but I think it tastes fabulous. The second recipe, Green Chili Beef Stew, came out of sheer desperation. I had a steak that I needed to use and I needed to make the meal in the crockpot. The chili is very, very mild and I can heartily recommend it. If you try either of these recipes, let me know what you think. I am prone to typos so let  me know if anything seems off.

Chocolate-chip Oatmeal Craisin Cookies

Makes 6 dozen cookies

1 ½ cups white sugar

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

3 cups quick-cooking rolled oats

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup craisins

1 cup flaked coconut

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar, and butter. Mix well until mixture is light and fluffy. Add vanilla and 2 eggs to mixture. Beat well. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well. Add oats, chocolate chips, craisins, and flaked coconut and blend well.

Drop cookies by rounded teaspoonfuls on cookie sheet. Bake for 8-12 minutes. Let cool for 1 minute on baking sheet for removing them.

Green Chili Beef Stew

Serves 4-6

1 pound steak, cubed

2 tablespoons flour

Salt

Pepper

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 red onion, diced

1 garlic clove

5-6 small red potatoes, cubed

2-3 stalks of celery, chopped

1 can diced green chilies

2 cups beef broth (can use bouillon and 2 cups water)

1 tsp. cumin

In a large Ziploc bag, toss the beef cubes with salt, pepper and flour until cubes are coated. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Brown the beef cubes in the oil. Put the browned beef cubes in a large crock pot. Be sure to scrape up any browned bits on the pan because they add great flavor to the stew. Add the rest of the ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 6 hours on high.

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Indelible Marks

Three years have past since moving back to the States after living in Sweden for 5 1/2 years.

Some things about my experience in Sweden have left indelible marks on me.

I still think words in Swedish and have to translate them back to English. It’s funny when I do it as it doesn’t really have a discernible pattern.

I still debate endlessly with myself whether or not I should call a doctor. So my child could have a fever of 102 plus a rash and I hestitate. Should I call? If I do, will they get me in? If they give me an appointment, it will probably be just a virus. And then they’ll make me feel stupid for bringing in my child to the doctor for a virus. Never mind that the pediatrician is always happy to see us and never makes me feel stupid for bringing in a child with a virus. I just can’t get the picture of Swedish health care out of my head.

I still apologise to the doctor for bringing my sick child into the office–as if I’m wasting their time. Perhaps I endured some psychological trauma as a result of medical experiences in Sweden???

American chocolate has been ruined forever for me. I can’t eat it. I find myself dreaming about Swedish chocolate.

I now know that a fresh, ripe pear is one of the best fruits on earth. Until living in Sweden, I had never tasted a ripe pear–just canned ones. I still search for that  elusive perfect pear in the U.S.

I have developed a taste for good cheese. Sadly, my budget limits my cheese buying.

I miss riding my beautiful pink bike.

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I am sure I am boring the few readers I have with my never-ending musings on my small domestic pursuits. Whether you get a kick out of reading my domestic triumphs and failures, I get a kick of recording them. Some small part of me wants to trivialize the work I am doing at home, but fortunately the larger part of me realizes that I am doing important things. Creating a home that runs well and is happy is good, honest work. And that, according to Elder  D. Todd Christofferson, is God’s work. And so I plug along, recording my feelings about my work and boring you all. Oh well, you don’t have to read if you are falling asleep from my rapturous descriptions of washing dishes and vacuuming my carpet.

So week 2 went smoothly.

I’m reading my scriptures and the  conference articles daily. I’m making progress, checking off chapters and articles. I will finish reading the conference talks by the end of the month. I’ll continue to listen to them while I clean or scrapbook just to keep the thoughts and ideas fresh in my mind. I won’t keep a notebook about the articles  after I finish reading them. That will give me more time to read more in the D&C. I’m not just reading, but keeping a notebook about my thoughts and impressions as I read. So that is time-consuming. I’ve also committed to reading earlier in the day as opposed to the end, when I’m tired and not great at focusing on the doctrine in the sections. Reading daily feels good and is really helping me. My husband is away on a business trip and I find that I need to be at my best because no one is there to pick up the slack. I’ve felt a lot of strength and help from studying the scriptures.

I’ve already fulfilled two of my creating goals. I finished the quilt and hung it on my wall. And I completed my December/Christmas 2010 album. Finishing those projects really gave me a boost in happiness. I’m making good headway on my 2006 album. I have about 29 groups of pictures to finish. I enjoy reflecting on that year. I’m at the point in my album where my daughter was born. She’s four now and a real firecracker. I love to look back at her baby pictures and remember those happy times.

I started stretching and doing some exercises while I watch netflix in the evening. I need to go to bed earlier, but that’s proven tough because I am often chatting with my husband on the computer at that time. He is in Saudi Arabia and with the 8 hour time difference, talking to him around 10 p.m. is my only option. The kids get so excited seeing their dad on the webcam that conversation is impossible. And I’m not sleeping well because I don’t sleep well when I’m not beside my husband. I’m still managing to get along during the day without a nap, so that is good.

I already wrote about my cooking goals. I’m very happy about where that is going. I do think that in two weeks, I’ll need to start groups of recipes, with shopping lists that I can just pull out and use for shopping. That wouldn’t be too hard and I could create a binder with the recipes and shopping lists. Hmmm . . . something to think about.

My major goal this year is to reduce the stress and tension of the morning preparations for school and the evening homework/dinner/scripture/reading/bedtime routines. Those two times of the day are typically my most difficult. I admit, I don’t feel at my best and have yelled far too much and often at my kids.

So, I’m doing some new things:

1. Get up at 6:15 and wake the kids at 6:30.

I bought an alarm clock for the kids that says really funny things when it goes off. The kids have been getting up at 6:15 without my help and are downstairs, dressed by 6:30.  This routine has been working so well that I think I can incorporate the next phase of the morning routine: piano lessons and piano practice. I want my kids to learn and I’m an experienced and excellent teacher. This is our best time for that to happen.

2. Get the sink ready to wash dishes.

Before we eat, I empty the drain rack (we don’t have a dishwasher) and fill the sink with hot, soapy water. This simple step has really reduced my workload. The kids wash their own dishes after eating.  In 15 minutes all the dishes from the meal are washed. The payoff for this simple step is huge. I used to let things pile up and then would dread going into the kitchen. I hate washing dishes, but don’t mind it when I only do it for 15 minutes. And being able to cook in a clean kitchen for every meal is awesome. Today, I was really tired after lunch. I wanted to take a nap after lunch and was tempted to skip my simple steps. But knowing that I would have to clean it eventually galvanized me into action. Within 10 minutes, all the dishes were washed and the table and counters were wiped.

3. Reduce my personal workload by having the kids help more with chores, cleaning and picking up.

Ideally, I want my bathrooms cleaned, kitchen floor mopped, furniture and knicknacks dusted, etc. once a week. That hasn’t always been happening, because I have other responsibilities that are time-consuming. But I function poorly and more grouchy when my house isn’t clean and organized.

The kids have been cleaning their rooms once a week instead of once a month. The boys have cleaned the bathrooms and my oldest son mopped the kitchen this week. That’s really made a big difference for me.

We pick up the living room and library each evening, so the house is tidy when we go to bed.

4. Start the bedtime routine at 6 p.m.

I suppose my readers think I am crazy about this, but my children need a quiet, peaceful routine that isn’t rushed before bedtime. And yes, I’m putting them to bed at 7 p.m. –all of them. Studies have consistently shown that children need more sleep than they get. My oldest son, in particular, is a nightmare when he doesn’t sleep.

Overall, things are going much smoother at home. Because of my cooking routines, cleaning routines, and scripture routines I find that I’m better prepared to cope with the morning and evening rush. I’m happier and yelling less. I find that when I keep up with these simple routines, I have much more time to spend with my kids and work on my projects. It really pays off.

Things I want to focus on this week:

1. Get to bed earlier.

2. Read every night with my son.

3. Start piano lessons.

4. Read scriptures earlier in the day.

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And the verdict is. . .

In an effort to work on my cooking goals, I tried something new for me. I  recently subscribed to Everyday Food magazine–a Martha Stewart magazine and found a section that I just love. It has a five day menu complete with a shopping list. I decided to give it a go rating it in three areas: affordability, quality of the recipes, and time-saving.

Affordability

I spent about $70 for five meals that were well-rounded and balanced. I consider that fairly reasonable. I didn’t waste anything and had just what I needed. I had leftovers from each meal, which tells me that I would have had enough for husband, if he were home. Even though each recipe said it served 4, I was able to feed all six of us at home and would have been easily able to feed Brent as well.

Quality of the Recipes

The recipes were interesting in a good way. They were simple to put together, without weird or difficult instructions. My kids enjoyed every meal I made. They disliked the roasted acorn squash, but loved the mustard greens I served the next day. I like learning how to cook a variety of vegetables in different ways. I should have spent more money on a better quality salmon, but still felt satisfied with the meal itself. I also should have added grated ginger to the stir-fry dish. It wasn’t in the recipe, but would have added to the flavor.

I definitely felt like I was expanding my knowledge about cooking methods. I learned a new way to cook fish (steamed with potatoes). I learned how to roast squash and glaze it.

All five recipes were keepers and will be added to my collection of good family meals I can make quickly.

Time-saving

I saved a lot of time doing this. Having a simple checklist at the grocery store made me zip through the store. Shopping is my least favorite part of cooking for my family. This week,  I didn’t feel stressed or concerned about picking up extra items. I just bought what was on my list.

I followed the directions and prepped my meals in about 30 minutes on Monday. It made a big difference in how quickly the meals came together and saved me cleaning time as well.  

So overall, I was very satisfied with the experience. I’m going to the store today with a new list in hand, ready to try out five new recipes. It should be good!

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Cooking

Confession: I have tons of cookbooks.

Confession: I read and study out of my various cookbooks daily.

Confession: I rarely use recipes to cook.

I consider myself a pretty creative cook. I truly have a gift for creating wonderful meals out of basic ingredients. I rarely plan my meals ahead, usually pulling things out of the pantry and refrigerator that day and making a meal out of what I find. I suppose my cookbooks serve as inspiration.

I’m fascinated by recipes and learning how to cook better. The kicker is that I loathe shopping. So actually going to the grocery store to shop from a list for recipes is something akin to torture to me. I also hate using ads to shop. Yes, I know I save money. But it SOOO time-consuming to me and not worth the effort.

I have three cooking goals this year.

1. Learn how to prepare a wider variety of vegetable side dishes.

I love vegetables, but I don’t know how to cook them in different ways other than the very bland method of steaming them.

2. Learn how to prepare fish in different ways.

I love fish with a passion. But I don’t know how to cook fish with sauces or different flavors. I can fry fish and I make a nice salmon with hollandaise sauce. My husband has requested that I serve fish more often because he hates fish and figures he’ll eat less, which help him lose some weight. But I would love to try and convert him to liking fish through better preparation methods.

3. I want to try the recipes that interest me.

I recently subscribed to Everyday Food and found they have menus for five days and have an easy pull-out shopping list. I can do that. I love how the magazine also highlights different vegetable side dishes and often has good fish recipes. So Everday Food is going to my go-to guide to accomplish these goals.

Do you have any cooking goals? Do you use recipes or create your own concoctions?

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I was perusing a church cookbook today and came across the most appalling recipe I have ever seen. It looked so terrible, that it was elevated to awesome. I will never try it, but I do have to post it.  And not only do I find it horrifying, in a fascinating way, but it astounds me that someone actually thought it was good enough to submit to a cookbook.  If you have equally disgusting recipes, please share.

Chicken Noodle Salad

1 can chicken noodle soup

8-oz. pkg. cream cheese

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 sm. package lemon Jello

1 cup hot water

2 cup. celery, sliced

2 cup green pepper, sliced

2 cup. green onion, sliced

 1 can shrimp

Heat soup to melt cheese and add mayonnaise to hot mixture. Meanwhile, dissolve jello in water and let cool. Add vegetables and shrimp. mix all together and set until firm.

So, are you gagging yet? Chicken noodle soup, lemon jello, shrimp???? The shrimp seems like a desperate attempt to turn the dish into something company worthy. And I wonder how many people actually ever ate this thing and then were sick after? I suspect the poor woman never realized that people didn’t really like her salad.

So, do you have any awesomely disgusting recipes to share with me?

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