Showing posts with label Cooking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cooking. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Easy Skillet Spaghetti: A Great Dinner for a Busy Night!


We are a busy household. A lot of nights we do not eat supper until 7:30 - 8:00 at night. Sometimes we need to make supper on the fly and have something on the table quickly. Sometimes we just want to make something quick and easy because we are tired. This Skillet Spaghetti fits the bill.

This recipe is easy. Very easy! It is a cheap meal to make. It is also made in one large skillet or dutch oven. One pot meals are my favorite meals. So just about anything made in one pot will get a chance at this household. I based this recipe off of one that I first made 12-15 years ago. I have since changed this recipe and completely lost the original recipe. 

Easy Skillet Spaghetti

Serves 4-6 people

1 pound ground beef
1 - 24 ounce jar of pasta (spaghetti) sauce
24 ounces water
12 ounces spaghetti noodles, broken into thirds
Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese for garnish



1. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet or dutch oven until done. You can drain the grease if you feel there is too much, but I generally do not drain the grease.



2. Add the spaghetti sauce to the ground beef. 



Fill the jar back up to the sauce level with water. Add the water to the skillet and stir. 



Bring to just a boil over medium high heat. 



3. Add the broken spaghetti noodles to the skillet and stir. You want the noodles covered with sauce. 



Cover the skillet and turn the temperature down to medium low heat. 



4. Let cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. The skillet spaghetti will be done when the noodles are cooked and most of the sauce is soaked up. 

5. You can sprinkle with mozzarella cheese to make this cheesy. The cheese will melt rather quickly on its own. I usually let people sprinkle their own parmesan cheese.

Serve with garlic bread and a salad if you so desire.

Notes:
* If the noodles do not seem cooked enough and the sauce is mostly soaked up, you can add 1/2 cup water at a time until the noodles are soft.
* If you use whole wheat spaghetti noodles, most of those boxes are 13-13.5 ounce boxes. You can add an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce to use the whole box. 

I know it is so simple, but I believe in giving all busy families the same tools to getting a filling dinner on the table. I hope you enjoy!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Homemade Chili - A Winter's Delight!


Chili is probably one of our favorite soups/stews at our house. Everyone loves it except for my son who doesn't love beans, but loves the rest of it! My daughters make it at their college apartment  for themselves and their friends. This goes over very well for crowds. We make this a lot in the winter!

The original recipe was my mom's recipe. However, I couldn't leave well enough alone. She doesn't blame me. She messes with recipes too! 

This recipe is really versatile! I have warmed up the recipe a bit from my mom's recipe because I like my chili a little spicier, but not too spicy. However, you can add more spice, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or some hot sauce if you would like. 

I also use two pounds of ground meat in my recipe. I usually use one pound of ground beef and one pound of ground pork. You can use whatever you like. This is good with all ground beef, all ground pork, with ground venison, and/or ground turkey. You can cut back on the meat to only 1-1/2 pounds of ground meat, but I like my chili to be more like stew instead of soup. So I use more meat. 

The tomatoes can also be played with a little. I usually use a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes. I have also used a quart jar of home canned crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes. If I use whole tomatoes, I just crush them with my hands before adding them to the pot. 

If you are accommodating the picky people in your life (no judgment from me on this!), you can use a 1/4 cup of dried minced onion instead of using the fresh chopped onion. You can also use 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder instead of minced fresh garlic. 

You can also make them on the stove or put in the slow cooker on low all day! Didn't I say this was versatile? 

Homemade Chili

2 pounds of ground meat
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped

Seasonings:
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

Canned goods:
1 - 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes or a quart jar of home canned tomatoes
1 - 10 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies (I use mild)
1 - 15 ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 - 15 ounce can chili beans with sauce, undrained



Brown the meat with garlic and onion. If you using the dried versions of garlic and onion, you can still add them now. If you cooking this on the stove, brown the meat in the pot you are using to make the chili. I usually use my 6 quart cast iron enamel pot. If you are using the slow cooker, just brown the meat in a frying pan.



After the meat is browned, you can drain it if you would like. I don't usually drain my meat unless the meat is swimming in the grease. I like the favor the grease adds and I don't usually have a lot of grease in the pan. 



If you are making this on the stove, add the seasonings and the canned goods to the pot. If you are making this in a slow cooker, you can add the meat, seasonings, and canned goods to the slow cooker. Stir well. 



Bring the chili up to just a boil and then turn it down to low. Cover and simmer on low for a hour or longer if you want. 

With the slow cooker, set it to low and let it cook for 8-10 hours. Although, we have ate it after 4-6 hours with no problem. 

This serves at least 4-6 people. We serve it with cheese, crackers, and sour cream. 

I also apologize for the splatter stains on the stove. Just keeping it real. Normally, the stove is a lot cleaner!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Homemade Hamburgers and Baked Potato Slices: Delicious Summer Recipes!


One of our favorite summer meals to eat is Hamburgers and Baked Potato Slices. Both are simple and easy to make. You can also have dinner on the table in under thirty minutes!

I start with the Baked Potato Slices first. We use garlic salt to season these potatoes because my family is addicted to it. However, you can use any seasoning you want!

Baked Potato Slices

3-4 potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
Garlic salt or any other seasoning you prefer

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Slice the potatoes. Spray your baking sheet with cooking spray. I use olive oil cooking spray, but you can use whatever you have on hand. Lay the potatoes slices on the baking sheet


Spray the potatoes with cooking spray. Then sprinkle the potatoes with garlic salt or your chosen seasoning. Spraying the potatoes with cooking spray may seem weird, but it helps the seasoning stick and the potatoes to cook better. 

Put the potatoes in the oven for 20-25 minutes. You want them to be a little brown on the bottom when done. To test doneness, use a toothpick. If the toothpick goes in easily, they are done. If you want to, you can flip the potatoes half way or let them cook longer for more of a potato chip consistency. 


While the Baked Potato Slices are cooking, I start on the Homemade Hamburgers. These are juicy and flavorful with the addition of seasoning and Worcestershire sauce. I adapted this recipe from another recipe I had and lost. 

Homemade Hamburgers

2 pounds ground beef (I prefer 85%, but you can use a leaner meat)
1 Tbsp. Morton's Nature's Season Seasoning Blend (or your favorite seasoning salt)
1 tsp. onion powder

Preheat your grill. I usually turn my grill up to high to start with and turn it to medium when I am ready to cook.

Put the ground beef in a large bowl. 


Add the seasoning and mix it well. My family loves their hamburgers well-seasoned, but your family may not. Adjust the seasonings accordingly. I also use my clean hands to mix the hamburger. I find it is more efficient. 



Split the meat into 8 - 1/4 pound patties. Shape the patties and make an indentation in the middle with your thumb. This helps the hamburgers to cook evenly and shrink less.

With the grill hot, put the patties on the grill.



I normally cook the hamburgers about five minutes on each side and find them to be done. We like ours medium and will cook them until the meat thermometer says 145 degrees Fahrenheit.



All done! Unless you want cheese on that burger. Now is a good time to do that and let it melt a little!

Take the Baked Sliced Potatoes out of the oven and put the Homemade Hamburgers on the table with buns and condiments. We often eat ours with baby carrots or a salad to round off the meal.



I hope you enjoy this delicious summer meal just like we do!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Making Bread Is A Skill You Need To Learn! Bonus: A Round-Up of Great Bread Recipes!


One of the skills I have probably worked the hardest on was to make my own bread. I wasn't very positive about my ability to learn how to make bread, but I knew I needed to learn how.

I had a bread maker, but I didn't like how the loaves came out of the bread maker. The crust was very chewy if not hard as a rock. Then I discovered the dough setting. Oh my. I found out that the bread maker could do the dough part, then I could take the dough out, put it in a bread pan, let rise again, and bake the bread. Wonderful!

That only works as long as the bread maker works. Something happened that the coating peeled off the bread maker pan and I didn't like having the coating in my dough. Somehow, I doubt that was healthy for anyone.

I had dabbled in making the bread from scratch and now the time had come to move beyond dabbling into full-time mastering the bread making skill. I learned how to make bread using my KitchenAid mixer. That mixer makes life a lot easier! However, I wanted to learn how to make bread from scratch. 

Quite honestly, I was a little scared of the whole process. Making bread from scratch and by hand seemed a little daunting. I put off learning this skill for a few years at least. I didn't want to knead bread for a long time or struggle to stir the dough. I had already broken enough wooden spoons! 

Enough was enough. I finally found a few recipes (listed below) that I didn't think sounded too difficult. Sure enough, making bread from scratch was easy! Learning to know when the bread was done and getting the rise times right was my biggest challenge. I learned to thump the bread when it was done cooking and listen for the hollow sound. I learned to get the temperature right in my kitchen for the bread to rise correctly. 

Listen, if I can cook bread from scratch, you can too. This is a skill that is very necessary. When times are tough or the budget is tight, making bread will save you money and fill those bellies. Bread is cheap when you make it at home and tastes so much better than store bought. 

Another plus is that you can control the ingredients. You can control the sugar, the flour, and the salt. If you need gluten-free, you can make gluten-free. If you have a family that will only eat white bread, you make white bread. The possibilities are endless!

I am little embarrassed to say that I do not have my own bread recipe! As much as I love making bread, I have never felt the need to develop my own recipe. However, I know a lot of great bloggers that have their own recipes and are more than happy to share them!

Below are some great recipes from fellow bloggers to help you get started baking bread or add some new recipes to your repertoire: 




































Which recipe are you trying first?

Thanks for reading,

Erica

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Ten Lessons Learned About Food From The Depression and Wartime


The Great Depression was a time of lean years for many in the United States as well as all over the world. Many people learned valuable lessons on how to make food stretch and take advantage of cheaper processed food that came out during this time. Many people learned to survive on less and some people went hungry. 

When World War II came around, many of these lessons were needed to survive the war and stretch their rationing coupons. People were encouraged to garden during the Depression and were heavily encouraged to do during the war. Victory gardens appeared everywhere to help feed the people while more and more food was shipped to overseas. 

Many of these lessons learned during these eras have been lost. We as a people are incredibly wasteful now. Our grocery budgets would be better off if we learned these same lessons and kept them in our kitchens. Then if we have lean times, we would be better off.

10 Lessons Learned About Food From The Depression and Wartime

1. Fat was never wasted. Scraps of fat were kept from everything they could be and stored. Fat from meat was cut off to be used to fry and roast. Bacon grease was kept in a jar to be used to cook eggs and potatoes. Fat from cooking meat was reused in cooking other meat and cooking vegetables. Fat was too precious to waste especially when it became severely rationed during World War II.

2. Cooking liquids were never just thrown down the drain. That was wasteful! They were reused in cooking for vegetables. Rice and pasta could be cooked in water that was previously used in cooking vegetables. They also thought it gave the rice and pasta flavor. They would also use the cooking liquids in watering plants and feeding animals.

3. Leftover meat juices had so many more uses! Leftover meat juices were used for making soup, cooking rice and pasta, flavoring casseroles and skillets dishes. Meat juices were poured into a jar to be reused in the next meal.

4. If the food has to be imported into the country, chances are you would have to live without it. This was especially true in the United States and Britain during wartime when most of their food was imported into the country. Many things they could grow themselves, but items like sugar and coffee were severely rationed because they could not produce it themselves.

5. If people could, they raised their own chickens and planted gardens. Sometimes city dwellers could not have gardens, but many cities had garden allotments for people to use. Raising your food could mean the difference between living and starving for most people. Many people during the Depression and wartime sold the food they couldn't eat or preserve. Many women sold eggs from their chickens in order to bring a little more income into the home. Many people from these eras have said that having gardens and eggs are what got them through the lean years.

6. Leftovers were not wasted. Leftovers were generally incorporated into the next meal or the next day's meals. Leftover meat became chopped meat sandwiches. Leftover meat and vegetables became part of the soup. Cooking liquids and canned liquids were reused. Nothing was wasted. If, for some reason, the leftovers could not be or were not used, they were fed to the animals or put into a compost pile. 

7. If you did not raise or hunt your own meat, meat could be very expensive. Meals in the Depression and wartime were not heavy on meat like they are now. Meat cooked at one meal was stretched over 2-4 meals. They might roast a chicken for one meal, make chopped meat sandwiches for another meal, soup for lunch or supper, and use the rest of the chicken in a white sauce served over toast or pasta. The bones would be used to make broth for the soup before being thrown out to the chickens. Nothing was wasted.

8. Consider alternative ways of cooking food. In the 30's and 40's, cook stoves were popular. Electric and gas cook stoves were becoming increasingly available and were cheap to run. However, in the Depression, people could not afford to run the stoves. During the war, gas was rationed. Women used wood stoves and hay boxes to cook food and save money. 

9. Forging was very necessary during these eras. People looked for dandelion greens, dug up wild onions, and knew where to find blackberries in the brambles. Forging for anything edible helped at the supper table and, for some families, made the difference between a very meager meal and a decent meal. 

10. "Making Do" was the theme of the Depression and wartime. People didn't have a choice if they wanted to eat. Beans were eaten a lot because they were cheap and nutritious. Casseroles were made more and became popular because little bits of food could be mixed together to make a more filling meal. Bits of dried fruit and sweet vegetables were used to sweeten food when sugar wasn't available or heavily rationed. 

Food was never thrown out or wasted. People became very creative and resourceful to make a meal for their family. They had to. They didn't have a choice unless they wanted to starve. 

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Egg and Spinach Open Faced Sandwiches



Things to know about me:

1. I am not a fancy cook. Not at all. I could be if I wanted to, but I really like making uncomplicated things. This sandwich is one of them.

2. I will eat cold sandwiches, but I really, really like hot sandwiches with crusty or toasted bread.

I make these Egg and Spinach Open Faced Sandwiches for breakfast or lunch. I like them that much and I will eat breakfast at any meal. Also, this is a good way to get in your greens!

Gather your ingredients. Since I was making this for lunch I used 3 eggs. Sometimes I only use 2 eggs. I stuffed a sandwich sized baggie full of spinach. I also used 2 pieces of bread, but I have also been known to use leftover baked potatoes instead of bread. I also used a liberal amount of butter and some salt, but you can also use coconut oil and whatever seasoning you love.


Start by getting your skillet hot and add butter to melt. Drop your 2 slices of bread in the toaster.


Add your spinach to the skillet. Put it all in there. If you are using a small skillet like I was, the spinach will still fit.


When the toaster is done, butter the toast. All toast should be buttered. Always. 

Add the spinach on top of the buttered toast.


Add more butter to the skillet and let it melt and get bubbly.


Add the eggs. You might want to use a bigger skillet than I did, but I was at work using what I had available to me.


When your eggs are done to your satisfaction (scrambled, fried, sunny side up, soft), put them on top of the spinach and eggs. I left my eggs soft with runny yolks. 


Dig in! This is not a dish best left cold! Salt or season them as you prefer and go to town on that sandwich. 

This is a relatively healthy sandwich that quick and easy to make! My favorite kind of dish!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Once A Month Shopping Challenge: Month 2 and November's Meal Plans


Here we are, Month 2 of the Once A Month Shopping Challenge!

I tried to be a little more prepared for this month. I have officially made my three planned stops as of yesterday. The first stop was to K-Mart to get:

2 bags of dog food
2 bags of cat food (grain-free for the cat with a sensitive stomach)
1 bag of cat litter
1 bottle of shampoo (for me)
1 bottle of shampoo/conditioner (for Dane)
2 bottles of conditioner (1 for me, 1 for Paige)
2 bottles of Vitamin C gummies (buy 1, get 1 free)

I cannot find the receipt right now, but I know I spent $76 with taxes and we saved $25 with coupons and discounts. Some things like cat litter have gone up a bit and that surprised me. 

The second stop was to Menards. I have this receipt! At Menards, I bought:

1 Plastic Window Kit to cover my inside windows
1 Plastic Door Kit to cover my back door until I get a new storm door
1 Garden Hand Shovel to replace the one the dog chewed up
2 different size drill bits because the ones I had were dull
1 set of sticky mouse traps
1 bag of Fast Set Repair Mortar for the basement drain. We have caught snakes coming up through the sides of it where the cement has crumbled. 

I had a Menards rebate check for $10. My total after that was $19. Not too bad! I also got another rebate to mail in when I bought the window kit. 

The third stop was to Fareway. This trip was for groceries and this one hurt! I won't list everything because this was a big grocery shopping trip that included Thanksgiving. I am hosting it this year!



The highlights and deals:
Frozen vegetables for $.77 (I bought 6 bags)
Shredded cheese - 8 oz. packages for $.99 each (limit 3)
Pork Sausage for $1.99 a pound (I got 3 - 1 lb. packages)
10 pound roll of 85% ground beef on sale for $2.99 a pound (I got one roll)
Store pasta on sale for 10/$10.00
A lot of produce 

I spent $174.00. I am still in shock, but I am trying to step back and realize if this is for the whole month, that is not bad at all. I shopped a lot of deals and saved quite a bit that way. I did have to buy meat which always kills me. I bought two roasts in addition to the meat listed which were $18 total. That is just expensive, but both roasts will provide two meals and 2-3 days of leftovers afterwards. That is not bad.

I already have the turkey and ham in my freezer for Thanksgiving. I bought potatoes, stuffing, apple cider, cranberries, and fried onions for the green bean casserole. I have a lot of food in my pantry already for side dishes. Plus our holiday meals are potluck so many other people will be bringing more food. 

The November Meal Plan is going to look similar to October's meal plans. I will be incorporating more slow cooker meals that are low carb for me. The kids will probably have rice with them, but I need to be more diligent about sticking to eating better. I have my freezer meals for the slow cooker and we are also trying Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef and Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja. I can't wait to try them!

November Meal Plan
Chili (slow cooker)
Beef Stew (slow cooker)
Mongolian Beef (slow cooker)
Ropa Vieja (slow cooker)
Chicken Noodle Soup
Cavatini (for sports banquet)
Pork Chops and Roasted Vegetables
Homemade Pizza
Fajitas
Tacos (2 times)
Baked Rigatoni
Taco Chili Mac
Turkey Pot Pie
Spaghetti
Slow Cooker Roast Chicken and vegetables
Chicken Loaf, rice, and vegetables
Fritatta
2-3 Freezer Meals
Thanksgiving 
Thanksgiving Leftovers
Leftovers from slow cooker meals

I realize the leftovers are a tentative thing. I usually make a lot when I make slow cooker meals so we have plenty of leftovers. However, I am living with the joy of a growing boy. If he is hungry and even remotely likes the meal, he can eat a lot! Holy moly! Paige can also eat a lot too which makes for an interesting meal time some nights. 

As always, I make my own bread and snacks for myself and the kids. We have chickens that produce eggs which is my breakfast almost every morning. This month, I am going to try to make my own tortillas (those are more expensive than ever!). 

How is your shopping challenge going? What are you planning for meals for November?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Tuesday, October 13, 2015

October Monthly Meal Plan - A First In My World!



In junction with my once a month shopping trip to the grocery store, I needed to work out a month of meals to make. This was actually pretty easy for me because we have a lot of the same meals from month to month. I usually try 2-3 new meals a month as well, but I don't always get it done.

From October 8th, when we went grocery shopping, this what I have made so far:

Thursday: Frugal Refrigerator Clean-out Frittata

Friday: Slow Cooker Roast Chicken with Rice and Peas

I put the carcass of the chicken back into the slow cooker, filled it with water, added 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, and left it on low to cook all weekend.

Saturday: Breakfast and Lunch were find your own or leftovers. Paige and I were at State Marching Band Contest. Supper was Chicken Broccoli Casserole using chicken leftover from Friday's meal and broth from the slow cooker.

Sunday: Baked Oatmeal for breakfast, Chicken and Noodles for lunch using chicken from Friday night and broth from the slow cooker. Whatever broth was left in the slow cooker was canned Sunday night. Dane and I had popcorn for supper while Paige had supper at youth group.

I am not planning out the meals specifically by the day for the rest of month because I want some freedom to use up leftovers or for a change in our plans. For example, last night I made some chicken thighs that I had used a half package of for a meal last Wednesday. They needed to be used up as well as the extra rice from Friday night's meal. I added a can of green beans to it to round out the meal.

The same will go for tonight's meal. I have two Italian sausages that need to be eaten up before they become dog food. Paige will be at a cross country meet so this will be perfect for Dane and I. We had some renegade potato chips make it into our house that I cannot have, but I will have Dane eat some with his meal. I will have leftover rice again if there is any left.

For the rest of the month, this is the list:

One-pot Chicken Lo Mein
Crazy Crust Pizza
Homemade Pizza
Roast in the Slow Cooker with Potatoes, Carrots, and Onions
Homemade Mac and Cheese
Chicken Noodle Soup
Spaghetti
Corn Casserole
Pork Chops and Roasted Vegetables
Tacos (most Saturday lunches)
Chicken Loaf, Rice, and a Vegetable
Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, and Corn
Beef Stew
Ham Steaks and Eggs
3-4 Freezer Meals - these are mostly soups or stews
Chicken Fajitas

This may not seem like enough meals, but we will be gone two weekends. I am also allowing space for leftovers that we may need to eat. If we have the whole family home (five people plus boyfriends and friends), I have everything to make lasagna or chili and will do so to feed a large crowd. Some nights we are really busy and will have just fried eggs with toast, sandwiches, or quesadillas.

For breakfast on the weekends, I usually make overnight oatmeal, baked oatmeal, pancakes, or eggs and toast. On special occasions we will have French toast or apple fritters. If I am not feeling so great or it is a weekday, the kids can eat muffins, granola, yogurt, cold cereal, and oatmeal packets. I usually eat leftover breakfast from the weekend or eggs and toast. Some times I will fry up a bunch of bacon to eat during the week too.

If you are curious about any of the recipes, I can do a blog post on them if they are mine or I can put a link to them below.

Do you do a monthly meal plan?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, October 12, 2015

Frugal Refrigerator Clean-out Frittata

So when you have a lot of eggs that need to be used up, some vegetables in the fridge that needs to be used up, and need a quick meal, what do you do?

You make Fritatta! I love frittata. I love saying the word frittata. So much fun!

Below is a couple days worth of eggs. While I sell them or send home with the college kids some of the extras, we still have to step up and eat them.


One of my favorite ways is Frugal Refrigerator Clean-out Frittata. How to make it you ask?

Ingredients:
8-12 eggs
3-4 vegetables you need to use up
Butter or coconut oil for sauteing vegetables
1 cup of shredded cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Crack 8-12 eggs into a bowl. I usually use about 10 eggs for the 3 of us. You can use more or less depending on how many you are feeding. You can also add a little water or milk if you want your frittata fluffier. I don't bother with that. Whisk the eggs until well blended and all the yolks broken.


In a nonstick skillet or a very well seasoned cast iron skillet, heat your pan to medium high. Add the fat of your choice, allow it to melt, and add your vegetables. I had a half a container of sliced bella mushrooms, four mini bell peppers, and kale. I started the mushrooms and peppers first until they were soft and cooked a bit. 


Then I added the kale. I had a bought a big bag of kale and am struggling to use it all. Just some advice: this might be too much kale.



Let the vegetable cook some more and wilt the kale. You might have to add more fat. The mushrooms like to suck up the butter or oil.


Add your cheese of choice. Whatever needs to be used up, except maybe mozzarella. I don't care for it in this recipe. I used up a half bag of shredded sharp cheese. Season your frittata at this time too. I usually just use salt and pepper.


Add the eggs. Turn off the heat to the burner and let sit for a minute. Put into the oven and let cook for 20 minutes. It might not take as long or might take a little longer. Use a paring knife in the middle of the frittata to see if done. If the knife come out clean, it is done!




And voila! You have a delicious Frugal Refrigerator Clean-out Frittata! You can cut into four, six, or eight slices. We normally do six pieces, but whatever floats your boat! 



Give it try and let me know what combinations of vegetables you used! 

Thanks for reading!
Erica


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Preppers and Homesteaders Need To Eat Healthy Too!


I have been thinking about healthy eating and diets a lot lately. I hate diets. I hate the idea of depriving myself of something that can be good for me if I eat in moderation and make wise choices. I have been following a modified low-carb diet lately because Rob needs to for his health and I know I need to cut out more sugar in my diet. 

However, I refuse to cut out any fruits or vegetables out of my diet. Ever. I like them way too much! I just don't understand any diet that tells you something grown in nature is bad for you. 

So you will get a rare post from me on healthy eating. I truly believe it is important and crucial to being in good health. Prepping, homesteading, parenting, and just daily living become easier when you are eating healthy. Eating healthy also lead to other good habits, such as exercising and sleeping well, because you have great energy during the day and actually feel tired when you go to bed.

Everyone has a different idea of eating healthy. We do the best we can buying organic when affordable, locally sourcing our meat, using eggs from our own chickens, raising some of our own produce, and not using hardly any processed food. We aren't perfect and I am sure some of you have better ideas for eating healthy. Please share them in the comments!

Many people think it is too much work to eat healthy all the time. But we are preppers and homesteaders! We thrive on thinking ahead while enjoying the present! We can do this healthy eating thing!

Why should someone be eating healthy? Because:
1. to be healthy. 
2. to lose weight.
3. to cut out processed food in case something happens in the world and need to rely more on what can be raised in the garden and on the farm.
4. to have energy to get through the day.
5. to feel better about ourselves. 
6. to have clearer thinking.
7. to fight against diseases like diabetes, depression, etc.

We want to feel better! We want a better quality of life. We don't want to be so unhealthy that we can't keep up with the work, defend ourselves, be active with our kids/grandkids, or just keep up with daily life.

Healthy eating can be easy. It really can! However, you need to plan ahead. You can plan ahead by: 1.  make ahead breakfasts to quickly warm up in the mornings.
2.  plan ahead on snacks.
3. can quite a bit of your own food to cut out the preservatives and artificial ingredients.
4. meal planning
5. freezer cooking (which makes my life so much easier!)
6. plant a garden, plant in containers, plant edible perennials, and plant fruit/nut trees and bushes. 

Below are some of things I do to plan ahead to have healthy food on hand. I will list at least five things for breakfast, lunch, supper, and snacks.

Breakfast:
1. Make MYO Oatmeal to have those packets ready to go in the morning.
2. Mix eggs with meat and vegetables in muffin tins and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Make a large batch of granola and granola bars to eat by itself or to have as cereal or with yogurt.I freeze some of them so they do not go bad before we eat them all. 
4.  Bake a large batch of healthy muffins and/or quick bread. I freeze them and pop them in the microwave when I need them. 
5. Make a double batch of pancakes to reheat the leftovers during the week. We often eat the leftover pancakes with homemade jam
6. Always have fresh fruit available. The ultimate grab and go snack or breakfast!

Snacks
1. Granola bars (see #3 in breakfast)
2. Fruit or vegetables already cut into easy to eat pieces
3. Small mini peppers with cream cheese
4. Summer sausage and cheese
5. Pickles or Pickle roll-ups (ham, cream cheese, and dill pickles)

Lunch (work and school)
1. Sandwiches. My current love is ham, Swiss or muenster cheese, and spinach on a multi-grain sandwich thin. We are also trying making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and putting them in the freezer to pull when needed.
2. Leftovers!
3. Making a big batch of taco meat to reheat in tortillas and eat with whatever you want or have on hand.
4. Fruit and vegetables already cut into easy to eat pieces
5. Create a bento box like meal with 5-6 small choices that are bite-size for easy eating.

Supper
1. Freezer meals. There are several recipes on the internet. I tend to stick to low-carb and dairy-free recipes that can be done in the slow cooker.
2. Slow cooker/Crock Pot. I use mine at least once a week. I put at least one slow cooker meal every week in my meal plan. Sometimes I plan for 2-3 times a week depending on how busy we are.
3. Freeze chicken in marinade. As the chicken thaws, it will marinate and be all juicy and yummy. I either pan fry or grill these them.
4. Freeze your vegetables or buy frozen vegetables. Cook on the stove top or in the microwave for a quick side dish.
5. Put meals together on Sunday to have on hand during the week. You can take it out of the fridge and heat it up for a quick, hot supper.
6. Use a pressure cooker. I am learning to use mine, but the ease of use and the many recipes on the internet make using this so much easier. I love making rice pilaf in mine!

You will notice that I like to eat healthy, but I like my meals quick and easy too. I love to cook and bake, but I am lazy and don't want to spend a lot of time doing it! Time is valuable and needs to be prioritized during the week.

If you have food allergies, healthy eating and planning ahead is even more important. Paige is majorly lactose-intolerant and the rest of us are mildly so. Many times Paige cannot eat the school lunches and will pack hers the night before. We also plan meals that are dairy-free so she can be comfortable eating them. We do use lactose-free milk instead of regular milk in every recipe that calls for milk. 

Now, does healthy eating sound hard? 

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, March 16, 2015

Corned Beef Casserole: A Food Storage Friendly Meal!


Corned Beef Casserole is another childhood favorite of mine growing up. I make it now and then when I want comfort food. This is my mom's recipe and I have no clue where she got it from.

I also make it for St. Patrick's Day since the traditional foods of St. Patrick's Day do not thrill my kids at all.

Everything in this recipe is food storage friendly and can be stored for at least 1-2 years. I know I appreciate having ingredients for meals just in case going to the grocery store is not an option. This is also a very forgiving recipe!

For the ingredients, this recipe uses canned corned beef. You can find that in a square/rectangle tin in the canned meats section of your grocery store. Canned corned beef used to be very cheap to buy, but has risen quite a bit in cost. If you can find it for $3-4 a tin, you have got a deal and should buy up!

If you do not want to use canned cream of mushroom soup, feel free to use homemade. Homemade works great and tastes fine in this recipe.

Corned Beef Casserole


2 cups elbow macaroni
1 - 10.75 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
1 can of corned beef
salt and pepper to taste
onion power or dried minced onion to taste

1. Boil elbow macaroni in salted boiling water until tender. Drain, but do not rinse.

2. Grease a 9 x 9 inch pan. Mix soup, corned beef, salt, pepper, and onion together in the prepared pan.

3. Add cooked macaroni and mix well.


4. Cook in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes. 30 minutes if you want soft or 45 minutes if you want the crunchy on top and edges.


Serves 4-6 people. Serve with peas or roasted cabbage.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

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