Saturday, February 27, 2010

It feels like soup weather

One of the best things about winter is soup.  I love it, and I usually cook it at least once a week, although this winter I haven't been making it as much as normal.  I'm not sure why, but I have felt lately like I'm missing out and soon spring will be here and soup season will be over!
A couple of years ago, I was having a craving for soup, and I had a particular flavor in mind.  I searched everywhere for a recipe that would accommodate my craving but found nothing.  That prompted me to try and "invent" my very own was the first time I dared.  I had to tweak it a few times, but it has turned into my second favorite (right behind a creamy chicken noodle soup that I will post on another day) and it's Savannah's absolute favorite!  It's pretty spicy so I usually serve it with sweet rolls of some kind.

1 lb. ground turkey (or hamburger if you prefer)
2 Tbsp. corn starch
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. red pepper
1/4 tsp. oregano
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
4 cups water
2 cups chicken broth (or one can)
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 (15 oz.) cans tomato sauce (substitute one can for crushed tomatoes if you like them)
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups carrots, sliced
3 cups penne pasta or 1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni (I prefer the whole wheat kind)
pepper to taste (I usually add about a teaspoon)

Brown meat and drain.  Cook onions until translucent; return meat to the pan and add corn starch and all the dry seasoning plus one cup of water.  Cook, stirring, on low for about 5 minutes (it will thicken because of the corn starch).  Add the rest of the water and all the other ingredients except the noodles.  Simmer on low for 1-2 hoursAdd the noodles about 20 minutes before serving.  Add extra water if needed, according to the consistency you want.  Serve with shredded cheddar cheese if desired.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Other White Meat

About a year ago I discovered a new piece of meat I had never cooked before...pork loin.  I mean, sure, I had made pork chops and stuff, but I'd never cooked it as a roast.  I stumbled onto a recipe that sounded good, so I tried it, and I LOVED it.  Then Albertson's put them on sale for a SUPER good price and I bought a whole bunch.  I also learned that the butcher in the store would cut them however I wanted them...who knew?  I had him cut some just in half, so I could use them as roasts, and others I had him slice into chops, and I "accidentally" had one whole roast cut into cubes (who knew that when I said "1 inch pieces" he wouldn't know I meant "1 inch slices" I had to go looking for a recipe for the cubes too...and I found a really fabulous one that I will share on another day.)  I still have quite a bit of this pork in my freezer, but it has made a nice addition to the list of things I cook regularly.  This roast is one of my favorites and it's VERY easy.

5 lb. boneless pork loin
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine sage, salt, pepper, and garlic. Oil the bottom of a roasting pan with a smear of olive oil.  Rub thoroughly over pork and place pork in an uncovered roasting pan (put the pork in the pan with the fat side up--the fat will cook down through the meat and make the roast more tender)on the middle oven rack (I used a dutch oven this time, and I covered it).  Bake for approximately 3 hours or until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees. 
About an hour before the roast will be done, make the glaze. Place the sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, water and soy sauce in a saucepan and heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture bubbles and starts to thicken.  Brush the roast with the glaze about 4 times during the last half hour of cooking (my roast got done early, so I removed it, kept it in the dutch oven, and glazed it a couple of times while the rest of the meal was still cooking and it stayed hot for another 45 minutes with the lid on).  Slice the roast and pour more glaze on, drizzling down between the slices. I usually have extra glaze for anyone that wants it.  Enjoy!

I have some it time for lunch?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Saturday Savings...on Tuesday

So...I was going to start posting my grocery savings on Saturdays regardless of the day I shopped, but this last week that didn't work out so here I am on Tuesday with LAST week's grocery trip.  It was a good one, although a bunch of the stuff I bought was more expensive (but very necessary--does it GET more necessary than toilet paper?!)  So after a trip to Smith's and to Walmart, here's what I got:
  • 3 applesauce 48 oz. (1.46)
  • 3 gallons of milk (1.66)
  • 4 24 oz. Daisy sour cream (only the best sour cream on the planet...) (.99)
  • 6 boxes General Mills cereal (.50)
  • 5 boxes Hefty trash bags--80 ct. (3.95)
  • 4 Angel Soft toilet paper (3.99)
  • 1 bag Dole salad (1.00)
  • 2 lb. bag of carrots (.99)
  • 4 lbs. broccoli (.50/lb.)
  • baking potatoes (.29/lb)
  • 3 32 oz. Gatorade (.19)
  • 1 28 oz. peanut butter (1.44)
  • 2 Reynold's Wrap parchment paper (1.69)
  • 4 Reynold's Wrap foil 75 ft. (1.44)
  • 11 cans Chef Boyardee (.45)
  • 15 cans Campbell's Chunky soup (.50)
  • 1 box Chocolate Cheerios (.74)
  • 2 64 oz. Ocean Spray grapefruit juice (.98)
  • 2 bags Totino's pizza rolls (1.94)
  • Sprinkles and Valentines for Savannah (9.14--sheesh!)
Altogether, I spent $92.96 and saved $113.27...All those trash bags and toilet paper really sent me over budget but they were a STEAL ($9.87 regular price at Walmart--so I got them for less than half) and paper products are one of those important things that never go bad and you can't have too much of them...especially toilet paper...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A New Fruit Salad

I have vowed that with all the food storage I have that when it's time to make or take something somewhere, like a potluck or party, that instead of picking a recipe and running to the store to get what I needed, I would look at what I already have and then pick a recipe and make something without the extra trip to the store. (When I have done the run-to-the-store type cooking I have usually walked out of the store with at least $20 worth of stuff--not good when I am trying to watch my grocery budget!)  So when it was time for the Superbowl party, what I really wanted to take was a fruit salad...and I actually thought I had everything to make my favorite one.  Unfortunately I didn't, but I decided to wing it and improvise...and I'm glad I did because this salad turned out fabulous!  It might even be better than the original...


1 can pineapple chunks
1 can peach slices or chunks
2 cans mandarin oranges
1 can tropical fruit
1 lrg. box instant vanilla pudding
1 1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup frozen Hawaii's Own passion orange juice concentrate, thawed but NOT diluted
3/4 cup sour cream
1 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cups marshmallows

Combine all fruit and drain well; set aside.  In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese until soft and smooth.  Add sour cream and mix well.  Slowly beat in orange juice concentrate, milk, and pudding mix and beat for 2 minutes.  Add fruit and marshmallows and toss gently.  Refrigerate 2 hours before serving.

NOTE:  I only had peach halves, so I drained and sliced them into chunks.  The original recipe calls for regular orange juice concentrate, which is really yummy, but I didn't have any, so that was one of the things I had to improvise. I think any type of frozen juice with orange in it would be good (I also had orange pineapple, so it was a toss up which would be best). I would have liked to add bananas, too, but I didn't have any.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Savannah's Favorite Meatballs

Savannah used to be my really picky eater and I have been holding out hope for years that by forcing her to taste new things and making her eat school lunch (hey, I know it isn't great, but she can't have a PB&J every single day of her school life) she would start to outgrow it.  It has been quite a battle, let me tell you...and many times I thought it wasn't worth it to force the issue...but I persisted.  It has started to pay off!  She has gone from being the pickiest to being the most open minded about trying things, and she has found out she likes a lot of them (Dylan, on the other hand, has always been the easiest to feed--he asks "do I like this, mom?" and I say "yes" and he says "okay"... even if he hates it or hasn't tried it I always say yes...seems to work)  So in honor of Savannah and her new open minded attitude, here's one of her favorites...

I like to make this with a mixture of meat because I happen to like ground turkey a lot, but when made with only the turkey they are more likely to burn.  The ground beef adds just a little bit of fat to help them not burn while they are browning and not stick to the pan.  If you don't have ground turkey, or don't like ground turkey, you can use two pounds of ground beef and they will be great. 
1 lb. ground beef 
1 lb. ground turkey breast
2 eggs
1 tsp. sage
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. white pepper
1/2 cup uncooked rice
2 cans tomato soup
1 can water
3 Tbsp. sugar

Mix together the meats, eggs, seasonings, and rice (not the sugar).  Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.  If you are not using a non-stick pan, spray it with a light coat of cooking spray (a very light coat).  Roll meat mixture into balls about the size of a golf ball (I use a large cookie scoop--it's the perfect size and then they are uniform).  
Place the meatballs in the skillet and cook, turning, to brown on all sides.  Get them good and brown--they will hold together better.
Add tomato soup, water and sugar.  Cover; simmer for one hour on low.  My family is really big on the sauce, so I add two extra cans of soup and another half can of water (but no more sugar).  The sauce is really good on mashed potatoes with melted cheese (Savannah would just die if there were no mashed potatoes!)  It also goes great with a salad and rice.  I haven't tried it with pasta, but that would probably be good too (although it doesn't taste like a marinara sauce in any way.)  Enjoy!

Monday, February 1, 2010

One More Time...

I didn't break my promise.... I stayed out of the store for the rest of last week.  But since today is a brand new week, obviously all bets are off.  I am planning on this being my one and only trip to the grocery store this week (although I'm not making any promises...) but I really had to take advantage of Smith's great sale one last time. I didn't realize last week that the Hunt's tomato sauce was included in the sale, and I am a Hunt's tomato sauce snob--no other brand will I really needed it.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Other than that,  I didn't get a lot, but I sure got a lot for the small amount of money I spent:
  • 3 boxes of Raisin Bran (one FREE, the others were 1.49)
  • 6 cans Hormel chilimaster (.29)
  • 30 cans Hunts Tomato sauce (.16 for 6 cans, .49 for the rest)
  • 2 bottles Frank's Red Hot Sauce (.69)
  • 20 (more) bottles La Victoria salsa (FREE + .50 per bottle)
  • 9 Sobe Lifewater ( they got the 2 new flavors in...could I actually skip that?)
  • 2 Philadelphia cream cheese (.49)
  • 4 packages Keebler cookies (.19)
  • 4 quarts Dreyer's ice cream--not pictured (1.49)
  • 1 gallon chocolate milk (2.00)
After all my really good coupons and a catalina I had left over from last week, I only paid $17.94 for ALL of that and I SAVED $157.91 (I compare what I paid to what I would have spent on the same things if I was shopping at Walmart for everything with no coupons or sales the way I used to.).  Now THAT'S what I call a bargain.  Now, hopefully, no other stores will have a can't-miss sale this week and I can call it a day on the grocery shopping for the week. Tomorrow it's time to actually put together a menu and make plans to cook all this food.