Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Monthly Menu

March 3 - 9
Sunday - Breakfast for dinner - pancakes and sausage with some grapes on the side
Monday - I had a late afternoon meeting so picked us up take out on the way home
Tuesday - Casserole with ground beef, veggies and topped with biscuits - served with salad
Wednesday - Stir-fry
Thursday -  went to a party so didn't cook
Friday -  big salad with some grilled chicken on it and some homemade croutons
Saturday -  BLT Pasta served with a side salad (recipe to be coming soon)

March 10 -16
Sunday -  Ham and Bean Soup
Monday -  Pork Roast, roasted potatoes, carrots, onions and green beans
Tuesday -  Pork Roast panini  with cheese, sauteed peppers & mushrooms on it - served with salad
Wednesday - scrambled eggs with red peppers, cheese and mushrooms served with hashbrowns, sausage and grapes
Thursday - out of town
Friday -  nachos
Saturday - pork chops - dipped in a mixture of egg and Dijon mustard then coated in panko and Parmesan cheese, served with roasted asparagus

March 17 - 23
Sunday -  Corn Beef Brisket and salad
Monday - Grilled Chicken served with roasted asparagus and a salad
Tuesday - left overs
Wednesday - out of town
Thursday - out of town
Friday -  out of town
Saturday - out of town

March 24 - 30
Sunday - out of town
Monday - Rotisserie chicken, steamed veggies and salad
Tuesday - Smothered Burritos
Wednesday - left overs
Thursday -  Chicken & Stuffing Casserole (recipe coming soon) served with salad
Friday  - Beef and Broccoli served over rice served with salad
Saturday - Chicken Alfredo serving with roasted asparagus and salad

* Salad = leafy green salad either a spring mix or just baby spinach with assorted topping I have available: tomatoes, mushrooms, green onion, red or yellow bell pepper, croutons, cheese, sometimes some chopped hard boiled egg

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday Tips

Cleaning Crystal

Washing Crystal 
* When washing crystal, line your sink with a rubber mat or thick dishtowel.  Do one item at a time so they don't bang up against each other and get damaged or break.
* Fill with warm water and a solution of a healthy squirt of liquid dish soap and 1/4 cup of vinegar.
* Rinse in clean water and vinegar to help with spotting
* Dry with a lint free cloth such as a microfiber cloth

Cleaning Cloudy Crystal

I had one vase that got extremely cloudy. I had tried to clean it many times over, but nothing seemed to work.  I tried to use a paste of baking soda and vinegar on it and scrubbing with a slim brushes bottle brushes and toothbrushes, uncooked rice, vinegar, lemon juice, and egg shells and a couple other ideas too, but none of them worked. Nothing I did would clear it up.  When I had a second vase starting to get cloudy, I knew I had to find a solution. I read online about using denture tablets to clean crystal so decided I would give it a try.

So I picked up a box of denture tablets at the Dollar Tree and gave it a try...

I added the denture tablets and let it soak for 15 mins.  I then took a toothbrush and scrubbed - lightly. I rinsed the vases out and one vase was clear, but the other which was extremely cloudy to start  so wasn't completely clean yet.

I then did a second round of denture tablets.  The second time I only added the water to just past where it was still cloudy.  I then rinsed with warm water and it was clear.

So there are no more cloudy vases in this household....

That second vase only had a light ring of cloudy film. So it only needed one time through with the denture tablet process. The whole process was so easy. I think of all the time I had been struggling to try to get the one extremely cloudy crystal vase clean and couldn't.  I now always use them at first signs of cloudy film.

Just so glad I found an easy way to clean them.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Southwest Egg Rolls

2 cups cubed boneless skinless chicken  (or one large chicken breast - I had a little under 2 cups and it still worked well)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup of finely chopped red bell pepper (optional - I just wanted a little more color)
1 can (7 oz) green chilies
1/4 cup of finely chopped green onions
1 cup frozen corn
1 can (14.5-15 oz) black beans - drained and rinsed
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1 1/2 cups cheese (I like it a little spicy so I used all pepper jack, but if you don't like it too spicy - I would use half pepper jack and half cheddar)
1 package egg roll wrappers - 20 wrappers

Toss the chicken with seasonings. Make sure they are coated with the mixture. If  it isn't - add a little more cumin and chili powder.  In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil or olive oil on medium. Add in the chicken and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in the red pepper and cook until the chicken is cooked through.  Stir in green chilies, green onion, corn and black beans.  Add the spinach.  Cook until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and add cheese..

Preheat over to 400 degrees. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray.

Using a spoon or scoop a heaping tablespoon of filling onto the wrapper. Follow the directions on the back of the egg roll package for folding. Position an egg roll wrapper out like a diamond with one tip pointing towards you. Scoop the filling near the center of the egg roll wrapper. Pick up a corner on your left pull it over the filling. Pick up the corner opposite and bring it over the filling.  Take a corner pointing down towards you and start rolling it up around the egg filling.  Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Place on baking sheet seam side down, not allowing egg rolls to touch.  If you are having problems with them staying shut - slightly wet the edges with your fingers as you roll them.

Brush the egg rolls with olive oil or coat with cooking spray so that they crisp up in the oven. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until crispy.

Serve with or without a dipping sauce.  I used 2 different dipping sauces - Guacamole mixed with some sour cream and salsa mixed with sour cream. About a 1 to 1 ratio.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Favorites

Homemade Garbage Disposal Refreshers - I use the components of these - lemons & baking soda, but these would be nice to have around
Homemade Wool Dryer Balls - use instead of fabric softener
Small Living Room Solutions - ideas to help make a small living room look more spacious
The Well-Appointed Bar - a list of liquor and glasses to have in a well stocked bar
Skinny Meal Plans - a month of menus, links to recipes and downloadable grocery list

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tuesday Tips: Vegetable Storage

I thought I would revive Tuesday Tips.  I will be posting some tips once or twice a month on Tuesdays. Today's tips are all about Vegetable Storage.  

General Tips
*  Don't wash any vegetable until ready to use. I do break this rule at times though because if I am going to have a busy week - prepping veggies ahead makes things easier. Just make sure you store in the best way possible after cutting to keep them fresh still.
*  Any vegetable that has cuts and bruises will start to spoil and pass that on to others stored with it. So if you find one that has cuts or bruises, use them first and put aside away from the others.  
* Do not store fruits and vegetables together as the gases from fruits can make your vegetables go bad quickly.

Tomatoes - Don't refrigerate tomatoes.  It ruins the texture and taste. Keep out of sunlight on a cool counter top. 

Asparagus - Cut an inch off the bottom of asparagus spears and submerge ends in water and refrigerate until cooking.

Onions -  Place whole uncut/unpeeled onions in a cool, dry dark place - away from potatoes.  After cutting, store in sealed container in refrigerator. 

Garlic - Place whole heads of garlic in a cool, dark place. Don't refrigerate until you have peeled or cut.  

Potatoes - Place in a cool, dry, dark place - a box  or paper bag works well in dark corner of a pantry.

Green Beans -  In a perforated plastic bag or in an open container that is covered with a damp cloth. Green beans like humidity, but not overly wet environment. 

Zucchini‐ Leave out on a counter out of sunlight.  Wrap in a cloth and refrigerate for longer storage.

Broccoli -  Broccoli doesn't like to be crowded so store in a loose fitting plastic bag or an open container in the refrigerator. 

Letttuce/Leafy Greens - Wash and then lay out to dry on a thick towel. After dry, place in a plastic bag lined with paper towels to absorb moisture. (Just as an extra - this method by The Kitchn looks interesting) 

Mushrooms -  Keep mushrooms out of the crisper as moister makes them slimy.  Store them one of 2 ways - 1) in a brown paper bag in the refrigerator   2) In the plastic container they are bought in. Keep them sealed until ready to use and after opening place a piece of paper towel over them and then seal with plastic wrap.  I use the second method mostly and ever since I started putting a paper towel in the container - it has helped them last longer. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Book Review: Cook Once a Week, Eat Well Every Day

Cook Once a Week, Eat Well Every Day: Make-Ahead Meals that Transform Your Suppertime Circus into Relaxing Family Time by Theresa Albert

I just read this book recently, but I didn't follow how it was laid out  because I just wanted ideas. I can see how it could be very helpful if you are wanting to move to more once a week type cooking. Once a week cooking is where you prepare the majority - if not all of every meal for the week and then freeze, keep in fridge to bake or do final cooking.

A few good key points of the book:

  • One thing I found much improved from other books of this type is that the recipes are healthy.
  • The menus include a wide range of foods. Not just standard ground beef or chicken. 
  • This book would be good for those with limited time to cook and needing to make some more healthy meal choices and who have children.
  • The book has 12 weeks of menu plans, shopping lists, how-to prep and cook for the week based on each menu, and then recipes.  The weekly menu includes 5 meal plans. So that you can account for some leftovers or a night out.
I checked this book out from the library to get some ideas for meals and I have to say overall - this book didn't give me anything really new to add. But if you are new to healthy cooking, new to cooking in general or having problems with getting meals to the table after work - I can see this book will be helpful. 


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