Cooking Ahead: What’s Worked So Far

artisan bread with "scallops"
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It’s been a week or two but I’ve tried to stay diligent on cooking more from scratch again.  I thought I’d do a few updates on what we’ve been eating and how this domestic diva thing is going.

Refrigerator bread–the last bit of the dough will be eaten tonight so I’ll mix up some more.  This has been great for ball game nights where we cook and eat after we get home.  I put it on to rise before we leave and then pop it in the oven while we cook. It’s usually done about the same time as supper.

Meatballs–I fell in love with the Pioneer Woman’s meatballs recipe long ago.  They take time to make but are SO good.  We ate them last weekend so I doubled the recipe.  That gave me 80 meatballs.  I did the browning stage and then cooled and froze them.  That’s 2-3 meals for us.

Granola–its been gone.  In like 3 days, they ate it all.  I need to make more tonight (no baseball game!)

Homemade pizza–one of my favorite things to make.  I use this crust recipe that doesn’t require a rise time but substitute olive oil for the vegetable oil. I make my own pizza sauce and freeze it (if there are leftovers).

Freezer jam–family friends are selling strawberries locally this year so I picked a gallon last weekend.  We had strawberry shortcake that night, snacked on some and still made 8 containers of freezer jam.  I am hoping to get another gallon today or tomorrow to freeze for winter time.  The season is almost over here.

A few other things I have or need to be doing:

Tea–so much cheaper than soda and better for us I think!  We have decided to cut the sugar in our’s by a third (we’re southern, okay…We have sweet tea in our veins!) and so far, so good.

Onions–Hunter purchased some Vidalia onions (local in that we live in Georgia) recently and I need to slice, dice and freeze before they go bad.

Squash–I need to make the Rhett some.  He’s one now and eating more solids but he’s not tried yellow squash.  My dad has some ready now so we need to try it (and eat more ourselves).

Blackberries have bloomed and by mid-June, it’ll be picking time!  We missed it last year so needless to say, I am excited to pick berries!  Blueberries will be in a little sooner and I plan to pick some of those as well.  Hunter and the kids really like them.

I think that’s about it for right now.  My stockpile is a little too low on basics for my comfort so I’m trying to get things stocked back up.  My pantry is so much smaller than the old house so I’m having to be a little more clever.  I swear if one more can falls on my toes, I will lose my mind.  I will.

Domestic Diva Update: Progress on Cooking Ahead

dirty dishes
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My kitchen is a complete disaster right now. I’m avoiding it by sitting in the living drinking coffee and not thinking about the fact that I have dishes stacked up everywhere from my afternoon of cooking.

So far, here’s what I accomplished:

  • 1 loaf of bread that we’re eating (yum-love this recipe)
  • 1 batch of refrigerator bread (from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day)
  • 4 bags of pinto beans frozen for later meals plus dinner last night (*NOTE! The hot Rotel is seriously HOT.)
  • Double batch of chocolate chip cookie dough made, 1/2 cooked, 1/2 frozen for later (best cookies ever)
  • 1 batch of homemade granola made (Even Hunter likes it!  He eats it as cereal.)

Those links will take you to the recipes that I use repeatedly.  Tried and true.

For the pintos, there’s no recipe so to speak but here’s what I did for this batch:

  • 1 pound of dried pinto beans (You can cook smaller amounts.)
  • 1 can of Rotel (This time, I used only a 1/2 can of the hot Rotel and it still came out hotter than I expected.)
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • Pepper to taste

I rinsed, sorted and then soaked the beans overnight. The next morning I put them in the crockpot and added the Rotel, salt and pepper. Rotel is great for pinto beans.  It gives them flavor and its a quick add in. Because my crock pot is dying, I cooked them on high for 8 hours. If you have a crock pot that is working properly, you can usually cook them for 4-6 hours on low and they’ll be done with the soak.

Once they were cooked, I scooped out 2 cup portions into freezer bags, added some of the juice to the top and froze them. We’ll toss them in a pot or the microwave for beans during the week and I don’t have to buy canned (plus these taste way better!)

I’m hoping to get a few more things done this weekend. I’ll let you know how it goes. For now, I suppose I should go start on the kitchen and feed these children before our ball game.

What’s for supper?

Everyone and their brother (ok, sister) is at Blissdom. I’m jealous! I do hope they’re having a ton of fun.

Meanwhile, I’m fixing supper. What are y’all having? I actually started ours this morning.

Potato Soup

This is not the plain fare potato soup of the past. I think I got this one off of Babycenter many, many moons ago. I can’t remember.

You’ll need:
5 lb potatoes, cubed (I have no idea how many potatoes I put it but I highly doubt it’s 5lbs. I doubt it’s 3lbs to be honest. Just chop up a bunch of potatoes)
1 block of cream cheese, diced up
5-6 slices of bacon, precooked and diced
1 medium onion, sliced
2-3 cans chicken broth (homemade is better, if you have it!)
Low Sodium people!!!!
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup (some kind of Cream of X Soup, this time I used Southwestern Pepperjack) Again…Low Sodium!
Onion powder, garlic pepper and pepper were thrown in there too.

This is the hard part.

Put it all in the crock and cook on low for 7-8 hours.

Hard wasn’t it??

Side notes:
I ended up adding more liquid (water, just a bit). I wanted to make sure I had enough liquid to cover the potatoes. Since I used homemade broth, it was frozen and took a while for me to determine if I needed to add just a bit of water, which I did.

We serve it with toasted bread strips, toasted tortillas sliced up or grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s a nice, creamy soup. The cream cheese melts along the way and just adds to the richness. If you want it to thicken, you can add a tablespoon of flour and then give it a little time to do it’s job. Go easy on this…too much and you’ll have a paste. In the words of Alton, paste=bad eats.

The house smells wonderful. It’s a cold rainy night so I’m looking forward to cuddling in front of the fire with some hot soup! I wish I could take a picture for yall but two heathens have relocated my camera for me…

Enjoy!

Carrie

ETA: If you’re not at Blissdom, link up to Blessed Moon’s “I’m Not At Blissdom Blog hop!”

ETA2: I’m also going to link up to Jen’s Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Week 1 Budget Update:

Ok, I decided to do a separate Week 2 update since I’m pretty sure we’ll go over.  That Boone…nearly out of food AGAIN.

Week one: 
Groceries/Household:  15.53 + 5.50:  21.03!!!!
Pets:  6.14

I decided that I’m going to separate pet/feed items.  They only get 1 food so it’s not like they can make do or anything.  I just posted it to keep it true to form since I originally thought I could keep it all together like I have in the past. 

We came in under budget!!!!  I had to buy diapers for our house, dishwasher detergent (Yall, it’s been A YEAR since I bought any—I got a bunch free last year with coupons and then MIL hooked us up around April with even more!), and bread.  Hunter stopped on Friday at a Discount Bakery store he passed and picked up bread, rolls and hoagie buns so that’s the extra $5.50. 

Not too shabby for Week 1.  Week 2 may be a dud though.  I had to get diapers for the sitter and a few things we ran out of.  Sigh…But I have until the end of the week before I have to confess THAT to yall. 

I want to add that if you haven’t tried The Pioneer Woman’s White Chili, please do!  It’s worth it.  Hunter and I have really enjoyed it last night and today.  It reminds me of the Chicken Tortilla soup at McAlister’s Deli if there’s one of those near you.

C-re

To Die For Chocolate Syrup Recipe

In my efforts to cut our grocery bill, I’ve been finding recipes to replace some of the convenience things that we tend to use a lot of. I’ve yet to discover the secret to Hamburger Helper and yes, we like it. Do you know I’d never had Hamburger Helper until Hunter and I were married? Weird, right?
Anyway, tonight I was making homemade chocolate syrup and thought share it with you since it’s one of my favorite homemade things that I make from scratch. My boys LOVE chocolate milk. LOVE it. Hunter consumes it. I, very seriously, buy 3-4 gallons of milk a week. Oy. It was killing me back when milk was nearly $5 a gallon. And the powdered chocolate milk stuff that Hunter likes is expensive in my opinion. I prefer Hershey’s syrup (since I can top off my chocolate ice cream with it!). I haven’t tried a powdered chocolate mix recipe yet (Hunter won’t like it anyway), but I did stumble up on a liquid version that I’ve fallen in love with.
I found this recipe on Babycenter and now I can’t find the post to thank the person who shared it. I think she goes by Deedle, so Deedle, thanks! I’ve only tweaked it a tiny, tiny bit.
(Just a note: No pictures. Sorry! Crappy blogger that I am, I didn’t think about sharing this until the last minute. NeverMIND that my camera is on the MICROWAVE.)


Homemade Chocolate Syrup
1/2 cup firmly packed cocoa powder (or dark chocolate cocoa powder if you dare)
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt

Whisk together cocoa powder and water in medium sauce pan over medium to medium high heat.
Add all of the sugar and whisk until it dissolves. Be sure it dissolves before you go any further or you’ll end up with grainy syrup. I just get a little on my spoon and let it cool a second or two before sticking my fingers in it to see if it’s got a grainy texture. If so, keep stirring (and enjoy licking your fingers).
Once it’s all dissolved, let it get to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes. Like Deedle, I found that I had to continuously whisk and also to constantly remove it from the heat source since it wanted to boil over if I didn’t. Boiled over and burnt chocolate syrup is nasty people, nasty. Trust me. There’s no salvaging it. Just stand there with it.
After it’s boiled for 3 minutes, remove it completely from the heat (turn off your stove please!). Add in the vanilla and the salt and stir it well. I got a nice little sizzle with my pure vanilla extract.
Let it cool and put it in a sealable container (I use one of those plastic screw top containers with a spout). Store it in your frig forever. Seriously, it can last a long time. If you can resist it! I typically double this recipe and fill a 32oz storage container; lasts a little less than 2 weeks ’round here. The only downside is that the spout gets caked with dried sauce if you don’t wipe it each time but it’s nothing that a little water on a towel can’t fix.
This stuff is fantastic. Better than Hershey’s I dare say. Now, if you want to follow the “Cre must tweak every recipe” mode, just go ahead and substitute some of the dark powder cocoa for the regular cocoa. I dare you. Your eyes will roll back in your head, I promise!


Enjoy!
C-re