Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

My Week(200!!) in iPhone Photos

Monday, September 1st, 2014

200 WEEKS of mostly terrible, blurry, boring photos of the normal stuff we do every day. I have no idea why I’ve kept this up for so long but I’m glad I have. The first week I did it, I was pregnant with Caroline. This week, she went to her first day of real school. Never has 200 weeks seemed so short.

Sunday:

sunday1

Grocery shopping with 3 kids is a pain, but a baby who sleeps the whole time makes it better

sunday2

This haircut cost me $37 – $17 for cut + tip, $20 for the Legos I promised him if he just SAT STILL

sunday3

“This chair is like my THRONE!”

 Monday:

monday1

Making zucchini bread in our pajamas

monday2

That Lego set was totally worth the $20

monday3

He sleeps with his eyes open. NOT CREEPY AT ALL.

Tuesday:

tuesday1

“Mommy, I love love LOVE Baby Lincoln!”

tuesday2

Showing off his kindergarten cubby at orientation

tuesday3

No one wants to hold my hand when Daddy makes an appearance.

Wednesday:

wednesday1

All summer long the kids have been up at 6 am. I took this at 7:10 on Evan’s first day of school.

wednesday2

It’s such a shame she’s so shy and quiet.

wednesday3

Linc agrees that school starting is very exciting.

Thursday:

thursday1

Obviously they’ve got the moves

thursday2

I think her first day was fun?

thursday3

Entertaining ourselves with shadows while we wait (FOREVERRRRRR) for Evan’s bus

Friday:

friday1

I really hope she comes out of her shell at school.

friday2

Showing off his brother to his best friend

friday3

Farmer’s Market night gets an A+++++ for food and friends

Saturday:

saturday1

I spent most of the morning like this. It was lovely.

saturday2

They’ve never met a big, flat field they didn’t want to run across

saturday3

My photography assistant fell asleep on the job. Again.

And there you go, 21 more unremarkable pictures of our life. The only thing that’s going to change in the near future is I’m going to upgrade my iPhone, so maybe my pictures will get slightly better. Although not more interesting. We’re pretty boring, and I’m OK with that.

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What’s For Dinner: Easy Ravioli With Sausage And Tomatoes

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

I was going to call this “What’s For Dinner: Stuff I Bought At Target” but my friend Amy pointed out some Targets don’t have as much food as others. Maybe your Target doesn’t have a frozen food section, or dried herbs, or the specific brand of tomatoes I like, or any sausage. I don’t want to get angry emails saying “I TRIED TO MAKE YOUR RECIPE BUT THEY DIDN’T HAVE RAVIOLI AT MY TARGET SO MY LIFE IS RUINED.”

You wouldn’t think people could get so mad over a problem easily solved (try the grocery store! Or even Walmart!), but then you’d remember this is the internet.  The most hateful comments I’ve ever gotten were about a tutu.

But back to food, since food is pretty much all I have left to enjoy at 32 weeks pregnant. Delicious, cheesy food.

Ravioli with Sausage and Tomatoes @bebehblog

A recipe that only takes a handful of ingredients that I can keep on hand AND children eat is the Holy Grail of dinners around here. I don’t even consider frozen ravioli cheating when it comes to “homemade” – if I didn’t get it from a drive-thru, we’re doing really well. (Have I mentioned I just discovered the joys of frozen meatballs and rotisserie chickens from the grocery store too???) Both kids ate the noodles, Caroline ate a ton of sausage and Evan pushed the tomatoes around on his plate. I added lots of red pepper flakes for my helping, but if you made it for grown ups you could use spicy sausage for even better flavor – the package I used was “garlic and cheese”.

Ravioli With Sausage And Tomatoes

1 24 oz bag frozen ravioli (cheese, spinach & cheese, whatever)
1 28 oz can Tuttorosso diced tomatoes
16 oz Italian sausage (whatever kind you like – if you buy precooked chicken sausage this would be even faster)
1 TBS dried basil
1 TBS dried oregano
Parmesan cheese
Red pepper flakes
Salt

Cook the ravioli according to package directions. Most of the time that involves boiling a pot of water and just tossing them in for a few minutes. In the mean time, cut the sausage into small/medium sized pieces and brown it in a skillet until fully cooked. Drain the sausage of most of the fat. Open the tomato can and drain about 3/4 of the liquid (If you want saucier tomatoes you can skip that step. Saucy!) then throw them in the pan with the sausage. Add basil and oregano, then salt to taste. Simmer the sauce for just a few minutes to let the sausage soak up some of the tomatoes. Drain the ravioli and you’re ready to serve! Top with cheese and red pepper to taste.

Ravioli with Sausage and Tomatoes @bebehblog

It almost seems too easy, but I promise the tomatoes + sausage make a delicious combination. I’m a big fan of the Tuttorosso brand (they actually sent me a few cans, but I already had a dozen in my pantry) and they’re easy to find – look for the green and yellow labels. Technically this should serve 4, but if you are hungry or pregnant I’d say only 2 grown ups plus 2 kids.

Although right now I am fully confident I could eat the entire thing entirely by myself.

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Cranberry Orange Bread

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

I made a test loaf of cranberry orange bread and ate 75% of it before I remembered I needed to take a picture if I wanted to post the recipe. My second try was even more delicious AND I managed to wait until it was cool to take it out of the pan so I had a nice loaf for photos. It’s definitely a dessert bread, but who says you can’t have dessert in the morning with a cup of coffee, dessert at noon with a little butter and two slices of dessert after dinner? Cranberry orange bread reminds me of the holidays, although I can’t quite remember why. It’s also a good way to include cranberries with Thanksgiving in case you’re one of those crazy people who don’t like real cranberry sauce.

cranberry orange bread

Cranberry Orange Bread

12 oz cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt

1 egg
1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/2 Tablespoons orange zest (about 1 medium orange)
3/4 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Combine the cranberries, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup orange juice in a bowl. Stir well and let the berries soak while you mix the batter. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Combine the wet ingredients in a medium bowl and stir well, making sure to fully beat the egg. Add the wet ingredients and the berry mixture to the dry ingredients and stir. Use a spatula to scrape the bowl and make sure it’s fully combined. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan (approximately 9x5x3) and bake at 350 for one hour or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Use the tester or a toothpick to poke holes in the top of the loaf.

Mix 1 Tablespoon water and 1 cup powdered sugar in a small bowl. Add a splash or two of orange juice until you get a good drizzling consistency. When the loaf has cooled a little, run a sharp knife around the edge and flip the pan over to release the bread. Put the cranberry orange bread right-side up on a plate and drizzle with the glaze. Eat and enjoy.

cranberry orange bread

cranberry orange bread

Yum yum yum yum. I will say, 12 oz of cranberries is a lot of cranberries, as you can see from the sliced shots. You can adjust the amount of cranberries down (or add more orange zest if you want it to be EXTRA orange-y) without affecting the recipe or cook time.

cranberry orange bread

 

 

 

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I Promise I’ll Never End Up On Extreme Couponers

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Do you ever start doing something and then think “Whoa, this is SO EASY and yet makes SUCH A DIFFERENCE I cannot believe I wasn’t doing it already!”? I suspect you have, since I do it at least once a week – chances are people smarter than myself do it occasionally.

Specifically, I have started putting some effort into reducing our grocery bill. We really need to get our finances in better shape (too much holiday spending, a car that needs replaced, other stuff that makes being an adult kind of suck, etc etc etc) but my previous all-or-nothing attempts have always ended with…nothing. I’m terrible at that approach.

This time I have been much more successful because I limited myself to two(ish)  particular changes. Let me tell you about them in great detail!

First, I stopped throwing away the grocery store circular they mail me each week in the free town paper. I don’t subscribe to the real newspaper paper and I don’t have to remember to go buy one on Sundays – this just shows up, with no cost or effort besides remembering not to toss it in the recycling bin. In the past I would save ALL the circulars and stare at them thinking “I should compare prices on stuff and make a chart and go to each store to buy specific things where they are the cheapest”. That never happened. I would end up at my regular grocery store with no idea what was on sale, buying things on impulse along with the things on my list.

Now instead of setting my bar at “find the very lowest prices and drive to three different grocery stores to save money” I settle for “Look at the circular of the one store where I shop”. I specifically look at stuff I know we are running out of, proteins, and convenient foods for the kids like Goldfish and fruit snacks. I discovered that even organic fruit goes on sale sometimes, so I can get the fancy apples for less than the regular ones if I’m paying attention. (I also discovered fruit in general is a really cheap snack – plus the kids can help themselves. WIN-WIN!)

On top of the regular sales, my grocery store (Stop & Shop – it’s the same as Giant in other parts of the country) has a few coupons attached to their ad that can bring the sale prices of an item even lower. For example, cherry tomatoes are usually $3.99. They were on sale for $2.99. With the coupon on the circular they were $1.99. That’s totally worth the ten seconds it took me to cut it out. The idea of “couponing” as depicted on TV and the more intimidating parts of the internet is still so overwhelming my brain completely shuts down at the very thought. I do not scour the internet for coupons. I do not steal my neighbor’s papers to get coupons. I don’t buy stuff I never would have bought without a coupon and hoard it in my basement. But if I can buy something with the coupon that I KNOW I will need (last week it was butter, down from $3.49 to $1.99) I will buy it and freeze it. There are also sometimes coupons to get bonus gas points, which is literally free money. Saving 30+ cents a gallon adds up over the course of a few months.

The second thing I do is meal plan with specific foods in mind. I enjoy meal planning. It reduces the “What’s for dinner?” stress by 10000% and results in a lot fewer pizzas and fast-food runs. But until recently, all I did was pull out my cookbooks, binders, magazines and Pinterest board to see what sounded good. Then I’d make a list, buy ALL THE THINGS and make dinner for 4-5 nights in a row. Now I am looking at my store circular and making note of what main ingredients are on sale BEFORE I plan. Two weeks ago I had a coupon for chuck roast. Since I know I can make easy, delicious, left-over producing drip beef sandwiches with a chuck roast, drip beef went on the menu. Recently my friend Mae suggested I check out Budget Bytes for inexpensive recipes and I am really enjoying it. (Special shout out to the dragon noodles which I’ve already made twice!) The site has lots of interesting, quick, easy recipes without tons of fancy, one-off ingredients. Buying a whole bottle of safflower oil because a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon will blow your budget quickly. With this kind of focus at the grocery store, I get MUCH less distracted by the bright shiny sales on stuff I don’t need. My mind gets in a zone – Must! Find! Exact! Pork Loin! On! Sale! – and shopping takes LESS time than it used to.

The other part of my new meal plan (which is the “ish” part of saying I’ve only done two(ish) things to save money) is making things from scratch. So far I have made focaccia rolls, pita bread, pasta sauce and hummus – none of them were very difficult and all were cheaper than their store-bought versions. I realize not everyone wants to do that much cooking/baking – in fact MOST people don’t, which is why there are 400 different kinds of tomato sauce in jars – but I have the time and interest so I’m happy to be doing it.

The result is our grocery budget has been reduced by almost 50% ALREADY. On my first big shopping trip after I started being more mindful I saved 30% – around $40. My second smaller trip I saved 40%. My grocery store prints a running total of how much I’ve saved over the year at the bottom of my receipt and my goal is to get over $1200 by the end of 2013. That works out saving $100 a month with a food budget of around $350 a month, which includes breakfasts for me and the kids, lunch for me and the kids, lunch for E to take to work, dinner for all of us plus snacks, fruit and special treats. I’ve never tried to stick to a budget so closely before, so I’m not completely confident in my ability to do it but I am TRYING…which costs nothing.

As you can probably see from the list of stuff I’ve been making, I haven’t been keeping up with Paleo eating while I’ve been trying to reduce our costs. It’s hard to do both – grass-fed beef, coconut oil, nuts and organic produce add up quickly while flour and potatoes are cheap – but I’m hoping as I get better at it (and once our CSA starts up again) I can get back to my bacon diet. 

Since I’ve made these changes with so little effort I’m totally open to more ideas. What do you do to save money at the grocery store?

p.s.

regrowing green onions

Want to feel like MacGyver mixed with Laura Ingalls? Put the white part of your green onions in a glass of water and regrow them. BOOM! Money saving AND cool to watch. (Tip from The Kitchn via Homemade Serenity)

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Six Kitchen Timesavers

Friday, June 29th, 2012

My first tip for saving time in the kitchen is really easy…if you have a huge kitchen and a pile of money: two dishwashers. It’s amazing. You always have one to put dishes in so you don’t end up with a pile in your sink or doing a load half-full just because you don’t want them to sit in the dishwasher getting crusty. Of course, that’s not exactly the most practical kitchen tip for everyone (including me) so here are a few that might be more helpful: (more…)

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