Tuesday, August 30

Scraping the Bottom

    I don't know about everyone else, but my family lives on a budget. When the limit is hit on groceries, gas, etc, that's it until next paycheck. Well, I've been countin' down the days until the next payday. Since I haven't been able to go to the grocery to supplement my pantry, it has forced me to get creative. Just opening the door come dinner-time and looking at the shelves, there is not much that meets the eye. It's left me feeling as if I'm scraping the bottom for those last few tasty morsels. 

    The result? I think I've gotten more heartfelt comments from the hubby than usual. Yay! :)

Monday was a soup & grilled cheese. This may not sound like much, but it was hearty and stick-to-your-ribs good.  Just take a look:

    Into a large pot, over medium heat, went a can of cream of potato and a can of cream of mushroom soups. Then whisked in was a can of vegetable broth. While that started coming to a simmer, I diced up half of the white-turned-red bell pepper and half of the purple bell pepper. I also minced up a few cloves of garlic. I heated some olive oil in a pan and when it was ready, the garlic got tossed in. Tossed it around a bit until it started turning golden then the bell peppers joined in. After a few minutes of tossing it all together, I scraped the pan into the soup pot. I also stirred in about a cup or so of pureed sweet potato. I almost forgot to mention the spices! I believe (I didn't write it down so I don't remember exactly) that I stirred in ground nutmeg, ground allspice, onion powder, and white pepper. For the sandwiches, I didn't want to use the usual Velveeta. I sliced up some block mozzarella and block sharp cheddar. We each had a sandwich with mustard, mozzarella slices, and cheddar slices. Abby and I had sliced tomatoes in ours. Then the sammies went into the pan. Then I plated it all up. Surprisingly DE-lish!
Purple bell pepper
Sliced fresh tomato
Two Potato Soup with Grilled Cheese & Tomato Sammies

Tuesday was a little different--a little more involved. But definitely well worth the effort! 

    So I finally finished the cooking process for my chickpeas today. By the way, shelling those suckers is a major pain! It takes forever and it seems impossible to get them all. Anyway, these were finished cooking and so were sitting off to the side. 
    Using my rice cooker, I cooked a half & half mixture of brown rice and medium-grained white rice. This is a double purpose tool that allows me to steam a veggie at the same time. So while the rice was cooking, I had an acorn squash (previously peeled and chopped) steaming up. While those were cooking, I diced up the last of both bell peppers from Monday along with a few cloves of fresh garlic. 
    I sauteed the garlic in a pot with olive oil until golden brown before adding the diced peppers. These sauteed up for a few more minutes, then was taken off the heat. By now, the rice and squash had finished cooking. So now, with the main players sitting around, I took out my food processor. 
    I added a few handfuls of the cooked & cooling chickpeas, along with a healthy dose of olive oil. 
    Then pulsed for a bit. 
    Then added more olive oil and some cilantro. 
    Then continued to process. It seemed pasty so I added probably about 1/2 a cup total of vegetable broth, garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt and black pepper. After processing some more, taste to make sure you are happy with it. 
    Then I added about half of the acorn squash and a couple tablespoons of the sauteed garlic & bell pepper mixture. 
    Then processed some more. Nice and smooth. 
    I added about 3/4 of the rice to the pot holding the garlic and bell pepper mixture and stirred it all together. 
    Then added in the chickpea "sauce" followed by the remaining acorn squash. Stir it all up. 
    Then when plating, top with a small dollop of sour cream (yes, a deviation from my usual Greek yogurt) and a small shred of my remaining sharp cheddar and mozzarella block cheeses. 
    Oh my goodness! If you having nothing else on hand but this, your family will never know you didn't plan it! I promise! ;) 
    The peppers add a nice crisp sweetness to it that radiates throughout the whole dish, with the rice creating the basis for it all. When you get a chunk of the acorn squash, you taste a subtle sweetness that pairs really well with the peppers. 

It's definitely a happy dance going on in your mouth. :)

White-turned-red bell pepper
Purple bell pepper

Squashed Chickpea Rice

    I realized that I told you that I added only 3/4 of the rice, so what happens to the rest? My plan is to use it in a soup that  I'm planning on making later this week. It's going to use some homemade baked beans I whipped up last week--from scratch, using dried beans. Oh yeaaaaaa. 

So if there's one thing I hope to have imparted to you is that even though the pantry may seem bare (or really really bare), you can always pull something delicious together for the family!

Sunday, August 28

Friday's Pizza & a Movie Night

Mini Pizzas using refrigerated biscuits and brownies with salty pretzels nestled inside!

Thursday, August 25

Weekday Mornings

    Here in my neck of the woods, school is back in full swing and I have suddenly become very aware of what my family is putting in their bellies first thing in the morning. Is that cereal going to stay with my kindergartner all morning? Is my hubby really going to eat something when he gets to work? Most likely he'll get too busy and forget to eat until about lunch. As for my bundle of energy, well, I need to make sure her breakfast really counts. Of course without anyone getting bored with what is being served up. I admit, I am bored with the cereal-for-breakfast routine. So let's keep it interesting...

Tuesday, August 23

A Taste of What's to Come!

    Headed out to Kyleigh's bus stop this morning, I noticed something before I had even closed the door behind me. It was cool. I don't mean 'awesome' or 'neat' or 'nifty'. I mean, the temperature was actually cool! I thought Abby was going to tell me she was cold when the breeze blew. It felt AMAZING!

    On the way back home, Abby and I decided it was perfect weather for opening some windows--that's just how awesome it feels. So we get back and the windows are open and I've got my cuppa joe and the news is on in the background. (Shocking, I know. Since when do I get to watch the news?!?! :) ) I'm thinking to myself, "man, I love that it smells like fall...I can smell cinnamon in the air" then I stopped.

Sniffed again.

I really did smell cinnamon hanging in the air. Wait a sec, it's quiet.

Where is my kid?

In the kitchen, with my dog, and the cinnamon bottle in her hand and my kitchen floor is now patchy brown.

I just started laughing--it really DID smell like fall this morning! :)  In the fall kinda mood, I decided Abby and I needed to take a trip to the Farmer's Market. Off we went!

Friday, August 19

A Little Out of Touch...You Would Be Too!

I was a bit absent from the blogging world this week. I actually took Thing 1 and Thing 2 to the beach. It was kind of our way of saying good-bye to my step-father's place at the beach. (He's not selling it...but it's not really a story to be shared as it's not my story to tell.) And what's nice about this place is that it is so disconnected from the world. 

    There's a tv, but no cable. Outlets (of course) to plug in my laptop, but no Internet. A kitchen, but no working oven. A bathroom, but a shower outside that you use instead. Paved roads, but you'd rather ride a bike. It's a place to go to slip out of the bonds that tie us down day-to-day. 

    It's on North Carolina's Crystal Coast. Hidden off of the main road, there is no way you could ever tell there is a small little street lined with double-wides that provide people an escape from the world. Standing on the beach with your back to the ocean, you still wouldn't be able to know about this street as it is hidden behind large dunes. Sound like a good place to escape?

Thursday, August 18

Eggs Benedict Mini-Series--Week 4

This is it! The culmination of the first mini series! Hard to believe this is the fourth week already. 

So let's rewind a bit.

    The first week we learned that eggs Benedict is a specialty dish served for breakfast, or lunch, or even brunch. The dish starts with a toasted English muffin half that is then topped with a slice of ham, or Canadian bacon, followed by a poached egg, and finally topped with a healthy dollop of hollandaise sauce. 
    While the construction of the dish is pretty straightforward, the history behind it is not. And we'll leave it at that for the "sum up". 

    After learning about the components that make up the dish, it became time to examine the pieces. The second week we delved into the poached egg layer. We discovered a few different approaches, but all-in-all, it boiled (no pun intended, seriously) down to the same way. 
There were a few missteps but my egg poaching will improve the more I do it--as is the truth with anything. 

Friday, August 12

Pictures and a Coupon Offer!!

    There's a saying I'm sure we are all familiar with: You eat with your eyes. It is because of this that pictures are so important when writing about food--from blogs to cookbooks. But let's move away from food for a minute post. Pictures capture moments in our lives and are vital to remembering where we've been.

    Time flies since I've had my girls--my oldest is already 5 years old and in kindergarten with my "baby" already 2 years old! While I'm in the moment, I think that I'll always be able to remember exactly what is going on...but so much happens in life that we can't always remember everything without pictures. Luckily, I have more pictures than I know what to do with that chronicle the growth and experiences of my family.

    As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program with KODAK Gallery, I was selected to create a FREE Quickstart Photo Book. How exciting! A new way to bring my pictures together in a way that everyone can enjoy--and that doesn't take weeks to put together like other projects, such as scrapbooks. 

Kodak Gallery - Celebrate your KODAK MOMENTS

    Making a Photo Book with Kodak Gallery, I was able to use the cool new Quickstart Photo Book features. I was in complete control of my photos and my project by being able to resize, move, rotate, and even overlay my photo images and text. All at the tips of my fingers with someone else putting it together for me!

Thursday, August 11

Eggs Benedict Mini-Series--Week 3

It's Thursday, and you know what that means! The next installment of the Eggs Benedict Series. 

This week features the hollandaise sauce. I imagine that, with time, the sauce becomes easier to prepare--much like poaching the eggs. Another component to getting it right is having a recipe you are comfortable with. Don't fret, there are many to choose from.

Wednesday, August 10

Surprise Package!

    Do you remember way back in the day when you used to get a letter in the mail? Not a bill ('cause those still come in the mailbox), not junk mail, but a hand-written letter for YOU waiting in your mailbox--the one ya have to walk to, and not the one sitting in your desktop. And how about when it arrives out of the blue? You aren't expecting anything and then BAM! An envelope that has your name written across the front is hidden amid, well, everything else! It's like you just got a warm hug. 

    Now while I didn't find a letter, a package did arrive today. Getting a package delivered evokes the same feeling as receiving a hand-written letter, don't you agree? Even when you know a package is on its way it's still fun when there's a knock on the door and a box with goodies is on the other side. It's like Christmas--sort of.

So I had an unexpected knock on my door this morning! 

Perhaps the hubby bought something online I forgot about?  No. 

Maybe he ordered M&M's for me again. (Oh yes, he's ordered special personalized M&M's for me before.)  Still no. 

Then I get it onto the kitchen table and tear it open.

Monday, August 8

Muffins with a Side of Mondays

    Last fall toward the end of pumpkin season, I bought up some of the last pumpkins I could find at the farmer's market. I took 'em home, steamed them, pureed them, and then froze them so I could break out the fresh pumpkin during the summer--when most pumpkins are unavailable since they are still growing. 

    The first container out in order to thaw was the white pumpkin puree. (Sometimes called Cinderella pumpkins.) I placed it in the fridge on a Tuesday, and on Thursday we had nachos and quesadillas for dinner. Seeing the now-thawed pumpkin, I used some of it in the cheese sauce (along with pureed peas) to increase the nutritional value of probably the one thing my girls would devour. :) They didn't suspect a thing. ::Insert evil laugh here::

    Coming back into the kitchen ready to make muffins, the remaining puree was looking out at me asking to be picked.....so I obliged. :) 

And we came up with---

White Pumpkin Raisin Muffins

Thursday, August 4

Eggs Benedict Mini Series--Week 2 Poaching

I would say 'Ah, Thursday already' but it's one of those weeks where it is almost shocking that it is only Thursday.  

During this last week, I've been compiling egg poaching recipes, how-to's, tips, and techniques. 

Then I tried them out, took pictures, and noted the result of each. May seem tedious, but I've actually had a lot of fun--I ever mention I'm a closet nerdy-type? I totally love learning new things and learning to poach an egg is no exception. 

I've got my steno pad, eggs, small bowls, vinegar and a tablespoon. 
Bring 'em on!

Monday, August 1

Giant Breakfast Muffins--Avocado Banana!

Do I smell a Muffin Monday in the air? Perhaps.

Today it is more of an Avocado Banana Muffin aroma. And these are GIANT muffins! :)

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