Posts tagged ‘Cooking’

Monday, November 23, 2009

weekly accounts

from-the-kitchen1

A big part of my keeping to a budget has been menu planning. Each week I take a look at what’s in the cupboard and decide what to make for dinner each evening. Breakfast is every man for himself and lunch is dependent on whether the husband is home or not. Planning dinners has allowed me to shop sales and make sure the food we buy gets used and not thrown away. Plus I love to find recipes and then ignore them when I cook, the menu plan gives me a starting point. So let’s see what’s on for this week…

I am not even attempting a menu plan this week.  We move on Wednesday and I’ve spent the past six days packing boxes.  I hate packing the kitchen so I don’t even want to spend any mental time there right now.  Our meals will come from the freezer and cupboard, be simple, easy and use no more than two pans, a spoon or a spatula as everything else is packed.

felix

We are using a system that is somewhat based on $80/week for grocery and non-edible and the $50 a week budget. Each week we calculate how much we spent overall and I announce if we are under or over budget.

eating out – $49.42

grocery – $7.99

grocery non-edible – $5.42

Apparently sending the husband and Toddler L away for a few days is all my budget needs.  Thanks Grandma and Grandpa for feeding my family.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

weekly accounts

from-the-kitchen1

A big part of my keeping to a budget has been menu planning.  Each week I take a look at what’s in the cupboard and decide what to make for dinner each evening.  Breakfast is every man for himself and lunch is dependent on whether the husband is home or not.  Planning dinners has allowed me to shop sales and make sure the food we buy gets used and not thrown away.  Plus I love to find recipes and then ignore them when I cook, the menu plan gives me a starting point.  So let’s see what’s on for this week…

Saturday – clean-out-the-fridge scramble

Sunday – HOHO

No menu plan for the rest as we leave for Portland on Monday.  Gone all week.  Looking forward to a week of no cooking.  Or at least no real cooking, hotel room lunches don’t count.

felix

We are using a system that is somewhat based on $80/week for grocery and non-edible and the $50 a week budget.  Each week we calculate how much we spent overall and I announce if we are under or over budget.

eating out – $125.01

grocery – $117.37

grocery non-edible – $14.57

We had a very active week.  Which equaled a lot of eating out apparently.  So what were all the groceries?  I did not create a shopping list and am paying the price.  Literally.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

funky lunches

funky lunch

Super cute, right?  Thanks to Toddler L’s choosy eating habits I may be resorting to this style of sandwich making soon.  At least it will be a good release of creative energy.  And a good use of my homemade bread.  Plenty more cuteness here.

via Design Mom

Saturday, September 12, 2009

weekly accounts

from-the-kitchen1

A big part of my keeping to a budget has been menu planning.  Each week I take a look at what’s in the cupboard and decide what to make for dinner each evening.  Breakfast is every man for himself and lunch is dependent on whether the husband is home or not.  Planning dinners has allowed me to shop sales and make sure the food we buy gets used and not thrown away.  Plus I love to find recipes and then ignore them when I cook, the menu plan gives me a starting point.  So let’s see what’s on for this week…

Saturday – broccoli brown rice casserole

Sunday – we’ll be at Lampost Pizza – not having a TV means going out when certain teams are playing a certain game called football

Monday – brats, sauteed carrots

Tuesday – tuna casserole

Wednesday – pizza

Thursday – garbanzo beans and ? (I’ve never cooked with garbanzos, I’m not even a huge fan, but I’m trying to change both of those things)

Friday – creamy tomato gnocchi

felix

We are using a system that is somewhat based on $80/week for grocery and non-edible and the $50 a week budget.  Each week we calculate how much we spent overall and I announce if we are under or over budget.

Shopping in the cupboard and freezer has really helped again this week.  I can only hope to see more weeks like this one at any time in the future.

eating out – $39.74

grocery – $35.46

grocery non-edible – $1.2o

Wow, I’m loving those numbers.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

weekly accounts

from-the-kitchen1

It’s Sunday night.  Actually it’s late Sunday night.  I’m sort of behind this whole weekend.  I blame Toddler L.  He’s two, I can blame him for most anything.  Actually, he’s not two for another two days.  And I can only blame myself for the amount of work spent on his birthday party yesterday.  (It was totally worth it and I loved every minute of the prep, but more to come on that in a future post.)  Planning, executing and recovering from the party have put me behind schedule so please excuse the lateness of this week’s menu.  Let’s see what we’ve had and what’s to come…

Saturday – we broke down and picked up something, Mama was just way too tired for all the above-mentioned reasons

Sunday – buttermilk puff (I modified a Joy of Cooking recipe and came up with something wonderful.  I’m working on a name and will probably add it to the cooking page when I have it perfected)

Monday – baked pasta with spinach and roasted cauliflower

Tuesday – pineapple pork (I have no idea what this means but I’ll come up with something by Tuesday)

Wednesday – pizza

Thursday – chicken tenders

Friday – pesto pasta with shrimp

felix

We are using a system that is somewhat based on $80/week for grocery and non-edible and the $50 a week budget.  Each week we calculate how much we spent overall and I announce if we are under or over budget.

Again with the birthday excuses.  Because my head was in party planning mode I wasn’t paying as much attention to this category as I should.  I’ll find out as I tabulate it here if that was a kind-of bad or really-really bad thing.

I did do one good thing though.  We only bought fruit, veg and some dairy groceries this week.  Our cupboards have become a little to well stocked and I decided it was time to eat them down.  I’m hoping that helped the budget, let’s see…

eating out – $160.84

grocery – $37.20

grocery non-edible – $12.06

Apparently buying from the cupboard can really make a dent in the grocery spending.  Maybe I’ll just keep doing that until there’s no food left.  Also apparently, going out for two birthday dinners for the husband (one with friends, one just us for sushi) is a killer on the eating out budget.  At least all the birthdays are behind us now.  Life in the kitchen can get back to normal.  No, really.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

weekly accounts

from-the-kitchen1

We’re having a heat wave in Southern California.  We don’t have air conditioning.  We’re going out to dinner.  But wait, those two things are not related.  No really.  It’s the husband’s birthday today and he shares it with a friend so the annual tradition is going out for dinner.  Today, I don’t mind at all.  What will we be eating the rest of this too hot week?

Saturday – out for dinner

Sunday – crepes (made them for husband’s breakfast, being super loverly and making them again for him)

Monday – madras lentil (from a box) and rice

Tuesday – pineapple chicken (I don’t know what this is, I’m making something with pineapple and chicken)

Wednesday – pizza

Thursday – sloppy joes

Friday – pesto pasta with shrimp

felix

We are using a system that is somewhat based on $80/week for grocery and non-edible and the $50 a week budget.  Each week we calculate how much we spent overall and I announce if we are under or over budget.

We are typically over budget recently.  Either this means the budget isn’t realistic for us or we just don’t follow it.  I’m going to go with a mix of the two.  Yeah, that works for me.  This week we are…

eating out – $70.36

grocery – $104.59

grocery non-edible – $6.87

$31.46 and $49.95 over budget depending on which system you count.  I can only guess that I’m spending too much time planning Toddler L’s party to properly review what is coming into this house.  I’m loving the party planning but this spending has got to go.  I’ll be working on that next week.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

helpful tip #3

tips

I think the best thing I ever learned from my mother was how to boil rice like pasta.

Okay, maybe not the very best thing.  That might have had to do with mascara.  Or boys.  Or peanut butter and pickle sandwiches.  But this is a close second.

Apparently cooking rice like pasta is quite normal in Canada.  I don’t know how I missed it while growing up, but here in the States very few seem to be in on the secret.

Here’s the secret.

Put water in a pot.  Boil water.  Add parboiled rice.  Continue boiling until rice is tender.  Drain rice.  Eat.

No water to rice ratio.  No simmering.  No rice sticking to the bottom of the pan even though you followed the directions exactly.  I don’t know how it works with other types of rice but as for white rice, my life will never be the same again.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

weekly accounts

from-the-kitchen1

I am pretty good (or pretty bad depending on your perspective) at making decisions that have a major effect on my family.  Joining the Compact was a big one.  Now I’ve decided that we are limiting our meat intake (at home) to what is healthiest for our bodies and our planet.  Namely organic.  Needless to say, we aren’t eating a lot of meat anymore.  I was vegetarian for years so this doesn’t really bother me, the husband on the other hand has been adjusting.  More because I had gotten into the habit of cooking meat with almost every meal than because he was a die-hard fan.  I could make plain spaghetti every night and he would be pretty happy.  Now that meat is no longer a habit (and that’s really what it had become, strange I know), what will we be eating?

Saturday – spinach and rice

Sunday – buttermilk french toast

Monday – yellow curry with cauliflower and tofu

Tuesday – brown rice salad with tofu

Wednesday – pizza (still doin’ but requires more thought as I am off dairy until Baby S has better digestion)

Thursday – pork fried rice (last piece of pre-organic pork in the freezer)

Friday – brats with homemade buns (I love that I have homemade buns – sad and geeky I know, but true)

felix

Using a system that is somewhat based on $80/week for grocery and non-edible and the $50 a week budget of $125 we are well and truly overextended this week.  It’s amazing how it adds up at the end of the week.  I wasn’t really paying attention this week as I knew we weren’t buying meat (although I did buy almost 3 lbs of organic ground beef for an upcoming party).  I thought it would be easier to stay under budget without that expense.  Not so much apparently.  We did go to Costco as I needed vanilla, yeast and apple juice – all great buys there.  We also had several fun events, including major league and minor league baseball games, that hit our eating out budget.

eating out – $116.13

grocery – $120.87

grocery non-edible – $7.65

All in all a bad week.  But a good reminder that we need to pay more attention as the week progresses.  And make the shopping list early and stick to it.  And spend less money.

felix

In other news, I’m having a great time planning Toddler L’s birthday party.  I can’t believe he’s already 2.

I am probably more Martha Stewart than Edith Bunker when it comes to throwing a party but I am loving the challenge of doing it on a budget, with thrift store finds and in an eco-friendly manner.  Since we don’t have a backyard we are hosting at a wildlife preserve, so we’ve got that part of the green theme covered.  If all goes well I may post some pictures when it’s all said and done.  More planning and thrifting and crafting before we’re there though.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

correct change required

from-the-kitchen1

Alas, Monday Menus is no more.  I knew when I started that this would be an evolving process.  Not that I’m giving up my menu planning, it has become a key factor in keeping to a budget and keeping me happily in the kitchen night after night.  It’s more a matter of what I consider our week to be.  It used to be Sunday through Saturday, then it became Monday through Sunday.  Now our week is Saturday through Friday.  Why?  Does it really matter?

So, I am without title alliteration.  I thought about Saturday Splurge as this post covers the spending as well, but that didn’t really seem to portray that we have a pretty conservative budget and I’m trying to stick to it.  But that doesn’t really matter either.

On to business.  What’s on the menu?

Saturday – Nicoise pasta (kind of like a Nicoise salad with noodles instead of lettuce)

Sunday – buttermilk pancakes (I am really loving the Sunday breakfast for dinner thing)

Monday – beef stir fry

Tuesday – Indonesian style noodles

Wednesday – game food (also known as whatever can be found at Dodger Stadium that isn’t a Dodger dog)

Thursday – pizza (yes, pizza night is Wednesday but husband would be sad to skip a week)

Friday – hamburgers (organic, grass fed beef was on sale this week – even at $3.99/lb I’m happy to have it)

felix

I’ve also decided (at least for now) to only show what was spent in total instead of the store by store breakdown.  I don’t know that it’s all that interesting to me to have the greater detail, but I do like feeling accountable to stick somewhat close to our $80 budget.  And I think, as a compromise to the $50 a week kids I’m going to look at food (in & out) separately from our non-edible groceries.  Let’s see what this looks like…

eating out – $78.37

grocery – $62.42

grocery non-edible – $24.50

Saturday Splurge is actually pretty accurate for this week.  In our defense we were traveling through Monday and didn’t get to the grocery store until Wednesday.  That eating out total will be waaaaay less in the weeks to come.  Or else.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

the ultimate basic oatmeal chocolate chip cookie

There is just something so right about a cookie that blends the ultimate sweet – chocolate – with the ultimate healthy – oatmeal.   Okay, that may not be the ultimate healthy but it’s definitely leaning that direction.  I’m not really big on moderation, so a cookie that is so sweet I can eat just one is wasted on me.  And although oatmeal raisin cookies are a favorite, they can leave me feeling like my sweet tooth has not been satisfied.

These are my all-time favorite cookies.  And considering I’ve only been eating them for about two years that’s saying something.  The fact that the husband makes them has nothing to do with them being my favorite.  It does have something to do with him being my favorite though.  But I think he knows that.  The recipe originally came from my MIL so the husband is well familiar with this cookie.  So why haven’t I been eating them longer than two years?  That’s a good question.  I guess his desire to bake wasn’t as developed during the first several years of our relationship.  I’m glad he’s made amends with that part of himself.  I love the fact that the husband makes these so much that I actually offer them up to friends for fundraising events and such just so he has to make them.  And they’re darn good.  But I think I mentioned that.

Come on, let’s make some cookies.  You know you want to.  (Printable recipe at the end.)

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IMPORTANT NOTE: the picture does not reflect the ingredients list - we were making a half batch this day

The lovely ingredients for today’s adventure:  flour, baking soda, salt, butter, brown sugar, sugar, eggs, walnuts (optional – I’m a no nuts kinda cookie girl), milk, vanilla extract, rolled oats, chocolate chips.

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Set your oven rack to the 3/4 high position.  Or somewhere about the second from the top position.

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In a small bowl combine 1 1/3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  You could use just a pinch of salt but the husband is very accurate in his baking and insists on an even measure.

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This mixing bowl set has small, medium and large bowls, we use the largest bowl for this step.  You could use something smaller, this just works for us.  (I use the term us very loosely, you can see the husband’s hands doing the actual mixing, I’m just the gal taking pictures and sharing the story.)  Into the large bowl goes 2 sticks of softened butter, 1 1/4 cups of packed brown sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar.

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Beat this together until mixed but not overly so, more beating to come.

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Set the beater to the side and crack in 2 eggs.  (I like to do this one handed – it’s an old trick I love to show off, but this is husband’s cooking so crack, split, whatever, just be sure to dig out the broken shell bits.)  Then add 2 tablespoons milk and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.  I insist of the real deal, no imitation or I won’t guarantee these to be the best cookies ever.  This is non-negotiable.  Not really, but I’d like to think you care enough for the very best.

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Now beat all of this together.

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Take your small bowl of flour mixture and add it to the butter, sugar, egg, milk mixture in 1/2 cup portions.  Or whatever works for you, just don’t dump it all in at once.  Mix well after each addition but don’t beat the heck out of it or the flour will defy you and I won’t guarantee these to be the worlds best cookies.

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Now you’re done with the mixer, feel free to lick the blades, husband always does.

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Gently stir in 2 1/2 cups uncooked oats, 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 cup coarsely chopped nuts.  (If nuts are your thing.  I don’t recommend it because I don’t think those are the worlds best cookies.  But it’s really up to you.)  (And let’s pretend the blurry picture is because husband is stirring so darn fast and not that I was shaking the camera or anything like that.)

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Using two spoons (or one tablespoon and your finger, or one cookie scoop) drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet.

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Place the cookie sheet in the preheated 375 degree oven.  If you’re like me and want perfect cookies that are neither too chewy or too crispy bake for 9 minutes.  But that’s in our oven.  Yours may be different and require some testing.  General guidelines though would be 9-10 minutes for chewy and 12-13 minutes for crispy.

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This is what the cookies look like straight out of the oven.

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Let them stand for one minute and then using a very thin spatula remove them to a rack to cool.  This is the most difficult part.  Not eating them immediately.

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If you’re only using one cookie sheet like we do, let it sit for 5 minutes to cool then repeat the drop, bake and wait process several more times.

This should yield about 4 dozen cookies.  It depends on your spoons.

Store the cookies in an airtight container and see if you can keep them around long enough to even hint at getting stale.  Ours last about 3 days.  I do usually freeze (or give away) half the batch immediately otherwise I would have to worry about our chocolate intake.

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Click the link for a sweet (and photo free) recipe card to print.  PRINTABLE COOKIE RECIPE