Saturday, July 30, 2016

Best kind of day

Today for me was one of the best kind of days.  It was one of those days where you really don't have to be anywhere in particular and everyone is home to give a helping hand.  I had already grocery shopped earlier in the week, so I did not have much to do today.  That left me time to get my hair cut, delegate house cleaning chores, and get my laundry caught up.  I also did some baking in anticipation of the upcoming week.  I got much done, but it was at a relaxed pace and was ever so enjoyable.

I was going to share with you what I did for dinner on Thursday and Friday.  I like to do what I call bouncing meals.  That is, out of one meal I can create another.  On Thursday we had chicken fried rice and on Friday we had chicken, broccoli, and cheese casserole.  When I cooked the rice for the fried rice, I made extra for the casserole.

I have a rice cooker and this is with three cups of brown rice.  I buy it in bulk from Sams and store it in a food grade container.  I used 2/3 of this for our fried rice and the rest for the casserole.

I then cooked enough chicken for both recipes.

I just cooked it in a cast iron skillet with onions until it is done.  I used half for the fried rice and half for the casserole. 

For fried rice you can used whatever veggies you have on hand.  I used carrots, onion, frozen peas, peppers, zucchini, and broccoli.  When I prepared the broccoli I cooked enough for both recipes.

I then cooked my veggies in a big pot with olive oil and soy sauce.  When the veggies started to get crisp I added the rice and more soy sauce.  I also added two eggs and cooked them in the middle until done.  I didn't get any other pictures of the rice, but here is one in the container when we were putting away leftovers.

For the casserole I mixed the rice, chicken, and broccoli with a cup of mayo, a cup of sour cream, cheese, and a can of cream of chicken soup.  Spread it in a baking dish and top with Ritz crackers and a little butter.  I baked some homemade wheat bread to go with it.

Here is my bread and some apple muffins I made.  They are whole wheat and sugar free.  The kids gave them a thumbs up.

These are both low cost meals that are easy to prepare and healthy.  The casserole could be made healthier, but this is what my family likes.  


Several people have asked me for my recipe for canning salsa.  Every year I try to can enough salsa to last my family until the next year.  Sometimes I do well and others not so much.  I also like to have it on hand for a last minute snack to bring somewhere (such as church or a last minute invite).  I keep bags of tortilla chips on hand from Aldi, so it is a cheap and easy snack.

I normally start with either a bunch of homegrown tomatoes or a box from the farmers market.  We have been so busy and it has been so hot here that we did not plant any tomatoes this year, so I bought a box from a farm down the road from us.  I would guess that this is about 20 pounds, but I am not quite sure.

I then peal the tomatoes and cut them into quarters.  To peal them I boil them in water for three minutes and them put them in ice water.  The skins then just slip off.   After they are cut into quarters I pulse them through a food processor.  I leave them kind of chunky.

I then start to add my veggies.  This is what I like to add:

4-5 pounds of onion (I like sweet onions)
4 bell peppers
6 jalapeno peppers (I remove the membranes and the seeds but you can leave them if you like it hot)
8 cloves garlic
several banana peppers
1 bunch of cilantro

I run all of this through my food processor to get it chopped

This is my big kitchen bowl full of veggies.  I then add the spices and the other ingredients:

1 cup of vinegar
1/4 cup of salt
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp cumin
juice of about 6 limes

This is what I do because we don't like it very spicy.  If you want it to have more kick add red pepper or cayenne  pepper to it.  There are really not any rules except that you have to add the lime or some lemon juice for acidity.  If you can items without enough acidity it may spoil and that would be a shame after all of this work.

I also like to add about three large cans of tomato paste just to thicken it up and sometimes I will sometimes add some canning pectin.  It just depends on how thick the salsa is and how thick you like it.

I then cook it on the stove for about an hour on a low simmer.  I had to put this into two large pots.  The last half I vented the lid so that some of the liquid could come off.  How much liquid you have will depend on how juicy your tomatoes are, so this may not be necessary.  I then used my immersion blender and blended it up a little.  I still left it fairly chunky because that is how we like it.

I then fill the jars and process them in a water bath for 15 minutes.  I like to use pint size jars for my family but I ran low on jars and I did use a few quart jars.  If your family is smaller or doesn't eat as much in one sitting you may want to use 1/2 pint jars.

I think finished canning goods are a lovely sight!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Grocery Shopping

I see many people on the internet posting pictures of what they bought at the grocery store and what they cooked for dinner,  For some reason this fascinates me, so I thought I would show my own version.  I shopped at Aldi and Sams to round out the edges.  During the school year I only make it to Aldi once a month, but in the summer I have more time.  During this trip I spent $96 at Aldi and $44 at Sams.

I got the sausage and chicken at Sams along with the white cheese dip. This is what I cooked this week:

Monday:  Sausage casserole and salad
Tuesday:  Fried rice and eggrolls
Wednesday:  Sausage and biscuits with fruit
Thursday:  Chicken Fajitas and chips with cheese dip
Friday:  Spaghetti in the crock-pot.
Saturday:  Ribs, raman noodles, green beans
Sunday:  Hamburgers and chips.

Sausage casserole is an easy dish that includes browned sausage, cooked rice, green peppers and onions, cream of chicken soup and cheese.  I made homemade cream of chicken soup and we already had shredded cheese in the freezer and bulk rice.

For the fried rice I used leftover rice from Monday and added veggies and cooked chicken.  I added soy sauce and a few fried eggs.  There is not really any recipe.

On Wednesday I made homemade biscuits and used the rest of the sausage.  This was quick for running out to church.

The chicken fajitas are just grilled seasoned chicken and I sauteed some peppers and onions.  I made homemade guacamole with the avocados.

On Friday I put some spaghetti in the crock-pot before I left to take some of the kids to meet my parents at the beach.  This trip was three hours each way so I knew that I would not want to cook when I got home, so the crock-pot comes to the rescue.

The ribs were in the freezer from the last weekend. It was the small boy's request for his birthday but everyone got busy last weekend and we didn't cook them.

There are a couple of things that I think you should know.  My grocery budget along with household goods is $600.00 a month.  I try to come in under budget each month.  Every week I take $150.00 out of the bank and I use cash.  Right now I am shopping once a week, but during the school year I shop once a month and have a couple of side trips.  During my once a month shopping I will spend about $400 at once and then use $50 a week for more milk and fresh stuff.  The only thing bad about the once a month shopping is that it takes the whole day to do the shopping and the putting away.  As a result, I like to do that shopping trip during a school holiday or a long weekend.

I plan my menu and shopping list every week on Friday and then shop on Saturday or lately I have been waiting until Monday.  You got to love summer!