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Prudence Pennywise



Scandalously Good Food on a Budget



Updated: 2017-12-10T19:05:56.847-08:00

 



Take Five..or make it Ten. Who's counting?

2011-05-01T16:38:28.621-07:00

I think I must need a break. I didn't know I needed one. I got busy and I took one, quite on accident. But it felt so liberating. I haven't blogged, or facebooked, or tweeted for a bit more than a week. Instead, I've rollerskated, scootered, jogged, shot a few free throws, and played tennis with two little people that are getting rather big while I've had my nose in the computer. I've written a couple of letters (real paper and pen letters) and read more than a few books (current obsession-Emerson's essays). I've graded term papers and written letters or recommendation for several of my stellar students. (Here's hoping they get into grad school-they all deserve it.) I got caught up in the beauty and sweetness of the Royal Wedding. I've done the NYT crossword puzzle every day, and get this-my Quiet Man has done it with me with his own copy. That hasn't happened since we were dating, so you know, Kate and William don't have the monopoly on burnin' love, baby. (By the way, I can still smoke him on crossword puzzles,and he can still smoke me on pretty much everything else in the world, so not much has changed with 16 years of matrimony.) I called my sister Leslie three times this week. That's a record. I shed a suprising amount of tears when the Office said good-bye to Michael Scott. What a great boss he turned out to be, as Jim mentioned. And I mopped, dusted, and pretty much sanitized my house. The closets are next. I'm after you, hoardish, gypsy, cluttery clutter. You can run but you can't hide.This has turned out to be a pretty good break.
I didn't mean to take a break at first. But now it is quite intentional. I'm rather enjoying myself. Thanks for your email. I'll be back after my break.
PS There's plenty of good cookin' in the archives in the meantime. Dig right in and help yourselves.



Easter Dinner

2011-04-20T12:36:53.844-07:00

Easter. It's coming up this weekend, later than Alice's white rabbit. Thank you, spring holiday, for your fashionably tardy arrival. I don't like Easter to kick St. Patrick's Day out of March. So, welcome late Easter. I'm glad you're here. Now let's eat.
Here's what we're having for dinner, with links for the recipes:
Mom's Feathery Rolls
(image) Brown Sugar and Honey Glazed Ham




(image)
Super Easy Hot and Cheesy Potatoes or I might make something even creamier and cheesier.(image) Roasted Asparagus (image)
And these Easter Eggs. I'll be back soon with recipe.

(image) Up Next: Fudge Centered Easter Eggs



Harry Potter World and Butter Beer

2011-04-18T09:37:25.891-07:00

J.K. Rowling created a make-believe magical world of wizarding in literature. And now Universal Studios Theme Park has a for-real world of wizarding in Orlando, Florida that is every bit as magical as the pages it seeks to bring to life. The most exciting part of Harry Potter World isn't a ride, or a shop, or a show. It's just being there. For just a moment, you have the sensation that you have been admitted into the world of butter beer, flying dragons and magical candy. Walking throught the gates, you spot the snow covered (in the heat of spring, no less) houses of Hogsmeade with Hogwarts rising in the distance. Don't stop there. You'll want to head straight over to Honeydukes and Zonkos for zany toys and magical candy. There are two rollercoasters, one for big thrills and one for smaller thrills. We chose Flight of the Hippogriff, which was just thrilling enough for the eleven and under and thirty and over crowd. Anyone in between those ages would want to opt for the Dragon's Challenge. Maybe next time. The Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is the chief attraction of the park. The serpentine line stretching through the park will tip you off right away. The line will eventually wind through the Hogwart's castle, complete with Dumbledore's office, talking portraits on the walls, live action newspapers, indoor snow, and the sorting hat. We were paying so much attention to the details, that we forgot to pay attention to this.When they say that the ride may cause motion sickness, they aren't kidding. The teacups are child's play compared to this ride. This ride bends you sideways, frontways, backwards, and upside-down maybe. I couldn't keep track. If my stomach had been in my pocket, it would have landed on the floor. I confess to closing my eyes for half of the ride to minimize the impact. But the kids loved it. They really loved it. They were frightened by the dementors, whomping willows, and dragons but they weren't at all put off by the topsy-turvy shaking. What is it about kids and getting dizzy? They throw up on airplanes and cars but they laugh their way through the tilt-o-whirl. My favorite part of Harry Potter World was frozen, edible, and sweeter than a newborn babe. Frozen Butterbeer, my friends. It's a cousin to a rootbeer freeze with whipped cream, but the flavors are butter, toffee, butterscotch and vanilla. The taste is dazzling. The line is horrendous. Don't wait in it. Find one of these servers milling around and give them cash. They will be back momentarily with this. And you will be in butterbeer heaven. I've been playing around in my kitchen, trying to bring you a good copycat. Some recipes combine butterscotch ice cream syrup with cream soda and vanilla ice cream. It's a good shortcut and produces good results. But the from scratchy, caramely, butterscotchy syrup is better. Be sure to put your cream soda in the freezer until it's slushy. A true frozen butterbeer should have little bits of icy soda. Make the magic come to edible life at your house tonight. Cheers!Frozen Butterbeer(adapted from Fox News Recipe) Makes four generous servingsEstimated cost: $6.00 1 cup light or dark brown sugar 2 tablespoons water 6 tablespoon butter 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar 3/4 cup heavy cream, divided1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract Four 12-ounce bottles cream soda8 scoops vanilla ice cream Place your cream sodas in the freezer about 30 minutes before you plan to have butterbeer. (This recipe takes about one hour because of cooling time.) In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring often, until the mixture reads 240 F on a candy thermometer. Stir in the butter, salt, vinegar and 1/4 heavy cream. Set aside to cool to room temperature (about 30 minutes). Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the vanilla extract. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Use an electric mixer to beat until just thickened[...]



Cute as a Button

2011-04-15T08:56:08.220-07:00

Woohoo! Sailor just made it to the finals for a Little Miss Matched sock design contest. Now she needs your help. All you need to do is rate her Cute as a Button design with five stars. That's it. No registration or fuss. Just one little click. Voting is daily through May 2nd. Much obliged, friends. Much obliged. Here's the link and here's her little ol' design.(image) PS If there was a cute as a button award for readers, I would give it to you. Thanks for your help always.



The Magic of Healthy Living Weekend at Epcot with Pollo a las Rajas

2011-04-13T10:24:50.481-07:00

Today has been a much better day than yesterday. For instance, nobody hacked my email this morning to beg all of my kith and kin for a wire transfer. It's the little things like not getting hacked and humiliated that can make a day so much brighter. And Blogher seems to be cooperating a little better today. Not perfect, but better. It's the little things like not having to download the same pictures 753.9 times that make my heart sing zipadeedoodah. Now, onwards and upwards. Shall we?Just a couple of weeks ago, Sailor was the lucky recipient of a hefty prize as an essay winner for Disney's Magic of Healthy Living contest. Sailor was just one of fifty. Her cousin, Annaliese, was another one of the fifty, and that made the prize just that much more special. My sister MK and her family joined us at Disneyworld for a whole week, culminating in the prize package weekend for the two girls. On Friday morning, the two girls were lucky enough to be part of a public service announcement that should show up on Disney sometime in the near future. The point of the public service announcement was to show some inexpensive and creative ways that kids could get fit. Sailor was filmed jump-roping and Annaliese was the hula-hooper. They were slated to have an interview with some Disney teen celebs, but the crew ran out of time. The girls were good sports, especially since they still got to meet some Disney VIPs, like Caroline Sunshine of Shake It Up. She was adorable, super friendly and really kind to her adoring little fans. That evening we had our first official event in a giant warehouse-y structure within Epcot. When we walked through the door, we were greeted by Disney cheerleaders who were whooping and applauding. The whole place was cheerily decorated and full of wholesome Disney loveliness. We couldn't help but smile. Sailor was assigned a team leader with two other cute little girl essay winners. Our families sat together during mealtimes. Here is Sailor with a healthy dinner. I think she was too excited to eat anything. Several buffet tables were set up with a wide array of healthy choices, like fava bean succotash, root vegetable potato chips, roasted pork loin, heirloom tomato soup with tofu cream... Disney put on quite a show for the kids. They watched a couple of picture collages on screen with pictures of the actual kids doing healthy activities with a few headshots sprinkled in. They also had a video message from the First Lady commending them for their commitment to healthy living. We had some Disney characters that showed up to boogie down with the winners, a pots and pan chef's band (The Jammers?), and were introduced to a few more Disney teen celebs that would be hosting for the weekend. Dessert was an assortment of tiny puddings. We loved the Meyer Lemon and the Strawberry. I can't embrace tapioca in my pudding, even if it is chocolate. Afterwards, Disney got the kids all pumped up again showered the kids with ticker tape. We exited through the tunnel of amped-up cheerleaders and headed back to the hotel. The next morning, Sailor went off on a bus with the winners. We attended a separate breakfast for the families. We met up with Sailor and her gang at an empty field inside of Epcot. I would never have know these places existed. The winners particpated in outdoor games throughout the entire morning. Simple games from all over the world. The equipment used was very simple: a ball, a balloon, a rope, a Chinese jumprope. Again, the idea of the weekend was to show that getting fit is fun and doesn't require a whole lot of money, equipment, or time. There were lots of famous athletes and Disney celebs on hand to hang out with the winners. Maybe you will recognize them. I'm sorry to say that I did not. I don't know who famous people are. Who is Kim Kardashian? Why is Snooki famous? These things I do not ever hope to know. We had a fun make-your-own lunch spread out on a lazy susan. There were sau[...]



$%^&*(^ and lots more where that came from

2011-04-12T08:31:03.544-07:00

Post Edit: Oh, this day is just getting better by the minute. Just found out our email was hacked this morning. No we are not begging for money to be sent via Western Union, just in case you were wondering. Problems are piling up. Things fall apart. The center cannot hold. Calgon, take me away. I've been downloading pictures for three days for my Magic of Healthy Living Post. I've had to start over from scratch two times due to problems with Blogher. It wouldn't save or publish. Then it wouldn't download pictures except one at a time. Finally, finally, finally this morning I woke up early and began again from scratch and everything was ready to go. For the last step, I cut and pasted in my recipe and then all of my pictures were gone again. It's enough to make a church going woman curse. Cover your eyes if it will offend you. Here goes: &^%$#@&*( And I'm not done yet: ^%$#*&$(&*# And for good measure: %$@#*&%#^$# There. I'm feeling much better now. I will be back soon with a Magic of Healthy Living Post. Either that or lots more cursing. So let it be written, so let it be done.



Vegetarian Black Bean Soup at Disney's Carribean Resort

2011-04-06T07:34:30.421-07:00

The largest moderate resort at Disneyworld is the Carribean Beach Resort. Organized by clusters of buildings named after Carribean islands, each "island" has its own white sand beach, bus stop and pool. The "islands" are centered around a lake and a hub known as Port Royale. Port Royale has several large pools, Disney shops and a food court with one sit-down restaurant, "Shutters." When we read about the hotel on line we thought we were all fired anxious to take advantage of all of these amenities. We imagined ourselves renting bicycles and sailboats, swimming in the pools, lounging on the beach and testing all of the Carribean dishes at "Shutters." Instead, we saw exactly two things at our hotel: Our beds... and the bus stop. There was just too much fun waiting for us at the parks. We hurried out the door every morning early and came home later than we should have at night. We might as well have stayed in a sleeping bags in the bushes outside the park entrances. But not really. Even though we didn't take advantage of all the hotel fun, I'd stay there again in a heartbeat. I've never stayed at a Disney Resort before. Here's why I will again. They have continual buses that run to the park every 15 minutes. (When we've stayed at non Disney resorts we had to schedule a bus that would run every hour, and if it was full you were out of luck.) We had extra park hours daily. When it's really crowded, like it was during Spring Break, this is a huge perk. If you time it right, you can hit just about everything that interests you and pick up fast passes while the park is virtually empty. (When we've stayed at non Disney resorts, I was always peering in the parks with jealousy as I waited in lines for the parks to open. Who were those people in there and why did they get to go in early? Now I know.) And here's the best part, in my opinion: your Disney experience begins the minute you land at the airport. Your transportation is clean, organized and easy. You can send your bags directly from the airport to arrive at your hotel door. Then, when you're ready to depart, you can send your bags and sign in for your flight right from the hotel. I'm sold. Even if my flip flops never touch a white sand beach and my big toe never dips into the voluminous pools, it was still absolutely worth it. And as far as the restaurant goes, I've got the cookbook so I can still have a chance to try out Port Royale's "Shutters" restaurant at home. First off, I made the Vegetarian Black Bean Soup with Johnny Cakes. The soup was fast and easy and it was good the first day but even better the next. It's flavored with paprika instead of chili powder like most black bean soups, which makes a pleasant change. The Johnny cakes could have been better, in my opinion. They were flat with not much flavor, but I liked the idea of them. I'm going to try and see if I can pep them up a little the next time I make it. I'll include their recipe, just in case anybody feels like tinkering. I'll be back in a couple of days with our culminating activity, the whole reason for our visit to the parks, The Magic of Healthy Living weekend event at Epcot. Vegetarian Black Bean Soup with Johnny CakesEstimated Cost: $5.00 for 6 servingsNotes: This soup is very inexpensive, but you can save a little more money by using dried black beans. The soup is vegan and you can easily make the johnny cakes vegan by using soymilk. 1/3 cup olive oil (I used just a couple tablespoons)2 cups diced onions1 cup diced green pepper1 cup diced carrots1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic1 cup diced celery1 tablespoon cumin powderdash of dried oregano2 teaspoons paprika3 dashes hot sauce1 bay leaf2 sprigs cilantro1 tablespoons saltdash of pepper1/4 cup tomato paste2 teaspoons cider vinegar2 cans ( 15 ounces) black beans with liquid2 cups waterHeat oil in large saucepan. Add oinon, peppers, carrots, garlic, and celery and saute until veg[...]



Brown Derby Salad and Hollywood Studios

2011-04-04T07:55:36.823-07:00

The whole time we were at Disneyworld, I kept calling Hollywood Studios "MGM." I wasn't sure why, except that maybe I associated Hollywood with the big movie studios? The charges would roll their eyes and correct me everytime. "Moooooooom!" Kids always drag out the vowels when they are exasperated, don't they? I stubbornly insisted on calling it MGM. (Read: Once I get the wrong idea in my mind, it's stuck there for eternity. So let it be written, so let it be done.) The Quiet Man suprised me with a copy of the Disneyworld cookbook last week. It's full of recipes from all around the park-including MGM! Read that again: M.G.M, baby! Not Hollywood Studios, my adolescent aborrigines, but MGM! At least there is a method to my madness. Apparently it is out of vogue to call it MGM now, but once upon a time, whenever this cookbook was published, the place was called MGM. Disney might be able to change names, but I'm keeping to the original. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. So...while we were at MGM (not Hollywood)...we rode the Tower of Terror (scream for me) and the Great Movie Ride and Toy Story Mania. West built his own lightsaber to become an official Jedi Knight of the highest order.And we ate the famous Cobb Salad at the Brown Derby. (William Holden wasn't there, in case any I love Lucy fans were wondering.) There's a reason this salad is so famous. It's superb. This is the original Cobb salad that has spawned so many variations and imitations. The original is the best. The dressing is fantastic and the recipe below makes a hefty batch. It's a little taste of MGM (that's right, MGM-ya wanna make something of it?) all the way from Hollywood Studios. Hollywood Brown Derby Cobb SaladEstimated Cost: about $10 for for 6 servingsNotes: To save money, buy a bagged mix of spring lettuces and a head of romaine or iceberg for crunch. Chicken can easily be substituted for the turkey. 1/2 head iceberg lettuce1/2 bunch watercress 1 small bunch chicory 1/2 head romaine lettuce2 medium tomatoes, chopped1 1/2 cups cooked turkey breast, diced1 avocado3 eggs, hard-cooked1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled6 strips crisp bacon, crumbled2 tbsp. chopped chives (I used green onions)Chop all greens very fine (reserve some watercress for presentation) and arrange in salad bowl. Cut tomatoes in half, remove seeds and dice une. Also dice the turkey, avocado and eggs. Arrange the above ingredients, as well as the blue cheese and bacon crumbles, in straight lines across the greens. Arrange the chives diagonally across the above lines. Present the salad at the table, then toss with the dressing (below) and place on chilled plates with a watercress garnish. Serves six.BROWN DERBY OLD-FASHIONED FRENCH DRESSING1/2 cup water1/2 tsp. sugar1 1/4 tbsp. salt1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce1 clove garlic, chopped1/2 cup red-wine vinegarJuice of 1/2 lemon1/2 tbsp. ground black pepper1/2 tsp. English mustard (I used dijon)1/2 cup olive oil1 1/2 cups salad oil Blend together all ingredients, except oils, then add olive and salad oils and mix well. Blend well again before mixing with salad. This makes a big batch; store in the fridge and use within 3 weeks.Next Up:Disney's Carribean Resort with Black Bean Soup and Johnnycakes[...]



Flame Tree Barbecue Sauce and Wild Animal Kingdom

2011-03-30T09:48:31.442-07:00

I love to see animals Walt Disney style. You get a sense of action, adventure with a rainbow sprinkle of danger, with the added benefit of knowing that you are completely safe. I felt safer seeing lions and cheetas at Disneyworld than I did in the henhouse on my trip to the egg farm. I felt safer seeing hippos and rhinos at Disneyworld than I did on their Mount Everest roller coaster. (Backwards in the dark...bah!) Why do I keep going on roller coasters? I hate them. But I love to hate them. I asked my niece Bella if she liked riding on Mount Everest. She said, with all of her five year old wisdom, "I hate it and I love it." I couldn't have said it better myself. But let's get back to the animals, OK? This is a cool high school giraffe hanging out with a junior high buddy.Here's the jungle equivalent of a show off. We went on the safari expedition twice and he tried to race us both times. Excuse me, ma'am. I believe you dropped something.I was bemoaning the fact that we didn't get to see a rhino close up, when this guy showed up and wouldn't move and we had to watch him for twenty minutes. This baby gorilla is adorable. I wanted to put him in my pocket and take him home and feed him jars of banana baby food. I'm not sure how his mother would feel about it. Look at George and Martha in the bathtub.When you are done poking fun at animals, you head over here and eat a few. Doesn't that sound cruel? There's something disturbing about eating meat at a zoo, but don't let that stop you. Truth be told, I got a fruit plate and a half order of onion rings. I'm not man enough to eat meat in the zoo. The Quiet man wasn't as easily daunted and ordered the ribs and I stole a small bite. Deelish. I didn't take a picture, not because I forgot but because we were busy fending off a gang of scavenging birds while we gobbled down our lunch. I tell you, it's a jungle out there. This picture is stolen shamelessly from a travel review site. I doubt they'll mind. Just wanted you to know that I wasn't posting my cleavage with the ribs.I had to get the recipe for the barbecue sauce so that I could make it for the Quiet Man for Father's Day. Apparently they field daily requests for their sauce, so here it is. Give it a try on chicken, pork, or even dunk your onion rings in it. See you next time with some treats from Hollywood Studios.Flame Tree Barbecue SauceEstimated Cost: $2.00 for 1 and 1/2 cups Notes: Might as well double it and freeze some for next time.1 cup ketchup1/4 cup rice wine vinegar1/4 cup water1/4 cup packed light brown sugar2 tablespoons molasses1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce1 tablespoon chili powder1 tablespoon paprika1 tablespoon onion powder1 teaspoon ground turmeric1 teaspoon cumin1/2 teaspoon garlic powder1/2 teaspoon clovesIn a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 35 minutes. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks. Up Next: Hollywood Studios[...]



Dole Pineapple Whips from the Magic Kingdom

2011-03-28T10:30:04.254-07:00

Disneyworld was so right this time, for so many reasons. First of all, the kids are finally old enough to go on the teacups alone. That saved the Quiet Man and I at least 72.3 arguments. No one had to make the supreme dizzy sacrifice of taking two wild and crazy kids on such spinning madness. They're also old enough to go on some roller coasters. I begged everyone to go on Space Mountain with me. Oh please oh please oh please it will be so much fun and you'll never regret it. Oh please oh please. They all loved it. Except me. (I did the same thing on Tower of Terror, Mount Everest, and Thunder Mountain. I just can't seem to accept the fact that I am not a teenaged roller coaster lovin' screamer anymore. Sigh.) It seems that Dumbo is just the right amount of thrill for me. And even that makes me a little dizzy, but don't tell. I don't want to ruin my reputation completely. I love it all. I'm happy just walking around and taking pictures and eating. Look at this shot the Quiet Man got. Just in case you think I post only good pictures of myself on my blog. Oh, I've got lots of doozies to share with you this week. But speaking of eating, while in line for the Magic Carpet ride, we heard someone singing the praises of Dole Pineapple Whips. Apparently, Dole Pineapple Whips are available in only four locations worldwide: Disneyland, Disneyworld, Disney's Polynesian Resort, and the Dole Plantation in Hawaii. After eavesdropping, we jumped out of line and made a beeline over to Pineapple Whip paradise. Have you had one yet? It's a slushy, refreshing sweet frozen pineapple treat. Once you have it, you know there are only four locations in the world where you can be completely happy. (See list above.) The minute I got home, I jumped online to find a copycat recipe. Yes-it's out there! So now you can add home to that list of locations where you can be completely happy. Home Sweet Pineapple Whips. Join me this week while I share my favorite recipes from all over Disneyworld. (I'm also trying to crack the Butterbeer recipe from Harry Potter world-more on that later.) Dole Pineapple WhipsEstimated Cost: $6.00 for four servings.Notes: Plan on making this on a day when you will be around for a few hours. There's only a few minutes of active prep time, but you'll need to time it just right. PS Sorry about the funny spacing. I've been working on it all morning. Grrrrr.2 20 ounce cans Dole crushed pineapple with juice 2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 tablespoons lime juice 1/3 cup sugar 1 and 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped Drain pineapple; reserve 2 tablespoons juice. Set aside. Place pineapple, lemon juice, lime juice, sugar and reserved pineapple juice in blender or food processor container; cover and blend until smooth. Pour into two 1-quart freezer zipped bags and store bags flat in freezer. Freeze 1-1/2 hours or until slushy. Stir pineapple slush gently into whipped cream until slightly blended, in large bowl. Return to freezer until completely frozen, about 1 hour and serve. Next Up:The Wild Animal Kingdom [...]



Forcing Around

2011-03-22T18:36:24.569-07:00

These pictures are so terrible; I shouldn't even show you. Really I shouldn't. You want to see them anyway? I thought you'd never ask. West had to bring a creative cake to his first pack meeting for cub scouts. Which means, or course, that I had to help him make this creative cake. Most weeks I'm barely surviving my own to-do list, so I wanted an easy way out. I begged him to choose an easy cake-a castle, a dragon, a clown, a puppy, a balloon. He thought my suggestions were about as cool as the Backstreet Boys in head to toe acid wash. He wanted something hip, sleek, and sure to impress. It had to be Star Wars light sabers. (He's been stuck on the idea since he saw his pictures of his friend Kimball's amazing cake in California.) I was still wondering how I was going to finish grading papers and scrub floors when a good idea took hold. Why not mold a light saber out of rice krispy treats? West could make a batch of rice krispy treats in the microwave with his eyes closed. (He just wrote a how-to essay on how to do just that. With his eyes open.) With very little work, we had two light sabers that could snap, crackle and pop the life out of any Sith Lord. A little canned frosting (yeah, you heard me, canned frosting-you wanna make somethin' of it?) food coloring, and candy melts made the light sabers convincing enough to impress the Jedi council. We traced the Star Wars logo onto waxed paper and filled it in with melted black candy melts, then propped it up on the front of the light sabers.The finishing touch came from a few of his Star Wars figurines. Luckily, Sailor remembered to snap a few pictures of the wolfclub-pleasing treat on her budget camera. Thank goodness. If she didn't all this horsing around, ahem, I mean forcing around wouldn't have made it on record. And then where would I turn the next time I need an idea? I bet I'll be just as frazzled and busy the next time around. You better believe I'm making this for his next birthday. Oh and see that mess in the background? Just pretend like you didn't, OK? Thanks and May the Force Be With You. Up Next: The Magic of Healthy Living[...]



Healthy Living Pays Off Bigtime

2011-03-21T06:40:11.719-07:00

See this little girl right here? The one mixing up a batch of something yummy?(image)
This little girl o' mine won an essay contest for Disney's Magical of Healthy Living. 50 lucky families converted for a very magical weekend as part of Disney's campaign to encourage a healthy lifestyle. You may have seen some of the promos on the Disney Channel with Michelle Obama. (image) I thought I'd post about it while we were there, but instead of doing anything on the computer, we did Disney every available minute. The only time we went back to our hotel rooms was when we were tired to keep our eyes open any longer. I'm going to get my pictures together and I'll be back soon with a link to a post about our lucky Disney week!

(image)
PS You can read a little about it here.



Cap'n Crunch Chicken

2011-03-12T21:08:34.689-08:00

I'm a sucker for anything retro. I just bought a sack of Doritos just because they had a groovy 70's sombrero on the package. (Taco flavor and pretty darn delicioso, thank you very much.) Anyway, the sugar cereal companies must know this about me, because they keep reeling me in with quaint boxes of sweet cereal. I saw a circa 1975 box of old fashioned Lucky Charms and I felt like I'd found a pot of gold. Retro Trix turned me into a silly rabbit. Cap'n Crunch? I fought nine siblings every Sunday morning for a second bowl of Cap'n Crunch for a decade of my childhood. My mother bought ONE box of sugar cereal for Sunday breakfast for ten kids. ONE box. Only the early birds got the goods and some early birds were more like hogs than birds. I ought to know because I was one of them. Oh, don't worry. The late birds didn't starve; they got...Grape Nuts. So you can imagine how excited I was to bring home a whole box of Cap'n Crunch for my family of four. I would be the hero! Except that nobody understood how exciting it was to have a box of retro Cap'n Crunch in the house. My two sensible children exchanged bewildered expressions over their bowls of Grape Nuts. The Quiet Man would never deign to eat anything as nutritionally empty as sugar cereal for breakfast. So that left just me and my antiquated treasure. I had to get everybody as enthusiastic as I was about this cereal that caused greed, lust and sin all before Sunday school. I remembered hearing about Cap'n Crunch chicken from Planet Hollywood in the nineties, so I scoured the Internet, fiddled around a little bit and came up with this recipe. The chicken is delicious-slightly sweet and oh so crispy. Everybody perked up. Maybe I'll try and get everybody out of bed early on Sunday mornings with this Cap'n Crunch. Cap'n Crunch Chicken Estimated Cost: $6.00 for 4 servingsNotes: Serve your chicken with barbecue sauce, honey mustard, and ketchup-it's all good!1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons milk1 cup Cap'n Crunch cereal smashed to crumbs1 cup Panko bread crumbs, or other plain bread crumbs1/2 teaspoon garlic powder1 teaspoon paprika1/2 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon pepper1/4 cup vegetable oilCut chicken into strips. In a shallow bowl, combine cereal, crumbs, garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper. Dip chicken in egg, then in crumbs. Let dry for five minutes on rack. Heat oil in 12 inch skillet over medium high heat. Cook chicken for about 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Enjoy.PS To make it a meal, try it with the salad from my last post. Just scroll right down.Up Next: Overnight Yeast Risen Waffles[...]



Winter to Spring Spinach Salad

2011-03-09T08:00:55.074-08:00

(image) I wish I could put off spring just a little longer. If winter were one of my students, I'd make him repeat a grade, just to enjoy him a little longer. Maybe I should move to Alaska. It's a secret escapist fantasy of mine, anyway. You might think that I don't love spring, but you'd be wrong. I love the chirping birds, the bright blue skies, the colorful flowers, the urge to be outdoors tossing a frisbee. But I love winter, too. I love the coziness, the sparkly frost and snow, the shadowy silhouettes during the dinner hour, the pots simmering and the oven baking, and the solitude of shrinking in and away. If I were Mother Nature, you would be assured 6 months of ice and snow. I'd be about as popular as Obama.
But I'm not in charge. So here comes spring in just a couple of weeks, officially. In the meantime, I find myself craving leafy greens and tender berries, in spite of myself. I'm still hanging on to my zesty citrus and hearty apples, so I created this salad to represent the best of both winter and spring. I admit to eating it daily for lunch. The dressing is sweet with caramel undertones from the brown sugar, yet zesty from the apple cider vinegar and a hint of mustard. The dressing is also deceptively low in fat, but you'll never notice that. But it's spring and that means its almost almost almost swimsuit season. Groan. Just another reason to love winter.
(image) Winter to Spring Salad
Estimated Cost: $5.00
Money Saving Tips: It's almost time to plant spinach! Plant a row of spinach a week to keep you saving all throughout the spring. Choose any apples or berries that you find on sale and vary the nuts according to what you have on hand. You'll have plenty of extra dressing for more salad later in the week.
1 (6 ounce) bag baby spinach
1 large orange, peeled and sectioned
1 sweet apple, sliced thin
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/4 cup paper thin slices of red onion
1/3 cup toasted pecans, broken into bits
For Dressing:
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/4 cup vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
For Salad, layer spinach, orange, apple, strawberries, onions, and pecans on a platter. Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar with a screwtop lid. Shake until well combined. Just before serving, drizzle dressing all over salad.
(image) Next Up:
Captain Crunch Chicken



Pasta Amatriciana

2011-03-07T09:39:22.524-08:00

We hit an eight year old benchmark this weekend. This little boy of mine was baptized. See that giant cookie shield with the CTR? CTR stands for "Choose the Right." Unless you ask my pesty brother, Roy. He'll tell you that it means "Cook the Rice." "Choose the Right" or "Cook the Rice." You can't lose. We took exactly 793.26 pictures. West with a cookie. West on the piano. West eating breakfast. West brushing his teeth. West taking out the trash. We couldn't help ourselves. I promise not to show you all of them. But, here are a few of my favorites. This is West with soon-to-be-eight years old cousin, Reeve. They look solemn, sane, and very holy in this picture. This is how they looked a few hours later. Wild, wacky, and totally normal. For eight year old, boys that is. Here's West with his Dad and my Dad. All in navy blue sportscoats. My handsome boys.Here is the Bishop with West and his neighborhood buddy, Aidan, who also got baptized that day. The Bishop is the one that made that giant cookie shield above. Needless to say, he's enormously popular with the recently-baptized crowd.Here is one last shot of West, with those who know him best. He drives us crazy. He makes us laugh. He suprises us with his little acts of kindness. He stays up too late. He's impossible to wake up. He has a noisy voice. He goes crazy for his baby cousins. He wants to be a Jedi and a doctor when he grows up. We love him. Now this past busy week was a true test of my fast dinner repertoire. I wanted to pick up quesadillas at Del Taco, I really did. But I also knew that next week, while we're on vacation, we'll be eating out nightly. I didn't think I could handle that for two weeks in a row, so I kicked it into gear and made dinner, chop-chop. I'm compiling a list of my favorite 30 minute dinners that don't require a trip to the grocery store. This baby is one of them. "Amatriciana" is a rich, smoky bacon and tomato sauce that is simply luscious over pasta. It's even better the next day, so plan on having leftovers for lunch. You've got time to make it for dinner tonight. Put your water on to boil before you start the sauce and you'll be eating dinner faster than you can say "Choose the Right." Or "Cook the Rice." Either way, you can' t lose. Pasta AmatricianaEstimated Cost: $7.00 for 6 large servingsMoney Saving Tips: Check the price of bacon at the butcher counter; it might even be cheaper than bacon on sale. If you can't find a good price on bacon, the sauce is just as delicious-albeit not smoky-without it. When you do find a good price on bacon, buy a few pounds and pop them into the freezer.1 lb. pasta (I used farfalle)6-8 slices of bacon, diced1 onion, diced3 cloves garlic, minced3 (14 ounce) cans of petite diced tomatoes, with juices1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes1 teaspoon balsamic vinegarpinch of brown sugarOptional for serving: grated parmesan cheese and chopped parsley or basilBring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta. Cook according to package directions and keep warm. In a large skillet, cook diced bacon until cooked and crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel with a slotted spoon. To same skillet with bacon fat, add onion and cook until softened. Stir in garlic and cook for thirty seconds. Add diced tomatoes with juices, pepper flakes, vinegar, and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss pasta with sauce and sprinkle the bacon over the top. Serve with parmesan cheese and chopped parsley, if desired.Next Up:Where Winter and Spring Merge Spinach Salad[...]



Everybody's got a Laughin' Place

2011-03-04T08:06:25.172-08:00

My laughing place is Youtube.
Watch Tom Hanks help his daughter accomplish "her" dreams in the Sexy Baby Nevada Pageant. (object) (embed)
Humor makes the world a saner place.
Happy weekend. Hope it's full of lots of laughs.



Mom's Overnight Wheat Rolls

2011-03-02T06:42:24.156-08:00

(image) One of the best things about having your mom for a neighbor is fresh, warm, and straight from the oven. My mother is a fellow recipe-tinkerer and her process is as enlightening as it is delicious. If Mom makes something pretty good, she'll call and tell me to come have a taste. If she makes something really good, she'll tell me to come have a taste and bring my camera. When she hits the magic note just right, she'll walk down to my house. These rolls, at some point during the process, have merited all of the above, including the triumphal victory march to my home. The recipe for Mom's Overnight Wheat Rolls is now pitch perfect. With a pat of sweet butter, warm and melting, you'll be singing their praises. But don't eat them all; a midnight snack with a slice of ham and a dab of honey butter will put you to bed better than a baby's lullaby. If these rolls were music, then they just won a grammy. For my mammy.
(image) Mom's Overnight Wheat Rolls
Estimated Cost: $1.00
Money Saving Tips: Make up a double or a triple batch and freeze them after baking. It saves oven energy and money.
1 and 1/2 cups room temperature water
1 and 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1 and 1/2 cups wheat flour
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for shaping
Mix all ingredients with a wooden spoon to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. An hour before ready to bake, take dough out of the refrigerator. Let rest for one hour. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a floured surface, pat dough into rectangle. Roll into cylinder. Cut into 9 rolls. Place in greased nine inch baking dish. Let rise, covered for twenty minutes. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until tops and bottoms are golden brown. Let rest for one minute and remove from pan.(image)
Next Up:
Pasta Amatriciana



Weeknight Chicken Paprikash

2011-02-28T08:45:48.072-08:00

How was your weekend? Mine was too short, like all the rest of them. This week is going to be one of those crazy busy ones, a perfect storm of recitals, lessons, meetings, classes, and responsibilities, culminating in an important Saturday afternoon with West getting baptized. I looked at West this weekend and I was feeling a little melancholy. Eight is a significant benchmark for LDS families. I've been squeezing my boy a little tighter, staring maybe a little too intently, feeling a little too emotional. I put my arm around his shoulder, and just like I have a hundred times in the last few weeks, said "I'm sad you are growing up so fast, West." This time I think he'd had it. He said, "Mom, look. I'm not that old and you're not that old. I'm not dead and you're not dead. So let's just be happy, OK?"I meant to be offended, but I burst out laughing first. Oh, this kid. What will I ever do without him? Thank goodness I won't have to find out anytime soon, since we're both young and alive. Here's one of my boy's favorite dinners and mine, too. In about 25 minutes, you'll have a scrumptious sauce of paprika and sourcream over chicken and buttered noodles. It's perfect for busy weeks, like this one. It's also rich and satisfying on a cold winter night and will cure any melancholy you might have about your jam-packed schedule or your children growing up too fast. Weeknight Chicken Paprikash Estimated Cost: $8.00 for four-six servingsMoney Saving Tips: Don't run out to buy Hungarian paprika, if you don't have it on hand. Use my substitution below. Buy chicken breasts when it's on sale and cut it up and freeze it in 1 lb. portions. Put your water on to boil when you start cooking, and everything will be hot and ready at the same time. 1 tablespoon butter2 large onions, thinly sliced1 bell pepper, chopped (optional)1 lb chicken, cut into 1 inch pieces1 tablespoon garlic, minced1/4 cup Hungarian sweet paprika (OR sub 1/4 cup regular paprika, plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar and a pinch of red pepper flakes)2 cups chicken broth (use bouillion cubes to save more)1/2 cup sour cream, mixed with 1 tablespoon floura few drops of lemon juicehot cooked noodles, tossed with 2 tablespoons butterMelt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 7 minutes, stirring often. Add bell pepper and chicken and cook until chicken is browned on outside, about 6 minutes. Stir in garlic and paprika and cook for one minute. Add chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and flour mixture. Return to heat and bring to a low boil to thicken sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and a few drops of lemon juice. Serve over noodles.Up Next: Microwave Carmels[...]



Orange Pecan Butter Cookies

2011-02-24T08:13:49.073-08:00

This is a circle. This is a more perfect circle. Num, num, num.Here's another circle to consider: I've been nominated as a Circle of Mom Favorite for Money Saving Moms. I'm coming into the race a day late and a dollar short, so help me out by heading over and casting your vote. Much obliged, partner.I don't know why it happens this way, but for some reason, whatever West is studying in school turns into something to eat. This week, he's been learning about the rotations and revolutions and seasons of the earth. We got an orange and marked it up with equators and poles. Then we poked a skewer through the center for an axis and headed to a dark room where I manned the flashlight in my role as the light-giving sun. Then in an elaborate and dizzy dance, West rotated and revolved with his orange-Earth. It was starting to get sticky. The orange, not the dance. What to do with a bleeding orange? I remembered a recipe I'd read recently in The Taste of Home Baking Book for orange pecan cookies. (I'm still in the money with pecans, thanks to Ramona. ) West and I mixed these up yesterday afternoon. Bonus-making a recipe helps him with two belt loops for Scouts, too. These little cookies are addictive. They're buttery and crisp, with more than a hint of orange and a crunch of pecan. They make a perfect after school or mid morning snack. So even if you don't have an assignment to finish or planet to imitate or a belt loop to learn, you're going to love them.Orange Pecan Butter Cookies from Taste of HomeEstimated Cost: $1.50 for 2 dozenMoney Saving Tips: Stock up on butter and freeze it when you find it on sale. These cookies make good use of an orange by using up both the zest and juice. Don't fret if you don't have pecans-almonds, walnuts, or cashews would make good stand-ins. These will last all week in the fridge, so slice and bake only what you need for that day.1/2 cup butter softened1/4 cup sugar1/4 cup brown sugar1 tablespoon orange zest1 tablespoon orange juice1 egg yolk1/4 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon baking soda1 and 1/4 cup flour1/4 cup chopped toasted pecanIn a medium bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add zest, orange juice and egg yolk, mixing well. Sprinkle salt and soda over dough and mix to combine. Gently mix in flour in three additions. Gently stir in pecans. Shape dough into 12 inch cylinder. Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 1 week. Slice off generous 1/4 inch thick slices. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 400 degrees for about seven minutes. Up Next: Chicken Paprikash with Buttered NoodlesPS Don't forget to vote for your favorite money-saving Mom. Especially if it's me. :)[...]



Easy Cherry Crunch for George

2011-02-23T07:04:08.406-08:00

If it had been your son who chopped down the cherry tree, would you have punished him or would you have let him off the hook because he told the truth about it? What if he was standing there, axe in hand, and then nobly said, "I cannot tell a lie; I chopped down the cherry tree." Good for you, Georgie. Who cares about that cherry tree when you are such a virtuous child? I have a child who is as honest as George. He never, ever tells even a fib. "Yep-I smacked my sister." "Yes, that was me that ate all the Oreos." "Me again-I didn't finish my spelling homework." "I was jealous that Sailor got more ice cream so I switched our bowls." I don't even have to ask. Sometimes I don't even know there is anything to ask, but he volunteers his misdeeds anyway. So the boy hasn't chopped down any fruit trees as of yet, but telling the truth hasn't exactly earned him a get-out-of-jail-free-card either. Or maybe it has. With him, I find myself saying, "Oh....well, just don't do that again." So let's hope he doesn't chop down the ornamental pear trees we just put in the backyard. But if he does, I won't have to stand around trying to figure out who did it. The boy cannot tell a lie. Maybe he's headed for the Oval Office.Here's our favorite cherry dessert for President's Day. It's easy enough that honest young chaps can make it all by themselves. It's suprisingly good for having a mere three ingredients. If you don't get to it for George's sake, it would be nice with ham on Easter or with barbecue chicken for Fourth of July. Who am I kidding-it's good all the time. Honest. Cherry CrunchEstimated Cost: $8.00Notes: Any fruit pie filling will work here so choose one that you can get for a reasonable price. 2 (21) ounce cans cherry pie filling1 box yellow cake mix1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces3/4 cup chopped nuts, optionalPreheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour pie filling into greased 9 by 13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle cake mix over pie filling. Dot with butter and sprinkle with nuts, if using. Bake for 40 minutes, or until browned and bubbly. Serve with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.Next Up:Chicken Paprikash with Buttered Noodles[...]



Cheddar Fondue-no special equipment needed

2011-02-16T07:38:51.769-08:00

I've been craving fondue ever since my parents took my family to a steak and fondue restaurant for my birthday way back in November. But I don't own a fondue pot, I don't think. I used to own one. Where did it go? It is hiding somewhere with all of the other things I can't seem to find this week, like the Star Wars DVDs, the cable bill and my brown headband. Except the fondue pot has been hiding for over a decade through several moves, so I really think it may have actually run away from home. I was thinking of buying another one. Everytime I opened my cupboard to see where I would store a new fondue pot, I would change my mind. Mostly because I had to slam the cupboard shut FAST so my springform pans, rice cooker, pasta maker and drying rack, meatballer, and holiday bundt pans wouldn't come tumbling out. Maybe I could store the fondue pot in West's bedroom closet where I cram my cake stands and punch bowl. I put off making fondue while I wrestled with this dilemma. But then I saw a clever stand-in for a fondue pot in this month's Better Homes and Gardens. The idea is to place a heatproof bowl over two bricks with a tealight underneath. Simple! Brilliant! Best of all-Free! I made the fondue on my stovetop and then placed the pot directly onto the bricks. Next time I make it, I'll transfer it to a pretty bowl, but it was perfectly simple and functional in the pot. To serve, I just chopped up whatever storage vegetables and fruits and bread I had on hand. We sat around with our skewers, chatting and eating, and having a cheesy, good time. I can't wait to make it again and play around with the formula. I'm going for pepperjack cheese with tortilla chips this weekend. Here's a simple recipe below that's open to all kinds of variations. Enjoy!Gooey Cheddar Fondue Estimated Cost: $5.001 cup chicken or vegetable broth1 clove garlic, minced2 tablespoons minced onion3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, tossed with 1 tablespoon flourSet up two bricks on a napkin at your serving area. Place a small tealight candle in the middle. In a small saucepan, bring broth to a simmer over medium heat. Add garlic and onion. Simmer for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Stir in cheese. when cheese is melted and mixture is bubbly, transfer to the bricks and light the candle. Serve with apples, peppers, carrots, celery, and bread cubes.Up Next:My Funny Valentines[...]



XOXO Valentine

2011-02-13T18:54:44.146-08:00

Well, I did it again. I let another holiday sneak up behind me and startle me to death. AHHHHH!! Who let you in? Thankfully, I have an arsenal of Valentine favorites to choose from. I'm going for a six AM run to the grocery store and then I'll be all set. I'm thinking about these XOXO cupcakes to share with friends. Easy.For our dinner, we'll start off with a little crostini with homeade ricotta and roasted red pepper hearts. Then some red and white pasta. I always have everything I need on hand for this one. I can't think of anything more satisfying on a cold, February night.Maybe some heart shaped brownies for dessert. Am I going a little too crazy? Maybe we'll just go with the XO cupcakes. And I almost forgot. How's about some a short stack of buttermilk pancakes with strawberry jam and maple syrup. Good eats and Happy Love Day to all! Did anybody get a candy gram for Valentine's Day? I got one. It was from my clever girl. She attached a sticky note to a lollipop and wrote Happy Valentine's Day Prudy! Love, Ronnie, Louis, Dan and Daddy. This time I didn't throw the note in the trash.Next Up: Cheddar Cheese Fondue [...]



Chocolate Mint Brownie Cookies for your Valentine

2011-02-09T08:21:06.115-08:00

Valentine's Day has always been a bit toooo much for me. Maybe it started in first grade. A little boy named Ronnie dropped his cache of Valentine cards. I kindly told Mrs. Hiatt I would help him pick them up. As I was bending down, he planted a soggy, wet kiss on my virginal cheek. I did what every self-respecting tomboy would do: I slugged him with a lean upper cut to the ribs followed by a kick to the shins. Then in fourth grade, Louis asked me to be his Valentine on February 13th. I told him "Up your nose with a rubber hose." The next day I got a Valentine from Louis. "Dear Prudy, I hate you. Love, Louis. " By the time I got to Junior High, everyone who was anyone was sending a candygram. You could pay fifty cents to have a lollipop and a love-note delivered to your secret love during sixth period. I think I got three, a couple from my best friend Wendy Foss and one from a hefty boy named Dan that I'd been hiding from for the last six months. Dan wrote: "Dear Prudy, Everytime I call your house, some kid answers and says you're not home. Are you avoiding me? I love you. Dan" I tore the note up and threw it in the trashcan, then I ate the lollipop. On the other hand, my sister Michelle got so many candy grams that she couldn't even carry them. Wendy and I had to help her heft them home. " Dear Michelle, I think we might get married some day." "Dear Michelle, You're like totally the prettiest girl I ever saw. Let's make out during Home Ec." "Dear Michelle, you are soooo much more awesome than your sister. How can you stand her?" See what I mean? Valentine's Day! And now I'm happily married with a bonafide Valentine, but he's out of town on a business trip. Maybe I should send a candygram to his hotel. "Dear Quiet Man. It's lonely without you. I miss your....quiet. Your calm. Your stillness. Come home soon and we will sit in solitude. Together." Love, PrudyHere's a Valentine that will always work out for you-Chocolate. I baked up these lovely chocolate mint cookies last night while the charges were filling out their Valentines. I found the recipe on the Nestle Very Best Baking website. They've got all sorts of fantastic Valentine treat ideas, so swing by and check it out. I found what I was looking for. These cookies have got just the perfect amount of mint and vanilla to make them refreshingly delicious, plus they are easy and cheap to make. I wish I could send some to Ronnie, Louis, Dan and most especially my Quiet Man. Here's hoping they all have a chocolate-y Valentine's Day.Chocolate Mint Brownie Cookies from NestleEstimated Cost: $3.50 for about 2 and 1/2 dozenIngredients1 1/2 cups (9 oz.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels, divided1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour1/2 teaspoon baking soda1/4 teaspoon salt1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened1/2 cup granulated sugar1/4 cup packed brown sugar1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract2 large eggs3/4 cup chopped nuts MELT 3/4 cup morsels in small, heavy saucepan over lowest possible heat. When morsels begin to melt, remove from heat; stir. Return to heat for a few seconds at a time, stirring until smooth. Cool to room temperature.COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, peppermint extract and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in melted chocolate. Gradually beat[...]



Orange Scented Beef with Broccoli

2011-02-07T08:19:48.409-08:00

Happy February. It's only been here for a week, but already we've had Groundhog's Day, Superbowl Sunday, and Chinese New Year. At my house, the first week of February also means birthday time for West, complete with family and friend parties, cupcakes and a "mint-apolitan" ice cream pie. February is the fastest month, not just because it has 28 days, but also because we don't stop celebrating. (Stay tuned-here comes Mardi Gras, Valentine's Day, and President's Day.) For someone who loves to cook, you couldn't ask for a better month. January has only Martin Luther King day to keep it peppy, and most people are only eating diet cabbage soups and the like. Then comes Feb and everyone chucks the diet and celebrates with chocolate for romance and chili for football and cherries for Washington (and thin mints for the Girl Scouts-smart girls to come knockin' in February). We're working on Chinese New Year over her. Some sources say the holiday lasts for three weeks, so it's perfect for procrastinators, like me. I've got a fantastic orange scented beef with broccoli recipe served over white rice. The beef is tender and juicy and even broccoli nay-sayers will cozy up to the sweet orange and soy. No need to worry about take out prices; this one will feed four all for about $7.00. Best of all-it's table ready in less than thirty minutes. That will give you more time to start thinking about what you're going to make for all of the other holidays that are waiting just around the corner. It is February, you know. Orange Scented Beef with Broccoli Estimated Cost: $7.00Notes: Use any inexpensive cut of lean, tender beef. If you're unsure if the meat is tender enough for stir-fry, ask your butcher. Read through the recipe and have everything ready before you heat the skillet.5 tablespoons soy sauce5 tablespoons orange juice1 teaspoon orange zest2 tablespoon brown sugar1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes1 tablespoon cornstarch2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided1 pound boneless beef steak, cut across the grain into thin strips1 bunch of broccoli, cut into bite sized florettes1 tablespoon minced garlic1/3 cup chopped green onions4 cups hot cooked riceIn a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, orange juice, orange zest, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, and cornstarch. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over high heat in large skillet. Add beef and stir fry until browned, about three minutes. Transfer beef to a plate. Add broccoli and 4 tablespoons water to skillet. Cover and let steam for two minutes. Uncover and cook until liquid evaporates. Add garlic and green onions to skillet. Stir fry for 30 seconds. Add orange juice mixture and beef back to skillet. Cook until sauce is well blended and beef and broccoli are coated in sauce. Serve over white rice. Feel like Chicken? Try my Orange Sesame Chickenwith Honey and Soy Broccoli and Mushrooms... with Almond Brown Sugar Cookies for dessert. Next Up: Thinking about Valentine's Day...[...]



The Ultimate Classic Tacos

2011-02-02T07:47:28.334-08:00

When I was writing about the Taco Bell lawsuit a couple of days ago, I thought it would be handy to link to my own recipe for meaty, ground beef tacos. If you're craving tacos, you don't have to go out to eat or resort to one of those yawn-inducing taco seasoning packets. You can make them yourselves with my handy recipe! Um, just a second while I find that recipe. It must be crumpled and dog-eared at the bottom of my blog somewhere. Where is that darn recipe? It's not here. It never was. If a tree falls in the forest, or if a recipe is made but never written about on a blog, did it ever really exist? But hang on; we love tacos. We eat them all the time. Why weren't they here? What excuse could I have for this glaring omission? I think this is it: Sometimes I forget to share the everyday classics, maybe because they seem a little, well ordinary. But ordinary food is usually the favorite food, the food you return to again and again and find yourself making for dinner every Tuesday night. It's the food I like to make when people come to dinner because I know the grown-ups and the kids will both love it. There's nothing wildly exotic about these tacos. They're the ultimate classic with fried corn tortillas, chili and tomato flavored ground beef, shredded cheddar cheese and spicy and cooling pico de gallo. They'd be just as heavenly teetering on a plate on your lap while you watch the Super Bowl, as they would be around the dinnertable on a plain old weekday. So here they are, never to be lost forgotten or non-existent ever again. Long live ordinary, extraordinary tacos. Ground Beef Tacos:Estimated Cost for Ground Beef: $5.00-enough for 20 tacosNotes: I love to double this recipe and freeze the leftovers. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil1/2 large onion, chopped1 lb ground beef2-4 cloves garlic1 tablespoon chili powderpinch of cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes1/2 teaspoon salt1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce (If you like it spicy, use El Pato)In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up with a spoon. When the beef is almost cooked through, drain off the fat. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cayenne, and salt and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. Serve inside lightly fried corn tortillas with homemade pico de gallo, cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, and sour cream. I like to make refried beans in the crockpot to go along side; they're so easy, it won' take you but a moment. Up Next: Chinese New Year favorites[...]