Another pinterest adventure.

Alas, the bug got me. I truly believed that the power of positive thinking, healthy eating, plenty of sleep (and a little grape juice) would save me. But sadly, it didn’t. I willed myself through my day at work till my prep, till I could no longer hang for fear of a puke incident by the one and only Mrs. E. That COULD NOT happen. I will spare any and all details and just tell you I am finally up and around now. I kinda had to force myself to do it. I needed to go to the grocery due to an impending snow storm and oh my three kids who were sure they would starve if momma took to her bed another day.

I am just so very grateful that it was 1) the weekend and 2) it had moved through the others before me. I could be there for the girls due to snow days and I took one extra day off so my guy didn’t have to help. They were all better and we truly thought we were done with it, so I could basically go to bed and die. And die I did.

I am easing very slowly back into food. I went two days without caffeine and lived to tell. Today I did squeak out a small cup of coffee and kinda thinking as long as I keep feeling like this that may be my new regime. YES! No more pepsi. I just can’t even think about it or stomach it at this point. The bug may be a blessing in disguise. I truly wanted to wean myself down to no pop and 1 cup of coffee a day. And by golly that may have happened of its own accord. Wahoo!

But that isn’t the reason for this post. Today I was wanting a comforting but light soup. Kpuff and I frequent Takioka here the Fort and they have this soup that begins  your meal and it is always so amazing, comforting and light. I knew whatever I was having had to be pretty light since it was my first real food. Anyway…Pinterest saved the day yet again.

PIN49) I made the recipe here and I followed it mostly. I added six cups of chicken broth instead of 4 cups of broth and 2 water. I figured I needed a heartier version since it was my first real food. It definitely tasted hardier. Not bad, just hardier. When I make again (yes I will make again) I will follow directions. Another change I made was I fried the onions in coconut oil and I didn’t submerge them in milk. I am allergic to dairy so I just substituted water. I couldn’t tell a difference. Once I assembled the soup I didn’t add many of the fried onions, I wasn’t sure I could handle fried quite yet. I also added more mushrooms to build my system back up. I knew I needed a heartier soup. It was so amazing. I am so super stoked for it for my lunch tomorrow at school. YUM!!! Here are some pics.

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You cook the veggies till they are soft and take them out

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Remember I added way more mushrooms than it called for. You gotta let them sit and soak up broth. YUM!!!!

And while I ate my soup my family dined on Pin51this.

soup3Yup seriously the last thing I wanted to make, but I did it cause they needed real food. Not daddy cooked food.

And for my final pin, PIN52) I will try and not share actual details but I saw this pin over a year ago and have been doing it for my children and I never force them to drink it if they don’t want to. They love it so it is never an issue. Sometimes we forget or I run out. But knock on wood, it does seem to keep some of this stuff at bay or at the most makes most stomach issues more mild. I will tell you # 1 doesn’t like grape juice and she definitely was one of the sicker ones. I will also tell you that I usually drink it but forgot on Thursday of last week and I woke up Friday feeling off. All of that can be coincidence or in our heads. Who knows. But I will tell you when I read the pin a few years back I researched it because I thought it was crap. It didn’t take me long to discover where it came from. It came from a doctor who deals with stomach issues and he discovered it by coincidence with his own family. There is a ton of people that swear by it. I am about 78% sold on it. I will say it does make it more mild. My biggest warning would be the amount of sugar in it. It is so high in sugar that you must be careful with it.

Alright….I am off. Another gross edition from the E homestead.

I was at it again.

I am telling you a huge part of making sure I have some time to myself is cooking for my family. I love this because I get to feed my family food I make which I believe ties a family together and carries on a legacy of memories. I cook things my mother in law makes, as well as, recipes from my family. My girls all the sudden want those things and will hopefully eventually cook them for their family. I try and make them more healthy if they need it and I can. This recipe was no different.

Several times with my co-workers I have eaten at a local restaurant, Rack and Helen’s, which is bar type foods and Mexican. Everything I have ever had was amazing, but the best thing I feel like they do is their red sauce or enchilada sauce. So much so I have begun a journey to recreate a healthier version at home. Last night was my first attempt and it was good. It was not mind blowing but it was amazing when all the components were placed together.

As I was cooking in the kitchen this funny thing happens. I turn on music and my girls and I dance and sing stupidly but it is so much fun! Again another awesome memory we are making. But as I was cooking my sous chef was beside me making cheesecake. As in making it where I didn’t have to help. The one thing I did assist on was getting a bowl because she is short you know! But it was amazing by the way!

PIN48) I got the recipe from here and then per usual I tweaked it to make it work for us. I replaced the vegetable oil for coconut oil. I also exchanged the vegetable stock/chicken stock for beef stock low sodium. I feel like this second exchange may have been where the first error occurred. The second would have been I may have reduced it too much. It was pretty thick. I followed the time but mine was markedly thick.

My review would be that when I placed the sauce into my actual wet burrito recipe it worked. But I had to incorporate the fresh ingredients of tomatoes and lettuce to cut through the strong and intense flavor of the sauce. It wasn’t horrible by itself, it just was beefy (to use a weird adjective). If I made again I would probably follow her. I was just thinking I was using it for wet burritos why not beef stock? It was rich in a savory manner if that makes sense.

I have heard several accounts of making an amazing red sauce/enchilada sauce from a can of enchilada sauce of your choice and a jar of beef gravy. Initially to me, this seems to easy and I was hesitant of trying it. But now I can see how this may have the consistency I am looking for. I would just like to decrease sodium because both are high in those products.

I could also continue to tweak the one I tried. I am not sure I would definitely eat it again and switch the beef back to chicken or veggie stock. My wet burrito was amazing and super pretty (can’t you see it?), so it isn’t like it was torture. I just know I needed to add lettuce and tomato to kinda cut through the richness of the sauce.

I apologize for how bad the pictures are because I had to use my cell. My camera was dead. But you get the idea.

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Definitely a try again recipe. Just not Rack and Helen’s red sauce which is A-U-H-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

Mommy Rhetoric is cooking again!

Here is the bad side of break…GOOD GRIEF, I always feel full. My kids are always hungry and I am always anxious to cook complicated meals that I know they will love and I didn’t have the time to try. Therefore, I feel like we eat all the time and we are eating good.  But today we have family coming in from out of town and I enjoy making food to help out with feeding a large crowd. Therefore, today (or this AM I should say) we have been cooking at the a la maison de Eichenauer. We are making the turkey which is something we normally do. Those of you that follow me on instagram know that we got a butterball turkey fryer.

There is a story with that. Well usually there is always a story with everything. However, I feel like about ten years ago fried turkeys became all the rage and my Dad tried one. Since then my family has been addicted to the deliciousness. I love how moist and flavorful fried turkeys are. People always think they are going to be fattening and like fried chicken and they just aren’t. The skin if you choose to eat it is the most fattening part and the greasiest. It tastes a lot like bacon if that is your thing. I run hot and cold with the skin. Anyway, my dad offered to come up here earlier this fall and make us a fried turkey. After that my # 2 decided she was addicted to it. Later that day we watched a butterball infomercial for their indoor deep fryer. It seemed so amazing and it was less dangerous than the version my dad does. A task I would never ever be brave enough to do, he is a master though.

I promised her if I ever saw it for sale I would buy it. I never expected too. Two weeks later it was on sale at Walmart. We purchased it and by golly it saved Thanksgiving for us. We were all sick and not interested in spreading our germs so we opted to stay home from our planned travels. We made our first ever fried turkey and it was amazing. We are giving it another whirl today for my guys family. So….if you like fried turkey but don’t like the hassle of the deep pot and an open flame this is a great alternative. Our holds up to a 14lb turkey (I think there is an XL version) and the clean up is super easy as it has a spout for emptying. It also is super quick! 4 minutes per pound.

But alas, the turkey really isn’t my department. I won’t lie our gender roles when it comes to protein in this house are pretty newyears3traditional. He handles the meat and I cook the other stuff. I am okay with that too. I hate raw meat. Ick! That isn’t to say I don’t do it, I just usually refer to him, the grill or this fryer. However, today I offered to make my apple pie. I call it that because it is probably the best thing I make by far. After many, many years of making it and countless pies it is my coveted recipe that I developed. I took a recipe found on food.com and made it my own. I usually make my own crust, but for today I went pillsbury for lazy reasons. It is a wonderful alternative. But if you want to make it isn’t that hard. Here is my recipe:

Pie Crust

  • 2 cups of flour (possibly a little more to add moisture or for rolling)
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1 cup of crisco (I prefer the sticks already packaged but that is for ease of use…Just don’t use butter crisco)
  • 1/2 cup of ice water
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup of sugar

Mix all the ingredients together and then add in water as needed to make it till it almost feels dry and is pea like. I like a pastry mixer for this. I can’t think of the specific name. You want it somewhat sticky, but not sticking to everything. Should make enough for two crusts for a top and bottom.

newyears4The apple recipe is as follows:

The apple pie filling

  • 5 cups of sliced apples (I use granny smith and two other baking varieties but mostly granny smith)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • squeeze a whole lemon on the apples once they are cut
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of flour (possibly more if you have juicy apples…add by the tsp after the first three tablespoons)
  • several pats of butter (not margarine)

Cut apples all uniform in size to insure they all cook evenly. Add in the dry ingredients. The sugars will create more liquid coming from your apples so you want to make sure you have enough flour so your pie is not runny. The apples should look dryish and not runny in syrup. Place your crust in the bottom of pie plate. Pour in the apples and push down so they are evenly packed. Add your top crust. Vent your pie. Bake on 350 covered for 45 minutes. Take off cover and bake 15 minutes. Stick a fork or knife in to make sure apples are done and add time in 10 minute increments if not done. Watch that your crust doesn’t get over done.

Today I taught # 2 how to make this apple pie to help her with the apple pie kit she got for Christmas. She made the three most newyears2adorable apple pies to go along side my own gigantic apple pie. She loved it and made beautiful pies.

The next thing on the oven line up was sweet potato souffle. I love sweet potatoes and most of my family does too. However, they didn’t like the traditional sweet potato casserole with marsh mellows. We had been eating that for years and then scraping off the marsh mellows. I realized I was not a huge fan of them either so during thanksgiving I went searching for an alternative. I found a souffle that looks intriguing but there were nuts in it and I knew that would never happen with my picky crew. Then I decided to just yank the pecans out. Sure I love pecans, but the point for the change was to make it something my family would be more eagerly interested in. I found this amazing recipe here. We have had it twice since then. I also tweaked some things to make it a little less desserty. I removed quite a bit of butter and adjusted the sugar and added eggs. I’d give you measurements, but that isn’t really something I do till I have tweaked a recipe to exactly where I like it.

Last night was the first new years eve that I have stayed up till midnight. I started watching a new show I had seen commercials for and I got addicted. I started at 11 and watched them till 2:30 am and then started again this AM. I am now on episode 7 of the first season of The Americans. I am really loving this show and know I will absolutely fly through the two seasons, but I am also super happy their third season starts January 28th. Then again I love Keri Russell. She is amazing in this.

Well Happy New Years to all my readers from my family till yours. My guy is behind the camera.

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I adore #3’s very skeptical face here, # 2 who just wants to cuddle with her puppy, myself who just wants it done because I can tell # 3 is gonna melt down (thanks to a late night), but hey # 1 is pretty happy.

Saturday Sharing – The Food Edition

Oh yes I have lots of food stuffs to share. Unfortunately, in none of my food stuffs did I have the foresight to take pictures. But I must say I rocked the kitchen this week in a mad, mad way!  As the school year progresses we all start to feel like we can catch our breath and it becomes a little less Pizza Hut feeding the Eichenauer’s and a little bit more of the Eichenauer’s becoming self-sufficient and cooking for themselves. Our biggest issues is lack of time. We have piano lessons, dance and sometimes softball. Add in meetings for work, classes for me and just sometimes needing to stay after work and some days I try and convince my family that string cheese and pepperoni’s are a meal. In fact, my # 2 has named those nights tapas nights. We literally take all the things we have that we can right now, cut them into small pieces and add in a yogurt/pudding or applesauce and it is Tapas Night at the Eichenauers.

My biggest battle in the kitchen (beside time) is I get really tired of cooking the same recipes over and over. I get really tired of being the one that always decides what is for dinner. I have found the more I rely on what the girls actually want the less bored I get. As well, my # 2 is becoming my sous chef. The girl loves to cook and really I haven’t found much she is afraid of. So together we usually tackle our family meals.

Baked Chicken Parmesan Breasts

 

This week we made an Eichenauer favorite. A recipe that stemmed from one my mother in law makes. But in the kitchen I am queen of change meaning I make recipes my own by changing something in them. Sometimes it can be out of necessity and sometimes it is just because I am creative in the kitchen. But this change happened out of necessity. My girls love grammy’s Parmesan chicken breasts. I love them too! I remember her making them when I was dating my guy. They are a mix of buttery parm, bread crumbs and baked. They are so good. Well we didn’t think it could be topped. Till one night that was the request from my girls. I agreed to make it and I went to go get my breadcrumbs and was out of luck. I had none. I don’t really used pre-made breadcrumbs. I usually will make my own or use panko. I had none though. So in a panic I was not sure what to do and my # 2 suggested using Zesta saltine crackers and I thought okay. I added some Italian seasoning and the rest was the same. Immediately, we had a hit! We loved the crispness. It makes it almost like fried chicken without all the fat. I have a recipe but it is loose.

  1. Melt two tablespoons of butter and add 1/4 cup of  water (sometimes we will add milk if we are feeling fatty)
  2. In a bowl mix 1/2 cup of smooshed saltine crackers and 3/4 cup of parmesan
  3. I add in a tsp of italian seasoning and I smoosh it in my hands to wake it up (I use dried herbs here)
  4. Slather chicken in the liquids and then the dries
  5. Bake at 350 for 45 mins or until juices are clear.
  6. EAT and enjoy!

foodBaked Ziti ala Pioneer Woman

This week we also made probably one of the best Italian dishes I have had in awhile. We saw her show last Saturday and I made the recipe from my head from what I could remember. I solely made this because my # 3 kept begging for it. If you know my # 3 you know that her begging for food should be listened too. The girl never eats. So if something has her going, you feed it to her because it won’t last and sometimes I worry she will wither away. And no I am not a short ordered cook. Remember the tapas? The girl lives off of string cheese or mickey shaped cheese and turkey pepperonis. Oh and cookies.

Anyway, I have found out this year if a recipe calls for ricotta. Do not put cottage cheese in it. Do not substitute with anything else. I am serious. You are committing a sin if you do. If you want lower fat the ricotta peeps made that for you so get that. But I repeat do not substitute with anything else. It makes your Italian recipes that call for it simply divine and creamy. You will thank me I promise.

So first things first. Brown your hamburger. For me I mince about 3 tbsps of an onion and two garlic cloves to brown with my hamburger. I usually just use 1/2 lb of hamburger or 1lb if we are feeling meaty. My girls like the meat to sauce ratio to lean toward the sauce versus the meat. Once it is browned, drain. Throw back into the pan and make sure it is bigger and add in your sauce of choice. You could make your own sauce here and I would if it were the weekend or if I had some in freezer. But I didn’t. I choose Ragu original because the others are either blucky tasting or have too many herbs. Let it simmer and while it is hanging out get out a bowl and dump in a small container of ricotta and you could certainly use more if you wanted but I am not a gigantic cheese fan so smaller is better for us. Also toss in a egg and add some Italian seasoning. About a tsp. I smoosh in my hands again to wake up. I also add in about 1/2 cup of fresh grated Parmesan cheese. Then mix all together. While all of that is happening cook your pasta. We used ziti.

Now you are going to get out a 9×13 pan or two 8×8’s. Layer it similar to lasagna. First layer down is meaty sauce and make take a little more than regular layers to cover your pan. then pasta. Then cheese mixture and once I am on the cheese mixture layer sometimes I will add in grated mozzarella. It is up to you and your preference. Continue till you end with a meaty sauce layer. Then add in grated moz and parm and bake. It shouldn’t take long here maybe 20 minutes on 350. Serve with a salad and bread and you are all good. Enjoy!

Chili Time

Here in the midwest we like our chili. I have lived in both Indiana and Ohio and I have found that eating chili is so different for each state. However, I am a Hoosier born and breed. Therefore, my chili preference mirrors my heritage. Now my guy, he is a traitor and enjoys the Buckeye variety. He rarely gets it because sweet chili is so hard for me to put my head around. I usually will make it once or twice a year, but not much more.

Mine is way more simple.

  1. Brown 1lb of hamburger with half a minced onion (I have kids all my onions are minced)
  2. Boil pasta shape of choice while cooking (you can add it into your chili if you are like a thicker chili. It does suck all of the moisture out so I usually do it on the side)
  3. Drain meat add back to soup pan. Add in a half a box of chicken stock or the full thing depending on how runny you want it
  4. Add in a large can of tomato sauce. Here you can substitute for a large can of crushed or whole tomatoes. My family doesn’t like tomato chunks so I just go with sauce.
  5. Add in a can of brooks chili beans 
  6. Add in chili powder to preference (sometimes I will use a brooks chili packet…depends on my mood)
  7. Let cook and serve over pasta to preference.

It may be boring, but it is good and my family loves it. We serve it over zesta crackers or fritos. Add some cheese and yum!

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy these recipes!

We needed that…

And to keep moving with my 100 pins goal here I am embarking on some new territory. A few things are going to happen around here to help it and to help me. I feel like I am in a food rut. I am so tired of making the same things and then my usual meals took a beating with my guy’s TN. Meaning I mushed up the foods and now he cannot even think about them.

I have concocted a plan to help with that. Actually a few different plans that I hope to simultaneously play out. The girls and I are going to do a summer cooking camp. Or at least that is what we called it. But basically, it is a mode for me to teach them how to cook and for them to take more responsibility in the kitchen. Thankfully, I started all of them young and had them in the kitchen with me as soon as they could be. So all of them pretty much get the basics. But I am talking I want to full on step out of the way and advise.

I got to do this the other day with # 2 because I was rocking a seriously horrible migraine and I ended up needing a double dose of my migraineslaw meds which actually means I was out of it. I was struggling to mind focus and we were having company that night. Therefore, I needed to get stuff done. I told # 2 where to find the recipes and she cooked away. # 1 did the more “dangerous” tasks like grating cheese, cutting and opening stuff. Or the sharps job as I like to call it.

Pin39) Baby girl # 2 made this cole slaw. It isn’t a huge favorite around here, but sometimes I get a hankering for it. It was the fourth. We had to have it. And I mean it when I say she made the whole thing. They only thing I did help with was reaching the ingredients or utensils that were high. She is just 4 foot. And yes it turned out great. Those that ate it liked it. # 2 and I did determine it needed to up the sweet a little and down the liquid. By the 2nd day it was just swimming in its own liquid and I realize that that happens naturally. However, I feel like if we downed the overall liquids or made it more creamy than liquidy it would have helped. So more mayo and less apple cider vinegar.

And Pin40) Yesterday we had worked so hard on the food for the fourth that we deemed it use our leftovers and make snacky type foods day. I made pulled pork for the 4th and we made options of tacos, sammies or nachos with the pulled pork. We had no meat left, but we had nacho chips, cole slaw and cheese left. I looked around pinterest a little and decided to make our main dinner be a round of pretzels made from scratch. We have done this many times and even have our recipe. But # 2 and I decided we would try this one for something different.

I will tell you that it requires quite a few hands and steps so it better carried out in a group. It took my guy, myself and # 2 all working on different steps. Admittedly though I made taco meat for nachos during the chaos so maybe that is why. But it wasn’t hard. Just takes planning and time. I always make my dough in my bread machine. My poor bread machine is 17 years old at this point, but this baby still runs. And word to the wise I always activate my yeast as in put it in warm water, give it your sugar (depending on your recipe brown or white) and let it sit till it is all foamy. This usually takes about five. We call it waking it up and letting it party. But this creates an airy and fluffy dough.

We decided to top ours with salt and then a second round with cinnamon sugar. They were all so yummy and this recipe is a for sure keeper. If you like the crunch of a soft pretzel try this because it really creates a crunchier outside and soft pillowy inside. I did leave out the egg wash mostly because I don’t necessarily look for the shiny outside of a pretzels. That is all the egg wash provides. It kinda happens naturally from the soda water you boil it in. Great pin!

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And to hopefully help my food rut I am going to challenge myself to a cooking thing with my family.  We get into such ruts that we eat pizza or go out to dinner too much. I am going to start a challenge once school is out to 90 days of eating at home and healthy. As in clean. Thankfully, we eat fairly clean already. So most of the challenge is just eating at home and not going the easy route. I think it will pair quite nicely with the cooking camp I am doing with my girls where they learn to cook more and cook different things. I have got them being pinning fools.

I am gonna do this thing!

I shared before that I love to cook. But my work schedule during the school year messes with my love of cooking. Or I should say our school schedules mess with it it as in we do not have enough time to cook the way I wish I could. I did a lot of freezer meals and that helped. But I am so picky about flavor and I struggled sometimes with the freezer taste. But it was a good alternative.

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My goal this summer to find 20 go-to recipes that let me cook the way I want to without falling into the boxed food trap. My girls are used to having a momma that cooks all the time and some of that back slide this year. I hope to test the following recipes all found on pinterest. My other goal is to hopefully blog about each one in hopes that it helps someone else out there in the same predicament. I want my girls to know healthy and hearty cooked at home meals.

  1. Crockpot spaghetti – a recipe I have wanted to try forever. I have been raised in the camp no pasta in the crockpot so this intrigues me and is worth a try.
  2. Crockpot Beef Chili – Chili of any sort at my house is a hit. My kids like it with beans and meat, so this recipe is about perfect.
  3. White Chicken Chili Soup – One of our teachers at school makes this a lot and I always think it sounds so good and that my girls would like it’s mild flavor. Therefore, this recipe is definitely on the list.
  4. Three cheese BBQ chicken sammies – Sammies are always a hit at my house. We love to squish stuff in the waffle maker with shredded chicken of all flavors. This sounds like it could easily be another variation on that. Nom!
  5. Perfect Pancakes – We always have a binner in there somewhere during the week. My girls love it to much not too. Unfortunately, out of lack of preparedness I found myself relying on boxed pancake mixes this year. A shame for me because honestly scratch pancake mix is probably one of these easiest things to make. Plus my girls are used to my versions and the box mixes are either too flat or too fluffy. Thankfully, I tried this one already and will share later my results. They were good (obviously cause I included it in my 20).
  6. Daddy’s Hamburgers – These burgers are time saving and mess saving because you bake them. My family loves burgers of all varieties, but I hate the greasy mess. I have made this before once and I know they will be perfect for this challenge. Plus they just sound yummy.
  7. Skinny Buffalo Chicken Strips – Buffalo anything is already a staple around these parts. I imagine my girlies would love these or they would shred them and repeat a buffalo flavored version of # 4. Either way they are eating them.
  8. The Perfect Baked Potato – My girls and guy love baked potatoes. After our four months of my guy on soft foods baked potatoes became a staple. I also love the idea of topping them with yummy leftovers like broccoli cheese or shredded BBQ beef. There are so many options and I think if you explore you can turn a baked potato into dinner.
  9. Frozen Crockpot Meatloaf – I think the frozen I didn’t like so much was cooked. It wasn’t horrible. I just think it messed with flavors. I do feel like maybe frozen raw and thawed to cook maybe the answer to that. Anyway, I am willing to try this and see. Plus it is crockpot meatloaf. Yum!
  10. Pulled Pork in Pressure Cooker – We love pulled pork, but it ends up being a weekend meal. I think we could utilize our pressure cooker more and have the cooked all day flavor without the time of cooking all day. I like this recipe, but I would substitute the beer for root beer. My girls love sweet barbecue.
  11. Chicken in Pressure Cooker – I think chicken in the pressure cooker would be amazing. I wouldn’t necessarily follow all of this recipe. I don’t really like many herbs, so I would opt for more a barbecue flavor or garlic butter flavor.
  12. Hobo Meal – This recipe is intriguing to me. I already do something similar with potatoes. I love the idea of adding meat. I would leave out onions or add onion powder if you felt like you needed the flavor. I see the girls liking this idea of it being in an individual packet.
  13. Rotisserie Chicken Recipes – This is an awesome place for some great quick meals and I think I would use most of them. I would make my own chicken in the crockpot though. It is totally doable.
  14. Calzones – This could easily be a go-to. I know they have it as a freeze recipe. I think if you made the dough ahead of time you could freeze that and thaw what is needed and easily whip together multiple versions of calzones. Yum!
  15. Pizza Grilled Cheese – I guess this is a Canadian thing. I am not exactly sure why though. But whatever. I could see this becoming an easy thing at my house. Grilled cheese with added protein and a side salad and veg. Easy peezy!
  16. Bowtie Chicken Alfredo – My girls love chicken Alfredo so much that I put a stop to it for a year. This recipe looks pretty doable in a short amount of time. And I love me to Pioneer woman. So this will be happening in the test.
  17. Pepperoni Pizza Burgers – I said above and I will say again that my kids love burgers. This will be happening. It is the mixing of two favs.
  18. Creamy Mustard Sauce Chicken – I am just saying now minus brandy. I would find an alternative. But this sounds amazing and my family would eat chicken every day if I made it.
  19. Beef and Bean Burritos – You cannot ever go wrong with Mexican. On the days I did make dinner and it was good and hearty. Mexican was it. It is usually easy and quick. 🙂
  20. Easy Brown Sugar Porkchops – How could you possibly go wrong with this one? Sounds amazing.

Alright I will start this challenge next week and try and finish it up by August when we head back to school. I forsee  lot of healthy meals at the O’ E homestead.

I am a cook.

It is kinda funny because you would never know it. In fact, I am a good cook and dare I say I am an even better baker. I enjoy cooking. It is very theraputic for me as well as the food is good. Unfortunately, the time I get off of work compared with the time my family is done with school doesn't go. So most days I don't get to cook. It is a mish mash of leftovers from the weekend, ordered dinner or whatever my guy can throw together. 

Cooking

And I hate it. If there is one thing I dislike about my job it is the hours. They are fairly traditional business hours, not school hours. Of course, I don't mind it while working and it doesn't seem that big of a deal when it is happening. As well, it wouldn't be if my family all got home around that same time. But they don't. So I miss the making of dinner, the homework chaos (although I do request they save some for me sometimes or they save English for me) and practicies. Piano and dance both take place before I leave work or when I am commuting. 

I was home with my kiddos for what they knew since they were born. I did work, but they often didn't have a clue I worked and it was just hours at a time. I have always cooked. Other than my pizza weakness, I did all the cooking and it was usually from scratch. I don't really do boxed or frozen boxed food. Not because of a belief or ideal. Because I watched too much food network TV and it was easy. 

I have had to rely more in the last 2 years on frozen foods than I care to admit. But with golf season out there and my fall PhD I knew that I needed to find an alternative. My kids are growing tired of the easy usuals. While my guy was sick and just out of surgery friends and family brought up tons of cooked and frozen meals. My eyes were opened to batch cooking or once a month cooking. 

Of course, I had heard of it before and never tried it. But I am now. I need something I can do quickly when I get home and that my guy and I can do during the pass of the day from me coming home to him heading to golf course. 

To get on with it I tried my hand at it yesterday. I decided to attack just a few things. I could in no way do one month in a day. I am not that skilled. But I could do quite a bit. So I fried 5 lbs of hamburger. I turned that into 6 meals. One round of was italian style and one round was taco meat.

Thank goodness for pinterest and the accessibility to these recipes. 

  • I made three small but big enough for my family trays of baked spaghetti using Diary of a Recipe Collector's recipe. It smelled and looked amazing and I am so ready for it. I added variations in each tray so that each one would be different. Some were different cheeses and some more meaty. 
  • Then I made enchilada casserole that I made up the recipe for. I am sure someone else out there has it. I layered tortilla's like lasagna and used cheese and enchilada sauce in the layers with taco meat. I also added a layer of refried beans. 
  • Then I did two rounds of taco meat. My taco meat is so yummy thanks to KPuff. Who offered up the suggestion to make traditional taco meat and add refried beans. It added protein to it and stretches it out. As well, I love the texture. I love it so much that I miss the beans when they aren't there. I think this frozen meat will be used for tacos (hard/soft) and burritos. 
  • I froze two rounds of marinated pork chops in our family's favorite marinade of soy sauce (1.5 cups), honey (2 tbsp), freshly ground pepper (1 tsp) and lemon or lime juice (1 tbsp). 
  • And finally I made one frozen deep dish sausage pizza from yesterday's post

But I don't plan to stop there and I plan to make more this week to stock it up for at least two weeks or a bit more. Today I am focusing on chicken. 

  • I am going to do a whole bag of chicken. I like to crock pot my chicken in buffalo wing sauce mild sauce. You can change heat preference here. My kiddos like mild. This will eventually be frozen separated into servings. My hope is three meals. Where I will take out portion and then make buffalo chicken quesadillas. My kiddos fav. We just get tortillas and butter or olive oil one side and then we spread out shredded chicken and any kind of cheese you perfer and throw it on a waffle iron. NOM! 
  • I am going to freeze marinated chicken as well. I feel like for this and the pork that you not buy frozen and just freeze from a thawed state. But that is just my own thinking. With thawed chicken breasts I cover in ranch powder. I plan to add parmesan when it actually bakes with some mayo. 
  • And a new one for the ol' E homestead is Cheddar Cracker Chicken from What's Cookin, Chicago? Same thing here with chicken where you buy raw chicken and then you would coat as you normally would and then flash freeze and then freeze in a ziplock bag as needed. I am making two rounds today though. One for dinner tonight and one for the freezer. I hope we like it. My kiddos love butter crackers and cheese anything (minus # 1). My only fear is the sodium on this one. Crackers like this have so much sodium. But as with anything I make new I have my kiddos rate it and if we don't like we don't make again. 

I think from there I am done fore the week. Although, I will be cooking all week this week since I am on spring break. Therefore, I won't be digging into my stash. If the urge strikes to freeze a meatloaf or hamburgers than I may. 

I will keep you updated about how it goes. :) 

Nom Nom Pizza!

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My family has been putting up with my pizza obsession for a while now. But lately it has hit epic new level. My guy is now in his golf coaching days. This presents a dinner problem. As well, I work too late to make a good and hearty meal. By the time I get home my family is entering into stages of being "hangry" as they say. Sometimes they gotta tide themselves over even. 

Therefore, I have been trying to keep pizza fixins on hand all the time in order to be sure that I can throw that together quick so we don't have to order it out. Our favorite lately is so yummy! We have been doing taco pizza. 

I love taco pizza, but I don't love anything more than my own taco pizza. I have taco meat at the ready in the freezer and make it ahead so that I can pull it out as I need it. I always purchase a thin crust pizza dough from pillsbury. Actually I purchase it in multiple quantities, so I can have it on hand. 

Then I bake it for about 5 at 350 and dust the crust both sides in corn meal. I like the texture it gives the dough. Then I smother some beans on it and then put the taco meat on it and cover it in shredded cheese that we have around and finish baking to preference. Then I top with crushed doritos, lettuce and tomato. I usually have from scratch ranch on hand for the top. You could really add whatever you want. But I LOVE IT!!!!!

But there is one pizza I love more. It is our deep dish pizza. My dad's side of the family hails from the Chicago area. The Chicago peeps have a definite way they like their pizza. I have a preference for thin and deep. But sometimes you just have a hankering for Chicago style. Whenever we visit up there we always, always get Lou Malnati's. We request it when family comes home. Sometimes we even order it via the mail.

That was until we figured out how to make it ourselves. The key to their pizza is their sausage disk is what we call it. It is an actual layer of sausage. As well, it is mixing up the order of the toppings. We have perfected it just the way we like it here at Casa de E.

I use biscuit dough (pillsbury…sometimes generic is okay…but not for this) and I stretch them thin in a round cake pan. But not so thin that you can see through it. You do want it more thin because it will poof up and give you that deep dish crust feel. I also hit top and bottom with corn meal for texture. I bake it for about 8-10 minutes at 350.  Then I push it down so it isn't too poofy. 

Then layer with cheese. Like a lot of cheese. You can do whatever kind you like. We prefer mozzerella. Your layer of cheese should be thick. Then brown a thin layer of sausage in the shape of pan and once it is cooked through add it as the next layer after cheese. This should look like a huge circular disk of sausage. It sounds crazy and maybe even will look a bit more crazy…but trust me. You will love it. 

Add in a layer of pizza sauce. It should swim in it. But be careful there is a line of too much. I really like some chunk to my sauce, but my family doesn't. This is a section you could play with textures if you want or add in some veg. Now in Chicago you would stop there. But because I am a born Hoosier I cannot let go of the idea that pizza is topped with cheese. So I add in a must more modest layer of cheese. Not a lot, just enough to add amazing flavor and that topping I love. 

Bake about 10-15 until the cheese is bubbly and gooey to your liking. Then take out of the oven and serve like you would a cake or pie. Enjoy this little bit of heaven. It is so, so, so good! I made this last night and my family destroyed it. If you know my family you know this is amazing. I raise birds. They hardly eat anything in large portions. But they did this. And took seconds and thirds. 

There you go. Some pizza love from my home to yours. 

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.

I did this (Made the eggrolls)

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Yeah. (Made the fresh from scratch salsa)

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Yeah. (From scratch pie and sugar  cream inside it)

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The theme for today's BloggyMom's Blog Dare is yeah, yeah, yeah. The only connection I could honestly make is the massive amounts of food I have made for my family the last two weeks. However, here are some of favorites. All of them are from scratch with no boxed anything! 

The Blog Dare on Bloggy Moms

She just keeps rolling.

Yesterday I started hearing about this monster storm coming directly at me. I realized I had plans Saturday to celebrate a birthday and Christmas with a dear friend and her little girl. I realized said storm and date I wouldn't miss meant I had to brave my local walmart on the day the news announced the end of the world was coming. That is a whole nother post for another time. 

Anyway, I did my motherly duty and went to do my bi-weekly grocery shopping trip and while doing it noticed I was incredibly hungry. And even worse realized I had not eaten all day. Minus some caffiene occasionally to keep me going I realized it was 7:30 and I had ingested nothing. 

I decided the lack of calories for the day may allow me to splurge a little and I purchased stuff to make my wholemade from scratch eggrolls. A task I do about once or twice a year because honestly it is a job! Finally around 8:30 I got around to making them and knew it would be a while before eating. And yes I realize it is way too late to be eating but I was starving folks. 

Well I set up shop to do this task and I realized I had a very intrigued helper. My #2 loves to help me cook. She especially loves it when it is foods we don't normally eat. Egg rolls are kinda of my thing. I eat them when my guy is out or when I am worrying about no one else but me. No one else really even considers them. Who knows why, but I figure more for me to stock my freezer with! 

So with a sous chef by my side we walked through every step of the egg roll making process. I Eggroll1explained why we were doing what we were doing and let her run the show. For starters I brown a high quality sausage. I prefer just a salt and pepper variety. I ended up running sausage through blender for my guy to have it in a recipe for later and I actually think it made the end product eggroll better because I prefer smaller pieces of sausage. 

Then make sure you blot out as much grease as you can from the sausage. The less grease the better. Then you toss in a full package of cole slaw into the pan you browned the sausage in. No dressing, just the cabbage and carrots. You can cut your own and add in more veggies. I prefer the package because it is easy. Toss the sausage in with the cole slaw mix. Add in 2-3 TBSP of soy sauce. You can add more or less or none at all. This is totally a preference. Let it cook down and steam. It should go down about 50% and that is the indicator it is done. 

Then place it into a bowl and get your egg roll wrappers out. I usually find these by tofu and what not in my grocery store. I get a small bowl of water to help seal the eggrolls. Then this is where things I think got tricky for #2. She was scared. I kept impressing upon her you cannot go wrong here. The one main goal is that you have no open areas where the stuff inside can sneak outside. So it has to be a tight roll. The package tells you how to roll, but I have done this for so many years I have adapted it. It doesn't matter your method but the tighter the roll the more pleased you will be with the texture inside. As I told #2 you want to have soft and yummy (not greasy and crispy) inside. I warn you now. This will make a lot. The more you stuff inside an egg roll the less you will have. I usually stuff them with about 2-3 TBSP of stuff. 

Then from here you must decide if you are a fryer or a ovener. I think both methods work great and have similiar results. Usually for me it is about time. If I have more time I will bake. If you do that try a 350 degree oven and then you need to spray with Pam or paint with olive oil or vegetable Eggroll2oil. I would say about 20-25 minutes. But I always watch and just make sure they are crispy on the outside like an egg rolls should be. 

If you are fryer there are also two methods. You can shallow fry or deep fry. I prefer shallow. The deeper makes the oil seep in and is ruins texture and it is just meh. The shallow fry though you must keep an eye on it. I turn heat up and wait till it is warm enough that the egg roll talks back when you put it in pan. Usually keep it on each side for about a 1 to 1 and half minutes. 

You can serve with just plain soy sauce, duck sauce, sweet and sour sauce or even hot sauce. You are only limited by your own imagination. You can also substitute the sausage for chicken, pulled pork, steak or shrimp. You can also go totally vegetarian with straight slaw. 

I always end up with extras to freeze. So make sure you either freeze them on a tray apart from one another or wrap them individually to freeze. They will stick and you will not like the result. So take Eggroll3 my advice and save yourself a headache. 

The best part of this whole eggroll experience is that my baby girl got to cook it with me and she tried them. My other two and my guy don't even try them. She at least tried them. And guess what….SHE LOVED THEM! 

 

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