Food From Home

Cooking at home for fun, health and frugality!

Full of beans!

Today I made Treebeard’s Red Beans and Rice as posted on Food.com. It was pretty simple, very filling and made a lot so if you have a group to feed or want some planned leftovers this is a good one to try.

I soaked my dry kidney beans in a pot of water overnight. The recipe states in big letters not to drain the soaking water from the beans. I didn’t see why so I drained it and added fresh water.  I’m just looking for something to rebel against!

I simmered my beans for 3 hours then added the seasonings and sausage and simmered it about 4 more hours.  For awhile it wasn’t looking too appetizing- kind of grayish water with bits floating around. Gradually it got pinker and the aroma was tempting.  You might have observed that I simmered my pot o’ beans way longer than the recipe instructed but I have my reasons! Firstly this was our second day of homeschooling 5th grade and secondly Hagbard didn’t get home until after 7 PM.  I think this recipe would go into a slow cooker very well if you want to use it that way- I know I will at some point.  (SAHM’s use slow cookers too!) I also think you could leave out the sausage for an even less expensive yet satisfying meatless meal. I served the beans and sausage over rice (of course) with the recommended shredded cheddar cheese and optional green onion.

Little Lulu decided no green onion for hers. She called this recipe Minnie’s Bean and Rice Curry.  She likes to rename things.  She ate everything but the sausage and declared that  it was yummy.  Yes! It actually won over my picky eater!  Hagbard and I both enjoyed this as well.  It was very filling so we have a lot of leftovers.

Leftovers often sneak into Hagbard’s lunch. I went ahead and packed it while I was putting food away tonight. I’m trying to be more responsible and pack his lunch at night just in case I oversleep again.   He also is getting a ham and swiss cheese sandwich, doughnut pudding (like bread pudding but made with old doughnuts), dried fruit mix and tomatoes.

The doughnut pudding was created because I spent a good share of Sunday making homemade doughnuts. I only made half a recipe but still had 6 or so full sized doughnuts plus many holes and now they were past their prime. So I had nothing much to lose if it didn’t turn out edible.

To make the doughnut pudding I cut up our old homemade glazed doughnuts into pieces- there were probably about 2- 2 1/2 cups. I dumped them into a greased 8″x8″ baking dish. I beat 1 cup of milk with 1 egg, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla and about 1/4 cup agave nectar. We are new to agave nectar but like it very much so far. I poured this mixture over the doughnut pieces and let it soak in for about 10 minutes. Then I baked it in a 350 F oven for about 25 minutes- until it was browning on top and set.

So what did the family think of my recycled doughnuts?  Little Lulu hates bread pudding so she wouldn’t even try it. Hagbard and I both enjoyed it though and  I liked not feeding my trash can the doughnuts I worked so hard on! I think it would also be delicious with the addition of apples.

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Beat the clock!

I totally overslept this morning so was making Hagbard’s lunch very quickly. I didn’t even have time to make coffee!

I had visions of doing a box with some rice balls and rolled omelet today but it was not to be. Today Hagbard has a pbj sandwich, ravioli, dried fruit, cheese, and some noodles with peanut sauce. He has a class tonight and won’t get home until around 10 PM so hopefully it is enough.

Tonight I will make pizza for dinner.

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Luminous Lunchbox

Hagbard is back to the grindstone of work and school today. I got up early to pack his lunch in a laptop lunches box. Today’s lunch is ravioli with tomato & basil sauce, Caprese salad, broccoli filler, dried fruit and a granola bar (cut into squares to fit).

Ravioli Revelry

I think we got the laptop lunches box in January. I really like using it because there is less waste and the separate inner containers make it easy to pack a more interesting and complete meal. Around the time we purchased this box, I really started looking at making bentos.  There are some wonderful ideas out there to make a packed lunch appetizing and healthy.

I got a book Kawaii Bento Boxes: Cute and Convenient Japanese Meals on the Go at the same time that I got the lunch box. In the book there are instructions for making things like a rolled omelet or rice balls. There is also good information on how to pack your bento and nutritionally balance it. And of course there are ideas for making it cute! I was a bit surprised at how much ketchup was used. I’m not really a ketchup fan- I don’t even dip my fries in it- so I shuddered a bit every time it was mentioned but wondered if Japanese ketchup is different.

Hagbard doesn’t mind cute lunches but I don’t go overboard usually. I think even just using a cookie cutter on a sandwich adds appeal to ordinary lunch. Generally I spend 10- 20 minutes packing the lunch and making coffee. The most time I have ever spent putting together a lunch was probably an hour. That included cooking rice or pasta and fiddling with the box. I think having a plan before you start and having a stash of things that are ready to tuck into the box definitely cuts down on prep time. I frequently incorporate planned leftovers and that saves time.

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It’s Gyro-riffic!

homemade gyro

Yesterday was Hagbard’s 30th birthday and he had requested gyros for dinner. I made homemade Tzatziki sauce, gyro meat and pita bread. I pretty much spent all day in the kitchen yesterday so today is leftovers or pbj!

I made the Tzatziki on Saturday night.

Tzatziki

1 T salt for salting cucumbers

3 c Greek yogurt (or strained plain yogurt)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 large cucumber

1T olive oil

1T fresh dill or 1 tsp dried dill

salt and pepper to taste

Peel cucumber. Cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Cube the cucumber and place in a colander over a bowl. Sprinkle cucumbers with salt and let stand for at least 30 minutes. Drain water and pat cucumber dry.

In a food processor combine the remaining ingredients and process until well-blended. Refrigerate.

Make at least 2 hours ahead so flavors blend.

Sunday morning I made the gyro meat. In the past we’ve bought frozen gyro kits at the grocery store and gyro meat over the internet. These were somewhat expensive options. We wouldn’t like the sauce or pita bread in the kit so it was pretty wasteful. After trial and error over the years I’ve arrived at a recipe for “gyro loaf” which pleases my family. I’ve found using fattier ground beef is important and using the food processor gives it the texture my family likes. I often freeze half of the loaf after cooking it  and that works well.

Gyro Meat

1 lb ground lamb

1 lb ground beef

1 c onion, finely chopped or shredded

1 T minced garlic

3/4 tsp salt

1T dried marjoram

1T dried rosemary, ground

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 325F. Mix everything in a food processor for 1 minute. Shape mixture into  a loaf- about 5 1/2 ” x 11″ and 1 ” tall.

Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool several hours or overnight before slicing. Warm slices briefly  in a skillet or microwave before serving.

I had decided to make pita bread instead of buying it this time.  I found a new recipe for Arabian Pita Bread on Food.com that looked simple and had good reviews. The recipe calls for 1T dried nonfat milk powder. I rarely use powdered milk but had some in the cabinet so I pulled it out. My box apparently expired in December last year so I decided not to use it. Maybe it would’ve been okay but maybe not. I thought I’d just use some regular milk but totally forgot to add it. I used honey instead of sugar. Other than that I followed the recipe.  I mistakenly stacked some rolled out dough between pieces of waxed paper. They stuck fast. None of my pita bread really formed a pocket but that wasn’t important to me since we put everything on top and fold it to eat. It seemed that the ones that were a bit thicker worked a bit better since the thinner ones got crispier and stiffer. I think if I did it over I’d make the dough balls bigger and not roll them as thin- and not stack anything! In the end I got some bread and it worked for our gyros.

I thought we had olives to add to our gyros but none could be found. I also totally forgot to make french fries until we were putting food on our plates so we just had gyros last night. Oops. Everyone enjoyed the gyros though. Little Lulu had meat and feta cheese on her pita bread. Hagbard and I had meat, tzatziki, onion, feta cheese and tomato on our bread.

Later in the evening we had an ice cream cake Hagbard had picked up from Dairy Queen. I love making and decorating cakes but it is his tradition to have an ice cream cake on his birthday so he usually just buys one.

Happy Birthday Hagbard!

The History of Gyros

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Morning Macaroni Mayhem

Hola!

This morning I got up early and started making the macaroni salad for our lunch today.  I used wacky mac instead of regular macaroni today. As everyone else was asleep my only helper today was our long haired Chihuahua, Sophie.

I first made  a deli macaroni salad recipe I found on the former Recipezarr- now Food.com- in April of last year. My daughter had expressed a fondness for macaroni salad from the grocery store deli and I’m always thrilled to find something she will eat but I was sure we could make it at home pretty easily.

My daughter won’t eat visible onions but I can get by with using onion powder. I have made a few other adaptions to the original recipe.  Since we are a small family I also made less than the original recipe would. We’ll be having this with Cajun seasoned chicken breast today.

Stirring it all together.

Macaroni Salad

(makes about 3 cups)

1 1/2 c macaroni or wacky mac

1T onion powder

1 dill pickle, diced

1/2 tsp salt and pepper or to taste

3/4 c mayo

1 tsp pickle juice

1/4 tsp dried dill weed

1/4 tsp garlic powder- or to taste

about 1/4 c diced cheddar cheese

Cook macaroni 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and rinse.

Mix with diced pickle and onion powder in medium bowl. Add salt, pepper, mayo, pickle juice, garlic powder, dill weed and cheese and stir well.

Refrigerate a couple of hours before serving.

Takes about 20-30 minutes to make.

Review: Everyone ate and enjoyed the macaroni salad. Hagbard said that it complimented the Cajun seasoned chicken well. Little Lulu declared that it was delicious. There are probably 1 or 2 serving left.

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Chow Time!

This is my first post for this blog. You can read about me on the About Me page.

I guess I’ll start with a list of what I have planned for dinner for the next 7 days. When I plan our meals I generally just make a list of 7-14 meals without assigning them a day so we remain flexible.

1. frozen beef ravioli with tomato basil sauce,  spinach salad

2. gyros, french fries, ice cream cake

3. chicken breast and pasta/ salad

4. roast beef, mashed potatoes, broccoli w/mushrooms, rosemary & garlic

5. lemon ginger chicken thighs, rice, stir fry veggies

6. pancakes, sausage, fruit

7. homemade pizza, caprese salad

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