Saturday, May 30, 2009

Power Cooking at Operation M.O.M.

Yesterday was a ‘power cooking’ day… that means I cook once and freeze a huge amount for other days when I’m super busy.

So, I pulled out all of my spaghetti making supplies to make my East Coast spaghetti sauce with meatballs, sausages, braciole and some pork ribs. It makes the kitchen an absolute mess, but I’ve got a delicious sauce for dinner guests tonight, enough for us again later this week, and 20 meals frozen for use in the next few months…..yep, it’s a lot of work initially.. Also, I froze containers of just sauce which is ideal for meatless dinners such as ravioli and baked ziti.

You have to have a lot of freezer space to do this kind of cooking, but I promise you it’s well worth it, especially when you are using a tried and true recipe that you know will come out just perfect.

I freeze in plastic storage containers, and also use my vacuum sealer since food bags take up very little space. The trick is to make sure the container is air-tight to prevent frost. Don’t defrost in the microwave as plastic breaks down with noxious fumes.. just let the container sit in a sink of lukewarm water.. it’s much safer.

I really watch the weekly fliers for sale items. If lean ground beef is on sale, I’ll buy 10lbs or so… cook it up and then freeze into meal-sized packages using the vacuum sealer. On any busy day a package of frozen cooked ground beef can quickly become one of our favorite comfort food meals:

Beef Enchiladas
Shephard’s Pie
Tamale Pie
My husband’s favorite Sock-a-roni meat sauce
Spaghetti Bolognese
Mexican Goulash

The uses are pretty endless… Try power cooking with your favorite recipes…
Thanks for stopping by.. I promise to take pics next time... but this time my kitchen was sooo messy!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Got Gnats? - Safe Solution

I don't know why this works.. but it does.

Once the weather gets a bit warmer we seem to have little gnats and fruit flies near houseplants, fruits and veggies. To get rid of these pesky little fellas, try this chemical-free solution.

In a small glass dish, add a squirt of dish soap and add 2-3 T. of apple cider vinegar. Give it a bit of a stir and leave it out on your counter top near the little pests. You will be amazed at how many of these creatures you've collected by the next day.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Make Your Own Seasonings

I guarantee that these recipes for you to make at home will cost pennies compared to what you would pay at the grocers. Here's a few that I use all the time.

Paula Deen has been so generous to share her recipe for her house seasoning with all of her viewers. It's so easy to put together and so handy to have available. Since I like her method of cooking, especially comfort foods, I decided to try it. And, I haven't stopped trying it since. It's amazing just how this simple mixture brings great flavor to all of your cooking - everything from asparagus to zucchini.

Paula Deen's House Seasoning
1 c. salt
1/2 c. coarsely ground pepper
1/2 c. garlic powder

Mix together and store in an airtight container.

Here's another spice mixture we use at our house, Montreal Seasoning. It's simple to put together and is a great rub for sirloins, flank, london broil and other steaks. This will cost a fraction to make compared to the price you would pay at the store.

2 tbl. sweet Paprika
1 1/2 tbl. black pepper (I prefer coarsely ground)
3 tbl. salt (I prefer coarse kosher salt)
2 tbl. garlic powder
2 tbl. onion powder
1 1/2 tbl. ground coriander
2 tsp. Cayenne pepper

Combine all spices in a small bowl and stir to mix. Store mixture in an airtight jar.

And here's Bobby Flay's rendition of Espresso Rub. This is absolutely fantastic and you won't believe how much flavor it brings to a rib eye. You would never guess coffee was even involved as there's no coffee taste at all.

Bobby Flay's Espresso Rub

1/4 c. ancho chili powder
1/4 c. finely ground espresso (I prefer decaf if I can find it)

2 tbl. Spanish paprika
2 tbl. brown sugar

1 tbl. dry mustard

1 tbl. coarse kosher salt
1 tbl. ground black pepper
1 tbl. ground coriander
1 tbl. dried oregano
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. chili de arbol powder

You can see how Bobby Flay uses this rub to cook his steaks here. We absolutely love this. I hope you will try it and drop me a line to let me know your thoughts on this and these other seasoning mixes.

Welcome to my blog

Hi everyone! And, thanks for stopping by my newest blog. This blog will be dedicated to the more realistic part of daily life. Here you will find household hints, recipes and meals that won't break the bank, and lots of time-saving ideas.

I've been cooking since I was a child and my responsibility as the oldest was having dinner ready to go to the table once everyone arrived home. That's where I learned the basics. But every now and then I had to experiment. I was "Martha" before she became a household name. That's what my family calls me anyway....

I can't tell you how many times my younger siblings would complain to my Mom about the items I would conjure up. We were a family used to meatloaf, gravy, mashed potatoes, and green beans... great wholesome comfort food - you get the picture. That basic stuff was great.. but I wanted to 'create' a meal they wouldn't forget. I can recall presenting Duck L'Orange, iceburg lettuce wedges with Russian dressing, and tapioca with mandarin orange slices. They went ballistic and balked. Now, they clamor for my stuff and want the recipes. Imagine that!

I hope you will stop back often to see what I've whipped up. I'll also have some great links to share from some very talented cooks and bakers! See you then.

Cooking Tips

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