Posted by: meriambull | October 3, 2010

Culinary Adventures pt 2

Along with a craving for guacamole, I also had a hankering for roast chicken.  Now, I know that I frequently encourage purchasing a rotisserie chicken and using it for so many things, and I still do that.  But I love a good roasted chicken.  It just takes a really long time and is only worth the effort if it is cold outside since you are going to have your oven set at 400 degrees for almost two hours.  Today wasn’t quite cool enough, but it was close and I needed to get it done for the meals I had planned for the rest of the week.  It takes a while, but it is definitely worth it.

I do not recommend doing this in a crock pot.  While I don’t like roast beef any other way and roast pork is either or, roast chicken MUST be done in an oven.  That skin has to get crispy and it will not get there in a crock pot.  My favorite method is my Pampered Chef 9 x 13 baker with the lid/bowl.  Now don’t rush out and buy one.  A good roasting pan and sheet of heavy-duty foil will do the trick.  But I am a big fan of Pampered Chef stoneware.

In fact, this is actually started as a PC recipe.  I just changed it into my own because it called for ingredients that aren’t crucial and I don’t keep on a regular basis.  It is a continuation of the garlic theme from my previous post and this uses a lot of garlic.  But it is worth every single clove!

Garlic Roasted Chicken

1 roasting chicken*

2 whole heads of garlic, unpeeled

1/4 cup dried parsley

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Assorted dry herbs (Your favorites)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Slice off the top quarter of the garlic head.  (This is the root end, or the part that looks like hair.  This is not easy, just do your best and make sure the top part of each clove is cut off.) Separate the cloves and discard the papery skin but do not peel.  Set aside.

Remove and discard giblets and neck from  chicken.  Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Place ten cloves inside the cavity of the chicken.  Place the rest of the cloves in the bottom of a roasting pan.  Place the chicken, breast side down, on top of the garlic cloves.  (Breast side down means the wings should be on top and the legs on the bottom.  Remember biology class and look inside it to find the spine.  That goes on top.)  Place about 2 tbsp of the dried parsley in the cavity with the garlic cloves.

In a small bowl combine the remaining parsley, salt, pepper, and 1 tsp of whichever herbs you like the most.  I used crushed rosemary, basil, thyme, dill, and some herbal mixes I had in my pantry.  Rub this mix all over the skin of your chicken, don’t forget the breast side, too.

Cover with roaster lid or loosely with heavy-duty foil.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Carefully remove lid or foil, lifting away from you to avoid burns, and continue baking 15 or 30 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees.  (Stick it into the thigh or deep into the breast.  Just make sure it is a thick part of the meat, otherwise you will not get an accurate temperature.)  Remove from the oven, tent with foil, and let set for ten minutes before carving.

If desired, squeeze the garlic out of the peel and add some of it to mashed potatoes.  In my house mashed potatoes is a required side dish with roasted chicken.

*If raw chicken grosses you out and you gag at the mere thought of pulling the neck and giblets out of the cavity of the whole chicken, buy Perdue brand chicken.  They sell it at Kroger and the extra parts are conveniently placed in plastic bags for easy, low contact, removal.

Just a few more tips:  Many roast chicken recipes will tell you to tie the legs together with kitchen string.  I have never done this and have never had any problems.  If your mama taught you to do it that way, don’t dis the mama and truss up that bird.  But if you are new to cooking adventures, just leave that step out.

We only ate half of our chicken, but I’ve got big plans for the other half.  Monday night we’re having Florentine chicken noodle soup.  I even squeezed some of the extra roasted garlic in with the chicken when I was cleaning it off the bone.  I’m pretty excited about it!  It’s going to be cold next week.  You might want to pick up a chicken.

Posted by: meriambull | October 3, 2010

Culinary Adventures Part 1

Today my afternoon was spent in the kitchen.  Not really on purpose, just in response to some cravings.  Thursday night started as a slow night on TV and we ended up watching a PBS cooking show about Mexico.  The whole episode was about guacamole.  Guacamole, much to my husbands excitement, has become a new love of mine.  When I was young and immature I would not touch the stuff.  Ten years ago I learned to tolerate it in a desperate measure to endure a spicy dish when no sour cream was available.  I am definitely a guac snob, though.  I’ve found a few brands of store-bought guacamole that is acceptable, but the absolute best way to have this amazing dip is fresh, made from scratch.    Watching the show spurred a craving for home-made guac.  Lucky Ron!  The TV chef roasted his garlic.  Now I’ve found this is really easy, but I’m not sure it makes that big of a difference, so I’m not sure it’s worth the extra time to let it cool.

For you those of you who are new to fresh garlic a whole garlic is a head of garlic.  When you break that apart into all the little pieces, those pieces are the cloves.  The head is covered in a whole bunch of papery skin that peels away very easily, but never seems to end.  When you break the cloves free they are covered in a bit stiffer skin that peels off, with a little work.  There are tools with which you can cheat on the pealing part and I am sure they are wonderful, but I’m a bit cheap and I don’t think it’s that big of a deal to just do it by hand.  And I promise you, for some recipes using fresh garlic is oh, so worth the effort.

To roast the garlic break the head into cloves, discarding all the papery skin.  (But don’t peel the cloves.)  Now throw those cloves into a dry non-stick skillet and turn it onto medium.  Stirring frequently, but not constantly, let the garlic cook until it is dark brown, but not burnt, and soft.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  Gently squeeze cloves to extrude the warm, buttery soft garlic from inside.  So if you want to try that in your quac, go for it.  Roasting it softens the flavor so you would use a whole head for three avocados, but if you just want to mince it fresh, use about one per avocado.

I also tried Serrano chili peppers for the first time.  I was a little scared when I looked them up after I bought them.  Apparently they are hotter than jalapeno, which is what I usually use.  I used two, with some trepidation, but knew if it came out hot and spicy, Ron would be a happy camper so I went with it.  Ron thinks it would be better with three, but it did taste good.  Me, the wimpy one, had some tingly lips and tongue, but I didn’t drink three glasses of tea and I wasn’t compelled to let Ron have the rest.  If you have a food chopper or a mini-food processor, use it.  You definitely want these peppers chopped up small.  Also, the heat is in the seeds and the membranes (the white part).  I tried to scrape all of that out.  If I weren’t eating it and Ron were having a man party with all of his spicy food loving buddies I would have put everything in. Here is the recipe: (Please excuse the Mom moments.)

GUACOMOLE

1 head of garlic, roasted or 3 cloves, minced

1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped fine

juice from 1/2 lime

3 avocados

3 Roma tomatoes, diced

1 tbsp salt

2 or 3 Serrano chili peppers or 2 jalapenos (chopped fine, with or without seeds, depending on desired heat)

1 handful chopped fresh cilantro (if desired and if you remember get it at the store, which I did not)

Cut avocados in half with a sharp knife.  (The seed in the middle is huge.  Just slice in until the knife stops and then roll the fruit along the knife blade until you make a circle.  Then give each half a little twist and they will come a part.  Carefully, but firmly, smack the seed with the sharp edge of the knife so that the knife sticks in the seed.  Give a little twist and it will pop right out.  Carefully remove seed from the knife.  The seed is a little slimy.  Don’t cut yourself!)  With a metal serving spoon scoop out the pulp by running the spoon around the edge of the skin.  Place in a medium bowl.  Mash with a potato masher until desired consistency.  I like mine a little lumpy, but some people like it really smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.  Cover with plastic wrap by placing the plastic directly on the surface of the dip.  Avocados are like bananas and turn brown, except since they are green it is a very disgusting blackish brown.  Very harmless, but quite gross looking.  Refrigerate for about two hours before serving so the flavors can blend.  (We didn’t eat it for about four hours, but I wouldn’t try to make it the day before a party.  I’m not sure it would hold up very well without discoloring.)

If you are really tight on time, but find a great deal on some good avocados at Kroger they sell fresh pico de gallo by the prepared salads in produce.  It works pretty good for the onions, peppers, and tomatoes, but absolutely use the lime juice because the acid helps keep the avocado from turning brown, as well as some added flavor.

There you go!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  Stay tuned for my next adventure for the day: Garlic Roasted Chicken.



Posted by: meriambull | September 29, 2010

You Might Not Want to Eat This One, But Your Clothes Will Love It

Anyone who knows me very well knows that I despise laundry.  I mean hate it.  I hate treating stains. I hate lugging baskets up and down the stairs.  I hate folding it.  I DESPISE putting it away.  Do not get me started on sorting socks.  Let’s just say that the best part of summer is sandals and I have been known to be reduced to tears digging through baskets trying to find that elusive matching pair when we’re late.  Yup.  Laundry and I are definitely not friends. That’s what makes this post so surprising.

Last year I read a blog post and the writer was talking about making homemade laundry soap.  I thought they were nuts and it sounded like way too much trouble.  A few months later I read a post from another blogger and she gave a little more details about how easy it is and also how cheap it is.  She had me at cheap.  When I go to the grocery store for groceries I only use cash.  This keeps me from going over budget, but when I have to pick between buying food or laundry soap, food always wins so I am always buying cheap soap.  That means I don’t buy $10.00 detergent unless I have a killer coupon and Kroger is having a huge sale.  I figure I could try this homemade stuff and I won’t be out much and it has to be better than the cheap stuff I usually buy.

I just got my first load out of the dryer and I just have to say, “Oh, Wow!”  And making it was super duper easy! (I did cheat in one way, but it was oh, so worth it.)  I’m going to give you two recipes.  The first one is for liquid soap and the other is for a powder.  I usually buy liquid so that’s what I had planned to make, but I was desperate to do laundry tonight and the liquid has to sit 24 hours. I made the powdered and I’m pretty sure I will not be making the liquid.  It takes longer and seems to be easier to mess up and needs more tweaking.  My first load is done and it smells good, looks very clean, and seems softer.  (I don’t use any dryer sheets or fabric softener.  Too much trouble.)  What I am most excited about is my sons’ underwear is white!  If you have boys of early elementary age or younger you know what I am talking about.  It even seems like the old stains are coming out.  Love it!

I found many different recipes by doing a Google search, but all are basically the same.  I did find that this soap is excellent for front loading washers because it is extremely low suds.  Many people commented about how it worked great in their machines.  I was able to find all of the ingredients at Wal-Mart and Kroger.    On the internet there was some argument about the safety of the Fels-Naptha.  This was discounted, though, because the company reformulated the bar in the ’80s and it is now safe.  I cheated by using my food processor.  I worried a little about this, but many people said they did the shredding in theirs.  I am just going to wash it two or three times to make sure.

Here are the recipes:

Liquid Laundry Soap

1/3 bar Fels Naptha Soap (Ivory or Zote will also work.  Many commented using standard bath soap and getting good results.  I like the smell of the Fels Naptha and it is a stain treatment that your grandmother probably used.)

1/2 cup washing soda (found in laundry aisle.  NOT Arm and Hammer detergent and not baking soda)

1/2 cup borax powder (20 Mule Team brand)

2 gallons water

Grate the soap and put it in the sauce pan.  Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts.  Add the washing soda and the borax.  Stir until it is dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Pour 4 cups of water into a 2 gallon bucket.  Add soap mixture and stir.  Add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir.  Let the soap sit for about 24 hours until it gels.  (If it gels too solid just add more hot water.)  Use a 1/2 cup detergent per load of laundry.  Store in large bucket with lid, keeping a long wooden spoon with it to stir it with.  You may also put the gel in empty detergent bottles that have been rinsed well.  This may be easier since you have to stir or shake it before using it.

Homemade Powdered Laundry Soap

1 bar Fels Naptha (Or Ivory soap)

3/4 cup borax

3/4 cup washing soda

Grate one bar of Fels Naptha.  Add borax and washing soda.  Mix very well until soap has a powdered consistency.  This could take about five minutes.  Store in an air tight container.  Use 1-2 tbsp. per load.

I shredded the soap with the shredder blade on my food processor and then used the chopper blade to make it more fine.  I then added the borax and washing soda and processed it for a few seconds to mix it in well.  I think the whole process took less than 10 minutes and then I was ready to wash.

Another laundry tip I found was to use white vinegar as a fabric softener.  Just add 1/4 cup to a Downy ball or to your washer’s fabric softener dispenser.  Also suggested was a spray bottle of diluted liquid fabric softener.  Just spray a wash cloth a few times and then throw it in the dryer with the load.  I probably won’t do these, but if you use fabric softener or dryer sheets it might be worth the try.

Happy washing!

Posted by: meriambull | August 8, 2010

A Most Delicious Salad, That Can Also Be a Dip

Our busy summer if finally almost over!  For those of you who don’t know any youth ministers, or have any teenagers who are active in a youth group, summers are insane.  This summer Ron has taken two mission trips, worked one week of camp, taken Aiden to his first overnight at camp, spent one week in New York City, and left this afternoon for two nights in Cincinnati to visit King’s Island and the Creation Museum.  While he was doing all that Emily went with him for half the trips and also spent two weeks in a row at camp and is spending a few days in DC with my sister.  Basically we went for four straight weeks of not having all five of us in one place, and now two and a half weeks.  It’s a bit stressful for a mama.  But, thankfully it is almost over.  I haven’t done a whole lot of cooking, except some comfort food for the short time Ron comes home in between weeks of a lot of fast food or camp food, so I haven’t been  very creative.  Last week we had a church picnic and my friend, Tammy brought this fabulous dish.  Now, I will be the first to admit that I normally shy away from a salad with black beans, corn, and onions in it, but for some reason I was intrigued.  Probably because of the tomato and the big green chunks of avocado.  Anyway, I am now hopelessly addicted to it’s lovely scrumptiousness.  She used fresh corn on the cob, since it was in season, instead of frozen and it was soooooo good.

Corn and Black Bean Salad


Start to Finish:1 hr 15 min
makes:8 servings (1/2 cup each)

8 oz frozen sweet corn (1 3/4 cups)
2 cans (14.5 oz each)  plain or fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup canned black beans, drained, rinsed
1/4 cup chopped red onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea salt)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and chopped
1. Cook corn as directed on bag. Rinse with cold water; drain.
2. Stir together corn and remaining ingredients except avocado. Refrigerate until ready to serve, at least 1 hour.
3. Stir in avocado just before serving.

I like it on tortilla chips or Doritos has a flavor out right now that is sour cream and some other Mexican flavor that is really yummy but I forgot what it was.
Enjoy!

Okay, that doesn’t exactly make you want to run to the kitchen, does it?  Well, today I made dinner at the church after our family service, CAFE.  We’ve started having CAFE right after Sunday morning services, which works out great, but I was trying really hard to have a meal that I could get ready in an hour and a half so I could go to the first service.  So we had baked ham, homemade macaroni and cheese, green beans, and Mamaw’s Red Hot applesauce.  Oh, and Sister Schubert’s rolls, because they have become a church staple.  We had a huge crowd and we were worried about having enough food so we served it, which meant I could make sure my kids got what I wanted them to have.  When I got my food and sat down with Aiden he had not eaten any of his mac and cheese, which he tried to skip in the line.  I told him he couldn’t eat any of his pudding until he finished his food, because I’m a mean mom like that.  He took two big bites of his macaroni and cheese, turned to me and says, “Mom, that is the weirdest macaroni and cheese I have ever tasted!”  Well, they certainly do keep me humble.

Needless to say, while my children were unimpressed, everyone else insisted I post this recipe.  So since it’s been a few months, as my brother has pointed out, and I was just inspired by the movie Julie and Julia, I guess I should post something.  I actually got this recipe from the Taste of Home Cookbook.  I didn’t change much, other than multiplying the recipe times 17 to serve 100, but I’ll just put the basic recipe that serves 6 here for you.  (If you happen to be serving 100 add a comment and I’ll help you out.  It was fairly easy to make a lot.)

Mom’s Macaroni and Cheese – thanks to Maria Costello of Monroe, North Carolina

1 1/2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni

5 tbsp. butter, divided

3 tbsp. all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 1/2 cup milk

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 ounces process cheese, Velveeta, cubed

2 tbsp dry bread crumbs (I used Italian seasoned bread crumbs)

Cook macaroni according to package directions.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan, melt 4 tbsp butter over medium heat.  Stir in flour, salt, and pepper until smooth.  Gradually add milk.

Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Reduce heat.  Add the cheeses, stirring until the cheese is melted.  Drain macaroni.

Transfer macaroni to a greased 1 1/2 quart baking dish.  Pour cheese sauce over macaroni; mix well.  Melt the remaining butter; add the bread crumbs.  Sprinkle over top.

Bake, uncovered at 375* for 30 minutes or until heated through and topping is golden brown.

And there you have it.  It may look threatening if you are a beginner, but it really isn’t.  Ron and Tammy, who were assembling the dish while I was slicing ham, were afraid there was too much cheese sauce at first, but after baking for 15 minutes the sauce was thickening more and absorbing into the pasta so we added the rest of the cheese sauce.  It was very yummy!  Ron was glad it wasn’t like the school cafeteria mac and cheese of his youth, which was boiled pasta with shredded cheddar melted on top.

Hope your kids like it better than mine did.  It’s my own fault for relying on the box a bit too much.

Posted by: meriambull | October 9, 2009

Fruit Salads for Busy People

Two of my friends asked me for these two fruit salad recipes.  They are actually from two other friends who are amazing cooks.  They are both versions of a salad that is a signature dish from a tea room here in the Knoxville area.   I make them a lot when we have company or for a retreat breakfast or brunch because it can be made the day before.  For Ron it is a must have with ham or pancakes.  So if there are leftovers from one night then I know I have to make pancakes the next morning.  When we go over menus before retreats he even makes sure that is how things work out for him.  It is also great with plain or vanilla yogurt and granola.

Keep these ingredients in your pantry and freezer.  They are perfect for taking to a sick friend or a potluck.

Tea Room Salad version #1

1 can peach pie filling

1 can pineapple chunks, well drained

1  small container frozen sliced strawberries in syrup, thawed

Combine well and serve either chilled or at room temperature, but store it in the refrigerator.

Tea Room Salad Version #2

1 large can peaches in lite syrup, drained

1 small can pineapple tidbits, undrained

1 container frozen, sliced strawberries in syrup, thawed

1 small box vanilla pudding

2 tbsp. Tang drink powder

Combine fruit and sprinkle pudding mix and Tang over the top.  Stir and let sit for about thirty minutes for the pudding and Tang to dissolve.

I like the second version the best, but will never turn down the first one.

By the way – Ron, the kids, and I are getting ready to take a two month sabbatical for some much needed rest and renewal.  We are taking our motorhome and taking a grand tour of the west.  We started a new blog for our friends and family to keep up with where we are and what we are doing.  The address is www.roamingbulls.wordpress.com and we would love to have you follow along!

Posted by: meriambull | June 16, 2009

Cucumber Mania

I had lunch with some friends today and we were talking about pickles and growing cucumbers and I told them I had some recipes they might like, so I thought I would share them with everyone.  It has been a while.

With the popularity of gardening growing I’m sure many of you are about to have an abundance of cucumbers.  Sometimes those little plants produce like crazy!  I can’t grow anything because of my chronic black thumb, but someone always has a basket full of cucumbers and zucchini at church in July and August.  Or they are just cheap.

The first recipe is for freezer pickles.  I don’t have the equipment to can pickles and I am afraid of pressure canners, so I have never tried to make traditional pickles.  But one of my friends had homemade freezer pickles once at a ladies’ luncheon and they are very good and sooo worth trying.  I’ve also served them as a salad with tomato chunks in them.  Yum!

Sweet Freezer Chips (Pickles)

1 medium white onion

2 1/2 lb. cucumbers; about 5 medium, unpeeled, sliced 1/8″ thick (I slice them on the thickest setting of my food processor.)

2 tbsp. salt

2 quarts ice cubes

4 cups sugar

2 cups cider vinegar

Thinly slice onion and separate rings.  Mix cucumber slices and onion slices with salt in large bowl.  Cover mixture with ice cubes and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.  Drain off water and discard unmelted ice cubes.  DO NOT RINSE!  Pack cucumber and onion slices in freezer containers, filling to within 1 1/2 ” of top.  In 2 quart pan combine sugar and vinegar.  Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Pour just enough hot syrup over cucumber and onion slices to cover.  Place lids on containers.  Cool, then freeze for at least one week.  To thaw, place container in the refrigerator for at least eight hours.

Makes 3 pints.

This cucumber salad is similar to the creamy cucumber salad at Petro’s.  Nothing says summer quite like it.

Creamy Cucumber Salad

4 large cucumbers, sliced very thin

1 tsp. salt

2 cloves garlic, minced

dash black pepper

2 tbsp. white vinegar

2 tbsp sugar

1/2 pint sour cream

Put salt on cucumbers in a bowl and let stand 1/2 hour.  Add garlic, pepper, vinegar, sugar, and mix well.  If it tastes flat add a little more vinegar.  Too vinegary?  Add more sugar.  Add sour cream and mix well.

Enjoy!

Posted by: meriambull | April 19, 2009

Before Jason Gets Mad

My friend Jason was talking smack the other day on his blog about people ignoring their blogs and not writing enough.  Well, I’m sure this post is not fast enough for him, but cut me some slack.  I’ve got three kids for Pete’s sake.  And for what it’s worth I have a Facebook page but I do not Twitter.  I just figured out Facebook.

Anyway, our elementry kids at church are traveling around the world on Wednesday nights learning about the different countries where we have missionaries.  Their final night in each country we give them a chance to try some of the food that is traditionally eaten in that country.  Two weeks ago they finished up Ghana, West Africa, which is not the easiest country to find food from.  At least with Mexico and China there is a restaurant and grocery on every other corner.  A friend sent me a link to this website: www.foodbycountry.com which gives easy recipes for a lot of countries around the world.  We had Jollof Rice, bread balls, and fried sweet plantains.  I was surprised that the kids loved it!  It is surreal when a nine year old asks you for a recipe.  It was also super easy.  Here it is:

Jollof Rice

Ingredients

  • 1¼ cups white rice
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 can (6-ounce) tomato paste
  • 3 cups chicken broth

Procedure

  1. In a saucepan sauté rice and onion in oil.
  2. Cover and cook until onion is translucent and soft.
  3. Cut chicken into ½-inch cubes and add to sauté mixture.
  4. Mix in tomato paste and then broth.
  5. Bring mixture to a boil.
  6. Cover pan and reduce heat to low.
  7. Cook until rice is tender, liquid is absorbed, and chicken is cooked, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Makes 8 servings.

I did add some garlic, salt, and Italian herbs, because they were handy.  You could probably add whatever you are in the mood for.  I returned the cookbook where I found the bread balls recipe to the library before I wrote it down but I will get it if anybody really wants it and my kids remind me.  They were good, but a lot of messy work that I’m not sure I want to repeat.  Besides, I’d rather just make a Krispy Kreme run if I wanted some deep fried dough.

For the sweet plantains, if you would like to try them, at Kroger in the produce section look for the funny looking large green bananas.  With them there may be some yellow versions.  (Or you can buy a green one and wait for it to turn yellow.  Peel them and you will find a hard banana.  Slice into inch thick slices and fry in hot oil until golden.  They are similar to a sweet potato.  In fact the green ones are often prepared like a white potato.  Plantains are a staple in many countries.  I learned how to make them from my sister’s mother-in-law who is Colombian.

Posted by: meriambull | April 3, 2009

Planning Ahead

Many years ago a book came out that was full of recipes of how to cook for an entire month in one day.  At the time we only had Emily and I thought it would be a good thing for us since we were so busy with church stuff.   Yeah.  So, I tried it once.  It was a trend that worked for some but did not work for others.  What did not work for me was the recipes that I thought my family would like weren’t so hot or they all just seemed to be the same.  Most of all they did not work because the expensive ingredients, mostly the meats, weren’t always on a good sale the week I needed to cook. Fast forward to today and I still haven’t mastered the program.  (I’m not always the sharpest crayon in the box.)  But I am trying.  What does work for  is to do partial meals.  Pre chop the meat and put it in a marinade, pre cook the meat and have it in recipe size portions, etc.  I haven’t done it much lately, but as summer is getting started and we are getting busier, now is a good time to start again.  Here is the plan I am following for this month, not including any recipes.

A few weeks ago a friend told me about a place here in town where you can get boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.60 a pound.  The catch is you have to buy forty pounds at a time.  Now pick your jaw up off the floor and I will tell you how to make this work.  First of all I did not buy forty pounds of chicken.  Well, I did, but then one friend took ten pounds of it and another friend took twenty.  (She is more ambitious and organized.)  I also bought a ten pound roll of ground chuck for $1.79 a pound, just for some variety in our meal planning.  By splitting up the chicken that makes it very much more manageable.  Now that I have put away ten pounds of chicken, though, I might just do twenty next time.

First,  I made a list of the meals I thought we might have and picked out some new recipes and then wrote down how much chicken I needed for each and how it needed to be prepared.  For two of the dishes it was just a matter of cutting them into strips or chunks and then pouring a marinade over all.  For two others it was cutting them into chunks for homemade nuggets and serving sized pieces for a baked dish.  The chicken breasts are jumbo sized and just huge so out of one breast i was able to get three serving pieces.  The rest I put in my crockpot to cook through and then I will chop that up and put it into two cup portions for casseroles.  It’s still cooking so I’m not sure how much there will be, but I think I will have enough for eight to ten meals out of a ten pound bag of chicken.  And it took me less then an hour to cut up all that chicken and start the crock pot.

For the hamburger roll I am going to make some mini meatloaves, a few hamburgers, some Salisberry steaks, and cook the rest and freeze in two cup portions for casseroles.   One pound of cooked hamburger is two pounds.  This should be enough for another eight meals and that will take care of the month of April for me.  Plus I did not spend so much out of our food budget that I don’t feel like I can’t get enough food for breakfasts and lunches, plus a roast if one is on sale.

If you are worried about having the freezer space, don’t be.  I store everything in Ziploc Freezer Bags (do not go generic on this) and squeeze all the air out and flatten.  Make sure they lay flat while freezing and they won’t take up as much room in the freezer AND (most important) they will not take as long to thaw.  The Press and Seal Wrap is also great for burgers and such.  By wrapping them all individually it helps me  to only get out what I need, especially for when Ron and Emily are at camp or on a retreat.

Well, hopefully that will help you out some.  I will try to post some of the recipes I’m using as we go through the month.  Plus my friend Jason says I am a blogging slacker and I’m tired of his whining.  (Just kidding, Jason.)  If you live in the Knoxville area and want to know more about my chicken place send me an email or Facebook me and I will give you the information.

Posted by: meriambull | March 26, 2009

Wow! Two in One Day! That’s Crazy!

Yup, I’ve got another recipe. I made bread pudding in my crock pot tonight and one of my friends begged me to post it ASAP. I don’t have any work tonight and am not terribly distracted so I actually remembered.

When I was growing up my grandmother and grandfather always wanted to go to buffet restaurants. Have you ever been to a buffet that did not have bread pudding? I’m pretty sure that is the only reason my grandmother wanted to go there. Oddly it’s one of the few desserts I don’t remember her making. So, anyway, while growing up I would not touch bread pudding with a ten foot pole. That was old people food! So a few years ago (pre-Katrina) our youth group went to New Orleans on a mission trip. We ate at a fabulous restaurant called the Gumbo Shop and Ron wanted the bread pudding. So I said I’d split it with him and discovered how insanely wrong I had been. Bread pudding is the ultimate comfort food.

While cleaning out the recipe file I mentioned in the previous post I found this recipe which I thought would be good for church tonight. Well, I did not make enough. Of course it was a little light on the dessert table tonight. Next time I’ll use my big crock pot and double it because I sure don’t mind bringing home some leftovers!

Raisin Bread Pudding

6 cups bread cubes (basically a 4 quart crock pot needs to be half full)
4 eggs
2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/4 cup raisins
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Sauce:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Place bread cubes in a greased slow cooker. In a bowl beat eggs and milk. Stir in sugar, butter, raisins, and cinnamon. Pour over bread and stir well. Cover and cook on high for one hour. Reduce heat to low and cook for three to four more hours, or until a thermometer reads 160 degrees.

Before serving combine the sauce ingredients well with a fork and serve on the side with the bread pudding.

Hope you find it as yummy as I did!

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