Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Raiding the snack bin

That was me last night! I raided the kid's snack bin. I'll get to that in a second; but to start my story off, I bought some thin pork chops that were on special and didn't really know what to do with them. I don't have a huge amount of experience with pork chops, especially the bone in variety.

When I do buy bone in pork chops I usually get a thicker cut which seems to act like a buffer in my mind to help me over that fear of over cooking and creating dry and chewy disks of pork. This time I took the plunge and got some thin chops.

So then, I had to determine how to cook the little buggers. I thought I'd throw a little Indian spice rub along with some sweet textures. I rubbed the pork chops with a mixture of Garam Masala, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper and paprika. I then seared them on both sides in my grill pan for about 3-4 minutes per side and put them in the oven at 350 for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small pan I combined some goodies that I raided from the kid's snack bin. Raisins, chopped up some dried apricots, a tub of diced peaches with the juice, a tub of diced pears with the juice and some apple juice. I let that reduce and then added some Disaronno Amaretto and reduced again until thick.

Let me clarify that the Disaronno Amaretto did not come from the kids snack bin. That came from mom's snack bin. Ha!
The side dish consisted of some left over herbed brown rice from the night before (cooked brown rice tossed with roasted pecans, fresh basil, cilantro and oregano, salt, pepper & olive oil) tossed with some chopped spinach. I warmed the rice until nice and hot then tossed the spinach enough to wilt while adding a little sherry vinaigrette.

It turned out quite flavorful and I was happy they came out still tender. After all of that, we all enjoyed the spinach concoction the best. The easiest thing I threw together.

Funny how things work sometimes.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Best way to save

It's summer, and for us summer equals a tighter budget. With Bella being in summer camp all day the daycare bills rises until school is back. That along with the more food we have to purchase to keep those lunch boxes full. It's also apparent they are eating more as they grow. Hello?! I realize that of course. But these two can be like little hoover vacuums just sucking up all the grub! Sometimes they clean me out before the weekend is over.

Seems to me that food prices are growing right along with the kids. There are some things they eat often that I just don't have the time to make myself. So I get the most unprocessed version I can find. They love Cheerios, breakfast fruit bars, yogurt, cheese, etc. I don't have the time or the resources to make those by hand. I am working on a fruit bar recipe though, that I may be able to finagle.

There are other things we can make ourselves to save money. That's other foods and art for the house. We decided for Kris's room to provide the art to decorate ourselves. Much cheaper than buying store pictures or paintings and they mean much more.
Kris practicing on his painting skills. I can't believe I didn't put apron on him!
Bella has been painting dinosaurs for her brother's room. She also has a really cool stitched dinosaur she made for him. I'll have to get that on here for you to see. It truly is very beautiful.

In my absence from my blog, I have still been cooking. Maybe not as inventively. A lot of repeat recipes or just sandwiches in an attempt to get dinner down before every one's bedtime. I found because of my busy schedule that I didn't have the energy to even make my grocery list or keep track of coupons. Going to the store with no plan for battle or help from coupons results in a higher bill, products picked up that we already had or missing important items and having to go back later to spend more.

I realize that I must make the time and effort to work on the groceries and making as much as I can from scratch and as simple as it can be. I've been straying farther and farther from those complicating recipes as I realize quality of ingredient is more important than tons of semi good ingredients that take forever to complete a meal. It's also a matter of training the pallet to taste and recognize all the flavors that those simple ingredients have and appreciate them for what they are. Like broccoli without the cheez whiz.

It's better on the budget when you make it yourself. Make extra and take it to work for lunch. Pizza is easy. With a little flour, patience and your imagination, you can make your own pie for a fraction of what you pay from a pizza shop. It also helps when the pizza shops around you don't really make very good pies.
The kid's cheese pizza. Bella rolled it and topped it herself.
You've seen this one before. Chris requests the goat cheese, caramelized onion, mushroom and garlic pizza every time.
My pie had no cheese. Just asparagus, peppers, onions, kalamata olives, little ham and some sliced boiled eggs.

Hot hot Florida and a lovely visit.

I can't say we are the only ones this summer. The entire country has been hit with record high temperatures. Global warming anyone? For us, it has been down right miserable. You can't be out for long and with our high humidity, it makes it even more unbearable.

This weekend we had a lovely visit from one of my cousins from Malta. Christine and Paul are on their honeymoon and came by for a day to visit and have some dinner. It was so nice to see her and meet her new husband. They are such a beautiful couple and so very nice. We hope they enjoyed their time and know they are loving their vacation.

We had more than one camera going at it. I wish they could have stayed longer. But they are on their honeymoon after all! Have a safe rest of your trip. We will miss you and hope to see you again soon, in Malta.

We had a great dinner and chatted by the pool while the kids swam. We all found ourselves back inside from the heat though. If you weren't in the pool, it wasn't so nice outside, even in the shade.

Sunday we finished up on chores and then took the afternoon off to cool off in the pool. Our kids love the pool. Without it, we wouldn't be outside much this time of the year. Bella's lessons at the college pool have really paid off. She's an underwater fish now and her favorite thing is...
to be thrown up as far as dad can get her. Getting ready. One...two...
three...

splash!!!
Kris took to the water really soon. He puts on his wings and just jumps right in. We of course are right there beside him always and know he will be without those wings very soon.
After a day of playing, running and swimming it's time to crash for a while.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Where am I?

Holy mackerel Bat Man! I have been without a post here for over a month. Most of you may have dropped me by now and moved on to other more reliable blogs. If so, I'll miss you. If you hung in there, I still miss you. That is absolutely ridiculous and I apologize to all for the suspension. I hate to say this yet again, but my work and daily riff raff has taken me away from my beloved blog yet again. Finding the time and energy to update and post has been almost impossible it seems. I mean, you can tell right, it's been over a month!

Let's just say that I'm thankful for the job security I have right now in this down economy. I'm not too pleased with my work load however. I hope to some day be compensated for doing the job of three and a half people. It would be nice if I got paid three and a half salaries. Dude, that would rock! Let me pinch myself now and come back down to reality.

Other than my work load, I have been busy at home. The last month of school was full of homework, test preps, then the months of April, May and June there seemed to be endless birthdays, Mother's Day and Father's Day. All things I should have blogged about, but I didn't find the time.

I still love to cook and I still love to write. I'm back on here trying to get my feet back on my sanity schedule. Besides, I'm sure you're wanting to see what my kiddos have been up to. I'll get them on here soon.

Meanwhile, I have a couple of yummy entrees here. First I have my first attempt at a red curry sauce with veg over rice. I used the whole bottle of red curry with some coconut milk and some sauteed veg. The sauce I had gotten seemed too weak for me to just use the recommended tablespoon. I used the whole jar! It was the Williams Sonoma brand at twelve bucks! I found a more reasonable brand at a much cheaper price to use next time.
It was really delicious.
Some of my garden tomatoes with goat cheese, basil, salt, pepper and olive oil. Nothing beats home grown tomatoes.
Our latest project was removing the crappy light cheapo carpet and putting down the laminate flooring. The kids love it and we love it to. Looks so much better, easier to keep clean and I'm sure better on the allergies. The kid's rooms will keep their carpet and we will change out our bedroom when we pay this project off.

Again, many apologies for the delay. I'll be getting more pictures on here very soon. Also some pictures from a club I'm in called the Facebook Foodie Club. We're having such a blast!