No Bowl Needed

Well, it’s happened. I’ve come to the end of my own clever ideas. At least for now. Thankfully I have clever friends who say and do blog-able things

This is Rachael.

Her abilities are too numerous to even begin to cover, but I’ll try. She cooks, crochets, sews faster than people on Project Runway and manages to raise kids and take care of other people’s too.

Today, however, we celebrate her teaching me how to turn a bag of chips into a self-standing bowl that keeps chips on the brim. No more hands digging in the bottom.

The play by play…

Yep, she seriously folded in the bottom corners and tucked in the bottom of the bag, continuing to roll it inside until the chips are on top and the bottom is so flat it stands up.

My brilliant friend doesn’t take credit, she said she got it from somewhere, but I got it from her and now so did you!

Advertisements

A Walk in the Park

Last year we would return from picking up my daughter from school, and I made her sit at the kitchen table and immediately get homework done. In order for her to sit I would keep feeding her. Not only did this mean she ate two suppers, she also hated homework. She had no time to play.

This year I told her we were going to explore all of the parks (playgrounds) in our area. We’ve driven even 10 minutes to get to some of these parks, but that’s not so bad. Both of my kids play for 20-30 minutes and then we head home. Being me, I’ve kept a list of what parks we have visited and what dates.

We look forward to it every afternoon. I get to watch them while getting steps. I call it “Park Circling” in my head, well, now I’ve typed it and you can make fun of me for it.

My birthday present from my folks was a Garmin Vivofit. (Think FitBit). I set my watch for “walk” when we arrive at the playground then I just keep moving. Usually it looks a lot like laps. But I ran track in high school, so walking in a circle isn’t that bad. I usually walk the border of whatever playground we are on, staying on the soft fall-able ground cover. It’s better on my knees than a sidewalk. In 20 minutes at a park I can walk over a little over a mile. I keep moving unless my kids need assistance, but I’m usually able to keep a steady pace even while watching the kids.

How about you? How do you get in exercise in creative ways?

Putting it Off continued…

I didn’t make it to Wednesday. Running out of milk and stuff for making lunch won the day, but I only bought what I had to buy. You know, a house without chocolate chips is a house that can’t make chocolate chip pancakes. Sunday night I made a very quick Aldi run and spent less than $12 to stretch us hopefully to September first.

How is your grocery dare making it?

Putting Off ‘Til Tomorrow…

Keeping track of the grocery list as I run out of things is helpful. As soon as I use the last of the olive oil, it’s on my list. The Parchment paper, the Parmesan, the milk, the pickles (my kids can eat a jar every couple of days). Staples really.

But, today I’m putting off the list. I am daring myself to go as long as possible without going to the store. We are out of eggs, but I’ve got lots of frozen egg whites (I make frozen custard) that will do for many recipes. I bought a family size amount of ground beef that I portioned and froze in 8 oz, so we should be fine. Milk may be a problem, but we’ll see. I last went to the store on Monday, I’m trying to make it to next Wednesday or beyond.

How about you? Want to dare yourself to go as long as possible to make what you have before eating out or grocery shopping?

Lasagna for Two

Lasagna is delicious, but it can be expensive and then there's lots of leftovers. It reheats great, but what if you don't really want to eat 12 servings of lasagna.

I wanted to make just enough for my husband and me. I bring him dinner on most Wednesday nights at work, and this is perfect to make and take. Also, I usually have all of these ingredients when I make pizza or spaghetti.


No boil noodles are great. My sauce is this easy arrabiata, so it has kick. I only had about 1 cup left. Perfect for two. I cooked a small amount of ground turkey with Italian sausage seasoning. I like provolone as well as mozzarella. And I make it all in a bread loaf pan.

Usually I would mix my meat and sauce in a bowl, but why make a new dish.

I mixed 1 cup of cottage cheese, 1 egg, 1/2 t Italian seasoning and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

I grated 2 ounces each of provolone and mozzarella and tossed it right on the cutting board with a little more Parmesan.

All it takes is three noodles, and I snap 1/3 of the length off each to fit in my pan. Waste not, the pieces equal a fourth noodle.

After spraying the loaf pan I add 1/4 of the sauce.

Then a noodle and cottage cheese mix then grated cheese then sauce.

Repeat for three layers. (Noodle, cottage, cheese, sauce, noodle, cottage, cheese, sauce, noodle)

Top with the last of the sauce and more grated cheese. Spray some foil so it will come off the cheese. Tightly wrap the pan.

Place it in a 350 degree oven for thirty minutes. Rotate it half way if you think if it.

After 30 minutes remove the foil. Bake or broil for 15 minutes or until the top cheese is melted and a little browned. Watch it! Don't burn it. And just like kids, every oven is different.

Remove it to cool and let it rest. Please please rest your lasagna. It is more likely to cut if you let it cool down. Leftover lasagna is the proof.

Cut in half and serve!

Just the Recipe…

Makes 2 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 c marinara or pasta sauce
  • 4 oz cooked ground meat (preferably with Italian seasoning)
  • 1 c cottage cheese, or ricotta, or sour cream. It really does work too.
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 c grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1/2 t Italian seasoning
  • 4 oz grated cheese, mozzarella and provolone, or whatever you like
  • 3 no boil lasagna noodles, 1/3 snapped off and reserved
  • Non stick spray

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Spray a loaf pan with non stick spray.
  • Mix meat and sauce, set aside.
  • Mix cottage cheese, egg, 1/2 c Parmesan, and Italian seasoning, set aside.
  • Grate cheese and toss with remaining 1/4 c Parmesan. Set aside.
  • Spread 1/4 c sauce in pan. *Place one snapped noodle on top. Spread 1/3 cottage cheese mixture then 1/4 grated cheese then 1/4 c sauce. Repeat twice from *
  • Top with final noodle or the combined 3 snapped noodle, last 1/4 c sauce and 1/4 of the grated cheese. Wrap tightly with aluminum foil that has been sprayed with non stick spray. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through cooking.
  • Remove foil carefully and broil on high for 5-10 minutes, or continue baking for 15, or until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown. Check often.
  • Remove and let rest on a cooking rack for 15 minutes. Cut and serve.

Ode to a Funnel

I feel like the funnel, more than any other simple tool, embodies “manageable mess.” A funnel’s mission is to take a larger amount of anything and put it in a smaller, compact, or just more fitting space and to do all that with less work and less mess than manually spooning. 

Canning seems to be on the rise. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like canning is cool again. Mason jars are everywhere and now grocery stores are carrying canning accessories and ingredients in a bigger way than years’ past. Side effect of the Great Recession?  

I have seen these canning funnels in many places, but I bought mine at Menards. I think it was around $2. I use it daily. I shake salad dressing in small jars, and I store leftovers in glass jars more often. 


I wondered if it could solve a problem for me. My kids’ water bottles’ opening is small enough that my ice dispenser misses 9 times out of ten. 


My funnel doesn’t fit into the narrow mouth, but fits fairly snug over the top. Now the ice goes around and down. Like a great basketball shot. 



Funnels are the best, and this may be the best funnel. 
Happy mess managing!

Caramelizing Onions (Slice, Cry, Stir, Stir, Stir)

Aldi had 3 lb bags of vidalia onions for 79 cents. I bought three and caramelized 2 1/2 of them. 

This is my work station…

I use a mandolin, but I’ve done it with a knife too. I’ve done it with a food processor, but I like my slices more controlled than it makes them. 

This is my bowl full of peels for the compost pile…


This is my face in agony…


It was awful. I lit candles. I chewed gum.  Like three pieces. That helped a little. 

I filled a pot…


I divided the pot…


All it takes is about 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and tons of onions and some salt. I used kosher. And time. Like an hour… after you slice them all. 

Cook stirring frequently on medium high until they’re soft and starting to brown. (About 20 minutes)


Reduce heat to medium. Add 2 teaspoons of sugar to each batch and stir almost continuously for 30-40 minutes (yep) until onions reduce to a jam like consistency (and your face has an onion facial.)


After this point I was able to put it in one pot to get dark. An enameled Dutch oven promotes browning better than nonstick and a light pan helps you judge color better than a dark pan. 

Jam like…



Made 3 cups. That’s a lot of work for such a tiny yield, but this keeps in a fridge a long time. 


I use my onions on hot dogs and sausages. 

I add a good amount to broth for instant French onion soup. I stir it into my mixture for quiche for the BEST quiche you’ve ever had. 

How about you?  What’s a labor intensive recipe you make that’s totally worth it?