Posts tagged ‘better homes and gardens’

The Search For Allergy Friendly Foods

Over the course of the past few months, my boyfriend and I have been weeding out foods that aren’t working for us. We both seem to have food allergies, and without going and getting tested for the whole kit and caboodle, we’ve simply kept track of what we eat and how we feel afterwards.

We’ve narrowed out the following foods, much to my chagrin:

  • Beef
  • Processed ham, possibly all pork
  • Cheese
  • Pea’s (Ask my mother, I’ve been “claiming” to be allergic to pea’s since I visited my grandmother at 6 years old)

While this may not seem to be a lot, it was still a bit of a lifestyle change as beef and pork are two of the cheaper meats, and the ones I grew up with as a child. Almost every year, my family would purchase a quarter of a cow, and we would receive a large package of a variety of cuts of meat. This was common for our area, as in the heart of farm country; butchers featured fantastic prices on beef due to its abundance.

So, as much as I love the Better Homes and Garden’s Budget Cook Book, I was running out of recipes for Chicken and Fish, and decided to branch out. I picked up the Cheap. Fast. Good! Cook book by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross.

This book has a ton of great tips and recipes, my next meal plan features all of their recipes and although we haven’t had many yet, what I have tried is quite tasty.

Those who can’t do….get take out

So, I am bad for getting consumed in one aspect of my life and not focusing on all of the others. It’s times like this I find we eat out, or badly more often….of course this is usually the time we can least afford it. I know there are things I can do to make dinner easier, but that usually involves an initial sacrifice to the Time Gods, which easily enables me to procrastinate.

However, today I took the time to make that sacrifice, and I’m sure tomorrow I will be grateful.

On today’s menu was Chicken Alfredo Pot Pie on page 200. I’ve now made this pie twice, once right after my last post, and then again today. Both times I doubled the recipe prepared to make two pies. However I realized that the Pillsbury pie crust I purchased may say 2, however that means the bottom and top of one pie.

Having the bottom and top on this particular pie makes it a breeze to put onto plates. Using the ready-made pastry is easy and stress free, which is nice because I’m usually so worked up by the prospect of overworking the dough, that I overwork the dough.

I opted for the Classico Roasted Red pepper Alfredo, much to my families delight, it was a bold flavour that worked well with the Sage. However I did add the McCormick’s garlic and herb seasoning to the Chicken as it was cooking. The only other change that I made was to add fresh garlic and diced onions to the chicken as it was cooking. Personally, if I have onions, I through them in.

The end result was a hearty, veggie filled pie that we all loved. Carrots, broccoli and cauliflower were a nice change from the standard meat pie veggies like peas and corn. The pie took all of 20 minutes to make and 12 minutes to cook, couple this with an extra for the freezer, or my parents and you have my new favourite save-time-during-the-week-dinner.

So for all of you busy ladies and gents out there who greet hump-day with a bag of McDonald’s, try putting this gem in your freezer and let me know how it works for you!

**Note, believe it or not, I did take photos…..however I must remember to delete old photo’s off or it won’t save the ones I take…(Slaps forehead with the palm of her hand)**

A little spice making pork oh-so nice

Tex-Mex Pork and Corn Soup

There is something therapeutic in cooking for me. Perhaps its the 1950’s housewife in me, or just my overwhelming urge to feed people. Saturday was no different for me. This is one of my big cooking days, although it was not as big as others, it was quite productive and satisfying in the end.

On the table for this night was the Tex-Mex Pork and Corn Soup found on page . I really enjoyed this soup, not only eating it, but learning to make it. Although, as would be expected I changed it little, it was fun, easy and a new way to serve up pork. The more that I try to steer away from red meat’s, I find myself grateful for soups that allow me to prepare for the week ahead and it’s lunches.

To accompany our soup, I made one of my all time favourites from childhood, Corn Meal Muffins. I pulled a recipe off the internet, however I was not happy with it. So I will not share it with you today and while I continue looking for one that I like, please feel free to send me your recipes, should you wish to share.

Now the recipe called for Pork Tenderloin, however I’m sure it’s no surprise by now that I bought a pork roast that fit into my budget. This took longer to cut up, as there was more fat than would be on tenderloin (I believe it’s said to be the leanest cut of pork), however it really paid off. I managed to put aside the fatty bits to spice up my dog’s dinner for a few days, and the pork pieces were moist and lovely.

While the recipe didn’t call for any spices on the meat, which you cook up first, I chose to add a little of the No-salt McCormick Garlic and Herb Seasoning that I have as a staple in my kitchen. Then once those were cooked, I took the onion, corn (they said frozen, I used a can) , added frozen carrots that were nearing freezer burn, and tossed them together with two cloves of garlic diced. The smell was heavenly.

The recipe called for 14 oz of chicken broth. I had one of those tetra packs of Campbell chicken broth so I poured that and one 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes with spices together in a pot. The recipe only calls for a tomato or two, however I thought this could help me stretch a meal that served 5 into at least 8, and I seem to have succeeded.

In order to keep the Tex-Mex feel and not end up with a tomato soup, I added double the amount of salsa, and twice as much Cilantro. The end result was a rich, full-bodied soup that was filling, colourful and a perfect complement to the corn meal muffins.

****Tip of the day: Did you know that Coriander and Cilantro are the same plant??? I didn’t, my cooking Guru informed me yesterday that Cilantro is the name for the leaves of the Coriander plant, and we use the seeds to make Coriander spice.****

Chili-Cheese Hoagies-The Karen edition

I live with a man who for years has been asking me to make sloppy joes…….However our biggest issues is that I’m a bit more discerning than your average bear, and that can of ‘Sloppy Joe’ mix, is not on my list of acceptable dinner alternatives. I can’t for the life of me find a Sloppy Joe recipe that I like, so on Friday after shopping I decided to try the Chili-Cheese Hoagies recipe found on Pg: 92 of our Budget Cooking Bible.

Now not unlike every recipe that I touch, I did change a few things. Instead of French-Style buns, I chose Kaisers. I prefer these buns, not only for their taste but also because nearly every store is bound to have a great price on this standard bakery bun. They were easy to hollow out as the recipe suggested, and held up to their end of the sandwich bargain quite well.

I started by chopping green onions, one medium sized onion, half of a green pepper, a small bunch of Cilantro and 2 cloves of garlic. Then, as per the recipe, I cooked all but the cilantro with the ground beef in a large skillet until the ground beef was brown. After removing the fat, buying extra lean ground beef helps with this step, I dumped in my can of tomatoes and stirred the cilantro in.

Forgive my blurry pictures...I'm a writer not a photographer

I let this cook down for probably between 30-45 minutes on medium heat. This gave me time to make two batches of oatmeal chocolate cookies, and hollow out the buns. Cookies always get me extra brownie points with my man….however I’ve learned to cook twice as much as you tell him you have and hide the difference, otherwise they will all be sacrificed to the video game gods. In the end they came together quite nicely, next time I’ll do them as open-faced sandwiches with a salad or fresh veggies. My boyfriend tells me that they were spicy and the cheese held it together nicely. I chose to replace the cumin with chili flakes that I picked up from the dollar store of all places, which really seemed to pay off. I liked the bite that they had, and they were filling, one sandwich later, I was stuffed…we had cookies and milk for desert and settled down for a night of Mad Men.

Clean up was phenomenally easy….here, all clean and put away, you will find all the dishes I used to cook this dinner.

Defining a foodie

The meeting room is bare, minimalistic, with a horseshoe of chairs centered before a long wooden table. The walls bear remnants of past events, and the large windows are covered with outdated curtains. The sun is setting, casting shadows in the dimly lit room.

The people in the room seem friendly, but they are all somber, quiet and everyone seems to keep to themselves. There are people from all walks of life here, tall, chubby, short or thin. There is a woman dressed in a beautiful suit I probably couldn’t afford, and a guy who looks like he picked up the first thing he saw on his floor and put it on. I see a man in his work overalls and a young mom nursing her daughter.

The chairman of our meeting calls us to order and asks who would like to go first. That feeling of nervousness flutters inside my stomach as I raise my hand, I would prefer to get it over with. With a gentle smile he motions for me to stand up.

The room turns to look at me. Blue, brown, green and grey, all the eyes in the room seem to burn their way through me. Slowly I stand and quietly clear my throat, with shaking hands I bear my soul.

“Hi, my name is Karen,” I stumble on the words, and a smile from the mother holding her baby urges me on, “And I am a foodie.”

A foodie, by my definition, is a lover of food. Someone who fully enjoys the act of eating. I don’t mean someone who loves to shove food in their mouth. I’m talking about the woman who will spend 20 minutes savouring each bite of her slice of cheese cake. The man who will turn to his wife and ask, “Babe, is that Cilantro I taste in your chili?”. The college student who bypasses the Kraft dinner aisle to pick up some Asiago cheese and olive oil instead.

Foodies will choose a full-bodied tasty dinner over fast food any day, these are the people you want to go to dinner with. The down side of being a foodie is that it can be expensive. We all love to eat, and we all love to eat good food, that can be very hard to do on a budget.

My solution, learn to cook! It doesn’t need to be time-consuming all the time, it shouldn’t be that hard, and with the right tools, you will be working your way into the foodie hall of fame.

I’ve fallen in love with the Better Homes and Gardens’ Budget Meal$: Save big $$$ with smart ways to shop and efficient ways to cook.

This book has everything, from how to stock your pantry, to how and when to shop for veggies and meats. This really is a must have for any cost conscious foodie, or if you’re my sister…cheap foodies.

I don’t mind being called cheap, life is so expensive these days, I’m a fan of pinching pennies wherever I can. Good food should not involve breaking the bank. A beautiful meal should not need designer cook ware, name brand everything and the newest and greatest gadget.

If I could, I would grow my own vegetables, I’d have chickens and ducks (the ducks because I find the quacks soothing), bake all of my own breads and actually make pasta. However, reality dictates that I pull my head out of the clouds and get a real job.

So it was back to the drawing board. Now I have a coupon book, a comparison shopping book, I keep my receipts and I plan my meals. Why? Because it was easy to be overwhelmed after working all day, and the days that I was prepared, and the days I planned ahead, were so much less stressful than the days I was running around demanding that someone else picked what we would have for dinner that night.

I love the idea of meal plans, they reduce your time in the kitchen, your stress and they make shopping for groceries less guess-work, and more efficient. I’ve been applying for the meal plans that I have come across online, and I’ve found that they are either directed towards Americans, so deals and other things don’t apply to Miss Canada here, or they have some crazy recipes that I couldn’t convince my boyfriend to eat. I’m sorry to say that Tofu Currie wouldn’t fly in my house.

That’s why I love this book, there are quite a few recipes that take me out of my comfort zone, but they are all real meals, full of colour (which is really important to me), full of flavor and they are realistic and relevant to my life.

They give you 50 no recipe recipes for things like No-fuss salads, Easy sides, Simple sandwiches, Fix-Quick Main dishes and deserts, for those days where you need to find a creative way to express yourself.

I love that people experiment with food, almost as much as I like to experiment myself, but I think that for everyday life you should be able to find 20-30 recipes that you fall in love with. Those become the basis of your personal cook book, and then you add a little “flava-flave” to spice up everyday life.

I picked up Budget Meal$ on sale at the Real Canadian Superstore, however you can find it here from any where from $6.39-$18.97, which is better than the listed price of $23.95.

I look forward to sharing my successes and my epic failures as I work my way through this great little book. Come back tomorrow for when I attack my pantry with a vengeance.