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What I Did with My Leftovers--Cooking Class Two--For Living Extra Large

November 30th, 2021 at 06:16 am

This was an excellent food year for Thanksgiving and we had a lot of turkey leftover.  I picked all the meat off the bones the night of Thanksgiving and we ate just regular leftovers for a couple of nights running and then last night DH cubed up the rest of the meat and I made turkey casserole for dinner tonight, plus two and a half pans for the freezer.

I make a simple to put together casserole.  With the amount of turkey I had left (14 cups) I mixed in 4 cans of cream of chicken soup and 2 cans of cream of cauliflower soup.  I used the Pacific brand, since it is gluten free, but any works and you can sub cream of celery or mushroom for the cauliflower or just use a second can of cream of chicken.  I used a large carton of sour cream and then the leftover equivalent of one can (2 cups) of corn and 2 cans (4 cups) of green beans.  Then I added 2 cups of romano cheese and 2 cups of colby jack cheese, because that is what I had.  You can vary the cheese but some of it should be colby or cheddar.

Then I put that all in the pans and added a layer of leftover mashed potatoes on top.  I had to mix some milk into the mashed potatoes to get them back to a soft, spreadable consistency.  So a thawed one just gets cooked for 25 minutes at 350 F and then sprinkle cheese on top and cook another 5 minutes.  You can do it with tater tots if you don't have mashed potatoes, but then you have to cook it for as long as the tater tots say they need to be cooked for on their packaging and at their temperature.  We had to mix up instant potatoes for the other 2 and a half pans.  Once finished, cover with foil and write instruction on top with a shapie.

Cooking from the freezer you leave the foil on for 1 hour, remove foil and cook for 1 hour, adding the cheese on top for the last five minutes of cooking.  Easy peasy.  We have also frozen the remaining lemon bars and pumpkin cheese cake.  So other than the bones, which I will make into broth tomorrow and can, and a little bit of stuffing that will get eaten tonight, there are no more leftovers in my fridge, and nothing has gone to waste.  In a few weeks when we are no longer sick of turkey I can pop one out and be good to go.

For a single pan version of this you will need:

4 cups of leftover chopped turkey or chicken

1 can cream of cauliflower soup

1 can cream of chicken soup

1/3 of a large carton of sour cream

3 cups of cheese with some of it being cheddar or colby

1 cup of canned corn

2 cups of canned green beans

Additional cheese for topping

Enough leftover or instant potatoes to cover the top of the 9 x 13 pan

If you have them you can throw in some green onions to your taste.

Leftover stuffing could go in this, too, but we didn't have enough.  Corn and beans can be left out and served on the side for picky eaters.





Recipes for Living Almost Large--Homemade Spaghetti Sauce--Cooking Class 1

November 3rd, 2021 at 12:52 am

LAL wanted the recipes from my last meal plan, so I am going to try to get them up as I can.  I was hoping to sit down and do them all at once, but I just don't know that I have the werewithal to do that right now, so I'll get them up as I can.  This recipe is versatile and amounts depend on how much spaghetti you want to use.  You said in your post that you want meals big enough to be eaten two days in a row and this will do that.

Now I usually do a pound and a half of spaghetti to get us a meal for one night and leftovers for two lunches.  If you want enough for two meals, you'll likely need to do two pounds for a family of 4 or two and a half for a family of 5.  These amounts would differ if you have young kids.

So for every pound of spaghetti you cook you need one pound of ground meat, 1 large diced yellow onion, 2 tbsp minced garlic (from a jar is fine) 1 pint of diced tomatoes, 2 pints of tomato sauce, 1 6 oz can of tomato paste, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.

Start by browning your ground meat on medium heat (350°F).  Sprinkle it with onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and 1 tbsp of Italian seasoning or to taste.  You don't need to cook it all the way through, just until it is no longer visibly pink.  It will finish cooking in the sauce.  Right now you are just getting that nice brown flavor.  Remove the ground meat from the pan and drain the fat.  Add some olive oil to a large pot and start cooking your onions.  Meanwhile, drain your diced tomatoes.  The onions will take about 15 minutes to saute to the right consistency.  Some browning is good.  After the 15 minutes is up, get your water for the spaghetti ready.  Add enough salt to the water to make it taste like the sea, and turn it on high.  Cover with a lid.  Add spaghetti when it comes to a full boil and cook according to package directions.

Meanwhile add the garlic to the onions and saute for 1 minute, stirring constantly so garlic does not burn, then add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.  Add tomato sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to taste (no this is not too much seasoning) and once stirred in add tomato paste.  Make sure the tomato paste is absorbed into the sauce and doesn't stay in clumps.  You may have to press it out flat against the bottom of the pan and stir it into the sauce several times.  Once all the clumps are out, add the meat into the sauce.  Turn down to a simmer.  Put a lid on your pot as the sauce will spit like a mud pot at Yellowstone.  Stir every couple of minutes for ten minutes, then taste your sauce and do your final adjustment on seasonings.

Drain your spaghetti and put onto plates, then top with the sauce.  Serve with a salad or other green vegetable.

Stir every couple of minutes.

No Spend Day with Taquitos and Strawberry Ice Cream

June 10th, 2020 at 04:13 am

Mumof2 wanted to know how I make homemade ice cream without an ice cream machine and I just put up a video today of how I make strawberry ice cream on my youtube channel. I think I am going to do a whole ice cream series of no machine ice cream through the summer. There are lots of yummy flavors that I want to do as we go through the summer season.

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I harvested more radishes from the garden today. This brings my count to:

Purple Radishes--4
Cherrybelle Radishes--1
Icicle Radishes--11

The purple radishes are quite large, I can only hold 3 in my hand, and the icicle radishes are quite a bit bigger than that. So far that makes 3 lbs of radishes. Not to mention all the radish greens, which I am eating some of and the rabbits are eating some of. All told, in organic radishes I've harvested about $10 worth if you go based on size, where one icicle radish would be equivalent to 5 regular red radishes and a purple radish would be around 2.5 regular radishes. One bunch of organic radishes is $1.29 where I live.

I made chicken taquitos for dinner tonight and they were fantastic. There were leftovers so I froze them. I baked the taquitos, but the frozen ones can just go into the deep fat fryer next time or if someone wants a quick lunch they can do a few. The recipe was very easy and I made a double batch.

Usually I want to tweak a recipe, but this came out good the first try. Although I did use garlic and fine herbs cream cheese instead of plain, so I guess I did tweak it. And I will probably add more cilantro and green onions next time, just because I couldn't really taste the small amount that was there so I guess I will tweak it some more. Oh, that's just the professional cook in me coming out. You can take the girl out of the restaurant, but... Anyway, the recipe I used is here if you are interested:
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It rained on and off all day, so other than harvesting radishes and weeding part of the radish bed, I didn't really do any gardening. If it had been dry I would have weeded the rest of the radishes and the second strawberry bed.

I did order some more radish, carrot, and onion seeds for bunching onions (scallions) which should hopefully be here in 7 to 10 business days according to Johnny's Selected Seeds. By the time I made it to a nursery, there were no bunching onions available. They sold out fast once they were allowed to be open. Lots of new gardeners this year thanks to Covid-19. Next year I will try to be more on the ball and plant my own starts. This year I had what was likely Covid-19 at seed starting time.

I didn't spend any money today and I am trying not to peak at retirement again this week. I am so looking forward to Friday and paying off that debt. 3 days to go.

Standing at the Edge

March 15th, 2020 at 05:15 am

We rescheduled our vacation for mid-May with the idea that it might have to be moved again, but hopefully not. DH is still taking the week off, though. We decided not to go to the library. We can still check out digital books while it is shut down. And I do have a few unread free books on my Kindle app as well as a couple books I have not read yet.

My MIL gave her granddaughter half her toilet paper, not realizing she would not be able to get more and so she was left with only 6 rolls. DH kept an eye out as he was doing several small errands today. Most places were empty, but Walgreens had 12 9 packs of Charmin, so he picked up 2 for his mother. There was a limit of 4.

While I have two and a half cases of TP for 4 people (Mom has her own), I went ahead and ordered 48 brown wash cloths and 4 squeeze bottles for my family. While I hope it doesn't come to it, we can fill the squeeze bottles with warm water and use that to wash off and the wash cloths to dry off with. We also have a case of paper towels and a couple boxes of baby wipes. We'll see how things progress. I also have two buckets with lids, one for each bathroom, that used washcloths can be stored in until we have enough to wash or run out. If it doesn't come down to that we'll have lots of brown wash cloths we can use for something else, like garage rags or if never used at all, kitchen use.

There are murmurings that we may not be allowed to travel domestically in Washington state. I saw one source saying that the DoD has started recommending no domestic travel for the military and their families here. I think civilians will be next. I have not found a second source to confirm it, though. I don't know if travel restrictions will mean staying in your house or just not leaving your city. I'm looking to see if I can find more out on it, but there might not be until tomorrow.

Last night I thawed out two packages of beef soup bones and made bone broth in the Instant Pot and today I am making a beef soup with the meat that fell off the bones, 4 stalks of celery, 1 yellow onion, 1 head of minced garlic, 4 red potatoes and 3 Russet potatoes that were starting to sprout a bit and needed using up. I dug out the sprouts and they were perfectly edible.

I seasoned it with ginger (for the health benefits), onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and threw a couple sprigs of thyme on top (also for the health benefits) that I fished out before serving. The flavor was fantastic. Best beef soup I've ever made. I would have used carrots, but my daughter doesn't like them cooked. I am freezing the extra, which was 3 quarts of soup, in some old soup takeout containers from the Polynesian restaurant.

Tomorrow I will make turkey soup, but will start the broth off tonight like I did with the beef. It will be the same but with a couple of white carrots, which tend to be the least sweet, and I'll add some poultry seasoning and sage (for the health benefits and the flavor), too, but leave out the ginger. DD doesn't always get her way about the carrots, because the rest of us like them. Turkey isn't as sweet as beef though and can use it.

We have a lot more beef soup bones and some lamb soup bones in the freezer in the garage. I think we will likely be on a soup kick for a while. Just because it is the most soothing food when you don't feel well and it seems to open up the sinuses to hover over a bowl of steaming brothy goodness.

Soup will definitely make the food we have stretch as it is quite filling and a big pot feeds us one night and the rest goes into the freezer to feed us for two more meals. Although DH will supplement with more protein. The rest of us don't tend to need to. We had leftover pot roast so that worked out.

I have gotten a request for ham and pinto bean soup which I have never made before, I really don't like beans, but both kids like it as their grandmother used to make it before she went off pork. I'll have to ask her if she does anything special. DD hasn't eaten beans in a couple of years and decided she wanted to test them again. They bothered her badly after her gall bladder came out. I'm not sure if there are any dry beans left in the stores, though, and maybe not even any canned, so it may be a moot point until after all this is over.

Not really much else going on. Just standing at the edge and waiting to see who falls off.

Minor (Very Minor) Surgery Plus Instant Pot Recipe for Alliecat79

January 9th, 2019 at 04:28 am

I took DD to the dentist today. She had to get the webbing clipped on that part of your mouth where the lower lip connects to the gum. It was starting to pull down the gum line on her two lower front teeth too far. It could have eventually exposed the roots of the teeth and she might have lost them due to them not being stable anymore. It was just a quick snip and a couple of stitches.

I am not sure how much it will cost us. Probably $50 for the co-pay, but they didn't collect anything while we were there. I wish our previous dentist had brought this up before. The new guy seems a little more on the ball. I mean, when he pointed it out to me, you could really see where the damage was being caused, it is an obvious thing that a dentist should have noticed before this. Unless maybe it wasn't as obvious and just got really bad in the last year.

I did actually break my no take out rule. I bought my daughter two milkshakes because she wasn't allowed to eat solids for the rest of the day and she wanted something cold to numb it. I really didn't want to go to the grocery store because it was raining hard, so we went to DQ.

I also spent $27.33 on prescriptions today, including a numbing mouth wash from the dentist for her. That came out of the medical account, though.

We still have not heard anything from the gyno's surgery scheduler. Hopefully we will hear from them this week. I know the doctor wasn't in her office for the last two weeks, but everyone was supposed to be back on Monday. The insurance company was probably pretty much closed down between Christmas and New Year's as well. If I don't hear from them by Friday I'll give a call on Monday.

I am still waiting to get a bill from DS's sleep study. It looks like it will be around $400 based on what the insurance company sent me for what they covered, but I'd like to get the bill so that it can be taken care of. The insurance statement only came on Monday. Everyone is behind because of the holidays, I think.

Mom called her insurance company today and has a claim number we can use. We will take the truck in soon to get an estimate and then schedule repairs. Fortunately, the damage is just cosmetic except for the bumper and while the license plate is dented in badly, it is still readable. We will leave that until we get new plates. Washington state requires new license plate numbers every 5 years (and they wonder why we are running out of numbers on our plates. They used to just be six digits and now they are seven because of this rule. Well, actually, we better make sure a new plate would even be attachable. I'll mention that to DH so he can mention it to the repair guy.

I did change my meal plan tonight since DD can't eat solids, to penné pasta with chicken sausage, since she can't eat the chicken sausage or tomatoes. I have a ton of sausage in the freezer that used to be something she could eat, but she can't anymore.

Oh, Alliecat79, this was a super easy Instant Pot meal. Just take two pints of diced tomatoes with their juice and add them to your pot, then dump in a box of penné pasta, then put in two jars of spaghetti sauce covering the pasta. Put an inch of water in each jar, put the lid on, shake up, and then dump the contents into the pot. Between that and the tomato juice there is enough liquid to make the steam so adding more is not necessary. Cut up some sausage links and put on top. On the manual setting, set the time for 12 minutes. Do a quick release when done and then stir it all up. That's it. (Sometimes I throw in a couple handfuls of frozen zucchini, too). Oh, and make sure you spray the liner pot with olive oil before you start. It makes clean up much easier.

Homemade Tomato Soup in the Instant Pot

September 2nd, 2018 at 04:28 am

I made tomato soup from scratch for the first time today. I had a big glut of tomatoes from the garden and what was left over from what Mom brought home from eastern Washington. I made it in the 8 quart Instant Pot and it was really good. I don't even like tomato soup and I liked this soup. I thought I'd pass along what I did.

1 small yellow onion, diced small
2 stalks of celery, diced small
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced small
2 heaping tbsp minced garlic
Italian seasoning
Tomatoes cut into wedges
2 cups broth

I started by putting the pot onto saute mode and sauteed the onions, celery, carrots, and bell peppers for 3 minutes, added a few shakes of salt, a few shakes of pepper, and 8 shakes of Italian seasoning and stirred. Then I sauteed for 3 more minutes and added the garlic, sauteeing for 30 seconds more.

Turn off the saute feature and add enough tomatoes to go up to the fill line. This was probably about 10 pounds of tomatoes. Add two cups of broth. I used chicken broth. Add one tbsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper.

Put on the lid and set it to sealing. Select the stew button (meat/stew on some models) and bring the timer to 50 minutes. Cook. When the time is up do a quick release of the pressure. Remove the lid with the steam going away from you.

Use an immersion blender to blend the tomatoes up. Taste and adjust seasoning. I we ended up adding two more tsp of salt and 1/2 a tsp of pepper, and 1 more tbsp of Italian seasoning.

Ladle into pint jars and pressure can for 20 minutes. This makes 8 pints. Or you can can half, like I did and to the remaining soup add 1/2 cup of milk and 2 cups of fresh basil, blending again until smooth.

Both versions tasted really good to me and the kids and DH all loved it. I am happy, because now I can can up more soup when I get enough tomatoes. As they get ripe in the garden, I can core them and cut them up and then throw them in the freezer until I get enough. That way, I don't have to leave them setting out for the fruit flies to hatch out on. I have already canned all the diced tomatoes and wedges that I am going to this summer, so this will use up the rest of what I produce really easily.

As a side note, I canned the soup in the 8 quart Power Cooker XL electric pressure cooker. It has a canning feature. I have been very happy with it. I have only used it to can broth before, but it has always worked great. I like not having to baby-sit the process and it works well for small batches like this, where I won't have to drag out the big canner.

It is nice to have 2 electric pressure cookers, too. While I prefer the Instant Pot, it does not have the canning feature. Once I get a new inner pot for the XL, I will be much happier. The IP's stainless steel inner pot fits in the XL, so I will order one of those. The non-stick coating that came on the XL scratched off withing the first 2 months, so I only use pot-in-pot cooking or the canning feature on that one. With the other kind of inner pot, I will be able to fully use it again.

I'm Going to Get Glasses and Tzatziki

June 22nd, 2018 at 01:46 am

The weather broke today and I am very happy. It was a cool 66 degrees F, which is so much better than 88 and 90. It was lightly overcast as well, so I didn't have to wear sunglasses while driving. I really don't like to because I have to wear the kind that go over my glasses, but there are certain times when I absolutely must. I've tried having prescription sunglasses in the past, but it doesn't block the peripheral vision from strong sun and I need that since the retinal tear as I am much more sensitive to sunlight now.

Speaking of glasses I have decided to take some of the overtime money and get new ones. These ones are just giving me such bad headaches. My eye doctor thinks they last people screwed up the prescription. He says there is too much difference between the one previous to it and the new one in the opposite direction it is in now, for the last one to have been done properly. He thinks they must have wrote it down incorrectly.

We had to use that place the last time because it was the only one the insurance we had at the time would pay for. I should have just gone where I wanted and just had the glasses made there. Although I won't have them made there again. Since we don't have vision insurance currently, I will just go where I want to, which is a local shop that is not part of a chain and isn't in a mall or strip mall.

I am figuring that it will cost close to $500 for my prescription, which means about half the amount I had earmarked for debt this week, but hopefully I'll find a more inexpensive set of frames I like and I can come in closer to $400. I thought I'd saved the frames from the previous pair that I really liked, but I can't find them and think they may have accidentally gotten recycled when we did a bunch of old glasses. I did find the pair before that, but those ones are way too small to support my current prescription.

My mother has offered to teach DS to drive. She has the time and doesn't want us to have to pay for a class. So that will work out nicely. At least it will if she doesn't freak him out too much. She was a good teacher back when she taught me, but these days she isn't as fast with the reflexes. Still, if they go out when it isn't a busy time of day it should be fine.

There isn't much going on around here. I made tzatziki today because tomorrow I am going to be trying an Instant Pot recipe for Chicken Shawarma. I will also be making my own pita bread tomorrow. It looks fairly straightforward. I figure if I can master English muffins, hot dog buns, and French bread, pita bread should be a snap.

If you want to see how I made it, it is on my youtube channel here:

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Making a Price Book + Request for Lentils Recipes

May 27th, 2018 at 12:00 am

One of the things Amy Dazcyzan recommends in the Tightwad Gazette books is to make a price book. I have never done this and I really never considered doing it before today, but it would have really come in handy these last two weeks when making up the grocery list, so today I sat down with as many receipts as I could still find and started making a spreadsheet with the prices of everything that would fall under either groceries or household expenses.

This way when I make up my grocery list I will know approximately how much everything costs so I can make sure I am coming in under budget, give or take a sale or two. I will also know which store has the better price on what, though I pretty much have that in my head already. It will also let me know if I need to bump a staples purchase to a different week or if I have enough in the household budget for whatever purchase I want to make that week.

I always thought it would be a tedious process, and it probably would be if I were doing it by hand, but typing it into a spreadsheet is easy enough. I put everything in alphabetical order, and then if I need to add anything new I can just insert a sheet row in the appropriate spot and still keep it in order. I do love modern technology.

I think it may be time for me to put the Tightwad Gazette books on hold again at the library. I am in a way different place than when I've read them each time before, much more heavily focused on the food budget and budgeting more tightly in general. I've learned something new with each read and I think that was because I was open to something different each time.

Oh, also, I am going to venture into cooking with lentils. I am looking for some good recipes that do not have beef, lamb, or pork in them. Most of them seem to be made with ham and she can't eat that much fat. Chicken or turkey or fish are okay and so is vegetarian. Lentils are a protein my daughter can eat (and likes) without fear of it upsetting her gall bladder, or in the aftermath of having it taken out. I just found out that Thrive Life has lentils, too, so I added a #10 can to my monthly order. If she likes those ones, then I'll get a bucket.

Frugal Breakfasts

March 21st, 2018 at 01:13 am

Laura was asking about frugal meals. For breakfast we eat a lot of egg variations, because eggs are still the cheapest thing we can buy, really. Or get for free from our ducks.

Right now I'm on a baked omelet kick, where I just spray a mini-meatloaf tin and add two beaten eggs, 3 tbsp of vegetables, 1 to 3 tbsp of cheese and 2 tbsp of meat. I use up a lot of leftover veg this way. You can make them in large size muffin tins (not cupcake size) if you are making multiples.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes. It really depends on your oven for the time. In my Nuwave it takes 20 minutes and in my gas oven it takes 30 minutes. I imagine an electric oven is somewhere in between. Stick a toothpick in the center and check that it comes out clean and that is when it is done.

My favorite variations:

2 eggs, 3 tbsp pico de gallo, 2 tbsp sausage, 1 tbsp sharp cheddar, salt and pepper

2 eggs, 3 tbsp chopped broccoli and cauliflower, 2 tbsp diced ham, 1 tbsp sharp cheddar, salt, and pepper

2 eggs, 1 tbsp chopped tomato, 1 tbsp diced green bell pepper, 1 tbsp diced onion, 2 tbsp diced ham, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper

2 eggs, 1 diced green onion, 2 tbsp leftover or canned salmon or tuna, 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper

2 eggs, 3 tbsp leftover taco meat, 2 tbsp Mexi-blend cheese

2 eggs, 2 tbsp ground beef seasoned with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper, 1 tbsp diced Anaheim chili pepper, 1 tbsp diced red bell pepper, 1 tbsp diced red onion, salt and pepper

To make this easier on me, I will dice up a bunch of ham or cook a pound of sausage or ground beef and then flash freeze them flat on a cookie sheet for a couple of hours so they don't stick together, before bagging them up and leaving them in the freezer. That way I can easily measure out as much as I need the night before and it will be thawed by morning. I also have my containers of chopped veggies done up, so I can just mix and match in the morning. I am watching my carbs, so this is basically what I always eat, sometimes with additional veggies. For the rest of the family I have other options.

Another cheap breakfast we do is breakfast burritos. It is rather simple to do up a huge batch. It requires 24 eggs and 2 pounds of sausage. Brown the sausage, beat the eggs (I use my stand mixer because this is a lot of eggs), and pour the eggs over the sausage. Stir until done. If you don't have a large enough skillet for this, cut the recipe in half and do two batches.

Take a tortilla, spoon some filling in, add the cheese of your choice and roll once, fold one end up, finish the roll, and then wrap in aluminum foil. Freeze in gallon size ziplocs. This recipe will fill 4 bags. We keep one in the fridge and the rest in the freezer. When we run out we take another bag out the night before. My husband likes to dip his in picante sauce or salsa. I did this one for my youtube channel so if you'd like to watch it done here it is:

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Scrambled egg sandwiches are another. You simply scramble your egg, butter a slice of bread, spoon the egg into it and fold the bread in half. It is simple, but amazingly good (even on cheap, ordinary bread).

Pancakes and waffles are something that can be made ahead and frozen individually so they don't stick together and then bagged up for the freezer. They can be warmed up from frozen or you can just take them out the night before and then warm them up. You can use mix, but they are simple and cheaper to make from scratch. Add some hard-boiled eggs and you have your protein as well. French toast also lends itself to make ahead and freeze and is very simple to large batch cook.

Breakfast is probably the easiest meal to save money on if you don't mind some repetition. I think lunches and dinners are more of a challenge, but I will go through my recipe binder and see what I come up with. Since we buy so much in bulk off of farms and raise some of our food ourselves, it is harder for me to figure what other people's costs are. But I do have some that I think will fit the bill.