All in a Days Work

So many people ask me how I get home cooked meals on the table as often as I do considering my work schedule.  I have one word for you – PLANNING.   If I have the weekend off, I usually get up early, hit the local  butcher and farm stand.   On Sunday mornings, I get up early, peruse the sale ads and make my menu for the week.   I hit the grocery store early and if needed, the farmers market.

Once I get home, I start prepping.   I tend to wash, peel, and cut all the veggies I am going to need for the next three to four days and I separate them into containers.   If something is going to be cooked together – i.e. peppers and onions will be sautéed together, I put them in the same container.

Here is a shot of my kitchen counter, I was halfway through my prep and snapped a picture.

all in a days work

If you have the prep work done and all you have to do is assemble your dinner, it goes a long way to getting home made, delicious food on your dinner table on any given day.   By shopping and using whatever is on sale or in season, you save money and put the very best tasting food on your table.   Cheers!

Notes to the Hubby

Does anyone else have to leave notes reminding your husband about the food in the fridge?

Notes to the Hubby

Mine is such a creature of habit that even though I made him steel-cut oats with apples and pears for his breakfast this week, he automatically heads to the cabinet with the quick oats.  I usually leave a note on his desk, and that usually works if it is something he needs/wants to eat that day, but I didn’t feel like leaving the same note all week so I wrote a note on painters tape and stuck it to our kitchen cabinet.

Weird, probably, effective….DEFINATELY!

I always have painters tape in my kitchen.  It makes labeling anything so easy.  It works on all plastic containers and will stay until you take it off, even in the freezer.  Having this in my kitchen ensures that I will label everything that goes in the fridge or freezer, no more guesses as to what is in the bag/container at my house anymore! Oh, and it doesn’t damage your containers or leave a sticky mess, double win!

Tip of the Week

Need a super fast side dish for the holidays?  Creamed Spinach – take a bag of frozen spinach and let it thaw in the fridge (or if you forgot that part, just thaw it in the microwave).  Put one wheel of Boursin Garlic and Herb Cheese in the bottom of a small sauce pan, add 2-3 T of heavy cream and heat through.  Ring out as much moisture as possible from the spinach, toss into the sauce, stir to coat and warm the spinach.  Serve!

The creamed spinach is also a great sauce for pasta if you have any left over. Thin it with a little more cream when reheating and toss it with warm pasta, dinner in a flash!

Getting Ready

I have spent my Sunday prepping my house, pantry and fridge for the upcoming holiday season.   I had deliberately let the pantry and fridge get a little bare.  Today, I pulled out everything from the fridge and cleaned all of the shelves, drawers, etc.  While I had my hands on all of the condiments, I checked the expiration dates and tossed what needed to be tossed.  I made a list of what I tossed, what we were low on, what items I might need for holiday recipes.  I also added to the list quick appetizer items (cheese, pepperoni, marinated veggies, that sort of thing) in the event we have people who stop by to say hello.  I always like to have something that I can pull out of the fridge on a moments notice and feed people!

I rearranged the pantry, figured out what I had on hand, made a list of the items I might need more of for the holidays (chocolate chips, nuts, flour, the basics!) and what specialty items (crackers, chocolates)I might want to have on hand in case of unexpected guests.  I also made a list of easy quick meals that I can have on the table within 20 minutes and stocked up on those items.  The holiday season seems to get more and more busy each year and I want to make sure I have items on hand that translate to easy, quick, nutritious meals so we don’t have to resort to take out if we come home late from shopping and we are terribly hungry!

After tackling that I changed and washed the sheets on all of the beds in the house, added blankets, changed the lightweight comforters for heavier ones.  Everything is ready in case we have last-minute guests.

I have a basket in the guest bathroom with soaps, shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, etc.  I checked the dates on all of those items and made a list of what I need to replace, change, and have more of on hand.

I checked the hall closet for paper towels, tissues, and toilet paper.

Once I had my list, I went to the store and stocked up on what I could.  I like getting my house ready for company and I like doing it before the craziness of Thanksgiving descends upon us.  Now all I need is some company to arrive!

Do any of you have any pre holiday chores?


Tip of the Week

I would never turn my oven on just to roast garlic, but Friday night I roasted potatoes and carrots and decided to add two heads of garlic.  At the time I didn’t have plans for the garlic, I figured worse case I would freeze it for use in a recipe to be named later.  I ended up using it in our root vegetable mash on Sunday night and it was awesome!

So my tip – always utilize your oven, if you are turning it on and you have the room, figure out what else you can put in there to maximize usage and provide you with ingredients to use in a future dish!

Canyon Creek, 2nd Year 142

Roasting garlic is a fairly simple process, cut approximately 1/4 off the top of each head of garlic.  You can either find a small oven safe dish (like the mini loaf pan you see above) or use a double thickness of foil.  Drizzle the garlic with olive oil, salt and pepper, cover with foil and roast for 1-1/2 hours until soft and golden brown.  Roasting garlic mellows the flavor so much, it is almost sweet.  Try it next time you have a chicken roasting in the oven, trust me, it is awesome!

Tip of the Day

Does your husband surprise you with unexpected dinner guests or is it only mine that does that?   Here is a great tip for softening butter in the event you need to get dessert in the oven ASAP…..

Take your cold butter, cut it into cubes and it will soften for you within minutes.  This is what I did on Friday night so I could make the Raspberry Buttermilk Cake after coming home with a pint of fresh raspberries.

Butter - Cubed and Ready to Use!

Butter – Cubed and Ready to Use!

I often use this trick during the summer, I find if I leave butter out to long it is actually too soft to use in cake or cookie recipes.

Happy Baking!



Tip of the Day

The wedding this weekend was a casual backyard BBQ affair and we had perfect weather!  While finishing the shopping, prepping, cooking, etc on Saturday morning, I stopped by Wal-Mart for a few last-minute items and picked up a roll of painters tape and a sharpie.

My cousin was perplexed when I unpacked the bags and wanted to know what I intended on using that for.  Simple – it is one of the best ways to label items for the refrigerator or freezer.  The label stays on the bag or container and once you do remove it, it doesn’t leave any residue on your containers or lids.

I knew we would have tons of leftover food and some of it would be headed to the freezer, this gave us an easy way to identify the items so we didn’t have any mystery packages to deal with 3 months from now.

Try it, it really works wonders!