Sunday, November 9, 2014

I'm back!

Hey All,

As you saw, we were down with this delightful little cold that has been going around. There is nothing quite like a mucus filled illness to turn grown men into cranky babies. Food was up and down during that time. I will say, I have relearned the joy of Papa Murphy's Pizza. It used to one of those things we ate a lot of in college. A few days ago, Paul brought one over as a quick fix. I think we cooked it right, as the crust was that perfect spongy crunchy that I like in pizza and the flavors were great!

Shopping has been dismal, as I plain flat haven't had the energy to shop.  That should change this week.

In amongst, though, I did get some cooking done. Albeit things were a bit more complicated during another busy and hectic work week than I like. The good news, the crazy with work is likely behind me. Now, I am faced with the task of cleaning up documents and implementing lessons learned. Its actually an enjoyable part of the job, as it usually doesn't fail a deadline or leave anyone hanging with important things.

So first let's recap from where I left off. With the past couple of weeks being what they were, these are more the highlights than anything else.

A creamy cauliflower soup (Thanks for the idea, Lisa!) was great during one of the first cold days of the season. I don't have any pictures, and it needs some tweaking for the crockpot, but it ended up being great. Couple that with a good loaf of bread from Stone Ground Bakery, which is just around the corner, and it was a very satisfying hearty meal.

The curried chicken salad was one that fed us for a suprising number of days. I visited lots of recipes on the web and concluded that its pretty much like any other chicken salad, but with the addition of curry powder. I did half and half to taste of Vindaloo curry from Market Spice and the stuff from the supermarket.  I added the usual culprits of chives, raisins, almonds, and halved cherry tomatoes.  I also used half and half sour cream and may for the base.  I think the mayo is a must here as it adds a bit of sweetness that cultured dairy on its own does not.

The chorizo and peppers was a bust.  If I were to do it again, I'd opt for a fajita.  Something about a chili type thing on spaghetti didn't work for me.

Somewhere along the line, I found the dregs of a bag of chicken wings.  So I decided to make wings and "rippin" chicken.  The Popeye's ads have been tormenting us, as we both love their chicken, but unfortunately the nearest one that doesn't require a boarding pass is some 30 miles away. I also still had the peppers from the chorizo and peppers, so I diced a couple of those up in a pot with 50/50 sugar and vinegar, garlic, sliced ginger, a shot of Shriracha, and a bit of cornstarch to make a sauce:

I cut the chicken like this:

 I dredged it in my secret blend of 1 cup flour, 1 Tblsp. cornstarch, and some salt.  After the chicken was dredged, I threw the flour mixture over the wings and shook to coat.  Then off to the deep fryer....

That's all that was left of the poor sure tasted good!

Up next was a find from Recipe Girl.  It isn't kind to say, as I do like how she cooks, but she is mostly facebook fodder to inspire my own cooking.  This Lemon Chicken Parmesan, in particular struck my fancy.  The way the parmesan, lemon, and past come together, and the richness of the breaded chicken made for a fantastic meal.  I made this one ahead, having everything in the baking dish ready to be finished.  I did a few things a bit differently, the pasta, butter, lemon zest, and parmesan all got mixed in the baking dish.  I had pre-breaded chicken breast fillets (which I paid less than I would have for chicken without the breading, mind frugal sense hasn't gone completely out the window!), so I just deep fried those and generously sprinkled with lemon juice.  I will add the lemon slices are an absolute presents nicely, and if you cook the dish covered and then brown the cheese under the broiler, the whole dish gets perfumed with lemon.  It was delicious!  Here's a picture, I even did a bit with the plate to make it look nice :)

Last but not least was this Cajun Shrimp and Quinoa.  Carl joined us for dinner this night.  Along side was plenty of local beer and lots of great conversations.  Read this recipe a few times before you make it.  If you do it right, you'll only dirty an extra pan to make the quinoa.  I didn't read it a few times and ended up destroying the kitchen with the prep.  Again, I prepped this ahead, had it ready to go in the oven and then broiled it off at the end.  I should also mention that cajun spice is really easy to make for a fraction of the price.  Once again, comes to the rescue with this Cajun Spice Recipe.

This is how the dish looked on the plate.  The picture in the article does it perfect justice for how it came out of the oven:

So now for the week ahead:

Chili!  The weather is turning colder, so its a perfect time for chili.  I adapted this White Chili Recipe from Pat and Gina Neely for the crock pot.  I didn't have the peppers and didn't feel like going to the store, so I substituted some roasted hatch chilis I had in the freezer.  I also used the ground turkey I picked up on sale instead of chicken.  I also did half canned black beans and half peruano beans.  I stayed true to the other seasoning and I'm glad I did.  Its in the crock pot now for tomorrow and it tastes and smells delicious.

Meatloaf and mashed potatoes.....not much to say about this one.  Its easy to prepare and great cold weather comfort food.

Veg 1 and broccoli. This is another staple in our house and I've written about it here.  Start a pot of rice, a quick toss in the pan, and dinner!

Spaghetti and clams.  This is one that husbear makes and I love it.

Pot roast.  This Morrocan Pot Roast came across my facebook feed and it sounded good.  I also just happened to score on couscous the other week.  I'm going to substitute dried cranberries for the cherries, but I'm sure it will be good.  This is one we'll just throw in the crock pot and enjoy.

I hope you all are healthy and well.  If you haven't already done so, get your flu shot to ensure a healthy winter season!

Lotsa Love,


Monday, October 27, 2014

Sick as hell....but whatever, I need a Tiffin!

Hey All,

I am sick as hell and got given the run around by our current narcotics legislation in Utah.  I went to the doctor at 7am, since I was already up and attempting to go to work, and this ear pressure told me I better get to the doctor, I went for the 3rd time in a week.  I'm now the proud owner of a hydrocodone  and Augmentin prescription....I had them phoned in, oh, that's right, because of the "crack down" on prescription drug use, I have to present the prescription in person to get hydrocodone....oh well at the least it gave me an excuse to go shopping and take Smith's (a Kroger product) for 28% of retail!  I know pretty measly, considering what those diva's do on TV, but still not bad for just getting started.....

I've often been skeptical of "e-coupons"....but guess what, they work! and on top of your "Valued shopper" card too boot!  I had one for $1.50 off Laughing Cow cheese....and yes, I love those lil' devils as a special treat....with $0.50 already off because of my club card, I paid just $1.46 for my favorite lunch treat.  Throw in a $.16 packet of crackers and leftover dinner protein and I just made a pretty nice lunch for less than $1.  I also scored big with $1 off ground Turkey (brought it to $0.99/lb for 2 lbs), $0.60 off chilis (brought them to $0.09/a can), and $0.50 off club brand cheese (it was still $4.19 for the 1/4lb. of parmesan, but still a steal).

And, since I've been saving so much money by shopping wisely, its time to talk Tiffins!

You don't know tiffins?  Tiffins are stylish, hearty lunchboxes, like my Grandfather, my father, or myself, would have carried into the know, hearty, in case you dropped a tree on it, but stylish, because,'s me....and hearty because I could usually figure out how to fall the tree on top of lunch....  Because we worked in colder climes, it usually came disguised as a cooler with a thermos on top, to keep the coffee warm...apparently we didn't give a crap if our food was cold, but our coffee damned well better be hot.  It turns out its also part of a green food movement called Green Tiffin

The concept is neat to me, a well prepared meal at your office for cheaps....just let me pick up the container at the end of the day and refill it for you....  Have you tried such a thing?  Does it appeal to you?   I'm curious....would office mates be in on a "dine 'o round" for lunch at work?  Just a few of the ideas that come to mind...."Mystery Monday", "Take Your Luck Tuesday" but it has to be homecooked and properly preserved, not weeks' old rotting....

Autumn days in Utah remind me of Summer days in Montana working the timber with my Gramps.  It was a hard detail, but I didn't mind, as long as I got paid.....I had better prospects in science, so did my Husband.  I'd like to say it was worth it, but I will say the timber was less stress....and I didn't have to worry about my equipment killing me

Friday, October 17, 2014

Weekly recap....we survived!

Hey All,

Greetings from the backside of Decompression travels.  Its been a wild ride.  I made it to one of the planned decompressions and given the events surrounding missing one, and ill health on the part of Husbear, we may be done for the year.  I also dropped a ladder on my right foot on Tuesday, and it bruised like a sonufagun.  Needless to say, we're both a bit gimpy right now, but that hasn't stopped us from good food!

So I'll start with the recap of the past week.  I haven't done shopping yet this week, instead, I went out for beers with my beloved crew from work.

The prep didn't get done on Friday, as planned, but we managed to pull it out and eat well with minimal fuss this week.

Monday was the return from the travels, so we just ordered in a pizza.  Meats on thin crust was very nice.

Tuesday:  Flatbread Margherita

I found a package of sandwich thins in the freezer, so rather than go through the pain of making the flatbread, we used those instead.

The hardest part of this prep was the chicken.  We thawed out some chicken thighs, sliced thin, fried it up with onions, oregano, thyme, and salt.

After that, it was literally layering the basil, tomatoes, chicken, and halved mozzarella balls onto them.  I gave them each a squirt of balsamic vinegar on top, bringing a bit more of a buschetta type flavor to them.

I broiled that on lo broil, to get a good crisp on the bread until the cheese was bubbly and the exposed edges of the bread.

Here's what it turned out like.  It ended up making quite a few, and they have been a great lunch treat this week.

 While those were cooking we prepared the meat and tatzeki for the BeefTeki on Wednesday.  Unfortunately my camera ate the picture.  I did something different with the tatzeki and added the salted and sugared onions (about 50/50, let it set til the onions wilt) to it.  It made for a great sauce that has also been a delicious dip on corn chips.

I also cheated on the BeefTeki (see This Entry), I found a package of pita bread in the freezer, so we did that instead of the flatbread.  I should note, I don't feel too guilty about either, I typically get the bread on sale for $0.89/package and keep it in the freezer for weeks like these.

Thursday was a rough one.  I was informed about 30 minutes before quitting time that two of our biggest performance measures for 2014 have been modified for the 4th quarter.  I'm proud as hell of what myself and our team have been able to accomplish this year.  We came into the year struggling to meet acceptance and turn-around rates.  It took a ton of hard work and way-outside-the-box thinking by every single member of the team, but by March we were kicking the snot out of what we thought was an unattainable goal.  In a nutshell, acceptance rates have been increased an additional 33%, and turn around times have been decreased 37.5%.  Fair to say, my unethical douchebaggery radar was going crazy and I really wanted to cry.  I'm proud of myself for challenging it politely during the staff meeting and having a very angry conversation with my boss without losing my mind.  Admittedly, he was unimpressed when I told him, "You want to know where my motivation is right now?  FUCK YOU! That's where!" and flipped him the bird.  So yes, yesterday was a late dinner after much processing.  Dinner was worth the wait, though.  Yes, this is also a favorite dish that I save for special occasions....or when I'm stressed out.

Walnut Shrimp

Shredded Cabbage
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup Walnuts
A pot of rice (I like Jasmine for this, as it soaks up the sauce and makes it milky)
1 lb. Raw Shrimp, peeled, deviened
1/2 cup flour
3 Tblsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
2 Tblsp. Honey

I start a pot of rice at this point, unless you have some ready made in the fridge, then just reheat it.

Heat the oven to 180°F, or the lowest setting if your's won't go that low.

Heat a deep fryer to the chicken setting (typically 375°F).

I didn't have walnuts handy, so we didn't do this and had a honey glazed shrimp, but it was still delicious.  If you have the walnuts, bring the sugar and water to a boil, add the walnuts and boil together for 3-5 minutes.  Drain and set the walnuts aside.

Place the bed of cabbage on a baking sheet.  Place it in the oven while you prepare the rest.

Mix the flour and cornstarch in a large bowl with a lid.  Pat the shrimp dry with a kitchen or paper towel.  Add the shrimp to the bowl, shake to coat.  You will have leftover flour mixture, this is normal.  Toss the shrimp in the deep fryer and fry until done.....5-8 minutes.

While the shrimp are frying, mix together the mayo and honey.  If you have it, juice of half a lemon adds a nice kick.

Pull the shrimp from the fryer and let drain.  Remove the cabbage from the oven and pour the shrimp over.  The cabbage will have wilted perfectly to that earthy sweet that makes this dish stellar!

Pour the mayo/honey mixture over the top.

Here's what last nights looked like.  Oh and don't worry that there isn't much salt.  The natural salt in the shrimp is perfect.

I usually have a couple of minutes left while the rice finishes, so I just pop it back in the oven so the cabbage gets sweeter and the mayo/honey glaze runs all over and coats everything.

Serve with rice for a delightful meal!

I skip the trouble of whipping egg whites for the batter.  Its a pain and I prefer the crispier shrimp that don't require hand dipping.  If you like the big puffy battered shrimp, whip two egg whites to stiff peaks, fold in the flour and cornstarch and hand dip the shrimp.  Personally, I find it a time suck and painful process.

Tonight we're supposed to do steak and corn on the cob, and tomorrow will be the chorizo and peppers.

Some thoughts on the week ahead:

The days are cooling down and I found some recipes for Salisbury loaded with mushrooms, which Husbear loves, so I'm pretty sure it will happen.

Cauliflower is on sale.  I think I'll make cauliflower salad.  Creamy cauliflower soup was also recommended.  I'll give the weather forecast a look and see if it will be a good idea.

Also, lettuce is on sale, so I may look into the curry chicken salad.

I'll likely write more as plans develop.

Lotsa Love,


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

GrownUp SpaghettiOs after The Anniversary at SeaCompression

Hey All,

I've been slightly MIA, but well.  More than anything, I've been traveling.  I often forget how busy a jam packed week before a trip really screws with household planning.  There have also been some recent tragedies, but, out of respect for many of my readers, I won't rehash that.  Those of you who are in the know, THANK YOU for being there!  Without your love and support, this would have been A LOT more difficult!

Last week ended up being lots of dining out.....and my budge reflects it.  But, I keep reminding myself, its that time of year and its OK to let my hair down.

There is little to report from last week that isn't holy depressing.  The happy stuff started on Friday when we departed Salt Lake City for Seattle, first class to celebrate our Anniversary at SeaCompression.  Being our first anniversary and all, we decided to do it in style.  Up first was my first-ever first-class flight on Alaska Airlines.  I have loved Alaska for years, their regional carrier used to be my preferred path out of Montana.  In the past year, they have opened up tons of markets in Salt Lake City;  every chance I got I thanked them and congratulated them on their success in Salt Lake City.  I am thrilled to say I am now a card carrying member of their mileage program and will likely continue to fly them when a first-class ticket is in order.

The flight up was pleasant, no alcohol service until 10K feet, but that was soon rectified.  The meal outbound was OK.  It was a toasted turkey and cheese on ciabatta and a broccoli slaw.  The broccoli slaw was a reminder that I really should do that more often when I have broccoli stems instead of feeding them to the dogs.  It was perfectly dressed with a more Mediterranean twist than I am used to with slaw, but it was quite tasty.

Seattle greeted us with the usual fun and frivolity and a very charming accommodation.  If you ever need a place to stay in Seattle and last minute prices have you gagging, try A Bed & Breakfast Inn Seattle.  The rate was well within budget, and despite a smallish sleeping area, everything else was perfect.  The meals were tasty and the staff friendly;  I couldn't have asked for more!

Also in Seattle, I got better acquainted (oh who am I kidding, I feel like they are best friends for life), with Ranger Torchwood, and company, shout to Ranger Flourless Cake too.  We met at the Berlin social at Burning Man and instantly rubbed off on one another.  Here's a picture of us before we created a spectacle of ourselves on one of the dance stages.

I'd love to share more pictures from SeaCompression, but let's be honest, you just have to be there.  Just ask my Mom who was heartbroken that SeaCompression was early this year and she couldn't get away from her job to come.

Seattle brought its usual culinary delights.  One of me favorites, not to be missed, is Odd Fellow's.  The mussels there are not to be missed.  Not quite as good as the canal mussels I had in Vancouver, WA, but a very close 3rd, with Bambara's being #2.  Another amazing find was the hole in the wall, Pike St. Fish Fry.  Traditional cod fish 'n chips with malt vinegar and curry ketchup made this bear very happy!  Oh and I have to say, I actually had good seafood on this trip to Seattle.  Its ironic that I've never had that spectacular of seafood in Seattle in all the times I've visited.

Then, in a flash, it was time to come home.  We were able to enjoy the hospitality of Alaska's Board Room....lunch was a salad and curry red lentil soup.  This is a soup I must make in the upcoming winter months.  It was a nice bite, soon to be followed by Alaska's award winning in-flight service.  Granted, I sent a rather poor review of my check-in experience as I couldn't find the first class check in until well after I'd done the check-in of the unwashed masses, but their in-flight service made up for that minor inconvienence.

The meal was a "snack" of chicken salad.....  I must say, I'd never thought to make a curried chicken salad.  This meal has inspired me to give it my own attempt, I even bought turmeric at the market today:

I must add, they are doing something right.  The solitary cherry tomato was a highlight of the dish.  I often find tomatoes that don't come from my garden to be tasteless, this one was sweet and popped in my mouth.....the glass of chardonnay (and the two before and the three after) was icing on the cake.

Now that I'm home and we've had the obligatory crap pizza meal, I got my poop in a group and made a meal.  Granted, this one is not quite as nice on the pocketbook, or as visually pleasing, but it turned out great.  I call it Grownup SpaghettiOs....and it only dirtied 3 dishes plus plates for 3.

Some time ago, I scored a heck of a deal on premade pesto and tampanade.  I think I paid $0.50 for the containers and threw them in the freezer.  A bit ago, whole wheat cheese tortellini was on sale, I can't remember, but I think it was $2.99 a container.  It takes 2 containers to feed us, so we're into it $6.50 now.  I also scored on frozen green beans at $0.38/lb today....I think I prepared a pound.

At any rate, here's the result:

The little packet of cheese and herbs was saved from the pizza the other night.  Yeah, I'm cheap like that, but damn those things come in handy sometimes!  Yes, that's also a glass of wine.  I've found that when I'm feeling like I do after a day like today, a couple glasses of wine help me lose the day, sleep well, and not have stomach upset in the morning.....not to mention I'll likely drink 32oz of water before bed.

Today's shopping also brought great ideas for next week.  Husbear is off on Friday and has promised to help with the prep for next week.  I'm happy about this, I think we're catching on that a little bit of preparation makes for a lot less hectic week.  Without further ado, here's the menu for next week along with prep:

Meal 1:  Chorizo and peppers.  Usually I do an Italian sausage and peppers, but I was pretty sure we were out of Italian sausage and chorizo was cheap on sale ($1.58 for 18 oz).  We'll slice the onions, tomatoes, and peppers and have them in the fridge so all we have to do is fry the mess.

Meal 2:  Beefteki.  I've written about this one before and its a favorite (see April 6, 2014 entry).  I have leftover greek yogurt in the fridge and cucumbers were $0.10 ea, so why not!  I had to hunt to find a cucumber that hadn't been frozen and was wilty, but the hunt was worth it.  We'll mix the beef, herbs, and onion and have that ready to go.  The tatzeki will be made ahead as well as the flatbread (see May 30th entry).

Meal 3:  Steak and Corn on the Cob.  OK, this one doesn't have much prep, except maybe dry rubbing and sealing the steaks.  I paid a bit more than I like to for corn, $0.39, but the ears were nice and I know they are local.

Meal 4:  Walnut Shrimp.  Cabbage wasn't super cheap, but I've been craving this and at $0.59/lb I couldn't say no and mean it.  This is a personal favorite of mine and really easy to make if you cheat on the breading....I'll have to write this one up when I make it.  I always serve the shrimp on a bed of shredded cabbage....the cabbage barely wilts when you throw the hot shrimp and sauce on top and is a just perfect sweet and savory.  Granted, this is purple cabbage so the whole mess will turn out a weird green/purple color, but whatever.

Meal 5:  Flatbread Chicken Margherittha.  An easy take on the classic Margherittha pizza.  Since I've only enjoyed a few of the tomatoes, and most have gone in the freezer, we'll be doing this.  Also mozzarella, while fun to make, was on sale for $1.49 for 8oz in water.  Make the flabread ahead.  Soak the chicken in garlic, salt, and oregano and grill it.  Put together and throw it under the broiler for a bit and viola!

I hope you all are doing well and enjoying the Autumn.  And let me reiterate, no more freaking tragedies....I'm getting kind of tire of it.

Lotsa Love,


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Apples, Lavender, and Oak Jam

Hey All,

So today was supposed to be lazy.  Obviously that didn't happen.  Husbear had a friend and colleague over to work on the Whorse and I took the time to do something with the apples that have been copious again this year.

I scoured the web for recipes.  I found one for an apple and green tomato chutney, but the ingredients would have cost me an arm and a leg.  Continued digging and I found a recipe for a simple apple jam that I decided to doctor up and rebrand as Lavender, Appples, and Oak.

The base recipe:

3.5 lbs of apples, cored, cleaned of bug damage, and diced
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (the original called for 1 vanilla bean sliced and scoured, but I don't have such things)

I added a healthy handful of lavender buds and a bit of leftover red wine rich in oak to get the oak thing going.

I boiled all that together, macerated a bit, and sampled.  Husbear, company, and I all agreed, let's add something more.  Basil or bay leaf was the initial recommendation.  I ran out to the garden, cut a bit off my basil trees, yes they are that big right now, and mixed it in.  I hmmm'd for a minute and added a sprinkle of cinnamon, a sprinkle of cumin, and some salt.

The end product is amazing.  It's processing now.  Most recipes call for a 10 minute process, but I have found my jars seal better if I go for 20 min.

So into the pantries (company, neighbors, my own) to enjoy in the upcoming winter!

Lotsa Love,


Explaining the work basket - a fun idea if work is a drag!

Hey All,

So I made reference to the work basket of goodies.  This started as a contribution to everyone's well being at my office.  As you all know, my employment in the period 2010-2013 was especially rough.  I fought and I struggled, but I did make some awesome allies along the way.

One of them, on the north side of our cube farm, always had a full candy dish and a secret stash of amazing chocolate, if you knew where to look and/or asked nicely.  Safe to say we bonded over diva moments that required good chocolate.

A little light went off in my head.....  Sweet stuff to the north, savory to the south!  My cubicle is the furthest south in the building, and honestly, if I'm busy, I can be a bit of a bear to deal with.  Food and/or snacks somehow seem to make those interactions a bit less of a struggle.

I was a bit apprehensive about the cost of maintaining such a thing, but one day the co-worker with the chocolate and I went shopping.  I found a basket for $2 and was able to fill it with goodies for <$10.  I decided right then and there, the basket has a weekly maximum of $10 and would be filled with at least 3 different goodies.

As time has evolved, the basket has a few staples, and a few random things.  Staples include cracker packs, microwaveable popcorn, and granola bars.  This week, I scored on pretzel M&Ms, a personal favorite, and spicy pork rinds (another favorite).  Other random things have been Goldfish crackers, Sun Chips, those weird crackers with cheese and a plastic stick, sweet and spicy snack mix, etc.  Some weeks I can barely jam everything in there, other weeks it looks a bit sparse, but the treats are awesome.  Some weeks, if I've been especially productive in the kitchen, home baked goods make an appearance....I got swarmed the week that I brought in 2 dozen muffins.

Its always a fun little game to see what I can pack in there for $10 and it does great things for the morale of our cube farm and other staffers in the know.

If you do decide to do such a thing, I have 2 recommendations.  Have a set restock day, mine is always Monday or the first workday if I'm off, and have a set budget.  Unfortunately, the candy and chocolate basket has gone away due to the personal expense of keeping it stocked.  I've found that setting these boundaries does 2 things for me:  1) I don't fret when its empty mid-week, and 2) I never resent any potential overuse.

This particular exercise has brought both praise and derision from superiors.  Despite any nay-saying, supporting my team and colleagues feels pretty awesome.

As things in 2014 have turned to a much more enjoyable atmosphere, I'd like to say thanks to the co-workers who have enjoyed this.  Sometimes, that "Hey, this thing is a lifesaver", makes a pretty cruddy day feel not so bad.


Getting Ready for another week

Hey All,

So last week's planning paid off in big ways.  I found myself with plenty of evening time and my stress level, despite my employment's best efforts, were kept low while at home.

Here's a couple of photos to recap some of the highlights:

 This is the chicken salad sandwiches with the German Coleslaw and sweet patato tots.  Notice the big cup of fry sauce.  Fry sauce is a Utah favorite and also a favorite of mine.  Its really simple, 2 parts mayo, 1 part ketchup, and I always add a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce.  Fries without it is just wrong in my opinion.
This is the Hawaiian chicken with more coleslaw and a rice pilaf.  I buy dried soup veggies in bulk and add them in when cooking the rice.  The pilaf is really simple, cook rice like you normally would, adding enough bullion for the amount of water, and veggies to taste.  When I make Pilaf, I also add a good dose of oil, it makes it a bit slicker which I find more appealing.

The week ahead looks like it will be all about those recipes held close to the heart that have absolutely no measurement.  A bit of this, a dab of that, and viola, a meal.  Unfortunately, I am on call until midnight, working a bit from home, etc, so I didn't get to go play at a local festival.  I figure its a fair trade off since I'll be traveling all over the west coast in the next few weeks.  I may even have been coerced into making a trip to Sacramento in late October.  I never thought of Sacto as a destination, but why the heck not.....

So this week, I'm going to talk a bit more about the meals in general and how I'm going to preprep them.  Measurements are mostly by heart/taste, so use your imagination as best you can.

Meal 1:  Fajitas.  This is pretty straightforward.  For seasoning, I get the large jar of taco seasoning.  It will have well marinated top round cut into strips, bell peppers, mushrooms, onion, and tomatoes.  I don't think we have any sour cream on hand, so I'll substitute greek yogurt.  We are also blessed to live in "panaderias" according to judgmental maps.  It gives us access to amazing tortillas that you just can't get at the supermarket.  They are soft, flaky, and nearly translucent and don't overpower your food.

To prep this one.  I'll slice the steak and mix it with the tomatoes and taco seasoning and bag that up.  The veggies will be prepped and bagged separately.  When its time to cook, I just pull out the bags and cook them up.  Pretty no fuss!

Meal 2:  Chili.  Husbear makes this one.  He's perfected his chili over the years.  Things I do know about it:  Use good meat, like the top round used for the fajitas, don't make it too saucy, and cook it for a long time.  I got a good score on a corn muffin mix ($0.25 for a mix that makes 6-8 muffins).  Also reasonable price on locally made corn chips ($1.19 for a big bag, and I just found out I overpaid by $0.20, but I also didn't have to drive across town, so I'll call it even), so I'd say we're set to have a delicious meal.

To prep this one.  I learned from Melissa D'Arabian of Food Network fame that when making beans, make a huge pot and freeze what you don't use so you don't have to go through the headache of prepping beans all the time.  We'll put everything together in a crockpot and keep the crock in the fridge until the morning we are ready to start it.  Simmered on low all day, it is ready when we get home from the work day.  Easy peesy!

Meal 3:  Chipotle Chicken.  This is a recipe taught to us by my Father In-Law.  Its really tasty and easy to make ahead.  Combine 2 cups chicken stock (or 2 cups bullion reconstituted) and a small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in a blender.  Blend that together for a bit.  Strain out the seeds  and big matter.  I can't stress enough to strain that stuff out.  You will get a meal that is far to spicy for human consumption if you don't.  In a baking dish, slice a large onion.  White onions are recommended, but because I'm cheap, I use whatever costs the least.  If I'm making it for company, I definitely get a white onion as they tend to be a bit sweeter and break down during cooking.  Layer chicken (boneless skinless breasts or thighs recommended) on top of the onions.  Pour the stock and pepper sauce over the top, grate cheese over the top.  Bake covered at 350°F for 30 min, uncover and cook 10 or more minutes until the cheese browns.  We like this one with yellow rice.

To prep:  The chicken will be put together and kept covered in the fridge until ready to cook.

Meal 4:  Sausages with coleslaw and mustard.  So last week my tiny head of cabbage made a lot more coleslaw than I expected. What doesn't go better the coleslaw than sausages?  I always buy sausages when they are on sale and freeze them for easy meals.  The sausage gods had been especially kind over the last little bit, so we have 3 kinds to choose from.  A local hot smoke sausage, Aidell's chicken and apple, and Brats.  Keeping with German tradition, these will be lightly grilled and served with good mustard and coleslaw....never on a bun.  If I've got leftover bread, I'll serve it along side, but never put good sausage in the bun!

Meal 5:  Tuna and Noodles.  Ok, I'm not even going to take a stab at this one.  This is another one that Husbear makes.  It sounds like traditional casserole yuck, but he does it well.  We'll put this one together and also have it in the fridge, ready to cook.

A couple more weird musings from this week:

I want to try a tropical fruit salad.  I recently had a Hawaiian flavored e-liquid that has just a hint, its so subtle its hardly there, of dill.  It makes the tropical flavors totally pop.  I'm thinking pineapple, guava, a bit of mango, maybe some dragonfruit, maybe some starfruit, all mixed together in its own juices with a sprinkle of dill.  I'll likely go check out the produce at Global Supermarket.  They always seem to have intriguing tropical fruits.  I didn't know what a dragonfruit was until I saw one in person.  Also, if they have the yellow mangoes, get a bunch, they are over the top ripe and delicious by themselves or in anything using mango.  If you ask nice, they will often cut you one heck of a deal on the ones that are so ripe they are falling apart.  Oh and my brain just said, "Hey, see if they have those delicious giant coconut flakes, that'd be really good on top."

I need to revisit the thai peanut salad.  It was good and I've been having a hankering for it again.  I've also got a lot of peanuts leftover from Burning Man.

So there ya go, another week's worth of meals.  Oh and I must say, I'm proud as heck of the grocery bill this week.  $45, this includes $5 worth of snack goodies for the basket at work and a few dollars of breakfast add ons.  I'm not sure why I've been watching the budget, more than anything I get a kick out of making my home pretty awesome for cheaps.  So far for the month, excluding the week following Burning Man, which had a lot of dining out/order-in, we are at $100.

Have a great week!