Saturday, January 10, 2009

03 -The Darwin Awards III (Northcutt, Wendy)

#03 -The Darwin Awards III (Northcutt, Wendy)
Summary More stupid stories (nothing new)
Pages 272 pages
Rating 3/5
Comments love these books!

Saturday Meal Planning day!

So today is officially my meal planning day and Sunday is the grocery run day!

I have whipped up some easy excel spreadsheets to help with the meal planning and grocery shopping.

Now those who know me know that I live and die by my blackberry right now. I keep my grocery list on it and my meal plan. I also keep these things posted on the fridge.

So here is the plan for the week:

Sunday - beef dip leftovers
Monday - Tuna, brown rice, veggies, bean salad
Tuesday - Salmon, spaghetti, broccoli, peas
Wednesday -Chicken Dumpling Stoup
Thursday - Meatballs (freezer), spaghetti, veggies
Friday - Pulled Pork, rice & veggies
Saturday - Left overs (birthday party night)

There you have it a week of meals and we have almost all of the ingredients so shopping should be relatively easy.

On that note I have started to make an inventory of the cupboards upstairs already - I got one down (my large upper corner cabinet with 4 different types of rice!) So we are well on our way!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

More easy suppers because of a lack of planning

Yes so the meal planning part is not coming together that easily and I have no idea why.

Nonetheless are continuing to eat at home. Unfortunately today my husband is sick and at home which means he will be in charge of making supper. So to make life easy on him we are having another crockpot meal.

For those who may be asking - yes I think the crockpot is an essential part of ANY kitchen and a must for anyone who work full time or has children. The preparation for crockpot food is usually so simple and the results are usually hard to mess up.

A few pointers:
  1. try to avoid lifting the lid, you loose essential heat every time that the lid is lifted,
  2. in a pinch use high heat, other than that keep you pot on the lowest setting and cook for the longest possible time;
  3. use the cheapest cuts of meat you can find (I am taking inside round beef the tough awful meat) and cook these for a long time in the broth/water mixture and they come out moist and tender;
  4. ALWAYS make sure that there is sufficient liquid in your pot (use either broth or water) I always make sure that at least my meat is covered and that the pot is 3/4 full; and,
  5. save up and buy two of them (I have a small 3 quart and a large 5 quart one and use them frequently).
Yes, I would highly recommend having two of them. Now I don't fancy ones that you can control the actual temperature on, or that you can have it auto switch to keep warm. I have regular turn the dial ones.

NOW - why have two? well for example the Pulled Pork from yesterday was done in the large one. I have also used that large one to cook two of the large loins from Costco for a friend of mine when we were preparing food for after her baby was born. However, the pot is way to large to cook chili for just me, the husband and kidlet.

I also find the crockpots extremely useful around the holidays. For example, this year at thanksgiving, Christmas and last year I used both of my crockpots. The night before either of the events I made French Onion Soup and then let it simmer all nigth long on a keep warm setting (it is boiling hot - trust me! I burnt my tounge testing it). Then in the smaller crockpot I will cook the ham. (easy - buy one of the black forest ham, cut diagonal lines and insert full cloves, add enough water to cover 1/2 of the ham, then add a little bit of 7-up (non-diet), and some splenda brown sugar, cover, baste every hour). The benefit you can put it on at any time and it saves room in the oven for the turkey!

Now that I have confessed my love for my crockpots on to the food. I sent him instructions to make beef dip. If you are trying to cut down on expenses, this is a very cost effective way to get a nice beef to use on a sandwich - much cheaper than deli meats and makes a mean sandwhich.

Standard Beef Dip Recipe
1 cup soya sauce
6 cups water
3 bay leaves
ground pepper
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 clove minced garlic
4 lbs of beef

Instructions: throw everything into the crockpot, turn on low, cover and wait 6 hours (or longer) for tasty beef. The meat should literally just fall apart when you are trying to take it out. The sauce you can save and use for dipping or just skip it all together. This meat also freezes well in ziplock bags.

Now because we are trying to be more health concious we made the following changes:
- used 1/4 soya sauce
- used 4 cups low sodium beef broth (in the tetra pack)
- used 2 cups of water
- 1 tsp minced ginger

Because we were short on time my husband cooked the meat in 3 hours on high so it was a little tough. But we did a second roast that night as well. The Meat in total cost us about $18.00 and it served two full suppers and we had enough left overs frozen for three or four lunches. However, because of time we bought the meat from a higher priced store. Normally it would have cost closer to $10.00 (inside beef round). Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures but it was definitely tasty!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Picture of the Day - January 7

My two most important accessories my water bottle for Crystal Light Lemon Aide and my blackberry.

Pulling the hair out and pulling the pork.

So tonight we had a get together the entire family (my brother, his girlfriend, my parents, my husband & daughter, my basically adopted sister, her husband and son).

But the kicker - the real smart part - I was making supper that evening for everyone but we were eating at my parents house.... on a week night... right after I got off from work.

Now you may be asking yourself "who's brilliant idea was this?" The unfortunate answer is "Mine"

Matters get worse once you find out that my Dad has celiac which means no gluten (wheat, barley, rye and usually oats depending on their processing facility).

So I went with an easy standby -

Pulled Pork.

the recipe is very simple:

1 tbsp oil (I use less and a non-stick pan)
2 chopped onions
6 minced garlic cloves (or about 1 tbsp)
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
12 oz chili sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vinegar (cider is recommended)
1 tbsp Worcestershire
3 lbs. Pork

(*my modifications to this: I usually use a large pork loin from Costo - about $23.00, I use splenda brown sugar to cut on calories, and I use one XL white onion to save on chopping and then I double the entire recipe and put it in my large crockpot).

Saute the onions in the oil until soft.

Add garlic, chili powder, and pepper and cook another minute or so.

Add chili sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. Heat till boiling stirring constantly.

Put the pork shoulder in the crockpot and pour the sauce over it. Cover and cook on low 12 hours or on high 6 hours, until pork is basically falling apart. (Longer never hurts.) Shred the meat with a pair of forks and return to the pot and keep warm in the sauce. Serve over buns.

(unfortunatley I didn't get a picture of the final product) but we served this, mashed potatoes and some veggies for supper and people were not left hungry (for 8 adults and 2 children).

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Picture of the Day - January 6

Noses between Daughter & Father

Monday, January 5, 2009

#02 - The Darwin Awards: Detailing the Idiotic Lengths to Which Men will go for Sex (Northcutt, Wendy) (Northcutt, Wendy)

#02 - The Darwin Awards: Detailing the Idiotic Lengths to Which Men will go for Sex (Northcutt, Wendy) (Northcutt, Wendy)
Summary: more short stories of stupid people!
Pages: Unsure
Rating: 4/5
Comments: Good read on the bus or while waiting anywhere.

Picture of the Day - January 5

Meatball Sundays!

So yesterday was spent making meatballs! It took a while but it was totally worth it in the end.

Here is what I used:
  • 1 large package of ground beef (about 6 lbs)
  • 1 large package of ground pork (about 6 lbs)
  • 1 dozen large eggs
  • 1 1/2 containers of bread crumbs
  • fresh nutmeg
  • italian seasoning (Club house I think)
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Crushed garlic
  • Crushed Ginger 
  • Misqute Seasoning
  • 1 bag of onions finely diced

Then I did one batch at a time: I mixed about a pound of Ground beef and Pork, one onion, two eggs, about 1 1/2 cups of bread crumbs, some freshly grated nutmeg and then a bunch of the other stuff (just a sprinkle of the Paprika), about two palm fulls of the Italian stuff and two teaspoons of the garlic and ginger.. Mixed all together made balls and then fully cooked.

Cooled, then put them into freezer bags - we got about 15 bags of 8 balls (plus we have another large bag of meatballs in the fridge!

So we have I would guess about 20 meals worth of meatballs - and my total cost was about $40. BUT my Italian seasoning is only about 1/4 used (I got the large one from Costco) and still have some bread crumbs, garlic and ginger left!


Picture of the Day - January 4th

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The great food debate!

So I am on an online forum and have been reading some tips for healthy snacking ideas. I just wanted to share my personal insight (or beliefs) into healthy snacking. 

First someone recommended the following:
I would also say any yoghurt at all, especially ones with minimal or no sweetening (I don't think those artificial sweeteners are very good).

I also like apple slices and cheese. (Granny Smith apples and cheddar cheese is the best ever.)

I would watch the yogurt - while you may not like artificial sweetener mini yogurts are extremely high in sugar.

I believe that 5 g of sugar = 1 tbsp of sugar in a product

May not seem like a lot but when you consider the calorie count in most mini yogurts it is not worth it.

For example my daily snacks are like this
1 apple, 1 peach, 1 necterine are 300 calories (~100 each)
1 diet yogurt (usually go with splenda) (35 calories)
1 mini bag of popcorn (100 calories)

= total of 435 calories or roughly 1/3 of my daily caloric intake guide (I am for 1200 to 1500 calories a day.

The extra 100 calories from the snack bags or from a small yogurt isn't worth it especially when the yogurt isn't that filing so you are very likely to eat something else along with it.

As for apple and cheese - hard cheese is much higher in saturated fat

From the this website 
Cheese is a concentrated source of calories and saturated fat. Cheese made from whole milk generally contains 80-120 calories, 6-10 grams of fat (4-6 grams saturated fat) per ounce. An ounce of cheese is about the size of a pair of dice.

Soft cheeses are lower in calories and saturated fat - I usually get my cheese fix by using fetta cheese or shredded cheese on my salad for lunch (lots of cheese yumminess but cuts the overall amount you eat)

Second someone recommended:
Frozen blueberries with skim milk

Coolwhip non fat (the green container) It seriously makes me not feel like I am on a diet ( have it on Jello for a better treat(like 0 points), or berries if you need some points/calories

Almonds are an easy way to get a good fat in

apples sliced, sprinkle cinnamon and put in the microwave for 30 sec. Tastes like apple pie without the crust (yum!)

I totally agree with the above!! I love the non-fat or low-sugar foods!


I would make wraps for wraps with 1 tablespoon of cream cheese spread out and dill pickles is so good and takes the edge off between meals. 

I stay away from wraps entirely! they are no more healthy for you than two slices of bread! Next time you are out at the store - compare the fat, calories, sodium, carbs and sugar (we focus on that plus fiber)

A single wrap has as many calories as two regular slices of bread and personally I find a slice of bread more filing than a wrap.

So one of my thoughts on eating now is to compare the calories on the food but also how filing something is because that affects how much other food I will eat.

For example -
100 calories worth of Carrots (about 10 oz of carrots) vs. yogurt
the Carrots will fill me and I am likely to eat less. the Yogurt while tasty is not filing and I will eat something else.

1 wrap vs. 2 slices of bread
Does not matter how full the wrap is I will feel more full from a slice of bread vs. the wrap. So what i do is eat my "wrap" filling stuff as a salad (cobb salad) and then add more filing aspects to it (pine nuts, dried unsweetened cranberries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sliced almonds) That is my usual lunch.