Friday, November 30, 2012

Chicken Two: Two Different Meals With One Cooking Night

Chicken Parmesan
   In an effort to clear out any space in the freezer, I defrosted a three pound bag of chicken breasts.  Usually  I buy chicken on the bone since I can find a decent sale price, but I bought the big back to be convenient for camping season. With summer over it is time to cook up these birds.

   I planned to make Chicken Parm.  I made breadcrumbs out of oatmeal mixed with some Italian seasoning and garlic powder.  I sliced the chicken thin, dipped it in the egg and breadcrumbs and into the olive oil it went.     I made a few pans full, so I stored the extra in the oven to keep warm.
There's a whole lotta chicken cooking.

   As the chicken sizzled, I put the spaghetti water on to boil and made a salad.  I topped one skillet of chicken with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.  The rest of the chicken was for another meal.  Before cooking, I cut some of the chicken in smaller chicken strips.  Just don't tell the kids their chicken nuggets are really naked Chicken Parm leftovers.

We'll set these aside for nugget night.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Deep Thaw: Time to Defrost The Freezer

The freezer is full!
    My freezer is packed to the gills or rather the wings since I have a plethora of poultry. In case you have been on the edge of your seat wondering if I bought the extra freezer contemplated on in  The Big Chill, I have not. I know I could buy that extra chest freezer and find a place for it in the basement. However,  since I bought these turkey burgers for a summer camping trip I think it is time to clean out the freezer.

    My main motivation for the weeding of the freezer isn't so much that I'm concerned about freezer burn.  It has to do with the sales circular.  I keep hearing about great sales and specials from my couponing friend and there is no where to store the stuff.

   Okay so here we go.  I am not buying any more meat until we free up the freezer.  I bet we can get a week's worth of meals using up what we have on hand. First night is turkey burgers.  I will defrost the chicken too for the next day.  I usually buy whole chickens or thighs.  I got the big bag of breasts again to make it easier for the camping trip.

   Stand by for some creative meals.  I may have to stop at the store for some milk or bread, but dinner is coming from the freezer this week.  Brr! I better get started!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Inside the Box: It's In the Bag

       My September posts focused on packing school lunch.  I mentioned healthy snacksmoney saving sandwiches, and even the lunch box itself.  It's time to unzip and take a look inside the lunch box.  I am not a fan of sandwich bags.  I know they are convenient, but it just seems wasteful to me.  Especially as it wastes my time to have to drive to the store to buy more of them.  I was using Gladware and Tupperware boxes, until I found a product I like better.

Open up and slip a sandwich in.
   Save It Bags are reusable sandwich and snack bags made with custom fabric covers and a wipeable liner.  They are very easy to clean. Once a week I throw them in the laundry.  I meant to air dry them, but found out they are dryer safe when I forgot to pull them out.
Turn it inside out for a quick wipe down.

     My kids love them.  They are space saving and don't squish other foods, preventing surprising messes. We have Star Wars, camouflage, flowers and hedge hogs.  I just purchased these for an upcoming birthday party.
Adorable Hello Kitty Save It Bags

     The adjustable Velcro makes them great for carrying a cell phone or electronic device.  They also make a cute make up bag.  I'm looking forward to purchasing more bags for my Christmas list. They are a great product, made locally. They are available through craft fairs and online.  

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thank Goodness: Reflections on Gratitude

     We were off to the library for Lego Club today.  They get a different theme to inspire their building each time.  Today's theme was: build something you are thankful for.

     When they are finished, they can share what they have made.  Our librarian takes a picture and asks them about their project. My son tends to not want to speak up in front of the group, but boy does he like Legos.

What are you thankful for?

     He made what he is thankful for, his house and his parents.  The black stepped Legos are smoke coming from the chimney.  Since we had plenty of time left, he decided to add his tree fort that he built with Dad this summer.

     I am thankful for an awesome kid who has gratitude for the simple things in life.  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I'm Not Dreaming Of a Pink Christmas:Holidays Outside the Box

What will be under the tree this year?

     It's time to start thinking about Christmas shopping.  No, I don't mean before the turkey is digested. What do the kids want this year?  Well in my house instead of making a list for Santa we make one for Grandma since we have our celebration at Grandma and Grandpa's house before the big day in December.

     We asked the kids to make a Christmas wish list by circling items from an ad.  I have never been impressed with the overpriced, plastic items that come out this time of year.  I know kids want the "top toy" of the year, but do they actually play with it when the new year comes?
     I know I really shouldn't get started on how the massive consumerism of the holiday drives me up the wall.  I never realized until I had kids that I would feel torn buying gifts for those who have plenty when the money could go to those who don't have enough. I look at all the toys, games, and books we already have and wonder why we need to add to it! I don't need to be a Scrooge to my kids though and I know they will enjoy the presents and be thankful. 

     Now my oldest is easy to shop for.  He wants Legos and plenty of them.  He also likes Star Wars.  There are a number of items in these two categories that are age appropriate and I am sure he will put to good use and continue to play with throughout the year.

     My daughter is the one that has me stumped.  In the words of my son, "When I walk down the pink aisle in the toy department, it makes me want to throw up." Now don't get me wrong we have a dollhouse and babies, but I never covered her toys in pink.  She joined in with her brother at the tool bench and trains.  I had no problem with her brother playing with her toys either.  I just didn't think that every item marketed to girls must be dipped in pink.  She could play with a red car or blue stove.

  Also her age is giving me trouble this year.  I am very used to buying her preschool age toys and now that she has started school I would like something that will grow with her.  She is very energetic so an active toy would be great.  She loves to draw making art supplies a welcome addition. What do you buy for a five year old girl for Christmas?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Hats Off To Thanksgiving: Fun and Easy Crafts for Kid Company

   Okay so you've cleaned the house, shopped for all the ingredients, and baked up a storm.  Now that your turkey is in the oven and the parade is over, what are you going to do with your company?  I'm not talking about the adults.  They will be happy to pick at appetizers and gab, but the little ones are starting to run up and down the hallway.

   It's time to break out the craft supplies.  My children were very lucky to have the day before Thanksgiving off from school.  They were even happier to get to spend the day with their buddies.  After I read them Thanksgiving at the Tappleton's by Eileen Spinelli, they were ready to get their hands busy with a Thanksgiving project.
   Since it was short notice, I had not run to the store for turkey stickers or feathers.  I suggested we make toilet paper tube napkin rings.  They would wrap the tube with plain paper, glue the paper to the tube  and draw a turkey or pilgrim for a little decorative touch to your meal.
Here's your supplies, and go!

   The children had their own ideas.  Armored with paper, glue, scissors and markers they created their own pilgrim hats.  All I had to do was fetch a few supplies and they were happy to create away.  They even stapled bands around the hats by helping each other. Once everyone was decked out they were ready to have their own Thanksgiving parade!
A hat for every head.

   If you are expecting little ones at your feast, don't panic.  Grab a few sheets of paper out of the printer, markers or crayons, and the stapler and you can keep them busy while they have some holiday fun!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

10 Terrific Meals Using Thanksgiving Turkey

Delicious Chef/Cobb Salad
    Once we have cleared the table, there's no need to go cold turkey!  There are lots of ways to re-invent the bird to make it a whole new meal.  You can make your own Thanksgiving t.v. dinner to have the next day. You may want to tuck some of that delicious dark meat in the freezer to keep for one of these great recipes.  

    My new favorite is the Turkey Chef/Cobb salad.  I made a combination between a chef salad and a Cobb salad using turkey and ham with avocado.  It was delicious and a very different presentation for lunch than the usual leftover turkey.

   Another suggestion made to me was turkey pot pie.  Using refrigerator dough, through those bits of meat and leftover veggies together with the leftover gravy to make a hearty meal.  Skip the the gravy and you can fold up individual calzones or homemade hot pockets to store in the freezer for a later lunch.

   One night I whipped up a turkey stroganoff using Laughing Cow cheese and mushrooms served over egg noodles.  Turkey casserole is a yummy combination of rice, broccoli, and bits of turkey.  I skip the cream of mushroom soup and opt for plain yogurt.

   Making new meals out of the holiday leftovers will make you thankful for less trips to the grocery store!   The only thing left to do now with the turkey is make a wish!  

1. Hot turkey and gravy over bread

2. Turkey Club

3. Turkey Cobb Salad

4. Turkey Soup

5. Turkey Stroganoff

6. Turkey Salad Sandwich

7. Thanksgiving Plate

8. Turkey Casserole 

9. Turkey Quiche

10. Turkey Pot Pie


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sensational Sequels

    I have lost count of how many times I have heard people say, "I just don't like leftovers."  Poor, poor leftovers, nobody wants them.  They pack them up in Tupperware just to throw them out when the fuzz starts to creep up the lid.  I say, "No more!"  We must take our leftover food and use it for good and not science experimentation.

    Leftovers need an image makeover.  I am going to start marketing them as sequels.  Is that leftover chicken? No honey, that is Chicken the Sequel: Night of the Nuggets.

   One of my favorite ways to use up leftovers is soup.  Just about any meat and vegetable can be thrown in the pot for a fantastic meal. All month long I will be bringing you more ideas to help you transform those unwanted bits into a new meal.

   Using leftovers is a great way to stretch the budget.  You can dish up leftovers for lunch instead of eating out. You can make a whole new meal by adding a few inexpensive ingredients.  This is great for when you find a sale and stock up.  Leftovers also help lessen your time in the meal prep department.  The trick is variety.  We can't eat the same meal days in a row.  Sometimes you have to take what is left and freeze it for another day when it will be appreciated again.

   What are your favorite uses for leftovers?  Stay tuned for my reruns, I mean sequels coming soon in my kitchen!