Friday, March 22, 2019

Friday Food: Thrifty Fun


Short version: Macaroni and cheese, green peas

Long version: The last time I made macaroni and cheese was pretty dismal, so I decided to actually follow a recipe this time. I screwed it up in multiple ways, but it still came out well. I started out making half a recipe, but then when it came time to cook the pasta I dumped in the whole pound, and then I had not enough sauce, so I added a little bit of extra milk after I had already assembled the casserole.

I was using homemade sourdough bread instead of white sandwich bread for the bread crumbs, so I should have made much smaller crumbs and used a lot more butter for them. They were kind of dry. Also, I only had store-brand sharp cheddar and some mild cheddar, so I wasn't starting with the greatest quality ingredients.

But like I said, it still came out well. Cubby asked me whose recipe it was. I said it was Martha Stewart's. He asked if I had her address because he wanted to write to her and tell her how delicious the macaroni and cheese is.

Perhaps Martha Stewart might actually enjoy receiving such a letter? Just don't tell her what a mess I made of her recipe.


Short version: Cube steak in gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans

Long version: Cubby and Charlie returned this day from their trip. They spent the day before hiking the Guadalupe Peak Trail. Guadalupe Peak is the highest peak in Texas. The trail is 8.4 miles, rated "strenuous," and there's an elevation gain of about 3,000 feet.

They did the whole thing. THE WHOLE THING. Charlie, may I remind you, is six years old. I didn't even want to do that kind of hiking when I was sixteen years old. (Just ask my dad.)

He said it was fun, but cold. I should think it's pretty much always cold at almost 9,000 feet above sea level.

Anyway. I thought after all that exertion I'd better make something pretty hearty. So I cut up cube steaks into, um, cubes, browned them, simmered them with garlic, then made a gravy with milk and cornstarch. I also added some balsamic vinegar and already-cooked chopped onion I had hanging around at the end. It was okay, but it did kind of remind me of Salisbury steak.


Short version: Bunless hamburgers, rice, roasted sweet potatoes/onions/cabbage, vanilla pudding

Long version: You can tell this was St. Patrick's Day because I added cabbage to my roasted vegetable mixture, and also gave the children--who do not like roasted vegetables, the weirdos--wedges of raw cabbage for their vegetable. I'm at least half Irish, and A. has quite a bit of Irish ancestry too, so I felt I should acknowledge that with cabbage.

I also planted some cabbage starts this day. I thought it was appropriate, even though much of this cabbage will probably be used for sauerkraut. I also have German ancestry.

I would have made potatoes, too, but A. planted the rest of my bag of potatoes, so rice it was.

I had already planned on making pudding when I stopped in at the tiny store in the village after church to get a gallon of milk. The guy running it gave me the two gallons he had left for free because they had reached their "best by" date the day before. He said he was glad I came in, because with "all those young 'uns" he was sure it wouldn't go to waste. Nope, sure didn't. I used most of one gallon to make a double batch of pudding and froze the other to make yogurt with next week. The young 'uns were very happy with their pudding.


Short version: Cheese omelets, use-it-up rice dish

Long version: Usually when I make eggs for dinner, they're scrambled, because that's the easiest and quickest way to cook as many eggs as I need to make for this horde. This time, I decided to indulge Cubby's dislike of scrambled eggs and make cheese omelets. I made three omelets with five eggs each, and was reminded anew why I don't make omelets for dinner. It took like half an hour. What a pain.

I was amused by the variety of egg sizes in the eggs I most recently got from Jack's preschool teacher. A few of them were huge. Not double-yolked, either, just huge eggs.

That's one overachieving hen.

The rice dish was one of those pleasing things that uses up a multitude of random bits and pieces. The last three pieces of bacon, diced and fried; plus about a quarter cup of partially-cooked onion from a couple of days before when I needed only a tiny amount of onion for tuna salad but didn't want to store the rest of the raw onion in the refrigerator; plus the rest of the carrot sticks from A. and Charlie's road trip (diced); plus a little bit of collard greens that I hacked off the frozen chunk in the freezer; plus some green peas and the leftover rice.

It was quite tasty, except oversalted because the little metal pourer on the salt container fell right out as I was doing the final seasoning, resulting in the salt rushing out a little too fast. Whoops. It was still good, though. Everyone had seconds and the entire (full) skillet was eaten.

I also used the rather water-logged cheese left in the cooler that A. brought home from their trip for the omelets. I am totally in the running for Thrifty Homemaker of the Year.


Short version: Indecisive steaks, fried potatoes, green beans

Long version: I took out a big pork roast from the freezer on Monday, congratulating myself for taking it out to thaw ahead of time so I wasn't dealing with my usual almost-totally-frozen chunk of pork situation when it was time to cook it.

But then I thought, "Wait. We just had eggs. I should save the pork for when we've had beef for like five nights in a row and I need a break from the cow."

So then I took out some ground beef because Cubby has been requesting shepherd's pie.

But then I thought, "Wait. I have that duck fat I need to use up. I need to fry some potatoes. But I don't want to make hamburgers again."

So I took out some steaks. They were really good, as were the potatoes. Those I thinly sliced on the mandoline side of my box grater--a hated task--then put in the skillet with the duck fat, salt, and pepper, cooked them covered on medium heat until they were almost done, then turned the heat up to brown them some more.

I had planned to make a vegetable requiring more prep work than frozen green beans, but just before I was going to start cooking, I got pinned in my chair by a double nap situation.

I elected to sit there and let them sleep rather than get up to prep vegetables. I have no regrets.


Short version: Barbecue meatballs, garlic bread, roasted broccoli/cauliflower/onion

Long version: A. left in the afternoon this day for a trip to New York. I would normally use his absence as an opportunity to make grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner and call it a meal. However. I had all that meat in the refrigerator. So the kids got lucky and had meatballs for dinner instead.

I save pieces of sourdough bread for bread crumbs--mostly the end pieces--which are still pretty coarse even after going through the food processor. Therefore, I make sure to soak them for at least five minutes in milk to soften them, then I squish them with my hands before I add the rest of the ingredients (in this case, ground beef, eggs, diced and sauteed onion because I loathe bits of raw onion in meatballs, salt, pepper, and garlic powder). The bread crumbs incorporate much better this way.

I made the garlic bread because I was baking bread anyway right before dinner, so I once again stole some dough to make a loaf of garlic bread. This time I kneaded some garlic powder and extra salt right into the dough instead of just putting it on top with the butter, and it was much better that way.

The broccoli and cauliflower was already-prepared florets in a plastic bag labeled "steam in bag." No. Never. Much healthier to cook it in a cast-iron skillet in the oven.

It was a very visually appealing meal.

A steamed plastic bag of vegetables would not have the same aesthetic value.


Short version: Flank steak, Miss Amelia's chicken rice, green salad

Long version: Miss Amelia gave me some rice she said she had made with leftover chicken. It was short grain rice that had been cooked so long it was kind of like mush. She cooks on a woodburning stove, so I think everything gets cooked a long time.


It was pretty bland, so I added some Parmesan cheese and lots of pepper. It was okay, but I think I'll use the rest for a soup base.

I marinated the steak in a balsamic vinaigrette that I also used for the salad. Not that I put the marinade from the raw meat over the salad; I just saved some for the salad. But I'm sure you didn't think I would do something like that, right? Right.

Wait! We can't have a Friday Food post without a picture of the baby! This is the only recent one I have.

Blurry baby eating bread and butter in her room with no pants on. What a life.

Okay, your turn! What'd you eat this week?


Anonymous said...

I'm impressed! Charlie hiked the whole way! And he's only six!
Saturday - chicken divan casserole, kale salad
Sunday - out after church, so cheese, crackers, pickles, pepperoni
Monday - zucchini pizza, sautéed broccoli & yellow squash
Tuesday - a casserole similar to the tuna casserole you made - I used canned chicken, rice, onion, bacon, celery, broccoli, mayo & cheese & bagels on the side
Wednesday - crockpot chicken breast, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, garlic & asparagus
on the side
Thursday - husband bought subs from a co-worker whose son was selling them as a fundraiser for something, kale salad, chips
Friday - not sure

mil said...

Last night I we ate roast pork with parsnips browned in butter and mashed potatoes. Plus a nice bottle of wine. A. finished off the rest of the nourishment I had made him (I ate one spoonful; it was good because I had gotten heavy cream from Hillcrest). I ate some steaks and cabbage and potatoes earlier in the week, plus an omelet one night. The old green chair has seen plenty of naps and plenty of kids; that pic would have warmed Great-grandfather Post's already warm heart.

Anonymous said...

Love the pic with you and your cute

Week three on our vegitarian quest.

Monday - potato and cheese pierogies topped with a touch of butter and pepper, greens and tomato salad with dressing of choice

Tuesday - spring rolls (homade) with hoisin dipping sauce, broiled pineapple that I soaked in coconut milk and then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar...yum

Wednesday - baked yams topped with butter honey and cashews, sauted sugar peas and peppers

Thursday - grilled eggplant tomato and mozzarella on toasted baguette sandwiches, roasted potatoes

Friday - making split pea soup (without the ham bone...well see how it turns out) have some bread from the bakery that I'm thinking well make toasted cheese bread with

Husband actually went along with the whole veggie thing this week without squawking about meat..I suspect a double bacon cheese burger is going to happen Very soon

Gemma's person said...

What could be better than a child blanket.