Food

Zester/Grater Review

crop_0fe4d57b56d31eca7d4e92d3b855c5286a7aecc7f04995cc1c97d24b3802eecb3e345c2c250250I’ve always wanted a zester/grater, but never had one until now.  I got the Best Premium Zester Grater from Smarty Pants Supplies.  I’m pretty much in love with it!
You can use this Zester to …
– Grate Parmesan cheese over soups and salads
– Add chocolate garnish to a chocolate-drizzled angel food cake
– Mince hot peppers to make a spicy guacamole for game day
– Grate lemons, limes, and oranges to add zest to pesto sauce, dressing, pound cake, and more
– Create an enticing marinade for seafood, chicken, and meat

And the best part is, the Best Premium Zester Grater is safe, easy-to-use, and a breeze to clean up.
– Super thick handle for a safe, comfortable grip – it just “feels right”!
– Extra long, 8 inch stainless steel blade means your zest is the perfect length every time!
– Toss it into the dishwasher when you’re done for easy clean up!
– Durable, built-to-last design is backed by a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee

 
I, of course, am a huge fan of the fact that there is the 100% satisfaction guarantee, and I love the stainless steel blade.  I made some soup the other day and decided to liven it up a bit with some lemon zest.  Yum!lemonzest on sopu

I’m such a geek about wanting to make my food look pretty lately.  I’ve never really cared before, but with the new diet I’m doing, I need to liven thins up every chance I get – it makes it more enjoyable to behave, ha ha!

 
*No monetary compensation was received. I received the product in exchange for an honest review. The opinions are mine alone.

Save Money While Cooking

With the prices of food going up (always!), it’s good to find ways to stretch things, if you can.  Fortunately, there are a lot of different ways to make the grocery budget stretch.  It seems that I learn new ideas every month, and I love it!  Need a few ideas?  Here are some of my newest favorite ways to make that grocery budget last a little longer:

 

  • rouxI make gravy after cooking meat in the saucepan.  Every time.  I sprinkle some bean flour in to thicken, and then I pour some water or homemade chicken stock into the pan, along with some onion powder and sea salt, to take advantage of the delicious drippings and bits left in the pan after cooking. You could also add milk or cream if you choose.  Meat is expensive, and so is the olive oil I’ll usually cook my meat in, and I’m not about to let any of it go to waste!  I’ll sometimes use it as a gravy, sometimes as a thickener in a soup later.

 

  • I put a filler in my ground meat.  Every time.  Whether I’m having pan fried hamburgers or meatballs, or taco meat, etc, I always add fillers.  Usually I’ll add an egg or two, but not always.  Sometimes it’s mashed potato flakes, sometimes it’s pureed beans, sometimes it’s leftover rice.  Anything to bulk that meat out is welcome.

 

  • Pop your own popcorn, instead of using the microwave popcorn packets.  Sometimes I’ll put 1/2 cup of dry popcorn kernels in a paper lunch bag and microwave it like that, and sometimes I’ll pop it over the stove in coconut oil with a little sea salt – yum!  It’s generally quite a bit healthier doing it that way as well.

popcorn

  • If you make smoothies or banana bread or things like that, no need to buy full priced bananas.  At a few of my local stores, the overripe bananas are available for sale at a nice discount.  I’m going to freeze bananas anyway for my banana smoothie, so I buy the discounted ones and freeze the entire batch immediately.  I used to buy the regular-priced bananas and then when they got brown I’d freeze them.  No more.  Now I just buy ‘em brown and save that extra cash.

 

  • imagesEat leftover rice.  This tip is from my husband.  I told him that I’ve already shared recipes for this particular tip (HERE and HERE), and he quickly replied, “how about eat leftover mashed potatoes?”  Let me sum the whole thing up for you, dear….how about we all just eat leftover FOOD in general?  ha ha.  I had a good laugh and enjoyed making fun of him. :)  I suppose it IS a good point, anyway.  In fact, you can donate a night to leftovers.  One less meal to plan for the week.

 

  • Home make your snacks.  I no longer buy chips or crackers…this is mostly due to health concerns, but it’s definitely saved money.  When I want a crunchy snack, I reach for my homemade roasted chickpeas.  And these I NEVER make from the canned chickpeas – oh no, I cook them dry and then roast them.  Using dry beans is so much more economical, and I like being able to control the sodium.  The same goes for many snacks – cook your own plantain chips, your own potato chips, your own popcorn (as I mentioned above), etc.  Tastier, generally healthier, and cheaper!

 

  •  Stick with the basics.  My diet is fairly predictable, perhaps even boring.  Every week includes at least one leftover night.  We always have a breakfast or taco night.  And you know what?  That’s okay!  If I ate the nice steak on a regular basis, it wouldn’t be very special anymore, now would it?  We definitely do our best to get a variety when it comes to produce, but we also buy in season, which means for the next few months we’ll be eating a lot more oranges.  Predictable?  Yep.  Frugal?  Yep again!

 

Of course, there are dozens of other great ways to save money in the kitchen.  What is your tried and true tip?

 

Gluten Free Crunchy Chicken Bites

Crunch to the crunch, baby.

 

I love a good crunch to my chicken “nuggets”.  It’s something I had to give up over the summer when I started on my anti-inflammatory diet.    Well, in the last 2 months I’ve been allowed to slowly add new foods back into my diet, one at a time.  And while nuts are allowed, they just weren’t giving me the classic crunch I was looking for.

Crunchy Chicken Bites

So I cheated.

 

Actually, not TOTALLY.  As of this week, I am officially allowed to test out foods of my choosing.  But instead of picking a one-ingredient food, I chose to test out Rice Chex.

 

I know, I’m a cheater.  But oh, I SO enjoyed it!  I made me some CRUNCHY chicken, baby!  Dipped the chicken pieces in some gluten free flour, then in some egg, and then in the finely crushed Rice Chex pieces.  Fried those puppies up and enjoyed them thoroughly.  This is most definitely a “sometimes” food, as Cookie Monster says.  But man oh man, I’ll definitely enjoy it when sometimes comes!

 

Gluten Free Crunchy Chicken Bites

Ingredients

  • 1lb Chicken breast (cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup gluten free flour (I used buckwheat)
  • 1 cup Rice Chex (crushed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Coconut or Olive oil (for cooking)

Directions

Step 1
Get out 3 separate bowls. In the first, mix the flour and seasonings. In the second, beat the egg. In the third, add the crushed Rice Chex.
Step 2
Heat olive oil or coconut oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
Step 3
Dip chicken pieces first in flour mixture, and then in egg mixture, and finally in the Rice Chex. Add to the hot pan and cook for about 2 minutes per side, or until the chicken is cooked through. It'll be crispy and delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Menu Monday and Weekly Goals – Thanksgiving Week!

I’m so, SO much more excited for Thanksgiving this year than usual!  It’s all for lame, selfish reasons, too.  But hey, I’d rather be excited than not!

 

First of all, I’ve been cleared by my doctor to make some rolls for myself.  Granted, they have to be gluten/dairy free, but there are still tons more ingredients that I haven’t been previously allowed!  Yay for sometimes foods!!

 

Second, Thanksgiving week equals a 2-day work week.  I’m absolutely thrilled! :D

 

Lastly, we’ve got some family from out of town coming in to spend the holiday.  It will be so awesome to see them all!  Especially my cute little nieces.  I just love ‘em.

 

With this excitement mounding, I’m actually feeling motivated enough to create a menu plan for the week.  Like always, I keep all of MY personal meals gluten free, and therefore, most of the family’s.  I’ll sometimes give them a gluten-filled option, like a side of toast or something, but for dinner we’re usually pretty strict.  Here’s the plan:

 

picmonkey-1024x579Monday: Tostadas (corn tortillas fried in olive oil, topped with lettuce, beans, chicken, salsa, etc)

TuesdayHomemade Taco Bowls (use leftover beans and toppings from Monday)

Wednesday: Fried Rice with Veggies (use leftover rice from Tuesday)

Thursday: Thanksgiving meal

Friday: Leftover night (probably turkey, potatoes and pie, right?)

Saturday: Creamy White Chicken Chili (with leftover turkey instead of chicken)

SundayQuinoa-Crusted Chicken

 

 

As for the goals, well, I was able to get everything done last time I set some weekly goals.  The plan for this week isn’t anything grand, but I’m thinking baby steps are the best way to achieve the big stuff anyway:

  • Start new blog – My daughter wants to start a review site with me, where we’ll share our thoughts on fun, girly stuff:  hairstyles, beauty treatments, and products…you know, that type of stuff!
  • Post a movie review and giveaway (keep your eyes peeled!)
  • Go over November budget numbers.

Have a great week, everyone, and have a safe and happy holiday weekend for those in the U.S.!

Menu Monday and Weekly Goals November 10

Whew!  The weeks are flying by!  Why is it, I wonder, that the days seem to drag, but the weeks, months, and years fly by?  Time…what a concept.

 

1108141040c

 

 

 

We had a good time over the weekend at the Turkey Trot….it supports a local school, and I love a good cause.  Munchkin wasn’t really smiling though – she got ran over by a biker.  Poor kid.  Yesterday we did a mega cleaning of the house.  The kids were miserable, and I was thrilled!  We’d hit a room, and then we’d take a 10-minute break (the kids were, after all, miserable, ha ha).  Then we’d get another room, and so on until the entire house was clean.  I’m loving it, and I’m sure it’ll last for a day. :)

Oh hey, don’t forget:  I’ve got 3 giveaways currently running.  Two of them end this week!  Be sure to enter.

Their Name is Today – ends tomorrow!

Manic Drive CD – VIP – ends today!

Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas Prize Pack
 
 
As we head into a new week, I want to at least pretend try to keep organized.  Thank goodness for the menu plan, right?  Here’s what we’re having:

 

  • cheese-enchiladas-3-picturesMonday:  Chicken and Dumpling soup (with gluten-free dumplings)
  • Tuesday:  Pigs in a blanket, lettuce salad
  • WednesdayEnchiladas
  • ThursdaySlow Roasted Persian Chicken,
  • Friday:  Leftover night
  • Saturday: Roasted Potatoes (Sweet and White), leftover chicken
  • Sunday: TBD

 
 

And the goals for the week?  Well, let’s be honest, I’m not shooting for the moon. :)  It’ll be a good week, though.

  1. Pick up, separate and freeze 40 lbs chicken (the chicken from Zaycon was delayed, so I’m getting it tonight.)
  2. Activity Days Reward activity
  3. Get ready for and hold Buddy Boy’s birthday party.
  4. Munchkin gymnastics
  5. Update the budget.

 

Have a great week!

 

 

 

Menu Monday – Weekly Meal Plan and Goals

 New week, new month!  Holy cow, did fall suddenly hit you like it hit over here?  We went trick or treating on Friday evening and didn’t even need jackets.  By the next morning, November 1, it was freezing!  I kinda get a kick out of it when the weather acts so on schedule.

1031141127 1031141848a

 

I hope you all had a happy and safe holiday weekend.  Now that it’s over, it’s time to get back to the schedule.  Here is our menu plan this week:

Breakfasts:

  • Whole grain toast and or Bagels (for the kids)

  • Fresh fruit (for all of us)

  • Home canned applesauce

Lunches:

  • Leftovers (for me)

  • Whole grain bread (for the kids)

  • Fresh fruit and fresh veggies (for all of us)

  • Greens chews (for the kids)

  • Turkey bacon (for the kids)

Quinoa Crusted ChickenDinners:

Monday – Turkey and Cheese Quesadillas (For the kids, I’ll have plain turkey quesadillas), Cucumber Guacamole

Tuesday – Crepes

Wednesday – Slow Cooker Sausage Chili, Fresh Baked Bread

Thursday – Crust Free Turkey Pot Pie

Friday – Leftover Night

Saturday – Quinoa Crusted Chicken, Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Sunday – Oven Porcupine Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes, Green Salad

 

I was able to complete all the “to-dos” on my list last week:

  1. Start new HIIT Training program designed by my doctor just for me (so I guess there is some benefit to these weekly dr appointments!)
  2. Finalize Halloween costumes for the kids.
  3. Go to church Trunk Or Treat on Tuesday.
  4. Wednesday:  NBA Jazz game (we got free tickets)
  5. Go over final budget numbers for October.

The fun plans this week:

  1. Activity Days

  2. 1 doctor appointment (only one this week; hooray!)

  3. Buddy Boy starts his rock climbing class.

  4. Picking up 40 lbs Zaycon chicken

  5. Fundraiser fun run for my son’s school

  6. Gymnastics for Munchkin

 

I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed week!

 

 

 

 

 

Menu Plan and Weekly Goals Oct 27 – Nov 2

So, I skipped a couple of weeks of menu planning.  Not very organized, but hey, I’m keeping it real.

I gotta be honest with everyone.

I’m LOSING MY MIND.

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I can’t keep up with anything, and I’m getting more and more stressed out. This whole 65 miles every day JUST to get my son to and from school is rough.  It’s what you do when you have a special needs child, though.

And you want to know something?  This whole having to eat 6 times a day, but not being allowed to eat soy, dairy, gluten,  sweeteners, canned/frozen/juiced fruits/veggies, processed anything, shellfish, table salt, etc is getting old.  REALLY OLD.  If I was seeing better results, I might feel more motivated.  I couldn’t think of what to make for dinner before when I could eat all that stuff, and when I only ate 3x a day!  Holy cow, it’s a production just to make a snack:  buy some dry beans, cook them for 8 hours to soften, then dry and roast for an hour to make them crisp again.  Yay, I have one snack!  Ugh.

Ah, well.  I s’pose that’s why I need to MAKE time to menu plan.  Right?  Geez, one day.  One day I’ll have my head screwed on straight.  I’ll be sure to let you know when it happens, so you can watch out your window for all of the flying pigs.

Sorry.  I’m ranting, and I hate when I do that.  It does feel better to have it out, though.  I know I’m blessed, and I know I’m lucky.  I’m just having a day.  Forgive me.  I’ll get to the meal plan:

 

Breakfasts:

  • Whole grain toast (for the kids)

  • Cereal (for the kids)

  • Fresh fruit (for all of us)

  • Steel Cut Oatmeal

  • Home canned applesauce

Lunches:

  • Leftovers (for me)

  • Whole grain bread (for the kids)

  • Fresh fruit and fresh veggies (for all of us)

  • Greens chews (for the kids)

  • Turkey bacon (for the kids)

  • String Cheese (for the kids)

 

Steak and Potato StewDinners:

  • Monday – Leftover chicken and roasted potatoes

  • Tuesday – Mexican Style Brown Rice, Homemade Refried Beans (adapted so I can have them)

  • Wednesday – Roasted Potato Soup (from Monday’s leftover potatoes)

  • Thursday – Leftover Night

  • Friday -Roasted Turkey, Carrots, Lettuce Salad

  • Saturday -Steak and Potato Stew

  • Sunday – Brown Rice and Homemade Turkey Gravy (made with home canned chicken broth and leftover turkey)

 

The goals for the week:

  1. Start new HIIT Training program designed by my doctor just for me (so I guess there is some benefit to these weekly dr appointments!)

  2. Finalize Halloween costumes for the kids.

  3. Go to church Trunk Or Treat on Tuesday.

  4. Wednesday:  NBA Jazz game (we got free tickets)

  5. Go over final budget numbers for October.

 

Menu Monday and Weekly Goals October 6-12

Howdy, howdy!  Happy Monday to all.

I’m still in denial that it’s October.  I am NOT ready for colder weather.  Although, I cannot deny that I’m grateful September is over.  It was a rotten month, financially, physically, and emotionally.  October is already going much better!  It’s weird how that happens.

We’re still eating as much as possible from the pantry.  We’ve been fortunate to get a LOT of produce from our garden this weekend, and we canned some more salsa and applesauce.  I’ll have to take pictures and count up how much we’ve done.  It’s by far the most harvest we’ve ever had.  Here’s our menu plan, based on what we have on hand (I’ll buy fresh produce/dairy/meat as needed):

mpm-1

Breakfasts:

  • Whole grain toast

  • Cereal

  • Fresh fruit

  • Oatmeal

  • Home canned applesauce

Lunches:

  • Leftovers

  • Whole grain bread

  • Fresh fruit and fresh veggies

  • Greens chews

  • Turkey bacon

Dinners:

  • Monday – Spaghetti (with homemade canned spaghetti sauce) – this will be for the family – I’ll eat a salad.

  • Tuesday – Baked Potato Bar

  • Wednesday – Chicken and Rice Soup

  • Thursday – Taco Night

  • Friday – Breakfast for Dinner

  • Saturday – Hubby in Charge

  • Sunday – Crockpot pork, green salad

 

Happily, I was able to get everything from last week’s goal list completed:

  1. Plan and hold Activity Days  Got this done, but boy, the girls sure hated it!  I made it so fun, too…we had a birthday party for ALL the girls.  Still ended up with one crying and others whining…every time, man! lol
  2. Go to the doctor and get follow up lab work done.  Anxiously awaiting the results…
  3. Go over September budget numbers and report. – yep, and it was ugly.
  4. Go to bank and get cash for October spending. – Done, and we’ve got the budget set!

 

We are almost completely done with the food preservation.  I think next weekend we’ll have more tomatoes and tomatillos ready, and that’ll be it!  I’m excited to be done, ha ha. :)  Here’s hoping it’s a good week:

  1. Can and preserve the last of the tomatoes (with spaghetti sauce).

  2. Doctor’s appointment (find out the results of the lab tests).

  3. Gluten free expo, baby!!

  4. Begin a new exercise program (I can’t stand it anymore…I don’t care if my doctor approves or not).

  5. Start prepping the garden for winter.

  6. Plant some tulip bulbs.

Do you set weekly goals?  What about menu planning?  Do you find that it helps?

 

Linked up at OrgJunkie.

 

 

Menu Monday and Weekly Goals – 9/29

Our eating from the pantry is in full swing!  We’ll only be purchasing fresh produce and items that we absolutely need for the next few weeks.  We went to the bread store outlet and bought 5 loaves of bread to freeze.  We also found a pack of “day old” bagels for a steal, so we bought those.  That should take care of our bread needs for awhile.  We ran out of milk last week, so we went to Costco and bought 6 gallons to freeze.  My kids drink it so fast, it seems.  I hope it lasts for a good while!

Breakfasts:

  • Bagels

  • Whole grain toast

  • Cereal

  • Fresh fruit

  • Oatmeal

Lunches:

  • Leftovers

  • Whole grain bread

  • Fresh fruit and fresh veggies

  • Greens chews

 

Dinners:

  • Monday – Crock Pot pork, green saladblack bean and corn salsa

  • Tuesday – Fried Rice with Battered Chicken, veggies

  • Wednesday -Taco night

  • Thursday – Chicken nuggets, carrots, mashed potatoes

  • Friday – Black Bean and Corn Salsa, brown rice

  • Saturday -TBD

  • Sunday -TBD

Have a great week!

 

 

As for the goals last week, well I did pretty well, but boy, it was a stressful week!  I’m glad it’s over. :)

Wednesday take Buddy Boy to the dentist to get his work done.
Wednesday take Munchkin to her Parent-Teacher conference.
Wednesday take Munchkin to her gymnastics.
Thursday take Buddy Boy to his Parent-Teacher conference.
Thursday go to my doctor appointment.
Saturday Buddy Boy’s baseball game. – Rained out!
Wednesday and Saturday pick the apples from our tree; can and preserve applesauce.

I’m so glad to be able to say I completed it all.  I also made a batch of tomato soup from our garden tomatoes.  With all the rain we’ve had this season, they are growing out of control…it’s AWESOME!! Goals for this week:

36813_all_010_01-activity

  1. Plan and hold Activity Days

  2. Go to the doctor and get follow up lab work done.

  3. Go over September budget numbers and report.

  4. Go to bank and get cash for October spending.

Have a great week!

 

Steak and Potato Stew – Frugal Friday

I know, I know.

Steak and Potato Stew sounds suspiciously a lot like Beef Stew – and technically, it probably is pretty close to the same thing.  I don’t know, because I’ve never read a recipe for beef stew.

I’ve been making a lot of soups, stews, and one-pot dishes lately, simply to make the meat stretch.  Because, have you SEEN the prices of meat lately?  Yeah, me too.  It’s especially fun over here, because I’ve been required by my doctor to eat protein at every meal.  And he specifically told me that it means MEAT and BEANS.  Nuts don’t even count!  Flaxseed doesn’t even count!  So, you know, I’m eating a lot of meat and beans.

At least beans are still pretty cheap, right?

Anyway, that is where this stew idea came from.  I had no clue what to cook for dinner but I knew we were low on meat and it needed to be stretched.  Here’s how it came together:

This gluten free Steak and Potato Stew is awesome!

I ain’t lying, this is good.

You could do this in a crockpot and really let that meat get tender, but I didn’t have a ton of time, and so I simply coated the meat in some cornstarch and coconut flour and then seared it in some olive oil over high heat to hold those juices in and to brown the meat quickly.  Then I let it simmer for a little bit in the stew.  The pieces were cut small so they cooked quickly.

 

The creamy Dijon mustard is optional.  I personally love the extra flavor it provided.

 

Steak and Potato Stew

Serves 4
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
Dietary Gluten Free
Meal type Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 quart chickensStock ((preferably homemade))
  • 2 Medium potatoes (peeled and diced)
  • 2 Medium carrots (peeled and diced)
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 cup almond milk ((or regular milk if you can have it))
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2lb steak (diced thin)
  • 1 garlic cloved (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon creamy Dijon mustard ((optional))

Directions

Step 1
In a large saucepan, heat the chicken stock over medium heat. Add the potatoes and carrots right away, and allow it to come to a boil.
Step 2
Reduce heat to medium-low, allow the potatoes and carrots to simmer for 10-15 minutes until tender.
Step 3
In the meantime, slice and dice your steak nice and little. Season to taste with salt and pepper. In a shallow dish combine the cornstarch and coconut flour, add the steak and coat evenly.
Step 4
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add the minced garlic. Immediately follow with the steak. Only add enough steak to cover the pan in one layer. Brown on both sides at the high heat, about 2-3 minutes total. Remove the steak from the pan. Repeat with remaining steak if needed.
Step 5
Add the almond milk to the skillet and stir with a whisk, making sure to scrape up the little bits of meat on the bottom. The mixture should thicken. If you want it thicker, you can add some of the leftover cornstarch/coconut flour mix to the skillet and thicken it further.
Step 6
Once the potatoes and carrots are tender, add the meat and the almond milk mixture to the saucepan, as well as the onion powder. Add in the mustard, if using, and stir it in. Season the broth to taste with more salt and pepper, if desired. Optionally, you can also season with oregano or dill.
Step 7
Simmer for a few minutes more until the stew is thick and hot. Serve with crackers if you'd like. Enjoying it is mandatory!

 

*Linked at Gluten Free Wednesday!