Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Growing Potatoes in a Garbage Bag Update

It's been 2 months since I planted my potatoes in a garbage bag, and they've been growing like crazy!

I've added dirt to the bag three different times now, carefully and gently covering the lower branches of the potato plant. When the stems and leaves are buried (supposedly) they turn into roots and grow some more potatoes.

I'm restraining myself from digging and peeking to find out what is going on in there... I really hope that this works for me!

Monday, June 27, 2011

10 ways to Use Up Perishables Before Traveling

Here's what I need to use up this week...
You're getting ready to leave town and the fridge is full of perishables that you need to consume before you leave town! There isn't enough room in the freezer to just freeze the stuff, and the raw vegetables don't freeze well anyway. Here are some tips to use up your perishables before you head out of town for summer vacation!

Using up Milk:

1. Make pancakes. Our pancake recipes uses up 2 full cups of milk and makes 16 pancakes. Enjoy these as Breakfast for Dinner, or make them in advance and eat them the morning you are planning to leave town. Freeze them if you have space--pancakes seem to take up less space that milk in the freezer.

2. Make pudding. If you have freezer space, freeze the pudding as popsicles.

Using up Bread:
3. Make Grilled Cheese: just 4 Grilled Cheese Sandwiches use 8 slices of bread! I haven't figured out a better way to use up a loaf of bread.

Using up Cheese:
4. Make Grilled Cheese (see above!): my family can't resist buttery bread with nice big slabs of cheese melted in between them. I think we would eat just as many sandwiches as I could make--which is why I only make 5 at most, one per person with one extra to split between the really hungry folks.

5. Make quesadillas and freeze them. This is also how I use up my tortillas.

Using up vegetables:
6. Make a frittata. Squash, zuchini, onion, potatoes, green beans, bell peppers, and spinach/greens all go well in a frittata. Slice your tomatoes and place them on top. Eat it for breakfast on the day you are planning to leave for a healthy, protien-rich start to your traveling day.

7. Make soup: Minestrone is designed to absorb leftovers.

8. Make vegetable sandwich wraps: If you have lettuce, carrots, cucumbers and other vegetables that are better consumed raw, wrap them in tortillas with some hummus or cream cheese, and bring them with you in a cooler on your road trip. You can do this with your bread too (see above!), but I find you can stuff more lettuce in a wrap than what you can smoosh in a sandwich.

Using up Eggs:
9. Make a frittata (see above! use your veggies--you might as well throw some cheese in there too if you need to get rid of it!): when I make a frittata, I use a 10 inch pan and throw 12 eggs in there. It sounds like a lot of eggs, but when you slice the frittata into 8 equal servings, there is only 1 and 1/2 eggs in each serving.

10. Make Deviled Eggs: If you don't have enough eggs for a frittata, hard boil your eggs, slice them in half lengthwise, remove the yolks and mix them with some mayonnaise and sweet relish to taste, and use two spoons to plop a blob of the yolk mixture in each white half. Serve these up with vegetable sandwich wraps (see #8 above) for dinner, and your family will scarf them down. Again, even if each person eats 3 deviled egg halves, they're still eating fewer than 2 eggs.
Empty your fridge, and enjoy you vacation! Visit OhAmanda to read and share Top 10 lists about many entertaining subjects.

Menu Plan Monday: June 27th 2011

Sunday Dinner: Pot Roast with Mashed Potatoes
It's been a while since I posted a menu plan, and I want to get back into the routine now that it is officially summer in my household--school just let out for us last Friday!
  • Monday: Quinoa Vegetable Soup and salad (Grilled Cheese for the kids)
  • Tuesday: Potato-Kale Frittata with Sweet Potato Biscuits
  • Wednesday: Mini Hamburgers, steamed broccoli, and baked beans
  • Thursday: Whole Wheat Pasta with Turkey Meatballs and Sauce (my son is cooking!) and any leftovers
  • Friday: Rehearsal Dinner
  • Saturday: Wedding
  • Sunday: Dinner out
  • Monday: Fourth of July Get-together--making dessert, haven't decided what to make yet!
Find more meal planning inspiration at orgjunkie.com!

My Favorite Pot Roast

It isn't exactly the season, but we just ate a pot roast last night, and it was fantastic. This summer I'm cooking for my friend's son while he is home from college, and this is one of the things that he requested. (My friend passed away this past January). I cannot put into words how good this pot roast is! It's worth the few extra steps of preparation. We like it served over mashed potatoes, although it would be equally good with roasted root vegetabls or egg noodles.

Adapted from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook (NYM Series):

  • Pot Roast (3-4 lbs)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced turnip
  • 2 T olive oil, divided
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 3/4 cup water
First, take the time to finely dice your vegetables--they are going to add some incredible flavor to your roast. Heat 1 T oil in a large skillet and saute the vegetables, stirring occasionally. The recipe recommends 5 minutes, but I saute them a little longer and I use my stainless steel skillet so that they leave browned bits in the bottom of the pan. After browning, move the vegetables to the crock pot, covering the bottom.

Next, heat the remaining 1 T of oil in the same skillet. Sprinkle the pot roast liberally with salt and pepper, and place it in the skillet to sear, approximately 3-4 minutes per side. After the roast is browned, place it in the crock pot over the vegetables.

Pour the red wine in the searing pan, and bring it to a boil. Scrape the sides and bottom of the pan to scrape up the browned bits. Let the wine reduce for a few minutes. The recipe says 2 minutes, I usually do it a bit longer. When the wine is a syrupy consistency, pour it carefully over the pot roast. I like to keep as much of the syrup on top of the meat as possible.

Return the pan to the heat and pour in the 3/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then pour it into the crock pot. I like to pour it onto the vegetable mixture so that the wine syrup stays concentrated on the meat.

Cook on low for 7-9 hours. When you are ready to serve, move the pot roast to a cutting board or serving platter. Put a strainer over a bowl and spur the vegetable mixture and juices through so that the strainer catches the solids. Press gently on the vegetable mixture to extract the juices. Let the mixture set for 5 minutes--the fats will rise to the top, and you can skim them off before serving the juices as a gravy for the pot roast.

We use the juices lightly, and I usually have between half and 3/4 cup of the juices left. I freeze them and add them to my next Minestrone, along with any shredded meat that might be left over after we enjoy this meal a few times. It adds a nice beefy flavor with few actual pieces of meat!