Posts Tagged ‘Cooking’

11/29/09
Amy
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(Money Saving Tips) Re-purposing Produce


produce

Many fruits and vegetables lose their fresh appeal after sitting on the counter for several days. Then they enter that awkward, slightly-over-ripe stage. If you are like me, you find yourself ignoring its presence until it reaches a point when you can justify throwing it away.

Look for ways to re-purpose the produce during that in-between stage. While it may no longer be optimal for eating fresh, it may be at a prime time to be made into another yummy treat.

Fruits can be used in smoothies, cobblers, muffins, breads, or in a simple fruit salad. Many fruits can even be frozen with a minimal amount of effort. Strawberries, blueberries (and other berries), peaches, mangos, and even bananas (for later use in baked goods) freeze really well.

Vegetables also have many ways that they can be re-purposed. They can be cooked and eaten as a side dish, added to a stir-fry or soup, used as green salad toppings, or frozen. Fresh green beans, broccoli, onions, and peppers are examples of some vegetables that freeze well for later use and cooking.

So the next time you recognize that the produce on your counters is teetering on over-ripeness, capitalize on the qualities that they still have to offer. It will save you money and maybe even provide you with fresh flavors that you wouldn’t have otherwise experienced.

11/16/09
Amy
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(Money-Saving Tips) Holiday Menu Shopping


You may not put much thought yet into what you will cook for holiday meals or include on your Christmas cookie plates, but a little bit of planning can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Sales on baking supplies and ingredients are already happening. With your menu in hand, you can begin to keep an eye out for great sales and coupons on items that you would otherwise overpay for in a last minute rush. This also gives you the opportunity to gradually accumulate the needed ingredients and holiday foods, making it much gentler on the budget.

Holidays cost enough as it is. By simply doing a little bit of planning, this is one area where you can minimize holiday expense.

08/28/09
Amy

(Family Activities) Eating-out Tradition


This idea doubles as both family activity and a money-saving tip!

We have all heard the age-old advice to not shop when you are hungry. Have you ever thought about applying that money-saving concept to eating out?

Try being intentional about eating out. Pick a night of the week, say Tuesday night, and make it a family tradition to eat out. It will be a weekly event that the whole family will talk about and look forward to. An added bonus to this strategy is that eating out then becomes more of a special and looked-forward to event, rather than something that is done by default. Potential low-grade guilt for not cooking can be put aside and you might be surprised to find renewed energy to cook on the other nights, knowing that you have that night off to look forward to.

Planning to eat-out additionally provides the opportunity to look for coupons or “kids-eat-free” nights and locations.

Tip: If your schedule or lifestyle doesn’t lend itself to eating out on the same night every week, you can achieve a similar result by planning the meals to be eaten out at the beginning of the week. Reference your activities calendar when making this plan to account for nights where the break would fit most logically.

For these reasons and more, you will find that you end up spending less on eating out while simultaneously creating a family tradition that everybody will look forward to.

08/25/09
Amy
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(Healthy Living) Expeller Pressed Oils


Most oils, such as canola and vegetable oils, that you find on your grocer’s selves are solvent expressed. This means that the oil was removed from the source through a combination of heat, pressure, and chemical extraction methods. However, not only does this process introduce the oil to impure additives and chemicals, but it also decreases the quality and health benefits of the oil.

Expeller pressed oils are extracted by a machine that presses the source, removing the oils, without added heat or chemicals. The yield is not as high (about 60-75%), and the machines are more expensive. This naturally translates into a higher priced product, however the benefits are certainly worth considering.

oilHere are some of the top benefits of using expeller oils:

  • no chemical residue in the oil
  • they evaporate less and are not as volatile, allowing you to use less oil
  • lower cholesterol levels
  • no trans fats
  • less likely to become damaged and rancid during the extraction process (due to exposure to heat), thus increasing the storage life of the oil
  • lower saturated fat levels
  • higher in Omega-3 fatty acids

Expeller pressed oils are the most likely to be found in a health food store or in the health food section of your grocery store. They can often be purchased at a lower price online or through local co-ops.

*Tip: Store your oils in the refrigerator to help further extend the storage life of the oils and to prevent them from becoming rancid.

08/22/09
Amy

(Cooking) Bruschetta Chicken


This is a fun summer meal that is packed with fresh and bright flavors! It also provides a great opportunity to make use of your herb garden!

Bruschetta Chickenjuly7

Bruschetta Topping:

2 c diced fresh tomatoes
1/2 c diced sweet onion
1 T olive oil
1/2 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1 1/2 T fresh minced parsley
1 T fresh minced basil (or 1 t dried basil)
1/2 T fresh minced oregano (or 1/2 t dried oregano)

Combine all ingredients. Cover and store in the refrigerator until serving.

Chicken:

1lb Chicken Tenderloins
3-4T Basil Pesto (pre-made)

1/2 c Italian Blend Cheese

Brush the chicken with pesto sauce and place in a glass baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink. During the last five minutes, top with cheese and bake until it is melted.

Top the chicken with the bruschetta topping and serve.

08/15/09
Amy
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(Cooking) Sandwich Shapes


star sandwichesBring a smile to your child’s face with a simple sandwich. Use cookie cutters to make their sandwiches into fun shapes! This can be a fun lunchbox surprise, a twist on a snack for your child’s class, or a fun kitchen activity that your child can participate in. What shape will you make?

*Tip: Use the cookie cutter to cut the individual sandwich components and then assemble. If you assemble the sandwich first and then apply the cookie cutter, you run the risk of having a squished sandwich.

08/11/09
Amy

(Healthy Living) Herb Garden


herbsHerbs allow for great creativity with cooking. They add a burst of flavor to the vegetable rotation and can transform grilled chicken into a gourmet dish.

Growing your own herbs can help give you a fresh motivation to cook healthy dishes and to have fun with food presentation. (How often do you see fried foods garnished with something green?) Your herb garden will also save you money! No more purchasing those bunches of herbs from the store that go bad long before you can use it all. And it is a resource that continues to give all season.

*Tip – Before the first winter freeze, take cuttings from or transplant your herbs into pots and move them inside. You can enjoy your herbs all winter!

08/10/09
Amy

(Date Ideas) Dessert Discovery


dessertDates at home can be really fun, especially when chocolate and whipped cream are involved. I mean, could there possibly be a better combination than a date and chocolate??

Find a dessert recipe that neither of you have made before and embark together on a kitchen adventure. Enjoy the exploration, the laughs, the unrestricted taste-testing (since the kids are asleep), the mess, and the end-product (fabulous or flop).

Discover the sweetness of a simple, at-home date.

08/08/09
Amy
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(Cooking) Kabob Night


Eating off of a stick is so much more fun than using silverware. A kabob themed dinner is a easy way to turn an ordinary meal into a “Fun Food Night”. Find a way to turn each dinner course into kabob form. Here are some ideas for different courses. Create your own combination!

Main Course: chicken, shrimp, beef, (cooked meats are usually marinated) or deli meat & cheese cubes

Sides: vegetables – red potatoes, tomatoes, onions, peppers, zucchini, carrots, eggplant, mushrooms, or raw vegetables served with a veggie dip

fruits – strawberries, grapes, cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew melon, pineapple, bananas

Dessert: pound cake and strawberries (strawberry shortcake concept), cake cubes (possibly alternating with fruit or rolled in melted chocolate and ground nuts), marshmallows, or fruit kabobs with chocolate or caramel dipping sauce.

Be creative!

Kabobs

08/04/09
Amy
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(Healthy Living) Fruit Serving


Find one spot in your day where you can routinely add a serving of fruit to your family’s diet. This might involve incorporating a serving into your cereal or yogurt at breakfast, a dessert substitution, a snack replacement, or an extra small course at dinner. Where ever you choose to add it, just remember that healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring. Fruit adds a splash of flavor and sweetness, giving you so much room to be creative.

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