Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Still Using it up!

The nice thing about using up the stuff in my pantry, fridge and deep freeze is that I've been forced to cook more creatively. There's nothing but ingredients in the house at this point, although I'm not out of food, there really isn't any thing ready to eat "out of the box." The package cereal is running out, much to my son's dismay, and we finished up two partial jars of jam that were getting my fridge shelves all sticky.

Today I made some terrific New England Style Baked Beans, using up half a package of Great Northern beans, the last of the molasses, and because I needed to bump up the sweetness, the last of the honey from a honey bear in the cupboard - there's still the big bottle. That, along with some cornbread muffins made a delicious and filling dinner.

Tomorrow, I'm going to tackle the tofu. I've never, ever, cooked with tofu before in my life. I bought a package (never opened it) and its been sitting in my fridge ever since. It hasn't reached the expiration date, so in theory, it is still good. I plan to make Tofu Italiano, using up some of the homemade Italian spaghetti/pizza sauce I've had in the freezer for a while. It calls for flat egg noodles, which I don't have, but I do have some fettuccine, and also a partial package of lasagna noodles, which I can break into pieces. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Make it from scratch Carnival

The Make it from Scratch Carnival is a great place to get ideas for cooking, crafting and other things you can do - from scratch. Today's carnival is over at "I've Got A Little Space To Fill." I particularly liked the Poppy Seed Noodle recipe, I might be able to fit this into Use it up Week! The Better-Than-Cakesters looked really yummy too. My son asked when we could make those. Black Bean Brownies look really interesting.

Oh yeah, and I have a post up too, on my Split Pea Soup! So enjoy the Carnival!

Monday, February 9, 2009

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Using it up!

So, what do you do with 1 lonely chicken leg quarter, half a box of arborio rice, some sprouted onions, and some leftover cooked broccoli? You make Chicken-Broccoli Risotto, of course.

This is adapted from the Weight Watchers New 365 Day Menu Cookbook.

Chicken-Broccoli Risotto

2 cups small broccoli florets (or in my case, the broccoli leftover at the back of the fridge)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I didn't need - more later)
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon reduced calorie tub margerine (butter)
10 ounces chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces (1 slightly freezer burned, lonely chicken leg quarter)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped onion (cut the soft parts and the sprouts off, and you're good to go!!)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 ounces Arborio Rice (Look at the back of the cupboard for this one - slightly less than half a box)
4 fluid ounces white wine (just pour part of your glass in there)
2 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or use Kraft, in the plastic container)
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest (I didn't even see this when I made it, and it was just fine without.)

1. fill a large saucepan with 1" water, set the steamer rack into saucepan. Place broccoli onto rack. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat to low. Steam broccoli over simmering water, covered, 4-5 minutes, until just tender. (Or, rummage around at the back of the fridge. Pull out a container of cooked broccoli from the other night. Chop a little more.)

2. In a small saucepan, combine broth with 1 cup water; bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat to low; let simmer while preparing chicken.

3. In a large saucepan, melt 2 teaspoons of margarine, add chicken and salt. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, 4 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. With a slotted spoon remove cooked chicken from saucepan, set aside.

(Ok, take the poor, lonely leg of chicken and joint it between the thigh and leg. Put it in a pretty big pot with about a quart of water in it, and let it boil for a while. After a bit, the water will have cooked down, and the chicken will be all cooked. Take the chicken out, and let it cool until you can handle it. Pick the skin off, and the meat off the bones. Chop the meat up more, and throw the bones back into the broth. Keep it simmering while you make the rest of the dish.)

4. In the same saucepan, melt the remaining 2 teaspoons of margarine; add onions and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, 5 minutes, and onion is softened. Add rice; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add wine; cook, stirring constantly, until most of the liquid is absorbed.

5. Add 1/2 cup hot broth to the rice mixture; cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is absorbed. Continuing to stir, add all but 1/4 cup (or so) of the broth , 1/2 cup at a time; cook, stirring constantly after each addition, about 18 to 20 minutes, until all broth is absorbed, rice is tender and mixture is creamy.

6. Stir cheese, zest (if you remembered it), broccoli, chicken and remaining broth into the rice mixture; cook stirring frequently, 2 minutes, until heated through.

Serves 4

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Use-It-Up Week Update

So far for Use-it-up week, I've used up: A ham end that was in the freezer, half a package of split peas, all the bread, a really old can of pumpkin, a box of couscous, all the Christmas cookies in the deep-freeze (like that was hard!), two partial packages of ground beef, two nearly empty bottles of barbecue sauce, several partial boxes of cereal, various canned tomato products and some odds and ends frozen vegetables.

So, it's not as good as I had thought. I guess then, that next week will be Use-it-up week 2 (or maybe "Return of Use-it-Up week!) Not sure on the title yet. I've got some frozen pie crusts to use, some phyllo dough, and frozen pasta primavera sauce in the freezer that I've got to do something with. Plus, I've got many packages of beans with about 1/3 cup of beans in the pack. I don't really know how this happens. Additionally, I've got some weird black lentils from a gourmet store that are taking up valuable real estate in the pantry. On top of that, there are a few chunks of meat (1 steak, 2 porkchops, 1 chicken leg quarter) that are just... odd.

Let's see how this week goes. There's a lot there, so I should be able to get through the week without a major shopping trip, except for milk and eggs and possibly bread.

On a somewhat related note - my bread maker died. It mixes just fine, but does not bake the bread. So I guess I used that up as well.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Use-It-Up Week pt. 2 - Split Pea Soup

I was wondering what I put in the M&M tin at the back of the cupboard. Surely not M&M's?? of course not. It was a package of spit peas! What better for a cold night than Split Pea soup? Here is the recipe I use. It is from an old, very frugal cookbook called "Good Recipes For Hard Times" by Louise Newton. It is out of print, but has some great helps on stretching your food dollar.

This Split Pea Soup is the bare minimum. It is vegan (unless, like me, you throw in ham) and super easy and delish:

Split Pea Soup

1 pound dried split peas
2 qts. boiling water
bay leaf
3-4 cloves garlic
3 whole cloves
2 tsp. salt

Add peas slowly enough to the boiling water to keep it boiling. Add bay leaf, garlic, cloves and salt. Simmer, covered 1 to 2 hours. It is better with longer cooking. This soup is delicious just as it is, but you may add onion, carrots, and celery, first sauteed in margerine, 15 minutes before serving. And like I said, I throw in ham.

I'm serving it with some Foccocia Bread. Yum!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Use-It-Up Week

I'm going to try to NOT go the grocery store this week unless it is for milk or eggs. There's a lot in our pantry and freezer, and who knows how old any of it is??(!)

Well, a while ago, I made the nasty discovery that many of the things in the pantry were infested (ick) with meal bugs. (ick, ick, ick.) I've chucked all the food that I KNOW is infested, but while doing so, I've discovered that there is a lot that I've bought, then just shoved to the back.

So this week is Use-it-up week. For dinner this week we are having left over chili, that I put some other left over chili beans into, and cornmeal muffins. I'm planning split pea and ham for tomorrow, using the end of the ham that I had bought last year and tossed in the freezer. I think Wed. will be meatloaf, with the odds and ends of ground beef that I'm finding in the freezer. Who knows, by the end of the week I may actually NEED to go grocery shopping!