Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sloppy Joe BAKED Potatoes (a.k.a haha, I said "baked")

Potatoes, along with bananas, are the cheapest food ever. 
I totally just bought a 5lb bag of potatoes for $2.99 at Aldi. 


We are a gluten free household (well, the Hungry Hubby isn't, but everyone else is. The Hungry Hubby takes advantage of this fact by occasionally buying himself treats like Little Debbie cakes, knowing that no one else will eat them.) and potatoes are a great gluten-free go-to food. 

This is the Hungry Hubby's girl on the side. Sometimes he looks at the box and says "I can't quit you." 
That being said, a baked potato is out of this world with sloppy joe on top. 

I made this today, but for some reason I only managed to get an "after" pic. 
oh yeah, I'm knocked up and STARVING 24/7.
I feel like roadkill today, so this is a very short post. 


I am assuming that you can both A) make a baked potato and B) brown some hamburger meat and pour sloppy joe sauce on it AND THEN C) put the sloppy joe on the potato. 

It doesn't look the prettiest, but it's really REALLY yummy and filling.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Dill Pickle Pork Chops (a.k.a. this + this = BOOYAH)

The Hungry Hubby and I are trying to do the whole super-economize/make your money work for you/"Total Money Makeover" thing recently. 

Well, we've been trying to do it for a while now, but we have really just started buckling down this week; especially since the Hungry Hubby's job is commission only (he looooves it, but we can't always assume that he's going to have an amazing month EVERY MONTH) and we need to suck it up and start making friends with the "B" word. 


So that means spending a lot of time with THIS:

Talking/writing about/planning around THIS:

I wish this was my bed. Then I wouldn't have to deal with a stupid budget.

and not spending a lot of money HERE:

can't you hear the angels singing? Isn't it beautiful?

Heavenly Father, thank you for Publix. I really appreciate having such good lighting, BOGO deals and differently-able bag boys who know the Hungry Baby's name and fight over who gets to push our cart. 

But I digress...

So because we're trying to change our ways and all that jazz, I've been having to be really creative when it comes to dinners around here. 

Like weird creative. 

For example, tonight I invented dill pickle pork chops. 
(Back off if you've heard of this before, I hadn't and now I'm basking in the glow of my brainpower.) 

So, when the pregnancy cravings began to hit this time around I totally went for the BIG JAR of Claussen dill pickles. 
(You know what I'm talking about, the good ones that you have to get from the section with the eggs and keep in the fridge. OHHH YEAH BABY.) 

The Hungry Baby and I finished off the last two spears this afternoon. (And, I guess the Itty Bitty Hungry Baby got some too? I guess I'll have to come up with a cutesy nickname for Hungry Baby #2. Hungry Baby #2 works. BOOM. I AM ALL KINDS OF CREATIVE TODAY.)

Now I have a gallon jar of pickle juice sitting in the 'fridge. 
With two defrosted pork chops sitting next to it. 




My thought process totally went like this:

HEAD: Hey, Amy, you like pickles AND you like pork.
HEAD: have to marinate pork chops
AMY: I'm not following...
AMY: ((light bulb))

So I marinated the pork chops in leftover dill pickle juice. 
I know, I'm a genius. 

I already ate mine, it was delicious. 

OM NOM NOM. This was taken about 3 seconds after I plated it. I even ate all my vegetables first.

I ate the Hungry Hubby's too. 
Yeah, I'm pregnant and I ate his dinner. 

 the plate is already dirty because this was supposed to be the Hungry Hubby's pork chop. That's right. I ate it. Whatchagonnado?Wannafightaboutit?

I'm not evil, SOMEONE'S boss is having him tag along to tonight's POISON concert.


Not this poison. 


Oh, did I happen to mention he's getting to go 

That poopy head. (Insert pouty face here)

I'm totally jealous so I ate his dinner. 
(Again, I'm not evil, I'll make some just for him later.)

and you don't even have to measure anything.
You can thank me later. 

For Dill Pickle Pork Chops you will need: 

  • 2 (or more, depending on how many people you are feeding)pork chops or pork loins
  • Dill pickle juice
  • dash of salt
  • dash of pepper
  • dried dill weed (haha, yes, I said "weed". It's a spice, get your giggles out already.)
  • fennel seed
  • ketchup
1. Place the defrosted pork in a baking dish; preheat the oven to 350F.

2. sprinkle both sides of each chop with salt and pepper. (Don't go crazy with the salt, the pickle juice has some salt in it already.)
3. Pour some dill pickle juice over the pork chops (but don't cover the chops, this isn't a swimming pool and we're not making pickle pork
4. Sprinkle the tops of the pork chops with a pinch of fennel seeds (again, don't go crazy. Fennel seed is potent.)
5. Sprinkle the pork chops with dill weed (hehe, I said "weed" again. lol); just a light dusting. 

6. make a squiggle of ketchup on top of each pork chop. Be fancy. Dinner is more fun if it's decorated. 

7. Bake the chops for 45 minutes. 


Friday, June 3, 2011

Hot Chocolate and Vanilla Milk (a.k.a. "here kid, drink this.")

Ok folks. 
It has been a loooong year. 
Do you ever have one of those long days? You know, one of those long days that feels like it has been a whole year? 

I have had one of those years that feels like it has just been ONE. LOOOOOOONG. DAY. 
A looooong day that requires hot chocolate at the end.
(ok, ok, I know that summer is here again; and I KNOW it is like the face of the SUN outside. But I'm pregnant and I just want hot chocolate. BACK. OFF.)


The Hungry Baby is just like her Mommy. She enjoys a nice cozy drink at the end of a long day of being a one year old. 
(No, I don't spike it. Even if the whiskey WOULD help her sleep. then again...) 

What CPS doesn't know won't hurt them...just kidding. This is not my kid.

However, because I am a responsible parent (and my child already has such a HORRIBLE chocolate addiction, thanks to her Aunt Scout) I don't give her hot chocolate. But sometimes I do give in and make her a bottle of vanilla milk. Because it's her favorite. And because it really does help her sleep. 

Remember when you were little and your mom would get that instant hot chocolate powder? 
(Mine still does. Which isn't a bad thing, because SOMEONE has got to eat it directly out of the packet. I'll take that dreaded chore upon myself. Don't call me a hero. 'Tis a far far greater thing that I do...)

instant cocoa powder? what makes you say that?

I don't get the instant powder. 
The official reason I don't buy the instant powder is because the hot chocolate always comes out really thin and I can't ever make it without the powder getting all clumpy. 
(Mostly we don't get the instant hot chocolate because I would eat it directly out of the packet and the Hungry Hubby would take me to the loony bin. Oh the woe of my secret shame!)

So I learned how to make REAL hot chocolate. 
Once I figured out the chocolate, the vanilla milk just showed up. I tried some and thought "gee, this really makes me feel sleepy and cozy. OH MY GAWD THIS MAY MAKE THE OVERLY-HYPER-FOR-8-PM-AND-YELLING-IN-HER-BED HUNGRY BABY FEEL COZY AND SLEEPY.

There is a reason this book is so popular.

She did. She loved it. She was out like a light. Dairy cows be praised! 

So hot chocolate, is part of my evening routine (that is, when I don't konk out on the couch at 6pm of the sheer exhaustion that is my life).

Vanilla milk, is part of hers. 


For Homemade Hot Chocolate you will need: 
  • 2 cups of whole milk (sidebar: we are in romantic love with the milk from Working Cows Dairy, sadly, we go through almost a gallon a day and at almost $7 a pop...le sigh.)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of cocoa powder. 
  • Sugar (just eyeball it) or Light Agave Nectar (if you're going paleo)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of Bourbon Vanilla Extract. (REAL VANILLA. If I find out you've been using "imitation vanilla" I swear I will wring your neck. that stuff is poison...sorry. Hormones.)
  • dash of cinnamon (awesome, but totally optional.) 
1. Mix the dry ingredients together in a saucepan (the one with sides) and add a splash of milk to make a paste. Use a whisk. The paste will prevent the dreaded instant-cocoa clumpy powder.

1.a. If you are using Agave instead of sugar, omit the splash of milk in this step.

2. Over medium heat (you don't want to scorch the milk, then the hot chocolate gets all weird and filmy) slowly whisk the milk into the cocoa mix.

3. When everything is well blended and the hot chocolate is to the temperature you like to drink, pour that mess in a mug and have at it. 

For the Hungry Baby's Vanilla Milk, you will need

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Tiny splash of light agave nectar (because I am not giving my one-year-old straight up sugar). A grownup might want about a tablespoon of agave.
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • sprinkle of cinnamon.
1. Whisk the agave, milk, and vanilla together in a saucepan over low heat. (Low heat for a baby, medium for a grownup.)
2. When the milk is warm, pour it into a mug (Or baby bottle, whatever. I won't judge.)
3. Sprinkle with cinnamon. 
4. Drink. 
5. Pass Out. (This junk will make you SLEEPY)



Saturday, July 31, 2010

Summer Vegetable Pasta (a.k.a. what the heck do I do with all this squash??)

The thought of it used to strike fear in my heart. 

Fear and disgust. 
I hated squash. 
Strange, I know. That the eater of all things vegetable refused to even try this stuff until I was in high school. 

The Hungry Hubby still turns his nose up at it. (Unless my Mom makes it for him, then he'll gobble it up. Whatever.)
Well, this time of year anyone with a garden can tell you they end up with more d*mn squash than you can shake a stick at.

That's how we ended up with all this squash. 
It was a gift. 

At Church on Sunday someone had left a large pile of vegetables on a table with a sign that said "Homegrown veggies, please help yourself." The sign might have well have said "We're over run with this yellow squash. It's like Kudzu. We don't even know what happened to the swingset. It's everywhere."
If you had SEEN the pile of squash on that table, you would totally understand the desperation behind that neat handwriting.

It was like this. {via}

I should have taken a picture.
Instead, I took 3 GIANT yellow squash home, knowing I would be the only eating them.

So then I had this squash. 
I just stared at it for a week. 

This morning I took the Hungry Baby to the Pepper Place Farmer's Market and got some MORE veggies. 


So I made Summer Vegetable Pasta. 

pretty sexy for a camera phone!

It's awesome! (AND because odds are The Hungry Hubby won't try it, due to the squash and it being remotely healthy for you I get it all to myself!) 

For Summer Vegetable Pasta, you will need: 

  • 1 lb. Penne (I used gluten free brown rice pasta)
  • Olive oil
  • Sea Salt
  • 3-4 Yellow Summer Squashes, mercilessly cut up into little bits
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, cut into halves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil (you could use about 1 1/2 cups fresh leaves, cut up, but I didn't have any on hand)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1. Put the little squash bits in a colander, toss them with about a bit of sea salt and put the colander over a big bowl to drain for about 30 minutes or so. (This will allow some of the water to leech out of the squash, so it won't be so...well...squashy.)

2. Put a big pot of well-salted water on a boil.

3. After some water has drained out of the squash, pat it with a paper towel, just to get it a bit drier. 

4. Put the squash in a large pan with a few tablespoons of Olive Oil, over medium-high heat. Toss the squash around. 

5. While the squash is a-squashin', put the pasta in. (Don't let it cook past "al dente", or it will be gross.)

6. Once the squash has been cooked up a bit (it will appear slightly softer), put in the basil, pepper flakes, garlic and balsamic. Coat evenly.

7. Once pasta is ready, drain it (don't rinse it) and return to the big pot.

8. Add the tomatoes to the squash and heat through. 

9. Mix the vegetables into the pasta, making sure the olive oil coats the pasta well. 

10. Serve warm (with some grated parm and white wine if you're trying to look fancy!) 

Feel better about yourself for figuring out what to use the squash for without coating it completely with Velveeta.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

R.T.'s Italian Chicken (a.k.a. one of the easiest things you will ever make)

My cousin, Rebecca Tabb, is an amazing human being who has mastered the art of thinking of her CrockPot as useful for making more than just roast. 

(Gee, I haven't made roast in a while ... [insert Homer Simpson saying "mmmmm...roast"] but I digress)

She came up with this great idea for Italian Chicken and it is Hungry Hubby approved! 

I even made it yesterday.

This is all the cooking skill you need.

For Italian Chicken you will need: 

  • 6-8 Frozen, boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (or if you're like me, those bone-in, skin-on, chicken leg quarters you got in a bag for $2.50 at Aldi. Because you're cheap and couldn't find it in your cold, dead heart to spring for breast meat.)
  • 1 bottle of cheap Italian dressing
That's it. 

Seriously, that's all you need. 

1. Throw the frozen chicken into the CrockPot

2. Squirt the ENTIRE bottle of dressing on top of the chicken. 

3. Set the CrockPot for 8-10 hours on low.


(If you're really ambitious, throw some skinned baking potatoes in the CrockPot too. I did. They were GOOD. But, you don't have to...)

(While it was cooking, we went to Publix, and took the Hungry Baby to see "Inception"! It was like a date!)

Even with the cheapo chicken, it turned out SOOOOOOOO GOOD! 

Thanks to Rebecca we have a new favorite in our house and I have new confidence in my CrockPot skills!

Chocolate Cobbler (a.k.a. OMG LookAtThisGoopButItIsNOMS! Pie)

This is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. 

It's like a chocolate lava thing, but when I first read about how you make it, I didn't think it would work. 

I showed it to The Hungry Hubby and blurted "I am going to make this RIGHT NOW and it will never come out looking this yummy but I need chocolate NOW!" 

It was almost 10 pm when I said this.  
The Hungry Hubby, of course, was on board. 
(as you are aware, if it involves sweets and is junky for you, he'll eat it) 

This is GOOD. 

Next time I will be baking a double or TRIPLE batch of this stuff. AND I will be downing it with LOTS of vanilla bean ice cream.

(The Hungry Hubby didn't want to go to the store in the middle of the night just for ice cream. After all, I'm not pregnant anymore. He's not as compelled to cater to my every caloric whim.)
So here goes: 

For Chocolate Cobbler you will need: 

  • 1 cup All-purpose Flour (I used Pamela's Gluten-Free, as always)
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt (Morton's regular salt, for once.)
  • 7 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder, Divided
  • 1-¼ cup Sugar, Divided
  • ½ cups Milk
  • ⅓ cups Melted Butter
  • 1-½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract (I used Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla_
  • ½ cups Light Brown Sugar, Packed
  • 1-½ cup Hot Tap Water (and I mean HOOOOT, but not boiling) 
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shoo cat away from oven.

2. First stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, 3 tablespoons of the cocoa, and 3/4 cup of the white sugar. Reserve the remaining cocoa and sugar. Shoo cat off counter.

3. Stir in the milk, melted butter, and vanilla to the flour mixture. Mix until smooth. Shoo cat away from fridge.

4. Pour the mixture into an ungreased 8-inch baking dish. I used a square casserole dish I had around and was disappointed that it was too big.

5. In a separate small bowl, mix the remaining white sugar (it should be 1/2 cup), the brown sugar, and remaining 4 tablespoons of cocoa. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the batter. make sure none of the batter is showing. Put cat out on porch.

6. Pour the hot tap water over all. DO NOT STIR! Yes, I know it sounds NUTS, and this was the step I said "THIS WILL NOT WORK!" but, it did.

5. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the top is nice and crusty.

6. Let stand for a few minutes with your husband excitedly hovering over it with a spoon. Eat, then go to bed with happy tummys. 

7. Wake up later and realize cat is still on porch. Let cat in. Go back to bed.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cube Steak with Gravy

I have an amazing Mom.
She has really gone above and beyond the call of "Gramy" duty when it has come to helping the Hungry Hubby and I out with our new Hungry Baby.

She cooked; she cleaned (REALLY cleaned); she made sure I showered; and she forced my weepy, exhausted (after 48 hours of natural labor and a we-have-to-get-the-baby-out-NOW emergency situation with forceps) self to take several long naps.

She even made sure that we had food in our fridge. 

Not just "food" but high-quality basic ingredients (and you, dear reader, know how I am about quality). 

Namely, she stocked our freezer with beef.

and not just any beef.

My parents get this AMAZING beef from The Irvington Cattle Company, which is where my parents routinely invest in a side of beef. These guys really know how to raise a yummy cow. Their motto is even "You are what you eat eats."

Among the various cuts of meat we were so generously given, I found a couple packages marked "cube steak" - something I was aware of, but unfamiliar with. 
Growing up in the deep south, we never had "cube steak" like my Mom did in Massachusetts, we had "country fried steak" (or "chicken fried steak" as my school cafeteria served, where the beef was battered in corn flakes. The memory of those CFS days still sends shivers down my spine!) 

Needless to say, I was intimidated by the thought of cube steak in my fridge. 
However, not being one to back away from a culinary challenge, I did my research and steeled myself for possible disaster. 

When I announced to The Hungry Hubby my intention to make him cube steak with a white gravy he was so excited he couldn't contain himself. (I should have known. Although he is a bit of a picky eater, my dear husband is a sucker for good 'ole southern cooking.)

and even I liked it! 

For Cube Steak with Gravy, you will need: 
1 package of cube steak (roughly 1-1 1/2 pounds cube steak, or 4 pieces)
1 cup flour (I used Pamela's Gluten Free Baking Mix) plus 1/4 to 1/2 cup flour, separated
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Morton's salt
1 cup milk
vegetable oil

1. Pat steak dry with a paper towel (don't "wring it out", just get the extra meat juice off it)

2. Mix 1 cup flour with 1/2 of salt and pepper together in a bowl

3. Coat the bottom of a cast iron skillet with a layer of vegetable oil (not too deep, you want the meat to be able to fry, but you don't want it to submerge in the oil.) Heat the oil to medium high.

3. Coat the cube steak in the flour mixture, making sure both sides are evenly coated. 

4. Once the oil is hot, gently lay the steaks in the oil, allowing the bottom of each steak to brown before you flip it. 

5. Once both sides are equally browned, remove the steaks and let them rest in a heatproof dish; take the oil off the heat. 

6. Add the remaining flour, pepper, and salt to the oil and all those brown bits in the bottom of the pan. Whisk together, then SLOWLY whisk in the milk. 

as the gravy cools, it will thicken. 

7. Return the steaks to the gravy, coating both sides with gravy. 
Serve with extra gravy poured over. 

The Hungry Hubby has requested this become a regular meal :-)