Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fall Flavors: Home Made Chunky Applesauce

Maybe you have never thought of applesauce as a "side dish" for a savory meal. But to me apples are one of those fall flavors that just pairs beautifully with heartier cool weather dinners, like pork chops or chicken and stuffing. I am not talking about the pureed kind you get in a jar, but a sweet spicy chunky homemade applesauce that you can eat with a fork.

Happening to have a neighbor who gifted me with a big bag full of sweet golden apples inspired me to cook some up last week.

It was a big hit with our rather ordinary baked chicken breast with stuffing and green beans. It is super simple to make if you want to give it a try!

Homemade Spiced Applesauce

3 lbs (about 6 medium) apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks

1/2 cup water

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons sugar

Put into heavy pot and bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer stirring occasionally until apples are tender. Lightly mash with potato masher. Taste for sweetness, add a little more white sugar if needed. Add a sprinkle of brown sugar and cinnamon to taste before serving. Serve warm.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Frugal Fun Mini Muffin Treats

I love to have some Jiffy Mix in my pantry. I like to pick up a variety of those super cheap muffin mixes to have on hand when I want to bake a little quick bread or snack on short notice.

So it was short notice when Marcy and me decided on Tuesday night that we might lose our minds if we had to spend the rest of "Fall Break" drinking wine and listening to 5 kids whine about wanting to go to Skate Park hauling the kids to the skate park. That is when we hit on the idea of scrounging up the funds to head up to the mountains to Indian Hot Springs Lodge and getting a couple of cabins for a night. We did some creative math and figured we could swing it if we could cover all the food from our pantry supplies.

We came up with a menu of:
Lunch - tuna or egg salad sandwiches, carrot and celery sticks and dip
Dinner- spaghetti and meatballs, Caesar salad, garlic bread, choice of Cabernet or Root Beer
Breakfast- pancakes, bacon, eggs, English muffins, choice of Bloody Mary or MILK

We had all that covered and I pre-cooked the spaghetti and meatballs the night before so we only had to heat them up and toast the garlic bread, which worked out great. Then I thought since this was a special occasion of sorts we should have a treat for the kids. Jiffy Mix Chocolate Muffin Mix to the rescue!

I decided to make mini muffins because kids love mini things. And I used two boxes of mix and ended up with 42 muffins so there were plenty to go around for 5 kids. (Approx. cost less than $1.50!)
I always spray my paper muffin liners with a little non-stick spray so they will peel off clean without ripping half of the muffin off. I just hate that! Then I dropped a little dollop of peanut butter into the center of each chocolate muffin.
The peanut butter melted as the muffins baked and made these nice little streaks of peanut buttery goodness.
I mixed up a half batch of Hershey's cocoa buttercream frosting and happened to have a container of orange sprinkles with little bats so that added a little to the "Fall Break" festivities. These were definitely a hit and the kids didn't even lick the frosting off and throw the muffins away, they ate them all.
After relaxing in the pool all afternoon the kids were ready to head back to the cabin for a good spaghetti and meatball feast.
It was a Thursday night and when we trekked back to the pool for the evening we found that we had the whole place all to ourselves! That's when we decided maybe "Fall Break" isn't such a bad idea after all.

I am linking up to these Frugal Friday Parties. Go check them out!


Monday, October 18, 2010

Too Many Cooks or Too Few?

We are going to try this again.

Menu planning that is. It has been suggested that each mom here should be responsible for planning, shopping and preparing 2 meals each week, leaving one night open for leftover buffet, going out or what have you. I am not sure that we are all "bought in" on this plan but it is a plan. Big K took the initiative to do some menu planning for this week based on what we have in the various storage facilities around the house. Next week we will try to be a little more organized.

The kids are out of school for "Fall Break" whatever that is. We haven't quite figured that out. What do you do on "Fall Break?" You can't go to the lake too cold, you can't go skiing too warm, and who has the money for a trip to Disneyland when the holidays are fast approaching? So this week will also include some day trips to find some cheap entertainment and there goes the plan, out the window again. Sigh.

Sunday - Italian Beef sandwiches with pepperoncini, Olive and Goat Cheese Pasta Salad (Recipes below)

Monday - Roasted pork tenderloin, asparagus, rice pilaf

Tuesday - Spaghetti and meatballs, bread, salad

Wednesday - Homestyle pot roast with potatoes and carrots

Thursday - Leftover Buffet

Friday - Margarita chicken, black beans, rice

Saturday - Pizza


Olive and Goat Cheese Pasta Salad

1 lb package curly pasta cooked
1/2 can black olives sliced
1/2 small bottle of sliced green olives with pimento
1/2 cup celery cleaned and chopped
1/4 cup thin sliced red onion
1 small package crumbled goat cheese
2-3 tablespoons cider vinegar
drizzle of olive oil
2-3 teaspoons Salad Supreme Seasoning
1/4 cup Light Caesar Salad dressing

Toss all ingredients together while pasta is still slightly warm. Cool to room temp or chill before serving.

Italian Beef Sandwiches (Spicy!)

1 Round roast or sirloin tip roast
1 jar whole pepperoncini
1 box beef broth
1 tsp Italian seasoning
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
1/2 onion sliced
Salt and pepper
olive oil

Rub the roast with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven and brown roast on all sides on medium heat. Add all the remaining ingredients. Cover tightly and roast in oven at 350 for 2 1/2 hours. Remove meat from pan, slice thinly and return to pan, continue cooking in oven for another hour. Serve on toasted hard rolls, spoon a little of the broth and the peppers on top of meat. This is spicy! You can cut back on the pepperoncinis if you want it less spicy, or don't put all the juice from the peppers in.