Frugal Kitchen 101
Tues Sept 16, 2014
I love to cook! I love to bake!! I guess I just always thought everyone felt the same way I do. My sister is the exception to my thinking because sadly, the girl cannot boil water. Really! She put a pot of water on the stove and forgot it and all of the water evaporated. Seriously, a true story. I guess I had never really had a serious kitchen talk with my family and friends and when I decided to, I was shocked that only about a quarter of them really like to be in the kitchen or don’t really know even the basics of cooking and baking. So I decided to come up with Kitchen 101 for everyone that dreads going into the kitchen to prepare a meal or dessert. I want you to love it as much as I do and if you make it fun, you will!!
One thing that I always like to do in the kitchen is wear a cute apron. It makes me feel all chef like and sexy at the same time. I know it sounds weird but I feel my whole personality change when I tie up my cute black apron with the white checked frills on the pockets. I feel myself shift into my alter ego, Barefoot Nana. Yes that’s another thing I love to do in the kitchen and yes I know it’s cliche but bare feet on the tile floor just feels good! I am a messy cook so it is inevitable that I will be toes deep in sugar or flour before the process is done. It just feels right!!
The next step in creating my kitchen ambiance is music. It may be my iPod or an ancient boom box I tote into the kitchen or even the CMT channel on the tv, it doesn’t matter because music soothes the savage beast as well as the stressed out cook. So let me paint the picture: Me in my super cute apron, bare feet with neon pink toes, strutting around the kitchen listening to Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert belt about Something Bad. Dirty floor, dirty dishes in the sink and me singing along as I whisk an egg or Marinade some meat. My hubby will poke his head into the kitchen to watch me shake my moneymaker ( which by the way has never made me a dime unless you count the dollar that the hubby stuck in my apron strings) shaking his head and laughing.
One thing I do not skimp on in the kitchen is tools and utensils. Yes the cheap ones work but they don’t last and it’s a worthwhile investment on your journey to loving the kitchen. There’s nothing worse than whipping some cream and your whisk falls apart. With all of the coupons you can find on sites like savings.com , you can find ways to get the good stuff for the frugal chef prices. I especially love Sierra Trading post for my little kitchen goodies as well as sites like Foodnetwork.com. One of my most favorite places to shop for the kitchen is Amazon, where you can find just about anything!
If you don’t have an old shoe box filled with passed-down family recipes, or a bookshelf full of cookbooks, don’t sweat it! The internet has every recipe you can imagine and then some. My favorite recipe sites are Foodnetwork, foodie.com, allrecipes.com and of course, my addiction site, Pinterest. You can follow me on Pinterest as I add recipes all of the time!!!
Now I have a tiny, tiny outdated kitchen with very little space so I know how hard it can be to get organized but it can be done. Since the money for a remodel is not in the cards, I make do. Again I go to my favorite site, Pinterest for inspiration. Organization is essential to make a happy relaxed cook.
There are always solutions that you can find or even DIY. If your kitchen is organized then it makes it much easier to have a fun kitchen and a relaxed and happy cook.
Wed Sept 17, 2014
I’m Back!!! Because I had a Dr. Appointment today and all of my errands to do, I did not get to cook tonight 😦 bummer! But I did get to have my new favorite food, the pretzel pizza from Little Caesars. Yes it is AMAZING!!! But I did miss my therapy time in the kitchen today. Tomorrow’s menu is playing out in my head like a well-loved tune that I can’t stop thinking about. We are having steak, New York strip to be exact. They are lovingly cradled in a container of vinaigrette dressing as I type and will remain in their peaceful slumber all night and most of tomorrow. All of that oil and seasonings makes a perfect blanket for the beef and will make it juicy and tender while it is being prepared tomorrow. I ALWAYS marinate meat no matter what kind I am using. I will sometimes let it sit for just a couple of hours when in a pinch but my go-to is an overnight soak. For beef like steaks and roast I will add a little garlic powder, parsley and some season all, Lawry’s is my preferred choice. For chicken I will add garlic powder, poultry seasoning and some paprika. For pork I add garlic powder, onion powder, season all and a bit of brown sugar! You can add any spices you and your family prefer but I always strongly suggest garlic powder. Paula Deen has her butter, I have my garlic powder. Too much garlic, said no one ever: well at least in my head that’s true.
When I am making burgers I change it up a bit and marinade the ground beef for just an hour or so in Worcestershire sauce and season all. When I am ready to cook them, I add… you guessed it, garlic powder. When you cook a burger, never-never never smash the burger. This lets all of those amazing juices ooze all over and makes a dry burger. You can flip them all you want but don’t press down. Another little trick to keep your patties from shrinking is, as you make the patties and place them in the pan, take your thumb and make a little indentation in the meat. It keeps them fat and happy! Another little trick I use when making burgers is as they cook, take a little hot water and pour it into the sizzling pan ( I only cook with cast iron because in my book all others are just wannabes!) only use about 2-3 teaspoons of water and stand back because the steam will rise and you don’t wanna burn! It gives them a little boost and keeps them moist. When its time to add cheese to the burgers I place the desired type and then cover the pan with a large lid to help the cheese melt evenly. I then remove the burgers and place the buns in the burger drippings and let then sit for just a couple of minutes on low. It gives the bread soooooo much flavor and a little crunch. Burgers are such a versatile thing to cook and you can add just about anything you want and still have an amazing meal. Some of my favorites are:
Bacon stuffed burgers
Simply cook up some bacon, crisp then crumble it. As you are making your patties, simply add the bacon then cover with more meat. Roll into a ball then press in your palms to desired size and cook. Another variation on this is to add cheese and bacon, using shredded cheese it easier or go gourmet and add a cheese like brie or smoked gouda!
After adding your seasoning to the ground beef, pour in a little of your favorite bbq sauce and then form the patties. when the burgers are cooking and almost done brush on some more bbq sauce. My faves are Dimples BBQ sauce which you can get on their website or Jack Daniels BBQ sauce. Pair with a cheese like Colby jack and it’s delish!
Tex Mex Burgers
add taco seasoning mix to your ground beef and add in some onion, green onion and even some diced jalapeno. Make your patties and cook. as they are cooking spoon on some salsa and let finish frying. top with some cheddar jack and some more salsa~
Feta Stuffed Burgers
Add a little mediterranean dressing and feta cheese to your ground beef then make the patties. Place in the pan with some EVOO ( extra virgin olive oil) and even a little on top of the burger. Add some garlic to the pan and the aroma will make you drool! Top with more feta and some lettuce and enjoy!
My hope is that you will not only have fun in the kitchen with burgers but get adventurous and make up your own creations. Every cook fails so do not be afraid to try. Some of the best recipes in the world came about from “mistakes”.
Sunday September 21, 2014.
Today we are going to talk about one of my favorite things to prepare, pasta sauce. I use this sauce for spaghetti, mastaccioli, and lasagna. I also use it on chicken parmesan and even on steaks. Since most of us have very little time to prepare a meal, I will make large quantity and freeze enough for several meals in freezer safe containers. All you have to do is pull one container out, defrost in the fridge during the day or even in the microwave while you are boiling your pasta. It is a super easy sauce because it starts with Ragu traditional. This will make enough for 3 meals of 4-5 servings each.
3 jars of Ragu traditional
2-3 pounds ground chuck
1 medium onion diced
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbs parsley
2 tbs oregano
2 tbs sugar or splenda
Fry up the ground beef with the onion and drain off excess grease ( I only use cast iron cookware because you cannot beat the flavor)
Add the jars of Ragu and let simmer on low for about 10 minutes
then add all of the spices and the sugar and let simmer for 10 more minutes,
Finally, add the garlic. ( if you add garlic to any dish, if you add it last you will get a stronger garlic flavor. If you add it early in the process, the garlic flavor will be diminished.) I always add garlic last for full flavor. Let simmer for 10 minutes and your done.
If you are not using it right away, store it in 3 freezer safe containers for future use.
For spaghetti, I do a baked spaghetti. I cook my noodles and then heat up one of the containers of sauce in a pan. Once hot I add it to the noodles and mix. I then place the mixture into a 9×13 casserole pan and cover in an assortment of shredded Italian cheeses. ( you can even add Italian sausage, pepperoni or prosciutto. I bake it in the oven at 350 degrees until the cheese is bubbly. Make sure when mixing the spaghetti and sauce that you have enough sauce to completely cover the noodles or they will get dry while baking. Serve with salad or home-made garlic bread.
Home made garlic bread recipe: ( super easy)
I loaf of Italian bread sliced to the thickness you prefer ( I like the loaves from the deli at Kroger)
Butter or margarine
grated parmesan cheese
provolone cheese slices ( Sargento thin 45 calorie slices work perfectly)
Lay the slices on a cookie sheet and butter each one to your liking.
sprinkle garlic powder over each buttered slice ( I love garlic flavor so I use more than some probably do)
sprinkle parsley over each slice
sprinkle parmesan over each slice
then layer provolone on each slice
bake at 350 until cheese is bubbly
If your like me then you will skip the spaghetti and devour the bread 🙂
Next post will be my lasagna recipe that gets devoured in 10 minutes flat in my home. My normally harmonious family will actually fight over the last slice.