Published on July 23, 2012 by Renee
Every mom knows that having a baby can put a huge dent in the family coffers. Fortunately with a little time and effort you can lessen that dent by making your own baby food instead of buying prepackaged food.
Let me first break down the difference. I do have to note that I live in Hawaii so my savings margin is less because produce tends to be more expensive here unless it’s local.
I compared two of the foods my son eats the most of: butternut squash and sweet potato. For both the squash and the sweet potato the prepackaged food came out to 14.3 cents per ounce.
The fresh food is harder to measure but I freeze it in ice cube trays and one ice cube is roughly one ounce so that’s how I measured it. The sweet potato came out to 8 cents an ounce and the squash came out to 12.9 cents an ounce. The squash is a little higher because it came from California.
Making your own baby food is really easy. First you cook the food. For both the squash and the sweet potato I bake it. The sweet potato gets wrapped in tin foil and the squash gets cut in half, cut side down on a cookie sheet. I bake both for 40 minutes at 400 degrees, sometimes longer if it’s a particularly large one.
Once the vegetable is cooked, you just scoop out the insides and put it into a food processor or a blender. Process until nice and creamy. You don’t want there to be any chunks left.
After pureeing, spoon the puree into ice cube trays. You want to make sure you have ice cube trays with a lid. I got mine at the PX, they’re the oxo brand that has a lid that slides off.
Leave in the ice cube trays until completely frozen. Once the puree is completely frozen I run a little water over the back, pop the cubes out, and place them in a freezer bag labeled with the food and the date. Make sure you mark what type of food it is because a lot of foods look similar once pureed.
See? Making your own baby food is super easy and it saves you money. Let me know some of your tips for saving money when you have kids!
Published on July 21, 2012 by Tabitha
For years now Friday has been our pizza and adult beverage night. Sometimes it’s just the three of us, sometimes the neighbors join in. I’m sure you know the drill: First you scour the web and the accumulated coupon pile looking for the best deal. Then spend the next 20 minutes trying to agree on toppings and type of crust that fits the special or coupon you have only to resort to “the usual” in the end. Then when it comes time to place the order, “someone” throws out “…it always tastes better when YOU order it” and you end up making the call. Of course, just when you think you’ve got it all figured out the not always friendly, talking so fast you can hardly understand them order taker on the other end of the phone has to throw you a curve ball by asking “did you want to add hot wings to that, we’ve got a special.” Mid-order changes almost always blows whatever savings you earned in the 45 minute think tank you just got out of.
Instead of going through all that rigmarole I recently began doing make-your-own pizza night instead. I know, the thought of making dough and all that flour all over your kitchen can be a bit of a turn-off but it’s much easier than you might thing. No, I’m not talking about those pre-baked cardboard tasting frisbees in the bread aisle. A lot of grocery stores and even some mom and pop pizza joints will sell you a pound of pizza dough at a really good price. (I usually pay $2.00 a pound). From the grocery store you have to roll out or stretch it but if you are making a round pizza you can easily turn the dough on the top of your fists and it will stretch out nicely to fit the pan. The little mom and pop places might even roll it out for you. Most little pizza places don’t advertise pizza dough for sale so you have to ask.
I also usually make my own tomato sauce but for pizza night it’s easier to open a can of premade sauce. My family likes the Del Monte Four Cheese variety that usually runs about a buck a can. One can will cover three to four pizzas. Add a bag of shredded mozzarella (about $2.50 and will cover at least two pizzas), a package of pepperoni (about $3 and is enough for at least two pizzas), bake 20 minutes in a 425 degree oven and you’ve got great pizza for at least half the price of delivery. (Oh yeah! Before I forget, oil the pizza pan or put some cornmeal down to keep your dough from sticking to it. )My family loves it because we usually each do our own pizza and there is no more high level negotiating and everyone gets what they want. My daughter goes for the classic pepperoni while my husband likes to add everything but the kitchen sink. I have settled on a great little number that has been dubbed “the girls pizza” which includes grilled chicken, feta cheese, onion, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes. No sauce and no mozzarella just a drizzle of olive oil on a garden herb flavored crust and I am in heaven! Sometimes I even sprinkle a little grated Parmesan cheese on the crust to be fancy.
I love to try out new combinations of toppings especially the sauce-less versions. What is your favorite pizza?
Published on July 21, 2012 by Samantha
I have a dream.
No, no, it’s nothing that big and grand. Nor is it nearly so compassionate and selfless.
I just want to own a bakery.
I can see it in my head – big comfy chairs, piles of books in case someone wants to read while waiting, display cases with all my yummy creations, and the coolest kitchen you could imagine.
I don’t dream of shoes and purses (though I do enjoy those…and my husband would say I don’t dream of them because I have every single one ever made, but he’s a man. He doesn’t get it.). I dream of double ovens and French door refrigerators with two freezers. I could spend hours in Macy’s kitchen section, drooling over the whisks and pans. I regularly try to convince my husband I need a kitchen blowtorch. (Seriously, guys, it’s the best way to make a crème brulee.) He’s hesitant so far.
I’ve already appointed my husband as the general manager of my dream bakery, because all I want to do is bake. I love playing with recipes and guessing on ingredients and adjusting and creating and hoping it turns out ok. I’ve made a few stinkers – please no one ask my husband about the orange French toast. To this day he’ll gag at the thought of ginger in ANYTHING. – but most of the time they come out alright.
It’s taken a while for me to get comfortable making stuff up – and I’m still not totally at ease with it. It’s intimidating to try and create something. My husband had to work for a while to convince me that the biggest problem if I mess up is that we all will have eaten something gross. How’s that going to hurt us? Once I accepted that, I have been a lot calmer and more creative. I hope to one day create a dessert as popular as, say, the chocolate chip cookie. It’s a long shot, but that’s what a dream is all about.
Until then, I will just keep dreaming, testing out recipes, and planning out that kitchen.
So tell me. What’s your biggest dream?
Published on July 21, 2012 by Trisha Kay
I found this recipe in the newspaper about 20 years ago. It’s a light chicken dish with lots of vegetables and my family always loved it. This is one of the first recipes I shared with my son when he decided he wanted to start cooking on his own. You can substitute your favorite vegetables to change it up. You can also use whole wheat pasta to make it healthier and “clean”.
Penne Di Pollo
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
¼ cup zucchini, sliced
¼ cup yellow squash, sliced
¼ cup leeks, sliced
1 tsp chopped garlic
6 oz chicken, roasted or grilled, cut into ½ inch strips
½ cup tomatoes, diced
12 whole basil leaves
½ tsp thyme leaves
½ cup broccoli florets
½ cup chicken stock
8 oz penne pasta, cooked
4 Tbsp Romano cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat olive oil in a sauté pan.
- Add zucchini, yellow squash and leeks.
- After about, two minutes, add garlic and chicken and cook for a few minutes more.
- Add tomatoes, then basil and thyme.
- Add broccoli and chicken stock, then reduce heat.
- Cook till broccoli is tender.
- Add chicken, vegetables and cheese to cooked pasta, toss and season with salt and pepper.
Served with salad and garlic bread, this makes a delicious, healthy and easy meal.
Published on July 20, 2012 by Trisha Kay
I found this recipe in Cook’s Country Magazine last year and I made it for dessert on 4th of July. Even though it looks like a lot of work, it really is pretty easy. They make for a light and very tasty dessert in the summertime.
Brown-Sugar Berry Shortcakes
Depending on the sweetness of the berries, you may have to use more or less brown sugar. If you don’t have a large ice cream scoop, divide the dough into six equal portions and use your hands to form shortcakes in a rough semispherical shape.
6 cups mixed berries (see How To Prepare Berries below)
4 – 6 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled, plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (for brushing on shortcakes)
1 large egg
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Brown-Sugar Cream Topping1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
How to Prepare Berries:
Fresh strawberries —Hulled, halved, and sliced
Fresh raspberries —Whole
Fresh blackberries —Halved
Fresh blueberries —Whole
- For the fruit: Crush 2 cups berries and brown sugar in large bowl with potato masher. Fold in remaining 4 cups berries and let sit at room temperature until sugar has dissolved and berries are juicy, about 30 minutes.
- For the shortcakes: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pulse flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in food processor until no lumps of sugar remain. Scatter chilled butter pieces over top and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 7 pulses. Transfer to large bowl.
- Whisk egg and sour cream together in small bowl. Stir into flour mixture with rubber spatula until large clumps form. Using hands, knead lightly until dough comes together and no dry flecks of flour remain.
- Using a large (#10) ice cream scoop, scoop 6 dough rounds onto baking sheet. Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking time. Cool shortcakes on baking sheet 10 minutes. (Cooled shortcakes can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and kept on counter for up to 24 hours.)
- For the topping: With electric mixer, beat heavy cream, sour cream, and brown sugar to stiff peaks. Split each shortcake in half using serrated knife and place bottoms on individual plates. Spoon portion of fruit over bottoms, top with whipped cream, and cap with shortcake tops. Serve.
Shortcakes by Hand: To make shortcakes without a food processor, freeze the stick of butter until hard and then grate it into the dry ingredients using the large holes of a box grater. Toss gently to distribute the butter evenly and proceed with the recipe.
Published on July 13, 2012 by Trisha Kay
I truly love food so I’m always happy when I find a really great place to eat with an amazingly different menu selection. One of my very favorites for breakfast is a small place in Phoenix called Dick’s Hideaway. It’s on the northwest corner of 16th Street and Bethany Home Road. It sits between Luci’s Café and Ace Hardware with no sign on its copper door. It’s truly hidden and hard to find, but well worth the hunt.
With its New Mexican fare, the food is original and delicious. Be sure to try their homemade Bloody Mary – extra spicy and comes with a shot glass of beer on the side. One of my favorite breakfast items is the thick sliced French toast with the very best New Mexico sausage links. I also love, love, love the Eggs Benedict Jalapeno, made with beef tenderloin or pork loin topped with a yummy jalapeno hollandaise sauce. They also have an amazing Carne Adovada, roast pork simmered in red chile and served on a tortilla plate. Other great choices are the Rellenos or Enchiladas. These breakfast dishes come with cooked to order eggs and most come with beans and fried potatoes. The large portions make for such a happy way to start my day.
They do serve lunch and dinner but I’ve never made it past breakfast. It’s a bit on the pricey side – $12 – $20 for breakfast, but so worth the extra money. It can get a little crowded on the weekends so you might want to go early or try a weekday. Dick’s Hideaway is a small place with a big menu and an experience worth finding.
If you have my appetite for life and food, I think you’ll love it as much as I do.
Eat Well and Live Happy
Published on May 10, 2012 by Ashley
It has officially been two weeks into my diet with Weight Watchers and it has started to get easier. I am a self-proclaimed food addict! I struggle with food cravings. The nice thing about Weight Watchers has been all the healthy recipes I have found that still taste delicious! So far, I’ve learned on this journey that it is all about moderation. Military spouse or not, this is tough.
I have the biggest sweet tooth. I love trying different dessert recipes and saving up any extra points to enjoy desserts. This week I’ve decided to share a favorite dessert recipe of mine.
Published on April 25, 2012 by Ashley
Now that our newest addition is 6 weeks old, I’ve decided it’s time to tackle my weight! After our 2nd son, Carter, I successfully lost over 20lbs with Weight Watchers. Starting today, I will begin incorporating some strict, healthy eating again! My first day didn’t come without challenges and neither will the months ahead. It will be hard to resist the conveniences of fast food and my love for sweet, caffeine drinks but the payoff will be worth it! My first goal is to slim down in time for a trip to Vegas with some old friends for a bachelorette party.