Busy Week

This past week was pretty busy, but very rewarding.

Top of the list:

I got to have my friends 1 1/2 year old little girl, Charlotte, stay with me….cause my friends were at the hospital having twins!  Mama, Daddy and twins are doing well.  I loved having little Charlotte stay with me…Jules and Jane doted, fought and loved on Charlotte.  So cute.

Here she is in all her little cuteness.

Charlotte did so well in a new place, away from her Mama and Daddy.  Miss her little face already.

While Charlotte was with us, I took on a couple of canning projects.

Recipes to come – but we did dilly beans, strawberry jam and crushed tomatoes.

And then this happened…..

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We introduced a new kitty into our family.   Our last kitty, Lillian, died about a year ago and the girls have been pretty persistent in their requests.  We picked this kitty up from the Yellowstone Animal Shelter, where she was being held as a stray.  I do not know much about her history, only that she is 3 and was living under a front deck for about a month before Animal Control was called to pick her up.

We named her Harriet the Cat, or HarryCat.  She has come when called a few times….but it seems to be more of a coincidence.  We are working on it.  HarryCat is so docile and sweet.  She has been very accepting of the kids and dogs.

Crap!  I almost forgot.  Dave and I had our Birthdays as well.  Obviously, there was not a lot of time for birthday exploits….but we will celebrate at a later date.   😉

 

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Details in the *new* White Kitchen – Using Contact Paper

As seen in my previous post (click here), I painted my lowers white.  I am working on the long game for the kitchen and narrowing down my design choices for its future.  I have a lot of ideas swirling in my head and quite frankly its hard to get a grasp on all the things I want to do.  Fancy stove, restaurant style reach-in fridge, island with drink fridge, new pantry….the list is long and funds will definitely not stretch that far.  I think I should distract myself from the long game…don’t you?

Yeah!  Distraction time.

I had some left over chalkboard contact paper from the Bathroom project and I decided to use it on the inside of one upper cabinet.

turned into this

As you can see, I had a rough time cutting off the bottom edge but otherwise it was an easy install.  I then used some command hooks to secure my measuring cups.

Another contact paper project – was just your standard lining of our drawers and cabinets.

More pretty distraction!

The contact paper was an easy and quick project that really cleaned up the kitchen.  Our cabinets are the old 1979/1980 dark wood style that seems to suck the light away from you…so getting those insides painted out and lined really helped lighten everything up.  I kept the chalkboard contact paper on the inside of only one door so I did not negate all the good the other contact paper did.

 

*new* White Kitchen

Dave and I have a long term plan for our kitchen and the work that we have put into it till now, is prep for the remodel/gut job.  One of the things that we recently decided on was the choice of a white kitchen.  In order to confirm this choice, I painted our lowers to match our white uppers.

Before:

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Current:

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Here are some inspiration shots:

 

Love the floors and the slick fronts of the cupboards

This one is very close to what I like….just a few tweaks to my taste

This plywood and white kitchen is amazing….and gives me so many ideas.

 Our plan is to extend real wood floors throughout the entire top floor.  Hopefully, the flooring will be reclaimed flooring from the farm.  With the flooring comes the opportunity to take out the L shaped wall where our pass through is and make it a true island.  Since we are doing all that work, we would like new cupboards.  I am happy with the all white, as it brightens the whole kitchen AND dining room.  It is going to be an act of extreme effort on my part to narrow down my likes and preferences into one cohesive design and get it in…without changing my mind a few hundred times before and after it is completed.
What do you think of the white?  And which parts of the inspiration picture do you like?

Garden Tomato puree base for future meals

My garden is exploding in tomatoes…which I love…..I am just adjusting my plans with the tomatoes that are ripening as I go.  I have only had a handful ripe at one time, so I have been able to easily make meals and/or snacks with them.  This past week, I have had too many to work into our meals and not enough friends who like tomatoes (hello!).  Hopefully, towards the end of summer – my mom and I will be canning together….but now I am making a frozen tomato puree to use in future meals.

Like my hard water??

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  • 20 roma tomatoes
  • 6 heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon basil, oregano, thyme
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 chopped extra large onion or 1 small onion
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • salt/pepper

I used my blender to puree all the tomatoes with a cup of water and added that to a large pot…..um..that pic doesn’t have all of them.

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At this time, I started sauteing the onion with a dash of salt and pepper.  Just towards the end, I added in the garlic….being careful not to burn it.

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Then it all goes into the pot with the tomatoes.  Then add the rest of the spices and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.

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I taste tested mine as I went to ensure that it was not overpowering on the spices and still maintained a strong tomato taste.  I want to use this as a base in future meals and since I have different options as to what those meals will be….I want to keep it loose.

After the mixture cooled, I poured it into some freezer bags and placed them in the freezer.

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All in all – I am happy with the result and will let you know what meals I end up using this for.

Right off the bat, I am thinking – spaghetti, barley soup, chili and chicken makhani.

Freezer Meals – Crock Pot style

My schedule is changing next week and in preparation I decided to try a series of freezer meals.

I devoted the evening before to finding recipes that my family and I would be interested in eating over the next few weeks and then compiled my shopping list.  I spent 30 (!!!!!) minutes in Costco getting the items that I needed -spending less than $200.  I only walked away with a few things in my cart that weren’t on the original list.  My recipes came from two different locations – http://www.5dollardinners.com/ and The New Creative Crock Pot Cookbook by Robin Taylor Swatt.  As I was choosing recipes – I picked those based on what I could alter to use similar ingredients and also to adjust based on my families taste.

This is as close a list as I can get – I made 2 each of the recipes.  So my list below is set up to support making 2 freezers bags of each recipe.

  • 25 to 30 chicken breast
  • 10 –  15 oz cans of diced tomatoes or 5 of the 28 oz cans and split each one in 2
  • 6 cans – 15 oz can of corn
  • roughly 20 lbs of potatoes
  • 1 bag onions
  • 12 red, yellow or orange peppers
  • 12 apples
  • sausage – I purchased a chicken apple sausage, based on recipe on http://www.5dollardinners.com/
  • 1 large bottle of BBQ sauce
  • 8 pork chops
  • 1 package stew meat
  • 2 boxes chicken broth
  • 4 cans of beans – your choice.  I used black beans
  • 2 cans coconut milk

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From the Crock Pot Cookbook

Chicken Provencal – adjusted for us……..Add into a Freezer bag

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 1 pepper – diced
  • 1 onion – sliced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can corn
  • salt pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning = 1 tsp each

Curried Apple Chickens – adjusted for us…….Add into a freezer bags

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 3 apples – peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion – diced
  • curry, salt, pepper = 1 tsp each
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Sunday Dinner Roast Beef – adjusted for us…….Add into a freezer bags

  • 1lb of the stew meat
  • 3 potatoes – chopped or sliced
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 onion – diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tsp Italian seasoning
  • salt, pepper = 1 tsp each

Italian Stew/Roast – adjusted for us…….Add into a freezer bags

  • 1lb of the stew meat
  • 3 potatoes – chopped or sliced
  • 1 pepper – diced
  • 1 onion – diced
  • 1 small can of diced tomatoes or half the large can
  • 3 tsp Italian seasoning
  • salt, pepper = 1 tsp each

From www.5dollardinners.com\   (you should check this site out – if you haven’t already – when I was searching for freezer meals, this was the first one that kept popping up)

Freezer meals

To make each one – dump in your crock pot and cook as listed below:

  • Thawed:  low for 6/8 hours
  • Frozen – kinda thawed:  low for 8 to 10 hours

I am excited to try the new ones and see how the 2 hours in the kitchen and the 1/2 hour of shopping pays off in the long run.  Do any of you guys do freezer meals?  This is new to me, so I want to know how it goes over the course of time.

Cherry Tomatoes with Angel Hair Pasta and Fried Green Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes with Angel Hair pasta and fried green tomatoes…….cause I can.  In case you haven’t guessed yet….I love tomatoes.  So that means that summer is my food heaven.

Cherry Tomatoes with Angel Hair pasta

  • Angel Hair pasta – made according to the package instructions and drained
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes

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Melt the butter in your skillet, add in your minced garlic – being careful not to burn it.

 

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Add in your tomatoes and the lemon juice.

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Then your pasta!

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I plated with basil and mozzarella.

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Fried Green Tomatoes

  • green tomato
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs

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Cut your tomato into roughly 1/4 inch slices.  3 bowls – 1 with the flour and paprika, 1 with the egg and milk, 1 with the breadcrumbs.  Put your slices in the flour bowl, then the egg bowl and finish in the bread crumb bowl.  In a small skillet with some canola oil – fry on each side till nice and brown.

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Oh My Goodness- fab.  Fab and Fast!  I did all this in less than a Drunk History episode on Hulu…..Specifically the Nashville one from Season 1.

 

Chicken with Orzo and veggies

New recipe experiment.  I bought a bunch of wheat Orzo that has been sitting in my cupboard…while I have been using the same old, same old recipe for it.  NOT TODAY.  Here is what I did:

  • 2 chicken breasts – cooked and sliced up
  • 2 cups cooked Orzo
  • 1 cup sauteed broccoli florets
  • 1 cup sauteed pepper slices (red, yellow or green)
  • corn (from a can or boiled/grilled on the cob and then sliced off)
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

I started with cooking the Orzo – 1 cup uncooked Orzo into boiling, salted water.  I cooked for roughly 9 minutes – stirring every once in awhile.  I then drained and set aside.  In my skillets, I made the chicken and broccoli/peppers (roughly 10 minutes).  I then added all (including the corn) to the same pot –

IMG_2057I added lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.  I also had 1/2 a loaf of sourdough bread that I toasted.

IMG_2059This made WAY more than my family of 4 needed…..but I saved 1/2 as a freezer meal.  It will be a nice dinner on another night when I am running short on ideas/time.