Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Today's Special... kind of (4/26-5/02)

So this is going to be a short week because we're going camping this weekend. I don't really want to have to buy groceries this week, so I'm just gonna keep it simple and try to use what I already have on hand.

Sunday: Toasty Cheese Sandwiches and Tomato Soup ( I didn't feel like making anything ok?)

Monday: Moorish Style Chickpea and Spinach Stew (I heard about this on NPR on the way home from work, see my comments at the end of the post for more details)

Tuesday: Hamburger Stroganoff and veggies

Wednesday: Tuna Patties with veggies and Rolls

Thursday: Pizza

Weekend: Camping (we're probably gonna have gourmet meals like hotdogs and/or chili)

So I realize the Moorish Stew looks weird. I don't think I would've ever tried it, except I was driving home from work yesterday, listening to NPR. They just happened to be doing a segment about making super cheap meals for your family. They had a contest sort of thing going to see who could make the best meal for 4 people for under $10 (this is actually quite a bit I think). So as an example they had this chef, Jose Andres make the recipe he had submitted. It sounded a bit weird but the host lady vouched for it and said that even though she and her crew had been skeptical, that the dish turned out really good. If you happen to go to the link for the stew, you'll have to scroll down the page to see the actual recipe. There are some weird and/or uncommon ingredients in the list so I wanted to give you my substitutions. I think it generally turned out like it was supposed to. I was actually pretty surprised at how good it was. It had a lot of flavor and it was super cheap to make (especially because I didn't use any saffron). If you follow the original recipe on the link, make sure you don't forget to add the cumin... it never tells you to put it in. I ate half a bowl of the stuff before I remembered it. Although, it still tasted really good without it!

Karen's Adaptation of Moorish-Style Chickpea and Spinach Stew

2 (15 oz) cans Great Northern White Beans, rinsed and drained (I didn't have any chickpeas)
6 garlic cloves, peeled and whole
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 slices white bread with crusts removed
2 Tbsp. Paprika
1 pinch Spanish saffron (I didn't have any)
2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and white pepper to taste

Put the beans in a large saucepan and add water, just until beans are covered. Bring to a boil. While waiting for beans to boil, in a small saute pan over medium to low heat, brown the garlic in 1/4 cup of the olive oil. When the garlic is browned, after about 3 minutes, remove from the pan and set aside. Add the bread and brown on both sides, about one minute each side. Remove the bread and set aside.

Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Add the paprika and saffron (if you have it) to the saute pan and stir to combine with remaining oil. Add the balsamic vinegar.

Combine the bread and garlic in a bowl and smash with a fork to make a very thick paste (it may be more of a crumbly mixture).

When the chickpeas start to boil, add the spinach. Turn down heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the paprika mixture along with the garlic and bread paste and cumin to create a thick, stewy sauce. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hurry! You don't have much time!

Ok everyone... do you realize today is exactly 3 months til my birthday!? I hope you've already started planning. In fact if you haven't gotten me something already you're WAY behind. I'll be able to tell if you go out and get me a last minute gift. And you better be really quiet about the surprise party because I'll be really ticked if I find out about it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Today's Special 4/19-4/25

Sorry this post is a little late, but it's not like there's a million of you waiting on the edge of your seats for this anyway! *UPDATE: Sorry I forgot to post which recipes were new.

Sunday: We had leftover enchiladas. But, you already ate something anyway, right?

Monday: French Dip Sandwiches with Coleslaw (new recipe... made it last night... a little strong for my taste...feel free to choose your own recipe)

Tuesday: Kelly's Chili with Cornbread

Wednesday: Chicken Fried Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Veggies

Thursday: Leftovers

Weekend: Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce and Chicken (new recipe, but Corinne said it was good so if it's not you can blame her!)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

YOUR Favorite Recipes

I have realized something very interesting now that I've actually started planning my meals and grocery shopping every week. I'm spending a lot on groceries! Not that I make really expensive stuff by any means, but I want to make a concerted effort to really cut costs AND make delicious food. So this is where YOU come in. What are your favorite, cheap recipes? I need some ideas! Also, if you want to tell me about your regular cost favorite recipes, you can do that too (just specify as such). Just think, maybe YOUR recipe will be on my next menu... you'll be FAMOUS! Oh and just to get your ideas flowing, I just tried the recipe listed below last night and it rocked! So cheap and extremely easy. It sounded not too good, but I was really surprised at how awesome it was! I think it would actually be better as a side dish (ate it with some leftover roast today for lunch... so delicious!) but, you could eat it as a meatless cheap main dish too.

Brown Rice and Lentil Casserole (Yes Annie, it's ANOTHER lentil recipe)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

April Fools Forever

My whole childhood was a perpetual April Fools Day. With my dad around, we were never safe.

Lesson #1: Remember that anything you do to Dad will be returned 10 fold.

It's hard to imagine, but at one time none of the adorable Holley girls were around. It was just the newlywed couple... Fred and Denise. My mother (still apparently naive about my dad's capabilities) decided it would be fun to play a joke on my dad on their very first April Fools Day together (how sweet!). So, while my dad was at work, she went around the house and unscrewed all the light bulbs. Man she'd gotten him good! Or did she?

In the middle of the night by mom got up to use the bathroom. When she went to turn on the light, she remembered her light bulb trick and thus proceeded in the dark to take care of her business. My dad has always been a light sleeper and I'm sure he was lying in bed wide awake just seconds later when he heard, "Oh s*#@!"

To get back at my mom for her light bulb shenanigan, Dad put Saran wrap covered in honey on the toilet seat. I'm not sure what my mom thought was worse... the fact that my dad got her back, or that he used her own trick against her.

Lesson #2: Things are not always as they appear.

I stumbled down to breakfast one Saturday, plopped in my chair, and waited patiently for my pancakes and eggs. When my plate was handed to me I noticed my egg was 'sunny side up'... not my favorite, but I took it and didn't say anything. I hate getting syrup on my eggs so I decided to eat my egg first to get it out of the way. I grabbed my fork and stabbed at the bright yellow yolk. It wouldn't break! What was going on here? Then it dawned on me... it was plastic. "Hey Dad! This isn't real!" They all busted out in laughter. I'd fallen for the oldest trick in the book. *Note: I must have been fairly young because that egg didn't look even close to real (see pic below). If you want to use this on your children, start early!

On another occasion, I came to the table to eat dinner. We were having hamburgers... yum! I got my burger and dug right in... chomp! The burger was extremely chewy and I couldn't get my teeth through it. "Mom! I don't think my hamburger is done!" Yeah, because we all know that when hamburger isn't cooked properly it becomes insanely chewy and impossible to eat. It's a safety feature. Ok, so I fell for the old fake hamburger patty gag. At least this time the thing actually looked real.

We had a cocker spaniel named T.C. for several years when I was young. She always slept in my room at night and would inevitably wake me up to be let outside in the middle of the night. Sometimes she would just wander around out in the yard and I'd get impatient and go back to bed. I'd always be woken up a short time later from her barking and have to go and get her. I don't think I had a good nights sleep for about 10 years. So T.C. would usually do this routine a couple times a night... she'd scratch on my bed or door to be let out, even though she didn't actually have to go outside. So, a lot of times I would just ignore her.

One morning my dad came into my room pretty early and woke me up. "Karen! Get out of bed, you didn't let that dumb dog out last night and now she's pooped on the floor. Get down and clean it up!" He grabbed my bare hand and pulled me out of bed towards the large pile of dog poo sitting on the carpet beside my bed as I screamed bloody murder. "NOOO! I'll clean it up! I'll clean it up! I'm SORRRY! NOOO!" I knew he was going to make me grab the poop. My resistance was futile and Dad finally made my hand touch the poo. Wait a minute... it was really hard.... and not smelly. A wave of relief hit me... IT WAS FAKE. Praise the Lord! I was so relieved. Then of course we took the poop and played the joke on Annie. It was hilarious! Oh and just so you know, that was the most realistic looking piece of fake poop ever. (I'll spare you a picture although just so you know... I COULD have posted one.)

Then there was the time my dad came in my room in the morning and put an earthworm on my pillow. Why? I don't know. But it took me a minute to realize what it was. I thought it was a piece of my hair that he'd cut off or something.

Dad has this creepy old man mask he loves to wear to scare kids when he passes out candy on Halloween (and other various occasions). I still remember the first time we saw that mask...
Corinne, Annie and I came home from elementary school one day and as we walked into the kitchen, we saw someone sitting in the lazyboy chair down in the family room. Normally there was no one home when we got back from school, so of course we were immediately alarmed. This person was an old creepy bald guy just sitting there with a red and black checkered blanket on his lap... rocking slowly back and forth and staring at us. I looked at Corinne, Corinne looked at Annie, Annie looked at me. We weren't really sure what to do. We just stood there for a moment and stared. Then we started whispering to each other, "Is that Dad?" "I don't know" "I bet it's Dad" "I can't tell!" Then Corinne got brave, "Dad? Is that you?" He just sat there and stared. "We know that's you!" We just stood there. Then the man got up and started coming towards us. We all got into fight or flight pose. The old man lunged at us, "RAWRRR!" "AHHHH!" "Dad we knew it was you!" Dad pulled off his mask... "Yeah right. You birds were shakin in your boots. You need to go upstairs and change your shorts now!"

I was actually surprised that I found a picture of THE mask online... see it's creepy huh!

So as a conclusion... DO NOT play tricks on Dad. He WILL get you back and you WILL be sorry. You just have to take what he dishes out because if you try to fight back, it'll only get worse.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Today's Special 4/12-4/18

Sorry this post is a little late... this meal planning thing comes up on me fast!

Sunday: Grilled Santa Maria Tri-Tip Roast with Baked Potatoes, Steamed Asparagus, Rolls, and Banana Cream Pie with Banana Graham Crust and Whipped Cream.

Monday: Pork Chops and Apples in Mustard Sauce (new recipe) with Green Beans

Tuesday: My Favorite Lasagna with mixed vegetables

Wednesday: Leftovers! (I realized I had way too much food if I make something every night).

Thursday: Cheese Enchiladas with corn

Weekend: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Tomato Soup

p.s. For all those of you who live in the Ogden, UT vicinity, Snider's Family Meats is a great place to get meat. It's much better quality than at the regular grocery store and usually cheaper. I linked to their web page on the tri-tip roast above. Their store is on Harrison by Weber State and McKay Dee Hospital.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Quickie

Can I just say that I really really hate cutting my fingernails? You'd think I'd like it seeing as how I used to bite my nails as a kid and loved to see them when they actually grew. Not now. I wish they would stay the exact same perfect length all the time. It seems like they get huge overnight.

It's not so much the clipping I hate... but the filing. Eck. I hate filing my nails. It feels gross and smells gross and it's just annoying. Am I weird? Probably. The main thing that bothers me about it is that I can't put it off and just not do it. I can't function with these enormous velociraptor talons. They start to make a clicking sound when I type on the computer and my fingers slide all over the piano keys and make me mess up when I play. Then they inevitably get caught on something and bend backwards or tear off and it hurts like hell.

I realize this post is a tad on the gross/whiny/who cares side. Oh well... now you know what this great mind thinks about during the off times.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Stupid Blogger

Can I just say that I hate this damn Blogger software?! It's so incredibly frustrating to use. I swear it takes me ten times longer to create a post than it should because this thing just makes up its own rules about formatting from one day to the next! Every time you insert a picture it goes to the top of the post and then for some stupid reason it adds in like fifty extra spaces between paragraphs so you have to keep deleting all the spaces. Then it looks good when it's on the edit screen but it looks different in the preview so you try to adjust the spacing and it won't reflect your changes.. or it exaggerates them . Lately I've tried to go back and adjust/edit posts and it won't let me! I enter the changes and then it won't update them in my posts! ARGHH!! I'm about to smash this computer against the wall!

So, as a final comment... no I'm not an idiot that purposefully tries to make her posts hard to read or makes links that don't work (there's one I tried to fix unsuccessfully on this week's menu)... this stupid blogger is a piece of junk. When are these people going to fix it? It's not like this is rocket science! {hair tearing out followed by gnashing of teeth and cursing}

Today's Special 4/5-4/11

Man I really didn't feel like planning this week's menu, but I did so you better not complain.

Sunday: Plan your own meal! Annie's making my dinner! :D

Monday: Linguine with White Clam Sauce with steamed carrots- this is a new recipe to use up my leeks

Tuesday: Sloppy Joes with Potato Salad (I don't have a written recipe for this yet)

Wednesday: Spinach & Four Cheese Manicotti I was going to make My Favorite Lasagna but I had some ricotta cheese to use up. The leftover spaghetti sauce from last week works well with both. Oh I like to use large shells instead of manicotti because they don't tear as easily and are easier to stuff.

Thursday: Lentil Loaf with Checca Sauce with steamed broccoli and rolls (a new recommended recipe... thanks Heidi and Paul!)

Weekend: Pot Stickers with Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce (there are no sides... what do you think I am, a MACHINE?)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Muscle Motion

For a brief time when I was a kid, we did morning workouts as a family. Of course we complained and dragged our feet getting out of bed to do it, but I think we all secretly liked it. There may be a good reason why.

I didn't realize at the time that the workout video we used was not your average run-of-the-mill workout. It was a somewhat funny video, but it was actually pretty hard to do. My dad would usually turn the volume down low because there was a woman's voice that would say really cheesy stuff. The video had only men working out. Men that were usually in some sort of costume, you know, like a doctor or a construction worker or an acrobat. This was normal, right? Didn't you have loads of workout videos like this?

I remember going to my great grandma's funeral during this family fitness period. One of my aunts found out we were working out so of course we had to show off our muscles. All us girls tightened our stomachs so she could feel our rock hard abs. It was great.
I've started and stopped many exercise regimens over the years, usually incorporating some kind of fitness video into my routine. However, I could never get that one workout video out of my mind. It was such a great workout and entertaining to boot. That's not very common.

Once during a family gathering my sisters and I asked my dad about that workout video. He claimed to no longer own it, but said that it was a Chippendale's workout video. WHA?! We all thought it was the most hilarious thing ever. It hadn't shown any naked men or been unsuitable for children so don't be too alarmed. Maybe it was for men who wanted to look like Chippendale's dancers? I don't know.

So here's the funny part. I want to get back in shape again and I really wanted that video. I'd made a couple half-hearted attempts at finding it online, but without a name to go on and not knowing any details, I kept hitting a dead-end. Then the other night, I somehow hit the jackpot. I finally found out the name of the video! It was called Muscle Motion and was made in 1983. Then I found it on Amazon! I am not kidding you, a new copy of the video was $50! What?! Who knew this video was a collectible? Don't worry, I didn't buy a $50 Chippendales workout video. I bought a used one for $9! Hee hee hee! I can't wait till it gets here. Yeah, you can feel my abs, just give me a month to work on them with my new Chippendales buddies.

See, doesn't it look fun?!