Apple Pecan Salad

One of our favorite salads is crunchy, sweet, and tangy, all at the same time.  We use Marzetti Simply Dressed Pomegranate Salad Dressing, (available at Smith’s, Harmon’s, and other places) the only store-bought dressing that I buy.

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Lettuce and spinach

Red onion

Gala apple

Pecans

Blue cheese

Marzetti Simply Dressed Pomegranate

Turn the oven to preheat at 425 degrees.  Place pecans on a baking tray and cook for 2-5 minutes, until they are fragrant – they burn soooooo fast, so watch carefully.  When they are done, roughly chop.  Wash and dry one large handful of romain lettuce and spinach leaves per person.  Sprinkle with chopped red onion, peeled and diced gala apple, toasted pecans and blue cheese crumbles.

Good eating.

Homemade Frozen Pizza

I know a lot of people who think that making homemade pizza is just too much work.  For me, it’s a relaxing time, to dig into dough, combine my favorite toppings, and reminisce about the many many wonderful memories centered around a large pizza pie.

Like the one time that I was in San Diego, and we ordered a deep dish pineapple pizza.  We were starving.  It was burning hot.  It was delicious!

We like to eat pizza on Fridays (or Mondays, we’re not picky).  But as a crazy busy family, that relaxing time to prep pizza does not exist.  So I went looking for an easier alternative.

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Did you know that you can make your own frozen pizzas, ready to cook when you are?  It’s easy.  Let me tell you how.

  1. Make your favorite pizza crust recipe.  I like this one or this one or even this one.  Prepare through a first rise in a bowl or lumped on the counter.
  2. Spread pizza dough on an oiled pan.  Try to keep the dough pretty thin.  I use these disposable cookie sheets for pizzas to give away.  I bought a couple of quarter sheet pans (they’re about 9″x13″) for pizzas I make and freeze for our family.
  3. Top with sauce, cheese, and other hearty toppings (meat, onions, olives, pineapple!!).  Save the peppers, mushrooms, spinach, chopped tomatoes, and other delicate toppings for putting on the pizza just before baking.  I love this sauce recipe, but often just use a jar of store-bought spaghetti sauce.
  4. Cover pizza with foil and freeze.  These probably shouldn’t be in the freezer more than about 4 weeks.
  5. When you’re ready to cook, preheat your oven to 425 degrees, put in the frozen pizza and bake for 20 minutes, add additional time, as needed.  You’ll know it’s done when the crust is a golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.

I think this typically tastes better than fresh pizza (something about the dough aging and being delicious) and much much better than a frozen pizza purchased from the store.

Good eating!

Leftover Turkey Soup

My dear husband bought me a copy of My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl, who just happens to be my favorite food writer.  Ever.  I was thrilled to read her recipes and discover that they are more about the art of cooking than the science of it.  Although there is an element of science behind food, it also is an art.  For example, there are thousands of recipes for any one item, but it is the spice mixture and the amount of ingredients that make each recipe unique and a work of art.

My husband is a full time grad student and we have two growing little boys with seemingly bottomless stomachs.  Money can be a little tight some months, and so when we had tons of . . . less than delicious leftover turkey and gravy from Thanksgiving, naturally I wanted to save some pennies and so throwing out food was unquestionable.  Instead, I diced the turkey into 1/2-inch cubes and portioned off the gravy.  I’ve made this soup a couple of times now, and we love it.  I add different things each time, to make it a bit of a work of art.

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Leftover Turkey Soup

1-2 cups diced turkey (cooked)

2 cups gravy

2/3 cup long grain white rice

1 cups water (plus more, as needed)

salt and pepper, to taste

Add-ins: diced celery, carrots, sweet potatoes, onion, etc.

Put everything in a pot.  Add additional water until everything is barely submerged.  Simmer for 20 minutes, or until rice is tender.

 

 

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

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Love,

The Salty Kitchen Staff

The Chef – Megan

The Sous Chef – Michael

The Dishwasher (age almost 3)

The Entertainer (7 or 8 months, Mom is too tired to keep track)

This year has been an interesting one for us.  Mike returned to school full time, I started a second year at my nerdy favorite job writing math curriculum for Davis School District. Ira has filled his role as the best big brother in the world, and Geo has gone from the most difficult baby to the best baby, seemingly overnight.  I’m blessed beyond all measure and cannot wait to see what 2016 has in store.  We anticipate Mike being that much closer to finishing his graduate degree and me completing the 3rd-6th grade project at work – dreams that just may come true.  Love to you all!

Beef and Broccoli & Meat Tip

I don’t really love to handle raw meat.  I’d rather not touch it and then clean up after it.  Just not my thing.  So often, I buy a 10 pound bag of chicken breasts from the freezer section in Costco.  It requires very little touching as it usually is trimmed fairly well and if I cook it in the slow cooker it will shred easily once it’s cooked.  Another tip is to buy meat at Target.

What?!  Target?  Their meat is priced super ridiculously high!!  Yes, it is.  But not if you find meat that is near its expiration date and has a $1, $2, $3, or $4 discount sticker on it.  Every time I go to Target, I quickly wander through their meat section and pick up anything that I think I may use in the next month, then promptly go home and freeze it.  Target meat usually is fairly trimmed and has a lot less “gross” packaging than meat that I would buy at a local grocery store like Smith’s or Dick’s.

Just a tip.

Here’s a dinner on the cheap for you, especially if you use lots of broccoli and a little beef.  This is definitely one of our favorites and we eat it as often as I buy a cut of beef (which isn’t very often).  Last week I picked up a chuck steak at Target.  It was marked $8.49 and had a $4 off coupon on it.  When I went to cut it up, I cut half of the steak into pieces for dinner and the other half of the steak into pieces and placed them in a freezer container for next time I make this dish.  See how I did that?  I only had to touch it once for two meals.  Cool.  And, the meat for each meal cost roughly $2.25.  The recipe makes enough to feed two large dinner portions and have leftovers for two decent size lunches tomorrow.

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Estimated Cost of Ingredients: $2.25 beef, $1.00 broccoli, $1.00 soy sauce, Sriracha, oil, honey, vinegar, $0.25 onion, $0.25 rice

Total: $4.75 (approximately)

Eating on a Budget

We are deep in Baby Step #2, working feverishly to pay back student loans for grad school and I am thinking about making a challenge for myself.  For the 2016 year, I’ve decided that we are going to live on a budget of $30 per week for food for all four of us.  That’s roughly $120 per month.  We have a lot of food storage to rotate through, which will help keep costs low.  We have also recently become completely unsatisfied with eating out, so we are adding that to our plan, too.  No restaurants.  No takeout.  For 366 days (leap year!).

I’ve made a rough outline of daily dinner themes:

Mondays: Pasta (dinner and leftovers for less than $3!)

Tuesdays: Tacos or Beans and Rice

Wednesday: Pantry (i.e. get creative with what we have) or Leftovers

Thursday: Soup, Salad, Sandwiches, or Breakfast

Friday: Pizza

Saturday: Beans and Rice

Sunday: Special recipe

Yes, we have beans and rice more than once a week.  I cook beans from dry in an electric pressure cooker and I’m confident that I would eat beans every day and love it if I had to.

Wish us luck.  If all goes well, we should be able to save an extra $1,800 just by cutting our groceries down to practically nothing.  I’m hoping to post some recipes soon.  We’ve been so incredibly busy.  Mike is finishing up the semester, I’ve had to write a whole chapter in the curriculum I’m writing in 3 weeks, and there hasn’t been much cooking going on around here.  We’re getting back on the bandwagon.  Slowly, but surely.