Monday, November 22, 2010

In the Kitchen this Week: A Work In Progress

Lately I have not been posting much about learning to cook since I took on quite more than I could handle with review and giveaway events. I had no idea how challenging that would be since I started planning for it when Lydia was sleeping and eating the majority of the time.  That was quite a few months ago. Around that time I also had begun learning to cook from scratch. I was excited about finding ways to simplify our grocery list and eat more naturally, and that is what got me motivated about cooking, along with the timely purchase of  More With Less Cookbook.

I'm looking forward to focusing on cooking again in the coming year. I am continuing to plug my way through More With Less Cookbook, and plan to continue to do so until I have found all of our favorites and have made them enough for it to be second nature.

Here are a few random things I've learned along the journey so far:

~ Yogurt is a perfect substitute for sour cream. Really. I know it doesn't seem like it would work on a taco but it totally does, and it's healthier too!

~ Salt really brings out flavor...try adding a bit more salt before adding anything else.

~ Freezing meat in one cup portions majorly stretches your meat supply and your budget. It also makes cooking simpler. More With Less has a lot of recipes that you can used chopped chicken, ground beef, or any left over meat that are very tasty.

~Homemade pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce are both easy to make. We no longer keep Ragu and Papa John's in business.

~We don't keep Pillsbury in business anymore either since biscuit dough turns out to be easy to make and can be used in my all time favorite recipe in place of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls.

~Bread crumbs are really easy to make yourself...just save the heels or any bread that got a little too dry but hasn't gone bad in the freezer and when you have enough, toast it at about 250 degrees until it's hard all the way through...crush or process in a blender or food processor. For Italian flavored crumbs, add garlic powder, salt, sugar, onion powder, basil, and oregano. (I add a teaspoon of each of those per approximate cup of crumbs).

~We no longer keep whatever company has the best coupons out for Ranch dressing in business either since we discovered a simple but DELICIOUS oil, vinegar, and garlic homemade salad dressing recipe.

~No more Cream of {Whatever} soup for us! A basic white sauce at the right thickness provides the perfect substitute...add chicken stock for cream of chicken and the possibilities are endless!

~Kellogg's, General Mills and whatever other producers of boxed cereal no longer have our business either since it's overnight steel cut oatmeal in the crock-pot, homemade granola, or eggs and toast for us in the mornings!

~You can grow lentil sprouts on your counter, and they work great in stir fried dishes.

Things I really need to work on are:

~Learning to make some easy healthy snacks.

~Storing homemade bread without it drying out.

~Dealing methodically with the bigger mess and increased amount of dirty dishes that cooking this way creates.

~Remembering to start things ahead of time that need to be chilled, sprouted, etc.

~Chopping up vegetables that I know I'll need ahead of time and storing them in the freezer/fridge accordingly.

~Some simple but tasty vegetable side dishes. (Trying to incorporate a few that sound yummy this week.)

~Figuring out what I'm doing wrong when I try to make tortillas!

~Making realistic menu plans... :)

*Image Credit: The Graphics Fairy

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