Yum: Italian “Sausage”

So, we all know that Italian sausage is delicious, but we also know that it’s super fattening and high in sodium.  Well, I’ve found a quick fix for that at my house.  Here’s how I make lean ground beef (cheap and low-fat) taste like Italian Sausage.

What you’ll need:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb of lean ground beef (I like the 85/15 or 90/10.)
1-2 tsp of fennel seeds
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (If you like your sausage hot, add more cayenne.  I’m a big, old wimp when it comes to spiciness, so I keep the cayenne to a minimum.)
1/2 tsp paprika

To do:

Add olive oil to a pan and heat to medium-high heat.  Once the pan is hot, add your ground beef.  Stir to break it up as it cooks but leave it pretty chunky.  This helps to create the illusion that it’s actually sausage.  Once the meat is mostly cooked, add all of your spices.  Continue to cook until the meat is no longer pink at all.  Then, add it to whatever recipe calls for Italian sausage.

This works great is soups, casseroles, and pasta dishes that call for Italian sausage.

 
Enjoy!

hez

 

Meal Plan: Week of October 7

My meal planning goals:

  • One grocery trip per week to cut down on impulse purchases & because it’s no walk in the park to go to the grocery with a nine month old.
  • Cook no more than three times per week.  Each cooking day should yield enough food to make two meals for each of us.
  • Delicious, easy meals that can be cooked in less than 30 minutes OR have components which can be prepped ahead of time (i.e. during the Pie’s naptime) & then be cooked in less than 30 minutes.

Meal Plan: Week of October 7, 2012

Sunday – leftover beef curry

Monday – Italian “sausage” & bean soup   (In an effort to save calories & cash, I use lean ground beef seasoned like Italian sausage rather than sausage. It is delicious! Wanna know how I do it?  Click here.)   

Tuesday – ground beef tacos with refried beans and corn/black bean/rotel on the side

Wednesday –Italian “sausage” & bean soup

Thursday – red beans & rice with turkey sausage over rice

Friday – nachos made with leftover taco fixins

Saturday – red beans & rice with turkey sausage over rice

What’s in your soup pot this week?

Love!

hez

Yum: Chili

It finally feels like fall here in Memphis, Tennessee.  There’s a chill in the air, and chili in our soup pot.  As mentioned previously, each time that I cook, I want the recipe to yield enough food for two dinners for me and the Husband.  If there’s more leftover to put in the freezer, that’s even better!  So, here’s my strategy to stretch my chili recipe (and those dollars & cents!) as far as possible while still putting a delicious, easy meal on the table.

What you’ll need:

1 cup frozen, chopped onion (10 for $10 at the Kroger, y’all!)
1/2 cup frozen, chopped bell pepper (10 for $10, again.)
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1 packet of Lawry’s Chili Seasoning
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp garlic powder (We really like garlic at our house.)
1 can of petite diced tomatoes
1 can of kidney beans, rinsed & drained
1 can of black beans, rinsed & drained
1 pkg of frozen corn (Yet another lovely 10 for $10 find!)
1/2 cup of water

To do:

Heat a pan to high-medium heat.  When hot, add the onions and bell peppers.  Saute until soft.  Add the garlic, stir for one minute.  Garlic burns quickly, and let’s be honest, burnt garlic is no bueno.  Then add the meat. Once the meat is done, drain the grease into an appropriate receptacle*, then return the meat to the pan.

Add the Lawry’s Chili Seasoning, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans, corn, and water. Stir and bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes or more.  I’ve been known to leave mine on the stove from the Pie’s dinner time at 5:00pm until we get finished with bath/bed time routine at 6:45pm.  Just be sure to keep an eye on it so that you don’t burn your house down.

Serve hot.  We like our chili over rice with plenty of cheese.  Cornbread, too, if I really have my act together.

 
*I vividly remember the first time that I ever cooked ground beef.  It was the fall of 2000 and my sophomore year in college.  We were at the Delta Delta Delta house at Millsaps College cooking chili for the 1st Annual SAE Chili Bowl (super fun event, by the way)I cooked 20 lbs of ground beef and poured every drop of grease straight down the kitchen sink.  It turns out…this was not the appropriate way to dispose of grease.  I still haven’t lived this one down.  Please do not try this at your home.  Also, if you’re out of dishwashing detergent, using Dawn in the dishwasher is not a good choice.  I learned a lot in college.

Yum: Ground Beef Curry

 

I love a good ground beef recipe.  Ground beef is cheap, readily available at the grocery store, and pretty versatile.  The Husband LOVES Indian food, so I decided to try my hand at some curry.  I started out with a recipe that I found on pinterest, and it’s morphed into something quite a bit different that I now feel that I can call my own!  Here it is…

 
Ground Beef Curry, served over rice

What you’ll need:

2 – 3 tbsp oil
1 cup chopped onion (I buy the frozen onion that’s already been chopped.  10 for $10 at the Kroger!)
2 tbsp garlic (Again, I buy the pre-minced garlic at the Kroger.)
1 lb ground beef
4 1/2 tbsp curry powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger (I prefer fresh!  Keep in in the freezer, & you can easily grate just what you need!)
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cans of petite diced tomatoes
2 cups of beef broth
2 sweet potatoes, diced
1 white potato, diced
2 zucchini, quartered then sliced
1 head of cauliflower, chopped

To do:

Over medium-high heat, heat the oil, then add the onions.  Sautee until soft.  Then add the ground beef and cook until done.  I like bigger chunks of meat in this dish, so I try not to break it up too small as I cook it.  When the meat is done, drain it, and return it to the pan. Add the garlic, curry powder, salt, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, tumeric, and red pepper flakes.  Stir well for one minute.  Be careful not to burn the garlic!

Transfer the cooked meat into a large soup pot.  Add the tomatoes, beef broth, sweet potatoes, potato, zucchini, and cauliflower.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer for 40-45 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.  The smaller you dice your potatoes, the quicker it’ll cook!  You can wait until closer to the end to add the zucchini and cauliflower if you prefer crunchier veggies, but I go with the easy route of dumping them all in the pot at the same time.

Serve hot over rice.  This recipe freezes really well.  We usually get 8-12 servings.

*These are the veggies that I like in my curry.  However, you could throw any veggies that you have into the pot.  So, this is a great way to make use of leftover veggies in the fridge!  I’m considering throwing some mango in the pot next time.

 

 

 

Meal Plan: Week of September 30


Hello, friends.  Sorry that I skipped out on y’all last week.  The Pie and I were both sick…so, what would any sane, adult mother do?  I wouldn’t know…I got a puppy!  This is Alice.

Ok, down to business.  My meal planning goals:

  • One grocery trip per week to cut down on impulse purchases & because it’s no walk in the park to go to the grocery with a nine month old.
  • Cook no more than three times per week.  Each cooking day should yield enough food to make two meals for each of us.
  • Delicious, easy meals that can be cooked in less than 30 minutes OR have components which can be prepped ahead of time (i.e. during the Pie’s naptime) & then be cooked in less than 30 minutes.

Meal Plan: Week of September 30, 2012

Monday – chili with rice

Tuesday – Italian chicken with pasta & lima beans (A few changes: I’ll use canned, diced tomatoes to make this dish quicker & easier.  I also used feta cheese instead of mozzarella because it was what I had in the fridge.  Never fear, it’s still delicious!)

Wednesday –chili with rice

Thursday – beef curry

Friday – Birthday Splurge for the Husband’s Bday!!! fresh salmon with pesto butter sauce (thank you, Costco!), cous cous & crowder peas

Saturday – Italian chicken with pasta & lima beans
I had a lunch sized portion of Italian chicken & two dinner sized portions of curry leftover to put in the freezer.  I consider that a big win!  I’ll post my beef curry recipe if the Pie will cooperate and take an afternoon nap :-).

What’s for dinner at your house?

Love!

hez

Meal Plan: Week of September 16, 2012

My meal planning goals:

  • One grocery trip per week to cut down on impulse purchases & because it’s no walk in the park to go to the grocery with a nine month old.
  • Cook no more than three times per week.  Each cooking day should yield enough food to make two meals for each of us.
  • Delicious, easy meals that can be cooked in less than 30 minutes OR have components which can be prepped ahead of time (i.e. during the Pie’s naptime) & then be cooked in less than 30 minutes.

Meal Plan: Week of September 9, 2012

Sunday – frozen pizza

Monday – chicken marsala casserole with zucchini fries

Tuesday – chilaquiles casserole with mexican rice

Wednesday – chicken marsala casserole with zucchini fries  *The zucchini fries are not great as leftovers, so I’ll cook fresh zucc fries to serve with the leftover chicken marsala casserole for this meal.

Thursday – crockpot turkey breast (which I’ll actually cook on Wednesday), mashed potatoes, & lima beans *This crockpot turkey breast is on the meal plan for a dinner this week, but I’m hoping that it will be delicious for sandwich meat for me & lunch for the Pie.  Deli meat is so darn expensive & filled with all kinds of weird preservatives.  Maybe I can make my own easily & inexpensively?  I’ll let you know!

Friday – chilaquiles casserole with mexican rice

Saturday – crockpot turkey breast, mashed potatoes, & lima beans

What are you eating this week?

Love!

hez

Yum: Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins

I love baked goods. Truthfully, I love to lick the bowl, but the actual baked goods, they’re fine, too.

My favorite, go-to recipe of the summer has been whole wheat blueberry muffins.  They’re easy, delicious, and the “whole wheat” part makes me feel like I’m being somewhat healthy (notice that I didn’t include “whole stick of butter” in the title).

What you’ll need:

1/2 cup butter

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup milk

1 pint fresh blueberries

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla

To do:

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon & nutmeg.

In a separate bowl, cream butter & sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla.  Add flour mixture, alternating with milk.

Bake in muffin tins at 350 for 18-24 minutes.

Love!

hez

Meal Plan: Week of September 9, 2012

My meal planning goals:

  • One grocery trip per week to cut down on impulse purchases & because it’s no walk in the park to go to the grocery with a nine month old
  • Cook no more than three times per week.  Each cooking day should yield enough food to make two meals for each of us.
  • Delicious, easy meals that can be cooked in less than 30 minutes OR have components which can be prepped ahead of time (i.e. during the Pie’s naptime) & then be cooked in less than 30 minutes.

Meal Plan: Week of September 9, 2012

Sunday – frozen pizza

Monday – nachos (made with leftover taco fixings from the weekend)

Tuesday – ground beef stroganoff served over egg noodles with lima beans

Wednesday – blackened chicken and cilantro lime quinoa with avocado-yogurt sauce served with black eyed peas

Thursday – leftover ground beef stroganoff served over egg noodles with lima beans

Friday – leftover blackened chicken and cilantro lime quinoa with avocado-yogurt sauce served with black eyed peas

Saturday – Freezer Raid (We’ll dig something delicious out of our reserves in the freezer.)

What are you eating this week?

Love!

hez

Meal Planning: It’s Worth My Time

Before the Pie was born, our meal planning started when the Husband & I returned home from our respective jobs around 7:00pm…starving.  We aren’t nice people when we’re hungry.  Not nice at all.   So we implemented this system: one of us would offer three restaurant suggestions, then the other would choose from those three.  Off we went to procure our supper.  This often meant spending $20-40 on a meal that we weren’t even very excited to eat.  But, with our lifestyle at that time, planning ahead to eat at home just didn’t seem worth the time.

Pre-Pie, in the world of youth & children’s ministry, I worked strange, long hours that often included evening meetings or events.  During the program year, I was guaranteed to be working through dinner on at least two nights each week.  Pre-Pie, we loved spontaneous dinners with friends.  So, it wasn’t always worth going to the grocery store (let alone meal planning) for only 2 or 3 nights worth of dinners.

Now, with the Pie in our lives, it’s actually much easier to cook and eat at home than it is to try to go out to dinner with a nine month old running the show.  First of all, the Pie has a bedtime routine that begins at 6:15pm.  So, she eats dinner at 5:00pm, usually long before the Husband is home from work. Though we do love a good geriatric, early bird special dinner at 4:45pm, most often, it’s just not feasible.  Not to mention, with a 9 month old in tow, you never know what kind of impression you’re gonna make on your fellow diners.  Sooooo, home sweet home is our number one restaurant these days.

If I’m being completely honest here, I have to admit that I really don’t miss eating out.  Thanks to Pinterest, I’m cooking all kinds of delicious stuff at home. Most of the time, it’s healthier than restaurant fare, and even when it’s not, I have much more control over my portion size (because if it’s on my plate, I’m gonna eat it).

Here’s my process for meal planning:

  • Obsessively check pinterest on my phone all week long and pin any yummy looking stuff to my “Party in my Tummy” board.
  • On Saturday evening, I check out Kroger’s weekly sales online.  Then, look for corresponding recipes on my “Party in my Tummy” board.  I’m not married to using only sale items, but for pricier items (like pork tenderloin), I wait for a sale.
  • After choosing three recipes, I move them to my “Tried & True (Or Not So True)” board.
  • I copy & paste each of the three recipes into a google doc so that I have them all in one place.  Then, I can reference it from my phone or laptop while cooking.
  • After cooking each meal, I update the pin on my “Tried & True (Or Not So True)” board with any changes, recommendations that I have for the recipe.

My goal is to only have to cook three days per week.  Each meal should yield enough leftovers for another meal.  Then, on the seventh day (when even God rested), we have frozen pizza, a meal from the freezer or something else ridiculously easy.

I truly believe that meal planning is helping us to save more money and waste less food.  Most weeks, I am able to accomplish my goal of only one grocery shopping trip, which means less impulse purchases!  I don’t clip a crazy amount of coupons, and I don’t buy a million bottles of shampoo just because they’re on sale.  My weekly grocery bill is around $120-140, which accounts for 7 days worth of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for 2 adults and a nine-month-old (who eats A LOT), which is a lot less than when we were consistently paying $20-40/meal just for dinner when we ate out.

So, that’s how I do it.  It works for me.  How do you plan your menu?

Love!

hez

Well…here goes nothing!

Well…here goes nothing!

Why am I blogging?

  • I think I’m funny.  Maybe you will, too?
  • I think that I have something to share.  I’m not the best mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, cook or homemaker.  But I’m doing the best that I can.  Maybe we can support one another as we strive not to be the best, but to simply be good enough.

Why “The Pie Safe?”

  • We call our daughter “The Pie” as a nickname.  She was born in November of 2011 and changed our life oh so much for the better immediately.  Now, it’s hard to imagine life before her.
  • I. Love. The. South.  And, in the South, we love baked goods.  A pie safe is” a cupboard with pierced-tin doors for ventilating pies after baking” (thanks, http://dictionary.reference.com). Knowing that a delicious pie is waiting in the cupboard for you can really brighten your day.  Perhaps, knowing that kind words, silly stories, and yummy, easy food ideas are waiting for you on this blog will also brighten your day.  Here’s to hoping!

With love,

hez