Thursday, December 24, 2009

Reviving Leftovers

Day One Menu:
Butternut Squash Risotto and schnitzel.

Day Two Menu:
Risotto patties, chicken salad.

Add egg to leftover risotto, mix well, form patties and fry in light olive oil until crispy and brown on both sides.
Meanwhile, cut the schnitzel into strips and to a salad combo of your choice. I used a Dole lettuce-red cabbage- carrot mix and added tomatoes and cucumber, then mixed up a dressing of sesame oil, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Forbidden Sauce, or, Adventures of a Stuffed Pepper

This is the story of stuffed peppers that morphed into Bolognese sauce. My culinary adventures are usually quite boring, but last night's dinner preparation was rife with trials and tribulations.
Allow me to provide a short backdrop to this extraordinary adventure.

A friend of my husband's recently introduced him to a fruit store in New Jersey (I believe it's in the Meadowlands, a name that is reminiscent of cows at pasture but in reality marks the home of a sprawling commercial site). The store provides excellent fruits and vegetables at remarkably low prices. I don't know if the merchandise "accidentally" falls off a truck, but I do know good produce when I see it.

Last Friday's haul included some decent looking peppers. They were the color of green bell peppers, but longer and more narrow. My husband happens to love stuffed peppers so whenever he buys peppers, I know that I will eventually be going to buy some ground meat.
And so it was.

On Monday afternoon I chopped some onions and garlic and added them to the meat along with a variety of spices. I then prepared the peppers, stuffed them and cooked them in tomato sauce, adding a dash of red pepper flakes for a touch of spiciness.

A touch of spiciness, indeed. Ignorance will not kill you but some knowledge might prevent your face and fingers from burning up. The knowledge, for example, of the simple fact that I had just finished stuffing Poblano peppers - long peppers that look quite innocent but can turn out to be extremely HOT!!!
When I called my husband, he said he had tasted a pepper in the store and it was not hot. Could have fooled me! A quick internet search confirms that some, but not all poblanos are hot. He must have tasted the wrong one. It seems that the role of a wife requires a not at all negligible amount of martyrdom.

Meanwhile, my daughter was climbing on the printer, throwing food all over the place and running around without any clothes on, and my face and hands were still on fire. My ultimate concern was the removal of my contact lenses, which I would have liked to get done before heading for bed.
Another Google search yielded advice for hot pepper residue removal: milk, yogurt, lemon, vinegar. I tried vinegar and it helped assuage the pain, but it was still there and I knew not to touch my eyes. I wasn't willing to sacrifice a cup of milk or dip my hands in yogurt, neither of which are practical solutions for the mother of an active two year old who will NOT go to sleep. I waited for my husband to show up and save my life, which he did, unbelievably, with a vat of acetone.

By the time my husband tasted the peppers, much of the heat had gone. It figures, doesn't it? They were still too hot for me to eat though. The next day, my husband suggested I recycle the meat stuffing- perhaps by making a meat calzone. I did not feel like putting up dough, and I had to get rid of some pasta because I recently bought ten boxes of Ronzoni pasta at $0.77 each (who can resist such a deal?!) and believe it or not, pasta cannot sit around forever in those boxes.

I came up with ultimate forbidden food: spaghetti in Bolognese sauce. Bolognese is a sauce of 2 kinds of meat, tomatoes, and milk or heavy cream. I wasn't about to treif up my kitchen, body and soul, but I did want to try a version of the sauce using rice milk, which I usually have in stock.

And so, I chopped some carrot, onion and garlic, sauteed them in olive oil and added the meat stuffing, breaking it up as it warmed up. Before removing the stuffing from the peppers I geared up by donning two disposable gloves on each hand. I wasn't about to risk hot fingers again.
I added some white wine and raised the flame, allowing most of the wine to evaporate. I lowered the flame and added tomato paste, water and yes, the rice milk. Miraculously, lightning did not come down from heaven to strike me for cooking this daring dish.
I lowered the heat and let the sauce simmer and slowly thicken while I cooked the spaghetti.
The result was pretty enjoyable and the abundant sauce will last another day or two.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fennel Salad with Olives and Lemon

Chicken Borscht

The word Borscht connotes a heavy, old world dish that your grandparents ate, but borscht can be surprisingly light and savory.
This recipe from Saveur magazine goes easy on the potatoes (I went even lighter by cutting the 3 potatoes to 1-1/2). I skipped the beans and tomato paste and used one plum tomato instead of grape tomatoes, and parsley instead of dill.
My mother in law adds some diced boiled egg when serving borscht, and some thinly sliced lemon that adds some contrast.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

World's Best Honey Cake

It is a little late for a Rosh Hashana honey cake recipe, but the cake pictured above is great for all occasions. In fact, it's the honey cake for honey-cake haters. I do not usually like honey cake but this one is surprisingly light and moist and not at all too honey-ish and the allspice and cloves add some great flavor.

I found the recipe on Zabar's website and it was so well received on Rosh Hashana that I baked another batch before Yom Kippur, so we'd have something to crave.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Almond Biscotti

Monday, September 14, 2009

Caponata for Rosh HaShana

Caponata Siciliana is a side dish of sauteed/stewed vegetables in a sweet and sour red wine vinegar reduction. The beauty of caponata is that it will keep on the fridge for a week or so you can make it a few days in advance, as I chose to do today in preparation for Rosh Hashana.

This recipe is a little time consuming but well worth it (the page linked might take a minute or two to load so open it in a separate tab while you read on).
The reason I find this to be appropriate for Rosh Hashana is that the combination of sweet- for a sweet new year - and sour, for people like me who prefer savory to sweet- makes a perfect dish to please most palates. I may have started a new tradition!

Peeling the eggplants. I only peel half because some might not like the texture of the peel.

After letting the eggplant chunks sit in salt, they are sauteed and then set on paper towel to drain.

The onions and celery jump into the pan

Followed by the rest of the crowd. Check out those wonderful colors.

Monday, September 7, 2009


The chilly September morning prompted me to put up a big pot of minestrone, a hearty vegetable soup that is easy to make and easy to freeze if you need to plan ahead.

There are of course plenty of recipes available but I like to improvise and use the ingredients I already have and most importantly, get rid of the leftover chicken soup.

1 Large onion
2 Cloves garlic
1 Potato
1/2 - 1 C cannelini beans
3 Carrots
1 Bell pepper
1 Tomato or small can diced tomatoes
Broth or water
2 Tbsp olive oil
Parsley, etc
Small pasta

Sautee onion, mushrooms and carrots. There is no need for any fancy slicing because minestrone goes into the blender. Add the rest of the vegetables and cover with liquid. Bring to a boil, lower flame and add salt, pepper, fresh parsley and any other spices you prefer. Let cook for an hour or so, then blend to form a thick soup (pour out some of the water before blending if you think it might be too much).
Cook some small shaped pasta separately or directly in the soup. Serve hot and sop up with some good bread.


PS: minestrone made with a parve broth is delicious with some cheese added at serving time.

Friday, September 4, 2009

More On Olive Oil & ShopRite

My De Cecco Olive Oil ran out way too quickly and as I resolved to use less Extra virgin in my kitchen I went back to the supermarket to check out any deals they might have.
I found ShopRite brand olive oil that claims to be from Italy, "Made from the first cold pressing of Italian grown selected olives" and marked as Product of Italy, with an OU.

A 33.8 fl oz bottle cost less than $5 with the shoprite card. That is an exceptional price if the label is to be believed. I tried the oil in salads and stir fry and it's much better than others I've used. It's a little more subtle and less fruity than Bertolli but all and all it is surprisingly good.

I never thought I'd use and like a store-brand extra virgin olive oil, but there you have it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Yankee Style Corn Muffins

For no apparent reason, I baked a batch of all-American corn muffins this afternoon. I bought a big bag of white corn meal a few months ago because I had been wondering what it was all about. I made cornbread, was unimpressed and stored the rest of the corn meal in the freezer.
Earlier today I suddenly decided it was time for some corn muffins. This very untypical task was accomplished with the help of an untypical cookbook, the 1955 edition of the Good Housekeeping Cookbook which somehow made its way into our home a couple of years ago.

Good Housekeeping Yankee Style Golden Corn Bread

1 1/4 C flour
3/4 C corn meal
2 to 4 tbsp sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 egg
2/3 milk
1/3 c margarine, butter or oil

I made the following changes: I snuck in some extra sugar (which I later regretted) and substitute rice milk for milk.
In muffin pans, the batter bakes for 20-25 minutes at 425F.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Fennel & Tomato Linguine

Fennel does not make its way into our home very often. It is pretty expensive around here and my husband doesn't usually like it, so I only get it once in a while for my lunch salad.

While cruising through ShopRite this morning I spotted some fennel, two for $3. They were small, but I decided to go for it. The original plan was to keep them for myself as usual, but when suppertime rolled along I opened the fridge and there it was, that trusty fennel.
The following recipe was concocted on the spot and any resemblance to recorded and printed recipes is purely accidental. All rights reserved.

Frugal Kosher's Fennel & Tomato Linguine

1 Fennel bulb (2 if small)
1 Onion
1 or 2 Tomato
1 Large clove garlic
1 Pack Linguine

Slice the fennel in half lengthwise. If it's large, quarter it. Thinly slice each piece. Slice the onion, heat up some olive oil in a pan and add the onion and fennel, sauteing on medium heat.
After about 7 minutes get your pasta water going, don't forget to add plenty of salt to the pot.

At this point, the fennel is going from raw to cooked and is enduring a dramatic transformation in taste, losing some of that strong fennel flavor that some people dislike (case in point: my husband).

Chop your tomato and garlic and add to the pan along with some salt and pepper and a touch of savory if you have it. Lower the flame and let the vegetables cook slowly until the pasta is ready. Make sure you have enough oil in the pan to coat the pasta.

Once the linguine are done add them to the pan, stir, plate and garnish with some fresh parsley.

Enjoy! My husband did.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Chicken & Chinese Noodles Stir Fry

On my weekly ShopRite visit I picked up some Chinese noodles (incidentally, the Jewish supermarkets carry the same brand of Asian noodles for $2 more). I would have preferred Japanese Udon noodles which are thicker and not as sticky but they were not in stock. I also picked up a small head of cabbage, one green pepper, a baby eggplant and some carrots.

I heated some sesame oil in a large pan and added a large onion, sliced, and the rest of the vegetables. In went some Asian spiced sea salt, black pepper, worcestershire sauce (Heinz worcestershire sauce has an OU) and a touch of soy sauce.
I let the veggies cook while making the noodles and added the leftover chicken burgers from last night's dinner, crumbling them into the pan. Once the noodles were done everything was reunited in the pan and there was much rejoyicing.

The dish was surprisingly light and delicious!

Chicken Burgers

I know what you're thinking: this dinner looks like a children's meal. Well, I would not serve chicken cutlets at a fancy dinner table but working with ground chicken is an affordable way to diversify and still end up with something tasty, nutritious and filling.
For last night's dinner I mixed 1.10 lbs of ground chicken with chopped onion, fresh parsley, salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and a touch of ground sage (when it comes to sage, always paired with chicken, a little goes a long way). I added two eggs which seemed like too much but ultimately the burgers came together and were nice and moist, there's nothing worse than dry chicken or meat burgers.

The chicken was served with roasted sweet potato 'fries', so good that before you know it you've already eaten the equivalent of three whole yams.
Slice the sweet potatoes and add olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 425 F for 25-30 minutes.

We had some leftovers and I plan on using them in a chinese noodle stir fry with peppers, eggplant and cabbage.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Eye Candy

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ricotta Omelette

I cannot remember where I found the recipe for this light omelette, its copy-pasted into my files without any attribution but I will try to look through my cookbooks and favorite websites so I can properly credit the original cook or chef.

16 oz ricotta
4 eggs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 c milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp flour or cornstarch
Minced basil and mint to taste (or use dried)
Thinly sliced tomato for top

Break up eggs and mix in the rest of the ingredients. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes .

Chilled Corn Soup

This is a light and gentle soup that is served cold, perfect for a summer evening. I do not remember where I got the recipe so I'm going to improvise:

Boil some ears of corn for 5-10 minutes. Let cool and remove kernels from cob with a knife. Puree the kernels in a blender with a few cups of water or broth. Strain the mixture and discard the kernels. Add salt, pepper and dried basil to the soup and chill. Serve cold.

Monday, August 10, 2009

ShopRite Deals

I don't often shop at ShopRite because Pathmark is much closer to our home, but Pathmark fails to impress me on many levels and yesterday I spotted some great deals at ShopRite. The top deal was a 1 liter bottle of De Cecco Extra Virgin Olive Oil for $9.99, down from $13.99 or thereabouts. Olive oil is a big expense but something I cannot do without so I'm always on the lookout for bargains that will allow me to get some quality and still somehow stay within budget.
De Cecco is an excellent brand and I've never purchased their olive oil before.
Even the alleged regular price of $13.99 is a steal for 1 liter of extra virgin, even more so because De Cecco promises to use only Italian olives.
It's a not-so-well-kept secret that Italy does not have enough olives to keep up with the demand and companies must import some from Spain and Greece, but De Cecco claims to stick with the native olives. So that find definitely made my day.
(Notice all my unintentionally clever keyword placement?)


Zharkoya - Russian Stew

If it's as hot where you are as it is here, you probably don't even want to read past the title and would rather reach in the freezer for a sorbet. However, I was asked to provide dinners for someone whose spouse is out of town, and the person does not mind eating the same thing a few days in a row. Furthermore, he has a hearty meat-and-potato- type appetite so what can be better than zharkoya, a good old Russian stew.
My mother makes this stew in the winter - I believe my father taught her how- with tomato paste, cubed potatoes and meat. I wanted to add some variety so I checked a few recipes online and came up with what seemed like a decent zharkoya.
Amounts are not available but you can always use a whole bag of potatoes and a chunk of stew meat and freeze the leftovers.

A few garlic cloves
1 Parnsip
1 can tomato sauce or a few tbsps tomato paste
Broth or water

Chop the onions, cut the carrots and parnsip into chunks , peel the garlic and sautee everything in olive oil in a large pot until gently browned. Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into cubes and add to the vegetables. Brown the cubed beef separately then add to the pot. Add the tomato sauce or paste, mix it in and add the broth or water. Bring to a boil, then check for spices (I use salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, savory, a hint of sage, bay leaf) and lower the heat. Forget about it for the next few hours.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Handy Mom

Our daughter's bedroom-slash-guest room was in need of a nightstand-slash-shelving but I had little $ to spend, so I resolved to turn my crafty mom mode on and start thinking.
I drove to the unfortunately named Christmas Tree Shop, a large store that sells cheap stuff that looks cheap alongside cheap stuff that might just fool you. Initially I had my heart set on a wicker table but they turned out to be pricier than I thought. I ended up purchasing a white particle board nightstand. Particle board is fine as long as nobody jumps on it, so I figured it would work for a few years.
The next stop was Michael's, the arts and crafts store, for a can of spray paint and some stencils.
Once home, I single-handedly assembled the nightstand, drill and all. I know from experience that it's easy for the nails to head the wrong way and break the particle board, but the drill and I did a fine job, if I may say so myself. The table looked fine but I had already made my big mistake: I should have painted the parts before assembling them.
I spread some plastic on the porch, changed into paint clothing and proceeded to spray paint the nightstand. My mistake here was failing to buy a mask. Once the paint was dry I used leftover white wall paint to paint stencils on one side of the nightstand.

Et voila':

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Chicken Stir Fry Over Rice

The beauty of a dish starring vegetables is that you can prepare them in advance and refrigerate until you're ready to do the cooking.
Chicken stir-fry is a no-brainer but the advantage of stir fries is that it's easy to make them your own, there's no need to follow a recipe unless you're implementing an element you are unfamiliar with. It's also a great way to stretch that chicken. particularly when you serve it over a carb.

Frugal Kosher Chicken Stir Fry

1 Large Onion
1 Yellow squash, medium
1 Green bell pepper or 2 small
Fresh green beans
Fresh broccoli
1 Large clove garlic
2 Carrots
Olive Oil
Chicken Broth
Boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite size chunks

Heat olive oil in pan. Meanwhile, mix a little flour with salt, pepper, paprika, a little sage. Dredge chicken pieces lightly in the flour and fry on all sides until golden. Remove from pan.

Chop vegetables to desired sizes and put in pan. Sautee for a few minutes, add spices and a little broth and cook on a low heat until a few tablespoons of the liquid are left. Add the chicken 5-10 minutes before serving time.
I served this over brown rice one night, and the next day we had the leftovers over couscous.

Simple but delicious.

Monday, August 3, 2009

How Do They Do It?

Every time I go to the kosher supermarket (and ours is a real, bona fide super-market) I am amazed by the amount of food in people's cart- or carts! When the budget is tight- as it has been lately- I try to buy as much as possible in Pathmark, Shoprite and Walmart, but I inevitably end up at the kosher stores for meat and fish and dairy products. The fresh produce also happens to be much better in the big kosher supermarket, and often cheaper than Pathmark, surprisingly. I've tried the so-called farmer's stores around here for big pre-yom tov shopping sprees and the fruit there tends to be overripe and unusable unless you're into making your own compote or jam. Still, fresh produce is not cheap and add the meat, that bar of chocolate you must have, shabbos candles, the healthy small-packaged apple chips for your kid that you can't find in regular supermarkets, the whole wheat mezonos bread rolls, the... you get the picture.

Supermarkets are designed to lure the costumer into buying things they hadn't planned on getting and they do a pretty good job at it.
In the book "Stuffed: An insider's look at who really is making America fat" the author, a food industry insider, explains that the supermarket's favorite shopper is, surprisingly, the woman with the shopping list, because chances are she will visit every single aisle in order to fulfill that list, so the odds are that she will see and grab more items that were not originally on her list, as opposed to someone who randomly runs in for some paper towel, maybe grabs some napkins from that same aisle and then heads to the express checkout lane before he can be tempted to spend more.

What was my point? Oh yes, sorry. I do shop with a list most of the time but I am very purpose driven even when times and wallets are better and extremely aware of the limitations of our fridge and cabinets. I guess you'd call me a practical minded shopper. So my point is that I usually end up with very little in my cart, and yet that little still adds up to $65, $85.
As I stand in line I inevitable notice other shoppers' carts, overflowing with 6 milks, $55 worth of salmon in one small package, dozens of aluminum pans, chicken and more chicken and of course, cholent meat, and only one of those carts probably adds up to - I don't know, upwards of $350? I'm being tentatively conservative. So some people have food stamps, others have already payed off their mortgage, others are stocking up because they live out of town, but some of these fill up those carts week after week, and I just stand there wondering: how do they do it?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Carrot Side Dish

One of my rules of cooking is: the simpler the better. Not very original, I know, but there are people out there who think a complicated dish is going to taste better and make a longer lasting impression. The stewed carrots I make as a side dish often garner compliments and when asked for the recipe I can honestly reply: "Oh, it's nothing, just carrots and parsley".
This recipe for 6 is from Edda Servi-Machlin's excellent book Classic Italian Jewish Cooking but I added the garlic.

Stewed Carrots

1 1/2 lbs carrots (5 cups)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion
1 large clove garlic
3/4 C. water
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper

Chop the onion and slice carrots while heating the oil. Add the peeled garlic clove to the oil and let it infuse for a few minutes, remove when golden. Add onion and carrots with salt and pepper to taste. Sautee for a few minutes, then add water, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Uncover the carrots and cook on a high flame until the remaining water has evaporated. Add parsley and let cool.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Crostata alla Marmellata - Pie

Crostata is an Italian desert pie that I don't bake very often, given the amount of butter that goes into a pie crust, but I somehow caught the pie bug yesterday and the result was quite tasty.

300 grams flour (a little less than 3 cups)
2 egg yolks
1 egg
1 1/2 C sugar
150 gr butter
Your favorite jam
Optional: grated rind of one lemon

Combine the flour, sugar and butter softened at room temperature. Add the egg yolks and whole egg and lemon rind. Work the dough for 10 minutes then cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 355 F. Divide the dough in half and lay one half in a pie pan. Spread the jam and use the rest of the dough to form a grid over the jam. Bake for 40 minutes or so.


Monday, July 27, 2009


Vareniky are Russian boiled dumplings filled with potatoes, cheese, berries or anything you might have on hand. You could of course fill them with meat and call them kreplach. The vareniky pictured above were made by my husband and filled with mashed potatoes with plenty of fried onions, and some had a filling of cottage cheese. He served them topped with sour cream and with a side of arugula.
Pilmeny are meat dumplings that are usually smaller than vareniky and I'm told that the main difference between the two dumplings is that the meat in the pilmeny is raw and cooks together with the dumpling, while with vareniky/kreplach you would brown the meat before stuffing.

Some links to vareniky recipes:
Online Cookbook

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cold Cucumber Soup

Two summers ago, a few hours before my daughter was born, I put together a cool cucumber soup, covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge, not to be seen until dinner time. As it turned out, that was the last I saw of it until over a week later. The c-section I had kept me from going downstairs much of the first week I was home from the hospital and I studiously avoided the kitchen with its piled up dishes. When I eventually ventured down to the kitchen and opened the fridge, I was greeted by my neatly covered cucumber soup, untouched and covered by a layer of gray mold.

Cold Cucumber Soup
(this recipe is in my folder and I think I printed it from

2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp salt
3 cucumbers
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 C mint leaves
1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Peel and crush garlic and place all the ingredients in a blender, blending until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper and serve at room temperature or chilled.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Quick Challah

When we don't have guests I make an easy four-cup-flour recipe that yields two or three small challahs.

2 1/4 tsp. dry active yeast
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 C. oil
3/4 C. lukewarm water
2 eggs
3 3/4 C. flour

Mix yeast with 3/4 c. flour and some of the sugar. Pour water over mixture, mix well and let sit for about 20 minutes until it puffs up. Add oil, eggs, sugar and mix well, then add the remainder of the flour and salt and knead for a few minutes. Add a little more flour if too sticky.
Let dough rise for a couple of hours then form shapes and bake at 350 F for 35-40 minutes.

Sometimes instead of using an egg I sprinkle water over the challah to form a nice crust.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

This is an easy soup I adapted from a couple of sources and it's easy to play around with and use in different ways.

Red Peppers
Onion, chopped
Basil, chopped/shredded
Salt, Pepper
Olive oil
Optional: broth

Broil the peppers, turning until brown on all sides. Let cool, then peel and seed and cut into strips. Warm olive oil in a pot and add chopped onion. When the onion is transparent add the peppers, garlic, broth and spices. Bring to a boil then simmer for 10-15 minutes. Pour soup into blender and give it a quick blend. Return to pot and serve!

Serving options:

Add cheese before serving
Chill in fridge and serve cold with some sour cream


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

9 Days Panic

The supermarket was unusually packed for a Wednesday afternoon. This day is usually quiet before the Thursday shabbos rush. As soon as I entered the parking lot I drove into a jam and had to wait for cars to maneuver before finding a quiet spot to park.
Inside the store shoppers' carts were overflowing and cashiers were rushing to open additional stations. It occurred to me that people may be buying their dairy supplies for the nine days and I did in fact see lots of traffic in the milchig aisle. I always wonder why people panic and swap so many recipes for the 9 days, do they really eat meat every day of the week during the rest of the year?
I didn't think so.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What a Waste!

I was thinking about how a greasy slice of pizza is such a waste of money and you're better off baking your own from scratch unless there is a classy brick oven pizza joint where you live. That got me thinking of other classic money wasters:

- Heimishe brand pasta

- Kedem wine (technically this saves you money but if it's real wine you're after you could get Alfasi from Chile which is not expensive and not bad at all and you won't be lying when you call it wine. That was an awful run-on sentence.

- Hiring professional painters: painting on your own is easy, fun and a great workout, not to mention all the cash you save on labor costs.

- Lots of baby products that we think we must buy because of great advertising, a subject discussed in the great book Parenting, Inc. Did babies not sit before Bumbo chairs?

- Shopping in stores you can't really afford because you have to keep up with the Schlesingers.

Got any more?

Fridge Pasta Sauce Pics

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fridge Soup and Pasta Sauce

Fridge Soup is what I make when I don't want to run to the store and realize I might as well use what I have, because even when I feel 'there is nothing to eat' the kitchen is never truly empty and our fridge is always overflowing. A quick vegetable soup served over rice or couscous or your carb of choice is a perfectly filling meal that you can serve up relatively quickly.

I do the same with pasta sauces and tonight I plan on using some of the leftover chicken soup from shabbos and the ingredients of the vegetable drawer for a sauce.

Stir fry/sauce:

One large onion
Fresh garlic
Butternut squash
Chicken broth
Salt, pepper, parsley, paprika, bay leaf
Optional: flour or cornstarch for thickening
Optional: dry white wine

Slice carrots, zucchini and onion and cut the squash into medium cubes. Saute onion in deep pan then add the other vegetables. Peel garlic, smash it lightly with a knife to help release the flavors and add to pan. Add spices and sautee veggies for 8-10 minutes until al dente. Add chicken broth, bring to a boil, then minimize the flame and let the broth boil down to desired sauce consistency, checking for spices once in a while.
Cook your pasta until one minute less than it says on the box. Add it to the sauce to finish cooking for a minute or two, then serve immediately. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fishy Business

From time to time I avoid the ridiculously high prices of fresh fish by opting for the frozen variety (don't tell my husband). I've had success with Dagim's flounder fillets that come in a bag. I defrost them in cold water, pat dry with paper towels and fry in bread crumbs or a beer batter.
I tried Dagim's frozen sole fillets in a box and they were awful, I had to throw them out.

Beer Batter for Fish:

About equal parts beer and flour, add salt, pepper and other spices you might prefer, mix well and dip fish, letting excess batter drip off before frying.

Cleaning Monopoly

Around here not having a clean lady is pretty unheard of and even something you might not want to mention in public. Futhermore, there seems to a monopoly of sorts on good cleaning ladies. My friend tells me that once someone finds a woman who can really clean, this someone, Mrs X, becomes an unofficial broker for this woman and anyone who wants to 'borrow' her must first go through Mrs. X who 'discovered' her. The whole thing doesn't sit well with me.

Cleaning your own house does save some money although I have no problem with people who leave the cleaning to someone else. My home is not always as clean and neat as I would like it (I do have a toddler and my husband and I both collect books and possible (read: probably not) antiques we find at yard sales, so there goes the 'neat' part) but I do try to clean a little every day. Somone who came over for a shabbos meal walked in and said 'Well this looks like a house that is lived in'! I knew exactly what she meant because i've seen homes in the area that were spotless and without a toy or book in sight. Of course they probably have a playroom in the basement, but sometimes too clean is a little eerie, especially when there are kids living there.

Free Reads

This is going to sound cheap because you might say, how much does a magazine subscription cost anyway? But the simple truth is that it all adds up. We do purchase two subscriptions but I get the rest at no cost off freebie forums such as There is no scam or fraud involved since publishers actively try to bump up their readership for advertising or other purposes, which I read about once but can't be bothered to summarize it all what with the humidity today, I'm just waiting for something to cook so I can escape the kitchen. Yes, my laptop is in the kitchen and it's pretty convenient when looking up recipes, although my two year old already thinks she owns the computer so it's difficult to get a turn. What, you thought I was the boss around here?

Sorry, am I rambling? Back to the magazines, you can easily get free subscriptions for a few issues or even a year or two, all you have to do once the time is up is cancel.

Frugal Shabbos, or: Another Beef 3 in 1

A couple of weeks ago I decided to purchase one package of ground meat for shabbos instead of 1 pack chicken and 1 pack meat. I made soup with meatballs, also known as frikadelka, frikadela or frikadelle depending on the language. I seasoned the meat and formed small meatballs which I sauteed with onions, then added carrots, zucchini, and a potato, all diced. I used the rest of the ground beef for cholent and meat patties.

This week we're doing everything with one chicken.

Three in One

Having been reminded that the 9 days were about to fall upon us, I resolved to make a meat dinner and headed to the store with a clear mission.

Tip #1: if the belt is tight do not enter the store without a clear plan, be it a shopping list or any particular strategy you may have perfected.

I approached the meat aisle and quickly settled on a package of fresh ground beef, weighing in at about 2.13 lbs if I recall correctly. Once home, I removed a little over half of the meat and froze the rest. Dinner was to be a meatloaf with sweet and sour sauce with sides of mashed potatoes and a quick salad. Hearty comfort food, possibly too heavy for July but hey, nobody was complaining. Dinner was a success and the following day I warmed up the potatoes in a pan with some olive oil and added the leftover meatloaf slices, briefly searing them.

Day three was upon us and I still had 2 slices of meatloaf to get rid of. I removed the extra ground beef from the freezer allowing it to thaw on the counter until I was ready to make dinner, which was going to be beef lasagna. I browned the beef, let it rest on a plate while I sauteed onions, carrots and mushrooms then added canned crushed tomatoes and the browned beef with spices. After bringing the sauce to a boil I added and broke up the remaining meatloaf slices and constructed my lasagna.

I am contemplating warming up the rest of the lasagna for the third course on Friday night. A bit unconventional but it tastes good and this is no time to waste some good food, is it?