Sunday, May 18, 2008

3 Moms, 3 Kitchens, 31 Days - Day 18, A Lazy Sunday & Some Answered Questions

Sundays are always such a nice day of relaxation around our house. We go to church in the morning, run any needed errands on the way home, and then just spend the day laying around. I typically like to use Sundays to doing any prep work that can be done for the coming week also. Not today though! We stopped at the grocery store on the way home and then just spent the day relaxing.

After today's trip to the store, we have $18.17 left. I don't think there will be anything else we need this month other than milk, so we should be just fine to end the month on budget. Here is what we purchased today:

Bananas ($1.58)
Banana pudding mix ($.79)
10 lbs. flour ($3.99)
Sherbet ($1.50)
Ice cream ($2.50)
2 gallons milk ($6.28)
1 1/2 Dozen eggs ($1.61)

TOTAL: $18.25

We had french toast for breakfast this morning and leftover pizza and bananas for lunch. Eric made milkshakes for all of us as a snack this afternoon. We always look forward to summer because he loves to make milkshakes with fresh fruit. I think our favorite is chocolate, strawberry, and banana shakes. Dinner tonight was meatloaf cups from the freezer, homemade Parmesan oven fries, and skillet corn.

Skillet corn is one of our favorite side dishes. Even Isabelle, who ordinarily does not really care for corn, loves it prepared this way. All I do is melt 1/4 c. butter in a skillet, add 1/2 bag of frozen corn, some diced onion, salt, pepper, cumin, and cayenne pepper. I cook it until the corn just starts to get a little crisp. Super easy, but super good!

For the meatloaf cups, I just put them on a cookie sheet directly from the freezer. Since they are already fully cooked, all I have to do is defrost and warm them. It typically takes about 30 minutes, even with other things cooking in the oven. I have warmed them in the microwave before but they just never turn out as good. (Especially if I accidentally hit an extra button and cook them for 15 minutes instead of 5. Trust me, this does NOT turn out well, unless you are looking for paperweights and not dinner.)

The french fries I made tonight turned out really good. I love to make homemade fries but they always seem to be hit or miss. They only turn out really good once in a while, and the rest of the time they are just okay. I've never tried deep frying them though. I'm sure I might have better luck that way, but I just keep thinking I will eventually hit upon just the right combination to make them in the oven. I think I might have found that recipe today.

Oven Baked Parmesan French Fries*

5 russet potatoes

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven (and cookie sheet) to 400 degrees F.
Peel potatoes and cut into half-inch thick slices (lengthwise) cut again into 1/2-inch thick fries. Place the potatoes into a pot with cold water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring up to a gentle boil and simmer until a paring knife tip goes through easily. Cooked about 3/4 of the way through.
Drain carefully and put in a bowl. Add olive oil, 1 tablespoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Toss well and lay out in 1 layer on nonstick baking sheet. Bake until light brown.
When brown, sprinkle with Parmesan and continue to bake until well-browned and crispy and the cheese is melted and caramelized, about 6 to 7 more minutes. Remove and let cool for 2 minutes. Serve.

*The original recipe can be found here at the Food Network website.

I was asked about my chicken stock and I realized that I had forgotten to mention what I do with the stock the other day. After I have strained it twice, I put it into the refrigerator for a few hours. Then I freeze it in 2 cup portions in Ziploc bags or reused plastic containers. I like to freeze it in this portion size because that is what I most often use when making recipes, especially gravies. And it's easy enough to just grab a few extra packages if I want to make soup or something. I have thought about freezing some of the stock in ice cube trays so that I could have smaller portions available, but I just really don't have a need for a smaller amounts, not to mention the fact that I probably couldn't fit an ice cube tray in my freezer without spilling stock all over everything.

Another question I was asked recently was about our dining arrangements. Currently, we do not have an eat-in kitchen and the "dining room" area of our great room is being used as the playroom. That means we don't have a table that we can all eat at either. Instead, we all sit together at the couch or on the floor, and Alex and Olivia sit at their little table if the meal has the potential to be messy. This situation works just fine for us at this point in our lives. We still get to eat our meals together as a family, which is what's really important to us, even though it is not the most conventional situation. We are hoping when we buy a new house that the kitchen is large enough to have a built-in eating area. (Actually, my dream kitchen would be large enough to have not just an eating area but also a sitting area and an office/desk space, but I digress.)

So that is what happened in our kitchen today. Don't forget to visit Joy and Toni to find out what happened in their kitchens this weekend.


Nancy 10:33 AM  

Kate, the oven fries recipe sounds good. I think I'll have to plan to try it very soon.

Miranda 5:48 PM  

After reading how you freeze your chicken stock, I was wondering if you would be kind enough to explain how you make your "gravies". I make sausage gravy for biscuits, but I see you make a gravy as a base for your casseroles. Would you be willing to share your technique?
Thank you.
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