Sunday, June 27, 2010

Applesauce Muffins

Yesterday, I made Applesauce Muffins for breakfast.  I've been using a cookbook called The Ultimate Muffin Book by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough.  So far, we've had the carrot, banana, and applesauce muffins and have loved them all.

I altered the recipe quite a bit yesterday so I'm going to write it here =)

Applesauce Muffins

1 lg. egg
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Cream egg and sugar for 3 minutes till mixed well.  Then add:

1 1/4 c. applesauce (preferably unsweetened)
6 tbsp. butter melted
1/4 cup milk

Mix well. Then add:

2 1/4 cups fresh ground whole wheat flour (or 2 cups white flour)--if using store bought wheat flour I'd use 1 cup wheat and 1 cup white since storebought is hard red wheat which is very wheaty =)
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp bkg powder
1 tsp. bkg soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Mix well.

I place the muffin papers in the muffin pan and then spray them with Pam to help them come off easier.

Fill the muffin cups to your liking.  I usually fill them 1/2 to 2/3 full eventhough it's recommended in most recipes to fill them 3/4 full.  I think it's a better size muffin for my kids =)

Topping (I use this on a lot of muffins now):
1/4 cup white sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp melted butter
Mix thoroughly and then sprinkle on the muffins

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-22 minutes.  They may have a few crumbs on the toothpick when you pull them out, so just let them sit for 10 minutes in the pan to finish up cooking.

My girls and Eli gobbled up 3 each (though we're not sure how they all fit in Eli's small tummy!).  So, I think they were a big hit in our house!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fish and Chips without the Chips =)

Two weeks ago, my husband made some incredible fried chicken.  A couple he met at a wedding showed him how.  He dipped the chicken strips in milk, then flour, then milk again, and then flour again.  The flour was salt and peppered.  Then he fried up the chicken.  It was the best I'd ever had =)

The other day I found a similar recipe in Better Homes and Gardens.  I tried to find it online so I could link to it, but I couldn't.  So, here's the gist of it...

Dip the strips of white fish in 3/4 c. butter milk and 1 egg mixture, then dip in flour (w/whatever seasoning you want or just salt and pepper).  Then REPEAT!  Egg once more and flour again.  Heat oil in deep skillet and fry.  The coating sticks =)  Yahoo!  And it's awesome.   Cook 3-5 minutes on a side.  It's similar to how my husband did chicken two weeks ago.   

I did fry it in the cast iron chicken fryer pan that I bought at a garage sale last week and it was great.  It was like a deep dish skillet.  

Serve with lemon wedges and tartar sauce (mayonaise, pickle relish, and lemon juice all mixed to taste).

I was a little skeptical of how well it would fry before I did it, but the flour on the outside keeps it from sticking to the skillet or the other pieces.  It was amazing!  I've friend a lot of things over the past 10 years and I've had a horrible time with sticking.  I do suspect the nonstick cast iron skillet chicken fryer pan helped too =)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Different way to fill tacos

In my house growing up, we had tacos once a week for dinner.  Tacos were ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and sour cream.  Tacos are also my husband's favorite meal, but in his house, tacos were:  shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, sour cream, shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, peppers, red or green bell peppers diced, green and red onions, and even olives.

In my house, tacos were either eaten in corn tortillas that my mom had fried or flour tortillas.  In my husband's house, tacos were served in the corn shells that you buy at the store.  My husband just discovered that Trader Joe's is now selling the shells (which is wonderful since Sami will eat them!).

So, we ate them for the first time tonight.  First, I put in the beans and then the other stuff in the taco in layers.  My husband, on the other hand, put all the stuffings on his plate, mixed it up together with his fork and then scooped it into the shell.  Wow!  I'd honestly never seen anyone do this before (it's not the way we eat tacos in LA), but it makes a lot of sense and then you really get to taste everything together!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Interesting explanation

I received notice of a book today available for review.  Although I don't think I'm going to review it, it was very interesting to me what the author had to say about why he writes about crime and evil in the world...

Trying the sandal trick

So, I'm trying the sandal trick today.  I'll let you know if it works!  (a few days ago I posted a suggestion that someone gave me in the store about how to shrink leather sandals when they dry out).

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Laughing at myself

Sometimes it dawns on me that there are things I do unconsciously to save money.  One of them is that we only buy cheese pizza or we buy pizza with one topping if there's a special.  I think if I absolutely loved pizza, I would want to pay for extra toppings, but the kids love cheese pizza.  So, if we get extra toppings, then it just means that I will have to take them off for the kids =)  I suppose I got used to buying cheese pizza and foregoing the toppings.

But, now that I think about it, my mom never got many toppings for pizza when I was growing up.  She is a very frugal woman.  And as she told me this weekend--frugal to a fault =)  We didn't get pizza very often and when we did it was a big treat.

I wonder if it would be more of a treat for my kids if we didn't eat it as regularly as we do (probably 1-2x a month). =)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Restaurants we love

I decided to post it as an ongoing page instead of as a post.  When we try a new restaurant and love it, then I can just add it to the list =)

Good, Great, and Exceptional Restaurants IMHO in Harford County

Last night, my husband and I went to dinner at the Laurapin Grille in Havre de Grace, MD.  We have a lot of friends that have loved it so I really wanted to try it.  As we were eating, my husband and I started discussing the restaurants we love and began to rate them as if we were restaurant critics.  We decided we'd rate them based on a moderate, good, great, and exceptional scale.  Of course there's poor/bad, too.  But, we try to avoid those restaurants.

Our verdict on the Laurapin was that it was good, not great, and not exceptional.  There were a couple of reasons why.  The biggest was that it felt overpriced for the food and the ambience.  It wasn't very romantic, which was what I was hoping for on my birthday.  Our bill came to $75 for 2 dinners (and I had the deal of $20 for salad, dessert, and entree).  If our bill had come to $50, we would probably have a more favorable opinion of the restaurant.  The meat was cooked perfectly.  That was the best part of the meal.  But, mine was served with grilled bread.  And there wasn't any sauce to dip it in.  When I asked the waiter for some butter--I didn't want dry bread--he brought me 2 little pats of butter wrapped in foil.  They actually weren't even on a plate.  He just set them on the table.  When my husband's dish was $24, I would expect a little more than that.  At Panera, they come in little pats like that, but not typically at expensive restaurants.  My dessert according to the menu was supposed to be a chocolate creme brulee.  I had checked it several times when I chose which restaurant, because the dessert was a deciding factor for me.  When my dessert arrived, it was a regular creme brulee.  Unfortunately, we had ordered my husband a regular one for $6 because we thought mine was going to be chocolate.  When they arrived, I was disappointed.  I explained it to the waiter.  I wondered if he would take it off the bill.  But, instead, he told me I was wrong and that the chocolate creme brulee was not on the price fixe menu that I ordered from.

At the time, I wrote on the comment card that I was given good service.  For some reason, I gave it a 9 of 10.  But, the more that I've thought about it (which I need to stop thinking about), his service really bothered me.  I wouldn't go back to the restaurant, nor would I recommend it, simply because I don't think it's the best value or meal for the price.  If you go, you'll get a good meal made with local ingredients, but it will be expensive.

Basically, it's a good restaurant.  It has the potentional to be great and maybe even exceptional, but at this point it is a good restaurant.  If the salad had been included in the price of my husband's dish and if they had taken the dessert off our bill and not told me I was wrong and if they had served the butter in dishes and if they had cloth napkins instead of paper...  I think these changes would have been nice.  At such an expensive price for a meal, my expectations are higher than what we experienced last night.

I hope this entry doesn't sound too critical.  My next entry is going to be the other restaurants we discussed and what we love about them. =)   We love food a lot and when we go out to eat, I know that we do hope to enjoy very good food!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Leather Sandals

During the spring, summer, and fall, I love to wear slide style sandals.  This summer I started wearing what I grew up calling thongs, where they go between your toe.  Anyways, I was standing in Marshalls looking at the plastic sandals and pondering what you do when they stretch out.  So, I asked the lady next to me who was wearing sandals.  

She had this suggestion, which she said always works.  If they're leather, get them wet and then stick them out in the hot sun.  The leather will shrink back up.  Obviously, it will stretch out again, but then you just shrink them again too!  

I have 2 pairs of leather Doc Marten sandals and I'm going to try out this trick as soon as we have a hot sunny day =)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Corn on the Cob

My kids love June because it means that corn on the cob season is coming!  It's funny how many things we all cook the way our parents do.  I wonder if you're like me in that I will often assume that others do things the same way that I was taught to do things.

One of those things is corn on the cob.

I grew up growing corn in our backyard every summer.  We had a big garden for Southern California, I suppose.  As an adult, I appreciate it a lot more than I did as a kid.  I had no idea how much work a garden requires.  But, anyways, back to corn on the cob...

My mom would take the husk off the corn and wash it and then tear off a piece of wax paper and wrap it up in the wax paper and fold over the ends.  Then, she'd stick it in the microwave for 5 minutes.  (5 minutes is a good amount for 1 or 2 ears at a time--I never cook more than 2 at a time.)  When it came out it was ready to put corn pokes in and butter and salt it up!

We never boiled or steamed the corn in a pot.  We never grilled it either.  We always, always microwaved it.  It always came out right and never soggy =)

I still fix our corn on the cob this way.

My husband's family didn't.  His mom boiled corn when he was growing up.  So, he was surprised when he discovered how I fixed it.  I think he balked the first few times.  But, on Saturday when I was out of wax paper.  I figured I would just boil the corn.  I made a quick comment to my husband and said something about it being okay.

His reply was--"no".  No, it wasn't okay.  He preferred it cooked in wax paper.  So, I called up my dear good friend and neighbor and borrowed her wax paper.

On the following Monday, I made sure to buy an extra roll of wax paper to keep around =)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Eating out on the go

Yesterday, the kids and I had a lot to do.  I often find myself in this situation.  What do I do?  Should I push them to wait to eat till we get home?  Or do I grab something on the way?  This question for me involves two things for me--money and healthy food.

Here are a few of the things I do if I'm out and can't get home.
McDonald's:  Split 2 $1 chicken sandwiches, some fries, and cups of water among the kids.  Cost: $4
Burger King:  $1 chicken nuggets and a small fries split, with cups of water. Cost: $4
Target:  Pick up cups of Yoplait as a snack and get spoons from the snack area.  My girls think this is a big treat and it's a cheap one to tide them over.  Yesterday, I also picked up juice boxes at the same time that they could drink in the car.  The snack for the three of them cost $2.50.

But, the tricky part is that everything else I've found is pretty expensive.  One day two weeks ago, we went to the grocery store, we bought sandwich makings, juice boxes, and bananas.  When all was said and done, I think it cost about $6 or $7.  Not too bad and at least they didn't eat McD's.

Do you have any good ideas for inexpensive meals/snacks that you can grab on the go?