A New Year & New Goals

Many friends have stopped me lately to ask what is happening with My Preppy Kitchen.  To put it simply… not much at all.  I received so much support from many of you with orders, well wishes, and recommendations.  But, after being pretty discouraged by the need for a full commmercial kitchen and the lack of available spaces to use part time, I decided to put MPK on the back burner for a while.  I am not willing to borrow money to get started because I have gone that route as a start-up before, I’m NEVER doing it again.  So, I thought, I will just work part time to save some money.  In the mean time, we have had other expenses come up that need my attention so once again, saving for MPK was put on the back burner.  Then, over the past month, I was reminded time and time again why I LOVE not being tied to my job as a business owner, I have been reminded why I sold the store in the first place, and I have been reminded that I never want to work so much that my kids and husband feel neglected.  Because I seemingly do not know how to do anything “part time”, I have to admit that MPK would no doubt consume my life and I would get back to that point where I am trying to do it all, all the time.

My Preppy Kitchen is not going to be business.  I am still baking for friends, in fact I got to make a baby gender reveal cake and these super cute cupcakes for my friend Ashley last week and I still cook every night at home.

 

What is My Preppy Kitchen going to be?  Hopefully a place for me to document all that goes on in my kitchen, the room in my house where I spend the most time.  I want to continue to document recipes.  Those that I come up with and those that I find.  A sweet friend asked me recently to put together some favorites for her to make life simpler in her house.  Sorry Aggie that I haven’t gotten to it yet, I will, I promise.  I would love to one day really put together a cook book.  I think that is my ultimate goal.   So, MPK might be recipes, it might be craft ideas, or silly stories about my kids.  It will just be a blog about my life and what goes on in my kitchen.

Right now, I love my job.  I am working part time (ha! – 43 hours last week – like I said I’m not good at part time!) for a marketing research company that is incredible.  Truly, everyone should have a work environment like that.  It has reminded me how much I loved to use that part of my brain and why I majored in marketing in the first place.  I get to work from home most of the time and I am here for all 3 kids in the afternoons.  And I am still running, though not as much as I should!

My goals for the year are…

*To appreciate and recognize my blessings more while worrying about the small stuff less.

*Spend more time one on one time with each of my kids and Jeff.

*Spend less time working.

*Spend more time with my grandparents.

*SPEND LESS MONEY

*Work on the “One Day” Cookbook.

2011 was a wonderful year and we were blessed in so many ways I can’t even begin to put them into words.  I look at my life since moving here in 2007 and I am astonished to see the difference 4 years has made.  Life just doesn’t get much better than this.  I say that with a full plate, constant unexpected obstacles, and 3 kids who act like neanderthals on a regular basis.  I know I need to save more, spend less, and exercise more, but truly, LIFE IS GOOD, I am blessed, and I am looking forward to seeing what God has planned for the Princes in 2012.

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Another Failed Biscuit Attempt and Spicy Soba Pork (not in the same day of course)

I have given you nothing to cook in days and I am so sorry for that.  I have been cooking though and I have a lot to show for it!  Tonight I give you a failure and a success.

I (ALMOST) made a delicious biscuit on Sunday night.  Jeff literally laughed out loud at me for attempting to make biscuits for company – luckily they are good friends and will let me cook for them again.  I tried something new, a sourdough biscuit from my starter I use to make sourdough loaves.  I honestly thought it kind of tasted like a pillsbury biscuit out of a can and that is not the taste I was going for so I was a bit disappointed.  Here are the pics…

BEFORE - waiting in the oven to be cooked to golden

AFTER - They look heavenly. But....

Wait for it… (You know I can’t cook a biscuit!)

Burned the dang bottom!

Honestly people, I am hopeless in the world of biscuits.  They looked so good until I turned one over.  I am going to have to stick to the frozen bags of Pillsbury Grands biscuits.  I love them, they always come out perfectly.  I just want to be able to make a biscuit.  Everyone at dinner kept saying they were good, but I was not feeling it.

To make up for my failure last weekend, I had a delicious success tonight!  I made a trip to one of my favorite places to shop, Asia Grocery on Peters Creek Pkwy.  I will admit, the first time my friend Patti sent me there on a food buying mission I was a little intimidated.  But, now I know and love the place and get such incredible deals there I hate that I don’t go more often.  This 5 lb bag of Jasmine rice was only $5.49.  At Lowes and HT you would pay at least $2 more.

Gallon jug of Soy Sauce for only $7.99.  You pay twice that even on sale at the grocery store.  And the stuff lasts for ages & is good on so many different things.  I find that I use it a lot.  They do have the low sodium version as well, I think it was about $1 more, still a killer deal!

The best deal by far though, is on the Soba Noodles.  $4.39 per 9oz pack at the grocery store, but at Asia Grocery, you get 54 oz for $7.99 – It is a 70% savings!  My kids loved them – they add a little variety to your basic noodles and are made of buckwheat.  You should definitely give them a try.  If you don’t want to make a trip to Asia Grocery but want to give them a try, get a small pack at HT, you won’t be sorry!

Last little tid bit about Asia Grocery, buy your bean sprouts there!  I got a gigantic bag (not even sure how much or how much they are per lb because there is not a whole lot of english speaking going on.  All I know is this huge bag was only 2.33.

I knew I wanted to make something with some spice tonight and I had 2 large thick cut pork chops left in the fridge (thanks Dale & Terry).  I wasn’t sure what to call it so I decided on Spicy Soba Pork.  It is basically a pork stir fry with a fun, spicy sauce I concocted tonight.  Not too spicy for the kids but enough heat to make me happy.  They definitely drank more milk than usual though so I know you might want to go a little milder if you have sensitive taste buds.  It takes a little while to prep – you can do all the chopping and slicing ahead of time.
SPICY SOBA PORK:
3 cups broccoli florets
3/4 cup sliced carrot
1 cup green onion in 1/3 in slices
1 lb pork sliced thin
2 cups bean sprouts
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
salt & pepper to taste (I use coarse salt)
3, 3 oz bundles of soba noodles
Sauce – wisk all together in a small bowl:
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
3 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp spicy thai chili sauce (Thai Kitchen Brand)
*If you do not like spice, use less thai sauce or eliminate it altogether.
Set a large pot of water on the stove to boil while getting everything else prepped.  Boil noodles for 6 min when pork is almost ready.  Drain.
Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a large wok over high heat. Quickly stir fry broccoli & carrots until bright in color, about 2 min.  Remove from wok.  Add remaining 1 Tbsp oil.  Add pork to the wok and season with salt & pepper.  Slowly pour in half of the sauce mixture and cook thoroughly until no longer pink.  Return broccoli and carrots to the pork, add green onions and remaining sauce.  Cook for 1 min more.
Serve over hot soba noodles, ladle sauce over pork mixture.
This entire dinner – with 4-6 servings was only $7.63 total to make!  The sale stuff at Harris Teeter is on until next Tuesday so go check it out!  Even if you get the bean sprouts and soba noodles at HT it is still an inexpensive and delicious meal.  I’ll have more ideas for you to use those bean sprouts and soy sauce though!  I love asian flavors.
per serving for whole meal
Soba Noodles $0.22 $1.33 $.44 per 3 oz bundle at Asia Grocery
Bean Sprouts $0.06 $0.29 Lots for a little at Asia Grocery!
Green Onions $0.03 $0.15 $.59 per bunch at Asia Grocery
Broccoli $0.36 $1.79 on sale for $1.79 / lb at Harris Teeter
Carrot $0.05 $0.25 $.99 / lb at Harris Teeter
Pork $0.60 $2.99 on sale for $2.99 / lb at Harris Teeter
Dijon $0.03 $0.14 HT brand on sale for $1.27 at Harris Teeter
Soy Sauce $0.02 $0.09
Spicy Thai Chili Sauce 0.12 0.6 $3.59 at Harris Teeter
$1.48 $7.63
Hope you enjoy!

Dash, Rain, Funnel Cake, and the Perfect Food. Life is Good.

No big cooking post tonight because it was date night for Jeff and I at the dash game. Although the game was rained out and never even got started, I have to say 2 hours away with the kids at home with Mimi, a beer and a funnel cake… life is good.  The song Alright, by Darius Tucker (aka Hootie if you are from my generation) came on at the ballfield and they showed the video on the big screen. That song pretty much sums it up for me.

“When I lay down at night I thank the Lord above
For giving me everything Iif ever could dream of”

Like I said, a beer, no kids for 2 hours and a funnel cake… close to heaven.

On the subject of funnel cake though, I was just telling Jeff that I once read that eggs and avocados are considered to be among the most perfect foods, I would like to argue that perhaps funnel cake is too. Then I corrected myself with the acknowledgment that salsa is by far the perfect food. If given the choice to eat only one thing forever hands down I would go with salsa.

What is your perfect food? Leave me comments to chime in!

Visit with a friend, Vegetarian Meals, and a Missing Dog

Ever have one of those days when you have it all mapped out but things just seem to fall apart?  That was my day today.  I was ahead of myself with the cooking that needed to be delivered this morning and my friend even asked if I could wait a little later to come so I didn’t have to be out of the house as early as I planned.  So I got dressed to work out – thinking I would squeeze that in before I really got going.  Then… life happened, as it always seems to do.  Between a little girl who is not-quite-there potty trained and what can happen with that and getting beds made, laundry done, and reading 3 or 4 dozen books, alas, I didn’t work out.  But, I was still in the game and planned to do it later.  I got to have a great little visit with my dear friend Amanda (who by the way is one of my heroes these days!)  She looked great and just made my day to be able to see her smile this morning.  I made the ever important trip to Edward McKay  because Jake was certain he did not have a single book left in the house that he wanted to read.  I was feeling ever efficient as I chose new books for him while waiting for our trade in credit.  I was reading to Maddie May when I got the call that would turn my productiveness upside down…

“The dog is out, he is at our neighbors house but they are going to take him back and put him in the yard.”

Seems like good news, but still I rushed out of there as soon as I was able and still had to run into the grocery store for things I needed to cook for tonight, but I was still right on track to get food on, MM down for a nap, and get on the elliptical to work out.  And that’s when it all went wrong.  I got home, laid MM down for her nap because she was seriously needing one.  I went to check the yard and once again he was gone.  Apparently the gate on the opposite side was not latched so when our neighbor brought him back, once Tae was alone he just slipped right back out!  I dragged Maddie May back out of bed and looked for that dog for 2 hours!  All the while needing to get back because I had meals to make for my friend.  And one of those meals was red beans and rice that needed to be started early in order to be ready.  Long story shortened, the same neighbor found him and lovingly brought him back to me.  I thought I would cry from relief.  I was terrified he had gotten out to the main road, but my silly little (big) dust mop looking puppy was home and I was relieved.  But I still had to cook 4 meals plus dinner for us, get Maddie May down for a nap (never happened fyi), bake sourdough bread, deliver it to church, help kids with homework, and get Jake to Tae Kwon Do. All before 4:45.  It was 2:30 at this point by the way.

It all worked out, we are all still alive and well and my puppy is back where he belongs and VERY TIRED from his big adventure.  And it is 10:40 and I am still in my workout clothes and never broke a sweat today.  It’s the thought that counts, right?

So what all was I cooking you ask?  I made fat-free potato breakfast casserole (I will post the recipe after I get a report on how it tastes!), 3 different vegetarian pasta dishes, and vegetarian red beans and rice that was a million times better than the recipe I posted before.  I found it at Fat Free Vegan Kitchen , I made some changes though so I will post my version below.  The picture won’t load right now for some reason.  I will edit once I get it loaded.

Fat Free Vegetarian Red Beans & Rice (see original recipe inspiration here) – My version is spicy.  If you prefer a milder dish you can add less cayenne, black pepper, and chipotle.

1 lb dried red kidney beans (soaked over night)

4 large cloves of garlic finely chopped

1 large onion finely chopped

4 celery ribs finely chopped

1 green bell pepper finely chopped

2 tsp dried oregano or 1 tbsp fresh oregano chopped

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp black pepper ground

2 tbsp chipotle pepper in adobo finely chopped (find it in the canned items in the mexican food aisle)

2 tbsp Texas Pete hot sauce

Salt Generously to taste (make sure you check.  I felt like I needed to add a lot)

Cooked Brown Rice

How to make it:

Rinse and drain beans after soaking over night.  Place beans in a large pot and cover with water to about 2 inches over the beans.  Begin cooking over high heat while you prepare the other ingredients to be added.

Add chopped veggies (make sure they are all finely chopped) and next 5 ingredients.  Bring it all to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer.  Stir occasionally.  After about 30 min, taste and begin to add salt to your taste preference.  Cook for 2-3 hours.  At this point, remove about 2 cups of the bean mixture and puree in a food processor or blender and return to the pot.  Cook for 30 more min.

Serve hot over rice – it is delicious!  Thanks Fat Free Vegan Kitchen for the great recipe!

 

Now for my real post… White Bean Chili, Crab Cakes, Veggie Pasta Bake, Apple, Banana, Cranberry Bread (Not all together!)

I know it has been days since I last blogged, but with the start of school and all the cooking I have been doing, I just have not had time.  Here are a few recipes I have been promising & my dinner tonight.

SNEAKY VEGGIE MAC N CHEESE

I make lots and lots of mac n cheese.  My grandmother makes the absolute best so I am always inspired to find new ways to do it.  This one sneaks in zucchini & squash!  Maddie May had 3 huge servings tonight!

 

3 cups cooked penne pasta

1 egg slightly beaten

1 1/2 cups 1 % milk

1 slice reduced fat cheddar cheese slice

4 slices reduced fat swiss slices

1 1/2 cups shredded or Julienne zucchini and squash (peel the zucchini if your kids are afraid of green things!)

1/2 cups shredded

colby jack cheese

salt to taste


In a casserole dish, combine pasta, veggies, salt, and cheese slices torn into bite size pieces. Just mix it all together.  Combine the egg and milk.  Pour egg/milk mixture over pasta mixture.  Top with colby jack.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 min until top is browned and bubbly.  If you peel the zucchini first they will never know it is there !

 

CRAB CAKES WITH LEMON DILL SAUCE

The boys loved these so much they asked if they could take them for lunch tomorrow.  Actually, Will asked if he could take them for SNACK tomorrow but I was afraid his teachers would laugh at me if he pulled out a crab cake for “snack”.  They seem so rich but have very little added fat.

 

1 green onion finely chopped

1 large clove of garlic finely chopped

3 tablespoons red bell pepper, finely chopped

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

3 tbsp 1 % milk

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1 egg beaten

1/2 tsp dried parsley

1/2 tsp dried basil

1 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs

1 lb fresh lump crab meat

1/4 cup shredded parmesan

Saute the onion, garlic, and bell pepper in just a little olive oil until tender, about 2 min.  Add cayenne, milk, and dijon.  Remove from heat and cool slightly.  Combine egg, parsley, basil, bread crumbs, and 1 cup bread crumbs.  Add onion mixture to crab mixture.  Mash together gently with your hands.  Form 6 large patties for entree portions or 12 small patties for side or appetizer portions.  Combine remaining 1/2 cup bread crumbs with parmesan.  Roll patties in mixture and pat to keep intact.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 1 hour.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 min turning halfway through.  Serve with lemon dill sauce

 

LEMON DILL SAUCE

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup 1 % milk

1 tbsp dried dill

1/2 tsp dried parsley

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Combine and chill.  Serve over crab cakes.

 

WHITE BEAN CHILI WITH CHICKEN

I have been cooking an almost completely fat free diet (other than the little bit in very lean chicken) for a friend the past week and I am finding all sorts of new ways to prepare things without the fat.  I was so excited with how great this chili turned out.  This would be great as a vegetarian meal as well, just leave out the chicken and substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

1 lb dried great northern beans (put in a pot covered by 2 in and soak over night)

2 med onions chopped

fat free chicken broth (1/4 – 1 1/2 cups)

1 jalapeno finely chopped (with seeds if you like a little heat)

4 cloves of garlic minced

4 tsp ground cumin

3 tsp ground oregano

6 cups fat free chicken broth

5 cups chopped, cooked chicken (I boiled mine in salted water)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

 

Drain beans after soaking the night before and set aside.

Saute onion and jalapeno in chicken broth, adding a little more as needed to keep moist.  Add garlic, cumin, and oregano.  Cook 2 min stirring constantly.  Add chicken broth and soaked beans.  Bring it all to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer 1 hours, until beans are beginning to get tender.  Add chicken salt, and pepper and simmer 1 hour more.  Stir in cilantro just before serving.  Makes 13 cups.

*If you are not worried about keeping it low fat, it is great with a little monterey jack cheese stirred in and a dollop of sour cream on top!

Sorry I don’t have a picture of this one.  I will take one next time I make it.

 

APPLE – BANANA – CRANBERRY FAT FREE BREAD

Another creation for the low fat diet!

 

1 3/4 cups AP flour

2 t/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg, slightly beaten

2 mashed ripe bananas (about 2 cups)

1/2 cup skim milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Combine 1st four ingredients in a large bowl making a well in the center.  Combine egg, mashed banana, milk, vanilla, and applesauce and add all to the dry ingredients.  Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened, add cranberries.  Pour batter into a greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 min. or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 min.  Then complete cooling on a rack.

 

Hope you enjoy these!

 

 

 

Will Prince is in Kindergarten

Lord help us, I am not sure if the world is ready for this.

Something strange happened in the fall of 2005 and into the winter of 2006.  All the kids I know who were born in that little window are freakishly similar, unimaginably strong willed, and quite possibly some of the funniest kids I have ever known.  If you do not know my 5 year old Will, allow me to describe him for you.  He thinks he is a teenager.  Dresses like one, sleeps until 11am like one, has a sassy teenager mouth that gets him in trouble daily.  Will also believes that one day he will be Justin Bieber.  Not that he will be like Justin Bieber, he once told me that when he is a teenager people will think Justin Bieber just didn’t grow up and that Will is now him.  He wants to know why I will not drive him to Justin Bieber’s house so he can ask him if he will teach Will to play the drums.  When I asked what Will thought JB would say if asked, Will just looked at me like I was crazy and said, “He would say yes.”  He started taking drum lessons and I am pretty sure he believes he could get up on stage and play with anyone already.  Will Prince loves shoes, and clothes, and belts.  If you give him money he will go buy clothes or shoes, not toys.  He has the cutest little blonde curly surfer hair, he likes to point out that he gets tan and I do not, and he has lips that you just can’t help but kiss.  God made him cute for a reason, otherwise I might have sold him to gypsies by now!  He is unteachable because he already knows everything and when he is not talking back and displaying his little man syndrome to his brother, he is the sweetest human that ever was.  But it is not just Will, that whole group of kids of my friends are this way.  They have just a little more attitude than the average 5 year old.  They all walk with a little swagger and make their moms want to scream.  And this year, they all started Kindergarten.  I have been praying for Will’s teacher for months now and am so blessed that he has one of my friends as his assistant teacher and a precious young teacher just out of college.  Already, Will is cracking me up with his observations of kindergarten, I’m sure he will keep them coming.

Jeff: So how was your first day?

Will: I mean it was fine, but we were there FOREVER.  I think we were there at least 3 hours.

Jeff: I think you were there more like 6 hours.

Will: Whatever, might have been at least a million.

 

Me: How was your first bus ride?

Will: It was good, but pretty dangerous.  I almost fell out of the window and died when they turned so fast

(NOTE… and people wonder why I am terrified of the bus!)

 

Me: So what was your favorite part of the day?

Will: Nap time, we played rock, paper, scissors, dynamite (apparently this is the new more extreme version).

Me: Did your teacher like you playing during nap time?

Will: No (said is a completely condescending 5 year old tone), we only played until she heard us and made us stop.

 

So, Will had a great start to the year.  He is completely exhausted after school and I am excited to see what new exciting things he comes home to tell me this week.  I know this has nothing to do with cooking or My Preppy Kitchen, but I had to share!  All my moms with new Kindergartners & their teachers – HAVE FUN!  It just gets more exciting from this point on.

Will with his sometimes idol, most times nemesis, Jake

Saving Money on Food?!?!

Quick poll, while I am working out this kitchen situation…

 

Have you ever looked at how much money you really spend every month on food?  I don’t mean just on groceries or just on eating out.  I mean really look at every penny – what you spend on groceries, eating out, even those impulse buys of sodas or snacks.  If not, you should look at it.  When you do, think about if you would like to know how to spend less, DRAMATICALLY LESS, on food each month.  While I am getting all of this kitchen stuff figured out, I am going to start to blog each day not only about what I am cooking, but what each meal per serving actually costs to make.  I will let you know where the foods I am making are on sale and where you can get the basics for less.  I will help you stock your kitchen with the basics you need to get going.  We are a family of 5 and now spend less monthly on food than we did when it was just Jeff and I!  We jut ate out so much!

Comment below to let me know if you think this would be helpful and anything else you want me to include.

Until I can do the real prep work for you, let me do the pre-prep work!  I’ll find the recipes, shop the sales, and let you know how to feed your family, or yourself, for a fraction of what you have been spending.  Forward to your friends or like this post on Facebook, they might thank you when they have money left each month so shop for the fun things, not just food!

The Love of Friends

This past weekend, I had the true pleasure of helping pull off a surprise party for a dear friend.  What made this party so much more special than your average surprise birthday party was that this friend has had a seriously rough year, like the kind that makes you look to God and say, “SERIOUSLY???”  The kind of year that makes you want to wake up and find out it was all a bad dream and you get a do-over.  But, that is all turning around, I feel sure of it.  A few days before the party, she got some life changing news that could have been utterly tragic, but that bad news was followed by a some truly exciting news that showed her God is with her.  God is carrying her through this, and the 34th year of her life is going to be so much better!  We were able to celebrate not only her birthday, but the fact that she will be here to celebrate tons more of those days with us.  She is the kind of friend who brings life to a party, who loves to have fun and who truly lives fully.  I have always known I am a sap and a crier, but I laughed at myself when she walked through to the door to the sounds of her friends and family singing (sounding more like wounded cats) happy birthday.  My eyes filled when I saw her & I was overcome with joy.  It was one of my favorite surprises I have ever been a part of.  The next few months will be challenging but she is surrounded by people who love her and will carry her through, no matter what.

I has lucky to be able to make her a beautiful birthday cake and many other goodies to eat.  I have lots of girlfriends who are amazing cooks so we ate very well Saturday night!  I’ll share some recipes this afternoon when I can get them all together.

Commander, we all love you – I hope that is obvious!

Psalm 116:7

Be at rest once more, o’ my soul, for the lord has been good to you