Father’s Day Dinner

*I knew there was something I forgot to do yesterday! Sorry for the wait. I took a day off on Monday from cleaning because of how many dishes I did on Sunday. And yeah, not worth it! So I took yesterday to catch up! Anyways, as promised, here’s what I made Rob for Father’s Day:

For Father’s Day, I made Rob my new favourite pork recipe, stuffed red peppers, and apple pie! A little bit of an odd combo, but it was delicious!

Now, the apple pie recipe, I loosely follow The Joy Of Baking’s recipe for the filling (although, I don’t let it sit for half an hour, I just chop up the apples and mix with spices and there ya go.) For the pastry, I use a recipe my aunt gave me:

  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour (I used Cake and Pastry flour)
  • 1 1/4 Cups Butter (chilled)
  • 1/3 Cup Ice Water

In a large bowl, add the flour and cold butter. With a knife or pastry cutter, cut the butter into small pieces, then use a pastry cutter until the mixture is well mixed and crumbly (There shouldn’t be large pieces of butter- like rolled oats) Sprinkle with water while pressing the mixture until a dough forms. Mix dough well, and divide it onto two balls and flatten. Wrap dough and chill in the fridge for 15-30 minutes.

Super simple! This recipe either makes two pie crusts, or one top and one bottom crust. For apple pie, I like a bottom and a top crust, and this time I did a basket weave pattern.

Now, my favourite part of dinner, was the stuffed peppers! I had never made them before, but we had a bunch of peppers, and I needed to use them up. So here’s how I made them:

Boil a cup of rice (I made two, and it was a lot, but it depends how many peppers you’re making. Set aside the cooked rice.

Preheat your oven to 400.

Cut up a red onion, zucchini, and whatever other veggie you would like to use. Toss in a bowl with the rice, and grate a bunch of mozzarella cheese. Add a generous amount of Italian Spices, and mix everything well.

Slice your red peppers in half, length wise, and remove the seeds and that white part you don’t eat (what’s that stuff called?) Leave the stems, it helps hold the peppers’ shape.

Brush the inside of the peppers and place them in a baking dish, with a little bit of water in the bottom (about 1/2 inch to an inch) – make sure your dish isn’t tooo big, mine was just the right size for 4 pepper halves.

Then, spoon your stuffing into the peppers. (You may want to fill them over the mixture bowl, because it spills easily,and you don’t want filling in the water of your baking dish.)

 

Bake for about 20 minutes and then remove from the oven, grate some more mozzarella onto each one, and bake for another 5-7 minutes or until everything looks cooked and the cheese has melted.

YUM! Even BK liked these!

 

And there you have it! A delicious dinner 🙂 Rob appreciated it so much, it took a while to make, I’ll admit, but it was well worth it.

 

 

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Frugal Father’s Day Weekend!

Hope you all enjoyed celebrating Father’s Day with your loved ones. We had a pretty nice weekend!

Saturday, Rob had to work most of the day, so I took BK around the neighbourhood and checked out some garage sales. I scored this amazing, vintage Fisher Price chalkboard for $5!

Do you remember these?? I was so excited when I saw it, I zoned in and grabbed it!

That evening, after BK was in bed (Rob was home, don’t worry!) My friend and I walked past where the garage sale was, and they had left out everything they didn’t sell! It was a moving sale, so I guess they really didn’t want to bring these things with them- so I scored some more awesome stuff! Things I didn’t even see when I went earlier.

Amazing, right?! A toy piano, play-doh cutting set (no dough, but that’s cool, there’s all the cutting tools), a Melissa and Doug screw driver set with the tool box, a rolling toy thingy, a velcro game (top left- that fish), a bag for BK’s paints, and a ton of awesome books! There’s also a kid sized lawn chair and baby gate! All for free! So, always keep your eyes peeled!! You never know what you’ll find 🙂

Ahem. So, back to Father’s Day. We didn’t do gifts this year, Rob just wanted a nice dinner and time with the family. So I had BK paint him a card and a canvas:

I had him paint on acrylic paper, then after it dried, I cut the left side off, and folded it into a card. I had him draw a picture and ‘sign’ it too 🙂

His canvas for Daddy 🙂

After work, we met up with Rob and checked out the Taste of Little Italy festival going down on College St. There’s a LOT of yummy food there, but it gets pricey (and busy!) so we walked up to Bloor and grabbed some Ghazale’s! SO YUMMY. BK loved it too!

If you’re ever in Toronto, check them out. They have amazing food and you get a lot of food for what you pay.

And, speaking of food. I made Rob and amazing Father’s Day dinner! check back tomorrow for details!

Chicken Fajitas!

This recipe is a favourite of ours. It comes from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution website. It’s so simple, yet so delicious. I’ve recently started making my own whole-wheat tortillas too, (Recipe from 100 Days of Real Food’s Blog) SO yummy!

These tortilla wraps can be made in advance and either kept in the fridge for a few days, or frozen for later use. Today I made them during dinner.

unfortunately, my dough hooks broke on my electric mixer, but I was able to knead these by hand, no problem. Just mix up the dough, knead a little bit, then roll it out into a log and cut it into 12 pieces. Let stand for 15 minutes.

While you’re letting your dough settle, start the chicken.

All it takes is chicken, red pepper, onion *red onion is best, but we only had yellow, 1 tsp paprika, 1 pinch of cumin, 1 pinch of salt, and a lime. Cut up your red pepper, onion, and chicken into strips (They should all be about the same size), toss into a bowl, add the spices and juice of a lime (I roll the lime around on the cutting board before I slice it, it helps loosen the juice)

Let that sit for 5 minutes or so, and while that’s marinating, go ahead and make your tortillas.

Roll out each ball on a floured surface. Roll ’em out as thin as you can get them, they should be about the size of a dinner plate.

Then, place them in a dry pan on med-high heat, no need for oil, since they already have a lot in them! Let them get slightly brown and bubbly on each side- it only takes a minute or two!

Once those are done, move onto the chicken. Heat your pans with a little oil, onto medium-high heat. (I use two pans for the chicken, so I don’t over crowd the frying pan) And make sure you’ve got nothing else to do for a couple of minutes, because once you put the chicken in the pan, you have to keep it moving or else you’ll set off your smoke alarms…trust me.

Keep the chicken moving until it’s nice and brown, and if you’re like me and you’re paranoid about chicken being cooked all the way through, once the outside is nice and dark, turn your heat way down and let it cook a little with a lid on while you get your toppings ready.

I love my fajitas with some sour cream, salsa, cheese, and avocado

Enjoy!

 

WFD?

I’ve been cooking up a storm lately! Here’s what we had the last two nights:

Homemade fettucine alfredo!

This dish was surprisingly easy, and super delicious! I used the pasta recipe from The Clean Bin Project’s DIY page:

1 cup Semolina Flour, and a little bit of water. Add water a TBSP at a time (mine took about 10-12) and knead dough for a few minutes.

Let sit for 5 minutes (you can boil your water now) Then out dough SUUUUPER thin and cut into strips.

I used a pizza cutter and it worked great. Boil for 5 minutes , toss with some homemade alfredo sauce (recipe I found at 100 Days of Real Food’s ) and enjoy!. I’d say the whole thing took about 15 min. definitely going to make this again!

 

Tonight’s dinner, was a little more time-consuming, but extremely delish!

Grilled Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin

Recipe also from 100 days of real food. I paired it with Coconut rice (and noodles, cause I didn’t have enough rice. Half and half turned out nice.) and Honey/ginger roasted carrots. We don’t have a grill, so I just seared the pork in a cast iron pan for 5 or 6 minutes, then put the whole thing in the oven on 450 for 20-25 minutes. Everything took about the same amount of time to cook, which I love, so after all the prep was done, it was smooth sailing. The carrots, I just boiled for 5 minutes so they’d roast faster and then tossed them in a bowl with some oil, honey, and grated ginger and baked them for 20 minutes along with the pork. You can even put them in the same pan, which I eventually did to add more flavour.

It was a big hit!

 

More deliciousness

So the meatballs we had the other night were amazing! I said I’d update on that, sorry it took so long. It’s been a busy couple of days. I didn’t make them exactly like the recipe said because we were out of cheese, but they turned out delicious anyways! I also ran out of bread crumbs, but I made my own by toasting a couple of slices of bread and buzzing it in the magic bullet with some Italian Seasoning.

We’ve been having a lot of leftover spaghetti this week!

~

So, I recently came across The Clean Bin Project Blog, and I absolutely love it! It’s a blog written by 3 friends (I think it’s a couple and a friend who are all roommates) and they decide to have a challenge to produce NO garbage for a year! They do this by buying nothing but necessities and being responsible for their own garbage. They each have a garbage bin, and whoever had the least amount of garbage at the end of the year, wins. Their blog has really got me thinking about how much garbage we all produce. I’ve been noticing how much waste our house tosses out each week anyways, and this blog has made me much more aware. We haven’t quite taken the leap into NO garbage, but we’ve certainly been trying to cut down. All this to say, that this week when we went grocery shopping, I made an effort to try to purchase items with less packaging. (I didn’t go so far as to bring my own Tupperware for deli meats, but hey, one step at a time). So I skipped out on buying snack foods and decided I’ll make them instead. The Clean Bin Project Blog had some great recipes in their DIY section, so this week I made their Crackers and Granola Bars!

They’re both SO yummy! The crackers are like the fancy crackers you buy for, what? $7 a box? I bet they’d be amazing dipped in homemade hummus, but so far I’ve been eating them all plain. I like the ones that are a bit golden. The recipe makes a lot too and I froze half the dough and they STILL made a ton of crackers!

The granola bars are delicious as well, but I didn’t have corn syrup, so I used some real maple syrup and honey instead, but they don’t hold together perfectly well. That could also be because I probably didn’t bake them long enough because my pan wasn’t the right size and the top was getting dark, so I pulled them sooner than they should have been. But even falling apart, they taste amazing. Next time I’ll just try a different pan and see if I can get them a bit thinner so it bakes all the way through.

**EDIT- After some time in the fridge, the granola bars are nice and ready to eat. They’re still chewy but not falling apart! So let cool completely and then put them in the fridge! 🙂

Meal Planning

Meal planning is an essential part of being frugal and staying on budget. Recently, after looking over our finances on mint.com (A website that helps you keep track of your spending and see exactly where your money goes), we saw that we had spent $700 on groceries that month!  And the month wasn’t even over!! WHAT?? Where the HECK did we spend $700?? Now, groceries do include diapers, toiletries, and anything we spend at the grocery store, but still. That’s just nuts. We do not have that much to spend on groceries.

I decided to be really strict about meal planning. It’s something I’ve done occasionally, but I wasn’t very good at it. I didn’t think asking Rob to pick up something small here and there on his way home from work was a big deal, but as you can see- that adds up!

So, I printed out this super cute, free menu sheet: http://ollibird.com/images/scribblemenu.jpg   <- I use #2, the one with the pots and pans.   Check out more free organizational printables here: http://www.designfinch.com/2011/07/31/sunday-planning/

I slipped my menu planner into a plastic page protector and keep it on the front of the fridge, so everyone knows what’s for dinner. I just use a dry erase marker to write the meals down. I have a similar one for groceries- any time we’re out of something, I write it down on the dry erase sheet on the side of the fridge. They’re cute and it saves paper keeping them in the plastic sheet. You can also get really fancy and put them in a picture frame with glass and keep it on the counter.

Every weekend, I sit down with my menu planner and my laptop at the kitchen table, and I search for the flyer at my local grocery store’s website. (you can search for yours at www.flyerland.ca if you’re in Canada)  I scan the flyer for the deals they have that week, then I base my meals on that. I try to cook meals that will give us leftovers for lunch as well.

Another thing, believe it or not, that has saved us money is cooking from scratch! Everyone always says that healthy food is expensive (and yes, organic food IS more expensive) but Healthy, home cooked meals don’t have to be. All those premade, microwavable meals LOOK like great deals, except you’re really only getting one meal out of them, and you don’t have any ingredients left over to make other dishes. Often I can make a couple meals out of the brocoli I buy, as well as the bag of potatoes and carrots. (buying in bulk is a great tip too!) I was inspired after reading http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/ to cut out processed food from our diet, and although its’ a little more work in the beginning, baking snacks and cooking from scratch has become second nature and it’s not as hard as I thought. And our grocery bill is way cheaper.

Last night for dinner, we had homemade burgers, fries, and salad using lettuce from the garden!

I used this recipe for meatballs to make the burgers- http://allrecipes.com/recipe/the-best-meatballs/ (minus the veal- I just used half and half beef and pork) and tonight we’ll have the meatballs and pasta. This recipe makes a LOT, I find. So there’s enough for both! These are things I try to keep in mind when meal planning, is to stretch ingredients across a couple of days.

I’ll let you know how the meatballs turn out!