Monday, February 18, 2013

Fish Tacos with Mexican Slaw

I got a little overambitious with my February New Year's Resolutions.  It seemed reasonable at the time, but this week I looked back at what I'd written down and literally just shook my head. Sometimes I just don't think very clearly. Blame it on the kid hormones. Anyways, I had a lot of things I wanted to do this month, including blog more than once.  But since this baby is coming anyDAYnowOMG this might be it for a while.

There's this funny picture going around:

In a sad way, this really is true.  About 6 months ago Malachi learned how to take a deep breath to calm himself down.  I'm so, so proud of this.  But lately he's been refusing to do it.  And while I fully realize he's 21 months old and that pretty much could explain all of it, I also realized that he's seen me take a deep breath to calm myself, maybe...never.  I've also noticed he's started using grunts/roars/yells of frustration when things aren't working quickly or easily for him....exactly like someone else I know (shame).  It's convicting, as a parent, to realize in practice (not just in theory) that your kid may obey you for a while, but he will eventually imitate what he sees, not simply what you try to teach him.  My son brings out my best and my worst and makes me want to be a better person - not a bad thing.

The other thing he likes to imitate, however, is my silliness.  It makes me incredibly happy and also somewhat embarrassed at the same time.  Do you remember that song "Milkshake"?  I'll spare you a link, you can google it, but I don't recommend this if you are easily offended.  Anyways, the other day I was making breakfast and suddenly it's like I was looking down from above watching us.  Watching myself singing to Malachi something about how my biscuits bring all the cream cheese to the yard, and he was dancing and clapping and I just suddenly CRACKED UP in laughter because I realized, "Oh my word.  I'm rewording a stupid/dirty/ridiculous song into a song about my breakfast and my son is loving it."  And then he cracked up because I was laughing and we both dissolved into a fit of giggles.  We also occasionally run at each other screaming until we collide into a hug.  When he burps or, yes, farts, I always end up laughing - so he keeps trying to do it again.  (Manners?  Huh?)  I LOVE being crazy-silly with him, and I love how much he imitates the things I do, but I have a feeling it's gonna come back and bite me one day - like it might turn from this to this.  Oh boy.

And on an unrelated note, fish tacos.

Fish Tacos with Mexican Slaw

For the slaw:

  • Half a head of cabbage, shredded (or you can just buy the bag kind at the grocery store, but you'll need to reduce the amount of dressing)
  • Roughly a cup of sour cream
  • Roughly a half cup of mayo
  • Half a bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 3ish tablespoons lime juice
  • Half a chopped purple onion (I used white because it's what I had, but purple would be better)
  • Hot sauce and salt to taste.
Mix all ingredients together but taste it often - coleslaw is all about preference and not about formulas.  It's best if you let it refrigerate for at least an hour so the flavors can meld, but if you are throwing this together in a hurry, it's not necessary.  While the coleslaw is setting, make the fish.

For the tacos:
  • 1 pound chopped white fish (I used tilapia)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • Tortillas
  • Shredded jack cheese, black beans or other toppings if you desire
Combine fish, oil, lime juice, and seasoning mix in a medium bowl.  Pour into a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.  Fill tortillas with fish, top with desired toppings, and serve.


The day after I posted this I made this recipe again.  Unfortunately I had forgotten sour cream at the store, so I found a recipe for cilantro dressing on the bag of my bag of shredded cabbage.  And it was pretty much amazing - actually better than the one above, in my opinion.  So here you go!

Cilantro Slaw
Adapted slightly from the back of a Kroger-brand bag of slaw

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 package store-bought shredded cabbage
Whisk all dressing ingredients together in a bowl, then toss in the cabbage.  Let sit in the fridge for at least an hour.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cheesy Bacon Crescents

You know what's good?  Cheese.  You know what else is good?  Crescent rolls.  Also, bacon (Can I get an Amen?).  Finally, you know what else is good?  Onions.  Doesn't it then stand to reason that crescent rolls with cheese, bacon, and onions all wrapped up inside would be...kind of amazing?  I think it does.

These bad boys are really, really tasty and pretty fast.  They will make you the star of any Superbowl party, they do not require years and years of work, and they are far more interesting than one more bowl of salsa and yet another bag of chips.

I love Superbowl parties because I love snack food.  I mean, isn't that the main reason anyone goes to a Superbowl party?  It's not.  Oh Well, it's why I go.  One year (I won't say which) we went to a pretty big party and I was quite excited but the food was disappointingly...lame.  Seriously, there were more chips and salsa than any 50 people would ever need aaannd... not much else.  No wings, way too many vegetable trays (Vegetable trays during the Superbowl?  Really?), and a whole lot of store-bought whatevers.  I was so disappointed the whole night.

On a related note, we have not yet been invited to a Super Bowl party this year.  No, I don't know who is playing or who isn't or who might be or whether or not anyone knows any of that yet.  I will not interrupt you when you are really into the game.  I will be very disappointed if we don't watch the halftime show (whether to enjoy it or make fun of it, doesn't matter to me).  I will be really annoyed if you talk through the commercials or forget to call me in when they are back on.  Like, really annoyed.  Really really.  Just trying to be honest.  But anyway, we are open for invites.  And whether my above list pleases you or makes you roll your eyes, I promise that if you invite me I will make these crescent rolls AND my awesome guacamole.  Any takers?

Cheesy Bacon Crescents
All measurements below are estimates, and can and should be adjusted to your tastes

  • 2 packages Crescent Rolls
  • 1 8-oz. package of cream cheese, softened
  • about 1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 package of thick-cut bacon
  • about 1/4 cup diced scallions 
Cook the bacon.  (By the way, have you ever cooked bacon in the oven?  Because if you don't want to get all greasy and smokey and you have a little extra time, this is the way to do it.)  

While bacon is cooling dice your onions and mix the cheese and onions together.  Crumble bacon and stir it in.  Cut crescents in half lengthwise (they will be very skinny on the bottom).  Spread some mixture down each one, roll them up, and bake according to package directions.

Notes:  You can use onion-flavored cream cheese and omit the onions, if you want.  You could also use mini-crescent rolls if you can find them.  It's best to keep the crescents in the fridge for as long as possible - if they get to room temp they are much harder to work with.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Beer-Glazed Sausage and Apples

I love New Year's.  I'm one of those people who always writes New Year's resolutions (and I've done so for a long time).  I also used to write a lot of poetry on New Year's Eve.  The problem with resolutions, as pretty much anyone who has ever tried it will tell you, is that it's really hard to keep up with them.  Even if your resolution is something you are excited about it can still be hard to keep it up.  And if I get off track I tend to just stay off track instead of figuring out how to get back on.  But last year I tried something different.  I actually read about it in a parenting magazine as a suggestion for kids, but I thought it would be great for adults, too.  Instead of making several resolutions I made a couple for each month of the year.  Some were just for that month but some were things that I maintained the rest of the year.  I really, really loved it.  I still didn't keep up with all of them, but for the important ones I really did.  I resolved to start praying for Jeremy every day a bit more intentionally, and I've been reading through this book and praying for him daily ever since.  One month my resolution was to go to bed by a certain time and get up at a certain time each day.  I did not keep up with going to bed on time (I've pretty much given up on that), but I did keep up with getting up.  I don't get up early every single day but it has become at least the norm for my lifestyle.  And it's GREAT.  Getting up early gives me some alone time before my son is up that I can use to spend with the Lord.  Also last year, I resolved to start a blog and I did (maybe I should have resolved to keep up with it).  This year I wrote down goals for how many blogs I expect myself to write each month.  I allowed for busy seasons (having a baby) and less-busy seasons (summer break).  I made check boxes for each month of the year.  And I LOVE lists.  More than I love lists, I love crossing things off lists.  So I really hope those check boxes motivate me to stay on track.

Speaking of busy seasons, it's been about two months since I blogged.  I am hanging my head in shame right now.  I actually cooked this meal in September.  Ha!  Over the past two months in this house we've had three holidays, two colds, and one yucky bout of RSV.  So yeah...things were a little hectic.  But life is a bit slower now, at least for the next 6 to 7 weeks until baby girl graces us with her presence.  So for now, I'm off to check a box.

Beer-Glazed Sausage and Apples
Very slightly adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, fall 2012
  • 1 12 oz. bottle Belgium-style wheat beer (I used some out-of-date Leinenhugel's)
  • 1/2-1 tsp. crushed red pepper, depending on your preferences
  • 1 14-16 oz. package smoked sausage (I used kielbasa) cut in 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 lb. fresh green beans
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 2 medium cooking apples, cored and thinly sliced (I used granny smiths to counter-balance the sweetness of the glaze)
  • 2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. finely shredded orange peel 
  • 1 carton baby white mushrooms (12 ounces) 

In a large saucepan bring 1/2 of the beer and the crushed red pepper to a boil. Next, add the sausage and green beans. Reduce the mixture to a simmer, cover, and cook 5-8 minutes until the beans are tender. Drain and set the meat and beans aside. In a large skillet melt 2 tbsp of the butter, and add the mushrooms.  When mushrooms are about two-thirds done, add the apples. Cook until the apples are just tender. Transfer mushrooms and apples to a platter. Add the sausage and green beans to the skillet you cooked the apples in. Cook the mixture, turning occasionally, until the sausage is browned on all sides. Once the sausage is browned, remove it and the beans from the skillet and drain any excess fat. Next, carefully add the remaining beer to skillet (mixture may foam) and stir to scrape up the browned bits. Add the remaining butter, brown sugar, vinegar, and orange peel to the skillet. Bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and boil the glaze gently, uncovered, for 5-6 minutes or until slightly thickened. Place the sausage and green beans back into the skillet to coat in the glaze. Then, fold in the apples and mushrooms. Cook over low heat until heated through.

This dish came out a little sweet for my liking.  If you like sweet, you will like this.  If you want to lessen the sweetness, you can just reduce the brown sugar.  Or, if you want to counteract the sweetness a bit I would suggest going for the entire teaspoon of red pepper, sticking with a tart apple, and using a spicier sausage.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Easy Use It Up Ideas

Today was my first day actually grocery shopping for real.  I am happy to say that I did NOT get carried away, although I did have to hold myself back a few times (like the moment I almost bought more chips, even though our chip cabinet is kind of overflowing).  I actually enjoy grocery shopping and part of that is because I am a couponer.  There is a big thrill in watching the total go upupup and then go back down as soon as I scan my shopper card and hand over my coupons.  Today I also stopped by the clearance center (as usual) and bought a ton of canned goods that were dented and marked 50% off or more.  I only bought the ones we would actually use, not the things we don't use.

I am watching Extreme Couponing while I write this.  I'm feeling both inspired and disgusted.  Some of these people go through tons of work and spend tons of time to get tons of free stuff that they then donate to food banks, animal shelters, and friends in need.  I think that is awesome.  Whenever someone is having a food and toiletry drive, it is nice for me to be able to pull things out of my stockpile to donate.  But I want to be careful of my attitude.  In 1 Chronicles David was ordered to build an altar to the Lord and went to Araunah to buy his field.  Araunah, in his exuberance, offered to give everything to David for free.  David replied, "I will not . . . sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing."  I think that attitude is important to keep in mind.  I can give a bag full of toiletries to someone and feel great for passing on a lot of good stuff that hardly cost my family anything. And if I can't afford to give anything other than time and effort to them otherwise, then that is great.  But when I give them stockpile items just because I don't want to spend money or give something that is uncomfortable, I am no giving sacrificially.  Every situation is different and depends on what God as laid on your heart.  But a sacrifice, by its own definition, cannot cost nothing.

I think Araunah is important here too.  He had a great heart - he wanted to give as well.  But in his generosity, he needed not to take away from David's giving.  Sometimes we can get so excited to give something or do something for someone that we don't give them the opportunity to do what God has called them to do.  It's hard to learn to let someone help you, but sometimes we need to remember that perhaps the lesson is for them, not for us, or for both!

A lot of the couponers on this show, though, seem pretty ridiculous to me.  I understand the thrill - getting 2 or 3 things free is so much fun.  Getting 20 or 30 is probably a huge rush.  I'm grateful for how hard my husband works so I can stay home with my son, and couponing is one of the ways I help and try to show him my gratitude.  But we both recognize that time is still more important than money.  Jeremy doesn't work late hours because he wants to have quality time with me and Malachi.  And I just don't see the need to put 40 hours a week into couponing to save money but end up feeling like I'm still working and getting no time with Malachi!

There is also a difference between good stewardship and greed, and James reminds the rich "It is in the last days that you have hoarded treasure."  I always want to look at my motives - why am I buying all this?  Will it actually help our family?  Will we actually use this down the road (before it expires)?  Can I give this away?  Can I leave enough on the shelf to respect other shoppers?

That was a big rabbit trail.  All that to say that a couple weeks ago I got a can of refried beans for about 20% of the normal shelf price.  Because I wasn't doing my regular shopping I didn't have any frozen burritos in the house and let me tell you - I love me some frozen burritos.  I don't know why I love them so much, but I really do and they make me super happy.  So I decided to make some myself.  I mean, seriously?  It can't be that hard....

Except it can.  Jeremy will tell you, I STINK at rolling burritos.  I just can't do it right.  My stuff always falls out, and he always does it for me.  I made 4 burritos, and by the fourth one I had it down.  Woohoo!  Ingredients: refried beans, tomatoes with green chilis, cheese, tortilla.  Freeze.  Reheat later.  Eat.  Be happy.

Another fun and easy thing I like to make is homemade applesauce.  It is seriously SO MUCH BETTER than jarred, it's plenty sweet without added sugar, and it's pretty easy.  The hardest part is peeling, coring, and slicing all the apples.  I used a lot of apples for this.  Maybe 10-12?  Peel them, core them, slice them.  Put them in a stock pot with about half an inch of liquid (you can use water, apple juice, or apple cider).  Simmer them slowly with the lid on, stirring occasionally, until they mush easily with a wooden spoon.  Then you can either put them through a food processor to get the very smooth texture you would find in the store, or you can mash it with a potato masher for more textured, rustic applesauce - definitely my preference.  I also add some cinnamon at the end.

Different types of apples cook at different times.  Really firm apples like Granny Smiths take longer than soft apples like Golden Delicious.  Also, different apples create quite a different taste.  Granny Smiths alone would make a much tarter applesauce.  Pink Ladies alone make it super sweet.  If you care, think it through.  I personally don't care much.  I used a mix of varieties and textures and cooked them all for the same amount of time because I like my applesauce rustic and I'm not too picky.  Do what you prefer.

Homemade applesauce is generally only cheaper if you buy your apples in season from an orchard or a farmer's market.  Apples can get really overpriced at the grocery store, so you want to think through the value before you take the venture.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Use It Up Days 11-13: Lasagna Rolls

Do you like how it took me a week to progress one day in my series?  It's ok - it's been a full week.  We chose a name for our new baby girl.  Coming Soon: Naomi Kate!  We started painting the playroom upstairs (so we can set it up, so we can clear out some stuff from Malachi's room, so we can redecorate and reorganize Malachi's room to accommodate a baby sister, so we can paint, so we can....I'm exhausted).  Jeremy and I had a for-real, awesome date.  Mom, Malachi, and I spent a day visiting my grandmother and shopping and eating.  And on the downside, we've been sick in this house (still) and it's been pretty yucky. People in town have had this same sickness for weeks and even **gulp** months on end.  I refuse to even consider that I might still feel like this 2 or 3 weeks from now.

Back when I made lasagna two years ago, I ended up with something like 4 leftover noodles.  They sat in my cabinet forever and simultaneously took up space and got on my nerves.  They even moved with me when we moved to our new house.  Seriously?  But I didn't want to waste them.  When I made lasagna this year, I ended up with 12 or so leftover lasagna noodles, and absolutely no desire to make lasagna again for a long time.  So I was excited to find a way to use up the noodles during my little experiment.  Sadly, I didn't use them all up, but I did end up with a recipe that I like and a way to use them up the next time we want a repeat of this meal.  That's been a cool part of this project - not actually using things up, but at least knowing what I am going to do with the leftovers in the future.  It's nice to have that kind of confidence and to feel like my leftovers have a higher purpose in life than growing freezer burn.

I also think I've become a little more creative about how to use up leftovers, or maybe just more intentional about doing it.  I don't like leftovers much - honestly, I am not big on eating the same thing more than once in a week.  But I have gotten a little more creative, and that's been a cool thing to see develop.  I feel like I haven't thrown as much away, and I also haven't cooked quite as much because we've been trying to have leftovers for dinner more often when things are close to the end of their shelf life.

I'm still catching you up on my last week of "Use it Up," but I am actually currently planning my shopping trip for my first real trip to the store since we started.  Yay!  I'm pretty excited.

Day 11 was lasagna rolls (below).  Day 12 was leftovers.  Day 13 I made chicken noodle soup because I was desperate.  

Lasagna Rolls
Inspired by this recipe.

  • 9 uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3/8 cup Parmesan cheese (and yes, you can just round it up to 1/2 a cup if you want to)
  • 1 package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups tomato sauce (I used leftover of this)
Cook lasagna noodles until al dente according to package directions.  Drain and pat dry.  Stir together eggs, cheese, spinach, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Spread about 2 tablespoons-ish cheese mixture over each noodle.  Carefully roll them up.  

Coat the bottom of a baking pan with sauce.  Place the roll-ups seam-side down over the sauce, and top with remaining sauce.  Bake at 375 (uncovered) for 25 minutes.  Top with some extra mozzarella cheese if desired, then bake another 5 minutes.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Use It Up Day 10 - Buttermilk Cornbread

When I started this project I really thought we'd end the two weeks eating things like bean and noodle tacos or corn casserole or something.  But honestly, I feel like I've been more creative and made some really good food as a result of trying to use stuff up.  It actually has been two weeks already, which is crazy.  But I'm going to try to spend one more week without buying anything that's not necessary.  We did make a couple exceptions - I was nasty sick all weekend and had a serious craving for macaroni and cheese.  Since I wasn't feeling well enough to make it homemade, Jeremy bought me some instead.  =)  Other than that, though, we've done really well.

A couple weeks ago Jeremy asked me, "What happened to all our tupperware?  Does it seem like it's disappearing?"  I have had to throw away a few plastic containers lately because they just gave up the ghost (note to whom it may concern: glass tupperware is on the Christmas list now).  But I also realized that about half of our tupperware was in the freezer.  Ha!  We had a lot of meals or random sauces/sides frozen because I tend to always make too much.  One of the nice things about this project has been using up all the frozen stuff in our freezer.  There's a lot more space in there now!  And I feel better because I'm not constantly thinking, "We need to eat that sometime, ugh."  Now we've pretty much eaten it all.

On day 10 we ate frozen leftover Brunswick stew.  I felt like it needed some kind of bread and I LOVE cornbread.  Love it.  But only good cornbread and I'm a little picky.  If it's dry, no.  If it has real pieces of corn in it, no.  I usually buy Jiffy mixes and just doctor them up until I like them, but I decided to make them from scratch this time using this recipe I found and oh. my. word.  It was AMAZING.  It was good even four days leftover.  So here you go!

Perfect Buttermilk Cornbread
Adapted from here, only to change it from a loaf to muffins.
It should make 12 muffins, but as per usual, I only made 11.

Warm and Golden
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 cup buttermilk (about 1/5 of mine was white milk because I ran out)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Melt butter in a skillet.  Remove from heat and stir in sugar.  Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended.  Stir in buttermilk and baking soda.  Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well-blended with few lumps.  Grease a muffin pan and fill cups (tip: use an ice-cream scoop to make each muffin the same size).  Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Use it Up Days 7-9: Chili Pie

Since the soup incident, I haven't burnt anything else (food included).  My arm is healing up nicely.  By "nicely" I mean it looks disgusting, but it does feel better.  Malachi has been fighting a cold for almost a month - he is just about over it and now Jeremy and I have it.  Yippee!  Hopefully I'll be feeling well enough to keep cooking.

On day 7 I was going to make my favorite roasted potatoes and post the recipe for you but we didn't eat til pretty late.  So, we had oven broiled steaks, a salad that consisted of the few sad lonely veggies still in my fridge, and microwave baked potatoes.  Ha!  But it was all really good.  :-)  I actually just bought frozen veggies at the store for this week, so my fridge is starting to look pretty sparse.  That's fine with me though!  I don't intend to use up every little thing and then have to spend a gazillion dollars the next time I actually go shopping.  But we are a stock-piling family (I actually have a stockpile upstairs due to couponing deals), and we have built up a pretty big supply of stuff that I want to whittle down since we are working on saving money.  It has been exciting to see some things disappear that have been taking up too much space forever!

On day 8 I used up some cornmeal and we had a tasty chili pie (recipe below).

Day nine was cereal and I don't even know what Jeremy ate.  We were busy.  :-)

Chili Pie
Inspired by this idea, but heavily adapted.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis, drained
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Spread up the side of the pan
  • 2 tablespoons taco sauce
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, for topping

In a skillet, brown the beef and onions.  Drain.  Stir in remaining filling ingredients and set aside.  In a large bowl combine all crust ingredients and mix well.  Grease a 10-inch oven-proof skillet (or baking dish of similar size).  Spread crust on the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  The crust was pretty stretchy and it didn't spread too easily, but it turned out fine.  Pour filling into the crust, cover with cheese, and bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.