Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Pinteresting Successes: Hard "Baked" Eggs and Hairstyle

Remember, Pinterest is a time waster unless you USE what you pin!  Don't be an idea hoarder.  Be an idea implementer!  Then you can maybe justify the silly boards that don't have actual ideas pinned... ;-)  Self control!

Alton Brown's Hard "Baked" Eggs

I love hard boiled eggs.  I don't love heating up and messing with an entire pot of boiling water and a bowl of ice and peeling the eggs and... It's just not worth it to me.  But I saw this idea someone posted that Alton Brown (a Food Network chef/food about a cool job!) bakes his eggs.  Now, this is near and dear to me as I also learned from Alton to bake yer bacon.  That transformed my chef life.  Really and truly.  Anyway, bake eggs too!  Preheat oven to 325, place eggs straight on your mid-level oven rack to fit with the wires so they are cradled, and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove with spring-loaded tongs or a hot pad.  Submerge in ice water 10 minutes.  Peel under lukewarm running water (if desired) and ice them until cool.  These eggs were definitely easier to peel than boiled eggs AND they have a softer texture, less dry.  I'm sold.  :-)

Greek Goddess Hairstyle

Our church recently had it's annual Sweetheart Dinner.  Such a lovely time with the Hubz having a meal with friends and then dancing.  Because of my health and current arm jewelry (an IV line!), I really didn't feel up to getting all decked out like I usually do.  I admit, it's been nice to not care as much!  :-)  So we went nice casual, and I decided that I would try to play up my hair to fit my semi-Grecian cotton oh-so-comfy maxi dress.  I found a Pin, watched the YouTube video...and attempted.  :-)  I got as far as the "lace braids" which were easier than I anticipated...and then gave up and did my own thing.  My hair is SOOO much longer than hers, and it just didn't work for me to do it by myself with an IV hooked to my arm.  :-P  So this is a half-success but success kind of Pinterest trial.  If you watch the video...

1) Like her, I side parted the front sections and did put up the rest to keep it out of the way for the lace braid part.

2) I did the lace braid on BOTH sides of my part towards the back of my head rather than doing one all the way around and pinning.  Once I got to my ear, my hands had no idea how on earth to hold the braid and keep going.  :-P  So, at each of my ears, I just braided the tail by itself and tied it off.  It looked pretty funny.  Pippy, anyone?

3) This is where I abandoned her tutorial.  It ended up looking fine after I took all the rest of my hair and finished it with a messy ponytail pinned into a messy-bun look.  Then I swept the tails of the lace braids back and pinned them under the messy bun.  Added some good ol' hair spray.  Realized later that this style would lend itself beautifully to a thin shell/beaded necklace tucked in!

The BoNuS??  When I took it out after we got home, I realized that the lace braids can simply be swept up with the rest of my hair in a regular ponytail!  Such a cute, practical, and easy summer do!  I LOVE that none of my fly aways are brushing (read: itching) my face and that it's not just another humdrum ponytail "mommy" do.  I slept on it...and didn't have to do a thing this morning.  The sad part?  I didn't get a picture of the real up-do.  Ha!  There were others taking pictures, though, so hopefully someone will email me a few!  Here are several of my around-the-house day-after do.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Once A Month Cooking, Part 3

So you've made your month-long (or more) menu, shopped, and all that food is sitting in your kitchen.  Don't be overwhelmed!  Be thankful!  Put the pantry/cabinet items away.  Group your meats and produces according to kind.  If you know you can't cook multiple meats at once, choose which one you want to start with and put the rest in the fridge for safe keeping.  Make sure your recipes are handy so you can consult them.

I used a small white board I keep on my fridge to figure out how much of each kind of meat to cook in what particular fashion for which meals and how many of those meals.  Too confusing to follow?  :-P  Similar to this for ground beef...

Plain ground beef - 2 lbs (Spanish Rice x 2)
Pepper/onion ground beef - 3 lb (Spaghetti x 2 half pounds, Chili x 2)
Taco Season ground beef - 4 lbs (Tacos x 2, Taco Salad x 2)
Meatloaf - 2 lbs (Meatloaf x 2)
Hamburgers - 2 lbs (Hamburgers x 2)

Or this for chicken...

Boiled/cubed chicken - 4 breasts (Chicken Tortilla Chili x 2)
BBQ Chicken, shredded - 8 breasts (BBQ Chicken sandwiches x 2)
Raw, cubed - 10 breasts (Honey Soy Chicken x 2)
Raw, cubed - 6 breasts (Chicken Broccoli Parmesan x 2)

And so on.  If you have questions about this, just ask!  These lists were helpful to keep track of what exactly I was doing.  Once I had two pounds of plain ground beef cooked up, I knew to divide it into 2 ziplocs labeled "Spanish Rice."  Then, on Spanish Rice Casserole night, I just take out one pack of frozen plain ground beef.  Or for the Honey Soy Chicken, I cube 10 breasts and divide them between 2 ziplocs labeled "Honey Soy Chicken," make up a double batch of the marinade and divide into the two bags of raw cubed chicken.  Zip 'n freeze!  For the Chicken Broccoli Parmesan, I got my HUGE red bowl (Thanks, Nonie!  Grandmas know what a kitchen needs!) and threw the 6 raw cubed chicken breasts in along with all the other casserole ingredients and froze it in 9x13 pans.  You probably have more questions now that I've tried to explain.  Like I said, I winged it!  I know some people like step-by-step instructions to get a feel for how someone did something, so at the risk of being wordy and even more is a run-down of how to actually do the cooking without making a huge mess.  :-)

Meatloaf:  Mix up two pounds according to my recipe and place in parchment lined loaf pan.  Cover with foil and freeze for a few hours until very firm.  Remove from freezer and cut in half with a sharp knife -- careful!  Wrap the two halves and put back in freezer.  You can then pull out a meatloaf half the night before and pop it in your loaf pan (since it fits perfectly because you froze it in that pan).  I forgot to do that, and it still baked up beautifully but took twice as long.

Open it up, plop it in the pan.  I happened to already have some fresh carrots I chopped and froze, so I just baked those (covered) right along with the meatloaf.  If you like meatloaf but don't have a meatloaf pan, GET ONE.  It keeps your meatloaf from swimming in grease which 1) is healthier, 2) allows the loaf to get crispy on more sides than just the top!

Ground Beef:  Use one pan and do batches!  Cook your plain ground beef batch, drain and let it sit for a bit to cool before you divide for freezing.  While it cools, cook your next "plain-est" batch, in this case, with peppers and onions for spaghetti and chili.  Just before it's done, divide up your plain ground beef into labeled ziplocs to free up your strainer.  Then drain the pepper/onion ground beef and let cool while you cook up your four pounds of taco seasoned ground beef.  No need to even wipe the pan because you're moving from least seasoned to most seasoned.  Before your taco meat is done, divide up the pepper/onion ground beef to free up your strainer once again.  Drain your taco meat, cool, divide.  You just made meat for 9 meals!  If you made up your meatloaf while your ground beef was cooking, then you just made meat for 11 meals!  How easy was that??  And all you have to wash is the ground beef pan and the bowl you used to mix your meatloaf.

Chicken:  Boil in batches for those meals that need cooked chicken.  Cube or shred and combine with whatever the recipe calls for.  Cool before cubing; shred while warm.  It's easy that way!  While you're boiling your chicken, cube up the raw chicken and prep their labeled ziplocs for freezing (marinades where applicable).  Again, multiple meals done and frozen, just like that!  One pan used for boiling, one cutting board for raw chicken, and one for cutting cooked chicken.

I know there are other OAMChefs who get into chopping and freezing the veggies to go with that dinner, but I didn't prefer to do that.  I'd rather get fresh produce each week when I need the regular milk, bread, and such.  I did however get big bags of frozen broccoli for a few of the meals, and I do use some canned vegetables/beans.  But everything else is purchased and used fresh.  Here are a couple pics of my freezer when I was stocking the shelves.

Frozen, foil-wrapped casseroles and lasagnas.  More on that in the next post.

Shepherd's pie, chicken pot pie (that failed), honey soy chicken in it's marinade...and more!  There are
about 6-7 meals in this one little picture.  Main dishes of course.  Because really, who has a big enough
freezer to fit 36 meals of main dish AND sides all together?  :-)

Roasts and chickens and meatloafs, oh my!

Next up, how to freeze casseroles without losing your pan for weeks!