Friday, March 16, 2012

Cowboy Stew – Since my Mother In Law Has Requested It

I grew up here in Texas. I also grew up eating Cowboy Stew. This is a great easy dish that is great when the weather is cold, and I also enjoy it when it is hot. In other words, there is pretty much never a time that I would turn this down. (Unless I just ate. I mean, I don’t want to make a pig out of myself!)

So, because my mother in law has requested that I write this recipe down for her for ages, here is how you make Cowboy Stew!
The first this that you need to do is brown the ground beef.

While the beef is browning, chop the onion and bell pepper. After draining any fat that you want to remove (by using ground sirloin you can actually skip that step) add the bell pepper and onion.

Now is the time to open the canned items and drain them.
If you have a tabby named Trouble, the can opener will serve as her cue to make a holy racket. (In case you were wondering, she happens to think that anything you open is for her – I’m not sure where she got the idea, but she never misses an opportunity to tell me)

Once everything is drained, add it all to the pot. This is also the point that you may realize that you should have used a bigger pot. You may also debate with yourself the merits of changing pots and adding to the dishes that need to be done.

Now peel, chop and boil the potatoes in another pot. This does two things – it allows you to drain part of the starch off and to not wait forever for the potatoes to cook in the stew.

Once the potatoes are soft, drain them and add them to the stew. Simmer for a bit more for the flavors to meld and enjoy!

Cowboy Stew

2 pounds of ground sirloin
1 bell pepper (diced)
1 onion (chopped)
4 potatoes (peeled, chopped)
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes (or diced tomatoes with green chilies) (drained)
2 cans kidney beans (drained)
1 can whole kernel corn (drained)
1 can green beans (drained)
1 can carrots (drained)
2 tablespoons garlic salt

Brown the ground beef and drain off excess fat. Sautee onion and bell pepper in pan with ground beef. Once the onion and bell pepper are saut̩ed, add garlic salt, and all other ingredients Рexcept potatoes. Set stew to simmer. Boil potatoes in separate pot. Once the potatoes are soft, drain the excess water and add to the stew. Simmer an additional 15 minutes with all ingredients and then enjoy!



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How to Slice a Bell Pepper Without Screaming

Slicing a bell pepper is another of those tasks that can take forever if you don’t know the trick. Luckily, I do know it and so will you!

1: Hold the bell pepper up on its end and slice off the side.

2: Rotate and repeat until all of the yummy green parts are off and the nasty seeds and membrane remain attached to the stem.

3: Toss those and chop or slice to your heart’s content!

When I’m chopping the peppers, I slice the sides into strips first and then chop the strips.

I know that this is a short post, but it really is just that easy to do. It makes my life easier and dinner come together faster for all sorts of dishes. Plus, the clean up is so much easier than if you have membrane and seeds all over the place.



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Easiest Way to Peel an Onion Ever In the History of the World

It may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I truly feel that this is the easiest way to get into an onion in the world.

It’s super simple:

1: Slice off both end of the onion.

2: Slice through the top layer of the onion and pull back.

3: Pull the outer layer off of the onion.

See – it really is that simple! Now you can slice it any way that you want. My most common next step is to cut it in half from top to bottom (end to end). Then I am free to slice and chop the onion any way that I want to!

Another handy little tip for dealing with onions is to keep a glass of water near by. If the onion starts to make your eyes water, simply take a drink of the water. Having the water up in front of your eyes actually clears up that burning feeling. And you should never have to cry over dinner!

I hope that helps!



Monday, March 12, 2012

She Just Paid How Much?

This Saturday was wet, rainy, and just generally gloomy. The bright side of that was that Hubby was off of work so we were able to spend the time together. Before the rain started, Hubby worked on getting our soon to be garden ready (he has huge plans for growing food – I’ll keep you posted!) and I worked on cleaning the kitchen. The down side of saving lots of money by cooking all the time is that the kitchen always seems to be a mess. Someday soon I will get all caught up on everything and my house will look amazing. Well, a girl can dream, right?

After the rain started, we became kind of useless. You know how it goes – the rain is falling, it’s nice and gray outside, and you hear that pitter patter on the roof. Useless. We were both about to fall asleep in the middle of the afternoon. We finally pried our sleepy selves up off the couch and went into town to run some errands. We had to pick up cat food (Trouble really lets us have it when we get low) and Hubby needed a couple of things from Target. By the way, Target is just about one of my favorite stores ever!!! Every time that I go there I have to take extra time and look through all of the clearance sections. It is a great place to find great gifts for friends and family at a great price.

After we had gone through and gotten out loot (including makeup for me, new sneakers on clearance for me, and a super fun messenger bag for $2.50 on clearance for me too!) we went to wait to get checked out. All of the lines were pretty busy so we ended up in line behind a woman that had a ton of stuff. Finally it was all rung up and we heard her total: $362.74. I nearly fainted. I looked at Hubby and I swear that my eyes had to have been bugged out in disbelief. My total, in case you were wondering, was $19.32.

Hearing that total really got me thinking. She had a bunch of frozen and convenience style foods in her cart, and I didn’t really see the makings of a decorating makeover. That means that this total came mostly from food. I don’t spend that much on food in a month. By buying ingredients and shopping around for the best prices on specific items, you can have great food, great meals, and still have money left to pay everything else that life requires.

So I’m going to keep posting about how I do things to save as much money as possible and afford to have a great life on a reasonable budget. And by that I mean that I’m going to try and be better about posting. Sorry, but there is nothing like getting your brain broken in the checkout line at Target to get you motivated to share your tips and tricks!


Friday, March 2, 2012

From Boneless Ribs to Pork-cicles

One of my favorite things about shopping for groceries is finding good deals – especially on meat. There are plenty of times that we have had new cuts of meat just because I found it on sale. It’s a great way to save money and to try new things.

Sometimes when I find meat on sale, I tend to get little bit more than we can eat at one time. After all, it is just me and Hubby and even though we have healthy appetites we can only eat so much. I mean come on, I want to loose weight, not gain it. (Side note – one way to loose weight and live a healthy life is to cook your own food. You know what all is in it and you save so much money.) When I go a little overboard on the purchasing, I break the meat out of the packages that it came in (because they are useless when freezing things) and freeze them in easy to access portions.

For these boneless pork ribs, I first pulled out all three packages and the bag that I planned to freeze them in. I decided to freeze them all in one gallon sized freezer bag because each package made one row when placed in there flatly. The bag held all three rows and they will still be easy to break apart to thaw and cook. Or I could just thaw them all when we have friends over and make a super big meal. Not that I’m planning anything – THIS IS NOT A PARTY ANNOUNCEMENT! (Whew – had to put that in there!)

So that is how I freeze boneless ribs to take up as little space as possible and still be accessible to thaw and cook. Lining them up allows me to only pull out what I want instead of letting them freeze into a giant block of pork. Delicious, but not practical.

I hope that helps anyone and I’ll be sure to share my tips for freezing other types of meat!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

It’s All Just a Little Bit of Cookery Repeating

We all have leftovers sitting around that we don’t really want to eat. You know the ones – it’s something that you are tired of, or the sides that you ate with it are gone, or even it just plain doesn’t sound good today.

Today I have the story of pulled pork that got some new life as tacos. I know that it sounds like a strange idea, but sometimes you can take parts of a previous meal and re-work them into something completely different. The easiest things to do this with are meats, but plain rice and past can be worked over for new meals too.

The first thing I did was to pull the pulled port apart even more. It was still in some pretty large pieces and needed to be thinned out just a bit. This makes it much easier to get a better coating of sauce on the meat.

Doesn’t that look nice? Now we need to make up the sauce a bit. Just put plain barbeque sauce into a sauce pan (what a handy title for a pan to put sauce in!) and add garlic salt and hot sauce. Hubby LOVES Sriracha. Loves it. He puts it in all sorts of stuff when I’m not looking. Like creamy chicken ramen soup. Weirdo. (I love you Hubby!) Anyway, after you add the garlic salt, add some hot sauce of your choosing until you reach the level of pain…I mean spice that you prefer.

Then add the pulled pork and stir until combined and heated throughout.

Now get out your tortillas, add some pork, grated cheese, and sliced avocado and ta-da! Another dinner from one that you already cooked! Not only do you have a great meal with little effort, but you aren’t wasting something that you already have (and thusly saving money)!

This was such a big hit with Hubby that he is already requesting it again.

Hope that you enjoy it too!


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Monday Meal Deal

Yesterday was that most unfortunate day of the week: Monday. It comes after every Sunday and brings with it a return to work and school, traffic, and any of the stress that you were able to dodge during the weekend. Even when you don’t work full time, you can always tell when it is Monday.

After a Monday that is every bit a Monday, sometimes the last thing that you want to do is come home from work and cook dinner. That is where this deal comes in:

Cotton Patch $6.99 Chicken Fried Chick or Chicken Fried Steak

This is only available on Monday nights, and only for dine-in. Hubby and I both got this deal and water to drink and were out for less than $20.00 even after tipping. An additional score is that I always split my chicken fried steak in half when I first get it (gravy on the side so that it won’t get soggy) and then split it again and place each ¼ of the original on a roll. Boom. Sandwiches for lunch the next day! For anyone keeping track, that means that a $6.99 dish makes two meals. A great deal any way you look at it!