Tip Tuesday: Eating the Color Wheel

Tip Tuesday

Food comes in many colors.  A veritable bounty of hues and shades.  For quite a while now, government agencies, diet gurus, nutritionists, mommy bloggers, and talking heads have stressed the importance of “eating the rainbow.”

First of all, I do not like Skittles.  I don’t want to eat or taste the rainbow.  The world encapsulates more colors than ROY G. BIV (red-orange-yellow-green-indigo-violet) as do food colors.

I’m not talking about the plethora of food, drug, and cosmetic food dyes.

Where would you classify the lovely raspberry hue of…well…raspberries on the rainbow?  They are more magenta than anything else.  Magenta does not appear on the rainbow.

And, I’m going to commit a major nutrition taboo.  What about the white foods?  Cauliflower, potatoes, pasta, and the like (as well as white onions and garlic) would be eliminated from the food list if we merely “ate the rainbow.”

And what about white foods’ traditionally more healthful cousins, the brown foods?  Brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat, and for that matter, the way-too-ubiquitous quinoa would cease to exist.

What about the lovely pink shade of shrimp?  Or salmon?  Or browned meats that have been made so much better with the maillard reaction?

Yes.  Eating the rainbow is too limiting.  Only seven colors.

I prefer for my food choices not to be so limited.

I prefer, instead, to eat more of one of those really complicated color wheels.  Full gradations of every color imaginable (and unimaginable).

Because, if you think about it, dark greens found in dark…well…greens would be nixed from serving plates if we ate the rainbow.  And greens are some of the yummiest foods in the world (when coupled with the golden brown of cornbread and the pinky tones of tasty pork added as a flavoring agent).

I’ve never truly been a “rainbow girl,” anyway.  Again, seven colors were far too limiting, in my imagination.

So, if you will, please join me in championing the cause:  Eat the Color Wheel, Not the Rainbow!

Whaddya think?

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Meal Plan Monday: I’m Baaaaaaaaaack!

Meal Plan Monday

I took a week hiatus during my in-laws’ visit.  It was quite a week!  Muffin had a ton of fun spending time with his grandma and Grandpa Mark!

And, now, back to reality.

Today marks Muffin’s second heavy-duty dentist appointment.  Sunday night I prepped some of his favorite dishes and let his late nap ride so that he could eat late that evening (He had to go food and drink free after midnight, so he actually ate close to 9:30 last night).

This is also the week of both Canada Day and the Fourth of July.  My parents will be with us for Canada Day, but they will be spending the Fourth of July with my sister.

So…here’s the menu for the week:

Saturday:  Ranch Chicken Enchiladas from Life in the Lofthouse, guacamole, salsa, chips, refried beans from Mom on Timeout

Sunday:  Dr. Pepper Pork Chops from Debbiedoo’s, cornbread, purple hull peas

Monday:  Spasagna from Country Cook, leftover cornbread/biscuits, salad

Tuesday:  Sloppy Joe Squares from Life in the Lofthouse, green veg/salad

Wednesday:  Happy Canada Day!  Citrus Shrimp (recipe and picture forthcoming), French bread, hot dog bar, strawberry pie, cheesecake, baked beans, potato salad

Thursday:  leftovers

Friday:  leftover pizza spirals from last Friday (testing from freezer rejuvenation), green veg

Saturday:  Happy Fourth of July!  hamburger bar and ice cream sundae bar

Sunday:  red beans and rice in the slow cooker

I hope everyone has a wonderful, safe, patriotic week!

Tip Tuesday: Stroll the Grocery Aisles to Find Hidden Deals

Tip Tuesday

During our most recent Kroger visit, I had to purchase store-brand Chex cereal to make Churro Chex Mix (recipe forthcoming with a pic next week during the in-laws’ visit).

Muffin was, for once, being very well behaved on our grocery trip.

I looked down below the store-brand Rice Chex, and I noticed that the smaller (12 ounce or so) boxes of Multi-Grain Cheerios were marked $1.  I remembered that they were on sale (for the coupon sale) at Albertson’s for $1.99 for the same sized box and also remembered thinking that it was a great deal.  Cereal for $1 a box was too good to pass up.

Muffin really wanted the cereal, but it wasn’t until the next morning at breakfast that I realized why.  On the box is a picture of a bowl of cereal with milk and a raspberry.  Muffin was very disappointed that his bowl of cereal did not have a raspberry in it.

He did like the cereal, however.

That’s happened a lot lately, these “unadvertised” in-store specials.  Our local Kroger has also been selling a dozen large eggs for $1.50.

So, the tip for the day is to peruse your grocery store aisles for these great deals.

Also, check the aisles for clearance items.  Sometimes, you can find a real steal at places (Target is one of the best, as is our local Brookshire’s).

How do you find great deals in-store?

Meal Plan Monday: Leading Up to Visitor Week

Meal Plan Monday

We are inside of a week of my in-laws’ visit.  Muffin is EXTREMELY excited!  Beyond excited.  Each day, he says his countdown of how many days.

To make matters kinda dicey, every time I serve a new dish that he likes, he asks if we can have it when Grandma comes.  I explain to him, with varying degrees of patience, that the menu has already been finalized (and refinalized).  We are now on version 12.0, I think.

So, to my wonderful mother-in-law:  Muffin really wanted to have Smothered Chicken, Southern Buttermilk Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, fresh green beans, blueberries, sesame chicken, pizza pasta, mini pizzas on toast, and Fuji Chicken.

If you go back to the We Plan Wednesday post about the June menu, you will notice that things have changed slightly.  Hahaha.  Did anyone not think that would happen?

Saturday:  Chicken with Cornbread Casserole from Bread, Booze, and Bacon; salad with vinaigrette

Sunday:  Cheesy Chicken Tater Tot Casserole from Country Cook (made in the slow cooker), green veg

Monday:  beef stew and cornbread

Tuesday:  Spasagna from Country Cook, salad

Wednesday:  red beans and rice in the slow cooker, bread, green veg

Thursday:  leftovers/hot dogs (I know from experience that there will be leftover red beans and rice.)

Friday:  Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza Balls from Gunny Sack, hamburger topping salad

Saturday:  Crockpot Ranch Pork Chops from Food.com, green veg, rice

Sunday:  Baked Potato Bar, Strawn’s Strawberry Pie (from Food.com)

What’s on the meal plan for you this week?

Cent-Saving Saturday: A Recipe From Chipotle

Cent Saving Saturday

Do you subscribe to any blogger’s newsletters?  I subscribe to a few.  It lets me know when I need to check their blogs for new recipes and ideas (and reminds me, in my busy-ness, that they still exist).  One that I’ve recently begun receiving the newsletter for is Heather Likes Food.  I first discovered the blog when I realized that the Smothered Chicken was part of a guest post written by Heather of (you guessed it!) Heather Likes Food.  And that’s not the only num-nummy recipe on her blog.  Thus, I signed up to receive her newsletter.

And…today (actually yesterday…but I had already written the Cent Saving Saturday post, and I wanted you to find this before Chipotle manages to make it go away so I didn’t want it to wait another week) I read in her newsletter that CHIPOTLE HAD POSTED THEIR GUACAMOLE RECIPE ON THEIR WEBSITE!!!!!!

On their site, they mention that their guac is an “extra,” that is, you have to pay through the nose for the privilege of having that yumminess added to your meal.

But now, I can make it at home.  I had read several clones and copycats of the recipe over the years, but now I can make it at home!

I’m posting the recipe here in case they take it down.  If you want to see it in all of its Flash-y fun, check out Chipotle’s site.

Chipotle Guacamole

Lifted Shamelessly from Chipotle’s Website 6/13/15

2 ripe Haas avocadoes

2 teaspoons lime juice

2 tablespoons cilantro (chopped)

1/4 cup red onion (finely chopped)

1/2 jalapeno, including seeds (finely chopped)

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1. Choose the right avocado. It should feel squishy yet firm (like the palm of your hand), and be a nice dark green color on the inside.
2. Cut the avocado in half and the remove the pit (carefully!)
3. Scoop the avocados and place in a medium bowl.
4. Toss and coat with lime juice.
5. Add the salt and using a fork or potato masher, mash until a smooth consistency is achieved.
6. Fold in the remaining ingredients and mix well.
7. Taste the guacamole (over and over) and adjust seasoning if necessary.

See?  Totally different from what I normally do.  I usually mash before adding any other ingredients.  I have a feeling that mashing after the lime juice makes it oxidize less.

Life changing!

Thanks, Heather!

What is your favorite guacamole application?

Cent Saving Saturday: The Kroger Friday Download

Cent Saving Saturday

I know that some of you may not have a Kroger in your area, but you may have a grocery store that has a card loyalty program.  I really am not in favor of the card loyalty programs.  It punishes (or at least, inconveniences) tourists to the area.  It’s a hassle to keep up with the card.  (I, who have yet to manage to not misplace a driver’s license for its four-year tenure EVER can attest to this.)  Right now, I have way too many cards I have to shuffle through to find the card I want.

But the Kroger card has a neat thing that I will try out for the first time this weekend (having procured another card and tied it to my online account).  They have Free Download Friday.  This Friday, it was one of those Snapple Straight-Up Teas.  Today, I will try it out for sure.

But that’s only one of the really cool deals this week.

Albertsons

3-Day Sale

boneless skinless chicken breasts $1.99/pound

cherries $2.49/pound

All Week

Carolina ground turkey 99 cents (limit 6) with in-ad coupon

Ritz crackers and Oreo cookies $1.99 (limit 4) with in-ad coupon

Challenge butter $1.99 (limit 4) with in-ad coupon

Essential Everyday shredded cheese $1.79 (limit 2) with in-ad coupon

Ragu 99 cents wyb 6

Lipton iced tea bags, 24 count family size $1.49 wyb 6

celery $1.29

pint blueberries $1.99 with in-ad coupon

Kroger

green beans 99 cents/pound

milk/orange juice, gallon $2.99

Old Orchard apple juice 99 cents wyb 5

peaches/nectarines $1.28/pound

Coke, Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, or 7-Up $1 wyb 5

Kroger cheese 32 ounce $5.99

Hostess snack cakes $1.99 wyb 5

Kraft/Sargento shredded 6-8 ounce cheese $1.99 wyb 5

Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh lunch meat $2.49 wyb 5

Kroger sour cream 24 ounce $1.49 wyb 5

red, yellow, or orange bell peppers 88 cents

red seedless grapes 88 cents/pound

Nature’s Own honey wheat bread 99 cents with $10 additional purchase, limit 2

Super 1

whole chicken 77 cents/pound

green beans 87 cents/pound

5 pound bag potatoes $1.45

Brookshires

3 pound bag yellow onions, buy 1 get 1 for a penny ($2.99/2)

cucumbers/extra large bell peppers 2/$1

What are your deals this week?

Funny Muffin Friday: Can I Have Some of Your Chicken?

Funny Muffin Friday

The crime:  Stolen pieces of fried chickeny goodness  (See below for the meal in its pristine state)

The victim:  ME!!!!!

The culprit:  Muffin!

The motive:  This chicken was totally Muffin (and Mama!) Approved!

Okay, enough of the drama (but I’m still missing my chicken!).  On Tuesday, when I was supposed to make the sesame chicken (yup, it got delayed again), I realized that I didn’t have chicken thighs.  I thought, that’s okay.  I’ll go ahead and make it with chicken breasts.

Then, I couldn’t find the sesame oil.  You aren’t going to get too far with sesame chicken without sesame oil.  I have since found the sesame oil, but that was after I had already started making another chicken recipe, Southern Buttermilk Fried Chicken from A Bountiful Kitchen.

Now, I have made fried chicken before.  It’s a pain in the proverbial neck.  Alton Brown’s fried chicken from the Fry Hard 2:  The Chicken episode of Good Eats is my gold standard.  If you want to go through the entire process, that’s the one you should use.  Or Pioneer Woman’s.

But things like “Is the chicken done around the bone?” tend to worry me, exceedingly so.  As a result, I tend to shy away from southern fried chicken unless it can be purchased in a bucket or a bag.

I know that I’m committing Southern Sacrilege by saying that, but there it is.

When I found that recipe at A Bountiful Kitchen, I was intrigued because it uses boneless skinless chicken breasts and has finite amounts of time that the chicken sits in the oil on each side (I will probably lessen the amount of time next time because mine got a bit too caramelized, even at a lower temperature).

That’s how it ended up on the menu…for Saturday.

But, it was really the only option as a stand in when, at 1:30, I couldn’t find the sesame oil.  It was too late to thaw the pork chops for the Crock Pot Ranch Pork Chops, and too late to start the pizza pasta dish (or the other slow cooker dish for the week).  And I really am planning on making the cornbread in advance for the cornbread chicken casserole.

That left the fried chicken.  Luckily, we had plenty of mashed taters left over from Monday night.  I decided to make brown gravy using a mix (Yes, I know, but I was so frustrated for having to change the menu at that point) and some green beans.  I wouldn’t be able to let the chicken soak in the buttermilk mixture as long as I wanted to.

Next time I will soak it overnight so that it can be affected by all of that yumminess.

I pretty much followed the recipe exactly, other than shading off some of the time.  The reason was my fault, of course.  I divided my breasts in half lengthwise, and I’m not great at dividing them evenly.

I kept my stove a shade cooler, too, setting 6 instead of between the 7 and 8 for medium-high.  My stove tends to run fairly hot, though.

Southern Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Adapted Pretty Closely from A Bountiful Kitchen

2 1/2 cups milk

roughly 3 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons Frank’s Red Hot Sauce or another Louisiana-style variety (I would think Tabasco too hot and thin for this recipe)

2 large (humongous) chicken breasts, divided into two-three pieces each

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon or so salt, to taste

1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I actually used closer to a half, and no one was the wiser)

1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola oil with a smattering of bacon grease)

In a four-cup measuring cup (think Pyrex! or Oxo) pour the milk and vinegar.  Whisk.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes.  Whisk again.  You’ve just made buttermilk!

Add in the pepper sauce and stir to combine.

Place chicken pieces in the mixture, cover, and place in the fridge at least one hour (but hopefully overnight!).

When ready to fry, pour the oil in the pan.

Mix up the flour, pepper, cayenne, and salt in a gallon-size zip-top baggie.  Resist the extremely overwhelming urge to add anything (such as Dash or Montreal Chicken Seasoning) to the mix.  Seriously.  Resist.  Consider this Southern Rocket Science.  Or at least Southern Fried Chicken Science.

Heat the oil until it’s hot on medium-medium-high heat (Setting 6 on a 10 setting system).  Don’t pour a cup of water in it to test.  I’ve never done that, but I’m pretty sure that’s not a good idea.  Then, the Southern Fried Chicken Science may become Southern Rocket Science entirely on accident.

Instead, to test, add a cube of bread.  If it browns delightfully without immediately burning, the oil is ready.  If not, wait or adjust accordingly.

Shake the chicken, a few pieces at a time, in the flour baggie.

Add the chicken, as many pieces that will fit with a half-inch apart, to the pan.  Fry 6-7 minutes on the first side.  Leave the chicken alone!  Do not poke, prod, turn, or anything else the chicken during that time.  Turn the chicken.  Repeat.

Evacuate the new golden brown deliciousness to a paper-towel-lined plate.  Note:  I know that there are people who hotly contest the evacuation resting place.  I cannot bring myself to try newsprint.  I’m not going to fry-grease pollute my cooling racks.  Paper towels is how I was raised, and paper towels it will be.

Repeat as necessary with the remaining chicken.  If it’s going to be a while while the rest of it finishes, you may keep it in a warm (200 degree) oven.  Our first pieces were still rocket hot when the last ones finished.

Serve with appropriate sides.

Verdict:  Muffin ate his piece of chicken, most of his taters, and a smattering of green beans.  Then, he started begging for my chicken.

He took my chicken!!!!

And, in doing so, asked me at least five times to make the chicken again.

Did I mention that he took my chicken?!?!

Muffin Approved

The one thing this recipe was missing?  Greens!  Oh, well, I guess that’s for next time.