Friday, August 15, 2008

cooking inspiration

I've been lacking inspiration in the kitchen lately. Seems like every day I go into the kitchen, open the fridge and stare into it, open the freezer and stare into it, and open my pantry and stare some more, all the while thinking, "What on earth am I going to cook?" Finally after eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner the second night in a row (Elijah's idea--he LOVES peanut butter and jelly sandwiches), I thought, "Something has to change." So I went to for inspiration, and discovered something new--a budget cooking page! I'm so excited! One of the first recipes I came across was sloppy joes. Of course my first thought was, "Sloppy Joes! Why didn't I think of that?" Sloppy joes are a perfect freezer food. I like to make big pots of food and then freeze some to thaw later--makes for less time spent cooking, in the long run. So I made a triple batch of the top-rated recipe. However, I'm not sure that any will make it to the freezer, as it's pretty good!

I have a lot of good meals in my repertoire, and I tend to be quite successful with new recipes as well (probably because I don't attempt anything particularly complicated), so I think our lackluster meals of late are mostly due to bad planning on my part. With some proper meal planning and a little browsing on allrecipes, I'm sure I will find myself re-inspired.

If my cooking readers would like to comment and mention two or three of their family's favorite meals, perhaps that would help. :)



    Ok ok so they are not really family recipes OR really a dinner recipe but they are quick, easy, and kids love'em....including my husband lol! Sam only eats pizza, chocolate, and potato chips. So its pretty limited on what I can make for dinner. I tried the pizza rolls and now we can't watch a football game without them. They are awesome! Unfortunately, with him being 6'3 I have to make about fifty of them. :) Hope your kids like!

  2. There's a simple chicken recipe I use pretty frequently, except it's not a real recipe and I tend to change it all the time... but it consists (usually) of chicken breasts, swiss cheese, and cream of mushroom soup and a little milk. You can add all kinds of things like pieces of ham or fresh mushrooms or chopped broccoli, or substitute the swiss cheese with monterery jack. I also spice the chicken fairly heavily with salt and garlic, and then after I layer whatever else is going on, sprinkle with basil and thyme.

  3. Best bet: get a crock pot/slow cooker.

    I've had once since we married and it takes so much hassle out of meal preparation I think *everyone* should have one

    You can put anything in it the night before; or even that morning, and by the evening when everyone is tired, fed up, with low blood sugar and probably grump (just in our house!) you have a meal ready and waiting.

    We typically put in frozen chicken (and when it comes to supper time I stick some rice and frozen veg in the microwaves)(and you can add gravy or sauce or seasoning as required); or frozen cubed/diced beef, with frozen veg (serve with rice/potatoes or whatever comes to hand); or frozen meat of any kind, add frozen veg (2 mins prep time) and you have the basis of a family meal

    We work hard here, and run a pretty tight ship. I shop online, buying a lot of frozen food, which then goes straight into the slow cooker or microwaves. I don't stress about "making great meals"

    My aim is to provide healthy and appetising food, as fast as possible (they eat it fast, I like to cook it fast)

    Even if you don't have the same time constraints, I'd recomment a crock pot and regardless of what "rules" it comes with, you can cook any meat, fish or veg in it. (have never tried pasta or rice)

    The first SIX yrs of my marriage (inc 5 children) I did not own or use an oven or a hob/stove top.

    We cooked (lol I mean I cooked) exclusively using a microwave and a crock pot. ..

    It might save you some time.

  4. Thanks for the comments so far! (but Myra, I can't read your links--can you try reposting them? Anything pizza related sounds yummy to me!)

    Henrietta, I do have a crockpot--but I haven't been using it much, as most of the recipes I see involve browning the meat before putting it into the crockpot, so an extra step and an extra pan to wash--I never thought of putting frozen meat directly into the crockpot! That would be so convenient!

    I already use the crockpot now and then for beef stew (not with frozen meat though, I really need to try that!) and for chili, which is another thing I tend to make in bulk & freeze. I'm happy to hear of more crockpot ideas!

    I've never done chicken of any kind in the crock pot--I do have frozen chicken in the freezer--perhaps dinner tomorrow? Hmmmm.

  5. Hi Sharon! Hope you're doing OK. Sorry I've not been in touch for a while, or left any comments on your recent blogs. Meant to comment on both the stroller one and this one, but been very busy the past 4-6 weeks, it seems! As for the meal ideas tho, I thought I would watch for ideas given to you, as I seem to be running out of ideas at the moment! :) Abigail isn't eating her dinner/supper all that well at the moment (gets distracted/tired/bored) and then wants a bowl of cereal before she falls asleep - only 1.5 hours or less later! Sooo, some exciting ideas would be great!

    What sort of ingredients do your kids/you like, then I might could share some recipes! My children love pasta dishes (tho Peter isn't all that keen), but often it means they'll eat well if I make something like that!

    I certainly enjoy using my crockpot whenever I use it, but usually like to use it for one-pot meals (like stews, goulash, chili, etc) so I don't have to do *anything* else at dinner time! :) Not everyone is keen on one pot meals all mixed together, so don't use it all that often.

    Recently I got a steamer off Freecycle and have really enjoyed using it. It's great when you can put your meal (such as chicken) on the bottom and then potatoes & veg in the baskets above it, or rice in the rice bowl, or other sorts of meat as well, and have a full meal in only about 30 min after turning it on! And it's seperate foods too, not all mixed together! :)

    Ever make lasagna? I find that the American recipes use loads of expensive ingredients, but over here recipes are far more simple. All you need to do is use ground beef and some chunky tomatoes, add a bit of seasonings etc, onions, garlic. Then make a simple white sauce (butter, flour & milk), add a bit of ordinary grated cheese to the white sauce (just a small handful), then layer the meat sauce & white sauce with lasagna sheets, ending with white sauce and sprinkle a bit more cheese on top and that's all. Quite easy and tastes good too.

    Might can think of some more meal ideas if you're interested! :) Just tell me what you like best - soups even, I love making soups and try all kinds!



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