Touch of Nectar

{September 12, 2015}   testing

Testing. Testing… just a little yarny goodness. Seeing if this thing still works.20150909_132134


Meatballs are one staple thing I keep in the freezer. I often add shredded zucchini or yellow squash to them in an attempt to healthy them up.

Then I was sent this sample.

Mostly made of soy. One of the suggestions on the label said it could be mixed with ground beef for a healthier burger.  Well now. Ground turkey was on sale this week for buy one get one free and I intended to make meatballs anyway… Perfect.

It certainly doesn’t look like much right out of the package.

I added two pounds of ground turkey and one egg. It made lots of meatballs!  I put 5 packages of 10 each in the freezer. Yay me!

The meatballs turned out very nicely. You can’t tell I added anything to them and they have a nice dense texture.

So I stumbled on this idea on pinterest (yeah yeah. I know) and knew immediately that I had to try it.

Cinnamon rolls on the grocery list. STAT!

These are the ones that come with orange frosting, which I love.  I was pleasantly surprised how well this worked!  The kidling is already asking for me to make them again.

Just stick the cinnamon rolls in the waffle maker, close the lid, and the machine does the rest.  And it is faster and easier than waiting for the oven to preheat. Brilliant!

Hubby had his drizzled with real maple syrup. The kidling and I had ours with the ooey gooey frosting.


{January 14, 2012}   You’re Doing it Wrong!

Yeah. That’s me talking to myself.

Isn’t there some sort of rule? Don’t go to the grocery store hungry.  Don’t go to the grocery store without a list. Don’t go to the grocery store before you’ve written up the menu for the week.

Yeah, well… I’m a rule breaker. Apparently. Oops.

I needed a couple of things. Just a couple I swear. Then I got to thinking… Why go to the grocery store twice in one week if I don’t really have to. And that’s where the trouble began.  I have most of a menu written up for the week (see below) and had a list. It just wasn’t with me.  I did manage to get everything on the list. And then some.  I picked up a couple of things for the One Pan Wonders blog as well.

It’s a good thing I’m wicked good at freezer tetris.  Pork tenderloin was on sale (finally!!) and ground turkey was buy one get one free. Neither were on my (ahem, incomplete!) menu, but they are now.  The pork will be three dinners worth with ample leftovers, so it will carry over to future weeks. I made a simple teriyaki marinade and froze two portions. The third portion we ate last night with amble leftovers. I’m thinking pork fried rice should be on the menu soon.

The ground turkey will be meatballs. Lots and LOTS of meatballs.  Good timing too, since I just used up the last ziplock stash of freezer meatballs.  I have some fake meat stuff that I was sent to try awhile ago and one of the suggestions is to mix it with ground meat to make burgers/meatballs healthier. I think I’ll try that this time around. I’ll try and remember to blog about the results.

Surprisingly enough, I still stayed under budget. JUST under budget.  $95.41.

Now here’s the (slightly incomplete) menu for the week:

Mon: Turkey Meatballs – Maybe some sort of Sweedish Meatball dish with egg noodles?

Tue: Lemon Lime Tilapia ( #281121), rice, broccoli

Wed: BBQ chicken sandwiches, slaw, french fries

Thur: Pierogis, cabbage, leftover pork

Fri: CORN/Leftovers

Sat: Pork fried rice, salad, (are there dumplings or egg rolls in the freezer?)

Sun: undecided

Lunches: Cheesy Quinoa Bites (pinterest – quinoa in the freezer), some sort of kale/bean salad?

Other: kidling wants blueberry waffles. Easy enough.

{January 13, 2012}   What’s in your fridge?

So there’s this thread over on the backpacking forums that I visit about what is in your fridge. I love seeing what people have. 

Mine usually isn’t this bare, but we are in the process of re-stocking after getting the new fridge. The freezer’s crammed full though!

Lots and lots of condiments, yeast, salad dressing, pickles…

Top shelf has a tray with syrups and jelly (no more sticky fridge!), milk, creamer, some bento supplies.  Second shelf has CAKE and salad. Bottom shelf has meats. Drawers contain veggies and cheese.

And the freezer… I need a new system. :/  Anyone got some good suggestions for organizing a small freezer? 

Bottom trays have veggies. The ziplocks are ready-to-eat meals, soups and cooked turkey/chicken. In the tupperware is meats in marinade and twice baked potatoes (waiting for their 2nd baking).

And in the door… more frozen veggies, bananas, bento stash, ginger.

{January 12, 2012}   Dinner and a Leftovers Idea

I found this recipe on Pinterest (shut up. I do not have a problem.) the other day and realized I had most of the ingredients to make it. I omitted the pastry sheet didn’t really follow the recipe at all. The idea is a good one though, and there are lots of different things you could put in the mix.

Chicken stuffed with Cream Cheese, Bacon and Green Onions.  YUM!!!!


I served it with Hasselback Taters and a green salad. For the taters I just used olive oil and Johnny’s Seasoning salt.

There’s leftover chicken.  I think it will be awesome cut up and tossed with some hot pasta for dinner tonight. The gooey cheese will make a nice sauce.  I also had a little extra of the cheese mix that didn’t fit into the chicken breasts. I am saving this to serve on bruschetta.

I am now out of bacon.  Sad, right?

{January 11, 2012}   Revamped Leftovers. SOUP!

I had made a delicious sausage-onion-sundried tomato pizza the other night and had a bit of sausage and onion leftover (there’s only so much sausage you can cram on a pizza).  Then yesterday, I was reading up on all the bento blogs I follow and found the perfect recipe to revamp my leftovers.

Zuppa Toscana from Bentobloggy. 

I didn’t follow her recipe exactly, since I was starting with already cooked meat, but here’s what I did…

Sauteed one onion, two carrots and two celery sticks in olive oil. I added about 1/4 (maybe a little less?) pound of bacon, chopped coarsely. When the bacon was almost done, I added the leftover sausage, 2 russet potatoes (peeled and diced in 1/2 inch cubes) and a can of chicken broth and some water.  I let this simmer until the potatoes were tender and the broth had reduced down to a thick soup.  I omitted the greens since I didn’t have any handy. I was winging the recipe afterall, doncha know.  I also didn’t have the heavy cream she calls for in her recipe, so I used 2% milk. It worked just fine.

Dinner took about 40 minutes, start to finish. I served the hearty soup with cheesey breadsticks and a mixed green salad. Nom nom nom!  Perfect comfort food for cold winter days.

Sorry, I was so hungry I forgot to take a photo!

{January 10, 2012}   Back to the Bentos. And Budget.

Okay, the new fridge has arrived!  I spent a good portion of yesterday afternoon restocking and reorganizing. The new fridge has a slightly different set up than the old one, so I need to come up with some new ideas. My shelf racks won’t work in the freezer any more.  Suggestions welcome!  I am, however, still using my deli trays for jams and jellys.  A little sad because this fridge doesn’t have the extra small drawer that I used to stash cheese in.  Tupperware, maybe? 

I also went grocery shopping!  I’m at $95.57 for this week, with a couple more things (quails eggs, won ton wrappers…) left to buy. I may JUST squeek in under the $100 mark. Yikes.  On the other hand, I’d like to make some room in the freezer, so I think next week’s menu will be based heavily on that.

Anyway… back to the bentos!   I made a delicious salad last night. Barley and Lentil from my “Beyond the Moon” cookbook. I had lentils cooked and ready to go in the freezer (and not everything fit when putting stuff in the new one!) so this came together in no time.

For my bento today, I paired it with some grape tomatoes and a green salad.  And a tiny slice of cake, which I also made last night. Nom!  I’ll post that recipe later.

I had a lot of fun with Project 365 in 2011, so I decided that I would like to do another food related challenge in 2012.  365 recipes was really just too many, so this year I am focusing on our budget.

The goal for 2012 is to spend $100 or less on groceries each week.  This is breakfast-lunch-dinner for me and the kidling and dinner-snacks for the hubby.

This first week, the budget is slightly skewed because the refrigerator and freezer are bulging from Project 365 leftovers. This week is leftovers and clean out the refrigerator/freezer week, but I still put together a delicious sounding menu.  I can’t seem to get out of the (new?) habit of looking through my cookbooks for recipes, so most of the planned dinners are from my 1001 More Low Fat Recipes book. This is a fantastic book, btw. I have four from this series and intend to add at least two more. What? I don’t have a problem… I just need more bookshelves.

I spent $60.81 for this week’s groceries.   This will not likely be the norm
I found juice boxes on clearance, so I stocked up. I only need two slices of bacon for this week’s menu, but the deli didn’t have bacon. I had to buy a full pound, but when I went to go get it, I discovered that one brand was on sale for buy one get one free! The second will go in the freezer and the extras will be served for breakfasts.

The grocery store didn’t have large pasta shells, so I substituted manicotti shells. I’m hoping this works okay with the recipe I have saved.

The small packages of chicken were wicked expensive and there wasn’t much to choose from. I found a HUGE package of chicken in the clearance bin for less than half the price of the small packages. The extras will be frozen in marinade.

My big splurge this week was prepared meatballs at $5.99 for one bag. Hubby and the kidling requested spaghetti and meatballs on the menu this week.  Normally this is something I make myself (when meat is on sale! And I sneak extra veggies into them too) and keep in the freezer.

Okay, enough babbling… Here’s the menu!  As usual, in no particular order.

Mon 2: Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Pesto

Tues 3: Chicken Fajitas

Wed 4: New England Clam Chowder, salad, crescent rolls

Thur 5: Chicken (leftover turkey in freezer) and Fettuccini Alfredo, salad

Fri 6: Spaghetti and Meatballs

Sat 7: Ham and Potato Casserole Au Gratin

Sun 8: CORN/Leftovers night

Lunches: cheese and crackers, salami, leftovers, boiled eggs, celery black pepper kinpira

{January 1, 2012}   And So It Ends…

Last night I made the final dish of Project 365.  It has been quite an adventure and I almost didn’t make it.  I had a bit of a crunch at the end… Now my refrigerator and freezer are overflowing!

My friend, Jennifer, asked me to do a blog on my thoughts about doing a project such as this, so here we are.

First of all, I could never have done this without the encouragement from my friends. Face Book and other social media (the blog, flickr) let me share the recipes and photos will all of you.  And since so many people knew about the project and asked me throughout the year how it was going (and what I was making!), it kept me on track. I couldn’t let my friends down, right?

It is weird now that the project is over. I should feel no anticipation or pressure to pick recipes out of  my cookbooks when making up our menus, but that feeling is still there. Only time will tell how long that will last. My huge collection of cookbooks are finally getting the love the deserve.

We discovered a lot of new favorites. I’ve already made the Zydeco Green Beans  twice and I only have a few jars left!  The kidling asks for the “lemon fish”; Lemon Herb Swordfish Steaks, which is wicked easy to make and can be made in advance. The Country Lentil Soup both freezes and dehydrates beautifully. I’ve made that one twice too. So good!

I learned how to make risotto this year, and did a lot of canning.  The bento cookbooks were heavily used and will continue to be used. I love the celery kinpira recipe! That was a pleasant surprise. I did NOT like the miso eggs, which was a not so pleasant surprise.

I’ve missed making homemade pizzas. (Pizza dough from Trader Joes)  There’s only so many real recipes for pizza in my books and I’ve made all of the ones I know the hubby will eat. I’m looking forward to putting our homemade pizzas back on the regular rotation.  Hubby likes ham, pineapple, red onion and olives on our pizza.

Most of the recipes were a success, but I also had a few disasters.  The Daikon Kimchee Cubes (and I like kimchee!) were inedible. The Cinnamon Rolls, from my Freezer Cooking book, was a huge mess!

One other negative thing about the project was that I feel like I spent too much money on food and wasted a lot of food last year.  Recipes “had” to be made to get 365 recipes for the year, so I made more food than we really needed. In 2012 we will be eating a lot more leftovers. In the next blog post I’ll talk about the new challenge.

I acquired MORE cookbooks this year, and I have a few new favorites.  What’s worse is that there are at least four or five more books that I will be adding to the collection. They will be ones I know I will use though.

All in all, it was fun. And I will continue to track what recipes I’ve tried.  Having a weekly menu with the recipe names and books listed was a huge help in both grocery shopping and deciding what is for dinner. I will continue to do this.

Thanks again, everyone, for the encouragement and being willing food testers! I look forward to feeding you all again in 2012.

et cetera