CHEESE & POTATO STUFFED PORK CHOPS

CHEESE & POTATO STUFFED PORK CHOPS serves 4
adapted from Bake At Midnite

4 center cut bone-in pork chops (about ¾-inch thick)
2 medium potatoes, sliced VERY thinly (See note)
4 green onions, sliced thin
½ cup shredded Fontina cheese
4 slices Gruyere cheese
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons melted butter, divided
4-6 sprigs FRESH thyme

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Lightly spray a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
  • Make a “pocket” in the chops to hold the filling.
  • Peel the potatoes if you wish.
  • Slice the potatoes ULTRA thin…so you can read through them.
  • Place potatoes in a medium bowl.
  • Add green onion pieces, the cheeses, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of the melted butter.
  • Stuff each chop with a quarter of the potato-cheese mixture.
  • Heat butter over medium-high heat.
  • Quickly sear each side of chops and then place them in prepared pan.
  • Brush with remaining melted butter.
  • Top with thyme sprigs.
  • Sprinkle lightly with additional salt and pepper.
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes.

NOTES: You may also substitute 2 cups frozen shredded potatoes that are thawed and dried of ALL moisture if you don’t want to bother with the thin slicing.

SLOW COOKER METHOD:

  • Proceed as above except place chops in a 5-7 Quart slow cooker. Try to angle the chops with the stuffed pocket angled upward.
  • Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hrs.

CREOLE PORK CHOPS

This is another “antique” recipe find. I loved the title, but it fails to actually deliver the flavor in today’s spice packed world of cooking. This was a good alternative for flavor in the early 20th century I’m sure, but bland by today’s standards! I have manipulated the recipe significantly to add MORE flavor.

GOOD LUCK MARGARINE was originally a Newfoundland company and through different mergers and acquisitions eventually became a Canadian company. There were several of these waxed cardboard recipes in the file I recently purchased, but this is the first I tried and had to change to add the necessary flavor.

CREOLE PORK CHOPS ala GOOD LUCK MARGARINE 😀 (sort of) serves 4

4 loin or shoulder chops, bone in
FRESH ground salt and pepper, to season
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup long grain rice
4 thick slices tomato
1 small onion halved, and sliced
4 rings green pepper OR equal amount of sliced mini peppers
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 – 8 ounces tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on preference)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 cups boiling salted water

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Generously sprinkle chops with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Dredge in flour.
  • Melt butter in skillet.
  • Add chops and sear on both sides.
  • Cook rice in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Do not drain.
  • Place pork chops in a single layer on the bottom of a deep casserole.
  • Place a slice of tomato and peppers on top of each chop.
  • Scatter onions over top.
  • Whisk tomato sauce with the cornstarch, basil, paprika, white pepper, cumin and cayenne, to taste.
  • Stir in garlic.
  • Replace the removed water with the tomato sauce mixture, stirring to blend.
  • Pour rice and tomato sauce water mixture over chops.
  • Cover and bake for one hour or until rice and chops are both tender.

CREAMY ROQUEFORT DRESSING

CREAMY ROQUEFORT DRESSING

I truly LOVE adapting old historical recipes to a modern day scratch versions. Many times I already have a version of the recipe in my own stash.  But, using the older recipe as a guide I can pick and choose ALL of the best  ingredients to make an even better recipe.

I “adjusted” the recipe to include actual amounts and specified ingredients as the recipe card is vague.  I left the ingredients with approximate amounts to account for personal tastes.  I highlighted my adaptations in blue so you can see the differences from the original recipe.

3/4 cup Duke’s Mayonnaise
scant 1/3 cup crumbled Roquefort cheese
1/3 + cup WHOLE milk
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon Garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon white pepper

  • Whisk mayonnaise, milk, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and garlic powder together.
  • Fold in crumbled cheese.
  • Chill.

NOTE:

  • Hubby loves the larger crumble of the cheese, while I prefer a smoother dressing. Adjust the instructions to use a small food processor if you too prefer the smooth version. 😀
  • Add additional milk as necessary for desired consistency.

PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH HOT POTATO SALAD aka GERMAN POTATO SALAD

I LOVE adapting old historical recipes to a modern day scratch cook. Many times I already have a version of the recipe in my own stash.  But, using the older recipe as a guide I can pick and choose ALL of the best  ingredients to make an even better recipe.

This hot potato salad is another from my antique recipe box purchase. It is a pre-printed recipe glued to a recipe card labeled “Good Old Pennsylvania Dutch Recipes” that I can only assume is Amish and originally from the Good Old Pennsylvania Dutch Cook Book.

I had to “adjust” the recipe to include actual amounts and specified ingredients as the recipe card is vague.  I left the ingredients with approximate amounts to account for personal tastes.  My grams referred to it as a German potato salad, though I think this is more Amish in nature.  I highlighted my adaptations in blue so you can see the differences from the original recipe.

PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH HOT POTATO SALAD aka GERMAN POTATO SALAD

1 pound small baby red potatoes
1 cup chicken stock
2-3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and sliced
4-6 slices bacon, diced
1/4-1/2 cup small chopped red onion
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste

  • In a large stock pot add potatoes with skins on, chicken stock and enough water to cover potatoes.
  • Cook until fork tender, drain, and cube while hot.
  • Fry bacon and onion until a delicate brown.
  • Add brown sugar and stir to dissolve.
  • Drain, reserving bacon fat.
  • Add onion and bacon to the potato mixture.
  • Add bacon fat slowly to beaten egg, beating well.
  • Add vinegar to the egg mixture and pour over potato mixture, gently to coat well.
  • Fold in sliced eggs.
  • Adjust seasoning.  This recipe really LOVES salt.

NOTE:  If you would like you can skip cubing the potatoes and do a rough chop leaving “LARGE” pieces instead.

JEAN PERRY’S ANTIQUE CORN BREAD

I LOVE finding OLD recipe boxes full of handwritten recipes in antique stores. I ESPECIALLY LOVE trying those same recipes in today’s world and finding a lost gem among them. This recipe is just that and was even signed by the baker 😀 I bought 3 boxes and each had a corn bread recipe in it!

This is the first one I’m trying. I did add some green chiles and a smattering of cheddar cheese for the way we like it as well as adjusted the instructions and ingredients to match the ingredients.  This was a HUGE hit and will be made many more times I’m sure.

JEAN PERRY’S ANTIQUE CORN BREAD
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 small can diced green chiles, DRAINED WELL
1/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese
2 slices bacon, diced, browned and drained

  • Preheat oven to 425˚.
  • Sift together the corn meal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
  • Whisk together the milk, butter and egg.
  • Add wet ingredients to the dry and blend JUST until combined.
  • Fold in green chiles.
  • Pour into pan.
  • Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.
  • Top with bacon pieces.
  • Bake 25 minutes.
  • Enjoy.

PORTUGUESE PIRI PIRI CHICKEN – marinades for 24 hours – plan ahead

I’d been making a version of this chicken for years – I never knew it had a name 😀 After trying this version I adapted it to a mix of Karina’s and my recipes that is now my preferred method!

PORTUGUESE PIRI PIRI CHICKEN adapted from Karina at CafeDelites

MARINADE
1/2 cup avocado oil
1/3 cup BBQ sauce** (see below)
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon onion powder
Juice of FRESH LARGE lemon
2-4 teaspoons PIRI PIRI sauce or sriracha
1 teaspoon creamy horseradish
2 teaspoons FRESH ground salt
FRESH Cracked black pepper , to taste

  • Mix all of the marinade ingredients (except for the Piri Piri or Sriracha) together until well combined.
  • Mix in 2 teaspoons of Piri-Piri or Sriracha. Taste test, and work up from there until reaching your desired level of heat.
  • Using 3/4 of the marinade, coat the chicken evenly on the outside, as well as under the skin where possible (the breast especially), until fully coated in sauce.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night if time allows, but no less than 2 hours. The longer you leave it, the better the flavor.

CHICKEN
3 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)
FRESH ground salt and pepper, to taste

  • When ready to cook, arrange oven shelf to the middle of the oven, and preheat to 400°.
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter top for 20 minutes to take the chill out of the chicken.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in an oven proof pan or well seasoned skillet over medium heat. When pan is hot, place the chicken, skin side down into the pan, and sear for a good 5-6 minutes, until the skin becomes golden browned. Flip and sear on the other side for 5 minutes more.
  • Add 1 more tablespoon of avocado oil to the remaining marinade, and pour half of it over the chicken. Use a basting brush to coat evenly.
  • Place the chicken in the preheated oven, and cook for 30 minutes, or until cooked through and juices run clear.
  • Once the chicken is done, baste with the pan drippings and serve with any remaining marinade to use as a dipping sauce.

NOTES**:

  • The BBQ sauce you use will make a HUGE difference in the flavor. I wouldn’t use an overly sweet one and prefer to make my own.
  • You can leave the sriracha out all together if you don’t want any heat at all.

BBQ SAUCE
2 cups ketchup
1 cup apple juice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
5 packed tablespoons light brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
2 teaspoons onion powder
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

  • In a large saucepan combine all the ingredients, stirring to blend.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for an hour, stirring frequently.

ROASTED ASPARAGUS in CAJUN HOLLANDAISE SAUCE

ROASTED ASPARAGUS in CAJUN HOLLANDAISE SAUCE – serves 4
1 1/2 pounds asparagus
2 1/2 tablespoons Avocado oil
1/4 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s or Slap Ya Mama Creole Seasoning
Pinch paprika, for garnish

  • Preheat oven to 450°.
  • Cover baking sheet in foil.
  • Snap off woody asparagus ends.
  • Arrange asparagus in a single layer on baking sheet.
  • Drizzle with avocado oil and seasoning, turning to coat.
  • Roast until asparagus is is tender and beginning to darken in color.
  • Top with sauce and serve immediately.

SAUCE
8 tablespoons salted butter
2 LARGE egg yolks
Juice of 1 small lemon
1/2 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s or Slap Ya Mama Creole Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon FRESH ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Frank’s original hot sauce

  • Melt butter in a small saucepan until sizzling.
  • Pulse egg yolks in a small food processor.
  • Add lemon juice.
  • VERY SLOWLY drizzle in the hot butter. Sauce will immediately begin to thicken.
  • Add the Cajun seasoning, pepper and hot sauce, blending JUST until combined.
  • Drizzle sauce over asparagus and serve immediately.

NOTE:  If sauce thickens too much, add 1 tablespoon hot water at a time until you reach desired consistency.

MIMOSA ROASTED CHICKEN with CHAMPAGNE GRAVY

The original recipe from Taste of Home called for a whole roasting chicken, but I’ve adapted it a more user friendly way of not only roasting, but also serving and eating. This chicken becomes a rich, buttery and juicy bite that is only complemented by each bite of fluffy mashed potatoes and fragrant champagne gravy.

MIMOSA ROASTED CHICKEN
2 medium navel oranges
4 large carrots, peeled and split lengthwise
2-3 leg and thigh quarter skin-on chickens
4 tablespoons butter, melted
FRESH ground pink Himalayan salt and black pepper, to taste
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Litehouse freeze dried basil
1 tablespoon Litehouse freeze dried red jalapeno, chopped small
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon FRESH thyme, finely chopped
2 cups pink moscato wine or Brut champagne
2 medium sweet Vidalia onions, cut into wedges
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup orange juice

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Arrange carrot pieces in a single layer on bottom of roaster to form your “rack”.
  • Cut one orange into slices.
  • Cut second orange into wedges.
  • Combine the melted butter, garlic, onion powder, thyme, basil and red jalapeno. Set side to allow the freeze dried herbs time to reconstitute.
  • Gently use your fingers to loosen the skin of the chicken.
  • Place orange slices under the skin.
  • Generously sprinkle the chicken with FRESH ground salt and pepper.
  • Rub melted butter mixture over skin of chicken pieces and place on top of carrots.
  • Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
  • Combine Moscato and orange juice. Toss with orange wedges,  onion wedges and potatoes. Pour into roaster around chicken.
  • Return to oven for 45 minutes more or until thermometer reads 175°.**(see note) Baste occasionally with pan juices. Cover and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

NOTE: **Cover loosely with foil if chicken is browning too quickly

GRAVY
Chicken Broth
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons Wondra flour

  • Pour pan juices and loosened browned bits into a measuring cut.
  • Skim off fat, reserving 1 tablespoon.
  • Add enough chicken broth to measure 1 cup.
  • In a small sauce pan melt butter and reserved 1 tablespoon fat.
  • Whisk in flour and until smooth and golden.
  • Gradually whisk in broth mixture.
  • Bring to a GENTLE boil, reduce heat and cook 2-3 minutes until thickened to desired consistency.
  • Serve immediately.

CINNAMON BUTTER MONKEY ROLLS

It just doesn’t get much better than that these mouth watering warm cinnamon sugar rolls that pull apart into soft and flaky layers after being smothered in a sweet vanilla glaze.  Because of my inability to eat sugar these days I skip the glaze, but they are just as good!

CINNAMON BUTTER MONKEY ROLLS            Servings: 12

12 Rhodes Frozen Dinner Rolls
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
6 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

VANILLA ICING (optional)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • Place frozen rolls in a 9×13-inch baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and allow to thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Grease muffin tin
  • In the morning, cut each roll into 3 pieces.
  • Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in a small bowl.
  • Melt butter in a second small bowl.
  • Roll each piece in butter and then in the cinnamon mixture.
  • Place 3 pieces in each muffin tin, making sure the edges all meet.
  • Cover with a cheesecloth and leave in warm place until double in size, about 2 hours depending on the warmth of your house.
  • When rolls have risen, remove cloth and bake in a preheated 350° oven for 15-16 minutes.
  • Carefully remove rolls from muffin tin as soon as they are finished baking.
  • Brush vanilla glaze over the warm rolls.
  • Serve warm.

FARM STYLE MEATLOAF

FARM STYLE MEATLOAF is a recipe I adapted from Kevin Penner’s 1770 House Meatloaf recipe after watching an episode of Ina Garten‘s Barefoot Contessa.  I debated on what to name this dish after my changes.  I flip flopped between Greenhouse and Farm style before finally landing on farm style.  All of the different meats and FRESH herbs and vegetables influenced my final decision for naming it Farm Style.  Honestly, I may yet rename it as I think more.

It is similar, yet completely different from my normal meatloaf recipe that I’ve been using for eons!  We instantly fell in love with the earthiness of this meatloaf and the savory herb sauce was perfect with mashed potatoes too!   Hubby normally loves ketchup or BBQ sauce with meatloaf, but with this flavorful sauce he bypassed it completely!

The key to this recipe is using QUALITY ingredients! Preferably grass fed meats and very FRESH organic ingredients.

FARM STYLE MEATLOAF
1/3 pound ground veal or lamb
1/3 pound ground pork
1/3 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon chopped, FRESH chives
1 teaspoon chopped, FRESH thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped, FRESH Italian parsley
1 LARGE egg
scant 1/2 cup finely ground Panko crumbs
scant 1/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Avocado oil
1 stalk of celery, finely diced
1 LARGE shallot, finely diced

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Place the veal, pork, beef, chives, thyme, parsley, eggs, Panko crumbs, milk, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  • Heat a medium saute pan over medium-high heat and film it with avocado oil.
  • Add the celery and shallot to the pan, stirring, until softened.
  • Remove the celery and shallot from the pan and let cool.
  • When the mixture is cool, add it to the mixing bowl with the other ingredients.
  • Using gloved hands, mix the ingredients until well combined and everything is evenly distributed.
  • Place a LARGE piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan.
  • Place the meat on the sheet pan and pat it and punch it down to remove any air pockets shaping the meat into a loaf about 6 inches long x 2 inches high.
  • Place the sheet pan in the oven and bake 40 to 50 minutes or until a meat cooked through (155-160°).
  • Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.

SAUCE
2/3 cup chicken or beef stock
1 tablespoon Marsala wine
3 cloves roasted garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon FRESH chopped chives
1/2 teaspoon FRESH chopped thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon FRESH chopped Italian parsley
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon cornstarch (optional)

  • Combine the broth, Marsala wine, roasted garlic and butter over medium-high heat and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly thickened.
  • Add the chopped thyme, chives and parsley.
  • Quickly whisk in the cornstarch if needed to thicken as necessary.
  • Slice the meatloaf into serving portions and spoon the hot sauce over the meatloaf and mashed potatoes.
  • Serve immediately.

NOTE: You can use a loaf pan if you prefer, but we like the firm crispy edges produced using this method.

HONEYED BOGS

So I woke up this morning and really wanted to bake even though I can’t personally eat any of it. 😀  I’ve been itching to try something out of my new cookbook from the Prohibition Bakery. All the recipes are boozy and sound absolutely delectable!  I love their slogan, please eat responsibly.

Unfortunately, I don’t have on hand all the ingredients to make any one of their recipes EXACTLY as written so right out of the gate I’m improvising. This recipe is going to be “loosely” based on their PINK LADY recipe on page 181 AND their CARAMEL APPLE recipe from page 277.  I wasn’t thrilled with their PINK LADY frosting so I’m using the basic frosting from their CARAMEL APPLE but replacing the applejack brandy with the honey brandy I’m using to make the fruit puree.

HONEYED BOGS – yields 18 cup cakes

CAKE
1 2/3 (208g) cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup yogurt (240g) (I used a black cherry)
1/3 cup (70g) avocado oil
1 cup (200g) sugar
1/4 cup (60g) lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 eggs

  • Preheat oven to 325°.
  • Line tins with liners
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • Combine the yogurt, avocado oil, sugar, lemon juice and zest with mixer until well incorporated.
  • Add eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition.
  • With mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing until JUST combined. DO NOT OVER BEAT.
  • Fill cup cake liners two-thirds full.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool COMPLETELY before filling or icing.

PUREE
12 ounces cranberries
3/4 cup sugar*see note
1 1/4 cup honey brandy

  • Combine fruit and brandy in a saucepan.
  • Bring to a SLOW boil over a medium heat.
  • Simmer 10-15 minutes until fruit breaks down and mixture starts to thicken.
  • Remove from heat and transfer to food processor, blending until smooth.
  • Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

NOTE:

  • *Cranberries are tarter than most fruits and require a bit of sugar to tame them.
  • Cranberries also require more time to break down the skins so a nice SLOW boil and simmer gives them this time.

FILLING
1 cup (230g) cranberry puree
1/4 cup honey brandy

  • Whisk the puree until smooth.
  • Slowly add in the brandy 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring thoroughly after each spoonful until desired consistency reached.
  • Transfer to a squeeze bottle.

ICING
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 pound powdered sugar
1/3 cup Honey Brandy

  • Cream butter until fluffy.
  • Slowly add the powdered sugar until JUST incorporated.
  • Slowly stream in the brandy until icing is smooth and fluffy.
  • Transfer to a piping bag.

ASSEMBLY

  • Core each cupcake with a pastry tip.
  • Fill the cavity with puree. DO NOT OVERFLOW.
  • Frost each cupcake.
  • Decorate to your liking.

DINNER HOME DELIVERY SERVICE versus DIY MEAL PLANNING & SHOPPING

For the past couple of years I have tried MANY of the more reliable and popular Dinner Home Delivery services out there – Blue Apron, Home Chef, Hello Fresh, Gobble… At first it seemed like a great idea while we were still working on A House From Hell.  I had an offer emailed from a friend for a nice discount to give Blue Apron a try…  Long story short the recipes started to repeat themselves, the selection of recipes dwindled to where I was skipping more weeks than I was ordering and the issues that required customer service became more and more while the service became slower and slower while also less accommodating.  I even encountered a customer service line that was outsourced to somewhere that English was not their first language and the communication barrier was unbelievable!

Well, all I can say after this last box is NO MORE!!! Gobble is the last one we tried and I was SORELY DISAPPOINTED!  There was a HUGE discount to give them a try and I STILL overpaid for what arrived.  NOT only were many of the ingredients NOT fresh, many were also pre-prepared and not well at that! The original goal was to save time and money while trying some new and innovative recipes, but since that is NOT the end result I’ve cancelled all the services and will be back to doing my own planning and shopping.

This seemed like a good time to re-run this section on how I menu plan and save money while doing it.

There is more to menu planning than just deciding what to make for dinner, at least for the average family. We’re a military family used to getting paid once a month and trying to make it last. So for me, menu planning also encompasses recipe scouring, coupon clipping (we love to read the Sunday papers and have coffee. One of the things I always go for first is the coupons to see what I can save for us – hubby always laughs when I get excited at a large coupon for something already on the list – LOL), sale ad reading and logical common sense planning. I do participate in Menu Plan Monday, but I actually prepare my menu for the entire month all at once and then just break it up for posting. A little organization goes a long way.

I start the last week of the previous month with checking out what I already have in the freezer inventory and then the ads for my local markets for the upcoming week. I see what meats will be going on sale and then scour my recipe file for recipes to match. One of the biggest things I do to help not only with cost of ingredients, but also waste is to make sure that I back recipes up to each other that use similar ingredients that I can buy in bulk.

For example if a recipe calls for half an onion for Monday night’s recipe, I make sure Tuesday night’s recipe uses the other half. I also know which meals we’ll probably have leftovers for so I plan to either freeze part of it for a future meal or plan a C.O.R.N. (clean out refrigerator night) within my plan if there is only going to be a little of this and that leftover. I write my list and then I match up the coupons for whatever staples (flour, sugar, eggs, butter, etc…) I need and then the luxuries if there is room within the budget. If there is a really good sale I buy in super bulk for the following month also. Now I know this sounds like a lot of work, but the whole process takes less than an hour and then it’s done for the month.

It seems I have every scrap of a recipe I have ever saved as well as many of my grandma’s too. It’s like an obsession with me. If a recipe sounds good in a magazine, I figure I can make it better based on my family’s likes and dislikes and tuck it away to try and manipulate at a later date. I recently decided it was time to clean-up this mess.

I found an old metal LP file box at a garage sale for 50 cents and dressed it up a bit so it didn’t look like a trash bin on my kitchen counter. (it was a beat up lime green with stickers everywhere). I have written 2 family reunion cook books in the past which helped some with eliminating the scraps of paper and I’m also in the midst of writing a Tastebook to use as family Christmas gifts that is helping to clean up this mess on a permanent basis.

I have a perpetual list on the counter and every time we use something or run out of something, everyone is trained (finally) to list whatever they used or ran out of on an ongoing basis.

We keep a pretty concise calendar with everyone’s activities, appointments, meetings and such on it. I also write what we will be eating on each day so they’ll know what to expect. If for some reason we have to cancel a night I will rearrange the week so that the meal actually canceled is one using something from the freezer, not the fresh ingredients I’ve already purchased. When I do the shopping I buy in bulk to cut the cost and since I have my menu planned ahead of time, I break down the bulk package into meal appropriate sizes before freezing when I get home.

I originally wrote this post years ago, but nothing has changed – I still do things exactly the same.

I start with LARGE bulk packs of meat.  I then break them down by size and meat right down to cutting certain recipes into bite sized pieces.  Then I wrap them in freezer paper because I really hate freezer burn!  And I package them into pre-labeled ziploc bags for the freezer.