Friday, February 29, 2008

Cabbage Rolls

Sean's grandma Ahart made cabbage rolls every New Year's Day. I interviewed his grandpa for the recipe and did my best to simulate it here.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
Serves: 8
Cost: Approx. $4.00

1 pound ground beef or turkey ($1.87)
1/2 onion diced
3 Tbsp minced garlic
1 cup cooked rice
2 cans of stewed tomatoes ($1.50)
1/2 head of green cabbage ($.75)

Place cabbage in a pot of boiling water until outside leaves begin to fall off the head (about 10 minutes).

Brown ground beef with onion, garlic and salt/pepper to taste. Drain and mix in rice.

Peel off individual leaves. Place heaping spoonful of beef mixture on leaf and roll. Secure with a toothpick.

Empty stewed tomatoes in a large skillet. Place rolls in the skillet and cover. Cook on medium low for 30 minutes.

**If you like a little more sauce, just pour a jar of spagetti sauce over the cabbage rolls during the last 10 minutes of cooking. I often do.**

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Egg Rolls

A mom of a Korean student we know came and showed us how she makes her egg rolls. She called it her "American version" and we love it. To complete the meal I often buy takeout egg drop soup ($4.00) and a container of fried rice ($3.25). Even then this meal ends up being around $10.00.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 20 egg rolls
Cost: approx. $4.25

20 egg roll wrappers ($1.99)
1 pound ground beef or turkey ($1.87)
1/4 of a head of cabbage finely shredded ($.25)
1 carrot grated ($.25)
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp Hoison Sauce
2 Tbsp Peanut butter

Brown meat with garlic and drain. When cooled add cabbage, carrot, sauce and peanut butter. Stir well.

Spoon onto wrappers and fold. Seal edges with water.

Bake on greased cookie sheet or parchment paper at 400 for 15 minutes or until edges begin turning golden brown.

**These can be easily frozen after baking and then reheated in the microwave. They loose may loose their crunch, but they taste just as good.**

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Food Wars Continued

Earlier I posted about our family's philosophy on eating and obedience. I stated that we only had to go through this training once before each of our children "got it" and the benefits have been far greater than the training.

Well, let's just say that sometimes one has to win many battles before they can proclaim that the war is over.

This is baby John, round two, learning to eat the food provided by his daddy. Yes, Sean is attempting to give him a Butterfinger with a fork and the boy is trying to stand his ground. Of course, Dad won, but there may be a few more battles ahead.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Peach Cobbler

This is another one of my grandma's recipes and a comfort food for us growing up. Whenever mom would make it we could smell the cinnamon and peaches from a mile away. YUM!! It doesn't get much more frugal than this.

Prep Time: 5 minutes (if that)
Cook Time: 25-25 minutes
Serves: 8 generously
Cost: approx. $2.00

1/2 stick of butter ($.25)
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
dash of salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2-3/4 cup milk ($.25)
1 large can of peaches ($1.25)

Place the 1/2 of butter in a 9x13 baking dish in the oven at 350 until butter melts.

Mix flour, sugar, salt and milk to form the consistancy of pancake batter.

Pour batter in 9X13. Top with peaches and about 1/2 of peach juice from the can. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon.

Bake for 25-35 minutes or until cobbler turns light golden brown like this:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Homemade Pizza

What do you make when you're low on ingredients and would really love to order out? Pizza! Ours is ready in about the time that it would take to order and pick it up and saves us a bundle on cash and grease.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Ready in: 40 minutes
Serves: 8-10
Cost: approx. $7.00 (or less depending on toppings)

1 cup of warm water
1 package of active dry yeast ($.50)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 2/12- 3 cups flour ($.50)

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add all other ingredients. Stir 20 times to mix. Let rise 20 minutes.

8 oz can tomato sauce ($.50)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. Italian spice blend

Spread dough thinly on large cookie sheet. Top with sauce, 3 cups mozzarella cheese ($2.99), and additional toppings as desired. Our favorite is mushrooms ($1.00) and sausage ($1.50)

Bake at 450 on lowest rack for 15 minutes or until cheese has melted.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Food Wars

Fortunately, my children are not picky eaters. They have the usual aversions to strange spices and textures, but they will usually give them a try at least. Considering that I will not put a banana, citrus fruit or raisin in my mouth under any circumstances, I figure they've turned out pretty well. Their general good will toward food probably has something to do with Sean's admiration towards anything he eats. He is very complimentary with lots of "Oh, this is good..." and "Wow!" types of comments. I think this heightens the excitement of our meals.

Early on we were given some parenting advise that we decided that we would follow. Basically it goes something like this, "There are two areas in which children should submit to their parents until the parents are willing to hand over control. Those areas are clothing and food. Children should be able to trust their parents for both and be thankful for what they are given without complaint. When a child learn this, then they will be more secure and willing to obey on other issues."

I believe a little grace should be given according to circumstances of course. There are children with sensory issues in which certain clothing is not only uncomfortable, but a huge distraction or painful. (I am this way with turtle necks.) Likewise, some children are texture sensitive to food and gag on everything or refuse certain foods due to undetected illness or allergies.

I'm not talking about being legalist. "You will eat everything or else!" I'm talking about a child who learns to accept what they've been given and out of loving obedience do what they would rather not.

So to play it out practically this is how it goes around our table. The food war begins usually between 12-24 months when the baby is growing up and learning to use utensils. The stage when, about half of the food is in the tummy and the other half on the lap. Along with this independence also comes a little bit fussy eating. The favorite food gets eaten first and the rest winds up on the floor or played with.

So dad takes the utensil and begins to feed the child and the war begins. The head turns. The hand goes over the mouth. The lips are tightly sealed. Here we go.

We give a firm warning. "Say Ahh.. it's time to your mouth." No airplane games. No counting. The baby is taken to the crib, given a swat on the bottom, hugged and left in his room to cry it out.

After a few minutes the child is brought back to the table and the whole situation is replayed. We've been through this a few times and through the years so the kids have come up with a chant to encourage the little one to open his chop. It goes like this, "You can do it. You can do it. Go!!" Then they all open their mouths.

It becomes like a scene in Groundhog Day as the same thing happens over and over again. The little one is red faced and crying and we all just want it to be over.

Then, it finally happens. "You can do it. You can do it. Go!!" The child opens his mouth and takes a bite of the despised food and cheer errupt!! Usually this causes the little one to start laughing and crying at the same time. Dad continues to feed the kid until it is clear that the message has gotten through. The point isn't to eat every last morsel, but rather to accept what is given.

I know that this may seem cruel parenting to some, but for each of our kids we've only had to do it once. There are still foods that each one of the children don't like that they are required to try and eat. We usually have them eat as many bites as they are old or for the older ones we just give them a small portion on their plate.

Hopefully this will be one of the first steps in teaching them to trust and learn to enjoy what God provides.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

-Matthew 6:25-34

"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

- Mattew 7:9-11

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine's Bread

Sean (the bread maker in this house) made me this bread for our first year of marriage. It's become a valentine's tradition.

1/4 cup warm water
1 package Active Dry yeast
1/4 coup warm milk
1/2 cup butter softened
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-31/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs


4 Tablespoons of melted butter
1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
1/2-1 cup of powdered sugar
1/2 cup candied cherries chopped
1 cup slivered almonds

Place warm water in bowl. Sprinkle in yeast and stir until dissolved. Add milk, butter, sugar, salt and 1 cup flour. Mix well. Sit in eggs and enough flour to make soft dough. Knead until elastic- 4-6 minutes. Cover; let rise until doubled- about one hour.

Prepare filling. Mix melted butter, extract and enough powdered sugar to form a paste.

Punch dough down. Roll to 30x9 intch rectangle. Spread paste to the edges of dough. Sprinkle on almonds and cherries.

Roll dough into a jelly roll. Cut lengthwise. Turn the dough so that the cut sides are face up. Join the two pieces into a heart shape, pinch seams to seal.

Place on greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise 20-40 minutes until doubled in size.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes being sure not to overbake.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lettuce Wraps

Everyone always eats these up! We keep on hand some dipping sauces- sweet and sour, Thai peanut and sweet pepper sauce. When served this with Teriyaki vegetables and rice this meal still comes in under $10.00.

Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: 8-10
Cost: $7.50 and under
BU: 1

(I didn't have any water chestnuts
and probably should have added some sauce
for appearances. Oh well, next time I'll get a
better picture. It still tasted good.)

2 pounds lean ground beef or turkey ($3.75)
3 Tablespoons garlic
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 small can water chestnuts chopped ($.50)
Romain Lettuce Hearts (3 for $2.00)

Brown meat in sesame oil and garlic. Add soy sauce and brown sugar. Right before serving mix in water chestnuts. Serve on lettuce. (Picture to come)

This meat mixture can be frozen and then reheated when ready to serve.

Cilantro Soup

This soup is warm and spicy- perfect for a cold February day! To make it stretch farther add rotini pasta.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 8-10
Cost: approx. $5.00
BU: 0

2 chicken breasts cooked and cut into small pieces ($2.50)
4-6 cans of chicken broth ($2.00)
1 onion diced finely ($.50)
1Tablespoon butter
1 bunch of cilantro ($.50)
1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes/cayenne pepper
pasta (optional)

Saute onions in butter until translucent. Add chicken broth, diced chicken and red pepper (add more to taste). Add 6 sprigs of cilantro. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove sprigs. Chop remaining cilantro and add to soup at this time.

Tips: Next time you're grilling out chicken add a few extra pieces, dice and freeze. This soup tastes great with grilled chicken!

This is easily frozen (w/o pasta) and stored in large freezer bag. Just place directly from freezer into crockpot for slow cooking until dinner.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Life without Bread?

I just finished reading Life Without Bread. I know, it sounds like the basis for a horror movie. I mean,who doesn't like, need, want, crave bread?

I'm turning 36 in a few weeks and getting that much closer to 40 has got me thinking. Where do I want to be (in terms of health) 4 years from now? 7 years from now when Hannah graduates? 17 years from now when my baby leaves home? Whatever this may be, I need to start now.

Thankfully cancer and heart disease does not run thick in my veins, but diabetes and stroke run a muck. So I got on the American Diabetes website and took their diabetes risk test. The results were no surprise. Due to the fact that I have a parent with diabetes, have had four babies over 9 pounds and could stand to loose weight, I'm high risk.

Hence, the book. Life Without Bread provided tons of research about the effects of high amounts of carbohydrates on the many systems of the body. It was very technical and I ate it up (no pun intended).

Bottom line? The research has shown that 72 grams of carbs a day is the optimal for the body. It provides a steady amount of sugar to the body so that it does not need to overproduce insulin nor does the blood glucose level spike and drop dramatically. This cycle is harmful and is what makes carbs addictive, drives a person to overeat which results in extra weight. The extra poundage demands more carbs to feed it, then more insulin....until the insulin production stops and it all ends in diabetes.

Although the results provided in this book from those who followed the 72 gram restriction were pretty impressive, they happened over the span of months. But, the lifelong benefits continued.

There is no "diet" to follow. Rather the plan divides carbohydrates up into Bread Units (BUs). Each bread unit is equal to 12 grams of carbohydrates (easily found on any label). This means 6 BUs a day would be max. The author encourages up to 9 BUs a day for the elderly or those who suffer from autoimmune disorders. The book's appendix provided a pretty extensive list of foods and precalculated BUs. There was really no big shockers, just the sad realization that one Panera Cinnamon Crunch bagel is 5 BUs. Ugh.

It's restrictive, but not ridiculous. So, I'm going to be calculating these BUs into my recipes mostly to keep myself accountable for the amount of carbohydrates that I eat. No worries. There will be bread on our table, but not enough for seconds. I believe with this awareness and a little diligence on my part that diabetes will not be in my near future.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Taco Soup

This is about the easiest meal ever to make and everyone eats it up!!

Prep time: 1 minute
Cook time: 30 minutes
Serves: 8-10
Cost: approx $5.00

1 pound ground beef or turkey ($2.00)
Alaina's taco seasoning
1 can of corn drained or 1 cup frozen corn ($.50)
1 small can diced tomatoes ($.50)
1 large can tomato juice ($1.00)
1 bag of corn chips ($1.00)
shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
sour cream (optional)

Brown ground beef/turkey. Add seasoning. Mix in corn, tomatoes and tomato juice. Cook on medium until warmed through. Serve topped with corn chips, cheese and sour cream as desired.

*This is easily frozen and stored in a large freezer bag. Just place frozen soup in crock pot in the morning for dinner that night.*

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Organic Food Dilemma

There is no doubt that there has been a trend toward whole foods. This may mean something different to each person, but organic food is becoming more accessible and desirable. I mean, who wants to eat chemicals, antibiotics, corn syrup , or highly processed foods that destroy health?

It is frustrating, however, to have options and not the resources to provide them. Let's face it, organic food costs more. I've been in uncomfortable conversations where other moms are discussing the evils of grocery store food and would never dream of allowing anything processed into their children's mouths. Meanwhile, I sitting there having never even set foot into a Trader Joe's and with my Aldi's list in my purse.

Am I a bad mom? Maybe I'm not sacrificing enough if I don't own a share of a cow or I don't can my own organic pie filling. Maybe I am slowly poisoning my own family.

I used to feel guilty. Then I realized that although I can not purchase organic foods there is a lot I can do to promote health and provide my family with a healthy body to fight off any toxins they may be ingesting.

So here are our guidelines for healthy eating:

1. If possible make it from scratch
2. Use butter or canola oil
3. High fructose corn syrup should not be listed in the top 5 ingredients
4. Wash fruits and vegetables well
5. Replace oil with applesauce or bananas in baking
6. No MSG or Sodium Nitrate (found in lunch meats, hot dogs)
7. Buy antibiotic free meat when on sale
8 Don't snack out of a bag or box- choose fruits or veggies
9. Only whole grain bread with 2 g fiber or more per slice
10. Provide yogurt with live cultures
11. No trans fats

Do we do these things perfectly? Of course not. We still enjoy the occasional Little Debbie and hot dog picnic. But these are the rarity.

So we will be thankful and resourceful with what we have been given.

And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. -Acts 27:35