Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday's Tip

ok, so this doesn't count as a new tip - but, blogger finally decided to let me post pictures.  so, since i was a slacker and did not post yesterday (honestly, i didn't even realize it was tuesday til i crawled my way into bed - but more to come on all that later), i've opted to repost last week's tip with the missing pictures.  thanks for being merciful :)

loved, loved, loved the suggestions i got from everyone last week.  keep 'em coming.  i'm looking forward to writing about each... or discovering a tip to share.

today's tip builds on an exisiting, fabulous tip from sarah over at short stop.  and because it involves food and saves time and money, it's one of my favorites.

a while back, sarah posted a recipe for homemade beer bread.  it is a super easy recipe, based on the boxed bread mixes you can buy at specialty stores and from certain home-party food retailers.  when you buy pre-made bread mixes, you are paying for convenience as much as taste and name, and while i am a big fan of convenience, i am not always willing to pay the price.  caring for a family of six on one school teacher's salary doesn't allow for convenience with a price tag.  so, when sarah taught us all how to make homemade beer bread (skip the $8 a box cost and fancy packaging and skip right to mm mmm good), i was happy to try it.  

not surprisingly, it was delicious and fast and cheap.  seriously, the 6 ingredients required you will always have on hand, and although the recipe calls for beer, it is equally good with any type of soda (i've tried coke, ginger ale, and sprite).  i love being able to make bread from scratch for an every day meal.  

so, you may not be surprised that i decided to make it even easier.  i thought, "if a manufacturer can box these dry ingredients, why can't i?"

i lined up all FOUR dry ingredients,...

put them in a bowl,...

and then poured it in a ziploc bag.  tough, huh? then i repeated this process a few more times.

as a result, i now have four bags of beer bread mix in my pantry, ready for the next time i want fresh bread with dinner.

one little step i added was to sift the ingredients.  i did this, simply, by placing my small strainer / sifter inside the large ziploc bag and pouring the ingredients into the strainer and sifting it right inside the bag.

no mess, no hassle.  now it's really ready to go.

oh, and don't forget to write any extra steps / ingredients on the bag.  that will save you the step of finding the recipe when you're ready to throw it in the oven.

enjoy :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday's Tip

yes, i took last week off (wow - to those who noticed)...

although i do have a tip in mind for this week, i first have a request.  my creative well is running dry (although in an effort to streamline everything, my life sometimes looks like one big tip - and that is not necessarily a good thing), soooo... i am asking you for inspiration!

what is an area of life / home where you could use a tip?  yes, i realize i'm opening myself up for all sorts of mockery and jokes, but i know there are legitimate requests out there.  i'm not promising i have an answer, but i love doing the research to find the answers.  i'll keep a running list of your questions and try to work my way through them.  

and.... go!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tuesday's Tip

as promised, here is the recipe for the mashed potatoes to accompany last week's meatloaf.

my family loves mashed potatoes.  i like them.  but because i don't love them like chuck and the kids do, i just don't think to make them as often (besides, there is all that peeling and chopping... and instant does not fly in this house).  last week, however, i made mashed potatoes that made my family smile.

some also felt compelled to show me what they were enjoying so much.  (sorry for that...)

they love seeing this on the table...

and this on their plate...

and after they gobbled up their potatoes and emptied the serving bowl (no leftovers that night), i finally had to tell them.  

"i tried a new recipe for the mashed potatoes.  what did you think?" i asked.
"Great!" "we loved it!" "make them again!" is what i heard in return.  even chuck agreed.
"well, i'm glad you liked them... but i should tell you.  they weren't potatoes," i confessed.
 - silence - 
"those mashed potatoes were actually cauliflower."

they looked amazed and impressed and a little betrayed all at the same time.  but they gave me permission to fool them again.  

the idea to substitute cauliflower for mashed potatoes came from my mother.  she had heard it somewhere and tried it - and fooled my sister and father in the process.  so, i decided to give it a go.

here is how i did it...
it is surprisingly just like making mashed potatoes.  however, instead of cleaning and peeling and chopping potatoes, i just broke up a head of cauliflower.  then i boiled it until it was soft (like if you were to serve it as a vegetable.)

the only real difference from here on is that i prepared the mashed potatoes in the food processor instead of the mixer.  it makes the final product much smoother, thus hiding any tell-tale chunks of cauliflower.

i added the same ingredients that i typically add to my mashed potatoes, with a few exceptions.

i always add milk or cream as i go (instead of using a set amount).  same with butter.  
but i also added some parmesan cheese (for great flavor).  
and, per my mother's suggestion, i added 1 egg.
then, for the sake of texture, i also added a cup of instant mashed potato flakes.  now, i'm not sure that was necessary, but i didn't want to completely shock my family if the finished product didn't turn out as i expected.
and, although the picture does not say so, i added salt and pepper.

once the mashed potatoes were creamy and blended, i poured them in a casserole dish and topped them with shredded cheese and bacon bits (i usually finish my mashed potatoes this way when i don't have gravy to accompany them).  then, i placed them in the oven (350-ish) for about 20 minutes.  this helped them to "set up" and take on a more "mashed potato" consistency.  

well, it worked.  
even i, knowing full well what i was eating, thought it tasted remarkably like mashed potatoes.  
and it was a vegetable!

my husband was completely impressed, and the kids thought the whole thing was pretty funny.  we're looking forward to trying it again.  

as we were cleaning up dinner, patrick was finishing up and commented that he liked the bread (a store-bought, nothing special, loaf of bread).  
"thanks," i answered.  "it's cauliflower."

they'll never trust me again.