Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Blueberry Pancakes and Homemade Hashbrowns

Happy Monday everyone!

Oh wait, it's not Monday.  Ok.....

Happy Tuesday everyone! 

I had yesterday off for MLK day and while it's great to have paid days off from work, it throws off the rest of the week as fas as knowing what day it is.  Tomorrow I'll probably think it's Friday.

I'd like to share a concoction I prepared for Husband on Sunday (at least I think it was Sunday....but I digress).  He was practically down on hands and knees begging me to make pancakes and I, being the dutiful wifey, acquiesced.  That, and I wanted pancakes too.  Shhh, don't tell him!

I adapted this from the plain jane pancake recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook:

1/2 cup all-purpose (white) flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or 1 cup of white if you're not into the whole wheat thing)

1 tablespoon sugar (or brown sugar)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash of cinnamon to taste

1 beaten egg

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons cooking oil - I use canola

1 tsp vanilla

Fresh or frozen blueberries - however many you want, but generally 1/2 - 3/4 cup

In a medium mixing bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and cinnamon. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture; set aside.  Tip:  use a wire whisk to stir together dry ingredients - it disperses everything evenly!
2. In another medium mixing bowl combine the egg, milk, cooking oil and vanilla. Add egg mixture all at once to the dry mixture. Stir just till moistened (batter should be lumpy).  Fold in blueberries.

3. For standard-size pancakes, pour about 1/4 cup batter onto a hot, lightly greased griddle or heavy skillet. For dollar-size pancakes, pour about 1 tablespoon batter onto a hot, lightly greased griddle or heavy skillet. Cook over medium heat about 2 minutes on each side or till pancakes are golden brown, turning to second sides when pancakes have bubbly surfaces and edges are slightly dry. Serve warm. Makes 8 to 10 standard-size (4-inch) or 36 dollar-size (2-inch) pancakes (8 servings).

4.  Serve to salivating, panting spouse with a self-righteous grin; drench in syrup.  The pancakes, not your spouse.....this isn't that kind of blog!

Once again I realized after we were done eating that I had forgotten to take pictures.  I swear I need to wear my camera around my neck.  Just imagine perfectly formed, perfectly browned pancakes chock full of bursting blueberries.  Not one was burned or oblong or wonky shaped.  Scouts Honor.  *whistles innocently*
Along with my *perfect* pancakes, I also served up homemade hashbrowns.  Husband says he prefers mine over what comes frozen in the bag at the store.  While I'm flattered that he does, I personally prefer the store bought.  I know, I know....I'm supposed to be on this "real food" kick where the less processed, the better.....but in my defense, why I like store bought better (particularly Mr. Dell's!) is because the potatoes are sliced thicker than what my grater at home can produce. 

*note to self:  search for a better way of grating potatoes!
Now, it might seem like a lot of extra work to grate your own potatoes, but it's really not.  Especially if you don't peel them!  Leave them peels on, people.  That's where a lot of the nutrients are, anyway.  Just scrub the potatoes in water to get any dirt off.....and done.

Figure 1 potato per person for serving size.  Russets/baking potatoes work best.

Grate into a strainer (like what you drain pasta in) using THAT side of your grater (and don't grate your knuckles off.....ask me how I know this):
Why into a strainer?  Read on.....
Because you need to rinse them in cold water, very thoroughly.  This will prevent the potatoes from turning an ugly reddish/brownish color as the air hits them. 
Once rinsed, shake them in the strainer to get the excess water off.
Heat a skillet with butter or cooking oil, enough to keep the potatoes from sticking to the pan.  Slap your still white potatoes in, sprinkle liberally with salt (and pepper if your spouse will let you....mine won't) and let them sizzle contentedly away until they start to look a little crispy around the edges.  Flip them over and let the other side sizzle a bit, to your preferred level of doneness.  Personally, I don't like hashbrowns that are uber-crispy, but do whatever you like.  As long as the potatoes look like they're cooked through, that's good enough.
Serve to your spouse/partner who is now so appreciative of your efforts in the kitchen that he volunteers to wash the dishes. 
No, I don't have a dishwasher.  Oh wait, yes I do.....his name is Steve.  :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Frugal Bookshelf

It's Friday!  What a long, strenuous week it's been here at work.....ok, fine.  I only worked three days this week because we had snow days on Monday and Tuesday.  Getting a snow day as an adult is just as giddy as it was in childhood!

I was going to take all sorts of pictures of the snow, of us scooping said snow, of our dog playing in the snow.......did I?  Uh, nope.  I was a lazy sloth (except when scooping, which we had to do 3 separate times!) and couldn't be bothered with something that exerted as much effort as prying my behind off the comfy couch.  So no pics for you! *said in my best Seinfeld Soup Nazi voice*   Awwwwww!

What does this have to do with a frugal bookshelf?  Not. One. Thing.  But I found that awesome .gif image to insert, so it was worth going off topic, right?

Anyway, Husband and I are avid readers.  One of our favorite things to do when out of town is to scout out the local and chain bookstores.  Yep, we're book nerds.  Not that there's anything wrong with that!  Sheesh, what is with the Seinfeld references today?

We also love haunting our local library.  But what does one do when one wants to OWN the book, but is trying to stay frugal?

Paperbackswap.com is what one does!

If you haven't already signed up for this site, you're missing out.  For the uninitiated, Paperbackswap.com is a place where you can post books you own that you no longer want.  If someone wants your book, you ship it to them (postage paid out of your own pocket) and that earns you a credit to "purchase" a book you want that someone else has posted. 

It's free to register, and is a great way to unload books you no longer want while getting the ones you do want.....and your only expense is however much it is to ship your book to the other person (which is going to be much cheaper than the cost of a new book).  It's a win-win situation all around! 

Husband has been 'swapping for years now, but I thought it time I had my own account instead of pilfering the credits he'd earned. *ahem....love ya honey!*    So, I signed up today.

They also have sister sites for CDs and DVDs!

So if you're a bibliophile like me, check it out!  It's a great way to manage your addiction collection without breaking the bank.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Fresh, Frugal Start In The Kitchen

With this new year comes the chance to start fresh with life.....of course one can always start fresh at any time of the year, but there's something symbolic about the calendar date reverting back to January 1 that makes one feel as if there's a blank slate to be filled with the right choices.

"Tomorrow is fresh, with no mistakes in it!"
--Anne of Green Gables

Gym memberships peak in January as people rush to get started on those New Year's Resolutions.  Diets get started.  Exercise equipment is purchased.  How many stick with it and see it through past February though?

You know you're guilty!  I am too.  But at least the intentions are good, right?

But one way I'm REALLY trying to start fresh with this year is frugality. 

I admit it, I've historically been a spendthrift, living outside of my means with no real conception of how to manage my finances.  I mean, I read about frugality all the time and visit multiple websites dealing with how to spend less.....but applying it to my life is another story altogether. 

This year I want to move beyond just abstract knowledge, to concrete doing.  Husband is much more frugal and self-disciplined than I so I know I won't have a problem with him being on board with this.....in fact he'll probably read this and breathe a sigh of relief that I'm finally seeing the light! 

My biggest offense on the frugality front is with food and wine.  I've written before how I'm trying to cook more from scratch for health reasons....but even that can get expensive!  And then there's the fact that many days, both my husband and I are too tired/stressed/annoyed/lazy to be bothered with trying to cook something and cleaning up afterwards, so we opt for take out.  This has got to stop, for obvious reasons.  The scale numbers are going up, while the contents of our bank account are going down.  D'oh, indeed.

Much of the problem lies with me just not being organized enough in the kitchen.  I want to work on cooking more in bulk and making my own "convenience" meals that I could whip out on days I don't want cooking to be a major production. 

What are your favorite ways to be frugal in the kitchen?  Have any tried and true tips, or simple meal planning ideas?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Give Away at The Curious Pug!

I love finding new sites that pertain to my interests....and as you know one thing I'm passionate about right now is learning to knit and all the other needlework arts.

What do I happen to stumble across today?  The Curious Pug blog, that's what!  Even better, Alycia, the blog owner, is hosting a give away of the La Petite Embroidery Kit from Sublime Stitching!

Check out The Curious Pug and enter this awesome give away!  Every good housewife needs to know how to embroider.  Because I said so.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

I hope all of you had a fantastic New Year's Eve and rang in the new year accordingly!  Husband and I spent yesterday shopping, ate supper at an awesome new Italian restaurant (it's about time we got one, a good Italian place is something this town has been sorely lacking!) and then came home to watch old movies the rest of the night.  Just the perfect way to end 2010 and welcome 2011. :)

One of my purchases yesterday included new yarn and my first set of circular needles for my next knitting project:  a doggie sweater!  Not only will it look so cute on our dog, but I'll be learning new techniques as well.  I have to admit I'm very a little intimidated by it, but I'm determined to master them.  

Today I started the new year off right by walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes.  I was doing so well last spring, so well that I lost 20 pounds, but got way off track and have now gained back a little over half of what I lost.  Time to get moving and eating right again!  At this time next year I will be at my target weight loss of 60 pounds, mark my words!  

What are some of your new years resolutions?