Tag Archives: food

Food safety guide for leftovers

I love leftovers!

When a restaurant portion is too big for me to finish in one sitting, you know I’m eyeballing it and figuring out how many more meals I can get out of it! Your big plate of too-much-pasta will serve as lunch at work tomorrow, and possibly dinner tomorrow night! Not only are you eating less per meal, you are stretching the value of your dining-out

Cooking in large batches and freezing it for future meals is also a great way of saving time and money.

All that said, I’m actually pretty squeamish about leftovers. Friends say I’m a germophobe, and maybe I am. But if it’s a personality flaw to not want e. coli in my system, then I’m as flawed as can be!

Paying attention to food safety  couldn’t be more important today! I’m very cautious about how long I keep leftovers around in the refrigerator. For dishes I’ve cooked myself, 4-5 days has always been the maximum refrigerator time. Restaurant leftovers, generally 2-3 days tops.

I just found a super resource from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). It shows the recommended guidelines for how long food can be safely kept in the refrigerator and freezer.

Food Safety Education: Cold Storage Chart

My personal guidelines came mostly from instinct, and are not too far off from the recommendations. I may adjust my leftover management schedule slightly. I am a germophobe, after all.

More food safety information

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Salvaging kitchen blunders

This past weekend, I whipped up three pans of cornbread for a cookout.

Somehow, instead of tripling the recipe, I guess I only doubled it. This resulted in three very hard, thin pans of cornbread. I couldn’t serve this dry crummy mess to humans.

Luckily, I had enough ingredients on hand to re-do it correctly. The second time was a charm, with three pans of big thick moist cornbread.

But what to do with the failed batch? It was really inedible, but I couldn’t bear throwing it away. How wasteful. At the very least, I figured  I could feed it to the birds and squirrels.

But wait. I did a quick google search for “hard stale cornbread recipes”… and eventually came up with a recipe for banana-caramel cornbread pudding. Score!

I made it tonight (omitting the bananas because I’m not a fan), and it is fabulous.

“Waste not, want not,” as my dear old mom used to say. It’s amazing what you can do with leftovers and outright blunders when you use a little ingenuity.

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The vague gourmet: Lentil-veggie burgers

I made the absolutely yummiest veggie burgers last night!

Of course I wanted to share the recipe– it’s a super-tasty, inexpensive, low-fat alternative to prepared veggie burgers. Unfortunately, I cook by the “little of this, little of that” method and lost track of the actual amounts. I tried to trace my steps as carefully as possible.

LENTIL-VEGGIE BURGERS

1 cup of granular TVP (textured vegetable protein)

1 cup dry red lentils, sorted and rinsed

2-3/4 cups of water

1 vegetable boullion cube

2 eggs, well-beaten

3/4 (?) cup of bread crumbs

onion powder

garlic powder

salt and pepper

1.  PREHEAT OVEN TO 375 degrees.

2.  Put TVP, lentils, boullion and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil on medium-high heat, then lower heat to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes until most of water is absorbed.

3.  Let TVP-lentil mixture cool to room temperature and place in a large mixing bowl. This will keep the eggs from starting to cook in step 4. (If you’re in a hurry,  dump the whole mess into a fine-mesh sieve. Run cold water over TVP-lentil mix and drain well before putting it in the mixing bowl. You’ll need to add extra seasoning in step 5).

4.   Stir beaten eggs into the TVP-lentil mix.

5.   Add seasonings, mix well.

6.   Mix in breadcrumbs. Start with 3/4 cup, and add more as needed. Shouldn’t need more than one cup. It should be a very moist and sticky mixture– not too dense, not too loose.

7.   Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Form about 10 good-sized burgers, about 3/4 of an inch thick and 3 inches across. Carefully place burgers on baking sheet as you form them. Spritz the top-sides of the burgesr with more cooking spray. The uncooked burgers will be pretty moist and gooey, but the burgers will firm up a bit while baking.

8.  Bake for 15-20 minutes. Turn them over, and bake for another 15-20 minutes. They’ll be nicely browned and crispy on the outside, but wonderfully moist on the inside. Makes about 10 generous-sized burgers.

Serve on a hamburger bun with all the fixings. Or you can serve them with the dipping condiments of your choice– ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, etc. Even with brown gravy and mashed potatoes, this can be salisbury-steak type dish!

Summary:

  • High-protein
  • High-fiber
  • Low-fat
  • Low-cost
  • Highly delicious

What more could you want?

OPTIONS:

  • For color and variety, throw in some finely-chopped vegetables, such as onions, peppers or mushrooms.
  • Any special seasonings or spices you like can be used. There are no real rules.
  • In step 2, stir in half a capful of Gravy Master for a darker, more authentic meat-like color.

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Bloggers Against Hunger: Reporting from Maine

Note: Today, I’m participating in Bloggers Against Hunger, a movement started by my good friend Lauren J.

I moved to the great State of Maine about two and a half years ago, and I won’t lie– it’s been a struggle. Starting over in a new place is rarely easy, and the scarce job prospects didn’t help. Going back to college last September was the best move I ever made– in the present, and for my future.

I’m certainly not going to starve any time soon– the medical profession calls my body type “famine-proof”.  I have learned to live on very little money. Still, I’ve had some moments in between bi-weekly paychecks where I didn’t even have a handful of change to buy a box of pasta.

A lot of people are by far worse off than I’ve ever been, but I understand the pain. I’m finally getting on my feet, and I look forward to being in a position where I can do more than just write a blog to support the cause of hunger.

To raise awareness of the problem of hunger in Maine, here are some statistics from the Good Shepherd Food Bank.

Maine Hunger Statistics

  • More than 40% of Maine kids under the age of 12 show some evidence of hunger
  • 19,375 Maine children are hungry.
  • An additional 64,087 children are at risk of hunger.
  • 10% of Maine households, representing 141,000 people, experience food insecurity.
  • Hunger and the risk of hunger are widespread among Maine’s low-income families with children.
  • The likelihood of experiencing hunger or the risk of hunger is directly related to income.
  • Children living in households which experienced hunger or the risk of hunger are more likely to experience health or school-related problems.
  • Adults are even more likely to experience hunger in low income homes. Adults in four out of five households surveyed indicated that they sacrificed for their children by eating less, skipping meals entirely, or by eating less nutritional food.
  • Several groups are found to be at greater risk of hunger in Maine; children, adults in low income families, disabled persons, persons with special needs, the elderly, those living in rural regions and the inner cities of Maine’s largest urban places.
  • One in three jobs in Maine does not pay enough to cover the basic needs of a family of three. Many others are seasonal, less than full time, or offer only partial benefits.
  • Several factors contribute to hunger in Maine; including income growth that is outpaced by cost of living; high level of underemployment; widening gap between rich and poor; illiteracy; and lack of consumer information on nutrition.

Here’s a heart-breaking series of articles on the subject: For I Was Hungry, an in-depth look at hunger in Maine

How to help:  Good Shepherd Food Bank

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Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

These are soooooo good!

OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
¼ cup vegetable shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup white sugar
1 large egg
3 tablespoons corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/3 cups rolled oats
2 cups (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup coconut flakes

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt.

In a large bowl, beat butter and shortening on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add brown sugar and sugar and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes

Add egg, corn syrup, and vanilla and beat at medium speed for 1-1/2 minutes

Stir in flour (a little at a time) until well-mixed.

Stir in oats, chocolate chips, and coconut.

Refrigerate dough for 10 minutes until firmed up.

PREHEAT OVEN 350 degrees

Place 1-tablespoon-sized balls of dough 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press down slightly to flatten dough ball on top.

Bake 11-14 minutes. They will seem undercooked, but they will harden up to perfection as they sit.

Makes about 5 dozen.

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Refresh your cookies

No, not the “cookies” on your computer… the cookies in your kitchen!

I baked some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies last week, and they were a little crunchier than I would have liked. My oven tends to run hot, so things often bake faster than recipes state. I always subtract a few minutes from the baking time, but occasionally don’t get it quite right.

Not a problem.

Whether you’ve made the same mistake as I did… or you don’t want to waste cookies that have gone hard…. here’s how to soften up cookies to perfection:

  1. Keep the cookies in a storage container that has a tightly-fitting lid.
  2. Place one slice of fresh bread on top of the cookies and seal the lid.
  3. Let it sit overnight.

In the morning, you will have one very dry piece of bread and some deliciously soft chewy cookies. The cookies will have absorbed all the moisture from the bread. (Discard the bread.)

Don’t let those cookies go to waste!

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