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I’m Louise. Blogger. Wife. Designer of TruLu Couture Veils + Accessories.  If you’d like to know more, check out my bio.

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Entries in Food (7)

Friday
Feb242012

{Kitchen Tutorial} It’s a Frugalista Friday!

So everyone wants to save money these days, right? I know I do.

Because I can, I’ve been cooking just about every single meal from breakfast to dinner at home. I make The Candyman his lunch to take to work. We rarely eat out – something that’s VERY different from when we first met. It saves us money. We go out on special occasions or if it’s a night where I simply cannot face the stove or The Candyman the potential dishes. This averages out to about once every 4-6 weeks for dinner, maybe once every 3-5 weeks for weekend brunch/lunch. 

Something that chaps my ass when it comes to cooking at home is when we don’t eat something fast enough and it goes bad. I’ve been challenged (I suppose this is a personal one) to make sure I use up all of what I buy. It totally depresses me to throw out food and honestly, it totally makes me think about the starving children in Biafra.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away nearly 31.6 million tons of food every year. And a recent University of Arizona study found that the average family tosses 1.28 pounds of food a day, for a total of 470 pounds a year! That's like throwing away $600!

Now, I don’t know about you, but if I can avoid tossing out $600, I’m going to at least try.

So in our house, it’s the veggies that tend to find their way into the trash can, squishy and rotten after a week in the frig. Sometimes the fruit goes, but we are almost always able to gobble it up in time. However, I think I’ve FINALLY figured out a way to make the most of our food-investment on the regular. It takes a bit of prepping, but I’ve found it’s totally worth it. It saves us money and time in the long run.

First, word on the internet-street is that you should store your fruits and veggies separately. This is true. There’s a reason why they have those drawers labeled as such in your frig. Some sort of gas builds up when you store them together, causing them to rot faster, so there’s your first step. Segregate your produce.

The internet powers-that-be also say that you should perforate plastic storage bags you keep your veggies in. They say you should store lots of things unwashed and in a single layer. OK, fine. I hear you. But who the hell has the time lay out all your blueberries in a SINGLE LAYER? I also find that if I perforate the bags, they may not rot as fast, but they still go soft. Celery and asparagus lose their crisp and who wants bendy celery? Gross.

So what’s the trick? Paper towels. Check out the tutorial below.

Here’s what my countertop looks like when I get home from the grocery:

The Thirty-Something Bride DIY 1

Items are semi-damp from those weird misting machines. I could shove it all in the frig and just deal with it as it comes about, but I get lazy during the week. I don’t feel like washing a head of lettuce to make a sandwich for The Candyman at 6am. I don’t feel like rinsing and snapping asparagus for dinner. If the prep work is already done,  I’m more inclined to just shove said asparagus under the broiler and be done with it.

Here’s what you need:

Fruits/Veggies

Paper towels

Salad Spinner

Strainers

Ziploc bags

Sharpie

It helps to have more than one strainer. When I do all this, I do it in bulk and have them all rinsing and straining at the same time.

The Thirty-Something Bride DIY 5

The collapsible over-the-sink strainer is the bomb diggity (red/white one on the bottom). I got mine at Bed, Bathy & Beyond.

You should also invest in a salad spinner. It speeds drying time along quite nicely and works wonders with things like lettuce, parley, cilantro – anything leafy that you want to dry.

The Thirty-Something Bride DIY 7

They cost about $30 and though you think you can live without, you totally can’t. THIS is a good registry item.

So get to rinsing and prepping. Chop the bottoms off your lettuces to get all the leaves separated. Rinse and spin. Do the same for your kale, cilantro, parsley…leafy stuff. Once it’s all semi-dry, lay out a good length of paper towels (maybe 3 sheets or so) and lay your roughage out on them.

The Thirty-Something Bride DIY 9

Next, start at one end and roll it up, like a sushi roll.

The Thirty-Something Bride DIY 10

The Thirty-Something Bride DIY 11

It’s a lettuce wrap!! Har-dee-har-har.

Sorry. That was bad.

So do this with everything. Wash and snap asparagus, rinse green onions and whack off the bottoms and wilty tops, rinse broccoli and chop off the gnarly stems. Whatever your veggie, this will work. Then put it in a Ziploc bag, squeeze out the air and seal. Write on the bag with a Sharpie so you know what’s in it.

I went through some stuff that was in my frig already. I came across 1o day old parsley. Instead of having the whole thing go bad, just this little part had.

The Thirty-Something Bride DIY 12

I pulled out the spoiled pieces, got some new paper towels and rolled it all back up again. I’ll be able to use the parsley for another week, at least. I keep it in the same labeled bag, just make sure that it’s still clean and dry. If it’s not, just wipe it out. I also wash and reuse the gallon sized plastic bags since they can be expensive. That may be a little too frugal-obsessive for some of you, but I’ve got the time to do it, so I do.

Fruits can be managed the same way. Rinse your berries and grapes and let them dry just a little. Also, if they came in one of those plastic clam shell things, rinse and dry that too. Line it with a paper towel and put the berries back in.

The Thirty-Something Bride DIY 14

The Thirty-Something Bride DIY 15

When it’s all said and done, my food is prepped and ready to cook/eat.

The Thirty-Something Bride DIY 17

OK, so maybe you work 12 hours a day and you don’t buy fresh produce. Let’s say you buy the bagged lettuce, bagged broccoli heads – stuff that’s pre-washed and ready to go. Ever notice how that stuff tends to rot overnight? The quick and dirty version if you go that route (no judgment, I used to when I was working the corporate life), once you open that bag? Simply shove a paper towel in and around the bottom of the bag.

The paper towel thing? It absorbs the moisture and keeps it fresher longer. It makes it easy to grab and go.

A few exceptions:

  • Carrots, mini or other wise: These take forever to go bad, so I don’t worry about them. At all.
  • Mushrooms: I do the paper towel thing with them for moisture control, but since you’re supposed to wipe mushrooms clean versus rinsing them, I bag/towel them after I’ve opened them.
  • Cabbage: It’s too dense to do this with.
  • I also use plastic storage containers versus plastic bags sometimes. I just line them with paper towels.

And one last Frugalista Tip? If your bananas start to go bad? If they are spotting and brown and you know they are too mushy to eat? Stick them in the freezer. Once you’ve accumulated 3 or 4, use them to make banana baked goods. The skins will turn black when you freeze them. THIS IS OK! Occasionally, the insides will turn a light brown when you thaw them. THIS IS OK! The only thing it will do is make your bread or muffins or whatever a little darker in color. It doesn’t affect the taste AT ALL. The consistency will be a little strange when you thaw them too, but THIS IS OK. The occasional person may ask you why you keep rotten bananas in your freezer, but I’m here to tell you they aren’t rotten, just waiting to become yummy muffins.

What’s one of YOUR Frugalista tips? Do tell!

Wednesday
Jul132011

Cupcakes: Quirky, Pretty and Butch!

I recently came across the cutest effing cupcake (I tried to write “fucking cupcake” but that just seemed a little extreme, even for this Potty Mouth) ever and it started me on this eye-candy search for all things cupcake and then I started finding all these incredibly quirky and fun cupcakes, so of course, I had to share them ALL. I mean, as a trend, I do believe cupcakes are here to stay. Agreed? Yeah. It’s pretty much anything goes these days: cupcakes, candy buffets, cookies, pies. If it’s sweet, consider it wedding-able as a traditional cake stand-in or as an extra sumpin’ sumpin’ - if you’ve got the budget! And why not have them just for the cake of it (sorry)? 

First the fun:

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Dr. Suess inspired! It’s cotton candy on top! Love. Via AppleDay.

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Chinese take out cupcakes! That broccoli looks way too real! Via Oh! Cupcakes!

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Minions! Made from Twinkies! I love it! Via Confessions of a Cookbook Queen.

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Spaghetti cupcake? Apparently so! Looks so real, eh? Via The Well Rounded Mama.

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Hamburger Cupcakes! Clever. Via Cutest Food.

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Push pop Peep-style mini cupcakes??? I kinda want these, like NOW. Via Shine.

image Naughty cupcakes! Via Flickr.

And now for the pretty:

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Wrapped with lace. So pretty. Via Cutest Food.

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Details, details. Via The Cupcake Studio, UK.

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Sometimes simple is all you need. Via For Goodness Cakes.

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Love. Via Cute Things.

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Holy cameo! Via Vintage Rose Brocante.

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How do we feel about fondant on cupcakes? I vote no on taste, yes on gorgeousness. Via Cute Things.

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Let’s eat art! Via Nevie Pie Cakes.

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Via French Knot.

And for the guys:

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Rock out with your….oh, you know the rest. Via Fluffy Cupcakes.

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For the golfer guy in your life! Via Flickr.

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Simple and cool. Via The Butch Bakery. This guy makes super-dude-style cupcakes.

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Dun dun dun dun DUN dun dun dun DUN dun dun dun dun DUN dun, dun dun dun DUNNNNNNN! Via The Star Wars Blog.

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Put the smack down old school WWF style: Hulk Hogan, George "The Animal" Steele, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Junkyard Dog, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and Macho Man Randy Savage. Via Flickr.

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For the fix-it dude. Via Flickr.

Writing this just made me hungry. You?

Wednesday
Dec082010

Food Trucks - Your Catering Alternative?

With wedding hindsight being 20/20, I question some of the trends that are out there and whether or not I coulda/shoulda/woulda. Some are easy. Bunting? No. I am not a bunting kinda girl, but I do think it's pretty. Photobooth - totally wish we'd had the cash for that. The list goes on and on. There's a wicked-cool trend out there now that gives me cause to pause: The Food Truck.

You know, the scary sorta mobile taco trucks you see in just about every city? They look good and smell good and you wonder, should I eat there? Is it safe? It certainly smells safe. In fact, they can smell down right divine, particularly if you're hungry. And who doesn't get hungry at at a wedding? I know I do. So are food trucks on your radar? I think there should be a few things to consider:

  • Are you doing it because it's cool and trendy or to save money? Check out the prices, you might not be saving as much as you thought.
  • Cool and trendy and cheap doesn't always equal "tastes good." Make sure you taste test and discuss all your food truck catering options.
  • Is it legit? Mobile food trucks get inspected too and need to post their scores based on your state's display laws. No one wants food poisoning.
  • Lines: waiting for your taco at 3am outside a club is a whole lot different than waiting for a taco at a wedding. Make sure the truck is properly staffed.
  • Zoning. Make sure your truck can park where you want it to park. Lots of new city ordinances are prohibiting mobile food trucks in certain areas.

Like all things regarding wedding and vendors, just make sure you do your homework. That being said, I think we should explore all that is fine and fabulous about food trucks. Tt's probably a good thing that I'm not in Nashville because a new truck has made it's presence known: The Grilled Cheeserie. I can just see myself driving and checking their tweets to see where the hell they were, just so I can get a grilled cheese sammy. Do not underestimate the power of a well made grilled cheese. The Candyman likes them so much, they were a part of his wedding poem to me.  It's true.

The Grilled Cheeserie

But fear not, there are PLENTY of food trucks in this nation to supply you with endless yummies. Don't believe me? Here, check it out.

Minneapolis and it's Smack Shack seving lobster rolls, shrimp sausage and more. Yum.

 

 LA has like, a bazillion food trucks. In the mood for Koren BBQ? Try the famous Kogi.

 

Need something sweet? How about Philadelphia's Buttercream Cupcake Truck?

 

Milwaukee's Street-Za dishes out slices of pizza topped with Wisconsin mozzarella and locally grown produce.

Turkey to Go, operated by the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. Apparently, they even make ice-cream sandwiches with turkey. After my peanut butter bacon cookies? Hell yeah, I'd try it.
In the mood for egg sammies? The Big Egg in Portland, Oregon.
And check this out....
Because there is no better marriage than pizza and wings, the Holy Matrimony food truck right here in my new town of Charlotte!
So maybe a catered food truck isn't your thing. That's OK. It wasn't mine. But you have to be honest, these seem like they might be a lot of fun to check out and try to find (ya gotta folllow on Twitter to find them). I mean, I'd eat at any of these places. But then again, I've eaten street food in mainland China and India - I've pretty much experienced every type of bodily food rejection there is. What's cool is that the majority of these trucks support local growers - and that is ALWAYS cool and trendy, if you ask me.
So I know Becca from A Los Angeles Love is doing her thing with a Taco Truck. Anyone else looking into mobile food resources as a means to a catered wedding? If so, what lead you to that decision? If not, is there a reason? And going back to that 20/20 vision post wedding, I might have looked into this as a wedding cake alternative - specifically if there was a mobile cup cake truck like the one in Philly! Did you have mobile catering? Any 20/20 hindsight tips and trick sot share? Do tell.
Tuesday
Dec072010

Something Old, Something New

So I mentioned yesterday that we had a dinner party this weekend. We did. It was a first for us - a dinner party with just The Candyman's friends, at least a few of them. The Candyman was as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs...and just as jumpy. Our guests were to arrive at 6pm. Since I'm familiar with the throwing of dinner parties, I know not to expect people until 6:15 or 6:30. It's just how people roll these days, like it or not.

So The Candyman is ready to grill. He's got marinating rib eyes and flank steaks. We'd loaded up on the BEST Charlotte discovery thus far, Charleston Seafood.  They don't have a website. They don't have much of anything except a one room building, some picnic tables and some big pots out back. Oh yeah, and fresh seafood! You call them up, or just stop on in, order yourself up a couple pounds of live crabs, fresh shrimp and fresh King Crab Legs (The Candyman thinks their Opilio - I think too much Deadliest Catch). You can take it as is, or they'll steam it for you out back for an extra $2. This place is less than 5 miles FROM. OUR. HOUSE.

This is what we had:

and

and then it looked like this:

Yeah, we killed it. And the boys ate meat. And we grilled some fresh winter veggies with garlic and olive oil and a little BACON. What? Bacon is good for you. So good in fact, that it leads me to best part of this post:

PEANUT BUTTER BACON COOKIES

Yes, you read correctly. I did so make them. And they were really, really, REALLY good. And because I think THE WORLD needs more peanut butter bacon cookies, I'm sharing it here, with you. It comes from Shutterbean. Really loving her blog. Go there for the pretty recipe pictures. Then you can come back and compare them to mine. They are NOT that far off and this was my first go 'round with the recipe. It doesn't help that I was baking  a pie at the same time. More on that in a sec.

(Recipe via Shutterbean via  JoytheBaker who adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)

  • 1 cup all-natural chunky or smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • about 6 slices of bacon, cooked, cooled and diced

In a skillet over medium high heat, fry up bacon until cooked through and let cool on paper towels until cool enough to dice. Dice up and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment & set aside. In a mixer combine peanut butter and sugars until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add egg and baking soda and mix for another 2 minutes. Fold in cooked bacon. Roll into large walnut sized balls and create a criss-cross pattern with a fork. If you’d like, roll the dough balls in granulated sugar before making the criss-cross pattern. Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on a baking sheet for five minutes, then transfer to… your mouth.

For the record, I did not have parchment paper, I just sprayed a cookie sheet with a bunch of Pam and it worked out fine. I also used un-natural peanut butter. And not even name brand un-natural peanut butter at that *gasp*! And did I mention they were good? And gone? This is my Something New. A new recipe for a new town and new people. Success!

And because I love you and want your friends and family to love you, I am going to share my Something Old recipe. This recipe came from the back of a bag of Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips a long time ago. It is sweet. Make sure you serve it with quality vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. I feel like I've made this pie 800 times if I've made it once. It never disappoints. Even if it doesn't cook right (sometimes it can be a little on the runny side if you don't mix it well enough), it still tastes superb. This pie didn't stand a chance Saturday night. Gone. Almost instantly. I had to fight my way in to my own dang pie! 

All the goodies about to be baked!

Golden chocolate yumminess.

Chocolate Pecan Pie
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, soft
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 9" pastry shell
Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the eggs and add in corn syrup, sugar, butter, vanilla and salt. Mix well. Fold in pecans and chocolate chips. Place your pie shell on a cookie sheet (the insides might bubble over) and pour in pie filling. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes. Let set 10-20 minutes before serving.

 

Seriously, people will want to be your friend just for this pie. So there's my Something Old. I introduced an oldie but a goodie to a few new friends in Charlotte. 

And no, this isn't becoming a decor/food blog, but you know, it is the damn holidays. What else do people do besides eat, decorate and shop? Exactly my point. Hope you have time to enjoy the recipes above. They really are quite tasty. Do you have a favorite? Then share it!

 

Thursday
Aug122010

White Trash Casserole

As y'all know, I held the 40th Birthday Brunch this past weekend. We had lots of yummy things to eat and my bathroom scale is still recovering.

I made what I lovingly refer to as my White Trash Casserole. It's easy-peasy-jap-o-neasy and I highly suggest it to anyone who wants a yummy breakfast/brunch dish to feed lots of people without a lot of work. Seriously, it's incredibly simple and REALLY good. Perhaps a nice dish to serve your future parents-in-law? I've had several requests for the recipe, so just decided to post here.

Here's what you need:

  • 1 GIANT tin foil roster pan, like the biggest you can find in the grocery store (18.5" x 14). I like the ones that come with handles for this dish. They are like $1.79. You don't need the kind with a lid. It can be rectangle or oval - doesn't matter.
  • 1 loaf of Wonder Brand Texas Toast style bread. You can use regular ol' white bread, but I like the fat slices better.
  • 12 eggs
  • 1/2 gallon milk (don't use skim, but 2% is fine)
  • 4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (meaning 2 bags of pre-grated stuff)
  • 1 package Lil' Smokies

Here's what you do:

 

1. Rinse out the pan and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Tear up the entire loaf of bread into big chunks and put it all in the roasting pan. Nothing about this process should be formal or symmetrical.

3. Crack all the eggs into a bowl and scramble really well. Even better to use a blender/mixer. Just REALLY mix it up!

4. Add all but 1" or so of the 1/2 gallon of milk into the bowl with the eggs and stir.

5. Pour the egg/milk mixture over the bread. Make sure all the bread is coated, but don't mash it down.

6. Dump in the two bags of grated cheese.

7. Chop the little smokies in half and throw into the pan (if you are feeling REALLY lazy, just dump them in).

8. Get a big spoon and mix it all up right in the roaster.

9. Cover with tin foil and stick in the fridge overnight.

10. In the a.m. preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

10. Pop it in the oven and bake for about 50-60 minutes. I've put it in at 450 for 45 minutes before to rush things along, but you'll get a crispier (spell check just told me that CRISPIER isn't a word. Um, WHAT?) top if you do that.

11. Let it set for about 5-10 minutes and serve it up. You can garnish with sour cream and/or salsa too.

If there are left-overs, good for you. Eat them the next day. Anything after that and it starts to get a rubbery kind of texture and isn't so great.

Otherwise, bon apetit y'all!