Buying Spices and Wedding Gifts

Because I prefer to cook from scratch, I go through a lot of spices. When I first moved out on my own and started buying all the basics I felt like I was spending a small fortune on spices. Anyway, the tiny jar for $$$ seemed kind of ridiculous, especially the everyday spices like cinnamon and sea salt.

Side note: My Grandma Deuink did buy me a house-warming gift of spices to get me started which was so nice! Thank you, Grandma.

Long story short, one day I was browsing in the ethnic food aisle at my local Publix and discovered Badia spices. Badia offers all the same spices that are in the Flour/Sugar/Spices aisle but for much less. And the jars are SO much bigger! They also sell nuts and baking products at great prices too.

Common Sense note #1: Buying spices at a drug store like CVS is very inexpensive as well. For some strange reason drug store brand spices are very cheap, but I am not always pleased with the quality and the selection is very small so I stick with Badia.

Common Sense note #2: Spices make great wedding gifts, especially for brides that have never lived on their own. It’s a big expense to stock a kitchen for the first time, and brides are always so appreciative when I give that as a gift. I usually combine it with a nice bottle of olive oil.

Badia Cinnamon
Badia Bay Leaves
Badia Red Pepper

Weeknight Pasta with Meat Sauce

I have been on the hunt for cheap yummy(at least semi-healthy) recipes to build up my repertoire for weeknight dinners. You know, since I am getting married and all.:) Anyway, I came across this recipe recently for slow cooker Bolognese sauce.

Usually I am not a huge slow cooker fan.

Slow cookers (aka Crock Pot) just seem a little too “becky home-ecky” to me.

Using a cast iron Le Creuset Dutch oven to make authentic pasta sauce seems so much more sophisticated (you know, like Ina Garten); but alas, I don’t have a Le Creuset Dutch oven and I am not as sophisticated as I would like to think I am.

I also picture myself much taller than I really am. Whenever I see myself in pictures I am always shocked at my short stature. But that’s another issue for another day.

And I certainly don’t have the luxury of having eight hours of time at home during the middle of the day to let it cook in the oven.

So I just whipped out my little slow cooker and cranked up the heat so it would cook while I was at work.

This sauce was really yummy. It’s definitely enough for two or three meals, unless of course you are feeding a small army.

And to make it a super quick meal, I actually made the rigatoni ahead of time. Drained off the water, tossed in a little parm, fresh frozen basil, olive oil and s/p. I stored the pasta in the frig overnight and then just let it come to room temp before dinner. Talk about easy!

Recipe courtesy of framedcooks.com

My notes are in green.

Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced (garlic powder would work too because that’s alot of garlic! Folks, get out the garlic press!)
  • 3 14 oz cans chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 2 15 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2 6 oz cans tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes

Directions

1. Cook beef in large skillet until browned.
2. Transfer to 5 quart slow cooker. Stir in all remaining ingredients, mix well.
3. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. (I cooked mine on high for 5 hours. Worked great.)
4. Serve over your favorite pasta. Happy sigh.
photo by bigheartdiary.tumblr.com
Update: This sauce freezes really well. 

Easy Honey Sesame Chicken

I have a great love of oriental food. Love it! Only second to my love of tex mex food. Anyway I came across this recipe for slow cooker Honey Sesame Chicken. It had Saturday night dinner “written all over it.”

You see, on Saturday night I usually fix dinner for my boyfriend and his boys. I love doing it. I actually look forward to it but that means cooking in two different kitchens(20 minutes apart) or toting the completed meal to his house every weekend. Certain recipes just don’t work for this kind of cooking; so when I find a great recipe that works with my cooking situation I jump on it.

Food Transportation=Laundry Basket

Anyway, I prepared this recipe up until the part where it cooks for 4 hours. I loaded up the rest of my meal, including a slow cooker and hit the road. All I can say is wow! So much flavor and so so so easy. Instead of rice, I made the asian noodles from this post and the salad from this post. For dessert, I whipped up some quick peanut butter brownies. The meal was a hit to be sure.

Asian noodles (made with whole wheat pasta)

Here is the recipe courtesy of foodiewithfamily.com

Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup of water

Serve with:

  • Hot cooked rice or noodles
  • Sesame seeds
  • Scallions, thinly sliced

Instructions

Very lightly season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and place them in the slow cooker.

Whisk the honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, canola and sesame oils, ginger, garlic and pepper flakes together in a mixing bowl and pour over the chicken thighs. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours, or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a rimmed plate or bowl and cover lightly with foil, leaving the pan juices in the slow cooker.

Stir the cornstarch into the water with a fork or small whisk until dissolved. Whisk the mixture into the pan juices in the slow cooker. Re-cover the slow-cooker and turn the heat to high. Let it cook and thicken for 15 minutes.

Carefully transfer the chicken back into the slow-cooker. Serve the pieces of chicken over the hot cooked rice, spoon the sauce over the chicken and garnish with sesame seeds and scallions.

Heat Wave and a Giveaway- Winner Announced

UPDATE: Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Winner Announced: Erin A. from Greenville, SC.

I will contact you via email to get your shipping address. Thanks for everyone who participated!

This crazy spring southern heat wave has me in the mood for ice cream. Check out these unique ice cream recipes from around the web.

photo by iambaker.com

Greek Yogurt Ice Cream from BonAppetit.com

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream from joythebaker.com

Secret Crazy Ingredient Ice Cream from iambaker.net

Strawberry-Orange Sorbet from deliciousshots.blogspot.com

photo by http://deliciousshots.blogspot.com/

Okay so here is the giveaway. Cuisinart ICE-21 Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker Yay! No more ice and kosher salt! And you can make the ice cream right on your kitchen counter!

To enter leave a comment with your favorite ice cream flavor and share the post on your facebook or twitter and/or leave a comment that you did. The winner will be annouced on Monday morning.

Heat Wave and a Giveaway

This crazy spring southern heat wave has me in the mood for ice cream. Check out these unique ice cream recipes from around the web.

photo by iambaker.com

Greek Yogurt Ice Cream from BonAppetit.com

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream from joythebaker.com

Secret Crazy Ingredient Ice Cream from iambaker.net

Strawberry-Orange Sorbet from deliciousshots.blogspot.com

photo by http://deliciousshots.blogspot.com/

Okay so here is the giveaway. Cuisinart ICE-21 Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker Yay! No more ice and kosher salt! And you can make the ice cream right on your kitchen counter!

To enter leave a comment with your favorite ice cream flavor and share the post on your facebook or twitter and/or leave a comment that you did. The winner will be annouced on Monday morning.