As our week of expert tips continues, we wanted to step in with our own tips on the harried life of a woman who wants a home cooked meal on her table. Time-management and nutrition are areas in which many of us struggle. Being able to sit down to dinner grounds and connects us. But, the hassle involved often has us missing the point. Look for entertaining tips, decorating tips and skincare tips as the week continues (from more local experts!). But, as a former cafe owner, and mother of three, I feel THIS is my area of expertise.
*As a side note, if you actually know what I’m referring to when I say the Enjoili gal, you may get some giggles watching this video. It may also show you why we are all a little warped. Enjoili commercial (which was my FAVORITE, I wanted to be HER)
And, if you seriously have time in your day for another little aside from this post entry, how about some Jean Nate to go along with that?
Ok, smiles over. Time for the goods.
Food shopping and preparing tips:
1) I AM THAT MOM: The one that actually would go through McDonalds with my kids JUST TO GET MILK so I wouldn’t have to leave my car. Sometimes the thought of entering the grocery store is simply overwhelming. If you identify with me, this is where you need to shop once a week: Harris Teeter Belle Meade across from St. Thomas Hospital. Just opened, and oh-so-pretty, the best thing about this store (besides the phenomenal amount of organic foods and the recycling center) is the ONLINE SERVICE. Ever since Plumgood closed it’s doors, I’ve envisioned a plan that a local store could do, and Harris Teeter is pretty much that vision. With 4 hours or more notice, you can go online and order at least $25 worth of food and have it ready to go when you arrive. AND- you don’t even have to enter the store. You simply pull up you car, press a button, and nice grocery store dude puts the goods in your car. Better yet, you can even request things like “very ripe avocados” or “greenish bananas”. Winter will be here before you know it and sometimes it’s just too cold to grocery shop…and grocery stores are germy (sick people getting prescriptions filled) and this winter may be brutal on the flu front.
Save yourself time and agony (esp if you have small kids that sometimes accompany you.) It’s proven that you will spend less money: A) with a list and B) without kids. The nominal $4.95 charge will be saved by eliminating impulse purchases. Peartree Village Harris Teeter also offers this service. At both locations, your first time is FREE. I love free.
2) Whole Foods: Some things in this store are a true bargain. The family meal at $14.99, which includes a salad, is a deal. My favorite is the pork with rice and vegetables. I take it home and cut up the pork. Then, I fry the rice with olive oil and add scrambled eggs, English peas, zucchini, garlic powder and soy sauce. Voila: “home cooked” Chinese meal. I save 1/2 the unused vegetables for my lunch the next day, and the other half for the next day’s dinner. The salad can be split over two nights. Give yourself a healthy break every week and put one of these in your cart.
3) Breakfast for Dinner One Night a Week: This sounds so basic, but its true: everyone loves breakfast food and its cheap an easy. Pick your most harried night and have it be Breakfast for Dinner Night. Ours is Wednesday night. My kids love it; I love it; my husband loves it. It’s simple and guaranteed to be eaten with enthusiasm. You can change it up and have Huevos Rancheros or Breakfast Burritos or Eggs Benedict. But, with this tip, and the Whole Foods dinner, your grocery bill and sanity will be saved.
4) Frozen Turkey: My fourth and final tip truly comes from trying to multi-task in my cafe days of yore. You are going to think I’m CRAZY, but this really works! Purchase a frozen turkey breast. Remove the plastic and place it in a deep roasting pan (at least 4 inches with plenty of extra room). Add four cups of chicken broth and cover it tightly with aluminum foil. Do not thaw. I want it bowling ball hard. Place in oven at 190 degrees OVERNIGHT. I usually place mine in about 6:00 p.m. so that it can cook at least 12 hours. What you will find in the morning is not pretty. But, it smells and tastes SO GOOD! You will have turkey falling off the bone tender. Save all the juices for soup and you will not only get lunch meat for your kids and have enough meat for a dinner, but you will have plenty to make my yummy Turkey and Dumplings with Fresh Herbs. It’s fast and easy. So, yes, that’s killing THREE birds with one….errr….. bird? Hee hee. (one last thought: you may need to adjust your temp to 200 degrees. Just play with the idea and see what works best for you. It’s pretty darn easy, but you may want to try it the first time on a Friday night so you don’t need to rush out the door the next day if you still need a couple hours left to cook your turkey.)
Here is My Recipe for Turkey and Dumplings:
- Save all juices from your bird. Strain to remove all those fun extras. Taste to see if you need to dilute with water. You should have at least 6 cups of stock.
- Place stock in large pot and heat to a steady rolling boil.
- While waiting for the stock to boil, chop up (dice or chop, it’s really whatever YOU like) about 1/2 cup yellow onion or leeks and 1/2 cup celery.
- Saute onion and celery in olive oil for a few minutes until soft. Add to boiling broth.
- Chop up about 1 tbs of fresh Thyme, 1 tbs of Tarragon, and 1 tbs of Rosemary. If you want some sage, sure throw it in.
- As soup is boiling, tear up pieces of Pillsbury buttermilk biscuits (the kind in the cylinder, not the kind with those butter chunks in it.) Take each doughy biscuit and rip into 1/3’s or 1/4’s and simply throw them in and cover for a few minutes. They will cook in the stock and are soooooo good.
- Lastly, take some shredded turkey that you have cooked and mix it in and it is ready to serve!
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes I throw in some roasted garlic if I have some left over.