Mangos can be a tricky fruit. Generally, when you buy them they are rock-hard, days away from ripe. You leave them on the counter, waiting for a juicy, delicious state to be achieved. You check them constantly, only to be rebuffed by tooth-cracking firmness. Suddenly, *poof* they’re far too soft to eat. Thwarted again!!!!
Or are you??
I’ve got your back, so those tricky mangos can no longer avoid being eaten. There are a couple things we can do with these sneaky fruits. Mangos can also be fickle with flavor, so usually anytime I cut one open, I try a tiny piece to see how it is. If they are too tart, or bland, the same rules apply as to over-ripe. The freezer is going to be our best buddy here, again.
So you have your (for a variety of reasons) “inedible” mango. This is generally only inedible raw; you can still use them in smoothies, pies, or fruit bars. Keep in mind, if it is straight-up rotten, chunk that thing. The freezer cannot un-rot fruit. It’s not a time machine. Don’t climb inside to try and go back to kill Hitler. You’ll just end up with a runny nose and broken dreams.
Peel your mango, cut into chunks, store in freezer. There! You’re done!
It’s important not to let food sit in your freezer too long: it can get that weird “freezer air” flavor after a while. Or, if you’re like my mother, it can thaw and re-freeze repeatedly during several power outages (she lives in a hurricane-prone area), get buried in the back of the deep freeze, and horrify your children when they visit.
You can also avoid going to the grocery store by eating what’s in your freezer. It’s a win-win! Cleaning out the freezer doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make soup (although you definitely can). This time I’m making smoothies. Am I making a paltry one-at-a-time? Of course not! This is smoothie mass production!
As you probably know, I hate getting anything dirty more than once, so I decided to make a ton of smoothies in my food processor all at once. My ingredients were bananas, strawberries, a little chocolate almond milk, a little chocolate syrup to enhance the chocolatiness, and (this may sound weird, but I promise it’s good) avocado. The avocado makes it super smooth and creamy, and you will probably not even taste it.
I am terrible about eating bananas before they get brownish. The solution? Peel them, and chuck them in the freezer. You can use them for baking or smoothies later. My issue is that I had, literally, a plethora of bananas in my freezer. I said I was terrible about eating them! That, plus my hoard of strawberries, was hogging too much space in my freezer. So I threw all that stuff into the food processor (in batches so it wouldn’t ooze everywhere), then ladled it into freezer bags.
I ended up with 4 bags, plus 2 smoothies for me and Hubby to drink (eat?)immediately. You can also store them in tupperware, which would be more eco-friendly (which I also didn’t really think about until later), but that would take a bit longer to thaw out.
Avocados are full of all those good fats that help your brain function, and are used in sweet dishes in lots of Asian countries. Just try it, at least once.
This is a great recipe for this time of year, when avocados are super cheap, and it can be waaaay too hot outside to eat real food.
As you probably know by now, some girlfriends and I are on a trivia team called the Cupcake Bitches. The name comes from and old inside joke. A couple weeks ago, I was crocheting while hanging out with Kornberg, and since she knows that I am fascinated with anything cupcake related, she told me about someone she knows who crocheted a cupcake. I wondered if I could make one, and her response was “She’s really dumb, so you can probably do it if she can”. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.
I have a ridiculous stash of yarn I’m attempting to work my way through, and there just so happened to be some pink and tan that were perfect for a cupcake. As regular readers know, the other basic craft supplies you’ll need are scissors, a crochet hook, trashy TV, vodka and Diet Coke. But that’s pretty basic; I don’t want to insult your intelligence.
Mushroom decided he was going to help by sitting on top of the ball of yarn, and trying to eat it when I pulled it out from under his bulk.
First things first, I crocheted the base. I made a flat circle first to be the base, then a long skinny strip to be the sides. I turned that piece on its side and sewed it shut, and sewed the side to the base. I did it this way because the crochet texture looks more the the ripples on the side of a cupcake paper. I used tan yarn, but you could use white, or some other color to look like those paper cup things.
Here’s the inside of the base. I left some long yarn ends in there for this:
I sewed a jar lid inside to the bottom to help keep the shape flat. My plan was to stuff this thing, and I knew the stuffing would make the bottom bow out if I didn’t have something rigid in place. I just punched holes in the bottom with a nail and hammer, threaded the yarn through, and tied it in knots.
I crocheted the cupcake top separately until I had a size and shape that I liked. Since I don’t know how to use a pattern, that means I ripped it out several times and started over. This process also requires lots of swearing. If friends and pets leave the room because you’re screaming too many profanities, you’re probably doing it right. At one point the stupid cupcake had what appeared to be a nipple on top, so I put a stop to that. This picture is me testing the cupcake top to make sure it fits properly, which is why there’s a crochet hook sticking out of it.
Once I decided the top was complete, I used some multicolor yarn I had laying around to sew tiny sprinkles on the outside. That multicolor yarn is ubiquitous. I swear it’s the result of the rest of my yarn breeding, because I have no recollection of purchasing it. But I finally found a use for a tiny bit of it! Once the top was sprinkle-fied to my satisfaction, I started sewing it to the base. This also took several attempts before I was happy with the results. And I was almost out of vodka by this point, so things were looking grim.
But you know that I rarely show my mistakes (unless they’re hilarious), so you know already that this post ends well. Here is the finished cupcake! I sewed it about half shut, and then put a bunch of stuffing inside (just basic polyfill). I shaped the polyfill for the top into a little dome so it would fill out the cupcake evenly. I also discovered that if you make the cupcake top a little too long, and then sew it tightly to the base, you get an adorable little ripple along the edge. Hooray for drunken crochet! So now the Cupcake Bitches have a new mascot, and I have proven I am at least the equal of a random dumb girl I don’t even know. Mission accomplished.
I found this recipe for oatmeal apple bars that I wanted to try, but I didn’t have any apples. I did, however, have tons of strawberries, so I used those instead. For one 8×8 pan you will need: 1 cup flour, 1 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp salt, 2 1/2 cups fruit, and the original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of butter, but I substituted a mashed banana for 1/4 cup, and they were great. Depending on the type of fruit you use, you can also cut back on the sugar. I was reading that for baked goods with acidic fruits, like strawberries, adding a 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda will help cut the tartness so you can use half as much sugar. I tried that trick with one batch of these, and they were okay. That might work better on pies, or other recipes that have a higher fruit content. I have made these using frozen, thawed strawberries, fresh strawberries, and now I’m trying home-canned pears (thanks, Mom!). Chop up your fruit, and mix everything together.
I can see a lot of variations possible with this basic recipe: mangoes, apples, peaches, raisins or other dried fruit. (With dried fruit, you should chop it up, then soak it in a bowl of water for a little while before mixing it into the batter). You can also add flavorings like cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, or even some fancy alcohol like cognac. You could even throw in nuts, or leftover trail mix. Get crazy! You can also make a double batch, but you should probably make a triple batch, so you have plenty to give me.
I’m sure you have all figured out by now that my “recipes” are just, in fact, conglomerations of whatever random crap I have in the house at the time. For this one, I used chicken, but it is very simple to make this vegetarian or vegan; the variations are at the bottom.
Today we’re using one chicken breast, about a half cup of frozen peas, a cup of frozen broccoli, one cup uncooked rice, two scrambled eggs, 1/4 cup chopped onion, and a bunch of teriyaki or soy sauce, whichever you like.
Start by cutting up the chicken really tiny, and sauteeing it in a large sauce pan. Get your rice cooking at the same time, according to the package instructions.
Chop what needs choppin’.
Throw the veggies in to cook with the chicken. You can add some teriyaki or soy sauce, and garlic salt at this point. You can use different vegetables, if you like, such as bell peppers (ew), water chestnuts (EW), or even just a bag of mixed frozen veggies. Once the veggies are almost done, throw in your raw scrambled eggs, and stir them around to cook. I throw teriyaki sauce on top of them while they’re cooking so they get some flavor.
Hey, the rice is done! It’s so fluffy and delicious! You can also use leftover rice for the recipe. If it’s a bit chewy, just throw it into the veggies, once they’re cooked, and add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Let it cook and stir it around to make sure all the rice gets coated in oil and heated up.
Once the rice and veggies are both ready, you can combine them in the pan, and stir everything together. Add your sauce and spices to taste.
To make this recipe vegetarian, leave out the chicken. You substitute tofu if you want, or add extra scrambled eggs. To make it vegan, leave out the chicken and eggs. I consulted my teriyaki sauce bottle, and it appears to be vegan. Everyone can enjoy my cooking; I’m just that amazing.
It’s happened to all of us (I presume): you either buy a brand new shampoo, and you hate it, or you get down to the last inch of shampoo that refuses to come out of the bottle. Now, I may be ridiculous when it comes to saving money, but I’m not one of those “Extreme Couponers” or “Hoarders”, so let’s keep this all in perspective. I paid for an entire bottle of shampoo, and, so help me, I am going to use that entire bottle of shampoo.
Everyone at some point thinks “Hey, this new brand looks like it will help solve all my problems!”, or “They’re out of my regular shampoo! I guess I’ll grab this”, or “It’s on clearance!! And there are EIGHT BOTTLES for a DOLLAR!!” (ahem; I’m sure everyone has done this, or else just me and my dad have). Inevtiably, the shampoo will be terrible. It leaves your hair flat, frizzy, or smelling like bacon, but not in a good way.
As I’m typing this, I’m really rationalizing to myself that everyone has these issues, and is concerned about them. Right? It’s not just me???
Anyway, neurosis aside, there are lots of uses for shampoo. If you have a whole bottle, you can use it instead of laundry detergent. 1/4 cup or less per load should work great. This is also helpful if you run out of laundry detergent, but can’t go to the store immediately for whatever reason. I know I can’t be the only one who has started a load of laundry late at night, or when visiting friends or family and put all my clothes into the washer and started it before checking to make sure there was detergent, and I am NOT going out in public in my Batman pajamas, because I will end up on People of Wal-Mart for sure.
You can also use shampoo to wash your pets. I like to that the shampoo bottles that are almost out, add some water, and shake it up. This makes it easier to get the shampoo spread over the wriggling, screeching pet so the bath can end more quickly. I like the way human shampoo smells better than the pet kind anyway.
You can actually use shampoo in the dishwasher also, if you run out of dish soap. Don’t try to use Dawn, because that will cause an epic bubble flood, but that is actually an easy way to mop the floor, if you’re prepared for it. If you’re not in the mood for epic bubble floods, use shampoo instead.
You can use it as body wash, to wash your car, or lots of other stuff. Shampoo is just soap, so if you have a brand you hate for some reason, just use it anywhere you would use liquid soap.
I think my goal when I write posts like this is to spread my fixation with getting my money’s worth out of everything I buy. That way I won’t seem like such a nutcase.
Mi Madre is a constant reader of my blog (one of the two I have), and when she and I were on the phone yesterday she told me something awesome. She said that when my sister and I were teens, she despaired of us ever cleaning a thing voluntarily. After reading the Deep Clean Week posts, she said it should reassure parents everywhere that kids do develop the ability to clean, and in fact I probably clean more thoroughly than she does. She really did say that! In fairness, she lives on a farm, and has greater concerns than sweeping the floor thoroughly. Our conversation ended yesterday when she had to go herd cows out of the vegetable garden. No joke.
Bottom line, I hope all you people enjoy my practicality as much as I do. If not, here’s a kitten for some entertainment value!
When the weather is this freakin’ cold, I want baked goods. Lots of them. Not only are they warm, delicious, and sweet, the oven heats up the whole kitchen, and I have a brief time when I can feel my toes again. Unfortunately, I do most of my baking from box mixes, but this apple crisp is so easy, even I can make it. It helps that I had purchased a bunch of apples that were disappointingly un-crunchy. I sure wasn’t going to eat them, but I hate being wasteful.
There’s all the stuff you need. Apples, cinnamon, brown sugar, white sugar, oatmeal, “butter” spread, and I used vanilla extract, but that’s optional. I used a tablespoon or so of cognac also, to try and use it up. I peeled and chopped the apples, and spread them in a 13×9 baking dish. I sprinkled cinnamon, sugar, vanilla and cognac on them, and tossed it all around a bit.
The topping is made of oatmeal, brown sugar, white sugar, and “butter” spread. I start with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the “butter”, and add a cup of oatmeal, then add sugar a little at a time until I get the consistencey of cookie dough, with enough to cover the top of the apples. You don’t need a thick coating. The way I did it here came out fine. The apples will cook down some, and you want to end up with a good balance of apples to topping when it’s done.
I baked it at 350 for about an hour. The topping gets all golden and carmelized and DELICIOUS!! Typing about my awesome recipes is really rough on me. I don’t have it sitting here in front of me to enjoy, and I can feel my tummy rumbling for some. I hope you all appreciate the lengths I go to to keep you happy!
You can kind of see that the whole thing is bubbly, and the sugar has carmelized.
I think I used jonagold apples for this, but granny smith, or a mixture would be good also. This is a great way to use up apples when they start to get to the point where you don’t just want to straight up eat them, or if, like me, you accidentally buy some that are crunchiness-challenged.
When I had people coming over for New Year’s I made some salsa that turned out completely fantastic. I thought I’d go ahead and grace you with the recipe (before I forget it). Somehow I had several pounds of tomatoes in the fridge, so this was a great way to use them up.
You will need: 7-8 tomatoes, 4 raw jalapenos, 1/4 onion, 2 cloves raw garlic, 1 can rotel (drained and whatever spiciness you can handle), 1 avocado, and some garlic salt. That was what I had on hand. You can add in some cilantro (pronounced see-LAHN-trow) if you’d like, but my store was out. You can also add lime juice to keep the colors bright but don’t go over board. It can drown everything else out.
First, I sliced the jalapenos open lengthwise, and removed ALL the seeds. The seeds are the part that make your mouth feel like demons are having a kegger on your toungue. I chopped them up in just a few large chunks, and put them skin-side down into a pan with a little bit of olive oil. I let those bad boys blacken and blister some while I chopped up the other stuff. FYI: this will make it hard to breath directly next to the pan roasting the peppers, but that will dissipate soon.
I peeled and coarsely chopped the garlic and threw it in with the jalapenos, and same with the onion. Once the skins of the jalapenos were a little black and blistery, I stirred everything around. I let everything get kind of soft and carmelized, then threw it into the food processor. I quartered all the tomatoes, and they joined the other stuff in the food processor. I actually had so many tomatoes I had to blend them in stages. I skinned and pitted the avocado, and threw it in also.
I processed everything until it reached a texture I liked. The chips we bought had zero salt on them, so to compensate I added some garlic salt to the salsa. It was super-amazing yum-o! We used it on breakfast tacos Saturday and Sunday also, and it was great. I love the slight smokey flavor from the charred jalapenos. If you’re really hardcore you can roast them on a stick over a fire, but I didn’t want to fumigate my whole house right before people were coming over. I guess it depends who’s coming over, whether or not you’d use this strategy, but I wanted our guests to stay.
I’m sure by now you are probably sick to death of all the turkey that is filling your fridge. You probably should have taken my advice and not made a turkey to begin with, but it’s too late now. Lucky for you, I have dozens of recipes to hide it in! Most of these are chicken recipes I blogged awhile ago, so I’m just going to link to them here, and tell you to substitute turkey for chicken. It’s the equivalent of a “back flash episode” on a sitcom, but there may be some new material showing up at the end. In fact, probably, so scroll on past the list of the recipes you loyal minions have already committed to memory, and the rest of you use this as motivation to read everything I’ve ever posted. Yes, they are all gems such as these:
1) Broccoli Cheese Casserole – just add some turkey for more protein, and let all the gratuitous cheese cover up that turkey flavor.
5) Turkey Soup
6) Turkey Salad
Oops, I think that’s everything. I have no idea what I was thinking of earlier when I said there might be new material down here at the end. Maybe I was hoping I would come up with something by now, but instead I made dinner. You can always make turkey sandwiches also. Um, turkey pizza? Yuck, no. Turkey pasta salad would probably be good. Phew! Ok, well The Office is on. The End!
*UPDATE* New Recipe!! I finally thought of one! Turkey and dumplings – the lazy way (my specialty):
Your basic ingredients are shredded, leftover turkey, chicken broth, and a can of biscuits. You can add celery, carrots, and onions to the broth if you want, but you should keep the amount small, and chop them up pretty fine.
The trick is to get your broth BOILING, then open your can of biscuits, and tear a couple into small pieces, and drop them into the broth. I usually only use about 2 biscuits for dumplings and bake the rest, but it depends on how large a batch you are making. They plump up, so keep that in mind when you are tearing your pieces. You don’t want the whole pot to turn into a giant glob of biscuit goo. I usually cook it for about a half hour, then pull out a dumpling to test for doneness. I KNEW I had another recipe!
Since you got a bonus post yesterday, which you undoubtedly utilized today for your Thanksgiving feast, and you’re probably about to slip into a carb-coma, (and I’m probably not far behind), and the frights of the holiday shopping season are not quite upon us all yet, I decided to write a little post. The end.
Just kidding! As I’m sitting here, Hubby is begging me to go make some chicken salad. Yes, MY Hubby that hates all poultry loves my chicken salad. It’s one of the recipes I like because it’s easy, and has laziness built in. I’m going to get it started, then come back and pass my wonderfulness onto you minions. I swear, you must be the luckiest minions ever to exist.
I start off with chicken breasts. I don’t get the boneless, skinless ones, because they cost way more. It only takes a minute to rip the skin off, and since we’re making shredded chicken, the bones don’t matter. I did a very early post about shredding chicken, and making soup, but I’ll just reiterate here. Since my only goal is to make chicken salad, this will be a bit simpler. Remove the skin from the chicken, put it in a pot of boiling water, cook until you can easily pull the meat off the bones with a fork, of course playing video games in the meantime. Once you can pull the meat from the bones easily, take the chicken out of the water and set it on a plate to cool. Play more video games.
Once the meat has cooled, I rip the big chunks off the bones, and use a knife to cut it into smaller pieces. I personally don’t like cubed chicken in my chicken salad, but whatever floats your boat. I do put cubed chicken into soups, because it’s less labor-intensive than shredding everything by hand. For this, I take the smaller cubes and shred them into a tupperware.
**At that second, I heard my pot boiling over and raced into the kitchen to prevent a mess. Obviously, I was way too late, and the water had put out the gas burner, plus coated the stove. I turned off the burner, and scooped out about 4 cups of chicken water. Let that be a lesson to you all not to over-fill the pot, especially if you plan to be 40 feet away from the stove while it’s cooking. This thing is called “My ATTEMPTS at Cleverness” for a reason, people.**
The other day, I was shredding a bunch of chicken at once, and decided not to make the chicken salad right then, but I didn’t want the shredded chicken to dry out. I stirred mayo and ranch dressing into it, and put it into the fridge that way, planning to add the other ingredients later. It worked out well, because the chicken soaked up a lot of the dressing, and was flavorful, and moist, even though it’s all breast meat.
Once you have your chicken shredded, chop up some celery and mix it in with the chicken, ranch and mayo. Ranch dressing gives this stuff more flavor than plain mayo. You can add some garlic salt and dill as well. The other thing I like to add is cooked frozen peas. They make it even tastier. I usually just eyeball the amounts on all of the ingredients, and taste it several times along the way. If you can, add the celery and peas at the last minute. This will help the celery stay crisp, and prevent the chicken salad from getting watery.
**Yep, just had to race into the kitchen again, swearing the whole way. You’d think taking about half the water out of the pot would help, but no. Now I have the lid off and the heat down some. I’ll be heading in there to read at the kitchen table in a minute so I can keep a closer eye on the death-chicken.**
This recipe is also a great way to use up leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. You can eat it by itself, in a sandwich, in lettuce wraps, or on top of a salad. While the chicken is boiling, I have one chicken breast in the oven for myself, and a butternut squash for dinner. If it weren’t for all my overflow issues just now, I would be one smug chick, with all this multitasking going on. The dryer is going, and I even gave the dog a bath today! I am awesome, other than the chicken water coating my stove, making the whole house smell like cat food a bit. And I was feeling so clever, too.
We buy bananas pretty regularly, and we never finish them before they start getting a bit past their prime. I’m not even much of a fan of bananas, but they are good for you, so I attempt to choke them down periodically. Once they start to get even the tiniest bit brown, I peel them and throw them in the freezer to use later.
The best way to use up frozen bananas is to make banana bread, but I’m not making it today, so we’ll have to save that for a later post. Usually, I use them up in smoothies. Any time I have any fruit that starts to get a bit soft, goes into my freezer, so I usually use a bunch at the same time in my smoothies. Today I have a super simple, delicious recipe.
You will need milk, bananas, and some form of chocolate powder or syrup. I have nesquik on hand, but hot cocoa works just as well. I used a few frozen bananas, and some fresh, about 6 total for two shakes.
Put the ingredients in the blender. Blend. Drink. Thank me profusely.
It tastes pretty much like bananas and chocolate, but this is an excellent way to satisfy a sweet tooth in a healthier way than eating a tub of ice cream, or an entire cake. You could add a little vanilla extract too, to give it an extra bit of flavor. I’ve also made these using chocolate protein powder, and they are very tasty. Now we can all watch our girlish figures together!