Simple advice for a better life.

I checked the calendar to see when The Great Lent begins, and it just sneaked up on me this year….as it started today for the Byzantine Rite Catholics, at least at the church that my family and I attend.

For Roman Catholics it does not start until Ash Wednesday, so they have two more days to party, even though they already indulged in all the good food last week on Fat Thursday.

During The Great Lent one needs to reflect on their spiritual life, their role in the society, as well as some food restrictions, such as excluding consumption of meat on Fridays,  and especially on Good Friday, as well as very strict fast on Holy Saturday.

I personally like to prepare meatless meals on Wednesdays and Fridays for the duration of the Great Lent, as well the whole Holy Week, which is the week before Easter Sunday.

It actually is healthy to give our system a break from all that meat we eat daily, and introduce some vegetarian or seafood dishes.

Last year I prepared a list of 25 meatless meals  (click here it view it) for your convenience, and linked them to my recipes, to help you out with meatless meal planning.

Today I will include additional ones, which I prepared this year, and you can add to your list.

Wow, now you have over 30 meatless meals, which is more than you need to cover at least Fridays, for the duration of lent. Actually you have a full month of meatless meals.  Who would have thought it could be so easy!

I will work on some new ones, if you still want to try something different, so please stay tuned.

 

Some of my friends observe Passover, so I am sharing few of the recipes I tried, and there will be  new ones coming up.

I would really love to hear from all of you, about the meatless dishes you enjoy to prepare. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Autumn is in a full swing in our area.  My vegetable garden and flower patches are becoming quite bare, many trees are dropping their leaves, as well as Mother Nature is rushing in with lower temperatures.

With Winter quickly approaching, we need to think of ways to stay comfortable in our homes, without breaking the bank to keep up with rising utility costs.

I will share some suggestions to help you cut your costs, and to winterize your “castle”.

You need to do all you can to stop drafts around doors and windows in your home.

It has been known that drafts can rub you off of  5-30% of the total energy you use to heat your home, and this could add up very quickly to a high energy bill, and still not comfortably heated home.

So stop the draft!

  1. Caulk around window frames.
  2. Install storm doors, and storm windows.
  3. Insulate with plastic sheeting.
  4. Replace furnace filter.
  5. Inspect furnace and tune it up.
  6. Properly seal vents.
  7. Insulate between floors, walls, basement ceiling, attic.  Don’t forget the crawl space, and the ceiling in the garage.
  8. Use draft snakes for doors and windows.
  9. Drain outdoor hoses, and outside water spigots.
  10. Vacuum under the fridge, and the back coils.
  11. Caulk and seal where pipes and cables enter the walls.
  12. Insulate  hot water heater and hot water pipes.
  13. Set your hot water heater to 120 F, rather than keeping it at the normal setting of 140 F.
  14. Replace your traditional light bulbs with the fluorescent ones, since they use less energy and last longer.
  15. Unplug your electric appliances not in use (coffee pot, toaster oven, microwave, computer), all of them still draw electricity while turned of, but plugged in.

 

  • You should check out my previous post about your appliances and their KWH energy usage:

http://suburbangrandma.com/saving-money/your-home-appliances-and-kwh-usage/

Are you surprised that some of your appliances are real energy vampires?

 

  • How about your computer?   Check out the link below, and learn more about saving money with this absolute necessity in your home:

http://suburbangrandma.com/culture/saving-money-on-energy-usage-by-your-computer/

 

  • Look at the windows in your home, and see if perhaps it is time for a change:

http://suburbangrandma.com/saving-money/save-energy-check-your-windows/

 

  • Laundry in a never-ending job in every household, read these tips and save money:

http://suburbangrandma.com/saving-money/cold-water-laundry-saving-money/

 

If you follow most of the tips above, you will be end up with lots of extra cash for holiday gift giving.

Please share any other tips you might have in regards to saving money on utility bills, and other fixed expenses.

Happy Savings!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My latest internet activity consists of being totally enveloped in Pinterest.  It is so easy to spend hours perusing through the myriad of pictures on that site, and always finding something new, and exciting.

Each package of won ton wraps contains at least 48 pieces of these paper thin wraps.  One package has enough wraps to make some Potstickers, plus some of these Lasagna cups, and still have some leftover for a possible dessert idea.

I tried storing these wraps the fridge for later use, but after a while they begin to change color to slightly grayish, and start to dry out.

I understand you can freeze them, but I rather used them up within a weeks time, and be done with it.

Today I will share a recipe for Lasagna in a Wonton cup, which I spotted on Pinterest, and pinned it on my board of Party Foods.

I modified the original recipe, to better fit my taste, since I was making these for my grandchildren.

This recipe yields 24 cups.

 

Ingredients:

  • 24 Wonton Wraps
  • 1 lb. ground beef, or turkey
  • 1 Tbs. of canola oil for frying meat
  • 1 cup of Ricotta cheese (or whipped Cottage Cheese, if you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, ground
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (I used Prego)
  • 1 tsp. oregano, dried
  • 1 tsp. basil, dried or freshly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Grease, or spray with cooking spray, the cups of 2 cupcake pans.
  2. Place one wonton wrap in each cup, gently pressing it down to fit to the  bottom of each cup. Set aside.
  3. Pour 1 Tbs. of oil into a medium frying pan, warm it up, and place the ground meat in it.
  4. Saute the meat at least 5 minutes, mixing it frequently, to break it up and to cook it so it is no longer pink.
  5. Scoop out any accumulated fat, and discard.
  6. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil and oregano, and cook 1 minute longer.
  7. Add the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, and tomato sauce, and cook another minute.
  8. Scoop 2 Tbs. of meat mixture into each wonton cup.
  9. Sprinkle some Mozzarella cheese over the top of each cup.
  10. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  11. Bake lasagna cups for 15 minutes, or until cheese melts and wraps are lightly golden.
  12. Remove and serve warm, or cool off completely and store covered in the fridge for later use.  You can also wrap them well, and freeze for a future quick dinner or an appetizer.

Enjoy your meal.

 

TIP:  If you prefer, you can saute fresh onions and garlic, and use fresh herbs.

 

I really like preparing chicken dishes.

If it wasn’t for the  traditional turkey for Thanksgiving,  I would be just as happy to roast a chicken for that meal as well.

Would you like to share your favorite recipe with Suburbangrandma’s audience?

Please email your recipe to me, and include a picture (if possible) of the finished product, as well as the name you would like to get credit under, so I can publish it on my blog.

I would appreciate that very much, and so would all of my readers.  Thank you.

Today I picked a whole bunch of nice ripe tomatoes from my garden, thus perfect timing for cooking up some Chicken Caccitore, Suburban style, in an electric skillet.

This recipe yields 6 servings.

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 chicken leg quarters (split into thighs and drumsticks)
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil (for frying)
  • 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth (0r 1 chicken bullion dissolved in 1 cup water)
  • 6-8 medium tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup  diced Green Chilies (1/2 of 4 oz can)
  • 2 tsp. dry oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

 Directions:

  1. Trim off excess fat from the chicken leg quarters, and split them in half, to form thighs and drumsticks.
  2. Heat the electric skillet to 350 degrees.
  3. Add 2 Tbs. of canola oil, or olive oil, if you prefer.
  4. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl, or a dish.
  5. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour mixture, until well coated.
  6. Place chicken in the warm skillet, and brown  for about 10 minutes on each side.
  7. Chop the onion and garlic.
  8. Remove the chicken from the skillet, and set aside.
  9. Add the onion and garlic, and saute until translucent (3-5 minutes).
  10. Add wine, and cook another 5 minutes, to reduce liquid to about half.
  11. Cut tomatoes into chunks, and add them to the skillet.   (If you prefer peeled tomatoes, blanch them in hot water for couple of minutes, then place them in ice-cold water for couple of minutes, then peel of the skin before cutting).
  12. Mix in oregano,  green chilies, chicken broth, tomato paste, and bay leaf.
  13. Bring to boil.
  14. Season with additional salt and pepper, to your taste.
  15. Add the chicken pieces.  Pour some of the sauce over them.
  16. Cover and simmer at 300 degrees, for 30 minutes.
  17. Reduce heat to 275 degrees, turn the chicken pieces over, and simmer covered, for another 15 minutes.
  18. Remove bay leaf.
  19. Serve over pasta, with at least 1/2 cup of the sauce poured over the chicken, spilling over into the pasta.
  20. Chop fresh Basil, and sprinkle over the chicken, just before serving.

Enjoy.

Paska 2012Easter is just around the corner, so all the necessary preparations for this Holy, and very traditional holiday, have to be planned well in advance, to be fully achieved in a timely fashion.

Ukrainians, and many other nationalities, enjoy many very rich traditions associated with Easter celebrations.

You can click on the links below, to learn more about the Ukrainian Easter Traditions.

This weekend was Paska Baking time for me and my daughter, as well as my 4 year old granddaughter, who not only loves to watch, she also was a very enthusiastic helper.  We are so blessed to have her in our family.

As a result of about 10 hours of Paska Baking time, we ended up with 9 round Paska loaves, as pictured above ( the small “roll” like loaf, was a left over dough from our decorations, so we decided to bake it for the youngest member of our family, who is only 10 months old).

We doubled our original recipe (in the link above), and implemented some changes to the second batch of dough, just to test the theory passed on to us by our friends.

In the second batch, we replaced 2 cups of regular flour, with 2 cups of CAKE flour, and used only 1/4 cup of melted butter plus 1/4 cup of Canola oil.  We also kneaded the dough for about 30 minutes in the bowl, and skipped the kneading on the floured board.

My oven seems to be baking better at lower temperatures, so I bake my paska for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F, and another 30 minutes at 325 degrees F, rather than the 15 @400, and 30 @350.

Paska - cross section

Here is a cross-cut section of our paska bread.  As you can see it turned out very light, and fluffy.

The paska with the cake flour was fluffier than the regular recipe, and the one with the mixture of butter and oil crumbled less, than the one with butter only.

Per baking tips from my mom, I always brush the tops of my baked, still slightly warm paska, with melted butter, to give them a nice finish, and to soften the crust.

Since I bake my paska at least a week before Easter, so to keep it nice a fresh, I freeze it until Easter Saturday.

Once the bread is totally cooled off, I wrap it in aluminum foil, place it in a freezer bag, and freeze it.  I also store it in a zip-lock bag after blessing of the basket, to keep it from drying out by Easter Sunday.

In my previous post about the different bakeware for baking paska, I promised that if I find more information about my favorite pans, will share it with you.

Paska baking containers

I stopped at a local Goodwill store, and to my surprise, I found several similar (brand new) pans, and bought them all @ one dollar each.

Most of them still do not have any manufacturing information on them, however one set was made by KOBE mixing bowls, designed exclusively for JC Penny, made in Indonesia.

Also, some of the flower designs of these bowls, resemble Corningware dinnerware, wouldn’t you agree?

If you still need to bake your Paska, now you have additional tips on the original recipe, and the paska bakeware.

Enjoy your Paska Baking experience.  Please share your pictures and tips.

HAPPY EASTER!

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KHRYSTOS VOSKRES – VOISTYNU VOSKRES !- (in Ukrainian)

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KHRYSTUS ZMARTVYCHVSTAL – PRAVDZIVIE ZMARTVYCHVSTAL! (in Polish)

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KRISTUS ER OPSTANDEN! -  JA HAN ER SANDELIG OPSTANDEN! (in Danish- shared by one of my readers)

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CHRIST IS RISEN – INDEED HE IS RISEN!

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