Thursday, August 25, 2011

New Projects!

It's time to tighten the belt and get serious about saving money and getting out of debt (past time, actually). I mentioned on my other blog that an absent husband can cost more money that one that is home, simply because it is easier for me to go out to eat rather than cook a bunch of food that I won't finish (another waste of money). He hasn't been flying much recently, so our savings is dwindling (we had hoped that it would be a short-term issue, but it is turning into a long-term one).... So, we need to buckle down and I need to come up with new ways to prepare food that don't cost me more money...

I received my inspiration from the September issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. In it, she outlines a month of dishes that use food that was prepared on one day, portioned into 1 c. portions, and frozen. Some of the stuff she made with the ingredients doesn't really fit well into my particular eating requirements (eggs were added, or it had some ingredients that I don't like, etc), but I was inspired. I took her idea and ran with it.

I have only just started my new project, but I plan to stock up over the next few weeks. My plan includes preparing/roasting pork, beef, and chicken, then shredding and freezing each into Ziploc bags. Then, I plan on freezing brown rice. Since I get organic fruits and veggies every other week, I should be OK in the produce department. If I run low, I can add some frozen veggies from the store, portioned out the same way as the meat and rice. One departure that I am making from the magazine (and from all the other research done online) is that I am using MY recipes for the roasts. Why make something that I don't like to eat? Then I run into the same problem as before...

So, last night, I started with the pork roast, mostly because Aaron wanted tacos. This recipe is more of a method than an actual recipe. Feel free to adjust quantities and seasonings to your liking. Also, I cooked it in the oven, but you could easily use a crock pot.

2 Boneless Pork Shoulder roasts - about 4-5 lbs each
2 Tbsp whole black peppercorn (approx)
1 Tbsp whole Coriander (approx)
2 Tbsp Sea Salt (approx)
2-4 Cloves of Garlic (approx)
1 white onion.
2 bottles of Dos Equis Amber beer

I bought 2 bone-less pork shoulder roasts (although, bone in is probably better for flavor. My grocery store didn't have any at the time). I cracked the black peppercorn and coriander and then added all of the seasonings to the dutch oven. I roughly chopped the onion and added that to the pot. Then, I added the two roasts and then the beer. I let it slow cook in the oven at 350 for about an hour and a half, then reduced the heat to about 300 for another 2-3 hours. The beer lends a great flavor to the meat as well as helping to tenderize it. If you don't care for beer, then you can substitute water or chicken/veggie broth. It's up to you. You can do this recipe in a crock pot (I usually do, but my insert broke and I haven't replaced it yet). If so, then it is best to cook everything on low for 8-10 hours. You can do it on high in 4-6, but the meat won't be as tender as the low and slow method.
The meat was so tender, that it fell apart while taking it out of the pot :)
Once the meat has cooled enough, shred and put into Ziploc freezer bags in 1 cup portions. Add a little of the cooking liquid and then get as much air out at possible. Freeze flat and don't forget to date the baggies. When you want to use the meat, just take it out of the freezer and put in the fridge to thaw in the morning. When you get home, it should all be thawed! (I say should, because I haven't actually completed this step yet). The pork can be used in tacos (my favorite), enchiladas, soups, pasta, casseroles, sandwiches, or as a side by itself. The possibilities are endless!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Late Updates and New Cleaning Tips!

So, I haven't been as consistent as I wanted to be when I started this blog... I guess that I got a little carried away, but I'm still glad I started it...It still gives me a place to chronicle my journey and reminds me how far I've come...

When I started this journey, I weighed 187 lbs... As of the date of my last physical (a few weeks ago), I have lost 7 lbs! Yay me! Still a lot to go (target weight is 130) but progress is progress! I am still plugging away with my food goals, especially focusing on the types of ingredients and the portion sizes that I am eating. I'm glad I don't own a scale so I can't get obsessed about daily weigh-ins...

My physical brought a new diagnosis to light - fibromyalgia... I haven't really started to do anything to address this issue yet, but I will be talking to an acupuncturist in the near future, hopefully to avoid the typical medical treatment plan of anti-depressants. Other than that, I'm relatively healthy :)

In my constant fight against my allergies, I've been trying out different home cleaning options. I especially wanted to replace my dusting spray with something that doesn't give me a headache. Oddly enough, my new dusting spray is strong tea with a little lemon juice added... Seriously! It is supposed to be really good for pollen. It seems to work well with the dog hair/dander too. I usually have an allergy/asthma attack anytime I try to dust anything in the house, but I don't have the same reaction when I use the tea spray. In fact, I haven't had an allergy attack at all! It works really well on my leather furniture too! My old furniture spray would leave an oily residue on the couch that would make it more difficult to sit on the couch. The tea spray doesn't leave a residue and doesn't make everything smell like tea. It is amazing! I can't say enough things about it.

To make the tea dusting spray - boil 3 cups of water. Add 2 bags of regular tea to the water and let it sit until it cools completely (leave the tea bags in the water the whole time). Add 1 tbsp. of lemon juice and pour into a spray bottle. Spray directly on to a paper towel or rag and dust away!

I've used this on my couches, my lamps, my end tables, and my washer/dryer! Recently, I caught up on all the laundry piled around the house, most of which was covered in dog hair... My washer/dryer combo was coated in dog hair and dust as I would move things in and out of the washer. The spray worked really well at attracting the dog hair and lint dust that was all over my laundry area... AWESOME! Can't say enough good things about it :) I'm still testing other areas of the house, but so far, I haven't encountered a hard surface it CAN'T tackle!