Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fresh from the Garden

Well, not my garden, because the last time Hubs and I tried to make a garden I killed every single thing. I don't know how, because I watered and fertilized and everything else I thought would make for a wonderful abundance of fresh veggies, but it was an epic failure. The tomatoes looked like knarly heirlooms (they were BetterBoy- a variety my Nana swears by) and were completely hard and inedible. I had no idea both the broccoli and lettuce were ready for harvest, so I let them get way overgrown, and thus inedible. Cabbage Loopers ate my brussel sprouts and beans. And that was that. Waste of a lot of time an effort and I got nothing.

BUT, yesterday I stopped by a friends house and was gifted with a bag of zucchini, sweet banana peppers, and green tomatoes. Her garden is magnificent. So big and healthy that you have to move giant branches around and hunt for the huge produce. I was amazed, and confused and jealous too. I gave my plants tons of space and tons of support in a fancy raised bed and got terrible results. Her garden is pretty natural- in the ground and growing all over itself and the ground, and absolutely thriving! Now I know.

Anyway, between her amazing veggies and the sandwich loaves I got from the super awesome Sunbeam Outlet (which you can read about here if you missed out), our dinner tonight was almost free! And miiiighty delish!

We had Zucchini Parmesan Subs.  Might not sound so great, but it was. Even my vegetable-hating, meat loving hubs liked them. Sorry the picture quality is absolutely terrible! It was taken to send to my friend as a thank you- but then I ate mine and realized it was wonderful enough to blog about!

So- recipe..sort of. I made it up as I went so it will be lacking in precise measurements. But it's the sort of thing that is up to your tastes anyway.

Cut three zucchini in nice sized strips and toss in a hot skillet with a little oil. You want them to be big enough to feel sort of meaty in the sandwich. I added two small banana peppers, seeded and diced, as well as a little garlic powder, onion powder, and a (very small) dash of cayenne. (Onion powder rocks, btw. I hate chopping onions) When the zucchini starts to get soft, add a tiny can of tomato paste (or pasta sauce if you happen to have a jar open) and some hot sauce. We use Texas Pete, because while I don't really like spicy food, I loooove the flavor it adds and the slight kick if you add just the right amount. You don't want the mixture to be super saucy, just coated well. When it's all coated and the zucchini are the texture you like, scoop a hefty amount into split mini loaves and top with shredded cheese. I used both chedder for sharpness and mozzarella for...because I like it. :)   Wrap them individually in foil and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. The foil wrapper keeps the bread from crisping up too much and makes for really great gooey hot sub. Yum Yum.

Don't cut your loaves all the way through- you want to fill them like a taco shell and keep them open side up to keep everything from falling out. It makes the whole process much easier. Don't cook the zucchini too long. You want them not quite crunchy, but if you over do it they turn to mush and you will have bread full of mush. No good.

Tomato paste is greatly under appreciated I think- I never use a whole can at once so I keep it in a baby food jar in the fridge and find myself tossing a spoonful into all kinds of things. The same with onion powder. Onions add wonderful flavor to almost everything, but chopping them sucks, and so does remembering to use them before they go bad. So- keep a jar of onion powder around for the times when you just don't feel like crying.

Enjoy loves- We sure did!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Thrift shops for Bread!?

I live in Hope Mills, a small offshoot of our main town (Fayetteville), and any time I need something from Lowes or Home Depot, which is usually a couple of times a week, I have to drive the 6 miles down Hope Mills Rd into the real city. I have been doing this for nearly a year now, and I finally decided to stop in some of the little shops I've been passing by for so long. Most of them were a bust. One little thrift store was actually closed down, though the open sigh still flashed invitingly in the window. Another was full of clothes and Diaper cakes??, which is not what I am interested in at all. The cutesy antique shops were full of new furniture at a "discounted price" which was not discounted at all.  But bread outlet- oh the bread outlet.

Do you raid the rack of half priced clearance bakery items at Walmart like a starving child? I do. My husband eats a bagel for breakfast every morning, takes three sub type sandwiches and two regular sandwiches to work every day, and has to have rolls/biscuits/breadsticks with his dinner- so we go through a LOT of bread. And bread is EXPENSIVE. This place, The Sunbeam Outet, recollects the bread expiring that day from the grocery stores and sells it for $1 or 2/$1. All kinds of bread- bagels, rolls, the fancy sliced kind, buns. Everything. They also sell all those little prepackaged snacks for super cheap, but since everything I eat sticks to me like glue since Lovebug was born and Hubs hates sugar, I have to skip that isle. In addition to everything being so cheap already, they give you a free loaf if you spend $5, a 10% discount if you have a military ID, and $5 worth of free bread every time you fill up your punch card-which fills up quickly!

I left that store with all this for only $7 and felt a little guilty as I skipped out the door.  That it two packs of Natures Own bagels, two packs of Cobblestone Mill loaves, two packs of dinner rolls, a huge pack of brown loaves, AND a loaf of Cobblestone Mill sourdough sliced bread. All of it technically expired that day, but who cares? It all seems as fresh as can be to me. And my deep freeze has no problem storing it all for me until we need it.  I cannot believe the money I have been wasting buying all of this at the grocery store for the past year when I could have been saving so much at the Outlet!

A bonus, if you have children who like to feed ducks, or farm animals that like to eat bread, they sell big bags of yesterdays bread for dirt cheap. I have an aunt that gets truck loads of what didn't sell for $1 to feed to the cows- I guess cows like bread.

The best part? These are all over the country. Now that I have been in one I remember seeing them everywhere I have ever lived. What a discovery! What wonderful things have you found hiding right under your nose?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'm baaaaaaaack!!

Hello again Friends- I'm back! Very sorry for the absence, but now I am here to stay, like it or not. :)

Recently I found, or rather, was shown by my wonderful friend who's daughter was born the very same day as mine, an amazing thing. Pinterest. If you have not yet been seduced by Pinterest, you should immediately go and take a look. And by immediately I mean just as soon as you are finished reading my wonderful ramblings. Check out my boards while you're there- I rather like them.

On a more creative note, I just finished an awesome project that I think you all just might love, and I didn't even steal it from Pinterest! I have always kept a mini dry erase board on my fridge for grocery lists, jotting down phone numbers, or whatever else I might need to remember. But- since we have remodeled the kitchen and it is looking oh so classy, my notes are looking kind of trashy (not that my house full of baby toys does not). I pondered glueing the board to the inside of the cabinet door- nope, painting the inside of the cabinet door with chalk board paint- nope (we'll be selling the house soon and the brand new cabinets need to stay brand new, plus I hate chalk), and then had an epiphany. Contact paper.

My first thought was painting chalk board paint over contact paper on the inside of the cabinet, but then I remembered that contact paper, as well as anything else non porous, works as a dry erase board. White would look sort of trashy too, but black. Perfect. So- check this out!

Plain Cabinet
 Awesome Cabinet!
Now I can have my great list-making note-jotting board, even better than I had before, and keep it out of site! Though this one is so cool that I almost want to leave the door open. I'm betting you're wondering where in the world I found such awesome bright colored markers that would write on black? Expo makes them for black erase boards and they are wonderful- though slightly expensive. I think I paid $7 for the set shown below. So worth it though.

So, go grab some contact paper and markers and make yourselves a board! I used the leather textured stuff from Home Depot because I was in too much of a hurry to find the smooth high gloss kind, but it worked just fine, and looks very nice. The markers only fully erase with a wet paper towel on the textured paper, but I have no problem with that since I thought I was going to have to use wet erase markers in the first place. The roll is huge, and if you wanted you could cover every cabinet in your house and probably still have some left over. The markers I got at Staples, though Walmart or Target may have them too. 

What awesome projects have you done lately?