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Shelf-Cooking- Round 2

It’s the new year. We just returned last weekend from 2 weeks in Vermont. I hadn’t gone grocery shopping in a month and I just spent $100 at Publix and Costco on milk, eggs, fresh veggies, ricotta, and several pounds of BOGO chicken thighs and breasts. Our fridge, freezers, and pantry are once again stuffed. Not only do we have a ton of food, but we have several events scheduled between now and April including holiday party, a martini night in Cape Coral, Fort Myers Greekfest, concert tickets, a trip to Disney and a trip to Iceland. We need to save money and use things up so, I am beginning shelf-cooking round 2. If you don’t know what Shelf Cooking is, you can find out here.

I was doing really great using up all our odds and ends this summer. In fact, I was actually spending nearly nothing on groceries and gaining space back on pantry shelves and I could see the floor, but then we lost family member number 3 and school started. My focus on using everything up waned. It was also the holidays and I bought a little bit too much. To keep myself accountable, I will be posting meals and stats almost daily on social media along with more detailed posts here a few times a month.

Here is what we have to eat right now. I did take these pictures before I went shopping and now the fridge is jammed packed too. I am going to be creating recipes and using up what we have. My goal is to spend $300 total between now and April 1 at grocery stores. This will not included supplies for our Iceland trip. More on that will come in a future post.

One way I like to save money on food is packing lunches daily for Mr. Teacher and myself. I always try to cook for 4 even though it’s just the 2 of us. Extra food can be put into containers in the fridge or the freezer.  I also HATE wasting food! So if I only have a tiny bit left over or I made WAY too much of something that we won’t eat all of in a week, I put it in what I call a “safe” in the freezer. These are containers that I can pop a little meat, veg, and/ or whatever in from several different meals. When the container is full, then we have what I call an “emergency lunches”. I like to be prepared just in case I don’t have leftovers for us to eat.

Here are a few examples:

Here is a container that I started when I made WAY too much Smashed Turnips and Carrots. I added in some oven roasted squash and potatoes a few nights later. This week I cooked up all the chicken thighs that I got on BOGO so they wouldn’t take up a ton of room in the freezer and so I would have them for quick meals. I then shredded all the meat. I knew this needed some protein, so I tossed a half a cup of meat with some BBQ sauce. Voila! Emergency lunch complete! Now Mr, Teacher can take this work, pop it in the microwave, and have a tasty lunch.

 

I made too much red cabbage a few nights ago and I needed to use up half of a butternut squash. I also had half of a bratwurst. FYI-Butternut Squash Fries recipe coming soon. Presto! Emergency lunch!

 

 

Remember the Moroccan Chicken I made a few days ago? Well I made too much! Shocker I know! We both had it for dinner and then lunch and there was still some left. So again, it went into the freezer.

 

 

Finally, I had some leftover rice and a tempura mushroom from takeout. I had some leftover roasted asparagus. I added some of the above mentioned shredded chicken and tossed it with a packet of Thai Chili Sauce that magically appeared in my fridge. Waste not, want not!

So join me on my second round of self cooking and hopefully watch my food stash dwindle while I create some delicious dishes. Don’t be afraid to join me in the journey. Let’s get creative! Let’s save money! Let’s not waste food!

 

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Penchant for Penzeys

My love for spices knows no bounds. Spices make everything better. They bring a world full of cuisines to your kitchen. They allow you to take simple ingredients and transform them into something special with just a few sprinkles. That is why, I have a penchant for Penzeys Brand Spices. This wonderful spice company from Wauwatosa, WI has been a favorite of my family for as long as I can remember. As a child, my mom would order spices from their catalog. She always ordered new and interesting spices blends for us to try. With a cupboard full of fresh and delicious spices, our love of food and cooking began to grow.

When I moved away from home, mom sent me with a stock pile of Penzeys and now the I am sharing my love of this company with you. Not only are their spices fresh and flavorful, but the company is environmentally friendly. You can order refill spices in bags to fill up your glass jars. We don’t need more things in a landfill. They offer free spice packets with nearly every order so you can broaden your eating horizons. They send their spices with adorable pins and bumper stickers that I proudly display. They have free shipping deals almost weekly. If you’re close to a store location, the wonderful smells wafting through the air and beautiful presentation of the spices will keep you coming back for more.

Over the years, I started to try their different spice blends. They make creating dinner so easy. Simply cut up veggies, add protein, and a some of the spice blend, then cook. Voila’ dinner!  Some of my favorites include Florida Seasoned Pepper, Chili Powder, Curry Powder, English Prime Rib Rub, and Berbere Seasoning, but the list could go on for nearly forever. I haven’t met a spice blend from them I didn’t like. No, unfortunately, Penzeys is not a sponsor of this blog, although that is a goal someday. I am just a loyal fan who wants to share their amazing spices with you.

Just this weekend Mr. Teacher and I returned home from a 2 week trip to Vermont and I needed to make us a quick dinner. Once again Penzeys and their Berbere Seasoning came to the rescue.  I created a delicious Moroccan Spiced Chicken and Vegetables dish in a matter of minutes. Here is the link if you want to try it too. Moroccan Spiced Chicken and Vegetables 

I hope you give this recipe and this company a try. Cooking is love! And just like the bumper sticker that came with my Christmas present from Mr. Teacher’s Dad this year says, “Love people. Cook them tasty food.” In the mean time, I will be ordering some new spices with my Penzeys gift card and creating more tasty recipes for you.

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Easy Appetizers to Share on New Year’s Eve

Happy New Year! Well, almost. I don’t know about you, but my favorite way to ring in the New Year is to be home with friends and family, playing games and eating yummy food. Not only does it save money, but it’s more relaxed. Everyone brings a dish to share and because we want to have a good time, nothing is complicated and can be made in advance or very quickly.

Here are a few of my favorite easy appetizers to share on New Year’s Eve.

Crunchy Bacon Sticks

These crunchy, salty, bacony treats can be made in few minutes and then kept in the refrigerator until 30 minutes before you wanted to serve them. They only require 2 ingredients too.

Scallop Rosemary Lollipops

These look super fancy, but are deceptively simple to make. They are also delicious!

Onion Wraps

These easy treats have been on every celebration table since I can remember. They can be whipped up easily with 3 ingredients and can be made in advance.

I hope you have a safe and enjoyable New Year’s Eve no matter what your plans are this year. 

Happy New Year! 

2019

Do you have a favorite New Year’s Eve Tradition? Please share it in the comments below! 

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Fresh Whipped Cream- A Delicious Treat

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When I was growing up, my mom would always have a huge bowl homemade whipped cream with a little powdered sugar and lots of vanilla in the refrigerator during the holidays. It was supposed to go on the pies, but my dad would always sneak a heaping scoop of it for his coffee. I have adopted that tradition myself. The fresh cream is easy to whip up and makes everything during the holidays more special.

This simple whipped cream can easily be modified as well. It is way better than the stuff you can get in a can. Give it a try! Get the original recipe here. Freshly Whipped Cream

Fluffy for days! 

Do you need want the cream to stay whipped for a few days? Add in 1 teaspoon of unflavored gelatin dissolved into 2 to 3 teaspoons of warm water. Then mix it into the cream. It will stay fluffy for a few days in the fridge and can even be used for frosting on cakes.

Too much cream? Is that even possible?!?!

Did you make too much whipped cream? Dollop it onto a cookie sheet with waxed paper and pop it into the freezer. When it hardens, place the dollops into a freezer bag. When you want a little treat for hot chocolate or coffee, place the frozen dollop into your drink.

Twists on traditional whipped cream:

Swap our vanilla for almond extract or mint extract.

Instead of vanilla, add in a shot of bourbon. This is awesome on pecan pie.

Add a few tablespoons of maple syrup and skip on the vanilla and sugar. Try this on pumpkin pie, French toast, pancakes, or waffles.

Turn simple whipped cream into a complete dessert.

Add a few tablespoons of Nutella and serve with berries for a quick chocolate mousse.

Add a few tablespoons of lemon curd and serve with berries for a summer treat. This is great with angel food cake too.

 

 

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Easy & Cheesy Cheddar Cheese Ball

It’s that time of year when you’re hosting and attending myriads of holiday parties. If you’re like me you don’t have a ton of money or time, so this Easy & Cheesy Cheddar Cheese Ball is the perfect thing to whip up. Not only does it come together in about 10 minutes, but tastes great, and only uses 4  simple ingredients. I rolled mine in dried parsley, so it is a festive green color. If you have extra time and are felling extra jolly, make mini cheese balls with half of them rolled in paprika or chili powder and the other in the parsley. No matter what you put on the outside, I promise everyone will love this cheese ball!

Merry Christmas! 

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Four Fabulous Fall Flapjacks

I had to use flapjacks in the title because I’m a sucker for alliteration, sometimes I just can’t stop being a teacher. Anyway, these flapjacks or pancake, depending on what you like to call them, recipes are perfect for breakfast, brunch, or even dessert. Here they are!

  1. Pumpkin Pecan Pancakes will not disappoint. They are just the right amount of pumpkin with crunchy pecans and a hint of cinnamon.

2. Salted Caramel Oatmeal Pancakes with Caramel Drizzle are oatstanding! I would eat these for breakfast, but I would also serve them with some vanilla ice cream for a quick and impressive dessert.

3. Apple Cinnamon Pancakes with Cinnamon Syrup are fall on a plate!

4. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Drizzle make breakfast special. They could also be a fabulously easy dessert.

 

 

 

 

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Halloween Treats for Kids and Kids at Heart

Halloween is one of my favorite times of year. The weather is a little cooler, pumpkins and apples are everywhere, and you get to be creative thinking of fun things to dress up as or make. Even though I do not have kids of my own, I still like to get into the Halloween spirit. Mr. Teacher and I decorate our house, make Halloween themed food, pass out candy to the neighborhood kiddos, and come up with fun treats for my 4th grade class.


This year I wanted to come up with something for my class that wasn’t super spooky. Some of students are fearing Halloween,, but I didn’t want to not make them something a little special. I found these super cute Campfire Pumpkin Marshmallows at Publix, along with some Pumpkin Spice Cheerios, and Brach’s Autumn Mix Candy Corn. I decided to make treat bags for my class using these cute wax paper bags. I printed out address labels to seal the bags shut. These treat bags didn’t cost a lot or take a lot of time to make, but my students will love these when I pass them out on Wednesday. You could also make these super cute bags to give out before Thanksgiving!

 

 

Last weekend while shopping at Publix, I happened to walk past the cheese isle and discover these two Halloween themed cheeses. I instantly decided to purchase them to make a Halloween Harvest Cheese Board for us to much on while we passed out candy. I wandered around the store looking for inspiration. I thought we would need lots of garlic flavored items to keep the vampires away and the blood red beet chips would pop next to the Frankenstein cheese (It’s really a basil infused Gouda.). I knew I had other items at home I could use to round out the cheese board, so I went home to create my master piece.

Along with the items I had purchased from Publix, I added pumpkin seeds, sun-dried tomatoes, Siracha Spiced Emerald Cashews, Lindsey’s Natural Green Olives, baby carrots, dried cranberries, and sliced apples. Pepperoni or salami would have been great on here too! I highly recommend the basil Gouda on the Fire Roasted Triscut. The beet chips were also amazing dipped into spicy Arla Cream Cheese. The Transylvania Cave cheese was super yummy with the Garlic Triscuts and the apples. I think it turned out pretty cute! Of course you add in some plastic spiders and cobwebs or even googly eyes to make it more spooky. I also think you could use this same idea for a Thanksgiving Appetizer because this cheese board was very tasty. I just wouldn’t say it was Frankenstein Cheese.

Some other ideas you might want to check out for this week are Demon Eggs with Avocado & Beets and Halloween Cheesy Monster Eyeballs. 

 

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Perfect Panzanellas

I have recently discovered the deliciousness of a perfect panzanella salad. I guess you can still call it a salad. I like to think of the bread, like giant, fresh, crunchy, yet soft croutons.

What started this new obsession? Well it all began with a trip to Costco on a Sunday when the store was filled with delicious samples. Mr. Teacher and I were meandering through the isles, we when found ourselves near the bakery. The smell of fresh bread wafted through the air, and a sweet lady suddenly appeared with warm, fresh, chive and potato focaccia bread slathered with creamy butter. We took one bite, fell in love, and bought 2 loaves.

The Brummel and Brown was super good on this bread. It made me feel a tad less guilty for eating nearly the entire loaf.

We quickly devoured the majority of the bread with just butter, but I wanted to do something more with it. I wanted to make it more than just a snack.  So I began thinking about ways I could use the bread.

I had some pesto I had made from the plethora of basil that grew this summer. I had some veggies. I decided I would put it all together and my easy recipe for Warm Pesto Panzanella with Roasted Vegetables was born. We ate the majority of it that night with grilled pork chops and the little that was left made a tasty lunch for Mr. Teacher. 

I needed a lunch for us the following day and since the first panzanella I had made turned out so well, I decided to try my hand at another version. This time I used my Italian dressing mix from Penzeys, used fresh colorful vegetables, olives and cheese with some spicy pepperoni for Mr. Teacher. Voila! Pepperoni Panzenalla. 

I hope you enjoy these perfect panzanellas too.

 

 

 

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Peanut Butter Caramel Apple Pizza-The Perfect Fall Dessert

Pumpkin spice is nice, but when I think of fall I want caramel and more specifically caramel apples. This easy Peanut Butter Caramel Apple Pizza is the perfect fall dessert! It’s a crunchy peanut butter cookie that is spread with a peanut butter, cream cheese, and brown sugar frosting. Then it’s topped with fresh apples, drizzled with caramel sauce, and sprinkled with chopped peanuts. Is your mouthwatering? Get the easy recipe here Peanut Butter Caramel Apple Pizza

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Quick Chicken Tinga Tacos with Lime Creme

These Quick Chicken Tinga Tacos with Lime Creme are fresh and bold. They look and taste like they could be from a restaurant, but come together in a few minutes on your stove top for the perfect weeknight meal. I used frozen leftover chicken along with tomatoes and chipoltes that were already diced to make this super easy!

 

In addition, I got to open up my Fiesta Roja Red Cabbage Curtido from Sobremesa that I found at a Vermont Farmer’s Market. They shipped their perfectly pickled products to me in Florida and I’ve been so excited to use them.

Try these mouthwatering tacos today! Quick Chicken Tinga Tacos with Lime Creme

 

If you’re interested in ordering these amazing fermented products from Vermont. This is not an affiliate link. These are just natural, delicious products that I found and instantly fell in love with. You can follow the link here

Sobremesa Farm to Ferment 

 

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