Monday, February 23, 2009

As Promised: Cook Once for 3 Meals

Before we dive into these recipes, let me just say there are pros and cons to cooking once for 3 meals. The apparant pro: cooking ONCE for THREE meals. The con: by night 3, I was OVER the roast beef. We don't eat a lot of red meat here, so if it had been chicken, I'm not sure I would have felt the same way. But, I would do this cooking once for three meals again, because it made me feel so creative and thrifty, nonetheless.

Another apparant pro: very cost effective. The 4lb roast I used, cost about $3/lb from Sam's Club. Not too shabby.

Night 1: Beef Roast with Shiitake Mushroom Sauce

3.5 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 (4lb) boneless beef rump or tip roast, trimmed of fat
1/4 c hoisin sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c water
2 Tbls cornstarch
2 Tbls sliced green onion

Place mushroom in 3.5 to 4-quart slow cooker; top with beef roast. Spread beef with hoisin sauce; sprinkle with garlic and salt.

Cover; cook on low setting for 8-10 hrs.

About 10 min before serving, remove beef from slow cooker; place on serving platter and cover to keep warm. In 4-cup glass measuring cup or med micro-safe bowl, blend water and cornstarch until smooth. Pour juices from slow cooker into cornstarch mixture; mix well. Micro on high for 2-3 min or until mixture boils and thickens slightly, stirring once halfway through cooking.

Cut roast in half; set one half aside (you're going to use the other half for the next two meals).

Cut remaining half into thin slices; place on serving plate. Reserve 1 1/2 c sauce. Spoon remaining sauce over the beef or just serve it with the meat. Sprinkle with onions.

Jenni's note: I would suggest definitely using Shiitakes over standard mushrooms. They really added to the flavor of the sauce. Also, I skipped the green onion. Even though I'm sure it adds great flavor. I can take or leave onion as a garnish. Third, it wasn't until noon that I remembered I was doing this crock pot meal, so I cooked my meat for 4hrs on high. Just be super careful however you cook it, because you only get one shot to make it awesome. Otherwise, you're stuck eating dry meat for the next three nights.

Oh, and I served mine with mashed potatoes, the mushroom sauce made an awesome gravy, and glazed carrots.

Prepping for Meals 2 and 3

Divide reserved roast into 2 portions. Slice each; cut slices into 2-inch strips. Divide strips evenly into 2 plastic storage containers. Add 1 cup sauce to 1 container (this one is for Beef and Asparagus over Noodles). Add 1/2 cup sauce to other container (this one is for Beef and Broccoli) and throw them in the fridge.

Night 2: Beef and Asparagus over Noodles

3 cups uncooked medium egg noodles
2 c cut (1 1/2in pieces) fresh asparagus spears
1/2 c water
Leftover Beef w/ Shiitake Sauce (the one w/ 1c of sauce)
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp pepper
8oz (about 1c) sour cream

Cook noodles as directed on the package. Drain.

In large skillet, combine asparagus and water. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to meium; cover and cook 3-4 min or until crisp-tender. Add beef/sauce, Worcestershire sauce and pepper; mix well. Cover; cook 3-4 minutes or until thoroughly heater.

Stir in sour cream. Cover; cook 3-4 min or until thoroughly heater, stirring frequently. Serve over noodles.

Jenni's note: If you're a strogganoff lover, you'll really like this. I loved that this recipe had fresh asparagus, because it made me feel like summer. To add another flavor layer, you could also top this with some paprika or parm cheese.

Night 3: Beef and Broccoli over Rice

2 c uncooked instant rice
2 1/4 c water
Leftover Beef/Sauce (the one with 1/2 c sauce)
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 tsp ginger
14oz pkg frozen broccoli florets

Cook rice in 2 cups of water, as directed on package.

In large skillet, combine beef/sauce, remaining 1/4 cup water, soy sauce and ginger; mix well. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in frozen broccoli. Cover; cook 5-6 min or until broccoli is tender, stirring once. Serve over rice.

Jenni's note: I always think it's worth it to use real ginger vs powdered ginger. But, I still cheat a little and use the fresh ginger in a tube (the brand I use is called Gourmet Garden).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Humility and 3 Ways to Cook a Beef Roast

The other day I went for a run. As I was running, I was listening to a podcast by Francis Chan about living a life of humility. Probably not the most get-up-and-get-moving listening choice, especially since half way through I was running and crying at the same time.

The gist of it was that humility is not about YOU being humble (quiet) about how great you are, or the great things you're doing for the Kingdom. Rather, being humble simply means, you don't think about yourself. You don't wake up in the morning and think about your needs first, you think about the needs of the people in your life that need a hand, a hug, a note of encouragement, a high five, a break.

Phil 2:3 says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves."

Another verse that stuck out to me...

"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

If you're familiar with Francis Chan (I'm reading his book with my Life Group and also recently subscribed to his podcast), than you know this is a big theme with him: acknowledging God's HUGENESS and our LITTLENESS and seriously being overwhelmed by it.

This struck me. You know how sometimes old concepts come to life for you in new ways? That's what's happening here for me.

I'm re-learning that humility is about me thinking about others first and how I can bless them before "blessing" myself AND (in my relationship with God), walking with him in a way that is constantly in worship and acknowledging his massiveness in the whole scheme of my life.

So, after my cry/run, God showed me humility with skin on last weekend, when my in-laws totally blessed us unexpectedly.

I won't give all the specifics, but I'll just say that my father-in-law is all about the meat. He gives meat to the people he loves. And the more meat he gives, probably the more he loves you.

And let's just say he loves us, A LOT!

In fact, this week, my challenge was to figure out how to cook a 4lb beef roast for two adults and two two-year-olds, without wasting any. And I'm proud to say, I did it. I will share the recipes for cooking once for 3 different meals in another post. We did beef and mashed potatoes, beef and asparagus over noodles, and beef stir-fry. And each night I was reminded (as the recipient of a humble act) how loved I am. How little I am and how HUGE God is.

We didn't go to them requesting meat. They were just aware that my husband was recently laid off, that we have three little mouths to feed and that it takes a little while to get a new business up and running (hooray, hubby is freelancing! more about that in another post).

They weren't thinking of themselves.

The amazing thing was that they had SO much joy, practicing humility. It was obvious that it made their day to bless us the way they did. I was so thankful to God for showing me this practical example of humility, right after he had challenged my thinking on my run last week.

It's a lesson I think God won't let me soon forget. Probably because I'll be cooking with the object lesson for the next month.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day 09

I hosted a Valentine party on Friday for my girls and "my girls" (my kids and my friends)(and their kids, too)(in case you were confused).

We had a fun craft, exchanged Valentine's and ate a delicious Valentine-themed lunch.

The kids played great (no meltdowns) and the mommies actually got to visit. I'd say it was a true success.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Toenails and Time-crunch

Three Little Monkeys (Sept 08) Twins 24 months, LT 2 months

Little (Growing) Monkeys (Feb 09) after their bath! Twins (almost) 29 months, LT (almost) 7 months

I know I say it a lot, but it's the logistics of care that are required for three little girls that blows my mind. Little Toothache will be 7 months old tomorrow, and you'd think I would be fully adjusted to it by now.

But, it's when I'm on the phone with a friend and I say "yeah. I'm dressed and one of the three girls is dressed, so I think we'll be there in like 30 minutes?" Then, 45 minutes later we're in the car and it just took twice as long as I predicted it would to get from point A to point B.

On Sunday, I gave all the girls a bath. Big girls first. Then baby girl. I think I started about 10:30am, once all was said and done (including clipping three sets of toenails, then three sets of fingernails), it was after noon! Seriously 90 minutes to bathe?!

I don't know where the time goes. But it goes fast. When anyone asks me, what did you do today? I'll stop and think. And maybe I can only list one or two things. But, the REST of my day was filled up with these lovely logistics.

Some day I know that I will truly miss my girls needing me for every ever-loving thing. In fact, it made me a little sad yesterday when Jillian was able to reach into the pantry and pull out her own snack to eat.

But, honestly, it made me a little happy, too.

Happy(est) 7 Months!

Have I mentioned that I am IN LOVE with this little girl!? I told Andy the other night that I think God gave her to me to help me relax. Seriously, people, she's that good. It's such a joy to be her mommy!

Happy 7 month Birthday, baby girl.

I've got a toothache, you're so sweet!

BTW - This is my new favorite picture of her!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tomato Lentil Soup

Last night, my husband says "Soup is the perfect food." I'm pretty sure he was trying to be funny, but, I agreed. Especially during winter time.

Soup has been one of my greatest weight-loss secrets. I've found these Progresso soups that only have like 120 calories in the whole can. Loaded with veggies and warm brothy goodness. What's that commercial? - Dieting lady: "It's the Manhattan Clam Chowder diet!" Supportive friend: "It's workin for ya!"

I've been cooking a lot of soup this winter, too. Now that my big girls can sufficiently work the spoon to their mouth with only minor spillage, I'm breaking out some old (and new) recipes.

Here's a new one I tried last night. It has lentils in it. This was my first experience working with lentils. So, if you're nervous, I'll just tell you, they look and taste like little round, flat beans. They're chock full of fiber, too. Not much taste, but they definitely hearty-up this brothy soup.

The best news is that this recipe makes 6 servings (probably about 1 cup size) at only 150 calories! I ate a half of a grilled cheese sandwich and a big bowl of this for dinner last night and I was completely satisfied!

Tomato Lentil Soup
1 Tbs olive or veg oil
1 large onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
1 med stalk celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (1 cup)
1 cup dried lentils, sorted and rinsed
4 cups water
4 tsp chicken or veg bouillon granules
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/4 tsp pepper
1 dried bay leaf
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained

Heat oil in 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook onion, celery and garlic in oil about 4 min, stirring occasionally, until softened.

Stir in remaining ingredients, except tomatoes. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 to 20 min.

Stir in tomatoes; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered about 15 min or until heated through. Remove bay leaf.