Friday, August 3, 2012

A lot of changes this week!

So this week got a little crazy...

Monday we napped instead of cooked and Wednesday we too my mom out to dinner so that was two meals off our menu.  So now we were looking at this for the week so far:

Monday: Houlihan's
Tuesday: Enchiladas
Wednesday: Outback
Thursday: Patty Melts

I had taken out Chicken Curry, which was all set in the freezer and Baked Ziti also in the freezer.  Tonight will (finally) be the Honey Butter Pork Tenderloin (that is if I get up soon and take the pork out of my freezer!)  Saturday is the vegan pepper steak, which I may put on hold for another day since I didn't buy the mushrooms.  I didn't want them hanging in the fridge all week for a Saturday dinner, so I figured a quick produce trip was necessary.  I think I may try to cook from the pantry/freezer on Saturday.

So after two dinners out, I decided next week I would challenge myself to cook from the freezer.  This is good for 2 reasons: I clear out space in the freezer (making sure some of the good stuff in there doesn't go to waste!) and it lower the grocery bill (significantly) for the week.  So look forward to that menu soon!

Last night, I almost gave in to ordering a pizza.  Grace went to "school" for a half day.   We send her one half day a week in the summer.  It keeps her in the daycare groove and we found that September was much easier.  I ran errands the whole time, not even stopping back home in the 5 hours.  By the time dinner rolled around, I was tired and hot and had no interested in standing in my un-air conditioned kitchen with the oven/stove on.  Tim, my husband, is no help in motivating me to cook.  He said, "Sit and relax, we will order a pizza."  Jerk.  Just Kidding.  But after going to dinner out two nights this week, I really didn't want to spend $15 on pizza especially when I have 3 pounds of ground beef in the fridge.  So I hurried to get started.

Dinner last night was Patty Melts.  Traditionally, this is a seasoned beef patty (hamburger) on rye bread with caramelized onions, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Islands dressing.  Then the whole sandwich is grilled (like a grill cheese) till crispy and gooey.  Yummy yummy yummy!  Well, we do it a little different here, mostly to play with ingredients that we keep on hand.  For example, we are not big bread people.  We buy a loaf of white bread and end up throwing the last few pieces to the birds.  So to buy a loaf of rye bread to use 6 to 8 pieces doesn't make a lot of sense for us.  We just used white bread.  Same thing with Swiss cheese.  I love Swiss cheese on a patty melt, and not on much more.  We had American cheese so that is what we went with.

Ok, three pounds of ground beef is definitely too much for patty melts.  I paid just about $9 for the meat, and I was determine to get at least 3 meals out of it.  I started by chopping and sauteing a Vidala onion in butter to get it to caramelize.  I use Vidala onions for this because of their high sugar content. They are beyond delicious cooked.  In the summer we like to brush chunks of Vidala onion with olive oil and grill them to eat.  Amazing.  Low and slow to caramelize onions, so I got them going first.  Then I chopped some more vegetables.  I decided to take a pound of beef and make a meat loaf.  I can freeze this uncooked and it will be good to go on another night.  I have onions and those beautiful fresh peppers from the farm market.  I chop them up meatloaf size (and cut up another 2 peppers to snack on... they were gone that night!).  Mix my meatloaf (meat, breadcrumb, egg, onions, pepper, ketchup, a bit of Merlot Sauce, salt and pepper).  For my meatloaf, put it in my foil lined pan, wrap it up and stick it in the freezer.  Tomorrow I will pop it out of the dish, throw it in a labeled freezer bag and ta-duh.  Easy dinner another night.  

Moving on, make my patties for the patty melt.  These can be as simple or complex as you want. I toss in a little salt and pepper, some Garlic Garlic (from Tastefully Simple) and a bit of that good old Merlot Sauce.  I mix them in my bowl and then use the side of my hand to score the meat into 4 equal pieces.  I make my patties to look a bit like meat donuts, with a hole in the middle.  This keeps the burger from plumping up too much, the hole will disappear and you don't have to worry about the center being raw.  I throw them in the same pan as the onions, just push the caramelized onions to the side. I get ready to assemble the sandwiches while thinking about the last pound of meat.  Instead of butter, I use mayo to coat the bread.  It grills nicer, its easier to spread and you can't taste it when it done (believe me, Tim would gag if he knew he was eating mayo... he has never caught on.).  Bread in a clean dry pan (mayo side down), caramelized onions,  patty, cheese (I actually melted my cheese onto the patty before hand...) and bread.  I keep the dressing on the side as I am the only one who likes it and I love to dip in it.  Get those bad boys grilling.

One more pound of meat and what to do.  I know, a chili started.  Brown my beef with an onion and some of those yummy peppers.  Another day it will be ready to jump in the crock pot with a few other ingredients and dinner will be good to go.  In fact, with a couple cans  of beans, this could probably be for 2 meals!  

3 pound of meat for $9 and I have the protein for 4 meals.  That helps make up for 2 dinners out! 

I did take pictures, but they are on my phone, which Grace is currently playing with. I will update with pictures later.

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