Tomato blobs

One of my goals when I started this blog was to share what I thought were good ideas – particularly for country working girls. It’s not that I come up with many of those ideas by myself. Mostly, I steal them. That’s what a good idea is for, right? To steal? Well, that’s my philosophy anyway.

This happens to be one of those good ideas that is my own. I’m sure that someone else has had this idea before, but I thunk of it mine own self. You see I have this problem: if a recipe calls for less than a whole container, I won’t can’t throw the rest of it away. And so I have half a can of tomatoes in the refrigerator until they spoil. And then I throw it away. I know. Brilliant.

One thing that you almost never use all of, is tomato paste. For some reason, recipes call for one or two tablespoons of the stuff. And then you’re throwing away almost a whole can. Ack! Or, if you freeze the rest of the can, it is in one big hunk and there’s no way to divide it up for the next recipe.

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Enter my cookie scoop. I realized my small cookie scoop is about one tablespoon. I used it to drop balls-o-paste on wax paper and then froze them. Voila – easy-to-use, pre-measured blobs of tomato paste. (Please ignore the fact that I don’t know how to make that accenty-thing over the ‘a’ in Voila!)

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Ok. So maybe it sounds weird when I say it like that, but trust me. It works.

The world of Pinterest

First thing first: my oven is fixed. Hip! Hip! Hooray!

Second thing second: Because I’ve been without my oven for longer than I care to think about, I was anxious to use it. I mean any girl on Pinterest in her right mind finds 627 recipes a week to pin. And usually, I’m a pretty good discerner of Pinterest recipes. It’s really not all that hard. Butter? It will be delicious. Cream? You betcha. Cheese and bacon together? Well, that’s just a no-brainer.

But sometimes, I bomb. And last night was one of those times. Maybe it wasn’t a big-time bomb, but it definitely wasn’t a win either. I tried the Pizza Hut Pan Pizza copycat recipe. They looked good (although the photo leaves a lot to be desired.) But the taste was just not the same. I need to do some tweaking and if it works, I’ll let you know.
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And this is where I talk about a cool thing that one of my friends started doing and I copied. Good ideas are meant to be copied, right?!

So my friend, Amanda, started re-pinning recipes that she had tried to a “Food Review” board. She would try a recipe and re-pin it there, writing a review of that recipe. Brilliant! Not to mention she’s a good cook. So I copied. My food review board is called “Food I’ve Made” so if you follow me on Pinterest, keep an eye on that board.

Which leads me to publicly state that I need to organize my Pinterest boards. A tip: If you are new to Pinterest, don’t worry about having too many boards. I have a board called “Food.” Now THAT’S descriptive. Try to be more organized than me. It won’t be hard.

How we roll in the country #2

Remember when I went on that really cool Young Cattlemen’s Conference trip? It was fantastic. Great people. Great experiences. It was so motivating and inspiring to be among future leaders of the beef industry.

But as great as it was, there was a downside. I left my boys at home and I missed them. At certain times of the year, I travel for work a lot more than I would like. And this trip was 10 days. TEN DAYS! That’s a long time to be away from your family, your own bed and your kitchen.

When I got home, I craved making a home-cooked meal. My little boys wanted sweet treats baked by their mama. So while the cupboards were a little bare because the family grocery shopper had been gone, I knew there was probably enough in there to whip something up in between loads and loads of laundry. So I found a lemon bar mix and pulled out one of my staple recipes that I always have the ingredients for.

But things never really go as planned, do they?

My oldest boy helped mix up the lemon bars. We turned on the oven and waited for it to preheat. At this point, let me tell you – I love my stove. It’s gas and I love having instant heat on the stovetop. What’s not so great? It takes a long, long time for the oven to preheat. That can really be a pain, but I’ve learned to adjust. If I’m baking a casserole when I get home from work, the first thing I do when I get home is turn on the oven.

So when the oven had not beeped to tell me it was completely preheated, I didn’t worry too much. We just put the lemon bar crust in and went on our merry way. (I know my 4-H cooking leader is shaking her head at me. You do NOT put something in to bake until the oven is preheated. I know. But sometimes I break the rules.)

But it was soon apparent that something was wrong. The oven didn’t feel as hot as it should be, but it was warm. We tried anyway. We poured the topping on and stuck it back in. But after an hour of baking this is what we had:

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A runny, stick mess. Not good. Not good at all. The oven was broken.

By this time, I had already started supper. I was making my famous (if by famous I mean my boys ask for seconds) Mexican Casserole.

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It had to be baked. Now I imagine some folks who live a little closer to town, would have wrapped that sucker up, thrown it in the freezer, and said, “Kids – It’s McDonald’s time!” When you live 30 miles from the nearest fast food restaurant, that just doesn’t happen. But this country girl? I did this.

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(Please ignore the mess that is our grill. We need a new one, I know.)

That’s how we roll in the country. We improvise. And it turned out just fine, although the lemon bars went in the trash. And do you know what else is indicative of living in the country? The oven is still not fixed. Not because I didn’t call them for 5 days. . . ok, that may be part of the problem. . . but because it takes THAT long to get a repairman to drive 30 miles to fix your oven. But he called earlier and will be here any minute. That’s the best news I’ve had in a long time.

Mexican Casserole

6 flour tortillas

1 pound ground beef

1 onion, diced

1 16 oz. can tomato sauce

3/4 envelope taco seasoning

1 can black beans

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F. Brown onion and onions. Add tomato sauce, taco seasoning and black beans. In a cast iron skillet or 9×13-inch baking dish, spread a spoonful of the meat mixture in the bottom to keep the tortillas from sticking to the bottom. Tear tortillas into bite-size pieces. Layer 1/3 of the tortillas, 1/3 of the meat mixture and 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat two more times. Bake for 2o minutes or until heated through and bubbly.