Hook ‘Em & Cook ‘Em

It’s always fun when your boys come home from a deep sea fishing excursion at 2 in the morning and plop down two enormous bags of their catches on the counter! I kid you not, friends. Monday Jake and Noah went fishing off the coast of Niantic, CT with their Boy Scout troop and, well… I guess it was a good day for fishing!

I had never really heard of Porgy before, but then again I don’t cook a lot of fish at home, so I don’t venture further than cod, salmon, shrimp, and haddock. But, after dividing up 6 dinners’ worth of Porgy (nearly 8 lbs), I expect that I will soon be an expert on its preparation!

Deep sea fishing

Of course we had for dinner last night. It’s not often we have fresh-off-the-boat seafood, so I was curious to try it. First, I looked up the fish and was relieved to learn it’s a mild, delicate fish. Some people compare it to Red Snapper. I’ve never tried that, so I can’t agree or disagree.

The fish do have a LOT of little bones, even though they were filleted at the dock. Luckily they aren’t too hard to pick out and we got most of them.

For my first time preparing Porgies, I decided to go super-simple. I just seasoned with salt, pepper, and Mrs. Dash, then coated them with seasoned flour, an egg wash, and crushed corn flakes. Then I baked the filets until they were flaky

Baked Porgie

Baked Porgie

Baked Porgie

I served them with lemon wedges and tarter sauce… nothing fancy!

Baked Porgie
So, the question is… What do Porgies take like? Well, they are pretty mild, but “fishier” than, say, haddock. Personally, they’re not something I’d go out of my way to get but they were better than I expected. Noah loved them, actually.

I think these Porgies would be yummy deep-fried, and maybe I’ll try that at another point this summer. Have you ever had them? What’s your favorite way to cook porgies? I’m all ears!

Grocery Day

Grocery Haul

I was trying to think of a blog post for today and, really, all I’ve done is grocery shopping. So I guess that’s what I’ll write about! I have long enjoyed “grocery haul” posts (going way back to the days when Crystal at Money Saving Mom would post what she bought using her $35/week budget). I have done a post like this once or twice, but certainly not in the last couple of years. 

Maybe it’s because I love food and frugality, or maybe I’m just nosy but I really do enjoy seeing what people buy and how they are able to save! I don’t think this is something I’ll do all the time, but maybe on occasion. Of course, if anyone is really interested let me know and I can post grocery hauls a little more regularly.

So first… how I shop. I am not a one store kind of girl. There are some things I always get at one place, some things at another, and then I will hop from store to store for the sales. All these stores are located on the same strip of road, so over the years I have charted my course and if I’m not taking my time I can get it all done in a morning. So, let’s get on with it, shall we?

First stop… Dollar Tree
Grocery haul

I needed lightbulbs and detangler and also picked up some tortillas, spices, and Awesome cleanser. I also got a few other misc. items not pictured here.
Total: 9.48

Sam’s Club
Grocery haul

I went in just for peanut butter and bananas, but I was really excited to find this cilantro jalapeno hummus! I really enjoy the Panera sandwich that uses this flavor hummus and I’ve never seen it in a store anywhere. I hope the flavor is close. I also purchased this Italiano dip because it sounded really good and sometimes items at Sam’s come and go. Thinking I may save this for a party.
Total: 22.24

Walmart
Grocery haul

I was happy that they still have those 1.98 wire baskets. I wanted a few for our bathrooms to hold extra TP. The rose gold was very coppery so I just went with gold. These baskets are really sturdy and I think the price is a bargain! I also scored on beef. One package will be made into burgers for the freezer and I’ll make some beef jerky with the extra-lean stuff. The whisk was a random purchase because it was 50 cents and my wisk is on its last legs. Rugalach was on the day-old bakery counter, so I snatched that up. Then Go-Gurts for Laura’s school lunches, cottage cheese, onions, and red cabbage.
Total: 35.90

ShopRite
Grocery haulShopRite had our favorite American cheese on sale this week, so that was the main reason I stopped in. Also got some turkey for wraps for lunches, and ground turkey which I’ll divide up for the freezer. We prefer to use ground turkey for tacos, but we also like turkey burgers and in the next week or so I’ll use it for copycat P.F. Chang’s lettuce wraps, which we haven’t had in forever.
Total: 19.26

Aldi
Grocery haul

Aldi is where I purchase most of our staples. You can’t beat their prices on most items and with only a few exceptions, they’re just as good if not better than the name brands. I bought a giant tub of spring mix (we go through this like crazy), tri-colored peppers, zucchini, carrots, avocado (such a deal this week at 69-cents! I’ll enjoy them while I can), gala apples (my favorite – I eat one a day!), Parmesan cheese, fresh mozzarella, spinach wraps, bagels, fries, half-and-half, eggs, cream cheese, juice boxes, pretzels, unsalted peanuts (they were out last time so I bought two today).
Total: 36.91

And finally, Tops
Grocery haul

I had to pick up our prescriptions and because Wednesdays tend to be crazy, I decided to get fried chicken for dinner just to make things easy. That and a salad and leftover potato salad or chips will be a supper that no one can argue with! I also grabbed my yogurts because they are on sale (have you tried the Dannon whole milk yogurt? SO good!), and these deli soups were BOGO. 
Total: 17.63

So my grand total for groceries today was: $141.42. Considering we are a family of 5, with one teenage boy and one tween boy, I don’t think that’s horrible. Some of this will last us much longer than a week. And there are always incidentals during the week that get picked up (for example, Drew grabbed milk yesterday on his way home, and this doesn’t take into account the ham and bread I’d purchased earlier in the week for school lunches). But obviously, it’s the bulk of my weekly shopping. Living in New York, prices are definitely higher here than in other parts of the country, and we really don’t go out to eat often so everything is made at home. I don’t have a grocery budget per se, so during the month of February I’m really going to track my spending in this area to make sure I’m not going crazy!

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

thanksgivingdinnerCan you believe that Thanksgiving is in just two days? Time just flies this time of year. Normally, I consider Thanksgiving my favorite holiday but due to the nature of this year I’m not quite as into it as I usually am. Nevertheless, I’m doing my best to make it a good holiday.

As usual, we will be hosting at our house. I don’t find the cooking to be a chore, and honestly we really like not having to drive anywhere on Thanksgiving. (Plus, I can have an extra glass of wine — ha!) Drew’s mom and aunt will be coming up, but that’s all so it will just be seven people.

My Thanksgiving menu doesn’t change much from year to year. I keep it pretty traditional, though I’ll try a new recipe or two sometimes. Usually one of the appetizers or desserts will be something new.

Here’s my list…

Cheese ball and crackers
Devilled eggs

Roast Turkey with sausage-cranberry stuffing
Gravy
Mashed potatoes
Roasted sweet potatoes
Asparagus (it happens to be on sale this week and Drew requested it)
Cornbread with cranberry honey butter (new recipe)
Tossed salad
Corn
Cranberry sauce

Sugar-free blueberry pie
Pecan pie or sugared pecan topped cheesecake

For wines I have a riesling, a vino verde, and a petit syrah. I also found a non-alcoholic black currant cordial that I thought might be nice either mixed with seltzer or kicked up with vodka. So we will try that, too! 

A couple weeks ago I made a 9-lb. chicken, so this 12.5-lb. turkey won’t be too far off! Of course, I will also have my Crock Pot ready with onions, celery, and carrots to make an overnight turkey stock. I look forward to the soup as much as the roast bird! And of course I also love a turkey sandwich on Thanksgiving night. I always like to have it on white bread with American cheese and lots of mayo. It’s one of those things from my childhood that still just makes me feel all happy and at home!

Today I also started a cranberry fluff, which we will be taking to the “feast” in my daughter’s class tomorrow. If it comes out good I’ll be sure to write about it.

What about you? Are you hosting Thanksgiving or travelling somewhere? Anything new and exciting on your menu or do you also keep things fairly simple and traditional?

Cretons (French-Canadian Pork Pate)

Cretons (French-Canadian Pork Pate)Many years ago, when my husband’s French-Canadian grandmother was still alive, I remember my mother-in-law serving something called cretons at the holidays. Initially, I was put off by this strange pork pate. It was eaten cold, either on crackers or toast, and contained what I (at that time) considered “sweet” spices. I couldn’t wrap my head around how it all worked together.

Flash forward a few years. My husband and our two boys went on a vacation to Quebec while I stayed home with our teeny baby. The hotel served cretons as part of their traditional breakfast and D. fell in love with it all over again. I decided I was going to try making a version.

Over the years I’ve tweaked a bit here and a bit there, and today I’m sharing the version I make. It is authentic? I can’t say — I’ve never tried the real thing! D. assures me, however, that it is pretty darn close. My favorite way to enjoy cretons is spread on top of a buttered, toasted English muffin. Toast will do nicely, too. But you need to have the butter — it just adds a little extra something. So please, just take it from me and try this! I think you’ll agree that it’s a delicious treat.

Cretons (French-Canadian Pork Pate)

Cretons

1 lb. ground pork
1 med. onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs

Brown pork in a large pan along with the chopped onions and garlic. Add the salt, pepper, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute. Transfer pork mixture to a food processor and pulse until the meat reaches an extremely fine consistency.
Return the pork mixture to the pan and add the milk and bread crumbs and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat. Stir well to blend everything together. Reduce the heat to LOW, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pork is very tender and most of the liquid is evaporated, about 30-40 min. Remove the lid and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick and all the liquid is evaporated. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, to taste.
Transfer to a bowl and smooth the top with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Cover tightly with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate until well chilled and firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Sunday Snapshots

daffodil in a teacup

What a beautiful weekend! The weather was seriously perfect. We have had a lot going on since Friday night, so today we opted to just stay home. Even though I was feeling kind of tired, I managed to get quite a bit done.

I started out with laundry, changing sheets, and remaking all the beds. Is it just me, or does that chore exhaust anyone else? Maybe if it’s just one bed it’s not so bad, but four? Whew…

Two of the bananas in the fruit bowl were getting really brown, and since I had a couple in the freezer too I decided to make two loaves of banana-nut bread. I’ll freeze one and we will have the other for breakfast tomorrow.

banana bread

D. made turkey stock the other night so I decided to make creamy turkey soup for supper tonight along with some garlic-cheddar biscuits. Simple & satisfying!

cooking...

Untitled

garlic biscuits

soup & biscuits

After everything was cleaned up, it was time to start planning out the week. I love sitting down with my craft punches, washi tape, and stickers and getting everything down on paper. I will probably never be an electronic planner person. I love my iPhone, don’t get me wrong, but I just have to write it down.

planning

The kids and I are all watching a little TV before their bedtime, and quite honestly I’m ready to crawl under the blankets myself! I think I’ll take a cup of tea, maybe a piece of chocolate, and D. and I will probably zone out to a movie or something.

Hope you all have had a wonderful weekend!