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Weekly Menu 25

Heather says

Last week turned out to be a really good week overall.

I used my stick blender to experiment with a sauce for fish tacos, it still needs some tweaking before I share it, but we’re on to something good. I didn’t make pho on Wednesday, instead I went with a Must Go style soup, loosely based on Sausage and Sweet Potato Soup.

IMG_20150204_110428

And then, I finally broke out some of my photography stuff and managed to get a decent picture of chicken bog.

Lowcountry Chicken Bog

This is a big step for me; I just haven’t had the mental or personal bandwidth to do this. And if any of you have any idea what I have done with my tripod, that’d be good to know. I guess it’s just lost in that mental fog of 2013.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Anyhow, let’s keep the ball rolling and make plans for this week:

  • Monday – CORN (That’s clean out refrigerator night as there is a ton of that chicken bog left)
  • Tuesday – It’s like Taco Tuesday, but on a. .. oh, Tuesday. Buffalo Chicken Tacos & BLT Salad (If there are any good tomatoes, doubtful but a girl can hope)
  • Wednesday – Let’s try that pho idea again… maybe, but definitely soup of some sort
  • Thursday – Spaghetti (squash) and meatballs 
  • Friday – Baked Fish and Chips, Broccoli
  • Saturday – Chicken roasted with mushrooms, peppers, and onions -It’s definitely time to redo these photos- Roasted potatoes, some kind of green vegetable or salad, it’s going to depend on what looks during the week.

Here’s hoping we can keep that momentum going and have another good week.

Is there anything you are looking forward to trying this week?

What did you make last week that worked (or didn’t)?

Submitted to: Menu Plan Monday

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Chicken Thighs and the Reduced Budget

Dear Home-Ec 101,

My husband was recently laid off -sound familiar?- and we really need to cut our food budget while he looks for a new job. In your opinion, what’s the most economical cut of meat or poultry I can get to feed our family? I pretty much stuck to boneless skinless chicken breasts before, but right now they don’t seem to be such a good deal.

Signed,

Stretching in Stratton

Heather says:

First of all, I feel for you guys. I hope he finds something soon.

When budgets are tight, it’s really hard to beat chicken thighs as an economical cut of poultry. I’m not a huge fan of dark meat, but I’ve matured enough  (hush, peanut gallery) to know that sometimes my preferences just don’t matter that much.

Here are some recipes that work perfectly, without extra steps, for chicken thighs (even if they say chicken pieces, you can use a package of thighs):

Chili Honey Chicken Thighs

Garlic and Soy Chicken Thighs

Balsamic Marinated Chicken Thighs

Carmelized Brown Sugar and Garlic Chicken Thighs

Oven Fried Chicken

Italian Marinated Fried Chicken Thighs

 

Some people will try to argue that the thigh bone makes the difference in cost between BSCBs and chicken thighs acceptable. I completely disagree. Whether you first remove the thigh before cooking or separate them after cooking, those chicken thigh bones are valuable. Save the bones in a freezer bag and use them to make chicken stock.

If you’ve never made chicken stock before, here are two ways to make chicken stock, and Eugene in the comments offers his method for making stock in his slow cooker. Homemade chicken stock sounds like a luxury, but using it to make rice or vegetables can significantly improve their flavor and boost the nutritional value without adding a ton of sodium.

So what else can you make with these budget friendly chicken thighs?

Any recipe calling for boneless skinless chicken breasts can be made with skinless, boneless chicken thighs. Debone the thighs yourself.

Any recipe calling for a whole, cut up chicken.

Examples:

Any recipe calling for leg quarters.

Examples:

If you find a recipe for chicken and want to alter it specifically for chicken thighs, here is a guide to altering chicken recipes based on cut.

Additionally:

Whole chickens are economical in their own right. Here’s how to cut up a whole chicken. With a little practice, this takes about five minutes and gives you a break from only dark meat.

Don’t forget your side dishes.

When you are trying to reduce your overall food budget side dishes become extremely important. Ounce per consumable ounce, vegetables, grains, and legumes are often significantly cheaper than meat.

When planning your meals allot your 10 – 35% of the calories to come from protein. That leaves a LOT of room for vegetables and whole grains. Treat your protein source as the after thought and focus on filling your dinner plates with other lower cost items. This doesn’t mean only empty calories, sides like: lentil pilaf, rice and peas, roasted broccoli, collard greens with northern beans, and roasted vegetables all are filling, but not terribly expensive. -With the broccoli, peel and slice the stems so they don’t go to waste). And don’t forget the poor maligned potato, just keep them out of the fryer. Try your hand at roasted potatoes or ranch potato wedges. Don’t be scared to get creative.

Good luck.

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Home-Ec 101 Guide to Cleaning The Bathroom

 

Home-Ec101.com's guide to cleaning the bathroom

If guests are coming over the bathroom is the first room I head to with cleaning supplies. It definitely helps to give it some attention weekly, and once I met a woman that wiped hers down daily so she never had heavy cleaning in the bathroom. Whatever your choice is – or if it’s a bit more of a random thing like my bathroom – these articles have lots of good bathroom cleaning advice for you. Click on the title to read the complete post.

Bathroom Cleaning 101

Thursdays mean clean bathrooms here on Home-Ec 101. Don’t be ashamed, we all start somewhere and not everyone’s parental units taught them basic life skills like cleaning toilets.

How to Clean Up After a Toilet Overflow

So I have all the towels to mop up the water and um mess, from the toilet overflow itself. Then I have to wash the towels, floor, and toilet. And then I feel the need to run a bleach cycle in the washing machine, just in case…

How to Clean the Bathtub

The phenomenon of which you speak is the dreaded bathtub ring. Every time someone takes a bath, all of the dead skin cells, grease, and oils wash off their body and float in a layer on top of the water. Add soap to the mix and theses lovely little particles are trapped in a sticky residue that clings to the side of the tub.

How to Clean a Very Dirty Bathtub

My bathtub is so funky, it makes James Brown look stodgy. Especially since he’s dead. But I digress. The yuck in my tub is so nasty, I’m afraid to take a shower, and my co-workers are starting to complain. Help me, Luke Skywalker Home-Ec 101, you’re my only hope!

How to Clean Tile

We just moved into a home with white mosaic tile in the bathroom.  The grout is sealed.  How do I clean it and what was I thinking?

How to Repair Stained Grout

Yes, you can make permanently stained grout look white again! I want to warn you the solution is a little labor intensive -especially in a large room like a kitchen, but the payoff is high.

How to Clean a Toilet

…how a toilet cleaning is done. Besides the obvious-  Outside first: top, sides, bottom then  Inside: scrub.  I have read you can use toilet bowl cleaner, diluted to clean the whole toilet. One must wear gloves of course. Please advise.

Toilet Cleaning Tips

Cleaning toilets is one of those adulthood sucks kind of things. It’s not fun and there’s no big reward for having a clean toilet.  Most of you know that I rarely recommend convenience products. This is one of those rare exceptions.

How to Clean the Bathroom

Getting your house back in shape absolutely requires that you clean the bathroom. Let me tell you, you could have mounds of laundry piled everywhere and a spotless bathroom and I totally wouldn’t think you’re gross. But make me use a dirty bathroom and I’ll take pictures and post them here on Home Ec 101 with the Home Ec 101 Seal of Disapproval. Just kidding.

How to Clean Cultured Marble

First, we have a relatively new shower whose walls are cultured marble. What is the best way to give them the occasional clean to remove soap scum, etc? Second, in the same shower, we have sliding glass doors. While doing a deep clean yesterday, I discovered that there is a fairly well established colony of mold under the railing…..

How to Clean a Jetted Tub

Help! I’ve got funky stuff coming out of my jetted tub. I turned it on the other night and bits of black sludge ruined my bath. How do I clean out the jets?

How to Get Rid of Hairspray Residue

How do you get stuck on hairspray off walls and a cheap linoleum bathroom floor?

How to Get Rid of Pink Shower Mold

We keep getting these pale pinkish stains on the shower curtains and at the base of the tub… Could it be mold?

How to Clean Moldy Shower Tile

What is the best way to clean that black yuk that tends to grow in the corners of the shower? I have a ceramic tile shower and I have used every mixture I can think of to rid the shower of the black stuff from straight Clorox to the gimmicks from “As Seen On TV” and nothing seems to work. Help!

Hard Water Spots in the Shower

I’ve always hated cleaning shower walls – they just seem so impossible to clean. And now we have a shower stall with clear doors that shows sports from our hard water in DAYS (even with squeegee-ing after every shower).

Why Do Hard Water Spots Come Back?

No matter what I do, the hard water spots on my shower and tub keep coming back?  What am I doing wrong?

Have a questions about cleaning your bathroom that hasn’t been answered? Send your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

guide to chemical cleaners

Click this picture to learn more about cleaners!

how to clean appliances

Click the picture for more tips!

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Weekly Menu 24

Heather says

As I’ve mentioned before the menu plans I post are a frame work of what we’ll probably eat. Last week I experimented and instead of Thai coconut soup I decided to give Thai curry a try. Curry is something of a comfort food for me, I especially love it in the winter.

Not too long ago I saw on a Reddit thread, someone proclaiming, it’s not real curry unless you use a paste. You know, anytime someone uses the word real to describe anything, whether a food or a person, I should just tune out and find something else to do. But noooOOoo, I never learn.

In the past, I’ve never used a paste, I always heated the spices in the oil to release their flavor. The paste I tried could be summed up with: Meh. Generally, when trying a new recipe or technique I stick to the directions the first go around and riff on it the next attempt. I should have gone with my gut and used far more seasoning than the recipe suggested. It was edible, but definitely not the experience I was aiming for. I’ll give it another try in a week or two. Maybe.

Did you try anything new?

I finally got around to it and made Bobbie’s blue cheese dressing as a dip for chips and veggies last night during that big sports thing. I am now sorry I hadn’t made it sooner, homemade blue cheese is worth far more than the 3 minutes it takes to stir it up. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

And on to this week’s menu:

  • Monday – A giant salad with leftover pulled pork and blue cheese dressing
  • Tuesday – fish tacos, Southwestern salad
  • Wednesday – pho ?
  • Thursday – Spaghetti (squash)
  • Friday – Car picnic. I have a surprise for the minions, I don’t think they’ll mind.
  • Saturday – out
  • Sunday – Chicken Bog, Collard Greens, Cornbread

What are you having? Is there anything you’re looking forward to?

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The Home-Ec 101 Guide To Taking Care Of Your Floors

take care of floor

The floor of a home is the canvas that family life gets lived on. Sometimes it is a fresh clean canvas and other times it is full of stains and spots. It often gets overlooked, but keeping it in good shape does improve the room. Here are some articles about taking care of flooring; there are questions about hardwood, carpet, linoleum, laminate, and more. Just click the title of the article to read the whole thing.

One quick tip from Austin O’Malley before you go on reading: “When you are dealing with a child, keep all your wits about you, and sit on the floor.”

Are my Hardwood Floors Sealed?

I once read somewhere that hardwood floors do need to be “sealed” every few years or so. What does this mean? Should we put something on the floors to seal them?

Carpet Care and Spot Cleaning

Is there any tried-and-true method for spot-cleaning a carpet and KEEPING it clean? There’s nothing worse than mystery stains that return every few months.

How to Remove Rust Stains from Carpet

I recently moved some furniture only to discover rust rings on my carpet. Can you help me figure out how to safely remove the rust stains from my carpeting?

How to Remove Potty Training or Poop Stains from Carpeting

My two year old has started potty training.  She’s very good at taking off her clothes and getting naked, not so good yet at actually making it to the potty on time.  So, I was wondering if you had any brilliant tips for cleaning toddler poop out of carpet?

How to Clean Laminate Flooring

Since installing the floors, we’ve had plumbers and tilers in…and now the floors are filthy! We need advice on how to clean them. You can’t get laminate flooring fully wet, so regular mopping is out. We have a layer of remodeling dust that seemingly won’t be phased by a broom and Swiffer Wet. Can you help?

How to Clean Linoleum

I was hoping you could help me with a cleaning problem I have been having lately.  I can’t get my floors clean!  No matter if I wash the floor on my hands and knees or if I use a mop, there’s still a dirt residue that will not go away.

How to Clean Hardwood Flooring

Any helpful hints on cleaning wood floors? I can get them clean and I can get them shiny, but not at the same time without doing two rounds. First with water/vinegar, then going over it with Orange Glow wood floor cleaner. But who has time for that?

How to Clean Pet Urine On a Linoleum Floor

How do you get chewed up plastic off the carpet? My puppy and my big dog chew everything! When I had hardwood it was easy. . . carpet, not so much.

How to Scrub a Tile Floor

I was looking on your site for information on the best (and hopefully most efficient) way to scrub floors. I have tile floors in my kitchen and bathroom and 3 young children.  They are always dirty, and I have a baby who is crawling on them.

How to Repair Stained Grout

I just read your post about scrubbing tile floors. I need to do this! I’ve swept and mopped for three years on my tile floors, and I’ve been knowing I need to do something to make the grout white again. I did the test to see if my grout had been sealed. It hasn’t! Is this why it turned brown? I feel like a terrible housekeeper! Is it too late to seal the grout after three years? Will I be able to restore them to white again? I’m looking forward to your future posts!

What’s the Point of Welcome Mats, Door Mats, and Runners?

It takes an average of six to ten steps for all of the dirt on shoes to fall away and let’s face it, not everyone is diligent about wiping their feet. All but the smallest dogs can carry a surprising amount of dirt in a house between their paw pads -especially in winter when there is less grass.

Choosing Flooring with an Incontinent Pet

The carpet is now stained and smelly from both general wear and tear and also my greyhound becoming incontinent and having accidents everywhere, especially in the hallway. So I need to do something. What is the best/most durable/easies to clean & maintain flooring choice?

bedroom and closet cleaning

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clean the outside of your house

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