Category Archives: Food

How to Make The Best Thanksgiving Turkey

No Thanksgiving table would be complete without a perfectly browned turkey in the center. Even folks that don’t love the taste of turkey expect to have some on this special day, and will eat it without complaint, not expecting anything great.

Most of us have memories of dry, bland birds from Thanksgiving past. Some have never even sampled a good one! (Sad indeed.) Far from being tasteless and boring, a turkey can be delicious and moist—not to mention very affordable. 

I’ve been cooking Thanksgiving dinner since I was 15-years-old. (I am now 36, so that’s a lot of practice.) Over the years, I’ve experimented quite a bit. There are a few things that truly make a world of difference and don’t require a ton of effort, which I’ve blogged about before.

My preferred method is to use a roasting bag, which eliminates the need for basting. (Basting is bad because you have to constantly open the oven door, causing temperature fluctuations that will extend the cooking time.) 

Another way is to brine the bird. It produces excellent results, though it does require additional steps. My best friends always cooks her turkey this way—she is the one who actually taught me about it—and the result is fantastic. 

Whether you brine or use a roasting bag, we both agree on one thing: stuffing. As in, do not use bread stuffing inside the bird. Instead, use one apple, one onion, and one orange. This is the best combination! Just quarter everything, toss it inside the cavity, and throw away after it’s cooked. 

As for the pop-up timer, don’t rely on that. They are notoriously inaccurate, resulting in over cooked food, every single time. It’s much better to buy a meat thermometer ($10 or less at Walmart).

Turkey can be intimidating, especially the first time, but it does get easier. With a little effort, you can make something “blah” into something super.

 

If you have any turkey tips, I’d love to hear about them.

3 Apple Recipes in 1 Day: Rings, Roast, and Muffins

Having a bushel of apples on hand put me in a creative mood. Would you believe I’ve devoted the day to tinkering with apple recipes? It’s true and it was so much fun. 

First up was Fried Caramel Apple Rings for breakfast. Definitely a sugar overload, with both caramel and powdered sugar, but very tasty. 

For lunch, I made an Apple-Glazed Roasted Chicken that turned out perfectly—no surprise since it was a Better Homes & Gardens recipes. Everything they make is always good. 

After such a big breakfast and a filling lunch, I left the house to do some errands, and then it was right back to the kitchen, to mix up some Apple Muffins, which will be for packed lunches and possibly tomorrow’s breakfast, too. I did adjust these slightly, by adding chopped walnuts and extra cinnamon. They came out moist and the kitchen smells heavenly.

And that, my friends, was my day—3 new-to-me apple recipes that I would definitely make again. 

 

Have you done any baking lately?

Groceries for $26.00 Per Week: Cheap but Not Healthy

Living on a Dime is one of the frugal sites that I enjoy. They’re a mother-daughter duo that’s been writing for the last two decades and many of their tips and recipes are super.

One particular post, however, is just total nonsense. Cheap Healthy Family Meal Ideas – Feed A Family Of 4 For $26 Per Week is only partially true: Yes, it’s cheap, but it’s not healthy. 

Let’s take a look at their suggested Shopping List with prices:

  • bread  $2
  • ham – $2
  • lettuce – $1
  • rice – $1
  • oatmeal – $1
  • potatoes – $2
  • bananas – $1
  • apples – $2
  • 2 packages frozen veggies – $2
  • 1 bag baby carrots – $1
  • 4-5 lbs. Chicken thighs – $3 
  • 2 dozen eggs – $3
  • spaghetti – $1
  • spaghetti sauce – $1
  • cream of chicken  – $1
  • peanut butter – $2

Obviously, I would remove the ham and the cream of chicken soup to start. Otherwise, I don’t have a problem with the foods they recommend, but those items alone do not comprise a well-rounded meal plan, especially when they’re dividing the food to feed 4 people for 21 meals.

Can I buy a loaf of bread for $2.00? Yes, the high sugar Wonder Bread kind that’s low in fiber. Spaghetti sauce in the can is too salty and full of junk chemicals. Even the $1.00 lettuce, which would be iceberg, is the least desirable kind. $0.69/Lb. chicken is a rare sale. One bag of carrots and 2 bags of mixed veggies for an entire week is a terrible idea and does not meet nutritional guidelines.

If a family is on a very restricted budget, it would make sense to serve simple meals. Eggs and oatmeal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, chicken with potatoes or spaghetti for dinner are all good, as they suggested, but that’s not enough. The potions would be too small; the food is repetitive, and there is a major lack of produce.

$26 per week would be for a true emergency, not a normal budget. The USDA Thrifty Food Family Plan is 5 times higher—$130 per week—and most families are spending much more than that. To claim otherwise is just not logical, nor does it sound appetizing. 

If a family is willing to cook and eat the majority of their meals at home, buy food that is on sale and make a detailed menu plan, food doesn’t have to be expensive. I normally spend $75 to 100, unless I’m doing a major stock-up. We eat lots of fruit, veggies, whole grains, and lean meat and go easy on desserts, packaged foods, and snacks. 

Saving money is important, but not at the expense of our health and wellbeing. I’d prefer to spend a decent amount so that our meals are actually enjoyable. Food is supposed to be a pleasure, after all! There is a difference between being frugal and being a miser. Let’s not push an extreme mindset that’s impossible to follow long term and sacrifices our comfort and wellbeing. 

 

How low can you go when it comes to groceries?

Trader Joe’s Kosher Beef Taste Test

Finding Kosher beef outside of a metro area can be a challenge. There are no specialty butcher shops and regular grocery stores don’t carry it. Prior to Trader Joe’s coming to town about 3 years ago, if we wanted it, we had to drive an hour to Boston. Now, it’s readily available.

If you have a hard time locating it, too, check out Trader Joe’s meat department. Not every location carries it, but most do. At mine, I found 4 different cuts—brisket, stew meat, ribeye and ground beef. 

The brand, which is certified Glatt Kosher, is Teva, and has good reviews. Of course, taste isn’t universal, so I figured after 2 or 3 pounds, I’d make up my mind. 😉

Cost-wise, it’s comparative to other Kosher brands, which is usually twice the price of conventional meat. Here’s the breakdown:

    • Stew Beef – $9.99/Lb.
    • Ground Beef – $8.49/Lb.
    • Ribeye – $16.99/Lb.
    • Brisket – $10.99/Lb.

Since we were having an unseasonably warm day today—85 degrees!—I dragged out the grill and got cooking. The ground beef was turned into burgers and the steaks were cooked plain. 

It’s hard to ruin a meat feast and these goodies did not disappoint. Everything came out tender and delicious. (I won’t say “juicy” because I prefer everything cooked well done.) Some Kosher meat can be excessively salty. I did not notice anything like that, just a good overall consistency and flavor. 

After such a hearty lunch, I wasn’t in the mood for more meat at dinner. The stew beef is presently in the crockpot, along with potatoes and carrots and will be on the menu tomorrow. From the look and smell, it should be equally good.

And, the brisket, which is my favorite cut of all, went into the freezer. When we’re ready to eat it, I will make Atlanta Brisket, either for Shabbos or we’ll save it for Hanukkah. (Brisket is my special occasion choice.)

Due to the high cost, we eat a lot more conventional meat, but for those who keep strictly Kosher or who want something extra nice, I can recommend Trader Joe’s beef selection. This is definitely a 5-star product.

 

Have you tried Trader Joe’s Kosher food?