Easy Pasta Meal in a Skillet

Yesterday was a “use it up” kind of day. You know, when you have leftovers in the refrigerator, and maybe a little of something left on the shelf.  I don’t eat pasta often, but I had this amount left over from a while back and decided to use it up.

I do have vegetable based pastas on the shelf, and will be trying them – maybe soon. I’ll let you know how that goes.

The pasta cooked perfectly in the skillet, and the liquid did make a little gravy of sorts. The finished dish tasted good, and that is my main criteria for a meal.

This morning, while typing this up for you, I am listening to pop music from the ’80’s through Alexa. She probably doesn’t know what to think of me, as I have her playing metal, classic and hard rock, easy listening music, oldies, and even the oldies, depending on my mood.

Onto the recipe. I don’t know how much pasta I used, honestly. For lack of a better name, I’m just calling this dish:

Easy Pasta Meal in a Skillet

1 tbsp ghee

about 1 tsp chopped garlic, mine came pre-chopped and in oil. Use what you have on hand.

1/8 pound ground beef

1/2 can peas, a little liquid was left with it and I used that as well, but you don’t have to.

water

egg noodles, or you could use another type of pasta

2 pinches dried parsley

2 pinches dried thyme

sea salt to taste

  1. Heat the skillet on medium heat.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of ghee and heat.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic and cook for a minute, stirring.
  4. Place the ground beef in the skillet and cook while breaking it into small bits. Cook until browned.
  5. Slowly add about 1/3 cup of water, the peas (in liquid if there is any), and the pasta.
  6. Cook all of this, stirring every minutes or two, checking the consistency of the pasta as it cooks.
  7. Add a little more water when necessary in order to keep the pasta cooking, but do not cover completely in water. I did this a few times, you may need to less or more. In the end, my liquid was sort of a thin gravy consistency that just covered the food. There was not a lot of it. You need a little liquid for the pasta to cook.
  8. When pasta almost done to your liking, add the seasonings and give it a good stir.

That’s it. It was an easy meal, and was pretty tasty!

Tips

  • Use whatever vegetables you have on hand. Harder veggies might require more cook time. If this is the case, add it as soon as the meat is cooked and wait to add the pasta.
  • Macaroni, spaghetti, or other pastas could also be used.
  • Try different seasonings if you’d like.
  • Try different types of meat. Leftover roast or sausage, or whatever you have on hand.
  • Look for pasta on sale, and use a coupon when possible. Check your favorite pasta company’s website to see if they offer coupons, check the weekend papers, or try a coupon swap. This is a great way to save money.

Suggestions

Stay healthy and safe, my friends.

~ Shannon

 

 

 

Smashed, Roasted Potatoes

Sometimes it’s just easier to do everything in one pan. Seems I dirty far more dishes when I am home all the time, and I really don’t like washing them once used. So I have taken to making more skillet and baking dish meals so I can keep up with the dishes. Also, I might be guilty of eating straight from the pan sometimes. Maybe. 😉  I mean, it is just me here.

This turned out to be a delicious meal.

Smashed, Roasted Potatoes

1 yellow potato

1 sweet potato

2 baby red potatoes

1 carrot

almond oil

1/2 can of peas, with 2 tbsp of the liquid (or water if using fresh or frozen peas)

a few pinches of dried parsley

a few pinches of dried oregano

sea salt

baked kale chips

  • Wash all the potatoes and the carrot, and pat dry with a towel.
  • Cut out any bad parts, cut the top off the carrot, and chop what is left into bite size pieces. (Yes, I eat the peels from them all.)
  • Place these in a small baking dish with a tablespoon or so of almond oil and a few grinds of salt. Mix it all up, and put into the oven at 350* for about 1 hour, or until they carrots and potatoes are cooked to your liking.
  • Remove from oven, and use a fork to smash the carrots and potatoes. You’re not mashing them all the way, just smashing them a bit.
  • Pour peas over these, and the 2 tablespoons of liquid.
  • Add the herbs, more salt if you like, and crush a few baked kale chips over the top.
  • Bake another 5 or 10 minutes, until the peas are warm.
  • Remove from oven and serve.

Tips

  • Use whatever potatoes and carrots you have on hand.
  • Switch up the seasonings if you’d like to use something else.
  • Use corn or green beans rather than peas if you want. Just remember the green beans may need more baking time.
  • Save money by using leftovers if you have them on hand.
  • Top with anything you like, such as sour cream or cheese, if you eat those things.

Suggestions

Be safe and well, my friends.

~ Shannon

 

Food Storage in My Small Space

It may seem, by reading some of my recent posts, that I am stocking up because of COVID-19 and the issues come with it, but that is not the case. I always stock up on many items with the income tax refund, and I had just bought a little refrigerator with a working freezer when all this was starting – at the time when everyone started crazily hoarding the toilet paper.

So naturally I had to fill the freezer. It isn’t even a big freezer. The only thing I did when I knew that the virus was going to be a huge thing in our state was buy two extra half-gallons of almond milk, two pounds of butter, popcorn kernels, and an extra dozen eggs. I also bought an extra pound of meat, and a large bunch of bananas. And there was still plenty of all of it left for many, many more people. I didn’t think things would last as long as people are saying it might.

I really didn’t need more than a few other items, and did my shopping accordingly. About a week later I went shopping with my sister for more immediate needs, like Airborne, a little fresh fruit, a few cans of food, and some other items. Still I did not go overboard.

I just spent two weeks at my house, and am only now finding that I need a few things. Not too much.

So, my food stockups are helping me.

  • I don’t eat huge amounts of meat, so I took and split a pound of ground beef, a pound of ground sausage, 3/4 of a kielbasa, and just over a pound of some stew beef into 20 servings.
  • I made 28 smoothie packs, that will make 2 servings each.
  • I froze some banana slices. I can use them for more smoothies later, or make some banana ice cream as a treat.
  • I organized the food I had bought previously for the purpose of stocking up. (I’d been waiting on the canning jars I’d ordered to arrive.

I am going to share a post about my organizing efforts in my little kitchen, but right now I just want to share how I am organizing the food I had been stocking up on. The shelves under my printer are actually part of the “living area” of my room, and lives between my two chairs. These shelves hold the items I have on back-stock, like the oats I always have on hand, and the napkins I bought as a backup for toilet paper – because people keep buying that stuff up!

The other shelf is in my “kitchen area” and is full of the stuff I use regularly. See how I used canning jars to organize a lot of what I have? It looks so much neater than having all those bags and partially used boxes.

The little jars hold organic spices and herbs. I recently went through all of my stash, and found that most things had expired. So I threw it all out and am starting anew. Right now I have whole cloves, ground cinnamon, fennel, thyme, and parsley. It takes a little time to stock up on herbs and spices, because it is an extra expense. This shelf is also where I store my sea salt, vanilla, frother, and dressing jars.

In the second picture, you’ll notice that I also store my oils on that shelf. And above is my store of teas. I have a lot. They also fill all three of those boxes. No, I didn’t buy them to hoard, haha. People buy me teas at Christmas and my birthday. It’s the perfect gift for me! I never run out.

As you can see, I don’t have a lot of space for food storage. I do what I can. I feel confident that, even if I can’t get any food for the next few weeks, I will not go hungry. I may not always be able to eat the way I want, but I do have plenty of food.

Do you have to store food in an extra small space? Please share tips in the comments, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com.

~ Shannon

 

So Thankful for My Misfits Boxes

Things with Misfits Market have changed a little over the last few months. At least for me. I believe you have to be a member for at least a couple of weeks before you get these benefits. But this is what I am now able to do:

  1. Go in and choose most of the produce I receive, tailoring my orders to what I need.
  2.  Order add-ons, such as fresh herbs, snacks, oats, and more.

**** Note that I have switched from the big box of produce every other week to the smaller box every week, at least for now. Reason below.

I am following our governor’s stay-at-home request, for the most part. I do walk some days, steering clear of others. And I did have to visit two small stores after the first two weeks because I ran out of disinfectant and couldn’t order it anywhere. Also, none of my people were able to find any for me at any of the stores. It wouldn’t be as big of a deal as it is, if I didn’t rent a room in a house where I share the bathroom with others who are also renting here. And those people won’t clean the bathroom during normal times, so I can’t trust them to disinfect regularly now.

Since I am trying so hard to stay away from people right now, having told the neighbors to stay right away from me until this is over, I need to find other ways to get groceries and other necessities.

I can’t get grocery delivery from Wal-Mart or Hannaford because they don’t deliver to my area. Mind you, I live less than 15 minutes from both establishments.

Instacart won’t deliver to me because they do not accept prepaid cards, apparently. I’m not sure if this is all debit cards, or just the unemployment one. Either way, I can’t get any of these places to deliver groceries to me.

So I decided to do an online order for pickup at one of the stores. My daughter Skye would pick it all up for me, and drop my groceries off to me at my porch. But none of the stores have any time slots available.

Great. 😦

Now, I’ve been home – not working – for just over two weeks, and I do need a few things. Not a lot, because I stocked up when income tax refunds came in. But I am almost out of milk and a few other things that I do need.

We have decided that Skye will try shopping for me the next time she goes. First, she has to come all the way into Orono to get my card and list, and then go back to Bangor to do the shopping, and then come all the way back to Orono to drop my stuff off, then go back to Bangor where she lives. I feel bad, but I don’t have any other way to get what I need.

So this is what I did to make it easier on her:

  • I ordered a few more things from Amazon: A 6 pack of 32 ounce almond milk, Paleo crackers, Paleo chocolate date spread. The latter two are for snacks. I will reorder those items in a couple of weeks if the need be. Bit as long as Skye can pick me up almond or coconut milk at the store I won’t use these ones. They will store until I can’t access milk. This way, she won’t have to stress if she can’t get her momma the milk.
  • I went in and changed my Misfits Markets box from one big box every other week to one smaller box every week, so I can have more of a variety, and I can be sure I have fresh produce coming in every week if nothing else.

I’m seriously hoping I can keep doing this, but no one can say for sure if things will ship the further we get into this virus stuff. But we shall see.

I am so thankful for these Misfits boxes right now. Having fresh produce to work with is making this lock-down so much easier. And I am freezing what I can, to at least have frozen versions of some things if I can’t get it fresh at some point.

How about you? Are you able to get the food you need? How are you holding up? Any concerns? Helpful tips? Comment below, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com.

~ Shannon

 

 

 

Orange Smoothie

Spring is here! I love smoothies, especially during the spring and summer months. I make my smoothies super healthy, so as to nourish my body and my soul each time I have one.

A new, and interesting, tidbit of information I learned is that orange peels are edible, and can be put into smoothies. So what I did was cut the orange into quarters, and only peeled three quarters to test out the theory.

This easy smoothie only took a few minutes to prepare. Let me know what you think.

Orange Smoothie

1 small banana, peeled and sliced

1 small orange, quartered, 3/4 peeled, saved the peel in a covered container in the fridge for future smoothies.

unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 tsp pea protein powder

1 tsp ground flax seed

  1. Put a quarter of a cup of milk in the blender cup.
  2. Add banana slices.
  3. Add orange quarters.
  4. Add pea protein and flax seed.
  5. Add as much milk as you need to.
  6. Blend until all is smooth.

Tips:

  • You can also eat kiwi skins. Who knew? Certainly not me.
  • It’s important for your immune system to get plenty of Vitamin C.

Serving Suggestions:

Stocking Up

Every January I order stockup food, and I hope most of it will last until summer. I did this late last month and have noticed that much of the items are taking longer to get here than in previous years.

Anyone else notice their Amazon orders are taking longer than usual?

That’s not to say that some of the items didn’t come in after just a few days, but many others are taking two weeks or more to get here.

Anyway, I am also going to order canning jars from Wal-Mart, because that’s how I plan to store all the food I bought from Amazon. Usually I just leave things in there original packaging, but I think my food shelves will look better if I use the jars. And this will help in my organizing efforts as well.

So, I’ve ordered these items:

3 pounds Organic Almond flour

4 pounds Organic Coconut flour

.02 pound Sea Salt

8 ounces Cacao Powder (Trying this for the first time.) (Will buy more if I like it.)

14 ounces Ground Flax Seed

10 ounces Slivered Almonds

4 pounds Organic Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

2 Paleo Pancake Mixes (Trying this for the first time.) (Will buy more if I like it.)

2 packages Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips (Will not last until summer.)

56 ounces Organic Coconut Oil

16 ounces Organic Maple Syrup (Will not last until summer.)

3 pounds Raw Honey

3 small jars Almond Butter

3 jars Cocoa Bliss

At the grocery store, I bought: (These will not last until summer)

2 dozen eggs

Organic Almond Oil (Trying this for the first time.)

Sesame Oil (Trying this for the first time.)

5 pounds Potatoes (Trying this for the first time.)

2 pounds Butter

1 bag Organic Popcorn Kernels

1 pound Ground Beef

1.25 pound Stew Beef

1 pound Ground Sausage

From Misfits Market

Fresh Organic Parsley to dry (This will not last until summer.)

1 Organic Fennel, drying the herb part

1 Whole Cloves package Organic

1 Organic Cinnamon

It was a pretty penny for all of this, for sure, but I used my income taxes to pay for it. Like I said, I do this every year, then I replace items as I use them. Eating mostly organic does cost more, and I don’t pretend to eat organic all the time. I do the best I can, when I have the money. I also live alone, and am only buying food for myself. And my Misfits Market organic produce doesn’t cost much more than regular produce at Wal-Mart.

I feel good about having a good stock of food, and can’t wait to get it all organized on the shelves.

I am trying to get back to the healthy eating, at 80% of my food intake being Vegetarian/Paleo/Whole30. Super healthy most of the time. Having these items on hand will be helpful.

Most of my food dollars for the next 4 or 5 months will be spent on fresh produce.

What does your healthy pantry look like?

~ Shannon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Favorite Kitchen Tools: Reusable Sandwich & Snack Bags

I’m not perfect by any means, but I do like to try to tread somewhat lightly on this Earth. I am learning new ways to do this often enough to feel like I’m making a little bit of a difference. Being eco-friendly is important. I’m happy as can be that come April here in Maine everyone will be expected to bring reusable bags with them to the store, I now have stainless steal straws at my house, and I signed up for a monthly MightyFix by Mighty Nest more than a year ago. (Yes, that is an affiliate link, because I use their products and love them! I will be compensated if you click on the link and sign up.)

Because I signed up for this service ($11.00 per month at the time of this posting.), I’ve been introduced to some great products. Many times the item they have sent has even been worth more than that $11.00 and, because I am a member, I get discounts on anything else I buy from them.

I don’t like to spend all kinds of money on cheaply made things, but I don’t mind paying for things of good quality – especially when a discount is offered.

These baggies are two of my top favorite things in my kitchen right now, and I use them when packing my meals for work. I pack for four meals during my weekend shifts, and find these super helpful. I don’t make sandwiches, so the larger bag is used for other foods. The snack baggie is the perfect size for trail mix.

You could also use them for sweet potato chips, Paleo crackers,  throat lozenges when you are sick, Paleo cookies, and more. I have used the snack baggie for my vitamin C tablets during the winter months, and kept them in by tote bag so I always had some near.

Once I learn how to make Paleo sandwich bread, I will be using the bigger baggie for that purpose. These come in handy for school/work lunches, hikes, day trips, and more.

Sign up for MightyFix and get a surprise in your mailbox. (Again, this is an affiliate link. See above note.) It’s like a present every single month.

Do you use these types of baggies? What are your experiences with them? And, if you shop through MightyNest, let us know your experiences with that.

~ Shannon

Building Memories: Baking with My Grandson

Oh how I love this Little Man. ❤ My grandson is a big helper, and he has mad stirring skills! Just look at him. Little Man likes to help in the kitchen sometimes, so I asked him if he would want to help me bake some chocolate zucchini cake.

I needed to make some for my coworkers, and told him I’d leave a cake at his house as well. He was good with helping so, while his mom was looking for a job not long after they moved to the area, Little Man and I baked.

He was so good about washing his hands. I measured out all of the ingredients and he showed me his crazy good dumping skills.

Little Man was very impatient while spreading the cream cheese frosting. I’d put a scoop on the cake, he’d move the butter knife over it once, then stick his hand through the frosting and into the cake to taste it. What a goober! I had to finish that part on my own.

We chatted about a lot of things while we were making this cake, and we laughed so much. I’ll always cherish our baking time. The memories will, hopefully, stay with me forever.

Little Man is a hoot to bake with. We’ll be making a chocolate mayonnaise cake with peanut butter frosting next. I know these things are not healthy, but they are a nice treat once-in-a-while, and my coworkers appreciate a treat on occasion.

Shannon

I’m Picky about Cooked Veggies, But I Love them Raw!

Okay, I do like some vegetables cooked. Mainly things like peas and potatoes – of course, I like white potatoes raw as well as cooked. I’m aware that it is said to be, nutrient-wise, better to eat certain vegetables cooked, but I just can’t stomach most of them that way.

I can only eat carrots cooked if they are mashed in with white or sweet potato, or shredded into chili or meatloaf.

So, you see, I really am picky. But…

…I eat a lot of raw veggies. I do different things with them, so I’m not always eating the same things.

  • I make veggie jars.
  • I love salads.
  • I make wraps, veggie and otherwise.
  • I always get or make vegetable platters for parties.
  • I have always loved stuffed celery. My sister makes it for me, stuffed with peanut butter, for get-togethers – because she loves me. I also like them stuffed with almond butter.
  • I like to snack on raw cabbage. Just raw cabbage. Yum.
  • Pickled beats are amazing.
  • I like to add vegetables to smoothies. Not just greens. I’ve also put carrots, broccoli, celery, and cucumber in them. I’ll likely try other veggies in them as well.
  • I like to add extra vegetables to meals as well, such as shredded sweet potato to meat loaf or chili. Or making a shepherd’s pie by layering beef or chicken, peas, white potato, sweet potato, and squash. Sometimes I use fruits and vegetables interchangeably. They’re both so good for you!

I am aware that some of my tactics are a form of manipulation, and I think it is funny that I can do that to myself successfully. What can I say? I am good! LOL

Are you a picky eater? How are you getting your vegetables in?

Shannon

I’d Like to See More Foods Packaged for Singles

I don’t need family size packages of food now that it’s just me at home. An already refrigerated quart of almond or coconut milk would be perfect. A package with just four slices of cheese. One-quarter pound of pre-packaged ground beef. Just enough for one or two meals for one would be perfect, without the jacked up prices because you’re buying less.

There is a little of this going on, but at a cost greater than with the bigger packages. You can get three string cheese for $1.00, but you’re going to spend more per string cheese than if you bought a package of 12. Why? I won’t eat 12 string cheese quickly enough to warrant that purchase; some would go to waste.

Let’s talk spinach. It comes in a big package, and half of it goes to waste before I can use it all. Why not offer the single person half the quantity for half the price. Help a girl out.

Seriously. A girl could eat healthier more consistently if she could get half the amount for half the price. So she can have more variety. How about letting me choose how much fresh spinach I want to buy, like when I buy my cucumbers, apples, and pears.

But please, don’t make me have to pay more to get just what I need. If you can package three cucumbers for a dollar, why do I have to pay $0.68 cents just for one. I mean, it should be cheaper just because there is no packaging.

Just some ponderings from a girl who wants to save money on her grocery bill.

Have a great winter.

Shannon