Saturday, March 26, 2016

Bare Essentials Challenge: Weekly Recap

Okay, I'd like to take this opportunity to pat myself on the back *pat* as I have actually  managed to stick to my menu plan this week!  Completely!  No variations!  Okay, well one.  We didn't have any leftovers to eat on leftover night, so we ended up having BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans instead :).  And I didn't make the cookie bars this week as we ended up not really feeling like dessert a couple of nights and the cherry pie has been more than enough to keep us occupied the rest of the time (I made it early).

So, here's a quick recap of what we ate this week (for any recipe links up check out the "Menu Plan" link on the side of the blog and check out this week's menu).

1.  Best Ever Banana Crumb Muffins 

Okay, I've been eating these for breakfast all week and I have to say they are really good!  Biggest complaint I have is that my daughter won't even try them and my husband never seems to eat muffins compared to banana bread, so I've been eating them pretty much on my own.  I'm thinking the last six are going to have to go into the freezer tonight as I'm getting kind of tired of eating muffins every  morning.

2.  Honey Garlic Slow Cooker Chicken Night

I forgot to take a picture of this, but it was also really good.  Even my husband said it was decent, which he's pretty tired of chicken, so I'd say that's a pretty good endorsement.  I kept it in the slow cooker a bit long, so it got kind of salty (to me), but my husband liked it.

3.  Balsamic Brown Sugar Rosemary Pork Chops

Right, so I deviated from the original recipe a bit on this.  Instead of cooking the chops in a cast iron skillet, I coated two pork steaks in the glaze (exactly as written except I used dried rosemary from my garden instead of fresh) and baked them till done.

The huge amount of brown sugar called for the in the recipe compared to balsamic kind of worried me when I read it, but I tried it anyway and tasting it before cooking the chops in it, it didn't taste too bad.  Unfortunately, once baked this recipe was WAY too sweet.  Like to the point I didn't want to eat my pork steak sweet.  My husband was smarter than me (he ate after my daughter and I were done) and he sprinkled balsamic vinegar over the steak until it tasted right.  He said after you did that it didn't taste bad.  So, word to the wise.  If you make this you might want to up the amount of vinegar in the glaze.

4.  Smothered Pork Chops Night

Per usual, these turned out really good.  I ate the rest for lunch the next day with some left over green beans (seen above there).   I'll share this recipe really soon as it's really easy to put together.

5.  Creamy Shrimp and Mushroom Pasta Night

The moment when you go to add canned shrimp to a sauce and then realize you grabbed a can of canned salmon instead and then you go into your pantry to discover that you are OUT of canned shrimp, so you dig around in your freezer, unearth a bag of smaller shrimp and have to add about 1/2 hour onto your cooking time as you heat up water and cook shrimp to add to your pasta and sauce.  It turned out good, anyway.  We just ended up eating later than I would have liked.  Instead of doing mixed veggies in cheese sauce I added a couple of handfuls of frozen peas that I had quickly heated up to the final product (not seen because I forgot to take the picture AFTER I'd added them like a smart person).  It worked well and my daughter even tried a few peas before she complained that she "was full of peas" (which means, "I don't like this and I don't want to eat anymore, but I still want dessert").  She ate a few more peas before she could have a few Andes mints for dessert, so at least she got some veggies down her (bwahahahahha!!!).

6.  Leftover Night.

And instead of leftovers we had BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans for dinner.  I didn't take a picture of that one.

7.  Extras/Pie!!!!

I was so proud of the cherry pie I made I had to share.  Remember the cherries I bought with the gift card my mother-in-law gave me for last Mother's Day (so, I would have bought them in May sometime).  I had put about 90% of them in the freezer because they were so ripe when I got them they didn't have much of a shelf life to them.  I found the bag of them in the freezer and decided to try my hand at making cherry pie from scratch, and that meant making my own cherry pie filling (the cherries had to be used up, so I thought this would be fun). I defrosted them and then pitted them and then I macerated them with some sugar and let them sit overnight.  That really didn't release much juice at all, surprisingly, so I ended up smashing them a bit with a potato masher to make a more traditional cherry pie filling texture to the final product (it needed more juice so you'd have more thick liquid in the pie).  I used Ultra Gel (a kind of super thickening corn starch that is approved to make pie filling for canning and such, which is why I own it.  It also thickens things up super quick so it fits my impatient nature sometimes *laugh*) to thicken the pie filling and then followed some basic directions in the Ball Book of Home Preserving for cherry pie filling, but way scaled down of course.  It worked well and made really yummy pie :).  Now I'm determined to find a decent deal on cherries so I can make some pie filling to can this year.

I even made the pie crust pretty (that's supposed to be a flower on there in case you are wondering.  I was a bit short on pie crust to make leaves on the stem, so it came out KIND of looking like a flower).
I am not good at making pie, so I was super proud of how it turned out.  I mean check out that filling!  It actually stays put =D.


  1. Sounds like there were no curve balls in your plans this week if you were able to stick to your menu plan. That's always a good thing!

    My daughter is not a huge muffin fan either...that is until I put chocolate chips in it. Suddenly the appeal factor goes way up! Funny how that happens. At least they freeze well and will make for a lovely treat or quick snack/breakfast another day.

    As for the pie, it does look really tasty! (So envious of your family right now...). I think pies are tricky to make because we just don't make them all the time. It seems to be all about "practice makes perfect" with them. You did a great job with this one.

  2. That pie looks amazing! Great job on sticking to your plan. I need to start doing a more deliberate plan now that I am working a bit more out of the home. I tend to prefer making it up as I go along, knowing what needs to be used up, but...that's not always effective when I get home at 7PM and am HUNGRY.

  3. I made some lemon poppy seed muffins this week. 18, in fact. They are almost gone because I have not baked anything for quite a while around here. This week ended up being a good week to get a few things made, for once. But, normally, my crew doesn't eat very many, unless I put chocolate chips in, either. I use the mini ones and it doesn't take very many to make it look like there are a lot in there:) They are good in banana and pumpkin muffins.

  4. My dh would have been thrilled with the pie. Usually only make one for his birthday and Thanksgiving. Cheryl

  5. Oh the extra-the pie!!! Looks wonderful!