The Poorman's Meal #Sponsored by OXO

A few weeks ago I talked about how to regrow green onions using nothing but leftover onions, a glass, and some water. It's a great way to stretch things a little further in kitchen and hardly requires any work at all. Today I thought it was time for my next tip: how to reduce kitchen waste, especially from produce that isn't being used up quickly enough.

Let's face it, we've all been there. Sometimes you have an over abundance of food from the garden or a recent shopping trip and sometimes you just plain forgot you had something and it's starting to look a little sorry. I frequently find myself in this situation, so every other week I make a dish I've always known as The Poorman's Meal. I'm sure it has a billion and one other names, but that's what I've always known it as, so we'll just keep the name for now (even though it's probably not politically correct.)

This dish consists of whatever odds and ends I have on hand that are starting to get old. In our case it's usually some really wrinkly bell peppers, onions and potatoes that have started sprouting, and the last sausage in the package that I've forgotten to use up. The nice thing about this meal is that there is no recipe. I've seen it made with green beans and bacon instead of sausage and peppers, you just toss whatever leftovers you have in a skillet, cook them up, and season it with a little salt, pepper, and garlic. This meal couldn't possibly be easier and it's a great way to reduce your kitchen waste while spending only a trivial amount of time actually cooking. 

Don't forget to keep reading after the recipe for a quick review of a great tool from OXO that will help you on your quest to reduce waste in your kitchen. 

Want more tips for using up your leftovers? Make sure to check out our posts for Southern-Style Sawmill Sausage Gravy (to use up expired milk) and Banana Split Bread (for brown bananas.)

DISCLOSURE:  Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of Chef’s Mandoline Slicer 2.0 Campaign, through the blogger outreach program. They have provided me with a mandoline for evaluation, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

DISCLOSURE: Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of Chef’s Mandoline Slicer 2.0 Campaign, through the blogger outreach program. They have provided me with a mandoline for evaluation, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

The Poorman's Meal
makes approximately 3 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon salted butter
1 large potato, cut into ¼ inch thick slices
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
6 - 8 ounces sausage (I use Andouille)
sea salt, black pepper, and garlic, to taste

Directions

  • In a saucepan melt butter. Add sliced potato, bell pepper, onion, and sausage. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, flip the potatoes so they brown on both sides, then cook for an additional 10 - 15 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Season with sea salt, black pepper and garlic powder before serving.

Notes

If you find you're out of one of the ingredients listed, try substituting the missing ingredient for something you do have. I've seen this made in a number of different ways and it's always been tasty. If you want a real treat, trying making it with maple sausage links instead of the andouille, fry or scramble some eggs, then serve it as breakfast for dinner. This is one of those meals that's tasty any time of the day.

OXO Chef's Mandoline 2.0 | Not Starving Yet

Review

 

OXO Good Grips Chef's Mandoline Slicer 2.0:

When I talk about reducing waste in the kitchen the first thing that springs to mind for most people is food waste. The simple truth is this: most people toss a good portion of the groceries they purchase each week. Often times it's leftovers that have gone uneaten or produce that has spoiled before it could be used. This translates into a lot of money that goes straight into the landfill. This wasted food and money is one of the reasons I make sure to incorporate dishes like the poor mans's meal into our menu rotation frequently—it cuts down on one form of the waste I frequently see in our kitchen.

Now I want to give you a little food for thought—food isn't the only thing that people waste when they're cooking. Time is another thing that is frequently wasted, but it's not something most people stop to consider.

If you're anything like me then you've probably wasted plenty of time standing at the fridge wondering what to cook. You've also likely wasted time searching for missing ingredients in your disorganized pantry or making last-minute trips to the store because you've discovered half way through a recipe you're missing a key ingredient. Anyone who has cooked a meal has been there, but what you may not realize is that you've also been wasting time by using tools that aren't quite up to the job at hand. This may sound like common sense, but having the right tool for the job can save a lot of time and that extra 15 minutes you save by using a more efficient tool can make the difference between a home cooked meal and ordering takeout for the third night in a row because you're too tired to cook.

That said, I've actually been a naysayer when it comes to using some of these time-saving tools in my kitchen. I don't have a large kitchen, so every tool I own needs to be a multi-tasker and it needs to perform well. To date I've not had a good experience with using a mandoline as the one I've own for years is a bit of a heath-hazard. The blade is always falling out and at one point took a huge chunk out of my hand that resulted in a trip to urgent care. Early in our marriage my poor husband came home to an unlocked apartment with a trail of blood leading clear across it, then discovered I was no where to be found. I was at urgent care receiving nearly 15 stitches while he wondered how an axe murdered got into the apartment.

After that I tucked the mandoline away and went back to using a knife, which works well for most tasks, but it's not always the most efficient way to cut up a huge pile of potatoes or vegetables (especially if you want them thinly and evenly sliced.) 

When OXO offered to send me the new version of their chef's mandoline I was curious to see how it differed from the model I had from their competition. The first change I noticed is that the blades are permanently stored in the mandoline, you'll still need to slide them out to adjust the type of cut you want, straight or crinkle, but they're locked in to place firmly and won't fall out. Even fine-tuning the thickness of your slices is simple—there's a red slider bar that adjusts in 0.5-mm intervals allowing a paper thin cut or something thicker like I used for today's recipe. You can even make julienne, waffle, and French fry cuts with the turn of a knob. The easy adjustment knob and the blades that stay put solved the two biggest pet peeves I had when using a mandoline. It was incredibly easy to set the thickness I want and produce a pile of potatoes that were uniform in size and therefore cooked evenly.

A mandoline may not be for everyone, but there are certain times when using one is much faster—especially if you have a huge pile of potatoes, zucchini, squash, or onions that you need to cut into uniform slices. If you find yourself performing this task on a regular basis, then it's definitely a time saving tool you may want to consider for your kitchen. 

Where to Purchase


OXO Good Grips Chef's Mandoline Slicer 2.0: Find it on Amazon or purchase it directly from OXO

Disclosure


This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Purchases made through these links provide me with a small income and ensure I can continue providing you with quality content.

Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of the Chef’s Mandoline Slicer 2.0 Campaign through the blogger outreach program. They have provided me with a mandoline for evaluation, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

Mini Pumpkin Pies - Do the Little Monster Mash with @OXOTot #Sponsored

The past few months have been busy, so it's no huge surprise that the holidays have snuck up on me. I'm not sure where the time went, but there's only a week until Thanksgiving and I haven't even planned our menu yet. I'll admit I'm a little out of practice at menu planning, it's been years since we've stayed home for a holiday, which is why I've spent the past few days trying to get a handle on what I want to serve so I can write up the mile-long shopping list that generally accompanies one of my fabulous feasts.

Rather than save the best for last I decided to tackle our dessert spread first. We'll likely have a handful of children around the table so I've decided make a healthier version of our holiday favorites, starting with these mini pumpkin pies. OXO has once again sent us some tools from their OXO Tot line, so make sure to keep reading after the recipe for our full review of the products we used during the development of this recipe.

Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of the Little Monster Mash OXO Tot blogger outreach campaign. They have provided me with a set of tools from their OXO Tot line, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of the Little Monster Mash OXO Tot blogger outreach campaign. They have provided me with a set of tools from their OXO Tot line, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

Mini Pumpkin Pies for Tots

makes 6 servings


 


The great thing about this recipe is that it's flexible, you can easily adjust the ingredients as your little one grows. For younger children feel free to remove the butter (but not the milk) and scale back on the spices. The cooking time will be the same, but it will change the final texture. Older children love a little sugar mixed in, extra pumpkin pie spice, and a fun topping. To get them involved make sure to let them decorate their own mini "pie".

Ingredients


15 ounces canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or more to taste)

optional toppings

whipped cream
crushed graham crackers
maple syrup
leftover pie crust scraps (dipped in cinnamon sugar then baked)

 

Directions
 

 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. In a bowl combine pumpkin, melted butter, milk, eggs, and pumpkin pie spice, then blend until smooth. Spoon mixture into OXO's glass baby blocks or another 4 ounce oven-safe container and bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until the top is a light golden brown. Make sure not to fill past the 3 ounce marker-line so you have room for expansion as the eggs bake.

Don't forget, you'll need to adjust the baking time if your containers are larger than 4 ounces.

  • Serve immediately with one of the optional toppings listed above or allow to cool on a wire rack for an hour, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Notes

 

This recipe makes slightly more than will fit in the OXO Tot glass blocks. Rather than scale the recipe down to fit in 4 containers I like to put the extra in a small oven-safe dish, add a bit of sugar (either white, brown, or both) and bake it along side the kid-friendly "pies". This way I have a small treat to eat during nap-time or later in the day when I need a sweet pick-me-up that won't leave me feeling guilty. 

A note on freezing:

Because this is technically a custard pie it will likely start to separate in the freezer, so while you can freeze it the texture will change and may not be appealing to a picky little one. I would do a test freeze and thaw of a single container to make sure your little one won't balk at the change in texture.

Want more great ideas to help you feed your tot? Check out our recipes for Easy Crockpot Applesauce, Gingerbread Applesauce, and Homemade Spaghetti O's.

Make sure to keep reading for our OXO Tot product review!

Today we'll be looking at the Glass Baby Blocks, Food Masher, and Feeding Spoons from the OXO Tot line.

Product Review: OXO Tot Glass Baby Blocks, Food Masher, and Feeding Spoons

Review


Glass Baby Blocks

When my son was first starting on solids I tore the internet apart looking for small glass containers like this, but there really wasn't anything remotely similar on the market at the time. I eventually settled for a plastic set which has served me well over the past few years, but not all of the containers have held up to the abuses I've put them through (they eventually developed cracks in the bottom from being smashed in my diaper bag, which is why I was interested in a glass set in the first place.)

The bottoms of these blocks are made from borosilicate glass, which unlike plastic will never break down and can be taken straight from the fridge or freezer to the microwave or oven to be reheated as needed. You don't even need to defrost the food first, which is a huge plus when you're in a hurry (and let's be honest, when you have a screaming, hungry child you are always going to be in a hurry!)

What I really love about these containers is that they have a million and one uses beyond baby food. I use mine to store small amounts of chicken stock, fresh herbs in olive oil, leftover bits & bobs, and even salad dressing—the containers are leak-proof so they're great for tossing in lunch boxes. They're definitely not a one use product, which isn't something you can often say about a product designed for kids.

If you like the design, but aren't keen on using glass around your little one OXO does make a plastic version that comes in a variety of sizes.

Food Masher

At first I wasn't sure how much use I'd get out of the food masher, but I'm perfectly willing to admit when I'm wrong, there are some well-thought-out features included in the design that make this much more efficient than using a fork. First of all, the masher handle comes apart, so you can store everything inside the bowl allowing you to toss it in the diaper bag and go, without having to worry about bits of leftover food getting everywhere. This feature alone makes it worth the purchase price, I can't count the number of times I've tossed my mashing utensils in my diaper bag, leaving behind stray bits of food on my diapers and other whatnots. But the feature I really like are the teeth on the side of the masher, they make short work of stringy foods like sweet potato and I was able to have a nice smooth consistency in no time at all, which isn't always possible with a fork. This ended up being a real winner and as an added bonus it's really great at making small amounts of guacamole, so even after the baby is done with mashed food it's still useful in the kitchen.

Feeding Spoon Set with Soft Silicone

The soft silicone tip of this spoon is perfect for little ones just starting out with solid food and the material is gentle on the skin should you need to scrape stray bites off their face, neck, or belly (my kid can't possibly be the only one who has managed to get food stuck in his belly button, right?)


Where to Purchase


OXO Tot Glass Baby Blocks — OXO.COM or Amazon

OXO Tot Food Masher — OXO.COM (not yet available on Amazon)

OXO Tot Feeding Spoon Set with Soft Silicone — OXO.COM or Amazon

 

Disclosure


This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Purchases made through these links provide me with a small income and ensure I can continue providing you with quality content.

Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of the Little Monster Mash OXO Tot blogger outreach campaign. They have provided me with a set of tools from their OXO Tot line, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

Monster Mash with OXO Tot

Colcannon (Irish Mashed Potatoes with Kale)

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but I spent my first few years of school pursuing a degree in Computer Engineering—a seemingly odd choice for someone as artistically incline as me, but by the time I left for college I had already spent four years working in the computer industry. After that a degree in computer engineering seemed like the natural choice, but I quickly realized how much I hated it. No matter how hard I try I will never be mathematically inclined, so I dropped all of my classes and started researching art programs. This is how I finally landed at the University of Missouri  St. Louis (UMSL) pursuing degrees in both graphic design and photography.

Which, if you ask me, was a much better fit.

I don't regret my decision to jump ship mid-degree, even though it took me a few extra years to graduate since I only went back to school part-time. What I do regret is that I missed out on some really great parties, especially around St. Patrick's Day. You might not realize this, but St. Patrick is the patron Saint of Engineers. As a young college student I spent many a day drinking in St. Pats honor, a tradition that continued once I married a computer engineer. These days I try not to drink my weight in green beer, Guinness, and Bailey's (or whatever other God-awful green concoction someone would dream up as we ran out of "the good stuff") but I do still have a taste for more traditional Irish fare. My favorite dish is Colcannon, a potato-based dish consisting of fluffy mashed potatoes, butter, and kale or cabbage. It's perfect for St. Patrick's Day, but makes a pretty killer side-dish for Easter too. 

If you're looking for some other great ideas for your St. Patrick's Day celebration, don't forget to try our recipes for Reuben Salad with Rye Bread Croutons and Russian Dressing, it's a great way to use up your leftover corned beef!

Colcannon | Not Starving Yet

Colcannon
makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients

2.5lbs russet potatoes
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 cups kale, chopped
4 ounces Kerry Gold butter, salted
1/4 cup half and half
additional salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions

  • Place potatoes in a saucepan, add sea salt, and cover with 1 - 2 inches of cold water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and allow the potatoes to simmer in an uncovered pan for 30 - 50 minutes or until they are fork tender. Larger potatoes will need to be boiled longer, so I prefer to check mine around the 30 minute mark.
  • Bring a second pot of water to a boil, add 3 cups of chopped kale (ribs removed, and blanch for 3 - 5 minutes until the leaves are tender and bright green. Transfer the blanched kale to a colander and allow to drain completely.
  • Once the potatoes have finished cooking place them in an ice bath to cool, then slip the skins off with your hands. They should peel off fairly easily, if not place the potatoes back in the ice bath to cool longer or use a potato peeler.
  • In a large bowl combine potatoes, Kerry Gold butter, and half & half. Mash the potatoes until they've reached the desired consistency (I prefer to leave mine a little chunky) then add the blanched kale and additional salt, to taste. 

Notes

If you've used the ice bath method mentioned above to easily peel your potatoes you may need to reheat this dish before serving. 

This recipe is incredibly flexible. If you aren't a fan of kale feel free to substitute another leafy green or go the more traditional route and use cabbage.

Chicken Soup with Stars

This is one of those simple recipes that is guaranteed to make you feel better, no matter what ails you. Whether you're sick, tired, sick of being tired, tired of being sick, or just love a good bowl of soup—this is the recipe for you. It's not a miracle cure, but it's pretty darn close. You can make your broth from scratch or cheat a little and buy it at the store. No matter how you make it it turns out perfect every single time. If you have any left over it freezes well, so makes sure to keep some on hand for last minute company or when you don't feel like cooking.

Chicken Soup with Stars

Chicken Soup with Stars
makes approximately 6 - 8 servings

Ingredients

2-3 chicken leg quarters
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup baby carrots, sliced
1 cup celery, diced
32-64oz chicken broth (see notes)
7oz star pasta, either pastilla or stelline (see notes)
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions

  • Add chicken leg quarters, onions, carrots, celery, and 32 ounces of chicken broth to the crockpot, set to high, and cook for 3-4 hours or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.
  • Remove the cooked chicken and allow it to cool before shredding the meat. Return shredded chicken to the crockpot.
  • On the stove partially cook your star pasta. Since cooking time on the various shapes is different, cook your pasta for half the time stated on the package, drain, and add it to the crockpot to finish cooking.
  • Allow the soup to cook for an additional 30 - 60 minutes, or until the pasta has cooked completely and the carrots are no longer crunchy. Cooking time varies greatly between models of crockpot, so I suggest checking the soup periodically during the final step so you don't overcook the pasta.
  • Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste, as well as additional chicken broth as necessary (up to 32 ounces.) The partially cooked star pasta soaks up a lot of the broth while cooking, infusing it with flavor. Add the amount of broth you feel is necessary, you may not want to use the full 32 ounces.

Notes

This recipes calls for store bought broth because it's convenient, but I highly recommend making your own if you have the time. It's a fairly simple although somewhat time consuming process, however the results are definitely worth it.

To save time you can make this with leftover chicken, you'll need about 2 cups worth. I prefer to use chicken leg quarters as they're the least expensive cut of chicken sold in my area. I can usually pick them up for $0.49/lb where as a whole chicken usually runs about $1.19/lb.

This recipe is incredibly flexible, so add to it! Try adding fresh herbs or garlic to mix things up a bit. When it comes to chicken soup there is no wrong way.