Clapping On The Down Beat

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Secret short cuts May 13, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Meal Planning,Organization,Sharing and Caring,Step by step — clappingonthedownbeat @ 2:21 PM

I usually like soup for lunch, but with the weather warming up, sometimes I like a little variety.  Yes, salads are good, but even salads after a while get boring.

How about a Ploughman’s Lunch?

If you like to nibble or snack, this is a great lunch.  It is a English “farmer’s lunch”.  It can consist of hard boiled eggs, cold cuts, bread, crackers, cheese, fruits (fresh or dried), vegetables, dips/spread and nuts.

Starbucks even has some bistro boxes that look like a ploughman’s lunch.

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I love Machego cheese, crackers, apples, cashews or almonds, hummus, carrots…..the list goes on.

Here’s a quick trick to hard boiled eggs.  I take a muffin tin, either 6 cup or 12 cup, and place an egg in each one.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Bake the eggs for 30 minutes and then place immediatly into an bowl of ice water.  Let them cool 5-10 minutes and then store in the fridge.


We also eat a lot of oatmeal.  I buy a 7lb bag of steel cut oats at a time.  I can grind up my own oat flour or eat oatmeal.  Steel cut oats take a long time to cook, so to short cut a breakfast, I bring 3 cups water to boil in a pot in the evening.  When I it boiling I add 1 cup steel cut oats, turn the burner off, and cover the pot.  I let it sit overnight.  In the morning, I add 1/2c. milk and heat up the oatmeal.  It’s creamy and perfect and makes for a hearty fast breakfast.  I have one who likes to stire in peanut butter, one who likes raisins and I like dried fruit and a little granola.



Leftovers February 29, 2016

Filed under: Meal Planning,Organization,Saving Money — clappingonthedownbeat @ 5:43 PM

I try to get the most out of food.  No sense in throwing it away.  That’s what you’ll learn in culinary classes.  Restaurants can’t afford to throw away food.

I bought a rotisserie chicken on friday night.  Usually all the chicken gets eaten and then I will use the bones to make chicken stock.  But since it was just the boys friday, there was left over chicken.

Chicken and Dumplings.

I always have onions, carrots and celery.


I love the smell of butter, onions and celery cooking.  So in the pot went 1 small diced onion, 2 stalks celery diced and 2 carrots diced with 1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp olive oil.

From here you could actually go in a bunch of directions………


In another pot I dumped the leftover chicken and covered it with water (skin, bones meat and all).  I brought it to a boil, then down to a simmer for about 20 minutes.

I added 1 tsp thyme and 1/4 tsp ground tumeric to the vegetables.  Next I poured the chicken broth over the vegetables and pulled the meat off the bones.

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I added about 1/2 c. half and half (or you could use heavy cream- which is the same as heavy whipping cream- I get asked that a lot) I brought it up to a simmer for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile I made the dumplings.

-In college I cooked Kosher dinners for Hillel on campus.  A favorite was chicken matzo ball soup.  The best part- the matzo balls.  Many cultures have a dumpling type recipe and those are always the best part.

1 1/2 c. flour

1/2 c. corn meal

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

Stir with a wire whisk.  Add 1 1/2 c. half and half or milk


With two spoons, scoop dough into soup pot. Give the dumplings a little stir and cover with a lid, simmering about 20 minutes on LOW.

Dinner’s ready!





Lazy Meals February 2, 2016

Filed under: Meal Planning,Organization,Parenthood — clappingonthedownbeat @ 7:29 PM

It takes me a little while to get back into the swing of the routine after a vacation.  I like to keep the pantry stocked with a few basics so I can pull together “lazy” or quick meal.  I love soup, so here is a rendition of Pasta Fagioli done the lazy way.  It’s a creamy bean and pasta soup.


I usually have dried beans and some canned beans in the pantry along with lots of canned tomatoes.  You’ll need 2 cans of great nothern beans or cannellini beans.  In a blender dump one can of beans and 1 cup of water and puree.  Set aside.

In a large pot, add 1/4 c. olive oil and 3 chopped garlic cloves (I usually add 5- I like my garlic).  Stir the garlic around and let it soften, but not brown.  Then add 2 Tbsp flour.  Stir the flour and let it cook for about 2 minutes, again do not brown the flour, just cook out the “flour taste”.  Next add 8 cups of water, 2tsp salt, a pinch of red pepper flakes, 1 sprig of fresh rosemary (if you have it) and the bean puree.  Bring to a boil and let simmer 20-30 minutes.  Allow soup to thicken.

Next add a can of tomatoes- either diced or whole.  If they are whole tomatoes, crush them in your hands.  Add the second can of beans and 2 cups of ditalini (or another small shaped pasta) and simmer for 10-12 minutes till pasta is cooked.  I stir frequently so the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom.  Fish out the rosemary sprig and toss it.

Serve.  Creamy, comforting, lazy, soup.


I’ve posted before- but Monte Cristo sandwishes are always a hit and quick to make.  I explain to my kids that if a turkey sandwich and french toast had a baby, it would be a Monte Cristo.


I make the sandwiches first.  I like texas toast- thick white bread slices.  You can really build any sandwich you like.  I usually do mayo, turkey, swiss and a little dijon.  I wisk up 4 eggs and dip both sides of the sandwich in and then place on a butter skillet or griddle.  Toast both sides.  Traditionally, it;s served with powdered sugar and jam- but I don’t usually go that far.



Why is this lazy?  I really like Croque Monsieur- but it has more steps and you pour a cheese sauce over, its gets broiled ……..*sigh*  and this is the lazier version.





2016 New Year January 4, 2016

Filed under: Organization — clappingonthedownbeat @ 2:40 PM

There is nothing like a fresh start.

I am planning on a more regular routine now that I have finished classes for the culinary arts degree and 350 hours of internship are over.

So, what is the first thing on my list ( yes, I am a list maker).  Clean.

When is the last time you cleaned your fridge?  I mean emptied it all out, washed the shelves and walls and drawers (and freezer), check expiration dates and dumped stuff?

If it is overwhelming, break it into steps.  I started with my freezer drawer.


I bought some plastic baskets at the dollar store to help oragnize.


Then, what was going back into the freeer was labeled AND dated (food does not last forever)


I have cheddar cracker dough that is rolled into a log and then frozen for easy slicing (think homemade cheese-its), cookie dough that I scoop on to trays and freeze then place in a zip lock bag (easy to bake off a few at a time), saffron rice, and frozen cranberries.

Freezer drawer was wiped down with a warm soapy sponge and sanitized with a vinegar/water mixture.

Then on to the fridge doors and shelves and even the garage fridge.

I always feel better when I can see what I have and when it needs to be used up.  This also makes trips to the grocery store easier because I am not buying what I already have buried deep at the bottom or back of the fridge.

I try to do this whole deep clean 2x a year, at the beginning of the year (after Christmas) and in the summer usually before we go on vacation- its a good time to clean out and empty the fridge if your going to be gone for a while.


Plan Ahead January 21, 2015

Filed under: Interests,Meal Planning,Organization,Sharing and Caring — clappingonthedownbeat @ 9:34 PM

School started this week and I have 4 classes this semester and I am working part time.  I have to plan meals out for the week or we will be eating sandwiches everyday.  I decided that it will be easier to use my crockpot at least once if not twice a week and then prep out and cook meals two nights and then have a leftover night.  Here is what I planned for this week:

Monday: Baked ziti

Tuesday: Crock pot honey chicken with broccoli and rice

2 lbs chicken thighs (I removed the skin and cut into chunks)
1 cup honey
½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
½ tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp canola oil
3  minced garlic cloves
1/2 small onion minced
¼ cup ketchup
a pinch crushed red pepper (more if you can handle spice)

6 tbsp cold water
2 tbsp cornstarch
Sesame seeds
Green onions, sliced
Cut chicken into 1 to 1½ inch cubes and put into Crock Pot.
Mix together honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, oil, garlic, onion, ketchup  and crushed red peppers in a small bowl.
Pour the sauce mixture over the chicken and stir to coat.
Cook on low for 3½ to 4 hours.
Remove the chicken from the Crock Pot while reserving the sauce.
Mix together the cold water and cornstarch and stir into the sauce.
Heat the  sauce, stirring constantly, until thickened. This only takes a couple of minutes.
Add chicken to sauce.
Serve over rice. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and sliced green onions. We had steamed broccoli as a side.

Wednesday: Cabbage and dumplings

Chop a head of cabbage into bite sized chunks.  Add 4 Tbsp butter to a large skillet and heat on low till butter melts.  Add cabbage and increase heat to medium high.  Sprinkle salt on cabbage and stir frequently till cabbage is wilted and soft.  Add sliced smoked sausage or kielbasa.  For the dumplings: mix 2 eggs, 1/2 c. water, salt/pepper.  Add 1 1/2 c. flour and mix till combined.  If too dry add a little more water.  Drop small spoonfuls (about a teaspoon) into salted boiling water and then give the water a stir once all teh dumplings are in.  Dumplings are done when they come to the surface.  Scoop out dumplings and add to the cabbage.  Adjust seasoning (salt/pepper/onion powder) Serve.


Thursday: Au ju sandwiches

In crockpot place thinly sliced ribeye, 1 onion thinly sliced and 4 cups beef stock.  Heat on low 4-6 hours.  Serve on crusty rolls.

Friday: Leftovers


Resolution 2015: write more posts…….. January 5, 2015

Filed under: Interests,Organization,Parenthood,Sharing and Caring,Yoga — clappingonthedownbeat @ 8:48 PM

Monday: 1/5/2015   7:42pm

I took my last shower of the week tonight.

It’s not like I am drastically conserving water and giving up personal hygiene.  I’ll go back to the fall……

I started having pain in my shoulder when doing chaturanga in yoga class.  So I cut back on the push-ups.  Then I tweaked my shoulder lifting a basket at work.  After some muscle relaxers, a cortisone shot and an MRI later, I found out Christmas Eve that I had a tear in my rotator cuff.  Merry Christmas to me.

Well, we had a ski trip planned and I decided to have the surgery when we came back.  I took it easy, and we all had a great time.  Kids were up and skiing down the mountain in a day and a half.


So getting back to the shower.  I had my pre-op appointment today to go over the details.  It became a quality of life issues.  I really don’t like to live in pain, so I’d rather have this fixed.  Plus I have 4 classes this semester and it will be difficult trying to cook with one arm in a sling.  The sooner the better.

As I am tying up loose ends for the family- checking that everyone has rides arranged to get where they need to go, the pantry is stocked, I take my shower of the week- I begin to get a little excited.  Last time I had surgery, to remove my tonsils ( I wrote a post on the nasty tonsils and sickness that lead to that surgery……) I had a week of rest time.  I am actually looking forward to a week of no work, no responsibilities, just rest time.  Which of course I will need for good healing.

I prepared 2 soups for the week to have on hand.  I especially love soup.  Here is one of the recipes:

Greek Bean Stew

In a little olive oil sauté 1 diced onion till soft.  Add 3 cloves chopped garlic and 1 tsp salt.  Stir and sauté about 3 minutes.  Add 1 Tbs tomato paste, 1 Tbs greek seasoning (oregano, rosemary, parsley, thyme), a few dashes of pepper and either 4-5 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock, 4 cups chick peas ( 2 drained and rinsed cans).  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Take out half the soup and puree.  Add puree back to soup and squeeze in the juice of 1-2 lemons based on your taste.  Enjoy!


I’ll post how the surgery went tomorrow!


The Replacements October 26, 2012

Filed under: Interests,Organization — clappingonthedownbeat @ 2:22 PM

I was cleaning out some purses I had in my closet and you know what I found?  Tubes of some of my favorite lip glosses.  However, I have no idea how old they were.

I am really good at cleaning out my entire fridge (yes, I dump everything) at least once a year.  I wash it out frequently.  But what about the makeup bag?  I always tell myself I will write on my mascara tube the date I opened it, so I know when to dump it, but I haven’t been as diligent.  So today I am starting fresh and dumping the mascara and blush, sharpening my eye pencils, tossing the collection of make-up items I really don’t use, and cleaning all my brushes.  It’s a new season anyway.

Here are some good guideline to keep your makeup safe.

(1) Liquid foundations and concealers should be replaced every six months.

(2) Lip glosses and lipsticks can last anywhere from 18 months to two years. Keep a watchful eye on your favorite hues — if you notice an off smell or taste, toss them in the trash and treat yourself to a new tube!  Pots or anything ou stick your finger into become a bacteria breeding ground.

(3) Powdered blushes and bronzers are good for six to nine months. The key here is to replace your brushes and applicators when you replace your compacts. If you prefer using a nicer set of brushes that you splurged on, you don’t need to toss those, but make sure they get a thorough washing at least every nine months.

(4) Sunscreens should be replaced every year.  The older they are the more they loose their potency and effectiveness.

(5) Mascara is one of the most common places for bacteria to live, because of its wet nature. If you use it only for special occasions, you can replace your tube every six months. If you wear it daily, you’ll want to swap yours every three months.

(6) For the liquid eyeliner lovers, use the same rule of thumb as replacing your mascara — every three months. Toss eyeliner pencils if they are older than two years. Keeping your eyeliners sharpened will help them stay fresh longer.

I hate to admit this, but I just threw out a hair brush ( I think I have had since HS) since the bristles were falling out!

(7) Replacing your hairbrush depends on how much stress you are putting on it. If you notice the bristles getting softer, it’s probably time for a new one.  You should replace your toothbrush at least every three months.