It’s been almost a year since I retired and I’ve learned a lot (I guess you’re never too old to learn new things)! For instance, if you make a 30/31 day meal plan, do all your shopping at once (except for milk, of course), it’s amazing how much money you save. Besides the fact that we live 25 miles from the nearest grocery store which is in a small town, so I like to take a day and head to a bigger city where there’s a Costco and a Fred Meyer! My meal plans consist of the main dish, and at least one side dish. I plan on having that meal two days in a row. I freeze any leftovers (I try to make just enough for two meals) to be eaten on a day when I just don’t feel like cooking! I also make sure I have enough ingredients in my pantry/freezer for deserts (i.e., Cowboy cookies, chocolate chip bar cookies, fruit or berry cobbler, etc.). And, of course, we have to keep peanutbutter (we had to switch to Skippy since Costco quit carrying Jiff but they really taste the same anyway) and Ritz crackers on hand for snacks! And graham crackers, too!
As I was going through my recipes, I came across the recipe for my mother-in-law’s apple crisp. Depending on the fruit I have, I occasionally change it up a little (i.e., this crisp had apples, pears and raisins). Jim insisted we buy pears one day and then he wouldn’t eat them so before they went bad they ended up in a crisp! This crisp was delicious!
One of my new all-time favorite recipes is Pioneer Woman’s cobbler recipe. It is so quick and easy. This one is peaches, but I’ve made it with blackberries, too!
Another one of Pioneer Woman’s recipes I use several times a month is her pizza dough. It is so easy, never fails and tastes so good! I found a really good recipe for pizza sauce on allrecipes.com. I make a batch and it will last for about 3 – 4 pizzas. I think margherita pizza is our favorite. This first pic I added browned hamburger and it was pretty dang good! The second pic I added hot Italian sausage on half the pizza for Jim. He loved it. I use Costco’s Bel Gioioso sliced fresh mozzarella. It comes in a two pack and I can usually make 3 pizzas.
I’ve decided my favorite cookie is the cowboy cookie. It’s kind of a cross between an oatmeal cookie and a chocolate chip cookie – with butterscotch chips and walnuts thrown in the mix as well! I could make myself sick eating them! The recipe makes so many cookies, I can fill up my canister and still freeze about 6 quart size baggies full of cookies!
When we were first married, I decided to try my hand at making a pie. After Jim “compared” it to his mom’s (and not favorable to my pie crust I might add), I swore I would never make a pie again. After I retired, and started going through cookbooks, I watched Pioneer Woman making pie crust on her show for chicken pot pie. I wanted to make this recipe so I had to make her pie crust and guess what – it worked, tasted great and was flaky! The recipe made enough for two pies so I froze half of it (which she assured us it was perfectly fine to freeze pie dough). The pie I made with that crust was a pecan pie (I think pecan is my favorite pie ever). Obviously I had never made a pecan pie before. Oh dear, Jim & I ate it in three days! The second pie I made was key lime with meringue (I used a graham cracker crust already made but I think we prefer a regular pie crust and will make that for the next key lime pie). When we were in Key West last month I brought back some key lime concentrate. Jim said it was the best key lime pie he had ever eaten – needless to say I was pretty pleased with my efforts since I had never made meringue before either!
This summer, my neighbor told me I could have all the peaches I wanted off his tree. They didn’t want them and were just going to let them go to waste. I practically picked that tree bare. I froze several batches for peach cobbler. Then I made my all time favorite jam – peach! Even though it’s time consuming, I decided that homemade jam is so much better than store bought jam, yes, even Smuckers! All in all, I’ve made raspberry (for Jim and Tracy since I don’t like it), strawberry, peach and blackberry jams, and grape jelly (my other neighbor gave a couple flats of concord grapes but little did I know how much work it was to get those grapes ready for jelly making). This first pic, starting from left, is strawberry, blackberry and raspberry. The second pic is my peach jam. And the final pic is my grape jelly. I still have enough fruit/berries frozen to make 2 1/2 batches grape jelly, 2 strawberry jam, 1 blackberry jam and 3 peach jam! Holy cow, I better get busy if I want all this done before the holidays!
Another recipe from Pioneer Woman (hm, do I detect a theme here?) Jim & I absolutely love is her skillet cornbread. It is so good and the top and bottom are nicely browned. Mm mm good! Although we have decided that a regular batch is just too much (we don’t like leftover cornbread) so the next time I make it I’m cutting the recipe in half and using a smaller skillet.
If you don’t have Pioneer Woman’s cookbooks, you really need to go buy them. She has some wonderful recipes and I haven’t even tried half the ones I’ve marked!