My Rant on Expiration Dates

I recently ran out to the store because I didn’t have any ham to add to my split pea soup. I opted for the nearest grocery store, which is also the most crowded and most expensive.  I grabbed a package of diced ham, some fresh bread from the bakery and a few other things.

I had both kids in tow and all checkouts were busy, but we managed to get out of there and back home in time to finish dinner.  As I started to open the package I noticed the expiration date: May 12 2011.  Um, what?  That was over two weeks ago.  GRRRR!  I was so irritated that the one item I went to get was expired on the shelf.

Now, I understand that keeping a large inventory up to date is a lot of work for grocery stores.  And from time to time a few items may not get pulled right away.  But, I have to take exception with items in the meat area.  Meat is extremely perishable and stores are constantly marking down meat that is close to the package expiration date.  If it had only been a day or two expired I probably would have used it.  It was ham after all, fully loaded with nitrates and slow to go bad.  But two weeks?  That’s well beyond the my “gray area” for food expiration, especially for meat.

So what to do now?  Well, I saved that package in the fridge and I have considered taking it back to the store.  That’s really what I should do.  However, that is an extra trip to the store with two little kids.  Is it really worth the hassle?  I’ll have to check the receipt and see what I paid for my package of expired ham.

Quest for the perfect cinnamon roll

It’s the holiday season and that means baking and gift giving.  Paul has a lot of co-workers so rather than buy gifts, I’m making a batch of cinnamon rolls for him to bring in to the office on Friday. 

I had never made cinnamon rolls before, so I consulted my cookbook and found a basic recipe.  Tuesday night I made the first batch. They turned out alright, but they were small and there wasn’t enough sugary stuff between the layers.

So yesterday I called my mom to get her recipe. It’s the same method with a few minor adjustments.  And they turned out great.  Thanks Mom! Tonight I will make Mom’s recipe again and slightly under-bake them so I can finish them off in the morning.

Here’s the recipe if you are wanting to make a batch of your own:

3 1/2  c. flours
1 1/4  c. milk
1/4    c. sugar
1/4    c. shortening
1      tsp. salt
1 egg
softened butter (not melted)
sugar & cinnamon to taste

  1. Mix 1 1/2 cups of the flour with the yeast in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Put the mil, sugar, shortening and salt in a saucepan on the stove and heat until the shortening is almost melted and the temperature is approx 115 degrees.
  3. Add the warm liquid and egg to the dry mix and beat with a hand blender for 30 seconds.  Beat an additional 3 minutes on high.
  4. Add the remaining flour and mix by hand. Knead on a floured board a few times (8-12 strokes) until dough keeps together.
  5. Let the dough rise in a greased bowl until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
  6. Punch down the dough and let rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Roll out the dough into a rectangle and spread with the softened butter.
  8. Sprinkle on a generous amount of white sugar and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  9. Roll along the long side and pinch the edge to seal.
  10. Cut into rolls and place in a greased pan to rise, 30 minutes to an hour.
  11. Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes or until tops are browned.

Yummy!  Can’t wait to start on the gingerbread, sugar cookies and Scotchbread cookies.  And then there’s the caramel, English toffee and peanut brittle.  Better get going, only 8 more days until Christmas!

Yummy Pot Roast

I tried two new recipes for dinner tonight: a pot roast and a apple-cranberry pie.  Both turned out delicious!  I’m loving using my slow cooker for dinner.  It’s so nice to drop Sean off at preschool and come home throw together a dinner in the slow cooker and do a few chores before I pick him up.  It makes me feel like I have the rest of the afternoon free because dinner is already done!

pot roast in slow cooker

All set up and ready to cook!

Beef Pot Roast

1 medium onion, chopped in large pieces
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 ribs of celery, chopped
3 large red potatoes, cut into large chunks
3 lb beef roast
1 package (8 oz) of baby Portobello mushrooms
3/4 cup of water
1 tsp instant beef bouillon – I like “better than bouillon” paste
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried basil

Cut up the vegetables and place at the bottom of the cooker.  Season the roast with salt and pepper, then sear it in a pan with 2 tsp of oil until a brown crust forms.  Place the roast on top of the vegetables and pour in the rest of the ingredients.  Cook on medium for approximately 6 hours.