Oct 29, 2005

What's For Breakfast?

A lot of people just grab a box of cold cereal or pop tarts for the kids for breakfast.  That just won’t cut it in our house, my kids love their breakfast and they love variety.  My 5 year old won’t even eat cereal!  To stay on budget I try to vary their morning meals as much as possible while using low cost and healthy ingredients.  Here are some breakfast favorites at our house.

Pancakes – I make up double or triple batches and freeze the leftovers.  Then I flash freeze them and warm them up whenever the kids want them for breakfast

French Toast – Just as with pancakes, I make a lot then freeze the leftovers.  This toast warms up very well in the microwave.

Breakfast Burritos – I make mine with scrambled eggs and cheese.  You can make up several, wrap them in foil and freeze them for a quick breakfast on the run.

Quesadillas – I like to make my quesadillas in a skillet to get the nice crisp bottom but in a rush you can make them in the microwave.  The kids only like cheese but I top mine with salsa.

Oatmeal – My daily breakfast is Blueberry Oatmeal, but the kids won’t eat it that way.  For them I add a little cinnamon and raisins or chopped apples.

Yogurt Parfaits – We layer strawberry or vanilla yogurt with various kinds of chopped fruit, granola and a drizzle of honey.  Sometimes I let them have sprinkles on top.

Muffins – Our favorites are Applesauce Muffins and French Breakfast Muffins.  I freeze them them heat them up as needed.

Quiche – I usually make quiche with cheese (cheddar, Swiss or mozzarella), turkey bacon or ham and minced scallions.  Quiche freeze really well, so I make at least two at a time.

Coffee Cake – To pump up the nutritional value I often add ground flax seed and substitute ½ whole wheat flour for the white flour called for.  I also reduce the amount of sugar called for and always add raisins.  I have a variety of recipes I like for coffee cake.

Cinnamon Toast – after buttering toast just sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  You can also spread some peanut butter on top and add sliced apples.

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches  - for breakfast??  Sure!  Why not?

Cream of Wheat – we like ours with honey instead of sugar

Scrambled Eggs – I always add seasoned salt, chives and a little cheese.

Biscuits – I found my biscuit recipe on Martha Stewart’s site and have never used another one again, they are awesome!  We love them with butter, honey, jam, sliced ham, cheese or just about anything else you’d eat on bread.

Oct 28, 2005

Menus and Muffins

I just got through making up my menu list for the next two weeks… shopping day is Monday. My girls want to make muffins this afternoon. I love this recipe for applesauce muffins because it’s good for them and they love it. Here are my dinner menus and my muffin recipe.


Monday - hot dogs, baked beans, rice
Tuesday - spinach and beef lasagna (recipe will be posted later this week)
Wednesday – leftovers
Thursday – Chili, rice
Wednesday – leftovers
Thurdsay – Katsu Chicken, rice, cole slaw
Friday – pinto beans, rice, corn bread
Saturday - Birria (recipe will be posted later this week), Spanish rice, refried beans
Sunday – Leftovers
Monday – fish planks, French fries, corn on the cob
Tuesday – beef stew, biscuits
Wednesday – leftovers
Thurdsay – Great Northern beans, collard greens, corn bread
Friday – leftovers
Saturday – Teryaki Chicken, rice

Applesauce Muffins

½ c. sugar
½ c. brown sugar
½ c. butter or margarine (I use Smart Balance)
2 eggs
2 c. flour (you can use 1 ½ c. white flour and ½ c. whole wheat flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. mace (or nutmeg)
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. vanilla
¾ c. applesauce
¼ c. sour cream
2 Tbsp. ground flax seed (optional)

Cream butter and sugar by hand. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. In another bowl combine applesauce and sour cream. Add creamed mixture alternately with applesauce mixture. Mix just until combines. Fill greased or paper lined muffin tin 2/3 full. Sprinkle top with chopped pecans if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. These freeze well.

Oct 27, 2005

Greek Chicken

Peering into the refrigerator, I realized that I want to try something new tomorrow night. I just pulled out one of my favorite crock pot cook books, Fix It And Forget It Lightly by Phyllis Pellman, and I think I will make Greek Chicken. This is one of those recipes that actually makes your mouth water when you smell it cooking. It’s delicious! I have made a few revisions to the recipe… here’s my version:

Greek Chicken

6 potatos, quartered
3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken or a whole chicken, cut up and skinned
2 large onions, quartered
1 whole bulb garlic, minced
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and quartered
½ c. water
3 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Juice of ½ a lemon
1 small can sliced or whole pitted black olives (optional)
1 red bell pepper, sliced (optional)

Put potatos in bottom of crock pot. Add chicken, onions, garlic. In a small bowl, wisk oregano, sale pepper, water and olive oil. Pour mixture over chicken and potatos. Cover and cook on high for 5 – 6 hours or low for 9 – 10 hours.

Oct 26, 2005

Good Health On A Budget

For some time I had been under the misconception that eating frugally meant eating unhealthy. My idea of frugal groceries were Ramen Noodles, bologna, hot dogs and eggs... certainly not foods I would call *healthy*. Recently however, I have come to learn that you can eat healthy and still maintain a budget that will not break your pocketbook. I have started adding more foods to my grocery list that are not only inexpensive but have considerable nutritional value. Some of them are:
  • oatmeal
  • blueberries
  • brown rice
  • a wide variety of beans
  • spinach (fresh and frozen)
  • more frozen vegetables
  • fig bars for the kids (they LOVE these as much as any sugary snack and they are much healthier)
  • flax seed (you can buy this at your local grocer already ground usually in the healh food section or buy it whole at the health food store and grind it yourself. You can read more about the health benefits of flax seed here.)

Here are some excellent resources that I found that will help lead you in the right direction if you want to eat healthy without breaking your pocketbook.

Quick Healthy Meal Ideas
Feeding Your Family Frugally
5 Heart Healty Foods
Good Foods

Oct 25, 2005

Chicken Katsu

Yesterday my husband took the family out for dinner. We tried a new Hawaiian barbecue place we'd seen many times but never tried before. Surprisingly the kids loved it, and so did we. Today my oldest daughter kept asking when we'd go back. I told her as soon as we were able. She asked if in the meanwhile I could make her Chicken Katsu like she'd eaten there. I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com and will be fulfilling her request later this week. It sounds inexpensive, simple and as we experienced first hand last night, it is delicious! I enjoyed mine with teriyaki sauce but the Tonkatsu sauce recipe that accompanies it sounds tasty too and we will give it a try!

Ashley's Chicken Katsu with Tonkatsu Sauce

A recipe for delicious Japanese fried chicken and an accompanying Tonkatsu sauce. Serve with your choice of shredded cabbage, rice, or even mashed potatoes.
Servings: 2 (Submitted to Allrecipes.com by BASKETBALLGIRL)


1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
pepper to taste


2 cups vegetable oil, for deep-fat frying
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Japaneese panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - pounded to 1/4 inch thickness
1 green onion, thinly sliced


1. For the sauce, stir together the Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and soy sauce, and a pinch of pepper to taste. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in deep fryer to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

3. Place flour and panko bread crumbs onto separate plates and season with salt and pepper. Place the beaten egg in a medium bowl. Dip flattened chicken pieces first into flour, then egg, and lastly bread crumbs.

4. Fry breaded chicken breasts pre-heatedted oil until golden brown and no longer pink in center, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil. Slice chicken into thin strips and top with a drizzle of sauce and a sprinkling of sliced green onions. Serve remaining sauce on the side for dipping.

Oct 24, 2005

Thai Style Chicken, Vegetables and Noodles

This is a recipe I adapted from one I found at the Kraft Foods Website. I’ve really enjoy any type of Thai or other Asian recipes, they are simple, nutritious and delicious. Give this one a try!

Thai Style Chicken, Vegetables and Noodles

1 envelope GOOD SEASONS Asian Sesame Salad Dressing & Recipe Mix, prepared as directed on envelope (or you can used a bottled Asian style salad dressing)
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1-1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 package frozen Chinese style vegetables
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 lb. thin spaghetti, cooked, drained
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup green onion slices
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/8 tsp. Chinese 5 Spice Powder

Mix dressing and soy sauce. Pour 1/3 cup of the dressing mixture over chicken in medium bowl; toss to coat. Cover. Refrigerate 1 hour to marinate. Combine remaining dressing mixture, peanut butter, honey, crushed red pepper and 5 Spice Powder; set aside. Prepare vegetables in microwave according to package directions. Drain well. Place chicken and marinade in large skillet; cook and stir on medium-high heat 8 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Place in large bowl. Add chicken, spaghetti, carrots, onions and cilantro; mix lightly. Add dressing mixture and vegetables; toss to coat.

Oct 22, 2005

Simple Caramel Icing

My babies wanted cupcakes today so we made up a chocolate cake mix to satisfy their craving. While the cupcakes were in the stove I made up a simple icing for them. It turned out really good!

Simple Caramel Icing

1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt

In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, milk, and butter. Stirring constantly; bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Let cool to lukewarm. Beat until creamy and thick enough to spread. If too thick, add a little more milk or a small amount of cream.

Oct 20, 2005

Chicken Enchiladas & Calebacitas

I really love traditional enchiladas made with beef, but in an effort to eat less red meat I decided to make them with chicken instead. Here's my recipe and my favorite side dish to eat with them... Calebacitas (it means "little squash" in Spanish).

Chicken Enchiladas

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1/2 white onion, chopped finely
1 can enchilada sauce
1 dozen corn tortillas
3 scallions, minced
1 small can sliced black olives
1/2 lb. Cheddar cheese, grated

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Pour a small amount of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 in. pan and spread with a spoon.

3. Take 3 corn tortillas and wrap in a damp paper towel, microwave for 10 seconds (this makes them easier to work with without them cracking).

4. Take a tortilla and spoon a small amount of chicken and a small amount of onion down the center. Pour a little enchilada sauce over chicken and onion to moisten. Roll and place in the pan. Repeat with the other two tortillas. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until all tortillas are used.

5. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the enchiladas. Sprinkle with cheese, olives and scallions.

6. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and back 5 more minutes or until very lightly browned and cheese is melted.


4 zucchini, chopped
1 can white corn, drained
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 white onion, minced
salt, pepper and oregano to taste
shredded cheddar cheese to sprinkle on top

Add 1/4 c. water to a sauce pan. Add all ingredients except cheese and mix well. Allow to steam on medium low heat until all vegetables are tender. Top with cheese and cover to allow cheese to melt.

Oct 18, 2005

Homemade Cheese Crackers

Here's a fun recipe to make with kids, we made these today. I've tried making crackers before and they didn't turn out too well. This recipe which I have adapted from several I have seen worked very well and the kids loved them. I would highly suggest making a double or triple batch as they go fast!

Homemade Cheese Crackers

2/3 c. flour
1/4 c. cornmeal
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/2 c. Shredded Italian Blend cheese
1/4 c. ice water
1 Tbsp. white vinegar

In a bowl combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, salt, red pepper and Parmesan cheese. Mix well. Add butter and with a pastry blender mix well until mixture is like coarse meal. Add Italian cheese blend, water and vinegar. Stir until mixture comes together. Divide into four parts, roll into balls and wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze for thirty minutes. Remove from freezer. Working with one ball at a time: Knead dough lightly. Place on well floured parchment paper and roll paper thin (each piece should make approximately an 8 inch circle when fully rolled out, almost paper thin). Transfer to a large baking sheet and with a pizza cutter, cut each circle into 8 wedges. You will probably need to bake one circle of wedges at a time. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove crackers to a wire rack to cool then break apart. Makes about 32 crackers.

Variation: On some of the crackers I sprinkled dried minced garlic and lightly pressed it in. Those were GREAT!

Oct 17, 2005

Tuna Pitas

I don't know about you but I get bored with the same old tuna sandwich. I came up with this recipe to break the monotony.

Tuna Pitas

Drain a can of albacore tuna. Add enough plain yogurt to the tuna to moisten. Add a few sliced black olives, a squeeze of lemon juice, a dash of oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Put this in a pita and top with diced cucumbers, diced tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion and feta cheese.

Oct 16, 2005

Beautiful Peppers!

I went to the grocery store today and there was a HUGE display of giant bell peppers... red, yellow and orange... all of them were FOUR for $1.00! Wow! Around here that is unheard of. I grabed several and tomorrow I am going to roast them, peel them and pop them in the freezer. I like to use them on pizza, in spaghetti sauce or in pasta salads... The red ones are even a great addition to salsa when they are roasted. Here's an easy way to roast them:

Set oven to broil. Cut peppers in half and remove seeds. Place pepper halves on a baking sheet and put them in the over for about 10 minutes or until they look nice and black. I check on them every 5 minutes or so since the broiler is so hot. Once they are done, take them off the sheet and put them in a large container with a lid. Put the lid on and allow them to sit for about 20 minutes. Then remove them from the container and with your hands peel off the blackened skin. You can then slice them and use them or just freeze them as is. They keep several months in the freezer.

Oct 15, 2005

Yummy Oatmeal!

Trying to eat a little healthier so I came up with this oatmeal for breakfast. Not only nutritious but it tastes great!

Blueberry Oatmeal

(makes one serving)

1/2 c. quick cooking oats
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. milk
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 c. frozen blueberries
1 Tbsp ground flax seed
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Combine all in a microwave safe bowl. Cook in microwave for 1 minute and 20 seconds. Stir well and add more milk if necessary then stir again. Top with fresh chopped apples if desired.

Oct 14, 2005

Tips For A Frugal Kitchen

Keeping the kitchen well stocked and organized can be a huge time and money saver. But there are a few additional things I do as well to make each grocery dollar count.

* I save the ziploc bags that tortillas come in, in my freezer. Why you may ask. Because when I have leftover pancakes, muffins, french toast or other items I want to pop in the freezer, I have nice cold bags all ready to go.

* I save the ends of my bread in a freezer bag. When I have a few in there I simply drop them in the food processor and grind bread crumbs. I store them in the freezer, they last for months.

* When bananas get to dark to eat, instead of making banana bread like a lot of people do, I put the bananas in the freezer, skin and all. Then when I need a banana for a smoothie they are already nice and icy cold. They can also be thawed for bread, muffins or other banana recipes.

* I make my own cream soup mix. Those small cans of cream soup that so many recipes call for can become costly. With a simple homemade mix you can save quite a lot!

Cream Soup Mix (from www.therecipelink.com)

2 cups powdered nonfat milk
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup (or less) instant chicken bouillon
2 tbsp. dried onion flakes
1-tsp. basil leaves
1-tsp. thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. pepper

Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

To substitute for one can of condensed soup:

Combine 1/3 cup of dry mix with 1 1/4 cups of cold water in saucepan. Cook and stir until thickened. Add to casserole as you would the canned product. Makes equivalent of 9 cans of soup.

Vary the spices to suit your own taste or the type of casserole you were making. Yield 9 servings with less than 1-gram fat per serving.


Mushroom Soup: Add 1/2 C finely chopped mushrooms
Celery Soup: Add 1/2 C minced celery
Potato Soup: Add 1 C diced potatoes, cooked
Vegetable Soup: Add 3/4 C mixed vegetables, cooked
Broccoli Soup: Add 1 C chopped broccoli, cooked
Asparagus Soup: Add 1 C chopped asparagus, cooked

Oct 12, 2005

Crock Pot Chili

It's getting a little cooler in the evenings which always makes me think of a nice warm bowl of chili. Mine is simmering right now and smells SO GOOD...can't wait 'till it's done!

Crock Pot Chili

1 lbs. ground beef
1 c. dry pinto beans or kindey beans (cooked)
3. c. water (or cooking liquid from beans)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
3 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. parsley
1/4 tsp. oregano
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1-2 tsp. salt
pinch of brown sugar

Brown ground beef, drain. Add all ingredients to crock pot. Allow to simmer 6 hours on low. Serve topped with cheese and sour cream, with rice or crackers on the side.

Oct 11, 2005

Dinner menus for the next two weeks

Menus are done now I just need to make the grocery list.

1. Ropa Vieja, black beans, rice
2. " " ""
3. Northern Beans, collard greens, corn bread
4. "" ""
5. Spaghetti, broccoli
6. Homemade pizza
7. Frozen fish planks, baked potatos, corn on the cob
8. Chili and rice
9. "" ""
10. Pinto beans, rice, corn bread
11. " "
12. Ground beef tostadas, Spanish rice, refried beans
13. Breaded baked chicken, mashed potatos and gravy, green beans
14. Chicken and broccoli stir fry, brown rice

Oct 10, 2005

Leftover Magic

I actually know a man who does not ever eat leftovers. He HATES them. My mom used to let some of the good leftovers slip to the back of the refrigerator and forget about them. Me... I LOVE to use up leftovers and have fun trying to find creative ways to recycle them into something new and exciting.

Tonight I was planning to serve the leftover Arroz con Pollo from yesterday. But my kids are so picky, they don't like the tomatoes in the rice or the chicken... my oldest asked could I make tostadas. I figured why not. I took the leftover chicken from the dish and shredded it. I mashed the refried beans, added a little milk, a little chili powder and a sprinkle of cheese. I then fried some corn tortillas I had to make the tostada shells. I warmed up the leftover rice as a side dish. So we had refried beans, shredded chicken, cheese and salsa (from a jar) on the tostadas (plain beans and cheese for the kids) with the rice on the side for the grown ups. Quick, easy and delicious!

Oct 9, 2005

Arroz Con Pollo

I decided to make Arroz Con Pollo tonight. Here's my variation on the recipe... a little bit Spanish, a little bit Mexican, a little bit Creole... a wonderful combination of flavors. Serve with black beans or pinto beans.

Arroz Con Pollo

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 onion, chopped
4 small tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 c. long grain rice
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 c. chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. Goya Adobo Seasoning
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp Penzey's Smoked Spanish Paprika
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp black pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Chop onion, green pepper and tomatoes. In a large fry pan, heat oil over medium heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and saute in batches until browned. Remove from pan. Add onion and bell pepper. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Add rice and remaining seasonings. Cook 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, the stock and bay leaf. Break up tomatoes with side of spoon. Pour into 2 1/2 quart baking dish. Push chicken pieces into rice and cover. Bake until chicken is tender and rice has absorbed all liquid, about 1 hour. (Add more seasoning if needed.)

Oct 7, 2005

Meal Ideas For Next Week

This week I went grocery shopping and bought a bunch of things with no specific meals in mind. Just one of those busy weeks and I didn't have time to plan meals or even make a list. So... what to cook is the question. Let's see... I have on hand...

frozen chicken breasts (boneless/skinless)
a container of BBQ pulled pork (frozen)
various bread (white, wheat, tortillas, sub rolls)
beef strips for stir fry (frozen)
frozen broccoli
ground beef (frozen, 2 lbs.)
breakfast sausage
brown rice
white rice
angel hair pasta
corn on the cob (frozen)
canned tomatoes
canned sliced carrots
canned corn
mozzarella cheese, Italian Cheese
onions, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes
frozen spinach
turkey bacon

I'm sure there's more but those are the the things I recall off-hand. So I think I will be making:

Arroz con Pollo
Chili Mac
BBQ Sandwiches
Teriyaki Beef and Broccoli
Breakfast Casserole
Spinach Quiche

If you have any other ideas post a reply :)

Oct 6, 2005

Quick Mexican

We had a really long day today so creativity was definitely in order for dinner. I had bought a London Broil last week so thawed that out and put in the crock pot with some Goya Adobo Seasoning and some chili powder and two diced potatoes. I set it on low and let it go for about 5 hours. When we got back home I removed the fat from it, shredded it with a fork and made burritos with it. In the burritos I also put a little cheese and home made refried beans. Served this with Spanish rice. It was a good quick meal.

For the refried beans I warmed up some leftover pinto beans I had cooked yesterday. Once they were warm I mashed them with a potato masher and stirred in a little milk, some shredded cheese and a dash of chili powder.

Here is the recipe for the Spanish Rice.

Spanish Rice

1 c. uncooked long grain rice
3 c. water
1 tsp. beef bullion powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. canola oil

Heat oil in a sauce pan. Add rice and spices, stir until fragrant. Add water. Bring to a boil, reduce to low and cover. Cook about 20 minutes or until water is absorbed and rice is fluffy.

Oct 5, 2005

Easy Appetizer

My girls and I are going to a homeschool group meeting tomorrow and everyone is bringing their favorite appetizer. I figured the kids and adults would love these!

Pizza Bites

1 box Jiffy brand pizza crust mix

For the sauce:
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp. parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp rosemary
1/8 tsp fennel seed
pinch sugar

shredded Italian Blend cheese
sliced pepperoni, cut into quarters

Make crust according to package directions and divide into 14 equal pieces. Form into tiny pizza crusts.

Combine sauce ingredients and top each pizza with sauce, cheese and 2 pepperoni quarters. Bake according to package directions.

Oct 3, 2005

EASY Banana Bread

I found this in an issue of Real Simple Magazine and modified it a bit. It is really good! Very moist and delicious.

Banana Bread

1 box cake mix (yellow, banana and pineapple work best and chocolate fudge is AWESOME!)
1 pkg. Jell-O instant pudding mix (I like to use vanilla or banana)
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. oil
2 ripe bananas, mashed
4 eggs
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Mix all ingredients well. Pout into two greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 - 45 minutes.