Feb 28, 2006

Menus and Ramblings

So much going on around our kitchen lately... our computer keyboard wasn't working properly for the past week so I haven't been able to post as often as I like to. We got a new keyboard today so I'm back to blogging again!

Yesterday I finally got to make the Creamy Lime Bars I saw on Culinary In The Desert.

They are SO GOOD and now I am looking at recipes using key limes because we have lots left. Any suggestions are welcome!

Last night we went to Trader Joe's to shop. I have been noticing more and more that the prices on Safeway.com and going up and it's really putting us in a pinch. It's tough because on our side of town there are not many places that offer organics (which I am trying to stick to) at a reasonable price... so I felt the 45 minute drive to TJ's for two weeks worth of groceries would be worth it. We saved about $25 on our bill by shopping there so if you count the gas it took to drive there I'd say we came away with $15 in our pockets plus LOTS of high quality food that I feel good about feeding my family. I couldn't believe how much less they charge for things like flax seed and King Arthur brand flours. Hoping to convince hubby that we should shop there at least once a month.

I am a bit late this week preparing my menus but here they are...

Mon - Great Northern Beans, Collard Greens, Corn bread (hubby's request)
Tues - Leftovers
Wed - BBQ chicken, corn on the cob, homemade baked beans
Thur. - Homemade Beef Ravioli, Broccoli
Fri - African Chicken Stew, Rice
Sat. - Leftovers
Sun - Shepheard's Pie
Mon - Leftovers
Tues - Balsamic Glazed Chicken, Brown Rice, Green Beans
Wed - Pinto Beans, Corn Bread, Greens
Thurs - Leftovers
Fri - Burrito Casserole
Sat - Leftovers
Sun - Stir Fry Chicken, Brown Rice
Mon - Creamy Chicken Casserole, Green Beans
Tues - Leftovers

ARF Tuesday #7 - Taco Soup

I have been craving a good soup lately and in hoonr of ARF Tuesdays I thought I'd mix up a nice crockpot full. I apologize for the lack of a photo, I FORGOT to take one.

The ARF used here is pinto beans. I basically created this from a bunch of things I had in the freezer and fridge in anticipation of making space since I am grocery shopping this week. Here's what I came up with:

Taco Soup

1 c. cooked, chopped chicken
1 c. dry pinto beans, sorted, rinsed and soaked overnight
1 large can diced tomatoes with juice 1 carton chicken stock - I used organic but Swanson's will do
1 cube Sofrito
1/2 pkg. frozen sweet corn
1/2 c. chopped bell peppers (mixture of red, yellow and green)
4 scallions, diced
1/4 c. pearl barley a few sprigs of frozen cilantro (fresh is even better!)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small can green chilis (I didn't have any on hand but I always add some to my taco soup) Seasonings to taste - salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, ancho chili powder

Add all ingredients to crock pot. If needed, add water to cover by 2 inches then set on low. Cook for 8 hours. Check for seasoning then serve topped with tortilla strips, shredded cheese and sour cream (or in our case, plain yogurt). I served this with homemade rice-a-roni spiked with a little Penzey's Salsa Salad Seasoning.

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Feb 27, 2006

Guest Blogger #11 - Recipes For The Future

I'd like to welcome Bryan as my guest blogger today. His blog Recipes For The Future contains lots of great recipes along with delicious looking pics. Take a look, I think you'll enjoy it :)


I think everyone in the world has their own lasagna recipe; this particular recipe has at least one ingredient that is not presently available - so far as I know right now. BUT, you can make your own - the recipe is at the end. Spice Islands had a Spaghetti Sauce Seasoning (1) that makes good sauce better; a great sauce, incomparable! They stopped making it a few years back. They got so many requests for it, that the company started making it again for a while; then once again, stopped production. I bought a case of the jars when I was emailed that it once again would go out of production. The Spaghetti Sauce Seasoning, combined with Spice Islands Italian Herb (still in production) is a match beyond your wildest tastes.

This is a large recipe for a 12” x 18” x 3 pan. It will feed at least 10 people - and maybe more. It freezes well if you have leftovers. The recipe can be cut in half for a smaller portion. Pasta has the tendency to dry out when reheated in an oven or even a microwave oven. To get a nice, moist re-heated serving, you can place the serving(s) in a steamer that is placed in a large pot with a tightly fitted lid with about 2-3 cups of water for about 10-minutes after the water comes to a boil.



4 TBS quality olive oil
4 Large garlic cloves
2 medium onions 1¼ inch diced
2 green peppers 1¼ inch diced
1 Lb whole mushrooms, sliced
2 Quarts whole, canned tomatoes
2 6-Oz cans of tomato paste
1½ Cup sweet Marsala wine
2 TBS Spice Islands Spaghetti Sauce Seasoning
2 TBS Spice Island Italian Herbs
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 package of pre-sliced pepperoni(1)
1 Lb. lean ground beef
1 Lb bulk Italian sausage or sausages removed from the casings

2 1-Lb containers of ricotta cheese
1 Lb shredded mozzarella cheese
Fresh Grated Parmesan and Romano cheeses

2 Packages of Barilla Lasagna noodles
Olive oil - 1 TBS
4 Quarts water (2)


In a large pot, heat olive oil, then add finely chopped garlic buds. Sautee until golden, then add diced onion, green pepper, ground black pepper, Italian herb, salt, and sugar. Sautee until soft, then add sliced mushrooms. Sautee on high for 5-minutes.

(*)In a separate pan or small pot, bring 2-cups of water to a boil, and then add the sliced pepperoni. Remove from heat, and let sit for 10-minutes. Drain off water and grease; dry on paper towel. Slice pepperoni rounds in half, then in half again so you end up with quarters. Add to the onion/pepper mix; stir well. Boiling the pepperoni removes excess grease

In another large pan, brown the ground beef; drain, add to sauce. Brown sausage; drain, and add to sauce.

Add tomatoes, tomato paste, seasonings, and the wine. Stir well breaking up the whole canned tomatoes, bring to a boil then turn heat to very low, and simmer for a few hours stirring every so often until it thickens. Once the sauce is thick, remove from heat and let cool.

Boil the lasagna noodles according to manufactures directions. Drain, rinse, pat dry with paper towels, and cover the noodles so they don'’t dry out. Be careful not to break the shells.

When all is cooked, cooled, and ready, start building the lasagna.


1. Oil the pan, then spread a thin layer of the sauce.
2. A layer of noodles.
3. Sauce, even dollops of ricotta (heaping tablespoons)
4. A sprinkling of mozzarella
5. Sprinkle parmesan and Romano cheeses

Repeat layers until all the ingredients are used. The top layer should be sauce, some shredded mozzarella, and a sprinkling of Parmesan and Romano cheeses.

Cover with tin foil and bake at 325F. for approximately 45-minutes. Remove the foil during the last 5-minutes of baking time.

This meal should be served with an Antipasto: lettuce, tomato, artichokes, black olives, diced Genoa salami, onion, diced green pepper, diced Provolone cheese, olive oil, a little vinegar of your choice, and grated Romano cheese as a precursor to the meal, REAL garlic bread (Posted at www.secretfoods.blogspot.com along with many other recipes) and a large quantity of a good quality Chianti - either white or red.

If you have the time and the ingredients, make canolli or a cassata (both posted at www.secretfoods.blogspot.com ). Have some sweet Marsala on hand, or servings of espresso to accompany the dessert.

(1) This is as close as one will get to The Spice Islands Spaghetti Sauce seasoning:

3-1/2 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon summer savory
1-1/2 teaspoons rosemary
1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
4-1/4 teaspoons onion powder
1-1/2 teaspoons ground marjoram
2-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
4 teaspoons ground basil
1 TBS Porcini mushroom powder

If you can't find the powders called for, get the leaf varieties. Put the mix in a coffee bean grinder and run it until you have a fine powder. You may have to do this in separate batches. The final Seasoning powder calls for 1 TBS per batch of sauce. For the ABOVE sauce recipe, use 2 tsp - it's a little more potent than Spice Islands, but has the wonderful flavor of the original. Store the remaining powdered spice in a tight fitting lidded jar, and in a dark place. The intensity of the ground leaves is much more flavorful.

(2) I like to use bottled spring water in all cooking and baking projects as opposed to tap water. Tap water normally contains a lot of minerals (calcium, lime, chlorine, etc.) that can and will change the flavors.

Feb 26, 2006

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Lately strawberries have been on sale in all the markets. We love them and I was inspired to make this salad for our church luncheon today. The dressing makes a lot so I had some leftover for salads later this week.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

3 bunches fresh spinach, washed and stems removed, cut into bite sized pieces
1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

Toss all ingredients in a large bowl. Serve with strawberry vinaigrette.

Strawberry Vinaigrette

1 c. canola oil
1/3 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. honey
2 scallions, cut in thirds
1/2 tsp. worshteshire sauce
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika (or regular paprika)
1 strawberry, hulled and cut in half
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Process all ingredients in blender until smooth and creamy.

Feb 24, 2006

Temporary Inturruption

Our computer has been acting up the past few days so I won't be posting until Monday, hoping to have it all fixed by then. Have a great weekend everyone!

Feb 22, 2006

For The Birthday Girl!

It's our second little sweetie's birthday today. Here's her cake with chocolate sprinkles as requested. It's a vanilla cake but I tinted some of the batter pink to create a marble/swirl effect for "Miss Princess" :) Happy 4th Birthday Baby!

Feb 21, 2006

Butternut Squash Wantons With Sesame Dipping Sauce

Before sharing my recipe with you I just wanted to remind you all that Sweetnicks is hosting ARF Tuesdays today. I didn't get a chance to prepare my recipe but the round up is always full of great looking recipes.

The recipe I have for today is a combination of a couple that I sounded really great and I felt I just had to try. Safeway.com had frozen butternut squash puree for 99 cents each last time so of course I had to buy some to make these. I love recipes that sound so gourmet but are so inexpensive to prepare. Frugal and gourmet is always good.

Butternut Squash Wantons With Sesame Dipping Sauce

1 package frozen butternut squash puree, thawed and drained of excess liquid (not sure of the size but it is a small square package like frozen spinach)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 scallions, minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 Tbsp honey
40 wonton wrappers -- thawed if frozen
oil for frying (I used canola oil)

1. Put squash, scallions, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, brown sugar, salt and ginger in a bowl and mix well. Stir together sesame seeds, 1/4 cup water, honey and remaining 1/2 cup soy sauce in a bowl; set sauce aside.

2. Place 1 scant tablespoon filling in the center of each wrapper; brush edges with water. Bring up corners to make a triangle; press to seal (or follow instructions for folding on wanton package). Place on a baking sheet; freeze until firm, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Heat about 2 inches of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add 10 wontons, and cook until golden brown, turn over then fry until golden on other side as well. Transfer to a serving dish; cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining oil and wontons. Serve with dipping sauce.

Feb 20, 2006

Guest Blogger #10 - Frugal Weekly

My Guest Blogger today has THE most awesome blog! She's got so many tips on the frugal lifestyle... wonderful reading if you are trying to cut costs in your kitchen as well as elsewhere in you life. Please welcome Debbie from Frugal Weekly as my guest today.


The concept of being frugal in the kitchen not only saves you money, but also your health in the process. Some of the best budget management ideas involve cooking healthier and preserving the environment consequently.

As a woman on a tight budget I sincerely appreciate fugal living from all perspectives. A desire to save money, protect our natural resources and create a healthy lifestyle for my family. Believe it or not, the best way to maintain these goals is through frugal living.

Frugal living in the kitchen can take on many forms. As the guest blogger today, I will highlight one particular method of budgeting in the kitchen, vegetarianism. Now, I am not a true vegan or even a full time vegetarian, but we do limit our meat consumption to only a couple times a week. Meat in every form is an expensive ingredient in your menu. By cutting back, not only do you save money, but also control the impact to the overwhelmed meat industry and improve your health.

The best method of success in eliminating meat from your meals is to find some great recipes that are hearty, meat free and tasty for the whole family. While many cookbooks are available to help you, the following are two of my family’s favorites to get you started.

Zucchini Casserole
Excellent for a light lunch or dinner with a salad and bread. Similar to a quiche, but more flavorful and heartier.

3 Cups grated zucchini
4 beaten Eggs
1 Cup biscuit mix
1 Cup chopped onion
1/2 Cup fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 Cup softened butter
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 Cup your favorite grated cheese
1/2 tsp salt
Dash pepper

Mix all together in a large bowl. Bake at 350-degree oven in a heavily greased 8x8 pan for 45-50 minutes or until slightly golden on top.

Red Beans and Rice
Nothing is known to be more frugal than rice and beans. This recipe is a simple but tasty version of the classic.

Vegetable oil for the pan
1/2 Cup chopped onion
1/2 Cup chopped celery
1/2 Cup chopped green, red or yellow pepper
2 cans red beans or 3 cups home cooked version
1 12-ounce can tomato sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp ground red pepper or cayenne depending on taste
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce or serve on the side for young kids
3 Cups hot cooked rice

Coat large skillet or Dutch oven with vegetable oil and heat at medium-high until hot. Add onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic to pan. Cook 2-3 minutes until slightly tender. Add drained beans, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper and pepper sauce if using. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for at least 15 minutes or up to 45 minutes. Serve bean mixture over rice with parsley and sliced red onions as garnish.


Debbie Vasen is a freelance writer, residing in the diverse state of Oregon. She writes articles and essays on a variety of subjects including money, parenting and work at home. As an active mother of two with a strong passion for all children, she has energetically created a large network of like-minded individuals. An avid information gatherer with advice to share, she enjoys spending her free time writing. Living in the moist but evergreen Pacific Northwest, there is many an opportunity for her to enjoy every aspect of the outdoors. Debbie left a high-power career in the retail business world, to work at home and be with her kids. Visit her blogs at www.mom-connect.blogspot.com or www.frugalweekly.blogspot.com.

Feb 19, 2006

Sunday Night Blog Surfing

It's Sunday night and the kiddos are tucked into bed so I've been surfing blogs, just seeing what's going on out there with my fellow bloggers. I found some really great posts... just thought I'd share :)

When I saw Nic's Strawberry Whole Wheat Panckaes they really caught my eye because I have a lot of strawberries thanks to a friend and I've been trying to use whole wheat flour in my baking lately so those are at the top of my list to try for breakfast. Speaking of strawberries, I found a very interesting recipe for Strawberry-Lavendar Muffins over at Milk & Honey. Sounds wonderful!

Another breakfast recipe I plan to make is Anna's Small Batch Crunchy Granola, it looks really good and I needed a recipe that makes just a little granola since the kids don't care for it this recipe will work great for me.

Of course I can never pass up a great dessert recipe, especially one that is inexpensive to make. I found Joe's Creamy Key Lime Bars to be just that kind of recipe and have it on my list to make. I may change the fruit, depending on what I have on hand but I love the basic recipe and by the looks of it, it will be VERY good indeed!

I found three great new (to me anyhow) foodie blogs this week. 28 chefs, Erin Eats and Domestic Diva in Training all have great recipes and I've added them to my blogroll.

Kalyn has the most amazing looking cauliflower recipe today. I'm really eager to try it because I will do ANYTHING to get my hubby and kids to eat more vegetables :) Plus I love cauliflower so I need to excuse to try a new recipe.

I'm always looking for ways to make things from scratch. I found a great post on Mahanandi on how to make homemade coconut milk. And Darla has an awesome sounding recipe for homemade marshamllows. I know my kids will enjoy that one.

I also found some yummy looking potato recipes to try.... and some quick and frugal recipe ideas to get meals on the table in a hurry.... AND some awesome kitchen tips and hints.

Looks like I have a lot of new things to try, I'm hoping to squeeze in a few this week!

Feb 18, 2006

Lemon Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

I made this Lemon Cream Cheese Coffee Cake today as a treat to take to church with us tomorrow. It smells wonderful and I can't wait to cut into it :) I got the recipe from one of the members on the Cooking Light message boards. .... Thanks Dorothy :)

Lemon Cream Cheese Coffeecake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sour cream (I used fat free plain yogurt)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened (I used fat free)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup commercially bottled lemon curd
1/2 cup sliced almonds

For Cake: Preheat oven to 350*F (175*C). Grease and flour 9-inch springform pan or 9 to 10-inch round cake pan.

Combine flour and sugar in medium bowl. cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Reserve 1 cup crumb mixture for topping. Add sour cream, egg, vanilla extract, baking powder, baking soda and salt with remaining crumb mixture; blend well. Spread over bottom and 2-inches up sides of prepared pan.

For Filling: Beat cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar and large egg in small mixer bowl until smooth. Spread over batter in pan. Spoon curd over filling; sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture and almonds.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until cream cheese filling is set and crust is golden brown. Cool slightly on wire rack. To serve, remove side of pan; slice coffee cake into wedges.

Makes 16 servings.

Feb 17, 2006

Low Fat Fruit Dip

I love fruit dip... you know the kind you make with a jar of marshmallow fluff and a whole block of cream cheese? It's SO good! I could eat the whole bowl myself. So I thought I'd come up with a lower fat version... just in case my taste buds get the better of me. My girls said this tastes BETTER than the higher fat version and I think they might be right :)

Low Fat Fruit Dip

1 (16 oz.) carton low fat cottege cheese, pureed smooth in the blender
1 jar marshmallow fluff

Combine in a bowl and stir well until smooth (you can use an electric mixer). Chill and serve with fresh fruit.

Feb 16, 2006

I'd Rather Have A Cheese Sandwich

Take a look at this... two nice slices of whole wheat bread sandwiched with gooey, melting sharp cheddar, slathered with butter and fried to a nice golden brown... "Boring"? I think not! Cheese sandwiches are nice and warm... comeforting and engaging. That's exactly how *I* think of my fellow food bloggers, most of whom were recently accused by Pete Wells of Food and Wine magazine of spouting "pointless cheese-sandwich meanderings" in our "tiny empires of boredom". So in honor of Cheese Sandwich Day 2006 I thought I'd share my sandwich with you. I'll just have to tell you, I've never met a cheese sandwich (or a food blogger) that I didn't find facinating and enjoyable.
Technorati Tags: Food Recipes Cooking Pete Wells Loves Cheese Sandwiches

Feb 15, 2006

Happy Late Valentine's Day

Hope you all have a wonderful day yesterday! Hubby, the kids and I were all down with a 24 hour flu over the past several days so there was not much cooking going on around here. Yestrday we were all finally feeling better, praise God! I've been busy getting the house back in order and getting the girls caught up on schoolwork for homeschool so no time to post until now. I did manage to make the girls a nice breakfast yesterday, some waffle with cute Valentines decorations. They loved them.

Hubby took us out for pizza then we took the girls to Arizona Mills Mall to visit Gameworks and they had a blast! It was a nice day :)

I'm off to do some cooking prepwork for the rest of the week, I'll have some new recipes to share this weekend.

Feb 13, 2006

Guest Blogger #9 - Jamie Rains

My Guest Blogger this week is Jamie Rains. Jamis is not a blogger, she and I met through the forums at wahm.com recently and as enjoys cooking so I invited her to be my guest. Jamie sells candles. So without further ado, here's Jamie....!


Hello! My name is Jamie Rains. Michele and I met through a forum in January of this year. She is such a sweet lady and we got to talking and she invited me to post a recipe. I am a mother of 4 three fur-babies and one teenage daughter. I work from home and run three businesses; I am a Mia Bella Rep, I sell a line of Dead Sea facial products and I have my own line of Dead Sea Bath & Body Products. Needless to say time is a thing of great value and a quick healthy meal is
always what I am reaching for.

I thought today I would share with you guys one of my favorite recipes. I use prawns when making it but any shrimp is fine just be sure to adjust the cooking time so that you do not overcook them. If you do not like shrimp you may also substitute chicken breast. I shared this recipe with a friend who used chicken breast tenders and she said it was phenomenal! The dish was a huge hit with her family and I hope you will find it equally delightful!

Seven Heaven Prawns

1 pound prawns (peeled, de-veined and rinsed thoroughly)
1/4 - 1/2 cup green onions finely chopped (set aside about 6-12 Tablespoons of
the green portion)**
1-2 tablespoons of Extra virgin Olive Oil
1-2 tablespoons of Red Chili Flakes**
1 Lemon Large cut in wedges (set 6 wedges aside)**
2-4 Tablespoons Local Honey**
2-4 cloves garlic pressed**

In large non stick skillet add 1-2 tablespoons E.V.O.O. and heat until water sizzles when dripped into oil. Add green onions, garlic, chili flakes, salt and white pepper to taste and squeeze half of the remaining lemon wedges (there should be 4-6 wedges depending on the size of the lemon. When onions are thoroughly cooked and you have a nice sauce in the pan; add half of the local honey and the prawns. Cook over medium heat stirring shrimp to insure that it is cooked through. For prawns this is about 3 - 3½ minutes, for medium to large shrimp about 2 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp. Once thoroughly cooked; squeeze the other half of the lemons onto the shrimp and toss lightly; drizzle remaining honey onto the plate, plate the prawns and garnish with remaining green onions and lemon wedges.

You may serve with brown rice, vegetables, or anything you like. I sometimes will add snap peas and cook them for 30 seconds to a minute with a lid on the pan and then add and cook the prawns.

This recipe yields six servings of a healthy, delightful, carb friendly

*If you are on a low carb diet you can eliminate the honey all together.
**You may also adjust these ingredients to taste.

Feb 11, 2006

Menus (Feb. 12 - Feb. 28)

Working on a grocery list tonight so here's what I have come up with for the rest of the month. some of these were on my previous menu list but we ate out a couple of times so those have gotten moved to the new list. As always these recipes may not be prepared in the order I have listed them.

Sun. stir fry teryaki chicken with Jasmine rice and mixed Asian style vegetables
Mon. honey dijon chicken, rice pilaf, broccoli with shallots
Tues - Tortilla Soup
Wed - nacho pasta shell casserole (with ground turkey)
Thur - Great northern beans, corn bread and collard greens
Fri - leftovers
Sat - Ground Turkey Meatballs with whole wheat pasta with a yet to be created cheesy spinachy sauce
Sun - pinto beans, greens, corn bread
Mon - Leftovers
Tues - Shepheard's Pie
Wed - Beef and Barley Stew (a concept I plan to turn into a recipe)
Thurs - crispy chicken strips, baked beans, rice-a-roni
Wed - leftovers
Thurs - pinto beans, corn bread, brown rice, greens
Fri - bbq chicken, corn on the cob, baked beans, green beans
Sat - leftovers
Sun - ground turkey chili mac
Mon - salisbury steaks, broccoli cauliflower, mashed potatos
Tues - leftovers

Feb 10, 2006

He Ate It! :0)

I am so excited, I have been trying to get my hubby eating healthier along with me for some time now. Yesterday night I made some more of Joe's amazing Whole Grain Raisin Muffins and sent a couple in hubby's lunch. This time I added a little strawberry yogurt for extra flavor. Hubby came home from work this morning and said "Those were actually good." I think we have a winner ...thanks Joe :)

Last weekend I bought a waffle maker because my kids love waffles and we buy way too many eggos on a regular basis. Last night I made some Whole Grain Waffles. Hoping that they would enjoy them as much as Eggos, I warmed them this morning and set them before the "small picky ones". I was told that they are "almost as good as Eggos". I think I can accept that! Here's the recipe.

Whole Grain Waffles

3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
2 tbsp. ground flax seed
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1/3 c. canola oil

In a bowl combine flours, flax seed, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, eggs, buttermilk and canola oil. Gently fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Heat waffle iron and when ready pour 1/3 - 1/2 c. of batter into each section. Cook for 3 - 5 minutes. These can be frozen and re-heated in the microwave or toaster.

Feb 8, 2006

BBM4 - It's here!

Yesterday was a very nice day. My hubby and kids woke me up with gifts for my birthday. My daughter (6 yrs old) got me a toaster! Can you believe I don't own one? Well, I DID own one... until I dropped butter inside of it and ruined the heating element (ok, you can go ahead and laugh). So I was so happy to get the new one. My 3 year old gave me an adorable teddy bear. Then we went shopping and I got to buy this great piece of exercize equipment I had been wanting called The Gazelle. Then hubby took us to dinner at Mimi's Cafe where I had the most amazing Spinach and Ricotta Manicotti. To top of the day I arrived home to a notice that I had received 2 packages in the mail! One was an awesome kitchen timer from my sister and the second was my BBM4 package. And what a cool package!

My BBM4 package came from Kansas from Heather at Eating For One. She sent me the most delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies along with the recipe (which I WILL be trying soon). I also received a package of Black Currant Scone Mix (yum!), two packages of Pocky, a sheet of Hershy Kiss Stickers (too cute!), a CD called "Ultimate Gourmet" (lovely music to cook by), a scented candle, a hand made greeting card, a little grocery pad and maganet that both say "There's No Place Like Home", a sweet little tiger recipe card holder and a snow man cookie cutter. I also got a very nice letter from Heather telling a little more about herself and her blog and another recipe for Potato Leek Soup (sounds delicious!). I was very honored to receive such a nice package. Thanks Heather!

Feb 7, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me!

It's my birthday today, I'm 34 years young :) I'm taking a blogging break to hang out with my family. Wishing you all success in all your culinary endeavors today!

Feb 6, 2006

Guest Blogger #8 - Up A Creek Without A Patl

I'm happy to welcome Pat as my Monday Guest Blogger! Her blog Up A Creek Without a Patl is full of all sorts of wonderful things from food to travel. Pay her a visit, she has many interesting things to discuss.

Speaking of Guest Bloggers, pay a visit to Robert over at White Trash BBQ today, I am his guest for today (thanks for having me over Robert!) I'm sharing a favorite family recipe.

OK, without any further ado... here's Pat!


When I first began thinking about being a guest blogger for Chef Michele, I had to stop & think for a minute ... do I even qualify? What do I do that's frugal? It's not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of how I do things. But after some brow-furrowing concentration, and much sighing, and a bit of hair-twirling, I realized that yes! There are some things that I do out of habit that are, in fact, pretty darn frugal.

So, yes, I qualify. I think. You decide. Here's the scoop.

For years, The Huz and I both worked full time, often working until 7 or 8pm. So we ate out every weeknight, most weekday lunches, every Sunday brunch, and sometimes other meals, too. I kid you not. I love to cook, but cleaning up the kitchen at 10 at night just wasn't my
idea of a good time. Even if The Huz helped. Which, to give him credit, he often did.

But one thing we have always done is to buy extras of favorite items when they go on sale. Yes, it costs more today, but it will be there when we need it later, at a cost savings and a terrific convenience, as well. One recent month I made it a point to cook only with meats from my freezer. I needed to use it up and I also was avoiding driving in the snow. Our food bills were amazingly low that month, as you can imagine, and the meals were delish!

[small diversion] Did you know that the dramatically low-priced items are known as loss-leaders?

These items are priced pretty darn close to the store's cost for that item, and sometimes below cost. That's where the "loss" comes from. The "leader" comes from the way you're led through the store past lots of other more profitable items on your way to the ones on sale, and then led past others on your way to the checkout counter. They're counting on you picking up a few other things on your way back to or from, so they can make some profit. But you don't have to! (Usually, that is. Occasionally I see a minimum purchase requirement. But even then, of course, you can just purchase enough loss-leaders to meet the minimum.)

[back to our regularly scheduled program] So, anyway, we do stock up with the items that I know we'll use. We have some extra space for canned goods, etc in the basement, and a chest freezer in the garage. (Here in snowy New England, sometimes the garage is colder than the
freezer, so the freezer never has to run! But I digress ... )

But it's rawther ironic that such abundance can lead to waste:
  • It's so easy to forget about what's in the freezer until
    it's old and freezer-burnt.
  • It's also easy to get slack and
    start throwing away half-used cans of this and that, knowing that the
    rest of the case of cans is in the pantry, and it didn't cost all that
    much anyway because it was, you guessed it, bought on sale.

  • And then, of course, there are the wilted veggies that I didn't
    get to in time, and the moldy leftovers that simply have to be tossed
So much food, so much waste!!


A few years ago, I cut back on working, which opened up major requirements --- um, opportunities --- to save money by eating at home rather than eating out. Nowadays the
only meal we routinely eat out is Sunday brunch. Other than that, we're almost always eating at home. Another cost-saver is that The Huz is very willing to take his lunch to work, and fortunately, he doesn't mind eating the same thing every day, as long as it's not the same
thing for both meals. So on weekends, I make a big batch of something. Some of his favorite items are braised ribs in tomato sauce, macaroni & cheese, chicken gumbo, pasta with pesto, any kind of chowder, and a simplified version of cassoulet that is just divine, imho. You can
find most of those recipes at my recipe website.

Cookbooks for using up this & that:

When I cooked only occasionally, I confess I was a "recipe cook." Yep. Cooked exclusively
from recipes. I know, I know, but there you have it. I always had a stack of recipes that I wanted to try, and would buy precisely those ingredients when I was ready to cook the recipe. I really didn't know how to cook without a recipe, outside of scrambled eggs and other such
simple items.

Once I began cooking more regularly, though, that became pretty inefficient. I needed to be able to throw together a meal that would use up whatever odds & ends were hanging around in the fridge & pantry.

So I was delighted --- let me repeat that, DELIGHTED ---to discover Pam Anderson's How to Cook Without A Book. Rather than listing specific recipes, she shares general techniques, and then gives examples of how the techniques can be applied to create a variety of dishes. Those of
you who like cookbooks with lots of pictures ... try not to think of it as a cookbook. Think of it as a cooking manual, or a cooking class on paper.

I also love Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop, which is organized alphabetically by vegetable and has several great recipes for each, along with tips about how to choose, prep, and store each vegetable.

This book, likewise, has few pictures and lots of great information. I look in my fridge to see what needs fixing, look it up in VED, and in most cases I'm on my way, no questions asked, hitting the highway to suppertime.

These two cookbooks have enabled me to be much more flexible about what I cook for dinner and to avoid wasting food. Now, that's frugal!

Soups as Frugal Superstars:

I thought today I would share with you Pam's instructions for soup. Soup makes a lovely meal in the winter time, and it's the be-all and end-all of waste eliminators. Little
bits of vegetable and meat that don't really add up to much any other way suddenly became superstars in a steaming bowl of hearty supper soup. After all, if you liked it enough to buy it in the first place, the odds are good you're going to like it in soup! Besides the frugality of it, I love having a nice hot soup on the stove. It makes the house smell great, and all I have to add is some crusty bread or toast or a bit of salad, and we've got an economical and healthy meal. And usually leftovers.

So here's the basic formula for a quick supper soup:
  • Olive or vegetable oil for sautéing
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 pound vegetables, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 pound meat (boneless, skinless chicken thighs, Italian sausage in the casing,
    kielbasa sausage, ham, medium shrimp, or firm-fleshed fish)
  • Starch: 1 pound potatoes, cut into medium dice OR 2 cans (16 oz each) beans (white, black, or chickpeas) OR 4 ounces small pastashapes or egg noodles OR ½ long-grain white rice
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes (optional)
  • 2 cans (16 ounces each) or 1 carton (32 ounces) low-sodium canned chicken broth
  • Herbs, spice, or flavoring of choice
  • Salt and ground black
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or soup kettle. Add the onions and sauté to soften slightly, about 2 minutes. Add remaining vegetables, meat of choice*, starch of choice, tomatoes, chicken
broth, and dried herbs or spices. Partially cover and simmer until vegetables are tender and flavors have blended, about 20 minutes. Add fresh herbs, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4.

*Shrimp, cooked chicken, and pork tenderloin should be added during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

And here are some examples:

White Bean Soup with Ham and Escarole

1-pound chunk of ham (preferably bone-in), shredded into bite-size pieces or cut into cubes (this recipe is also good with Italian sausage or kielbasa)
8 oz (about 1/2 medium head) escarole, rough-chopped
2 medium carrots (about 8 oz total), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch rounds)
2 cans white beans, such as cannellini, rinsed and drained
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary

Chicken Vegetable Soup with Wide

I make this often with whatever vegetables are in the bin. I like to use shredded cabbage, added about 10 minutes into the simmer so it still has a bit of crunch at the rib. I usually substitute frozen shelled edamame for the peas, but have also used
frozen corn. In the summer we have lots of green beans from our garden, so in they go, cut small. Sometimes I use cooked chicken breast, which I add when I add the cabbage so its more delicate chicken flavor doesn't all leach out into the soup.
1 pound raw boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into medium dice (about 8 ounces)
2 medium celery stalks, cut into medium dice (4-5 ounces)
1/4 cup frozen green peas
4 oz wide egg noodles
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
Follow the basic soup recipe, removing chicken thighs after 10 minutes of simmering. When cool enough to handle, shred into bite-size pieces and return to soup.

I hope this has given you enough information and inspiration to improvise a delicious supper soup from whatever is in your pantry tonight! Let me leave you with some soup titles from How to Cook Without A Book to stimulate your creative juices. I'll add the suggested spices in parentheses, since that's one area where I like to have a little guidance when I'm cooking.

Happy souping!
Ham and Potato Soup with Leeks and Peas (dried thyme leaves)
White Bean Soup with Sausage, Peppers, and Kale (fresh rosemary)
Sausage Soup with Mushrooms, Zucchini, and Chickpeas (ground cumin)
Sausage Soup with Spinach, Cauliflower, and Noodles (none)
Pork Soup with Hominy and Peppers (fresh cilantro)
Chicken Spinach Soup with Rice and Lemon (lemon)
Curried Chicken Soup with Potatoes and Zucchini (curry powder)
Fish Soup with Cabbage and Potatoes (bay leaves, fresh parsley)
Gumbo-Style Shrimp Soup (bay leaves, parsley)

P.S. If you try a variation and it turns out great, we'd love to hear about it!

Feb 4, 2006

Oatmeal Cake with Buttermilk Icing

I have been craving Oatmeal Cake lately but most of the recipes I have found are not that healthy and most contain butter which I am trying to stay away from. I found one recipe on-line at Anita's Recipes and modified it a bit and it turned out great! It's healthy, moist and delicious.

Oatmeal Cake

1 1/2 c. boiling water
1 c. quick oats
1/2 c. soft light margarine, softened (I used Smart Balance brand)
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 eggs
2 egg white
1 Tbsp. ground flax seed
1/4 c. fat free plain yogurt
1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

In a bowl combine boiling water and oats. Stir and let set until water is absorbed. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9 inch square pan with cooking spray. In a mixing bowl, combine oat mixture, margarine, brown sugar, vanilla, egg, egg whites and yogurt. Mix well; set aside. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to oat mixture. Mix well. Pour batter into pan and bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely then ice with buttermilk icing.

Buttermilk Icing

1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. buttermilk
3 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all in a sauce pan and whisk over medium heat until thick.

Feb 1, 2006

Cute Quiz

I came across this cute little quiz today... click the link to take the quiz yourself... here are my results.

You Are Japanese Food

Strange yet delicious.
Contrary to popular belief, you're not always eaten raw.

Too cute... who knew I was so exotic :)