Thursday, May 29, 2008

An Egg Substitution

As I was mixing up pancake batter yesterday for our breakfast this morning, I realized that I only had one egg left. And I needed two eggs for my recipe.

I have a list of different egg substitutions so I perused the list and decided to try adding a mashed banana instead of the one egg. After all, we love banana pancakes, right?

This worked great. Yum! The pancakes were extra light and fluffy with a nice subtle banana flavor.

And I didn't have to make a quick trip to the grocery store.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

So Many Recipes!

I love to cook and try new recipes. Blog-reading certainly gives me the opportunity to view many recipes that sound so yummy.

I often will print these out to try very soon. But before I know it, a year (or two) has gone by and I still haven't used the recipe.

This week, I've tried new yummy recipes and thought I'd share the links with you! I have my recent burst of cleaning energy to thank for unearthing these printed recipes!

Basil-Walnut Mayonnaise over Chicken Pasta Salad from The Common Room.
All I can say is YUM!!! And why did it take me a year to try this? (Oh, yeah, because it took me that long to find it hiding on the desk!)I used my fresh-from-the-garden basil and some of my 2 pound hunk of Parmesan cheese(I routinely splurge on this at Sam's Club. It is so much better than the stuff in a can and lasts a while too.). The mayo is mixed with basil, walnuts, cheese and garlic like a pesto. I look forward to using this as a spread for wraps and sandwiches this summer. This salad is a new family favorite!

Monica's Chicken Pot Pie from The Homespun Heart.

Ok, so I printed this recipe out in 2006!!! I had Chicken Biscuit Bake on the menu for last night which is a chicken pot pie with biscuits on top instead of pie dough. I think it's quicker to make and easier than making pie crusts. But since I am rationing my egg usage to make them last until grocery day, I decided to make pie crusts instead. This brought to mind that I still hadn't tried this recipe.

Chicken pot pie can be a little time-consuming to prepare but this recipe makes two (one to eat and one to freeze), so it was time well-spent. I actually made 2 regular pie pans full and still had enough filling for a medium size loaf pan. So we will get 3 meals(plus a few lunches out of this).I used some leftover cooked veggies and a jar of my home-canned potato soup mix(potatoes, carrots and celery) so I skipped the cooking veggies step. I really like that this recipe uses a white sauce rather than canned cream soup. This was really tasty and we liked the sauce better than the pot pie recipe that I had been making! This will now be my regular Chicken Pot Pie recipe!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Another week, another menu! How time goes by!

Here we go for this week...

Breakfast-toast and jam
Lunch-We eat potluck-style with our church family. This week I made meatballs and rice.
Dinner-Memorial Day Cookout. I took a chocolate cake.

Breakfast-banana chocolate muffins, apple slices
Lunch- Basil-Mayonnaise Chicken Pasta Salad,strawberries, chocolate cake
Dinner-leftover buffet

Breakfast-cream of wheat, strawberries
Dinner-chicken biscuit bake, salad

Breakfast-cold cereal, milk, bananas
Dinner-homemade pizza, salad

Dinner-lemon herb chicken, pasta, salad or steamed veggie

Breakfast-cream of wheat, apple slices
Dinner-salmon patties, homemade bread, green beans

Breakfast-muffins or toast
Dinner-scrambled eggs, bacon, homemade biscuits

This post is a part of Menu Plan Mondays.

Friday, May 23, 2008

S-T-R-E-T-C-H-I-N-G in the kitchen

I'm not doing exercises while cooking these days! But I am making a conscious effort to stretch my grocery dollar by making the most of the food that I have.

I'm still purchasing mainly the same things each grocery trip. Even with rising prices, the basic ingredients that I buy to cook from scratch are still some of the most inexpensive foods out there.

I've found that the difference is how I plan my menus and use the different foods. Not only am I stretching the food dollar but also my creativity!

Last week,I cooked a 2 1/2 pound roast. I was determined to make it last for 3 meals so I planned accordingly. Crock pot roast beef with potatoes and carrots the first night. Beef stroganoff for the second. The third night was beef pilaf salad, a yummy concoction of beef and rice with added veggies. I soon realized that I had plenty of veggies left from the first night, so I scratched the plan for the fourth night and made an impromptu beef stew instead-dicing the leftover beef and veggies and adding the beef broth I had saved, plus some leftover tomato sauce and a can of diced tomatoes from my pantry. I added some spices and we ate this over leftover rice that I had cooked earlier in the week for the rice salad. Four meals out of one roast! I know that I'm only feeding two people but we also ate dinner leftovers for lunch each day so technically we had 8 meals out of it.

This week I still had a meal's worth of rice left so I served that along with pinto beans, cheese, salsa and sour cream for a filling dinner.

In the past month, leftover oatmeal has been used to make oatmeal bread. I also added some to my regular pancake batter one night and added a little wheat germ, some strawberry-banana puree along with the cooked oatmeal. Yummy!

Last night, I used one chicken breast for our meal instead of two. We both had plenty to eat along with the sides that I had prepared.

A little extra thought and planning can go a long way to helping to stretch your grocery dollars!

What are some things that you do to stretch your meals and budget?

Thanks to Crystal for hosting Frugal Fridays!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Homemade Yogurt

I've been making our yogurt for about a year now. It's a simpler process than you might think. I know I was surprised when I found out how easy it was!

We've been buying raw milk from a local dairy and using some of this milk to make yogurt. I know some say that homemade yogurt is less expensive. From my calculations, it turns out to be about the same price for both homemade and store-bought. But if you are able to use milk that has been bought at a reduced price, then the homemade will be less expensive. The homemade is healthier though since it has no added sugars or preservatives and I know exactly what's in it! We also have a hard time using a whole gallon of milk before it goes bad so this is an excellent way to make good use of that.

I use a small yogurt maker that I found new in the box at Goodwill. This gave me the courage to try making yogurt!

I have read on different blogs how some make yogurt by putting it in jars or bowls in the oven overnight. I would like to try this at some point, not only as a way to reduce the amount of gadgets I have around but also because I could make more than one quart of yogurt at a time this way. Stephanie gives wonderful instructions here.

To make yogurt, simply heat 1 quart(4 cups) of milk on the stove at medium heat until almost to the boiling point( bubbles will form around the edge). At this point remove milk from heat and let drop to between 100-110 degrees. I put it in the refrigerator and set the timer for 20 minutes as that's about how long it takes to cool to that point. (Use a candy/cooking thermometer!) When at the right temperature, gently stir in 1/2 cup of plain yogurt(with live cultures). Place all in the warmed yogurt maker or jars in a warm oven and let set until cultured, about 6-8 hours or overnight. Refrigerate yogurt for several hours before serving.

This will of course be plain yogurt. You can eat it plain as I often like to do or add fruit and sweeteners. My husband likes it with honey and vanilla. Homemade yogurt won't be nearly as creamy and smooth as store bought.It is also slightly runnier. Also the longer it cultures, the more tart it will be.

I still purchase yogurt when I can combine coupons with a sale since we enjoy it so much. But I love that I now know how to make my own as well!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Breakfast:bagels with cream cheese, fruit
Lunch: We eat potluck style with our church family. This week I took pizza and salads(leftover from my brother-in-law's graduation party) and lemon pound cake.
Dinner:leftovers from lunch

Breakfast:leftover bagels and toast, apple slices
Dinner: chicken orzo, salad

Breakfast: oatmeal with dried fruit
Dinner: pinto beans, rice, cheese, salsa, sour cream

Breakfast:cold cereal, milk, bananas
Dinner: spinach quiche, sliced veggies, fruit

Breakfast:eggs, toast, apple slices
Dinner: Israeli Spice chicken chunks, tabouli, hummus with chips

Breakfast:zucchini muffins, bananas
Dinner:baked salmon, baked potatoes, steamed veggies

Breakfast:cold cereal, milk, bananas
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner:creamed eggs on toast

This post is part of Menu Plan Mondays!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Frugal Fridays: The Summer Salad Edition

As the weather warms up and summer approaches, I am gearing up with a list of "cool" meals to make and serve during those hot hot days.

Today I will share a few of our favorite salad recipes with you. These are hearty enough to serve as a main dish or you can pick several and have a salad buffet. These recipes all use mostly basic pantry ingredients and can utilize leftover fruits and veggies as well as already cooked meats, rice or pasta.

Salads are so wonderful in the summer. They're quick to prepare and you can make them ahead and have them in the refrigerator chilling until you're ready to pull them out and serve.

I usually serve these salads with homemade bread and some fruit.

Beef Pilaf Salad
This is our new favorite. Feel free to substitute the apples and veggies with something else that you have on hand or like better. I always add more rice to make it a bit heartier.

Salad Ingredients: Mix all in large salad bowl.
2 cups thinly sliced or chopped beef sirloin steak or leftover roast
1 (16 oz.) can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 or 2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup canned garbanzo beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped apple
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 small green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup sliced black olives
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

Dressing ingredients: Mix in jar with tight-fitting lid; shake well and pour over salad ingredients. Chill for at least one hour before serving.

1/3 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
dash of cayenne pepper

Baked Potato Salad

Slice, dice and toss together:
6-8 cups baked potatoes(cooled)
3 hard-boiled eggs(cooled)
3-4 strips cooked bacon
1/8 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup chopped celery

Mix together in separate bowl:
3/4 cup mayo
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon dill weed
1 teaspoon salt
Pour over potatoes and mix well. Best if chilled before serving. Makes 6-8 large servings.

Tuna Pasta Salad
Cook a half box (or whole box depending on size of family) of pasta per package instructions and drain. Let cool. Drain a can of tuna or salmon. Even leftover cubed chicken can be used. Chop several different kinds of veggies (tomatoes, green peppers, carrots, cucumbers, etc.) and add to salad bowl with meat. Add some cheese chunks if you'd like. Stir in cooked pasta. Add several spoonfuls of mayonnaise and stir adding until creamy enough to suit you. Season as desired(garlic powder, onion, mustard, chopped pickles, salt, pepper,etc.) and chill before serving.

Need more frugal ideas? Visit Biblical Womanhood!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

So Much To Do...So Little Time Part 3

Well, I must say that since I've gotten a few small tasks completed I am much more motivated to continue. Like Amy, there are holes where my clutter has been!

This week I was able to accomplish:

1)Cleaning half of the storage shed. Yeah! We worked for about 2 hours on Saturday at this. I was able to move some things to the shed from the house and put them where they belonged. The next half of the shed will be a little more detailed as we need to sort through pre-marriage boxes of stuff that have just been stored. We need to go through them and toss stuff(or recycle) and then pack the remaining treasures in Rubbermaid-type boxes.

2)Two garbage bags of stuff donated to Goodwill. I've had these things sitting in the office for some time waiting. For tax purposes this year, I'm making a list of everything we donate. So after I went through everything and wrote it all down, off it went!

3)Working in the office: I got the computer desk cleaned and straightened. So much better! The bags for Goodwill were in here too, now they are gone, leaving extra space. I did some general straightening up plus moved some stuff to the storage shed. Just a few minutes each day has made such a difference already.

4)Cleaned out my closet. I finished changing out my winter clothes and replaced the closets and drawers with the summer clothes. I have 2 more bags to go to Goodwill now, but I'll wait until my husband goes through his clothes, since he will no doubt have something to donate as well.:-)I'm making a list of the few things I still need to round out my summer wardrobe plus starting to look for replacements for fall and winter.(My cool weather clothing was looking quite sad this year!)

It's beginning to look a lot more like my house again!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Little Bit Of Gardening

Even though we are helping our friends with their big garden again this year, I still wanted a few things to pick right outside my own door. I've had basil growing for a while now as well as lettuce in pots. Today I planted some pots of dill and chives as well as some cherry tomatoes and beans in the front flowerbed. We'll see how they grow here! I needed to plant in an area that would be pretty much dog-proof and this was it. I also have some yellow peppers to plant yet.

I wanted my own fresh dill to use for more homemade pickles this year!

The little ones also did some gardening of their own!

What have you planted this year? Or depending on where you're from, what do you plan to grow?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

For Mom, From Toddler

This is what I helped the little ones make for their mothers this Mother's Day.

It's sometimes difficult to come up with gifts for toddlers to make that don't look like a craft that the adult created while the child looked on!

This is easy, easy. But when it comes to squirmy one year olds, simple is always better!

These pictures can be made by any age child, and are an excellent choice if you have little ones. I used card stock and Crayola finger paints, letting one color of hand prints dry before using the second color. These could be made with all sorts of variations and can easily be adapted for Father's Day. Just be sure you write Dad instead of Mom!! hahaha

Keeping it simple,I mounted each picture on a coordinating color of paper. It's either ready to frame or can be placed in a scrapbook for safe-keeping!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Menu Planning Calendar

I love this monthly menu planning calendar from The Family Homestead. I've used different menu plan forms in the past and I think this is my favorite. It's so neat, light enough on graphics that it's quick to print and I can see at a glance what we've been eating for a month. This clears up my refrigerator from the scraps of paper I was currently using for menu plans.

I usually plan my menus only 2 weeks in advance to coordinate with my shopping times. Saving these menus will end up being a menu-planning time-saver later, though!

Menu Plan Monday

Here's what we're eating for dinner this week. I'm also getting back on the band wagon and planning breakfasts again. I had gotten lax on this and we just haven't had much variety at all, just whatever I could cook up (literally) at the last minute. Weekday lunches are usually leftovers.

Breakfast-strawberry-banana oatmeal wheat germ pancakes
Lunch-potluck style with church family; I'm taking broccoli with cheese sauce.
Dinner-tuna melts

Breakfast- zucchini-banana bread, homemade yogurt
Dinner-Roast Beef with potatoes and carrots in Crockpot, homemade wheat rolls, salad

Breakfast- oatmeal with dried fruit
Dinner-Beef Stroganoff over egg noodles, salad

Breakfast- eggs & toast, bananas
Dinner-Beef Pilaf Salad, homemade wheat rolls, apple slices

Breakfast-s.b.o.w.g. pancakes, fresh pineapple
Dinner-Chicken & Veggie Biscuit Bake

Breakfast- cream of wheat, bananas
Dinner-Baked Salmon, brown rice, steamed veggies

Breakfast-cold cereal, bananas
Lunch & Dinner- We'll be visiting family.

For more menu planning inspiration, please visit I'm an organizing junkie!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Am I The Only One Who Didn't Know This?

Blogger now has a new feature that allows scheduling posts for the future. I discovered it quite by accident the other day when I had the wrong time on the post. Since then, I've played with it and plan to use it a lot!

Then I read this announcement on Blogger news today and realized this is new since last week. Yeah!

It will be so awesome to be able to get a bunch of posts ready and have them automatically post at a scheduled time. The above link gives specific instructions on how this works.

Way to go, Blogger!

Friday, May 09, 2008

What I Look For At Yard Sales

'Tis the season! The season of yard sales that is. You will find us up and ready to go early, at least two Saturday mornings each month. We love hunting for good deals and have found lots of great stuff already this year!

Even though I love going to these sales, I am very choosy as to what I bring home.I treat a yard sale much as I would a store- Would I pay full price for this? Is it really what I want? Can I make it work until I find something better? The answer to the first question is almost always a no, because I don't often pay full price for anything!haha

I keep a list, sometimes written but mostly mental, as to what I am looking for. I will share that here for fun. Please share the types of things you often look for when at yard sales or thrift stores!

This list is not in any particular order of importance.

1.Tupperware storage containers. Especially the larger Modular Mates.

2. Canning supplies. Real canning jars, canners, Foley Mill, etc. I have already found most of what I need and can store in this department, but always look just in case.Estate sales are the best place for this.

3. Children's supplies. Toys, equipment, consumable art supplies,books. This summer, I'm mainly looking for classic little boy toys that will replace the more babyish toys and that will grow with the toddlers. I pretty much have all the equipment that I need right now.

4. Sports memorabilia. My husband's category! He has successfully e bayed some of his finds and kept a few for himself. He knows what he's looking for in this area.

5. CD's. Again, my musician husband's arena!

6. Videos,DVD's and books. VHS tapes are often cheaper than renting a movie. We keep it if it's one we want in our library. If not, we pass it along to someone else. We've found brand-new wrapped DVD's for a song because they were duplicate Christmas or birthday gifts. Books are usually pretty cheap, so I always look through them and see if there's a title I might enjoy. Like movies, we pass books along if we don't want to keep them.

7.Fabric and sewing supplies. There are enough non-sewers around that these items can be gotten for quite cheap. I look for specific types of fabrics and trims. Clothing, sheets and curtains are also fabric options. I have saved a lot of money by buying sewing stuff used instead of new!

8. Kitchen items. I love nice dishes! Currently my space is limited but every so often I find a piece that I know I will use. Bread pans of a certain size and shape always appeal to me. Also Pyrex dishes and storage jars.

9. Linens. I have a real weakness for table cloths and napkins. When we were first married, I found 4 or 5 table cloths that matched my decor in 2 weeks time! After that, I put myself on a tablecloth fast. Now some of those are stained so I'm once again free to purchase a few! Vintage styles are especially appealing to me. I have way too many cloth napkins so I'm not buying those right now. :-0

10. Clothing. Only if it's something I'm looking for. I hate looking through piles of clothes. Same as at thrift stores where I hate pawing through all the racks of clothing unless looking for a specific item. Last week, I found shoes and my husband found a couple of shirts that we needed. I am not against wearing used clothing; there's just something about rooting through piles of clothes that annoys me. Hopefully, I'll get over this when we have kids...

11. Furniture. These items often are gone first at sales since lots of people are looking for furniture. Great deals can be found though, especially if you are willing to paint or slipcover. We've found wonderful bargains this way!

12. Decorative items. I love baskets, especially square or rectangular shapes. Also picnic-type baskets. Wall art is something I always look at. I don't do many knick knacks in my home so I usually pass those by.

13. Miscellaneous items. Stuff that gets used up like envelopes, cards, stickers, paper. Even items like candles, bath gel, lotion. Often these are brand-new containers. I got a new bottle of the facial moisturizer that I use for 25 cents vs. close to $5 in the store. A locally made jar candle was found in the FREE box a couple of weeks ago.

Your turn. What sort of things are you hoping to snap up at yard sales this summer?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

So Much To Do...So Little Time Part 2

My progress for this week:

1) Created a bill-paying box. Since I don't have a desk to sit at to pay bills and work on finances, I thought it would be efficient to create a box or basket that held all bill and correspondence supplies that I can just take to the dining room table with me and have everything there that I need. This includes my bill-paying notebook, envelopes,address labels, stamps and stamp reorder forms, a pad of stationary, small calculator, paper clips and ready-to-mail-birthday cards. It's all together so no more needing something and realizing that little one is sleeping and I'll just have to wait! Eventually, I would like to find a permanent spot for this box in the dining room but I'll need to work on that!

2)Rearranged the living room and spray painted a shelf and picture frame. Both are hung now and look great!(Pictures and post to come on that.)We keep acquiring new furniture and I think I've finally found an arrangement that I really like and is more kid-safe. Things are looking more together now and that makes me feel good!:-)

3)Scanned through my cookbook shelf and found a few cookbooks that I can get rid of. I love to cook as you can tell by the high amount of cooking and kitchen posts you see here. I also like to read cookbooks for inspiration and have accumulated a nice collection. My goal has been to keep them limited to what fits on the top of my hutch. It was starting to get a little full so I knew I could stand to thin them out. The shelf has a little breathing room now and there's not so much danger of a cookbook avalanche! I'm also working on transferring my favorite recipes from a photo album into a recipe binder that was given to me.

4) Purchased curtain rods for dining room curtains that need to be sewed. Hopefully this will happen soon!

So not much crossed off my office list, but progress nonetheless! I'm hoping to spend an entire Saturday at home(literally, the first in months) this weekend so I plan to work in the office then.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

A Date With My Food Processor

Ok, maybe that sounds a bit odd...But this morning, I scheduled time to use my food processor! I do this from time to time when I have a bunch of different things to chop, puree or shred. It is a most wonderful time-saver and servant!

A food processor is a wonderful tool but also can be a pain to get out and then wash after every little chore. So when I use it, I try to think of everything I need to do while it's out. I wipe or rinse it out between foods and then just wash it all when I'm finished.

Today, in a very short time, I pureed strawberries and bananas for a week's worth of daily green smoothies(my blender needs to be replaced so I'm improvising!), then shredded a head of cabbage, a bunch of carrots and 2 blocks of cheese.

Meal prep is a cinch when a lot of the prep work is done already!