Archive for the ‘frugal me’ Category

I realize that is a very strange recipe title. Got any better ideas?

So last night you made a delicious chicken dish. Or perhaps it was a roast or ribs. Every last bit got inhaled and you are left with all those pan juices. 


Pour them into a jar or cup and refrigerate them. The fat will harden. 


The next day for lunch, thicken up those juices and serve them over rice, potatoes, noodles (my fave) or whatever you want. Veggies are good too. Using leftovers is great or cook up something fresh to pour your sauce on. 

This is essentially a gravy, tho not necessarily a typically flavored one when you use BBQ rib or honey baked chicken sauce.

Saucy Lunch

1 – 2 T fat from juices (or other fat if you prefer)

2 T flour

1 cup pan juices

Water, optional 

Heat fat in sauce pan. Whisk in flour. Slowly add juices while whisking quickly. Cook until thick, stirring constantly. If you think the sauce is a little rich or thick, add a few tablespoons of water. 


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Perhaps I should begin a series called How to Solve the Boring Lunch: Simple, Fast Fixes for the Noon Meal.

Along with Sautéed Curried Anything, I often make rice and beans for a quick lunch.

As long as there are some toppings, the kids devour this. I love it plain but sour cream and cheese make it even better.

The cayenne I’ve been using lately is just dried cayenne peppers that I ground up. The stuff is HOT. Use whatever form of heat you like…cayenne pepper, hot sauce, etc.

I have cilantro that volunteered in the garden. It’s slowly freezing out but I pick the wilted leaves and eat them anyway.

This dish can be made in about 10 minutes, including prep. Easy, peasy.

Measurements are approximate. I never measure this sort of thing!


Rice and Beans

Olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup prepared salsa
2 cups leftover rice
1 cup cooked dry beans
1/4 t cumin
Sprinkle of red cayenne pepper flakes
Sour cream
Grated cheese

Sauté the peppers and onions lightly in the oil. Add the salsa, rice, beans, cumin, and red pepper. Heat through. Garnish with sour cream, cheese, and cilantro.

Serves: 3?

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When there aren’t any leftovers, or not enough to go around, and sandwich fixings are at a minimum, sauté all of the things in the fridge, add curry, and call it lunch.

This kids despise when I do this. I happen to love it. I’ve never asked Brad to eat this as he is not a curry fan. Perhaps if I used a different seasoning he would partake. I like curry (tho not a ton at once) so I use lunch as my chance to try to get the children on board. It hasn’t worked yet.

Other veg I like to use (in season or from freezer) include zucchini, peppers, corn, leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, etc. Really, it’s a clean-out-the-fridge sort of dish. My favorite.

I also do this without the meat if we happen to have another protein source on hand to go with it.


Curried Lunch
(This particular mixture in parenthesis)

Meat (ground venison)
Fat (olive oil)
Vegetables, thinly sliced or chopped (onion, carrot, cabbage)
Seasonings (salt, pepper, curry powder)

Heat fat in skillet. Brown meat and then add the veggies. Sauté until just tender. Sprinkle with seasonings and serve hot.

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During the height of salad season a few weeks back, I baked a batch of bread and it failed. It just got rather heavy and holey, not exactly lovely sandwich material.

So I did the best thing I could think of: made croutons. I didn’t regret it. These things are like potato chips. Once you start, you can’t stop munching!

Seems to me that eating all of the croutons is also like getting pregnant. It happens fast!

(Yes. We are expecting #4 around the beginning of February.) (!!!)



Stale or flopped bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Butter, melted
Olive oil
Italian herbs (parsley, basil, thyme, oregano, garlic, etc)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Drizzle the butter and oil over the bread cubes and stir well. You want the bread to be fairly moist but not drenched.

Stir on the herbs, salt, pepper, and cheese. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350 until golden and almost crispy. They will crisp up more as they cool. This takes about 45 minutes in my oven but it’s slow. Probably won’t take that long for you. Just check them every 5 or 10 minutes and give them a stir.

Store in an airtight container or jar. Yum.

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A friend of mine recently expressed interest in my laundry detergent recipe so I thought I would post it here, though I’m not suggesting you try to eat it. It may or may not taste like a dry citronella candle.

I’ve been using this detergent for about a year now and am loving it. The zote soap smells like citronella but the clean clothes do not. They just smell fresh. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that I hang most of my laundry outside…

SONY DSCI store my detergent in a little copper flour canister. It sits on top of my washer all of the time.

SONY DSCPowdered Laundry Detergent

(I can’t remember where I got this recipe. Oops.)

1 lb 3 oz borax

14 oz washing soda

7 oz (half a bar) zote soap, very finely grated

1 pound baking soda

8 oz oxiclean (optional…I use it)

Mix everything together. Store in a closed container. Use 2 to 4 tablespoons per load of laundry, depending on the load size and how dirty everything is.

Yield: about 4 pounds…lasts me a few months

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Brad’s not a big fan of my homemade yogurt. It’s completely unflavored and if I’m being honest, a bit boring to eat alone. Recently he discovered Chobani Greek yogurt and I decided it was about time that I try my hand at it. He loves the consistency of the Greek stuff. It’s thicker and richer. Only problems? It’s expensive and then we have lots of yogurt containers that need dealt with.

Here’s what I do:

I make my usual plain yogurt using whole milk. Then I take 5 or 6 cups of it and hang it in several thicknesses of cheese cloth. I let about 2 cups of whey drip out. This takes about an hour, 2 tops.

You can check the consistency of it periodically. Don’t worry about draining it too long. You can always stir some whey back in to thin it out.

Then throw it in a bowl with the fruit sauce of your choice. I use homemade pie filling which I make using about half the sugar called for. Depending on the sweetness and fruitiness that you want, you’ll probably want to use 1 to 2 cups of fruit to the 3 to 4 cups of thick yogurt.

Stir it all up! Since the yogurt has been at room temp for a while, I always chill it before we eat it.

Fruit sauces we like: cherry, strawberry, and blueberry.

The verdict? He loves it! So do the kids and I. We are eating a lot more yogurt now that I’ve turned it Greek. The only problem is using up all that whey. Any good suggestions besides making bread and pancakes?

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I know there are a million and one blogs out there that post every dish they are going to eat for each week but I am going to do it anyway. (Or at least try.) I’ve been menu planning for the last 8 months or so and have found it very helpful. With all of the food that I put up, it really does help me to go through it. Otherwise, I tend to go to the grocery store and pick up random foods that look tasty. Then, when I go to cook, I realize I have all of these things in the fridge that need. used. now. and I can’t pull anything out of the freezer or off of the canning shelves. (I’m aware this is a sign that we have a lot of/too much food. Yes, it’s ridiculous.)

I want to encourage you to menu plan, too. Even if you don’t preserve hundreds of quarts of tomatoes and peaches, I’m sure you have a pantry with random cans of veggies or bags of beans stuffed in the corners or a refrigerator with lost jars of tomato sauce or a couple of withered carrots lollygagging around. Don’t you? DON’T you? Come on, admit it. We all throw out food that should have been used a couple of weeks (months? years?) ago. I really feel like I’m throwing less out now that I have a bit of a plan.

Don’t you roll your eyes at me. I know you are probably thinking that you don’t have time for this stuff. I know I did. But then I started spending 10 minutes on the weekends jotting notes on scraps of papers about what I could possibly cook up that week. And it was fun. I would peek in the fridge and see if there was anything that might spoil in the next few days and put that on the menu for Monday or Tuesday. Then I’d fill in the rest of the week using pantry/freezer/seasonal ingredients, adding things to my grocery list that I might not have in stock.

I’m not a stickler. I don’t necessarily cook everything I scribble on my papers. Sometimes later in the week I’ll discover a jar of something I hadn’t seen in the back of the fridge. Or I’ll notice the tomatoes that are rotting on the counter so I’ll make a pot of spaghetti instead of the planned honey baked chicken. It’s a bit like a puzzle. A puzzle that ultimately saves me time and money. Who doesn’t like that kind of puzzle?

Something I should highlight here…our meals are not always logical. Sometimes they really don’t make any sense at all (just check out Monday’s plan if you need an example). I just try to have a protein, starch, and green veggie at each meal. I throw random dishes in that I really feel like cooking or if I just want to use up an ingredient.

So without further ado, here ’tis. Be inspired. Or maybe not.

This week I have some peppers to use up. Frost was threatening early last week and so I picked all of the peppers, whether they were red or not. So recipes featuring them are up for the beginning of the week. I also dug the sweet potatoes and have some damaged ones that need used up.

Monday: Roasted Red Pepper Soup, Baked Corn, Green Beans, Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions

Tuesday: Sweet and Sour Lentils with Rice, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Salad

Wednesday: Stuffed Peppers, Broccoli, Fresh Bread

Thursday: Meatloaf, Roasted Sweet and White Potatoes, Green Beans

Friday: Macaroni and Cheese, Stewed Tomatoes, Broccoli

Saturday: Deep Dish Chicken Pie, Cranberry Relish

Sunday: Negotiable

Note number 1: I don’t make a plan for Sunday. More often than not we either go to someone’s house or out to eat that evening. Or we will have gone away one night during the week and I’ll make that meal on Sunday night. Or we’ll eat something random and quick that I whip up. I consider Sundays a bit of an “off” day for me.

Note number 2: Usually I don’t pencil in desserts on my menus. I like to make sweets on a whim. Feel like a pumpkin pie on Tuesday? Great. Make one. Want some pudding on a Friday? Good because the milk needs used up ASAP.

Note number 3: We eat leftovers for lunch. I don’t very often have to serve them at an evening meal so that’s why we don’t have a leftovers night.

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