Saturday, January 30, 2010

We interuppt this blog...

... to move to another state. I'll be back next week with more recipes and favorites - as soon as I find all my pots, pans, and food.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dried Fruit Salad

This salad got whipped together for a family dinner with whatever I had in my cupboards and it turned out remarkably well. I'll make this one again.

3 Hearts of Romaine, chopped
1/3 c Sunflower Seeds
1/2 c Golden Raisins
1/2 c Dried Cranberries

Wisk together
1 T Poppy seeds
1/2 c White Sugar
2 t Minced onion
1/4 t Paprika
1/4 c White wine vinegar
1/4 c Cider vinegar
1/2 c Canola oil

Monday, January 25, 2010

Spinach Artichoke Dip

My mother-in-law makes this dip and I love it. It's not as greasy as many restaurant versions. Gonna make myself a round of this to munch on for the Super Bowl.

4 oz Cream Cheese
1/2 c Mayo
1/2 Knorr Vegetable Soup package

Stir in:
6 oz Mozzarella cheese, shredded
5 oz Frozen spinach (1/2 pkg), thawed and drained
7 oz Artichoke hearts, chopped

Spread into baking dish and sprinkle with 1/4 c Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with blue tortilla chips.

Cream Cheese - $.50 (Aldi)
Mayo - $.25 (Aldi)
Soup Pkg - $.75
Mozzarella - $1.00 (Aldi)
Spinach - $.50 (Meijer)
Artichokes - $2.50
Parmesan - $.30 (Aldi)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sauted Spaghetti

This is my favorite leftover concoction. It is a flexible method that you can use just about everything you've got in the fridge. I do have some some favorites, but you can decide for yourself what's the best combination.

2 c Meat, small slices or chunks
2 c Veggies, chopped small
6 c Pasta, cooked
1 t Garlic, minced
1 T Olive Oil
1 t Sesame Oil
1 t Sea Salt
1 t Oregano
1-4 T pasta water

Lightly saute meat in hot oil while pasta cooks. Add garlic and vegetables to meat and saute until softened. Add cooked pasta, spices, and sesame oil. If pasta is a bit dry, add a bit of the water drained from the pasta. Stir continuously for 1-2 minutes. Top with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Meat $2-4
Veggies $1-3
Pasta $1
Garlic/Oil/Spice from stock

Meat - Sausage (link & ground), ham, bacon, etc (I like something that renders a bit of fat to flavor the pasta since no sauce is used)
Veggies - Baby bok choy*, peppers, broccoli, carrots, celery, green beans (french cut), zucchini, yellow squash, etc.
Pasta - linguine*, spaghetti, fettuccine, penne, etc
* = my fav

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sausage Balls

I dislike meatballs. I know some of you might be gasping at the thought, but it's true. The texture never is right, the taste isn't right... okay, I just don't like them.

THEN, I was introduced to these lovelies. Tried them at Holiday Hints last year and have loved them ever since. I make them as appetizers, to serve with spaghetti, eat leftovers for breakfast...
Oh, and they are wonderful. Adapted from

2 1/2 c Baking mix
1 lb Bulk pork sausage
4 c Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 c Parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 c Milk
1 t Dried rosemary leaves, crushed
1 1/2 tsp Fresh parsley, chopped (or 1/2 tsp parsley flakes)
Barbecue, sweet & sour, or chili sauce, if desired

1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a jelly roll pan.
2. Stir together all ingredients, using hands or spoon. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place on pan.
3. Bake 20-25 min or until brown. Immediately remove from pan. Serve warm with dipping sauces. Makes about 6-8 dozen balls.

Sausage $2 (Aldi's)
Baking Mix $.75 (Aldi's)
Cheddar $1.50 (Costco)
Parm Cheese $.40 (Aldi's)
Milk $.10 (Aldi's)
Spices from stock

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sausage, Peppers, and Rice

This is quick dinner that my friend Andrea makes. I was leary of it at first, because I'm not a huge sausage fan, but let me tell you - this is a great mixture of textures and flavors.

2 pkgs Lipton Spanish Rice Mix (prepared)
1 pkg Smoked Sausage, cut into 1/4 - 1/3" slices
1 Sweet pepper, diced
1 sm Onion, diced
Spice to taste (1/2 tsp allspice, cumin, cinnamon, or paprika)

In a large saute pan, brown sausage slices. Add peppers and onions and cook until soft. Sprinkle with spice and add rice, stir and serve.

Serve with a big salad and dinner is on.

Rice $2.00 (Meijer sale)
Sausage $1.50 (Meijer sale)
Pepper $1.00 (Aldi)
Onion $.25 (Aldi)
Spices (from stock)

Sausages - Chorizo, smoked, kielbasa, etc
Rice - Spanish, Mexican, Yellow, etc)
Veggies - Sweet and hot peppers, Onions, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, etc

Monday, January 18, 2010

Budget Saver Nachos

Let me say once again, how much I love Mexican food and flavors. The warming spices, the subtle heat (and sometimes blazing heat), incredible sauces, balance of meat/vegetables/carbs, and that doesn't take into account the vivid colors. It just looks good to eat.

For a quick fix meal I love to take some leftover taco meat and make myself a plate of yummy nachos. I use either chicken and beef filling - whatever I have on hand. If I have blue corn tortilla chips it's even better.

Oven Option: lightly spray a cookie sheet and lay out tortilla chips. Layer meat, veggies (I like tomatoes and peppers), and top with cheese (Cheddar or Monterrey-Jack). Bake for 5-8 minutes at 350 or until cheese is melted.

Microwave Option: On a plate, lay out tortilla chips, meat, veggies and cheese. Heat for 1-2 minutes at half power (gives you soft cheese - full power often will make the cheese overly crispy).

Total Cost: $2.25 - $5.00
Tortilla Chips $1.00
Cheese $.50
Tomato $.50
Peppers $.25
Taco Meat (left over) or $2.75

Veggies - Jalapenos or other hot peppers, any mild pepper, onions, tomato, tomatillos, etc
Toppings - lettuce, sour cream, hot sauce, salsa, etc
Meat(ground or shredded) - beef , chicken, turkey, pork, venison, etc.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Frugal Tip: Soup

I love a big pot of soup, but I don't love eating it for three straight days. Yes, I know that I could cut the recipe in half, but if I'm gonna spend the time to make a bunch of delicious, cold-day goodness - I might as well go big. My solution - the freezer.

Now I've tried different methods of freezing soups to make the most of freezer space. The disposable "gladware" stuff, specialized freezer containers, and freezer bags. I've finally found the best space saver, and ease in reheating.

I fill the freezer bag and squeeze the extra air out. Then I lay the bag flat in the freezer until it's solidly frozen. Then I can store the bags stacked upright in a small box or plastic shoe tote.

Now this shape also comes in handy when it's time to reheat. Instead of having a large block of soup, I have a thin plank of soup. Simply cut open the bag and microwave until heated through. You can also stove heat and add just a bit of water, broth, or milk to help get it started and not burn - while stirring.

If you have the time you can pull the frozen soup out and thaw, but I rarely end up doing this. Soup is more of my go to comfort food or last minute meal solution. Add a bit of bread or a sandwich and you are good to go.

Note: when freezing soups with a pasta or noodle, be careful that the pasta is still pretty firm. The recooking can make it mushy if it's already soft to begin with.

I'm back... sort of

We interrupt this moving process to get back to cooking. Sorry for my absence. We've sold our house and will be moving to North Dakota in a couple of weeks. But I need a break from organizing, packing, and cleaning up after the flu that hit the house.

I'm well again and food actually sounds and tastes good again. So, I'm back for a brief interlude until the move gets underway and we get settled in our new home. I'm guessing I'll have lots of time to experiment in the kitchen until we get established in the area and start to meet people. Besides it is beyond stinking cold there so what else am I going to do?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Taking a brief respite from cooking and posting while we are in the process of selling our house and looking into moving. I'll be back soon.