Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Baked Tortilla Chips

These are majorly easy and cheap, and they're another good move if you need to watch the fat or sodium in your diet.  If you want a little more of the traditional fried chip flavor, you could brush them with a little canola oil before putting them in the oven...or even some oil and fresh lime juice to make them lime tortilla chips if you're into that type of thing.  Try them out, and post any variation ideas in the comments if you hit on something good.

Baked Tortilla Chips

6 corn tortillas

Cut the tortillas into quarters.  Lay on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake at 400 degrees or until crispy, about 5 minutes perside, salting before you turn them.  They crisp up even more after they cool.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Here's my go-to guacamole recipe.  It's somewhat like the guacamole served in our favorite burrito joint, Chipotle.  Many recipes I've seen for guacamole have lots of garlic and salsa in them, but it's so good to keep it fresh and simple.  It's really important to use fresh lime here; it's definitely worth the extra 40 cents!  Make sure your avacados are ripe, but not mushy.  Again, adjust the seasoning to taste...and you may want to make a double batch if you're dipping with chips.


2 medium ripe Hass Avacados
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1/4 lime, juiced
1/2 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients and mash together with a fork.  Keep it chunky if you like or mash until smooth.

Adapted from

Monday, June 27, 2011

Corn Bread

Here's another great recipe from my good friend Christine.

Corn Bread

Corn bread is a versatile side dish.  In the winter, you can pair it with a hearty soup or stew.  In the summer, it works great with baked beans and a tossed salad.  Our family is a big fan of a sweet cornbread.  This cornbread has become our favorite.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 egg, separated
1 cup milk
1/3 cup margarine, melted (or if you're into healthy, vegetable oil)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray or lightly coat an 8 inch square baking pan with oil. 

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Whisk to completely incorporate.

Separate eggs into two smaller bowls.  Whisk egg yolk while slowly drizzling margarine until combined.  Go slowly with the margarine; you are creating an emulsion.  Then add the egg white and whisk to combine completely.  Last, add the milk to the wet ingredients and whisk until it is one smooth, creamy liquid mixture.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix to the point where there are a few lumps left.  Walk away from the mixture for five minutes to rest.  When you come back, it will have bubbled a little.  Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.

Bake in a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is golden brown on the edges, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.  (I never have toothpicks on hand, so I use half of a dry spaghetti noodle.)

adapted from


Friday, June 24, 2011

Pico de Gallo

I've had a request for some Mexican, which is a great idea for a frugal cooking site.  To be fair, I don't cook true Mexican food, but I love some of the ingredients and combinations.  I love the use of fresh tomatoes and lettuce especially.  My hubby and kids love the cheese and sour cream!

Here's my take on pico de gallo.  It's great in place of salsa, especially if you're watching the sodium.  I even love it on top of a cheese omelette, and it looks lovely!  Adjust the quantities to your family's taste.

Pico de Gallo

2 medium ripe tomatoes, cubed
1/4 medium red onion, diced
1/2 jalapeno, diced, optional
1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix it all together and adjust seasoning.  Refrigerate fifteen minutes, then enjoy!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Roasted Carrots

I have a confession to make.  My favorite part of a making a beef roast is actually the vegetables.  Roasted potatoes, onions, and especially the carrots are so tender and sweet and good for you!  I wanted to try to imitate that taste without the whole beef and crockpot thing and this is what I came up with.  It's definitely worth it!  Give it a'll never want to go back to boiled carrots again.

Roasted Carrots

2 lb. whole carrots
salt and pepper
1 to 2 Tbs. canola or vegetable oil
3 sprigs of thyme, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Peel and cut the ends off the carrots.  Cut each carrot into two to three pieces.  In a small bowl, toss the carrots, salt, pepper, and oil, coating each carrot well.  Put the carrots onto a large piece of aluminum foil and lay the thyme sprigs on top.  Fold up the foil around the carrots, sealing tightly.  Put the packet in a baking dish and roast for between 1 hour and 15 minutes and 1 hour and 30 minutes.  Open carefully...steamy delicousness inside!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Blast From the Past

These days, everyone tries to be a gourmet.  You either know how to cook Tuna Tartare or you don't think you can cook at all.  Ha Ha.  That was a don't cook Tuna Tartare.  Anyway, our grandmas weren't gourmets, yet they knew how to feed their families.  Remember these snacks that used to be hanging around?

Relish trays...My Grandma had a pretty dish of carrots, cucumbers, celery, etc. at every lunch.
Homemade pickles...dill or sweet, gotta love 'em
Celery and Peanut Butter or cream cheese
Toast...the original instant breakfast
Egg Salad...much cheaper and less salty than cold cuts
Deviled eggs...another hubby favorite
Fresh or frozen fruit for dessert
Small juice glasses for orange or grapefruit juice
Bread and butter for sides and snacks

Add some of these to your meals this week.  Most are really good ways to up your fruit and veggie intake, and they're cheap, easy, and tasty.

What are your favorite Blasts From the Past?  Post 'em in the comments...

Monday, June 20, 2011

BBQ cups

This is a favorite of my little brother, Joe, who isn't little anymore...sniff sniff. This is an easy recipe that can be an appetizer or meal.  The biscuits in this recipe aren't the fluffy Grands, they're the super cheap 50 cent 'hockey puck' biscuits.  Look closely...they'll be less than a dollar in the refrigerated section.

BBQ Cups

3/4 lb. ground turkey or ground beef
1/2 bottle barbecue sauce, or more to taste
1 tube of cheapie biscuits
4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Crumble and brown the meat in a skillet.  Add in the barbecue sauce.  You may want to add in a little extra; the mixture should taste very saucy.  Meanwhile, put one biscuit into each cup of a muffin tin.  Smash them down a little.  Divide the barbecue mixture evenly into each cup.  Top with shredded cheese.  Bake 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is lightly browned.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Peaches: Another healthy eat

Next time I have a cold, I'm going to skip the orange juice thing and bust out some of my frozen peaches for a slushie.  Did you know that peaches are a good source of Vitamin C?  They're also loaded with Vitamin A and niacin and are only 65 calories per cup.  That's quite a bit of sweet yumminess for not a lot of caloric consequences.  They're also sweet enough to bake or grill without a lot of added sugar, especially if you buy them bulk from a farm in Georgia...been there, done that.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Freezing Fruit

The clock is ticking and my peaches are getting riper by the minute, but even though I was too disorganized to remember all my freezer jelly supplies, all is not lost.  I have a deep freezer.

Freezing fruit is so easy!  With the peaches, simply peel and slice them and lay them in a single layer on a plastic wrap lined cookie sheet.  Cover with another layer of plastic wrap, then pop it in the freezer.  After the peach slices are frozen, remove the plastic wrap and dump the peach slices in to the container of your choice.  Freezer bags are great, of course, or even an old plastic ice cream tub...or maybe your family doesn't have these laying around like mine does...hmmm.  Anyway, freezing the slices in a single layer 'flash freezes' them, so they don't stick together like a brick.  So then, if you feel like cooking a cobbler or something in September, you can just scoop out as much as you need.  Here's a note.  If you're baking with frozen fruit, you need to defrost it before you throw it in the pie or it will become really watery.  Yes, I learned this from experience.  It's also great for smoothies or slushies as, no peeling and slicing later...a win-win.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Peach Slushies

As you can tell, I am still on my mission to creatively use up the peaches.  I tried this out last night and it was really refreshing.  This is not a smoothie, it's a's supposed to be light and icy, not like whipped up ice cream.  The vanilla really made the it seem kind of creamy.  If you want a little extra uummph, you could add in  a bit of Cool Whip or any left over whipped cream from the rustic peach tart you just made.  Freeze any leftovers for later, but of course if you have children there won't be any.

Peach Slushies

5 medium or 4 large ripe peaches, peeled and cut into chunks
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2-3 Tbs. sugar
10-12 ice cubes

Layer ingredients in the blender in this order and blend until smooth.  This amount makes 2 large slushies or 4 small ones.  Freeze any leftovers.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rustic Peach Tart

This recipe is originally from the King Arthur Flour website.  It's very tasty, but some of the specialty ingredients made it pretty pricey.  I revamped it to make it a little easier and cheaper, but still very tasty.  I'll probably be making this again soon since I recently inherited 25 pounds of peaches!   Eeek!  I better get cooking...

Rustic Peach Tart

1 single pie crust
4 or 5 large ripe peaches, sliced and peeled
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbs. flour
1/2 tsp. lemon juice, optional
1/8 tsp. nutmeg or cinnamon
pinch salt
1/2 cup fresh raspberries

Keep the pie crust in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before rolling.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Whisk together the dry ingredients.  Add the peaches and raspberries, tossing to coat thoroughly.  Add the lemon juice, if using.  Roll the dough to a 14 inch circle.  Trim the edges to form scallop shapes.  Move the crust to a baking sheet or pie pan.  Fill with peach mixture and fold the edges over the edges of the peach mixture.  Bake 30-45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and top with additional fresh raspberries.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Chocolate Berry Trifle

Yes, I was just talking about this, I know.  And yes, I'll probably be making this again very soon.  Why do I feel like I'm confessing? 

This is my wonderful husband's favorite dessert.  I usually make it with fresh raspberries, but it's versatile.  If you're more of a strawberry person, make it with strawberries.  It is full of chocolate wonderfulness and has the added bonus of being one of the prettiest desserts I make.  Try it won't be disappointed.

Chocolate Berry Trifle

3 cups cold milk
2 small pkg. instant chocolate pudding
1 carton of Cool Whip, thawed, divided
1 baked 9" square brownie, cut into 1" cubes
2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened raspberries or strawberries

Pour milk into a large bowl.  Add pudding mixes.  Beat with a wire whisk for 2 minutes.  Gently stir in 1 cup Cool Whip.  Place half of the brownie cubes in a 2 quart serving bowl or trifle dish.  Top with half of the pudding mixture, half of the berries, and 1 cup Cool Whip.  Repeat layers.  Add some whole berries to the top for decoration, if desired.  Refrigerate 1 hour or until serving.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pancakes, mmmmm....

Here is a post from my fellow cheapie, peach-toting, blog-a-holic friend Christine.  She has some great ideas and recipes for keeping things frugal and yummy.  Check out her thoughtful blog when you're done reading here!

The Illusive "Perfect" Pancake

I spent many years looking for the perfect pancake recipe.  Well, let's
backtrack a little.  I have always loved pancakes, but not just any pancake.  I
love pancakes that are light, fluffy and delicious.  What I really want is a
pancake-house style pancake.  What I really don't want, is to pay for a
pancake-hose pancake.  I also really don't want to have to drive and then wait
for that pancake.  What's in a pancake, really?   Flour, milk, sugar, eggs, fat
. . . I can do that, right?

Now, back to the search for the recipe.  For years, I tried pancake recipes.  I
tried them out of a mix, I tried whole wheat, I tried "yeasty" pancakes, but
they didn't live up.  Then one day, my good friend, (good friend being a long
stretch . . .  I watch his shows, he doesn't know I exist)  Alton Brown did a
show on the perfect pancake.  I learned a lot from him.  Turns out, it's not the
recipe, but the method that makes the pancake.  I took what I learned from him,
and then made it more to my taste.   This is the method, as I have tweaked it
for me.


1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar, heaped
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

1 egg, separated
1 cup milk
2 tsp margarine (or butter), melted

You will need to amass a large array of bowls, two whisks and a griddle for this
project.  Sounds like a lot, yes, but it's worth it. 

First, whisk the dry ingredients into a large bowl.  Whisk and whisk some more
until they are fully integrated. 

Next, separate your egg(s) into two more separate (but smaller) bowls.  Beat the
yolk with a whisk or fork.  Then take the melted margarine (I know it's not good
for you, but they make the lightest, fluffiest pancakes)  and drizzle it into
the yolk slowly while still whisking.  Don't go too fast.  You are making an
emulsification.   You can see Alton Brown's work for the full scientific
explanation, but in short, you are mixing the fat with the protein.  When they
are fully mixed, add the whites back in and mix thoroughly.  Now, add in the
milk and whisk again. 

You now have two bowls left standing.  One holds the dry ingredients, the other
the wet.  Please make a well in your dry ingredients.  Pour the wet ingredients
into the dry and mix with your largest whisk.  Incorporate the dry stuff from
the sides.  Please stop mixing well before the batter is smooth.  You should see
lumps, lots of little lumps.  Leave them be, they make the pancakes, and in turn
you very, very happy.

The griddle should have been turned on before you mixed the dry and wet
ingredients.  You are looking for the griddle to be around 350 degrees.  When
you flick a few droplets of water on the griddle, they should "dance" across the
griddle until they evaporate.

Now that both the griddle and the batter are ready, pour the batter in small
circles on the griddle.  I like to make a row of three pancakes on top, and a
row of two on the bottom to leave room to flip the pancakes easily.  Look for
the bubbles on the pancakes to pop and not fill completely and the edges to
appear "dry".  Then, you know you can flip the pancakes.  Watch them on the
second side, they will "steam" when they are ready to flip.  You can even lift
them a little to look for that perfect, golden color.  Now, plate those pancakes
and pour a little syrup over them and enjoy. 

I must admit that one batch is never enough for my family of five.  I usually
make a quadruple batch.  That makes enough for one large meal, and then I freeze
the rest for the kids to have for other breakfasts.  The re-heated pancakes do
loose some of the light, fluffy texture, but who are we kidding, the kids just
really want the syrup!  Go forth, make pancakes and enjoy!


Alton Brown's original "Perfect Pancake"

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Raspberries: A Healthy Eat

I just realized that raspberries are on sale this week, so we're stocking up for a while.  There's nothing so tasty as a ripe, sweet raspberry!  Have you thought about how healthy they are for you and your family?  They are full of vitamin C and are really packed with antioxidants.  They are one of the best sources of fiber, which of course aids in digestion and makes you feel full.  They're also really concentrated with folic acid, which is great during pregnancy.  The red varieties have more health benefits than the yellow or other pale varieties, but they do look so pretty put together.  Of course, it is okay to forgo all these health benefits by using them to make a chocolate raspberry trifle or something (ahem...another reason to stock up), not that I'm condoning that or anything...

My kids love to stick their fingers inside that handy indentation on top, which is not nearly as messy as you would think it'd be.  It's a great snack...try it out.  Health and flavor are a hard combo to beat.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Turkey Chili

I have a confession to make.  Yes, I live here in the Cincinnati area, but I really don't like Cinci-style chili.  To me, a chili should be savory and hearty and beany, but definitely not sweet.  It's one of my dark, dark secrets living here in chili parlor central.  By the way, does anyone not from Cincinnati even know what a chili parlor is?  I'm sure I've never heard of it before moving here.

So, anyway, here is our stand-by chili recipe.  It's not hot, but you could certainly amp it up with some hot sauce, or by adding in some hotter fresh chilis with the onion.  We always use ground turkey with ours and whatever beans we happen to have on hand.  I know this is a little out of season, too, but my Mom lost the recipe and I'm too lazy to mail it!

Turkey Chili

2 Tbs. canola oil or cooking spray
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1/2 cup chopped green or red pepper or hot peppers to taste
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups canned tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato soup
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 Tbs. chili powder
1 clove garlic, minced or 1 tsp. powder
1 tsp. salt
1 can kidney beans, black beans, or red beans, undrained
     OR 1 1/4 cups cooked beans with 1 cup cooking liquid

Brown the meat, peppers, and onion in the oil or cooking spray.  Add the tomatoes, soup, paprika, and chili powder.  Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour (or you can pop it in the crock pot at this point).  Add in the garlic, salt and beans with liquid.  Heat thoroughly.  Great with cheese on top.  My kids love to add a bit of sweet corn to it, too, but that's just a family quirk, I think. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Roasted Beets

I have a soft spot for beets.  It's part of my Polish heritage, I think.  My hubby doesn't.  In fact, when I made them last night, he told this horrifying story of from his childhood about not getting to swim until he finished his beet.  He almost was traumatizing!  That's okay.  That means there's more left for me.  I always thought fresh beets would be tricky to cook for some reason.  Roasting them is easy, and makes them absolutely divine!  Sigh...I could eat these every day.

Roasted Beets

3 medium beets
1 to 2 Tbs. canola or vegetable oil
1 sprig of rosemary, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Peel the beets.  Be careful, they will bleed a little!  Cut each beet into 6-8 chunks.  Mine were roughly the size of orange segments.  Put them in a bowl and add salt, pepper, and oil.  Toss to coat each piece.  Lay a piece of aluminum foil on the counter and pour the beets right in the center.  Put the rosemary sprig whole on top, if using.  Wrap the aluminum around the beets and close tightly.  Put in a baking dish and cook for between 1 hour and 15 minutes and 1 hour and 30 minutes.  Open carefully and enjoy that sweet deliciousness!

Friday, June 3, 2011

A note on Growing...

I know it's becoming kind of a faddish thing, but 'tis the season for planting and growing.  You don't have to truly have a green thumb to be a successful vegetable gardener.  You don't have to put in expensive planters and buy $200 worth of Scott's garden soil.  Try a bucket, or pot, or big ice cream tub.  Find a big container that has some drainage, or bust a few holes in the bottom, fill it with dirt, and plant away. 

I'm a messy and very scattered gardener.  I randomly plant things a few at a time, and quite often forget to water or weed, and even I'm successful.  Here is what we have growing right now...

Beefsteak tomatoes
Moby grape tomatoes
Romaine lettuce
Green leaf lettuce
Red leaf lettuce
Summer Squash
Green Peppers
Keep in mind that herbs and leaf lettuce can grow in a smaller pot in your windowsill all year long.  Fresh herbs are expensive, but they do add a lot of flavor.  Buy a packet of seeds for 99 cents, plant a little every couple of weeks, and you can have fresh herbs all year long.  Keep it simple and start small, and you'll be surprised how much money you can save and how exciting it is to grow something yourself.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's that time again...

If you've got any breakfast recipes you'd like to share, post them in the comments today!