Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Salad Dressing

2 recipes I use often

1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp chives (dry or fresh)
1 tbsp parsley (dry or fresh)
1 tsp dill weed
1/4 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

mix well, allow to set overnite to thicken. depending on the degree of spiciness you like in your dressing, you may have to adjust the spices - the marjoram and dill are the most potent in this recipe, those are the ones I would monkey with first.

Raspberry Vinagrette

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

mix well, again, depending on the sweet/tart ratio you prefer, you may need to make those adjustments.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Junk Mail Coupons

I have put a little extra thought into this one. Printing coupons online does cost money, a few cent, but nevertheless, it's still money. One way to cut down on the cost of your coupons is to use junk mail, old mail, etc. For instance, the letters you get asking for help in promoting McCain or Obama are usually printed on one side only, so why not use the other side. This way, you save on the paper that you have to purchase for your coupons and that cuts down the cost of printing your coupon. Also, it reuses the junk mail paper in a creative way so as not produce more waste than needed.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Homemade Bread

If you have never tried it, please do, it is worth it!

My basic recipe:

2 cups warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
6 cups bread flour

combine water, yeast, sugar and salt and mix well then let sit until proofed (puffy bubbles will form). add flour 1 cup at a time and either stir by hand or in your mixer. If stirring by hand, when the dough gets too stiff to stir, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead while adding the rest of the flour a little at the time. If using a mixer, when the dough gets stiff and still sticky, switch from your flat beater to your dough hook. Knead dough until it is as smooth as a baby's behind. Place in a well-oiled bowl, turn to coat both sides with oil, cover with a damp cloth and put in a warm spot (about 90-100 degrees) and allow to rise until doubled (about and hour). Punch down. separate into 2 equal pieces and knead each piece for a couple of minutes then shape in 2 9x5 loaf pans. cover again and allow to rise about 30 minutes more. Place in a 425 degree oven for 10 minutes, then switch to 350 for 20 minutes without opening the door. Cool on racks.

Now granted, there are a million variations of bread, and I have made a ton of them, but a good old fashioned plain loaf is really tasty some days.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


This is one area where I am not exceedingly creative. My husband loves plain old white rice with salt and butter, he also loves it cooked just a little on the sticky side. I love basmati rice or wild rice. My youngest son will eat just about any type or flavor of rice and my oldest son won't touch rice with a ten foot pole. The problem is, about 4 months ago, I bought a 25lb bag of plain white rice from Sam's just before it's price went up, I think I paid about .20 a pound. Anyway, I have a lots of rice left and only a few ways I normally use it: white rice with butter, rice pilaf, fried rice and in a casserole.

I NEED IDEAS! PLEASE HELP! leave an idea or a recipe in the comments section please!!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Small Machines

I have 2 small machines in my kitchen that enable me to make the most of both my time and my food. They are the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer and the Kitchen Aid Food Processor.

Things I probably would not make homemade as often if it were not for the Stand Mixer:
5)whipped cream
6)pizza dough
7)experiment recipes

Things I probably would not make homemade as often if it were not for the Food Processor:
2)hash browns
3)pie dough
5)crumb topping

Now, I am not saying that everyone should go out and spend $500 buying both machines, but when you get the opportunity, check them out and see if they would be helpful to you and your lifestyle and goals. If so, maybe consider it as a gift option.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Sam's Club

I normally do not make special trips just to go to Sam's Club because of the distance and when you add in the cost of gas, it means the 'deals' are no longer deals. However, I had to go to the town the Sams is at to renew my CPR, and I went and I loved it. You do still have to be careful that what you're getting is actually a deal, but for the things that are cheaper, you can't beat it. For instance, gas is usually about 8-10 cent a gallon cheaper, butter is 7.68 for a 4 lb. pack, and gatorade is about 2/3 the price of Food Lion, and my hubby drinks a ton of gatorade. I also bout a 2 1/2lb bag of nestle chocolate chips for 7.28 along with 80/20 ground beef for 2.48/lb. I was happy and now there are more things in my inventory to do my meal planning from.

Remember, making a special trip just to go to a particular store cuts into your savings, but going to a special store because you have to be in the area anyway just means more savings for you in the long run.

You also have to consider the long term savings of buying at clubs like Sams. They sell in bulk, and if you are going to use it without a problem, then you save in the long run. If you are not going to use it and there will be a bit of waste, you have to calculate whether or not you're actually saving anything.

Just food and ideas and my personal reasonings for your consideration.

Adios amigos!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Fish Cakes

I saw Rachael Ray do this on one of her shows about a week ago. She took some plain fish, poached it in a little salt water, then flaked it, added egg, mayo and seasoning (I used Emeril's Byou Blast), then pan fried the little cakes in a little Olive Oil until browned. Presto, dinner. I did it with leftover flounder and also added a bit of hot sauce - yummy and good way to use up leftover fish, or just fish out of the freezer that you don't feel like deep frying.

Fish thaws pretty quickly, so this can be done from frozen pretty easily.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Your Flowerbed Plan

I have a flowerbed in my front yard. In the 7 years I have lived in this house, this year has been the first year that I have really cared about it, and it has returned the favor to me. In the spring, I planted rosemary, basil, oregano, parsley, bell peppers and grape tomatoes in the flowerbed because I use them so much and they herbs cost a lot of money to buy every couple of weeks. So, for about 1.75 per plant, I now have as much basil, oregano and parsley as I want, my rosemary sprigs were a gift that my uncle gave me and I now have 2 thriving bushes. The bell pepper plant has so far yielded 4 large delicious peppers, and #5 & #6 are growing. My grape tomato plant is large with probably 300 little tomatoes on it at various stages of growth and development.

Today's lesson: Plan next years flower bed to include often used herbs and veggies to save money, time and increase nutrition because you can choose to grow them pesticide free!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

15 uses for the potato

I went to the grocery store tonight with a friend and we talked about rotten potatoes. Let's face it, the bags of potatoes we buy in the grocery store do not last long, so you have to use them up fast, but not wear your family out on them either. So I started thinking of how many ways one could make potatoes in order to use them up before they rot (very wasteful), but not make your crew sick of mashed potatoes (as if ANYONE could get sick of mashed potatoes).

1) mashed potatoes: I make mine with salt, pepper, milk, sour cream
2) potato cakes: take 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes and add 1 cup flour, 2 eggs, 1tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1tsp sugar, about 1/2 cup milk or buttermilk (to pancake mix consistency), cook just like small pancakes in hot cast iron pan with a little oil, drain well, serve smeared with a little butter
3) au gratin: sliced potatoes, bechamel (roux, whole milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg)
4) cheesy: sliced potatoes, bechamel, shredded cheddar
5) home fries: sliced potatoes, diced onion, pressed garlic, diced peppers, oil, salt, pepper, hot cast iron pan
6) baked potato
7) twice baked potato (cheesy style for me)
8) homemade french fries
9) roasted with salt, pepper, butter, rosemary
10) hash browns
11) soup
12) homemade potato chips
13) potato bread
14) gnocchi
15) pierogis

Can you think of more?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Homemade Yogurt

Okay, this may be a stretch for some folks, and even if it's not your bag, I implore you to just consider the possibilities of just how many items in the store we consider to be 'too difficult to make at home' that are actually quite easy.

Homemade Yogurt

4 cups milk (your choice of fat quantity or type)
2 tablespoons yogurt or a package of yogurt starter

Scald milk (185 degreees if you have a thermometer, if not, it's that point where the milk is steaming but not boiling). Remove pan from hot burner and allow to cool to 110. Add starter or 2 tablespoons of commercial yogurt (this is where you get your good bacteria from). Keep at a constant temperature between 90-110 degrees for about 4 hours, or until the yogurt firms. I do this with a crock pot. Turn it on the warm setting for a few minutes (maybe 10 - depending on the type of crock pot you have) and then back off for 45min to an hour or so).

Yes, this is something that has to be watched - no that you have to be right on top of it, but you may not want to make it on the day you're going to Sam's Club, pick a rainy day when you're going to be home anyway to give it a try.

Why the commercial yogurt? Commercial yogurt has the good bacteria already bred in it, and it's easier to find than yogurt starter, unless you have a plethera of health food stores around.

I sweeten mine with homemade strawberry jam, or with honey and I add homemade granola for heartiness.

If you want to flavor and sweeten prior to setting, add those ingredients at the very beginning.

****I'm adding this addendum after an excellent reader question.

Okay, after the four hour curing period, it should be the firmness of commercial yogurt. If it's a little thin, don't worry, you can leave it to cure for up to 7-8 hours. Lowfat milk takes a little longer to set than whole. After it has set you just refrigerate and eat in within a couple of weeks.

You can also either put it in cups as a liquid and cure in the cups in a warm water bath, or you can just cure the whole batch and separate into cups later. I personally put it into cups first. Since you are not using high heat during the curing process, Rubbermaid or like style containers will do just fine. If you wash an reuse butter, cool-whip and other such containers, they work fine too. I've tried them all!

Also, the yogurt will thicken just a bit more once it gets cold in the fridge.As I side note, this is what I usually do with older milk - not spoiled milk, but the milk that has a few days on it and I want to start a fresh gallon for drinking. The scalding process kills off bad bacteria, but it won't work on milk that has already spoiled.This is also a good thing to do with your leftover milk if you're going out of town for a few days and don't want to waste your milk!