Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Am I frugal or just being cheap?

This is a question I have had to ask myself on more than one occasion, "Am I being frugal or am I just being cheap?"  The other day as I was cleaning out my cabinets, I noticed that I had several bags of "bulk" items that should be in canisters or tubs.  My first thought was that I needed to run to the Dollar Store and get some more knock-off Rubbermaid containers, buying store brand is frugal right, but then I remembered that hubby had several plastic coffee cans in the garage that he wasn't using.  So being of the mindset to re-use or re-purpose if possible, I snatched several from the garage and used them to make my bulk containers.  Now according to Pinterest, I can get spray paint and decorate them to match my kitchen, but I don't see the need to do that.  They are doing their job.  So tonight I dragged down my "new" canisters and pulled out my elbow macaroni to make this dish.

Broccoli Pasta


  • 1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1 lg. crown broccoli
  • ½ med onion
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2.5 cups milk
  • 8 oz. (2 cups) sharp cheddar, shredded
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • to taste salt and pepper 


  1. Get a large pot of salted water on to boil. Rinse the broccoli well and cut it into small florets.
  2. The pasta and broccoli will be cooked in the same pot to save on dishes and time. When the water comes to a full boil, add the pasta. Set a timer for 8 minutes then add the broccoli. Cook the pasta and broccoli for two minutes more and then pour everything into a colander to drain. Set them aside until ready to add to the cheese sauce.
  3. While the pasta and broccoli are doing their thing, you can begin the cheese sauce. Finely dice the onion and cook with butter over medium heat until softened (about 2-3 minutes).
  4. Add the flour to the butter and onion. The flour and butter will form a paste like mixture (roux). Using a whisk, stir and cook the roux for 1-2 minutes more taking care not to let it scorch. This slightly cooks the flour preventing the cheese sauce from having an overly flour or paste like flavor.
  5. Add the milk and whisk well to dissolve all of the flour clumps. Add freshly cracked black pepper at this point. Bring the mixture up to a simmer (you may need to raise the heat just slightly). When the sauce reaches a simmer, it will begin to thicken. When it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, it’s time to add the cheese.
  6. Turn the burner off and whisk in the shredded cheese (and parmesan if using) until it is fully melted in. Give the cheese sauce a taste and add salt, pepper to taste.
  7. Once you have the cheese sauce seasoned to your liking, stir in the cooked and drained pasta and broccoli.
As written it was very bland, however after tasting this I added some garlic powder and seasoned salt.

Adapted from Stunning corner


Monday, December 29, 2014

Baking Marathon

In the month of January, we plan on eating only from our pantry and freezer.  I know that we will have to purchase a few food items like eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables, etc.  We will make a stock up trip to Aldi before the new year but after that the words "grocery store" will be four letter words.  So to prepare the family for pantry eating, I decided to experiment this weekend to see if I could make enough snacks to last them for a week.  As a side note, my husband and son both suffer from a sweet tooth.  During my marathon baking session, I used a five pound bag of flour and ended up with strawberry muffins, a loaf of strawberry bread, two loaves of zucchini bread, a pan of brownies, five dozen chocolate chip cookies, two medium sized bread bowls and five yeast rolls. 

These chocolate chip cookies are some of the best cookies I have ever made.  I have used several recipes over the years and always return to this recipe.  I think the secret to these cookies lies in the fact that you mix instant pudding powder into the batter.  These cookies stay soft and yummy.

Amazing Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies


4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 (3.4 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups semisweet chocolate chips


1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside.
2.In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
3.Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Edges should be golden brown.

Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Sunday, December 28, 2014

It Tastes Like Spring

We were watching TV on Christmas Day when an advertisement showed some fresh strawberries. DH looked at me and said "I'd like you to get some strawberries out of the freezer and make something with them."  Well that's a pretty broad category, "Something".  I've made mixed berry cobblers with them before, but I wanted to try a new recipe.  This morning I finally got the frozen berries out and well, the rest is history.

Do you know the muffin man?
The muffin man, the muffin man.
Do you know the muffin man
Who lives on Drury Lane?

Strawberry Muffins

1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 3/4 cup flour
1 cup chopped strawberries
1 tsp of cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oil an 8 cup muffin tin, or use paper liners.
  2. In a small bowl, combine oil, milk, and egg. Beat lightly. In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Toss in chopped strawberries and stir to coat with flour. Pour in milk mixture and stir together. 
  3. Fill muffin cups. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 25 minutes, or until the tops bounce back from the touch. Cool 10 minutes and remove from pans.
If you are using frozen strawberries, let them thaw just a little bit, then chop them up.

Adapted from allrecipes.com

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls

This is the best cinnamon roll recipe I have ever tried.  I only thought that I would be able to make the biscuit type rolls, never the yeast rolls until a friend posted a picture of these on facebook.  When I asked her for the recipe, she directed me to Money Saving Mom and the bread machine cinnamon rolls.  I've made them with the glaze recipe provided and also with cream cheese icing.  They are amazing either way.

Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls


1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm milk
3 tablespoons oil
1 egg, lightly beaten plus 2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups flour (Add a bit more if dough seems too wet after first few minutes of kneading in the bread machine.)
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons yeast


2 tablespoons butter
 1/3 cup brown sugar  and 1/3 cup white sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon cinnamon

I doubled the filling recipe, but didn't use quite the whole mix, so I just stuck in the cabinet for the next time I made these.


1 teaspoon milk
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
4 tablespoons (or less) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

Put the dough ingredients in the bread machine in the order listed and run on the dough cycle. After the dough cycle is finished, roll the dough into a large rectangle and spread it with 2 Tablespoons melted butter and 2/3 cup brown sugar mixed with 1 Tablespoon cinnamon.
Roll up and cut into 10-15 rolls and place in two greased round cake pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or until browned. Spread the icing on as soon as they come out of the oven.
You can also cover the unbaked rolls with plastic wrap, stick them in the refrigerator overnight, and then bake in the morning.

Adapted from:  Money Saving Mom

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Easy Ratatouille

The garden is going crazy, so now's the time for vegetable based main dishes. I am writing this as I made it, however, if or when I make it again, I'm going to do something to thicken the tomato sauce since I served it over hot noodles and I will allow a little more time for cooking the vegetables because DH doesn't like his warm veggies to have a "crunch" when he bites into them, me I don't care.

Easy Ratatouille 


2 tablespoons oil
1 small onion, peeled and diced (1/2 in.)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, crushed
8 ounces Asian eggplant, rinsed and diced (3/4 in.)
About 1/2 teaspoon salt
About 1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 medium red, yellow, orange, and/or green bell peppers, rinsed, stemmed, seeded, and diced (1/2 in.) 8 ounces zucchini, rinsed, ends trimmed, and diced (1/2 in.)
8 ounces yellow summer squash, rinsed, ends trimmed, and diced (1/2 in.)
 1 tablespoon dried basil


1. In a 12-inch frying pan with sides at least 2 inches tall, or a 5- to 6-quart pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and stir frequently until onion is limp, about 5 minutes. 2. Add tomatoes (with juice), eggplant, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 cup water, and 1 tablespoon dried basil and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is soft when pierced, about 10 minutes.
3. Stir in bell peppers, zucchini, and yellow squash. Return to a simmer, cover, and cook until squash is tender when pierced, 8 to 10 minutes longer.
Serve over hot noodles of your choice and top with italian blend of cheeses.

Adapted from: My Recipes

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Skillet Stuffed Peppers

I will state this about this recipe, my family found it better as leftovers. It actually tasted like stuffed peppers the second day since the flavors got to mesh, the first night it was more like spanish rice with hamburger. I think this might also be good as a filling for burritos. Also, since I have home canned tomatoes, I used a quart of home canned whole tomatoes, crushed, along with the juice instead of a can of whole tomatoes and a can of chicken broth, it was just what I had on hand. I think you just need the liquid to cook the rice.


•2 tablespoon of oil
•2 tsp of garlic minced garlic
•2 Bell Peppers, any color
•½ of a medium onion
•1 pound of extra-lean ground beef
•1 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes
•1 14 oz can of low-sodium chicken broth
•1 8oz can of tomato sauce
•1 teaspoon of kosher salt and pepper to taste
•1 teaspoon of soy sauce •1 cup of long uncooked, extra long grain rice
•1 cup of shredded jack cheese


1.Start by dicing two cloves of garlic, ½ of a medium onion, and two bell peppers. Reserve some of the diced bell peppers to sprinkle on top.
2.Saute peppers, onions and garlic in two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.
3.Once the peppers and onions have started to soften, increase heat to medium high and add one pound of extra lean ground beef to the pan.
4.Season with one teaspoon of kosher salt and several turns of fresh pepper.
5.Once the ground beef is cooked, add chicken broth, the can of whole tomatoes (chopped), tomato sauce, and soy sauce.
6.Bring the tomato mixture up to a simmer, then stir in one cup of uncooked extra long grain rice. 7.Cover the pan with a lid and reduce the heat down to low.
8.Let mixture cook 20-30 minutes, or until rice is tender.
9.At the 20 minute mark, start stirring the pan occasionally so the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
10.One rice is tender, sprinkle the cheese on top.
11.Cover the pan with the lid to let the cheese melt.

Adapted from:  www.number-2-pencil.com

Friday, July 25, 2014

Skillet Eggplant Parmesan

We love eggplant parmesan around our house. DH makes sure to plant eggplant in the garden every year. I love this recipe because I didn't have to turn the oven on and heat up the house.


2 eggs
1pkg. (8 oz) Italian Panko Bread Crumbs
 2 eggplants (1-1/2 lb.), each sliced crosswise
 2 tablespoons of oil 1 jar of spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups of Italian blend cheese


  1. BEAT eggs in shallow dish until blended. Empty coating mix into separate shallow dish. Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in coating mix, turning to evenly coat both sides of each slice. Gently press coating mix into eggplant slices to secure. Spray both sides of eggplant slices with cooking spray.  
  2. BRUSH 2 tsp. oil onto bottom of large skillet; heat on medium heat. Add 1/3 of the eggplant; cook 1 to 2 min. on each side or until crisp and evenly browned. Transfer to plate. Repeat with remaining oil and eggplant. 
  3.  MIX spaghetti sauce and water; spread 3/4 cup onto bottom of skillet. Cover with layers of 1/3 of the eggplant, 3/4 cup of the remaining sauce and 1/2 cup cheese; repeat layers. Top with remaining eggplant and sauce; cover. 
  4. COOK on medium-low heat 20 to 25 min. or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, 5 min. or until cheese is melted. 
 Adapted from Kraft Recipes

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Zucchini Casserole

Zucchini Casserole

1 large zucchini, with seeds removed, sliced thin
1 medium onion, sliced
1 sleeve of round butter crackers, crushed
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Place squash, onion, and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat. Pour in a small amount of water. Cover, and cook until squash is tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well, and place in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together cracker crumbs and cheese. Stir half of the cracker mixture into the cooked squash and onions. In a small bowl, mix together eggs and milk, then add to squash mixture. Stir in 1/4 cup melted butter, and season with salt and pepper. Spread out evenly into the baking dish.  Sprinkle with remaining cracker mixture, and dot with 2 tablespoons butter. 
    1. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.
      Adapted from Allrecipes.com

        Wednesday, April 23, 2014

        Cheddar Herb Biscuits

        2 cups biscuit mix
        2/3 cup milk
        1/2 cup shredded Marble Cheddar
        3 tablespoons margarine
        1/8 tsp garlic powder
        1/4 tsp oregano

        1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
        2. Stir biscuit, milk and cheese until dough forms a soft ball.  Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
        3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.
        4. Melt margarine.  Mix in oregano and garlic.  Brush or spoon over the tops of the warm biscuits. 
        Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker

        Tuesday, April 15, 2014

        Quick Asian Skillet

        This was a recipe that I found this weekend and we had most of the ingredients at home which made it very desirable.

        Quick Asian Skillet

        2 packages of chicken flavored ramen noodles
        16 oz bag of frozen stir fry vegetables
        1 lb of pork tenderloin
        3/4 cup honey
        1/4 cup soy sauce
        1 tablespoon oil

        1. Prepare ramen noodles according to package directions and set aside.  Pour oil in a large skillet and place over medium heat.  Add frozen vegetables and cook, stirring often until veggies are tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Set aside.
        2. In same skillet, place meat  Cook until browned, about 6 minutes.  
        3. While meat is cooking, stir honey and soy sauce together until blended.
        4. Remove meat from skillet and slice into strips or medallions.  Return to skillet and pour sauce over the meat.  Lower heat to medium and cook, flipping occasionally.  Cook about 10 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.
        5. Remove meat.  Add vegetables and noodles and stir to coat with sauce.  Place meat on top of noodles and serve hot.  
        Adapted from southernplate.com

        Sunday, April 13, 2014

        Easy Taco Tamale Pie

        Blogging has not been on my list of most important  things to do in the past few months, but I've tried out several new recipes and found a few that I wanted to share over the next couple of weeks.  I used a cast iron skillet so that this dish became a one  pan meal.

        This taco tamale pie is one that look interesting, but after reading the reviews on the website, I knew that I wanted to change it up.

        Easy Taco Tamale Pie

        1 pound ground beef
        1 can whole kernel corn, drained
        1 can chili beans
        1 can tomatoes with chilies
         1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
        2 boxes or packages of corn muffin mix
        1 packet taco seasoning mix
        3/4 cup hot water

        1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Cook the beef in a 10 inch cast iron skillet until it is is browned, add the taco seasoning packet, can of corn, can of beans, hot water, and tomatoes.  Simmer.
        2. Prepare the corn muffin mix according to package directions.  
        3. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over the meat mixture.
        4. Spoon the muffin mix over the top of the cheese and meat.  Gently smooth out the surface of the mix.
        5. Bake in preheated over for 25 minutes or until the corn muffin topping is golden brown.
          Adapted from Campbell's Kitchen

        Wednesday, January 8, 2014

        Easy Cheesy Beef Broccoli Stroganoff

        Last night we needed something quick and easy, I had to work late and had a call scheduled from college.  Hubby was getting himself and our son ready to take his mom to visit with her sick brother.  So it was another hectic Tuesday night.  Checking my e-mail, I found a recipe that looked interesting, but also looked like it could be improved a little bit.   Much better than hamburger helper and just as easy. So here's my take.

        Easy Cheesy Beef Broccoli Stroganoff 


        1 lb ground beef
        1 12 oz bag of frozen chopped broccoli
        2 cups water
        3 cups egg noodles, uncooked (about 1/2 of a 12 oz bag)
        1/2 lb Velveeta, cut into small cubes
        1/2 medium onion, chopped
        1 can cream of mushroom soup
        salt and pepper to taste


        1. Brown meat  and onion in large skillet; salt and pepper to taste; drain.
        2. While meat is cooking, heat broccoli, about 1/2 the time recommended on the package.
        3. Stir in water,bring to boil. Add noodles and broccoli.  Cover and simmer on medium-low heat until noodles and broccoli are tender.
        4. Add Velveeta, soup and more pepper; cook an additional 5 minutes or until Velveeta is melted and mixture is blended.  Stir frequently.
        I used ground venison, so I would recommend a low fat ground meat.  Additionally, you could use whatever vegetables you had on hand.  I think this would be great with frozen peas and canned mushrooms.

        Recipe adapted from:Kraft Recipes

        Sunday, January 5, 2014

        Breakfast Bowl Casserole

        Watching the morning news, hubby saw an advertisement for breakfast bowls and thought they looked really good.  I'm a cheapskate, plus I'm not a huge fan of buying frozen foods, maybe some frozen veggies or a frozen pizza for a quick dinner, but usually we don't each much frozen prepared foods.  After looking at the bowls, I figured I could make them pretty easily.  The first time I tried to make them, the sausage was overcooked by the time the potatoes were done, so I thought, let's try a breakfast casserole and see if it works.

        Here's my take on the Breakfast Bowl, a breakfast bowl casserole, chocked full of sausage, potatoes, peppers, onions, cheese and eggs.  Sometimes hubby eats this with topped with salsa.


        1 lb ground breakfast sausage
        2 cups chopped potatoes
        1/2 green bell pepper
        1 medium onion
        1 cup grated cheese (I used a cheddar & jack mixture)
        4 eggs
        1 cup biscuit mix (Bisquick or Jiffy Mix)
        2 cups milk
        1 to 2 Tbsp oil
        salt, pepper, and garlic powder


        1.  Chop potatoes into small pieces, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch. 
        2.  Heat oil in large skillet, add potatoes and sausage, cooking about 5 minutes.
        3.  Add pepper and onion. Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.  Cook until sausage is brown and potatoes are starting to turn golden brown.
        4.  Pour into a prepared 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
        5.  Top with grated cheese.
        6.  Mix biscuit mix, eggs and milk.  Pour mixture over the sausage/potato mixture.
        7.  Bake 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

        Recipe adapted from: Cooks.com

        Wednesday, January 1, 2014

        German Chocolate Surprise

        I love using cake mixes to make fabulous cakes and this cake is no exception. The first time I had this cake was when a co-worker brought it in for someone's birthday. I took a taste and said, "I think I taste coconut in this cake." She said that I did and then I ask her what the nut was that I couldn't identify and she told me the secret to this cake. It was why I have called this cake, German Chocolate Surprise Cake, you dump a can of German Chocolate Cake Frosting into the cake mix and bake it. I wanted to share this cake with everyone because it is a huge hit at my house. I made it on Sunday evening and by Monday morning, it was gone.


        1 German Chocolate Cake Mix and the ingredients to make it
        1 can or carton of German Chocoalate Cake frosting
        1 can of Chocolate Frosting


        1. Preheat oven and mix cake according to package directions.
         2. Once the cake is well mixed, dump in the can of German Chocolate frosting and mix well.
        3. Place in prepared bundt cake pan.
        4. Bake according to package directions.
        5. Once the cake is cooled, remove from pan.
        6. Microwave can of chocolate frosting for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until the frosting is runny. Using a spoon, drizzle the chocolate frosting over the cake. Hint: If this is just too much chocolate for your taste, you can also sprinkle with powder sugar instead of drizzling with chocolate frosting.

        Additionally, when making cakes, I usually subsitute applesauce for the oil that is called for in the directions. It makes a much moister cake and adds a lot less fat to the overall recipe.