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